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April 15, 2019

Ultimate age-defying plan with Ashley Boudet

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  • Judy Murphy
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Before we get started today, I wanted to take just a moment to reach out to you and offer this special invitation. I’m opening up my calendar to give you a free 15-minute consult. During this consult, there’s no obligation. I’m there to help you reach your health and wellness goals, so we’ll talk about the things that are getting you stuck. We’ll come up with strategies that will help you be more successful and we’ll look for those little things that you might be missing on your wellness journey. So if you’re ready to do something special before the summer, go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/15min. And I’ll be sure to have that link in the show notes. So, do go to the show notes if you forget this, but it’ll be out there – a free 15-minute consult with me; the same kind of consult that I would normally have with my clients. This one’s going to be for you absolutely free. Go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/15min. Thank you. 

We all want to look and feel our best. In her book, The Ultimate Age-Defying Plan, Ashley Boudet helps us use a plant-based diet to slow the aging process.

Allan (2:19): Ashley, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

Ashley Boudet (2:22): Hi Allan. Thank you for having me.

Allan (2:24): Today we’re going to talk about your book, The Ultimate Age-Defying Plan: The Plant-Based Way to Stay Mentally Sharp & Physically Fit. I can say I have celebrated my 53rd birthday this year. That term “age-defying” starts to resonate with me as I’m kind of turning onto what I would call the second half of life. Age-defying is pretty darn important.

Ashley Boudet (2:51): Yeah. Well, you’re pretty young. It’s been so much fun writing the book and also learning. And it’s a little bit of a relief, I think, to learn that there are things that we can do to stay young. A lot of people look at me and they’re like, “What do you know about aging?” But I thought turning 40 would be a big deal. And I think that even though I try to ignore age, it doesn’t really matter that much. There was something about it a few years ago that was like, “What’s going to happen?” I thought it would be something big or a big change in it. It really wasn’t.

And I think my fabulous coauthor and I would both agree that we both have felt better later – 40s and 50s and on, than ever. So it’s turned into an opportunity in a way. Sometimes eating well, exercising and all of those things come easier when a person is younger and may have a different meaning when you get a little bit older. It’s more of an opportunity, and what I call it is self-care. We talk about this a lot in some of our classes, that the way we really do see the future of medicine is self-care, is learning to take care of yourself and bringing the power back. And that also includes cooking.

Allan (4:08): That’s what I really like, is your book’s unique in this perspective. I’ve seen doctors that have brought in folks to write recipes for them before, but this is a book that you could naturally tell the book knew what the recipes were because they’d eaten it. It was almost, I’m not going to say a love of food, but it really talked about how you can use food to nourish your body. And we’re going to talk about that acronym in a minute, but that food’s a big, big part of that; in fact, the first part of it. But as you’re going through the book, it was telling you if you’re looking at this stuff and you want to get these nutrients in, here are the recipes, here are the page numbers. Go after it. I thought that was really cool because it wasn’t necessarily a prescription. It was empowering someone, like you said, to do self-care.

Ashley Boudet (5:05): Exactly. As a naturopathic doctor, many times, and even in my early training, I would give people lists of things that you shouldn’t, or ways that you should eat or things that could help to support your body. But I learned that actually knowing what to do with those foods was so huge. Some people had no idea how to even make a food taste good. And Mark calls what he does “food activism”. He’s been in this vegan chef world for a long time and he’s very clear that it has to taste good for anybody to even try it, to even begin to bring vegetables into their life on a regular basis. What we also do in our classes, and we wanted this book to be similar to that, where it’s bringing up the experience of the food and the experience of how these things are medicines and how they work in our body.

Allan (5:59): I was looking at something as simple as wanting to get more dandelion root into my diet and saying it looks different; it doesn’t look like all the other lettuce and stuff that I would normally eat in a salad. How do I put it in there and make it a normal part? Some of that I’ve found works really well with smoothies, it also works very well with a salad. But it is a little intimidating when you’re looking at a particular vegetable that you’ve never cooked with before and saying, “Here’s this big purple eggplant. What do I do with it now?” There are some recipes in the book that will actually help me do that.

Ashley Boudet (6:35): Yes, exactly. And we like to encourage people to use these recipes as what Mark calls a “template”. So, to try this recipe and then to begin to get more creative and to bring in another food. Like if you’re doing a green salad or something with greens, how can I make this work with dandelion? And just to start experimenting more, but to kind of give you a place to start, so you can then have years and years of recipes that you can just come up with yourself.

Allan (7:04): There are 175+ of them in this book. So this is a really good start for anyone that does want to either go plant-based or at least make sure they’re getting more plants in their diet, because I think that’s important for all of us. You have an acronym in the book that I really like. I tend to go towards numbers and acronyms; it’s just something I love. You have a really cool acronym – NOURISH. Do you mind going through each of those pieces and what they mean for us?

Ashley Boudet (7:36): Sure. I love the word “nourish” itself, because I feel like it’s a very rich word. It kind of invokes the idea of really taking care of yourself. We like to simplify things. The book has seven ingredients or less; we want to make things really easy and doable for people. At the same time, the information and the idea of this age-defying plan – we want to keep it as simple as possible and to look at the things that we do every day that we feel could be the most powerful and healing. So, NOURISH is pretty easy to remember. I’ll go through them quickly.

N is nutrition – the basic nutrients that we need for our body to work.

O is oxytocin. And I love that. Oxytocin, not a lot of people know what that is, but it is what they call the “happiness hormone”. There was a study not long ago that I think was pretty widespread out there that was talking about how hugging for I think it was 20 seconds or something – like a long hug – actually would increase the levels of this pleasure or calming hormone in your body. There are so many things that also will increase oxytocin. This is one of the first actual studies that looked at the blood levels of the hormone, but anything that makes you feel good. So I put oxytocin in there, and that can be being outside, talking to a friend, even eating a really delicious meal, laughing, things like that. So, that’s the O.

“Use it or lose it” is all about using your brain and your body in the way that they want to be used. So, challenging yourself, getting rid of that idea that it’s too late to try something new. If maybe you thought you might want to do a triathlon – not that that’s something I would do – but use it or lose it. Always moving your body and never feeling like it’s ever too late. Also, challenging your mind as well. And we go into all of these in more detail in the book, obviously.

R is for relationship, and that is the importance of really nourishing your relationships and nourishing the idea of a connection to a community, to how we contribute to our community and how we share our stories with each other. That can be very nourishing.

I is for intention, and by this we mean knowing what’s important to you in life, having a vision for your life, knowing what you value and making choices from there.

Then the last two – pretty obvious, but super important on the top of my list really, are sleep and hydration. Sleep is the importance of getting your body that downtime to shut down and recuperate. In the book, I have some studies that are really interesting about how sleep helps us to detoxify as well.

And then hydration – this is simply getting enough water. This is something that, living in Colorado in a dry climate, I’m always having to remind people of. But really anybody can benefit from sometimes drinking a glass of water when they’re looking and wondering, “What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I feel well?” in many different ways. Also we talk about with hydration, using water as medicine. So this can be taking an herbal bath or jumping into a cool river and having our circulation react to that and really awakening our nerves and our cells in that way.

So, those are the things that we have learned both separately and together over years that have really helped us to stay healthy; things that are important to do every day. They seem very simple and they’re actually very powerful to us.

Allan (11:32): You put a lot of good detail in the book on each and every one of these; some considerations, some things you can do to get this. I really appreciated that this was not just a, “Here’s the acronym” and then, “Go do these things.” You actually provide a lot of guidance in the book on exactly how to do those things.

Ashley Boudet (11:53): Right. We wanted it to be, one, something simple that didn’t feel too overwhelming for people. We also have one page on NOURISH, so we were hoping that could be something people could take with them at the gym or something, just to remind themselves of what all these things mean.

Allan (12:14): Now, one thing that I have not really talked about a lot on the show, and it was kind of surprising because this is episode 377 – we’ve never really talked about kidney and urinary tract health. As I was reading your book I saw the section on that and I was like, “376 episodes leading up to this, we haven’t had this conversation.” So I was really glad that you got into it. The kidneys, obviously we know they filter our blood. We know that if someone gets diabetes, over time they are very likely to cause damage to their kidneys and perhaps need dialysis. Dialysis shops are popping up all over the country pretty much faster than weight loss clinics are. It’s just surprising to me how many there are now. We are not taking good care of our kidneys.

Ashley Boudet (13:12): Right. I wanted to put this in the book, and it’s kind of a small section in the book. I think from the naturopathic perspective, it’s less strange to talk about the kidneys as really important organs of elimination and balance in our body. Even if you look at Chinese medicine, the kidneys are central to health, and something that’s always looked at and addressed, kind of in a different way in Chinese medicine. I wanted to see what people are dealing with when they’re aging, and surprisingly, chronic kidney disease was one of the top 10. This was from the Council on Aging. I looked at the top 10 things that a lot of people are dealing with with aging, and kidney was number six. So it was right up there with heart disease and diabetes, and it’s because it’s connected to all of these things. In addition, all of these things that we can do every day, like drinking enough water and nourishing our bodies and our cells and exercising – all of these things are going to help to support our kidneys as well. So, the idea that I like for people to keep in mind is, it’s really scary to think of kidney disease. I’m not trying to minimize when someone has a very serious kidney disease, but all of these things that we do every day are also protecting our kidneys.

Allan (14:40): So, in many cases, kidney disease is also a lifestyle disease.

Ashley Boudet (14:45): Right.

Allan (14:47): Okay. Now, I’m someone who enjoys cooking. I probably don’t cook enough meals on my own, but as this is going on now and I’m down here in Panama, I’m going to obviously cook more, primarily because there’s not a huge number of restaurants within the distance and I would get very, very bored eating at the same ones all the time. So, I do tend to cook the majority of my meals. And I do recognize that one of the cool things about that is I actually now know what I’m putting in my mouth, so there’s no extra this or that getting snuck in there that I don’t want in my body. Can you talk about some of the value of when we cook our own meals? What does that do for us?

Ashley Boudet (15:36): Yeah, it’s huge. So, Mark has been teaching cooking classes for many years. And around the same time that I was doing my clinicals and telling people about nutrition and learning everything about nutrition was when I realized people need to learn to cook. I need to learn to cook. Honestly, when I was in school and in a doctoral program and was more stressed out, what really brought me to health, one of the main things was taking the time to cook for myself. It turned into really my time. So when we teach classes, I try to invite people to bring in all of their senses. As we’re starting to sauté the onions, to really smell those foods. And when we’re talking about which herbs we’re using, to smell those as well and to look at them and maybe even get a little bit more quiet and think about where these foods came from. So, using all of our senses and using all levels of experiencing that food is something that you can’t get when you just go and get takeout food or go to a restaurant. Some people talking about the prana in a food, and the prana is a very real thing. It’s the energy and you could say the love that someone puts into the food. That actually helps us with digestion and really contributes to our health as well.

Allan (17:00): What I found is that I get a lot of pleasure out of going to a local market, a farmer’s market, and literally sitting there with the person that grew the plant and asking them about how they grow this. You start seeing them just light up. I think they get more joy out of being a farmer at a farmer’s market than they make profit selling at a farmer’s market, because the food’s cheaper and better there. But you know that they picked this this morning. They got up at 6:00 in the morning to make the 7:00 or 7:30 farmer’s market time. They got up; it’s daylight, they picked it. It’s sitting right there. You take that home, rinse it off, and that becomes part of your dinner that night. To me, it’s so fulfilling to know that literally, this was a growing plant this morning and it’s on my plate tonight.

Ashley Boudet (17:56): Right. Isn’t that beautiful? It’s our connection to nature. Food is our medicine.

Allan (18:02): And it didn’t fly in from Chile. Not that there’s anything wrong with Chile, but that’s a long trip. The organic, locally grown produce is going to provide you better nutrition and you’re going to feel better about it when you’re helping out a local farmer with that purchase. A lot of times when I’m talking to folks, they’re saying, “I really struggle to cook for myself because I just don’t have enough time” or, “This doesn’t work out for me. I go into my refrigerator and there’s nothing there.” Can you give us some tricks – I know in the book you had seven – for meal prep and making it a snap?

Ashley Boudet (18:44): Yes. This is very important because it doesn’t matter what someone else thinks you should do; you have to do whatever is going to work in your life. We’re all busy and life keeps us going and going, so one is to think of it as something that you’re doing for yourself; so back to that NOURISH. I could go through the seven from the basic cooking techniques section, but it has to taste good and be easy and be something that you enjoy. This should be an experience that you enjoy. So some of the quick things that you can do to make sure that you’re prepared for having that good experience and it not being a stressful experience, are to prepare ahead of time, of course. We suggest maybe taking a weekend day and in a relaxing way to plan out a menu for the week and think about where you need to get these foods and what you need for that week, and get that ready. Then preparing ahead of time, and also creating an organized space. Maybe Marie Kondo can help – I know everybody’s talking about her these days. But really having a Zen space, is what Mark says helps so much to be able to make those meals more quickly and to have the preparation process be much more enjoyable. So, having a place for everything, knowing where to find what you need, and then planning ahead are some of the simple things that you can do to bring in both flavor and nutrition. We also have a few recipes in the book on making spice blends. The idea is that you can have different dried spices that you can blend together. You can put together parsley, basil, oregano and some other herbs and make an Italian blend, so we’re going to have Italian night. Or you can put together certain herbs with cayenne, and that can be more like a Mexican flavor or an Indian flavor. You can have those at your hand, and that way you can feel like you’re being more creative, but it’s also not too much work to have to do. 

Another thing is – and this is something big that Mark teaches in all of his classes – is the idea of the template. So, the first meal, or some people say, “What’s a go-to meal?” To get nutrition and to also have it be interesting and delicious would be what he calls the “monk bowl”. It’s the idea of a bowl that has a nice balance – so a grain, a green, and a protein. The grain could be quinoa or rice, or even rice noodles or pasta. The green just means any veggies. You want to go crazy on the veggies and have all the different colors that you can imagine, not just green. And then the protein, which can be for a vegan diet something simple, like quick roasted tempeh or tofu, or you can do lentils or beans or something that you can either do in a quick cooker, or even a can or something like that if you’re in a hurry. When you have that base, then you can add extra things. The things that we like to add are some toasted seeds or avocado or something raw, like some raw greens on top, or even sauerkraut or something like that. Those are pretty simple things that you can have in your pantry or in your fridge all the time. And then in a few minutes you can create a really delicious, really nutritious meal that’s not the same as one that you’ve ever had before, because you can mix and match all these ingredients.

