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August 26, 2019

The 9 most common diet mistakes

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

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

Calling it a diet

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

That's a recipe for disaster. I

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

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

Not consulting with your doctor

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

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

Not drinking enough water

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

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

Macros

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

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

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

Micronutrients

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

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

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

Not planning things out

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

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

Mental preparation

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

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

Plateaus

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

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

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

Food quality

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

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

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

Going it alone

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

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

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

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

Another episode you may enjoy

The health habit with Elizabeth Rider

Patreons

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

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

Thank you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth: 12:56 Yeah, absolutely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth: 18:33 Yeah, absolutely.

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

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

Allan: 18:46 I do like that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allan: 26:40 Yeah, absolutely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth: 30:56 Right, right. Absolutely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another episode you may enjoy

August 12, 2019

Midlife and prostate cancer with James A Hill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James: 14:58 I did, yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another episode you may enjoy

August 5, 2019

The Mindful Runner with Gary Dudney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gary: 26:04 No, I never did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allan: 31:51 Well, you finished.

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

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

Gary: 32:24 Mississippi does.

Allan: 32:25 Okay, cool.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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