Transcript EP 315 – The #1 Reason Why Your Body and Business is Failing with Maja Miller
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Dr. Taz: Welcome back, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Super Woman Wellness, where I’m determined to bring you guys back to your superpower self. I always get to have such interesting and amazing guests on this show, and honestly, I learn something every time too, and I have the feeling that’s going to be the case today. Joining me today is Maja Miller. She’s a metabolic health coach and a functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner. It’s a fancy way of saying she uses clinical labs to analyze food, blood, urine, stool, hair, all that good stuff to find out why many of you, and I know we have a lot of super women here, are burnt out, exhausted and just having trouble sometimes getting through the day. As the owner of Maja Miller Wellness, a six-figure business, she helps highly productive individuals and ambitious professionals transform their bodies from the inside out to her signature programs like the Adrenal Detox, the Inside Out Protocol, and Next Level. Welcome to the show, Maja. We are thrilled to have you here.
Maja Miller: Hi. I’m so excited to be here. Thanks for having me.
Dr. Taz: Of course. And the show, as you probably know, is called Super Woman Wellness, and it’s a little tongue in cheek, because I always joke that I haven’t met a woman that’s not a super woman. I feel like every woman I meet is juggling at least 20 different things and caring for an entire village. And so we have a tendency to get burned out, and then we neglect ourselves and it’s really hard to find the way back. So we titled this episode Why Your Body and Your Business Might be Failing You. What is your experience working… And I think I saw something on here, you worked with over 10,000 clients. What is one of the number one reasons why our body and our businesses start to go haywire?
Maja Miller: Well, I always say that the reason your business is failing is because you’re failing your body. And so, you have one vessel that’s given to you in this life, and it’s what you sail through life with. And we’re on this journey, and when you don’t take care of your body, everything else is impossible. So whether you’re trying to be a great mom, whether or not you’re trying to be a great business person, whether or not you are trying to really step it up in nonprofit charity work, nothing works if your body doesn’t work. So I always say that oftentimes your business or your relationship or your, insert whatever here, is failing because you are failing your body. And I know that initially it logically makes sense where we turn ourselves inside out as women for the people that we love and care about the most, which is typically our families, our partners, our employees, oftentimes our employer, and we really want to go above and beyond.
And so what we do is, we turn ourselves inside out, and that works for a little bit of time, but eventually it just doesn’t work that way. You can’t pour from an empty cup. And so that’s the connection that I make for my clients who are multifaceted, busy entrepreneurs, or I call them entrepreneurs where they’re working in somebody else’s business, but they have kind of the same skillset and vibe of an entrepreneur where you’re just trying to do your best. So that’s the connection that I like to make between your business, your body, your relationships.
Dr. Taz: I love that. I always talk about how it’s really our chemistry that leads our life choices and our life decisions and how we see the world, and so many other perspectives there. So I love that. What are some of your clients coming to you complaining about? What are some of their top concerns or frustrations?
Maja Miller: So they have gotten to a point where they can’t do it on their own. They need help. There’s oftentimes neurological symptoms, brain fog, anxiety, depression, alternating between constipation and IBS, low or no libido, or they just don’t want to have sex with their partners anymore, and a lot of times there’s a lot of skin issues that are happening. So eczema, psoriasis, autoimmune disease, which doctors will tell you, you can’t do anything about, and it’s just genetics luck of the draw, which is not true. And so it’s to the point where they are trying to make it to Friday, it would need all day Saturday, all day Sunday to recover. They aren’t able to play big in life anymore the way that they have been able to do for sometimes five, 10, 15, 20 years.
And I’m now finding that the inflection point at which they’re really struggling is younger and younger. It used to be women in their 50s, then it’s women in their 40s, now it’s women in their 30s and 20s. And so that inflection point at which they’re kind of throwing their hand up in the air and saying, “I need help.” Is becoming earlier and earlier. So-
Dr. Taz: Why do you think that is? Why is it shifting downwards? Because I usually think it’s happening because you had kids, you had aging parents, you had all this other stuff to the mix, but why is it happening to women in their 20s and women in their 30s as well?
