Monthly Archives: July 2018
Monthly Archives: July 2018
Hello and thank you for being a part of the 40+ Fitness podcast. I’m really excited to have you here today and I’m really excited to share today’s show with you. It’s going to be a solo episode. I got a lot of great feedback from the last one, so I did promise you and I am going to continue to give you some of these solo shows. And the topic we’re talking about today called “Modes of Transportation” is really, really important. It’s something that you really need to make sure you understand before you get into your wellness journey, until you get into your path. It’s a part of what I call the “Wellness GPS”.
What I find is so many people struggle to know what to do when, where to go, how to get there, and when they run into a problem, they really don’t have the tools to break away and get through what’s going on. So they’re in a plateau, they don’t know how to get around that. They get into a roadblock or they hit a stumble or a pot hole. They don’t know how to get around that. If you’ve set your GPS right, it will help you do those things, and if you’ve set your Wellness GPS well, you’ll know how to react and do the right things for your wellness.
I want to help you do that, so to do that, I’m going to launch a challenge. It’s going to be called the Wellness GPS Challenge. This is going to be a short-term challenge – I’m thinking probably something in the realm of about seven days. We’re going to walk through each and every step of the Wellness GPS path, get you completely set up to almost guarantee success.
My clients that have used this strategy, used this approach – they get results, and I want you to get results too.
Now, because I’m going to be working directly with you, I can’t bring on a whole lot of people to do this. It’s going to be a very small group, like 20 people. I’m only going to allow 20 people in, and if you want to be a part of it, you need to be on the waiting list, because I’m going to contact the waiting list first, allow 24 hours for them to join, and then I’ll start looking to announce it on the podcast and otherwise. But the first 20 slots are going to go to people that are on the waiting list if they want it. So you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/GPS. And when you sign up on that mailing list, you’ll be getting some emails from me to let you know what the timing is and what we’re going to be doing, and then we’re going to go ahead and launch it. If I get to 20 just from this mailing list, then I’m done. So if you don’t want to miss out on this offer of being a part of the Wellness GPS challenge, I encourage you to go join that mailing list today. Again, that’s at 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/GPS.
Let’s get into our topic – modes of transportation. So I want to set the scene for you. I was probably about five years into my wellness journey, as it would be, and basically it was a yo-yo experience, to say the least. At this particular time though I was in generally good shape. I felt really good, I’d been working out, things were going pretty well, but my work schedule was just getting insane. I was traveling about 90%, and this was one of those rare weekends that I was at home and I just decided I didn’t want to do anything. I was jet lagged, I was tired, so I’m sitting on the couch just pretty much working my thumb. It’s a Sunday morning and I’m flipping between Face the Nation and various infomercials. So as I’m flipping the channels and watching stuff, all of a sudden this commercial comes on for a program called Insanity. You might’ve heard of it – it’s from the same people who did P90X and all the Beachbody people. And this was Shaun T, and this dude looked great. The folks behind him were moving, they were exercising. It all looked really good. And what was really cool about it was that they didn’t need any equipment to do the work they were doing. I was like, “Wow, I travel a lot, it’s really hard for me to find a gym at points in time with all the travel I’m doing. This might actually be the answer.” So of course I get my credit card out, I dial the 1-800 number and I order the stuff.
I come back from my next business trip, and there it is in my mailbox. I was really, really excited about it, so I just decided to rip the covers off, see what’s in it. I knew that I couldn’t carry all these DVDs with me. There were about 12 of them or so. I couldn’t carry all of them with me, so I was saying, “What do I need to do? First thing I’ll do, I’ll rip all these to my computer. I’m getting on another trip soon, and instead of having the DVDs with me, it’d be easier if it’s on my computer. I’ll be more likely to do it on the road.” So I did that first, knowing myself, knowing I needed to have it handy if I was going to use it. Then as soon as I got done with that, I put the first DVD in and it was a fitness test. So I do this fitness test and I really push myself because I want to know how well this does, so I’m going to really push myself to do this fitness test. And it was hard. Not just hard; it was really, really hard. The next day I was basically incapacitated. I felt like I’d been strapped to my bed and beat with a baseball bat. I woke up and I felt so bad, and I really didn’t want to get up. I knew I had to get ready for work and I was laying there and I finally decided, “I’m so much pain, I won’t be able to concentrate. This won’t be a good day for me.” So I called in sick. It’s kind of embarrassing now to look back at it. It’s a little funny, but at the time I was really embarrassed that I pushed myself so hard in a workout that I literally can’t go.
I only tell you that story because I think a lot of us actually approach our health and fitness thinking, “I’ve got to get this done now.” The body weight, the things that we’re trying to get rid of, the things we’re trying to do. We didn’t get into the shape we were in just a couple of weeks, in a couple of days, in a couple months. But I think a lot of us have this general mindset that we want it now. And one of the things that’s going to be a limiting factor, and I’ve talked about this a lot on the show, is just physically what we’re capable of doing. I think in a sense we all know that if we push ourselves too hard, we’re going to break.
But there’s another point to pace that I really want you to take to heart. And it’s the one that’s really the hardest for us to deal with, because we’re gung-ho and we all want to get there – and that is, what vehicle are we going to have to choose to go? The vehicle we choose is going to determine the pace with which we get there. So, in a normal example, if I wanted to drive from here in my home in Pensacola Beach to Hattiesburg, it’s about a 3-hour drive. I’ve done that drive so many times I could do it with my eyes closed. It’s a relatively straight flat road. If I got into a sports car, I could probably get there in two and a half hours easy. I’ll break a couple of speed limits here and there. I know where to not break the speed limits by now, but I’d go really quick. It’s a really easy road, I know the way. Boom, I’m there. It’s just me and the car, and I’m in Hattiesburg. So if I want to be in Hattiesburg for a football game, I’m there. No problem.
So, if you’re single, got nothing else going on in your life, no other troubles, no other problems, no other passengers or baggage – sure, hop in the sports car and get there. As much as your body will allow you to do so, that should be your pace. That can be your pace. But unfortunately many of us do have baggage and passengers. So if I wanted to go to a football game, but I also wanted to set up the tailgate for everybody – I can’t take the sports car now because I can’t carry the tent, the chairs, the grill, the food, the cooler – all the different things that I would want for the tailgate. Now I have to bring my pickup truck. The pickup truck doesn’t handle as quickly as the sports car. It can’t go quite as fast and it’s not going to get there in the same amount of time. So now with the truck, it might take me three hours to get there, which is actually substantially more than two and a half when you sit down and do the math. But because I need to carry the baggage of the stuff in my life, it’s going to take me longer. So, if I have a job that has me working 18-hour days, I won’t be able to work out as often as I may have wanted to work out. If I have some other issues going on with people that are going to want to have food and I want a social life and I want to go tailgate, then I have baggage that’s going to keep me from moving as fast as I might have moved if I didn’t have that baggage. So I have to take the pickup truck – it’s going to take me longer to get there. If I can’t do the things I need to do all the time, without regard to any other timing, any other thing, I might have some difficulty getting there as quickly. And I have to accept that. That acceptance is a very, very important thing.
Before we really get into the acceptance though, I want to talk about the final one, and that is, what if I have passengers? So what if I have six people that want to travel with me to the game? I can’t take the truck because I can’t sit six people in my truck. Now I’m going to have to buy a bus or rent a bus, and the bus is going to be a little harder for me to handle. I might not be as familiar with the transmission, I’m going to have to slow down. And then invariably one of the six or seven of us that are going might have to go to the bathroom while we’re on there. So we’re probably going to be taking a few more pitstops, particularly if those passengers happen to be your children. So, recognizing that you have people in your life that are going to slow you down, you have stuff in your life, events, work, the gym closes, all these different things that can happen that are going to potentially slow you down – you have to set your mind to understand that there is going to be a pace of movement that is going to be most appropriate for you and the lifestyle you want and need and have.
I define wellness as being the happiest, healthiest, most fit person you can be, and I put happiness in there for a reason. Not having baggage can be great, not having passengers can be great. But I’m thinking to be the happiest person you want to be, you’re going to have the baggage, you’re going to have the passengers, you’re going to have those special events. You’re going to have the people – your children, your spouse. You’re going to have those people in your life, so you have to make sure that your fitness journey, the way you set all of this up basically is strategized to deal with that. You may have passengers, or baggage, or you may have both. So you have to choose the appropriate mode of transportation which is going to then reflect into the pace with which you see movement, with which you see the journey happen. Once you satisfy yourself with understanding that that’s how all of this works, it becomes a lot easier for you to accept that you don’t have to feel the acceleration of a sports car to know that you’re moving forward, as long as you stay the path and you keep moving forward. So, getting your mindset on the front end of what is possible and how you’re going to get there, with which vehicle and what that pace is going to be like, is going to go a long way towards helping you reach your goals.
I want to close with one other thing, and I know this is going to be a really short episode. This is a really, really important topic that you need to think about and wrap your mind around, because if you really do want to meet your goals, if you have certain fitness goals that you want to meet – it’s not if you’re going to meet those goals. You must meet those goals. Your health and fitness, your wellness should be the most important thing to you right now, and if it is, then you’re going to want to pick the right vehicle, and then just understand that it’s not if, it’s when you reach certain goals. If right now I wanted to train for a 10K, I have my wife, I have a couple of trips that are coming up. I have to consider the baggage and the passengers to decide, can I do a 10K? Am I capable of doing a 10K in six weeks, or maybe I need to sign up for the next one? I still have it. It’s still there, I still set it up. It’s just a different 10K at a slightly offset time, and I’m doing that because I’m being responsible to understanding what my baggage and my passengers are. And if you’ll do that, that’s going to lend into the whole happiness thing because you’re getting what you want out of your life and you’re meeting your goals. So it’s not if, it’s when. And now you’re on the path and you know you’re going at the pace that’s appropriate for you.
Closing, I do want to leave with one other thing. There are the passengers, there is the baggage, but you are the driver on your wellness journey, period. You have to make some hard decisions, and that might mean at points in time, asking your spouse to eat a little differently or to help you deal a little differently. It might mean telling your children they really can’t have Oreos in the cupboard all the time because you’re trying to accomplish a certain thing. It might mean that you skip a time out with your friends to go do a run because your actual race is coming up really quick. Those are the tradeoffs you’re going to make, but to get the full balance of what we’re trying to get out of wellness, which is happiness, health and fitness, you’re going to have to really tie into understanding the pace that’s the most appropriate to you. That’s not just what your body is capable of doing; it’s what your life is capable of supporting.
So, take some time to think about the pace with which you should be working towards your wellness goals, and then make that your reality. Make those goals happen when they’re supposed to happen for you. You’ll be so much happier, healthier and more fit, and therefore, well.
On episode 329 of the 40+ Fitness Podcast, we meet Dr. Joel Kahn and discuss his book, The Plant-Based Solution.
Allan (0:46): Our guest today is a world leading cardiologist, a best-selling author, and a popular lecturer who inspires others to think scientifically and critically about the body's ability to heal through proper nutrition. He serves as a clinical professor of medicine at the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, and is founder of the Kahn Center for Cardiac Longevity. He also opened a restaurant for healthy food called GreenSpace Cafe. With no further ado, here's Dr. Joel Kahn.
Dr. Khan, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Kahn (1:20): Good day. Wherever you're listening, whatever time of day. And thank you, I'm excited to be on this and chat about some important stuff with you.
Allan (1:29): And it is very important. There's so much information out there, that I think it's hard for people to really grasp how much diet means, and then actually get to the bottom of, what is a good eating strategy for us to be healthy, to live longer, to have energy, to do all the things we want to do in our lives? We need good nutrition to do those things. Your book The Plant-Based Solution, I think is a very good primer for someone that wants to understand the eating style of being a vegan. So I appreciate this because there was a lot of information, a lot of science in here, a lot of things that I sat back for a moment and pondered. There are not many health and fitness books that do that to me anymore, because I've read so many. But yours was one where I sat down and read it, and then I wanted to just absorb what that study was about, or absorb what you were talking about in one of your classic rants in this book. So again, I appreciate the opportunity to have this conversation with you.
Dr. Kahn (2:32): Thank you very much. I appreciate the podcast both takes time and effort, and the whole idea is to have an impact.
Allan (2:39): Yes, absolutely. I think one of the things that I found really interesting as I got into it was that folks will try an eating style, and vegan is what I would term as a more restrictive eating style than a lot of others. You had a background in having somewhat of a restrictive eating style, and then you noted in the book that when the eating style is associated with ethics, that it has a much better uptake than when we're just doing it for health reasons. I think that's a commitment thing that comes out of that, because of the emotion associated with it. But let's take a moment and get into CAFOs the and how our meat now is produced, because I think that's one of the big stepping stones for people that want to consider. Can you tell us a little bit about how our meat is produced and what's going on out there? Because we're trying to feed almost 8 billion people as we go, but we're not doing a very good job of managing our resources, are we?
Dr. Kahn (3:45): No. There is pressure to produce food for more people, and it lead 60-70 years ago to adopting some of the strategies that Henry Ford and production lines, assembly lines did in my home town of Detroit to make higher production and more efficiency. But that meant concentrating animals not free to graze and live a life of clover and grass, but putting them into buildings without sunlight, with food that was cost-effective and rapid growing, but not their natural food, nor the healthiest food. And it's led to both a nutritional disaster and an environmental disaster. And if you care at all and have been around for the last decade, you can’t help but have seen on occasion videos, that despite all these tough laws and trying to keep the public isolated from the idea that their burger or steak actually ever was connected to a living animal with feelings that probably went through absolute hell to end up on their plate – if you care at all about that, you realize this system has to change. Even the media industry and visionaries – Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines and such are talking about, this is the worst thing we could have created, and it will be different from technology.
But the pressure there is still to feed a lot of mouths, and I agree. I’ll just make one comment on your intro. A fully plant-based diet is restrictive in that at Thanksgiving and some corporate functions, there's going to be a moment that you pause, because the things on the table may not all meet your criteria. But almost every health diet out there is different than the standard American fare. And it requires some restriction, mindfulness and decision-making, until we have it that a corporate celebration, a hospital celebration, National Nurses Day actually is carrots, celery, hummus, salad and bean burgers, which is not what's happening now. It's ice cream, cakes, donuts and sugary drinks, all versions; it's not just the plant-based vegan version. I've had lunch sometimes with some of my friends that would sit on the other side of the table doing hardcore Paleo, hardcore keto diets. And they have more difficulty than I do eating in a cafeteria, eating at an office building where we lectured on a panel. So, nutritional excellence takes work and nutritional excellence is crucial. But I think sometimes it's easier just to grab an apple, a banana, an orange or some steamed broccoli than it is to try and construct the perfect alternative health movement menus of the Paleo movement, even the Mediterranean diet. Garbage food is everywhere. That's still the “go-to”, unfortunately.
