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Ruth Horrell: Food Diaries & Philosophies of an Elite CrossFit Athlete


The above video is 3:15 minutes long.

WATCH the full interview below or LISTEN to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.

Guy: Whether you are an elite athlete, weekend warrior or even a coach potato, there’s much wisdom to be had here when it comes to fuelling your body daily for optimum performance. With so much conflicting advice out there when it comes to nutrition, who better person to ask than someone who walks their talk. Elite CrossFit athlete, Ruth Anderson Horrell shares her insights around nutrition daily and also during competition time. No matter what your goals are, it’s certainly worth a few minutes of your time… Enjoy.

Ruth Anderson Horrell
 

“Never say, ‘can’t’… The word just makes me cringe and it is such a negative thought to ever think that you can’t do something. You may not be able to yet, or whatever it is, but if you decide you can’t, it’s like you’re already there.”― Ruth Anderson Horrell, Elite Crossfit Athlete

 
Ruth Anderson Horrell is a New Zealand representative CrossFit Athlete. She has represented the Australasia region at the World Reebok CrossFit Games in 2011, 2012 and 2013! Ruth competes for NZ as an Olympic Weightlifter. In 2012 she competed at the Oceania and Trans Tasman Champs. Ruth is a successful co-owner and coach at CrossFit Wild South and works as a Locum small animal veterinarian when she has time :)Currently she is training towards being Australia’s best female CrossFit athlete. She trains in Los Angeles under the instruction of Dusty Hyland for parts of the year.

Ruth Anderson Horrell Full Interview:

In This Episode:

Listen to Stitcher

  • Itunes logoHow she walks the fine-line between optimum training and overtraining
  • Her recovery strategies
  • Her own exercise routines
  • What CrossFit Regional Games looked like 8 years ago!
  • The advice she would give her 20 year old self when starting CrossFit
  • Her supplement regime
  • The changes she’s made to become a better athlete
  • And much much more…

Get More Of Ruth Anderson Horrell:

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Full Transcript

Guy:Hey this Guy Lawrence from 180 Nutrition, and welcome to today’s health session. You’ll have to forgive me, it’s nearly 40 degrees Celsius in this room; it is hot. That’s okay, lets push on with the intro. Today’s guest is Ruth Anderson Horrel. She is an incredible athlete, as far as I’m concerned. She’s a Crossfit athlete, if you’re not familiar with her, and she’s been to the Crossfit world games three times. I can assure you now, that is a hell of an achievement. She has a wealth of experience when it comes to exercise, nutrition, and recovery, and I think the one intention was today, whether you’re into Crossfit or not, we really wanted to tap into Ruth’s experience, and wisdom, and hopefully get a few gems across to pick up for everyone, ’cause I think there’s certainly a theme that’s coming across in the podcast, and the way people approach their diet, whether they’re at the elite end of athleticism, or not. 

Whether you just move daily and just trying to drop a bit of weight, there’s always some fantastic lessons to be learned from some of the best people that we can get hold of, that’s for sure. The other thing I’d encourage to do as well, is actually follow Ruth on Instagram, and then you’ll start to see what I mean by what her athletic abilities are, and what she is capable of.

Now, I haven’t asked for a review for a while, but I will. We had a fantastic review on iTunes come in the other day. I always ask for them because they obviously help with the rankings, but other people read them as well, and it’ll encourage them to listen to the podcast, so if you’re getting great befits from listening to my podcast every week when we push them out, then it takes two minutes if you could leave a review. The one we had just the other day says, “my favorite podcast by far,” with 5 stars, that was very generous, by [chinlo 00:01:47]. “Thank you, Guy and Stu for hours of learning. My favorite thing to do is listen to your podcast while going for a nice, long walk. I’ve listened to most of them twice or more. I never tire of your fantastic hosting, A-grade guests, [00:02:00] and the wonderful insights your podcasts bring.” I thought that was absolutely wonderful, so thank you for that, and hence why I gave you a shout out.

We read them all. Tell us how you listen to our podcast. I’d be fascinated to hear because we’re in, I think over 50 countries now, getting downloaded anyway, which is really cool. All right. I’m going to stop blabbering. Let’s go over to Ruth Anderson Horrel. Enjoy.

Hi, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart [Cooke 00:02:27]. Hi, Stu.

Stu:Hello, mate.

Guy:Good to see you. You’re looking well, mate.

Stu:As always.

Guy:Our lovely guest today is Ruth Anderson Horrel. Welcome, Ruth. 

