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Dr. Arthur Agatston inventer of the South Beach Diet, has added a new twist to the wildly successful diet making it even better. His keto-friendly version should help you drop the weight for good. We discuss his new book, The New Keto-Friendly South Beach Diet on this episode.
Allan: 01:00 Dr. Agatston, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Agatston: 01:03 Great to be with you Allan.
Allan: 01:04 Your new book. It's called The New Keto-Friendly South Beach Diet and I want to say, okay. I knew about the South beach diet, but it came out at a time in my life when I didn't really have to think about what I was eating or what I was doing, so I was familiar with it being, you know, kind of a more of a whole food protein style diet. Not dissimilar from some of the other stuff that was out there like Atkins and whatnot, but still very effective. A lot of people that I knew that did the South beach Diet really got good effect.
Dr. Agatston: 01:33 Yes, and I must say you weren't that interested the I was not that interested in diet. I was always thin until I realized I was, well I didn't realize it then, but I was addicted to sugar and I was pre what I call pre pre-diabetic even though my blood sugar is, everything appeared normal. But I, once I got off the bad, carbohydrates and sugar, I lost weight and it was I guess in my early fourth reason. I know, I love your show that 40 plus fitness because things change as we age, we get more fat, less lean body mass, less muscle and bone and exercise. The proper diet becomes more and more important as we age. Although our youth today are in big trouble with their diets. So it starts early, but it is tougher, is tougher as as as we age.
Allan: 02:35 Yeah. And I definitely want to get into some of the warning flags and things that we can look to before we get there. Because again, yeah, the doctors are going to say, Oh, you're a A1C is fine. Keep eating the way you're eating. That's not necessarily the answer. Because historically, I mean if we look back and you think about it and you, you talked about bears hibernating, but you know, in a, in a sense, human beings, we went through feast and famine ourselves, you know, and we would get into that. We get into that same season when when the bears fattening himself up and we're finding the berries and the nuts and we're, we're just gorging on that stuff. So our, our bodies were kind of pre-wired to put us into, for lack of a better word, what you call it. You were doing it like bingeing like you would eat a part of a blueberry pie and then you'd go back and eat the rest of it. I think that's just natural for us to do.
Dr. Agatston: 03:28 Yes, I love the, I do love the grizzly bear analogy. We're always either storing food for either an overnight fast when we're going to sleep or you know, in our history it was more often for times of famine and it's all mammals, but it's really almost all living. Ever since we became multicell cellular organisms, we had a, have a way of storing energy to use when there was no energy available from the environment. And so the fat storage mode where when we eat, whether carbohydrates, sugar turns into fat, other than what we're burning for our immediate needs and it's stored as fat and to some degree has starch or glycogen in our liver and our muscle. And usually we needed that not only when we slept and more eating, but we never had the luxury of three meals a day.
In most of our history. We were in a sense doing intermittent fasting, which gave us time for our insulin levels to go down when we ate our insulin levels go up, we store, we store storage in fat, and when it goes down, we burn it for energy. And that important survival mechanism has been totally upside down. When we have only the feast, we don't have famine. And so we're storing fat indefinitely and really creating physiologic problems that we never had in our natural existence. And it's most recently it's the abuse of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, which is, has been important because when it was introduced, it was ubiquitous really in everything and often a hidden killer in a sense. And our intake of sugar went up tremendously, really starting in the 1980s at the beginning of our obesity epidemic.
And people didn't realize they were consuming all the sugar and it was turning into fat being stored for a famine that never comes. And that's what really messed up our physiology, caused all the modern diseases. Yeah. We think of obesity. We think of diabetes, we think of heart disease, but it's cancer, it's depression, it's Alzheimer's. And every time we bring our standard American diet called the sad diet to another country, whether it's Dubai, Mumbai, Beijing, Tokyo, they get all the Western diseases, not just diabetes and obesity, but increased rates of cancer, again in Alzheimer's, autoimmune disease, all our chronic diseases. And when, what we often see now is when people came from more traditional diets like Asians, the Japanese had been studied carefully when they moved from Tokyo to Hawaii, to San Francisco. The rest of the United States, they, we've known for years, they get increased heart attacks, but they also get increased cancer, particularly breast cancer has been very well studied in Japanese women from Tokyo to the to the Midwestern United States. And so the cancer goes up as well as the obesity, the diabetes, and the heart disease.
Allan: 07:25 Yeah, so one of the things that you got into in the book is, okay, so you had, you know, we had the South beach diet and for a lot of people that was very useful because they went through a phase where they kind of allowed their body to change its insulin mode and effectively. Then after that short phase, they could go on and start reintroducing some of the food, say before until they kind of found that balance of a whole food diet that was basically much more nutritious for them. But you've adapted that so that the new South beach, new keto friendly South beach diet is just a little different. Can you kind of compare and contrast those and and why you use the term keto friendly versus just making it a keto diet?
Dr. Agatston: 08:05 Yes. I'm one of the first things that in the original South beach by the first phase, which was the low almost Keto phase only went for two weeks and what we know now, once it did get rid of cravings, the other thing that happens when you're low, you're low carb, low sugar, low processed foods is when you run out of your starch, your glycogen stores in your, in your liver and your muscle. You then have to get fat adapted, which means you really turn on the hormones, the enzymes that break down fat and make it useful. One of the best examples is the traditional marathon lovers who get hydrate loading on the night before the marathon and the idea was to fill their livers in their muscle with as much starch glycogen, that's the storage form of sugar if they could, because within two to three hours running the marathon, they would run out of the sugar glycogen stores and they had to burn fat and they weren't good at it, so that was called hitting the wall and they ran out of energy.
Now long-distance runners have learned to be fat-adapted and that takes one to many months and it continues. And I've had that experience myself. So instead of just the first phase being two weeks, we'd go for one to many months of low processed carb, low sugar so that we can learn to use our fat for energy. And the first fat that goes is the belly fat. And today it's interesting the long endurance runners, the people doing triathlons and even more than marathons are going low carb and they don't hit the wall, they burn their fat very well. Now for the rest of us, you know, it takes 12 hours to a day. It's individual where you, you deplete your Icogenics stores and you begin to burn more, more fat and become fat adapted and allowing for that is very important.
When I first became really strict and good, it's when I realized I, I was truly addicted to sugar and I went cold Turkey once. Once, by the way, I understood that I was truly addicted to sugar, that when I cheated, it wasn't a lack of self-discipline. And what would happen to me is I could lose my cravings on the first phase of the South Beach Diet. But when I went to the second phase, I would invariably have a fruit or maybe even a whole grain bread, but I would, or a dessert and I wouldn't sop and now we know it's not a lack of self-discipline. It's truly and addiction and many Americans, especially overweight Americans are addicted. But once I got off that addiction and stayed on sort of the traditional phase one the South beach diet, I did my first, I was, I started the diet while on vacation and I came back and I returned to my, to my boxing, which I did regularly. And I still, I recall vividly, it was a Tuesday morning in late September, hot in south Florida. And normally I would take a round or two off when I did my boxing and all of a sudden I didn't have to take around off. I went continuously for eight rounds and now I can 12 rounds, three minute rounds with a minute and a half rest.
Allan: 12:12 I do have to say this, if you haven't done boxing as a workout, three minutes is an eternity. I have some clients I do some boxing with and you know, we'll go for a minute. I've gotten one, I'm up to about a minute and a half and they're, they're done. You know, like I need a break. And so going, just even going a three minute round is saying something. But for you to have the endurance to be able to, you know, go round after round with what about a minute rest between rounds. That's, that's pretty impressive.
Dr. Agatston: 12:40 For my tender young age, I take an answer 30 seconds in between rounds.
Allan: 12:45 No, but still three, three minutes is a lot of time to keep moving.
Dr. Agatston: 12:49 Yes. And I couldn't in hot, difficult conditions, I would always take rounds off and since I'm fat adapted, I don't, I feel better physically and mentally and that much more than the cosmetics of losing my belly. And then remember I was a diet doctor. My wife used to say, Author, no more TV for you only radio. You get rid of that little belly and so, but it's much more the way I feel and since we've been, we've been more flexible with our patients. The results we see are incredible and besides the fat adption, the longer sort of phase one, the other idea is you don't have to be in full ketosis. Actually, when we're in the fat burning mode, we're often in ketosis. It's the levels we can't measure easily by current methods, but you can, you can lose the belly.
You get all the benefits without actually being in ketosis. The big advantage of ketosis, particularly for people who are diabetic, who really want to jump into something strict, is you can measure your ketosis and you can document compliance and that's, that's good for us often and our patients. But to make the diet a lifestyle, there still has to be more flexibility. We also encourage either time-restricted feeding or intermittent fasting. And we do suggest that with full keto, with fasting that you do it with a nutritionist, to health coach or your physician, your physician so that you can avoid problems such as what's called the keto flu. But so we are flexible in our approach depending on our patient, the needs, the desires and you can even be a vegetarian low carb as long as you're having whole foods and not having other process carbs. It's tougher but you can do it. And of course traditional societies that like the Asians with rice and not the Okinawans with with sweet potatoes, they were some of the, well particularly the Okinawans were some of the longest lived populations in the world, but they didn't eat snacks all day frequently. And now to the degree that sugar has shown its ugly face in all these societies, they are becoming overweight, diabetic and all the Western diseases that had been in the United States for decades.
Allan: 15:48 When you put this together, I mean cause like one of the things you said and I think that's really important is, well a couple of different things, but one that I thinks is really important is that we all are gonna have different needs. We're all going to be slightly different from a biology perspective of how we want to apply this. So there's, there is a lot of flexibility to this to say, I know, okay if I need to lose 30 pounds or I am diabetic, I'm probably gonna stay in phase one and be a little bit more strict and probably get to a point where I am in ketosis if not completely, at least most of the time I'm eating at that low of a low carb. But you have 12 rules for what you call keto friendly eating. Could you just kind of go through those rules with us? Cause I think that'll make a lot more sense to folks when they see, okay. It is really kind of flexible. It 12 rules sounds like a lot, but they're just the basics of if you're eating this way, you're going to be much more healthy.
Yes. And by the way, yeah, you got it exactly because the flexibility is we all come with different degrees of we call the thrifty gene and the tendency towards becoming diabetic ultimately. And so the rules are first minimize sugars is number one. And we might say no sugars, but you know, our parents and grandparents who had the sugar cube in their coffee was a lot different with the amount of sugar we're getting today. And so you can burn some sugar without having stored it. It's the volume that is totally off the charts today. And refined carbohydrates are absorbed more rapidly than whole grain or high fiber carbohydrates. And by being absorbed more rapidly, they, it's called the incorrect in effect, but they increase our insulin levels out of proportion to just the increase in blood sugar, blood sugar alone.
So if you give blood sugar a certain amount intravenously through the vein, the blood sugar goes up a little bit and the insulin goes up a little bit. But when you consume it, then you stimulate hormones. It's something called GIP, which causes an exaggerated increase in insulin. And that's, that's the problem with frequent feeding. And snacking, which we used to say, like everybody said, when you went to the South Beach Diet, have frequent snacks to stabilize your blood sugar, your insulin levels. That was just plain wrong. So the third rule is, is limit snacking. You want to give time for your insulin levels to drop and that's where having very low glycemic foods, whole foods or nothing for breakfast and lunch, that allows your insulin levels to go down. And that's when you can start burning fat. When your insulin levels are high, you block the burning of your fat stores.
So you can be once the, insulin levels stay high and you can't access your fat stores, you can be starving and you run to the fast-food restaurant or you have a coke that doesn't even suppress, doesn't even, doesn't even fill you up. So you want to give time for your insulin levels to drop by not snacking, having fewer larger meals, which is the next in the 12 rules or having foods that are absorbed further down in the intestine and don't increase your blood sugar and your insulin levels. We say maximize the healthy fats and one of the things is while some people I know don't like dairy cause they're sensitive to it, well saturated fat in meat, in dairy, we now know raises your large LDL bad cholesterol particles and they do not cause heart disease.
This is relatively recent knowledge but it's done. It's been repeated in several large studies. It's the small LDL particles that cause heart disease and they come from sugar and bad carbohydrates. And one other point that out the bad carbohydrates is again, it's volume. Because when you have a bad carbohydrate, you either burn it or if it's glucose, not sugar, you can store it as glycogen, as starch, but only so much about 700 calories. Then you then it turns into fat.
Allan: 20:50 Yeah. But that's part of the problem is these processed carbohydrates are process to basically make us eat more. That's what the food manufacturers are doing. If you don't eat, let's just say you're not going to eat one Pringle. You could eat one Pringle and maybe you'd love the taste of it and that would be all you needed. Your body could absorb that and you'd be fine, but invariably it's a long sleeve and you're not just going to eat one.
Yes, absolutely. And one of my favorite books by Dr. Robert Lustig from UC San Francisco, the Hacking of the American Mind, and he talks about how the food companies make us addicted. And yeah, I mean sugar. I seen another friend, Dr. David Ludwig, did a study where they gave Cokes to teenagers before they ran into a fast-food restaurant and they ate more, not less because fructose, the sugar in the cokes does not suppressed. There's not suppress your appetite. It actually increases. And again, those processed carbohydrates including sugar are absorbed at the beginning of your small intestine or you get that bad incretin effect where your insulin goes way up, and sugar is not turned into starch or glycogen in your liver. It's either burned or it's turned into fat right away. So a high sugar diet is a high-fat diet. And then we say, you know, limit the Omega six vegetable oils.
Of course, the original vegetable oils, and they're not made from vegetables. They're made from, from seeds. The first were made from cotton seeds now soybean and many other types. And they originally they were hydrogenated for shell finding and that was shown not to be healthy, to be very unhealthy. They were outlawed. But instead of going to just traditional saturated fats such as lard, butter, coconut oils or olive oils there going into nonhydrogenated vegetable oils. And Americans were never, humans, in general, were never exposed to naturally. We need small amounts of these or else they're called on your Omega six oils, which today are the vegetable oils and small amounts are fine, but when you process them and create the salad dressings, the cooking oils, we were never meant to have that many oils and it throws out our Omega six inflammatory measures to Omega three oils which are anti-inflammatory.
So where our ratio of omega six to omega three should be from one to four to five to one in most Americans its greater than 10 to one. And so you should be avoiding all vegetable oils as far as I'm concerned, it's proinflammatory but your vegetables and you know the nonstarchy vegetables, asparagus and brocolli, Brussels sprouts and green leafy vegetables, the spinach, those are all good. Yet when the problem is when we always talk about fruits and vegetables because a lot of fruits have a lot of fructose, particularly the tropical fruits, so fruits have anti oxidants that could be good for us when it's a whole fruit in the form of a Berry, but a lot of people think they're being healthy cause they're having a lot of fruits and they can overdo it because of the sugar and the fructose that makes the fruit sweet so we shouldn't be always loving vegetables and fruits and fruits together and then a wide variety of needs, poultry, seafood all very nutrient-rich and eat primarily whole foods.
The best example of this I think is the field cut truly whole grain oats versus instant oatmeal and with actually the same amount of fiber when you have the steel-cut oatmeal, the sugar or the or the starch core of the oat is surrounded by fiber. It takes a while to digest and releases the starch, the sugar into the blood stream slowly and you stimulate the enzymes further down the intestine that are good when you have processed instant oat meal. Even if you have the same amount of fiber, it's not surrounding the starch core and so it's absorbed much more rapidly. The enzymes, the hormones have direct access to the starch, it turns to sugar instantaneously and that increases your insulin levels rapidly and you're much hungrier. The studies have been done, you're much hungrier sooner than if you have the steel cut true oatmeal.
So, and that's true of eating whole foods and that means whole foods adding the fiber in separately. There's just a lot less evidence that that's helpful. And flexibility. It's more important not to be snacking and not to be eating frequently often than sometimes what you eat if you're eating in a relatively small window or during intermittent fasting. I hate to say, you can get away with more because you do increase your starch stores and your insulin, but then you have a long period of time to burn off that starch and the fat that's been consumed. So we prefer whole good foods all the time. But if you're going to be, if you're going to cheat, cheating in a short window is much better than if you're grazing and eating all day. That's disaster. There were snacking very well documented where we're eating many more times per day than we were in the 1970s and it's cause we're walking around hungry all day because our blood sugars are swinging around and our insulin levels are high and we don't have access to that big store of fat in our bellies.
Allan: 27:38 Well, and I think flexibility is important, but this is not, we're not talking about a license to just say, okay, I'm going to allow myself to have a piece of cake every night because I can, I'm only having, you know, two big meals a day and therefore I know I can have, and that's great. But if you're wanting weight loss, if you're diabetic or prediabetic or as we're going to get into in a minute pre pre-diabetic, then you have to understand, or you no you're addicted to sugar. You really have to think hard about how you can approach this and use this diet as a tool to get yourself healthy, to get yourself off that addiction because it's possible. But if you're going to start the game cheating, you probably not going to get there very fast.
And by the way, I mean that is the mistake that I frequently made without knowing. But even now, I mean, in the holiday season, if I'm acting in a fair, and this has happened and I, you know, and I eat the wrong food, the addiction comes back so quickly. And other than that, knowledge of I I can't do this or I can't keep doing this and I can get back on the wagon pretty quickly. But you're, you're, you're absolutely right. This is not a license to be cheating every night. I mean, the good thing if it's once a month or you know, somebody loves their pasta meal and there's a good amount of protein with it. And that's, that's again, depending on the individual, some people will immediately fall off the wagon and get into big trouble. Others, I always have patients who don't have the sweet tooth I have and they can have a bite or something and have a bite, you know. In Miami we have, we have Joe's stone crab and their key line pie. And I generally can that have just one bite. So I don't have it at all. And others can, including my wife. So that's knowing how each of us are as individuals.
Allan: 29:44 And that's one of the things I liked about your book was it took that into account and said, you know, because now you've dealt with thousands of patients and yourself and it's like we're all going to have to approach this slightly differently and we're going to figure out what works for us and we're just going to have to be self aware that you know, if we have this addiction, if we have this issue. One of the things you had in the book, which I thought was really, really important because by the time you go to the doctor and your A1C is over six and they're going to start now diagnosing you with diabetes, you're way down the road and you talk about some tests, some things we can look at before we even get to that point. And so these are tests I'm actually kind of interested in having done because my A1C is great. My blood sugar is great, but that doesn't mean I'm out of the woods. It just might mean that right now my body's creating a ton of insulin and it's able to shuttle all of that blood sugar away so I don't stay in a high blood sugar state. So one of them you call was, it was basically the insulin resistance test or you know, insulin. And then the other one was called the Atkinson calcium score.
Yes. The first, as far the points you've made about insulin are so, so important. So in fact, if we take in America healthy young, 20-year-olds, not overweight today versus the 1970s their hemoglobin A1C, maybe five are they're very normal. They're fasting. Blood sugars are absolutely, absolutely normal. They give a glucose tolerance test where you take a drink of 75 grams of sugar, glucose and wait two hours, their blood sugar comes down. But if you measure the insulin levels, it's taking four times normal insulin levels to keep their blood sugar normal. And that's already hacking fat into their liver, if you anybody, even teenagers, if you see a belly on anybody, a little protrusion, it means they have high insulin levels and they have excess fat in their liver. That's where it all, it all starts. So the test that we do, we call it the insulin secretion test, your insulin-resistant test.
It was actually developed by Dr. Joseph Kraft in the 1970s he died recently at age 94 and unfortunately, he did great work. Unfortunately, it was not recognized by the nutrition establishment, including the American diet. I thinks its an association. Partly, you can only measure insulin levels. In the 1960s the developers undercut the Nobel prize and hasn't been measured clinically until very recently. But he did the measurements when it was very expensive, but on 15,000 patients and he found that he called it diabetes insight too. I call it, it's kind of a medical term, I call it pre prediabetes because anybody with high insulin levels is having problems already, whether they know it or not. Including depression. There is an epidemic of colon cancer in young people, breast cancer, which are related to high levels of insulin. And so the real tests you need, which I'd like to give Kraft credit, called the Kraft test, is you take the insulin, the glucose drink, which was given in the traditional oral glucose tolerance test.
All pregnant women today get the oral glucose tolerance test, and instead of just measuring blood sugar, you measure insulin levels. And so, so many people who have bellies and some, are what do you call it? TOFI. There's thin on the outside and fat on the inside. If you look with a CT scan, cat scan of their belly, they have belly fat. Even though from the outside you would never realize it. And so you can really only tell, you could do it if you do a special MRI of the liver, but that's too expensive and not practical. The Kraft insulin secretion test, it's not expensive. The main thing is it's done over two hours. You do a fasting in some level, then you drink the glucose and then you repeat it at 30 minutes, 60 minutes, 90 minutes and two hours. And so we see patients who already have plaque in their coronary arteries, they have all kinds of chronic illness and their A1C is normal.
And so the fact is it takes years to develop. The fat is not only in your liver, it's also in your pancreas, and it's not till your pancreatic beta cells that make insulin, that synthesize insulin, become injured by the fat in the pancreas and you can't make enough insulin to keep your blood sugar normal. That's when your A1C, your fasting blood sugar goes up. And that's when we diagnose you have a problem pre diabetes or diabetes. But in fact, 10- 20 years before you can measure high insulin levels and people are suffering from again, skin problems to having cancer to heart disease when they're told your blood sugar is normal, don't worry about it. So that's, it's so important to understand. If you have a belly, you have high insulin levels, you're at risk of having heart disease, diabetes and cancer and Alzheimer's. Even though your doctor say your blood sugar is normal. So it's very important to get that word out right.
Allan: 35:43 And then the calcium score is basically going to tell us how much plaque is built up already.
Dr. Agatston: 35:50 So yeah, the calcium score I developed with my colleague Warren Janowitz. And if you're heading for a heart attack, if say you're 40 years old and you're heading for a heart attack when you're 50, 55, 60, you already have plaque in your coronary artery. And with the calcium score, it's inexpensive. In Miami, it's $99. At Johns Hopkins, it's $75 to have the test. You can,uand it's essentially no radiation. It's a cat scan that has some radiation, but you get more radiation when you, when you fly in distance. So the radiation is not an issue for cost is really not an issue. And even though your cholesterol might be normal, things can look normal.
But again, if you have a lot of small LDL particles and other problems that are hidden, you may be developing plaque and you can't tell with a cholesterol test, LDL test or any other tests. Here you're looking directly in the coronaries with a safe, inexpensive test and that tells you what your risk is of a future heart attack. But it also, it predicts all cause mortality because it indicates how the various risk factors for chronic disease are mixing in you as an individual. So the one thing that we see now is we see people whose hemoglobin A1C, their blood sugars are normal, but they have high insulin levels. They may have some other genetic markers that we look for cause you're my practices is cardiac prevention. But those tests are not so difficult to get either. But the main thing is that with the high insulin levels, the sugar and bad carbs they're consuming is turning into fat in the liver and they're overloading the liver with fat.
That causes a lot of problems. But one thing it does is it turns the normal LDL in to small dense LDL, small LDL particles that are not cleared by the, in the bloodstream easily. They don't fit into the usual receptors. They become oxidized and the oxidized LDL sticks to the vessel wall. It gets underneath the vessel wall, builds up the plaque and we again can see with the calcium score, you can see the build up of that plaque and the result of the high insulin levels years before you get chest pain or a heart attack and you can monitor it and then can prevent it.
Allan: 38:36 And I think that's huge. You know, so many of the tests and the things that we get diagnosed with, we're already sick and this is an opportunity for you to catch it much, much earlier, even if the other tests are coming out relatively clean these are really cool. I, I really appreciate this cause I was having, I mean I remember interviewing Dr. Fung and his, his book about the Obesity Code, and back then and he's like, you know, it didn't make any sense to measure insulin because you're doing it fast and you're doing it one time. But you know, here's some advancement where we're saying, well let's, let's go ahead and test the other side of this. The sugar is glucose equation. Basically using the same test, just looking at the actual insulin response, which I again, I think that's just brilliant.
Dr. Agatston: 39:17 And I yeah, I admire Dr. Fung a lot. And but you can't just measure the fasting insulin. We have people with normal fasting insulins and I'm particularly young people are at at 30 minutes after the glucose load their, I mean their insulin levels are in the hundreds, whereas their fasting glucose is normal. In older patients, you get more and more of the delay in the insulin, which indicates dysfunction of the beta cells in the pancreas that are making insulin. And that's because fat, we know that you get a fatty liver years again before you're diabetic or, or even pre-diabetic. And the fat is also going into your pancreas and interfering with the beta cells. And so you get a delay in the insulin secretion. So we can see both the degree of insulin resistance and the degree of what we call beta cell dysfunction, the pancreatic dysfunction that eventually is going to lead to the high blood sugars when you can no longer make enough insulin to keep the blood sugar normal.
And the other thing with this delay in the production of insulin is the insulin peeks hours after a meal and it stays high and that's that high insulin level that is locking in the fat after a meal. So when people get up in the middle of the night starving, even though they have all these fat stores in their belly, in their liver, in their muscle, the problem is they have sustained high insulin levels that blocks the enzymes that breaks down the fat and gives you the energy in the hibernating bear late in the fall. The bear is, they're eating the fruit that's become ripe. That's why fruit is seasonal and they are ravenous, depleting the forest of blueberries and other berries, even though the bear has already put on 400, 600 pounds of fat, but they don't have access to the fat because their insulin levels high. So they can continue to put on the fat for the winter hibernation.
Once they're hibernating and they're not consuming that fruit and the fructose in the fruit, then their insulin levels drop. Now they have access to the fat and that's how they hibernate the whole winter without eating because its that fat that is helping their brain, their kidneys, their heart to continue to function while they're asleep. So normally when we sleep every night we're not eating, so we're accessing our storage starch and fat. But what our insulin levels are high, we can't. So the blood sugar falls and we may wake up in the middle of the night starving and go to the refrigerator and have whatever sugar and carbs are there to bring our blood sugar back up. So it becomes a really vicious cycle.
Allan: 42:36 Yes it does. And so I think this is, you know, we're, we're into January here and I think, so this is kind of a great time to look at something like the Keto Friendly South Beach Diet because it's going to help you regulate your insulin. It's going to help you kind of go through a good period now where you can be thinking in terms of the bear or humans and what we would and wouldn't be eating. The rules are pretty simple. You do have meal plans in there and recipes so it's all put together very well. So again, I think this is an excellent opportunity to take something that worked. The South beach diet definitely was one of those things that people, when they follow it, it worked and you've improved it, which I think again is just wonderful.
Dr. Agatston: 43:16 Well thank you. Thank you so much. And Allan, I mean you obviously you really got it. And it's part of the book is certainly understanding the principles because even for me, who was the cardiologist diet doctor telling, putting my patients on diets for years, but I didn't understand the addiction aspect. Once I did it made such a difference for me and it is, it is for my patients. So this was not necessary eating differently. I mean it was the understanding that made me stick to principles that I already knew. So understanding the role of insulin and how it's different for all of us and understanding flexibility, understanding that America is not overweight because we all of a sudden lost our discipline or for that matter have stopped exercising. Exercise is very, very important. But what causes, what's caused the obesity and chronic disease epidemic is mainly, it's mainly the way we're eating.
Allan: 44:22 I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest, and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and sta well?
Dr. Agatston: 44:32 I would say understand insulin, keep it down, don't snack between meals, try some intermittent fasting and others is getting a good night's sleep and this enters in. Of course, if you're overweight and have sleep apnea, you may not be able to sleep proper, but we know a lack of sleep. Again, it stimulates enzymes and hormones that lead to high insulin levels and the other is regular exercise. And exercise is not going to be a solution from the calorie burning aspects. They prove that on the Biggest Loser for your, for your brain, for insulin sensitivity, for keeping up lean body mass. And you know I, you know, I love your podcast and the and being well over 40 plus that we have to keep our muscle and our bone. And you know, when we weigh ourselves, it's the weight, the BMI doesn't really mean anything because that includes, muscle, bone and fat under our skin, when we call the subcutaneous fat, it's only the fat in and around or origins.
That's the dangerous fat that we have that we have to worry about. And regular exercise, it improves our brain function, improves our sensitivity to insulin. So it decreases insulin resistance and it helps us age. We sustain lean body mass and on balance and so many things that's part of healthy aging. And I agree with you. Wellness, we use the term optimal health and it's, it's your vitality. And again, what's kept me on the changes in the diet that I made is I vitality, my ability to exercise, my ability to concentrate, get rid of the brain fog. And it's all those things. My belly was often hidden, people couldn't see it where I was wearing clothes but I knew it was there, but it's because I feel so much better with this and this type of lifestyle. So sleeping right, my exercising right and eating right.
And as you age you have to be more and more concerned about each of these elements. And so I really applaud for what you do with 40 plus as we age, we do become more insulin resistant and it becomes tougher and tougher and you have to get enough sleep, enough exercise and eat the right foods and not eat too often.
Allan: 47:18 Great. Thank you for that. So Dr. Agatston, if someone wanted to learn more about you or learn more about the book, The New Keto-Friendly South Beach Diet, where would you like for me to send them?
Dr. Agatston: 47:30 South beach diet website changed recently.
Allan: 47:36 Okay. That's good. Yeah. Just send me the link and I'll make the show notes so you can go to…
Dr. Agatston: 47:41 Agatstoncenter.Com is our office, our website. It has all of information too.
Allan: 47:48 Cool. Well you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/416 and I'll be sure to have those links there. So Doctor, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Agatston: 47:58 Thank you Allan so much. It was really enjoyable.
It's that time of year. It's the time of year when everybody is thinking about health and fitness. Maybe you've set some resolutions, maybe this is the year that you want to get healthy and fit and if it is and you need a little bit of help, check it out at 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/coach you can come on as a group client and I can help you lose weight, get stronger and make 2020 something special. Go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/coach.
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Dr. Alejandro Junger is a New York times bestselling author of the book clean. He completed his training in New York, downtown hospital with a fellowship in cardiology and he mixes Eastern medicine into the way he treats his patients holistically.
Allan: 01:02 Dr. Junger welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Junger: 01:05 Thank you for having me.
Allan: 01:06 I really enjoyed your book, the Clean 7 and I thought it was kind of fascinating. You were, you were in the book, you were talking about one of your mentors was actually one of the individuals that was in that plane accident. It got trapped up in the mountains, you know, the way they did the movie alive on. Yeah. I just thought that was kind of fascinating. Dr Roberto. Yes. And so, and he was, he was one of them that came down out of the mountains and actually got him rescued, wasn't he?
Dr. Junger: 01:31 He was one of the two that ventured off into the unknown, completely a mash created with meat of his friends' bodies in rugby socks and walked up and down the mountains for 10 days and arrived in Chile and found a farmer who called the army.
Allan: 01:51 That's just fascinating. Like I said, that would just be someone interesting to be hanging out with and getting to know. And then also being your mentor, you know, just wanting to really inspirationally look up to each day. It's like, I can do anything. I can do anything. You know.
Dr. Junger: 02:06 The life force on this man is compared to nothing I've ever met.
Allan: 02:10 Well, that was just a cool little side to the story, that story that you had in the book, but I liked your stories because it was the real realism of, okay, you're, you're a Western really trained medical doctor and you're getting into functional medicine and then you're seeing examples of [inaudible] medicine and you're with your program now clean seven. You blending those together to give people tools to get healthy.
Dr. Junger: 02:36 Yeah, well, functional medicine and an understanding of why your very good medicine didn't come into much later. You know, I got sick and I started looking for solutions that did not include seven prescription medications for my health issues at the time and, and I went blind just on a search and it was through my search that I stand. I started finding things. One of the pillars of what I found was the concepts and practices of detoxification. And then once I got into it at the beginning, not understanding the biology behind it or the science behind it, but really experiencing the benefits. Then in my obsession to really understand was when I came aware of functional medicine, which really explained detoxification in detail, right? A word that they don't use anymore because it's kind of being misused and it leads to confusion. So the word now is biotransformation, which is what is happening to the toxic molecules. They get bio transformed from toxic into nontoxic and from lipophyllic or or fat-soluble into water soluble so that they can be excreted and eliminated.
Allan: 03:55 Yeah. I think that we're a detox to scare a lot of people because you, you, you get these crazies selling these shakes or these, you know, there's these things you drink and messes with your system.
Dr. Junger: 04:07 Yeah. Even even in the medical world when, you know, when I first heard somebody that told me, you know, they did a detox program, I had only studied as what you send your patients to do when they're alcoholics or drug addicts.
Allan: 04:24 Yeah. So in your Clean 7 there, there are three pillars that you're kind of bringing together to help us improve our health. Can you talk about those three pillars?
Dr. Junger: 04:34 Well, the first pillar is functional medicine, and I use concepts from functional medicine. Basically, the concepts from functional medicine that I use are the elimination diets and the five R's, right? What? In functional medicine, it's called the five bars. So the elimination diet is basically a diet in which you eliminate any foods that are processed, that contain any chemicals or toxic molecules or any non-natural ingredients, right? And he's based on whole foods, primarily vegetables and fruits. But there's other things too. And in my experience, the elimination diet alone is really, really powerful. When in my practice, people come and I, whether I have an idea of what they have at the beginning or I have no idea, will what they have in my first course rotation, while we wait for an blood tests and other tests, I put people on the elimination diet in about 60% of the people when they come back for the test results have experienced immense benefits, if not complete resolution of their problems.
So that alone is really, really powerful. The five R's are the first art is for remove, which means removing everything that hinders physiology. Right? Not only toxic molecules, but, but also bad bacteria or other organisms in the intestines, but company stress, stress, and by situations, right? So the second R stands for re introduce or replace, which is basically talking about reintroducing or replacing the bad things that we eat with nutritious foods, with foods that contain nutrients. Because what happens is the liver and other tissues that do the detoxification processes and reactions need substrates need elements need nutrients in order to attach to the toxic molecules to render them nontoxic. The third R is for re inoculation. As you remove the bad bacteria and other organisms in the gut, you want to reinoculate with good bacteria and organisms. The fourth R is for repair. And this specifically talks about the repair of the intestinal lining, which I called our Achilles heel because mostly all, if not all of chronic diseases of the modern world begin in the gut.
And one of the first things that happens in the gut, apart from the disruption of the, of the biome and leading to dysbiosis. The second thing that happens or concomitantly is the breaking of the intestinal lining. The intestinal lining should be made of cells that are stuck together in what is described as tight junctions, making it impermeable. Oh, for, for anything that is not actively and specifically chosen by the cells to be absorbed and thrown into the circulation. When that integrity, when that continuity of, of the barrier is disrupted, leads to what a lot of people now know as leaky gut or hyperpermeability. And the fifth R is for relaxation because apart from the toxic molecules that we are exposed through the air, we breathe the water, we drink and shower with the medications we use, the cosmetics, we use, the cleaning products that we use in our homes, but mostly through the foods that we eat.
The biggest factor together with those toxic molecules in our modern world is stress. So relaxation is really an important factor as well for restoring your body's ability to heal itself. Okay. And then beyond that functional medicine piece, you then get into the second. Yeah. The second pillar of, you know, the clean seven program are concepts and practices that come from Ayurvedic medicine. And even though I'm not an Ayurvedic medicine expert, I've learned from one of the legends of Ayurvedic medicine who really boil it down to me, made it really simple and taught me how to enhance the detox processes through certain Ayurvedic principles, right? One of them is the dosha system and the other one is the use of Ayurvedic herbs. And this is specifically as it relates to detoxification. So by using the dosha system, you further individualize the approach and you tailor the approach to the different doses, right?
And now Ayurvedic medicine, there's basically three doses or body constitutions. And this refers to the way that your body works energetically. And it's based on the distinction of the influence of the different elements which make everything fire, earth, wind, water and eat right. And each one of us has all the elements within us, but there's one or two that are predominant and the predominant element is the one that is most prone to go out of balance. So by determining your dosha or your predominant element, you will know what foods, what activities and what other things in your life are influenced most by the element that is your predominant element. And that will most likely throw your predominant element out of balance. For example, if you are of fire predominant constitution, anything that is of predominant fire country station will be adding fire to fire and throw your fire.
So for example, fiery foods will be the ones that you would need to limit yourself or eliminate at least during the times where when your dosha is out of balance. So by using this system of doses, this doctor dr Narendra Singh from, from India, who was worldwide known, taught me that the detoxification processes will be enhanced, right? The dosha system is applied to many other things of which I am only peripherally aware, right? But since I was really focusing on enhancing the detox processes in people and supporting the detox organs and systems, he said, if you use the dosha system, you will enhance the results, you will improve the results. The other thing that comes from Ayurvedic medicine is the use of Ayurvedic herbs, which not only provide people with a world of nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber, but also affect the body energetically through their product and prioritize the, the live energy within them.
That really helps to shift things around and mostly what I use in clean seven are what are called adaptogenic herbs, which really improve your balance physiological balance. For example, if you are adrenally exhausted, they will help recharge and that will help the adrenals work better, but if you are hyperactive in a way your adrenals are, are hyperactive, they will bring them down so they help your body adapt to whatever situation your body is in at the time. Right?
The third pillar of the Clean 7 program is intermittent fasting and this is something that now has become part of the mass consciousness. Everybody's trying some kind of intermittent fasting. But to boil it down to the basics for thousands and thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of years, depending on who you talk to. Our way of life was much like the animals that are now living in the wild according to the way that nature designed them to live.
And living in the places where nature designed them to live and eating in the way that nature designed them. To me, and if you look at animals in the wild, what is life about? It's about looking for food feasting when food is found and then taking a rest and then starting to look for food again until they find one. And until they find one, they will have imposed episodes of fasting. So in that way, our genes evolved for thousands of years, let's say. And the time, if you draw a line in evolution, the time in which we had food 24 seven available to us is a dot. A microscopic. Dot in the timeline. So the concept that I'm trying to make people aware is that our genes have not had the evolutionary time to adapt to eating all the time. So the body and the and your genes treat food as and the whole thing around food as it was thousands of years ago, which means when food is found that your genes say, okay, this is what life depends on.
Let's slow everything else down so that we can utilize as much of what we are eating as possible and store as much as we can because we don't know where the next meal is coming from. This is how it used to be. Our genes right now cannot know that in two hours or in two minutes you're going to be eating again. So the moment you put something in your system, the moment your digestive system detects food, your whole functioning mode will shift into utilizing that time and the energy in your body will be directed mostly towards digestion, absorption, assimilation and storage, stealing energy from other systems. For example, everybody knows that after a huge meal you fall asleep or you've, you know, you become lethargic. And this is the prime example of what I'm talking about. Why? Because as long as there's food in your intestines, as long as your intestines are digesting, that is given priority and the energy is stolen from thinking, from moving, from detoxifying, right?
So as we live these days, we are mostly digesting all the time. We don't finish digesting one meal and we introduced another one. So there is not a time where we're not digesting. So the physiologic machinery is always turned into the feasting mode and he's never led be in the fasting mode. And it's like in a way, living with the sun is shining all the time without, without going into the dark and having the opportunity to sleep. And this is instead of having a ying and yang in your lives, only having yet it's non-sustainable. And this is one of the reasons that humanity is sick. This concept of breakfast, lunch and dinner and snacks in the middle is something that's new and it's mostly driven these days by economic interests. So we need to rethink the way we live up to the basic things that we take for granted, like breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And this is why intermittent fasting is part of the clean seven program because it really makes your genes happy and accelerates everything that we're trying to do by detoxifying or doing a detox program or a biotransformation program. And it also enhances not only the detox processes, but the healing and repairing processes as well. Yeah, I mean, because if you go into a fast, you're going to get some autophagy, which is where your body's going to actually start
Allan: 17:50 Getting rid of some bad cells and re-purposing them, and then also you're going to increase your human growth hormone. So it's, it's actually scientifically proven that the fasting process is a healing, restoring process.
Dr. Junger: 18:04 Yeah. Now, now you are going kind of deep into the subject, but the thing is, the thing is you're jumping the gun because when you talk about apoptosis or the process by which your body starts eating itself, starting with the disease cells, I don't think it happens within 24 hours of being in the fasting mode. I think it takes, and this is just my opinion and from what I've been observing, because there's no studies that categorically determine this, right? But I think it takes a few more days of being really in a fasting state in order for that to start happening. So this, I don't think this is part of why intermittent fasting is beneficial because people, when they intermittently fast, they fast forward 16 hours, 18 hours, 20 hours, 24 hours. But nobody goes further than that.
Allan: 18:56 Yeah, the only reason I think that it's some of that is naturally occurring is I'll watch bodybuilders that'll use intermittent fasting and they're not losing body mass. You know, they're still gaining body mass at a time when they're not intaking as much protein as they normally would. And I know there's going to be some amino acids circulating in your bloodstream, but for them to continue to put on muscle while doing intermittent fasting tells me that there's something going on where the body's reusing body cells at some level and the body is still able to be strong, get strong and gain muscle. So I know, I think some of that stuff is, is starting to happen. But maybe like you said, yeah, it's a third day or the fourth, you know, second or fourth day, somewhere in there where their body really starts to kick in with some of those.
Dr. Junger: 19:41 Listen, and you may be right or I really don't know because nobody has really determined this through serious studies, but let's stay tuned and find out what he does.
Allan: 19:53 Right? So, so our three pillars here are functional medicine that looks at the body holistically and does some elimination diets such that we can get the bad stuff out and give our body what it needs to restore and heal. We're basing it on [inaudible] principles of the doses so that we're eliminating the right foods for our own personal being and we're including some of the herbs that will support then our systems and processes in help get us into balance. And then the final bit is we're introducing intermittent fasting as a means of giving our body the time to have the processes and the restoration occurs. So
Dr. Junger: 20:31 That's right. And don't forget on the first one also the five RS.
Allan: 20:35 Yes. So now you take all of that and you put it into a program and the program includes some shakes. You've got recipes in the book. Could you kind of walk us through the process of what the
Dr. Junger: 20:48 Seven days are going to look like here? Yes. So, so what we're trying to do is to decrease the workload of the digestive system. And for that we replace many meals with liquid meals because they're easier to digest. They're kind of like fuel injection. They don't need too much work, they don't need too much prophecy. The nutrients just shoot directly into your bloodstream without the need of a lot of digestion. Right. And that is why we replace solid meals with liquid meals. Then the solid meals that are allowed during the program are to be chosen with a combination of the elimination diet, which is the same for everybody. And the dosha system, which is individual, right? So, so there's a list of foods that you cannot eat during the elimination diet. For example, dairy, sugar, alcohol, coffee and, and gluten. And if you are of fire constitution, we will also eliminate the fiery foods, right?
