Dai Manuel was in his late 30s and the cofounder of a successful fitness industry company when he realized that all the trappings of success that he was chasing were from someone else’s dream. The things and experiences that he saw his business mentor and co-founder acquire were what he interpreted as “success.” After 17 years in this company, he realized he was trying to live someone else’s life, which led to scary questions like: where am I supposed to be? And, what am I supposed to be doing? Those questions led him in a completely different direction than he expected.

Guest Bio 

Get ready to meet Dai Manuel – the ultimate super dad, husband extraordinaire, and all-around life enthusiast! Dai is on a mission to inspire and positively impact one million role models across the globe, encouraging them to lead a FUN-ctionally healthy life through education, community, and much encouragement.

As an award-winning digital thought leader and author, Dai has mastered leading by example, always staying true to his values of Fitness, Family, Faith, Finances, and FUN. He knows firsthand how challenging it can be to juggle life’s responsibilities while prioritizing health and happiness.

But don’t let his impressive resume fool you – Dai’s infectious personality and contagious enthusiasm truly set him apart. He’s a sought-after lifestyle mentor, executive performance coach, and keynote speaker who will leave you feeling inspired, motivated, and ready to take on the world.

Turning 40 and Hitting the Road

In this episode of the Forty Drinks Podcast, Stephanie talks to Dai Manuel, who explains that, as a child, he used emotional eating, video games and other distractions to cope with his parents’ divorce, leading him to become morbidly obese unhappy and depressed. At the age of 15, he realized things would stay the same unless he did something, so he made a decision to change his life and embarked on a fitness journey that he continues to this day. At 17 he started drinking alcohol, which made social interactions much smoother. He continued with that until he was 32 and his wife asked him if he was acting like the kind of man he wanted his daughters to marry, which was a rude wake up call. He decided to go one year without drinking and realized just a few weeks in that he couldn’t do it without help. He talks about the importance of vulnerability, seeking help, and making positive lifestyle changes. 

In his late 30s, Dai left a successful fitness industry startup that he co-founded when he realized that all the trappings of success that he was chasing were from someone else’s life. He and his wife quit their jobs, sold their stuff, packed their SUV with their two daughters and embarked upon five years of travel throughout North America and Indonesia before returning to Canada so their daughters could graduate high school there. 

Highlights from the episode include: 

  • Dai’s realization that he needed to make a change for his future
  • His journey to becoming the fittest and healthiest version of himself
  • The impact of chronic stress on mental and physical health
  • The importance of non-negotiable self-care time
  • And, the power of modeling and mentorship in personal growth.

In this inspiring episode, Dai Manuel shares his transformative journey of overcoming early adversity, prioritizing mental and physical health, and finding purpose and fulfillment off the beaten track. Listeners are encouraged to take steps towards their own well-being and to check out Dai’s resources for further support. Don’t forget to rate, follow, and review the Forty Drinks Podcast if you enjoyed this episode.

Guest Resources

Dai Manuel, Your Lifestyle Mentor

Find Dai on Facebook

Find Dai on Instagram

Do you have the Midlife Ick? 

Download Stephanie’s guide to the Ick to diagnose whether you or someone you love is suffering from this insidious midlife malaise. www.fortydrinks.com/ick  

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The Forty Drinks Podcast is produced and presented by Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications


Dai: What was the inspiration to, to start your podcast?

Stephanie: The whole thing started with something that I did when I turned 40, which was a while ago now, but I was in a place in my life where. throwing the big party just felt really not fitting. It just felt yucky. And, and I am an extrovert. I'm a Leo, I'm all the things like, gimme some spotlight I shine.

And yet, the thought of having that party was just, actually like a little heartbreaking. So I was trying to figure out what else could I do to sort of celebrate the milestone that would mark it, appropriately. And so instead the idea came to me, almost fully formed. It just kind of dropped into my brain.

And, and I decided to have 40 drinks with 40 people in 40 different places. And each drink was gonna have a thematic connection to my friend or our relationship. I decided to do this because it was going to be ridiculous and outrageous and silly. And it was gonna let me extend my birthday for as long as it took to find 40

Dai: Right.

Stephanie: was just about a year.

Dai: Wow,

Stephanie: It started off almost accidentally with my best friend. We were having dinner. I told him about the idea, blah, blah, blah. The perfect drink appeared on the menu in front of us, and it was like, oh, well, I guess we're doing it. And so I started, and then the next couple of drinks were easy.

There were two people who were in, you know a couple that I knew was home. They lived away, they were home for, you know, in the next couple of weeks somebody else had traveled. So it was like, oh, let me have drinks with these people while they're here. And then a couple of good friends and, and so it really got off like pretty quickly.

And then after a couple of months I was like, well, wait a minute. Alright. You know, you've done 10, you've done 15. You've like, okay, wait a minute now I don't actually have that many left. What do I wanna do with them?

Dai: Hmm.

Stephanie: So I started digging around in my life and I went and I found people from grammar school, high school, college, an old boyfriend, um, people I used to work with, some people I hadn't seen in 10 or 15 years.

And so what happened over the course of the year was, yes, they were 40 drinks, but what they were was 40 visits. And during those visits, the people I was visiting with would, you know, organically the conversation sort of turns to when we were close or when we were together or when we were, you know, connected or whatever.

And they would reflect back. They would tell me stories about me that I didn't know or I had forgotten, or I had like, you know, a wallpapered over that, you know, characteristic that I thought wasn't, you know, something. And so the ultimate resolution was that at the end of the year, was a completely different person than I was at the beginning of the year.

Dai: Wow.

Stephanie: And one of the easy, obvious markers of that is that I met my husband during the year. I started it in July. I met him in April. And very quickly it became clear he was something very special.

And, you know, and it also became clear, one of the things I realized very clearly was that if he had met me a couple of years before, he would not have been attracted to the person I was. He probably would've been amused for a short amount of time. But after a couple of months I could very easily see him sort of going like, enough, okay. It was fun. But, cause I was a real party girl. I was wild. I was, you know, I was always, you know, drinking and doing stuff and, and so I was not grounded. I was definitely not, you know, settled in myself. And so during that year, a lot of that happened. And so when I met him, I. And, and, you know, we got pretty serious, pretty quick. I mean, he had moved in in like six months. I was like, oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. It was like yeah, this would not have happened without that experience. and there were other things too in my life. There were, you know, transitions with a friend group and there were, you know, there were, there were all kinds of things, moving pieces.

But what I realized was that I'm not the only one that goes through a transition at, at this period of time. I became very curious about it. So it, it actually turns out to be a very predictable development stage for adults, except that that's not common cultural knowledge.

People don't know that you are heading for a breakdown of some sort or a falling apart, or a coming together, or however you want to call it or characterize it. for many years with a friend of mine, I worked on a book proposal. 'cause know, everybody's like, ah, that's a great idea. It should be a book, it should be a movie, it should be a TV show, whatever.

And, and so we had this book proposal and he's a professional ghost writer. So, you know, we were definitely on the right track.

Dai: Yeah.

Stephanie: And, and it's so interesting because we always got such good feedback from the publishing industry, on the idea, on the concept, on even how we were putting it together and framing it, but it was always a, a not quite or a no. And there were a couple of reasons.

Dai: though? Like, I, I, curious. I'm

Stephanie: There's a big one. The big reason is that the publishing industry is a very risk averse industry.

Dai: Hmm. Sure.

