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October 7, 2019

Your vital force with Rajshree Patel

Rajshree Patel is a mind and meditation expert and an international self-awareness coach, trainer, and speaker. Over the last 30 years, she has taught hundreds of thousands of people in more than 35 countries the power of meditation, mindfulness, breath work, and other ancient tools for assessing the innate sources of energy, creativity, and fulfillment within. Today we discuss her book, The Power of Vital Force.

Allan: 02:06 Rajshree, welcome to 40 plus fitness.

Rajshree: 02:09 Thank you Allan. Happy to be here with you.

Allan: 02:11 You know, I was traveling back from the United States. I'd gone back to do a few things, work on my education is a personal trainer and then tried to get my house a little bit further shaped up so someone will actually buy it from me. And so it's been go, go, go, go, go. And then I had to drive cause I was trying to save a little bit of money on fly spirit, drive from Pensacola down to Fort Lauderdale. It's nine and a half hour drive. I do that drive and then I get on an airplane. I fly overnight, I arrive into Panama city at 1:30 in the morning, get to my hotel, go to sleep, wake up early. Cause you know, it's just normal wake up time. Uh, go ahead and do what work I can get to the airport, fly over to Bocas. And I got here last night and was just like, I just, I'm just drained, you know, all the, all of this is on me and I think we use that word a lot. Drains, you know?

Rajshree: 03:06 Yes, we do.

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Allan: 03:07 And I think, you know, and when you, when you really kind of start putting that together and you say, well, okay, why is my back starting to hurt? Why is my posture suffering? Why do I, and why is my head kind of hurting? And it's that draining and so it is really, you know, we, we use that in the Western vernacular of, of force of energy, but we don't really break that down to think of it in terms of all the other aspects of our health and wellness.

Rajshree: 03:35 No, no, I don't think we do. To your point, I mean I was going through a similar thing at some point before I got exposed to what we're going to talk about it a little bit, this idea of a force or energy. I was a lawyer in LA doing all this stuff that anybody has to do. Going to court, managing my files, you know, family, friends. I had just moved from New York to LA, so I was isolated doing my own thing on my own and trying to find a place to sort of fit in, connect, so emotionally there were things going on. It was a lot of stress going on mentally in terms of a brand new job. It was actually my first job as an attorney and a new city and so on. I was somehow getting through things. I knew I was tired. Obviously I was waking up in the morning not bouncing out of bed and dragging myself and kind of wishing no, what the heck happened? How did this night go by so fast and to your point, I hadn't really connected the dots. When I say I'm drained or I'm wiped out or I'm exhausted, I was really talking about not being charged or fueled enough and your basic food or gym.

If I happen to have done it that day or that week just wasn't getting me through the day until by chance. In 1989 I discovered this whole notion of vital force and how really we have too fuel all the levels, you know, of our life in order to do what we have to and then some of the things we want to do.

Allan: 05:10 Yeah. You know, as I was kind of looking at myself and trying to, you know, kind of build a better me because I knew I kind of, same thing, I went the public accounting route and then into internal audit and worked my way up C suite and all of that. And when they finally let me go, uh, it was kinda like this gush of pressure of everything. It's like, Oh, and when I took some time kind of sit back, that's when it has kind of really dawned on me that I had never really gotten completely there because I had not really ever paid enough attention to the things that were going to bring me what I needed. So like I defined fitness as being the healthiest fittest, happiest person you can be. And, and even though I was doing things in my life, that brought me some happiness and some joy, I really wasn't getting all the way there all the time. And it was too many things pulling me, pulling me back into the abyss. Now in the book you talk about the three main pathways to happiness. Could you take a few minutes to talk about those? Cause I think this is, this is critical if we're really going to get to wellness that we address this, this first, you know, happiness. I actually did them in reverse order. I should uh, dealt with the happiness first and then started with the, the fitness and the health cause I think it would've been a lot easier.

Rajshree: 06:29 Oh sure. I mean, so I think everybody knows, you know, what it means to be happy at whatever level. But we never really break it down. There's this sense of happiness that we get. Just a quick thing, a momentary thing like you show up to play or watch soccer and you enjoy it. You want something, you get it and you enjoy it and you're happy about it. But the moment it's over, it's over. And that has its own impact in terms of how it wipes us out. Because if it's just that level, what I find is I need more and more of it, you know? Uh, I entertain myself with one thing and then the next weekend I want a little bit more. So yeah.

Allan: 07:08 I get depressed when football season ends.

Rajshree: 07:11 Yeah. Because it's, it's over like you need the next thing. And even in football you notice you want like the next game, the match has to be a certain way. And who the, who's really, you know, with each other, which player against what player, what coach with what team. So we want a little more of it. But then there's this other layer of happiness where you don't just watch, it's not momentary. A metaphor would be you actually go and play soccer so you engage, you participate. And that brings another level of joy or happiness. It stays with us longer. It has comradery too. More meaning, more engagement, you know, a sense of, Oh wow, I did something cause we kind of tapped into some part of ourself that we hadn't really expected. Perhaps we played well or something.

Allan: 08:01 To me, I actually do that now through tailgating. I, you know, obviously the college football team's not going to let me on the field. So I go to a tailgate beforehand and hang out with my friends and have conversations and all that. So that's, that's where that engagement comes in for me.

Rajshree: 08:16 Exactly. And it stays with you in a very different way because even when you go home, you're talking about the game and what you saw. But somehow that, that sense of belonging in this in a way is part of the whole picture. And then beyond that is this notion of coaching the game of soccer. You know, really getting involved in another level yet that's even more meaningful, more lasting. Where you contribute to somebody else's life as much as you contribute to your own joy. And I think that joy, that kind of happiness gives us, in my opinion, the resilience to get through a difficult time. It kind of boosts us from the inside out. It gives us a lot of energy and then we deal with the ups or the downs that are coming, you know, in the day.

Allan: 09:08 And I think that's why I so much more enjoy being a personal trainer and a coach then I did being an internal auditor. Yeah. I mean I'd go off for my weekend, you know, and I would, I would go to a college football game and I would engage with my friends. So I had the pleasure of being at the game. I had the pleasure of just the all of game time experience and then the time with my friends. And then yeah, there's the Facebook message group where we're all gonna be either really happy about the game or be really upset about the game or either side and everybody's arguing. And even that I like just kind of sitting back and watching all that, but then I, I kind of go to work and it's audit, you know?

Rajshree: 09:46 Yeah, yeah, exactly. But you know, there's another level to all this, which most people don't really connect the dots to. And that is like when we feel our best, when we feel like we have the most amount of life energy and doesn't matter what's going on outside, we feel really charged up. Like you come back from vacation, you know everything's still the same. You come home and all the things you have to do are still there. But somehow your outlook Monday is much more optimistic, much more positive, and you're ready to jump into the day knowing that it's going to be a lot of work cause you're out for a week or 10 days. And that kind of happiness, it's what I would call more innate. And it's directly, what I've discovered is related to how rested your mind is how much energy you really have. And I don't mean the caloric energy, you know, the food and, and the sort of your daily maybe green juice that somebody might do or coffee or sugar. I'm really talking about this thing called vital force, which you're sort of born with. Like if you look at kids, you know, they're not playing soccer, they're not watching and they're not hanging out. But there's a lot of joy and strength and stamina. And that's really what we're talking about when I say vital force.

Allan: 11:08 Yes. Now you got into a part in the book and as I went through it, I think I had to read it twice to kind of really walk myself down the line of, you know, the past, the present and the future. And how so many of us kind of get stuck in this loop and it prevents us from really kind of experiencing the joy the way that we could because of the things in the past that you know and, and the things we think are going to be in the future. And you kind of talk through that line because it, it's not a straight line. Like you would think like we had our past, is over. We have our presences now and then the future is there. But we don't live that way.

Rajshree: 11:51 No, no we don't. Um, so obviously depending on the event and how intense it was, you know, somewhere we store it in our system, our brain, our body, our mind, ourselves. Hold on. Two pleasant or unpleasant events and situations, you know, and we clearly know that if I bring up an unpleasant thing, depending on to what degree you've let go of it, you can have a reaction in this moment. And if we look when we're holding on to things, it brings with it a certain spectrum of emotions and we don't really realize it. But impatience, agitation, frustration, anger, regret, guilt, blame these emotions which are clearly not serving us, they're negative. That's what takes away our happiness are related to something that's already happened. It's done and gone. And if I asked someone, can you be angry about something that hasn't yet happened? Our general tendency is to say yes, of course.

But really if we examine it's not possible. If it's about something that hasn't happened, we're going to be afraid. We're going to be worried, we're going to be anxious, we're going to have doubts, insecurity. That's about something that may or may not happen. And I often like to use this, um, analogy of a, a computer. See a lot of times we're working on a file and in the background we have a lot of files open because we worked on something a week ago, 10 days ago, a month ago, and we kind of forget about it. But those files are still open in the background. They're doing something to our hard drive, our brain in the computer, the hard drive and what it's doing is everything from slowing it down, creating glitches, draining energy, taking the life away from the file, the moment that's in front of us. And a lot of times, you know, Allan, if you go to search something on a computer, you anticipate based on history, the computer anticipates based on your prior search and opens more options.

And I think that's really what's going on in our life. Our mind, our brain or body is filled with stuff that happened yesterday, year ago, 10 years ago in the moment we come in front of something. This moment, it anticipates all of that. We start hitting on those emotions and we're not conscious of it. And similarly the future, you know? I love to think that we have a future, but honestly we're so hardwired, we're kind of conditioned by the time we're 10 years old with through osmosis taken all kinds of things on with our friends and family and parents and school system that our future's really, us being anxious about, Oh my God, I hope what happened yesterday, last week or in my last job, it doesn't happen again. So it's really an anticipation of the past. Everybody talks about, Oh, live in the present moment and all of that. But we've never really broken it down to what it's doing when we are in the past or when we are caught in the future.

Allan: 15:09 Yeah, I, I was, as I was reading that, I was, I was kinda thinking back to like the last three years when I was, when I was doing the internal audit stuff and kind of the first year we came across like a downturn in the market and we got into November and the talks about layoffs started happening and then in December there was the layoff. And so I was like, okay. And it was, and that's horrible. If you've ever experienced that, I can tell you it's just as hard from the manager's perspective as it is from the employee's perspective because you're having these conversations that don't necessarily deserve to leave.

And then what happens is I got into football season and as we got closer and closer to November, which means, you know, September, October, when we're at prime of our football season, I just started getting this, this anxiety. As soon as football game was over and I'm driving back home, back to go to work on Monday, you know, my head's already into this funk. And so I didn't have that energy in that balance to go back to work. I had this dread and then you know, we got into November and these conversations started again. And then in December there was a layoff. And I can tell you kind the final year I was there, that dread started in July. And you know, I can't tell you how many wonderful things I did during that period of time that I couldn't be fully present for because of the anxiety I had for what my November and December were probably going to look like. There were no conversations about head count at that point in time. Everything was positive at the company. You know, we're going to do this, we're going to grow that. We're going to, you know, we've done this. All, all that was there. All those conversations were positive at work. I just had this looming dread that something bad was going to happen in November and I couldn't enjoy myself. Now what I had a dread for actually did happen. Um, so, you know, I'm not, you know, but, but there was nothing I could do to stop it from happening. It was completely outside my control. And rather than kind of be rational about it and say, I can't stop this from happening, this is not my call, not my thing. All I can do is, but I missed for the better part of two years. I miss a lot of joy because I just kept letting that cycle play out in my, in my mind.

Rajshree: 17:41 To add to a little bit of what you're saying, it's true. You had no control over it. You know, you lost two years at whatever with all the other beautiful things that may have been going on in front of your life. I also believe if we have so much attention on something, we invite it at some level, you know, if we really have a lot of attention on something being positive and uplifting and it's going to be great, then somehow I feel like the universe smiles back at us and we invite at least the positive vibe of the moment. And if we're really anxious and were concerned, Oh my God, this is going to happen, this is going to happen, this is going to happen. Just our vibe sometimes invites that. And so we lose on on multiple levels. We're just not aware of it. Um, the time now, the two years that you mentioned and who knows, perhaps if the outlook could have been different, maybe a different kind of result could have happened. We just don't know because life is so much more than just what we see, touch and feel and, and I think it's important to see that we can't change our future and we can't change our paths.

But nobody really not at home or in school has ever taught us how to get the heck out of there and say, okay, what's in front of me and how do I reboot myself to look at this moment fresh and new.

Allan: 19:04 Yeah. And I think that's, that's where I struggled with it as I just, I kind of just put that all on my shoulders and carried it. Yeah. And it just got heavier and heavier and heavier until it was lifted off my shoulders by the layoff. And then I was like, okay, now I have a wide open future. And I can just figure out how to make this the best I can make it.

Rajshree: 19:27 Sorry, I was just going to say I'm in, I'm in the middle of a, uh, sort of a big personal challenge at the moment. Yes. This book is coming out, but going through a lot of family things and I see that my mind wants to lock into that, you know, and not the joy of whatever's going to happen as a result of this book. And I have to consciously bring myself back. I need to take a short pause to say that's there and your worst imagination doesn't mean that's what's going to happen. Let's see what you can do about it now and get busy and get active in trying to address it. So it is a matter of being conscious and inviting a pause into my life to say, what can I do about it rather than how does it help me to sit here and worry.

Allan: 20:16 Yeah. In the book you put together an actual exercise where someone can go through and methodically put together these things and walk through the positive, negative, the emotion, the past future, the now can you kind of just briefly talk about how that exercise works?

Rajshree: 20:34 Yeah, absolutely. And I really invite people to sort of take inventory. Um, I do it for myself, you know, every three months or so. What I'm asking myself to do is to say, okay, what's keeping me up at night? What is the thing that lifts for me in my head? And I, you know, just make a list of it. And I always invite myself to make a list of 10 things that are going on. So like before I woke up, I saw my mind was running on, Oh yeah, I have to connect with Allan and how's he going to go and where's it going to go? And it's just a recognition that's not something that's happening now. It's about the future. I'm concerned about my mom's health. So that would go on the list, you know. My niece going away to college and the struggles that she's having as she's leaving home for the first time. So I make a list about 10 things that are either keeping me awake or I find myself talking about or thinking about, you know, or continuously somehow coming back to, and the moment I do that, first of all I've put light on it. It's not going on unconsciously in the background. Like those open files and then the exercise, ask the reader to look and see is it generating a positive emotion, feeling or experience or a negative feeling or experience. So I'm planning my vacation and that's positive. And at the same time somebody could have in the background, yes it's great, but Oh my God, so much work is going to pile up, or how am I actually gonna end up paying for this because things are more expensive than I had hoped for.

So just asking the reader to put a plus sign or a negative sign next to it to realize how much of our mind our time, our brain is caught up in positive or negative. And then to kind of label it, you know, there's a lot of talk on emotional intelligence, but we don't really know how to get cognizant of it. And if you'll look, um, not just positive or negative, but to say, wow, this is something that's already happened. It's about the past. And, and putting that down next to it or this isn't going on now. It may never happen. It's really about the future. It's a year away, 10 years away or I don't even know if it's going to happen. Okay. It's about the future and just making a list, taking an inventory about what is it positive or negative. And then if you add it up to see out of 10, is 50% of your life for time positive or 50% negative or is it more 60, 70, 80%.

And the unfortunate thing is we as human beings are hard wired towards a negative bias. Meaning if someone gives us 10 compliments and one insult, we really remember the insult more, it kind of sticks to us more. It's just how we are hardwired. So similarly, if we look at that list, I find that most people, we'll discover that 80%, eight out of 10 things are not working for them. It's not positive and they weren't cognizant of it. And the moment they notice it, they see it's a, a sort of a rude wake up call, you know, to do something about it and make a shift.

Allan: 23:55 Yeah. I um, you know, I was kind of looking at things right now that just weren't positive in my life that I had some control over. Uh, you know what, I had control over what I didn't and, and I just started saying, you know, I've got it all this negative on my Facebook feed for all this political stuff, you know, and so I said, you know, they have this pause feature on Facebook. What if I just pause this person for the 30 days? What will that do? And I did that for, you know, probably about, I'd say about six or seven people on my feed and my feet got nicer. It got more positive. I started seeing, you know, positive affirmations. I started seeing joy in people's lives. I started seeing birthdays and all these things that were good. And so I kinda got a little addicted to pausing people, sorry, friends.

But all you're gonna do is talk about politics and how terrible life is on earth. Uh, I need to take a break from you. And I did that as a kind of an experiment about a month ago. And my feet just kind of really got nice and I enjoyed the interaction with the people, enjoyed seeing positive things in their lives. You know, grandchildren and births and marriages. And there was some sad, you know, a friend of mine lost his wife and things like that. But all in all, I saw a real life and, and not that. So I, you know, I think you're right with those 10 things, I realized one of my 10 things was this, this negative Facebook feed and you know, rather than just walking away with it from it because that's, you know, next to impossible. I just, well what if I just tried this tweak to it and it kind of gave me an opportunity to be more in the now with my friends and what's actually going on in their lives.

Rajshree: 25:43 Brought a lot of positivity to the other people who are in the feed. Right? It's not just you by that simple act of putting a pause for a few people, you uplifted and up-leveled you, your energy, your vibe, what's happening for you and enjoying that. But at the same time it brought more of that for other people and, and it kind of becomes a conversation we spoke about earlier in terms of happiness. You know, it's, it's going to the football game and having the barbecue outside first and engaging with it and then driving home and going home and saying, okay let's guys stop over and get a beer here and see what happens. So you in a sense became contagious. The happiness became contagious. And so I love that. You know, why not spread something more positive and why not become more conscious about how do I want this to look for me in my life?

Allan: 26:35 Absolutely. Now I've always been a big fan. Well once I, once I figured it out, a big fan of breath and breath work you the meditation cause that's what a lot of us in the Western world as we start kind of getting into this whole, how do we deal with stress? How do we take care of ourselves? It kind of always comes back to, well you know, meditation and that starts with breathwork for most of us. As I got deeper into the thought about breath, it kind of has the two things. One, one that you've kind of bring up in the book, but the other is the energy processes. In our bodies require oxygen. So if we're not bringing in the breath, if we're just, you know, because when we're stressed, there's little short little breaths and we're not really giving our body the energy, the force that it needs to be successful. But it does also give us this opportunity to be right here right now.

Rajshree: 27:24 And both are valuable, right? They're actually synonymous. If you have a lot of energy, that's what allows you to be right here and right now. And the more you are in the right here, in the right now, the more energy you have. So it's a virtuous cycle. And to your point, when we're under stress, if we are caught in the fear, worry or anxiety or the anger or the regret, we notice that our breath gets shorter and shorter. The more stressed we are, the more we kind of hold onto our stomach muscles in a way we hold onto our breath and we naturally tell people, come on man, just breathe. Okay? Just breathe. You know, because we notice that physiologically the innate response to stress is to sort of shut everything down. What we call fear or freeze or flight, you know, and just that tiny awareness, Oh my God, I'm getting stressed.

Let me make my breath longer. Does exactly what you said. Both those things. I notice if I elongate my breath, I calm down, but then I feel refreshed again. If nothing else, you're dumping out the CO2 that's just sitting in the lungs, which makes you tired. You know, in a closed room, you go to a doctor's office or you're, you're sitting on that flight. This happens to me all the time. As soon as they close that door, there's not enough fresh air in the flight. I start to get drowsy, groggy, and I crash until they actually open up the vent and allow fresh air to come in. I don't know if people know that they kind of don't let enough air in until they reach a cruising altitude. You know, everything is is just the bare minimums. So fresh air has a lot to do with our perception our outlook. It kind of gives us a fresh way to look at things. So more energy, more present, more present, more energy.

Allan: 29:22 Yeah. I still tell you they don't, they don't have enough fresh air on that airplane.

Rajshree: 29:25 No they don't.

Allan: 29:26 I don't want to touch anything. I don't want to breathe, I breathe really shallow on a plane. Cause I just, I just know I'm going to get sick. I'm just like, I gotta be positive about it. But yeah. So, you know, I guess this was a disconnect I always had because did you get into the concept of breathing, meditation and mindfulness? That, in my head it's always been one thing. But in the book you kind of say, no, isn't it? Meditation and mindfulness are not actually the same thing.

Rajshree: 30:02 No. At least not the way we understand mindfulness today in the Western world. You know, it's, it's more of a noun rather than a state of mind. Mindfulness is become a name and the way we practice it here is really using more mental stuff, more monitoring, more, you know, labeling more attention to what's happening in the mind. And well, it's just really hard to do. If we could do it, we wouldn't need mindfulness in the first place. And unfortunately, or fortunately, of course there's a lot of value to it, but 60 years ago when it first came into the West, people went, you know, to the far East and went into monasteries, spent some amount of time there and they took a single thread of an entire system, which was to label and to monitor physical activity and what's going on in our head. And that had its value in that it gave us the ability to have more, what I call frontal cortex, meaning greater rational, logical decision making aspect to us.

And it was really necessary in those days because times were different. But today we're so hardwired with our computers in our cell phones, they're kind of like an extension of us, we are always on. So our thinking brain is always on, it's always processing. And so meditation, the way I'm using it is really letting all of that mental brain stuff to settle down, to get quiet, to shut it off somehow or another. And you'll see when I say we're always on, you see the sleeping industry is growing like crazy, meaning the pills and the pharmaceutical world. Because what was once natural isn't happening anymore. We're not sleeping. I know so many, many people, every course I do, students show up and if I ask how many of you feel like you go to sleep and wake up more tired in the morning, 60% of the room will raise their hand.

How many of you people feel like you had eight hours in bed but you're not sure it was I thinking all night or sleeping? 70/80% of the room will raise their hand feeling like, yeah, I just feel like I'm processing or thinking all night. And that means we're keeping that thinking brain on. And so what we really need to do now is to click off, not just close the file we're working on in front of us in this moment, but close the tabs in the back. So we conserve energy so that we give a rest to the whole computer. You know, the hard drive. And so mindfulness is good for something specific, but meditation is a conscious pause, a willingness to let the mind drift, not hold on, not be aware, not lock it into something, allowing it to drift, let it be as it is.

And that unwinding actually gives us deeper layers of rest. When we go to sleep, we kind of connect better with people in front of us cause where are we listening in instead of our own stuff that's going on in our head that's constantly on, you know, it gives us more energy of course, and so on and makes us happier.

Allan: 33:27 Yeah. I, you know, that was one of the challenges that I've, I had when I was, you know, kind of in my hyper stress state of how do I, how do I actually get my brain to stop this stuff? You know, I'm drinking out of a fire hose every day. How do I shut it off, you know? And that made sleep very, very difficult. And so I worked on things that, it started with breath work. It started with taking just short pauses during the day, uh, where I would sit down in a quiet office and say, okay, you know, and I had the Headspace app on and I'm kind of going through this process of, of getting mindful or at least, you know, being aware that all these thoughts were actually out there all at the same time.

And then I was jumping from one to the others before I even got to play out. One idea, one thought, one fear, one anxiety. I was onto the next one. So they were, they were just constantly looping in my head and I had never really figured out how to get somewhere else other than in those stress loops.

Rajshree: 34:28 But, but what if we didn't even have to figure out or even notice those thoughts? What if we had an on off switch to all this thinking, you know, that's really what I'm kind of talking about. Let's go past that. Having to be aware because the truth is, look, if you see parents tell their kids at a dinner table or while they're studying focus, you know, be here, be present. Come on, stop thinking about all those other things in focus. If that kid turns around and says, okay, mom, okay dad, how?

They really wouldn't have an answer to that question. If you ask adults to sit still for a few minutes, it's not easy. If you ask them to close their eyes, they're like, no, I can't do that. Right? Eight out of 10 adults will say to me, I don't know if I can sit that long. I don't if I can sit still, I don't know if I can close my eyes and so what I say is, okay, don't worry about it. Use the breath like an exercise. You don't have to close your eyes. You don't have to find, you know all the paraphernalia of sit well in, in a proper place, in a quiet place or anything. I just say three times a day create a pause. Any way you have to breathe. I'm just asking you to breathe consciously as an exercise, not as something that you focus or have to pay attention to.

And so first thing in the morning, as soon as you wake up, I tell people just lay in bed, doesn't matter or sit up and lean against your headboard and do 10 long breaths in and out. You're just consciously breathing. I don't care if your mind is focused or not focused thinking or not thinking. And you know, looping from one thought to another, just 10 long breath thing, it'll do exactly what you said earlier. Number one, it brings in more oxygen. We've been, you know, laying still, we haven't been active. Our lung and our breathing capacity has reduced. So number one, it brings in more oxygen. For number two are out-breath is an off switch to thinking. And a lot of times we wake up in the morning processing stuff that we were entering into sleep with. So 10 long breath, first thing. Second thing is I always say before lunch, if nothing else, you've ordered your food.

Maybe you're sitting down in your office cafeteria just before you eat or as you're walking to the cafeteria, nobody knows you're doing it. You don't need to close your eyes, do 10 long breath in and out because you're breathing. Number one energizes. It's going to bring in more oxygen, but number two on the out-breath, you're going to empty something from your head. You're going to lower the number of thoughts that are going on in your head and that's going to change how you digest food, how fit and well you feel around what eat. It's important that we absorb, we assimilate, we digest with a calm state of mind because we're not just our body. We are what we eat and yes, we eat carbohydrates and protein and all of that, but if we're sitting there stressed out, you're kind of chewing that stuff back in and in an old traditions, you know, there was a time when we sat quietly to eat, not just because, Oh, it was some ritual, but it did a lot.

And today we know about gut health, we know about biome, we know that friendly bacterias thrive when we're not under stress and when we're under stress there's too much acid. So we don't thrive. So again, if not every meal, at least before lunch, 10 breaths, then go ahead and eat. And the most necessary if you do it nowhere else is before bed because how you enter sleep is really gonna determine the quality of sleep. I just know that I could be so wired with so many things when I get into bed, say, okay, a day in a life is over. I did the best I could and then I start to take long breath in and out. By the time I get to my fourth or fifth breath, I'm asleep, I'm out. And what I'm doing is shutting off the would of could of should of, you know, the yada yada files that go on.

And if we enter sleep like that, our emotional brain, our unconscious or subconscious is going to be processing that. That is a computer that's getting drained and then we wake up feeling like somehow I just feel like I got up on the wrong side of the bed or I'm not so rested and I wish I had more time. So just these three pauses, nobody needs to know you're doing it. It doesn't matter if you've got your eyes closed or not. Honestly, if the listeners out there, you know, if they just do it, they'll say, wow, okay, this is something I'll not let go of anyway. I have to breathe. I'm going to do it consciously three times a day.

Allan: 39:40 If they listen to last week's episode, when I had Amy Serin on and I and Dr. Serin, We actually talked about this specific thing with the parasympathic nerve, that nervous system and the, and the stress switch and, and everything there. And so you're, you're, you're, you're talking right up my, I'll have, you know, we've got to turn this thing off. We've got to get our brain to think, okay, we're safe. We don't have no fight or flight to go on right now. We can go to sleep and actually get good rest.

Rajshree: 40:08 Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And, and I don't think that, I mean when unfortunately we've never taught that. Like your breathing is connected between these two, right? The sympathetic stress response, as we say, fear, freeze or flight, which was meant for emergencies in life and it's connected to the parasympathetic meaning the rest, the calm, the happy, the loving state, the easy-going state. Internally body can be dynamic. But internally calm, I mean if you see any, you know, professional, any athlete, their mind has to be calm but their body is in high gear, high-performance mode and your breathing is connected in such a way that if you elongate your breath, if you make it longer, you move from, Oh my God, Oh my God to I'm going to do it. Your mind naturally shifts in attitude and so anybody can do it.

The kid or the adult, you know, as busy as we might be, you do it while you're moving in a board meeting. I often tell people, because by the time you leave an hour of a board meeting or any meeting for that matter, you just kind of sat there, wiring yourself up with, Oh my God, one more meeting. Why is this happening? Why do we need to listen to this? Oh, it's the same old stuff. All that's happening is we're getting wound up and then you gotta go sit at your desk and do all that work. And so I just say to them, just sit in the board meeting any, anyway, listening isn't gonna get taken away because you're breathing. So do both of those activities. Let the listening be there, but breathe a little bit long in and out. And you'll walk out of that meeting and say, okay, well that's that. Let me get back to what I have to do.

Allan: 41:56 Absolutely. I wish I'd had that advice three years ago. Um, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

Rajshree: 42:13 So for me, uh, again, I say, you know, no matter what breath is your number one tactic to stay well physically, your body needs the oxygen mentally, it brings your mind in there, present in the here and now. To some degree it lowers thoughts depending on how well and how long you breathe. Number two, I always invite people and I do it every day when I go to bed, I really tell myself, you know, sometimes out loud, even my hand sort of lands on my chest and I say, this day is over.

It's like a life over. However it's been, tomorrow I invite new possibilities. I really consciously let the day go even if it's in words and a concept only. That's the second thing that I will always do. And the third thing is I invite people to say, no matter what, you're the driver behind your life. You got to take five minutes a day, morning or evening too, just quiet down and reflect. To be grateful to recognize that everything that we think isn't as bad as we think that you know, the universe is behind me. Just five minutes, maybe as you enter your, your bed, maybe as you get up in the morning after the 10 breaths, just to say, I'm going to make it a great day. It's a type of meditation. It's self-connection self-awareness saying I matter because I'm the driver of my life, I have to take a break. Five minutes.

Allan: 43:52 Rashree great. Thank you for those. If someone wanted to connect with you, learn more about the book, where would you like for me to send them?

Rajshree: 44:00 So certainly for the book they could just go to Amazon. The Power of Vital Force. Actually, I don't know how to make this available to your readers, but if they just go to my website, Rajshreepatel.com and put down that you came from your show. There is an online course with a lot of tools and tips available to people. It's 11 sessions. The last session is a live webinar. That could be a big bonus gift in terms of the book and how to use it. So the Power of Vital Force on Amazon or Barnes and Nobles or rajshreepatel.com.

Allan: 44:40 Great. Uh, well I'll definitely have links so let's stay in connection at that. Thank you so much for that gift. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/402 and, and I'll make sure to have those links in the show notes. So Rajshree, thank you so much for being a part of 40 plus fitness.

Rajshree: 44:59 Thank you so much for having me. Happy to share my morning with you. Absolutely.

I hope you enjoyed our conversation today with Rajshree. If you'd like to continue this conversation or talk about anything else, health and fitness related, I'd like to invite you to join us at our Facebook group. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/group. It's a really supportive group of people, not overly, you know, bombastic a have too many posts and whatnot, but just a nice group of people to hang out with, ask questions, have some support, have some accountability. I really enjoy interacting there. It's the best way for you to get in touch with me and interact with me. I'm on there every day talking to folks, so that's the best place to go. If you want to be a part of my community, go to 40plusfitness podcast.com/group.

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Another episode you may enjoy

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September 30, 2019

Turn off your stress switch with Dr. Amy Serin

Our guest today is a world-renowned neuropsychologist and stress expert. She's literally written the book on how to turn off your stress.

Allan: 01:50 Dr Serin, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

Dr. Serin: 01:54 Thank you so much for having me. Allan.

Allan: 01:56 You know there was a quote in the book and sometimes I get stuck on numbers. I'm an accountant by trade before I got into fitness. So I get stuck on numbers. So you're hearing me talk about numbers and lists all the time, but every once in awhile I run into a quote and I'm like, okay, I need that quote in my life. This was, this was exactly what I needed to hear today. And this was one that was in the book.

“When you resolve trauma, reduce stress and heal, what lies beneath the layers of soot of suffering is pure beauty. When a person on covers this love and kindness towards the self and towards others is the only thing left.”

Dr. Serin: 02:37 Yup. That's the truth.

More...

Allan: 02:39 You know, and it's funny because I sit back and I've said it many, many times, I wrote it in my own book is, you know, our journey to health, our journey to wellness, it has to include self-love. It has to start with self-love. And I think I struggled with stress so much I never really got where I to be because of the layers of soot.

Dr. Serin: 03:03 Well. Yeah, you know, and I think I, I think that we need to get to self-love in order to get to other things, but we cannot access self-love when we're stressed out. And this is, I think the big, you hit really the nail on the head. The big thing that we're missing and the big way that our thoughts about stress and our thoughts about our lives and who we are are misguided, is that when you are in a state of stress, I call it the stress, which when you're stressed, which is medium or high, you can not access self-love. You can not access love for other people, you cannot be your best self. And we, we think we are what we do on a daily basis. But if we have a lot of stress [inaudible] in our lives and I'm not talking about we have a crazy mother-in-law and we have a stressful job. If our nervous systems in too many moments or putting our stress, which is on high right? We cannot access the deeper parts of ourselves. We cannot access the goodness. And it doesn't have to do with who we are as much as it has to do with how much we're stress. And this is why, you know, this is the stress is the main thing that we need to look at and we need to reduce in order to have a better life.

Allan: 04:11 Now, I've had other authors on because uh, and you don't know a lot about my story, but I was, I was in corporate in the last three years of my corporate career was just a series of merry Christmas layoffs. And so I just was constantly going through this cycle. And so I actually, at that point I had started doing the podcast and I'm like, well, I have access to all of these authors and I would bring them on, granted, they all had value. They all brought value to me as I listened to what they had to say. Most of them though. What I found was that they, okay, kind of focus more on tactics and less on, you know, what are the things that are inside of us that we just need to know to actually resolve stress rather than cope with it.

Dr. Serin: 04:57 Right. And the tactics are great. You know, everybody wants recipes. Everyone, we're really hungry now for, okay, how do I follow this? The Paleo Diet. You know, how to like do this. The things we are culture of addition and we're a culture of doing. So we always want somebody to tell us, do this different, add this to your day, do all these things. And it's very easy to kind of bite off those pieces and think that you have something tangible that's worth doing. But honestly, we're completely misunderstanding stress. So while there are some tactics in my book, a lot of it is just I have to retrain you and understanding what this stress response really is and what it's doing. Because it's not what you think. You know, people are like, well I know it's you know about cortisol and it's about right hemisphere and left hemisphere and it's about debriefing and all these things.

And it's like, no you don't. There's a new neuroscience of stress that we've discovered. We have amazing brain imaging technology now and amazing the things that have just come on the horizon, the last three, five that people don't know about and we're still thinking about it in the old ways. And the result is, we're taking the tactics that people or telling us, and it's the same old stuff. Take deep breaths, meditate, exercise more, do yoga, but we're missing the point. And we're also giving people so much to add to their day that stress management becomes stressful. Because what that does is leave people feeling like, oh, I should have done all these 50 things today and I only did 20 of them and now I feel bad and now I'm more stressed out and I'm depleted. So we have to look at it a different way and we have to give people things to do in the moment to reduce their stress that are actually going to work. Because deep breathes are great, but they only work when you're mildly stressed. If you're moderately stressed out in the moment or higher than that, you cannot access the part of your brain and you cannot actually access deep breaths to override that system. It literally shuts down. So we're telling people in the moment that they need these techniques to use techniques that break down and then people are disappointed with themselves. It just doesn't make sense.

Allan: 07:00 Yeah. It's like you rush up to a 10 and you're, you're peaking at a 10, you know, red line all day, and then you say, okay, I'm to do this deep breathing and it gets you down to a nine, which is 10% better, which is, you know, in the moment it feels good. Uh, but you're still at a nine and you, you know, ratchet, right back up to 10 within a limited amount of time. Now in the book. And I like this, you kinda like walk us through, I guess for lack of it, the process of what stress is and you know, focus and core of our central nervous system. Could you take just a moment because I don't, I think I've ever really sat down with anyone and just talk through the central nervous system and how stress manifests there.

Dr. Serin: 07:44 Right? So stress is your body's in the moment reaction to a trigger. And so you have a network in the brain called the salience network. And what this network does is it's actually, it actually dictates what you get to pay attention to. So if you all, you know, whoever's listening, if you think about how you're feet feel right now, you were not paying attention to that a minute ago probably. And the reason why is because it's not salient. It's not important for what you're doing. If your salience network is working, you're mostly focused on this conversation with maybe distractions being woven in here or there, but if there's a loud sound, you will actually orient that loud sound as those and that becomes salient. And so the salients network is dictating how you pay attention to things because there's too many things going on in your environment versus how much you can consciously be aware of in the moment.

Okay, so it's funneling all the things that are getting processed and giving you a tiny little snippet to pay attention to. It's also turning up and down your stress, switch so you think about your stress switch like a dimmer is turning it up and down in the moment without your awareness based on what's coming in. So if you are listening to this conversation and you have a distract, a distracting thought gets automatically generated something like, oh no, I forgot to turn the oven off. Oops, I forgot to feed the dog. Your salience network is actually sending you that alert and it's also tacking up your stress switch so you will feel more stressed out than you did a moment ago because you had that automatic thought. Okay. Now this is being done for you in pre-conscience network. So we used to think, okay, I see a snake, I recognize the snake, and I go into fight or flight.

Nope, you see a snake, your salience network puts you into fight or flight, and then you recognize consciously after the fact what happened. It's two consciousnesses too slow of a process. That's why our bodies are biologically wired to go into fight or flight first. But what people don't realize is your body goes into moderate states of stress first without you even knowing why. And so then you have to go back and kind of explain why I think I'm stressed out because of this or that or this. You know, your heart's pounding and your stomach hurts and whatever else. And we're always trying to figure it out on the backend. But the reality is, is that these networks in the brain are automatically, and we call it the, that's why it's called the automatic system. It's automatic. It's doing it for us. And then we're trying to control it with the wrong networks.

And it doesn't work. So if your heart's pounding and you're in fight or flight and eat, you can even access the thought to breathe. You won't be able to breathe. So you can actually use breaths to bring your stress, which is from like a five down to a three but you really can't use that to bring yourself from a 10 down to a nine actually, because you can't access that you're hyperventilating at that point. And you're only all of your brain resources are focused at that moment is survival and sometimes it is a matter of survival. You know, I have snakes coming at me, right? And I have to run, but a lot of times it's my cell phone's ringing and I can't find it in my purse and I'm going into the state of fight or flight. That's not a matter of our survival.

But our nervous system is confused and it's turning on our stress, which too often, too much. And the result is poor quality of life, poor health outcomes, being irritable, lack of sleep, all these things that stress moderates.

Allan: 11:13 Now, in the book you talk about this, this concept called the pleasure principle. Could you take just a minute to go over. that?

