Category Archives for "health"
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Dr Josef Arnould is declaring war on the Standard American Diet and he needs you to join his American Diet Revolution.
Allan: 02:15 Dr Arnould, welcome to 40 plus fitness.
Dr. Arnould: 02:19 Hello Allan. Thank you very much. It's my pleasure to be here today.
Allan: 02:23 You know, when your publicist reached out to me, American Diet Revolution, I said, okay, something new. You've taken the concept of the American revolution and said we have probably something even more detrimental to, particularly the United States, but all western nations actually in the health crisis that's facing us.
Dr. Arnould: 02:46 Well, I try to make people aware of that, Allan, I just feel I should mention that I have had a clinic for almost 40 years now called strength for life in which I teach people how to exercise well, how to eat well, and if they need chiropractic care, deliver that to them as well. But I really feel that we face a real crisis and over the years, in my experience, people are losing their fitness as they age. And that's, that's really unfortunate. So, for instance, I'll take a patient to whom I might speak, start seeing in their twenties and by the 30s I can already feel on their spinal muscles that they're starting the gain body fat and lose strength. And those are two very disabling characteristics and things that I feel we have to do our best to try to avoid.
Allan: 03:43 Yes, I completely agree. Obviously I'm going to do this podcast and uh, you know, most of the folks that are we're talking to today are going to be in their forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, and above. And they've let some of that stuff go and they've come to the realization, hey, we've got to fix this. But much like the American, or at the time I guess, you know, the colonists had the probably the mightiest army that had ever existed facing them down, which, you know, seems somewhat impossible if you think about it. We've got an opponent in this, this war that is, is even probably more formidable in which you call big Pharmo with a “Ph”. Big Farmo with an “F” and a the medical establishment, they are not helping us at any rate and actually making us worse. And I do agree with you, it's, it's a crisis because what 30 some odd percent of people who are obese and nearly 75% of folks are overweight. We've fallen a long way.
Dr. Arnould: 04:45 We certainly have, let me give you a statistic and I don't want to be labor statistics, but this is when I was in graduate school and exercise physiology in the late 1970 so, and this is from a text book and it said that the average American at that time between the ages of 25 and 55 that is 30 years loses about one half pound of muscle per year. And at the same time the average American gains about one and a half pounds of body fat per year in that 30 year span. So each year it says that we weigh one pound more, which doesn't sound like very much, but at the end of 30 years with that means is by age 55 we have 15 pounds less muscle mass and bone mass. And 45 pounds more body fat. So we weigh 30 pounds more on the scale, but in actuality, we're 60 pounds to the deficits. And that's, those are just statistics. What's really heartbreaking is how disabling this is. And that in an effect, really are our enemy. That which is colonizing us today is obesity. And that is what we all must try to get as much information as we can to confront that challenge and win that fight for our independence. Because if we lose our health, then we lose the freedom of good health. We just can't let that happen. Yeah, as you said, the statistics are staggering now, but here's the reason. Americans are either overweight or obese, two thirds of American adults. That's frightening statistic.
Allan: 06:36 It is. And, but, the cool thing, the good news of this is that this is, this is winnable battle by battle. And so if each of us realizes that we're, cause wars made up of several battles and you're gonna win some, you're gonna lose some. But each of us can win our own battles. And in the book, you give us five armaments. So we kind of have some tools to start facing this, this battle that's in front of us. Can you go through your five armaments?
Dr. Arnould: 07:03 Sure. Allan. And some of these may not. Some of these may seem obvious and some a little less obvious. The first armament by which I postulate we can begin to achieve our independence again, is what I call educating ourselves. And I'll give you a good example. Now, most of us who were 40 or older. Remember the Food Pyramid, which was published in 1992. Now, pretty much 10 or 15 years ago, that food pyramid was abandoned and there is no longer in operation. However, even the food and Drug Administration, which promulgated it originally has abandoned it. But for the past 35 years, I have taken nutritional diaries of my patients and exercise trainees, on a one week nutritional diet. And what I found is most people still eat as though they were following the food pyramid. Well, in other words, they're confused. And that's one reason, the major reason why I wrote American Diet Revolution is to help people not be confused.
Dr. Arnould: 08:11 Because one day we get information that coffee's bad. The next day coffee's in. Um, one day eggs are out, the next day they're in. So I tried to clarify that, but I don't expect people to believe just what I say I want them to, and include myself in this, we need to educate ourselves. We need to read 21st century nutritional dietary advice and nutritional research so that we understand what we're up against when we purchase and foods, the second armament, I call eating for wellbeing. And that's simply applying the information which we derive from our study of nutrition. Now we don't have to become nutritional experts, we just have to bring ourselves up to date. We have to disabuse ourselves of the misinformation to which we were subjected for so long, almost the last 50 years of the 20th century. And for a lot of us, that's a hard thing to do. But when we begin to realize, when we read some of the books of the 21st century, many of which I recommend in American Diet Revolution, then we begin to see nutrition in a different way. And we, uh, we have the ability to alter our own diets so that they foster better health and help us avoid accumulating excess body fat. And I should add losing our muscle mass as we age. The third armament is what I call economize. And by that I simply mean that we, in our society today, there's kind of a movement to get the best deal you can on everything we purchase. Well, we have to be very careful about that with food because it's very easy for sellers of food to manufacture cheap food, which is inexpensive to buy, but in the long run is very detrimental to our health. And I think anyone who's paying their health insurance premium knows that it's a lot more expensive to buy health insurance now than it was 20 years ago. And a major reason for that is the food. So we don't want to necessarily buy the cheapest food, we want to buy the best food. And in the American Diet Revolution, I try to help people begin to understand what qualifies as the best food. The fourth armament is what I call ecologize. And by that I want people to start to look at what we eat and a little broader context. And that means in terms of the environment, what we eat is our internal environment, what we dispose of outside and trash or plastic, that's our external environment. Well, in my opinion and in the opinion of many of the progressive 21st century nutritional writers, a lot of the toxic foods we're eating constitute internal pollution. They're causing havoc inside our bodies just as throwing plastics into the ocean causes external problems. And then the, fifth armament of liberation from, obesity and the loss of muscle mass is exercise. And of course that's my own prejudice. But I can tell just from talking to you and listening to your other podcasts that you are a strong advocate of exercising, not less as we age, but actually more and more intelligent. So those are the five armaments that I feel we can use to liberate ourselves from the obesity causing foods that we've been consuming for so long.
Allan: 12:08 Yeah, and you know, as I went through that. I was, I, you know, putting each of them in place and thinking about them, uh, from different perspectives and you know, the fact that they can make processed foods so, so cheaply. Uh, you know, if you made, if you actually made your own, bread, and we'll actually, we'll talk about grains in a minute, but if you actually major own your own bread, you would probably spend on ingredients four or five times what a loaf of bread costs. The reason they can do it is they're putting things in there that are cheaper substitutes for what is real food and that's actually costing you in health. And then kind of beyond that, you can sit there and say, well, okay, so I'm going to eat something healthy. Well, I'm gonna eat some almonds. Well I live in Florida? The almonds are grown in California or potentially somewhere else in the world and they're shipped here. So I'm an effect causing some other things to happen in the world that if I just shopped locally and ate what was in season and you know, it's not wrapped in plastics or shipped in a box. So I'm actually doing these things that are more beneficial to the world in general and I'm getting higher quality food to put in my own body that's more nutritionally dense. It's kind of this win win.
Dr. Arnould: 13:28 I agree Allan. I think you've hit on a very important concept and that is eating more locally grown foods, cutting down on the transportation pollution, but also supporting our local communities. The local growers, especially those who have gone to organic food raising and uh, they, they, they need to be celebrated. They are our local champions. They are the heroes of our local communities. And I think that's part of the whole revolution. If we think back to the American revolution, it didn't start as like a nationwide movement to liberate ourselves from England. It started in local communities where people wanted to exercise their own freedom, their own right to self determination or in the case of Boston, not to pay an excess in tea tax.
Allan: 14:23 Yeah, I think it was probably a lot more than just a tea tax, but that, that was a, you know, that was a good firing, you know, shot. And I think if you're talking to your doctor and your doctor's telling you, you know, you need to lose weight or your blood pressure's too high or your cholesterol is too high, this is your tea tax moment, you know, this is the moment to say, hey, I've got to do something about this. And, you said something that I think was really important in the education piece is that the science that was in place before the 21st century, much of that was, was produced by the sugar industry or by the grain industry or, or whomever. That seem to have a little bit of a bias. And I know now in the 21st century, we have a lot more independent speakers that are coming out and they're doing some really cool studies that are follow ups on what we were told that we should be eating. And that's why we're getting what really feels like conflicting information today in the book. And I don't want you to go through all 15 of them, but if someone was going to go when they're, when they're on Amazon or in your book, can you name a few other books that they should consider looking up as a, as a part of this education?
Dr. Arnould: 15:42 Sure Allan I'd be happy to do that. I think what I advise my exercise trainees to read first is a book by a cardiologist, William Davis called Wheat Belly Total Health. And the reason I think that's important is Dr. Davis reveals some very precise ingredients in, especially in wheats, that we as individuals always assumed were healthy for us, but which when we look at how they're digested by human beings actually cause havoc in our gastrointestinal systems. Now that sounds a little bit heavy handed. The book is actually a lot more practical than that, but if we want to understand why foods that we eat can cause us to become obese or cause digestive problems, I think that's a good place to start. A second book that I think is very important is The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz, which was written in 2014 and the reason that I think that's an important book to read is that it demonstrates why in the 20th century there was so much confusion. Teicholz goes through in great detail, all of the sources of the information to which we were subjected in the 20th century, and she demonstrates very clearly that a lot of that advice was not honest nutritional research. That was research that was bought and paid for, as you say, by the sugar industry or by the grain industry. The reason I think that's important is in the 20th century, we were what I call accept doors. We accepted the information that the US Department of Agriculture gave us in 1992 the the, uh, so called pyramid. We never questioned why the Department of Agriculture, which really isn't a medical or a new human physiology organization, was giving us advice on nutrition. That advice was based upon what was good for the grain industry, not what was necessarily good for us as human beings to eat. So I think that's why I think The Big Fat Surprise is an important book for us to read. And then the third one, and there are many, but the third one that I think is really important is by David Perlmutter. And actually there are two books, one's called Grain Brain and the other is called Brain Maker. And in both of those books he goes into the, the detrimental effects of grains upon our nervous system. Particularly with the fact with the it's effects for causing dementia and Alzheimer's Disease of which David Perlmutter, who is a neurologist, his father who has a neurosurgeon, is a victim of Alzheimer's disease. So we need to understand those things. And I think those three books really crystallized for us a lot of the information that we never thought about before.
Allan: 19:03 Yeah. You know, I think it's easy for us to accept that sometimes, you know, the government's going to get it wrong. Uh, you know, when, when they were saying, you know, it's perfectly healthy to smoke and they were actually giving soldiers tobacco with the rations overseas, creating a whole generation of smokers. Everybody just at that point except that that is okay if our government was still passing out cigarettes to soldiers, people would be in arms and saying you can't teach an 18 year hold. It just joined the army to start smoking by giving them cigarettes while they're out in the field. So now we're saying, you know, now and the book, some of the books you've talked about, they kind of bring to the bare the fact that there were people influencing the decisions and it really wasn't based on science. As the science came in on tobacco, they obviously have come back and told you, you know, hey, don't do this. And we're just now kind of turning around in this century and getting the information that some of these foods are just not what they need to be or they've changed so much since maybe some of the things that we originally were eating, that they're not the same value. You have a pretty interesting quote in the book that I liked is you called grains are the fossil fuels of the human diet and we've talked a little bit about that, but could you just dive just a little deeper and why, why you feel that you know, this is, this is the big industry bad boy in our diet.
Dr. Arnould: 20:30 Okay. Well first of all, approximately 50% of the calories we consume in the United States come from grains, from what I call grain based food stuffs, crackers, bagels, bread, chips, etc. Muffins. And so they are obviously a major part of our diet. And what a lot of people think about, they're carbohydrated based foods that are going to give me energy. And that's true. It does give us energy. However, those foods when they in a sense burn inside of our bodies, when we, they go through the physiology of our digestive systems and produce energy, they also have a lot of residuals and I always compare it to like a burning coal in the basement of your house. Okay. You can do that to keep your house warm in the winter. However, the creosote and the and the other byproducts of combustion of coal are detrimental to your health.
Dr. Arnould: 21:37 Well, in grains and as William Davis points out in weak belly total health, there are a lot of residuals that cause damage, permanent damage in our bodies. One good example is a protein in wheat called wheat germ agglutinin. It's what's known as the lectin protein and is virtually indigestible in the human body and it accumulates. And if we look at what happens with these, these accumulating undigestable proteins, many of them combine with sugars in our bloodstream and eventually end up deposited in areas of our body that we don't want them. In our joints they cause arthritis, in our eyes, it causes cataracts, in our brain they cause dementia. Okay, this is not my finding. This is what science shows. In fact, there is a name for these byproducts of grain consumption and it's called Ages Advanced Glycation End Products. And what that means is this creosote, this abnormal protein from the incomplete digestion of grains, is accumulating in our body and diminishing our ability to function normally. Okay. And again, I mentioned earlier, David Perlmutter's book brain maker, he goes into great detail in describing what ages advanced glycation end products creosote does when it's inside of our body.
Allan: 23:16 I guess the sad part of this, and I'll tell this story, I used bread to gain weight when I was in high school. I was playing football and I wasn't heavy enough. And so bread was my goto fat fattening fuel. I knew that bread would, would basically make me fat. I mean, I knew it would help me put on weight. That was Kinda my thing. I knew that in milk and I just, I drink a lot of milk and I had a lot of bread. But looking back at it, I actually remember symptoms that were a part of exactly what you're talking about of what that bread was doing to me internally. I had those little skinfold thing, a little skin tags all over my back and I now know based on some reading, that was most likely caused by the volume and amount of white bread I was eating during that period of time. And if this has kind of really gets you fired up, I don't, I don't know what will, but if we're ready to go to battle and we've got our armaments in mind, you give us, uh, some principles for eating well because I think for a lot of us that's the easiest change to make. You know, some of us will sit there, you know, Well I have a bad knee or not feeling, you know, energetic and what not, if we change our food, I think that starts the ball rolling on a lot of this stuff so can you go through those principles for eating for well-being?
