The Happy Engineer Podcast

054: Stop Destroying Your #1 Advantage to Career Success with Susan Birch

Do you know the most important function of your body, and why it’s incredibly important to your engineering career success?

Are you struggling with stress? Burnout?

What if your negative stress at work is actually caused by something completely different, and has nothing to do with your work at all?

In this episode, meet the Health Detective and World’s Best Self-Care Coach, Susan Birch. She holds a Masters Degree in Health Sciences, and Postgraduate Diplomas in Sports Medicine, Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, COP Musculoskeletal Medicine, and COP Community Nutrition from Otago University.

  • Susan has spent a lifetime challenging the mainstream dogma about exercise and nutrition.
  • She understands the challenges people face in finding accurate, science-based nutrition and health information.
  • But beyond her 40 years of experience changing lives through changing the body, the real reason you will be changed by this conversation is her courage.

Susan contracted meningococcal meningitis when she was two years old, which left her with seemingly insurmountable odds against academic success. She overcame those odds, and is one of the brightest minds in her field.

So press play and let’s chat… your body, and your life, depends on it!


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What a fun conversation with Susan Birch! 

Let’s talk first about a quick elephant in the room. Why do we keep coming back to health and nutrition on this show so often? 

Health and Nutrition = Energy

Every single career action that you are going to take demands energy. 

Every single strategy, every single tactic, every single thought that you think that takes you forward in your career and in your life demands energy. 

So if you are not taking care of your body and your health, then you’re missing out on every action that demands energy. 

1% improvement on anything is to be celebrated!

If you can improve your available energy to think, decide, act, and produce results in your career by 1% every day, that is not just a 365% improvement over a year. 

It’s way over that if you take into account the compounding, exponential growth that they produce.

It also makes your relationships, recreational activities and all the things that you love outside the office better too.

Again, if you don’t have the energy that you need to go get the results that you desire at work, then it won’t matter what strategy or what tactic we put in front of you. You are not going to get the results. 

A strong mind exists inside of a strong body. 

I want to challenge you to take that seriously, just as you would getting your bachelor’s degree or your master’s degree or your PhD in engineering. 

This is an area of life that I would encourage you to get a master’s degree in.

What Goal Achievement Comes Down to…

Susan touched on a really, really key thing and we didn’t have a lot of time to dig into it, but I want to go back to when we talked about making the goal a reality, how do we get ourselves to do what we know we should do?

How do we take our knowledge and consistently put it into action? 

I’d encourage you right now to think about your biggest goal in your career. Just bring that into your mind and then be honest, what’s holding you back from getting there? 

Why are you not making the progress that you want as fast as you want right now in your career? 

Well, I’m gonna call BS on any excuse. Any reason that you’re bringing to the table. I am calling total BS.

It’s your belief system. Your belief system doesn’t match the goal. 

If you feel stuck, if you have been spinning your wheels, if you are not feeling that sense of deep, and meaningful progress towards the goal towards the vision, then I call BS. It’s your belief system. 

What is it that you actually think and believe consciously or subconsciously every single day, because your belief systems are going to consistently dictate what you think, what you feel, how you act and therefore your results.

The truth is 95% or more of your mind is the subconscious. It’s following the same patterns and the same thoughts that you’ve been thinking every day, again and again and again.

And if we don’t change those belief systems, then we don’t consistently create new and bigger results. Check your belief system.  

What’s that resistance hidden somewhere inside of you.

Maybe you don’t believe that that goal is actually possible for you. Maybe you don’t actually believe that you’re capable or willing to put in the work that it takes to get there. Maybe you don’t feel smart enough. Maybe you don’t feel like you have a big enough network or you don’t know the right people. Maybe you believe that you don’t have enough money to invest in yourself into coaching or training or degrees that you’re gonna need.

Maybe your belief systems have not leveled up to match the next level goal.

Wrapping up

That was an amazing chat with Susan. I hope that you will take action towards increasing your energy levels. Manage your energy. Energy management is far more important than time management. Energy management is a huge differentiator in your life. Go get after it. 

I hope you enjoyed the conversation. I would love to support you in any way we can, we’ve got an upcoming Q&A episode.  If you want to send in a question about this conversation with Susan, I’d love to hear it directly. You can always email me [email protected]


Previous Episode 053: Grit and Failure – Being Tested Beyond Your Limits with Dana Sherrell




Life’s an adventure

Growing up in rural NZ fostered Susan’s passion for the outdoors, adventure and animals. She lives in the beautiful Eastern Bay and loves riding local mountain bike tracks, kayaking and lifting weights in her home gym. When she’s not immersed in nutrition research Susan is usually found hanging out with her grandkids or walking the hills with canine companions Monty and Vinnie.