Stephanie: And so I did not have what they call a platform. My website wasn't getting 10,000 unique hits a month. I didn't have, you know, 42,000 people following me on social. I didn't have the obvious audience that was immediately gonna buy the book.

Dai: Right. Yeah.

Stephanie: So even though I own a marketing agency, my real life, my day job, and every proposal we put out was like, here's everything that I'm gonna do to market the book. There was always a gatekeeper. There was always a, a, something blocking.

So a couple of years ago, I came across the concept of podcasting and I, you know, I sort of knew, but I'd never thought I would do it. And, and the more I sort of learned about it, that was like. You know, of course I went at, at first like, well, how can I use this for my business and how can I my business grow? And then I was like, wait a minute, what if I did the 40 Drinks Podcast? Well, and then it was, okay, well if I did that, and I just talked about my 40 drinks, you're done in 40 episodes.

Dai: Right.

Stephanie: So instead of taking the spotlight on me, what if I did that and talked about, talked to other people about their experiences and their transitions, and that idea just sang for me. That's the pretty fully fleshed backstory of the podcast.

Dai: It's awesome.

Stephanie: Thank you.

Dai: Really, it's amazing. And I gotta just commend you 'cause I know it's. It takes a lot of energy, a lot of resources, a lot, a lot of, well, let's just say getting uncomfortable,

Stephanie: Yes.

Dai: know, but good for you. I mean, it's just, but I love that,

I just love that idea of these capturing these, these. Really, it's 40 micro experiences. Right? And, and then now you're just transitioning to, I mean, it's just giving people the tools to, to have better conversations and connection as well. Right. is just awesome. I, I, I did something similar. I had 40 videos, you know, 40 days to 40, and it was basically 40 life lessons, 40 things I would've liked to have told myself when I was 20. 'Cause right around the same time, my kids were closer than 20 than I was. So I was like, you know, what would I have wanted to learn when I was 20? You know, that would've been helpful. So I did 40 videos and 40 days leading up to my, my 40th birthday. But similar to you. Like, I, I wasn't excited for a party or any of that stuff.

I mean, I just really just, it wasn't like I, I was like, it's 40, it's like whatever. But if I can impart some knowledge and more so wisdom that I've learned in those 40 years, I felt that that was something more meaningful. So I, I just, I love your idea 'cause you went one step further. You create your whole platform around this. It's freaking awesome. It's awesome.

Stephanie: Well, you know, it's funny because as a, as an extrovert, you know, the, the getting together with people was, was very fulfilling and very satisfying. But also, one of the things I learned decades ago about being an extrovert is that a lot of times we don't know what we think until it's kind of out here in front of us until we're, we've got the sort of the air between us filled with words.

And so, a couple of weeks ago I was recording the outro for an upcoming episode. My mission came again out of my mouth fully formed. I said I wanna make it common cultural knowledge that there is a transition around age 40. And then I wanna showcase so many versions of that, that anybody who is either approaching 40 or recently turned 40 with dread in their hearts knows that they are not alone.

Dai: Yes. Oh, powerful and clear. Very clear. You know, I love it. What a great mission.

I think it's so cool. Like, it kinda reminds me of well, just more so like the, this idea, like I don't know if you ever came across Dr. Wayne Dyer's book, The Shift? Yeah.

Stephanie: oh. I've, I've, I know of him. I know that I've read that particular book.

Dai: is done a documentary, well, it's not a documentary, sorry, it's not, but they've sort of done a hollywoodized version of that, that based loosely on the principle. But it's, it is about that sort of, but it, it really looks more at men specifically and how, you know, men either have a, that midlife crisis as they call it, right, there's just no sense of purpose or meaning. And so they distract themselves because they know there's this big gap that they're trying to fill, right?

And or alternatively you go all in on trying to create impact and, and really align with the meaning and purpose for one's life, you know? So I, I found that really fascinating. 'Cause I know when I was transitioning around 40, I don't know, 40 to 42, those, those few years were kind of weird. You know, there's, they were weird. There's just so many changes happening all at once, but also physically changes happening, right? Like, it's, I can't train like I was when I was in my thirties or twenties. Like, I gotta adapt even how I train, you know? And so it was, it's interesting. It's super interesting, but I, I love it. I love this. This is so cool.

I love what you're doing. I really do. I think it's amazing.

Stephanie: Thank you. Well, one of the things I'm so curious about is that I think, you know, I remember being a kid in the eighties and the midlife crisis was like a, a cultural phenomenon. It was thing, right? Every 40th birthday was black balloons and over the hill paper plates and, you know, all of that stuff.

And I feel like now it's the, the millennials and that generation that are approaching and turning 40 right now have so, separated themselves from that concept of the midlife crisis. And of course, we're living longer, so what actually is midlife and, you know, all of these things. So I think that a generation or two ago, there was, if you had some weird feeling inside of you, at least there was some cliched thing you could look at and say, oh, well maybe this is my version of that. And now there isn't.

Dai: Yes yes.

Stephanie: So

Dai: Oh, man. Because saw my dad go through that, divorce my mom, right. The, the whole deal. I remember seeing that because I, I too a child of the eighties. I remember my parents dropping the bomb on us in mid eighties. You know, I think I was about not quite 10 yet, so it would've been probably 1985 or so. There was still lots of stigmatization towards divorces back right? Like we don't have the stats tell where most more relationship to end in divorce than actually succeed, and which is startling in, in itself. And it, you know, definitely a social commentary there, but, but outside of that, you know, it was seeing that happen and then seeing that repeat itself.

But now, you know, there's so much more resources for kids of divorced homes, you know, where I didn't have anybody to talk to back then. So being someone that went internal, know, I, I did, I became very introverted and actually developed social anxiety and became morbidly obese also on top of that, you know, like, so it was just all these things. 'Cause I, I just really went off the deep end because I, I didn't have any of that support and I, you know, I was self-medicating with with food, video games and movies, you know, like that, that was it. It was my lifestyle for six years. So, of course, you know, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to tell you, oh yeah, you're, you're eating more than you need and you're gonna keep eating, you know, and sure I did. So I, think it's interesting because I, I, I. I just wish my dad had access to a platform like yours.

Stephanie: Yeah,

Dai: Do you know what I mean? Like, I just, I think about those cliches in that older generation, the baby boomers especially. They still are a very interesting generation. 'cause all of them are now, you know, sort of in their late seventies, eighties, even early nineties. And they're, they're, they're in a weird place right now, right? Because I see them going through another transition because they're like, geez, do I reinvest in my health now hoping to get another maybe 30 years outta me? Or do I deal with the health issues and just go one at a time? You know, like that health span I think is a very relevant conversation today.

You know, I, I don't know if you're familiar with that idea, but that idea of it's not just lifespan, it's healthspan. It's like, you stay, you know, longevity's one thing, but longevity without vitality. What's the point? You know, like so I, I think there's, it's such a relevant conversation you're leading. Think it's just wonderful. Yeah.

Stephanie: Thank Thank you. Yeah. It's it's kind of a wild thing to dig into because, as I have these conversations and, you know, I feel like I'm doing this, as a service, right? to help other people.

Dai: of course.

Stephanie: I gotta tell you, out of every, you know, out of every five conversations, I'll hang up on one of 'em and go, oh, that one was a hundred percent for me. You know, that's like, I'm still,

Dai: cathartic, right? Oh, I bet. Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Stephanie: You know, still learning, still like hearing things that like, oh, wait a minute. That like other people, I, I have not been a particularly self-reflective, introspective person most of my life. So there's a lot of things that I didn't go digging for and didn't go looking at or examining.

