Have you ever wondered about the different ways that you can improve your health? In this episode, Camille welcomes Mike Lee, a former professional boxer and the co-founder of Soul CBD, which provides natural, doctor-formulated products to help you thrive in mind, body, and soul.
Mike shares his journey of being a professional athlete to being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in the middle of his career and how he founded Soul CBD to help others also manage their chronic pain. He also shares his advice on the importance of wellness and sleep and taking care of yourself.
Whether you’re struggling with a chronic disease or are just interested in finding healthier alternatives, tune into this episode to hear Mike’s tips on the steps that you too can take to have a healthy life.
MIKE LEE [0:00]
I think when you are in chronic pain, it's tough to keep that hope. And hope is one of the most incredible tools that we have as human beings to keep pushing forward.
CAMILLE WALKER [0:16]
So, you want to make an impact. You're thinking about starting a business sharing your voice. How do women do it that handle motherhood, family, and still chase after those dreams? We'll listen each week as we dive into the stories of women who know. This is Call Me CEO.
Welcome back everyone to Call Me CEO. This is your host, Camille Walker. And today is special because we are hearing from a man. I know I generally speak to the girls. But every once in a while, we get lucky and we hear something really extra special.
And I know you're going to love today's episode because we're talking about the importance of wellness, about sleep, anxiety, and how to live a healthier life. We are here with Mike Lee, who is the co-founder of Soul, which is a CBD and holistic approach to health that he started with his sister.
So, thank you so much for being on the call today, Mike. So excited to hear from you.
Yeah. Thank you for having me. I feel honored now, especially with that intro.
I know. I've had a couple of people join us from the Dave Ramsey team, a few men have joined us from there, a couple of couples together from Ireland and different places around the world. But really, it's pretty rare. So, this is special. Tell our audience about yourself and where you live and a little bit more about you.
Yeah. So, I currently live in Austin, Texas. We moved here from California a few months ago, I think like a lot of people. So, it feels a little unoriginal when I say that here in Austin. But I was a professional athlete for almost a decade. I was a boxer. So, I had a really long career.
I was born and raised in Chicago, started fighting at a young age of eight years old, and just worked my way up through the amateurs. And then at 21, had the opportunity to turn pro and it just started taking off. And I'm super grateful for that.
But obviously, with a long career as an athlete came a lot of pain and a lot of stress. But being in that position on a world stage in my 20s really taught me a lot. In the middle of my career, it was about 2013, I was 12 and 0, undefeated, on top of the world. I just had a big fight at Madison Square Garden in New York. I had a Superbowl commercial. I felt like I was on top of the world.
I started getting really, really sick. And my world changed pretty drastically. I spent the next 18 months in and out of hospitals battling what we later found out was an autoimmune disease. And so, it was a long, tough journey for me to not only get back in the ring, but also just get back to a point mentally and physically to where I felt like I could have my life back.
And so, at that point in my life, I'm 25 years old. I'm lying in hospital beds. And ironically, I'm seeing myself on TV here and there and wondering little did people know how much I was suffering. And so, through that process, I was on eight different medications at one point. And it really changed me as a human being.
But I think all that pain brought a lot of gifts, one being the company that I ended up starting with my sister. But ultimately, one of the main gifts is I realized that I want the rest of my life to be about helping other people get out of pain. Anytime that you're in a significant amount of pain and you deal with chronic pain, whether it be autoimmune or what have you, it can be a really lonely place. And so, going through this pain is not only through Soul, but through speaking and any other remedies that I have.
It's propelled my mission and purpose in life to no longer be about me, me, me, and ego and more about helping other human beings get out of pain because it's something that I can truly empathize with. So, yeah, that was really the birth of the company. I ended up retiring from sports in 2020. And now, just working on healing and helping other people heal.
Wow. What an interesting life path. I feel like we just watched a reel of your life, so to speak, of going through preparing as a professional athlete and then being in a hospital bed seeing yourself on television. That is so bizarre. And I'm sure many people who are in positions of power and influence do go through experiences of massive amounts of pain, whether it be physical, emotional, or combined.
