The MindFuel Entrepreneur Podcast

Episode 168: 3 Types Of Stress To Avoid And Repair As An Entrepreneur With Maja Miller

Maja Miller is a 7 figure business owner who specializes in working with high performing women to find the energy and feel the best they’ve ever felt in their bodies with easy to use systems, coaching and tools. She runs the Inside Out Protocol, her 90 day transformation program for female entrepreneurs and innovators which helps them find the energy they need to scale their business and accomplish their goals.

On this episode, we talk about the connection between a healthy body and a healthy business, adrenal stress and how that might be affecting your online business.

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Your body is your vessel that you're sailing through life on. You only get one. So the thing that I'm doing most consistently for my business is taking care of my body first. If I am not in a place where I'm firing on all cylinders - emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually - then I can't be of service to anybody else. 

Share more details about what you do, and how you got started as an entrepreneur

I specialize in working with women that have a lot of stress in their lives, and it was a journey that I had to walk myself through. That's why I feel so passionately about what I do right now.

The short end of it is I've had acute prolonged stress for decades, then there was a moment in my life where I was so sick that my body completely shut down. I had to nurse myself back into health.

I realized that this is not rare for entrepreneurs, that oftentimes we are burning the candle at both ends. We are literally turning ourselves inside out for our clients, for our teams.

Whether you're an entrepreneur in your own business or an intrepreneur in somebody else's business, oftentimes, it's the same thing - we're just giving to everybody else and we get table scraps.

And you can sustain that way of being for a period of time, but what I find is that entrepreneurs, once they get into their thirties and forties, especially women, especially if they have children, which I do not have, but a lot of the women that I work with do. They're just running on fumes and they just need a completely new way of looking at their bodies as the number one tool in order to build their businesses.

What I always say is you got to feel like a million bucks to make a million bucks. So that's a little bit about my journey and my background.

I was a division one athlete, I got my MBA at 24 years old, I did a super high stress corporate Fortune five job. And then I became an entrepreneur because I thought that that would be low stress.

So I took all of that experience and created the Inside Out protocol for biz babes. I know that the word "babe" can be a little... some people love it, some people hate it, but I'm a pretty casual person. So it's like a biz babe, somebody that's doing stuff in life as a mover and a shaker.

How did you start helping women with adrenal stress?

I didn't jump right into working with adrenal distress dysfunction. I was working at AT&T Interactive in California, really fell in love with Pilates while I was out there.

When I decided that I was done with California, I wanted to hit the do-over button. I moved to Austin, Texas in 2012 to start my own Pilates and cycling studio. So I launched in 2013 and had multiple locations. We were kind of like the soul cycle of Pilates, is kind of how I describe it.

It was group Pilates classes, I designed my own Pilates reformer, did my own teacher training program, and I worked with high performing women. That was my clientele base.

I would say about two maybe three years in, I realized that no matter how much my clients worked out, many of them were still sick and they couldn't lose weight and they couldn't sleep at night.

They had off-the-charts anxiety and off-the-charts insomnia, and it was like I was looking at myself a few years earlier. So I created the first version of my transformation program for my brick and mortar business.

Then in 2019, I decided to shut down all of my brick and mortar businesses and focus on bringing the program online. So that was kind of the evolution of it.

What would be the easiest way for entrepreneurs to incorporate wellness or living healthier or reducing stress into their lives?

First of all, if you don't make time for health in your life, your body won't make time for you.

What I have found is that entrepreneurs are different than a lot of other kind of segments. You need to reduce friction in your life, otherwise you're not going to be able to do something.

So if I'm working with you one-on-one and I'm going to say, oh, you've got to do these hour long workouts, and food prep is going to take 12 hours a week and it's going to be really expensive, and you have to take all these supplements... us humans are hardwired to do two things: one is to seek pleasure, and then the other is to avoid pain.

So anytime that there's those pain points in any system that you have, we are hardwired as humans to avoid them. And so one of the things that I created in my program are systems that give you time back so that you can refocus your energy and do some of that self-care stuff.

So how do you create a system around food prep? With my system, with two hours a week and about a $150, you can have all of your food done for the entire week.

One of the first things that I do is a 15 minute breakfast hack. That is specifically, if you give me 15 minutes, I'll give you breakfast for the entire week, especially formulated for adrenal dysfunction.

I kind of specialize in creating these systems for entrepreneurs because we don't have a lot of time. We have a lot of relying on us. We're juggling 34 balls at once.

So for me, it's not just, what is your goal? I actually don't think that goals are that important. They have to exist. But I would say that more importantly, it's the system that you need to create in order to achieve that goal.