And so some of these words and some of this language and some of these experiences, it's like, you know it's so as much as it is for other people, it's also, I think very, and isn't that the, the way though you, you do something for others that is actually what you need yourself, right? That's, that's sort of,

Dai: Absolutely. I, I mean it's, I mean, it's the hero's journey through and through, right?

Like, it's straight up. It's like now you're just helping others with that same part of the journey, but you still gotta walk it again and again, right? So I always think about that. It's like, as much as you help people get on these journeys, very often we're just walking it again and again ourselves guiding them, right? And and then eventually they take the lead and we follow them, and that's just the way life works.

Stephanie: Right, right, right there. There will come an expiration date on my version of this. Right. Will I do this for five years or 10 years? And then at some point, maybe I won't be relevant anymore and somebody else, you know, and the culture will change and, and it,

Dai: drinks to 50, wasn't it?

Isn't next one?

Stephanie: No, I'm sorry, my friend. That one is in the rear view.

Dai: Really, you look fantastic, Stephanie. So whatever you're doing, keep doing it.

Stephanie: It's

Dai: look great.

Stephanie: thank you. It's mostly genetics. Yeah. I turned 52 this summer.

Dai: Wow. Congratulations. Geez. Yeah. I'm turning 47 in a few weeks here,

Stephanie: Okay.

Dai: it's yeah, I'm, I'm looking at 50. It's, it's, it's, I'm staring down the barrel right know, so, Yeah. But hey, if I, I guess a little bit of your genetics, I'll feel really good about turning 50, you know, so that's great.

Stephanie: I swung around to another 40 recently, and that was, I was I was walking to work a, a couple of weeks ago and realizing that the women on both sides of my family have really some pretty significant longevity. My dad's mother died when she was 92.

Dai: Whew.

Stephanie: And my mom's aunt died when she was 99 and a half.

Dai: way. Whoa,

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah.

Dai: that's awesome.

Stephanie: And so I was walking to work and I realized, well, I just turned 52. I potentially have another 40 years. So, you know, it was like I around to Sure, sure, sure. But I just came around to another 40, you know, it was

Dai: Yes.

Stephanie: what if I've another 40 years? And it's still funny 'cause people think when they get old and when they get older, it's like, oh, do you become less relevant? Do you become less vibrant? Do you become less meaningful, whatever. It's like, I have another 40 years. That's a whole lifetime left.

Dai: And not like everyone's just gonna disappear. There's lots of people in our age category that we'll still be relevant to, you know, it's but you gotta start somewhere and someone's gotta take the lead. And fact that you're doing it is, is, you know what? 99.9% of other people don't do.

Stephanie: yeah, yeah.

Dai: So relevancy, I think will just naturally be there because you're taking action, you're, you're doing stuff. You know, like I, I, I just, and I think, I think about my mom and even my grandparents when they retired, they, they've all, you know, they've passed since. But I just, you know, that transition from when you go from work, work, work, work, and then don't have the work, I think that's an interesting milestone for a lot of people as well. You know? 'cause because I, you know, it can go one of two ways. It's either awesome

Stephanie: Yeah.

Dai: it's not, you know? And I look at my mom's health, it, my dad's health, like, it was wild. Like just within years of them leaving their careers, working, you know, the 40, 50 hours a week for 40 plus years, it was just like that loss of purpose, right? just, it's interesting, you know,

Stephanie: What gives you meaning,? You know, and can you find it internally or can you find it outside career, or, yeah, yeah, it is. That's a , oh my goodness, that's a whole nother

Dai: Yeah.

Stephanie: But as a self-employed person, somebody who owns my company, I don't anticipate that coming anytime

Dai: Yeah. Right. Yeah. But do you really want, I mean I, I, my wife and I talk about this frequently, but we, we just became empty nesters. So my, my youngest daughter is off at university now, so we're now in a transition fear period for ourselves. Right. I, it's just, it's weird. 20 years plus years with kids always around and they're not around, and it's like, what do we do with ourselves? You know, like, because you have a lot of this extra energy all of a sudden and time and, and attention. Like, where do we want to give our attention?

Stephanie: Where does it

Dai: these conversations are very relevant right now. So yeah. Anyways, it's interesting, those transitionary periods in our lives. Huh? I, I, I mean, I, I love that you're, you're capturing those. I think it's good. Yeah. Super

Stephanie: Well then why don't we just shift the conversation and let's talk about yours.

Dai: keep jamming.

Stephanie: Let's keep jamming. So tell me a little bit about how we get to the beginning of your story, which you said was you, your first shift is at 32. So, so you, you talked a little bit about your parents got divorced when you were a kid, so

Dai: yeah,

Stephanie: fill in the blank there.

Dai: We're kids of the eighties. There wasn't an internet the way we know that today. We didn't really have ease of access of information like we do today. And, and also, you know, there was a lot of topics that were heavily stigmatized, like divorce and, and you know, there's only one other kid in my entire class that didn't have this original parents together. And so right away you feel like a, a a, an ostracized minority that you can't talk to the other kids 'cause they just don't get it.

Stephanie: Right. Meanwhile, their parents are judging you and your parents.

Dai: Exactly. Oh, thank you for stating that. 'cause you see that especially, you know, being, I think I was in grade three or four at the time, you know, and, it was a grade five anyways, it was right around then, you know, sort of that, that grade school period. And it was just, it was just so weird, right? And, and, and just feeling that frustration, not knowing how to express my emotions. My dad's always been very stoic. My mom, hyper emotional. So, you know, trying to navigate between those two polar opposites has been challenging. 'cause I'm, I'm a bit of both, you know, I'm a bit of both.

And anyways, long and short of it, I, I went internal. I, I started to eat my emotions. I, I learned really quickly that if I did certain things and I ate certain foods that I can manipulate my emotional state, my psychological state, you know, I can make myself in the moment, forget about everything around me, and just focus on that act and, and enjoy the little dopamine highs that I would get from eating certain sugary foods or watching certain movies or playing video games.


Stephanie: it conscious? Did you know that you felt better or you would? Okay. All

Dai: I, I knew I was trying to distract myself. Like, I learned that distraction was a great way to avoid, you know, like, it was just do things so I don't have to pay attention to this stuff, you know? So this, I feel sad about my parents not being together. I'm confused, I'm feeling lost. My parents were dealing with their own stuff.

Like, let's real. You know, they now, as someone that's close to the age that they were, you know, when they were going through that and being in that, I've been in a relationship for 23 years. I, I now understand, you know, the, the work that they had to put in and, and also why the end result occurred, you know?

And after six years of, of basically self-medicating, I at 15 was at the doctor with my mom. And Dr. Quinn pulls my mom aside. It's like Betty Ann Dai is , morbidly obese, his BMI is in the forties, you know, like, this is, this is serious, you know? And, and I had no idea what any of that meant. But I knew how I felt and I was dealing with a lot of mental health challenges. You know, was very depressed dealing with social anxiety. And also I I, I avoided a lot of things, you know social things because I, I felt so low about myself. I really didn't like me. And there was a moment though where I became hyper aware that if I didn't do something, my future wasn't looking better than it was right then and there at 15,

Stephanie: Yep.

Dai: you know, like I really did. I got, because you know, during high school and those early high school days, you start meeting with the counselors and the teachers start asking questions like, what are you gonna do when you graduate? And I'm like, I have no idea. I

Stephanie: Right.

