Sarah Seads is an ultra-athlete and coach residing on British Columbia, Canada. She has had some momentous shifts in the way she looks at the mental and physical aspects of training and life in the past year, allowing her to unlock some dynamic new mental tools and obtain a new level of performance. As a member of the Cacao Lab community, we are naturally interested in how cacao has played a role in her transformation, but as we sit down for a conversation, we find that it is but one part of a truly inspiring way of looking at intuition-based living and athletic performance. Join us as we discuss some truly groundbreaking ideas.
Your journey to Cacao came somewhat serendipitously it seems—can you tell us about the big bigger changes in your life that brought you to your practice with Cacao, itself?
Let's see what wants to be seen. Well, in summary, my life blew up—my personal life—and that led to when Covid hit. So, there was a big depression and then expansion that happened as a result. And in that time and part of the journey of putting the pieces back together, cacao found me along the way, really? Versus me [finding it]. I guess we found each other, but it was a part of that—the beginnings of my own personal spiritual awakening and awareness and expansion that got me on the path. I had been following some amazing guidance from Ksenia Brief, and through her practice with ceremonial cacao, I became inspired to incorporate it into life.
You’ve told me previously that part of that spiritual awakening, part of putting your life back together, was living your life by intuition. Could you speak on what that means to you, how that practice is involved? And you also mentioned that you have a daily sort of ritual communion with yourself. How does this kind of daily practice feed into your intuitive knowing about where life should go?
Well, it's been a magical mystery ride, that's for sure. I committed to a year of following my heart. That’s sort of how I go all-in to see about something—it's almost like a dare. Like, okay, let's do this and then I'll know for sure if this shit works. That kind of thing I do really well with games and experiments. So, I committed to the year. And yes, my intuition developed intuitively. At first, I considered it like following my heart, like putting my preferences and my needs first; what do I want to do? And really, I was moving towards my highest excitement, moving towards that light.
You also mentioned that you have a daily sort of ritual communion with yourself. How does this kind of daily practice feed into your intuitive knowing about where life should go?
Well, I guess I'll just start at the beginning. When I wake up, I try my best. I say I am guided. We're all humans. Closing, opening, closing, opening. But my intention is to find enough stillness and enough presence to be able to hear or feel what next? That's the question. That my guiding light. And the question is inside. It's asking inside versus the to do list out there.
That leads to my morning practice. I do commit to keeping in my mornings at least a few hours, like two to three hours free, where I try not to book appointments so that I can let the magic happen. And that was so hard because it doesn't align with the concept of productivity. But I've learned after it's taken this long, almost two years now, for me to validate that quantity, that time that I put in, that seems purposeless, but it gives me all the guidance I need to maximize my economy and my efficiency and the rest of my life.
You speak about the pushback of wanting to be productive, and I think this is something that I definitely feel, as well—wanting to give space to your intuition, but then feeling like it’s antithetical to productivity. For you as an ultra-athlete—a very intense-training, very demanding field—it seems like you have found a seam to marry meditative states, intuition, all these things into your process. Could you speak to me a little bit about your training and how that's changed in the last couple of years?
I guess it's initially the first story of how things changed. I’ve always trained intuitively just because of the volume of data I have. Like, from coaching and being in this field for decades, I have a natural ability to know more than the average person about what would be a good thing, just really from the subconscious databank.
Compared to the prescription I would traditionally put my athletes on, I had way more wiggle room because I had more trust in the process. But it definitely went and slipped to another degree. So, when I had the dark night of the soul and all shit went sideways, I kept running, and I'm so glad I did. And what I switched to is, I let my inner child be my coach because that was just the most nourishing thing for me at the time. She was coming online, she was getting a lot of attention from me, finally. I was seeing her rebuilding that relationship, mending that relationship. So, I just let her join me in my mind's eye, and I let her lead where we would go. And really what that was, was an element of my intuition. It was a really fun mind game to play, like I was handing over the role another being, even though it was really my intuition.
