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After dealing with a health setback, Gillian Lockitch made some changes to reclaim the joy of her life, dance. On Episode 588 of the 40+ Fitness Podcast, we discuss how she did it and about her book, Growing Older, Living Younger.
[00:02:42.690] – Allan
Hey, Ras. How are you?
[00:02:44.370] – Rachel
Good, Allan. How are you today?
[00:02:46.580] – Allan
I'm good. I've been kind of busy and I know I've kind of come on this show every week. I'm busy, I'm busy.
[00:02:54.400] – Rachel
You are always busy.
[00:02:56.710] – Allan
But it's like, you know, there's just there's all these different things that I want to do for my business, for myself and whatever. And so I did get the level two Master Health Coach with precision nutrition. But another thing that I've been doing on this side when I had time is I've been getting on other podcasts. So I'm being interviewed on other podcasts, and I was recently on one called Fit MIT turo. Now MIT in German means with. So fit with turo is the English translation of fit mit turo.
[00:03:32.070] – Rachel
[00:03:32.900] – Allan
And so I just share a bunch of tips, and I do focus my tips on things that are beneficial to people over 40. I think he just turned 40, but if you go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/turo, that's T-U-R-O that'll take you to his episode. I was on episode 89 that just went live a week or so ago. And so you can listen to that there as I hear about the other ones, Erin, because I did over been, like twelve to 13 interviews over the last three months, but for one reason or another, a lot of them haven't been published. So, as I hear about one being published, I'll try to let you guys know.
[00:04:10.590] – Rachel
[00:04:11.420] – Allan
And I'll probably start posting this stuff on Facebook, too. So if you're part of our Facebook group, you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/group. You can join our Facebook group, and I'll be posting links and things there as well.
[00:04:23.960] – Rachel
Great. That's awesome. Sounds fun.
[00:04:27.050] – Allan
So, how are things up there?
[00:04:28.710] – Rachel
Good. I think I told you last week it was spring. Now we're back to winter again. I know we had some snow over the weekend, but we just had a lovely weekend. Anyway, we did a lot of outside chores before the snow started, but it's nice to have kind of spring and to be able to spend some time outside. Now I got a break from it.
[00:04:52.030] – Allan
Well, you know, Lucy is going to pull that football away, right?
[00:04:55.170] – Rachel
As you exactly. Yeah, that's exactly what happens up here in Michigan. So hopefully spring will come back pretty soon. But just staying busy, doing things around the house, getting the yard ready. Yeah, it's fun stuff.
[00:05:07.920] – Allan
All right. You ready to have a conversation with Gill?
[00:05:10.700] – Rachel
[00:06:07.990] – Allan
Gill, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
[00:06:10.960] – Gillian
Thank you. I'm delighted to be here.
[00:06:13.940] – Allan
Now, your book, Growing Older, Living Younger: the Science of Aging Gracefully and the Art of Retiring Comfortably. I love that title because it kind of blends some things that kind of been a theme here, and a lot of books that have come out recently and books that have been around for a while is think all of us look at getting older with some trepidation. There's this aging curve that we're going to fall down and then we're going to end up at the bottom of this thing. And in many cases we're not doing it gracefully, we're not doing it gracefully. And then we're looking at retirement. And what we see is most people who are in retirement age are not living well. Their health span is gone and their lifespan is long. And so they're going through all these health issues. And many of us now, particularly in our forty s and fifty s, are kind of in that middle zone of our parents at that point where we're seeing these things with our parents, or in some cases unfortunately, have seen these things with our parents because they passed and we're still busy raising kids.
[00:07:25.710] – Allan
So we're in this sandwich generation and I think there's some blessings in this because we get to look back, look forward, literally. Our parents are our look into the future if we live the way they live. And so I want to talk about that. And I think that's one of the cool things about this book is your story and then your experience as a doctor and a scientist and how you've pulled this all together to kind of give us the tools to really look at that in a good way.
[00:07:55.620] – Gillian
The premise behind the book is that we do not need to age as our parents and grandparents did because we have tools and mechanisms and strategies. Now that we're aware of that, we can change things. And again, the premise is that instead of going on a steady downhill to old age, we actually keep healthy, active, vibrant right until the end. And then just go clunk. That's my philosophy.