So like spicy foods and mango and there's very specific foods that will trigger your fire, right? And so you add both of the lists of foods to avoid and you follow that during your solid meals and also doing a liquid by the way. And then what we do is in my first book clean, which is a 21 day program, every day is the same. There's a shake for breakfast, lunch from a set list of foods and a shake for dinner. And there's supplements in between and it's the same and there is 12 hours between dinner one day and breakfast the following day, right? And every day is the same. And the 12 hour window between dinner and breakfast is because 12 hours is the minimum time in which you allow the body to at least go into a little bit of a more intense detox, right? Because eight hours is what is what it takes to digest a meal and then you give it four more hours for the body to really do the detox mode.
Now in this, in the Clean 7 program, the first day is shake lunch, shake. The second day is also shake lunch shake. But the second shake you do two hours before the first day so that they, instead of a 12 hour window between the second day is dinner shake and the third day's shake breakfast. Instead of 12 hours, there's 14 hours on the third day you do again shake for breakfast, a smaller lunch, and then the shake for dinner. You even do two hours earlier than the second day. So it's four hours earlier than the than the day. So that you, instead of having 14 hours between that dinner and the first and the, and the next shake in the morning on day four there is 60 now and then on day four do you do your breakfast shake. Then you do a small lunch and then you have nothing until the next day's lunch. So no dinner and no breakfast the next day. So you do a 24 hour fast now because you're sleeping part of the time it seem less is going to be less hard to do. Right. But there's still 24 hours and then and then you break your break your 24 hour fast with a shake. Then you have a dinner that night, a solid dinner, and then slowly you go back to what it looks like the first day.
Allan: 24:38 Okay. And so this one will kind of blend them into a day for 24 hour fast. You're incorporating these shakes which you have lots of recipes in the book for. You have recipes for their lunch meals and dinner meals, so it's all, it's all pretty much wrapped up there. I guess the one question is like you said, your clean program that you had before was 21 days. Most of the elimination diets that I see out there are anywhere from, like I said, 21 days to eight weeks. Is seven days really sufficient for someone to to get the results that thereafter with something like this?
Dr. Junger: 25:12 That's a great question because in my first book I talk about the need of 21 days to really cause a significant change in habits. Not only lifestyle habits but also physiologic habits. Right? And the 21 day program is life transforming. But the problem that I've seen since I wrote that book, and it's been 10 years, is that most people do not commit to a 21 day program. So, so even though I gave this incredible tool to the world to really transform their health, only a very small percentage of the people that would could benefit from it are actually doing. So I needed to find something that was shorter but wasn't just the first, the seven first day of that program, I needed something more intense so that in seven days you can really get a taste and in the hope that people after that won't want to jump back exactly what they were doing before. Right. So you're right, it is not enough. Seven days is not enough for a therapeutic plan. You using the elimination diet in order to reverse certain chronic diseases or improves it, but it's better than nothing. And together with everything else, it's a, it's pretty remark.
Allan: 26:39 Yeah, it does give them some pretty awesome tools to know how their body and the foods that are giving them trouble because as they try to reimplement some of those foods, they're going to pretty much pretty quickly understand if they can do gluten or not. If they can do dairy products or not, that'll come back pretty quickly to [inaudible].
Dr. Junger: 26:57 Yeah. There was a very famous guru in India who I personally met who used to say, you know, used to give people jewelry and other shiny objects, you know, and materialize those things out of thin air, right? So people would ask him, you know, you are, you're a guru of spirituality. Why do you, why do we give the shiny objects to be? Isn't that BS? And he will say, I give people what they want in the hope that one day they will want what I really have to give them. Right? And this is how I think about the seven day program. You know, people want something fast and easy and then they want to get results, right? So I give them that in the hope that then they would take it seriously. And they will take it to you know, to heart and really do the work that it takes to transform one's life, which you cannot, cannot do in seven days. And then just go back to what you were doing before.
Allan: 27:55 Well I agree. This is a, this is a very well prepared and set up program with the recipes. Everything in there for you and a lot of other stuff. There's a lot of tools in there. So I do hope folks will check this out and at least commit to the seven days. Cause I do think that it, I think it will do a lot for a lot of people. 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. Junger: 28:20 Well, I'm going to go away from your definition of of wellness, right? Because you know, because the truth is there's 7 billion people in the planet and not everybody can get to the fittest. They can be right. There's many different reasons why people are not able to be fit. Right. For example, myself, I had an accident four years ago that completely destroyed my knees and caused the problem in one of my hard vowels. And, and I, you know, I was, you know, I had a six pack before that and I used to be in tiptop shape and now I can't. So I had to learn how to live without being fit. Right. And then still be happy. So, yeah. And, and, and in a way, you said it before because you say the fittest, they can be right. Yes. No, that's not the fit. Not the fittest in the planet.
Right, exactly. Yeah. But when people hear the fit is you can be, they, you know, they, they, it's like it makes them anxious in a way, right? Because they imagine themselves being in perfect shape and a lot of people will never achieve that. So I defined wellness mostly as the state that one lives in. Right. And this is something that you feel [inaudible], you know, the maximum expression of wellness to be to for me is to be fully present. Right? And this is what, this is what I understand as enlightenment and this is really what I'm looking for and we, you know, even though I'm not a spiritual teacher, this is what I tried to make people aware of that regardless of your level of fitness, if you are in a present state of mind, okay, I mean you, you would experience peace and this is the best level of wellness that one can have because I've seen gurus that are completely at peace and they're not necessarily the healthiest, right?
Then sometimes they have a lot of health issues including severe ones, but their life is full and their wellness in my eyes is full because they're completely at peace. Now having said that, most people in the planet are not going to achieve the state of full, full presence continuously. Right? So then you do need to have your body functioning well because when it is not functioning well, it is hard to cook, to achieve a complete presence also. Right? So I think that we should strive for a combination of things and having your body functioning the best level possible. Right? And I believe strongly believe that we live in such a toxic world these days, that learning how to enhance your own already existing detoxification processes is something that is going to benefit the word greatly until we are able to make the word less toxic. Right?
Allan: 31:40 Well, I don't want it, that's going to happen anytime soon.
Dr. Junger: 31:43 I listen, I have three kids. I can't lose hope that things will continue that will at least start or continue to improve.
Allan: 31:52 Well, awareness is there. I think that's the core of that. We know that these chemicals are not good for us. And so where we can within our own control systems, we can start eliminating them. And if we're, if we're purchasing products and stop purchasing other products, that's a cool signal to the people that make this stuff. So not make the toxic stuff anymore. So
Dr. Junger: 32:13 Yeah. And it's like, let's remember, it's not only about toxic chemicals, right? It's about toxic relationship, toxic governments, toxic work spaces, toxic situations, right?
Allan: 32:23 Yeah. I go through Facebook now and I snooze anyone that posts anything political. So I don't see them for 30 days. And my Facebook feed is a lot nicer these days.
All right, well if someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about the book Clean 7 where would you like for me to send them?
Dr. Junger: 32:42 So the, the book is on Amazon and every other online store. They can also go to our website, clean program.com/clean seven and learn. Because what happens is in the book I describe for people to do the program without the need to buy any products exempt except Ayurvedic herbs that, you know, you're not going to go and pick up from the fields if you want to use those. So people can, you know, follow the recipes and get everything they need. But you know, website, we do provide a kit in which we provide the shakes already prepared. You only have to blend them with water or almond milk or whatever and, and drink them up and they contain all the nutrients needed in there. You know, they're designed to really enhance the aspects of the program that needs to be enhanced and provide every nutrient that that is needed. And so people that don't have the time or the interest or the commitment to go to the supermarket in front of the recipes and then then they can just do it in a very user friendly way.
Allan: 33:56 Cool. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/412 and I'll be sure to have those links there for you. Dr. Junger, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Junger: 34:07 You're very welcome. It's been my pleasure and I'm, I'm going to come visit you in Panama.
Allan: 34:13 I've got a spare bedroom for you. So I'm looking forward to that.
Thank you for being a part of 40+ Fitness Podcast. I'm really glad you're here and that you stuck it out with me. I hope you learned something wonderful from Dr. Junger.
We are going to be doing challenges at the podcast a little bit differently than we have in the past. I don't know if you know we do challenges, but we've done a lot of 28-day challenges with a lot of great results. I really enjoy them, but we're going to change things up a little bit and I'm going to start doing weekly challenges on our Facebook group so you can get a 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/group and there you'll find where we're going to be doing weekly challenges starting December 30th so check it out, 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/group these will be weekly challenges dealing with mindset, with food, with exercise, the whole bit. It's a great opportunity to over the course of 52 weeks in the year 2020 for us to do something exceptional for our health and fitness.
I am going to keep doing the 28-day challenges if there's an interest in it. So the way you'll let me know you're interested is you will become a patron of 40+ Fitness. Now you can do that for as little as a dollar. Go over to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/january become a patron of the show. And then I'm gonna ask you what kind of challenges you would like for us to do. And then I'm gonna make sure you get the challenges that you enjoy the most that you'll get the most from. So go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/january Thank you.
The following listeners have sponsored this show by pledging on our Patreon Page:
|– Tim Alexander||– Judy Murphy||– Melissa Bell|
|– Randy Goode||– Debbie Ralston||– Leigh Tanner|
|– John Somski||– Ann Lynch||– Bill Gioftsidis|
|– Wendy Selman||– Jeff Baiocco|
Setpoints. What are they in? How can we overcome them? I'm pretty sure almost every one of us has faced this at some point or another. We start a new way of eating or we start an exercise program. And in the very beginning, things are just wonderful. We're losing the weight we want to lose, we're gaining strength and we're getting where we want to be.
Things are just wonderful and then they're not. What we're doing just stops working and we just kind of stabilize at a, at a weight or at a range of strength and we're just stuck there, this plateau and these plateaus can last weeks, months and even years. If we don't understand them and do something to change to adapt because our bodies are really, really good at stabilizing they're really, really good at saying, okay, this is where we are.
And there's basically three aspects to set points that I think people forget. They try to focus on just one or two of these. And they don't really get to the meat of what's going to help you break a plateau. This is your body, your environment and your mind. So I'm going to go through all three of these today and talk about why these affect your set point and what you can do about it. Okay. The first one's body, and it's kind of obvious, you know, the human body is meant to keep itself healthy. And to do that, it does a thing called homeostasis, which is basically balance. Now balance is really, really important in the body when we're talking about things like body temperature that has to stay within a very tight range or blood pH. It's like a very, very tight range. Or blood sugar.
Parts of our body basically adapt and they try to stabilize so that we can stay in a healthy state. And if it gets out of this state, then bad things happen. So how does that affect body weight? Well, body weight is also one of those systems. Our bodies were designed to store fat for famine. So we went through a period of feasting. Our body would allow us to put on this body fat for a future fuel for the times when food wasn't so plentiful cause our, our Hunter-gatherer ancestors didn't always have access to plentiful food. So they often would put on weight in the and, and in summer and fall when a plant matter and vegetables and fruits were much more abundant. And then when they weren't we would start to shed that body weight over the course of the next several months.
But if we started losing weight too fast, our bodies set wake would come in and say, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. You can't burn through all the fat that fast. We need to slow you down. And so your system start to change. And systems are basically all the things that are going on in your body to include the hormones, the, the catalyst for transactions for w there are happening in your body, their chemical reactions vitamins and minerals. Because your body is just basically this series of chemical reactions. And so if you're starting to lose weight too fast and your body senses that your hormones are going to adjust a and your body is going to start functioning differently if you have a professional athlete, women will see this a lot with professional athletes at the elite level. They start training really, really hard and they get their body fat percentage down to a very low number.
They do this because carrying weight, particularly in an endurance sport is costly. It slows you down. So losing a few pounds as an elite athlete could be the difference between winning and losing. So the women will get down to an extremely low body fat percentage and as a result they'll stop their period because their systems are basically telling them this is not a good time to rear children. If we're in a famine period, we're not going to have children. And the same kind of thing happens within the systems of men to It's just easier to explain this one because it's so apparent what's happening. But our body is a function of systems and those systems are always seeking to find that balance. And so if you've been eating a certain way and you start losing weight you body might stabilize and that's okay.
We just to have to put some strategies in place to try to break through that before I go too far down that rabbit hole of the body and talk about those solutions. Let's talk about the other two aspects of setpoint. So the second aspect of setpoint is environment. Now, every day we're in, we're in an environment of, of different things and some of them are very easy for us to notice, like the temperature of the room or if we're in an elevation, we might notice that the oxygen level is a little low. So if we walk out in the cold as many of you are experiencing right now and you're not wearing enough clothing, you're very likely to start shivering. That's, that's your body's reaction to your, your environment and it's, and it's very noticeable. If you're trying to do an endurance event and you move from from one elevation up to a much higher elevation, you may find that your performance drops.
And again, you can usually attribute that performance drop to your environment. So there are things in the environment that are definitely noticeable immediately. And then there's things that we don't notice, the chemicals, the, the pesticides, all those things that are out there in our food, in our household products. And then just general pollution. So I want to talk a little bit about that. There's a few that you know, I think are really, really important. One is the plastics, you know bisphenol a is in so many plastics and if you're heating and using those or allowing those to get warm, it's very likely you're taking in that chemical, which is a kind of an estrogen in our bodies. So it creates problems for us particularly for trying to get stronger or lose weight. So understanding if you're being exposed to things like that.
What's in your household cleaners? What's in your skincare products, what's in your hair care products? All those chemicals that we're applying to our body or using in our home they have the potential to disrupt our systems and as a result, send us into a kind of a cascade against the balance in the, in the wrong direction. So if we're trying to lose weight or get stronger and I'm going to keep going back and forth on those cause I think they're both very, very important. And I think you can do both at the same time. You're going to want to start paying attention to your environment. Another part of the environment that we don't pay a whole lot of attention to is light and UV rays. If we're not getting adequate sunshine during the day, which again, during the winter that's, that's a little bit tougher, then our bodies are not going to react the way that they should.
Our circadian rhythm is just not gonna flow the way that it should, which is going to disrupt our hormones. It's going to disrupt, potentially disrupt our sleep. So we might find that if we're not getting the sun, we're not getting the vitamin D, we're not getting all the different things that our body needs. So getting good natural light during the day turning off the computers earlier at night, all of those are environmental things that could potentially be disrupting your, your systems and, and if you're not taking care of those, very likely it is jeopardizing your performance and your ability to lose weight and get stronger. The final aspect of setpoint that I'd like to talk about is the mind. And you know, the mind is probably the most powerful aspect of the, of them all. Because if you don't believe you can do something, you absolutely can't.
It's just, you're not gonna be able to do it. So if, if you're stuck and you feel stuck and you say, well, I can't lose weight, I always lose weight and then I gain it back, you know, that mindset is going to hold you back. So if we're going to police our mindset, we've got to look at two things. The first is the things that we're listening to, things we hear, the things we see, the things we read. If you're on Facebook, reading all these articles about obesity and the crisis and how you know, this is making you fat and nights making you fat, and it's all that stuff's driving you crazy and it's, it's actually stressing you out. Stop. Just stop. The best way for you to know what's going to affect you is to just try it. Whole foods, natural foods, people will tell you, you can try this supplement or try that thing or take this pill.
None of going to be a longterm solution for you. So what's your listening to? What's your, what's your reading? What's your seeing? Let some of that go, you know, focus on the things that will definitely move the needle for you. You're in a plateau right now, and if that's the case, you need some action. You need to find that big rock as we say, and, and go ahead and start working on that. But if you're on all these little goose hunts about, should I be taking vitamin D, should I wait? Should I be vegan or wait? Should I, you know, drink eight glasses of water a day? If you're running around looking at all those tactics, it's very easy to get yourself lost in them and not really see which ones might be actually beneficial to you. You can't throw 13 things that at, at this at once and understand what's going on in your body.
It's just the too much and you don't, you can't parse through that data. There's too many confounders. So slow down. It's cool when you like to read and understand health and fitness. Believe you me, I'm reading about a book a week in health and fitness and I'm much more as far as I go on the internet and read blog posts and things that are going on there so I can keep kind of stay abreast of what's going on. But as it comes to applying it in my own life, I like to keep it simple. So I'm not necessarily acting on all of these activities and all these things that folks are talking about in their articles or to me personally, I try something. If it works, they use it. If it doesn't, I, I throw it out. And then finally within the mind, there's the inner dialogue.
How do you talk to yourself? What's going on in your head when things aren't going your way? You're in a plateau or you know, for weight loss. And so you haven't lost a pound and maybe even you went up a pound last week. And what's your inner dialogue telling you right now? Is it being nice to you? Is it, is it forgiving you? Because the step forward for any stumble at all is three. It's three things. The first is you have to forgive yourself. And then you have to come up with a plan of action to go forward. And then you have to act. And if you don't do all three of those, you're, you're destined to repeat exactly what you just did. So don't beat yourself up so much. Try to have a kinder, nicer inner dialogue. And if you find yourself, you know, not hitting a PR when you go to the gym every time, that's OK.
You're going to have good days and bad days. The fact is you were there and that's better than most. So look for the good of what you're doing and try to have a nicer, kinder inner dialogue. It's going to go a long way towards helping you be successful. So we have the body, we have the environment, and we have the mind where, where should we spend our time if we want the most bang for our buck. And I'd say, if your mindset's off, I would start there. I really would because if you don't have a good mindset, a lot of this stuff is just not going to happen for you. You don't, when my book, I go through wellness GPS and in there I'm very specific that you've got to have self-love to do this. You've got to make a commitment to yourself. You've got to want this really, really bad.
And when you do, then you have to just wake up and you gotta say, okay, self-awareness. You know what, what is going to hold me back? What has held me back in the past? Have I lost 20 pounds and then plateaued and then just gave up. And you know, pizza party for everybody is if that's how you've approached it in the past, you need to put in some strategies to kind of think about, well how do I reverse that trend? How do I not cause then I'm going to hit a plateau. It's going to happen. There's no way around it that, you know, any kind of changed. Your body is just not going to be linear. It's just going to balance out. It's going to plateau. That's what our bodies are designed to do. So if we want to break it, we gotta change it.
And so at some point we, we know we have to adapt, our body adapted. Now we have to adjust, adapt, adjust, adapt, adjust. And that's the path forward. So starting with the mind, get that right first. Now, once you're comfortable that you have a good mindset for what's necessary to break this plateau. Now we want to focus on the body. What are the tactics and things that we're already doing and are there any other tactics that we should consider doing? For example maybe a, I've lost down to a certain weight and I, and I want to lose a little bit more, but I'm not. And I say, okay, well, you know, I, I noticed that I pay attention when I drink milk. I feel a little bloated. And now that I've been having more milk I feel bloated more often. And so maybe the, I've got a problem with milk.
And so I said, okay, well I'm gonna eliminate dairy products for three to four weeks just to see if, if that makes me feel better. And low and behold, what you might find is three weeks slit, well eight are you weigh less and then you go ahead and you have a glass of milk or some cheese and boom, a pound hits the scale. You're like, Oh got it. I have an issue with dairy. And if that's the case, you probably in weight loss is your goal. You probably want to start eliminating dairy and keeping it out of your diet or at least keeping it to a very, very low amount such that you're not hampering your results. So, and maybe what I'm finding is I'm just not getting stronger and so it's time for me to mix my program up cause it's got kind of plateaued on my, my squad, I've kind of to it on my bench press.
So it's like, okay, well I'm going to go ahead and do now is I'm going to do more a weighted dips. I'm going to get on that leg press, I'm going to start pressing some really heavy weight. And I'm gonna start doing some front squats so I can really get my core strong. And by doing those things for a period of time, I'll cycle back around and find out my squat has now improved. And so periodization is what we call that in the weightlifting world. And so if you're, if you're stagnant, things are not happening. It might be to change up just your lifting programs. Something as simple as that, but your body is going to adjust and I mean adapt and then you adjust. And so when you do that adjustment, now you're putting your body into a different series of events and your body will likely change.
So that's the body. Now, the last one, the environment, those things that you know are around you. Let's eliminate those. You know, make sure you're getting good sleep. Make sure you're turning off the computer early enough. Make sure you're getting enough natural light as much as you possibly can to keep your body in good function and in a good circadian rhythm. If there's chemicals around your house, consider changing those out, get some, get some cleaner cleaners. You know a lot of people around here on this Island particularly like to make their own cleaning solutions and their own care, hair care and skin products. So that's not uncommon for people to do that with essential oils and coconut oil and things like that. Lemon juice and you know, vinegar, they make a lot of their own stuff and so that can come out to be a lot healthier for you in the long run.
The more of these chemicals that you can eliminate for your life because that might be one of those kind of like final things. It's probably not going to be your big rock initially, but at some point it might just be the reason that you're plateauing. So take the time to go through all three of these. That self-awareness practice that we do in the, in the wellness GPS is exactly geared for you to take the time to do this. So if you find yourself stagnant, it's time to pull that GPS back out and go through it one more time. Get yourself really set, get that self-love going and then start getting into the self-awareness of what do you think is actually the problem that's keeping you on this plateau. And then now you're ready to set some proper strategies to go forward.
The following listeners have sponsored this show by pledging on our Patreon Page:
|– Tim Alexander||– Judy Murphy|
|– Randy Goode||– Debbie Ralston|
|– John Somsky||– Ann Lynch|
|– Wendy Selman||– Jeff Baiocco|
Hello and thank you for being a part of 40+ Fitness Podcast. I am kind of excited. You know, we're getting into the holiday season and this can be a really good time for us or this can be a really bad time for us depending on how we approach the holidays. So I wanted to do an episode on holiday strategies. It's something that's been top of mind for me because I'm going to be doing quite a bit of traveling.
My wife and I will be coming back to the States and we'll be visiting family. So we're going to be in a few different places and we'll list those off because if you're in any of these places, I'd love to meet up for a coffee, maybe a glass of wine, something like that. So we're looking at:
So if you're in any of those areas, hit me with an email, Allan@40plusfitnesspodcast.com. Love to spend just a little bit of time with you, get to know you a little bit better and we can talk shop health and fitness of course, but as we get into the holidays and things are going, typically what happens is our whole schedule kind of gets turned on its ear. Our whole routine, the things that we do on a day-to-day basis become very, very different as we're spending time with family, as we're preparing meals, as we're doing office parties, the whole bit. And so I'm going to go through each of the four kind of pillar areas of fitness and health. That's gonna include food, exercise, or training, sleep and stress because all of these can be adversely affected by the things that are going on during the holidays.
And as I have this conversation, you're going to hear me kind of go back to two basic tenants. The first one is that we need to plan. If you don't plan, you know, the quote, failing to plan is planning to fail. Okay. So we're gonna talk about planning for each of these and then we're also gonna talk about strategizing because your approach to things could be very, very different than my approach to them based on our needs and based on our past. So let's go through each of these and kind of talk about what's going on with each.
Okay, I'm going to start with food cause that seems to be the big one that I think a lot of people struggle with is that, you know, now there's all these kinds of different foods. There's the, the cookies and the pies. And the potlucks and the parties and the, you know, the family get-togethers and all the traditional meal things that we would, we're eating that we wouldn't eat normally. Okay. Plus just the volume, you know, it's very easy to overeat. It seems to be a basic theme that happens every Thanksgiving for most people.
And so as I said with food, you need to have a plan. Okay. And that plan needs to include what you are going to eat and what you're not going to eat. Because to say that you're not going to eat aunt Mabels dessert is probably a falsehood. You are going to eat it, but you need a plan to make sure that you don't overindulge. So how do we do that? Well, that's where we fall back on the strategies. Okay. Now what I know is if I go in to Thanksgiving dinner or a potluck or a party, I have to be very clear about managing my plate.
Okay. And how do I do that? Well, one is I make sure that at least 25% of my plate is a protein source. So I'll look for a Turkey or ham. I'll try to make sure I get something that doesn't have all the glazing and all the other stuff on it. And so it's just basically trying to get a meat. Okay, that's 25% of my plate right there. 50% is going to be vegetables and not vegetables with goops and stuff on them. You know, there are none of these, uh, the onion crumbles and that kind of thing or not mixed up in some kind of a soupy mix. Basically vegetables. And if I can't find the vegetables then that's going to lead me to my next one though we're to talk about. But I'm going to try to fill my plate about half of it with vegetables and that leaves me with about a quarter of my plate where I can kind of sample some of the other things.
So if there's a, you know, a little bit of yam, it's got a little bit of a marshmallow on it. Okay, fine. I'll have a little bit of that. If there's a dessert Aunt Mabel made, I'm going to have a little bit of that. But at this point I'm showing her I don't have much room on my plate. So they're little dab of that. That way people see the you're at least paying attention. You're enjoying yourself and it doesn't look like your not eating or not participating. So manage your plate. I know it's very difficult all that food's in front of you, but if you have this strategy in front of you where you say, okay, this is the lineup for my plate and I'm allowing myself this little quarter to have those little indulgences, that's your detour. That's the detour that you chose to take and it's a much better one.
Now, I talked earlier about what if these foods aren't available? Well, I typically like to either try to host or bring a dish so when I go to my mother's for Thanksgiving, one of the things I'll do is I'll request that I make turkey. Okay. And this way I know how it made the turkey. I know you know that I've made it in, in the way that it's a better quality turkey, typically organic. So I know what I'm getting with the turkey. And then so I'll have the turkey, my mother will also cook a ham, so there'll be ham there and they'll be Turkey. And I typically just stick to the turkey. I will probably have a little bit of that ham, but as I said, that's my quarter where I can kind of go do a little bit of that. And then I will often also bring a vegetable dish.
And so this will be something like where I'll go out and I'll, I'll steam some broccoli and maybe I'll go ahead and make a cheese sauce that they can pour over it if that's how they want to eat it. But I'll do mine without that. Maybe I'll put a Pat of butter on there just to give it a little bit of flavor, sprinkle it with some garlic powder, something like that. So basically at that point I have my vegetable. I also, and I sent this recipe to my mail list and you should have gotten it a couple of days ago. About about two weeks ago was on a cauliflower rice. And so sometimes I'll do things like that, make a cauliflower rice or something like that that'll go with my meal pretty well. And so if I'm doing those things, then that's three quarters of my plate and now I can go around and I can have some of the other things that my family traditionally makes for Thanksgiving and it doesn't look like I'm not participating, I'm there with them and I'm enjoying the meal.
So have a plan, have a strategy, know what's made you fail in the past and try to work things out that are going to help make sure that you're staying on track. We get invited to a lot of things. Just because you get invited to something doesn't mean you absolutely have to go. If you have to show face like Christmas party with the company, you kind of need to be there. Great. But try to manage what you're doing while you're there. Go in with that plan. Go in there with that strategy so you know that the foods that you're eating is not gonna derail you too much. Okay. It's a, it's a departure you've chosen, but don't just go wild.
Then the next thing I wanted to talk about was activity. Obviously if you're traveling out of town or you're off work, you kind of set your routine different, maybe the gym that you work out at as closer to your office and not so close to your home. Maybe the gym's closed certain days that you would normally like to work out. So again, it's the plan and strategize and the planning means I, if I know the gym's closed on a particular day, maybe I need to do a body weight workout. Maybe that's a good day for me to consider doing something cardio or balance or mobility related that I don't do on a regular basis. But that need to do, I know I need to do more. Then I'll do those things. If you're traveling, pack those a resistance bands and plan yourself a resistance band body weight workout in your hotel room before you go over to the family or in your bedroom before you come out and spend time with family. Go on one of the Thanksgiving Turkey trot runs. Uh, that happen almost everywhere. Do some things like that that you wouldn't normally do, but do them with a plan.
And then the strategies would be if there's things that would typically keep you from working out, again, have that accountability, have those strategies, whatever that might look like for you. You know, you might tell a friend, okay, we're having the week off and we're both going in these two directions and we were going to promise each other that we're going to work out three times this week, even though this is a holiday week, we're going to do three workouts, and then you email each other or text each other and say, Hey, did you get your workout in? Yeah, I've got mine. You got yours. Okay, great. I'll call you on Wednesday. Those kinds of things. So you've got an accountability, you've got a strategy that's going to keep you moving forward rather than falling back into that quicksand that the holidays can often become. So just make sure that you have a movement plan as you go into the holidays so that it's not just sitting around and talking to family.
I used to set up a football game with the kids after the meal and sometimes my brothers and sisters would come out and play and that was so much fun. But as the kids have gotten older, as we've gotten older, fewer and fewer people would go out there. And so standing up there by yourself with a football in your hand isn't a whole lot of fun. So I'll probably be going on, probably doing some cardio work and probably do some mobility work during that time, uh, because that, that tradition went away. But have a plan, have a strategy and know what's gonna work for you as you go into the holidays to make sure that you're continuing to move. You need that movement. Okay.
Sleep. Often during the holidays, there's a lot of activities going on, but we have days off and so I'd encourage you to use this as an opportunity to focus on the quality of your sleep. This is a really good time of year to do that. The sun setting, you know, the days are shorter. This is a good time for you to figure out a good time to go to bed, to wake up when you want to wake up. And so I'd encourage you to take advantage of the time off. Don't make it all about chores, all about family going around and doing all this stuff. Try to figure out your sleep. Sleep is highly under utilized as a tool for health. We are mostly sleep deprived. If you're not getting seven to nine hours of good quality sleep each night, you are sleep deprived. Even if you say, I don't need as much. I'm telling you, you probably do, you just don't get as much. You can still function but you're not functioning optimally. So when we start talking about plan and strategy, okay, the planning would be trying to figure out the bedtime.
The plan would be trying to know that you, you want to avoid certain things that are going to disrupt your sleep. Like staying up watching TV too late, having the lights on instead of using more of uh, natural light. And then of course alcohol. If you're having more alcohol during this time of year than you normally would, that's probably adversely affecting your sleep and it's just something to consider. So as you get into the strategies, it's like, okay, how do I not sit down and binge Netflix or the lifetime channel with all of the Christmas movies, which I'm pretty sure my wife's gonna start playing pretty soon here she can find a Netflix series where she can start watching all this Christmas stuff. I'm pretty sure that's what's going to be happening around my house. So let's not binge on the TV and the Netflix.
Let's use this as an opportunity to really get to sleep earlier, get the sleep we need, try to figure out a strategy or an approach that's going to not only work for us during these holidays, but something that we can actually carry forward into the new year and say, okay, when I go to sleep, it's at 8:30 I typically wake up between four and six and I feel great. I get a good night's sleep, I get the good sleep cycles in and I feel really good. So 8:30 is my bedtime. Now, do I always go to bed at 8:30 no. Sometimes things come up. My wife wants to do something. We want to go out and have dinner and dinner kind of stretches a little long. So I don't make my 8:30 all the time, but generally I now have that routine and that's, that's more normal for me than not. And the holidays are really good time for you to try to figure that out. What works best for you?
Okay. The final one is stress and the holidays in and of themselves can be very, very stressful. I for one, can put my hand up and say, yeah, first time I made broccoli or bought broccoli to cook for Thanksgiving dinner. And my mother was a little frustrated with me. She's like, well, we all have all this food now. We're going to have all this wasted food because you're making an extra vegetable. And I was thinking, well, I still want these vegetables. So I did. I cooked the broccoli low, frustrated, but there was a little stress there. And so just recognizing that getting together with people, going to office parties doing this and that is kind of stressful on the body. So take some time. You know, a lot of us do holiday time, we get vacation, we're away from work.
We're away from a lot of the stressors in our lives. But in the background that stress still runs in our head. I know if I'm going to be away from work for two weeks, I'm gonna have to, I'm gonna have to pay the Piper for that one because there's gotta be a lot of work to catch up on when I get back to the office. I was one who liked to work right up to Christmas day and most people had taken those days off that week. I like to work those days because the office was slow. I was able to get in and get a really well organized going into the new year. And that actually allowed me to enjoy my Christmas a lot better. So my plan had always been go ahead and work up to new years, I mean Christmas Eve and do these things that are going to make the next year easier. So that was scheduling, cleaning out my inbox, answering any like lingering little things that I had put off and it was a very, very productive time for me.
So that strategy paid off, you know, go on into the office, work your regular days right up until that point. And then when I took the week off, I felt so much better. Now when it came to family stress, I just had to realize what I can control and what I can't control. And then I also came up, you know, I use this mantra and I've talked about it a few times I'm sure, is if something is not going to be affecting you in five years, then it's not worth worrying about for five minutes. It just isn't. There's nothing that's going on now. If it's not going to be affecting you and your not going to remember it in five years, it's not a big deal. It's a, it's a little deal. And you're making a big deal out of a little deal. So take some time to think through what are the, what are the real things that matter in your life?
That's, that's one of the cool things about the holidays is the time with family and a time or doing these things. It really is a great opportunity for us to get our straight to get ourselves organized, to find ways to maybe have less stress next year. And so if you can do any of those things, then that's a win in your health and fitness. So try to stay in control, try to be relaxed during the holidays, enjoy the holidays, don't let stress rule you. And then when you get to a point where you can get ahead of stress, boom, now you've got something going on. So that's kind of it. You know, as we go into these holidays and I call it the holiday quicksand, you get into there and sink, sink, sink, sink, sink. And unfortunately most of us as we get into the holidays, we're going to gain some weight.
We're not going to move as much because our routines busted. We're not going to sleep as well. We're not gonna, we're gonna be even more stressed because there's still the office stuff and then the work stuff and then there's everything else that we've got to get done and everywhere else we gotta be, you know, you'd think 3000 miles of driving, I'd be all stressed out about it. Not a bit. I'm going to be downloading all kinds of audio books and podcasts and I'm going to enjoy that time. And yeah, that's a lot of time to be sitting in a car. But I'm going to make sure I have movement built around that. I want to make sure that the food that I'm taking in nourishes my body. I'm going to still be getting all the sleep that I would normally be getting the same way I would get it.
You know, just I'll get up early and we'll hit the road. My wife can sleep in the car, I can get the driving done and we can get to our next destination in time for me to get to bed in time. And then the stress again is, you know, just have, I have plans and strategies, things I'll be doing. For me, sometimes driving is actually more meditative, particularly when you're on the interstate and you're just driving down the interstate. It's just for me it's just a good time to get into my head and just relax and think about all the good things that have happened this year. Like you like having you on this podcast. A podcast has grown this year and I'm just really excited about that. We're going to coming up on our four years of of doing this podcast and this is, this is episode I think 408 so pretty excited good things are happening and I want you to have a wonderful holiday season.
The following listeners have sponsored this show by pledging on our Patreon Page:
|– Tim Alexander||– Judy Murphy|
|– Randy Goode||– Debbie Ralston|
|– John Somsky||– Ann Lynch|
|– Wendy Selman||– Jeff Baiocco|
Dr. Denis Wilson believes he's locked the key to getting fit in just minutes a day with Fastercise. On episode 405 he and his daughter Allison Roberts discuss how we can signal our body to shed weight and get fit.
Allan: 01:08 Dr. Wilson, Alison, welcome to 40 plus fitness.
Dr. Wilson: 01:12 Thanks so much, Allan. It's great to be with you.
Allison: 01:15 Thank you.
Allan: 01:16 Now, the book we're going to talk about today is called The Power of Fastercise. And I thought, you know, sometimes people come up with these ideas of, you know, how we can get more done in less time and, and how we can, we can fit a workout into something. And a lot of times what it basically is is just kind of another regurgitation of the things that were already there. And they're not, you know, necessarily based on anything other than an author saying you can get fit really fast and I know how to do it here's a hit training program and there's their book. But this is very, very different because I mean you've actually based everything in your fastercizing book and this and yeah, all of that's been based on actual science, actual knowledge of hormones. Can you, can you kind of tell me a little about how you kind of stumbled across this, this concept?
Dr. Wilson: 02:06 So I've been working with people with slow metabolisms for about 30 years and I have seen over and over again where people are trying to lose weight and they still have trouble losing weight even though they're doing quote unquote everything that the experts tell them to do. And it's really frustrating because here's a person who's doing what their quote-unquote supposed to do and they're still not getting any results. And a lot of people will accuse them of not following the program correctly. You know, they don't want to be, take the blame for this person's poor results. So they blame the person's a lack of compliance. But anyway, I've seen these people struggle sometimes on 600 calories a day, sometimes on 1,012 hundred calories a day, and they're still not able to lose weight. So I went back to, I was trying to figure out a way to help these people and I've been trying to do that for a long time now, but there some research available now in the last 10 years that wasn't available 30 years ago.
And it's just fantastic because I call it, um, there's a lot of research done on, on hormones and signaling and messengers and, uh, so there's a lot of things talk in the literature, uh, known as signaling and chemical signals. And so I call Fastercise basically signaling exercise because it takes advantage of the signaling processes that already occur in the body. But if you understand these processes, which we haven't for many years and we're starting to understand it much better now, but if you understand those processes correctly, then you can send just the right signal at just the right time to make just the right difference to unlock the key to actually getting the results you're looking for.
Allan: 04:05 Yeah, I think that was part of what was fascinating about this is because, you know, I think most of us already know when the hormones are signaling to our body what to do. So, you know, um, testosterone is making us want to build some muscle and be more masculine. Uh, cortisol is a catabolic and actually wants to start breaking things down because we're in stress mode. But your approach is actually saying, well what are the, what are the things we can do ourselves that will cause that hormone to be in the right place at the right time.
Dr. Wilson: 04:36 Exactly.
Allan: 04:37 So as a, as a part of all this, I guess the base goal is, you know, we're, we're going to want to try to a loose fat you can gain muscle. And so as we, as we get into that, one of the concepts that you get into the book is this concept called the unfed state. And can you tell me a little bit about that and how that's going to affect our hormones?
Dr. Wilson: 05:00 Absolutely. And um, there's really, as opposed to the unfed state or non-fed state, there is the fed state. And so an easy way to conceptualize that is, it's like a charge. It's like a cell phone having two States. Number one, you can charge the cell phone and then it's in the charging state or you can unplug the cell phone and start using it. And then you, it's in the using state. And that's the way it is in the fed state. We're like charging up our energy stores and in the non-fed state we're using those energy stores. And so since the goal of weight loss or fat loss is to use up those stored energy reserves of fat, that's why the non-fed state is so critically important because that's the time that your body is uncharging or using up those to power your body.
Allan: 05:59 Okay. And so it's effectively, I mean, I guess in the book you kinda got into it from the perspective of says if we keep eating all the time and we stay in the fed state, we're kind of putting ourselves in one role of body, in one role of always charging. And we're never discharging or able to get rid of the energy that we have now stored.
Dr. Wilson: 06:25 Exactly. And it doesn't take a lot of food either. So if somebody is snacking just a little bit, let's say every couple of hours they have, even though their calories don't add up to a lot of calories in the day, if they're eating every three hours, that's enough eating just a little bit of food is enough to drive up your insulin levels or in other words puts you in the charging mode or the storage mode. And so when your insulin levels are up, you're not going to be burning stored fat and because insulin will shut that down immediately. So you do need to let those insulin levels come down. You need to be in the non-fed state so that you can encourage the burning of those fat stores.
Allan: 07:15 Now I think when, when people kind of go into, or they hear about intermittent fasting or maybe even longer extended fasting, so we're trying to get into an unfed state, although you know, they're like, well, I'm going to get hungry, but Fastercise is built and designed to help fight that hunger. Right?
Dr. Wilson: 07:33 That's right. And it takes advantage of the survival mechanisms that are normally built in the body and the body. There's two ways that the body has of surviving. One is to run off of the stored energy that you already have stored and I call that storage mode. And the other way of approaching it is foraged mode. In other words, going out and getting new food. So when a person eats, then the food that they eat, will stop, will fill their body with nutrients so that it stops their hunger and they go into storage mode. But the other option, the other way of doing it is by doing a special kind of exercise and to direct your body or to signal your body that you're actually going out and foraging for your food. And they actually go into obtain food. And when your body sees that you're in the business of obtaining more food, it stops, it mobilizes stored energy in your body. And that stored energy that floods into your system provides the energy you need to get more food and also to get rid of your hunger.
Allison: 08:49 So if I can just jump in here really quickly, just going along with what my dad was Dr. Wilson. It's amazing how when you tell your body, Hey, we're trying to get some food here. Yes, you're going without eating anything, but you have the ability to stay quote-unquote fed because you're not hungry. You feel quite satisfied. At least that's been my experience. And so it's not a chore. It's not challenging, honestly. It's invigorating and it's saves you a lot of time in the kitchen because you can spend your time doing other things.
Allan: 09:20 Okay. So Allison, yeah, take just a moment because you did this predominantly lose some baby weight. Um, you'd put on some weight when you had your baby and you took your father's program fast for size and you executed on it and was able to do that. Can you kind of talk us through that? How, how this would in a normal day or a normal approach that you went through as you were getting yourself Fastercised.
Allison: 09:45 Yeah, absolutely. Like you said, I, I gained some baby weight when I had my son Titus and I was probably sitting at about 35 pounds beyond where I wanted to be a thought. You know, I've got nothing to lose. Let's see how this goes. And so primarily my dad told me when you get hungry, push it off with shiver size, which is the shivering exercise for Fastercise. Push your hunger away with shivering, uh, once or twice before you eat and then after you eat, do around of tightening your muscles as hard as you can so your body knows how to develop the muscles. So which ones are most important on how is this going to help you? So I started a shivering before I was hungry and then I also incorporated a lower carb diet. You don't have to have a low carb diet with Fastercise.
Allison: 10:31 But I found that that worked well for me and I was able to lose about 30 pounds in three months, which completely blew my mind, especially considering that I was working a full time job, 40 hours a week. I was taking care of my baby, we had just moved across country and we were buying a house. So my life was kind of kind of all over the place and I really didn't have any hope of being able to lose the weight. Um, but you know, in the morning I woke up, I would shiver sized and then when I get hungry again I do it maybe once more. And then I would eat my lunch because usually I wouldn't be hungry until then. And then after ate my lunch I would do about you know, two minutes of tightening my muscles as hard as I could just going through each muscle group. And then I would wait until I got hungry again and the cycle repeat itself. So I did that about two or three times a day. And just those small changes, I was able to lose weight very quickly and then I ended up entering a bodybuilding competition eight months after delivery just with doing Fastercise.
Allan: 11:32 Wow. That's, that's pretty impressive. Now. So, just to kind of recap a little bit there, there are basically two variations or two things that you would incorporate as a part of Fastercise. One is the shiver size, which is effectively moving alternating muscles very quickly. And then the, the tighter size basically just as tight, tighter, tighter size is just basically where you, you, you contract the muscle in an isometric way to just really get an intense muscular burn. Right?
