Why Working Out Isn’t Working Out with Darryl Edwards – Part 2

In part one of my conversation with Darryl Edwards, we explored his journey from ill health to celebrating his body with playful movement.

The second half of our conversation was just as fascinating, but we turned our attention to how we might cure an illness which is plaguing us worldwide and has done for many years – racism and the injustices that arise from it.

Our conversation was open and honest. Frankly, these are the conversations we all need to start having if we want to rid the world of racism, and create a genuinely fair and just world. If we can do that, we will all see the benefits.

Read on to learn more about Darryl’s experiences of racism, what’s changed and what hasn’t, and the reasons he feels optimistic.

The racism Darryl has experienced

It didn’t take long for Darryl to first experience prejudice based on nothing more than the colour of his skin.

“I grew up in a very multicultural environment – I wasn’t really aware of cultural differences, I knew there were certain things that were different to my neighbours, but I just felt like another human being.”

“It was when I went to primary school, at 5 or 6 years old, I do remember another kid using a racial slur. I went home to my parents and explained what happened.” With a sigh, Darryl recalled his parents explaining: “Son, this is what happens and it’s going to continue to happen and we’re not always going to be there to help you navigate this, but here are some realities you need to be aware of. Here is your history.”

Darryl left university with exceptional qualifications and was ready to apply himself in the working world. He recalled his parents saying to him: “Work hard, get your education, and you can do whatever you want…” but “doors were slammed in my face left right and centre.”

Darryl acknowledges that struggling to get work isn’t always about race, but when being promised a job over the phone and then being turned away when they saw his face, it’s hard to believe he was on a level playing field.

And it didn’t change as he found more professional success. He would be stopped just as often driving his Aston Martin as he was driving a beaten-up old Rover. Even to this day, Darryl finds himself being singled out by security guards in shops.

Things have changed…but racism has stayed the same

Darryl readily admits that we’ve made progress and the landscape has shifted, “It is easier for someone like myself to progress in many ways than it was before, no doubt about it.”

He sees this in personal interactions with friends, colleagues, and strangers, “It would be ludicrous to say that every white person I meet is racist. I certainly know if I went back 50 years, there’d be far more overt displays of racism. The National Front marched in front of my house when I was a kid. That doesn’t happen to me now, so there’s significant progress.”

But whilst individual perceptions of race, racism, and justice have shifted, there are still deeper-rooted issues that show no signs of abating – yet.

“What hasn’t changed so much is this systemic racism – the bias, the things that mean I am more likely to get stopped when I am driving my car, I am likely to be questioned walking down the street.”

Darryl has to consider when and where he goes on runs, after experiences of being stopped by police in the past, with incidents like this occurring “so many times.”

“There is loads of research out there that shows exactly the same CVs with the names changed” and, incredibly, the CVs that use foreign-sounding names perform worse than those with familiar names.

“It is not about an individual’s actions, this is about the fabric, the DNA of our history that affects us today.”

Darryl’s reasons for optimism in the fight against racism

Whilst Darryl is firm in his belief that racism is still prevalent and affecting us in our day-to-day lives, he is “optimistic”.

“I feel, on this occasion, this is the first time that I’ve witnessed more uncomfortable conversations.”

Darryl referred back to our conversation in part one: “It’s a bit like our health and wellness chat earlier, about embracing discomfort and the challenge of taking the difficult path. There’s more of that happening now… We probably wouldn’t have had this conversation a year ago.”

These conversations and people’s willingness to engage in them indicates a deeper consideration for the change that we need to make as a population.

Darryl believes it’s something of a moment of reckoning, “Those who will always continue to feel the way they do will probably continue to feel that way, those who have always wanted to champion this have got even more reason to feel as if it’s worth doing, and those who are on the fence are fed up of getting splinters and decide to follow what’s right for humanity.”

Can I set you a challenge?

You don’t have to accept it, but I’d love it if you do consider it.

Have a conversation like this.

Ask someone you know if they feel ready and up for a difficult conversation about race, about racism, and the part we all play in these systems that oppress people for completely unjust reasons.

Just a with our health, the only way we’re going to make the progress we so desperately need to make is if we start doing what’s difficult.

On the other side of difficulty is health, wealth, and happiness.

Interviews with Game Changers

I have had the opportunity to interview the worlds leading minds on business, health and mindset. You can read the highlights of my podcast interviews by clicking here

Read Game Changers Now

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The Scale Without Burnout podcast is for business owners who want to learn how to devote equal time to their business, body, relationships & mindset to bring their life into balance.
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Why Working Out Isn’t Working Out with Darryl Edwards – Part 1

Play isn’t just for kids – it’s one of the most effective ways we can craft healthy habits, happier lives, and productive workplaces.