Dai: And Yeah. pretty much, right? And, and I'm like well, I, I sure hope I don't feel this way when I graduate. And I started realizing that that is the future if I don't do something. And I became more afraid of that future than the idea of figuring out how to change.

Stephanie: Oh, wow.

Dai: And I, I mean, I can articulate this now. I've also had the therapy to help me unpack all this, you know, many years later. But I can honestly say, you know, it, it was a great time in my life because I, I felt empowered to make a change for myself. Didn't really know how to do it. I was intimidated by that. Didn't necessarily know how I would keep it going, you know, 'cause it was something I'd never done before. But I knew I was open to it and I was ready for it. And long and short of it took 20 months to release the weight. All that weight that took me six years to put on. But also a new lifestyle emerge from that. And also sort of a, a new psychology, if you will. A new perspective on myself. But I was still seeking validation. And this is important for later because even in my twenties and in my early thirties, I was still seeking validation. I seek externally. So because I was here, I, I just wanted to be wanted, you know, that was a big motivation, extrinsic motivation. Like, I wanted a girlfriend when I was 15. Okay. I did, I wanted someone to want me. And

Stephanie: You wanted to be special.

Dai: I did. Absolutely. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to feel cared for and, and wanted, and I wanted that level of intimacy with somebody else as well, you know? And well, you know, this started to happen at 17, but I also realized, I still felt like that morbidly obese fat kid, even though

I, I had made all these external changes and people were telling me, oh, you look great. I was getting invited to parties. I, I was having dates, had girlfriend even by that time. And, and then I remember being at a party and being given my first alcoholic beverage, you know, a beer. And then I had a second one, and by the third one I was like. There's some girls over there and we've been eyeing each other. I'm gonna go talk to them, you know, and oh, there's a big circle of guys over there laughing and chatting. Normally, I would never get into that circle and try to interject myself into the conversation, but I was like, I'm gonna go hang out and see what's going on. You know, like all that liquid courage, the cliche, it, it is legit. There's why There's cliche. Very much so. And I learned very quickly, or, or at least I, I came to believe very quickly that people enjoyed hanging out with that version of me more than who I was.

Stephanie: Yep.

Dai: So then, you know, this perpetuated well into my twenties and until 32. And now real quickly during my twenties, you know, I, I, I moved from Toronto to Vancouver, so all the, across Canada, because I wanted a fresh start at 18, you know, I graduated high school, I was like, peace out. I wanna go somewhere where nobody knows my background, you know? 'cause there were still that stigmatization, you know, certain people, like certain girls in my class, I was from a small town, so it was like, they wouldn't gimme the time of day, didn't matter how much they changed, you know, it was just like, no, you're the fat kid. You know, like, anyways, it's amazing how shallow people could be, but that's just the way it is, you know?

And moved out to Vancouver. I was going to school u University of British Columbia, and you know, just studying general sciences and then eventually transitioned to philosophy and English literature. I went into the arts, but I, I was always doing something that I loved, which was fitness and lots of fitness jobs. And then I, I found an equipment job selling fitness equipment, and it was my first time working in a performance-based pay structure. Where, where there was no cap and it was based on how many people I could help find the right solution to help them get healthy results. They would pay me more. And I was like, is this for real? Is this like legit? Like you, you sure about this? Like, I was like questioning. I was like, there's gotta be a catch. Right, and 'cause I'm selling stuff that I love to play with. Like this, this helped me change my life. I mean, I, I, I believe in this stuff, you know? And and they're like, yeah, that's the deal.

And anyways, I, I got into it and I excelled very quickly and became one of the top guys in Canada within my first couple, couple years in the business. And a few years after that, by my mid twenties, I had an opportunity to go and be a partner and start up our own company. And we did just that. And that was a, a wonderful 13 year journey. But alcohol is still very present. It was still there. And, and here's the crazy part, everybody I associated with personally and professionally, this is just normal.

Stephanie: Yes, me

Dai: all normalized,

Stephanie: Me, tOo.

Dai: yeah, well, yeah.

Stephanie: just the people I hung out with. It was just what we did.

Dai: It's, it's wild, right? Like, and, and because I didn't know any better and it was just, it just is what it is. and and even the conversations were just never very deep. 'cause you know, you get a few drinks in India, you might have a deep conversation, but you may not remember most of it come the next day, And so I, I felt a lot of times not a lot of connection, like deep, significant connection. And I knew I wanted that, you know, like, but I didn't know how to get it. And honestly, I had my own habits and that were preventing me from doing that, you know, especially the drinking, which also sometimes will lead to narcotic use and, and other things I'm not proud of. Because it was so misaligned with my values and how I was raised. And and we know whenever we do something that's against our values, we don't feel very good about it. You know, guilt, shame, blame. I mean, all that stuff comes in. And at 32, my wife had it. She was done. And we had been together for 10 years. At that time, both my daughters were under the age of six. My wife's like, you know what we need to talk about. What life's gonna look like, co-parenting our kids. But you can't be here anymore. The, this is not an environment that we wanna raise our girls in any longer, because a lot of time I'd have my own drinks at home. Right. Like, I'd, I'd come home after work, oh, I've had a long day, you know, I'm stressed. I'm gonna have some beer, or I'm gonna have a wine. You know, like, it would always be a bottle later. Right. And, it was just such a present habit and, and, some of my actions and how I was showing up for my family. I, I get it. I understand why she got to that point.

Stephanie: Yep.

Dai: And then she asked me a question while we were in this deep discussion and tears were being exchanged. Like just, it was just constant. It felt like a tennis match of sobbing, you know? And it was just back and forth and she said,Daii are you being the type of man you would want to marry your daughters? Yeah. Stephanie, when she asked me that, it was just like, holy smokes. You know, like I, I got really irate, obviously very irritated. And, and I mean, I was very defensive and. Which I was always very defensive. I never took criticism very well, you know, based on my background. I just, I was not good with criticism and or feedback for that matter. 'cause I always took it as a negative, you know, very fixed in my mindset back then.

And and that wasn't what I wanted, but I knew she, the, the question she just asked me, I know I couldn't answer it honestly. I I wanted to say of course, but I was a lie. I, I wasn't being that guy. And it was like right then and there, I made a change. I, i, again, just like at 15, I was like, I cold Turkey. I wanna get healthy, so I'll just start doing things to make me healthier. I was like, you know, I'm gonna go a year without drinking. That. That'd be the longest stint I'd ever done without drinking since I was like 17, you know, like I'd only ever done like a sober January one time in those 15 years of drinking. So drinking was very prominent. It was very challenging. And six weeks in, I realized I, I can't do this on my own. You know, I need some help. And that's when I experienced being vulnerable for the first time. Like really truly being vulnerable and trying to express emotions even though I didn't have the language, you know, the, the, the words to express myself. I tried and I fumbled my way through it with my wife and it was so cathartic. I this release, you know, just sort of uh, came off of me. My wife looks at me after this hour of me just bl on her. sHe's like, thank you, you know, for being honest with me and ta sharing that with me and you know, it's gonna be okay. I love you. We're gonna get through this. And then, and then she followed that up with, after a long pause, I think you should talk to somebody, you know, like, and, and she was right, but I had a very negative opinion on mental health and mental health supporters. And I was like, I'm not crazy. Why do I have to talk to somebody

Stephanie: We grew up in the eighties. It was not acceptable. Only crazy people went to therapy in the eighties, or at least as kids, that’s

Dai: Psychologist. What?