Maja Miller: These symptoms are a manifestation of what I like to call metabolic chaos. So we all have a metabolism, it’s unique. So your metabolism is as unique as your fingerprint, and stress, very broadly speaking, once there’s a stress cascade, so if there’s stress in one area of your life, if it’s not resolved, it cascades and gets bigger and bigger, and that oftentimes leads to disease and dysfunction. And stress, I think a lot of people have a very limited definition of stress, and oftentimes they think of emotional stress. Well, there are actually three kinds of stress. There’s physical stress. Physical stress might be something like childbirth, it may be a car accident, if you were… In my case, I was a division one athlete, so a lot of exercising, that’s a physical stressor, carpal tunnel, those kinds of things.
Well, then there’s this very large category called biochemical stressors. And I’ll run through this list, and you can think in your head and maybe your listeners can kind of say, “Oh yep, I’ve got this one, I’ve got this one.” But it’s anything from lack of sleep, poor sleep, alcohol, caffeine, over the counter drugs, antibiotic use, exposure to pesticides, insecticides, glyphosate, and inflammatory foods. I mean, now all of a sudden there are all these environmental things that I don’t think we realize impact our autonomic nervous system the exact same way that a saber-toothed tiger chasing us, kind of turning on that fight or flight system. So you’ve got all these biochemical stressors, and I believe that our environment is significantly more toxic today than the personal hair care products, the personal products that have all sorts of toxins, heavy metals in them.
So you’ve got that big category, biochemical stressors, and then you’ve got emotional stressors. Your partner was a jerk, you had a stressful day at work. Those all combined, I believe that the pool of stressors is significantly larger at an earlier stage, and then women give birth to children. So because our toxic load is higher, earlier, birth is a detoxification event for women, which means that a lot of these toxins go straight to our children. So now the next generation is starting off with a higher toxic load. I believe a lot of this stuff is environmental. So I you-
Dr. Taz: I do too. Yeah.
Maja Miller: If you talk to your friends, it’s like everybody has a peanut allergy, everybody has asthma, all these kids have psoriasis and eczema. And so it’s like, “Okay, well what’s going on?” Genetics do not move that quickly. It takes millions of years for genes to evolve. However, your environment flips genes off and on very easily. So that’s kind of what I think is happening. There’s a correlation between stress and metabolic chaos. We have a lot more of it at a younger age, and that’s what’s impacting that inflection point that I was talking about.
Dr. Taz: I couldn’t agree with you more. I mean, this is something we see in practice. And it was interesting, because I also see the age shifting downwards. And I’ve been in practice in the integrative space for over 14 years now, and it is interesting. Sometimes I’ll find myself being like, “Am I just more aware of this stuff? Or is it really more and more 20-year-olds are dealing with X, Y, and Z, or 30-year-olds are dealing with whatever?” And I do think it is the cumulative load of stress. I really do. And it’s interesting that you bring up the environmental component to it, because many people aren’t talking about what a big toll that’s taking on our livers cumulatively, and how that in turn determines metabolic health, determines hormonal health and so much more.
So I do think it’s the next frontier of medicine, and I do think unfortunately conventional medicine’s a little bit behind in that we’re not aggressively screening for it, checking for it, asking our patients about it, really truly making it a part of the process of their health, because it’s such a very real risk today. Is this what you think is happening with metabolism in general? I know you talk about yourself as a metabolic health coach, would you say that’s kind of what’s happening with metabolism?
Maja Miller: Yeah, I mean, the reality is that you’re… Caroline Myss wrote a book called Anatomy of the Spirit, which is amazing and great-
Dr. Taz: Yep. I read that book. I love that book.
