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“Why sleep is the key.” With Dr. William Seeds & KC Blinn

Sleep is key — pursue and protect your sleep. It’s when your body regulates emotions and regenerates cells. Sleep supports brain health and strengthens your memory. It’s imperative to your overall health and wellness. I have 2 incredible, young kids, and although there is a light at the end of the tunnel, my nightly sleep […]

Sleep is key — pursue and protect your sleep. It’s when your body regulates emotions and regenerates cells. Sleep supports brain health and strengthens your memory. It’s imperative to your overall health and wellness. I have 2 incredible, young kids, and although there is a light at the end of the tunnel, my nightly sleep usually gets disrupted for one reason or another. I can definitely tell the difference and feel the effects the next day in my workouts, social engagement, and productivity. What has helped tremendously though, has been building in a nightly shut-down ritual. Much like your morning ritual of waking the body up (caffeinating, getting dressed, getting out the door, working out, ect.), your health and wellness will benefit from a consistent sleep-prep routine. 15–30 minutes before going to bed, turn the lights in the house down, put the phone away, the blue light and emails from your boss at 9:45 pm are a sure way to undermine a restful slumber. Be intentional about getting you and your bed ready for sleep. We love to turn down service at nice hotels, prepping your bed and sleep gear will help your mindset and prepare your body better to rest throughout the night and wake up ready to tackle the day.


As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing,” I had the pleasure of interviewing KC Blinn.

Kevin “KC” Blinn is the GM of sales and marketing for both the MacFarms and Royal Hawaiian Orchards macadamia nut brands. With their health and wellness focus, these better-for-you snacks are true lifestyle-brands that both fuel and reward life with functional and nutritional benefits. KC is an award-winning creative brand builder with more than 25 years’ experience constructing unique and specific consumer experiences for some of the world’s most recognized brands.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?

Thanks for having me. I was fortunate enough to have grown up in a very athletic family. There was always some sport that was in season. Whether AYSO soccer, Little League baseball, Pop-Warner Football, surfing, skating, or skiing, physical activity was always at the core of fun and play in my family. As sports and life became more competitive, training and nutrition became more important as well. It’s a little tough paddling into a 10-foot wave after taking down a double cheeseburger that is sitting in your stomach like a rock or trying to run gassers with a belly full of sugary soda. That led to the mindset of if I’m going to put in the time and effort on the field or in the gym, how do I maximize my returns and get what my body needs, so I perform better. Now later in life, it’s more about how do I stay active and healthy and feeling good. How do I lean into those same fundamentals, that may not get me a faster 40 time, but allow me to balance family, career, and personal goals better. I feel fitness and wellness are key components to maintaining that balance.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

There were so many great reasons why I took the position here at MacFarms. One that really stands out, however, is that I saw the incredible potential of where the brands could go. In my mind, Royal Hawaiian Orchards is a true lifestyle brand — it has the ability to embody everything amazing about an inspired, Hawaiian, active approach to life. With MacFarms, there is so much incredible heritage that I could showcase and surround with beautiful tropical flavors but still be center around functional benefits. One of the first strategic partnerships I formed when I started, was with the Ironman World Championships in Kona. It is the Super Bowl of endurance races; with a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a full 26.2-mile marathon, oh and it usually somewhere between 95–105 degrees with 90% humidity. It also happens to take place about 35 miles north of our orchards in Captain Cook, HI. To me, this was a no brainer. We were able to get Royal Hawaiian Orchards and MacFarms product in each of the 2560 racers registration bags, with the understanding, RHO helps you fuel your race and MF helps reward and celebrates your accomplishment. We also had a little pop-up shop activation and sampled our delicious treats to over 3,000 additional people at the entrance to the Ironman Village during the week leading up to the race. The response was amazing. We had countless competitors coming into our tent just to tell us how thankful they were for our support and how excited they were to receive and try our product. Several competitors mentioned, that in the multiple years that they had been racing in the event, this was the first year there had been anything authentically Hawaiian, or even a better-for-you alternative snack they could enjoy. It had always been protein bars and energy drinks that tasted awful. There were so many testimonials and great relationships that have come out of those efforts. We have not only become a part of many of next year’s contestant’s training regimen, but we’ve also built an entire network of brand ambassadors, that advocate and promote our brands in the triathlon space. I get really excited when the things I do for a living, affect people and culture on a greater level. It’s one thing to walk into a room and tell everyone how great you are. It’s something quite different when someone else does it for you in an authentic and genuine way.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

