Ep # 60: Health Before Wealth. Tips For Improving Healthspan with Stevyn Guinnip, MSEd, CWC

Benjamin Haas |

We have a special guest, Stevyn Guinnip, on this episode of A/B Conversations!

Stevyn Guinnip, MSEd, CWC is the CEO and Wellthy Advisor at Grow Wellthy™.  She is also the creator of the Wellth Academy™.  She grew up a financial advisor's daughter & enjoyed 20 years as an exercise physiologist and certified wellness coach in the US & Australia. Now Stevyn has blended the world of finance & fitness, helping financial professionals and their clients earn back their health so they can retire ‘wellthy.’

Listen to Ben and Stevyn discuss how the health and wellness industry is closely tied to the finance industry and why health should become part of your retirement portfolio. You'll also have the opportunity to hear Stevyn's personal journey, as well as, gain insights on small things you can do now to improve your "healthspan" so you can fully enjoy retirement in the future.   

Connecting with Stevyn:
LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/stevyn-guinnip/
Website: https://growwellthy.com

  • Introduction to Stevyn - 0:58
  • Stevyn shares her story - 1:45
  • Focusing on health in retirement - 5:17
  • The illness wellness continuum - 9:26
  • Stevyn's tips and tricks - 14:57
  • The importance of finding an accountability partner - 25:08
  • Connecting with Stevyn - 28:03



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Full Transcript:

Benjamin Haas  00:00

Hi everyone and welcome back to AB conversations. Although today we've booted Adam from his seat so I can introduce Stevyn. So hi, Stevyn.


Stevyn Guinnip  00:13

Hi, great to be here.


Benjamin Haas  00:16

I decided we're going to call this BS conversation. I'm sorry, SB conversations today, ladies first and we don't want to make this sound crappy so we'll go with SB conversations today. Thank you for being here. Stevyn and I met virtually a couple months ago and I love this concept that you have “grow wellthy” and for those that aren't going to see this on video, W E L L T H Y, right? How clever of you. We seem to both have this passion for talking about the interconnectedness of health and wealth. So really just wanted to give you that platform today to have that conversation. So again, thanks for joining us.


Stevyn Guinnip  00:56

Thank you so much for inviting me.


Benjamin Haas  00:58

I'll do my best to introduce you here and give you justice. Founder and CEO, as I said of GrowWellthy and the creator of the wealth Academy. I’ll ask you a little bit about your story but very unique that you grew up the daughter of a financial advisor that turned into 20 plus years as an exercise physiologist and certified wealth Coach. I know you've done research. You've been a trainer. You've done corporate wellness programs. You've pretty much done it all but now work really with financial professionals and I love your quote, health as a form of wealth so it needs to be a part of financial plans. So yeah, let's start maybe tell us a little bit about your story. I love the story that you have to share. Some of your own learnings in life and health struggles and where you are today.


Stevyn Guinnip  01:45

Absolutely, yes. I was 11 years old; it was 1984. My dad quit his job and decided he was going to become at the time what was called a stockbroker, which is a Financial Advisor now. We moved to Arkansas and he began this business and I got to be a flower on the wall of that experience. I got to meet a lot of his clients and people who were going through, you know, that transition from work to retirement and who were long term clients. You've got to put a lot of thought and effort in worst case scenarios and really prepare for that next stage of life. I got to see too many people, you know, not really being prepared for what financial retirement or for what retirement actually is and that kind of leads us into what we're going to be talking about today with a few of the some of the research that's been out there, but I experienced that I saw it and people would, you know, die or get sick and then never get a chance to actually use what they put aside. So that experience was my moment to say, okay, I'm going to fix this from the other side. If they've got their money place, I'm going to become an exercise physiologist and help them keep their health in place so they can live that full life that they want to. And you're right, two decades in that industry of the health and wellness industry I realized after I almost died after living in Australia, that exercise really isn't the answer, either. It's a mindset, it's a commitment. It's a long-term view looking for those short wins or those quick wins but with long term dividends. And I was like, oh my goodness, this is so much like the financial journey, right? It's that consistency, that accountability, the plan, all of those things, it's not the quick diet, it's not the kill yourself in the gym and there's so many parallels between those two. Then some research has come out recently that just solidified exactly what I was thinking and that's what I do now is I help people make their health part of that retirement portfolio so that they're not left going, oh, I've got a full bank account but a bankrupt health account. No one wants to be there. You don't want to be, you know, healthy with no money either. Move both of those forward so that's kind of how I got here.



