Welcome to the Salon Owner’s Podcast, Phorest FM Episode 70. Co-hosted by Killian Vigna and Zoé Bélisle-Springer, Phorest FM is a weekly show that puts forth a mix of interviews with industry thought-leaders, salon/spa marketing tips, company insights and information on attending Phorest Academy webinars. Phorest FM is produced every Monday morning for your enjoyment with a cup of coffee on your day off.

Phorest FM Episode 70

When we hear about work/life balance, we often hear the words “unplug”, “meditate”, “exercise” and/or “let go”. The problem is that there is no one-size-fits-all model of work/life balance. We’re all different and while meditation may work for one person, it might not work for the next. Work/life balance means something different for each and every individual. But it seems almost impossible to achieve this said balance nowadays To discuss this topic, Killian and Zoe have the great pleasure to welcome Aaron Carroll of Aaron Carroll Health to the show this week. 

“There are often two main aspects associated with work/life balance – the first is lack of time and scheduling conflicts, and the other is feeling overwhelmed, overloaded or stressed by the pressures of multiple roles.”



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Killian Vigna: Welcome to the Phorest FM Podcast, Episode 70. I’m Killian Vigna.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: And I’m Zoe Belisle-Springer. In part two of our #30Days2Grow special interview series, personal trainer and health coach Aaron Carroll joins us to discuss how maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a work/life balance plays a crucial part in finding happiness.

Killian Vigna: So, grab yourself a cup of coffee, sit back, relax, and join us weekly for all your salon’s business and marketing needs… Good morning, Zoe!

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Good morning, Killian. How are you?

Killian Vigna: I’m good now. So, week two, or we’re pretty much into the second week of #30Days2Grow now. Last week’s episode was about visual merchandising, so it’s good to see everyone putting their photos in. I think one woman was saying that it was only half an hour of work to put her whole stand together, which she had never really done before, and it was one of her highest gross in days in the end just from designing or creating a stand with a few products, like.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Oh, that. And also people have been posing in a group and saying that sales has been going on already, like 15 minutes in, or they’re running Facebook competitions and they’re getting the most shares they’ve ever gotten before. It’s really, really good. A lot of engagement. Rowena actually even jumped into that Facebook group and gave a few tips, a few additional tips on her own account. That was really good.

Killian Vigna: And there’s been a lot of energy coming out of this week, so with it being the first week. There’s already people who have gone full into this with their team. So, we thought to ourselves, “Well, this week on Phorest FM, why not talk about having a healthy lifestyle and that work balance,” and we thought there’s no better man to talk about it than Aaron Carroll of Aaron Carroll Health.

Good morning, Aaron!

Aaron Carroll: Hey, guys, How is it going?

Killian Vigna: How are you getting on?

Aaron Carroll: It’s terrible. It’s after Easter now so I’m just trying to shake off these Easter eggs. Doing burpees in my bedroom.

Killian Vigna: This is our fitness instructor telling us this, yeah.

Aaron Carroll: Kinder’s the best.

Killian Vigna: Everything in moderation, sure, isn’t that right?

Aaron Carroll: That’s what it’s about. Balance.

Killian Vigna: Now Aaron, I’m gonna get you introduce yourself of course, but for anyone that was at the Salon Owners Summit, Aaron Carroll was actually supposed to be holding a workshop about this; about the healthy lifestyles and finding work/life balance. Unfortunately, you were actually stuck in Cancun for a couple of days, weren’t you?

Aaron Carroll: Yeah. It’s kind of a long story, but I suppose on the way back from Cancun, one of the girls at the airport decided not to print a lot of the boarding passes from Philadelphia to Ireland, so it wasn’t just me and my wife. It was also another bunch of kids, another family, a bunch of children, and minus ten degrees in Philadelphia wearing shorts and tee shirts for two days because of one girl’s decision not to print people’s boarding passes. But yeah, it was quite an eventful day because I was panicking, I was screaming at people about, “I have to be at this going on in Dublin!” They’re like, “We don’t care, sir. I apologize for the inconvenience, but there’s nothing we can do.”

It was a bit of an eventful 48 hours of my life, but nonetheless, here I am. It’s led me to Phorest FM and still getting to talk about health, so that’s a good thing.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, that’s mental. I thought it was actually weather reasons you couldn’t fly over. I didn’t realize someone just didn’t print your passes.

Aaron Carroll: It was funny because I think it was fate. It was a bunch of things because it was kind of close to when I was arriving back in Ireland, we had- obviously, whenever I do something like that or a public talk, I like to prepare beforehand, and I did a lot of prep for this. I was practicing the whole way over on the plane as well, and sending the slideshows and everything over for presentations. It was just funny because there was a delay of two hours coming out of Cancun. Then when I finally took off, because of the weather in Philadelphia, it was circling for an hour and a half. Then, the plane landed and the whole time, me and my wife are like, “Get out of our way!” Then there was an hour delay for the luggage coming from the plane to our connection. Then when we got to the point where we had to get on the plane, they said, “Sorry, sir. We can’t let you in. You haven’t got a boarding pass, along with these other 15 people.”

There were no other flights out of Philadelphia for two and a half days, so it was interesting. I think the owner of the gym that I’m general manager of wasn’t too happy either. But that’s life. We’re here. We’re here. We made it!

Killian Vigna: I’m just thinking. The moral of the story is; you kept a level head. You kept calm. You didn’t blow a lid or anything, because that’s what this episode is about, right?

Aaron Carroll: Oh, of course. Yeah, I wasn’t screaming at the hostess. No, I did. I kept calm. What will be will be. That’s kind of the way you have to approach some things because sometimes when you’re stressing out, most of the stress comes like, sometimes if the end result is inevitable and you’re causing stress for yourself, the only person you’re gonna work up is yourself. Sometimes you’ve just gotta take deep breath and kind of realize, if you can’t change the outcome, what are you stressing for? Obviously, I was concerned because there was obviously an implication on other people and I was gonna get a chance to help a lot of people. But no matter how crazy I would have gotten in that type of circumstance, people would have probably thought, who’s your man screaming on the plane? That’s not a good place to lose your cool, really, is it?