Ruth:Hi, Guy.

Guy:I just realized, did I pronounce your last name correct?

Ruth:Yeah, that’s good. Yeah.

Guy:Okay. I always get confused slightly on that. You’re not the first guest, either. I have no doubt they’ll be two parties listening in on this podcast today. That’s going to be one that’s going to know [inaudible 00:02:55] is, and who you are and Crossfit fanatics, and then I think a big portion of our listeners, as well. They will have heard of Crossfit, but are not going to have any idea. I think hopefully we can, between us all, please both parties today. That’s our intention, anyway, and tap into some of your experience over the years, which we’re excited about.

Just to start and get the ball rolling, as always on our podcasts, can you just mind sharing a little bit about what you do, including Crossfit and outside of Crossfit as well? I know there’s a lot more to you than just going to Crossfit every day and training your heart out, really, isn’t it?

Ruth:Yeah, yeah. Well, that’s a big part of it. It’s a pretty big goal for the last few years has been competing at the Crossfit games and doing well there. In the meantime, on the Crossfit journey, I ended up opening a Crossfit gym about 5 years ago also. That’s been steadily growing and keeping us busy. That’s been a whole new experience for me, just learning how to run [00:04:00] that business. I also run a website, ruthless.co.nz, where we sell Crossfit equipment and accessories and things. That’s normally a few hours of my day, as well. Then I’m a small animal veterinarian and I’ve been doing that for 2 days a week for the last … I’ve been fairly part time, actually with it, probably for the last 3-4 years, so that I can focus on my training. Yeah.

Guy:Many balls in the air.

Stu:Busy. Crikey.

Guy:Can you share with the listeners where you are, as well? It’s a part of the world that I really want to go to.

Ruth:Yeah, yeah. It would be a bit of a temperature drop for you guys. I’m in Invercargill, which is right on the south coast of the South Island in New Zealand. We were the southern-most affiliate. I haven’t actually done a check lately, but we’re pretty south as far as Crossfit gyms and population, generally, I guess.

Guy:Yeah, yeah, yeah. What’s the weather like there now. Is it all right? Not too cold?

Ruth:Well yeah, it’s our summer, but we’re sitting early 20s today. At most over the summer, we’ll hit 30 degrees probably only a few times. It’s not a huge variation. 

Stu:Comfortable. That’s what I like, cool and comfortable, doesn’t keep you awake at nights like last night.

Ruth:No, definitely not. No, no. No trouble sleeping. The room’s always fairly cool.

Stu:Good. Good on you. For our audience that are not Crossfit savvy, and for anybody else who really doesn’t entirely understand what Crossfit is, I wondered if you could just explain? Give us your elevator pitch. What is Crossfit?

Ruth:As Greg Glassman always says, [00:06:00] “I’ll show you. Come and have a go.”

Stu:Yes.

Guy:I’ve never been there, but you’ve explained it.

Ruth:It is a really tough question. It’s actually funny. We were sitting around at the Queenstown Crossfit Tour and there was a bunch of all these elite athletes at a table. The waiter came around and said, “So what is Crossfit?” Everyone looked at each other. It was like, “Who’s going to answer it?” You’ve got people that have literally based their life around it and still have trouble explaining well how it works.

It’s a strengthening conditioning program. It’s constantly varied, so people that train Crossfit style, every day they go into the gym, they’ll be able to try new things that there will be either a variation of movement, variation of weights, variation of complexity, and a variation of time that they’re going to work out. A huge range of energy systems get used because it scopes literally from workouts that can take seconds to workouts that can take probably around an hour or so. There’s a few that go a bit longer. 

For me, it’s a sport. For most people, it’s a way of just maintaining health and fitness. For me, it’s become a sport and it creates a slightly different level, I guess, a different level of complexity in terms of movements and weights and everything else.

Stu:Great.

Guy:Good answer. That’s good, yeah. It’s constantly varied.

Ruth:It’s different. The movements are very much preparing people for everyday life. That’s probably the thing I love most about it. I’m training an older lady at the moment who’s preparing to walk one of the big, there’s [00:08:00] lots of beautiful walks in New Zealand, and she’s 65 and she’s preparing to walk a trek that’s about 60 kilometers with a pick. We know that we can get her ready for that.

Stu:Fantastic.

Guy:What is the diversity of people that you train, then? I think with Crossfit, if you’re on the outside looking in, it’s very easy to say, “Oh, that’s an elitist thing,” because the guys are generally pro videos, the guys that are really good at it. You don’t see the other side of it.