Stephanie: That's maybe what we interpreted.

Dai: True. And I know I did myself.

Stephanie: Me too!

Dai: it was tough. And so I did, I went and found somebody and I worked with him for five and a half, six months, and I found a relationships counselor that worked with my wife and I to help us with our communication. And, but after our first session with her, she's like, yeah, you know, Christie, Dai looking at us on the couch. I think Dai should come back on his own for a little bit. You know? So, so it was like, okay, okay. Touche. No problem. And I thought this couples counseling. Oh, totally, totally. She was just in a much, you know, better place. She, she had matured, you know, she was. I, I hadn't. And it was quite the year, you know, at the end of the year, everything had changed. I, I, I'd started doing more personal development, looking at the internal side of developing myself, where everything had been external. You know what? Whatever people see is what I worked on. You know, if I could shift their perception of me to a certain thing, then my job I believed was done. You know? And all of a sudden I was like, I, well, I don't have the tools or resources. I don't understand how to do this inner work. I stumbled my way through it, and, and this is what set out that path really in motion. You know, because in the next five years, everything in my life changed for the better, for the better. You know, like my relationships with my kids, you know, with my wife, with my business partner at the time, you know, with, gosh, with even just my colleagues and my friends, my family, like even the community initiatives that we became involved with, I just found I had this energy, this, this desire, this, this want in me, this, this need, if you will, to, to help others and to be a better version, to be that guy that I can honestly say, you know, if my girls end up with someone like me right now. I'm happy about that. I, could support that.


Dai: That was really it, you know, and then come about 37, 38, I was like, you know, this path, I'm on this company I've been building, with my partner and this whole team that we had built over the years we had built up to about eight figures a year, and significant operation, omnichannel as they stay in the retail space. It was you know, retail locations we had eight, and we had a couple of B2B enterprises. We were manufacturing things overseas and shipping and all over the place, and, and doing online e-commerce all across Canada. It was quite the operation. I learned a lot through this. I didn't go to school for that, know, but I learned a lot being in the space for 17 years. that was interesting because I honestly felt, Stephanie, that that was the path I was meant to be on the rest of my life.

Stephanie: Right,

Dai: I thought, this is it. This is what I'm meant to be doing. This is my company I co-founded, I'm gonna be the CEO when my business partner 20 years, my senior steps aside, this is it.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Dai: And then I realized, like this life I've been chasing or trying to design, when I really looked at it hard, 'cause that my business partner was also my first real business mentor, 20 years my senior. I started working with him when I was in my early twenties. He was in his early forties, five years younger than I am now. And I looked at his life, I looked at his kids, I looked at, the stuff that he had acquired, but also the experience he had had. And I was like, I want that. That must be successful.

Stephanie: Right.

Dai: And 17 years later, this life I've been chasing and trying to design and all these things I've been doing, I'm trying to live his life.

Stephanie: Yeah. Oh,

Dai: Not mine. And, and that's what was scary. Like this is really scary at this point, which I know you can speak to 'cause you've had so many of these conversations. But when you start to realize the path that you're on isn't the path you're meant to be on anymore, it's like, well, where am I supposed to be? You know, like, what am I supposed to do? You know? I did what I thought it was best. I, left that career. I gave them 20 months notice. So plenty of time to find somebody or also put the systems in place. 'Cause I know I was a very integral part of the team, managing a lot of responsibilities. But I wanted to leave, right? a month after I left, my wife quit her job. A couple months after that, pulled the kids outta school, gave away all our stuff, packed up the SUV and went traveling. I had also written a book during that 20 months notice, that was something I felt I had a need in me to do. we traveled around North America predominantly 'cause my father was sick with Pancreatitis, which eventually progressed into pancreatic cancer. we knew that we wanted to be close to him in case we had to, spend some of that time with him at end of life. And fortunately for us, those final six months we were with him and the whole family, living under the same roof again, which was really weird. It was a heck of a five years. And we spent two and a half of those years in Bali, Indonesia.

Stephanie: Oh.

Dai: yeah, yeah, I know. It was, it was hard.

Stephanie: Oh my God.

Dai: But that, that was it, you know, these five years. And then we moved back to Vancouver pre pandemic. 'cause my girls, we always said that if they wanted to finish schooling in Vancouver, we would honor that. And so we came back to Vancouver, they, so they could graduate and now they're graduating. And so that's, that's basically, I've given you everything up to, today, and now I'm still helping people navigate change, whether professionally, in organizations or just personally as individuals. It's just creating a healthier relationship with change.

Stephanie: Yeah. Oh my God. This story unbelievable. The although the eat, pray, love

Dai: yes, I know, Yeah.

Stephanie: in Bali, I, I, you know, I'm wondering I can talk my husband into that.

Dai: Oh heck yes. Well, Stephanie, especially with your business and how you operate listen, you don't need a physical location. You can just go And I'll tell you, the internet in Bali is, fine. It's than adequate. So there you go. You know?

Stephanie: Patrick, if you're listening,

Dai: Yeah. Well, you lemme know when you're ready 'cause we got some great friends over there and wonderful communities to connect you with. And that goes for anybody that's curious about Bali, just reach out. I'll introduce you to my wife. She, she was meticulous with taking notes of everything.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Dai: Basically in her note section in her phone was like places we went, people we connected with, you know, even like some of the subcontractors, like this is the guy you were in bikes from. You need a driver. This is the driver you hire, you need a maid. This is the maid. You know, like it was this, my wife's so good with that. With me. I'm just like, where are we going today? You know, what are we doing? Like, so anyways, you lemme know when.

Stephanie: Okay. All right. Well, tell me though, so you started traveling, you traveled around North America. What was the traveling life like? Were you homeschooling the girls?

Dai: We tried for the first two weeks. I guess it's probably more appropriate to call it road schooling on the road. But we realized very quickly my wife and I lacked the patience for that. and to be fair, our kids did too. they're like, mom, dad, we're in the car a together. we were around each other so much, so often that when it came to doing that focused intentional work it was just challenging. It didn't feel natural. It didn't feel smooth. so we all sort of came to an agreement where there were certain subject matter that we would encourage the girls to constantly stay on top of. We had made sure they had some iPads, some basic Chromebooks. We had few websites, certain YouTube channels but also encouraged certain habits that my one daughter, she loved playing Minecraft. Kids that get really proficient at doing that, they just become very, creative. My, youngest daughter's very creative based on that passion she had with them. And then my eldest, she got into a platform called Wattpad, which is, is basically just all a text-based platform where people write and create stories and poetry or collaborate on stories, and she loves that, which led her, today, she's an actor and at university for, for acting for stage and film. So it, it's funny to see how that all progressed and really, she was on that path well before we even knew she was. I guess the best way to describe it is for those five years we life schooled the kids, We were going to national parks or local provincial parks, you know, research some of the hotspots or top restaurants even, just really encourage them to take it upon themselves to educate themselves about where we were traveling. And our girls were very good at talking to other people. They take after my wife that way. My wife's very extroverted and she can talk to anyone, and my girls are very similar and take after her that way. And so it was neat to see us go around and make these new connections in these new cities. It was a wonderful experience and we knew when it was time for our kids to go back into school in Canada. When you come back into a school system, whatever age you are, and whatever grade you would've been in, they just put you in there.

Stephanie: Okay.