Dr. Arnould: 24:38 Okay. What I'd like to do Allan, if this okay with you, just to simplify it. Okay. There are two categories of foods which we want to consider for well-being. That is foods that we should eliminate from our diets and well as foods that we should add to our diets, which I call proactive eating. So first the foods that we should eliminate. There are two things that are the most important things to eliminate from our diet because they cause obesity and inflammation. The first one is foods that raise our blood sugar. Now, what foods raise our blood sugar? Well, if many of your listeners know of the glycemic index, that's a rating system developed in the 1980s by which they measured how much certain foods raised our blood sugar levels. Well, for instance, Blood Glucose, they assign the number 100 now the table sugar that we some people have on their tables, the white sugar that has a glycemic index of 59 so that means relative to blood glucose, white sugar will raise your blood sugar about 60% as fast as pure glucose. Now, here's a real staggering statistic. Whole organic wheat. What's the glycaemic index of that? 72! whole organic wheat will raise your blood sugar higher, faster, and longer than table sugar. Okay. What's the glycaemic index of oatmeal? 66 okay, got oatmeal, which most people, many, many people eat today. Their breakfast and consists oatmeal, raisins or bananas, a glass of orange juice and a piece of toast will raise your blood sugar higher, faster and longer than eating white table sugar. Okay, so we know just from science, not from fact or not from a food pyramid, that eating grains is going to raise our blood sugar levels. Now, what happens when that occurs? It causes the release of the hormone insulin. Insulin, as many people know, is what's associated with diabetes and those who lose the ability to manufacture insulin in their body become diabetic. Well, it's very clear that we need to avoid eating foods that raise our blood sugar because it causes the release of the hormone insulin and eventually we lose our ability to manufacture insulin ourselves or ourselves become resistant. Insulin insulin when it's released in the blood also has two other bad effects. It causes two hormones. One is leptin, which is the one that tells our brain, well, I've had enough to eat. It's time to stop now. That hormone is suppressed, so we continued to eat. We have one Bagel, uh it feels like I should have another one. And then the second hormone that insulin suppresses is Glucagon. And Glucagon is the hormone that tells our fat cells, okay guys, let's release some stored body fat for energy. So foods that raise our blood sugar are very detrimental and the champions of that are grains, especially wheat, corn and oats. Okay. Second thing we need to eliminate from our diet principles of eating well are foods that cause inflammation of the gut. In other words, they cause indigestion, gas, inflammation of our small intestine, ulcers, etc. What foods are champions of that? Well, the champion of all is wheat, why? Because there are indigestible proteins that ferment in the small intestine and cause gastrointestinal problems. So those are the two things we need to eliminate from our diet. But just as importantly, we need to add some good foods to our diet that haven't been there. Now, one of the premier examples of that in what I call proactive eating are foods that have beneficial bacteria. We have in our digestive system in our colon at any one time, somewhere between three and a half and five pounds of bacteria. We coexist with bacteria and have for about, at least since we've been homo sapiens, which is 200,000 years, but scientists can really take it back about 2 billion years. But the point is, those bacteria in our gut are essential for our lives. Okay? We don't operate efficiently. We don't digest food well. We don't stop viruses as well if we're deficient in beneficial bacteria, where can we get beneficial bacteria? One of the best places is Sauerkraut or other fermented foods and also eating organic foods. If we eat organic foods, they have a lot of these beneficial bacteria in them. If we eat foods that have been subjected to herbicides and pesticides in the field that killed a lot of the beneficial bacteria, so we become deficient in the bacteria we need to function normally as human beings. Okay? And then, uh, another example of proactive eating is making sure that we get the essential nutrients that we need for energy. And one of those essential nutrients are good fats as for instance, in Avocados or in egg yolks. And a lot of us have been brainwashed over the years to avoid fat to get, if you remember back to the eighties, seventies, they, they sold skim milk or low fat yogurt or Nonfat Yogurt. And still today you can get many of those products. But those products actually deprive us of the energy foods we need in order to function optimally as human beings. So those are just a couple of examples of foods that we should add to our diets and a couple of foods that we should, types of foods that we should eliminate from our diet.
Allan: 31:27 And I think that's really simple as you know, let's start cutting out the foods that are not serving our purpose, that are causing inflammation, that are causing excessive insulin release into our blood and causing problems. And that's why we have the weight gain. Also adding the foods that are going to give us, and like you said, that the good bacteria and the proper nutrition to make sure that our body has the building blocks and the energy to do what we do on a day to day basis. A lot of folks will sit there and say, okay, I'm going to make this change. And they start making the change and then this little problem called willpower starts to, starts to get in the way and it gets nighttime and they're like, you know, I just, I still want my little chocolate ice cream or, uh, you know, I want my little, little Debbie's cake at night or whatever. Whatever your thing is. For me, it would be a peanut M and. M's if they were in the house, um, I would, I would have some probably every evening. It's very hard for me to avoid them. There's actually some in the house right now and I've been avoiding them like the plague. I hit him in the Pantry so my wife can get them when she wants them, but I don't want them out. You have some tips in the book to help us avoid nighttime sweets.
Dr. Arnould: 32:37 Yeah, I'm glad you brought that up down. That's, that's good. Because we all face that challenge at the end of a day, maybe not feeling quite satisfied with all of the things we'v eaten or probably also staying up a little later than we should and getting the munchies. So one of the things that I've found over the years and helping my patients and exercise trainees with this problem, and it can be quite honest with myself too, is what I call the six nighttime weapons of fat mass destruction. And what they are is little techniques to not to deprive us of of food at night, but to alter the way in which we face our snacks. Okay. So let me just give you a couple of examples of the six nighttime weapons. The first thing we can do is after dinner, a lot of times after you've had the main course, you went, ah, I really shouldn't eat something sweet, but I just feel on the tip of my tongue I feel like it should have something sweet to kind of complete the deal here.
Dr. Arnould: 33:45 So one technique, I've tried this myself and it and it will work, and that is to have something sour right away. And the best, what I often do is just to have two tablespoons of Sauerkraut or a sour pickle. Now that sounds kind of crazy, but when you get a sour taste in your palate, it sometimes suppresses or even removes the, the desire to have something sweet. So instead of, you may want to have another pickle but that's not a problem or another, um, taste of Sauerkraut, but those foods of course are not going to cause us to put on body weight. The last thing we want to do is eat a lot of calories late evening that will then sit there over night while our foods should be digesting.
Allan: 34:40 And it's very hard to eat too much sauerkraut. I mean…
Dr. Arnould: 34:45 That's true and very, very good point. Now the second a weapon of fat mass destruction is what I call herbal teas. Now you could have black tea too, but that might keep you awake. And herbal tea is just usually made with herbs from botanical plants and flowers. And if you can find the tea that really pleases your palate. It will oftentimes satisfy that. Now in my own case, my favorite is licorice tea because it is sweet and um, sometimes, you know, just having licorice tea is just enough to really satisfy my desire for something very sweet. But other people may find a sour herbal tea. I think there's one called by celestial seasonings called Red Zinger. And uh, again, that will create a different, it's gives you a lot of flavor and I'll a lot of water at the same time. So it's kind of fulfilling and it, and it distracts you from wanting to get a dish of ice cream or a piece of cake or pie or something like that or some M&M's. The third weapon of fat mass distraction is having a good fat. Because a lot of times what we want is something that's flavorful and fat can often satisfy our pallets and not raise our blood sugar, whereas obviously sweet foods would. A good example is what are called high cacao chocolate. Now you can buy bars now that are up to 95% chocolate. To me that's a little bit too much. It's almost tastes like the Baker's chocolate that I tried to steal from my mom's cupboard and found out it was very bitter. But uh, there are the grades from about 60 to 65 to 70 to 75 to 80. And you can work your way up into the 90s. And the higher the Cacao content that is the more chocolate, the less sugars in them. A good high cacao content chocolate bar might be 85 or 90% cacao and have only two or three grams of sugar in half of a large bar. So that's not going to raise our blood sugar. So that's a good alternative, especially if you can kind of put it on your tongue and just savor it for a while. Another good example is dried coconut flakes or just fresh coconut. It has a sweet taste. It's very chewy and has a lot of beneficial fats in it, so it's very satisfying. Plus you have to chew it forever. By the time you get to have a few pieces of fresh coconut, uh, your jaws have had a workout and you don't really feel like eating too much more. Now, if all those tactics fail, then we can bring on the heavy artillery. One thing that I used to do in college when I had the munchies at night is I go in and I brush and floss my teeth. And just the onerous task of brushing and flossing my teeth made me much less likely to eat something else cause I didn't want to have to do it again before I went to bed. So there's kind of a disincentive in there to eat more than I should lay on. Now. if all those fail, the next thing we can do in the evening is to take a stroll. Ideally it'd be right after dinner. If we're exercising very lightly or even if we've eaten a little too much or a little bit more than we should, our blood sugar levels don't rise quite as high because we're using some of that blood sugar immediately to contract the muscles in our legs so that we can walk. So the old English tradition of a, of a walk after dinner has a lot, makes a lot of nutritional sense and it's an important weapon. And then the sixth weapon of fat, Mass Distraction. And that's a hard piece of advice to follow and that is to go to bed. If we stay up too late, we're going to get hungry, we're going to eat more than we should. If we're asleep, we can't be eating things. And you know, I know it takes discipline, but we all probably in our modern crazy society need a little more sleep than we give ourselves. So if we go to bed a little earlier or we don't stay up later than we should, or stay on the computer longer than we should, and we go to bed, we're less likely to eat foods that are going to raise our blood sugar and cause us to store body fat. So those are the six nighttime weapons of fat, mass destruction
Allan: 39:39 And those are, those are, those are great tips. Each and every one of them. You're going to find one of those that works for you most of the time and then you can always fall back on some of the others. The walking is definitely one of my favorites because there's actually scientific studies that have shown that if you do a short walk after a meal, your blood sugar doesn't raise as much. And a lot of that has to do with, like you said, the insulin, your blood. It's also responsible for shuttling the sugar, blood sugar into the muscles and the liver. So if you're using some of that glycogen, you're signaling to your body, hey, let's put it in the muscle first and then, and then we can store the rest of it. But if you haven't eaten that much to raise your blood sugar that high, that short walk, we'll do a lot to balance you out.
Allan: 40:28 So Dr. Arnould, I define wellness as being the healthiest fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
Dr. Arnould: 40:40 Okay. Um, well, we've talked about some of them. Um, I would say that first and most important one is to exercise. And I say that because I think in our modern technological world, we exercise far too little. Now, I talked a little bit about obesity before, but the other part of that equation when we lose a half a pound of muscle between the ages of 25 and 55, every year, a half a pound of muscle. And by the way, 40 is the mid point in that time. So those of us who are listening, because it's a 40 plus podcasts, take that to heart. 40 is kind of the turning point. That's a time when we can, uh, begin to make a change for the next 60 years of our lives hopefully. Now exercise in general is very important, but I think the thing that a lot of people are aware of this now, is strength training.
Dr. Arnould: 41:43 When we lose muscle mass as we age, the term for it is sarcopenia. SARCO means muscle. Penia means small and our muscles get smaller and weaker and that disables us. It doesn't allow us to do the things in life that we want to do, like hike, garden or play golf or tennis or that we have to do like shovel snow or rake leaves. So we need to build our strength as we age. And not just in our forties but our 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and onward. So a lot of people have gotten that message and it's very gratifying to see so many people now doing strength training. But that's why I put it in number one. Okay, exercise. Second, and we've already talked about this, and that's eating for wellbeing. Eating foods that enhance our digestive system, that get us the energy we need, the proteins we need to rebuild ourselves every day and eliminating the foods that are toxic to our bodies.
Dr. Arnould: 42:49 And then the third tactic, which, um, and again, I think many of your listeners are already thinking of this and that's what I'm going to call rest, relaxation and loving interaction with those who are around us. Our bodies need rest. We need to get enough sleep. We need to relax a little. But that the third element that there is loving relationships with the people around us. That is something that nourishes our souls and inspires us to keep doing all the things that we do and that we find meaningful in our lives. So those are the three most important tactics in in my opinion.
Allan: 44:01 Okay, well you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/378 forward and I'll be sure to have that link there. So Dr. Arnold, thank you so much for being a part of 40 plus fitness
Dr. Arnould: 44:15 Allan. It has been a delight and I really thank you for all your insightful questions and provocative questions. You really made this a very enjoyable experience. I appreciate it.
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Before we get started today, I wanted to take just a moment to reach out to you and offer this special invitation. I’m opening up my calendar to give you a free 15-minute consult. During this consult, there’s no obligation. I’m there to help you reach your health and wellness goals, so we’ll talk about the things that are getting you stuck. We’ll come up with strategies that will help you be more successful and we’ll look for those little things that you might be missing on your wellness journey. So if you’re ready to do something special before the summer, go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/15min. And I’ll be sure to have that link in the show notes. So, do go to the show notes if you forget this, but it’ll be out there – a free 15-minute consult with me; the same kind of consult that I would normally have with my clients. This one’s going to be for you absolutely free. Go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/15min. Thank you.
We all want to look and feel our best. In her book, The Ultimate Age-Defying Plan, Ashley Boudet helps us use a plant-based diet to slow the aging process.
Allan (2:19): Ashley, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Ashley Boudet (2:22): Hi Allan. Thank you for having me.
Allan (2:24): Today we’re going to talk about your book, The Ultimate Age-Defying Plan: The Plant-Based Way to Stay Mentally Sharp & Physically Fit. I can say I have celebrated my 53rd birthday this year. That term “age-defying” starts to resonate with me as I’m kind of turning onto what I would call the second half of life. Age-defying is pretty darn important.
Ashley Boudet (2:51): Yeah. Well, you’re pretty young. It’s been so much fun writing the book and also learning. And it’s a little bit of a relief, I think, to learn that there are things that we can do to stay young. A lot of people look at me and they’re like, “What do you know about aging?” But I thought turning 40 would be a big deal. And I think that even though I try to ignore age, it doesn’t really matter that much. There was something about it a few years ago that was like, “What’s going to happen?” I thought it would be something big or a big change in it. It really wasn’t.
And I think my fabulous coauthor and I would both agree that we both have felt better later – 40s and 50s and on, than ever. So it’s turned into an opportunity in a way. Sometimes eating well, exercising and all of those things come easier when a person is younger and may have a different meaning when you get a little bit older. It’s more of an opportunity, and what I call it is self-care. We talk about this a lot in some of our classes, that the way we really do see the future of medicine is self-care, is learning to take care of yourself and bringing the power back. And that also includes cooking.
Allan (4:08): That’s what I really like, is your book’s unique in this perspective. I’ve seen doctors that have brought in folks to write recipes for them before, but this is a book that you could naturally tell the book knew what the recipes were because they’d eaten it. It was almost, I’m not going to say a love of food, but it really talked about how you can use food to nourish your body. And we’re going to talk about that acronym in a minute, but that food’s a big, big part of that; in fact, the first part of it. But as you’re going through the book, it was telling you if you’re looking at this stuff and you want to get these nutrients in, here are the recipes, here are the page numbers. Go after it. I thought that was really cool because it wasn’t necessarily a prescription. It was empowering someone, like you said, to do self-care.
