The Future of Women’s Personalized Wellness, Biohacking, & OYA with Dasha Maximov and Marco Derhy
As part of our Series about “Inspiring success stories,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Dasha Maximov. Dasha is a serial entrepreneur, trend-thinker, and self-identified health geek. She is constantly seeking out the intricate intersection of new world advancements with old traditions; this is present even in how she lives — between the United States / Europe and the Dominican Republic. Her passion is to make the seemingly difficult easy — lately, that has been in the health space, an area that eludes so many people but truly does not have to!
Thank you for joining us today, Dasha! Can you briefly outline for our global readers your life’s backstory?
Dasha: Happy to. I graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with an Economics and Decision Science degree and went into management consulting, specializing in mergers and acquisitions. The long hours and constant travel were exhilarating and exhausting, leading to an ulcer at age 24. This prompted a sabbatical to India to learn more about yoga and apprentice at an Ayurvedic hospital. I then returned to work and, with the knowledge of health, started an internal initiative for consultants and accountants, which has since gone global. I decided to leave consulting and enrolled at the University College of London for a master’s program in Neuroscience — a 180-degree turn from business! :) I intended to finish the program and return to private equity, working with companies dealing with cognitive health; however, life had a different plan. During the program, I had a concussion which caused me to have to stop the program. My concussion was so bad that I had 14 months of chronic headaches, depression, anxiety, hormone imbalance, and overall misery. Lab tests, MRIs, and specialists all said I was “fine,” but my symptoms proved otherwise. This led me to decide that I needed to be my own doctor. I ended up going back to basics and focusing on brain health on a cellular level — looking at what was missing and how I could bring it back to equilibrium. Here I entered this world of “biohacking” and personal health. I fell in love immediately with this space and loved how people were willing to do wacky experiments and try crazy things that I would never dream of healing. Some of them work, and others are just fun stories. Because of biohacking, I got my health in order, and now I’m lucky enough to be working on my second venture in this space, all because I was able to heal my brain using the tools available to us (that so many of us do not know about)!
You currently run WhealthCo. What led you to this creation?
Dasha: I was living in the heart of London and running the operations side of a successful health / “biohacking” company when I realized there was not enough information in this space specific to women. I saw a significant gap in the advancements of women’s health because we women have historically been excluded from health studies as we are “difficult.” Now, however, we are in a time of massive expansion in FemTech and women’s health because of advancements with wearables, and laboratory testing, along with a change in the mindset of people from being ‘scared’ to sharing their health to being curious to understand and catch a health ailment before it potentially worsens.
Please share with our readers what WhealthCo is about. What do you do?
Dasha: WhealthCo stands for Women’s Health Community, and the goal is to provide women with access to science-backed, evidence-based information to help them improve their health outcomes. We have an online community with doctors and experts, we host women’s health retreats in the Dominican Republic, and in March 2023, we are launching our first women’s health course led by doctors and experts (see more here), which I’m incredibly excited about. Ultimately, health is NOT that difficult. You just have to do a bit of digging and be CURIOUS about your health journey. Our goal with WhealthCo is to make health fun rather than scary and to provide a community of like-minded women to whom you can ask questions. Perhaps they have already been down that path and helped illuminate something for you! I started this because I didn’t want my only resource to be WebMD. I wanted to hear more from my intelligent friends, doctors, and researchers about what they had done that worked for them!
What has been your greatest challenge so far since you founded WhealthCo? Do you have a story to share about that?
Dasha: Mmm, exciting questions — health challenge or business challenge?
My great health challenge would have been moving down the Dominican Republic and getting used to the pace, food, and lifestyle. It’s been a (good) shock coming down here and realizing that much of the health issues we have in Western, modern society are due to our constant pushing and inability to slow down until we are forced to. We burn the candle at both ends because we don’t have enough time. We rush around and never can truly enjoy the delicious moments with what really matters — our loved ones. Living away from the “rat race” has been a blessing and a challenge to unwind from the pressure I put on myself. It is also what I love to show people when they come down here for our five-day retreats. Each time we have a retreat, I’m constantly reminded and amazed by how healing it is just to BE. Be away from the phone for a day. Be with your loved ones without planning. Be in the moment, giddy, and kiddish without thinking about what others think.
My most significant business challenge with WhealthCo was COVID. We had just started having international chapters in 7 cities worldwide and then had to shut them down because in-person events were not happening. Since then, the biggest challenge has been deciding what to focus on with women’s health. So often, women want to focus on weight loss, hormone health, etc., which — while that is the root cause — is not the real reason. Getting women to dig deeper and find the actual cause (often — not feeling safe, old traumas that have not been overcome, needing to move from a toxic home with mold, or exit a toxic relationship) is sometimes challenging. Sometimes we want the quick fix when in reality, it’s the more significant thing that will give us the lasting fix.