Yeah, and I think it's such a great thing that you kind of put that forward and I was absolutely shocked. I know that we both kind of talked about the four pillars survey that came out from Edward Jones. Shocked to see the statistic that 96%, it's something like that, call it almost 100% within the margin of error but people are more concerned about their health and retirement than their wealth. So what you're speaking to is clearly something that everybody feels so it's why it's important to not only have that conversation but I'll flip it back to you and I know you did share a little bit of your life story. I think whether we're financial professionals or not everyone goes through stress, that feeling of lack of time, it's everywhere. So how do you help? What are the characteristics that you identify as people really needing to have to kind of stick with a plan?



We can look at the research that you just mentioned the age wave study with Edward Jones and I'm a connoisseur of research because I used to work for the NIH and do research on exercise and blood pressure and all research is not created equal. You want to look at trends, what is all the research saying and you look at the study that was done in 2014, again, with a different company, I think it was Merrill Lynch at that time but the outcomes are the same. When you, before retirement people are focused on money. After retirement, they flip and they focus on health and they're like, oh, this was important, too. I didn't get that. I just took this too much for granted so I think probably the biggest thing people can do is be aware and they know that sounds like a little bit of a cop out of an answer but when I coach people through my Wellth Academy, awareness is the first thing. What are you doing and why are you doing it? Because a lot of us are just going on habits and behaviors we've done forever. We don't even think about why we're doing certain things. Why do you have your cup of coffee at nine o'clock versus seven o'clock? Why do you take a walk in the middle of the afternoon versus after a meal. What is it that you're doing? And then the second part of that is the curiosity behind it. Wow, I wonder what it would be like if I did this instead or if I change this up. So those are like the bedrock of any kind of program is awareness first, curiosity second and what that does is it eliminates any kind of guilt. It eliminates any blame. There's no success and a blame game, it doesn't matter if you've gained a few pounds or if you've got a chronic disease or you don't have the mobility that you used to have. It's okay, start where you are and then get curious about how you can make things better and I like to tell people, imagine yourself as 88 years old. Most people don't do that. Who am I going to be when I'm 88? What do I want to be able to do? Are you going to want to do CrossFit and crazy pull ups and be on a keto diet? Probably that's not even going to be a concern. Do you want to be able to put your shoes on and go for a walk and get down and play with your dog. So start with those things and put those in as a foundation and then you can kind of layer everything else up on top of that. I think with the age wave study, I knew that health was important but I think it's reassuring to see that people when they get into that space that is actually true and one of the shockers to me was that in the order. I know we've referred to it a couple of times, I'll just kind of overview it those four pillars actually are health, relationships - family, spouse, that kind of thing; purpose, and then finance - in that order. So finances actually the fourth thing and I think you and I even have maybe talked about the fact that I see finance and health as kind of the tools because why do you need those things except to serve your relationships and your purpose? Right?


Benjamin Haas  08:23



Stevyn Guinnip  08:24

And when you look at it as oh, I need to be a certain size or a certain weight or whatever, it kind of defeats the purpose and the long-term motivation to be able to say no, this is so I can have great relationships and go do the things I want to do and make an impact on the world and future generations, then it becomes a sticking power of motivation.


Benjamin Haas  08:46

Yeah, and I'm curious if you see some of the same things that we do on our side. We're talking about these big picture goals that people have but you start that conversation with, what does this future look like, but sometimes it feels like that's so daunting to make those shifts or it feels like they need to be huge shifts and I wonder if you feel similarly. We try to talk about like, these are small wins. If you're talking about habits, sometimes it's a small shift in something you're doing that becomes a new habit and now that's integrated that really is just tilting you a little bit more to align to that future and not feeling like you're taking leaps. I mean, do you feel that way too? Is that the way you talk about it?


Stevyn Guinnip  09:26

100% Yes, and I use a sliding scale like a one to ten scale. It's called the illness wellness continuum. Happy to send it to any of your listeners or give you a link so that they can see this but basically, one end the one is severe disease or disability and the ten is optimal health and there's descriptions across the bottom and you might be at a four, you don't need to get to a ten. All we want to do is stop the slide sometimes 


Benjamin Haas  09:54

Yeah, and I think I really liked the way that you put that. Some of this just has to come back to the simple fact that having somebody that helps you hold yourself accountable to things makes it a little bit easier to make those little shifts. Little bite sized pieces that are going to make things a little bit better. 


