What’s up, everybody? Welcome again. Thank you so much for joining us and for taking the time out and for dealing with the little bit of technical difficulty we had. This week, let’s get started by celebrating our top contributors in the support group so far this week. If you haven’t been over to the support group, please jump over there. As soon as we wrap up today, just log into your Ignite Program, click anywhere you see “Coaching” and your wonderful SANE-certified coaches as well as other awesome family members are going to be there to help you 24/7. It’s a wonderful place.
Big, big shout-outs to Kristen Bunker, Kate Bosco, Josh Simon, Jamie Joe Banner, Betty Harper, Linda Bear, Shelly Deal, Katherine Spencer, Lynette Stork, and Megan Williams. Thank you for your wonderful — exceptionally wonderful contributions. Thank you to everyone. I really wanted to celebrate these individuals as they’ve just been rocking and rolling recently. A big shout-out to Kate Bosco for starting the wonderful SANE family chat thread. Thank you so much. I really, really appreciate your contributions.
Marsha looks like she is not able to get in. Marsha, I’m so sorry about that. Again, sorry about the technical challenges here, everybody. Just so you know, we’re going to give everyone a free, additional two coaching sessions if you’re not able to access this, you’re not able to see this. There will be a recording available afterwards. Again, I totally apologize and I hope you’ll forgive me and give me a second chance. I hope that you’ll forgive me and that we can move forward. Don’t worry. Again, we’re going to extend everyone’s access two additional weeks so that we can make up for this. Let’s go ahead and jump into the goodness. Please be sure to post those questions if you’ve got them live. A lot of great stuff written in beforehand so let’s get started.
The first question has to do with a member of our family who is saying that some people start out and they have been thin their whole life. Then they get bigger with age. What if you’ve been heavy or bigger your whole life? What about the genetic component? What if this is something, literally, that you’ve been struggling with since your youth? In fact, this individual says they’ve been SANE for almost six months and that they’ve seen dramatic increases in their health; they put on ten pounds of new muscle; they’re getting lots of sleep; they’re feeling great; but their measurements haven’t changed as much as they want. Is there something different that we need to do if this is something that we’ve been struggling with our whole lives, first, as someone who maybe started out slim and then works their way up to being a little bit heavier?
I do really want to be clear that one of the things that, unfortunately, we are not told the truth about, is the importance of the genetic component of body composition. I think that this is really important for us to understand the science of because it can really free us. It can really free us from a lot of anxiety and sometimes the negative self-talk, which is so painful and something we definitely want to avoid for our long-term SANEity as well as our long-term sanity. Specifically, research has now shown that our body composition is anywhere from forty to sixty percent heavily genetically predetermined. Now, forty to sixty percent is a pretty big range but it is really important to keep in mind that that is a large percent that is really heavily genetically influenced.
This does not mean that if, for example, you had two very heavy parents and have been heavy your whole life, that there is nothing you can do. It does not mean that at all. What it does mean is, if you are not familiar with the three basic body types and the science of the genetic that backs them — let’s review that really quickly because I think it can be very helpful.
There are three basic body types. One of them is called an ectomorph. An ectomorph is an individual who is a bit taller and lankier. By way of analogy, this would be someone who you would typically view as a basketball player. That is an ectomorph — naturally going to be taller and slimmer. For an ectomorph, it is very challenging to gain any kind of tissue, be it fat or muscle. Then we have mesomorph, which is right in the middle. Then we have endomorph, which is generally going to be a bit shorter and is going to gain tissue more easily. If you are thinking in terms of athletics, think of a power lifter or think in terms of a football player. Specifically, they are bigger and more muscular, football players. If you think of a shot putter, these individuals have an easier time building tissue — both fat tissue and muscle tissue. Then again, mesomorphs are in the middle.
The easiest way to think of the genetic components of your body composition is that you are probably going to fit in one of these three buckets. If you are naturally taller and lankier, you are an ectomorph. If you are naturally more inclined to gain either muscle or fat easily, really without trying, then you’re going to be an endomorph. If you’re right in the middle – meaning, if you go out of your way, you could gain muscle, and if you go out of your way, you could gain fat, but it doesn’t happen very easily in either direction and you’re not particularly lanky, you’re a mesomorph. It’s really important to understand those three categories because where we should aim our goals is going to be contingent on which of those categories that we fit into.
What I mean by that is, we all have genetic set points. If you’re an endomorph, there is nothing that you can do to become an ectomorph. For example, just like you can’t stretch yourself to make yourself taller because the genetic component that determines your height — of course, you can eat properly; you can get proper sleep from when you were a child; you can be in an optimal environment and that will maximize the height that is genetically predetermined.
At the end of the day, there is a set point and you can’t exceed that height. The same thing, not as much but similarly, applies to weight. What that means is that I would strongly encourage us — the best way that I’ve found to wrap my head around this is to think of your body structure — stick with me; this is going to sound a little strange — a little bit like you think of your facial structure. Stick with me; this might not make any sense at the very beginning.
What I mean by your facial structure is, we all know there is not too much we can do about changing the way our face looks. Certainly, we could have a little scruff, like I have right now. We could have a little bit longer hair, which, if you’ve seen me before, I have a little bit longer hair now. Certainly we could be more tan or more pale. We could trim our eyebrows or we could put on a little bit of makeup but at the end of the day — let’s use me as an example — there is nothing I can do to make my face look like the face of, let’s say, “The Rock” Dwayne Johnson. No matter how much I want my face to look like Dwayne Johnson “The Rock”’s face, I cannot make my face look like his face. The structure of our face is very different genetically. That doesn’t mean I can’t take steps to make my face look as nice as I can but what it does mean is that, I will make myself crazy if I judge my success facially by how much it looks like Dwayne Johnson’s face, aka, “The Rock”.
You’re like, “What in the heck is Jonathan talking about?” If we continue this logic and we say, when you look in the mirror, certainly you know that there are things you can do to change the appearance of your face within reason. You might have good days and you might have bad days. You might wake one day and say, “My face is looking good. I’m looking rested. I’m looking like I got a little bit of sun. I am looking good.” But hopefully you don’t ever look in the mirror and look at yourself and say, “Man, my face still doesn’t look like Sarah,” or some other person. You would never hopefully beat yourself up because your face doesn’t look like another person’s face.
Now let’s think about how we think about our bodies. No matter what I do, I cannot make my body — I am an ectomorph. “The Rock” Dwayne Johnson — that huge, big, muscular guy that’s in all the action movies — he is a mesomorph and he is 6’5”. He is a massive individual. That doesn’t mean that I can’t lift weights. It doesn’t mean that I can’t eat SANEly. It doesn’t mean that I can’t maximize my own potential. But for me to beat myself up because my body doesn’t look like “The Rock”’s body, a.k.a., Dwayne Johnson’s body, is as fair to me as beating myself up because my face doesn’t look like his face.
I really want you to think about that because we now know that our body structure has a big genetic determinate into it. It doesn’t mean nobody has a genetic predetermination to be obese. That does not exist. But what it does mean is, we need to give ourselves permission to be as fit as we can, given our genetic body type, and to never compare our body to another person’s body, much like we would compare our face hopefully to another person’s face.
I know that can be a bit hard but once we understand the important genetic components — for example, this individual writes in and says that this is something they literally struggled with their entire lives. Ever since they were a small child, five-year-old/six-year-old, they were not as thin as their friends. That’s all good. What I would encourage you to do is let us, in the SANE family — your SANE-certified coaches and your other members of your SANE Support Group — know.
Let’s roll back the clock and let’s think about when you were at your fittest — for a lot of us, this is in our teenage years — and let’s see how close we can get to that. Let’s use that as the benchmark. Let’s always use the fittest we’ve ever been as individuals as our benchmark. Let’s not use what happens with other people as our benchmark because — write this down if you have a pen and paper; if you don’t have a pen and paper, please get one. The proven science is that our genes determine our body structure about as strongly as they determine our facial structure. When you know the science, it can allow you to exhale because, maybe for the first time in 40 years, in 50 years, in 60 years, you can look at yourself in the mirror and say, with all sincerity, it’s not your fault.