Allan (6:57): I agree. I've tried various types of eating styles, and you're right – you have to be thoughtful about it, you have to be mindful about it. Probably to me that might be one of the best benefits of the vegan diet initially, is that it really gets you thinking about the food that you're putting in your body. There's a lot of science to back up the vegan diet from a health perspective, but there's actually also a lot of science out there that supports the DASH Diet, which is an Americanized version of the Mediterranean diet. You talked about the DASH diet a little bit in your book and you cited some studies where the DASH diet was actually put forward as a healthy diet. And then you said there's also a vegan version of the Mediterranean diet that they could have included in the study but didn't. Can you go a little bit into the DASH diet and why maybe having a small amount of meat and some fish is a problem?
Dr. Kahn (8:00): I think a lot of the public, if you ask them questions about what's a Mediterranean diet, would be like a Jimmy Kimmel interview on the street and you'd get all kinds of interesting responses. The Med diet might be Meditation diet or something. Trying to define what is the Mediterranean diet, even amongst health experts engenders controversy, but amongst the public, it's probably almost uninterpretable. When indeed it’s, reduce red meat, fish if you choose, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, wine and olive oil. That's the traditional Mediterranean diet. There is a cardiologist in England trying to turn the Mediterranean diet into a low-carb, high-fat version and taking away all the grains and putting in coconut oil. It's a total insanity. I only point that out because we disagree about some things.
The DASH diet stands for Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension. It's a research study that our government has done twice, paid for twice – DASH1 and DASH2. It’s a way to eat to reduce the burden of high blood pressure on the public health. In fact, high blood pressure worldwide is the single number one cause of death from its consequences – heart disease, kidney disease, strokes, blood vessel disease like aneurysms, so it's a big deal. And they did it further and they repeated it. You’re right – when the planning committee went to sit down and they positioned Dr. Frank Sacks from Harvard, it really was geared to be a vegetarian diet, and then they backed off before they launched it, saying that they don't think the acceptance amongst the public was going to take a full vegetarian diet. So they allowed it to be a version of the Mediterranean diet, I agree. It proved to be beneficial and it proved that reducing salt, adding in plants, cutting back red meat, increasing your whole grains, fruits and vegetables was beneficial and lowered blood pressure. Even though that's 10 to 15-year-old news, lately when the US news and world report rates the overall best diet for anyone in America to follow, the DASH diet is popped up as number one on the list, and that's reasonable. It's way better than what most people are eating. You can always refine it, but if we could instantly flip the switch and every work cafeteria, hospital cafeteria, vending machine all supported only the DASH diet, we'd be, from a health standpoint, way down the road towards a better place.
Allan (10:30): It's funny how much people will take something that works and there's a study saying, “This diet's great”, and then they want to spin it a little bit and add something or take something away and say, “This should be just as good.” There's no science behind coconut oil with the DASH diet, so obviously it's not the DASH diet. I understand what they're trying to do there with the big popularity of ketosis and ketogenic diet. I don't know that adapting the Mediterranean diet to that style is going to give you the same health effects that you would have had with that. And I'm guessing also with the DASH diet and him trying to make it a little bit more fatty, that we're talking about adding a little bit more olive oil than you would normally have in a DASH diet. You're not a big fan of olive oil. Could you talk a little bit about that?
Dr. Kahn (11:22): Yeah. I actually want to make sure – let me just quickly circle back. You asked about how food is produced, particularly meat. More than 95% of any meal an American is eating, whether it's a burger, a piece of pork, a piece of chicken, a piece of beef, other fowl, turkey, are not out there enjoying life like Sound of Music and Julie Andrews. They’re in contained, high-efficiency organizations called CAFOs – confined animal factory organizations. And because of the inability of these animals to have any kind of reasonable fresh air, fresh food, free existence, there are horrible abusive practices – the need for antibiotics is uniform. In fact I think it's about 85% of all antibiotics in the United States are given to animals in this setting to allow them to live long enough without mass infection, to allow the manufacturer to garner some profits from selling them to a slaughter house. Plus hormones to grow them as quick as possible, plus terrible, terrible, terrible abuse. The workers in these CAFOs suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder, and others suffering premature diseases from the occupational exposure to unbelievable dust and chemicals, as well as just the emotional stress of dealing with this situation. And then they spill all the contents into surrounding ground water. The unbelievable quantities of manure and such have to be dealt with.
So it's easy, and you hear many meat-based podcasts talking about that they’re absolutely in agreement that CAFO raised meat is the worst choice amongst any animal eater. But when you get down to the reality, if you live near whole foods and you’ve got a few extra dollars, you can buy all the grass-fed beef you want – maybe that's a better choice. But for 95% plus of Americans, eating at a work cafeteria, hospital cafeteria, vending machine or in fast food, even most restaurants – they're not getting that. They're supporting the CAFO world and they're experiencing a dirty form of food for their own health.
And then you get to olive oil, in teaching that's promoted by both the Harvard School of Public Health and a very well-known and close friend of mine, Dr. David Katz of Yale. When we talk about a single food you want to talk about, is it good, is it bad, is it healthy, but what are you using it in place of? There's clear cut data from the Harvard School of Public Health that if your “go to” is ghee, butter and lard to sauté, to cook, to spread on bread, as is a common practice – lard on bread – and you substitute, unbelievably, vegetable oils or olive oil as a slightly different vegetable oil than, let’s say, safflower oil, sunflower oil, that you will lower your risk of developing heart disease by that substitute. And in a very large study last July, it was estimated with way over 100,000 data points that if you switch to vegetable oils, and I’d put in the word “organic” right away, you can actually lower your risk of heart attacks and such by 25% plus percent. And if you substitute olive oil, it's actually not as much of an advantage, but it's still about a 10% advantage compared to lard, butter and ghee. So it's the better choice for somebody that says, “I'm putting something slimy or oily or greasy on my food.”
Then you still ask the basic question, what’s in olive oil? And it's mainly what are called monounsaturated fatty acids, which is better than the mixes on lard, butter and ghee. There still is a reasonable amount of saturated fat. It's plant-based saturated fat, but our body doesn't always discern where it's coming from; about 15%. And there's a mix of data out there. I'm a cardiologist – if you're dealing with serious heart disease, and there's millions of people out there that are, and you're wanting to use your diet to prevent serious heart disease, stop serious heart disease, or reverse serious heart disease, as has been shown to be possible by Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, approved by Medicare as an authorized treatment plan for heart patients – oil drops out of the picture. It's actually dropped out of the picture since the 1940s, when some very bright researchers identified that diets free of added fats, diets free of added oils, actually seemed to make heart patients live longer. So in my world, olive oil is not a health food for the sick heart patients that I’m seeing in my office. You're 28 years old, you're at a restaurant and you could make the choice of putting a creamy, buttery dressing on your salad or a mixture of balsamic and olive oil – for the reason I just told you…
You’ve got to be as careful with olive oil as you’ve got to be with your meat source. There's a lot of fraud and the olive oil world and you can pay extra for extra virgin olive oil at the store and not always is it extra virgin olive oil. It's more expensive, so it's a no brainer for people with no ethics to put in a cheaper version and charge more. So you want to get a good source, know where it’s coming from. Spain, Italy, Greece are some of the big countries that you might want to strive to find a better source from. So, I do not live a complete olive oil free diet. I don't have heart disease and I know that as a fact. I do the proper testing. But I keep it very, very light. Now, in my restaurants – I own three restaurants – we always have a multitude of entrees that require no oil to produce, to allow patients who are following that to have an option that's healthy and without oil. You sauté in water, you sauté in wine. It's an easy process to cook without oil.
Allan (17:38): Yes. Now, with any diet that is going to be restricting certain foods, limits certain foods that we're just not going to eat – there's the potential that we're not going to get all the nutrition that we need. In being mindful of, if we're going to go vegan, what are the supplements that we would need to consider because we're just not getting enough of them or any of them from our foods?
Dr. Kahn (18:06): I want to just intro this. If you construct an entirely vegan diet – a whole food, plant-based, lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds diet – the odds are your health will be enhanced. It's not a 100% guarantee, but the odds are very favorable. Let's talk about the things you're not going to need if you, early in life or anytime in life, follow the whole food, plant-based diet. Many medications, Viagra been one, diabetic medications, blood pressure medications, heart medications – it’s not 100% guarantee, but you are favoring the chance that you’re not going to need to be that. I’m almost 60 years old, I've had the pleasure of being completely plant-based for 40 years, which started as an accident, but it was a very good accident. I was 18 years old. Now I’m taking no prescription drugs and feel good every day. That's a pretty good place to be as you're approaching 60, and I wish that on everybody. A healthy plant diet is a great foundation to get to that point. But if you're going to eat nothing but plants, beans, seeds, grains and such, you want to be cognizant that B12 is in dirt, and cows graze on dirt and their meat gets enriched with B12 because they’re beasts. If we would get down and eat some dirty carrots, we wouldn't need to consider supplementing, but we do. It’s just inappropriate to be on long-term completely plant diet and not be aware that B12 can be a deficient nutrient. It's in some soy milks and hemp milks and such. But take a B12 pill three or four times a week.
Vitamin D is a challenging nutrient for everybody to get – meat eaters, fish eaters, plant eaters. There’s a lot in mushrooms. A lot of the plant milks are fortified with vitamin D as is cow milk, but Dr. Michael Greger recommends, I recommend 2,000 international units of vitamin D3 a day, maybe 250 micrograms of vitamin B12 three, four, five times a week. And finally the new one on the block is Omega-3. Fish don't make Omega-3 fatty acids like EPA, DHA. Fish eat algae, algae make it. So now there are algae-based supplements that have EPA, DHA, just enough to make sure you're getting enough to make your membranes in your brain and your other organs work optimally. Adding in one a day. There are some multivitamins out there for vegans that have all of these; makes it brainless. There's a spray out there you can take that has all these and it makes it very easy and brainless. It's a very, very small price, literally in terms of what it costs, and habit-wise to say, “I've constructed the whole food, plant-based diet that favors longevity and health. I've watched the amount of oils or limited them. I take a couple of vitamins a day.” Really in my practice of advanced cardiology in Detroit, where everybody gets nutritional testing, my meat eaters are missing as much or more than plant eaters. Be a smart plant-eater, not a sloppy one.
Allan (21:17): I think there were two really good points that you had in there. One is that we have a need for some of these. If we're eating whole foods, and I think that's one of the big things I want to put out there, they are not manufactured in a box foods. These are the whole foods. You get them in the produce section, you get them at the farmer's market, and you're starting from that base. The other side of this that I wanted to get into was that you had mentioned that you can actually get a blood test for vitamin D and vitamin B12. You can actually test for that when you get your labs done. I don't think there's anything for Omega-3 at this point.
Dr. Kahn (22:02): There is, there is. If your healthcare provider doesn't want to do it, some of the online companies like WellnessFX or LifeExtension.com – you can pay to get an Omega-3 blood level and such. So they are out there and I do them on every patient. Some of my patients are so deficient in Omega-3, and what follows that is your cholesterol goes up, inflammation goes up, sometimes blood sugar goes up. And you don't need a diabetic drug, a cholesterol drug or a blood pressure drug. You need to start eating two tablespoons a day of ground flaxseed and maybe some hemp, maybe some chia seeds, walnuts, leafy greens, and maybe taking one small capsule a day of algae Omega-3. I routinely six weeks later repeat their blood work, and the Omega-3 levels are up and all those other numbers are down. Sophisticated but really widely available nutritional analysis should be pretty darn good at this stuff.
Allan (23:04): Now, one of the important things that’s out there when people are going to try to start something is, I think, having a plan that gets us at least into it long enough. Three weeks – 21 days – is probably enough time for you to start recognizing some of the health benefits to get some of the hard parts of it out of the way. You actually have a plant-based solution – 21-day menu set in here that I think is actually quite brilliant, because there's enough variety there. We're not talking all you're going to get is celery and carrots. These are actually foods, whole food meals that you can get by with, and you actually recognize as a meal, not a salad all the time. Do you want to take a few moments to talk about your 21-day menu and the recipes?
Dr. Kahn (23:58): Sure, thank you for that. I am not a culinary trained chef. I mentioned it briefly, I do own three restaurants – two in Detroit, one in Austin, Texas, that are completely plant-based. So I'm around food people, I employ food people, I research food people, but I am in the kitchen a pretty primitive guy. I'll tinker around and make some mistakes, but I'm not making mirepoix. The 21-day program is based… First of all, many, many people say that when they feel better is when they switched from their previous diet to a plant-based diet. And after about three weeks the dairy is gone, then the processed food is gone, and the fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds have been increased. And number two, it takes about that long to acquire the taste there. Some people are just aren’t grooving on Brussels sprouts and such. You sometimes can bite into an apple and it's an explosion of flavor after a few weeks of not having had a burger, bacon, cheese fries, and eating in a healthier pattern.
So that's the three-week part and why, and more importantly the recipes are simple. Let’s get some simple breakfast with overnight oats, overnight chia pudding, easy smoothies, chickpea omelets, some stir fries for breakfast. Frankly, I didn't put it in the book – half of Europe eats salad for breakfast. When you go to the salad bar in a European hotel, just cut up some cucumbers and tomatoes and mint and cilantro, and if you're into it, some olive oil, and you'll be in a good place. And then, also simple lunches. The one that's been the biggest hit in the book is a chickpea mash. I take a tuna sandwich to work every day. What am I going to take instead of a tuna sandwich? Well, get two pieces of good whole grain bread like Killer Dave’s or Ezekiel, put a chickpea mash in the middle. You don't need to do it with mayonnaise and eggs and high fat. There are now some plant-based mayonnaises out there. Put a lot of spices. Almost all the recipes enjoy health-boosting benefits of turmeric, ginger, garlic, parsley, rosemary and such. This chickpea mash has been great. And then we just need a few staples for dinner. We need a good soup, a good chili, a good casserole. For people who are on the move, one good bean burger. So there's a variety of choices in this three-week eating plan that really will satisfy most everybody. There’s the ability to explore, people can alter the recipes a bit. Some people don't like cilantro, some people do. Some people hate mushrooms, some people like them. I think people will find it pleasing. They come right out of my kitchen. They’re not gourmet recipes out of my restaurant that might challenge people. It would be practical. And I think at the end of three weeks, maybe a few pounds less, maybe a little bit clearer skin, maybe a little better digestive track with less heartburn and easier bowel movement. These will be some of the expectations people could actually expect to see happen.