Personal passion

Susan has been passionate about health for more than 40 years. She strives to help people lose weight and prioritise their health, so they can experience greater personal and professional success and live meaningful lives. Her healthy lifestyle and extensive knowledge means Susan is ideally placed to help other people learn good eating habits and how to look after themselves.

She began studying exercise and nutrition sciences out of personal interest in 1986. She quickly realized she had found her passion.

As she upgraded her own eating and exercise habits, she found her mental health improved and her weight stabilized. She had a lot more energy to cope with work, study, family and all her outdoor interests. She has a family history of type-2 diabetes, heart disease and the genes for Alzheimer’s Disease. She became passionate about learning how to use nutrition, exercise and lifestyle to mitigate these risks.

Changing the world

Susan then began sharing this knowledge with others and her clients began calling her the health detective. She focuses on finding the root cause of her client’s health problems and then working out solutions. “If we expect our body’s to last us for a lifetime, they deserve to be treated well. But first, we need to know what treating them well really means”.

In 2020 during the COVID outbreak Susan set up “A Healthy NZ” and began making videos about eating for good health to help others. This quickly progressed into YouTube interviews with nutritional scientists, doctors and researchers from all around the world. There are now over 150 videos available on the Susan Birch – The Health Detective channel, with more added each month.

Susan understands the challenges people face in finding accurate, science-based nutrition and health information. People also need support in believing they can make long-term changes. It’s not just knowing about food, it’s being able to take action and incorporate this knowledge into everyday life.

Susan has spent a lifetime challenging the mainstream dogma about exercise and nutrition. She is thrilled to see a growing movement of professionals speaking out against this narrative and offering better solutions for people. But there is still a lot of work to do.





Please note the full transcript is 90-95% accuracy. Reference the podcast audio to confirm exact quotations.

[00:00:00] Zach White: Susan. It is so great to be with you. Thanks for joining me today on The Happy Engineer Podcast. 

[00:00:06] Susan Birch:  thanks so much for having me, Zach, I’ve been looking forward to this.

Expand to Read Full Transcript

[00:00:09]  Zach White: Me too, me too, Susan, you and I had the privilege of getting connected through an absolutely brilliant mastermind, the world’s best mastermind.

[00:00:20] And for those who’ve been following The Happy Engineer Podcast, they may recognize Leban ditch burn, who did an episode with me not long ago. Who’s the world’s best courage coach and Susan joins us today as the world. Best self care coach. And I love that Susan, you have such a heart for health and nutrition and how that is a foundation for our life.

[00:00:43] So I wanna get into all of your expertise and how much you have to offer for us. I mean, this is such an important domain, but before we go into the meat of now and this part of your life, I think it’s really important to back up a bit. Maybe begin at the beginning, if you will. Right. Tell us a little bit about your story growing up and how that led your path towards falling in love with the importance of health and nutrition.

[00:01:12] Uh, just take us back to the beginning, Susan. 

[00:01:15] Susan Birch: Well, I grew up in rural New Zealand, and rather a large family and. I contracted meningococcal meningitis when I was about two years old. And that left me with quite a few struggles in terms of learning. I knew inside that my brain was smart, but I really struggled to express myself.

[00:01:38] Susan Birch: I still struggle pronouncing words. So sometimes I’ll pause and have to think about a different word that I can use. And so I wasn’t a good student at school. I was probably a parent’s worst nightmare as a teenager. And I got into a bit of trouble, got into the wrong crowd and had a few rather disastrous things happen that framed a lot of how I felt about myself and how I viewed 

[00:02:06] myself. Sure. Susan is really quick. Can you tell me, I think about like the earliest memories I have, maybe I was four or five years old. Maybe certainly by six, I have some memories, but what’s for you with that experience, like what are the earliest memories you have and what that was like to.

[00:02:24] know that you had this disease that was inhibiting your mind. Like, what do you remember from those early, early years? 

[00:02:30] I remember my dad was. Very interested in debating. So my parents didn’t come from a background of a lot of education, but they were very smart. And my dad did a lot of reading and they followed politics.