Allison: 12:02 Right.
Allan: 12:04 Okay, and it's, it's two minutes, or less typically. Right?
Allison: 12:09 Right. Yeah, so I clenched my muscles as hard as I can want like one muscle group at a time for about two or three seconds a piece. So clench my biceps as hard as I can and then move on until deltoids or whatever the case may be. It really doesn't take much time at all.
Allan: 12:25 Okay. Um, you know, Dr. Wilson I've, you know, obviously I'm in this space, I do a lot of reading and I really appreciate all the studies and the, and the links you had, uh, to, for me to go out and actually look at some of these studies because they were fascinating and I love this stuff, but I'd read a study not too, too long ago, uh, that, uh, said, you know, if you, if you walked after you ate, just go for a five, 10 minute walk. It keeps your blood sugar from going up. So I think there's, you know, there's some of that, but you know, most people will say, you know, if you want to lose weight, you got to do this, this cardio thing and you need to do it for at least 30 minutes and get your heart rate up to a certain point. Uh, but what's you're doing with this as just a very short but very intense period of time. Can you kind of compare and contrast them of why this, the shorter version is better then maybe the longer, slower cardio?
Dr. Wilson: 13:21 I think the human body is miraculous. And I think there's a lot of, a lot of things work really well for a lot of people, so I know that you know, it just depends on what you're wanting to do and what signals that you're sending the body. For example, if you think about a long walk, let's say a 45-minute walk, in a way you're, again, I'm going to go back, my point of view is that it's all about survival. You know, a lot of people talk about the balance between calories in and calories out and I talk about a survival balance between storage mode and forge mode. And I think, I think our bodies, from what I gather from reading, reading, studying, all the physiology and all the research and studies on this, if you kind of look at all of them and put them all together, to me, it leaves me with a feeling that all of these mechanisms are about survival.
And so and I like to call one, one mode of survival as storage mode and the other is forge mode. And that has all to do, that has everything to do with us preserving enough or obtaining enough energy to function correctly. So if you think about the storage mode is going to be important if there's a famine in the land and if it's hard to obtain food. Or let's say you had to walk 45 minutes to find something to eat, let's say you had to, let's say you had to run four miles a day to cover enough territory to find something to eat. So in a way you're by doing that kind of exercise, you're almost sending your body the signal that food isn't that easy to come by. But on the other hand, if you can go outside and run around for a few minutes or run out, run around for a few seconds, or tighten your muscles and contract your muscles and climb up a tree just in a few seconds, you can obtain food, then that sends the signal that that food is plentiful and it's a lot easier to come by.
So, and that foraging is working for you. And so basically you're telling your body there's no reason to store fat. And if you, if you do something different, like, um, these, these long cardio exercises, in a way, you might actually be extending your body, there's a thing that happens when you do that kind of cardio exercise. You actually, instead of your appetite going away, you can actually build your appetite because your body, you, you build your appetite and your body says, Oh, well, you know, we need to conserve energy and we need to burn some muscle and we need to store some fat and so it can be counterproductive. I mean, it's great if you're gonna if you're, if you're training four or five K or if you're training for an ultra marathon, you know, then of course, that kind of training is fantastic. But if you're trying to lose fat and build muscle in just a few minutes a day, then a cause that, that's one of the huge advantages of the Fastercise is that it doesn't take all day. It doesn't, you don't have to go to the gym any, you know, if you're standing in line at the, at the grocery store, if you're driving, if you're in a meeting, uh, no matter where you are or what you're doing, you can do this.
Allan: 16:46 Yeah. I think if I started flexing muscles and posing in a meeting, um, I get a lot of weird looks, but, uh, you know, um, you know, and I think that's just one of this, I mean, from my practical experience, you know, I know that if I, if I do that, the basic hit training and by hit training, I mean really intense and actually really short because you can't, you just can't keep doing it. If it's really high intensity, high-intensity workout after that workout, I'm, I'm definitely not hungry for an hour or two. But when I was training for marathons, I would always put on weight because I was always hungry. And then of course, because I was training, I justified that I could eat what I wanted to eat. Uh, but almost invariably, every time I did the training for a marathon, I would start putting on weight.
Dr. Wilson: 17:31 Interesting. Yeah.
Allison: 17:33 I'm just, you know, you were commenting about flexing in a meeting. Just wanted to share that. I have done that multiple times, but trick is to clench your muscles in the position that you're already seated in so you can like clench your abs or maintaining eye contact with someone and they would have no idea that you're building your muscles.
Allan: 17:55 Yeah, yeah. I'm, I'm just thinking about, you know, bicep pose tricep, but now there's a concept in the book and I actually love this concept because I tell my clients this and I, and I've actually experienced it myself. Uh, but have you talked to the calorie in, calorie out folks? They're going to tell you that you have to cut and then you have to, you know, bulk. And then so you can build muscle, which is, you know, antibiotic to add the muscle, but you're probably going to add a little bit of fat when you do that. And then you can cut and you're probably gonna lose a little bit of muscle when you do that. But by going backwards and forwards on this, you can inch yourself up to more muscle. But in the book you propose that we can do both at the same time.
Dr. Wilson: 18:39 Yes. And I think, I think there's a lot of instances, I think a lot of people, well there are studies that show the results in a number of patients who go through different programs and they'll show that as a group they've lost this much fat and they've lost and they've gained this much muscle so they can, you can see that this happens as a group over let's say an eight week period of time they have lost fat and gained muscle at the same time. So that, so we know that can happen over a period of, of, of weeks or months. But I believe it can actually happen at the very same moment. Not just the same month, not to same week, not the same day and not the same hour, but at the same moment. That you can get your, because when you have, he things that stimulate muscle growth include concentration or availability of amino acids and, and energy.
So if you have, if you have stimulation or the exercise stimulation number one, and then you have amino acids number two, and you have energy number three, then then you can build muscle. And um, the interesting thing is that we have plenty of muscles stored in fat. And one thing that I think is fascinating is to give you an example is that a lot of times one of the things we use for quick energy is glycogen. And glycogen is a stored carbohydrate that's stored in the muscles and in the liver. And when our energy supply is low, typically that's a sign that our glycogen storage is low. But they found that people, uh, when you, and then when you burn up all your glycogen and then you have to rely more on fat. But they've, they've found in research that certain, um, long distance athletes, they will, they are able to replenish their glycogen stores even when they're on a low carbohydrate diet. So even though they're not eating carbohydrate and they're eating mostly fat and protein, they're still able to replenish their, their glycogen stores. And that's largely due to something called docgluconeogenesis where the body just, uh, uses raw materials, I guess to begin to remanufacture or recycle, recycle. It's, um, blood sugar back into glycogen for energy stores.
Allan: 21:12 And, and that's typically once they're fat-adapted cause it experience, it doesn't work that way when you first start a low carb diet at all. So once you do get to that point, yes, you have the energy that you need and your body actually gets really, really efficient at using fat. So, depending on the intensity of the work that you're doing, um, you, you have the stamina to continue to use body fat and your body's going to restore that glycogen even if you're not eating significant carbs.
Dr. Wilson: 21:42 So, yeah, exactly. And so in a way, this, you know, because of this mechanism, there's a way that you can get fat adapted or you can be breaking down your muscle. I mean, I'm sorry, breaking down your fat stores and losing fat, but at the same time providing enough energy as long as you have enough of amino acids available that not only can you rebuild your glycogen at a point like that, but you can also, you can also rebuild your muscles as well.
Allan: 22:13 Yeah, and I think one key point of this that, that I think's important is that this doesn't just, this doesn't mean that you, you're always eating protein to get those amino acids. In many cases your, your body through a tophi G can actually recycle cells and pull amino acids. We always have amino acids running through our system. Um, it's just a function of making sure that everything else is working the way it's supposed to. So our hormones and everything else is in line to allow us to build that muscle.
Dr. Wilson: 22:40 Right.
Allan: 22:41 Okay, cool. So Allison, um, you guys are developing an app for this. Can you, can you tell us a little bit about that?
Allison: 22:47 Yeah, so this app is available right now with Android and Apple and we just called it Fastercise. So it's easy to find. Uh, basically it tells you everything that you need to know to successfully accomplish your Fastercised program. So we have what we like to call the laws of Fastercise, which basically tells you exactly what you need to do every day. But then we also have lots of content to show you how to Fastercise, maintain a diet management. So lots of recipes and sparking inspiration for, for your foods. We also have a journal section and a social media and resources. So with this, we are pretty sure that you could do this on your own. But then we also have the availability to have personal one on one coaching, uh, with our staff. So you can get not only the help from the app, but then on top of that help from an actual person if you have more specific questions and would like a little bit more specialized attention.
Allan: 23:47 Yeah. I liked that you, you had the videos in there so they can, they can literally look and, because sometimes you're trying to visualize. I'll work with my clients and I'm like trying to explain an exercise to them and it's just, it's, it's sometimes it's very difficult for them to get the concept of exactly what you're doing. So I like that the videos are there, uh, the support, the journaling, all of that, um, and the meal plans and the recipes. I think you've put together a really, really cool app.
Allison: 24:12 Thank you. We, we, we'd like to think so. We hope everyone else does too.
Allan: 24:17 Cool. Now I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well, and I guess that we'll start with you, Allison.
Allison: 24:30 Yeah, so for me, I think my top three strategies are first, find a way to spark joy in your life every day. I think when you can give yourself something to look forward to, it just makes your whole outlook on life so much better. Um, my second recommendation is to be intention focused, not feeling focused. So if you have a goal, make sure that you make your actions line up with achieving that goal rather than own. You know, I'm tired right now. I don't want to do that. Make sure that, that your actions are fulfilling your goals. And then lastly, stay as close to what nature has provided or intended for us as possible. One of the things that I like most about Fastercise is it lets me tap into what my body does naturally and what the world around me has provided by eating natural foods and doing natural exercises. I think that, you know, nature and the earth have done a lot to help us through the thousands and thousands of years that humans I've been hearing. And I think that it knows what it's doing. So those are my top three.
Allan: 25:34 Cool. Dr. Wilson.
Dr. Wilson: 25:36 Thanks Allan. So my first strategy would be, uh, increasing the size and number of our mitochondria and what that the mitochondria are in ourselves. And that's basically the power plan of ourselves. And one thing we haven't talked about that I actually think is, is really huge. It touches on what you were saying about autophagy and rebuilding and refreshing, refreshing your body, uh, Fastercises is a simple way that people can refresh their fitness in just a few minutes a day. And one of the ways that we do that is by doing this kind of Fastercise, what we can do is we can use up energy faster than our mitochondria can produce it at least for a short time. And you mentioned with that high-intensity interval training exercise that you do is that you can only do that for a certain amount of time. You can't keep doing it. And the reason why we can't keep doing it is because our energy will, the reason why we can't keep doing it as that we use up ATP or energy faster than our mitochondria can, can produce it.
And that actually has a really great stimulatory effect because your body says, wow, he used up or she used up energy faster than we could make it today. So we're going to have to generate more power plants for tomorrow. And those power plants are fantastic because those are the ones that, that do refresh your body or do rebuild your body. When we sleep at night, all the chemical reactions that we build and refresh our body are using energy produced by the mitochondria. So to have to feel energetic during the day, to feel refreshed, to be rebuilding, to have your skin tightening up and for you be able to move and function and everything.
But mitochondria are, are really important for that. And this Fastercise is a fantastic way of doing it. And you know, that you've sent your body that signal quite strong is when you get winded enough from Fastercise that you have to take a deep breath if you actually can catch a deep breath that's your signal that you Fastercised enough for that day to expect tomorrow to be better. Uh, I totally agree with Allison as far as the next, my next recommendation as far as the natural foods go and natural foods and natural activities and to stay true to the design of our bodies or how they're built or the blueprint as it were. So it's so, it's so critical to try to just like, just like you want to drive a screw with the correct end of a screwdriver so you know, we want to use our bodies the way they are built to be used.
And if we go contrary to that, putting in there things that aren't found in nature and, uh, it's, it's not gonna work out as well. My third recommendation is to, uh, the adaptations that, that people go through, like whether it's diet or exercise or fitness program, when those work, as long as you're doing them. But it might take four to six weeks or more actually months and even years of training for your body, to build up all the adaptations and, and, and to develop all the, to develop all the benefits from the exercise you're doing. But when you stop that training, you can lose those adaptations or that, that progress if you will. You can lose that and as short as two weeks. So my recommendation isn't the diet and exercise that you can do that makes a difference.
It's the diet and exercise that you can keep doing. Cause you, you've mentioned like you're, you're looking for a strategy where someone can be healthy for life. So really what they need to do, I think what people need to do is they need to find a lifestyle that they can do for life, uh, health, promoting lifestyle that they can do for life. And, and I love Fastercise for that because it's simple time efficient and it can easily be done by pretty much anybody in the world. Even people who are disabled, people who are uh, elderly people who are obese, uh, just about anybody in any circumstance can, can get a lot of benefit from this approach.
Allan: 30:19 Well cool. I appreciate you sharing both of you sharing that. If someone wanted to get in touch with you, learn more about the book and the things that you're doing in the app, where would you like for me to send them?
Dr. Wilson: 30:31 So our book, uh, The Power of Fastercise is available in bookstores right now and it's also available on Amazon. Listeners can also get it direct from our email@example.com and they can also go to our Fastercise website. It's fastercise.com
Allison: 30:52 Yeah. So I recommend going and checking out our website at fastercise.com. And you can order the book there. You could also go on Amazon and look up The Power of Fastercize and then you could also go to Chelsea green publishing to get the power of fast your size. If you'd like to download our app, it's available in both Apple and Android and just search Fastercize.
Dr. Wilson: 31:22 Allan, I just wanted to say one more thing about the app does that, what we had in mind when we designed the app was so that one person can tell another person so that one friend could tell another friend, Hey, just go and download the app and follow the instructions or all you have to do is download the app and follow what it says.
Allan: 31:47 Cool. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/405 four zero five and I'll be sure to have the links there. So Dr. Wilson, Alison, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Wilson: 31:59 Thank you so much for having us.
Allison: 32:01 Thank you. This was great.
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On today's episode, I'm going to share the nine most common diet mistakes that I see out there.
The number one most common diet mistake I see is calling it a diet in the first place. The word diet now in our lexicon of language has become a temporary fix, a temporary thing. So I'm going to go on a diet, lose the weight I want to lose, and then I'll go back to being me again and eating the way I was eating before.
That's a recipe for disaster. I
f you want to lose weight and keep it off, you've got to come up with a plan that's sustainable in the long run. Now you can have some intensity at the beginning that then tails off into a maintenance, but in a general sense, the way you ate left you the way you were, and if you go back to eating that way, that's exactly what's going to happen to you.
So instead of thinking about dieting, think about ways of eating. Try to find something that's sustainable that helps you get to a healthy, happy weight that you can keep doing. And so it's a way of eating versus a diet. And if you have that mindset, it's going to make this a lot easier.
The second most common diet mistake that I see is not consulting with a doctor. If you're going to significantly change the way you eat, your body is going to start reacting differently.
And this is particularly important if you're on some forms of medication like Metformin or insulin. Changing the way you eat, sue significantly can really be devastating to your body and not being prepared can put you in a dire situation. So talk to your doctor, let them know what you want to do, and then get their guidance on maybe how you're going to change up your medications or other things that they know about your health history that they can bring forward to make sure that what you're doing is appropriate for your health and for yourself. So make sure you consult with your doctor before you start a diet or a way of eating rather.
The number three most common diet mistake that I see is not drinking enough water. Many times people will go to these meal replacement shakes and they feel like they're getting enough liquids because they're drinking, they're drinking some of their meals, but the reality is our body needs more water when we're losing weight for various reasons, and one of the core reasons is that when we're gaining weight, we're putting that fat on our liver does.
It's really kind of sneaky thing in this toxic world. It likes to store those toxins in the fat makes this job really, really easy to store these toxins in the in the body fat and we don't have to deal with them. Now that you're starting to lose that body fat, those toxins are getting freed up and your body needs the water to help wash those toxins down because the deliver and the kidneys now need to do double time. They've got more toxins coming into the system and they need that water to help process and get those toxins out of you. You may notice when you go on a diet, sometimes you get a headache that can sometimes just be of the release of those toxins and until you kind of get them flushed out of your system, you might not feel too good. So make sure you're getting plenty of water when you go into a new way of eating a diet.
The fourth most common diet mistake I see is not having an awareness that, or having too much of an awareness on your macros. Some people completely obsess about the amount of carbs they're eating, about the amount of protein they're eating, and that obsession is just not healthy.
It's good to be aware of how much you're eating so that you know you're getting the appropriate energy. You know that you're getting the appropriate protein, but just getting too deep into it or not paying attention to it at all is a recipe for disaster, is basically telling your body, I don't care how much food you want, you're only getting this many calories and that's it. And not getting the protein you need. Your body might start leeching your muscles to lose that weight. And while you see the scale go down, it's not a good, it's not a good movement of the scale.
It's not a good look either. So make sure you're getting enough of what you need. But once you're in it, typically we eat the same foods. We eat the same way on a regular basis. So at that point you're generally going to know what you're getting in your food and it'll make a lot easier to track and keep up with if you need to at all. But you do need to be aware that your giving you enough, your body, enough of what it needs to meet its basic requirements. So it's not all just calories in, calories out. You need to know that you're getting the other macronutrients that your body needs.
The fifth most common diet mistake I see is not having an awareness of the micronutrients. If you choose to eat vegetarian or Vegan, there's a high possibility that you're not getting enough B12 or any B12. That all comes from animal products and if you're not eating animal products, you might not be getting the B12. You need to monitor yourself because you may need to supplement.
Likewise, if you're doing a low carb diet like keto, you might not be getting the electrolytes, the magnesium, sodium and potassium that your body needs and therefore you're going to face some problems, cramping and other issues and just not really feeling good. So making sure that you know what's in your food that you're getting the micronutrients necessary will allow you to potentially do the appropriate supplementation for the things that you are not getting. It's not that your way of eating is completely wrong. Just need to make sure you're getting the micronutrients. And then two other micronutrients I wanted to mention while we're all on the topic is zinc and iron. There's specific foods that we get those from.
So monitoring those and making sure that you know you're getting the appropriate micronutrients and your food. Really, really important. Food should be about nutrition. So in talking about micronutrients and macronutrients, we want to make sure we're providing appropriate nutrition, but also meeting our goals with this new way of eating.
The sixth most common mistake I see is not preparing or planning for contingencies. If you decided you want to go vegan and you are going to be going over to a family member's house, now you may have told them a hundred times that you're Vegan, they might not have prepared something that's appropriate for you to eat and therefore you're going to go hungry. So be prepared. No, no what you're going know what's going on and and have those, those quick things, have the things available, eat before you go if you need to. But just recognize that your way of eating might not be supported in every situation where you're going to find yourself.
So you've got to have a plan B, you've got to know what's going to go on so you can make sure you stay true to your way of eating your diet.
The seventh most common diet mistake I see is people not mentally preparing for the transition. If you're really good about your diet and your eating and your way of eating, and you're doing the right things for your body, your body will start to change. And with that, the way certain people may treat you, the way your clothes fit, all of those different things have an emotional perspective to it. And if you haven't mentally set yourself up for what that's going to be like, it can be a little jarring. And if you're not the person that likes to be the center of attention and you're going to a party and everybody is asking about the 30 or 40 pounds that you lost, just be prepared.
You might have to explain this is keto, and they're like, well that's dangerous. You're now, now you're in a conversation. So just recognize that you need to mentally prepare yourself. You did your research, you know you're getting the nutrition that you need, you're giving your body what it needs, and as a result, it's rewarding you with this weight loss. Just be prepared that afterwards you might not feel the same way, be the same person and you might get treated differently. So being in a position to know that that's the case, we'll make that transition much, much easier.
Diet mistake number eight that I see the is not mentally preparing for a plateau. A lot of folks will drop six pounds the first week and then two or three pounds the second week and then maybe two more pounds. And so that's a good solid 10 pound loss.
But then it stops. Your body is adjusting to your new way of eating and you're not losing the weight nearly as fast. That can be very, very disarming. That can be, you know, very, very disappointing. And in many cases, a plateau of more than a couple of days can wreck somebody's diet. They can wreck their way of eating. So the core of this is to know that plateaus are going to happen. It's actually a healthy part of your body. Finding that equilibrium, finding that status of, of breakeven and, and adjusting to it. So you need to be prepared for plateaus, know that they're there. And then at that point you can put together strategies to try to get past it. But you've got to come from the perspective of, of having patience and persistence. To know that any changes that you do might not give you the same rate of loss that you were seeing before, but as long as you're moving in the right direction, it's a good thing.
But plateaus are always going to be a part of it. So just prepare for the plateau. It's going to happen. And if you've got the right mindset going into it, you'll recognize it. You'll be able to make adjustments and probably get through it a lot faster.
The ninth most common diet mistake I see is ignoring food quality. You know, the, the package companies out there, they, they love, love, love when a new way of eating comes about. So you know, when Atkins got big, now they have Atkins foods. When keto got big, they have keto food. You can go through any grocery store and just about any major way of eating, you're going to find boxes with that food in it. They're either going to be in a freezer section or they're going to be on the shelves, but every single way of eating comes up with a food product.
So rather it's nutrisystem or weight watchers or whatever. If there's a way to market that diet, they're going to do it. And in doing so, you are now moving to processed food. It might fit your macros and might fit your micros, but in a general sense, it's a process, food stuff and it's not what your body really needs for true nutrition. So don't be fooled into the shakes.
Don't be fooled into getting into the processed foods because they're convenient and easy. Yeah, nutrisystem will mail you those meals and you can, you know, put them in your cabinet and they last for years. If it lasts for years, it's not actually real food anymore. There's, there's a lot in there that your body doesn't need, won't process. Well, and while you might actually lose weight, you're putting more toxins in your body, you're making it more difficult on your body, and you're not necessarily improving your health with these processed foods.
And I'm going to go ahead and throw in a bonus mistake is I think too often people try to go into their diets by themselves. They do it in quiet, they do it in private often for good reason. If you try something and nobody knew you were trying it and you fail, did you really fail? As soon as the tree falls in the woods and nobody's there to hear it, did it really happen?
So if you're concerned that you're not going to be successful, that you're not going to tell anybody, well then there is no accountability and there's a higher probability that you're probably going to fail because you've set yourself up to fail. So I would strongly encourage you to find an accountability buddy, really someone that will step in and be there to help you.
Now I do online personal training and I would love to be that buddy for you if you want some supervision, if you want some accountability, if you want someone that's going to be in your corner through all of this, through the change and dealing with that through the plateau and dealing with that, talking about the quality of your food and talking about what kind of foods you're eating and your justification for your way of eating and kind of putting it all together with you.
I would love to be that person. Just email me, Allan@40plusfitnesspodcast.com. I would love to sit down and have a conversation with you about the ways that we can work together to help you be successful in your weight loss efforts.
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The more time I spend coaching, the more I see how food is a very complex topic. Whether it is mindless eating, emotional eating, or full food addiction, we have to get control of our food or we'll never find wellness. Our guest today is Kristin Jones, the author of When Food is Your Drug.
Allan: 02:02 Kristin, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Kristin: 02:05 Thank you so much, Allan. I am so honored to be here and I'm really, really excited to share some knowledge and share some things with your audience site. I'm really, really honored to be here, so thank you again.
Allan: 02:17 Well, you know, I have the low voice so it's pretty clear I'm the guy on the show. But so you know, you're talking about emotional eating and to me in a lot of ways, when I first started getting into the book, I was thinking this is a predominantly female issue and it was a guy. Like you said in the book. We don't typically sit around talking about food, but I will tell you that I have male clients that have emotional issues with food and I have female clients that have emotional issues with food and we have those regular conversations. So it was really refreshing to kind of have a book like yours where you really, it's a concise book, but you really got in there and boar your soul and use that as a perfect example for someone to go these exercises to discover why they're having an issue with food that's not about the food as much as it's about what the food does for them emotionally.
Kristin: 03:10 Absolutely, absolutely. I actually, the process that I use in the book and that I used on myself and, and I use with my clients was something that was exposed to me when I actually did some work with a life coach in relationship to some money issues that I was having. And so we went through the process of accepting situations, forgiving and then rewriting and it was really, really powerful for me. And so it was one of those things where I kind of morphed that into what I knew had worked for me in regards to another issue. And I was able to then take that and use that with my own experiences and my own issues with food, which has gone back for me as early as, as early as I can remember, probably using food in a way that wasn't because I was hungry. That would kind of, I can say I can go back to maybe being seven or eight years old and remembering circumstances where food was used in a way that wasn't just about getting nutrients. It was, it was about making me feel better.
Allan: 04:16 Yeah. Obviously, you know we have to eat, you know, those who have alcoholism or they'll have a drug substance abuse or there'll be had a gambling issue or sex issue or something's going on in their lives where they're doing something they know is unhealthy, but they can't necessarily stop themselves from doing it. How does someone recognize emotional eating? What is emotional eating and how can we recognize if it's happening to us?
Kristin: 04:39 An emotional eating to a certain extent, there's probably, I would say probably most of the population, and this would include men as well, have had at least one instance where they have responded to something that has happened to them and their response was to instead of expressing, or maybe they even did express it, but they would use food as a way of making themselves feel better. So when we, when we think about it in very, very basic terms, probably everyone at some point has used food either as a celebratory device or used it to make themselves feel better. It's when emotional eating, when it becomes your regular go to option, instead of expressing your emotions instead of communicating, you turn to food instead of dealing with the situation directly. That's when it's done on a regular basis. It's something, it's, it's kind of your crutch that you use to get through life.
Kristin: 05:42 That's when it begins to be a problem. It's the same thing. Most of the population, a lot of the population drinks alcohol. It's when you can't get through a certain situation without alcohol that that becomes a problem. It's the same thing with emotional eating. If you can't get through an emotional episode or something in your life without turning to food on a regular basis, that's when you need to be a little bit more aware of like there might be a problem here. I might not be using my words. Instead, I'm using, I'm using food to get myself through certain difficult situations.
Allan: 06:16 Yeah, and you had said it in the book so aptly, it's like we don't go after Broccoli for this. There's no, we're picking, we're typically going after foods that are high fat, high sugar that are going to give us that rush that uh, almost a drug like euphoria, the, you know, the endorphins, the whole dopamine and all of that is when it's happening.
Kristin: 06:38 Absolutely. And that's, and that really is, that is the, that's that's is, it's a great kind of a great segue into the difference between emotional eating, emotional hunger and physical hunger because physical hunger gradually builds and when you're physically hungry you can have a salad, you can have, you can make that decision of I'm going to have my salmon and I'm going to have some rice and some Broccoli and I'm going to have a, a good well rounded meal and I'm going to eat it in a way that is, you know, sitting down eating at a table with a fork and a knife and, and that is a response to physical hunger. Again, there's a gradual buildup. You want to eat something, you can make a rational decision about what it is that you want to to eat. And in a lot of cases people make wise choices in that way.
Kristin: 07:26 With emotional hunger. Emotional hunger can come on almost instantaneously and it triggers in your body that response for the, you know, the high fat, the sugar because it needs that comfort and it needs those chemicals and that reaction in the blood sugar and you know the elevation of our blood sugar in needs that in order to make a person feel better. And so yeah, we're not going, we're not going for Broccoli, we're not going for carrot sticks and hummus when we have an episode of emotional eating is always going to be those things that are going to make us that or they're really going to be identified as comfort foods because that is exactly what it's doing. It's comforting us.
Allan: 08:10 Now you said something that was very important and I don't want to gloss over here cause I do think we need to dive in and the difference of sitting down at the table with a knife and fork versus hiding in the Pantry, squashing a box of cookies. Can you kind of go over that a little bit? Because I think that's a, there's probably gonna come up and one of your triggers, or at least you know and understanding that there's something going on. Can you kind of talk through that?
Kristin: 08:32 Oh, absolutely. When you use food in a way that, and I kind of always used the term inappropriately, when you use food inappropriately, not what, it's not what it's originally based upon, how it's originally should be used with our bodies. There is a certain degree, a person, I'm going to say, I'm going to make a generalization, but I'm going to say that in most cases people know that they're not, this is not right. Like I knew for me, I knew I had a funky relationship with food. I could not tell you what it was. I couldn't put a name to it. I knew I wasn't anorexic and I wasn't balemic but I knew there was something that wasn't right. But I, I didn't really, I didn't want to look at it. I just was like, this is just the way I do things. And so because I knew in my heart, kind of in the back recesses of my mind that this was not what other people did.
Kristin: 09:23 There was a degree of shame associated with it. And so with shame comes that need of wanting to keep that secret and wanting to not let people know what was going on and what you were doing. And so what happened, what happened for me was I became very much, I very much isolated myself and I would do, I would eat at night, I was a nighttime eater. I would, my family still laughs about it, we still joke about how, you know, if something, somebody thinks somebody breaking in the house, no, you better check. It's probably Krisin in the refrigerator. And that would be the truth that I would be getting up at one o'clock in the morning and going, you know, padding out to the kitchen and slowly opening the door of the refrigerator to check and see what, you know, what I could have at that particular moment.
Kristin: 10:09 And so there's definitely, like I say, a degree of shame and you, you isolate yourself because you one, you don't want anybody to see what you're doing and you also don't want to be called on it. You don't want to have, cause you don't want to have to face it. And so that hiding the shame, you know people who a lot of people will hoard food and I can remember doing that as well. I write about in the book how, because I was not, as a young person, I was not allowed to express my emotions if something, if I got in trouble or if something went, something went down in the house that I didn't agree with, I was not really allowed to say if I had disagreed. I wasn't allowed to disagree with an adult. And so if I got upset about something, I would be sent to my room because I wasn't allowed to say how I really felt.
Kristin: 10:59 So I would be sent to my room and I started to realize, well, if I'm going to be sent to my room and no one's going to come check on me and I'm going to be down here by myself and I'm feeling terrible, I should probably have some food in my room. So I know that I can take care of myself and I can make myself feel better. And so I gradually started making sure that I had what I would call rations in my room to make sure that I was taken care of during those situations when I was left kind of emotionally needy and, uh, would be able to take care of myself. So yes, absolutely there is, there's a huge element of secrecy and of isolation that you want to isolate yourself from others because you don't want people to find out what you're doing.
Allan: 11:40 And I think that's so hard because I guess subconsciously you're just doing this, you just, you, you don't want people to know. You pack up all these desserts from the event and you're taking them home and you don't want anyone to know that. But now it's time for you to kind of say, okay, well I've got to figure this out because you know if you're wanting to lose some weight or you realize that this behavior is really starting to adversely affect your overall health and obviously there's some happiness issues there as well. So your total wellness is really kind of can be devastated by this. We're looking for triggers, we're looking for what are the things that are making you do this? Because if you can, if you can figure those out, you can start putting together strategies to combat them to to make sure that you do don't go off the rails every time. Can you go through, in the book you have nine triggers. Can you go through those nine with us real quick?
Kristin: 12:32 Sure, absolutely. So I really would, I do with my, with my clients is I ask them and I think it's really helpful too. I asked them to think back to the last, the last time they felt an episode of emotionally or they can recognize when they were emotionally eating. What was the event that happened right before that? What was the circumstance that happened right before that. And when you can be aware of what your circumstances are or what things are said or what people you're around you can then become much more that oftentimes awareness is a huge thing because people just become, they become more mindful, they become more present. Because what happens is is emotional eating takes you out of that present moment and takes you to your proverbial happy place and you go there and it's, it's like, okay, I can deal with this now because I've got my ice cream, I've got my cookies and I can just, I can just be, and I can make myself happy. And so I ask my clients to really look back at what are those circumstances, situations? Is it an argument? Is it a person that you're around? So oftentimes, and then they can look at, okay, so when I'm in those situations, how can I prepare myself to better be able to cope with what my reactions are going to be to things that happen around me.
Allan: 13:47 Just just punch them in the face.
Kristin: 13:50 You know, at sometimes. And sometimes it really is recognizing that there are people that set you off and that there are people and oftentimes it just takes one time of telling of, actually it's more about communication than anything else. A lot of times it's people don't know, or people, for me it was, I wasn't allowed to really say how I felt and so I would just swallow my feelings. Well, when you swallow your feelings, there's gotta be something along there with you. You've gotta be swallowing something. And so for me, I would swallow my feelings and I would want food because I knew that I was keeping all this stuff inside me and it really, in theory had to be fed. And so I would keep all this inside. Then it gets to the point of being able to, how do you appropriately communicate with people?
Kristin: 14:34 Because if you've grown up and never known how to communicate with somebody or how to communicate appropriately, I know for me, I could keep it inside for a long time. And then I decided that, okay, now it's time for me to communicate. And I would come out like a Holler monkey and I would just start, you know I, there would be completely out control. So learning how to appropriately communicate with people is really important. But the nine, the nine most common triggers that based upon based on research they show the first one is a pretty obviously one and that's a lack of intimacy. And so when people are lacking physical touch, they're lacking close bonds and close friendships and close relationships. Food oftentimes can become a replacement for that. And that unfortunately can be something that somebody could have throughout their life. It could be situational.
Kristin: 15:23 Somebody has a breakup, they use food as a way to comfort themselves because their partner's no longer there. But some people, if this has gone on for most of their, of their life, and this is something that they were, they didn't have a lot of physical intimacy or emotional intimacy when they were young. This could be a problem that is that they never, they've never learned the skills to be able to allow themselves to be intimate with, with another human being. But they can be intimate with food. So, um, the second one is, as I talk, I talked about feelings of shame that can be feelings of shame based upon circumstances, trauma, feeling that they've done, a person feels that they've done something horrible and they can't forgive themselves. And so that they end up feeling like they need to continue to punish themselves. And so that's what they, that's how they end up.
Kristin: 16:08 They end up using food in that way. Again, very, very closely parallels what alcoholics and what drug, you know, drug users do as well. Because again, food can be and is for many people in addictive substance, fear of challenges. Oftentimes people, if they are in a situation where they don't, and again, a lot of it is avoidance. If they want to avoid a situation that makes them uncomfortable, they turn to food. So a lot of people who are, who are, have a fear of failure, they don't want to be confronted with challenges. And so instead of actually facing a challenge they receive back and they just, they find comfort in avoiding it and using food as, a way of avoiding. Again, fear of judgment is probably this, this really parallels eating disorders pretty significantly. I mean, I consider emotional eating and eating disorder and it's really, the fear of judgment by others is actually a fear of judgment for your, you're judging yourself in when it comes to your own body.
Kristin: 17:12 And oftentimes people have such high expectations for themselves that they are so hard on themselves and they fear judgment and it's not the, it's what they want their bodies to be perfect. They want their bodies to look in a certain way. I know I really felt that was really important. And so then the question is, well, why would you sabotage yourself by eating these things that you shouldn't be eating? And the answer for me was, well, I want to be in control of that. I want to make the decision that if I'm gonna go off the rails, it's my decision. It's not going to be because somebody else caused me or because somebody else made me feel badly. So a lot of it has to do with control as well. Again, which is a common threat with people with eating disorders and the fifth one is a conflict avoidance.
Kristin: 17:53 Often times when you don't want to have an argument with somebody or you don't want to face up to emotions and circumstances, it's much easier to hide in a meal or hide in a bag of potato chips or hide in that ice cream. So that is another, another very easy and common way for people to distract themselves from actually facing uncomfortable emotions. Probably the most common one is boredom. I think that a lot of people use food as a way of just getting themselves through the day because they're bored and they don't want, a lot of times they're bored and they're again trying to distract themselves from not wanting to deal with difficult situations. I have to say number seven, self sabotaging beliefs. That kind of goes along with the shame. When you sabotage yourself, then no one else. It's not because somebody else, you're in control of it, you're doing it yourself.
Kristin: 18:45 And that is something that, again, control comes back to being a huge, a huge issue. I know for me, there's a portion in my book about the issues in my family growing up where there was food that I was not allowed to eat, and I really believe that when we deny anyone of anything, it makes us want it even more. That's why I really, I have kind of an issue, not kind of an issue. I do have an issue with diets only because when you deny somebody something, they want it so much more. So I think if someone's going to go on an eating plan or an eating, eat their meals, they have to have some indulgences, a little bit of something, because when we completely deny ourselves things, oh gosh, we want them so much more. And so rebellion for me was because I was denied these foods when I was a child.
Kristin: 19:35 It made me want them so much more. And they became a reward. They became like a treat when I really wanted to, when I really wanted to feel better. And the last one is kind of goes along with the with shame and that's people who are victims of trauma, whether it's physical, sexual or emotional trauma. Again, there's that degree of shame that they feel they have to continually punish themselves for something that was completely out of their control, but it makes them feel, it just makes them feel better. And again, they're doing it themselves. They have that control piece and um, no one is doing something to them. So those nine triggers, again vary. They can manifest themselves and present themselves in a very different way for each person. But what I would recommend to anyone is look back at the last couple of times where you realized that you probably ate some things that you didn't need to eat or that you ate for reasons other than hunger. And what were the things that proceeded that and what were the emotions that more than anything, the emotions that proceeded it.
Allan: 20:40 I found myself kind of having to have those triggers that, you know, back in the day, the first thing, boredom. When I was, you know, when I was working a hard job and I was traveling a lot, I get home and I'd run by the grocery store and I'd pick up a bunch of crap. And then Sunday morning, you know, I'm just sitting there watching infomercials and uh, those talk shows, political talk shows and just, you know, I'm just gonna lay here and use my thumb and finger and other thumb to just eat this bag of Tostito's, you know? And it was that he was, I considered it relaxing. I considered it lasting, but it was the, it was the comfort of the food. It was the comfort of my couch
Kristin: 21:23 and the reward of that hard of a hard week at work. And absolutely.
Allan: 21:27 And then another time that I kind of found myself, you know, going off the rails in different ways was whenever I had to deal with the CEO of our company, it was just a brutal, brutal person. We're wired very much the same way. So the two type A red guys, you know? And so whenever we were having a conversation, you know, he had to be right and I had to be right and you know, you, you get through with those situations and it'd be like, I just want a beer or five, you know? And that's what I found is that those were the nights where I basically just went over to a restaurant called Portico and had me some beer, you know, because I just felt like I needed to reward myself for not killing him that day.
Kristin: 22:10 Absolutely. Absolutely. And I as a teacher, I was a former middle school teacher and I can't even tell you how many times one of the teachers at my school, there would be like an SOS email sent out to everybody. Like who has chocolate in their room? I just got done talking to the most horrific parents and please does someone have some chocolate? And that was a perfect, and at the time we didn't even think twice about it. If you know, five people would be like, oh, I've got it. I've got candy in my room, come on over. And so we would take care of each other in that way, but not realizing that those reactions were so were such an emotional reaction and it wasn't that we needed, we didn't need the food. It was just, it was going to make us feel better that chocolate was going to take care of things and it was going to reward us for having to go through that horrible interaction.
Allan: 23:00 Yeah. Whereas I would've been so much better off to just go home, meditate for about 10 15 minutes, fix myself a sensible dinner, and then turn on Netflix and forget the day, you know, exercise. But you know, you have to dive deep like that. I think this is kind of the core concept of your book is you're not going to get there until you do this deep dive and you've got these great exercises that people can get a journal, sit down and just really start examining what's going on to kind of find those things that are, that are making this happen. Why, why you are the way you are, because you are the way you are. Which kind of leads me into the kind of the process that you take to kind of get through this because we're not gonna, we're not gonna cure ourselves. This is a lifetime emotional disease for a lack of a better word, but you use three words that I think are really concise and really kind of say, this is, this is the approach and it's except forgive and rewrite. Can you take just a few minutes to walk us through that process?
Kristin: 24:07 Sure. Thank you so much for asking. The process again, throughout the book, I take my clients through a very deliberate, slow moving process in a sense of this is not something that can be dealt with in an hour. It's not something that can be dealt with in a day. This has to be gradual because there are so many emotions that are associated with it, whether it be guilt, whether it be shame, embarrassment, that sort of thing. So my clients go through a process of not only examining where their triggers are, also what their limiting beliefs are about themselves and limiting beliefs about who they think they are and then who they know they are because so oftentimes, and in most cases we are told who we are by other people or people tell us, you know, what, what they see in us.
Kristin: 25:03 And in most cases that's not who we really are. And so we have these limiting beliefs and oftentimes the limiting belief can be, well, I'm just big boned or I'll never lose weight or I never keep weight off. I always gain it back. And when you constantly have those tapes playing in your head, that's what you're going to manifest. That's what's going to to continually come back to you. And it's not a surprise when we really think about it. Why the Diet industry is so popular and will continue to be so popular is because people lose weight, they change their lives, they make decisions, they, they do what they need to do. They lose the weight. And then for some reason, why do they go back to those habits? We'll, our minds are so incredibly powerful that if you have that negative tape playing, it's, it's going to come back.
Kristin: 25:55 It's going to continually play whether you want it to or not. And so what I really take clients through is that idea of I need to accept that this is what happened in my childhood or what happened in my life in whatever circumstance it is. I need to, I first need to accept and face that this is what happened. Because so oftentimes I don't think we even acknowledge that these things happen because we all want to have a great childhood. We all want to have a great life. And so sometimes you just think, well, if I ignore it, then it'll go away. That it really, it really didn't happen if I, if I ignore it. And so having to peel back those layers and have to look at, okay, so what were these things that happened that I need to look at and say, okay, yes, I acknowledge that did happen.
Kristin: 26:36 And that felt really, really bad. And I really didn't like it and it was because of sometimes it's because of a caregiver. Sometimes it's because of some person in your life and we always have to remember that every person is doing the best they can given their circumstances and given where they are. And I don't believe that at our core that anyone is a bad person. It's, we all are trying to get by based upon the information, the knowledge, the education and the upbringing and the modeling that we've been given to us. And so when people do things that aren't very nice, it's almost always a reaction because somebody has done that to them. That's been their learned behavior. And so we have to then forgive when people have done things to us, we need to forgive because we are not forgiving them. We're not condoning their behavior.
Kristin: 27:28 We're not saying it's okay and we're not even forgiving for them. We're forgiving for ourselves. Like when we forgive somebody, it's about us letting it go because for most people who have emotional eating issues and issues that have come up in their childhood related to food, they are holding onto that. And when you hold onto something and you keep it in your body like anything else, it has to be fed. And that's where that relentless need for food comes in. And often times people don't understand why, and I'm sure you've heard this before with your clients, you give them a meal plan and they say, Oh my God, I'm hungry all the time like I this is not enough food. I can't not. I'm always hungry. That's when as a trainer and as a person, people need to stop and go, okay, are you really hungry or is there something else going on?