I don’t mean to sound like Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting when he is talking to Matt Damon. That was like one of my favorite movies of all time. It’s not my fault that I don’t look like Dwayne Johnson facially. It’s also not my fault that I don’t look like Dwayne Johnson from the neck down. Now, it’s not your fault that you can’t see your abs. Your ability to see your abs is as genetically determined, in large part, to whether or not your eyebrows connect; whether or not you have earlobes that come out like this or attached to the side of your face. These are things that no one talks about.
Another great example of the genetic importance of body structure is if you look at people’s calves. This applies to all muscle groups but calves are visually easy to see. You’ll see it’s a lot easier to see people’s calves than their back, for example. You’ll notice that some individuals — for example, my father. I’m Polish and his calves tend to be — our calves come lower on our leg and they’re a little bit longer and bulkier. You’ll notice other cultures’ calves tend to sit up a little bit higher. So the calves just sit up higher and it’s more like a ball; whereas on some people, the calves are stretched out. That has to do with what’s called your muscle insertion points.
You can’t change where your muscles insert; not into the bone, but you understand what I am saying. You can’t change where the muscles insert. The same thing applies to your bicep. Same thing applies to all the muscles in your body. There are huge genetic components to how we look that we can’t change. What we can always change is, we can do the best with the hand that we are dealt. Play the cards that we’ve been dealt as best as we can. If we want to benchmark ourselves, let’s benchmark ourselves our personal best in the past. Let’s also factor in age a little bit. If an individual is sixty-five years old, benchmarking yourself against you as a fifteen-year-old might certainly help; it’s certainly better than benchmarking yourself against some totally separate person but keep the benchmark as the best you you can be because, I promise you, and the science is clear.
For example, your ability to see your abdominal muscles — I’m not going to do this and I don’t take my shirt off in pictures and things like that because I think that’s a lot of what’s wrong with the weight loss industry. There is way too much focus on people taking their shirts off and too much bathing suit pictures and things like that. If a picture with me with my shirt off ever leaks, you will notice that my abs are kind of weird. They are asymmetrical. There’s four on one side and three on another and it doesn’t seem to bother my life but there is nothing I can do about that; that’s just the way my abdominal muscles look like. There are many, many, many different components of our physiology that work like that so I really urge you to give yourself first.
For this individual who wrote in, who is saying that she is feeling great, she has been doing this for six months. Three things that are really important to keep in mind. First is that, no matter what, I promise you that stopping, that going inSANE and stopping your eccentric exercise, I can one hundred percent promise you that that will take you further away from your goals. No matter what, please don’t stop. Don’t decrease your SANEity because that will definitely not help. If you are feeling great and you are sleeping great and if everything but your measurements are going in the right direction, stay at it. Because those are the signs that the change is happening. The first thing to keep in mind, again, don’t stop.
The second thing to keep in mind is the change we are now targeting — it’s really important that those changes then align with our genes so that we don’t set ourselves up for unfair expectations. We want to make sure that we put ourselves in one of those three body categories — endomorph, mesomorph, and ectomorph. The best way to do that is to think about yourself at your fittest; think about your parents — have that goal — and then think about comparing yourself to yourself at your best point; not to anybody else.
The third thing to keep in mind, or the third thing I’d love for you to do, is if you’re ever unsure as to whether or not you’re making progress, the number one thing you can do is go see your primary care physician and get a full blood panel done. As you know, we are here and we are working together for the long term. We are working on metabolic healing because we now know the American Medical Association recognizes that obesity is a disease; chronic weight gain is a disease just like diabetes, just like heart disease, just like cancer. It’s a disease that we need to reverse and heal from the inside-out. If this is something that you’ve struggled with your entire life and if you have a genetic predisposition towards it, six months may seem like a long time but we are going to measure your progress at six-month intervals.
You are already seeing some progress but what I need you to do is, I need you to go to your primary care physician. I need you to get bloodwork done because then, when you go back to your primary care physician in three months or six months and they do the bloodwork again and you see proof on paper that you are healing from the inside-out, it is impossible for your body composition not to revert to your best. Given your genes and your age, it will. It has to. It’s just science. Revert to your best.
Step number one is that we don’t stop. Step number two is that we understand our best is because it is unique to us and it is not our fault that our best is not the best of someone else. We all have different strengths and we all have different weaknesses. The third thing we have to do is we need to make sure we’re measuring the right things. The right things in a SANE lifestyle is metabolic healing. The only way to accurately measure that is to actually see what is going on on the inside of your body and you can work with your primary care physician for that. I hope that is helpful. I know that the analogy to your facial structure may seem a little strange.
I do see some wonderful questions coming in and I will get to those in a second. I honestly think this can be so transformative because we are given a message in our lives and, in one hand, it is very positive but, on the other hand, it can be very crazy making. Stick with me here for a little bit. We are told that we can do anything. If you just work hard enough, you can do anything. At least, we hear that a lot in the States. I know we have a lot of international family members here but that is something that we hear a lot and that is true in a lot of ways. One thing it can also do is that it can set us up to be extremely hard on ourselves because, if it is technically true that if we just work hard enough, we can achieve anything; then at the end of the day, it’s like, “Why haven’t we achieved everything?”
I know I struggle with that a lot. We have to have the realization that the truth is, we can’t do everything. We can’t. You know what? We can do a lot of things. I think it is a really important distinction. We can’t do everything but we can do a lot of things. Your body structure and your facial structure is a great example of things that you can work really intelligently and you can maximize it but there is nothing I can do. Let me give you a very concrete example. There is a gene in your body called GDF8. These calls are intentionally deep and intentionally advance. Of course, the rest of the Ignite Program will cover a lot of the earlier steps but I want to add unique value in these calls. We are going to go a little bit deep.
There is a gene in your body called GDF8, Growth/Differentiation Factor 8. This actually limits the amount of muscle tissue you can gain. It is physically impossible — there is GDF8 and there is another substance called myostatin, which will limit the amount of muscle you can have. A human being cannot gain 800 pounds of muscle. It cannot happen. It’s just impossible. You literally have hard limits on what your body can do. That doesn’t mean you can’t do great things; it just means that, on one hand, it is beautiful for us to be told that we can do anything.
If we hold ourselves accountable to not being everything, we can get down on ourselves unfairly. I promise you that you can be the most beautiful, energetic, healthy, and passionate version of yourself. You just need to be given permission and given the information to tell you that it’s really easy to think, with your body, that if you just work harder, that you can have the same body as a fitness model; or if you just work harder, you can have those six-pack-abs. I am here to tell you and to give you the motivation to understand that it is as reasonable for you to expect yourself to have six-pack abs, if you’ve struggled with your weight your whole life, as it is for you to expect to be able to play golf like Jack Nicholas.
It’s a skill. There is a huge genetic component. This doesn’t mean that you can become a great golfer. It doesn’t mean you can’t become a great pianist. Hopefully, you will not ever consider yourself a failure because you cannot compose music like Mozart. Hopefully, you don’t hold yourself to Mozart as the standard because you know that, while you can get good at music, Mozart had a few genetic cards dealt to his advantage. Being able to see your abs, being able to have that super-low percentage of body fat, that is like an athletic skill or a musical skill. It is a skill with a large genetic component and, because of that, you can finally say to yourself that it is not your fault. It’s not your fault.
That doesn’t mean — let’s be clear. It doesn’t mean, “Okay, well, I’m not going to eat my non-starchy vegetables and nutrient-dense protein and whole-food fats.” No, no, no. That’s critical. It’s super, super important. It’s super important. What it means is that you now have permission to be your best self rather than your goal being to be better than everyone else. I know that that’s really hard for me but hopefully some of these mental strategies can make it easier for you.
Let me go ahead, real quick, and take a look at some of the questions that came in because I know a few came in. I’m so sorry. Some of these questions are getting lost because of the technical issues we had. Sally is asking if I have never been fit. If you know a little bit about my back story, the way I got into all of this was that I wanted to be — the reason I used “The Rock“ is fairly intentional because I’m an ectomorph so I’m a naturally thin person. When I was younger, I was a personal trainer and I was eating about 6,000 calories per day and I was taking literally hundreds of dollars of nutritional supplements way before they were even pseudo regulated in an effort to get bigger.