Dr. Serin: 11:22 So when we're talking about pleasure, we're really talking about an in the moment. We are going to move towards things that have been pleasurable in the past or that are we think are going to be pleasurable,unconsciously. we're going to move away from, we're going to avoid things that are unpleasant. And again, these are choices that are being made for us. You think that your consciousness is doing all of the work, but it's not. So there's a lot of things people avoid and they don't even know why.Oor there's a lot of people, things that people do via the pleasure principle that they don't want to do. And this is where we get into addictive behavior. Um, you know, gambling, shopping, eating chocolate, you know, drinking, all these things. Anything that has brought us pleasure in the past and has regulated some of our neurochemistry, we are more likely to do in the future. So one of my biggest things when people say, well, if you know, let's say something terrible happens, like, um, your parent dies. Okay. What is your recommendation about behavior? And my recommendation is don't start any new bad habits because in those moments of despair, of grief, of stress, of whatever, if you start a new bad habit, then that is going to get locked into the, what we call the pleasure principle. And what it's gonna do is your brain is going to unconsciously signal you to keep doing that.

And so, and if you have an old addiction that's been dormant, let's say someone's been sober for 20 years and something really bad happens, they are way more likely at that point in their lives to go back into the addictive behavior. And this is why we get people relapsing after so many years, right? Because the need for regulation is so high. The need for relief, the need for feeling better because of the stress that people will look forward to in ways that are dictated by the pleasure of prince. So we want to understand that our behavior is not under as much conscious control as we think, but it's being controlled by the pleasure principle sometimes. And also distress, which and what it signals you to do. And when we understand that we can kind of do a better job of, staying away from some of those behaviors or regulating ourselves and also not beating ourselves up when we do do the things that don't make sense to us that have consequences.

Like, oh my gosh, I just, you know, went out and I'm on a diet and I just ate, you know, consumed a thousand calories of dinner and like, why did I do that? We have the answer. Well, you know, why you did that, you needed some regulation and your consciousness in that moment wasn't that powerful. But what we can do is we can hack into the stress system and lower the stress and then the cravings will go away. The likelihood of going into those behaviors go away. And even if you do the behaviors when you're not stressed out, you don't get that reward. Okay? So teachers know this, right? If teachers have a rough day with their class and they drink wine at the end of the day, it's really, really great. But if they have a fine day and they go home and drink wine, it's just like I could take it or leave it. So it's the in the moment reward that you're giving the brain. It dictates how good it feels, how likely you are to repeat that behavior.

Allan: 14:33 Okay. Now there's one final piece that I want to put together because what I'm kinda building a layer here, and you kind of did this in a book as well, which I really liked, was the 10 cognitive distortions. Can you kind of quickly go through those? Cause I think when you, when I put these three concepts together, you know, the central nervous system, particularly the salient network, a pleasure principles, and then these cognitive distortions. I think we kinda build a, the platform to understand why tactics alone really isn't enough when you're in that state.

Dr. Serin: 15:08 The cognitive distortions are basically ways of just thinking this is where we, we get consciousness in the mix. Now they said these other things we're talking about, well, very little to do with consciousness, but now we bring consciousness in and go, what is the quality of our thinking? Right? And if we can identify the cognitive distortions, we can lower stress through that and we can kind of put these all together. So an example of a cognitive distortion would be emotional reasoning. Well, and that's when you have a feeling and then you think it must be based on some kind of reality. And the reality is that we have feelings based on how much sleep we got that night or certain triggers.

I mean, we can show pictures of you, and or we can show pictures to people in psychological research. Let's say that they don't even encode visually. So you don't even know what you saw. But let's say if I flash really quickly a picture of an angry barking dog and a gun and something, you know, really like a, a terrible scene, you don't even know you've seen it. And then we start talking, you know, you'll have a more negative view of me. You'll have a different feeling about me than you would had I not done that or have you not seen those you know, preconscious pictures beforehand. So the brain isn't just this passive thing taking in information. We can prime the brain to go into all kinds of states. So if we think, oh, I have this feeling, therefore something horrible must have happened or this person might be bad or whatever.

We're using emotional reasoning and that can get us into trouble and increase our stress. The other thing we can do is, um, fortune-telling. We have no clue. Allan. No clue what is going to happen in five minutes tomorrow or the next day or in 10 years. We have no idea. And yet we all are making these predictions and depending on whether the prediction is negative or positive, we feel stressed in this moment. So we want to be mindful of, oh, that's me fortune telling again. And people with OCD and generalized anxiety, they have a really hard time with their brains automatically. Fortune-telling and also doing something called catastrophizing thinking that things are going to be horrible. Right.

So my mom has anxiety and my brother got laid off from a job a few months ago, he was a very high paid salesperson and she calls me going, oh, this is so he just, you know, his whole life is ruined. His wife's going to be so mad. He's not going to find a job… I said, stop, stop, stop. And I go, mom, go back to the book or put your touchpoints on because you have no clue how this is going pan out. And my brother's very intelligent, very resourceful, top in his field. Sure enough, within a week he had another job. He's doing great. Loves it. It's fine. Now, not everything works out fine. But the point is, is that in a moment you're making a prediction. You're fortunate telling you're catastrophizing. You're actually creating a tick up on the stress switch. So you may start off a three and then start to work yourself up and your thinking all the way up to a nine or a 10 or full-blown panic if you're not stopping yourself and realizing, oh, this is where my consciousness actually can help me when I'm a three, I can use my consciousness and this understanding to make it not go up to a seven or an eight at a level three you can take a deep breath and go, okay, I'm catastrophizing. I don't know how this is going to go. He's always had a job. He's resourceful. Things are okay, you know, and then your stress can stay at a low level. So sometimes our stress, which is our being turned up without our awareness and sometimes are conscious process is actually with our awareness, pushing our stress switch up. And that process is the one that we have the most control over. But all of the stress, which issues now can actually be hacked into with some new technology and some things that are not just thinking and paying attention and being mindful.

Allan: 19:17 Now, I had always, I, and I guess it's, you know what I've read what I've thought, how I've always viewed, stress is that it's, you know, it's just something you have to, you have to cope with it. Just something. But I guess recent research and particularly research that you've done, it's showing that, you know, we, we can actually flip that switch as you will, uh, the stress switch and cure stress from, from the perspective of putting ourselves in the position where we're in mildly stressful states that we can then through tactics deal with. Can you talk a little bit about that concept of curing stress?

Dr. Serin: 19:58 Right. So we need some stress. So, you know, when we're going to go perform, when we're giving a talk or if we're an athlete, we're going to, um, go into some states of stress. So we, this isn't to say that we're going to give people zero stress because zero stress means that you're dead, right? But we're talking about coping excess stress. I'm talking about that when your cell phone is in your purse and you cannot find it, you're not going into fight or flight because that's a waste of, that's a waste of stress, so to speak. Right? We shouldn't, you know, we should only be in the stress when we are in a life or death situation or when we're under, you know, extreme time pressure or things like that. And then we should go back to baseline. But that's not what's happening.

People's stress, which is are on, you know, maybe they're at a four or five pretty much day long, fluctuating up and down from that and their bodies are inflamed and they are, you know, their quality of their thoughts is automatically negative and those sorts of things. So what I'm talking about sharing, yeah, excess stress. I'm talking about a default level, a default stress, which motive of being pretty low. Okay. And then your stress will go up. If there's a really loud sound right now, Allan, or let's say a fire alarm went off and you and I both heard it, we would go into fight or flight. But we would go into fight or flight and our stress switches would be a 10 and then our bodies quickly lower it down to a default level, somewhere between zero and two that's what's ideal. This is what happens in nature.

You know, I'm a predator, starts chasing a zebra and the zebra runs away, goes into fight or flight and as soon as the Predator's gone, the zebra goes back to, well we call homeostasis low stress and then it starts grazing and hanging out and doing all that. The Zebra is not sitting there thinking, well what a lion that was, oh my God, I nearly escaped and I'm sure going to die tomorrow. These things. And so this is sort of the price we pay for consciousness. So we owe it to ourselves to create a low default stress switch, and depending on who you are and what you've been through, the prescription for that is different. But the technology that I talk about that I developed to prevent PTSD is one of the first steps. So you can actually have this technology on your body. It's noninvasive. It's just haptic micro vibrations that vibrate back and forth. And believe it or not, that adds an input into the salient network that's deciding what to do with your stress switch. And it lowers your stress switch. So the research is that it will lower your stress about 62% in 30 seconds. And that's with the sample of over a thousand people. And so if you have access to this, it can bring your stress, which down very, very quickly. And then people spot use it throughout the day to keep their stress low.

So we use that and then we also have people, the other, you know, cure part of this is a base of healthy behaviors and that's where you come in, right? A base of healthy exercise and diet and sleep regulation. And I don't mean when I say diet, I think people freak out. They're like, oh my gosh, I have to start counting macros and I need to, you know, go on the LCHFdiet, I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about a reasonably well balanced diet where you're not drinking two sodas a day, right? You're never ingesting things that have a huge spike, create a huge spike in insulin. You're not binge eating. You're not only eating white and brown foods. I'm talking about very basic, healthy diet principles. Okay? So you don't have to add two hours of obsessiveness to your day trying to maintain a healthy diet. Right? But just the basics, okay. You have the basics of the exercise, the Diet and sleep regulation, and then you add the technology and then you add some of the knowledge in the book. And I think that is all the recipe that you need for success unless you've been extremely traumatized or have PTSD, had a terrible upbringing. If that's the case and there's a lot of trauma in your childhood, then we add to the prescription things like EMDR therapy and maybe neurofeedback in our clinics. And so, um, but whatever the reasons or the case or however bad it is, we can cure the excess stress.

Allan: 24:23 Yeah. And I think, you know, as, as you know, as I talk to a lot of people come to clients, you know, on online, uh, just the conversation. I'm actually, I mean, I used to have this mindset that, you know, there can't be that many people with, you know, PSTD but I guess I'm coming to understand that as the world and the technology and everything has, has moved forward at this pace, all that kind of piled on to potentially childhood trauma to you know, just major things that are going on in our lives right now. Um, we're just over, we're over done. And it's really pushed a lot of people over that line to a point where yes, you need proper nutrition. Just make sure you're getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs, the protein it needs to rebuild and do the things you're getting, the proper sleep, so that your body can heal and recover and you're moving, you know, you have a movement practice where you're building a fitness level to be the kind of person you want to be.

And do the things you want to do. If you, if you're doing all of those behavioral things right, you still might find yourself just not able to flip that switch. Um, so I do want to talk a little bit about the technologies. So let's start with the EMDR. What is that? What's that kind of therapy like? And um, you know, if someone really does, they've got, they know they've got trauma, they've tried all the tactics, they aren't, they're eating well, they're exercising, their sleep isdisrupted because of the stress more than likely and maybe haven't figured out the sleep part, but they just know they're not getting where they need to and it's time for them to consider some therapy. What is this like, what would that be like for them?

Dr. Serin: 26:08 Yeah, I get patients like this all the time and you know, some of them have been to therapy. Some of them have been to talk therapy and while it was moderately helpful and they liked their therapist, they're still having these responses and it's not getting resolved. We have to resolve it at the level of the nervous system. If we don't do that, every time you get a trigger that's associated with something, your stress, which is going to go up to what it's default is for that trigger. So I think about, you know, someone goes, well I think about my ex-husband and it goes up to an eight and then I, and, and we're not, again, consciously trying to think about it. It's just sometimes the thoughts happen automatically or sometimes we get an email from them and then boom, eight, eight, eight, right? We want to change that.

So the EMDR therapy incorporates a lot of the ingredient of some other therapies. So it's sort of like cognitive behavioral therapy plus the therapists will use eye movements and also similar technology or the technology in the touchpoints which you can now use at home. Um, and those are just the vibrations that bring down stress. And so you process the trauma or whatever happened and sometimes you didn't even know what it is. All you know is that when something happens in your life now it creates such a stress response or panic that we start there and then you will start processing everything in your memory networks associated with that, whether or not you think it makes sense and then that gets resolved in the nervous system and then it doesn't take your stress switch up anymore. So it's that simple.

But we are so obsessed with consciousness and convoluting things and thinking that, you know, defining ourselves as our anxiety or this or that, that that I just need to whittle it down for people and say if we were thinking of something, and while you're thinking of that, you can get your body calm instead of the stress that becomes your new normal for that thing and then that will generalize to other things. And that's how we heal trauma. And that's how we create a different default in the stress switch. And the EMDR therapy does a beautiful job of that. In fact, research shows that if someone's got post traumatic stress disorder from a single incident, like let's say a near death experience or one combat experience, then they actually only need about six sessions of EMDR to cure it.

Allan: 28:31 Okay. And then the blast technique, which is the bilateral alternating stimulation tat tie, which you kind of talked about the touch points, it's, it's Kinda tapping into the salient network. Can you talk a little bit about that and how that works? Cause that's something that someone can use at home as, as needed, right,

Dr. Serin: 28:50 right. So if you think about, you know, if you in a loud, if you're at a conference and or a restaurant even and it's really loud and there's all these jarring sounds, you're going to feel more stressed out because your salience network is ratcheting up your stress switch based on all of that sensory information. But if you are in a dimly lit room with music and with calming things, your stress switch is actually going to be turned down for you because of that sensory information. All the blast does. Bilateral alternating stimulation in tactile form. I know that's a mouthful. Nobody, nobody's going to be tested on that. So we just call it blast. All that is is it's a better sensory input that will lower stress faster than let's say listening to a calm song or in a bathtub or something like that.

We're using a sensory network to downgrade the stress response in real time and we can do it very quickly with these alternating vibrations. It's amazing. So people can use those in situations where they're normally stressed out. So we have people using them during tests for test anxiety. Or, um, parents often struggle with kids who are sitting down to do homework and they hate homework and you pop it on the kids for kids and Tantrum or for cravings. Remember, if you're stressed out, you're more likely to want to reach for a donut versus a salad. But if we lower your stress, those cravings, will go down because there's no stress to regulate in that moment with a donut or alcohol or something else. Um, so there's all kinds of applications at home that you can use this technology for. And what I like about it is you don't have to stop what you're doing.

People go, well, what do I have to do? Like leave my desk at work and you know, meditate for five minutes and then go back. And I'm like, no, you, you don't need to do that. Um, in fact, good luck leaving your desk and trying to meditate for five minutes. You're probably not going to be able to willfully get your stress down enough to get into a meditative state. If you can that's wonderful, but most of us can't. So at your work desk is something stressful. You just put them in your pockets because they just have to be on one side or the other side of the body. So you can put them in pockets, socks. You can hold on to them with your hands. They come with a wristband so you can wear them on your wrists, but a lot of times people want to hide them so they don't want them on their wrists. Anyway you want.

Allan: 31:19 Yeah, someone's going to ask, why do you have two watches on,

Dr. Serin: 31:22 right? What is going on? Right? And actually we're using these incorporate wellness. So in a, in some companies now it's just sort of like, you know, everybody just knows what they are. It just becomes part of the culture. Like, Oh, I'm using my touch points, you know? And, or if HR has to deliver some bad news to people, they put the touch points on to lower their stress. So there's becoming a part of some companies, cultures, and it's becoming kind of this normal thing that you would do. Um, but for most culture companies it would be like, what are these weird vibrating things that you have and you know, what's going on? But the cool thing is, is that I'd had some, you know, mavericks in their companies just go, hey, think of something stressful. And people are like, okay. And they go hold these. And then people are like, wow, you know, and then they get it. So it's so instantaneous. It's relief that people get from it, that it's very, very easily, um, demonstrated. It's harder to explain than it is to just get these in people's hands and they feel an immediate relief and then it's very easy to understand, you know, why the person next to you ask these on. So,

Allan: 32:26 Yeah, I think if I, when I was in corporate and you know, as I was reading through, I was thinking I would just need wear them 24, seven one I was when I was in corporate, but, uh, hopefully they would, they would act a little bit faster than that, but I would have no qualms telling them, okay, look, you guys stress me the heck out. So, uh, I'm gonna, I'm gonna wear these on, on both of my wrists and a pair, all my ankles if I had to. But it's very interesting in the technology. It's very interesting, you know, kind of where we're going with this and just to say, okay, if the tactics aren't working for you it's probably because your stress switch is just way too high and some of these therapies are just something that you're gonna need to consider as a means of getting their stress point down to a point where you can actually use the techniques and get some benefit from them.

Dr. Serin: 33:13 Right. And not procrastinate and not avoid them too, you know? I mean, how many workouts have we not done because we wake ups, we're stressed out and we're like, oh, I just can't handle it today. Those are all cognitive thoughts that aren't true. You know? Of course we can handle it because if somebody forced us to do it, we could absolutely do it. Right.

Allan: 33:34 If a bear showed up you'd start running.

Dr. Serin: 33:36 They would run right? Oh, I can't run today, right? No, you can run today. But this is what you're telling yourself and what you're telling yourself is exactly correlated with where your stressed switches and that moment. So again, a lot of people think, oh well I think something and then I get stressed. It's not true. Your body is stressed. And so then you think something. So a lot of times with just the technology, you know, in touchpoints and certainly with things like EMDR therapy, positive, spontaneous spots are increased. just from that, so we know that it's not a one-way street where we're, it's not a top-down process of, Oh, I'm either going to choose to think positively or negatively. If you're stressed out, you can not, a lot of times you can choose to think positively. You don't have access to that level of thinking, but as you lower the stress switch, the positive thoughts suddenly emerge.

Things like, well, I guess I could handle that. I can do that. You know, I'm, wow, that's interesting. I had that thought that I couldn't run today, but I absolutely can and I know I'm going to feel better if I do it. So I'm going to do it. You know those things spontaneously re-emerge it's just way too hard to try to white knuckle this from a top-down perspective all the time. And just try to use consciousness, consciousness, consciousness to produce what we want. Um, we have to kind of fight ourselves to create these new habits. And it's really hard. We know it's really hard to tell people to change their behavior without some other kind of intervention.

Allan: 35:06 Dr Serin, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest, and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

Dr. Serin: 35:15 So the, the overarching principle is do things with high impact, right? So the first strategy I would say is to look at, um, the top three things, sleep, diet and exercise. And what would create the biggest boom, you know, what create the biggest impact you, if you were to shift. So a lot of people are only getting five or six hours of sleep a night. And if that's the case, the no brainer in that is seven to nine hours of sleep every night. And you know, make that a goal. So that's the first strategy I would use is to kind of tackle the big things, the big things that have the highest impact. Um, switch those up. Okay. And if your sleep is off, that's the absolute number one thing as you get your sleep back on track, if you can't get yourself sleep by on track, just by putting down your cell phone or know turning off the TV at a decent time.

There's other things you can do like ad orange glasses that will block out the artificial light and things like that. But you know, we don't need to get too detailed with it. So slay the major dragons is kind of the first thing. The second thing I would say is too, you asked me for three, right? Okay. So the second thing I would say is too pay attention. And this is in my book. Pay attention to how your choices perpetuate your own stress switch. So a lot of times, like I said, your stress, which is being turned up and down for you, that's not necessarily a choice. What is a choice is if someone does something that I don't like, it's a choice for whether or not I have three phone conversations that night to kind of complain about that to other people. That's me actually consciously ratcheting up my own stress switch.

Yeah. I want people to agree with me. Can you believe she said this and did that? Yeah, I know. That's terrible. Oh, you know, that's, those are the things that you can consciously cut out of your life. I'm not going to spend time complaining right, to other people. I'm not going to try to get other people upset about the things I'm upset about. I'm not gonna watch people fighting on the news. Right. That's a conscious choice. When you watch people fighting on the news back and forth, that's actually a conscious choice that you're making to be embroiled in upset. Okay. And anger and all these emotions while you're stress switch gets turned on. Okay. Why do you want to be in that state?

Right. You, I'm telling you right now you don't, it's terrible for your health. It's terrible for things that you have no control over. Like the political climate, unless you're in politics and all these things, why do you want to spend an hour or two a day surrounding yourself with people that are stressed out that don't need to be in your lives cause they're on TV. Right? And so paying attention to when am I choosing to engage and get other people riled up and what am I choosing to become riled up by things I can't control. And then you wipe that out and then you have energy to do things that are more positive. Right. Okay. So that's two. And you asked me for one more. I'm trying to think of one more. I think that my advice be if your default stress switch is high, if you're somebody that wakes up and it's high in the and you do have sleep disruptions and you can't seem to just choose all the healthy behaviors that you want to choose and maybe you had a traumatic childhood or you know, have had really traumatic things go on in your corporate life or whatever your family life, then I would consider therapies like EMDR, um, and really getting some professional help not because you're damaged but because you want to be well.

Allan: 39:07 Absolutely. So thank you so much for being a part of the 40+ Fitness Podcast. If someone wanted to learn more about you, your book and uh, touchpoints, where would you like for me to send them?

Dr. Serin: 39:19 So I have a website at amyserin.com that's amyserin.com and there's links to the book and or just touchpoints. Also, the book is available on Amazon. In fact, it hit number one for preventative medicine in kindle on Amazon a few months ago. Thank you. Yeah. And then I have clinics too. I'm at serincenter.com so if anybody's interested in working, you know with more of that cutting edge neuroscience and some of the treatments we talked about, then I do have clinics and um, would just love to help anybody that is seeking a more fulfilling, happier life.

Allan: 40:01 We'll have the full show notes 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/401 you can find all those links there. So Dr Serin, and again, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

Dr. Serin: 40:13 Thank you so much Allan.

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September 24, 2019

400 Episodes

Live like you're dying tomorrow, treat your body like you'll live forever.


Links mentioned in the show:

#GuestBook TitleGet Book
385Dr. Marc BubbsPeakPeak
242Dr. Sara GottfriedYoungerYounger
248Jeff GallowayThe Run Walk Run MethodRun Walk Run Method
317Dr. Adam NallyKeto CureKeto Cure
369Kathleen TrotterYour Fittest Future SelfYour Fittest Future Self
256Maria EmmerichKeto Comfort FoodsKeto Comfort Foods
338Dr. Jonny BowdenSmart FatSmart Fat
275Gretchen RubinThe Four TendenciesThe Four Tendencies
382Michael MatthewsBigger, Leaner, StrongerBigger Leaner Stronger
331Dr. David FriedmanFood SanityFood Sanity

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September 16, 2019

Are you committed?

Before we get into today's episode, I would like to ask you if you would take just a moment to vote for The Wellness Roadmap in the Author Academy Awards. We've made it as a top 10 finalist in the health category. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/finalist, and that'll take you to their website. You'll find a little arrow down the page a little bit. You can scroll to page 7 of 16 that's the health category. Just click on the book title, you don't have to give them any information about yourself. Just click on the book title and that will secure your vote for The Wellness Roadmap. Again, 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/finalist. Thank you. This award means a lot to me and your vote means the world to me. Thank you.

So today's episode is the third part of a mindset series. On episode 397, we talked about prioritization and time management by utilizing a tool that I created called the identity grid. You probably do better to go back and listen to the last two episodes, but you don't have to. I'm gonna try to make each episode stand-alone, but if you want to get the whole picture, I will probably be flashing back to that grid.

Also on episode 398, I kinda got into the getting the wellness, the things that you'll need to do to make that happen that include pushing outside your comfort zone, uh, applying your energies the right way and not overstressing yourself. Um, and then just looking at it more like a program rather than a project. So I'd encourage you to go back and listen to 397 and 398 if you haven't already, but I will try to make this episode stand-alone.

More...

Today we're going to talk about commitment. Are you committed?
I talked to my clients, fairly regularly about this topic. I've talked on the podcast about it a few times, uh, but I can't under stress or overstress that the importance of commitment. If you really want to accomplish major wellness changes in your life, it's really just not going to happen if you're not committed to change. Because change is probably the hardest thing for a human being to do. Our bodies are naturally designed to find balance, are naturally designed to get to a comfortable place under what stress and daily living requirements we have today. So if you can get away with being 200 pounds overweight, your body's gonna let you be 200 pounds overweight, uh, because you can, and you can get away with it. And we can work around all these different things that used to set us back, but we figure it out.

You know, um, if you're unable to get up from a toilet because you're older and your legs aren't strong enough, put rails in the bathroom now that's going to help you for a period of time and then eventually you'll probably lose that arm strength. I don't want that to be my future. So I've made a commitment to ensure that I keep myself healthy and strong. So that isn't my future. That isn't who I am. That isn't how I identify. So I've set up an identity for myself that includes doing regular fitness training. And so as you look at that though, showing up is hard. Our bodies naturally want to be in that balance. So what do we do to break that balance? To break what our body calls, what they call in our body homeostasis. While it takes stimulus, stimulus takes work. So if we want to improve our overall health, we improve the foods that we're eating.

If we want to improve our overall fitness, we have to push ourselves across the different modalities that we use to define fitness. If you've read the book of The Wellness Roadmap, uh, that's up for an Author Academy Award. I talk about that in the book. Fitness is basically fit for task. It means that you're capable of doing the things that you want to do in your life. So for me, at 105, I want to be able to wipe my own butt. I want to be able to get up off the toilet. So I'm going to need to be fit enough to make that happen. For some of us right now, fitness can be, I want to basically be able to go on hikes and spend time with my family and not be overly fatigued or down and out the next day. Um, I want to be able to lift things that need lifting around the house.

I want to be able to open jars for myself and my wife. I want to be able to do those basic things that as we get older, sarcopenia and Osteopenia kinda take away from us if we're not doing something about it. So how do we make this commitment and how do we make it a commitment that we're going to stick to? Because face it, all of us do resolutions. All of us do our diets, all of us have done fitness regimes before and failed. And the reason most of us fail is this lack of commitment, a resolution, a goal, a diet there. They're all words. We used to fail that because so many people do. There's no, there's no jeopardy to it. There is no disgrace to it. It just, yeah, I tried a new diet and I fell off the wagon. I'll get back on it on Monday.

Well, today's Tuesday a well, okay, well, yeah, Monday. Um, there's all these different reasons we don't do it. But a commitment is very, very different. When you make a commitment, you're starting from a point of self-love. You're starting from a point that's very, very deep and emotional. And if you've ever made that type of commitment before, you'll really begin to resonate and understand what I'm talking about when you say you're going to do something for someone you love, you do it. Um, if you say you're going to pick up your spouse at the airport at five o'clock, you're at the airport at five o'clock. So if you make the same kind of commitment to yourself with the same basis of self-love, that you're going to be at the gym at five o'clock, then you'll be at the gym at five o'clock and not at the drive-through at McDonald's.

So that's where this comes from. The commitment comes from this really, really deep, deep emotional well, it's gotta be something that really touches you. It has to be a part of, as I've said over the course of this last few weeks, it has to be a part of how you identify. If you don't identify yourself as someone who's getting fit, it's not going to happen. When you get married, you make the commitment. You go from being engaged to married. You go from saying fiance to spouse. Now, you might verbally trip that up a few times, but in your head you know that commitment's there, you feel that commitment, you've made that commitment and you made it in a rather public way. So I encourage you, if you're really looking to to make a commitment, start with something deep and emotional and then make it public.

Now I provide online personal training and you can come to me, go to the website, 40plusfitnesspodcast.com and you can find links there to look up our group training and you can make that commitment to us. We're on a Facebook group, we're on our regular weekly calls. You can email me, we can have regular conversations about this commitment you have and keeping you on track. So make it deep, make it public and then beyond all kind of know what this is going to look like. You know a lot of people get married young and they don't know that type of people they're going to be when they get older, they really haven't set that vision. That's why a lot of people will say, wait a little while before you get married, so you really know what you're getting into. So you really know the vision of the direction that your life is going to go and where you want it to go.

I got married when I was 21 now. Was that a mistake? I guess so because I'm not married to her anymore, but at the same time it was just a part of my life lessons and I learned from it. So I'm not going to call it a mistake, but I do know that if I had known my path a little bit better at that point in time and had a better vision and we shared that vision and it was the same deep and emotional thing, that commitment would have stood time. It just would have. But we didn't do that. So make a commitment. And again, I can't stress this enough, deep and emotional, make it public and know what it means. Have that vision. So you have the why and you have the vision and you put those together and you make it public. That's your commitment and it needs to be based on self-love.

It doesn't need to be based on fear. Fear will only get you so far before you forget the fear and you revert back to old activities, but love sticks with you. Fear is something you feel in a movie theater and then you walk out of the theater and you're not afraid anymore. Love is something that you just keep on feeling. It's deep. It's emotional, it's chemical. It's a part of who you identify as. So take the time to build a solid commitment so we can make this fitness and health thing happen for you. Like I said, if you need a coach, reach out to me. I'd be glad to get on a 15-minute call with you just to kind of fare at some of this stuff out so you can get a little, get to know me a little bit better so I can get to know you a little bit better.

Online personal training isn't for everybody, but if you want to just get on the phone, have a consult, absolutely free. Come check it out. 40plusfitnesspodcast.com and you're going to find a link right there on the sidebar. If it's, if you're on the phone, you may have to scroll down a little bit before you see it, but just get in there, get to know me and figure it out. We can help you set this commitment. We can get to your why, we can get to your vision. We can put that together into a very solid commitment that could change your life, so do check it out.

before you get too far away, please do take a moment to go over to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/finalist scroll to page 7 of 16 find The Wellness Roadmap. It's actually the first book on the list for health category at 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/finalist and then you just click on the cover and it'll take just a couple minutes for you to get over there and find the page and and vote for the book. I really do appreciate it. Go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/finalist and vote for The Wellness Roadmap today.

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September 9, 2019

Getting to wellness

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The following listeners have sponsored this show by pledging on our Patreon Page:

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Thank you!

Hello and thank you for being a part of the 40 + Fitness Podcast. Today we're going to talk about getting to wellness. This is going to be part two of what's basically now going to be a mindset series. I didn't originally plan it out to be a series but it looks like it's working out that way. If you didn't listen to last week, episode 397 where I introduced the identity grid, probably worth you taking an opportunity to go back and listen to it, either before you listen to this episode or after.

I'm going to try to make it make sense to you regardless of where you're coming into this series. But just know that episodes 397 through 399 are all a part of a three-part series where we're going to get into the mindset of getting well because most of the folks that will come into a gym or start a wellness program of some sort or another are really just feel kind of lost.

They're busy, they've got so much going on and they may not even know exactly what to do when they're getting started or they decide to try too many things and they fail from over fatigue. So getting yourself into the identity grid and looking at how that works. You could get a 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/grid and having that in front of you might help you a little bit with this, but like I said, I'm going to do my best to make sure that this episode makes sense in and of itself. So when you get started on a wellness journey, there's often so much opportunity, so many things that you can change. So many different things that you can do that it becomes very, very difficult to know exactly what is the right thing. And when someone asks me that, I always have to go back to what's your vision?

What are your longterm goals? I asked that question a lot. As you might imagine, and many times people don't really have a clear vision. They, they know that wellness is something that they're not. They know that it's probably going to involve some weight loss. They know that it's probably going to involve building some strength, probably involves building some stamina, but exactly how to get there is often where the struggle comes in. So as you start this journey, I'll just reinforce that you need to really break down your long-term goal, get something in your head that you can feel that you can, you know, almost see, one of the things I did early on in my fitness endeavors was I pulled out a picture of myself when I was 29 years old. Now at the time I was well into my early forties so there was, there's not much chance that I was going to look like I did when I was 29, obviously had a lot more hair.

Uh, even though I didn't have as much as I wanted at the time. So looking like that really wasn't something that I was interested in. But it kinda gave me an idea of if this person aged much slower than I had, what would I look like today? And I was always able to kind of go back to that benchmark and think of it in those terms. But I couldn't go from where I was, like I said, in my late forties to looking like that unless I did something special. And I knew that my body was not going to be capable of putting in the level of effort to look like I did when I was 29 when I was 29. I put a lot more time into the gym, typically 10 hours or so a week. And I just didn't really have that luxury of time, uh, as I was getting in there.

So it was very important for me to prioritize, which is again, where that identity grid comes in because it's going to help you balance out the four key aspects of your life. And if you know where you need to apply your energy based on who you are, how you identify in your entire life, not just as a wellness effort. Because if you just think of it in terms of wellness will, life's going to get in the way. So you have to make sure you take all of those things into account before you set your path. And then you have to know exactly where you're starting from if you're going to get to that vision. So I knew I couldn't put that amount of time in the gym. So I needed to be very efficient and very effective with the work that I was going to do.

And so I needed to go out and do the work and I needed to do it in a methodical and patient way. Now where a lot of people lose their way on this is that they either push so far out of their comfort zone by trying way too many things or they don't push their comfort zone at all. So I want to kind of talk about comfort zone for a little while because it's a very important line for you to understand. A lot of people will start a diet, they'll start an exercise program and a whole lot of other things all at the same time. And so if you decide you're going to go from the standard American diet and your regular drinks and your regular things with your friends and your regular life to suddenly, you know, and getting up off the couch and going to the gym five days a week, well you're going to experience some pretty staggering, uh, jarring things.

DOMS is a real thing. And a lot of my clients, you know, when they first get into an exercise regime, uh, they're dealing with DOMS and that's something that's very tough and difficult for us to deal with. But it is something that we just, we need to kind of manage, we need to go through.

So I would encourage you to find one or two big rocks as I say in the book. What are those big things that are going to move the needle a little bit for you? Get you moving in the right direction.

For a lot of people it's just cutting out your sugar, cutting out the processed foods, making that your first step on your nutrition is going to be a lot easier than saying I'm going to go full Vegan or I'm going to just eat, you know, grass fed meats and pastured eggs and you know, organic produce.

You know, making that drastic of a change might just be too far outside your comfort zone and sets you up for failure because the first day you find yourself pulling into McDonald's, you're dying. You know you're probably going to quit. Most of us do when we get to that point where we make that mistake, we get off of the plan, we're too far beat, you know, we, so I would encourage you to find that little thing that, that one big rock thing says a little bit big rock that you can put out there and you know that it's going to be working towards your health. Let that get set as a habit. Let that get set as a part of who you are, a part of your identity. And then the next step becomes easier. The same thing with fitness. Um, you know, initially you may, you don't need to go out and try to run five miles a day if you've never been running.

If you've been kinda couch ridden and, and not doing things sedentary, getting out and trying to run five miles on your first day is risk gonna probably break you. So get out for a half an hour and do a walk if you find that comfortable, push a little harder. So the other side of the comfort zone is that knowing how to push, we, we can't get where we want to go by doing the things that we're currently doing. So if you're very comfortable in your life right now, to get well is going to put you in an uncomfortable position many, many times. As I mentioned earlier, you're probably gonna deal with some muscle soreness, some Dom's, uh, you're probably gonna deal with achiness you know, that sometimes might even disturb your sleep. And if you're trying to change your food, you're not going to be able to eat the foods, drink the drinks, do the things that you were doing if you want wellness.

So as you look at moving towards that vision, you need to find your comfort zone and you need to push it. And the way I like to term it is that gentle nudges we want to get just outside the comfort zone until we expand that comfort zone. Once the comfort zone has been expanded, it's time to push a little bit more. Just that gentle nudge to get that comfort zone to expand. That's gonna allow us to progress on our journey. And that's gonna allow us to get the results that we need. Now, so many times as people approach this wellness journey, they approach it like a project. They're like, oh, well I'll go on this diet. I'll change the way I'm going to eat. And then when I get to my goal weight or my goal size, uh, then I'll go back to what I was doing.

So the, it's a project, they manage it like a project. Okay, I'm on the Diet and then I'm off the Diet. The project is there, the project is either successful or not, and then I'm off. That's not gonna work in the long-term. Aging is a slow declining curve. It's gonna take us down over time. So this needs to be more of a program, something that you're going to put in place. Something that is like I said, going to become a part of your identity. I see it a lot, you know, particularly with things like runners. I see it in crossfit. I see it in some other places where people will begin to identify with the activity that they're doing. You ask someone that runs who they are, they're going to say, I'm a runner. Uh, someone that does crossfit, they're a crossfit athlete. Um, they don't make any qualms about it.

That's built into the fabric of who they are, becomes a part of their identity. You look at a gym rat, they're in the gym every day. They identify with being a gym rat. They identify with being there. And it's not that you have to identify with being a gym rat or identify with being a crossfit athlete or a runner. It just means that you need to put this in your head that this is just a part of who you are. And as I mentioned in the last episode, when I was in college, I was a college student. I was a husband, I was a full time manager and I was a gym rat. Um, so I had a set period of time, two hours each afternoon between classes and my time as a manager at a retail pharmacy where I was in the gym every single day.

And that was just a part of my identity. It was part of my natural path, getting off the school, getting into my car, driving over to the gym, spending the time there, driving home, showering, and going to work. That was my normal schedule every single day, every single weekday. Anyway. So what you'll want to do is really kind of build this in over time. Slowly pushing your comfort zone and then just making it a part of who you are, so you kind of have this program that's in place. You've reprogrammed your brain, you've reprogrammed your identity, and that's going to be what's going to get you the most juice that's going to make you successful in the long haul. So this is not a project that you do and then you're done. This is something that becomes a part of you and then you're in this new position where it's a part of your identity and you can make some basic decisions. And those decisions are going to be around improvement and preventing regression.

So a perfect example is me. I tore my rotator cuff and there was a bit of a regression because I wasn't able to do the things that I was doing. I was lifting, getting much stronger and I really enjoyed doing that. I identified with that. But once I tore my rotator cuff, that kind of went out the window for awhile. I wasn't able to lift until I was healed and it's taken me, even today, I still have some strength loss in that particular shoulder. Um, so it's now I'm on a continual improvement program for myself where I'm gonna work on getting better and better and stronger and stronger. And I'm also being very careful to make sure that the issue I had with my right shoulder is not something that I repeat with my left shoulder. So I'm also on a program to try to avoid regression, try to avoid injuries.

So I'm being much smarter, much more fastidious about how I do my lifts, the types of lifts I do and, and I'm working my way through, but I'm still working on getting stronger. I'm still lifting relatively heavy weights and that's how you'd go about this. So it's kind of a recap and this was a shorter lesson, but it's a part of the three part lesson and I'd really encourage you to go back to episode 397 and and listen to that episode. Download the identity grid at 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/grid and kind of just go through that exercise and then come to this exercise where you know now that you kind of have a general idea of where you need to focus your energy and the amount of time and effort you're going to have. Start pushing that comfort zone in the areas that are going to give you the improvements you want.

You want to get stronger, you want to get a little more stamina. You maybe want to lose some weight or at least lose some body fat so that your body composition is better. All of those are good things for you to focus on and you probably know if you've listened to any of these episodes, you probably know a lot of the things that you can be doing to make that happen. Pick your big ones and implement them. Make it a part of a program. Make it something that you're now trying to put into you to make you comfortable at a bigger and higher and stronger and faster rate. Slowly pushing that comfort zone, the gentle nudges, making a part of your identity with program management. And then once you kind of start seeing things happen, adding more of those things that you know are going to improve you or at least keep you from regressing. So I hope you've enjoyed this episode. I'll talk to you next week.

If you haven't had a chance, I would really appreciate if you would take just a moment to go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/finalist. You get to that page, you're going to see that the author Academy Awards, we've been put as a finalist for the health category. So if you go to that page, 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/finalist, you'll find a page, go down a little bit. You'll see an arrow where you can scroll to the health category. It's on page 6 of 17. A little hard to find, but go to that page.