Dai: Like, there's no challenging, there's no showing that you have a certain foundation of knowledge. They're just like, Nope, there you go. And it is like, they don't even hold people back anymore. I mean, I just, I don't wanna get into this social commentary either, but I've got some opinions on that. But anyways we did condensed tutoring for six months. My eldest is going into grade 11. My youngest is going into grade nine. So we went into condensed tutoring to get them caught up on all the materials, the key subject matters. And it was great. They went back into school. You have to remember, they were also the ones pushing to go back into school. I would've stayed in Bali. Okay. Like, I would've stayed there. I wasn't ready to leave. And so my daughters were really, they were pushing that agenda. And I'm fine with that. We always honored it. But as soon as we knew we were coming back, we, we doubled down on that tutoring and just got them to a place where they felt comfortable and confident enough to go into school again. But they were also excited to be going back into school. So they were excited to learn, connect, have that whole high school experience. It's different when your kids are telling you, I want to go to school. And I'm like, are you sure you're my kids? when I was 15 and, you know, getting, starting to get healthy, I was like, the last place I wanted be was school,But I commend them for it, and they stuck it out and did really well. Both are off at university now.

The years you were traveling, did you,and your wife ever second guess yourselves around

Oh yeah.

Stephanie: the, the life you were providing for the kids? Right. It's very un non-traditional.

Dai: You're right. But the neat thing is my wife had done a lot, she had been dripping on me for about a year before I finally gave notice for 20 months. So, you know, for about three years before, you know, we finally had the day where we're driving away from Vancouver, there was like three years there where she's listening to podcasts, connecting with different Facebook communities. There's so many nomadic families out there, even though it's a small niche, it's a pretty big population of people when you actually start looking into it. Like even podcasts that are out there of traveling families and nomadic families and people that have figured out ways of, of just making their, their careers or vocation, not location dependent. And it was really inspiring 'cause you'd send, Hey, listen to this podcast. And then I'd listen to a guy that was similar career path as me and up and left and took four of their kids and his wife, you know, traveling. I'm like six people, man. I got enough logistics with four, know? And, and, and I was like, well, if he could do it, man, why can't we, you know?

And so I warmed up to the idea because also I was going through all those personal changes myself when it came to purpose, meaning for my life. And just, again, I was approaching 40, you know, 40 was in the near future. And I was like, geez, where is this where I thought I'd be, you know, is this what I'd be doing? You know, what would I be doing? You know, what do I wanna be doing? They're scary questions but they're very worthwhile answering. You know, 'cause they're clarifying questions and when you have clarity, your confidence goes up. And when you feel more confident, you take more intentional action and you procrastinate less. That really just created that momentum for us to keep going.

There was mornings, we'd be having a coffee talking about it, sort of reviewing the plan for the day. I've never told this ever. So this is a first timer. I remember very distinctly we're on this traveling and we were down the states and for some reason I got locked outta my accounts. I don't know what happened. So we had no money, you know, 'cause my wife and I, we have joint accounts on everything, we're locked out, credit cards, everything. We're down in the states. We're not in Canada. Can't seem to get ahold of anybody at the bank. And I just remember being like, it's okay. I got a Starbucks card that's connected to my PayPal. I. We can eat, you know, like, and, and I remember for about two days we were going around from Starbucks locations, one for the free wifi, but two, 'cause I had this Starbucks card that was attached to my PayPal account so we could at least keep reloading the Starbucks card, you know? And, and we were like, man, this is in North America. What would happen if this happened overseas? We'd be screwed. You know? So it was fun to have sort of those moments because it also put our resiliency to a test, you know? And my wife's always very even keel. She's like, don't worry, we're gonna get through this. And I'm always like. Nah, I don't know what you're talking about. You know, this is, I'm sort of doomsday at times. Right. And she's the one that's like sickly optimistic. Okay. Like, and I always joke, I'm like, my wife is sick with a chronic condition called PMA people are like, what's PMA positive mental attitude, you know, like, seriously. And it is contagious. I mean, if you want something to go viral and get sick with, that's a good thing to get sick with, know? So but I, I laugh, but that's just who she is, you know? And and so yeah, we, we navigated a lot of those ups and downs and they were very emotional at times. And also try not to let that frustration between my wife and I and those moments affect the kids,

Stephanie: sure.

Dai: You know? 'Cause they're also young, yeah. It is a small space, you know, and Airbnbs and motels, hotels, you know, friends, couches like living room floors. It was all over the place, what we did. And they, they pick up on everything. They, they're very empathic that way as well. They pick up on people's energy. My, especially my youngest, she's really very in tune to that. So we're, we're really sensitive. 'cause we know if we get upset around our, our youngest, she always gets upset, you And so it was trying to be mindful of that. But it's hard, right? Like you just, you get in the thick of things and emotions take over. I can honestly say Stephanie as challenging as some of those moments were it was well worth it. You know, I, I won't trade those experiences for anything. And I look at my girls now and they're, they're just, they're just seemed so much more mature. Like that was the thing when they went back into high school. 'cause they missed all those middle years in school, which can be really hard years, you know, really hard years, especially with all the social media pressures today and just, just media's influence. Right. And they didn't have to deal with any of that. So they went right into high school and they're like, they were amazed at some of the conversations kids would have, right? They're just like, that just makes sense. Like, they just felt like they have no idea what's out there, you know, like, so it was really neat to see them logically rationalize some of these very emotional and and very hormonally influenced conversations. Not to say they weren't dealing with that themselves at times, but they just had this ability to sort of dissect and digest things as needed and, and, and take what they felt they needed to take, but also to forget the rest.

Stephanie: I spent a semester in, in Ireland when I

Dai: Oh, cool. Oh my gosh, that must have been so much

Stephanie: It was the best. it was transformative life experience for sure. I spent nine months, almost nine months in Ireland. And, I remember, you know, coming, you know, and when you're in Ireland, you're close to so much of Europe. And so we, we went in, you know, into different parts of Europe and, and you see that people live different ways and you see that the way that was common in your house or your community or your town or your school isn't necessarily the capital R right way to do things right. That

Dai: right Yeah,

Stephanie: ways to do things. When I came back as a 23-year-old, like I just had so much more context for the world. When I came home, it was like, it felt parochial it felt, you know, home felt a little parochial for, you know, a, a huge amount of the population here, probably like where you came from, were just from here and just stayed here and never really went anywhere else. And so, so I bet your girls really experienced that when they went back to high school.

Dai: Thank you. You're you're absolutely correct. Yeah, and that was especially their first six months in school, it was like really noticeable. And then eventually they sort of just, they get into a flow. And they get into those friend communities and, you know, they get on the social, they start connecting with other people. We were pretty good at having those family conversations though, to be like, Hey, listen, you know, the way you're acting right now is not cool. This is a bit unruly. What is this? What's going on? You know? And, and inevitably would find out there's something else going on at school that's affecting them and they bring it home with them. Right. anD we're okay with that. We just like to be able to discuss it, you know, especially if it's affecting the energy in the house. Right. I'm guilty of that too, like, so I always use myself as an example with them because they know it. It's whatever energy I seem to have in the house, the house adopts and so if I'm having a bad day, they'll be the first to say, dad, do you need something to eat? Do you need a nap or do you have to go work out? You know, like, like my family knows me so well, like, legitimately, it's like it's one of those three things that I need do,

Stephanie: But

the actual embodiment of that Snickers commercial where change human beings until had your Snickers.

