The Lesson Every Olympian Learns After the Olympic Flame Is Extinguished

CESANA PARIOL, ITALY - FEBRUARY 18:  Jeremy Rolleston and Shane McKenzie of Australia compete in the Two Man Bobsleigh event on Day 8 of the 2006 Turin Winter Olympic Games on February 18, 2006 in Cesana Pariol, Italy.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Two-time Olympian and founder of Asian Health Tech Startup Active8me Jeremy Rolleston shares a lesson we can all learn from.

As the action-packed 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo nears an end, I’m reminded exactly why I’m here, in Asia, as the founder of a digital health start-up.

Being a 2x Olympian, I can see there are many parallels between training for an Olympic Games and putting everything on the line in business, but there is one important lesson that continues to drive me to make a positive and profound impact with Active8me. It is the lesson that every Olympian learns when the Olympic flame is extinguished. It’s not just about the performance. It is also about the journey, not the destination. And I am reminded that it’s the same with our fitness, and health and wellness. It’s not just about the ultimate goal. It is about our journey to healthy, active living.

Making healthy, active living accessible to everyone

While I was training for the Olympics, I not only got physically fitter and stronger, I also saw positive effects in the rest of my life. I ate and slept better, and I was healthier and more productive with my limited time. I could approach work and life with more focus, more determination and more energy.  I felt more alive and, significantly, I felt better about myself in general – not just at that highly focused moment when the clock starts, or the starter’s gun is about to go off. 

It has occurred to me that it doesn’t matter if you’re trying to run a company from home, a busy mother home-schooling, or a retired Olympian, everyone deserves to feel that way – all the time. Life is better lived healthily and actively.

Healthy living vs sedentary lifestyle

There’s a myriad of studies that support the use of exercise and nutrition to reduce stress, improve sleep and mood, increase focus and productivity, improve immunity and lower the risk of chronic lifestyle diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension.

Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. There is direct causation that poor diet and sedentary lifestyle leads to chronic lifestyle diseases with the prevalence in Asia growing at an alarming rate. Now, more than ever with a global pandemic threatening life as we know it, it seems we all need help getting this ‘life’ formula right. 

Some scary perspective

Studies have emerged indicating overweight people and those with obesity are at higher risk of complications of Covid-19. On the surface, it would be easy to assume that the majority of the Asian population would be safe from this stat. Unfortunately, obesity amongst Asians is deceiving, with many looking ‘skinny’ but being metabolically obese (BMI>25kg/m). The World Health Organisation estimates that one in five adults in Asia are overweight, citing the key causes being unhealthy diets and lack of exercise. There is a scary paradox of under-nutrition (junk food) and obesity in the same population. 

A convenient lifestyle

The challenges of daily life, family, and work are hard enough to manage when you’re not on top of your health. But I’m also aware that as a society we have all fallen into the convenience trap, myself included! 

With the restrictions of Covid-19 and the rise of home-delivery tech, it’s easier to get takeaway, especially if you don’t know how to cook delicious, nutritious food at home. It’s easier to sit on the couch than to make the effort and get outside for a workout or to press the snooze button because you were up late working. It’s easier to keep doing what you’ve always done. 

What does this mean for living a healthy, active lifestyle amidst the day-to-day reality? It means that healthy living needs to be convenient too. Enter a solution like Active8me. Tools to meet people where they have access, and where they spend most of their time – on their mobile devices. Solutions that are convenient and make our lives easier and better. An all-in-one digital solution, like the Active8me app, leaves no excuses for improving health. 

Why Asia and why now?

It makes good business sense – there is a need and opportunity.

It should be no surprise that Asia is emerging as the leading region in economic growth and development. With that growth comes some interesting health correlations. Asia also has the fastest-growing rate of chronic lifestyle disease. It’s home to over 60% of the world’s type 2 diabetics, and with a large proportion still undiagnosed. These are not exactly statistics you want to claim a gold medal for! 

While I have ardently set out to disrupt the Asian market with a digital health and wellness solution to these chronic lifestyle diseases, it’s the side effect of achieving a healthier, more active society that is the benefit. Asia’s growing economies need a healthy workforce. A healthier workforce will see improvement in productivity bringing with it greater profits. Meaning we all benefit. Health and wellness is smart business!

More than anything Asia deserves an integrated health solution that is backed by research and built specifically for Asian tastes and cultural preferences. While my app’s interface is for end-users, it was important to think more broadly in development. The Active8me platform can be white-labelled, or our APIs integrated for insurers, health providers, and companies to ‘own’ it as their very own wellness program.

CESANA PARIOL, ITALY – FEBRUARY 18: Jeremy Rolleston and Shane McKenzie of Australia compete in the Two Man Bobsleigh event on Day 8 of the 2006 Turin Winter Olympic Games on February 18, 2006 in Cesana Pariol, Italy. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

A solution that can be accessed anywhere AND trusted

Now more than ever, having access to at-home solutions for healthy, active living is imperative to solve this growing health crisis. Along with personal hygiene, remaining fit and healthy is a very good way to build your immunity and stem the risks of Covid-19.

But it has to be a solution that can be accessed anywhere, anytime with proven success strategies. That is, making it both convenient and effective for healthy living. There is also a level of responsibility involved when it comes to health tech. It’s important that users are treated with the respect of scientifically sound strategies and not sold on unsupported and somewhat dangerous ‘health’ claims.

The principles of success that underpin performance at the Olympics are the same principles of success that underpin performance in any part of life. And that is what has been applied in the development of Active8me – the pillars of exercise, nutrition, and mindset combined in a digital solution.

On my journey to the Olympics, I had a personal trainer, a coach, a dietician, and mentors that helped me along the way. Sure, I could’ve had a go on my own, but the chances of success or even making it to the Olympics would have been lower. We all need help for success. 

Hence, I have sought leading experts to curate exercise plans that are accessible to all levels. I’ve worked with dieticians and doctors to formulate healthy, balanced, and delicious meals. I’ve applied psychology and neurolinguistic practices to improve habits and develop changed mindsets and empowered thinking. All customized to meet individual needs and interests, within the palm of their hand. The challenge is getting into their hands and spreading it far and wide!

What does this mean for business?

I’m certain any Startup founder could empathize that the hours of work, dedication to improvement, and continual focus on making your technology the best it can be are not dissimilar to training for the Olympics.

My goal is that Active8me improves the health of millions. To foster prevention rather than cure.

No matter who you are, where in the world you live, or what you do for a living. Healthy, active living has never been more important. You’ll see the pinnacle of this in the Olympic athletes in Tokyo. But never forget that when the flame is extinguished, the realization that every athlete has is that it is just as much about the journey, as the destination.

So, for your own journey, in both your personal and work life, I hope the same lesson proves helpful to keep your own flame alive – get healthy, stay healthy and enjoy the journey! 

Jeremy Rolleston

2 x Olympian and founder CEO Active8me

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