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February 11, 2019

The lies we tell ourselves

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

  • Judy Murphy

Thank you!

I've seen many clients self-sabotage their wellness journey by telling themselves lies. On this episode I discuss the lies we tell ourselves.

Before I get into todays topic, I did want to ask you for one quick favor. My book, The Wellness Roadmap, is up for an Author Academy Award. If you would go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/AAA, thats going to take you to the Author Academy Awards page. Scroll down to the bottom. Youll see a place where you can vote. Dont do the “Submit”, but go down to where you can vote. Its going to be on page 6 – thats the Health category. Find The Wellness Roadmap, the book cover. Click on that and youll be voting for The Wellness Roadmap. I really appreciate that. Again, thats 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/AAA. Itd really help me out a lot. Thank you so much for that. So now well go ahead and get on with the show.

For todays topic, its going to be a solo episode where I wanted to go into something that a lot of us dont talk about a whole lot, but it is something thats real in many of our minds. We lie to ourselves. We lie to ourselves all the time, and it can be something that can keep you from reaching the wellness that you want to have. As a recap, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be, and you do have to focus on all three. And these lies that Im going to cover today are part of your journey. If youre telling yourself these lies, youve got to stop. Ill get into some strategies about that towards the end. 

I broke this into three different sections, the first being “Getting Started”, and then well talk about “On The Journey”, and finally well talk about “Success”. And Ive got several lies in each of these categories that we tend to tell ourselves. So as we go through this, I really want you to do some deep thinking. This is part of the self-awareness aspects as you go through your Wellness GPS. If youve gotten The Wellness Roadmap, you know what that is, but basically we have to get to this point of self-awareness where we know what were doing and what were saying to ourselves, because if we dont get there, were not going to make this journey. Were going to struggle. And that struggle is going to keep you from getting where you could be getting. 

Getting Started

So the first one that I hear a lot is, Ill get started tomorrow. And that might be at the beginning of the month, at the beginning of the week, but in a general sense, its starting your plan any time other than right now. There is no better time than right now. So if you find yourself saying, Ill start my diet tomorrow. Ill start my exercise program tomorrow”youre already lying to yourself. Youre putting off something that you probably could start today. 

The next one is, My genetics are keeping me from losing weight or, My genetics are keeping me fat. You may also hear this termed big boned. Its not always genetics. Yes, some of us are designed to carry more body fat than others. Thats just a natural part of genetics. But none of us are genetically inclined to be obese; none of us are genetically inclined to be morbidly obese. Thats not the case. Now, there are genetic issues with some people and there are illnesses that will cause you to gain weight. There are medications that you might be taking that can cause you to gain weight. Those are real. Those are things you have to deal with. If your thyroids not functioning right, youre going to be bigger. Thats not your genetics. Thats not your genetic potential. We all have the genetic potential to be healthy, fit and happy; we just have to make sure were doing the right things based on who we are. So your genetics are not whats keeping you where you are. You have the capacity to do better. 

The next is, I dont lift because Ill get bulky. This is mostly things that women will say. Theyll say, I dont want to get bulky. I actually want to get smaller, so I dont want to lift weights because Ill get big. And the reality is, one, youre female, so to get big, short of performance-enhancing drugs, its not really going to happen. Two, you are never going to work hard enough to put on a whole lot of muscle the way body builders tend to. And third, finally, were all over 40, so our genetic potential, our opportunity potential to put on muscle is much lower than it was in our 20s and 30s. So straight off the bat, youre not going to work hard enough, youre not going to be taking performance-enhancing drugs, more than likely, and youre old enough that youre not going to put on significant muscle. But you should lift weights to maintain muscle mass, to maintain bone density and to maintain strength. All of those are very core to you being healthy, fit and happy. 

The next one is, I have a bad knee, or a bad hip, or some other injury that basically you cant work out. And this is almost never the case. I seldom see people who have an injury that they cant work around, that they cant do something with. If your knees hurt or you’re getting a knee replacement and the doctor says, No leg workouts” thats fine. Can you walk? Can you use the elliptical? Can you use the bicycle? Can you lift with your upper body? There are still things that you can do with that injury to work towards the fitness level that you want to have. It just takes some forethought and planning, so that you can get the work done without injuring yourself further. But very few injuries that I found will prevent you from being able to work out at some level. A lot of times were telling ourselves these lies because we dont want to work out. Its not that we cant, we just dont want to. So, dont let the injury stop you from doing some form of training. You can work on your mobility, you can work on your balance, you can work on your endurance. There are things that you can do; you just have to figure those things out. 

And the final item in the Getting Started section that I want to talk about is, I have to work out to lose weight. One of the early interviews I did was with a gentleman named Todd, and I also profile Todd in the book. Todd lost over 323 pounds without doing any workouts at all. In fact, he couldnt work out because of some physical conditions he had. As a function of being so heavy for so long, he literally would bleed through his calves if he sat down in a chair. He couldnt physically do the workout. So what did Todd do? Todd took control of his life. He made a commitment and he changed the things he could change, which was his food. Now, Todd did go low carb. You dont have to go low carb. You can find a way of eating that will help you lose weight if thats what your goal is, but you do not have to train to lose weight. Training helps the weight loss process, so training as a side effect will often include some weight loss, but thats a side effect of the working out, just as weight loss is a side effect of eating better. So, working out can enhance your weight loss, but its very unlikely that working out is going to be all you have to do to lose weight. Calories of energy output is very, very expensive for our bodies, relative to how easy it is to eat those calories back. Youll see those little diagrams all the time of, this is how much exercise you’ll have to do if you eat that Snickers bar, this is how much exercise you’ll have to do if you eat that McDonalds meal. You can tell the amount of exercise is insane for the effort and time its going to take for you to eat those calories back. Youre never going to out exercise a bad diet, so dont think that you will. Dont tell yourself that youre not working out. Youve got to focus on the food first.

So those are the Getting Started” lies: “Ill start tomorrow. My genetics are keeping me fat. I dont want to lift because Ill get bulky. My bad knee or other injury wont let me work out. I have to work out to lose weight.” All those are not really good reasons; theyre lies. So, stop telling yourself those lies if youre having difficulty getting started. 

On the Journey

Next, “On The Journey”. A lot of us will say, This time is different. But you didnt really change anything. Last time, what did you do? You went gung-ho for five days and then you had a cheat meal, and it turned into a cheat day and it turned into a cheat weekend, and then you didnt start back on Monday. So, what is different this time than the times you did this before? I can tell you, for me the main difference, the one time, was when I made the commitment. If you havent made the commitment and youre not making some substantive changes to your lifestyle, youre not going to get what you want. This time is different if you make it different, but going at it the same way you did before is just insanity, so dont do that. 

And then another one is, Damn it, since I had that cookie, the day is blown. You go in in the morning and they have donuts in the office, and suddenly donuts in the office becomes a crappy lunch at a restaurant, and then it becomes after work Happy Hour with some coworkers, and that turns into a whole terrible weekend of things. Each event is independent, each decision is independent. The cookies have absolutely nothing to do with the martinis after work. Each of them were decisions that you made at that point in time. So dont think that one decision blows your whole day and therefore you just blow it out. Dont let those other decisions become components of the decision that you make. Theyre independent decisions and you need to treat them that way. 

I earned a treat. So, you go into the gym – and I wont name the name of the chain – but theres one that they leave Tootsie Rolls and cookies at the front desk. So you go do your workout, and then, Heres your treat, as a way of you congratulating yourself. Or you went and you did a good workout in the morning. You showed up and your trainer maybe trained you very, very well. You felt like you had a really good workout, so that entitles you to have your favorite treat after dinner that night to treat yourself for that hard workout. Thats not gaining you any ground; thats actually pushing you backwards. You might not feel that way when youre doing it, but it is in fact doing it. So, dont let a victory celebration become a bad decision. 

I cant afford good quality food. I hear this all the time – they say, I cant afford organic. Ill admit, organic food costs a little more in the grocery store; it does. It takes more time and effort to grow. They get smaller production because theyre not able to use the hormones. All those different things that are happening are going to make the food a little bit more expensive, based on that volume of food. But what I have found is the difference in quality. If you eat slow and you let your bodys hormones do their thing – the leptin and the ghrelin do their thing – theyll tell you youre full when youve had enough. When youve gotten what your body needs, theyll turn off your hunger sensation and it wont turn it back on as early. If you can get your body to listen to those things, eating higher quality food is going to give you the nutrition that your body deserves. I can tell you that higher quality food is going to be a lot cheaper for you in the long run, particularly when you start thinking about the expenditures and the things that youve got to go through, the pain and suffering if you end up with diabetes and some of the complications that come along with that. You dont want that in your life. You dont want to be obese. You dont want to have all those other problems and the medical issues and everything else. The quality of the food does matter and its an investment that you should be making. 

Finally on the journey: Since my family wont support me, Im doomed. The family wants to have cookies in the house or whatnot. I can tell you right now as Im recording this, my wife went out and bought some M&Ms. I thought they were the peanut M&Ms when I first saw them. She said theyre the caramel ones. She loves them, which is great, but theyre not what I plan to eat. But I have a very hard time saying No to M&Ms. I actually do. I know thats a problem for me, but my wife wants them – Im going to let her have them. If Im cooking for myself and my wife doesnt want to eat the way Im going to eat, then I just have to be a little bit more into my plan. Typically what I found is, there are foods that you can eat that they will eat, and then there are foods theyll eat that you wont eat. So, if you fix a protein, you fix plenty of different vegetables, and then you go ahead and fix them the starch and you make them the desert, but you just stay away from the starch and the desert, you can fill your plate with the kinds of food that you want to have and you can meet your goals. If youre really into this, if youre really committed, youll come up with a strategy, with a plan to work around what your familys needs are. Segregate their snacks to a different pantry or to a different cabinet so youre not in them and seeing them all the time, and that might help. Fixing your meals in a way that is modular, so that you can add the things that they want and you can avoid those things. Fixing the plates in the kitchen and bringing them to the table will make that even easier for you. So thats the “On The Journey”: This time is different, when you havent really changed anything, Damn it, since I had that cookie, the day is blown. I earned a treat. I cant afford better quality food. And finally for On The Journey: Since my family wont support me, Im doomed. All of those are lies. Stop telling yourself that. If youre really committed to this, you can get through these things. 

Success

And then the final section is “Success”. The first one in “Success” is, If I lose X more pounds, Ill be happy. So for some people that might be five pounds, others 10, and for some it might be 25 or 30. Whatever that is, If I lose X more pounds, Ill be happy. Weight loss is not going to make you happy. If you get yourself healthy and you get yourself fit, its a lot easier to be happy. But happy in and of itself is its own component of wellness. And yes, theyre all intertwined. A fitter person tends to be more healthy and happy. A healthy person tends to be more fit and happy. A happy person tends to be more fit and healthy. Those are general components of the three and how they interact, but one does not drive the other in a straight line capacity that way. You need to find things that bring you joy, and that will bring you the happiness. That happiness will help you feel better so youll be putting more effort into your fitness. And as you notice the investments youre making on your fitness, youll start paying a lot more attention to the foods youre eating, the sleep youre getting, and your stress levels. All of that will work out to making you a much weller person. 