For me, food prep is the single most important thing that you can do. I call it the hedgehog principle, your hedgehog effect. A hedgehog has one defense mechanism - it's to curl up into a little ball. So when things are going nuts in your business, my hedgehog is food preparation.

What is adrenal dysfunction, and how do we know if we have it?

Before we can talk about adrenal dysfunction, we have to talk about stress. There's three different kinds of stress, and I like to call them hidden stressors.

These three types of stressors impact your hormone, your immune, your digestion, your detoxification, your energy production, and your nervous systems.

So the first kind of stress is physical stress. That's going to be like trauma or micro trauma to your body, maybe a car accident or repetitive injuries. What a lot of people don't know is intense and prolonged exercise can be considered physical stress - repetitive injuries, muscle injuries, fractures, those kinds of things.

And then the second stress is a big one - chemical stress. So you've got anything from inflammatory foods to additives in foods, pesticides, GMOs, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, drugs over the counter medicines, poor sleep, lack of exercise.

Here's a big one, especially in the United States, is antibiotics. Those are all considered chemical stressors.

Then the third category, I call them perceived stressors. And it's not that the things that are in this category aren't stressful. It's that if you and I experienced the same thing, let's say we both lost our job or lost a loved one, what I mean by perceived stress is that you're going to handle that stress in a different way than I will.

Fear, worry, anxiety, sometimes excitement, can be in this category. Lack of purpose, existential angst, negative perceptions, bad attitudes.

So those are the three different kinds of stress, and what's important to understand is that your body has this flight or fight nervous system. Your sympathetic nervous system and then your parasympathetic nervous system. One is rest and digest, and then the other one is is fight or flight.

Anytime you experience any of those stressors that I listed off, your nervous system, your fight or flight response, goes turns on your adrenals. They are these two little lumps of tissue that sit on top of your kidneys. They're really small and weigh about the size of a couple of paperclips and they are about the size of a sugar cube.

But they control hormone regulation, electrolyte balance, your fight or flight response, sleep and wake cycles, blood sugar regulation. They also turn on something that I called the adrenal fat switch.

If you think about the way that stress used to be, you were in the Sahara desert and there's a lion who's hungry, and you have to get away from that lion. And so your adrenals kick on, they produce cortisol, which is also known as the stress hormone. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone, which means it breaks down your body.

So in the short term, it actually makes you feel good. It brings energy to your big muscle movers. You have more oxygen going to your big muscle movers so that you can run away. You can breathe more and your pupils change.

What's happening in the short-term is your body is saying like, wow, this is survival. Well, if you go into the modern environment, there's all of these stressors - text messages, emails - all these modern things that we've never had to deal with before.

So our system is constantly in a state of fight or flight. Our system is constantly being flooded with cortisol. The good part of this system is that it gets you through short-term craziness, but what also happens is it prolongs any long-term function.

So fertility, for example. Your immune system goes down. There's all of these things that your body kind of turns off. And so you're putting the break on those long-term systems and putting the gas on these short term systems.

Well, that's fine, if occasionally a lion is chasing you on the Sahara, but we're living our lives today where it's just constant. So what ends up happening is your adrenals are part of all these other systems, and it creates something called metabolic chaos in your body. So that's essentially what is happening.

Why it's a big deal right now, and why so many women are suffering from things like brain fog, quality of sleep, mood issues with memory thyroid functions, low libido - your stress and your adrenal hormones are off. Digestion is off. You've got weight and fat distribution issues. You've got blood sugar regulation, a ton of inflammation, bone turnover, muscle integrity, almost like a nuclear reaction at a cellular level.

It creates all of this inflammation in your body, and inflammation is the source of all the disease. So in a nutshell, that's kind of what's happening when we are living this really modern lifestyle.

What are the first few things that you get your clients to do to work on their adrenal stress?

One of the first things that I do is I have them take an adrenal stress level test. This is a quick test, it's online so you don't have to go to a doctor and spend hundreds of dollars. You don't have to take time to go to the doctor. And it helps me understand what phase of adrenal dysfunction you're in.

There are four phases. The first phase is where we just want to live all the time and that's thriving. A lot of people aren't there. I would say like maybe 10% of the population is thriving.

Then you've got the stressed phase. The next phase is what I call it tired and wired, and then that fourth phase is completely crashed, and it's exactly what it sounds like.

The important thing to understand is that depending on where you're at in adrenal dysfunction, I would work with somebody around nutrition and supplementation and exercising in a crash phase very differently than I would with somebody that is maybe in a stressed phase.

So the first thing that I want to do is I want to place where are you at. I think the real big, frustrating thing is that a lot of times we don't feel well.

And especially as women, we will go to a doctor, they run a couple of labs and they say everything's in range. If I had a dollar for every single time me or one of my clients said, oh, I got labs done and my regular doctor said that everything's in range. I would literally be giving Bezos a run for his money.