Allan (22:27): I liked all of that because this is something like the salad in a jar concept. That’s great, because you could set that up the night before. In the morning when you get ready, you go. So maybe you had the salad for dinner, you had the extra that you put in that jar, and that’s your lunch and you’re set. Now, the one that hit me in the heart that my wife, when she does listen to this episode, she’ll understand – I just mess up so many dishes when I’m cooking. But you guys had the tip in there to try to use the same pan for more than one thing, and a lot of the recipes do exactly that. I thought that was pretty cool, because I’ll go make something and it’d be 15 pans, and forks and spoons and all that dirty. It got me to thinking I am spending time washing these dishes, and in some cases my wife steps in and does that since I did the cooking, but it is time consuming. There are things we can naturally look to that are going to reduce the amount of time. So if time is the issue, you can remove that issue.

Ashley Boudet (23:37): Right. And on other days, when you have a little bit more time, you can make the big mess in the kitchen and make it your art space and go crazy. But on a regular day-to-day, make sure that this can really be a part of your life and not something that you just do every now and then. That’s the person that we were thinking of in this book, and how can we make this as easy as possible?

Allan (23:59): And I liked that a lot of the recipes can be batch-cooked or batch-prepared, particularly with the spice blends. I had never thought of that. My wife thinks I have a spice fetish. We did the move to Panama; I’m throwing out all these spices or giving them away. I just collect spices, because I think they make the meals delicious. As I’m down here in Panama, I have less selection but I’m making it work. Ashley, I define “wellness” as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

Ashley Boudet (24:47): I like that too. I like to break it down into simples. So three things. I’m going to go back to NOURISH, and I would say, nourish your body, one. So this is food, water, movement, challenging – all the things we talked about. Nourish your mind – so your brain, your emotional body – finding joy, quiet, spending time in nature. And then nourish your connections. So, nourish your body, nourish your mind, and nourish your connections. And that’s your connection to family and friends, community, maybe your connection to greater, to all beings that live, and even maybe extending beyond to something greater than yourself, because that’s where we can answer, “Why am I doing all this stuff in the first place?”

Allan (25:38): Those were wonderful. Thank you. If someone wanted to learn more about you and Mark, learn more about the book, where would you like for me to send them?

Ashley Boudet (25:50): Mark and I together is Doctor and Chef, so our website is DoctorAndChef.com. And on that website you can find where to find the book, more information about the book, and we have some resources that are downloads and different information on certain topics that we talk about in the book that we go more in depth on.

Allan (26:11): I liked that there were a good many links to the resources section to dive deeper. The book is a great resource in and of itself, but you have some add-ons that they can go find. So the name of the book is The Ultimate Age-Defying Plan and you can find the links to all of that at 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/377. Ashley, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

Ashley Boudet (26:36): Thank you. It was great chatting with you.

Allan (26:43): I really love having conversations with folks like Ashley, where they’re stretching me to learn new things, to focus on things maybe a different way. It’s always great to get guests on the show that teach me something. I’ve really enjoyed this journey of podcasting, where I’ve been able to read all of these great books and have some really cool conversations. And one of the ways I think I can help you is by sharing that with you. If you find yourself stuck, you just want a boost to make your summer awesome – let’s get on the phone. I’m offering a free 15-minute consult. You go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/15min, and that will take you to my Calendly calendar. There you can book a time and we can get on a phone – it’s a Zoom conference line. Really easy, just you and I, 15 minutes. We’re going to set some strategies, we’re going to go over goals, and I’m going to help you make this fitness journey much, much better. So go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/15min. Thank you.

Another episode you may enjoy

April 8, 2019

Mariza Snyder on essential oils and hormones

Patreons

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

  • Judy Murphy
  • Randy Goode
  • Debbie Ralston

Thank you!

As we age, managing our hormones becomes more and more important and essential oils might just be a part of the solution. Our guest today is Dr. Mariza Snyder the author of the book, The Essential Oils Hormone Solution.

Allan (1:15): Dr. Snyder, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

Dr. Mariza Snyder (1:19): Thank you so much for having me. How are you?

Allan (1:21): I’m doing very well. When your publicist Jimmy reached out to me any had the book, The Essential Oils Hormone Solution, I did a little bit of a double take. I was like, “Hmm, essential oils and hormones.” I want to have more conversations about hormones, because they are such an important aspect to overall wellness. If you don’t have your hormones in balance, you just aren’t going to be well. But I’d never really heard anybody talking about using the essential oils protocols or anything like that to affect hormones. I was really interested to dive into this book and get a better understanding of how essential oils can be used to help manage our hormones.

Dr. Mariza Snyder (2:03): Absolutely. I’m super excited to talk about that today and give some clarity around that topic.

Allan (2:09): The reason that this topic is so important to me is, as we get into our 50s and 60s, a lot of things are going on with our bodies, a lot of things are slowing down. For men, your testosterone’s going down; for women, your progesterone and estrogen start to decline. And that has some fundamental changes in the way that our bodies function. Not to mention, growth hormone, lower thyroid. Everything else seems to slowly be getting out of balance from what was making us feel young and vibrant. You use a term in the book, and I’ve heard this phraseology maybe not exactly this way, but I want to dive into this. You use the term “my body at war”.

Dr. Mariza Snyder (3:00): Absolutely.

Allan (3:02): Can you kind of peel the layers away from that a little bit? For someone that hasn’t experienced some of this stuff, I think it’s important for them to understand this feeling so that they recognize it. I know for men it happens kind of slowly, so I wouldn’t think of it so much as a war, as just a slow, gradual melting.

Dr. Mariza Snyder (3:25): A slow, gradual decline. I’d love to talk a little bit… When I was in practice, what I saw in practice a lot and then what I had personally experienced – as you know, we are hard wired for survival. That is the number one MO of the body. It’s how our brain functions, it’s what our metabolism is driven by. We constantly think about inside of the brain. A really important aspect of the brain, probably one of the oldest parts of the brain is the limbic brain, the limbic system. Your limbic system is driven by an autonomic response and we have two different ways that we respond. If you’re looking at it cut and dry, it’s going to be parasympathetic, which is rest, digest and reproduction. That’s really where we’re at when we are eating, we’re reproducing. Except the other MO is that not only do we have to survive, we have to survive long enough to procreate. Being evolutionary success means that we have grandchildren – that’s just how it’s defined in biological terms. So, we’ve got parasympathetic and then we’ve got sympathetic. Sympathetic nervous system can be in overdrive. We call it “sympathetic dominance”. And that is when our body is at war, if that system is constantly running on overdrive, because it’s survival. When your body is constantly running in survival mode, that’s where we kind of get in trouble. 

I always imagine a gazelle in Africa. You’ll see gazelles grazing inside of a pasture, just relaxing. They’re in parasympathetic mode; they’re just kicking it. Then someone spots a tiger lurking. Everyone gets the message, “fight or flight”, sympathetic nervous system mode kicks in and they start running like gazelles. And once they know that the danger’s gone, then they go back to grazing. Problem is that we are constantly perceiving so many of our environmental stressors as tigers behind us all the time. And when that happens, your brain and that neuroplasticity, which is driving a lot of the hormonal responses, becomes in a scenario of “my body at war”. We are in constant sympathetic nervous system mode and we drive important survival hormones like cortisol and epinephrine coursing through the system. Well, those have negative ramifications – digestive ramifications, reproductive ramifications, cognitive function ramifications. Things like even putting on weight in areas; that belly fat that we talk about. You can create a fatty liver because you’re constantly stressed. You can drive your thyroid into the ground. What I oftentimes see is that I don’t think we realize that when we fuel our life based on stress or the constant demands of everyone else’s priorities, when we’re all things to everybody else, we don’t realize that that fuel we’re running on is really lending towards chaos inside of the body.

Allan (6:25): Okay. I kind understood a little bit of that beforehand because I’ve gone and gotten massages, and the masseuse will occasionally use some oils or scents or something like that, have a diffuser in there. I’ve used some lavender to relax and sleep better. So I have used some essential oils. I like that your book actually has a lot of recipes, because I think that’s going to make it easy for folks to put together as a recipe to deal with various things. But before they go down that line: “I’m fatigued. I know I’m stressed. I know this is going on in my life”, it’s important for them to go get some hormones tested first to know which direction to go with this, right?

Dr. Mariza Snyder (7:12): Absolutely. I’m a big fan of knowing your numbers. I think that’s really, really important. We can make changes and make stride even without hormones if indeed it is stress-driven. We can disrupt this stress response and the resulting domino effect of that with natural solutions at your fingertips. But yes, I do recommend getting tested. If something else is going on, you want to know what’s going on in the body. Absolutely, it’s important. If you find that your hormone imbalances are being driven by a different root cause, like let’s say it is chronic stress – you could work on your hormones and your thyroid all you like, but if you’re not addressing the core root of the issue, which for some of us oftentimes can be the stress we’re dealing with on a day-to-day – our bodies go back to where they were. That was what was happening to me. I was trying to treat my stress with nutrition. I have a quote that says, “You can’t green smoothie your way out of chronic stress.” And I thought I could for many years. I thought I could exercise and green smoothie my way out of it, but it was my, I would call it the “operating system”. I was running on stress 24/7, and without changing the operating system, which I think oils can help to do, we find ourselves back in those patterns.

Allan (8:35): That’s a big driver to our move to Panama, is to kind of get into that lower gear lifestyle. I was corporate for so many years and the last few years with the layoffs and everything was really damaging to me. I knew that was the one last thing I needed to fix the puzzle. I’ve gone to doctors and the doctor will say, “We’ll do labs.” And then you get the labs and start trying to do, I guess a little bit of doctor Googling to figure out what this is actually telling you. You start doing some of that research and it’s like, “I just got this test, but this article is saying I really should have gotten a more broad panel.” Like, you got TSH, but you didn’t get T4, T3 and reverse T3. If someone’s going to go in and put together a panel for hormone testing, what would you recommend that they go get?

Dr. Mariza Snyder (9:34): Absolutely. Inside the book too, I do such a great job of really giving people all the testing that they should be asking for, because as you know, we really have to become our own advocate for our own health these days. There are a lot of different reasons why that’s the case. I would recommend if I were to go into my doctor… And your traditional doctor may even say “No” to these, and it’s really worth looking for a functional medicine doctor or a naturopath – someone who’s really willing to look at everything. Clearly the big one is a complete blood panel. I think everyone should be tested for thyroid. With the thyroid there’s so much that can go wrong there – toxic load, stress, adrenal deregulation. The thyroid tends to be one of those very delicate endocrine glands that just takes a beating. Any autoimmune or allergy issue, the immune system is like, “You know what? Let’s just go after the thyroid too. Why don’t we just knock that one out?” So, I always recommend running a thyroid panel. The thyroid stimulating hormone, free T3, free T4, reverse T3. I also want you looking at antibodies because if it’s hypo thyroid, 80% to 90% of the time it’s probably Hashimoto’s driven, meaning the immune system is causing the problem. So, TPOAb, then the antibodies as well, the antiglobins, so that is going to be the TgAb as well. Then I want you to look at the adrenals or at least look at cortisol levels, and that is throughout the day. So, morning before 9:00 AM, afternoon, evening, and before going to bed. That’s that diurnal cortisol test that I’m looking at. I also like total testosterone and DHEA levels. I think those are important. Progesterone, specifically on days 21 to 23 because that is when progesterone is at its height. That’s when we’ll really know what’s going on with progesterone. I also want to look at estrogen levels as well, see where they’re at. Fasting insulin, glucose, HDL, hemoglobin. I want to look at the growth factor of the growth hormone. And then also important – nutrients. I want to look at vitamin D, vitamin B12, folate, ferritin, iron. Those are things that I want to be looking at as well, because nutrient depletions can have a profound impact on what’s going on with those hormones. So those are the things I’m looking for in a real, comprehensive lab test. Unfortunately, right now a lot of traditional doctors are not running these levels of tests.

Allan (12:16): I actually have an agreement with a lab. I’ll put a link in the show notes for that. You can go and get your own tests and request what you need. And men, you’re not going to see progesterone, so that’s fine.

Dr. Mariza Snyder (12:29): You don’t need to test for that.

Allan (12:31): But you do need to check for estrogen because we can get too much estrogen and then you’ve got moobs and you’re not feeling really manly. So, you do need that. And women, it’s important for you to also test your testosterone, because women do have some and need some to have a good, solid libido. So, I like that list and that’s in your book. Just getting that list makes this book a pretty valuable resource. In the book, you go into the five pillars. Because I come from an accounting background, whenever I see a number, I’m immediately drawn to it, like, “Oh good, a list!”

Dr. Mariza Snyder (13:06): I love a list.

Allan (13:09): So, you have the five pillars of a foundational lifestyle. Do you mind going through each of those?

Dr. Mariza Snyder (13:14): Absolutely. I have, as you mentioned, five pillars, and this is what I’ve learned in practice that really moves the needle. I’m not going to lie, Allan, I feel like a lot of why we can get ourselves in trouble is lifestyle. We don’t realize the implications of lifestyle until we realize the implications of lifestyle. And usually we start to feel those things around 40 years old. I know very often when people were walking into my office, that was when they were like, “Something isn’t right.” Things start to chip away. So, number one, and this is going to be of no surprise to anybody, is nutrition. We know that nutrition is fuel, we know that nutrition is information, and our bodies are taking in that information. So you vote for what goes on and what happens in your body, the conversations and communication that goes on in the body, with every single fork. That is so important, so that’s number one. Number two is exercise, moving your body. The benefits of exercise are so far reaching, but even stress, getting your body out of that “my body at war”, reducing stress levels, supporting the cardiovascular system, helping to boost cognitive function, respiratory system, boosting mitochondrial function. Even having more receptor sites on every cell for your thyroid hormones is important and driven by movement. We are seeing those implications far and wide. Number three is stress management. Stress comes in a lot of forms. It’s perceived, it’s emotional, it’s chemical, it’s physical. But I’m really concerned with the unrelenting perceived stress that we’re dealing with every day and the repercussions that we talked about. Four Is reducing the toxic burden. Recently, in the last six months, I’ve had five friends of mine diagnosed with breast cancer or thyroid cancer under the age of 45.