Stevyn Guinnip  10:10

One or even reverse it a little bit, a little bit as a lot. It goes a long way and I don't have a graphic for this, I'm going to use my fingers hold up view, it's the same starting spot and you slowly decline over the next 10 years, right? Just natural aging. That's one direction but if you make small tweaks and you just slowly improve in the discrepancy between the two, 10 years later, is huge. It's a big discrepancy with very small changes. Two examples, one client I worked with, he said after about two months of working together, he had lost 25 pounds which he'd been struggling with for a long time and he's like, I don't even feel like I've done anything. How has this happened? And part of the success is working with your physiology as opposed to trying to fight it. I'm going to beat this; I'm going to destroy that. That talk, you know of, just trying to combat yourself, that's never going to be long term successful. How can you step into the stream of your physiology and what it wants to do anyway because it wants to be healthy? And how do you just navigate and you know, like, use your paddle? If you're in a canoe and kind of navigating around the rocks and stuff. That's so much easier and so much more fun than trying to like, I'm going to, my willpower can beat that cookie and I'm going to be successful. It's a whole different way of looking at things. You reminded me of a story of a client. He said, I used to always look at eating food because eating is about 85% of the equation of health and movement is the other 15%. And then overarching is kind of how you feel about your life, your stress. Stress doesn't ever go away but how you deal with your stress is important but he said I always looked at my meals as something I could catch up on later. Ooh, I'm going to enjoy the moment because we only live once, right? So just get the ice cream. Just eat as much of the whatever that you want because that's what life is. But then he started thinking because he always thought you just catch up later, he dug himself a hole I'll save later. We hear it all the time but next time never comes. It's always that mindset moment so I think health happens in this moment, that only this moment right here. Every little decision is a win. Is a potential for a win and if you don't win this decision or this moment, maybe you win the next one and that's okay because it's always a starting over. It's never like, oh, I failed, this day is done. I might as well just do whatever I want and then start tomorrow. Another client just had day one on his calendar every day was day one because he never succeeded to what he thought was right. So he just crash it, eat whatever he wanted, do whatever, drink whatever he wanted and start tomorrow with day one and it just never got better. So it's like a little shift in how you look at it, this is a moment and this is my moment. And all we have is right now and you can see that as something like, I should enjoy every moment or this moment is going to build my enjoyment for the future and how I deal with that. Does that make sense?


Benjamin Haas  13:36

It does and I think that's why it's so important for somebody to have somebody like you and hopefully somebody like us on our side that that conversation just becomes about, let's just acknowledge the tradeoff that is available here. And then yeah, be kind to yourself, if it didn't go well the first couple times. Give yourself that space to learn from that and then maybe adjust the next time but having a partner in the process is so very important. Of course, I'm very biased in saying that, but


Stevyn Guinnip  14:04

No, me too but it's true and I just put this out on LinkedIn today about you create your future, not by creating your future but by creating your habits today. The habit, it's a quote that I got from somebody else but it's the habits that build your future. And sometimes it's easy to kind of just get discouraged or get lost or not realize what's important or not even to have just somebody to bounce ideas off of or they're going to come ask the question that they want to have anybody ask and that's where you and I come in is helping people just have that sounding board and looking at things in a new perspective and reminding them of the long-term goal here and that's kind of what we all need in some area. None of us are doing all four pillars perfectly.


Benjamin Haas  14:57

Yeah, right so going back to this idea of making this sound hopefully a little bit more tangible for people like bite sized pieces? I don't know, what are some of those tips or tricks that you share? I mean, again, I follow you now. I know you start your day by saying first thing you should do is just get outside, like nature heals. That seems like such a simple little shift. Are there other things that you have in mind that you typically share as something that's going to help people start to focus on those healthy habits?


Stevyn Guinnip  15:31

Yeah, I have 1,000 things running through my head, I'll just pick a couple of them. One of them is mindset. If you're not having fun with whatever you're trying to do, stop it now and find something that's fun to do. So if you're dreading going to the gym and you hate it, your body knows that and the chemicals in your body are going to prevent success. It just is. So find a way to enjoy whatever it is that you're doing. That's kind of the first thing. So I love pickleball, I love getting outside, I love going for a walk with my husband so we can digest our day. So find those things where you can stack the benefits. When you're when you're going into retirement, walking is a wonderful act exercise to do but make it a high ROI exercise or activity. And what I mean by high ROI is like low level investment, time, and effort but a high return on your investment. What do you do with that? So let's just say it's a walk, what could you do to make it better? If you put it within 15 minutes of your biggest meal, then you've just stacked a benefit on top of it to control blood sugar. Blood sugar and waist size are probably two of the main things that we focus on with the work that I do because those cascades are domino effects into so many other positive changes. So going for a walk within 15 minutes of your biggest meal is going to be really important and a couple more things you can do is do it outside because you're right, nature does heal, it actually lowers cortisol, improves your blood pressure and heart rate. But also, if you walk with your mouth closed and breathe out of your nose, you're changing your oxygen saturation in your body and your cardiovascular training, how your body responds to oxygen and you just stacked another behavior on top of that. So that's just examples of lots of things that you can do. Yeah, see?