So eh, no, but it’s all good.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, you’re just gonna wind everyone up. That little story right there kind of ties perfectly into what this episode is about. Aaron, I know we kind of just jumped into it there, but for anyone that might not have heard of you, do you wanna give a bit of background about yourself there?

Aaron Carroll: Yeah, I suppose. For myself, the way I link in- even though I predominately work within a health sector, it ties straight over to the beauty aspect of life as well. A lot of it comes from recreation. What do people do when they’re looking after themselves? Where do they go? How do they treat themselves? It all ties in together in one context. But also in another context, my wife and I, before we met, she was the manager of the spa, and we bought over that spa and we’re both technically the spa owners there as well. I have that side of developing a spa business too, and I have a very stressed wife from time to time that has to deal with the pressures of day-to-day activity. Things like, for example, system software going down, client complaints. Everything filters in one way or another through me too, so I’m an output source for that also. I totally understand.

My whole family… My grandmother was one of the first people in Ireland, if not Europe I suppose, back in her time to open a beauty training college here in Ireland. She had several across the country. Both my aunties own that now, and my dad actually works in there, teaching- my dad, William Gallaghan, works there as well teaching hairdressing. There’s a big engraved beauty and spa side to me that people don’t really know about. It is a massive part of my life.

Killian Vigna: It’s not like you’ve just floated in and out of this throughout your life. This is ingrained in you, basically.

Aaron Carroll: Of course. If you asked me to do gel nails on someone, I probably could give it a good go, but it wouldn’t feel confident. I’d be a lot better at telling people how to try and balance stuff around their type of lifestyle, I reckon, than any of the other stuff.

Killian Vigna: When we first decided about getting you on this show, we got your slide deck that you were supposed to do for the workshops. The first slide I saw was contraindications in the spa workplace, and I was looking and going, yeah, this guy’s got some industry knowledge going on here. I suppose to kick off the show with our first questions, what to you, are the biggest contraindications in the salon workplace?

Aaron Carroll: Well, when it comes to health, one thing I always recommend to people is to remember that unless people are balancing their lifestyle outside that workplace in particular, it’s gonna have huge contraindications onto what you’re doing now on daily basis. How you function, how you approach people. Things tend to have a ripple effect. When you’re working in the service industry, obviously there’s a bit of retail in there too, but when you’re working within such a close-knitted people-based industry, you don’t only have your own stresses on a daily basis. You also have to be an open ear. You listen to what other people are going through. As well as having to try and run your own business, you might also be working as a therapist. You might be working as a receptionist. You might be doing all these things on a daily basis where you’re multitasking. You’re putting all this added pressure on yourself.

For me, obviously, there’s the physical contraindications. Things like heavy physical workload and sitting down for prolonged periods of time. Those things. The most important thing is yourself and your own health and well-being, and that generally comes from stress. That is one of the main things that I suppose we will touch on today when we’re talking about managing a healthy life balance, work/life balance.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. One of the most obvious problems, I think, is movement. You’re always on your feet all day when you’re in a spa, when you’re running a salon, or even just as a therapist, as a receptionist. We’ve both- Killian and I, did work placements in a salon, and I think that was one of the main takeaways for me, is “Jesus, this is exhausting.” Just because I’m standing up all day. I’m not even doing any treatments or services with any clients. From a personal trainer point of view, how does this affect your body?

Aaron Carroll: One of the main things is, it has its positives and its negatives. I suppose one of the main positives is that there’s added energy expenditure, but when it comes to negatives and solving those negatives would be the downward compression on your lower back. Also, a lot of the time, even though you are standing, it tends to be more a hunched position. Say you’re doing bookings, you’re at a laptop. Even though you might be standing, you’re at a laptop. If you’re doing a massage, you’re hunched over, tension in the front of your shoulders. Did you ever see, in the doctor’s office, for example, you might see that poster of a woman. Say she’s in her 20’s. She’s standing nice and tall. Then she’s 25 and started to hunch over. Then she’s 45 and she’s hunched over. Then she’s 80 and she’s almost like, “Put me in the coffin already.” That way.

One thing you can be focused on when you’re doing a job like that while you’re standing all day and you’re constantly working in the front plane of your body. Pretty much from your chest, from your shoulders. There’s constant tension in those. One thing you can do to help rectify that or balance it out is, if you’re to do simple exercises for the back of your shoulders. My dad used to jab his two index fingers between the back of my shoulder blades and I’d just be like, “Whoo! Nice and tall!” I don’t so much recommend that.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, that seems a little extreme [laughs]!

Aaron Carroll: I know, it wasn’t in a violent way. It was just, “Stand up there tall, will you?” Don’t be slouching. One of the most important things is working on stretching the front of your shoulders and creating a stronger posture of your shoulders. Everything at the back. You’re doing that stuff at home, on the way to work. You’re on the laptop at home on the couch, you’re driving to work, you’re texting on your phone. It’s all being pulled forward into that frontal plane. If you can work on just stretching the front of the shoulders and releasing that tension, and then engaging your posture – like your scapula and the back of your shoulders, your posterior deltoids. Then that’ll help you stand taller and help correct some of your issues that’ll probably end up hurting your back in the future.

What I always say is, if you are putting any exercise regime into play, always try and do two-to-one posterior to anterior. If you’re doing any push movements, always do double the amount of pull movements. That’s one of the number one tips I can give when it comes to rectifying any of those issues. Obviously, core strength is really important too. If you get into a routine of doing maybe a plank. If you Google “planks” or YouTube “planks”, or type in “Aaron Carroll planks” on YouTube, I’m sure something will pop up there of me showing you how to stabilize your core more. It’s really important that you treat your core, so your midsection, very delicately and that – it should be the strongest part of your body. It should be like your tree trunk.

Its, of course – whereas your upper shoulders and your back, they need to be as mobile as possible. If you’re hunching over, you’re actually pulling apart the lumbar column of your spine. Delicately, but nonetheless, if it’s every single day for eight to 14 hours and you’re in the hunched position, you’re gonna pull your lower core apart, and you’re actually gonna put tension in the front of your shoulders, whereas what you want is as much stability in your lower back as possible. You want it to be strong, and you want your upper back, your shoulders to be as loosey-goosey as possible. That’ll help with that being on your feet all day, being in that slight hunched over position. If you can implement one or two things like that on a day-to-day basis, even three times a week. If you think about it, you could be doing that 12 to 14 hours a day. Even just by implementing 30 seconds four times a day, that’ll help reverse that poster you see at the doctor’s of the person making their way down to the ground.