In fact, I just watched the documentary of Selena Gomez with Me and My Mind, I think is what it's called, Me, My Mind and Myself, something like that. And she is dealing with autoimmune and lupus and going through a lot of pain. And a lot of it is induced with stress.
And so, I think that that's really fascinating that it's this, so much that we're going through emotionally, especially post-pandemic, that that was such a wonderful time for you to come to the world with this product because I feel like Western medicine needs to change because there is so much going on that we don't understand. So, how were you able to navigate that place of being in pain and finding solutions that were able to get you off of all of those medications?
Yeah. It was a slow process. And the way I always tell people is it's a giant puzzle. And CBD, for instance, which helped me with anxiety was part of the puzzle, but it's never the entire thing. So, I never like to demonize Western medicine. I think that there's a time and place for prescriptions. I know that firsthand.
But what I like to do is encourage people to open up their tool belt. There are so many other modalities that are low risk, high reward that really help. And I know a lot of your audience is moms that are juggling a million different things. And I think it's important to realize that stress and being in fight or flight and in that autonomic nervous system will only exacerbate symptoms, whether it be autoimmune or whatnot.
So, you often find that high performers and people who have a lot of stress, whether it be business and kids and juggling all these different things, you need to find moments in your life and things in your life that get you into that parasympathetic state.
So, for instance, for me, I really got into breathwork. And I know it's very common to talk about breath work, whether you're doing holotropic with an instructor and it's very intense 45-minute session or a quick small breakdown, for instance.
There's a breathing technique developed by Dr. Andrew Weil known as the 4-7-8 technique that we used to do back in the dressing room before every single fight. And it really helped me to this day as an entrepreneur and just getting stressed. Essentially, it's very simple, you inhale through your nose for four seconds, you hold that breath for seven seconds, and then you exhale for eight seconds, loud, slow, audibly. So, 4-7-8. And doing a series of those, maybe three or four, is proven to slow down your heart rate, regulate your nervous system, bring your cortisol down, and get you into a little more parasympathetic.
So, the reason I give that specific example is because when you're in that much pain and you know the ninth medication isn't the answer, you start to turn to other modalities. And so, breath work, nutrition, and then supplementation to help with my anxiety started to really have a trickledown effect on my symptoms. And while I'm still not 100%, I'm out of those hospital beds and so much farther than where I've been in and currently off all those medications. And so, I just try to encourage people to look for low-risk, high-reward solutions.
I noticed that you have a product that is for focus. Is that something that was designed to help people with ADHD? Who is that geared towards specifically?
Yeah, great question. And we call that product Big Brain. My sister who's my co-founder, her name is Angie. Go check her out on social. She's definitely the more fun sibling. She's our CFO, our chief fun officer. She just loves comedy and is always goofy.
But what comes with that amazing brain is that she has dealt with ADHD for a long time. In fact, we went to the Amen Clinics, both of us, to get our brains scanned, me for concussion issues and her for ADHD. And they found a lot of wild things in her brain.
And so, we worked with a couple of doctors to help formulate a product that we felt like it was a natural solution outside of Adderall for that focus. And so, we add a bunch of adaptogens and nootropics in there, like lion's mane, like Reishi, and so a bunch of different mushroom compounds. In fact, I took some today. It's actually my favorite product that we have to be quite honest because it gives you a little bit of a boost without all the jitters that has that same caffeine.
So, whether it's our product or another one, I really encourage people with ADHD to try to look towards the nootropic, the adaptogen route because there are some really good natural solutions. But, yeah, once again, that pain point was why we decided to create those products typically.
Yeah. I'm curious about that specifically because if any of you are listening and have had children with ADHD, the drugs are really hard to come by right now. There's a huge shortage. I actually did an episode on that with the president of the ADHD Foundation and it was this whole thing. But is it safe for kids to take or teenagers or is it only for adults at this point?