Darryl Edwards is proof of that. Darryl is The Fitness Explorer – an international speaker, coach, nutritionist, author, and health commentator. But Darryl wasn’t always the picture of health – his journey to whole-health wellbeing started in the early 2000s when he was told he was on a crash course to major health conditions and a potential early death.

Since then, he’s learned how important play is in creating a healthy mind and body. Darryl was kind enough to join me to discuss some of the things he’s learned, so that we can pass them on to you.

Why we need to start sooner rather than later

Darryl only came to his realisation about the importance of mental and physical wellbeing when he received some startling news in an annual health check.

“I got told that I wasn’t well. I had pre-diabetes, one step away from Type 2, chronic hypertension, elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, a really poor cholesterol profile.”

But illnesses like this don’t appear out of nowhere. The truth is Darryl’s lifestyle had been slowly creating these conditions over the course of years.

“We feel bulletproof for a significant amount of time while these conditions are slowly creeping up. In my 20s, I partied hard and worked long hours…It meant sleep deprivation, it meant eating on the go, it meant that time in the gym was an impediment. We could lose millions of pounds with me not sitting at my desk.”

“I put my health and being to one side because I didn’t feel the impact of those things. I felt fine on a few hours sleep and drinking Red Bull for breakfast.”

Self-development is a long-game, though, and Darryl realises now that we have to get started before we are forced to start. It’s why he’s so passionate about spreading his message of wellbeing.

Starting is the hardest part, but it doesn’t have to be huge

“There are ways you can very quickly start on this path of improving your health,” believes Darryl.

And none of them require you to “live like a monk or a nun” – which is welcome news.

The best way to start, according to Darryl, is by “taking a small step down a path that feels sustainable to you, that you can maintain… Once you do that, the scope of that change may widen to incorporate other areas.”

But making significant changes to the way you live your life and treat yourself isn’t a quick fix or an overnight project.

“There is no silver bullet, there is no one thing that will make all the difference,” explained Darryl.

“The cumulative effect of improving your diet a bit, getting more physical activity in, thinking about your sleep quality, reducing unnecessary stress… You add all those things together and it’s like compound interest.”

But it all starts with one small step in the right direction. Don’t try and get started on perfecting every facet of your wellbeing at once – that’s a recipe for burnout and a feeling of failure.

At the other end of the spectrum, Darryl “would definitely guard against trying to focus on perfecting one thing,” like 30-day cleanses or other short-term, intensive programmes.

Starting small means starting smart and sustainably – ticking off small wins as you go along and setting sensible goals.

Where does play come into this?

Before we go into why play is crucial, I think it’s important to use this moment to share a brilliant explanation Darryl gave:

“Play is not a subservient of work. It isn’t superfluous, it isn’t something that should be sought out as an exception to getting the serious work out the way.”

Play is not something that is reserved for children on their lunch breaks at school.

“As adults, we assume play is fun,” Darryl said as he explored this misunderstanding. “That is not the entirety of play – that’s the smallest fraction of play that exists for children when they are given the option to free play.”

“When you free play, you seek out challenge, difficulty, and what is going to be really risky. You calculate risk because there’s a significant reward if you achieve that objective. You’re not seeking out the easy stuff to do, you’re seeking out the things you may have never done. You’re working out ‘I wonder what will happen if I do x or y’.”

Clearly, the power of play extends far beyond just having fun.

“Play should be elevated in far more areas of our lives. It can help improve performance, it can foster creativity, it can increase and improve human social connection, and build teamwork.”

“All the things we are trying to achieve professionally as individuals and collectives benefit far more from a play-based state to delivering those objectives than we do a hard-working state.”

And play is a great addition to our physical activity regimen, too.

“We have higher levels of positive hormones through play. If you’re doing the same activity but doing it in a playful way, you get even more of that feelgood factor. If you’re doing it with other humans, these levels increase even more.”

That means the physical activity we do in a play-state is ‘stickier’. We’re more likely to do it again and make it a sustained effort.

Those small steps referenced earlier are extended when we take them with playfulness.

Why Darryl believes we should all play more

If it wasn’t clear why play is so important at the start of this post, it should be now.

Darryl’s passion for play, and the science that backs up his belief, are abundant. I think he summed it up best when he said:

“If we have a play-based mindset, we remove barriers. We remove boundaries. We become more open to ideas. We are not thinking about what we can’t do, we are thinking about what we can do, so there are more opportunities.”

If you’d like to learn more about Darryl, check out his website Primal Play.

I highly recommend watching Darryl’s Tedx Talk. It’s one of the most powerful talks I’ve ever listened to!

If you want to learn more from Darryl, you can also grab a copy of his fantastic book, Animal Moves.

Interviews with Game Changers

I have had the opportunity to interview the worlds leading minds on business, health and mindset. You can read the highlights of my podcast interviews by clicking here

Read Game Changers Now

Podcast

The Scale Without Burnout podcast is for business owners who want to learn how to devote equal time to their business, body, relationships & mindset to bring their life into balance.
Get weekly tips and feel empowered with Business Psychologist and host Andrew Sillitoe

Listen to the Podcast

Are You Getting Enough Sunlight for Health & Performance? With Matt Maruca

Very recently I had Matt Maruca on the Scale Without Burn Out podcast for an episode I was really looking forward too. 