The second one in “Success” is, Im a failure. People will say this even when theyve made significant success. Ive talked to people that wanted to lose 60-70 pounds and theyve lost about 35 pounds, but theyve still got that 25 to lose and they feel like theyre a complete failure because they didnt reach a predetermined goal. And sometimes those goals were based on things that were happening at the early part of their journey. So, they needed to lose 70 pounds or wanted to lose 70 pounds, and the first week they last four, and then they lost three, and then they lost two, and now each week theyre noticing maybe half a pound, and one week it goes up. Theyre so fixated on the fact that the scale isnt moving as much as it did before, they feel like theyre stuck. There are things they can do to get off of this plateau. Youre not a failure. You climb the mountain and you found yourself on a ridge, and now you have to walk across that ridge before you can start climbing again. Thats just a normal aspect of going up this mountain, and its something to expect. Plateaus are a normal, natural thing in our wellness journey. If you find yourself on a plateau, youve got to keep doing whats been working for you and youre going to start seeing results again. You can start working a little bit harder at certain things, get a little bit more restrictive on some things and see if that helps spur some movement in the direction that you want to. But you are not a failure on the basis that your momentum stopped. Youre not a failure until you quit. If you quit this climb and start going back down the mountain, then yes, you can call yourself a failure, but youre not a failure because you didnt get all the way where you wanted to go. You are a success by making it as far up the mountain as you have, and you just have to keep working. 

And then the final lie that we tell ourselves as a part of the “Success” section: Ive met my goal, my journey is over. A lot of people will do this. Theyll go on a diet and their goal was to maybe lose 10-15 pounds. They lose that 10-15 pounds, and then they go right back to eating the way they did before. And guess what happens? They layer that fat right back on, and in some cases faster and even more than they did before. Thats a normal way that people will do – theyll do something, theyll be very successful, but because they werent committed to it in the long term, they let it slip through their grasp. They go back to living the way they did before, fully aware that thats how they got where they got. They know where that road takes them, yet they get on that road and they start going. So, when you meet your health and fitness goals, I’d strongly encourage you to take a moment to regroup, to assess yourself, and then sit down and pick something even better down the road. Find another goal, find another challenge. Find something thats going to keep you actively engaged in your own wellness. You can continue to improve your wellness, you can continue to maintain your wellness, or you can let it slip away. Its always a decision that you get to make, for the most part, so I want you making those decisions. 

So Ill recap – for “Success”, it was: If I lose X more pounds, Ill be happy. Im a failure, even though youve made significant progress, or, Ive met my goal, my journey is over. Those are three lies that we tend to tell ourselves when were looking at success or we feel like we have been successful. Those are also lies. If you really want to get well, you want to be as happy, healthy and fit as you can possibly be, you cant be telling yourself those lies either. 

I hope you enjoyed this episode. Its a little different than what Ive done in the past, but I really felt like as I was talking to various people, I hear these comments all the time and I know theyre just lies that people are telling themselves. I want you to do this deep dive. You may want to listen to this episode again, and therell be sections of it that are going to resonate with you. If they did, feel free to send me an email. Im at allan@40plusfitnesspodcast.com. We can talk about whats going on with you. Id love to help you out if I can in any way, so thank you.

If you enjoyed todays episode, would you please take a moment to check out our Patreon page? You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Patreon and leave a small contribution to the show. It takes a lot of effort and a little bit of money to keep a program like this going this long, so I really do appreciate any and all support that you can give me. Go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Patreon and become a patron today. Thank you for being a part of 40+ Fitness podcast.

Also, The Wellness Roadmap, the book I wrote, is up for an Author Academy Award. If you could go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/AAA, that will take you to the page for the Author Academy Awards. Youll need to scroll down to the bottom. Dont click that Submit button, because thats not for you, but scroll down a little bit further and youll find the Vote section, and then there are separate pages for each category. Im in the Health category, which is 7 of 16 pages, so youll have to do a little bit of scrolling to get over to the seventh page. Look for The Wellness Roadmap cover, click on it, and youve voted. Thank you so much for that: 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/AAA. Thank you.

Another episode you may enjoy

Health and fitness lessons I learned from crabbing
February 4, 2019

Gus Vickery – Authentic Health

You can find authentic health with the right changes. Dr Gus Vickery and I discuss his new book, Authentic Health: The Definitive Guide to Losing Weight, Feeling Better, Mastering Stress.

Patreons

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

  • Judy Murphy

Thank you!

Allan (0:55): Dr. Vickery, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

Dr. Gus Vickery (0:59): Thanks so much, Allan. I’m really excited to be here.

Allan (1:02): Your book, which I really enjoyed, is called Authentic Health: The Definitive Guide to Losing Weight, Feeling Better, Mastering Stress. It took me to that last word before you really had me engaged and saying, “I’m going to read this book.” That is in my mind, one of the big missing elements that so many people skip, and I know I skipped it myself. So, 2018 was a beginning of a distress for me, and now in 2019 I’m going to try to watershed stress. In the book you’re pretty clear that if we’re not dealing with our stress, we’re missing a big piece.

Dr. Gus Vickery (1:44): Absolutely. And there’s both the direct and indirect effect on health. This became apparent to me over the 14 years I’ve practiced clinical medicine and seeing people in a family practice setting. A lot of people, as you know, are struggling with obesity or being overweight, poor energy, mental health issues, diabetes, etcetera. And of course there’s information to help them. You can improve your nutrition, you can get exercise. These are all things that we have a lot of information out there, but I would realize that I could give them information until the cows came home, but it was so often inaccessible to them in terms of being able to turn that information into action. So I started trying to figure out what’s keeping people from taking action? I just told them if they do these few things, they can reverse a disease and feel better. Why is it not happening? And of course you study it for your own self. So you begin to study the mind and stress responses and what occurs, and you quickly realize that when people are overwhelmed by stress, that a part of their mind – I call it the “higher mind” – I know it’s an oversimplification that helps them make choices and align with their desires, make plans, envision the future – it’s inhibited. It’s turned off, because they’re cranking out adrenaline and a fight or flight state all of the time, so not only can they not think from that capacity, but at the same time they’re in desperate need of something to feel better, a fix. And our society has made it very easy to get your fix, whether it’s this food you choose, the nicotine, alcohol, what have you. And so, if you don’t get control of the stress, you can’t put the rest of it into action.

Allan (3:20): Right. I’m going to admit right now you got me in trouble. I have a good diversity of friends on Facebook and throughout my life, and we don’t always agree on things. So it’s a pretty regular thing if I go onto Facebook, someone’s going to post something I’m not going to agree with. I’ll be really kind to say I’m not agreeing with them. But I realized as I was going through your book, that was just something that I was allowing to happen to me as I was going through my day. I check my Facebook probably two or three times a day because part of my business does run through the Internet, so I’m on. I said, “I’m just going to turn all that stuff off and I’m going to finish reading your book and I’m not going to worry with that.” Unfortunately, what ended up happening was, I forgot that it was Tuesday and thought it was Wednesday and I missed a call that was supposed to be on Tuesday night. So, I’m going to have to blame you for that a little bit because you got me to turn that stuff off so that I could in a sense distress, or at least keep some stressors out of my life for a period of time. I’ve got to learn the practice of still remembering what day of the week it is when I’m going through that practice.

Dr. Gus Vickery (4:46): That’s right. I’m glad you were able to take that action. For somebody like yourself, so tuned into health, so tuned into what needs to be done to improve health, you realize every single one of us needs this. We’ve all got our little things that we need to be doing.

Allan (5:02): At the time I was like, “I’m going to try this – turn Facebook off, turn the newsfeeds off.” I put my phone away; completely forgot what day of the week it was, which was great, except for when I woke up the next morning and remembered it was Wednesday and I was supposed to be on a call last night. I had some people to apologize to. Now, you brought up something in the book, which I think has probably been used a good bit in maybe more the scientific and the doctoral area. It’s not a term that I had actually seen in a health book before, which is kind of odd because I’ve read well over 200 of them just for this podcast. I’m going to screw it up when I say it – biopsychosocial model. Can you go through that, because I think it wraps this all together to give us a bubble of understanding that our body is not just one system, one thing, a simple rule, calories in, calories out? We want those simple rules, but this wraps it all together and says you really have to look at yourself holistically to understand what’s going on in your life.

Dr. Gus Vickery (6:15): Once you get your mind around it, it’s just common sense too. Intuitively it immediately resonates when you think about our mind, our body, our social environments and our cultural environment, and how all of those inform our health, our experience of health, our experience of whatever weight we’re experiencing. In med school, this has been around. When I was in medical school back in the ‘90s, we were being taught the biopsychosocial model. It was part of the curriculum to say it’s not just biology, it’s not just biochemistry, molecular biology and physiology, but how people feel about things is important for their health. What resources they have around them is important for their health. Now that seems obvious and I point that out, the initial theory of learning medicine is, you’ll honor all of that when you approach another human being to try and help them achieve their best state of health or reverse a disease. And then of course I allude to the idea that the modern healthcare delivery environment doesn’t allow any honoring. But the mind and how we feel and how we think has very quick and direct effects on our physiology and our experience of health, and our biology. What we take in from nutrients, how we move our body, whether we honored circadian rhythm – it informs our thinking and feeling centers in our brain and changes those aspects. And then again, cultural environment: What are the belief systems that we’re immersed in and how has that informed our habits, most of which we didn’t consciously choose – that’s determining our health as well.

Allan (7:46): Right. I was thinking through that concept because I didn’t go to medical school, but it was a brilliant concept. I’m like, “Yeah, of course that’s the way we would do it.” And the reason we know that’s the way we should do it is, there are things we know and respect, like the placebo effect. When I was much younger, I was in a club called the Positive Mental Attitude Flub. We would meet for breakfast on Tuesdays every week, someone would speak, someone would be responsible for putting together a little speech and then we’d have our breakfast together. Those were all things that we did to improve our lives in general, but what I found was most people that are doing those types of things actually are improving their health along the way. It’s not just one thing – it’s not just their business getting better or they just happened to be nicer people. Everything’s working better because they set their mindset.

Dr. Gus Vickery (8:48): That’s exactly right, which is why I started on the mindset and the desire and how you’re thinking before you get to just about anything else in the book, because that’s foundational. Part of the tension I felt as a physician – people come to us with their complaints: “I’m not feeling good”, or for a checkup or whatever. And then you’re sitting and you’re trying to help them figure out what’s the source and what’s the solution to these complaints, how to help them feel better. And the typical medical encounter in traditional medicine, the tools you’ve been given are medicines, prescriptions. I can help your stomach acid problem with a prescription. I can help your mood with a prescription. I can lower your blood pressure. And there is a role for those tools. I am a medical doctor, I prescribe medications. But when I found myself primarily using only that tool to try and solve problems that had much deeper roots, I realized this is ineffective, this is going nowhere. And of course eventually people didn’t continue to feel better. But what I also realized is, if they’re not bringing their own desire for health in the room with them, then there’s really not much I can do. For many of my encounters I had to back up and really start with, “What do you want? What is it you really want to experience?” “Of course, I want to feel good.” And I’m like, “Okay, let’s talk about what it means to feel good then, and how you’re going to get there.”