Find page 6 of 17 and you'll see the Wellness Roadmap is right there on the top. Just click on the book cover. They're not asking for your email, they're not asking for anything else. Just click that and that's your vote. Really appreciate the votes. I really do want to win this award. It means a lot that I was nominated as a finalist and a really would appreciate if you take just a moment, go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/finalist page seven of 16 and vote for the Wellness Roadmap.

Another episode you may enjoy

September 2, 2019

Productivity and time management

Patreons

The following listeners have sponsored this show by pledging on our Patreon Page:

  • Tim Alexander
  • Judy Murphy
  • Randy Goode
  • Debbie Ralston
  • John Somsky

Thank you!

They tell you when you start any kind of speech and any kind of talk, never start with an apology, but I am actually going to start this with an apology. I'm going to break that rule for a couple of different reasons. One is I'm actually going to do the audio producing for this when I've waited longer to do this episode because I'm actually quite been very, very busy. The other reason that I feel need to apologize is I'm recording this episode in a very empty house and there is probably going to be some echos, not the sound quality that you're used to having for both reasons. One, I'm doing the audio producing and two there's an echo in the house as I talk. And so the probably not the best listening quality that you've had with podcasts that I've done for you over the years.

And I apologize for that. But I do think the concept of what I'm talking about today is very, very important. And I do want you to pay attention to that please. So today we're gonna talk about a topic that I think is really missing in the health and fitness field because, you know, whenever I talk to someone about why they're not successful, why they're not showing up to work out, why they're not doing the things that they know they need to do, I typically get one very clear answer. I'm just too busy. So that has me kind of hitting my head and saying, okay, well why? Why are we so busy that we can't actually focus on our health and fitness when they are clearly important to us? So I'm going to walk you through something right now that I want you to really take some time to think about.

And if you're doing something else while you're listening to this podcast, maybe not the best podcast to listen to that way. Go back and listen to us again because I think this is really, really valuable. Particularly if you find yourself substituting time for health, substituting time for fitness and saying you just don't have the time because this episode is going to give you that tool. It's going to help you understand how you can prioritize this in a way that makes sense. Because so many people do the prioritization wrong. And so many people tell you, you should do prioritization this way. And I'm going to tell you that I know that's not workable and you're going to hear more as we kind of got through this, this session. So I want to take you back. So I want you to think back to a time when you were your most productive, best self when you were actually kind of had the energy and the capacity and just seemed to be on board just as boom, boom, boom, everything seemed to be working and I know you have one of those. I know you have a time where you felt like, okay, I'm, I'm touching all the bases, I'm doing all the things, I'm spinning all the plates, everything is working the way I want it to work and I'll tell you about myself and that time I was a college student, going to southern miss, majoring in accounting. Not An easy major but not a hard major for me. It was a good major. I got it, I understood it. I worked hard and I was taking the full load.

Anna was married and I had a full time job, but every single afternoon I was in the gym Monday through Friday, pretty much from two o'clock to four o'clock every single day I was in my mid-twenties I was looking good, I was feeling good. I had all the energy in the world. I was working that full time job. I was going to school full time and I was paying for it while I was going through it with the help of people that helped me get scholarships and do some other things. But all that said, I was making this thing happen and everything was firing on all cylinders. So who was I then that if I'm giving myself excuses to not work out now that's different.

And it was really about my priorities. People don't go to the gym, not because they know they shouldn't or they don't want to. They just end up prioritizing something else over going to the gym. They don't take the time to cook good food because it's easier to stop off at the restaurant and pick it up or go into the restaurant and eat it or worse, go to a fast food drive up window and get what they think they need for food. So it really kind of comes down to a, do you have control of your own schedule? And I think most of us would say, well, no, I have to be at work at nine o'clock and then I have to be there till six or I have to be there at eight until five or maybe it's, I have to be there at, you know, eight until 10 whatever it is.

If you're telling yourself that health and fitness is a priority, then you're going to do some things to make that happen. So if I'm going to school full time and I'm going to work full time, where are those hours? And what I found was they were right in the middle there, right smack dab in the middle of my face. I went to school in the morning, I scheduled my classes from eight to 2:00 AM I work scheduled on most weeknights, started at five I had two solid hours that I could be in the gym. And that's exactly where I was. So this was not so much about me trying to do more to be more productive. This was just literally me saying, this is my fixed time. This is my time when I was working for a corporation. And I wanted to get fit and stay fit.

I put it on my calendar from two to three was my gym time. It was my lunch. I wrote lunch on my schedule so that anyone wanted to schedule a meeting during that two to three time saw that that was my lunch hour. I wasn't available. I was busy and I was typically in the gym. Now obviously sometimes my boss would call me and say, hey, come on up. And it messed up with my gym time. But in a general sense, anyone who wants to schedule time with me knew that was booked out, banked out time. It's not their, it's not their time. It's my time. So how do we get to this point where we're comfortable telling the world that we're not going to work on their time, we're going to work on our time. Cause that's a very hard conversation to have.

It comes down to a couple of different things and one I'll, I'll point back to a book I read a fairly on in my career early on in my career. I want to say right now, the book's probably about 10 years old. Maybe not that all, but it's been a while since this book came out. And the book is called Essentialism. That's a very good book that allows you to understand that if you say yes to everything, then you're saying no to some pretty important things because you're just not going to be able to do them. They're not going to come around. So you've got to really break things down and understand what's really important.

Now, there's a lot of people that will tell you you need to have one core focus, one thing you're working on. And there's a book, it's called The One Thing, and it's on my reading list. I think I downloaded it on audible. So I'll probably be listening to it while I fly home next week. But it's, it's, it goes than that. You know, our lives are so complex that there can't just be one thing. You know, if you're, if your kid's sick, you, that's your one thing. If work calls, that should one thing. But what if you work calls while your kid's sick? Okay. And so what I've come to realize is that we have these identities. We have this thing of who we want to be and where we really want to be, but we have so many competing things, so many things that are coming about and saying, go here, go there, get this, do that.

So there, there never really is just one thing. There's often multiple things. Are they all equally important? No. At any given time, they're not. Some of them are more important than others, but they're, your priorities is going to shift. Things are going to shift. But if health and fitness are two of your priorities and they're on your radar, they're on your sites, then it's easier for you to make some decisions and say, okay, I get it. This is important, but I'm not gonna let it derail me because as soon as I get this done, I shift over to this, this health and fitness priority or this health priority or this fitness priority. So what I've done is I've created this concept called the Identity Grid and shout out to Rob. He is one of my clients. We were having a conversation about this concept and he's the one who kind of brought identity to that, to math as I talk about it.

So again, thank you Rob. I really appreciate you. But here's what the I Identity Grid is. It's basically four things that make you who you are. And I will say as I look at the email addresses of people that take my challenges, there's so many moms out there that I can tell you your identity is very much surfaced around being mom or now grandma a, there are many of us, like myself, my identity was about my business, about my work and who I was as, you know, an accountant, an auditor, as a c suite executive. That was my, you know, that was my identity. Now, does that mean that there's not opportunities there for me to have relationships? No. There's great opportunities for me to have relationships if I'm willing to work on them. There's great opportunities for me to work on my health and there's great opportunities for me to work on my fitness.

But if I focus on just one thing, then I just go to work every day and I, and I kill that. But I die in the process because I don't have the relationships, I don't have the health and I don't have the fitness. So in the identity grid, what you want to do is you want to pick four channels. My four channels have been career, relationships, health and fitness. Have I nailed all four of those? Well, no, of course not. Never. But if I keep those top of mind, those four channels than each morning, I have the opportunity to set my intention. So the real question would be when I wake up tomorrow on Tuesday, cause this episode comes out on a Monday, when I wake up tomorrow on Tuesday, what's my action in each of those four quadrants?

Okay.

What do I want to do for my health? What do I want to do for my fitness? What do I wanna do for relationships? What do I want to do for my career or in my case now my clients, I want to make them as healthy and fit as they can be. What can I do for my clients tomorrow? What's my one thing? What is the one thing that I can do for my relationships with my family, with my friends? What's the one thing that I can do tomorrow for my health and what's the one thing I can do for my fitness? So if I wake up each morning with a clear action, then I know I'm moving in the right direction now from the action,

okay,

we started establishing goals. So I want to work out three times per week. That's my fitness goal. That gives me an action that each day as I go forward, I have a specific workout that I'm going to be doing three times a week, five times a week, six times a week, whatever it is. That's my goal. So the goal is to complete the action on a consistent basis. I want to be reaching out and talking to my family members. I want to be out and doing things for my health, eating better, doing those types of things, with my career, my relationships with my clients. I want to make sure that I'm delivering results each and every day. So I have these goals. And then the goals, well, unfortunately goals are an approach where an obstacle can step in and actually kind of break you down.

An obstacle can come in and say, Hey, you wanted to do this fitness thing and go to the gym, you know, five days a week? Well guess what? You just tore a shoulder and there's your obstacle. Or a friend shows up in town and says, Hey, let's go out. Let's do this. And you're not at the, so there's going to be obstacles in against your goal, things that are going to keep you from being able to hit that goal. So what you then have to do is you have to build strategies. So as I kind of put these things together as you kind of, if you can to try to visualize this and I know it's very difficult, if you go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/grid, you're going to find a grid that actually puts all four of these together with each of the pieces that I'm discussing right now.

So I'd encourage you to go out there and check that out. Cause this is a great little tool that I just developed to help you work this through. So to work it backwards, think about this. You're going to have strategies in place to basically break down the obstacles. So if my obstacle is okay, my friends want to play poker on Friday, on Monday at two o'clock and I want to go play poker with them, I enjoy playing poker with them, but that's the best time for me to be at the gym because that's none of my clients schedule calls at two o'clock. I can go do what I want to do during that hour or two hours. And I wanna work on my fitness also. It's the best time for me to go to the gym because that's the slowest time at the gym, which means I'll be able to get to all the machines I want to.

I'll have very efficient and effective workout. So if my strategy is avoid the poker game until three o'clock go get your workout in. Yeah, I'm a be a little sweaty when I go play poker. But Hey, they, they, they can put up with it. If they're getting my money, I have an obstacle and I have a solution and if I wanna do something enough, I'll set a goal. I'll set a goal to be there and do it over and over and over. And the goal is to complete that action and that action is aligned with one of my channels. So I'm not just setting a goal for the sake of setting a goal. I have an intent. I have a purpose, I have something I want to accomplish. So if it's getting into the gym every single day, five days a week, I have an action of going and getting in the gym, doing my workout.

The goal of doing it five times per week. The obstacles are there. I just have to have the strategies in place to make it happen. Now the reason I really liked this model is it, it aligns with something that resonates with me, which is called the be do have. And this is a mindset where if you want to have something you can't just acquire with money, you have to make it happen. And the way you make it happen is you set your mind to that person who is the person that has that thing. So who is the fit person? Who is the person that people compliment because they'd taken care of themselves and they're in good shape. They're the person that that emanates that and they then do the work. So the B means believe in yourself. Believe in who you are, have the self love to go through this whole process.

Have the self-love to download this grid and to sit down and spend some time thinking about where are your failure points? Where are the points where you're not getting what you want? Where are the points where if you applied your energy in the right place, a k a time management, you would get exactly what you want. This grid will help you do that. So have the self-love to do that, to downgrade that, download this grid to spend some time thinking this through because I will tell you this, straight up, health and fitness is 90% mindset. It's, it's, it's nothing hard, but it's the hardest thing in the world if you don't have the right mindset. So I strongly encourage you to spend some time thinking about your mindset, thinking about your goals, thinking about whether your goals and everything you're doing, your, your identity, is it aligned with the person that you want to be? And if it's not, that's where we have to start. We've got to align ourselves with the mindset to be the person that we want to be. Because if we're not that person, we won't get what we want.

If today's episode resonated with you, I really do encourage you to go out and check out the Identity Grid. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/grid and get that worksheet today. I really do believe it's a great tool to help you get to the fitness and the lifestyle and the things that you need and want in your life. So please go check it out. 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/grid.

Another episode you may enjoy

August 26, 2019

The 9 most common diet mistakes

Patreons

The following listeners have sponsored this show by pledging on our Patreon Page:

  • Tim Alexander
  • Judy Murphy
  • Randy Goode
  • Debbie Ralston
  • John Somsky

Thank you!

Have you lost your edge and by edge I mean your ability to do the things, to have the energy to be as sharp as you used to be. For most of us over the age of 40 the answer is no and I want to help fix that for you. Please go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/edge. I have a short video there. Really do believe. I have some strategies that will help you regain your edge, regain your focus, and get back on top. 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/edge

On today's episode, I'm going to share the nine most common diet mistakes that I see out there.

Calling it a diet

The number one most common diet mistake I see is calling it a diet in the first place. The word diet now in our lexicon of language has become a temporary fix, a temporary thing. So I'm going to go on a diet, lose the weight I want to lose, and then I'll go back to being me again and eating the way I was eating before.

That's a recipe for disaster. I

f you want to lose weight and keep it off, you've got to come up with a plan that's sustainable in the long run. Now you can have some intensity at the beginning that then tails off into a maintenance, but in a general sense, the way you ate left you the way you were, and if you go back to eating that way, that's exactly what's going to happen to you.

So instead of thinking about dieting, think about ways of eating. Try to find something that's sustainable that helps you get to a healthy, happy weight that you can keep doing. And so it's a way of eating versus a diet. And if you have that mindset, it's going to make this a lot easier.

Not consulting with your doctor

The second most common diet mistake that I see is not consulting with a doctor. If you're going to significantly change the way you eat, your body is going to start reacting differently.

And this is particularly important if you're on some forms of medication like Metformin or insulin. Changing the way you eat, sue significantly can really be devastating to your body and not being prepared can put you in a dire situation. So talk to your doctor, let them know what you want to do, and then get their guidance on maybe how you're going to change up your medications or other things that they know about your health history that they can bring forward to make sure that what you're doing is appropriate for your health and for yourself. So make sure you consult with your doctor before you start a diet or a way of eating rather.

Not drinking enough water

The number three most common diet mistake that I see is not drinking enough water. Many times people will go to these meal replacement shakes and they feel like they're getting enough liquids because they're drinking, they're drinking some of their meals, but the reality is our body needs more water when we're losing weight for various reasons, and one of the core reasons is that when we're gaining weight, we're putting that fat on our liver does.

It's really kind of sneaky thing in this toxic world. It likes to store those toxins in the fat makes this job really, really easy to store these toxins in the in the body fat and we don't have to deal with them. Now that you're starting to lose that body fat, those toxins are getting freed up and your body needs the water to help wash those toxins down because the deliver and the kidneys now need to do double time. They've got more toxins coming into the system and they need that water to help process and get those toxins out of you. You may notice when you go on a diet, sometimes you get a headache that can sometimes just be of the release of those toxins and until you kind of get them flushed out of your system, you might not feel too good. So make sure you're getting plenty of water when you go into a new way of eating a diet.

Macros

The fourth most common diet mistake I see is not having an awareness that, or having too much of an awareness on your macros. Some people completely obsess about the amount of carbs they're eating, about the amount of protein they're eating, and that obsession is just not healthy.

It's good to be aware of how much you're eating so that you know you're getting the appropriate energy. You know that you're getting the appropriate protein, but just getting too deep into it or not paying attention to it at all is a recipe for disaster, is basically telling your body, I don't care how much food you want, you're only getting this many calories and that's it. And not getting the protein you need. Your body might start leeching your muscles to lose that weight. And while you see the scale go down, it's not a good, it's not a good movement of the scale.

It's not a good look either. So make sure you're getting enough of what you need. But once you're in it, typically we eat the same foods. We eat the same way on a regular basis. So at that point you're generally going to know what you're getting in your food and it'll make a lot easier to track and keep up with if you need to at all. But you do need to be aware that your giving you enough, your body, enough of what it needs to meet its basic requirements. So it's not all just calories in, calories out. You need to know that you're getting the other macronutrients that your body needs.

Micronutrients

The fifth most common diet mistake I see is not having an awareness of the micronutrients. If you choose to eat vegetarian or Vegan, there's a high possibility that you're not getting enough B12 or any B12. That all comes from animal products and if you're not eating animal products, you might not be getting the B12. You need to monitor yourself because you may need to supplement.

Likewise, if you're doing a low carb diet like keto, you might not be getting the electrolytes, the magnesium, sodium and potassium that your body needs and therefore you're going to face some problems, cramping and other issues and just not really feeling good. So making sure that you know what's in your food that you're getting the micronutrients necessary will allow you to potentially do the appropriate supplementation for the things that you are not getting. It's not that your way of eating is completely wrong. Just need to make sure you're getting the micronutrients. And then two other micronutrients I wanted to mention while we're all on the topic is zinc and iron. There's specific foods that we get those from.

So monitoring those and making sure that you know you're getting the appropriate micronutrients and your food. Really, really important. Food should be about nutrition. So in talking about micronutrients and macronutrients, we want to make sure we're providing appropriate nutrition, but also meeting our goals with this new way of eating.

Not planning things out

The sixth most common mistake I see is not preparing or planning for contingencies. If you decided you want to go vegan and you are going to be going over to a family member's house, now you may have told them a hundred times that you're Vegan, they might not have prepared something that's appropriate for you to eat and therefore you're going to go hungry. So be prepared. No, no what you're going know what's going on and and have those, those quick things, have the things available, eat before you go if you need to. But just recognize that your way of eating might not be supported in every situation where you're going to find yourself.

So you've got to have a plan B, you've got to know what's going to go on so you can make sure you stay true to your way of eating your diet.

Mental preparation

The seventh most common diet mistake I see is people not mentally preparing for the transition. If you're really good about your diet and your eating and your way of eating, and you're doing the right things for your body, your body will start to change. And with that, the way certain people may treat you, the way your clothes fit, all of those different things have an emotional perspective to it. And if you haven't mentally set yourself up for what that's going to be like, it can be a little jarring. And if you're not the person that likes to be the center of attention and you're going to a party and everybody is asking about the 30 or 40 pounds that you lost, just be prepared.

You might have to explain this is keto, and they're like, well that's dangerous. You're now, now you're in a conversation. So just recognize that you need to mentally prepare yourself. You did your research, you know you're getting the nutrition that you need, you're giving your body what it needs, and as a result, it's rewarding you with this weight loss. Just be prepared that afterwards you might not feel the same way, be the same person and you might get treated differently. So being in a position to know that that's the case, we'll make that transition much, much easier.

Plateaus

Diet mistake number eight that I see the is not mentally preparing for a plateau. A lot of folks will drop six pounds the first week and then two or three pounds the second week and then maybe two more pounds. And so that's a good solid 10 pound loss.

But then it stops. Your body is adjusting to your new way of eating and you're not losing the weight nearly as fast. That can be very, very disarming. That can be, you know, very, very disappointing. And in many cases, a plateau of more than a couple of days can wreck somebody's diet. They can wreck their way of eating. So the core of this is to know that plateaus are going to happen. It's actually a healthy part of your body. Finding that equilibrium, finding that status of, of breakeven and, and adjusting to it. So you need to be prepared for plateaus, know that they're there. And then at that point you can put together strategies to try to get past it. But you've got to come from the perspective of, of having patience and persistence. To know that any changes that you do might not give you the same rate of loss that you were seeing before, but as long as you're moving in the right direction, it's a good thing.

But plateaus are always going to be a part of it. So just prepare for the plateau. It's going to happen. And if you've got the right mindset going into it, you'll recognize it. You'll be able to make adjustments and probably get through it a lot faster.

Food quality

The ninth most common diet mistake I see is ignoring food quality. You know, the, the package companies out there, they, they love, love, love when a new way of eating comes about. So you know, when Atkins got big, now they have Atkins foods. When keto got big, they have keto food. You can go through any grocery store and just about any major way of eating, you're going to find boxes with that food in it. They're either going to be in a freezer section or they're going to be on the shelves, but every single way of eating comes up with a food product.

So rather it's nutrisystem or weight watchers or whatever. If there's a way to market that diet, they're going to do it. And in doing so, you are now moving to processed food. It might fit your macros and might fit your micros, but in a general sense, it's a process, food stuff and it's not what your body really needs for true nutrition. So don't be fooled into the shakes.

Don't be fooled into getting into the processed foods because they're convenient and easy. Yeah, nutrisystem will mail you those meals and you can, you know, put them in your cabinet and they last for years. If it lasts for years, it's not actually real food anymore. There's, there's a lot in there that your body doesn't need, won't process. Well, and while you might actually lose weight, you're putting more toxins in your body, you're making it more difficult on your body, and you're not necessarily improving your health with these processed foods.

Going it alone

And I'm going to go ahead and throw in a bonus mistake is I think too often people try to go into their diets by themselves. They do it in quiet, they do it in private often for good reason. If you try something and nobody knew you were trying it and you fail, did you really fail? As soon as the tree falls in the woods and nobody's there to hear it, did it really happen?

So if you're concerned that you're not going to be successful, that you're not going to tell anybody, well then there is no accountability and there's a higher probability that you're probably going to fail because you've set yourself up to fail. So I would strongly encourage you to find an accountability buddy, really someone that will step in and be there to help you.

Now I do online personal training and I would love to be that buddy for you if you want some supervision, if you want some accountability, if you want someone that's going to be in your corner through all of this, through the change and dealing with that through the plateau and dealing with that, talking about the quality of your food and talking about what kind of foods you're eating and your justification for your way of eating and kind of putting it all together with you.

I would love to be that person. Just email me, Allan@40plusfitnesspodcast.com. I would love to sit down and have a conversation with you about the ways that we can work together to help you be successful in your weight loss efforts.

Another episode you may enjoy

The health habit with Elizabeth Rider

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Thank you!

One of the best ways to see a significant change in your health and fitness is by adopting healthy habits. Elizabeth Rider through her book, The Health Habit, helps you set those healthy habits and provides over 300 recipes to make it even better.

Allan: 01:10 Elizabeth, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

Elizabeth: 01:13 Hey, thanks for having me.

Allan: 01:14 You know, I'm really excited to talk about your book, The Health Habit: 7 Easy Steps to Reach Your Goals and Dramatically Improve Your Life. And kind of the subtitle of that is actually what is so attractive to me because I know from experience and working myself and with my clients is once something becomes a habit, it's just this automatic thing that you do and it makes staying healthy so much easier. The more of these health-based type things that you stack on top of each other. So I really appreciate having the opportunity to talk to you about this book in particular and then about habits and kind of approaches here.

Elizabeth: 01:55 Yeah, I'm thrilled to be here, thanks. I love talking about habits, I'm all about habits that people enjoy. So this, the book was really a quest for me with my online audience and now my book to find a way to build habits that we truly enjoy and look forward to and not create something that feels too restrictive or like a prison every day. So this book is 10 years in the making and I'm really excited to share it with everyone.

Allan: 02:24 And yes, with 10 years in the making. Wow, it's very well put together. It's very well structured. It's a very easy read. I really enjoyed that part of it too. Like you're just kind of your common sense approach that if we go at this too restrictive, we're setting ourselves up.

Elizabeth: 02:43 Yeah. I mean, I've been a health coach for, oh gosh, seven or eight years now and I've been blogging for over 10. I started blogging before Instagram was even invented before influencers were a thing. I've just been blogging for a long time, which led me to do, um, to host online programs. And this book really came from pouring over the feedback forms of over 10,000 women who have done my online program and really trying to get at the root of, we know how to be healthy, right? We know that every woman on the planet knows that blueberries are better for you than snickers. We know how to be healthy, but why is it, why does it feel hard and why aren't we doing it? And really when I pour over the feedback forms, the overwhelming majority was that people, just women especially I think men too, but you know, I work mostly with women feel so restricted and that they know they can stick to a quote diet for a short period of time, but they always fall off. So what I, what my work has been is how do I help these women build habits into their daily life based on what they already enjoy instead of just prescribing a completely new way of living. Because that, you know, that's difficult for people. Again, we can, anybody can do anything for a week or even 28 days, you know, a certain period of time. But we eventually slide backwards into old habits. So instead of prescribing a completely new lifestyle, how can I help you look at your current lifestyle and just make tweaks to make it healthier.

Allan: 04:08 Yeah. Most people, you know when they're going to make a change. So there's, okay, I want to get healthy. Or the doctor tells them, you know, hey, you need to lose some weight, or there's a family member that that gets sick and has a chronic disease. And they're like, okay, I don't want that to happen to me. So they kind of have this immediate kind of wake up and then they're going to set goals for themselves, but we suck at getting to our goals. So in the book you talk about 4 reasons that we're not meeting our goals, do you mind going over those four reasons?

Elizabeth: 04:39 Yeah, no, I'm happy to. For me, what I've noticed with people with goals is, and I have a business background. I came from corporate America before I became a health coach. And what I started to notice, what I started to notice was, and I think this process works in all areas of life, but what I was noticing in health especially is a woman who would say like, I would say, well, what's your goal? And she would say, well, I want to lose 15 pounds, or I want to sleep better, or I want more energy. And those are great places to start. So it's not telling people no, you're wrong. But really at the root of it, those are desired outcomes and goals need to be daily and actionable. And we learned this in the context of business. Smart goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

Elizabeth: 05:22 And we don't need to get businessy, you know, in the context of our daily habits. But we do need to set daily, actionable goals. So you still want to have an outcome in mind. If it is, you know, you know you feel better at a certain weight and you want to achieve that. If you just need more energy during the day, if you want to sleep better, if you want to reverse symptoms of a condition that you have, those are all great places to start with their outcomes. And we need to work backwards and figure out what are the daily actionable goals that you can have to actually achieve that. So for instance, if somebody wanted to lose weight. A daily, an example of an a daily actionable goal would be no matter what the first thing you eat in the morning has to be low in sugar because if you spike your blood sugar in the morning, it's proven that you can eat up to two to three times more food during the day or engaging in time restricted eating, which is a horrible word.

Elizabeth: 06:10 It's a form of intermittent fasting. It's way easier than it sounds. Just reducing that window, not reducing the amount of food you eat, but reducing the window during the day in which you eat your food. For instance, you eat from like 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM and then you're done eating at 6:00 PM and then you don't need to get until 9:00 AM the next day. So you're just giving a longer window for that fast that we do overnight. And in the book there's a ton of resources and ideas to meet a variety of different goals. But I want people to get out of the idea that a goal is this like big accomplishment that at the end of something, and we don't even know how to get there. The goals have to be daily and actual. So that's the first thing is just people confuse outcomes with daily actionable goals.

Allan: 06:53 Yeah, and I liked in the book you talked about, so basically we have, we have what we call I guess desires and then we take that over to actions and then we have outcomes. And so if your goal is desire bound or outcome bound, it makes it that much more nebulous and difficult for you to know that you're on track.

Elizabeth: 07:12 Absolutely. I think that's, you know, the second mistake I talk about with people is that they misunderstand the feeling that they desire. So any action we take is driven by desire. And I think sometimes on the surface, and I'll use, I don't, you know, I'll just tell you a side note real quick. I really did not want to write a weight loss book. And I intentionally wanted to keep this book out of the weight loss category because I think women are bombarded with this idea that we have to lose weight and it's generally not true. However, I think that we all know as individuals that potentially we feel better at a certain weight or there's been a time in our lives when we felt better at a certain weight and there's nothing wrong with that. So I'm kind of neutral to weight loss, it's not a good thing.

Elizabeth: 07:51 It's not a bad thing and you can have your own desires. But I intentionally wanted to keep this book out of the weight loss category and Amazon chooses the categories, the author and the publisher do not choose the categories that goes into. And of course the first category went into is the weight loss category. So, you know, we can't control everything and that's fine. But, um, so I'm using weight loss as an example here, but you could use these for, you know, energy or sleep or any of the other things that we talked about when it comes to weight loss specifically, I think a lot of women think that they desire weight loss because they'll feel better. You know, they'll, they'll have higher self confidence or something will happen and then we lose the weight or something happens and then we realize that it didn't meet any of the desire, that we don't feel the way we thought that we would.

Elizabeth: 08:35 And when it comes to weight loss specifically, I think focusing on vanity is not a bad thing. It might be like the first thing that you think of. Like I want to look a certain way in my clothes, which again, there's nothing wrong with that, but it has to be driven by a deeper desire to feel good. I know for myself, if I let vanity drive any of my goals, they all fizzle out. So really understanding what do you desire, how do you want to feel? Do you want to feel confident? Do you want to feel accomplished? And I go through a lot of different desired feelings in the books. You can really determine how you want to, how you desire to feel, because that will drive what your daily, actual habits are.

Allan: 09:11 Yeah. You know, I tried to tell my clients, so, you know, vanity vanity is not bad when you, it's based on work that you've done. So if you've gone out and spent 20 weeks of training your body of watching what you eat and you've gotten to, you know, body composition that you're just really, really proud of, be proud. Uh, but the, the vanity that you see a lot of times on, particularly on the social media where they're comparing themselves to someone else, you know, that's often kind of the struggle is, you know, I'm not going to look like, uh, you know, Dwayne Johnson, no matter how much training I do, uh, you know, but that said, I can be a better person myself and I can feel better about myself if I'm doing the right things for myself.

Elizabeth: 09:57 Absolutely. And Vanity. I'll just say I think women, women especially, I know I've had this internal struggle a lot and I've talked to a lot of women about this and it's taken me a while to overcome it, but you know, on the surface we start to feel like, oh, vanity is bad. So once we, once we kind of say, okay, I can't just be driven by vanity, then we start to, we swing the other way and we think the vanity is bad and really just like weight loss. It's, I hope that women can come to a more neutral, men to a more neutral position where vanity is part of your biology in the sense of not, you know, putting Mascara on and lipstick and that type of vanity. But all animals groom themselves. You know, when we look a certain, when we look healthy, when we look a certain way, it attracts a mate. And that's a biological process. It's ingrained in us to want to look good. And so I just want women to know like it's not, it's not bad to want to look good, it's just part of your biology. It's like you just said, it's not going down that comparison rabbit hole because, hey, look, I'm friends with a lot of Instagram influencers and I know that they take 500 shots to get the exact pose together to get it. Hey, you know, there's that too, but we can't compare ourselves to that.

Allan: 11:02 Yeah, yeah. And then, then they, they dehydrate themselves and fast for three days before they do a photo shoot and then, you know, Yeah. So we've gotta we've gotta be realistic. Um, another area you went into the, in the book that I really enjoyed was you started talking about vision boards. Could you get a little into that?

Elizabeth: 11:20 Oh, yeah. I mean, visualization is a proven technique to help you achieve what those desired outcomes and goals are. It's what, you know, if we even at a higher level, like Olympic athletes are our coach to visualize themselves winning because it is proven that that can help accelerate their progress. So visualization is so important. When something is in our mind, we gravitate towards it. I mean, the most simple example, we know this if like if I tell you today or I'm really into red cars, now all of a sudden when you're on the road, you're gonna notice a lot of red cars, right? Because it becomes, it comes to the forefront of our mind. So anything that you look at all day, every day, and this is why your environment is so important. I talk about this, your environment in the book as well. If you are in an environment where there is a bowl of candy on the counter all day or at your desk or whatever it is you're looking at all day, of course it's going to be the only thing on your mind. You're looking at it all day. A Vision Board is a similar thing where when you can take what you want to achieve and actually physically put it in front of you, your mind will naturally gravitate towards whatever it is that you've put up there.

Allan: 12:29 Yeah. Like if you visualize yourself being able to scoop your grandchild up when they come to visit over the summer and be able to walk the zoo with them with no, you know, not without having too much fatigue where you're just pooped out and have to sit on the bench. You know, those are visions that you can have for yourself and then they're going to somewhat manifest in the activities that you start doing because that's what you're, that's what you're preparing yourself for. It's more like training than work.

Elizabeth: 12:56 Yeah, absolutely.

Allan: 12:57 Now you use a concept in the book that I just adore. It's called the qualitarian. And so it's effectively saying, you know, however you're choosing to eat or what, like as a way of eating via Keto or Vegan or some of the other things that you might use, like Mediterranean or dash or all those different titles or labels that we have for the different diets that are out there. Most of them diets are intended, okay, you're going to do this for awhile and then you're going to quit. But you're looking at it more from the lifestyle perspective and that leads us to qualitarian, what is it? And you have some commanding principles that I think are really crucial for us to know.

Elizabeth: 13:38 Yeah, the qualitarian weight is, you know, I've been, like I said, I've been a health coach for a long time. I've literally seen every diet and eating style available and something I'll talk about really quickly, I talk about this in the book and people can go through this to determine which one they are both before the qualitarian wayeEven just understanding are you an abstainer or a moderator? Because one of the biggest problems right now that I see in health and wellness is that coaches don't understand the difference between somebody who does well in an abstainer model and somebody who does well in a moderator model. And if somebody gets into a program that, like if you're a moderator and you are trying to follow an abstainer way, it's going to be very difficult and same the opposite way. If you're an abstainer and somebody is trying to tell you to moderate, it's going to feel difficult.

Elizabeth: 14:23 And really you just can determine that by which one makes you feel more free. So an abstainer would be somebody that follows something like the whole 30 or Vegan or some a very strict diet label that you feel more free with fewer choices and some people feel that way. And I'm sure there are people listening to this right now that are going, yeah, yeah, I do feel better when I have a very strict rules that feels good to me. I know exactly what I'm doing. I like that black and white structure.

Allan: 14:49 You actually described me, I'm an abstainer.

Elizabeth: 14:51 Okay, great. Yeah, that's awesome. And then there are people, I'm a moderator. There are people like me who that makes me feel so heavy and restricted and it makes me feel like I'm in prison. I hate that feeling. I do really well on a moderate or model where it makes me feel more free to know like I'm going to follow a certain way of eating a qualitarian and I'm going eat real food, high quality food. And occasionally if I want to have pizza, I'll still have really high quality pizza, you know, made from the best ingredients. But I don't, if I have one slice of pizza, I'm good. That makes me feel more free. I don't need to have more. Right. I don't, it doesn't, it's not the model of like, you can't just have one. I'm like, yeah, actually can just have one. Um, but everyone's different. So like you just said,

Allan: 15:37 I'm eating half or the whole pizza, just depending on how good it tastses.

Elizabeth: 15:40 yeah. Yeah. So really determining, you know, which, which model do you fall under? And because if you're a moderator, like I don't label my eating habits. I think if somebody hung out with me for the week, they would think I was Vegan because most of the food I eat is Vegan. I gravitate towards that. I really don't do dairy or animal products. However, I might be out at dinner with a girlfriend, um, you know, and have a glass of wine. We might share like a flatbread or something. And, and that feels good to me, but some people, like you just said, you're an abstainer, you know, that is you just like the black and white rules. That feels better too. So really we have to find which of those things work better for us. And then within that model, the qualitarian way means that no matter what, whatever food you decide to consume, whether it's, you know, your salad or your pizza or you know, your bowl, your smoothie, that you choose, the highest quality food that you have access to. Meaning, one thing that I see a lot, and I think you know this too, everybody's on the Gluten Free Bandwagon and hey, I don't eat a lot of gluten either. But what happens is people end up buying gluten free, junk food, right? And gluten-free junk food is still junk food, you know, packaged, processed. Just because it's gluten free doesn't mean it's not made with stabilizers and preservatives and denatured oil and high amounts of sugar.

Allan: 16:57 Yeah, I've watched this cycle so many times. You know, something will come out like gluten free or like keto. And so this idea comes out and everybody wants to try it and then all of a sudden you start seeing the freezer section in your grocery store has a little section of it now and then it gets bigger and bigger. And then there's a whole section over, you know, what they call the health foods section, where you're going to have all of these Keto friendly foods or these gluten free foods and you look at the label and it's not food anymore. It's, it's basically manufactured, um, calories.

Elizabeth: 17:34 Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, under the current qualitarian model, the qualotarian way, I think the most important question to ask, whether it's plant based or animal based, what's the quality of this food? Am I eating the highest quality food that I access to? And when I say that I have access to, you know, I've lived all over the world, um, and all over the US and right now I'm currently on the coast in Seattle. Big cities have access to more food. And I realized that I'm from a small town in Montana and I realized that not every single place in the world has access to, uh, you know, free range, uh, air chilled chicken, right. Or whatever it is that you want to eat. So, and budgets are also a concern. So whatever it is. Um, and I give a lot of tips for, you know, budgeting and eating well on budgets in the book, but just choosing the highest quality food you can.

Allan: 18:23 Yeah. I think that's critical. If it's not whole food, um, you have to, you know, you have to realize that it was manufactured to, uh, to make you want more.

Elizabeth: 18:33 Yeah, absolutely.

Allan: 18:35 Now you have a process, I guess a method that you've put in the book. And I really like this one. It's called the book end method.

Elizabeth: 18:44 Yes. I'm glad you liked that.

Allan: 18:46 I do like that.

Elizabeth: 18:48 Yeah, you know, I have an online membership for health and I was putting together, um, one of our monthly bundles and I was just thinking about morning and evening routines because I've been getting a lot of questions about this and I think there were some confusions, we all have heard probably by now that it's really great to have a morning routine and then an evening routine. But I think people were getting confused of what those things are. And I started talking about it's really important to book end your day with, even if it's 10 minutes, you know, five, 10 minutes, you know, maybe 30 minutes, whatever it is, Everyone's different of intentional self care because that sets you up to make better choices during the day. And what came out of that as the book end method.

Elizabeth: 19:29 And really what the book end method is is like I just said, you have something in the morning and morning routine or ritual, even if it's just five minutes. I know a lot of people have kids, they have jobs. There's so much happening. You don't have to spend two hours every morning in the morning ritual, 10 minutes, 15 minutes that you can in the morning, 10 or 15 minutes in the evening and they have different purposes. In the morning you want to choose things that increase your energy, that set you up to make great choices during the day and the evening you need to set yourself up for better sleep so they actually have different purposes and they're not interchangeable but in the morning, and there are some things that you can do in both of them, you know, journaling, some type of meditation, whether it's mantra based meditation or mindful mindfulness meditation, even just deep breathing, stretching.

Elizabeth: 20:15 There are some overlap, but really in the morning, how can you healthwise set yourself up to make better choices during the day? Because we know that how you start something affects every choice that you make. It's why if you look at, if anybody's ever done theater or you know something in a theater group, there's always a prayer circle before the big show. It's how you start something. It's why, uh, in sports teams there's always the big huddle before the show, right? How we start something dictates how it goes during the day. So if in the morning, if you can just commit to 10 to 15 to 30 minutes of very mindful intentional health practice, you will make better choices during the day. And that brings us to the evening. If you can dedicate five, 10, 15 minutes, whatever it is to setting yourself up to sleep better. Sleep is so critical to health. But I would even say sleep is as critical to health as what you eat. I think sleep is completely underrated and quality sleep, right? Not Junk sleep where you're tossing and turning. You can't sleep at night. Um, and there are things you can do to set yourself up to sleep much better. I've been on a quest for better sleep for the last 10 years and I'm finally sleeping really well. But yeah, just book ending your day with two practices can make a world of difference in your health.