Matt is the founder of RaOptics and someone who is constantly banging the drum about the importance of getting more sunlight in our lives and the positive effects that this can bring to our lives.  

It’s about more than just getting a nice tan.

Matt speaks a lot about how sunlight can impact our health, performance and general well-being, even in the lesser-known ways such as its impact on the quality of our sleep or how efficiently our brains work. 

As business owners who are trying to thrive and be the best we can be we so much of what Matt talks about is pertinent, so enjoy, because in this blog we are going to take a closer look at some of the best bits of my talk with Matt Maruca. 

This blog has been edited for continuity and clarification purposes.

I jumped straight in by asking Matt to provide us with an overview of how he began talking about the importance of Sunlight and the development of RAoptics. 

When I started having some health issues a couple of years ago, I was completely flummoxed and didn’t really know what to do, so I took to the Internet, I started reading. 

Having skin problems and worsening gut issues or headaches, allergies, for me, it was becoming unbearable and so I started to just deep dive into the world of diet, and learn about that. 

It opened my eyes to how much our diet could not only just heal skin issues, but it could actually heal a lot more than that. Allergies, headaches, gut issues, food sensitivities, it was just a great entry into the health world. 

I started researching more because like many entrepreneurs I wasn’t satisfied with just hitting a certain achievement and then stopping there. I realized there must be so much more that I don’t know and so as I kept researching. 

I realised, wow, there’s so much more to this that I had never, ever considered and no one really considers, that our environment beyond our diet, exercise, maybe sleep and supplementation actually has as much or potentially more of an impact on our body than the food and the fuel we’re consuming because the environment and specifically our light exposure actually control how well we can utilise that fuel. 

So that just got me super interested in moving this whole ball forward and learning more. 

Matt mentioned that he had studied Mark Sisson and Brad Kearns amongst others who are closely aligned with ancestral health so I asked him to explore that.  

They’re more focussed on ancestral eating, they’re not really focussed on ancestral living. They’re just talking about what you eat and how you exercise, how you move. 

Only more recently have some of them begun to speak about the tremendous benefits of sunlight exposure, the importance of our bodies circadian rhythms, and about the tremendous risks of artificial light exposure which completely dysregulates our circadian rhythm, this essential rhythm that controls so many processes.

It’s so seemingly harmless to most people, so no one would think, oh, I’m looking at my phone before bed, that’s completely suppressing my melatonin, destroying the natural repair of my mitochondria and my overall cells and my organs and tissues, which is going to leave me tired, maybe anxious or depressed, maybe lacking energy, lower cognitive function, lower productivity the next day. 

No one thinks that when they’re looking at their phone at night, but that’s exactly what’s happening. 

As business owners, entrepreneurs and ambitious people, we want to be optimal and don’t want to be tired, anxious and low on energy, but some of what Matt said here goes against how many people traditionally work, so I asked him to expand on his points of productive working and working late at night, and how this applies to entrepreneurs. 

Everyone’s familiar with the Parado Principle, the 80-20 rule and one of these items would be getting good sleep and having higher-level brain function and maybe even higher level of consciousness and awareness. 

So you might get a couple extra hours of work done late at night but if you’re staying up late, you’re looking at an artificially lit screen and that’s disrupting the circadian rhythm, the body’s natural production of melatonin and our national sleep and repair, that’s actually really damaging the ability of the brain and the body to repair itself, to function optimally the following day. 

So you might think you got an extra two or three hours of work done and you very well could have, but at the cost of your optimal brain function and productivity, not just tomorrow, but for your entire life, if you do this on a regular basis. 

Theoretically, if someone is just functioning at 10% better in their brain, people are not just feeling 10% better, they’re feeling twice as good as they did before, from an energy standpoint, a clarity standpoint, cognitive function standpoint. 

So it’s just a matter of evaluating, you get three extra hours of work done or two or five extra hours of work done but on a consistent basis, your brain isn’t functioning as well and the brain is like a supercomputer itself so are you really getting closer to the things you want to achieve like health, energy, vitality, because that’s what everyone’s after anyway, is feeling good, and yet you’re staying up late every night, destroying your brain’s reward circuits in your dopamine production and by destroying our circadian rhythm and sleep you’re actively destroying what you’re trying to achieve on a daily basis. 

I found this example to be quite interesting and it got me thinking about wider health and gut health, but also how we as entrepreneurs, often keep irregular hours, to maintain optimal health, and in the process, could actually be doing more harm than good. Matt spoke about gut health first. 

 If you live in a toxic lifestyle, you’re indoors all day, you’re never getting out in the sun, you’re never getting out into nature then your gut might not heal. 

