Monthly Archives: June 2019
Monthly Archives: June 2019
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When Jennifer L Carroll's husband was diagnosed with cancer, they resolved to make the most of the time they had left. She's shared the story and the lessons she learned in her book, Beyond Invincible.
Allan: 01:05 Jennifer, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Jennifer: 01:09 Hi there. Hi Allan. Nice to meet you.
Allan: 01:11 Nice to meet you too. And you know, of course I read your book Beyond Invincible: Live Large, Live Long and Leave a Profound Legacy. So I feel like I know you pretty well because the book itself was just so heartfelt, impersonal what you went through, what with your husband, Phil and the family and just all of that as you're reading it and you're thinking, okay, I'm thinking, okay, I'm, you know, I'm the guy, I'm supposed to be the provider, but I can tell you I felt a lump in my chest and even though only 5% of men can show breast cancer, it's still a thing. I went and got checked out. Everything was cool. Doctor's like, no, it's not that. Charge on. And I did, uh, although I am changing my lifestyle considerably by moving to Panama. But I really just appreciate how you shared the story and then it wasn't just a story. It then was a series of lessons that I think all of us can learn from.
Jennifer: 02:08 Well, thank you. Yeah, it was an unfortunate situation to have to learn these lessons through, you know, like I say the lessons we learned living while dying. But they were very eye opening and they were lessons that you came to realize. And my kids especially, you know they learned at a younger age then I think typically learned. Learning things about just how to kind of say yes to saying no, we like to live in a world where you know, it's just with infinite opportunities that was just easy to just kind of try to do everything. And we had that mentality. But faced with this life threatening illness, it just forced us to prioritize our lives and recognize what truly matters. And so it has been an incredibly oh, profound journey. Certainly not a journey I wish on anyone. It's been very tough and everyday I, I miss him tremendously.
But like I say in my book and in my speaking, you know, life happens to us. What happens to us happens for us in that sometimes these things don't, we don't understand what are bigger than us blindside us and are not on Tuesday, our mess, messy parts of life can become our message and our ar tests can become our testimony and our trials could be, you know, just becomes something that we can share and share our stories and share our insights and make a difference in the lives of others. By allowing them to kind of glean insight for what we've experienced, apply it to their lives and hopefully come out better off. Like I hope that you will share your Sloth life..
Allan: 03:52 The sloth. Yeah. Sloth life. Yeah.
Jennifer: 03:55 Sloth Life, I hope you share it because I want to learn that lifestyle a little bit, just tie a little bit to this crazy world we live in over here still as you're enjoying the chickens and the tranquility of this amazing new journey of yours.
Allan: 04:11 And I think that's really, you know, in the book as I went through, I was like, you introduced me to Phil. You know, through stories and through just, you know, his, you know, he was in the book and I was like, this is the kind of guy I would just love to sit down and have a dinner with or have a drink with. And so I just really kind of acclimated to who he, who he was and what he was doing in his business life and his family life and all that. And just saying, you know, this was just a really cool guy. And then unfortunately, um, he got cancer and then there's a challenge and there's some things that you're going through. Can you take just a minute to kind of introduce Phil so we know who were talking about,
Jennifer: 04:50 Okay, so Phil Huh. Was larger than life and very, he was an Alpha personality. He absolutely thought he was invincible. He had this invincible spiritual entrepreneur. Really just always saw the hole in the doughnut. He saw the opportunity. He used to, he used to coach might son our son talking to you when he was a little dude. And he's tell these little guys that were all keen to like go masons score a goal because of course that's life. That's the metaphor. And that's what all they wanted to do. You'd say, Gosh, you have to, you know, when you're wasting towards the net, you got to shoot. You can't shoot at the goalie because the goalie is the obstacle. It's the barrier to what you want. You have to see the hole around the goalies because those are the opportunities.
And that was Phil. He did not see obstacles. He saw opportunities. And when the kids grew up and they'd say, Dad, I have a problem. They'd come with him with weeping eyes and dad, this happened. That happened. He would say, Austin, we don't have problems, have opportunities. And anything that came his way just looks, you know, he had these rose colored glasses and he could just somehow see the positive in everything. So that was Phill in a nutshell, larger than life. And, um, but the downside of that, that was the greatest part, that was the part that we just all tapped into and how he lived every day to leave his legacy and why people remember him. He just had this intense power and ability to see the goodness in all things. But he also, it became his demise because he truly felt so invincible. But he had, he was gonna fix it. Like most Alpha personality, most, I don't know if I could just generalize to men, but let's just say fathers, husbands, you know, our heroes, they have to take care of everything.
They're fixed it guys, they're going to, they're going to take care of their wives. They're going to take care of their, their staff. They're going to take care of their kids. They can take care of everything. Do you know what Phil didn't realize is that he made this assumption that if he was fit and have abs and could run marathons and ate organic, he was healthy. And in fact, that is a disconnect. He wasn't healthy. In fact, she had symptoms of prostate cancer that he ignored. And he never went to the doctor because he knew more than doctors. He understood his body and he was young and he just didn't go to doctors. The first time he ever sat across a desk of a doctor in his life, doctor looked at him and said, Phil, we have stage four prostate cancer and you're fighting for your life so you can feel me getting a bit choked up here.
This was my passion for writing this book is to not only share with the world this incredible man's story about how he lives large with great passion and vision for life and making life happen. But I also want to add significance to death and bring me to death by sharing his story and really trying to just get this message of proactive health out to a personality of that Alpha personality that just thinks they can handle everything. They can take care of everything because in fact Phil couldn't. And so, you know, sadly if you choose, he passed away and he didn't take care of his health the way he could have been a bit more proactive. So that's really, um, the passion behind the book and bottom line message of just being proactive about your health and recognizing the significance of health, which I know is what your whole platform is all about is health and fitness.
Allan: 08:27 Yeah. And again, I think that's one of the kind of the core tenants out of this is this, you know, this could've just been a story and a good story that, cause I, like I said, I really, I really liked the guy. Uh, I've never met him, but I really like him. And so I get that it's just what I liked so much was that then, okay. You know, as we start looking at our health, and it's something that I'm really kind of wrapping my mind around more and more is that, you know, perception is reality in many cases. But when you're looking at your wellness, you know, so beyond just the general health, it's not just, okay, what is the, what is the biopsy? What is the blood test? What does that show? What is, you know, what's your fitness level like you said, can, you know, do you have six pack ads and those types of things. But it's this are you living the quality of life of you having the things that you know you enjoy. And that kind of goes on this concept of having a positive view. And it is something that as I've had conversations with you before we got on and, and then now have, you know, come from the book, is that there's this common thread that runs across your message and your life is okay. I still need to be positive that things are happening, but I still need to be positive. Can you, can you talk a little bit about that?
Jennifer: 09:42 So the first thing that resonates with me as this concept that you just brought up, and I'm sure it's the philosophy behind why you picked up your wife Tammy and you and you moved out one way away to live, put yourself in a, in a life that has a little bit more rest, that has more of a sloth life. Phil lived this intense life where he really said no to nothing. And we all have stress. Stress gets us out of bed. Stress allows us to accomplish great things. Stress, You know, but there is destress. So there's obviously a difference. And I know you know the difference and I think people generally know the difference between stress and destress. Phil learned that too late. We have, we all, we might have a bucket list. People understand the concept of a bucket list. When we had traded something, and I talk about it in the book called the chuck it list. Because all of a sudden in our lives we just didn't have intended opportunities. The world is our oyster. We had, Phil was fighting for life and so he couldn't even really travel. He was hooked to an oxygen tank and so all of a sudden these things would come at us. We had to have a way of figuring out how do choose what to do and not to do.
And what we did is we write our core values every year as part of what we do to set our goals. So we made a list of what are our core values and number one had to be health, love, family, faith. We wrote these core values and as life came at us, we would just look and see if they fell under those, those values. And if they didn't, we actually physically had a bucket on the counter, and little note cards, little index cards. We write it down and throw it in the bucket and just out something to do with like just crinkling up that piece of paper through it away just destressed us because we couldn't do all these things and we were able to justify the importance of doing the things we chose to do, which aligned with our values and chucking the things that didn't align with our values and allowing us to experience rest. And the concept of rest is a very interesting concept I mean there was a story of artists that were given a blank canvas and asked to draw a picture representing rest. And one artist through this very serene setting out in the mountains of of a mountain, this mountains and trees and this dead calm lake. That was his depiction of rest, which makes sense.
The other artists painted this tumultuous waterfalls, raging waterfall and pouring down. You could see the mist from the waterfall in this picture. And then through the waterfall was this branch of a tree. And at the end of the branch of a tree with a little nest. And on top of that little nest was a little bird, little sparrow sitting on her egg. And that was his representation of rest. And I, the point is with this metaphorical story is that in our lives, crazy chaos and noise coming at us, bombarding us from all angles, phone, Internet, emails, people demanding us doing all these different things. We can still find rest even in this crazy world we live, I don't know if he's been to India, but I've been to India on a speaking tour and it was amazing to see populated crazy world with no rhyme or reason and just traffic everywhere and just people. And in amongst this madness, you'd look and you'd see this band sitting on the side of the road in Lotus meditating. What? And I just found it so fascinating. See these people in this world that was just so crazy. And compared to what we live out in the Western society, they were able to find rest through peace and meditation and what you probably call the sloth life. And that was something that Phil never discovered until he got sick. And it is something that is so important to health, to have that time of rest and to have meditation and to have sloth moments where you are breathing and in a place where you can hear the whispers of, you know, the omens and, and of life and just see the significance of what really matters and kind of boil it down to what we really value. I'm just aligning our choices with those things that we value in life.
Allan: 14:19 Yeah. And, and I really, you know, I think that was a cool thing. I did actually go to India and I found it odd. They have a timer to when the light's going to turn green. And it is, it is literally like they're lining up for the Indy 500 with a cow, with a taxi, with a tutut, and they all take off at the same time and they're all honking their horn. So they don't hit each other because they physically see everything that's going on. They're just listening, listening, and it's phenomenal. And you're right. Yeah, there's, there's just the person sitting over in this side of the road. There's another person that I guess to make a living, they've picked up a broom and they're just sweeping and it's like, okay, you know, everybody's making their way. And if we're all in that charge, charge, charge, charge, lifestyle all the time, you're right, We're not giving our bodies something that's extremely important for it to recover, to even enjoy a basic moment. And even you might not think that paradise of that mountain or I'm not in this or that. These things can be found in your own back yard. You know, just going to the city park and just taking just a moment to take in a few breaths of fresh air. Particularly as now, you know, we're, we're into June and it's about to get warm. Take advantage of those good weather days and spend a little bit of time at the park, spend a little bit of time just casually walking through the zoo. Even if you don't know how those grandkids, sometimes just going and doing something that's very just a fine and just relaxing is going to do a lot to add value to your day.
Jennifer: 15:50 For sure. For sure. Yup. Even like starting off your morning and just having, instead of diving on your phone and checking your messages and your emails to just wake up and have a little moment to kind of ease into your day. They say ideally even 60 minutes of just either meditating or reading something inspiring or listening to a Ted talk or, or doing something that just kind of eases you into your day with that proper mindset instead of just diving into all of our to do lists. That crazy world we live in.
Allan: 16:24 Yeah, I have, I have this book, it's called the Daily Stoic and basically stoicism and it's these little like two minute little vignette things that you can read each day. And I've had this book for like three years and this is the first year that have actually made every day. You know I'm like I'm sitting down to take a moment to read and like I'm so I'm so proud but you know all the things I've accomplished in my life. This is actually something that I'm pretty, I'm pretty happy about.
Jennifer: 16:53 That's cool. That's great. I know it's a big practice for me cause I've just trying to stay positive myself and on this journey and, and get through this [unaudible] is wake up in the morning and just, I write in the gratitude journal every morning and just take a minute and kind of reflect on all the, you know the abundance that I have and then how I'm so grateful for so many things and just the things that I'm looking forward to the day and kind of write down kind of what is the, like what would the day be? What would success look like at the end of this day for me, what would three things be that would just make this day a successful positive day? And I think by just setting up retention first thing in the morning before you start diving into that, all of your stuff and all the emails and all that follow up, I think that has been a very, very significant thing for me. And it's what I share other people and not only this book but in, I'm putting on Women's retreat now moving forward that are called Illuminate You. And so I teach a lot about these setting goals and doing vision boards and aligning your values with your goal setting and the importance of having a mastering your morning. My daughter, actually, my daughter Jessica, who certainly has been on this journey of loss as well, she does retreats as well and they're all based on master your morning master your life. And it's just the, which was in that first hour of the morning, even an hour and a half that just consent not only your morning but by eight o'clock your day is pretty much set. And if you can set your mornings up rate, you know, it really does set up your life the right way and it's transformational.
Allan: 18:34 It is, it is. You know, I'm probably not as good at that as I would like, but I'd chosen a lifestyle where I don't have to be as productive, if you will. For me, productivity is, is, you know, making sure one, I spent some time with my wife, you know, two I've done the things I need to do for my clients. And beyond that my workday's done. I can just, you know, relax if I need to or I can do something. So I guess it's sad to say it took me a long, long time to get to this place and I don't think I might've been as hard a charger as Phil, but I was a pretty hard charger in myself. I was actually training for a spartan race and I'm just doing this training and I had a trainer and I was working really hard, was getting really strong and everything was going the way I wanted it to Aand then I tore my rotator cuff and you know, it was like, okay, well what does this mean? And you know, I like physically going to be able to do this thing and I just committed myself, you know, being the guy. I can do this. And that's my, there was a concept in your book that you call, it Just Keeps Swimming. That I really like because I was like, okay, well that's where I was and now I might've been doing it for all the wrong reasons in the world, but I just really liked the concept of when things aren't necessarily what you want them to be, just continuing that move forward to saying, okay, I can't do overhead presses obviously what can I do? And I changed out my workouts working with my trainer. We figured out what I could do and that meant when I went to actually finally went in and got surgery done and then into PT, I was in much better shape than a lot of other people would have been because they would have just quit. They would've said, okay, well I thought I'm done. Can you kind of talk a little bit about the concept of to Just Keep Swimming and how you use it?
Jennifer: 20:28 Okay. Yes, so we had little kids. We loved the movie finding Nemo. I don't know if you are a fan of that movie, but it's just, it is a classic about little nemos who gets lost and his dad and Dory, what's his dad's name? Anyway, but Dory was the little, the blue fish and the two of them went on a journey and they had to end up in Australia. They were on a search for his long lost son who got picked up by some poachers. Fisherman. Anyways, a cute little story, but it's one scene in the story is where Dory and nemos Dad, I forget his name, it are in this whale. They got swollen by a friggin whale on this journey. And the metaphor is like in life, did you ever feel like you'd been swallowed by a whale? Right. Okay. And you know, we're inside this whale thinking, okay, this is it and it smells and there's carcasses inside that no ribs. And you're like, this is it. This is it. We're done. We're swalloed by a whale it's, it's over. Okay. And as nemos dad is just, you know, they'll never see nemo again. This is it. Dory bust into song. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, and we love this movie as a family, the Carroll family and Phil for some reason took this and ran with it and he used to put little signs all over the house, posted up on tack boards and things, a little mantras and one of them would always just keep swimming and just keep moving your feet. He had another philosophy of two steps forward. You have two steps forward, one step back that's life like two steps forward, one step back. You're still going to, as long as you keep moving forward, you're going to progress. Even if it's just baby step and if you're back to finding nemo after dory busted a song and Nemo's dad doesn't give up, the whale throws him through the blowhole and they end up in the harbor of Sydney and they find Nemo. So it has a happy ending.