Allan (15:13): We have a friend that’s going through chemo right now herself, and she’s not even 50.

Dr. Mariza Snyder (15:19): It’s insane. That’s the worst of the spectrum of what happens when toxicity or toxic burden is high in the body. But hormones can deregulate because of toxins; gut issues; even the thyroid. It’s usually a combination of things that are happening with the thyroid, and toxins do play a major role there. So looking at reducing your toxic burden. And then number five, which I think oftentimes is put to the wayside, is going to be self-care. How do we build in self-care every single day? How do we build in the breaks and the pauses so that we can manage the life that we’re living?

Allan (15:59): I just want to say, with something like these five pillars, this is not something where you say, “I’m going to fix the first pillar and I’m going to be good.” The reality is, you need to be working on all of them. They all need to be a part of what your lifestyle is going forward. Anything you can do to improve those, you need to be slowly chipping away at getting that done.

Dr. Mariza Snyder (16:20): And the beauty of it is it really is possible to do each and every one of these things every day. It’s the mindset in which we live. I think about how my day started today. I was using oils, I drank my big glass of lemon water, I made a green smoothie, I went outside and ran. I have a really big hill that I live in, so I even start my day running that hill a couple of times. I journaled in my book. Lunch was a big salad. We made this really beautiful veggie frittata and sauerkraut for gut support. I took all of my supplements. And I have little breaks built in into my phone for those moments to take a pause. So, we are hyper productive over here; yet, all of the decisions I’m making for my health or for my body are based on those five pillars.

Allan (17:11): Yes. I think you have to do that at some level, but they do snowball. That’s one of the cool things about this. If you’re eating higher quality food, you’re going to have more energy. And when you have more energy and you’re moving around, your lymphatic system is functioning better, you’re getting rid of toxins easier. When you get rid of the toxins, you’re sleeping better. And as you start feeling better about yourself, the self-care and the reduction of stress become easier. So, it’s a self-fulfilling, self-building kind of thing here when you are taking the time to make sure you’re focused on these.

Dr. Mariza Snyder (17:48): Absolutely. And I think when you start to feel great and you start to feel good, you really don’t want to regress back. And you’ll notice when you start to not… I know if we’ve taken on a big project or we’re working harder than normal, there are signs and we’re really mindful of those things. So, I’m quick to get right back on track, knowing what it feels like to not be on track. I think sometimes we don’t necessarily know what it feels like to feel really great all the time, or at least a good chunk of the time. But I promise once you get to that place, you’re going to want to sustain it because you’re not going to want to feel anything different than that.

Allan (18:28): I completely agree. As people are getting into essential oils, you’re the second guest. Of 374 episodes, this is the second episode that we’ve had on essential oils. It was really because of the compelling nature of the hormone and essential oils, and I really want to dive into that a little bit. But before we get there, one of the things that I do know from my previous guest is that it’s very important for you to focus on the quality of your essential oils. This is not just to go find a scented candle from Walmart, light it and sit in the bathtub. There are some quality issues from some manufacturers and you really have to know your product. Can you talk a little bit about what makes an essential oil high quality?

Dr. Mariza Snyder (19:18): Absolutely. So, an essential oil once upon a time was a plant. And just like we’re concerned about the plants that we consume, like the blueberries, the kale and the carrots, it’s really important if you want to use these for therapeutic benefits, you have to be really mindful of where these plants come from. You want plants coming from their indigenous location. So for instance, frankincense should come from Somalia or Oman, cardamom should come from Guatemala or the Middle East, melaleuca, tea tree should come from Australia. The province of France and Bulgaria is where lavender should come from. It’s important that there are different parts of the world that only grow these very specific plants. Anywhere else you’re losing the chemical constituents. Let’s give an example of myrrh. A high quality myrrh oil, the sesquiterpene content on that needs to be above 60%. That’s going to be a high quality. Where are we going to get myrrh with a 60% chemical constituent content of sesquiterpenes? That’s the level of research that needs to go into these oils. Same thing with frankincense – the monoterpene content needs to be above 35%. So that’s what I’m usually looking for. If they’re disclosing where the plants come from, how are these plants treated, are these local farmers? It really matters how these plants are grown. Then on top of that, after these plants are grown and harvested in a sustainable and beautiful way and they’re distilled for their benefits, how are they being tested? We’ve got testing like gas chromatography, mass spectroscopy, chirality testing, microbial testing. As a biochemist for many, many years before I became a practitioner, this is where I was really fascinated. I always recommend that people do their due diligence and make sure that you just go and look them up. If you’re buying from a company, you want to make sure that they are disclosing where their oils come from and they’re disclosing the type of testing that they are doing on their oils.

Allan (21:18): And not just the oils. Each oil typically isn’t just the oil. Isn’t there’s typically a base oil?

Dr. Mariza Snyder (21:27): It depends. No, not normally. If there is a base oil in it, like let’s say a fractionated coconut oil – that must be disclosed as well. What we call oils that have extra stuff in them besides the pure version of it – they are adulterated. That means they’ve been tainted. I’ll give you an example. A 5ml bottle of rose oil takes about 8,000 rose petals. Those roses are grown in Bulgaria most of the time. A 5ml bottle of rose oil is about $800, give or take; $500 to $800. But there are companies that will dilute pure rose oil in fractionated coconut oil or something like that, and they have to say that. And that oil may only cost $75 or $100, but they’ve got to disclose that information. But a pure oil, unless you’re dealing with a rose or a jasmine or a neroli, where it would be hundreds upon hundreds of dollars to get that bottle of oil – they should normally be just literally that essential oil, that chemical constituent.

Allan (22:35): Okay. As I was going through I wanted to figure out how this is affecting my hormones and how we are going to use essential oils to help heal ourselves. I liked that you did this kind of walk across where you talked emotion, hormones and essential oils. Particularly I like the way you told your story about the first time you used wild orange. Do you mind telling that story and explaining from that context how all this works?

Dr. Mariza Snyder (23:09): Yes. So, wild orange was one of the first oils that I met and that I fell in love with. Actually, wild orange is sitting right here next to me in this interview. We’re kind of best buds; we hang out a lot. Wild orange and most citrus oils, like grapefruit, lemon and lime – each and every one of those have different chemical constituents. For the most part, what we’re looking at is a limonene content, which is in a family of monoterpenes. Limonene in wild orange runs about 85% to 90%. That’s what we’re normally looking for. And wild orange is known as the oil of abundance, but what we can demonstrate is when you breathe in the chemical constituents of wild orange, these chemical constituents have a no holds barred directly into the limbic system. What a lot of people don’t know is that our sense of smell is hardwired to our sense of survival. So if you smell a fire, you run, or you smell gas, you run. Our sense of smell has always been tied into that wiring. So we are leveraging the power of these chemical constituents. They bind to the olfactory bulb, then they’re binding to other receptors that send messages to the limbic brain. But what we know about limonene content is that it boosts serotonin and dopamine production in a really balanced way. So it has a profound impact on our neurochemistry, specifically on those neurotransmitters. We also know that serotonin is a hormone, so it’s got two different properties. And we can actually shift the way the limbic brain and the limbic system is working by merely breathing in this oil. I always say you cannot stay angry or mad breathing in wild orange. It literally shifts the chemistry in the brain to go from an angered state to a much more… I wouldn’t say that you’re going to be happy, but you’re at least not going to be feeling super, super angry. You’re going to feel more neutral after breathing in this oil.

Allan (25:04): Okay. And as I said, I’ve had exposure to lavender oil, primarily to sleep. It’ll help you sleep kind of thing. Can you talk through how some of these oils work? You’re throwing a lot of terms out there that I know as a biochemist you love.

Dr. Mariza Snyder (25:24): I can break it down to simpler terms. Let’s give lavender a go. I think, Allan, what I want people to understand is that a lot of people are like, “Oh, it’s woo woo. If you have good intention, it’s kind of calming, but I don’t know what it is.” The cool thing about it is there’s a lot of science that backs all this up. And as you saw in my book, I have 40 pages of bibliography.

Allan (25:48): That’s the thing I was going to say at the end. The bibliography is there, so there are studies after studies. You can just go down that rabbit hole and spend a long, long time reading about how they’ve proven a lot of good qualities from these oils.

Dr. Mariza Snyder (26:04): Right. What’s so cool is that Europe’s a little bit more ahead of us than we’d like, in terms of holistic medicine, and lavender is one of the number one recommended solutions for anxiety in a lot Europe. They take it orally in a little capsule. And oftentimes naturopaths and functional practitioners here in the States will also literally in a prescription form. They are these little teeny capsules, like you would get in a prescription, and people take them for lowering anxiety levels. It’s because we know that there are properties in lavender that will calm down an overactive limbic brain when we’re having that anxiety or we’re feeling really overwhelmed. In a nutshell, lavender is all things calming. It’s designed to calm the brain, it’s designed to shut off the mental chatter. It’s even calming for a mosquito bite. It’s great for a sunburn – a really minor sunburn. Lavender is just very soothing to the body. But lavender is very deceptive. It’s a deceptive woman, a deceptive flower. She is very powerful, she’s very potent, and sometimes she knocks people on their butts. So I always tell people to be really mindful. I love the potency of oils, but every oil is going to be a little bit different for you. For some people, lavender is the bee’s knees. Other times lavender may be a little much. You may want to soften it up with Roman chamomile or cedarwood, something that lavender is very complimentary to. But yes, ultimately lavender is designed to shut down those worries and those anxiousness and that mental chatter that could be happening when you’re trying to get a good night’s sleep.

Allan (27:43): Okay. And there are lots of others. You had multiple recipes. Can you go through a few more to kind of give us some ideas, particularly those ones that are directly related to hormones and health?

Dr. Mariza Snyder (27:55): Absolutely. We’re talking about stress levels. My go-to stress blend – I call it “stress be gone blend” – it’s a combination of two oils. I’m going to keep it simple on the podcast. Some of my recipes get a little bit more complex, but I love simplicity. So, it’s just a drop of lavender, a drop of bergamot. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, just by rubbing those two oils together, rubbing your palms together and taking some deep belly breaths, you’re going to reset that system. You’re going to disrupt the stress response. Another blend that I talk a lot about – people are concerned about brain fog and cognitive function, working memory and alertness. Rosemary has been researched over and over and over again for boosting working memory by 75% by simply breathing it in. I love a combination of wild orange, peppermint, rosemary and frankincense. You could do a drop of each or you could do it in a roller. I don’t have the exact blend in front of me. It would be, let’s say, 8 drops of each of those oils – frankincense, wild orange, peppermint and rosemary. And that is what I call the “get it done blend” or the cognitive boosting blend. So if things aren’t firing 100%, you’re not feeling like you’re on top of your game – you just breathe that blend in and it’s profoundly incredible for that. Now, for hormones, my go-to hormone oil for regulating testosterone and estrogen is going to be clary sage. Lots of research there, because it helps to bind two receptor sites in the adrenals and beta cells, it helps to get rid of xenoestrogens and false estrogens inside of the system by cleaning up receptor sites. I have a hormone blend that is a combination. It’s called “my hormone synergy” blend. I’m going to pull it up for you guys right now. And that is in a 10ml roller – 10 drops of clary sage, 8 drops of lavender, 8 drops of geranium, because also geranium is great at helping the liver detoxify excess hormone metabolites; 4 drops of bergamot and 4 drops of ylang-ylang. Ylang-ylang is the ultimate libido booster. It has profound benefits on testosterone. I really love this blend because it does tackle a lot of the hormone systems that we’re looking at in the reproductive system.

Allan (30:21): Cool. And the book even goes into how to make your own roller. This is a great resource for someone that wants to learn more about essential oils and actually get into using them. I guess we’ll go ahead and close out with my last question. I define “wellness” as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

Dr. Mariza Snyder (30:44): I love it. So, the first tactic I think is a must, must, must, is you’ve got to have a morning ritual. Set the tone for your day. It can be 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, where you are on your own agenda and not somebody else’s agenda. Strategy number two – use your oils for those emergency moments. You need more energy – grab an oil. You need to win the staredown with that cupcake or that stale donut – get peppermint out. It’s a powerful craving suppressant. And then number three is, also have a wind-down routine. It is so important to rest and shut down the brain, get decent sleep. The reason why so many of us are just slogging through the day like zombies is we’re not getting enough sleep. We’re working overtime or we’re choosing that last episode on Netflix. When you set an intention for an evening routine, using calming oils or reading a book before bed, shutting off the computer at 9:00 PM – you will recharge and that missing energy will come back for you.

Allan (31:51): Cool. I like those. Dr. Snyder, if someone wanted to learn more about you and what you’re doing or the book, The Essential Oils Hormone Solution, where would you like for me to send them?

Dr. Mariza Snyder (32:06): I think you have the link for this. I have an amazing cravings, fatigue and stress cheat sheet that we’ll make sure we get the link for you. You guys can go and check out. I do have a podcast myself. It’s called The Essentially You Podcast and it’s all about helping you to become the CEO of your health. I know I spotted off a lot of recipes and I know there are a lot of recipes in the book, but sometimes just having that little cheat sheet to address those core issues that I see so often, is a step in the right direction. I can get that for the listeners so that you guys have that and start making some amazing progress.

Allan (32:45): Okay, cool. This is episode 376, so you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/376 and I’ll be sure to have that link there. Dr. Snyder, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

Dr. Mariza Snyder (32:59): Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure.