[00:02:46] And every night at the dinner table, He would instigate debates from when we were very tiny and get us talking about things and he would always swap sides. So one night he’d be on one side and the next side he’d be on the other side, you know, just really challenging our thinking and our thought processes.

[00:03:04] And my brothers and sisters were all very smart. My brother, who’s a year younger than me. Incredibly articulate and very, very bright. I remember feeling ridiculed and humiliated because I couldn’t keep up. With the conversations. And I can remember the frustration inside of me and my brain wanting to be able to answer, but I just couldn’t find the words and I couldn’t string the sentences together.

[00:03:33] And my way of learning is quite different. I have to really understand something. I can’t read something and remember it, I have to draw my maps and, just really thoroughly understand the mechanism. So that was one of the early memories and the feeling of humiliation and frustration that came with 

[00:03:54] that.

[00:03:54] Yeah, the, uh, I mean, first of all, Susan, I just my heart gets tugged even here. And you describe that. How did your siblings interact with you and respond? To the fact that this was a really different situation for you than what they were experiencing growing up. 

[00:04:12] It wasn’t talked about. I only found out, you know, I only knew what happened, following conversations with mum, because I’d say, why am I so dumb?

[00:04:22] Why is everyone else so clever? and then she said to me, look, you’re a very bright, articulate little girl until you got sick and you didn’t start talking again until you were nearly four. so it wasn’t talked about in the family, but I do remember.

[00:04:38] lying in bed one night, hearing my parents talk about, oh, what’s Susan gonna do? how’s she gonna get on in life? their solution to that was to teach me to be a really good housewife so I was able to, by the time I was eight and nine, I could look after the family with my five siblings and my, my young brothers, who were babies we had a cold range and we only had. Generator power for the village. So we didn’t have power all the time. And, didn’t have a lot of money. So mum and dad would go out at night and shoot possums and mum would prepare the skins and sell them for extra income. And I’d be left at home with all the kids and the babies.

[00:05:20] And I’d have to heat the bottle on the cold range and, get up and change the baby in the middle of the night. Wow. So I was eight and nine and 10 years old. And I was really good at it, And it served me well with my own children. That’s for sure. But it did leave me feeling, what could I do?

[00:05:39] I was a very angry teenager and very rebellious. Mm-hmm , 

[00:05:44] I really appreciate you sharing the story it really does paint such a powerful picture for what you’ve overcome to be as tremendous in the work that you do today. And we’re gonna get into that. I mean, your credentials in bio, we read the beginning of this episode and like Susan, you’re a total rockstar and most people would never guess, That was the kind of adversity that she faced growing up.

[00:06:08] And for many of us, myself included like born in Indianapolis, Indiana, you and the city, the life that I experienced in terms of all those things, just completely different. And so you know, as you move through those teenage years and on, like, when did things start to turn for you away from simply like, Hey, your path through life is gonna be through, get married and take care of a family to starting.

[00:06:33] Breakthrough in this area of education and, developing the skills that you have now. Well, 

[00:06:38] I started learning to read and write. When I went to work, I had, I had an office job of all things, and my boss was pretty. it was a grumpy old co, but , he was pretty, he was pretty amazing. And he, he never used to say much, but he turned up one day with this little pocket size dictionary and he hand it to me and he said, you’re a smart girl.

[00:07:05] Use the bloody thing. 

[00:07:09] oh my goodness. Wow. What, what a great mentor . 

[00:07:14] Yeah. And that was the first time I remember anybody telling me that I was smart, And so I carried that dictionary around for years and years and it had etic spelling and I just would open a page and learn a word. And I did that for years.

[00:07:33] And so slowly, my. Ability to pronounce the words improved and then my ability to read improved. And then as you start reading, then your ability to put sentences together improved. So that was a really good start. And then I had a bit of a tumultuous, time as a, young lady going out into the world.

[00:07:58] and that left me fairly scarred, I think. And a lot of body image problems and a lot of self disgusted and hatred. but then I met my husband and married him and he’s a really nice guy, but him and his mates all smoked a lot of dope and did a lot of drinking. And I actually didn’t do that because I knew.

[00:08:19] from my earlier experiences that I couldn’t go down that path and I couldn’t tolerate alcohol. So I didn’t really get into that, but it was a good cruisey sort of like laid back. Nobody had any dreams or ambitions very much. And then we started a family and it was when I was holding that first baby in my arms.

