Are you healthy as an entrepreneur?
We are all busy workers. We all work too hard, but I think work and play are relative to your position and mindset. In this episode, Karen Pyke from Inspire Wellness talks to us about the health mindset.
• What are the telltale signs that you are healthy or not? Have tiredness, fatigue, headaches, bloating, aches and pains, and needing to grab a coffee for an energy boost become the norm for you?
• Can you have too much of a good thing? What is too much?
• How can you fuel your body and make a habitual change? Do you eat real food?
• Do you deal with pressure and stress through alcohol? The Australian dietary guidelines used to have a certain prescribed level for alcohol consumption.
• How do you inspire wellness? Allow yourself to realize that something is not right and something is out of balance.
How To Tell if You Are Healthy
Sometimes, you're running from appointment to appointment, you go to these fast-food restaurants and ultimately that can have a detrimental effect. What are some of the telltale signs that show if you are healthy or not?
Karen: I think health is a really hard thing to define. Different people have different interpretations of what health is to them. The general telltale signs are a little bit of tiredness, fatigue, headaches, bloating, aches and pains, and needing to grab a coffee to give you that extra energy boost. They're the things that tell you that the body is not probably functioning the way it needs to function.
How To Work Out the Balance
Can you have too much of a good thing? What if you're working too hard but you love doing what you're doing?
Karen: I guess it's working out what is too much. There are 24 hours in a day. Can somebody work 24 hours a day? Potentially they can, but it's what is going to happen later in life if you keep working at that speed.
We need to have a balance within life. Between work, play, and rest, the body can only function a certain amount based on the nutrients that it receives.
If you're continually burning all of those nutrients and you don't refuel your body either by taking a rest, by what you eat, or by what you drink, eventually something is going to stop. That's different for different people. That could be 6 weeks for some people, and 6 months for others.
We know that there's a certain amount of sleep that the body needs, and it's when we sleep that the body repairs and recovers. That's when it sets you up for the next day. Some people can survive on 6-hour sleep. Some people need 8 hours. Some people probably can survive on 3 or 4 hours at a time, but eventually, something will give.
I have a lot of respect for sleep. I think it's the most important thing. If you don't sleep well, your muscles don't recover so if you go to the gym, you're kind of just wasting your time.
Why Do Entrepreneurs Need Good Physical and Emotional Health
I became single in 2017, and that meant I lost a business partner and obviously my mental health wasn't 100% while I was going through a breakup. I thought I could power through it, so I continued to do whatever I could.
I was eating reasonably healthy and going to the gym, but the amount of work that I had to do meant that I wasn't in check with my balance. I went from talking as a reasonably confident young man to developing a stutter; I wasn't able to talk on the phone. I could not get words out. We had to start culling clients so that I didn't have that happening inside me.
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Be Aware of Your Balance
What are some of the ways that you can make sure that you don't find out the way that I found out? How can you make sure that you keep yourself in check beforehand?
Karen: I believe that everything in life is individual. There's no one right or wrong for every person. It's really kind of sitting down and looking at your day, your life, how you feel—everything—on that individual basis.
Karen: When my clients come in and I feel that they are running a little bit too high, I tell them to stop and have a plan for their day and themselves to know what they're doing.
We give a lot of time. As entrepreneurs, we want to put so much time into our business. You can only put that much time into your business if you put into yourself as well, so plan your time around yourself and your nutrition. What am I going to eat today? How am I going to fuel myself? Can I get nutrient-rich food into me or is it going to be the fast food, the empty calories, the kind of things that aren't going to fuel me for success?
I truly believe that planning is the key to everything that we do. It just sets you up for success.
Karen: Work out what's realistic in your life. Is it just me? Is there anyone else that I need to give time to within my life? Do I have a family? Have I checked in on my friends recently? Have I been out socially?
If you're not doing those things and the only thing you are focusing on is your entrepreneurial pursuits, something's going to have to give eventually. You've got to give time back to yourself and nurture yourself.
Is it okay to sort of go on stints and not have a balance throughout the whole week? For instance, you got a big project or starting a business can be a huge amount of work. Is it okay to work hard for a month and then play hard for a week or two?
Karen: No, I don't think so. I believe that balance should always be there. Obviously, there's always going to be things that come up and impact our day. We planned to work for 5 hours but ended up working 10 hours. That's okay every now and again, but that shouldn't be every single day.
Ask yourself what didn't happen that day that created that? It's reflecting on those moments and how you can prevent that from happening. I think every day should be balanced.
Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
I've gone through phases. I've built up my business, and it was financially stable. I'm in a service-based industry so I'm meant to be talking to people a lot. When I started being unable to talk to people, I was spinning my wheels. I haven't built the business to the success that I wanted it to be, and mentally, that isn't a good spot to be in.
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Physical Health and Mental Health
Your nutrition and lifestyle hopefully support your mental health and your physical health. Your mental health plays a big game, your physical health plays a big game. From an entrepreneur's perspective, how are they tied together? Is there something that you think you need to get yourself mentally well to get physically well?
Karen: I think they're both so closely interrelated. It's so hard to define and say if I concentrate on my mental health, my physical health is going to be great or if I just concentrate on my physical health, my mental health is going to be great. It can't be that simple. It's really looking at everything as a whole and thinking about how you can understand when those points are out of balance.
Stop and allow yourself to understand. Ask yourself:
• What are the signs that I'm becoming out of balance?
• What do I need to do to bring myself back into balance?
If I'm really busy at work, the first thing I drop is the gym. If I haven't gone to the gym for a week and a half, I find myself lacking clarity and that affects me mentally because I haven't been doing the physical exertion that I would have otherwise.
I don't know any way out of that. I think it's just about being aware of it and bringing yourself back into balance as soon as you have. As you said, it all ties together and it all feeds together.
Karen: I have one particular client who's suffering a little bit with their mental health, and they were going to the gym too much to help themselves with their mental health, to give them clarity. But then, they were working really hard as well, and that was impacting their mental health. Something had to give, and I actually told them to have a day off the gym. Sometimes we think that we need to go to the gym to help with our mental health, but sometimes the gym might be impacting our mental health more.
With deadlines, I tell people to stop and think what would be the worst-case scenario if they didn't hit the deadline. Is the world going to end tomorrow if you don't put that extra hour in when you're absolutely exhausted and you need to go to bed? What happens if you actually go to bed, you get up in the morning, you're fresh and you find a solution to your problem within 15 minutes, instead of spending extra 2 or 3 hours at night trying to fix it and work it out? Sometimes it's okay to not always push for those deadlines.
A fresh night's sleep is huge. My PT said having a rest and a break away from work is great to sharpen your sword.
Your mind never stops. When you're sleeping, everything's being put into order. Our mind is always working.
"Go to sleep with a question, wake up with an answer."
A big problem that I have is I create synthetic timelines and synthetic deadlines. "I have to get it done by this date. Why? Because I said so. I've got other things that I want to work on that trump this project. I just want to see this project finished." But I'm also a stickler for details. I don't want to see it 80% finished; I want to see it 99.99% finished. That is a downfall for me, but again, being aware of it helps you out.
Karen: Like with kids, we always tell our kids to actually get up, walk away, have a break, go outside, and play for a while, yet we don't do the same and we think we can't because we've got to get this finished. The truth is we can and if we actually take those breaks, we give our mind a bit of a rest so the thoughts come back. It's like the network, which is being clogged with thoughts, clears up.
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How Do Entrepreneurs Eat
On average, how do you see the diet of entrepreneurs? Are we generally healthy or generally not healthy, or is it widespread and mixed?
Karen: Absolutely. I think that a lot of the time, we don't understand the importance of fuel inside us and what that actually does to help fuel everything else within our body.
Starting Is the Hardest Bit
Karen: A lot of people always get up with good intentions, but then work-life balance doesn't actually hit the way it's supposed to. We then don't always follow through on our good habits. We become too busy, so we grab those fast foods or pull into service stations on our way running between clients. We don't actually drink enough water.
I think everybody eats the best way they feel they're eating for themselves at the time, but it's not necessarily the right food to fuel them and help them with the energy they need to get through the day.
Fast food is not only not healthy but also pretty expensive. I lost 38 kilos, but what I found was not having some of the temptations there really helps out.
I saw something the other day. What they did is they put the guitar right next to the lounge and they put the TV remote in a drawer in a bedroom. When they get home from work, they don't sit down and watch TV because now it's too inconvenient to grab that remote and have that bad habit. This then changes that habit into a good habit, and then they started playing the guitar.
Starting is the hardest bit. You need to remove some of the ease to get the bad things, create friction there and make it easier to get some of the good things and produce good habits.
Follow Through on Good Habits
What is normally the timeline that you'd say to get people conditioned to be in a good balance?
