Category Archives for "fitness"
Arguably the #1 expert on getting super strong and fit using only bodyweight exercises, Mark Lauren puts it all together for training sessions that take 9 minutes. We talk about his new book, Strong and Lean: 9-minute daily workouts to build your best body—no equipment, anywhere, anytime.
[00:02:43.690] – Allan
[00:02:46.410] – Rachel
Hey, Allan, how are you today?
[00:02:48.230] – Allan
I'm doing okay. Obviously we record this a couple of weeks ahead, so I'm actually in the United States while we're recording this, and I will be on my way when you're listening to this, I will either be back in Bocas or I'll be on my way back to Bocas. So I've been enjoying the oysters. I'm in a part of the country where that's the thing and so I've been eating the heck out of those and I've had a good bit of Brussels sprouts as well.
[00:03:15.410] – Rachel
Oh, good. Put it when you can.
[00:03:18.870] – Allan
Yeah, I'm doing what I can, but it's all good. I'm feeling pretty good. Rested. Time with families, some rest time. It's been good.
[00:03:28.500] – Rachel
Wonderful. That sounds great.
[00:03:30.520] – Allan
How are things up there?
[00:03:32.410] – Rachel
Good. Now that we're back from our big trip, I've got time to catch up on things, and I just realized that it was two years ago, Allan, that I earned my personal training certificate through NASM, and you invited me to be a part of your podcast. So kind of celebrating a two year anniversary, and I'm really excited.
[00:03:50.130] – Allan
Good. Yeah, I saw the picture on Facebook, and so you obviously got that, and you've since gone on to get your runners coaching certification. And I'm sure there's a lot more ahead because, as you said in your post, we have to get our education, and as a result, it means spending the time, spending the money, investing in yourself to make this happen.
[00:04:14.270] – Rachel
It does. NASM has a couple of classes I'm interested in taking, but so does RRCA. They've got a level two class, and there's another running course that I'd like to take, which teaches us about endurance and ultras and those types of things. So pretty excited to get my name on the list to get on these classes.
[00:04:33.410] – Allan
Good. Enjoy that.
[00:04:34.780] – Rachel
[00:04:35.900] – Allan
All right, are you ready to talk to Mark?
[00:04:37.880] – Rachel
[00:04:38.740] – Allan
[00:04:39.970] – Allan
Mark. Welcome to 40+ Fitness.
[00:04:42.630] – Mark
Hey, thanks for having me.
[00:04:44.070] – Allan
So your book is called Strong and Lean: Nine Minute Daily Workouts to Build Your Best Body. No Equipment, Anywhere, Anytime. And I have to say, in going through the workouts and what I know of some of the exercises because I've used them before, and some of them that as I was going through, of course, I got to get on the floor and try a couple of them out. This is a workout that you could start as a beginner, and it's a workout that will serve you even if you were the most advanced athlete. You're going to get a great workout, and it's just nine minutes, so it's really kind of fabulous.
[00:05:21.460] – Mark
Yeah. Thank you for that. Yes. Basically, I'm the author of the book You Are Your Own Gym the Bible of Body Weight Exercises, which published back in 2010 and sold a whole bunch of copies around the world, over a million. But the program in that book, I was just out of the special operations community when I wrote that book, and my understanding sort of a typical person's needs. I was totally not in touch, let's put it that way. And I was training guys to jump out of airplanes and scuba dive, et cetera. That program was I would say it was complex, and it was unnecessarily difficult. So over the next ten years, really, and I think this is always sort of like the learning progression. You figure out what's essential and what's not. Really, this program is a process of me sort of getting rid of all the unnecessary things and sort of distilling everything down to the bare minimum and the absolute essentials that get you the most for the least and making it as simple as possible and then of course, building in progression so you can continue to advance.
[00:06:25.990] – Allan
[00:06:27.130] – Allan
Now, one of the concepts that you got into early in the book which I was kind of fascinated by because it wasn't the way I've ever thought about it but once you got down that train of thought I was like Mark's absolutely right, is locomotion. Can you talk a little bit about locomotion and why that is fitness.
[00:06:47.830] – Mark
Right? So there's a couple of ways to describe it and the first way is when we work out what we're trying to achieve is the best possible overall gains. We're trying to get the best gains in overall performance. Right? And one of the problems with exercise a lot of times and I realized this long ago, especially as a special ops guy, etc. is that exercise, whatever it is that you do, you only get good at that thing. Like maybe you're lifting weights and you're getting stronger in the gym but in a lot of other ways you're getting less athletic. That tends to be a problem with a lot of different things. So I was really trying to figure out what is it that we actually need so that we can specifically focus on it and get the most benefit out of our training, out of our energy. And what I finally realized is the common denominator for all activities is locomotion. And then I think a really good example of the importance of locomotion can be seen in how infants and children learn to move. Right? It's all about locomotion. They begin in a backline position and then they begin to base.
[00:07:55.890] – Mark
The first thing they really learn is to stabilize their head which is spinal stabilization. Once they can stabilize their head they start doing arm and leg movements, right? So basically hip and joint movements start to develop and that's the simplest form of locomotion. That's basically single joint locomotion. So when I move my arm from one point to another point that's a form of locomotion. It's simple though, right? And then we start to combine those different hip and shoulder movements until eventually what do we have? We have a weight shift to one side or the other and that's the first example of rolling. Basically, now you have locomotion that involves your tire body moving and then let's say eventually you get to a frontline position and just some random combinations. You eventually learn to build up to a crawling position and now you have again a slightly more complex locomotion where you then learn to crawl, you then learn to build up. You learn to basically weight shift and take your first step so that you end up in a single kneeling position and then you eventually build up to a standing position. So the things that the athletic ability that we develop first in life is basically spinal stabilization, single joint movements, and then we learn the developmental movements, which is how to transition between lying, kneeling and standing positions.
[00:09:18.040] – Mark
And that's really where the foundation of athletic ability is developed. You need spinal stabilization and you have basically control of weight shifting. So then when you learn to walk or run or sprint, you have rhythmic side to side weight shifting through coordinated hip and shoulder movement and a little bit of rotation around the spine. And that's something that you use everywhere. Think about it. Like when you throw a punch or if you throw a ball, you have a lateral weight shift with coordinated hip and shoulder movement and rotation around the spine. And the examples of that are endless. So really, like if I'm trying to get you the best possible results in overall improvements of performance with the least amount of energy, it makes sense for me to design my exercise programs so that you improve the skills needed for locomotion.
[00:10:09.010] – Allan
Okay. Now a lot of us, when we think about exercise, it's typically going to be we're going to be doing weights of some sort in the weight room, in the gym maybe, or at home, or we're going to be running. Those are the kind of the two primary paradigms. When you say exercise, that's where most people's heads go. Why is that not the best way for us to approach this?
[00:10:31.450] – Mark
I think you can run and I think you can lift weights. I actually do both of those things. I think that you just have to have an understanding that you should do those things in a way so that you get the best possible overall results and you don't become too specialized. Right? So for example, there's a lot of guys at the gym with really big muscular bodies and they're really strong in the gym. But to be totally honest, if you were to take them on a long hike or for a short swim, they wouldn't make it, right? I think when it comes to truly fitness, which I define as preparedness, being fit just needs to be prepared. You're ready. And I would say fitness is about general preparedness. So when you do those things, you want to do them in a way so that you don't become worse at the thing that you need most, which is locomotion. So if you were to lift weights, combining it maybe with a little bit of running and walking especially would not be a bad idea. So really, I think you can do those things. They're not bad, and if you enjoy them, I tell people absolutely continue doing them.
[00:11:37.480] – Mark
But I think what we really need is we need an understanding of the fundamental athletic skills that you have to maintain in order to have a long, healthy, strong life. I think longevity depends largely on the strength of our foundation, which is made up of those fundamentals that I've mentioned. So you have to systematically train. You have to basically train your posture. And what does good posture means? It means basically being able to maintain a neutral spine, basically a long spine that's in the middle. You want to maintain all your joint functions, especially for your hips, spine, and shoulders. Right. You want to learn to move your arms and legs around a neutral spine and to be able to control weight shifting. And as long as you systematically develop those fundamentals, then really that lays really solve the foundation for you to do anything else, such as running, such as weight lifting. And that's what my nine minute programs do, so they're a great compliment in addition to being a standalone program.
[00:12:41.430] – Allan
Okay, now what do you think about machines then?
[00:12:44.530] – Mark
The problem with machines is really I talk, for example, about posture and weight shifting, right? Like weight shifting really is balance, but it's balance in motion, which is what we need. The problem with machines is, sure, you're training different joint functions, but a lot of times you're only training joint functions on the sagittal plane, which is basically forward, back, up and down movements. You don't have lateral movement, you don't have rotation, you don't have circumduction, which is making circles, and you have absolutely no need for balance or the ability to maintain a neutral spine while you're performing these functions. If you become really strong on these machines, but you're unable to maintain a neutral spine or good posture while you're exerting force, you're going to be more prone to injury, and your performance just will not be optimal, especially if you have poor posture in conjunction with the inability to control weight shift and basically poor balance and coordination. So there's a lot more to strength than just being able to exert force. There's fundamental athletic skills that we have to learn, and machines won't do that for you.
[00:13:51.740] – Allan
Yeah, and as you said earlier, if you practice something, you get good at it. So we get good at lifting on that particular machine that doesn't necessarily relate to real world strength.
[00:14:01.700] – Mark
I mean, that's exactly it. Adaptation tends to be pretty specific. That's why we have to be very clear about what it is that we're trying to develop.
[00:14:08.350] – Allan
Okay, now you've talked a little bit about posture, but let's dive in a little bit deeper. You sort of defined it, but let's redefine posture. And why is that so important to functional movement?
[00:14:20.490] – Mark
Okay, so first of all, posture mainly refers typically, it refers mainly to the alignment of your spine, right? And the spine is really that's your nervous system. I mean, it's not your actual nervous system. It's a part of your skeletal system that on which your nervous system depends. Right, so we have to protect our nervous system. Posture is the alignment of the spine and the place where so here's a good question. We talked about posture. We said that it's the alignment of the spine. And we often talk about good posture. And a lot of times we know that good posture tends to be when you're straight, right? Or your spine is relatively straight, it's neutral, meaning that it's in the middle. So why is the middle the right place for you to be? Right? That's the question. And the reason is that when you're not an flexion, you're not an extension, you're in the middle. That's where your safest. Because think about it, when you're at an extreme range of motion, like take any of your joints, if you're at an extreme end range of a joint's function, that's where you're most likely to get injured, right?
[00:15:33.510] – Mark
If you're in the middle, that's where you're safest because that's where you have the most room for error in the middle. It's a little bit like if you are standing way up on a little platform up in the air, where do you want to be standing on that little tiny platform? You want to be in the middle, right? So all these joints, you want them stacked on top of each other and neutrally aligned, meaning in the middle. So one, it's the safest. Two also is that the transfer of energy is going to be best when everything is neutrally aligned in the middle. When you have a long, straight, neutral spine, which you see typically for most sports, athletes do really well. They're doing that because it's safe and the transfer of energy is easiest like that. So it's about efficiency and safety, really.
[00:16:25.220] – Allan
Okay. Now, in the book you went into a little bit about motivation. Can you talk about your opinion about motivation? Because I think a lot of people get into working out and they just really struggle to keep after it when anything gets in their way and kind of bust their bubble. Can you talk about motivation?
[00:16:43.820] – Mark
Yes, motivation is so I don't get into cheerleading. And I think really the best way to motivate people is the way our behavior develops. It's about cost versus benefit. And when there's a behavior that is low cost, meaning low energy or low energy and low time, and the benefit of the reward is high in comparison to the cost, then that behavior tends to get repeated, right? And the reverse of that is also true. So if you have a high cost, certain behavior requires a lot of energy and a lot of time, and then there's a small reward, then the chance of that behavior continuing goes way, way down. And that's just simply understanding how we function as humans. And it makes a lot of sense. So I think one of the biggest problems in fitness is actually doing too much. And doing too much causes you to do too little, if that makes sense. Because in the beginning, in order for you to adapt and get results, you actually need very, very little because it's a new form of stimulus. So usually what we do is we go to the gym, we drive 20, 30 minutes.
[00:18:05.060] – Mark
Then you're using a bunch of machines doing strength training for, let's say, 30, 40 minutes. Then maybe you're doing some cardio and then you're driving home, let's call it an hour and a half, even if it's just an hour. So the cost there in time is pretty significant, especially if you're doing it three to five times a week. The cost of energy is super high. Right. And it's much more than you need. So there's a really high cost and time and energy. Then you're probably super sore for the next five days. We've all experienced that we did too much. Probably ten minutes would have been totally fine. So now the behavior was high cost, you're getting punished for it. And the results are not really they don't justify the cost. So the behavior tends to stop. That's a big part of the design of these nine minute exercise programs, actually, in the beginning of these nine minute so Strong and Lean comes with four six week cycles. And the nine minute workouts in the beginning, they start easy, actually. And you'll be surprised that in the beginning, you actually need very little to make good progress.
[00:19:13.310] – Mark
And doing more doesn't accelerate your progress. It just makes it less likely that you're going to stay consistent. So, again, the way this exercise program is designed is with an understanding of how we adapt and how we function.
[00:19:27.190] – Allan
Yeah. So let's dive in a little bit more into the program because a lot of aspects of it, one being nine minutes, I think that's something that just about anybody can free up nine minutes. Well, a little bit longer with a warm up and a cool down. But in general, we're talking less than a total of probably 15 minutes to be ready to get this done. And we're doing it like three times a week. Two or three times a week. Right. Can you just talk about the program and how it's put together and how people would progress through it?
[00:19:56.370] – Mark
Sure. So, like I said, the book has four six week cycles. In the first cycle, you're training just three times a week, monday, Wednesday, Friday. And the workouts require nothing but floor space. You're doing each 9 minute workout consists of three exercises that are repeated for three rounds. So basically, each exercise is allocated 1 minute. So you're doing three exercises for 1 minute each, which is three minutes, and then you're doing three rounds of that, which is nine minutes. But doing an exercise for a minute straight, like, let's take an example that everybody's familiar with. Like, to do a straight minute of pushups is actually very difficult. Right? So you could actually probably take some easy variation of the push up and then just do 40 seconds of it, rest 20 seconds, then do the next exercise for 40 seconds, rest 20 seconds, and so on. Right? And that's how the program structured, where there's a work interval and a rest interval and then it goes on to the next exercise. And as the weeks progress, the work duration increases and the rest intervals decrease. And those changes in intervals make a big difference. The first exercise is always a floor exercise designed to improve your posture, which will work your upper back, your core or your hips.
[00:21:21.320] – Mark
The second exercise is a mobility exercise. And then the third exercise is a standing exercise that improves your ability, basically standing movements that's going to be more your legs, your spinal erectors to work, weight shifting. As the cycles progress, you go from three times a week to four times a week and eventually five times a week. So the overall training volume increases. And additionally, starting in cycle three, we have nine minute circuits specifically designed for strength training. So they're a little less mobility based and more focused on strength. And those have a pushing exercise, a pulling exercise and a leg exercise where you have the option to also hold a weight and those get really tough. All these programs have progressions built into them and systematically cover all the fundamental athletic skills that you need to perform optimally and to develop a good strong body.
[00:22:21.500] – Allan
And what I like is after the first workout, the first workout, of course you have to introduce a whole bunch of exercises, but after that you really only roll in one kind of new thing at a time. So they're learning something new, they're doing something a little different. So there's some variety in there. But it's not overwhelming that there's 300 exercises that you're going to do all given to you and you're just trying to figure them out as you're doing them, you'll learn them, you'll get better at this stuff and then they start progressing. And I like how a lot of these are set up to progress. And then I guess the premise would be you go through the four six week cycles and then you can just go back and repeat week three, week four, and you can just make that a cycle that's going to give you some periodization and it's just going to allow you to continue to progress.
[00:23:09.730] – Mark
Right, exactly. So, yeah, just trying to make everything as simple and easy as possible, honestly, to get people the best possible results with the least amount of time and effort. So after the first workout, I never introduced more than one new exercise. But each new workout you'll get one tip on how to perform one of the exercises better. So there's gradual learning and introduction of new exercises. And at the end, if you complete all four six week cycles, then at the end of that book, we say that you can continue to repeat cycles three and four indefinitely. I have a subscription platform, mark lauren on Demand, which is a suite of apps for iOS, Android, Roku, et cetera. And there I actually have five cycles, and the training can continue there as well.
[00:23:53.780] – Allan
[00:23:55.750] – Allan
Like I said, it's really good. And the thing about it is the book has good demonstration pictures to show you the movements, and you're performing them as the guy. A lot of pictures. A lot of pictures there. And the descriptions of the movements are really good. One of the things that I kind of pride myself with is some of my clients are blind. And coaching a blind client that can't look at a picture, look at a video and describing the exercise, that's not an easy talent. But it's something you also seem to have with the way that you describe each of the movements in the book. So kudos for that.
[00:24:32.680] – Mark
Thank you. I really appreciate that.
[00:24:34.370] – Allan
Mark, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest, and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
[00:24:42.490] – Mark
To stay well? So me being a fitness guy, I try to really clearly define everything. And I already said that I think fitness, it's about preparedness, it's about general preparedness. And I think general preparedness is really about the fundamentals. If you think about fitness as a whole, you could break it down into usually you hear three parts. You hear about food, nutrition, movement, and recovery, right? Those are the fundamentals of life. Like, if you don't have those, you will not survive. So I really think fitness is about doing those things really well. I think fitness is about doing the basic, most common things really well and continuing to learn how to do them better. And I think a big part of wellness and fitness is valuing and caring about the right things. And I think a lot of times, especially by marketing and our culture, were sort of seduced by shiny, complex things. But the real value, the things that really make us healthy and happy and fit and prepared are the basic, common, day to day things. And so my expertise is in the movement part of fitness. And again, there I think it's about the basics.
[00:25:54.850] – Mark
It's about basically those fundamental athletic skills that you learned earliest in life. I think it's my job to refine them, to clearly define what those things are so that we can improve them, refine them, and maintain them. Because think about it, what is it that you lose later in life? You start to lose your posture. Joint functions go away, and then our ability to control weight shifting goes away, and we start to fall, and we become insecure about getting up and down off the ground, like you're no longer able to get down and get up off the ground so easily. Right? So my fitness program, largely on the movement part of fitness and well being, is really about maintaining those basic fundamental skills that are always being used so you can move well into old age. And then if you want a strong, beautiful body that you have the joint alignment needed to basically be able to take the stress to build muscle and to burn all those calories. So, simply put out, I think it's about valuing fundamentals.
[00:26:55.810] – Allan
Thank you. So, Mark, if someone wanted to learn more about you and the programs and the book Strong and Lean, where would you like for me to send them?
[00:27:04.690] – Mark
marklauren.com has obviously all my information. I have instagram marklaurentraining. My book is available at any major bookseller and also Amazon.com. Yeah, I think it's the main places. marklauren.com, I have Facebook, Instagram, and I actually just started TikTok page a few days ago.
[00:27:27.050] – Mark
You got to do what you got to do.
[00:27:28.800] – Allan
You got to do what you got to do. Mark, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
[00:27:31.990] – Mark
Hey, I really appreciate you having me on here.
[00:27:43.170] – Allan
Welcome back, Ras.
[00:27:44.670] – Rachel
Hey, Allan. This is yet another book I need to add to my bookshelf. I love nine minutes.
[00:27:51.710] – Allan
Yes, he is one of the fittest people I've seen in a long, long time. And he demonstrates all of the exercises in the book. And part of what I know is when you have a photographer taking pictures and you're doing it, you end up doing multiple, multiple reps. So you're doing the reps and you perhaps trying to hold yourself in some of the positions for the pictures so that you get a good image of the bottom position or the top position. So I know some of the work he did to just even do this book was just fantastic. So very fit guy. And body weight.
[00:28:31.020] – Rachel
That's great. And I love body weight. I know that it gets a bad rap and a lot of fitness circles, but body weight movements are so important. And I can tell you that they've helped me a ton with staying healthy and strong for running. So I can't say enough good things about it.
[00:28:47.080] – Allan
Yeah, I like moving heavy weights. But he's right when he starts talking about locomotion being one of the core components, strength and control, locomotion. And so the exercises he has in the book are not necessarily they're not power movements and they obviously don't require any equipment. But I can just tell you, you can get really strong. And the exercises he has in there are varied. So the first time he's adding a whole bunch of exercises and then it's like each training after that, he's just adding one new exercise. So you're not having to learn a whole bunch of exercises. What happens is through the course of doing the training, you're incorporating different movements. And so this is a cycle thing, basically a periodized process. And at the end, you'll have a very balanced program for full body strength and control. And you'll be locomotive. I mean, you'll be able to do a lot of things you can't do.
[00:29:53.360] – Rachel
Now, what I love about it is that one, it's simple. It's simple and it doesn't take that much time, but it delivers a big bang for the buck. And I think that's what we need in our lives, especially all of us that are really busy with other jobs and child responsibilities and school and work and all the things. I mean, nine minutes, or like you said, 15 with a warm up and a cool down. 15 minutes, that's not that hard to squeeze that into a day and get a big bang for the buck.
[00:30:22.150] – Allan
Yeah, if you can't squeeze 15 minutes, then you're not committed to this. This is just not going to happen. 15 minutes is nothing. Three times a week, that's 45 total minutes. You spend more time than that on the toilet.
[00:30:42.430] – Rachel
Social media and binge watching our favorite TV shows and whatever. Yeah, we could definitely.
[00:30:51.070] – Allan
This is a good way if you do feel that you're just so time strapped. And like, I can't work out because I'm 06:00 until 11:00 every single day. And I'm like, no, probably not every single day, but you can get in 15 minutes.
[00:31:05.590] – Rachel
And the other thing, too, it doesn't sound like he requires a lot of weights or bands or any equipment. So this is also something that can go with you. You're traveling right now. I was traveling a little while ago when we're not home or can't get to the gym or like up here in Michigan. I'll be snowed in pretty soon this winter and can't go anywhere. It would be great just to have some simple, quick body weight movements and it's enough to keep it going.
[00:31:31.300] – Allan
Yeah. And the investment in this book is a lot cheaper than buying yourself weight equipment and a stationary bike and all the other stuff that you would have. And because of the nature of what he's doing, it's not so hyper specialized like he was talking about, where you're just building strength in a range. So I have strong legs from doing squats and I have strong chest from doing presses. That's great. But some of the exercises he has are going at angles that you would never be able to accomplish on a bench. You're pulling and pushing in very different ways. So it's a lot more balanced than I think a lot of people can do if they're just going and doing the exercise. Particularly if you like the machines and you're spending all of your time on the machines.
[00:32:17.830] – Rachel
Well, it's interesting you mentioned that, too, because right after I listen to this podcast, I had to run up and buy some softener salts for a water softener in our house. The bags are 40 lbs. It's an awkward carry. So I'm doing the farmer's carry, trying to get them from my garage down to the basement. But you need that stability. You need that foundation of a strong posture, a strong back strong abs in order for my arms to dangle 40 pound bags of softener salt and not fall over, fall down the stairs. So it was just really timely that having that foundation of strength is a great place to start.
[00:32:55.790] – Allan
Yeah. Like I said, he's super fit. So don't think you're beyond what he's doing in this book, because I can tell you, you're not. Professional athletes would struggle with some of these movements at first until they learned them and got good at them and built the strength to hold themselves and have the right posture and do the things they needed to do. And so none of this is going to be easy. If you're doing it right, it's all going to challenge you and it's going to make you stronger and better.
[00:33:24.740] – Rachel
I love that. That sounds really exciting. This is in my Amazon box already.
[00:33:30.010] – Allan
Good. All right, well, Rachel, I'll talk to you next week.
[00:33:34.000] – Rachel
Great. Take care, Allan.
[00:33:35.550] – Allan
[00:33:36.420] – Rachel
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In his book, The Warrior Within, DJ Vanas teaches us from the perspective of North American indigenous people how to better care for ourselves so we can serve and protect those around us. On episode 554 of the 40+ Fitness Podcast, we sit down and talk about this and the book.
Because Rachel is on an off-the-grid hike for 8 days, we won't be having the normal hello session on this episode.
[00:04:05.590] – Allan
DJ, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
[00:04:08.410] – DJ
Thank you for having me, Allan. Happy to be here.
[00:04:10.760] – Allan
Now your book, The Warrior Within: Own Your Power to Serve, Fight, Protect, and Heal, it kind of appealed to me, the one there's, the guy thing. But there's plenty of female warriors out there, so ladies don't tune out because this is for anybody that serves. And if you're a mother, if you're a grandmother, if you're a daughter in some capacities, you are serving, you are fighting and you're protecting just as much as any man or anybody else. So this is everybody and I really want to start telling you there's something you had in the book. And I'm like if I was going to say what is this book about and why this book is important, I would say this and this is from you. Anything that makes us mentally stronger and more true to ourselves is worth investing time and effort. And so reading a book, learning these lessons that you bring forward in the book, that's a great investment.
[00:05:06.610] – DJ
Yeah, well, that's why I wrote it. That's my hope. That was my goal, is to make sure that what I wrote was worthy of everybody's time, focus and attention. We live in a busy, hurry up world and I wanted to share the things that I know have impact, that I know can move the needle on the dial, getting to that level of life that we want to get to where we're a better version of ourselves, we're stronger, we're more resilient and we're more able to serve the people that we love and are with everyday.
[00:05:37.330] – Allan
And that's one of the topics I kind of want to get into early on here, is that I think when we become parents, particularly when we become parents, I think it's just something in your head just because quick, I'm a different person, I got to do something different here. But a lot of people also choose careers where they're serving as a teacher, as a firefighter, as a policeman in the military or even just being a leader in your community.
[00:06:02.530] – DJ
[00:06:03.080] – Allan
I think a lot of us get so involved in that that we miss one of the most important things and that's actually taking care of the warrior first.
[00:06:14.110] – DJ
[00:06:15.040] – Allan
Can you talk about self care and why that's so important and how we can make that paradigm shift?
[00:06:21.610] – DJ
It's critical and I'm glad that you're bringing this up. And by the way, that list that you just fired off. All those people are populated throughout the book. Those examples, those real world impact moments of how these principles show up in the lives of educators, firefighters, people in health care. When we talk about this warrior concept, and again, it transcends race, gender, age, stage of life. So I want to make sure that that's clear. But I put very directly in the book, you cannot be a warrior when you're falling apart. It just doesn't work. Intentions, you can dismiss them. It's execution that matters. And when we talk about this in practical terms, it comes down to self care, taking care of the vessel of all this great service, which is us. And you are the only you that you will ever have or be in this lifetime. We have to act accordingly. And sometimes we wait for other people to take care of us. We wait for it to be convenient and never will be. We wait for something to intervene, to really pull us into that self care mode. And sometimes that thing that pulls us into it is a health crisis.
[00:07:28.690] – DJ
And that's the reality is we need warriors who can sustain in the good fight every day, serving other people well, having a good impact. What we don't need is martyrs. And martyrs are the ones that just go till they fall apart, stand back, look at the debris field and say, how the heck did this happen? And I work with these people and I love them, whether it's a firefighter or educator or people serving in the military who are given their heart day in and day out, but they're not holding anything back to keep developing and protecting themselves. And that is unsustainable.
[00:08:04.690] – Allan
And the worst part of it is we don't get to choose when we fall apart. It's going to happen when it's going to happen. So you might be most needed at that moment when you're most unable.
[00:08:17.230] – DJ
And that's the reality. And that becomes extremely painful for people who have dedicated their lives to impacting others in a positive way. We don't know when it's going to show up. Sometimes we get some indicators, but we really don't know when to make that change until something crisis level happens. And that's one way to learn. I don't recommend it. I went through that same experience myself. Yeah, it was an awful experience, but it also made me a born again advocate for self care. Because I know if you keep doing that over and over again, drawing from the well without putting anything back, not only is your warrior spirit going to be depleted and drained, but you are going to go into a place where you don't want to go, which is that complete apathy, burnout health crisis. And there are better ways to do things in life. And you can learn from my painful lesson when you read the book on how not to wait, but to take care of yourself. Every day in our tribal communities, we talk about medicine. I mentioned that in the book too, as something that goes beyond a pill or a vaccine.
[00:09:22.600] – DJ
Medicine in our tribal communities and our traditions was anything and everything that kept us healthy, mind, body and spirit. So it could be spending time with family, spending time alone, it could be getting enough sleep, exercise, funny movies, hobbies, outdoors, whatever it is. That's your medicine list. We have to incorporate that daily because also tribal, we look at medicine, it's not something we go to when we're already sick and out of balance. It's something we incorporate into our lives to keep us healthy and strong.
[00:09:51.550] – Allan
Now, when we hear the term warrior, I think, and you said this in the book very well, people think of this really strong, almost invincible, against the odds, us against the world, or against the army or against whatever. And we don't realize how much when you actually look at real warriors in action, how they're not ashamed or afraid and they have the courage to ask for help.
[00:10:26.950] – DJ
Yeah. And that's a tough lesson to learn because the reality is you have to ask yourself a question how bad do you want to serve others? And if it is a deep drive, that passionate drive, then you have to set yourself up for long term success. And that's part of that self care idea. And yes, warriors are strong, but they are not invincible. I write in the book very clearly, warriors are not bulletproof. In our tribal traditions, our warriors fought against incredible odds. They were out matched technologically, they were lied to, it every turn. They had all these different obstacles and they still found a way to rally and deliver what they needed to for their people, to protect and defend their people. And if we're going to do that in our roles today, we have to take care of ourselves in the best way we know how. And a lot of that includes support from the outside because we over emphasize this warrior role where it is somebody who always has the right answer, is always strong, never afraid, doesn't deal with pain, doesn't need any outside support or encouragement. And that's all garbage that gets us into hot water quicker than anything.
[00:11:40.750] – DJ
Warriors are strong, but they struggle at times. Warriors are brave, but they deal with fear. Warriors are courageous and action oriented, but they also fall down at times and need help. That's totally okay. As I said, you have to think bigger picture. We all need that. We're all human beings. So that's important to include in our resource list. Yeah.
[00:12:04.500] – Allan
Now, I know from experience in the military, and you can see this in movies, it's a little bit more overdramatized of okay, get on the radio and call in support. It's a pretty common thing in a lot of movies where someone had that drama of we're getting overrun. But in real life that can be something as simple as just asking your spouse to take care of the children for 20 minutes or so for you to just go have a mental health break it's knowing when you need that and asking for that help and not being afraid to communicate that I'm being vulnerable with it. But just saying. Hey. I can't do this on my own right now. I need your help. And that trust that you put in the person that's helping you, well, they're probably a warrior in heart too. So it's a symbiotic thing where you're letting another warrior come in and be there for you just like you're going to be there for them later.
[00:13:01.450] – DJ
That's it. And there's strength and vulnerability. That's the other thing I've learned as I've gone along on my journey is being able to think through a different lens, realizing that sometimes the ultimate strength is actually asking for help, saying, hey, I'm not doing this right, I need some outside support, I need a different answer. That takes great courage and that's sometimes we're all worse than me when we don't exercise that. But just being able to reach out and get that support, that is critical because the way that we're wired, it's really bizarre because the moment that we're going through struggle is the time that we need support the most. But it's also the time where we are most likely to withdraw and go into our bunker, go into our own teepee and just lock everybody else out. And I always share with people, I was taught traditionally we're a lot more like bees and ants than we are like eagles. We need each other. We're better when we're with each other. Or let me clarify that with the right people we become very important to eliminate that. But we become more resilient, we become stronger, we become more brave, we become a better version of ourselves based on who we're surrounding ourselves with at the time.
[00:14:15.050] – DJ
That's why it's critical that we're not only selective be picky on who you tribe up with, who you associate with as a fellow warrior because if they're out there doing that good work at times you're going to lean on each other. And I take great comfort in knowing I'm surrounded by that caliber of folk. The men and women that are in my life that I know will be there for me just as I am for them. That's how you become brave as a group. That's why I say in the book warriors never fought alone. Why? Because that's dumb. You are going to severely limit your capacity to deliver anything good into this world when you try to go solo or lone wolf, it just doesn't work. It looks good on TV or in the movie, but in reality it doesn't work like that and it gets us into trouble more often than not.
[00:15:04.270] – Allan
Even rambo usually has a little bit of help
[00:15:07.930] – DJ
a little bit.
[00:15:09.730] – DJ
It's still mostly him. But that's that imagery, though, that gets us into trouble. And we do that too. Even in our native communities, we over romanticize that warrior role and make it inaccessible. And it's like that warrior role isn't about perfection. It's not about having all the right answers. It's about being strong enough to get yourself up when you get knocked down and continue to serve other people to the best of your ability. But warriors cry. They make mistakes, they stumble, but what they don't do is quit. And so that's the deciding factor there in that dynamic.