Yes. The metaphor is to just keep moving and Phil really just did that and it was amazing. I was so hammered with this man my whole life. He was just such a go getter. He was just such a driver. He just, he, like I said, he never saw the obstacle. He only saw the opposite opportunities and he accomplished a lot of things. But the one, I remember this one day, he, we're sitting out in this chair in our backyard and it was, you know, he's used to be this huge big man that filled this big chair and he was now just this waste of a man and he had it hooked to an oxygen tank and I was watching, I was cleaning up his breakfast and I noticed them reaching down into the well of, or into the side of this chair. He'd obviously placed these little two pound weight and one of the time he started lifting these weights over his head, two pounds, little pink weights that I used to walk with. And I just, Ugh, I watched him in awe, I thought he's sitting there all by himself. He doesn't have a trainer. He doesn't know I'm looking and here's this man who is dying, but he's still gonna keep on swimming. He has the belief that my body's made to move and I'm going to keep moving. And I'm going to fight this till the end and sat there and I watched him slowly and painfully lift these two pound weight over his head for 10/15 minutes. And I've never been more in awe a human cause I just, I couldn't believe he was still fighting all on his own and we kept those two pound weight on the kitchen counter for up to a year after he passed. And it was just such a metaphor to not give up because in life we just have to keep moving forward. And many times we have races or Spartan races and we're, you know, we're athletic and we run into injuries and, and we have to keep moving forward because no matter what, even my dying husband still found reasons to keep strong enough for himself and his family should not ever really be dying.
He was living while dying right till his very last year breath, which is just, you know, it was really incredible to watch that. And even on my journey through my loss, I feel like I'm constantly thinking about that metaphor and thinking about this little two pound weights because it is, it is a journey and none of us are insulated from loss of challenge and chaos and how do we stay positive and keep on swimming when we hear the word I'm leaving your, you're fired, you're son or daughter has autism, have an injury and you can't finish the race. I mean we have various levels of these challenges, but I think it's just really important to just recognize that as long as we're moving forward. Just one baby step at a time and we're lifting a two pound weight up over our head, that that's how we can just keep our journey moving forward and not give up. Don't give up.
Allan: 25:11 Yeah. And there's a lot of this going on in the world. You know the rates of cancer just going up and none of us are actually invincible. None of us are immune to cancer. Rather we lived a really healthy life or not. It's still something that could be there and you know, the worst part of this, and I'm, I'm right up in there, I'll put my hand up and say, me too. We don't get ourselves, as guys, we don't treat ourselves as well as we should. Women are a little better at going in and getting their mammograms and getting their their thing done for one reason or another us guys are like, I don't feel sick, therefore I'm not. And that's not, that's not how this stuff works. So the, one of the clear messages out of the book that I, I want everyone to kind of take away from this is you're over 50 and you haven't gotten that appointment done. Go get that appointment. If it's the time that basically they're saying you should, yes you should. If there's enough data out there to say it's likely to happen to you. So don't ignore it. It's, it's, you know we get insurance because we know that something could happen. We get auto insurance because nothing could happen. It's outside of our control. And this is just kind of one of those insurance policies. By catching it early, you stand a much better chance of helping yourself. Can you kind of just, I mean, just, you know, I put the message out there but that to me that was the message that I'd like to get around this as well. Cause I didn't want that to be a monologue, but I kind of took it, didn't I?
Jennifer: 26:37 No, that's so, yes. You know, I look at it, I'm constantly talking to them, entrepreneurs and business people. It's just mostly my audience, partly because Phil was involved in a lot of different organizations, business organizations and they know his stories. So they've wanted me to share it with them. And it is this concept like treats your health, like you treat the businesses and do the due diligence on your health as you do in your businesses. I know these entrepreneurs, they do whatever deal they're doing, they do all the due diligence and they hire a slew of lawyers and they pay them a ton of money and they do all this research. And if there's one little red flag before they jump in, you know that's it. They walk away from a potential investment because of the research and the due diligence they've done on each of these deals.
And I just, I know Phil, I watched Phil do it for years, but I know he did not do that with his health. He just didn't get the information that he needed to make the right decisions. And He, you know, he did run marathons. He did eat organic, he was healthy. He did have a great physique. He, he looks extremely fit. He was fit but inside he just, he really didn't believe in going to the doctor, in fact he bragged about not going to the doctor or the dentist and it really backfired on him. And it's not to say he had a very, he had a very aggressive cancer. It might've taken his life anyway. But the fact was is that if he had been a bit more proactive or a lot more proactive about his health and you know, he was diagnosed at 47. I talked to men about getting a prostate check. Not waiting till they're 50 because it's, you know, it's a testosterone based test there. It's PSA, prostate specific antigen in the blood that they're testing. Not a perfect test, but it's, it gives you a huge fighting chance if you can detect it early enough that you can do something about it and if you can do something about it early enough, really there's a lot of other.
I mean Phil was 47 years old and he was diagnosed with prostate cancer stage four and had to have a prostatectomy and was insufficient at 47 I mean just even, that's a whole other conversation of the challenges of a young man facing that and it was horrific for him and it was just one of the, you know, anyway, it was, that's the whole, like I said, another whole story, but if you can catch it early enough, 97% of men survive this illness, so get the information, get a baseline at a younger age than 50 I know they say typically 50 but it's fed. The cancer is fed by testosterone. And so they just said that it's more aggressive in the younger men. So just get a prostate check early enough that you can start a baseline and then every year, every second year, just keep doing the test. And if it slightly goes up in it, there's signs that maybe you could have a cost state, might've prostate cancer and it can be dealt with that ignoring symptoms and once you have symptoms still has symptoms where he was urinating a lot, couldn't empty his bladder. Um, because he was 47 years, these conversations were happening in the locker room where it automatically triggered him that he might've prostate cancer. He, you know, probably, you know, he was diagnosed a lot earlier than most men. And so I do try to get men to just include it in their annual checkups to have this test done in their forties just to be safe and to just know that information up front so they can deal with it.
Allan: 30:04 And you get so many more options when you catch these things early on. So much is out of your control if it gets too aggressive, gets too far along. So, um, Jennifer, I define wellness as being the healthiest fittest and happiest you can be, what are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
Jennifer: 30:24 Yes. So I agree. I have like my retreats, I'm running my retreats now and they illuminate you and my three concepts are fun, Fab and Frisky. So I think fun factor is just to, it's never too late to rediscover what turns you on. And so I really believe in a creative, you know, tapping into your creative genius. So one of the things I teach or introduce women potentially in these retreats is art, comedy and dance and just getting, you know, making sure that you're doing things that are fun, that keep you laughing, that keeps you figuring out what turns you on about you. And then I think under the fab part is very much, you know, being fabulous and be healthy is feeling alive, feeling vibrant and healthy is making sure that you eat properly. It is, as you know, very much of being physically active and moving your body.
But I also, if I could say one of the biggest things I've discovered in the last 10 years, because even when Phil was sick, it's been six years since he passed. We didn't really value the concept of rest and meditation and like having staycations and going into your backyard, actually noticing that you have hummingbirds in your backyard that are really amazing to just watch and appreciate their flight and their little magical dances and their little whispers of messages. And we discovered that through this journey of Phil's illness and then my rediscovery of myself in my new life and kind of what is fun, fabulous and frisky about me. And I think that that rest factor is very important.
And the other thing, I think the number one thing to health as well as just trying to stay positive and choosing happiness and that comes, you know, to this, what turns you on to yourself? What is it that you find about yourself that makes you happy and keeps you positive? And looking through the worlds through those rose colored glasses. And so I think that's it. That's kind of just, those are probably my three things is to be positive, to find rest through meditation and just stillness, and then also just never stop kind of rediscover and what turns you on or what keeps you alive and happy and being the best self you can be.
Allan: 32:45 Those are really cool. Now, Jennifer, if someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about the book and the retreats that you're doing, uh, where would you like for me to send them?
Jennier: 32:55 Yeah, it's simple. Jennifer L. Carroll my website is https://jenniferlcarroll.com. And on that, you know, on my website you can certainly learn more about my book Beyond Invincible. And there's a tab about the illuminate you retreats that I'm putting on in Scottsdale, Arizona. I've got some intensive one day retreat going on and then I've got three day retreats that are going on as well and we tap into the rediscovering your fun feathered, frisky selves that we certainly have a lot of fun and so that you can learn about if you want to get more information on those things. I also have some video footage of our family and, and Phil, I did a little video show on Phil's last year of life. He himself talks about some of the lessons he learned living this journey of life and he's so positive and even in his last days. And so there's some footage on there. A show called following Phil that we did on, on Youtube and Facebook. So you can tap into a whole bunch of different resources and things on my, on my website.
Allan: 34:01 Okay, well you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/385 and I'll be sure to have a link there. So Jennifer, thank you so much for being a part of 40 plus fitness.
Jennifer: 34:12 Well thank you. And I really am hoping to, I'm really looking forward to following your, your journey in Panama on your sloth life.
Allan: 34:22 At the very least, because you know, Tammy was on about 10 episodes ago and so yeah, I'm fairly certain as we get things organized here and get a little bit more into it I'll have more episodes like that, so thank you.
Jennifer: 34:34 Cool. That'll be great. I'm really looking forward to learning more about you. Thank you. This is really, really great to talk to you today.
All right, so how did you like that? I really enjoyed that conversation with Jennifer. She's got a really, really cool outlook on life and things are really looking up for us. I'm really, really happy to have had that conversation. I hope you took something valuable from today's show. You know, I wanted to give you a little bit of an update of what's going on around my world. As you know, I bought Island Fitness down here in Bocas del Toro, Panama. So I'm getting into the day to day of that. And it's Kinda got my juices going to want to do a little bit more training than I've been doing.
I'm not saying I've shrugged on any of that. I mean I am working directly with my clients but I really haven't gone out and said, hey, I want new clients, but I'm opening up five new slots for my one on one personal training and these are very intense, very specialized personalized training sessions that we have directly on the phone via email, you're part of the group. So there's also group accountability. It's a really cool set of features. I'd love to have you talk to me about it to discuss how one-on-one online personal training can help you reach all of your health and fitness goals.
I know during the summer we get busy, things here and there and a lot of times our health and fitness goals just sort of fall by the wayside and I don't want that to happen to you. If you have a coach, if you have accountability, you can stay on track and enjoy your summer. So why don't you go ahead and just send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, that's email@example.com. We could have a short little dialogue about it. I'll send you to the application form if it looks like you're a fit, and then I'm going to accept five new clients during the month of July. So starting July 1st, which is today. You want to get on that list? You want to go ahead and email me so I can get you in there, firstname.lastname@example.org. Really looking forward to meeting you, really looking forward to helping you reach your health and fitness goals.
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Today we're going to interview a very, very cool guy. I know you're going to enjoy this interview quite a bit because we're going to talk about happiness. As you probably know, if you've listened to this podcast for awhile, I've recently moved down to Panama and so I've been kind of going through a kind of a stage to move and we came back to the states a couple of weeks ago and moved out some things out of our house to make it a little easier to facilitate moving in closing, when someone does actually make an offer. But it's also been a pretty stressful few weeks and try and get that done. Get our dog down here to Panama, which was an ordeal in and of itself. And also sign the contract and by Island Fitness here in Bocas del Toro.
So now I am a proud gym owner of Island Fitness in Bocas del Toro. If you find yourself down in Bocas, please do come by and drop in for a workout. I'd love to meet you.
But again, that's been a very, very stressful time. So I'm, I'm really glad to go back and reflect on that with a this renewed look at what we were talking about today. If there's anything I can do to help you though, I do really want to help you reach your health and fitness goals. It goes well beyond what we do here at the podcast. I'm all in for helping you find wellness and I'm offering a free 15 minute consult, a no obligation, just a free phone call. We get on the conference call line and we'll talk about the things that matter most to you and your wellness.
You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/15min and book your free 15 minute consult. That link actually just takes you directly to my calendar so you can just set up the link and nothing else to do. Get on the phone with me and I can try to help you reach your health and fitness goals this Summer.
Tal Ben-Shahar knows the power of happiness. In fact, he teaches courses at Harvard on positive psychology and happiness. On this episode, we discuss his book, Short Cuts to Happiness.
Allan: 02:56 Tal, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Tal Ben-Shahar: 03:00 Thank you. Thank you for having me here.
Allan: 03:02 Your book is called Shortcuts to Happiness: Life Changing Lessons From My Barber. And your barber's name is Avi last time I went to a barber and I didn't have one that was nearly as cool as yours.
Tal Ben-Shahar: 03:28 Yeah. Well, you know, I must say that during those two years I had at much shorter haircut than usual and not just me also my boys. So I took them more often than necessary to the barber.
Allan: 03:40 Yeah. I get it. It sounds like a really cool place that it seems sometimes you just pop in just to hang out. It was, it was really kind of that, that cool of a place.
Tal Ben-Shahar: 03:50 Yeah. You know, in many ways, I saw it as an island of sanity in our crazy busy world, where things are up in the air and everything is virtual. And here was something, a real, authentic, simple, and wise.
Allan: 04:07 Yeah. My wife and I moved to Panama not long ago to try to find exactly what you're talking about. We were, we literally are on an island and yesterday we went to this this farm, it's an organic farm. They do cocoa and coconuts and all of that. So he taught us all about, walked us all over his property it was really cool to just kind of, I guess I would say disconnect, but it really was reconnect because we spend more time online I think then I do offline and that's really kind of a sad statement. But, I do appreciate that you had that opportunity to hang out with Avi and learn even probably more than probably a second book coming I guess is the best way for me to explain.
Tal Ben-Shahar: 04:49 This is a sequel. Yes. I am actually hoping, I must say I'm actually hoping that other people will write sequels. Cause I think maybe the, the most important, one of the most important lessons I learned is that wisdom is a ubiquitous, it's everywhere. For 25 years I've been in academia, you know, still am and most of my primary source for me was the academic research, ancient wisdom. You know, from the great thinkers, from Plato, Aristotle, Confucius and Suddenly I, when once I opened my eyes or ears, I realize that deep wisdom that is there was just a literally in my neighborhood.
Allan: 05:29 And that's what I thought was so cool is you know, one of the things you did in the book, and I'll have to look it up here real quick because I actually, as soon as I read that chapter, I pulled down the book. It's a fiction book is called the Schopenhauer Cure.