Ashley Boudet (5:05): Exactly. As a naturopathic doctor, many times, and even in my early training, I would give people lists of things that you shouldn’t, or ways that you should eat or things that could help to support your body. But I learned that actually knowing what to do with those foods was so huge. Some people had no idea how to even make a food taste good. And Mark calls what he does “food activism”. He’s been in this vegan chef world for a long time and he’s very clear that it has to taste good for anybody to even try it, to even begin to bring vegetables into their life on a regular basis. What we also do in our classes, and we wanted this book to be similar to that, where it’s bringing up the experience of the food and the experience of how these things are medicines and how they work in our body.
Allan (5:59): I was looking at something as simple as wanting to get more dandelion root into my diet and saying it looks different; it doesn’t look like all the other lettuce and stuff that I would normally eat in a salad. How do I put it in there and make it a normal part? Some of that I’ve found works really well with smoothies, it also works very well with a salad. But it is a little intimidating when you’re looking at a particular vegetable that you’ve never cooked with before and saying, “Here’s this big purple eggplant. What do I do with it now?” There are some recipes in the book that will actually help me do that.
Ashley Boudet (6:35): Yes, exactly. And we like to encourage people to use these recipes as what Mark calls a “template”. So, to try this recipe and then to begin to get more creative and to bring in another food. Like if you’re doing a green salad or something with greens, how can I make this work with dandelion? And just to start experimenting more, but to kind of give you a place to start, so you can then have years and years of recipes that you can just come up with yourself.
Allan (7:04): There are 175+ of them in this book. So this is a really good start for anyone that does want to either go plant-based or at least make sure they’re getting more plants in their diet, because I think that’s important for all of us. You have an acronym in the book that I really like. I tend to go towards numbers and acronyms; it’s just something I love. You have a really cool acronym – NOURISH. Do you mind going through each of those pieces and what they mean for us?
Ashley Boudet (7:36): Sure. I love the word “nourish” itself, because I feel like it’s a very rich word. It kind of invokes the idea of really taking care of yourself. We like to simplify things. The book has seven ingredients or less; we want to make things really easy and doable for people. At the same time, the information and the idea of this age-defying plan – we want to keep it as simple as possible and to look at the things that we do every day that we feel could be the most powerful and healing. So, NOURISH is pretty easy to remember. I’ll go through them quickly.
N is nutrition – the basic nutrients that we need for our body to work.
O is oxytocin. And I love that. Oxytocin, not a lot of people know what that is, but it is what they call the “happiness hormone”. There was a study not long ago that I think was pretty widespread out there that was talking about how hugging for I think it was 20 seconds or something – like a long hug – actually would increase the levels of this pleasure or calming hormone in your body. There are so many things that also will increase oxytocin. This is one of the first actual studies that looked at the blood levels of the hormone, but anything that makes you feel good. So I put oxytocin in there, and that can be being outside, talking to a friend, even eating a really delicious meal, laughing, things like that. So, that’s the O.
“Use it or lose it” is all about using your brain and your body in the way that they want to be used. So, challenging yourself, getting rid of that idea that it’s too late to try something new. If maybe you thought you might want to do a triathlon – not that that’s something I would do – but use it or lose it. Always moving your body and never feeling like it’s ever too late. Also, challenging your mind as well. And we go into all of these in more detail in the book, obviously.
R is for relationship, and that is the importance of really nourishing your relationships and nourishing the idea of a connection to a community, to how we contribute to our community and how we share our stories with each other. That can be very nourishing.
I is for intention, and by this we mean knowing what’s important to you in life, having a vision for your life, knowing what you value and making choices from there.
Then the last two – pretty obvious, but super important on the top of my list really, are sleep and hydration. Sleep is the importance of getting your body that downtime to shut down and recuperate. In the book, I have some studies that are really interesting about how sleep helps us to detoxify as well.
And then hydration – this is simply getting enough water. This is something that, living in Colorado in a dry climate, I’m always having to remind people of. But really anybody can benefit from sometimes drinking a glass of water when they’re looking and wondering, “What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I feel well?” in many different ways. Also we talk about with hydration, using water as medicine. So this can be taking an herbal bath or jumping into a cool river and having our circulation react to that and really awakening our nerves and our cells in that way.
So, those are the things that we have learned both separately and together over years that have really helped us to stay healthy; things that are important to do every day. They seem very simple and they’re actually very powerful to us.
Allan (11:32): You put a lot of good detail in the book on each and every one of these; some considerations, some things you can do to get this. I really appreciated that this was not just a, “Here’s the acronym” and then, “Go do these things.” You actually provide a lot of guidance in the book on exactly how to do those things.
Ashley Boudet (11:53): Right. We wanted it to be, one, something simple that didn’t feel too overwhelming for people. We also have one page on NOURISH, so we were hoping that could be something people could take with them at the gym or something, just to remind themselves of what all these things mean.
Allan (12:14): Now, one thing that I have not really talked about a lot on the show, and it was kind of surprising because this is episode 377 – we’ve never really talked about kidney and urinary tract health. As I was reading your book I saw the section on that and I was like, “376 episodes leading up to this, we haven’t had this conversation.” So I was really glad that you got into it. The kidneys, obviously we know they filter our blood. We know that if someone gets diabetes, over time they are very likely to cause damage to their kidneys and perhaps need dialysis. Dialysis shops are popping up all over the country pretty much faster than weight loss clinics are. It’s just surprising to me how many there are now. We are not taking good care of our kidneys.
Ashley Boudet (13:12): Right. I wanted to put this in the book, and it’s kind of a small section in the book. I think from the naturopathic perspective, it’s less strange to talk about the kidneys as really important organs of elimination and balance in our body. Even if you look at Chinese medicine, the kidneys are central to health, and something that’s always looked at and addressed, kind of in a different way in Chinese medicine. I wanted to see what people are dealing with when they’re aging, and surprisingly, chronic kidney disease was one of the top 10. This was from the Council on Aging. I looked at the top 10 things that a lot of people are dealing with with aging, and kidney was number six. So it was right up there with heart disease and diabetes, and it’s because it’s connected to all of these things. In addition, all of these things that we can do every day, like drinking enough water and nourishing our bodies and our cells and exercising – all of these things are going to help to support our kidneys as well. So, the idea that I like for people to keep in mind is, it’s really scary to think of kidney disease. I’m not trying to minimize when someone has a very serious kidney disease, but all of these things that we do every day are also protecting our kidneys.
Allan (14:40): So, in many cases, kidney disease is also a lifestyle disease.
Ashley Boudet (14:45): Right.
Allan (14:47): Okay. Now, I’m someone who enjoys cooking. I probably don’t cook enough meals on my own, but as this is going on now and I’m down here in Panama, I’m going to obviously cook more, primarily because there’s not a huge number of restaurants within the distance and I would get very, very bored eating at the same ones all the time. So, I do tend to cook the majority of my meals. And I do recognize that one of the cool things about that is I actually now know what I’m putting in my mouth, so there’s no extra this or that getting snuck in there that I don’t want in my body. Can you talk about some of the value of when we cook our own meals? What does that do for us?
Ashley Boudet (15:36): Yeah, it’s huge. So, Mark has been teaching cooking classes for many years. And around the same time that I was doing my clinicals and telling people about nutrition and learning everything about nutrition was when I realized people need to learn to cook. I need to learn to cook. Honestly, when I was in school and in a doctoral program and was more stressed out, what really brought me to health, one of the main things was taking the time to cook for myself. It turned into really my time. So when we teach classes, I try to invite people to bring in all of their senses. As we’re starting to sauté the onions, to really smell those foods. And when we’re talking about which herbs we’re using, to smell those as well and to look at them and maybe even get a little bit more quiet and think about where these foods came from. So, using all of our senses and using all levels of experiencing that food is something that you can’t get when you just go and get takeout food or go to a restaurant. Some people talking about the prana in a food, and the prana is a very real thing. It’s the energy and you could say the love that someone puts into the food. That actually helps us with digestion and really contributes to our health as well.
Allan (17:00): What I found is that I get a lot of pleasure out of going to a local market, a farmer’s market, and literally sitting there with the person that grew the plant and asking them about how they grow this. You start seeing them just light up. I think they get more joy out of being a farmer at a farmer’s market than they make profit selling at a farmer’s market, because the food’s cheaper and better there. But you know that they picked this this morning. They got up at 6:00 in the morning to make the 7:00 or 7:30 farmer’s market time. They got up; it’s daylight, they picked it. It’s sitting right there. You take that home, rinse it off, and that becomes part of your dinner that night. To me, it’s so fulfilling to know that literally, this was a growing plant this morning and it’s on my plate tonight.
Ashley Boudet (17:56): Right. Isn’t that beautiful? It’s our connection to nature. Food is our medicine.
Allan (18:02): And it didn’t fly in from Chile. Not that there’s anything wrong with Chile, but that’s a long trip. The organic, locally grown produce is going to provide you better nutrition and you’re going to feel better about it when you’re helping out a local farmer with that purchase. A lot of times when I’m talking to folks, they’re saying, “I really struggle to cook for myself because I just don’t have enough time” or, “This doesn’t work out for me. I go into my refrigerator and there’s nothing there.” Can you give us some tricks – I know in the book you had seven – for meal prep and making it a snap?
Ashley Boudet (18:44): Yes. This is very important because it doesn’t matter what someone else thinks you should do; you have to do whatever is going to work in your life. We’re all busy and life keeps us going and going, so one is to think of it as something that you’re doing for yourself; so back to that NOURISH. I could go through the seven from the basic cooking techniques section, but it has to taste good and be easy and be something that you enjoy. This should be an experience that you enjoy. So some of the quick things that you can do to make sure that you’re prepared for having that good experience and it not being a stressful experience, are to prepare ahead of time, of course. We suggest maybe taking a weekend day and in a relaxing way to plan out a menu for the week and think about where you need to get these foods and what you need for that week, and get that ready. Then preparing ahead of time, and also creating an organized space. Maybe Marie Kondo can help – I know everybody’s talking about her these days. But really having a Zen space, is what Mark says helps so much to be able to make those meals more quickly and to have the preparation process be much more enjoyable. So, having a place for everything, knowing where to find what you need, and then planning ahead are some of the simple things that you can do to bring in both flavor and nutrition. We also have a few recipes in the book on making spice blends. The idea is that you can have different dried spices that you can blend together. You can put together parsley, basil, oregano and some other herbs and make an Italian blend, so we’re going to have Italian night. Or you can put together certain herbs with cayenne, and that can be more like a Mexican flavor or an Indian flavor. You can have those at your hand, and that way you can feel like you’re being more creative, but it’s also not too much work to have to do.
Another thing is – and this is something big that Mark teaches in all of his classes – is the idea of the template. So, the first meal, or some people say, “What’s a go-to meal?” To get nutrition and to also have it be interesting and delicious would be what he calls the “monk bowl”. It’s the idea of a bowl that has a nice balance – so a grain, a green, and a protein. The grain could be quinoa or rice, or even rice noodles or pasta. The green just means any veggies. You want to go crazy on the veggies and have all the different colors that you can imagine, not just green. And then the protein, which can be for a vegan diet something simple, like quick roasted tempeh or tofu, or you can do lentils or beans or something that you can either do in a quick cooker, or even a can or something like that if you’re in a hurry. When you have that base, then you can add extra things. The things that we like to add are some toasted seeds or avocado or something raw, like some raw greens on top, or even sauerkraut or something like that. Those are pretty simple things that you can have in your pantry or in your fridge all the time. And then in a few minutes you can create a really delicious, really nutritious meal that’s not the same as one that you’ve ever had before, because you can mix and match all these ingredients.
Allan (22:27): I liked all of that because this is something like the salad in a jar concept. That’s great, because you could set that up the night before. In the morning when you get ready, you go. So maybe you had the salad for dinner, you had the extra that you put in that jar, and that’s your lunch and you’re set. Now, the one that hit me in the heart that my wife, when she does listen to this episode, she’ll understand – I just mess up so many dishes when I’m cooking. But you guys had the tip in there to try to use the same pan for more than one thing, and a lot of the recipes do exactly that. I thought that was pretty cool, because I’ll go make something and it’d be 15 pans, and forks and spoons and all that dirty. It got me to thinking I am spending time washing these dishes, and in some cases my wife steps in and does that since I did the cooking, but it is time consuming. There are things we can naturally look to that are going to reduce the amount of time. So if time is the issue, you can remove that issue.
Ashley Boudet (23:37): Right. And on other days, when you have a little bit more time, you can make the big mess in the kitchen and make it your art space and go crazy. But on a regular day-to-day, make sure that this can really be a part of your life and not something that you just do every now and then. That’s the person that we were thinking of in this book, and how can we make this as easy as possible?
Allan (23:59): And I liked that a lot of the recipes can be batch-cooked or batch-prepared, particularly with the spice blends. I had never thought of that. My wife thinks I have a spice fetish. We did the move to Panama; I’m throwing out all these spices or giving them away. I just collect spices, because I think they make the meals delicious. As I’m down here in Panama, I have less selection but I’m making it work. Ashley, I define “wellness” as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
Ashley Boudet (24:47): I like that too. I like to break it down into simples. So three things. I’m going to go back to NOURISH, and I would say, nourish your body, one. So this is food, water, movement, challenging – all the things we talked about. Nourish your mind – so your brain, your emotional body – finding joy, quiet, spending time in nature. And then nourish your connections. So, nourish your body, nourish your mind, and nourish your connections. And that’s your connection to family and friends, community, maybe your connection to greater, to all beings that live, and even maybe extending beyond to something greater than yourself, because that’s where we can answer, “Why am I doing all this stuff in the first place?”
Allan (25:38): Those were wonderful. Thank you. If someone wanted to learn more about you and Mark, learn more about the book, where would you like for me to send them?
Ashley Boudet (25:50): Mark and I together is Doctor and Chef, so our website is DoctorAndChef.com. And on that website you can find where to find the book, more information about the book, and we have some resources that are downloads and different information on certain topics that we talk about in the book that we go more in depth on.
Allan (26:11): I liked that there were a good many links to the resources section to dive deeper. The book is a great resource in and of itself, but you have some add-ons that they can go find. So the name of the book is The Ultimate Age-Defying Plan and you can find the links to all of that at 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/377. Ashley, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Ashley Boudet (26:36): Thank you. It was great chatting with you.