Stick with me here because you might be saying, “Who the heck is this guy to be talking about weight loss when that is something he’s never had to struggle with?” I had a very unique opportunity. That opportunity was, I am eating 6,000 calories per day and I am serving as a personal trainer and the vast majority of my clients — this is the way I paid my way through college; this is a long time ago; this is before SANE — I was telling them to go on 1,200 calorie starvation diets because that’s what most personal trainers are taught to do. I was watching them exercise, burning more calories than I was. I was watching these individuals.
Again, I’m 18, 19, 20 at the time. These are individuals who have a lifetime of brilliance and experience and success under their belts; these are professionals; these are people with wonderful families; these are people who have had radically more success in their lives than little teenage Jonathan Bailor had had. There is no question. These people don’t have a discipline problem; they don’t have a willpower problem.
I’m eating 6,000 calories per day and I can’t get bigger. They’re eating 1,200 calories per day and they can’t get smaller. This changed my life forever. This is actually what led us to where we are right now, literally, talking today, which was, I could no longer sit across the desk from these beautiful, capable people and tell them, “You just need to eat less. You just need to exercise more.” How could I say that when I am eating five times more calories than they are and I am not getting bigger? Again, they’re eating five times fewer calories than I am and not getting smaller.
I think, very often, people who are naturally thin don’t understand the genetic advantage that they have in that they are naturally thin. In fact, there is no research on, specifically, why naturally thin people are naturally thin. That’s what led to SANE Solution. I then quit being a personal trainer because I said that there has to be something else going on here. Fifteen years, I dug deep into the research with one fundamental question. I had the blessing to work with folks over at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, UCLA, Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, so on and so forth, on which is, “Why are some people naturally thin and other people aren’t?” Because I knew, firsthand, I wasn’t working harder and I wasn’t more disciplined. I wasn’t working harder or more disciplined than my clients. I was not. I was able to see it from both sides and that’s why I get so worked up and so angry when people who are naturally fit look at other people and say, “You just need to work harder.”
I promise you that individuals in the SANE Ignite family are some of the smartest, hardest working individuals in the world. It is not an effort problem. It’s like telling someone, “You need to try hard to be taller.” There is something else going on. What we actually discovered through those fifteen years of research is that while — for example, for me there is nothing I can do to gain a huge amount of muscle. I am going to be very transparent with you here on this call.
This is not something I’d share publicly and I would appreciate if you don’t share it publicly. When I was in college, I was so determined to try to become bigger that I did everything except take anabolic steroids. I never did anything that was illegal but the stuff that Mark McGwire got in trouble for taking; they are pro-hormones. You can’t use them now. They are not steroids but they are the level before steroids. I did those and I got up to like 220 pounds. I weigh 190 and 190 is what I should weigh. I am 6 feet tall. I got up to 220 and as soon as I went off of them I went right back down to 190 and I could never break 220. That’s probably when the GDF8 gene kicked in there.
Again, we have that limitation but that doesn’t mean we can’t do excellent and it really means that we need to forgive ourselves and give ourselves permission to become our best over time; rather than what society tells us to be or what society pressures us to be. I need you to make that commitment to yourself. Can you please make that commitment? To have your goal be a better and better version of you rather than being better than someone else. I promise you that I am going to watch this back and I am going to listen to that section over and over again because I have struggled with this very much. Once you understand the science, hopefully it can be helpful.
I promise you. I promise you that there is no world ever, there is no set of genes ever, that says eating — listen carefully here because this is going to sound a little strange — there is no set of genes that says eating less non-starchy vegetables will make you get closer to your goals. There is no set of genes that says eating fewer non-starchy vegetables will get you closer to your goals. There is no set of genes that says eating less nutrient-dense protein and more starches and sweets will help you to have more energy. That will help you better rock your mission. There is no set of genes that says getting the majority of your calories through processed starches and sweets, like the vast majority of America. Instead of getting the majority of your calories from safe, hormonally-healthy wholefood fats is better for you — no set of genes.
If you ever get discouraged, please reach out to the SANE Coaching and Support Group. That is what that’s there for. It’s here for the love and support because you have to have social support. I promise you that there is no world ever, ever, ever, ever — you know this, you tried the nonsense; you tried the gimmicks; you tried the quick fixes. If they worked, if there was some magic pill that somehow reversed obesity, I promise you that it would get handed out to people because that would be the greatest discovery that has ever happened in the history of medicine. If there was a way, if there was an obesity vaccine, it would get injected into people at birth but it doesn’t exist and it will likely never exist based on my understanding of the way your brain, your gut, and your hormones exist.
Until then, we have got to do the next best thing. There is a magic pill. It’s called non-starchy vegetables, nutrient-dense protein, and wholefood fats. Those things, when you focus on them and give them enough time, will heal you from the inside-out regardless of what your genes say. Hopefully that is helpful. Please let me know if it is not.
I know there is a little bit of technical difficulty going on. If you are not able to ask questions here, then post them in the Support Group. Please keep them coming in. Thank you so much for asking this question. It is so important. Again, I just want to celebrate the progress that you have made. If at the end of the day, your mind just says, “You know what? It has been six months and I am not where I want to be.” Within that statement, “I am not where I want to be,” is an element of truth that I really want you to think about. In your heart of hearts, even if it has been six months and you’re not where you want to be, in that statement, you said there is a place I want to be and I am not there yet.
“It has been six months and I am not there.” You have a very simple choice to make when you have that thought. The choice is, am I going to be less SANE as a result of not being where I want to be, where I acknowledge that I want to be, that I acknowledge is important for me to achieve to live my best life and to be there for the people I love and for my family and for my friends and to rock the mission that I was put here to do. I have a very simple choice to make. I am not where I want to be right now. Am I going to stop or keep going?
If you can find one scientific study that refutes this, please share it with me because it doesn’t exist. Eating fewer non-starchy vegetables, eating less nutrient-dense protein, and less wholefood fats in favor of more processed starches and sweets or starvation dieting will not get you where you want to go. You have a very simple choice to make and that is to keep going SANE and give yourself permission and time and forgiveness to get where you want to go. Or regrets. Or literally have all the progress you’ve made for the past six months go away.
Please don’t let that happen. Please don’t let that happen. It is so important that you keep joining these calls and keep posting in the Support Group because, no matter what, no matter how slow it is going, no matter how many setbacks you have had, inSANEity will not help you, I promise. Please don’t stop. Please keep going. If there is anything that I can do or any of your SANE-certified coaches can do or any of your SANE family members can do, please don’t stop. Let us help you keep going. Okay? It’s very important.
Next question. “How should I stay on track while eating lots of SANE desserts? How do I stay on top of tracking food with a busy lifestyle? I am having a hard time tracking for more than a few days. What should I do?” SANE desserts — I know this came up in the support group as well so let’s talk about this for a little bit. SANE desserts are a wonderful source of wholefood fats. In fact, one of the things I like personally most about eating SANE — I know a lot of your fellow SANE family members as well — is that we’re able to enjoy all the different tastes in the world and in high quantities.
It’s not like just eat half of an Oreo cookie, which, first of all, will trigger cravings and make you want more Oreo cookies. It’s not good. It’s like telling an alcoholic to have just one beer. The psychology of food addiction is very clear and the steps that food manufacturers have taken to make things like Oreos — in fact, the filling of Oreos — to be preferred by rodents over cocaine in universities’ tests. Yes, that is correct. I believe it was the University of Connecticut that conducted a study in which rodents preferred the filling of Oreos to cocaine when given the choice.
You can infer what you’d like from that but what’s beautiful about a SANE lifestyle is we’re not going to say to eat half an Oreo; we’re going to say, “Eat an abundance of non-starchy vegetables, nutrient-dense protein, and wholefood fats.” Within the wholefood fat category, my favorite way to eat those — and I know a lot of the SANE family members’ favorite way to eat those is in the form of SANE desserts.
We use things like coconut; we use things like cocoa; we’re going to use things like SANE natural sweeteners such as erythritol or Xylitol, which are naturally-occurring sugar alcohols that are found in birch bark. Things like nuts and seeds — for example, using almonds or almond butters and making wonderful SANE desserts. The key thing to keep in mind is that, just like anything else, the book that I wrote, which a lot of people have read — it’s called “The Calorie Myth.” Some people who haven’t read that book see the title and think that that means that calories are a myth, like unicorns; they don’t exist. Calories are not a myth. They do exist and they matter. If you ate 10,000 calories of butter, you would gain fat even though butter wouldn’t trigger any of the hormone insulin, which you may have heard talked about a lot. The good news is that nobody will continuously eat 10,000 calories of butter.