Tal Ben-Shahar: 05:44 Yes, by Irvin D. Yalom.
Allan: 05:46 I've downloaded that book that's now on my reading list for the next one because I just thought it was really cool that you were looking and tying these things together from the conversations that having with your barber to a book you may have read somewhere else, even if it was a novel. And just kind of like, I you said it's just this birth of wisdom that you're getting in your, in your local environment.
Tal Ben-Shahar: 06:08 Yes,and what I realized is that the minute I decided to write that book. It happened. When I was having my haircut and I was not having a good day, but I, you know, went for the haircut. 20 minutes later I come out, you know, just looking better, but also feeling better. And that's the moment I said I have to write a book about this guy because I wasn't the only one having these experiences under his scissors and tutelage. And the minute I decided to write this book, suddenly this almost, this whole world opened up. And, uh, every time I went to have a haircut or took my kids to have a haircut, there were more and more pearls of wisdom. It's just about having, you know, opening our eyes, opening our ears to the opportunities.
Allan: 06:55 And that was what again, like I said, really cool because the book opened my eyes to a few things that I guess I, you know, I knew, I think, like you said, a lot of this stuff is there. It's just sometimes it gets buried in us. And one of the first topics that I kind of want to get into because as soon as soon as I read it, I was like, ah, that's it was your chapter on posture and the impact it has on us psychologically if we're not in a good posture.
Tal Ben-Shahar: 07:22 Yeah. You know, the connection between mind and body. And then in the west primarily we don't recognize this connection. And I thought about it when my kid was having a haircut and I saw how Avi essentially straightened his back and suddenly his posture changed. And I could see that psychologically he changed as well. And as soon as he did that, you know, I thought to all the research out there on the importance of posture, showing that, you know, for example, people who walk briskly with their shoulders back and hands swinging are happier. Also if they just fake it. In other words, if you fake walking, cause even if you don't feel, feel that way, you still start walking this way, you actually start to feel better. Or if you put on a on a smile, happy face, even if you initially fake it, you become it over time. So it's the connection between our postures in our psychological state, our external state in our internal state.
Allan: 08:29 Yeah. Since we traveled to Panama, I haven't had a chance to move my studio stuff down and I have this adjustable desks and I've been in this apartment that we rented. It's near town. It's perfectly located for us to learn where things are. But I'm literally sitting at a kitchen counter on a, on a chair and I just realized as I was reading the book, because it's on my computer as well as I was all hunched down and I, you know, closed and leaning forward and I was like, let's try this. I got up, I get up and actually walked to the store and when I got back, it's like I had drank a pot of coffee. I felt so much better. I had so much more energy. And so I think just, just kind of taking that moment when we realize, hey, you know, I'm not open I'm closed and I need to open myself up. I think there's a lot of joy, a lot of happiness and positive vibes that are going to come out of just kind of realizing the body is connected to the mind and vice versa. And they both can be used as tools to help the other.
Tal Ben-Shahar: 09:30 Exactly. So the fact that it's a loop between them in a loop, you know, circular relationship, uh, cycle means that we can start anywhere. We can start by changing our mind. We can start by changing our, uh, our posture. Now the interesting thing is that there is another loop, not an internal loop, but an external loop. In other words, if a, you know, you walk to the store and you know, slouch, looking down, you're unlikely to have interactions with others. Whether when you open yourself, up physically then others are much more likely to respond to you in the same way, which of course will lead to a, to an upward spiral.
Allan: 10:12 Yeah, I know my career is as an intern when I was an internal auditor, I tended to have more of a, like you said, a closed posture at work. And that affected my relationship with everybody at work. You know, they saw me as this scary guy and even though we were on the same team, the, you know, working for the same company it did, it did put off that vibe that I was unapproachable and it's sometimes difficult for me offline now, you know, just dealing day to day with just normal people to have the right vibe. And so I do need to keep myself cognizant of how I'm projecting.
Tal Ben-Shahar: 10:46 Yeah. And you know, as, as you were talking, I'm thinking of something else regarding our life in the office. You know, we spend a lot of time in the uh, in our isoffice sitting down and it's very unhealthy to spend all these, uh, all these hours. Even if you are sitting up on a positive, open posture, just being static, being sedentary is unhealthy. There are doctors who actually are talking today about sitting is the new smoking now. I think there are exaggerating but not much. Meaning there's a lot of research showing just how bad sitting for you know, eight hours, 10 hours a day is for us. And the suggestion is that the rule of thumb is, you know, every half hour get up for, even if it's 10 20 seconds, you know, get up and move around and then go back to sit. This will have an impact both in your psychological wellbeing as well as your physical wellbeing.
Allan: 11:45 Yeah, there was a, there's a lot of people that follow this thing called Pomodoro. Are you familiar with that? No. Okay. It's basically where you have a work and you know you're gonna be sitting in there doing this work task. You set your clock for 25 minutes and you just focus on that one task for your 25 minutes and when the 25 minutes is up, you now have a five minute break to get up, move around to not think about that project, to stare at blue sky, to do anything that would give you some moment of, of rest, some moment of refreshment, and then you can go back for another 25 minutes. And uh, they've found scientifically that people are a lot more, um, effective, a lot more productive following that method.
Tal Ben-Shahar: 12:27 Yes, I can certainly see why that happens. And again, the impact is both psychological and physiological.
Allan: 12:36 There's another important loop that you talk about in the book that I think a lot of us forget and it reminded me of, you know, when you read books like the blue zones and things like that, about how people are living longer and healthier, happier and healthier lives. It's about being connected is like being part of the whole.
Tal Ben-Shahar: 12:52 Yeah. You know, number one predictor of happiness is relationships. There's a wonderful study at Harvard. It was, it started almost a century ago. It followed the Harvard students as well as people from the community around Cambridge, Massachusetts followed them for over 75 years. And, um, what was fun at the end of the 75 years after collecting quite literally millions of data points. What was fun was that there was one major predictor of both health, physical health and happiness, psychological health, and um, and that was relationships. Now the interesting thing about relationships was that it didn't matter what kind of relationships, meaning some people had romantic relationships that they enjoy for, for decades. Others had very close family ties, others had very close intimate friends. Um, professional relationships, it didn't matter, but people who had close, intimate, real, genuine relationships, were both happier as well as healthier. The best predictor. Now, today, you know, you alluded to this earlier today, we're losing this connection because real relationships are being substituted by virtual relationships. And unfortunately, 1000 friends on social media are no substitute for that one, you know, best friend that one or two intimate relationships.
Allan: 14:21 Yeah, it's a 400 square foot apartment right now. So my wife and I have been spending a lot of intimate time together and you know, at first I thought when we first got here, I'm like, you know, we're going to be, we're going to be fighting all the time and I'll say there's been some, you know, some moments, little flare ups here and there, but really I feel much more connected to her, to the world, just having this opportunity to have this time with her.
Tal Ben-Shahar: 14:44 Yes. Um, I can, I can absolutely see that. The other thing though is also, you know, in the best relationships, whether it's the romantic relationships, whether it's friendships, there are disputes, there are disagreements. And there are no sterile or perfect relationships. In fact, a very important part of a healthy long-term relationship is, um, dealing with the conflict to disputes.
Allan: 15:08 Well, when you're in a one little bedroom place together, there's a few, there's a few here and there, but no, really, it's, it's been pretty, it's been pretty awesome. There's another chapter you had in here. One of the things you said about the book that I think's important is these, these lessons are not something you just read through one time and say, oh, okay, I got it and I'm going to follow this. You'd go back to these, I think these are some great lessons for you just have this book nearby. Uh, and when you feel okay, I'm angry, or I'm not connected or I'm not happy, flip through the just the table of contents. I went through kind of an episode earlier this week and I got angry. I just, you know, and so I found myself just very angry at this event. And I went back actually because I'd read this chapter before I went back and read it again. And so that's on anger management and I have to say it did help me kind of put this all back into perspective. And I'm not going to say I perfectly managed that situation, but it's, it's, it is past me now. And so can you talk a little bit about how we can approach anger?
Tal Ben-Shahar: 16:08 Sure. So, you know, if I can tell the background behind that chapter, which was a real fun chapter to write. So, you know, I was having my haircut and this woman just storms into the barber shop, all angry and upset. And Avi asked her, you know, what's up? And she says, well, you know this. And then she used an expletive, this guy, you know, cuts me off, uh, how dare he, and so on and so on. And Avi says to her, you know, I have a, I have a method of dealing with this kind of behavior on other people's parts. And she says, what. And you know, we both both actually thought, you know, he said, I beat him up because, you know, is a strong guy. But no, he takes another other routes. And what he says is that if he's, let's say waiting for a parking spot and you know, the, the parking spot frees up and is this, you know, he's been waiting and as soon as he tries to go in with a car, an SUV cuts him off.
Tal Ben-Shahar: 17:01 And then he said to us, he said, what I imagined then is that a cow cut me off and you know, both of us, you know, just laugh and say, a cow? and he says, exactly because when you're thinking of a cow, you laugh and a, and then you're not angry. And you know, he was, he was actually basically talking about some very interesting research that has been conducted over the last 50 years on emotions. And the basic idea here is that you cannot experience to emotions. Simulatanously for example, especially if they are opposites. Emotions such as amusement, a cow is cutting me off, an anger and SUV cut me off or empathy and anger and therefore introducing some humor into the mix. Actually shift our mindset as well as the set away from away from anger. And, uh, I must say I've been using this very often, not just when, you know, when people cut me off when on the road, but in other occasions, you know, imagining something funny when I tend to be angry or upset. It's very simple. It's, you know, it's even silly, but it's the silliness of it that makes it so effective.
Allan: 18:10 And that's what I kind of liked about it, was it's something internal that you can control. You know, if you recognize that you're having an emotion and that emotion is not the frame of mind that you want to be, and it's not your ideal state, you have this tool click and you internalize the humor, have a little chuckle and then move on about your day.
Tal Ben-Shahar: 18:31 Yes, exactly. And I think the thing that you're pointing to is the idea of, uh, of choice. I have a choice. I have a choice whether to focus on in a big evil SUV or a, or a funny, cute cow.
Allan: 18:47 Yeah. In my case, it's, a person that revokes a contract that I thought was going to be good for us, and then boom, it's gone. And I'm like, okay. And I'm powerless. So there was a bit of anger and then I'm kinda like, well, you know, um, how would I feel if that was a penguin, you know, that I had to prove on the Godrej no, it does. It is what it is. You know, I'm a monkey pees on you here on the, you know, in the jungle and you just, you just keep going. You know, he's just, you know, you don't get angry at the monkey, you know, the, the choice part of it is also, I think, kind of a critical aspect to this whole management of happiness or trying to find happiness. And I wouldn't say so much. You call it shortcuts. None of these are really shortcuts, but they are, they are the most direct path. And sometimes getting somewhere that you want to get is not about going fast. It's actually about slowing down.
Tal Ben-Shahar: 19:45 Yeah. I think that this is, um, this is such an important tip or shortcut you call it in, especially in our modern life when things are so fast, when that, when there is in constant flux of information and uh, and noise and happenings and you know, you, you moved to Panama, I'm, I'm assuming at least to slow, too slow down this frantic pace significantly. Yeah. And the question is how can we deal with the frantic pace and it's in one way is to just, uh, you know, move away, retire getaway from, from it all. The other approach is to find, again what I said at the beginning to find islands of sanity in this crazy busy world and island of sanity can be a going out with a dear friend to dinner and switching your phone off and not being available and really being there with that person or going for a walk once again without technology or meditating, but it's these small breaks that can make a very big difference.
Tal Ben-Shahar: 20:51 You know, one of the things that I talk about a lot is dealing with stress. And you know, stress is a not of an epidemic in the U S it's a pandemic, right? It's a worldwide phenomenon that even Australians are suffering from excessive stress. And the question is, what do you do with the stress? So what, you know, one way to think about it, you said, okay, I want to eliminate it. I don't want stress in my life. The other way to think about it, which is actually better, healthier way to think about it is the stress in and of itself is not bad. Uh, you know, I go to the gym and I lift weights. What am I doing to my muscles? I stress my muscles, not a bad thing. I actually get stronger as a result unless I don't take recovery. You know, if I just lift weights and more weights and more weights than this stress mounts and I get injured, its the same way in life, it's okay to experience stress as long as they are also periods of recovery. And so we need to punctuate our crazy busy lives with recovery, whether it's recovery, as I said, in terms of that meal with a friend or a good night's sleep or a day off at least once a week.
Allan: 21:56 Yeah, that is so important. And I think we, it is hard in today's society to actually like turn off, to leave your phone off, to take a day off because you kind of feel like something's leaving you. You're losing something. There's this fear you're going to miss out on something. And so it is this, to me, this one might be the, the hardest thing to really kind of wrap your mind around is that if you don't recover, then the stress is not good for you. And it's like you said.
Tal Ben-Shahar: 22:25 That's when burn out happens. That's when an injury happens. It is bad for you. And the thing is that, as you said, it's not easy to disconnect. And the reason why it's so hard is because most people in the in developed countries are addicted, literally addicted to technology. And last week I was giving a lecture somewhere in, in Latin America and um, the audience were, um, partners in that particular firms, very senior people and their spouses. So there were 400, uh, couples there. And I said to them, look, I have a question for you. I don't want you to answer it aloud just in your mind. Just think about the answer. And my question was in the morning when you, when you wake up, first thing you open, your eyes do turn, who do you turn to? And then you know, there are chuckles in the room. And I said, do you attend, do turn to your lovely husband, wife, partner? Or did you turn the other way? And it was a rhetorical question. I mean obviously most people turn to the phone first thing when they opened their eyes in the morning, now I said to them earlier. I said, look, this is an addiction like any other addiction. Now imagine if you're an alcoholic, would you have a bottle of Tequila right next to you in bed as you open your eyes? Of course not. Why do we have our phone right next to us when we go to sleep,
Allan: 23:55 Well, I know one answer I always get when I talk to folks about this because I typically won't have my phone right by the bed. I've been fortunate enough to, to know that that's not what I want. But they use their phone for their alarm. They use their phone for a of other things. And so it again, that's what makes it so hard is that you see this, this is a valuable tool, but it's also a problem.
Tal Ben-Shahar: 24:17 Yes. Yeah. You know, I, I hear you. And about a year ago I actually bought myself an old fashioned watch with an alarm clock specifically for that. But I don't need to put the, uh, the phone next to me.
Allan: 24:30 Perfect. Alright, so Tal. I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay? Well,
Tal Ben-Shahar: 24:43 so, you know, the, the first, uh, the first thing is that we need to allow in unhappiness so that we can fulfill our potential for happiness. You know, there's a common misconception that a happy life is a life, which is devoid of a painful emotions. But in fact, there are only two kinds of people who don't experience painful emotions such as sadness or anger or a frustration or anxiety or invy. Two kinds of people who don't experience these painful emotions and they are the psychopaths and dead people. And so experiencing these painful emotions, it's actually a good sign. That means we're not a psychopath and we're alive. The problem in today's world is that, especially given social media where we see others who seem to be happy all the time, uh, we think there was something wrong with us when we experienced painful emotions and we reject them.