[00:08:40] Mm. And I was like, I want more for my life. Yes than this. I want more for my children than this. And although my early life was challenging, it was probably fairly reflective of the time. That I grew up in and the environment that I grew up in. it can sound quite horrendous, but, you know, there were really good things as well.

[00:09:04] And my parents really believed in education and they had very good moral standards and dad really believed in self responsibility and that, that was taught to us at a young age and you know, him and I built a boat in the she a great big, heavy, old. One good thing. But anyway, we built that and that was a time when, you know, we had lots of conversations, kind of philosophical conversations about you know, we get out of it, what we put into it.

[00:09:36] So I did have that good basis behind me. And so, you know, when I had started having my family, I was like, okay, I’ve got to. Do something mm-hmm, had this feeling inside of me, which is still inside of me that, I can change the world with that feeling. Yeah. I just need a plan to do it.

[00:09:58] Mm Susan, if you go back to holding your first child and that flame ignited for the first time, was there anything. In particular that came into your picture of what that meant to have more from life. Was there, you know, something that you really wanted, you know, to live in a, a nicer home or to live in a certain place or what was it, can you describe it all for us?

[00:10:26] What was in your vision at that time? It was very 

[00:10:29] vague. I was very vague and I. I helped support the family. I, looked cows. I was an AB technician, which means you artificially inseminate, cows, get them pregnant. Um,docking. I did farm work and I really enjoyed it. I’m like real outdoor girl and I really loved the animals and I really enjoyed it.

[00:10:51] I didn’t really know what. I wanted to do so I set my school C in university entrance and. got those. And then I enrolled, extramurally in one of our universities and I just did some random papers. I, I studied art history. I did sociology. I studied some education papers. I did some philosophy papers and it was one.

[00:11:17] I had my third child that a little brochure came round in the letter box about, a course in. Exercise and nutrition. And I was interested in health. I had been

[00:11:33] up until I had, the kids and I got over that, but I was still very conscious. I was still very conscious. I was still had real serious body image issues and this kind of self. Hatred about, you know, about my body. so I was interested in health and nutrition. So I, so I was milking cows and doing AB and I went off to the Polytech, which was about an hour and a half or hour and a quarter away.

[00:12:02] said I can’t study full-time but can I Do this course part-time so they said yes. And then I absolutely just fell in love with it, like physiology. I was just like, oh my, I found my world and it was about being well not being sick. Okay. I have this. Sickness. And I don’t really like sickness, but I loved how our body worked so hard to keep us well.

[00:12:25] so then I said to them, well, if I can pass the exam even though I don’t go to class for the other papers, can I have the certificate at the end of the year? And they said, well, you’ll never be able to do that. And I said, well, if I can, then I have the certificate. So they said, yeah. Okay.

[00:12:42] So I did that 

[00:12:43] and I. Amazing. Let me jump in. This is such a great story. I wanna hear more. I wanna come back to what you described is such a common experience that I hear from engineering leaders all the time. Susan and I have the same story. Maybe not everybody’s heard this, but in 2009 for me, I had a, a new friend who’s now my best friend and business partner in my private equity investing his name’s Dave and Dave was an entrepreneur, a serial entrepreneur, just involved in all kinds of businesses.

[00:13:15] And I was. W two engineering leader, you know, working the nine to five, or if we joke eight to eight, whatever it actually is. And I, met with Dave, we were hanging out and he ended up giving me a couple of books. One of which was rich dad, poor, dead, which has changed a lot of people’s lives. And whether you like Robert Koosa or not, doesn’t matter, but just for me, that was one of those catalyst moments where I felt.

[00:13:36] Something ignite in myself than man. I want more out of life than simply working a job and a, at a safe, secure company my whole life. And, started my first business as a side hustle at that time and built my career. And I think it’s common. Where we feel the fire, but it’s an unclear direction.

[00:13:56] The vision is still fuzzy. It’s feel vague. Like the desire is burning, but I don’t know where yet to take it. And I just appreciate that about your story so much. Like I just knew that something needed to change without knowing clearly, yet exactly what it would be. And you simply started moving towards.

[00:14:14] Options and ideas and exploring. Andknow, I think it’s super powerful and I can relate to that. I know so many engineering leaders can as well, maybe the, you know, engineering leader listening right now feels that way in this moment. there’s a fire burning, but I don’t know what direction to take it.