That’s where I started really changing my training. Rather than thinking, I just wanted to let it all go out of pure [mental] exhaustion. It was like, I just want to be out here, stay healthy, get some mental health benefits, find some joy in a really hard time. I don't want to think. So, I put my watch away. I actually removed all my clocks at that time too, because I was relearning time—my association with time. I haven't worn a watch since: it's been two years. I wasn't a slave to it, but I definitely realized those attachments because you make it mean things when the watch says something. And once I removed the watch, I realized, oh, I was making it mean I was a failure or a success. So, when that was gone, I just started feeling. I became very present with the sensations, and trusting that watch was a barrier to my intuition, right? I swung the pendulum entirely the other way because it started being a really fun experiment.
What happens if I train intuitively? I had no plan. I would just wake up sometimes in my mind's eye. So how it works for me is I'll sometimes get a vision. Three weekends from now, there's a big, like, 60K run or something. That’s a mountain I'll see in my mind that I feel called to do. And it feels exciting. So, I know it's not like a pressure to have to think. It's an excitement. It's a hit for my highest good. And so sometimes that'll happen, and then I'll plan that in, and that's strategic to make sure I have the right amount of miles before a big event. But nine times out of ten, I literally wake up and just ask my body, what next? Because from a subconscious perspective, I've already embedded the desire or the belief that I can reach XYZ goal in the race. And then I hand it over to my subconscious to tell me what to do, because it has a bigger picture; my body or my intuition is going to tell me what it needs today.
It might be a short run, a hard run, a rest run. Again, I'll see a vision of a trail in my mind that I need to get to. Or I might hop on my bike or go for a swim. The hardest times were weeks of rest—idleness where every day I would cry. It's been weeks. I'm going to fail. I just want to train. And if I was honest, I was exhausted and my body was really telling me. So, it was up to me to play the game and see what would happen. It all worked out in the end.
My first two 100-mile races, I spent way less time training than I ever have. I haven't had a chronic injury in two years. My normal routine, my body maintenance routine, was physio, massage, chiro. And there's been a lot of other variables, of course, but I do believe that following that flow of my body's wisdom has avoided catastrophe and allowed me to have way more free time.
Awesome. You folded in cacao into both your life as a ritual but also in your training as a replacement energy source. How did that fall into your training and how has it benefited it?
Again, it wasn't logic at all. I've been surrendering to this feeling in this game to see what would happen. What I found happening was I basically drank cacao almost every single day as part of my practice, which again, I had to get over the pressures of thinking that's not how it's meant to be utilized. But that was my intuition—like, Sarah, it's part of your journey. You can't drink too much cacao, especially the way it's calling you. So, I ended up drinking it most days. Then I wouldn't eat because I'm in this morning ritual to, like, now it's midday. Now I'm guided to go out for a run, whereas before I would just wake up, eat. You know, I had all the prescriptions for nutrition and fueling based on all the teachings and dogma and science that we've learned. But that all went out the window and I was just listening. And I'm a sucker for a good challenge, so it'd be like 02:00 sometimes till I had eaten.
I've never fasted. That was never part of my paradigm. And for some people I saw it work wonders. Others, it was a huge struggle and a detriment. But I was kind of skeptical for my body. Next thing you know, I've been fasting, just inadvertently. What happened next was this change in the reliance on carbs versus fat as a fuel source because of course, the cacao is all I was having and it's higher in fat, and combined with that, there has to be that low intensity training so the body knows what you're doing. It’s for that aerobic level and that's what the long runs are usually. Yeah, that just naturally happened—to be guided to shift the nutrient timing in and out. But in general, leading up to the 100 miles event that I just did, I was guided to definitely take all the steps that turned out to be textbook, even though I hadn't truly studied it for myself to become fat adapted. So, when I went into the race, I barely ate. It was the least I had ever eaten. In fact, I just drank some liquid calories, as well as had cacao twice in the event and in the morning. So, just three servings of cacao. I was out there for, oh, 27 hours? Like, really? 27 hours and liquids?! I had never raced like that.
I had no problems. I've been battling heartburn for ten years, like debilitating to the point where I would just suffer for hours, five to 10 hours in these events. And I've been working on so many strategies. I believe the relaxation in my system from releasing anxiety, trauma, practicing meditation, breath work rituals, also with being able to consume way less and not having food in my stomach stopped that whole problem. I felt like a million bucks. I had no GI issues. My energy was great. I was never hungry. And I fully believe that cacao played a huge part in that.
I’m so glad you’ve found so much use out of cacao!
Yeah, it’s been great!