Allan (26:43): I really love having conversations with folks like Ashley, where they’re stretching me to learn new things, to focus on things maybe a different way. It’s always great to get guests on the show that teach me something. I’ve really enjoyed this journey of podcasting, where I’ve been able to read all of these great books and have some really cool conversations. And one of the ways I think I can help you is by sharing that with you. If you find yourself stuck, you just want a boost to make your summer awesome – let’s get on the phone. I’m offering a free 15-minute consult. You go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/15min, and that will take you to my Calendly calendar. There you can book a time and we can get on a phone – it’s a Zoom conference line. Really easy, just you and I, 15 minutes. We’re going to set some strategies, we’re going to go over goals, and I’m going to help you make this fitness journey much, much better. So go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/15min. Thank you.
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As we age, managing our hormones becomes more and more important and essential oils might just be a part of the solution. Our guest today is Dr. Mariza Snyder the author of the book, The Essential Oils Hormone Solution.
Allan (1:15): Dr. Snyder, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Mariza Snyder (1:19): Thank you so much for having me. How are you?
Allan (1:21): I’m doing very well. When your publicist Jimmy reached out to me any had the book, The Essential Oils Hormone Solution, I did a little bit of a double take. I was like, “Hmm, essential oils and hormones.” I want to have more conversations about hormones, because they are such an important aspect to overall wellness. If you don’t have your hormones in balance, you just aren’t going to be well. But I’d never really heard anybody talking about using the essential oils protocols or anything like that to affect hormones. I was really interested to dive into this book and get a better understanding of how essential oils can be used to help manage our hormones.
Dr. Mariza Snyder (2:03): Absolutely. I’m super excited to talk about that today and give some clarity around that topic.
Allan (2:09): The reason that this topic is so important to me is, as we get into our 50s and 60s, a lot of things are going on with our bodies, a lot of things are slowing down. For men, your testosterone’s going down; for women, your progesterone and estrogen start to decline. And that has some fundamental changes in the way that our bodies function. Not to mention, growth hormone, lower thyroid. Everything else seems to slowly be getting out of balance from what was making us feel young and vibrant. You use a term in the book, and I’ve heard this phraseology maybe not exactly this way, but I want to dive into this. You use the term “my body at war”.
Dr. Mariza Snyder (3:00): Absolutely.
Allan (3:02): Can you kind of peel the layers away from that a little bit? For someone that hasn’t experienced some of this stuff, I think it’s important for them to understand this feeling so that they recognize it. I know for men it happens kind of slowly, so I wouldn’t think of it so much as a war, as just a slow, gradual melting.
Dr. Mariza Snyder (3:25): A slow, gradual decline. I’d love to talk a little bit… When I was in practice, what I saw in practice a lot and then what I had personally experienced – as you know, we are hard wired for survival. That is the number one MO of the body. It’s how our brain functions, it’s what our metabolism is driven by. We constantly think about inside of the brain. A really important aspect of the brain, probably one of the oldest parts of the brain is the limbic brain, the limbic system. Your limbic system is driven by an autonomic response and we have two different ways that we respond. If you’re looking at it cut and dry, it’s going to be parasympathetic, which is rest, digest and reproduction. That’s really where we’re at when we are eating, we’re reproducing. Except the other MO is that not only do we have to survive, we have to survive long enough to procreate. Being evolutionary success means that we have grandchildren – that’s just how it’s defined in biological terms. So, we’ve got parasympathetic and then we’ve got sympathetic. Sympathetic nervous system can be in overdrive. We call it “sympathetic dominance”. And that is when our body is at war, if that system is constantly running on overdrive, because it’s survival. When your body is constantly running in survival mode, that’s where we kind of get in trouble.
I always imagine a gazelle in Africa. You’ll see gazelles grazing inside of a pasture, just relaxing. They’re in parasympathetic mode; they’re just kicking it. Then someone spots a tiger lurking. Everyone gets the message, “fight or flight”, sympathetic nervous system mode kicks in and they start running like gazelles. And once they know that the danger’s gone, then they go back to grazing. Problem is that we are constantly perceiving so many of our environmental stressors as tigers behind us all the time. And when that happens, your brain and that neuroplasticity, which is driving a lot of the hormonal responses, becomes in a scenario of “my body at war”. We are in constant sympathetic nervous system mode and we drive important survival hormones like cortisol and epinephrine coursing through the system. Well, those have negative ramifications – digestive ramifications, reproductive ramifications, cognitive function ramifications. Things like even putting on weight in areas; that belly fat that we talk about. You can create a fatty liver because you’re constantly stressed. You can drive your thyroid into the ground. What I oftentimes see is that I don’t think we realize that when we fuel our life based on stress or the constant demands of everyone else’s priorities, when we’re all things to everybody else, we don’t realize that that fuel we’re running on is really lending towards chaos inside of the body.
Allan (6:25): Okay. I kind understood a little bit of that beforehand because I’ve gone and gotten massages, and the masseuse will occasionally use some oils or scents or something like that, have a diffuser in there. I’ve used some lavender to relax and sleep better. So I have used some essential oils. I like that your book actually has a lot of recipes, because I think that’s going to make it easy for folks to put together as a recipe to deal with various things. But before they go down that line: “I’m fatigued. I know I’m stressed. I know this is going on in my life”, it’s important for them to go get some hormones tested first to know which direction to go with this, right?
Dr. Mariza Snyder (7:12): Absolutely. I’m a big fan of knowing your numbers. I think that’s really, really important. We can make changes and make stride even without hormones if indeed it is stress-driven. We can disrupt this stress response and the resulting domino effect of that with natural solutions at your fingertips. But yes, I do recommend getting tested. If something else is going on, you want to know what’s going on in the body. Absolutely, it’s important. If you find that your hormone imbalances are being driven by a different root cause, like let’s say it is chronic stress – you could work on your hormones and your thyroid all you like, but if you’re not addressing the core root of the issue, which for some of us oftentimes can be the stress we’re dealing with on a day-to-day – our bodies go back to where they were. That was what was happening to me. I was trying to treat my stress with nutrition. I have a quote that says, “You can’t green smoothie your way out of chronic stress.” And I thought I could for many years. I thought I could exercise and green smoothie my way out of it, but it was my, I would call it the “operating system”. I was running on stress 24/7, and without changing the operating system, which I think oils can help to do, we find ourselves back in those patterns.
Allan (8:35): That’s a big driver to our move to Panama, is to kind of get into that lower gear lifestyle. I was corporate for so many years and the last few years with the layoffs and everything was really damaging to me. I knew that was the one last thing I needed to fix the puzzle. I’ve gone to doctors and the doctor will say, “We’ll do labs.” And then you get the labs and start trying to do, I guess a little bit of doctor Googling to figure out what this is actually telling you. You start doing some of that research and it’s like, “I just got this test, but this article is saying I really should have gotten a more broad panel.” Like, you got TSH, but you didn’t get T4, T3 and reverse T3. If someone’s going to go in and put together a panel for hormone testing, what would you recommend that they go get?
Dr. Mariza Snyder (9:34): Absolutely. Inside the book too, I do such a great job of really giving people all the testing that they should be asking for, because as you know, we really have to become our own advocate for our own health these days. There are a lot of different reasons why that’s the case. I would recommend if I were to go into my doctor… And your traditional doctor may even say “No” to these, and it’s really worth looking for a functional medicine doctor or a naturopath – someone who’s really willing to look at everything. Clearly the big one is a complete blood panel. I think everyone should be tested for thyroid. With the thyroid there’s so much that can go wrong there – toxic load, stress, adrenal deregulation. The thyroid tends to be one of those very delicate endocrine glands that just takes a beating. Any autoimmune or allergy issue, the immune system is like, “You know what? Let’s just go after the thyroid too. Why don’t we just knock that one out?” So, I always recommend running a thyroid panel. The thyroid stimulating hormone, free T3, free T4, reverse T3. I also want you looking at antibodies because if it’s hypo thyroid, 80% to 90% of the time it’s probably Hashimoto’s driven, meaning the immune system is causing the problem. So, TPOAb, then the antibodies as well, the antiglobins, so that is going to be the TgAb as well. Then I want you to look at the adrenals or at least look at cortisol levels, and that is throughout the day. So, morning before 9:00 AM, afternoon, evening, and before going to bed. That’s that diurnal cortisol test that I’m looking at. I also like total testosterone and DHEA levels. I think those are important. Progesterone, specifically on days 21 to 23 because that is when progesterone is at its height. That’s when we’ll really know what’s going on with progesterone. I also want to look at estrogen levels as well, see where they’re at. Fasting insulin, glucose, HDL, hemoglobin. I want to look at the growth factor of the growth hormone. And then also important – nutrients. I want to look at vitamin D, vitamin B12, folate, ferritin, iron. Those are things that I want to be looking at as well, because nutrient depletions can have a profound impact on what’s going on with those hormones. So those are the things I’m looking for in a real, comprehensive lab test. Unfortunately, right now a lot of traditional doctors are not running these levels of tests.
Allan (12:16): I actually have an agreement with a lab. I’ll put a link in the show notes for that. You can go and get your own tests and request what you need. And men, you’re not going to see progesterone, so that’s fine.
Dr. Mariza Snyder (12:29): You don’t need to test for that.
Allan (12:31): But you do need to check for estrogen because we can get too much estrogen and then you’ve got moobs and you’re not feeling really manly. So, you do need that. And women, it’s important for you to also test your testosterone, because women do have some and need some to have a good, solid libido. So, I like that list and that’s in your book. Just getting that list makes this book a pretty valuable resource. In the book, you go into the five pillars. Because I come from an accounting background, whenever I see a number, I’m immediately drawn to it, like, “Oh good, a list!”
Dr. Mariza Snyder (13:06): I love a list.
Allan (13:09): So, you have the five pillars of a foundational lifestyle. Do you mind going through each of those?
Dr. Mariza Snyder (13:14): Absolutely. I have, as you mentioned, five pillars, and this is what I’ve learned in practice that really moves the needle. I’m not going to lie, Allan, I feel like a lot of why we can get ourselves in trouble is lifestyle. We don’t realize the implications of lifestyle until we realize the implications of lifestyle. And usually we start to feel those things around 40 years old. I know very often when people were walking into my office, that was when they were like, “Something isn’t right.” Things start to chip away. So, number one, and this is going to be of no surprise to anybody, is nutrition. We know that nutrition is fuel, we know that nutrition is information, and our bodies are taking in that information. So you vote for what goes on and what happens in your body, the conversations and communication that goes on in the body, with every single fork. That is so important, so that’s number one. Number two is exercise, moving your body. The benefits of exercise are so far reaching, but even stress, getting your body out of that “my body at war”, reducing stress levels, supporting the cardiovascular system, helping to boost cognitive function, respiratory system, boosting mitochondrial function. Even having more receptor sites on every cell for your thyroid hormones is important and driven by movement. We are seeing those implications far and wide. Number three is stress management. Stress comes in a lot of forms. It’s perceived, it’s emotional, it’s chemical, it’s physical. But I’m really concerned with the unrelenting perceived stress that we’re dealing with every day and the repercussions that we talked about. Four Is reducing the toxic burden. Recently, in the last six months, I’ve had five friends of mine diagnosed with breast cancer or thyroid cancer under the age of 45.
Allan (15:13): We have a friend that’s going through chemo right now herself, and she’s not even 50.
Dr. Mariza Snyder (15:19): It’s insane. That’s the worst of the spectrum of what happens when toxicity or toxic burden is high in the body. But hormones can deregulate because of toxins; gut issues; even the thyroid. It’s usually a combination of things that are happening with the thyroid, and toxins do play a major role there. So looking at reducing your toxic burden. And then number five, which I think oftentimes is put to the wayside, is going to be self-care. How do we build in self-care every single day? How do we build in the breaks and the pauses so that we can manage the life that we’re living?
Allan (15:59): I just want to say, with something like these five pillars, this is not something where you say, “I’m going to fix the first pillar and I’m going to be good.” The reality is, you need to be working on all of them. They all need to be a part of what your lifestyle is going forward. Anything you can do to improve those, you need to be slowly chipping away at getting that done.
Dr. Mariza Snyder (16:20): And the beauty of it is it really is possible to do each and every one of these things every day. It’s the mindset in which we live. I think about how my day started today. I was using oils, I drank my big glass of lemon water, I made a green smoothie, I went outside and ran. I have a really big hill that I live in, so I even start my day running that hill a couple of times. I journaled in my book. Lunch was a big salad. We made this really beautiful veggie frittata and sauerkraut for gut support. I took all of my supplements. And I have little breaks built in into my phone for those moments to take a pause. So, we are hyper productive over here; yet, all of the decisions I’m making for my health or for my body are based on those five pillars.
Allan (17:11): Yes. I think you have to do that at some level, but they do snowball. That’s one of the cool things about this. If you’re eating higher quality food, you’re going to have more energy. And when you have more energy and you’re moving around, your lymphatic system is functioning better, you’re getting rid of toxins easier. When you get rid of the toxins, you’re sleeping better. And as you start feeling better about yourself, the self-care and the reduction of stress become easier. So, it’s a self-fulfilling, self-building kind of thing here when you are taking the time to make sure you’re focused on these.
Dr. Mariza Snyder (17:48): Absolutely. And I think when you start to feel great and you start to feel good, you really don’t want to regress back. And you’ll notice when you start to not… I know if we’ve taken on a big project or we’re working harder than normal, there are signs and we’re really mindful of those things. So, I’m quick to get right back on track, knowing what it feels like to not be on track. I think sometimes we don’t necessarily know what it feels like to feel really great all the time, or at least a good chunk of the time. But I promise once you get to that place, you’re going to want to sustain it because you’re not going to want to feel anything different than that.
Allan (18:28): I completely agree. As people are getting into essential oils, you’re the second guest. Of 374 episodes, this is the second episode that we’ve had on essential oils. It was really because of the compelling nature of the hormone and essential oils, and I really want to dive into that a little bit. But before we get there, one of the things that I do know from my previous guest is that it’s very important for you to focus on the quality of your essential oils. This is not just to go find a scented candle from Walmart, light it and sit in the bathtub. There are some quality issues from some manufacturers and you really have to know your product. Can you talk a little bit about what makes an essential oil high quality?