Tal Ben-Shahar: 25:36 And when we reject painful emotions, they only intensify. Moreover, when we reject painful emotions were also inadvertently rejecting the pleasurable emotions. So the first step is accepting painful emotions. And by the way, this applies to our mental health as well as to our physical health as suppressing repressing, rejecting emotions is essentially a prescription for not only unhappiness, it's a prescription for illness. So that's one thing. The second thing, physical exercise. So much research on a physical exercise and its importance once again, not just for physical wellbeing, for a psychological wellbeing. More and more psychologists are talking about physical exercises, the wonder drug and so as as little as 30 minutes, three times a week, and punctuate your day to day with the ongoing movement. You know, that's enough. Or I should say that's the minimum we need to sustain mental health and then of course I mentioned relationships is the number one predictor of happiness. Putting time aside. It's also the number one predictor of physical health and finally gratitude. You know, Oprah was right, an attitude of gratitude does contributes to to health and happiness.
Allan: 26:55 I completely agree. Those are, those are really cool. Thank you for sharing. If someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about your book, Shortcuts To Happiness, where would you like for me to send them?
Tal Ben-Shahar: 27:07 Well, on my website, which is TalBenShahar.com there is access to my books also to my own online programs that are offered to the happiness studies academy. So I'd love people to visit and join.
Allan: 27:23 Okay, well you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/386 and I'll be sure to have the link there. So Tal, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Tal Ben-Shahar: 27:34 Thank you Allan. Thank you very much.
Allan: 27:40 I hope you enjoyed today's episode and if you did, would you please consider becoming a supporter of the podcast? It's pretty easy. You go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/patreon and that will take you to a website where you can actually contribute to the show. There's different access levels that you have so you can get some additional goodies on top of just being mentioned in the show notes or something like that, but even a dollar an episode is, you know, it's not asking a lot I don't think, but I really would appreciate your support if you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/patreon and become a patron of the 40+ Fitness Podcast. Thank you.
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Allan Misner: 01:20 Dr. Bubbs welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Bubbs: 01:23 Allan, thanks so much for having me on.
Allan Misner: 01:25 You know, occasionally I will run into a book, your book is called peak, the new science of athletic performance that is revolutionizing sports. And like I said, I run into a book and I start reading it and then the author's cites this study. And so now I'm on Google trying to read the study. So then I read this study abstract and I'm like, oh, that's really interesting. So then I pull up the actual study and I read the actual study then to get back into the book and I read a little bit further and I find another one.
Dr. Bubbs: 01:56 There are lots of opportunities.
Allan Misner: 01:56 Yes there is. This is, this was a very well researched book and the research that you went to, I was actually pleasantly surprised that that was really good research. It was not this, uh, you know, put together by some, you know, by Gatorade and they're trying to advertise their sports drink. These were good solid studies that really do back the science of this book. And so I was really impressed with the citations and I have to admit, because I usually read all of every book before I do an episode, but I've still got a ways to go on yours because I'm learning new things pretty much every page I turn.
Dr. Bubbs: 02:38 Well listen, I appreciate that. And yeah, definitely the book is all about connecting people with the experts in their respective field in terms of not only athletic performance but human performance in terms of just upgrading how you look, feel and perform and also providing people with just some general rules to follow as well as what you just mentioned, which is that deep dive that if you do want to go down the rabbit hole, then there's lots of places that you can definitely do that as well.
Allan Misner: 03:02 Yeah. and you know, I guess the other side of this is a lot of times people will sit there and we use the word performance and yes, you're dealing with a lot of athletes and coaches and that type of thing. But in reality, the way I look at it is human performance is just sure ability to do the thing you want to do the best you possibly can. And a lot of the lessons that are here that even though we're, in many cases sometimes we're talking about those elite athletes, there are parallels to how we want to manage our health. You know, in terms of longevity, in terms of, capacity and then just overall wellbeing
Dr. Bubbs: 03:40 100%. I mean, as you get to working with really elite athletes and Professional Olympic level athletes, I mean, the level of training and the volume of training, the intensity of training is a tremendous load on the body. And it compromises health at that elite level. And for folks who are just trying to improve their health or lose weight or if they're struggling with whether it's weight gain, you know, pre diabetes, high blood pressure, those are big stressors on the body and they're there 24/7. So even though it's coming from different areas, you know, when you talk about human performance, the stress load can be just as high, if not higher. And folks that are struggling with their health as they are in and athletes were really pushing themselves.
Allan Misner: 04:17 Yeah, the statistics are baffling to me. You know, half, half the people in the United States, have prediabetes or worse. The obesity rate is just astronomical. So a lot of people right now are really struggling with their health. And I think it's just a common misconception of, I go in and get a blood test and the doctor tells me I'm fine. Uh, cause I had a consult I was doing just a week or so ago. And he told me, he went to the doctor and his blood glucose levels resting, fasting blood glucose levels were hovering right around a hundred. And I said, Ooh, I think you should try and get that down closer to 80 and maybe even below 80 if you can. And he thought I was, you know, a little weird. He's like, what are you talking about? My doctor says I'm fine. And I'm like, well, you know, your doctor is looking at a reference range, that includes a lot of sick people and so he's getting you to what he's calling average and I think you want to get closer to optimal. So you introduce in the book the concept called the blood glucose dysfunction spectrum. And, and I really liked that because it doesn't, it's not this, you're sick or you're healthy. It really kind of goes to that range of you're really, really sick. You're kind of, average. You're doing okay. And then your peak. Can you kind of talk about that spectrum and how it relates to us as humans being healthy and overall performance?
Dr. Bubbs: 05:47 Absolutely. I mean, I think the first thing is, you know, it's nothing inherently new in a sense, just looking at things in terms of a continuum. In science and in medicine, we have to define things. And so when we look at things like blood glucose dysfunction, we say, well, if you're less than a hundred milligrams per deciliter, then you're considered normal. If your levels are between a 100 and let's say 125 milligrams per deciliter and a course, these are, you know, us, measurements, then you be considered prediabetic. Now that's a pretty wide range. And so this idea of continuum is, well, if you're 99, you're normal, but if you're one on one, you're now prediabetic? That's, that's a pretty small shift there. So we have to then consider that as you move up that chain, if you get above 125 and now you're considered diabetic. And so classically in medicine we've said if you are type two diabetic, it is irreversible.
Dr. Bubbs: 06:39 It needs to be managed with medications and therefore people tend to get put on medications for prolonged periods of time. Sometimes those medications, if they do need to take things like insulin can make them gain more weight, which tends to make the process worse. But really if we even zoom out just for a second to kind of look at the general population. This past summer I was in the UK and they had a picture of a beach from the 1970s cause there was a heatwave this past summer in the UK. So they had a picture about 40-50 years ago of a beach in the UK. And you literally hundreds and hundreds of people in this photo. It was difficult to pick out anybody who was really overweight or obese to almost impossible. It didn't look like anybody was, you fast forward, you know, 40 50 years later and we're, you know, two thirds of the population now are overweight or obese and starts saying, okay, well what the heck's going on here and there, of course it's very complex and there are lots of different reasons, but part of the book is we're trying to hammer on some of these bigger points.
And one of the ones that really hits at home as the, the amount of household spending on what they call ultra processed food, things that come in boxes and bags and junk food, so to speak. And if we look at the US and the UK, it's over 50% of what we buy comes in a box or a bag. We think about the European countries. This is where it really stands out because if you go to places like Spain, it drops all the way down to 20% places like France, 14%, Italy, you know, classic Mediterranean diets and those regions, 13%. And when you get into places like Portugal has only 10%. So this is really interesting because now we have this idea of effectively when you're eating processed foods, you're getting stuff that's packaged, even things like cereals or packaged breads, pizzas, all that stuff, um, comes from these types of foods.
And that's an easy way for people to, if you start to limit some of those foods, you're going to reduce your total caloric intake. You're going to reduce typically your sugar intake, but also your intake of added fats and these foods as well. Cause there's a nice, you know, processed food companies are pretty smart. They make sure that combination of salt, sugar and fat is just the right amount to really stimulate the brain, stimulate all the, you know, the, the hunger and the thirst and to make you want to eat more of it. Right. That becomes interesting because obviously in the news now we see is it sugar, is it carbs? Then we have folks focusing on fat and a lot of the newer research now coming out, I mean a lady named Emma Stimpson and her um, group there at the National Institute for Diabetes in their research, they found that effectively it's the combination.
So when you put high fat together with high sugar, which is again what you typically find in ultra processed foods, that was an independent predictor of weight gain and obesity and overeating. So those are some really big points to say, okay, this is one of the, our food environment plays a big role in this whole story. And if we come all the way back to that sort of idea of blood glucose dysfunction, this is where you'll find a lot of folks hovering up towards the top end of that range. So hovering up around 101, 110, 125 so that should definitely be a little bit of a yellow flag to say, or a red flag, if you will, to say, okay, we've got to go back and look at what you're doing from an attrition standpoint. But also things like exercise, things like sleep, things like stress. Those can also increase blood glucose levels as well. So just knowing where you are in that spectrum and then comparing yourself to yourself year after year, after year rather than, as you mentioned, the general population because unfortunately, yeah, you're comparing yourself to a group that aren't in the best of health.
Allan Misner: 10:15 Yeah, I know they'll do these studies sometimes and they'll say, okay, well what did you eat last week? And, you know, someone will go through and kind of list out and I think if they actually truly logged what they ate, that they would find that they're in a box or a bag, a lot more than they think. I mean, I'm here in Panama on an island and I was thinking, okay, you know, we have fresh produce, it's year round because the weather's great, It's moist, wet and rains. And I said, I'm not going to have access to all kinds of fresh, healthy food, but there's all these supermarkets here that are catering to, you know, the, the backpackers and the expats and there they're carrying the same bagged and boxed crap that I think could get in the United States, uh, and charging people a premium to have it for sure. But people are buying it.
And you know I think that's kind of one of the core lessons as you come into this is, you know, if you're finding yourself in that spectrum and you're moving up rather than at least maintaining or moving down, you're not doing what's best for yourself. And I liked that in the book you were talking about. When we started talking about longevity, you know, from an athlete's perspective, it's their ability to continue to perform at that high level but it also involves our ability to live longer and they're kind of following the same track if we can keep ourselves where we're supposed to be. So can you talk about how this concept of Blood Glucose in our blood glucose levels, how that's affecting our longevity?
Dr. Bubbs: 11:51 Definitely. I mean, that's one where, you know, having some metrics and some markers to assess year end year out of how you're doing is a really important thing. And Blood Glucose is fasting. Blood Glucose can be a really nice one of, when we look at mortality rates, what do people die of? What's the number one killer of, when we look at that heart disease by far, you know, almost 50% it's about 41% of fatalities are from heart disease. So we say, okay, well what happens then if you're a person whose blood glucose as you mentioned, like your friend there, maybe you're in the 100 milligrams, 110, 125 or maybe you're even prediabetic. Well what does it tell us about some of your risks? Well, you know, there was a large study done in the late nineties a 22 years study on fasting glucose. A risk factor for your heart disease risk. And this is done in folks that were non diabetic.
And so in this one, if you were actually greater than 85 milligrams per deciliter, so you're in that upper core tile, that top fourth you're actually at much greater risk about a 40% higher risk than the, than the other folks, the lowest folks in the, in the study. So that's an issue around heart disease risks. A follow up there that's called the Whitehall study that was also done in this connection between fasting blood glucose and cardiovascular disease. And what they found takes it a step further because what they found is that as your blood fasting blood glucose increases, so does your risk of cardiovascular disease. So again, another really important point to kind of hammer home how this can be a decent metric for us to track. And interestingly, I found the strongest association was in 40 to 49 year olds, which typically obviously as you get older, your risk increases, you know, but one of the things that we tend to forget about is things like lack of sleep.
You know, if you don't sleep enough at night that following morning, your blood glucose levels will tend to be higher. And if you do that persistently, that can really lead to, you know, causing you to have persistently higher blood sugar levels. You see this even if you do a lot of traveling, if you take a lot of planes, for work, travel, jetlag, all that type of thing, you'll notice even if you do a blood test on the back end of that, your blood sugars will actually be higher than they normally would be. And that all comes down to this idea of, you know, lack of sleep is a stressor as well. And so that's kind of the trickier one to put your finger on with folks is you know, that stress load in their life can be a key point as well in terms of how good their blood glucose control is.
And you know, for the athlete that typically come from intense training and we see that as well, athletes who are really fit great blood glucose control. If we really pushed them hard, their fasting glucose in the morning, will also be elevated. Now in the acute term, that's not a problem. It's okay to have that happen. But if you're at a period where you're resting or you're deloading if you're an athlete training, then it should come back down into this ideal range of, you know, definitely less than a hundred and ideally less than sort of 80, 85. Um, that would be what we'd be looking for in those periods of rest. And I think for a lot of folks, sometimes when you get a few metrics done and get a bit of testing done, that's when you can actually really, you can put a number to things for people and that really hammers home the idea of, okay, let's, we've got to go back to how you're eating, how you're moving all these lifestyle factors and figure out what are the biggest levers that you need to adjust to help, uh, improve your overall health. And as you mentioned, just improve your, your longevity or what we call health span, which is the amount of years that you live in, in very good health, your total control of independence. Um, you know, unfortunately the last 8 to 10 years, the last decade of most people's lives is spent in pretty poor health and you know, needing, requiring care, full-time care even. And so that's really what we want to strive for folks, is to be able to, to age healthfully.
Allan Misner: 15:36 Yeah. And I think that was one of the kind of big wake up calls here because you know, you hear a lot about particularly some elite athletes that really push themselves over the years and how it adversely affects their health in particularly longevity, you would think, okay, they're eating the best quality foods and you know, they're aware of the nutrition and you know, they've got the right people behind them making sure, of course, you know, the glycemic index of their food is there, so they're not necessarily eating, you know, all the crap because of the way they're pushing their bodies because they're not getting the sleep because they're flying, you know, from east coast to west coast to play a game or being in a match or do an event. They're taking a toll on their health and it's showing in their numbers. If we were looking at it, just trying to reverse engineer and say, how did I get here? There's a lot more to it than just what you put in your mouth.
Dr. Bubbs: 16:31 100% and I think you know, one of the big differences as well as this, as you mentioned, if somebody is physically fit than what we're seeing is just an acute picture. And because they have such greater resiliency, when they do take the stress load down, everything falls back into these sort of normal ranges are ideal ranges. Where for, unfortunately for a lot of folks that that stress or that season doesn't end, so to speak, right? You're always going to have the long hours at the office. You're always not sleeping enough because of the kids or projects or family commitments. And so all of a sudden that becomes your chronic picture. And that's definitely when it's time to, to figure out how we can tweak your exercise program or make sure you're getting sufficient sleep and all these things that are real fundamental pillars, but they're often times not quite as sexy as some of the new, you know, whether it's a supplement or medication or or or, or trendy exercise that comes out that people tend to get their attention directed towards. But when you look at what the best in the world are doing, it really is just being excellent in the fundamentals.