Maja Miller: And she says that your biography becomes your biology. So all the decisions that you’re making… And they’re these tiny little decisions like, when do I go to bed, what am I eating, am I chugging coffee first thing in the morning before getting some good, healthy protein, fats and carbs. And all of these tiny little decisions that accumulate over the course of your lifetime, they impact your metabolism. So I think a lot of this stuff is metabolic. Well, I know. I know this stuff is metabolic. I also know that it’s environmental. And I think especially with women, there is this… It’s almost cool to say how busy you are, how stressed out you are. You ask a girlfriend to lunch, and it’s like, okay, you’re looking at two, three months down the road. I mean, how annoying is it when we get on a text string with just a handful of girlfriends, and we’re trying to find one day for lunch or for dinner?
We pack our days. So a lot of this is also cultural. So I think there’s so many things. You bring up the allopathic medical model, which unfortunately is a sick care model, it’s not a healthcare model. I have a client who is borderline pre-diabetic, A1C, all the numbers are off, and I wanted to do continuous blood sugar monitoring with her for just a couple of weeks, her insurance wouldn’t cover the little thing].
Dr. Taz: Right. The monitor.
Maja Miller: … your arm. Yeah. I sent her one of mine. I’m like, this is insane. She has clear blood sugar dysregulation. I am not a medical doctor, and I can see that this is the case. And so I think that there’s so many things that are working against us, and unfortunately it’s difficult to make these changes. They’re often expensive, because you have to go out of pocket. But you know what’s also expensive? Is chemo and cancer and-
Dr. Taz: Yeah. Or losing a relationship, or losing a job, all of it.
Maja Miller: Losing custody of your kids.
So you’re going to pay one way or another, and it’s just… Are you going to front load the cost? Are you going to back load the cost?
Dr. Taz: Right. So true. That’s such a great point. It’s interesting that you bring up physical stress because it’s one other thought. I have teenagers, and I don’t know if you have children or not, but the pressure on children to perform athletically, physically is crazy. And some of the parents that have been really gone ho about, oh my gosh, we play three sports every season and we’re constantly on the road and in tournaments and practices. I mean, you’re a former athlete, I think. But what I’m seeing the fallout from all of that is that these young kid athletes are breaking down as they hit high school or college or somewhere in their 20s. And we’re dealing with fractures, injuries, adrenal issues, gut issues, hormone issues. And so again, that’s another cultural thing that other cultures don’t place as much emphasis on, quite honestly. We were at dinner with somebody, and they’re Syrian, I think, and they’re the counselors. Yeah, you really got to focus on sports. And we’re like, sports are for fun. When did this become a competitive thing that everyone’s going to get a college scholarship for? So it’s interesting how the culture has shifted to more and more and more stress on younger and younger and younger children.
Maja Miller: 100%. And if you take a look at, I mean, I’m a former division one athlete, elite athlete, performing at elite levels. And I didn’t specialize until I got into high school. And we understand that when you specialize versus diversify, I ran track one season, and then one season I would do swimming or diving, or one season I would do… And I didn’t specialize until high school. And now we see these young athletes breaking down from injuries that are typically professional career ending injuries, and we’re seeing them in middle school and high school, and that doesn’t do our young athletes or our kids any favors. So yes, physical stress is a big deal and all of the other things, it’s just this almost soup we are marinating in. It’s just becoming more and more toxic. And that toxicity can be cultural as well. So sometimes more is not more right. It’s definitely-
Dr. Taz: Yeah. I don’t know what it’ll take to shift it. Because I’ll be 100% honest, I think I was in that whirlwind and it’s taken a few years in maturity honestly, to be like, “Wait, what are we doing? What are the kids doing?” Time is just going by and we’re not enjoying and savoring it. We’re just running from that activity to activity and task to task and goal to goal, and certainly not a way to live. But more importantly, the undercurrent of stress that it creates for the family unit and that impacts the entire unit’s health and shows up in a metabolic way to me is disturbing and fascinating at the same time.
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Now would you say knowing where we have landed, knowing where we all are, how do we turn this around? Is nutrition the first step? Is that where kind of functional nutrition comes into the picture?