Allan (33:07): Are you stuck with your health and fitness journey and just need a little push? Go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Consult, and that will take you to a link on my calendar where you can schedule a free 15-minute session with me. We can discuss your goals, we can talk about what you want to accomplish, how you can accomplish it, and a lot more. So if you need a little push, maybe a little bit of accountability, please go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Consult for your free consultation today.

Another episode you may enjoy

April 1, 2019

Choosing the sloth life for better health and fitness

Patreons

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  • Judy Murphy
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  • Debbie Ralston

Thank you!

Tammy and I decided to move to Panama as an opportunity to slow down and reduce stress. On this episode we discuss why we chose the sloth life.

Allan: 00:47 Hello. Today's podcast is going to be a good bit different than anything else that I've done on the show. We are actually recording in our little bitty apartment in Bocus del Toro, Panama. So you're very likely to hear the sounds of chickens, cars, kids, music, all kinds of stuff going on in the background with us, roosters for sure. You know, the thing about it is this is kind of our new lifestyle. We're not going to necessarily live in this town as we go forward, but there's going to just be some differences in the way that we live our lives and the things that we let stress us. So I wanted to actually take you through the story of the move to Bocas del Toro and I couldn't think of a better way to even do this show without also letting you hear from my very special guest today. My wonderful wife, Tammy.

Tammy: 01:37 Hi everyone. I'm glad to be here.

Allan: 01:39 And so as we, as we got into this move and, and the reasons we were doing this move, I thought it would be a great lesson for us to have on the show. And there's been some people that have been fairly curious about this move and each time I talk to a guest and I remind them that they're very likely to hear sounds in the background, that they wouldn't hear any normal recording studio, definitely wouldn't have heard in Pensacola where I was recording the show. There's going to be quite a bit of that now, and I think you'll see as we go forward on the show, even during some of my interviews, you're likely to hear some of the sights and sounds of what's going on here, uh, in Bocas town. So I want to give you just a little bit of the history of how this all came about because you may or may not know me that well, you may not have been a longtime listener, but I was in corporate America for over 25 years. And at the end, you know, I was pretty high up in the rankings as far as executives in a business and the business I was in, uh, well, we were on a pretty healthy downturn. And by healthy, I mean straight down.

As a result, the company was doing layoff after layoff, after layoff. And as you can imagine, being the boss of quite a few people, it fell on me to have those, “You're, you're not needed anymore” conversations, and the goodbyes and all that goes with that. So to say that this was a stressful job, I think would just really be an understatement. It was, the stress was almost debilitating. It was something that when my name finally showed up on the list and we finally went through that and I was sitting at my home in Pensacola and it just occurred to me that I really just didn't want to go back.

This was not a financial decision. This was just a, I know that job is killing me and if I go back and do it, I am effectively sacrificing my health for the job. I decided that I wasn't going to do that anymore. I wasn't going to let making an income be something that was going to detrimentally hurt my health. It wouldn't be fair to me, and one, I think I'd be disingenuous to you if that's how I lived my life. And so I made the decision to not go back to work and to effectively figure out a way to make an income.

That's when I kind of ratchet it up and started doing a little bit more personal training. Uh, and I decided to start working on a book. And there's other things that I had in the works, but because of the current state of healthcare in the United States, one of us had to get a job so we could pay for health care. And uh, Tammy was nice enough to take that on. So she did get a job. Uh, just really just for health insurance. There was no other reason for her to have a job. We didn't need her to work. We just needed the health insurance. It was just far too expensive. I think I got quoted $1,600 a month for health insurance, but I'll, I'll let Tammy tell you a little bit about her taking the job, what that did for her and against her and how she felt about it.

Tammy: 04:46 Well, first of all, I didn't work for like, I dunno, five years before that I took a job here and there doing different things just because I was bored and wanted to do something. And then when it came down to where he decided not to go back to work and we need he insurance, because in America you have to have medical insurance. Getting the job was a little stressful, but at the same time I was kind of excited to go back to work, just to get away from Allan because he's in the house all the time. But, um, I took a job that something I didn't know, but it was interesting job. It was just basically for the insurance.

I also met a lot of nice people and had a good time working there. However, I was not really wanting to work, who wants to work really, you know? But the only reason why I didn't want to work with more because of having to have a boss to deal with or having to watch what I say or do. And you can't really be, I wasn't really comfortable, I guess I got used to being at home for the last five years or whatever it was, taking care of the house, the dogs and Allan and doing what I wanted to do. But going back to work, you know, it helped us for for wha, about almost a year. And it was, the insurance was great and then we decided we were watching TV and decided to take it a step further and I'll let Allan go ahead and start that conversation.

Allan: 06:18 So yes, we were watching Netflix and we came across a show called Death In Paradise and it's an interesting show where they take basically a British detective and they put him on a Caribbean island and he's living in this little bungalow and obviously he is a Londoner through and through wearing his suit every day, obviously uncomfortable in the 90 plus degree, 90 plus percent humidity environment. But he's really good at his job and they decided to keep him. And that's what kinda started the series. And we were watching the series as it went through and I think they had like seven series. They went through three different detectives, each kind of bringing a different feel to the show.

What was consistent about it was the, you know, the location, the beauty. And this guy lived in a non air conditioned open shack, basically a little bungalow on the beach, but it was beautiful. It was beautiful and they made it work and they were comfortable they are. And that got Tammy and I to talking about how we could change our lifestyle, we could reduce our stress, we could reduce our expenses, we can reduce our environmental footprint, uh, if we went somewhere and did something like that. And that got us to searching for different places.

Tammy: 07:38 And I started thinking that I was wanting to go to Belize. So he checked out Belize and all Allan got attacked by mosquitoes and not justattacked but like a swarm of mosquitoes. And then we went during the time that the season wasn't very pretty, the beaches weren't very nice. I guess the seaweed came in and it just wasn't as nice as we thought it was going to be. I mean, it is a beautiful country, beautiful place. Not saying anything bad about it in that way, but we really, you know, we're thinking something along the same line. And then I came home from work one day and Allan told me to keep an open mind and he mentioned Panama and I'm like, well, what's in Panama? And he goes, well, there's no hurricanes. And then there's also the Caribbean island. Cause, I mentioned, I said, well, we want to live on the Caribbean. And he said, well there's, there is a Caribbean side and it's Bocas del Toro. He'd been there before with his daughter 10 years ago?

It's changed a lot since then, apparently. And it's changed a lot since we came here in July. But when we got here in July was only here for a few days. And I knew the beauty of it was there and it was very pretty here. And I'm looking at the beaches and just the possibility of living on the water and off the grid, basically, rain catchment and solar for your energy and power and with lights. And why not go for something different and do something in a different change in life and uh, get out of our comfort zone and make an adventure of it.

So we decided to open this up, this idea up to a Panama and we've been here for almost a month over just over a month and make it, making a lot of new friends, and people here are very nice. The culture is different, just the Indian villages that are around. It's been an amazing month so far and we've learned so much about the people here. Um, and the expat community as well. And then, um, you know, we, we decided that this might be where we want to be. So we've been looking at places here to make a footprint here for ourselves.

Allan: 09:48 Yeah. One of the cool things about Panama is that they, they make it fairly simple. And I say fairly cause it's, it's not actually simple, but it's much simpler to be an ex pat and live here to get your residency here, uh, than it is in a lot of different countries.

Tammy: 10:03 It's still not simple.

Allan: 10:04 Not simple, but, uh, with some help from an attorney and you got through a process. They do want investment here. They do want people here. Uh, so they do value, uh, ex pats and, and they make it, uh, make it a way for you to get here. And as long as you prove that you're not going to be a draw to their society, you're going to help improve their society, they're very much amenable to allowing you to have residency here. So we're currently working through that process.

I am actually looking at buying the gym here. There's a gym on the island and I'm in negotiations with the current owners, to sell me their shares in the company. And, so I will be a gym owner here. And we'll be living what we refer to now as our sloth life. And I know, you know, the term sloth often gets a lot of bad reputations, but if you see a picture of a sloth there, they're pretty damn cute with the exception for the claws.

Tammy: 11:01 Allan is afraid of the claws.

Allan: 11:03 They'll slowly claw your eyes out. But uh, anyway, the sloth life in my opinion is this, this concept of finding the right size for you, finding the place and finding the people and finding that connection, the thing that's going to give you the lower stress level give you the more connectedness to not just the people, but the place.

Tammy: 11:29 Just slowing down a little bit even in life and not having to rush and worry and think about everything that's going around it's just, it's just stressful with regular life like that and living this life life is what we're calling our slough life is being laid back more and relaxed and, and just living at slow walking down the street slow and taking things a little slower. We don't need to rush through life. Life is here us to enjoy.

Allan: 11:55 And so that's, that's kind of this concept of 2019 for me. Uh, and for Tammy is how do we find that place where we have that connectedness where we have this, uh, this more relaxed environment and where we're able to basically just be, be ourselves and not worry about punching a time clock, not worried about the deadlines at work. Uh, be our own boss. Um, so that we can make what we need to make and be who we need to be. You know, if you've read any of the studies on the blue zones and people living the longest in the world, they live in places like this. Uh, they live in places where they walk, they eat locally grown foods.

Tammy: 12:36 There are no fast food restaurants here. Thats a great thing!

Allan: 12:41 And don't bring any please. Uh, yeah, there are no fast food restaurants here. There's some really nice restaurants here with really fresh food, so it's a really cool place to be. It does have water catchment for most of our water, and you know, a lot of the places are completely off the city grid um, so the electricity is generated by solar. So there some feel good about that. And uh, you know, the, the island is looking at recycling programs and a lot of other things. A lot of self sustaining places are building up around here. So it's, it's, it's becoming a really cool, cool thing.

Tammy: 13:14 We should probably back up a little bit Allan about Bocas del Toro. Where is that? What it is? It's an archipelago of nine big islands, I believe with a bunch of little islands all around it. And we're in the main island of Isla Colon in Bocas Town right now and the other islands where we've been trying to explore a few of the other islands around us as well, there's so many islands out there, there's no way to explore them all, but we would like to try and do that. So anyway, Bocas del Toro is just an archipelago of islands out here. For any of you who were curious.

Allan: 13:51 Yeah, it's not the easiest place to get to because you have to connect in Panama City. And you actually have to fly out of a different airport if you were coming in from the international airport. So there's a little bit of a task to getting here, but once you're here, you know, you have access to everything you need for the most part and you find you don't need a lot of the things that you think you need. Uh, but Amazon does deliver here.

Tammy: 14:14 After about two weeks!

Allan: 14:16 But they do deliver if we needed something.

Tammy: 14:18 I have not tried yet, but I might.

Allan: 14:21 And so I talk about in the wellness roadmap that, you know, as you're looking at stress, uh, you know, probably the best thing you can do for something that's chronically stressing you is to just eliminate it. And I think that's what we've been able to accomplish with this move is I don't have to worry about laying anybody off again.

Allan: 14:42 I can come in and I can run the gym and I can have employees and I can make it fun for them. And I'm the boss of the, boss of the boss. And so, you know, I can make the things the way they need to be, uh, to fit where we are. Uh, you know, Panama as a culture is very laid back and I like that, you could be challenged by it if you don't understand that, that's the nature of the people. But you know, they tell, tell you when you come here, don't think you can change Panama. You have to change for Panama if you want to be here. And so that's really the crux of what this, this move was all about. I know some folks have been curious about it. Uh, I'm glad to be able to get my wife on the show for the very first time.

Allan: 15:26 And this is episode 375. I'll try to get her on this show a little bit more often here and there. But I think the key of it is and the takeaway that I want you to get from this is that you really do have a lot more control over your life than you think you do. We let stuff, we let jobs, we let things imprison us because we have this innate belief that we have to have these things.

We have to order that, uh, that shirt from Amazon. We have to order those shoes, we have to, and so our closet gets full, we put weight on and then we can't even wear the clothes we just bought from Amazon, so we go buy more clothes and those sit in our closet and we know we're going to get into those skinny jeans one day. So we hold on to them and, and I'm just here to tell you that you don't have to be locked into that cycle.

You can make changes. Is it a sacrifice? Absolutely. But the trade offs can be quite substantial. I don't have the income I had before, but I have the life that I want and that to me is worth any amount of money that I could have been paid. So I doubt very seriously that you're going to ever see me in a corporate boardroom again. I have no desire whatsoever to go back to corporate life. I'm going to do my own thing and that means I'm going to be giving 100% to my clients and making sure they get the results that they deserve. I'm going to be giving 100% to this podcast and making sure that I'm bringing on the best possible guests to teach you and give you the information you need to find your health and wellness.

I'm going to be doing the things with the gym and others just to help people here be healthier and more fit. So, My life now is, is dedicated towards wellness. Uh, but not just yours, mine as well. But if there's anything that I can do to help you on your wellness journey, please do reach out. If you go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/15min I'll give you a free 15 minute consult. We can talk about your health and fitness goals. We can help set strategies for what will work for you. If stress is something that's really affecting you. We can talk about strategies for stress management and where you can, I'd encourage you to completely eliminate the stress. I know that's not possible for everything, but you know, I think I can help you get through some of these stressful moments or eliminate these stressful moments through just this little console.

So go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/15min and that will take you to my calendar. You can set up a 15 minute consult with me absolutely free, no obligation. I want to help you reach your health and fitness goals. So please do get your free consult. So before we cut out though, I wanted to say bye to Tammy and thank you for being a part of 40 plus fitness.

Tammy: 18:21 Thank you for actually having me for the first time. He's never asked me, by the way.

Allan: 18:25 I haven't. I'll be honest. Yeah, I haven't asked her before this, but I felt like it would just, it would not be the complete story of me telling about the move to Bocus without having you on.

Tammy: 18:37 No, it wouldn't be. He needs me.

Allan: 18:39 Okay. So thank you for listening today and I'll talk to you next week.

Speaker 4: 18:44 Bye.

Another episode you may enjoy

March 25, 2019

Lyn Lindbergh takes us from couch to active

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

  • Judy Murphy
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Thank you!

Our guest today is so much fun! Lyn Lindbergh is a health coach and the founder of the Couch to Active community.

Allan (1:10): Lyn, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

Lyn Lindbergh (1:13): Hello, Allan. Thanks. Good to be here.