Dai: I swear, yes. Like my wife, it is funny. When we traveled in the console of the car, we always had protein

Stephanie: Mm-Hmm

Dai: or meal replacement bars, just for that reason, because I get very hangry very quickly. And when I do, I get quiet and I get snappy. So I actually remember one time her throwing a bar at me, like literally throwing it at me. Like, do not talk to us until you eat this. You know? So it was, it was pretty good, but it was, it was well, and it was a good point on her power because I, I needed to eat.

Stephanie: Years ago, I, I found the perfect kitchen towel. It says, don't tell me that hungry is not an emotion because I feel that shit in my soul.

Dai: Oh, I love it. That is so good. I would totally hang that up.

Stephanie: Literally. It's not a towel we use, it just hangs in kitchen like art.

Dai: I bet. I, I was gonna say, that's just so on point. It's funny, you

Stephanie: yeah. No, it it's perfect. I'm the same way. Patrick knows. And, and that was actually one of the things I remember a girlfriend reflecting back to me, like one of the things that made me fall in love with him was like I remember a day maybe I was having, I don't know, same kind of thing, right? So having a spiral of somewhere and, and he looked at me and he said, I think you're hungry. was like. Are are, are you a magician? I don't even know I'm hungry, but you're exactly right. Let's feed me and as soon me, I was fine. Yeah. So

Dai: It's awesome. It's awesome. You know, you got a good partner when, right. like, Yeah. They, because they, they also tolerate the hungry version of you. Right, and until they don't.

Stephanie: right,

Dai: So it's like, yeah, my wife's like, you haven't eaten yet, have you? Like 'cause sometimes I get distracted. I get into something and I'm like, I know I was supposed to eat. I didn't eat. And she's like, I can tell you haven't eaten yet. talk to eat. You know? And so it's but it's good. she makes me better, you She makes me better,

Stephanie: That's awesome. That's awesome. Okay, so you guys gave up your life and went wandering for it like about five or six

Dai: about five years, about five years.

Stephanie: which brings you to your early forties.

Dai: Yes. That we moved back here, what? Two and a half, three, three years ago, I guess we came back, so yeah, I would've been 42, almost 43 when I came back. Yeah.

Stephanie: Yeah. So what was the transition like coming back being rooted in a community and in a place?

Dai: Well, so here's the funny thing. All right. My, my daughters, my both daughters and my wife came back the summer. So just to put this in context, the summer of 2019, they moved back 'cause they knew to get them set up for school. Like we had to go on a wait list, make sure we got into the encampment you know what I mean? That word, you know, the school district that we wanted. And so my wife came back, also found a place for us, you know, started to house, you know, get the whole house set up. Anyways, all that stuff, they were good with that because I had commitments still in Bali. I had some retreats that were going on and some speaking engagements, I just, I had some commitments there and plus I wasn't ready to leave yet, so I stayed on in Bali for six months after they left. But I did go back at the three month interval and come home for three weeks in between. But when I moved back, I came back January, end of January, 2020. Yeah. You know where I'm going with this, so I, I,

Stephanie: to go. The first one is you came back into winter.

Dai: I know. Well, trust me, and we don't get a lot of snow in Vancouver, but when it snows, it snows, you know, it's, it's like Seattle climate just like that. So Seattle doesn't get much snow either, but when it snows, it's there and it's there for a few days, you know, or longer. And so yeah, I came back and it was a snowstorm for one, and then two you know, it was about four and a half, five weeks later, you know, lockdown.

Stephanie: yeah. Right. started on the West coast.

Dai: yeah. It was ridiculous though, because, you know, I had all these great intentions. I had started men's groups when I was in Bali, so I had this wonderful men's community, and I basically started planting seeds. So when I came back, I already had 20 guys showing up to these weekly meetings, like, right, right outta the gate, you know, these guys showing up to support each other. You know, just really building that, that camaraderie with, with like-minded individuals, specifically men for men, you know? We had three meetings and then lockdown. And so like all that momentum disappeared. 'Cause transitioning to Zoom, some did, some of those meetings are still going, but the, the attendance was just, you know, it just, I, I understand why, and most of us get Zoom fatigue, but also that nature of those kind of conversations are so much more effective in person, you know, and but so yeah, and, and I also had a bunch of speaking engagements booked. Some media stuff booked, all that. my business dropped like 60% in revenue, forecasted revenue, like literally within weeks of the lockdown, you know? And so I, I'm one, trying to re acclimatize myself legitimately, you know, not metaphorically, like, legitimately, I mean, the weather sucked. But also just trying to get back into my connected communities. And that was also gone. So I, I really, my mental health suffered a lot during the initial first six months of pandemic. I, I also had some really bad health complications. I have a chronic autoimmune condition and I had a couple events where it just, my immune system was triggered and, and I got really sick and at one point even hospitalized. So and that in itself was a weird experience. 'cause you can't have any family there. They put you in and and it's just like, it was just a i, I feel people. Yeah. And luckily I was only there for a few days. I was man, what about people that have to be here? Like, hard is

Stephanie: Well, what a scary time to be in the hospital too, you just thought you were gonna actually get sick in the hospital. Right. It was, it was a very scary time.

Dai: it really was. I mean that, yeah, those first, I'd say six to eight months, you know, it was, it was, everybody was like, big question marks. What's going on? Right. I remember they still had the daily tally, the death toll. And I'm just like, I still believe, I'm like, why? I mean, do we have to be so mindful of how many people keep dying? Like it, that was the big number every day. Oh, it's gone up more. You know, like talk about fearmongering, right? But anyways yeah, so it was challenging. It was challenging, but, but come that summer, you know, of 2020 things started to lax a bit 'cause the weather's here is better. So we were going outside a lot more. Started connecting with communities, really. I put a lot of emphasis on my mental health first. And it was interesting because that next 12 months I set in motion. I was like, you know, my 44th birthday is coming. Like I turned 43, 44 is a year away. Before I'm 44, could I be the fittest and healthiest I've ever been in my life? That was sort of the question that I asked myself, is that possible? And I was like, well, why not? You know, like I'm already pretty healthy, but I mean, what does it mean to be a healthier version of who I am now? And I knew I had to prioritize mental health for that to be true. And so I put in a lot of mental health practices that really helped me a lot, especially during that second half of the pandemic. But also I noticed as my mental health got more and more solid, you know and rooted in this healthier space, my physical fitness went through the roof. Like certain body fat that I was holding onto, especially around the midsection, which I know was tied to cortisol and my cortisol levels very high and weren't regulating. I was dealing with a lot of chronic stress. So anybody that's listening to this, have you got that little bit of a. Certain fatty areas that just doesn't seem to ever go away, no matter what you do, go get your cortisol checked out. All right? get it checked out. Trust me, you might be, your adrenal glands are a little outta whack too. And you might be on the verge of burnout or something, or you might be already be burned out, but you gotta deal with that. And once you deal with that, it's amazing how things just unlock. And I ended that year and I've been able to maintain it ever since. It's just, and, and I'm actually working. I didn't have to work at it that hard. And, and people still laugh at me, like, oh, whatever. You're probably in the gym every day, dah, dah, dah, and you're probably like, super diet. And I'm like, no, diet just means how you fuel yourself. It, it has nothing to do with weight loss, you know? And I don't eat to lose weight. I eat to thrive. And so I actually, I work out less now. I eat more food than I ever did, but I'm actually the fittest I've ever been. And I'm almost 47 now, so I'm like, I keep pushing myself. I'm like, so when I hit 50, I'm like, I wanna be the fittest I've ever been at 50. Like, why not? Right? And so yeah, that, that was some goods that came outta the pandemic, you know, that was some good for, for me personally

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. I'm curious, when you say you put mental health practices in place, can you gimme an example or two of that worked for you?