Allan: 21:27 Right? So now someone gets your book cause yeah, there's lots of, there's a lot in here of different things that we can do different approaches and so someone starts setting goals and getting action and they're starting to develop these habits. In the book you go through a series of tools that we can use to help us stick to the habits. In other words, quite a bit there. So I, you know, I don't want to ask you to share all of it, can you go through just a few of whatever your favorite tools that would help us stick to the healthy habits that we're getting.

Elizabeth: 21:59 Yeah there are, there's quite a few in here. I think one of the biggest thing, just the mindset shift of the crowd out method. Meaning instead of, if you're on the quest for healthier habits and you want to start with food, think about adding things in, not taking things out. So again, that's kind of the moderator of sooner model where you know, people want to be gluten free or dairy free or Vegan or whatever it is, which is not a bad thing. But what that model does is it removes things where the credit method introduces things. So instead of telling yourself like, I can't have you know, Tacos or whatever it is that you want, add things in so you know, I'm going to eat a giant bowl of veggies or salad or whatever it is, something that you know is healthier. I'm going to eat this, I'm going to bring things in instead of taking things out and that will naturally crowd out the bad things.

Elizabeth: 22:45 I think that's one of the best places people can start for healthy eating. Instead of saying, I can't ever have something again. Say what will I have today and if I still want that other thing. Sure. And usually you know you're full by the time you have the thing that you said you were going to have, so you don't even want the other thing. I think the crowd out method is absolutely key to building healthier habits. I think something else that's really, really important. We alluded to social media a little bit. I love social media. I use it, don't bite the hand that feeds you. I think social media is a great way to connect. But I also, um, you know, throughout the book, something I'm really encouraging people to do is to understand that how you do one thing is how you do everything.

Elizabeth: 23:26 And that's why I talk about environment and I talk about, you know, detoxing your laundry and all these different things because how you do one thing ends up to be how you do everything. So if you want to change your food habits and you're having a difficult time making great choices, start in other areas of your life, right? Once you start to clean up other areas of your life, it's easier to clean your food. So one thing would be curating your social media feed. I, you know, have gone through periods of time where I'm following someone, even a friend, someone who I know and I just find myself comparing myself to that person a lot. You can curate your social media feed, unfollow accounts. You don't have to, unlike, or you know, it doesn't have to be with any haste, but you can mute accounts, you can unfollow accounts, don't let your social media feed be filled with things that make you feel less, because if you're allowing, it's that little tick and your mind every time you see that that brings you down. And of course the more you feel down, the worst choices you're going to make.

Allan: 24:23 Yeah. I took one my work, uh, related, uh, Twitter accounts and I just went through and I said, okay, if someone posts something political, I'm just going to unfollow them. And I did that for like three days and after about three days, there were, there was no political posts on my Twitter feed for, you know, when I was working during the day. So if I went to check Twitter, I wasn't getting bombarded by it, all the political conversations. So it became a very peaceful, zinful feed because it was filled with people who were positive and and talking about health and wellness and not going off on those daily Tangents of negativity that were starting to impact the way I felt about the world. I'm like, no, when I'm doing this, I want to think about health and fitness.

Allan: 25:14 I want to think about wellness. I want to think about joy and I'm not getting it from these people. Even though a lot of what they put out there was extremely valuable. It was just, there was just, I wanted, I needed to get rid of that other piece, and so when I did that, it's like that feed is my kind of my little goto zen place. Every once in a while I'll log in there and just read what people are saying there rather than other places because I know I'm just going to get hit and bombarded with things that are gonna just be negative.

Elizabeth: 25:40 Yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, no one, no two people's social media feeds are identical because the algorithms know based on what, even if you slow down to scroll, even if you don't like something, they know what you like or that you're at. You think they know where your attention goes and then your work feed is filled with more of those things. So I've, I've hear from a lot of women who are like, Oh, have you seen this? It's all over Facebook. And I'm like, I haven't even seen that. And like you like it because you're going to websites that are talking about that and you're liking things. You're slowing down on those posts. So they're giving you more of that. So I really, you know, especially women who are newer to social media in the past like five or 10 years, the reason your, your feed looks like that, no one else's does. It's because you're gravitating towards that. And you can curate that. You can change that by unfollowing or unliking things. And then really making sure that you're liking or commenting on things that lift you up. You know, your social media feed really should be a place that gives you inspiration, lifts you up if you're ever feeling down after you look at your social media feed, you need to curate it.

Allan: 26:40 Yeah, absolutely.

Elizabeth: 26:42 Yeah. And then I think, you know, a big thing too is that I would leave people with is that good health is not all or nothing. And I think we are bombarded with the idea that if you do one thing that's not on your plan, it's all for not. And that's not true. Your health changes in cycles and seasons in life you'll change. You know, the average person eats around 2000 times a year. If you're eating like three to five times a day, let's say you're going to eat 1500 to 2000 times in a year. And I don't know a lot of people who can get something 1500 out of 1500 or 2000 out of 2000 right. That's you know, I know some pretty high performers. I don't know if I can find anybody that doesn't, there's not any error in that. So, you know, I think what we need to understand is that we constantly need to be moving the needle towards better health.

Elizabeth: 27:35 I do believe that we need to eat real food. We need to, we need to learn what it feels like to feel good. Because once you feel good, you don't slide back into unhealthy habits and recognize that we should be always searching for progress, not perfection. Because perfection is a complete illusion, it doesn't exist and it doesn't have to be all or nothing. Now I don't want that to be a get out of jail free card to just, you know, go eat fast food or something because we need to stay away from food that is harmful to us. But good health is not all or nothing. So if you are at, you know, your sister's house or your friend's house and they make this big feast and it's not necessarily within the way that you eat and you want to enjoy the party with people, go ahead and do it. It's what you do the next day and the next day and the next day. It's not one meal that's going to sabotage everything that you've done.

Allan: 28:25 Yeah, I completely agree with that. Um, you know, something I've been paying a lot more attention to really in about the last two years, particularly since I started writing my book, um, back aways it was that words have such a profound meaning beyond what you would just attribute to them if you were reading a book. You know, like if you're reading through a sentence and the word I can't comes up. Yeah. And it just seems like a simple word, but you know, for, for the person like you, that's a moderator and this is, this is one of your, your hints here, your, your tools is, is to replace I can't with, I don't.

Elizabeth: 29:05 Yes. Yes. This is another scientifically proven mindset trick that takes the pressure off the burden off or the heaviness off of, you know, oh, I can't have ice cream after dinner. Whenever you tell yourself you can't do something, it is going to be at the forefront of your mind with, I don't eat ice cream after dinner or I don't eat ice cream after dinner unless it's Friday. Sure. On Fridays, whatever, whatever day you pick. Maybe you like your ice from on Tuesdays, um, or maybe you make your own. There's a recipe on my blog for healthy homemade ice cream out of coconut milk that's really low in sugar and you want to some that every night after dinner, go for it. For me, I use time restricted eating. I generally don't eat after seven o'clock so for me it's not that I can't eat after seven o'clock sure.

Elizabeth: 29:51 If I'm hungry, I can eat. I just don't eat after seven o'clock and I don't do that. And again, as a moderator, intermittent fasting is proven to work if you do it at least five days per week. So on the weekends, sure, if I'm invited out, I'm not going to tell my friends I'm not gonna eat after seven. Right. So I, I still have that balance and that flexibility in my lifestyle. But in general, when I'm at home, I don't eat after seven. And just that simple trick of using, I don't, instead of, I can't put you back in the driver's seat and it gives you a position of power instead of a position of why can't have that.

Allan: 30:22 Yeah. And the mindset is so critical in us. That's why I really liked that tool was because I think a lot of folks just feel so restricted when they go in and say, okay, well I'm going to, you know, I'm going to go ahead and try this Vegan Diet and they're not thinking of it as a way of eating. They do see an end point there, but now they're like, well, I can't have a hamburger. And then, so now they're in the shop looking for fake Burgers, uh, you know, to kind of appease this thing. And so it Kinda sends them down the spiral path of I can't, and I can't and I can't. And they just want it that much more.

Elizabeth: 30:56 Right, right. Absolutely.

Allan: 30:58 Now, I define wellness as being the healthiest fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

Elizabeth: 31:08 Oh Man, I think so much of it has to do with mindset. If I could pick three things, two of them would probably might be mindset based because if again, if we're just, if we're skipping the mindset piece and then we're just going straight into the food, we're always going to stop at some point. It has to be mindset based. I think the first thing for women that I've noticed that I would say is in getting your mindset right is realizing that you are constantly changing and evolving and nothing is ever set in stone. If you want to be thinking your whole life, great and that works, I think it's great, but what works more I think for a lot of women is that to understand, I mean women are cyclical by nature, right? We have our cycles by nature. You might want to eat different at different points in your cycle every month you might feel better vegan, meat free one week and you might realize that you need a little bit more protein and you gravitate towards animal protein another week.

Elizabeth: 32:02 Also the seasons change. The seasons are cyclical, right? Um, you might find that in the summer you like more raw and cooked food and in the winter you gravitate towards more, you know, heavier cooked food and then the cycles and seasons of your life change, right? You know, the teenagers, adolescents then we turn into uh, you know, young adulthood into this like more mature area of life. So the first thing for women, what I would say in order to be healthy and well is realize that you are free to change course at any point in your life. And that's a mindset trick. You are afraid to make a change. If you've been labeling your eating habits and that no longer feels good to you, you are completely free to change anything in your life. So I think that would be the first thing is just realizing that life is cyclical and you can make a change at any point.

Elizabeth: 32:49 Um, the second thing to be healthy and well I would say is to visualize it and that goes back to the vision board and create an environment. So this is mindset and you know, starting to get into like something physical you can do, you have to create an environment that supports your healthy lifestyle. And that has to do with how you, you know, whatever's in your home, whatever, how are you set up your day? You've got to create an environment for yourself that feels good to be healthy and well. Because if you don't have the environment to support your lifestyle, it's going to feel very, very difficult to be healthy and well. And I think the third thing is just really goes back to food. Understanding that there's one, not one right way for everyone to stop searching for silver bullet diet because it doesn't exist. Um, and really just follow the qualitarian way. Those would be the three things that I would tell people.

Allan: 33:39 I really appreciate those. Those were excellent. Thank you. So if someone wanted to learn more about you and the book, The Health Habit, where would you like for me to send them?

Elizabeth: 33:49 Oh yeah. Um, my website, Elizabethrider.com and there are over 300 recipes. There are, there are a ton of healthy living resources and with the book coming out we are giving away free downloadable book bonuses. I'm with checklists, downloads, cleanup items are so many fun things to download with the book and that's at Elizabethrider.com forward slash book or it's really easy to find on my website but I would love to send everyone there so they can grab those bonuses with the book

Allan: 34:14 Outstanding. This is going to be episode 395 so you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/395 and I'll be sure to have the links right there. So Elizabeth, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

Elizabeth: 34:28 Thanks for having me. I'm thrilled to be here. I appreciate it.

Let me ask you a question: Have you lost your edge? Do you just not feel as sharp as you used to and things aren't going your way at work or in life? Maybe you just lack the energy you once had that got you where you are and you want to get that back.

If this is you, go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/edge. I made a short little video for you, I think you are going to like. 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/edge

Another episode you may enjoy

August 12, 2019

Midlife and prostate cancer with James A Hill

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Cancer is the scariest word for many of us. James Hill takes us through his journey with prostate cancer and by doing so gives us a solid approach for dealing with the disease and the thoughts and fears we'll face after diagnosis.

Allan: 02:28 Jim, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

James: 02:30 Thank you Allan. Glad to be here.

Allan: 02:33 Now your book, Midpoint, aptly named. You know, I'm sitting here at 53 and I'm thinking, okay all those things that I did as a kid, you talked about some of them in part of your book where you're riding your skateboard and then that happens and there's an accident and blood and scars and this happens in blood and scars. And I'm thinking, you know, when we get this age, blood and scars are actually really scary.

James: 02:59 Yeah. It's a remarkable a for me that this is the point in life for a lot of men, that really marks an inflection where we, where any kind of a, um, a brush with health can be more than just important, more than just a scar on your under elbow. It can be something a lot scarier. So, um, it is an important point for me to explore in the book.

Allan: 03:21 Yeah. But beyond the being scared part. I, you know, I think, I think what the purpose of this show and then when you're listening to this show, I want you to know why we're here. We're here because men tend to have this trait of pride and obstinance and wanting to be the provider, wanting to be that man that's out there doing these things. And many times, you know, we neglect those little things. We neglect doing the things that we shouldn't be doing to manage our health. Fortunately, even though you said you, you may have avoided screenings, not, not completely avoided them, but delayed them somewhat, you did make a point of making health screenings a part of your regimen.

James: 04:03 Very much so. Yeah. I mean I would describe myself overall as being a pretty earnest health care consumer. I always took my health pretty seriously. I work out, I've always been very focused on taking care of myself, but like, like so many guys there certain things I just don't want to be, you know, physical as being one of them. I talked about this in my book. I just never much cared for physicals cause I felt like they marked at least once I hit my forties and fifties, they started to mark a decline in my, in my physical strength and my, in my physical being. So I was probably not as earnest as I should have been on certain screenings. And then of course the PSA test, which my doctor eventually had me take, I should have taken more ownership and asking for it rather than just being a passive recipient of his recommendation to get it done. Because I was at an age where depending upon who you talk to, typically over 50 men should be getting their PSA.

Allan: 04:59 Yeah, it's part of my wellness testing, my, my PSA and so far I haven't had any, any issues, always less than that. And that's always been, that's been the case. It's always, it's always been below two well below two, well below one actually. So I feel pretty good there. But it was funny because for a long time as we looked at these tests, doctors were actually starting to pull away from them and saying, we don't need diagnostic tests because we get false positives and we ended up with people freaking out. We may even end up with procedures that we didn't need to do. But the thinking's turning around on that a little bit, isn't it?

James: 05:36 Yeah, it is. It's, you know, as I mentioned in the book, the, the subject of whether to get PSA testing is an enormous point of controversy in men's health. And it's one that I think has done men in general a disservice. You know when PSA testing kind of came on, the scenes became popular in the 90s. Everybody was recommending it to gives, it seemed like you're her first really reliable or, or reasonably reliable diagnostic for, um, screening methods available to men to catch, to catch a prostate cancer. And it does, it does. What a lot of people didn't come to terms with at the time is that there are multiple reasons why your PSA, your prostate specific antigen might be elevated if cancer is only one reason. And so what ended up happening is men who had BPH, benign prostate hyperplasia or prostititus, which is an infection of the prostate or other things that might cause their PSA to be elevated. They were rushing out and getting a, getting a biopsy which can, which can result in an infection and complications. And they had a lot of general adjuncts around the fear of cancer only to find out that they, they never had cancer in the first place.

So then the medical community pulled back from PSA testing and said, you know, if you look at it statistically, it's not saving enough lives. Well, I'm not a believer that any guy wants to be a statistic and I'm one of those people who had I not gotten my PSA tested, could have ended up very easily with metastatic prostate disease. So yes, the view has changed back and forth. I think that's why any man, I think over 50 and certainly over 55 needs to own that process, needs to understand what prostate screening or PSA screening is all about. Needs to consult with either his urologist or his physician about whether he thinks at a digital rectal exam is sufficient or whether he wants to get a baseline PSA and continue testing. But it's the one thing you shouldn't ever do is not have the discussion with your doctor needs to be something that you do in a methodical, calculated way. And at least if you make a decision not to be tested, at least you're owning the decision.

Allan: 07:54 Yeah. So for the first several years, you know, when your doctor was going through the standard of care, he was using the old rectal means of testing to see if there's any abnormal swelling or growths or anything like that. And you were checking out just fine.

James: 08:11 Yes. Every time. Yeah. We, we've been checking, I think since I was 50 and I was diagnosed when I was, I want to say 50, 56, almost 57 so yeah, the nature of that exam of course is that a digital rectal exam only has access to part of the prostate and it's a pretty good screening test if you have a capable physician or pa or nurse Practitioner who really understands what a prostate should feel like and can recognize a nodule or some irregularity. But again, if you've got a, if you've got a lesion on the, on the far side of the prostate that's not accessible through the rectum, that's not going to be detected through a DRE is as they're called. And that was the case with mind and why mine was, was had reached all the way to stage three before they ever found it.

And it also that very fact, even when I had my biopsy, they typically they take 12 cores, tissue cores in a biopsy, only two of mine, showed, showed cancer, which led them to a very reassuring diagnosis of stage one prostate cancer with a Gleason score of six, which is a, which is a very low grade cancer. Well, by the time we got through MRIs and everything else, we found out that I was actually stage three with a, with a high seven in which we can talk about it to like, but so I had to go all the way through MRI and eventually through the surgery to really understand the nature of the disease. So, you know, it's a process of understanding what you have is very much a process of choosing the right procedure and getting a more complete picture of what's going on down there.

Allan: 09:50 Yeah. Now as you went through the book and it was Kinda like you're walking us through some of the learnings that you had as you went through here, because prior to this you had no reason to know a PSA relative. You know, it just, if it's better or bigger than two or lighter than two, but you know what it means when it's excessively at higher than two. You learned what the Gleason score was and how almost somewhat, I'm not gonna say subjective, but there's a little bit of, we learn as we go because we, we probe further and you know, biopsies will do something MRI's will do something. But, even after the surgery, they're there, they're still coming back and trying to look at that data to say how aggressive was this? Do you mean because going to the Internet for some of this stuff, I guess you can be, should be scary as hell reading stories. But how does someone swim through all that information and get their head clear on, on the, the treatment that's right for them.

James: 10:47 That's a great question. And it's such a personal process, Allan. I mean, that's a remark. I get a lot from a lot of guys because maybe it was how I presented the process I went through in the book that made men thing. Geez, I don't know if I would have the desire or the or the staying power to do the kind of research I needed to do to make an intelligent decision. And a lot of guys don't. Honestly, you know, I've spoken to a lot of men who kind of went the, from the moment they met with their primary care physician, whatever that primary care physician recommended they did. And in some cases they have good outcomes. In some cases they don't. I'm a great believer in the whole model of the empowered healthcare consumer. I think it's critical that a man, as I said earlier, own his health and particularly in an area that is so fraught with controversy.

So what I did is I simply didn't believe everything I was told at first blush. Acknowledging that everybody in the healthcare system and all of the information on the Internet is to a certain sense. It's, you know, there's some subjectivity to it. There's certainly some controversy there. So I made it my job to talk to people. First of all, I knew who had been through prostate cancer themselves, what their processes were. I tried to find out where they went for information and what they had learned so I could kind of leapfrog or, or piggyback off of what they had they had done and if I could of saved myself some time by using their research I did. But I also, I very much guided myself by going to the best, the best resources online. So I was in my career, uh, prior to having cancer had been in content marketing where we published good clinical information on behalf of some major hospitals and hospital systems.

And so I knew who the, who the great cancer centers for example, were. So I tended to go either to.org or.edu sources online and you know, so names like Sloan Kettering or Mayo Clinic or Harvard health. And the more scientifically sound that information was, I found the more tended to align well. And the theme that I kept hearing over and over again is your situation's unique. You need to interact very proactively with your caregivers and be picky. And so I did a ton of research. I read up everything I could on PSA at Gleason scores, on staging, on radio radiation versus surgery versus what they call cocoa therapies, which are for early stage cancers. And I kept asking a lot of questions. I also happened to be very fortunate. My wife is a very smart and very capable partner and so she at the same time was challenging me and challenging doctors that I was meeting with and we just kept asking questions and challenging the kind of the prevailing wisdom until we felt like we had enough information to make a decision.

And I want to credit some of the doctors I met with for, for having said early on, look, because treatment plans and treatment decisions aren't always clear for a man because there are so many variables and there's so much unknown about prostate cancer. It's a, it has to be a collaborative process between the doctor and the patient. And I've even seen that taken to some ridiculous levels where some doctors will say, it's your decision, just tell me which one to do. The doctors that I dealt with were much more collaborative and said, look, here are your options. You know, here's what I would recommend, but you should go out and meet with people that you, uh, that you think and kind of eliminate the matter for you. So for example, I met both with a radiation oncologist and a surgeon and then of course a number of urologists and positions and PA's along the way. And my thought process eventually took me to surgery, but um, you know, for it, had I been 10 years older, I might've gone with radiation. It just depends on your, your particular situation. So it's, for me, it's all about ownership of the healthcare process and decision making process.

Allan: 14:49 Yeah. And, and beyond, you did something that I think a lot of us would actually find very difficult. You fired your first position effectively.

James: 14:58 I did, yeah.

Allan: 14:58 He wasn't supporting you in a way that, you know, we're not talking about a diagnosis or work. I mean, but the two of you just were not connecting on an emotional level where you felt comfortable with him. Can you talk about that a little bit? We're not going to name him cause he wasn't named in the book, but could you talk a little bit about that, that process of, okay, I've got a doctor that I'm asking him a question and he's sarcastic or belittling me in a way that I just don't feel like he has my best interest at heart.

James: 15:30 Yeah. And, and um, he, you know, he was, this doctor was, was honestly, I think a good guy and an excellent physician. But like anything in life, certainly in healthcare, which is such a, it's such a human interaction. I just believe that you need more than your expertise. You need somebody who respects you as a human being who understands that your approach to making decisions about your health care might be different from the other patient who doesn't. You know who, I don't care for sarcasm. You know, if somebody sitting with cancer, the last thing they need sarcasm. So this particular doctrine I simply weren't clicking. You know, as I mentioned earlier in the book, I had been advised early on to get an MRI before I had a biopsy and I push really hard with this doctor to do that because the idea is that an MRI gives you a visual picture of the entire prostate before you go in there and start poking needles because if you, if you don't have that visual picture of what you might end up getting is an incomplete diagnostic perspective, which is what in fact happened with me.

We only got two cores when in fact I had quite a large tumor. So I pressed this particular doctor for an MRI and he responded largely by saying he didn't think it was necessary, it wasn't the best practice and made me feel a little bit like a hypochondriac for asking. Well later when I was still considering using him as my surgeon, I subsequently went to Sloan Kettering and the first thing they asked me was, did you do an MRI before your biopsy? And I said, no, I, my doctor divided against you. They said, well here we wouldn't consider doing a biopsy or MRI. So you know, that entire view that I had taken was very much validated. And it was also just a manner in which he opposed me on that decision. It just felt like he was asserting his medical, I don't want to say supremacy but, superiority and I you're a patient, I'm a doctor. You need to listen to me and not acknowledging the fact that I had done my homework.

Allan: 17:39 Yeah. Well and, and realities, you know, are the generation before us and before that and then the white coat walked in and said, do this. We just did it. But now with the advancements in medicine and what's going on in the world, standard of care changes all the time and for the doctor gets you up to speed and say, no, this is, there is a standard of care. And if there's no reason to believe that doing an extra step is going to give you a better outcome. I was just surprised that when you said you were willing to pay out of pocket for this because you weren't, you know, you were told you would probably have to do that, that he just said no. Whereas it would just been a data point. And you know, again, I'm a big fan of the more data points you have, the clearer things can be as long as you just don't get overrun with it. But I think it would have been a point that you've obviously now hindsight definitely should've had.

James: 18:31 Absolutely. And the fact that it was validated the way it was and validated with really good information in the sense that the folks at Sloan Kettering explained that, you know, biopsies first of all, it not that you want to go back in and do, but also it causes bleeding because you're poking all these holes in the prostate. It causes bleeding, which obscures any subsequent MRI image for several weeks after that. So it actually impede the ability to get it to get a good perspective. So there's really a very practical reason to do an MRI beforehand. Now that you know, you mentioned standards of care. The problem with, I think with dealing with with prostate cancer is that standards of care are, they're changing, they're shifting back and forth as, as new data comes in and as doctors debate what to do. Another example of that would be the level of sedative or anesthesia they give you for biopsy and a biopsy is pretty painful. Either I'm a whimp or biopsys are pretty painful.

Allan: 19:30 No, I think 12 holes in the human body.

James: 19:37 Yeah, yeah. Particularly that area. Yeah. It's not, it doesn't feel good and the standard of care is to give you at most of a valium to calm you down and a local anesthetic. Well, when I asked the doctor after the biopsy was over, I said, wow, that really hurt. Has there been any discussion of putting guys under under general anesthesia? He said, yeah, I actually missed his credit. He said, I've been proposing that for a while, but it hasn't been adopted as a standard of care. And so that's one of those examples where it's an evolving thing and I think to a certain degree, medicine is always kinda catch up with what it's learning from patients. And frankly, part of my objective in writing the book was to educate doctors as much as patients about what the process is like so that when they realize, Oh gee, you know, these biopsies really hurt, or Oh gee, it makes it more complicated for a patient if we don't let them do an MRI beforehand. Maybe that's something we can revisit, whether it's on an individual level or on the standard of care level.

Allan: 20:36 Now you mentioned earlier three, three different approaches to treatment. You were passed one of those by already being a six, but do you mind going through those three and then in particular the surgery and the radiation. Spending a little bit of time talking about the pros and cons.

James: 20:53 Sure, absolutely. So the two most common forms of treatment for prostate cancer are either a prostatectomy, which is surgical removal of the prostate or, and by the way, it's always the entire prostate. There is no such thing as taking out part of our prostate, which was illuminating for me at the time. You had to take it all out or you're leave it in. The other option is is radiation therapy, which irradiates the prostate gland and potentially some of the areas around the prostate with radiation to destroy the the cancer cells. They've also developed for men who are very early in their, in it with a very localized cancer or small low grade cancer, have what they call a focal therapies, which are, they use all kinds of exotic things like cryoablation, where they go in and they actually freeze the cancer cell with a, with a needle.

Those focal therapies, as the name suggests, are very focused, therefore very well located small, early cancer. By the time they found my cancer, I was a stage three that the malignancy had moved out beyond what they call the prosthetic capsule or the envelope that is basically the membrane that whole step that surrounds the prostate. So I was by virtue of that the end, it was I think a two centimeter tumor. I was not a candidate for focal therapy. So for me it came down to either radiation or surgery. I should also add that for many men, particularly men who are potentially in their seventies or and who have a slow growing low grade cancer, they have what they call watchful waiting, which is simply to do nothing and to go and maybe every six months or so to get your PSA checked.

And if it's really not growing quickly, there's a great likelihood that men like that will die from some other natural causes before the cancer ever presents a real problem. And that is very much something that's being recommended for men who are older. I was not a candidate for that because I had a very high PSA and it was changing. In fact, it changed from about 15 to about almost 20 in the space of six weeks. So they immediately ruled out watchful waiting. And the fact that I was in my fifties so the decision for me came down to surgery or radiation. And surgery, I think I'd have to check this thing, but surgeries are more common. There's been a lot of push back among some doctors against surgery because they think it's too often proposed for people who could have avoided it.

And I think that probably was the case. It's less so now. But there are, there are various types of surgery that's performed. The most common now I think is a laparoscopic radical prostatectomy, which is the doctor uses a laparoscope that, that goes in basically through five small incisions in, in your abdomen. You know, they use laparoscopes on you know, for example, to repair damaged knees. It's a way of having a smaller incision and cutting less tissue to make repairs. So you get five small incisions into your abdomen. They go in with these kind of like robot arms and they with a doctor looking through, uh, through a video monitor, they removed the prostate that way and, and uh, fix things up and send you on your way. Radiation on the other hand is a process of going in I think typically for about six weeks, five times a day and lying under the beam and the pros and cons are with radiation.

They don't remove the prostate. So some of the side effects of not having a prostate are entirely avoided. So there typically is less with radiation, they are less issues with, with continents, less issues with, uh, post treatment potency. And a man still has his prostate. So physiologically he can still produce semen, which a man cannot live without his prostate. So for a lot of men who, who can, for whom radiation is an option, it's a good choice to give. They can, it has less of an impact on their sex lives. As an example, and my, my own brother-in-law went that route and was, was very pleased with it. The trick is, and this is what helped me form my decision with surgery, my, by the time we had my MRI results and they had, they kind of accurately stage my cancer.

They knew that I was stage three. They knew that it was aggressive and they knew that it had moved outside of the prosthetic capsule. It was likely, in fact, I was told I had about a 50/50 chance. My radiation oncologist explained I had a 50/50 chance of needing radiation after surgery as well. So if you have radiation as your first line of defense, the tissue is so substantially changed by the radiation that it really can't handle surgery Afterwards. Now Sloan Kettering is developing what they call a salvage radical prostatectomy where they will go in if necessary and remove the prostate. That's already gone through radiation, but it's very tricky and recovery is tough and there are a lot of side effects to it. So generally speaking, if you think you're going to need radiation later on as a followup, because maybe the surgery couldn't get all the cancer guys will go prostatectomy first radiation second. It's worth noting too that the cure rates are about the same for radiation and surgery. So making the final decision very much comes down to how bad is the cancer, how fast is it moving, how old are you, what's your life expectancy? All these variables that are unique from man to man. And it was that process for me that was really kind of essential kind of core to my experience with cancer, which was realizing that just because my brother-in-law got radiation and it worked for him and just because my best friend got surgery and I work for him, everybody's different and you cannot just make a decision based on kind of generalized views of these treatments. You really need to dig in deeply and understand your own cancer.

Allan: 27:10 Yeah. And I think that was, that was kind of the core because you had done some research and found surgery's gone really bad. And um, that like you said, the radiation could have done something and then it would've been much more difficult if there was a Reoccurrence. So it is something I strongly considered as far as you know, which you feel good about and you know, what the facts in your particular case are saying. I guess one of the parts of treatment that kind of, I guess I didn't really think a whole lot about, you know, I thought okay, well you have the surgery, they remove it, you know, you heal up from the sutures and you're on your way. That's not the case with prostate cancer. There's, there's a lot of uh, post treatment that needs to occur. Without going into all the gory details. I can kind of talk about cause you need, yeah, you need to buy this book if nothing else to read that story. But um, uh, can you go through some of the details, you know, some of the things that you have to do just to get yourself back to normal.

James: 28:07 Yeah, the main, and of course my experience is specific to the surgery. I can't speak to, to radiation, which does have it have its own side effects. What I didn't mention is that radiation can have side effects affecting potency. And, and I'm from continent, but they tend to be deferred by six months to a year. Whereas with surgery, those side effects of course are immediate coming out of surgery. But the typical things that, that a man needs to worry about coming out of surgery of course, is potency, which is, which requires obviously intact of nerves and in tact blood flow to that part of the body. And sometimes the two nerve bundles that make an erection possible are affected by the cancer and one or both have to be, have to be removed. Now you only need one, but if even one is removed, that's gonna require some post-surgery work, which we can talk about.

But under any circumstances, the trauma that's done to the body during the surgery, particularly the nerves and a man's groin send those nerves into what they call hibernation mode, which can last for one to two years where the nerves simply don't work properly, their healing and they just kind of let like a bear going into a cave. They just stop physiologically functioning during that time. The tissue down there that's required for an erection literally it needs to be regularly stretched in troll with blood. And if it's not, if that doesn't happen, there can be term long term effects on a man's potency. So, and then the other issue is incontinence, which is a very significant problem for man because during a prostatectomy, the urethra is surgically detached momentarily from the bladder to do the surgery.

Then it's reattached and that affects all the muscles down there and the ability to control urine flow. So the two things that are typically one thing certainly has done most commonly coming out of prostate surgery is they're going to recommend that men do with they call Kegel exercises. That's very well known to women who are advised to do with these after they have have a child because the muscles down, they're affected by childbirth. Same thing goes for men after a prostatectomy is literally just like clenching, clenching the muscles of the pelvic bed over and over again, like a workout. Honestly what it is. And in my case, I was advised to do these exercises before surgery and then to do them right after surgery to to just like anything else, you want to have strong muscles. So that's a big part of, of regaining continents.

And then in my case, Sloan Kettering has a group called the sexual health clinic, which is really pioneering ways to keep men functioning from a, from a, from a potency perspective, functioning well, while those nerves recover come out of hibernation mode and that's they, they have various ways of dealing with it. But the most, the way that they use most is an injection therapy where a man gives himself a shot that actually physiologically reproduces, creates an erection, which allows the tissue to be stretched and so forth and, and oxygenated until they heal on your own. So, unfortunately, that is not a therapy that is widely known about known by men, and it's not as widely recommended as, as it should be in the result of a lot of men. Too many men end up having potency issues when they didn't need to. They could have actually recovered normal, normal functioning.

Sloan Kettering is fabulous about that and I was actually part of a study, a 2-year study and following up with men on that and comparing the results of that therapy with men who didn't go through it. And the results are dramatic. I mean dramatic, the kind of improvement in that they see when you're on kind of therapy. And then of course the only other thing I would add, Allan, is that both going into a prostate surgery and coming out of it, the more you can be in good shape, eat well, not be carrying any extra weight, have good muscle tone, all of that prepares you for the what is a pretty significant assault on your body. I mean the prostatectomy takes four to six hours, it's a big deal and a lot of men don't realize it's one of the most complicated cancer surgeries out there.

It messes up the body in a pretty significant way for a while. And it takes a long time to do all the healing that's necessary. The more fit you are both before and after the surgery, you know the better you're going to handle it, the more quickly recover. Some of big proponent of be fit all the time, follow it, have a good diet so that you're not inadvertently helping the cancer or the cancer recur by eating the wrong kinds of foods. All those things. The same things that we're told anyway about being fit and healthy very much affect the outcomes of a prostate surgery.

Allan: 33:04 Yeah. And you know, as you were talking through that and you're getting yourself physically fit. I was, I was thinking about a quote that you had in the book, you talked a lot about how you didn't really see cancer as a battle or at least you didn't like that kind of that phrase of encouragement battles. But you did say this in the book. You said cancer cells are the terrorists of the human body, the weaponized bundles of angry, twisted cellular matter that have come unmoored in their restraints. And, and I thought about that in the basic ways of saying, you know, if we prepare ourselves generally for life, we're going to be strong, we're going to be generally healthy and that's going to put us in a better place. So it's not necessarily a battle so much as knowing, okay, we have this insurgency that uh, we now have to deal with and if we're physically fit and generally healthy, our bodies are going to be more resilient. And then there's always the mental side of this of, you know, terrorism is scary, not knowing when this could happen or if this will happen is scary. And in a sense it kinda changes the way we think about life when those scary moments happen.

James: 34:15 Yeah, yeah, very much so. I'm fortunate that I was always somebody who just was interested in staying healthy as much because I wanted to look good and feel good. But you know, it turns out that healthy has a lot of dimensions to it and you just don't want to go into a scary diagnosis like cancer with anything already compromising your health or that makes it just much more of an uphill battle. And I joked about it in the book about doing, you know, following that was so earnest about following the, the physician's advice for, or being prepared to physically put surgery. I followed advice they didn't even give me, but that's how seriously I took it. And you know, one of the things also that they push you to do, which I talked about quite a bit in the book, is walking right after surgery.

I mean they have you up walking down the hallway within four or five hours of the surgery and then walking subsequent to that while your catheters in and during that, that first 10 days or two weeks of recovery, physical activities so important and the more fit you are going into that process, the more quickly you're going to be able to resume that physical activity that is so central to your healing. The human body was made to move and we're not, certainly after a surgery like that, you might have fluid in your, in your lungs that you need to be able to call from. The stronger your body is, as soon as that can happen, the stronger your circulatory system, the more likely you are to replenish the blood flow to your groin. All of that benefits from being in a generally good state of health. I can't say enough about the importance of that and you know I honestly, I as hard as I've worked at it, there are even things I could have done a lot better. It's just a matter of doing everything you possibly can.

Allan: 36:03 Yeah. Now I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get in stay well?

James: 36:14 That's a great question. I would say from my perspective and within the very specific context of prostate cancer treatment, it's leading a fit lifestyle. Not when I say a lifestyle, it's not just, it's not just going to the gym, but it's maintaining good physical and mental health. So eating right, getting exercise, managing stress, making it an approach to life rather than something that you do when you're not stressed out about work. So I'm all about just making health and matter of lifestyle coming out of surgery also, I believe that the best thing you can do to, to regain that sense of wellness, just to be a model patient, doctors know what's required to, to return to a good state of health. And so I'm a big believer in follow exactly what they, don't be a c student, do everything they say you're supposed to do, ask questions and they know how to get you healthy.

And they're going to push you to do that and don't subvert that process and you know, something. The third thing I would say, Allan, is that a lot of men overlook, particularly in this context, the importance of psychological changes that happen during middle age and particularly during treatments for prostate cancer. It's a disease of the male reproductive system, which is central to our sense of wellbeing. And men need to, who go through this need to prepare themselves for those psychological shifts. How they see themselves, their relationships with the partners, uh, how they see the world around them now as they are some in some ways altered. So surrounding oneself with support, with loved ones who can, we can be there for you if you start to stumble or you feel down or if you're not pushing yourself as hard to recover. That's just as much about wellness as is staying physically healthy. And it's something I end on that point. Particularly think of the thing. It's something that too many men, particularly in the context of prostate cancer, come to, uh, not pay close enough attention to.

Allan: 38:12 Thank you for sharing those. Uh, I do want to kind of close this a little different because there was a quote, some advice that your father gave you that I want to share here because I think this is really important. And he basically told you, he said, make sure you live your life before the hard times come. And I think that's some advice we should take to heart and realize that you know, we should be living the fullest life we can possibly live because this type of stuff can to us. Stay healthy, stay fit and enjoy the life that we have while you can. And so I appreciated your father's advice and I appreciate you sharing that along with your entire story in this book, Midpoint. If someone wanted to get in touch with you, learn more about the book and the things that you're doing, where would you like for me to send them?

James: 38:57 Well thanks for asking. I have my website is www.jamesahill.com and that is both a place where there's more information on me, my book and I also blog regularly on issues related to this. And um, and also of course the book is, is uh, going to be released in a few days on July 30th on Amazon. Barnes and Noble is all the, uh, all the major booksellers online. So anybody who wants to reach me can certainly reach out to me through my, through my website contact page there.

Allan: 39:29 Cool. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/394 and I'll be sure to have links there to the book and to Jim's website and all of that. So Jim, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

James: 39:43 Thank you for having me on. I enjoyed the conversation.

Another episode you may enjoy

August 5, 2019

The Mindful Runner with Gary Dudney

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Thank you!

Our guest today not only walks the walk, he runs the run. He is a wonderful storyteller and I really enjoy my conversations with him. Even though his books are about running, I can tell you that you can get something out of this for pretty much any fitness endeavor that you want to take on and that was kind of my challenge in this episode was to make sure that that's exactly what happened. So even if you're not a runner, I think this is an episode well worth listening to. It's my pleasure to welcome back Gary Dudney, author of The Mindful Runner.