Allan (10:02): Me as a coach, for 95% of the people that call me or want to work with me, it’s weight loss. And I can coach them. I’m going to hold them accountable, we’re going to hang out. You had a program which allows you to structure test a lot of the concepts that you now have in this book. But I liked the fact that you recognize that weight gain is a cycle, and once we get on that cycle, the cycle fights us tooth and nail all the way. So many people will sit there and blame themselves and say, “I’m just lazy.” I did it myself – I called myself “the fat bastard”, and it was because I had not figured out a way to really break that cycle. It was just getting worse and worse every year and it still took me a long time to figure out what you succinctly put in this book. So, someone that’s feeling that way – whether they’re designating themselves “the fat bastard” or something else – what are the things they need to do right now, today, to start to break that cycle?

Dr. Gus Vickery (11:32): Several key things. One is understanding – understanding that you probably didn’t choose this problem for yourself. It’s something that happened to you. Yes, we’re making choices. Yes, there’s personal responsibility. And yes, you’re the only person who can make new choices. But more than likely if you’ve developed a weight problem, meaning an excessive amount of body weight that’s causing you to be unhealthy, it started at very young ages of your life based on exposures that were beyond your control and that you didn’t understand. So blaming yourself, bringing shame and guilt and saying you don’t have what it takes, is not going to help the situation. It’s just going to create stress, which is going to undermine your efforts to get healthy. So, understand the situation you’re dealing with is number one. And even though you can’t do it overnight, begin to let go of this blame. We don’t have the time for me to get into all of the mechanisms of how that happened – the epigenetics, physiology and hormones, but we both know that’s what happens, that’s what creates chronic weight gain. 

Two – understand what actually solves the problem. We know that daily reduced calorie diets and just increasing exercise do not solve this problem. We have copious evidence that low calorie diets and exercise plans do not lead to sustained weight loss. Yes, you’ll lose some weight, but you want to sustain it. So what’s actually creating the weight gain? It can be many different things, but for most people it is going to be, they’re probably eating excessively, because our foods are calorie-dense and nutrient-poor. They’re probably eating too frequently. I listened to one of your recent podcasts and you talked about fasting for a good bit of time, and it was great. It’s one of the foundational principles in my book. Eating too frequently will continue to create a hormonal response that favors fat storage, no matter what you’re eating. If you’re eating too frequently, you will stay in a cycle of, hold onto your energy, don’t use your energy. Then it’s inflammation and bad quality foods. If you’re choosing foods that trigger direct inflammatory responses in the body and they create increased oxidative stress, you are creating an internal physiological need that favors weight gain. In order to actually stop this cycle and allow your body to reset… And there’s hope here, because this actually works. It’s been proven to work and to allow the area of your brain that regulates your body weight, apart from your choices, to begin to reset your weight down. You have to honor your body’s design for eating, and that’s pretty simple. Our bodies adapted over millennia upon millennia to eating whole natural foods as close to their natural state as possible. That can include carbohydrates – you know I talk about ketogenics and things in the book. It’s a program that could be used, but people don’t have to be ketogenic. If they’re eating high fiber, nutrient-dense whole foods, then those will naturally begin to control appetite, correct energy balance and allow that area of the brain called the lipostat to begin to reset back down. And by eliminating the foods that trigger the human reward system, binge eating and dysregulation of normal satiety function and satiation function, you naturally correct the eating behavior. The problem just goes away when you do that, and then you balance feeding and fasting. You basically stop eating at such a frequent basis and you begin to allow periods for your body to use the energy that you put into it. So, natural foods, balanced feeding and fasting. There’s more to it – circadian rhythm, function, move, breathe, all that. But those two things.

Allan (15:13): The book goes into great detail on the hormone side of it, all the rest of it, which is really, really cool. Now, of course the “calorie in, calorie out” model pretty much requires you to eat all the time. I tried to go pescatarian. I was mostly vegetarian with some fish. I tried it and what I found was I couldn’t get enough sustenance to get myself to the next meal. So, I carried food with me. I became obsessed about food – I had food in my truck, I had food in my office. I pretty much feel like if I wasn’t showering, brushing my teeth or asleep, I was eating. So, I actually put on weight. I know that I did it wrong because every time I got hungry, I ran for the berries, I ran for the nuts. Those were my go-to snacks because they were convenient to carry, and abundant, because I can go to the grocery store anytime. But when I really started breaking down why I’m gaining weight, why this is not working for me – my ancestors would not have had access to berries and nuts like that, and probably not even at the same time, because nuts typically come in the fall, berries typically come in the spring. I feel better when I can fast, so I’m eating more fat and less carbohydrates and I feel better. But for a lot of people to start the fasting, it’s scary word: “Am I going to get blood sugar?”, all these different things that they’re concerned are going to happen. I would say if you’re going to do any extended fasting, please talk to your doctor. If you’re on any kind of medication, particularly blood sugar lowering medication – please talk to your doctor before you change your eating. But you lay out in the book what I think is a really clear plan for someone that wants to start working with fasting, so that they can be successful and use this as a protocol to get healthy. Can you talk through your protocol for fasting?

Dr. Gus Vickery (17:23): I sure can. It’s very important to keep it easy. And in the book I did say, don’t get stressed about this. When you learn what fasting actually is, you’re going to be refreshingly liberated. It’s not that you have to go 24, 36 or 48 hours. There is a role for extended fast when you train your body to fast for health, if you want to do that. As an example, one of my patients who I was coaxing towards this because of high insulin, high body weight, metabolic syndrome – he realized fasting was three meals a day, no snacks, with a 12-hour overnight window. That for him was fasting because it was a significant deviation from his eating pattern before. And that’s a traditional way of eating three meals a day; that’s not that hard. And when he learned that, he was like, “I can do that.” And of course it wasn’t long before he was doing 14 and 16-hour fasts because his body developed the skill. So I tell people, first you’re going to take your time. This is a skill that your body has within it to use, unless you have certain medical conditions. We’re making that medical disclaimer. If you have true medical hypoglycemia based on metabolic conditions, then this isn’t for you. But for everybody else, just about, this will work. So first of all, recognize you’re going to be patient with yourself and that you’re trying to achieve a specific end, which is metabolic flexibility and freedom from food and eating behaviors, and other improvements in health. 

The first easiest way to do this is to even look at it as a 12-hour window as a fast. You can use any 12-hour window, but one of the easiest is just to use your overnight window. You basically allow yourself to not snack after dinner and go to bed, and simply not eat the next morning until it’s been 12 hours from when you finished. Almost everybody can do that without much of a difficulty. The challenge for some will be that they were having ice cream at night. That’s not an issue with your ability to manage the hunger. That’s a craving. I think you want to talk about that in a little bit. So first of all, just extend your evening fast as skipping breakfast. You can start with a fast after breakfast or lunch if it works better for you. You could go from lunch to breakfast the next morning, but just consider a 12-hour window. Try to eat two or three meals a day and eliminate snacking. For some people just eliminating the snacking can be the beginning of fasting. When you get really good at this, you might want to go for 24, 36-hour fasts, especially if you’re trying to reverse weight issues, but don’t do that until you can do 16 or 18 comfortably. 

Now, don’t force fasting into your life when conditions don’t favor fasting. Don’t fast for your spouse’s birthday party. Don’t fast for Thanksgiving feast. Fast when it’s suitable for you, when it’s going to work socially. My fasting days are my work days, when all I really want to do is stay focused and productive and I don’t want to have to take time to eat. And then I can stop and really enjoy it with my family. Stay well hydrated while fasting. Most people fail because they become thirsty and dehydrated and they mistake dehydration for hypoglycemia. So they think they have lower blood sugar, but actually they’re just dehydrated. Drink plenty of water. Don’t overeat when you break your fast. When you first start to eat again, just eat a smaller meal. Give your body some food and give it a chance to digest. People have this mythological view that if you fast, you’re always going to end up becoming too hungry and then you’re going to overeat, you’re going to binge eat, and that’s going to create this yo-yo impact, but that’s just not true. Studies don’t bear that out. We tend to not eat as much when we’re actually breaking a fast. You have to expect to experience hunger. You are going to experience it. That’s part of what we’re on a mission to do here, is to begin to experience hunger and not always have to give into it. You’re going to have some physical and emotional discomfort, so you have to be prepared for this and you have to be in your mind determined to work through that. You know hunger is going to come for you, it’s going to come in waves and you have to know that you’re going to drink some water, redirect yourself, do some breathing, do some jumping jacks, something to turn that hunger off. 

Now, if you’re experiencing severe hunger, weakness, dizziness, nausea, sweating, just feeling terrible, brain-foggy – eat. You’re not being forced to do this. Just give yourself something to eat – eat some nuts, eat a small meal if you need to, and then just pick up from where you left off. That is not failure; it’s okay. Your body is leading you and sending you signals. On your non-fasting days, eat normally. Don’t undereat. That is a mistake I see people make because fasting becomes so powerful for people, they can use it to lose weight quickly, because you can use this interrupted calorie deprivation schedule to actually allow yourself to begin to create energy balance that favors weight loss without triggering the area of your brain to go, “Uh-oh. Let’s stop the process.” So it can be very effective. But if you undereat after a prolonged fast, all you’re going to do is the same thing as a reduced calorie diet. You’re not going to get the result you want. So eat normally on non-fasting days. In fact, eat robustly. Enjoy eating, because you’re balancing feasting with fasting. And then kind of vary the rhythm of it. Sometimes it’s 12 hours, sometimes it’s 16. You’re having a great day, you feel good – go 18 hours. But let your body lead you. Don’t try to force yourself through those hard stop moments where your body is actually going into a stress response, because that’s not going to get the result you want. Mostly, just make it a lifelong habit. It doesn’t have to be a 6-week program, a 12-week program. Make this a permanent habit. Don’t fast on your vacations, but then fast when you come back. There are a lot of great books out there on fasting. I like them, I read them, I geek out on this stuff and the physiology, but for most people it’s pretty simple – you’re just not eating. You don’t have to go and have a 90-day program written for you. Just give yourself permission to have longer windows without eating.