Allan Misner: 17:26 Yeah. I liked the story you shared about Federer and how kind of maybe one of his secret weapons of how he came back and really started dominating again was just focusing on something as simple as getting enough sleep.
Dr. Bubbs: 17:39 Yes, it's incredible. I mean this was obviously this, the research on sleep in the last decades really exploded in an interview I did with Dr. Cheri Mah who is a medical doctor and sleep expert that works with professional sport and I had her on my podcast and and she was mentioning how he was definitely an early adopter and for quite a while there was trying not to let the cat out of the bag so to speak because it was having some significant impact on his performance and obviously now more people know about the benefits of sleep for performance in terms of things like reaction time, sprint speed, accuracy, all these, these types of metrics, but also for general population in terms of memory, cognitive function. Absolutely crucial. The tricky part is even despite everyone kind of knowing now that sleep's good for us, when you look at the numbers, we're still not, you know, not getting enough. Even the athletes aren't getting enough. The average person gets 6 1/2 hours of sleep a night, 30% of the population get less than six. And that's when things really started to nose dive. I mean, if you're getting less than six, that's one big flashing lights on the dashboard of your car start to go off. And you know, it's definitely time to check the engine or a reboot a little bit.
Allan Misner: 18:43 Yeah. In the book you introduced, I mean, it's a concept I've known about for awhile because I'm obviously talking to folks about this all the time. It's carbohydrate tolerance. And the gist of it when I'm having a conversation with a client would be, you know, how many carbs should I have? And you know, I'd be like, okay, well it depends, you know, for me, I'm like, depends and they don't like that answer. But can you talk a little bit about carbohydrate tolerance and why what works for one individual may not work for another?
Dr. Bubbs: 19:13 Yeah, this is definitely, I mean, nuance is definitely an area that's, that's tricky for folks because people want to have, especially when you're starting out, you want to have a nice clear roadmap or plan of what I should do. Um, and so if we look at the example of the popularity of the low carb diets, you know, something I use a lot in my clinical practice, again, if we zoom out to 30,000 feet, what are the top six foods that people eat? Well, unfortunately it's things like grain based desserts, breads, soda, pop, alcohol, pizza or five out of the top six. And so that's where the bulk of your calories are coming from that are going to impact ultimately how much weight you're gaining or how much weight you're losing. And so if we put somebody on a low carb diet, all of a sudden we cross off five out of the top six most calorie dense foods.
Dr. Bubbs: 19:59 And so that's a great way to help to support weight loss. You're basically directing people to eating more protein, to eating more vegetables, fruits, etc. And so that can be a great strategy for people to lose weight as this idea of how many carbohydrates that, I mean at the end of the day it comes down to your total caloric intake. Now, the tricky part is, as I mentioned, the carbohydrates make up just so much of what's in our own food environment. So they're much easier to come by. And so this is where for some people in general rule we would say is the more activity you're doing, you know, if you're an endurance athlete, you might get up to eight to 10 grams per kilogram of carbohydrate, which is, you know, you just imagine a guy riding in the tour to France with a whole table full of pastas and breads and all these types of things, right?
Just a ridiculous amount of food. But that could come all the way down to folks are falling more of a low carb Keto approach or maybe more sedentary or have to work at a job or you know, they're not moving very much. You're sitting at a desk and you might only be eating 50 grams instead of 850 and so that's the one that swings the most in terms of the amount that we can take in. What I try to do and whether it's with athletes or with clients, is to first start with protein intake. Protein has a lot of benefits in terms of overall health, in terms of bringing on not only the essential amino acids you need, but also bring on a lot of vitamins, minerals, nutrients, really supportive in terms of weight loss because you get a bigger thermic effect. So it costs more energy for your body to break it down, which has beneficial and it also tends to keep people full.
And so if you can, if you can solidify somebody's approaching intake and say, okay, we're going to consume, you know, typically you don't always have to tell the clients how many grams per kilo, but you might say we're going to have 20 grams three or four times a day. Or if they eat three meals a day, you know, have a bit of their palm size worth as opposed to 30 25 to 30 grams. And then that way you've got the protein dialed in, they get used to that, they don't need to think about that and all of a sudden it becomes easier to sort of turn these dials if you will. The dials being fat intake and carbohydrate intake. And it really is different depending on the person and depending on what the person likes to eat is important because when we look at, you know, the problem isn't taking weight off people, the real problem we look at the research is keeping it off right because nine out of 10 people will regain it at the end of the year.
So ultimately, you can do strategies in the short term that helped you to lose weight, but ultimately you have to find a strategy that you enjoy enough to keep doing. Right? Because compliance is is the best predictor of how well you're going to do on a diet. So I try to tell clients you know that first four, eight or 12 weeks, there might be some strategies that you've got to just grin and bear it and get used to it. And then as, as we move down for down the road, we're trying to match up what you like to eat with your lifestyle so we can kind of see some can support that longer term weight loss.
Allan Misner: 22:48 I've found with a lot of my clients that if I, you know, we go ahead and we introduced maybe some new foods that they haven't tried before. We take away quite a bit of foods that they typically enjoy and they go for a little while. Their pallet kind of resets the way they taste, sweetness resets. And in many cases what they used to not like, they now find themselves enjoying. And when they go back and try some of those things that they used to like they taste the chemicals, they taste the ultra process and they don't like it nearly as much.
Dr. Bubbs: 23:22 Absolutely. And I think that's one where, you know, in North America or in the West, you know, breakfast is that meal that tends to be the one. If people are on the run, you're grabbing a coffee and all of a sudden, you know, all the options in the menu tend to be higher calorie, higher carb and higher fat. Right. So not the greatest combination. So if you can get people to have, you know, basically protein and veggies and some healthy fats and then the amount of carbohydrates or it depends on, you know, the amount of weight you want to lose or how much activity you're doing. That can vary a bit in terms of if it's a, you know, a very small to small, so it's a more moderate portion.
And we typically try to time the carbohydrates around exercise too. If you're going to have, you're trying to get leaner, you still want to have a decent carbohydrate consumption or you do want to enjoy some, you know, sweet potato or whatever it may be. Then having that before you do higher intensity sessions or directly after, it can be a nice strategy to help direct that into either being able to use it for fuel while you're training or on the back end as you've broken down your muscles in that training and used up the glycogen, which is the carb stores on the muscles than the carbohydrates you're eating are going back into the muscles to top that up, which is, you know, a nice way to be able to recover from exercise.
Allan Misner: 24:32 I definitely want to circle back around on this concept a minute. One of the things I did want to get in before we leave this whole blood glucose dysfunction spectrum was the linkage between your blood glucose levels and depression. That kind of actually got me. I spent a lot of time looking at your research in that area because it was something I had not really thought about. You know, obviously you eat something and there's a kind of a mood affect to it cause there's things such as dopamine and everything's going on, but I had not really understood that connection before for the long-term actual diagnosis of depression. Could you kind of get into that?
Dr. Bubbs: 25:12 Yeah, it's one that I started to see more and more of in my practice. I deal a lot in men's health and it was surprising to me the number of clients that were coming in that were taking medications that you know, felt that they were struggling with low mood, and depression is defined as having low mood for greater than 12 months. And more and more patients were coming in. And it's, when we look at markers like blood sugar levels, I mean this is again, this idea of trying to find the minimal amount of markers to follow that influence the most number of sorts of systems or the most areas of the body. And when we start to look at the connection between blood sugars and mood, you know it gets to be pretty compelling. There's a lot of research coming out of Scandinavia around you know HA1C Levels, which is your HBA1C which is your three month average of blood glucose.
And so when that is higher, you're in a much greater risk of depression as well as when you're fasting insulin. So insulin does a lot of things in the body, but it's typically classified as the blood sugar hormone, right? It's helping to get the food you eat into your cells. Now that's persistently high. It's also associated with increased risk for depression. We see studies in military cadets as well. If you're, when you get yourself tested the morning, if your fasting glucose and insulin its higher first thing in the morning, as well as post-meal, those are also predictive of depressive symptoms, more depressive symptoms. And for folks who are struggling with, with diabetes, we know that when if you're insulin resistant, you're actually three times more likely to struggle with depression. So the really interesting thing is when we look at actually all those studies is medications don't alter any of those responses.
When we look at the general population, it's definitely one that we want to make sure we're considering. And to your original point around just knowing where you are in that sort of continuum or knowing what your number is for for your blood glucose level. And we'll probably talk metrics here as we go with HBA1C would be a good one to always have and typically run by your doctor. But that way you know, and this isn't to say that just your blood glucose is the only factor that leads to low mood and depression. But it's definitely one that contributes. There's obviously all the, you know, psycho social emotional factors as well. But for me as a clinician or a nutritionist, it's always, I'm trying to raise the playing field. So if I can get rid of or improve blood sugar dysfunction than it might be, you know, we're raised the playing field so that, you know, the cognitive behavioral therapy or whatever other talk therapy that the person might require, it's going to help them and improve their condition. And again, even if they're taking medications, we're still seeing improvements if we just help to correct the blood sugar, the assumption.
Allan Misner: 27:54 That was so fascinating to me because I'd never really made the connection to food a little bit, but not to that level, which was, like I said, just really, really fascinating. So someone decides, okay, I want to go ahead and get this tested. And we've talked about fasting the blood glucose levels. We've talked about, you said HBA1C I just typically we just say A1C. Those are the common. What are some other tests that you think would be appropriate for someone that just kind of wants to get a good baseline to know that they're managing their carbohydrates appropriately?
Dr. Bubbs: 28:27 Yeah, so those first two tests are typically run by by most doctors there is, you could add fasting insulin to that. You typically have to ask your doctor, you probably have to pay out of pocket but that's used in combination with fasting glucose to give you an assessment of your insulin resistance, a measure called homa-IR which is a calculated measure that gives you a bit of a deeper picture. You know, none of these metrics are sort of infallible or you can't hang your hat on just one. But it does give you another big piece of the puzzle to look at. A few more that I tend to look at with clients, GGT is a liver enzyme and of course everything that we eat primarily gets directed to the liver. And then particular obviously carbohydrates, sugars. And this is where, you know, I'm sure your listeners have probably seen the movie Super Size Me from years ago when the guy decides to eat nothing but Mcdonald's for 30 days, I believe it was every meal of the day.
And this is where there's a moment in the movie where the doctor's eyes are kind of bulging as he's looking at the labs for this individual who's only eating Mcdonald's and the liver enzymes were through the roof. So as GGT levels are enormous and this is due to the high processed foods, high simple sugars, etc. Um, and so it's a very early predictor of things going wrong. And so that's kind of a nice one to throw in there. Again, it's very, and then the last one would be around inflammation. Systemic inflammation again goes part and parcel with weight gain, with prediabetes, with poor cardiovascular health. And so CRP would be a measure of that. And that's, you know, a pretty easy set of metrics to, to be able to track, uh, you know, year on year. And then if you are, if you're struggling with your health, then you want to track more frequently, maybe a couple times a year.
And if you really need to shift things, you know, if you're looking like you're in moving into diabetes or you're really, you know, there's hypertension or what not, then you might want to even go quarterly. And always, the first line of the first port of call is obviously for the doctors is to compare you to the norms because they're trying to cross off serious conditions and diseases. But once you're past that threshold and that's when you want to start comparing you to you every time and making sure that, you know, are you trending towards disease? Are you trending away from disease? Cause obviously we want you to be trending a side that's pulling you away from all those chronic conditions.
Allan Misner: 30:40 Yeah I go in for wellness visits three, four times a year. And I happen to have a really good doctor that kind of understands that just being average is not really what I'm after and that's not why I pay for additional lab tests. But I'm actually looking for, you know, what's that good thing that I can do for myself to kind of get myself more optimal and the actions and the things that I do with my health and wellness that are always kind of directed towards that you got me really intrigued about the continuous, blood glucose monitor and I was looking it up and unfortunately I'll have to ask my doctor if he's willing to give me a prescription for one, cause you can't just buy it over the counter. But, um, I was really interested in trying, try and one of those out just to see what it tells me about some of the foods that I'm eating and how they affect me. So thank you for reminding me that those are available. But like I was doing some research after I read that your book. I was like, Oh, I've got to get a prescription for this. Uh, which is kinda sad.
Dr. Bubbs: 31:38 Well, I mean, nowadays you can actually even order them, you should just be able to order them online. And you get the continuous glucose monitors are a really fascinating way to look into how you personally respond to food. Because you know, for anyone who's not familiar, they effectively, you know, in the back of your arm you, it's a little bit of a pin prick that goes in and this sensor stays on you continuously for a week or two. And it's basically measuring your response to all the food that you're eating. So how high your blood sugars get when you eat a meal. Importantly afterwards, how low they get and for how long they stay low. But also things like, you know, if you get a bad email and you're stressed out, well your blood, your blood glucose will respond to that or, or maybe you don't sleep enough and you'll see some big shifts there.
So it's definitely a really nice way to see individually how you respond. Because in some of the earlier research, you know, someone who ate a banana or let's say, or a piece of fruit that should have a moderate glycaemic index response, they were seeing responses as if they didn't know, eaten a cookie. And on the flip side, people who ate a cookie had a really smooth response to glucose. And so this is where, you know, depending on our individuality, we actually, you know, you could end up on one side of the coin or the other and we dive into this a bit in the chapter around digestion because it looks like the microbiome, all the bacteria in your gut are having a big impact on how you as an individual are responding to the food you're eating. It can sort of amplify your blood glucose response, you know, in sort of the, you know, the bad scenario if you will or, or buffer it. And people who are, you know, maybe genetically or whatnot. Lucky.
Allan Misner: 33:08 Yeah. There was an Israeli study that I had read about one time and they use these continuous monitors, and logged everything they ate. So they logged what they ate, the time of day they ate it. And the differential between how different people experience the food from a blood glucose level and then even a recovery perspective afterwards, uh, was really kind of fascinating because, you know, everybody just thought, okay, this is the GI of this food. So if you eat and your blood sugar's gonna soar, but that's true for some and not necessarily for others. So I do think testing is really a kind of a cool way for you to really know, uh, how things are affecting you and then it'll just allows you to make better decisions. Now, a lot of my clients, and a lot of folks that I interact with a, they're in the Keto environment. Uh, I practice seasonal ketosis and I, you know, I know, okay, as soon as I go into Ketosis for a period of a month or so, ny endurance performance is going to be, uh, well rubbish for lack of a better word. Uh, and then, you know, over time I pick up that performance my body gets more metabolically adapted. Um, and I'm able to go. Now if, if someone wants to use ketosis, what are some things that they can do to optimize their general performance, in one case I guess it would be a weightlifting or, or you know somewhat for body composition and then also for endurance athletes.