Allan: 01:14 Gary, welcome back to 40+ Fitness.

Gary: 01:17 I'm happy to be here, Allan.

Allan: 01:19 Yeah, it's been three years since we talked last. That was episode 131 this is episode 393 so I've gone through a lot of these, but I was really excited to see your book come out because I enjoyed the last book, the Tao of Running because you're such an excellent storyteller. I mean, you know, you're talking about a race and you're going through the details of it. You know the locations, you were the struggles and it's, you do a really good job of, even though I'm not doing ultras, putting me in the place, in the conditions and in your frame of mind, all in a really well told story.

Gary: 01:55 Well thank you. That's, that's really my goal was to bring, I was a writer before I was, I was running. So I'm not a runner who wrote a, wrote a book. I'm a writer who runs and, um, I thought getting the whole experience down on, on the page was the important part. And of course I, as you know, I use those stories to make my points about the mental side of running. You do. And so you know, this book is called the mindful runner and like I said, it sort of a,I guess I'd call it a second edition of the other book.

Allan: 02:31 It kind of takes it in a slightly different direction with I think a lot more of, you know, the other was about enjoy, I think more about enjoying running and then there are challenges and things like that, but that's part of the value of it. This talks about, I particularly like that you're talking more to the beginning runner or the person that's looking to try to start doing, performing a lot better. Maybe setting some higher expectations for themselves and the fact that they're going to have to push to make this happen. And that's all going to start with their, with their mindset rather than what their body's capable of doing.

Gary: 03:06 yeah. I had, I had a lot of material that I wanted to, um, include in a new book that I didn't get into the dow of running and a lot of stories and even some short fiction that I've published in the past that I wanted to put into a book for anybody who's interested in reading about running. And then my personal focus is of course on what's going on in your mind when you're running. And there's just so many different ways to be thinking about what to be thinking about while you're running and so many mental frameworks you can bring to it. And with each new mental framework you bring to it, you find a new richness and running and you get, you get more out of the experience. And so again, I wanted to capture all that in the new book.

Allan: 04:00 Yeah, I think so many beginners will go out there and you know, they're excited because they, you know, maybe this a new year's resolution or they get on the phone with someone, they get excited, they've signed up for a 5K and you know, they're all jittery and then they're going to go out and do their first training run. And once they start moving, their body just starts in the brain, start saying, stop this, this hurts.

Gary: 04:23 That's the first thing you discover is that it's pleasant for a little while. But then invariably if you push just well beyond your comfort zone, which you really need to do in order to improve then you get right into the mental struggle. You know, do I keep going? Is it worth all this effort? Surely it shouldn't hurt like this. Whereas it's very natural for things to hurt when you, when you're pushing yourself beyond your limits and improving. And it's actually a positive thing that you're feeling that way when you do because it means you're improving and that you're reaching your potential and you're reaching the goals that you're after. If it's coming easy, you're probably not pushing hard enough.

Allan: 05:11 Yeah. And you use, you used two words that I think are critical for any training. This is not just running, but anyone that wants to achieve a result from their body through physical training, resistance training, running, whatever it is that the words are patience and determination and they somewhat counterbalance each other, but they work very well synergistically if you know how to apply them, can you talk about how we can apply it patience and determination into our training to get the most out of it?

Gary: 05:44 Sure. Those are, those are two qualities that I've just found, you know, 30 years of running and, and 20 years of ultra running are just a critical component of succeeding at what you're doing. And it occurred to me that patience is starts right there with the beginner who is trying running out for the first time or going back to running. In variably it's not going to feel good at first. It takes, you know, it takes a couple of months of continued effort in order to start getting the benefits of being in good running shape. And I think a lot of people they read about how running is you know, such a pleasant experience and such a good way to stay healthy or their friends are telling them that and then they go out and they try it for a couple of weeks and you know, something, a lot of little pains will pop up and manifest themselves and then go away if you stay after it.

But I think a lot of people get discouraged right at right at the beginning when they've been working at it for two or three weeks and you know, they still feel awful at the end of their first mile. And so, You know, the beginner needs to show some patience in getting to that month mark or two month mark of regularly getting out there and running to get to the point where they start feeling the benefits and then they can expect to get that good feeling of getting out there and getting into a rhythm and being able to get through the middle miles without, without too much stress and discomfort and whatnot.

Allan: 07:37 Yeah, I think I've found that the folks that get really comfortable with running and enjoy it the most, they've reached a certain point of training where their bodies effectively trained and now they're not really pushing their comfort zone as much. They're just staying within their comfort zone because they're happy. You know, they may be a short distance runner or they may be at a middle distance runner, you know, they like half marathons or 10 ks and that's their happy place and they run it their comfortable training pace and then they race at a, maybe a little faster pace. But the folks that I, you know, hear the most or that I really enjoy in the running, they're not really pushing themselves to do something faster or harder. They're not that driven kind of person. They're more the, I just enjoy doing the run kind of thing. But it takes a while to get there.

Gary: 08:21 Yes it does. It takes a while to get there. Your body has to make a lot of adjustments. You have to build up your endurance and your stamina and that takes a while and if you can stay patient and, and realize that you have to stay patient, then it will eventually work out. But patience also plays into when you're racing or when you're doing a longer run, you get to a point where things are becoming uncomfortable and your first inclination is slow down or drop out of your race or whatnot. And at that point when your thinking is going negative, you want to try to use thoughts about being patient and determined sort of as a mantra. And you can just, if you're aware of the fact, Hey, I have to show patience here. I have to endure the way I'm feeling right now.

This is a normal thing that I'm feeling. And if I stay patient, I will be rewarded. You know, that's somewhere to go with your thinking instead of going into a negative frame of mind where you're thinking, wow, this is just too much for me. I should have trained harder. Maybe it's not my day. Maybe I could, you know, come back next year to this race and do better. All those are excuses for not reaching your goal. Whereas if you can block those thoughts and feelings, those negative thoughts and feelings and tell yourself, you know, patience will get me through this patience, the determination will keep me in this race and, and keep me after my goal. That's a nice positive thought. And then you can get back into your race and, um, and go from there.

Allan: 10:11 Yeah, the determination part I think is, is really, where the growth comes from, the patience is just kind of making sure that you're, you're there, you're showing up each day you're doing your training, you're in the race, you're going to stick with yourself and you're, you know, this, this is not just something that you're going to wax over. The determination is kind of that point where you're beginning to push yourself because you want to get done faster, you want to move further, whatever the, the goal is with this training or with the race. And so I do feel, and I actually, in my book, I use the word persistence, but I like your word better.

Gary: 10:45 Yeah. Determination is sort of the irrational part of your brain that is keeping you in there. When the rational part of your brain is telling you, you know, this is hurting too much, or I'm trying too hard. Or determination is if like ignore all the rational thinking that you're doing. You're going to stay in this and you're going to continue it and you're going to keep performing despite everything that you are, you know, your mind is telling you.

Yeah, it was, um, I was in the army and in basic training, they broke us up into platoons and they did it alphabetically. And so we were, you know, with the last name M I ended up in the third platoon and for one reason or another we were just, we were all just the worst. Every, every competition we went into, we came in last place and the fourth platoon, every competition they went into, they came in first place. And so we, by the end of basic had this chip on our shoulders. It's like, okay, who are these guys and why? You know, how, how did alphabetically, the top end of the, of the alphabet end up with so many, you know, somebody better soldiers or better athletes. And so we were going into the two-mile run and everybody was talking about, you know, one of the kids who he ran track in high school and was, so he's a track star.

And you know he had scholarships but decided to go into the Army instead. And so I'm like, okay, I want to see how fast this guy really runs. Cause they were telling me it was really fast. I'm like well I wasn't all that too shabby myself in the two mile when I was in high school. Probably not competing in his level but you know, I'll try this. And you know, you go through basic training, you're teaching your body in many cases to ignore the pain. You know, if you know it's not a pain that's going to kill you, do you tend to push through it? And so by this time I had done enough of this that I felt comfortable. At being uncomfortable now outside my comfort zone. So I was like, I wonder if I ran my quarter mile split at the start of the race, what I could do in two miles if I could actually hold that for all the two miles.

And so I did, I literally took off, you know, with about, I guess it's probably about a 1/15 split on the quarter and you know, the, a couple of guys in my unit are walking over cause they just seen you taken out there. So I finished like the second lap and they were like, what are you doing? You know? And I just was running as hard as I could run now because I was turning off all of the pain things and not thinking about it and trying to just really focus on my breathing and just continuing to go and not, not completely red line out. I actually pooped myself, running, he did actually beat me. But the thing I can say is coming off of that run, it was, it was the fastest two mile I'd ever run in my life. It was the first time, it was a first time I broke 11 minutes and, and so, you know, even though I came in second, I felt really good, at least personally, I had to keep running and go to the bathroom and cleaned myself up. But, uh, then that embarrassment, it was where I saw that kind of cutting out the pain of it and knowing that the pain was not something that was going to sideline me forever. I, you know, I knew I might be paying and paying for a couple of days, but I didn't have to worry about it. We were passing the PT tests. So at that point, running the, you know, running the two miles was the last athletic thing I had to worry about doing for awhile. Well I knew I had that in me. I wanted to see how hard I could push myself. I wanted to see how much I could push past. And that's when it Kinda hit me why a lot of the elite runners are who they are is because it's not because they don't feel the pain, it's that they ignore it. So how do we push past that pain when we're training and how do we recognize when it is that kind of pain that we should be pushing through?

Gary: 14:35 Yeah. Okay. I will address that. I just wanted to make a final point about patience and determination. And then, and then we'll, we'll talk about that. Allan, one of the things I focused on the book, the mindful runner in the title, mindful of is associated with mindfulness, but I also want you to take the title, literally the mindful runner in that it's a runner who is aware of what is going on in his mind, his or her mind. And I think that's what so many runners, they're always focused on the physical side of their workout, how far they're going, how fast they're going, that sort of thing. And when they think about, you know, what's going to happen in the race, they're just, they're thinking about, okay, I want to hold this, this pace, I'm going to do this particular distance, that, that sort of thing.

But they don't think about what's going to happen to me when things get really bad and my mental state starts to deteriorate. And my experience from all the running I've done in all the ultra running I've done, is that if you pay attention to the mental side of the equation and you practice the mental side of the equation then when you're in the, when you're in the race or you're deep into a long run or something like that, then you're much more adept at using mental strategies to keep yourself in the race and keep yourself reaching your goals. And so just having this understanding of what is the role of determination and what is the role that patience in what you're doing. If you're thinking about that and you're aware of it, then that's a very helpful tool that you have when you're in the race and things start start getting difficult for you.

And I think you're way ahead of the person who just thinks, okay, when things get hard, I'm just going to get it out. And that's the only strategy they have because when that strategy starts failing for them, then they have nowhere to go. But if you've got these mindsets and ideas in mind, when you hit that point then you have some, some resources to try out and you can cycle through different mental strategies for keeping yourself in the race. So I wanted to just say that being, you know, aware of these things are being aware of the importance of these things is very helpful. But one of those is pushing through the pain. And I think having one strategy or many strategies that you've practiced for that point of the race where things get really painful is really critical and really helpful.

And I say that from some experience because when I was, was working up through my ultra running career, I got to the a hundred mile race, which is sort of the holy grail of ultra running is to you know, do that a hundred mile race cause it's such an iconic distance and whatnot. And I started doing them and I had done eventually 26 of them. And if you look at my records for that first 2,600 mile runs that I did, I had sort of indifferent success. I was making it to the finish about two thirds of the time and about one third of the time I was dropping out. Then I did another 2,600 mile runs. So I had gotten up to 50 to a hundred mile runs. And in that second half, the second 2,600 mile runs, I never DNF, I never did not finish. I made it to the end of every single one of those runs and a lot of things happen in a hundred mile run that can knock you out of the race that are almost beyond your control.

So it's pretty amazing to have that consistent record of finishing. And I look back at that record of the 52 runs and the point where I started not ever DNF'ing was that point where in my career where I had really started focusing on the mental side of what I was doing and I started developing the mental strategies that would help me when things got, as they inevitably do, when they get painful in the race. So it convinced me that it was, you know, nothing else had changed. My training hadn't changed. My level of fitness hadn't changed. The types of races I was doing. Nothing had changed except that I had some mental strategies to rely on when things got very difficult out there.

Allan: 19:24 So let's, let's talk about a few of those.

Gary: 19:26 Okay. So pushing through the pain. The thing about when you start feeling stress or fatigue or you know, the aches and pains, especially in a long race, like an ultra, you know, your first inclination is to deny that it's happening to you or try to run away from it or escape from it or, or just not accept that it's going on. And that's usually not going to get you very far because you can put it out of your mind for a little while, but then it's gonna just reassert itself. And when you get to the point where you realize ignoring it is just making it worse, then you're in trouble.

So I think that the key to pushing through pain is to meet it head on. To acknowledge the fact that it's happening to you. I'm not as comfortable as I was before. I'm getting very tired. What objectively is happening to me here. You know, how exactly does this feel? How bad is it? And you sort of face up to it and in a way, just just that act of facing up to the fact that acknowledging that you know you're not feeling great anymore and you are feeling bad is going to take little bit out of this, of the sting out of it and take some of its control over you out of it.

And then you want to tell yourself, this is a normal way to be feeling at this point in this race. You know, I'm not, if I'm running a marathon and I'm at mile 20 you're not going to feel good. You're going to feel really bad and you're going to feel distressed that you have six more miles to run and that you're, it's very hard to hold the pace that you were hoping to keep. But that's a normal and a natural feeling. It's also a feeling that everybody else in the race is experiencing along with you. You are not alone in feeling badly. You can't train so hard that when you push yourself, you're not going to feel this pain. So again, accepting it as just a natural and normal part of what's happening to you. It's feedback to you that you are indeed pushing yourself hard and that you're getting to your goal and that you're doing what you're supposed to be doing.

So your job now is to find a way to accept what's happening to you. And like I said, you do that by, you can sort of sink down into it a little bit and just let it, how does this feel? How, how bad is this? And usually when you do that, it's not as bad as, oh, you know, you don't let the fear and the self doubt take over. Instead you let your sort of objective look at that pain be the what's uppermost in your mind. And then once you face that you try to get back into what are all the other experiences that I'm having here besides this pain. You know, what's, what's going on around me, what are there other people around me I might be talking to or you know, what is this part of the trail look like? What am I seeing? And hearing and smelling, I'm still, I could still be focusing on my breathing or on the rhythm of my arms swinging or there's a lot of sensations going on in addition to the pain.

And so you want to try to focus back on all the other things that are going on and try to let the pain recede into the background. And that's very helpful. You, you want to try to, you know, keep your thinking positive and not give into fear and self doubt about how the pain is going to get worse and worse and you're not going to be able to stand it. You want to go to a positive place. This is the normal thing to be happening to me and I need to accept it and then I need to move beyond it and think about what else is going on in the race and what else I might be doing that will help me stay in this race.

Allan: 23:42 Yeah. I think one of the things you said in the book that was, you know, that kind of helped me a little bit in this area was we're not going to see performance gains and we're not going to have our best race if we're staying inside our comfort zone. So the fact that you're feeling this discomfort is really just proof that you're right where you need to be.

Gary: 24:02 Exactly. Yeah. I mean, and that sort of mental Jujitsu on that pain has been for me, one of the really critical insights that I've had. Because now, I mean, it's hard to believe, but now when I'm in one of my a hundred mile runs for instance, and things start feeling really bad as they inevitably do, I sort of, it's not that I welcome it, but it's like, it's like it's an old friend. It's like, okay, I know this was coming and here it is. And uh, I've dealt with it many, many times before and so I know that now I'm engaged with the beast. I know that I'm getting the job done and I'm, I'm getting to that, I'm getting to the point where where the real meat of the run is. And, uh, I'm almost happy I'm there because it's, I'm getting to the, you know, I'm, I'm getting into the real contest now. And of course it's getting to the hard things that are so validating in the end. I mean, when you get to the end of the race, if you've gone through hell, then you're, you're really happy to be at the end of the race and you, you have the real set, you get real satisfaction out of it. Whereas if it, you know, if it was easy it wouldn't be as cherishable.

Allan: 25:24 Yeah, I have clients and I've had friends that, you know they'll set stretch goals, you know, and they'll want to get to those goals. Like I've, you know, my, my stretch goal for that two mile run was, was to beat the fastest runner. You train and you train and you train and maybe it doesn't happen exactly the way that you, you saw it in your mind's eye. So at one point you to it, well you told this story in the book at one point you were training to run a 40 minute 10k. Can you tell us about that experience?

Gary: 25:52 Yeah. I'm trying to remember the point I was making.

Allan: 25:56 Well I think the point being you trained hard for this, for this particular goal. It was it at the time it seemed very, very important to you and you didn't quite make it.

Gary: 26:04 No, I never did.

Allan: 26:05 The things you learned about yourself, things that you were then able to do physically, you did have some benefits coming out of that.

Gary: 26:13 Yes. That was, you know, having a goal is a, of course a great motivator and that was one for me to get under 40 minutes for a 10k and the journey that I went on in trying to do that was infinitely satisfying. Even if in the end I never got to the goal that I had set out. But working through the training, going to the races, giving it everything you had, all that was well worth the effort. Even if in the end I didn't make it.

Allan: 26:52 Yeah. And I think that's why it's, it is important for us as we're looking at our overall fitness to have that target that's maybe slightly above what we think we're capable of, that, that kind of scary thing we're after then we know it's going to take a lot of work, but if we dedicate ourselves to it, we use patience and determination and yeah, we push through and get outside of our comfort zones. The more and more we do that, the better we're going to improve our overall fitness. We're going to improve our mental toughness and that's going to help us in so many different ways.

Gary: 27:24 Yes. And I should say that quite a long while ago, I mean I'm getting up in age, I'm 66 now, but quite a long while ago I stopped running with so much intensity where, you know, I was trying to break old, um, 10k records and that sort of thing. And I shifted my focus, not so much on making a time goal for a particular race, but getting the most out of the experience of running. And the way I did that was I chose to run new distances so that, you know, it was a new kind of race that I would be running or I chose to move out of my neighborhood and you know, travel around the country and do runs that are exciting just because you know, you're there in a particular location like the New York marathon or the Chicago Marathon. And that's also, those goals are also a very rewarding goals and they don't necessarily require that you run with so much intensity that you are, you know, liable to hurt yourself.

Allan: 28:41 Yeah. Uh, you know, there, there are marathons, 10ks, 5ks all over the country. Uh, you know, I ran big Sur, I ran Washington DC, you know, I ran the blue angels down in Pensacola. So I mean, you know, there's tons of opportunities for you to make this more than just trying to complete a run. I mean, initially when you first start running that maybe it's a local 5k you want to finish, but you get online and you look for races and, and pretty much anywhere you want to go on any given Saturday, they're probably going to be a race somewhere nearby during the season.

Gary: 29:14 Yeah. I even have a chapter in the mindful runner, it's called Yo, I know you're in there, which is about, well, the, the first example I give is I was in Sacramento and I was doing a, I was doing a 50 mile there and the night before the race, I was in my hotel room all by myself. And suddenly I heard this pounding on the door next to mine and it was a drug dealer or something like that, who was a shouting at the person inside the room. And he was going, you know, Yo, I know you're in there. Get you, get Outta here, give me you giving my 20 bucks, you get the, you get the hell out here, give away 20 bucks. And it just went on and on and on. And this is in the middle of the night, about three o'clock in the morning.

And I called the front desk and they said, yeah, we're aware of the situation, but they weren't doing anything about it. And so the guy was at the door for about an hour shouting and screaming. So I wrote about that for a race report for Ultra Running Magazine. And I'm an editor of the magazine, wrote me a note back and said, I loved your race report, especially the part about the drug dealer. And it made me realize that the experience of running, it's not just the race itself, if you're going to travel to a race, it's everything that happens around, you know, preparing for the race and dreaming about the race and, and making arrangements to go there and then traveling there and the night before and trying to get to sleep and getting to the starting line and the race itself and then getting home and the satisfaction of having gone and done something like that. And the whole, it's an example of where running or whatever activity that you are using to get exercise is just, can be such a rewarding and rich experience for you if you think about all the things that go into it and not just the running itself.

Allan: 31:24 Yeah. I completely agree. You know this, the stories, the people you meet for the longer races that the pre-race meeting, you know, when you're just sitting around looking around at the other, the other athletes that are going to be doing this and you know, saying, okay, wow, you know, this guy's, this guy's 68 years old and he's going to be out on the same course I am. And I was when I was 29 and I'm like, this is, this is kind of amazing to see this breadth of people sitting in a room.

Gary: 31:48 Yeah. Now that guy is me.

Allan: 31:51 Well, you finished.

Gary: 31:51 I launched a goal several years ago to try to run a hundred mile race in every state in the union. And I'm up to 34 states now and hope to get to 50 in a maybe two years.

Allan: 32:12 Yeah. I guess the question is, does, does every state have a hundred mile race? Because I know Mississippi had a 50, the touchstone 50, but I don't even know if they have a hundred yet.

Gary: 32:24 Mississippi does.

Allan: 32:25 Okay, cool.

Gary: 32:26 There are a handful of states that don't have, you know, sanctioned 100 mile runs. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about that. And maybe by the time I'm like you're going to be, there are so many runs popping up, who knows? Those states will come on board before I finish. But the point I wanted to make is that traveling to these races has, is so much fun and I've enjoyed so much seeing new places and meeting new people and getting to know the race director at every one of these events. It's been the most rewarding thing I've done in my life, I think.

Allan: 33:04 Yeah, absolutely. In the book he had a quote and I just have to share this. It's short, it's simple, but it's so right to the point that I just want to use this. “No one can do your running for you.” And I'm like, you know, that that's all you had to have. You know, it's like if for anyone that wants to go out and do something, they set a challenge for themselves. It's you, you know, and then the book is going to help you get in the right frame of mind to do this stuff. But in the end, when it comes to the training and it comes to the actual race day, it's you who puts one foot in front of the other.

Gary: 33:38 Yeah, exactly. And that was, I think I said that in the context of, um, there's a lot of ways to get help out there. When you're running, there's people who when you're sitting at an aid station and you're really discouraged and you want to quit, sometimes somebody can come along and say, just the right thing to you and get you up out of the chair and get you going on your way. Get your determination back. You can hook up with another runner and have a conversation and feel a lot better just because you're getting your mind off your own misery for a while. But in the end, it is all you that is going to get you to the finish line and nobody can do that for you. They can, you know, they can encourage you and help you along mentally, but they're not going to be the ones that get you there, which in the end is what makes running I think so wonderful and so satisfying is that it is very individual sport and it's something that you've accomplished and you know, once you've accomplished it, nothing can take it away from you.

Allan: 34:46 I agree. I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest, and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

Gary: 34:55 You know, I think the key, it doesn't matter what discipline you're, you're doing triathlons, ultras, shorter races or whatnot. I think working towards some big goal is the thing that keeps you engaged in the activity and keeps you coming back over and over again. If you're only thinking, oh, I should, I should run every other day just to keep fit and you don't have anything in mind at the end of that, it's just, it's pretty easy to find yourself thinking, I, you know, not today. I don't really need to, you know, there's no reason why I need to go out today, but if you have a goal that you've set, there's a race, you want to do a half marathon, you've never gone that far before in the race or there's a marathon and in some distant city that you'd like to go to and you have that in mind.

Gary: 35:51 I think that's extremely helpful and extremely motivating to know that at some point the training that you're doing has a purpose and it's leading towards something and it doesn't matter if that goal is just you going off to have some experience. It's very helpful. And then I think it's helpful to have different goals that you, you know, if you've always been running marathons and that can get sort of stale after awhile if you decide, okay, well, you know, maybe I'll train for a 10K and see how I can do at this point in my life running a 10K or maybe I'll try a trail running instead of running on the road. Or I'll try, you know, a 50K ultra. Um, if you get off on some new quest, I think that's something that it's very helpful to reinvigorate what you're doing and you can find yourself more excited about the training that you're doing because you have this new goal.

Gary: 37:01 And then the new experience itself might be something that you know, you might, I know the first time I did any trail running, I was totally transformed from a road runner to a trail runner. Like the very first time I ran on a trail. Because I just found it so, such a wonderful experience to be out there in the woods jumping over streams and getting lost in the forest, you know.

Allan: 37:27 Yeah, that happens. A true story.

Gary: 37:29 That's a couple of things I'd suggest.

Allan: 37:31 Yeah. Thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness. If someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about the book, where would you like for me to send them?

Gary: 37:38 I have a website, it's called the taoofrunning.com and that's a tao, spelled t, a o and it's all one word, so the taoofrunning.com. And that's where I've gathered all my material that I've written for ultra running magazine over the years. All my race reports, all night articles with advice about running and the mental side of running and where I linked to my books and I linked to a lot of other running websites. The books you can get on on Amazon, The Mindful Runner or The Tao of Running. They're both available as paperback and Kindle and as audio books. And then also I write a regular column for Ultra Running Magazine and an online magazine called Endurance Sports and Fitness. I do a regular column for them as well. Those are all places you can find me.

Allan: 38:37 You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/393 and I'll be sure to have all of those links there. So again, Gary, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

Gary: 38:48 Hey, I enjoyed it. Allan

Another episode you may enjoy

July 29, 2019

Mental Toughness with Michele Ufer

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Thank you!

With the techniques Michele Ufer shares in his book, Mental Toughness for Runners you can push your body to new levels. On episode 392 of the 40+ Fitness Podcast, we share a few of those techniques. 

Allan: 02:00 Michele, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

Michele: 02:03 Hi Allan. Thanks for inviting me to your show.

Allan: 02:05 You know your book, it's on mental toughness, it's on a lot of things and as I got into it, what I really appreciated was the way that you layered the information in there so that you gave me a really good foundation for understanding the mind over body. And then you just kept taking it to a deeper level and a deeper level and a deeper level and all these lessons and things that were in this book. I really liked how you related them to the event that you did. And so I'd like to kind of just start out with, could you tell us a little bit about that event and you know, why you thought 15 weeks was enough to train for an ultra marathon when you'd never done anything close to that and how you used mind over body as a basic way to do that.

Michele: 02:57 Well, when I signed up for this ultra marathon Atacama Crossing, I just realized, oh, it's just three and a half months to go. So I had no choice. And uh, all the people around me, they told me I'm crazy. I've never done a marathon or half marathon before. I'm not an experienced runner. I'm not even felt like being a runner and then signing up for such race in the driest place on earth and just people, just look at me like I'm stupid crazy. It was out of I don't know, they couldn't imagine and uh, yeah, but, but finally it was just very short amount of time and I said to myself, I told myself then you really have to think wisely how you spend these a couple of weeks. And, uh, my main goal was to get as fit as possible on the physical side, but not to train too much. I don't want to get exhausted when arriving at the start line. And a main or key point for me was the, was the mental training part, the metal training session, because I titled The whole project, an extreme mental self test.

Allan: 04:13 And it was, I mean, we're talking 240 kilometers and for, for us Americans, I'll kind of put that in relation. When I, when I did the 50-mile run, that was, um, to me that was extremely long. This is far in excess of 50 miles.

Michele: 04:30 MMM. Yeah, it was a 250. And during my training for this phase, the largest distance I covered was, I was shocked when I was looking at my GPS watch pad. It was 29k so I felt like, oh Jesus, do you really want to travel to Chile and started this race with the maximum distance of 29k in your longest training run. But then I said to myself, what if it's your hobby? It will be a great adventure. And uh, if you can't run anymore, you switched walking or trekking. So it will all be fine.

Allan: 05:08 Yeah. Yeah. So I want to start out because when people think about training, I think they think just like the physical aspects of it. I know I typically have and just figured, I don't know, maybe the mental toughness just comes from the fact that you are continually putting yourself through the long runs. You know, like, so someone's going to train for a half marathon or marathon they say on their day off their Saturday or Sunday, they're going to do the long run. And over time they inched that up to make it a little bit more and a little bit more. And then you know they tapered down for the race and the training has been their mental training even though they didn't really take the time. But in your book you're talking about actually taking time to train your mind, not just the running part of it, but to actually train your mind. Can you talk about that mental training, how it's going to help us improve our performance?

Michele: 06:00 Yeah. First of you, you're absolutely right. During your race or during the long runs, you have a lot of time to train your mind and even if you push yourself through it, this has a huge impact on your mental toughness. As you mentioned at the beginning. I'm not really a fan of mind over body. I rather think mind and body has to do kind of teamwork in order for you to achieve top performance or the goals you want. And for example, in German speaking countries where the book got published first, there is tons of books out there and they all focus on one thing, physical training plans. So they tell you when to run, how long to run, when to do cross training, how long the long run should be, when to do interval runs and whatever, and at the same time, all runners they say and confirm the mental aspect of performance is very important, but it's not represented in the training plans, so it's completely, it's not there.

Allan: 07:10 I was guilty of that too. You know, I've had clients that, you know, say, okay, I want to run, I want to run a 5k. I'm like, okay, well here's, here's a training plan for you. And it's, you know, it's the slow progression of the distance and then doing some speed work and you know, all to go up to a race day when I know they're going to be capable of completing the race. But you're right, I've never sat down and say, okay, we're going to need to do some mental training on top of this, make this a more enjoyable part. I give them that training, but when you're talking about a 5 k or something like that, most people within a reasonable amount of time, there's not a lot of pain and aches, but if they want to run a certain time, that's where this is going to come in. Or if you're, you know, I'm looking at this as a trainer and saying this applies to everything. If you want to, if you want to be able to ride your mountain bike further, if you have a little bit of this training even a little bit, I think it's going to go a long way towards helping you be more successful.

Michele: 08:12 Yeah, definitely. And I got a lot of feedback, although the book is dedicated to runners first, not especially or not just long distance runners or ultra runners, I got a lot of feedback from middle distance runners, 800 meters or whatever. They have to be mentally tough as well. And I even got some feedbacks from soccer trainer or tennis player or executive from a business corporations, and they say this applies to all kinds of challenges because the main goal of a mental training or mental toughness training is to work to achieve your goals maybe a bit smarter or to even achieve them at all.

Allan: 08:54 Exactly, and I really liked that you put that idea and so this is not just a sports performance book or a running book as you say. It actually can apply to a lot of part of our parts of our lives. Having that mental toughness to be able to push through when things get tough and maybe even have some fun when we're doing it. I love the story when you talked about Santana floating or floating or running when you first started this story. I thought, okay, Santana has me running along with them. And then you talked about the carousel and I was like, okay, but you had fun. You didn't just tough out this race. You had fun while you were doing it because of the mental training you had done.

Michele: 09:30 Yeah, exactly. It was a, the fun part for me was a key point. I really, when I, when I signed up for the race, 10 seconds later I started crying because it was such an amazing step for me. And uh, two minutes later I went into the living room and started listening to music. It was Carlos Santana. I was listening to some songs from seventeens, uh, one court revelations and the other one try a little bit harder or try a little harder. They fit perfectly to this project and they really become a very motivational for me. And when I sat there listening to the music, just automatically kind of mental training started, I started visualizing how to get to the finish line or the moment when I get to the finish line, how proud I would be, what I would feel like when I arrived at the finish line. And, but also, hey guy, now you signed up for this race. There's no return way and what is the key challenges in order to complete this event? And immediately a lot of things went through my head and I just started ordering, developing mental images, self-talk elements. And emotions and tons of things that were really very helpful.

Allan: 11:00 In the very beginning of the book. You put in an example that I feel like really resonated with me because it was just a simple little experiment, and you call it the lemon experiment and you can show us how, a thought a single thought and an image in your head can change your body. Would you take us through the limit experiment?

Michele: 11:21 Yeah. Yeah. I like to, it's very famous experiment and really wonderful example on, uh, to show how conscious thoughts or mental images effect our bodies really immediately in a minimal most of the time. So, dear readers, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to invite you now to those little experiments. Imagine holding an already peeled lemon in your hand. It's plump early ripening and therefore particularly sour lemon, very sour lemon. And imagine what the lemon surface feels like as you turn it over and move it around in your hand. And now imagine raising your arm and passing the lemon under your nose to smell it. And you begin to notice a pleasant, fresh lemon scent. And the longer you hold the lemon in your hand, look at it and sniff it and the stronger the lemon fresh scent becomes. And now imagine bringing the limit to your lips, opening your mouth and taking a big bite.

Oh, that's already there. This little exercise. For many people it works particularly well with their eyes closed and the more intense and detailed the attention that is focused on the mental image, the more senses or cognitive channels activated and generally, the more significant is the immediate physical reaction. So some people, they really shut it when they imagined themselves fighting into the solid limits or other facial muscles they contract or increase in production. So immediate impact, if just such a little image has, can have such a huge impact, then we can use this information to control our thoughts during tough moments. And I did that in the during the Atacama race really a couple of times, like you mentioned the Carlos Santana image, if you want, we can talk about this a, it was really funny, but it was also very functional. I use this image to change my, or to put myself in in a different state, in a functional state and to feel freshness and to have fun and whatever.

Allan: 13:41 Yeah, I think the one that would, the one I liked that you'd probably tell us about, you said you were running and I guess the ground was particularly rough. It was, you know, of course you're in the desert so it's very hot. You imagined water like on a beach washing up over your feet.

Michele: 13:55 Yeah, exactly. One of the key points for me during the preparation was during these ultra races, the feet, they carry you the whole way. They are crucial for your success and many people suffer from blisters and I dunno, the feet will swollen like crazy. There's always a lot of sand and stones in the shoe so it makes all time. Things get bloody and it find my feet to be most important and I was defining kind of a goal. I wanted to achieve a process goal for my feet. How do I want my feet to feel what do I think my feet should be like in order to carry me through the race. And I defined the feet should be, should feel fresh, really, absolutely fresh. And I was searching for an, for an image that presents this freshness. And uh, there came an image into my head when I'm walking at the seashore barefoot and uh, the water is just, I don't know how to say in English, gets over the feet and gets the waves, just get over the feet, get back when the waves getting back.

There is some wind who make feel the feed even fresher. And I really imagined this in a very intensive way and finally felt that my feet got more and more fresh and I have another image just walking, I don't know, in the mountains on fresh grass in the morning, still a bit baffled as well. And with my wife, hand in hand, very relaxed. And I really focused on this feeling of freshness. And finally I was able to activate this feeling during tough moments when, I don't know, we ran 80k and it was hot of course in the desert. But getting into this image, I felt my feet fresh and the result was I didn't have any blisters at all. And yeah, made it to the finish line finally.

Allan: 16:08 Yeah, it's, it's crazy. But it works, you know? And um, but I want to kind of jump on the other side of the conversation because I think a lot of us start there and it's, it's self sabotage. And so in the book you kind of really get into some of the words when we're talking to ourself, we're doing this stuff. There's words that we need to start avoiding.

Michele: 16:27 Yeah. Yeah. It's very interesting. Years ago I was invited for conference, a sport medical conference and it took place in, in the Alps, in a ski resort and in during the morning that people were involved in scientific lectures. And in the afternoon we had ski courses, ski lessons. And, uh, during one of my lectures I was presenting people with the techniques that have an immediate effect on their performance. And it was confronting them with the instructions or maybe self instructions that are very common whether we talk to ourself or we talk to friends if we want to help them as a trainer, whatever. There's a self talk, like don't put so much pressure on yourself or daunting to up when you run. Or maybe the participants in the congress were skiing, oh don't take the snow gun or don't ski staight at another skier. So very, very common self-talk I think. And I explain to people that it's really dysfunctional because it moves as exactly in the direction we don't want. So this is kind of the realization. They are all well intended, but they have the pitfalls and still lead to precisely the opposite behavior. The one we wish to avoid.

Allan: 18:02 No, I know they, they, they tell you, you know, if you see a police officers pulled someone over to the side of the road and you're passing by, don't look at the police car. Keep your eye on the road where you're, where you want to be driving because so many people are looking at the police car and ended up hitting the police car.

Michele: 18:19 Yeah, exactly. That's it. You, you, you, you move in the direction you're focused on. And this is a true also with the self talk if we're talking about don't do this, don't do that. The problem is our brain doesn't have any internal representations for denials. So when someone is talking to us or we are talking to ourself stuff like don't put so much pressure on yourself, then a lot of areas in our brain start working, connecting each other. This can be centers for cognition, image processing, movement control, whatever. And there's always the center for visual imagery, uh, affects and circumstances involved as well. So when someone tells me, don't stiffen up when you run, I have to represent this first in order to then deactivate it again. But uh, in this moment, the focus is already a guided into the wrong direction.

Allan: 19:22 Yeah. I can't remember the animal you used in the book right now, but it was sort of the concept of don't think about a polar bear, immediately whats her head gonna do. It's gonna think polar bear. And so now you've got to say, well I don't want to think about a polar bear. So you have to try to clear that image out of your head and it's very difficult.

Michele: 19:41 Yeah, exactly. We, well that's a, I don't know, [inaudible] we are very much conditioned to these negations, but they have the pitfalls. So what we should do, what were first the language that focuses on negative things on things we don't want or on mistakes leaped to these results that we wish to avoid. So we should rather learn to focus on goals instead or on things we really want instead of things we do not want.

Allan: 20:13 Yeah. So instead of saying don't put so much pressure on yourself, it's run relaxed, stay relaxed, enjoy. Then two other words that you use or that you talk about. Are the words, try and must.

Michele: 20:26 Yeah, if we use the word, I don't know if it's the same in in English speaking countries, but in German speaking countries they word must is very popular. But it's also very problematic because must always induce this kind of pressure and at the same time kind of reactions to do or to want the opposite. So imagine yourself telling, I must train today or for me it feels hard already and we should avoid this word and rather choose, something more productive. Like I will train today. Oh, I go, I'll go train today.

Allan: 21:05 Or better yet, I get to train today.

Michele: 21:08 Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And the word try feels like it will be hard. You have to put a lot of effort in something. So it would be a good idea to change it as well. Not I try to, I try to prepare the nice presentation for the meeting. No, I will prepare it and that's it.

Allan: 21:34 And yeah, so, so with this, you know, the focus is focused on where you want to go instead of the things that you want to avoid. But invariably, you know, we have these things in our head, they talk to us all the time. We can't shut them off. We call it self-talk, but it's the voice in our head and for a lot of us, we need to change. We need to manage it. And it's not as easy as just saying, I'm not going to necessarily, I'm not going to use these words. That helps. It definitely helps. But when you're in a tough situation and the self-talk is starting to move against you, what are, what are some training things that we can do to kind of make sure that we're in a position to turn that around, to change that self-talk because that's at a point where we're at our physical weakness, you know, we're weak physically, we're emotionally tired and fatigued and now we've got this, this internal dialogue that we need to turn around. What are some tools that we can use to make sure we're in a position to do that?

