"You can’t both be grateful and anxious at the same time so if you want to keep a positive mindset, just remember the amazing things you’re blessed with in life."
As a full-time health scientist, PhD student, duathlete and wellness influencer, Kayla Osterhoff (Biocurious Kayla) is a master in time management. Her days are typically packed with an endless to-do list but Kayla emphasizes the importance of taking time for self-care to help manage stress and burn-out. Kayla is also a seasoned biohacker and hosts a podcast called BioCurious, where she explores ways one can upgrade their health and performance through biohacking. Through her work as a health scientist, Kayla has recognized there’s a need for each individual to take ownership of their health and wellness. She aims to empower others to optimize their health and live their best lives. Read on to find out how Kayla finds balance and incorporates wellness into her hectic schedule everyday.
How does your day get started?
Morning routines are really big for me but I keep it pretty simple to include what I find most impactful! This includes journalling with gratitude practice, which puts me into a positive state of mind for the rest of the day. I also incorporate some sort of meditation practice, which allows me to enter the day from a calm and balanced standpoint. When I can, I also like to exercise because it gives me energy for the rest of day. I always take my supplements in the morning, followed by coffee with fat in it for breakfast to support brain function and health.
What does wellness mean to you?
Wellness, to me, is always changing as I learn more and more. But it boils down to being in a state of ease and flow. What that means is a balance and connectedness between your mental, physical and spiritual self. Looking at wellness through a biohacking lens, it’s a delicate balance and dance between your environment both internally and externally, and your biological systems.
How do you incorporate wellness throughout the rest of your day?
As a super busy person, I can get caught up in my endless to-do list. For me, it’s all about taking short breaks to connect my mind, body and spirit throughout the day. This can be simply getting up and moving or taking deep breaths but it makes a big difference on my ability to focus on the next task.
At the end of the day, how do you complete your regimen?
I don’t always get to bed by 10PM, which is my goal, if I get caught up in work revolving around my PhD. When I do have the time, I like to take a few moments to wind down and do some meditative breathing practices. I'll revisit my journal, which includes my 3 big goals for the day. I think about whether I achieved my goals, what went well and what my big wins were for the day. These wins could be something simple like having an awesome conversation with someone or receiving a nice compliment. I also like to make sure, once it’s past 8PM, to start blocking blue-light from my screens by changing the settings on my devices and wearing blue-light blocking glasses.
Share with us a bit about how your wellness journey started:
I think it officially started in an intentional way when I was doing my undergrad in health ecology. I was studying to be a physical therapist at the time and I worked in a physical therapy office where I learned a lot of the first wellness practices and biohacks I still use today. I’m a competitive duathlete (running and biking) and when I first started running and working out, I realized I had better energy and mental capacity. Due to competing, I also had to change the way I ate because my nutrition had to be on point to perform physically. I started eating by the principles of the paleo diet and ketogenesis, which was my gateway to biohacking.
For our readers unfamiliar with biohacking, can you define it for us?
My definition that I’d like to use is controlling or changing your external and internal environments to have control over your biology for specific outcomes. Maybe a specific outcome could be better mental clarity so the biohack for that might be exercising before you work or drinking a cup of coffee.
When did you know you had a message you wanted to share?
I’m realizing through the work I do as a health scientist, problems also come from an individual level. There’s a need for each individual to take ownership of their health and wellness. I started my Instagram account back in July, 2018 because I was called to share these really impactful functional holistic health approaches that I was using personally. They’ve had such an impact in my life for the better, so it’s information that anyone could put to use. It’s just a matter of getting that information out to the public, so that’s where my motivation comes from.
How do you make time for balance and self care?
One really important thing in ensuring I make the time is that I always schedule everything. I literally schedule self-care in my agenda, just small blocks. Another thing is just doing it in bite-sizes. I plan 5 minutes between different tasks to stop, take a break, and maybe get some natural sunlight on my skin.
We all have stress, we're curious- what do you do to manage it, and how has your outlook on stress changed?
Over this past year or 2, with everything piling more on my plate, I did start getting overwhelmed and suffered from a leaky gut and adrenal fatigue. It was a wake-up call that I needed to manage my stress better and put stress management systems in place. Within my physical environment in my working space, I ensure I have things like plants, natural sunlight and essential oils (lavender is very calming!). As I’ve mentioned above, I prioritize small breaks for breathing, meditation, and to move my body. All those things combined really help to manage my stress. I also take adrenal supplements that have adaptogens to help, and the meditative practice I do in the mornings and evenings are valuable too.
What is the first thing you pick up at the grocery store?
I always go to the produce section for organic vegetables. Organic vegetables are probably the most important component of our diet. I also will usually pick up some high quality fats, like olive oil, and grass-fed or wild-caught protein.
How do you define innovation?
Innovation is kind of funny because a lot of ideas we call new ideas are not actually new. We’re always recycling old ideas. I don’t believe in re-inventing the wheel - I believe in making the wheel better. To me, innovation is coming up with a better or more efficient way to solve a problem.
What are your favourite skincare tricks & products?
My skincare tricks are not products but what’s been most impactful for me in vibrant-looking skin is managing stress and ensuring I have nutritious meals while cutting out sugar and processed foods.
What are your favourite wellness trends?
My favourite wellness trend is mindfulness, which is really coming to the forefront of wellness. I find that it's so important and I’m excited for it as it gains popularity!
And your least favourites?
My least favourite would be fad diets. I dislike the word diet because it sounds temporary and sets you up for failure. It’s more about nutritional lifestyles and ways of eating rather than diets.
Do you have any advice for our audience on how to stay positive, and maintain a good outlook?
Number one is gratitude! You can’t both be grateful and anxious at the same time so if you want to keep a positive mindset, just remember the amazing things you’re blessed with in life. No matter how big or small - maybe it’s that you have a cat, a car to take you places, a roof over your head, or something huge like a promotion, just remember those things that help you to exist in a positive way.
What advice do you have for someone who's ready to start sharing their message on wellness and health?
Just do it! Go for it and don’t wait to have the perfect timing because someone out there needs your message right now. Just put it out there, and don't be fearful.
Thank you Kayla for taking time out of her busy schedule to chat with us! We're excited to see what she has next in store! To learn more about her, find her on Instagram @biocurious_kayla or check out her podcast here.