Benjamin Haas  17:33

And that's so perfect because, you know, I think you said it so well. People probably associate health, I know I do, well, I have to go for this massive long run or I don't go to the gym so I must not be working hard enough. How simple is it to take a walk? How simple for mind and body. I do want to kind of flip it back. Let's say that we did a really awesome thing today just by creating a little awareness for these pre-retirees. That hey, look at what all your retiree friends say. I got to retirement, I saved my money but now I wish I would have been more prepared to be healthy. I think the study talks about that health span, not just lifespan, like how many good years are we going to have for my health? Then let's speak if you’re okay with it, let's speak directly to that audience now that we've created the awareness, what are some of the things that you would suggest to that group to start doing now? Is it a health coach? Or what would be a best next step?


Stevyn Guinnip  18:37

Figure out the right approach. So a lot of people think that when they retire, they're going to go do travel or know some favorite hobby or whatever but if your health isn't there, obviously, you're not going to be able to do those things. So I have a father and a father-in-law. Just a quick example. They're both the same age. They're both retired. They both have enough money. Okay, so apples to apples but they don't both have his health. One of them is healthy and one of them is not healthy. One of them plays golf and walks 18 holes almost every day and then beats me in pickleball and takes me fishing and everything. The other one is on dialysis three times a week. Cannot leave their home for more than a day before they have to be back on dialysis again and the only time they really get out is for doctor's appointments, that can't walk they need a walker, they fall. So you can imagine quality of life. It's not all about just living longer. It's about that quality of life and you hit it on the nail. There's health span, there's lifespan and you want that health span to go as far into lifespan as possible. Live long and die short and the difference between those two, I call it sick span. Sick span is when you get something diagnosed and you need care. You know, some sort of intervention to stay alive and that sick span in the United States, the average is just under 16 years of sick span. Which, to me, that's way too long to be sick, living long is good but living sick, I don't know that any of us really want that. We want to live and do the things we want to do with the people we want to do for as long as we want to do it. So keeping that in mind as you approach things and for those people who are on the brink of retirement and they're looking at those things. The earlier you can start to do things for yourself, the better because that you're putting more bank, you have more compounding results, time available before things start to cut the margins and get tighter as far as your health goes. Sleep is really important and I know people hear this all the time but sleep and deep sleep is really important. So finding a way to get into the deep REM sleep is going to be super valuable. As you age, sleep becomes very valuable, like it eludes people a lot so finding a way to get that done and there are a couple of ways to do that. One of them is to put your heels higher than your heart before you go to bed, like 15 minutes before you're ready to go to bed. Just lay on the couch, put your feet up on the armrest or lay on the floor and put your feet up on the wall and just breathe out of your nose, keep your mouth shut. That position plus the breathing out of your nose is going to help you go into what's called your parasympathetic nervous system and that's going to help you get into a deeper, more restful, recovery sleep because when you get older, let's say beyond 40, the further beyond 40 recovery is the main thing. How do you recover from your day. Repair yourself so that disease doesn't set in and so you have enough energy. That's the biggest one I hear from people as they age is they just lose their energy so recovery is part of that key. The other part is water. If you can, first thing in the morning when your feet hit the ground, if you can get your eyes on some sunshine, it's an actual physiological eye to Sunshine thing and get some water in your system like 16 to 30 ounces of water within the first 10 minutes of waking up, that hydration is going to be the prime the pump to all these physiological systems that keep your body operating properly. So those are a couple of things. As far as food goes, start with fiber. Oh my gosh, not added fiber, like with a spoon of Metamucil or whatever but like food with fiber. Avocados, flaxseed, chia seed, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, pumpkin seeds, like all that type of stuff. The average American gets about 15 grams of fiber. We really need 30 to 40 grams of fiber to have a functioning bowels and gut, blood sugar, energy because a lot of our health is found in our gut. So most people I work with are substantially below where they need to be for fiber and when you start to add fiber in, you feel full. You start getting rid of those cravings, your energy increases so there's lots of really great things to happen with fiber. As far as movement goes, there's a concept called neat - non-exercise activity thermogenesis and that's a really fancy way of saying, the time you're not at the gym but you're still moving so find ways to up your neat score. Like gardening, walking, while you're on the phone, pacing getting up and fidgety, don't sit for more than an hour without moving your body. But those are some really simple things that people in that age group could do right now to make themselves healthier.