Michele: 22:28 Hmm. I think the first step is to be aware of your self talk and especially of negative self talk and a very easy strategy, which also is backed by science. It's proven and helpful is to start violating a little kind of diary. Just go through your last race, tough race maybe or situations. And I remembered the self talk you had. Was it positive, was it negative? In what moments do I have negative self talk and what exactly is the self talk like or what do I tell myself? And I can make a list and when I have a bit of time, maybe during the next long run and I want to combine running with some mental training, I can spend a little bit of time changing these talks, this negative self talks into positive ones and the next time I'm on a tough moment and maybe I realized, ahh okay, the inner voice is there.

Again, the negative inner voice is there. There's one very powerful strategy. It's a thought stop. So whenever I realize, Oh, I'm into negative self talk again, just tell yourself stop. Or maybe you can combine it with a kind of gesture or with an intern rhythm image of, I don't know, a button, the red button, which when you push it, it makes a solid like or whatever. But this technique is a very powerful to just, yeah to stop the negative thinking this automatism but then if you stopped it you have to offer your brain something else instead. Otherwise the brain could jump back to the last rather negative self talk again. So don't leave the brain in a kind of vacuum. Offer him as positive self talk and you could prepare this before race or once when you started working on your diary and you found this might typical self negative self talk in this or that situation and you have turned them into a positive one. You can combine it with the Stop Technique. So whenever negative self talk you'll stop, you make a thought stop and then you'll switch consciously to a positive self talk that is rather functional.

Allan: 25:00 Okay. Can you give us an example of how you've used this before?

Michele: 25:04 Easy example is last couple of days it was really hot in Germany and uh, people are complaining all the time and now you can go out running and start or let you in a voice complaint. Oh, it's so hot. It's so hot. But that's not really helpful. You suffer more than you might have to suffer. So you could just work with the thoughts, stop technique, maybe use your inner B or whatever and switch immediately to positive, hey, running in heat is a great opportunity for me to improve going through challenging conditions and I just adapt to speed and well get enough drinks or whatever or just enjoy the sun. Well, we are not in a very sunny state, so yeah, be happy. Finally, you have some sun, enjoy the sun, whatever. It's really very personal. And sometimes these self talk or images, they just pop out spontaneously, very spontaneously. But you should be open for this.

Allan: 26:14 Oh good, good. And then you know, I think one of the other things you talked about like you know to make sure there's no vacuum there is to maybe fill it up with something that's a little fun. You know where like you said the Santana thing or you know, water running over your feet or walking in a cool damp morning mountain air grass and those things where you're putting something into your head that's, that's there. That's going to keep those negative thoughts from returning.

Michele: 26:42 Yeah. Even another strategy might be in order to prevent negative self talk or images to occur, just fill up your mind with tons of positive self talk. For example, if you, that's a strategy I used. I've been in Russia two weeks ago at the race called TransUral. It's a race series, four races 160 280 kilometers each and the first day for me was very tough. There are difficult days and weeks before didn't sleep enough. I had to stop every couple of minutes to do some footage for TV documentary that will be broadcasted in a couple of months. It was hard for me. The next day I really switched my mind and I said, okay, you shared, you are here. It's free choice. So start enjoying the race while taking the footage and I started working with a self talk, very easy but which has worked for many years for me, the self talk was just I few fresh and relaxed, fresh and relaxed, fresh and relaxed.

I enjoy it being on the way, whatever. And I spent hours out there on the course just repeating this all the time, repeating, repeating. I run fresh and relaxed, fresh and relaxed. What happens was I started feeling fresh and relaxed, fresh and relaxed and there was no chance for negative self talk to enter my brain because it was completely full of this positive self talk. So nice way to avoid the occurrence of negative self talk and you might get into kind of a trance state if you use it like a mantra. Repeating, repeating, repeating, repeating.

Allan: 28:33 Yeah. I've, I've used mantras during particularly tough times. We had a, when I went through basic training in the military our captain was a green baret and so he loved this thing called a flutter kick and basically lay on your back and you lift your feet off the ground and you just start kicking your feet. Like you're almost like you're scuba diving upside down and you know, just kicking your feet and after a while, you know, you start feeling the burn and your abdominals and front of your top of your legs and it's hard to just keep going. So your body wants to quit, you're in a lot of pain. And I just, because I was in basic training and I was stubborn, I just, I can just, I will not quit. And that was my mantra as I'm kicking. And the more it hurt, the more I had to actually verbally say it versus just say it in my head so that it was getting louder and louder than what I was feeling. And he walked by and saw me and heard me and said, yeah, you won't quit. And we went for another few minutes and I made it through the entire time and didn't have to put my feet down. I felt it that afternoon because that was a tough workout. But it got me through it and it kept me going. When more likely than not self talk would say, Hey, put your feet down. He's going to come yell at you. And then you'll just lift him back up and start kicking butt. You can rest if you want. You know, you know that whole, he's telling me most and my brain is saying, okay, I don't want to quit. But turning it into a mantra and just continuing to repeat that just allowed me to push a little harder than my body would have normally let me.

Michele: 30:05 Hmm. Yeah. It just stays even some evidence from science that this works. For example, studies showing that, uh, people that enter into this kind of trance state, they might perform better but feeling less exhausted or what is the strain is less than what they objectively have to have to master or if to go through.

Allan: 30:27 Michelle, I define wellness as being the healthiest fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay Well?

Michele: 30:38 I'm not really, well, this is now the big question. The listicles, I've heard about it. People love listicles. The three top strategies, and normally when I'm talking to journalists, I tell them, sorry, I can't deliver because we are all very different. We have different goals, we have different concepts maybe of what being happy means. We are living in very different contexts. So it's really hard to offer the three magic strategies. I think one, maybe one, one advice, be love what you do. Maybe it's not the answer you are expecting.

Allan: 31:16 No, no, no. That is, that is a big part of it is I talk to people about fitness. You know, you don't necessarily want to have to look like a bodybuilder or a crossfit athlete or you know, an elite runner. That might not be your goal for fitness. Your goal might just be to be the best grandmother you can be and train for that, you know, make that your thing. Because now that's your, your why. That's your vision. That's everything you want to be. So yeah, I very much agree with that. It's um, to what you have.

Michele: 31:46 Yeah, I may add something else. We have fun while doing what you love and be aware of yourself and uh, what, what you really need, what is good for you in a certain moment. I really feel like many people, they, they lose a bit of context to there. Their buddies, they don't really listen to themselves. And so this might be a very basic strategy, but a powerful and some people really have to relearn, listen to themselves and to their bodies.

Allan: 32:15 Yeah. Your book, Mental Toughness for Runners I think is going to make me a better trainer with a lot of the lessons that are in there. I'm going to take the heart in my own work and training, but I think I'm also going to share a lot of that with my clients because I do think they're very powerful strategies when we're hitting those tough times. So thank you so much for coming on today and sharing this with us. If someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about the book, where would you like for me to send them?

Michele: 32:41 Well, first of all, if they want to have a look at the book. Yeah, check out their local bookstore on the internet shops. Maybe people want to have a look on my website with some additional information on the book and some readers comments as well. And Yeah, I'm always very happy to receive feedback from readers and share success stories, so I'm really looking forward to get in touch.

Allan: 33:05 Okay. Do you have that link for your website?

Michele: 33:07 Yeah, it's Micheleufer.com

Allan: 33:10 Okay, well you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/392 and I'll be sure to have a link to his website and the book.

Allan: 33:18 Michelle, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

Michele: 33:22 Thank you Allan

Another episode you may enjoy

When food is your drug with Kristin Jones

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Thank you!

The more time I spend coaching, the more I see how food is a very complex topic. Whether it is mindless eating, emotional eating, or full food addiction, we have to get control of our food or we'll never find wellness. Our guest today is Kristin Jones, the author of When Food is Your Drug.

Allan: 02:02 Kristin, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

Kristin: 02:05 Thank you so much, Allan. I am so honored to be here and I'm really, really excited to share some knowledge and share some things with your audience site. I'm really, really honored to be here, so thank you again.

Allan: 02:17 Well, you know, I have the low voice so it's pretty clear I'm the guy on the show. But so you know, you're talking about emotional eating and to me in a lot of ways, when I first started getting into the book, I was thinking this is a predominantly female issue and it was a guy. Like you said in the book. We don't typically sit around talking about food, but I will tell you that I have male clients that have emotional issues with food and I have female clients that have emotional issues with food and we have those regular conversations. So it was really refreshing to kind of have a book like yours where you really, it's a concise book, but you really got in there and boar your soul and use that as a perfect example for someone to go these exercises to discover why they're having an issue with food that's not about the food as much as it's about what the food does for them emotionally.

Kristin: 03:10 Absolutely, absolutely. I actually, the process that I use in the book and that I used on myself and, and I use with my clients was something that was exposed to me when I actually did some work with a life coach in relationship to some money issues that I was having. And so we went through the process of accepting situations, forgiving and then rewriting and it was really, really powerful for me. And so it was one of those things where I kind of morphed that into what I knew had worked for me in regards to another issue. And I was able to then take that and use that with my own experiences and my own issues with food, which has gone back for me as early as, as early as I can remember, probably using food in a way that wasn't because I was hungry. That would kind of, I can say I can go back to maybe being seven or eight years old and remembering circumstances where food was used in a way that wasn't just about getting nutrients. It was, it was about making me feel better.

Allan: 04:16 Yeah. Obviously, you know we have to eat, you know, those who have alcoholism or they'll have a drug substance abuse or there'll be had a gambling issue or sex issue or something's going on in their lives where they're doing something they know is unhealthy, but they can't necessarily stop themselves from doing it. How does someone recognize emotional eating? What is emotional eating and how can we recognize if it's happening to us?

Kristin: 04:39 An emotional eating to a certain extent, there's probably, I would say probably most of the population, and this would include men as well, have had at least one instance where they have responded to something that has happened to them and their response was to instead of expressing, or maybe they even did express it, but they would use food as a way of making themselves feel better. So when we, when we think about it in very, very basic terms, probably everyone at some point has used food either as a celebratory device or used it to make themselves feel better. It's when emotional eating, when it becomes your regular go to option, instead of expressing your emotions instead of communicating, you turn to food instead of dealing with the situation directly. That's when it's done on a regular basis. It's something, it's, it's kind of your crutch that you use to get through life.

Kristin: 05:42 That's when it begins to be a problem. It's the same thing. Most of the population, a lot of the population drinks alcohol. It's when you can't get through a certain situation without alcohol that that becomes a problem. It's the same thing with emotional eating. If you can't get through an emotional episode or something in your life without turning to food on a regular basis, that's when you need to be a little bit more aware of like there might be a problem here. I might not be using my words. Instead, I'm using, I'm using food to get myself through certain difficult situations.

Allan: 06:16 Yeah, and you had said it in the book so aptly, it's like we don't go after Broccoli for this. There's no, we're picking, we're typically going after foods that are high fat, high sugar that are going to give us that rush that uh, almost a drug like euphoria, the, you know, the endorphins, the whole dopamine and all of that is when it's happening.

Kristin: 06:38 Absolutely. And that's, and that really is, that is the, that's that's is, it's a great kind of a great segue into the difference between emotional eating, emotional hunger and physical hunger because physical hunger gradually builds and when you're physically hungry you can have a salad, you can have, you can make that decision of I'm going to have my salmon and I'm going to have some rice and some Broccoli and I'm going to have a, a good well rounded meal and I'm going to eat it in a way that is, you know, sitting down eating at a table with a fork and a knife and, and that is a response to physical hunger. Again, there's a gradual buildup. You want to eat something, you can make a rational decision about what it is that you want to to eat. And in a lot of cases people make wise choices in that way.

Kristin: 07:26 With emotional hunger. Emotional hunger can come on almost instantaneously and it triggers in your body that response for the, you know, the high fat, the sugar because it needs that comfort and it needs those chemicals and that reaction in the blood sugar and you know the elevation of our blood sugar in needs that in order to make a person feel better. And so yeah, we're not going, we're not going for Broccoli, we're not going for carrot sticks and hummus when we have an episode of emotional eating is always going to be those things that are going to make us that or they're really going to be identified as comfort foods because that is exactly what it's doing. It's comforting us.

Allan: 08:10 Now you said something that was very important and I don't want to gloss over here cause I do think we need to dive in and the difference of sitting down at the table with a knife and fork versus hiding in the Pantry, squashing a box of cookies. Can you kind of go over that a little bit? Because I think that's a, there's probably gonna come up and one of your triggers, or at least you know and understanding that there's something going on. Can you kind of talk through that?

Kristin: 08:32 Oh, absolutely. When you use food in a way that, and I kind of always used the term inappropriately, when you use food inappropriately, not what, it's not what it's originally based upon, how it's originally should be used with our bodies. There is a certain degree, a person, I'm going to say, I'm going to make a generalization, but I'm going to say that in most cases people know that they're not, this is not right. Like I knew for me, I knew I had a funky relationship with food. I could not tell you what it was. I couldn't put a name to it. I knew I wasn't anorexic and I wasn't balemic but I knew there was something that wasn't right. But I, I didn't really, I didn't want to look at it. I just was like, this is just the way I do things. And so because I knew in my heart, kind of in the back recesses of my mind that this was not what other people did.

Kristin: 09:23 There was a degree of shame associated with it. And so with shame comes that need of wanting to keep that secret and wanting to not let people know what was going on and what you were doing. And so what happened, what happened for me was I became very much, I very much isolated myself and I would do, I would eat at night, I was a nighttime eater. I would, my family still laughs about it, we still joke about how, you know, if something, somebody thinks somebody breaking in the house, no, you better check. It's probably Krisin in the refrigerator. And that would be the truth that I would be getting up at one o'clock in the morning and going, you know, padding out to the kitchen and slowly opening the door of the refrigerator to check and see what, you know, what I could have at that particular moment.

Kristin: 10:09 And so there's definitely, like I say, a degree of shame and you, you isolate yourself because you one, you don't want anybody to see what you're doing and you also don't want to be called on it. You don't want to have, cause you don't want to have to face it. And so that hiding the shame, you know people who a lot of people will hoard food and I can remember doing that as well. I write about in the book how, because I was not, as a young person, I was not allowed to express my emotions if something, if I got in trouble or if something went, something went down in the house that I didn't agree with, I was not really allowed to say if I had disagreed. I wasn't allowed to disagree with an adult. And so if I got upset about something, I would be sent to my room because I wasn't allowed to say how I really felt.

Kristin: 10:59 So I would be sent to my room and I started to realize, well, if I'm going to be sent to my room and no one's going to come check on me and I'm going to be down here by myself and I'm feeling terrible, I should probably have some food in my room. So I know that I can take care of myself and I can make myself feel better. And so I gradually started making sure that I had what I would call rations in my room to make sure that I was taken care of during those situations when I was left kind of emotionally needy and, uh, would be able to take care of myself. So yes, absolutely there is, there's a huge element of secrecy and of isolation that you want to isolate yourself from others because you don't want people to find out what you're doing.

Allan: 11:40 And I think that's so hard because I guess subconsciously you're just doing this, you just, you, you don't want people to know. You pack up all these desserts from the event and you're taking them home and you don't want anyone to know that. But now it's time for you to kind of say, okay, well I've got to figure this out because you know if you're wanting to lose some weight or you realize that this behavior is really starting to adversely affect your overall health and obviously there's some happiness issues there as well. So your total wellness is really kind of can be devastated by this. We're looking for triggers, we're looking for what are the things that are making you do this? Because if you can, if you can figure those out, you can start putting together strategies to combat them to to make sure that you do don't go off the rails every time. Can you go through, in the book you have nine triggers. Can you go through those nine with us real quick?

Kristin: 12:32 Sure, absolutely. So I really would, I do with my, with my clients is I ask them and I think it's really helpful too. I asked them to think back to the last, the last time they felt an episode of emotionally or they can recognize when they were emotionally eating. What was the event that happened right before that? What was the circumstance that happened right before that. And when you can be aware of what your circumstances are or what things are said or what people you're around you can then become much more that oftentimes awareness is a huge thing because people just become, they become more mindful, they become more present. Because what happens is is emotional eating takes you out of that present moment and takes you to your proverbial happy place and you go there and it's, it's like, okay, I can deal with this now because I've got my ice cream, I've got my cookies and I can just, I can just be, and I can make myself happy. And so I ask my clients to really look back at what are those circumstances, situations? Is it an argument? Is it a person that you're around? So oftentimes, and then they can look at, okay, so when I'm in those situations, how can I prepare myself to better be able to cope with what my reactions are going to be to things that happen around me.

Allan: 13:47 Just just punch them in the face.

Kristin: 13:50 You know, at sometimes. And sometimes it really is recognizing that there are people that set you off and that there are people and oftentimes it just takes one time of telling of, actually it's more about communication than anything else. A lot of times it's people don't know, or people, for me it was, I wasn't allowed to really say how I felt and so I would just swallow my feelings. Well, when you swallow your feelings, there's gotta be something along there with you. You've gotta be swallowing something. And so for me, I would swallow my feelings and I would want food because I knew that I was keeping all this stuff inside me and it really, in theory had to be fed. And so I would keep all this inside. Then it gets to the point of being able to, how do you appropriately communicate with people?

Kristin: 14:34 Because if you've grown up and never known how to communicate with somebody or how to communicate appropriately, I know for me, I could keep it inside for a long time. And then I decided that, okay, now it's time for me to communicate. And I would come out like a Holler monkey and I would just start, you know I, there would be completely out control. So learning how to appropriately communicate with people is really important. But the nine, the nine most common triggers that based upon based on research they show the first one is a pretty obviously one and that's a lack of intimacy. And so when people are lacking physical touch, they're lacking close bonds and close friendships and close relationships. Food oftentimes can become a replacement for that. And that unfortunately can be something that somebody could have throughout their life. It could be situational.

Kristin: 15:23 Somebody has a breakup, they use food as a way to comfort themselves because their partner's no longer there. But some people, if this has gone on for most of their, of their life, and this is something that they were, they didn't have a lot of physical intimacy or emotional intimacy when they were young. This could be a problem that is that they never, they've never learned the skills to be able to allow themselves to be intimate with, with another human being. But they can be intimate with food. So, um, the second one is, as I talk, I talked about feelings of shame that can be feelings of shame based upon circumstances, trauma, feeling that they've done, a person feels that they've done something horrible and they can't forgive themselves. And so that they end up feeling like they need to continue to punish themselves. And so that's what they, that's how they end up.

Kristin: 16:08 They end up using food in that way. Again, very, very closely parallels what alcoholics and what drug, you know, drug users do as well. Because again, food can be and is for many people in addictive substance, fear of challenges. Oftentimes people, if they are in a situation where they don't, and again, a lot of it is avoidance. If they want to avoid a situation that makes them uncomfortable, they turn to food. So a lot of people who are, who are, have a fear of failure, they don't want to be confronted with challenges. And so instead of actually facing a challenge they receive back and they just, they find comfort in avoiding it and using food as, a way of avoiding. Again, fear of judgment is probably this, this really parallels eating disorders pretty significantly. I mean, I consider emotional eating and eating disorder and it's really, the fear of judgment by others is actually a fear of judgment for your, you're judging yourself in when it comes to your own body.

Kristin: 17:12 And oftentimes people have such high expectations for themselves that they are so hard on themselves and they fear judgment and it's not the, it's what they want their bodies to be perfect. They want their bodies to look in a certain way. I know I really felt that was really important. And so then the question is, well, why would you sabotage yourself by eating these things that you shouldn't be eating? And the answer for me was, well, I want to be in control of that. I want to make the decision that if I'm gonna go off the rails, it's my decision. It's not going to be because somebody else caused me or because somebody else made me feel badly. So a lot of it has to do with control as well. Again, which is a common threat with people with eating disorders and the fifth one is a conflict avoidance.

Kristin: 17:53 Often times when you don't want to have an argument with somebody or you don't want to face up to emotions and circumstances, it's much easier to hide in a meal or hide in a bag of potato chips or hide in that ice cream. So that is another, another very easy and common way for people to distract themselves from actually facing uncomfortable emotions. Probably the most common one is boredom. I think that a lot of people use food as a way of just getting themselves through the day because they're bored and they don't want, a lot of times they're bored and they're again trying to distract themselves from not wanting to deal with difficult situations. I have to say number seven, self sabotaging beliefs. That kind of goes along with the shame. When you sabotage yourself, then no one else. It's not because somebody else, you're in control of it, you're doing it yourself.

Kristin: 18:45 And that is something that, again, control comes back to being a huge, a huge issue. I know for me, there's a portion in my book about the issues in my family growing up where there was food that I was not allowed to eat, and I really believe that when we deny anyone of anything, it makes us want it even more. That's why I really, I have kind of an issue, not kind of an issue. I do have an issue with diets only because when you deny somebody something, they want it so much more. So I think if someone's going to go on an eating plan or an eating, eat their meals, they have to have some indulgences, a little bit of something, because when we completely deny ourselves things, oh gosh, we want them so much more. And so rebellion for me was because I was denied these foods when I was a child.

Kristin: 19:35 It made me want them so much more. And they became a reward. They became like a treat when I really wanted to, when I really wanted to feel better. And the last one is kind of goes along with the with shame and that's people who are victims of trauma, whether it's physical, sexual or emotional trauma. Again, there's that degree of shame that they feel they have to continually punish themselves for something that was completely out of their control, but it makes them feel, it just makes them feel better. And again, they're doing it themselves. They have that control piece and um, no one is doing something to them. So those nine triggers, again vary. They can manifest themselves and present themselves in a very different way for each person. But what I would recommend to anyone is look back at the last couple of times where you realized that you probably ate some things that you didn't need to eat or that you ate for reasons other than hunger. And what were the things that proceeded that and what were the emotions that more than anything, the emotions that proceeded it.

Allan: 20:40 I found myself kind of having to have those triggers that, you know, back in the day, the first thing, boredom. When I was, you know, when I was working a hard job and I was traveling a lot, I get home and I'd run by the grocery store and I'd pick up a bunch of crap. And then Sunday morning, you know, I'm just sitting there watching infomercials and uh, those talk shows, political talk shows and just, you know, I'm just gonna lay here and use my thumb and finger and other thumb to just eat this bag of Tostito's, you know? And it was that he was, I considered it relaxing. I considered it lasting, but it was the, it was the comfort of the food. It was the comfort of my couch

Kristin: 21:23 and the reward of that hard of a hard week at work. And absolutely.

Allan: 21:27 And then another time that I kind of found myself, you know, going off the rails in different ways was whenever I had to deal with the CEO of our company, it was just a brutal, brutal person. We're wired very much the same way. So the two type A red guys, you know? And so whenever we were having a conversation, you know, he had to be right and I had to be right and you know, you, you get through with those situations and it'd be like, I just want a beer or five, you know? And that's what I found is that those were the nights where I basically just went over to a restaurant called Portico and had me some beer, you know, because I just felt like I needed to reward myself for not killing him that day.

Kristin: 22:10 Absolutely. Absolutely. And I as a teacher, I was a former middle school teacher and I can't even tell you how many times one of the teachers at my school, there would be like an SOS email sent out to everybody. Like who has chocolate in their room? I just got done talking to the most horrific parents and please does someone have some chocolate? And that was a perfect, and at the time we didn't even think twice about it. If you know, five people would be like, oh, I've got it. I've got candy in my room, come on over. And so we would take care of each other in that way, but not realizing that those reactions were so were such an emotional reaction and it wasn't that we needed, we didn't need the food. It was just, it was going to make us feel better that chocolate was going to take care of things and it was going to reward us for having to go through that horrible interaction.

Allan: 23:00 Yeah. Whereas I would've been so much better off to just go home, meditate for about 10 15 minutes, fix myself a sensible dinner, and then turn on Netflix and forget the day, you know, exercise. But you know, you have to dive deep like that. I think this is kind of the core concept of your book is you're not going to get there until you do this deep dive and you've got these great exercises that people can get a journal, sit down and just really start examining what's going on to kind of find those things that are, that are making this happen. Why, why you are the way you are, because you are the way you are. Which kind of leads me into the kind of the process that you take to kind of get through this because we're not gonna, we're not gonna cure ourselves. This is a lifetime emotional disease for a lack of a better word, but you use three words that I think are really concise and really kind of say, this is, this is the approach and it's except forgive and rewrite. Can you take just a few minutes to walk us through that process?

Kristin: 24:07 Sure. Thank you so much for asking. The process again, throughout the book, I take my clients through a very deliberate, slow moving process in a sense of this is not something that can be dealt with in an hour. It's not something that can be dealt with in a day. This has to be gradual because there are so many emotions that are associated with it, whether it be guilt, whether it be shame, embarrassment, that sort of thing. So my clients go through a process of not only examining where their triggers are, also what their limiting beliefs are about themselves and limiting beliefs about who they think they are and then who they know they are because so oftentimes, and in most cases we are told who we are by other people or people tell us, you know, what, what they see in us.

Kristin: 25:03 And in most cases that's not who we really are. And so we have these limiting beliefs and oftentimes the limiting belief can be, well, I'm just big boned or I'll never lose weight or I never keep weight off. I always gain it back. And when you constantly have those tapes playing in your head, that's what you're going to manifest. That's what's going to to continually come back to you. And it's not a surprise when we really think about it. Why the Diet industry is so popular and will continue to be so popular is because people lose weight, they change their lives, they make decisions, they, they do what they need to do. They lose the weight. And then for some reason, why do they go back to those habits? We'll, our minds are so incredibly powerful that if you have that negative tape playing, it's, it's going to come back.

Kristin: 25:55 It's going to continually play whether you want it to or not. And so what I really take clients through is that idea of I need to accept that this is what happened in my childhood or what happened in my life in whatever circumstance it is. I need to, I first need to accept and face that this is what happened. Because so oftentimes I don't think we even acknowledge that these things happen because we all want to have a great childhood. We all want to have a great life. And so sometimes you just think, well, if I ignore it, then it'll go away. That it really, it really didn't happen if I, if I ignore it. And so having to peel back those layers and have to look at, okay, so what were these things that happened that I need to look at and say, okay, yes, I acknowledge that did happen.

Kristin: 26:36 And that felt really, really bad. And I really didn't like it and it was because of sometimes it's because of a caregiver. Sometimes it's because of some person in your life and we always have to remember that every person is doing the best they can given their circumstances and given where they are. And I don't believe that at our core that anyone is a bad person. It's, we all are trying to get by based upon the information, the knowledge, the education and the upbringing and the modeling that we've been given to us. And so when people do things that aren't very nice, it's almost always a reaction because somebody has done that to them. That's been their learned behavior. And so we have to then forgive when people have done things to us, we need to forgive because we are not forgiving them. We're not condoning their behavior.

Kristin: 27:28 We're not saying it's okay and we're not even forgiving for them. We're forgiving for ourselves. Like when we forgive somebody, it's about us letting it go because for most people who have emotional eating issues and issues that have come up in their childhood related to food, they are holding onto that. And when you hold onto something and you keep it in your body like anything else, it has to be fed. And that's where that relentless need for food comes in. And often times people don't understand why, and I'm sure you've heard this before with your clients, you give them a meal plan and they say, Oh my God, I'm hungry all the time like I this is not enough food. I can't not. I'm always hungry. That's when as a trainer and as a person, people need to stop and go, okay, are you really hungry or is there something else going on?

Kristin: 28:16 So it's that we need to forgive to get that out of us. We have to almost purge ourselves of those of those emotions in those things that we've held onto. And so once we can accept it that it's happened and we forgive the person for, or the, or the circumstance or the institution or whatever it is that we forgive, then we can actually take whatever's happened and rewrite it. And I'm, I'm not saying go to la La land or you know, the Pollyanna, you know, like, Oh I, I had this great upbringing, but you have to look at circumstances and you, there is not a circumstance in anyone's life that they can't find something positive or something good that they got out of it. So when I look at the circumstances, when I was growing up and when I was sent to my room and I wasn't allowed to express emotions, I can look back on that and say, Oh Gosh, my dad did this to me and I don't know how to express emotions.

Kristin: 29:14 What I did learn was I learned that there was an appropriate time and there was appropriate place for me to express emotions. So I am not a person who goes into circumstances and just flies off the handle. I'm not one of those people who goes to a store and starts yelling at somebody because they're not going to give me my money back. I have learned that I need to control my emotions. There's a certain time and place for me to express my emotions and I will do that in a place that's appropriate where I don't hurt another person in the process. That's what I can find positive about what happened in my childhood that really wasn't very good. But I can look at it and I can say, you know what? I got some really, I got a really good quality out of that and I can turn that around and make it something that's gonna benefit me.

Kristin: 29:59 And every person has things that have happened to them that we've all, every opportunity, every circumstance is a learning opportunity. And if we don't take the opportunity and we don't take the time to find what the positive is, we are one, completely missing out on growing as human beings. But also we're keeping ourselves in a really negative place. And so it's really about learning to look at circumstances and say, okay, what, what thing can I positive thing can I glean from this circumstance that I can then make a benefit for me? And that's, that's what I do as I take my clients through and I have them recognize where those things that appear to be really negative. How can we find a positive? How can we make that something that is a good thing for you and you, and it totally will change how you look at those circumstances.

Allan: 30:49 Yeah. I'm like maybe the world's biggest introvert. Yeah. And I was, you know, I was raised in military brat. We moved all over the place. So I, you know, just people and then, you know, I made friends but not close friends, not until I was in high school. So I don't have any friends from before high school because that was when we settled down and I actually got to spend significant time with anybody and I only have a few really close friends and they know who they are. But that being an introvert also, you know, if I want to, I could look at it that way and say it's very negative. I don't like going into group situations. I don't typically like parties and events and things like that. If there's going to be a lot of people, particularly if the people are going to be close together.

Allan: 31:29 That's just something I get very uncomfortable with and that, you know, that emotionally affects me. But on the positive, if I want to rewrite that, what I do have is this capacity to be comfortable in my own skin and be alone. You know? I don't have to have people around me to make me feel comfortable. I can sit in a room by myself, read a book, write something, watch a show, go for a walk. I used to have whole days where I tried to avoid hearing a human voice, you know? And so I see that as a positive and that I don't have to have someone around me 24 seven to feel good. I do that for myself. So just kind of taking your approach there with the rewrite. That's, you know, that's my, my rewrite on, on that piece.

Kristin: 32:16 Absolutely. And as you were speaking, one, we sound incredibly alike. Um, because I'm the same way. I don't like, I don't, and for me, I recognize that social situations are a trigger for me. I am very uncomfortable. I don't like, because I've, I've had addiction issues in my family. I lost my brother to alcoholism. And so I don't like being, I don't like being around a lot of drinking. And so when I, you know, when there's social situations, I know going in, all right, this is going to be something that's going to be challenging for me. And oftentimes it can be a trigger for me to have an episode of emotional eating. And so I really have to be really, really aware of it. But as you said, what I have learned is because I was sent to my room and had to be alone So often I've learned to be able to be alone and to be very, very comfortable and very happy by myself and not that need, that constant need to have to have interaction or have to have people validate me all the time. I can be comfortable, you know, just doing my own thing. And in a lot of circles they call it Fomo, the fear of missing out. Oh, I do not have the fear of missing out. I'm fine, I'm fine being home. I don't mind. I don't mind that at all. But it really is, it's all, it's all in your perspective and it's all in how you choose to look at a given situation. I write about in the book about how, like in the late nineties there were all those talk shows where you know that, you know, Sally Jesse Raphael and, and Geraldo and they'd have people come on and they would talk about, you know, I was abused or something happened to me 25 years ago and they're still so angry.

Kristin: 33:50 And I think, oh my gosh, like you've lost 20 years, 25 years of your life being angry and holding all of that inside of you. And it's like we, as a society, I think sometimes that's why there's, there's so much unhappiness at times because people are just not, they're holding onto resentments and anger and things that have happened to them. And if they just would let them go and just move on, life could be so, so much better and so different for them. So it's really, it's a, it's a pretty powerful process and I really, and it can be applied to any area of anyone's life.

Allan: 34:25 Yes. Kristin, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest, and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

Kristin: 34:35 I am a firm believer that wellness 100% comes from the inside out and it comes from how we feel about ourselves that if we don't truly love ourselves and, and love who we are, that has to be the basis of anything we do. I mean we can, you can work out at the gym seven days a week, you can eat clean, you can do all these fabulous things, but if you have those negative tapes playing and your buying into the limiting beliefs that other people have put on you and you are not truly in love with yourself, all that stuff is just on the surface. It's all, it's all a shell and it's all protected. We have to get to truly being good with ourselves and loving ourselves. Totally. So I would say the three strategies that can make that, they can facilitate that to happen. You mentioned one of them. I am a strong believer in meditation and in prayer and in quiet time and really being comfortable with yourself and being still and just allowing your mind to slow down and, and turning off those negative tapes. So often that we, that we have playing in our heads. So meditation is one.

Kristin: 35:51 The second one is I am an absolute firm believer in a daily dose of affirmations and positive things that we say to ourselves about ourselves and reinforcing those beliefs and those qualities within ourselves. We cannot look to people on the outside to make us feel good, and we can't look to people that tell us how wonderful we are. We have to believe it and we have to tell it to ourselves. A great strategy for, for doing that is my cousin used to have index cards and she would write her affirmations and strategically placed them around her house. So sometimes you'd open up the refrigerator and there would be an affirmation hanging in the refrigerator, not about food, but just about her as a person and what she was striving for and what goals she was working towards.

Kristin: 36:37 And she'd have them in random spots around the house in places that she, she frequently, you know, there was frequent traffic for her and she was able to reinforce those beliefs that she has about herself. So I strongly believe in affirmations and then the last thing, the last strategy that a person can do is daily gratitude and being grateful for what we have because the more we're grateful for what we already have, the more that's going to come into our lives and the more we're going to, we're going to send out that energy of gratitude and love and the more of that good stuff and that love is going to come back to us. The better we feel about ourselves that just in turn then makes us want to go to the gym, makes us want to eat healthy. It makes us want to be kind to other people and help those around us and it just is that ripple effect that that just can I for me can't be on it. It just can't be diminished. It's just the center of of where we need to go as a society.

Allan: 37:30 Kristin, thank you so much for sharing that. I really enjoyed that. If someone wanted to learn more about you, about your book, When Food is your Drug or the coaching that you do, where would you like for me to send them?

Kristin: 37:41 Absolutely. They can go to my website, www.KristinJonescoaching.com. There's a couple of different ways you can spell Kristin Jones is pretty easy, but Kristin is k, r i, s, t, i, n. And there is a quiz there about emotional eating. It's a great place to start to kind of get an idea about whether or not emotional eating is something that maybe you're dealing with. Maybe you have thought maybe that could be something that's going on with you. So there's a quiz you can take. There's information about me and about what I offer. I love, love, love. Like I said, I was a teacher for 17 years. So at my heart I am an educator and I love just working with people and and really getting to those places where people can really look at the things that they are doing and how they can not, it's change, but it's that, It's getting back to who we really are. And I think sometimes we forget who we are because of all of the other things that go on. I have one-on-one private coaching. I also do some group coaching programs as well. And I also have aspects of my business. I do a nutritional guidance, I have workouts, I'm a fitness instructor as well. So whatever someone needs to create their best life and feel the best that they can feel about themselves every single day. That's what I want to do and that's what I want to bring to people's lives.

Allan: 39:15 Cool. Well you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/391and I'll be sure to have a link there to Kristin's website. Kristen, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

Kristin: 39:26 Absolutely. Thank you so much Allan. I think it's wonderful what you're doing and just, you know, again, thank you so much and thanks to the listeners and uh, if anything I've said has resonated, please don't hesitate to come to my website. I would love to love to spend some time with them. So thank you again.

Conquering our food issues is a huge first step in finding wellness. It isn't easy, but it is something you can do, especially if you have the support you need. Now is the time to take action. And I'm here to help. Go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/now and book a complimentary 15 minute consult. I'll share a three step process to ensure you know where you're going and the right way to get there. Do this before you forget. Go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/now.

Another episode you may enjoy

I am human

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Thank you!

Hello. This is going to be a solo episode and it's going to be slightly different than most of the other solo episodes that I've done. I want to start this one with a quote, I'm reading a book for an upcoming podcast episode. Really looking forward to talking to this guy and I know you're going to get a lot out of that conversation, but he has a lot of quotes in his book and this is one that just really resonated with me at this point in my life.

It is easier to provide wisdom to others than to ourselves.

~ Francoise de la Rochefoucauld.

Now the reason this one kind of hits me in the gut is, you know I've been doing the health and fitness thing for a while now that the podcast has been going on for over three and a half years. This is episode 390.

So I've had a lot of conversations about health and fitness. I've had a lot of solo talks with you about health and fitness and you know, I feel like I know my thing, but just to be bluntly honest, over the course of the last couple of months I haven't been doing things for myself the way that I preached to you that you should be doing for you. And so, you know, I effectively call this my slide and over the course of the last couple of months I've kinda been on this slide and there are a lot of things that I could put out there and say, this is why it happened. This is the cause, you know, when this goes away then things will get better. But I need to go ahead and address this. And in addressing and going through the mental processes of, okay, getting myself mentally ready to change this, to solve this problem.

I've come across some things that I think would be valuable to share with you. So I'm going to take this step back and kind of talk about what's been going on over the last few months to kind of set the stage for where I am right now. As you know, my wife and I decided to move down to Panama. We put the house on the market in December thinking it would sell fairly quickly. It was a hot market. Everybody is telling us our house was in a prime location. Everybody would want to see it so we didn't expect the house to stay on the market very long. And we planned our trip to travel down in February, but unfortunately the house did not sell before February. In fact, it's still on the market, which is this little concerning. But you know, it is what it is. We just have to deal with this.

But we decided to go ahead and go back to the United States to get it to get better organized because we were afraid if someone came in and wanted to close, we'd be running into a time crunch of getting movers in, getting cleaners in, getting everything organized. So we wanted to do a few things to get organized for a move. To make it a little bit easier for us when the time does come. And then we also wanted to get our dogs. We had two dogs, Joe joe is our Chihuahua and Angel is a German shepherd. We wanted to get them down here to Panama with us cause we miss them a lot. And so we traveled up there to do some work on the house to pack up some things, you know, dealing with the movers, getting all that organized.

So about 99% of the things that we had in the house had been moved out into a storage. And we are going to figure out what we want to keep and what we want to get rid of over the course of the next several months. Unfortunately our oldest dog, Joe joe the Chihuahua, had kidney failure and we had to put him down. So it was a very difficult few weeks at home. Then we did manage to get Angel down here. But I can tell you transporting a dog from one country to another, is extremely difficult. You have to follow a very meticulous process and if you mess it up, they could send the dog back. And so it's kind of expensive to make sure that you've lined everything up. We hired professionals to make sure that it all worked out and we got her here.