Dr. Bubbs: 34:35 This is a really interesting area and in the research, especially as it relates to not only general health but also in terms of athletic performance, cause when we look at even the highest level, so in an endurance sport you know cyclists, tour de France, they're now using in the last half decade or more targeted plan strategic workouts where they will have very low carbohydrate intake and this can be anywhere from 30 to 50% of the workouts were there on purpose trying to have these workouts where the person's intake of carbohydrate is low and or the glycogen, you know, the storage form of carbs and our muscles is low and that can be low due to you know, doing two day sessions. So you maybe do an intense session in the morning, you deplete the Glycogen, you don't consume a lot of carbohydrate and then you have an afternoon or aerobic session.
Or it could be after a fast. If you sleep at night, you're going to use up the liver glycogen overnight and then the morning that liver glycogen is going to be low because your liver also stores a carbohydrate in the form of glycogen. And that again elicits a different response. So what does all this mean to the person listening in at home? It means you don't always have to carve up for your workouts. If you're trying to be fit and stay lean or be fit and lose weight, then you definitely want to start to take advantage of these opportunities to have workouts where you don't have a lot of carbohydrate. And so I think for a lot of people, the easiest one is that morning workout, right? You go to bed, you wake up in the morning, you might have a coffee and then off you go.
So again, because your liver glycogen levels are lower, you're going to have a different response at the cellular level. And that can help in terms of training adaptations as well as some beneficial health effects. And so with that, you don't have to always, you don't have to go into a full ketogenic diet to elicit a lot of these benefits. You know, we see in some of these trainings studies that even a few days of of lower consumption can elicit a lot of these positive effects. If you're somebody who, you know, let's say if you're somebody who's struggling with weight gain or you're prediabetic or you have a lot of weight to lose, then the more quickly you drop your, your carbohydrate intake. If you're really trying to get into Ketosis, you just need to be careful a little bit cause it's gonna feel definitely a quite intense for you.
And so making sure you might pair that up with more lower intensity exercise for that person who just kind of dipping their toe into it. Where as someone who's more seasoned, let's say, um, I recently talked to a guy named Dr. Wes Kephart who did a study on the ketogenic diet and crossfit trainees. And then these were, you know, moderate to advanced trainees and they got very good results in terms of leanness. They maintain muscle mass and they were obviously doing intense exercise with very low carbohydrate intake. And so you can push it up to that scale. If you're more seasoned to it, if you're used to doing it. Yeah. So you definitely got some options on that front. And at the end of the day, as I mentioned before, you know, in looking at all this research, like if we look at bodybuilders, you know, their carbohydrate intake can be up as high as in the elite ones up as high as five grams per kilo, which is, which is a lot of carbs.
So, you know, try not to fall into the trap of thinking that if I just lower my carbs, I'm going to get leaner. You know, it still comes down to these principles, which is what the book's all about as well, which is your total caloric intake. So you know ketogenetic diets can be a great way to reduce calories. That can be a great way to elicit a lot of these positive adaptations to exercise. But then you need to do a little detective work, you know, just see how you respond, see how you feel with various workouts and ultimately always know what your goal is as well. You know, is it to lose weight? Is it to improve your health? Are you really chasing some performance metric that you're, that you're after? Cause that'll dictate the way that you should do it.
Allan Misner: 38:16 Yeah, you got me thinking in the book as I was going through the book and I was like, okay, you know, I like when I'm in ketosis, it's kind of almost a natural thing for me to kind of drift into intermittent fasting. I wake up in the morning, I'm just not really hungry. Like you said, I'll probably have a coffee but I don't do the bulletproof or any of that cause it's just black coffee. And then I'll go, I'll go work out. Uh, and I typically do the workout fasted, which you've got me thinking in terms cause you even put that quote in there, you know, breakfast like a king lunch, like a pauper, mean like a, like a prince and then a dinner like a pauper, which is effectively the kind of the flip scale of the way I would do intermittent fasting. Do we have less, uh, general glycogen when we're in Ketosis or does it not recover at some level where we just maintain it? Or exactly how is all that working? If I want to, you know, actually as if I'm lifting or doing endurance athlete, endurance work is, I mean obviously I could, you're saying I should just try it and see how it works?
Dr. Bubbs: 39:19 There's a few options here. So let's start with even the intermittent fasting. So there's, you know, an easy way to start people off is to do the idea of not eating breakfast. Right? Cause again, as we mentioned before, breakfast is typically the meal a day where people, there's a lot of bad options on the menu if you're, especially if you're eating out. And so I find a lot of my clients, men in and women, you know, you just canceled breakfast out all together. All of a sudden there's more time in the morning to get some emails done to call clients or customers or get the kids out of the house or whatever, or meditate you know, you've got more time on your hands all of a sudden and now you're eating, you know, typically a 16 and eight, um, you know, technically call this time restricted feeding, which means you're just shrinking the window that you're eating.
Dr. Bubbs: 40:02 So you might delay your breakfast till 10 or 11:00 AM and then you're going to eat for about eight hours. So until six or 7:00 PM and then again, you're not going to eat for 16 hours, which sounds like a long time. But you know, you're sleeping hopefully for seven or eight, so it's not so bad. And so that's one way of reducing.
Allan Misner: 40:19 We know from the book they should know from the book eight to 10.
Dr. Bubbs: 40:22 Yeah, yeah, for sure, but the interesting thing as well, so that's the one strategy that you can use and it's an effective strategy. You know, it's no better than than caloric. Um, and effectively counting your total caloric intake in a day. There are some different benefits to it, but it isn't a strategy to get people to lose weight. So you can, you can use that for awhile. The flip side of that is when you look at a lot of the research on fasting, if you just stop eating at 6:00 PM, even if you have breakfast, if you just stop in the evenings to allow that longer period of time, then you'll also get a lot of benefits.
So, you know, the big take home message here is that in today's environment we eat for 14, 16, 18 hours a day. You know, if the average person is only sleeping six hours, we're effectively eating for 18 hours a day, which is just way too much. Um, so finding a strategy that works for the person to be able to say we've got to shrink that window, because you know, grabbing a snack on your couch at night if you're watching game of Thrones or whatever it might be at 9, 10, 11 PM, you know, those are the opportunities where now when we feed in the evening, that really starts to disrupt circadian rhythms.
And you know, as you mentioned Dr. Satchin Panda's work at the Salk institute and you know, he found his original research in animals was where all of a sudden if you fed, you know, animals the same amount of calories, but you allowed one to do it in an eight hour window and you let the other one just eat all day long. The mice who had access to food 24 seven and they effectively got fatter and sicker and follow up studies in humans. This is just in prediabetic men. If you compare it to even a 12 hour window to a six hour window, you'd actually see that oxidative stress, blood pressure cravings are all increased in the folks that are eating in the bigger window. So again, another interesting strategy of using that time, restricted feeding, intermittent fasting to be able to say, hey, if we shrink the amount of hours in the day that you can eat, you're going to tend to eat a lot less calories.
And the other big fundamental is this. Yeah. If you can try to limit how much you eat late at night, you know, if it's Friday or Saturday night, don't worry about it. We want people to live a little, but it's that, you know, five other days of the week where we should just be a bit more vigilant and just get into a good routine and good practice of not eating. Because once we get used to the, um, the habit, I mean it's a bit like Pavlov's dog where as soon as you sit on the couch, uh, 9:00 PM to watch a show or whatever it might be, all of a sudden you just want to eat something even though it's sort of mindless eating and reacting. Right?
Allan Misner: 42:53 Yeah. And, and I've seen that, you know, anecdotally with a lot of people I've talked to and worked with and if, you know, if they will go ahead and do that, that restriction and just start walking their breakfast back and they get into a shorter window. One, they find that they're associated better. They're not snacking as often. They're having bigger, better meals and uh, they, they lose weight. You know, it happens time and time again and they just feel better. I think that's the other side of it is when your body's not constantly working to deal with the food, you're sleeping better, you're feeling better and you get used to that new way of eating that I think is probably a lot more ancestral than we would than we would think because you wake up in the morning, if you don't have refrigeration, um, and you didn't have boxed foods, uh, there's no milk and there's no cereal. When you wake up first thing in the morning, you've got to go catch or you know, forage for what you're going to eat. And by that time it's probably a little bit later in the day.
Dr. Bubbs: 43:54 It's definitely something that, you know, we've only really eaten three meals a day for the sort of the last century or so since the industrial revolution. So that's one that, uh, um, you know, it's definitely an interesting note and one of the things that I found in my practice is guys and gals do great with the intermittent fasting or a time restricted feeding, delaying breakfast for the first while if they do hit a roadblock at some point down the line, you know, their weight loss has plateaued or they haven't achieved the goal, they want it. They just flip it and, and, and kind of do the reverse way of what we just discussed, which is having breakfast, lunch, but making the dinner earlier, you know, cutting things off at 6:00 PM is a great way to again, you know, see some more progress.
The trickiest part is that our society today doesn't tend to lend itself to, to try not to eat after 6:00 PM cause you know, it's normally like meetings, family dinners, social events, everything happens at night. So that's, that's a trickier one to actually get people to do, but they can get some great success with it as well.
Allan Misner: 44:52 Absolutely. Dr Bubbs, I define wellness as being the healthiest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
Dr. Bubbs: 45:02 That's a great question. I mean, this is where, you know, in writing the book, it's a combination of my work with in an elite sport or at work, in clinical practicing, you know, all types of patients. And it does come back to this idea of we want to really focus on the fundamentals. So even complex problems that I see with the general population are athletes who are struggling. When we go back and look at these big pillars, there's still a ways to go, or sometimes it's just the fact that the person is taking their focus off of them and they sort of dipped off a little bit.
So if we're looking at three things, the first one's going to be nutrition. You know, what, what are we doing and what are we consuming? And so again, based on today's talk, avoiding ultra processed food, so eat real food, whether you know animal protein or vegetable, protein, veggies, healthy oils and fats, those are crucial to have it. If you eat most of the mostly that and try to keep that eating window to, you know, a maximum of 12 hours, that's a great first place to start. You're going to improve your health, you're going to lose weight, and the more you need to do that, then then you can refine that as you go.
Number two is going to be sleep. Sleep dovetails in with stress. And when we look at whether it's athletic performance, cognitive function, overall health, you know, sleep correlates to all these things. And so most people now sort of give you the, I know, I know I should get more sleep, but you need to, if it's listening at home or, or a coach or a clinician listening in, you know, we need to find out how much they're actually sleeping and then hold them accountable to say, hey, every week we're going to add 30 minutes. So if you're only getting six, we got to get you to six and a half. And then the next week we got to get you to seven. And as long as you're in that range of seven to nine, which is the national sleep foundation recommendation, typically like see people about eight, but, and giving them some strategies because again, people will tend to work on their laptop before bed. People will tend to watch programs that are really stimulatory at night. People will tend to do things that don't set them up for sleep. Um, so, so layering in whether it's some relaxing work, some stretching, it's a hot bath or shower, meditation and any kind of those practices is really big as well.
So once you've got that nutrition, sleep, the third one for me is going to be movement. And this is one where when we talk about weight loss, we always think about the hour that we're in the gym in the day. We don't tend to think about the other well not quite 23 hours cause hopefully you're sleeping for those eight but the rest of the day, which in that research would call non exercise activity thermogenesis. And that's just the amount of moving you do in the day. You know, the walking around up and down the stairs around the office, that accounts for a massive portion of your ability to lose weight. And when we look at no hunter gatherer populations or before the industrial revolution, we were far, far, far more physical and doing things. When we look at the blue zones today, all of those areas in the world where people live the longest, that's a huge common area amongst all of them as the fact that they all had to move and be physical and go up and down, you know, whether it's mountains or etc. So make sure there's movement in your day, whether that's 10,000 steps, whether that's carrying the groceries home, whatever it might be to start spending less time being sedentary and more time being active. Uh, is definitely a huge part. And if you can tie that in with some aspect of being, you know, community or friends, you know, it's a walk with your friend or meeting somebody for coffee or you know, whatever it might be.
I had one client actually we got him to every morning rather than have his coffee at home. He was a retired guy, uh, you know, he's pretty fit but still had to improve his health and we just got him to go walk 15 minutes to get his coffee and walk back home. Uh, and that was enough to start shifting things a little bit and then improving his health. So anything that you could layer in that just becomes part of your routine that you know in a few month's time you don't even think about anymore because it's just so second nature. That's when you're really going to get some of these big wins to help achieve your goals.
Allan Misner: 49:01 Those are really, really cool. Thank you. Thank you so much for sharing those. So Dr. Bubbs if someone wanted to get in touch with you, learn more about your book Peak, and the things that you're doing, where would you like for me to send them?
Dr. Bubbs: 49:13 Absolutely. Well listen, it's a pleasure to be on Allan and they can definitely check out the books available, Peak at all the major bookstores, Barnes and Noble, Chapters Indigo, Amazon, local book retailers. They can also check out my work at drbubbs.com, my podcast, as well as on their Dr. Bubbs Performance podcast. And if they're on social media at Dr. Bubbs, on Twitter, Instagram, all those good things.
Allan Misner: 49:38 Cool. So Dr. Bubbs, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Bubbs: 49:42 Fantastic, Allan, I really appreciate it.
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At some point in our lives, we're almost certain to suffer from back pain. In his book, I Will Beat Back Pain, Dr. Sabastian Gonzales gives us some great strategies to fix back pain.
Allan: (01:22) Sebastian, welcome to 40 plus fitness.
Dr. Gonzales: (01:25) Hey, how's it going? Thanks for having me.
Allan: (01:27) You know, there's a stat you put it in the book that I'm very familiar with. It's that 80% of us are going to face back pain at one point in our life. I find it hard to believe that it's only 80%. I know I have a couple of times, had some issues with my back for various reasons. We'll get into some of those in a moment, but when your back is hurting, it is like the end of the world as you know it because you're just not capable of pretty much doing just about anything movement wise that you would want to do. And even sometimes just laying, you know, the depression and all the things that happen when you're going through that kind of pain, it just really is debilitating.
Dr. Gonzales: (02:13) Yeah, it's a tough thing. If you consider like shoulder issues and ankle ones and like, they're terrible, they're not fun, but when you have a back condition, you literally cannot get up off the ground sometimes. And I know that people don't always like to talk about this, but you can't, sometimes you can't have sex with your wife or your husband, you know, it's like there's all of the other things that are very depressing and it affects a lot of people around you. So yeah, back pain is, it's pretty terrible. And the 80%, I would actually venture to say it's maybe a little bit more because a lot of people don't report their tightness as being a back issue. So just a thought on that.
Allan: (02:49) Yeah, and I would agree with that and you know, you sit there and you just do something and it's just, we'll call it a tweak, you know, it just hurts a little bit, you're a little uncomfortable, it kind of puts you out of sorts for a few days, and so you're obviously at that point, you're just going to pop some Ibuprofen and go about your day, but you're not living an optimal life because you're just not capable.