Dr. Mariza Snyder (19:18): Absolutely. So, an essential oil once upon a time was a plant. And just like we’re concerned about the plants that we consume, like the blueberries, the kale and the carrots, it’s really important if you want to use these for therapeutic benefits, you have to be really mindful of where these plants come from. You want plants coming from their indigenous location. So for instance, frankincense should come from Somalia or Oman, cardamom should come from Guatemala or the Middle East, melaleuca, tea tree should come from Australia. The province of France and Bulgaria is where lavender should come from. It’s important that there are different parts of the world that only grow these very specific plants. Anywhere else you’re losing the chemical constituents. Let’s give an example of myrrh. A high quality myrrh oil, the sesquiterpene content on that needs to be above 60%. That’s going to be a high quality. Where are we going to get myrrh with a 60% chemical constituent content of sesquiterpenes? That’s the level of research that needs to go into these oils. Same thing with frankincense – the monoterpene content needs to be above 35%. So that’s what I’m usually looking for. If they’re disclosing where the plants come from, how are these plants treated, are these local farmers? It really matters how these plants are grown. Then on top of that, after these plants are grown and harvested in a sustainable and beautiful way and they’re distilled for their benefits, how are they being tested? We’ve got testing like gas chromatography, mass spectroscopy, chirality testing, microbial testing. As a biochemist for many, many years before I became a practitioner, this is where I was really fascinated. I always recommend that people do their due diligence and make sure that you just go and look them up. If you’re buying from a company, you want to make sure that they are disclosing where their oils come from and they’re disclosing the type of testing that they are doing on their oils.
Allan (21:18): And not just the oils. Each oil typically isn’t just the oil. Isn’t there’s typically a base oil?
Dr. Mariza Snyder (21:27): It depends. No, not normally. If there is a base oil in it, like let’s say a fractionated coconut oil – that must be disclosed as well. What we call oils that have extra stuff in them besides the pure version of it – they are adulterated. That means they’ve been tainted. I’ll give you an example. A 5ml bottle of rose oil takes about 8,000 rose petals. Those roses are grown in Bulgaria most of the time. A 5ml bottle of rose oil is about $800, give or take; $500 to $800. But there are companies that will dilute pure rose oil in fractionated coconut oil or something like that, and they have to say that. And that oil may only cost $75 or $100, but they’ve got to disclose that information. But a pure oil, unless you’re dealing with a rose or a jasmine or a neroli, where it would be hundreds upon hundreds of dollars to get that bottle of oil – they should normally be just literally that essential oil, that chemical constituent.
Allan (22:35): Okay. As I was going through I wanted to figure out how this is affecting my hormones and how we are going to use essential oils to help heal ourselves. I liked that you did this kind of walk across where you talked emotion, hormones and essential oils. Particularly I like the way you told your story about the first time you used wild orange. Do you mind telling that story and explaining from that context how all this works?
Dr. Mariza Snyder (23:09): Yes. So, wild orange was one of the first oils that I met and that I fell in love with. Actually, wild orange is sitting right here next to me in this interview. We’re kind of best buds; we hang out a lot. Wild orange and most citrus oils, like grapefruit, lemon and lime – each and every one of those have different chemical constituents. For the most part, what we’re looking at is a limonene content, which is in a family of monoterpenes. Limonene in wild orange runs about 85% to 90%. That’s what we’re normally looking for. And wild orange is known as the oil of abundance, but what we can demonstrate is when you breathe in the chemical constituents of wild orange, these chemical constituents have a no holds barred directly into the limbic system. What a lot of people don’t know is that our sense of smell is hardwired to our sense of survival. So if you smell a fire, you run, or you smell gas, you run. Our sense of smell has always been tied into that wiring. So we are leveraging the power of these chemical constituents. They bind to the olfactory bulb, then they’re binding to other receptors that send messages to the limbic brain. But what we know about limonene content is that it boosts serotonin and dopamine production in a really balanced way. So it has a profound impact on our neurochemistry, specifically on those neurotransmitters. We also know that serotonin is a hormone, so it’s got two different properties. And we can actually shift the way the limbic brain and the limbic system is working by merely breathing in this oil. I always say you cannot stay angry or mad breathing in wild orange. It literally shifts the chemistry in the brain to go from an angered state to a much more… I wouldn’t say that you’re going to be happy, but you’re at least not going to be feeling super, super angry. You’re going to feel more neutral after breathing in this oil.
Allan (25:04): Okay. And as I said, I’ve had exposure to lavender oil, primarily to sleep. It’ll help you sleep kind of thing. Can you talk through how some of these oils work? You’re throwing a lot of terms out there that I know as a biochemist you love.
Dr. Mariza Snyder (25:24): I can break it down to simpler terms. Let’s give lavender a go. I think, Allan, what I want people to understand is that a lot of people are like, “Oh, it’s woo woo. If you have good intention, it’s kind of calming, but I don’t know what it is.” The cool thing about it is there’s a lot of science that backs all this up. And as you saw in my book, I have 40 pages of bibliography.
Allan (25:48): That’s the thing I was going to say at the end. The bibliography is there, so there are studies after studies. You can just go down that rabbit hole and spend a long, long time reading about how they’ve proven a lot of good qualities from these oils.
Dr. Mariza Snyder (26:04): Right. What’s so cool is that Europe’s a little bit more ahead of us than we’d like, in terms of holistic medicine, and lavender is one of the number one recommended solutions for anxiety in a lot Europe. They take it orally in a little capsule. And oftentimes naturopaths and functional practitioners here in the States will also literally in a prescription form. They are these little teeny capsules, like you would get in a prescription, and people take them for lowering anxiety levels. It’s because we know that there are properties in lavender that will calm down an overactive limbic brain when we’re having that anxiety or we’re feeling really overwhelmed. In a nutshell, lavender is all things calming. It’s designed to calm the brain, it’s designed to shut off the mental chatter. It’s even calming for a mosquito bite. It’s great for a sunburn – a really minor sunburn. Lavender is just very soothing to the body. But lavender is very deceptive. It’s a deceptive woman, a deceptive flower. She is very powerful, she’s very potent, and sometimes she knocks people on their butts. So I always tell people to be really mindful. I love the potency of oils, but every oil is going to be a little bit different for you. For some people, lavender is the bee’s knees. Other times lavender may be a little much. You may want to soften it up with Roman chamomile or cedarwood, something that lavender is very complimentary to. But yes, ultimately lavender is designed to shut down those worries and those anxiousness and that mental chatter that could be happening when you’re trying to get a good night’s sleep.
Allan (27:43): Okay. And there are lots of others. You had multiple recipes. Can you go through a few more to kind of give us some ideas, particularly those ones that are directly related to hormones and health?
Dr. Mariza Snyder (27:55): Absolutely. We’re talking about stress levels. My go-to stress blend – I call it “stress be gone blend” – it’s a combination of two oils. I’m going to keep it simple on the podcast. Some of my recipes get a little bit more complex, but I love simplicity. So, it’s just a drop of lavender, a drop of bergamot. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, just by rubbing those two oils together, rubbing your palms together and taking some deep belly breaths, you’re going to reset that system. You’re going to disrupt the stress response. Another blend that I talk a lot about – people are concerned about brain fog and cognitive function, working memory and alertness. Rosemary has been researched over and over and over again for boosting working memory by 75% by simply breathing it in. I love a combination of wild orange, peppermint, rosemary and frankincense. You could do a drop of each or you could do it in a roller. I don’t have the exact blend in front of me. It would be, let’s say, 8 drops of each of those oils – frankincense, wild orange, peppermint and rosemary. And that is what I call the “get it done blend” or the cognitive boosting blend. So if things aren’t firing 100%, you’re not feeling like you’re on top of your game – you just breathe that blend in and it’s profoundly incredible for that. Now, for hormones, my go-to hormone oil for regulating testosterone and estrogen is going to be clary sage. Lots of research there, because it helps to bind two receptor sites in the adrenals and beta cells, it helps to get rid of xenoestrogens and false estrogens inside of the system by cleaning up receptor sites. I have a hormone blend that is a combination. It’s called “my hormone synergy” blend. I’m going to pull it up for you guys right now. And that is in a 10ml roller – 10 drops of clary sage, 8 drops of lavender, 8 drops of geranium, because also geranium is great at helping the liver detoxify excess hormone metabolites; 4 drops of bergamot and 4 drops of ylang-ylang. Ylang-ylang is the ultimate libido booster. It has profound benefits on testosterone. I really love this blend because it does tackle a lot of the hormone systems that we’re looking at in the reproductive system.
Allan (30:21): Cool. And the book even goes into how to make your own roller. This is a great resource for someone that wants to learn more about essential oils and actually get into using them. I guess we’ll go ahead and close out with my last question. I define “wellness” as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
Dr. Mariza Snyder (30:44): I love it. So, the first tactic I think is a must, must, must, is you’ve got to have a morning ritual. Set the tone for your day. It can be 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, where you are on your own agenda and not somebody else’s agenda. Strategy number two – use your oils for those emergency moments. You need more energy – grab an oil. You need to win the staredown with that cupcake or that stale donut – get peppermint out. It’s a powerful craving suppressant. And then number three is, also have a wind-down routine. It is so important to rest and shut down the brain, get decent sleep. The reason why so many of us are just slogging through the day like zombies is we’re not getting enough sleep. We’re working overtime or we’re choosing that last episode on Netflix. When you set an intention for an evening routine, using calming oils or reading a book before bed, shutting off the computer at 9:00 PM – you will recharge and that missing energy will come back for you.
Allan (31:51): Cool. I like those. Dr. Snyder, if someone wanted to learn more about you and what you’re doing or the book, The Essential Oils Hormone Solution, where would you like for me to send them?
Dr. Mariza Snyder (32:06): I think you have the link for this. I have an amazing cravings, fatigue and stress cheat sheet that we’ll make sure we get the link for you. You guys can go and check out. I do have a podcast myself. It’s called The Essentially You Podcast and it’s all about helping you to become the CEO of your health. I know I spotted off a lot of recipes and I know there are a lot of recipes in the book, but sometimes just having that little cheat sheet to address those core issues that I see so often, is a step in the right direction. I can get that for the listeners so that you guys have that and start making some amazing progress.
Allan (32:45): Okay, cool. This is episode 376, so you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/376 and I’ll be sure to have that link there. Dr. Snyder, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Mariza Snyder (32:59): Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure.
Allan (33:07): Are you stuck with your health and fitness journey and just need a little push? Go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Consult, and that will take you to a link on my calendar where you can schedule a free 15-minute session with me. We can discuss your goals, we can talk about what you want to accomplish, how you can accomplish it, and a lot more. So if you need a little push, maybe a little bit of accountability, please go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Consult for your free consultation today.
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Tammy and I decided to move to Panama as an opportunity to slow down and reduce stress. On this episode we discuss why we chose the sloth life.
Allan: 00:47 Hello. Today's podcast is going to be a good bit different than anything else that I've done on the show. We are actually recording in our little bitty apartment in Bocus del Toro, Panama. So you're very likely to hear the sounds of chickens, cars, kids, music, all kinds of stuff going on in the background with us, roosters for sure. You know, the thing about it is this is kind of our new lifestyle. We're not going to necessarily live in this town as we go forward, but there's going to just be some differences in the way that we live our lives and the things that we let stress us. So I wanted to actually take you through the story of the move to Bocas del Toro and I couldn't think of a better way to even do this show without also letting you hear from my very special guest today. My wonderful wife, Tammy.
Tammy: 01:37 Hi everyone. I'm glad to be here.
Allan: 01:39 And so as we, as we got into this move and, and the reasons we were doing this move, I thought it would be a great lesson for us to have on the show. And there's been some people that have been fairly curious about this move and each time I talk to a guest and I remind them that they're very likely to hear sounds in the background, that they wouldn't hear any normal recording studio, definitely wouldn't have heard in Pensacola where I was recording the show. There's going to be quite a bit of that now, and I think you'll see as we go forward on the show, even during some of my interviews, you're likely to hear some of the sights and sounds of what's going on here, uh, in Bocas town. So I want to give you just a little bit of the history of how this all came about because you may or may not know me that well, you may not have been a longtime listener, but I was in corporate America for over 25 years. And at the end, you know, I was pretty high up in the rankings as far as executives in a business and the business I was in, uh, well, we were on a pretty healthy downturn. And by healthy, I mean straight down.
As a result, the company was doing layoff after layoff, after layoff. And as you can imagine, being the boss of quite a few people, it fell on me to have those, “You're, you're not needed anymore” conversations, and the goodbyes and all that goes with that. So to say that this was a stressful job, I think would just really be an understatement. It was, the stress was almost debilitating. It was something that when my name finally showed up on the list and we finally went through that and I was sitting at my home in Pensacola and it just occurred to me that I really just didn't want to go back.
This was not a financial decision. This was just a, I know that job is killing me and if I go back and do it, I am effectively sacrificing my health for the job. I decided that I wasn't going to do that anymore. I wasn't going to let making an income be something that was going to detrimentally hurt my health. It wouldn't be fair to me, and one, I think I'd be disingenuous to you if that's how I lived my life. And so I made the decision to not go back to work and to effectively figure out a way to make an income.
That's when I kind of ratchet it up and started doing a little bit more personal training. Uh, and I decided to start working on a book. And there's other things that I had in the works, but because of the current state of healthcare in the United States, one of us had to get a job so we could pay for health care. And uh, Tammy was nice enough to take that on. So she did get a job. Uh, just really just for health insurance. There was no other reason for her to have a job. We didn't need her to work. We just needed the health insurance. It was just far too expensive. I think I got quoted $1,600 a month for health insurance, but I'll, I'll let Tammy tell you a little bit about her taking the job, what that did for her and against her and how she felt about it.
Tammy: 04:46 Well, first of all, I didn't work for like, I dunno, five years before that I took a job here and there doing different things just because I was bored and wanted to do something. And then when it came down to where he decided not to go back to work and we need he insurance, because in America you have to have medical insurance. Getting the job was a little stressful, but at the same time I was kind of excited to go back to work, just to get away from Allan because he's in the house all the time. But, um, I took a job that something I didn't know, but it was interesting job. It was just basically for the insurance.
I also met a lot of nice people and had a good time working there. However, I was not really wanting to work, who wants to work really, you know? But the only reason why I didn't want to work with more because of having to have a boss to deal with or having to watch what I say or do. And you can't really be, I wasn't really comfortable, I guess I got used to being at home for the last five years or whatever it was, taking care of the house, the dogs and Allan and doing what I wanted to do. But going back to work, you know, it helped us for for wha, about almost a year. And it was, the insurance was great and then we decided we were watching TV and decided to take it a step further and I'll let Allan go ahead and start that conversation.
Allan: 06:18 So yes, we were watching Netflix and we came across a show called Death In Paradise and it's an interesting show where they take basically a British detective and they put him on a Caribbean island and he's living in this little bungalow and obviously he is a Londoner through and through wearing his suit every day, obviously uncomfortable in the 90 plus degree, 90 plus percent humidity environment. But he's really good at his job and they decided to keep him. And that's what kinda started the series. And we were watching the series as it went through and I think they had like seven series. They went through three different detectives, each kind of bringing a different feel to the show.