Ruth:Yeah, for sure. In our gym, the oldest person is actually my dad and he’s about to turn 70, but there would be no reason we couldn’t have older people. That’s just as old as we currently go. In terms of the youngest, well, we’ve got Crossfit kids and teens at our gym, so those kids are learning body weight movements and things from age 6. There’s a pretty huge range there, and then of course you get that huge range in how much sport people have previously done and also just what they do in their everyday life. We have people that have relatively sedentary jobs and in our box we also have a lot of people that are laborers or mechanics, builders, gardeners, that do a lot of physical work. It’s important for them to either reverse some of those effects of some of the quite repetitive movements that they’re doing and address some of the mobility problems and things that may come from that, and also just so they can be stronger and reduce the chance of getting injured while they’re lifting heavy objects and things they do at work.

Guy:Yeah. I’d imagine you’ve seen quite a few transformations all the time, as well, with people coming in [00:10:00] and following the protocol all the way through and seeing how that impacts their lives.

Ruth:Yeah. It’s really cool when people that they haven’t done a lot of exercise before, they’re the most scared. They’re the most apprehensive at walking in the door, but in many ways, they’re the most exciting people to train because you’ve got a little bit of a blank canvas and you know you can really make a difference by coaching these people in movement and having a better way of life.

Guy:I’d just say anyone listening to this who hasn’t tried Crossfit, they should put it on their bucket list and at least walk into a box and try it once and see what all the fuss is about. I recommend you.

Ruth:Yeah, absolutely. I think …

Stu:I’m thinking about just common issues, Ruth, as well. If I’m new to Crossfit, I’m going in, what do you typically see from people that walk into your box, because we’ve experienced it ourselves, Guy and myself, and we were voracious when we started. We probably hit it a little bit too hard, personally. What are commonalities that you see with the newbies?

Ruth:Yeah, I guess that wanting to have the more advanced movements before having the basic elements.

Stu:Yeah.

Ruth:That’s cool. You’ve got to have a goal and a dream. I know when I first discovered Crossfit, there was much less on the internet about it than there is now, but I remember seeing videos of people doing … Girls were the biggest thing, not guys, of seeing women do things like muscle ups and lift weights over their heads and things like that. That was what inspired me to get started with it. I didn’t have a box to walk in the door of, but [00:12:00] that’s what inspired me to get started. You know that people need to have those dreams, but just not paying attention to the basic movements first before, “But can I get up and just hit it a go? I just want to jump in those rings and I just want to do this and that and swing around.” They’re just not quite grasping some of the complexity and the amount of elements that needs to be tied in. 

That’s just the learning process. A lot of that is our job as coaches, to help people see, “Well, okay. Well, there’s some deficiencies here and here, and if we work on those parts, then we’re going to get this mastered.” Then I guess just not paying any attention to their own recovery or mobility. I’d probably put those 2 together. Just trying to get in the gym right when class starts and get straight into the workout and just not paying any attention to some of the things that they need to do to get their body well-prepped. We coach people into generally trying to come 15-20 minutes before class. We still run a warm-up, but we want people to work on their own specific things that they need to address. 

I know for myself, I took way too long to start addressing my problems with my thoracic mobility, and basically because I just didn’t know any better and I didn’t have anyone to tell me any more than that. It ended up that I ended up having an injury when I was competing. I had slipped a disc at T-5, which is quite an unusual injury. That forced me to address it, but that’s neither something that you would want to happen to an athlete that’s coming into, for a strengthening conditioning program. They need to be aware of where those deficiencies are [00:14:00] and what they need to do to resolve them.

Guy:Yeah.

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Stu:Great. One of the take homes for me, from being a Crossfitter for a couple of years, was just the importance of my mobility and flexibility. That’s something that I do every day as well now. Just the realization that we really do need to get moving and stretch these muscles and open up the joints … Every day from sitting at a desk, I go over and I’ll go into a squat and just sit there for 5 minutes, roll my shoulders and just get, open myself up and just try and get in a few positions that ordinarily, most people would just never even conceive of wanting to try. It makes me feel so much more alive and open. Great lessons in there.

Ruth:I think range of motion has a huge impact just on our quality of life and when you see older people that just haven’t been able to maintain activity, just how quickly range of motion gets lost, and then strength goes with it. Yeah, that’s definitely … I’m still learning about range of motion and how things can be improved, really.

Guy:How long have you been involved in Crossfit, just out of curiosity, Ruth?