Kristin: 28:16 So it's that we need to forgive to get that out of us. We have to almost purge ourselves of those of those emotions in those things that we've held onto. And so once we can accept it that it's happened and we forgive the person for, or the, or the circumstance or the institution or whatever it is that we forgive, then we can actually take whatever's happened and rewrite it. And I'm, I'm not saying go to la La land or you know, the Pollyanna, you know, like, Oh I, I had this great upbringing, but you have to look at circumstances and you, there is not a circumstance in anyone's life that they can't find something positive or something good that they got out of it. So when I look at the circumstances, when I was growing up and when I was sent to my room and I wasn't allowed to express emotions, I can look back on that and say, Oh Gosh, my dad did this to me and I don't know how to express emotions.
Kristin: 29:14 What I did learn was I learned that there was an appropriate time and there was appropriate place for me to express emotions. So I am not a person who goes into circumstances and just flies off the handle. I'm not one of those people who goes to a store and starts yelling at somebody because they're not going to give me my money back. I have learned that I need to control my emotions. There's a certain time and place for me to express my emotions and I will do that in a place that's appropriate where I don't hurt another person in the process. That's what I can find positive about what happened in my childhood that really wasn't very good. But I can look at it and I can say, you know what? I got some really, I got a really good quality out of that and I can turn that around and make it something that's gonna benefit me.
Kristin: 29:59 And every person has things that have happened to them that we've all, every opportunity, every circumstance is a learning opportunity. And if we don't take the opportunity and we don't take the time to find what the positive is, we are one, completely missing out on growing as human beings. But also we're keeping ourselves in a really negative place. And so it's really about learning to look at circumstances and say, okay, what, what thing can I positive thing can I glean from this circumstance that I can then make a benefit for me? And that's, that's what I do as I take my clients through and I have them recognize where those things that appear to be really negative. How can we find a positive? How can we make that something that is a good thing for you and you, and it totally will change how you look at those circumstances.
Allan: 30:49 Yeah. I'm like maybe the world's biggest introvert. Yeah. And I was, you know, I was raised in military brat. We moved all over the place. So I, you know, just people and then, you know, I made friends but not close friends, not until I was in high school. So I don't have any friends from before high school because that was when we settled down and I actually got to spend significant time with anybody and I only have a few really close friends and they know who they are. But that being an introvert also, you know, if I want to, I could look at it that way and say it's very negative. I don't like going into group situations. I don't typically like parties and events and things like that. If there's going to be a lot of people, particularly if the people are going to be close together.
Allan: 31:29 That's just something I get very uncomfortable with and that, you know, that emotionally affects me. But on the positive, if I want to rewrite that, what I do have is this capacity to be comfortable in my own skin and be alone. You know? I don't have to have people around me to make me feel comfortable. I can sit in a room by myself, read a book, write something, watch a show, go for a walk. I used to have whole days where I tried to avoid hearing a human voice, you know? And so I see that as a positive and that I don't have to have someone around me 24 seven to feel good. I do that for myself. So just kind of taking your approach there with the rewrite. That's, you know, that's my, my rewrite on, on that piece.
Kristin: 32:16 Absolutely. And as you were speaking, one, we sound incredibly alike. Um, because I'm the same way. I don't like, I don't, and for me, I recognize that social situations are a trigger for me. I am very uncomfortable. I don't like, because I've, I've had addiction issues in my family. I lost my brother to alcoholism. And so I don't like being, I don't like being around a lot of drinking. And so when I, you know, when there's social situations, I know going in, all right, this is going to be something that's going to be challenging for me. And oftentimes it can be a trigger for me to have an episode of emotional eating. And so I really have to be really, really aware of it. But as you said, what I have learned is because I was sent to my room and had to be alone So often I've learned to be able to be alone and to be very, very comfortable and very happy by myself and not that need, that constant need to have to have interaction or have to have people validate me all the time. I can be comfortable, you know, just doing my own thing. And in a lot of circles they call it Fomo, the fear of missing out. Oh, I do not have the fear of missing out. I'm fine, I'm fine being home. I don't mind. I don't mind that at all. But it really is, it's all, it's all in your perspective and it's all in how you choose to look at a given situation. I write about in the book about how, like in the late nineties there were all those talk shows where you know that, you know, Sally Jesse Raphael and, and Geraldo and they'd have people come on and they would talk about, you know, I was abused or something happened to me 25 years ago and they're still so angry.
Kristin: 33:50 And I think, oh my gosh, like you've lost 20 years, 25 years of your life being angry and holding all of that inside of you. And it's like we, as a society, I think sometimes that's why there's, there's so much unhappiness at times because people are just not, they're holding onto resentments and anger and things that have happened to them. And if they just would let them go and just move on, life could be so, so much better and so different for them. So it's really, it's a, it's a pretty powerful process and I really, and it can be applied to any area of anyone's life.
Allan: 34:25 Yes. Kristin, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest, and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
Kristin: 34:35 I am a firm believer that wellness 100% comes from the inside out and it comes from how we feel about ourselves that if we don't truly love ourselves and, and love who we are, that has to be the basis of anything we do. I mean we can, you can work out at the gym seven days a week, you can eat clean, you can do all these fabulous things, but if you have those negative tapes playing and your buying into the limiting beliefs that other people have put on you and you are not truly in love with yourself, all that stuff is just on the surface. It's all, it's all a shell and it's all protected. We have to get to truly being good with ourselves and loving ourselves. Totally. So I would say the three strategies that can make that, they can facilitate that to happen. You mentioned one of them. I am a strong believer in meditation and in prayer and in quiet time and really being comfortable with yourself and being still and just allowing your mind to slow down and, and turning off those negative tapes. So often that we, that we have playing in our heads. So meditation is one.
Kristin: 35:51 The second one is I am an absolute firm believer in a daily dose of affirmations and positive things that we say to ourselves about ourselves and reinforcing those beliefs and those qualities within ourselves. We cannot look to people on the outside to make us feel good, and we can't look to people that tell us how wonderful we are. We have to believe it and we have to tell it to ourselves. A great strategy for, for doing that is my cousin used to have index cards and she would write her affirmations and strategically placed them around her house. So sometimes you'd open up the refrigerator and there would be an affirmation hanging in the refrigerator, not about food, but just about her as a person and what she was striving for and what goals she was working towards.
Kristin: 36:37 And she'd have them in random spots around the house in places that she, she frequently, you know, there was frequent traffic for her and she was able to reinforce those beliefs that she has about herself. So I strongly believe in affirmations and then the last thing, the last strategy that a person can do is daily gratitude and being grateful for what we have because the more we're grateful for what we already have, the more that's going to come into our lives and the more we're going to, we're going to send out that energy of gratitude and love and the more of that good stuff and that love is going to come back to us. The better we feel about ourselves that just in turn then makes us want to go to the gym, makes us want to eat healthy. It makes us want to be kind to other people and help those around us and it just is that ripple effect that that just can I for me can't be on it. It just can't be diminished. It's just the center of of where we need to go as a society.
Allan: 37:30 Kristin, thank you so much for sharing that. I really enjoyed that. If someone wanted to learn more about you, about your book, When Food is your Drug or the coaching that you do, where would you like for me to send them?
Kristin: 37:41 Absolutely. They can go to my website, www.KristinJonescoaching.com. There's a couple of different ways you can spell Kristin Jones is pretty easy, but Kristin is k, r i, s, t, i, n. And there is a quiz there about emotional eating. It's a great place to start to kind of get an idea about whether or not emotional eating is something that maybe you're dealing with. Maybe you have thought maybe that could be something that's going on with you. So there's a quiz you can take. There's information about me and about what I offer. I love, love, love. Like I said, I was a teacher for 17 years. So at my heart I am an educator and I love just working with people and and really getting to those places where people can really look at the things that they are doing and how they can not, it's change, but it's that, It's getting back to who we really are. And I think sometimes we forget who we are because of all of the other things that go on. I have one-on-one private coaching. I also do some group coaching programs as well. And I also have aspects of my business. I do a nutritional guidance, I have workouts, I'm a fitness instructor as well. So whatever someone needs to create their best life and feel the best that they can feel about themselves every single day. That's what I want to do and that's what I want to bring to people's lives.
Allan: 39:15 Cool. Well you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/391and I'll be sure to have a link there to Kristin's website. Kristen, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Kristin: 39:26 Absolutely. Thank you so much Allan. I think it's wonderful what you're doing and just, you know, again, thank you so much and thanks to the listeners and uh, if anything I've said has resonated, please don't hesitate to come to my website. I would love to love to spend some time with them. So thank you again.
Conquering our food issues is a huge first step in finding wellness. It isn't easy, but it is something you can do, especially if you have the support you need. Now is the time to take action. And I'm here to help. Go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/now and book a complimentary 15 minute consult. I'll share a three step process to ensure you know where you're going and the right way to get there. Do this before you forget. Go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/now.
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Our guest today is so much fun! Lyn Lindbergh is a health coach and the founder of the Couch to Active community.
Allan (1:10): Lyn, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Lyn Lindbergh (1:13): Hello, Allan. Thanks. Good to be here.
Allan (1:17): I always like interviewing podcasters, because I know, one, you’re going to make it very, very easy for me from a sound and quality perspective.
Lyn Lindbergh (1:27): Or will I?
Allan (1:29): Or will you? Remember, we’re doing mine first and then I’m going to record on yours.
Lyn Lindbergh (1:35): I’ll be good.
Allan (1:35): It goes both ways. But the cool thing is, your book is called Couch to Active and that’s also the name of your podcast. I really, really like that. I think so many people today get locked into this concept of, “I’m not going to look like that person, so maybe I shouldn’t even try.”
Lyn Lindbergh (2:04): Yeah, that’s it. That’s a tough thing for people because I think we all have that image in our head of either the bikini body or the sweaty, ripped six-pack abs. Most of us will never get there, even if we do train exactly by the book and do everything by the book. But the thing about Couch to Active is, that’s not the point. And we recognize that for most of us, that’s not even what we want.
Allan (2:33): I agree. I’ve always tried to tell my clients, because some of them want that look. And I say, “If it’s a look you’re after, that’s great. You can aspire to that, you can work towards that and I’ll do what I can do to help you get there.” But what I’ve found is in the end, when I start really digging in with them, it comes down to, what do you want to be able to do? That’s where the “active” concept to me comes in. Active in your mind could be being able to run around with your grandchildren at the zoo, whereas active for someone else could be they want to go do a Spartan.
Lyn Lindbergh (3:11): Exactly. I found that at the core, I want to live a life I love. I want to love my life. If I’m going to the gym for an hour a day, doing a workout that I hate and dread every day, just so I can look a certain way, that doesn’t make me happy. That doesn’t make me find any joy at all. That’s where it falls apart for most people because really, it’s that internal feeling that we want of joy and peace and happiness.
Allan (3:48): think the other side of this is, you’ll see a training program, like Couch to 5K or something like that that’s put out there. Someone will get out there and start doing it and then all of a sudden something gets thrown in their way. It could be a health issue, an injury. How do you coach, how do you talk to people about dealing with those health issues that just pop up and get in our way? It’s never going to be a straight line, but we want it to be a straight line. How do we deal with that?
Lyn Lindbergh (4:19): I want it to be a straight line. If you find it, call me. I’ll give you my number. That’s the interesting thing. There are, as we know, a gazillion workout programs, pills, potions, lotions, gyms, you name it. Anything that you can give your wallet to, it’s out there for you. In and of themselves, for the most part, there’s nothing inherently wrong with them, but most of them are designed for when life is going good. The problem is, like you just said, what happens when the cart gets upset? What happens when you have chronic illness or surgery, or God forbid, we age? I have found that a lot of times one of the big things that we forget about is compassion, and compassion for ourselves. Part of my journey was I got a couple of chronic health issues that I’m really public with. I’m missing 30% of my lung function and I’ve got fibromyalgia and another mysterious disease we’re still trying to figure out. It keeps me in the back of the pack all the time. And I had to pause and really look at it and say, “Why am I beating myself up trying to get the faster 5K time when I can’t? Why is this so important to me?” I redefined success as doing what I can do today and honoring what my body can do today. And if today all I can do is a 30-minute walk and maybe 20 seconds of jogging, and I do it – that’s success. Or if today I’ve got a big flareup and all I can do is grocery shop and then take a 4-hour nap – if I honor my body and what it can do one day at a time, one hour at a time – that’s my new success criteria. For me and for tons of people I’ve worked with, that becomes so freeing and so liberating. Then you can begin to really have that incremental success and gain strength, because you’re not torturing yourself over the things you can’t do that you used to be able to do, and instead you’re focused, or I’m focused, more on that positive what I can do. It’s just a better, happier place to be.
Allan (6:59): Yes. I like how you started that out with the word “compassion”. I’m in the process of reading a book that’s set up so that each day there’s a verse and it’s based on stoicism. It’s called The Daily Stoic. Each day there’s a little passage from Seneca or Marcus Aurelius or one of the original stoics, and then he writes his little blurb, his little bit about it to get you thinking about things. The first section of that is clarity. As I’ve gone through it and then I read in your book, I hadn’t really given a lot of thought to how much negative self-talk I have.
Lyn Lindbergh (7:44): Oh, it’s huge.
Allan (7:45): I called myself “fat”, and I guess I was fat. I considered myself to be fat, so I used that word. And every time I noticed myself slip up, the negative self-talk would kind of step right back in. What are some things we can do to get that compassion back for ourselves?
Lyn Lindbergh (8:08): Just push the “Happy” button and you’ll feel happy.
Allan (8:12): Where is that button?
Lyn Lindbergh (8:13): I’ve been looking for it. It doesn’t exist. I won’t give up hope, I’ll find it someday. No, you’re exactly right, Allan. That compassion piece is huge, because our generation – when I say that I mean 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s – we were just drilled with that concept of “No pain, no gain. Grit, self-discipline. Try harder, try harder. Live like you’ll die tomorrow.” We’ve all heard these thousands of times and it just puts more and more pressure on us and we end up feeling bad. Like you said, we feel fat and out of shape and ugly. So, part of it is to really start paying attention to what that brain is thinking. When you put on the pants in the morning and you look in the mirror, what is that brain saying to yourself? For me, a lot of it has been just talking to people about body image. If we talk about body image, for example, it’s an issue for – I’ve discovered and learned because I hang out with a lot of bodybuilders and a lot of women that you would call “tens”. We all have body image issues and we all are hard on ourselves. It’s really that awareness of, “I am beautiful. I am handsome.” The reason I’m dancing around this is the work is just huge to do around it. One thing that helps me is to realize if I ask myself the question, “Who are the best friends in my life? Who are the people that I have the most respect for? Who are the people I most admire?”, none of them fit on the cover of a Cosmopolitan or a Vogue magazine at all. When I bring that back to myself, it helps me remember this body external thing really isn’t that important. It helps me give myself compassion. That’s the external piece of it.
Allan (10:35): I’ve found that it really comes from a practice called gratitude. You sit down and you think about the things that make you happy, those moments of joy when you can sit back and say, “This was good.” And what I’ve found is if you are eating the right foods, you can be grateful that your body’s using that food to improve your health. Like you said, you go out and do that 30-minute walk with 20 seconds of jogging. When you’re done with that, that’s something you should celebrate. You should be happy that you had the capacity to do that and that you’re doing something to improve yourself. And when you find yourself starting to go down that negative thought path, that’s when you want to turn it on and say, “Okay, I might not have eaten very well today, but I kissed my wife in the morning, I called my daughter and told her I loved her.” All those different things that you do, you can feel gratitude for. And if you keep practicing gratitude and keep looking for joy, a lot of that negative self-talk goes away.
Lyn Lindbergh (11:45): It really, really does it. And then possibly too is to take inventory of who’s in your social circle. They say you’re the composite of the five closest people around you. Whether that’s true or not, everyone’s saying it, so it must be true, right? So, what are those folks around you saying? Are they helping you with a positive mindset?
Allan (12:12): And it’s not on Facebook. Everybody’s presenting their best front side image in Facebook and filters and all the other stuff. Just realize that you don’t have to keep up with them; you just have to keep up with you.
Lyn Lindbergh (12:27): Yeah, what do they say? Don’t compare your inside life to everybody’s outside life or public life. Absolutely.
Allan (12:35): Exactly. Which is also why I’m not on Instagram. I might be the only personal trainer that’s not on Instagram.
Lyn Lindbergh (12:43): I’m barely on Instagram, because of the peer pressure.
Allan (12:48): I can’t do it. Plus it’s a phone thing. You can’t do it on a browser. I’m too old for that.
Lyn Lindbergh (12:55): Yeah, what is that? Okay, good thing. 40+, not too many of us are on Instagram, so we’re good.
Allan (13:05): Now, as we go through things, I think this is where a lot of people start to struggle, and you talked about it a little bit with your lung issue – we’re going to hit these barriers. And they’re natural barriers, because if we were all meant to be six-pack abs, bikini body people, then everybody would be, if it was easy. But it’s not easy. There’s an overabundance of food and there’s overstimulation where it’s easy to sit on your couch and never leave. Literally if the pizza guy would walk in the house and put it down in front of me, on the coffee table, I would never leave the house.
Lyn Lindbergh (13:50): I’ve got teenage boys. That’s exactly the life they would love.
Allan (13:54): “Hey, come on in!”
Lyn Lindbergh (13:56): “Right here, Mom. Just put the pizza right here, I’m good.”
Allan (14:00): So there are all these things that are going to distract us and keep us from getting where we really want to be. How do we break those barriers?
Lyn Lindbergh (14:09): When it comes to breaking barriers in fitness, one of the things that I like to share a lot is when you think about your biggest barrier, it’s not a gym membership. It’s not cash to throw at a personal trainer. It’s not all kinds of things. It’s the couch. The couch is our biggest competitor. Then we look at, what are our barriers to getting off the couch? And I say that metaphorically, because I know some people are listening to this and saying, “But I’m not on the couch. I’m just so busy.” One of the things that we do and teach, we call the “breaking barriers list”. The reason this exercise, the “breaking barriers list”, is important and impactful is because it helps you get crystal clear on what your real barriers are versus imagined barriers. And then it helps you get really laser focused on what you can do that requires the least amount of work to have the biggest impact on your ability and motivation to exercise. So, this is what I do to get people there. You could even start this right now. You just get any old piece of paper, or if you prefer to type on your computer, and you think of every single barrier to exercise that you can think of. And there are the big barriers: “I broke my leg”, “I got really sick”, “I have an aging parent I’m caring for”, “I have a job that I can’t quit”, “I can’ just quit my job or retire. I’m not there yet.” And then there are all the little, tiny barrier, like “I’m just busy” or “My kid called and I needed this this afternoon when I was going to work out.” This happened to me once – I showed up at the gym with two right tennis shoes. I forgot my left tennis shoe. List them all out; then go through that list and really ask yourself objectively, “Of all of these barriers that I see, which ones can I actually impact today, or which ones can I impact in the future?” You take the ones you can impact today, pick one and say, “Of all these barriers…” Take this stupid example of two right shoes. I can pack my gym bag earlier and leave it in the car and it’ll be there for me. Pick one and just work on breaking that one barrier, and let all the rest go. Maybe the next day or the next week, pick another one and let all the rest go. And just work through that list. Then the next question that always comes up really naturally is, what do you do with the barriers that are here to stay? So myself, for example, missing 30% of my lung function – that’s there to stay. It’s probably only going to get worse the rest of my life. You’ve got to make peace with those. That’s the real hard work, and it goes back to that compassion piece: “What can I do, given this barrier?” Sometimes it’s really easy to try to think, “Life should be perfect, life should be perfect. I’ll never give up, I’ll never give up.” And it’s not giving up; it’s just facing reality head-to-head and getting yourself in a real positive mind space and a positive mental space around it. So, that’s the whole “breaking barriers list” piece that we work through in a nutshell.
Allan (18:10): To me it comes down to self-awareness. If you can do this exercise, this is groundbreaking for getting you on track to really accomplish some great things, because once you start understanding what those barriers are, you eliminate them. I learned the same thing. I had to pack my gym bag the night before, or invariably I would forget my shoes or my socks, or just forget the bag. I literally packed the bag and set it by the door, so I’d almost have to trip over it in the morning to get out the door.
Lyn Lindbergh (18:46): You and a million people every day.
Allan (18:49): And I’d double check. You have to put those little strategies in place for the things you know are going to trip you up. I walk into the office on Friday and I see the sharks chumming in the break room. I know they brought donuts. I’m staying away from the break room.
Lyn Lindbergh (19:06): That’s a hard one. That’s an advanced skill.
Allan (19:14): It was funny. These were particularly weird – they were called Spudnuts. They were made from potato flour, so probably even worse than regular, from a sugar high. They put your blood sugar through the roof. And I loved them too. Then I was like, “Okay, I’ve got to get away from that.” So, I’d have nuts in my office and I’d see them be just like sharks chumming. I decided I can’t go there. I’d go to my office and sit in my desk and not go into the break room until lunchtime, because they would usually be gone by then.
Lyn Lindbergh (19:51): That’s great.
Allan (19:54): That was a practice of self-awareness and understanding what the barriers are that are going to keep me from getting what I needed. That was one that would come up every once in a while. I can’t keep them from bringing donuts in, but I have to know myself to deal with it.
Lyn Lindbergh (20:13): Absolutely. It’s funny how this moment of shame is coming back, which I must let go. When I worked in a corporate office for 20 years, sometimes I would even be good at leaving those donuts alone until everybody was gone and it was only me.
Allan (20:35): When nobody is looking, it doesn’t count.
Lyn Lindbergh (20:37): Exactly. And part of that mindset and self-awareness, one of the things to break through that usually gets people really excited and helps them feel young and alive again – it’s really looking at your stereotypes. When you’re looking at breaking barriers, really challenge your stereotypes about who does what kind of exercise. So much of the time we think yoga is for the skinny girls and aqua aerobics is for fat and injured and out of shape. That’s so, so wrong. If you can break through your stereotypes of what kind of exercises you do as a person and try something new, it’s amazing how creative you can get. I had one woman who came to me and she was so excited. I had no idea how this came about exactly, but she said, “I was listening to your thing about breaking through stereotypes, because I’ve never exercised in my life.” She was almost 50 and she’d never exercised in part because she didn’t see herself as somebody who would exercise. And she said, “I finally found it and I love it. I got a treadmill. I put it in my dark basement downstairs with no windows. And every morning I read a book on the treadmill.” I just had to laugh because I told her that would be torture for me. I would hate it. She loved it though. She said, “I can do this.” So what if everybody else hates a treadmill in the dark by yourself? She loved it and that’s what got her to make a breakthrough.
Allan (22:36): I think what’s really cool is that you’ve got to find your place. I could tell you you should be doing all this lifting and you should be doing some cardio. We can go through the “shoulds” and there’s a valid reason for each one. You should be working on balance, you should be working on mobility, all those different things that we do need to make sure we’re maintaining. But how you get there can be your own unique joy, your own unique path.
Lyn Lindbergh (23:05): That’s really where the “smile” factor comes in in a big way. I’ve got folks who back country ski, folks who sword fight. For real, that’s a real thing.
Allan (23:18): I know, fencing. I envision this old lady beating the crap out of somebody with a sword.
Lyn Lindbergh (23:28): She just turned 50 and she’s so excited. “You won’t believe what I’m doing.” But we all know body doesn’t know or care if you’re on a treadmill or walking. To your body it’s movement. So, if you’re moving and it’s exercise, it counts. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a gym or not.
Allan (23:49): Very much. Now, every once in a while something is going to come along – a car accident, you’re out going for a walk or a run and you slip on some ice and you twist your ankle or mess up your knee or break an arm, and now dealing with this setback. And a lot of times it’s, “I can’t use my leg because I twisted my ankle.” So they stop exercising. They figure since they’re not exercising, they’ll just eat what they want to eat, go back to their old ways, and they end up with this setback. What was an unplanned detour now becomes a, “Let’s turn around and drive back home” kind of thing. How do we deal with that?
Lyn Lindbergh (24:35): The setbacks is a really interesting, tricky one. One of the things I love that you said, Allan, is “when” you have a setback, not “if” you have a setback. I think that’s an important piece, is realizing that setbacks are normal, they happen. They happen to all of us, they happen to me. Some of the setbacks that really trip us up the most is a lot of times we get in our mind that we’re going to finally be a person who exercises, and now all of a sudden I’ve got my plan and it’s all perfectly laid out. But that’s not the way it is; life changes. Those are the tricky ones, when like you said, you’re moving to a new home. So, new routines, new everything.
Allan (25:23): The gym on this island that we’ve moved to is not really a gym. They have some dumbbells, they have a leg press. I would call it more of a fitness studio. They do classes. I’m thinking if I go there I’m probably going to have to do the classes until I get my equipment here, which is going to take me a little while because you have to put it on a container ship, it has to go on a boat. It’s going to be a while before I see that stuff. So, that routine is completely thrown out; I have to come up with other things. I even asked if they have tennis courts. There are no tennis courts on this island. Unless I want to build my own. I could build one and then charge people to use it. That might not be a bad idea. A lot of the things I was thinking my lifestyle was going to entail when I move down here, it’s not here. So I have to change and I have to adapt. I’m doing a lot more body weight stuff, I’m doing a lot more walking. Those types of things are the things I’m putting into my regimen. I’ll probably lose a little bit of muscle mass because I’m not lifting like I was lifting. I lost a little bit of strength, but I can do what I’m going to do until I get my equipment down here.
Lyn Lindbergh (26:42): That’s exactly it. I would say for any of those setbacks – whether it’s a broken leg or moving to an island with no tennis court or, quote, unquote, “real” gym – one of the pieces to start out with first and foremost is that compassion piece again. Start first from a place of compassion for yourself and realizing this is normal. Setbacks do happen. And when you get there, which it could take you 10 seconds or two weeks, it depends, then you can start talking. If you live with someone, talk to them about your goals and your desires. If you make a new friend, talk to them about your goals. You’d be amazed at how people can help you find resources to make it happen. Really, at our core, most of us want to be exercising. Most of us want to have a buddy to work out with. That’s where I usually have folks start. And again, back to breaking through that stereotype of, what kind of an exerciser am I? What do I do? I can get massively creative to start really focusing on what exercise is going to meet my goals and make me smile? And those three things really are that sustainable piece that helps you stay in a good mindset for it all. Because again, Couch to Active – I’m all about living a life you love more than just creating out workouts you hate.
Allan (28:22): Yeah. I define “wellness” as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
Lyn Lindbergh (28:37): I would say for me in my life, because getting and staying well has been complicated and I know I’m not the only one – education is huge for me. I’m an avid reader, constantly reading. I tell you, for anything, if I Google “Is keto good for you? Is keto bad for you? Are oranges good for you? Are oranges bad for you?” – the amount of data out there is just ridiculous. The more education you can have on everything, the better. The second one for me – a huge piece of physical wellness is also mental wellness. I think our generation has been raised with a lot of anxiety, a lot of pressure to perform and a lot of that negative self-talk. So I think a huge wellness piece of that is to not be afraid to crack that door open. If something inside of you is saying you need to look at mental health, look at it. And then the more simple one is, get the junk out of your kitchen. That’s what I had to do. If it’s there, I want to find the “Happy” button and the “Unlimited Willpower” button. If you find those, let me know, Allan, because junk’s got to stay out of the kitchen.
Allan (30:09): I’m pretty much the same way. My wife bought some Life cereal the other day and she was like, “Don’t judge me.” I’m like, “I’m not judging you.”
Lyn Lindbergh (30:18): Food shame!
Allan (30:20): But at the same time I knew I would end up in that box at some point. I knew myself. I almost said I’ll just eat it all so it won’t be here anymore. I didn’t go that far, but I did actually eat some of the cereal. Lyn, I want to thank you for being a part of 40+ Fitness. If someone wanted to learn more about you and learn more about the book, Couch to Active, where would you like for me to send them?
Lyn Lindbergh (30:54): Just have them Google Couch to Active and head over to the website, www.CouchToActive.com, and everything’s there.
Allan (31:04): Excellent. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/374, and I’ll be sure to have links there. Lyn, again, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Lyn Lindbergh (31:15): Thank you. It’s been a ball.
I hope you enjoyed that interview with Lyn. Really fun character, very goofy, but has a lot of fun with life and that’s a big, big part of the wellness formula. You have to be happy with what you’re doing. I love how she brings that to the table and it bears in her podcast and in her book. Do check those out.
Spring has sprung. As this episode goes live, we are into just the spring season starting up. And you know what that means – that means we’re going to be wearing a little less clothing, revealing a little bit more of our bodies. This is a perfect time to really start working on your health and your fitness. So if you’re looking for a coach and you’re interested in getting things done in the most efficient and effective way, without injury, I’m available to be your online coach.
You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Programshttp://40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Programs, and from there you’ll be able to see the various programs that I offer. I have group, one-on-one, and I do have some “Do It Yourself”, if you are so inclined to push yourself. I do have programs that have been proven effective for losing fat and for gaining muscle. So if you’re interested in training with me, go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Programs. Again, that’s 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Programs.
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Two of the most studied diets that are successful for weight loss and better health are the DASH Diet and the Mediterranean Diet. In her book The DASH Diet Mediterranean Solution, Marla Heller shows us how to use both of these ways of eating to optimize our health.
Allan (1:14): Marla, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Marla Heller (1:17): Thank you. I’m really glad to join you.
Allan (1:19): I have to say I’ve seen study after study after study and it’s always interesting to me there are certain diets that always end up at the top of the list. I think I first heard about the Mediterranean diet probably 15 years ago or better. It’s a long, long time people have been talking about that diet. The DASH diet is something that’s a little bit newer, and there are a lot of similarities between the two of them. But I have to be honest with you, I never really deep dived into either of them. And what I’ve found with your book was I had a lot of general misconceptions about what they actually were.
Marla Heller (2:01): Interesting. Tell me about those.
Allan (2:05): When I think Mediterranean, I don’t know why, but my thoughts always go to Italy. And Italy is one of the countries that would fit that concept, but I just think about all that pasta and pizza. There’s no way I can eat like that. I’ve eaten pasta before when I was younger. That’s pretty much how I put on my weight. So, if I’m going to eat like the French and the Italians, other than the fact that I know, having been over there, the quality of their food is a lot better than what’s available here sometimes, I just thought I’m not going to eat bread, I’m not going to eat the pasta. That’s the white foods that pretty much I need to stay away from.
Marla Heller (2:51): That is a very common misconception, that it’s all about having platefuls of pasta and lots of bread at the table. Actually that’s not the basis of the Mediterranean diet. That’s a more Americanized idea of what it is. And I will also mention that it’s where people get off-track with the Mediterranean diet, because it’s not absolutely defined. People take their own interpretation and as you say, they may get really off-track with that.
Allan (3:29): I think that’s why I never really dove into those and said, “I’m going to do that.” What I took out of it for my part is that they don’t do as much GMO, they don’t do as much of this other stuff over there. They have access to local produce because they grow it there, so I was thinking more in terms of, they’re eating higher quality foods. And I can sit there and put someone on a high quality carnivore diet and a low quality carnivore diet, and you’re going to see a difference in their health, just based on the quality of the food. But getting into your book, like I said, it opened my eyes to some depth that’s there. Another thing I really liked about the book was that you go with this approach of, “Don’t tell me what I can’t eat. Let’s focus on what we can.” If we’re filling ourselves and getting the nutrients we need from the foods we can, we’re going to be so much better off.
Marla Heller (4:25): What a concept that you should enjoy how you’re eating! And still be healthy. That’s absolutely something. If people can’t enjoy what they’re eating, they’ll never be able to stick with a healthy plan. That was actually one of the things that motivated me. This is my second career, and it motivated me to go back to school and become a dietitian. I was working with people who were having heart attacks at relatively young ages, including in their mid 30s. And after they had the heart attack, they went on living the way they lived because they didn’t think that eating in a healthy way would be satisfying enough that they could really enjoy their lives. And they still wanted to enjoy life. I knew from watching people in Europe, because I was traveling a lot in Europe, that they enjoyed how they were eating but they were still taking care of their health. And I thought somebody needs to bring that where you show people you can enjoy eating and be healthy at the same time.
Allan (5:30): My disconnect with those diets was along the lines of misconceptions. So, I’m really happy to have an opportunity to have this conversation with you. Could you take a moment and go through what the DASH diet is, how it came about, what it includes, and then go about the same thing with the Mediterranean diet?
Marla Heller (5:53): The DASH diet was originally developed by people who were working on different kinds of approaches to help people lower their blood pressure without medication, because they knew that some people who ate in particular ways had lower blood pressure naturally, and one of those ways was being a vegetarian. They saw that people who were Seventh-day Adventists, who were primarily vegetarian, had significantly lower blood pressure than most Americans. And they’re eating from the same food supply; there’s nothing different. They had the same kind of lifestyle and so forth, but the vegetarian diet seemed to be very helpful for lowering blood pressure. However, they didn’t I think that most Americans would actually go along with that, because we are a country of meat eaters. So, they wanted to take the best parts of a vegetarian diet and create one that was more flexible. First of all, I must say people could still be a vegetarian and follow the DASH diet, because it really does emphasize lots of fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans and seeds. It includes things like mostly whole grains, but not overdoing them, and lean meats – fish and poultry, if you choose to include those in your diet, along with the heart-healthy fats. So, vegetarian or not vegetarian, it’s something that people can really fit into their lives. When they did the first research, they saw that people did lower their blood pressure as much as the first-line medications would do. And it did this in just 14 days. In fact, I have support groups on Facebook who are following this book, and people are seeing their blood pressure drop in as little as seven days. That’s very, very impressive.
Allan (7:51): It is. But you do caution folks about this – if you’re on blood pressure lowering meds and you decide to change the way you’re going to eat, have a conversation with your doctor, because that might be a moment when your doctor needs to know you’re doing this and you may need to be able to call in to him or her and say, “Doc, I’m checking my blood pressure each day. It’s just fallen off a cliff here. What do I do?” And they’ll help you taper down your meds the way that you need to.
Marla Heller (8:20): Exactly.
Allan (8:22): You say in the book it’s not so much that food is the medicine, but food sets a platform for us to get healthy, if we’re putting the right foods in our body.
Marla Heller (8:32): And that is one thing – when they go around the world and they look at places where people live exceptionally long and stay healthy that whole time, they found that they tend to have similar ways of eating that are really strong on the plant-based foods, but you can also still have some of the fish, meat, lean poultry and so forth. That is something that we really do want to emphasize, that you can stay healthy your entire life.
Allan (9:03): That’s the DASH diet. So, what is the Mediterranean diet and how is it a little different?
Marla Heller (9:09): The Mediterranean diet, the things that are really beneficial are much like DASH – the vegetables, the fruit, heart-healthy fats, which would include things like cold water fish, from which you get the fatty acids, the fish oil, things that actually help to improve your heart health. They also include olive oil all around the Mediterranean, not just in Italy and Greece. All around the Mediterranean olive oil has been the basis of their diets. That’s what they use. One of the things we talked about earlier is that people tend to get off-track and it gets all about having lots of pasta, lots of bread and it’s white bread and so forth. But it’s really those vegetables that make the heart of the Mediterranean diet. So, that’s something that’s kind of interesting. In fact, they’ve even found that on some of the islands in Greece and Italy where they were studying and saw that they did tend to have a lot of people who live to be over 100 and were still very physically active and socially active – they were eating lots of different types of greens. They would actually go out in their fields and collect some things for making a salad and so forth. And they think that that may have been one of the advantages. So having a variety of greens can be a really good thing, hidden benefit. Also the red wine seems to be pretty much protective as well. And it’s not something that people have to go out and start drinking red wine. It is really high in antioxidants, but there are also a lot of other fruits and vegetables that are very high in antioxidants. So, if you do drink wine, a little bit of red wine with dinner is a really great thing, but we’re not encouraging people to start drinking. But you do want to make sure you’re getting enough fruits in your diet as well. Those are some of the hidden things in the Mediterranean diet that most Americans aren’t aware of, and it’s probably one of the reasons why some people may try to follow a little bit of a Mediterranean diet and then it doesn’t feel like they’re getting a lot of benefits. I think it helps to focus on the core foods that are really going to be making you healthier, which would include things like fruits and vegetables, mostly whole grains, lean meats, fish, poultry. And again, that’s the same thing as in the DASH diet. And in the Mediterranean diet, they also have a lot of nuts, seeds and beans as well. So the vegetable proteins are also really helpful for keeping people healthier on a long term.
Allan (11:59): Okay. Now, you mash these up to come up with the Mediterranean DASH diet program. One of the things that I saw in there that I have to say was a little surprising was that milk, dairy kind of plays a fairly big role in this.
Marla Heller (12:17): Actually in the first DASH study, they did one group where they didn’t give them extra milk and dairy, and they did not see as much blood pressure benefit as people did who were including a little bit of extra dairy. With the Mediterranean diet when they have dairy, it tends to be fermented, such as with yogurt or cheese. All around the Mediterranean, you’re going to see people using yogurt as a basis for sauces, for salads and so worth. That is something they include a lot of. It’s a little bit of shift in how you might do more of a Mediterranean-oriented DASH, but it’s certainly super delicious. So, that’s a good thing to do.
Allan (13:05): It is. So what we’re saying here is you put these all together and the basis of it, like you said, is going to be fruits and vegetables. The bread that you eat is going to be whole grains. And one of the dangerous myths that you have in the book is that it’s not 12 servings per day.
Marla Heller (13:23): That was something that actually came out in the late ‘80s in the United States. They recommended that people have between 6 and 12 servings a day of bread, or some kind of grain food. That is a lot, and that was precisely at the time when people were becoming much less active in their lives. So, we ended up with this epidemic of obesity based on these food guidelines of eating lots of grain and cut back on the amount of protein foods that you eat. And actually the one thing that we’re not getting enough of, and especially as we get a little bit older, is the protein-rich foods. You need that to maintain muscle, because the more muscle you have as you age, the younger your body is.
Allan (14:11): We’re going to get some of the protein from the vegetables. That’s one of the things that I’ve really been looking into lately. If you’re eating leafy greens, there’s protein in there. Now, your body’s got to get the other essentials that it’s not getting from that, and it’ll get those from other food sources. So, you can include lean meats in there with this. You’re going to get some protein from the dairy that you’re going to be eating. Like you said, for the most part it’s going to be fermented. If you’re getting cold water fish, you’re going to get fish oil and then also adding the olive oil, which I think most people know if they’re getting good quality olive oil, they are getting the right things their body needs. You put those altogether and now here’s this Med DASH program. But we started down the road of talking about these dangerous myths, and one of them was the 12 servings of grains. I think Kellogg’s or General Mills drafted that one and said, “Shove this one in here. Let’s make this the base of the pyramid.”
Marla Heller (15:08): It was actually based off people in some primitive areas whose blood pressure stayed at a normal level even as they got older, and they stayed healthy that whole time. They thought that part of the reason is because they were eating all these grains. Most Americans aren’t doing a lot of whole grains. Also, they stayed healthy because they were very physically active and they were not eating huge amounts of calories. So, combining easy access to food and lots of quantity, that turned out to be a really bad combination to have those recommended 6 to 12 servings of grain every day. That was really off-track.
Allan (15:52): There were others in there. Can you go through a few of, for a lack of a better word, favorite nutrition myths that are out there? I have a couple I’ll probably follow up with as well.
Marla Heller (16:03): Okay. One thing is that if people are thinking about losing weight, and at this time of year people are thinking about, “I ate too much during the holidays and I want to lose a little bit of weight”, they think that the weight loss itself is the goal. And it really is not. You want to lose fat, but you don’t want to lose muscle because if you lose muscle, you slow down your metabolism and it also can make you feel a little bit weaker. You actually want to focus on losing fat. And that’s one of the focuses that has been off-track. Actually having a diet that’s high in those grains, as we get older and if we’re not too physically active, it will tend to build fat. So the grains actually get broken down in digestion to sugar, and that sugar we don’t need for our activity gets stored around our belly, especially as we start going over the age of 40 or so. That can really get people off-track. We’d like to get rid of that excess belly fat especially, because that seems to be associated with a whole lot of diseases, but you want to maintain muscle. That helps you define what kind of foods you’re going to eat.
Allan (17:30): Absolutely.
Marla Heller (17:32): Another thing that we’ve all been way off-track on is thinking that if you just cut calories and you’re a little bit more active, you’re automatically going to lose weight. If people are in an ideal situation – for example, they have places where people can go in to lose weight and they’re trapped in the location and they’re very limited in how much they can eat and they do watch what they’re eating. But most of us are free living, free range people, and we can go around and do whatever we want to. It really helps to think about there are certain kinds of foods that actually will help us burn a little bit more calories. They have recently found out, although some researchers knew earlier, that when you’re digesting proteins, it takes a little bit more calories to actually digest it. You don’t get quite the same impact in terms of increasing your weight if you’re having enough of the protein foods as compared to if you’re having a really high starch or high sugar diet. So that’s a really helpful thing for people to know. And that was one of the things that was off-track, let’s say, in the ‘90s where as a dietician, we were trained to cut calories proportionally across fats, starchy sugary foods, and the protein foods. Actually you want to cut the starchy sugary foods and maintain the protein-rich foods and the heart-healthy fats, because they actually help to quench your hunger. And the protein helps to keep you feeling full longer. They really weren’t focusing in on how people work in a real life situation where they’re trying to moderate their food intake and to have it be something that they can actually sustain in the long run. So they would get off-track, they would not feel that they’re being successful in the diet, so they said, “I might as well go back to the way I was eating because this isn’t working.”
Allan (19:50): I agree. I’ve seen that. My thoughts on that one are that technically, yes, we are going to expand calories and if we’re not getting enough food, our bodies will begin to burn fat for that excess energy. But our bodies are really designed well to make sure that we don’t starve to death. So, what’s going to end up happening is your body will say, “You’re not eating enough, so we’re going to start cutting off certain processes that we don’t need as much. We’re not going to produce as much of this enzyme or we’re not going to make as much of that hormone. We’re going to start cutting out systems that don’t keep us alive.” So, your metabolism actually slows down.