Dr. Gonzales: (03:12) Yeah, I think it's when it hits a certain point for people when they can't do some normal stuff throughout the day, then they start reaching out for help. But luckily a lot of them do tend to self resolve and I think the body is pretty innate about figuring this thing out. I guess an example would be if someone dislocate your shoulder, you never see them walk around with their shoulder over their head. There's, I think there's these little reset points which would help us kind of get through these, but sometimes you just need a little help along the way, you know? And that's why people are in chronic pain sometimes, you know?
Allan: (03:42) When you got into the book, and this is a little deeper into the book then the beginning, and I kind of wanted to jump ahead to this because I think maybe one of the reasons that we struggle as much as we do is a lot of people actually don't understand how the back works. There's a lot of myths about back pain and one, I'll share with you. I have this great doctor. He's, he's my wellness doctor. I go to him for wellness visits and every time we talk, you know, he is like, so what exercises are you doing? How are you doing? And so when I tell him I'm doing deadlifts and I'm feeling pretty good, he was like, oh no, don't ever do deadlifts they are bad for your back. And I'm like, well, actually no, they're strengthening my back. You know, if I do them right they're not that bad. There's this thing out there of don't do deadlifts. They're bad for you. There's some other myths that you share in the book. So I hope people realize that's a myth. And that's why I'm saying that if you know how to do deadlifts with good form, they're not bad for you. They're actually a good way to strengthen your posture.
Dr. Gonzales: (04:52) It was actually funny, recently I saw a whole thread going around on Instagram where I was, it was the news I think in Michigan or something like that. Some institute put out, never do, squats and never deadlift and stuff like that. So it was kind of interesting, all these things that kind of fly around, but there is a lot of myths surrounding back pain I think. And I guess I should kind of preface this and frame it cause I know there's people out there who are going to maybe take this the wrong way. But this is all based on my own clinical experience as well as the current research that I'm reading. So, I don't want to say I'm Poo pooing on all of these things always, but for the most part, like say rest, like people tend to rest a bunch and I think there's a time and place for resting. But I think there was actually a study where I have to find it. But, when you have too much bed rest, it actually makes things worse sometimes, you know? And kind of with training too and weightlifting, like there's these bell curves, right? It's like you kind of want to be in the middle and the soft spot on a lot of these, I guess myths and fallacies that we have too much training is too much. Not enough training is not enough and you're deconditioned, right? You wanna be in the middle.
But some other things that people tend to think about, you know, their back is that the tightness should always be stretched out. And a lot of times this tightness is protective. Like the body's pretty smart with this stuff. It says if you hurt yourself bending forward, the muscles tighten up in the backside to stop you from doing that from a period of time, you know, and the dead lifting one is obviously something. And a really common one I think is everyone who's getting into their 40s and 50s and so on that it's not always age related and there's not actually, I think the peak actually as I look back, but the peak of people having back pain is usually within their 30s. And a lot of people who are in their 40s and 50s just saying like, oh, I'm just getting older and this is how it is, I'm getting arthritis. And I see people every day and sometimes I'll discuss this with them, sometimes I won't, but they'll say, well, I get the shoulder issue, maybe it's arthritis. And I'm like, well, you know, arthritis doesn't really hurt that often. It's just a sign of something going on. It's like water on the ground it your house and it's just a sign that there was a leak there maybe but there's not anymore. And it doesn't always have to hurt and I think a lot of people, that probably one of the biggest myths ,that I guess would be that people tend to lean a lot of their back pain on that. The fact that they're getting older and that degeneration is occurring and arthritis is there an osteophytes are there that you'll find with an MRI and that's not always the case. I know that you've had experience with some back issues. Did they talk about that with you too or no?
Allan: (07:32) Well, I actually didn't go to a medical professional my back pain. I was fortunate to know what I had done and why it had happened. I was doing crossfit and I let my ego get in the way. The instructor there, the coach, like to program a heavy lifts and then he liked to program dynamic movements and so this was a heavy deadlift for max rep of three. He started us at about 65% of max for 3. And so I calculated my max and then I started just bouncing up. Well, they started running out of weights so my increments up, were a little more than most, most were throwing, you know, two, two and a half on the other side or five pounds on either side. I was going in increments of 10. And so I got up to, what was basically my one rep max and I pulled 2 really easy and the 3rd one I didn't pull as easily. I was fatigued, you know, and a smart man would have quit.
But I had a metcom to follow up with, so I go and I get warmed up for the metcon and then it's a quarter mile run and then it's as it's hang clean and if you don't know what a hang clean is basically where you've got the bar resting against your thigh just slightly above your knee and you lower it down to closer to your knee and then you clean it up to your chest. And to me that movement didn't have perfect form. I didn't do the exercise as well. Plus it was all for time so again, just another confounder of good form is trying to do things faster than you should because you're being timed. And so yeah, that was just a few rounds of that, I think we were supposed to do three rounds and I was on the second round and I finished the round and I walked up to the bar and I looked at it for a minute and I just said, okay, I'm done being stupid. But I sat down on a box and I just sat there for a minute and I'm like, okay, you know, I've got a problem here, I'm hurting and I'm just going to let his sit for a while. That was the end of my workout. I didn't finish that work out cause I at least was smart enough to know when I was injured and you know, not smart enough to keep myself from being injured. But, and then the worst part of it was that I had walked there and it was about a mile from my house so I had a one mile walk.
So that seared into my brain that, you know, the back is one of the most important elements in the kinetic chain. It is a part of the connect chain, whether you're talking about the posterior or the anterior. So front or back, it affects your movement, or side to side, it affects your movement and just about all the different planes that we studied for movement kinetics. And if you're not taking care of it, then you're going to end up with some pain or some tightness from time to time if you're active and doing things. And even if you're not active, there's still the likelihood that you're going to have some back issues at some point.
Dr. Gonzales: (10:45) Yeah. And I really like what you said there with yours and I recognize this with mine too, is that when I had mine, it was also from deadlifting. It wasn't too much. It was just enough to create an issue. And I look back and I thought after one of the reps I'm like, hmm, it feels weird. Okay, I'm going to keep going. You know. And so I liked it with yours, you're taking a good responsibility with it cause you, although they programmed it for you, you really did it to yourself. And mine was ego too. And I think there's a lot of times, the people listening are thinking about all these considerations of the reasons why their back hurts, you know, and maybe they say they sit too much or that their mother or father had back pain or you know, they say it runs in their family and all this kind of stuff.
I always like this to say that the environment is not static. Like we can change it however we want to and we don't have to do anything that we don't want to do. And when it comes to exercise programming, maybe in that one, if someone had an issue with their back and couldn't been forward, who had a past disc injury, maybe a dead life, a clean and then toes to bar all possible rounding, forward torquing movements on the spine. Maybe we'd split that up. Like maybe I wouldn't do deadlifts that day. I would do split squats or instead of toes to bar we might do bird dogs or something. And I had a friend that, he had an interesting story. It was a little bit more relationship to I guess a sciatica type of presentation. But he was working at a clinic at a school and he had all these track athletes that were coming in and they all had hamstring strains, they would call them. But really they presented as like a nerve based tightness because sometimes nerve will create tightness in an area as a response to protect the nerve or the back.
And so he asked them about their programming and they were doing crunches and Russian twist and things like that, a lot of them. And so he basically removed some of the rounding moments in the exercise that they were doing everyday and he replaced them with an extending one and almost all of them got better without even having to treat them at all. And so in that type of condition or that situation and say what yours is, if that's the programming every day, that's the driver of the condition and the back tightness isn't normal. It's just a result of what you're exposing your body to throughout your entire day. Entire Week.
Allan: (13:10) Yeah. And that was my big takeaway from that was that while this guy is fairly decent at his programming you know there are times when he is not on his game and I need to pay attention to that, you know? And so that's less than, and that's really in my mind, that's the value of pain. A lot of people think pain is a bad thing to be avoided. You know, use Ibuprofen, use a pain killer. Pain is actually a very good thing if it's telling you that your movement patterns wrong, it gives you that opportunity to fix it before you do some real damage.
Dr. Gonzales: (13:49) Right? There's one guy I interviewed that had a good saying, he would say if patients are really not getting the point about pain. He says, “so it sounds like, correct me if I'm wrong, but pain is here to punish you throughout your life.” And they're like, well, no, I don't think that's it. It's like, well, pain is your alarm. Pain protects you, right. So when we think of it that way and use pain as your guide it very rarely steers you wrong and you figure out the mechanics of how you can actually improve what your conditioning is. Whether it be a back or hip or an ankle or whatever.
Allan: (14:24) In the book you talked about some questions I assume. It sounded like a question that you'd probably ask your patient and it was, What do you believe to be true about your back or leg pain? Cause I thought, you know if I went to a doctor, if I felt like I needed to go to a doctor and I was there and he asked me that question, I would have a hundred different answers, you know, but, but that's only because I've studied corrective exercise and I've done those things back before I did those things. I remember going to a chiropractor with my then wife, now, ex wife, and she was going to the chiropractor and loved him. And then I went over there and he was basically I can't think of what the actual name is, but he was this Swedish guy, you know that perfect, Swedish looking guy. And I'm like, that's why she's here. And she says, well, let him check you out.
At this point I was 29 years old. I was about as fit as I could possibly be. I was at about 11% body fat and lifting, moving, doing everything I wanted to do. And he starts, you know checking my hips and checking this and that and he says, oh, you could really use an adjustment. I'm thinking I'm not in any pain. I have no outward symptoms whatsoever. You can physically look at me and know that there really weren't any muscle imbalances at that point. I was actually still really good about training balance and not just training upper body and ignoring lower body. I was very well balanced and you know, and if he had asked me that question I would've just said, it's that you get pain and then you do something about it. But what are the most common answers that you get when you ask them?
Dr. Gonzales: (16:26) There's a bunch. So a lot of times they'll tell you that it's muscle tightness. And I just got off the phone with this lady that had gluteal pain. And so right around the cheek on the side hurts when she gets up in the morning, it gets better a little bit throughout the day hurts to sit, actually squatting was okay she said, but deadlifting is not good. And so I can investigate all I want to and then deduct that I want to do a certain thing with her, but unless she's willing to accept the suggestion, she's gonna think I'm full of crap. And so I like to really figure out who, I don't want to say my opponent, but who the other person I'm playing chess with because this person's in here too for my guidance.
And I had an intern in yesterday and he said, I really like how you communicate with your patients. And I'm like, well the way I see it is that this person, this lady in yesterday, she was in for an elbow condition, which she believed it was Golfer's elbow because she was a golfer and she had pain on the inside part of the elbow. And I've found that actually I can change her elbow symptoms based upon a position. So seated she had elbow pain, laying down she didn't. And I'm like, if you had a thing in your elbow right there that was like torn up and just beyond belief, just imagine it just like a fraid piece of meat. It doesn't matter what position you're in, it's going to hurt. Right. And so I told the answer in that I think my responsibility, no matter what the person who answers is to validate that I heard their concern and to disprove them if it needs to be disproved.
Because no matter what I say, what I think is not going to matter because their value system is stronger than what I'm saying today. I had a girl in recently that I'm just going to do the ones that come to mind, a back one doesn't come to mind right now, but this one was fun. She had a knee condition and I said, and she was in for a couple of things, but I said, I was concerned mainly with her knee and so I'd seen her a few times and she said, hey, I'm like, how's this knee doing? Cause it's been flaring up over the last few months or so. And she said, well good. I'm like, explain that to me because you don't seem confident in that answer. Right. And she's like, it its okay.
And like does it hurt? And she's like, yeah, it hurts. I'm like, so do you want to do something about that today? And she says, no. And I'm like, well, how come? She's like, that's just how it's going to be. And she's 35 she's not, she's not old. So she says, this is this why? Because when I was 15 I tore my ACL and I said, did that hurt last month? She says, no, and I said, it hasn't hurt for 20 years and now it hurts today. She says, yes. And I said, so you believe it's from your ACL injury. She says yes. And I said, what do you think's going to get rid of that? And she says, losing weight. And I said, so, which one? Is it losing weight or is it the ACL? And last month you were in pain. So through that, they're not always wanting to have this discussion but to implement what is gonna be useful, whatever that might be.
We need to refute what they've been told and some people have been told, with their back that again, that they did they have a muscle strain. A lot of times they'll get hung up on these imaging findings and a lot of times they'll end up with me, with I have, I was told when I was 15, I had scoliosis, I went to another doctor and he took x-rays and I have arthritis there. I had a disc injury when I was 18 and working out with my friends in the gym and we were squatting and it hurt her since or I have a weak back. So sometimes the remedies are, well, I think I should clean up my nutrition and maybe that's merited. Maybe it's not some people than with the weak back conversation. They'll say, well, I need to strengthen my core.
And so they have all these beliefs of, again, they could be right, they could be wrong based upon what we see. And then they have the corrections they think they need. And I feel like my responsibility with that is again to prove or disprove that. And if there is an intervention that they're doing, which is harmful, and let's just say what the back they're saying, well they are with the core one and they say, well my core is weak because my back is weak and I need to do sit ups. So if bending forward is a triggering movement for them, which it is for a lot of those with disc issues, big or small. Then they're triggering their symptom. So in that case I would tell them, well, here's the reasons why I don't agree with that and I'll prove it and disprove him anyways.
And then I make a suggestion of something else we can try. However, if that same person says, my core is weak, I'm going to do Superman's. So extensions, a lot of times these people extension is fine. So at that point we kind of choose like, is it worth fighting this battle with this person or not? And it probably isn't at that point. So we need to figure out what the triggers are with their symptoms, figure out what their beliefs are, what's going to help and then pick and choose of where we want to dabble with their life. You know?
Allan: (21:29) Yeah. Cause I think that's a lot like with what I do as a personal trainer is I have a limited amount of time with a client, and if they're not buying into the program, then they're not doing the things that we need them to do when they're not with me. You know? So that's where my challenge is say, okay, look, I can work your butt off in the gym or I can work you out online. I can give you a program to do. But if you're not doing the work or you're not eating the way you need to eat, or you're not getting the sleep that you need, or you're dealing with chronic stress, we're still not going to get you exactly where you want to be.
So they do have to kind of do that buy in. And then I want to talk about that buy-in because I think that's a huge, huge, huge thing that it's kind of the 10 amount to what your book is about. If you don't have that, you don't get there. And then I appreciate that question kind of takes us there. And I think the reason that you can do that is because you've become an expert through self requirement. You got injured when you were younger playing baseball and then you got older and you had another injury and you still wanted to play baseball. So I can completely appreciate that. I played football in fairly competitive leagues, flag football and otherwise until I was 41. So I can get the wanting to be out there. And then when your body's just starts telling you, hey, take a break and your brain's saying, no, I still got it.