Benjamin Haas  23:53

Well, I love this like theme from question to question that I posed to you. You're giving these great examples that I'm sitting here thinking, this really doesn't have to be heavy lifting. It really doesn't have to be too hard but I think that leads me to, the way I wanted to wrap up our conversation. I think it's always kind of amazing that as you move through the end of the year, we are goal planners both of us, you start to think about okay, for some reason, when that calendar hits December 31, it feels like we have a new slate. New Year's resolutions are a thing and I would venture to guess that improving our health is one of the most common if not the most common, this is what I'm going to focus on next year. And then you get two weeks, four weeks into the year and everything you've said you really wanted to do didn't get done and maybe that's again because we get it in our mind that we have to lift this boulder and it's not really a boulder. I just love that the theme that you've been giving us here today, not only is it important and people say it's important but they're just these little simple tricks and tips of it that really can make it very doable.


Stevyn Guinnip  25:08

Yeah, and you know, I'm an exercise physiologist. I've got a master's in exercise science, kinesiology and have the gold standard of certifications in my industry and honestly, I didn't learn this stuff there. I just learned it from experience, from my own experience from working with hundreds of clients and realizing that I give you permission to not have to go to the gym and sweat and kill yourself. You don't have to do that. There's so much what I call low hanging fruit that you can do to substantially improve what's called all-cause mortality and disability and that's just when bad things happen so we want to fill in all that low hanging fruit. Then, when you get that base, if you want more, go up and grab the high fruit and do some weightlifting or do some running if you want to but that's not necessary. And the thing I would say about the New Year is yes, you're 100% Correct. People get on that wagon; they fall off within two weeks. I would say get yourself surrounded with a community or a leader or somebody that can hold you accountable and ask you those hard questions. Same thing with you as an advisor and a retirement planner for these people, someone who's asking the health questions because health is the wild card for a financial plan. It's the biggest expenditure that you don't have almost any idea how much it's going to cost you and you can definitely make your chances better I guess is the way to say it, if your health is higher when you go into that place. So someone like you, who really understands that connection between health and wealth is important to be meeting with you and answering those questions and hold yourself accountable. Get with an accountability group get with a challenge group get with, you know, a coach like me for your monthly looking at these things and have them in front of you all the time. All of that stuff is going to be tools in your bag to help you stay the path because if you try to go it alone, there are some people that can do it and I've interviewed them. In fact, I've interviewed over 200 advisors for the book I'm writing on health and wealth and there are a few that can do it on their own but the majority of us need some support. Even me, I'm on the journey with everybody too.


Benjamin Haas  27:39

So I'm really glad you brought up the book because this was going to be the way I really wanted to wrap up. I love following your stuff. I love following what you post. Your little tips and tricks. How can people find you? Whether it's my financial advisor friends or whether it's just general public that said, you know what, Stevyn has a great way of talking about this, I'd love to read what she writes. Plug yourself a little bit here, where can we find you?


Stevyn Guinnip  28:03

Okay, well, I'm very active on LinkedIn. If you're on LinkedIn, connect with me there. I post every day if I can and the other thing is my website is growwellthy.com. You can actually put in your email and I'll send you some little graphics I created to help you understand some of the stuff we're talking about and the connection between health and wealth. But what that also will do is get you into my Wellthy Wednesday email list and that's where I put out updates on the book, things that I'm learning, tips and tricks and just help people really stay in the game with this.


Benjamin Haas  28:38

Awesome. Yeah, anything else you want to add for today? 


Stevyn Guinnip  28:43

Uh, no, I think we covered a lot here. Trust the research. Trust what we're saying. Consider this episode a road sign, you're driving down the road and it's a warning that there's something coming up ahead and you want to be prepared for that and reach out, find the resources that you need to do that. 


Benjamin Haas  29:10

So grateful for your time and all your insights. The energy you bring to it and clearly it's something you're very passionate about. So I hope that everyone listening not only has like a couple good takeaways, but feels re-energized by hearing the way that you approach it. So, thank you so much! 


Stevyn Guinnip  29:20

Yeah, thank you!

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