[00:15:44.710] – Allan
Yeah. Now, as a personal trainer, I come across people and there's two basic excuses that I get from people when they come. And probably the one that I kind of poopoo away and say, okay, that's not really true, is the motivation part. And I'm like, you'll be motivated when you want to do this more than you don't want to decline. When that balance happens, the motivation will come. But the other one I can somewhat agree with, at least from a perspective of experience, of understanding, when you think, okay, I just don't have enough time in the day to do the things I need to do for the self care, for the this or for the that. And you put something in the book, and I think it comes back to that phrase you used a minute ago, being picky. Yeah. Can you talk about kind of the mindset of what you put in the book about how we can look at time management to make sure that we have the time to do what we need to do?
[00:16:46.690] – DJ
Yeah, great question. First and foremost, there is no time for anything in this world. There's no time to eat, to pray, to play, to work out, to hang out with our families. There's only time for what we make time for, and that is it. If our health and wellness are not at the top of that pyramid, I'll tell you what we've also probably experienced everything we're trying to do may fall short because how realistic is it to go into this world, into this life, into this warrior role and want to deliver 100% of who we are and what we can do on a half charge battery or less? I mean, that's like plant carrot seeds and hope when coconuts grow. That's pure wishful thinking, and it's not reality. And the thing is, with time, it's non renewable. That's the other thing that makes it so precious, is we have to put it not towards everything, which is the temptation of the world we live in, but towards the right things. And if we never learn to delineate which is which, we doom ourselves to chaos. And one of the biggest challenges is learning not just what to say yes to.
[00:17:50.210] – DJ
We're good at that. It's learning what to say no to so that we have clarity of purpose we're able to concentrate our power and focus on the things that really matter because to not do that, we're dividing and conquering ourselves, which is the worst thing a warrior can do in battle. We're spread too thin and my gosh, do we feel it. We feel like too little peanut butter on too much toast, going a million different directions and not doing well in any one of them. So time management is absolutely critical in a busy world, and saying no to certain things, I know, can be painful. But the good news is you're saying yes even louder to the right things. And we're the ones who have to do that.
[00:18:29.780] – Allan
Yeah. And that's important. Everybody is going to pull on your time if you let them.
[00:18:35.740] – DJ
That's true. We live in a world where everybody and everything wants a piece of your time and they'll take little bites here and there and it's almost like you're swimming with piranha. Eventually you got nothing left and you don't know where it went. So that's why you got to get out of that pit or that pool of water and be able to operate on your own and be conscious about the choices you're making.
[00:18:57.010] – Allan
So about nine years ago I did a Tough mudder and then I was going to try to do a Spartan about four years ago or so and I tore my rotator cuff and so it's kind of that setback. And I was training for another Tough mudder that was supposed to do and not much time. It's pretty soon coming up here and I hurt my back and I didn't hurt any training. I don't know exactly how I heard it. It's not cute, but you said something in the book. The phrase you use is what to do when the wolf comes. And it's like, okay, I'm 56 years old. Occasionally I'm going to have some form of injury. It's kind of almost part of it, I'll tell you. Mentally, it's tough. How do we deal with setbacks properly? Because I think all of us are going to experience them as we go. It's never just the happy sailing, everything is good, I'm winning all the battles kind of thing.
[00:19:53.370] – DJ
Yeah. And it feels great when we're winning. Right. But the guarantee is the wolf will come and the wolf is that really huge setback, that heartbreak, that loss, that devastating pain, where we really are kind of reeling and wondering how do I keep moving forward at this point? How do I even stay afloat at this point? And a big part of that comes from who we surround ourselves with, like what we were just talking about, who we tribe up with, who our fellow warriors are. We need to be able to identify that and it's better to know what that looks like before you go into that moment than trying to figure that out when you're there. So that's the first one. The second one is really having a strong relationship within yourself. To be able to ask yourself questions when you're going through emotional turmoil that comes with loss, pain, setback is being able to kind of have a self interview where you're able to talk to yourself. And when you're able to do that and sit down with your emotions, I know it can be scary, but I promise everybody listening. You will not ignite on fire.
[00:20:56.900] – DJ
You will not melt down. You will not die. I know it's scary to do that, because dealing with those emotions makes us more resilient and enables us to get through them versus running away from them, which I know is a temptation. I mean, I've done that in my life, too, where you run away from the bad feelings as long as you can. They still catch up with you. They just catch up with you when you're exhausted now and not in a good position to deal with them. So it's better to face it and deal with it. But being able to ask questions like, are these thoughts useful? Because a lot of times, man, we all do it. We ruminate, we kind of go over the same turf over and over again. We're not making any progress. Why did this happen to me? How is this fair? Why does the world work? Like, we start going through this Rumination process that doesn't serve. The second thing is we can start asking ourselves questions like, what story am I telling myself about what just happened? We all talk about are all familiar with PTSD. Post traumatic stress disorder.
[00:21:56.720] – DJ
But there's also a thing called post traumatic growth. Which there's a lot of great researchers who are working on this now. And one of the big takeaways seligman is one of them who identifies that one of the most important questions we can ask is. What am I telling myself about this story or what I'm going through right now? And is it a story of doom gloom? It's never going to be the same. I'll always be broken or have a wound, or is it this is a learning experience. Yes, this is hard. I can do this. I can do hard things, and I'm going to be better for it and be able to help other people maybe deal with their stuff, too. Same situation, two different stories. But we're the narrator, we're the director, the producer, the actor, so we can recreate it. And then the other question is, is this story real or is this just fear showing up? Am I just really in pain right now? And if so, that's okay. You need to take care of yourself. But when we're able to do that, we're able to assess where we are and then how to move forward.
[00:22:59.230] – DJ
We can't do that if we're just in panic mode or stay stuck in the paint.
[00:23:05.620] – Allan
For me, it was looking at it from the Holistic of this thing really defined me. And it's like, no, this is critically important. I'm not a professional athlete. I'm not getting paid to do this event. I was doing this event because it was fun and it was motivating and the training to know that, okay, I got to build myself stronger than I need to be, to be who I am today, to do the event the way I want to do it. And I was going in that direction, but when I think about it from the longer term, it's like, okay, no, that event, that point in time, doesn't define me. It's upsetting that I won't get to do it, but I still get to be me. I still get to have the future that I'm going to have. I still get to be the warrior tomorrow.
[00:23:58.450] – DJ
[00:23:59.480] – Allan
And it won't do me any good to hurt myself worse today for the sake of something that isn't nearly as important as what I want tomorrow.
[00:24:08.110] – DJ
That's it. And you live to fight another day. This is such a great point, Allan. It doesn't define us. That one moment doesn't define us. It's really crazy to me, and not because we're all guilty of doing this, you run into one bad moment. You completely dismiss the track record that you build in your life, in your career, on your journey to get to that point in the first place. We took completely forget it. And that's one of the things I talk about in the book, is recognizing when you exercise courage, when you show discipline, when you face fear head on, is recognize those moments of bravery. Recognize those. Don't forget them. Don't blow past them. Because what happens is we're just looking forward all the time, which is important to look forward, but we never look behind us to see what it took to get here. And the reason why that's so important is when we remind ourselves of who we are and what we've done in the past, when we encounter that fear again or that setback, we can look at that reservoir of courage, and we can draw from it. We can say things like, I've been here before.
[00:25:10.690] – DJ
I've done this. I can handle this. I did it before. And actually, what I went through before was even worse, and I'm still doing this. So it's a process. And the other thing is, with the setbacks, we learn a lot about ourselves. One of the stories I tell in the book was about training for the Wing Open boxing tournament my senior year at the Air Force Academy. And I trained, I worked my guts out, and I broke my nose twice. The second time was two weeks before the tournament, and I broke cracked an eye orbital. So I was done. I was out. I was devastated. But I never looked at that as a defeat. I looked at it as a disappointment, but I never looked at it as a defeat. Just like, what you're saying with your injury, you can only do so much. And at that point, if you fall short, we can beat ourselves up for it or we can honor all that it took to get to that point in the first place. It's not always going to work out in our favor.
[00:26:07.510] – Allan
[00:26:09.910] – Allan
DJ, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
[00:26:19.570] – DJ
I love this question. This is a journey where all works in progress, but if we have that as a goal, and basically I would summarize that as kind of being the best version of ourselves and we're constantly evolving, we're constantly transforming, or at least should be. But the way that I see that is, again, having a personal dialogue, having a personal connection, and constantly taking an assessment of where you are. Are you happy with where you are? And if not, what are you doing to progress in that area? So it's kind of like a heat seeking missile going towards a target. There's infinite micro corrections to get to the target, and that's part of life we have to constantly be assessing. Am I doing well in this area and this area? Can I work on this area a little bit here? I'm doing pretty good, but it's a constant assessment and it's an internal thing externally. Again, we have to surround ourselves with the right people. I can't stress environment enough. I had an elder tell me this years ago. He said our spirits are like sponges. They soak up whatever they're around. And we get to define what that is.
[00:27:27.370] – DJ
Are we listening to an eight hour news loop or are we hanging out with our friends who give us encouragement? Reading books that inspire our minds, going through health practices that strengthen our body and minds. We get to determine what we're surrounding ourselves with that's also critical to our success. And then the other thing is celebrating. Celebrating the wins. Gosh, we don't do that nearly enough and we wonder why we condition ourselves just to kind of be humdrum and just on to the next thing. It's like we need to learn to celebrate, do the victory dance. We had songs when warriors would come back from battle to celebrate that victory. We wanted it to be something that people remembered. And how often do we achieve great things in a moment and we just totally blow past and go onto the next thing? How can we be inspired to go onto the next thing when we're not even honoring this thing? It just doesn't work. So we need to learn to celebrate, reward ourselves. Give yourself a break. A pat on the back and make it appropriate too. You don't want to do a good workout, good 20 minutes workout, then have a full chocolate cake.
[00:28:42.630] – DJ
Yeah, it's like you got to balance it out. But even sometimes I find. For me, some of the best rewards I give myself is just permission or kind of an acknowledgment that in that moment I delivered. Just to be able to actually recognize that that's one of the best feelings. It's not about buying something or going somewhere. It's about being able to sit with yourself and have that internal conversation where you hear your own voice telling yourself, you did a great job there, you really delivered, you brought it, and that feels awesome. I mean, we need that. But however you celebrate, we need to do that more because we want to condition ourselves for the next success and the next. We don't want to condition ourselves to go into Burnout faster.
[00:29:27.770] – Allan
Perfect. DJ, if someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about the book, The Warrior Within. Where would you like for me to send them?
[00:29:36.530] – DJ
Please go to nativediscoverycom. That's my website and it's got all the information on what I do, who I work with, information about the book and where you can get it. It will be available everywhere, also as an audiobook, but really excited to put it out into the world and strengthen the people that read it and appreciate that.
[00:29:58.810] – Allan
It's got a lot of great insights. So thank you for sharing and thank you for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
[00:30:04.700] – DJ
Chimmy Gwetschniji. Thank you very much, my friend, for having me.
[00:30:15.270] – Allan
[00:30:16.410] – Rachel
Hey, Allan. That was an interesting interview with DJ Vanas. I'm curious to know it sounded like he was a Native American.
[00:30:24.000] – Allan
He is, yes. And very much in the service area, military and now service to people. This is written from a very different perspective of caring about people and being the light for others, the example for others. That's very important to him and with his culture. And so yeah, going through the book you really get a sense that he's a lead by example person.
[00:31:01.250] – Rachel
That's so neat. It was really interesting. There's a lot of good things in your interview, but why don't we talk about having the courage to ask for help? I know that I struggle with that sometimes it is hard to ask for help. I don't want to be a martyr or anything, but I just sometimes feel like it's just better if I get things done when on my own. And I do want to help. I want to be a good mom to my kids. I want to be a good wife to my husband and a good daughter to my parents. And sometimes it just gets overwhelming.
[00:31:34.030] – Allan
Yeah, this is just my opinion, so I could be completely wrong and if I am, just ignore me. But I think men have a difficulty asking for help when it comes to physical things and getting things done on that side. A lot of men will say, okay, I'll fix it myself. And I don't mind. We'll spend a whole Saturday fixing something they could have paid a mechanic $50 to fix, but they just want to do it themselves, and so they will sit there and go through that time and expense of figuring it out to solve that problem. Now, women on the other side, I think it comes to more of the emotional trying to get help with the things that a mother should be good at or a sister or a daughter should be good at. They don't want to ask for help there. But the reality is, regardless of what your hang up is, it's really important to recognize when asking for help will move the needle.
[00:32:40.680] – Rachel
[00:32:41.990] – Allan
And we've talked about big rocks and little rocks and all that. Sometimes your big rock is to ask for help.
[00:32:48.410] – Rachel
[00:32:50.150] – Allan
If you're thinking, okay, I could lose the weight myself, what you're saying is, okay, I lose 1 lb a month doing it the way I'm doing it, and I want to keep doing that. I'll get to my goal weight in three years. That's great if you stick with it for three years, whereas maybe just hiring a coach could get you there in a few months or six months. Same thing. If you want to run a five K, you could start training for the five K, but you might tell yourself, okay, well, we're getting close to the end of the season. They're going to do some fall runs up until Thanksgiving, Christmas, then it gets too cold here, and then it'll be March, April before I'd want to run again. So I'll train for a 5k in April.
[00:33:39.450] – Rachel
[00:33:40.320] – Allan
Okay. And knowing that most of that training is going to have to be done on the treadmill, or you could hire a running coach, and you could be running that 5K by November. You can be doing the turkey trot easy. And so just thinking in terms of how much a trainer will help you move the needle is a big thing. The other thing is asking for help elsewhere, and I think this is another area where I think women might have a more difficulty is to say, okay, you're the primary caregiver for children. You're the that, and you want to start training. Well, you can't be mom and train at the same time. And now maybe you're lucky enough to be in a place where they have a daycare at your gym, and you can drop the kid over there, and they can sit there and see mama working out over there, and they can watch their videos and things like that in the little play area, and that's cool. But if you don't have that, then you got to ask for help. Help. I need you to watch the kids for an hour each day while I do this training.
[00:34:45.330] – Allan
Because it's not entirely fair for you to say. I got to wake up at 04:00 in the morning so I can get my training run done so that the training done. So then I can come home and be mom and then go to work and come back and be mom and get everything done for house and home and do it all over again the next day. If something as simple as, look, I need you to get the kids ready for school four days a week, three days a week, and I got the other two. You can get three training days in each week. And for a lot of us, that's enough to move the needle.
[00:35:19.170] – Rachel
Oh, for sure, yeah. It's important to communicate with your spouse or whoever else you have in the household about trading that time off. I'll watch the kids this time so you can do your thing while we'll try it off, where you watch them, where I can go do my thing. And same thing with the chores. If you can't keep up with house chores, you split it up. It's just a matter of communication. But when you do hire a coach, you could, like you said, move the needle, but I don't have a clever way to say it, but the coaches have already done all the hit and miss. They've already done all the research and have seen experience. They can cut you right down to the bone of what you should be doing to move that needle the fastest. When I first started running, I was just learning as I went. But I did hire a coach just recently. The spring I ran a marathon, I was aiming for a PR, and I hired a coach who got me that PR. And so even her techniques, her knowledge, her experience got me to where I wanted to be.
[00:36:24.070] – Rachel
And I'm a running coach. I should know all this stuff, and I do. But sometimes you just need somebody else to hold you accountable, to do the right things at the right time. There's just a lot of value to it.
[00:36:37.070] – Allan
Yeah, and I did that with strength. I can train myself. I've done it before because I had to do it before. When you work 90% of the time, you're traveling 90% of the time. To put that in context, you're home three days a month. Oh, gosh, okay, so home three days a month. And there's no way for me to hire a trainer at the time because there were no online trainers, and specifically were no online trainers that were used to coaching people over 40. The only online trainers I knew were the ones that were like the nutrition coaches for getting yourself ready for contest prep or posing coaches who are getting people ready for their posing for a contest, a fitness or physique contest. And so there really wasn't anybody that was going to say, let's make an old fat man on fat. So that's what I needed, though. I needed something like that. So I went and got certified. I started spending time, I started making sure I stay in hotels with certain amenities, gyms and things like that. And I was able to do that. But I did put a stop. I made it something I had to get done within a certain amount of time, all those kind of things.
[00:37:46.550] – Allan
But when I hired the strength coach, I thought, okay, yeah, this will help me get a little stronger than I was before. No, I got as strong as I had ever been, even as a high level high school player, football player. I was squatting more at 51 years old than I was in high school wow. As an offensive lineman. So that's what my strength coach was able to do for me. And it was little things. It was these little things that he was able to just put into my thought process that pushed me a little harder, a little faster. And even at my age, I was trying to be the voice of reason. It's like there's no reason I should put that much weight on the bar, but I had done just a little less than that weight the day before, a few days before. So I was like, well, let's go. Let's see what happens. And I mean, I would push myself. It's not that you need to be the strongest person you've ever been. It's not that you need. But if you really need to move the needle on something to realize a coach is going to make that happen, that change will happen easier and better.
[00:39:04.220] – Allan
If you have someone there that understands what you're going through, can push you just hard enough and keep you in the game and doing it. So you're not making excuses to not do it. And there's all those things the coach brings. Like I said with my clients, it's like it's direction or guidance. It's support, and it's accountability, and that's what a good coach will bring you. But again, you have to ask for help if you want to go it alone. You might get there, but it might take you a lot longer. It took me over eight years, almost nine years to fix myself, and that was me doing it alone.
[00:39:48.010] – Rachel
Well, the interesting thing about a coach, too, Allan, is that we have the laser focus on what our athletes goals are. We don't have the same distractions that they have. They've got work and they've got family, and they've got outside obligations, and so it's easier for them to change their balance or to skip a workout or something. But as a coach, I'm looking at my athletes every single day. I want to see what they're working out. I will push them to do things, and I know when they do have crazy things coming up in their lives, we'll adjust. But again, we have that laser focused on what their goals are and can get them there. And then two, we've said in the past, you need to have some skin in the game, and when you hire a coach, you're paying for that service, and you're going to take full advantage of what you're paying for. So you get a lot of accountability and motivation just from that as well.
[00:40:45.650] – Allan
You sure do.
[00:40:47.410] – Rachel
[00:40:48.560] – Allan
All right. I will talk to you in a few minutes, but everyone else will talk to you next week.
[00:40:54.930] – Rachel
[00:40:55.960] – Allan
[00:40:56.880] – Rachel
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Having time to be excellent at work and spend time quality time with family is hard, throw in fitness and it can seem impossible. In his book, Everyday Athlete, Art Trapotsis shows us how to find that balance.
[00:03:26.310] – Allan
Hey, Ras. How are you doing?
[00:03:28.190] – Rachel
Good. How are you today, Allan?
[00:03:30.150] – Allan
I'm doing all right. I'm doing pretty good. Of course, I'm getting ready to get on an airplane to travel back to the United States for four weeks or so. It's about four weeks to spend time with family, and then I'm going to take an actual vacation. This one actually by myself in Mexico, so I'll be gone for about five weeks. Traveling around and seeing family and doing this and that. But I did drop the tough mudder. It wasn't in the cards for me this time, and I've accepted that. But that just means I could spend more time with my mother.
[00:04:05.890] – Rachel
[00:04:07.210] – Allan
[00:04:08.950] – Rachel
Great. Trade off. Perfect.
[00:04:11.290] – Allan
How about you?
[00:04:12.620] – Rachel
Good. Same thing. I'm actually getting ready to get on a hydroplane myself. That's how we're going to get to Isle Royal in about a week or so, and we'll have eight days on the island, so I will be unplugged for about eight weeks. I'm looking forward to that.
[00:04:28.060] – Allan
Yeah, that's going to be exciting. You just mentioned before we got on the call the weather is changing a bit, and so plans are changing, and it's kind of evolving thing as you get going and imagine even being on the ground, you kind of have to have that concept of we need to be able to pivot when it's time to pivot and roll when it's time to roll.
[00:04:48.250] – Rachel
You have to be flexible. Some of the days that we're going to be out there might have longer hikes than others. We have a limited food supply. We're packing in what food we have, packing out all the trash. So, yeah, you got to be flexible and be ready for weather changes, landscape changes, animal changes. We don't know what to do.
[00:05:09.720] – Allan
Just remember, you only have to be able to outrun Mike. You don't have to be able to outrun the bank.
[00:05:15.430] – Rachel
[00:05:18.070] – Allan
Although he probably still runs a little bit faster than you.
[00:05:20.450] – Rachel
He is he's very speedy,
[00:05:22.400] – Allan
but he's got more meat on his bones. Go get it
[00:05:25.930] – Rachel
right? Yeah. Just looking forward to it.
[00:05:28.910] – Allan
Well, are you ready to have a conversation with Art?
[00:05:31.190] – Rachel
[00:06:11.210] – Allan
Art, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
[00:06:13.640] – Art
Thank you so much for having me, Allan.
[00:06:15.590] – Allan
So your book is called The Everyday Athlete: How to Balance Work, Family and Fitness for Life. And there's a lot to unravel in that title for a book, and we're going to do some of that today. But this is a big thing. It's really hard for me to explain because I know I'm a coach and so by the time someone is coming to me, they've already somewhat hot committed, if you will, to say, I'm going to do something for my fitness, I'm going to do something. And they're listening to 40 plus Fitness. So we're somewhat there. But the whole balancing thing, a lot of us missed that.
[00:07:01.190] – Art
Yeah, I initially thought that there were three sort of separate buckets with work, family and friends and then fitness. But one theme that kept emerging when I was doing research for this book and interviewing people was that without fitness, it's really hard to succeed in the other two areas and to feel balanced. So fitness is sort of interconnected with everything else that we do in life. And we can't just think of it as a silo that we put on hiatus when we're focusing on work or family.
[00:07:33.150] – Allan
Yeah, I actually did that when I was younger. I think we all, a lot of us, fall into this trap. We get into our late twenty s and thirty s and we're like, okay, I'm putting in the hours and I'm getting promoted at work. And so it's almost like the more I pour of myself into my job, the better my career goes. And now you're competing with everyone else at work and you're winning those competitions because you're putting in the time. And so I ended up at 37 years old, sitting on the beach in Mexico, by all accounts fully successful. I'm a vice president of a Fortune 500 company and my life is wonderful. Except I know I had fallen out of a volleyball game the day before I went to play sand volleyball and it was four on four, it wasn't even twos. And I played one game and I subbed out. And I'm thinking to myself, I never would have subbed out in my entire life. I would have been the last guy to sub out. I would have done it just to let people play. But I would not have subbed out because I needed to.
[00:08:39.310] – Allan
But I did. So the next morning I'm sitting on the beach and I'm like, why am I so pathetic? I've got all this great stuff at work, but I didn't have it at home. I didn't have it in my health and fitness. And so it really was that disconnective balance that I was so one sided. And I fought that for eight years. I'm like, how do I rebalance? And it took me eight years to figure it out. And for me, what it was was this idea that everything that I had been successful at in my life, I committed to. And the only way I was going to find balance was if I equally committed to all three things.
[00:09:18.470] – Art
Did you feel unbalanced during those eight years?
[00:09:21.210] – Allan
I did. But I kept trying. You know. It was like this Yoyo thing where it was like gravity almost and I kind of equate it to I don't know. I've seen movies where two planets are coming together and you got the gravity going one direction and the gravity going the other direction. And I would start getting pulled one direction. And then all of a sudden work would be there. I'd turn to face work and I'm back the gravity well, yes. And another year later, yeah, I got another promotion. I worked so much harder, and then I write back being spit back out, like, wow, that didn't work. I'm still not fulfilled. And so, yeah, it was a really hard thing to do because it meant breaking a lot of who I was down and saying, okay, why am I the way I am? And then it meant breaking up relationships, it meant cutting back at work, and it meant finding the time to do those things and really just figuring it all out.
[00:10:21.800] – Art
Yeah. So I was a competitive cyclist earlier in my life, and when I got a real job, went into the real world, got married, started to have a family, and became less competitive. But I noticed that there were quite a few folks in my circle of friends that were still remaining competitive with cycling, and I was wondering how they were doing it. So I started to interview some local masters athletes to put on my blog. And as I spoke to more and more people, I became really fascinated because I was like, oh, there's quite a few folks who sort of figured out how to manage all three aspects of their life. And I started to weave together some common themes and create this book, The Everyday Athlete. And one of the big things that came out of it was time management. I mean, just learning to be flexible and taking advantage of available time when you get it to sneak and exercise whenever you can, even if it's just a 30 minutes run or weight lifting session. It doesn't have to be some massive two to four hour endurance ride, which is sort of the norm if you're a cyclist or any endurance world.
[00:11:39.230] – Art
So that was one of the themes that came out of the time management piece.
[00:11:42.830] – Allan
and that was definitely part of it. And to me, again, it was about the committing to the fact that I had to have that balance or I wasn't going to be complete. And then from there, everything just sort of started falling in line because once you truly commit to something, you have to do it. You don't have a choice anymore. And I knew I was at that point, I knew I knew I was. You said something earlier, though, that I think is really important, and it was that if you don't have fitness, it's maybe even impossible to really be fulfilled or balanced in those other areas. And for me, the biggest part of that is what exercise does for us, and not just physically for our bodies. Because I think people know, okay, well, if I exercise and burn more calories, that makes weight loss or weight control a lot easier. But really the special sauce with exercise is what exercise does for the brain. Could you talk a little bit about why that's so important? Because, again, if it's going to make everything else better, I'd like to know why.
[00:12:45.000] – Art
Well, there's a lot of data to support that. The fact that fitness in your life creates a ripple effect. So you go out for a 30 minute walk at lunch during your work day. You come back and you feel a bit more productive, and there are chemicals associated your brain that sort of stimulates more engagement at work with whatever it is you're doing. In the book, I referenced a book called Spark which talks about they perform some studies with students who had a break or perform physical fitness during the day. And those students were better students over the course of the year because they were just more engaged and they've learned better. So I sort of extrapolated on that and took that into the workplace.
[00:13:34.430] – Allan
Yes, you actually have programs at your workplace that people can exercise and take time off. And you're really flexible with all that because you know as an employer actually pays you for them to be that way.
[00:13:49.590] – Art
Yes, we installed we moved to a new facility about three years ago, and one of the layout pieces was, okay, we need to put a gym in here to make it as easy as possible for people to get some exercise. So we've got showers, we've got a gym. We created a wellness program with monthly activities that are totally voluntary. Nothing is forced upon anybody, but they're pretty fun. Just in a couple of months ago, we had our annual walking challenge where if you have a Fitbit or an iPhone or something, recorded your steps and it became sort of a little bit competitive. But it also was kind of fun because now you see people going out at lunch and getting in their steps and walking with their colleagues and recording it on the weekends, and all those folks just seem a bit more engaged when they get back to the office.
[00:14:40.520] – Allan
Yes, sometimes a little bit of competition can really spark some interest and get people doing a little bit more. That's awesome. Now you hit a concept in the book that one, I know it's going to resonate with Rachel kind of big because this is something she does. But you titled the book Everyday Athlete. And so we're not just talking about the person who's competitive or thinking about going masters, Olympian or something. This is just the person that wants to be able to hike on the weekends like something beautiful. They want to be able to ride their bike, play tennis again, or just do things, be a great grandmother, just that awesome person that keeps up with grandchildren at the zoo. Can you talk about the value of calling yourself an athlete?
[00:15:29.220] – Art
Yeah, I think that there are so many hurdles in the way of folks finding a way to get the fitness in their life. And I think and I propose this in the book, that if you think of yourself as an athlete, you're training for a 5K or 10K or a marathon or something. And if you just started to think of yourself as an athlete, then you start to adjust your behaviors a little bit. Oh, I think I'll go to sleep a little bit earlier tonight. Maybe I won't have that extra piece of cake. But also it becomes just more ingrained in your daily life. You think about your whole day with your meetings and your eating schedule and sleep schedule, like, oh, there's also a component there that involves me getting some exercise, and I need to do that because I'm an athlete. And I think getting over that hump of thinking yourself an athlete can really just make fitness more ingrained in how you are as a person.
[00:16:25.860] – Allan
Yes. The way I really ramped myself up was that my daughter was a CrossFit coach, level one CrossFit coach. And so I was looking back at her, she's 20 years old, and I'm thinking, that was me at 20 years old, I was an athlete. And then I'm thinking to myself, well, why wouldn't I be thinking of myself as an athlete today? Why would I be a spectator in my daughter's life going forward? And I wasn't comfortable to retire the cleats, if you will not done. I wanted more. So I said, okay, I'm going to train to do a tough mudder, and I'm going to do it with my daughter. And by committing to doing it with my daughter, it went well beyond that. I didn't want to just do it. I wanted to not hold her back. I wanted her to be able to run her race, and I want to be able to keep up with her. And I wanted us to finish that thing together, and I didn't want to be wrecked doing it. It was, okay, well, I have something now that I'm training for. And when I started the training, it's like, well, okay, I do have to feed the machine.
[00:17:30.290] – Allan
My body is a tool to do what I want to do. And if I do the right maintenance with it and I do the right training, it will respond, and it will reward me with a beautiful experience with my daughter. And it did that whole concept of I went back to being an athlete, and there are times I'll tell you, I still struggle with that because I can't do it all the time. I can't be that athlete all the time. Even LeBron James, he has an off season. And so in the book you talked a little bit about off seasons. We're not going to play basketball every day all year. We're going to have off seasons. Can you talk about why having off seasons is important?
[00:18:10.310] – Art
Yeah, I mean, there's a concept called periodisation where over the course of a year you slowly build up and develop what we call sort of base fitness. And as you approach your event, if you have an event in your calendar, you might convert some of that base fitness into more intense workouts. So you're kind of building the pyramid and the top of the pyramid is your event day. And when you reach the top, there's always a necessity to take a break. And if you have, let's say, two events during the course of the year, you want to filter in some rest time. It could be a week or two weeks. But eventually as you get around to, let's say, the winter season, if you're a cyclist, you might want to consider taking off a full month and just sort of not stopping exercise, but scaling back the volume, the intensity. And then that also resets your brain. Okay, I don't have to be on every single day of the week or every week to get workouts in. I can back up a little bit and it recharges you for the next season. So you don't have to go hard all year long at some point.
[00:19:20.620] – Allan
And I think that's really important. There's a balance to that. Like I said, that's what this book is really about. If you know, it's like, okay, well, Christmas time and Thanksgiving time is when I'm going to be spending time with family. And I don't want to be spending even though I could, I don't want to spend 4 hours every day training and not be able to drive over the house until 02:00 because that's when my training runs going to be done. Everybody's going to be there at noon and here I come straightening up at 02:00. And that's not really cool. So I'm taking that off season and saying it's okay. It's okay to relax, it's okay to enjoy these other things. And then that recovery that refresh it's across not just your body but your brain and everything. You can go into your next season, your on season, and start really pushing for higher and higher goals.
[00:20:10.730] – Art
Yeah, it's okay to give yourself a break and be gentle with yourself. You don't have to drive yourself into the ground all year. So you mentioned the holiday season and for me, like, that's the time where I sort of push aside some of those longer training sessions and focus more on the family piece and spending time with family during the holiday period.
[00:20:33.480] – Allan
Yeah, and family of the three, to me that's the hard one. Now I don't know why work, for some reason or another, was like I said, that little black hole that just sucked me away from everything else in life. But once I got back to the family part and I see it a lot with my clients. Particularly those that are the caretakers. And particularly when we're in this sandwich kind of generation of where someone's were still taking care of our children while we're taking care of our parents and that pull on us to be there for our family all the time just seems to be something that can kind of really derail the fitness and even sometimes our careers. How do we get around the family? Not like break up with the family, but how do we make that work when the family has such a huge draw on us?
[00:21:28.130] – Art
I think it starts with communication and basically expressing to your significant other and to your family members, like what you value and what's your priority to you. So if getting in the run on the weekend is really important to you, then you don't sit down and say, hey, honey, I want to go out and do a huge ride this weekend. I'll see you later. It's more like, hey, what does the family want to accomplish this weekend? We have some commitments here, some chores here. Can we carve out a little bit of time for me to go off for a run? And I think having that communication is so important because if it's not there, then the other department will always feel some sort of resentment or you're leaving them hanging with the rest of the family activities to organize and create. So the communication is like the first piece and there's a lot of little things we can do to improve communication, like having a family calendar and sort of sitting down and saying what I just said, where you look at the weekend, what do you want to accomplish and what do you want to do for fun and do you want to have the family dinner?
[00:22:39.590] – Art
So that is a really important piece in our household.
[00:22:43.170] – Allan
Yes. I think the way you put it in the book was really great was that you had little kids. This is not like you're talking about just send the teams off to spend time with their friends and you go do your run. This was okay. We've got little kids. One of them has got to go to this practice. One of them has got this game. And so it's like, okay, based on the times available, I'm going to have to get up and from six to nine I'm going to go do my ride or my run and get that done. So then I'm done and then I can take this one to the game. And then while we're at the game, you can take and do your run and then we meet back. And now we're together as a family having our dinner. And we made everything happen that needed to happen and we had the balance between us and the conversations between us and the trust that, yeah, she's going to follow through, I'm going to follow through because it's not just, I'm going to get my running. It's like, you know, I think I'm going to go play some golf with the guys.