What we need to do is find food that helps our body reset our appetite to a natural healthy level. Once we do that, our brain will count calories for us automatically. It’s not that calories don’t exist; it’s just focusing on them puts us in the wrong direction, in which we go to McDonalds and say that anything less than 400 calories is healthy because it has fewer than 400 calories in it. We know that is broken logic. Cigarettes have no calories in them but that doesn’t mean that they are a good thing. Just because something has less than a certain number of calories in it, doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Another way to think about that is, you can take any food and shrink the serving size and you can drop it to be under a 100 calories but that doesn’t make it healthy.
What we have to understand is that it is possible to overdo it with SANE desserts. I don’t want to focus on that. I don’t want to focus on what we shouldn’t do; I want to focus on what we should do because there’s a huge amount of proven psychology that says — this is really important so please focus on here and maybe write this down. There is a famous psychological study done. Let’s actually do it here right now on the call. You can be interactive. I hope you are ready. I want you, if possible, right now — don’t think about a white bear. Don’t think about it. Do not think about a white bear. Okay? How is that working out? Did you think of a white bear when I told you to not think of one? I bet you did. It’s not your fault because here is how your brain works. This is really important. This is why starvation dieting doesn’t work and this is why we want to focus on eating more of the right foods rather than thinking about what we shouldn’t do.
When you tell your brain to watch out for something or to avoid something, what actually happens in your brain metaphorically is a little process spins up in your brain which is going to watch out for that thing. Imagine human beings many, many years ago walking out on the Savannah and are like, “Don’t get eaten by a tiger.” The way you don’t get eaten by a tiger is your subconscious and your peripheral vision has a little process running that’s going to be hyperaware in your environment to say, “Is there a tiger? Is there a tiger? Is there a tiger?”
The act of thinking about “avoid tigers” will make your brain constantly think about tigers, which is a good thing because getting eaten by a tiger — if our ancestors were eaten by tigers, we would not be here talking today. Thank you very much to my ancestors and to all of your ancestors for having that mental process which says, “Hey, if I tell my brain to avoid X, my brain will constantly think about X.” Our brain will do what we tell it to do and, unfortunately, it’s called ironic intention or paradoxical intention. If we focus on what not to do, that is a great way to force yourself to do it accidentally.
Here is another example. Next time you need to speak publicly — one of the number one fears in the country — and you get nervous and you tell yourself not to be nervous, “Don’t be nervous. Don’t be nervous.” Every time you say “Don’t be nervous,” you will get more nervous. Here is another example. You’re lying in bed and you can’t fall asleep. Have you ever had this experience before? Then your mind says, “Oh my gosh, you’ve got to fall asleep. You have such an important day tomorrow. If you don’t fall asleep, it is going to be a disaster.” “Okay, I am going to try harder to fall asleep. I am really trying hard.” Try harder. The harder you try to fall asleep, the more awake you become. Have you ever had that experience?
The less nervous you try to become, the more nervous you become. That is called ironic intention and it is a really psychological thing. What we want to watch out for is focusing on the negative. We don’t want to think about what we don’t want to do. We want to focus all of our attention and all of our efforts on what we do want to do. If we are concerned that we are eating too many SANE desserts, what I would strongly recommend is to do the opposite of what you have been taught for the past twenty, thirty, or forty years — the starvation deprivation mindset which tells you to focus on the things you should avoid. That is psychologically proven to lead to frustration. You do not want to focus on what you want to avoid.
If you’re driving, what you want to do is you want to focus on the car in front of you; you want to focus on where you want to go. You don’t want to look off the edge of the road; then you’re going to drift towards the edge of the road. You don’t want to do that. Focus on where you want to go. Where you want to go in this context is, non-starchy vegetables and nutrient-dense protein. Non-starchy vegetables, you can never overdo. It is physically impossible to eat too many non-starchy vegetables.
Step number one is make sure you’re at double-digit non-starchy vegetables. That’s for everything. Goal number one for SANE eating is double-digit non-starchy vegetables. How do I do that? Get three at breakfast, three at lunch, three at dinner — you’re already at nine. Add a snack or add a SANE superfood to one of your smoothies — you’re at ten. There, done, easy. Three, three, three — you’ve got nine; add one more — ten. You’re at double digits and you can go from there. You get to double-digit non-starchy vegetables and then you make sure that every time you eat, you’re getting a serving of nutrient-dense protein so you’re at a minimum of three servings of nutrient-dense protein, up to six, where a serving is at least twenty grams of protein; potentially up to fifty, depending on your body size. Remember, a serving of protein is about the size of the palm of your hand.
If you do that, it’s going to be nearly impossible for you to overeat SANE desserts because you will be too full. The only context in which you will accidentally over-consume SANE desserts is if you eat them before eating your non-starchy vegetables and your nutrient-dense protein. My strong recommendation — my strong, strong recommendation — is, if you have a lot of excess fat to lose — if you have a lot of excess fat to lose, first, if possible — we’re looking at —
Certainly, we don’t eat SANE desserts after breakfast. That’s probably not the best idea in the world but if you can work towards having a wonderful and enjoyable SANE dessert after dinner or once a day, I think that’s a great goal to have. I want you to enjoy it and I want you to savor it consciously. It’s not something that you just eat in passing; it’s something that I want you to really enjoy. I want you to make sure that you’re eating it after you’ve eaten all of your non-starchy vegetables and nutrient-dense protein. That’s the key — to focus on hitting those nutrient-dense protein and non-starchy vegetable numbers. If you don’t have time to count, that’s fine. Here’s the simplification. Stuff yourself with non-starchy vegetables. Literally, stuff yourself. I mean, that’s the philosophy that works. I want you to fill your body and your mind and your life with so much good that there’s no room for the bad.
That might sound obvious but think about how different that mindset is from the conventional Weight Watchers mindset. The conventional Weight Watchers’ calorie-counting, starvation and shame-based mindset tells us, “Just eat less. Just eat less. Focus on less. Focus on avoiding. Focus on deprivation. You can eat addictive and toxic stuff; just less of it.” Literally, the opposite of that is, Eat so much of the foods that have been proven by science and by millennia of human experience to be therapeutic and healing. Eat so many of those that it is physically impossible for you to overeat foods that could cause chaos in your body.
If tracking your food helps you, do it. If it hinders you, stop and focus on non-starchy vegetables and nutrient-dense protein — rocking those and enjoying a SANE dessert once a day after eating those things. Of course, if you’re already fit, you can eat more SANE desserts because you need more calories and more energy because you don’t already have calories or energy stored in your body as excess body fat. If you’ve got twenty, forty, sixty, eighty, a hundred pounds of excess body fat to lose, we want to heal the body with vegetables and protein; we want to make sure we’re satisfied and full and happy with our SANE desserts maybe once a day, we want to get that one, two, three servings of wholefood fats, and then you’re going to get wholefood fats incidentally in your other meals as well. That’s the recommendation around desserts.
Also, the key thing about SANE desserts is they’re delicious and wonderful and I love them. I would argue that they’re required for long term SANEity and enjoyment but they’re not vegetables. Shocker, shocker — they’re not vegetables. Just focus on those vegetables. Crush those vegetables. Enjoy those vegetables. Learn to love those vegetables. Then once you get the vegetables in and the protein in, enjoy the SANE desserts. Hopefully, that is helpful.
All right. Next question here — and again, please feel free to send in questions if you can. I’m so sorry if you can’t because of the technical issues. Again, I’ll be back next week. I was traveling a lot this past month but I am going to be here with more availability so we will be here next week and we’ll be back the following week. We’re going to have some back-to-back sessions. It’s going to be awesome.
The next question that was in is an individual — actually, she wrote some really nice words. Thank you. She’s a type diabetic. She has knee cartilage issues. She is now finding that she can’t eat chicken as it causes inflammation that she can feel and causes her to barely be able to walk. Even nightshade vegetables are causing unpleasant side effects. “Do you think that once my body heals, I might be able to incorporate these again?”