Allan (23:32): The core of it, I’ll say, and you say this in the book very well as an addition – if you’re going to keep eating garbage, processed foods, fasting is not going to work for you. Your body’s never going to listen to the signals you give it, that you’re trying to train it to do, because it is not going to understand what you’re eating is food. It’s not going to be properly nutritioned. As a whole, if you’re not eating high quality food, then don’t try fasting. That’s not your solution yet. Start with the high quality food, and then the fasting is where you step it up and say, “Now I’m in control. I’m going to train my body to actually give me the signals it’s supposed to give me, enjoy the food that I want to enjoy, get the nutrition that I need and my body will tell me when it’s time to eat.” And now you’re not locked into this, “I have to eat now because it’s 5:00 or 6:00 in the evening. It’s dinnertime.” It’s like, if you’re just not hungry when you know you’ve gotten the nutrition you need, don’t eat or have a small meal if you feel like you just need to make it through the night. But in a general sense, your body will start to actually say, “You’re hungry; go get some nutrition. You’re full; stop eating.” You train your body to do those things. You’ll understand what actual hunger feels like, and when you start to understand it, it’s not that scary. We have this abundance of food. And there is an initial, “Oh my gosh, I’m hungry. I need to eat”, but then you realize there’s food everywhere. I’m not going to not have food, unless we’re going through some kind of zombie apocalypse, but we’re not anywhere near that right now. And fasting will actually make you better in a zombie apocalypse.

Dr. Gus Vickery (25:22): That’s right. It is an essential survival skill. Our bodies are well designed for it, but you’re exactly right about the “eat real food” first. I think I’m very emphatic in that point throughout the book. A couple of times I actually equate it to smoking cigarettes, and some people might think that’s extreme. I don’t think it is, when you look at what cigarettes do versus what junk foods do to the body.

Allan (25:45): More people are dying of type two diabetes and obesity than lung cancer. So I think the math is there.

Dr. Gus Vickery (25:54): The math is there. Basically low quality foods don’t provide you nutrients, they directly trigger inflammatory and stress responses in the body, they are disease-causing agents, and they have been engineered to trigger the reward system and be addictive. It’s not that different than a processed cigarette with nicotine. So, people have to get their mind around that, just like a smoker has to quit smoking. I don’t judge them. If they were introduced at a young age to tobacco, it’s very hard. But I can’t stop their lung disease if they don’t stop smoking. If someone is metabolically sick because of the foods they eat, until they can actually get away from those foods, they’re going to stay sick.

Allan (26:33): When I first got into this journey, my first step in was Paleo, which is going to the whole food thing, and I said I’m not going to bread. And I’m not going to lie, I actually had dreams about bread. I would wake up in the morning like I could smell fresh cooked bread coming off of that dream. I was actually dreaming about being in a bakery, eating all the bread. When I first woke up, I’d just want some bread. But I didn’t have any bread in the house because I knew who I was and I knew if I have bread in the house, I’m going to have a craving for it and I’m going to run in there and start eating bread. When someone feels themselves being drawn in to a craving, what are some strategies, what are some things that we can do to get past that, to not fold to that creating?

Dr. Gus Vickery (27:31): I have an entire chapter trying to explain that craving loop and at least giving a couple of solutions for it, because it’s so important. When you’re dealing with craving, you’re not dealing with true hunger for whatever it is you’re creating. What you’re dealing with is a very strong central nervous system-based feeling. It’s a feeling. Craving isn’t a thought, it’s a feeling. And feelings are more powerful than thoughts. We know that. We act and behave based on our feelings, not our thoughts. I thoughts do inform our feelings over time. With craving, we tend to look at it through the lens of willpower: “I have to overcome that.” One of your recent podcast guests talked about how you’re not going to win the fight with willpower. That’s exactly right. Willpower is an important skill and it should be cultivated, and there are ways to cultivate it. It’s an executive function skill and we should cultivate it, but you can’t rely on it to overcome powerful feelings based on deep desires. In order to understand that craving, you have to understand a little bit about the human reward system. I won’t go that deep into it, but it’s a more primitive system in our brain. It works off of a euphoria signal to reproduce behaviors that would be consistent with survival. Of course, in our modern times now, we’re able to concentrate certain elements that have a powerful effect on the human reward system in a very unnatural way. They hyperstimulate the reward system. So we get this kind of overwhelming euphoric response, but it’s very brief, it’s short lived, and then we have an immediate need to get back and get that euphoria again. 

What we know is that the more sense of wellbeing you have… And our wellbeing is not euphoria. It’s associated with pleasure, but it’s different. Wellbeing are positive emotions like gratitude, contentment, peace, joy, etcetera. The more wellbeing we have, the less susceptible we are to the need for the euphoric response, the less susceptible we are to have to smoke a cigarette or drink too many drinks or take a drug or whatever it is that gets us. So, one strategy is cultivate wellbeing – cultivate gratitude, peace and joy, which is done through the activities that we know honor our ancestral design. Exercise, social engagement, faith-type spiritual exercises, meditation and breathing, listening to music, playing games – all the things that we love to do naturally. That gives us wellbeing, which reduces the need for a more primitive, “I’ve got to have a little fixed-type response.” But now let’s go ahead and say, “I know that when I encounter foods concentrated in salt, sugar and fat, I’m going to have a strong craving. And not only that, I don’t have to encounter them. I could be sleeping and already have that craving.” So, the craving exists apart from whether it’s even in our environment, but we know that it’s there, so we have that understanding. We’re not dealing with just a thought construct. You can’t just think your way out of this. You know you don’t want to give in, but you can’t seem to control that. You’re dealing with a strong feeling. 

There is a mindfulness-based approach that was proven, it was used. It became what’s called the 4–step UCLA method for people with OCD who have strong urges they can’t control. And what it involved was, one, detection or awareness – you have to understand what it is you’re dealing with. And then you have to actually label it correctly. Instead of assigning negative value to yourself, because you struggle with this behavior: “I’m going to binge eat. I feel terrible about myself. I have no self-control. I’m a fat bastard”, as you said earlier, you actually have to begin to depersonalize it. You’ve got to get all of that emotion out of there. So you basically see it for what it is and you recognize that it’s just a rogue circuit in your brain that you probably didn’t even choose for yourself. At some point you got exposed to elements you were susceptible to that trigger this hyper response, and it’s been happening for years, if not decades, and of course it’s going to keep happening. It has nothing to do with you. It’s kind of in control. So, you depersonalize it and you relabel it. It is not you; it’s just this rogue brain circuit. But then you have to take the next step. What we just did is we used our cognitive powers over the situation, but now we have to use a new power. You have to refocus, and this is where in response to that craving, you substitute a new behavior. The main pushback I get from people is that this sounds too simple to them, like, “How could it be as simple as when I crave bread that I go work in my garden, or I start writing? It couldn’t be that simple. I would’ve figured that out on my own.” Actually it’s simple but it’s not easy, because what you’re doing is you’re creating a new brain circuit, an actual new automated habit response to the original craving or urge you’re experiencing. When you do that, you pick an activity that gives you wellbeing, that’s familiar to you, that you already know you enjoy and that’s easy for you to do. So a binge eater, for example, one, they don’t have the stuff in the home. They start to feel that strong 5:00 craving, and as soon as they feel it, they don’t react to it, they don’t get emotional. They simply go take a walk with their dog. They go for 15 minutes, give themselves 15 minutes of space to walk with their dog in the woods. And for the vast majority of people that craving will have already reduced by 90%.

Allan (32:48): That’s exactly what I did. I didn’t have it in the house, so I would just put my headphones on, listen to some music that’s uplifting, and start walking. I would just go for my walk. And my walks started out fairly short, but after a while sometimes they would be a two-hour walk, depending on what I was going to do that day. But I got so much joy out of the walk that when I got back, bread was the last thing on my mind. I wasn’t thinking about bread anymore. I got out of bed and I was like, “Okay, get your stuff on. Get your headphones on and head out the door.” It does works. But you’ve got to break that cycle by, like you said, seeing it for what it is and then setting a different intention that’s going to benefit yourself and your wellness. You use a very similar approach to stress management. Can you talk about your approach to stress management? I’ve spent a lot of time in the last two years really focused on that one core thing for myself, because that was I think the last piece that I needed to put in place for myself and then realized how important it was when I actually started doing some work on it. Can you go through that model with the stress management?

Dr. Gus Vickery (34:08): Yeah. As we discussed earlier, stress is very powerful and it’s all around us. I use the term “stress mastery” instead of “management” because I wanted something more than we’re just going to manage our stress. I wanted us to become masters of stress response.

Allan (34:20): Bingo! I like that.

Dr. Gus Vickery (34:22): Exactly. I want to make sure we’re clear, we’re focused on chronic bad stress. We’re not talking about the good stressors and the occasional challenges in life that we’re well suited to, but the stress that’s making us sick and effecting us emotionally. Once again, you have to use your cognitive powers. Your ability to think and reason and understand is a very important piece of this. When you apply cognitive power to change thoughts, feelings, emotions, behaviors, you’re talking about something called “cognitive restructuring”, which is foundational to cognitive behavioral therapy, which can help with anxiety, panic and depression. Cognitive restructuring works pretty well for any condition where you actually can begin to change outcomes just based on your understanding. Stress is actually one of those that it works well for. Cravings, because of the strong feelings associated with them, you have to apply other things besides just cognitive restructuring. 

So the first thing you have to do is detect stress. You have to know how it shows up for you. Does it show up through a bodily symptom like muscle tightness, sweating, palpitation of the heart, headache, fuzzy vision? There are all kinds of different bodily symptoms, gastrointestinal symptoms. You might not have any emotional response to stress at all, but you may feel a whole lot of things in your body. You have to begin to recognize, “This is a stress response. This isn’t just a massive reflux or a sore neck. This is me responding to stress.” Or emotional responses – is it anger, irritability, impatience, melancholy, moodiness, whatever? Whatever your responses are – and it can be both body and mind – you have to detect it as quick as possible, because it’s kind of like getting lost in a forest. The further you go without realizing where you are, the harder it gets to find your way back out and the longer it takes to find your way back out. So those initial feelings are what are going to give you the clue, “I’m entering into a period where I’m starting to become overwhelmed by stress, even if I didn’t think I was.” That’s where you’re going stop and say, “I know how to detect it. I know what I’m dealing with.” And then you move into proper interpretation, because the vast majority of things – somebody arguing with you on Facebook about an issue that’s going to disappear – aren’t worth being stressed about. Whether it’s political, economic, whether it’s a situation of uncertainty you’re dealing with, you’re probably giving it more power over your life right now than it really has. So you have to begin to rightly interpret what is the stress issue. Most people immediately move down catastrophic thinking pathways. They become reactive, emotional, turn off their heart and mind. If there’s some insecurity in the company, they’re going to lose their job and their family is going to be destitute. Then they’re going to live on the street. Actually, there’s a good chance they won’t lose their job, but if they did, they’ll get another job, and even if they didn’t, the family probably won’t be on the street. Most of the negative outcomes we envision will never come to pass. Plus, it’s fruitless to spend our time living there, because we can’t do much about it. 

So detect it, you interpret it properly, and then you reinterpret it properly, meaning you do have some power over whatever the circumstance is. But then you have to use something to turn off the stress response internally. You have to. And that’s where we get into the breathing and the meditation, which I speak about extensively in the book. The reason I do is because it’s a proven expedient pathway to turning off stress responses, to dampening down the sympathetic nervous system and activating the parasympathetic nervous system. So even if you’re going to continue to feel a little irritable or nervous about a situation, you can at least calm your heart rate down, stop sweating and feel more calm physically by simply paying attention to your breath. And even doing perhaps a positive visualization meditation, a form of mindfulness meditation, or something else where you begin to see everything good that you actually have – all the good things that are still surrounding you, regardless of this, which will actually give you a greater power because then you’ll have a positive feeling in your mind that really makes the stress response minimal. But you have to do this daily and you have to be on it, because right now the world as it is will be throwing stress bombs at you constantly.