[00:23:39.640] – Allan
I got a call. No, we commit. We do the right thing. And that communication and trust means that they're willing to give because you're willing to give. And in the end, if you're not taking care of yourself, then you're not really going to be 100% for your family. As we mentioned earlier, how key fitness is to all the other dynamics.
[00:24:00.120] – Art
And sometimes it isn't even about the other person. Let's say also going out for a run or getting in some fitness. It could be done wanting to disconnect by doing some gardening or meeting up with some friends for coffee. It's whatever it is that your significant other things of is like, disconnecting and re-energizing them. So I think it's just having a respect for whatever your partner feels like they need to do to stay balanced.
[00:24:28.290] – Allan
Yeah, my wife would be the I'm going to go spend some time with my friends kind of person. She's not going for a run, but I totally get you there. But yeah, we're different people, and we have different needs, and with the respect we have for each other, that we just we make it work. But I don't have the little kids. It's just the two of us, and our only little kid is Lula's, our bed and breakfast.
[00:24:51.590] – Art
Well, I'm just checking in that your partner has some time carved out for themselves, like, oh, do you need some time to disconnect and do what you would like to do?
[00:25:03.670] – Allan
Yeah. All right. It does. Understanding that and as I said before, I didn't have that balance, and I didn't have that skill because I think the communication between a significant other is a huge skill that a lot of us go into marriage without really ever having. We go into relationships without really having and or practicing. And once you kind of practice that skill, it's very powerful.
[00:25:29.530] – Art
Developing the emotional IQ.
[00:25:32.510] – Allan
That's it. Yeah, that's the word right there. Now, one thing I always recommend, and a lot of other people recommend, is do something you enjoy. So if your fitness doesn't have to be, okay, I got to get you in the gym, I've got to do three sets of eight on that leg press, and then we're going to move over to this machine, and we're going to do three sets, eight. For a lot of people, that's intimidating, scary, and they're not going to enjoy it. And if they're not going to enjoy it unless I'm there asking them to do the next set, they're not going to do it. So a lot of people encourage, just do something, enjoy. So it's like, take a group class, take a Zumba, go out and join a running club or a walking club or a biking club. Why is this group training? Why is that so valuable? What's the draw? And why are so many people interested? And why is it so much more fun, I guess would be the question is what are all these values that group classes do that we wouldn't do ourselves?
[00:26:30.170] – Art
Well, part of it has to do with the motivation piece. Sometimes it's just really challenging for you to get your own butt off the couch and then to go out and do that ride. But if you know that there's five or six people waiting on the coffee shop for you to also go for that ride, then it just gets you a little bit more of an edge to get out there and do that. And in our area where I live in our neighborhood, we have weekly group rides. There's something going on every day of the week and it's super motivating because, you know, on Monday, if it's a recovery day, there's a recovery ride. The folks around here are called the Muffin Ride because it meets up at a coffee shop after the Muffins. And I think that that's got a lot of folks in our area off the couch and motivated. And many of them have events on the calendar now where they're doing centuries 100 miles rides. And these are folks who were not engaged that level of athletic fitness just a few years ago. So the group ride or whatever group activities you want to do, it goes a long way from foundation.
[00:27:38.040] – Allan
Now, a lot of people will look at that and they'll say, oh, well, I'm going to go try to ride with people that are doing 100 miles races and more. And it's like, well, I physically can't do that right now, so if we're going to go do a training ride, see you, they're going to leave me in the dust. But you also mentioned a concept that you call the no drop mentality. And so occasionally some of the groups that you train with will use this or have this. Can you talk about what that is and how that could help someone who's maybe just a little intimidated to get started?
[00:28:12.450] – Art
Yes, the no drop ride. So when you get dropped on a ride, it means that you've fallen off the back of the group and basically have been left for dead and no one's waiting you and you're riding by yourself. So there's number rise throughout the week or the month where we announced a no drop ride. Words basically at the top of the hill, we'll wait for everyone to gather and you never felt like you're left behind. There's always someone looking out for you and it's at a pace that usually everybody can hold and it really lowers the barrier to entry because it's like, okay, let me show up as a no drop ride. I know I'm going to make it all the way home on this 25 to 30 miles loop, and I'm not going to be left to figure out how to get home. So with that, we've actually drawn in quite a few newbie cyclists and they've loved it. And over the years they've gotten better and they've gone on to some of the harder group rides that become very competitive. But I love the no drop rides. My favorite one to do, especially on Sundays.
[00:29:14.970] – Allan
Yeah, the concept, to me, it's two sided and the two sides, this one is as a group, I think it's just really great that you're having this inclusivity of saying we want to introduce more people to the sport, to this thing. And the way we do it is by making them feel more comfortable and more included. And I can tell you, in a gym environment, a lot of people feel intimidated. They walk in there and they see the big guys over by the free weights. They're kind of like, I'll just hang out over here by the treadmill, don't mind me. But the reality is a gym environment, most gym environments are no drop mentalities. The guys you see over there are those heavy weights. They're happy to see you there. They won't walk over and tell you and welcome you, but they're glad to see you there because by you paying a gym membership, you're helping pay for that equipment they're using too. And so most gyms are going to have a no drop mentality. They're not going to let you fail just and laugh at you. They're not going to do that. They want you to be successful.
[00:30:13.640] – Allan
They want you to be long term gym members just like them. And eventually you might be over in those free weight areas and they'll be glad to help you in any way they can. But then there's the other side of this equation, and that's the mindset that you bring to the game. I know if I got into a ride, I'm not keeping up with you. There's no way. And I don't mean that as a slight. What I mean is I can't lose my battle, my sport, by competing with you. I'm competing with myself at this point in my life. And so my comparison is to Allan yesterday. I want to be as good or better than the Allan I was yesterday. And it's not just in sports, it's just not fitness. It's family, it's work, it's everything else. What am I doing today to be better tomorrow? And so I think if you look at a no drop mentality, not only is important if a group has it and makes you feel comfortable, it's kind of building in yourself that I don't actually care if I get dropped. I'm not comparing myself to the best riders in this group.
[00:31:24.200] – Allan
And if I do get left behind, then I'll figure it out. But I'm going to come back and I'm going to get better and so at some point, I might be that good, but I'm not going to compare myself to them. I'm going to compare myself to who I was yesterday.
[00:31:38.690] – Art
There are so many folks that I've ridden with and went running with, and I was involved with triathlon over the years that started off very intimidated. Didn't want to put the spandex on the Lycra, but.
[00:31:57.390] – Allan
It just shows how great you look. Maybe you don't feel like you do. Yeah.
[00:32:03.160] – Art
No, but I think it takes someone to say, here, let's go for a short ride on the bike path. That's just get you comfortable on the bike or the run or even a swim. And then, hey, let's show up on the 20 miles no drop ride this weekend, and we'll go together. And over time and I've been doing this now for over 25 years, many of these folks are much stronger than I am now. And they just developed it's like their inner competitive cyclists came out, and now they're phenomenal athletes. So it's been a pretty fun process to do that.
[00:32:42.410] – Allan
Well, as we said earlier, I think everybody has an athlete in them. Our human body was built to be athletic, to hunt, to fish, to forage, to move, to play. We were built for this. And so it's there. It's just a function of bringing it out. And it starts with the mindset, it starts with the doing. And if you can find these groups and find the way to do the training where you feel comfortable, but then you push that comfort zone, then you get better. And I think that's one of the keys. And what I really liked about your book was it just kind of pulled that altogether to say, if you want this balance, it's within your grasp. And it's not just a concept of having it all, which I think is what a lot of people think balance is, but it's the understanding, the compensation with all of them to fit them together in a way that fits your lifestyle.
[00:33:38.130] – Art
Yeah. And also that it's a journey. You're not going to have balance every single day of the week. It's something that we're always moving towards. And even the folks that you think have life completely dialed in, they don't. They're always trying to figure it out.
[00:33:56.350] – Allan
But they're instagram famous.
[00:33:59.310] – Art
Exactly. So we're all in the same boat. I've interviewed over 100 folks through this book of all walks of life. And every single person I interviewed, no matter how successful they appear on the outside, or how successful they appear as far as athletic prowess, everyone struggles. Everyone. So I think if we can keep the fitness piece in our life, as we grow our families and build our careers, it will make us at least feel like we have life in check. And that's what my proposal is in the book.
[00:34:38.380] – Allan
Yeah. And I would say, being over 40, if you can reintroduce fitness into your life, it's going to enhance those other things just as well.
[00:34:48.730] – Art
I totally agree. There's quite a few folks who were competitive in high school, or maybe not even competitive. They just did some sort of sport in high school. Maybe they played in college. And then there was nothingness in their late 20s or even into their 30s. And then they feel like, okay, I need to get back into doing something. And when they do that, it's like a switch turns on and the rest of their life starts to fall in place.
[00:35:19.210] – Allan
And it's not even that you are an athlete when you were younger. Because I remember I was 29 when I ran an ultra 50 miles ultra. And I was standing in the morning meeting, and they have these briefing the day before briefing. And so we're sitting in the briefing room and I'm standing next to this really old guy. I mean, at the time I'm looking, I'm like, okay, he's ancient. He was 68 years old. So we started talking and I started looking around. I'm like, everybody here is way older than me. And like, what's going on? What bizarre world am I in? And he said, he says most people don't actually even ever start running until they're in their 40s. Most ultra athletes were not really necessarily even athletes when they were younger. They got into their forty s and running was a way for them to destress and get in shape. And then they just kept adding miles. And here we are lining up tomorrow for a 50 mile run. And I just thought that was so compelling. And then you see the results of the run. It was a twelve hour cut off.
[00:36:24.710] – Allan
There were 28 of us that started the run. I think 18 of us finished. And the guy who came in first was 29, and I was 29, and I came in next to last. And then when I finished, they're on the radio and there's one guy left and like, is he going to make cut off? They're like, it's going to be close. And then they said his name. And I'm like, that's that 68 year old guy. I was standing next to a briefing yesterday. So I'm standing at the finish line watching this guy finish this race. And so this is a guy who didn't start running until he was in his forty s. And here he is competing with himself, but competing in the 50 mile run. And he finished it just under time. And so at that point, I knew anything is possible. You can come back at any age and you can do this at any time. So it's not that you had to be an athlete. The athletes there, it's always been there. And it's just a function of pulling it out and using it now, using your fitness, because it's going to enhance everything.
[00:37:27.550] – Art
Well, one thing that I'm glad you just told that story. Because one thing that resonated with me in one of my first triathlons, I was maybe around 25 years old and there's a couple of older categories that started in a way behind us, about ten minutes behind us. And in any triathlon usually put your age on the cap. So with a marker you can see the age of the person. So here I am in the final leg of 5K, 25 years old and I'm going to a pretty good clip, maybe like a six minute mile pace or something. And up comes behind me is this gentleman and he's fast and he's blown by me. And I look at his cap, it says the number 47. I'm now 47. I see his number 47. I was like oh wow. He actually started like eight or ten minutes behind me. And the thing that resonated with me was when we got to the finish line, his wife was there and two of his kids were there. And I just thought this is amazing. And that's what really motivated me over all this time, my career and family, that you can keep doing this, you can keep doing it, still be competitive and have the whole thing.
[00:38:46.520] – Art
So that resonate me. And I just love that you kick my butt there.
[00:38:52.390] – Allan
Good, good. And hopefully he's still running, but hopefully he's still doing that.
[00:38:56.700] – Allan
Art, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest, and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
[00:39:04.890] – Art
That's a great question. So number one, I think consistency, try to do something multiple times a week. I'm going to say at least five times a week. That's one thing. Number two, I'm gonna say this now because I have a lot more years of experience on my belt. Sleep. Sleep is so important because then you're ready to go the next day 100%. The third thing is having the ability to disconnect. And when I say disconnect, just disconnect from work, disconnect from your phone and just letting your mind sort of recharge. And you can do that in a form of meditation, reading a book. But I think that's really important to just overall wellness.
[00:39:53.410] – Allan
Thank you. I love those. Thank you. Art, if someone wanted to learn more about you or learn more about your book Everyday Athlete, where would you like for me to send them?
[00:40:03.370] – Art
[00:40:15.490] – Allan
You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/553 and I'll have a link there for that book and for your website. So thank you Art. Thank you for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
[00:40:26.600] – Art
Thank you so much, Allan. It's a lot of fun.
[00:40:36.350] – Allan
Welcome back, Ras.
[00:40:37.990] – Rachel
Hey Allan. Art I think might be my new best friend. There's so many great things in your interview but the first thing I wanted to mention was a quote and I don't know if I got it exactly right in my notes, but I believe the quote was, without fitness, it's hard to succeed in the other areas of life. And I just wanted to take a minute to recognize how important it is to be healthy and to be fit in your day to day life. It's so important.
[00:41:07.130] – Allan
Yeah. I missed this myself. I got well into my career and I was in a sedentary job, so I had all the fitness I needed to be an accountant, but I didn't have the fitness to be the other things that I wanted to be in my life. And so as my health was declining, I recognize that my performance was going to decline during the longer days. And sitting at the desk all those days and all that, I was not at peak. I mean, I was doing enough, and it was enough to be where I was. But I think about what all the other things I could have accomplished in my life if I had the energy and the stamina and the capacity to do those other things, and I didn't, but I didn't even recognize it. It's kind of one of those things that you're sitting in this water and you don't really recognize the temperature of the water. I'm not going to say what that comes from, because people get mad every time I say it. No, I don't do that. But the whole point being is we lose sight of our own surroundings because we're so in it.
[00:42:19.230] – Allan
And so if you find yourself not thinking outside of your environment, you might think what's going through is normal. This is just what we all normally hurt. We all normally can't do things we all normally break, and that's not true. There's a big variation of the aging curve, and we get to make some decisions, and we get to make those decisions each day. But yeah, we won't perform as well if we don't take the time to train and get our body as strong as we can get it.
[00:42:51.100] – Speaker 3
Well, that's a really good point right there, Allan, is that when we're young, we have used on our side, and it seems like, being that I'm 51, I can look back and say that the younger people, including my younger self, we had energy to spare, we had some level of fitness to spare, and then as we age, that level of energy is not the same. I would always say if I could bottle the energy my kids had, I would make millions. But the fact is that as we age, things happen. And you guys discuss too, the balance, having balance between work and family life and fitness. If you think of those three things, those three major concepts, family, work and your health and fitness, it is hard to be an expert at everything all at the same time. But there comes a day where you really do have to focus on that health and fitness level, because if you're not healthy, it makes everything so much harder. Work becomes harder. Running around with your kids or grandkids is immensely harder, and then you're missing out on some really wonderful activities.
[00:44:02.580] – Allan
Yeah, it's really important.
[00:44:05.310] – Rachel
But the other thing, the reason why I really do love Art, and you mentioned it as you were talking, is that, yes, I do love calling my clients athletes. I love to think of myself as an athlete, even though I am not Olympic level. I'm not contention for anything super like an elite or professional athlete. But when you do think of yourself as an athlete, your perspective on everything changes. When I go out for a run in the morning, if I don't get enough sleep, I don't have quite as much fun in my run, or I can't go quite as far as I want. And if I'm training for a race, sleep becomes even more important. And the same thing is with my food. If I eat poorly over the weekend, I can't have my long run. It's just I don't do it quite as well, and it's not as enjoyable. So once you start thinking of yourself as an athlete, things do change.
[00:44:55.850] – Allan
Yeah. I spent so much of my early life kind of doing the flip flop of use the word early on when we were talking, before we came on as academic, thinking of yourself as an academic, or thinking yourself of this, and you tend to get this tunnel focus. At least I did. And so it was like, yeah, when I left high school when I was in high school, I was an athlete. That's all I thought of. I didn't think of high school as even an academic pursuit. It was something I had to do to be on the football field, the track, the tennis court. I did those things, but I was an athlete. That's why I was in high school. And then I got into junior college, and it was like, okay, well, now I have to be an academic, and I have to just be an academic. And so I was so focused on the academics that when I then had to make a pivot in my life, it was like, I've been working so hard in one area, I didn't want to do that anymore, and I pivoted all the way back to athletics.
[00:45:58.980] – Allan
In fact, the reason I went infantry in the military was they showed all these videos of all the things I was capable of doing. And when I passed the Azab, the score, my recruiter said, do anything. You can literally do anything in the army you want to do. And so I just told him, I said, Drop everything that says engineer, mechanic, anybody that fixes or does anything with their brain. Just turn that one off. They came up with field medic, arterial surveyor, which was math, and then infantry, and they showed the infantry guys, and they're all just running around all the time. And I'm like, that's what I want to do. For two years, quite literally, it was signing up and just saying, what can I do for two years to earn some money for college? And I did two years of infantry. And I'm not going to say it didn't use my brain power, but it didn't use it to the power of thinking of academics. It was, I'm learning everything I can about this field of study, which is how to kill people, but physically I was focused on being the brood, being the most physical person I could be.
[00:47:14.850] – Allan
And then I left out and went back to college. And in college, it was probably the only time I felt like I had balance because I was except for family, because I was got married and so I was basically at college lifting and then work, and there's rinse and repeat every day and there was no other time. So quite literally, yeah, I was taking a full load, working full time and getting in the gym 2 hours every day. That was my entire life. And so I've never until about now been in a position where I've said, okay, I can manage to balance. And so I understand the challenge of all of this. I'm fortunate now that the kids aren't home. So there's not that. There's my wife, my dogs. They are my home and my family right now. And then I'm going to go visit family. I'm beginning the research of where the gyms and all the towns that I'm going to be at. I know there's a YMCA in my mother's town, and it's like $5 a day to work out there. Maybe cheaper if I pay by the weeks off the sea. At least it was the last time I was able to work out.
[00:48:28.100] – Allan
The last couple of times I've been there, it was closed because of covid, but that's kind of where I'm looking at, what can I do to keep my fitness on track? And I'm realizing cardio might be a better option for me during this next month. I'll just have to look at it. But I'm more in a position now to have balance than I ever have been in my entire life. That's where I'm at. And not everybody can do that. But the closer you are to balance, the better all of this fits together so that you don't feel like you're losing anything, you don't feel like you're giving anything. It is a compromise and there are going to be points in time. As Art said, when you're training for something or there's a family thing or there's something going on at work, that you need to focus on a project, but you need to think about the after the project or after the thing, because you got to get back to more of that balance. And if you don't do that audit, that self audit, it's very easy to lose sight and find yourself again, very one sided.
[00:49:34.010] – Allan
I know I have a tendency toward that, so I'm going to spend a lot of time with family. For me, also, being an introvert, that energy is energy spent, but I still need to be able to focus on clients and focus on my health. And I know what's going to happen as soon as I come back to this island, my being a lone, fitness, going on long walks thing is going to happen.
[00:49:59.350] – Rachel
[00:49:59.850] – Allan
So I'm going to need that. So just looking at how I'm going to maintain balance, particularly during these changes, is really important. I think that's kind of a message I took away from that, for sure.
[00:50:10.170] – Rachel
And I think part of having that balance or finding that balance is also being flexible. I know that when my kids were younger, I would get them up for school, go do a quick run, make sure they got on the bus, and then I could finish the rest of my day. And just like you said, now that my kids are college age, I don't need to worry about whether or not they get on the bus. I can schedule my runs at any time. When you travel, you're going to find some time to do walks in the morning and enjoy the cities that you get to visit. And it's a lot of change, but you could still make that a priority wherever you are in life and whatever responsibilities you have, and it is really important to focus on that, because I like to tell my clients this, too. You can't pour from an empty cup. You need to take care of yourself before you can take care of other people. And so if that means a quick ten minute walk or a ten minute run in the morning, you're going to feel energized, and you're going to feel a little less stressed and a little more happy, and you'll be able to be more patient as a parent or with a loved one.
[00:51:16.220] – Rachel
So it's just really important that you are flexible and try and squeeze in whatever fitness you can whenever you can.
[00:51:23.050] – Allan
[00:51:24.250] – Rachel
[00:51:24.840] – Allan
All right, well, since Rachel and I will both be traveling this next week, and she won't be able to carry the recording gear in her equipment because she just doesn't care that much weight, and she also wouldn't be able to connect to Zoom, there's probably that as well. But we're not going to be recording hello sections for the next two episodes. We're actually going to record our after show sections right now, so there's no reason for us to say three hellos when it's the same day, it's ten minutes apart. So I just realized we will skip the hello sections in the next two episodes, but we are going to record our afterthoughts for each of those two episodes in just a few minutes. So, Rachel, I'll talk to you in a few minutes, but everyone else, I will talk to you next week.
[00:52:12.450] – Rachel
[00:52:13.460] – Allan
You too. Bye.
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As we age, most of us lose a lot of functional fitness that makes humans apex predators. This happens for many reasons, but it isn't something you have to accept. You can learn to move better and as our guest, Tony Riddle titled his new book, Be More Human.
[00:03:29.590] – Allan
Hey, Ras, how are things going?
[00:03:31.850] – Rachel
Good, Allan, how are you today?
[00:03:33.670] – Allan
I'm doing good. I recently finished my coursework for the Precision Nutrition Level One and waiting for my certificate to come in. I set up on monthly payments, so it's kind of one of those things where because it's not cheap, but they offered monthly payments, I'm like, okay, I'll do monthly payments. And considering how long it usually takes people to get through that course, they said, okay, expect it to take three or four months, and you have to get about that many payments in before they'll even let you say that you're certified. So I think I have to wait until the end of this month. It's already July to wait till the end of this month, and I make a payment on the 29th. And so a couple of weeks from now, when this goes live, I'll get that payment in, and they should send me my certificate, and then I'll be precision Nutrition Level One certified.
[00:04:33.620] – Rachel
[00:04:35.290] – Allan
[00:04:36.140] – Rachel
What did you think about the class? Did you learn anything interesting or anything?
[00:04:40.600] – Allan
I did. For a lot of people, when they're thinking about this, they think about, I don't want to log everything I eat, and it's so hard to track this, or, oh, they want me to do away with this or do away with that. And Precision Nutrition is a lot more holistic things I've said. So it kind of fits my model of thought is one, eat whole food.
[00:05:08.230] – Rachel
[00:05:11.870] – Allan
Eat whole food. And then just take some time to start understanding portion sizes.
[00:05:17.330] – Rachel
Oh, yeah, that's a good one.
[00:05:20.030] – Allan
And then it's sleep and making sure that you're staying hydrated. And those are the kind of the four core principles of it. And guess what you don't have to do when you understand portion sizes? You're getting adequate sleep, you're staying hydrated, and you're eating real food. You don't have to track calories. You don't have to really worry about tracking macros, because guess what? You can't overeat whole food.
[00:05:49.010] – Rachel
[00:05:50.040] – Allan
Think about it.
[00:05:51.030] – Rachel
[00:05:51.380] – Allan
If I said, okay, here's what you got chicken or beef or fish as a protein, and maybe you want to do vegan or vegetarians, like, so you get your protein together, and you get your vegetables and fruits together and then try to overeat it.
[00:06:06.030] – Rachel
[00:06:07.050] – Allan
Try just try to overeat meat. Okay.
[00:06:13.950] – Allan
I'm really trying to cut a little bit more weight to get ready for the tough mudder, which is going to be in another month and a half from when this goes live. And so I've started really trying to get myself into ketosis and pushing through on that. And right now I'm going through something where anything I eat that has carbs in it pops me down, and I'm like, I'm right on that line. It's like, right over the line or right under the line. And I wouldn't be too terribly troubled about it other than I'm not cutting body fat right now, because I drop out of ketosis when I eat any carbs at all. So I'm actually, at least for the last 48 hours, full carnivore.
[00:06:58.930] – Rachel
[00:07:00.090] – Allan
And I can tell you so I had steak for breakfast. I had eggs for lunch. I say breakfast, I ate it like noon, but I had my breakfast at noon. It was steak. I had eggs for lunch, which was about 3:30, and then for dinner at about six, I had another steak. So I'm talking about eating maybe about a pound a steak. So a big 16 ounce steak and then three eggs is what I had for lunch. So kind of a light lunch and then another steak. So I ate about another pound of steak for dinner, and I couldn't eat anymore. I got some leftover steak here. I'm like, well, I don't want to go to waste, so I'll wrap it up and save it for tomorrow. I could not have eaten any more than I ate. And if I added up the calories, I'm pretty sure I was really low on calories. I mean, because a pound of steak, I don't know. But 2 lbs of steak and three eggs, you guys can look it up and kind of figure out how many calories I had that day. That's all I ate. And I stayed satiated full all day long.
[00:08:06.310] – Rachel
I would imagine that sounds fulfilling. Wow.
[00:08:10.200] – Allan
Whereas I could eat a whole loaf of bread without even batting an eye, literally buy a whole load of French bread and just sit there and eat it, and then I'd be hungry ten minutes later, 2 hours later, I'd be starving. So you look at the nutritional density of your food, and that's really kind of where the fundamental difference comes in. Whole food is nutritionally dense, and you get full before that, whereas a lot of other foods that are processed or even somewhat slightly mildly processed, they're just more calorie dense. And that's where the weight gain comes from.
[00:08:48.200] – Rachel
because they're just not satiating, they just don't fill you up.
[00:08:51.340] – Allan
So that's kind of some of the core principles between precision nutrition and there's a huge component of behavioral change. A lot of what they're talking about is how we build habits, how we change behaviors. And so that's kind of the secret sauce to the precision nutrition process. It's not just telling you what to eat or naughty. It's basically saying, beyond that, we have to build these habits. We have to build these things. And they don't just happen. You don't just decide. So there's a big behavioral component of making sure that happens, and within it is like they break it down. It's like sometimes you're dealing with elite athletes that want to really hit a physique target or something like that. So it gets very specific into some of the things that you would deal with, with someone who needs to lose a lot of weight versus someone who's really just trying to cut another 3 lbs without losing any body muscle mass and stuff like that. So there's a lot of that in there, too. It's kind of what I would say outside of my core demo. Most of us are not trying to win physique contests, but that said, it's a really good certification.
[00:10:07.070] – Allan
So anyone that is certified out there, I would look at precision nutrition as a way of understanding the nutrition aspects of personal training and then being able to offer that as a more holistic service.
[00:10:18.890] – Rachel
That sounds awesome. Sounds like a great class.
[00:10:21.990] – Allan
So what's up there?
[00:10:23.620] – Rachel
Good. You know, summertime brings some really fun stuff. Right now, we've got two massive mulberry trees on our property that are dropping mulberries like crazy. It's ridiculous. They're all over the ground. And my dogs love it. They get a free snack every time they go outside, but it also brings in other animals. And I just saw red fox the other day. So the little fox family living somewhere in our wooded subdivision is coming to snack on the mulberries that are on our property, and it's been a real treat.
[00:10:54.940] – Allan
Now, the thing about foxes, we see these cute, cuddly little pictures of foxes, and we see the pictures, and we see the cartoons, and they seem like they're just these lovable little animals.
[00:11:07.950] – Rachel
[00:11:08.870] – Allan
They're adorable. But some of them are really, like, not adorable. So you could get a good fox or a bad fox, but they're dangerous. They're wild.
[00:11:16.450] – Rachel
[00:11:17.260] – Allan
And they could go after your dog. They could go after you. So, yeah, you got to mind your Ps and Qs when you walk. Okay?
[00:11:25.960] – Rachel
Yeah, I keep an eye on my dogs, and I do let them out, and I'm always looking first before I let them out just to make sure there's nobody in our yard. With fox, we've had deer run through. We've had groundhogs coming through as well. So we've got a whole fun menagerie of wildlife in our property.
[00:11:46.040] – Allan
But it's like Noah's Ark.
[00:11:47.750] – Rachel
It is. It really is. Yes. But it is always fun. It's fun to see.
[00:11:53.610] – Allan
All right, are you ready to talk to Tony Riddle?
[00:11:56.790] – Rachel
[00:12:22.930] – Allan
Tony. Welcome to 40+ Fitness.
[00:12:25.390] – Tony
Thanks, Allan. Great to be here, man. Thanks for the invite.
[00:12:28.770] – Allan
Your book is called Be More Human, which I love. Be More Human: How to Transform Your Lifestyle for Optimum Health, Happiness and Vitality. And I think one of the reasons that your title and this book resonated so much with me is a lot of what I've done to improve my own health and Fitness has included a lot of the things that are in his book, including we moved to a small island, Caribbean island off the coast of Panama. And so while I do live in a town, I'm very close to the jungle, and I'm closer to nature and everything than I've ever been in my whole adult life. I can literally go out and be in places and not see a person walking for over an hour. And it's
[00:13:16.880] – Tony
just kind of a dream.
[00:13:18.020] – Allan
It is special, I know, but a lot of this in the book doesn't require you to travel thousands of miles and move into the jungle to experience a lot of the benefits that I get being here. And so I want to talk a lot about this, what's in the book here, because I think this is a really special way to get healthier, connect with the Earth.
[00:13:47.770] – Allan
You say that you're be more human, but I'm like, be who you're supposed to be. Be the person you want me to be.
[00:13:55.390] – Tony
Yeah, you're human. What the universe uniquely assigned you to be. Get into the understanding of that, what your own human potential is, or purpose, we could even call that. And I think we get so distracted from that in our everyday environment because we're simply not getting our needs met within those environments. And that's largely what the book is about. It's not about demonizing the urban environment or the lifestyles in the city or the city itself. It's trying to dismantle, deconstruct those ways of living that aren't serving us and then reconnect into ways of living that enable us to thrive in any environment. That's the point. To become the connected, empowered being that we entered with. We're all in a tiny, wild, connected, empowered beings. It's what we land with. And over time, unfortunately, we get pulled off the path. But really, for me, it's about every day should still be a get, a need and most fundamental needs that then enable us to thrive and really tune into, well, what's this human's potential here? How do I be more human?
[00:15:08.590] – Allan
And I like the way you put it in the book, because it really puts it in a really good context, is that we create our own human zoo. And then you introduce the term rewilding, which you see a lot of people are going to initially kind of have a cringe moment when they think about going back to the Stone Age, living in caves or maybe tents with stone tools. Can you go a little bit more into what this rewilding getting out of our human zoo is all about and why it's so important?
[00:15:45.730] – Tony
Yeah, when I first started this kind of path, there was this language of zoo human versus wild human. And first of all, it's a bit of an insult to call someone a zoo human. And at the same breath, we can't really connect to being what a wild human is, and even indigenous cultures don't want to be perceived as being wild right there. But again, looking at the indigenous template of what it is to be, there's some incredible kind of moments where I've had these deep insights in nature because it's taken me to unplug myself from the urban environment to really tune in to how sophisticated it all is, right? And, you know, if you look at indigenous cultures, how incredibly wise and understanding those cultures are to that landscape of which they're custodians, really, we could look at the what is it, the study I brought up in, there like, four to 5% of the world's population is indigenous, and yet look after 80% of the world's biodiversity. So then it's like, well, what is it that we're doing then, if that's 4%? And so firstly, there's the biodiversity. There's the question of that. What is it that we're doing within the environment?
[00:16:59.740] – Tony
Is it because we're so separate from it? So I guess that's where I'd go with the wild understanding of it, that we are part of nature, not separate of it. We're interconnected in that sense. And then the zoo human in my mind is the fact that we've become disconnected and unplugged from it and that we see ourselves separate. So there's the ego versus eco conversation. So a lot of the work for me is disconnecting from an ecosystem and reconnecting to an ecosystem, again, not by demonizing the urban environment or the environments of which we choose to live in. It's the habits, perhaps, that are in those environments. So we could be looking at movement, perhaps, what does movement looks like in nature? That would be a wild or organic way of moving versus what does it look like in the human zoo? What does it look like in our everyday urban setting? So we could even put movement down to let's look at one study of the Hadza, for instance, to give us an example of cultures that have been living the same way for tens of thousands of years. The Hadza are just as sedentary as we are.
[00:18:11.500] – Tony
As in they sit for ten and a half hours a day, as in we sit for ten and a half hours a day. But there's something very different. Well, we have a chair, whereas they're sitting practices of floor sitting. Therefore, there are multiple different rest positions we can be choosing on the ground, which ultimately will lead to one primary position, which is a squat. And that squat position enables me to recognize the same body weight on my feet in the base of support of my feet to which I would stand. So squatting is the same weight, same areas of the feet that I load when I'm standing. But it's a rest position. And we see squatting as kind of an exercise protocol or strength conditioning protocol, but ultimately, beneath it, there's a rest position that we can communicate, be around the fire, eat, poop give birth in, right? And if we then look at the chair, perhaps in that conversation, or the sofa, where we may spend ten and a half hours of our day committed to, in a way, it compromises or is the saboteur of the way that we stand. So suddenly we find ourselves locked in the hips or stagnation occurring in the hips.