Allan (1:17): I always like interviewing podcasters, because I know, one, you’re going to make it very, very easy for me from a sound and quality perspective.

Lyn Lindbergh (1:27): Or will I?

Allan (1:29): Or will you? Remember, we’re doing mine first and then I’m going to record on yours.

Lyn Lindbergh (1:35): I’ll be good.

Allan (1:35): It goes both ways. But the cool thing is, your book is called Couch to Active and that’s also the name of your podcast. I really, really like that. I think so many people today get locked into this concept of, “I’m not going to look like that person, so maybe I shouldn’t even try.”

Lyn Lindbergh (2:04): Yeah, that’s it. That’s a tough thing for people because I think we all have that image in our head of either the bikini body or the sweaty, ripped six-pack abs. Most of us will never get there, even if we do train exactly by the book and do everything by the book. But the thing about Couch to Active is, that’s not the point. And we recognize that for most of us, that’s not even what we want.

Allan (2:33): I agree. I’ve always tried to tell my clients, because some of them want that look. And I say, “If it’s a look you’re after, that’s great. You can aspire to that, you can work towards that and I’ll do what I can do to help you get there.” But what I’ve found is in the end, when I start really digging in with them, it comes down to, what do you want to be able to do? That’s where the “active” concept to me comes in. Active in your mind could be being able to run around with your grandchildren at the zoo, whereas active for someone else could be they want to go do a Spartan.

Lyn Lindbergh (3:11): Exactly. I found that at the core, I want to live a life I love. I want to love my life. If I’m going to the gym for an hour a day, doing a workout that I hate and dread every day, just so I can look a certain way, that doesn’t make me happy. That doesn’t make me find any joy at all. That’s where it falls apart for most people because really, it’s that internal feeling that we want of joy and peace and happiness.

Allan (3:48):  think the other side of this is, you’ll see a training program, like Couch to 5K or something like that that’s put out there. Someone will get out there and start doing it and then all of a sudden something gets thrown in their way. It could be a health issue, an injury. How do you coach, how do you talk to people about dealing with those health issues that just pop up and get in our way? It’s never going to be a straight line, but we want it to be a straight line. How do we deal with that?

Lyn Lindbergh (4:19): I want it to be a straight line. If you find it, call me. I’ll give you my number. That’s the interesting thing. There are, as we know, a gazillion workout programs, pills, potions, lotions, gyms, you name it. Anything that you can give your wallet to, it’s out there for you. In and of themselves, for the most part, there’s nothing inherently wrong with them, but most of them are designed for when life is going good. The problem is, like you just said, what happens when the cart gets upset? What happens when you have chronic illness or surgery, or God forbid, we age? I have found that a lot of times one of the big things that we forget about is compassion, and compassion for ourselves. Part of my journey was I got a couple of chronic health issues that I’m really public with. I’m missing 30% of my lung function and I’ve got fibromyalgia and another mysterious disease we’re still trying to figure out. It keeps me in the back of the pack all the time. And I had to pause and really look at it and say, “Why am I beating myself up trying to get the faster 5K time when I can’t? Why is this so important to me?” I redefined success as doing what I can do today and honoring what my body can do today. And if today all I can do is a 30-minute walk and maybe 20 seconds of jogging, and I do it – that’s success. Or if today I’ve got a big flareup and all I can do is grocery shop and then take a 4-hour nap – if I honor my body and what it can do one day at a time, one hour at a time – that’s my new success criteria. For me and for tons of people I’ve worked with, that becomes so freeing and so liberating. Then you can begin to really have that incremental success and gain strength, because you’re not torturing yourself over the things you can’t do that you used to be able to do, and instead you’re focused, or I’m focused, more on that positive what I can do. It’s just a better, happier place to be.

Allan (6:59): Yes. I like how you started that out with the word “compassion”. I’m in the process of reading a book that’s set up so that each day there’s a verse and it’s based on stoicism. It’s called The Daily Stoic. Each day there’s a little passage from Seneca or Marcus Aurelius or one of the original stoics, and then he writes his little blurb, his little bit about it to get you thinking about things. The first section of that is clarity. As I’ve gone through it and then I read in your book, I hadn’t really given a lot of thought to how much negative self-talk I have.

Lyn Lindbergh (7:44): Oh, it’s huge.

Allan (7:45): I called myself “fat”, and I guess I was fat. I considered myself to be fat, so I used that word. And every time I noticed myself slip up, the negative self-talk would kind of step right back in. What are some things we can do to get that compassion back for ourselves?

Lyn Lindbergh (8:08): Just push the “Happy” button and you’ll feel happy.

Allan (8:12): Where is that button?

Lyn Lindbergh (8:13): I’ve been looking for it. It doesn’t exist. I won’t give up hope, I’ll find it someday. No, you’re exactly right, Allan. That compassion piece is huge, because our generation – when I say that I mean 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s – we were just drilled with that concept of “No pain, no gain. Grit, self-discipline. Try harder, try harder. Live like you’ll die tomorrow.” We’ve all heard these thousands of times and it just puts more and more pressure on us and we end up feeling bad. Like you said, we feel fat and out of shape and ugly. So, part of it is to really start paying attention to what that brain is thinking. When you put on the pants in the morning and you look in the mirror, what is that brain saying to yourself? For me, a lot of it has been just talking to people about body image. If we talk about body image, for example, it’s an issue for – I’ve discovered and learned because I hang out with a lot of bodybuilders and a lot of women that you would call “tens”. We all have body image issues and we all are hard on ourselves. It’s really that awareness of, “I am beautiful. I am handsome.” The reason I’m dancing around this is the work is just huge to do around it. One thing that helps me is to realize if I ask myself the question, “Who are the best friends in my life? Who are the people that I have the most respect for? Who are the people I most admire?”, none of them fit on the cover of a Cosmopolitan or a Vogue magazine at all. When I bring that back to myself, it helps me remember this body external thing really isn’t that important. It helps me give myself compassion. That’s the external piece of it.

Allan (10:35): I’ve found that it really comes from a practice called gratitude. You sit down and you think about the things that make you happy, those moments of joy when you can sit back and say, “This was good.” And what I’ve found is if you are eating the right foods, you can be grateful that your body’s using that food to improve your health. Like you said, you go out and do that 30-minute walk with 20 seconds of jogging. When you’re done with that, that’s something you should celebrate. You should be happy that you had the capacity to do that and that you’re doing something to improve yourself. And when you find yourself starting to go down that negative thought path, that’s when you want to turn it on and say, “Okay, I might not have eaten very well today, but I kissed my wife in the morning, I called my daughter and told her I loved her.” All those different things that you do, you can feel gratitude for. And if you keep practicing gratitude and keep looking for joy, a lot of that negative self-talk goes away.

Lyn Lindbergh (11:45): It really, really does it. And then possibly too is to take inventory of who’s in your social circle. They say you’re the composite of the five closest people around you. Whether that’s true or not, everyone’s saying it, so it must be true, right? So, what are those folks around you saying? Are they helping you with a positive mindset?

Allan (12:12): And it’s not on Facebook. Everybody’s presenting their best front side image in Facebook and filters and all the other stuff. Just realize that you don’t have to keep up with them; you just have to keep up with you.

Lyn Lindbergh (12:27): Yeah, what do they say? Don’t compare your inside life to everybody’s outside life or public life. Absolutely.

Allan (12:35): Exactly. Which is also why I’m not on Instagram. I might be the only personal trainer that’s not on Instagram.

Lyn Lindbergh (12:43): I’m barely on Instagram, because of the peer pressure.

Allan (12:48): I can’t do it. Plus it’s a phone thing. You can’t do it on a browser. I’m too old for that.

Lyn Lindbergh (12:55): Yeah, what is that? Okay, good thing. 40+, not too many of us are on Instagram, so we’re good.

Allan (13:05): Now, as we go through things, I think this is where a lot of people start to struggle, and you talked about it a little bit with your lung issue – we’re going to hit these barriers. And they’re natural barriers, because if we were all meant to be six-pack abs, bikini body people, then everybody would be, if it was easy. But it’s not easy. There’s an overabundance of food and there’s overstimulation where it’s easy to sit on your couch and never leave. Literally if the pizza guy would walk in the house and put it down in front of me, on the coffee table, I would never leave the house.

Lyn Lindbergh (13:50): I’ve got teenage boys. That’s exactly the life they would love.

Allan (13:54): “Hey, come on in!”

Lyn Lindbergh (13:56): “Right here, Mom. Just put the pizza right here, I’m good.”

Allan (14:00): So there are all these things that are going to distract us and keep us from getting where we really want to be. How do we break those barriers?

Lyn Lindbergh (14:09): When it comes to breaking barriers in fitness, one of the things that I like to share a lot is when you think about your biggest barrier, it’s not a gym membership. It’s not cash to throw at a personal trainer. It’s not all kinds of things. It’s the couch. The couch is our biggest competitor. Then we look at, what are our barriers to getting off the couch? And I say that metaphorically, because I know some people are listening to this and saying, “But I’m not on the couch. I’m just so busy.” One of the things that we do and teach, we call the “breaking barriers list”. The reason this exercise, the “breaking barriers list”, is important and impactful is because it helps you get crystal clear on what your real barriers are versus imagined barriers. And then it helps you get really laser focused on what you can do that requires the least amount of work to have the biggest impact on your ability and motivation to exercise. So, this is what I do to get people there. You could even start this right now. You just get any old piece of paper, or if you prefer to type on your computer, and you think of every single barrier to exercise that you can think of. And there are the big barriers: “I broke my leg”, “I got really sick”, “I have an aging parent I’m caring for”, “I have a job that I can’t quit”, “I can’ just quit my job or retire. I’m not there yet.” And then there are all the little, tiny barrier, like “I’m just busy” or “My kid called and I needed this this afternoon when I was going to work out.” This happened to me once – I showed up at the gym with two right tennis shoes. I forgot my left tennis shoe. List them all out; then go through that list and really ask yourself objectively, “Of all of these barriers that I see, which ones can I actually impact today, or which ones can I impact in the future?” You take the ones you can impact today, pick one and say, “Of all these barriers…” Take this stupid example of two right shoes. I can pack my gym bag earlier and leave it in the car and it’ll be there for me. Pick one and just work on breaking that one barrier, and let all the rest go. Maybe the next day or the next week, pick another one and let all the rest go. And just work through that list. Then the next question that always comes up really naturally is, what do you do with the barriers that are here to stay? So myself, for example, missing 30% of my lung function – that’s there to stay. It’s probably only going to get worse the rest of my life. You’ve got to make peace with those. That’s the real hard work, and it goes back to that compassion piece: “What can I do, given this barrier?” Sometimes it’s really easy to try to think, “Life should be perfect, life should be perfect. I’ll never give up, I’ll never give up.” And it’s not giving up; it’s just facing reality head-to-head and getting yourself in a real positive mind space and a positive mental space around it. So, that’s the whole “breaking barriers list” piece that we work through in a nutshell.

Allan (18:10): To me it comes down to self-awareness. If you can do this exercise, this is groundbreaking for getting you on track to really accomplish some great things, because once you start understanding what those barriers are, you eliminate them. I learned the same thing. I had to pack my gym bag the night before, or invariably I would forget my shoes or my socks, or just forget the bag. I literally packed the bag and set it by the door, so I’d almost have to trip over it in the morning to get out the door.

Lyn Lindbergh (18:46): You and a million people every day.

Allan (18:49): And I’d double check. You have to put those little strategies in place for the things you know are going to trip you up. I walk into the office on Friday and I see the sharks chumming in the break room. I know they brought donuts. I’m staying away from the break room.

Lyn Lindbergh (19:06): That’s a hard one. That’s an advanced skill.

Allan (19:14): It was funny. These were particularly weird – they were called Spudnuts. They were made from potato flour, so probably even worse than regular, from a sugar high. They put your blood sugar through the roof. And I loved them too. Then I was like, “Okay, I’ve got to get away from that.” So, I’d have nuts in my office and I’d see them be just like sharks chumming. I decided I can’t go there. I’d go to my office and sit in my desk and not go into the break room until lunchtime, because they would usually be gone by then.

Lyn Lindbergh (19:51): That’s great.

Allan (19:54): That was a practice of self-awareness and understanding what the barriers are that are going to keep me from getting what I needed. That was one that would come up every once in a while. I can’t keep them from bringing donuts in, but I have to know myself to deal with it.

Lyn Lindbergh (20:13): Absolutely. It’s funny how this moment of shame is coming back, which I must let go. When I worked in a corporate office for 20 years, sometimes I would even be good at leaving those donuts alone until everybody was gone and it was only me.

Allan (20:35): When nobody is looking, it doesn’t count.

Lyn Lindbergh (20:37): Exactly. And part of that mindset and self-awareness, one of the things to break through that usually gets people really excited and helps them feel young and alive again – it’s really looking at your stereotypes. When you’re looking at breaking barriers, really challenge your stereotypes about who does what kind of exercise. So much of the time we think yoga is for the skinny girls and aqua aerobics is for fat and injured and out of shape. That’s so, so wrong. If you can break through your stereotypes of what kind of exercises you do as a person and try something new, it’s amazing how creative you can get. I had one woman who came to me and she was so excited. I had no idea how this came about exactly, but she said, “I was listening to your thing about breaking through stereotypes, because I’ve never exercised in my life.” She was almost 50 and she’d never exercised in part because she didn’t see herself as somebody who would exercise. And she said, “I finally found it and I love it. I got a treadmill. I put it in my dark basement downstairs with no windows. And every morning I read a book on the treadmill.” I just had to laugh because I told her that would be torture for me. I would hate it. She loved it though. She said, “I can do this.” So what if everybody else hates a treadmill in the dark by yourself? She loved it and that’s what got her to make a breakthrough.

Allan (22:36): I think what’s really cool is that you’ve got to find your place. I could tell you you should be doing all this lifting and you should be doing some cardio. We can go through the “shoulds” and there’s a valid reason for each one. You should be working on balance, you should be working on mobility, all those different things that we do need to make sure we’re maintaining. But how you get there can be your own unique joy, your own unique path.