Allan (38:26): Yes. What happens for me physically and mentally is my higher brain turns off. I can’t seem to think straight. I lose a little bit of me. And I’m not a flight person, I’m a fight, so I suddenly get this desire to just want to strike, to do something to fight my way out of it. It was something as simple as my boss calling me while we were going through three years of layoffs, and my phone rings and my boss wants me to come to his office. I’m immediately wanting to fight because I know this is not going to be a good day. It was not a good day and it’s about to get worse. I step on the elevator and I just start breathing. It was like, “All I can do right now is just breathe and get my mind straight, get myself ready. This is out of my control. Once I understand what he’s here to tell me that, then I’ll figure out what we can do, but it is what it is.” And understanding what I had control over, what I don’t have control over, and then understanding that in the end it was how I let this affect me that was going to have the biggest impact on my career. And then when I got the opportunity, when I was laid off, it was, “Do I really want to go back to that? Do I want to go back to being stressed all the time, to being all the things that go on in corporate life?” And I was like, “No, I’ll figure out something else. I’ll get clients, I’ll do what I want to do, the things that bring me pleasure.” I completely said, “Forget it. I don’t want that in my life.” And I’m blessed to have had that opportunity to say I’m going to walk away from that. But it took me a good long time to get to that point where I would sit down and detect that I was stressing too much and say, “Okay, turn it around. Breathe.” And meditation and breathing were huge, huge helps for me as I was going through that period of my life. And I still use them today – when I feel a little upset, I just go in the bathroom and breathe.

Dr. Gus Vickery (40:43): For some people I know meditation is a real challenge. It took me years of consistent practice to get where I can really love quiet meditation for 20, 40 minutes. But breathing is something everybody can do. Even if they don’t have yet the skill of thought observation, activating the witness and some of the spiritual elements of meditation, they can absolutely begin to control their breath and attend to their breath and calm stress responses.

Allan (41:08): I liked the approach you had in the book to go on to the box breathing and all of that. Those were some great techniques and well worth the purchase of the book just for the breathing techniques.

Dr. Gus Vickery (41:18): Thank you.

Allan (41:19): 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. Gus Vickery (41:32): It’s a great question, and I like your definition. I’m always trying to get people’s definition of “health” because we’ve got to set a high bar for that definition if we want people to pursue it. I like your definition. Forgive me for this brief interlude, but I did think about this. I thought, “What a great question!” And I thought, “What are the usual answers?” And of course there are all kinds of answers. It’s nutritious food – we’ve already talked about that. Movement – we didn’t get into that as much. But you said being able to maintain; it’s like a perpetual getting this. I thought, “What would it be? What would I tell somebody that’s what I wanted them to have?” And I get back to what we’ve been talking about this whole time – mindfulness. 

To me, the first and most important thing is actually you have to desire that. You actually have to start with a mindful deep desire for what you just described. “I want to be fit and feel good and be as happy as I can be every single day.” If you deeply desire that, you build that into your consciousness, then you’re going to naturally choose the foods that are giving that to you. You’re going to naturally get up and move because it feels good. So then you don’t have to have a lot of instructions. So number one would be, stop and meditate on that, and desire it. Stay on it until you have in your mind a vivid picture associated with feeling of, “That’s what I’m after. I want this every single day.” And then play the long game, not the short game. This isn’t, “In six weeks I’ll be the fittest and happiest, etcetera.” No, this is, “Every year I’m going to keep getting happier, healthier, fitter, until the day that my life is done.” So, the long game is that you are going to every single day apply this thinking to your habits, to your daily life. And you’ll do 1% better in each category per day, based on what you’re after. And I have to pick one final thing. So we’ve got mindful desire, the long game, not the short game – you’re on this for the long road. Honestly the final one is not quite so esoteric. If I had to pick one right now, it’s honor your circadian rhythm. Allow your body to actually restore circadian rhythm function, which is intrinsic to everything else that we’re experiencing, which means you have to sleep, and then when you’re awake throughout the day, get natural sunlight. Turn off the devices, turn off the screens, get out in nature and restore circadian rhythm, because often times that restores actual eating behavior and a lot of other factors.

Allan (44:04): Excellent. I actually have my family here for the holidays as we record this. So we are prerecording this, but I have my family here. So as soon as we get off of this call, I am shutting down these computers and I’m going to spend some time with my family and some friends. Dr. Vickery, it’s been so great to have you on the podcast. If someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about the book Authentic Health, where would you like for me to send them?

Dr. Gus Vickery (44:30): They interface with our teaching, my blogs, etcetera, at www.HealthShepherds.com. That’s where I have my blogs, our videos, you can purchase the book. And of course the book is purchasable through any of the online book vendors as well.

Allan (44:48): You also have some 9-week programs and the whole bit out there. It’s a really good site; you should check it out. If you’re traveling, can’t write that down right now, this is episode 367. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/367, and I will make sure to have links there to your site. Dr. Vickery, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

Dr. Gus Vickery (45:12): Thank you so much, Allan. And I appreciate your audience taking the time to listen to this.

As this episode goes live, I have just celebrated my 53rd birthday, so thank you. If you would like to give me a birthday present, there is something special that you could do for me today. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/AAA, and that’s going to take you to a page for the Author Academy Awards. I’m up for an Academy Award in the “Health” category. So if you go to this page, it’s a little complicated, so just hear me out. You want to scroll down all the way to the bottom, because they allow the authors to submit on the same page that they allow to have the voting. So you want to scroll down to the bottom where you see “Voting”, and you’re going to be on page 1 of 15 for that first one. You’re going to want to click that arrow to go over to 6 of 15, and there you’re going to see the books in the “Health” category. You scroll down until you find my cover for The Wellness Roadmap. Go ahead and click on that cover, and that will secure your vote. So you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/AAA. That’ll take you to the page, scroll to the bottom and vote for The Wellness Roadmap. Thank you.

Also, I would really appreciate it if you would consider becoming a patron for the 40+ Fitness podcast. Now that I’m moving down to Panama, I won’t have as much access to some of the resources that I have here in the United States, so things are going to be a little bit tight for me from a budget perspective. I really would appreciate if you could give just a few dollars a month to help out the 40+ Fitness podcast, help me cover the audio production and the show notes. There are full show notes, transcripts for each episode each week. It does cost to do a podcast, they’re not free, so I appreciate any help you can. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Patreon. And anytime you go to the podcast websites, in the sidebar you’re going to see a button. So if you don’t remember this link, at least go to the website for 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Podcast, and on any of the podcast episodes you’ll see it at the bottom down. If it’s on your phone, it would be further down the screen, but you can find the button for Patreon. So, 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Patreon to help support the show. Thank you. 

Another episode you may enjoy

How to make disease disappear with Dr. Rangan Chatterjee
January 28, 2019

Audrey Johns – Lose weight with your instapot

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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  • Judy Murphy

Thank you!

Allan (1:01): Audrey, welcome back to 40+ Fitness.

Audrey Johns (1:05): Thank you so much for having me, Allan. Im 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 someones not saying, Open up a can of this, or buy that. In many cases youre 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. Youre 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, its going to be so much healthier.

Allan (2:03): It is. I knew what an instapot was; Ive never really actually used one. The sad thing is I asked my wife because I was like, Im going to pull this out and try something. Were getting ready to move to Panama, so she sold our instapot.

Audrey Johns (2:19): Oh no! Well, youre 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 were lightening our load as much as possible, so were selling practically everything in this house before we sell the house, or as were 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 didnt actually realize that until I started looking for it. Sadly, that was one of the few times I didnt. 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 didnt actually realize how dynamic and how really good these instant pots are for, one, saving time, because you dont have to be there while its 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. Its one-pot cooking in a totally different way than what weve been used to in the last 10 to 15 years in the cooking industry. Its exciting and it makes cooking more accessible to people who dont really have the time to cook. Ive 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 Im 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 youre an author. What do you write? I said I write cookbooks. Oh, my girlfriend and I, we dont have time to cook. Im 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 Im 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 its 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. Its so easy and it makes it so accessible. If you can learn how to use just three buttons, youre set. Thats all you need to know to cook. Thats really exciting, and I feel like it makes it more accessible to the masses.

Allan (5:10): Id seen it sitting on our kitchen counter. I just had never thought to use it. I have no problem cooking and Im 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 its so versatile, why its 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 theres an instant pot community on Facebook that Im a member of. And people are going on and theyre saying, I got an instant pot last year for Christmas, 12 months ago, and I havent even opened it yet. Im 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 youre 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 its really easy. No matter which model you have, you dont 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 dont 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 cant ruin water. You certainly cant 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 Ive 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. Thats 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. Its 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, its a quick meal. Even on some of the recipes, like on an egg recipe, pretty much as soon as your instant pot has pressurized, youre done. You just turn it off and youre done. So its very fast, very easy. Im 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 cant do that with most other kitchen appliances, except for the slow cooker. Its foolproof. And thats what I really love about this new amazing… I mean its not that new, but its hot and exciting, and its 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, Im sure, sells these things. It gets delivered to our house or we go buy it at a local store. Were getting it out of the box and its going to walk us through doing a water test. That way well know everythings working the way its supposed to, and now were 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 youre 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. Theres a mac and cheese recipe here in my book. Dont 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, youre pulling something out of the freezer or youre calling for pizza. Its one of those areas that you can really be bold and try something new. You cant mess too many things up in the kitchen, especially with electronic pressure cooker. I mean you cant 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. Its so daunting. So I really recommend, dont 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 thats it.

Allan (10:56): Okay. Now, with the pressure, its 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. Its extremely hot. Im 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. Its not going to melt on you, its 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 – dont start your very first experience with an electronic pressure cooker on something that you actually have to release the pressure. Its easy. I will admit the first time I did it, I was a little bit worried, but its not as scary as it sounds. It does make quite a lot of noise. But if that kind of thing freaks you out, dont make an egg dish first off; dont 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 its been heated up and its just been sitting and waiting for you, its not scary to open it up. I really recommend baby steps when it comes to using an instant pot, and then you wont be scared of it and youll be excited and youll want to keep trying new things and youll 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 Im 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 mightve been in there for two or three hours before you get ready to eat, but its 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 daughters 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 dont 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 hadnt even stopped cooking. It wasnt 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 dont have a lot of time or who have a lot on their plates. My daughter will come home from school and Ill start helping her with her homework and Ill forget to cook dinner. And thats me – a cookbook author – I will forget to cook dinner from time to time. And then Im 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. Its amazing. Im 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, its a six-hour ordeal, easily. Ill start in the morning and my wifes like, What are you doing on the stove cooking? I say, Im making some marinara for dinner tonight. Shes like, Oh, okay. Its six to eight hours that Im going to have to cook that marinara down, but in an instapot you can do it in 30 minutes. Thats pretty amazing.