[00:14:29] so I just wanted to ask you, before we move on to, your journey into health and nutrition, if somebody is in that place, They feel the desire, but they don’t know what direction to take it. What would you say to them having walked the road you have and any wisdom for that person?

[00:14:46] Uh, I suppose the word courage comes to mind being prepared to take a chance on yourself Being prepared to out of what’s comfortable and what’s safe and just give it a go. we all have different natures in that respect. And I think maybe I might jump quite quickly.

[00:15:10] Sure. Um, but I still think even people who have a slightly different nature and like to. Take things a bit more slowly. I still think just. swallowing the fear and having a go because what’s the worst that can happen. And that’s what I always ask myself. I’m like, what’s the worst that can happen.

[00:15:28] And look, I’ve been self-employed for 40 years now and I always went, what’s the worst that can happen. I’ll have to get a proper job.

[00:15:40] bearable. Bearable. Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:15:44] And I’m like, well, I can do that. Cause other people do that, Amazing. I really appreciate you sharing that. So Susan, you fell in love with the body with, this idea of physiology and health and nutrition and what you said a moment ago resonates so deeply for me that.

[00:16:00] It was about being well, not just about understanding sickness. So can you describe that distinction a bit and how that became your focus? 

[00:16:10] Well, the body is an incredible organism our body just works so hard all day trying to overcome all the neglect and all the abuse that we throw at it.

[00:16:23] To keep surviving and keep producing energy and to keep. All those systems inside functioning. And we have, systems inside that are billions and billions of reactions inside ourselves. every minute, that these are taking place. And it’s just amazes me that we do all this stuff from the outside that trashes it and our thinking that trashes it.

[00:16:50] And we don’t give it the support and the nourishment the care and the love that it deserves. And then we want it to keep us going until we are sort of 90 or something. if you think about having a car and if you’re told you’ve got one car for the rest of your life, how, like how well would you look after that path?

[00:17:10] I think we were a little bit used to treating our bodies. Like we treat our cars, you know, it gets old and decreed and we trade it in and get a new one, but we just can’t do that with our bodies. 

[00:17:21] Ah, it would be nice, but, uh, a lot of sci-fi movies have been brooded around that concept, but we get one go with the body.

[00:17:29] So. I think this is a good way to frame what the body’s working so hard to do all the time. I’ve never necessarily pictured it this way, that all the negative stuff that I’m throwing at it, or allowing to come into my world through my thinking through what I eat and drink, environmental pressures, stress that I take on, et cetera, the.

[00:17:49] working overtime just to overcome all that and keep me functioning in a as healthy way as possible. Can you tell us, Susan for you and your experience in, coaching and doing this work, what are the biggest factors that we’re throwing at our body that it’s just seriously, I have to overcome this again.

[00:18:10] Like what are those main negative factors that people are throwing at? 

[00:18:16] I’m gonna answer that in a backwards way. So the body’s job is to produce energy. when we have energy, everything in our body functions. So every system in our body has to produce energy. Every sound has mitochondria, the job of those mitochondria is to produce ATP and energy for us.

[00:18:35] when we throw. Bad stuff at it, whether it’s thoughts, whether it’s nutrition, whether it’s environmental toxins, we affect the ability of our mitochondria to create energy. And when that happens,

[00:18:53] We end up with oxidative stress. So instead of the mitochondria, being able to convert, you know, it uses fats and glucose and goes through all its little systems and it’s electron transport chain and all those things. It produces ATP energy and it produces water. And if we don’t have the right nutrients going into those systems, we don’t produce water.

[00:19:18] We produce. Oxygen molecules that become free radicals, reactive oxygen species, and they start to damage our body that’s why everybody takes antioxidants to try and prevent that oxidation process happening. And so we end up with this oxidative stress happening, and then that causes inflammation and then inflammation starts to lead down the pathway of.

[00:19:44] Chronic disease and it starts slowly it’s like rust in your car. It’s like a tiny little bit of rust. And if you don’t deal with it, it gets bigger and bigger and bigger. so our body gives us, symptoms to warn us, you start getting headaches, you start getting some pain in a joint.

[00:20:01] You’re not sleeping so well, you start putting a little bit of weight on around your middle. Your mood starts to change you a lot less tolerant. Your ability to work in focus reduces, and those are all symptoms of your body saying my energy production is being dismantled disrupted. 

[00:20:22] Mm, wow. so you’re speaking my language, Susan, because I’m a mechanical engineer by training.