[00:19:27.850] – Tony
Then the pelvis and the lumber become incredibly unstable because the hip joints aren't mobile enough. So the core element, the core we love talking about, becomes unstable. The mid back becomes compromised, our chest starts to collapse, our head position starts to shoot forward and all those postural changes aren't conducive with standing and we spend a large portion of our day in that position. So that could just be well, that could be a zoo posture versus a wild posture. And in terms of wild, I would say what is it to be this wild, connected, empowered being? Well, it could just be just simply the way we move through a landscape or interact with it. How upright we are, how open we are. Is our posture connected and our joints working how they should be? Are our feet connected how they should be? Are they? Nourishing. The behaviors of the ankle, the knee, the hip stabilizing, the lower back, we could then put sleep in that box because we all love the topic of sleep, right? And there are so many studies in what would be the human zoo or the human laboratory even, because most of the studies are in the laboratory which help us understand what we need.
[00:20:37.540] – Tony
8 hours sleep a day. We must get 8 hours sleep a day. And to the point people are stressed about getting 8 hours sleep a day because they've heard the news that if you don't receive 8 hours sleep, then you have a sleep debt or you'll have a number of symptoms based on the fact you haven't accumulated over 8 hours. And they are diabetes, obesity, inflammation. And yet, when you look at these indigenous cultures, there's a great study in the book again, Professor Siegel from university in California, he looks at three different geographic locations or three independent tribes. So different geographic locations, independent tribes, hadza are in there again and they all have the same time asleep. It's like 5.7 to 7.1 hour, no 8 hours at all. But no one is asleep for 8 hours or 5.7 to 7.1 hour in a solid state. It's this sleep wake cycle. And if you strip it back and think, well, that makes sense, right? Because in nature can be quite hostile. If it's been the same sleep or the same environment they've been inhabiting for tens of thousands of years, then that might have been hostile if they were all asleep for 8 hours.
[00:21:57.870] – Tony
So in that time, would we be here today? Would those cultures be here today in those hostile environments? If they went to the land of nod for 8 hours. So in that sleep wake cycle, what they're doing is they're waking, they're tending to fire because you have to have a fire, they're fixing tools, they are even known to smoke party or whatever it is. But when they break away from the study and they look at the hatza, for instance, and they assess for 220 hours, they study them, 33 members of that one tribe, 220 hours, they only ever sleep for 18 minutes together. They're all doing this all different sleep wake cycles. So where is the obesity, the chronic inflammation, the obesity? It's not there. They're in incredible shape. And if some of the studies, when you look at them, because we have this idea about longevity, that they're only living till their 40s, some of these tribes know they can live beyond 70. That's not the case when we look at it. It's quite an interesting model to unpack just looking at how does it look in nature and how does it look in the environments of which we're inhabiting and then what is it that's different?
[00:23:14.390] – Tony
So what is different in that sleep habitat? It's like lighting, right? There's no turn the light on to create sunrise at sunset. So we know then that through the studies around melatonin and light pollution and blue light spectrum, they've become the saboteur of melatonin which is this incredible hormone that we only really associate with sleep, but it has antioxidant properties, anti inflammatory. It's also the main regulatory system of our digestive system around Glenn, Glenn and Leptin which then regulate whether I've had too much food wherever I need to eat, right? And then insulin, right? So there's this link to pancreas and the insulin. So then we have a inflammation, diabetes and obesity all in a conversation around melatonin and lighting all of a sudden. So is it the 8 hours sleep or is it the environment of which we're choosing to so then my question is how do we rewild that environment? And that's the context of rewilding a zoo or zoo environment as simple as the bedroom. We could look at that one environment if we're looking to spend 8 hours in it. So what can we do? We could change the lighting. You can now bring in circadian lighting which offers the same biological darkness which is like starlight, moonlight and firelight.
[00:24:35.540] – Tony
So it brings in amber tones and anything they suggest between 60 and 600 hundred lux will inhibit a blue spiritual light or will inhibit melatonin. Then what else is different? The temperature. There's also studies that suggest that if the temperature could also be a saboteur of melatonin so it's about getting the temperature down in the evening. So if you think of it again about being in the outdoor environment, if you've ever camped, you know that once the sun goes down, it gets cooler at night. So we know this cooling down of temperature too. And then there's something else which is the materials that perhaps we're breathing in and out in that environment. So in nature, again, it's an organic experience. So we're only ever really inhaling, or let's call it consuming through everything, our ears and nose, our senses, our taste, everything organic. So how do we make that expression more organic? And it's probably one of the points in the book. Everything else is free, really, the points I put in the book. But this is one where you stuff out of that bedroom environment to replace it with more organic material that might be the bedding or things like breathing.
[00:25:43.810] – Tony
We can change breathing mechanics. We now know that for nasal breathing there's a change of relationship between parasympathetic and sympathetic and then the information that we receive, right? So we all have one of these now that's quite bright on my phone. There's some fantastic studies around just fields of vision. So that's quite bright for that alone the light will inhibit melatonin. It's the suppressor of that we recognize that now, the saboteur of that, but also the fact that the visual state is so concentrated and that's associated more sympathetic, which is like fight and flight, whereas an open visual field is more associated with parasympathetic. So you have one condition where we're staring at a blue light which will suppress melatonin. The second one we end up with really hypervisual state, which is sympathetic fight and flight before sleep. The next one is then dopamine because we're typing and swiping, which again isn't conducive with sleep. And studies suggest that up to 400% melatonin from just typing and swiping. And then it can just be the information we were receiving. So is the information up regulating? Am I perhaps the difference between the fire and the indigenous tribes around the fire is perhaps romance, comedy, imparting wisdom, whereas this can be quite toxic and we've even normalized emotional bullying over social media, right?
[00:27:08.240] – Tony
It's okay to drop this comment and that's incredibly abusive to one person that they might receive before sleep. Or it could be a movie you're watching which is incredibly violent. That would be the equivalent of being around the fire with your tribe in this really down regulated state and being invaded or something, right? Or in a moment a predator comes in. So then you switch to what would be fight and flight, right? That would be a reaction to it. But we have that in our possession the whole time. So when you see it like that and you understand, it's much easier to think, okay, I get it now. It's not really about the length of sleep. The length of sleep is almost symptom relief. It's a symptom. What's the cause? It could even be the bedroom of which you're sleeping in could be the cause of the very conditions that are leading you to suppress melatonin are leading to inflammatory disease, diabetes and obesity. Just simple factors like that. And we can address it relief or we can look at the cause and the cause change the environment.
[00:28:17.150] – Tony
Now, one of the things that's fascinating about you is you're an endurance runner and your runs barefooted. And I can tell you the other day it was raining and I had wore because I was planning to meet my wife out and I had wore my leather boat shoes, brand new leather boat shoes and I didn't have an umbrella. And I was like, okay, I can't walk home in these. I'm going to have to walk home barefoot. And so I put them in a plastic bag and I put them in another bag and then I started walking home barefoot. And when stepping in a puddle, when you can't see the bottom is a little kind of scary but sharp rocks. I seem to be able to find every single sharp rock between two points. How does someone get into barefoot running and do it in a way where they're not hurting themselves? Like I said, I think you can condition your foot and obviously it gets stronger. I know that because I spent a lot of time walking around barefoot. But to me, running barefoot is a little scary.
[00:29:17.590] – Tony
Yeah, I mean, there's a mind aspect to it, right, as well as obviously the physiological. But there's also a technique. I think we sometimes neglect the technique, but there's a study in the book from University of Liverpool, which is Chris Dart, and they look to the strength side the physiological changes that can occur by people returning just back to barefoot footwear, like Vivo Barefoot, for instance. In this particular study was Vivo Barefoot and within six months they'd improve 60% foot strength and 40% balance just by returning that. So if we think of that being the foundation of your superstructure so the first phase could be well, you could change to more minimal footwear. That's one step because then you're still getting the shape of the foot because ultimately you want to look at what's the shape of a foot versus the shoes that I'm wearing. So if you were to take a piece of paper, draw around your foot on the paper and you'd find the toe area like the foot, this area is much use. My dirty feet wide and the heel is much more narrow, right? Whereas if you then grab your footwear and you draw around it you might find that the toe box is actually much more narrow.
[00:30:29.550] – Tony
It's aesthetic so it's more aesthetically pleasing. But it's, again, the saboteur to how that foot is designed and to move and nourish the rest of your posture and the way that we move above it. So if the shape of the foot is compromised there's 26 bones, 33 articulation joint actions like 100 muscle, tendon, ligaments, 29 muscles. And then it's made up of tendon ligaments and then there's 200,000 receptors, like receptors like the equivalent of your hands that reside in a foot. I mean, it's. Phenomenal engineering, but that then feeds and nourishes how your joints and behaviors are above it to make you more efficient and minimize the risk of injury. But let's say Alan decides I'm going to take my shoes off, I'm going to walk over a hard surface which has hard stones on it. If I was to ask you to jump up and down barefoot on a really hard surface, what gives, Alan? Is it you or is it the hard surface?
[00:31:32.390] – Allan
I'm going to have to it's not going anywhere.
[00:31:35.450] – Tony
Not going anywhere. Or we'd be hitting hard on hard and one of those surfaces will have to break. Right? So what happens is that if you were to jump up and down on a compliant, really soft surface, we become can, more stiff and more rigid because the surface is doing this. So come 1969, it was normalized all of a sudden to wear more rubber. And then we have more rubber, but we also have a narrow toe box. So we create a narrow shape for the toes to go into. Then we put rubber underneath it with a heel, which raises it and pushes the foot into the footbed even more. So we create a stiff, rigid foot which becomes narrow in the toe box. And the whole point of that super wide foot is not just the loading points, leverage and pivoting. There's specific actions that have to occur in the foot that are based on leverage and balance. And this ability to even grip with the foot, when the foot becomes incredibly stiff and rigid in that shape, when you try and return back to walking over a stony path, you're then going back to that hitting hard on hard and stiff on stiff.
[00:32:42.830] – Tony
And it can feel like.. Until you would have to learn how to break the foot up. So again, going back into one way is to return back to minimalist barefoot footwear. So you can start to allow the foot to open up. There's a minimum layer between you and the earth. It's zero. Drop your feel stuff underneath you, but you won't be getting so much that which creates more tension. The more of that response, the more rigid intent you get, adding to more hard on hard expression. And the other thing I've put some practices in the book is to rewild the feet, which are practice like toga we call it like yoga for your feet. And that's then about opening the feet up and getting more expression into them and ultimately softening them so they can become the compliance over the stiff surfaces. And then eventually what happens, the more and more familiar you normalize it. And what you find is that you become more sensory aware, more sensitive. And I don't mean sensitive in that ah ah ah, I mean sensitive. I really learn that you'll learn how to become, again, soft when you need to be, stiff when you need to be.
[00:33:59.350] – Tony
We have the most sophisticated suspension systems within us. That's the point. And that's why those 26 bones, 33 articulations, 200,000 receptors are there and over 100 muscles, tendons ligaments or 29 muscles and the rest tendons, ligaments that make that 100 up. That's why it's there. But it's there also because it feeds and nourishes all the other mechanics above it. So that's where I'd go with feet. But then you then have well, the chair, so the chair will then the seat is sitting for ten and a half hours, then compromises the posture above it. So it's like a two pronged thing. Running for me is not just barefoot. Running isn't just about feet, it's about getting the appropriate posture and becoming much more upright and aware of that posture. And the whole point there is that our head should be up above, but we lead with the heart. The chest is the lead segment, not the head. The moment the head goes forward from typing, swiping and couching and slouching, I call it, what would happen is when you're running so that if your head is far forward of you, you have to have your foot further out in front of you, otherwise you'd simply fall over.
[00:35:08.880] – Tony
Imagine you're upright like this and we're running along. The moment the head drifts forward, you'd have to put your foot further out, otherwise you'll fall over. So the head would get to a point of tipping point. But if we can become much more upright, you can get to the point where your feet are pretty much landing underneath you and it means there's a lot less contact time. So you just catch the ground beneath you. And the idea is that leading from your heart and keeping your head up, we're literally just falling in this direction and you just keep pulling your feet softly from underneath you. And pulling is a great term, I understand that from a genius called Nicholas Romanoff who developed the Pose Method. And this idea that we think we have to push when we run and ultimately if you just keep doing this, you just pull your feet from the ground. And the idea is by pulling, you're not driving your feet down or pushing, you're trying to pick them up. And I would pick them up with sensitivity again like this, softening and you don't need to worry about putting them down, it will just happen naturally, just pick up.
[00:36:08.100] – Tony
So if you keep your head up, your chest up bead with the heart, nasal breathing also helps because again, the study suggests that there is through nitric oxide that we inhale through the nose it's stimulated will benefit vasodilation and bronchial dilation if we'll become more efficient with our lungs of breathing and we can lower our heart rate and our blood pressure just by nasal breathing. There's also 42% less vapor loss by nasal breathing, which is mind blowing, especially for me, for an endurance athlete. But it keeps us in that calm state. Again, so I think with breathing we can be relaxed with the right posture, we can deal with the forces appropriately. We're not creating longer levers or loading areas of the feet. We're not designed to load. And just by either wearing minimal footwear or allowing the feet to understand what's beneath them, again, it helps feed our movement brain to make the right calculations on what muscles, tendons and actions should be applied for that one locomotive pattern. And I say that one because walking is the same. It's like walking with an upright posture down regulated through breaths, less striding, actually trying to keep your feet underneath you, but thinking about rolling through the feet and becoming visually aware of the environment as well.
[00:37:27.860] – Tony
Because we bring the head down, the head starts to chase and we create longer levers. Otherwise again, we'd be falling over. And the less contact time, the more efficient. Again, because it requires less muscle action, you're on the ground for less time, basically posture, relaxation and the timings and the rhythms of that.
[00:37:53.340] – Allan
And the key takeaways I get from this, again, being over 40 actually over 50 now is balance, because falls become a big deal, particularly as we get over 60. So anything you can do to improve your balance, which this will do, is good. And as you mentioned, being more efficient means you're going to be capable of going faster and doing more work. So when you're out training, you're going to get more done and you're going to see better improvements because your efficiency and your capacity to do more, because your heart rate isn't racing as high, because you're not in that fight or flight state. So there's lots unpacked there that makes this really interesting. Now the other thing, and people won't know this, listening to a podcast, but you're sitting on the floor. And so sitting on the floor, it's one of the things if you hand a kid a book or a toy, immediately they're going to run over and they're going to sit on the floor. And then somewhere along their lives, probably around great school age, we start beating that out of them and then eventually they're going to be on couches and chairs just like the rest of us.
[00:38:56.440] – Allan
I found that sitting on the floor, when you're with a kid, it changes the whole relationship with that child. And I build relationships with my granddaughter. Initially she was terrified of me and I built a relationship by walking over and sitting on the floor and starting a Sponge Bob cartoon on my computer. And she came over and sat next to me and we watched SpongeBob for about an hour. And my ability to be able to sit on the floor for that amount of time, I shifted, I moved. You can't really just sit. You got different postures you have to do because your body is just naturally going to tell you to do that, which is actually part of the value. In there, you had actually like, I think, six different ways of sitting that you want to shift between. And I think actually, in my opinion, a lot of those just naturally happen. But can you talk about sitting and having a floor sitting and having a floor sitting practice?
[00:39:52.130] – Tony
Yeah, we've been a ground living floor sitting family for, I think, since lower. And really they're our eldest, so they're 13 and twelve to about 10 13 and ten. It's about around about nine years, I guess now eight or nine years. I used to have a Pilates studio and big practice, like six practitioners and people would rock up at the studio, they take their compromising, narrow toe box compliance shoes off, put them in the rack, and they would have no doubt been driving to the plate. Studio sitting would then come in and jump on the Reformers and the Cadillacs and try and dismantle all the harm that was being caused, the symptom relief from the environment, the cause, which was the footwear in the chair, because they've been sitting for ten odd hours. So I had this kind of eureka moments would pop off. It's like, wow, okay, this is like so what does that look like? Again, it came really through the barefoot running and understanding that, well, there's a natural running posture. Where do we see that? With indigenous cultures against natural running posture. It can be seen there. And again, these incredible tribes, running tribes are running the same.
[00:41:06.460] – Tony
They all look the same when they're running and have the same posture. What's different? Again, there's no footwear and there's no chair involved. That's how they've managed to maintain the same posture. What are the sitting postures look like? But it works out. You can strip it back. And you may see this as you've alluded to with kids. You see them sitting on the ground, you'll see them transition from one shape to another. And those rest positions that are in the book, there are six different series, a series of each. So there's a squatting series, a side sitting series, a long sitting series, and so on a kneeling series, each one of those rest positions is like a prerequisite or will complement the way we stand. Because that's ultimately what we used as a baby to toddler, to young adults to stand up. Right. And then what happened is at some stage a chair was pushed underneath us and then we start to sit in a chair for longer periods of time in a classroom environment with a hierarchical system, with a teacher at the front. And we're told to sit still and be quiet. And we may have had an hour then to go out and play.
[00:42:12.410] – Tony
And then that hour became lunch break and then play became PE physical education, which then involves stretching and doing all the stuff. But before the chair kid, you don't see any children, any toddlers stretching. They're just incredibly fluid and this ability to move on the ground. And what we've noticed through ground sitting and being a floor sitting families is our kids. That's how they've remained. We unschooled as well. There's no school in that conversation. So the only time we're sitting, it's unavoidable. It could be in a car or a plane or train or occasional cinema, but other than that, it's ground sitting. And their postures are incredible, right? Their framework is incredible. Their athleticism has remained incredible. They haven't had to relearn how to once they stand up from a chair. So again, I think it's understanding that there's beneath our upright, wild, empowered posture, there are these sitting postures and those sitting postures help nourish, that upright posture.
[00:43:17.710] – Allan
I love that concept of a sitting family and the reasons I think back to how much money I have spent on couches and chairs over the course of my life.
[00:43:32.870] – Tony
We use bolsters and stuff like that because you still want to create like a dining expense. Our dining room table is a low table and we have ground sitting, like little bowls, like yoga cushions and stuff like that on the ground. People come, they still have some experience as a dining experience that's not going to work for everyone. So my advice is always that look at the everyday environment. Can I spend less time on the couch? Can I set a timer and maybe kneel or squat? And you do get signals, and for some at the beginning it will be uncomfortable, but it's playing with the edges of that discomfort. Until some of those postures become a little more comfortable, they won't become so comfortable that you'll spend ten and a half hours like you could in a chair. Because nature's way is you'll get signals to tell you to move. And the beauty of that is there's a chemical metabolic cost for movement taking your everyday work. If you work from home, put your laptop down like, I'm on this call, I'm on the ground, I've been side sitting and I've been sitting crosslegged, I've been kneeling and I've been squatting already, all on a call.
[00:44:39.840] – Tony
And we're like 40 minutes in. I just have, whilst having a conversation, 40 minutes of mobility and strength work that ultimately is going to help me remain mobile in my hips and strong in my core, keep my head and chest upright, which then has an overlap in the way that I stand, I walk and I run as a 47 year old endurance athlete. Is that important? 100%. And we're all endurance athletes. That's the point. Underneath it, we are. Right? That's where we're at. And unfortunately, some of the habits within habitats aren't enabling that. And if you want to become more efficient, minimize the risk of injury, then get on the ground and just get back into understanding how those behaviors are on the ground and how that will then feed into how your posture will thrive. And there's a guy yehudi in my book, I mentioned to him, he's like 82 now. And he first came wanting to learn how to walk. And he had this stooped posture from working and collapsed in the chest and stiff in the hips and stiffing the ankles, and over time went through toga rewilding feet, rewilding footwear, vivo, barefoot, got him on the ground, ground sitting.
[00:46:00.170] – Tony
And then later on in time, the reason it turned out he wanted to learn how to walk because he wanted to climb Everest to base camp, everest base camp with his wife for his 50th anniversary. But his commute now looks like this. He walks to the tube in barefoot footwear. The tube is our underground train. He then gets on the underground and mostly people will go, do you want to seat? Because he's like 80. But no, I'm okay. And so here he hang off the bars above, so it hang on to the rails above while the train is moving. So he gets grip strength in, he opens his chest up, enables his whole respiratory system by enabling that upper posture through hanging. And then when the train stops or even squats whilst people get on, when the train goes again, the doors closed, he surf. So he's now balancing whilst not holding on to anything and surfing the train. And that just again, it proves that it's never too late, even Allan, because sometimes we look at this, we are past that. I'm never going to be able to sit back on the ground again.
[00:47:03.560] – Tony
Here we are, a dude in his 80s. That's what he's doing. And that's his practice. And he also works from home and he has a standing desk. And he also has a sitting desk. But he also has a lot of his practice on the ground that will help dismantle and deconstruct some of the poor qualities that come from sitting in a chair. But also enhance the way that he stands at his standing desk and will improve the posture of which he chooses to stand. Because standing tap desks get a lot of praise. But if I'm not posturally aware and I still have inefficiencies in movement within the ankle and the hip and I'm not flexible or upright in the mid back, which comes through sitting in a chair, then that's just as detrimental to stand with poor posture as it is sitting with it.
[00:47:50.510] – Allan
Now, one of the other areas of movement that I want to get into because I think this is another area where we kind of move from child to adult and we start casting away the things that we did. That was that quote. When I was a child, I played as a child and play as adults. Okay, I play tennis or maybe play basketball. But as you got in the book, I started thinking because you said this, it's like those sports that we play, they're usually unilateral or they're front and back or there's some aspect to them, where it's repetitive movement that we're doing. And while it's movement, which is great, I'm never going to poopoo movement at all. It's not really building us to be a better human. Can you talk about how we should play, how play would be if we got out of our zoo?
[00:48:46.090] – Tony
Yes, very specialized, the way that we observe those sports. Right. They're very specialist. And underneath it all, we're all generalist movers. So again, in the book I've put a study by Peter Gray. He wrote a fantastic book, Free to Learn, and we're an unschooling family. So it's around homeschooling and unschooling. But within it, again, three independent tribes, three different geographic locations. And he asked ten leading anthropologists, what does childhood look like in nature? And firstly, their responses. They're the most well adjusted, well rounded individuals they've ever met, which we refer our colonial minds like savages or whatever, comes to the most well rounded, well adjusted. And that's not from a lens of cultural appropriation. It's cultural appreciation. It's like, wow, okay, what's different? And children are playing from infancy through to their teenage years and they are left to play without adult intervention, without the adult supervision. So it's from infancy through to teenage years, all different ages, playing and mixing together. And they play at being everything. So they've played being the plants, the rocks, the animals. They've played at being the adults. Foraging, hunting, tracking, fire, building shelter, building. It's all in there.
[00:50:10.340] – Tony
So that the idea is that they walk into adulthood and still what would be a playful state of mind? And in adulthood we could then question, well, are those tribes that we're talking about operating with a playful state of mind? And when asking Bruce Perry, who I interview, and he's again mentioned in the book and from what said is that this Pen and tribe that he spent some time with in the Benjelli tribes is that these tribes are moving through a landscape in this meditative state, in a real parasympathetic state. What we call like flow state, they're in it. And flow state I refer to is just being placed. It's just an extension of that. And then the ability to move your physicality in that environment. Because if you're playing at being everything, you are, everything, you'll be the animals within that environment. We have this amazing ability to impersonate any animal, yet we have difficulty even moving with our own locomotive patterns. And there is this understanding how does it compare through childhood to what it would look like in nature? And so again, we enter a school system where we're very playful and we have play as the background within that, where we're moving around on a playground, a playground.
[00:51:33.300] – Tony
And we're expressing, but it's still supervised by adults. And there's now fear involved with that, that children might fall off something or hurt something. So we then start to worry about perhaps being sued. So then we change even how high kids can climb and practice climbing or jumping or balancing. And these are the fundamentals, like balance, climbing, jumping, lifting, throwing, defending, running, swimming, right? They are generalist movements. And even the imagine the amazing skills of foraging where you're down on the ground and Lowgate walking and grabbing things or have to crawl under something or over something or balance up in something or climb something. That's a generalist mover. And kids have that. If you actually let your kids just thrive in an environment, you'll be amazed at their capacity to move. But yet we go into a classroom environment where that's stripped back and we're told to sit. We then get into a PE physical education that's very specialist. And the specialist lens means that it doesn't often suit every child. We also have the age, massive age differences. So the eldest in the year versus the youngest in the year, who's going to be picked, who's going to be strongest and who's going to come away feeling inadequate.
[00:52:55.050] – Tony
The youngest kids, the bigger kids, are much stronger. They're taller. They're picked by whoever's in charge of that class. Then we have things like footwear. Again, like the basketball studies, like basketball footwear. Think of the forces that are involved in basketball. It's very playful, basketball. It's a really great practice. It would become even greater if we looked at foot function because those basketball boots we're talking about getting incredibly narrow in the toe box. The performance and behavior of the feet is compromised. That means the knee has to be the lower back. So if we then brought in that Professor Chris Dort study and said, well, what if we didn't put compromising footwear on those children to begin with and they maintained 60% of that foot strength and their balance, what potential would be there? Or we could say, what potential has been lost by wearing compromising footwear over time and then putting specialist sports through these young bodies that are, again, as you suggest, right, it's in the book. It's this understanding that they're very linear, those practices, like pushing, pulling one plane. Whereas actually, when you look at play, it's multi direction. And there's something else phenomenal that I observe through it and observing my kids.
[00:54:20.070] – Tony
It's through that tribal experience of the kids are being everything. It means that you can step outside your experience. So even if you get stuck, we get stuck, right? People get stuck in depression or could be mental health, for instance. But if you don't lose your playful state of mind, you can imagine yourself in a different position. You can play out being something else. So whereas in nature it might be I don't know, whatever we're playing out in a natural experience versus what we might be playing out in the human zoo might be Harry Potter, Dobby or all these characters. At least there's an opportunity to imagine yourself outside of that. So there's other things that empathy, compassion, that can be delivered through that. I had a big workshop it was with a yoga community and it's called Yoga Connects and I was asked to take a class at the festival and there's a large number of yogis came in and I said firstly we're going to just roll your maps up. Put them away. Take your footwear off and we will just come into the space and we walk around the space and meander around the space.
[00:55:29.550] – Tony
I said, Well, I'm not going to teach you yoga, I'm not a yogi, but I'm going to teach you something about connection and it's going to come through play. And all of a sudden I had these yogis in the room brushing shoulders and then bouncing off one another. Next body part, next body part. Then mirroring one other's movements, then dancing head to head, looking into one another's eyes and then mimicking each other as if they're working in a mirror. And suddenly what can become even in yoga, which is the same planes on one map, performing the same movements over and over religiously, suddenly the expression changed. This amazing vocabulary of movement started to unravel in a very short window of time. Because it's like Play hydration we call it, you can suddenly start to reconnect to something we've become quite divorced from.
[00:56:15.710] – Allan
Tony, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
[00:56:26.570] – Tony
So that trifecta for me is breath work. Looking at different modalities of breath that helped me change my state, my state of mind, my being, my very being. And that might be from nasal breathing to tempos of breath. Simple practice on the hour, every hour could be simply 4 seconds up through the nose, 6 seconds out. I call it a rebooting breath so that the day doesn't get away or the experience doesn't get away with me. I can stay in check and I can keep bringing it back to the breath. It's incredible powerful. It drops us into a more restful state and just enables us to stay more present and be present in the moment. The other one of course, is nature immersion. The study suggests just 20 minutes in a natural setting. It could even be the park really. But the more natural or more biodiverse, the better the emotional state would be. I would suggest just 20 minutes is enough to lower heart rate, blood pressure, and the more diverse, like forest, you start to get things like phytincides, which are the compounds that plants like terpenes are almost like aromatherapy that's given off by plants and they're antifungal and antibacterial.
[00:57:41.580] – Tony
And when we inhale that, our body starts to produce natural killer cells which help them fight things like viruses and even tumors, right? So we have lower in heart rate, blood pressure and amazing kind of ability to improve our immune system just by being in nature. So that's breath work. I would say nature immersion and then movement. Just finding those opportunities become more of an opportunist. Go back into that playful state of mind of how you might move, get out of the chair, get onto the ground, start moving around. Think of that as a mobility practice. If you work from home, you have an amazing opportunity to move more within that environment. Just we're so conditioned to think we have to sit and do the work. And that might also mean on the commute, can I run down the stairs instead of getting the lift? Or the escalator? Can I balance on curbstones or something? Just think of that. And along with nature immersion, we could say that nature immersion also involves cold immersion, like cold water therapy and getting into cold water. And that also has an ability to completely change our section altered State of Mind.
[00:58:45.360] – Tony
In two minutes, you're done. And you can literally maybe not be like the person getting in the water, but you'll be in love with the person getting out. It can really change things in a very short window of time. So they are my three, really. I call it Tony's trifecta.
[00:59:00.650] – Allan
Tony's trifecta. Love that.
[00:59:07.170] – Allan
All right, well, Tony, if someone wanted to get in touch with you or learn more about the book, Be More Human, where would you like for them to go?
[00:59:17.910] – Tony
You can hit my website, which is www.tonyriddle.com. I'm also known on Instagram as @thenaturallifestylist, and there's lots on there. So in the link bio there, you'll be able to find links to my book, up and coming workshops, upcoming retreats and experiences. I have a big retreat going in, in end of August, which is a rewilding retreat. So it's on an incredible estate. It's an opportunity to not just rewild movement, but also be involved in the landscape there and have that experience so that Tony Trifecta is in full there. It's a great place for that. And also have a look out for the 100 Human Experience, which is a weekend events that I hold with 100 people. We have 100 people come and there's breath work, movement, cold immersion, ice baths, ecstatic dance, cacao ceremony. It's like a really just an incredible experience. So all of that can be found, really, either on the website or on my Instagram account. They're good places to head, really. There's a number of tutorials there. And if you're interested in the barefoot stuff, there's a documentary. We just wrote one best documentary for the British Independent Film Festival.
[01:00:34.150] – Tony
It's called One Man 2 Feet Three Peaks. And that's up on YouTube. There's some great stuff there. That's a record that I broke running the three biggest peaks, highest peaks in the UK. And normally the idea is you drive between them. I decided to run the whole distance and I covered the mountains barefoot as well. So it was breaking a men's running record, but also breaking it being barefoot, which is quite something.
[01:01:01.710] – Allan
It is. Thank you, Tony. I'll make sure to have those links on the show notes for this episode. Tony, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
[01:01:17.350] – Allan
Welcome back, Ras.
[01:01:19.090] – Rachel
Hey, Allan. That was a really interesting interview, and I really like the term rewilding. Yes. I'm not so sure. I'm a big fan of his wild human or zoo human.
[01:01:34.130] – Allan
I like that. I actually think that is well, because we don't want our kids to get dirty. They stick their hands in the dirt and we want to wipe it off. We don't want to get dirty. A lot of us don't. We want clean. We want sanitary. We're concerned about all this stuff. Hand sanitizer, avoiding everything concrete, this, rubber that, gloves, masks, all of it. We do so much to separate ourselves from our environment. Sunglasses. Something as simple as sunglasses is separating you from the sun. And so, yeah, I get it. If you're walking on Pensacola Beach, it's so bright white with the sun.
[01:02:32.430] – Allan
You can be blind for 20 minutes until your eyes adjust. I get it. But we do so much to separate ourselves from our environment, and that's frankly unnatural.
[01:02:45.330] – Rachel
Well, that's why I like the term we re wilding so that we do take an extra step into nature, which I love. I'm always outside running on the trails and checking out what is all out there. But the other part of the conversation was, you've said this in the past, too. We look at our ancestors, hunter gatherers. They were active. They weren't lounging on sofas and lazy boys like we are today. But also, you brought in the child aspect of it, looking at what our children are doing. They're just running around playing without even thinking about whether their watch just saying they're productive or not. They're just out there enjoying what they're doing.
[01:03:25.790] – Allan
Right. And the whole time we were on the conversation, tony was basically sitting on the floor. He had a lower desk, and so I could tell he was sitting on the floor. He was kneeling. He would move his leg. He would shift side to side as he was talking. You can't tell that's happening when you're listening to it. But the whole time he was sitting on the floor. And as a result of our interview, which I think ran almost an hour, he was moving, and that's positive movement. But all that said, we don't get down enough. We don't get up, and we don't get down. We're in chairs, we're in couches. We spend our office hours in a desk. We might be lucky enough to have an adjustable desk or something like that where we can at least stand part of the day. And that's better is good. It doesn't have to be perfect.
[01:04:24.510] – Rachel
Yeah, but it was interesting. I didn't even think about having a sitting on the floor type desk, like you just said, he was doing in his interview. We don't get down on the floor very often unless we drop something and have to kneel down to find it.
[01:04:46.270] – Allan
You have the people that joke about, well, I don't get on the floor anymore unless I have a plan on how to get up.
[01:04:52.810] – Rachel
Right? Yeah, it's so true.
[01:04:55.230] – Allan
And we can joke about it, but the reality is that's functional movement and let's say you wanted to go camping. Well, what are you doing? You're squatting, you're getting down. You're starting a fire, because you can't start a fire standing up. You're getting in and out of your tent, which, unless you are kind of really doing something special, you don't walk into your tent. You get on your hands and knees and you crawl. You're not sleeping on a pillow top bed. You now have, at best, a blow up, but a lot of times not the best you could do is make sure you don't have a rock or a root under your lower back to the right spot to lay. And then you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. You're crawling back out of the tent and walking around. And so it's just these things that we say, okay, I would love to be able to do this, I'd love to be able to do that. I want to be able to carry my own kayak. I want to be able to go camping and enjoy myself. There's movement patterns that you're going to be doing that you should make a part of your regular life.