Audrey Johns (15:20): I honestly felt like I was going to be struck down by lightning. I was worried about it. Im 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. Im like, Are you serious? But its because its under pressure. Its essentially giving you six hours’ worth of cooking time in 30 minutes. I still do prefer the long and slow method because thats how my mom and my grandmother made it, but when Im in a rush and I need a quick marinara sauce, thats my go-to. It is so easy.

Allan (15:58): Thats 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 youve got a plant-based dinner ready for yourself in less than 30 minutes. Thats pretty cool.

Audrey Johns (16:15): Absolutely. And its delicious and its packed full of antioxidants. It feels like youre splurging. Theres something about Italian food that even when you make it healthy, it just feels like youre splurging. Or is that just me, Allan, because Im Italian?

Allan (16:28): No, I enjoy Italian food, and thats one of the problems. I dont 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 theres 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, youre making good, high quality food. A good trip to the farmers 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 farmers 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 weeks worth of food in two hours on a Sunday afternoon and then youre set for the rest of the week. Ive 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 cant eat healthy is that they just dont 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, Ill 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 theyre 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 were going to go out. This episode is going to air in January, but were always ending up at a party or at someones house and were having to make food choices that seem somewhat out of our control. Can you share some tips for when were 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. Its simple. First of all, if you know youre going to go to a place thats going to be full of junk food, eat beforehand. I think thats a go-to thats really, really easy. But say for instance you didnt know, and you get there and youre completely overwhelmed, theres tons of food, you dont know whats in it, you dont know whats healthy and whats 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. Youre 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, youre going to end up filling up your plate really fast. Best case scenario – get a salad, because you know whats in it; you can actually see whats in it. If you end up getting some heavily cooked dish, you dont know if theres 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 Im 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. Youve 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 dont know if Im the only one who looks at food like this, but its like thats the best deal there. You go out to dinner, and the steak and the chicken is the same price – I’m getting the steak; Im getting the best deal. When I look at a holiday gathering, I dont 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 lets go for something thats more nutritious, if you can. I know a lot of people look at potatoes and they think starch, fat. But if youre thinking about nutritional value, potato versus a roll – youre going to get so many more nutritious elements from the potato. So have a baked potato. I make in my book the scallop potatoes; theyre absolutely amazing. Theyre 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 its 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, youre 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 theres 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, dont go straight for the champagne or a glass of wine. Wait until youre 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 youre eating, and youll 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 theyre not going to like my answer. But just so theyre hearing it from someone else, can you answer that question for us?

Audrey Johns (24:09): I hope that Im 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 Im stronger. But I am a very firm believer that weight loss is found in the kitchen. Its all about what you put in your mouth. So, go for the exercise, but dont 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 Im a fitness guy and theyre like, You can teach us exercises and we can do these different things. And Im like, Yes, but thats for fitness. Thats 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.” Thats what exercise or training should be about, is helping you do those things. And then yes, if weight loss or fat loss is what youre really wanting, thats going to come from what and how much you eat. So, I completely agree with you that weve got to get our kitchens going if we want to get our waistline down.

Audrey Johns (25:45) Ive 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 dont always want to go. For me, Id rather cook a nice healthy meal. I was trained to understand that and I think its daunting for people to think they have to give up something they love. They would rather add something. I dont 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 cant have, adding in things to your diet that you should be having. Its kind of in that same mentality, that youre adding exercise. Instead of adding exercise, why not add a plant-based meal, one meal a day? One entire meal thats completely all natural, and then go from there. And then keep increasing the amount of vegetables and healthy proteins that youre 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 dont, because they want to eat their cake, they want to eat their bread, they want to have their M&Ms, 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 its a feel-good. Its kind of hard to tell someone, I want you to somewhat deprive yourself, if thats the right way to say it, of not having things while you go on this diet. To me its always the higher the quality of the food youre putting in your mouth, the less of it youre actually going to end up eating, because youre getting all the nutrition your body needs. Youre not going to have these urges to go and eat a whole bunch of bad foods, because your body has what it needs. Its not going to be telling you, Were not getting everything. Go eat everything. Thats just not going to happen for you, and thats why I think its 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, its quick, its easy. As I was reading through the recipes, I thought just about anybody can do this. Theyll need some different pieces, the accessories in some cases, but once they have that kit and they get comfortable with this, its 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 theyre structured, just set the timer, and 15 minutes, 30 minutes later your meal is complete. Its 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 whats right for their body.

Audrey Johns (29:17): Absolutely. Im in complete agreement with you. The instapot will open up healthy cooking to the masses just because its so simple. And you can find them everywhere now. They sell them at my grocery store. Im seeing them absolutely everywhere. So, Im sure the majority of your listeners whove never heard of an instant pot, its going to be like once you see an orange car and then all you ever see is orange cars. Youre like, Wow, I did not realize there were so many orange cars on the road. Now youre going to start seeing instapots everywhere. So, everybody can say “Thank you” to Allan and Audrey for this.

Allan (29:54): I think its a great tool. When I get settled down in Panama, well probably be looking for one. Im like you – not the Italian piece, but I actually like sitting in the kitchen and cooking. Ill do other things while Im cooking because its 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 its how I can get good food in my body. Im 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, Ive 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 dont have to worry about lighting a fire in your kitchen. Its great for that. Even when you are in your kitchen… Its cold here right now and Im 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 dont 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 Im 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 Im 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 thats 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 its something like 17 calories per glass. Youre basically burning that off as youre drinking it, its 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. Its easy, its delicious. Theyre 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): Theres 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. Youre going to feel better, youre going to be fit, youre going to feel happy, just because you will always be satiated and youll 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. Youll be full, your metabolism will be roaring. Your body is mostly water; youve got to give back to your body. And finally, no negative self-talk. I know Im speaking to a man here and Im 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 dont need to be putting yourself down. With that said, I was recently on the cover of a magazine. I didnt recognize myself. I was so heavily altered on the magazine. So dont believe what you see out there. Dont hold yourself to really high standards of heavily Photoshopped pictures. Just be proud of yourself. Be proud of yourself that youre trying, be proud of yourself that youre 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 thats 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. Its 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 youre 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 Ill 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 cant 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.

Theres 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. Im only going to be able to do this for about another week, because I am headed down to Panama in February and I wont be able to ship books from there. So go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Hardbound or 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Paperback. Thank you.

Also, theres time right now for you to go out there and get your lab results from YourLabwork. Ive 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 Im going to use to compare the things that Im doing for my health and wellness and see what thats going to do with what the results are. Im not going to be looking at the scale because the scale doesnt 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 youre 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 youre 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.

Another episode you may enjoy

Lose weight by eating with Audrey Johns
January 21, 2019

Fix your digestive issues with Tamara Freuman

Do you suffer from a bloated belly, IBS, diarrhea, or another digestive issue? Our guest today, Tamara Freuman has the answers in her new book, The Bloated Belly Whisperer.

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  • Judy Murphy

Thank you!

Allan (1:00): Tamara, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

Tamara Freuman (1:04): Thank you.

Allan (1:05): Your book is called The Bloated Belly Whisperer. I know from reading the book why you now have that, for a lack of a better word, nickname, but thats also what youve called your book. Can you give us a little bit of the backstory on that?

Tamara Freuman (1:20): Sure. I am a dietician and I work in a gastroenterologists office in New York City. And pretty much from day one when I started working there, patient after patient would come to me complaining of bloating. Early in my career I really had no idea what this thing was. Its not something you read about in your textbooks when youre learning in dietitian school. I just had to ask a ton of questions and understand what was going on, and it became very clear to me very quickly that not all of these people were talking about the same experience or the same problem. As my practice progressed and as my career progressed, I understood that bloating really meant many different things, but there were about 10 causes that I kept seeing over and over again, and they started to look very familiar. It got to a point where within the first 10 minutes of talking to someone who was bloated, by asking certain questions and gathering certain information, they were clues that would lead me very quickly to the right cause and therefore the right treatment. Once I figured out how to figure it out, I thought Id better put this down in writing so that other people can really benefit from this knowledge.

Allan (2:30): And thats what I think is really cool. Having written my own book, I think as a writer youre like, Gosh, I really do hope they read this first chapter”, because this first chapter is really critical. I know so many people are going to say, I have constipation so Im just going to flip to that chapter and get to the rub of what I need to do. But you start off the book with a quiz. The reason I like the quiz is, its looking for those other signs that someone might be missing because they have the most significant symptom in mind, versus they might actually have two of these things going on at the same time and the quiz is actually going to help them do that. You kind of define how you started developing this quiz, but can you tell us about the quiz, how it works and why its valuable for the reader to take some time to go through it?

Tamara Freuman (3:28): The reason I developed this quiz is because the way that it works when a patient comes into my office is I have an hour to sit with you and ask you a million questions. And I do – I ask everything, and youll answer something, and that will lead me to another question. Theres sort of this brain algorithm thing going on that leads me into this Choose your own adventure decision tree, and then I land at the answer. I cant do that in a written book, so what I had to do is come up with the next best thing, and this quiz really is that. Its, how do I distill that very complex diagnostic back-and-forth into something that you can take by yourself at home and that will lead you to, if not the most accurate answer, the top three. And then maybe you can pick from the top two or three things that you sound like and recognize your own experience. So the quiz is the best chance that I have to approximate an in-person patient consultation with a reader sitting in their own home.

Allan (4:24): I really enjoyed going through the quiz and looking at the questions and the potential of what I would have answered at certain times in my life. I have the great fortune right now – Im very clean with what I eat, so I dont tend to suffer from bloating much. But I can say in my past, I definitely have had multiple symptoms of bloating, constipation and those types of things. I recognize the nature of it, so it was really cool to go through and say, Yeah, thats what I felt. Thats how that was. That wouldve been my diagnosis at that point in time. I do want to go through what I think are some of the more common ones that I hear from friends and family and sometimes from clients. The first one that got my attention, and I have a couple of questions as we dive into it, is indigestion.

Tamara Freuman (5:18): Yes.

Allan (5:20): I see commercial after commercial after commercial of, Take this pill, take that pill. This is quick; thats going to take forever, but that lasts forever. And go back and forth. Can you talk about the symptoms someone would have and then what some of the treatments are that they can do?