That’s a fun way of putting it, I suppose.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Out of curiosity, is it better to be seated or standing?

Aaron Carroll: This is the thing. What I would say is, they both have their pros and their cons. Because if you’re seated, it even furthers… If you’re doing nails, for example, you’re in a seated position. That’s what I was saying. In a spa, you can be mixed because you could be sitting down doing nails all day, or doing a facial, and then you could be up on your feet and you could be running around from treatment room to treatment room or doing bookings att he reception. It’s definitely better to be standing, in my opinion. But you need to be moving. That’s the important thing. If you’re standing still in one position all day, you have that constant pressure downwards on your spinal column.

If you’re moving around, it’s a lot better. I recommend taking maybe one or two quick walks, or if you’re on your break, don’t go somewhere to sit down if you’re gonna be standing in one spot or sitting down when you come back to nail treatments. I’d rather recommend going for a walk. Grab a coffee. Walk somewhere. See something. Get some fresh air for yourself. Be on your phone. Text on your phone. Email. Do whatever you want to do on your break, but don’t do it in a position where you’re already stuck in for eight to 10 to 12 hours a day. That’s really important. Just general movement. The human body is made to move. If you’re static too long in one position, or standing still or sitting down, it’s going to have its negative effects on your body. Although, to be honest, sitting down… if you’re sitting down at an office for eight to nine hours, it’s much worse than being in a standing position, in my opinion, and running around on your feet all day, because of energy expenditure.

Killian Vigna: You get that dead weight. It pulls your whole body down. You were just saying earlier. Everyone knows that feeling when you’re kind of standing in a queue or even at a shop. After a couple of minutes of not moving, you just get this dead weight feeling.

Aaron Carroll: Exactly. I remember, I actually got sciatica when I was 17 years old, and that was because I was obsessed with, “Oh, I gotta get six pack!” And I thought that by me sprinting home and doing a thousand crunches every day after school, I would get some type of ab-ature going on. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. I ended up injuring my back. The sciatica comes around every so often, and I’ve put in a lot of preventative measures to be able to prevent that. One of the things I notice is, because I own my own business – Aaron Carroll Health – and I was predominately just working with that in personal training, where I was standing on my feet all day.

As soon as I started going back into general manager role of a gym, the first three months would be total agony for me. My sciatica would come back with an absolute vengeance, and the reason that I could see that happening was because I was sitting in that hunched over position. My shoulders were being pulled forward, my upper back was being pulled up, and it was stretching out that lumbar column, the lower back, and was exposing my nerves there. Whereas, your lower column should be strong and stable. You should be able to hold that, and your upper back should be free. Going from a general manager role to my own business, to doing on-floor personal training, and then going back into general manager role, I was almost crippled with pain the first two or three months of going back into almost an office or a seated-based position. I would definitely, even from seeing it from my own personal experience, and clients upon clients over the years – because everything is going very IT these days. Everything is going very office based.

I can see a trend. Even with my wife, for example. She suffers from some slight tendonitis as well, so she finds that when this acts up, being on your feet and doing all these movements can become more of an issue, especially doing massages and stuff like that. In general, I would definitely say, from seeing when she moves or when she’s seated, and also from my own personal experience, being on your feet and moving. That’s the most important. Movement, movement, movement. I can’t recommend moving your body enough.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: How do you get to the point where you can actually motivate yourself to do that though? Because a lot of times, at the end of the day, it’s like “I’m so tired, all I wanna do is to sit down by the TV, watch a show, and have downtime.” How do you actually get into that routine of moving after work?

Aaron Carroll: A routine of moving? The thing is, I always say do what makes you happy first and foremost. A lot of this stuff spawns from mental health. Someone goes to me, “Look Aaron, I can’t stand the gym.” I’ve had people come in – a crucial part of my business in the industry I work in is selling gym memberships. A lot of people come to me and say, “To be honest, I absolutely despise the gym. I don’t wanna be in here. I don’t like the place. I don’t like the people that go there.”

I will literally say, “Okay, then don’t join.” Okay, that probably doesn’t look good from a business point of view, but if something you’re doing doesn’t make you happy, there’s other things you can do. You can go for that walk. You can do a few quick workouts at home if needs be. It just depends on how relative it is to you and your circumstances.

For example, like you said there, you just wanna go home and maybe turn on a Netflix series. I do that every single day. It’s the only kind of escapism I have. I do train, and I do love training. Of course, I recommend training. It’s so important to get some base movement into your lifestyle. But it’s about establishing a new routine for yourself. But for some people, switching off and watching a Netflix movie, or going to the cinema is almost more important, because if your headspace isn’t in the right place and you don’t give yourself that downtime, going into a gym floor and being like, “Oh, I hate this place. What am I doing here?” It’s not actually giving back to yourself. You have to connect all the pieces.

What I would do is, set yourself a goal and say, “I’m just going to start small.” Start a small activity. Maybe train 20 minutes a day, or do some walk. Make sure it’s something you enjoy doing, or it’s with somebody you enjoy, or the trainer you go to is somebody that you like. For me, when I had 20 minutes free- my wife’s Brazilian- I tried to learn Portuguese. It’s a constant battle to find out what she’s saying about me sometimes. Nonetheless, I’m still learning. What I found is, if you give yourself something, whether it is that movie or it’s moving, you gotta remember that the body is made to move too. I’m not saying give up one thing for the other. I’m saying maybe walk 20 minutes to work or the subway instead of getting a taxi, or find something that you can work into your daily routine that’ll just give you that little bit of movement.