I’ve spent 10 years as an Executive Creative Director in the beer industry, so jumping into the GM of Sales and Marketing role for a public company has been like trying to drink from a firehose (in the best way possible). In trading in my Photoshop for Excel, and my filters and fonts for pivot tables and board summaries, there has been a pretty steep learning curve. That said, I have an incredible team, and have had a lot of really great help along the way, so, fortunately, there haven’t been too many mistakes along the way. The mistakes I have made through haven’t been all that humorous, to me anyway. I really want to learn, excel, and take this business to the next level. To me, that is a being considered an everyday healthy go-to snack that everyone enjoys. I still have a lot to learn, but I’m super excited about putting in the hard yards to get there and come out on the other side as a better businessman and industry leader. I will tell you, that I had my team show up to our Annual Sales and Share Holders meeting in matching, branded, Aloha shirts. We definitely looked like a dodgy, Hawaiian, mariachi band from a bad hotel luau. The take-away was, make sure you bring enough for the CEO and the board to wear too, so at least you can chalk it up to a team-building exercise, and nobody asks you to sing “tiny bubbles.”

Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?

Well like we talked about earlier; sports, performance, and fitness have always been a part of my life. I’ve been lucky enough to have been trained by some of the world’s finest trainers, strength/conditioning coaches, and nutritionists. To me, fitness equals wellness, and although I may not be benching 350, squatting 500 or even running a sub-6-minute mile anymore (…more like a 16-minute mile), I’m also not trying to be a linebacker in the NFL anymore. However, I am still up, out the door, and at the gym (or surfing) by 6 am every morning. I’m still working hard to push my physical fitness, knowing the positive benefits and effects that commitment has on my mental, emotional, and overall wellness. I have the added benefit of having an amazing wife that is a certified Pilates instructor and studying to get a second degree in nutrition. As a result, I have a really good applied understanding of how food and activity can support or undermine all aspects of life; from decision making and attitude to cognitive functioning and sleep.

It’s been really cool to be part of a company that supports my daily needs in those endeavors. I try to grab one of our 1oz single-serve packs every day for my long afternoon commute home. It’s a perfect bridge-snack that provides me with a boost of plant-based protein, Vitamin B1 and B6, potassium, magnesium, iron, manganese, as well as the omega fatty acid chain (that the FDA believes lowers the risk for heart disease). Not to mention, have you ever eaten a macadamia nut? They are crazy delicious; it not like you’re trying gun down a wedge of kale or something. It also helps stoke my metabolism, so by the time I get home, I can be present and focused on my family, and not have to worry about being too full for dinner.

Another really interesting insight I’ve gained from being in this role has been being able to physically see where our product comes from first hand. To be on the Big Island, see the orchards as they reach out to the crystal blue waters of the Pacific, and breathe the pure trade winds while standing on the nutrient-rich volcanic soil is pretty inspiring. When you eat our macadamia nuts it’s hard not to have that connection with nature and enjoy all that it has for us. We use only minimal, clean, ingredients (our Natural Flavor has just 1) that you know came from the earth and are ultimately really delicious and good for you.

At this point, my contribution to the world of wellness is to use the forums I’ve been given, by being associated with such a great company, to help educate and provide insights on how to eat healthier and better live the Aloha spirit. I have to believe there are a lot of people out there that are looking for healthier, better-for-you snack options, that have never even heard of, or at least never tried a macadamia nut before. The more readily available we as an organization can make our brands, and the more platforms we can utilize to get the word out about how nutritious and delicious our products are, the better. As a brand, we really want to support people’s journeys for wellness and what that means to them. There are many organizations and events that we are partnering with to help amplify our message. I know our next big activation will be at the SXSW Wellness Expo in March, where we will be sampling products and discussing the many functional health and wellness benefits our brands and products have.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’ve been very fortunate to have sat at the feet of many masters. Starting with my dad, he is an old Ad Exec with tenures at all the top agencies and has created and worked on more legendary brands and campaigns than you could imagine. He definitely instilled in me a tremendous work ethic and confidence that I know makes him very proud today. He used to take my brother and I to work with him, and during meetings, we would pawn us off on one of the art directors that would teach us how to draw and use the computers. When I realized you could actually get paid to be creative, I knew that was the avenue I want to pursue in life. That said, there are people like Susan White, who has been a tremendous friend and mentor over the years, as well as the right-hand woman and brand guru, for icons like Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, and Wolfgang Puck. There is Bryan Crowley (CEO -SOYLENT), who continues to inspire me with his ability to see it all as it happens and be out in front of the next big thing to lead the charge. Dan McHugh (CMO- MONSTER ENERGY), is a master marketeer that I learned so much from. He was tasked with running a ship full of the biggest misfits that could ever be assembled but always gave us enough rope to hang ourselves. In doing so, we were able to push the envelope and change the landscape of the beer industry to likes that will never be seen again. Finally, though, I have to give a proper thanks and acknowledgment to my now CEO, Andrew Bond, who several years ago was given an outside opportunity to take the reins of our parent company, and take a struggling handful of organizations and turn them into a strong portfolio of renown international brands. He’s subsequently opened the door for me and has supported me along the way as I redefine my corporate approach and evolve in my career.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