Ruth:I think about 8-1/2 years.

Guy:Right, and you’ve been in Invercargill that whole time? What made me think, is because you opened a box there 5 years ago. What were you doing before the box came?

Ruth:Yeah, we just started out. My brother-in-law was living down here at the time and he had been living in Melbourne. Someone had just showed it to him. I’m not even sure if he’d done a workout with these people. Some people just showed him the Crossfit.com website and he came back. He was taking me through some personal training. We were just doing some strengthening so I could [00:16:00] compete at a triathlon that I wanted to do. Yeah, we just decided to start following some workouts on Crossfit.com and things got wild pretty quickly. Within 4 months, I went out to the first-ever regionals, which was in … 

Guy:Cronulla?

Ruth:Yeah. Yeah. Is that eight years?

Guy:It’d be a while back, because I had a friend that competed in it. 

Ruth:Yeah.

Guy:Long time ago.

Ruth:Yeah, I went out to CFX there and that was just when you could roll up to regionals.

Stu:Wow.

Ruth:[crosstalk 00:16:57] since you had no idea what. We didn’t even really know what all the movements of Crossfit were at that stage. I was like, “Oh, okay. Clean and jerk. All right.” The judge is out back with each person, showing them all the movements that they’re going to need to do, a bit like a level 1.

Guy:That’s amazing.

Stu:That’s a radical change from any training that you would have been doing at the time, as a triathlete, as well, to then suddenly go into these wild and wacky Olympic lifts and technical movements. Wow. How did that work out?

Ruth:I did miss one of the workouts at the competition because I couldn’t do a ring dip, but I think I had captain pull ups by then, had no idea what a butterfly pull up was at that stage. We actually had a sand dune run, so I did really well on that and I think there was another workout I did quite well in. It was okay, but I know I did miss on 1 of the workouts, not being able to do a ring dip. I just couldn’t believe that there were girls there that could do ring dips. I was like, “Oh, my goodness.” The rings was totally, was not even something that I had, wasn’t a piece of equipment that we even had. We were playing. We didn’t even have a kettlebell, actually. We were swinging a dumbbell.

Guy:[00:18:00] Right.

Ruth:We did okay, probably as you would expect, but it really was an inspiring moment for me to realize the level that some of the athletes were at and that in some ways, I could see that I could be there.

Guy:That’s amazing, because Crossfit’s come such a long way. Like, when you look at the caliber of athlete today that you compete against, if anyone seemed again to walk into a regional games, it’s well and gone in Australia. Go and check it out for an hour. It’s phenomenal, the standard of athlete today. How many were competing at the time back then? Was it … 

Ruth:I’m going to say there might have been about 30-40 women, and probably the same for the men.

Guy:Okay.

Ruth:Yeah, so I imagine it was just advertised on the Crossfit.com website. Just clicked the link and registered, and all the sudden, I flew to Sydney and had a go.

Stu:Wow.

Guy:That’s awesome.

Ruth:I’ve been really fortunate, to be able to grow with the sport, I guess.

Guy:You have, yeah, fully. Absolutely. Move on to the next question, when you’ve talked, because we’re still on the topic of training, how do you, I’m always curious to ask athletes this, walk the fine line between optimum training and over-training?

Ruth:Yeah. I’ve definitely crossed the line before, so I know what that feels like. I’ve had to be aware of how to modify. I had quite a big hand surgery this time last year and I have had a few injuries along the way, so I’ve had to be aware of how to be patient with those and modify things as needed. I know my body. Generally, if I’m over-doing [00:20:00] it, I generally wake up very early in the morning. I never have too much trouble getting to sleep, but I have a little bit of trouble staying asleep. That’s normally the warning sign for me, if I’m not able to maintain my regular sleep pattern. There’s normally something amiss, because generally that won’t happen. As soon as something like that, if I become aware of that, then I’ll normally start throwing in some more rest days, beyond what my regular rest days are.

Guy:Right, yeah.

Ruth:I guess it’s a difficult thing. I feel like you probably need to cross the line to know exactly where it is, in some ways. You probably need to make a couple of errors to work it out.

Guy:Along the way, you learn from it. Yeah. You intuitively get in-tuned in. Maybe you should explain to everyone listening to this, as well, what a typical day of training might look like for you. We know coming into the season of Crossfit … You’ll be competing for the regionals, Auckland regionals this year, Ruth?

Ruth:Yeah.

Guy:Yeah. Some of the listeners might not know, you picked up an injury last year leading into the, was it the open or the regionals itself?