Dai: absolutely. One thing for me was not worrying about quantifying what I was doing. So what I mean by that is we, we hear a lot of numbers constantly thrown around at us, you know, especially around health and fitness. Like, I mean, we can't help it. It's like, you know, we talk about height, we talk about waist, right? We talk about body weight. Talk about how fast you can do something or how much can you move? Like we we're very good at quantifying. But why not qualify it? Like, why not talk about what is this actually doing for us? You know, and, and why are we even doing it? Like, what's the motivation? And, and so I started looking at that, but specifically around mental health and this, this chronic stress, I was, I was dealing with, you know, we all are, and I mean, the World Health Organization a number of years ago said, it's actually the pandemic of our generation, this chronic stress. And it's chronic, unchecked stress, you know, because most of these lifestyle conditions or symptoms we're seeing people come down with are, they are lifestyle based, right? Like, it's just, they're preventable, you know, with the right measures. And so getting out for a walk every morning,

Stephanie: mm-Hmm.

Dai: and especially in, in the winter in Vancouver, people will know what I'm talking about. The sun doesn't come out a lot. Okay?

Stephanie: Here in New England.

Dai: okay, so I, I vitamin D three, I started super dosing with 8,000 IUs a day. And and that might seem like a lot, but for my body weight, size and activity level, it made sense and it worked really well giving that sort of little bit of a boost. 'Cause vitamin D three, just so people are aware, it's actually a hormone. It's not a vitamin, even though it's called vitamin D three, it's actually a hormone. And it's that happiness hormone. You know, our bodies can't produce it naturally, so we have to get it through supplementation, but we can also get it from the sun, right? And, but if you're not getting a lot of sun, we hear about sad seasonal effectiveness disorder, right? And so getting up for a walk and if it was a sunny day especially, I would take 20 to 30 minutes. Again, I didn't really time it, I just sort of sit there. 'cause I'd always be listening to an audio book or a good podcast like yours. Okay? Like, you know, like feeding my mind with something positive while doing something physically good for myself that, that shifted, that mental state. And and then sitting when I could in the sun for, for, you know, maybe a podcast episode or a chapter in an audio book. Those little things to start my day. Almost within few days started to see a mood shift in me. Now if I want to quantify this to validate it for those that are sort of the science motivated people and, and want the data to, validate why we do certain things I'm a big fan of tracking what's called heart rate variability. So HRV. And my HRV was chronically low at that point in time. Within a few weeks I got my HRV up a significant amount. And, and that translates into everything, how you're regulating stress. Also how you know, how your sleep is handling. Even body recovery and repair even just how your skin looks. You know, like HRV is sort of that window into the nervous system. And that was where I saw the validation for the actions I was taking. I actually saw that numerical improvement, but I didn't really need the number to validate 'cause I was feeling better,

Stephanie: Right, right, right.

Dai: you know? And,

Stephanie: number was just frosting. Yeah.

Dai: it. Well, and and it just, again, I'm sort of a data guy that way. 'cause this is the space I've been in for 30 years well. So I'm really interested in this stuff. but also I knew if I documented everything, there'd be an opportunity to support others with similar things. and so I did, I documented it all, you know, and I created this, what I call my Merge 60 protocol, you know, and happy to share it. Anybody wants to just message me. I've, I've done a couple posts about it on, on LinkedIn and Facebook and all that. It's, it's out there. I just, I don't wanna exactly go through all the things to do, but I give you a basic outline and it's, it's not very time intensive, but you do have to have the intentionality to follow through. You know, and, and making those little promises to ourselves and keeping them. I encourage people take 2% of every 24 hours and make it non-negotiable. And I know there's people, you're probably even doing the math right now, so you're

Stephanie: not, I'm very bad at

Dai: oh me too,

Stephanie: me.

Dai: 30 minutes. 30 minutes is only, is 2% of every 24 hours is 30 minutes. And so I invite people to be non, you know, never negotiate on that 30 minutes daily. Make it your primary self-care time. Like, just, just time for you to focus on you, mentally, emotionally, physically, you know, really focus on those elements to improve and, and just do some basic activities for yourself, you know, to show yourself some self-love, but also to see the health improvement. Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and I call it the 2% solution, right? And again, it's the copywriter in me, but regardless I invite people to just try that. And if they're interested, they can always pick up my book. I go through the whole thing. But as I say, my publisher doesn't like this, but I give away everything for free on my website. But like she, she really doesn't like. But I'm like, I, I don't like dollars and cents to get in the way from people having access to being healthier. You know? Like, I, I really don't. 'cause I think back when I was 15 and I wish I had an internet back then,

Stephanie: right.

Dai: you know, I think my journey would've been very different. And also, if I could've gone around more people that were going through similar journey as I was at 15.

Stephanie: Right.

Dai: I, I think I would've navigated things differently, but also that internal work, which I never did, I think I would've done if I had better mentorship and leadership and, and just better examples modeling certain habits for me. so That's a big part of why I do what I do now. You know, if anyone looks at me on social, I never tell you what to do, but I'll tell you what I'm doing.

Stephanie: Right,

Dai: And I'll show you what I'm doing. You know, and my invitation, and I always think about that, is I'm gonna show, I'm not gonna tell, I sort of took that from acting back in the day as well, right? Is this idea of just, I'm gonna try to lead it by example. You know, and, and also it, it holds myself to a different standard when I do that. that's been part of that shift coming into my forties, you know, is, is this intentionality on how I just live my life now. It's not easy though. I have to admit that there's days where I, I'd rather stay in bed. You know, I still have some mental health challenges, you know, I still deal with a bit of depression, still have social anxiety, even though I, I work as a keynoter a lot of the year. My heart rate jumps about 10, 15 beats a minute before I get on stage. My hands are sweating, you know, like, and it doesn't matter. It could be a group three people or it could be 300 people, and I'm still gonna have the same physical reaction, but I've learned how to channel that into something positive, you know? yeah.

Stephanie: Wow.

Dai: Yeah. All sorts of stuff, huh?

Stephanie: Oh my goodness. This is this is so cool. There are moments like, like this right now where I have to say, okay, Stephanie, don't ask another question, because we could be here for hours. I

Dai: We would be

Stephanie: I feel like I could just talk to you for the rest of the day, but you have been very generous with your time and story and and, and I have so enjoyed meeting and talking with you. So I just want to say thank you so much

Dai: Oh,

Stephanie: joining me.

Dai: Well thank you. And Stephanie, before, you know, we stop on the record. I just wanna say this to everyone that's watching or listening to this. It's like, Stephanie, I want to thank you, you know, specifically for creating a platform where you can capture these conversations and all of us get to be little flies on the wall. Right? That, and listen in on these. 'cause that's how we learn. I mean, all of us, the best way to learn is through mentorship and modeling.

Stephanie: right.

Dai: You're providing a vehicle that gives us both, you know? So, I I just wanna say thank you because I know it a lot of energy, time, resources, and a lot of energy goes into doing this. And and I know there's probably a lot of sleepless nights and thank thankless days, you know, but I just want you to know we appreciate you. Thank you.

Stephanie: Dai, you so much.

Dai: Yeah. Awesome.

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