What was consistent about it was the, you know, the location, the beauty. And this guy lived in a non air conditioned open shack, basically a little bungalow on the beach, but it was beautiful. It was beautiful and they made it work and they were comfortable they are. And that got Tammy and I to talking about how we could change our lifestyle, we could reduce our stress, we could reduce our expenses, we can reduce our environmental footprint, uh, if we went somewhere and did something like that. And that got us to searching for different places.
Tammy: 07:38 And I started thinking that I was wanting to go to Belize. So he checked out Belize and all Allan got attacked by mosquitoes and not justattacked but like a swarm of mosquitoes. And then we went during the time that the season wasn't very pretty, the beaches weren't very nice. I guess the seaweed came in and it just wasn't as nice as we thought it was going to be. I mean, it is a beautiful country, beautiful place. Not saying anything bad about it in that way, but we really, you know, we're thinking something along the same line. And then I came home from work one day and Allan told me to keep an open mind and he mentioned Panama and I'm like, well, what's in Panama? And he goes, well, there's no hurricanes. And then there's also the Caribbean island. Cause, I mentioned, I said, well, we want to live on the Caribbean. And he said, well there's, there is a Caribbean side and it's Bocas del Toro. He'd been there before with his daughter 10 years ago?
It's changed a lot since then, apparently. And it's changed a lot since we came here in July. But when we got here in July was only here for a few days. And I knew the beauty of it was there and it was very pretty here. And I'm looking at the beaches and just the possibility of living on the water and off the grid, basically, rain catchment and solar for your energy and power and with lights. And why not go for something different and do something in a different change in life and uh, get out of our comfort zone and make an adventure of it.
So we decided to open this up, this idea up to a Panama and we've been here for almost a month over just over a month and make it, making a lot of new friends, and people here are very nice. The culture is different, just the Indian villages that are around. It's been an amazing month so far and we've learned so much about the people here. Um, and the expat community as well. And then, um, you know, we, we decided that this might be where we want to be. So we've been looking at places here to make a footprint here for ourselves.
Allan: 09:48 Yeah. One of the cool things about Panama is that they, they make it fairly simple. And I say fairly cause it's, it's not actually simple, but it's much simpler to be an ex pat and live here to get your residency here, uh, than it is in a lot of different countries.
Tammy: 10:03 It's still not simple.
Allan: 10:04 Not simple, but, uh, with some help from an attorney and you got through a process. They do want investment here. They do want people here. Uh, so they do value, uh, ex pats and, and they make it, uh, make it a way for you to get here. And as long as you prove that you're not going to be a draw to their society, you're going to help improve their society, they're very much amenable to allowing you to have residency here. So we're currently working through that process.
I am actually looking at buying the gym here. There's a gym on the island and I'm in negotiations with the current owners, to sell me their shares in the company. And, so I will be a gym owner here. And we'll be living what we refer to now as our sloth life. And I know, you know, the term sloth often gets a lot of bad reputations, but if you see a picture of a sloth there, they're pretty damn cute with the exception for the claws.
Tammy: 11:01 Allan is afraid of the claws.
Allan: 11:03 They'll slowly claw your eyes out. But uh, anyway, the sloth life in my opinion is this, this concept of finding the right size for you, finding the place and finding the people and finding that connection, the thing that's going to give you the lower stress level give you the more connectedness to not just the people, but the place.
Tammy: 11:29 Just slowing down a little bit even in life and not having to rush and worry and think about everything that's going around it's just, it's just stressful with regular life like that and living this life life is what we're calling our slough life is being laid back more and relaxed and, and just living at slow walking down the street slow and taking things a little slower. We don't need to rush through life. Life is here us to enjoy.
Allan: 11:55 And so that's, that's kind of this concept of 2019 for me. Uh, and for Tammy is how do we find that place where we have that connectedness where we have this, uh, this more relaxed environment and where we're able to basically just be, be ourselves and not worry about punching a time clock, not worried about the deadlines at work. Uh, be our own boss. Um, so that we can make what we need to make and be who we need to be. You know, if you've read any of the studies on the blue zones and people living the longest in the world, they live in places like this. Uh, they live in places where they walk, they eat locally grown foods.
Tammy: 12:36 There are no fast food restaurants here. Thats a great thing!
Allan: 12:41 And don't bring any please. Uh, yeah, there are no fast food restaurants here. There's some really nice restaurants here with really fresh food, so it's a really cool place to be. It does have water catchment for most of our water, and you know, a lot of the places are completely off the city grid um, so the electricity is generated by solar. So there some feel good about that. And uh, you know, the, the island is looking at recycling programs and a lot of other things. A lot of self sustaining places are building up around here. So it's, it's, it's becoming a really cool, cool thing.
Tammy: 13:14 We should probably back up a little bit Allan about Bocas del Toro. Where is that? What it is? It's an archipelago of nine big islands, I believe with a bunch of little islands all around it. And we're in the main island of Isla Colon in Bocas Town right now and the other islands where we've been trying to explore a few of the other islands around us as well, there's so many islands out there, there's no way to explore them all, but we would like to try and do that. So anyway, Bocas del Toro is just an archipelago of islands out here. For any of you who were curious.
Allan: 13:51 Yeah, it's not the easiest place to get to because you have to connect in Panama City. And you actually have to fly out of a different airport if you were coming in from the international airport. So there's a little bit of a task to getting here, but once you're here, you know, you have access to everything you need for the most part and you find you don't need a lot of the things that you think you need. Uh, but Amazon does deliver here.
Tammy: 14:14 After about two weeks!
Allan: 14:16 But they do deliver if we needed something.
Tammy: 14:18 I have not tried yet, but I might.
Allan: 14:21 And so I talk about in the wellness roadmap that, you know, as you're looking at stress, uh, you know, probably the best thing you can do for something that's chronically stressing you is to just eliminate it. And I think that's what we've been able to accomplish with this move is I don't have to worry about laying anybody off again.
Allan: 14:42 I can come in and I can run the gym and I can have employees and I can make it fun for them. And I'm the boss of the, boss of the boss. And so, you know, I can make the things the way they need to be, uh, to fit where we are. Uh, you know, Panama as a culture is very laid back and I like that, you could be challenged by it if you don't understand that, that's the nature of the people. But you know, they tell, tell you when you come here, don't think you can change Panama. You have to change for Panama if you want to be here. And so that's really the crux of what this, this move was all about. I know some folks have been curious about it. Uh, I'm glad to be able to get my wife on the show for the very first time.
Allan: 15:26 And this is episode 375. I'll try to get her on this show a little bit more often here and there. But I think the key of it is and the takeaway that I want you to get from this is that you really do have a lot more control over your life than you think you do. We let stuff, we let jobs, we let things imprison us because we have this innate belief that we have to have these things.
We have to order that, uh, that shirt from Amazon. We have to order those shoes, we have to, and so our closet gets full, we put weight on and then we can't even wear the clothes we just bought from Amazon, so we go buy more clothes and those sit in our closet and we know we're going to get into those skinny jeans one day. So we hold on to them and, and I'm just here to tell you that you don't have to be locked into that cycle.
You can make changes. Is it a sacrifice? Absolutely. But the trade offs can be quite substantial. I don't have the income I had before, but I have the life that I want and that to me is worth any amount of money that I could have been paid. So I doubt very seriously that you're going to ever see me in a corporate boardroom again. I have no desire whatsoever to go back to corporate life. I'm going to do my own thing and that means I'm going to be giving 100% to my clients and making sure they get the results that they deserve. I'm going to be giving 100% to this podcast and making sure that I'm bringing on the best possible guests to teach you and give you the information you need to find your health and wellness.
I'm going to be doing the things with the gym and others just to help people here be healthier and more fit. So, My life now is, is dedicated towards wellness. Uh, but not just yours, mine as well. But if there's anything that I can do to help you on your wellness journey, please do reach out. If you go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/15min I'll give you a free 15 minute consult. We can talk about your health and fitness goals. We can help set strategies for what will work for you. If stress is something that's really affecting you. We can talk about strategies for stress management and where you can, I'd encourage you to completely eliminate the stress. I know that's not possible for everything, but you know, I think I can help you get through some of these stressful moments or eliminate these stressful moments through just this little console.
So go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/15min and that will take you to my calendar. You can set up a 15 minute consult with me absolutely free, no obligation. I want to help you reach your health and fitness goals. So please do get your free consult. So before we cut out though, I wanted to say bye to Tammy and thank you for being a part of 40 plus fitness.
Tammy: 18:21 Thank you for actually having me for the first time. He's never asked me, by the way.
Allan: 18:25 I haven't. I'll be honest. Yeah, I haven't asked her before this, but I felt like it would just, it would not be the complete story of me telling about the move to Bocus without having you on.
Tammy: 18:37 No, it wouldn't be. He needs me.
Allan: 18:39 Okay. So thank you for listening today and I'll talk to you next week.
Speaker 4: 18:44 Bye.
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Dr. Jaimie Hope is an emergency room doctor who knows a thing or two about building life-long habits. In her book, Habit That! she teaches how you can change your habits and create a healthy lifestyle.
Allan (1:18): Dr. Hope, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Jaime Hope (1:21): Allan, thank you so much for having me here today. I appreciate it.
Allan (1:25): The book we’re going to talk about today is called Habit That! And I talk to a lot of people about habits and things that we do. With my clients I’m talking about it, we talk about it on the podcast from time to time. I’m a big fan of exploring your habits and understanding what they’re doing for you or against you, depending on the nature of it. So I really did enjoy this deep dive into healthy habits.
Dr. Jaime Hope (1:53): Thank you. It’s so important. We have a lot more habits in our lives than we realize. It finally took me some time to discover if we can hack human nature and use it for good instead of bad, we can actually get a lot healthier.
Allan (2:09): Absolutely. I kind of equate it this way when I’m talking to folks: Did you drive to work today the same way you drove yesterday? It’s a habit. The first time you drove to that office, you probably didn’t know exactly where it was and you had to think about it. And then over time you may have actually developed a shorter route where you figured out, “It’s best for me not to get on the express way because it’s going to be backed up, so it’s easier for me to go this route.” Then once you have that notched in, you’re almost on autopilot.
Dr. Jaime Hope (2:36): Yeah. Have you ever gotten home and realized you didn’t remember any of the drive?
Allan (2:40): It’s scary.
Dr. Jaime Hope (2:42): It’s a little scary, but it’s because it was such a habit. You took the directions off your cognitive load and you were able to listen to a podcast, sing along to the radio, curse at the drivers in front of you. Please don’t do that. That’s what’s so interesting about habits. Once you remove it from that level of conscious thought, it’s really good, except when you’re driving, of course.
Allan (3:07): We all want to get to a certain spot, and having that notched in for us makes it that much easier. But as people go, we’re going to have folks that are going to have objections, and in your book, you go through six major objections. Could you take a little bit of time and go through each one and what we can do if that’s what our inner enemy, or frenemy, is going to do for us? How do we get the right mindset to overcome those objections?
Dr. Jaime Hope (3:40): That’s really common. We start with this great idea, “New Year’s! Hooray! Happy New Year” or whatever time of year it is. Like, “Yes, I want to be healthy, I’m going to lose weight, I’m going to do these things.” And then immediately it’s that other voice inside your head that is like, “Well, this and this and this.” I’ve been practicing medicine for 13 years, so rest assured it’s not my first day at this. And with all the patients I talk to, there were a lot of objections that kept coming up over and over and over. Those are the six that I discuss in the book. So let’s dive into number one. People talk about “the knowledge”: “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to use the knowledge that I have. I don’t know what’s a good source of knowledge.” So some people take that very easy objection and just say, “Well, I don’t know, so I give up.” Clearly those people weren’t very deeply connected to why they want to do what they want to do. That’s an objection and it’s legitimate, but the example I use in the book is, you’re at the gym and you don’t know how to use the squat machine and you want to. You can quit the gym, quit fitness altogether, or you could go ask somebody how to use the squat machine, or look up a video on YouTube.
Allan (5:01): And I’ll tell you right now, if you find a personal trainer that’s on the floor – when you work at a gym like that, you get assigned to the floor – they will help you. They don’t want you to get hurt. Just ask us.
Dr. Jaime Hope (5:14): They want to help you. They don’t want to see you screwing it up. In fact, I had one very politely come over and say, when I was doing an exercise, “May I offer a suggestion?” I knew that this was going to be something good and useful since clearly I was doing it wrong enough that they came over. So I was like, “Of course, absolutely.” And of course they were right. Like you said, Allan, they don’t want you to use the machine incorrectly. They’re not going to charge you $1,200 to answer a question.
Allan (5:41): No, no. They’re also not going to train you for free, but there’ll be glad to tell you, “This is how you use this machine” or, “This is how you do this lift properly.” And probably make some other recommendations that are going to keep you safe.
Dr. Jaime Hope (5:54): Yes. I’m very pro trainer. I’ve had physical trainers. I usually do multiple sessions a year and keep on an ongoing thing to make sure that I’m doing it correct. So by all means, if you can, definitely get a trainer. So, talking again back to this objection about knowledge gap. Sometimes the gap is, “I don’t know what to eat. This website tells me this is healthy and this website tells me if I eat this, I’m going to burst into flames. What am I supposed to do?” It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. You’re going to see so many conflicting things out there. Now there’s a new fad diet coming up every week, it’s hard to know what’s healthy and what’s not. So, I help teach people about, number one, common sense. If somebody is telling you that donuts are the healthiest food because they happen to be the author of the Magical Donut diet – that seems a little bit suspicious. It’s pretty hard to argue against things like broccoli, for instance. So really any diet that’s saying that’s completely horrible for you is ridiculous. So, applying your common sense to it. Then looking at, what are the qualifications of the resource that’s telling you this information? What type of bias might be playing into it? It’ll help you decide what’s going to be the best information. So, on to objection number two. Are you ready for this one?
Allan (7:17): Yup.
Dr. Jaime Hope (7:18): Okay. So, this one I get: “Why bother trying your new thing? I have tried a million other things and it never works, so I quit.” Allan, have you ever had clients that have said that?
Allan (7:31): Typically no. I’ve had people that didn’t become clients for that reason. I’m talking to them and they’re wanting to work out and do something to lose weight. And I say, “First let’s talk about what you’re eating.” And they’re like, “I’ve been on every diet and that just doesn’t work.” Like you said, they tend at that point to say, “I don’t need your help. You’ll just tell me to take another diet.” I’m not actually talking about a diet. I’m talking about something different. I can’t help someone who’s not interested in really making the change, so I can’t help them overcome this objection. I can’t convince you to not eat the donut if you want to eat the donut.
Dr. Jaime Hope (8:23) Right. Short of walking around with a fly swatter and smacking people’s donuts, which I also don’t recommend.