Ruth:Yeah, yeah, we were about 3 weeks out from the start of the open and my tendon on my thumb snapped. It was a little bit of, “Maybe I just don’t have the surgery and have a floppy thumb,” and then I decided I needed to get it done. That was a tricky decision because I’d obviously worked my butt off to come back and give it to Carson and go back to the Crossfit games and have a good shot. I felt like everything was falling well into place, so it was one of those stumbling blocks.

Guy:[00:22:00] Yeah, but a year comes around quickly. Here it is again, right?

Ruth:Yeah, yeah. Sorry, what was your question again?

Guy:We were talking about the fine line of over-training and recovery.

Ruth:Yeah.

Guy:Now we get into the season, just to give listeners an idea, what would your typical training day or week look like?

Ruth:At the moment, I’m generally doing 3 days on, 1 off. That varies a little bit throughout the year, but that’s currently what I’m sticking with. Today, for example, I’ve been in the gym and I’ve done a couple of hours of gymnastics training, working position, a very small amount of what I would consider conditioning, but for the most part, just working position and some of the movements that I find more challenging. I quite like to start my day with more technical elements like that, but I have a little bit of variation. Sometimes I will lift in the morning. Generally, I’ll try and get in at least an hour. It will depend on my coaching schedule, but at least an hour, possibly 2 before lunch and then in the afternoon, I will generally start an afternoon session with a good 90 minutes or so of lifting and then I’ll have a little break and then I’ll start having my conditioning.

[inaudible 00:23:25], so what people would commonly get if they go in for a class, and then I often end a session with some interval-style training. Yeah, that’s about it. It’s a bit broken up into little blocks, 60-90 minutes at a time, and give myself a bit of a break. The break might include getting in a personal training session with someone or getting some of my other business work done and then coming back to [00:24:00] training. I find it pretty hard to just hit a 3-hour block or something, of training. There has been times I’ve had to do it because of my schedule.

Guy:It’s a huge commitment, isn’t it?

Ruth:Yeah, yeah.

Stu:3 days on, 1 day off, so that 1 day that is going to be really, really important for you to rest and recover. I’m interested in the strategies. Are there any? What does a Crossfit champ do on the recovery day to absolutely maximize that day for everything?

Ruth:I need to do a lot of mobility work, so I try and get in, it will be an hour, and I try and do more if I can. Some of that, for me, it needs to include a bit of activation-type work as well, just to get my shoulders moving as best as they can and glute activation and making sure my hips are as mobile as possible. For me, that’s been important. Number 1, I’ll be 32 this year. I guess in the life of Crossfit athletes, it’s creeping up there at the end of staying at world-level competition. It’s just something I just have to make sure I’m really on top of the mobility side.

I used to do a bit more of things like having a jog, like doing a long run in the bush and things like that. I don’t do that every … I consider that more of a workout now. I try and have my rest days as being a bit more rest days. It will depend on my state of mind, I guess, as to whether I want to throw in some skill work at the same time, as well. If there’s something that is just technically challenging and not going to be over-fatiguing, [00:26:00] I might do that, as well. If I just feel like I’ve been at the gym so much over those last few days and would prefer to have a break, then I won’t.

Guy:How many hours sleep do you get a night, Ruth, normally?

Ruth:My target’s 9. 

Guy:There you are. Okay. Yeah. A good night’s sleep, right? I like it.

Ruth:Yeah, yeah. I probably hit 8 most of the time and try to get another 30 minutes in the afternoon. I love getting an afternoon nap. It just makes training in the afternoon go better and just feel so good. That’s my favorite thing, but just, life doesn’t always allow it.

Guy:Yeah.

Stu:That recovery day is wildly different to anything that I thought you were going to say. I imagined that you were going to say, “I’m going to sleep in, have a coffee, go down to the local video store, get my favorite movie, sit back on the lounge with my dog, and just veg out.” I didn’t expect to hear that …

Ruth:I wish. I wish, but no, I’ve got to run the businesses and do all those other things, so I probably have a bit more catch-up and try to get on top of the world as much as I can, emails and all that kind of stuff, have a real tidy-up so that it allows me more time on the training days.

Stu:Okay, okay.

Ruth:Yeah, yeah. I don’t … I’m not big on lying around too much. I like to get out of the house, mow my lawns, and I like to keep moving. Yeah. As you see, get in squat position and stuff while I’m weeding my garden.