Allan (27:23): As I look at and think about all the different eating styles that are out there – and they're coming up with new ones every day, it seems like – I just want to put this out there, that vegetables have to be a core of our diet. They are going to be what's providing us with the nutrition, the fiber, all the things that are going to keep us healthy. So any move that you can make towards a more plant-based, and by that we mean whole food, plant-based diet – I believe is a helpful decision. I really appreciate the opportunity to review your book. Like I said, it had me thinking through things, at times just stopping to meditate on them. I learned a lot and I really appreciate the opportunity to have you on the podcast. If someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about the book, where would you like for me to send them?
Dr. Kahn (28:10): Probably the central point where I live on the web is my website, DrJoelKahn.com. Lots of blogs, lots of YouTube connections, Twitter connections, Instagram connections, Facebook connections. Then the book is there, and that’s the fifth book I've written. There will be more. I enjoy the process of writing blogs and writing books. And I appreciate it too. Like you say, the worst meal with a salad is a dramatically better meal. The worst pizza piled up with arugula, green peppers, garlic and onion is a far better choice. And you can learn to say, “Actually the part here that’s really good for you is if I take the cheese off and leave the marinara and all the vegetables.” You’ll actually have an amazing platform for health. So it's a process. For most people, inch by inch it’s a cinch, yard by yard it’s hard. Not a bad place to be, but get going, start today. Eat more plants, eat less animals. Save the world by closing down these CAFOs. These are real issues right now today.
Allan (29:19): I agree. So this is episode 329. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/329 and I'll make sure to have a link to Dr. Khan's website and whatnot there. Dr. Khan, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Kahn (29:36): Thank you. And 40+ is really the time when the body starts to kick back from the habits during those first decades, and there couldn't be a better title or why a whole food, plant-based diet like the plant-based solution is a path to getting your mojo back. Maybe that'll be in my next book.
Allan (29:56): You have some very intriguing titles, I have to say that. Again, thank you, Dr. Kahn.
Dr. Kahn (30:02): Thank you, sir.
Allan (30:08): I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Dr. Khan. I think we can all agree that there is room for more plant-based foods on our plate each night and each day. Do take to heart the things you learned today and try to apply them in your life. And if you got something valuable from today's episode, I'd really appreciate if you would go to iTunes and tell me about it in a review. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Review, and that'll give you an opportunity to give us a rating. I hope you give us a 5-star, and you can give us a review. So if there's something you took special out of today's episode, I really would appreciate if you take the time to go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Review and leave that short review today. Thank you.
Also, I really want to encourage you to join our Facebook group. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Group, and that's a great place for you to generally interact with me. If you have questions, that's a really good place to be. It's a lot of likeminded people and a great opportunity for you to share your winds, ask your questions, and really have a very supportive group of people that all want the same thing that you do, and that's to be healthier and more fit while we're over 40.
And then finally, I want to apologize – I had put a link in the show a couple of weeks ago for an opportunity to have a 15-minute session with me. I inadvertently blew up on the tech. Apparently I didn't flip a certain button, and as a result people got some errors when they were trying to go through that link. And I sincerely apologize about that. It was a little technical glitch, it's my fault, so I do apologize about it. But if you go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Talk, that's actually going to take you to some spots I've put on my calendar to have a specific answer session with you. So if there are some questions you've got about health and fitness, some topics you want me to talk about on the podcast, this is the place to go. Just go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Talk. It'll allow you to book a 15-minute time with me, and then we'll go ahead and get on the phone or on Zoom and we'll have that conversation. So, go ahead and go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Talk, and we can have a conversation about the things that matter most to you.
Short of that, I do hope that you enjoyed the podcast, and I do want to see you back here next week. Next time on the 40+ Fitness podcast, we'll discuss modes of transportation. How are you going to get through your wellness journey? Until then, have a happy and healthy day.
Our guest today is the founder and CEO of Steviva Brands – one of the largest importers, manufacturers and distributors of natural sweeteners. He is a self-described biohacker, and he’s made his life work trying to figure out ways to get people off of sugar. Today we’re going to talk about his book, Guy Gone Keto, and his journey from finding himself a busy executive who was not taking care of himself to being as healthy as he can be. I know you’re going to enjoy this conversation, so with no further ado, here’s Thom King.
Allan (1:15): Thom, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Thom King (1:21): Thanks, Allan. I appreciate you having me on your show. It’s truly an honor. So thank you.
Allan (1:28): So, the book today we’re going to talk about is Guy Gone Keto, and I really enjoyed the book from the perspective of your story and how it really did in a sense parallel mine, although I think you fast-tracked a lot better than I did in getting from the decision point to actually making things happen. Mine took nearly eight years; yours took slightly over a year. But we both were sitting in what I would call a very miserable state and we were frustrated with that, and we made a decision that we were going to change that. I happened to be in Puerto Vallarta when I did mine; you happened to be in Las Vegas. Would you mind sharing your story about that and how that frustration then led to your change?
Thom King (2:19): It was definitely frustration, but I think that the biggest part was just being disappointed in myself and feeling like I had poor integrity. I run a food ingredient company and we cater to ketogenic products and sports nutrition, and I was exceptionally unhealthy. My blood pressure was 199 over 99 and I was 35 pounds heavier than I am now. I was drinking a bottle of wine every night and eating bread and cookies and all sorts of garbage. I think I bottomed out when I was in Las Vegas. I was there for a trade show. I went to dinner with a client and way overate, had a couple of glasses of wine, came back to the room. The room that I stayed in smelt like stale booze and regret. And I found myself waking up the next morning, not feeling really great and looking in the mirror and seeing really how fat I was and how disgusted I was with myself. And at that point, I think that the pain of being out of integrity and the pain of my sloth and overweightness exceeded the pleasure that I was deriving from drinking too much wine and eating too many sweets and carbohydrates. So at that point I just told myself, “This is the end. I’m going to be making a major shift in my lifestyle.” That’s when I got on board with leading a ketogenic lifestyle from that point forward.
Allan (4:10): Okay. And I like the way that you approach that. It’s a unique way to approach it, where you’re talking about the pain of failure is greater than the value you’re getting from the activities you’re doing. I’ll be honest with everyone here – when I go to a tailgate, I drink the beer and I hang out. I typically try to get a higher quality beer, but I drink the beer nonetheless and know that I’m not going to feel so great. But the social interaction in those events – I actually do feel they are valuable enough to me at this point in my life that I don’t want to forego those. So I go through what I call my “feasting period”, where I back away from keto a little bit. I’m really interested in your thought patterns around using pain as a leverage tool to get something going, to basically make you change something in your life.
Thom King (5:11): For me, pain is the great teacher. I don’t avoid pain. I probably seek it out more than I avoid it. I think that human beings are driven by two things. I think they’re driven by the avoidance of pain and they are driven by seeking pleasure. If you’re seeking pleasure and the pleasure that you’re seeking is drinking too much, eating too much, whatever habit you’ve got – if you’re able to really attach pain to that, like when you take a look at, “Is eating this donut going to be painful or is it going to be enjoyable?” It’ll be enjoyable for that first few minutes, but if you really are mindful and present in what you’re doing, you can take a good look at what eating the donut really means. It’s going to raise your blood sugar level, it’s going to contribute to metabolic disease. It’s also going to lead to lower self-esteem, because are you going to really feel good about yourself after you eat the donut? If you start associating so much pain with something that you’re deriving pleasure from, once the pain exceeds the pleasure, you’ll be able to break that habit.
Allan (6:41): I liked your example of a donut, because I don’t have the same draw to a donut, and I know the reward is not worth the pain. For me the time with family and friends, and the socializing aspects of all of it, and not being that guy that’s not having the beer – to me is a little different. But I get that, particularly if you’re in a bad state and if you’re looking to improve yourself. It’s a very stoic kind of approach to thinking about how to solve that problem.
Thom King (7:12): Yeah, and I do derive a lot of that from stoicism. One of my daily practices is to read from The Daily Stoic, and I do leverage that quite a bit. So, being able to find answers in pain and in situations that are challenging – that’s part of my routine.
Allan (7:39): I have a copy of that book sitting on my desk right here, along with your book. Now, in the book Guy Gone Keto, you have your first steps. I really liked your approach to this. I really liked how you lay this out, that these are the things that need to be going through your mind, this is what you need to be doing to get this whole process going. In the case of the book, we’re talking about getting ourselves into ketosis, but I think this really applies to anytime you want to address a health or fitness issue.
Thom King (8:14): Definitely. Anything that you do want to achieve – it’s being able to set the goal. I think it is creating the intention and really being able to outline the outcome you’re looking for. And then on top of that, using a lot of data collection so you can see where you started and where you’re going. If you can see progress and you’re starting to see yourself getting closer to the outcome that you’re looking for, those are the best first steps that you can take.
Allan (8:52): There was another thing you had in here that I liked, and this is really something that’s hard for people to wrap their minds around when they want to lose weight. They want that 35 pounds or 55 pounds gone tomorrow. And I can say from my start to finish of when I really got committed and started doing the right things, it started with the Paleo, found myself naturally in ketosis, started reading on what ketosis is and then really bear down on that. But this was not something that just happened in a day or a week, or even a month. It took me nearly 11 months to really drop that kind of weight. So it was a slow progression – a few plateaus, but just a slow progression. I like how in the book you explain to us why going slow is important.
Thom King (9:43): I think that if people are looking to lose weight fast, that’s more of a diet situation. I also think that’s pretty unhealthy, because I think that if you adopt a diet, you’re going to get yo-yo weight. So you’re going to be on the diet, you’re going to lose the weight, then you’re going to go off the diet, you’re going to gain the weight back, and maybe a little bit more. So that’s the big difference. There’s a difference between diet and adopting a particular lifestyle. I think that if you adopt the particular lifestyle, it becomes more about the process than the outcome. You can definitely define the outcome – say, “I want to lose 35 pounds”, but the process is what you do every day to get there. And I would say don’t be in a hurry, don’t lose the weight too fast. Lose it a pound at a time, because if you lose a whole bunch of weight really fast, you’re going to be dealing with other issues like loose, saggy skin, and also it’s very taxing on your liver. So take your time and immerse yourself in the process, and then naturally the outcome will manifest itself.
Allan (11:06): Cool. Now, I do want to get into a little bit of discussion about ketosis. One of the things that you also had in your first steps was to avoid the high glycemic foods, because those are definitely not going to allow us to be in ketosis, but they’re also the items that are going to spike our blood sugar and get us to a point where we’re not able to lose weight or keep ourselves from potentially gaining weight.
Thom King (11:38): The shift from getting into ketosis is your body actually shifting from burning glucose as a form of energy to burning fat as a source of energy. So the ketogenic lifestyle or ketogenic diet basically is 70% fat, 20% proteins, and 10% vegetables. And these vegetables are going to be green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. Basically if it grows underground, meaning a potato or a carrot or something like that, those are going to tend to be more on the high-glycemic end. So you’ve got this pretty big option of food that you can eat.
Allan (12:26): Yeah. When we start talking about these types of macros, it’s easy to think that you’re in that macro range, but if you’re really not paying attention to what you’re eating, you can easily slide one way or the other and not get the benefits that you’re after. This leads me to the next area I want to talk about, which is journaling. I’ve had clients that were on the calls or with me and they’re saying, “Allan, I just don’t understand it. I’m eating really, really well and I don’t understand why I’m not losing the weight. I’m doing the exercises, I’m eating well. Everything is going great.” I’m like, “Get yourself a notebook and start a journal.”
Thom King (13:12): 100%. That’s the data collection part of your journey. Definitely go out, buy yourself a journal and start doing data collection. Do data collection on how much you weigh, what your ketones are, what your blood sugar level is. This is a process, and the more data collection you do and the more you journal, the more you’re going to find the areas where you can make improvements. If you’re writing down everything that you ate in a day and you think, “I’m eating 2,000 calories a day. I’m probably burning 2,200 calories a day, so I’m at a 200-calorie deficit” – that might not be true at all, because particularly when you’re eating keto, a lot of the stuff that you’re eating is going to be high fat, and when it’s high fat, it means it’s high calories. So, you might have some almonds in the palm of your hand – it might be 5 to 10 almonds – you’re looking at about 200 calories there. So when you start writing these things down and understanding where the holes are, you can really plug the dike.
Allan (14:24): One almond is basically 16 calories, so if you’re off by one almond, that could be potentially 10 pounds of weight gain in a year. It’s not that you have to be exact, because calories are not really ever exact, or their estimates anyway, but you go three weeks and track what you’ve eaten, the volumes you’ve eaten, and you really pay attention to those numbers – you’re going to get to a point where you understand 2,000 calories is maybe a little too much, or maybe you need 2,500 because you’re losing weight a little too fast. So, taking the time to write those things down, and even to go further than just the data collection is, how do you feel when you wake up? What’s your energy level throughout the day? Do you find yourself needing to take a nap at 2:00 in the afternoon? How much coffee are you drinking now? Are you getting your electrolytes? Are you getting enough salt and enough water? There’s so much that a journal will allow you to collect and understand about yourself, to include your mood and your stress. I press it on with my clients all the time, that I do think a journal is a great tool for anyone that’s looking to make a change or at least understand why they are where they are.
Thom King (15:39): Absolutely. I don’t just use my journal for tracking macros and my behavior, but I also use my journal to set the stage for my day. I do write down what are the things that I’m most grateful for today, and what am I going to do today to make this day great and excellent? And then I just end it with an affirmation of, “With every breath I take in, I attract and create abundance and health and wellness in my life. And with each exhale I lovingly release any and all self-limiting beliefs that no longer serve me.” Combining that with breathing exercises, I found that journaling is something that I must do every day.
Allan (16:32): Yes, and I’m doing it. I wish I were better at doing it all the time, but that’s one of those practices that I really struggle with. But when I’m doing it, I feel so much better organized, I feel so much more complete and like I have everything together with my relationships, my food, my sleep, with all of it. So I do think it’s a great practice to understand what’s going on, to have a path forward and to be always affecting change. So if you’re someone that’s in the continuous improvement model with your life, a journal is a must have.
Thom King (17:14): Absolutely. It’s a daily event for me.