I would say technology, fear of failure, and our perception of the play.

Technology- we can download the apps from the world’s best trainers in seconds, but in a world of convenience, we expect our bodies to react the same way. Fitness and wellness is a lifelong journey, and getting up and actually doing it isn’t always convenient. Even if that is a 15-minute walk on a lunch break, it’s stepping away from your daily conveniences (and/or stress) and finding what makes you feel better and building upon that regularly. Sitting on a couch with a screen in your face most likely won’t provide that.

Fear of failure- I think people don’t put into practice their fitness and wellness intentions due to their fear of failure. If you never start you can never fail at it. Given our society’s idea of what or who we are supposed to be, it’s no wonder, we can’t live up to the pressures. We need to have a better understanding and be better supportive of the journey. As I said, fitness and wellness is not a destination or a place in time, it is a pursuit. It’s ok to miss a day at the gym or celebrate with cake and ice cream- we’re here to live life and it should get a little messy sometimes. However, along the way, if we can understand our daily choices add-up (one way or the other), we can start seeing gains and ultimately get that much closer to our fitness and wellness goals along the path.

Perception of Play- To me play is still so essential — somewhere along the way, we lost that perspective. If we can shift our perception to see physical activity as an outlet for play, I think you would see a lot more people excited about fitness and ultimately achieving more holistic wellness in their lives. I know it’s not readily accepted, but you are actually allowed to have fun while you exercise. So do physical things that bring you joy and you have fun doing. Walks in the park, bike-rides through the neighborhood, dust off your hyperlinks and shoot some hoops, do dead-lifts in a boxing gym.

Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)

Sleep is key — pursue and protect your sleep. It’s when your body regulates emotions and regenerates cells. Sleep supports brain health and strengthens your memory. It’s imperative to your overall health and wellness. I have 2 incredible, young kids, and although there is a light at the end of the tunnel, my nightly sleep usually gets disrupted for one reason or another. I can definitely tell the difference and feel the effects the next day in my workouts, social engagement, and productivity. What has helped tremendously though, has been building in a nightly shut-down ritual. Much like your morning ritual of waking the body up (caffeinating, getting dressed, getting out the door, working out, ect.), your health and wellness will benefit from a consistent sleep-prep routine. 15–30 minutes before going to bed, turn the lights in the house down, put the phone away, the blue light and emails from your boss at 9:45 pm are a sure way to undermine a restful slumber. Be intentional about getting you and your bed ready for sleep. We love to turn down service at nice hotels, prepping your bed and sleep gear will help your mindset and prepare your body better to rest throughout the night and wake up ready to tackle the day.

Again, just move and be in your body. It doesn’t have to be some elaborate workout regimen. Commit to taking the stairs in your apartment or office. Personally, I have a 4 flight, 10 block rule (depending on the circumstance, and who I’m with). If where I’m going is 4 flights up or less, or 10 blocks away or less, I try to do it on foot. There may come a time when I am no longer able-bodied or have the choice, and have to take an elevator or grab a ride. So I try to live in the now, appreciating my body’s ability, and enjoy the movement.

Try new things- Embracing an adventurous spirit doesn’t mean you have to eat crickets on a stick from some street vendor, although they are a good source of protein, and if done right, taste like peanuts. Ever try a cauliflower pizza crust? Trader Joe’s one is amazing. I’m not saying don’t go to your favorite pie shop — you need to. Go with friends, make it a memory and an experience, it will make your life better. I’m just saying, there continue to be incredible advancements in the food space, and there are a lot of amazing, great-tasting, better-for-you options out there now that you can get creative and adventurous with.

Support- We’re in this life and GET to live it together with friends, family, and loved ones. Utilize them. Tell people you need help or motivation, or just need to bounce some choices off them. At the very least, it will help you process your circumstance better by just verbalizing it. That openness will also help strengthen relationships, promoting a greater sense of community and purpose.