We’re creatures of nature. If you go to work and it’s 30 minutes away from where you used to work before, but they’re paying you an extra two euro or two dollars an hour, you’ll probably go, “It’s worth my while in the long sight of things.” It’s the exact same with your body. You gotta go, “If I invest 20 minutes a day, it’s only 20 minutes of my time into it.” It doesn’t take away from whatever else it is you enjoy. It will complement the rest of your life better. It’s about creating value. Think about what you’re gonna gain for it. Everything has to hold a certain level of value, and you only get one chance to work your body and to move properly. If you don’t totally take advantage of that…

I know everyone says these days, it’s not good to deteriorate over time and get older and older, but these days you can live a very healthy life moving around and jumping and crawling. The same things you enjoy when you’re in your 20’s and 30’s, you can enjoy now when you’re in your 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, in some cases 70’s. It’s just about giving your body that little bit of respect and saying, “This is important and it needs to be important to me.” Once you do that, and just start off with 20 minutes, you might even find you enjoy it! Then it’s just about building that routine over time. We’re all creatures of habit. It’s just applying it.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, because one of the things you do here is when people, they go in the gym, it’s that intimidation. It’s, “Oh, I haven’t run in months,” or “I can’t lift heavy weights like everyone else there.” There’s that intimidation factor, but everyone has to start from somewhere. If you really can’t find an hour to go to a gym, maybe start off with stretches and stuff like those. It’s building up that habit and eventually you get better and better and better without even realizing.

Yeah, start small. That’s the key here.

Aaron Carroll: Yeah. As well, you’re dead right. You knocked the nail on the head. One of the big things that is a challenge of our people going into gyms or going into that type of situation is that sense of, “Maybe I’m not good enough,” or “What will they think? Those people will be looking at me.” That’s something you gotta remember as well, is when going to the gym floor, everyone’s too busy looking at themselves to even care about what’s going on around them.

I always say that when you go in there – when I’ve had clients in the past and they’ve had an issue of getting in there and becoming active because of what other people might think, when you have someone else there with you, first of all, it gives you a little bit more empowerment. You know someone’s there to guide you. You have that sense of protection. What I would do is, I would grab a really heavy weight in the middle of the day, say six PM, and I’d slam it on the gym floor as loud as I could, and no one would even turn their heads. That goes back to, everyone’s too busy looking at themselves to even care what you’re doing with yourself. Take this time for you and make it work for you.

A lot of people, especially people that own their own businesses, they don’t give themselves anything back. They’re constantly frustrated and stressed out, thinking about the people that work for them, their rent, their mortgage, their other half, their partner. It’s output, output, output, output. But they’re not creating any input, and unless you give yourself something back, all the output is gonna be wishy-washy, and that will reflect on your business. It’s like a ripple effect.

If someone comes to you or one of your staff and you’re not in a good mood and you’re not feeling great about yourself, how is that gonna look when the staff meets a customer or a client, or they even have answered the phone? Creating that positive energy and giving yourself something back, especially if you’re in a place of ownership or management, if you’re not giving yourself that thing back to look at, that hour a day, that half an hour a day for you, nothing else will look after itself properly. Your staff won’t see that you’re happy. They won’t be happy when a client calls. It’s almost by looking after yourself and saying, “Look, this is my hour for me. This is my 30 minutes for me,” that creates that ripple effect where all of a sudden, you’re standing taller. You’re in a room of people and that person that never spoke to you before approaches you before, and they’re like, “Oh, hey. I’ve seen you here a few times.” Investing in yourself for half an hour or an hour a day is probably one of the most important investments.

It’s not selfish. Don’t look at it as being selfish. It helps other people, and it’ll also help your business in turn because creating that energy does ripple out in most other things.

Killian Vigna: I love what you’re saying there about the whole input/output thing because, another big challenge in the salon kind of relates to input. You’re doing all this walking around on your feet all day, walking, the hunched shoulders, that’s the output. But the input is the struggle of eating nutritionally when you barely even get a break.

Aaron Carroll: Oh, yeah. I know. I know that feeling. This is another thing as well. This is huge! It’s something that’s so simple these days. I think about when I was say, 10, 12 years ago, when I was 16 or 17 and I was kind of like, I really had nowhere to go. The resources we had – and I know it’s not that long ago, and some people might listen to this and be like, “Okay, it was just the 90’s.” But the resources that we have now, even compared to four years ago, are so insanely developed that you can go into any single restaurant, café and you can actually, if you understand your metabolism – and this is something just related to nutrition. People focus so much on nutrition. What’s healthy? What’s not healthy? What’s boring doesn’t taste good.

First and foremost, you have to understand your energy balance. Your metabolism. Because, ever see that person and they’re stuffing their face with McDonald’s and you’re like, “Oh, my God. How can she eat that and be so skinny?” A lot of people feel that way, but that person probably just isn’t going over their daily calorie allowance. The most important thing is just that. The problem is, a lot of people have a higher appetite, other people crave foods more. This whole addictive food thing… look, food makes me feel good. You know? When I eat a sugary food, I feel good. Is it physically addictive? Is it addictive the way heroin or cocaine is, where you’ll actually get sick and possibly die because you’re so physically addicted? No. It’s not. People enjoy it and it’s got addictive qualities. No one is actually…

Like you said, in a quick circumstance, what do I grab? You’ll tend to go to the thing that’s sugary and that’ll make you feel you’re hooked on most. At the end of the day, it’s totally calorie expenditure versus calorie intake. When it comes to your body and how it looks- like, I did a challenge on my YouTube channel, and I ate McDonald’s for a month every day. I didn’t just eat McDonald’s. I balanced my lifestyle. I was eating some healthy food every day, and I was eating some unhealthy food every day, but I tracked the McDonald’s I had, which is actually probably the easiest food to track in the world. Everyone everywhere tends to have one near them. I don’t agree, I don’t say it made me feel good. It didn’t. It’s pretty crappy food, and about two days into it, I never wanted to set foot in a McDonald’s again. Nonetheless, I did it and I lost weight. My training suffered a bit.

Killian Vigna: You lost weight?

Aaron Carroll: Yeah, I lost loads of weight. That’s what I’m saying. It’s the overall intake of your calories versus output. The reason I did that was, there’s been documentaries before where guys eat just McDonald’s every day to see how it affects their body. What they’re doing is they’re just eating McDonald’s. In reality, on a day-to-day basis – my idea was to prove that you could eat something bad in moderation every day as long as you don’t overdo it, and you can still hit your goals. You have to understand your metabolic rate, your metabolism.