Yes, you might be able to incorporate them again. Two very important distinctions here — I’ll make this general so that it applies to all of us. When we’re in a state of chronic weight gain — and this is really important; it ties back to the thing we talked about earlier in the session. That is, when we understand — I need you to understand this because this might even be more important than eating vegetables — understanding and truly believing this. If it was a hundred years ago — 1916; a hundred years ago — and you looked in the media — different but the media still existed. I believe that there were newspapers back then for sure.
The information given about smoking was very different than the information that was given about smoking today. We were told smoking is harmless. There’s a reason that almost everyone smoked. Physicians said it was harmless; people smoked in public; even if you didn’t smoke, it was nearly impossible not to breathe in cigarette smoke because everyone else was smoking. That’s fine. There were actually ads with doctors in them saying that it was good for you, believe it or not. Do a little search on the Internet. Search for old cigarette ads and you will see health claims made by cigarette smoking. In fact — this is interesting — some of the earliest research on stress management — some of the earliest research on the benefits of reducing perceived stress were actually funded by tobacco corporations because cigarettes — the whole idea of “take a five-minute break to smoke cigarettes to lower stress levels” — was thought of like a benefit of cigarette smoking. Anyway, I digress.
If you were raised in an environment in which you were told that cigarette smoking was at worst harmless and, at best, good for you and then you got lung cancer, is that your fault? If you were raised in a culture that told you, “Cigarette smoking was at worst harmless and at best healthy” and then you got lung cancer, is that your fault? Did you just need to try harder or were you lazy or something? No, not at all. You were given bad information. Because you were given bad information, unfortunately, someone else is responsible for you not having these problems. Never. Here’s the catch. Now we know that cigarette smoking is terrible for us so now, if someone started smoking in 2016 and then got lunch cancer, yes, it would be their fault.
For a lot of us, unfortunately, we grew up in an era — look at the Food Guide Pyramid. I know it’s not the Food Guide Pyramid anymore; it’s a plate — but it was the Pyramid for a long time. What was on the bottom of that pyramid? Starch. Eleven servings of starch per day. It was the key. You take that starch, you put it in your mouth, you put it in your stomach, guess what it leaves your stomach as? Sugar. The whole simple versus complex carbohydrates — that distinction is a little bit like saying, “Smoking is harmless.”
Simple carbohydrate means sugar. Complex carbohydrate means long chain of sugars which becomes sugar as soon as you digest it. We were raised in an environment in which we were told sugar is harmless. In fact, if you do a little Internet search for old sugar ads, you will find ads that say, “Sugar — it’s a great fat-free source of energy.” A.k.a., sugar is good for you because it’s low in fat.” Now, we already agreed hopefully that if we were raised in an era in which we were told “smoking is harmless” or even “potentially healthy” and then we got lung cancer, it’s not our fault.
Can we agree that we were likely — very likely, unless you were born very recently, which you’d probably wouldn’t be on this call if you were — that we were raised in an era in which we were told starches and sweets were harmless and in certain cases, even healthful. We’re told that and we get a clogged metabolism. If we get inflammation in our brain which is caused by processed sugars and starches, if we get insulin resistance, if we get dysregulation in our gut because of these processed foods, is that our fault? It’s not. You know what? Like lung cancer, it’s a disease. It’s not a moral failing. You did nothing wrong. You were given bad information and now, God bless you, you have a disease and it wasn’t your fault. You’re here. You have the courage to get the right information and now you have the ability to take action to reverse that disease.
Why am I focusing so much on the term “disease”? Because I want you to take this seriously because your life is literally on the line. I think we all agree with that, right? We’re here because we know that this is a matter of us living our best life or not. It’s a matter of life or death. The steps you’re taking today, being on this call and applying what you are learning, will add years to your life and life to your years. Bottom line. I would argue there’s very little else more important than that because there’s a lot of people depending on you. So thank you for taking that responsibility and thank you for taking that action to reverse the bastardized nutrition information that’s been heaped upon you for the past forty years. Thank you for doing that because we need you here.
But now it’s a disease. It’s a disease we can heal from. When we have a disease, when we’re in a diseased state, there are things that we probably shouldn’t do. You know this, right? If you have the flu, there are things you shouldn’t do when you have the flu which, once the flu is gone, you can do. Now, if you have the flu, should you have someone else sneeze in your face? Probably not. You probably shouldn’t have someone do that when you don’t have the flu either. So what I’m about to say isn’t like, “Hey, when you’re struggling with metabolic dysregulation, which is the clinical term for the disease which results in overweight and obesity — it’s called metabolic dysregulation — it doesn’t mean when you don’t have metabolic dysregulation, that you should go drink Pepsi. You shouldn’t. You should never drink Pepsi. Drinking Pepsi is to metabolic dysregulation as having someone with the flu sneeze in your face. The flu isn’t a disease but you’ll understand where I’m going with this.
Things like chicken and nightshades, when you are in the acute metabolic dysregulation disease state, there are things that we need you to do to heal yourself that are not as necessary when you’re healed. I think we can get that when we understand how our bodies work in a diseased state. We know already. You already know that if you have an acute medical condition — so if your ankle is broken — if you’ve been a member of the SANE Ignite Family for a while, you’re like, “He is going to talk about the ankle metaphor again.” I am going to talk about the ankle metaphor again. Your ankle’s broken. When it’s broken, you probably shouldn’t put a bunch of weight on it. However, once it’s healed, you can put weight on it. If you broke your ankle skydiving, you might not want to skydive anymore but that doesn’t mean you can’t ever put weight on your ankle again but you do need to let it heal.
Think of your body the same way. You have a temporarily broken metabolism. While it’s broken, we’re going to have to do special things to heal it. I need you to treat yourself just like you would treat yourself if you had the flu. I need you to love yourself; I need you to take care of yourself; I need you to focus on healing; I need you to focus on flooding your body with nutrition and love and care so that you can heal. Once you’re healed, the best example of this is sugar and sweets — conventional sugar and sweets; not SANE sweets because those are non-addictive.
All right. My brain’s going to two places at once. When you are fully metabolically healed, what you’ll likely experience is, if it’s a party and there is cake and you want to eat some cake, here’s what will happen — and I promise this is true and you can ask other members in your SANE Ignite Family — when you go SANE for a while, your taste buds will change. They have to. It’s just science. Just like if you stopped drinking alcohol for a while, your sensitization to alcohol will become more acute. If you drink a lot of alcohol, you need to drink more alcohol to get the same effect. If you eat a lot of sugar, you need to eat a lot of sugar to have the same effect. If you stop eating sugar, you become more sensitive to the sugar; you become more sensitive to the taste of sweet.
When you are in a diseased state, which happened through no fault of your own because you were given bad information, things like sugar — or in this person’s case, chicken and nightshades, which is just in this specific case, but let’s say sugar, is something you really want to avoid, especially when we’re in that diseased state because we take in that sugar, it’s going to set back. The resensitization of our taste buds is going to re-trigger the inflammation in our brain because it hasn’t healed yet, where it’s just like stomping on that broken ankle. I’m going to mix metaphors all day here — so many metaphors going on at the same time — but once we’re healed, what will happen is, you’ll take a bite out of that cake first. You’ll probably think it’s way too sweet and you won’t like it.
We’ve probably all had this experience where maybe we used to drink full fat milk and now we drink skim milk or we used to drink regular soda and now we drink diet soda. If you go back to the new thing, once you’re used to the new thing, you’re like, “How did I ever like that old thing?” The same thing happens with junk and SANE food. It’s a miraculous feeling. I promise you, when you resensitize the taste buds, they’re not even going to taste that good. If you did want to eat them at that time, you could. And there’s nothing you can do in one day that’s going to break your metabolism when it comes to food you’re eating. Think of your metabolic system like your immune system. If your immune system is going down and you’re sick — actually, let’s use the flu example and go back to that metaphor.