[01:05:59.780] – Allan
So when you're camping, this is not an unusual thing. This is a part of your lifestyle. It's the way you intended to live when you go camping, when you do these other things. Yeah, if you're on the floor and you're sitting for an extended period of time doing something, it could even be watching a television show, you're sitting there and your watch is not going to tell you, oh, you move this many squirms in that many ways, and your watch isn't going to do that. There's no metric for it other than you notice that it just gets more natural. It feels better. There's not these grunts and groans or pains or aches. You're building mobility from the very fact that you're on the floor and your body is forcing you to squirm around because you can't just sit. You're going to want to move your leg to the side. You're going to want to shift the other leg. You're going to move from one butt cheek to the other butt cheek. And then maybe you want to go ahead and get up into a kneeling position. And while you're in the kneeling position, instead of both knees on the ground, you want one knee on the ground.
[01:07:07.920] – Allan
And then you're just moving around through these ranges of motion. And that's one of the things he has in the book, is he literally has those laid out of. Okay, this is a set. This is a set. This is a set. And so you can say, I'm going to spend some time in a kneeling position, I'm going to spend some time in a sitting position. I'm going to spend some time in a squatting position. Because if you get your mobility right, the squat, as he mentioned, is a rest position. I know that sounds really weird, but without having your butt sitting on something other than maybe your heels, that should be a resting position. But we've kind of beat that out of ourselves with decades of sitting. We're not able to do that. You can look at videos and see if you've ever been to particularly Asia, but mostly across Asia and somewhat in Africa. I've seen this where literally, yeah, they squat down almost, butt to grass. And that's a resting position. They're just sitting there now. They're also most of the time when I see them doing that, they're smoking.
[01:08:14.490] – Rachel
[01:08:15.720] – Allan
But which we'll talk about in a few weeks with Dr. Romero. But that's the whole point though. That's their resting position. So instead of just standing around or sitting in a chair, they just plop down and they're in a very comfortable rest position because the joints are now all the pressures off the muscles and the joints. You're just in a natural lay there, sit there position.
[01:08:38.250] – Rachel
[01:08:38.700] – Allan
Yeah. There's a lot of little things we can do, and this book has some really good guidelines of how you can get started rewilding yourself. But to me, it's really just about finding function. It's about getting back to what, you know should be your natural approach.
[01:08:56.310] – Rachel
That sounds great. Interesting conversation.
[01:09:00.270] – Allan
I was pleasantly surprised with the book and with Tony because knowing some of his friends, I was expecting a totally different book from the be more human aspect of that. But no, it was a great book. And if you're concerned about mobility, flexibility, strength, all those functional fitness things we talk about right now, this is one of the best books you can buy to become more functionally fit.
[01:09:26.280] – Rachel
That sounds great.
[01:09:27.610] – Allan
Alright, well, Rachel, I'll talk to you next week.
[01:09:30.170] – Rachel
Great, thanks. Take care.
[01:09:31.930] – Allan
Okay, you too. Bye.
[01:09:33.410] – Rachel
The following listeners have sponsored this show by pledging on our Patreon Page:
|– Anne Lynch||– Eric More||– Leigh Tanner|
|– Deb Scarlett||– Ken McQuade||– Margaret Bakalian|
|– Debbie Ralston||– John Dachauer||– Melissa Ball|
|– Eliza Lamb||– Judy Murphy||– Tim Alexander|
On episode 544 of 40+ Fitness Podcast, Katie Gerber, co-author of Adventure Ready: A Hiker’s Guide to Planning, Training, and Resiliency, helps us prepare, train, and enjoy even the longest hikes.
[00:03:00.010] – Allan
Hey, Ras, how are things?
[00:03:01.640] – Rachel
Good, Allan. How are you today?
[00:03:03.540] – Allan
I'm doing okay. Yeah? Doing all right.
[00:03:06.420] – Rachel
[00:03:08.110] – Allan
Well, that's good. Good to hear.
[00:03:10.470] – Allan
Well, we're into the low season, and so what happens is we have all this blank time at Lula's, so you're looking at just day after day after day of no people here. Now, that could sound great to somebody, but it's revenue. We got to pay the bills. We still have employees. We still have electricity. We still have things we got to do. And so there was nobody, like, no bookings at all. I was really only on one listing agent out there besides ourselves. So you can come directly to our website to book. But we're then connected into we were connected into one other, what they call Ota, which is just someone who sells your rooms for a commission, and we run one, and they dried up, so we weren't getting any up from them either. And so I've been working since we opened to try to get on these other places, and they just weren't happening. And I was like, I just don't understand. I do what I'm told to do, and then nothing happens. And so I managed over the course of the last three weeks to get on two of the other ones.
[00:04:22.150] – Rachel
[00:04:23.410] – Allan
And that's helped. A lot of bookings are coming in through those two other sources, one in particular, and then there's one other source that I wanted to be on. And when I first tried to start doing this, like I said, this was back November. I'm trying to get on this one, and we had already had it was already an account, and so I was just trying to access the account, and things were a little backwards for them because to ask for help, you have to log in. Well, I didn't have the login criteria.
[00:04:52.350] – Rachel
[00:04:53.200] – Allan
I couldn't log in. Okay. And because I couldn't log in, I couldn't get to their extranet to ask for help, and there's no external email or anything to contact them at all. There's no way to reset the password. There's no way to do anything else on that site, and so you're just completely locked out. So I created a new site. I'm like, I created a new website, another one, like a whole new start all over. So there won't be any reviews on that and all that. And that's fine. We'll work that out. But I go to set it up, and they're like, we want to confirm your address.
[00:05:27.920] – Allan
So they want to mail me something. Well, we don't get mail here. You can't physically mail something to me. You can mail it to a US. Address, but that's not going to confirm that I'm at a physical address. So then they want to do it online, and I've been going back and forth. They're like, Are you on airbnb? Send your listing stuff, and we'll confirm you. I sent it, and I got nothing. And then they sent again, and they say, Okay, well, we can get on a zoom call with you. I'm like, Cool. So I go to book the zoom call, and then it comes back with this, okay, your appointment is set. It's going to be on Google Meet, but there's no link to the Google Meet. I email the woman, I'm like, I didn't get a link. I didn't get a code or nothing. And we're supposed to be on the call. It didn't happen. And so I booked another one right after it on the same thing. And again, it never sends me a link to the meeting, and she's not responding to emails. So I've been working on this for months, months and months and months, seven months going on now.
[00:06:27.560] – Allan
And just this one place I can't I'm not going to say their name out loud, but one of them that I was trying to get on because it's one of the bigger ones, they're not equipped to help.
[00:06:39.490] – Rachel
That is so bizarre. Crazy thing.
[00:06:43.550] – Allan
So that's my morning frustration supposing to have someone get on a Google call with me so I can confirm that we are who we say we are, where we are. And yes, that fell through. And still she's not responding to my emails. And I'm like, I don't understand.
[00:07:01.810] – Rachel
No. Terrible customer service.
[00:07:04.380] – Allan
It is, but we are on those other bookings, and so if you're looking for a vacation spot, come on down to Bocas Del Toro. We've got rooms.
[00:07:14.590] – Rachel
Awesome. Yeah, that sounds great.
[00:07:18.100] – Allan
So how are things up there?
[00:07:21.190] – Rachel
100% things are great. I've had a really rough spring with allergies just to pick up mano, and I haven't been running for about a month because of the mano and the fatigue, but now I feel I'm back to normal out there walking the trails and enjoying some time outside. So I'm feeling really good outside doesn't want to kill me right now.
[00:07:41.290] – Allan
Outside, doesn't want to kill me right now.
[00:07:43.780] – Rachel
Not now, anyway.
[00:07:45.910] – Allan
[00:07:46.660] – Rachel
[00:07:47.890] – Allan
I guess that's just one of the odd things I really have never suffered with allergies. And I lived in Austin, and I'll tell you, you moved to Austin, and you may not have these problems before you moved to Austin, but almost everybody who lives in Austin develops allergies.
[00:08:05.860] – Rachel
[00:08:06.380] – Allan
Fortunate. I never did, but I was only there for about three years, so maybe I just missed it, but yeah, unfortunate. And then here in the jungle, nothing.
[00:08:17.500] – Rachel
That's awesome. That's really good. I didn't have these problems in Florida. When I lived in Florida, it was not nearly this bad, but the trees on my property here, I'm pretty much allergic to most of them. It's just my poor planning on taking notice of the wildlife in my area.
[00:08:36.670] – Allan
Okay, well, I hope that things are good and that things are not trying to kill you and you can get back out to your running.
[00:08:42.920] – Rachel
[00:08:44.770] – Allan
All right, are you ready to talk to Katie?
[00:08:47.300] – Rachel
[00:08:48.210] – Allan
[00:09:30.910] – Allan
Katie, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
[00:09:33.850] – Katie
Hi, thanks for having me.
[00:09:35.630] – Allan
Now, your book is called Adventure Ready: A Hiker's Guide to Planning, Training, and Resiliency. And I have clients that hike and love hiking. I actually have one. He does a lot of day hiking, and then I just got a client and his aspiration is to do Appalachian Trail. He'll be 65, so he said he's going to break that into sections. And so I think when people think of hiking, because I know, like, here on the island or on the different islands they'll put together hikes, there's a hiking group. I'm a member, although they tend to plan a hike, like, they'll email today for a hike they're going to do tomorrow. And I'm like, I didn't have time to plan. I didn't have time to schedule. And no, I can't make that one. So a lot of them work that way. But these are hikes through the jungle, and they're usually a few hours, like half day things. But hiking is really kind of this diverse sport, if you will. I mean, similar to running where you could just do a 5K or you can do a marathon or you can do an ultra marathon or even take it further, some 100 miles multiple days in a row.
[00:10:50.410] – Allan
Can you talk about hiking and kind of some of those variables that maybe we haven't heard about so we can get an idea of where we're going with this?
[00:10:59.290] – Katie
Sure, yeah, that was a great analogy with running. Like, there are many ways to engage with hiking and backpacking and this whole world of through hiking, which is something that my book speaks to. And so with day hiking, that's what you're talking about. Like, you have that local group that does a lot of day hikes. So that's essentially just anytime you're getting out for the day, not sleeping out overnight, it could be a couple of miles, or for some people, it could be like a 30 miles day. It could be a day hike. It's a big day hike, but it could be a day hike. And then there are these long trails that usually referring to there's a debate about what a long trail is, but it was like the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail, anything that's usually like 100 or so miles or more, anywhere up to a couple of thousand. The Continental Divide Trail is 2800 miles, and there are different ways to hike that type of trail, to backpack that trail. Essentially, you could do it in sections. So some people will hike like a couple of sections each year and eventually what we call a thru-hike, which is to hike the entire trail.
[00:12:05.900] – Katie
They will thru-hike it over maybe a decade or something by adding up sections. Or there's some people who like to go out and to hike the entire thing in one season. So maybe they start like the Appalachian Trail, for instance, that you're talking about your client. Maybe they'll start in late April in Georgia, one of the terminus, the southern terminus, the Appalachian Trail, and hike all the way north up to Maine, the northern terminus, in one season. So that's 2200 miles. So yeah, there's a lot of different ways to engage in hiking and backpacking kind of depending on your life and how deep you want to go.
[00:12:39.880] – Allan
Yeah. And if you're doing over 2000 miles and you go the wrong direction, even a step, that's no problem,
[00:12:47.090] – Katie
you don't want to do it.
[00:12:51.650] – Allan
You had some great stories in the book about exactly that, especially when you're talking about the Orientating and back before GPS were really popular and you're looking at a map and you say, well, that's that ridge and you start walking that direction only to find that no, the next ridge that you were looking for isn't there. So you got to turn around and go back to where you were.
[00:13:10.390] – Katie
Yeah, it's the worst. It's the worst feeling. Exactly. Especially when you're on like a 2000 miles hike, even missing a trail junction by a mile and having to backtrack you're just like, no. Yeah, that's why learning the navigational skill set can be really helpful.
[00:13:25.220] – Allan
And you do really good job. I was in the military and had do a good bit of that myself before the days of GPS, the compass and the map of your friends if you learn and practice and I think that was one of the key things you talk about in the book is this is a skill that requires practice. You help us with that. Now, one of the things you put in there and I love it because I live on an island in the Caribbean and so people bring things here and they leave them. The locals are kind of the worst, but people will go out and they will make a trail less likable, less fun. And we actually, because some of the stuff is private property, we've had owners just say, no, you can't come on my property anymore because of this. But you talk about the seven principles of Leave no trace. Can you go through those? Because I think it's really important when we're doing these things to make sure that we're doing them responsibly. So just to give people food for thought, if they're going to get out of nature, which is what you need to do, you should be out in nature. What's the protocols or etiquette we need to follow?
[00:14:30.030] – Katie
Absolutely. Yeah. And I appreciate that you're bringing this up? Because I think any of us who are going to spend time in the outdoors should be aware of these principles because we just want to leave as little impact as possible out there so everyone can continue to enjoy it. Essentially, there are these seven leave no trace principles that we talk about in the book, and obviously we didn't develop these, where there's a center called leave no trace center for outdoor ethics. Essentially, these principles are designed to minimize our impact on the outdoors, help us be good stewards of the land that we're walking through. And so these principles are designed mostly for backcountry use, but they can be used anywhere, like you said, in a local park or on your trails, out behind your house or anything like that. Sure, I'll briefly go through them, and we can talk a little bit about each of them. So the first one is to plan ahead and prepare. So by planning ahead, essentially, like individuals who are going out or groups that are going out can be better set up to stay safe and then to practice these leaving a trace principles.
[00:15:28.950] – Katie
So, for example, if an inexperienced user goes out into that country, maybe in the sierras, and they don't know that there's a fire ban there, because in the southwest, where I live in Colorado and then west of me, we have very severe wildfire problems in the summer. So if someone doesn't know there's a fire ban and they only brought food that can be cooked over a campfire, then they're almost like forced to start a campfire where they shouldn't be starting one. Or maybe if someone doesn't plan a trip properly and they don't know what the trail is going to be like, and it's more rigorous than they expect, and they have to camp in a place that's ideal, then they could be damaging some of the fragile surfaces, for example. So that's why planning ahead and preparing as the first step is so that you can be a better practitioner of these leaf and trace principles. So travel and camp on durable surfaces is the second one. So durable surfaces would be anything like sand, rock, ice, snow, anything that can withstand impact. Some vegetation can, some can't. And examples of nondurable surfaces would be like cryptobiotic soil, which is a type of living soil in the desert that prevents erosion.
[00:16:39.110] – Katie
Delicate alpine tundra would be another one, like wet meadows where you trample the grass and it doesn't bounce back easily. So just knowing, like, what are durable surfaces, what aren't durable surfaces, traveling on trail where you can and if you're traveling in a group, knowing how to minimize your impact on those non durable surfaces, essentially knowing where you can camp where you're not going to cause further impact and just how to go about that. And then the third one is disposable waste properly. That refers to, of course, packing out your trash. A lot of people may have heard the phrase pack it in, pack it out but it also refers to human waste which in many cases like in a river quarter should also be packed out or if you're like in a fragile alpine environment it should also be packed out or if you're going to barrier waste like which digging a cathole is sort of the way that the accepted practice to go about that to know that you have to take it deep enough 200ft from water, away from high use areas, away from game trails and places that animals are going to use regularly and then packing out your teepee in some places where it's like moist and hot and it's going to break down, that's fine, it'll probably degrade but in a lot of places especially again where I live where it's dry or if you're in the alpine and it's just not going to break down because there's not enough heat and there's not enough moisture, just pack it out and knowing the best practices around that and one other part of that whole topic of it's not really disposing of waste but it kind of goes under.
[00:18:10.720] – Katie
This is like not putting soap into the waterways. A lot of people like oh well it's a biodegradable soap, I can use it in the waterway but we don't want to do that as well. So it's part of that leave no trace ethic. The fourth one is leave what you find which is pretty straightforward. It's like any we go out there because we all want to see these beautiful flowers or beautiful we find beautiful rocks or like when I was in Utah guiding last month we were finding artifacts like old arrowheads and things like that and it's so tempting for people like oh I want to take this home and I want to show it to people, it's so cool. But part of leave no choice ethics is just leave what you find. Other people want to enjoy it as well. And then another part of that is to avoid landscaping an area with like fire rings or log chairs or things like that avoiding like moving things around too much in an area or if you do naturalizing it again before you leave the area. Minimizing campfire impacts is principle number five. Again I mentioned fire ban so knowing when and where fire bands are in effect if you are allowed to build a fire in an area knowing whether it's going to cause potential damage to that country there looking around knowing is there sufficient firewood that I'm not going to further impact the area.
[00:19:26.600] – Katie
Like will removal of this firewood be noticed? I mean understanding how to minimize the impact if you do build a fire, like if you build a fire ring you should build it in a ring if the one exists you should dismantle the ring if it doesn't exist and there are other methods to building campfires that you can minimize your impact. Respecting wildlife is principle number six. So that's just like keeping your distance, not being too intrusive. I think we've all seen those national park photos where people are having their cameras and they're right up in the moose's face or, like, way too close to the bison or the bears, and it's obviously stressing the animal out. And so it's like, we want to avoid that. We don't even want them to know of our presence unless we're trying to just sort of gently spook them away so that we can pass through a trail. But it also means not camping too close to a water source where we might be scaring the animal away from coming to the water source, not camping right on top of a game trail where we might interrupt their travel to and from where they're trying to go.
[00:20:28.920] – Katie
So, yeah, just generally being respectful of the wildlife. We're in their home, so we want to be respectful. We would being a house guest in someone else's home, and then the 7th one is being considered by other visitors. We're all trying to be out there enjoying nature. And so I think just being cognizant of what you're doing, like using your headphones instead of playing music loudly through a speaker, which might disrupt other people or disrupt the wildlife or keeping your dog leashed or just sharing the trail with other users, whether those are pedestrians or equestrians or bicyclists or whatever it is, just being thoughtful of other people so we can all enjoy the outdoors. And if you want to learn more, is this lnt.org is the place to go to really get all the details on that.
[00:21:16.890] – Allan
LNT for leavenotrace.org? Okay, cool. All right. Now it's the end of June, and so for most of the places that people would be either hiking or training, because that's the other side of it, is if you're going to start your hike next April to do the Appalachian Trail, for example, you're training now, so you're getting out and training. And one of the things that happens for a lot of us is we're trying to push ourselves because, again, we're carrying a pack. That pack could be over 40 lbs, maybe 50 lbs sometimes when you first start with the food and you're in the heat. So you've got to train your body to do that. We're going to talk about conditioning in a minute, but one of the things that hits a lot of us is just the heat and all those things that can happen with regards to illnesses, heat illnesses. So we're talking about heat exhaustion, heat stroke. Can you kind of talk us through what we should be looking for as far as symptoms, that the heat starting to really be a problem for us and what we should do about it?
[00:22:16.410] – Katie
Yeah, absolutely. Definitely something valuable to be aware of. So, yeah, as you were just saying, these heat illnesses can occur essentially like on a spectrum, there's a progression. So there's heat rash and heat cramping which most of us are familiar with, like from exercising outdoors and heat, those are pretty common and can be prevented and treated by consuming adequate water and salt and cooling off and resting in the shade. And then as you mentioned, there's more serious forms of that. If those aren't treated, that would progress to heat exhaustion and then to heat stroke. These also result from exercising in the heat and the humidity, not consuming enough water, salt and they can essentially cause the body temperature to rise above critical levels. So prevention is best. So if we can stay hydrated, consume electrolytes, pay attention to when we're starting to overheat and we can rest and not try to, we are pushing ourselves, but maybe try to not push ourselves beyond what is comfortable in the heat or at least just paying attention to our own body and what's going on in there. So you're asking about symptoms. So heavy sweating, muscle cramping when you start to get a headache.
[00:23:34.830] – Katie
Nausea is a big one that I've seen before. If you're starting to get nauseous, dizzy, of course fainting is a pretty obvious symptom. Pulse can change, either become really rapid or really weak. So when you're starting to see any of those changes, there should be like red flags. Like hey, it's time to slow down, find some shade, cool off immediately, whether by putting cold water on the skin, any way that you can cool down, replace some of those fluids in the body, take some electrolytes if you haven't been taking in any salt or anything like that. And then if you don't treat that, that can progress to that heat stroke which is a medical emergency. So if it progresses to that point and that's a temperature greater than 103. And some of the symptoms would be that you stop sweating, actually you start to get slurred speech and essentially there's any changes in consciousness, that's when you need medical help. And so hopefully you're carrying some sort of either a cell phone or an inreach device which is like a satellite communication device that you can get yourself help.
[00:24:36.590] – Allan
Or you're traveling with a hiking buddy. And so this is something also if you notice that your hiking buddy is getting confused, they've stopped sweating, start asking them a couple of questions that they should be able to answer and if they really start struggling with those types of things, it's time to call it quits and get that person some help. okay. So yes, we need to condition ourselves for this stuff. And you start thinking, how does one go about training for a 2000 miles plus hike? And it kind of brings me back to my marathon days and the way we would say it was you either feel the pain before you do the run or you're going to feel it after you do the run, but this you're going to feel it during because this is not just a one day thing. And the phrase you use in the book, which I like, is to hike yourself into shape. And some people can and do that, but it's going to make for a very unpleasant first few weeks. Can you talk about how someone could go about planning and conditioning program? You have some in the book.
[00:25:41.090] – Allan
I don't have to give all the way the stretching and all of this stuff. We're going to talk about that's in the book, but it just gives us an overview of how someone can look at planning their conditioning so they're ready. Like my client that wants to be able to do this in a few years, he wants to start conditioning himself for it. What should he be considering and how should he be going about this?
[00:26:02.090] – Katie
Yeah, absolutely. And like you said, it's a great idea. So you can hike yourself into shape. So some people, they're kind of different schools of thought. Some people are like, oh, you don't have to do any training ahead of time. You'll hit the trail and just walking every day, you're going to hike into shape. And it's like, yeah, that's true in some cases, but you're going to be a lot more prone to overuse injuries and just to not completing the goal that you set out to do. So of course, I and my co-author Heather, are big proponents of physically training yourself to be ready for that hike. And I think the longer out you can start, the better because that way you're not going to be tempted to ramp up too quickly. So that's one of the principles that we talk about with training, is building a training plan for yourself where you're balancing cardiovascular training, strength and mobility exercises and rest, of course, because that's an important part of a training plan, as well as giving yourself your body enough time to adapt to the stressors from exercise that you're actually strengthening building muscle and not like just wearing yourself down.
[00:27:04.100] – Katie
So, yeah, the training plans, we essentially talk about how to build your own individual training plan. And we go through some exercises in there where you can test yourself for muscle weaknesses. So that's one aspect of it is doing different tests on your own body so you can determine if you have places where you used to get injured a lot. We're going to invite you to focus extra strengthening effort in that area, whether through different exercises, whether that's through doing lunges or toe raises or calf raises or things like that. So figuring out where your personal weaknesses are and then building a plan that builds your endurance by slowly building up the miles, gradually including enough rest days in there. And we talk about a protocol for how to figure out where to start because it depends. Are you starting from the couch are you starting from someone who is already relatively in shape. So we kind of talk about how to build those miles gradually and what to start with and how to build up. And then including those strengthening exercises and those mobility exercises like I was talking about, whether that's strengthening your inner thighs or strengthening your hip muscles or things like that.
[00:28:18.040] – Katie
Any of those muscles you're going to use with backpacking. Essentially, we're just trying to get the body adapted to carrying a weight on the back over uneven surfaces, because that's different than what a lot of us are used to and what a lot of our bodies are used to. We talk about how to build those, balance out those aspects in a training plan so that your body hit the trail with your body being ready, and you're not going to have to go home early from overuse injuries. And it's so much more enjoyable when you show up in shape. I've seen both sides of it. Some people go off the couch and they just struggle a lot. And then other people focus a lot of time into that training ahead of time. And you can hit the trail doing more miles and it hurts so much less. And you can keep up with your friends if you're going in a group. So I'm definitely an advocate of training your body.
[00:29:08.800] – Allan
Yeah. One of the things I kind of liked about what you had in the book was it was also know yourself. So it's like put on a 40 pound pack and walk kind of the same grade of hills and things that you're going to be doing on there. And if you notice, okay, your core is not really stabilized well enough that you can handle a pack. You need to maybe bolster your core work. Maybe you're arching your lower back and over time that's going to fatigue. You can do some cobras and some things like that to just make sure that you're in a better condition to handle how your body is going to respond. Because I saw something and there was where I got to find this because it was so cool. It was the trail pronation, which I guess as you're carrying weight and you're moving up a trail, the way you walk, the way you move, it changes it changes the whole dynamic of your kinetic chain. And as a result, you have to look at the shoes you're wearing and be ready to change those out regularly. You also need to just train yourself to be in that different position for hours at a time.
[00:30:17.090] – Katie
Yes, absolutely. It's such a good point as a lot of people, especially sometimes, like, if people just do walking as their training or they're transitioning from running or something like that, they kind of forget about how putting a pack that's anywhere from 20 to 40 lbs on the back really changes, like your center of gravity and how you carry your body. And exactly like you're just saying, how does that affect how you move and how do you train for that?
[00:30:43.070] – Allan
And then how much you've conditioned yourself, then blends into the plan for the trail. It's like if you know you're not going to be able to do 20 miles a day for five consecutive days, then you've got to come up with a plan for one, okay, maybe it's going to take you a little longer. You probably have to carry more food so your pack might even be heavier and you're going to move slower. Yeah, but that's your plan and you have to kind of balance that out. And so knowing your conditioning and then that helps drive your plan. Knowing your plan helps drive your conditioning and it's kind of a back and forth thing.
[00:31:13.370] – Katie
Absolutely. Yeah, exactly like you said, knowing the daily mileage that you're capable of, what's comfortable for you, taking into consideration that weather might get in your way or heavier pack might slow you down, all that stuff really ties into exactly how much food you're going to need to carry when you're expected to get to point B and then point C and D resupply places along the trail. And you're also thinking about, okay, am I going to finish in time to fit inside this weather window is what we say. Because you don't want to be out there on a 2000 miles trail. It's a little different than planning for a three night or even a five night trip because you're like, oh, I'm going to go out and it's June 1 through six, no problem. I know the weather is going to stay nice, but when you're out there for months at a time, you have to be kind of thinking about, okay, am I going to be able to finish in time? Am I going at a pace that's adequate to get me to Canada before the snow starts flying and all of that. So it's another reason why being trained and like you're saying, just knowing your body and what you're capable of is very valuable.
[00:32:19.270] – Allan
Yeah, well, Heather did a fastest known time on the Appalachian Trail. I think if I did it, it would be the slowest time and I would have to go through a lot of snow, probably two years of it, to get that baby done because that's something else. Now we can talk about the physical preparation, but I know from experience that you can get yourself as physically prepared as you ever want to. You can have all your planning, you have everything mapped out, but stuff happens. This is hard stuff. You're not talking about walking an hour or 2 hours and then calling it a day. You guys are doing upwards to twelve, maybe even more hours to get the distances that you want to get so that you can keep this sustainable for you. How do you mentally prepare for something like that?
[00:33:14.750] – Katie
yes, such a great topic and one that I really love talking about with people because it's something that a lot of aspiring through hikers or long distance hikers don't think as much about. They think a lot about I've got to get the right gear and I have to practice my navigational skills and I've got to get my food ready and all that. And all those things are super important and we cover them in the book. But that mental preparation aspect, that's something I wasn't ready for on my first hike. I mean, I kind of had an idea from having read blogs and things like that, but there are some tough conditions out there. Like you said, you're not just out for an hour over the course of multiple weeks and months, you're going to encounter crappy conditions, you're going to miss your loved ones, you're going to be hungry, your body is going to hurt no matter how well trained you are. There's going to be a lot of aspects to it that you can't really prepare yourself from a fiscal perspective, but you can't prepare your mind for it. So, I mean, I share the statistic in the book, but it's estimated that 75% to 85% of aspiring through hikers on what we call the Triple Crown trails, which is the at, the Pct and the CDT actually quit before reaching their goal.
[00:34:31.770] – Katie
And when you think about that, it's interesting because backpacking is a skill set that you need to learn, but it's not particularly technical. Someone who does, who studies and goes out in practice, you can become proficient at it relatively quickly. And yeah, it's a great physical feat to accomplish, but you can adjust your pace, you can slow down and all of that. So why is it that so many people are failing to reach their goal when they're out there? And I think it's a lack of mental preparation, failing to prepare your mind for the fact that it is going to be hard because I think when a lot of people are thinking about going out on these trails, they're thinking about all of those really desirable things like the beautiful scenery and being away from their laptop or their work schedule, kind of being on their own time, the simplicity of being out there, all those things that draw us out there. But they're not necessarily thinking about the fact that they're going to have blisters on their heels that are the size of a quarter and that they're going to run through their food too quickly and be hungry or they're going to be scared at times, whether it's of animal or weather or anything like that.
[00:35:39.150] – Katie
So yeah, there's a saying that through hiking, success is 90% mental and it's mental preparation. That's why we kind of go through some different strategies in the book of how to prepare yourself mentally for a long hike. And I'm happy to dig into those if you want to get into those specific?
[00:35:53.840] – Allan
Yeah, absolutely. Now, I know I've written a book, too. Congratulations on the effort. But you also said you like to journal. You are already sitting around with a notebook every day after you finished your hike or maybe even the morning before you started your hike. So I imagine that discipline of journaling helps you with writing this book as well. So I know that was one of the big ones that was but the one that was most interesting to me was the practice voluntary hardship.
[00:36:24.050] – Katie
Yeah, it's an interesting one, I think, that you don't necessarily think of right away. But for me, that came about really when I started running when I was younger. I did cross country in junior high and high school, and I noticed that when I would so it's become skilled at anything. It's practice and it's putting in the hours. And I would notice that when I made myself go out on the rainy days or go do twice a day in the afternoon. So I grew up in Ohio, and it was hot and humid, and I would make myself go in the morning and then go again in the afternoon no matter how much I didn't want to. And it was amazing because I would get out there and I would be like, oh, this isn't like that bad. I survived this. Like, oh, I went out in the rain and I survived it. And so I think that principle of practicing voluntary hardship is like building your inner resiliency, like letting yourself, your body and your mind know, I can do this hard thing. I'm capable of it. And this hard thing isn't going to it might not be even as hard as your mind is telling you it's going to be.
[00:37:27.760] – Katie
Like with those runs, I was saying, Oh, I got out there and I was like, Oh, I got wet. Okay, that's not a big deal, I'm fine. Or just putting yourself in those situations, anything that's sort of a little bit on your edge of discomfort to just train your body and your mind into that belief and knowingness that you're capable, you can do those challenging things.
[00:37:51.230] – Allan
Yes, I had an author on it. I know his first name was Michael, but his book was called The Comfort Crisis. It was a great book on this topic. He got himself in a situation where he just got dropped off with these guys out in the tundra about as far north as you could ever go, and he spent 30 days out there. And it's kind of one of those things it taught him that in these hard things do they'll teach you this, that you guys said words like embrace the suck, or those types of things. And it's funny to say, it's not funny when you're doing it, but then after it's over and you survive, it's kind of like, well, good. I feel like I've accomplished more because I went through this hard thing and I think that's where the kind of build up of all of this is going is okay, yes, you can journal, you can meditate, you can breathe, and those are all important things just for life, everything in life. But if you make things hard on yourself here and there, it just gives you this resilience from a mental perspective that you wouldn't have otherwise.
[00:39:00.010] – Katie
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And there's like a big trend in wellness and such a trend, but science and research behind it is like cold baths and cold exposure and part of it is like yes, it does have absolutely benefits for your mitochondria inflammation, all of that. But I think part of it too is like the mental benefits. Exactly. It's like showing yourself that you can do hard things and you can get through it and that makes you more capable for other hard things in life.
[00:39:28.450] – Allan
Yeah, because I prefer the heat shock proteins of going out when it's in the high eighty s and putting up with that versus the cold any day. Maybe I need to do that. But I don't actually have anywhere I can take a bath here, so I'll have to figure out and the ocean is 70 deg, so it's not going to do it. But I agree with you there.
[00:39:51.120] – Allan
Katie. I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
[00:40:00.750] – Katie
Yes, that's a great question. So of course I'm going to say daily time outside. For me, that is probably one of the biggest, most valuable wellness practices in my own life. Even if it's just you only have time for ten minutes, 15 minutes, getting outside, ideally as close to sunrise as possible, getting that natural light into your eyes, setting your hormones, optimizing those for the day, your circadian rhythm, all of that and just the stress relief benefits of being outside. I think it's so valuable, I think having something planned each day that you look forward to or that you're excited about, whether it's a walk outside or for me, like journaling time over my coffee or my tea, whatever it is. Time with a loved one snuggling, a pet, whatever it is. Maybe it's part of a morning ritual, anything that I think feeds and nourishes you. It's such a great antidote for the busy and often like stressful lives. Many of us live in the modern life or find ourselves in, whether it's a stressful day or a season of life. Just having those things each day that we can look forward to. It's just really important having that reason to get out of bed.