Allan (17:19): We talked a little bit about calories, and for a lot of folks, they’ll say, “They’re telling me I’ve got to cut the sugars and I’ve got to cut calories.” But as we call it down in the South – they love their Coke, which down here “Coke” just means any soda. So you come down here and you want to order a soft drink, you just ask for a Coke, and then they’ll ask you what flavor. You have to repeat yourself and say, “Coke, just a regular Coke.” And you’ll wonder why you had to repeat yourself – because “Coke” is just our word for soda, or a soft drink, or pop or whatever you want to call it. So they’ll say, “That’s one of the easy cuts. Immediately I’m going to give up my pop, my soda, my Coke, and I’m going to move over to this diet soda, because the diet soda has zero calories. So it’s the perfect drink because it tastes almost like the regular thing. And once I get used to it it’ll be fine. And it has no calories.” So they go into this mindset of, “This is the diet drink. This is what I need.” And they’ll say “diet” or “light” – “This is what I need to drink.” Can you tell us why that’s not necessarily the best path to health?
Thom King (18:30): I do a lot of experiments on myself. I would consider myself a bit of a biohacker. So, I was drinking a lot of Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi, thinking that it’s going to help me maintain good blood sugar levels, it’ll keep me in ketosis. But what I found is that if I was drinking diet soda at night, when I wake up the next morning, my blood sugar level would be elevated, and I was having a hard time getting myself into deep nutritional ketosis. So, I just conducted a little bit of an experiment and I also talked to a couple of PhDs about what’s potentially going on with diet soda. I’ve tested blood sugar before, blood sugar after, same with ketones. And I found that diet soda that contains aspartame or sucralose, which is Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi – that those will actually elevate my blood sugar levels and they will slightly decrease the amount of ketone bodies. And when I talked to a couple of doctors about it, what came up for them is that your body doesn’t recognize these manmade chemicals. It recognizes that it’s sweet, but it doesn’t recognize them because we don’t have the receptors for them. With Stevia or monk fruit, with natural high intensity sweeteners, our body recognizes it because we’ve got the receptors to recognize it, so it says, “This is Stevia, or this is monk fruit. This tastes sweet, but it’s not impacting blood sugar levels at all. This is how we’ll metabolize it.” But with aspartame and sucralose, your brain doesn’t recognize it. We don’t have receptors for it, which means that your body is basically going to function like you just had sugar, and the only benefit that you could get from chemically-sweetened soft drinks is the calorie abatement, but you’re still going to get a rise in your blood sugar level and you’re still going to get your ketone levels to drop, because your body doesn’t know what it is.
Allan (20:46): So, even though it’s not sugar and even though it’s zero calorie, it’s doing a sugar-like thing to you. Or maybe not exactly like sugar, but it’s changing your metabolism by causing your insulin and sugar responses to kind of go out of whack.
Thom King (21:05): Absolutely. And I’ve done this experiment several times. Occasionally, I’ll indulge myself with a Diet Coke – I love Diet Coke – but I do so with the knowledge that it is going to probably take me out of ketosis and it is probably going to raise my blood sugar levels a little bit. The fact that it doesn’t have any calories is a plus, but when you’re leading a ketogenic lifestyle, the goal is to keep yourself above, say, 0.6 to 1.5 millimoles of ketone bodies. So, there’s going to be a cost to it. But there are plenty of good replacements out there, like Zevia. Zevia is a soft drink that’s made with Stevia and it’s actually really good. If I’m going to indulge with a diet soft drink, I will certainly go with something that’s naturally sweetened over something that’s artificially sweetened.
Allan (22:09): When I moved away from Diet Coke, I was definitely an addict. Getting away from it was painful. So it’s not easy, but I did replace that with the green teas and coffee and things like that. There are now some products that are Stevia-based that are really good, if you want to continue the Cola route. There’s also tea and coffee, or good old water.
Thom King (22:37): When you’re on a ketogenic diet, drinking plenty of water is really important. You want to keep your body definitely hydrated, so your kidneys aren’t working overtime.
Allan (22:50): That is a big, big thing that a lot of folks struggle with ketosis. They get what they think is hunger, and the reality of it is either they’re not getting enough water or they’re not getting enough electrolytes. Once they figure that out for themselves, they’re so much better off and they have so much more energy.
Thom King (23:10): Absolutely, and that is key. I do keep little packets of electrolytes, and I have an app on my phone that reminds me to drink water every hour.
Allan (23:20): And then there is your journal, so full circle.
Thom King (23:24): It’s true. I hold myself accountable.
Allan (23:27): Good deal. Thom, if someone wanted to get to know you, get to know more about Guy Gone Keto and all the other things you’re doing, because you’ve got a lot going on – where would you like for me to send them?
Thom King (23:43): You can find me on any and all socials under Guy Gone Keto. You could also find me personally on all of the socials, and that’s Thom King PDX, as in Portland. My personal website is ThomKing.com. And my company is Steviva Brands, and you can go to Steviva.com. Yeah, any of the socials, and feel free to reach out, direct message me. I’m available to answer anybody’s questions.
Allan (24:25): I will have all of those links and all those social media outputs available in the show notes. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/328 and find all of those links there. Thom, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Thom King (24:41): Allan, it was an absolute pleasure. It was an honor to be on your podcast.
Allan (24:47): Thank you.
I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Thom. I know I did. The similarities in some of our storylines and the things that we went through were very, very interesting. And it’s also interesting that both of us found keto as a way to address our issues. It turns out July for me is becoming this month of book editing. It’s not fun; I don’t really enjoy the process of doing the editing of something that I wrote or said. And as I go through it, it’s a struggle, but I’m seeing the book come to life and that’s really, really exciting. I’m calling the book The Wellness Roadmap. I’m going to start putting together a page for that real soon. It’ll probably be at WellnessRoadmap.net. If you go out there right now, you probably won’t find too much, but I am putting that together and it’s just really exciting to see a book come together. We’re working through cover art and we’re talking about layout, and we’re, of course, dealing with pages and pages of text.
But it got me to thinking, there are certain things that are true in life. If you want something, it’s not always a direct path. You can’t necessarily be a better human, can’t do the things you always want to do just by doing them. I like playing volleyball, but I know that I’m not going to be as good a volleyball player if I don’t put in the time to do other things – some of the things that we don’t like, like sweating or lifting weights or when the weather doesn’t let us get outside, doing our runs on a treadmill. There are going to be those times when there are things that we don’t enjoy, that we should still do to improve our health.
One of the caveats out there, “What’s the best exercise?”, and the answer that’s typically given is, “The one you’ll do.” I completely, wholeheartedly agree with that. When we were looking at cover art, there was one with the couple being relatively athletic on the page, I said that people might not like that. They might not like that you have to do workouts to get the things you want. And you don’t “have to”, but if you want optimal health, if you want true wellness, then sometimes you are going to probably have to do a few things that you don’t enjoy. I want you to think about those things from the perspective of why you’re trying to get where you’re trying to get, and it does make those things just a little more tolerable. So, do the things you don’t want to do when it’s getting you to a place where you want to be – that’s the short story of all that. So, I’m going to be spending a lot of time editing a book, even though it’s not the funnest thing for me. I am very excited about what it’s going to do when I’m done.
Also, this week I’m getting on a plane to New London, Connecticut. Actually flying into Boston, and I think it’s about a 2.5-hour drive from there. Then I’m going to go to New London, Connecticut – 20th to the 22nd I’ll be there. If you’re in the area, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll be glad to catch a coffee or a drink with you. Let’s have a good time, let’s get to know each other. I really like talking to people that have heard the podcast and get your advice on some things that I can do better as a podcaster and as a coach.
And I’ll talk about coaching. I mentioned this last week – I’m looking for clients, I want to help you do this. If you’re looking for a coach, you think you might get some value from a coach – let’s talk about it. I know a lot of this is you go online, you see a forum, you see a page. I’m not a pressure salesman. I’m not going to say, “Do this or else.” I see a lot of that. I see a lot of, “Lose 20 pounds in three weeks and…” And that’s great – you can lose 20 pounds in three weeks. It’s completely possible. It’s not healthy and it’s not going to make you well. It’s going to make you thinner, but it’s not necessarily going to make you well.
I, as a coach, try to empower my clients. I try to teach my clients and I help my clients, and as a result they get well. And that’s what I want for you. So if you’re on the fence, you think this is something that might be good for you, you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com – I’ve got some information there. I can tell you about all the programs I have if you want to know. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Talk, and that’s going to take you to a calendar link, where you can actually book a 15-minute block of time and we can just talk. We can talk through whatever issues you’re dealing with, whatever your health concerns are, whatever your fitness goals are. We can talk through what they are and make a decision if coaching is right for you. It’s not right for everybody, but I can tell you having someone there to keep you accountable, someone there coaching you, teaching you, empowering you to take your fitness journey, your health journey, your wellness journey to the next level – I think there’s a lot of value there that you might be missing out on. So I’d encourage you to go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Talk and learn more today. Thank you. Next time on the 40+ Fitness podcast, we meet Dr. Joel Kahn and discuss his book, The Plant-Based Solution. Until then, have a happy and healthy week.
Allan (0:00): On episode 327 of the 40+ Fitness podcast, we meet Dr. Ben Lynch and discuss his book Dirty Genes, a breakthrough program to treat the root cause of illness and optimize your health. You can find the full show notes for this episode at FortyPlusFitnessPodcast.com/327.
Allan (0:50): Our guest today received his doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University. He has supported thousands of clients and trained thousands of physicians and health professionals across the globe in using insights from epigenetics to optimize health. He is the founder of Seeking Health – a company that helps educate both the public and health professionals on how to overcome genetic dysfunction through diet, lifestyle, and supplements. I bring you Dr. Ben Lynch. Dr. Lynch, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Lynch (1:20): Great to be here, Allan.
Allan (1:22): Your book, Dirty Genes – and I’m sure that was somewhat of a play on words – but it was really interesting to me as I got into the book that my eye color is because of my genes. I had a receding hairline when I was younger, and now I shave my head. That’s a part of what my genes were. So what we were taught in school about our genes and how they define who we are – it makes it seem like you can take them almost like they were a predestination, like this is who we’re going to be, this is what we’re going to be. But when it comes to our actual health, we have a lot of say in what our genes do or don’t do for us.
Dr. Lynch (2:11): 100%. I had the same exact philosophy as we all did back in the day. It’s like, “Oh God, what was our family history? Oh, I’m next.” And now it’s totally the opposite. It’s as malleable as Play-Doh, almost. Nice, new Play-Doh. As we get older, our genes are about as malleable as old Play-Doh, but the good news is we have different symptoms that come and go every day. Some days we’re more tired, some days we’re full of energy, other days we’re grumpy and don’t really want to meet anybody, other days we want to go party hard. Our genes are responsive for that, but they’re responding to the things that we are providing them. We’re giving them either the tools that they want to use and perform, or we’re giving them hindrances and roadblocks and they’re saying, “Dang it, now I can’t get my job done.” Because that’s all genes do. They just do work, and we better give them the right tools to do it.
Allan (3:15): This is not going to mean anything to anyone unless they owned a computer back in the 1980s. But if you owned a personal computer back in the 1980s, they had this series of dip switches in the back. You could turn them on and turn them off. When you first get your computer and you’re trying to set it all up, it wasn’t as simple as just plug-and-play and some of the things we have today. You had to almost have a computer science engineering degree to sit down and know how those dip switches work. Our genes are in many ways the same thing, that you can basically turn a gene on or off. And the series of them all working together can create, for lack of a better word, a symphony. It can make us very, very healthy or very, very sick. Can you go through just a little brief description of what epigenetics is all about and what this “on switch, off switch” stuff is all really working for?
Dr. Lynch (4:10): I’ve related our bodies to a symphony before, where we are the conductor, and the orchestra are the genes. Actually they’re not their genes. I’m forgetting my analogy, how it worked. It was so good when I presented on it. But you could have a great sounding orchestra or band, or you could have a horrible sounding band. And it could be because the instruments aren’t tuned, and it could be because the player isn’t very good, or all of the above.
Epigenetics is simply how our genes are responding to the environment. “Epi” means “above”, and genetics is genetics. So it literally is “above the genetics”, and that doesn’t really help you out that much, but what you need to know is genes are buried inside your nucleus, which is buried inside your cell, and your cell contains all this stuff inside a cell membrane. The cell membranes have these antennas or receptors and they’re constantly sensing their environment around them. From that, there’s hormones, neurotransmitters, vitamins and stuff floating around. Ultimately when we eat something or see, hear, taste, or touch something – we are sending signals that get all the way down to the surface of the cell, which sends a signal down into the nucleus, which tells certain genes to turn on, certain genes to turn off, and they produce something because of that. When we touch a hot stove, we immediately go, “Ow”, right? And that is a very, very quick response; it’s nerve response. But we also have neuro transmitters in our brain fire because of that, where we get stressed out and we get a flood of norepinephrine probably. That is all responses from our environment and our perception of it.
Allan (6:25): There are hundreds of thousands of genes throughout our body and they’re all going to respond differently. Some are going to have very little effect, as far as what we would notice, because they are doing something not benign, but something that’s probably very important, just not something that overall we’re going to see a huge, huge benefit. But there are seven, and you call them the “Super Seven”. Do you mind going through those? As I was reading through them, the first one – the methylation gene – I’m very familiar with that one because everybody likes to talk about that one. And it’s very, very important – don’t get me wrong – but there are six others that I think also are. This is I think where it really connected for me is, when I first got your book and I said, “Okay, we’re going to talk about genes.” And I was almost immediately like, “I should send him my 23andMe and say, ‘Tell me, Doc, what do I have to look forward to in the next 5, 10, 15, 50 years?’” But then as I got into the book, I’m like, “This is not something where you just do a 23andMe kind of thing and say, ‘This is everything.’” There’s a lot more going on, but these seven really are the defining ones that for most of us, if we can address these seven, we’re going to live a lot better.
Dr. Lynch (7:47): A lot better. And there’s a whole bunch of reasons why I picked these seven. The biggest reason is because when you support these seven, they help clean up all the other genes in your body. You have to find genes that are one, well-researched; two, I had to have enough clinical experience with them; three, you have to be able to support them through basic lifestyle habits and supplementation and environmental changes; and four, they had to make a huge impact in day-to-day life. Those are the reasons why I picked these seven. And there are approximately 19,000 to 20,000 some genes in the human body, and there are millions of genetic variations. So there are a lot of things that you can choose from, but I just picked genes in general. I didn’t pick snips, I didn’t pick mutations, I didn’t pick variations. I picked genes, period. Because if you understand how the genes work, that’s what you need to understand.