At the end of the day, if you have a car, and your car’s a 1.2-liter car, and you’re pumping enough petrol in that car for a 2.6-liter engine, it’s gonna spill over. That’s how we get fatter. We’re putting too much energy into our bodies. We’re not even realizing that. We’re not driving around enough to burn it off. If you understand, okay, I’m actually only a 1.4-liter engine here, how much can I afford? It’s almost like a currency.

Of course, you need to eat whole foods. You need to eat some vegetables every day. You need to eat foods that obviously are going to make you healthier, per se, and have vitamins and minerals. I’m not saying neglect that food. I’m saying if you’re working in a salon or you own your salon, and you’ve got meeting after meeting after client after client, you have to go to the shop across the road or the café or whatever – a coffee shop that only sell paninis- and you’re like, “There’s nothing healthy here. Sod it. I might as well just get this Louisiana chicken salad pasta, which is like a thousand calories.”

But if you go, “Okay, I’m actually allowed to have 1500 calories a day, and I only had eggs for breakfast and that’s like 100, 200 calories.” Then instead of blowing the rest of your whole daily calorie allowance on some big massive pasta salad because you’re like, “There’s nothing healthy here.” If you go, “I’m just gonna have that cheese sandwich, that cheese toasty, and know that it’s 400, 500 calories,” you’ve still got a good 600, 700 calories left, and you don’t feel guilty. You’ll still lose weight the next day, as opposed to this mentality of, this food is good. That food is bad.

That’s the issue, is building positive and negative relationships with food makes people give up. It doesn’t empower anybody, so nobody actually has the right idea or understanding of their body. That’s why these fads never really work. There’s a fad on this, there’s a fad on it, did you hear about this diet she did? She lost 80 kilos, but she put 90 on two months later. Why is that? It’s because they’re implementing a caloric deficit, so you’re eating less calories, you’re losing weight, but you don’t understand why.

If you can just download – I’m gonna recommend an app here that I use every day and all my clients use, and it’s absolutely free. I don’t understand how. I don’t understand why, but it is. It’s called MyFitnessPal. A lot of people in the health industry, if I was to say that MyFitnessPal, everyone would be like, “Oh. I’ve been using that for years.” The people that own their own businesses and that are on their feet all day, if you can understand that my limitation is 2,000 calories or, generally what I would say, on the back of food, it would say the females limit is 2,000; the males is 2,500. It’s absolutely – yes. Because what I find is overtraining people for years and years and tracking their food closely, the people that are selling you more food will always tell you to eat more food.

They’re the people that have it on the back of their can of Coca-Cola, or their sandwich, or their salad for that matter. The most important things is that you get into the habit of tracking your food. What this app, MyFitnessPal, does is basically, you put in your weight, your height, your age, your gender. It’ll give you a general caloric guideline of what you should stick to. You have to play with that over time. It’s just a guesstimate. It’s just by tracking your food and setting yourself a limit. For females, I would recommend around 1300 to 1500 calories a day. If you can stick to that and track your weight, you’ll tell straightaway, am I losing weight? Am I gaining? Okay, well I gotta tone it down a hundred calories. Doesn’t mean you give up food and enjoying drinks with your friends, or it’s your uncle’s 50th next week and I can’t go to it because I’m on this diet. Then you crash in three weeks time. It’s just being aware. You’re empowering yourself by giving yourself awareness.

Things like Slimming World and Weight Watchers will all say, “Don’t you just hate calorie counting?” Of course, they’re going to say that. They’re trying to sell you their product where they’re calorie counting for you and taking the empowerment away from you. If you understand food – if I go into a café across the road, say if it’s any café – and I type in ham and cheese panini, it’s gonna give me exactly how many calories, protein, fats, and carbs that are in that. If my goal is to just not get overweight, like just being not overweight in general, will make you 10 times healthier than constantly crashing and going up and down.

That’s one thing when it comes to nutrition people don’t understand. My number one tip when it comes to nutrition is trying to abolish negative and positive relationships with food. Stop thinking of that food being bad for you, or that food being good for you. Just think about going over the top with anything. It’s so funny because I did so many nutrition courses. I paid thousands and thousands of Euros over the years for things. At the end of the day, it all comes back to like your mother used to say. “Everything in moderation.” Now it’s like, oh my God. She was right. It actually is everything in moderation.

The most important thing is understanding your own moderation, and that is the issue. People don’t. And everyone is genetically different. You can’t say generally women need to have 2000 calories and men have 2500. If I stick to 2500 calories, I’m up every day and I train sometimes twice a day, but I know for a fact, I’ll get really overweight if I stick to that; the guidelines. What you gotta do is just start tracking your food with that app, understand, set yourself a limit, and just say, see how my body responds to that over two or three weeks, and that’ll be the best thing you can do. Even by tracking. Studies came out in America two years ago that say that they told people to start tracking their food. As soon as they did that, they didn’t even change anything, really. Consciously didn’t change anything. They lost weight and they got healthier.

What I would say is, forget about what’s good, forget about what’s bad. Coke, Coke Zero, McDonald’s, salads. Forget about all that. Just start tracking your food with that free app, MyFitnessPal. You can scan the barcodes. You don’t even have to type it in and search. You can scan barcodes. You can type in your local café because people can upload on it themselves as well. Track your food. That’s the number one thing. Understand your metabolism, track your food. Don’t think ice cream is bad for you. Just think, “Three tubs of Haagen Dazs is bad for me. Maybe I can get away with half a tub a day.” That’s where people binge because they don’t understand. That’s my number one thing.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: On the back of that, at 3pm after lunch, you kinda have that food coma kind of thing. Would you have any recommendations, for instance, of any types of food that could give you that boost throughout the day?

Aaron Carroll: Yeah. That’s a really, really, really good question. That slump you’re talking about, I’m actually gonna jump a step forward towards breakfast. It’s totally in relation to that slump you’re talking about. I’m not saying there aren’t any foods during the day that you can have. I’m just saying that slump you feel is generally because people are under the illusion that porridge is great for you, or oats are good for you in the morning and things like that. Realistically, they spike your insulin levels, and it’s a response to sugar. Even some protein does sometimes, can have quite big insulin spike, and as soon as that insulin spikes, it drops and it gives you that… Whether it’s porridge or whether it’s Cap’n Crunch, whatever it might be, your insulin will still respond to that the same way, and that’s generally what leads to that slump. If you can control that slump and try and keep your carbohydrates, whether it’s from Mars bars or whether it’s from porridge, oats, it makes no difference. Just try to keep a nice steady breakfast. Like myself, what I would have, or what I would recommend to people, is the leaner the better. Eggs and bacon is a simple thing. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, try and keep something that’s not too carb-y based. That’ll give you that spike as well – in the morning.