[00:41:10.130] – Katie
And then that kind of leads into my third one, which is something similar we talk about in the book. It's like knowing your why, having that strong sense of purpose or vision for what you are, putting your energy towards each day, what you're putting your time towards in this season of life. Something that just keeps you going through the inevitable challenges that you're going to face in day to day life. Just having that strong sense of why and purpose.
[00:41:35.970] – Allan
Thank you for that. So the book is called Adventure Ready: A Hiker's Guide to Planning, Training and Resiliency. If someone wanted to learn more about that book or learn more about you, Katie, or your co author Heather, where would you like for me to send them?
[00:41:50.290] – Katie
Sure. The best place to go would be katiegerber.com, which is my website, and then my co author and I, Heather, are both active on Instagram, and so mine is @katiegerber and she's @wordsofthewild. So you can find either of us there. And I have more information about those online courses that are the companion to the book there. There's also a free backpacker nutrition course on there. So lots of backpacking resources on the website for anyone who is interested in doing more long distance hiking, backpacking, day hiking, any of that. So I just want to help people get started and get out there safely and confidently.
[00:42:25.680] – Allan
Great. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/544, and I'll be sure to have the links out there. Katie, thank you so much for being a part of 40 Plus Fitness.
[00:42:36.270] – Katie
Thanks so much for having me. It's a lot of fun talking to you.
[00:42:46.330] – Allan
Welcome back, Ras.
[00:42:47.890] – Rachel
Hey, Allan. What a great interview and listening to Katie talk, really just invigorated my excitement about hiking. And I've got a big hike plan this fall. We're supposed to be hiking across Isle Royal up in Lake Superior, Northern Michigan, and all the tips that she had to share with you were just fantastic. It was a great interview.
[00:43:09.260] – Allan
Yeah, it's a really good book. She and Katie and Heather, they're pros, they do this regularly, they've done it for a while and they know their things. They know their stuff. Heather having the record fastest known time for the trail, that's not something you just get showing up. You got to keep moving. You got to keep doing it. And so that's why I thought it was really important to have them on to talk about this book because a lot of people, this is an accessible thing for a lot of people now maybe not 2000, 2200 miles hike throughs, but that said, you break it into segments, you break it into pieces. Most of us are going to live within daily reaching distance to do a day trip, to go out and just do a day hike. And it's a great way to reconnect with nature. It's a great way to just get away from all the digital toxins and stuff in our lives. And don't take your phone except to have it in your pocket as a GPS if you get lost or to call for help. But this is a great opportunity for you to get out, see things that most people don't see because they don't bother to venture out.
[00:44:34.140] – Rachel
Oh, my gosh. Yeah. So many things to chat about. She had mentioned showing up in shape and being prepared, and I just wanted to highlight that going on a hike is a little different than just walking to your mailbox or walking through the grocery store or something. Sometimes these trails, like my little trail downtown that I use a lot, is asphalt paved. I can't get lost, so it's a perfect trail for me. But there's a lot of dirt trails and there's a lot of things to see out there, and it's a little bit of different type of hiking, and you need to be prepared for that. Different type of walking.
[00:45:06.590] – Allan
Yeah. And the weather and everything else. That's what in this book. That was one of the other things. They do a really good job of walking you through the planning. There's worksheets. There's all kinds of things in there for you to literally plan your hike and then go do your hike. I wanted to discuss that with her, the preparation, at least from a physical perspective and then from a mental perspective, because, yes, you can plan to use the hike as part of your training because if you do fewer miles, the beginning, and then you can build up your endurance and you can do more. And maybe if you're working really hard I know if I tried to take three months off to go do something like that, then I'm going to be working my butt off those last days, and they're going to be long days, and I'm not going to have training time during the week and maybe not even on the weekends as I'm trying to get myself ready to take that kind of time off to go do it. So, yeah, you train how you can with what you have to get yourself in the right kind of shape, because the worst thing you want to get into is that you throw that 40 pound pack on your back and you can't really even do it.
[00:46:21.230] – Allan
Your three month hike just became a three year hike because you can't do it. So you're going to want to be at some level of condition to be able to hit some mile markers. You're going to want to be able to put some miles in. So the training is important, but you will be able to somewhat train yourself to be better as you go. So you can even factor that a little bit into the plan of a gradual, I like to say gentle nudges of additional mileage as you go as long as again, and she even said this in the book, is you got to factor in your rest days. Probably Heather didn't take too many rest days when she was breaking the record, but when you're going at it, you might plan okay, we're going to be near this city there's town and I'm going to go act like a townie for a little while to eat restaurant food and sleep in a hotel bed and take showers, lots of showers. And then you can go for another sprint, but you have to factor in who you are, where you are and then do that and then the mental side of it, I was telling you before we got on the call I was going to do 9 miles Sunday and I kind of didn't feel really good about my digestive system when I have messy pants.
[00:47:38.640] – Allan
And so I thought so I stayed around town. So I was like, okay, I'm going to stay between my house and the gym. They're about a little over half a mile away. So I'm just walking down towards the gym and sort of walking right back towards the house and I do a couple of loops and I'm like, okay, I feel pretty good. And then I got about a mile out of town on an outback and so I'm somewhere around 5 miles and I noticed that my arm is chasing and it's very uncomfortable. And so now I have this do I quit or do I not scenario. And I was like, well, I have a mile to walk back and then I could put something on it. But then am I going to really want to get out and continue to do this or would I just quit? And so I was like, no, I'm just going to finish it. And this is uncomfortable, but I'm going to embrace the suck, if you will, and just keep going. And today I'm wearing a tank top. That was a tank top too, but I'm wearing a tank top with a much bigger drop in the sleeve so I'm not re scuffing it as I go.
[00:48:41.810] – Rachel
That's good. Yeah. We're preparing this trip for Isle Royal and we've been planning it for over a year. We're going to walk about 50 miles across from island end to end. And there are no showers, there's no gas stations to pick up food. So we're practicing everything that we need to have on this island right now. Actually, over the weekend, Mike and I were taste testing some different freeze dried foods, really lightweight camping foods that we'll be packing in. We're testing our equipment. We're making sure our tent can withheld some leaks if it rains. You know, there's a lot of planning that goes into that. But also while you can do some conditioning on a hike like that, it is good that you arrive at having practiced your equipment and know what it feels to wear a 30, 40, 50 pound backpack. I mean, there are certain things you can't just show up as a newbie. The first time Mike and I hiked Isle Royal with our family, gosh, I think it's going on 30 years ago. It was really neat to see this wonderful newly wed couple they had chosen Isle royal as their honeymoon vacation.
[00:49:51.320] – Rachel
And the woman had never hiked before in her life. And when we did find them at the end of the island, her feet were just blistered because she didn't practice her boots, she wasn't prepared for the backpack. I mean, they're just a myriad of problems that she had. But she gutted it out, she made it to the end, which is amazing. But my best advice, if you want a successful and happy and fun trip, is to show up fit and practice to the best of your ability.
[00:50:19.850] – Allan
And that's what the preparation is key. And that's one of the things that this book is really good about, because it asks you all the questions, like something you're going to say, like, you were just talking about food. How many calories will you be burning every day? So how many do you need to consume to maintain? And so it's not the normal, what you eat. You can say, Well, I only eat 1600 calories a day. That's when you're sitting at the computer doing your job, driving around, you're not walking 12,15, 20 miles a day or more. Because some of these hikes, they're doing eight to 10 hours of movement per day, easily. And so they're looking at their calorie requirements and say, Okay, that's easily 3000 calories. And this is for woman, it's a lot, but they need to have that amount of calories. And how much do all those calories weigh? Because if you're carrying a casserole dish, yes, it's heavy. So, yeah, the freeze dried stuff, the granola stuff like that, and then get knowing that it's something you can tolerate. Because the worst case thing is that you get out there and you eat something that doesn't agree with you, and you're not making your miles those days because you're in a bush in a squat position.
[00:51:50.000] – Rachel
Yeah, that's a problem. We have very precise transportation on both sides of the island. We get dropped off at a certain time and then we get picked up on the other side of the island in, I think, seven or eight days. So we need to be there no matter what, otherwise we're getting off the island. It's very important that you know how to practice all these things. And like she said, the mental aspect of it, if you've got blisters, you've got an upset stomach, you've got shaping, these things are very common and you need to be mentally prepared to push through it. Like in our case, when we have a very specific time, we need to meet our planes. There's a lot to it, but it's so fun.
[00:52:33.010] – Allan
Well, you do need to check out this book. I think this will help you a lot.
[00:52:36.560] – Rachel
I think it will. Thank you so much.
[00:52:38.680] – Allan
Right, well, I'll talk to you next week.
[00:52:41.470] – Rachel
[00:52:42.450] – Allan
[00:52:43.170] – Rachel
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|– Anne Lynch||– Eric More||– Leigh Tanner|
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Jim Owen (author of the book Just Move: A New Approach to Fitness After 50 is a 40-year veteran of Wall Street and is also the founder and CIO of the center for Cowboy Ethics and Leadership. He is the best-selling author of The Try, The Secret to Success in Life and Career, Cowboy values, recapturing what America once stood for, and the Prudent Investor. On his 70th birthday, he looked in the mirror and didn't like what he saw. He committed to change. And now at 82, he's in the best shape of his life. He shares many of his super-ager strategies and tactics during this interview.
[00:01:18.550] – Allan
Hey, Ras. How are things?
[00:01:20.460] – Rachel
Good, Allan. How are you today?
[00:01:22.810] – Allan
Well, we are now out of the closet, out of the bedroom, into the house. My wife Tammy got covid, so we've had her quarantined for this week. And I've been living upstairs in one of our rooms, which is not bad. It's a really nice place, but just having to take care of her, having to take care of everything else. And it's been a lot. But it's a good week.
[00:01:52.840] – Rachel
Yeah. She's feeling better?
[00:01:54.650] – Allan
She is now symptom free, so she's gotten over it.
[00:01:58.420] – Rachel
[00:01:59.320] – Allan
She had tested positive on Monday and she tested herself and then she tested positive again. She went to the hospital and tested and got a positive. So this at home test, you can get false positives sometimes she got a positive, I got a negative. And then we quarantined her. She went to the hospital the next morning and it was positive. So she finished up her fifth day yesterday, the day before yesterday, and then just out of precaution stayed another day and a half, two days. So she's just now coming out of the apartment today.
[00:02:36.110] – Rachel
Cool. That's good news. Very exciting.
[00:02:40.030] – Allan
How are things up there?
[00:02:41.570] – Rachel
Oh, great. Mike and I went camping this weekend and had a great weekend out. Our first weekend of camping. And it was a beautiful time. Nice, peaceful, relaxing. It was a good time. Nice to be out.
[00:02:55.330] – Allan
All right. Well, are you ready to have this conversation with Superager Jim?
[00:02:59.090] – Rachel
[00:03:35.350] – Allan
Hey, Jim, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
[00:03:37.820] – Jim
Thank you, Allan. I'm delighted to be here.
[00:03:40.640] – Allan
You know, you're in your 70s, mid-70s now, I guess, right? 76, maybe.
[00:03:46.380] – Jim
Allan, I will be 82.
[00:03:50.290] – Allan
Okay, we're going to play some of the video. We're going to save some little clips here and there. And so I want people to look at this because you don't look like a normal 82-year-old. Not by normal, I mean an American 82-year-old man. You look very different than most of us think we're going to look or would look when we're 82. And a lot of it is the stuff that you shared in this book.
[00:04:15.600] – Jim
And that's kind of the real story, because I'm nobody special, believe me, if I can do this, because when I was 70, very different story. That's what we're talking about, my story.
[00:04:28.710] – Allan
Okay, well, the book is called Just Move: A New Approach to Fitness after 50. And I started when I was in my mid-40s, realized that my job was killing me. My life was killing me. I was unfit, unhealthy, and just going downhill and fairly miserable. So I started making some changes. And those changes reflected who I changed into. And in many ways, it's the same for you. You came upon it, said, hey, I got to do something, and you started making some changes. Can you talk a little bit about your story?
[00:05:02.770] – Jim
Well, Allan, when I turned 70, I was in terrible shape. My back was killing me. I'm not talking about a little back pain. I'm talking about excruciating back pain. Both knees were shot and my right rotator cuff was frozen. If that weren't enough, I was probably 20 to 25 pounds overweight. But when I think about it, and I'm sure that many of your listeners had the same thing, the worst of it all was low energy. I just didn't have the energy I had when I was younger. And I said, boy, I said to my wife, I look in the mirror. I don't forget as long as I live on my 70th birthday. And Allan and I said, My God, I'm an old man. And I said to my wife, I'm an old man. She said, Sweetie, don't worry, you've still got game. She paused and then she said, unfortunately, that game is being gone. That's a true story. So that got me thinking, okay, I got to do something. Today, I'll be 82 in October. And now I'm in the best shape of my life. I couldn't do one push up on day one on my 70th birthday, I could not do one push up.
[00:06:40.490] – Jim
I can bang out 50. I don't do it every day because it's not good for your shoulder. But I can bang out 50, and I weigh less than I did today than I did in high school. And I look back and say, yeah, it's transformation. But, Allan, I think the takeaway for your audience is I'm just an average guy. So if I can do this, go from being weak and overweight and so on, anybody can do it. I'm nobody special. I'm not a Superman or any of that stuff. I think the basic message to your audience is, if you want to get more fit like you did, you want to get healthier, you can. It's never too late. Doesn't matter. Obviously, if I'd done this earlier in my life like you did, I wouldn't have had to have worked as hard. Let's be honest about it, okay. But if you're 75 years old, you still get more fit. And still now 82, and all I can say is I'm in the best shape of my life. I feel lucky. But it wasn't a gift. I had to show up and do the work. And that's the basic message to your audience.
[00:08:06.800] – Jim
You have to show up and do the work, and you have to have kind of a long term view. And maybe you can help me out. If there's a secret, if there's a pill I could have taken, there's a shortcut. I never found it, frankly. I just showed up, did the work. But anybody can do this. You don't have to kill yourself. You don't have to have a gym membership. You don't have to have a personal trainer. Not really. So that's my story.
[00:08:39.280] – Allan
Well, if there is a magic to it, and I think this is where most people struggle is, and you would have struggled with this a lot as well. You hurt, you're in pain, but you're in a bad place. And you know that there are two directions. You're kind of at a fork in the road. And as you said, it's your stark reality.
[00:08:59.140] – Jim
Absolutely. Fork in the road is a great way to look at this.
[00:09:04.510] – Allan
And now for you, it seems, because I was looking at it kind of the same way of saying I'm either going to keep dying or I'm going to start living. And that's the way I kind of looked at it. But being inactive was really, I think, one of the big problems both of us kind of faced at that point in our lives. We weren't active. What are some of the risks that we were facing when we're not moving our bodies and not doing the things we're supposed to?
[00:09:30.370] – Jim
Well, this is one of this book I wrote. I wrote this book, I guess five years ago, published by National Geographic. They've never done a book like this, but they were sort of fascinated by this whole concept. Let me just say this, Allan. I came across one statistic that I want to share with you and your audience, and this is really what got me motivated. If you make it to 70. Statistically, out of a very large sample of people, I'm not talking about ten people from Denmark. I'm talking about 100,000 people. Statistically, you will live another 15 years on average. And I said to myself, If I feel this bad now, can you imagine? In 15 years, I'll be in a wheelchair, I'll have a cane, I'll be slumped over, whatever. That was my motivation, to be honest about it. What happens if I do make this? So the reason that you and I are on this health kick I think, it has nothing to do with I need to lose 10lbs or I need this or that. It's not about living longer. Maybe this to you. It's not to me. Okay. But I want to live as happy and as full of life as I can.
[00:11:05.010] – Jim
The killer. And that's why this book is called Just J-U-S-T I'm a Southern accent. Just move. Is that one of the problems is that all of us today, or most of us sit too much. The average adult. This is not my opinion. This is, I think, Harvard or somebody, or maybe I think it's Harvard Medical School says the average American adult sits between 8 and 11 hours a day. That's between the computer, hunched over a computer, watching TV, kind of relaxing, whatever you want to call it. That's part of the problem. That's why my basic thing is just move. It doesn't matter what you do, as important as you've got to do something as opposed to sitting. The reason that sitting is bad. I know it's a cliche, Allan, but sitting is kind of the new smoking. If you sit, you will have aches and pains. There's no doubt every doctor will tell you that. And the doctors themselves probably sick too much. Okay, we all do. That's just part of our culture. I've worked hard my whole life. I deserve some relaxation, that's all true. But you will have aches and pains. You will have tight hips.
[00:12:35.250] – Jim
Absolutely true. The tight hips are often what leads to this back pain. I didn't know that. Again, I'm not a doctor, I'm not a kinesiologist. I don't have an advanced degree in Gerontology. I'm just an ordinary guy. That said, if I feel this bad now, how am I going to feel in 10 years or 15 years? And that was the motivation for me.
[00:13:04.890] – Allan
Yeah. I was looking at my life with my daughter going on and doing things like CrossFit and obstacle course races. And I was thinking to myself, she wants me to come and be there with her. But she was thinking of it in terms of me being a spectator.
[00:13:24.330] – Allan
Sit. And watch her do her event. And when she started talking about those things, I was like, Well, I don't want to spectate. I want to participate and I can't. I'm not there.
[00:13:36.630] – Jim
That sums up. And I did.
[00:13:38.710] – Allan
And then as I really got into thinking, about this long term what this means as far as my path, my aging curve. I noticed my grandfather, he was in his ninety s and he could not take care of himself. And so then it became this mantra of I want to be able to wipe my own butt when I'm 105. So it's kind of funny, kind of silly, but it's kind of those concepts of I want to be able to do the things I enjoy doing with my family. We didn't have mud runs when I was younger, so now we have mud runs. And when I have grandkids, I don't know what they're going to be doing. But I also don't likely want to be a spectator for much of it if I can participate in any way. And the only way I'm going to do that is to keep myself healthy and strong. The only way I'm going to live to see 105 and still be healthy and strong is if I'm doing the right things day in and day out. And the next thing is avoiding mistakes, because I can tell you over the course of the eight years I was trying to figure all this stuff out because we don't come with an operating manual, although now your book gives us a lot of that.
[00:14:41.730] – Jim
[00:14:42.280] – Allan
Your book does give us a lot. What are some common mistakes that we make as older individuals trying to start an exercise program?
[00:14:50.970] – Jim
I would say the first thing is that most people and I live in a senior community, as we call it. Okay. And I see people I'm probably a young person, to be honest about it. My wife and I, we've been married 52 years.
[00:15:08.860] – Allan
[00:15:10.240] – Jim
I think the biggest mistake is that people don't have a goal, which I don't ask you where it came from just out of my head. But when I started this program, I had one goal, and it was I want to be 80 years young. And at the time, I was 70 years old. So I wrote this down. I'm 80 years old. I want to be 80 years young. What do I have to do? And Allan, again, I'm not an exercise nut or some freak or gym rat. I didn't know what to do to be honest about it. And observing people was part of this, Allan. And what I noticed was that there were people who were 60 who looked and moved like they were 80. There were people who were 80 who looked to move like they were 60. And I said, what do these folks know who are 80? I said, I want to be one of those. And I call these super-agers. That's my term for it. I don't know if that's not a medical term. I call them super agers. Now let me be clear. I didn't say super men and I didn't say super women or Wonder Woman.
[00:16:47.710] – Jim
These are ordinary people who made a decision Allan, just like you did. What do I have to do? Okay. To lead a happier, more full life, not to be 100 years old or whatever. I'm not saying you can exercise every day, but one big lesson out of all this is that DNA is not your destiny. And what I did, I talked to people who were what I call Supe-Agers, people who are 80 years old, 85 years old, what the heck do they do? And there were some very common traits of these people, and that's how I developed a plan. The other mistake people make is they say, okay, I want to get fit. Okay. Do you have a plan for getting fit? No, I do the treadmill. I go walking. Well, I'm going to tell you, walking alone is not enough. People in your audience you're going to go, he doesn't know what he's talking about. Well, I love to walk. Okay, so let's make it real clear. Walking alone is not enough. So whether you have a gym membership or work out at home or whatever it may be, there are other activities you have to do if you want to get more fit.
[00:18:28.050] – Jim
And I talked to the experts, for what that's worth, there are lots of conflicts of interest. There's a lot of showman in the fitness industry. I'm a little bit cynical, as I suspect you are about the industry itself. Everybody's promoting something, but it doesn't matter when I talk to the experts, plus people who are actually what I call Super-Agers. And that's where I developed a program and I want to show you my T shirt. I call this, Geezer fitness is what I call this. So the best advice I got ever, I want to share with you and your audience and I can get a kick out of this. The best advice I ever had, somebody who was probably 85 years old, I was never quite sure how he was, but he looked like a million dollars. And he said, Jim, if you want to get motivated and stay motivated, I'm going to give you a secret. I said, Gosh, we love secrets. What's the secret? He said, Buy a couple of compression shirts. I said, what is a compression shirt? And he showed me, he says, what the athletes wear. So on day one, I show up and I had a double, the highest thing you could have, okay, whatever it was.
[00:20:02.610] – Jim
And people looked at me on day one and said, this guy has no pride at all. And the fact you try wearing a compression shirt if you're 5lbs overweight the fat hangs out. And people would look away and say, this guy has no pride at all. And to be honest about it, that's what kept me motivated. Pretend I've worn one every day since, and I love putting stuff on here. I've got one called Spartacus. So if I'm really at my best shape, I say Spartacus. If I'm not such good shape, and now I'm wearing a medium. So that's kind of what kept me motivated. People just couldn't believe it. Does this guy know how awful he looks? So try a compression shirt. And if you're 10lbs overweight, it's really embarrassing. So anyway, that's what I did and it kind of worked. It just kept me motivated day after day. And all of a sudden I started wearing a large and now wear a medium T shirt. And for a guy, one problem that men have is that they develop that punch okay and very difficult to get this off. So one mistake that people make, Allan, which I didn't know about, I didn't know what core meant.
[00:21:29.610] – Jim
I thought core referred to a six pack. Now, core is a band that goes around your upper extremity. It starts about here and goes down to your thighs. And if your core is weak and mine was incredibly weak, you will have back pain, I guarantee you. So one mistake that I would guess that 80% of people make in your audience, they don't do enough core. Again, I didn't know this. I'm not a medical doctor, I don't have a PhD. But what I found out the hard way was one reason for my lower back pain was a weak core. So for the first, probably two or three years, I would guess at least a third of my workouts exercising was on the core. Here's the good news, Allan. I'll be 82. I have zero back pain. None. Nada. So I look back and say, whatever I did seem to have worked. But a big part of this was the core. So it's not about being in a dynasty, it's not about Allan how many pull ups can you do? I can do. It has nothing to do with the ego. It has to do with, quote, functional fitness.
[00:22:58.030] – Jim
So I'm going back to what I said earlier about mixing it up. There are basically five dimensions of functional fitness. Now, when you're young, you're motivated. I want to look good in a bathing suit. Nothing wrong with that, okay. Or I'm getting married in four months. I need to lose 15lbs. So it's very vanity driven when you're older, older, being 50, 60, 70, 80, whatever. Presumably you're less vanity driven and more driven, as you said you were, by the desire to be functional, to be able to go through a day without aches and pains, without being slumped over like this, being able to stand up straight, not having a Walker, not having complaining all day about, oh, God, my back hurts this and that and so on. And so that's what it's done for me. When I say I'm in the best shape of my life, well, I have no aches and pains. What is that worth any amount of money? I can tell you that had a good career in the investment world. All I can say is the hour a day that I spend on exercising working out is the best investment I ever made.
[00:24:21.580] – Jim
How do you put a price on this? I don't know how to do it. I can say all the money in the world if you're 80 years old and let's say you're a rich person, whatever that means, and you end up in a doctor's office three or four times a week, what have you achieved? So, Allan, I call all this stuff winning at life. That's how I frame what I do. My goal, I want to win at life. How do you look back on your last days and aches and pains and the doctor you know your doctor better than you do your kids and your loved one? I don't think that's winning at life, personally. I don't think being dependent upon your kids to take care of you when you're older. I don't think that's winning at life.
[00:25:13.150] – Allan
Let's take a quick step back, because before we get too far away from the functional fitness, I think this is important for someone, particularly someone that's just starting out to understand. So the gym culture. I've been in the gym a lot over the course of my life. There's this thing, and you'll notice all the cardiovascular machines are really close to the door. And that's where 90% of the people that come in, they stop right there at the treadmill because it's easy. They understand it. You turn it on, you walk, you turn it off, you go home. And kind of the funny thing is you might live a mile away from the gym, but you're going to walk 3 miles on the treadmill and not walk to the gym. But a lot of people stop there and they look to the rest of the gym, either by not knowing what to do or even having, like you said, a plan. And for the plan to be successful, as you mentioned, it has to address functional fitness. And you mentioned Core. And we were going to say, yeah, the walking and cardiovascular endurance is important. Those are two facets of functional fitness.
[00:26:13.420] – Allan
But what are the other three that we should be looking toward to be a super ager?
[00:26:18.850] – Jim
Well, a clear one is strength. And when you say that, wait a minute, I'm not a muscle head. I'm not trying to be Mr. or Ms. Adonis. I'm not talking about that. Here are the statistics. When I did this book just move the National Geographic, it took me about two years to do the book. And when I got through and turned in the manuscript and they said, this is great. Oh, by the way, we need to have an expert read every page and evaluate it. I said, what?
[00:26:55.690] – Jim
Oh, yeah. Well, I said, I don't think anybody can do that or would do it. They found somebody out of Duke University who was, I guess, a gerontologist, and she read every paragraph. And so we agreed upon that. And then they said, Jim, oh, by the way, one more step. You have to source everything you said. What does that mean? Well, we don't want your opinion. You have to say, where did your opinion come from? I said, why don't you tell me about that? Because you would never have signed the contract. So I had to source it. And I said, because there's so much BS in the fitness world. So when I threw out these statistics, it's not my opinion. It could be Mayo Clinic, it could be whomever. But the book was not my opinion says this or that. Okay. But what I learned was from the experts is that how important strength training is. And that does not mean lifting heavy. That's what people get in trouble. You can do a lot of stuff with very light dumbbells. So my advice to your audience is maybe you're using 15 or 10 pound dumbbells. That's okay.
[00:28:22.450] – Jim
I can show you some exercises that you're going to say, I suspect you're in good shape, that you're going to say, Gosh, this is hard, Allan. 15 lbs can be hard depending on what you do. Okay. But here's the reason why in a nutshell, is because you lose strength as you get older, that unless you do something to offset that, here are the statistics. You're going to lose about 40% of your muscle mass by the time you're 70 or 75. And this often leads to the problems. So you have weak bones and so on. And so, again, I'm not a medical expert, but that's what the experts says, not an expert alive they wouldn't agree with that. That strength training and it's not being a muscle head and it's not lifting heavy at all. It has nothing to do with that. You don't need a gym membership. You can do it at home. I can show you exercises to do, just push ups, that kind of stuff that anybody can do them. You don't need a trainer, although a trainer is very helpful in sort of laying this out. But the first one is strength training that you have to do as an adult.
[00:29:46.790] – Jim
And the second, the other one is balance. So here are the statistics. One in three, there could be one in four adults, 65 and over fall every year. Now think about that again. I'm living in a senior community. Allan, if I told you how many friends we have or acquaintances where you want to call them fall, you would not believe it. And typically it's at night and for some reason it's in the bathroom. I don't know why, but we'll see somebody said, Where's Joe? Where's Nancy? Oh, man, she fell last night, banged her head. Then you're talking about something that's pretty awful.
[00:30:36.090] – Allan
Yeah. One of the statistics you had in the book that I'd like to share is that a quarter of a million people fall and go to the hospital with a hip fracture every single year. That's insane.
[00:30:53.370] – Jim
It's stunning. And these are people who are not in such bad shape. Something happens. Now let me explain to you. I fell myself and broke my wrist three months ago. Say what? Yeah. I got through working out, had a cup of coffee in my right hand, tripped. We have Oriental rugs, for better or for worse. We have Oriental rugs, tripped on the rug and said, If I spill this coffee, my wife is going to really kill me.
[00:31:31.230] – Allan
That thought would be it, but that was the thought in my head.
[00:31:34.830] – Jim
I think I did.
[00:31:38.190] – Allan
You flung the cup across the room.
[00:31:40.280] – Jim
No, I didn't spill the coffee. I fought with one hand. If I fell with two hands, guess what? I'd catch myself. Broke my wrist. I was in the cast for it's been four months now, and it's still not quite okay, but I'm a lot better. And so this goes to show you and my wife said, what happened? I said, well, I didn't spill the coffee, but I broke my wrist. It was a clean break, thank goodness. But even so, it could happen to anybody. In my case, I tripped on a rug after working out. It could happen to anybody. So you could fall this afternoon because you're walking along with a friend or your daughter and you're talking and you're not looking down. And there's whatever reason, the concrete, there's a bump in the road, whatever it may be, in the trail, for example. You'd be surprised how many people are trail walkers and they trip because of, who knows, a branch comes in, they're talking, not looking down. And so you have to do something about some kind of balance training. Now, we're not talking about this takes 2 hours. One thing that's very important. There's a big difference between training and exercising.
[00:33:12.890] – Jim
I didn't learn this in year one or year two, but training is what I've been doing. Training means you're working toward a goal. Exercising, Allan, is what most people do. They go to the gym, they do a slow slog on the treadmill while they're watching the news. That's most people who are older. I don't think that works. So when you're working toward a goal, you tend to be more efficient. So when I see an hour a day, in order to do that, you've got to be efficient. I think the magic number for me, at least is 30 minutes of walking. I do walk and think everybody needs to walk some kind of cardio endurance. I think the magic number personally is 30 minutes. I think it's diminishing returns. If that's the only message I'll leave you with today, there's diminishing returns in all of this stuff, whether it's walking or push ups or sit ups or whatever it may be. And you have to sort of understand and you learn this the hard way because the goal is to be efficient. What can I do? How can I use this hour efficiently? And what you learned, what I learned is that people who are in shape learn how to be efficient, how to squeeze stuff that's essential into 1 hour.
[00:34:56.860] – Jim
It could be 45 minutes. And nobody says that you can't exercise for 20 minutes three times a day. No big deal, 45 minutes a day. But I find out that works for me is an hour a day. And I do balance. I do my cardio on the days I do strength training. What I should have told you was, here's my program. I do strength training three times a week. Okay. I do cardio three times a week. So I walk pretty actively. But I don't run. I don't jog because my knees, I walk. Stretching is critical. If you don't stretch, it's a big mistake when you're older. You will have aches and pains. There's no way around that. Now you can say, Jim, I do yoga. Great. Pilates. Terrific. Okay. But these are the main things that someone has to do, and every older person is I don't know what to do. I don't have a plan. Well, there's some trial and error, and you sort of have to learn what works for you. The best motivation on is getting results. Here's some good news for you. If you're in bad shape like I was, the results come very quickly.
[00:36:23.770] – Jim
That's what people don't realize if all you do is walk. When I started out, I literally out on day one, could not walk more than probably four blocks. And I was huffing and puffing. That's how bad the shape I was in. But I said, you know, I'm going to do a 30 day deal now. Why 30 days? I have no idea. I just said 30 days. It could have been 45 days or 20 days. I was amazed by simply every day trying to do a little bit more. I wasn't running or jogging or any of that stuff, just walking. At the end of 30 days, I felt so much better. You have no idea. My wife's friend said, what is Jim doing? What do you mean? He looks so much more energetic. When you're older, that's what happens when you walk. Okay. And so what I found for me was the sweet spot was about 30 minutes, and I do it three times a week. Beyond 30 minutes, it's kind of missing returns. I'd rather use those other 30 minutes to do strength training and other activities. That's all it is.
[00:37:40.960] – Allan
right. Well, in your book, Just Move, there's a ton of these types of tips. You talk about how much time you dedicate from each workout, the different things you have images of some of these exercises. So there's a lot in this book. But if you wanted to just say, what are a couple of your favorite takeaways from the book that if someone were thinking about buying your book that you want them to know, want them to look for, what would that be?
[00:38:05.240] – Jim
Well, that's a great question. And I think what I would say is you have to find your why. What is your why? Why are you even thinking about taking up some kind of a program? Okay, now your why might be, I don't want to be a burden to my kids. I don't want to say, well, I'm sorry I can't go with you on this trip. I've got to take care of my dad. Man, I don't want that. I want to be able to play with my grandkids. Everybody has their own try, but that's sort of the motivation. My motivation again, was I want to be 80 years young. That may not be your goal. It was my goal. Okay? You have to find that. And the other important takeaway is you have to have a plan. Without a plan, a goal is just a dream, in my opinion. So a goal and a plan. And then you have to actually show up and do the work so you can talk about this stuff all day long. I think the only mistake the other takeaway is the goal is not perfection. So I know you like to exercise and it's really improved your life and that kind of stuff, but perfection is not the goal.
