Meagan Talks Morning Cocktails, Workplace Donuts & Belonging
6 Minute Read: Women in business, breast cancer, holistic medicine, integrative medicine, morning routine, healing elixir.
I first interviewed Meagan O’Leary last July, when she shared her holistic, whole-team approach to healing from breast cancer. Definitely do check that post for some backstory!!
Meagan remains one of my clients, and I’m thrilled to again feature her in this space! She’s truly an inspiration!!
Below, she shares the “secret” ingredients of her morning cocktail…plus talks about inclusivity, diversity, and saying No to donuts in the workplace. Enjoy!
Tell us about your morning cocktail! What can't you start your day without?
Over the past several years, I shifted from being an evening person to a morning person. I used to go to bed 11pm-ish and would sleep in as late as possible while still making it to work on time.
Now, I go to bed early – usually before 9pm – and my goal is to sleep 7 to 8 hours a night. In the morning, I wake up a good 3 hours before I have to leave my house for work. This is morning cocktail time!
I have come to call my morning routine my morning cocktail for a couple of reasons. First, I stopped drinking alcohol when I learned I had breast cancer, and I have as much fun during my morning routine as I once had having a cocktail in the evening.
Second, the components of my morning routine are like the ingredients in a cocktail – it is the combination that makes it perfect. Here you go!
15 minutes of photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) from Joovv, with red and near infrared wavelengths while also standing on a vibration plate. I do this with as much skin showing as possible to absorb as much light as possible, and I turn every few minutes to make sure I get coverage on my entire body. It is important to note that there are a few papers suggesting that photobiomodulation can be detrimental in animal subjects with tumors, but there are as many papers suggesting the opposite is true and that PBMT can directly damage tumors, enhance other cancer therapies, and stimulate the immune system. Clinical trials have also shown increased survival in cancer patients who receive PBMT. I use PBMT to help with lymphatic drainage due to the removal of several lymph nodes from under my arms, as well as to stimulate my immune system, reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, and increase cellular respiration (ATP). I use the vibration plate to stimulate lymphatic drainage while increasing my strength and flexibility. Both of these devices offer many other benefits, motivating me to make them part of my morning.
5 – 10 minutes upside down on my Teeter Table. This is to decompress my body and because I feel great when I do it. It took me several months to build up to 10 minutes on the table, but now I have to set a timer or I’ll go too long!
Ozone therapy. This is to increase oxygenation of my cells since cancer grows in a poorly oxygenated body, as well as to build my immune system, reduce acidity in my body, kill unwanted viruses/bacteria, and increase energy production in my cells. You need a doctor’s prescription to obtain medical-grade oxygen; a generator is available online without a prescription.
7 – 30 minutes of movement. For this, I use the 8 Fit and Workout for Women iPhone apps, or I cycle in Qigong from this skilled teacher. Two times a week, I cycle in strength training with weights.
Alien shake. I have an “alien shake” made up of 10 different vegetables in very small amounts. These are vegetables I don’t eat on a regular basis. I blend them with unsweetened macadamia nut milk and drink them as a prebiotic for gut health and to consume diverse vegetables I don’t otherwise get. If you think about our foraging ancestors, they grazed in this way – eating a little of this and a little of that. I don't believe they ate a plate of broccoli!
Forest bathing. Whether in the morning or other times, I also take walks in the woods to build my immune system and T cells.
Oh, and do you want to hear about my evening routine? Maybe next week! :)
Any tips for people who want a simple DIY version?
I suggest folks establish mind, body and spirit goals for themselves and research activities to help them meet their goals.
I invested in various products over the years after researching and talking with folks. It may be that a 7-minute HIIT or Qigong video with 10 minutes of meditation will get you where you want to be.
I also believe it’s important to leverage our mornings by setting an intention and preparing for the day, regardless of when someone starts their morning (for those who like to sleep in a bit more).
You're a director at a big corporation, plus a wife + mom.
How do you make time for self-care?
I am lucky that my son gets up at the same time everyday and catches the bus a few minutes from our house at the same time everyday. My goal is to be with him while he is preparing for school in order to make his lunch and have time together.
My wife has her own morning routine, and we make it a goal to support each other. That said, sometimes I try to talk with her from the other room while she’s meditating…so now she announces she’s starting to make sure she has uninterrupted time :).
how do you say No to the requisite “workplace donuts”?
Oh, the donut announcement email usually goes out once a week. It says: “Donuts outside Meagan's office," since I’m at the end of the hall and there is a table outside my office.
I realize I don’t feel my best when I eat gluten and sugar, so I just don't eat it. I also measure my blood ketones and blood sugar a few times a day; the competitive side of me takes over, which keeps me away from the table!
That said, I can smell them from my office. It’s hard, but I have mastered self-control on this one.
What do diversity + inclusivity mean to you?
how do they impact wellness + self-care?
Diversity, to me, is what makes us all different in the way we look, think or act. Inclusion is how we make room for the differences of others, including being aware of and challenging our own biases.
For me, it comes down to the sense of belonging we feel. There is nothing more detrimental to our health and wellness than missing that sense of belonging, especially in the workplace.
I am particularly aware of individuals’ needs on my team. I make sure to provide the flexibility and balance they require to take care of themselves and their families while still meeting their job requirements. There is nothing more important than taking care of ourselves and having balance in our lives.
You've been writing lots lately! What's your "why" around that?
My favourite class and extra-curricular activity while in school was to write for the newspaper. In fact, in college I wrote for an underground rag that was dropped on corners around campus.
I have always enjoyed writing but in recent years stopped investing the time. When I found out I had cancer and began working through my healing process, I promised myself I would start writing again. My goal is to get an article published on Medium and I am working towards that goal by writing at least two articles a month.
Thank you so much, Meagan! Truly inspiring! We’ll look for your writing…and definitely need a follow-up featuring your evening routine!!