[00:08:27.500] – Allan
Just go clunk. Now to start out this book, if we're going to understand the science, then we have to understand the human body. And to me the science of the human body is probably the most complex science of any of the sciences out there. We keep learning new things. I know when I was in school, all the way up until college, we were learning about genetics. And it was the simple certain genes are going to make your eye color blue, some of they're going to make them brown. And if you have four kids and this parents, then you're going to have three with brown eyes and one with blue eyes. And that's kind of how genetics work. And then we got into Epigenetics and when I first started learning about that, these are like the dip switches on our old computers. I had an Epson, which is a clone of an IBM. It had all these little dip switches in the back. So if you wanted the computer to function a certain way, you had to move the dip switch. So it was either on or off. So we were taught genes were either on or off.
[00:09:30.140] – Allan
Recently though, we've learned that genes are more like a dimmer switch and there's tens of thousands of permutations of each gene, which means there's billions and billions and billions untold billions, maybe trillions of options, if you will, of how our operating system, our genetic genome, is actually going to function. And so you start getting it, it's like, wow, this is so complex. How is someone going to learn what this is? And I've read a few books, a lot of them lose me. But you had this analogy of a corporate factory that I think gives us kind of this gives us enough of a picture of this to really kind of understand how much control we have. So can you talk about your corporate factory analogy of epigenetics?
[00:10:22.070] – Gillian
Well, I thought that the absolute key to understanding our bodies and our metabolism is the realization that we are in fact a factory that operates 24 hours a day, nonstop basically from the time of conception until the time that we die. And so I think about it as if you think about a factory. First of all, it's a business, right? So there is a CEO who is responsible for setting the vision, setting the goals, setting the direction. And I think of our mind as that and I'll go back to that in a bit. Underneath the CEO is somebody who is responsible for actually keeping the factory operating. And I call that the COO. Chief Operating Officer. And it's really fascinating that everything, all our metabolism, all our activities are really controlled by our COO, which is a master clock that is located in the hypothalamus of our brain. And that master clock directs all our circadian rhythms and sends messages to minor little clocks in every single organ that basically regulates how our metabolism works. So the next component, the chief operating officer is responsible for workshops. So I sort of think about the individual organ systems, for example, our heart or tissues, muscles, that sort of thing, as an independent little sub factory or workshop within the overall business.
[00:12:18.750] – Gillian
And in each of those factory workshops there are a number of units where all the business of the factory happens. And those are our cells. Within our cells we have tools that build things, break them down, detoxify. And those all require building blocks and nutrients. They require energy to perform. They require messages and signals to tell them how much they need to make when they need to stop making things. And then finally they need to figure out exactly how much to make. So if you sort of think about the factory, your body is a factory that's working 24 hours a day, nonstop. Every single cell is active. Then you realize that there's a lot of things that your body needs to function efficiently. So you need to be able to generate the energy for all of those cells, you need to supply them with the building blocks, whether it's amino acids to make proteins or micronutrients to make the reactions work well. So that's basically how I sort of conceive the metabolism and the functioning of the body.
[00:13:54.010] – Allan
The reason I like that is because it gives you a picture of how complex this is. Because if one part of the factory keeps making stuff when the other parts of the factory don't need it, you've got a dysfunction there. And when we get dysfunction in the body, it tells us in one area we start feeling bad, our energy levels are low, we start dealing with different problems, chronic diseases, things like that. And so by us doing the right things for ourselves, we're helping with that signaling. Like, an example would be if we don't sleep well, then we don't close down certain factories for them to be cleaned up, like our brain. And so if we don't sleep well, then we don't have time in the brain, which is a pretty important part of this factory, to do the cleaning that's necessary. The cleaning crew can't come in, and if it can't come in, eventually the brain doesn't function as well. The brain is not functioning as well, then it's not doing its job as the CEO and COO of this factory, and therefore the whole factory doesn't function well.
[00:15:04.980] – Gillian
Exactly. Yeah. So it goes even a little bit further. And sleep, obviously, is one of the absolutely critical things, because we know that that whole master clock is essentially controlled by light and dark that sets the circadian rhythms. So if you're not responding to that signal that you need to sleep again, it disrupts the entire system. And this is why people who have sleeping disorders, or why jet lag, for example, affects the way people can perform and basically feel during the day.