[00:39:31.830] – Jim
The exercises that I do, I don't do very well. I try, but we all have our issues. So the other thing I want to make sure that everybody understands is you can work out every day, okay. And it's true that your DNA is not your destiny. That's an important concept to me. That means you can do activities that will help lower the risk of a serious disease. Heart attack, stroke, okay? Certain cancers, all that's true. But I have to tell your audience this. When you get 80 years old, you will have issues and no amount of exercise, no amount of eating right. No amount of managing stress, none of that good sleep habits. You will still have stress. I don't know anybody who's 80. It's like having a car. Okay? You have a great car, but there's a certain mileage. I don't know. It's 150,000 miles. Your car is going to break down. Well, guess what? Your body breaks down, but it's okay because you're in shape. And I've had some issues. I don't want to go into them myself other than a broken wrist. But the big pay off from all this stuff, Allan, the big pay off is what you have to think about,
[00:41:03.900] – Jim
What's Jim want to payoff from all of your exercises, all of your hard work? You know what it is? It's the confidence that whatever life throws at me, I can deal with it. And what I'm suggesting is the real benefit of all this stuff is mental as much as physical. So given where I came from, getting where I am now doesn't mean I'm not going to have issues. That's just BS. I do have issues. I will have issues. But it's the confidence I can deal with whatever life throws at me. I don't care what it is. If I get hit by a truck, if I get cancer, if I get all the bad things that happen because of the confidence that comes from hard work and getting results, you can deal with it. The other thing out of the book that I want everybody to really kind of think about, these are all just insights. There are no rules that I know of, but they're insights. The other big insight that I think is important is that attitude is so critical. Okay, so all we're talking about here is looking forward and not back. Allan, I cannot tell you how many people I know who live in the past and every single one of them is in bad shape.
[00:42:43.270] – Jim
I'm looking forward. Now, I'm going to say this to your audience, and I believe it. I honestly believe my best days still lie ahead. Is that positivity? That's a critical element. If somebody says I don't need exercise, I don't need to eat healthy or eat clean, I don't need any of that stuff. Okay, that's fine. That's your choice. Ok. The problem is you're going to end up at some point, you might lose your loved one, then you're going to be by yourself. Okay, maybe you have a caretaker, but your world is going to shrink. It's the opposite out of what you said. Your world is going to shrink. You spend your day in a small apartment when you're 80 or 85 years old. Loneliness. And all of this is what tends to lead to depression, but even worse, Alzheimer's and dementia. Now, I may end up with dementia or Alzheimer's, but I'm doing everything I can. Okay. Staying active. And also, I want to share with you one last thought is that we talk about physical fitness, and that's very important because fitness is the foundation of healthy aging. That's the other message. But there's more to healthy aging than that.
[00:44:18.830] – Jim
There's also mental fitness, and there's emotional fitness, and they're equally important. So in my case, the reason I'm doing this interview is not to sell books. If my story can inspire somebody to get off the couch and just move, as opposed to just sitting, that's my legacy. To be honest about it, I wrote a best selling book called Cowboy Ethics. 160,000 copies. Best selling book. This book maybe 25,000 Max. You don't sell excise. Books like this don't sell unless it's written by George Clooney or Brad Pitt. That's the truth. So the money I make off this book is not worth even talking about. To be honest about it, it doesn't matter. This is for me, is a legacy. If my story of going from incredibly bad shape and back pain and terrible feeling and so on to where I am right now in the best shape of my life, I weigh less I did in high school, and I'm just an average guy. I'm not anything special, okay? If that can inspire somebody that's more important to me, that's my legacy. I want to look back on my life and say, and this is the whole idea of purpose.
[00:45:50.270] – Jim
Now, you're too young. I suspect even think about this.
[00:45:55.340] – Allan
I'm 56 years old.
[00:45:57.590] – Jim
That's young. You're a kid.
[00:45:59.990] – Allan
I am a kid. I agree.
[00:46:04.070] – Jim
But what keeps you going, what keeps you alive is that having the passion or the purpose. I look back on it and say, I will look back on my life on the last day of my life and say, Did I leave things better than I found it? If it's true that I did it's because of my writing and my speaking, I made my money, so to speak, in my career. Not that I'm a rich, rich guy, but I have enough money. Okay? So I'm lucky on that score. But the legacy is what's important to me. It's not the books I think sells on Amazon for $15 or whatever. Okay. And if you think somebody is going to make a living off of writing a book, well, I guess Michelle Obama can do it, but most of us can't do it. I sure couldn't do it. But it's the legacy factor that is so critical to me. And that's why I do all this stuff. You have no idea. I get emails from so many people, and I'm not big computer guys. I told you to be honest about it. That's just not me.
[00:47:21.520] – Jim
I don't like emailing, any of that stuff. But if my story can make a difference and that's why I do all this stuff, that gives me more satisfaction. I also did a film. I produced a film called The Art of Aging Well, and it took two years. Now, when I say produce, what does that mean? Well, producer of a film hires the people. I'm not behind the camera, hires the people, oversees the quality, and basically does the marketing. Okay. Jim Havey, who's out of Denver. I've known Jim for 30 years. Jim has won three or four Emmys. I've not won an Emmy, but we did a film together again. He's the film guy. The Art of Aging well, and just when we got it finished, this pandemic hit, I can't go on the road and speak about this. I'm basically a communicator. That's kind of what I do. I get in front of an audience, it could be 20 people, it could be 1000. I don't get rattled with an audience. And I said what I'm going to do, I've got two years invested. I can't go on a plane and go any place anymore.
[00:48:42.640] – Jim
So I said, maybe, just maybe a PBS would carry this thing. Well, we got on PBS, and I'm very proud to say 124 PBS stations carried this. And your audience, there's no charge for it. I raised the money from I had sponsors. That's what I was. But your audience can look at it's called theartofagingwell.com. It's free.
[00:49:13.830] – Allan
[00:49:14.980] – Jim
I'm very big on what you're doing. For example, I really think it's the emotional connection that you make with it's, not the information. If information was the answer, everybody would be working out, eating clean, managing stress, getting a good night's sleep, that kind of stuff. Information doesn't do it. I can give you a 700 page thesis. You're not going to read it, much less take action. But what you're doing with your communication skills, I hope what I'm doing with my writing and creative process inspires people to make these changes. And all I can say is small steps add up over time. So don't think about, that's why I had a ten year goal. My ten year goal was to go from being 70 years old to 80 years young. I never found it. If it was a pill, believe me, I'd be taking it right now. I don't know where the pill? There may be a pill that I do.
[00:50:29.870] – Allan
There's a pill. It's called exercise. And you're doing it six days a week.
[00:50:35.230] – Jim
To me, I would rather spend. So I look back on that and say, Jim, what have you learned from all this stuff? Well, me, I'd rather spend an hour a day doing what I'm doing right now. Okay. As opposed to an hour a day in the doctor's office. And that's what it's going to be like. I don't want to be in a wheelchair. I don't want to have a Walker. I don't want to be bent over like this. I want to be as healthy and as alive and have the energy as long as I can. Having said that, there will be a time. It could be tomorrow. But, Allan, it ain't going to be today. Okay, that's all you can do.
[00:51:22.370] – Allan
Jim, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
[00:51:30.520] – Jim
that's beautiful. I think you've done probably a better job of this stuff than I did. Again, I'm just an ordinary guy. But one of the messages is one, it's never too late to get started. Don't think for a second when I'm 75, there's no point now. I might as well have that three dips of chocolate ice cream or something like that. It doesn't matter with your the sooner you start, the better. There's no question. Now, does Jim Owen wish he had started this program when he was your age? Absolutely. Okay. There's no question about that. But I didn't. I started at 70. You can start at 75. And it's not about getting fit. It's about getting more fit than you are. Now, I had took a long view. Ten years. Okay. I guess you could say I'm fit. I don't know what else I can do, but your DNA does play a part in these underlying conditions. But I like to think that 75% of your health and wellness is lifestyle driven, and we can argue all day long about this. Well, maybe it's more like 60%. I believe it's about 75% lifestyle. Now what does lifestyle means?
[00:53:04.990] – Jim
Exercising, eating clean, okay, managing stress, which is critical. Okay. Getting sufficient sleep, it's that kind of thing. But also and this is what the exercise people don't talk about all that's great. But that's physical health, physical wellness. There's also that mental wellness and emotional wellness, and that's what I'm into now. I want to be a better husband, a better father, a better friend. And that to me today, means more than saying, Gosh, I just had a personal best with pushups. I suspect that I'll be in no better shape in two or three years. I am right now. I don't know what I could do because you can get injured when you're older. So if you do too much with your shoulders or whatever, maybe legs, whatever, you can have a problem. So do I work out as hard as I did before? No. The reason is we all have low energy days. That's another message I want to give to your audience. At my age, you have to recognize the recovery days are critical. So today I'll be working out this afternoon. Do I work out as hard? No, but I work out pretty hard for me.
[00:54:49.550] – Jim
But do I work as hard as I did five years ago? No, I don't think anybody does, but I do cover the bases. I do push myself, but it's incremental. It's not major changes. I don't know how to do that. Can I get more lean? I could probably lose a pound or two. That's about it. Can I lift more weight? Maybe, but do I want to take the risk of hurting my shoulder? Not really. And the recovery days become much more important. So the other message take away from all that we've talked about is when you're older, you have to listen to your body, not to Jim Owen, listen to your body. And I think that's the best guide that I can give you. Listen to your body, particularly when you're older, but you've got to have goals. You've got to have a plan on how you're going to get from here to here. And if you don't just kind of, you have to cover the basis. And you do have to continually improve. And that's sort of the hard thing to understand about this. Let's take a push up, okay. If all you do is plane pushups after you can do about 25, I think you're better off progressing.
[00:56:19.510] – Jim
So I keep progressing. I do more difficult exercises than I did before. That's how I progress. So I do stuff that I probably couldn't have done five years ago, but I don't do squats with barbells on my neck and stuff like that. Or let's just take push ups, okay. A diamond push up, push ups like this. So in every exercise. This is what makes ourselves so fascinating. You think about push up as a pushup. No, it's not. You're going to put your hands like this, like this. You're working your body different ways. The core is the critical part. You've got to have a strong core to do what I do. I guarantee you that. And that's why when you say, Jim, every once in a while I'll take part in the competition with my peers. They want to hear where I live. I live in La Jolla, okay. And I won against all other people my age. Okay. And why? Well, I work out. That's why. A lot of people could do one thing, but they couldn't do the whole thing. This is a test, if you will, but it's great fun. And I want to say one more thing on this.
[00:57:44.900] – Jim
Is that the one regret I have in life? This may surprise you. I want to get your take on this than anything to have been a great athlete. Anything. My brother, who's older than me by two years, was a star athlete and scholar, baseball, basketball, football, and track. The best athlete in a pretty damn good high school. We're from Kentucky and great high school. He was number one. I never scored a touchdown. I never hit the winning home run. I'd have given anything to have been that gifted athlete, which I wasn't I had learned in football. What's interesting about this is I found my inner athlete and I have an athlete's attitude about what I do. And that's why it's fun for me. The exercise part is challenging and fun. And guess what? No surprise to you. A lot of terrific athletes in high school and College, when they get my age, they don't do anything. They got burned out. I can't tell you how many people I know who were good athletes. And so finding your inner athlete to me has made a tremendous difference in terms of confidence and attitude. And the attitude is what kind of keeps you going again to repeat it, I look forward.
[00:59:14.860] – Jim
I don't look back. So many people my age continue to talk about the past. I can't tell you I get so sick of this. Well, when I was in high school, when I was in prep school, how about looking forward? What are you doing now? What's your challenge now?
[00:59:33.470] – Allan
And that's the big thing with me. I was the athlete in high school. I was a very good athlete and then fell out of it in my 30s. But I was an excellent athlete. I was in the US imagery, military. I was super fit all the way up until my thirty's. And then I let it go. And it took me a long time to get it back. But I can tell you all the things I ever did, all the winds, all the shots, everything that I did do all of that, none of those compared to the feeling I got running across the finish line with my daughter at a tough Mudder and knowing that I could keep up with her. She didn't have to wait on me. I was as good an athlete as I'd ever been, and I was able to do that. And you talk about the looking forward. I've got another tough Mudder scheduled in three months, so I'm going to be back up in the States. I'm going to be doing another tough Mudder because I can, because I want to, and I train for it. As you said, train, not exercise.
[01:00:34.880] – Allan
I have a goal. I have a mission. I have a plan. All of those things that you brought up here
[01:00:41.630] – Jim
I'm so impressed. You have no idea. My daughter, we have two children. They're both adopted at birth. We couldn't have kids and married 52 years. Our daughter's name is Allegra, and she's 38 and she's an athlete, and that's her. And she does this tough mudder. I've never done one. She says, dad, when are you going to do a father daughter thing?
[01:01:06.830] – Allan
Yeah, do one of the smaller ones. The tough Mudders are now broken up. So the original one was like 12, 13 miles. So it's pretty tough. Now, that's what they call the 15K, which is, I guess, closer to 9.5 miles, but they have a 5K version. And so the obstacles are going to require upper body strength, grip strength, that type of thing. You're not really running a whole lot because the obstacles are probably no more than a mile away from each other anyway. So you pretty much jog to the next obstacle, and then you wait your turn to get on that obstacle. But they are a ton of fun. And based on looking at you right now, I don't see any get your wrist completely fixed, but I don't see any reason why anybody that doesn't set their mind to do something like that couldn't do it. And if there's an obstacle you can't do, there's no shame in that. You give it a shot, you do your best, and then you move on to the next obstacle. It's a lot of fun. And yes, if you're doing it with your daughter, that's going to be a special day, I promise you.
[01:02:11.320] – Jim
Well, I cannot believe this. I cannot believe this. And I have never talked about this with anyone except my wife. But when I hear your story, are you ready for this? I want to be in the senior Olympics in my age category again. So I'm not competing against somebody who's 75 it's every five years. And I would be in the 80-85.
[01:02:38.520] – Allan
Just started creating those age groups because they figured I got these people in the 80s that are now having to compete with people in the 60s that wasn't right. So they've corrected that. And because they've got Centurions doing it now, they have an over 100 category, and I have no doubt. Yeah, I have no doubt. Within ten years. They're going to have to start breaking that up because it's not fair for 115 year old to run against 100 year old. So good. Congratulations on that.
[01:03:09.850] – Jim
Well, you may not be aware of this. I live in San Diego, in La Jolla. San Diego. San Diego started this instead of in addition to track and field, they also have and now for the first time in the season, and they have an exercise thing. So I'm not going to run 100 yards because of my knees. Okay. I can't do a lot of stuff that you can do, but I have a feeling I can compete in the 80 to 85 senior Olympics in the exercise part, and I can train for that. And I've never talked about with anybody. But hearing your story, It'd be a blast to do it.
[01:03:58.470] – Allan
Let's stay in touch and talk about that.
[01:04:00.390] – Jim
It's about doing your best. I did my best. And guess what, pal? You beat me this year. Next year. That's part of the motivation stuff. Yeah, that's great.
[01:04:13.450] – Allan
So, Jim, if someone wanted to learn more about you, more about the book, Just Move. Where would you like for me to send them?
[01:04:21.630] – Jim
Well, what I would do, frankly, is go to Amazon. This book is going to cost you, I think, $15 and change. Two years of work. And this is like a cup of coffee. So it's not like Jim is getting rich off a book. I think the book is really well done, if I may say this. Okay. And it covers the gamut. And I can tell you there's nothing in this that you don't know. So the book is not really not written for you. You're an athlete, okay. It's the person who, in fact, is a couch potato. I'm not sure where to start or how to do this stuff. I believe in the basic core exercises that everybody needs to do, and you can make all this stuff complicated. And I want to leave you with this one idea. If you want to make what we talked about today complicated, be my guest. I don't think it has to be at all. It's pretty simple stuff. You got to mix it up. You got to keep progressing. You've got to do more than just walk. But you don't have to have a gym membership if you don't want to.
[01:05:40.800] – Jim
You don't have to have a personal trainer if you don't want to. Okay. But you have to move. And you say, I love to move. We have a friend in Santa Barbara who's 92 years old, who is a competitive ballroom dancer. I'm talking about competitive, like on the national stage. That's pretty damn. You can do kayaking, you can do bicycling. There's all kinds of ways to move. If you say, Jim, I'm just not the gym rant type, okay. I've told you what I do. It's worked for me. But if you want to do kayaking, bicycling, Pilates it's all good stuff as long as you are moving and not sitting. But I've built the case here that the cardio endurance is not enough. You should do the other stuff. But I'm not here to pound the table and change somebody's life unless they want to. This book was written for somebody who essentially is skeptical like this. Tell me why I need to do this. Okay. Here are the reasons, but it's not my job to try to. I'm not a personal trainer. I'm not selling protein powder. I have no wax to grind. It's not going to change my life.
[01:07:09.920] – Jim
If somebody says I'm a couch potato, I'm not going to change your call. Good luck, because I can tell you what your life is going to be like when you get my age. You're going to have aches and pains, spend half day in the damn doctor's office. If that's what you want, it's fine. Me, I'd rather not do that. So that's kind of the takeaway. But the book, I need a wonderful book for somebody who is a couch potato, who says, I don't need to know more about this. I want to know more. But I'm not a personal trainer. I'm not a life coach. No, I'm just a guy who said, here's my story. If my story can inspire somebody, then that's my legacy, and that's why I do it.
[01:07:57.380] – Allan
Thank you, Jim. And thank you for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
[01:08:00.800] – Jim
Well, listen, I have to tell you, you inspired me, and it's not used to inspire me, but your story, you have a terrific story. You're a terrific communicator. Okay. And I think you've got a terrific life ahead of you. It's all I can say.
[01:08:21.040] – Allan
Thank you, Jim.
[01:08:29.130] – Allan
[01:08:30.460] – Rachel
Hey, Allan. That was so fun listening to a successful story like his at 85, he sounds like he's the fittest he's ever been. Oh, 82.
[01:08:39.690] – Allan
He's 82. Yeah, he's 82 now. He started his journey when he was in his 70 years, when he was turning 70, because he just had that moment. And most of us that go through some form of transformation like this, we come up to this moment and it's like, oh, I have to do something. And what he was is he just 70, and he felt old and he didn't like the energy level. He didn't like anything about it. And he determined that he was going to change that and committed to changing it. And his overall vision was that by the time he turned 80, he wanted to feel younger than he did when he was 70. And he has and he did, but he did some important things. And normally I try to drive these conversations. Jim is a Rambler. So he went on and on and on, but there's a lot of gold in there. Don't poopoo that like he did. I think it's worth our time to listen to people who've done what you want to do. Listen to people who've struggled through this and learn everything you can from them. So I was more than happy to just sort of hand the mic over to Jim and say, okay, run with it, because it's a good conversation.
[01:09:55.590] – Allan
But one of my key takeaways here is that he didn't play around with this. This wasn't that he dabbled at getting more fit, and it took him all these years. He went straight in and said, I'm hiring a trainer, and I'm going to make this change. And he got a good trainer, and a trainer made him younger, helped him exercise, get stronger, add muscle. And so now he is effectively from a biological age, probably younger than he was twelve years ago.
[01:10:28.980] – Rachel
My gosh, that's just incredible. And I love that he does all the things that we all should be doing Besides cardio. He does strength work. He does balance, which is really important. Even I need to work on that as a runner. And then he does the stretching. The other thing I need to do more of as a runner. But it's awesome that he dedicates his time to doing all of these different modalities each week.
[01:10:52.920] – Allan
Yeah. And so his schedule has him doing exercise for 1 hour, six days a week. That sounds like a lot of people say, oh, my God, I couldn't give an hour and go to the gym every day. You probably spend that much time watching Netflix in a week, 6 hours. And if you really look at it, 6 hours is a fraction of available time you have in a day. So I know we all feel like we're busy, but if you don't make this a priority, it's never going to happen. This is not something you phone in. He had to go to the gym and go through those workouts, and he's working on the other modalities and getting better there, too. And that's one of the cool things about this is when you really dedicate yourself and you put the time in, particularly at the beginning. We call it newbie gains, but you're going to see change really quickly. And that can be very motivating. But you got to start.
[01:11:55.740] – Rachel
Right. I love how he also said that he would rather spend an hour working out than an hour in the doctor's office. And I have to agree with that wholeheartedly. I would rather be exercising once a day or several times a week and just feel healthier and stronger for it. There's a lot of his lessons that I've learned at a much younger age. But again, going back to his age of 82, I'm just flabbergasted that he has put so much time and dedication into his own routine, and he's sharing it in his book. I just love to see people in this age bracket working out like he does.
[01:12:34.370] – Allan
Yeah. Now, a lot of books, when I'm talking to the author and I've read the book, it's like the same style the same thing. So I almost feel like as I've read the book I've already had a previous conversation with this individual. But I will say this Jim's book is much better organized than this podcast episode was. Jim knows his stuff and he put a lot of effort into writing the book. It's very well organized. There are workouts, there are stretches with pictures, all how to do this stuff. He does tell his story in there, which is very uplifting to know for sure. There's always a chance, but you got to get started and then it's a very well organized book for you to have a full program to get yourself started. But I'd still encourage you to look at getting a trainer and I know that's an investment the time is an investment and actually doing the work is an investment, but those investments pay off huge dividends, particularly in our current era where we need to keep our bodies as healthy, as strong as they can to just deal with everyday crap.
[01:13:43.710] – Rachel
For sure. Yes, for sure.
[01:13:47.830] – Allan
Because if you're starting from a better base, you're better off in the end. Regardless.
[01:13:54.570] – Rachel
Going back to his story, he started off with back pain and knee pain and all these things and now he doesn't feel that anymore. He's changed his lifestyle so much that he's healthier and more fit now than he was at age 70. It's just incredible.
[01:14:10.140] – Allan
Yeah, it's a good story and there's a lot of gold Nuggets in this episode. Even more in the book, so it's a good one.
[01:14:19.460] – Rachel
Yes, I love that. Great interview.
[01:14:21.580] – Allan
All right. Well, Rachel, I will talk to you next week.
[01:14:24.880] – Rachel
All right. Take care.
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One of the most common questions I get is: “How do you optimize my nutrition for…”.
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[00:03:03.680] – Allan
[00:03:04.890] – Rachel
Hey, Allan. How are you today?
[00:03:06.630] – Allan
I'm doing all right.
[00:03:07.920] – Rachel
[00:03:09.310] – Allan
Been a busy week. We had that flood here in the gym, and so we've been trying to work on the roof and keep that going. So that's been pretty massive. And then, of course, they took the holiday break, took a couple of days off, and it rained for two solid days. Which was great. No, it actually ended up being great. We were like in a rainforest and a tree, like almost like a Treehouse thing. And it wasn't really technically a tree house, but it felt like it based on where it was on the Hill and then just sit there. I read two fiction book novels.
[00:03:42.650] – Rachel
How nice. What a nice change.
[00:03:46.140] – Allan
Yeah. I mean, I don't hardly ever read fiction anymore because I'm constantly reading nonfiction. In fact, I think I've got a book I've got to read today. But, yeah, it's kind of crazy. I sat down, I brought two books with me because I just wasn't sure how far I would get into the first book, and I ended up finishing both of them.
[00:04:05.070] – Rachel
That's awesome. Would you recommend either of what you read?
[00:04:09.160] – Allan
Well, one of them, yes. I suppose. I don't know if you get on Amazon and prime and the Netflix kind of stuff, but on Amazon Prime, there's a show called The Man from High Castle.
[00:04:22.730] – Rachel
Oh, I've heard of that.
[00:04:24.050] – Allan
Okay. And it was a really good series. And so this was the book that basically was the basis for that television show. And obviously when you have a television show with all the episodes and all that, there was a lot more into the plot of the show than there was in the book. But it was really interesting because particularly since I knew the characters from the show to get into their head, because now this was told from basically the Omnipotent perspective where you're in his head, each of these characters head. So that was good. But it's a good book. It's interesting. And then the other one was called Bocas del toro. But oddly enough, none of the action in the book actually happened in Bocas del toro.
[00:05:15.050] – Rachel
So I wonder what the inspiration was for that name.
[00:05:18.660] – Allan
Well, that's where the guy ended up. The main protagonist, I guess, of the book. He ended up in Bocas del toro at the end of the book, but it was kind of he said it was based on some actual facts and things that had happened to people. So you have to assume that this was a person that actually dealt with this.
[00:05:38.330] – Rachel
Cool. Very cool.
[00:05:40.260] – Allan
So how are things with you?
[00:05:41.800] – Rachel
Good. I actually just finished a book myself. I read this book probably once a year or so. I just finished reading The Old Man in the Sea by Hemingway.
[00:05:51.730] – Allan
[00:05:52.340] – Rachel
It's a classic tale. It's a quick read. And I've been thinking about why I was so drawn to it. And it's about endurance. It's about a man holding onto this fish for as long as he could and after several days of holding the line. But one of the things in the very beginning of the book that amuses me so much is that the old man is in Havana in the, gosh, when was that? Prior to the 1950s, I think. And he liked baseball like a lot of Cubans did. And probably still do. But his favorite player was DiMaggio and he was talking with one of his friends about baseball, and he said he needs to watch the Tigers of Detroit as well as the Indians of Cleveland, who have changed their name recently to Guardians. But it was just interesting to hear him talk about the Detroit Tigers, which is our team. So it was just really a fun little twist at the very beginning of the book, but great book. I would always recommend it.
[00:07:01.930] – Allan
Cool. Well, you ready to have a conversation with Alan Aragon?
[00:07:05.820] – Rachel
[00:07:53.730] – Allan
Alan, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
[00:07:56.610] – Alan Aragon
Hey, Allan, thank you so much for having me. It's great to be here.
[00:08:00.210] – Allan
Now your book is called Flexible Dieting: The Science-based, Reality-tested Method for Achieving and Maintaining your Optimal Physique Performance and Health. I've read a lot of books. You're probably my I want to say close to 330th interview over the time I've been doing this podcast and I read every single book and there's at least I would say 100 citations that I earmarked or just made notes of that I want to go back and read because this was so well researched, so well organized and put together in a way that when you get through it and you would kind of admit this yourself, there's points where it feels a little trudgy because there's science and it's hard not to. But when you get done, you're like, this is what science is supposed to be, not some of the stuff we've been doing for the last few years, not what nutrition science has been doing for the last several decades. This is how you do science. And I really appreciate the way you put this book together.
[00:09:16.990] – Alan Aragon
Oh, cool. Yeah. Well, thank you. The book's title is kind of misleading. I was asked to do the book and then I said to myself, you know, this is my opportunity to leverage the powers of a large publishing house to write the ultimate evidence-based nutrition book that covers how to optimize body composition and athletic performance and just go fully science-based with that and try to make it readable for the mass audience. And so calling the book Flexible Dieting, it sounds like some almost like a pop diet book that has some sort of a hook. But then when you go through it, it's like gosh, if I wanted to learn about all the macronutrients, if I wanted to learn about different ways to enhance various sports, and if I also wanted to kind of learn what flexible dieting is that's in there, too, among a million other things? It's an interesting book, man. I commend you for getting through it. It's like an encyclopedia.
[00:10:38.330] – Allan
Well, it is and it isn't. Yes, it is. It is. From the perspective of when I have a question about when is the best time for me to take my protein? I have a chapter on that. I've took a couple of chapters. Whether I'm dealing with performance, whether I'm dealing with strength, whether I'm dealing with fat loss, whatever my goals are, I literally now have a reference book to go back and say, okay, at least from a baseline of what science was in 2022. So this is one of those books where I'm sorry, but in about five to ten years, you're going to have to I think you've tied yourself into a second and third edition or something like that. I think there's a rule. Yes, but at least what we know today. Yes. We're going to start with because it is important flexible dieting, because that's the hook, if you will. But that is a part of the fact that there is so much information out there, and there are what a lot of people call the hard and fast rules, the rigid. You must do this. You must do that. And a lot of us really struggle with that.
[00:11:51.820] – Alan Aragon
[00:11:52.720] – Allan
And what we're talking about is the continuum of dietary control. Could you kind of go over what that is and why that's really important for us to understand because particularly weight loss or muscle gain and they're kind of on other sides of each other. But if we're really looking at changing ourselves and we want to eat the right way, common sense would say, well, find a rigid plan and just do it, grind it out, even if you don't like it. And that's going to get you the best results. But for a lot of people, that's not true.
[00:12:26.650] – Alan Aragon
Yes. Diets are all effective as long as you stick to them. And the $64 million question, well, in Elon's case, the $44 billion question would be how do you stick to a diet? And so what I feel is the magic answer to that is you have to find an approach that works for you. You have to find methods that work for you as an individual. And this is going to be different from everybody. It just varies from person to person. And there are certain immutables. Like, for example, if you wanted to lose weight, you have to impose a net caloric deficit by the end of the week, technically, not necessarily by the end of the day. If you want to gain weight, you have to sustain the opposite hyper caloric conditions or caloric surplus conditions. And as is the major public health issue of obesity, there is a problem with the general public eating too much by the end of the day, the week, the month, and you can take anybody on the planet and give them a script and say, hey, follow this 100% and they are going to lose weight as long as that script imposes a caloric deficit.
[00:14:09.650] – Alan Aragon
Now, the minute that deficit gets swallowed up or just gradually stamped out over time, then the diet will stop working. And so flexible versus rigid dietary control, that concept attempts to capture the difference between on one far end, handing somebody a specific menu with very specific foods and the timing of the foods and the exact grams and gosh, even whether the foods are organic or not, you hand them that script and you say, okay, just follow this. And on the very far end of flexible control would be telling somebody, Eat less of this stuff and maybe more of that stuff and you'll be fine. So somewhere along that continuum is the proper approach for the individual. This is the most non hookish hook ever. But flexible dieting is really the flexibility of the approach that you take to accomplishing the goals. Because honestly, some people do really well with rigid dietary restraint. You tell them, okay, this is what you need to eat. And then they're just most comfortable doing it. And they're comfortable and they actually have fun plugging numbers into a God forsaken app. You know what? That is that particular individuals psychographic, if you will, and that's perfectly fine for them.
[00:15:59.590] – Alan Aragon
Whereas if you take somebody who hates that idea and you tell them, okay, you're going to need 100 grams of protein, 200 grams of carbs, and 60 grams of fat a day. Here's your app, plug it in. Here are the allowable foods. And then just make sure you accomplish this every day. If they don't like to do that, they'll honestly, they'll last like two weeks doing that, and then they'll just throw their phone out the window and say, screw this, I'm going to try Keto or Paleo, see how that works. Flexible dieting. The approach as sort of an overarching principle is that everybody needs to establish their own personal approach to dieting. And the concept of rigid dietary control versus flexible dietary control is sort of a sub concept where rigid control involves dichotomous concepts like good and bad foods. And you have to either be precise or it's all or nothing. And flexible dietary control is the idea where it's not black and white, there's not absolute good and absolute bad foods, particularly when you think of how they fit into a diet. You can create a good or a bad diet, but the good diets can still contain a margin of in quotes, naughty foods, bad foods.
[00:17:34.630] – Alan Aragon
So, yeah, it can get a little bit intricate when I attempt to explain flexible dieting. But yeah, that's it one thing flexible dieting is not. And this is what everybody kind of gets wrong because of how the diet culture ten years ago propagated this idea. But flexible dieting, and if it fits your macros, those are not the same thing. People just kind of conflate those terms, which is false, because if it fits your macros, A IIFYM is not a diet to begin with, and B IIFYM is not what people have been led to believe it is, which it was propagated as a junk food diet or eat whatever you want as long as you hit your macronutrient target. So that's not flexible dieting. Counting macros is not necessarily flexible dieting, but everybody calls it that because a rumor got started and then it just spread across the Internet. And then that was the end of that. And I watched it happen. And I knew with the flexible dieting research and the literature what that attempted to get across. And it has nothing to do with counting macronutrients. It has everything to do with not seeing dietary approaches as an all or nothing thing with good or bad foods and flexible dieting as a protocol.
[00:19:11.170] – Alan Aragon
It really just says, look, if you're one of these people who likes to be more rigid with the type of restraint they apply to the diet, then good that's you if you're somebody who likes a more qualitative or habit based approach and you don't want to crunch numbers and you don't want to weigh stuff and measure stuff all day long, great. And that's the approach that you take. Keeping in mind, regardless of your approach, if you want to lose weight or body fat, the approach you take has to default you to eating less calories, or somebody will correct me fewer calories by the end of the week, month, year, et cetera, in order to lose weight.