Perspective- I know it’s a little easier said than done, but if we can shift our perspectives to view life as a set of opportunities vs. challenges, then we can be empowered and not victimized. I once heard co-workers say, “Whoever brought that fudge into the office needs to get fired. There is no way I can make it through my day without wrecking my diet.” To that, I would suggest, your diet is not the goal. It’s not who you are. Behavior management will fail you every time. To feel better, to be more active, to be healthier and have a better approach to overall wellness, those are goals. Apologies if this sounds too meta, but that fudge gives you that opportunity to be who you want to be. You have the power and the ability to showcase discipline and move one step closer to that goal. Again, if it’s about celebration, making memories, and living experiences, that is a totally different decision tree. On the day to day though, the perspective of, I simply don’t have to, I have an option here, and I have an opportunity to be empowered in what I’m trying to achieve, has help me through a lot of decisions that would have ultimately derailed me from the path I was on. For me, those opportunity-choices then start to become the new baseline for my life and lifestyle. I’ve gotten past that situation or circumstance and then know- hey, I’m just not the fudge at the office kind of guy, and can move on that much easier next time. I promise that will make you feel so much better than a piece fudge ever will, mentally, emotionally and physically.

As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?

I think part of the reason, if not the reason why we are all here together, is to share, learn, and help/promote each other along our own individual paths. If you are not taking care of yourself, it’s going to be really hard to try and take care of anyone else. Getting into your own body and exercising regularly is proven to provide more energy throughout your day, relieve stress, and promote productivity among countless other benefits. Who doesn’t want to be, or be around, an energetic, stress-free, productive person…? It will make life better for all of us.

Those 3 aside, one of the top benefits of exercise for me is inspiration. Even if you are in this world for yourself, or just in a time that is hyper focused on a singular goal or achievement, exercise will give the space to step away from your situation, reflect on it and potentially see it from a new angle. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a spin class, lifting weights, or paddling back out to get another wave, and without even trying, the answers and ideas just show up. Typically, I’m trying hard to resolve something, and just need a mental break from what I’m working on, but because I’m focused on proper form, or breathing, or not dropping an 80lb weight on my head; the perfect marketing campaign, strategic partnership, or weekend family adventure comes rushing in. This ultimately gets me motivated and more excited about the task at hand.

For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?

I think it’s up to the individual and needs to be assessed on a case by case basis. It gets back to what your goals are and how aggressively you want to achieve them. Some of us have gotten a few bumps and bruises over the years as well, so we kind of need to play to our strengths. A knee scope from a football injury and a torn rotator cuff from throwing my kids in the air for the past 6 years have forced me to work smarter and not harder. If I could bench press and power-cling every day for the rest of my life, I would be a happy camper, but in my quest for health and wellness, I would end up doing more harm than good if that was my approach. For me, yoga has become a necessity. It’s something I would recommend to anyone wanting to feel better in their daily lives. We sit in our cars on our hour-long commutes, then sit at desks all day long only to get back in our cars to go home and sit on the couch. The majority of us are so hunched over and collapsed, it’s no wonder why we hurt and want nothing to do with physical activity. In my experience, yoga has the power to correct years of poor posture, and ailments from daily habits, like sore backs, stiff necks, and tight hips. If you happen to be more active though, the flexibility, balance, and body/muscle awareness will help take your game to the next level. In most cases, it will help prevent injuries as well or at least help you get back faster if you do get injured. Other than that, I would say you need to mix in a good portion of cardio and resistance training. The cardio is going to make your heart healthy while managing weight. In a like manner, resistance training (weights, bands, or body) will build muscle, raise your metabolism/manage weight, help defined your physique, and make you harder to box out in the paint. All will help with mental focus, emotional/stress relief, and help build longevity.

In my experience, many people begin an exercise regimen but stop because they get too sore afterward. What ideas would you recommend to someone who plays sports or does heavy exercise to shorten the recovery time, and to prevent short term or long term injury?

As we just talked about, stretching is key. The sourness comes from the build-up of lactic acids in your muscles. The more and harder you workout, the more lactic acid is produced and the more soar you are going to feel. Properly warming your muscles up before exercising, and then stretching before and after will help bring more blood flow and oxygen to your muscles and help rid them of the lactic acid that makes you soar. Other keys are, staying hydrated, taking appropriate rest between each exercise, fueling your body before and after your workouts, something with protein and plenty of magnesium…. Something like macadamia nuts…. Aside from that, there are some interesting discoveries in the use of CDB post-workout that is very compelling, but I think that maybe an interview for someone else… ha.