[00:15:49.470] – Allan
I'd like to get into your story a little bit because I think it shines a light on how we can kind of approach this. Some of us are younger than you, some of us might be a little older than you, but you found yourself overweight near that Obese line, and you made some pretty hard decisions at that point in your life. I think, similar to my story, I made a decision, but it took me eight years before I really clicked in and actually got it. I think in your story, you said it took ten. So can you tell us a little bit about your story? Because I think it's important for us to see that a lot of us are finding ourselves in our middle age, and we're all in the same place, and there's a way out.
[00:16:38.910] – Gillian
Well, I think it's important to realize that I actually was very conscious of being fit and healthy. I exercised, I ate well, and I didn't realize prior to this catastrophic event that my weight was still creeping up bit by bit by bit. So when I got married, I weighed about 112 lbs. I was in my 20s, and by the time this sort of catastrophic event had occurred, I'd weighed a lot more than that. But what happened was that I experienced a period of extreme sciatic pain as a result of spinal stenosis, which is when your vertebrae, the area through which the nerves run close down through extra bone buildup and compress the nerves. And I had this experience of this catastrophic sciatic episode where literally for four months, I was unable to really do much walking. I was a couch potato and depressed and couldn't do all the things that brought me joy in life. And that was when I really had a major increase in my weight. So I found myself basically 40 lbs over what my ideal weight was and really wasn't sort of I was too depressed, quite honestly, to think about the impact that it was having on my health.
[00:18:14.660] – Gillian
And then I ended up having an emergency spinal surgery. And it was only when I was recovering from that with a determination that I wanted to be able to go on a ballroom dance cruise ten months later, that I really started realizing that I was on a downward trajectory from a health point of view, and that I had to do something about it. And that was the genesis of what is now my roadmap to aging youthfully and keeping well and getting rid of all the what we call age associated disorders. They're not really age associated, they are unhealthy living associated disorders. So that's basically my story of how this all came about.
[00:19:08.510] – Allan
Okay, now, one of the things I think that I read that you was kind of driving you was your parents history of heart disease. Can you talk a little bit about that and what that meant to you?
[00:19:21.090] – Gillian
Right, well, both my parents died of coronary artery disease and then heart attacks. And the experience, particularly of my mother's death was amazingly impactful for me because she literally had a heart attack, died in front of me, and I was unable to resuscitate her. So I had been aware of our family history of heart disease and attending a preventative health program. I've got a lot to say about that because mainly what they were trying to do was get me onto a statin. And also the nutritional advice that I was given at that time I thought was really poor. So basically one of the things that I realized I had to attack as I was creating my roadmap to age well was to figure out what were the things that were putting me at risk for heart disease. And so for me, the primary thing is nutritional obesity, inactivity. And so those were the kind of things that I focused on to create a heart healthy me.
[00:20:43.530] – Allan
Well, you weren't 29 years old when this happened. This was later in your life because a lot of people say, oh, well, of course she lost £40 because she was 20 something years old. And that's when it's easy to lose this weight. You're a wee bit older than that, right?
[00:20:59.860] – Gillian
I was a lot older than that. It was well past I'd been retired from medicine for, gosh, I can't even remember how many years. Probably about ten years at the time. So I was certainly not the I was I was in the age category where it it's almost inevitable if you don't watch it, that you will massively gain weight.
[00:21:24.730] – Allan
Right. The reason I wanted to bring that up is I've had a lot of people say, well, it's impossible to lose weight. It's impossible for a woman after the age of 50 to lose weight. And proof positive, no, it's not. You just have to do the right things for yourself.
[00:21:39.970] – Gillian
Well, I described very clearly how, when I was recovering from the surgery, and I realized I had to lose weight. And I started initially, I had followed all the wrong nutritional information, which professionally and intellectually I knew was wrong, but the recommendations were so pervasive. Eat three meals a day and keep your blood sugar level. My first step was to realize that essentially what I had to do was cut out carbs. And I went on I would call a low carb diet almost keto, but not keto. And immediately the effects that I saw from that was my mood was improved. I didn't have that hangry sort of anger, hunger sensation. Around about 10:00 in the morning, I sort of describe how I was working at one stage when I was trying to lose weight, and I had these amazing muffins that I made, which were brand muffins packed with delicious dried fruits, apricots and everything, and that was my breakfast. So I would head off to before work, I would head off to the exercise class, come back and my breakfast would be this muffin, some yogurt. And by 10:00, I was so hungry again that I sort of make the comment that anybody who sort of dared walk into my office was in danger of being cannibalized because I was so hungry.
