Plateaus, Perspective, and Playing the Hand We’re Dealt


Jonathan: Welcome to the Smarter Science of Slim, the scientifically-proven program where you eat more and exercise less to burn fat and boost health.

Carrie: Eat smarter, exercise smarter, live better. I am so ready for that!

Carrie: This is Carrie Brown and we have an estrogen overload in the Smarter Science of Slim studio today. We have Dr. Cathy Britell. Yay! And we’re all wearing pink! Even the Bailor!

Jonathan: I’m trying to bring my estrogen support as well with my pink shirt.

Carrie: Because today we are talking about…

Cathy: We’re talking about one issue that a number of people on the support group have, which is feeling as though their program has kind of hit a wall and I’m a little bit stuck I’m a little bit stalled. “How do I knock this loose?” The story is often like this – somebody who has generally been very health conscious for a long, long time meets up with Jonathan Bailor and the Smarter Science of Slim and starts eating SANEly, exercising eccentrically and will lose significant inches and pounds, start feeling better, and it’s really like magic. Hey, I’ve been there! I know…

Carrie: It is magic.

Cathy: I know this is like magic because you stop struggling, you start eating, you stop exercising your heart out, and you start having a life and your body just gets better. Well, for a lot of people – and maybe almost everybody – that has happened fairly rapidly over the first 3-6 months of the program. And then at some point, that body change sort of starts to slow down and the person was dropping sizes, was dropping pounds, maybe dropped about 10% of their body weight or 15 or 20% of their body weight even, and then they’re eating SANEly, they’re exercising eccentrically, nothing has changed, but the change in their body just stops.

Carrie: So we get to the plateau phase.

Cathy: We get to the plateau phase. For another very small group of people, usually women, it seems some people have been doing it – and we’ll talk about these separately, I think – for a few weeks or a few months and aren’t seeing any change yet. But let’s start with that person who has had a significant change doing the Smarter Science of Slim program, really adopting the lifestyle, becoming very, very good at it and then seeing a plateau in the changes that we see in our bodies. What do you think of that Jonathan?

Jonathan: Cathy, I think the key thing to keep in mind here is that for any given level of sanity or just intelligence of our diet and exercise approach in general, there is an end point and that end point is different for everybody. So, a couple of things to keep in mind: one is, if all you want to do is essentially be healthy and fit, you can eat SANE foods, exercise eccentrically, and go about living your life not really thinking about it, and you will be fit and healthy. That’s the level of effort you would need to be fit and healthy. Keep in mind that a 70-year-old woman who lived through the ‘great nutritional depression’, as I like to call it, or the time period where our government told us to eat in a way that did cause irreparable damage to our metabolism and put fat cells in our body that we can never get rid of, she can achieve a level of normalcy for her that is perfectly healthy and looks wonderful, but that normal isn’t six-pack abs. That’s not normal. So if we just want to eat SANE foods and exercise eccentrically and enjoy our lives, that will get us to health and fitness; but it won’t get us to these unnatural levels of body fat that we see so publicized in the media and are generally found in much younger people.

So the question is again, if we just want to be healthy and fit, we can do that very, very, very simply and I think when we find that new resting point, that may just be an indication of what we can expect if we want to take a more casual approach to health and fitness. If we want an abnormal level of health and fitness, we might need to take a little bit more abnormal of an approach. I think there are quite a few people that are like, “I’m good.” Maybe you don’t see it as a plateau, maybe you see it as, as long as your health markers are okay, as a wonderful, healthy place for you to achieve dietary serenity and to enjoy your life.

Carrie: I think it is important to know that it is different for everybody. There are so many other kind of genetic and hormonal things going on. Nobody’s got the same makeup.

Cathy: Oh, can I tell you a story?

Carrie: You can.

Cathy: About an airplane ride.

Jonathan: Oh, is this the Mr. T joke you promised?

Cathy: It’s not a joke, it’s a story! It’s so interesting. About in 1985, I was commuting between Seattle and New York quite a bit in my job and on one of those trips, my seat mate was Mr. Bill Gates. Nice fellow.

Jonathan: And this is the Bill Gates?

Cathy: The Bill Gates, yeah. I think he started this thing called Microsoft.

Jonathan: Oh, I know about that place!

Cathy: Lovely man. Really smart! He always rode in coach at that point and I always rode in coach because I ride in coach.

Carrie: You still ride in coach.

Cathy: I still ride in coach. You know who else was on the plane? It was Mr. T and Mr. T wasn’t… You remember Mr. T?

Carrie: He was not in coach!

Cathy: He was not in coach! He was up in the front. And as we were getting off, you know how the people come out of the front and into the back and kind of interdigitate as they go out of the plane. Bill and I were sitting in the front of the coach and so we filed out with them and I was looking at the two guys there – Mr. T and Mr. Gates – and Mr. Gates – nice-looking young man, exactly the same height as Mr. T. Two nice-looking young men in their 30s and Mr. Gates probably was fit-looking, weighed about 135, maybe 140; and Mr. T was quite fit-looking, weighed about 250-260 maybe. So, two genetically totally different body compositions – both healthy – but with very different body makeup and a way different brain and a way different way of looking at life.

Carrie: Bill would never be able, whatever he did, he would never be able to make his body look like Mr. T’s and vice-versa.

Cathy: And Mr. T would never look like Mr. Gates! So there is just a rather extreme example of the fact that we’re genetically quite different. Also, when you brought up the difficulty of people who have gained and lost a lot of weight during their lives in terms of losing fat, age is a significant issue in terms of being hormonally challenged as we all grow older. I think with older people particularly and also people who have been very significantly overweight or obese have musculoskeletal issues. They might have hip arthritis, might have shoulder issues that will prevent maximal exercise at least for a time until they can get going on that. So there are lots of things that keep a certain genetic type or people who have a history of significant weight loss and gain from becoming the fitness model.

Carrie: But isn’t it true, Cathy, that there are other things as well like stress-related things, sleep can interfere with it, medications that you’re on for other things can interfere… There are just so many other little things that may be interfering with your particular set point.

Cathy: Yeah, there are medications; for instance, diabetes medications. A lot of people have diabetes and they can get in the way, too. So what do you do to get yourself unstuck if you feel like there’s more distance that you want to go?

Jonathan: So, just before you get into the ‘what you do’, I just want to kind of recap because I think this discussion we just had is a great capturing of the issue. Let me just try to distill it down here really quickly. So for any given level of, let’s say, intelligence of exercise and SANEity of eating, that will get you to a place, to a set point – for lack of better terms – and, let’s say, a level 1 effort. Level 1 effort will get you to a level 1 set point. Level 2 effort – and effort doesn’t mean time; it just means amount of SANEity, amount of intelligence of exercising – will get you level 2 results. But even that results scale, that varies by person. So if Mr. T does level 1 and Bill Gates does level 1, two very different things are going to happen. If a 65-year-old woman who has yo-yo dieted seven times or seventeen times and is on insulin and is very, very stressed – she puts in a level 2 effort; and a 22-year-old male who is naturally muscular and has never been overweight puts in a level 2 effort – they are going to get dramatically different results. That doesn’t mean either one of them is better or worse; it just means for any given level of effort, it does have an end point and that end point is a function of a lot of genetic stuff that you have no control over. In fact, researchers estimate between 45 and 75% of body composition is genetically predetermined, much like your height. You can try as much as you want to be taller, you just can’t be in some ways or you’d have to do really weird unnatural stuff to make yourself taller.

Carrie: And then there’s the environmental stuff on top of all of that.

Jonathan: Exactly. So, hopefully that’s helpful framing. Now, Cathy, sorry, what was the second part of the question?

Cathy: Well, the second part of the question was that you’ve decided that, “Okay, so it’s going to be tough for me, but I’m not quite where I want to be.” How do I get that level where I really feel like I need to…?” I’m Dr. Cathy. Dr. Cathy’s wearing size 14 right now. Dr. Cathy would like to be wearing size 12 or size 10. She thinks that’s more appropriate for her. So basically, how do I get to that point when I’ve been kind of where I am for the last 3 months or so?

Jonathan: Well, you did mention just before the show that you had this experience at the very beginning – we saw those dramatic results and then you saw a slower, but continuous…

Cathy: Right.

Jonathan: So you are still a pound, a pound, a pound, a pound month after month after month?

Cathy: Yeah, exactly. The cool thing about that is that if you look at the studies of any of other “weight loss” programs, those people – with all the drugs and all the expensive dangerous things that people take for weight loss – usually those people lose between 5 and 7% of their body weight over, say, three months and then over the next year, they’ll gain 2 or 3% back. Well, most of the people on Smarter Science of Slim program have lost much more than that in terms of their body weight and more significantly, waist circumference and healthy muscle gain. What I can see is the people who have been on this now for a year or a little more now are not gaining that weight back and that is huge!

Jonathan: Exactly. Everything you said is spot-on. I also really want to shine a light on the point you made of… To be clear, you can be making progress. The human mind is not good about seeing gradual change. So, hypothetically, if you were gaining a half-pound of muscle a month and losing a half-pound of fat per month, in a year, you would look dramatically different. Dramatically different! But in any given… Like, you would probably actually never notice it because over the course of a year… Maybe you started this in January and then you put a stop to it, but then someone saw you in January and someone saw you in December, they probably wouldn’t even recognize you; but you would not perceive that difference. So, keep in mind that… A couple of things – one, you may think you’re plateaued and you’re actually not. I think that’s kind of the position you’re in, Cathy, where it can seem like you’re plateaued but when you actually take a step back, you’re not; it’s just that we’re not seeing results as quickly as we’d like. The speed of the results you get and, again, at level 1 effort or level 1 SANEity and eccentricity, you’ll get level 1 results. The bottom line is in the older world, in the classical theory of fitness and health, the recommendation would be ‘eat even less and exercise even more’. Obviously, that’s not what we want to do but we can make something that sounds similar, but is totally different. You’ve got to eat even smarter and you’ve got to exercise even smarter. If you want more results, historically people would have told you you just need to do more or eat less. You’ve got to take it smarter. This is going to be a little weird but there are different levels of SANEity. When we talk about nutrient density, even within… I just want to illustrate what being super SANE would be. So, if you wanted to be super SANE, for example, green vegetables, spinach, kale, these leafy green vegetables are very, very different from a nutritional perspective than a carrot, for example. I’m not saying that carrots are bad, but there are really, really SANE vegetables and vegetables which are not as SANE. Fruits are an even better example. Like, the difference between a blueberry and an apple is startling from a SANEity perspective. Then, let’s look at our nutrient-dense proteins. I’m going to go way super SANE – wild caught salmon, organic grass-fed beef liver, grass-fed beef – those things are much different than conventional ground chuck. Totally different. Totally different!

Cathy: Rack of lamb with all the fat.

Jonathan: Totally different. Then when we get to the nuts and seeds – focusing on coconut. Coconut is an entirely different thing. It’s a medium chain triglyceride; whereas if you’re getting most of your fats from peanuts, which are actually legumes, again, there are ways that we can say…. Like, someone who is eating the super nutrient-dense greens and they’re eating like 12 servings of those a day and they’re eating the most nutrient-dense SANE proteins in the world and they’re eating only the most optimal fats – which are like avocados, cocoa, coconut, flax, chia – that is a very different way of eating than someone who eats two or three apples per day, some conventional fattier meats, five servings of vegetables. That’s still a SANE person, they’re still doing great; but understand that there is obviously, as we can see here, there’s an ocean of difference between those two people. There will also be an ocean of difference in terms of results those people would see.

So you don’t need to do more in terms of volume; essentially, you’re just turning it up. If you want more results, you essentially have to give more effort, but that effort comes in the form of eating higher-quality foods and doing even higher-quality exercise and getting more sleep and being less stressed and all those other kinds of things and drinking more green tea. You get out what you put in. Not everyone’s going to get the same amount out because of genetic predetermination as well as if you smoked for 40 years and then you try to run for a marathon, it’s going to be a bit harder because there’s been some damage that has happened to your body. If you’ve weight-cycled repeatedly, it’s unfortunate but some things have taken place in your body that sadly are going to be some baggage that you’re going to have to carry hormonally for a long time, if not forever. It’s unfortunate, but I tore my pec. It’s deformed now and it will be deformed forever and that sanstinks but sometimes in life when we hurt our bodies, they’re just hurt. We can do the best with what we’ve got and if you see me in a shirt, you probably wouldn’t be like, “Jesus, Jonathan, you look deformed!” but if I do something very specific…

Carrie: Trust me, people, he does not look deformed! He looks just fine!

Jonathan: But actually that’s a pretty good analogy. If we tear a muscle or break a bone, we understand that we might not be able to do what we used to do and we might not be able to do something that someone who has never been injured has been able to do. If we’ve been metabolically injured, it’s going to take a bit more effort to get to a place we would’ve been to if we were never injured and for people who have never been injured, they’re going to have a different experience.

Carrie: So really, we’ve talked about this over and over on previous podcasts, is it depends where you’re at and what your goal is.

Jonathan: And how much you’re willing to put in. I think a lot of people don’t… I mean, not only have I spent a lot of time in the science space, but I spent a lot of time in the professional physique bodybuilding. That’s an area that was a hobby of mine for a really long time and I still have a lot of ties into it. People who have abs are either genetically freaks – like, it’s .0001% of the population – or their entire life, like, almost every action they take has to do with their goal to achieve that. Just like if you want to be a marathon runner, you don’t casually become a marathon runner. Your life revolves around giving your body the ability to run 26 miles without stopping. If you want to have six-pack abs, in many ways that’s like running a physique marathon. It is going to take a lot of effort. That effort will not include starving yourself nor will it involve excessive exercise, but it will involve formulating your diet with a level of SANEity that is really not interesting for most people.

Carrie: Right. So you’ve got to be clear about what you want.

Jonathan: Exactly. And you’ve also got to be clear about where you’re at and you’ve also got to be clear about timeframes. Like Cathy said, if you’re measuring in terms of anything less than months… Again, let’s go back to the broken bone analogy. If you broke your ankle and everyday you’re like, “Is my ankle healed? Is my ankle healed? Is my ankle healed?” No. Especially if it was a compound fracture and you have to have pins put in it. If your ankle is demolished, you might not be able to walk on it normally… Well, if you’re young, you’ll be able to walk on it sooner, but especially if you’re older and especially if it’s been broken before. It might take a year!

Carrie: And it might never get back to 100%.

Jonathan: Exactly! And you’ll probably have to do more physical therapy than a young person would have to do. Some people gave the feedback that they like the Smarter Science of Slim podcast because it’s real. I know this might not be what people want to hear…

Carrie: But it’s the truth.

Jonathan: And we know it’s the truth. We know it’s the truth and anyone who says anything different is lying to you. It’s a lie. That’s not how the body works. Anyone who says, “Oh, you blew your knee out? Well, I can have you back up and running next week.” That’s not how the body works. You want to plant some corn – not that you should, because it’s insane – but if you want to plant some corn, well, here’s some magic seeds that will grow corn in two weeks. Corn doesn’t grow in two weeks; it takes longer. Oh, you can have a baby in two months. No! It takes nine months to have a baby. Nine months. If you want to transform your metabolism, it takes time and it takes more time the more damaged it is and it takes longer the more damaged it is. Off my soap box.

Carrie: I just want to say that emotionally, you have to get your head around the limitations that you have no control over are.

Jonathan: Yes.

Carrie: If you have weight-cycled and you can never get to the same place as someone who hasn’t, mentally you’re going to drive yourself nuts if you don’t come to terms with the fact that there are limits that you have no control over.

Jonathan: Absolutely.

Carrie: And the sooner you emotionally get that, the easier it will be.

Cathy: One of the things that I wanted to address and I think it’s something that we don’t talk about nearly enough – and as much grief as I gave you over a couple of the guest podcasts, public grief, too!

Jonathan: No, I welcome public grief. Only from you, though.

Cathy: I think that actually Dr. Amen and Jill, maybe, brought up the same important thing, particularly about women. Women, often times, do not let go of their caring, their stress – it’s built into us because as mothers, we need to be able to multitask. We need to be paying attention to that baby 24 hours a day. So we’re hardwired to always be attentive to everything and everybody who could possibly need us in this world. What that does is, it often causes stress, and the important, important thing, typically for women… Men tend to do this, anyway. Men go out and play golf, they go out with their buddies, they go out for a beer after work or some other SANE drink. They will often program restorative activity into their day. Women don’t often do that and some men don’t do that, anyway either, but I think it’s very, very important. In my experience, it’s very important not to think about your eccentric exercises and your high-intensity interval training to be the only activities that you do during the week so that the rest of the time you’re sitting in front of your computer screen and sitting in front of the television or doing chores. You really need to have some restorative activity – fun, yoga – you talked about yoga in the last podcast, which was very wonderful. Other restorative activities – taking a walk, being with your friends, listening to music, dancing, making music – doing these kinds of things, I think, will tend to de-stress you. Also, there is some evidence that in people who tend to shut down, even when they’re eating plenty of protein and non-starchy vegetables and doing the eccentric exercises, that doing some sort of restorative activity that engages their mind and makes them happy will also tend to keep the metabolism going more. So this is something to really, really pay attention to.

Carrie: There you go, girls! We’ve all got permission from Dr. Cathy to go get our pedicure!

Cathy: Yes, pedicure… Massages are good. Be kind to yourself, but also have fun!

Jonathan: Absolutely.

Cathy: Go out and have some fun.

Jonathan: And I will give a hat nod here to the concept of self love and to appreciate what one has because again, I think we live in a wonderful country. I love America and I love how America is so empowering because we live in what’s called the ‘land of opportunity’ and I think it is because we have a wonderful opportunity here. I think sometimes, though, that sense of it can be taken a little bit too far. Let me give an example. Not everyone can be as good at basketball as Michael Jordan. They can’t. Not everyone can be Michael Jordan. You just can’t. And I think sometimes we think that having a very, very low percentage of body fat is just something where if you just try hard enough, you can do it.

Carrie: Well, that’s what we’ve been fed for the last 40 years.

Jonathan: If you just try hard enough, you can be a professional athlete. We feed this to young kids all the time. “Just try your hardest and you can be whatever you want to be.” That’s not true for things that involve especially your body. Like, I can’t play in the NFL. It is physically impossible for my body to move fast enough or for me to lose enough weight to be an effective player in the NFL. Can’t. I cannot. But that’s okay. I’m good at other things and I think if we all focus a little bit more on ‘there are great things each of us can do’ and that might not include having veins coming out of our shoulders. That’s okay!

Carrie: Focus on your strengths, lovely people!

Jonathan: And focus on being healthy and enabling your eating and exercise habits to enable you to manifest the beauty that is you. Don’t focus on the things that you aren’t as good at. Let your eating and exercise empower you to do that which makes you uniquely beautiful.

Carrie: Dr. Cathy is blowing kisses at Jonathan. It’s so cute. She’s so happy here.

Jonathan: In short, celebrate yourself. Understand that for any given level of effort, you will get a given result and if you want more results, you’re probably just going to have to increase your SANEity and increase your eccentricity, and understand that different people are going to achieve different results with those different levels based on their genetics and based on what they’ve been through in their lives and based on if you’re on certain medications and if you’re getting certain levels of sleep and if you have certain levels of stress.

Carrie: And celebrate every little tiny piece of progress! Because this is not about perfection, it’s about moving towards it.

Jonathan: And celebrate. This is a long podcast, but I don’t care. There are other types of success to keep in mind. For example, I’ve actually recorded a podcast recently, which I am excited to share soon. I think her name’s Laura Dolson. She’s the low-carb editor for About.com and she describes her… Like, she doesn’t think about food anymore. She doesn’t think about food. She just eats and she just goes about her life and she’s active and her health markers are phenomenal! Like, she was diabetic, I think. She’s no longer diabetic anymore. Understand that there are people in the world with six-pack abs who are so neurotic and unhappy because their self-worth is tied to their preservation of that six-pack. So if you are healthy and you are happy, you are in a better state than thousands of neurotic people out there! My personal take. So anyway…

Carrie: It’s all good. You’re all wonderful. The fact that you’re trying is brilliant!

Jonathan: Cathy’s so happy.

Cathy: I am totally, totally thrilled with what you just said. It’s absolutely wonderful!

Carrie: Big endorsement from the doctor here.

Jonathan: From Dr. Cathy. I won her over!

Cathy: Absolutely! I was very critical right up until now.

Jonathan: Well, I’ve redeemed myself from some of the bonus podcasts.

Carrie: It was all worth it. You wore that pink shirt – it had the desired effect. Well done.

Jonathan: Awesome. Well, hopefully, that helps. I’m curious. Please let us know. I mean, obviously, I check the support group. I read it and I’m curious about what people think and hopefully this is helpful.

Cathy: Yeah. Well, I think it is helpful. I think there is more talking to be done. We’ve had some really, really good feedback from everyone in the support group and particularly a lot of people have been addressing this question in a lot of different ways. So I think this is very, very helpful and we’ll keep talking about it.

Jonathan: And at the risk of beating a dead horse, I just want to make one more point. The Smarter Science of Slim as described in the book, which is now out of print, but there will be another book which will be even better.

Carrie: Coming soon!

Jonathan: Coming soon! But obviously, there’s no shortage of content out there that can teach people how to be SANE and get eccentric. This is a lifestyle which is much more akin to achieving that beautiful normal non-neurotic body that is extremely helpful because you’re not worried about it. You’re just eating, you’re exercising – it’s chill. When you take that kind of an approach, it’s very ‘eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re not, have celebrations every once in a while, do your eccentrics once a week’, I mean, this is going to be very easy – for lack of better terms – once you get into the swing of things and if you want more, that’s cool – just do some more. And it’s not going to be that easy, but that’s okay. And then if you want to downshift, then make it easier. I just sometimes think we get out what we put in and if what we put in is a very casual approach, we can’t expect anything more than casual results. But if we were like, “I’m going to freakin’ do this!” – and when I say ‘do this’, we talked about what that means – you will achieve better results. Sometimes when I talk to people, they’re very happy with what they’re doing, but what they’re doing is moderate. They’re moderately SANE. When I talk to them about eccentric exercises, they’re like, “Yeah, I do it and I’m pretty sore.” That kind of an approach is fine, but you can’t come with that approach expecting to get ripped up. That’s okay. But just to understand, to get ripped results, you’d have to kind of take a ripped approach, which is not that laissez-faire chill approach, it’s a bit more intentional and deliberate and thought-requiring.

Carrie: It’s awesome!

Jonathan: Eat more and exercise less, but do it smarter.

Cathy: And make sure you have some fun.

Jonathan: Absolutely! And if you can’t… Carrie, what do you always say to me when we leave?

Carrie: Be good; and if you can’t be good, be careful.

Jonathan: Exactly! I hope it was as fun for you guys as it was for us. Talk with you soon.

Carrie: See ya!

Jonathan: Wait, wait! Don’t stop listening yet.

Carrie: You can get fabulous free SANE recipes over at CarrieBrown.com.

Jonathan: And don’t forget, your 100% free Eating and Exercise Quick Start Program as well as free fun daily tips delivered right into your inbox at BailorGroup.com.

[End of Audio 35:39]

This week:
– A smarter approach to fat loss plateaus
– What results we can expect from various levels of SANEity
– How to make the most of what we have
…and much much more!