Marla Heller (20:35): Actually it can happen that you do cut off things that are essential for survival. One of the things I’ve noticed is if people go through a really rapid weight loss and they’re not getting enough protein, your body will start breaking down even heart muscle, and that can be a problem. Actually, since you mentioned the starvation – when they set the RDAs for protein, it was based on preventing starvation in Sub-Saharan Africa. It wasn’t based on people who are not as physically active and eating a more sufficient diet. So, the protein RDA is a lot lower than it actually needs to be, and they recommend now that most people should probably have about… I know I’m getting into dietician talk, but instead of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram, it should be up around 1.2. Or if people are physically active and as they get older it could go up to 1.6. So it’s a fair amount higher than what we were recommending in the ‘90s.
Allan (21:49): To put that in pounds, roughly what I would say is you’re going to need to eat somewhere between half a gram of protein per pound of body weight, and maybe just a little higher than that. That’s about the same range when you’re talking about kilograms.
Marla Heller (22:04): The minimum that they had from the old guidelines, for an average woman it would be about 65 grams per day. First of all, I will say people don’t eat grams of protein; they eat real food. So I tend not to emphasize the components of the food and really talk about getting a balanced diet, because when you sit down to eat, you want to enjoy it, you don’t want to be having to think about all these other components in the background. But if you get in the habit of having a variety of foods, you’re automatically going to be getting the right stuff.
Allan (22:42): Your body is pretty good about that. Once you sit down and you start putting your food together, you realize you’re going to need a protein source. A serving of fish or a serving of chicken is going to roughly give you about 25 to 30 grams. If you’re eating that about three times a day and maybe having a little bit of protein with your snacks, like cheese…
Marla Heller (23:04): Some yogurt or cheese or hardboiled egg for breakfast.
Allan (23:09): So thinking through that you’re getting protein with each meal is going to help with the satiation. Not being afraid of olive oil, because it’s not the bad fats for you. It’s actually very good for you if you’re getting a good quality actual olive oil. I hate reading those stories where they go into the grocery stores and test what’s on the shelves and find that a large portion of it doesn’t actually have olive oil in it.
Marla Heller (23:33): That is pretty scary.
Allan (23:34): I just shake my head. One that I found very interesting, because I recently had another guest on and he is a big fan of smoothies, so I tried his smoothie recipe and it’s actually pretty good. I made some adjustments to it and tweaked it a little bit here and there. And what I saw was this is a great way for me to get in a full five ounces greens, which would be difficult with just sitting down and eating them like a salad. I add some spirulina and chlorella in there, so I’m getting more greens, some celery or cucumber or something like that to bulk it up a little bit more, because there’s more fluid there now. But in your myths – I really have to ask you this – does the blender actually break down the fiber in the plants to a point where you’re not getting the benefit of that fiber?
Marla Heller (24:30): Yes. Again, I’ll apologize for getting maybe a little bit too chemically oriented, but the molecular weight of the fiber is really essential to allowing it to do its job. And along with pulverizing the vegetables, especially the longer you go, it actually does cut up those fiber molecules and makes them so that they’re much less effective. I will also say it’s a great property of vegetables and fruits that they are bulky and filling, and it is hard to overeat when you get a lot of them in your diet. That’s a benefit. And that’s one of the things we’re missing when we go towards the smoothies and so forth. We’re missing the whole point. And one of the things I really focused on with this book is re-teaching people how to eat. You might be thinking, “I know how to eat. I know how to put things in my mouth.” But it’s that balance between having some foods that are bulky and filling and relatively low calorie, like the vegetables and whole fruits, and having along with that something with some protein, something with some heart-healthy fats, because those give you that satiety that allows you to stay full longer. Bulky, filling to get filled up, and then the protein and the fat to feel full longer. That helps people with avoiding overeating without having to think about it.
Allan (26:10): I do agree with that. If I sit down and I have a salad, I’m usually pretty basic with my salads. I might chop up a boiled egg and put some olives on there, and I’ll make my own vinaigrette, and that’s it. Or I’ll do a can of tuna or something like that on a salad. So it’s fairly basic foods the way that I eat salads, but they fill me up. I could still take that same five ounces; it’s just really tough to get it all in. What I found with the smoothie was the convenience that I can sip on it over the course of an hour or so while I’m working. It’s portable.
Marla Heller (26:52): On the other hand, then you never know when you’ve had enough. People will say, “I’m a grazer. I like to graze.” But you have to stop and think, how do you know when you’re done? If you’re always continually eating, how do you know how much you’ve actually consumed? Whereas if you sit down and have a snack and let’s say you have an apple and a yogurt and maybe some nuts, you’re going to finish that up and you’re going to feel satisfied for a long time. That’s a way of making it really easy to stay with your goals of getting the right foods. And those happen to be things that are all on the DASH diet, all on the Mediterranean diet, so you’re automatically eating the right things.
Allan (27:40): Okay. You had another one in here that shocked me a little bit because it kind of goes contra to what I think most of the advice out there is, and that was that small changes are best.
Marla Heller (27:52): That’s been the philosophy for, I would say almost 30 years, but people get discouraged so easily. Sometimes making a big change can make it much easier to sustain. Actually that’s one of the reasons that we have the jumpstart portion of the plan in this book, because we want people to refocus on how they eat. And that is one thing I keep hearing over and over again from my online groups. People say, “I’m not hungry” or, “I don’t know how I can fit in all of this food.” Whoever heard of a diet plan that you’re saying, “Oh my gosh, I’ve got too much to eat here”? So, that really can be a big help in getting people going. And what they start to see is their blood pressure goes down right away, that they’re starting to lose weight around their waist and all of a sudden their clothes fit much better. That’s reinforcement to keep going.
Allan (28:56): I think that’s one of the cores of this, and that’s where it hit me. We tell people to take a small step, it’s better than nothing. It’s like if you want to start a walking program, maybe you’re doing five minutes the first day and that’s all you can handle. That’s a step, and then you’re going to do a little bit more. But what you’re saying, particularly as we start looking at food is, let’s do something drastic so we see that payback and we’re reinforced fairly early, and we don’t have those drag-on effects and things. We just finished up a Sugar Challenge as this episode’s going live. When I deal with the differences of people, I’ve always had three levels in that. I know these numbers are going to scare you, but one of them is to cut your sugar to 50 grams per day. And for some people that’s already drastic enough. Then I have a 30-gram level, which is the intermediate, and then a 20-gram, which is the advanced. So I say we’re going to get our bodies to be able to understand and taste the sweetness of foods already. I remember as a kid, we would get strawberries and we would put extra sugar on the strawberries. And today I can’t even fathom doing that, not because I think that sugar’s inherently evil. When I eat a strawberry, it’s about as sweet as I can take. I really don’t want to add anything to sweeten the strawberry, because it’s already perfect.
Marla Heller (30:26): Exactly. That was something that was completely common, and now you can’t understand at all why they would do that. Actually I will say one of the things with sugar that comes from whole fruit is that you’re going to absorb that more slowly because you do have the fiber and the cells and so forth, and they hold trapped things and help it digest a little bit slower. So, having the whole fruits doesn’t give you the same impact as having a Snickers bar, for example.
Allan (31:01): So you’ll go online and you’ll look up the sugar in that and say, “Would I be better off eating the Snickers bar than I would be eating this fruit?” And that’s not actually true. You actually would get more beneficial nutrients, phytonutrients.
Marla Heller (31:14): It’s going to stay with you longer if you had the whole fruit.
Allan (31:18): There’s still a lot to be said about “You are what you eat”, because your body is remaking your cells all the time and food is affecting how your genes are expressed. Do you really want Snickers to be the one giving those signals?
Marla Heller (31:35): It doesn’t mean you should never have something like that, because you still have to have a real life. But there are many ways to satisfy that sweet tooth. In fact, if you keep the right foods on hand, if you’ve got your refrigerator full of fruits and vegetables and so forth – you may think you’re getting up to get a snack, “Maybe I would like to have a candy bar or something.” But then you go open the refrigerator and you see some whole fruit and some raw vegetables, you’re thinking, “I could do that instead. I could have this yogurt.” That really makes it super easy to stay on hand, when you keep the right foods on hand.
Allan (32:18): Absolutely. Now, there was something else you put in the book and I want to talk about this a little bit. I didn’t really put it on the plan, but it was in my thought process as I was going through this, because we’ve talked about yogurt a lot. You walk into the grocery store and the low fat yogurt or zero fat yogurt, they typically add sugar to it to sweeten it up or make it taste good enough for someone to want to eat it. But you said in the book that not all of that sugar is digestible or available, because of the bacteria. Can you talk through that process, because I really didn’t absorb it the way I wanted to?
Marla Heller (32:58): Okay. When you take milk to make yogurt, they have bacteria in there that help to digest the lactose. Lactose is the milk sugar. It helps to digest that and it breaks it down and it turns it into lactic acid, which is what gives you that “Tang!” when you’re eating the yogurt. The same thing also happens during manufacturing cheese. So, when you look at a food label of yogurt, it still shows the amount of sugar that was in the original milk. That gets really confusing because it really isn’t sugar anymore. However, they are changing the food labels, so now they will show you how much is added sugar. And it’s not all sugar that you want to avoid. Like I said, with whole fruits you still want that. But if you can look at the yogurt on one of the newer food labels and see regular milk would have 15 grams of sugar and this one has 23 grams of sugar and it shows me that eight grams are added sugar – that makes it a lot easier to understand. Again, with the yogurt it’s really confusing because they make the manufacturers say that it’s sugar, even though it isn’t anymore. So you have to go on faith and try to choose one that has low added sugar.
Allan (34:31): Okay. Now, in the book you do give plans. So, if someone is really concerned about not knowing what to eat, because there’s a lot of variety of what you can eat… I like that that’s part of the focus of this whole thing, is what you can eat. You do go through a period of what you call the “jumpstart”, but you make that optional. Can you explain what the jumpstart is about, why it’s optional and how it would fit into the ongoing plan after that? Because this is not just a diet; this is really a lifestyle.
Marla Heller (35:05): Yes. One of the things that happens in most people’s daily lives is they have a breakfast or something and then their blood sugar crashes and they’re hungry again. You kind of get on this sugar rollercoaster. I will also say that starch breaks down to sugar as well, so it’s not just raw sugar that makes a difference. It’s also how much starchy foods you’re eating that causes blood sugar to surge and then to crash. So, during the first week or two you can do this jumpstart program that gets you off the sugar rollercoaster and it also teaches you to eat in a way that is filling and satisfying. I really focus in on the vegetables, learning how having some protein along with the bulky filling foods helps to keep you feeling satisfied longer. That’s what people say when they start going through this after a few days, that they’re not as hungry and they’re not eating as much of their meals as they used to. It is a natural way of keeping your blood sugar on a more even keel and keeping your energy level more consistent throughout the day. So, people can do that and that becomes a foundation when you start adding back in the fruits, some whole grains, things like that, because you’ve already learned how satisfying it can be when you combine those healthy foods.
Allan (36:47): Basically we’re dropping the fruit, or at least substantially reducing it, and the grains.
Marla Heller (36:54): And the non-fermented dairy.
Allan (36:57): Okay, non-fermented dairy. So you’re making some pretty big cuts there, some eliminations for this first little period, and it is going to be not the funnest eating opportunity. You’re going to have to get a little creative, which is really cool, because the book also comes with recipes.
Marla Heller (37:14): Think about it as one day at a time, or one hour at a time. “I can do this for this next period of time. I can keep going.” Just in little bitty steps, because you are re-learning how to eat, and this is going to be the benefit for the rest of your life.
Allan (37:30): Absolutely. So, after you’ve been on this for a while, then you can start adding in some grains and some fruit, and that’s going to give you some great information. Anytime you do an elimination diet like this and then you add those foods back in systematically, you’re able to see how well your body uses that for fuel, for building materials. If you have any sensitivities to dairy, you’re going to notice it. If you have any sensitivities to sugar, you’re going to sense it. If you have any issues with grains, be it gluten or whatever, you’re going to figure that out when you go through a process like this.
Marla Heller (38:11): A lot of people tell me that when they’re going through this jumpstart phase, their heartburn disappeared, they didn’t feel as bloated. As you say, it’s food sensitivities that people are eliminating that were causing them to not feel as good. That also makes this something you want to keep doing, because you want to feel good.
Allan (38:35): And sometimes that’s the wine. Wine can cause the acid reflux and that heartburn kind of feeling. That’s another thing that’s not in the jumpstart; there’s no wine for that first little bit.
Marla Heller (38:48): If you have some wine, it can also reduce your inhibitions, so you’re thinking, “Well, maybe I’m going to start eating sugar.”
Allan (38:55): “Let’s make some chocolate chip cookies.” Like I said, I really appreciate the opportunity to go through and get a better feel for what these diets are and where they can add value. I also appreciate when they’re put together and they give you a comprehensive program, because they tend to be number one and number two in the health studies that are out there of best diets. When they do the polls of what’s out there, what the science is showing, those guys are always on the top of those lists.
Marla Heller (39:30): Absolutely. It is because they are fundamentally good and they’re something that people can follow for a lifetime to stay healthy. We all want to live a long time, but we also want to be healthy that whole time. We don’t want to start losing our ability to do all the things we want to at a relatively young age.
Allan (39:53): I agree. And food is a big, big part of that, so getting your food right is really the first step in regaining and maintaining your health.
Marla Heller (40:03): Absolutely.
Allan (40:04): Marla, I define “wellness” as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
Marla Heller (40:14): One of the first things is to ensure as you get older that you’re having a little bit more protein in your diet, because that is something that helps your body maintain muscle. And the more muscle you maintain as you get older, the better you feel. And it helps to prevent disabilities and so forth. If you can do the things that you want to do and feel like your body is young, then you’re going to be happier. A lot of times it’s these disabilities that really grind on people, whether it’s something where they have a pain syndrome or a bunch of chronic health problems, that can be a problem. One thing we didn’t really talk about through this is a situation called metabolic syndrome, where people tend to gain more weight around the waist, they may have high triglycerides and low HDL, which is a good cholesterol. Their blood pressure may be higher than they would like it to be, and they might not respond as well to insulin as they used to, so their blood sugar may be more on that rollercoaster. All of these diseases go together and they increase your risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. All of those are challenging to deal with through your life. So if you’re choosing a diet plan that helps to naturally lower your blood pressure, naturally healthy with not having your blood sugar be as high, it helps you with keeping your good cholesterol at a good level. Those are all things that are going to make you feel better and help you have a better quality of life for the rest of your life.
Allan (42:04): Good. Marla, thank you so much for that. The book is The DASH Diet Mediterranean Solution. If someone wanted to learn more about you or the book and get the book, where would you like for me to send them?
Marla Heller (42:18): The website is DASHDiet.org. That will take them to the site and they can learn about it. We also have the Facebook page that is also The DASH Diet. And we have some support groups for people who are trying to follow the diets. Some people have all kinds of great ideas, they have questions and so forth. The Facebook groups are DASH Diet 2, and the other one for the Mediterranean diet is Med DASH Diet. Those are all good ways.
Allan (43:06): Okay. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/371, and I’ll be sure to have the links there. Marla, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Marla Heller (43:18): Okay. I really appreciated having the opportunity to talk to you.
Allan (43:22): Thank you.
I hope that you enjoyed today’s episode and that you took something valuable from it. I work hard to try to bring the best possible guests to the show. Typically, that’s me reaching out to them. Occasionally, publicists will also reach out to me. But it does take some time to get them scheduled and get them on the show and make sure that we’re giving you the best possible content that I can from their book and from what their thoughts are. And I do hope that you’re getting some value out of each and every episode, because I do put a good bit of time into making sure that happens for you.
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Kathleen Trotter returns to the 40+ Fitness Podcast to talk about her new book, Your Fittest Future Self.
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Allan (1:06): Kathleen, welcome to 40+ Fitness again.
Kathleen Trotter (1:10): I’m so excited to be back. I feel like you’re like my brother or something. Our messages totally overlap, so it’s great. Wonderful podcast. We have a similar vision in health and fitness.
Allan (1:23): I was reading through your book, I found so many parallels to the way that we think about health and fitness. I love particularly that you, probably more than most that I’ve talked to, understand the value of happiness and the value of the taking this journey and how we have to put this all together.
Kathleen Trotter (1:48): What’s the point of being active and thin if you hate every single moment of it? It’s supposed to enrich your life, not detract from your life. I think about my parents a lot with this, because my dad is 77 now. He plays hockey four days a week, he rides his bike all around Montreal, which is super hilly. He farms potatoes, and it’s because he’s so active. And he’s so joyful. Every day I call him the farm and he’s like, “I just picked potatoes, and I was out for a walk.” He just has this quality of life. Same thing with my mom – she walks the dog, she gardens. I can’t imagine them if they weren’t active. They never wake up in the morning and think, “Ugh, I have to go for a walk, or have to walk the dog.” It’s a privilege to move in that way for them, and that really helped me and why I move. If I’m in a bad mood, I get to go for a walk and put me in a better mood. I get to see my friends and go to a fitness class. It’s a joyful thing.
Allan (2:45): Yes. I think that’s one of the missing points so many people have out there. There’s that, and then I think the other one is that so many people – and I’m partially at fault for this because I kind of view things as a journey as well – is that we’re going to get there, that there’s some form of destination.
Kathleen Trotter (3:03): Yeah, there is no end point.
Allan (3:04): In the book you came up with the Kathleen Cycle. Can you go through that Kathleen Cycle a little bit, because I think that pretty much articulates the way you see this?
Kathleen Trotter (3:16): The cycle is, you act and you learn from that act, and then you take that learning and then you act again. I’ll break it down a little bit. I was a really unfit, unhappy, unhealthy teenager. I think one of the reasons why I was so unhappy for a long time is that I felt I had to be perfect tomorrow, and that if I had a cookie, that was the end of it and I might as well just crawl into my bed again. And the thing about a growth mindset, which is that cycle of you acting and reflecting, is every experience is an opportunity to reflect and act and learn. So, you get out of that shame cycle, like, “I’m this terrible person, I might as well quit now.” And instead you’re like, “Oh, interesting. I had a cookie. Okay. Am I happy that I had that cookie? Is this something that I loved and savored? And if so, fine. But did I have a cookie because I was crabby at 3:00 in the afternoon and had low blood sugar? Did I have a cookie because I didn’t eat a good lunch? Or was I sad or depressed or angry? And if that’s the case, how do I learn from this experience and how do I go forward from there?” So if you had the cookie at 3:00 because you didn’t have a good enough lunch, maybe you skipped lunch altogether, then tomorrow you have to get a better lunch. It allows you to sort of step back and objectively look at all your choices and instead of shame spiraling into more bad choices, you can learn from it and make better choices tomorrow. I also think that it makes your history seem like a good thing. A lot of people think, “I’ve been unfit for 30 years”, or 20 years or 40 years or whatever, “And I’ve never managed to change the tides before. So why should I even start?” And what I say to people is that as soon as you use that Kathleen Cycle, as soon as you have a growth mindset, that everything you’ve done in the past is not a negative; it’s just taking you to this part in your process. So, if when you were in high school you loved playing hockey, then maybe what you need is to play hockey. Or if you loved running, or the only time you’ve ever been healthy and fit is when you worked out with a friend, then maybe you need to get a fitness buddy. You can look back at your history and say, “When have I been successful and how can I replicate those things? And when have I not been as successful and how can I not do that?” If it’s your birthday and you’re like, “This year I’m going to get fit” – look at the last 20 years and think when you have best been on the health course. And then go with those things. It’s more optimistic, it’s positive, but it’s also extremely helpful if you could learn from your experiences versus beating yourself up about them.
Allan (6:00): Yes. My favorite part of that is the act, because even a small step forward can be a huge momentum booster for your wellness. And when you are acting, at least you’re doing something positive for yourself. So I really like that aspect of the way your cycle works.
Kathleen Trotter (6:20): I love that. Acting is really key because we often put off for tomorrow what we can do today. I love what you just said – any small step. If you think about the final coin that makes you a millionaire – yes, it’s that final coin, but it’s all the coins that came before. Or that final step up the mountain. But you have to start at the bottom of the mountain. So, all of those little steps seem like nothing at the time, but eventually they accumulate and then you have your health drops all add up and your health bucket is overflowing. But if you never act, you never get that final step where you feel good about yourself. You have more energy, you’re sleeping better. And small things are so much more accomplishable. If you say, “Tomorrow I have to be down 20 pounds” – you’ll never start. But if you say, “Today I’m going to drink a little bit more water and get a few more steps” – you can do that in the next five minutes.
Allan (7:19): Yes. I think that’s where the disconnect for a lot of folks is. They look forward and say, “I’ve got this big distance to go.” And when they slip or anything goes wrong, they’re so tied up in that, that they won’t take the moment to look back and say, “Look how far up the mountain I’ve actually gone.” And they can do that for themselves based on the good things that they’ve done. I’m not a big fan of self-comparisons, but you can actually look at it and say, “I’ve done a lot of good things for my health and I haven’t done a lot of these bad things that I know that other people have done.” And use those for the moments to say, “I’m on a ledge. I’m not on a plateau, I’m on a ledge; and if I keep moving across this ledge, I’m going to be able to work my way up the mountain again soon. I just have to keep taking those little steps.”
Kathleen Trotter (8:16): Yeah, the next positive step forward, no matter how small you need to take. I think part of it is that people look at somebody like you or me, who’s written a health book and they think, “Those people never fall, they never deviate.”
Allan (8:29): You haven’t read my book yet, but I share…
Kathleen Trotter (8:35): If you haven’t read my book, I talk about that in the book as well. What I mean is when they look at us on image, on social media or even just the stereotype of that fit person, a lot of people think, “They’re perfect. They found motivation on the side of the road.” My point is that failing or falling or deviating off course, having those wobbles – that’s an inherent part of any process. So as soon as you think you have to be perfect, you might as well never start. It’s so disheartening. But as soon as you realize that it’s not about not falling, it’s about falling slightly less far, slightly less hard, slightly less intensely, and course-correcting really quickly, and then learning from the experience. Ten years ago, maybe my, quote unquote, “fall” would have been a couple of days I would’ve deviated off course. Maybe 15 years ago, I would’ve deviated for three or four days. And now it’s like if I have some chocolate at dinner, the next day I wake up and I go for a walk or go for a run or whatever. I still sort of deviate or have moments when I compare myself unproductive with other people, or I don’t have the best internal dialogue, or I skip a workout, or whatever it is. But my falls are slightly less intense and I definitely course-correct faster. I think that’s the trick. I think everybody listening has to know that falling and getting up is an inherent part of life. That’s not a deviation from the process. That is the process of getting healthier and learning which situations you’re more likely to fall in, so you can plan in advance not to do that. I love chocolate for example, so I don’t have it in my house, because I know that if I have it in my house I will eventually eat it. I don’t particularly love chips, so if my partner James wants to have chips in the house, that doesn’t really matter to me because I won’t eat them. We have sort of a rule where he doesn’t bring chocolate in house because he knows that is my weakness. So if I want chocolate, I go to my mom’s house. I have a nice beautiful little piece of chocolate, I savor it with her. Or James and I go on a date and we get some beautiful, high quality chocolate ice cream, and walk around. And we make it more special.
Allan (10:51): Absolutely, yes. In the book you share what you call the “13 goals for your fittest future self”. Do you mind sharing those goals and briefly going through each one?
Kathleen Trotter (11:02): Absolutely. I think the first one we’ve really talked about. It’s the learning through falling and knowing that falling is not a bad thing; it’s part of the process. I think the trick with that is that if you know you eventually are going to fall, when that happens… And when I say “fall”, let’s take a cookie. So, people who think that a wobble is the end of the road, think, “I already had one; I might as well have five.” But if you know you’re going to make mistakes, then you can say, “I’ve had one cookie, but one cookie is not the same as five cookie.” Or one glass of wine is not the same as five glasses. Portions do count. Another example would be, let’s say you have to miss a workout for some work event. Something gets called and you were going to go to the gym after work. Instead of being like, “Oh crap, I missed my workout so I might as well have some cookies at the office party” or whatever event you’re going to, have some fried food and continue down the shame spiral; you say to yourself, “Okay, I missed the workout, but that’s okay. I don’t also have to have a glass of wine. I don’t also have to have dessert. And maybe while I’m going to the work party, I walk there, as opposed to taking a cab or the subway or something like that.” So, it’s about understanding that if you do veer off of your plan, always have a Plan B, a Plan C, and then learn from it.
The second one is really connected, which is awareness. I always say that awareness brings choice. I think a big part of our health conundrum is that most of us aren’t aware of what we do. We’re not aware of what we eat, we’re not aware of our movement, we’re not aware of our sleep patterns, how much water we drink. So, it’s really worth keeping a journal for a couple of weeks and seeing what you’re eating, what you’re feeling. That’s a big thing. A lot of us eat when we’re angry or sad or tired. So, if you could connect, “I’m always eating sugar on days that I don’t get enough sleep”, then that might motivate you to sleep. In general, being more aware will help you take what I called a “pause”. A lot of people say to me, “I ate a cookie and had a glass of wine and then some ice cream. But it wasn’t until after I ate it that I realized what I’d done.” So I say to people, before you eat anything, just take a moment and pause and say, “Will my future self be happy if I eat this? Do I want this? Will this make me happier? Do I just want to phone a friend? Am I seeking comfort?” And that’s really connected to living as if you love yourself, which is tip number three. I often say to my clients that you have to learn to parent yourself. It’s amazing how many parents will say to me, “Kathleen, I had to eat that chocolate bar because I was out doing errands and I was starving.” And I’ll say to them, “Interesting. Were you with your kids? Were they with you?” And they’re like, “Oh yeah.” And I ask, “What did you feed them?” The parent will be like, “I had some almonds in my purse for them” or, “I made sure they’d had a healthy lunch.” So, a lot of us are able to parent others or they’re able to parent their parents or a loved one, and we fall short on ourselves. Sometimes it’s just giving yourself as much love and attention and awareness as we give to others. They’re all connected.
Number four is being your non-judgmental best friend. I think a lot of us have these really evil roommates living in our heads. We’re telling ourselves we’re not good enough and speaking to ourselves so meanly. People will often repeat their inner dialogue to me, and I’ll say, “If you lived with that person – if that was your husband or your wife, or your roommate, you could just tell them to get out the door, right? You wouldn’t put up with that.” But for some reason we put up with things in our own heads – that just doesn’t make any sense to me. So again, it circles back to loving yourself enough to be aware of your dialogue, maybe journal, see what you’re thinking and break it down. Stop using this sort of belittling self-talk, because the belittling self-talk often can lead to forms of self-sabotage. So that’s tip number five, is getting out of the ways that we all self-sabotage. And one of the big ones is this negative brain propaganda: “I’m going to mess up. I might as well not even try. I failed so many times in the past. This meal doesn’t count, I’ll be better tomorrow. I deserve…” A big one in the self-sabotage is this “I deserve” mentality: “I deserve this cookie, I’ve worked so hard today.” And I’m not arguing don’t eat the cookie. Again, I love what I call my “love it” rule, which is, have moderate amounts of food you love, but don’t do it because you, quote unquote, “deserve” it. That’s a way of letting yourself off the hook. Decide you want it because you love it, but do you deserve to be putting bad food in your body? No, what you deserve for your health is go for a walk or have some water. We justify really bad behaviors with our internal dialogue.
And a lot of it is connected to number six, which is being curious about who you are and what you like. A lot of people fall into this, “I’m not the type of person who does X.” So I’ll say to them, “Maybe you should have a little bit of extra protein at breakfast.” And they’ll go, “I don’t eat protein at breakfast. I have cereal.” Or I’ll say, “Why don’t you consider going to the gym with a friend?” “No, I don’t want to go with a friend.” Whatever it is, there’s always an excuse for every solution. So I always tease my clients that you’ve got to be somebody who finds solutions versus excuses. And be curious, because the worst that happens is you try something and you don’t like it, and then you don’t have to do it again. Just because you try a workout doesn’t mean you have to do it. A great example for me is yoga. For years I’m like, “I’m not a person who does yoga. Yoga is not my jam.” And then a couple of months ago I was thinking I needed something, and I said I’m going to do a 21-day yoga challenge, because something was wrong. Not wrong with my body, but I just felt like I needed something a little bit different. And by the end of the 21 days, I really enjoyed yoga. Now, I will never be somebody who does two hours of yoga a day, but I now do 10 to 15 minutes at the end of all my runs and I feel so much better. And I’m 35, not 25, so I think that’s part of it. What you need changes as you get older, but being curious is so, so important. And worst case is you don’t like it. My mom once came to a spin class with me; I was teaching it. We finished the spin class and she got off the bike and she looked at me and said, “Kathleen, I love you, and I will never do that again.” She literally hated it. She looked like she was going to vomit. But she loves yoga and she loves walking her dog. So she has found her fit in those things, but I really appreciate that she was willing to come try it. And then she didn’t like it, so she let it go.
Number seven is that your body’s not a garbage can, so don’t put crap into it; don’t treat it like one. Again, have small amounts of treats that you love. And rest is really important. So I’m not arguing that you should never watch a movie and I’m not arguing that you shouldn’t take downtime. I love my meditation, I love my sleep, but I also am very aware of the quality of meats that I put into my food, the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables, the amount of water, and everything in moderation. And if I do decide to have chocolate, I try to make it better quality. I think of what my body needs, and the fuel that it needs, so good quality of food that’s going to fill me with energy and allow me to do all the things I want to do. Tip number eight is the idea of always eating from the top tiers of the cake, which is a visual that I love. If you think of a wedding cake, the top tier would maybe be one treat. So for me, one or two Lindt chocolates. The second tier might be three or four Lindt chocolates. Each of the tiers gets more, and by the time you get down to the bottom end of the cake, it’s like 3,000-4,000 calories. That’s where you have spiraled out of control and it’s, “I already had two pieces of chocolate so I might as well have four, and then I might as well have some wine, and then I might as well have a beer.” The problem is that it’s really hard to come back from the bottom tier of the cake. A lot of people will go out and go on this binge and eat 3,000 or 4,000 calories, and then they’ll say to me, “Kathleen, I’m going to be really good and I’m going to get back on track”. Then they’re really good for a couple of days, which is great, but that doesn’t really bring them back to where they started. So if you continually go to tier 10 and continually are only good for two or three days, it’s this negative spiral. If you only ever go the top two tiers of the cake, you stay relatively healthy and you can always go for a walk, go for a run. You can be healthy for a week or so and get back to your normal. That’s hard around the holidays, but it’s really important around holidays or your birthday or any of the big celebrations, because it’s easy to sort of let a birthday go for an entire month, and every celebration you eat tier 8, and then by the end of the month you’re like, “Oh my God, I feel terrible.” But if at every celebration you said instead, “I’m going to pick the one thing I love and do that, and then I’m also going to go for a walk.”
Connected to that is number nine, which is demanding more of yourself, and connected to that is having compassion for yourself, but having compassion and demanding more because you love yourself, not because you hate yourself. It’s holding yourself to a higher standard because you want to have energy and you want to be the fittest self that you can be. That’s connected to tip number 10, which is thriving in your own lane. So, don’t compare yourself to others. You’re what your version of fit is. Work within your genetics. My dad always says, “Take your genetics and hit them out in the park.” You don’t need to look like your favorite celebrity. Doesn’t matter what the best workout for them is. It only matters what works for you and what’s best for you. It doesn’t matter what somebody else’s version of fit is, it doesn’t matter if they want to go to CrossFit. I think you mentioned that in our pre-talk. If CrossFit is not your jam, if that’s not your version of fit, that’s fine. My mom’s walking the dog and doing yoga – that’s great. Just know you, do you, and demand enough of yourself to be the best version of you that you can be. That’s connected to this idea that health is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. You can’t change all of your unhealthy habits all in one day. This is really connected to what you were talking about earlier – taking small steps, at every moment being like, “What’s the one small little thing I can do better?” If you’re looking at a plate of food, maybe you have a little bit more vegetables and a little bit less of the unhealthy white carbs, or maybe you have a little bit more water. Or instead of having two glasses of wine, maybe you have two glasses of white wine spritzer. It’s the little choices that you make, and understanding that however long it took you to create an unhealthy habit, it takes a long time for a newer, healthier habit. That’s that marathon idea, a marathon without a final end date. It just keeps going and the process continues.
Then the last two are very connected and they’re: learning to have greater inner stability, and deal with stress. I think that the inner stability is really connected to knowing that you are going to wobble, but you have to have the mechanisms ready for when you do wobble. You have to know your triggers. You have to know that life is going to be stressful, so how are you going to deal with that? Instead of thinking, “When my stressful time in life is done, then I’ll get healthy”, you have to think, “Life is always some level of stress. So the health has to start now, and I have to put steps together today that are going to help me in future maybe more stressful times.” I know for example the more stressed I am, the more important it is for me to take moments to meditate and to sleep and to go for walks. Those things really calm me down. And if you can create the healthy habits in slightly lesser times of stress, then when you’re actually in stress hopefully you’ll be able to maintain them. It’s about doing you and knowing you. I find team sports extremely stressful and anxiety-producing. So for me, if I am already stressed, going out and playing a team sport is not going to make me feel better. It’s going to make it worse. But for example, my dad loves hockey, or my boyfriend James loves baseball. Those things really de-stress him. If he’s really stressed at work, he knows he wants to go play golf with a bunch of his friends. So, it’s about knowing you and setting up systems that save yourself from your future self.
Allan (24:22): Each of those are wonderful in their own right. I think it’s good for someone to take some time to go through each of those.
Kathleen Trotter (24:30): That’s a lot. I just gave a lot of information.
Allan (24:31): It is a lot. I don’t want everyone to get overwhelmed and think they have to do all of those things. You can look at each of them and say, “Where do I stand on this one thing?” Where you’re talking about the top of the wedding cake for example – I know I’m more of an “all or nothing” type of person, so I’m actually going to skip on the snacks, because I know if I start the snacks, it’s going to start me on that same spiral that you were talking about. So, that self-awareness is looking at that and saying, “Am I a moderation type person or not?” Demand more out of yourself. This is not about you being a drill sergeant. The way I look at it is, if I told my wife I was going to pick her up at the airport at 5:00 a.m., I would be at the airport at 5:00 a.m. If I tell myself I’m going to go to the gym at 5:00 a.m., I’m going to the gym at 5:00 a.m.
Kathleen Trotter (25:32): Absolutely. It’s connected to the “living like you love yourself”. Parenting yourself or treating yourself like you would your spouse – I love that. I think your wife is very lucky to have you.
Allan (25:43): No, I’m very lucky to have her. And if I didn’t pick her up I’d be sleeping on the couch. But I think each of those, as you go through, take some time to do some self-awareness meditation, for a lack of a better word, where you just take the time and say, “Is this an area where I can get a big movement? Is this going to move the needle for me if I really focus on this one right now?” And you’re going to find one or two, or maybe even three, four, five or six of those that are going to give you a push in the right direction. It’s much the same when I talk about the GPS and I say we’ve got to look for those things in our psyche, in our head, in our mind and in our body that are going to work for us, and those things that won’t work for us. And those ones that are, that’s where the need of this is. That’s where you’re going to get that big movement. So these 13 are a really good primer for you to go through that thought process to understand where you’re going to be able to focus first and get the most results early.
Kathleen Trotter (26:55): I love it, and it’s so important to have this understanding that you are a unique being and what will work for somebody else won’t work for you. I think a great, slightly funny example is, one of my key Kathleenisms for myself is, the worst my mood, the more important my workout. For me, working out is really about my mood. If I’m in a bad mood, that’s when I know I have to go for a walk or for a run. I was speaking to one of my clients the other day and she said, “Kathleen, I tried to use your motto of ‘the worst my mood, the more important my workout.’ But then I said to myself I’m really not in a very bad mood. I’m in a better mood than I thought I was, so I definitely don’t have to work out.” So we just laughed. It’s a great example of how that motto doesn’t work for her, but for me it’s so powerful. All of my book is about exactly what you said – read it and if it works for you, use it, and if it doesn’t, move on to what does. As you said about knowing if you come from moderation and if you can have a few snacks or not. I love the idea of red foods, yellow foods and green foods. So for me, I am not very good at moderation with a few foods like chocolate, but I’m very good at moderation with most other foods. I know that my red foods are my no-go foods; they’re my foods that if I start, I can’t stop. So, I can’t have them in the house. That could be a helpful thing for people out there. But again, it goes back to understanding who you are. Maybe you’re a moderate person in some situations and not others. My mom is amazing. She literally will have a bite of a shortbread cookie, which is her “love it” food, and then put that shortbread cookie away. But I couldn’t do that if it was in the house. So, it’s all about knowing you and using what works for you. Knowing that the end result, the end goal is to be a fitter, happier version of you, and anything that’s going to get you there, that’s what you have to embrace.
Allan (28:59): I like that you brought up that we’re all genuinely unique in the way we need to approach our nutrition, our fitness and our mindset. You like putting together programs, I guess, or thinking about how you’re going to improve yourself. You look at it from a form of making mixes, like the mixed tapes we used to make when we were kids. Can you talk about the concept of mixes and how they would apply to nutrition, fitness and mindset?
Kathleen Trotter (29:34): It came about from a conversation I was having with my best friend Emily. We’ve been friends since grade 10. We were sitting having pedicures, and she always likes to ask me these questions. I think that day was about intermittent fasting, but in general, she’ll say, “What do you think of this workout?” or, “What do you think of this nutrition program or diet?” or whatever. And I will always say something like, “These are the pros and these are the cons. If you’re this type of person, these pros will work for you. If you’re this type of person, this wouldn’t work for you.” She’s great at marketing and PR, and she turns to me and she goes, “That’s your next book!” I was like, “What?” And she goes, “The next book is that it’s not about finding a program out there that’s already created. It’s about creating a mix that works for you – curating your own health. Taking the pros of all the different stuff out there, being an educated mix maker and figuring out what works for you.” And I was like, “Yeah, that is my philosophy!” So, that’s really what the book is. There are a couple of chapters on workouts where I break down all the different workouts and the pros and the cons. There are a couple of chapters on nutrition, and I break down everything from intermittent fasting to the Mediterranean diet to Paleo. And then there are a couple of chapters on mindset. I really believe that it’s about creating a mix that will work for you. The mix will change based on your age. And understand that you need all the remixes. Most of us know what healthy food is. It’s not rocket science to know we should eat more vegetables and move a little bit more, but knowing and doing are two very different things. I actually don’t believe that just having the knowledge of the workout and the nutrition mix is enough. The mindset mix is key because it’s what allows you to connect the dots between wanting to do something and actually doing it. I think that that’s actually where most of the nutrition and fitness information out there breaks down – that coaching aspect of, how do you actually make yourself do it? How do you make yourself move? And that’s what the book outlines, that you need all three mixes, and that’s what I take you through. It’s about creating what’s unique to you and then knowing that if you create a mix and it doesn’t work, you can reformat it; or if it does work, but then in five years it no longer works – that’s great, that’s okay. You’re changing, you’re evolving, and you create a new mix.
Allan (32:04): Excellent. Now, you brought up this concept in the book that you call “finding your kiwis”. Could you go through that with us?
Kathleen Trotter (32:15): Again, it came from a conversation, this time with one of my amazing clients, and we were talking about nutrition. She’s a mother of four and she was talking about how she’s constantly making food for other people and she’s making this dinner for this child and this dinner for that child. She was feeling very overwhelmed about what she should eat. I said to her, “What do you like?” And she was like, “What do you mean?” I was like, “You’re talking about all the food you make for other people and you’re talking about all the food that you’re not allowed to eat.” She was like, “I can’t have this, I can’t have that.” She was focusing a lot on others and what she was not allowed, which was making her feel super overwhelmed and kind of depressed. And I said, “Forget about what other people like and forget about what you’re not allowed to eat. Tell me what is a healthy food that you love? What do you actually enjoy eating?” She’s like, “I don’t know, I really don’t know. My son likes Brussels sprouts.” I was like, “No, forget about your son. What do you like?” Anyway, the first thing that she could think that she actually enjoyed was a kiwi. So I started to talk with all my clients about “finding your kiwis”. And a kiwi could be a food that you love, it could also be a form of exercise that you love. One of my favorite things to do is to put in a good podcast and go for a walk. It calms me, it centers me, it makes me feel like I’m learning and getting outside. So that for me is a huge key. I love raspberries; it’s a huge kiwi. So, kiwis are just healthy choices that you genuinely like; choices that you feel like you’re being pulled towards that choice versus something that you’re making yourself do. I think the more kiwis you can have in your mixes, the more likely you’re actually going to stick to the mix. We can all make ourselves do things and behave for a limited time. That’s the problem with big, unrealistic goals. You can make yourself go to CrossFit or go running or whatever for a limited time, but if you genuinely hate those things, you’re not going to stick with it long-term. I really believe that consistency matters. It’s much more important what you will do on a consistent basis for the rest of your life than what you will do once a month or once a year for an hour.
Allan (34:39): I think the reason that I really liked that concept was, it pretty much gets you focused on the positive things that you’re doing in your life and it gives you these little go-to’s. So let’s say that today might be your hit training session and you’re just dreading it. The other day I was talking with one of my clients; he said he gets so much anxiety on leg day that he almost doesn’t want to go. Then he goes and he feels great about it, but he’s just so afraid that he’s going to have a bad workout because they’re so hard. And I told him there are going to be days you don’t feel it. You know it’s not your body that’s broken down, but you’re just not feeling it. Or it might be that maybe you’re planning to go to a buffet dinner and you know that there are going to be bad things. But if you have these kiwis, these ideas of things that you would rather do, or really enjoy doing… So, maybe today isn’t the day for you to do the hit training. Maybe today is the day for you to go ahead and find a good podcast, get the headphones on and go for a walk. Or maybe today you say, “What are some of my kiwis that I know are healthy? Well, I really like Brussels sprouts.” And you happen to see on the buffet they’ve got Brussels sprouts. So, you skip the bread, which would be one of my kryptonites, and I would say immediately I’ve got to put Brussel sprouts on my plate first. So, I see that as a way you can have this inventory of these that can be there to help you and to motivate you, because they’re going to be there all the time and very easy for you to do and feel good about.
Kathleen Trotter (36:22): Again, it circles back to what we’ve talked about a couple of times – this idea of the GPS of health. I think in my mind that the non-negotiable is that I am working towards a fitter, happier, healthier and more joyful Kathleen. If that’s my non-negotiable, then I work backwards and I figure out how I’m going to make that happen. And kiwis are often a way that I can make that happen. Another way to do it is, I talk in the book about this idea of a “plug-and-play list”. So again, if your non-negotiable is that you move and you have as many healthy foods as you can in your day, if you have a plug-and-play list already created, then it takes away some of the cognitive energy. And the list is exercise you can do in five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes; healthy food, kiwis you can make in five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, etcetera. If you think, “Now I just found 10 minutes. What can I do? I can dance around my house for 10 minutes. I can go for a quick walk. I can do some squats. I could make this salad because I’ve already prepared all the veggies.” I think a lot of the time with health, it can feel so overwhelming, discouraging and really joyless. And the combination of the kiwis and being prepared with lists of kiwis and lists of things that make it easy and convenient, it can take the weight off our shoulders. Who wants to be healthy if it feels like this thing is squashing you, right? If you constantly feel like the weight is on your shoulders, it’s just too much.