[00:20:01.690] – Allan
One of the reasons why the IIFYM kind of concept really took off, I think, is one you're on a message board. So anything on the message board or Twitter, the fewer characters you use, the better. So it's quick and it answers a question like, well, here, but it doesn't answer it exactly. There's another concept that you've got into in the book that I really do. I think this will take a lot of people further down into understanding this concept of flexible dieting because I think at times we might sit there and say, I really kind of want to have a beer with my dinner or I'm going out with friends on Saturday and I know we're going to go to my favorite Italian place. And so you start looking at what your food plan is and how you're planning on going about your day. It's the concept of discretionary calorie allowance, and I like that because it keeps you aware of the goal line. It just doesn't tell you what every step you have to take is.
[00:21:09.070] – Alan Aragon
Yeah, that's true. And the concept of discretionary calories is basically it's organized moderation, I guess you call it. It's moderation with a plan. So how do we execute moderation? This is an observation. It's not, amazingly, there hasn't been any controlled research comparisons of one approach to moderation versus another approach to moderation, but it's been a long standing observation over the decades that up to about 20% of total calories can come from basically whatever you want. And as long as the other minimum 80% of the diet is from wholesome stuff, whole foods, minimally refined foods, the inquote good stuff, clean stuff, I guess you could call it. Then you will be perfectly fine, and you will get as good results as somebody who attempts to be 100% perfect with their diet all the time. And it may even be more sustainable to keep a diet going in the long term if you allow this 10-20% margin of Yolo foods or foods like desserts, alcoholic beverages, deep fried stuff, and things that would normally be taboo on a stereotypical clean diet. So as long as 80% to 90% of the diet is wholesome, then you're doing great.
[00:22:59.770] – Alan Aragon
And then that 10 to 20% discretionary calorie allotment will provide you a respite or a margin of sanity. If you want to let your hair down once in a while and eat some fun stuff or some naughty stuff, and then you can sustain the program a lot better than thinking you have to just kind of grit your teeth through the whole thing for weeks and months until you reach your goal. And it just doesn't work like that. I want to throw in a little wrinkle here for folks kind of confused about the idea that we need to add naughty foods into the diet. If you're the type of person who doesn't like those kinds of foods, if you're the type of person who just hates the idea of eating cakes, candy, cookies, ice cream, alcoholic beverages, fried foods, et cetera, then you don't have to. Eat 100% Spartan if that's what makes you happy. And that's what you want to ride into the sunset with. But we have to be aware that the vast majority of us are going to be able to sustain the diet for a lifetime more successfully if we allot discretionary calories.
[00:24:28.010] – Allan
Yeah. And the cool thing is you are paying attention to your nutrition, so you're getting the nutrition your body needs, and you're keeping your calories in line with what you need to hit your goal, whether that's to lose weight, gain weight, all of that's in line because you know what you're supposed to be doing and you're staying within kind of this flexible, okay, pivot here. I need to be a little bit more rigid. I can be more rigid because my wife's not here for the next two weeks. So I can be really rigid if I want to. Where she's going to come back and want to socialize and go out to dinner and do things. So there I know for the next two weeks I'm probably going to have a lot more of those discretionary calories hitting my palate. And as long as that doesn't trigger me and cause me to kind of say, okay, one beer becomes two and then two becomes four. As long as I'm not triggered by what's going on, then that can be a really good way to sustain this. Now I'm looking at my notes, and this is sad because this is more about me.
[00:25:28.720] – Allan
It says a lot about your book, but it just looks like a hodgepodge of things. I was having so much time reading the I'm like, I want to talk about everything. But the core of it is there were a couple of concepts that were in the book that I've never talked about here. We've talked about the importance of eating protein and getting enough protein, but I've never talked about the reason why we need enough protein. And that relates to protein turnover, muscle protein turnover, and the fact that being over 40, our ability to maintain and retain our muscle and maybe even gain muscle is that formula is changing for us as we age. And so the importance to me, the importance of protein goes up substantially over the age of 40. I think that's what was one of the thoughts that was in my head. And then in the book, you talk about the protein intake hierarchy of importance. Can you talk about those and again, one, why is protein what is this turnover thing that's happening? Why do we need protein? And then how do we get our protein? What's the hierarchy of intake? Okay, a lot of ideas.
[00:26:47.030] – Allan
I know, but it was like as I was reading, I was like, this is so good. And I kept doing it. So pardon the question not being a question, but I'm asking for an essay.
[00:26:59.390] – Alan Aragon
That's cool. It's funny, because when I answer these questions, it hits a point in my answer where I'm somewhat self aware that, oh, gosh, I've been rambling for about five minutes now for one question.
[00:27:11.210] – Allan
I'm totally cool with that. You guys need to take a potty break and come back in the middle. That's also good. It's here at the podcast. You can hit pause.
[00:27:19.910] – Alan Aragon
Great. Yes. Dear audience, you may take a break. Yeah. The concept of muscle protein turnover. You have two sides of this cycle. One side is muscle protein synthesis or the build up side, and then muscle protein breakdown, which is the catabolic side. So this cycle is a perpetual thing that goes on in the body on a 24 hours basis. And so when muscle protein synthesis is equal to muscle protein breakdown, then you're basically just maintaining your muscle, which is a good thing. And then you've got muscle protein synthesis exceeding muscle protein breakdown, and then you've got muscle growth. And then you have the loss of muscle when the breakdown side of the cycle exceeds the synthesis side. So that's kind of the idea of muscle protein, what we call turnover. And so for the older population, there is a phenomenon called sarcopenia, and there's even a related phenomenon called sarcopenic obesity, which is sort of a combination of pathology. So sarcopenia is an age related loss of lean body mass. And sarcopenia is underneath the umbrella of a larger phenomenon called frailty, which happens with advanced age, with just a general loss of function that's related to undue weight loss, specifically the loss of lean tissue mass throughout the body.
[00:29:11.450] – Alan Aragon
And under frailty, we've got the loss of muscle tissue, which is sarcopenia. And this is a major problem in the aging population. And a lot of people don't realize that getting enough protein is crucial to successful aging. And that's because as people age, there's not only a tendency to not move around as much, but there's also a tendency to not push and pull and squat as much. So non-exercise activity goes down. Exercise activity goes down as well. And this can be a gradual sort of insidious thing that sneaks up on people where they're just sitting a lot more, lying around a lot more and just not moving as much and certainly not making formal visits to the gym or the track or the field or the pickup basketball game. And what happens is a phenomenon called disuse of the muscle tissue. And there's an interesting thing that can happen where you can take young people and put them on bedrest, and their muscle structure and function will just start to resemble somebody who has aged muscle or almost sarcopenic muscle because you can create muscle that resembles muscle, that is of somebody of an advanced age if you just impose disuse on the muscle.
[00:30:57.990] – Alan Aragon
And so this can happen at the macro level where you're just looking at muscle mass. And it can also happen at the micro level where you impair the so called muscle protein synthetic response, the MPS response to feeding. So in bedridden muscle muscle protein synthesis in response to protein feeding is actually lowered after a relatively short period of disuse. And in older people, this just happens more gradually. And it happens over time because of a gradual progression of disuse. And there are other factors too involved with aging muscle and the deterioration of its structure and function. So protein's role is to make sure that you minimize these age related muscle losses. But just as importantly, protein intake synergizes with resistance training to create an environment that prevents a physiological environment that is not the interior decoration of your home office, but it creates this physiological environment, the combination of protein intake or enough protein intake and resistance training. That combination will prevent muscle loss and can even oftentimes cause muscle gain in folks who really need it. The good news about preventing sarcopenia is that it is possible and it is even possible to reverse the earmarks of Sarcopenia.
[00:32:55.730] – Alan Aragon
And anybody at any age can just start performing resistance training, as long as you do it safely and gradually enough. And then you can get muscle structure and function back. And protein plus resistance training is the recipe for that. And there are other factors, too. You can't just do it on no calories. You have to be eating enough calories, because the recipe for muscle growth really is enough protein, enough calories, and then make sure your resistance training. So that is the role of protein and the importance of it. When we're talking about muscle protein turnover and how it relates to aging and with the older population, their dietary habits are really kind of crappy in terms of achieving enough total daily protein. So it usually begins at the first meal of the day where a significant amount of protein or any real amount of protein at all is basically neglected. And then lunch has a moderate ish amount of protein, and then dinner will contain a substantial hit of protein. But by the end of the day, you're really looking at sort of like one and a half meals that have enough protein to total by the end of the day in order to make sure that this particular population is getting enough protein, let alone are they resistance training.
[00:34:32.770] – Alan Aragon
So let's imagine they are resistance training. There are still challenges to getting enough protein in the older population because the total amount that you need to consume is usually about 50% to 100% more than what's typically ingested. And it's not the easiest thing to tell somebody who's in his fiftys. Sixty s, seventy s. Hey, bro, you need to double your protein intake and you need to start weight training.
[00:35:03.090] – Allan
I have that conversation all the time. So yeah, okay. That's why we're having this conversation. Now, your publisher, because you brought it up. I'm familiar with your publisher because I've had lots of their authors on they tend to be in the Keto space. They tend to be in the low carb space, from my experience. And you did start talking about Keto. So I was actually when I got this book, I was like, oh, flexible dieting. And then this being a predominantly Keto publisher, maybe they're branching out and that's good. But I was almost expecting a Keto book, to be honest with you. So I was kind of surprised we didn't get into Keto. But then you did. And then I was not surprised why we didn't get into Keto, particularly if you start looking at what the goals are here, which is to gain muscle, to increase strength, to improve endurance. As you said in the subtitle, was it optimal physique performance and health? And you pretty much did in the book talk about how Keto works within all of those realms. Could you kind of go through that with us?
[00:36:13.920] – Alan Aragon
Yeah, sure. And before I go into that, I just realized I needed to quickly answer the hierarchy of importance with protein. So with respect to protein intake, there is a hierarchy of importance that's worth touching upon. And of most importance with protein intake is total daily amount. That's tier number one. And then the next tier down is the distribution or the pattern of protein doses throughout the day. That's of secondary importance to the total amount that you have by the end of day. And of least importance, there is the timing of protein relative to the training bound. And so, Interestingly, we could go into an hour on each one of those tiers.
[00:37:07.140] – Allan
Yeah. And you do. And that's the cool thing in the book is you literally do talk about the science behind, because I get the question, should I be doing a protein shake after my workout? Do I have that 1 hour window? All those questions are actually answered in your book with citations, lots of citations, lots of evidence, lots of science. Again, you've answered the question and you answered over and over, depending on what the goals of the person training are. So the hierarchy is important, but the core of it is get enough, get enough throughout the day, and then the rest of it will take care of itself, particularly for those of us over 40, if our training volume is not professional caliber, those other two tiers actually mean a little bit less than they would otherwise, in my opinion. But the sign says get enough. That's the first tier. Get that done. And for a lot of us, that's a struggle because it's in our food. But many of people are trying to do multiple things at once, trying to lose weight, trying to eat a certain way, trying to live our lives, and having ready protein when packaged snacks are a little bit easier.
[00:38:24.030] – Allan
Sometimes not so easy. But you do dive into this deep. That's why we're scratching the surface here and get into the book, because the science is there. The advice is there. The actual grams are there. It's all in there.
[00:38:40.720] – Alan Aragon
Yes. If anybody listening to this episode wanting to know, well, then how much protein do I take? I can give you a gram number, but do you know how to translate those grams into chunks of food? Well, some of you do. And for those who do the gram amount, that kind of encompasses what most people require to optimize their total daily protein intake is somewhere between .7 to 1.0 gram/lb in quotes, ideal body weight or target body weight. And I say that because if somebody is obese and they base their protein intake on their total body weight, they will be consuming an unnecessarily high amount of protein in a lot of instances. So protein targeting would be based on target body weight or goal body weight. So that's zero, .7 grams to 1.0 target body weight. So for those of you listening who are dying to know what's the sweet spot? Total daily protein. Well, that's it.
[00:39:52.660] – Allan
[00:39:54.410] – Alan Aragon
Okay. So on the keto.
[00:39:55.710] – Allan
Yeah. Let's jump into keto.
[00:39:57.200] – Alan Aragon
With keto. Keto is an interesting thing because it works very well for weight loss. And the caveat to that statement is it works very well for a temporary period for most people who try it. And that's because there appears to be a general inability to sustain strict keto, which by most definitions is 50 grams or less a day of carbs. Most people cannot sustain that for the long term. And the people who try to, their carb intake ends up roughly tripling over the course of a year of attempting keto. So it ends up tripling from the original assignment of eating less than 50 grams a day. And so that is the main issue with keto is that it works really well for fat loss and weight loss. And the way that it works for those things is that it removes a lot of options, a lot of food options. And the options it removes usually are foods that are hyperpalatable carbon fat combination foods that are very easy to over consume. And so when you remove those options, you simply are defaulted to eating less total calories by the end of the day, end of the weekend of the month.
[00:41:35.570] – Alan Aragon
And so there's a lot less variety in the diet. There's a lot less opportunity to overeat in the diet. There's a lot less motivation to sit there and overeat your fatty piece of meat. So that's how keto works. Of course, the problem is most of the majority and I can't put an exact number on what that exactly means. But more than half of the subjects who get on keto end up reaching the upper limits of keto by six months, certainly by twelve months. So for those of you who are on keto and have been on it for a few years and love it, and that's the way you do it. I don't care, man. That's great. You found what works for you. That's wonderful. But my issue with keto is when people go around saying that keto is the best keto superior, keto does special things, and it's actually a double edged sword to keto. When you look at long term health and when you look at the optimization or the protection of cardiovascular health, because with keto being a high fat diet, you're looking at 65% to 85% of the diet coming from fat, then you better be pretty Dang careful about the type of fat that you're eating because that's the predominant source of calories in your diet.
[00:43:04.050] – Alan Aragon
And if all you're eating is land animal fats all day mixed with there are other crappy kind of vegetable based fats as well, then you're setting yourself up for dyslipidemia and then the development of cardiovascular disease and then potentially cardiovascular events. So it can be a double edged sword but the thing about keto and the good thing about keto is while you're on it, you're probably going to be losing weight.
[00:43:36.170] – Allan
And I kind of put this in that continuum of dietary control as keto fits in the kind of the rigid range. And it is something that you do have to manage because from a nutritional perspective, if you're not eating certain vegetables, as you mentioned, if you're eating certain foods and excess to try to make that happen because keto didn't get the nickname of being the bacon diet for no reason, people were like, oh, sure, you can eat all the bacon you want. And that's not really the right way to do keto. And keto is a way of eating. I use it. I use it as a tool. It's a temporary tool. Like I said, for a period of time I can get over into the rigid mind frame and mindset, and it works fine for me. But when it comes to wanting to put on muscle to get stronger, keto might not be the best approach for us. And surprise, endurance athletes might not do well on keto either.
[00:44:32.690] – Alan Aragon
Yeah, that's definitely true. And that definitely is what the research evidence shows. So the collective literature on keto and performance is that it's a bad bet for that. But that's not too far fetched when you consider that athletic performance is really a carbohydrate based thing. It's based on the availability either from what you ingest around training or from what you store in your muscles. So glycogen being the stored form of carbohydrate, if you are under fueled from a carbohydrate perspective, that will always compromise the potential for maximally performing. Now there are alter endurance athletes who try to lowball their carbs, and that's fine. But they are more the exception than the rule in terms of the elite in that area and even the ultra endurance athletes who have done really well and claim to be low carbing when you look at their actual programs, they're consuming carbs throughout the race, so they just happen to be consuming less than what's normally recommended by the major organizations. So keto is something that if you have a lot at stake in terms of trophies or medals or endorsements and stuff, then you're not going to be a keto athlete who is compromising or jeopardizing his or her potential for maintaining that elite status.
[00:46:22.910] – Alan Aragon
It just doesn't happen. Now, if you're a weekend warrior or a regular guy just trying to look good at the pool or the beach or at the high school reunion, then under carving is not an issue. If you want to do good at the weekend soccer game, you might be compromised a little bit by being on keto, and you might not make the score the most amount of points out of the rest of your buddies. But it's not that big of an issue. Where keto becomes an issue with athletics is at the elite level and the professional level, you're not going to see many pro athletes at all even going near Keto because it's a liability.
[00:47:07.430] – Allan
Yeah, I think where you kind of hit the road, the rubber hit the road for me when we were talking about endurance was I think a lot of us look at endurance and think of it as a, oh, I'm going to start with this pace and I'm going to run that pace for the entire part of the race. But for most people that have done any competing at all, they know there are periods of time when you're going to try to go a little bit harder, a little bit faster. For a lot of us that are just recreational athletes, that's once you see the finish line and it's right there, you're going to try to sprint to the end. And the reality of it is you may not have the kind of gas you wanted to have during some of those sprints or faster bits of work because you don't have the muscle likage and necessary to make it happen.
[00:47:52.130] – Alan Aragon
Yes, that's correct. And it's those moments that separate the top finishers from those who don't place. It's the so called race winning moves being climbing uphills either running or cycling, passing that ending sprint towards the finish line is going to be a high intensity effort. And so those who are under carb simply do not have the biochemical reserves required to power those race winning moves. And, yeah, it can make the difference between winning and losing.
[00:48:32.870] – Allan
Now, there was one other thing that you had in the book that I could not leave without talking about because to me, this solved kind of a question I had because you're trying to work with a client or someone's trying to work with themselves. And they're like, well, I'm trying to chart my calories and my macros and my food. And like you said, they've got that app. And they're like every day, every day they're in the app. And then in the end you're like, okay, well, How'd you do today, How'd you do today, How'd you do today and one bad day, then kind of can become this bad cycle, particularly for individuals who've struggled in the past. So if you've gone through something and you struggle and fail, you work and fail, and now you're trying this again. But this quick single digit adherence rating system, I think this could be the key for a lot of people that have struggled with that start and fail cycle that they go through every time. So if you get nothing else from this flexible dieting book, I think this system is key. Could you tell us about this system?
[00:49:44.290] – Alan Aragon
[00:49:44.700] – Allan
How it works?
[00:49:46.190] – Alan Aragon
Yeah. This is something that I put together and started implementing back in 2005, 2006. And it first appeared in the self published book I did in 2007. And I used to call it the calendar method, where you just write a number down from one to ten where you're basically rating your performance or your adherence or compliance to the program, with ten being perfect. And so when the calendar is up on your wall and you're seeing a bunch of eights and nines and tens, and inevitably you see progress at the end of the month. So you are marching towards your goals. Whereas if you see just a bunch of five, six, and seven s littering up the month, then you have a sense of self accountability and a sense of awareness of why your progress is not happening. And so this real quick self grading system on a scale of one to ten, how good did you do? The fact that it takes like 1 minute to think about and write down the number was kind of a big win because people, well, clients who hated taking detailed records, they loved this method as long as they could be honest with me and honest with themselves about their performance.
[00:51:12.120] – Alan Aragon
On a scale of one to ten, it just took them 1 minute or less. It took them 10 seconds to think about how they did and write down the number and send it over. And nobody's going to be sending over nines and tens and then at the end of the month wondering what the hell happened. It just doesn't work like that. When you can establish a certain level of trust with yourself or with your clients, then they really can't. Once they're familiar with the program, they know whether they're following it or not. A lot of times with people that they're very honest about why they're failing at programs, they're like, I know what to do, I just don't do it. And you know what? That's true. So let's see if we can establish some accountability here that you can either have with yourself or with your coach or your practitioner, your dietician, your trainer, and let's just do a self grading system. I call it the accountability rubric, where it's one to ten. And over the years towards the 2010, I developed a way to make that rubric, that one to ten scale a little bit more concrete.
[00:52:36.840] – Alan Aragon
So it's more of a checklist. It evolved into being a checklist where there's ten specific points or tasks that you need to have completed throughout the day in order to grant yourself that number. And if you hit all ten of those things, which could be drink enough water, get enough sleep, get enough protein, eat two to four fruits a day, two to four servings of vegetables a day down the line, ten things, ten healthy things, then give yourself the ten if you got all ten and so on and so forth. And so that made the accountability rubric a little bit more real and a little more concrete for people to kind of think about. But at the same time, it still took about 25 seconds to look down the list and see whether you hit all those checkpoints, and then you can take a look at the month. If it's littered with eight, nines, and ten s, you're going to be reaching your goal. I'm glad that you found that system helpful, and there's a bunch of different things like that in the book that I hope that the readers will resonate with at least one of them.
[00:53:51.510] – Alan Aragon
But yeah, this is something that I've used pretty extensively in my practice.
[00:53:58.810] – Allan
Cool. Even doing it for yourself. It's just to say if I want to start implementing a new habit, a new action, I want to get better sleep, more sleep. It's a one to ten. It's a simple thing. You wake up in the morning, how is my sleep? And guess what? They still sell paper calendars. You can still buy them. You can still have one of them, and you can still sit there and look and say, okay, if I'm not doing better than a six or seven, what's going on? You can catch yourself pretty early in the month. As you start seeing that slide, it's like, okay, what am I doing here? That's not helping me do this, because I know this action gives me the result that I want. Like I said, I really appreciate that tool. And there's like you said, a lot of that just good stuff in there. I told you before the call, I could spend two, three days talking to you about this.
[00:54:55.420] – Allan
[00:54:57.490] – Allan
Now, Alan, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
[00:55:08.330] – Alan Aragon
The first one, this might be really cliche Allan, but get enough sleep, get enough good quality sleep. And per the scientific literature, it is a low probability that you're going to be optimizing your health if you consistently dip far below 7 hours. And I know a lot of healthy people and people who are just very vigorous getting five, 6 hours a day. But that's them. And that's how they're wired. And that's how they're built. And per the scientific evidence, they're not in the majority. So statistically, at the population level, you would want to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night or at least try to. And if you're not one of these people who can and you feel amazing with that 6 hours a day, great, fine. But just know that statistically people sleep is optimized at seven and up. And so that would be the first. The second thing would be, for God's sake, lift stuff if you can. And it doesn't have to be Olympic lifting and powerlifting and bodybuilding and flexing in the mirror between sets like you and me, people can do activities that do involve resisted joint movements that aren't necessarily at the gym.
[00:56:42.770] – Alan Aragon
They're not necessarily in the weight room where you're fighting for spots with the gym Bros. A lot of people are intimidated by the word resistance training. They're just picturing barbells and dumbbells flying around. But any kind of movement that you can just involve your joints with resisted movement. There's a million resources and ways to do it. You can go outside and do it. You can go to a park and do various things. It doesn't have to be at the gym. Get resistance training in your life. Get enough sleep. Make sure you get resistance training as a foundation, as a non negotiable part of your training. Some people think that all you need to do is go for a bunch of walks throughout the week and you're good. Well, okay, as good as walking is, that's not going to save you from sarcopenia. That's not going to save you from the ravages of aging. That's not going to allow you to age, amazingly like Allan Misner. So what people need to realize they have to do a certain amount of pushing and pulling and maybe some squatting or some at least leg extension and hip extension and things to stimulate the lower body on a resist basis, whether it's more primal and organic type of movement outside or whether it's in the gym.
[00:58:08.330] – Alan Aragon
So I'll be number two. The third one, eat the foods that you personally like most. Forget about whatever diet book is telling you are the super foods that everybody needs to eat. That's just a load of baloney, really. If you take a survey of all the centenarians in the world and super centenarians, they all eat different foods. They all have a different list of favorite foods, and almost all of them list a bunch of crap they include in their diet every day too. But yes, stick with the foods that you enjoy personally, because there's psychological and physiological signature reasons why you gravitate towards those foods. And we as humans are not completely devoid of any instinct. We have a feel for what we like, and there's good reasons for that. So you will be able to stick to your diet long term if you stick to the foods that you like within a healthy eating pattern. Right? I'm talking about foods within the food groups and you should be getting the food groups. So those would be my three if I could boil it down to three. And I guess maybe if I may add a little sub thing under the eat the foods that you like.
[00:59:35.220] – Alan Aragon
Eat them in the pattern that fits your personal preference and schedule. There's a lot of color blue going around about when you should eat your foods. How much should time restrict the eating window? Can we only eat from 08:00 a.m. to 04:00 p.m. in order to maximize? That's all majoring in the minors. That's not going to make somebody freaking awesome at 70 compared to maintaining their exercise program and a decent overall food selection of the foods that they love. When you eat your foods in the day, that should be determined by how you prefer it. Do you like to eat dinner at 08:00 P.m. Instead of 06:00 P.m.? Cool. Eat it now. Do you like to have a pre bed snack? Great. Have that. Do you like to skip breakfast? Is that how you function best?
[01:00:31.400] – Alan Aragon
Cool. Skip the hell out of breakfast. It's not going to make or break you. There are very silly books going around saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and you have to stop eating, x foods or stop eating carbs that you have to make sure you don't eat like 3 hours before bed. That's a load of crap, Allan. And I can't emphasize that enough how trivial that advice is in the big picture.
[01:00:59.390] – Allan
[01:01:00.100] – Alan Aragon
My advice is do what you can stick to within the context of an overall healthy selection of foods.
[01:01:09.800] – Allan
Great. Thank you for that. If someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about your book Flexible Dieting, where would you like for me to send them?
[01:01:18.410] – Alan Aragon
AlanAragon.com. And then we've got the various links to my stuff. So I have a research review as well, a monthly research review for the nerdy types who like to really dig into the details. And then I've got my book Flexible Dieting, that's going to come out on June 7, but it's available for preorder, as you and I are speaking.
[01:01:46.430] – Allan
But this episode is going to drop on June 7th. So, yeah, the book is available now wherever you want to get books. You can also go to his website alanaragon.com, if you go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/541 I'll be sure to have links there. So, Alan, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
[01:02:05.030] – Alan Aragon
You got it, Allan. And you as well. Thank you so much.
[01:02:15.930] – Allan
Hi, Rachel. How was that interview?
[01:02:18.070] – Rachel
Oh, my gosh, it was great. It was really interesting because right at the very beginning you drew me in with the title of the book Being Flexible Dieting. But the $64,000 question, how do you stick to a diet? Isn't that the question of the year?
[01:02:34.560] – Allan
Yeah. Well, he went to a publisher and sometimes publishers want to change the name of a book. You might think this is the name of the book. So there was discussion about flexible dieting in the book. In all fairness, it was a part of it part of the conversation, which is an important part of, like you said, sticking to a diet. But really, what this book is about is about nutrition for performance or physique.
[01:02:59.760] – Rachel
[01:03:00.760] – Allan
And health. So it was science based, meaning he went to the science, the studies that were out there. He didn't pick a side of a conversation and say this is what it is based on his beliefs. He literally went through and said, okay, what is out there? Everything that's out there. And then based on what's there, can we draw a conclusion? And in some cases, he didn't really feel like we could. But for a lot of it, he literally would go through and say, okay, based on all these studies, this is what it says. And this is the bet if you want to perform well at strength training, this is what you eat, literally giving you the calories, giving you the macro breakdowns, all of it. The flexible dieting comes around and, okay, that's all good and fine if I know what I'm supposed to eat, but can I stick to it long enough to see that performance improvement? And that's where the flexible dieting comes in of saying, okay, if you're getting the nutrition you need and you've got a little bit of buffer calories in there that you have maybe 90, ten, you say, so 10% of my calories.
[01:04:13.530] – Allan
So I'm going to eat 2000 calories as I'm trying to cut weight of that. Or 200 calories can be, for lack of a better word, crap. It could be chips. It can be a candy bar or maybe half a candy bar, depending on how many calories are in it. But you see where you can go and say, okay, I don't have to eat perfect all the time to see these things. If I go in and I at least know that I'm getting the nutrition that I need, that's the first one. And then second, I'm not just overeating because of these lack of a better word, empty calories. And then the way I would say it is, enjoy the heck out of it. So don't make it just any old candy bar. Make it your favorite candy bar, or make it something higher class, higher end stuff. Don't just drink just any beer. Make it a beer that you're really going to enjoy. That kind of mindset makes it a lot more sustainable.
[01:05:15.120] – Rachel
Well, the other thing that really attracted me was that he said that your calorie deficit doesn't have to be a daily thing as long as you have a calorie deficit over the week or the month or the year that it takes for you to get to your goal weight, if that was the main goal. But yeah, you don't have to be really rigid with your eating rules day by day. So I like that approach.
[01:05:39.610] – Allan
Yeah. Even though there's a lot of things about the human body that are built into the rhythms of a day or a month or a year, the reality of it is there's nothing magic from the calories in a day. You can gain weight in a day. You can lose weight in a day, but you're not going to lose a whole lot, and you're not going to gain a whole lot. If you do notice the scale move any at all really much on a day to day basis, that's mostly just water shifting around. You went pee one more time than you did the day before, you weigh less simple. And so I think the key of what he's talking about there is just know that there's sort of a target of what you're burning doing the work that you're doing. And you don't have to create an accounting system like it's General Electric. You can go through and say, I know these foods. I know this is how my body reacts to it. I know what a serving size looks like. I know about how much. And for many of us, we do eat the same foods as staples on a fairly regular basis.
[01:06:53.050] – Allan
So if you know, okay, this is my dinner. I have it probably once a week. You don't have to look it up every time. You don't have to say, okay, what are my macros? What are my calories? You just know. I'm getting a third of my protein in this meal. I'm getting half of my carbs in this meal, and I'm getting 35% of my calories in this meal. And if you just know those kinds of things, it's just plug and play and enjoy your food and then occasionally flexible. If something happens and you need to be flexible, then just let it go. You're not destroying yourself in a day.
[01:07:27.830] – Rachel
[01:07:29.160] – Rachel
The other thing I really enjoyed was the part about protein and how usually people 40 and over or maybe even 50 and over or even 60 and over have a strange relationship with protein in their diet. It seems like they skip it for the morning and maybe have a tiny bit at lunch and then throw it all at dinner hour when it seems more appropriate to spread it throughout the day.
[01:07:51.510] – Allan
It's easier to get if you spread it. That's absolute truth and unfortunate. Food guidelines, foods that's available, they're highly dense in carbs and not the nutritionally dense carbs, but bread. So there's pizza, there's hamburgers, all those foods. And you say, okay, what's the protein? And they have some protein. But you look at the protein in the cheese and the pepperoni, assuming you even got that on there. How much protein is in a pizza? And I'd say, probably not a lot. I haven't looked it up, but I would say less than 20% of the total calories is coming from protein breakfast cereal. Maybe there's some in your milk if you're even drinking regular milk, because maybe you're doing the soy milk or maybe you're doing the oat milk and you start looking at the protein of that and the protein that was in the cereal. And you're kind of like, okay, 75% of my calories are coming from carbs, 20% from fat, and now 5% protein. So it's almost devoid of protein.
[01:09:06.690] – Rachel
[01:09:07.490] – Allan
And most of us should be eating more protein than we are. It's hard to shift over until you actually make a concerted effort to get protein into every meal.
[01:09:20.170] – Rachel
Well, yeah, exactly. I don't think we don't pay that close attention to how we eat, our habits of our eating. And if you're in a habit of having cereal for breakfast or a sandwich or something at lunch, you just don't notice that you're not getting the adequate amount of protein probably. The other thing he mentioned, too, was the ratio for how many grams of protein per body weight. He mentioned that it's not the body weight that you're at, it's at your goal body weight for the purpose of weight loss, which that is something I don't know that I paid attention to. I don't know that I've heard it like that before.
[01:09:59.850] – Allan
Well, yeah, because what they would typically base it on is they would say your lean mass. So what you're thinking in terms of this, let's say you're at 30% body fat and you want to get down closer to say 20 or 15. Okay. Then you're going to want to lose the body fat. And if you were to do that, you lose that amount of body fat to get down to, you're going to be closer to your lean body mass weight. So realizing now you're carrying less fat. So the way you are is closer to lean body mass weight, particularly if you're like a bodybuilder and you're trying to get down into the single digits, you're carrying very little fat and most of the mass that you have is your lean body. So that's where that number comes from is really just a function of saying rather than think about it from lean body mass. Because for a lot of us, that's hard. Unless you go get a DEXA scan and they tell you your body mass is this amount of fat, you don't know. So it's easier to just base it on where your goal weight would be and just use that.
[01:11:08.140] – Allan
Now that's going to overstate it a little bit from the numbers, but it's not significant. Again, if you're just thinking unless you're trying to go from 50% body fat to 40%, then if 40% is your target, you're going to probably be overeating some protein because that's not really a lean body mass. But you see, for most of us, it's like we want to get down to that 20 to 15 range. So that's where that number is coming in.
[01:11:35.080] – Rachel
Yeah, that was great. It was a great discussion. Really interesting.
[01:11:37.930] – Allan
Yeah. This goes down is so far my favorite book in 2022.
[01:11:43.270] – Rachel
[01:11:44.020] – Allan
If anyone is really looking at improving their performance, I would strongly encourage them to read this book because it's going to give you a formula for how you can eat to optimize your performance. And whatever you're trying to do, get stronger, run further, faster and just look better.
[01:12:02.260] – Rachel
Awesome. Great discussion.
[01:12:04.400] – Allan
All right. Well, I'll talk to you next week.
[01:12:06.330] – Rachel
Great. Take care.
[01:12:07.510] – Allan
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