Tamara Freuman (5:37): Sure. Indigestion, the way I talk about it in the book, is the sour stomach bloat. And thats really any kind of acid-related malady. This is one of the more common types of bloating that originate in the stomach. One thing I try to do in the book is really separate bloating that originates in the stomach, which is its own beast and it has its own remedies, versus bloating that originates in the intestines, which has other causes and other remedies. So, of the types of bloating that originate in the stomach, indigestion, acid-related issues are a problem. And whats tricky about them is they can be very situational. Patients have a really hard time identifying whats going on and whether there are food triggers, because theyll say, Sometimes I eat this food and Im fine. And then another time I eat that food and Im miserable. Am I intolerant to that food or not? Whats going on? And the issue is, our stomachs reaction to food is very contextual. It depends when we last ate. Has it been five, six, seven hours since we last ate and we are empty in acid? Or did we just eat three hours ago a big giant fatty meal and were still a little bit full from that meal? You could eat the same food in either of those contexts and have a really different reaction, versus youre on a normal meal schedule, its been about four hours since youve eaten, youre a little bit hungry – not over hungry, not over full. You eat that meal and you have a third reaction. And so, this idea that your body can overreact with acid, or you could have a loss of pressure in that muscle that separates your stomach and your esophagus, because you ate a lot of fat or you had some alcohol with the meal and that meal is refluxing on you. The trick to classic indigestion is really understanding the foods that trigger it, the contextual triggers of it in terms of your hunger level or fullness level, and therefore how to manage it with food choices, with supplements, with medications.

Allan (7:33): Okay. I like how in the book youre very clear with, Lets start with the How and what we eat. You went through a process of saying if you suffer from indigestion, youre going to want to eat more regularly, smaller meals, those kinds of things. And if that doesnt quite solve all the problems, then there are some medical things we can do, as far as over-the-counter and prescription stuff. Can you walk through the food choices, the size and timing of meals, and then some of the other treatments?

Tamara Freuman (8:08): Definitely. As a dietician, the way that I would typically approach people with acid indigestion is Im looking for foods that empty the stomach rather expeditiously. The way I describe it is your stomach is basically a food blender. Its main job is to liquify your meal, so that that liquid meal can trickle out of the stomach and move on into the digestive journey. I tell my patients, Envision how much stomach acid does your stomach need to secrete, and how much time and churning does your stomach blender have to churn in order to liquify a giant kale salad versus to liquify a kale smoothie. Same food, same ingredients, very different physical properties. So, you can envision what type of work and what kind of time and what level of acid will be required to liquify certain textures of foods, certain volumes of foods as compared to others. So the first thing that Im really looking at with my patients is how much volume do we eat in a sitting and what are the physical properties of that meal? Can we tame the texture? Can we tame the volume? Break it up – instead of having a big lunch at 12:00 and then nothing again until dinner at 7:00, can we have a small lunch at 12:00 and then the second part of your lunch at 3:30 or 4:00, and then another small meal at 7:00, so that youre never too hungry and overeating and then never too empty and starving, so youre going to overeat because youre starving. So, thats one thing that I do. The second thing as a dietitian that I care about is fat. Fat really does have an effect on the sphincter muscle that keeps your stomach contents in the stomach and prevents them from refluxing into the esophagus. Really high fat meals can relax that pressure so that food is more likely to reflux. So for a patient who does have that classic indigestion, Im looking at fat, Im looking at frequency of meals, volume of meals, and texture. For many, many patients, that gets them really far in terms of symptom control, even without any medications.

Allan (10:20): You also threw alcohol in there, because that can be symptomatic as well, right?

Tamara Freuman (10:25): Absolutely. Alcohol has a very similar effect as fat in terms of relaxing that muscle, and that can make reflux more likely.

Allan (10:35): Most of the medications that are on the market actually reduce the stomach acid at some level. But Ive read, and maybe its wrong and Im misreading something here, that sometimes we would have some of these symptoms because our stomachs not producing enough acid.

Tamara Freuman (10:54): Thats a really common Internet misconception thats out there. I know that there are a lot of beliefs that we’re not having enough stomach acid and we should take apple cider vinegar or other things to acidify the stomach, or even supplements. Theres one called Betaine HCL that I see people use a lot. Theres really no evidence to support any of this; in fact, there is some pretty strong evidence to support the contrary. Frankly, if you ask any person who has suffered from chronic acid indigestion or more serious chronic acid reflux disease, they feel better when they take a TUMS, they feel better with acid reducers. So, I havent really seen any evidence to support this idea that not enough stomach acid would cause acid indigestion.

Allan (11:41): Thank you for that. Like I said, that kind of confused me when I was reading through. I thought we were supposed to go away from the TUMS and go towards taking HCL to push our stomachs to do the digestion faster, if you will. But I guess not. Thank you. The next one I want to talk about, which I think is also very common and actually very uncomfortable for a lot of folks because it makes it sometimes difficult for them to feel comfortable leaving the house, is constipation.

Tamara Freuman (12:12): Yes, constipation is a big one. Its really common, and also I think a lot of people who are constipated don’t recognize that theyre constipated. I have a lot of patients who will come to me and theyre complaining of bloating, and when I go through my little back-and-forth algorithm in my brain, it sounds very much like what I call backed up bloating, or being full of stool. And theyll say, No, no, no, Im not constipated. I go to the bathroom every day. Theres this idea that if you move your bowels every day, you couldnt possibly be constipated. And thats not true at all. You could move your bowels, but move them incompletely, and still move your bowels every day and wind up having a very high stool burden or a very large backlog of stool hanging out in your colon thats unable to really be passed. And so, sometimes people can be constipated and they dont even know it.

Allan (13:02): Okay. So how would someone know the difference between normal constipation and something where theyre not completely getting rid of all the poo?

Tamara Freuman (13:12): The classic constipation, what most people recognize as constipation is, I dont go every day. I might skip a day, I might skip two days. My stools are really hard. There are these hard little balls, or I have to strain incredibly much to go. And when I go, I feel like I didnt get it all out. Thats the typical experience of constipation that most people who have that will recognize that theyre constipated. But there could be people who have extremely high fiber diets, for example. Theyre putting a lot of stuff into the pipeline and they go to the bathroom once a day. And its like a smallish to medium, formed normal size stool – in other words, putting more stuff in than is coming out. Someone on a really, really high fiber diet might need to go to the bathroom three or four times a day to keep up with the input. Sometimes if youre just going one time a day with a very high fiber diet, and its not an incredibly large amount of stool, you might be falling behind. Thats something people might not recognize is going on and then they dont understand why theyre so bloated.

Allan (14:17): Thats because the fibers picking up extra water and making up some girth to what youre digesting, versus not.

Tamara Freuman (14:27): Right. Fiber by definition is indigestible, so fiber that goes in must come out. We cannot break it down, we cannot absorb it. With fiber, what goes in must come out, and if a lot is going in and not a lot is coming out, then you might be outpacing your ability to eliminate it, which could happen for a variety of reasons. Maybe you have a slow colon, which can happen. Maybe your pelvic floor muscles arent working optimally and youre unable to pass large amounts of stool. There are lots of reasons that could happen.

Allan (15:01): I actually had a green smoothie yesterday for lunch, and Ive already gone twice today. So, I think the fiber is working its way through me quite quickly.

Tamara Freuman (15:13): It is. And I love that were at a place in our relationship where we can share these things with each other. Thats so great!

Allan (15:21): Its funny, because actually theres another author that Im interviewing and hes pretty heavy into the fiber stuff. Even though I do the keto, Im going to work a little bit more on getting my greens in, particularly the leafy greens with the fibers. I did do a fruit smoothie yesterday, Im going to do a smoothie today and see how that works for me.

Tamara Freuman (15:43): Excellent.

Allan (15:44): Alright. So, someone comes to you and they are in fact constipated. What can they do now to help themselves?

Tamara Freuman (15:53): The trick with constipation is, its really important to understand, if you can, the nature of the constipation. You can be constipated for more than one reason, as I alluded to before. For example, one thing is you just dont eat enough fiber. Thats the low hanging fruit – nothing in, nothing out – so, thats a more straightforward fix. Some people are constipated, like I said, because their colons are really, really slow; it takes a really long time for stuff to move through them. And the longer waste spends in your colon, the more dried out it can become, so that can be a cause for constipation. Some people, their motility is fine. Things move through them at a proper pace, at a normal pace, but the muscles involved with defecation arent coordinating properly – they cant relax and let the stool out, or their muscles are too weak and they cant propel enough force to get the stool out. There are all sorts of reasons that someone could be constipated and typically a dietician or a doctor will start with some of the more likely causes. Theyll look at the fiber, they might do a little bit of an-over-the-counter laxative thing and see if that does the trick. And for many people with a slow transit constipation or inadequate fiber, that is a really quick and easy fix. But if youre someone that is on a high fiber diet and youve taken magnesium supplements or MiraLAX or a senna tea or something – those low level laxatives, and literally they havent done a thing for you – then we have to start wondering whether your musculature can really support healthy defecation, and maybe get an evaluation from a gastroenterologist of your pelvic floor function to see, because all the laxatives in the world and all the fiber in the world aren’t going to help if there is some faulty plumbing and things cant get out.

Allan (17:47): Okay. Typically Ill have some coffee in the morning, and that seems to be a stimulant that gets my whole digestive system working rather quickly. So, that is something they could also consider – some caffeine in the morning?

Tamara Freuman (18:05): Its actually not the caffeine. Its the coffee. Theres a compound called chlorogenic acid that is in regular coffee and also in decaf coffee, and that is what stimulates the colon to kind of perk up and move along. You could get that benefit from both a regular coffee and a decaf coffee. Whereas even a caffeinated tea will not have as strong of an effect because it doesnt have the chlorogenic acid. I know a lot of people don’t drink coffee because they say, Im caffeine sensitive. The caffeine doesnt agree with me, so I cant drink coffee and therefore I cant benefit from the gut stimulating properties of coffee. And I always tell them decaf works too. If you enjoy the taste of coffee and youre willing to have a decaf, get on that because it will help.

Allan (18:51): Cool. That was in the book; I just actually forgot about it. I guess the other question that came up as I was reading through, because I had a guest on once that swore by coffee enemas. I know enemas are a way to help with constipation from time to time. What are your thoughts on coffee enemas?

Tamara Freuman (19:11): Enemas in general will promote emptying. Ive had patients who’ve needed to use enemas regularly because their pelvic floor muscles dont work well or because they have extremely pathologically slow transit, and enemas on a regular basis are the only way that theyre able to get some relief from their bloating – enemas, whether its coffee or water or salient or whatever. My understanding for the few patients Ive had that have done coffee enemas – it was really about an alternative delivery system of caffeine, because they were not able to tolerate coffee by mouth. Once I had a patient who had these terrible migraines and caffeine really helped her with her migraines, but she couldnt drink coffee; it gave her this awful, awful acid reflux. So, she happened upon the solution of coffee enemas as a delivery system for caffeine, and that seemed to work for her. So my understanding of a coffee enema in terms of constipation relief – it probably has much more to do with the enema and probably a lot less to do with the coffee.

Allan (20:12): Okay. Any other thoughts if someones going through constipation that they can do besides the changing and making sure theyre getting plenty of fiber, maybe taking some of the soft laxative formula or perhaps enemas, that we could consider if were looking for treatment options?