These Super Seven – their jobs are massively important. One gene – MTHFR – it’s the master of methylation. And what that means is that it helps control over 200 other genes, which affects your ability to think, sleep, and support your cardiovascular system, support your cell membrane production. If your cell membranes are not healthy, it’s like you’re not having skin on your body. It’s that important. You’ve got to have healthy cell membranes or you’re in trouble. Then you have COMT, and COMT’s job is to help really process your estrogen levels, in men too. It also helps process your dopamine and norepinephrine, and that’s really important. And then it also helps process your epinephrine, so your neurotransmitters. And then I can work faster or slower, and there’s pros and cons to that. There’s another gene called DAO, and this one lives primarily in your digestive system, and its job is to break down histamine. Histamine is this compound that is very, very common in the population, where it’s elevated. When you have high histamine, you’ve got seasonal allergies, itchy, scratchy, skin, you can’t sleep, you’re irritable, you get migraines, headaches, nose bleeds, rashes, urticaria, psoriasis, eczema, diarrhea, acid reflux, low blood pressure. These are really, really common problems. You get bit by a mosquito and you’re super, super itchy. Exercise-induced asthma, asthma – that’s majorly impacted by this gene, which is in your gut and it’s very easily dirtied. And then there’s another one called MAO, and MAO also works for neurotransmitters. A really big one for serotonin, which is kind of your feel-good, happy neurotransmitter, like dopamine, but it also is needed for your melatonin for sleep. And then you have PEMT, which really no one talks about, and PEMT’s job is to help make your cell membranes. It’s kind of a tag team with MTHFR; they all kind of tag team each other. Throughout the book I interweave them and explain how and why. It helps make your cell membranes and it also helps make your bile, which is this product your liver makes so you can absorb fats and kill bad bugs in your small intestine, hence small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. So if you have SIBO or struggling with gut issues, PEMT is a factor that a lot of people need to start digging into more, and a lot of doctors don’t know the connection there. Then we’ve got NOS3, and this one’s super important. If any of those other six genes are dirty, this NOS3 gene is dirty. It’s very, very sensitive. And if it gets dirty, you have neurological issues, mental issues, and cardiovascular issues. And cardiovascular disease is the number one killer for women. There’s so much emphasis on breast cancer, and there should be, but the number one killer actually in women is cardiovascular disease. And this gene has a big, big role to play here.
Allan (12:23): Okay. And then there was the GST.
Dr. Lynch (12:27): I forgot one.
Allan (12:28): That’s alright. I’m here to help.
Dr. Lynch (12:30): I appreciate that. So, glutathione – so GST/GPX. It’s kind of a tag team, these two. It’s a Super Eight, but that doesn’t sound good. Super Seven sounds better.
Allan (12:42): It has to be an odd number.
Dr. Lynch (12:44): Yeah, it’s got to be an odd number for Feng Shui in the book. So, we combine these two because I was just doing GST or GPX alone, and I could not write the chapter effectively. I kept intertwining them and it was like, “It doesn’t work”, so I combined them both. Glutathione is your body’s number one antioxidant. When you’re fighting an infection, the cleanup crew is glutathione to clean up all the mess. If you’re exercising and you have really bad post workout soreness, glutathione levels are probably low and you probably need to support those. When you have asthma, you are struggling with low glutathione . When you have exposures to chemicals in the environment, which we all do, especially formaldehyde. It’s everywhere – in our building materials and furniture, and your clothing, your carpets, your cabinets, your mattresses. When you’re breathing this, you’re using up your glutathione, and that gene is very, very easily dirtied. And if your glutathione levels get low, you’re in trouble, period. All the other genes are dirty too.
Allan (14:00): I think that’s one of the things that you did really, really well in the book, was you took something that I would say might be one of the most complex topics in the health and fitness arena, and you made it relatively simple. There is a lot of interplay and a lot of complexity to this, but you did a really good job in the book, at least in my opinion, of making this attainable, making this something we can wrap our heads around. I think it’s because we all like these very simple rules. “If this, then that” health and fitness rules seem to be kind of the rage. “If you cut your calories, you’re going to lose weight. If you eat this supplement, then you’re going to have this result”. And so a lot of people are out looking for those very, very simple, “What’s something I can do?” One that typically comes up for me with a lot of my clients is, “What supplements should I be taking?” And I always have to caution them to start with the food. Let’s get better food, because that’s going to give you 99% of what you need. And then if there’s a reason, we can look at these other supplements as just that, a supplement. However, in particular with the first gene – the methylation gene – folate is a big deal, and we want to make sure that we’re getting adequate folate. That’s leafy greens and things like that. But we really struggle with our vegetables, so the simple thing is, “Let’s go pop one of these benign pills. Let’s get our vitamins that way.” And so they get the multivitamin with the folic acid. And I told you this just before we started here – I had to put the book down because I got angry. I can’t believe that the vitamin manufacturers are allowed to feed us this stuff. Can you take just a moment to explain folate, why it’s important, and actually what the difference is between that and folic acid?
Dr. Lynch (16:01): You share a lot of great points here. First of all, I’m glad you got irritated and pissed off, and second, I’m sorry that you did that because you dirtied your genes from doing that.
Allan (16:14): I know, I know.
Dr. Lynch (16:16): But folate is one of those things that isn’t very sexy. You eat a salad; it’s not like biting into a big dark decadent chocolate cake and getting that sugar rush. Eating a salad tastes good, but it’s not exciting to make, it’s not exciting to eat, but it’s super, super important and super fundamental. One of the things we forget all the time is, we are animals. We should be outside like all the other ones that are out there. Every other animal’s outside and they are grazing, they are foraging, they are harvesting, they are storing. And we don’t. We eat processed foods that fill the void and stick a lot of neurotransmitters because food scientists get it right, to do wrong.
Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate. What you need to know about folate is, I think it’s Latin – “folar”, if I’m not mistaken, or “folium”, and it means “leaf”, “foliage”. So it’s pretty simple, that folate comes from green, leafy vegetables – the darker the green, the more folate typically. It also is found in liver and some other foods as well, like beans, but it’s not very absorbable. So you can get folate from food. If you’re reading the book and you just found out you have an MTHFR variant, and you’re told to run out and take a supplement – no, just eat more leafy greens, because leafy greens are helping you out. What you do need to do is stop taking a supplement, more importantly, and that is folic acid. That’s what irritated you so much from reading that in the book. Folic acid is one of those things that was literally invented by humans, because we decided, geniusly, to have basically bread flour, stripped of all nutrients, so it’ll live on the shelf longer. It’s great for business, it’s great for convenience, but you are literally eating dust without nutritional value. And we had a lot of issues with that from history, and they figured out, “We’re actually getting a lot of birth defects and fertility issues, so we have to fix this problem. Instead of stripping the nutrients anymore from the grains, we’re going to synthesize a nutrient that looks very close to the body’s natural form of folate.” And they did a great job. It’s so close to the natural form of folate that is recognized by the human body, that it does get well absorbed and it does bind to folate receptors, and it does get bound to the transportation systems in our bodies to carry the folate around. The problem is, it does it too well, and it sticks to them. It’s like, if you have honey on your fingers and you’re trying to type on your keyboard, or you’ve ever made dough and you need to add more flour on the counter, otherwise it’s sticking. This synthetic folic acid really binds strongly to your receptors and also your folate-binding proteins.
What does all that mean? I’ll give you an example. If you have a car key or a house key, and you insert the key into your door, you unlock it and you go inside. You try to take your key out, and you do, and you put it on the key hooks right inside your door – you’re good. But if you go later on and you stick your key in the door, you unlock it, and you try to take the key out again – you can’t, it’s stuck. So folic acid is the key, and the doorknob is the receptor or the folate-binding protein. You need to have that folate dock and get off, dock and get off. But what happens is that folic acid has no human physiological benefit at all in the human body. It has to be transformed into something that’s usable, and that requires genes. And the genes in the human beings do not work fast to process folic acid. It’s extremely slow. Very, very slow. All the research that was done on folic acid was done on rats, and rats can process folic acid, no problem. Humans, on the other hand – very, very slow. There are genetic variations in this gene called DHFR that are known to be very, very slow at processing folic acid, and they’re very common actually. So if you’re an individual and you’re consuming folic acid and you have symptoms, the first thing you need to do is stop taking the folic acid. It’s literally gumming up your genetics and your whole body. It’s going to affect your neurotransmission, your cardiovascular system, your detoxification, your hair, your nails, your blood cells – white blood cells, red blood cells. It’s going to affect all that. So you get rid of it. The good thing is, they’ll get out of your system in about, I would say two weeks. Your genes will get rid of it and it’ll be gone. Another good thing is folic acid is typically found in processed foods, so if you limit your processed food intake, you’re also reducing your folic acid intake. So it’s kind of a double benefit there by avoiding folic acid.
Allan (21:59): Like I said, that’s what really frustrated me, was, they’re selling you a fortified breakfast cereal. It has all the vitamins and minerals that a growing body needs, and now we’re eating that and /or we’re feeding that to our children. We’re taking our supplements, because that’s what we think we’re supposed to do, and really it’s not doing us any good, and in fact actually harming us. So that was really what frustrated me – just the whole concept of, we’re trying to do the right thing. We’re trying to fix our health and we think that the companies are out there providing us a tool to help us do that, but that tool is actually the key that sticks. And therefore we’re not actually improving our health, and in many cases we’re actually making it worse.
Dr. Lynch (22:49): Let me drive this point home with the final blow. And the final blow is, standard medicine knows that folic acid is bad. It does. When you dig hard enough in the research, looking for reasons why folic acid is bad, you find it. But very, very few people are actively looking for why folic acid is bad. I work hard on that, because I’m vehemently against it. In fact, I bought the domain FolicAcid.com for a lot of money to make this a public health issue. There are a lot of people that Google “folic acid”, so if I can make a website FolicAcid.com, and I will be, I’m going to be garnering a lot of attention and making a lot of noise with the help of social media. But the point that I want to make is that folic acid is a known contraindication, meaning do not do it for a condition called cerebral folate deficiency. What that means is, you have low levels of folate in your brain. You can have all the folate you want in your blood, but you have to get the folate into your brain. If you don’t, you have seizures, you have epileptic seizures, you have neurotransmitter deficiencies. You’re not making your dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, serotonin. You’re not generating that stuff, so big issues happen. When you have the condition of cerebral folate deficiency, which a lot of autistic children have, then folic acid is a known contraindication when that occurs, because they know that it’s going to cause further folate deficiency in the brain. You’re supposed to use a more active form of folate, called folinic acid or methylfolate, and everything is merry, and it’s pretty simple and pretty cheap.
Allan (24:47): Cool. Now, in your book, you have the 4-week Clean Gene Protocol. And I like this, because it takes something that’s relatively complex and it applies lifestyle choices for the vast majority of us to make sure that we are maximizing our opportunity with our genes. There is a quiz in the book where you can go through and ask yourself some questions. And it’s not just physical; there are some mood-based things in there as well, or tendencies, like if you have a tendency to be a little bit more focused or single-minded or a little bit more out there with the ADHD kind of stuff. Those are all indicators of your genes. But you put together a very simple protocol for us to go through over the course of four weeks. Do you mind taking some time to walk us through that protocol?
Dr. Lynch (25:41): Yeah, for sure. And I equate this to general cleanup. So, if you tell your kid to clean the room, or you’re going to clean the kitchen – you’re not going to clean the kitchen by unloading all the stuff in your cabinets and dusting the back of one cabinet, right? That’s something you do once every few years. But when people get their genetic tests done, that’s kind of what they’re doing. That’s how they’re cleaning their genes – they’re targeting one tiny little area that’s pretty insignificant, and it really doesn’t make any difference. When you want to clean your kitchen, you start with the dishes – they’re glaring there on the counter. You clean those, you put them away. Now you’ve got a huge improvement already. Then you tackle the counters. Counters are full of stuff. You put it away, put it in the cabinets, in the fridge. You throw the old stuff away and wipe the counters. Wow, now your kitchen’s looking really good. In fact, you can walk away.
So the biggest things I like to hit are the ones that are going to have the biggest impact. And you already hit it, Allan – that’s food. Genes do work, and if you give your genes healthy food, they can do healthy work. If you give your genes bad food, now you’re taking the genes that want to make your dopamine and norepinephrine, but they can’t because now you’ve eaten all this garbage food that is telling all these other genes to get to work and try to get it out of your system. Now you’re dealing with high blood sugar and you’ve got inflammation and you’ve got a yeast overgrowth, and all these other genes are triggering because of that. Instead, if you had a salad with a bit of protein and a bit of fat that would’ve been all nourishing, genes would have been firing, but they would have been healthy firing.
So you’ve got to start with healthy food and you also have to start with basically understanding that breathing is an automatic thing, the autonomic nervous system, but if you are not breathing properly, then your genes are very, very dirty. A simple a way to understand if you’re mouth-breathing or breathing poorly, is if your hands are routinely cold. If your hands are always cold, or your feet are always cold, or both, then you’re not breathing right. It’s that simple. If you change your breathing, you can warm up your hands and your feet very quickly, within minutes. I do it in conferences all the time with people. “Whose hands are cold?” 20% or 30% of the hands go up. And we’ll follow a certain exercise of closing their mouth, breathing through their nose slowly, out through their nose slowly. Then after a couple minutes I say, “Whose hands are much warmer?”, and about 50% of those people will already have a huge improvement. Breathing is super, super important. So food, breathing, hydration.
If you’re 1% dehydrated – just 1% – you’re becoming not only more fatigued, but you’re becoming dumber. A lot of people don’t understand this, Allan, that food provides energy and it also provides the necessary building blocks for things in our body, which our genes use to make things. But water is needed in order to make our energy work. It’s a conductor, so it has to be present. If you’re dehydrated, your energy levels literally decline. Just yesterday I walked into the house and I was like, “God, I’m tired.” And I opened the fridge looking for something to give me a perk up. I looked at my supplement shelf, looking for something to perk me up, and I was like, “No, that’s not it.” And so I reached for a glass, I filled it up with water. I drank a glass of water – bam! Within seconds I got my energy back and I was like, “Thank you. That was it.” So you’ve got to really tune in to yourself and understand and really figure out why you’re actually tired. For me, I kind of resonate and I look at things and I will pretend that I’d taken that supplement or I’ve eaten that food, and then I look at myself about 20, 30 minutes in the future and see if that was going to help me. It sounds kind of weird, but it really, really helps. But hydration is a huge one and you’ve got to hydrate with filtered water, not chlorinated water. So you’ve got to clean up your environment because you breathe 11,000 liters of air every day. So you’ve got to make sure that your air is clean.