It’s supposed to turn over every 48 hours or somewhere in that range and that is only going to happen if our body circadian rhythm functions normally. 

If you’re chronically disrupting your circadian rhythm with artificial light exposure at night and not getting exposure to sunlight during the day, the gut cells aren’t going to be able to necessarily turn over with the proper speed and efficiency that they are designed to. 

Sunlight and our light exposure drives our gut health and could potentially be even more impactful than all the food and the supplements that people are trying to take on a regular basis.

Matt expanded on how getting up early to work out, in the dark, then getting the tube/train and staying indoors all day could lead to a toxic environment, are such things then a waste of your time? 

It’s not necessarily all wasted because you’re putting in an effort and if you believe that you’re doing yourself a favour and you’re stoked about that, that’s worth a lot. 

But, yes, if you are waking up that early and not getting any sunlight and driving your body really hard, it is for sure huge stress on the body to not have gotten a little bit of natural light exposure, you know, to signal our brain and our hormones and neurotransmitters to all really kick on for the day and yet to be pounding the body and demanding so much of it at that early hour,  I certainly wouldn’t recommend hard working out well before light. 

Then again, there’s Navy SEALs and professional athletes and warriors who march all night and train and they live really long, too. So it’s not like necessarily a one size fits all approach, just there’s some general data, good data indicating that being in line with a healthy circadian rhythm is really good for the body. 

I asked Matt what tips he has for business owners and ambitious people out there that want to make some changes. 

The key takeaway before we get into the practical tips is that our eye has two functions, one which is the camera, we see things just like we see things with the camera and it creates images in the visual cortex in the brain. 

The original function of the eye based on the data was to be a clock, a timekeeper of cues in the external environment. 

First and foremost, just start going outside, it’s that simple. We have evolved for such a long time in natural sunlight, it does power a whole host of functions in addition to just vitamin D, which more people are becoming familiar with it. So if we can go outdoors more, we can start to thrive more as individuals. 

Secondly, get blue light protection glasses. That’s why I started a company (RAoptics) making these because it’s such an important thing based on the research.

We need to block the light that’s emitted by our devices, which is around 450 nanometres in the blue light range. Anyone who’s selling clear lens blue blockers is selling something that’s not scientifically effective, not going to actually block it in a meaningful way.

So that’s kind of the basic takeaway that everyone can start to get some simple activities. 

It sounds simple, but for many people, it’s not that easy because they are grabbing their lunch and not even getting outside because of the office canteen. What would you say is the minimum effective dose of sunlight exposure? 

I love that question, Dr Alexander Wuensch said two hours minimum of unfiltered sunlight exposure is necessary for optimal health and that doesn’t necessarily mean on your skin as well, although that’s also beneficial if you can get out and get a little tan going on without burning. 

But the key is the eye. The eye doesn’t just receive visual signals, as we’ve described, but we can receive the energy from the sun that our brain uses to catalyse certain reactions, like any reaction in biology when it has more energy to proceed, it happens more quickly. The rate of reaction is increased and sunlight is effectively a completely free source of energy that helps increase the rate of every reaction. 

It does the same in our body and almost every organic molecule. 

So one could argue that every single process in our entire body, every single reaction, every single detoxing pathway, every single hormone production system, every single repair and growth and sexual, you know, organ function is all optimised by sunlight. 

Light is effectively free energy that our body can utilise to actually optimise a whole host of processes, so two hours a day, minimum, exposure on the eye, which could be as simple as just having the door, the window or the door open and working next to it or taking an hour walk.

 

Matt had mentioned circadian rhythm and blue light suppressers so I asked him to elaborate on that and what an ideal setting would be for someone when trying to go to sleep.  

The evidence is that sleep starts in the morning. What I mean is that morning sunlight exposure sets our circadian rhythm, which is a 24-hour cycle for the rest of the day. If we’re getting up and we’re not getting out and getting light on our eyes until nine or 10 o’clock as opposed to five or six or seven o’clock, our circadian rhythm is potentially already going to be lagged out a little bit, so it might be a little harder to fall asleep because of not having that exposure to the proper stimulus in the morning.

The more important factor here is that exposure to ultraviolet light. 

There’s evidence that ultraviolet light exposure helps to stimulate the production of key hormones and neurotransmitters such as serotonin and serotonin becomes converted into melatonin, which is our molecule of sleep. So the key metric here is that morning sunlight exposure helps our body to naturally create our melatonin stores.

Then in the evening, you know, turning off screen devices two to three hours before bed, ideally at least two and I would say even if you’re using blue light blocking glasses, still don’t use the screens in the evening because it’s still a lot more stimulating on the brain and straining on the eyes. If you have to do colour sensitive work where you can’t block the blue light, just do not do it during the evening, do it during the day, because otherwise, you are intentionally disrupting your circadian rhythm. 