Karen: I really do work on individualised nutrition. I encourage people to eat real foods again, not McDonald's or KFC, the real whole foods that you can buy from the outside of the supermarket, not the inside aisles, but the garden market, the butchers.
Once I get people eating the right foods for them to fuel them, the change is pretty instantaneous. People can recognise within a couple of weeks that this is the right food to fuel them.
I normally work around a 3-month period to really kind of understand that somebody can eat a certain way and make a habitual change to keep this ongoing. We don't need to be grabbing snacks all the time. We don't need to be using caffeine to pick us up for energy. There are other ways to fuel ourselves.
Just Give It a Go, Work With Nutrients
I was also dealing with a lot of skin problems like dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis. I went to a few different places, and they told me to cut out certain foods for about 3 months. The list was as long as your arm. Surprisingly, all the whole foods, all the good foods that don't have preservatives in them, weren't on the list.
I decided to cut out everything on the list at once and eat just the healthy things that were nutrition-dense but calorie-poor. The advantage is I lost about 2 kilos a week. The gym kept most of it off, and that was three and a half years ago.
I realised I am thinking clearer, performing better, and sleeping less but not because I didn't have the opportunity to sleep but because my body was just waking up. I'd go to bed at 11 PM and then I'd wake up at 3:30 AM, and my mind would be racing with thoughts and energy.
I also started doing polyphasic sleeping—sleep for 30 to 40 minutes in the afternoon—and I don't drink caffeine. It showed me the importance of food, and that changed my relationship with food completely.
Do I still like eating pizza? Absolutely, but I'm aware of what is good and bad food to have on a pizza.
I was on a quite heavy meat diet, and I cut out all meat because they were on the list. I went raw vegan for three or four months, and it was amazing. I was still building muscle and checking with body composition scans. I told a few friends that I thought I found the elixir of life, and they said they could never quit meat.
Karen: The way I look at it is it was the nutrients that you found. I never look at calories in food. I couldn't tell you what calories are in a particular food. I never work with calories. I only work with nutrients.
It's the nutrients that your body needs to allow you to sleep, have clarity, function, and allow metabolism to work again. Once you've got all those nutrients right and if it's the excess weight that your body wants to release, it will release it. If it's dermatitis that you want to get rid of, you've given your body the right fuel through those nutrients to get those metabolic pathways working to help with those skin issues.
By cutting out all of what I call non-food—the foods that have no nutrients in them—you started to put nutrients back into your body and that's what your body needed for fuel.
I went to lose the eczema. Before that, my hands would open up in the middle of the night and start bleeding all over the bedsheets. It was absolutely terrible, so it is a huge transformation. As I said, it really lets you sort of respect the position that you're in.
My wife's father was diagnosed with cholesterol and high blood pressure about six years ago. He was told he needs to be on these tablets and do this. And he decided to just try being healthy: eat healthily, go to the gym, and have balance. He's running a business with 50 employees, so he definitely understands the stresses of running a business.
When he lost the weight, he's never felt better in his life. All the health problems that he had were all gone. Everything is perfect now. It's just about finding that balance.
Pressure, Stress, Alcohol, and Relaxation
It's important to know how to deal with pressure and stress. When it comes down to relaxation, pressure, and stress, where does alcohol sit in the mix?
Karen: It's interesting the way alcohol is dealt with on a daily basis. When we look at the Australian dietary guidelines, they used to have a certain level that we can actually have alcohol. Recently, they've taken that out. There is no prescribed level of alcohol in the Australian dietary guidelines.
The way I look at alcohol is, as with everything else, we should be able to enjoy things if we want to. We shouldn't rely on them to provide us with relaxation. We shouldn't be using them to help us calm down if we're stressed, and I think that's then where alcohol probably gets abused a little bit. It's like, "I've had a really stressful day. What am I going to do? I'm going to sit down, have a beer or a glass of wine." That's when I think it's taken out of context.
If you're having a nice meal and you're sitting with friends and everyone wants to enjoy a nice glass of wine, that's great. But it shouldn't be used to fix a dysfunction within the body or for stress relief.
Sometimes, we use alcohol to celebrate and socialise, but it can be the demise if you're using it to paralyse any of the symptoms of stress. I'm guilty of that. I know that I've been in a spot where my mind is going at a million miles an hour and you have a quick whiskey and then all of a sudden you kind of just focus more, but it's not for the right reasons. We shouldn't be doing that.
Karen: Absolutely. It's like having a whiskey to fall asleep. My question is why can't you sleep. Let's work out why we're not sleeping first and let's fix that. If you want a whiskey, you have a whiskey because you're enjoying a whiskey, not to get you to sleep.