Can you talk through your second injury? Cause I think that's the one that I really felt like, okay, at that point you were not new to back pain, and you were not new to injuries but you approached it in a very, I think really, I mean you were mature but you approach it, it's hard to be mature when you're in pain. It's hard to be mature when you're dealing with your own issues and it's hard to be mature when there is doctor Google. But you approached in a very good way. So I appreciate if you tell that story.
Dr. Gonzales: (23:29) Yeah. Thanks. So yeah, the second one, I was 35 at the time actually. So the difference of the first one is 16 and I think the big difference between the two was that number one that I now, I hadn't had nine years, eight years of clinical under my belt. So I kinda knew the body a little better, but also because I was older, it was funny how quickly I ran into this what it's supposed to be. Like getting older type of thing, you know? And because everyone tells you after a certain age, it's like your body's going to start to wear away. And so even though I kind of knew better, it still creeped in. And I find even now with some of the things that I'm like, I had a patient just the other day that that had a little bit of mid back pain up and it's not a lot, it's just a little aching and burning and so on.
So this person comes in and they explain it and I'm able to troubleshoot it with them. However, it's hard to troubleshoot on yourself. It's really hard. And although I knew how to work with people with back conditions, it was hard to see through like the fog of having it. And so through the second time I went and saw a friend who was right around the corner and he's a good physician and I offered him money. I wanted to pay, I didn't want anything for free and I know my insurance wasn't going to cover, but I know the value of it and I know what this can turn into. So it's very, very scary and it's depressing and, I want to make sure that I was gonna get better cause I know you can get better.
I just, for some reason I couldn't find my own way doing it myself and I was fearful of movement. I didn't want to bend forward. I didn't want to pick up a weight anymore. You know. I stopped running, I stopped doing everything. And, so I didn't want to de-load and I didn't want to get worse over time, so I talked to him, I said, look, Cody, I had this thing, I want you to help me with it and I want you to be my quarterback basically, and I'm willing to pay you. I will do everything ask, and that's it, you know? So I kind of submitted myself to his judgment of what he thought we should do versus my own. And it was actually, once I kind of did that, it was very relieving knowing that someone else kind of has an eye out for you.
And so he tested everything and like I was even freaking out thinking like he'd get these little flickers in your legs sometimes and it's just, I call him creepy crawlies and it's like, hmm, just Parkinson's, is this MS is this, I mean, so your mind just runs wild. And so he ruled all that stuff out beyond reasonable doubt and gave me a game plan and probably within the first week, and I documented all this to make sure that in case I ever misspeak, that I wrote like a ledger. I wrote like a diary and did an audio throughout the thing because I knew it would be a unique situation that I hope I'm never in again, but I'll probably be in a couple more times. And I think I was about 50% better in a week and I just followed his game plan.
And then, so as I went through that, I eventually got to the point where I was better. I'd say I was like 80/90% better, like didn't have any pain but still have thought. And so as baseball season started to come around again, I, I went back and I said, hey, Cody checked me out. Like I want you to stress test everything. Just figure out where, if there's any risk reward variables. Like, am I going to risk anything by going in his swung a bat, because back when I was 16 I did like four months of Rehab, swung a bat, I was down again really quickly like the first swing. So it freaked me out cause I had this past experience thinking of swinging a battle is going to take me down. So he stressed test everything and he's like, you're good to go.
He's like, the biggest problem with you right now is that you don't have a general physical preparedness. You're not lifting anything, not doing anything. And so I reached out to a strength coach and he took me through deadlifting and squatting and single arm pulls and pushes and so on. And he came into my office and I paid him over a hundred bucks at a time, you know, and he did it twice a week. And so I'm, I'm really the living version of what I wish people would do with back pain. And I know how to cue a deadlift. I wrote a whole darn article on it on bodybuilding.com and but having a keen eye to it and having someone cue you and coach you is extremely valuable and just knowing that it's going to be okay. Like just saying, is this safe now? Like, yeah it's safe now do it. You know?
So that was very helpful. So that was what got me through that. And then now I'm out on my own and I play baseball at season. I have no problems. But it really gave me a good insight to see what patients see on the other side because it's doubt. It's doubt is what they basically get. Are we doing the right thing? Are we progressing in the right direction? Am I going to hurt myself again? You know? And it is scary. So we can help people with that. And I got a unique dosage of it.
Allan: (28:18) And that's what I really liked about that story is it really kind of brought to bear the fact that when we're going through pretty much any kind of physical or a health issue, our brain is the most powerful thing in the room. I mean, if we don't believe we can get better, we're not going to get better. If we don't trust in the process that we're going through, it's not going to work for us because we're probably going to skip parts. And if you're afraid of the pain and all you want as an escape from the pain with the meds, then you're, you're not really getting to the fundamental problem and as a result, you're not getting the help that you need. I do really appreciate that you took the time to say, I want to go ahead and bring in the professionals that are going to get me where I need to be so I can get there quickly, can get and know that I'm going to get there the right way and not re-injure myself, not set myself back even further. Can you talk a little bit about, you know, particularly with your clinical experience, some of your patients are going to come in with the mental disconnects the depression. Some are going to come in with the physical limitations. How, how does someone who's coming into this, how do they beat both of those?
Dr. Gonzales: (29:38) So the first thing is, I think I'll start with this. Just so this is just my overall general overview to people. And I want to make sure that when people come in, they understand that there's phases of the things and things drop off. And cause I know people think that, well, I was given this one thing this one time and it worked and I'm going to stick with it for the rest of my life. So I used to recommend four categories roughly.
There's scab picking, based upon Stuart McGill's work. There's first aid, there's Support and then there's Loading. And some people come in needing a lot of first aid, they just tend to trigger their symptoms a lot and they need to do a little bit more of just wound care and it's simple stuff, then you don't do it forever.
And scab picking is people who with say, fluxion and tolerant back pain like disc injuries, they just like deadlifts and they just don't stop. The good thing with those people is that, and deadlifting is not bad, It's bad at that time. Let me make sure to clarify that or re-clean it up. So that's why I start with a disclaimer. But so the people that are actually willing to keep going, they're actually the easiest ones to help because the people who are scared of movement or scared of weight, they get freaked out really quickly and they, I don't say they overanalyze it, but they're very keen to what their body's feeling.
And I did have a lady before, she came in and I couldn't even examine her at all and she wouldn't get out of a very straight spine position. And I said, let me see. I just want to see what your tendencies are. Let's go ahead and touch your toes. And she's like, nope, don't want to do it. And I always say, why not? She's like, I think it'll hurt. I was like, will it hurt? And she's like, I don't know, but I don't want to attempt it. So imagine getting that person then into encountering load and by load, which is kind of the fourth step, which I had a gentleman last night that he was very straight with picking up weight for, I just have them do a simple care, like a farmer's carry 25 pounds per side, nothing big like grocery bags. And so he's very straight by picking it up. And so I said, I'm okay with that at this point, but what I want to clear with you on is that you look like you're afraid to bend your spine and that's no way to live. You know, and these implements here, like barbells and trap bars and kettlebells and bands, these are all implements to teach how to encounter loads through life. And so he's like, cause he's wondering how far we're going to get with like, what else should we do? I'm like, well, uh, how would you pick up your child? And he would demonstrate it. I'm like, great. That's basically a squatter deadlift. And I'm like, how would you start a lawnmower? You know, and it's a single arm pull and there's a little bit of resistance behind it.
So everybody, I tend to start with, just ask, there's a long process. I start with about an hour of just question, and answer time. And I want to see where they're at with things because some people you can kind of see their hesitancies. Sometimes they're being strong and they're not showing their weaknesses and they just don't talk about it. But when you dig enough you start to figure out where their tipping point is. So I think the original question was how do you differentiate between the two? Is that right?
Allan: (32:54) Well, it's more of, you know, yes, I guess you kind of halfway answered it. When I come into the clinic, you have to be part doctor, part shrink to say, okay, is this a person who's going to drive through and want to do this or is this someone who's going to hesitate and you've got to bridge both of them. You got to keep the, the Gung Ho Ego guy from continuing to hurt himself or hurt herself. And you've got to keep the scared mouse aware that they are going to have to do some things that will scare them in order to get past this.
Dr. Gonzales: (33:27) Right. And so those ones who are a little bit more gung Ho, again, they're easier because they're not afraid of really hurting themselves. They're willing to try things. They're adventurous. So we can be a little bit more cavalier with these people and just as long as I do trigger their symptoms, you give them a safety net. And a lot of times that's their first aid that we've gone over that first day. And it might be something simple. The mouse, like people, I always think it's interesting in being on the other side. When I paid the strength coach to come in and work with me. So he'd come a couple days a week and eventually came one and then he came once every two, you know, and so he's texted me and he's like, did you do some strength work this week?
And I said, well, I skipped a day, or he'd find out that I wouldn't do all of, I wouldn't put as much weight on when he was there or when he wasn't there. And so I think it's useful to be very realistic with these people and say, I think just directly, are you going to realistically do the things that I'm asking on your own? Because I think a lot of people have the best intentions with it, but they don't do it or they don't do it well, or they have hesitation. I did have a guy that came in the other night that I gave them about three things I wanted him to try. And that part of the dealing is me testing to see whether this is gonna work or not and if not, I need to pick a different tool. And so he came back and he said, it hurt to do it and stopped and I didn't do anything. And I'm like, so one of them hurts you, but you didn't do the other two? And so I think it's useful to be very realistic with these people and have the conversation that are you really going to do on your own. And if not, you need to have someone who keeps you accountable. If not me, somebody else, it's fine, but you need to talk to someone about it.
Allan: (35:16) And that's one of the things, you know, when I sit down with a client, I'm like, okay, we're not going to get to the end game if you don't have a very deep emotional desire, I call it a “why” to get where you want to go. So the vision, so if it were back pain, I would, the vision is to no longer have back pain and be able to do the things you want to do physically. But you have to have a why. You have to really have something that's going to drive you and keep you, you know, seated and moving forward. And that's the commitment. So effectively, I think what you're, what you're doing there is telling the patient or the client, you have to be committed to this process or we can't get you where you want to go. And it's not always going to be easy. And sometimes it might be scary and sometimes it might hurt a little bit, but here's the parameters and here's the steps. And when they do that, I imagine it works pretty well for them.
Dr. Gonzales: (36:12) Yeah. And actually I listened to your podcast on goal setting. I think it's very good being very honest with what your goal is and not for losing 10 pounds to fitness skinny jeans. It's to, you know, live longer for your children. And sometimes people are willing to reveal that to us on day one. Sometimes not. I'm sure it happens in fitness coaching as well, but it's because I consider it like, when they come in I'm opening a novel, and their novels big, It's like the size of a Bible, you know? And we're flipping through and we don't know each other and I don't know what's going on with you and you don't know me. It's like, it's almost like a first date too. It's like, how much do you reveal on date one?
So I think as I start to learn more about them, I start to realize where I can ask these questions at. And some people it takes longer than I want it to. And I realize every time they're paying to come in and see me they're paying for, and I beat myself up a little bit about this sometimes because I want to get there quicker for them because I want to be very courteous of their costs, but it's really about the experience and the next part of the experience is them trusting me enough to do what I'm asking them to do. And if we haven't hit that point yet, t's like a stray cat. Like you just, you can't rush that process. It just happens, you know? So I think you're right on the goal setting. For me, sometimes it's scary for people to reveal that.
Allan: (37:39) Yeah. And I can, I can, I can definitely get that. You know, pain is kind of one of those things that cuts through most of the other things that are there. And if we want to avoid it then well, it is. Now. I define wellness as being the healthiest fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay? Well?
Dr. Gonzales: (38:03) Well, I would say keep, keep moving and I think everyone has a different definition of fitness and moving. Um, I like your wellness definition by the way.
Allan: (38:13) Good, thank you.
Dr. Gonzales: (38:13) But I think we've come a long way in fitness to where you see everyone's highlights on Instagram's of their PRs and whatnot, and I tend to think you should just start doing a little bit of something every day and start to expose your body to different things. It doesn't have to be heavy. It doesn't have to be extremely challenging, but just do different things. They might be walking. So just go ahead and move. I would say use the shark analogy move, you know. Probably another is, if we're talking about physical fitness or at least related to back stuff is I like people to again, goal set and figure out, you know, why they are trying to get in the shape that they are there in. Um, because I think there's very happy people who are overweight, you know, and like I've seen very mentally unhealthy people that are skinny. And I don't think we realize that until we come out on the other side.
But some of the reasons why they end up in my office is because you're doing things that they believe will get them to that fitness or mental goal that aren't necessarily even needed. So really setting your goal, I think could be useful in figuring out why the heck you're doing it in the first place. Um, the third is just chill. You know, don't take your life so darn seriously. Just relaxing every once in a while your workouts and you're all day doesn't have to be a 110%. Just relax, have a cup of coffee, take some deep breaths, take a walk, you know, just chill. And I don't think we do that enough. And you could do that more in Panama by the way.
Allan: (39:49) Yeah, I did this morning.
Dr. Gonzales: (39:52) So yeah, just chill, you know, like, I tend to not sweat the small things, I'm very calm now and not all things bother me. Uh, In the past they used to, you know, I would get really fixated on certain things, but they're really not that big. And then when, you know, when it comes to the grand scheme of things there's no point in getting yourself worked up about it, you know?
Allan: (40:15) Yeah. I like those. I have a client, I keep telling him, you know, I really like this statement, I stole it from someone else. But is this really going to matter in five years? Will you remember that it happened in five years? So why are you giving even, you know, 10 seconds of thought to something that five years from now is not even gonna bother you. So don't invest that time today to worry about it. But I liked those, so thank you for that. So if someone wanted to get in touch with you, learn more about your book, I Will Beat Back Pain. Where would you like for me to send them?
Dr. Gonzales: (40:49) Probably go to my website, it is going to be easiest. Um, p2sportscare.com. It's for a while I will have just a picture on the front. You can click on it and it just takes you to Amazon. Some people are gonna forget the name of the book, I Will Beat Back Pain. But uh, if you go on Amazon, it's on kindle, it's on paper, it's on audio at audible.
Allan: (41:14) One of the cool things about the audio book is you actually put a little bonus content in the audio book, right? And your audio journals and stuff.
Dr. Gonzales: (41:22) Yeah. So all those ones that, um, I remember the one that I was snippet in. You can hear the cars passing cause I was on PCH over here and I was just getting off a paddleboard and I was like, should I edit them? Like, no, it's kind of cool. It makes it real, you know. But I sounded damned depressed in that thing. So you can't write that stuff, you know?
Allan: (41:42) So this is going to be episode 384 and you could go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/384 and I'll be sure to have a link to your site there Sebastian. So thank you so much for being a part of 40 plus fitness.
Dr. Gonzales: (41:58) Yeah, thanks for having me on. This is fun. You're a good interviewer by the way. Everyone should, uh, leave a review for Allan.
Allan: (42:03) It's always nice to have another podcaster on.
Dr. Gonzales: (42:07) Yeah, I appreciate everything you're doing. It's a good job on the podcast and I audio is great. Everything's good.
Allan: (42:13) Awesome. Thank you.
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