Does health really equal wealth? Entrepreneur Matthew Wilson certainly thinks so! In this exclusive feature for Manning Global Matthew shares his top tips for staying sharp both in and out of the office…
First, here’s Matt’s journey, in his own words…
So many of us focus solely on work and money, however, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from observing the most successful and happiest among us, is that they prioritise personal well-being above everything else. They realise in order to achieve optimal performance at work and in life, they must first master their own mind and bodies. Only once we’ve built this solid foundation can we begin making our highest contribution to the world and achieve our goals. Furthermore, as someone who struggled with weight-loss, I recently launched my Hacking Keto Facebook group and Personal Development section of my website to help others develop a healthier, happier lifestyle.
When did you discover that it was time to change your diet. What were the symptoms etc.?
Well, if you recall from our last interview, I spent many years officiating hockey at a very high level. This was great because for more than a decade I could eat whatever I wanted without gaining weight. I’d referee a hockey game and burn 2,000 calories in just a few hours. Afterwards, my crew and I would often go for a late night dinner and eat things like pizza, nachos, and of course, some refreshing beers!
I didn’t realise at the time, but I was forming numerous unhealthy habits. I got caught up in the lifestyle of someone who works odd hours, but instead of making good decisions I merely ate whatever I wanted. Since I’d work three to five games each week, I’d burn off excess calories, so I wasn’t able to visually notice the effects of my poor diet through my body composition. Once I retired, however, it quickly became apparent…
In my late twenties, I retired from hockey but unfortunately didn’t retire my poor eating habits. I’d still dine out two or three times a week but I didn’t change my diet in accordance with my new, less-active lifestyle. Keeping with pizza, beer and all the other tasty late-night foods, I quickly began gaining weight. I could see it in my face, neck, and most of all, the expanding notches on my belt.
For more than a year I maintained this unhealthy lifestyle until my (now) wife encouraged me to get back into the gym and begin making better food choices.
How did you change your diet – was it immediate or over time?
It was a gradual shift over time: not wanting to jump back into the gym right away, I began incorporating consistent walks into my daily routine, including walking to work, going for a walk at lunchtime, and another walk after dinner. Even after two weeks, I began to feel more energised and confident.
Over the same time period, my wife and I made a pact to shop only at the local farmers market. We agreed to incorporate more local, fresh produce and organic items into our diet.
Over the following six months, I slowly began getting back into the gym, starting with a single free-weight session each week, until eventually, I was going to the gym four days a week, alternating between weights, cardio and yoga. We also began eliminating high-carbohydrate meals from our diet, eating foods with more leafy greens, protein and healthy fats. This was a major game-changer!
What was the immediate benefits to your health and work life?
When I first began exercising regularly, although I felt better and more fit, I didn’t see great physical results. I was working hard in the gym, but still had love handles and a belly. I couldn’t seem to get lean and cut the weight. It wasn’t until I began eliminating carbohydrates from my diet where my weight loss seriously started to take shape.
As I read more and more research on weight loss, I learned that getting lean isn’t so much about counting calories and spending hours in the gym, but rather, cutting carbs and maintaining a moderate level of activity. I realised the secret to cutting weight (at least for me) is roughly 80% diet!
This sounded crazy since I always thought losing weight meant spending more hours sweating in the gym. However, once I switched to a low-carb-high-fat lifestyle, the weight began to immediately fall off faster than I’ve ever experienced at any other time in my life – in the end, losing nearly 20kg! I now spend less than three hours per week in the gym, simply to maintain my cardiovascular health and muscle mass.
As for business, since our brains run primarily on healthy fat, I’ve noticed a significant boost in my cognitive performance at the office. For example, I used to be terrible at remembering things, and now, I feel as though my brain is running in hyperdrive, and forgetfulness a thing of the past.
What advice would you give to others looking to make the change?
I love helping other people with their weight loss and optimisation goals, which is why I launched the Personal Development section of my website, and most recently my Facebook group. By far, the best advice I give people is not trying to do it all at once. For example, it’s incredibly difficult to wake up one morning and say, ‘starting today, I will go to the gym five days a week and only eat healthy meals.’ This is the reason most people fail when tying to lose weight. You can’t go from 0 to 100 overnight.
For anyone who’s read Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit, you’ll learn that humans are comprised of dozens of various habit loops, and to form a new habit takes time. So, stack the deck in your favour and slowly introduce new (healthy) behaviours over time, and give habits sufficient opportunity to form an automatic muscle memory.
For example, if someone were trying to lose weight, in week one they may merely go for a walk after dinner each night, building this healthy habit into their daily routine to the point where they feel bad if they don’t get their evening walk. For week two, they may adjust meals to always include a side salad and use an app to track the number of carbohydrates they consume on a daily basis. For week three, they could look at their average daily carb intake (usually 200-400 grams), and begin reducing their daily consumption by 50 grams each week, ultimately getting to less than 50 grams per day. Over time, these new healthy habits will form a strong bond in their mind, making it more accessible (and natural) to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Finally, please could you give our readers a few tips on how to optimise your work life through a balanced diet and how you can achieve the ultimate work / life balance…
The most immediate change to optimise my work life was introducing MCT oil into my morning coffee. As I mentioned above, our brains run on healthy fats, and by adding MCT oil to my coffee, I essentially turbocharge my mind each morning. I now feel significantly sharper and get more done in the first four hours of my work day than what used to take me eight hours.
Next, one of the most significant shifts I made was incorporating intermittent fasting into my lifestyle, and if you have a desk job, it can be much easier. Except for my coffee, I skip breakfast, giving my body a full 16-hour break from my last bite of dinner to my first bite the following day. The more research I did, the more I learned how beneficial fasting can be in purging toxins from the body. The first two weeks were undoubtedly difficult, but thankfully sitting at a desk doesn’t expend much energy, so after two weeks my metabolism shifted to no longer feel hungry until approximately noon.
Finally, by adopting a low-carb-high-fat diet, my metabolism shifted to no longer depend on glucose (sugar) for energy, but rather, ketones. There’s a lot of research I won’t get into, but basically, when our body runs on ketones instead of glucose, our mental and physical performance is drastically enhanced. I’ve noticed a major boost in my overall cognitive performance at the office, as well as my strength and endurance during physical activities.
Matthew Wilson is an entrepreneur and investor. He now works as an advisor to startups, helping to build their business model, sales and marketing strategies. He currently writes at GRGCollective.com about personal finance and personal development. For useful ideas on improving personal and professional performance, join his free newsletter.
*The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition.