Hey, everybody, Jonathan Bailor back with another Smarter Science of Slim Show. Very, very excited to be joining you today because we’re going to talk about a little bit of back story on this so called Smarter Science of Slim and these nefarious calorie myths that you’ve undoubtedly been hearing about in the news and on the web and all around the world because the bottom line is folks, what we’re being told isn’t working.
In every other area of life that’s unacceptable. If an architect builds a building and it collapses we’re not — gosh darn it, tenants in the building, why didn’t you just try harder to not have the building collapse? Or if a bridge collapses, we are like — gosh darn it, civil engineer, that bridge collapsed. When it comes to our public health officials, giving us the same guidelines for the past 40 or 50 years, followed by exponentiallyrising rates of obesity, Diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, the blame is being put on us.
It would be as if in that architect scenario the building again collapsed and we blamed the tenants or in the bridge scenario, the bridge collapsed and we’re — why don’t you just drive lighter cars? Why did you force this bridge to collapse? Just try harder.
In every other area of life, if the prescription were written or plan were given doesn’t work,the individuals prescribing that plan or building that program or engineering that system are called to the carpet because even if let’s say what we’ve been told is correct — which it’s not and we’ve explored already on the show and will continue to do so — even if it was “correct,” if none of us can do it in the real world, then it’s somewhat irrelevant isn’t it? It might be correct, but if you can’t do it, who cares and that’s just bad design.
I spent ten wonderful years designing software at what I think is the greatest software company in the world, Microsoft, and I tell you when we were watching usability studies in usability labs, when people who were using our software couldn’t figure it out, it was our responsibility to make it work for them. It was not their responsibility to figure out the software, it was our responsibility as designers and engineers to ensure that the program not only worked, but that people could actually do it. If people can’t do it, that’s a failure of the program. That’s a failure on the part of the engineer or the architect, not on the part of the user. We take a step back and we look at the bottom line. It’s unambiguous that what we’ve been told – eat less, exercise more — just spend more time in the gym because lord knows we all have an abundance of time on our hands and eat less, because we all really, really like being tired and hungry all day. That’s just a great way to live, no? That isn’t working — even if it works, which it doesn’t – even if it did, it isn’t working so shouldn’t we be doing something else or rather being told to do something else? I think so. Frankly, so do the actual experts.
This book I wrote called the “Calorie Myth” digs into this in detail. I would encourage you to check it out if you haven’t already, but basically, for well over 10 years, probably bordering on the edge of 15 years, over 1,300 studies collaborating with top researchers around the world from Harvard, Johns Hopkins, UCLA – when I say researchers, I mean researchers, actual experts — neurobiologists, endocrinologists, gastroenterologists, not a heart surgeon, not because heart surgeons aren’t smart, but being a heart surgeon means you’re good at doing heart surgery. It doesn’t actually mean you understand metabolic dysfunction, right?
My mother is a brilliant English professor. That doesn’t mean she would be a good Calculus teacher, right? There are people who study Calculus and therefore, are qualified to teach Calculus. If you look where we get a lot of our information, they’re not actually from people who study the systems in our body that determine our weight. Our brain is what determines our weight, not our mouth. Our mouth just does what our brain tells it to do.
When’s the last time you heard of neurobiologist talk about weight? When’s the last time you even heard a neurobiologist talk? That’s what I’ve spent my life doing is talking to these brilliant actual experts, people who spend their life in research labs wearing lab coats rather than wearing spandex or speaking to the press, not because their research is not important, in fact, it’s amazingly important. It’s transformational. Frankly, it’s life-saving. That’s not their skill set. Their skill set is doing research. So, we need to get that research out there.
Research shows and it should come as no surprise — based on the first five minutes of this show talking about how what we’ve been doing isn’t working, what we’ve been told we need to do to burn fat and boost our health long-term is simply wrong. Bottom line — everything you and I have been told about weight loss and health is wrong. I am so passionate about this subject because I’ve seen it from a lot of different angles. So, forgive me as I tell you a bit of a personal story here on why I get so amp’d up about this.
So let’s rewind way back, little baby Jonathan. So I grew up in Columbus, Ohio, just a wonderful family, just amazing, brilliant people. Two college professors for parents, father is a Philosophy professor and mother is an English professor as I mentioned earlier, wonderful, loving sister and a much older, wonderful brother, who was extremely athletic, much older, ten years older than I am.
So, you can imagine growing up in a household, two college professor parents, and for the purposes of this story, I’m going to focus on my brother, not because I don’t love my sister, she’s wonderful, but just doesn’t really play into the story as well. Sorry Patty.
So, much older brother, who was extremely athletic, in fact, I remember going to kindergarten one day and wearing his wrestling pin. That was a big thing to do back decades ago. I wore his wrestling pin to kindergarten and I remember one of my classmates was, oh, who’s that guy? I was, oh, that’s my brother. He’s so strong. He could throw you through a wall. I remember actually saying that. So, much older athletic brother, who I very much looked up to – academic parents and I was a naturally thin kid.
As I told you, I’ve spent over a decade at Microsoft. I’m an innately geeky guy. So, I’ve got my glasses, I’m really lanky, don’t really look like a man, look definitely like a lanky boy and wanted to look like my brother. I wanted to big and strong and athletic.
I remember watching Rocky III and my mom tells me that I was just running around the house trying to do pull ups on things. I wanted to look like Rocky. I told you I would digress. I warned you ahead of time.
Here I am, naturally skinny kid, very geeky, growing up wanting to get bigger. Something we don’t think about much as a culture and that’s there is millions of people who want to actively want to get bigger – are trying to get bigger and are struggling with getting bigger as badly as many more of us struggle to get smaller, but we’ll get to that later in the story.
So, here I am — wanting to get bigger. So, I take the traditional approach. I read everything I can in popular literature, you know the magazines — things you’d find at the grocery store. I even go so far as to become a personal trainer. I was a personal trainer at Bally Total Fitness, in Columbus, Ohio. It’s actually how I paid my way through college. I also did some independent training.
It was in that moment when I became a trainer, when I was “an expert” that I had this, dare I say, epiphany, which broke my heart and changed my life because what I experienced was you had at the time, a young man, myself, who was eating — I’m not exaggerating — upwards of 6,000 calories per day — because remember I wanted to get bigger. The only way to consume 6,000 calories per day is to do things like fill up a double shot glass full of olive oil and to drink it with a meal. So, I’m going out of my way to consume an absurd number of calories. I can promise you I’m not the only person in the world that’s tried to do this. Ask any high school athlete, specifically men, who are trying to get bigger and you’ll probably hear similar stories.
So, I here I am eating 6,000 calories a day, doing no cardiovascular exercise, so the traditional type of exercise we’re told to do to burn fat. At the same time, I have these brilliant, passionate, dedicated, yet horribly frustrated mostly female clients, most often above the age of 35, frequently mothers, if not grandmothers, coming to me and asking for help. I did what any person who’s trained by the mainstream would do. I told them that they need to eat fewer calories, and burn more off through exercise.
So, what that translated into was me figuring out ways that they could eat 1,200 to 1,400 calories per day and exercise — if I had my way — upwards of two hours per day and I entered a state of cognitive dissidence. If you’re not familiar with that term, it’s where you have this deep routed belief and your actions or what you observe in the world don’t match that belief and it makes your brain literally hurt. It’s a pain in your brain and that’s what I was experiencing because here are these brilliant, dedicated females, who are doing what I’m telling them, who are starving themselves, both through food deprivation and through excessive exercise, and are not reliably getting smaller, while I am eating 6,000 calories per day, not exercising nearly as much as they are and I’m not getting bigger. In fact, all of us were getting sick. I was getting sick from the amount and type of calories I was eating. These poor women were getting sick because I was starving them. And that broke my brain, but more importantly it broke my heart.
We, in this field of health and fitness, are in the business or should be in the business of making people healthy. If you look at what’s happening, that isn’t working.
I kept at it for a couple of years, but eventually, I could not get out of bed in the morning and dedicate my life to something that was not working for my clients and not only was it not working, but it was counter-productive. These poor women felt worse where they came to me to become healthy — they felt worse, physiologically, they certainly felt worse psychologically because here they are paying an expert thousands of dollars doing what that expert is telling them is not working, so then they think what else, but there must be something wrong with them and there wasn’t. Just like there wasn’t something wrong with me for not being able to gain weight eating 6,000 calories per day.
I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t take seeing such smart, brilliant people wasting their lives and their mental energy and their physical energy trying to basically beat their bodies into submission. I got tired of not being able to live my own life. I was constantly eating. I was carrying food around with me. It was just absurd.
We were living to pursue these eating and exercise goals rather than using food and exercise to help us live, right? We got that reversed. Food and exercise is supposed to enable us to live out our missions. Our mission isn’t to think about food and exercise. We’ve been told otherwise.
So, then I had to tap into my more geeky side. I had nowhere else to turn to. I had exhausted the traditional programs. I was a trainer. When you want to lose weight in our culture, what do you do? You go to a personal trainer to formulate a nutrition and exercise plan for you. It wasn’t working.
So, I did what any geek would do. I turned to the research– the primary research. What I mean by primary research, is research in academic journal articles. This is text that you can’t just read. In fact, you often need access to a university or a very expensive subscription service to even read these publications and not only that, but these are not easy to read. They’re written by actual experts for actual experts, but therein, lies the problem because actual experts don’t spend their time synthesizing and applying research so that the everyday person can use it. They spend their time doing research.
So, what I started to discover was that there was this massive, massive, 10,000 plus pages and 1,300 plus studies. Remember, it took me over ten years of reading, research, synthesis, emails, phone calls and meetings with researchers. I found that there was this massive kazem between what I was taught as a personal trainer and what the actual experts, not government officials , not people who sell pills, powders and potions — researchers, what they have been demonstrating over the past 40 years and proving in clinical settings, not observations, not gross generalizations, but in tightly controlled clinical settings, what they had been proving about eating and exercise was essentially the opposite of what I was taught as a trainer.
What I was taught as a trainer and what we are all taught, all day, every day, is that eat whatever you want, just don’t eat too much of it. Calories are all that count, so just count calories and you’re all set. In fact, it really doesn’t even matter that much because keep your calories down and if you can’t, just exercise more because everything is just about calories, right?
So, 140 calories of Coca Cola versus 200 calories from an avocado – don’t eat that avocado — make sure you drink that Coke instead because you’ll save 60 calories and never mind either one of them because if you just go jog for 30 minutes, you’ll be alright, okay? No, and we all know that’s wrong. What else are we supposed to do when the actual right answers are buried in obscure academic literature?
That’s why I get so passionate about this because there is so much suffering and it is unnecessary because the actual architects, the actual experts have proven an alternative and an alternative that is so simple, an alternative that is rooted in healing our body instead of fighting against it, an alternative that is rooted in food quality and food rather than calorie quantity and that’s rooted in safe and low impact effective and exciting and fun movements rather than monotonous straining, just an hour on the treadmill nonsense, that breaks down our knees and our ligaments and just stresses us out and then makes us hungry for the exact edible products that cause the problems in the first place.
They showed a smarter science of slim. They showed that if we actually look at the research, over the past 40 years, just like with every other area of our lives, just think of all the advances we’ve seen in technology over the past 40 years, it’s not as if eating and exercise somehow got a free pass and all of the actual experts and those arenas just stopped and said, yep, eat less and exercise more, we’re done, might as well go home and invent the iPhone. No, they’ve continued to do research and they’ve shown us that food quality and exercise quality can enable us to fundamentally change and heal our biology and it explains the differences between the biology of someone like younger me, who could eat 6,000 calories and not gain weight while my poor clients were eating 1,400 calories and not losing weight.
There’s something else going on and that something else has been demonstrated and it’s sad on one hand, but it’s so exciting on the other. Now we know have 40 years of personal, anecdotal and epidemiological evidence and now a bunch of clinical evidence showing us that this calorie myth laden starve yourself approach doesn’t work and that we need to eat more and exercise less, but we need to do that smarter. We need to focus on food and food quality. Remember food is defined as things we can find in nature, directly in nature, and exercise quality, meaning it’s not just about moving your body, just like if you’re sick, not just take any pill. No, it has to be the right quality of movement, just like it would have to be the right quality of medicine when we can focus and make that mental transition from quantity to quality.
I wish I could go back in time and sit down with each and every one of my previous clients and tell them that the problem wasn’t with them, that they weren’t broken, and that they and I were victims of myths — these calorie myths — that far from us being broken, the system was broken. What we were being taught was broken and that they didn’t need to take my word for it because they could rely on thousands of pages of peer reviewed research, as well as common sense, and common sense tells us that if every generation of people prior to the previous three didn’t know what a calorie was, and didn’t know what a gym was, yet we’re able to stay slimmer and healthier than we are without even trying, then how could counting calories and joining a gym be required for human health and fitness? It can’t be, we don’t need to do that. We’re brilliant, we’re beautiful, we’re certainly not broken and there’s so much exciting science to support that.
I can’t wait to continue to share it with you over the coming weeks to introduce you to the Smarter Science of Slim and to help free us all from these calorie myths.
Until then, remember, eat more and exercise less, but do that smarter. I’m Jonathan Bailor, and I’ll chat with you soon.