Same with nightshift workers. That is a huge Trade-Off for health. 

People ask, how can I be a nightshifts worker and still be optimally healthy?

It’s like, well, you should quit your job if you want to be as healthy as possible. 

But if you want to do the best you possibly can while chronically being exposed to a toxin which artificial light at night for a diurnal animal is effectively a toxin, then there’s not too much you can do about it besides leave, then when you’re not working there, mitigate as hard as possible by sleeping better and having better sleeping habits, by getting sunlight exposure in reasonable doses throughout the day to build up your vitamin D and your natural immune function, mitochondrial energy production and so on. 

It was that was one of the questions that came through about limiting factors due to shift patterns and what you’d recommend for that, but actually, what I’m hearing is quit the job. 

Identify it for what it is, which is toxic, and then decide whether you’re willing to make that Trade-Off. If you love being a nightshift nurse as much as your own health and longevity, then definitely do it. 

I don’t want to make these blanket statements because I imagine there have been people who work night shifts, although the data doesn’t support this, but people who work night shifts, who have lived long and healthy lives, but in general, the data is very clear, nightshift workers have sometimes more than double the risk of almost every chronic disease from heart disease to cancer to you know, the data is actually kind of scary, that’s why I just recommend, become familiar with the risk and then make decisions from that place of genuine knowledge and understanding and not fear, but just understanding. 

I’d like to just build on the sleep thing. What’s your what’s your advice on that?

I go back and forth on that one because I always want the light to wake me up in the morning. Dr Jacques Cruz, he specifically says, of all the hacks that you can do, the most powerful is getting up every morning and watching the sunrise. That’s because that actual view into the sun when it’s hasn’t quite gotten very strong yet sets the circadian rhythm almost more powerfully than anything else, especially because there’s an increase in the blue light component of the sun so much at that early hour that it is like a boom. 

Get the darkness at night and the light coming in, in the morning, which is really what our bodies are looking for. 

What are your views on sunscreen? 

So sunscreen, I think is a flawed concept and sounds a bit strange, but let me explain. 

The whole premise behind sunscreen is that the sun is toxic and needs to be screened or blocked. 

After learning more, it became undeniably clear to me that sunlight is the driving force of all life on Earth and of all biological evolution and of all biological complexity, so the premise that the sun is somehow bad for us is entirely flawed at its core. 

That’s the best way to put it. 

It was the 30s, 40s and 50s, researchers were trying to understand why people were starting to get skin cancer and so the researchers would take ultraviolet lights and irradiate rats, which are a nocturnal animal, not even really designed to be exposed to a ton of sunlight, with ridiculous amounts of ultraviolet light, isolated from a manmade bulb, not the same as sunlight, not composed of the same spectrum, including the healing red and Infra-Red light, which can balance and potentially offset some of the more damaging, higher risks of the high energy ultraviolet light. 

From this, they did find that excessive amount of ultraviolet light caused these cancers, and so that became the theory. 

These premises all come from flawed, poorly conducted experiments where they weren’t using natural full spectrum sunlight as a control, they were using artificial manmade lighting that was very different from the composition of the sun. 

Now we can further evaluate the real-life data and not just some studies we can see that since people have started exposing ourselves to less sunlight, living a more indoor lifestyle wearing sunglasses and so on, skin cancer rates and rates of cataracts and macular degeneration, all things attributed to sun exposure have all increased. 

So, it begs the question, is it the sun that’s causing these issues because the recent data from the U.S. government shows that the average American spends 92% of their time indoors, it’s about 6% in the car and 86% in an actual building behind windows. 

So if the sun caused skin cancer, shouldn’t the rates be lower than ever since we moved to an indoor lifestyle? Whereas they’re higher than they’ve ever been. 

Could it be that people are getting their two weeks vacation and then they just take advantage so that they’re out in the sun and then the body’s not used to it? 

That’s exactly what it is, but when we say the sun causes skin cancer, it’s like, well, the sun also caused the evolution of the eye and the skin so we’re getting into messy territory. 

The answer your question is yes, people who are weekend warriors, who go out and just get fried and then go back to their desk job all day, their body isn’t producing melanin to protect from excess damage. 

I’m not advocating by any means to go out in the strong sun. 

I’m in San Diego right now, I’m not in the sun for more than probably a couple hours tops a day and I’m more focussed on the early morning in the late afternoon because that’s when there’s more of the healing red and Infra-Red light and less of slightly more damaging ultraviolet. 

To answer your question about sunscreen a little more concisely, we have the best national sunscreen ever in our body, it’s called melanin. Our brain stimulates it just like pretty much everything else but our body makes it in response to ultraviolet light, so if you build up your exposure, slowly, like if you’re a Brit and you go to Spain in the winter or the summer or whenever for a week vacation, take those first two or three days, get 5, 10, 15 minutes on each side of your body, maybe spaced out throughout the day because your body can heal. 