Lyn Lindbergh (23:05): That’s really where the “smile” factor comes in in a big way. I’ve got folks who back country ski, folks who sword fight. For real, that’s a real thing.

Allan (23:18): I know, fencing. I envision this old lady beating the crap out of somebody with a sword.

Lyn Lindbergh (23:28): She just turned 50 and she’s so excited. “You won’t believe what I’m doing.” But we all know body doesn’t know or care if you’re on a treadmill or walking. To your body it’s movement. So, if you’re moving and it’s exercise, it counts. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a gym or not.

Allan (23:49): Very much. Now, every once in a while something is going to come along – a car accident, you’re out going for a walk or a run and you slip on some ice and you twist your ankle or mess up your knee or break an arm, and now dealing with this setback. And a lot of times it’s, “I can’t use my leg because I twisted my ankle.” So they stop exercising. They figure since they’re not exercising, they’ll just eat what they want to eat, go back to their old ways, and they end up with this setback. What was an unplanned detour now becomes a, “Let’s turn around and drive back home” kind of thing. How do we deal with that?

Lyn Lindbergh (24:35): The setbacks is a really interesting, tricky one. One of the things I love that you said, Allan, is “when” you have a setback, not “if” you have a setback. I think that’s an important piece, is realizing that setbacks are normal, they happen. They happen to all of us, they happen to me. Some of the setbacks that really trip us up the most is a lot of times we get in our mind that we’re going to finally be a person who exercises, and now all of a sudden I’ve got my plan and it’s all perfectly laid out. But that’s not the way it is; life changes. Those are the tricky ones, when like you said, you’re moving to a new home. So, new routines, new everything.

Allan (25:23): The gym on this island that we’ve moved to is not really a gym. They have some dumbbells, they have a leg press. I would call it more of a fitness studio. They do classes. I’m thinking if I go there I’m probably going to have to do the classes until I get my equipment here, which is going to take me a little while because you have to put it on a container ship, it has to go on a boat. It’s going to be a while before I see that stuff. So, that routine is completely thrown out; I have to come up with other things. I even asked if they have tennis courts. There are no tennis courts on this island. Unless I want to build my own. I could build one and then charge people to use it. That might not be a bad idea. A lot of the things I was thinking my lifestyle was going to entail when I move down here, it’s not here. So I have to change and I have to adapt. I’m doing a lot more body weight stuff, I’m doing a lot more walking. Those types of things are the things I’m putting into my regimen. I’ll probably lose a little bit of muscle mass because I’m not lifting like I was lifting. I lost a little bit of strength, but I can do what I’m going to do until I get my equipment down here.

Lyn Lindbergh (26:42): That’s exactly it. I would say for any of those setbacks – whether it’s a broken leg or moving to an island with no tennis court or, quote, unquote, “real” gym – one of the pieces to start out with first and foremost is that compassion piece again. Start first from a place of compassion for yourself and realizing this is normal. Setbacks do happen. And when you get there, which it could take you 10 seconds or two weeks, it depends, then you can start talking. If you live with someone, talk to them about your goals and your desires. If you make a new friend, talk to them about your goals. You’d be amazed at how people can help you find resources to make it happen. Really, at our core, most of us want to be exercising. Most of us want to have a buddy to work out with. That’s where I usually have folks start. And again, back to breaking through that stereotype of, what kind of an exerciser am I? What do I do? I can get massively creative to start really focusing on what exercise is going to meet my goals and make me smile? And those three things really are that sustainable piece that helps you stay in a good mindset for it all. Because again, Couch to Active – I’m all about living a life you love more than just creating out workouts you hate.

Allan (28:22): Yeah. I define “wellness” as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

Lyn Lindbergh (28:37): I would say for me in my life, because getting and staying well has been complicated and I know I’m not the only one – education is huge for me. I’m an avid reader, constantly reading. I tell you, for anything, if I Google “Is keto good for you? Is keto bad for you? Are oranges good for you? Are oranges bad for you?” – the amount of data out there is just ridiculous. The more education you can have on everything, the better. The second one for me – a huge piece of physical wellness is also mental wellness. I think our generation has been raised with a lot of anxiety, a lot of pressure to perform and a lot of that negative self-talk. So I think a huge wellness piece of that is to not be afraid to crack that door open. If something inside of you is saying you need to look at mental health, look at it. And then the more simple one is, get the junk out of your kitchen. That’s what I had to do. If it’s there, I want to find the “Happy” button and the “Unlimited Willpower” button. If you find those, let me know, Allan, because junk’s got to stay out of the kitchen.

Allan (30:09): I’m pretty much the same way. My wife bought some Life cereal the other day and she was like, “Don’t judge me.” I’m like, “I’m not judging you.”

Lyn Lindbergh (30:18): Food shame!

Allan (30:20): But at the same time I knew I would end up in that box at some point. I knew myself. I almost said I’ll just eat it all so it won’t be here anymore. I didn’t go that far, but I did actually eat some of the cereal. Lyn, I want to thank you for being a part of 40+ Fitness. If someone wanted to learn more about you and learn more about the book, Couch to Active, where would you like for me to send them?

Lyn Lindbergh (30:54): Just have them Google Couch to Active and head over to the website, www.CouchToActive.com, and everything’s there.

Allan (31:04): Excellent. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/374, and I’ll be sure to have links there. Lyn, again, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

Lyn Lindbergh (31:15): Thank you. It’s been a ball.

I hope you enjoyed that interview with Lyn. Really fun character, very goofy, but has a lot of fun with life and that’s a big, big part of the wellness formula. You have to be happy with what you’re doing. I love how she brings that to the table and it bears in her podcast and in her book. Do check those out.

Spring has sprung. As this episode goes live, we are into just the spring season starting up. And you know what that means – that means we’re going to be wearing a little less clothing, revealing a little bit more of our bodies. This is a perfect time to really start working on your health and your fitness. So if you’re looking for a coach and you’re interested in getting things done in the most efficient and effective way, without injury, I’m available to be your online coach.

You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Programshttp://40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Programs, and from there you’ll be able to see the various programs that I offer. I have group, one-on-one, and I do have some “Do It Yourself”, if you are so inclined to push yourself. I do have programs that have been proven effective for losing fat and for gaining muscle. So if you’re interested in training with me, go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Programs. Again, that’s 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Programs.

Another episode you may enjoy

Finding your balance between health and a life with Nathalie Botros

March 18, 2019

Dr Jaime Hope shows you how to habit that

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Thank you!

Dr. Jaimie Hope is an emergency room doctor who knows a thing or two about building life-long habits. In her book, Habit That! she teaches how you can change your habits and create a healthy lifestyle.

Allan (1:18): Dr. Hope, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

Dr. Jaime Hope (1:21): Allan, thank you so much for having me here today. I appreciate it.

Allan (1:25): The book we’re going to talk about today is called Habit That! And I talk to a lot of people about habits and things that we do. With my clients I’m talking about it, we talk about it on the podcast from time to time. I’m a big fan of exploring your habits and understanding what they’re doing for you or against you, depending on the nature of it. So I really did enjoy this deep dive into healthy habits.

Dr. Jaime Hope (1:53): Thank you. It’s so important. We have a lot more habits in our lives than we realize. It finally took me some time to discover if we can hack human nature and use it for good instead of bad, we can actually get a lot healthier.

Allan (2:09): Absolutely. I kind of equate it this way when I’m talking to folks: Did you drive to work today the same way you drove yesterday? It’s a habit. The first time you drove to that office, you probably didn’t know exactly where it was and you had to think about it. And then over time you may have actually developed a shorter route where you figured out, “It’s best for me not to get on the express way because it’s going to be backed up, so it’s easier for me to go this route.” Then once you have that notched in, you’re almost on autopilot.

Dr. Jaime Hope (2:36): Yeah. Have you ever gotten home and realized you didn’t remember any of the drive?

Allan (2:40): It’s scary.

Dr. Jaime Hope (2:42): It’s a little scary, but it’s because it was such a habit. You took the directions off your cognitive load and you were able to listen to a podcast, sing along to the radio, curse at the drivers in front of you. Please don’t do that. That’s what’s so interesting about habits. Once you remove it from that level of conscious thought, it’s really good, except when you’re driving, of course.

Allan (3:07): We all want to get to a certain spot, and having that notched in for us makes it that much easier. But as people go, we’re going to have folks that are going to have objections, and in your book, you go through six major objections. Could you take a little bit of time and go through each one and what we can do if that’s what our inner enemy, or frenemy, is going to do for us? How do we get the right mindset to overcome those objections?

Dr. Jaime Hope (3:40): That’s really common. We start with this great idea, “New Year’s! Hooray! Happy New Year” or whatever time of year it is. Like, “Yes, I want to be healthy, I’m going to lose weight, I’m going to do these things.” And then immediately it’s that other voice inside your head that is like, “Well, this and this and this.” I’ve been practicing medicine for 13 years, so rest assured it’s not my first day at this. And with all the patients I talk to, there were a lot of objections that kept coming up over and over and over. Those are the six that I discuss in the book. So let’s dive into number one. People talk about “the knowledge”: “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to use the knowledge that I have. I don’t know what’s a good source of knowledge.” So some people take that very easy objection and just say, “Well, I don’t know, so I give up.” Clearly those people weren’t very deeply connected to why they want to do what they want to do. That’s an objection and it’s legitimate, but the example I use in the book is, you’re at the gym and you don’t know how to use the squat machine and you want to. You can quit the gym, quit fitness altogether, or you could go ask somebody how to use the squat machine, or look up a video on YouTube.

Allan (5:01): And I’ll tell you right now, if you find a personal trainer that’s on the floor – when you work at a gym like that, you get assigned to the floor – they will help you. They don’t want you to get hurt. Just ask us.

Dr. Jaime Hope (5:14): They want to help you. They don’t want to see you screwing it up. In fact, I had one very politely come over and say, when I was doing an exercise, “May I offer a suggestion?” I knew that this was going to be something good and useful since clearly I was doing it wrong enough that they came over. So I was like, “Of course, absolutely.” And of course they were right. Like you said, Allan, they don’t want you to use the machine incorrectly. They’re not going to charge you $1,200 to answer a question.

Allan (5:41): No, no. They’re also not going to train you for free, but there’ll be glad to tell you, “This is how you use this machine” or, “This is how you do this lift properly.” And probably make some other recommendations that are going to keep you safe.

Dr. Jaime Hope (5:54): Yes. I’m very pro trainer. I’ve had physical trainers. I usually do multiple sessions a year and keep on an ongoing thing to make sure that I’m doing it correct. So by all means, if you can, definitely get a trainer. So, talking again back to this objection about knowledge gap. Sometimes the gap is, “I don’t know what to eat. This website tells me this is healthy and this website tells me if I eat this, I’m going to burst into flames. What am I supposed to do?” It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. You’re going to see so many conflicting things out there. Now there’s a new fad diet coming up every week, it’s hard to know what’s healthy and what’s not. So, I help teach people about, number one, common sense. If somebody is telling you that donuts are the healthiest food because they happen to be the author of the Magical Donut diet – that seems a little bit suspicious. It’s pretty hard to argue against things like broccoli, for instance. So really any diet that’s saying that’s completely horrible for you is ridiculous. So, applying your common sense to it. Then looking at, what are the qualifications of the resource that’s telling you this information? What type of bias might be playing into it? It’ll help you decide what’s going to be the best information. So, on to objection number two. Are you ready for this one?

Allan (7:17): Yup.

Dr. Jaime Hope (7:18): Okay. So, this one I get: “Why bother trying your new thing? I have tried a million other things and it never works, so I quit.” Allan, have you ever had clients that have said that?

Allan (7:31): Typically no. I’ve had people that didn’t become clients for that reason. I’m talking to them and they’re wanting to work out and do something to lose weight. And I say, “First let’s talk about what you’re eating.” And they’re like, “I’ve been on every diet and that just doesn’t work.” Like you said, they tend at that point to say, “I don’t need your help. You’ll just tell me to take another diet.” I’m not actually talking about a diet. I’m talking about something different. I can’t help someone who’s not interested in really making the change, so I can’t help them overcome this objection. I can’t convince you to not eat the donut if you want to eat the donut.

Dr. Jaime Hope (8:23) Right. Short of walking around with a fly swatter and smacking people’s donuts, which I also don’t recommend.

Allan (8:29): Which we don’t do. We’re there for three to five hours a week at most and then you’ve got a whole 170 odd other hours. So you have to overcome this objection yourself.

Dr. Jaime Hope (8:40): You really do. This is a mindset objection, and in a lot of ways they’re not wrong. Sometimes they have tried a bunch of diets and they all failed. But then if you go through their history and look at the diets they’ve tried, you and I both know this – they’ve all been crap. They’ve been some ridiculous gimmicks, some unhealthy fad diet. So they go into it, they lose a bunch of weight, then they go back to the way they were eating before and gain all the weight back. Rinse and repeat, over and over and over. So what I’m trying to talk to people about this objection is, we’ve got to get off that train. This isn’t about a quick fix or rapid weight loss or gimmicks. And interestingly enough, that’s why people are like, “That’s not sexy. This won’t sell.” Because I’m talking about slow, long-term, sustainable healthy habits. We all want to lose 100 pounds by next week, but these are the people who have tried it all and it doesn’t work. What I’d like to say is to completely throw out that old type of mindset and try something new. Just focus on nourishing your body and being healthier and taking care of the four pillars of health, and eventually people will start to see substantial differences. They just have to be willing to change the way that they look at this. This isn’t a rapid thing, this isn’t a crazy thing. This is the real thing.

Allan (10:07): The way I look at it when I’m talking to folks is, let’s look for that lifestyle. And there’s nothing sexy about it. I can’t sell it. If you write a book, I could write the same exact book, and on the over, I could call it “The Misner Diet”, or I could call it “The Misner Lifestyle”. And the diet book is going to sell a hundred fold more. Mine is The Wellness Roadmap. If I called it “The Wellness Diet”, probably would’ve sold more. But that’s not where my head is and that’s not what I want for my clients.