[00:23:21.610] – Gillian
And that was the rebound from high carb. Insulin goes up and boom, you crash a little later. But as soon as I started on the low carb diet, basically cutting out potatoes, pizza, rice, anything like that, I found that the first thing that happened was brain fog completely disappeared. I lost all of that hunger and that anger. I just wasn't hungry. And my energy level increased and the weight just started coming off. And then ultimately, I had to go completely keto. And that was when I lost the remaining, I guess, 10 lbs that I wanted to lose in a very short time. And quite honestly, I've adhered to a ketogenic diet, I don't want to call it a diet ketogenic lifestyle ever since, basically eating whole foods, a lot of protein, no carbs other than those that come from certain vegetables and the occasional berries and healthy fats. So I eat all the foods that I love and feel great.
[00:24:37.690] – Allan
Great. Now, your mother had a bout with skin cancer and we really haven't I really haven't talked about skin cancer, but for those of us that were sun lovers when we were younger because it made our young bodies look at least we thought makes our young bodies look nicer, having a nice tan. Many of us are starting to see some of the ramifications of that, be it the age spots, but then of course, every once in a while these things that come up and we have to go see a dermatologist. Your mother had one of those episodes and so as a result you made some changes to the way you care for your skin. Could you tell us about that?
[00:25:20.580] – Gillian
Yes, well, my mom was sort of blonde, blue eyed, and we all grew up in South Africa and I spent a lot of time on the beach slathered with oil, really getting tanned and as you say, brown and feeling it was really cool and sexy. And then we had moved to Canada by the time this episode happened with my mum and she basically said to me jill, there's a funny little sore on my leg and I'm not sure what it is and I didn't know what it is, I'm not a dermatologist. But I thought this is not you're.
[00:26:02.800] – Allan
The doctor in the family, come look at it.
[00:26:05.190] – Gillian
Right. I was an intellectual doctor, all about biochemistry and metabolism. Anyway, it turned out that she had a melanoma and fortunately we got it early, it was removed. But again, my concern because of all these sort of early exposure to sunlight, obviously I am at risk and I've tried to tell my kids to be careful. And there is a dermatologist here who came up with a really interesting slogan and it's on your birthday, check out your birthday suit. To remind people, particularly people who are what we call Fitzpatrick groups, sort of one and two, the blonde, blue, wide, red haired groups of people. But I want to make one interesting point about that. So we haven't really discussed the fact that there is an epigenetic supplement which resets something like 1200 genes throughout your body. And when this particular supplement was introduced, one of the studies that was carried out was a study of 40 people who were in this Fitzpatrick group, one and two, and basically they were looking to see if it could in any way protect against sun damage. And so they basically, on an unexposed part of the body, did three sort of focal areas where they put really small doses, focal doses of UV light in increasing doses and in the one where there was the highest dose, did a little skin biopsy and looked to see count the number of damaged cells.
[00:28:09.170] – Gillian
And then for eight weeks, these 40 people took this one particular supplement that has things like the carotenoids, which like lutein that actually protect against blue light. And at the end of the eight weeks, they repeated the experiment and they found that there was a diminution of the area that looked burnt, the reddish area. But the key thing that was a total surprise and really significant was the fact that in the first biopsy compared to the second biopsy, the number of dead cells were double. So after eight weeks of this particular protection through these carotenoid supplements, the number of dead cells or damaged cells was almost half. So that was really interesting because it was showing that something that one was taking internally had a protective effect on the cells. And I found that really fascinating. So I've been very meticulous about keeping up that particular supplement and touchwood. So far, I'm well older than the age at which my mom's Melanoma was discovered, and so far my skin looks great. So Prevention obviously don't get these huge sunburns. There's recommendations about sun screens. You've got to be really careful because some of them have some toxic ingredients.
[00:29:51.780] – Gillian
They have to be really selective about what you use. And I also think we need sun exposure for vitamin D. I'm not a dermatologist. I'm not practicing medicine. I don't treat or prescribe or anything. I have retired. But I think that that's something preventative things that people should consider.