I want to talk a little bit about your way of training—it's not a way of training that I've particularly heard about, intuitive training like this. Most seems to be much more prescriptive, like a physical trainer pushing, pushing, pushing. What are you doing to share this way of approaching extreme physical endurance training. Serious stuff, but having it be guided by listening to your body and this whole other kind of mental and spiritual practice?
Oh, wow. It's so exciting. I'm just like on the precipice. I'm almost ready to hit publish on my first phase of my new website. And soon there'll be an academy, a mastery academy beginning where I'm going to be channeling courses and teachings and tools. And it's all in the spirit of play. Really, playfulness. I call them mind games because I'm a firm believer in the power of the mind to overcome the mind, to get out of our own way by using our limited mind to access the unlimited mind. To me, in the spirit of sport, making them games, whether or not you're an athlete that actually does a physical sport or just a participant like we all are in this wild game of life, I think making it fun, making it playful, having these little challenges for the mind. I know it really works for me. It really works for athletes and a lot of us to utilize that part of us that wants to compartmentalize things. The mind will relax when it thinks, oh, there's an end. We're just doing this as an experiment. Then you can kind of really go all in versus, I don't know if I should be doing this.
Well, it's just a week. It's just ten days. I mean, for me it was just a year. And by then you rewire stuff and find out if that works for you.
So, ultimately, my passion is what I call merging the heart and science because we need both. We've got all this amazing data and we've got all these practical tools. We need these tools. If we just float around with intuition and we have no idea where to start…for most of us, our intuition is not consistent enough to be able to do that. So, we need a foundation or a background to have some tools. But at the end of the day, it's our body that I believe will curate the most efficient, optimal training plan or race plan or whatever it is. And that gets down to being moment to moment.
My passion is to provide access to the awakening of our own ability to communicate with that intuition and to hear it, what it feels like to know the difference between the fear based, limited ego mind and what our higher wisdom is. And really, it's a texture—they're physical things. It does come back to this art and science of kinesiology, of body movement. It's being able to feel things in your body, be they emotions or physical sensations that are determining if something is right or wrong for you in that moment. Like, it comes down to a yes or a no. A yes is an open feeling and a no is a closed feeling. And in Kinesiological muscle testing, they've been doing this forever.
That's not a practice that I learned until hypnotherapy, which is interesting, where we basically tap into the subconscious to ask a yes or no question, is this good for me or is this not? It could be an example. And so what I envision is assisting people who want to learn to tap into that, who understand that it's there, that it's powerful, like it's just an untapped resource, and practice implementing that so that we can curate our own programs in the moment, like beyond the spreadsheets and rows.
We start there and then we go, okay, maybe this [training plan] only has one rest day this week, but actually my body says it needs the whole week off. Then, the other side of it is giving ourselves permission to do that. That’s the personal growth side of things—overcoming limiting beliefs, scarcity, lack, fear of failure, fear of success, worthiness…all these things that actually stop us from hearing our truth and being courageous enough to follow it. So, yes, all those fun things, and it can get heavy; personal growth stuff and facing fears can get really heavy. I have been to the underworld and back, and every day the struggle is still real. There's always another dragon to slay, so to speak. So I like to look at the flip side, see the lightness in it, obviously honor the difficulty of the process and witness that, but give us the option of bringing in some lightness and some play and finding little bite-sized ways to move forward and move ahead through our processes.
That’s a very cohesive ideology. I think that I could take that on very well. I feel inspired by it now, seeing as I need to get back into my own kind of training regimen, but also work from a place where I won’t push myself to burnout.
I think that's amazing. So, if people wanted to see what you're doing—reach out to you, get on board, so to speak—where could they find you?
If people feel something resonates, Instagram is my most frequent channel. I like to play in the stories there quite a bit, and any of my offerings will be there in my profile as a link on the link tree. And so that's @wildseads, and it's S-E-A-D-S. That’ll be the website; that's all the handles. Wild Seads.
Awesome! Is there anything else that you want to let everybody out there in Cacao-land know?
Just that I'm so grateful to be a part of this family and this community. It was destined; it was inevitable that there'd be some reunion with cacao. I'm sure that we've danced together in many lives, and I'm just looking forward to just sharing in community and joining more circles and also creating circles virtually and in person wherever my travels take me. So, I hope that if our paths are meant to cross, they will. And I look forward to that!