There are so many different diets today. Can you share what kind of diet you follow? Which diet do you recommend to most of your clients?

There isn’t really one specific diet I follow. I try to eat as clean as possible, meaning no processed foods, organic when available, low carb, low sugar, higher protein, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Like I said before, I feel this life is for living, and exploring new foods and flavors is a bit of a passion for me, but there are a time and place for that. I’ve had a Cronut. It was great, but at this point, I don’t think I’ll ever need another one. I’m also in the middle of a seven day cleanse, where I’m only drinking shakes made mostly out of sunflower seeds. Those aren’t as great. One isn’t because of the other, but they do work together to make up a holistic approach to life and nutrition. If we can see food as fuel, I think it will change our eating habits. Getting back to the opportunity thing, outside of foodie adventures, we have the ability to put things in our bodies that we know are going to make us feel better, make us stronger, and will help us live longer. Those options are literally a button on your phone away, so you can start taking advantage of those opportunities now.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

Not as it pertains to health and wellness per se, but I found Shoe Dog, Nike founder Phil Knight’s memoir, super inspiring. It has a great message of perseverance and not giving up on your dreams. Open, Andre Agassi’s autobiography was a really great read as well. To hear some of the stories of how he reached greatness, fell from that pedestal, realized what he had lost, and made specific choices to climb back up again, gave me a great perspective on talent vs. hard work, and how one will only get you so far.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Wow- I don’t really see myself that way at all, but if we could all just start using our turn signals, I think the world would be a better place…. Joking. Geeze, I don’t know, it’s starting to get pretty ethereal when you head down that path. I guess just being kind to people. Treating humans like humans. Understanding that most people have the same finances, family, job, time and balancing issues you do, and there’s probably some way, shape, or form you can make it better or support them in the process. At least for a little bit.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

Well- it’s actually one that I made up when I was about 24 when I realized I needed to start making real adult decisions while still staying true to who I was (read: don’t sell-out).

“Try to live life with the wisdom of your 75-year-old self, but in a way, your 18-year-old self would still be proud.”

That obviously has implications in every facet of my life, from fashion and the car I drive to business decisions and parenting approaches. You are going to have to make concessions, it can’t always be your way or the highway. Along the way, you do mature and gain a better understanding of the world. Your tastes change, however as long as you know why you are making the choice you are making, and acting with purpose and intent, I think the younger you would be really proud of who you’ve become.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

It would have to be breakfast for sure, I’m a sucker for a good espresso and breakfast burritos. As far as who it’s with, that’s a good question. I think there are some top-line folks in business like Warren Buffet that I would love to try and trade some mac nuts or surf-lessons for some stock tips…. (so yeah tag him- Warren I got a wetsuit with your name on it), or Tim Cook to hear his personal story about taking over for an icon, having to live up to the hype, and ultimately becoming an icon himself, or Gary Vaynerchuk, he’s had this cool arch as a businessman that wanted to take over the world (or at least the Jets), but has become much more altruistic in his approach, which has actually made him more endearing and more successful. Those guys are on such a different level though, I’m not really sure I would even understand half the stuff we would talk about. But if we are gonna go to a different level, I think there would be something pretty cool about sitting down with Mamma Opes herself- (Oprah) I think we would make each other laugh a lot. She started life with nothing but a bucket of pain, and has literally earned the world. And so far, now that she owns the world, she seems to still have a really good grounded perspective on how it all works. I would love to hear about her approach and thought process. Yeah, that would be a crazy breakfast.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Well — up until recently I’ve really tried to have a pretty small social media footprint, sorry Gary V. I understand the importance from a brand standpoint (business and personal), but for me I don’t need the pressure, the chase, or the time vacuum. I would rather have real connections, with real people, that are going to make a real difference. That said, I have been known to post on LinkedIn from time to time, which feels more legit as a pure business tool, than getting caught up watching a boomerang of what some celebrity’s acai bowl in Barbados looks like (not sure they have acai in Barbados, but you get the point). But please check our brands out, we’re always running some fun giveaways, and there is some incredible photography from friend and colleague Adam Guy- @adamandcamera.

Insta

@RoyalHawiianOrchards

@MacFarms

Facebook

@RoyalHawiianOrchards

@MacFarmsLLC

LinkIn

Royal Hawiian Orchards

MacFarms

KC Blinn

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

Mahalo!

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