Allan (37:59): Yes. So Kathleen, following on that, I define “wellness” as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
Kathleen Trotter (38:13): I love that question. First, I’m going to talk about my recipe. And everybody listening will know already that this is mine, so if it doesn’t work for you, let it go. I know that daily motion is key for me. That I consider a non-negotiable and it 100% will make me feel better. So, in a day, I want to try to fit in some type of motion. That could be running, it could be walking and listening to podcasts, it could be Pilates, it could be going to a fitness class with friends. I want to fit in some type of journaling or a reflecting process. That could be going to see my therapist, but if I’m in between therapy sessions, it could be writing in my journal for five minutes. It could even just be talking to a friend through an issue. And then I want some type of meaningful social interaction. And again, it could be just a phone call. I’m giving away my trade secrets of my relationship, but with my partner James every night we do a “best and worst” of the day, and a gratitude moment. Those three things are my grounding for a healthier, happier, fitter version of Kathleen – motion, journaling, and reflection of some sort with a significant other. So, that’s me. But I think it’s being aware enough of who I am and who I want to be, so I can be curious enough to continue. I keep going back to this curiosity being a really key thing. I think that 20 years ago if you’d asked me what would make me happy, I would’ve said chocolate and cheese and pasta. And if I had said I’m just not the type of person who likes to exercise, then I would never be where I am today. So much of it is being curious and knowing that that recipe I just talked about will hopefully change as I get older. So that would be my first one, is find your recipe, find what grounds you.
The second one would be always believing that there is a solution. I credit my mom for this, because I hated being active when I was a kid. I was overweight, I wasn’t happy. And my mom said to me, “Kathleen, you don’t like being active, but there has to be a solution.” So she got me a membership to the YMCAS and she said, “Maybe why you don’t like being active is because being with kids your own age is really intimidating. Maybe you’d be more comfortable with adults.” So, we got a membership and I started walking on a treadmill for a couple of minutes and I took those really small steps forward, as you spoke about earlier. And walking on the treadmill led to doing weights, which led to doing fitness classes, which led to me teaching fitness classes, which led to me deciding to do exercise science in university. And so I got where I am today. So that would be it.
And then I think my final thing, just to quote Anne Lamott, or paraphrase anyway: “Don’t compare your messy insides to other people’s makeup face”, meaning comparison is the thief of joy. I think that social media can be wonderful if you use it in the right way. I love following people that I respect on Twitter and Instagram and it’s a great way to get new podcasts and new information. But it can be really, really dangerous if you compare how you feel on the inside about yourself to how other people look on social media. I think that so much of health and fitness is getting out of this shame-based “I hate myself”, belittling self-talk, “Look at all those other people who have it all together”, and realizing that we’re all human. None of us have it really together and we’re all just doing the best we can. We could be grateful for the fact that we can move and that movement is a privilege, and to go from there with a generous spirit and knowing that we’re all doing the best we can.
Allan (42:36): Those were wonderful. I appreciate that. I want to thank you also, because you did put this podcast in the “Resources” section of the book, which I really can’t say enough. I appreciate that so much. And there are a lot of other great resources back there.
Kathleen Trotter (42:51): It goes with my curiosity mindset. I think that learning from other people is so important, especially people that inspire you. On days that I feel really low, and honestly, I’ve suffered with depression my entire life – exercise and wonderful podcasts and learning from other people really helped me stay on my happy, healthy horse. I can’t tell people enough who are listening – growth mindset, Carol Dweck is amazing. Brene Brown, Gretchen Rubin, your book, your podcast. Just find people who motivate you, listen to them, be inspired by them. If you’re trying to figure out what to do, often what’s really useful is to look at somebody not in a comparison way, but think, “Okay, interesting. They’ve done these things. What can I learn from them? What can I learn from their journey for my own self?”
Allan (43:46): Absolutely. Now, you’re going to do a little contest thing for us. I’d like for you to talk about that, and after you do that, if you could tell us where people can learn more about you and learn more about the book, Your Fittest Future Self, please do.
Kathleen Trotter (44:05): Okay. The contest will be I think for anybody who comments on this podcast. They will get to win my new book, Your Fittest Future Self, signed, and my first book which is called Finding Your Fit. They kind of work both together. And also resistance bands, so you can get started doing some of the workouts that are in the book. You just have to comment on the post and then I will mail you the books. And if you have any questions, you can always get a hold of me on my website, KathleenTrotter.com. I’m KTrotterFitness on Twitter, kathleentrotterfitness on Instagram, and just Kathleen Trotter on Facebook. And I love chatting with people, I love answering questions, so get a hold of me if you have any.
Allan (44:49): Okay. This post is going to be at 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/369. Leave a comment on the post and you’ll be eligible to win that wonderful prize, because they’re both wonderful books. Kathleen’s been on the podcast before, so I can tell you the other book is great too. And she’s giving you the resistance bands as well – that’s one of my favorite tools to share with my clients. So, thank you, Kathleen for that. And thank you for being a part of 40+ Fitness again.
Kathleen Trotter (45:25): It’s absolutely my pleasure. I love your philosophy and you’re wonderful to chat with. I’m going to use some of your tips that you gave me with my people.
Allan (45:34): Awesome. Thank you.
Well, today is the day. As this episode goes live, my wife Tammy and I are on an airplane headed down to Bocas del Toro, Panama. We are looking to relocate there and spend some of our retirement time on the islands of Bocas del Toro. We haven’t really decided where we’re going to live there yet, so we’re going to rent a place for a couple of months on the island, then we’re going to head mainland, spend some time in Panama City, Boquete, David, and probably Coronado. So we’re going to check out the country.
If you’re in Panama and want to meet up for coffee or something, please do reach out. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to connect with you. Or you can hit me up on Facebook at the 40+ Fitness podcast Facebook group. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Group and connect there. Maybe we can do a meetup of some sort – just let me know. I want to get to know Panama and if you can help me on that journey, I’d really appreciate it.
Also, if you want to do something to help the podcast, there is something really, really big that you can do that’s not going to be big from a pocket book perspective. Would you consider being a patron for the podcast? There are some awards and things that you can get by being a patron. You could go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Patreon, and that will take you to our Patreon page. By being a patron, you’re helping to support the podcast. There is an expense to running a podcast like this, so you’ll help me cover those expenses. And then I do have some nice giveaways if you are part of the Patreon program. You can check that out, again, at 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Patreon. And I want to thank the folks that are already a patron of the show and have been helping me out so far. I really do appreciate each and every one of you. Thank you so much for that. It really is a relief to see that I’ve got fans out there that are helping and want to support keep the podcast going. So thank you for that. If you aren’t, then you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Patreon.
And then finally, I did want to remind you again that The Wellness Roadmap is up for an Author Academy Award. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/AAA, scroll to the bottom of that page – there’s a voting link there. Find us on page 7 in the “Health” category. It’s The Wellness Roadmap book by me, Allan Misner, and you can get to it, again, with a direct link from our website: 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/AAA and help us win an Author Academy Award. Thank you.
Time management is one of the main reasons people give for why they can't eat healthy food. In her new book, Lose Weight With Your Instapot, Audrey Johns shows how this cooker can make short time of cooking healthy meals.
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Allan (1:01): Audrey, welcome back to 40+ Fitness.
Audrey Johns (1:05): Thank you so much for having me, Allan. I’m so excited to be back on the show.
Allan (1:08): I really do enjoy the approach that you have to cookbooks, one, because I went through the different recipes and they all look brilliant, and there are no cans of anything. It just makes me so happy that someone’s not saying, “Open up a can of this, or buy that.” In many cases you’re making your own stuff to fill in the gaps in the recipes, where normally the recipe would say, “Go buy a can of this or a jar of that.” You’re actually teaching people how to cook the whole meal.
Audrey Johns (1:45): Absolutely. One of the recipes that stands out to me in that is the red beans and rice. A girl growing up in New Orleans, I was so excited to be able to make red beans from scratch. And I agree – when you can make it for yourself, it’s going to be so much healthier.
Allan (2:03): It is. I knew what an instapot was; I’ve never really actually used one. The sad thing is I asked my wife because I was like, “I’m going to pull this out and try something.” We’re getting ready to move to Panama, so she sold our instapot.
Audrey Johns (2:19): Oh no! Well, you’re going have to get a new one. Are the electrical sockets different there? Is that going to be an issue?
Allan (2:25): No, the electrics are the same. The problem is that we’re lightening our load as much as possible, so we’re selling practically everything in this house before we sell the house, or as we’re still in the house. So, it was an easy sell for her. She listed it and got, I guess, what she wanted for it, and it went out in one of the first rounds of our selling. And I didn’t actually realize that until I started looking for it. Sadly, that was one of the few times I didn’t. When I was looking at the pork chops with the apple – that looks really good. What was so amazing was with some of the accessories, you can cook an entire meal in one. I didn’t actually realize how dynamic and how really good these instant pots are for, one, saving time, because you don’t have to be there while it’s cooking, but the other thing is, you can do so much with it.
Audrey Johns (3:13): Absolutely. The protein bowl for example – I absolutely love that dish. What you do is you put the quinoa at the bottom, and then you put the trivet, which happens to come with the actual instant pot, and then you put a steamer basket in there and within the steamer basket you put the chicken and all the other vegetables. You press “Go” and you walk away; and you come back and you have this perfect, amazing meal that all you have to do is just add to a bowl. You can do that with so many different items. You can have rice on the bottom and then you can have the steamer basket in there for your vegetables or for your protein. It’s one-pot cooking in a totally different way than what we’ve been used to in the last 10 to 15 years in the cooking industry. It’s exciting and it makes cooking more accessible to people who don’t really have the time to cook. I’ve been speaking to a lot of people about the instant pot. You know me – I love to talk about cooking, which is why I’m on the show. I go out and I’m talking to people about the instant pot. In fact, I had my car serviced yesterday and I was at the dealership, and the guy says, “Wow, I see here that you’re an author. What do you write?” I said I write cookbooks. “Oh, my girlfriend and I, we don’t have time to cook.” I’m like, “But you have an instant pot.” And there I am, selling the instant pot for the instant pot company.
Allan (4:30): They need to get you on retainer with a commission or something.
Audrey Johns (4:34): Yeah, that would be nice. But what I’m really excited about is encouraging people to stop going through the drive-thru; you can actually make a meal in the same amount of time that you go through the drive-thru. And while it’s cooking, you can kick off your shoes and turn on the news or some fun program, and help your kids with homework, and just relax. It’s so easy and it makes it so accessible. If you can learn how to use just three buttons, you’re set. That’s all you need to know to cook. That’s really exciting, and I feel like it makes it more accessible to the masses.
Allan (5:10): I’d seen it sitting on our kitchen counter. I just had never thought to use it. I have no problem cooking and I’m very good with the slow cooker, but it looked a little complicated to me when I first looked at it. Can you explain what an instant pot is and why it’s so versatile, why it’s such a good tool to have in your kitchen?
Audrey Johns (5:32): Absolutely. What I love about the instant pot is that you have all of these different options and there are tons of different buttons. And each instant pot they come out with is new and improved, there are more buttons. I love that, because it gives me more options, but I feel like it makes it more daunting for somebody who first opens it. And you go on these blogs and forums and there’s an instant pot community on Facebook that I’m a member of. And people are going on and they’re saying, “I got an instant pot last year for Christmas, 12 months ago, and I haven’t even opened it yet. I’m too scared to use it”. And it is daunting because there are so many buttons. However, there are only really three important buttons and if you can use just three buttons, then you’re set. What I try to do with Lose Weight with Your Instant Pot – my new cookbook – I try to only use those three buttons so it’s really easy. No matter which model you have, you don’t have to worry about finding the yogurt button or the egg button or any of that. All you really need to notice on your machine is the “Sautee” button, the “Pressure Cook” button, or “Cook” on some of them it says, and the “Cancel” button. That makes it more accessible for people who maybe don’t purchase the actual instapot brands, they buy an off–brand. Just find those three buttons and do the water test. When you get your manual, it asks you to do a water test, and basically, you can’t ruin water. You certainly can’t burn water in an instant pot; you can boil it. You do that one test and it kind of takes the fear out of it and it also makes sure everything is working correctly. Now that I’ve given you all of this information, maybe your head is spinning even more. To simplify it, to give you the most simple definition of what an instant pot is – it is an electronic pressure cooker. That’s it.
Allan (7:25): So basically putting the contents under pressure and then raising the temperature, and that allows it to cook faster while still retaining the moistness and not drying them out.
Audrey Johns (7:37): Absolutely. It’s kind of the polar opposite of the slow cooker. In slow cookers you cook it slow and low for as many hours as you like. With the pressure cooker, it’s a quick meal. Even on some of the recipes, like on an egg recipe, pretty much as soon as your instant pot has pressurized, you’re done. You just turn it off and you’re done. So it’s very fast, very easy. I’m a cookbook author and I love food. I cook all day, every day, and I am the first one to admit that pressure cookers are a little daunting for me. You hear these horror stories of them exploding. But with the instant pot, all of that fear, all of those issues are completely taken off the table because if something goes wrong, it shuts itself down. So I feel comfortable turning my instapot on and walking out the door and going and picking my kid up from school, and coming home and food is ready. You can’t do that with most other kitchen appliances, except for the slow cooker. It’s foolproof. And that’s what I really love about this new amazing… I mean it’s not that new, but it’s hot and exciting, and it’s very popular now. This is a great kitchen appliance.
Allan (8:51): Okay. So, we go out and we buy a pressure cooker or have Amazon deliver it to us, because Amazon, I’m sure, sells these things. It gets delivered to our house or we go buy it at a local store. We’re getting it out of the box and it’s going to walk us through doing a water test. That way we’ll know everything’s working the way it’s supposed to, and now we’re ready to start doing things. But besides buying your cookbook, Lose Weight with Your Instant Pot, what are some tips and tricks that we would want to know just to get started?
Audrey Johns (9:26): What I like to recommend is, pick something that you know you’re really going to love to eat. A lot of times people say, “What is the first thing I should make in my instapot?” Make something that you know your family is going to love. If you guys love mac and cheese, make mac and cheese. There’s a mac and cheese recipe here in my book. Don’t pick something completely over the top that you would never have made, for instance, the cassoulet. Make something simple and easy so it takes the fear factor out of it. Honestly, how hard is it to mess up mac and cheese? So, choose something easy and something you know the family will like. And what I always love to tell people is, in the kitchen, this is the only place in your life where you can completely mess up and you can call and order pizza, and that will fix your problem. So, get in there, get dirty and try it out. Worst case scenario, you’re pulling something out of the freezer or you’re calling for pizza. It’s one of those areas that you can really be bold and try something new. You can’t mess too many things up in the kitchen, especially with electronic pressure cooker. I mean you can’t even light a fire in the house, so it really takes any of the fear out of cooking. Also I know I had mentioned earlier on the podcast, a lot of people are really scared to take the instapot even out of the box. It’s so daunting. So I really recommend, don’t get overwhelmed by all of the different buttons on there. You can get to them later. Right now all you have to find is the “Sautee” button, the “Pressure Cook” button and the “Cancel” button, and that’s it.
Allan (10:56): Okay. Now, with the pressure, it’s going to have to let some of this pressure come off. Sometimes you can let it depressurize on its own, and on some recipes you need to go ahead and release that pressure. You encourage folks to use a wooden spoon to release that pressure because the steam coming out can burn you.
Audrey Johns (11:18): Absolutely. It’s extremely hot. I’m an Italian woman, so I have a collection of probably 200 wooden spoons. It is my preferred kitchen tool, if I may. I recommend using a wooden spoon. It’s not going to melt on you, it’s not going to get hot, like if you use a metal spoon. You go from the side, not from above, and you just knock the little dongle to the side and the pressure will come out. Now, if that scares you, another tip – don’t start your very first experience with an electronic pressure cooker on something that you actually have to release the pressure. It’s easy. I will admit the first time I did it, I was a little bit worried, but it’s not as scary as it sounds. It does make quite a lot of noise. But if that kind of thing freaks you out, don’t make an egg dish first off; don’t make something that you have to release the pressure, otherwise it will overcook. Make something easy. Make the sloppy joes in my cookbook. Make something that you can walk away from and two hours later when the pressure has naturally let itself release and it’s been heated up and it’s just been sitting and waiting for you, it’s not scary to open it up. I really recommend baby steps when it comes to using an instant pot, and then you won’t be scared of it and you’ll be excited and you’ll want to keep trying new things and you’ll get bold, and it kind of takes the fear out of it.
Allan (12:47): I guess most instant pots are going to have a “Keep Warm” feature. It keeps it warm for you. So if you said, “When I first get home from work I’m going to sit down and put all this stuff in there”, and then you go get into your comfy clothes for the evening, maybe take a shower or you go for a run or something, and then you come back in and it might’ve been in there for two or three hours before you get ready to eat, but it’s going to be ready.
Audrey Johns (13:15): Absolutely. The skinny sloppy joes in my cookbook come to mind when you bring that up. Last year I was the Girl Scout troop leader for my daughter’s troop, and I was testing the recipes for the book. I just had too much on my plate, to be honest. It was a lot going on, like, why did I decide to become a Girl Scout troop leader while I was recipe-testing? I don’t know, but I did. And so I made the sloppy joes and I left. That was the first time ever leaving the instant pot on and walking out the door, and it hadn’t even stopped cooking. It wasn’t that it was depressurizing on its own. It was still going. I walked out the door and two hours later, after we had done our meeting and all the kids had gone home and we had finally gotten home, they were the best sloppy joes I have ever made. They were warm and they were hot and they were ready for dinner. I barely had the energy to take my shoes off – 12 little girls and me, and I was already frazzled from cooking all day. It was perfect. This is perfect for people who don’t have a lot of time or who have a lot on their plates. My daughter will come home from school and I’ll start helping her with her homework and I’ll forget to cook dinner. And that’s me – a cookbook author – I will forget to cook dinner from time to time. And then I’m rushing to try and throw something together, but with the instapot I can already have it ready and I can just let it sit, or I can quickly whip something up. It’s amazing. I’m in love with my instapot. I am Audrey and I love an instapot.
Allan (14:51): You had me when you did a 30-minute marinara sauce, because when I make a marinera sauce, it’s a six-hour ordeal, easily. I’ll start in the morning and my wife’s like, “What are you doing on the stove cooking?” I say, “I’m making some marinara for dinner tonight.” She’s like, “Oh, okay.” It’s six to eight hours that I’m going to have to cook that marinara down, but in an instapot you can do it in 30 minutes. That’s pretty amazing.
Audrey Johns (15:20): I honestly felt like I was going to be struck down by lightning. I was worried about it. I’m like, “I am an Italian woman. My ancestors are going to be furious with me. This is not okay. You can’t cook marinara sauce in 30 minutes.” It was amazing, Allan. It was so delicious. I’m like, “Are you serious?” But it’s because it’s under pressure. It’s essentially giving you six hours’ worth of cooking time in 30 minutes. I still do prefer the long and slow method because that’s how my mom and my grandmother made it, but when I’m in a rush and I need a quick marinara sauce, that’s my go-to. It is so easy.
Allan (15:58): That’s a really quick meal when you think about a good healthy meal. You start the marinara sauce. You get some zucchini and make some zoodles and you’ve got a plant-based dinner ready for yourself in less than 30 minutes. That’s pretty cool.
Audrey Johns (16:15): Absolutely. And it’s delicious and it’s packed full of antioxidants. It feels like you’re splurging. There’s something about Italian food that even when you make it healthy, it just feels like you’re splurging. Or is that just me, Allan, because I’m Italian?
Allan (16:28): No, I enjoy Italian food, and that’s one of the problems. I don’t want to go out and eat it anymore, because I know what goes in it sometimes. You look at a label when you go to buy a pasta sauce and one of the first ingredients is going to be sugar or a high fructose corn syrup. And then you get to the bottom of the list and there’s 18 extra ingredients that I would never put in mine, but they have to put it in theirs to keep it on a shelf. So, you’re making good, high quality food. A good trip to the farmer’s market on a Saturday, and Saturday night you could be eating some of the best marinara sauce on whatever, whether you want to do pasta or zoodles. Boom! There you go.
Audrey Johns (17:14): Absolutely. And since you mentioned going to the farmer’s market and then going home and cooking – I did an entire chapter called Shred It Your Way. I want to find a way to be able to do an entire cookbook on this, but basically I did a recipe for shredded chicken, for pulled pork and for shredded beef. And then I had coinciding recipes that actually went with every single protein that I had put in the book, but specific recipes to go with the chicken, to go with the pork, to go with the beef. So you only had to cook one night a week. Or say, for instance, for the beef ragu rigatoni, all you had to do was basically boil water and you were done. I think that when you use the instapot and you cook in larger quantities, you could cook an entire week’s worth of food in two hours on a Sunday afternoon and then you’re set for the rest of the week. I’ve heard from a lot of people who love to meal prep that the instapot is their go-to, because it cuts down the time and you can do such huge quantities, especially if you have one of the larger instapots, like an eight or a six quart.
Allan (18:25): I harp on my clients about batch cooking all the time. One of the main reasons people will say they can’t eat healthy is that they just don’t have time to cook. Now, batch cooking with an instant pot is almost a no-brainer. If I want to do some batch cooking for the week, I’ll do three or four meals on a Sunday, put them in containers, put most of them in the freezer and then just pull those out the day before. I put them in the fridge and they’re good to go; I just warm them up. So yes, very, very good. Now, one of the things I do like about your cookbooks in particular is you take some time to throw in some really cool tips and things like that that might not have anything really to do with the topic so much. But you do include some tips about when we’re going to go out. This episode is going to air in January, but we’re always ending up at a party or at someone’s house and we’re having to make food choices that seem somewhat out of our control. Can you share some tips for when we’re going to go to an event or to a party on how we can structure our plate and stay healthy?
Audrey Johns (19:37): Absolutely. Like you said, I always add these fun things to my book, and this book happened to have a holiday chapter. So this is in the holiday chapter, but all of you listening in January, this goes for all events. It goes great for company events and going to a party. It’s simple. First of all, if you know you’re going to go to a place that’s going to be full of junk food, eat beforehand. I think that’s a go-to that’s really, really easy. But say for instance you didn’t know, and you get there and you’re completely overwhelmed, there’s tons of food, you don’t know what’s in it, you don’t know what’s healthy and what’s not – I really recommend starting out with the vegetables. All three of my books have always talked about your plate equation, and I always recommend following the 50 /25 / 25 – 50% vegetables, 25% protein and 25% carbohydrates. That gives you the opportunity to have something yummy, have a roll or a potato or something. You’re at a party. You want to make sure that you are splurging a little bit, but not too much. So I recommend starting out with the vegetables because if you start out with the protein or the carbohydrates, you’re going to end up filling up your plate really fast. Best case scenario – get a salad, because you know what’s in it; you can actually see what’s in it. If you end up getting some heavily cooked dish, you don’t know if there’s an entire can of cream of mushroom soup and two pounds of cheddar in it. Just because it happens to be a green item might not necessarily make it healthy. So I recommend going for your vegetables, ideally going for anything raw. Go for the veggie tray, the salad, those kinds of things. And then move onto the protein.
Now, because this is a holiday chapter and I’m modifying it for your listeners, I talk about how much I adore turkey. Any kind of white meat, chicken, turkey – anything like that is a great option. You’ve got that big old salad; you can chop it up and put it on top of the salad, you can put it on the side. Go for the protein next because you definitely want to feel full. I don’t know if I’m the only one who looks at food like this, but it’s like that’s the best deal there. You go out to dinner, and the steak and the chicken is the same price – I’m getting the steak; I’m getting the best deal. When I look at a holiday gathering, I don’t want to be cheap and only have the $0.25 salad. I want to have a piece of that chicken or I want to have some yummy steak. So, have a little bit of protein, and then finally go for the carbohydrates. And let’s go for something that’s more nutritious, if you can. I know a lot of people look at potatoes and they think starch, fat. But if you’re thinking about nutritional value, potato versus a roll – you’re going to get so many more nutritious elements from the potato. So have a baked potato. I make in my book the scallop potatoes; they’re absolutely amazing. They’re really healthy and low calorie. But fill up on the vegetables, then protein, then carbohydrates.
Another really great tip – if it happens to be a potluck, bring something healthy, bring something you know you can eat and you know that if you get there and everything is absolute junk and it’s going make you feel sick and reverse your weight loss work, then you know you can fill up on that. Then finally, what I always recommend is, you’re at a party – have the dessert, have a drink. Just have it in very, very small quantities. For dessert, I always recommend splitting it with somebody. So if you go to a party and there’s a great piece of pie or a cookie or a slice of chocolate cake – my favorite – split it with somebody or take half of it home or ask for a very small slice. When it comes to drinks, when you arrive at the party, don’t go straight for the champagne or a glass of wine. Wait until you’re actually sitting down with your meal. So, start with water, end with water and only have that one cocktail or that one glass of wine while you’re eating, and you’ll be less likely to splurge the entire time.
Allan (23:43): Yes, absolutely. You also got into another topic that I think is really important, because I get this question all the time: “Allan, what kind of exercise can I do to lose weight?” Every time I hear it, I let out a little internal sigh because they’re not going to like my answer. But just so they’re hearing it from someone else, can you answer that question for us?
Audrey Johns (24:09): I hope that I’m going to answer it the same way as you do. I am a firm believer that weight loss is found in the kitchen and not in the gym. Sure, you can burn some calories at the gym, but most likely you will end up thinking, “I just burned 300 calories on the elliptical machine and now I can go have a slice of chocolate cake.” I think that exercise is so, so important for our bodies. I am literally still sitting here in my Pilates clothes because I am a Pilates fanatic. It makes me feel strong, I carry myself better. I do look thinner, because I have better posture because of Pilates and exercise and because I’m stronger. But I am a very firm believer that weight loss is found in the kitchen. It’s all about what you put in your mouth. So, go for the exercise, but don’t expect it to do all the work for you. You actually have to start working on how you eat.
Allan (25:01): I am complete agreement with you there.
Audrey Johns (25:05) I’m so glad!
Allan (25:06): It surprises them, because I’m a fitness guy and they’re like, “You can teach us exercises and we can do these different things.” And I’m like, “Yes, but that’s for fitness. That’s to make you a better grandfather or grandmother, or make you better at tennis, or able to finish that 5K that you want to do in a couple of months.” That’s what exercise or training should be about, is helping you do those things. And then yes, if weight loss or fat loss is what you’re really wanting, that’s going to come from what and how much you eat. So, I completely agree with you that we’ve got to get our kitchens going if we want to get our waistline down.
Audrey Johns (25:45) I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, Allan. Why is that so hard for people to, not grasp, but to change? I do enjoy Pilates, but I was dragging getting there today, and I don’t always want to go. For me, I’d rather cook a nice healthy meal. I was trained to understand that and I think it’s daunting for people to think they have to give up something they love. They would rather add something. I don’t know that that is necessarily the easiest thing to do, adding something, especially something that strenuous. But I think if your listeners do think it would be easier to add an exercise versus change how they eat, maybe we change the way we look at it and instead of taking away things you can’t have, adding in things to your diet that you should be having. It’s kind of in that same mentality, that you’re adding exercise. Instead of adding exercise, why not add a plant-based meal, one meal a day? One entire meal that’s completely all natural, and then go from there. And then keep increasing the amount of vegetables and healthy proteins that you’re eating,
Allan (27:03): I think what it comes down to is, we were handed this really simple equation called “calories in, calories out”. So everybody thinks, “I can increase the calories out by doing this work and I still get to eat what I want to eat.” They may make some changes to what they eat, but in a general sense they don’t, because they want to eat their cake, they want to eat their bread, they want to have their M&M’s, because they get a dopamine fix on that. A lot of us get into exercise and realize it feels really good to exercise. Once you get into it, the endorphins and things are happening for you there, so it’s a feel-good. It’s kind of hard to tell someone, “I want you to somewhat deprive yourself”, if that’s the right way to say it, “of not having things while you go on this diet. To me it’s always the higher the quality of the food you’re putting in your mouth, the less of it you’re actually going to end up eating, because you’re getting all the nutrition your body needs. You’re not going to have these urges to go and eat a whole bunch of bad foods, because your body has what it needs. It’s not going to be telling you, “We’re not getting everything. Go eat everything.” That’s just not going to happen for you, and that’s why I think it’s really valuable for these cookbooks that are coming out that are using whole food ingredients, because this is simple. Once you get past that learning curve and get into it, it’s quick, it’s easy. As I was reading through the recipes, I thought just about anybody can do this. They’ll need some different pieces, the accessories in some cases, but once they have that kit and they get comfortable with this, it’s almost like an automatic. There are five or six ingredients in a dish, or in some cases just three or four. You put them in there in the way that they’re structured, just set the timer, and 15 minutes, 30 minutes later your meal is complete. It’s so easy that I think things like this are going to make it easier and better for people to get into the kitchen and do what’s right for their body.
Audrey Johns (29:17): Absolutely. I’m in complete agreement with you. The instapot will open up healthy cooking to the masses just because it’s so simple. And you can find them everywhere now. They sell them at my grocery store. I’m seeing them absolutely everywhere. So, I’m sure the majority of your listeners who’ve never heard of an instant pot, it’s going to be like once you see an orange car and then all you ever see is orange cars. You’re like, “Wow, I did not realize there were so many orange cars on the road.” Now you’re going to start seeing instapots everywhere. So, everybody can say “Thank you” to Allan and Audrey for this.
Allan (29:54): I think it’s a great tool. When I get settled down in Panama, we’ll probably be looking for one. I’m like you – not the Italian piece, but I actually like sitting in the kitchen and cooking. I’ll do other things while I’m cooking because it’s not always “you have to be on it” kind of thing. I pick dishes that are easier for me, but I love getting out on the grill, grilling some meat, protein, and then getting something going in the kitchen and moving around and using my kitchen, because it’s how I can get good food in my body. I’m not going to necessarily get that if I try to eat out all the time.
Audrey Johns (30:33): Absolutely. Since you brought that up, the instapot is such a great tool to have when you are barbecuing, because you can cook a side dish. For instance, I’ve got the scallop potatoes in here, or the bruschetta, or these amazing spicy brussels sprouts with bacon. You can have that cooking and you can go outside. You don’t have to worry about lighting a fire in your kitchen. It’s great for that. Even when you are in your kitchen… It’s cold here right now and I’m not going to be barbecuing in 20-degree weather, but I can be working hard over the stove top and know that my rice dish or my potato dish or my brussels sprouts are not going to burn and I can just concentrate on the one item, the one main dish and let the instant pot do the side dish. So you don’t have to use it for the entire meal. You can use it for a side dish. You can use it for an entire meal. I have a whole breakfast chapter. I even made low calorie brownies in the instant pot. That seemed very wrong, if I’m being completely honest. I complained about it to everyone I knew, because I love to bake, Allan. So I complained. I was like a child. I was pouting. I was not okay with having to bake in the instant pot. I’m like, “That’s a recipe for the book I’m not looking forward to.” I made it. I will never make brownies in the oven ever again. They were the most moist and delicious brownies. And that’s not easy to do when you are eliminating a lot of the fat in the dish. And so, you can really make just about anything in the instant pot. And my cookbook, Lose Weight with Your Instant Pot, it’ll give you tons of ideas. I actually make ginger ale in there as well. Low calorie ginger ale – I think it’s something like 17 calories per glass. You’re basically burning that off as you’re drinking it, it’s so low calorie. I really recommend anybody who has the means to purchase an instant pot or borrow one from somebody, just to make sure you love it first. And check out my book, Lose Weight with Your Instant Pot. It’s easy, it’s delicious. They’re going to be all natural. And I tried to make something for everybody in here, so I think everybody will really, really love it.
Allan (32:40): There’s a lot of variety in there for sure. Audrey, one 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?
Audrey Johns (32:53): I have to say eating all natural by far. You’re going to feel better, you’re going to be fit, you’re going to feel happy, just because you will always be satiated and you’ll look your best as well. Your skin just glows and you always end up looking younger when you eat healthier. Same with water. I recommend to drink as much water as you can every single day. I drink on average about a gallon of water a day. I know that sounds like a lot. The closer you can get to that, the better. You’ll be full, your metabolism will be roaring. Your body is mostly water; you’ve got to give back to your body. And finally, no negative self-talk. I know I’m speaking to a man here and I’m sure that you men do have quite a lot of negative self-talk, but for women…
Allan (33:39): Maybe not as much as women, but yes, we do it too.
Audrey Johns (33:43): As women, and as men, we hold ourselves to this really high standard of how we look and we talk negatively about ourselves. Being healthy and taking good care of your body is hard enough. You don’t need to be putting yourself down. With that said, I was recently on the cover of a magazine. I didn’t recognize myself. I was so heavily altered on the magazine. So don’t believe what you see out there. Don’t hold yourself to really high standards of heavily Photoshopped pictures. Just be proud of yourself. Be proud of yourself that you’re trying, be proud of yourself that you’re strong. Try to find things that you love about not just your body. It is great to have a good self-image of your body, but about your mind – how kind are you, what a great parent or grandparent you are, how much you care about the people around you – so much more important than what you look like. I think that’s so important when it comes to being happy and healthy, is that you only use positive self-talk on yourself.
Allan (34:47): Excellent. Thank you for sharing those. The book is Lose Weight with Your Instant Pot. Audrey, if someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about the book, where would you like for me to send them?
Audrey Johns (35:00): My Facebook page is a great place to start. It’s Lose Weight By Eating With Audrey Johns. You can also check my blog out at LoseWeightByEating.com, and that will also showcase my other two books, Lose Weight by Eating and Lose Weight by Eating: Detox Week. Those will be non-instant pot cookbooks. Also check out Amazon. The reviews are absolutely amazing for Lose Weight with Your Instant Pot. Visit Barnes & Noble and flip through the pages if you like. If you’re in the Boise area, I regularly go and sign all of the copies, so you may see me there with my sharpie marker. There are lots of places to check me out. Also, HarperCollins.com as well.
Allan (35:40): Okay. This is episode 366, so you can go 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/366 and I’ll be sure to have all the links there in the show notes. Audrey, thank you again so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Audrey Johns (35:56): Thank you, Allan. I always love coming on the show and I can’t wait to come back at the next book.
Allan (36:02): Outstanding. Yes.
So, do go check that out – having an instapot as a quick and efficient way for you to eat good, healthy food. And Audrey Johns makes it really, really easy with some great recipes in a beautiful book. You should check it out.
There’s still time – one week, approximately – for you to get your signed copy of The Wellness Roadmap. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Hardbound if you want the hardbound edition, or go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Paperback if you’d prefer the paperback edition. I’m only going to be able to do this for about another week, because I am headed down to Panama in February and I won’t be able to ship books from there. So go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Hardbound or 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Paperback. Thank you.
Also, there’s time right now for you to go out there and get your lab results from YourLabwork. I’ve gotten a partnership agreement with them that allows you to get your discounted lab work – whatever labs you want to get done – and it allows you to track your progress. I had a full lab workup done before the end of the year, which I’m going to use to compare the things that I’m doing for my health and wellness and see what that’s going to do with what the results are. I’m not going to be looking at the scale because the scale doesn’t tell me the right numbers, but my lab work does.
So, you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Lab. They offer really affordable tests. You can have the tests done that you want. A lot of times doctors try to talk you out of getting tests. They want to get the tests that they know and they can look up and answer to. Here you’re able to get the whole picture. Like I said, I got the full workup, but you can pick and choose the lab work that you want to measure yourself on. So be it your hormones, your cholesterol – anything that you’re interested in knowing about as far as your wellness, you can get those numbers. Go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Lab to get your lab results today. Thank you.
Did you have a New Year’s resolution to go on a particular diet? How’s that working out for you? Our guest today is a holistic weight loss coach and one of the first international food addiction counselors. She’s going to give you some tactics and strategies to help you along with your diet. Her name is Erin Boardman Wathen, and the book we’re going to talk about is Why Can’t I Stick To My Diet?
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Allan (1:10): Erin, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Erin Boardman Wathen (1:14): Thank you so much for having me.
Allan (1:16): Your book, Why Can’t I Stick To My Diet?, I think is extremely timely, because we’re in the new year here and this is the time when people start their new diets, and it’s also the time when they quit their new diets. The word “diet” to me actually means what you’re eating. If you look in the dictionary, that’s what you’re eating. But we’ve kind of morphed the word over the years to mean a temporary state of eating, a restriction of doing something different than what we were doing before, almost with the intent that we’re going to go back to that later.
Erin Boardman Wathen (1:56): Yes.
Allan (1:57): But your book’s not about that.
Erin Boardman Wathen (1:59): No. My book is about how the fact that we go on diets is why we can’t stick to them, because it’s the way that you’re going to change your life, change your body composition, change all of those things, so you have a long-term approach. The reason why so many of us could not stick to our diet was because we went on a diet – the term that has become relevant, not the actual Webster’s Dictionary term, because we go on it like a Ferris wheel for example, where we always intend to get off of it at the wedding, the reunion, see the magic number, without any real commitment to the rest of our lives. And what I’ve noticed is a very important key to all of this is how and why we gain the weight in the first place. And it’s very often I hear this time of year, and I’ll hear it more in January: “I just enjoy the holidays.” There’s way more to it than enjoying the holidays. You also are eating cookies 24/7. So, we also need to really do a deep dive into why you gain the weight, how you gain the weight, and not just chalk it up to “That’s how life is.”
Allan (3:21): There was a point in the book where you said, “Looking back on it, I was not suffering from a lack of morals, nor was my life insufficient in some major way.” That sort of hit me in the chest, that we get into these episodes where we’re not living the way we want to live, and we then become the judge and jury of ourselves, and can be pretty harsh. Someone read the introduction to my book and they were like, “Allan, you’re way too harsh on yourself.” And I’m like, “No, I don’t think I was harsh enough.” But can you tell us a little bit about your backstory, because it was kind of fascinating to me? You shared so much, which was amazing, because it really opened my eyes to how we look to ourselves, how we’re perceived by others and how that all makes us into this stew of not living a whole life.
Erin Boardman Wathen (4:25): Yeah, no problem. I was definitely one of those kids whose mother had the right intention of never ever letting us have sugar, but when I had it, I was so enamored with it, I couldn’t eat it quickly enough and I had to get more, and had a very emotional and chemical reaction, looking back on it, from an early age. I distinctly remember my brother and I – he was years younger – Easter morning, I ate all my candy before we got to church, because there it was. I got older, I started dieting, but the sugar was very prevalent, especially in the ‘90s. For those of you who are younger or older than me – fat–free was what we were told was the way everything needed to be. Dean Ornish wrote a great book in the ‘80s talking about a certain type of diet for heart patients that somehow got distorted into everyone eating buckets of SnackWell’s. We used to when I was in college. So, the combination of my own predisposition to loving sugar, and everything having so much sugar at that time, because we took all the fat out. So, my weight definitely fluctuated; not enough that anyone ever really talked to me in a medical sense, or there was ever an intervention or anything like that. I was always under the radar because I, quote unquote, “looked normal”. I was a normal size and I always exercised, so my weight wasn’t too out of the normal range. But through all those years, I can look at every picture from my life and tell you how much I weighed, because I was always obsessed with how much I ate, “Can I be skinny by Friday? What’s going to fit?” It was this constant mental chatter going on constantly, constantly. I call it the white noise machine; it was always on, drowning out other things.
I didn’t understand intellectually as a person that it wasn’t because I was a bad person, it wasn’t because I was weak. It was because I was flat out addicted to sugar. I would catch myself having a disagreement with a friend or a family member and eating ice cream on the phone while I was arguing with them, in between bites. I would be getting in my points while eating fish food and standing in front of the refrigerator. Those episodes really made me realize there was way more to it than just “Erin likes sugar”. Everyone always thought it was so cute how much I liked sugar, like, “It’s so funny that you like sugar so much because you’re skinny.” And I’m like, “Well, I’m not skinny, but okay, fine.” But it was never a thing where anyone ever spoke to me about it seriously; none of my doctors, even though I was still getting acne and cavities in my 30s. No one ever asked me what I was eating, which is crazy to me. So, it definitely reached a point where on all those levels of acceptance I had to understand the reason I wasn’t the weight I wanted to be or the reason I was always kind of short with my husband, even though he would say I still am sometimes, is because I was always in some stage of sugar, either my blood sugar’s spiking, my blood sugar’s rising. I was constantly on this rollercoaster of sugar and Diet Coke. And the problem with diet soda, which a lot of us don’t understand is, the reason why we like it is because it tastes sweet, but it really messes with our brains and we end up needing, wanting, craving sugar even more. So it was a lot of sugar, artificial sweetener and a range of other symptoms.
Allan (8:31): I used to really have a bad addiction to Diet Coke. It wasn’t that I went around hiding it from people, because that just seemed to be normal. You’re walking around with a 44-oz Diet Coke. Why not? There are no calories. It’s not the lifestyle we really want to live, but it doesn’t register with us that we’re hurting ourselves. Whereas with candy, sugar and those types of things – and I think your favorite was the gummy bears – was that you had these in the console of your car, you had them stashed in places around the house. And even though you knew you wanted to get away from them, your body wouldn’t let you. Can you talk a little bit about sugar addiction and your experiences with it?
Erin Boardman Wathen (9:18): The thing about sugar addiction is, when you look back upon your life, you probably have pictures in your house, or your mother does, of you and your first birthday cake. We’re all celebrating, “Yay! Allan’s one! He’s going to get sugar. We’re going to light a candle.” So most of us have our first taste of sugar when we’re really, really young, way before we can even really understand it. And it’s so normalized. A lot of the food we eat currently for the average American person, so the standard American diet, is chock full of sugar we’re aware of. Most people will acknowledge there’s sugar in ice cream, for example. But sugar we’re not aware of, in things like hamburger buns or even juice. There’s orange juice or whatever fruit, and they add sugar into it to make it even sweeter. So, if you’re someone who is addicted to sugar, you could cut out the ice cream and the gummy bears, but unless you’re really aware of everything you’re eating, those hot dog buns are going to trigger your body to want more sugar. There are a lot of chemicals involved and dopamine receptors and a lot of science, but just to summarize it, which I think is easiest – the more sugar we eat, the more sugar we want, because like any drug, our body gets a tolerance going. For example, if you used to be able to only, quote unquote, “need” a medium Frappuccino, over time, the next one looks pretty good. That’s because your body’s craving more sugar. We might not even be aware of what’s going on, but that’s the behind the scenes science of why people end up with these gigantic drinks or smoothies or whatever, because “That sounds okay, but the bigger one sounds a little bit better.” That’s the sugar talking; that’s not your body talking.