The other key is not wearing sunglasses because the transmission of ultraviolet light through the eye stimulates melanocytes stimulating hormone, which is this hormone that stimulates the production of the melanocytes, which make melanin, so if you’re wearing sunglasses, you’re asking for skin cancer because you’re going to destroy your body’s ability to make its own protection systems for protection against the sun. 

I highly recommend against ever wearing any form of sunscreen except non-nano zinc oxide since I’m a surfer, I’ll use non-nano, but the best is also physical protection, like a hat.

We briefly touched on a few things that people can do to help them to assimilate light better, which prompted Matt to outline what he refers to as the ‘light diet’, here is a brief overview. 

  1. Sleep with the sun. Set up your evening properly, block blue light, avoid screens just one or two hours at least before bed. 
  1. Wake with the sun, expose yourself to natural sunlight in the morning. 
  1. Expose yourself to sunlight throughout the day. Work on your deck, drink your coffee outside in the morning, sunbathe for 15 or 20 minutes if you possibly can.
  1. Drink un-fluoridated clean water like spring water so you’re not getting all those chemicals in your body.
  1. Consume a seasonal diet primarily based on seafood. 
  1. Take advantage of cold exposure, so taking ice baths like Wim Hof style. 
  1. Avoid non-native electromagnetic fields and mitigate the risk of that, so Wi-Fi, Bluetooth,  there’s a lot to that. The simplest thing to do is turn off your Wi-Fi while you sleep, use your phone on speakerphone, keep it on aeroplane mode when it’s in your pocket. 
  1. Cultivate our inner light. If you’re worrying all the time and you’re freaking out and you don’t have something in your life that you love, that motivates you, then all that external light you’re taking in through these methods we’ve described isn’t going to help if you’re chronically stressed. 

This could be the first time people have heard this stuff and could be very concerned about it, so how do you how do we find that balance and cope with these fears and concerns? 

There are different philosophies on this and I’m not an expert on how to psychologically manage the knowledge. 

There’s a purpose of these emotions, they can stimulate us to do better things, so I would say let this be a short intermittent bit of stress. 

You’ve now learnt that there’s a lot of things that we’re doing in the modern world today that are very antagonistic to our wellbeing and our proper biological functioning. 

Make the changes you can based on the new knowledge, let that knowledge be a stimulus to make decisions. 

As the interview drew to a close I asked one final question. 

Matt. If people want to find out more about you and connect with you, which we send them. 

My Instagram is @thelightdiet, that’s my personal Instagram. 

The other place would be RAoptics.com, my business and their Instagram is @ra_optics. 

Final thoughts

There was so much thought-provoking information in this episode, some of which may challenge our traditional thinking and go against some of our natural urges as business owners and entrepreneurs, certainly the idea of working out early or finishing work before bed and how this could impact our bodies. 

To get the full breakdown of what Matt had to say and to listen back to our conversation in real-time, I highly recommend you listen to the podcast episode (INSERT LINK TO PODCAST HERE) where you can also listen to a few other areas that didn’t make it into the blog. 

Interviews with Game Changers

I have had the opportunity to interview the worlds leading minds on business, health and mindset. You can read the highlights of my podcast interviews by clicking here

Read Game Changers Now

Podcast

The Scale Without Burnout podcast is for business owners who want to learn how to devote equal time to their business, body, relationships & mindset to bring their life into balance.
Get weekly tips and feel empowered with Business Psychologist and host Andrew Sillitoe

Listen to the Podcast

How To Prioritise Your Health and Energy Levels as a Business Leader with Brad Kearns

In this blog, we will take a look back over the best bits of my talk with Brad Kearns. Brad is someone that I have listened to and learned from for a very long time, he is also very highly regarded. 

Brad has a long list of accomplishments, including being a world record holder for speed golf, a New York Times bestselling author, an accomplished podcast host, a master’s high jumper and a former professional Triathlete. There’s a lot of gold in this episode and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 

I began by asking Brad to tell us a few things that would really benefit the business leaders and the business owners out there who are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle in this fast-paced world that we’re in.

“There are so many things to address and one of them is this tendency to overdo it on the workout side and actually in many other areas too, we see in the diet scene, a condition called orthorexia, where people are overly concerned with an unnatural fixation with eating the correct foods to the extent that it stresses them out and adds to the stress level of their life but especially in the exercise scene, people tend to overdo it.  

The personality style, the attributes that you start out with are the ones that can become your worst enemy. Like who’s going to get off their butt and go into the gym? It’s the people who are highly motivated, type-A driven focussed people and then they get in their own way and tend to destroy their health in pursuit of fitness. 

So we have to make that critical distinction between fitness and health.

When I was I was a professional triathlete, for nine years, I travelled all over the world, I trained all day,  I slept for half of my life during the time I was on the circuit but I was constantly pushing my body right up to that red line, up to the edge of compromising my health. 