Allan (8:29): Which we don’t do. We’re there for three to five hours a week at most and then you’ve got a whole 170 odd other hours. So you have to overcome this objection yourself.
Dr. Jaime Hope (8:40): You really do. This is a mindset objection, and in a lot of ways they’re not wrong. Sometimes they have tried a bunch of diets and they all failed. But then if you go through their history and look at the diets they’ve tried, you and I both know this – they’ve all been crap. They’ve been some ridiculous gimmicks, some unhealthy fad diet. So they go into it, they lose a bunch of weight, then they go back to the way they were eating before and gain all the weight back. Rinse and repeat, over and over and over. So what I’m trying to talk to people about this objection is, we’ve got to get off that train. This isn’t about a quick fix or rapid weight loss or gimmicks. And interestingly enough, that’s why people are like, “That’s not sexy. This won’t sell.” Because I’m talking about slow, long-term, sustainable healthy habits. We all want to lose 100 pounds by next week, but these are the people who have tried it all and it doesn’t work. What I’d like to say is to completely throw out that old type of mindset and try something new. Just focus on nourishing your body and being healthier and taking care of the four pillars of health, and eventually people will start to see substantial differences. They just have to be willing to change the way that they look at this. This isn’t a rapid thing, this isn’t a crazy thing. This is the real thing.
Allan (10:07): The way I look at it when I’m talking to folks is, let’s look for that lifestyle. And there’s nothing sexy about it. I can’t sell it. If you write a book, I could write the same exact book, and on the over, I could call it “The Misner Diet”, or I could call it “The Misner Lifestyle”. And the diet book is going to sell a hundred fold more. Mine is The Wellness Roadmap. If I called it “The Wellness Diet”, probably would’ve sold more. But that’s not where my head is and that’s not what I want for my clients.
Dr. Jaime Hope (10:42): I think yours and my values are aligned in a lot of ways. It’s about your overall wellness. It’s your lifestyle, it’s your long-term type of thing. And you’re right, it can be a little bit more difficult to sell. I was told the same thing: “You could call this a diet book.” Absolutely not. It’s not. It’s the anti-diet book. So that’s objection number two, and I think you and I are very similar in the way that we feel about that. Alright, are you ready for number three?
Allan (11:11): Yes.
Dr. Jaime Hope (11:12): “I am doing everything right and I am still not seeing changes.” The way that I dive into this with patients and clients is, find out what exactly it is they are doing that they think they’re doing right. In the book I use the example of this guy. He was very strenuously objecting, saying, “Your healthy food ideas make me fat”, and this and that. And he didn’t understand. When I actually sat down with him and understood what he considered “healthy”, it was crystal clear why he was gaining weight. He had heard that whole “Milk. It does a body good” slogan, heard it was good for you. So he was drinking up to two gallons of whole milk every day. I was astounded by the amount of liquid, first of all. But in his mind he was doing everything, quote, “right”, because he heard that milk was a health food. So sometimes just diving into that makes a difference. But what I also find with patients is maybe they actually truly are following what you and I and a scientist would consider a healthful diet, and maybe they are exercising. But when you step back and take a look at their lifestyle as a whole, they are stressed to the max and they’re not sleeping. And when they’re not taking care of those pillars of their health, the body still stays in that “fight or flight” mode and that long-term chronic stress mode, and even if you are doing everything right, it’s extremely difficult to lose weight. It’s like pushing a ball uphill. That’s the nice thing about having expertise, so people can really look at that. That’s why I specifically go into the four pillars of the book, not just diet and exercise, so people can read for themselves and decide what areas they need to work on the most. And people are sometimes surprised. Alright, objection number four. Are you ready?
Allan (13:03): Yes.
Dr. Jaime Hope (13:05): You’ve probably heard these ones: “I don’t have the time” or, “I don’t have the money.” It’s all about the time: “I’m so busy, I don’t have time to get healthy.” We tend to be very overscheduled in this modern era. We’ve got work, we’ve got friends, we’ve got family obligations. But if people realistically look at how they’re spending their week, I think we’re spending a lot more time on things like TV and social media than people realize. So there are ways to carve out time. I’ve even told people, quite frankly, I would rather they do five minutes of something than to do nothing towards their health. It’s just the way to gain that momentum, to start going, getting into the habit. When my kids were very little and napping, I used to try and exercise when they were napping, except for I still had to do laundry, I had to do writing, I had to do charting and all these other things that were eating into my time. What I realized is that when you have two very active children, instead of trying to schedule around them, I just started scheduling it with them. Incorporate it into your day and into your time. And it’s fun. We have crazy jumping dance parties and we run around the yard. So now I’m getting double duty because I’m getting quality time and fitness time, plus the added bonus that I have healthy, active kids who are seeing how important this is to our lifestyle. So instead of going against your grain, try incorporating it into something you are already doing and already like. If you’re not willing to miss your favorite show, exercise during your favorite show; then you’re getting that time back. So there are a lot of different ways we can play around with time.
Allan (15:01): There’s actually an app now that comes with the iPhone that will tell you how long you were on your iPhone for the week. And my wife is astounded because I’m typically under two hours. I almost never have been on my iPhone in a given week for more than two hours.
Dr. Jaime Hope (15:19): Good for you!
Allan (15:25): If you have an iPhone, go look at that app. It’s how much time you’ve been spending on social media, because that’s probably where you’re spending most of that time. I bet that’s what you’re going to come across, that you actually have a lot more time than you give yourself credit for. And that five minutes that you spent on social media, if you spent that walking up and down the stairs at work or walking out to the mailbox when normally you drop off on the way out, or all the different things that you do, parking a little bit further from the entrance of where you work. All those different things are going to add another three minutes here, another five minutes there. And those little things can make a big difference.
Dr. Jaime Hope (16:05): People get intimidated or they just quit because they don’t have an hour to dedicate to the gym every single day. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t fit stuff in. I absolutely like that, definitely. Do the stairs, park farther away. All those little things start to become habits and you gradually develop a more active lifestyle. I’m sure you’re very well aware of this – the more active you are, the more energy you have. It sounds counterintuitive. People say they are too tired to exercise. But once you can get them over that hump they realize the more you exercise, you actually have more energy and feel better. All those five minutes add up here and there and will give you the energy you need to take it to the next level. Now, of course, the other part of that objection was money. I hear people say they can’t afford a personal trainer, they can’t afford a gym, those types of things. But I think people are sometimes forgetting the amazing amount of free resources that are out there. If you can’t hire your own personal dietician or expert or coach, listen to their podcasts, read the book. Look for videos on YouTube where they’re helping teach you how to do specific exercise. Turn on the radio and dance. You can squat in your living room for free; you could go up and down the stairs for free. So there’s a lot of stuff. People are underestimating what they can do with limited or no resources.
Allan, I actually work with a homeless shelter in Detroit. This is a shelter that’s specifically designed for people with families – men and women with children, to help get their independence back. So when I go down there and talk to them about how they can also focus on getting healthy, you’re talking about folks that have zero financial resources. They can’t go buy organic, they can’t go join a yoga studio or a gym or hire a trainer. They’re trying to make sure that they have enough food to feed their children for that day. But I bring fun activities that we can do, games that they can play with their kids and get active and silly and fun in the context of the lobby of the homeless shelter. And all of a sudden people see there are things they can do and still accomplish this. It’s very awesome to see that light come on, and it’s very empowering for people to realize they have more resources than they think they do, even if they have no resources.
Allan (18:29): Yes.
Dr. Jaime Hope (18:31): Alright, so on to number five. I hear this: “Now is not a good time.” We’re always busy or there’s something going on in our lives. So, everything had been great except for now things are crazy at work. In my case, one of the examples I use – my mother in law was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and moved in with us full-time while I was working two jobs and the kids and everything else. It would’ve been very easy for me to say, “Now is not a good time to be healthy.” But in reality, that was the time when I needed it the most. When you are under that much stress and busy and everything else, that’s how you get released. That’s how you help your body be strong enough to handle the crazy stress and the things that are going on. So whether you’re taking care of a sick family member or things are really bad at work or you’re going through a financial crisis or something like that, having these healthy habits as your stable base is going to give you the physical and emotional resources you need to meet these challenges, and you’ll actually feel better and not worse for it. So whatever is going on in your lives, I encourage you, even if for five minutes, do something. Self-care isn’t selfish and you can’t carry the weight of the world with a broken back. So it’s really important to keep focusing on these things.
Allan (19:58): I liked the story you told about your father when that was going on, and how he saw that now was absolutely the time. Probably the time when he felt like he needed to be very much more a caregiver, that actually became his fuel.
Dr. Jaime Hope (20:14): Yeah, it’s interesting. This is a man who I adore, who had never been focused on his health in any way. And then suddenly when his wife, my mother in law, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer… This is long hours – sitting there for eight hours during the chemotherapy infusion, hospital visits, stuff like that. He couldn’t even carry her suitcase, he was so out of shape. So that became his reason. He could’ve just sat there and ate donuts in a hospital chair indefinitely, but he knew that he needed help to get stronger for her. And his transformation has been remarkable. He lost 65 pounds.
Allan (20:53): That’s good. That’s really good.
Dr. Jaime Hope (20:55): Yeah. He lived with me, and he’s the kind of stubborn person that’s the last person I was ever going to give advice to. But he started watching what I was doing and doing some of those things; going for very short walks at what his abilities were. He’s 70 years old and he was overweight, and then slowly got stronger and stronger. And as he got that momentum, he started feeling better and better. I forgot the last time he told me over the last two years, he’s logged well over 1,000 miles walking and just making those habits and the differences in his life. Yeah, it’s never a good time. We’re never going to have all the time and money we need. So I say, it’s a random afternoon – why not start right now?
And the last objection is about, “It just doesn’t fit who I am.” It’s very interesting how we get these mindsets and these labels of ourselves. I talk about somebody who I grew up with, that as he got older, teenage years and beyond, started gaining some weight and he started calling himself “the fat kid” as a joke. He actually wasn’t even fat, but it kind of became his thing; he would juggle his belly. It was interesting the way he started incorporating that label into who he was. Like, “Hey, do you want to go for a bike ride?” “No, I’m the fat kid.” “Three weeks ago you liked going on bike rides. What gives?” I’d had watched him embrace this label so much that he started to behave in a way that was consistent with that label he had given himself and actually gained more weight after that. I talk to patients a lot about what their mindset is. How do you see yourself? Because however you see yourself is how you’re going to act. If you see yourself as a diet failure or a yo-yo dieter or somebody who just can’t stick to something, you’re going to act like that. I love to give people a whole brand new label for themselves and I just say “healthy person.” I don’t like the label “skinny” because skinny isn’t always healthy. When I was growing up, I ate nothing but Cheetos and grilled cheese. I was a terribly unhealthy eater, but I was skinny. They don’t necessarily have to go together. But if you start to see yourself as a healthy person, then you’ll start to treat yourself as a healthy person. And that mindset, that label, sometimes is that first domino that you can knock over and really help move you forward down the right path, instead of calling yourself the wrong thing and then continuing to act consistent with that negative, incorrect label.
Allan (23:45): Absolutely. Now, in the book there was something else that was very, very interesting. I’m very familiar with SMART goals. In fact, I actually even cover that in my book, but I had never had it put together the way you did, calling it SMARTER goals. Could you go through that acronym, what that means and how that is going to help someone effectively have better goals?
Dr. Jaime Hope (24:09): Absolutely, I love this. So, I’m an assistant professor at our medical school, teaching motivational interviewing and behavior changes, as I’m sure you know. And the person who used to do the lectures before me was a lovely person, but also being really boring. Goal setting doesn’t have to be that complicated. So I started looking up the SMART acronym, and depending on which source you look at, it can mean something slightly different. But I was specifically teaching health protective behavior changes. So I changed it to SMARTER to add the additional elements that were consistent with the teachings that I wanted to get across. And so far it’s gone really well.
The S is “specific”. I don’t mean “I want to lose 40 pounds”, not that kind of specific, because that is an outcome. What is the specific action that you are going to do? I have a SMARTER goals worksheet and I truly encourage people to put one goal per sheet. Say for instance your bigger goal maybe is that you want to lose 40 pounds, but the action that you’re going to take, this SMARTER action is that you are going to exercise for a minimum of 15 minutes, five days a week. That’s very specific. I’m talking I want granular, I want to know all of those different pieces. M is for “motivation”. So, why is it that you want to achieve this particular goal? We all know that we should make healthier habits, in the same way that smokers know they shouldn’t smoke. I mean it says it right there on the pack. This is not a surprise to anybody that these are bad for them, but people do it anyway. If you really want to make a true change, you have to be connected with your motivation. What is your real “Why” for quitting? In the 13 years of talking to patients about this, very rarely is it something like, “Because I care about my cholesterol” or something like that. It’s more of very personal things I’ve heard people say: “I want to be comfortable having sex with the lights on without a T-shirt.” “Every man in my family died of a heart attack in their 40s and I don’t want to do that.” “I was playing with my kids and I was so winded I had to sit down and it made me feel awful. It’s not the kind of example I want to be for my kids.” So it needs to be something that you are deeply connected with. You can’t assign it to somebody else. They have to choose their real “Why”. And then every time you start getting off of the habit of doing this, reconnecting with that motivation is going to be the thing that helps keep you going. The A is for “action plan”. You’re going to use action-oriented statements, so you’re going to say, “I will work out for 15 minutes, at least five times a week.” You are going to be specific. I want to know the time, I want to know the location, I want to know the equipment. Who, what, when, where, why, how are you going to do this? And it’s going to increase your chance of success. You need to look at your schedule and say, “How am I going to fit this in for five times this week? This day I’m going to go for a walk. This day I’m going to do home exercises while I watch my favorite TV show.” Fit it into your schedule and into your lifestyle because that’s the only way you’re really going to make it work.