She's happy and settled in. So that's, you know, that's a good relief that that's happened. And then of course you probably know that I bought the gym and so I bought a local gym here and I've been putting a lot of sweat equity and time into, you know, getting the gym back up to a better standard. I've been buying equipment, getting the place painted and cleaned. So there's been a lot of work that's been being done that's kept me kind of busy, you know, keeping that up, keeping the podcast up. And then of course, serving my clients and, you know, just trying to be the resource that I need to be and do the things I'm supposed to do. Unfortunately, like I said, over the course of that time, I let myself fall back into old habits.

I let myself become less than who I thought I should be. And I'm very disappointed in myself.

I have a very high standard for who I am. And I'm not walking the talk, you know, I'm not doing what I'm telling you to do on a day to day, week to week basis, and that's very disappointing to me. I'm disappointed in myself. Now I can continue to sit and wallow in this self pity aspect. I can continue to be mad at myself and in the end that would not solve my problem. You know, my problem is I've kind of used, I'm doing these chores and moving equipment around, I'm doing this stuff as thats my exercise when it's not adequate. I've been avoiding, you know, worrying about what I'm eating for the sake of convenience of, you know, freeing up time if I'm not shopping for healthy food, which is not a big, big deal.

But I can tell you when I actually do a really good shopping trip here, it requires me to walk to about five different stores to get the things that I want to get good, you know, good healthy vegetables, to get good eggs, to get good meat. It requires me to check out several stores to get the best, freshest foods that I can get. So it's an effort. It's not just a, it's all ready for you to walk into one place and it's all there. And I haven't been doing that, haven't been really focused on that. And I've let that slide. And then from a joy perspective, I'm very happy with my situation here. I've got my wife here, I've got my puppy here. Very, very happy being in the jungle, looking at the monkeys and the birds and you know, living close enough to the beach that I can just walk straight down to the beach and enjoy that.

And then, you know, I love the fact that I have access to and I own a gym. It's something I had thought, you know, and dreamed kind of about early in my life many, many, many years ago. And so it's something that's kind of come to fruition at a perfect time in my life when I'm ready to be a gym owner and it fits with who I am as an individual. So the joint components are there, but I still kept hearing the old voice, the voice I wrote about in the book, the fat bastard. He keeps rearing its ugly head and with the negative self talk and all of that. So I knew I needed to nip this in the bud and I came up with a fairly simple set of steps to describe what I'm in the process of doing.

And I do believe these steps are very effective because they kind of intertwined and finger very well with the GPS process that I go over in the book and that I've talked about on the podcast several times. The first is forgive, then it's action plan, and then it's execute. So the best way I can put this together, and if you think about it in terms of let's say you missed your turn and you should have taken a left and you didn't take that left, and as a result, you continuing down the road and you're now on the wrong road and maybe you've been on that wrong road for a long time. You know, my slide now has only been a few months, but it dovetails with my feasting periods. So it, it actually was not the optimal time for me to have a slide.

So I'm doing this slide and I need to turn this around. What do I do? Well, the first thing I have to do is forgive myself. It does me absolutely no good to continue to talk down to myself, to reprimand myself, to feel bad about myself. For those inactions and actions that I did that were not in my best interest, not in the interest of me being well, not in the interest of me being the person that I see in my vision and not being true to my why. I could continue to beat myself up about that, but I have to I have to finish that. I have to be done with that if I'm ever gonna do anything about this. So the first step is to forgive yourself. And this can often be the hardest step because, you know, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be perfect.

And that's another reason why I wanted to call this episode, “I Am Human” is that we got to get past that perfectionism. If we want to see progress we really have to sit back and say, look, I'm just a human being. I'm going to make mistakes. There's going to be slides, there's going to be injuries. That's a part of the journey. And overcoming those quickly, getting myself back on track. That's really the best course of action for me right now, which leads us to the second step in this, which is an action plan.

So if we're driving in the wrong direction, it's pretty simple. Look for the next exit so you can turn around, or look for an opportunity to do a u-turn and find that opportunity and take it. So having an action plan, you know, what are the things that I can do to get myself back on track? And I know what they are. They've worked for me in the past. They'll continue to work for me. I need to get myself back into ketosis. I need to get my body moving. I need to start moving heavy weights. I need to do the things that worked for me that have always worked and in everything that's going on for me right now, everything that I still want, my vision and my why are still intact. I've evaluated those again and said, okay, they're still intact. I still want to go where I wanted to go. I don't want to go down this road. So I have to turn this around. And that's where the action plan comes in. Figuring out what you have to do to turn it around and get yourself back to moving in the direction that you want to move.

And then the final part of it is execute. You can write all the plans in the world. You can say, I want to start lifting heavy again, I want to get back in the gym and start doing that thing. But you gotta show up. You gotta go do it again. Now it might mean that you backtracked a little bit. It might mean that you've got to use a little bit less weight. It might mean when you go to do your cardio training you're a little bit slower or the distance you're doing now is a little bit less. That's fine. We'll get back onto that progression, the gentle nudging, all the things that we know work for us. It's time for us to do that. So it's forgive, action plan and execute. So if I missed my term once, I know that I've done that, it's time for me to forgive myself for doing it.

Find the opportunity to turn the car around and then start driving back in the direction I should have driven in the first place. So I hope you took something valuable, but before we go, I wanted to close with another quote that's in that book. Like I said, I think you're going to enjoy this episode that's coming up with Michele. But this one's a little bit longer, but I wanna I wanna go through this.

“Pay attention to your thoughts for they will become words. Pay attention to your words for they will become actions. Pay attention to your actions for they will become habits. Pay attention to your habits for they will become your character. Pay attention to your character for it will become your fate.”

Talmud

That quote means a lot to me today. Since I've forgiven myself, I've set an action plan and now it's time for me to execute.

And what I know is the thoughts that I'd been having are now going to be positive thoughts. They're going to be affirmative. I can get this done. You know, I may pull out my journal and start reviewing that again each morning. Setting my intentions for each day to make sure that my thoughts become my words, my words become my actions. And then you see where the rest of that goes.

If I begin regular actions that put me back on the proper path, then I will begin to develop the habits that will get me there. That will put me back into the frame of mind of being successful and being who I want to be. And that's going to define my character. And then obviously if I'm doing the things that I'm supposed to be doing more often than not, then I'm going to have a much better fate than if I stay on this slide and don't follow through with the process of forgiving, action plan, and execute. So if you're not feeling it, if you're upset with what's going on in your life right now, realize you can do something about it. Follow these steps and they will get you there.

If you didn't take anything else away from this lesson, but this one thing that the journey to wellness is actually not a destination. We don't ever really arrive there. Our lives are gonna be filled with twist and turns. It's going to be field with injuries and slips. And it's gonna happen to all of us and none of us are above being human.

If you're on this path and you're really struggling to one, either forgive yourself, two, to come up with a good plan or three execute. I do want to be a part of that solution and I want to help you. So if you would go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/human that'll take you to my calendar. We can book a free, It's completely complimentary, no obligation 15 minute call. And on the call we can talk about where you are in your health and fitness journey, what help you might need, what decisions you need to make, if you need to forgive yourself, the opportunity to do so, and how to go about doing that and then the plan and the execution. I want to be there and be a part of that solution. If you'll go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/human you can book your call today and we can get you on your path straight away. Thank you.

Another episode you may enjoy

July 8, 2019

Wave goodbye to type 2 diabetes with Dr Nicki Steinberger

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Thank you!

The current medical practice around type 2 diabetes is to use insulin and blood sugar lowering medicines. It isn't working. Dr Nicki Steinberger treats her patients holistically and in her book, Wave Goodbye to Type 2 Diabetes, she shares those methods with you.

Allan: 03:00 Dr. Nicki, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

Dr. Nicki: 03:03 Thank you so much Allan. A pleasure being here with you.

Allan: 03:06 I really enjoyed reading your book. It's called Wave Goodbye to Type 2 Diabetes. And one of the reasons that this book was so compelling to me is that up until a few years ago, it was pretty much unheard of for anyone to reverse type two diabetes. It was sort of a, Oh, you've got this disease and it's eventually going to rob you of your feet and your kidneys and your life. You're going to balloon up because we're putting you on insulin. And yes, you're just eventually going to die from this. And more and more people are using healthy lifestyle to reverse and basically cure themselves from type two diabetes.

Dr. Nicki: 03:45 Absolutely. And what you described is the number one myth about the condition that we've been brainwashed to accept and live in fear around. And it just does not have to be so

Allan: 04:01 And the worst of it. I know you had taught at the statistics in the book and I was just like, you know, because you'll see it everywhere. You walk around and it's like, okay, back in the 80s, when I was in high school, maybe you had, you know, one or two kids that you would call, you know, overweight. And the overweight, you know, they stuck out because there were just a few of them. And I want my good friends, Barry was on the, on the football team. Most of us, most of the bigger guys were on the football team and um, you know, he's already dead. He was a truck driver and he's already gone. And I don't know that it was type two diabetes that took him, but you know, it was really kind of rare to have someone who had diabetes or know someone had diabetes or was obese. And there's some general relations to how that's happening in the body. What's going on, why are so many of us getting sick with this disease?

Dr. Nicki: 04:51 Well, it's a testament to the level of the infiltration of processed foods. Number one, you know that is available that we're consuming, you know, by bucketfuls and you know, you can throw in there also technology. We're sitting more, we're on our computers and our devices, so if you pair together no processed foods, tens of thousands of more chemicals, you know, than we had in the 80s and a sedentary life style, then you know, we're going to create an environment that hosts a condition such as type two diabetes.

Allan: 05:38 Now one of the things that you had in the book, because you know right now when we talk about type two diabetes as you go, you know you're on a spectrum. You call it a continuum effectively and based on kind of my reading of it, the way you approach this is, okay, you're on one end, you're really, really sick. On the other end you have this concept call optimal health. There's a middle ground. Can you kind of talk about that continuum and how that applies to, you know, as you start looking at your health, kind of working your way towards the, the right end of it, I guess for lack of a better word, but the alt and the optimal health end of that spectrum.

Dr. Nicki: 06:13 Yeah. So chaos of symptoms is basically where we're sick. We don't feel good. We might have different diagnoses, we've got symptoms are energy levels plummeted when we start moving from that place. And just a side note that I find in my experience in research and working with folks, most of us start moving when we either hit bottom or we get super inspired from something. You know, we heard, I try to help people not have to hit bottom, but you know, we all have different bottoms. So that chaos, so symptom you could, you know, think of as, as a bottoming out.

But a lot of people are living in that state. And then as we move through the spectrum and we start to incorporate these holistic lifestyle practices, we start to feel better. Our symptoms subside, vanish. We can reverse diagnoses. And you know, like I say in the book, a lot of people will stop there and it's, it's a beautiful place. It's, it's perfectly fine to stop there and say, Hey, I feel pretty good. My diagnoses is reversed or it's in a place where I can live with it and sort of maintain from that place. There's another level, you know, that I call optimal health. And that is where body, mind, spirit, we're really taking our life, our health, our day to day, living to an exceptional level. And you know, that's really defined by each person. I could give, you know, examples of what I've found in working with folks. But it, it really is for you to define for yourself.

Allan: 08:02 Yeah. You know, a lot of clients will come to me. They want to lose 30 pounds or you know, the one on, you know, be able to start doing some things that they couldn't do before. Like I have one client and he just signed up for this, a kind of a rugged trail run. It says six mile things. So shout out to Rich on that one but, Yeah. You know, so they have a, a kind of a goal and then they get to that goal. Oh, and they're perfectly happy there. They're perfectly happy to say, okay, I reached my goal. Now I just want to maintain this. I don't necessarily want to be, you know, a super, you know, superstar trail runner. I don't want to go out all the way up to ultras. I don't want to. And, and I think that's just true. Cool. Uh, as long as you don't kind of regress. And I think a lot of people will go and do the exact opposite. They'll lose the 10 pounds they want to lose and then they go right back to eating the processed foods. So, you know, I liked the idea that you can kind of ratchet up and down this to find your spot, but just understanding that there is something beyond just that. Okay, 10 pounds you wanted to lose.

Dr. Nicki: 09:03 Absolutely. And the thing is, a lot of people don't know that what's available. You know, they don't know the level of wellness. And I'm not talking about, you know, running marathons per se or an intense level of fitness. I mean, that could be in there if that's your thing. And I'm really talking about a holistic body, mind, spirit being in joy, loving life, waking up, you know, happy to hit the day. Just a real full bodied way of living.

Allan: 09:33 Cause you know, the aches and pains aren't there, the symptoms aren't there. You're, you know, pulse rate doesn't just shoot up when you're trying to walk up some steps or your, you know, basically, you know, when you go into the doctor that you know, your blood pressure is going to come out the way you want it to. Your resting heart rates going to be what it wants. And when you look at your labs, are competent and comfortable because the doctor says, you know, you're, you're, you're in good range. You're a good place to be.

Dr. Nicki: 09:57 That's right. Absolutely.

Allan: 09:59 Now in the book you go through and, uh, before we freak, freak out, there are 16 of these holistic lifestyle practices and you know, as I was gonna say 16. Wow. But you're very clear in the book. It's like this isn't a, okay, you've got to do these 16 things and you've always got to do them. This is a get something in and, and make it, make it stick. If it works for you, keep it. If not, then don't, but you're, you're literally kind of just building on a foundation of, you know, get one or two of these done. Right. And then the others will kind of fall in place for you.

Dr. Nicki: 10:31 Absolutely. You know, success is cumulative, it builds over time and it's not, you know, written two and 10 you have to do all of these practices. An interesting thing, however I've found for myself and a lot of people is that after a while you go, wow, you know, I'm doing like 10 to 12 practices without a whole lot of effort, without like three extra hours a day. It's now integrated into my life. It's integrated into my daily. So some of these are five, 10 minutes a piece. So it's, it's very doable. However you do it.

Allan: 11:13 Yeah. And I like yours. Okay. One of them I'll talk about and we can kind of talk about how you've, I guess for lack of a better word, stack these, and I call it kind of like habit stacking, but in your style, but it's, you have a morning ritual and so that's, that's number eight on your, your practices to have this morning ritual in which you're doing the things like you said, mind body, spirit that are kind of helping you along the way and you're getting this done right after you wake up, which I think is brilliant because it puts you in such a good place for the day to know that you started off in the right direction. It's sort of like that general, there's a general, it says, you know, he's kind of giving recommendations to folks. He says make your bed first thing in the morning and if nothing else started your day out exactly the way you want it to. And I liked that and I liked your, your morning ritual where you kind of go through the ritual and talk about some of the other practices that now just fold into that. I guess for, I mean if I'm looking at it probably doesn't take you more than an hour of each morning, but you're able to get these things in.

Dr. Nicki: 12:16 Yeah. You know, an hour might sound like a lot to a lot of people who don't have an hour in the morning and we're all in such different places. I am fortunate to have that time and especially if I wake up earlier, I find that on the days that I don't do my morning practice, just, you know, not quite as as whole feeling as satisfied as those days where I do now, I don't beat myself up cause that's just how some days go. Sometime my practice as with most people it evolves, it changes. You don't have to keep the same one for 10 years. One of the first things I do is hydrate. So after waking up, you know, after breaking that fast of sleeping and we tend to get a little inflammatory at night, you know, while we're lying there and maybe heating up.

Dr. Nicki: 13:15 So I like to, you know, hydrate and flush my system of the toxins with a glass or two of room temperature filtered water. I'll add lemon or apple cider vinegar and you know, just that practice, I mean, it's maybe 10 minutes and it's so, so powerful on so many levels and the commitment to ourselves that we make. When we do a morning practice, I'll often meditate and that could be 10 minutes. It could be 20 minutes. You know, it varies. I'll read something inspirational. I'll often write a little bit in my journal and sometimes I don't. And um, you know, I gotta get out walking. I find that for me, although everything can't happen in the morning, um, it's very important. I need to move my body in the morning. If I don't, it may not happen. It's likely not to happen later in the afternoon when I'm either tired or it's hot out. I'm in Los Angeles right now and, uh, you know, we're, we're already in the 80s, which is very pleasant for me to move around. So I walk, I put on a podcast and that's how I find the joy in it. Um, you know, I listened to either writing or health or business and I, I walk hills and I walk stairs and that's for me what helps move the needle, you know, for my heart health and, um, my lungs, my mood and, you know, then I'll, I'll do a writing practice often whatever I'm working on. And of course I need to eat. And, uh, bathe, you know, and well we'll say when I start my walks, I do affirmations, absolutely critical practice and gratitude and, you know, just getting the mindset, um, right for the day, you know, and hooked into the direction that I want to be pointed because if we don't tame the mind and these old story loops, then we can be going off cliffs that we really don't want to be going down.

Allan: 15:35 Yeah. And if you, if you've been diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes, I bet this is not a large investment. Uh, it's, it's, uh, it's some time. Right? Okay. The way you've done this by stacking these lifestyle practices into, you know, kind of just how you do your morning, you've just put four of them all within your morning ritual, uh, where you, you know, you get the meditation, you got the stress relief, you've got the water and you've got the movement. And I, like I said, I just, I like the way you've structured that so that you're getting those and you're even using some of that time to do some of the things just make yourself want joyful, which I think is another important practice or an important thing, which you do. Go into the book and we'll, we'll talk about in a minute if someone's going to get started with this. Um, you know, I think the water one is probably the easiest to do.

Dr. Nicki: 16:31 I think so too. You know, and I like how you call it stacking. I haven't thought of it that way, but that's really cool. And that's why I said before you know it, you're doing five practices, you're doing 10 practices, you know, and they take practice. You know, if there's one word, one concept, one idea that I repeat most other than holistic, it is practice. It doesn't happen overnight. You know, it is daily and it's a commitment. And after a while it is fun and something to look forward to.

Allan: 17:08 Well, thank you for using that word commitment because I talk about that all the time. I'm looking at your health. This is it. This is what you've got. We don't take care of our wellness. Uh, it's, it's not going to take care of us. And so, you know, making that commitment and saying, okay, I'm going to do this now. Uh, we're talking about type two diabetes and so it shouldn't surprise anyone at all. You know, obviously you've already talked about the hydration in the, in the lemon water or that the apple cider vinegar, um, it shouldn't surprise them that, but there's another five of your lifestyle practices that relate specifically to food. Do you mind going through those and kind of telling us why each of those is important and how we can approach as we start to try to build these practices?

Dr. Nicki: 17:52 Sure. So practice number three is to decrease or eliminate fast converting carbs. These are the carbohydrates that turn to sugar very quickly and spike insulin, you know, put too much work on our pancreas, which releases the hormone insulin and can lead to metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of symptoms that leads to prediabetes and type two diabetes. So these fast converting carbohydrates are basically our grain flowers, you know, that comes in the form of bread and bagels and pretzels and cookies and crackers and you know, all of the the above. It doesn't matter if they're gluten free or not, has nothing to do with that. Uh, the distinction is a grain flour versus something like a nut flour from, you know, almond or coconut. Um, and then our typical desserts, you know, with sugar, uh, that sort of stuff. We just, if we're managing blood sugar and if we are looking at prevention, then we are going to decrease, you know, up to 90% of those sorts of carbohydrates.

Allan: 19:20 Yeah. And, and I've always told people just cause a lot of people ask me, there's like, okay, so what are those foods? And you've kind of given us a little bit of a list. But I said if you have a doubt about a food and you, if you've got type two diabetes, you probably check your blood sugar on a regular basis, check your blood sugar before you eat it, and then check your blood sugar about 30 minutes to 45 minutes after you eat it. And that's, that's when you're going to know, cause if your blood sugars shot up significantly, your body is surging on it and that's not a food that you, you probably want to consume a lot of.

Dr. Nicki: 19:51 Exactly. You know, and also to mention that these carbohydrates are addictive for a lot of people. So you get hung up in a cycle and that's no fun. Another practice is to eliminate rancid oxidized industrial seed oils that have just gone crazy in the big food industry. I'm talking about oils like canola oil, and corn oil, Soy oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, these oils are highly inflammatory and high in omega six fatty acids where we don't need anymore omega six, we need you omega threes. We're out of proportion. These oils are just in everything. So if you go to a restaurant, even a high end restaurant, you asked them what kind of oil they use. If they say olive oil, that means nothing. Okay. That means nothing. You have to go the next step. Oh is it extra virgin olive oil or is it a blend?

Because a lot of restaurants are using a blend of all olive oil and canola oil because it's cheaper and they're calling it all of oil. This is in grocery store, food bars across the nation, whole foods, tons of canola oil, really a crap food bar. So you really have to know your oils. You know, certain oils are healthy, you know, extra virgin olive oil. Not to cook it at a high heat, but you know, put it on a salad, veggies, coconut oil, avacado oil. But all these other rancid oils really have caused havoc to our systems. We are not meant to digest these.

Allan: 21:59 And I'd say, if you've bought some oil olive oil and you know, I used to do this all the time until I recognize what I was doing, you store it on the shelf right up above the stove and that's one of the warmest places in your house. And I was like, well I didn't know. You know, I just, I didn't know. And then I started looking at the labels and saying, okay is this made somewhere? You know, where is it? And you know, there's no indication of origin, uh, it can actually say olive oil on the package and not list the other oils, which just insane to me. You just, you have to know your, you know, you have to know what you're getting. And like you said, you liked, you kind of like doing a little bit of this detective work. So you, you scoped this out.

Dr. Nicki: 22:39 Yeah, I mean, I, you know, I always have to ask and you just can never assume. I go to the distance of asking to see the olive oil, you know, bottle or container. Oftentimes, you know, restaurants that they'll use, you know, big containers because they're doing volume. So you want to be patronizing places that are forthcoming and have no problem revealing what they're using.

Allan: 23:09 Yeah, I think that's really important. It's, it's hard, you know, it's hard to get the waiter and say, hey, you know, I'd like to know a little bit about the oils, uh, because that's not what they're trained. I've been a waiter before and I was like, we know the ingredients that are in most of the dishes because if someone says they have a nut allergy or something like that, we need to be aware of that. But as you, as you go out there and they start saying, yeah, what kind of oil? I was like, well, it comes in this big plastic tub. I don't know. then you got to get the, you've got to get, sometimes you got to call and say, go to the, you go to the kitchen and get the kitchen manager out here and let them, you know, go a little bit further with this conversation. But that's a hard conversation to start. But once you get with the fact that this is your health we're talking about and then the food that you're taking in is such a critical part of reversing this disease or this condition that you, you just, yeah, I don't really have a choice in this matter. You really do need to know what you're eating.

Dr. Nicki: 24:02 It's true. And you know, you say, you know, once you get comfortable and, or once you get sick and that's that bottom that I, you know, try to help people prevent. But once you get sick and you just can't go there anymore, you know, it's like, hey, I got to know what's in there, you know, and just say medical diet. I got to know what's in there. You know.

Allan: 24:27 You pull out your little insulin kit and you say, this is, this is my insulin fund eating bad food. Then you know, I need more of this and I don't want to do any more of this. So do you want me to be your customer and come here on a regular basis? Then tell me once, unless you change it, you know, we're going to keep going. But even you said it, that sometimes you've had products that you really believed in only to find later that they had kind of done a bait and switch on Ya.

Dr. Nicki: 24:53 That's right. And you know, I think you're referring to the supplements, but yeah, you have to constantly monitor. You have to be that inspector, that detective, you know, it has to mean that much to you.

Allan: 25:06 Yes.

Dr. Nicki: 25:06 So another practice when we're looking at food is, you know, we're eating these carbohydrates and you know, there's no, there's no one size fits all for any of this. So whatever types of carbohydrates you're going to eat is going to be different for everybody. But the idea that we can wrap or surround some of these carbohydrates with fat, fiber and or proteins to help slow down that sugar conversion in the blood. Now, uh, since I wrote the book, you know, I'm gonna lean more toward fiber with the carbs, then protein or fat, a fat being, you know, after fiber. So another words, you know, let's say you are having a potato, you know you're going to be better off with some good veggies with that potatoe, you know, steam Broccoli, go ahead and throw some, you know, pasture organic butter on there as far as protein, you know, we don't really want to do protein and starch. So it depends what kind of carbohydrates you're doing. Protein and starch is going to spike blood sugar even more for some people. So it's a little bit of fine tuning in this one, you know, if you're going to have an apple, maybe you put some almond butter with it, you know, and, and things like that.

Allan: 26:37 Yeah, and that's like I mentioned before, if you, if you really had a question about how foods affect in you and you've got the monitor, just do a little self test, you know, you try it and they see how it works, you try it and that's where you can get to that, like you said, that fine tuning of, you know, this is, this is working for more for me or it is not.

Dr. Nicki: 26:56 It's true. And you know, I test myself now nine, 10 years after the fact. More now than I did then because I want to know, you know, if I'm not exactly sure how a combination of foods…

Allan: 27:11 It's really as good to have that data. I mean, because at that point then you and uh, you know, if you go out to eat and you're not quite sure what you ate, you know, check your blood sugar and, uh, you know, you get a pretty good idea of at least what your body thinks you ate.

Dr. Nicki: 27:24 Yeah, absolutely. Another food practice is to increase raw foods. And I'm particularly talking about vegetables. Fruit is, you know, really fruit is sugar. So it really depends on where you're at on the spectrum and how you respond to fructose. Fruit sugar, and a general good rule of thumb is to limit your fruit to berries. Organic Berries are going to be lowest on the glycemic index. But you know, we really want the fiber and the living enzymes and the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes from these raw foods. So, you know, it's even if we're doing a Keto type, you know, based food plan where we're doing high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrates, very important to get your veggies in. It's always going to be number one in every good food plan or program, you know, as much as you can. And you don't really have to worry about the carbohydrates if they're not starchy veggies.

Allan: 28:39 Yeah, it's, it's interestingly a, the Keto, I guess community how's so to speak, I guess if we can be considered a community, bbut folks that are in Keto, it just seems like right now there's, there's sort of two movements going on. Uh, there's one that's moving towards more of a plant based Keto. so making sure you get those, those in, and I tend to be a little bit more leaning to that side of if your body doesn't have the, that's, you know, the high blood sugar changes for these, which you can measure, have some berries and actually was, you get your Palette changed over time, you'll actually find those berries, sweeter and sweeter because you can start actually tasting the sweetness on them. And then there's this other camp that's going over here to this, this full carnivore model and say, no, we don't, we don't need plants.

We can get all we need from animal products. And they're like, so if you're eating this and you're eating, you know, eating the organs, andeating all that, I'm like, okay, well, okay, great, great. Are you? You know, are you eating organs regularly? And then what you find when you start talking to a lot of these folks, it's like, no, I'm just, I'm eating Ribeye steaks. Or there's the one group that's did the 30 day bacon experiment that just eat bacon. And, um, I'm like, I really, I can't wrap my mind around that and I'm not ready to have that conversation with you if you think that you don't need new micronutrients. Uh, that's, that's just false. And so if you're going to go on a strict elimination diet, you know, track yourself because, uh, it's not going to agree with everybody.

Dr. Nicki: 30:06 Yeah, exactly. And I don't know about the long-term effects of, you know, like the carnivore diet. I know people are getting some good immediate results, but you know, again, we do need those micro nutrients. We do absolutely need the fiber. And you know, we hear something, I just did a social media post about this. You know, we hear something, whether it's on a podcast or in social media or on a blog that is working for someone and they're loving it and they're getting great results. And this idea, this flash goes off in our mind, oh, I'm going to do that. That sounds great. That's not really the proper approach. You have to experiment to see what works for you. And you know, not just take that at face value because we're all unique and different and we have to find what works for us. Listen to our intuition, our body's cues. You only need to change things up and be willing to be doing something different than the person next to you. Bless that person that are doing what works for them and you do what works for you.

Allan: 31:20 Yeah, absolutely.

Dr. Nicki: 31:21 And I'd say, you know, another food practice is to release the processed foods. You know, just like the industrial seed oils, we are not meant to be consuming tons of sugar and candy and all these things in packages and boxes and cans, food like products. They're not real food. Our system cannot handle them over time. It's, it's hard to grasp it when you're young, when you're in your twenties even sometimes your thirties because you're not having symptoms. It's an esoteric idea, you know, and it's a shame because for many of us it does hit us. You know, when we're in our thirties, forties, fifties and we don't feel good. And you know, what's available in life is feeling extremely well. And being extremely creative and as we're loading ourselves up with these food like products, no fault of our own because we're bombarded with advertising and marketing and a fast paced, stressed out culture. But there comes a time where we have to notice and turn things around for the better.

Allan: 32:48 Yeah. As we were going through these, I, you know, I realized like I did the show plan and I sent these over and I kind of scanning down the list here real quick just as we're going along and I'm like, oh, I left two food ones out. You also talk about chewing your food really slowly until its liquid anyway and supplements. And so, I won't go into too much detail there, but just realize that half of the 16 practices are around food and managing your food and experimenting with your food and enjoying your food. And uh, you know, I think this is really, really important for us to understand and to apply that information and say, hey, you know, when you get this book, because please, if you have type two diabetes, please do quote and get this book. You're going to learn a lot about what's affecting you and why it's affecting you and these practices that you can slowly incorporate into these, these lifestyles.

And there has been a little bit of talk on the internet what is, what is disease and what his health and his health, just the lack of disease. And I don't think I'm going out too far on a limb, Dr. Nicki, when I say that, no, there, there's more to it than just not being sick. Um, and you get into the book about talking about joy and I do believe that that's Kinda one of those, those next step things. If you're going to go from basically you've, you've reduced or eliminated your symptoms to getting to that point of optimal health, this, this big joy piece is going to be a big part of that.

Dr. Nicki: 34:14 Absolutely. And that's why I felt it was critical to put it in the subtitle. You know, at the end of the day when we say, okay, I want to lose the weight, I want to get the job, have the money and the relationship. I want to reverse this condition or this disease. And if we keep asking why, you know, what's under it, you know, why, then what, then what and then what you know, and it comes down to a few basic things, generally speaking and joy is certainly one of them. You know, we, we want to feel joy in our lives and so many people are walking around moment to moment, pretty miserable and it doesn't have to be that way, you know. I mean, you know, aside from, I'm not going to comment on certain oppressions that make it much more difficult for some people. But mindset is very powerful no matter what.

And you know, I talk about joy and the present moment. And the truth is that five minutes ago is now past, an hour from now is not here yet. The reason why really getting intimate with the present moment is so critical is because everlasting joy or sustainable joy is always available in the present moment. It's not fleeting. Now a moment, you know, five seconds ago that's gone now, that fleeted but this moment right here, right now, so you know, we can go outside and maybe we can hear birds or your roosters. Um, you know, and it's the easiest way to access joy without needing anything except the right mindset. This doesn't come from an intellectual idea that you'll write this down when you hear this is practice. You have to practice it. And that's why when I go out for my walk, it's part of my affirmations. I'm affirming it. You know, I'm, I'm blueprinting it in, on changing those old tapes, uh, because that's just what the mind does. So, yeah, you know, present moment, leave the past in the past, future little bit, not too much. And you know thats why meditation is so powerful as well and helps us be in the present moment.

Allan: 36:51 Yeah. You know, like I said when we first started talking about these, these practices, um, because again, they are practices, they are something you're going to have to work on to really incorporate them to a point where they actually do become a part of you become a part of your, your expectations is part of your lifestyle. Um, I think for some folks it can be a little intimidating again because there's just so much there. You know, and it's not that, its like you said, you don't have to do all of them. But you know, I'm the kind of person that says, what's the easiest one? That's how I'm wired. What's the fastest one so, you know, like the lemon water. I can, I can definitely do that, but how does someone go ahead and get started about, you know, which ones are these really resonate with them the most and where to start?

Dr. Nicki: 37:33 Yeah, I think, you know, you can start and I think it's smart to start with one or two that seem easiest. You know, like, you know, hydration in the morning because we want success. Right? We want to be able to check that off and celebrate, you know, acknowledge ourselves. I did that. The smallest successes are important to acknowledge and we also want to notice that there are particular practices you know, that I think about are calling out for more, you know, so let's say it's easy for you. You're already eating a big salad every day, you know, no problem. But when it comes to putting on your walking shoes, whatever kind of clothes you need to wear and getting outside and taking a brisk walk or a hilly walk of course, depending on where you, where you're at in the spectrum, your fitness, if that's something that's just knawing at you, it's calling out for more, but you keep putting it off, that's also a good practice to jump right into at the level that you are.

Allan: 38:48 Okay. Well you just hit me in the gut because I was going to say that I think meditation might be the hardest one. So here's my confession. That's the one I would say I, I struggle with the most. Uh, I have done it consistently in the past, but it seems to be the easiest. Um, sometimes the easiest 10 minutes to give up. And I said, you know, I felt like, okay. And I justified it a little bit saying, okay, well I, when I walk, you know, I'm just walking by myself and you know, now being here in Panama, the beaches and the jungle and you know, those types of things that I kind of almost think of that as my meditation. Uh, but I do agree with you. I think that that one is one that I probably need to go ahead and step up a bit.

Dr. Nicki: 39:34 Yeah. And you know, there's walking meditation too. You don't have to sit, it doesn't have to be a traditional, but it needs to be intentional and you know, that sounds like a great one for you to jump into. I bet it will become easy after you get over that kind of mind bump that it's difficult.

Allan: 39:54 Yeah. But I do a lot like you do when I do my walking, I've got my headphones on and I'm listening to, lately it's been audio books and I've been leaning towards fiction a lot more lately than, than learning. Uh, and I need to know, I need to get back into some of those other books, but, uh, it's just been really cool to sit there and put on a fiction book and kind of just, you know, get out in nature and walk around. But, so what I'm hearing you say is I need to take those headphones off for at least 10 minutes and be a little bit more intentional and aware in my space, uh, for that. So that is something I'm going to start working on.

Dr. Nicki: 40:29 Oh, absolutely. A little note on that. You know, I got my head phones and I'm out the door and before I allow myself two start a new podcast or continue the one that I was listening to, I do my affirmations. It just, sometimes you just got to get it in, you know, you got to get the practice in and do them robustly. You know, usually there's no one around. You don't have to yell, but really express, you know, um, I'd like the listeners to know, really express yourself. One of the affirmations I say every day is from a book I read many, many years ago called Coming Home by Martia Nelson, and I say to the depth of my being more than anything else today, I choose to experience the love that I am. And sometimes I say it three times. It just, you know, it's amazing how affirmations, gratitude, steering ourselves in the direction we want to go, starts to influence our life. You know, uh, our lives in many different ways. And again, it's a practice and you want that emotional component. You don't want to just say it, like a line, you know, take a deep breath and feel it in the body. And a simple, such a simple yet very powerful practice.

Allan: 42:08 Well, I completely agree. And all of these actually, when you break it down none of these are earth shattering. Shatteringly hard as some of them, a little harder than others. And, um, that, you know, all of these are worthwhile and worth getting into. Um, so Dr Nckki, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest, and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

Dr. Nicki: 42:34 Okay. Number one is mindset. Number one is always mindset. And a concept that I need people to understand is that we crave what we feed ourselves. We crave what we feed ourselves, not the other way around. It only becomes the other way around when we're in the cycle. So once we can push through this place of, you know, letting go of these cravings for let's say sugar, we will start to crave what we're feeding ourselves. And this is important to know because it puts us in the driver's seat, co-participating in the wellness of our life. We're not just, you know, a victim to, uh, you know, I couldn't say no to that. I couldn't resist it. And it's this really difficult place to be. So understand we crave what we feed ourselves. The feeding comes first. And once we break through that cycle, it becomes a lot easier, um, to really enjoy food and, uh, high nutrient dense nutrition.

Number two, you gotta work your affirmations like we're just talking about. It's a daily practice. It's so simple. It's so powerful. It can be five minutes. Without this we're likely to be stuck in our old stories ,our old loops riddled with fear, riddled with doubt and self sabotage. So we need to be co-participating in the health of our mind, right? Because we're holistic body, mind, spirit.

And number three, I would say you need a program. When I say program, I'm not talking about something expensive. I don't even mean somebody else's program. I'm not talking about you have to go to the gym. I'm talking about you need a program. Uh, similar to like a morning practice is part of a program. It's a place where you're committing yourself. It's a place where you know you're going to go. You do not have to be perfect. We're not expecting perfection that silly. But whether you create your program or you reach out and you get support, um, you're a co participant in your program, we can't just be floundering around with the level of toxicity and inflammation, you know, available to us today. If we want to be, well, if we want to step out of the chaos of symptoms, if we want to reverse conditions and diseases and if we want to move toward optimal health and really the kind of potential that's available to us. We need a system, a routine, you know, sacred ritual, however you want to call it.

Allan: 45:54 Cool. I like those. Thank you. So Dr. Nicki, if someone wanted to get in touch with you, learn more about the book Wave Goodbye to Type Two Diabetes or all the other stuff that you're up to. Uh, where would you like for me to send them?

Dr. Nicki: 46:07 Okay, so the book is available on Amazon and you know, Wave Goodbye to Type Two Diabetes. It's available paperback and Ebook audio book coming soon. And then for your listeners, if you want to connect with me, learn more about my teachings, work with me. If you want to hear about podcast episodes and videos, blog posts, and my next book, which I'm starting to work on, the best way to do that is to get on my email list. That's where I share the inside stuff. And easiest way to do that is to go grab my checklist that I created. Um, it's called Blast Type 2 Diabetes with 12 simple lifestyle practices. You can also use it for prevention and some of these practices are out of the box so they might surprise you. And uh, you can get that at drnickisteinberger.com/blast.

New Speaker: 47:14 Okay, well you can also go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/389 and I'll be sure to have the links there. So Dr. Nicki, thank you so much for being a part of 40 plus fitness.

Dr. Nicki: 47:38 Thank you so much. It was wonderful speaking with you, Allan

Allan: 47:46 Still there? The fact that you are still there tells me that you've already made the decision that you want to get healthy and fit and I commend you for that. That is the biggest, hardest first step is deciding that you want to change, but you have to have a plan. Do you have a plan? Now I came up with a process called the wellness gps. It's a three step process that helps you put together that plan. I'd like to walk you through this on a free complimentary, no obligation, 15 minute consult. Go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/call and on that it'll take you directly to my scheduling link. You can book a time that's convenient for you. We get on a conference call together and we talk through what your goals are, what your aspirations are, what you want out of your health and fitness journey, and I help you put together a plan that will get you there. Go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/call and reclaim your health today.

Another episode you may enjoy

July 1, 2019

The time saver’s workout with John Little

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Thank you!

Let John Little help you make the most of the time you spend doing resistance training. On this episode, John and I talk about his book, The Time Saver's Workout.

Allan: 02:45 John, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

John: 02:48 Thank you Allan. Pleasure to be here.