Maja Miller: I used to think it was nutrition, and I believe… The first thing that I do with my clients is teach them about their HPA access. So the hypothalamus, the pituitary, the adrenals. Some of your readers or and listeners might have heard this as adrenal fatigue. We don’t use that term as clinicians, but we’re talking about the same thing here. I don’t want to split hairs. And a lot of people do not have a very good understanding of what is happening biologically. So back in the day, we were hunters and gatherers, and occasionally there would be a saber-toothed tiger sighting or a bear sighting, and our fight or flight system would turn on. And I explain what happens in the short-term, right? Your sympathetic nervous system turns on fight or flight. Cortisol surges, it turns off long-term systems, because whether or not you can have a baby, whether or not you are removing cancerous cells, whether or not you are fixing damaged tissue, doesn’t matter if that saber-toothed tiger eats you.
You need to focus on short-term survival. So blood flow to big muscle movers, not digestion, not any of those things. But when that fight or flight system is turned on all the time and our bodies are not sophisticated enough to be able to tell the difference between a nasty social media message we just read or a news story that’s stressful or an email from your boss or one of a billion different stressors that we experience that we choose to experience on a day-to-day basis, the same thing is happening. And cortisol is a catabolic hormone. It breaks you down over the course long-term. Short-term it’s amazing. It makes us feel good. It’s actually sometimes why we are so stress driven because there were firing on all cylinders, and it feels good at the beginning of that HPA access dysregulation and that stressed phase.
You’re like, “Okay, this actually feels good.” But as you move into that tired and wired phase or a completely crashed or exhaustive phase, the things that were working in the past are no longer working. And you have to approach it very differently. So I start with, “Hey, there’s this system in your body. Here’s what turns it on. Here’s what happens in the short-term. Here’s what happens in the long term. Let’s try to figure out where you’re at right now.” And then I say these, I give them one thing to do every single week for the first four weeks. That’s very simple. They can execute it in sometimes 15 minutes, but usually less than an hour. And I try to make things very simple around reversing all of those stressors. But I think for me, I start with stress because oftentimes food and nutrition is just another stressor for my clients that are like, “Oh my God, now I have to do this massive pantry purge and go to the grocery store and do an eight-hour prep.” And now all of a sudden working with you is another stressor in their lives.
I tried to show them that this can be simple. You don’t have to make massive changes in your life. And typically, after change, number one for my clients is a high protein, low carb breakfast within usually an hour of waking up. And it’s like no coffee before that. This is the only thing that I give them a 15-minute breakfast hack. Within that first week, they’ve usually lost five pounds and their energy is off the charts. They have energy for the first time. This is before I even get any labs back for them.
Dr. Taz: So did you say this is before coffee? No coffee, and you go right into this breakfast or-
Maja Miller: No coffee. So a lot of my clients are doing coffee first thing in the morning. It is devastating for digestion, for all sorts of things.
And it’s like, “Okay, I’m not going to take your coffee away from you, but you have to eat first.” We’re looking for anywhere between 20 to 30 grams of protein. It’s not like an, I call them naked carbs where it’s like you’re having a muffin and it’s like, okay, that’s like spiking blood sugar and all sorts of other things. So it’s a very simple thing. But I start with education because then they understand the why behind the what. So that’s typically where I start, is education around stress. The autonomic nervous system, what happens when you’re resting and digesting, when you’re in fight or flight, and then giving them some very, very simple actionable items that they can slide right into their busy lives without much thought.
Dr. Taz: I like that. Those are all really, really great tips. And then if we take it past coffee and protein, what about tea, by the way, is do you feel like tea is as bad as coffee or-
Maja Miller: I feel that for some people, caffeine and coffee specifically is fine for some metabolic types. I am a metabolic type where I cannot have coffee. It’s like I might as well be doing hardcore drugs. So I’m not one of those people that says caffeine is awful for everybody. But when you have such a high level of metabolic chaos, coffee with caffeine on an empty stomach is devastating for your hormones. And a lot of people feel like they need that cup of coffee. And I don’t want to be taking something away from somebody before I give them something back. So for people that are very sensitive to caffeine, I find that tea is better than coffee, but I’m also allergic to cookie cutter programs, and I really believe in the concept of bioindividuality. And so we’re speaking in broad strokes here.