You are a Biohacker! That sounds like something quite significant. Please share with us what biohacking entails.
Dasha: Haha, sure! It’s a fancy-sounding term, isn’t it? Essentially, it means taking control of your health and becoming the captain of your ship. Sure, you’ll listen to the advice of others, but ultimately YOU are the one who is taking the supplements, doing the workout, and eating/ not eating foods. Biohacking is a term coined in Silicon Valley (the land of techies) to “hack” your biology — “hack” the computer of your body to make it more efficient. Practically, this means figuring out what works for YOU and only YOU. I’m a woman in my thirties. Given my genetics, health history, workout regime, where I live, etc., my needs are unique to me and only me. This means that my health needs are going to be different.
- Perhaps I need to eat certain foods during my menstrual cycle’s luteal (second) phase.
- Perhaps I should have a specific time of breathwork I need to do to calm my nervous system down.
- Perhaps I need to be climbing into an ice bath to reduce the inflammation from the numerous brain injuries I had in my twenties.
- Perhaps I need to take more omega 3 and lion’s mane to help support my brain health.
All of these things are “biohacks.” They are all things I do to give myself more energy, reduce inflammation, and decline my rating of aging. Biohacking can involve a lot of technology but does not necessarily have to. Technology such as wearables helps to give us some more information as to whether your tests are working well or not. For example, a continuous glucose monitor (such as Veri) will show you exactly how your body is reacting to your foods or stress. It’s an amazing quantitative measure, but you also, over time can learn to tune and intuitively feel your glucose levels. If you are curious to learn about CGMs and their potential benefit, check out Dasha’s post here.
You’ll be leading the biohacking department for OYA, and from your perspective, how exciting is this experience?
Dasha: I’m thrilled at the potential with OYA. I see this as a bigger extension of our work at WhealthCo, which genuinely excites me. I love the idea of various resorts worldwide with a biohacking/health center component. I genuinely see health as a critical component of our happiness. Ask anyone who is not healthy what they focus on — and it’s usually their ailment. If you are fit with energy and vitality — you can have time for projects, kids, grandkids, ideas, and more. The idea of fusing a retreat space, a coliving space, a healing space, and a member’s platform is just so brilliant and allows people to heal, travel, and meet new people simultaneously. I’m also excited about the prospect of continuing to share the beauty and healing powers of the natural elements. Each of these locations (and especially DR — but I may be biased, haha) offers people the opportunity to really unplug. We all need that now after 2+ years of constantly being on our computers and disconnected from the healing frequencies of nature.
I’m sure you have a lot to share about “OYA.” How did you meet Mayan and Michala Metzler?
Dasha: We met in the Dominican Republic, where I live half the year. Someone had passed my contact to Michala months before, saying, “you have to meet Dasha,” but it just wasn’t the right time. Fast forward a few months, and I had just flown back from a conference in the US. I was exhausted, without a voice, and my boyfriend at the time told me, “no, you must come out tonight; they are leaving the next day, and you have to meet these people.” I went over that night, and Michala and I, somehow, even without a voice, figured out that our paths were perfect puzzle pieces for each other! Mayan and Michala had the infrastructure but needed someone who knew the biohacking space, and here we are today, co-creating a beautiful vision!
What more can you share with us about OYA?
Dasha: Perhaps not about OYA, but more about the wellness travel space… I’ve been involved in the biohacking and wellness tourism space for a bit now, and I love this space. I love how it brings active, curious people who want to live life with zest. Could you do biohacking in your hometown? Of course, but it’s just not the same. Remember… “an organism cannot get healthy in the environment where it got sick.” It’s just NOT possible. So, coming away on an adventure is a way to kickstart that healing journey. Plus, there’s something about coconut trees, waterfalls, beaches, and the tropics that just screams health and relaxation.
Are there any particular personal projects you’re currently working on? Would you like to share?
Dasha: Yes — the women’s wellness and biohacking course, which you can find here! This course kickstarts in March 2023. Each week is led by a new doctor/expert in women’s health. I’m very excited to bring the latest in women’s science with practical tips. The doctors are people I admire, and I’m honored that they see the value of getting this information out to people. We’ll be talking about topics such as fasting for your cycle, skin care throughout each decade, sexual health (the things that we really want to know), what we should be taking to promote longevity, gut health and gut detox, and more!
I created this course as a 101 on biohacking and personalized wellness for women. So, if you’ve wanted to take control but don’t know where to start — this is it! Start here, and follow the doctors who really understand what they are talking about instead of following random folks and influencers on Instagram, haha!
Do you have a favorite “life lesson” or quote that profoundly impacted your life? Please share with us.