[00:30:17.910] – Allan
Okay, now I want to spring back a little bit. You were talking about your back surgery, and for a lot of folks, we're going to have an injury. I think your injury you kind of traced back to probably when you were way younger, and then this was just something that progressed from that. That's what I sort of read into the book. I'm not absolutely certain that was the history there, but you always had some aches and pains in your back, but then you had basically a medical emergency, and that's when you had your surgery. Can you talk a little bit about that? And then what's more important, I think, here is to actually talk about your approach towards recovery, because you did a lot of things that I think are very different from the way a lot of people would approach recovery.
[00:31:05.420] – Gillian
Right. I think the first thing is, although I kind of attributed the spinal stenosis to the early back injury that I had when I fell off a horse, I think, in reality, so many people, as a result of osteoarthritis, which is one of the things that sort of happens in the spine, as in all other joints, many people end up with spinal stenosis and severe sciatica. In fact, in the last couple of years, one of my clients and one of my family members has needed to have the exact same surgery for spinal stenosis. So it's far more common whether or not you've fallen off a horse at 17. So for me, I think the key to recovery was mindset because I was bounded and determined that I would not have to give up my ballroom dancing, which was my hobby and passion and my fitness activity. And so I had this surgery in February and to my absolute amazement, it was like a seven hour surgery. I've got metal rods all the way down the right side of my spine still in place. And no, they don't set off anything at airports. But the interesting thing about that was the next morning when I woke up after the seven hour surgery, a physiotherapist came in and said to me, how's the pain?
[00:32:54.200] – Gillian
Do you have any pain? And I thought that was absolutely hilarious because it was the first time in forever that I had absolutely no back pain because I was so doped up on all the intravenous painkillers and things. Anyway, so she says to me, you're going to get out of bed and walk? And I'm thinking, wow, I've just had major spinal surgery. But she got me out of bed and we took the first sort of tentative walks around the ward. So that seemed to me something really important. You don't have to go and sit around and lie around waiting to heal. The most important healing thing is going to be activity. And so when I was discharged after two days from the hospital, having expected to be in there for at least a week to recover, I was really fortunate in that one of my sons had come to be with me for the recovery period. And he said to me, mom, you want to get back on the dance floor? We are going to work at it. And so we started a program of I would go down in the elevator. We have a lovely SeaWalk around the False creek where I live.
[00:34:13.650] – Gillian
And we started off doing 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the afternoon and then increasing it gradually so that by the time he left, I was walking very tentatively and very terrified. But walking for I think it was about 20 minutes either way. And then gradually I increased that. I also was very fortunate in that the physiotherapist had recommended a particular type of rehabilitation walking pole, which was actually invented by a local occupational therapist and she's now built this up into a significant program for aiding in rehabilitation. So with the walking poles, I was able to safely and comfortably go out walking by myself. And gradually, basically, my mindset said, I want to be back dancing. And I think it was by 16 weeks I saw the spinal surgeon and he was amazed at the progress and sort of said, yes, everything is in place, kind of go away, I don't need to see you again. So I think the essence of that was I was at a point in a journey I knew where. I wanted to go, I knew where I was. And so it was really the mindset and the determination of how I could get from point A to point B safely.
[00:35:52.530] – Gillian
One of the other aspects to that is I worked out with a trainer. And for me, the most valuable aspect of that was not that he was saying one more, one more, one more kind of thing, but that he helped me understand that I didn't have to be afraid that what I was doing was going to re injure myself. So again, mindset, having a coach is absolutely critical.
[00:36:24.090] – Allan
What I took away from that was that you put a team together and you had your mission, your passion, you knew where you were going and you got a team together. So you had your physio, you had your trainer, you had your doctor, and you were listening to them and doing the right things for yourself to get yourself where you are. And as a result, you're dancing again.
[00:36:46.290] – Gillian
Right. And I had a dance teacher.
[00:36:49.350] – Allan
And you had a dance teacher. Exactly. Cool.