Should you go outside in the cold after taking a bath with just your bathing suit on? No. You probably shouldn’t do that anyway but you understand my point. You don’t want to expose yourself to a bunch of possibilities of getting sick when you’re already sick. However, that’s because your immune system is going down so your ability to fight off negativity is weakened. When your immune system is strong and healed, the same thing that would’ve made you sicker when your immune system is suppressed will not make you sick when your immune system’s got the turbo boost. The same thing applies to your metabolic system. When your metabolic system is broken down, it’s going to be a lot more sensitive to inSANEity but when it’s healed, just like your immune system, a virus comes in, your immune system suddenly knocks the virus out; you’re okay. But if you had the flu, your immune system can’t fight it off. Same thing with your metabolic system.
For this individual, whether it’s nightshades or chicken, we’ve got to heal the metabolism first. Once the metabolism is healed, you will have a strong metabolism. Like, you could have a strong immune system and that will allow you to, if you want to, which in this case, nightshades — I love eggplant, I love tomatoes, and I love chicken — so you will likely be able to enjoy those again. Then if you wanted to, you had sugar on occasion, it will not completely derail you as long as it’s not consistent once you’re already healed. Does that make sense? I hope it does. I hope it is helpful.
All right. Let us keep rocking and rolling here. Oh, goodness. I really like this one here. This was a question that came in about exercise identity. A big part of the SANE lifestyle — we talk about eating more and exercising less but smarter. Sometimes people hear that exercise less but smarter and it sets off alarm bells because we’ve been told exercise is so important. Exercise is important but we need to get really clear on what we’re talking about when we say “important”. What is the definition of “is”? What am I talking about?
All right, first we’ve got to get clear on what we mean when we say “exercise” and we’ve got to get clear on what we mean when we say “important”. For example, reading books is important if your goal is to develop your mind. If you want to become a good writer, reading books is important. Reading helps you to become a better writer. Reading is important if your goal is writing. Saying something is important is contingent on you having a certain goal. Practicing pole-vaulting is important if you want to become a great pole-vaulter but it doesn’t make sense to just say, “Pole vaulting practice is important.” Right? Unless you want to become a great pole vaulter, it’s not important. When people make the global statement, “Exercise is important”, exercise — a.k.a. physical movement — the appropriate kind of physical movement is critical if you have the goal of being able to move in the future, which we all do. That’s a very different goal than metabolic healing or losing body fat.
If you want to run a marathon, then jogging is important because jogging will facilitate you being good at marathon running. Taking the stairs is very important to your joint health, to your bone health, if you want to be able to walk up the stairs when you’re eighty-five. Please walk up the stairs as often as you can prior to turning eighty-five because it will protect your bones, it will protect your tissue, it will help you to do more of that in the future. Physical movement is extremely important to be able to do physical movement in the future but physical movement just as a category is not effective at fat loss. The reason for this is very simple.
Here’s a great way to think about it. When you do physical movement like this — that’s how we all move; you just sit in your office or at your desk and you do this little dance that I’m doing right now. When you do physical movement, you’ll notice that you might sweat. So you do physical movement and it causes water to leave your body. What does that cause? That causes you to get thirsty because your body says, “Hey, there’s a certain amount of water that I need to have to maintain hydration.” So if you move more, more water comes out which makes your body to say, “More water needs to come in.” Make sense? Cool, we’re on the same page. Exercise leads to more water out which causes more water in.
Physical movement also causes calories out. You do burn energy doing physical movement. You don’t burn nearly as much energy as most people would lead you to believe but you do burn energy. When you burn energy, so when energy leaves your body just like when water leaves your body, guess what your brain tells you you need? Just like it says you need more water, it’ll say, “Hey, you need more energy.” I bet we can all agree that it’s a lot easier to eat calories than it is to burn them off. Right? You would need to jog at a pretty heavy clip for about thirty minutes to burn just over 150 calories. You can eat 150 calories in about five seconds pretty, pretty easily.
The challenge with thinking of physical movement first is that, one, it’s not about burning more calories consciously through exercise anyway. We know that and you’ll learn more about that in your Ignite Program. But even if it was about that, just like when you move more, you sweat more and when you sweat more, you’re going to drink more and then it’s easier to drink water than it is to sweat water out; if you move more, you’re going to burn more, yes, but that’s going to cause you to eat more and I promise you that it’s way easier to eat calories than it is to burn them off.
Exercise — movement — is very important for us in maintaining our ability to move moving forward. But if we want to heal metabolically, we need to take a different look at exercise and we need to put it in three buckets. This is really important so please write this down. I want you to draw like three buckets or three circles. In one circle, I want you to put movement — just moving. Call it moving/being a person. What I mean by “moving/being a person” are things like standing, walking up stairs, walking in general, playing with your kids, gardening, biking. Those things are called being a person; they’re not exercise. In the 1600s, people were walking around — we’ve got legs because we’re supposed to stand and we’re supposed to walk. That is being a person; that is not exercise. That is movement. I swear to you, the more that you do, the healthier and happier you will be.
The more you move in a natural way — and when I say a natural way, I mean that, if you went back in time 600 years ago and you did it, people would be like, “Okay, I know what that person’s doing. They’re being a person. That makes sense.” They had stairs 600 years ago and people played with their kids 600 years ago. That’s just being a person; that’s not exercise. Going on a machine at the gym, driving and getting a really close parking spot so that we can then get on a machine that we will pay money to expend physical energy on — that is “exercise”; that is not a good thing because it’s going to cause you — it’s a waste of time. If you do too much of it, it’s going to cause an elevation in certain hormone levels which are going to throw you off; it’s going to make you crave sugary foods; it’s going to make you crave starchy foods; and it’s just time that would be way better spent cooking and preparing whole healthy food.
We’ve got physical movement and being a person. That is also going to include meditative activities – things like yoga, tai chi, Pilates, things that are restorative to the body, things that reduce negative stress, not increase it. That one circle of moving and being a person – that’s critical. Do as much of that as you can. I’d also put restorative exercise in that category. Then there is another bucket which is exercise. This is what people are talking about. Like, when you see stock photography about exercise, you see people on cardio machines or jogging or doing that kind of stuff or if you listen to the nonsense that’s spouted to children in grade schools on the backs of cereal boxes — Frosted Flakes tells you to go be more active so that you can eat more Frosted Flakes — that’s the nonsense we need to get away from because you’re right — the more active you are, the more Frosted Flakes you’re going to want to eat because that’s what that type of movement triggers.
Now, there’s a third bucket which is called smarter exercise. Smarter exercise is specifically designed and it’s a very modern proven science of activating as much of your muscle fibers as you can as safely as you can because doing that specifically causes a radically powerful hormonal change in your body. It’s almost like you are taking in a dose of healing hormones when you exercise intelligently. Exercise is very, very different. The types of hormones that are released when you jog for two hours are very different than the hormones that are released when you exercise intelligently. They’re very different. These hormones that are released after you jog for two hours can actually promote fat gain. The hormones that are released when you exercise intensely and safely for short periods of time intelligently yield fat loss. They trigger all the anabolic cascade which does a bunch of miraculous stuff which you can learn much more about in your Ignite Program.
The key thing that this individual is asking about is what’s called an exercise identity which is, if we’ve been told — and we have been told for the past forty years that we just need to move more and we need to exercise more — that we can start to identify ourselves as people who do go to the gym. “I’m an exerciser. I like exercising. If I don’t exercise, I feel bad.” Hey, this is really, really important because exercise has another big benefit — big benefit — and that’s the psychological benefit of exercise. The psychological benefit of exercise — and the wonderful Dr. John Ratey over at the Harvard Medical School whom I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to collaborate with heavily; he provided a wonderful blurb in The Calorie Myth book; he’s one of the pioneers in this research area where they’ve done clinical trials where they’ll have people exercise, they’ll have people take an SSRI or an antidepressant medication and they’ll find that exercise has similar, if not better, results on the psychological state.
If you have an exercise identity or if you love exercising or going to the gym five/six days a week or just jogging outside with friends five/six days a week makes you happy and healthy, nobody here or in your SANE Ignite family is going to tell you to stop doing something that is making you feel great. If you have that exercise identity, we’re not telling you, “Spend your willpower fighting the urge to exercise.” That is not the message and I’m so sorry if that message has ever come across. Please let me know of it if it does because we want to squash that. I want to squash that. We want to focus on the positive. So if exercise helps you feel better and helps you deal with psychological things, here’s my recommendation. Focus on, if possible, restorative forms of exercise.
Instead of going to the gym and beating yourself up, which when you think about it, it’s kind of what some of this exercise is. You think of it as this violent, this high-impact punching movement that are shocks on your body — it’s a little bit like it’s beating you up and it’s almost like it’s punishing you. I do want to avoid that mindset. We don’t need to beat ourselves into submission. I feel like a lot of the messaging out there in the media is kind of telling us to do that. It’s a little bit like you need to go to the gym and pay your penance. You need to go get punished in the gym. The language of exercise in a lot of ways is very punitive. Again, we don’t want that. We want to see exercise as healing. You’re never going to walk into a yoga class and people are like drill sergeant style; it’s not like that.
Don’t punish yourself but if you have that exercise identity, just understand that there are very different modalities of exercise for different goals. The type of exercise that we are talking about here — the one that is just being a person or restorative activities such as Pilates and yoga — these are things that the more that you do, the healthier you will be. On the other end of the spectrum, there are things — safe, slow, high-intensity resistance training as well as safe interval training. These trigger a very specific hormonal response that is going to help heal you metabolically and they are going to damage your muscle tissue in a positive way so that you can’t do them frequently. If you have an exercise identity and you want to go to the gym or you want to do these things as a way to blow off stress, do that but please just understand that what those activities are doing for you is they’re helping you psychologically; they’re not helping you metabolically. That’s okay. That’s okay.
It doesn’t matter if you lose ten pounds of fat if you’re miserable and depressed. I promise you it doesn’t. We’ve got to be sane up here before being SANE in general matters. Just keep in mind that — my sister’s a great example of this. She loves to exercise as a way of blowing off stress and she knows that the exercise she’s doing does it and this is really important. This is really important. When she does exercise to blow off stress which is not in the restorative category and not in the smarter category, she doesn’t then say to herself — her name is Patty — she doesn’t say, “Hey Patty, you’ve exercised today so let’s go get some ice cream.” We do that. We totally do that. I know I’ve done that before. So if you’re doing exercise for stress relief or because you have an exercise identity, that’s fine but please see that exercise as its own reward. Doing the exercise is its own reward; it’s not a get-out-of-jail-free card to then go eat inSANE food. That’s the only caution I’ll provide there.
If you haven’t tried restorative exercise, please give it a shot. Yoga, meditation, Pilates — these things — you know what I’m talking about. There’s exercise that’s a bam-bam-bam and then there’s exercises like “Ah, this kind of exercise is…” Try that. It’s also very good at stress reduction and it won’t cause cravings and it won’t cause this mental discounting which can yield inSANE eating and make you feel like, “Oh, I exercised so now I get to be bad.” That’s something you want to try to avoid. Hopefully, that is helpful. Again, please, if it helps you, do it. We’re all here to help each other so don’t ever let yourself feel like you are failing or doing something wrong if it’s helping you to feel better long term. Hopefully, that is helpful and makes sense.
One really important point to clarify — because this has come up a couple of times — is the difference between when we talk about smarter exercise over here, the difference between the high intensity smarter interval training and eccentric exercise, because they’re not the same thing. High-intensity interval training, you’ve probably heard about, and it is the idea that you get on like a cardio machine or you go outside and you walk for a little bit and then you sprint and then you walk for a little bit and then you sprint. Let’s abstract that a little bit. Traditional high-intensity interval training is, you do an activity slowly and then you do it really fast and then you do it slowly and then you do it really fast.
There’s good parts of that and bad parts of that. The good part is that when you do a movement faster, the reason it’s happening faster is because your muscle is exerting more force so the difference between walking and sprinting biomechanically, among other things, is the force with which your leg hits the ground. To propel yourself forward in a sprint, your leg is smashing into the ground to thrust you forward. So when you do a movement faster, you’re doing it faster because your muscles are generating more force. It’s good to have your muscles generating more force. It’s bad for that force to be generated by it smashing harder against the concrete. It’s also unfortunate if the way that additional force is generated is through increased speed because the faster we move, the more likely it is if we are to get hurt. There’s a reason that you don’t drive sixty-five miles an hour in a school zone. Speed limit is lower because the faster you drive, the more likely it is that something is to go wrong. Same thing applies to your body. The faster your body moves, the more likely you are to get injured.
The good thing about high-intensity interval training is it has high-intensity intervals. You can’t do high intensity for a long period of time. You can’t sprint for an hour; it just doesn’t happen. If you do something at high intensity, intensity is inversely related to the quantity of it you can do. The more intensity, the less you can do of it. But the problem with high-intensity interval training is it is more impactful and it is more risky than just walking. I think we can all agree on that, right? Walking and then sprinting, walking and then sprinting. So you’re on concrete stadium steps, sprinting up those, you fall, you’re in bad shape. If you’re just walking slowly and you fall, you might want to catch yourself.
With smarter interval training, what we do is we say, “How do we take the benefits of high-intensity interval training and we reduce the risk dramatically?” The way we do that is by say, getting on a stationary bike — the type that looks like a regular bike; not a recliner — and instead of pedaling faster, we pedal at a casual speed and then we crank the resistance up like going up a hill, then we stand up on the bike and we’re pushing down on the pedals and we do that for about thirty seconds. Our muscles are generating a huge amount of force but they’re not moving quickly. We haven’t increased the impact on our joints so we get the benefit of increased intensity doing cardio exercises but without any of the risk. That’s smarter interval training.
Smarter interval training is saying, How do we go at a low level of intensity and then a short period of high intensity without increasing risk and without increasing impact? It’s really important. Exercise is counterproductive if it hurts you. I think we can all agree. If you exercise really well for six months and then you fall and break both your legs, you’re going to be in a worse shape six months later than if you never exercised so you do not want to get injured. You want to avoid injury as priority number one. Smarter interval training is a way to do cardio-type exercises that gets the benefit of intensity without the risk generally associated with intensity.
Eccentric exercise is similar. So with cardio, we’re saying, How do we do cardio smarter? That’s smarter interval training. How do we do resistance training, a.k.a. weightlifting, smarter? That’s eccentric training. You cannot do eccentric training on a cardio machine. Smarter cardio is smarter interval training. Smarter resistance training is called eccentric training and that is just saying, How can we produce the most intensity possible resistance training with minimizing risk? The way we do that is by focusing on the lowering portion of an exercise. For example, if you’re doing a bicep curl, traditionally you focus on the contraction or the concentric motion; we would be focusing on extending the muscle up.
We don’t have time to cover that in detail here on the call. Trying to explain how to do exercises without being able to demonstrate them is not the easiest thing in the world to do but there’s plenty of videos in your step-by-step program so please check those out. Please just understand that smarter interval training is the smart version of cardio and eccentric exercise is the smart version of resistance training. They’re two different things and their goal is, again, both of them is to increase intensity to get that benefit while minimizing risk, which is great; which is really, really great. Keep that in mind.
Then the last thing that I wanted to cover today is — I know it came up in the support group — has to do with measurements and measuring. We all know that we’re not supposed to weigh ourselves because the scale actually rewards starvation dieting; it rewards cannibalizing muscle tissue. Believe it or not, there are things you can do that will actually severely damage your metabolism which, doing them will make the scale happy. There’s no question that contestants on The Biggest Loser lose weight. No one is saying they don’t lose weight.
What we are saying and what The New York Times has now published and what myriad scientific studies have shown — my own personal experience working with Biggest Loser alumni have shown — is that it’s great that they temporarily lose weight on the show but if doing that breaks their metabolism, one, two, three, four, five years later, they’re in a worse off position, that’s no good. We don’t want to use the scale ever to measure our success because the scale will not measure SANE success; it will measure inSANE success. Please don’t use the scale.
What is often suggested, instead of using the scale, is using a measuring tape. It only costs ninety-nine cents. When you measure your abdomen specifically, that’s also beneficial because visceral or the belly fat is a health concern. Your weight is not so much a health concern. It can be but being underweight is actually, you’re at a higher likelihood of all-cause mortality than being overweight and it’s possible to be overweight and to be very, very healthy. You can be overweight and extremely healthy. In fact, the family member who wrote in earlier about she’s six months in and her measurements aren’t where she wants to be but everything else about her life is getting better and better and better, chances are, she is extremely healthy and her body is just slowly adapting and burning off that excess body fat. That’s going to take some time. That’s going to take some time.
Here’s the beautiful thing about not using the scale. When we use the measuring tape, it is going to take a look at visceral fat — fat on our belly. Fat on our belly is an independent risk factor for all sorts of badness so while it is possible to be overweight and healthy, it is not possible to have a lot of fat on your belly and be healthy because that fat is right where all your organs are; it’s causing problems; it’s causing gut dysbiosis — that’s something you want to try to avoid. Now, the challenge we’re hearing about the measuring tape for some individuals — first of all, there’s a risk that you measure too frequently. I think we all know that different times a day, different times a month, our body size changes. It has nothing to do with how we’re eating; it just changes. It could be due to stress; it could be due to all sorts of things. So if we measure too frequently, we could get whacky numbers.
The other challenge with a measuring tape is consistent measurements. If you measure one area around your waist and then you slide the measuring tape accidentally down two inches or up two inches four weeks later and you measure again, you get totally different numbers. You’re like, “Hey, I’m doing great” or “I’m doing terrible” and really you’re just measuring inconsistently. It’s not your fault because, barring using a Sharpie marker and marking the section — and you actually need to mark with a Sharpie marker, saying, “That’s not a bad idea. Honey, get the Sharpie marker.” You’d have to get a Sharpie marker and you’d have to draw all the way around your body because you want to make sure the measuring tape is not just even at the front and then all catawampus around the back. You’d want to wrap it around the full way.
Some of the questions, “How do I measure? How do I measure consistently? How frequently should I measure?” Here’s a great simplifier if you want because with a measuring tape, again, there’s still that risk for error. It is not fun to sit there with a measuring tape. That’s not fun. What is fun and what is a lot easier to keep consistent is picking out a dress or picking out a pair of pants or picking out a skirt or picking out a suit jacket — something that doesn’t shrink, something that doesn’t stretch. Pick one that is one size, two sizes smaller than what you’re currently at. Use that as your measuring tape. Why? Don’t wash it; don’t stretch it; don’t change it in any way. If you’ve got a pair of jeans, every time you put those pair of jeans on, it’s really easy to put them on consistently.
Blow up your scale — we talked about that in a previous call; maybe just put the measuring tape back in the toolkit — you can use that for your home construction projects. Treat yourself to a pair of jeans or a pair of pants or dress or suit jacket — something that doesn’t shrink and something that is one or two sizes too small. Try that on once a month. No more than once a month. No more than once a month because I don’t want those natural fluctuations to discourage you. Then you don’t have to worry about, “Am I measuring the same place? Am I doing this?” And you get to have a little visual reminder — “I’m going to rock those pants. I’m going to rock those jeans. I’m going to rock that dress. I’m going to rock that jacket.”
That way, it’s going to fit consistently; it’s going to simplify your life; and it’s going to give you something to look forward to. I promise you that as you stay SANE over the coming months — because remember, we’re doing this for the long term — rock that with pride. Maybe take a picture and say, “Hey, this is my goal dress” or “These are my goal jeans” or “This is my goal jacket.” As soon as you fit into those, you reward yourself by going and grabbing another one one or two sizes smaller and that way, you can get consistent measurements super easily and motivation and you can stimulate the economy. It’s a win-win.
Just one last thing that I wanted to cover this week is a personal story, if you don’t mind. I recently needed to go — I wasn’t around last week for our group coaching call, which I apologize for — but I am here now and we’ll have a couple in a row, which is going to be really, really fun. I needed to go visit my family in Ohio. My folks are getting a little bit older and needed to address some things there but things are back on track so that is all good, thanks to SANEity. That’s been very, very helpful with medical conditions and health. What had happened is, I was supposed to fly out on Saturday morning very early. My flight was at 5:35 am. I’m in the cab at 3 because I live fairly far away from the airport.
I’m in the cab at 3 and I generally don’t check my phone or email at 3:00 in the morning for obvious reasons. But something told me, “Check your email.” I check my email. You may have seen in the news, Southwest Airlines’ computer system — that’s what happened at the beginning of this call. The same thing that broke Southwest’s computer systems broke our coaching call. There you go. We’ll fix it. So Southwest sends me an email an hour before, like at 2 am, for a 5:35 am flight saying, “Flight’s canceled.” That’s like it. “Call this 800 number.” I call the 800 number. It said, “We’re closed.” So I’m in the cab, I had the cab turn around, and I then get on the phone with Southwest for two hours. Can’t get on a flight Saturday; can’t get on a flight Sunday; had to fly out on Monday.
Here is the point of the story. The point of the story is, I wake up on Monday morning, I go to look at my flight online at Southwest because I know I need to go see my parents and I wasn’t able to get there on Saturday, which I needed to, but you make the best situation you can. I immediately wake up, I immediately go to Southwest.com, I immediately check on my flight, and I see that I am in. I do my thing and I’m in boarding position B60 or something. If you’ve ever flown Southwest, you know they have open seating. If you’re not in the boarding group and if you’re in the boarding group B60, that means you’re going to sit in an aisle seat — excuse me, you’re going to sit in a middle seat in the back of the plane. I was never so happy to be boarding position middle seat, back of the plane than I was at 3:00 in the morning on Monday morning simply because my previous flight had been canceled.
Why am I telling you this story? The reason I’m telling you this story is that something which otherwise I would’ve perceived always as a negative — “Oh my gosh, I have to sit in a middle seat on a flight for six and a half hours. Oh, this is going to be terrible.” That would be my normal perception. I saw that exact same scenario as a huge blessing. “Oh, thank you, God. I’m going to be able to finally get on the plane and make it down to see my parents because we need to take care of some things.” The same exact situation happened but because two days prior, the flight was straight-up canceled, I saw middle seat, back of the plane as a blessing when I would traditionally see it as a curse.
Why am I bringing this up? The reason I’m bringing this up is because of the contrast principle. Maybe write this down because it’s extremely important. If we look back to the beginning of our call today, we talked about our satisfactions and our view of ourselves and our progress. Our perception of progress is in huge part a function of our expectations and contrast. For my flight, when my contrast is boarding position A1 is what should happen and I’m boarding group B60, I am mad and I’m sad and I’m angry and I am depressed. Not depressed but — you know? But my position of contrast is your flight is canceled and you’re stranded, position B60 is a blessing.
When we can have an accurate understanding of what science actually shows is reasonable for us to expect in the future, what we might perceive initially as a bad boarding group, we might realize, “Hey, we’re on the plane and we’re getting where we want to go.” No more canceled flights, no more moving backwards. We might be in the middle seat at the back of the plane temporarily because here’s the crazy thing — this is what happened to me and this metaphor hopefully makes sense — I had a connection in Chicago. The connection in Chicago was on the same plane so the connection in Chicago — ninety percent of the people got off. The people who stayed on the plane got to move to the front of the plane. I’ve never sat in the front row on a Southwest flight forever — the first time I got to do that.
Metaphorically, first of all, you’re in the SANE Ignite Program — thank you. You’re here. You’re on the plane. You might be just getting started; you might be six months in; you might still feel like you’re in boarding position B60; but you’re on the plane. I promise you that if you stay on the plane, eventually you’re going to move up, you’re going to move up, and you will get to your destination. There’s no way you can’t. You’ve got science on your side. You’ve got your SANE-certified coaches on your side. You’ve got all your family members on your side. I promise you, we’re going to do everything we can to get you to your destination and fly our friendly skies and no flights are going to get canceled. Even if we have catawampus crazy tech issues, we’re going to have two windows open simultaneously and we’re still going to make the group coaching call take place because we are going to make this work together.
Hopefully, you’ve got some wonderful notes and you’ve got some wonderful action items to take away and you’re on the plane and we are soaring at 30,000 feet. You can get around and walk about the cabin. The seatbelt sign has been taken off. Please walk over metaphorically to the SANE Coaching and Support Group. We are going to have another call next week and all the tech gremlins are going to be gone and it’s going to be awesome and thank you so much for bearing with the tech gremlins. Oh my goodness, thank you again. It’s a blessing to be here with you. We’re going to rock and roll. I will see you next week. Keep an eye on your inbox. I’ll send out where the recording of this is going to be as well as information on how to book up for the next group coaching call. We’ll make it happen. Thank you so much for your patience. I will see you next week.