I had to learn the hard way over and over again that these two things have to stay in balance otherwise, you’re not going to reap the intended benefits or the stated benefits and your stated goals.

I coached people for a long time, mostly in the triathlon scene, and you’re talking about an extremely driven person where some of the coaching element was just to sit down and say, hey, what are you all about here? 

So I think the first thing we got to do is examine what’s going on out there. Why am I doing this to myself?  What void am I trying to fill with over-exercising? 

Then correct that.

 

Be kind and gentle and give yourself permission to rest or to go easy on yourself or go get a massage or whatever it is you need to do to balance your life. 

I think we also have to acknowledge that maybe it’s OK if you’re out there to blow off some steam, unleash some competitive intensity and possibly in an inappropriate manner, one that might compromise your health. 

So if you just acknowledge here’s what I’m doing, I’m bashing my body today because my boss got mad at me and I can’t process it any other way than that’s the way it’s going to go and maybe someday you’ll be ready to make a choice and make a decision to move on from that previous trap that you’ve been caught in.” 

Brad’s answer brought up some interesting points around the stress of trying to manage healthy living and the impact it can have on an individual, but also, how ambitious people tend to be ambitious in all areas of their life, often wanting to exceed and go all-in on everything. 

“It’s so parallel to the workplace example and we have so many examples of people overworking and spending too many hours immersed into their peak cognitive task at the expense of whatever else. 

But a lot of times you’re there because you can’t bear to go home early and face the problems in your own home or things like that. 

We are more productive, more focused, make better decisions, are more creative when our lives are in balance and the longer we work, it’s not going to be anything of benefit.”  

Brad expanded on some research he has used for his new book, Keto for Life

“There’s something like 55 hours a week, then you really fall off a cliff and you become so unproductive. 

I think it backs up to somewhere around 40 hours a week where you start to become less efficient and less productive, so things take 20% longer if you work more than 40 hours a week. 

If you’re congratulating yourself that you just put in 50 hours a week, you probably should go back to 40 and do things more efficiently and make decisions more quickly.

We get stuck in these traps, I believe one of the big things to blame is hyperconnectivity. We never give our brains a downtime to sit back and reflect.” 

I spoke about the parallels between popular movements, such as the 4 day week, but also the pressure in business that comes down from the top, whereby it is expected that people work 60, 70 or 80 hour weeks. Many people see that as a badge of honour and as something that must be done, to achieve their ultimate goals.  

“Yeah, I’m recalling a passage from Jack Welch’s autobiography known as the Great Leader of G.E. and Corporate Legend in America and he was talking about how the workaholism culture that he created as he rose up the ranks, it was expected that you come in on Saturday if you want to rise to the executive ranks. 

He acknowledged that he had compromised some areas of his life, such as his children, so he’s using his children as an example of stuff he missed out on. 

Now I’m a parent, they were probably my highest purpose for being, in those years as a parent was to raise children and so I’m shaking my head going, wow, you want to live a life out of balance and live with regrets when you’re older? 

Read some other people’s words, take things to heart and be all in at the moment and make sure you can live, there’s no guarantee of tomorrow. 

Us folks here in America, sports fans, are absolutely mourning and devastated by the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter and seven other passengers on the helicopter and I can’t get it out of my mind. 

He meant so much to me and my son and, you know, he thought he had a lot of security, wouldn’t you agree? But there’s no security of anything, no matter who you are, we might as well make the best of today and so I’m here on the show arguing for, protect your health, balance your work efforts with your personal life and guess what? 

You may go beyond that person who is stuck in the workaholic mode.” 

What’s your advice for those business owners, business leaders who are looking to scale, looking to grow and maintain some level of fitness, health and even cognitive ability? I know you’re a big fan of slowing down and being mindful, so what would be your big tips? 

“One of my favourite pieces of advice, in terms of progressing with your career, comes from the comedian Jerry Seinfeld. 

He related how young comics would come up to him all the time and say, hey, did you hear my set, what do you think? 

How do I get on The Tonight Show? 

How do I get my own series?

His standard advice to young up and coming comic is work on your act. 

That’s it. 

Work on your act. 

So if you can excel in your core area of responsibility and your highest passion, the highest expression of your talents, there’s nothing else that you should even mention when you’re talking about this topic. 

What I try to do is keep a little bit of recognition if I am indeed pursuing the highest expression of my talents in a micro-level, as well as a macro with the big decisions.

My mission for 2020 is to focus more because everyone can succumb; we’re all victims to the allure of the dopamine hit. As Dr Robert Lustig says in a new book called ‘The Hacking of the American Mind’. 

He’s talking about how we’ve all become addicts in various ways to the instant hit of pleasure.” 