Whether it’s got fibre or not, it’s got all that sugar in it and all those carbs. That’s what’s actually gonna cause that afternoon slump. If you can keep that steady throughout the morning, when you get to the afternoon then, for a typical lunch snack, what I always say is save your carbs for night time. It’s overall daily consumption that matters. If you’re going to get something relatively good for yourself at lunchtime or for a snack, I would recommend something like a protein bar. I know it sounds silly and simple, but protein bars these days taste phenomenal. They taste better. Sometimes I’ll choose a protein bar over Snickers bar. Not because it’s better for me. Just because, my God, they see us all, America, they’re really investing in it.

What I would do in the middle of the day is I would have some kind of caffeine hit, definitely. I’m not talking like a caramel macchiato, triple espresso, orange mocha frappuccino with a million calories in it. I just have like a double espresso. That’ll give you that pick-me-up you need without any added calories. Then if you’re gonna have something, keep those insulin levels steady. That in itself will give you that natural stimulation that’ll pick your energy up without that slump.

Then keep it leaner. If you’re the type of person – around 70% of people are the type to snack at night time or after work. Not that you can’t do that. Just if you can keep it as balanced as possible through lunchtime. Keep it high in protein, or relatively balanced with fat and protein. Try not to over-carb it. Have carbs. But save them for when you need them when you’re sitting down at home and you’re like, “Oh, God, I’d love that packet of crisps,” or something like that. You can still have that as long as you don’t overdo it, and that brings you back to my first point.

The most important thing when you’re snacking and you want that pick-me-up in the afternoon, or say, the lunch break, just not to overdo it because if you overdo carbohydrates – for example, I could eat a bag of jellies in 30 seconds and that could be 450 calories. They just melt in your mouth. They digest. Same with chocolate. I’m not saying skip the jellies, don’t skip the chocolate. I’m just saying have something small that’ll kill that craving for you. Have something that’ll pick you up, maybe like a double espresso when you need it most. Then make sure you’re having something that it protein based as well. It tends to get neglected, and obviously something whole food. Something that has your vitamins, your minerals in it.

If I wanna be super strict and super “I’m a health guy,” you can have a spinach salad with some added kale, pine nuts, cashews and chicken. That’s a typical thing people will say here. I’m a very realistic health-based person. I’m not gonna give you information if you’re not gonna be able to adhere to it. That’s the most important thing for me, is if you can grab something that’s protein based, whether it’s a chicken salad or a protein bar, and you can grab something that kills your cravings and then something that’ll pick you up like a double espresso or some type of coffee. Again, milk isn’t necessarily bad for everyone as long as it’s controlled and you’re not overdoing it by adding loads of extra calories in there. That would be the perfect type of lunch.

For me, I’ll grab an omelet. An omelet would be perfect for me. An omelet with some chicken, some cheese. Cheese isn’t the devil. Cheese is actually high in protein as well, and it’s low on carbohydrates. I would have an omelet at lunchtime. I’d have something chocolatey to kill that craving; a protein bar is perfect for me. Then by the time I get home and I have a caffeine hit. A good caffeine hit. By the time I get home in the evening, I’ll leave the caffeine out so my sleep isn’t affected. In the evening, if I wanted to have something more carb-dense- say maybe a bit of pasta, rice – I can satisfy that craving without it pushing me over the top because I was more mindful during the day to keep it low. It’s about balancing your currency as opposed to splurging.

It’s guilt-free and you still lose weight, and it’s great, and you’re feeling better about your body. You’ve had your pick-me-up in the evening. I would say keep it as moderate as possible throughout lunchtime. If you’re looking for that hit to pick you up, I wouldn’t so much look for it from food. Just keep your food as balanced as possible. Get some whole foods in there. Most importantly, that pick-me-up is gonna come from the stimulation, and caffeine is great at doing that. Get the caffeine in. Just don’t go adding melted chocolate into it. That’s the most important thing.

Killian Vigna: So Aaron, I just wanted to touch off a point there that you mentioned about the carbs and keeping your carbs light throughout the day. I know there’s probably a lot of people out there listening and dying to know this too: what is your stance on brown/white bread, pastas, and rice? Because you’re saying it’s about re-education of your food, everything in moderation is good. It’s not so much that that’s good, that’s bad. Is bread, bread to you? Is pasta, pasta to you? Is it all the same?

Aaron Carroll: 100%. The thing is, obviously they’ve got certain different things with them. The main thing would be, brown bread might have a slightly higher amount of fiber in it or something like that. In terms of, am I going to lose more weight by eating brown bread? Definitely not. In some cases, some brown breads have more calories. If you’re having a McCambridge’s slice of bread, it’s smaller and might have less calories than a slice of typical white bread. In terms of, is one healthier than the other? Is any unhealthy, few at all? No.

There is people that suffer, that are celiacs, you know? When it comes to, is brown bread or white bread, when it comes to losing weight and being healthier because you’ve got less weight on you, they’re pretty much identical. I don’t recommend cutting out bread or pasta unless you’ve got some type of celiac disease. Now gluten intolerance? Let me tell you something about gluten intolerance, too. It’s totally a fad. It’s like people jumping on this bandwagon. Gluten, what it does, it’s a protein, actually.

Gluten can damage your intestinal tract, and some people are more sensitive than others. Your intestinal tract will repair itself every three to five hours. As long as you’re not downing gluten with every meal- you’re not having three slices or four slices of bread in the morning, then you’re going straight to work, you’re having another sandwich. Then you’re having a mid-brunch and you’re having a pasta salad. Then you’re going home and you’re having spaghetti bolognese. If you’re hammering your intestinal tract with gluten, then yes. It’s a bit of an issue. But if you’re having a bread once or twice a day… as long as you don’t go over your calories, you’re gonna lose just as much weight.