Dr. Jaime Hope (10:42): I think yours and my values are aligned in a lot of ways. It’s about your overall wellness. It’s your lifestyle, it’s your long-term type of thing. And you’re right, it can be a little bit more difficult to sell. I was told the same thing: “You could call this a diet book.” Absolutely not. It’s not. It’s the anti-diet book. So that’s objection number two, and I think you and I are very similar in the way that we feel about that. Alright, are you ready for number three?

Allan (11:11): Yes.

Dr. Jaime Hope (11:12): “I am doing everything right and I am still not seeing changes.” The way that I dive into this with patients and clients is, find out what exactly it is they are doing that they think they’re doing right. In the book I use the example of this guy. He was very strenuously objecting, saying, “Your healthy food ideas make me fat”, and this and that. And he didn’t understand. When I actually sat down with him and understood what he considered “healthy”, it was crystal clear why he was gaining weight. He had heard that whole “Milk. It does a body good” slogan, heard it was good for you. So he was drinking up to two gallons of whole milk every day. I was astounded by the amount of liquid, first of all. But in his mind he was doing everything, quote, “right”, because he heard that milk was a health food. So sometimes just diving into that makes a difference. But what I also find with patients is maybe they actually truly are following what you and I and a scientist would consider a healthful diet, and maybe they are exercising. But when you step back and take a look at their lifestyle as a whole, they are stressed to the max and they’re not sleeping. And when they’re not taking care of those pillars of their health, the body still stays in that “fight or flight” mode and that long-term chronic stress mode, and even if you are doing everything right, it’s extremely difficult to lose weight. It’s like pushing a ball uphill. That’s the nice thing about having expertise, so people can really look at that. That’s why I specifically go into the four pillars of the book, not just diet and exercise, so people can read for themselves and decide what areas they need to work on the most. And people are sometimes surprised. Alright, objection number four. Are you ready?

Allan (13:03): Yes.

Dr. Jaime Hope (13:05): You’ve probably heard these ones: “I don’t have the time” or, “I don’t have the money.” It’s all about the time: “I’m so busy, I don’t have time to get healthy.” We tend to be very overscheduled in this modern era. We’ve got work, we’ve got friends, we’ve got family obligations. But if people realistically look at how they’re spending their week, I think we’re spending a lot more time on things like TV and social media than people realize. So there are ways to carve out time. I’ve even told people, quite frankly, I would rather they do five minutes of something than to do nothing towards their health. It’s just the way to gain that momentum, to start going, getting into the habit. When my kids were very little and napping, I used to try and exercise when they were napping, except for I still had to do laundry, I had to do writing, I had to do charting and all these other things that were eating into my time. What I realized is that when you have two very active children, instead of trying to schedule around them, I just started scheduling it with them. Incorporate it into your day and into your time. And it’s fun. We have crazy jumping dance parties and we run around the yard. So now I’m getting double duty because I’m getting quality time and fitness time, plus the added bonus that I have healthy, active kids who are seeing how important this is to our lifestyle. So instead of going against your grain, try incorporating it into something you are already doing and already like. If you’re not willing to miss your favorite show, exercise during your favorite show; then you’re getting that time back. So there are a lot of different ways we can play around with time.

Allan (15:01): There’s actually an app now that comes with the iPhone that will tell you how long you were on your iPhone for the week. And my wife is astounded because I’m typically under two hours. I almost never have been on my iPhone in a given week for more than two hours.

Dr. Jaime Hope (15:19): Good for you!

Allan (15:25): If you have an iPhone, go look at that app. It’s how much time you’ve been spending on social media, because that’s probably where you’re spending most of that time. I bet that’s what you’re going to come across, that you actually have a lot more time than you give yourself credit for. And that five minutes that you spent on social media, if you spent that walking up and down the stairs at work or walking out to the mailbox when normally you drop off on the way out, or all the different things that you do, parking a little bit further from the entrance of where you work. All those different things are going to add another three minutes here, another five minutes there. And those little things can make a big difference.

Dr. Jaime Hope (16:05): People get intimidated or they just quit because they don’t have an hour to dedicate to the gym every single day. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t fit stuff in. I absolutely like that, definitely. Do the stairs, park farther away. All those little things start to become habits and you gradually develop a more active lifestyle. I’m sure you’re very well aware of this – the more active you are, the more energy you have. It sounds counterintuitive. People say they are too tired to exercise. But once you can get them over that hump they realize the more you exercise, you actually have more energy and feel better. All those five minutes add up here and there and will give you the energy you need to take it to the next level. Now, of course, the other part of that objection was money. I hear people say they can’t afford a personal trainer, they can’t afford a gym, those types of things. But I think people are sometimes forgetting the amazing amount of free resources that are out there. If you can’t hire your own personal dietician or expert or coach, listen to their podcasts, read the book. Look for videos on YouTube where they’re helping teach you how to do specific exercise. Turn on the radio and dance. You can squat in your living room for free; you could go up and down the stairs for free. So there’s a lot of stuff. People are underestimating what they can do with limited or no resources. 

Allan, I actually work with a homeless shelter in Detroit. This is a shelter that’s specifically designed for people with families – men and women with children, to help get their independence back. So when I go down there and talk to them about how they can also focus on getting healthy, you’re talking about folks that have zero financial resources. They can’t go buy organic, they can’t go join a yoga studio or a gym or hire a trainer. They’re trying to make sure that they have enough food to feed their children for that day. But I bring fun activities that we can do, games that they can play with their kids and get active and silly and fun in the context of the lobby of the homeless shelter. And all of a sudden people see there are things they can do and still accomplish this. It’s very awesome to see that light come on, and it’s very empowering for people to realize they have more resources than they think they do, even if they have no resources.

Allan (18:29): Yes.

Dr. Jaime Hope (18:31): Alright, so on to number five. I hear this: “Now is not a good time.” We’re always busy or there’s something going on in our lives. So, everything had been great except for now things are crazy at work. In my case, one of the examples I use – my mother in law was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and moved in with us full-time while I was working two jobs and the kids and everything else. It would’ve been very easy for me to say, “Now is not a good time to be healthy.” But in reality, that was the time when I needed it the most. When you are under that much stress and busy and everything else, that’s how you get released. That’s how you help your body be strong enough to handle the crazy stress and the things that are going on. So whether you’re taking care of a sick family member or things are really bad at work or you’re going through a financial crisis or something like that, having these healthy habits as your stable base is going to give you the physical and emotional resources you need to meet these challenges, and you’ll actually feel better and not worse for it. So whatever is going on in your lives, I encourage you, even if for five minutes, do something. Self-care isn’t selfish and you can’t carry the weight of the world with a broken back. So it’s really important to keep focusing on these things.

Allan (19:58): I liked the story you told about your father when that was going on, and how he saw that now was absolutely the time. Probably the time when he felt like he needed to be very much more a caregiver, that actually became his fuel.

Dr. Jaime Hope (20:14): Yeah, it’s interesting. This is a man who I adore, who had never been focused on his health in any way. And then suddenly when his wife, my mother in law, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer… This is long hours – sitting there for eight hours during the chemotherapy infusion, hospital visits, stuff like that. He couldn’t even carry her suitcase, he was so out of shape. So that became his reason. He could’ve just sat there and ate donuts in a hospital chair indefinitely, but he knew that he needed help to get stronger for her. And his transformation has been remarkable. He lost 65 pounds.

Allan (20:53): That’s good. That’s really good.

Dr. Jaime Hope (20:55): Yeah. He lived with me, and he’s the kind of stubborn person that’s the last person I was ever going to give advice to. But he started watching what I was doing and doing some of those things; going for very short walks at what his abilities were. He’s 70 years old and he was overweight, and then slowly got stronger and stronger. And as he got that momentum, he started feeling better and better. I forgot the last time he told me over the last two years, he’s logged well over 1,000 miles walking and just making those habits and the differences in his life. Yeah, it’s never a good time. We’re never going to have all the time and money we need. So I say, it’s a random afternoon – why not start right now? 

And the last objection is about, “It just doesn’t fit who I am.” It’s very interesting how we get these mindsets and these labels of ourselves. I talk about somebody who I grew up with, that as he got older, teenage years and beyond, started gaining some weight and he started calling himself “the fat kid” as a joke. He actually wasn’t even fat, but it kind of became his thing; he would juggle his belly. It was interesting the way he started incorporating that label into who he was. Like, “Hey, do you want to go for a bike ride?” “No, I’m the fat kid.” “Three weeks ago you liked going on bike rides. What gives?” I’d had watched him embrace this label so much that he started to behave in a way that was consistent with that label he had given himself and actually gained more weight after that. I talk to patients a lot about what their mindset is. How do you see yourself? Because however you see yourself is how you’re going to act. If you see yourself as a diet failure or a yo-yo dieter or somebody who just can’t stick to something, you’re going to act like that. I love to give people a whole brand new label for themselves and I just say “healthy person.” I don’t like the label “skinny” because skinny isn’t always healthy. When I was growing up, I ate nothing but Cheetos and grilled cheese. I was a terribly unhealthy eater, but I was skinny. They don’t necessarily have to go together. But if you start to see yourself as a healthy person, then you’ll start to treat yourself as a healthy person. And that mindset, that label, sometimes is that first domino that you can knock over and really help move you forward down the right path, instead of calling yourself the wrong thing and then continuing to act consistent with that negative, incorrect label.

Allan (23:45): Absolutely. Now, in the book there was something else that was very, very interesting. I’m very familiar with SMART goals. In fact, I actually even cover that in my book, but I had never had it put together the way you did, calling it SMARTER goals. Could you go through that acronym, what that means and how that is going to help someone effectively have better goals?

Dr. Jaime Hope (24:09): Absolutely, I love this. So, I’m an assistant professor at our medical school, teaching motivational interviewing and behavior changes, as I’m sure you know. And the person who used to do the lectures before me was a lovely person, but also being really boring. Goal setting doesn’t have to be that complicated. So I started looking up the SMART acronym, and depending on which source you look at, it can mean something slightly different. But I was specifically teaching health protective behavior changes. So I changed it to SMARTER to add the additional elements that were consistent with the teachings that I wanted to get across. And so far it’s gone really well. 

The S is “specific”. I don’t mean “I want to lose 40 pounds”, not that kind of specific, because that is an outcome. What is the specific action that you are going to do? I have a SMARTER goals worksheet and I truly encourage people to put one goal per sheet. Say for instance your bigger goal maybe is that you want to lose 40 pounds, but the action that you’re going to take, this SMARTER action is that you are going to exercise for a minimum of 15 minutes, five days a week. That’s very specific. I’m talking I want granular, I want to know all of those different pieces. M is for “motivation”. So, why is it that you want to achieve this particular goal? We all know that we should make healthier habits, in the same way that smokers know they shouldn’t smoke. I mean it says it right there on the pack. This is not a surprise to anybody that these are bad for them, but people do it anyway. If you really want to make a true change, you have to be connected with your motivation. What is your real “Why” for quitting? In the 13 years of talking to patients about this, very rarely is it something like, “Because I care about my cholesterol” or something like that. It’s more of very personal things I’ve heard people say: “I want to be comfortable having sex with the lights on without a T-shirt.” “Every man in my family died of a heart attack in their 40s and I don’t want to do that.” “I was playing with my kids and I was so winded I had to sit down and it made me feel awful. It’s not the kind of example I want to be for my kids.” So it needs to be something that you are deeply connected with. You can’t assign it to somebody else. They have to choose their real “Why”. And then every time you start getting off of the habit of doing this, reconnecting with that motivation is going to be the thing that helps keep you going. The A is for “action plan”. You’re going to use action-oriented statements, so you’re going to say, “I will work out for 15 minutes, at least five times a week.” You are going to be specific. I want to know the time, I want to know the location, I want to know the equipment. Who, what, when, where, why, how are you going to do this? And it’s going to increase your chance of success. You need to look at your schedule and say, “How am I going to fit this in for five times this week? This day I’m going to go for a walk. This day I’m going to do home exercises while I watch my favorite TV show.” Fit it into your schedule and into your lifestyle because that’s the only way you’re really going to make it work. 

R is for “roadblocks”. Also, I like to call it “reality”, because things happen. People, time, circumstances are going to come up and make it more difficult to achieve your goal. Say your goal for next Tuesday was to walk outside for 15 minutes, and then it happens to be a torrential downpour. You don’t say you’re not going to exercise at all. You just have to know that was a potential possibility, so what’s your backup plan? I like people to list every possible thing that could go wrong in achieving their goal. In this case, the example of exercising five times a week – what could go wrong? Your car could break down, you could sprain your ankle, you could get bit by a dinosaur on the way to work. You never know. So, say your car breaks down. What’s going to be your plan for that? Say you sprain your ankle. How do you still want to be able to work out? You can do a rowing thing, you could do an upper body type of thing. If the dinosaur bites you, I feel like that would be very interesting and you could probably make a lot of money with that story. Then use that money to hire a trainer. So I get people in the habit of pre-anticipating common roadblocks and knowing what they’re going to do about it, so when it does happen they’re ready for it. It’s another mindset habit. Then T is for “timetable”. The goal should be, I like to call it grounded, yet ambitious. So if your goal is to do two sit-ups in 2019, that’s specific and you’re very likely to achieve it. But that’s not really going to do anything. If your goal is to do 2,000 sit-ups every single day in 2019, that’s going to be a little bit more difficult, especially if you’re starting from a baseline of zero. So I want the goal to be something that you’re stretching a little bit to, but not so unrealistic you have absolutely no possibility of achieving it. And then breaking it down into specific time. What can you do today? What can you do in a week? What can you do in a month? And what do you want to accomplish in a year? It just makes it seem so much less intimidating than trying to tackle the whole thing all at once. We’re almost done. We already did SMART; now we’re on the ER part. E is the “evaluate and evolve” type of thing. So if your original goal was working out 15 minutes a day for five days a week and you find that while you’re exercising, you’re usually going longer and you feel great – expand your goal. Make it a little bit longer; that’s okay. If it was too easy, make it harder. If it was legitimately too hard, dial it down. It’s okay to make adjustments based on the context of your life, because still your biggest overall goal is to be a healthy person. That’s the focus, so this exercise goal that you’ve set is specifically aiming at that ideal. And then just helping keep up your enthusiasm. The last one, the R, is “record and reward”. Anything that you do that is measured improves, and anything you do that is measured and recorded improves exponentially. So I encourage people to, whether it’s on a plain piece of paper or through an app or any other way, when they make the goal, I want to see you recording it, writing it down, and then you can preset rewards into that. So, if your goal is that number of workouts and at the end of the month if you hit that, choose a reward. And choose a reward that’s consistent with a healthy lifestyle. I’m not saying to go eat a dozen donuts as a reward for working. Buy a new pair of shoes, buy a great workout outfit, do something like that. So, finding that way to write it down. And give yourself credit for all the amazing things that you’ve been doing. I put it all out on a sheet for people and it’s in the book. If we work smarter, not harder, as they say, it makes it so much easier to reach our goals.

