Slow Down and Focus on What's Important with Olly Wood

March 10, 2023

Slow Down and Focus on What's Important with Olly Wood

March 10, 2023

About This Episode

As business owners, entrepreneurs, and solopreneurs, we know that there is always going to be a level of stress involved. There’s always volatility and a level of risk tolerance that we must expose ourselves to, day in and day out. 

They say stress is inevitable, but stress is one of the leading causes of burnout, fatigue, and a plethora of health issues that we face today. If we can’t raise our threshold for tolerating stress by taking holistic care of ourselves, especially with our busy schedules, we will run ourselves to the ground. 

“Your health can either be a liability or an asset,” Olly Wood tells us in this episode of Brilliant Thoughts, a SUCCESS magazine podcast—and as entrepreneurs, we want to make it an asset in order to sustain our long-term success. When we are healthy, we have more energy, better focus, and better cognitive abilities to support our decision-making, which leads to an overall increase in our productivity and efficiency.

How do we make our health an asset? We begin by shifting our mindset about health: instead of seeing it as something we “have to” work on, we need to start looking at it as something we “want to” fit into our priorities. “We have time for the things we make time for,” Olly says. It is time we start looking at health as a business decision, blocking time for it and making it part of the culture and conversation in order to show up at our best.

Knowing how our bodies work helps us design our days in such a way that what we eat and do in the morning gets processed and serves as energy to sustain us in being productive throughout the whole day. It all starts with mindfulness and being in tune with ourselves.

The Body Reset

Olly Wood is a nutritionist and exercise specialist with over 20,000 hours of coaching experience under his belt. He founded Body Reset and created the Body Reset system to help entrepreneurs and people from all walks of life be more in tune with their bodies, build a health skill set, and design their days with a more intentional awareness of our health.

There are three health anchors in this system: the psychological, digestive, and physical aspects of our health. All three are interlinked and integrated into our daily lives to help boost our energy levels and improve our health from the inside out.

It begins with mindfulness, and I don’t mean meditating on a mountaintop for two hours. It could be something as simple as focusing on your breathing—before you eat so you can digest your meal better or regulate your stress during a meeting—and listening to your body when you eat, exercise, have fun, and rest.

Athletes have set progression times: When they are preparing for an upcoming match, they have set blocks for when they train, when they rest, and what to do once they win or lose that match. “In business, you have no rules, no timeline, and no finish date,” Olly shares.

We accumulate stress from an 8 to 10-hour day working on projects, then jump into a circuit class or workout after work, which only adds more stress on top of our stress. We eat a high-carb breakfast the next day, which might allow us to recover faster from the workout but ends up affecting our focus and cognitive ability throughout the day. And we try to eat our lunch as fast as we can or settle for a smoothie because we have no time left to eat and be mindful of our meals, which affects our digestion and nutrient absorption.

That’s why we end up accumulating body fat and breaking down muscle tissue, despite following that diet and workout program.

That’s why we need to take care of our health and our bodies holistically, which involves the psychological, digestive, and physical aspects of our health.

Psychological

This refers to our ability to manage our nervous system. It also involves our self-compassion—we need to understand that we live in a heightened stress space all day, and we need to factor in how to address the stress we get from that when designing our day. Lastly, is our purpose. As entrepreneurs, it is a good thing when we feel excited by our work, chase goals, and get a sense of fulfillment by putting out fires and building new projects.

But we need to guard ourselves against what Olly calls a “cortisol addiction”—where we get so focused on always chasing after something that we can’t get up and go unless we have a level of stress to push us.

Sometimes, we feel “energized” the whole day: we get things done, even when we skipped a few meals and slept poorly the night before. But what we mistake for energy is just adrenaline. That’s why we find ourselves burned out by the end of the week and spending the whole weekend trying to catch up on sleep.

Our bodies need fundamental sex hormones (testosterone, estrogen, etc.) for them to function at an ideal level. When we are running on adrenaline, a phenomenon called “pregnenolone steal” or simply "cortisol steal" occurs, wherein the body prefers producing cortisol and adrenaline instead of our fundamental hormones. 

That’s why we often find our energy slipping in the afternoon, so we rely on coffee to perk us up, and we're unable to slow down by the end of our day, so we drink alcohol to calm us down. This also affects our metabolism, leading to weight gain and loss of muscle mass.

Digestive

They say you are what you eat, but there’s more to nutrition than what calories and macros you put in your body. As Olly says, “You are not what you eat; you are what you absorb that matters.” Having a healthy, well-balanced diet is important, but so is the manner in which you eat it.