And not enjoying a whiskey every night unless that's your job.
Metabolic Health and How To Inspire Wellness
You've been running Inspire Wellness for a little bit of time now. What are the reasons that people would want to come to you? How can you help them out?
Karen: What I work on at Inspire Wellness is metabolic health. Metabolism is responsible pretty much for everything we do. It's responsible for movement, heat production, stress, weight gain, weight loss.
There are thousands of chemical reactions happening in our bodies every single day. Our lifestyle, what we've eaten in the past, the toxins we're exposed to basically takes it all out of balance. What I do is pull that back into balance.
We do a body reset. We actually look at individualised nutrition for everybody because everybody walking through the door has different requirements for the way they eat.
At the moment, there's a lot of information out there on the Paleo diet, some vegan diets, the Mediterranean diet. Yes, they'll work for some people, but they won't work for everybody because it's not what that person needs.
The people that I work with are the people who recognise that there is a dysfunction happening within their body, within themselves. Whether they want to lose weight, they're experiencing headaches, or they're on medications that they don't want to be on anymore and they want to take control back of their life, we help them with food.
Food and fluids are the only things you can put inside you that will actually get everything functioning again. There's not a lot of exercises that you can put inside you to do that; exercise has other benefits.
It's really looking at anything out of balance, like after we eat, do we get bloated after we eat? Do we have to sit and have a rest after we've eaten because we have no energy? That's a dysfunction within the body. That's why we look at them individually. We find out the right foods for them, and then we teach them how to eat them to then live their life.
We only have a certain amount of time within our lives that we work. At the end of that time, we want to enjoy the rest of our life. We want to be able to travel. We want to be able to spend time with our grandkids. We want to be able to walk along the beach.
If you don't look after yourself through your working life, when you get to the end, there isn't any time because you're out of balance, you've got dysfunction, you've got some lifestyle disease. We're in too much pain that we don't get to enjoy it. I want everyone to enjoy the rest of their lives.
You are exactly right. We're working for most of our lives.
"If you put wealth before health, you'll be sure that when you retire, you'll be spending your wealth on your health."
I was only talking earlier about my mom and some of the problems that she's running into at the moment. She lives a reasonably healthy lifestyle, probably could have eaten less of some of the deep-fried food.
The thing is things can happen to anyone, but putting as many preventative measures at least doesn't accelerate whatever could happen to you.
Karen: And I think recognising those symptoms. When people come to me, we go through a certain number of questions, like do you ever experience headaches? They would say they get it most days but that's just normal. I would say that's not normal.
I think it's actually allowing yourself to realize that something is not right and something is out of balance. Sort it out now, and feel great again. I want everyone to feel amazing.
When I went through that transformation, it was amazing. Beforehand, I was having pizza once or twice a week. I was going out for Korean barbecue once or twice a week. I was eating heaps of food and not necessarily the best types of food. But once you find that balance, it'll change your life.
Contact Karen Pyke and feel amazing again!
We take our car to the mechanic every six months to get a service and a check. Check in and see where you're at. It would be worthwhile.
It's about being aware of it. When I was overweight, I thought that the amount of energy that I had is what I was meant to have. I thought that the way that I was waking up every morning—feeling a bit groggy and wanting to click the snooze button—was how it should be. Being aware of it changed my life. I feel like Superman now, and before I felt like a sloth, but I wasn't aware that I was a sloth. I thought this is just how it was.
Karen: Before, I was actually a vegetarian for six years. I was eating incredibly well. I gained weight. I couldn't lose it. I was tired. I wasn't sleeping that great, had aches and pains. I was eating a great diet, but it wasn't the right diet for me. So it's not just eating bad foods; it's sometimes eating the wrong foods for you. A lot of my clients that come in would write down what they're eating and it's a great diet; it's just not the right diet for them.
That's definitely good advice. I've got friends that have tried doing what I'm doing and on Day 3, they're feeling like they're going to fall apart.
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What is business freedom to you?
What is business freedom to you?
Karen: There are probably a couple of ways of looking at it. Business freedom to me is having a business that doesn't feel like work. I work because I love doing what I do. Also, knowing that I can stop when I need to but having something where I'm giving back to people, like resources so people can still go to my website and find out how to stay healthy. It's also having a business where I can spend time with my family, with my friends. Putting those boundaries in place within a business so that I'm not the business all the time.
It's the vehicle to support them as opposed to the other way around.
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