Allan (31:53): That’s one thing I liked about your book Habit That!, was in the back you basically put all these different tools to help us go through. So the appendices are extremely valuable.

Dr. Jaime Hope (32:02): Thank you. And I have free PDF versions on my website as well. It’s all open access. It’s free, it’s available. Download it, print it out, use it however you want. I want people to have this information.

Allan (32:15): So they’re setting SMARTER goals.

Dr. Jaime Hope (32:17): Yes, exactly.

Allan (32:20): One of the things that I think has really gone haywire in America is that we have kind of lost context of what a serving is. A lot of people will say, “I’m eating the right things. I don’t think I’m overeating. I might have a little bit of this or a little bit of that, but I’m not eating that much of it.” And when you get to talking to them, you realize that was probably more than a serving, because the bag has three servings and you ate the bag. Or we go to a restaurant and it’s’ like, “Here’s a 12-ounce steak.” And I’m like, “That’s three servings of beef. Box, please.” You use the hand, which I thought was really, really good. If someone wants to understand what a portion of something is, how can they use their hand as a base guideline?

Dr. Jaime Hope (33:11): I’ve seen products over the years where you can purchase different sizing things for a serving size, but can you imagine taking that into a nice steakhouse? Nobody’s going to invite you to dinner anymore, let’s just put it that way. I always say the power to portion control is in the palm of your hand. So, if you look at your closed fist, that’s generally about a half cup. Looking at servings of grains, if you eat grains and stuff like that; half cup vegetables. You generally want to do at least double that. But that’s approximately the right size. Stretch out your index finger and from that last line, that last joint, till the end – that’s about a teaspoon. So when we were looking at toppings and spreads and stuff like that that are less healthy, sticking to that guide. Now, I’m like you – I’m all for healthy fats. We used to say, “Limit fats to that size”, and I disagree with that; I think we should have healthy fats in more abundance. But if you’re going to have something that’s an unhealthy fat, that’s what you would aim for. And if you look at your thumb, from that line at the end to the end of your thumb – that’s a tablespoon. So you’ve got about a teaspoon on your first finger and a tablespoon on your thumb. And then your open palm is generally about the size of an appropriate serving of meat for your body size. My son is five years old, so if I gave him the size of meat serving for a grown adult, that would be crazy. You can just look at their hand and that’s approximately the size you’re looking for. So if you’re staring down that 12-ounce steak or heaven forbid, the 42-ounce porterhouse…

Allan (34:58): I’ve done that.

Dr. Jaime Hope (35:02): Aiming for something that’s about that size. And what I do at restaurants is, like you said, box. I really do. I will cut the appropriate serving size that I’m going to eat, put the rest in a box and then eat my dinner. Because the longer you sit there in front of it, the more you tend to want to nibble and go. And then we do that thing: “Well, I’m almost done with it, so I might as well finish it.”

Allan (35:23): “There is no sense taking these last three ounces home.”

Dr. Jaime Hope (35:26): “It’s not worth saving, so I might as well eat it.” It’s this hilarious mindset. I have a graphic for this. It’s in the book and it’s also open access. It’s available, so people can take a look at that and see.

Allan (35:38): Cool. And I think that’s really helpful as you’re looking at this, because in a general sense when people are talking about the calories and all of that, if you are off by serving sizes, you can be way off. I’m not going to say “calories in, calories out” is this perfect model, but there is some basis to it. If you eat more calories than your body needs, it has to put it somewhere and it’s going to be putting it as body fat. So, if weight loss, or fat loss is a better term, is something you’re after, portion control is going to be a part of it. That means knowing what portions are and then eating slow enough that your body can say, “Hey, that’s probably enough.”

Dr. Jaime Hope (36:20): It truly has gotten out of hand. If you just go to your average coffee house and order a muffin – those giant things that they’re telling us is a muffin – that’s about four servings. Who cuts up a muffin into quarters and shares it? We have; we’ve gone off the rails. And like you said, we eat it so fast we don’t have time to register that we’re full until it’s a little bit too late. And then we’re stuffed.

Allan (36:44): Now, talking about muffins, you have this term, and I guess it comes from a meme that I hadn’t seen until I read your book, but it’s called “muffin moments”. And I think all of us will relate to these events that happen to us that you call muffin moments. Could you give us a little bit on that?

Dr. Jaime Hope (37:06): I have a fairly ridiculous sense of humor. I love memes, I think they’re hilarious. I’m never tired of seeing them on Facebook. Unfortunately, sometimes I’ll find myself in a rabbit hole of time, just flipping through memes. I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I just spent 15 minutes doing that.” But I remember I saw one that was so hilariously ridiculous. It was this giant muffin that had landed on and crushed someone’s car; like a meteor, but a muffin. And the caption of the meme said, “Suddenly, a muffin!” And I remember laughing so hard. That’s how life happens sometimes. You’re driving along and you think, “Worst case scenario, I’m going to get in a traffic jam. And suddenly, a muffin! I wasn’t expecting that.” I’ve definitely had some muffin moments. One of them, I was on the squat machine at the gym and unfortunately I didn’t ask somebody how it worked. I thought I knew what I was doing, I wasn’t pressing that much weight. It was the end of my workout, I was just killing a few more minutes. And my back felt a little stiff while I was doing it. And then as I got off the machine, I could hardly walk. I slipped a disc on the squat press machine at my gym, like an idiot. And I had this great workout plan. I’d had all these things on my calendar, I was super excited, and now I could barely walk. Now I’m 39, I turn 40 this year. This was a couple of years ago, and I’m like, “I’m in my middle 30s and I need a walker. This is awful and ridiculous.” I certainly wasn’t expecting that. That was a bigger muffin than I had planned on. I did the thing where I figured I can just push through it, and made it worse. And then I finally was like, “I’m a very well educated physician. Perhaps I should take my own advice that I give to my patients, rehabilitate this properly.” And even when I was writing this book, I had a two-hour phone call scheduled with my editor and I emailed him in the middle of the night saying, “I just had an emergency appendectomy that I wasn’t really expecting, so can we change our appointment?” So, those things are going to happen. Some of them you can anticipate when you’re doing the roadblocks in your SMARTER goals, and sometimes stuff is just going to hit you. And if you’re really connected with your “Why”, why you want to do this, and that big overall picture of being a healthy person, it makes it easier to stay on track. When I hurt my back, my goal wasn’t to be an Olympic athlete, it was to be a healthy person. So some days all I could do was go for a walk. I went from being a runner to a very slow walker, but not overdoing it, because that’s not consistent with being a healthy person either. So when you’ve got a stable foundation of those, it makes it a lot easier for you when those muffins come along.

Allan (39:55): I had one of my muffin moments. I was training for a Spartan. I’d hired a coach, a personal trainer, Dave. Coach Dave was helping me get stronger and stronger, because I really wanted to make sure for this Spartan, I was able to do the strength part of it. And then I was doing the other stuff because in the Spartan when you can’t do an obstacle or you fail at an obstacle, you have to do 25 burpees. I did a lot of burpees. But what happened was right before the race, about probably two weeks out from the race, I tore a rotator cuff.

Dr. Jaime Hope (40:36): Oh no!

Allan (40:37): And I knew it was torn. I knew it was completely torn when it happened and I knew exactly what I was feeling. Instead of saying all is lost, I said, “What can I do?” So I stopped doing pressing movements and shoulder movements, because those were aggravating the shoulder, but I could still do pulling movements, I could still do all the other lifts that I wanted to do. I just didn’t do the presses as much. We moved it over to the Smith machine. I’m not a huge fan of the Smith machine, or machines, unless you need them for recovery. So we did move to machines; it helped me. I went and I did the Spartan. It was not fun but I got it done, because it was my goal. It was something I really wanted to do. I also skydived that weekend, so it was really cool.

Dr. Jaime Hope (41:35): That’s a great reward!

Allan (41:36): But as soon as we finished the race, I did the skydiving, then I went to the surgeon, did the MRI. I had the surgery on a Thursday, I was meeting with my physical therapist on Monday. So three days later, I’m in PT. And because I had kept moving, I had much better range of motion in the shoulder than he said he’s seen from anyone with a tear close to mine.

Dr. Jaime Hope (42:04): Good for you!

Allan (42:06): And he was used to dealing with college athletes, Division I football players and whatnot. So, I felt pretty good about that. And then I did everything he told me to do. I did all my homework, I did all of it to get my shoulder recovered. So, just realize that these muffin moments are going to happen. You still can find a path forward. You’re going down the highway, the interstate. It’s great to be able to drive down the interstate at 70-75 miles per hour if you’re within the speed limit. And then there’s a traffic jam and your app is telling you to take the next exit and go on the frontage road for five miles. That’s going to slow you down. You’re going to be later than you thought you’d be, but you’re still moving forward.

Dr. Jaime Hope (42:50): That’s a perfect analogy. And one of the reasons that you were able to recover so well was that you had this healthy base. You were already living healthy, so as those things come along, you’re ready. I love how you kept your goal, and I love, on behalf of all clinicians everywhere, that you did your homework. That makes me so happy!

Allan (43:09): I did my homework. I’m a personal trainer and I’ll be the first to admit that – and you have the four pillars in your book – food is probably the most important one relative to health. I even put stress and sleep above exercise, because I’ve seen those hold people back so much more than exercise can move you forward. But if you hurt yourself, go to the doctor, get it fixed, don’t think it’s just going to fix itself. A slipped disc, a torn rotator cuff – we’re going to deal with those things, those muffin moments. Get it fixed. See the physical therapist, get yourself well, and then it’s time to go back to training. Make sure you’re doing the things to heal yourself before you try to tough it through. This is not a grit contest; you’re not going to get any points for grinding your way through things in life.

Dr. Jaime Hope (44:11): There’s no trophy if your arm falls off just because you were too stupid to go get it checked.

Allan (44:18): This is all about taking care of yourself.

Dr. Jaime Hope (44:20): Yes, absolutely.

Allan (44:23): I’ve got one more question. I define “wellness” as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

Dr. Jaime Hope (44:37): I love this. This is so fun. So, my number one thing is sleep. Please, please, please, sleep more. We are not getting enough sleep. We’re not getting quality sleep. We’re interrupting our sleep with electronics and lights and all this other stuff. Like you said, it’s hard to exercise if you’re exhausted. It’s hard to lose weight with diet if you’re exhausted. It’s honestly hard to function. When you’re sleep deprived a certain number of hours, it’s like taking a shot of whiskey. That’s not how you want to live your life. You’re not having this high level cognitive function, you don’t recover as well, you get sick more often and you can’t hit your other goals. I think it’s that secret one that people don’t focus on enough, so I’m choosing that as my number one – sleep.

Number two – I love to remind people that self-care isn’t selfish. We have this crazy idea that we have to run ourselves into the ground and work a billion hours, because people actually do reward you: “Oh, you worked 60 hours this week. 100 hours? Oh, you’re so amazing! High five!” That’s crazy. If you’re trying to run a high level company or take care of your children or a sick parent or anything, if you’re taking care of yourself and your health is solid, you’ll be so much better able to do all those other things. So you have to make this a priority. You can integrate it in your family time. There are tons of different ways you can do it, but self-care is not selfish.

And number three is, look for the experts. Unfortunately, the diet industry, the whole weight loss health industry, they say 40 billion – I think that’s a conservative estimate. If you’re looking for quackery and gimmicks and crap, I assure you you can find it. So, looking for experts in what you’re doing. If you need help with exercises, talk to a physical trainer, even if you hire them for a few sessions. If you hurt yourself, go to a doctor, go to a physical therapist. Go to the people who know what they’re doing so you can learn how to do it correctly, instead of spending substantially more time trying to fix the mistakes that you made on the backend. So absolutely, the experts are experts for a reason. Listen to audio books, listen to podcasts. These people like Allan are out there. I’ve been listening to the other podcasts and I think this is really helpful. So use the resources of the experts; it’s all at your fingertips.

Allan (47:15): Awesome. Thank you, Jaime. If someone wanted to learn more about you or the book, Habit That!, where would you like for me to send them?

Dr. Jaime Hope (47:24): My website is DrHopeHealth.com. That’s where I’ve got the free PDFs for the SMARTER goals, the 12 reasons, a bunch of different things that you can print out for free. I run a Facebook group called The HabitThat Tribe for regular, realistic people who are trying to incorporate healthier habits into their lives, whether it’s about stress or diet or anything like that. It’s a supportive tribe for people who are just looking to get healthier. I’m on Twitter @DrHopeHealth, and the book is available on Amazon.

Allan (48:04): Awesome. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/373 and I’ll be sure to have links to all of those there. Dr. Hope, again, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

Dr. Jaime Hope (48:16): Allan, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you for what you do. It really matters and I am very grateful to be a part of it.

Allan (48:22):Thank you.

I hope that you enjoyed today’s episode and that you took something valuable from it. I work hard to try to bring the best possible guests to the show. Typically, that’s me reaching out to them. Occasionally, publicists will also reach out to me. But it does take some time to get them scheduled and get them on the show and make sure that we’re giving you the best possible content that I can from their book and from what their thoughts are. And I do hope that you’re getting some value out of each and every episode, because I do put a good bit of time into making sure that happens for you.

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