If you wolf down your food or opt for smoothies because, as an entrepreneur, you are always on the go and too busy to sit down and enjoy your meal, you don’t allow your body the time and mental space to digest and absorb the nutrients in what you eat. Before you think of working out, you need to establish a health baseline for your body, and you get that through nutrition.

Fitness is more than exercise and counting calories—if your body is tired and is not absorbing the nutrients necessary to produce energy that sustains all movement and bodily functions, and you throw in a workout on top of that, you are only putting more stress on your body. Sometimes, the right answer to fitness isn’t exercise, sometimes it is sleep; and other times, it is making sure you block out time in your day for your meal times so you are in a rest-and-digest space when you eat.

Understanding the gut-brain connection is also important because it explains how the different "gut buddies" in our digestive tract are nourished by the foods we eat, which in turn affects the functioning of our immune system and digestive system. That’s why we get cravings—because we feed the bugs in our gut and create a strong connection between our gut and brain. And it also affects the quality of our sleep.

“When we start to realize that 90% of our serotonin, the feel-good factor, is in our gut, we realize that that has a significant impact on melatonin production and deep quality sleep,” Olly shares.

“If you consume something, it's not truly something in your body until it's something that's absorbed through that gut wall,” he adds.

Over the years, the effects of our bad eating habits and diet accumulates. That’s why, by our mid-40s to 50s, we start to notice that foods that didn’t upset us before are now becoming an issue. We need to tune in to our body, how we're breathing, how we're eating, and what space we're doing it in, in order to ensure that we get the proper nourishment.

Physical

Olly’s mentor once told him, “If you're tired, you can either work out or sleep. One is just slightly more productive."

Exercise is crucial to health, but it isn’t a stand-alone piece. 

From a weight-loss perspective, we must think about the type of activity we are doing and how we are doing it. And the more we train our bodies, the less efficient we get at burning fat because we become more effective at contracting individual muscles.

Exercise can also be an activity to release and relax, but if we want to get the most out of it, we need to do it with a lot more intentionality. 

Designing your life

You become the routines and habits that you create. Often, what prevents us from living healthy lifestyles is our all-or-nothing attitude—it works well in business. Not so much in matters of health, nutrition, and exercise.

There’s no such thing as perfect nutrition—the goal is just to do the best that we can, being conscious of what food we eat, how we eat, and where we are doing it. Avoid inflammatory foods as much as you can and make sure that our diet promotes gut health. 

More importantly, enjoy the meal. We aren’t cars that just need a quick gas refill. When we inhale our food because we are in a hurry, it can cause malabsorption of nutrients. Life is about enjoying the little things alongside the big ones, and enjoying your food is one of them. When we are in a calm, rest-and-digest space, we are able to digest and absorb the food we eat and nourish the body.

These nutrients are crucial for energy production. We burn calories not just when we move, but even with basic life functions such as thinking, breathing, and sleeping. When you aren’t eating properly, and nutrients aren’t absorbed properly by the body, you have less energy. We find ourselves lacking motivation to workout or think at work.

Exercise is crucial, but so are rest and recovery. If we don’t allow our bodies to recover, we fail to build muscles and tissues crucial for mobility. Eventually, if we are exhausted physically and mentally due to a lack of rest, we will burn out.

And once we burn out, it becomes harder to find the motivation to chase after our goals and do the things we are supposed to be doing. Our inner dialogue becomes more negative, affecting our self-compassion, and the cycle feeds itself.

We need self-compassion too. “The most resilient people are the ones that are nice to themselves,” Olly says. We face enough stress at work, in our environments, and at home, to spend so much time beating ourselves up for every failure. That translates into health as well.

You can start out small, finding 10-minute pockets of time in your day to go out for a walk, disconnect from your computer screen, and give your mind a break from the constant thinking. “It allows you to put your mind in the right space so that you're not starting on that reactive foot,” Olly says.

We need time to eat, exercise, and play as much as we need to show up at work and for our loved ones. Think of it as front loading your buckets. You need your cup to be full so that you can keep pouring into other buckets that matter.

By being mindful and aware of ourselves and thinking of health as something we want to work on, instead of something we have to factor into our day, we shift from simply relying on our willpower to make today better to designing our day in a way that makes it happen by default.

“Looking at health as an opportunity to get more out of life—more adventure, more energy, more fun—that's how I make this enjoyable, right?” Olly says.

Where to follow Olly Wood

Find Olly on Instagram, YouTube, and other major social media platforms!

You can also check out his website, BodyReset.online, and join their five-day reset challenge for free.

DISCLAIMER: The people interviewed are well-trained experts and highly skilled in their areas of practice. They take many safety precautions prior to attempting the activities described. The activities or research discussed in these podcasts should not be attempted without qualified supervision and training with professionals.

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