R is for “roadblocks”. Also, I like to call it “reality”, because things happen. People, time, circumstances are going to come up and make it more difficult to achieve your goal. Say your goal for next Tuesday was to walk outside for 15 minutes, and then it happens to be a torrential downpour. You don’t say you’re not going to exercise at all. You just have to know that was a potential possibility, so what’s your backup plan? I like people to list every possible thing that could go wrong in achieving their goal. In this case, the example of exercising five times a week – what could go wrong? Your car could break down, you could sprain your ankle, you could get bit by a dinosaur on the way to work. You never know. So, say your car breaks down. What’s going to be your plan for that? Say you sprain your ankle. How do you still want to be able to work out? You can do a rowing thing, you could do an upper body type of thing. If the dinosaur bites you, I feel like that would be very interesting and you could probably make a lot of money with that story. Then use that money to hire a trainer. So I get people in the habit of pre-anticipating common roadblocks and knowing what they’re going to do about it, so when it does happen they’re ready for it. It’s another mindset habit. Then T is for “timetable”. The goal should be, I like to call it grounded, yet ambitious. So if your goal is to do two sit-ups in 2019, that’s specific and you’re very likely to achieve it. But that’s not really going to do anything. If your goal is to do 2,000 sit-ups every single day in 2019, that’s going to be a little bit more difficult, especially if you’re starting from a baseline of zero. So I want the goal to be something that you’re stretching a little bit to, but not so unrealistic you have absolutely no possibility of achieving it. And then breaking it down into specific time. What can you do today? What can you do in a week? What can you do in a month? And what do you want to accomplish in a year? It just makes it seem so much less intimidating than trying to tackle the whole thing all at once. We’re almost done. We already did SMART; now we’re on the ER part. E is the “evaluate and evolve” type of thing. So if your original goal was working out 15 minutes a day for five days a week and you find that while you’re exercising, you’re usually going longer and you feel great – expand your goal. Make it a little bit longer; that’s okay. If it was too easy, make it harder. If it was legitimately too hard, dial it down. It’s okay to make adjustments based on the context of your life, because still your biggest overall goal is to be a healthy person. That’s the focus, so this exercise goal that you’ve set is specifically aiming at that ideal. And then just helping keep up your enthusiasm. The last one, the R, is “record and reward”. Anything that you do that is measured improves, and anything you do that is measured and recorded improves exponentially. So I encourage people to, whether it’s on a plain piece of paper or through an app or any other way, when they make the goal, I want to see you recording it, writing it down, and then you can preset rewards into that. So, if your goal is that number of workouts and at the end of the month if you hit that, choose a reward. And choose a reward that’s consistent with a healthy lifestyle. I’m not saying to go eat a dozen donuts as a reward for working. Buy a new pair of shoes, buy a great workout outfit, do something like that. So, finding that way to write it down. And give yourself credit for all the amazing things that you’ve been doing. I put it all out on a sheet for people and it’s in the book. If we work smarter, not harder, as they say, it makes it so much easier to reach our goals.
Allan (31:53): That’s one thing I liked about your book Habit That!, was in the back you basically put all these different tools to help us go through. So the appendices are extremely valuable.
Dr. Jaime Hope (32:02): Thank you. And I have free PDF versions on my website as well. It’s all open access. It’s free, it’s available. Download it, print it out, use it however you want. I want people to have this information.
Allan (32:15): So they’re setting SMARTER goals.
Dr. Jaime Hope (32:17): Yes, exactly.
Allan (32:20): One of the things that I think has really gone haywire in America is that we have kind of lost context of what a serving is. A lot of people will say, “I’m eating the right things. I don’t think I’m overeating. I might have a little bit of this or a little bit of that, but I’m not eating that much of it.” And when you get to talking to them, you realize that was probably more than a serving, because the bag has three servings and you ate the bag. Or we go to a restaurant and it’s’ like, “Here’s a 12-ounce steak.” And I’m like, “That’s three servings of beef. Box, please.” You use the hand, which I thought was really, really good. If someone wants to understand what a portion of something is, how can they use their hand as a base guideline?
Dr. Jaime Hope (33:11): I’ve seen products over the years where you can purchase different sizing things for a serving size, but can you imagine taking that into a nice steakhouse? Nobody’s going to invite you to dinner anymore, let’s just put it that way. I always say the power to portion control is in the palm of your hand. So, if you look at your closed fist, that’s generally about a half cup. Looking at servings of grains, if you eat grains and stuff like that; half cup vegetables. You generally want to do at least double that. But that’s approximately the right size. Stretch out your index finger and from that last line, that last joint, till the end – that’s about a teaspoon. So when we were looking at toppings and spreads and stuff like that that are less healthy, sticking to that guide. Now, I’m like you – I’m all for healthy fats. We used to say, “Limit fats to that size”, and I disagree with that; I think we should have healthy fats in more abundance. But if you’re going to have something that’s an unhealthy fat, that’s what you would aim for. And if you look at your thumb, from that line at the end to the end of your thumb – that’s a tablespoon. So you’ve got about a teaspoon on your first finger and a tablespoon on your thumb. And then your open palm is generally about the size of an appropriate serving of meat for your body size. My son is five years old, so if I gave him the size of meat serving for a grown adult, that would be crazy. You can just look at their hand and that’s approximately the size you’re looking for. So if you’re staring down that 12-ounce steak or heaven forbid, the 42-ounce porterhouse…
Allan (34:58): I’ve done that.
Dr. Jaime Hope (35:02): Aiming for something that’s about that size. And what I do at restaurants is, like you said, box. I really do. I will cut the appropriate serving size that I’m going to eat, put the rest in a box and then eat my dinner. Because the longer you sit there in front of it, the more you tend to want to nibble and go. And then we do that thing: “Well, I’m almost done with it, so I might as well finish it.”
Allan (35:23): “There is no sense taking these last three ounces home.”
Dr. Jaime Hope (35:26): “It’s not worth saving, so I might as well eat it.” It’s this hilarious mindset. I have a graphic for this. It’s in the book and it’s also open access. It’s available, so people can take a look at that and see.
Allan (35:38): Cool. And I think that’s really helpful as you’re looking at this, because in a general sense when people are talking about the calories and all of that, if you are off by serving sizes, you can be way off. I’m not going to say “calories in, calories out” is this perfect model, but there is some basis to it. If you eat more calories than your body needs, it has to put it somewhere and it’s going to be putting it as body fat. So, if weight loss, or fat loss is a better term, is something you’re after, portion control is going to be a part of it. That means knowing what portions are and then eating slow enough that your body can say, “Hey, that’s probably enough.”
Dr. Jaime Hope (36:20): It truly has gotten out of hand. If you just go to your average coffee house and order a muffin – those giant things that they’re telling us is a muffin – that’s about four servings. Who cuts up a muffin into quarters and shares it? We have; we’ve gone off the rails. And like you said, we eat it so fast we don’t have time to register that we’re full until it’s a little bit too late. And then we’re stuffed.
Allan (36:44): Now, talking about muffins, you have this term, and I guess it comes from a meme that I hadn’t seen until I read your book, but it’s called “muffin moments”. And I think all of us will relate to these events that happen to us that you call muffin moments. Could you give us a little bit on that?
Dr. Jaime Hope (37:06): I have a fairly ridiculous sense of humor. I love memes, I think they’re hilarious. I’m never tired of seeing them on Facebook. Unfortunately, sometimes I’ll find myself in a rabbit hole of time, just flipping through memes. I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I just spent 15 minutes doing that.” But I remember I saw one that was so hilariously ridiculous. It was this giant muffin that had landed on and crushed someone’s car; like a meteor, but a muffin. And the caption of the meme said, “Suddenly, a muffin!” And I remember laughing so hard. That’s how life happens sometimes. You’re driving along and you think, “Worst case scenario, I’m going to get in a traffic jam. And suddenly, a muffin! I wasn’t expecting that.” I’ve definitely had some muffin moments. One of them, I was on the squat machine at the gym and unfortunately I didn’t ask somebody how it worked. I thought I knew what I was doing, I wasn’t pressing that much weight. It was the end of my workout, I was just killing a few more minutes. And my back felt a little stiff while I was doing it. And then as I got off the machine, I could hardly walk. I slipped a disc on the squat press machine at my gym, like an idiot. And I had this great workout plan. I’d had all these things on my calendar, I was super excited, and now I could barely walk. Now I’m 39, I turn 40 this year. This was a couple of years ago, and I’m like, “I’m in my middle 30s and I need a walker. This is awful and ridiculous.” I certainly wasn’t expecting that. That was a bigger muffin than I had planned on. I did the thing where I figured I can just push through it, and made it worse. And then I finally was like, “I’m a very well educated physician. Perhaps I should take my own advice that I give to my patients, rehabilitate this properly.” And even when I was writing this book, I had a two-hour phone call scheduled with my editor and I emailed him in the middle of the night saying, “I just had an emergency appendectomy that I wasn’t really expecting, so can we change our appointment?” So, those things are going to happen. Some of them you can anticipate when you’re doing the roadblocks in your SMARTER goals, and sometimes stuff is just going to hit you. And if you’re really connected with your “Why”, why you want to do this, and that big overall picture of being a healthy person, it makes it easier to stay on track. When I hurt my back, my goal wasn’t to be an Olympic athlete, it was to be a healthy person. So some days all I could do was go for a walk. I went from being a runner to a very slow walker, but not overdoing it, because that’s not consistent with being a healthy person either. So when you’ve got a stable foundation of those, it makes it a lot easier for you when those muffins come along.
Allan (39:55): I had one of my muffin moments. I was training for a Spartan. I’d hired a coach, a personal trainer, Dave. Coach Dave was helping me get stronger and stronger, because I really wanted to make sure for this Spartan, I was able to do the strength part of it. And then I was doing the other stuff because in the Spartan when you can’t do an obstacle or you fail at an obstacle, you have to do 25 burpees. I did a lot of burpees. But what happened was right before the race, about probably two weeks out from the race, I tore a rotator cuff.
Dr. Jaime Hope (40:36): Oh no!
Allan (40:37): And I knew it was torn. I knew it was completely torn when it happened and I knew exactly what I was feeling. Instead of saying all is lost, I said, “What can I do?” So I stopped doing pressing movements and shoulder movements, because those were aggravating the shoulder, but I could still do pulling movements, I could still do all the other lifts that I wanted to do. I just didn’t do the presses as much. We moved it over to the Smith machine. I’m not a huge fan of the Smith machine, or machines, unless you need them for recovery. So we did move to machines; it helped me. I went and I did the Spartan. It was not fun but I got it done, because it was my goal. It was something I really wanted to do. I also skydived that weekend, so it was really cool.
Dr. Jaime Hope (41:35): That’s a great reward!
Allan (41:36): But as soon as we finished the race, I did the skydiving, then I went to the surgeon, did the MRI. I had the surgery on a Thursday, I was meeting with my physical therapist on Monday. So three days later, I’m in PT. And because I had kept moving, I had much better range of motion in the shoulder than he said he’s seen from anyone with a tear close to mine.
Dr. Jaime Hope (42:04): Good for you!
Allan (42:06): And he was used to dealing with college athletes, Division I football players and whatnot. So, I felt pretty good about that. And then I did everything he told me to do. I did all my homework, I did all of it to get my shoulder recovered. So, just realize that these muffin moments are going to happen. You still can find a path forward. You’re going down the highway, the interstate. It’s great to be able to drive down the interstate at 70-75 miles per hour if you’re within the speed limit. And then there’s a traffic jam and your app is telling you to take the next exit and go on the frontage road for five miles. That’s going to slow you down. You’re going to be later than you thought you’d be, but you’re still moving forward.
Dr. Jaime Hope (42:50): That’s a perfect analogy. And one of the reasons that you were able to recover so well was that you had this healthy base. You were already living healthy, so as those things come along, you’re ready. I love how you kept your goal, and I love, on behalf of all clinicians everywhere, that you did your homework. That makes me so happy!
Allan (43:09): I did my homework. I’m a personal trainer and I’ll be the first to admit that – and you have the four pillars in your book – food is probably the most important one relative to health. I even put stress and sleep above exercise, because I’ve seen those hold people back so much more than exercise can move you forward. But if you hurt yourself, go to the doctor, get it fixed, don’t think it’s just going to fix itself. A slipped disc, a torn rotator cuff – we’re going to deal with those things, those muffin moments. Get it fixed. See the physical therapist, get yourself well, and then it’s time to go back to training. Make sure you’re doing the things to heal yourself before you try to tough it through. This is not a grit contest; you’re not going to get any points for grinding your way through things in life.
Dr. Jaime Hope (44:11): There’s no trophy if your arm falls off just because you were too stupid to go get it checked.
Allan (44:18): This is all about taking care of yourself.
Dr. Jaime Hope (44:20): Yes, absolutely.
Allan (44:23): I’ve got one more question. I define “wellness” as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
Dr. Jaime Hope (44:37): I love this. This is so fun. So, my number one thing is sleep. Please, please, please, sleep more. We are not getting enough sleep. We’re not getting quality sleep. We’re interrupting our sleep with electronics and lights and all this other stuff. Like you said, it’s hard to exercise if you’re exhausted. It’s hard to lose weight with diet if you’re exhausted. It’s honestly hard to function. When you’re sleep deprived a certain number of hours, it’s like taking a shot of whiskey. That’s not how you want to live your life. You’re not having this high level cognitive function, you don’t recover as well, you get sick more often and you can’t hit your other goals. I think it’s that secret one that people don’t focus on enough, so I’m choosing that as my number one – sleep.
Number two – I love to remind people that self-care isn’t selfish. We have this crazy idea that we have to run ourselves into the ground and work a billion hours, because people actually do reward you: “Oh, you worked 60 hours this week. 100 hours? Oh, you’re so amazing! High five!” That’s crazy. If you’re trying to run a high level company or take care of your children or a sick parent or anything, if you’re taking care of yourself and your health is solid, you’ll be so much better able to do all those other things. So you have to make this a priority. You can integrate it in your family time. There are tons of different ways you can do it, but self-care is not selfish.
And number three is, look for the experts. Unfortunately, the diet industry, the whole weight loss health industry, they say 40 billion – I think that’s a conservative estimate. If you’re looking for quackery and gimmicks and crap, I assure you you can find it. So, looking for experts in what you’re doing. If you need help with exercises, talk to a physical trainer, even if you hire them for a few sessions. If you hurt yourself, go to a doctor, go to a physical therapist. Go to the people who know what they’re doing so you can learn how to do it correctly, instead of spending substantially more time trying to fix the mistakes that you made on the backend. So absolutely, the experts are experts for a reason. Listen to audio books, listen to podcasts. These people like Allan are out there. I’ve been listening to the other podcasts and I think this is really helpful. So use the resources of the experts; it’s all at your fingertips.
Allan (47:15): Awesome. Thank you, Jaime. If someone wanted to learn more about you or the book, Habit That!, where would you like for me to send them?
Dr. Jaime Hope (47:24): My website is DrHopeHealth.com. That’s where I’ve got the free PDFs for the SMARTER goals, the 12 reasons, a bunch of different things that you can print out for free. I run a Facebook group called The HabitThat Tribe for regular, realistic people who are trying to incorporate healthier habits into their lives, whether it’s about stress or diet or anything like that. It’s a supportive tribe for people who are just looking to get healthier. I’m on Twitter @DrHopeHealth, and the book is available on Amazon.
Allan (48:04): Awesome. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/373 and I’ll be sure to have links to all of those there. Dr. Hope, again, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Jaime Hope (48:16): Allan, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you for what you do. It really matters and I am very grateful to be a part of it.
Allan (48:22):Thank you.
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