So, legally, I'm not a doctor and legally, unfortunately, the way it works in the supplement world with the FDA.
You cannot give recommendations.
Right. But I will say and you can see this from all the testimonials on our website, we have over 7,000 5-star reviews that we do have teens and younger kids that are taking our product and moms that support it and moms that are finding really good results.
We have funny testimonials come in that's like, "My son can finally concentrate or I feel like he's got his life back." And I think it gets down to the basics, which I'm sure we'll get into. It's not only products like this, but just getting good sleep, getting good nutrition, all the things I'm sure you're aware of as a mom and how important those fundamentals are for children as they're growing.
Yeah. It's interesting too because it's been on such a shortage. There have been times that we'll say, "Okay. Only take your medication on the weekday. And on the weekend, we'll focus on doing some other things." So, if you're listening to this and thinking this, this could just be another, like you say, tool in the tool belt that you could try because I certainly am curious about that to see if that could be a good solution.
And I'd love to hear the perspective of my oldest that's 15 is actually into boxing and just started it recreationally this year and that was actually something that he was interested in. And we really as parents wanted him to find something that he could physically be involved in to help regulate emotions and to help him to stay more mentally stable.
What was it about boxing or staying motivated as a kid that gave you that oomph to become this huge star? What was it? Maybe it was naturally in you, but I'm just really curious about your experience as a kid. And then also, fighting literally on a world stage, what was the process of that like?
I love competing and I love boxing. And I do think that as an athlete, there were some things that I was just born with. There is that aspect of it in terms of hand-eye coordination, strength, and speed.
However, to become one of the best in the world and I was fighting the best in the world for titles and you find that everybody's strong, everybody's fast, it really comes down to the mindset. And I saw that firsthand in a bunch of different friends that performed at a high level.
Ironically, now that I look back on my career and I'm 35 years old and I can have an honest assessment of myself and why I got into it, I realized that I got into sports and became one of the best athletes in the world really because I felt like I wasn't good enough. And I think it's a double-edged sword in terms of I felt like nothing was ever enough.
And I was constantly searching for love from my father at the time. And how I got love, I felt like was through winning. And so, it was a pattern in my life in terms of working hard and getting better and winning and winning. And I found that not only my dad, but I was receiving love through that identity of being a boxer and winning.
The problem is when you tie your own self-worth and your own accomplishments to a win that's contingent on an accomplishment rather who you are innately as a person, it becomes really difficult when you retire.
The last few years, to be honest, had been very difficult because my entire identity was surrounded around boxing. And so, you wonder who am I? Am I enough? Will I be loved without being on TV and sports?
And so, I do think there's an ironic twist of what made me such a great athlete was feeling like I was never enough and it wasn't enough. So, in a way, it was a blessing because my motivation and drive was just unparalleled, but it also was kind of deep rooted.
And so, I know when I have future kids that I definitely want to put them in sports that they want to do for the right reasons and let them know and what I wish I was told to be honest was that you are enough. Whether you win or lose that you are enough and you can encourage winning without a doubt.
I think it's important to strive to be the best you can be, but letting your kids know that they are enough, win or lose, and let them pursue the things that they truly love because I do feel like maybe that wasn't something that I received. So, I think once came through that pain, I learned a valuable lesson that I'll take on when raising my future kids one day.
Mm-hmm. That's so personal and raw. Thank you for sharing that. Do you think that you would have continued boxing if you did know those things? Do you think you would have continued to push yourself to the level you did?
No. I don't think so. I shattered my hand at my fight at Madison Square Garden. I broke my rib in the second round of a big title fight in Chicago in front of 10,000 people, went eight more rounds with a broken rib. I somehow won the fight. I finished the interview in the ring, went back to the dressing room, and my adrenaline wore off. I collapsed and they rushed me to the hospital. I'm in the hospital bed until 4 AM and then negotiating my next title fight.