Dasha: “You can’t dance at all the parties” — a quote that recently came into my life and resonated with me. I’m a person who wants to do it ALL. I’m constantly saying “yes,” and in doing so, I think I’m doing a good job, but in truth, I’m shooting myself in the foot. We have a society that breeds FOMO and always desires to have more, do more, and be more. While this is a good motivator, it can lead someone (like me) to a feeling of exhaustion trying to do it all. I realize now the “greats” are the ones who know how to make a decision and choose which party is most vital for them to dance at. Perhaps you could join two parties in one night, but trying to join ten is going to be overkill and breeds rushing and not truly being there in the now and leaving space for the magic to come along.
Some of our readers are potential biohackers. What are the “secrets to success” for those hoping to learn and take a similar career path?
Dasha: There are many, but I’ll name my top three here.
First — as a biohacker, health becomes a lifestyle and a journey for you. Sometimes you are on the up-and-up, and sometimes you are at the beginning of a metal chelation, and you feel horrendous and alone. Know that health requires friends and a community. Find your tribe that you can lean on and call at 3 am. Loneliness is an epidemic more enormous than any pandemic right now. Loneliness has been proven to affect the effectiveness of pharmaceutical drugs and supplements negatively.
Second — find your “why.” Why are you biohacking? What is your motivation? An external motivation is a good one, but an internal motivation will be a greater one! Regardless of what it is, ask yourself that because it will dictate where you will go with this. If biohacking is primarily for how you look to others, you’ll surround yourself with one crowd of biohackers; if biohacking is more about energy to run after your great-grandkids, you’ll go down different “rabbit holes” of biohacking :)
Third — get your sleep in order. Regardless of the above, if your sleep is out of order, the rest of your health will be out of order. No ifs, and, or buts. This idea of “sleep when I’m dead” is erroneous on so many levels, as is going into a sleep deficit and trying to make it up later! Consistent good quality and quality of sleep are critical for all bodily functions.
Understanding that none of us can achieve success without a bit of help, is there a particular person you are grateful to, someone who helped get you to where you are?
Dasha: The person who dropped me on my head while salsa dancing and helped me achieve my 6th concussion! Strange to be thankful for something like that, and it’s taken me a while to circle around to being grateful for it — but this allowed me to enter the world of biohacking. I needed to heal myself from this concussion. Previously, I had been dabbling in the world of health while being a management consultant. This experience made me truly understand what it means to have chronic pain and live in a place where I could not function because of debilitating health. It made health and pain real to me. So, while it was not something I would wish upon anyone, having this caused me to get into this health space and was a fork in the road to where I’m now — living my passion, helping others, and introducing people to incredible biohacking practices, tools, and technology.
Is there a person in the world you’d ask for advice or inspiration, alive or dead?
Dasha: It’s always Nikola Tesla. Everything I know about health comes from vibration, energy, and frequency. Health is not only about what foods you are eating; it’s about the frequency of your body. The latest tools and technologies use things that Nikola invented. If I could ask for advice, it would be from the great Tesla to understand how his healing frequencies could help heal people today, given that we are constantly away from nature and surrounded by toxic EMF, bright fluorescent light, erratic and chaotic sounds, and other toxic modernities.
If I were to ask the advice of successful business people, it would be — how do we get in front of your sports clients, entertainment networks, and the like to help spread this information to more people? How do we make health more attainable and fun for people and motivate them away from the easy, grab-n-go to a life that requires perhaps a bit more effort in the beginning but a much greater reward in the end? Health can be easy; it’s just that we are bombarded with so many media/ads of illness and living a diseaseful life that combating it is sometimes a challenge. So, if anyone is reading this — email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any ideas, and let’s spread the health! 😉
Dasha, Is there anything else you would like to share with our global readers?
Dasha: Be your own doctor. Be your own guru. Be your own captain. Stop relying on others to give you “permission” to do something. This life is meant for us to try things out, create, make mistakes, learn, and be scientists and explorers. This is our journey, and the moment we realize that and start acting like the captain of our ship, the more exciting and fun it can be! Yes, that means taking responsibility for the choices we make. I’m annoyed that I made choices when I was younger, but I’m responsible and get to choose what I do now. So, I get to choose who I surround myself with, what doctors I work with, who is part of my team of health advocates, and more. I wish more people really felt that freedom of autonomy to lead their lives; so often, we fall prey to thinking that we are stuck, and there is nothing further from the truth than that!
How can our global readers keep up with you on social media or a website?
Dasha: I am on Instagram, and you can follow Dasha M for my medium articles. The WhealthCo podcast is available on Apple and Spotify, and you can find out more about our courses and retreats on our website and Instagram.
Thanks so much for this! I’m excited for this platform to grow and for people to come down to OYA to experience the healing powers of our biohacking centers, nature, and the time off from their current reality to experience a different reality that exists in this world!