A lot of doctors just don't necessarily understand a lot of this stuff. It's not how they were trained in medical school. In the United States, if you have an emergency, it's an amazing place to be. But when we start looking at overall preventative things, it's one of the most unhealthy countries to be.

So for me, it's just wanting to understand what's going on, where are you at, so that we can do some very tailored, specific things around delicious food, around moving your body, around smart supplementation.

Then after that, I would say the single most important thing that you can do, if you are in any stage of adrenal dysfunction is to get 20 to 30 grams of protein within 30 to 45 minutes of waking up.

Before I have you do anything in my program, before I ask you for your precious time, I give you a system that in 15 minutes, you'll be able to nail your breakfast for the entire week. It's a breakfast that's formulated to start to start healing your adrenals.

I use macro nutrients, proteins, fats, and your carbs in order to help to impact cortisol levels. So I would say those are the two steps: one is, where are you at? Step two is you have to eat breakfast.

Here's the sick thing about adrenal dysfunction. There's this cycle that happens, and part of the cycle is that your appetite changes. So a lot of the women that I work with aren't hungry until like one or two o'clock in the afternoon, and that's actually creating even more cortisol in your system.

So those are the two things that I do right away. Another thing is when it comes to biohacking, intermittent fasting, a lot of these things they're actually created for men. The bio hacking industry is really created by men for men for the most part.

I was just talking to one of my clients, she's the CEO of a digital agency. She was working with a health and wellness practitioner, and this person was telling her no carbs and also telling her that she needs to do intermittent fasting. Those are two of the worst things that you can do if you have adrenal dysfunction.

What do you do on a regular basis to work on your mindset, to work on your own health, and also to work on your own business?

In my program I have something called my identity perfect morning method. I think that the biggest mistake that we make is we're constantly trying to figure out what we need to do in order to have all these things in our lives, and that's really putting the cart in front of the horse.

A lot of people will say, well, what's your morning routine? I will give them my morning routine, but then they're not able to do it. And so I think it's really important to take a step back, and it's who do you need to be in order to do the things that you need to do in your life, so that you can have the things that you want to have in your life?

I could give you all of the things - my perfect morning - and you may or may not be able to execute on it unless you start with identity. Who you are, and be eating at a conscious and subconscious level.

So I always start with, what are all the things that you want to have? What do you need to do in order to do those things?

Now take a step back. Who do you need to be in order to do all those things? Well, maybe I need to be consistent. Maybe I need to be loving. Maybe I need to be dedicated. Maybe I need to be all of those things.

It's the being that enables the doing. So I always start my morning, like my morning routine thinking and just my life in general, like, who am I? Who am I trying to be right now?

My morning routines are super simple. I don't wake up with an alarm clock, I protect my mornings. Sleep is something that's very important to me. My morning method actually starts the night before where I'm getting at least eight to nine hours of sleep every single night.

And then it's typically, first thing in the morning, I'll go to the bathroom, chug a bunch of water, get back into bed, take my supplements. Then I will typically do a 5 to 15 minute meditation in the morning.

My smoothies are made for, I usually do them in three to five day chunks. And then I grab a smoothie as I'm getting ready in the morning, showering if I'm on calls. So my morning routine is really simple, and I think keeping it simple makes it more achievable.

I think that it would be very easy for me to come on and say things are super easy all the time, and I have everything figured out. That's just not the case.

Entrepreneurship is hard. There's a lot of ups and downs. Sometimes I'm like, yes! And then I'm like, no! Yes! And so there's that up and down.

I think the thing that is most important is just cutting yourself a little bit of slack. I think that we tend to be so incredibly hard on ourselves, and it's okay to have highs and lows as you're going through and figuring all of this stuff out.

I think there's a big shift for me, which is what I'm doing for my business is taking care of myself first. I fill my cup first and the world gets what runs over my cup. I think a lot of times people try to compartmentalize, well, what are you doing for business? What are you doing for wellness?

Your body is your vessel that you're sailing through life on. You only get one. So the thing that I'm doing most consistently for my business is taking care of my body first, taking care of myself first so that I can take care of my clients, take care of my husband, take care of my family.

If I am not in a place where I'm firing on all cylinders - emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually - then I can't be of service to anybody else.

So first and foremost, making that massive switch, which is, I don't get to burn the candles at both ends. No, I don't get to work until two o'clock in the morning. I'm doing those kinds of things to take care of my body first.

And then just like giving myself a little bit of slack around. Sometimes things are going well, sometimes things are challenging. And I think business is supposed to be easy, right? You build a list, and then sell them things that they want. So focusing on like lead generation is really important in any business.

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Links & Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Learn more about Maja at majamiller.com

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