Allan: 02:50 I'm really excited to have you here. Uh, you know, I had Dr. McGuff on to talk about some of his books, including Body By Science. When I was first doing my first interviews. I was usually kind of a little star struck when I met him the first time. And I'll have to admit just, you know, reading your books, I'm a little star struck talking to you too.

John: 03:08 Well no need for that, Doug. I can understand. Yeah, I consider Doug one of the brightest minds in exercise science.

Allan: 03:15 And I think you are too. That's you know, it's just, based on the research that you've done. I mean, I, you know, you've, this is a very well researched book. We're talking about The Time Savers Workout, which I think is actually pretty cool because most of us, if you ask people why they're not working out, they'll say most of the time they'll say, I don't have time. So giving us the workout that is, I guess biohackers like to call the minimum viable dose is really, really cool.

John: 03:43 Oh, well thanks. Well, I mean it in, from my vantage point, I just think the most valuable commodity in our lives is time. Once spent, it's irretrievable, you can't get it back and nobody on their death bed is going to say, Geez, I wish I'd spend more time in the gym because life offers way more than, you know, what a gym does is that the purpose of a workout really is to be an adjunct to your life, not the reason for it. And so, you know, doing any more than is minimally required, seems to me time that could be better spent.

Allan: 04:17 Yeah. I know when I was, I was in my twenties and you know, in college I Kinda had this time like, so I'd, I'd finished my final class, you know, around 1/1 30 and then I would go to the gym and I'd get my workout done and then I would just sort of hang out. And typically it was the owner would say, Hey Allan, you know you're going to be here for another hour I know, I'm going to get my lunch. You know, just if you're okay to hang around, that'd be cool. And I'd hang around eventually just started, give me the gym membership for free cause I would do that stuff for him. But I loved being in the gym. You know it was fun. I had a lot of friends there and it was really cool. But like you said, now I'm kind of a little bit more time restraint sometimes. And I go into the gym and it's funny because you'll walk into the gym and the folks who are working out typically just doing, you know, the, the arms, you know like I'll see someone workout and I'll go in and do a full body workout and leave. And they're still, they're still working those little bycepts.

John: 05:14 Yeah. Oh for sure. For sure. Well I think back when you and I, because we are approximately the same age had started training. It was like a cause celeb that we were behind. We wanted it to be bigger and stronger individuals, you know, in the worship of muscle was the church. And uh, anyone who was in gym was a compadre, you know, we were, we were all part of the same belief and put a value on looking like professional bodybuilders that uh, you know, and looking back was probably uh, misplaced, but that at the time it fueled our young imaginations. That's what we wanted to do. And every hour we could spend in a gym or among people that shared our belief was we might learn something or it might advance us a little closer toward our goal. And I think eventually over time and after banging your head against a brick wall in terms of and arrested development, that is not progressing despite the efforts, many of us began looking for another way.

We didn't want to give up the cause entirely, but eventually we kind of recognize that, well, maybe what we were told wasn't completely true and well that maybe, you know, you know, our diligence and the money that we throw out the window every month on supplements and protein powders in order to achieve this look, that was never going to come. Maybe we'd been duped. And consequently, I think a lot of people who were of our antiquity probably just wash their hands of the enterprise at a certain point in their lives and either, you know, in despair stopped doing anything like that or, or went into some other form of activity that was at least enjoyable and didn't promise unrealistic rewards for their time. And so certainly in my case, I was lucky too recognize that there was an alternative out there. And that was mainly through the influence of people like Mike Metzler and people that said as much, you know, that, you know, number one, you're never going to look like, you know, a champion bodybuilder. It's not the genes, but number two, there's still a lot to be gained from this enterprise. And so my interest, especially as I got older, shifted more onto the benefits that proper resistance training could impart to a person as opposed to the cosmetic component.

Allan: 07:30 Yeah. You know, I've talked to a lot of people in a, in a, and I've even in my book I kind of said, you know, when I talked to you about fitness, when I say fitness, you know, I'm not, I'm no longer talking about the kind of fitness that you want to be a professional hockey player or you that you want to be Arnold Schwarzenegger or that that's what you've kind of, you fitness to me, fitness now, once we get over 40 should be more about living the life that you want to live. And I think anyways, resistance training is an absolute imperative for us to do that.

John: 08:04 Yeah. To be able to do the things that you enjoy doing. The things that give your life, meaning. You have to be strong enough to, you know, to be able to do them. And the natural process of, of aging is entropy. You know, we're going to lose fibers, not lose them, but downsize them to the point where we can lose the ability to use them. And that suddenly restricts the circle in which we can move in terms of things we can do. So anything we can do to keep that balloon in the air in terms of full fiber health and function for as long as possible is a step in the right direction because it's coming down. You know, it's just, that's the natural, you know, entropy of human existence. You know, when you're born you're kind of, it's kind of like a bullet that shot in the air and it reaches the peak height at about age 25, but then it starts to return to earth and, um, you know, up until 25, you know, you've got bigger and stronger just as part of the natural growth process.

And so you would have gotten bigger and stronger by taking garbage out every week. Didn't really matter what you did. But, um, once you pass a certain age, typically once we exit our twenties, our body becomes like a very stingy board of directors and they want to know why they're investing this energy into keeping these muscle fibers preserved and hanging around that you simply never use. I mean the fight or flight fibers, the fast twitch fibers, the ones coincidentally that happened to have the greatest potential for the size increase that infect that affect our health the most dramatically are the first to go typically because cost the body the most energy to keep them on the payroll. So if you autopsy a 90 year old, you're going to find slow twitch fibers that are very well preserved, but the intermediate fast twitch are going to be decomposed at an alarming rate unless you do something to convince your body to keep them.

Allan: 09:54 Yeah, I know I was, I was reading a study and they had done um, some biopsies of older runners, you know, runners that had run their whole lives. They compared those two active runners in their twenties and thirties and found that from a, you know, from the, like you said, the, the fast twitch muscles, I got that right. Slow twitch muscles. I guess they retain those and they literally their look. So from a, from a muscular perspective, they had stayed very similar and the same can actually be said for people that do resistance training. Right?

John: 10:28 Right. Yeah. I mean that if you do a type of resistance training that calls upon fast twitch fibers and intermediate twitch fibers, you will preserve them. They're still going to be a loss. There's just, you can't buck up against nature, you know, and definitely, but, you know, whatever it can be done to preserve them, we'll preserve them and the thing that can be done to preserve them as to use them to give your body a reason to keep them on the payroll and uh, you know, otherwise, the natural course of things is simply to downsize them. Um, so when you do a type of resistance training, the cool thing about resistance training is that it hits all three classes of fibers, generally speaking, it gets slow twitch, intermediate twitch and fast twitch. And so your body is given a very strong prompt to hold onto those despite the aging process. And I think that's very important, not only for our functional ability but also for our metabolic health because each of those fibers contain metabolic pathways that he rode with the muscle. If you don't do something to preserve them.

Allan: 11:24 Now, one of the things that I think a lot of people struggle with is that they go in the gym and there they get a program. And here's a program where they see all the images, you know, the before and after, before and after. Uh, and some of those that are before and after, they're, they're in their forties and 50s, and you see them, they kind of put on a good amount of muscle, but someone else will do the same program and not quite get the same results. And you kind of talk about in the book about how we kind of each have our own individual response to how things work.

John: 11:57 Right? Absolutely. And there was a study that I quoted by a physiologist named Van Etten. And what was interesting about this is they had two groups. One that was mesomorphic are quite muscular and the other thinner ectomorphic and they put them on an identical exercise program for a period of 12 weeks. And then they monitored the results. And at the end of the study it was discovered that the mesomorphic or the group that was muscular before the workout experienced significant gains in muscle mass while the ectomorphic group experience no significant improvement at all. You know, so the takeaway from that is those who are inordinately muscular to begin with who have that genetic gift will gain size and strength from the bodybuilding efforts to a much greater extent. Then those who are not, you know, who don't share that morphology.

And of course the bodybuilding industry ignores this, But it also looks, when we think back on our early training careers, and you mentioned Arnold, I mean he was the guy, right? So we went into the gym and we bought Arnold's book, the education of a body builder. And we followed his program as best we could. We never got Arnold like results. But if you look at a picture of Arnold when he was 18 or 17, I mean we would have been happy to look like that, you know, when he started. But um, you know, it just isn't in the genetic cards. So to ape, you know, a popular bodybuilders program, the very fact that you're looking to look different than you do with strongly suggest that you don't have the genes to look the way that you want.

Otherwise even a little bit of training would suggest that potential. So, you know, anytime you see a bodybuilding magazine, and I used to write for bodybuilding magazines, the articles in there really have zero application to you, zero. So, and it's like trying to copy an Olympic athletes training program. You know, good luck with that. I remember Mike Mansour, who was perhaps the most honest bodybuilder I ever encountered in my career saying, you know, someone had asked him that, Sarah had mentioned that Roy Callender, who was another famous bodybuilder who is known for his density of muscles, that he did something like a hundred sets for his chest. And Mike said, well you try doing a hundred sets for your chest and see what happens. He said, you'll end up looking like a jockey. He said, because most of these bodybuilders would look like jockeys were not for the amount of steroids and take, and that was never discussed in the magazines really back in the day.

But genetics are the big ones. They are what will determine how much muscle, if that's your interest you can put on and it determines everything else from your height to your hair color. I mean it is the, you know, the Great Oz. It's the one that makes the, you know, the declaration as to how far you can go. And for most of us, we're going to bump up against our genetic potential in terms of muscle size, which is a more discernible, easily discernible indices of potential, usually within a year, at the most two years of training. And it's interesting being older now, my sons have friends who were at the age I was when I got into bodybuilding or in the strength training and the friends are into it and you can see it, you know, a real difference in their physique over the course of one year, maybe even a year and a half.

And then boom, that's the end of the road. And they're frustrated because, you know, their first year of training, they were experiencing this transformational benefit cosmetically of doing these workouts. Muscles were big, muscles became bigger and as a result, they're metabolic rates. Increased body fats tended to come off the body a little easier and they want to keep it going. And I recognize that as, you know, an attitude that was president of myself at that age, but it doesn't, and then they started looking for other things that can help them. You know, maybe they need more protein, maybe they, they need to change their program to one more closely resembling that of a, a bigger type of bodybuilder, but they're not going to get any bigger. And you've been around long enough to know that you've probably observed the same phenomenon. It just, there is a genetic cap that's put on these things. We don't know what it is ahead of time, but we do know that the, the best gains most of us ever had were first year of training, you know, serious strategy.

Allan: 15:58 Or after that coming back, I mean if you, if you trained as a, you know, when you were in your 20s or 30s and you, maybe you got untrained because you just, you know, life got in the way. Like with me, when I came back in the gym, it was like, okay, boom. You know, things looked really, really good. And then like you said, it Kinda plateaued. So you'd go to the trainer and said, okay, you know what, let's mix this up. Let's try something different. But yeah, general sense. You could refine it a little bit, but you just really couldn't go beyond that, that line.

John: 16:28 Well, you can't transcend. Yeah. You can't transcend it. So the thing is you, you go to training for a while, your muscles be conditioned, they atrophy, you get back into training, they come back again and you notice the difference. But you know, as far as some of these older guys that appear in the magazines, I mean, it's clear that there's some chemical enhancement going on there. Uh, you know, no, 65 year old has 2% body fat and a 17 in chart, you know, and suddenly built at age 60, you know? Yeah. I mean, it just doesn't happen unless you're, and the thing is steroids are an interesting thing. It's not that dissimilar for, or from what they know, you know, euphemistically called testosterone replacement therapy. You're still getting synthetic exogenous hormones put in your body. You know, you're not producing. And the problem is that nobody knows what the long term ramifications of this is.

I mean, most of the bodybuilders that I grew up being fans of in the 70s are either dead or have had serious coronary problems. And because there's never been studies done on steroids long term because they were originally not intended to be used for cosmetic purposes cause they were used to treat burn victims, you know, to facilitate the production of tissues. But then we found out, you know, about this great muscle building component and that became the priority. But there was never longterm studies done to know what the problems are. I mean step and think after, you know, several hundred thousand years of evolution, maybe there's a reason that's 70 year old guys aren't producing the same level of testosterone they did it 17 you know, and when we know that if someone gets certain types of cancers, the first thing doctors will do is, is try and cut out any testosterone in the body at all because that causes the cancers to spread, to metastasize.

So there's tumors that can be awakened in your body, let's say from certain endocrine responses that may not be, you know, a good thing to awaken. We don't know. We're kind of, we're playing with nature a little bit with that. But like I say, there's, there's probably a reason after all these years of evolution, that our bodies tend to reduce testosterone production. So when I see a guy in a magazine who claims to be whatever, 70 years old and he's got he's got a physique that more closely resembles that of a steroids taking 20 year old, that doesn't impress me, that tells me, hey, I have a very insecure seven year old who, who thinks you know that life is all about from the neck down. You know, you don't see pictures of these guys writing novels. You don't see pictures of them painting great paintings or, or composing music.

They just sit there and in a speedo and say, look at me. And that's the extent of their, you know, their enthusiasm for life. I knew a guy in California, he used to hang on to Joe Leader's office quite a bit and uh, he always claimed to be older than he was. And because he thought he looked more impressive physically. If he told people he was 75 or whatever, he was maybe late sixties but heavy steroid user and would be open about it and say how great he looked. And uh, and then, you know, it wasn't enough that he was married. He had to try and impress younger women. And I mean, nothing the guy said appealed to me at all. I didn't find them cool. I didn't find them. Uh, oh Geez, I want to be like this guy. I mean, to me, you know, the fake 10, the capped teeth, the perfectly quaffed hair and fake muscles, basically. It's Arthur Jones old line about a little boy in a gorilla suit. And this was an old man in a gorilla suit and the gorilla suit wasn't that big to begin with.

Allan: 20:02 Yeah, I think the key of it is, and you know, and that's what I really like about the listeners of this I have on the show, is they're not looking for necessarily the vanity look, they're not going for that approach. This truly is about wellness and what can we do and how can we use resistance training to enhance our wellness? And one of the concepts that you had in the book that I think is really, really important for us to understand is this conservation of energy and how that impacts how our muscles grow or how we lose weight. Can you kind of talk through a little bit of this cconservation of energy and our bodies kind of do that?

John: 20:42 Yeah. Well, it's a funny phenomenon. I've labeled it the conservation of energy phenomenon or CEP just so I can have a moniker for it, but it's just the natural course of action of the body to conserve energy every step of the way. Energy is one of the most vital resources that we have apart from air and water for without it, we die. So very early on in our species history, our bodies discerned to means by which it would learn to control the amount of energy that it was outputting from the body for any tasks that we have to undertake. Since all of the tasks were muscular in nature, therefore impacted the muscular system. So you can, for example, the most common example I use is the first time you ever drove a standard automobile standard trans mission. It was exhausting. You know, every muscle group was fully engaged and as well as your consciousness, as you check the mirrors and your work to clutch and the shift and the brake and the gas, that by the time you finished your first session learning how to drive a standard automobile, you were exhausted.

But then fast forward, you know, about a month or two and you find yourself zip and down the highway changing gears while you're changing the radio. It's effortless. And it's, it's not that the, you know, the first time you did it, that was a real workout, but it felt like it. But later what happened was your body recognized that it over mobilized its forces. It used way more muscle fibers and thus way more energy than a required in order to to accomplish this task that you've set before that of changing gears and working the clutch. So over time it learned to pull back and just use the precise amount of fibers at the precise time that they were required rather than all together at once. And consequently, your heart and lungs and your metabolic system where no longer servicing 100% of the tissue they use, they were two months previously when you first started, maybe it was on the order now of 15% so it's not nearly as demanding.

But then I could see that application to every physical activity we did. For example, runners who let's say in the northeast when the snow comes, they have to run indoors on a treadmill cause they don't wanna run on the ice. So they, you know, tick along on their treadmills and they believe their cardiovascular systems in pretty good shape. And then the snow goes away in the spring and they say, okay, time to run on the road. Well, invariably their first road run feels like they've never run before in their lives. You know, their hearts going like a trip hammer their sweating, pouring sweat through their chest is heaving. Their muscles ache for days after the first run. But they do it again just like the guy in the standard automobile and they do it again and they do it again and they do it again. And Lo and behold, that same route run at the same speed. You know, less than a month later. It's effortless. The older pulse rates barely leaving a baseline. They're not no nearly as sore, they're not breathing nearly as heavy. And they pat themselves on the back saying, I've really improved my cardiovascular system. Well, no. What happened was the CEP stepped in again. So now, you know, rather than the first time running where your heart ones, we're servicing the working 100% of the tissue. Maybe now it's on the order of 25% maybe less. So of course your pulse rates are not going to be driven up. You know, of course the amount of fibers brought into play won't be as much. But now I see it in everything. I see it in everything we do from lifting a Coffee Cup to working out and the body's means of conserving energy.

And they did a fascinating study that I cite in the book where they tested the calorie burn or the energy of people walking and they got a value of that. And then they put them in an exoskeleton or a mechanical suit that altered their gait to the way their, their strides so that it was more demanding, was a little more challenging and to nobody's surprise, they burn more calories. But the very next time they put on the Exoskeleton, they were right back to the calories that they were burning before the body have made the adaptation. So it occurs, you know, probably quicker than we think. But you can see that that has preservation value.

We kind of have two things that are hardwired into our consciousness with regard, maybe even to our DNA as regard to energy. And one is if you come upon energy, consume it because it may not be there tomorrow. And the second one is if you don't have to output a lot of energy, don't because you may not get it back out of your environment. Now this has a lifesaving value to the species such as ours that live for eons in a environment of food scale because it'll allowed us to conserve energy until we got to an area where there may be a little more food to sustain us. But the only thing that's changed does not our biology over this time, but our, our environment, I mean we now live in an environment of food abundance. Consequently these two impulses are still at play. So if there's energy, we opt to consume it. And there's still almost a primal fear that you know, it may not be there tomorrow. And the other thing is when it comes to exercise, all of us instinctively load high energy output activity.

And it could simply be because there's a part of our biology, it says you may not get that back. You know, don't work quite so hard, especially if you don't have to. So given that most people aren't physiologists, they don't know the workings of the body when they hit their forties I think, Geez, something's changed. Like I just saw a snapshot of me on holiday and I look like a beached whale. I've got to do something. I've lost whatever. You know, I used to be strong, I used to have muscle, I want to get that back so they know they have to do something psychologically. But the biology says, and I don't like this all out, you know, effort in the gym. That's a, it would be like, you know, running hurdles on the track. It's not a pleasant activity, but it's that type of activity that is necessary to activate and engage and stimulate and thus preserve those three classes of muscle fibers.

If you can do something that our psyches like, like going for a walk, you're only gonna use slow twitch fibers and over time you send a message to your body that the other two classes of fiber are dead weight because you're not using them. So it hastens their deterioration. So it's important to do a type of activity that we might initially perceive as being unpleasant in terms of its effect. Lactic acid burns, not pleasant breathing heavily, is not, it's not pleasant, but they there, it's just basically getting comfortable with your biology. You know, the heavy breathing and the lactic acidosis is simply a byproduct. It's the exhaust system of fast twitch fibers. So the more comfortable you get with your biology and you recognize there's nothing threatening going on, you know, the healthier you will be and the easier it is to train in a manner that is necessary to preserve all of those fibers and the metabolic functions.

Allan: 27:26 And that's what I really liked about this was when you kind of got into it and I was thinking, you know, most people are looking at resistance training and saying, okay, well this is going to get me stronger. This is going to improve my bone density. I may gain some muscle mass. But it goes well beyond that in that if you're training appropriately with resistance training, as you mentioned in the book with what you call the high energy output, you are tapping into your glycogen stores through all three types of muscle fiber and as a result you're actually setting yourself up to be metabolically advantage. So if you're struggling with high blood sugar like prediabetes or diabetes, if you're struggling with weight gain, that actually resistance exercise done the right way can actually go a long way towards helping you with taht.

John: 28:16 Oh absolutely. More so than any other activity really. And that is probably the only reason, apart from safety considerations, that resistance training moves to the form. It comes from the front of the line, those the preferred form of exercise, number one, it's a low force and if you run, you've got anywhere from three to five times body weight coming down on the joints with a single foot, you know when you're running. And then you also have the other issue that every time you do an activity, be at weight training, running, lifting a coffee cup. It's like a rope going over the face of a rock in terms of joints and where in terror. Now the hinge joints in your knees or the hinge joints and your elbows are not that dissimilar from the hinge joints in a door. In that they have a lifetime of normal use built into them, exceed that normal use quantity and your on a fast track to a replacement.

So when someone goes out for a bicycle ride, let's say, which was a seemingly innocuous activity, at the very least, they're going to open and close the hinge joints in their knees 10,000 times at the very least. So it's not that dissimilar to going to your door and opening and closing at 10,000 times over and above the normal use of that door. And if you do it three or four days a week, you've got a multiplier to put on it as well. So it's not a coincidence that people who are heavily involved in athletics, for example, and have, you know, two or three practices a week and maybe one or two games a week through a varsity career or high school and college, all of them end up arthritic. I can't think of anyone I knew who was on the varsity football team or hockey team that now has either had a knee or hip replacement or severe arthritis.

And it's overused and I think the earlier we're cognizant of this in our lives, the less problems we're going to have down the road. The benefit from exercise comes from a deep fatiguing of the muscles. That's the prompt cause the body to make an adaptation, whether it's in terms of endurance, which essentially is more glycogen storage and a muscle or strength in a muscle and you know, shy of that. There's not really a hell of a lot more you can get out of exercise anyway. So when people say, well, I'm going to do this for my cardiovascular system as if running for example, you know, the muscles involved in running where somehow divorced from resistance training or when you do resistance training. But the problem with that is when the CEP kicks in, you now have to change that running program in order to get the same benefit, the same stimulus, same effect, same fiber involved.

And that typically equates to running greater distances so now or cycling greater distances. So in the case of the cyclist, those 10,000 opening and closings now have to be extended to 20,000 to 30,000 to 50,000. And so that rock or sorry that rope goes over that rock face that many more times. And again, all to reach the end goal, which is to fatigue the muscles meaningfully enough that the body produces a positive adaptive response. And that's, that's what it is. If you think about, um, the best example of fiber recruitment stimulation and the effect would be cycling. Again, if you're cycling on the flat, and let's say you went out with a buddy, you could converse for as long as you want it to, an hour, hour and a half back and forth while you're riding on a flat surface because you're only using slow twitch fibers. You're not even really aware of your legs moving.

But then you come into a hill and as you start to go up the hill gravity, and I'll start to pull you back the other way. So the muscles have to work harder, uh, to keep you moving upward or up to grade. And consequently, at some point at the lower base of the hill, you begin to feel something's going on metabolically in my muscles, now I'm aware of it. Maybe we're not going to converse at quite the same rate that we were prior to this. But you continue on and as you get closer to the summit, your legs are on fire. You know, you're breathing very heavily. You all, you have to stand up now because it's very difficult to complete the revolutions of the pedals and maybe even you have to stop and get off the bike and walk it up the rest of the way.

But once you, once you do that, you notice that your breathing continues the heavy breathing for a protracted period, there's a tremendous cardiovascular stimulation far greater than what you had for writing for an hour on the flat surface, just from maybe 30 seconds to a minute of demanding muscular work, high energy output, muscular works. And so with resistance training we can manipulate certain variables. The load, the time of the muscle's underload and we can also control the forces, which is very important for our joint hill. But you know, when you finish a proper set of squats or leg presses or whatever lower body exercise you choose to do, it should feel like you just rode your bike to the summit of that hill from a cardiovascular and metabolic standpoint.

Allan: 33:01 Yeah. As I was getting into that part of the book, I was thinking, okay, well you're kind of talking about high intensity interval training, but I guess the problem with high intensity interval training is typically there's also the forces involved. But when you go to the resistance training, you're able to control the force.

John: 33:17 Well, right? I mean in high intensity interval training, there's lots of ways you can do it. Typically it's done on a a bicycle or a stationary bike. At least that's what most of the studies have been done on because it's easier to test vo two Max and things like that in a controlled environment. But, uh, you know, when you pull back big enough and take a more macro view of things, you see that in both cases it's demanding muscular work and resistance training. I mean, that could be another definition for it as demanding muscular work. And so the more demanding the muscular work you do, the brewery for your such exposure to that type of work has to be, and that's simply because you run through fibers at a quicker rate and you exhaust them just like the, you know, the faster you run, the less distance you can run.

So demanding muscular work is good and it gives us the benefit that we touched on at the beginning of freeing up more time. You don't have to be riding your bike for four hours, three or four days a week because of getting all of our, all of our adaptations are fixed. They're kept, and that includes cardiovascular adaptations. That's why not all of us can be Lance Armstrong's, we just don't have that genetic fifth year that lance had that allowed them to excel in cycling. He's perhaps not our best example because lance took a lot of other things as well to become a great cyclist. But genetically he had the [inaudible] to be an exceptional cyclist. You before he veered off into chemicals and other peoplehave that gift to be great Hockey players. The best example of that would be, I think I mentioned the book is Wayne Gretzky. He is bar none, the greatest hockey player in history because of the amount of records that he set.

And let's say you've been studying physiology and exercise science for 30 years, and the parent comes to you and says, Allan, I want you to train my son for hockey. I want you to get on as strong as possible because he's going to be playing a midget level hockey next year and you'll see you okay, I can share with them what I know. But right after he leaves, he gets a phone call from Wayne Gretzky says, Hey, I'll train your kid. Who's it going to go with? Most parents are going to go with the athlete because he knows this guy's been there. He's got the trip, the tips and secrets to make them a superstar. So interestingly enough, Wayne Gretzky was made the head coach of the Phoenix coyotes team in the NHL some years back, and he was the head coach for a period of five years.

So for five years, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Each of those players had the full benefit of his wisdom, his whatever tips and secrets Wayne Gretzky had to impart, and they finished dead last every one of those years and didn't produce one player of the caliber of Wayne Gretzky, which tells me at least Wayne had a gift. It was genetics. He can't tell you why he was the greatest hockey player in the world. It just worked out for him. You know, uh, just happened to be that way. He had the right genes to excel in the sport of hockey, whereas most, most people don't, which is why most people never make it to the NHL level, let alone, uh, you know, shatter all the records in the NHL. But you can see that right across the board that in athletics,

Allan: 36:19 When I was playing football, you know, you had Herschel Walker and walks out and he's just this huge specimen of a man and you're like, holy crap, what is he doing? You know? He's like, what is he doing? I want to do what he does. He's, he's just doing pushups and sit ups. Yup. And you're like, he had the gift. I could do pushups and sit ups, you know, kind of look like that. I'm not going to be that fast. I'm not going to be that strong. You know, there's just, yeah, there's just some aspect, he doesn't know what it's like to be a little guy.

John: 36:52 Well, and the reality is, I mean, whether you're Herschel Walker's coach or Wayne Gretzky's peewee coach. I mean he trained and played his players exactly all the same. And, and yet Wayne Gretzky came out of that. So if you wanted to hang up a shingle and say, you know, send your kid to me. I trained Wayne Gretzky in peewee and look where he is now. He probably would have made a lot of money, but the reality is everybody that trained in the same way that Wayne Gretzky did went nowhere on his peewee team. So it's just, it's these guys falling through the genetic cracks that excel because they have this genetic gift. Herschel Walker is a perfect example. Bo Jackson was another example. Jim Brown before him was another phenom who just had the genetics to be an exceptional football player. And these are the ones that make it to the top. And it's the very fact that they are exceptional. That is far different from the norm that has caught our attention in the first place and what distances them from ourselves. They are how we would love to be, but we won't be well, you know, we'd like to entertain that thought as long as possible because who would want to be Herschel Walker?

Allan: 37:58 But you know, I came back to kind of what we can be, you know, cause we're, we're all now well past that point.

John: 38:06 Welcome to the club.

Allan: 38:07 Yeah. Uh, even thinking that's possible. But I do want to get into this because you've, you've got some training protocols in the book and I really want to help someone understand how when we talk about this deep fatigue or you know, the high energy output. How does that relate to a workout? And then why does that then result in us spending actually less time in the gym.

John: 38:32 Will you spend less time in the gym because of the nature of how the programs are engineered. Number one, you want to use all three classes of fibers and we want to do what's called a sequential recruitment, which means you go from a slow twitch to intermediate twitch the fast twitch and for that to happen, there has to be a meaningful load imposed upon the muscles so that it doesn't, all the work isn't done by slow twitch fibers if the weight is too light. Since we have a type of fiber slow twitch, which is very slow to fatigue and very quick to recover, they're the same fibers you use on a walk, for example. It's very easy for the fibers that you initiated the exercise with to recover. By the time you've completed a certain amount of repetitions and therefore you never break out of that cycle.

It's slow twitch, slow twitch, slow twitch, slow twitch, but the load is meaningful. That's like you ride in the bike up the hill. Now you're, you're going through these fibers at a rate quicker than they can recover at and the body has no choice but to recruit the next order of fibers in line. So we move on to the intermediate twitch and have those fatigue out before the slow twitch fibers that you started with fatigue out. Then we'll move onto the final class, which is fast twitch and that's where you'll notice, you know the difference in respiration and the burn and, and all of these things. So the protocols are, because they're demanding because they cycled through fibers at a quicker rate. You're basically out of gas after about a minute and a half to two minutes of work. So it's, it's like you starting your, your bike ride up the hill halfway up the hill, you're just flipping off the hour you did on the flat, which didn't really do much except recycled slow twitch fibers.

But there are also done with an eye toward minimizing wear and tear or opening and closing of the joints. One protocol in the book, which is called done in one requires, but one repetition just performed incredibly slowly and can take up to two minutes to complete, you know, a full extension and contraction of a muscle. Other protocols such as the Max Pyramid will burn you out really quickly and in fact is so demanding that you might not need, need more than two exercises in a given workout to reap the full benefit because you simply won't have, you'll want to give 100% but you won't have 100% left to give for a third exercise let's say. And the protocol that I tend to start most people with is, is an old one and um, you know, went back to the 1940s. It was designed by the physiologist Forman Watkins.

And the reason I put it in there, it's because it's time tested. It's probably put more muscle on more people than any other protocol combined. And indeed I would venture to say that most other protocols since then have been footnotes to Dolores and Watkins method and it's pretty standard. It's three sets, approximately 10 reps per set is very light and as strictly a warm up that utilizes some slow twitch fibers. Second set is heavier, it uses what's left of your slow twitch and uh, some intermediate twitch. But then the third sets, the work set, it's the one that allows you to incorporate or to activate all three classes of muscle fiber. And so it's just three sets of 10. That's most basic fundamental training protocol and the history of resistance training.

Allan: 41:44 Yeah. And you, and you can pretty much do these with just some full body exercises like the, the dead lift the leg press, the squat, bench press, overhead press. And in a sense you'll get a full body compound movement workout with three to four exercises. And you know, if you're doing that and you're not taking big long rests between this and then basically you can get through a workout and you know, less than 20 minutes

John: 42:09 For sure. Oh, for sure. Yeah. Most of our clients don't, uh, worked out longer than 12 minutes and that's, that's at the high end. Some that some can be as low as six, but the idea really isn't to look at a clock to see whether or not you exhausted your muscles. You're gonna know if you've exhausted them by the effort you've put forth. And we keep progress charts and notes so that you know there is no waste of time. We know what weights you can use and we know, you know how long in the case of using a stopwatch you can sustain that contraction or how many repetitions you can perform so that when you come in the next week, we know exactly where to where to start just so you're not wasting any time and I think that again, time is such a big thing.

We don't think of it an exercise because we know we're used to seeing people get better by doing something more. You know, you got better at the piano by practicing more, you get better at stick handling in hockey by practicing more. You know, all of these things require more time to lay down certain neural pathways to perfect a skillset. But conditioning training is a completely different animal. It's not a skill set, although there's some motor learning involved. It is. It is a metabolically demanding high energy output activity. And when you're tapping fiber such as the fast twitch fibers, you know, they were not, you know, they're not on our bodies as a, as something that, uh, we needed to use on a daily basis when you, our ancestors didn't have fight or flight situations imposed upon them, you know, every day from 11 until two, you know, like people at the gym, these were sporadic occurrences maybe every seven to 10 days.

And consequently our body's never evolved. A means by which the fast twitch fibers or the fight or flight fibers required a really quick recuperation before they can be brought into service again. And so they don't, it takes time for those fibers to recover. And it takes time for those fibers to adapt and slow twitch fibers and fast twitch fibers do not share the same recovery profile. So while you can go for a walk for an hour using slow twitch fibers and upon your return home you could probably go out for a walk again because you've recovered from that very low. You know, it's not a high energy output activity, but you do a set of reasonably heavy squats to the point of muscular failure where you can complete another rep, try and do another set right away. You won't have the inclination, all of your energy and resources have been called upon at a very, very high level. And then you just have to give your body and nature, if you will, time to make the necessary adjustments. So the next time you perform such an exercise in such a fashion that's not nearly as demanding physiologically as it was the last time you did it.

Allan: 44:49 Yeah. That's one of the beginner questions I get all the time is should I just do the same workout every day? And I'm like, no. If you did it right the first day, you don't want to do it the next couple of days.

John: 45:00 And you don't want to do it again until you really have to. I mean there's two factors. One, the immediate after effect of a workout is a depletion. You get weaker. Energy was used up, glycogen was burned up, which is an energy selling them in a muscle and in some cases fibers or damage. So when that happens, you're not, you're not looking to do that again, you're, you're, you're essentially tripping the growth and repair mix. He doesn't have the body into motion by doing these workouts. And that's the same mechanism that comes into play. If you should ever cut yourself or burn yourself and the next time that should happen, just informally observe how long it takes for that little bit of skin or Dermis to bridge the wound. And that's just a little bit, it's usually seven to 10 days anyway. So the, the healing process, which is where the benefit that we're after occurs takes time.

It's not a, it would be the, like the workout is the stimulus, which is like when you cut your hand, well that's a stimulus to your body to produce new tissue, to close the wound. And when you work out with weights its extinguished your body to produce a little more, you know, a thickening of the muscles. But you don't hasten the process by recutting your hand every day, you know, you delay it. And the same is true with a workout. And I remember speaking with Doug McGuff about this and he said, interesting point, he said, but did you know that the skin repairs itself through the ectodermal germline, whereas muscles come from the Mesodermal germline? And I didn't know what the hell he was talking about. So I said, no, I didn't know that. And he said, well, here's what you need to know about.

He said, the active Dermal Germline, which you mentioned with the cut, which takes over seven to 10 days to heal, he goes, it is a germline that heals much, much quicker that muscle does. You said so if you scratch your cornea can be pretty well on its way to repair in 12 hours, so if you're going to be doing a very demanding workout, don't beat yourself up. If seven days ticked by and you haven't been back to the gym yet, you know you may need the extra day or two for full recovery because again, it comes from a metabolic line that is not quick and turning over proteins necessary for a rapid repair.

Allan: 47:08 Okay. John, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest, and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

John: 47:19 Hmm, that's interesting because it's an interesting definition because consists of three completely unrelated conditions that are under one umbrella term, but each is important to consider. Fitness is your ability to function, to do things that you want to do. Health is simply the absence of disease and happiness is a subjective term is what makes one person happy, might bore another person to tears. But I believe that the type of training that we've been discussing, high energy output training will look after the first condition you mentioned and to some extent it will positively impact your health as well. It won't cure a disease, but it might help prevent your health from deteriorating to the point where your body can't combat certain elements that might lead to diseases such as say, diabetes and perhaps the ability of your body to carry out the dictates of your mind in terms of doing things you really want to do and enjoy doing might lead to happiness of a sort and stave off conditions such as depression to some degree, which in fact the medical literature is indicated about resistance training. But only you can infuse your life with purpose depending upon your individual psyche and that will give you peace of mind to some degree.

Happiness is an interesting topic because as a perpetual state is foreign to human beings, and I'm not sure that it would be desirable as there is a vast spectrum of human emotions that collectively make up what we could call the human condition and some of them are the furthest thing from pure happiness, but to experience them all to live your life within each nerve fully exposed during this brief go round that we have is to experience the totality of your humanity. And according to some philosophies, at least your experience of a particular emotions opposite tends to heighten your experience of that emotion when you experience I again, as you know, you often only know things through contradistinction.

So after all, what would darkness mean if you only ever knew light, but to your point, given that the studies have shown that your health can be preserved with proper resistance training, given that the studies have shown that your functional ability can be tremendously enhanced through proper resistance training. And given the fact that studies have also shown an interrelationship between psyche and Soma. For example, if you're constantly worried and stressed, you can get a physical condition known as an ulcer. You have to think that would also work in reverse. So whatever it is that makes you happy, usually it's an activity or something that you enjoy. You need your muscles to get you to it or to perform it. And this was a means by which you will enhance and preserve your ability to do those things that you enjoy and to do it, you know, as best you can in the absence of the disease better than any other activity. And certainly fire quicker and more thoroughly than any other activity.

Allan: 50:04 Yeah, I'm inclined to agree with you because, you know, I think, you know, if you kind of go back to some of the happiest times in your life, it typically involves you spending time with someone that you care about, like a grandchild or something like that. And your ability to be engaged with them and doing the things that need to be done. So I agree with you there. And then, you know, if you're really doing this workout the way you're supposed to, it's not going to be the most pleasant day of your life. So you're going to be very unhappy for that 12 minutes.

John: 50:35 But yeah if you can get comfortable with being uncomfortable for, you know, six to 12 minutes a week in order to have all of the benefits of resistance training can give you, you know, maybe it's a deal worth taking.

Allan: 50:50 I think it is. I really do. So John, if someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about the books that you've written and the things that you're doing, where would you like for me to send them?

John: 51:00 Well, I don't really have a dedicated website about any of that. Certainly for the books, they can go to any of the online bookstores. They're available there. Amazon carries all my books and that will at least be able to give them a means to see what I'm interested in, what I'm working on. And as I tend to publish quite a few of those and if they're on Facebook, feel free to look me up and say hello.

Allan: 51:23 Okay, well you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/388 and I'll be sure to have links to the books and also to John's Facebook.

John, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

John: 51:38 Well thank you Allan. It was a pleasure to speak to you.

I hope you enjoyed that conversation with John Little, you know, it's, um, it's always good to get the most out of our time working out so that we're getting the best benefit in the shortest amount of time. Bang for the buck, right? So go back and listen to that again. Go ahead and get his book, The Time Savers Workout. Really good book as well. I did want to let you know, again, I do have those slots for one on one training. You can email me Allan@40plusfitnesspodcast.com and I'll send you an application. But if you're just on the fence with this and you're just not quite sure, why don't we schedule a 15 minute consult? You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/15min and we can schedule a 15 minute consult. We can talk about what your needs are. We could talk about what your goals are. I can give you a little bit on the phone there just to kind of give you a taste, a little taste of what it's like to be working with me. One on one. So go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/15min. Thank you.

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