[00:36:53.010] – Allan
Gill, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
[00:37:01.930] – Gillian
Well, basically, I sort of encompass all of that in what I call, similarly to you, my roadmap for aging youthfully. And the components for me are sort of mind, body, and for one of the better words, spirit. So from the mind perspective, you need to know where you are and where you want to go. And so initially I get people to really understand what their risks are. What is their genetic blueprint that they've inherited, what among those things are foundational that they can actually change? I mean, none of us can predict being knocked over by a car or developing a particular cancer, but there are a lot of things that we can change through lifestyle. The second important component is body. And you've already mentioned the three things that people need to really consider. Sleep is absolutely essential. Eating well is absolutely essential. And the last thing is keeping mentally and physically active all of the time. The third component is what I call spirit is the recognition that you are actually part of many larger things. So you can make your contribution by being of service to others. You can challenge yourself, you can become part of a community.
[00:38:43.750] – Gillian
So those are sort of the three ways in which I phrase the way in which one can live youthfully and age well. The one thing that with my particular group of people, don't really have a chance to talk about because usually by the time they come to me, they're my age kind of thing. But I realize that most of the problems that present in later life we know have their genesis much earlier, as you say, 40 plus. So one of the things is I didn't really take notice of the fact that how I was basically accumulating body fat bit by bit by bit so that you're not suddenly one day obese, but you're sort of getting there. So really paying attention to nutrition early, early on. The second thing is, we know that osteoporosis, osteopenia and muscle problems, sarcopenia all start early. And had I thought about it, I felt healthy and I was active, I was exercising. I never ever for a minute thought about making sure that my calcium and phosphate are adequate when I was in my 40s and preventing osteoporosis. So those are the kinds of things that I think we all know prevent cancer, don't smoke, don't drink, kind of thing.
[00:40:35.450] – Gillian
I would say don't skydive. But there are preventative things that should become part of our life that we really never talk about until it's kind of too late. That's why I love your whole concept of 40 plus, because that's when it all starts.
[00:40:59.810] – Allan
Yeah, well, I'm going to argue with you there and say it's never too late. Start today. It's never too late. Start today. I don't care if you're in your 40s your 50s your 60s your 70s your 80s your 90s, if you got another breath in you, you can eat the right food, you can move the right way, you can start doing things to improve your health, improve your fitness, and be happier.
[00:41:25.930] – Gillian
But I think the key to all of that is mindset. You have to know what you want and it has to be important enough to you for you to make changes. So most of the when I talk to people about what is their current fear, what is their long term fear, most of them say they want to be able to be mentally and physically active and independent toward the end of life so that they don't have their family and friends worrying about them. They don't have to go into a home. And so it's a decision that, that is important to you, that will make you do things like look at your nutrition, make sure you have adequate sleep, and that you keep active. Because one of the complaints that I get from a lot of people is I can't fast, I would be hungry all the time, I can't give up my sugar. Which tells me that they haven't made the decision to achieve what they say they want to. So I believe it all starts up here with your CEO.
[00:42:46.190] – Allan
I agree. Jill, if someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about the book Growing Older, Living Younger, where would you like for me to send them?
[00:42:56.570] – Gillian
Well, to get the book, which is a paperback book at gillianlockitch.com, so just gillianlockitch.com, that is for me to be able to send books directly to people who are anywhere in North America. So the USA or Canada, anybody else at this stage would have to get the digital Kindle edition, which is online.
[00:43:32.690] – Allan
All right, you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/588 and I'll be sure to have the links there.
[00:43:40.340] – Gillian
If anybody would like more information from me, I'll just give you my email. It's firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and I will answer you, it may not be immediately because I get a lot of emails, but that's where you can contact me and find out what information there is about my programs, et cetera.
[00:44:09.070] – Allan
Gill, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
[00:44:13.330] – Gillian
I'm honored actually, Allan, that you invited me and it's been delightful talking to you. Thank you.
[00:44:30.230] – Allan
Welcome back, Ras.
[00:44:30.950] – Rachel
hey Allan, that was a really neat discussion. There's so many things I want to ask you about, but you started talking about how genes are like dimmer switches, but I don't think you went fully into the concept of why a gene is like a dimmer switch that you can raise or lower or whatever.