People can gain. If I put someone on a diet – say someone has a metabolic rate where they can afford to have 1800 calories a day. If I give someone 1700 calories of white bread and I give the other person 1900 calories of sweet potato, the person that’s eating 1900 calories of sweet potato are gonna get fatter. They’re gonna get unhealthier. They’re gonna have a higher risk of heart disease. It doesn’t matter that they’re eating sweet potato. They’re gonna die before the person eating bread does, because they’re getting less healthy because they’re getting fatter.

The main point is calorie expenditure. It doesn’t matter if it’s white bread or it’s brown bread. If you enjoy the brown one more, go for it. Just don’t go for it too much. If you overdo it, you’ll go into caloric surplus. You’re gonna put on more weight. You’re gonna get overweight and you’re going to inevitably be more inclined to get heart disease, to get high cholesterol, because you’re becoming more overweight.

I’m happy I can smash that myth right here. If you wanna look into it online, there’s loads of – try not to look at anything, you know- every study you listen to out there, ask why. Ask how. Check if there’s other contradicting studies out there, too. I’m very open-minded. If something comes over tomorrow and proves that the most recent studies on caloric expenditure versus white bread or brown bread is total BS then I’ll listen to it, and I’ll be open-minded to it. Stay open-minded. People will push these things.

The food pyramid, for example. What does it have at the very bottom? White bread and brown bread. The thing is, as I’m saying, there’s nothing wrong – I’m not saying it’s good for you. I’m just saying the reason that is because the food pyramid was designed by people who owned, essentially, stocks in bread. Of course, they’re gonna put eight servings of bread at the bottom. Don’t take everything at face value. Look into things. If I could say anything, again, track your food. White bread or brown bread? I eat them both every day.

The problem with both, as well, and pasta, is that they’re very calorically dense, so it’s very easy to over-consume these things. That’s why if you’re having some bread, make sure you’re getting enough vegetables in your diet too, so you feel fuller. So you don’t feel like splurging on bread. That’s the issue, is the over-consumption. It’s not one being worse that the other. Definitely, I would say, if you’re at the pasta shelf and there’s white pasta and brown pasta and you think you’re gonna be healthier by getting the brown pasta but you really don’t like it, I would say get the white pasta. Or don’t even bother getting any, because you’re only putting yourself through unnecessary torture.

Killian Vigna: That’s actually a great note for myself, because every time I go to the deli to get a chicken roll or something like that, it’s always, “I’ll go for the brown,” because you’ve got that whole thought process of “brown is better,” but at the end of the day, they’re basically just full of sugar anyway. Both of them.

Aaron Carroll: Yeah, they’re all carbs. The issue is, you could easily fit in a bread roll, a chicken roll every day into your diet. But you gotta understand, if I have a chicken roll, that’s gonna be about 600 calories. There’s protein in there, some protein in chicken. But because I’ve had that now, it just means I can’t have my bowl of pasta at night time because I’ve had loads of carbohydrates here. It’s like trying to balance your life; balance your currency, I suppose. It’s more like money than anything else. If you overspend, you’re going to see the negative implications of that. If you have a chicken roll for lunch and then you have a bowl of lasagna when you get home, you’re overspending on your calories and your carbohydrates, whereas if you have your chicken roll because that’s when you most crave it at lunchtime, then you go, “Okay I had my chicken roll there. When I go home, I’m actually going to have maybe a chicken and bacon salad or a burger.” One of those low-calorie Slimster ones. “I’m gonna have chicken and bacon, or I’m gonna have lean beef and an egg.”

That’s gonna be high in protein, low on carbohydrates, but you can’t say, “I’m gonna go home and have another 400 grams of pasta,” because you have to look at it in a way that makes sense. Don’t look at brown being better because it’s not necessarily. It’s just people go around because of over-consuming, and it’s so easy to do that in today’s Western society. It’s so easy to eat. It’s when people post those ads of, you know, actually chicken nuggets at McDonald’s are better than the chicken salad because the chicken salad is 700 calories and six chicken nuggets only has 200 calories. It’s got more protein. And it’s true. I could eat four portions of chicken nuggets a day and not put on any weight, but if I’m eating all the crap, the high calorie stuff they have, I’m gonna put on weight.

People are like, “But that’s a salad! It’s good for me! Chicken nuggets are bad for me.”

That’s why I’m talking about these negative and positive relationships. If people educated people in schools about this at a young age, that it’s not so much about this food is bad, this food is good. It’s just about finding balance. If you can do that when you’re on your lunch break or you’re going out, just make a decision for your whole day. If you work on it on a day-to-day basis, it’ll be a lot easier for you. Don’t feel guilty and feel like, “Oh no, I’ve gone off. I’m just gonna start eating everything.” If you can actually say, “Okay look, I’ve had the chicken roll now. When I go home later, I’m gonna be a bit more mindful. I’m just gonna try to keep it a bit leaner.” As opposed to throwing everything out the window because, oh flip it, I’ve had that chicken roll. That’s the best bit of advice when it comes to you, but a lot of people will relate to that as well. Definitely.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. That’s where your diet tracking comes in. Once you’re tracking it, you’re more educated. You’re more aware of food coming in, basically.

Aaron Carroll: Yeah. You’re empowering yourself. You gotta empower yourself with knowledge. Don’t let Weight Watchers or Slimming World take that empowerment away from you.

Killian Vigna: Aaron, we’ve talked about the main stressors on your body and work and kind of stretches and stuff like that to combat it, and we’ve done a lot around the food, which to me was very good because I just gotta start tracking now. It’s not a case of white or brown bread or anything like that. It’s just tracking. That’s, I suppose, your daily in the salon all taken care of. Is there anything you can do after the salon then to maintain that healthiness outside? Prep yourself for the next day? Also, burnout is a big thing in busy environments, busy industries. Is there any way we can be proactive around burnouts? How to know when it’s approaching and what to do beforehand?

Aaron Carroll: Yeah. Basically, overexerting yourself through stresses and how to deal with that when you actually have your own time and not let it spill over to a certain extent?