But you have to try to figure things out for yourself. But the general rule of thumb is we don’t put caffeine into our stomachs, into our systems until there are some good protein stats and a little bit of carbs is fine in the morning. And a lot of women that have HPA access dysfunction, they’re being told to go keto, which has no carbs whatsoever. And increased cortisol and low blood sugar, there’s this inverse relationship when it comes to your blood sugar drops, well, cortisol goes up. Well, carbohydrates or the macronutrient that helps elevate your blood sugar. And so same thing with intermittent fasting. It’s fine for some people, keto is fine for some people, but if you are having issues with your adrenals, the autonomic nervous system, it’s probably not great for you. So one of the things that I do with my clients is I give them more carbs at night than I do in the mornings because it helps them fall asleep and it helps them stay asleep. But most of my clients are stressed out professional moms that have HPA access issues. So it’s different for everybody. But yeah.
Dr. Taz: I mean, is there a woman right now who doesn’t have HPA access issues?
Maja Miller: I mean, I don’t. But I feel like it’s rare. I’ve worked for 15 years to fix all of this.
Dr. Taz: I just feel like the majority of women are walking around high cortisol, altered blood sugar, altered insulin.
Maja Miller: Not hungry until 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon.
Dr. Taz: Exactly. All of that. Yeah.
Maja Miller: All of these telltale signs, right?
Dr. Taz: Yeah, totally.
Maja Miller: You can’t fall asleep. They can fall asleep. They can’t stay asleep. They’re waking up between 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning, which is a classic blood sugar drop. So those are some of my tips and tricks, at least at the very beginning where you can mix. All my clients are like, “This is wild.” All I did was it took me 15 minutes to make your smoothie recipe, and I’m taking it on the go, right? And they’re like, “This is wild. I have energy, I have this.” You don’t have to make these big sweeping changes, especially not at the beginning.
Dr. Taz: Not at all. I mean, I’ll share one more story and then I do want to talk about your programs, but every time we go on vacation, I usually lose weight. And it’s always baffling to me because it’s like, “Okay, I’m eating more. I’m eating things I normally don’t eat. I let go of a lot of my restrictions and rules. What’s happening?” And I think I finally got that, simply lowering the stress, enjoying my meals, the slow eating that we do on vacation. I don’t need to have a fancy workout or a fancy diet plan. It’s literally just being consistent with those habits that takes care of everything. So it’s such a testament to all of us running around chickens and doing more when sometimes we just need to do less to get results.
Okay. You have some different ways of working with clients. They’re different metabolic types. They need customization and individualization. I believe in that as well. What have you structured to help folks understand what’s going on with them?
Maja Miller: So I used to do… And I still have these workshops. Workshops and group programs, and I just found that people need that one-on-one accountability. And I also am just allergic to cookie cutter programs. And so for me, I think having some information around what is happening in your metabolism is really important before a practitioner tells you how to change your diet or what supplements to take. So I am not a doctor. I do not diagnose, nor do I treat diseases specifically, but only about 5% to 10% of all diseases are genetic. And even those genetic diseases are those switches, those dirty genes are flipped on oftentimes environmentally. And so we now understand that 90% to 95% of all of our diseases are environmental. And if we can change our environment, then we can change that disease pathology and what’s going on in the body. And so, I now really only work one way with clients, which is I will run some baseline labs after doing a really deep medical history.
So really understanding, I give everybody a metabolic chaos scorecard. I give everybody an adrenal stress score as well, because as a functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner, a metabolic coach, I really have two jobs. One is to coach down stressors and the other is to coach up vital reserves. And we lower the stressors. We coach up vital reserves. We increase stressors, your vital reserve goes down, and your vital reserve is like your bank account. It’s where we can take a withdrawal when maybe we want to have some alcohol, or maybe we’re having a stressful week. If you have that vital reserve, then you’ve got some flexibility, some metabolic flexibility to be able to go off the rails for a short amount of time. And so in order for me to increase vital reserves, I need to understand what is going on with my clients.