[00:20:27] And once an engineer, always an engineer, I believe. And. Correlating it to the car pictures. I’ve got my, my, my first car, a 1992 Ford Explorer in my mind. And I remember vividly the day that the hole in the running board showed up because underneath that paint, metal had been rusting for who knows how long.

[00:20:49] And then suddenly there were these giant holes in the running boards on both sides of my Ford. tell me then the mitochondria, this energy product. and feel free to geek out as, as much as you want. I, I love the science that I’m sure the engineer listening loves the science. What has to be true for healthy energy production to occur versus this oxidative stress producing energy production.

[00:21:13] So what are the inputs, if you will, or the conditions necessary for complete and healthy energy production or. Very so greatly. We couldn’t even begin to describe, okay. No, 

[00:21:25] no. There are very specific inputs that are needed and some of those are micronutrients and, trace elements. So we have, you know, I can’t remember how many enzymes we have in our body.

[00:21:40] enzyme function is really important in this process and we need nutrients and some of the key nutrients, we need a magnesium, magnesium affects, three, 3,751 with, different zones in the body, Oh my goodness. That’s amazing. If you think that every cell in our heart.

[00:21:59] Muscle has 10,000 mitochondria that are producing energy, and it’s just producing millions and millions of ATP every second, every minute, so the raw material to produce that. we need magnesium. 

[00:22:19] Magnesium ATP is what is really produced at the end of that electron transport chain. So, so that’s super important. We need copper and an enzyme called Solaman, which is really important, not too much iron. So. Um, having dysfunctional iron in our body and Unbound iron, getting into all our tissues, effects with this oxygen and, and is contributes to this rust.

[00:22:48] So, you know, that’s just a, a start, but then, For copper to get into C to work, we’ve gotta have the retinal form of vitamin a, not the beta Carine form that we get out of our carrots. And so that’s when we can then start bringing it back to our food know what’s going on in the states.

[00:23:07] It’s huge in New Zealand about eating animal foods and things like that. And it’s unhealthy and bad for the environment, but we evolved over millions of years to require the nutrients that were available from the food that we had in our environment. And we know that animal foods provide. Those nutrients to us.

[00:23:33] we were able to eat plant foods. We adapted to include plant foods. And so that’s where plant foods become a source of calories. So I think of them as being more of the power supply. if you think of having a chemical factory let’s say the factory’s gonna make some paint.

[00:23:52] And it wants to make blue paint. It needs specific inputs to be able to make blue paint. Yes, but it needs a power supply. So those, carbohydrates become one option for your power supply. And the fact that you eat is another option for the power supply. but they don’t really contain the nutrients that you need, containing the chemicals.

[00:24:14] You need to be able to make that blue paint. And so that is where I’m a very strong believer in, in ancestral nutritional approach. the food that our ancestors ate, and a lot of those were animal products. Provide all those nutrients in the bio available way that our body recognizes and the right quantities.

[00:24:38] Super interesting. I love what you’re describing and I’m just you as an engineer, there’s just the kind of rational logical circuitry in me. Right. It makes total sense that the body would be well adapted to use whatever food was available yeah. And is available today. And it’s easy to see or argue that.

[00:24:58] A lot of what sits on the shelf at the grocery store today is not something that was ever available. No. At any time in history prior to, this modern industrial age. I know we could spend a whole podcast, like a hundred episodes digging into all of the details of this. And I’ starting to understand why, what you do or at least part of your business is called the health detective So many moving parts and so many things to consider, for somebody. Who’s really interested in getting one or two of these foundational pieces. Right. and I love this paint factory metaphor. Maybe you continue with that, but Susan, what would you say are the most fundamental things someone needs to get right.

[00:25:40] To have a good chance at optimizing energy production and therefore health and wellness in their. 

[00:25:47] Well, I like to test, not guess and that’s kind of the science geeky part in me. So I look at blood tests, organic acids, hormonal testing, whole range of testing, not to diagnose disease, but to just see where the body actually.

[00:26:05] is and where the issues might be coming from. And so I can use blood testing in a different way that a doctor does to have a look for nutritional deficiencies and see where some of those baseline things might be at. So the first step would be to identify those and then improve them. And if we can improve them with real food inputs, That is better because our body recognizes that and it works well.

[00:26:34] Sometimes we might need to use supplements, but supplements come with a whole, you know, I could go on for podcast about the draw backs of supplements and what’s in them. And, whether our body can use them properly. so we need to get those inputs in properly. So, if you take the paint factory and.