[00:44:50.060] – Allan
Well, if you remember we had Dr. Hood on and he was the one, he's one of the guys, he developed the equipment that they used to sequence the human genome. And prior to all that, there was a strong belief that once we knew the human genome, we would defeat disease entirely because we would know which genes are causing which diseases and as a result we would figure out who was going to get sick long before they ever got sick. Well, it's a lot more complex than that. And so what it is, is they came up with they realized, okay, it's how the genes are expressed. And so initially they thought they were like on off switches. And so if you're really old school and you owned a computer back in the 80s, they used to have dip switches, which are these little on and off switches. And so, depending on how you wanted to run your computer, like if you were going to be doing video games or something that was high in certain video stuff on your screen, high resolution stuff, you had to do the dip switches a certain way, and then it would work better for that.
[00:45:57.090] – Allan
And then you could change it up if you were going to use it for something else. So basically these dip switches helped you kind of manage the computer. Now that's all automated, it does it itself, but the reality of it is that's not how epigenetics works either. It's not an on or off thing, it's a dimmer switch. So it's not zeros and ones like binary. It can be anywhere along that spectrum just based on exposures, based on all kinds of things that are going on in the world. So if you're doing the right things, the five core things, you're exercising, you're eating well, you're sleeping well, you're managing stress, and you're basically being social and enjoying your life, having purpose and people and all those things. If you're doing those five things, you're communicating to your body through epigenetics that you're okay. And then your body functions the way it's supposed to. So to kind of give you an idea. Okay, so someone who smokes all the time yeah, they're putting stuff in their lungs and they're messing up their epithelial cells throughout their blood vessels and everything, but they increase their chances of cancer, particularly lung cancer, esophageal cancer, heart attack and stroke.
[00:47:17.770] – Allan
And it's because they're basically that epigenetics. They have the genes that can allow them to get those cancers. And then they're feeding it. They're basically dimming that switch and saying, no, I don't want you to do your job, buddy. Because if you're over 50, you have cancer cells in your body. You just do. Our cells, particularly as we get a little older, they're going to mutate, they're going to have some problems. So a mutated cell is a cancerous cell. Now, 99.99% of the time your body sees that and you have an immune response and it kills that cell before it can become something worse. But if we're not living right, if we're not doing the right lifestyle things, then we're turning off our ability to heal, our ability to fight that. And that's how this stuff happens, is literally, if you're smoking, if you're doing these other things, you're literally communicating to your body, don't worry about that cancer. We got other things to worry about. Your body doesn't. If you're not eating enough food. So someone who's trying to lose weight and is on this extreme 1200, 1000 calorie or less diet, you're basically telling your body, turn off nonessential functions, which your body assumes the immune system is a nonessential function because it's not something that we used to have to have turned on all the time.
[00:48:45.980] – Allan
You get a little cut. You want your immune system to work. You eat something you're not supposed to eat, your immune system starts to work. But in today's age, when we're eating non food stuff, when we're smoking, when we're doing drinking, when we're not exercising, when we're not getting sun, when we're not doing the things that are necessary, our body shuts off functions and it just doesn't work. And so a lot of the things that she's talking about in here, they were from South Africa, I think, initially. So when you're from the southern hemisphere and you have white skin predominantly, that sun exposure is pretty intense. Apparently the ozone layer is thinner there. And so it just kind of creates an environment where extreme sunburns can happen. And so she was always in the sun wanting to get the tan, wanting to look a certain way when she was younger, which is, again, why she would have such a big concern. Her mother got skin cancer and she wants to do the things that are necessary to make sure her body is able to protect itself. So that's eating certain things. She is taking a certain supplement that the preliminary science on.
[00:50:00.290] – Allan
It says that this would help from an epigenetic perspective. And she wears sunscreen and she doesn't get let herself get burned anymore. So there's things that you can do to reduce risk, particularly if you know when you're at risk. And so we had Dr. Hood on and they strongly believe that within a short amount of time here, we're going to have kind of a huge blueprint at a single person level to be able to catch these things early. And early detection is a key to not letting it get to a really bad disease state. Now he's not talking about you go in for your annual look at your skin birthday suit event and you see something unusual, so you go see a dermatologist. He's talking about catching it before that even happens. Because if we know that you're someone who's predisposed for skin cancer and your history was you got burned several times, extremely badly when you were younger, we just know that you have a higher likelihood. So they can be scanning you for the very first indications of that cell, a mutated cell that has the potential to become skin cancer and can begin doing things then.
[00:51:21.180] – Allan
So it's not like they have to cut a chunk out of you to solve this problem. They can literally do it before it's even that.