That’s what I call the ABCs of clean genes – A is Avoidance. So avoidance of chemicals is number one, because if you breathe in a chemical, your genes are dirty. B is Breathe. If you’re not breathing, you’ve got issues. Those are probably the two biggest ones, and then C is Chew. A lot of people don’t chew their food, and our stomach doesn’t have teeth. A lot of people are stressed out, and if you’re stressed out, you’re not secreting stomach acid. And if you’re not secreting stomach acid, you’re not breaking the food down. Food contains what? If you’re eating healthy food, it contains nutrients that your body uses so your genes can work and build things. But if you’re stressed out, chewing quickly and eating garbage food, your genes aren’t getting any benefit. Breathing is primary, food would be secondary, and tertiary I would say your environment, and I would say air and water are equally important, because if you’re hydrating with dirty, polluted water out of the tap – no, don’t. I know it sounds not like these are big changes, and they’re not, which is the cool thing, but the impact you will feel is massive.
There was a couple that just recently shared in our Dirty Genes Facebook group. She said her husband is as a building contractor, he’s actually a plumber, and he was reading Dirty Genes, which was cool. And he went up to his wife and said, “You know what? I’m reading this book. And what it’s basically telling me is that my environment is super, super important, and if I don’t clean up my environment, my genes are going to be dealing with all these chemicals and not working on my health.” And he’s absolutely right. So he started changing his furnace filters, making them better. He got a water filter, he ripped out carpets, he ripped off flooring, he ripped out all sorts of stuff, and they immediately noticed benefits. So, it was pretty cool.
Allan (32:36): I think there are two things that really resonated with me with what you just talked about, the first being really having this self-awareness, slowing down just a little bit to say, “What makes me feel which way?” You talked about kind of looking into the future to get a view of where you’re going to be or how that was going to affect you. But you can only do that because you’ve got this experience where you actually paid attention. “When I drank water, I immediately felt energized. When I had this supplement, this is how it affected me.” So you’ve built sort of a user manual for yourself. I think that’s what I really liked about this book, was that it gave us some tools. It is probably even more complex than rocket science, but that said, from a lifestyle perspective, there are really basic, simple things we can do, and it is the nutrition, it’s our environment, it’s being sure that we’re breathing. And then wrapping that all around to that self-awareness. You put that all together and you now have a manual. And the four weeks that you have here for the clean gene – I think when people sit down and actually go through that four weeks, they’re going to feel so much better that it’s not just going to be four weeks.
Dr. Lynch (34:00): No. And that’s the other point of it. Our publisher said, “Ben, we need a 30-day or a 28-day program for people.” I just laughed when they told me that on the phone. I said, “Are you serious?” And he goes, “Yeah, we need a 30-day program.” I said this is a program to help people clean their genes for the rest of their life; this is not a 30-day thing. He goes, “It needs to be 30 days.” So we went back and forth, back and forth. And I said some people are going to need two weeks, some people are going to need no days because they’ve already been living it. Other people are going to need to be doing it for six months before they move on to the next section. So you do it for as long as you need to, and you do it in a way that is not overwhelming to you. There’s a lot of people that fear change or resist change, or are perfectionists, or they have to do all of them at once. I really want people to welcome the concept that it is okay to pick up the book Dirty Genes, read it, and when you learn something and you say, “Wow, that breathing thing really resonated with me” – put the book down. Let it sit there for two weeks, three weeks, and focus on your breathing. When you feel better, your hands are warm again – pick up the book, start reading where you left off. It’s like, “Wow, that chewing thing – I definitely need to work on that.” Put the book down. Put it down.
I almost dedicated the book to… It was going to say something along the lines, “This book is dedicated to those who read and actually implement what they read.” Because you can read all you want, but if you don’t actually implement, no book is going to serve you and you’re going to be complaining that the book didn’t help you out. And Dirty Genes is a manual for you. As you pointed out, Allan, I do have a huge personal reservoir of, “Yes, I know this supplement can do this. It’s going to make me feel good if I take it then. It’s going to make me feel worse if I take it when I feel these symptoms.” And so, I take a mental file. I file everything away mentally about how everything makes me feel. I remember when I was in the grocery store with my boys years ago. I’ve got three boys, and right now they’re 15, 13 and 10. We were walking through the store and we’d walk by and the donuts, and they were just baked. They were like, “Those look good. Dad, how do you walk by those without any issue?” I said, because I put myself one hour into the future, after I’ve enjoyed them, and I realize that they’re going to make me super tired, have a headache, they’re going make the yeast overgrow and I’ll be battling that for probably two months. And I’m just not going to feel good, so I don’t eat it. I move past the impulse and think what it’s actually going to do to me. And then it’s like, “Heck no, I don’t want it.”
Allan (37:07): That’s a cost-benefit. We don’t always make the right decision for ourselves, but there’s a cost-benefit to pretty much everything we do. So having and taking the time. And like I said, I can’t stress that enough – the self-awareness to say, “I know that this is not going to do for me what I need to have done. This is not going to make me better tomorrow. It might make me feel better for five minutes, I’ll enjoy it, but then I know the repercussions of what my next day, two days, two weeks, or in some cases even longer – I know what that’s going to mean to me.”
Dr. Lynch (37:40): Yeah. And sometimes I will walk by a bag of chips or a 4 pack of alcoholic apple cider. And once in a blue moon I will pick it up and I will take it home. I’ll say, “I know the repercussions, but the heck with it. I’m going to enjoy it.” And if you want to stay up late and watch a movie, just know how you’re going to feel tomorrow and don’t blame others for your bad day. You’ve got to make some adjustments. If I eat chips and garbage, which I do at times, I will compensate the next day by doing something different to make it up. And if it’s not the next day, it’s pretty soon thereafter. So, I clean myself up after.
Allan (38:27): It’s just like your kitchen – you clean it once, you’re going to use it again, you’re going to need to clean it again. So this is just a function of something relatively simple that we can incorporate in our lives to improve our health overall. And then we have these tools in our tool chest. There’s something we can pull out when we know, “I really shouldn’t have had that bag of M&M’s, so I know I’m going to feel crappy because of the carbs and all the other stuff. I know why I wanted them. I know that I enjoyed them when I had them, but now I’ve got to make that up and clean myself up with the breathing, with the water, and finding good quality food that’s going to actually nourish me, because I didn’t really get any nourishment out of that snack.”
Dr. Lynch (39:10): That’s right. You actually went backwards in your health. My kids, I’ll let them eat stuff that they shouldn’t eat. Someday they’re going to be adults and living on their own, and I want them to feel the repercussion of eating fast food. I want them to feel the repercussions of chowing on a bunch of garbage and getting acne all over their face or getting symptoms of congested noses, or irritable or depressed from it. I let them know how that’s happening, why it’s happening, how to clean it up, why they gravitated towards it. So they’re getting it, and they make their own choices. Sometimes it’s hard for me to see them make those choices, but at the end of the day they’re going to be not living under my roof and they’re going to make grown decisions as an adult and I’m not going to be there for them. So they need to know now how they’re going to feel if they eat garbage, and they’re already experiencing it. They’re still kids; they bounce back faster than adults do, but they still experience repercussions – performance in soccer games goes down, their moods get altered, their noses get messed up, their faces get messed up, they do worse in school. You’ve got to let them learn and experience it. I used to do the opposite. I used to be super strict about all this stuff. I’m still pretty strict, but I will let them go for it. And it’s been great that I’ve done that.
Allan (40:45): You can give each of them a signed copy of Dirty Genes and they can learn for themselves. Dr. Lynch, this has been a wonderful conversation. If someone wanted to get in touch with you, learn more about what you’re doing, more about the book and get to that Facebook group that you talked about, where would you like for me to send them?
Dr. Lynch (41:05): I think the best thing to do, Allan, is just invest in the book. It’s only $19 now, or $17 on Amazon, which is very, very affordable for what you get. I was talking with a colleague of mine and he said we should charge thousands for our books. It’s only $17.
Allan (41:24): All the research and all the time that goes into writing a book, yes.
Dr. Lynch (41:29): Yeah, but it’s great that it’s so available. That’s the cool thing. I really highly recommend people grab the book wherever it’s solid. It’s sold everywhere and it’s been translated into 11 languages. But if you don’t want to invest the money in the book right now, go to DrBenLynch.com, and there’s a free download of a bonus chapter that I really wanted to be included in the book, but the book was already 300 some pages and the publisher said, “No, make it a bonus chapter, give it away.” It’s the ABCs of clean genes. Every letter is something that you can do, and we already talked about Avoid, Breath and Chew. I forget what D was, and E, and all these other ones. But it’s a very, very good chapter. It’ll give you a great understanding of the writing style, the simplicity, the tone, the empowerment, and just reading that might be enough to get you started. It’s like the soak and scrub 4-week protocol for free for you. So go to DrBenLynch.com, download that. And when you’re on DrBenLynch.com, there’s a bunch of articles there. And every Thursday – in fact I just got done with one today – at 2:30 PM Pacific Time, I do a Facebook Live for about an hour on a specific topic, and they’re all recorded. I answer people’s questions and they all stay there for free. So we have tons of video on Dr Ben Lynch Facebook page that are freely available, and a lot of great questions, a lot of comments. We have thousands and thousands of views on each one, and they’re a lot of fun. I really walk through people’s specific questions and tell them why and how their body is working. Because if you understand how your body works and why it’s important to breathe properly and why it’s important to eat certain foods and avoid certain foods at certain times; even healthy food you need to avoid at certain times, and I explain why – it will really make sense to you, especially when you apply it and you’re aware of the changes. For example, somebody posted just yesterday, “I can’t fall asleep at night. I had dinner at 8:30 and it was a big protein dinner and I had a protein shake. Why can’t I fall asleep?” I was like, “One, you eat late; and two, you had a lot of protein. Protein stimulates histamine and dopamine, and those are two alert-causing compounds.” So, that’s what happens on these Facebook pages and it’s a great community.
Allan (43:57): Cool. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/327 and I’ll make sure to have links to both the Facebook group and to Dr. Lynch’s website and to the book. Dr. Lynch, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Lynch (44:12): My pleasure. And now that I’m 40+, I’ve got to tune into some of your podcasts.
Allan (44:16): Outstanding.
Allan (44:22): I hope you enjoyed that interview with Dr. Lynch. I really enjoyed the conversation. Epigenetics is a very complex topic, but he does a really good job in his book Dirty Genes on explaining how all this stuff works in a way that’s applicable. So I really enjoyed the book and I really enjoyed that conversation, and I hope you did too. I’m recording this on the 4th of July. That means for me from a scheduling perspective, I’m way behind, but that’s cool. I’ll get caught up. The show notes might not be there when you’re first listening to this, but they’ll be out there soon, I promise. I’m putting a lot of pressure on the people behind me, I know. But I needed to get a few things done for Ketofest and for the book, so this has been a really big push week for me and I’m glad to have a day off.
And that’s where I wanted to start this discussion today. It is the 4th of July, which in the United States is a pretty big holiday for a lot of us. It’s a time for us to be with friends and family. I’m pretty excited. One of my neighbors has decided to host a little pop-up party for the 4th of July. Nothing famous, nothing fancy, just a get-together as a neighborhood and friends and hang out, and I’m pretty excited about that. In The Blue Zones, which was a book by Dan Buettner, but it was brought up by Michelle Poulin, and it’s basically a concept of where people live and how based on where they live and how they’re living their lives, they live longer. And one of the big aspects of that was social structure – having friends, having family and really being interconnected with your community, neighbors, friends, family. That was also brought up by Dr. John and Jane Day in their book The Longevity Plan. I had Dr. John Day on the show for episode 272. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/272 and listen to the longevity plan discussion we had. Again, a very fascinating study that he did in a small location in China that’s known as Longevity Village. So, really worth a listen. After you get through with this episode, you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/272 and listen to Dr. Day. But that said, do take time when you get time to really enjoy time with your family and your friends. Life is precious, and a big part of the way that I am now structuring the way I look at things is what I call “wellness”. My definition of wellness is going to include of course health, fitness, which is where most people stop, but I want you to add happiness to that definition, because when you have all three of those, you really have all three legs of the stool that make you feel and be well. So, make sure you’re making happiness a big priority in your life and it’ll go a long way towards your wellness journey.
I did talk about Ketofest. I’ll be a presenter at Ketofest, not just a trainer, which means yesterday I did plans for all of my group training. I’ve got that done and I’m about halfway through with putting together my slides for my presentation. It’s in PowerPoint. I prefer Keynote, but the host of the event is a big Microsoft guy, so I’m pretty sure he’s going to only want to run Microsoft equipment, and that means that I’ve got to do it in PowerPoint. So, a little bit of a learning curve to get back into PowerPoint. It’s been a long time since I’ve done a presentation, a live speaking engagement. In fact, the last one I did was on how to put together a fraud investigation. This one should be a lot more interesting than that, as I am talking about wellness and keto and how those things really do give you an opportunity, because the ketosis that you’re in a lot of times with the extra energy – I really do think that can be a super power for people that want to go that route, they want to eat that way. And when they have that extra energy, I want to help them focus it and make it something special. So I’m really, really excited about my talk and how that’s coming along. Ketofest is in New London, Connecticut, from the 20th of July to the 22nd. Now I’m planning to be in that area. If you’re anywhere up in the Northeast, anywhere close to New London, Connecticut, and you want to meet up – please do send me an email. It’s email@example.com. We can sit down and have a coffee, we can have a drink afterwards, in the evening, or whatever you want to do if you can make it down there and want to spend some time. If you can go to Ketofest, that’s even better. Again, it’s in New London, Connecticut, July 20th to the 22nd. You can go to Ketofest.com and learn more there. They’ve got it all broken down, you can buy tickets to the different things. I’ll be arriving I think on the 19th. I’ll probably be there in the evening. I don’t think they have anything planned. So again, if you want to catch up for a drink or something, or a coffee in the morning – please, by all means, do reach out. I would like to meet with you.