[00:26:52] you’re trying to make blue paint, but the, um, the shipping containers being held up because of, you know, COVID and the wolves aren’t working and you can’t get raw materials for blue paint, your paint. Factory’s not going to be able to, to create that output. And so it’s the same for our body.

[00:27:10] So the first thing is to get is to assess and see where you’re at and get. Get those nutrients in the right way. And then it’s to look at the systems in the body as well. So our metabolic system, making sure that things like blood pressure are good, making sure that your insulin levels are within range, that your glucose, isn’t too high. And just look at how you’re responding to those, macronutrients that are coming in as well. And it’s a matter of finding a balance between those and everybody’s different. And although I have some, nutritional philosophies, I respect that everyone is different and everyone comes from a different place.

[00:27:51] And it’s about mm-hmm tuning in and helping them where they’re at. 

[00:27:55] It’s a brilliant answer, you know, rather than taking a specific. Common approach. Like everybody needs to eat these certain foods or, or et cetera. You know, here’s a recommended nutrition plan that people ought to follow test. Don’t guess I think the engineer and me, and I’m sure engineering leaders listening will appreciate that philosophy.

[00:28:14] Like let’s go get the data that will allow us to make an educated, informed test based decision on how you can adapt the inputs. maybe it’s a dumb question, but I’ll ask it anyway, Susan, cuz for me, what I’ve found so often is even then once we know what we should do, getting ourselves to do, it is one of the hardest parts.

[00:28:37] so let’s say, I’m your client, you and I go through this really brilliant set of tests and you can provide these great recommendations. what have you found are. keys to actually following through and helping people be successful as a coach and the work you do with supporting wellness and nutrition for your clients.

[00:28:55] What is it that actually gets somebody bought in to the process into actually making this their new reality? 

[00:29:03] It is such a good question. And that varies a lot with individuals. a lot of people really find the testing very valuable because they can see some hard data. And so even though, you know, when you get up in the morning, you look in the mirror and you might go.

[00:29:24] I’m putting on a bit of weight. I don’t feel that great. I haven’t got that much energy, but oh, I’m alright. Because I’ve got all the, you know, my focus is on achieving all this other stuff. When they see the data, they can go, I understand why now. And then, like you say, making change can be difficult.

[00:29:40] we talked earlier about, some people can be fast adopters of new ideas and other people like to go more slowly. And so I think it’s the ability to manage both. there’s. Fast tricks. You can have to get some results. So those people who just want to get stuck in, and then there is a much slower pro process where you just make really small changes.

[00:30:04] And then coming back to people’s. Why, why do you want to do this? What can you see for your future? I trained as a neuro change, practitioner, , it’s another science approach. That’s how we can learn in very small steps to rewire. The neuro pathways in our brain and break some of those old habits yes.

[00:30:30] And got new habits. you know, one of the key components about that is that we have goals, you know, take new years, you know, and everyone wants, so I’m gonna lose 10 on 10 kg in New Zealand. I don’t know, 20 pound in the states, I’m gonna lose. 20 pound this year, but the problem is it’s a lofty goal, but their belief system doesn’t match the goal.

[00:30:53] Mm. it’s a matter of getting into that belief system, understanding that belief system, getting people to dissect their own belief systems and being able to converge the belief system with the goal. 

[00:31:09] and that’s really good. Susan, I’ll add, at least one compelling why for myself and for any engineering leader, who’s listening to this and may, may be tempted to simply.

[00:31:22] Geek out on the fun science you’ve shared with us, but not do anything with it. I coach all my clients that even more important than time is a whole discipline and billion dollar industry around time management. Right. I believe time is to be invested and energy is to be managed and the production of energy in your career and in your life.

[00:31:45] The ability to access energy, to focus on how much energy are you bringing to the task at hand. So as an engineering leader, if you’re writing code, if you’re a software developer, your ability to fully focus and get into that flow state and bring maximum energy into that work. Will differentiate your performance.

[00:32:04] You know, if you’re a, a manager of a team or you’re a director or vice president, and you’re presenting to the group, or you’re at the front of the room, sharing the vision, the energy that you can bring in that moment will differentiate your performance and let’s face it. Having an engineering degree does not make you, different than anyone else who has that degree.