[00:51:28.730] – Rachel
Yeah, there's a lot of good science being done right now in terms of melanomas. Even just on the news this week they talked about a custom vaccine where they do a biopsy of these cells and make it into an mRNA vaccine just like what we had recently. And that combined with another immunotherapy product has shown to reduce reoccurrence by, I think in the 40s 40% or so and catastrophic reoccurrences at that. So there's a lot of good science. That's an important one. Skin cancer is something that's really easy to be screened for and pay attention to.
[00:52:09.500] – Allan
Yeah. If you have an unusual mole and it's changing sizes or it's multiple different colors, then that's worth having a conversation with your doctor. That's one of the advantages that all this stuff is going to have is just recognizing that that data and how you manage yourself are all going to be a part of this whole formula. And that's really where she comes off. Is she's like one of the living examples of someone who got to retirement age and realized that her life is probably not over yet. There's things she wants to do. She wants to go dance. And that requires a lot of stamina and strength and capacity and mobility and balance. And so she wanted to do that. And she doesn't just do it like going to the rec center in her town. She goes and gets on a cruise somewhere around the world and then they dance. They dance at night, I guess, when the boat is going where it's supposed to go. So instead of sitting in a casino or whatever else people do on cruises besides she's dancing. And so that was one of her things, and she and her husband had a bucket list, but unfortunately, he passed before she did, before even her retirement.
[00:53:30.440] – Allan
And so all the things that they had planned to do together, she still wants to do. She's going to still do those things. And that's really what this book is about, is someone claiming control of themselves, claiming control of their lives. Using what we know today with science and everything and doing it, she's able to do all the things she wants to do. And I would dare say there's quite a few people out there her age that would never be able to do that because they're just not doing the work. They're not doing the thing, they're not eating the right way, they're not moving the right way, and therefore their retirement is not nearly as nice as what she's able to experience.
[00:54:13.550] – Rachel
Well, I'm glad that she figured out that she had goals, and in order to reach those goals, she needed to make some changes. And it sounds like she'll have a wonderful retirement.
[00:54:23.510] – Allan
Looks like it. Although she already has enough, because it's the same with me. I probably technically could have just retired, get a little bitty place and just retire, but that's not my nature to do that at the 50s. So I'm still working. Tammy's still working. And the same thing here with Gill is she ended up still working, still doing things. She's got her own podcast, which I'm going to be a guest on.
[00:54:50.000] – Rachel
[00:54:50.330] – Allan
I interviewed on her podcast. I don't know when that's going to air, but again, it's one of those things. And so it's just yeah, she's just doing this stuff and keeping herself busy. And basically any money she makes from her new career, which is basically her third career, is going into her buying these cruises.
[00:55:12.770] – Rachel
That's awesome. I find the people that I've known recently to retire, speaking of my parents and some of their friends, they don't sit still. Who can sit still? When you think of retirement, you don't think of just sitting in the lounge chair watching TV all day long. At least my parents and my friends of our family, they don't they stay busy. They got things they need to do, and it's pretty exciting.
[00:55:37.870] – Allan
It is. But you're making that decision today.
[00:55:40.460] – Rachel
[00:55:41.950] – Allan
You're making that decision today. We're going to have Tomas Hine on soon.
[00:55:47.980] – Rachel
[00:55:48.860] – Allan
Or no, he was already on last week, I think. Yeah, last week. Basically, he's a financial planner, but he looks at his clients and says, if you follow what you're doing right now and you're obese in your 50s or overweight in your 50s then you're going to carry that till retirement, you're probably not going to have a long retirement. So having seven figures in your bank account on the retirement date, that's all admirable, but you may not get to spend any of it because he's had clients that passed even before they retired. They work work. They're 60 years old, they have a heart attack, and they're done. And so we're making those decisions every day, and it's our epigenetics in our bodies that's actually making that happen. That's the communication to our genes of how to express themselves. And so the more you do that's good for yourself, the better off your genes are going to be at taking care of you.
[00:56:51.250] – Rachel
Right. And the more you'll enjoy your retirement.
[00:56:55.190] – Allan
There you go. All right, well, Ras, I will talk to you next week.
[00:57:00.570] – Rachel
Great. Take care, Allan.
[00:57:02.010] – Allan
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