So I’ll get to know them. Sometimes my autoimmune flag goes off. And so, one of the labs that I’ll run is called a Cyrex Array five, and it’s a predictive antibody test. I’m not saying you’re going to get an autoimmune disease, I’m just saying you’ve got antibodies that are off the charts. I’ll look at what’s happening with digestion. I will look at what’s happening. I’ll do some basic blood chemistry as well. I’ll do an organic acids test that looks at the metabolites for so many different things. I’ll do a hair mineral tissue analysis because you need minerals as cofactors for so many of the processes in the body. Minerals are kind of the spark plugs for your body. So I’ll get to know you. I’ll figure out what labs we should run to get just a baseline of what’s happening, because all of the things that are happening in your body are interconnected. And that’s another issue with non-functional medicine, which is like you’re going to an endocrinologist for this and heart for this and gastro for this. But all of those systems don’t work independently of one another. They work in conjunction with one another.
So I’ll run some labs, and then while we’re waiting on the results for the labs, I’m making lifestyle changes. Movement, sun exposure, sleep hygiene, basic nutrition. And then, once I get all of the labs back, I’m creating kind of tailored protocols that are with the intersection of what are your symptoms? What are your labs telling me? And then I’m able to create this custom protocol that does the right thing at the right time in the right order, which oftentimes is kind of the missing piece. You may be focusing on the right thing in the wrong order. You may be focusing on mineral rebalancing, but you’ve got leaky gut and gut permeability, and you can’t absorb the minerals I’m giving you. So it’s like we have to flip flop those things.
So that’s really over the last year, that’s the way that I’ve, I’ve kind of stopped doing everything else because at the end of the day, I’m seeing such insane success with this approach that I’d rather work with fewer people, go really deep and give them the accountability that they need. They need support. It’s these women that I’m working with predominantly. There’s nobody that takes care of them. They’re taking care of everybody else, but-
Dr. Taz: So true.
Maja Miller: … who’s helping you see the forest through the trees? So the inside out protocol is a next level kind of tailored labs. We’re meeting every two weeks, and I’m typically working with clients between eight to 15 months.
Dr. Taz: Oh, wow.
Maja Miller: Depending on how bad it is, I guess.
Dr. Taz: Yeah. That’s awesome. Well, so interesting because as a practitioner and a physician running a pretty busy practice, we hand everyone these personalized, customized treatment plans at Center Spring, but they have to then sign up with a coach or someone along those lines to make sure that they have that accountability to put everything in that plan into motion. And sometimes they can find that challenging. So I think it’s such a great resource when people can have a structured program that they got the information, they got their blueprint or their body map, so to speak, and moving forward, they just need someone to coach them through every step, because that definitely is a challenge, for sure.
Maja Miller: And you can put together the best plan, but if there’s problems with execution, then it doesn’t really matter.
Dr. Taz: Exactly. Totally. Well, I can talk about this all day long and we are unfortunately out of time, so I really appreciate you joining me today. If anyone listening-
Maja Miller: Thank you.
Dr. Taz: … or watching wants to connect with you, what’s the best way for them to do that?
Maja Miller: So I’m super easy to get a hold of. You can go to iopnextlevel.com and fill out just a couple of questions and just set up some time to talk to me. I think that everybody is unique, and their circumstances are unique, and so it allows just that freeform easy conversation where we can talk about what’s going on. How are you feeling? What are your challenges? Or you can just email me Maja with a J, M-A-J-A, majamiller.com. So yeah, pretty easy to get hold up.
Dr. Taz: Perfect. Wonderful. Thank you so much for taking time out today, and for everybody watching and listening to this episode of Super Woman Wellness. Don’t forget to rate and review it and share it with your friends. I will see you guys next time.