And then finally I do want to talk about the personal training. I’ve talked to a few people lately and it’s kind of interesting. I was in a mastermind meeting, so we’re not talking about fitness, we’re talking about our businesses. And one of the concepts that came up was how when someone’s trying to teach you how to do an online business, most of the people that were successful at that are actually just selling to other people that want to run online businesses. So it’s this racket of, “I know how to run an online business. I’ll teach you how to run an online business.” And that’s how they make their money. Very few of them make money doing anything else. So we were talking about that, and one of the theories I have is that people who are in business know that you have to spend money to make money. That’s a known concept that I think anyone would generally agree with. You can’t start a business from nothing, really, and expect. You need some seed capital, some money, some investment to make things start. I’m not saying that’s completely necessarily true in health and fitness, but I can say if you want to accelerate your health and fitness journey, you do need to make an investment. You need to make an investment in time, you need to make an investment of effort, and in many cases you do need to make an investment in money, so that you can have the accountability, so you can have the structure, so you cannot make the mistakes that a lot of other people are making, and so you can be the most efficient and effective at your health and fitness work, so you’re getting the most out of your time and effort.
If you’re on the fence about hiring a coach, please do give me a call. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/talk. That’s going to put a time on my calendar. You can give me your phone number, you can give me your email. I’ll send you a conference call. I prefer if you give me your phone number so I can call you at the prescribed time. But go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/talk, get a little slot with me and we can just talk through what your issues are, what’s going on with you right now. What can I do to help you? Or maybe I can’t help you, but we can kind of diagnose that right there. We can figure that out. Am I the right coach for you? Is this the right time for you? I’m telling you, there’s never a bad time to start. There’s only a time when you look back and wish you had started earlier. So I do hope that you’re thinking about this, that you’re considering this. And if you are on that fence, if you’re right there saying, “Maybe I do want to make this investment, maybe this would help me” – let’s talk, and we can figure out if I’m the right coach for you right then and there. So again, go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/talk.
TJ Anderson, the author of The Art of Health Hacking is the guest for episode 326 of the 40+ Fitness Podcast. We discuss the 5 Ps of health hacking, the essential health tracking you should be doing, and a really cool model to practice being present.
Allan (0:46): Our guest today is a clinical health coach, self-proclaimed health hacker, and founder of Elevate Your State – a growing community of health conscious leaders dedicated to optimizing their health and performance. He is TJ Anderson. TJ, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
TJ (1:04): It’s an honor to be here.
Allan (1:05): I always am hesitant when I’m talking to my clients. I say health hacking is a good thing to consider. Biohacking is the more common term. I think you’re coining more of the health side of it. So many biohackers get into these little crevices of health of, “Let’s take a biopsy of our leg, and let’s see if I take this particular supplement, is it going to change the cellular structure of my muscle?” Or someone will come across and say, “You should take intravenous vitamin C. That’s the key to life, that’s the key to health.” And I try to explain to them, until you’ve taken care of those bigger rocks of health and fitness, where you’re actually eating right and you’re trying to get good sleep and you’re trying to de-stress and you do have a movement practice of some sort – some of these little things are not worth your time at this point.
You get into that in the book, where we’re taking the quantified self, and then we’re also taking this health hacking and they’re merging into a field of study that a lot of people are really engaged with. I really liked your quote, because I think this sums it up in the way that I like to think about it. You say, “Health data are not the finish line; they are the starting block.” I think that’s one of the core things. If you’ve got something else wrong with you, like diabetes or heart disease or something like that – you’ve got other things you might want to focus on. But if you’re in generally good health and you want to improve your 5K time, or you want to just feel a little bit more energized in the morning, or you want to sleep just a little bit better – there’s a lot in this book to help us out.
TJ (2:48): Rock and roll. You bet. To your point, the biohacking space, any sort of space – health, fitness, and the whole self-improvement movement, as I like to call it, can focus a lot on the finer details, the finer points, which can be of value, depending on context. And at the end of the day, addressing the whole – so holistic, and also the fundamentals of optimal health and happiness are top priority. When it comes to taking inventory on our lifestyle, in my opinion and my experience, it’s much easier and more fun when we set our priorities and focus on what matters. As the subtitle suggests, it’s a personal guide to elevate your state of health and performance, stress less and build healthy habits that matter. It’s all about asking ourselves, “What matters to me? What are the highest levers that I can pull in my lifestyle that can generate the biggest impact?” I’m glad you brought that up. That quote was not just one I espouse and promote others to embody. That realization in my own lifestyle is what brought a lot of ease and less angst around the perfection mindset, which can creep up in the quantified self world. So yeah, health data is not the finish line; it’s the starting block. There’s so much more beyond the quantitative. So yes, a big aspect of the book is exploring the qualitative self, those things that are tougher to measure.
Allan (4:45): I’m glad you said that. And I want to take one step back, because I think some folks might not actually understand when we’re talking about quantified self, biohacking and those types of things, exactly what that is. In a general sense, the quantified self is where you’re measuring things about yourself. So, maybe you wake up each morning and you check your blood pressure, your heart rate variability, your pulse rate. Maybe you do some blood sugar testing, check your ketones. You wear a Fitbit so you know what your heart rate is throughout the day, you also know how many steps you took. People are collecting more and more data as technology has made it easier for us to collect that data. And that’s the quantified self, where people are measuring what’s going on in their lives. A biohacker is in my mind defined as someone who is looking for ways to enhance their health or fitness through some technology means.
So that might be that they’re now taking a different supplement, or it may be that they’re doing something in their room with the sounds or the light. I know that you are a big fan of the blue blocker glasses that block out the blue light, so that basically your body knows to start creating melatonin when it’s supposed to. That’s bio or health hacking, where you’re trying to look for ways that technology can protect us from maybe what we’re already doing – getting away from blue light, or it can at least give us opportunities to enhance what we already have. So those are the two definitions, but I like how you put that it’s really about the quality, not the quantity. It’s not about me getting more steps tomorrow than I got today. It’s about making those steps have more quality to them. Having my sleep have more quality to it, not the fact that I just got more sleep. I liked that aspect of it.
TJ (6:31): Cool. I appreciate it.
Allan (6:34): In the book you go through the five Ps of health hacking, and I think that’s a really good parameter for someone to understand what are the steps that someone would go through if they’re looking for these opportunities to enhance their health.
TJ (6:50): You bet. Yes, exactly. The five Ps of health hacking are a chance for people to take inventory on the different aspects and relationships with their health that make a big difference. So I start the book off with a little vulnerable story, with my own visit to the emergency room. The first chapter is titled Goodbye Sick Care, Hello Self-Care: Your Health Is in Your Hands. The reason I bring that up is at the end of that first chapter and in that first act I really have people take inventory, scoring themselves on a scale of 1 to 5 or 1 to 10, in terms of macro areas of health – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, as well as the micro areas, like nutrition, nature, technology, movement, etcetera. That’s a way to look at specific areas, but when approaching our health holistically, the 5 Ps provide a way for us to connect the dots between how we are focused on our health. I’ll just share what those 5 Ps are, and it could really help to fuel progress and action and mindfulness around your overall approach.
So P number one – preparation; how well do you prepare during your day, during your week, with your health as a priority? So, are you cooking multiple meals early in the week so it’s easier to consume them throughout the week? Are you making it to the grocery store on a day that’s convenient and works for you, so that you don’t eat out as much, for example? How can you prepare, and really connect the dots between your preparation and your health?
Next one is prevention – connecting the dots between your thoughts, actions, behaviors, environment, and how all that impacts your overall health. So preventing the things that we don’t want to happen – poor health, poor energy, disease, sickness, etcetera, down the road, is one of the Ps that I find is key for overall health hacking.
Next one is performance – connecting the dots between how your health impacts your performance in the present day. That’s really a big one. Honestly, I work with a lot of high performers, business leaders, etcetera. And one of the objections that people often share is, “I don’t have enough time. I’ve got so many work responsibilities or family responsibilities.” And maybe that’s often what goes on in the minds of your listeners and those that you serve, Allan. But what I found is that when you synergize health with performance, it takes on a different meaning, and your approach with work and health all blends. If you listen to your body more and realize how your self-care strategy, your healthy habits can really fuel better energy, better mental clarity and less stress and less sick days – your performance can shine.
The next one is progress. Focusing on progress over prevention is a big part of my own personal journey. I was a model in South Beach about four years ago, which was the impetus of the book. My six pack wasn’t good enough for the cameras, and I fell into perfection mindset. I was focusing on the physical body and trying to achieve the perfect six pack and working out like crazy. Thankfully I healed from that experience and realized the importance of both approaching your health holistically, as well as focusing on progress, not perfection.
And then the final P – last but not least – presence. I love ending with that one, because it’s my favorite one. It’s super powerful in my life. The more I can intentionally cultivate present moment awareness inside of my life, the less stress, the more happiness and ease I have with things that could have brought me stress in the past.
Allan (11:19): I do want to circle back around and talk about presence, but I think one of the cores of all this is when we use terms like “performance” and “progress”, those can sound like sports words at times. I think a lot of people will equate those, and I would put it forward to say, this is about life. Your grandchild might weigh 25 pounds today, and in a year from now she’s very likely to weigh 35 pounds. So, if you want to be able to still lift your granddaughter next year when she goes from being two to three, you’re going to have to do some things to build some strength. If you want to continue to be able to open a jar for yourself when you’re 85 years old, you’re going to have to continue to focus on progress and strength. There’s also the mobility and the balance and all the other areas. So when we’re talking about performance, I like how you put that it’s normal life. It’s being ready for the things that are happening to you. If you happen to be an athlete, if you happen to be doing those other things, then by all means, you’re measuring that performance, you’re getting the data and you’re trying to find those things that are going to give you that advantage. But in everyday life we also need to be looking for ways to get an advantage when it’s the right thing to do.
TJ (12:35): Of course, yes. I’m glad you brought that up. There’s value in looking at performance, in terms of how well you might perform in your workouts, in your fitness, and your performance outside of fitness – so how well you sleep, your relationship with technology and nature and your fundamental way of how you walk and how you get out of bed, how you get in and out of the shower, the muscles you activate in your patterns. Those small things impact your actual performance in fitness so much more. That’s one of the things I’ve personally learned in my own lifestyle. For instance, I’ve had some right hip issues, kind of popping. So for me, small things like crossing my legs was an unconscious pattern while I sat down that I would always do in that unconscious way of just existing, and crossing my foot over my left knee for instance. My right hip was just conditioned to open up a lot. So, it’s the small things that can make a big impact when it comes to our overall physical health and our performance.
Allan (13:54): Yeah. And I like how it all really comes back to data. You can observe yourself and see, “My hip’s got a problem. There’s an imbalance there” – that’s a data point. Someone can measure their weight – that’s a data point. They can measure some other things, like their blood work and whatnot. You’re really focused on four categories that you say are essential if we really want to have optimal health; the four areas that we should be at least getting some data from and tracking and then trying to improve. Can you get into those four?
TJ (14:29): You bet. So you mentioned aspects earlier that people can track, such as blood pressure, resting heart rate, ketone levels, fasting blood sugar and all that. Those are all great. What I explored in the book was a little bit more non-traditional, more advanced, if you will, that I find is very essential for longevity, for true health. Those other ones are great, and these are some other new ones that I explored. Number one for me was blood work – advanced biochemistry blood work to really understand. Beyond what Western medicine tells us with their access to blood testing, there’s so much more that exists out there. The direct-to-consumer healthcare movement – being able to, for instance, order labs on your own through WellnessFX, and be able to get access to advanced blood testing through companies like that, really paves the way for us to take our health into our own hands. But actually making sense of that is the next step, and then taking action on it.
For me the advanced blood work was a big aspect of my lifestyle, because for instance, I used to just look at HDL and LDL and think that was the end all, be all. And then I read a book called Cholesterol Clarity and heard about a company called WellnessFX to see how advanced blood testing can really show you what’s your true lipid panel and true overall risk of potential heart disease and looking at things like particle sizes and apo, and all these different aspects that are not talked about in traditional healthcare. So, advanced blood work – number one.
Number two for me was getting full-scale genetic testing, and then specific understanding around those perhaps more important mutations. For instance, I walk people through how I did it for myself, but 23andMe, as a lot of people have probably heard of, is one great resource to get your full raw genetic data. And I say “raw” because it’s a lot of data points; you need to make sense of it. So, guiding people in the book around, after you get your raw data, what’s next? You need a third-party app to make sense of that. For instance, Genetic Genie and MTHFRSupport.com were a few for me.
Those are a couple of key aspects, and then nutrients would be number three. What’s cool is that you can really start to connect the dots between all of these. So you can understand what’s going on inside of your body through these health tracking categories, and then they connect. They tell a story when you’re able to lay them all out and understand what’s going on individually and how they impact each other. For instance, for me, I had a genetic mutation for my Vitamin D, my ability to receive and properly synthesize and process Vitamin D – I had a mutation for that. That connected the dots with my micronutrient deficiency test, which showed me my Vitamin D levels were low. I think there are only two companies; maybe there are more now but there were two when I wrote the book, that offer a micronutrient deficiency test, which measures on an intra-cellular level your reserves, if you will, in terms of these really essential, important, key micronutrients. For me, Vitamin D was one that was low, so I connected that with my genetic mutation.
So those are the first three, and then the last one is stress, for instance, and HRV. So you mentioned HRV – heart rate variability, earlier on in the show. That was a definite big one for me, that I would spend time in my breath and in my body going through HRV training. Heart Math is a great organization that makes a great tool called The Inner Balance. If people haven’t heard of that, The Inner Balance is a beautiful tool that you can actually sync and connect with your iPhone, or whatever smartphone you might have. And then you connect on the other end of this a sensor that is attached to your ear lobe. So instead of simply measuring heart rate, they are able to measure heart rate variability. HRV is a key overall metric; it’s getting more and more respect, in terms of overall mortality rates. It’s a key aspect of health. So building coherence through HRV training, focusing on the breath, of course heart-centered breathing, as well as positive thoughts, can actually build more emotional resilience in your life. So those are four core topics that I explore.
Allan (19:49): And they do overlap. I think that’s one of the cool things about it, is you’ll start seeing how this all plays out. I also have a low sodium and low potassium level as a base. When I don’t eat right, then I see my potassium and sodium go down in my blood work. I also know that I’m a very good caffeine synthesizer, so I beat down my caffeine pretty fast. But even then I know I probably shouldn’t have caffeine after noon. So I can kind of watch my nutrition. And as far as the stress, mine has been up there from time to time. If you’re looking at your blood test and your rested cortisol level in the morning, and then you’re also looking at how your HRV is working, you can actually see those correlations over time. If you’re checking it regularly and you’re looking at your blood work, you’re finding out, ”Things that I do to improve my stress reduction help me with my cortisol, which also helps me lose weight, which helps me do a lot of these other things better.” So it really is an overlapping system here that you’ve got, that where we put all that data together, it gives us a really good mapping to know, “This is why this is happening.” Not just what to do, but, “This is why it’s going to be good for me, or it won’t matter to me.” So, I do appreciate each of those as data points to start your journey.