I think I was on autopilot. And I was constantly searching for that dopamine hit and that love that maybe I felt like I didn't get or didn't deserve or whatever it was. So, looking back now, I do think I would have retired earlier than I did retire. I don't regret anything. I don't regret my career. And I think it was an incredible ride. And I got to do and accomplish some amazing things, but hindsight is 20/20 in terms of looking back and seeing what you would do.
Yeah. I've been listening to this story and now seeing the product and the company that you're building here and I think what a beautiful result of years of pain and looking for that validation and that achievement.
What are some of the stories or maybe reward moments where you've been able to help other people, even yourself to get over that pain and to help alleviate those really strong symptoms of anxiety and/or pain?
Yeah. I'm just grateful and proud that I was able to get off of antidepressants. I was on Lexapro for years and anti-anxiety medications like lorazepam and whatnot and even painkillers. So, for me, it's a personal accomplishment because I know how hard it is to get off of those and wean off of them. To be able to find natural solutions to start to wean off of it was massive for me. And it felt like it finally gave me some autonomy or some control in my life, so to speak, that I wasn't so reliant on this pill.
But in terms of other people, it's incredible. The DMs that I get from people not only taking Soul and finally getting sleep when they couldn't or dealing with anxiety, but also, hearing my story. I've been very public about plant medicine as well.
I was just on a big ESPN E60 documentary where a handful of professional athletes are part of a clinical trial of psilocybin mushrooms. There were doctors and a whole team there looking into what happened to your brain and the neuroplasticity that's created to help with concussions and depression and whatnot. And that just aired a few weeks ago, something I had to be really open and vulnerable with.
But my point in telling that little tidbit is that from that feature and a few other things, I get so many people that DM me saying, "Thank you. I felt hopeless and hearing your story, I feel heard. And I'm going to look into X, Y, and Z."
And I feel like there is hope because I think when you are in chronic pain, it's tough to keep that hope. And hope is one of the most incredible tools that we have as human beings to keep pushing forward. So, on a personal note, that's really what I get fulfillment out of is feeling like I'm in a very small sense instilling hope in a handful of people.
Yeah. And I applaud you too for being so forthcoming about your struggles as a man and talking about emotions and talking about anxiety and having pain because I think that traditionally or culturally, that's not something that a lot of men get to see or experience or hear from role models that they have.
And I have three sons and I want them to be able to look to men that they see on the TV and know that they're human and that they have emotions too. And they need to work through hard things. So, I think that that is such a gift, even that piece alone.
Yeah. And that's awesome that you already are thinking that way as a mom of boys because for me growing up and starting fighting at eight years old, vulnerability was weakness. And I now see vulnerability as an incredible strength.
And so, it's once again something I wish I knew early on is that you have to flex that muscle as well. Just like I was working out and flexing the other muscles, flexing the emotional regulation muscle, which means understanding your anxiety and getting therapy at a young age and talking to your friends and your family about things that you're going through is something that was foreign to me.
So, I do think this generation is learning more and more that doesn't have to be that old school to be a man, you have to sweep everything under the rug and be tough and not show vulnerability. I just think it's the opposite now. I think to be a true masculine figure, you need to show vulnerability and show that you can get through it. So, it's been a big realization for me this past decade, I'd say for sure.
Yeah. So, if you were to wrap this up, I know we've gone over so many different ways of helping you to go through that journey of getting through your anxiety and your pain and everything else. What are the fundamental must haves that helped you to go through the process of releasing some of those medications and finding your way through to the more holistic side?
Yeah, without a doubt. So, I think like I mentioned earlier, the foundations are really important. My diet was massive. So, for me personally, once I started to cut out gluten and dairy and a lot of grains, I know for a lot of autoimmune people, anytime that you are high in fat, high in protein, lower in carbs, that generally helped me, so that's one thing for me specifically.