Dr Lustig is one of the original writers on the topic of sugar, and Brad expands on his research 

“He’s one of the leading anti-sugar crusaders, saying how it’s an addictive substance and then he expanded the topics in this book to talk about social media, digital devices, the mind-altering drugs, video games, porn, all these things hit the dopamine pathways and flood them to the extent that we’re incapable or less capable of experiencing happiness and contentment, which are the serotonin pathways. 

How do you experience happiness and contentment in life? 

It’s struggling and persevering through difficulties and challenges to become a better person, but now we can theoretically sit back, fire up the video game and kill a bunch of soldiers, win the battle and have instant pleasure and instant gratification.” 

There’s one thing trying to get away from all this stuff, but how do you focus and stay on point and ignore these distractions? 

“You have to put some systems in place and use repetition and endurance to create habits because otherwise we’re too weak and we’re going to succumb and we’re gonna fail. 

If you can, get things into this new category of absolutely mindless and automatic, where you do not have to apply motivation and willpower to achieve these objectives.

Motivation is highly overrated in any circumstance. 

So one quick example that I have (you can see it on YouTube) it’s called ‘Brad Kearnes morning flexibility, mobility routine’, I designed this custom leg and core exercise routine and I do it every single morning. 

I get out of bed and the first thing I do is I hit the deck before I reach for my phone, which is what 84% of Americans do. So instead of reaching for the iPhone, I hit the deck and I do a very mindful experience of doing 30 leg scissors and 20 frog legs and 20 core drills and I don’t have to think, do I feel like doing this or not? Even if I’m running short of time, I’m going to get it done and if I skip it because I have to get it early morning flight, I do it that night so I can proudly say to the world, I do this every single day, no matter what, without fail, even if I don’t feel like it.” 

Brad expanded on what can others do

“It’s really anything that’s proactive and advocating for your own health and well-being. 

So if you have a dog and you want to be a responsible dog owner, get up first thing in the morning, leash up your dog and take the animal outside into the fresh air and the sunshine and the open space, but also getting out there and doing something that’s habitual. Now if we can start stacking these things together, you build momentum toward being this way throughout your productive workday.” 

Brad then discussed his experience with the Wim Hof cold plunge practice 

“What the morning cold plunge means to me is sort of an opportunity to promote focus and discipline and resilience, so I don’t do anything special before I jump in, I don’t want to delay that action at all, I want to finish my morning leg swings and I go right downstairs and jump into the tub whether I feel like it or not. 

If we can get that way about everything that we need to do, I think it puts you into that more resilient mindset, which is so important these days amidst distraction and also amidst getting discouraged.”

Talk to me about stress and the positive effects of bringing on stress. 

“That’s a really important concept because this word stress is bantered around to convey a large number of circumstances and so we have to distinguish between an appropriate positive natural stressor that delivers a net positive benefit, so the term for that is a hormetic stressor, and that means challenging your body and it responds by coming back stronger and more resilient and now we have this condition of chronic stress. 

The human organism is not adapted to withstand chronic stress day after day after day. 

This leads to breakdown, burnout, illness and injury. 

So we want to transition over to pushing and challenging the body with these appropriate stressors. 

We want to shorten the duration of these positive natural stressors and get away from those chronic stressors.

When I mentioned these quick examples over the show jumping into the cold water, I’m only going in there for five to six minutes, but I’ve worked up from three minutes. In the gym, I’m over and done within 20 minutes, I’m not in there for an hour, exhausting my body.

So we want to just shorten the duration of these positive natural stressors and tone down the ability to get away from those chronic stressors. 

Now, guess what the reality about chronic stress is? 

A lot of it’s in our mind. It’s in our control. 

Our thoughts are the source of all our pain. 

So when we feel stressed out about this, that or the other thing, we can live in a different state of mind control or mindset. And therefore, these things that we perceive to be stressful, a traffic jam, a difficult boss whose personality is coming out again, it drives you crazy deep down inside, but you can look at that person with a loving, compassionate heart and say they’re doing their best with the tools that they’ve been given. 

You can take control of your stress response and float through the day in a much better circumstance than constantly getting agitated when the world’s not exactly as you perceive that it should be.” 

It’s that ability to self regulate, to manage the emotions under pressure?

“That’s where the breathing comes in, because if you can work on things like intentional breathing or in my case, you can develop the ability to overcome the instant shock effect of the cold, and breathe through it.” 

Final thoughts

With some great tips and tricks for managing stress and dealing with pressure, the podcast came to a close. 

Talking with Brad was as insightful and informative as expected and it certainly didn’t disappoint. 

His knowledge and passion for all things health, wellness and lifestyle are infectious and it was thoroughly enjoyable to spend some time speaking with Brad. 

A keen podcaster himself, you can find out more about Brad by checking out his ‘Get over yourself’ podcast or by visiting BradKearns.com, where you can see more information on Brad, his books, his speed golf world record and his work as a whole. 

To listen to the entire podcast and hear all the gold for yourself, just click here. 

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