[00:32:22] Like, how are you going to over the course of your career, separate yourself. From others, if that’s your goal, you know, if you wanna see your career really accelerate and grow, which I know a lot of our, you know, engineering leaders out there do, but also at home with your spouse, with your kids, you know, the things that you love to do your hobbies, when you get home and you’re too tired to even enjoy your hobbies, or to spend time with your kids in a way that’s loving and meaningful, that’s a huge problem.

[00:32:49] And so the idea of what Susan is sharing that energy. when suboptimal is something that you can directly influence through your actions and the knowledge that you could gain in working with someone like Susan, take that seriously because a 5% or 10% change in available energy is a massive difference in what you can create in your life.

[00:33:10] And I imagine for most of us, there’s an even bigger change to be had than that. We don’t realize how far off of optimal we are. I dunno, Susan, would you agree with that statement in terms of the opportunity available? 

[00:33:22] Absolutely. I absolutely love what you said. You’ve sold it to me. 

[00:33:27] well, I mean, honestly, and so it’s way outside my domain of expertise, but Susan, I’m super encouraged by your approach and can’t recommend highly enough that people, take that seriously, like rather than saying, Hey, what’s my first step, drink more water, sleep more.

[00:33:41] typical answers, we hear a lot to say, look, the first step is to get serious about getting the. go learn about your body in a way that’s personalized and very detailed. And I’ll circle back to your original statement in a way that’s focused on finding what’s missing for optimal health and wellness, rather than doing those tests for the purpose of finding.

[00:34:06] A disease or why you are sick. Mm-hmm , I think that’s a completely different lens, Susan, that you’re bringing to the question and it’s super powerful. I’m encouraged. Woo. In the interest of time, we gotta land the plane here, Susan, we have so sad cuz there’s a hundred more questions I’d love to ask and maybe we’ll have to do it part two in the future, but health as a foundation for all the success we create and our career and our life and our.

[00:34:31] If the engineering leader out there wants to create success, they wanna experience happiness. This isThe Happy Engineer Podcast. You know, I believe that great coaching, great engineering, great health. It’s all common that the questions we ask matter questions, lead answers, follow. If we wanna get better answers in our life, we better.

[00:34:54] Better questions. So for someone out there, who’s heard this chat and they wanna get to that next level in energy and health in their life. What would be a question that you would lead them with today? 

[00:35:06] Well, there are quite a few questions that I think are really relevant and probably ones that people ask themselves all the time, about their, why about, what step do I need to take today?

[00:35:17] What do I need to learn? But the question that I ask myself every single morning, and I think is really valuable is what’s my ideal day today. What does my ideal day look like today?

[00:35:32] What’s my ideal day today. I love that. I love that. And what does that look like for you to ask then question and then answer it, Susan, do you journal about it or spend some time meditating or it’s just as kind of a simple thought exercise. Would you mind sharing, like how do you practice that question?

[00:35:51] so I have a reset practice every morning. And so I have a number of questions that I ask myself each morning. that is one of those questions. And then I write down how my ideal day will look and not just look, but I really tap into how my ideal day is going to feel. So it’s not about just making a list of I’m gonna do this and I’m gonna do that.

[00:36:15] It’s about how am I going to feel while I’m doing that? Yeah. 

[00:36:19] really, I love that. you know, how it serves that bigger purpose. This is an area engineering leaders.

[00:36:25] We need to take more. Care to pay attention to not just our to-do list, but our to be, and to feel lists as well. That’s really good. So, Susan, I know people are gonna wanna connect with you, discover your work, reach out to you for support in the coaching and, health detective work that they need.

[00:36:44] So where can people go to get more Susan Birch in their. 

[00:36:49] So the best place to find me [email protected], my website. And from there, they’ll be able to find my podcasts, links, to my Facebook rans and all the other kind of work I do. I’ve got lots of free resources on my website. I think that’s the best place and they can find my contact details and reach out.

[00:37:12] brilliant. As always we’ll put all the links to where you can connect with Susan in the show notes, you can find [email protected]. And I can’t say enough about Susan, just her approach, her heart and what she’s come through in her life to get to this point of not just brilliant expertise.

[00:37:31] But a passionate heart of service in the work she does, as the world’s best self care coach and the health detective, she is tremendous. So if you’re even remotely considering taking action on this, please connect with Susan and, and Susan. Thanks again so much for making time today. This has been awesome.

[00:37:48] Aw, thank you. This, this has been a lot of fun and I’ve really enjoyed it. Thanks Zach.

[00:37:57] ,