But diet in general, sleep was massive. So, understanding that you spend a third of your life sleeping and to get proper good sleep, not just sleeping, but getting the proper REM cycles and recovery is massive, not just for athletes, but for all walks of life.
And then, CBD being a massive part for me as well simply because it helped me with that trickledown effect, like I said, and getting out of constant anxiety. I take CBD now every single day. Zero THC personally, not that THC works for a lot of people, but CBD is non-psychoactive. So, for me, I like to be alert, I like to be focused, but I also don't like to be strung out and constantly in fight or flight, which for me as an athlete, I was so used to.
So, I think those were the big tools that really moved the needle for me. And then, just a curiosity and constantly trying out new things that are low risk, high reward and trying to find partner supplement brands that are doing the proper third-party lab testing. They're showing their lab results on the website and you feel a trust connection with that brand. Because unfortunately in today's age, there's a lot of BS out there when it comes to the supplement industry. But, yeah, those are some of the main things that helped me and continue to help me.
Yeah. I love that and I think you hit on a really important point with the THC and if it's non-psychotropic. Will you go through that a little bit, just so people understand what that means and the product? Because a lot of people when they heard CBD, they're like, "Oh, you're going to get high." I know I hear people talk that way. So, talk us through that just a little bit, so we have an understanding.
Of course. So, CBD and THC are two different compounds that are found in the plant. We derive everything from hemp. And hemp is a plant that's very high in CBD and low in THC. And then, you have marijuana, which is very high in THC and low in CBD, so the reverse.
But what's important about CBD in particular and other compounds and cannabinoids that are in the plant is that they're not psychoactive. So, they have all the anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety. They activate your what's known as an endocannabinoid system, which all mammals have. It's why it's interesting. CBD works really well on dogs and cats as well. But it activates your endocannabinoid system to put your nervous system into homeostasis to regulate yourself.
Now, THC activates a little bit differently in these different receptors in your body and will give you a psychoactive element. So, you'll get high, you'll feel a little bit of that. So, when you see certain products, it's important that you know the difference between a full-spectrum product, which will have THC, a broad-spectrum, which a lot of our products are, which is the other cannabinoids, but no THC.
So, for instance, we have a sleep product. It's our number one seller by far. People really, really gravitate towards it. It has CBD, CBN, which is cannabinol, another compound that helps for sleep, but will not get you high and has zero THC.
The third bucket is CBD isolate, which is only CBD. And we have some products like that as well that we extract from the plant that's only isolate. So, when you're looking at full-spectrum, yes, it will have CBD in it. The THC will also be in it and maybe that's for you. But if it's not, make sure that you know that going into it looking at which companies. So, I hope that helps give a picture there.
Yeah. No. I think that that's great. And what I love about it too is that we are learning more about this and that there are products that are coming available. We were talking briefly that you were saying maybe we might create products for nursing or pregnant mothers or for children. And I think that's awesome.
I think that it's great that you're asking the questions and creating alternatives and saying these are all resources and there are options available to help people to feel healthy and whole. And I really appreciate your candor and that you were able to tell us your story and to tell us about this wonderful company that you've created.
Thank you. I really appreciate that.
Cool. We will put all of the links in the description below. And please tell our audience where they can find you and your company.
Yeah. So, we're www.getsoul.com and Instagram and TikTok handles @get.soul. We're really active. And I'm really proud of our customer service team. And Angie and myself are in there in the DMs, so please reach out. My handle is @officialmike lee and my sister's is @angieleeshow. So, we'd love to hear from you, whether it's CBD or breathwork or anything, any questions that you have.
Awesome. Thank you so much.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode. If you are interested in any of the Soul products, you can use the discount code below to get a discount on all of your items. Thank you again for listening and we hope to see you next week.
Hey, CEOs. Thank you so much for spending your time with me. If you found this episode inspiring or helpful, please let me know in a comment in a 5-star review. You could have the chance of being a featured review on an upcoming episode. Continue the conversation on Instagram @callmeceopodcast. And remember, you are the boss.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.