TJ (21:14): Yeah, you bet. As you said, they can each have a trickledown effect in the different aspects of your health and your lifestyle.
Allan (21:25): Okay. Now, we talked about presence. And right now I think more than any other time in my life, this has become my year of, or period of time of really focusing on being present in the moment. In the past I’ve been very engaged in work, and the project that’s coming up, or the trip I have to take, or the things that are going on in the future. And I’m getting better and better of saying, “What’s going on right now? What is Allan feeling right now? What state am I in, and is that a helpful state? Is that putting me further down the path of feeling better tomorrow or being better tomorrow?” You put a very interesting feedback loop that I guess I’d never really thought through as a tool, that someone can use to really get into a solid presence, to really be present in the moment. Do you mind going through your feedback loop, because I do think for me that’s probably the most incredible thing from the book that I enjoyed, that I got the most out of, is this feedback loop that you have for presence?
TJ (22:33): That’s great. Yeah, of course. First off, I appreciate and I’m grateful that that was of value for you. This book took three years to write, by the way. I didn’t write this overnight, so I had a chance to get a bit creative. First and foremost I want to take a step back and take a breath, and get back into my body here a little bit. So, presence for me – I learned the biggest lesson through reading a book called The Presence Process by Michael Brown. If anyone ever wants to read a book on presence, this is at the top of my list. It’s in the top five books I recommend to everyone. So, in that journey, what I learned was through a quote that the author offered up – that it’s not about feeling better; it’s about getting better at feeling. And that mindset shift, that 180 there is a complete game-changer, or at least it was for me, in terms of how I relate to myself and to the world around me.
And it was a beautiful realization that brought a lot of healing and unraveling in my life, and a good unraveling. And so, not trying to feel better, but getting better at feeling. Even often in the health space, I sometimes get an urge to, for instance, go to a certain food or a certain supplement, and really enjoy that, and think that that’s what I need. And at the end of the day, it could be of value. Perhaps what’s even more important is getting into the reflection, the ability to hit “Pause” and really reflect on your current state, get into your breath and your body and see how you really feel. And so this feedback loop you mentioned I created, has five points, and it’s breathe, feel, ask, listen, and choose.
So breathe, feel, ask, listen, and choose are what came up for me when I asked myself what does this process look like? So, how am I able to consciously check in with myself, with my body? What does this process look like, of responding to that, as opposed to reacting, and how can I choose to move forward? How can I truly have a lifestyle filled with ease? This idea of starting with the breath and checking in with ourselves, spending some time – it can be anywhere from five seconds to 5 to 10 minutes or longer – and to really just breathe and notice what you’re noticing, and moving on to making sense of, what are some feelings maybe that are popping up? What am I noticing here, in terms of my physical body, my emotional body? And then we can ask ourselves questions as well. A big aspect of the book is really empowering people to become their own health coach in a way. A bit about my background is in health coaching, so the book is ultimately a self-coaching tool, and empowering people with the courage and the skillsets to ask themselves the right questions at the right time. That can really go a long way.
Ask is next, step three in that feedback loop. And that’s followed by listen. So listen to what comes up as the answer that your body, that your soul is sharing with you. And then you can choose a path, and you can choose to respond in a certain way. It’s a nice little reminder for people and if they want to follow it specifically, it can be a nice tool to guide them daily or whenever they want to use the practice, or they can just hear those five words once – breathe, feel, ask, listen and choose, and those are in the back of their mind, and so allowing themselves to maybe tap into those every now and then, throughout their days.
Allan (27:05): I think one of the reasons that this really resonated with me was I had had a conversation with Dr. Michael Galitzer. He wrote the book Outstanding Health. In his book, one of the things he talked about, and when we were talking he got into a little bit more detail, is that in his mind the root of all stress is our failure to accept what’s happening to us as just something that’s there. We react to it because we don’t want it, and because it’s something that we don’t want to happen but we still can’t affect it, we bring that inside instead of letting that go. So your cycle here, your feedback loop, really gives someone a tool to actually do what he said, which is to just let it go. It is what it is, accept what’s going on. It’s raining. Yes, you wanted to have a picnic, but it’s raining. Just breathe, feel. Yes, that frustrates you because you did all that preparation for the picnic. Listen to what your body’s telling you. It’s like, “This is an opportunity for me to go read a book, this is an opportunity for me to do all these other things that I needed to do or wanted to do.” And then you listen to it and say, “Okay, I guess I’ll go read that book.” You make that choice.
So I really like how this slows you down in the moment, where you can really take inventory of why you’re feeling what you’re feeling. Go ahead and be okay with that, but then choose the path that you’re going to take, because you know you want to take a path that’s going to lead to less stress, to a better life. So, you can make better choices regardless. That’s why I like your loop, because I think it gives someone a tool to very easily manage a situation that is giving them stress, to understand that stress, to understand what their body’s telling them about it, and then to properly respond, rather than continue to bury that and hold that in.
TJ (28:55): Amen. Yeah, exactly. You talk about, what’s the root cause of this? And often times it’s the presence of feelings that we don’t want to feel, or experiences that are not what we want. At the end of the day, I see a lot of those experiences as messages or messengers for us to learn from and explore. It’s okay that you don’t feel okay. That’s okay. And another core topic that connects with this is the power of self-compassion. I find that can really help to support someone with their deepening of presence and acknowledging and appreciating their feelings for what they are – just feelings. So, self-compassion is a topic I also explore in the book for people to deepen their relationship with themselves. I’m grateful we’re having this conversation – it’s life stuff. It’s a very important conversation, and work for people to explore in their own life.
Allan (30:12): I couldn’t agree more. I think one of the cores of this is, we have control of our own health to some extent. Things are going to happen that we don’t have a say over, but we can make the choices and we can work with our medical professionals to make better choices for our health and what we do. The more we understand what the data’s telling us, the more we’re going to be in a position to set our feet down and say, “This is a time to fight, or this is the time to accept. I’m not going to be able to play in the NFL like I wanted to when I was in high school. Not going to happen, but I can accept that, and there’s no reason for me to be frustrated about it. Let it go.” Or I can be frustrated that it’s raining on a picnic, and let that bother my life and mess with my life when it shouldn’t.
Again, I think you’ve got lots of great tools in here. You were very vulnerable in the book. You shared a lot of yourself that I think a lot of people would have probably not said, but I thank you for taking the time to actually do that. I went through, not a modeling career, but an illness that put me in an emergency room for the very same reason, so I could really relate with that story. And I could relate with the position you were in as you were going through your modeling things, because it was real, and it was a moment where you found yourself on a treadmill, trying to accomplish something that really was not necessarily beyond you, but it wasn’t congruent with who you were. I think that’s the way I read it. So I think the stories that you shared in the book were really, really good in helping someone understand that we all have a place where we’re not perfect, and accepting that and turning that around and saying, “But what can I do with the tools that I have? What can I do with the mind that I have? What can I do with the body that I have” puts you into a better place. Now you’re a health coach, now you’re helping others. And this book, which is The Art of Health Hacking, is also helping people. So TJ, thank you so much for sharing this book with me.
TJ (32:10): Of course. To add one more key point, if people are wondering what’s the thesis of this, how’s it different? What I fully embody in the book and believe in my life is that we don’t lack the science, information or technology to live healthy. We lack the art to know how to use those things effectively and properly. That kind of shift, that opening, allows for people to realize how much is possible in terms of becoming more artful and creative in our own approach towards health. That’s our greatest opportunity, I firmly and wholeheartedly believe. So, it’s much more empowering-based. And being creative allows for more fun, I find. I end the book with, I think the title of the last chapter is Nature, Music, and Enjoying the Ride. At the end of the day, if we don’t enjoy the ride we’re on, then we’re missing out of what’s truly possible.
Allan (33:18): Big time. TJ, if you wanted me to send people somewhere to learn more about you and about the book, where would you like for me to send them?
TJ (33:28): HealthHackerBook.com is where people can pick up a copy – free shipping, $19.95, right there at HealthHackerBook.com. You can also read more about the book, and read some of the quotes from people I interviewed for the book, like Dave Asprey, Ben Greenfield, JJ Virgin, to name a few. I’m also over at ThisIsTJ.com. For everyone that’s listening, if you are interested in the copy – great, awesome. We also have a free book club. My big thing is, I didn’t write this book just to write a book or try to become a best seller. It was to truly make an impact. And if this episode wasn’t enough reason to realize that, do know that there is a free book club. We have a great Facebook group rocking – Health Hacker Book Club on Facebook for people to get access to and book-club the book together with other like-minded, like-hearted health-conscious leaders in the life, going through the book.
Allan (34:34): And I am in the book club too. I’m there. Go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/326, and I’ll make sure to have all the links there. TJ, thank you so much for being a part of the 40+ Fitness podcast.
TJ (34:49): It was an honor. Thanks, Allan.
Allan (34:55): I hope you enjoyed that conversation with TJ. I certainly did. I’m making a slight change in the format of the podcast. You may have noticed that, in that now we’re having a little bit more of a conversation. I’m moving that to the end. I used to have a little bit of this at the front end. Due to some listener feedback and whatnot, I’ve decided I’m going to push that back here. If you just want to hear the interviews, the interviews will be upfront, and then when you’re done, you’re done. That’s cool. But if you want to know more about what’s going on with me, what’s going on with the podcast, other opportunities and things like that, that’s what I’m going to put here. Another change in the format is I’m not going to do sponsors anymore. I’ve found that it’s a little too stressful for me in the long run, it’s taking me away from what I want to do, which is help you. Even though it does generate some revenue for the podcast, in my mind – and I’ve had a lot of time to think about this and meditate on this – it’s not core to what I want to do for you. So I’m doing away with the sponsorships and now I’m just going to focus on what I do, which is this podcast and my personal training. So, you will notice that difference. I want to share a lot more with you here. If you’re listening after the interview, then obviously you care. And that’s what I want to know, is that I’m talking to the people that actually want to hear what I have to say.
It’s interesting. I got back from vacation and I’m trying to get myself back into a cycle. You’ve been on vacation and then you get back and you’re just trying to get back into that circle, that way things were, that pattern. And I got a certified letter that one of my properties up in North Florida, I’d let it kind of decline, and they wanted me to clean it up, which meant four days of beating down the bush. I had let it go because someone had stolen my mower and I really didn’t want to invest in another mower at that time. So I let it go. I have bought another mower, and I was able to get out there with the sling blade and the mower and beat that down. It was four days of not so much fun, because bumblebees nest under the ground and when you run over them with a mower, they are not too happy about it. So I got some stings, I got quite a few ant bites and mosquito bites.
So it was not a pleasant four days, but it did reinforce to me that for the life I want to have, I do need to have a good general fitness level. If I didn’t have a good general fitness level, I would not have been able to do that myself. I would have hired it out, which is not a problem, but it’s just that recognition that if there are things that you used to be able to do and you can’t do them today – that’s something you really want to think about. Is it something you should do, something you should be considering as a part of your lifestyle, the things that you used to do, particularly if it’s something that you used to enjoy? And I’m not going to say I ever really enjoyed landscaping or yard work or beating down the bush, which I had plenty of when I was younger, but it is one of those things.
And another one for me, and I’ve shared this with you before, is I love volleyball. I went on vacation and part of what I was really looking forward to during my vacation was the week in Mexico, because the resort we stay at has a daily volleyball game. But this time, because it was June and it was so hot and humid, nobody wanted to play. So for the entire week, there was no volleyball. And then when I got back, the league I’m in had a bye week. So it’s been three weeks since I’ve played volleyball. I’m a little frustrated with that but happy to say this week, we have two games. They’ve moved one of our games up. We’re having one Wednesday and then Thursday. So I’m going to get to play a good bit more volleyball than I have. I’m really excited about that, and that’s what I want to share with you today.
I want you to come onto our Facebook group at 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/group, and share your joy. What is your hobby, what is your sport, what is the thing that you really enjoy doing, and what are you doing in your health and fitness to improve at that sport or to continue to be able to do that sport? For me, volleyball involves so many different fitness modalities. There’s balance, mobility, agility, speed, hand-eye coordination. It’s just a really fun way for me to get a full body experience of being fit. And so I work out to be better at volleyball and I enjoy volleyball because it’s somewhat of a workout. So please, do go to our Facebook group and share what your fun thing is. What is the one thing that you really enjoy doing as a hobby or a sport that you believe improves your health and fitness?
And then I’m really happy to announce that I will be a speaker and the personal trainer at Ketofest. This runs from July 20th to the 22nd. It’s in New London, Connecticut. So if you’re in the Northeast or you want to get up to the Northeast because it’s going to be a little bit cooler there than where you are, please do come up to Ketofest. You can go to Ketofest.com and learn more. It’s a really cool thing because of the 2 Keto Dudes. There is podcast with Carl Franklin and Richard Morris – really cool guys. They’re preaching the keto lifestyle, they interview a lot of keto people. They’re bringing a lot of those keto people to New London. The whole town pretty much goes keto-crazy, in that they have cooking classes, they have walking tours. A lot of the restaurants will serve keto dishes. If you get in on the VIP, which may or may not be available, they have a dinner the first night, typically over at Carl’s house. And then on Sunday, there are all these different speakers. So it runs from Friday to Sunday and there’s a lot going on during that period of time. I’ll be speaking, I’ll be putting on some personal fitness classes. So it’s really, really cool. I hope you will go check it out – Ketofest.com.
And then finally, I did want to remind you that I have openings in my personal training. So if you’re sitting on the fence or you’re wondering or thinking you might want to improve your fitness and you just need a little boost, I’d strongly encourage you to go check out my personal training. You can go to the main page, 40+ Fitness Podcast. I’ve got most of the information there. If you have any questions, you can hit me up on the chat. When you’re on that page, you’ll see the little “Chat” button. I try to be on chat all day each day. I do take breaks, so sometimes you’ll miss me, but I get your email address, I email you right back. So, if you have any questions or any doubts, please do reach out and let me know, because I want to talk to you about it and make sure you understand what I’m trying to accomplish here. The reality of what I do with my clients is, I don’t give you a cookie cutter, “This is what everybody does, this is the program everybody’s doing.” I sit down and listen to you and talk to you about what your goals are, what you’re trying to accomplish, and then I help put together the bits and pieces to help guide you down that road. So if you’re looking for just a little boost, a little bit more – now is the time. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is right now. You don’t want to get six months down the line and say, “Gee, I should have done that”, and you didn’t. So please go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com and check out my personal training services. Thank you.