Allan (11:30): All that time, I thought it was the caffeine talking, which it probably was, because that was my primary source of caffeine. I decided to give up the Diet Cokes, but I still relapse every once in a while, but not very often. I decided I needed the caffeine, so I shifted over to black coffee. And it took me a little while. I actually had to use fruit as a bridge to get me over to drinking black coffee, but I was able to eventually get out from under what I would call a Diet Coke addiction.
Erin Boardman Wathen (12:07): I distinctly remember the same thing. I kind of prioritize which Diet Cokes meant the most to me, body-wise, craving, that sort of a concept. But that 4:00 p.m. one, I used to have when my kids would come home from school and everybody is in a bad mood. I’m making dinner or going to soccer. There’ll be times now where all of a sudden, out of the blue, I need a Diet Coke. I’ll look at my watch and it’s 4:00 or 5:00. It’s been years, but I’ll still have that, “Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! A Diet Coke would help!” And the thing is, if you are someone who’s got a problem with Diet Coke, it’s really easy to get one. You could just send your kid into the grocery store and they could bring you one out. We have a problem with these sorts of foods and drinks in our current environment, with the way the grocery stores are set up, and even things like going to get paper and there’s a row of candy before you check out at Staples. You really have to make a conscious effort to be aware of where all this stuff lies, because it isn’t like alcohol that’s in bars. Sugar is in everything, it’s everywhere. People love to give it to you as gifts, as “Thank You’s”, samples at Costco. But being aware of everything it’s in, or saying “No, thank you” until you know otherwise is something I’ve had to learn over time. Sugar addiction is one of those things where it’s so easy to trigger it again, even if you’ve been off of it for weeks and months, because your body is still kind of longing for it a little bit. And then there’s also the psychological component of, “A 4:00 o’clock Diet Coke would really help my kids be less irritating. It would fix it. My kids would whine less if I had a Diet Coke, the homework would be easier.” So, the physical and all the other aspects of when we get in these habits. And then our body is also interested in having it. It becomes a lot more of a process than just not having the ice cream. It also becomes reading every label and being very aware of what’s in your salad dressing, because even if we have the greatest intentions, if we’re always triggering ourselves for sugar without even meaning to, with a Diet Coke for example – it’s really hard to get away from it.
Allan (14:47): I like how in the book you’ve given us basically four guidelines, because the way I look at it is, one, I believe humans are opportunistic eaters. When we were foraging and hunting, that was perfect. We came upon a field of blueberries in the spring – it’s time to fatten up for the fall and winter, so go ahead, gorge yourself on the blueberries until they’re gone. And then they’re gone. But today you walk into a grocery store and 95% of it is sugar-laden crap.
Erin Boardman Wathen (15:17): Totally.
Allan (15:18): Your four guidelines give what I feel is a really good, solid base model for someone to go through their daily eating and figure out how to make it work for them. Do you mind going through your four guidelines?
Erin Boardman Wathen (15:31): Yeah, no problem. A food plan is something you stay on, it’s how you live your life. It’s from here till whenever. It’s not the “skinny by Friday” concept, or the reunion. It’s just how you’re living. I really thought a lot about all my nutrition knowledge, all my behavioral knowledge, all those things, and how to summarize it as quickly and as succinctly as possible. And I got to the four fundamentals because I think anything less than five on your hand is easy to remember, but also because if you stick to these things you will pretty much be okay. Even though they’re very simple – the amount of words or the amount of numbers – it doesn’t mean that it isn’t broad in its scope. So, first of all, stick to the perimeter of the grocery store. If you think about your average American grocery store, there’s fruit and vegetables on one wall, meat is always on the back, by the freezers, and the other wall is usually dairy. And you have oils and stuff in there somewhere. But we don’t really need anything in the middle. That’s where the Wheat Thins live, and the Granola, and all of the things that trip us up, that just decrease our quality of life. So, the first one is always stick to the perimeter or the grocery store, not just when you’re in the grocery store, but also in life. So if you’re going out to dinner and they put the bread down, you don’t really need the bread. You don’t need all of those refined carbohydrates.
Allan (17:19): I get really weird looks when I go to a conference and I pass the bread and I don’t take one. And then I don’t eat my dessert, and they’re just looking at me like…
Erin Boardman Wathen (17:30): Like, “What’s wrong with that guy?” Also, when I was doing my food plan, it was really important to me to have it not be ridiculous for normal people. By “normal people”, I mean average budgets in average parts of the world, not people that are going to go to five different grocery stores to get all the ingredients and spend hours in the kitchen and having a ton of extra cash. I’m talking normal food like chicken, broccoli, olive oil, things you can get in a regular grocery store. So, stick to the perimeters is always the first thing. The second is, three meals a day. Now if you’re an intermittent faster, you can say your coffee is one of them. But we don’t need to snack. We’re just in this habit of three meals a day and two snacks, and you always have dessert, like you were saying, or the bread. If we’re eating the right amount of food and the right portions, we can go very easily from lunch till dinner. We’re just used to having a snack, because everyone was always telling us we had to have snacks all the time. And look, there are so many snack foods available. So, we don’t need to be eating as often. And almost always the snacks we go to are some sort of chips or a bar or something that’s not really nutritious. It’s just empty calories, empty bag, empty everything.
Allan (19:12): The real thing here is, once people get off the sugar, they’ll start to recognize that the reason they were hungry at 10:00 and then again at 3:00 was the low blood sugar. They had a high blood sugar before, after they ate breakfast, because it’s orange juice, a bagel and a cup of coffee with three teaspoons of sugar in it. Their blood sugar spikes, and then by 10:00 their blood sugar’s plummeting and their body’s screaming at them, “Give me more.” So once you get to that whole food, like you said, walking around the perimeter of the store, that’s actually going to make this three meals per day a whole lot easier.
Erin Boardman Wathen (19:49): Absolutely. The reason why people are ravenous at 4:00, a lot of it is because they didn’t eat enough fat at lunch. It all kind of goes together – we’re not eating enough in one meal, so then we have a snack in between. It’s this whole domino effect with one bad choice leads to another bad choice, leads to you’re eating from the time you get home from work until you’re asleep. You had the best intentions in the world at 6:00 that morning and you’re going to bed at 10:00 and you’re like, “What did I just do?” Because you’re eating sugar all day long. And it’s really easy to keep eating it, because it’s in everything. I’ve had clients who had two or three barbecue potato chips and are craving sugar for a week, and they’re like, “I don’t know what I did to myself.” I’m like, “Tell me everything you ate.” It’ll come down to a couple of barbecue chips, because there’s sugar in there, it triggered them. They, for whatever reason, weren’t cognizant of it. Next thing you know, they’re stealing their kids’ Halloween candy. It’s a slippery slope sometimes.
Allan (21:00): It’s the parent tax.
Erin Boardman Wathen (21:04): Yeah, Dad tax, right? So, you have three meals a day, the perimeter of the grocery store. I also talk a lot about meal planning, and not just “On Sunday I make batches of chicken” sort of thing, which is great if you do that, but also not making any food decisions on the fly. You should pretty much know what you’re eating every day, because it follows your meal plan. But also if you know you’re going out somewhere, look at the menu ahead of time if it’s someplace new. You shouldn’t be looking for excitement in your food. Your food shouldn’t be entertainment, it shouldn’t be your fun, it shouldn’t be your friend. It really is all you need to get from A to B in your lives, but we’ve made it into something else. So, meal planning is making sure you have all the right stuff in your house, but it’s also knowing the night before what you’re going to eat tomorrow. Not just what you feel like it going to the grocery store when you’re starving. Next thing you know, you have five cups of ice cream because it seemed like a really good idea. So, planning ahead and having that awareness, not when you’re in the moment of, “I’m not going to have dessert at that conference, because it never serves me. I feel really tired afterwards and I can’t do my work back in my hotel room or at the meet and greet or whatever.” When you chose not to have the bread and the desert, you probably made that decision a long time before you were in that situation.
Allan (22:40): I know when I walk into a conference, if it’s a buffet, there are tables I can select to go to or not go to. But if they’re bringing the food out, I know 99% of the time they’ll come out with a bread bowl, then they’ll bring out your salad, then your dish. And your dessert’s sitting right there in front of you the whole time. I don’t even look at the desert as a food item. I look at it as decoration on the table.
Erin Boardman Wathen (23:04): It’s entertainment, right?
Allan (23:05): It is. And I know everybody else is trying to chow through their food so that they can hit that cake. I’ll easily pass the bread and the butter. It took me really a long, long time to train myself to do that, and it kind of touches on one of the things you talked about in your four guidelines. I make sure, in a normal sense, that I’m getting enough fat. I’m not eating low fat. I’m eating high fat, low carb. I’m eating whole foods and my body is pretty much nutrient-dense because I’m making sure to get good, high quality food. I’m planning for that. I’ll go on to Thrive Market later today and order some organic meat shipped to my house, because that’s what I want to have. My local grocery stores are not really good at having enough variety of meat. So I’ll order my meat, they deliver it to my house in a few days, I’ll start thawing it out and that’s my food for next week. I like how you put all those together because I do think they give us a really good foundation moving forward. Now, we’re always going to run into the folks that say you can still have your cake, you can still have some bread; you just have to do it in moderation. It’s all calories in, calories out. This is another unique thing about sugar addiction – just like with all addictions, some of us can get off of an addiction really quickly and some of us cannot. Moderation might work for one out of 100 people, but tell me why moderation is not really the route that most of us should be taking.
Erin Boardman Wathen (24:48): First of all, moderation is like the unicorn. It’s rare that someone can just have a bite of cake, just a bite. Odds are they’re going to eat half of the piece, all of the piece, many more pieces. We need to look at food not just as beautiful and nutritious; it’s also a chemical reaction that happens. When we chew it, we start digestion. All these things happen internally when you just think you’re eating lunch. So, when we invite those chemicals into our body – and cake is a good example because you have sugar and flour, so you’ve got double dose – our body is going to think, “This is a really great idea.” Our pleasure sensors, dopamine, is very excited by this introduction. So that one bite is sort of like, “What do you mean? That’s it?” Kind of leaving it high and dry. Where if you never go there in the first place, you might see the cake, acknowledge the cake, be aware of the cake at the conference. But having just one bite and not going into a full-fledged sugar thing later, or bread, depending on who you are, is very, very unlikely, just based on the chemicals. Now, some people don’t care about that kind of thing. Some people don’t care about sweets, but they really can go for bread, like pizza, donuts, whatever. And it’s the bread. The way that we’ve gotten flour and sugar too nowadays – it’s so ground, it’s so refined, it’s so processed. It’s pretty close to our brain, because they’re both quick acting carbohydrates. What a lot of people don’t understand is that everything we eat, at the end of the day, has to fit under three macronutrients – carbs, fat, or protein. Sugar and grains are both carbs, and they’re quick acting carbs, compared to broccoli, which is slower. Not as exciting as cake. It’s also a carbohydrate, but it’s not one of the ones that will jack up your blood sugar and create this whole craving thing and have you start drooling. While a bite of cake, most of the time for most people, they’ll have a very difficult chemical and I guess psychological reaction to only having a little bit of it. If you notice all those mini muffins get eaten just as quickly as the big muffins, if not sooner, because they seem so innocent and because they’re little and cute.
And I remember moderation. Moderation was very big in the ‘90s; it still is very big with a lot of commercial diet plans. Even the whole “cheat day” concept is a take off of moderation. But to have all of those things reintroduced to your body and say it’s only going to be at that one meal is very difficult. Also, when we’ve been using food as entertainment, as our friend, as whatever emotional need we had at the time, you’re also bringing that up and up again with those foods. Chocolate cake could have also been what your grandmother used to make when you went over there on holidays or whatever. So there’s a lot of stuff around the chocolate cake that isn’t just the chemicals; it’s also going to be how you remember it. And what’s really interesting too is there’s this thing that happens when we get off of sugar and then we have it again. You’re probably used to the concept of a relapse with an alcoholic or a drug addict. But this thing is called “euphoric recall”. So, if we’re off of sugar and then we decide to have the bite of chocolate cake, because moderation is this thing we all believe in – it will actually taste better, because our body will want us to indulge more. That’s why when people relapse on any of these substances, it’s so much harder for them to get off of it than it was the first time, because your body is working against you. So, my take is, just stay away from it completely because moderation, like I said, is like the unicorn. It doesn’t really exist.
Allan (29:33): That takes me back to my concept of opportunistic eaters. They didn’t come up on a field of chocolate cake and start binging on it. There was some true nutrition in the berries, the fruits or whatever they found in that valley. Yes, for a period of time they went nuts because, like you said, it tastes wonderful because they’ve been seven, eight months without having any of it. And now here it is in abundant supply. Go ahead and eat it because at that point it was very, very healthy. I can tell you there was probably no moderation whatsoever if they were traveling around forging and found a big field of fruit. They would go nuts, but they needed to. That was a survival mechanism. And today we don’t really need that. Foods that are around us are not as nutritious as necessary, so moderation is going to be something that is not going to work for the vast majority of us. It’ll be, like you said, the unicorn that went out there and did it and said they can still have their cheat day and they’re fine. But for a lot of people, once they have that cheat, that little slip, then they start this rationalization of, “Well, I did have the cake, so I’ve kind of blown today. I guess I’ll go ahead and order a regular Coke and I’ll go ahead and get some popcorn at the movies.” They wake up the next morning and they’re like, “I really want to stop by Starbucks and get a Frappuccino.” And so the slip, while it was a single event, it now becomes a cascading mess. Can you talk to us a little bit about slips and how we can deal with those?
Erin Boardman Wathen (31:15): The thing about a slip is – let’s use the chocolate cake thing because it’s nice and easy. It seems like it’s no big deal, but we need to be very aware, like you said, the foragers. We’re not that far away in our bodies from that mindset. We have technology, and isn’t it great we can get everyone on our smartphone? Our bodies are still thinking “feast or famine” and “Is this fight or flight?” when you’re in a car accident. All these evolutionary responses kick in because we still have a lot of them lurking around. With a slip, when we reintroduce the sugar, our body is really, really happy about it, and then our brain decides, “We’re going to make it taste even better to her just to get her to eat more of it.” So here comes euphoric recall, yay! And then we start the internal nonsense of, “I’ve already blown it” or, “It’s okay to have dessert. It’s normal to gain weight in the holidays”, “Well, I’ve already gone there today, so let’s go there more.” The whole, “I have one flat tire; let’s make them all flat.” Next thing you know, we’ve talked ourselves into an entire crazy amount of food that we didn’t really think about eating. We just find ourselves eating it, because that cheat slip or that moderation slip, whatever you’re going to call that bite of chocolate cake, can easily morph into a cheat meal, a cheat day, a cheat weekend, a cheat week, just cheating. If we have that first slip, which is known to happen, it’s how we handle it. If we have the whole, “We’re going to flatten the other three tires because one tire’s flat” in our brains – that is not your best interest talking to you. That is the primal need for having stuff, and the hunting and gathering, all that other sort of analogies. That is not your best interest. Your best interest is to go brush your teeth, get some water, get away from the cake, and be very aware the next couple of days are not going to be very pleasant because your body is going to be jouncing for sugar. And that’s okay. That doesn’t mean you have to follow through though. But if you make that chocolate cake that you’re a bad person, there’s no point trying to eat right anyway, it’s normal… When you start talking yourself into how it was okay, then you’re definitely off in the wrong direction.
Allan (34:04): I’m going to steal that three car tires analogy, because I really do like that. I define “wellness” as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
Erin Boardman Wathen (34:23): I thought about this before you asked me, so I definitely have a bit of an answer planned. We didn’t get to it, but my last fundamental of eating is to always have fat, protein, a low glycemic carb and fiber every time we eat. That will do a lot of good things, but it will also help regulate our blood sugar. When our blood sugar is not like a rollercoaster, when it’s nice and slowly processing food, it’s a lot easier to stay in that mental space. So we’re thinking about how to stay well. We’re in a place where we make the right decisions, where we’re going for the water and not the Diet Coke. Having a good handle on your blood sugar is a really good place to start, as far as staying well. Everything starts with our thoughts, right? If we’re thinking that we’re going to beat the system with sugar because we’re going to be that one person that’s going to be able to only have a bite – that’s going against own best interests. So, having a really good handle on your blood sugar is a very good place to start. So that’s number one.
Number two is to really spend a lot of time and think about how you want to feel and how you want to look six months from now, a month from now. All those dates and times just seem to happen to us, but actually, we have a lot of time before. For example, January 2nd is a notorious big dieting day, because the holidays are over and all these other things. Everyone’s pants are kind of tight. What if back in early December you sat down and thought about, “How do I want to feel on January 2nd? Do I want to feel like a busted can of buscuits, like I have all the other years before, or do I want to feel like I’m starting off 2019 with my best foot forward?” Think about both scenarios, because both scenarios are available to you, but one is going to put you in the right direction for a higher level of wellbeing, and the other one is going to get you where you’ve always gotten, which is probably breaking your diet by February 8th, which I think is the usual date most people fall off the wagon with their year-end resolutions. So really having a lot of mindset work, visualization and being realistic with what result you want and how you’re going to need to get there. You can’t feel your best on January 2nd if you’re eating nothing but cookies and drinking chocolate martinis the month beforehand. That’s not how it works. So, visualizing and thinking about what your future self really wants and needs is not for you to completely go off the wagon and go crazy over the holidays, and then January 2nd decide you’re going to starve yourself and do green juice, which is putting yourself in another extreme tailspin. So, that’s the second one.
My last one would be to be really cognizant of portions, because often times we have no idea what a serving is. We just think it’s till the bowl’s full, or whatever they serve us. If when we’re home, we weigh and measure all of the things we’re eating, we have an idea of what exactly six ounces of beef looks like. So when we’re in a restaurant and we see this huge piece of meat, we know it’s not one serving, even though they gave it to us on a plate. There’s actually enough meat for three meals there. So just being aware of that, like you said, opportunistic eaters, that if someone gives us a plate with a giant steak, a lot of people will try to eat it all, because it’s expensive or it’s special or it’s your birthday, when actually you’re eating three times the amount of meat you would be eating if you made it at home. So being very aware of portions and how crazy our portions are right now. A really good and cheap way to get a hold of this is regular old measuring cups when you’re at your house, and get a food scale, because when we’re out in the world and we’re presented with these gigantic portions, we understand that there’s no reason for us to finish it. But there’s this tendency to do it just the same.
Allan (39:08): I agree. Those were wonderful. Thank you for that. If someone wanted to get in touch with you, learn more about the book, Why Can’t I Stick To My Diet?, where would you like me to send them?
Erin Boardman Wathen (39:18): The book is going to be in bookstores on December 18th, but before then you can pre-order it on Amazon or BarnesAndNoble.com. And they can get in touch with me on my website. It’s pretty easy – it’s ErinWathenWellness.com. All my information is right there. My Instagram – same handle, Facebook – same handle. It’s pretty streamlined.
Allan (39:39): Good deal. This is episode 364, so you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/364, and I’ll be sure to have all the links there. Erin, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Erin Boardman Wathen (39:52): Thank you for having me.
I hope you enjoyed that conversation as much as I did. You know I’m not a big fan of diets and weight loss procedures, things that we’re doing to try to lose weight. I think there are other health markers that are much more important, like your lab results. Now, if you haven’t had labs done in a while and maybe you just don’t want to go to your doctor or your doctor doesn’t really order you the kind of labs that you’re interested in knowing about, you can go to YourLabwork.com. It’s a company that will actually do the labs you want them to do. You tell them what you want, they get a doctor involved, the doctor does the things that he’s supposed to do. You show up at a Quest Center and they take your lab works. I have an agreement with them. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Lab – very good prices on their lab work. And they give me an education piece so I can do a little bit of deep diving into what the labs mean. I went through and had a full panel done, so really, really deep cholesterol, hormones, pretty much all of it, and got all the way down to the particle counts. Really, really detailed information; more information than my doctor would normally go for. I have that now as a benchmark for the year, so as I do things for my health and fitness over the course of this year, I now have a really good benchmark to measure my performance as we go. So, you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Lab and order any kind of lab work that you want
Also, I got my books in. If you would like a signed copy of The Wellness Roadmap, you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Hardbound if you want the hardbound edition, or go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Paperback if you would like the paperback edition. Again, that’s 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Hardbound or 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Paperback. I’m charging the same price you’d pay on Amazon. I’m eating the shipping. But I will send you a signed copy during the month of January, because remember, I’m moving to Panama in February so I can only do this through the month of January. And I’m going to do this until the books run out. So, go ahead and get on and order that: 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Hardbound or 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Paperback. Thank you.
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Often when we’re trying to lose weight, we end up getting into a stall or a plateau. Our guest today in his book, The Setpoint Diet, is going to tell you why that happens and what you can do to break the cycle. He is the New York Times bestselling author of The Calorie Myth and I’m pretty certain The Setpoint Diet is also going to make that bestseller list. With no further ado, here’s Jonathan Bailor.
Allan (1:14): Jonathan, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Jonathan Bailor (1:17): Thank you so much for having me.
Allan (1:18): When I was really getting deep into my self-education of what I needed to do for myself, I came across The Calorie Myth. It was an eye-opening book, to say the least, for someone who really had been brought up in the mantra of calories in / calories out, just eat less, exercise more. I’d get on the treadmill or I’d get on the elliptical and I worked my butt off, and then I’m starving all day. Then you eat more calories to get your calories back. I’m like, “I’m eating at a deficit and I’ve done this for a while and it’s not working.” I think a lot of people run into that fact of, they’re doing everything right, and their body just doesn’t want to get rid of the weight.
Jonathan Bailor (2:06): It can be extremely frustrating, Allan. It gets to the root of my whole team’s work, and really, we stand on the shoulders of giants, articulating research done by the top doctors at the Harvard Medical School, at Johns Hopkins, UCLA, the Cleveland Clinic, the Mayo Clinic over the past 60 years that’s been buried from the mainstream. And this definition of, you’re doing everything right – what we’ve found is, the definition of what is right is wrong. It’s analogous to when we look at obesity and diabetes as diseases, which they are, as classified by the American Medical Association, that if you were to go to a doctor with a broken arm and the doctor were to prescribe you cough syrup, and you took that cough syrup correctly. Chances are your arm wouldn’t get any better and you would feel very helpless. It’s a condition called “learned helplessness”, because you’re doing everything you’re told, but the treatment for the disease you’re suffering from or the medical condition you are suffering from is simply incorrect. And that’s what we found over the past now 15 years, that this prescription we’ve been written for both obesity, overweight, and diabetes is simply wrong. What we have been told is right is wrong, and that is evidenced by the catastrophic impact it’s had on our culture.
Allan (3:26): Yes. I do have to say this also – in your book, The Setpoint Diet, you really got deep into the science. Each point you had in there was supported, and I really, really liked that. It was so much support, you couldn’t put all the bibliography in the book. You have to link to another website if you really want to go down the rabbit hole. I did. I spent a lot of time in that rabbit hole, because it was really fascinating stuff. Our body has this setpoint, and I talk to my clients about it all the time as they plateau. They’re working hard, they’re doing some of the right things, or most of the right things, but their body’s going to somewhat hit this setpoint. You call it a setpoint; I call it the body’s happy weight. We might not be happy with it, but our body is. Can you talk a little bit in detail about the setpoint and why we have a setpoint?
Jonathan Bailor (4:17): Allan, the term “setpoint” – a lot of your listeners may say, “I’ve heard of that term before.” And there is a bit of an irony here. In 1983, there was a book published called The Setpoint Diet – literally the exact same title of my book. But you can’t copyright a title. And that was also the year I was born. So I don’t know if fate had the destiny in store for me. The concept of “setpoint” has been around for a while, but the thing that’s happened over the past 7 to 10 years, which has been so revolutionary is, it’s gone from the setpoint theory to, we’ve now proven this. When I say “we”, I mean the broader scientific community, not me personally. For instance, if you look at even Wikipedia and you look up diabetes – the medical condition diabetes is defined by the breakdown in the body’s ability… This is according to Wikipedia; I’m not saying that Wikipedia is like God’s truth, I’m just saying that even Wikipedia is acknowledging this. It says that diabetes is the breakdown of the body’s ability to homeostatically, a.k.a. automatically regulate blood sugar around a healthy range. You do things to raise your blood sugar, your body does things to lower it. You do things to lower your blood sugar, your body automatically does things to elevate it. There’s never been a question, ever, that there is a setpoint around your blood sugar. There’s also never been a question, ever, that there is a setpoint for blood pressure. The breakdown in that homeostatic regulation of blood pressure is called hypertension. The breakdown in the homeostatic regulation of blood sugar is called diabetes. And we’ve now proven, over the past 7 to 10 years, that the breakdown in the body weight setpoint, which is as irrefutable as the blood pressure and blood sugar setpoints, is known as the disease of obesity or overweight. And it’s no more debatable than that your body regulates body temperature, blood pressure, blood sugar. Once you understand that, it changes everything about how we approach weight gain and weight loss.
Allan (6:43): Right, because if we don’t reset our setpoint, basically we are not going to be able to, in the long term, keep that weight off.
Jonathan Bailor (6:53): That’s exactly right, and it would be just as absurd. Once someone gets the following point, it’s a little bit like seeing life in color for the first time. It will change the way you see everything. So, if you went to your doctor and you had diabetes, and your doctor said, “Eat less”, you would say, “Wait, what?” Eating less does not fix the problem with your pancreas, the problem with insulin secretion. The underlying root of the breakdown of the blood sugar setpoint can’t be solved by starvation. If you went to your doctor suffering from hypertension – again, the breakdown in the blood pressure setpoint – and your doctor said, “Eat less, you lazy glutton”, we would say, “Hey, wait a minute. There’s something else happening.” It’s the same thing with body weight.
Allan (7:55): Right. Now, in the book you mention three hidden factors that are basically setting this setpoint. So if I want to fix my setpoint, these are the three areas I need to think about, right?
Jonathan Bailor (8:09): Exactly. The term, again, “setpoint” has been around for quite a bit of time, but what has changed recently is a concrete definition and identification of what makes it up, how it breaks down and how we can fix it. So, what determines your body weight or body fat setpoint is the interaction of three key elements of your biology and physiology – your brain, your gut, and your hormones; and very specifically, when there is inflammation in your brain, when there is dysregulation in your gut microbiota, and when you have hormonal imbalances. Your first brain and your second brain – your gut – communicate via hormonal signals to automatically regulate appetite, to automatically burn calories. It’s not that calories don’t exist, and it’s not that calories in / calories out is like unicorns. It’s that your body is brilliantly set up to automatically regulate calories in and calories out so that you maintain this body weight setpoint. But when that system – the brain, the gut and the hormones – breaks down, that setpoint creeps up and obesity ensues.
Allan (9:30): When people say “calories in / calories out” or they want to keep that paradigm, they just want to keep sticking to that simple rule, I say there are periods of time when our ancestors had no food, and there were times when the food was abundant. I’m guessing that our bodies probably weren’t designed to allow them to get obese over the summer and then whittle away over the winter. There are some metabolic changes that are happening during those periods of time that are allowing them to continue to survive.
Jonathan Bailor (10:01): That is correct. The thing that is essential to understand is that at the most basic level, the only thing that we need to prove from a scientific perspective to say that the setpoint is an irrefutable fact is if you feed people more calories than they need, does their body automatically burn more calories? The answer is “Yes”. If you feed people fewer calories than they need, does their body automatically burn fewer calories? The answer is “Yes”. And you can even look at it from a different perspective. You could say if someone exercises very heavily earlier in the day, does their body work to conserve calories later in the day? The answer is “Yes”. We’ve all experienced that – you have a really tough workout; how do you feel for the rest of the day? Tired. That’s your body automatically working to balance calories, and as a consequence, your weight, as calories are a component of that; not the be-all-end-all – they are a component, automatically.
Allan (11:02): I’d say tired and very hungry.
Jonathan Bailor (11:04): Exactly.
Allan (11:06): Now, I want to deep dive a little bit into each of those three factors, because I think there’s a lot of value in understanding how each of those affects our setpoint. Can we start with the brain inflammation and work through the three and talk about how that really impacts the setpoint?
Jonathan Bailor (11:24): Inflammation in your brain, or very specifically areas around your lateral and ventromedial hypothalamus… We’ll take a step back. There are a couple of parts of your brain. The one that is relevant for our conversation here is called your hypothalamus, and your hypothalamus is the part of your brain that has to do with allowing mission-critical functions that must take place 24/7, 365, without conscious control to happen. For instance, if you had to consciously think about regulating breaths in and breaths out, you could not function as a human being. We could not function as a species if our conscious brain, our neocortex, had to worry about beating our heart, or blinking our eyes, or shivering when we got cold, or prompting the sensation of needing to use the restroom when we consume excess liquids. There’s a part of your brain that is 100% dedicated to taking care of those life-sustaining, constant, mission-critical functions. That’s called your hypothalamus. When inflammation exists in the hypothalamus, those signals of, you need to use the restroom, or you need to breathe, or you need to slow down or speed up, can become compromised. And we know this irrefutable fact that there are certain substances completely independent of calories – take MSG for example, that have a detrimental impact on the hypothalamus, causing inflammation in the hypothalamus. And there are foods, such as certain Omega-3 fatty acids which reverse inflammation in the hypothalamus. So if we’re having a conversation about weight and we are not discussing inflammation in the brain and we are not discussing the hypothalamus, we are essentially having at best incomplete and at worst counterproductive discussion about weight.
Allan (13:27): Okay. Now, foods and things that are going to help us with this brain inflammation – you mentioned Omega-3, so I’m assuming fish, fish oil is going to help us; processed foods are going to hurt us.
Jonathan Bailor (13:42): Yes. When it comes to brain, gut and hormones, the good news is, as fate would have it, not dying is relatively simple. If it was extremely complicated, we probably would not have survived and thrived as a species as well as we have. So the way that we need to eat to optimize the health of our brain and our gut and our hormones is the same, which is important because I don’t want you to have to memorize, “I have to eat these foods for my brain, and then I need to set aside this part of my plate for my hormones, and this part of my plate for my gut.” We can cover what to eat all at once if you’d like.
Allan (14:23): We’re going to get into the SANE modeling in a bit, so we’ll get into that then. Cool. So let’s step into the microbiota.
Jonathan Bailor (14:35): One of the most shocking things when I talk with people about this casually is understanding that about 90% of the cells that exist in what you call “you”, are not yours. They’re cells of microorganisms that live in or on you. That which we define as a human being is actually trillions of little beings put together. We’re learning more and more about that, the mainstream is talking more and more about that. But when you look specifically at body weight, the research is so clear that there are certain types of bacteria which are much more prevalent in the gut of individuals who struggle with overweight than there are in individuals who are naturally thin. We can even go so far as to say there are certain types of microbiota that crave – these little creatures crave different foods. So while you think you might have a craving for sugary and starchy foods, it is literally true that you don’t, but rather these microorganisms that are living in your gut do. If you want to enlist billions of little bacterial helpers to help maintain a healthy weight and to literally crave the SANE foods that facilitate that, you can. And you’re not an army of one; you’re an army of trillions working towards this lower setpoint, the SANE lifestyle, and really feeling great and craving the foods that help you to feel that way.
Allan (16:23): Cool. And then the final piece is the hormones.
Jonathan Bailor (16:27): Hormones – talked about ad nauseum, but still not given enough attention. We can’t talk too much about hormones, because when you go to a gym and when you look on the television screens and when you look at the ads, it’s not going to say things like, “Do this exercise because of its hormonal impact.” It’s going to say, “Do this exercise because you burn this many calories.” At the end of the day your body does what hormones tell it to do. Period. This is so important to understand. Let’s use a simple example that most people are familiar with – anabolic steroids. Why do anabolic steroids work? Anabolic steroids work because they are essentially a hormonal messenger that tells your body to build muscle, therefore your body builds muscle. We know testosterone communicates X, and your body does X. Estrogen communicates Y, and your body does Y. We know that. So if we are talking about eating and exercise, if we’re talking about weight loss without talking about the hormonal impact of what we’re eating, or the hormonal impact of how we’re moving – again, we’re just missing… I’m going to try to think of an analogy on my feet here, but if you went to the eye doctor and the eye doctor was like, “Let’s talk about how your feet are doing”, you’re like, “Doc, I can’t see, and we’re not even talking about my eyes, we’re talking about my feet. What?” If you are not having a conversation about hormones while you are discussing your weight and your overall health, it’s a little bit like going to the eye doctor and have a conversation about your feet, because your body does what your hormones tell it to do. So if you don’t know and if you haven’t been empowered with the information you need to control that conversation and to get your body saying what you want it to say, a.k.a. “Burn fat and help me feel energetic”, but rather you have hormones getting triggered that are saying, “Store fat and make me feel tired” – it doesn’t matter how little you eat or how much you exercise. That conversation will probably only go worse and make the problem worse.
Allan (18:39): I was going through the hormones section of the book and going through each of them, there were some that came up that we don’t talk about much at all. We talk about insulin, we talk about leptin and ghrelin, we talk about testosterone, cortisol. But after that there are some of these other ones, like CCK, adiponectin and glucagon. There’s a lot of them. In my mind, as I’m getting into it, I know what most of these do fairly well and I know how to balance and manage a few of them, but I think the cool part of all of this was that your SANE method actually addresses all of them.
Jonathan Bailor (19:23): I appreciate you saying that, Allan, because that is the key thing here. The thing that I really don’t like is when people are made to believe that their bodies are fundamentally broken or stupid, and unless they micromanage these mission-critical biological functions, they are doomed to a state of obesity and disease. I think that is a diabolical way of looking at the human body, that unless we intervene and micromanage, our bodies are destined to be fat, diseased, diabetic, cancerous wastelands, which when you think about it is really what a lot of the fitness and diet industry says: Unless you know what every single hormone is doing at every single point in time, and what your calorie count is, and exactly how many steps you’ve taken, etcetera, things are going to go off the rails and you’re going to be in bad shape, which cannot be true. Why? Before we had any of the problems we have today, nobody did those things and everyone was healthier. So, by definition, it cannot be required to micromanage every aspect of your input and output in order to achieve effortless health, as evidenced by the fact that radically more people enjoyed effortless health in the past than the present. I’m not talking about hunter gatherers; I’m talking about in the ‘50s or in the ‘60s, when no one went to a gym, no one was focused on calories, and everyone was just healthier. What’s beautiful is, we can read The Setpoint Diet. I would appreciate if people read The Setpoint Diet, I think they will live radically better if they read The Setpoint Diet. But even if you remember no names of any hormones, if you simply remember to eat SANE foods in such high quantities that you’re too full for inSANE foods – all the brain stuff, all the hormone stuff, all the gut stuff will take care of itself and you will live radically better.
Allan (21:18): That’s one of the messages that came out of the book that I was really happy to see. Up until maybe about a year or two ago, diabetes was a progressive disease – you were going to die. You were going to lose feet, you were going to lose your kidneys, everything. And now we’re saying, no, if you make lifestyle changes, you can reverse your diabetes. The other thing was obesity – you’ve got some genetic problems. We can work out and we can cut some of the weight, but you’re always going to be big boned and overweight. And now we’re finding, no, if you make substantive lifestyle changes, we can reverse obesity. You talked about the SANE foods, and I definitely want to get into that. What are the SANE foods so we can stay away from the inSANE foods?
Jonathan Bailor (22:08): We came up with the… Well, that’s actually a bad way of describing it. It was more as if the universe presented this acronym, SANE, to me while I was doing this 15-year research journey. I stumbled upon it. I was doing all this research and it seemed like there are these things that are not commonly discussed and they’re not in any way, shape or form controversial in the scientific community. These are things like how much foods fill you up and how long they keep you full. Studies have been done for decades on, “Let’s feed people 1,200 calories of this type of diet and feed people 1,200 calories of this type of diet, and see which keeps people fuller longer.” That existed and that’s called satiety. And then the research around the different impact on hormones that foods have – this is sometimes discussed in popular literature as glycemic index or glycemic load, but it’s much broader than just insulin or just some of these sexy hormones that are discussed. So, the way I defined that is I just said “aggression”, because it looked like it was very clear in the research that there are some foods and some lifestyle decisions in general that caused these wild, aggressive swings in your hormones, and you can imagine that’s not great. And then the nutrient density – this is something that’s extremely important and is talked about a lot, but unfortunately is not talked about in the most optimum way, which is the ratio of essential nutrients – vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids – to things that are nonessential and / or toxic, like sugar. So, someone looks at the cereal aisle, they see Honey Nut Cheerios and it says it’s healthy because it’s enriched with vitamins and minerals. But if you put a vitamin pill in a can of Pepsi, I don’t think anyone would say that that can of Pepsi has now become healthy. So it’s essential that we look at the ratios.
Allan (23:58): Please don’t tell PepsiCo about that vitamin, because they will do it.
Jonathan Bailor (24:05): Yeah, they might do it. So, we’ve got to take a different look at nutrition. And then there are also different macronutrients that are processed differently by the body, more or less efficiently stored as fat. As the universe would have it, we have satiety, aggression, nutrition and efficiency, and that happens to spell out the acronym SANE. And what’s really cool is that all four of those factors can be objectively measured. You don’t have to take anyone’s word for it. It’s not my opinion, it’s not any researcher’s opinion. There’s a scientific method to measure them. So we can look at any food and say, “How satisfying, aggressive, nutritious and efficient is it?” And then we can say, “These are SANE foods, these are inSANE foods.” To the extent that you choose to eat SANE foods, you will live extremely well, and to the extent that you choose to eat inSANE foods, you will not live as well. And we can empower people with that information.
Allan (24:54): Now, you laid out several of the SANE foods and several of the inSANE foods. I don’t want to go through an exhaustive list, but there was one that came up and your approach to it was very different than anyone else. You’re not a big fan of olive oil.
Jonathan Bailor (25:17): I can’t give away the farm on this show by definition, because it’s a long book, but I’ll give away some of the farm here, which is SANE foods fall into four categories: non-starchy vegetables, nutrient-dense protein, whole food fats, and low fructose fruits, in that order. And one of the biggest, coolest new things about the new book is we actually subdivide those into optimal groups. So these are the optimal non-starchy veggies, optimal nutrient-dense proteins. These are the things that are most therapeutic to lower your setpoint. The common characteristic amongst SANE foods and amongst all those food groups is the presence of three things: water, fiber and protein, which is beautiful; this all becomes very simple. Basically foods that are high in water, fiber and protein are saner than foods that are lower in water, fiber and protein. If you look at vegetables, non-starchy vegetables are very high in water, fiber, protein. That’s why if you put spinach in a blender, it blends and becomes a liquid, whereas if you put crackers in a blender and blend them, it becomes a powder. Crackers, don’t have liquid in them; spinach is primarily all liquid, it just doesn’t look that way. It’s also shockingly high in protein. We all know that vegetables have a lot of fiber. Anyway, if we look at fat, we have been told a lot about, first of all, fat doesn’t make you fat, which is 100% true. And then we’ve also heard a lot about olive oil, like slather your food in olive oil and it’s fantastic to use olive oil. Without question, olives contain more water, fiber and protein than olive oil. The point that I make in the book, and the point that I would encourage people to think about, and the point that people in the same community have found to be so transformational for them in breaking through plateaus and in living well is, if coconut oil is good for you, which it is, relative to other oils, if olive oil is good for you, which it is, relative to other oils, you know what’s even better for you? Coconut. You know what’s even better for you? Olives. We call these “whole food fats” because they have more nutrients. They have more water, they have more fiber, they have more protein. I am not anti-olive oil; I’m pro complete scientific information. So, if one were to say that olive oil is a healthy oil and olive oil is a SANE oil, I would 100% agree with that statement. Now if someone said, “I think you should get 600 calories per day from olive oil, because fat is good for you”, I would say if you got 600 calories per day from whole food fats, because fat is good for you, you would live radically better than if those 600 calories came from a low water, low fiber, and low protein fat source such as olive oil.
Allan (28:07): Absolutely. Now, you did a spin on the MyPlate, and you call it the SANE plate. You’ve already laid out the elements of what we should be looking for, as far as fiber, water and protein, but you’ve actually laid this out now on a plate, so we know how much of the non-starchy vegetables, how much of the protein and how much of the low fructose fruit we should have on the plate. Can you talk about what that percentage is and what that looks like?
Jonathan Bailor (28:41): Really important to think in terms of a plate, because I don’t know anybody, myself included, who goes to a restaurant or to a dinner table or to the grocery store and says, “Where can I find the fiber?” or, “What is the protein that we’re going to eat right now?” or, “I want some water on my plate.” It doesn’t make any sense, right? Those are scientific terms that don’t really help us at the dinner table. So when we sit down at the dinner table or at a restaurant, what should our plate look like? It’s extremely simple. Half your plate should be non-starchy vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables are vegetables that you could, but you don’t have to, eat raw. This is a really important distinction, because a lot of people have been told that things like corn and potatoes are vegetables. They’re not; they can’t be eaten raw. They’re starches. Non-starchy vegetables are plants which are generally quite colorful with a few exceptions, which could be eaten raw. Think any green leafy vegetable, think things like peppers, mushrooms, cucumbers, zucchinis, broccoli, asparagus, so on and so forth. I want you to fill half your plate with those, and I don’t care how you prepare them because what’s most important is getting them into your body in a way that you enjoy and can keep up forever. So if you hate the taste of raw vegetables, please don’t try to force yourself to eat raw vegetables. Use olive oil in that context to sauté those vegetables and make them taste great, because getting the vegetables into your body is priority number one. Just please don’t deep fry them. That is the only form of preparation that I would advise against.
The next big portion of your plate – about a third of your plate – is going to be nutrient-dense proteins. It’s really important that we focus on nutrient–dense proteins because you hear a lot of things about meat – it’s good, bad, etcetera. It’s just people being imprecise with language, which is unfortunate because certainly things like spam, hot dogs and processed meat are not good for us, much like, for example, processed sugar, which is a plant, is not good for us. Processed anything is not good for us, whether it be meat or plants. So we want to eat nutrient-dense proteins. These are generally humanely raised animals and / or wild-caught seafood. Canned is fine, frozen is fine, and having a big chunk of that on our plate because of the therapeutic impact of those nutritious sources of protein. And then the remainder of your plate can be low fructose fruits, like berries or citrus fruits. These are going to provide you the most of what you need to thrive and the least of things you don’t, such as fructose or other forms of sugar. And / or whole food fats, such as nuts and seeds. But what we’ve seen a lot of people do to make this even simpler is make half your plate non-starchy vegetables, half your plate nutrient-dense protein, and then use whole food fats and low fructose fruits for dessert. That’s when this gets really fun, because no way of eating that is disgusting or unappetizing is a way of eating that I would recommend anyone engage in for life. Life is about being here, being present, being happy, enjoying oneself. So, what’s beautiful is things like coconut, coco, almond flour, berries, all these types of delicious, decadent foods – these can make up the backbone of cakes, cookies, pies, ice creams, puddings. Pretty much any baked or dessert food you can think of, we can SANE-itize using whole food fats and low fructose fruits. Then eating becomes so simple – just pack your plate with non-starchy vegetables and nutrient-dense protein, and then eat some SANE dessert, and you will drop your setpoint and live extremely well.
Allan (32:20): Hallelujah! Now, I want to shift gears a little bit. You got into a series where you were talking about mindset, and you got into goal setting. You made a clear delineation about the types of goals we should be setting for ourselves, and I thought that was just brilliant. Could you take a moment to start talking about goal setting and the types of goals we should actually be setting for ourselves?
Jonathan Bailor (32:49): We talk a lot about mindset in The Setpoint Diet and it’s extremely important because where your head goes, your body follows. How many of us have said, “I’m going to do this!” and get really excited? And motivation wanes and it doesn’t materialize over time. There is tremendous research that has taken place that can help us, just like we know more about nutrition. The realm of positive psychology is so powerful. Like a lot of what we’ve been told about nutrition is just wrong and counterproductive, a lot of what we’ve been told about goal setting is wrong or counterproductive. For example, the way that we are generally told to make goals is what’s called “results goals”, and we’re generally told to do big results goals. Let me give you an example. I want to lose 100 pounds. That’s a big goal, and it is a result – 100 pounds is a result. The reason that that is bad – in the scientific research we define “bad” as “ineffective”, meaning it’s not going to yield the outcome you want. First and foremost, you don’t have ultimate control over the speed or ability to lose 100 pounds. There are things outside of your control that influence that, so making a goal that you have limited or no control over is not helpful, because if you can’t control it, that’s not helpful. But the other thing that’s even more important for a lot of people that we’ve worked with, is when you set a goal like that, you will feel like a failure every second of every day, because you haven’t reached that goal. And you’re not even close to reaching that goal. So you’ve now set yourself up. Your brain is going to say, “Alright, I’ve got to lose 100 pounds. Have I lost 100 pounds yet? No, failure. How about now? No, failure.” You wake up tomorrow: “No, failure.”
A much more empowering and effective approach to goal setting instead of big results goals… Which are fun; they’re like mental junk food: “We’re going to go to a conference, and I’m going to lose 100 pounds. And I’m going to make a million dollars, and I’m going to get married and have five kids. I’m going to do that all in the next three weeks.” And for the next 12 hours I’m going to be super excited, just like I ate a bunch of sugar, but then I’m going to crash and be like, “How the hell am I actually going to do any of that?” So it’s like junk food for your brain. A much more SANE approach is to create small process goals. What is a process goal? A process goal is something that you do and something that you have complete control over – so a process goal of, “I am going to blend a SANE green smoothie” – you have control over that, and it’s a process. I am going to do that, and it’s small. I’m going to do that right now. And it’s not super sexy, but what we’ve seen in the research, which is quite clear, is if you start stacking up process goals, if you start taking tiny actions that you can control daily, consistently, there is very little in life that will be outside of your reach. We know that’s true. Small, consistent change over time is the only way anything has ever happened in any of our lives, barring winning the lottery. We just need to recognize and embrace that and treat the way we eat and exercise in the same way.
Allan (36:17): You’re going to be happy to know that I did set a SANE goal and yesterday when I went to the grocery store, I bought a lot of leafy greens and I actually made your blueberry blast smoothie yesterday. And my goal is to do that each day now.
Jonathan Bailor (36:34): That is absolutely fantastic. That’s an example of some process goals that I can write down, I can check off, and I can do. I’m going to go to the grocery store and buy these ingredients. Allan, that’s an important point, because we really want to break stuff down into, what is the next action? It’s one thing to be like, “I’m going to make a SANE smoothie.” Okay, what are you going to blend it with? “Crap. Don’t have a blender. Don’t have the ingredients.” You want to just back up and say, “Where do I start?” You start where you start. Try to describe to me if you tried to teach someone how to walk. No, explain with words how to walk. You take one foot and you pick it up, you put it in front of the other. At some point we need to reduce stuff down to the simplest state: “I am going to get in my car. I’m going to drive to Safeway. I’m going to go to aisle 3. I’m going to pick up a bag of spinach. I’m going to go to the checkout.” That seems silly, but it’s like a blueprint. It’s like code for your life. There’s a reason computers work. The reason that computers work when they work is because instructions have been laid out extremely clearly, every step of the way. We need to do that for ourselves in our lives.
Allan (37:56): When you’re doing coding, you’ve got to think, “What’s my next step? What’s my next step?” And this is very similar. I already had a very good blender. It’s not the Vitamix that you recommend. It’s called Ninja, but it’s still a very good blender. And then I knew I need to get some more leafy greens, I need to pick up the lemons. I didn’t actually use the erythritol. That’s what I did skip out on because I didn’t think I’d need it with the lemon in there. And then I made my smoothie with some blueberries. It was awesome.
Jonathan Bailor (38:27): And that’s a huge win. Again, it seems like a small thing, but imagine that that became a habit. That’s another thing we talk about in the book. So let’s say that, Allan, you make that a goal and you say, “I’m going to consciously take steps to buy these ingredients to make these smoothies every day.” And you do that for 21 days, or 30 days, or so on and so forth. What you’re going to find is that next month instead of it taking effort to make that smoothie, it will take effort to not make that smoothie, because it will become a habit. When it can be easier to perform SANE, healthy habits than it is to do unhealthy, inSANE things, that’s when the magic happens. And that absolutely can be the case. We know thousands of people within the same family who crave green smoothies. It’s happened to me and my wife. We go on vacation, we go on a cruise where it’s like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t wait till we can get home and drink our green smoothies.” We’re in the midst of all this decadent, all-you-can-eat food, and we’re in the habit of drinking SANE smoothies, so we’re like, “I love the cruise, but I hate that I can’t have my green smoothies.”
Allan (39:42): I’m thinking I picked up spinach and I walked past all the other stuff. I’m like, “I could have put some dandelions in here. There was so much more I could have put in here that would have been interesting.” So I’m looking at it as an experiment. I’m looking at it as, “This is going to be fun because I’m going to experiment with different fruits, different berries, different flavors, and just have some fun with it.”
Jonathan Bailor (40:04): It is a great canvas on which to experiment in that way, with what we would call “optimal” non-starchy vegetables. If I’m like, “Hey, eat more dandelion greens”, you’ll be like, “Uhhh…” But you can just take a handful of them, toss them in the blender with some other stuff. You can toss a handful of all sorts of things into the blender. We’re not a smoothie company, this isn’t called The Smoothie Diet. But we have found that drinking the appropriate type of SANE green smoothies can be one of the simplest and most enjoyable ways to SANE-itize your diet and lower your setpoint.
Allan (40:41): I think it was five ounces of spinach that I put in there. I went a little overboard. I made a whole lot, but I drank all of it. It would have taken me a lot of effort to eat that much in its whole food form.
Jonathan Bailor (41:00): 100%. I get probably 80% of the vegetables that I eat in smoothie form, simply because you could drink it at your desk, take it with you in the car, and that’s great. They’re raw. You don’t need to use a lot of olive oil in a green smoothie, for example. And then you can do all sorts of fun stuff. You can use avocado to help make it more creamy, so you get your whole food fats in there. It’s also a great place in which to try some nutrient-dense protein. You could have some whey protein or casein protein or pea protein or rice protein or hemp protein, some pasteurized egg whites. It’s a canvas on which you can really create something beautiful.
Allan (41:39): Yes. You get into another concept that you call “implementation intentions”. And I thought those would be extremely valuable to talk about.
Jonathan Bailor (41:48): Implementation intentions are the natural byproduct of the process goals, the small process goals we talked about earlier, where you really start to flesh out a plan. For example, rather than saying, “I have the small goal of drinking a green smoothie tomorrow”, an implementation intention will take it further and say “if, when, then”. So, “If it is the morning, when I am hungry, then I will make a SANE green smoothie.” So there are three components to it and it’s almost like making the decision ahead of time. This is really important. I don’t think we talk about this in the book, but you can be in what’s called a hot state or a cool state. Not to digress too much, but if you’ve ever found yourself in a context of passion with another human being, it’s one thing if you get cut off in traffic to say, “Calmly on my couch, I will behave this way.” But when someone cuts you off in traffic or jeopardizes the life of your family members in your car, you become emotionally aroused and your decision-making process changes a bit. Implementation intentions help you to act out and create an entire game plan for how you’re going to act in certain situations before those happen. So if I get home from work and I am stressed out, and I open the refrigerator, then I will grab the container of pre-washed sugar snap peas and I will binge on those. You literally have a plan for situations where you find yourself making inSANE choices. You have yourself set up, you have a game plan in place. You get that written down in a very simple formulaic way, and you are now empowered because you have made the decision and created the plan before you need to, so that when you need to, you’re ready.
Allan (44:00): It used to be at the office, they would bring these donuts called Spudnuts, and they’re literally made out of potato flour. So probably the most inSANE food on earth, because they’re coated in sugar and they’re potato flour. And when they bring them in the office, it’s like watching sharks be chomped. They’re all over the break room. So, I had this strategy, which was similar. It was this intention where I’d say, “If they brought Spudnuts, I’m going into my office and I’m going to eat a bag of nuts. I’m going to stay out of the break room until lunchtime.”
Jonathan Bailor (44:36): And the reason, Allan, that that is so powerful is, contrast that with the goal of, “I’m not going to Spudnuts.” That’s actually more of a result – the result of, “I’m not going to eat them”, but how am I going to not eat Spudnuts? These goals without “How’s” are meaningless, especially when you ask the question of, “I’m going to lose 100 pounds. How?” It quickly falls down. Implementation intentions force that “How” in an elegant way,
Allan (45:15): Absolutely. Now, you get into something else in the mindset part of the book that I just love, because I think it’s an underutilized aspect to wellness, and that is the concept of gratitude.
Jonathan Bailor (45:29): Gratitude is one of those things which research has shown without a shadow of a doubt that to not leverage gratitude is to your psychology like not eating vegetables is to your biology. There’s basically a dose-dependent relationship in the amount of gratitude that you proactively seek to express, and your mood. So gratitude journaling, consciously setting aside time to, once a day, tell people you love, “I appreciate how you emptied the dishwasher today, “I appreciate how you noticed my new socks.” It sounds simple, but so does “Eat your vegetables.” Sometimes the most profound changes in life come from the simplest practices in life, and gratitude is one of those.
Allan (46:16): I for the longest time struggled with stress. I was actually fortunate to get laid off, and now actually I’ve had a year of what I would call healing, so that I can make 2019 my complete “whoosh” of trying to get as distressed as possible. But one of my eye-opening moments was when I came to the realization that when you’re experiencing joy, you don’t feel stress. And to me gratitude is one of those self-inflicted joys. When you start actually thinking about how good things are, even the little things, it’s like you’ve taken in a bit of self-induced joy in that moment, and it’s a complete de-stressor.
Jonathan Bailor (47:05): That’s been my experience as well, Allan, and I will give the listeners to this an advanced technique that is actually not in the book, simply because we were so over the word count. It was supposed to be 80,000 words. We already went so over, we had to start cutting some stuff. But some people hear “gratitude” and they’re like, “Okay, what?” There’s a different way to approach gratitude that I’ve found to be helpful for some people, which is, while it may not feel great… Let’s say you have a cat that you really like, and you’re like, “I like my cat, I like my cat, I like my cat. This isn’t doing anything for me. Why did I listen to that podcast?” There’s a different approach. This sounds a little bit morbid, but it has a long track record historically; it’s just not talked about a lot. Imagine that something happened to your cat, as deeply as possible. Not for a long time, but just take 60 seconds and literally play through in your mind that something bad happened and you no longer had your cat. Then stop and hug your cat. You will instantly feel more grateful for your cat than you did before. So, there are two approaches. For some people based on their personality type, they’re like, “Hey, Snookums, I love you. I’m so grateful for you.” That works, and if that works, please do it. For other personality types that does not work, and all you need to do is close your eyes and imagine if Snookums wasn’t around, graphically. Then open your eyes and hug Snookums. In either case, you’re going to get that sense of joy that is so helpful with stress.
Allan (48:45): Absolutely. Now, I define “wellness” as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
Jonathan Bailor (48:58): Drink SANE green smoothies every day. Sleep at least seven hours, and prioritize your life so that you can do that. Love and contribute as deeply as possible.
Allan (49:13): Those are wonderful. I adore those. Thank you for sharing that. Jonathan, if someone wanted to get in touch with you, learn more about The Setpoint Diet and the things you’re doing, where would you like for me to send them?
Jonathan Bailor (49:26): Please go to our website, which is SANESolution.com. That will give you all the information on the book, a bunch of free resources, wonderful miniseries coming out, tremendous coaching programs, all sorts of good stuff. SANESolution.com.
Allan (49:46): Awesome. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/363, and I’ll be sure to have all the links there. Jonathan, thank you so much for being a part of the 40+ Fitness podcast.
Jonathan Bailor (50:00): Thank you for having me, Allan.
I hope you enjoyed that interview as much as I enjoyed having that conversation. Some really good information for you to take into your January. I am very happy to say that I have finally, finally received copies of The Wellness Roadmap so that I can do some signed copies. If you would like a signed copy of the book, all you have to do is go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Hardbound if you want the hardbound version, or 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Paperback if you want the paperback edition. Again, that’s 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Hardbound or 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Paperback. I can only do this during the month of
Also, I wanted to let you know that I have partnered with a lab company called YourLabwork.com.
I did the full workup, so I have a complete particle count on my cholesterol, I have all the hormone checks, all that stuff done. I do that
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I entitled today’s show “Breaking a Weight Loss Plateau”, but the lessons that I’m going to teach you today can actually be used for any plateau that you’re on, whether it’s a plateau on strength, on mass-building, on losing weight, or even a plateau on improving your diet, because every one of those things ends up in a plateau. I use an acronym called POPP, and I’m going to discuss that and show you how each element of POPP will help you pop your plateau. Let’s first start out with why we end up in plateaus.
It’s one of those things where we’ll start a diet, we’ll change some things and almost immediately we’ll see some reward, some benefit from making that change. I know when I cycle back into ketosis, literally I could lose six pounds overnight. It happens time and time again. If I’m a little bloated, a little inflamed, haven’t been taking care of myself or eating as well as I need to, I start that low-carb, and the next day the weight just washes out of me. I know a lot of that’s water. I have the head to know what’s actual fat loss and what’s just water loss. So I’m not getting all crazy about it, but there is going to be a point, even when you’re doing ketosis, where you are going to plateau. I know a lot of people think, “I’m losing 15 pounds a month. I want to stay in ketosis, but if I keep losing 15 pounds a month, I’m going to dwindle down to nothing.” That’s never going to happen, because your body is really, really smart. It does this thing called “homeostasis”.
Homeostasis is basically balance. It’s a fancy word that scientists like to use and it just means they balance out. So, you’ve gotten your body used to eating a certain amount of food or a certain type of food. Your body has adapted. It’s been using body fat for a while, but then it says, “We’re in a long-term bit of famine here. We’re not getting as many calories as we’re burning. We’re getting some great fat and we’re feeling full. Things are good, the nutrition is great. I don’t need anymore, so I’m not going to be hungry just for the sake of being hungry.” And then your body says, “Let’s stop shedding this body fat, because we kind of like it. We’re going to stay here.”
That’s what I call your body’s “happy weight”. It’s not your happy weight necessarily, but your body is happy with it. So, how do we break this weight loss plateau, or any plateau? That’s where the acronym POPP comes in. So POPP stands for Patience, Other measures, Persistence, and Progression. And I’m going to take a few minutes here to unwrap what each of those means and how you can use each of these and all of these to help you break this plateau.
The first one is patience. You knew this was coming. I’ve taught you already that homeostasis is just something that’s going to happen. It’s going to be there. So, just know that the journey to wellness is ever going. It’s your entire life. You’re always going to be in this mode. The first thing I hope that you haven’t done is that you haven’t looked at this whole process as temporary, as, “I’m going to go on a diet, and then I’m done.” Really to take care of your health for the long term, to include weight loss, which is really a side effect of living a healthy lifestyle.
That’s exactly what you want to do – you want to make it a lifestyle. Is this a way that you can live your life going forward? So, with the patience aspect of this, start exploring the things that are serving you and what are the things that maybe aren’t serving you. This is truly a good lifestyle that you want to maintain. As long as you’re maintaining a healthy lifestyle, then you use patience to say, “I know this is working. I know that I’m doing the right things for my body. If my body is at its happy weight at this point, maybe for the time being I need to be happy with that and accept that this is a long-term process. And over time I’ll probably see some progress, but I’m not going to see it at the rate I was perhaps expecting to.”
So, patience comes in regardless of how you look at plateaus, regardless of what you want to do about a plateau. You just have to recognize you’re going to have one now, you’ll probably have another one later, and another one after that, and another one after that. Before you get to your happy weight, your body’s going to find several of its own set points, its own happy weight, so just recognize this is a part of the game, a part of life. Make your eating choices, your workouts and everything you’re doing – make it lifestyle, make it sustainable for the long term, and you’ll see the benefits over time.
Now, that takes us to other measures. If I am looking at taking care of my health, then I’m going to see improvements elsewhere. So, maybe my skin looks a lot better, maybe your hair looks a lot healthier. Maybe some things that were happening to you before – you maybe had some eczema or irritable bowel problems, other things going on in your life that were making you uncomfortable and unhappy – and now because you’ve made a lifestyle change, you’re starting to feel a lot better there.
Maybe your waist size is going down. If you have a waist size over 40, that’s a strong, strong, strong indicator, direct correlation that you probably are at risk of cardiovascular disease. If you continue to see your waist get smaller, you’re onto the right track. A lot of women will tell me they get into this whole thing, they want to lose weight because they know if they lose 25 pounds, they’ll be able to fit in that dress that’s two sizes smaller.
But sometimes they’re not losing the weight. How are your clothes fitting? They’re fitting better. Okay, you’re getting smaller.
So, you can fit in that dress. Maybe the weight you thought you needed to be isn’t the weight you need to be, because now you’re shedding fat and maybe putting on a little bit of muscle, or maybe now you’re fully hydrated and before you were dehydrated. So, we’re not dehydrated; we’re in a healthy state. We’re seeing a lot of other markers, other health measures, other things going great for us. Turning your focus away from the weight and focusing on these other measures – my waist size getting smaller, my skin looking good, getting good night’s sleep, and maybe I’m not having problems going to the bathroom. All of those things matter. They add to the quality of our life.
Focusing a little bit more on these other health measures that are going your way will let you know that you’re on the right track. That goes back to patience. That’s going to feed your patience, because it’s going to say, “It’s working. I can’t get tied up on what that scale is saying to me right now. If my body’s at a happy weight, but other things are going good for me, I need to take that and accept that and understand this lifestyle is working. So I need to stick with it.”
The next one is persistence, and that’s the “stick with it” part. Sometimes it’s very easy to sit there and say, “This isn’t going to work. It stopped. I’ve lost it.” And many people do. They get frustrated and they regress. So, the persistence aspect of this is to keep going. It’s to not let yourself get deflated that things aren’t going exactly the way you want them to. It’s continuing to do your batch cooking on Sundays, it’s continuing to do your 30 minute walks each morning.
Maybe it’s continuing to keep your sugars as low as you possibly can and making sure that you’re drinking plenty of water. All of these healthy lifestyle changes that you’ve made that are now habits – you just need to be persistent and keep doing them, because they are working. If you’re looking at these other measures and you’re seeing improvement from where you were – that’s work. That’s good stuff. That’s what a healthy lifestyle will do for you, so keep persistently pursuing good health, wellness. Wellness is health, fitness and happiness. So, be looking for joy, be looking for the things that are going to help you. That’s the persistence of constantly taking this and going and moving and doing. Stay persistent in the battle, because it’s working.
And then the final P is progression. We talk about progression a lot when we’re looking at training, exercise, because we say, “I’m going to add an extra five pounds to my squat” or, “I’m going to add an extra 15 minutes to my walk” or, “I’m going to try to run a little bit faster, so my progression is to try to increase my speed.” All of these different progressions basically mean you’re adding a little bit more effort. Typically in training, like I said, it works out as volume. The way we explain it as trainers is your training volume increases, either because you’re working out longer, you’re adding more training sessions, or you’re adding more weight.
Whatever’s making that resistance harder, you’re doing more of that. So, progression is the adding more, and it needs to be done gradually. If you’re doing gradual progression on all the training things you’re doing, it’s time to maybe think about a progression for your food.
And here’s how that looks. It’s an approach I take when I go off of what I call my “seasonal feasting period”. And we’re just now about to roll out of that because we’re approaching Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving and Christmas end up being my feasting period. I’m in my feasting period, so what’s going to happen is I’m going to get into the new year and I’m going to say, “Not a special birthday; I don’t have to worry about it. This year coming up in February.
So now it’s time for me to go in my famine mode.” I’ll start into my famine mode with a very set approach of really, really low-carb, but the foods I like. I make sure I’m now doing my batch cooking and the different things I need to do to make sure I stay on plan. And then I start to shed the body fat. I’ll get to a point where the amount of fat I’m eating and the total calories I’m eating, I plateau. Like you, I will plateau. Now, I am much more focused on trying to add muscle and I’m much more focused on trying to lose fat. I might actually see my weight go up. So my measurement is not weight loss, but it’s the same concept – I’m trying to change my body composition.
Then I need to progress. And what that means to me is, I need to reduce my calories. What I’ll typically do is I will look to my percentages. I’m already fairly low-carb, so typically less than 20 net grams when I start. I look at my protein, and if my protein is where I need it to be and my carbs are where they need to be, then I slowly start trying to reduce the amount of fat in my daily intake. So I may cut another 100 calories off of my daily intake from where I was. Maybe I started at 2,100 calories and I’m going, going, going. I know I’m exercising, I’m going eat back some of those calories. On a given day, I might be eating 3,000 calories. If I had a really tough cardiovascular workout and burned 700-800 calories, I’ll eat those calories back. And then I’ll end up with maybe, like I said, close to 3,000 calories that day.
What’ll happen is I’ll say, “I need to tomorrow get it down to 2,900, or 100 less than what I would normally eat, plus what I would use.” That progression is just 100 calories. You shouldn’t think that 100 calories means that much, but 100 calories over the course of a year, is 10 pounds. So, it is a big number. It just doesn’t feel that big that day, because I’m not looking to say I’m cutting another 500, which I would typically then expect to see about a pound per week. My body’s going to plateau again really, really quickly. My energy levels, I’m not going to be able to do what I’m doing. For me, I just shave 100 off, and that 100 typically is enough for me to start seeing things moving a little bit more, not fast, but I see it, I feel it. It’s happening. That little bit of progression in my nutrition is typically enough to get me there.
The one thing I don’t sacrifice on or skimp on is, I still make sure I’m getting high-quality whole food, and I always try to make sure that I’m getting all of my nutrients. If I feel like my calorie load is not where it needs to be and I’m not eating as many carbs – so maybe I’m not getting as many vegetables or fruits – I may start taking a multivitamin supplement. I’ll probably start, because again, it’s typically in the early winter, late winter time period when I’m going through this plateau.
Often I’m not getting enough sun, so I’ll probably take a vitamin D supplement. I’m definitely taking some fish oil supplements and I’m calculating that as a function of my fat intake. As I look at all this, you can see I’m still making sure that I’m covered nutritionally. I’m only reducing a little bit of my fat calories and I’m trying to tell my body, “If you want that fat you enjoy, you’ve got to get it from the body. You’ve got to get it from me, because I’m not going to give it to you through my mouth.” And my body typically responds to that.
And now you wrap the whole POPP together, and it works like this: I’m patient enough to know that I can do this. I’m patient enough to know that my lifestyle is right and I just need to be there. I just need to have the patience to work with my body to get it where I want it to be – my happy place, not necessarily its happy place. I need to look at other measures to make sure that I’m on track with my health, and not just trying to chase after a single goal.
There was a time when I was training for a Spartan and I really wanted to be ready for that Spartan. So I was going to get stronger and I was working on my endurance. I had a strength coach; his name was Dave. And I was meeting Dave and my strength was just off the charts, going up. My deadlift when I started with Dave, was I think at 410. I was pulling 450-460 after about three months and I was like, “I could get to 500.” Suddenly I got this really, really focused mind on that singular thing, and I just started pushing. What happened was, my strength in my squat went down, my strength in my overhead press went down, and my strength in my bench press went down. My deadlift was going up, but some of the others were plateauing or stopping, and I just didn’t see it. Afterwards I looked at my journal and I was seeing over the course of a month 5% increase in strength in the deadlift, but I wasn’t seeing 5% in the other lifts, which told me I wasn’t balanced, I wasn’t focusing on the whole me. And I needed to be.
Unfortunately, during that period of time, that’s when I tore my shoulder – rotator cuff tore – so, some of the other exercises, like bench press, went down. I just dropped that. No overhead pressing. And I thought I’m still doing the deadlift, but after a while I realized I’m not there, I’m not going to make that 500. And I don’t need to be doing that 500, because now I need to be thinking about this Spartan race, and having a 500 pound deadlift is really not going to help me. I have a problem with my shoulder, and I need to make sure that I can get through this race without hurting myself any more than I need to. So, I got back on track. It took me a little while.
But you can’t get singularly focused on weight loss either. You need to be looking at these other health markers and making sure that they fit your life. Then there’s persistence, which means we should just stick to it. If you have good “stick to it-ivness”, you’ve made this a sustainable lifestyle, you now have the broad perspective of, you’re doing healthy things for yourself. That’s totally cool. Then you can sit down and have a basis for saying, “What’s the progression? If I really want to push myself out of this plateau, what are the things that I need to do to get out of that plateau?” So, you put all four of these together – POPP – Patience, Other measures, Persistence, and Progression, and now you have a model. You have a structure to approach every one of your plateaus with a plan – the last P here. So, have a plan. And that plan has to include POPP – Patience, Other measures, Persistence, and Progression.
The Wellness Roadmap is available now for pre-order. I’m offering it as a Kindle edition at a very, very steep discount price. You’re not going to get this book for this price after the pre-launch and the first few days of the launch. Once the book is live, I’m going to put the prices back up where they belong. But I’m basically giving the book to you. So if you’ll go to the Amazon page, look it up – it’s The Wellness Roadmap book, or you can look it up under my name, Allan Misner. You’ll find the book there.
The Kindle book edition is going to be as low as Amazon will let me put it, so basically as close to free as I could get it. I want it in your hands, and as soon as it goes live, you’ll be able to download it to your Kindle Reader. But I do ask one thing – once you’ve read the book, please do go give me an honest rating and review. Amazon loves those things. Amazon feeds off those things. Amazon will not show my book to anyone not looking for it, unless it sees these ratings and reviews are coming in, that people are seeing substance in the book.
All I ask is when you get the book and you’ve read it and you feel good about it, please do go out and give me an honest rating and review. It’s going to help propel the book and get it where it needs to be, which is in the hands and on the e-readers of people around the country and around the world.
Please do go to Amazon, look for the book The Wellness Roadmap, or search under my name, Allan Misner, and you’ll find the book there. Buy it at the steep, steep, steep discount. Like I said, it’s close to free as Amazon would let me put it. And then boom, there you go. Thank you for that.
In her new book, Think Yourself Thin, JJ Smith gives us tips for weight loss success. She also shows us how to eat a balanced diet, and look and feel our best.
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Allan (1:21):JJ, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
JJ Smith (1:25): Hello! It’s so great to be here today.
Allan (1:27): I want to thank you first for putting this in audiobook, because that’s actually how I ended up reading your book. I was thinking I’ve got to read these books, and I want to read it, and I wanted to make sure I got it done in time. So it was like, “Great, it’s an audiobook.” So I did want to let people know that this book is one of the few books, because there’s not many that come out and immediately have an audiobook. I wanted to thank you for that. That’s how I actually read your book.
JJ Smith (1:52): You are most welcome. It was fun reading it. It actually took a couple of days, but it was a lot of fun.
Allan (1:58): It took me almost no time to listen to because I had it on double speed. I really appreciated that you read the book and it really felt personal, effectively having a conversation with you through the audiobook. The book is called Think Yourself Thin, and I love the title, because I think a big part of what is missing on the market is how hard the mental game is when you start talking about health and wellness.
JJ Smith (2:27): Yeah. Not just hard; it’s not talked about enough. I say the mental mastery, the ability to get your mind right is the most overlooked factor in dieting and weight loss. I believe it’s the missing piece as to why people can’t actually get to their goal weight.
Allan (2:46): I completely agree. In fact, I have a book that’s coming out in about a month and a half. I spend 90% of that book talking exactly about that – how do we get our mind right, how do we set strategies that keep us on track? You’ve already done a lot of that grunt work for me here, because a lot of what I was talking about is actually now in your book. I’m really glad to see something like this out there that helps someone walk through and set up a mental framework to be successful.
JJ Smith (3:14): That’s right. So you and I are like minded. We are definitely on the same page.
Allan (3:18): We are here for sure. You use the term “SUCCESS”. I love acronyms and I love that you were able to use that acronym specifically. In SUCCESS you have seven mental strategies for weight loss. Could you take the time to share each of those and dive a little bit into what each one means and how we can use it to be successful in weight loss?
JJ Smith (3:41): Sure. What we’ve learned is that people actually like systems or regimens or things that they can actually follow. And what we did was put together the SUCCESS systems, which are the seven mental strategies that will give people new habits, new behaviors, a new mindset around how to think about weight loss. So the first one, “S”, is “slay resistance”. This is about stopping procrastination once and for all, but really giving a name to that lethargic, apathetic feeling of just not wanting to do what we know we need to do or we should be doing. The second is “use visualization”. We have to change the conversation we have with ourselves, and what visualization exercise does is allow you to engage your body and your mind, and set your intentions and say them out loud, so that everything can move in the direction of what your intentions are. The next is “C”, which is “commit”. I always say there are a lot of people interested in losing weight, but there are very few people interested or committed to losing weight. When you’re committed to doing something you make the necessary sacrifices in order to get to the goal. And a lot of people are not willing to make the sacrifices, but that’s the difference between being interested and committed. Number four – “control emotions”. I would say, don’t eat your heart out. We have to tackle emotional eating head on – the boredom, depression, loneliness, heartbreak, all those things that are causing us to use food instead of us being able to process through our emotions and feelings. Number five – “establish success habits”. This is one of my favorites, because this is so applicable in all areas, not just on your health and weight loss journey, but anything you can do to not have to rely on self-control. You want to be able to put success habits, you want to be able to put things in your environment that keep you away from temptation or allow you to have some consistency over anything you’re trying to develop as a habit. Number six is “support from others”. Studies show that those who have a support system have a lot more success than that don’t. We teach you about accountability partners, doing buddy contracts and other creative ways to have a real support system, and it’s not always your family and friends. And number seven – “supercharge your spiritual life”. A lot of us believe in a higher power, believe in God, but we have to be able to tap into our belief and our faith, and engage our spirit in our weight loss efforts. And that chapter goes into that in great deal.
Allan (6:25): What I really like about those is, every one of those is a piece of getting your mind right. And to me, even though this wouldn’t make any sense from an acronym perspective, it really does start with the commitment. When you make that commitment, it really does set the foundation for you to build all of these other things on top of.
JJ Smith (6:49): I agree. You have to be able to commit and understand what commitment looks like. In that chapter we delve into different types or ways to stay committed, different ways to put together a plan to make sure that you are executing. You have to be able to demonstrate and show commitment. It’s not just words.
Allan (7:06): Absolutely, and I think that’s where the other things come in. You have the accountability, because you’re reaching out to others. But the one I really want to dive into just a little bit deeper – again, I do think commitment is the most important to start, but for a lot of people it is that emotional control. I think for a lot of us it’s really the hardest thing to recognize when it’s happening, because it’s emotion-based.
JJ Smith (7:35): Yeah. The interesting thing about emotional eating – we delve deep into this with the 30-day mental mastery challenge. It’s a series of habits, behaviors and exercises that really gives you a foundation, so that when you run into challenges or you’re dealing with emotional eating, you now have new tools in your toolkit that you can rely on. One of the exercises in particular is called the Food Mood Diary. Why I like that one is, for the entire day, everything you eat, you write down how you felt when you ate it and how you felt after, because what you’re looking for are those emotional triggers, the things that actually cause you to eat, even if you’re not physically hungry. Physical hunger comes on every three to four hours. Emotional hunger comes on quickly, it’s urgent. You could have just eaten a half hour ago, but all of a sudden you want something to eat right now. So, you have to be able to identify your unique emotional triggers, because so much of making change is being aware. So when it happens again you’ll be like, “I’m not really hungry. I’m really bored, so let me get out of the house and go do something different.” So the exercises are intended to allow you to have new habits and new tools that you can rely on to actually make a change.
Allan (8:53): That’s what I like – beyond giving us these principles, there’s practice in this. Your 30-day plan literally goes through and explores these various things. The way I read it as I went through the plan was that these are meant to be stacked, so each day you’re learning a new tool and now that’s there, but you keep using it throughout the month.
JJ Smith (9:13): One per day. For some people, a single exercise can literally transform the way they think. As a matter of fact, there was a woman in our private VIP group. She said she only got to page 45 because she had an “A-ha” moment reading the book. Literally she had a change of thought about the way she was viewing her entire weight loss journey. She said, “After page 45, I got it. It clicked. I put the book down. I started the 10-day green smoothie cleanse and I’m back on this journey again.” So sometimes you’re actually just looking for a different way to think and see things.
Allan (9:50): I agree. As I talk to a lot of people, if they’ve committed, which I find a lot of people who were struggling really need to go back and review that – whether they truly have this innate commitment and the self-love aspect of that commitment, the same way that they would commit to, say, Jesus or how they would commit to a spouse. There’s this emotion, this deepness to it that goes beyond who you are as a human. I think once we kind of get that commitment down, the tactics that you have, like you said, those tools in your tool chest that are going help you get through these harder times are the times that you would have failed in the past.
JJ Smith (10:31): I totally agree.
Allan (10:33): Now, in the book… And I love this, because I like action. I just love action. You put in 12 principles for clean and balanced eating, and I really like that. Would you mind sharing those 12 principles?
JJ Smith (10:48): Okay. Do you want me to go through all 12?
Allan (10:50): if you don’t mind, because I think every one of them is extremely valuable.
JJ Smith (10:54): Alright. Number one is, choose nutrient-rich foods, not empty calories. Give your body nutrition, and not a lot of junk. Sometimes we can be full, but we haven’t given our body any real nutrition. The second one is, eat protein with every meal. Even if you eat carbs and fat, protein is what’s going to balance them out to minimize blood sugar spikes. And that will minimize how much fat we store in the body. Number three – always balance carbohydrates with protein. This is more about the balancing of how you eat foods. I always say if you only eat one thing, make it protein, but if you are going to eat carbs, make sure to balance it with some protein. Number four – don’t overeat carbs. Almost any weight loss or diet plan you follow, one thing is going to be common – low carbs. Minimize carbs, minimize sugar, breads and pasta. That’s never going to change. Number five – avoid excess sugar, salt and trans fats. Basically there are enough studies to show that sugar makes us fat, unhealthy and sick. Need I say more? And then too much salt has its own challenges, as well as trans fats, which are in a lot of fried foods. Principle six is, eat four to five servings of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables do the body good. A lot of times if we just make sure to get those in our diet, they can still give us healthy nutrition throughout the day. Number seven – limit your intake of red meat. A lot of people don’t like to eat red meat, but the reality is, it is the healthy protein when it is lean. And there are lots of people who enjoy red meat. What you don’t want to do is be eating red meat every single day, but just once or twice; a few times a week is perfectly fine. Number eight – eat two healthy snacks per day. This is just a method to keep the metabolism revved up throughout the day. Number nine – eat at least 30 grams of fiber. There are lots of studies that show that fiber’s good for the body and it has a lot of heart health benefits. Why I like it is, studies show that if you eat at least 30 grams of fiber per day, it will significantly reduce the amount of weight you can lose per year. I am a green smoothie drinker, so I always put a scoop of fiber in my smoothies. Principle 10 – drink plenty of water. Most places will say, drink half your body weight in ounces. So if you weigh 200 pounds, that’s about 100 ounces. But honestly anytime you’re trying to lose weight, detox, or get healthy, proper hydration is key. It is what keeps all the systems in the body functioning well. Then number 11 – eat four to five times a day. A lot of studies say to eat more small meals, but eat more frequently throughout the day. And then principle 12 – buy organic as much as possible. Anytime you can avoid hormones, pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics in foods, that’s always going to be better and healthier for your body.
Allan (14:05): Yeah. That’s why I liked all 12 of them. I think if you try to just apply one or two, you would see some benefits. Obviously, if you’re eating whole foods, you’re going to see benefits. But really, if you take all 12 of those and you wanted to roll them up, it basically says, just make sure you’re getting your fiber, keep your carbs in a moderate zone, stay off the sugar, the salt, the trans fats and fat fried foods, and drink plenty of water. So, you take those together and that gives you the rules. You can take this and walk through your house and figure out what’s in your cupboard that doesn’t belong, because it doesn’t fit these criteria. And then print this out and put it on your refrigerator, so that you’ve constantly got that front of mind. I think if you follow these 12 principles, you are going to be successful in your weight loss.
JJ Smith (14:55): Yeah. I always tell people, focus on getting healthy and the weight loss will follow. What these principles do is they allow the body to get healthy, and you’ll find that weight loss will be less of a struggle for you based on how you live.
Allan (15:07): I’m going to flip things around a little bit. Normally I would ask the question and then I would say a couple of other things, but I’m going to let you. When we get done, I want you to close out with your 10 commandments of looking young and feeling great. But I want to flip it around a little bit and have one little side conversation that I would have used to close out. Obviously the book is Think Yourself Thin, and you’ve done this green smoothie cleanse thing and a lot of people have seen success. And it’s in your book. You have all of these success stories. They’re wonderful stories. Every one of them by itself should motivate you. If you just went back and read one of them a day, I think it would be one of those things to keep you fired up as you start your day. I wanted to thank you for sharing those stories and thank the ladies that let you, because those were just awesome.
JJ Smith (15:58): Yeah. They are great stories. People on the weight loss journey sometimes need inspiration. And you read someone’s story and you’ll say, “That is me. I’m experiencing the same thing.” And then we also wanted you to know you don’t have to get to your goal weight to have some success. A lot of women there had success, they’ve lost a lot of weight. They’re still on their journey, but their progress deserves to be celebrated as well.
Allan (16:23): Yes, absolutely. They’re all celebrations and they’re all wonderful. If someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about the book and your programs and what’s going on, where would you like for me to send them?
JJ Smith (16:37): They can go to JJSmithOnline.com, and they’ll be able to get more information about this book and some of the other products and books that I offer.
Allan (16:45): Great. I want to thank you for being on the podcast, but before you leave, because this is one of the things you said when you do your talks – you like to close out with your 10 commandments of looking young and feeling great. Would you mind sharing those with us?
JJ Smith (16:58): Absolutely. So, whenever I do a keynote or write a book, I always share the 10 commandments for looking and feeling great. The first one is, “Thou shalt love thyself.” Self-love is essential to survival. There are no successful, authentic relationships with others without self-love. Number two: “Thou shalt take responsibility for thy own health and wellbeing.” If you want to be healthy, take the time to learn what is involved and apply it to your own life. Number three: “Thou shalt sleep.” Sleep is the body’s way of recharging the system. I always say it is the easiest, yet most underrated activity for healing the body. Number four: “Thou shalt detoxify and cleanse the body.” Detoxifying the body gets rid of poisons and toxins that have built up over the years, and it can really speed up weight loss and restore great health. Number five: “Thou shalt remember that a healthy body is a sexy body.” Where do women’s bodies look beautiful? It’s about being healthy, having style, being confident and comfortable in your own skin. Number six: “Thou shalt eat healthy, natural, whole foods.” Healthy eating can really turn back the hands of time and put your body in a more youthful state. What’s the fastest way to slow the aging process? Watch what you put into your mouth. Number seven: “Thou shalt embrace healthy aging.” I always say I don’t mind aging, as long as I look and feel great. The goal is not to stop the aging process, but to embrace it. Number eight: “Thou shalt commit to a lifestyle change.” No more bad diets. Commit to making changes in your mindset and your lifestyle for life, and you will have more success with your health and weight loss journey. Number nine: “Thou shalt embrace the journey.” This journey will change your life. It’s not a diet; it’s a lifestyle, so be supportive, applaud yourself for every small accomplishment. You might slip up, but you do not have to be perfect to get great results. And number 10: “Thou shalt live, love and laugh.” Laughter is good for the soul. Live your life with passion. Never give up on your dreams. And most importantly – love, because love never fails.
Allan (19:22): I adore every one of those. Thank you for sharing that. I really do; I love that. And again, I can’t thank you enough for sharing that. Thank you, JJ, for being a part of the 40+ Fitness podcast. This has been an awesome conversation.
JJ Smith (19:34): My pleasure.
Allan (19:36): The book is Think Yourself Thin. I encourage you to get this, because this is going to help you get your mind right and get yourself on track. And like you said, it might be something as simple as reading a certain passage in this book that just flips the switch and you’re there. And beyond that, you have the actionable 30-day plan that walks them through getting these things incorporated in their life, so they will be successful in weight loss.
JJ Smith (20:01): Absolutely. Thanks for having me today. It was absolutely fun.
Allan (20:05): Thank you.
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