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Aaron Carroll: Yeah. What I would say is find something that you love and don’t give up on it because the work/life balance can become very blurred, the line between both. For example, my wife and I – you can tell, me not being at the Summit – we like to travel. At the moment, I just opened, we have this thing where we go to Hard Rock Café everywhere we go and I opened my cupboard the other day and there’s at least 26 glasses in there. We haven’t been away… we love to travel. We love to watch TV. It doesn’t matter what your thing is, but don’t give up on it because of your work.

A lot of people look at, you know, meditation is great. My dad practiced yoga now for maybe 35, 40 years, and it’s kind of like, everyone’s meditation is different. Meditation isn’t just shutting down in your bedroom, closing your eyes, and trying to repeat the same sound over and over again. Meditation, in my view, is more about separating yourself from the negative things in your life or the things that are over-crowding your head. You know? Whether that is traveling, booking yourself a holiday, going for a spa day, it can be lots of these things. It’s mainly giving yourself something back, because people don’t do it. People just simply don’t do it enough. If you think about a scales, a balancing scales, if you think about that and look at all the things that all the time and effort and money you’re pumping into things that aren’t necessarily giving back to yourself.

The basic human isn’t really designed to be working even eight hours a day. In an ideal world, everyone should work maybe four to six hours a day, and be able to live a nice balanced lifestyle and still do the things they love with the people they love. We’re not designed for today’s society. We haven’t evolved fast enough forward. We forced ourselves to. If you can give yourself something back – for example, that holiday, find something you love, whether it’s drawing, whether it’s working out, whether it’s doing a little bit of yoga at home, whether it’s Netflix, a movie. Whatever it is that makes you separate your head from the things that will take away or add stress to you. That’s what you have to do. You have to force yourself not to neglect it.

I would recommend scheduling it like you would a work appointment. Value it. Give it that importance, because it really is, and know that the other things like the stress, they can wait. When you get back to those, the fact that you gave yourself that time will make you more effective at dealing with those situations. A lot of people, as I mentioned a little bit earlier on, they look at giving themselves something back as being selfish, when actually it’s one of the most unselfish things you can do because if you look after yourself or give yourself just that little bit of time every day to do whatever it is you enjoy, then everything you output beyond that point will become more effective. You’ll be able to help others more. You’ll be able to deal with stressful circumstances.

When someone comes to your spa and they’re complaining that a booking was cancelled because their daughter booked it for them three weeks ago. They didn’t know the expiry day and the voucher was this or that, you can take a deep breath and actually deal with that person in a way where you can empathize with them, and then they’ll leave feeling good and that you’ve helped them out. They’ll tell their friends about what a great experience they had.

If you’re in work and you haven’t done something for yourself for four or five weeks and you’re overloading yourself and they’re giving you that “ugh” energy, you don’t have anything in you but that “ugh” back. You can handle situations like that better. As I said, back to that ripple effect. By giving yourself something back, it really does affect everything you’re outputting in a better manner. Add value to giving yourself, or doing something that you love.

Don’t think of it as something that can wait for later. Think of it as something that’s extremely important, so everything else works better. If you can do that and see the value in it and see the value in giving you some you time and look after yourself first and foremost, everything else will get better. Everything else will become more efficient. That’s one thing people have to remember, is that you are the most important person in your life.

Of course, you love other people, and of course, you want to do the best thing you can for other people. But unless you love yourself and you do something for you and realize you are an important person, you are worth value, and the other things will fall like a domino effect, you won’t be able to take care of them properly. Place value in you. Do something that you like when you get the chance.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. I like that. Especially when it’s so busy, you can get caught up in being flat out the whole time. You do forget to take care of yourself. At the end of the day, if you’re not gonna keep taking care of your car, how long is the car gonna last?

Aaron Carroll: Yeah. That’s just why I don’t drive.

Killian Vigna: You probably run everywhere.

Aaron Carroll: Yeah, I just do cartwheels across town. No, I don’t drive because when I’m sitting in a car, I have one of my less attractive tendencies is impatience. I’m the type of person when I’m sitting in traffic, or when I used to drive, I’d rather drive a route that’s 20 minutes longer as long as I didn’t have to sit there and stare at the boot in front of me.

Killian Vigna: Oh, free-flowing.

Aaron Carroll: Yeah. As I said, back to the car thing, you’ve gotta look after your vehicle. If you’re not, you’re inevitably looking to crash at some stage.

Killian Vigna: Well Aaron, that’s been absolutely brilliant. I was gonna get you to end the show with some kind of next step advice or tips, but you’ve just covered so much in that episode that I don’t know how you could top it off anymore. But it was great to have the clarity ran down, especially like the stretches you could do during the day. The food, how it’s not – there’s always that fear of the foods like you just have to know so much about everything you’re eating. You’ve really just simplified it there. Track your calories, use a food tracker, your stretches, and especially me-time. The me-time. Find value in yourself and provide value in yourself.

Aaron Carroll: Yeah. Hugely important. Hugely important. Neglected, hugely neglected. It’s almost more neglected than it is important, unfortunately. But it is hugely important.

Killian Vigna: Aaron, if someone does wanna get in contact with you or anything like that, what’s the best way to approach you?

Aaron Carroll: You can find me on pretty much any social media platform. If you just type in Aaron Carroll Health, I’ll pop up there. Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Everything I discussed there is online and I’m always more than happy to answer any questions for anyone that’s looking for help. The most important thing I suppose on signing off, is to look after yourself. Give yourself something back and good things will come.

Killian Vigna: Good things will come. I like that.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: That’s brilliant, thanks so much.

Aaron Carroll: No problem guys, I really enjoyed it.

Killian Vigna: That was Aaron Carroll of Aaron Carroll Health. We have some links to his YouTube’s, to his Instagram, so you can check all that out in the blurb. We’ll also have a link to the MyFitnessPal app as well that Aaron was talking about.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, it’s the kind of episode that you listen to once, you get loads of insightful tips, and then you listen to it a second time with a sheet of paper and you just take down every single little thing that you missed on the first listen.

So, that’s it for us today! If you have any feedback or any questions feel free to leave us a review on iTunes or on Stitcher. We’re always looking for suggestions on how to improve the show. Otherwise, I hope you have a wonderful second week on #30Days2Grow. We’ll catch you next Monday.

Killian Vigna: All the best.

Thanks for reading!


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