Tamara Freuman (20:32): What I would say about the fiber question is, if you are someone who does have a pelvic floor function disorder, eating less fiber until your pelvic floor muscles have been rehabilitated through treatment might actually make it better, not worse. The fiber is a little bit tricky, which again comes back to this idea of, if more fiber doesnt feel better, there may be a reason for that. And for some people less fiber may be better. Theres another thing that is a little bit underrecognized with constipation, and that is position on the toilet. There is something out there called a Squatty Potty, which is basically an overpriced stepstool that you put in front of your toilet and it raises your knees so that when youre sitting in a toilet, youre in a more squatting position. That is our bodys more preferred natural position for pooping. The pelvic floor muscles are optimally aligned when we are in a squatting position. Particularly for people who have pelvic floor problems, getting those knees up with a stepstool of some sort while youre going to the bathroom can really make a difference.

Allan (21:34): I should reiterate, because I think a lot of people stop their squat real early. So just being seated is not necessarily the squat position. Were talking about your bottom being a little lower, so that the hip crease is below your knees. And yes, the Squatty Potties put you into that natural position while youre on the toilet if you are having some issues. That’s actually why the guy invented Squatty Potty. I think he said his mother was having some issues and thats why he came up with it. Its cool, but it is just a stool. And then I guess the last area I really want to get into, as far as some of the things that we would deal with that I see from time to time, is carbohydrate intolerance. Can you get into that a little bit?

Tamara Freuman (22:23): Sure. Carbohydrate intolerance is any time that you have digestive distress because of a poorly absorbed carbohydrate. There are these different families of carbohydrates that human beings may be inclined for one reason or another not to absorb very well. And I think the one that most people are familiar with is lactose intolerance. I think its pretty common knowledge at this point that for a large segment of the population, once were out of our teenage years or out of our 20s, we start producing less of the digestive enzyme lactase that we need to absorb milk, sugar or lactose. As a result, when we have too much dairy, especially high lactose dairy, we can get really gassy, we could get bloated, we can have diarrhea. Thats one that were very familiar with, but there are other carbohydrates that we could also be intolerant to. Another one is fructose. There are these special transporters in our gut that are supposed to take fructose out of the gut and some people have more of them than others. So if you have a really high load of fructose and you dont have enough transporters to take it out of your gut, youre going to have very similar symptoms as lactose intolerance. And the trick to some of these carbohydrate intolerances is the symptoms dont onset immediately after the lactose or the fructose or the offending carbohydrate. It takes at least four hours and typically closer to six to eight hours, because the symptoms of malabsorption dont happen until that sugar or carbohydrate makes it all the way to your colon, and that takes a while. So what can happen is someone might experience the onset of gas at 3:00 p.m. and theyll look and be like, What did I just eat? But really what they should be looking at is what did they eat for breakfast? And there are other carbohydrate intolerances that Im seeing more and more of as well, especially with some of the special diets and the new products coming out that are sugar-free, low carb. Theres a lot of use now of sugar alcohols – things like sorbitol, erythritol, xylitol. People like them a lot because theyre natural or naturally derived. They have no calories, they dont raise your blood sugar, and so youre seeing them in a lot of sugar-free, low carb, even some keto products. The problem is when you have a lot of them in your diet, they can exert a very similar effect as a lactose intolerance or a fructose tolerance because human beings dont absorb them well. So, those too can produce gas, bloating, diarrhea, things like that. There are these different families of carbohydrates that can produce those symptoms.

Allan (24:51): Thats going to be a function of doing a food log and looking at symptoms and trying to find that connection.

Tamara Freuman (25:01): Definitely. What I tell people is a food and symptom journal for a week, 10 days, where you record the time of what you eat, everything, and the time of onset of symptoms. And what youre going to want to do is look back at four to eight hours before your symptom onset, because very often thats where it originates. Thats especially so for carbohydrate intolerance. Not necessarily for other types of bloating, but for a carbohydrate intolerance a food and symptom journal is terrific. It really provides the data. You need to figure it out.

Allan (25:33): In the book you went through several supplements that we can use to help our digestive system do the things its intended to do so we dont have these plumbing issues, for a lack of a better word. Do you mind going through a few of your favorites that would benefit most of us to consider having as part of our diet?

Tamara Freuman (25:57): Definitely. Im not a big pill pusher, Im not a huge supplement pusher. Ill start there.

Allan (26:03): Im not either, but Ill tell you, I get more questions about what supplements they should be taking. I tell them, whole foods first.

Tamara Freuman (26:11): Definitely.

Allan (26:13): And if there are some other issues and you want to optimize, thats when you can start looking to these things.

Tamara Freuman (26:18): Absolutely. If I had to pick the top two that I recommend the absolute most often and the top two that give the most of my patients… If I could only have two supplements to recommend for the rest of my life, which two would they be? They would probably be magnesium and soluble fiber. Starting with magnesium – its an electrolyte, its a mineral, our bodies have a need for it. Its something that we need anyway, but when we take it in higher doses of 350 milligrams or more, it has what we call an osmotic laxative effect. Thats a fancy way of saying it draws more water into the bowel and speeds up bowel transit so that people who tend to be on the slower, more sluggish side, people who tend to have harder stools that are difficult to pass, its magical for them. You take it at bedtime, usually in a dose of 400-500 milligrams, sometimes a little bit higher if needed, and the next morning, it really helps regulate bowels for people who are constipated. And its really safe, its really cheap, its really available. Its something that I recommend a lot, and its just a lot of bang for your buck.

Allan (27:29): I use a ZMA supplement from time to time, but I would caution folks with magnesium. Walk your way into it. You might wake up in the middle of the night and have a “hurry, go” kind of situation. But I do use a ZMA occasionally. The other thing Ive noticed about the ZMA is it gives me these really cool lucid dreams from time to time. I just dream better, and I think probably Im sleeping better with the ZMA. It is also relaxing and helps you sleep.

Tamara Freuman (28:01): Interesting. I dont have all that much experience with it, so its really interesting to get that feedback. I would say that the other supplement that I use a lot is for people with the opposite problem – diarrhea; people who are really prone to diarrhea and this pattern of running back and forth to the bathroom four or five times every morning where they feel like they cant get out of the house. For that, a soluble fiber supplement in the mass market – things like Citrucel and Benefiber; in the more natural market youre looking at things like acacia fiber, Heathers Tummy fiber, things like that. Taking that in the evening at bedtime can really regulate the bowels in the morning, calm down that spasmodic back-and-forth, consolidate all these little pieces that arent coming out at once into one or two complete, calm, normal formed stools that you get out easily and you get on your way. I have to say that for my patients with irritable bowel syndrome that are diarrhea-prone and spasmodic – soluble fiber is just magical for them; they do so well with it. So, I rely heavily on that in my practice.

Allan (29:08): Okay. I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

Tamara Freuman (29:19): I love that definition of wellness and I think its so similar to my own. One thing I see that I think undermines a lot of peoples ability to achieve that definition that you’ve described, is theres a real dogmatism about diet. We kind of adopt these dogmas that, This is bad, this is good. You should eat this way. We all should eat that way, because so-and-so told me that and so-and-so eats that way. Theres this black and white thinking as if all human beings have to eat the exact same diet. I like to really encourage people to step back and take a more global perspective, which is, there are populations all over this big planet of ours who have extremely healthy lives that live into their 100s without chronic disease very, very well, and they eat really different diets. Theres not one diet that all human beings have to eat. And one diet that works for you or for your personal trainer or for your aunt or for your best friend might wreak havoc on you, in terms of digestively, or might be miserable for you because it makes you gassy or you hate the foods on it or its inconvenient for you. There are a lot of reasons why we dont all have to eat the same diet, and I think allowing yourself and opening yourself to the possibility that you could have a very healthy diet and I could have a really healthy diet, and we could have completely different diets, and that is not a conflict. I think thats so important. So thats the one thing, to be a little bit less dogmatic about diet and really be open to the possibility of different paths to good health.

Theres another thing I see a lot that really has a negative impact on peoples relationship with food and eating, which I think impairs wellness. Its this real emphasis on what to avoid, what to eliminate, whats toxic, whats bad, and placing foods into these categories of dietary demons and defining your diet based on what you dont eat. What Ill say is Ill have a patient who could come to me and say they follow a vegan diet or a plant-based diet. That doesnt tell me anything about whether its a healthy diet, because potato chips are vegan, apple juice is vegan. So, defining your diet and good health by what you dont eat, I think is a lot less useful than defining your diet and its helpfulness based on what you do eat. Whats actually going in your mouth? I dont care if youre a vegan, Mediterranean, keto, whatever kind of dietary pattern you follow. Its less about what you avoid and more about what you do eat. You could avoid 50 things in the world that are supposed to be terrible for you, but if youre not eating any vegetables or youre not eating anything with vitamins, your diets not going to be healthy. And so really focusing on putting good stuff in your mouth rather than being so fearful of being poisoned by something that might not be perfect going in your mouth, is I think a really healthy, constructive way to look at your diet.

I think the third one is the importance of routine. We think about diet as being this main key to health, but I think we also forget that sleep plays a really big role. Movement and activity play a really big role. And ultimately for optimal health, our bodies want us to be in a rhythm of consistent meal times, adequate rest, regular movement. When any one of those three pieces of the puzzle are missing, its going to be really hard to have true and complete health and wellness. We talk a lot about diet, but then we stay up too late, messing around on YouTube, and then we get five hours of sleep. Or we skip meals some days and then try to compensate by eating a super healthy lunch, but we didnt have breakfast. I think the best way to really be kind to our bodies and give our bodies what they need is to pay attention to consistent rhythms, routines, meal times, sleep times. Our bodies thrive, I think, when we have these set schedules and our organs know what to expect and have that predictability.

Allan (33:26): Tamara, those were excellent. I love all of those, so thank you for that. If someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about the book The Bloated Belly Whisperer, where would you like for me to send them?

Tamara Freuman (33:39): I have a website – TheBloatedBellyWhisperer.com. Theres information about the book. I have a lot of my old newsletters, where I sound off on things that are on my mind and important to me. There are links to things that Ive written. I write a lot online for U.S. News and for Self, and so links to a lot of those articles are on my website. So I think my websites a great place to start.

Allan (34:01): Excellent. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/365, and Ill be sure to have a link there. Tamara, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

Tamara Freuman (34:13): Thank you for having me. It was so fun.

 If you've been struggling with gastrointestinal issues, you know its a big pain. Now Tamara in her book has given you a quiz thats going to help you have the right conversations with your doctor to get this taken care of once and for all. So, I do hope that youll go out and check out that book if you have any issues with your stomach at all.

Also, Ive been telling you this past couple of weeks, during the month of January, I am offering to sell you a signed copy of The Wellness Roadmap. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Hardbound to get a hardbound edition of the book, or you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Paperback to get a paperback edition of the book, a signed copy mailed directly to you. I can only do this during the month of January because in February Im moving to Panama, so hurry up while supplies last, because I did get a shipment of books in and Id like to get them in your hands if youre interested in having a signed copy. So, go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Hardbound or 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Paperback. Thank you.

Another episode you may enjoy

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January 14, 2019

Erin Boardman Wathen – Why can’t I stick to my diet

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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Thank you!

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 done. Like I said, go down to a Quest Center. They’ve got all the paperwork done, they’ve prepaid for your labs there. You just show up, give up a little bit of blood, and they send you the results within a couple of weeks. So go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Lab.

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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