Stu:I’ll write you a recovery program, Ruth, and see how that goes down for you: lots of movies and stuff like that. Guy touched on sleep there, as well, which obviously is critical for everybody, even more critical when you’re an elite athlete. Have you got any tips or tricks that have worked for you? Do you do anything in particular to get that solid sleep working for you?

Ruth:[00:28:00] Yeah. I don’t like bright light. I know I’ve stayed at some other people’s homes and I’ve found if their living rooms and things are really lit up, I find that quite buzzy. I just think they interfere.

Stu:Yeah.

Ruth:I try not to spend too much time watching TV or anything late at night. My room is really dark. I live right at the end of the street and there’s no street lights that affect my room. I’ve got proper blackout curtains and things. I typically don’t have any trouble. It’s cool, I should mention, but that’s just, that’s without air conditioning. It’s just the temperature is cool.

Stu:I could have done with that last night.

Ruth:It’s pretty good. I always take magnesium in the night time, and the amount will depend on if I’ve had a massive training day or have some with my dinner and some again just before I go to bed.

Stu:Any particular type of magnesium that works for you?

Ruth:I think it’s called diglycinate?

Stu:Yeah.

Ruth:Yeah. Is that right? It’s a powder drink that I make up. I find that fantastic.

Stu:Right. Got it.

Ruth:I just notice it, if I’ve missed it for a few days. I just feel like I’m missing it. It’s been a supplement I’ve taken for a long time.

Stu:Okay.

Guy:I’m interested, as well. You’re going to be pretty switched on with the nutrition. I know we’re going to get into that topic a bit later, but in terms of recovery, have you ever deviated from the way you eat, and how did that go on and affected your recovery? Have there been any kind of correlations that you’ve seen at that end?

Ruth:Yeah. I’ve had things like I’ve trained, a workout’s taken way longer than I expected. [00:30:00] I’ve literally got 10 minutes and I need to run a class, so I’m having a shower and then starting class. I totally skip having any post-workout nutrition. I’ve generally been more sore for that the next day. 

Guy:Right.

Stu:Right.

Ruth:I know that I need to get some carbohydrate and protein in after I train, and it does seem to be quite a difference if I haven’t got it in within 30 minutes of training. The next day’s always going to be tougher. Definitely just, life’s got in the way and I haven’t done things as I would have liked. I’ve known the difference for that.

Guy:Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, fantastic. Excellent. Now, do you have … I’m assuming you have coaches, as well, guiding you to the games. I’ve also noticed that you’ve gone to America for the last few times that you’ve competed prior to the games, as well. 

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Ruth:Yeah.

Guy:Why do you go to America, first of all? Yeah, beforehand.

Ruth:In our town, there wasn’t Crossfit. My first introduction to some high-class, quality coaches was when I met Dusty Holland at the gymnastics [cert 00:31:19] at the [Schwartz 00:31:23] Gym in Melbourne, about 4 years ago, I think. Met him and we became really good friends and I traveled out to him. I think I’ve had 6 trips out now to the states to spend good blocks of time with him. They also gave me an opportunity to train with some amazing athletes like [Sam Bricks 00:31:48] and Lindsay [Vellanzuella 00:31:51], [Tina Lee Brixton 00:31:52], some really, really amazing athletes out there. Initially, my gymnastics was my largest weakness [00:32:00] in my range of movements, so it seems like the perfect match. Dusty’s continued to program for me for a number of years now. We don’t chat as much as we would like to at the moment because we’re both really busy people, but he definitely helps guide me to making sure I’m working on some of the new movements that are coming into the sport and just continuing to develop my virtuosity in the more basic elements, as well.

I’ve also had a weightlifting coach here in Invercargill for a number of years, which has been fantastic, Joe [Stinsy 00:32:43]. He’s actually one of the New Zealand coaches now, as well. We traveled to Papua New Guinea and competed at the Oceaneas last year, did there as well.

Guy:Yeah, because I was going to ask, it requires so much discipline, what you’re doing leading up into the open and competing, so do you have a coach at every training session with you, or is a lot of it self disciplined, that you’re just literally just turning up and training, because it’s hard to ask. Some people, it’s hard to do a bit of exercising in a day, just to motivate themselves, let alone at that end.

Ruth:Yeah, yeah. I have some days where it is totally no one else at the gym, so they’re probably the more challenging days. I find even just having someone else there, whoever it might be, is just useful. In recent months, I’ve actually been grabbing some of the guys and saying, “Hey, I’ve got to do these 6Ks or row sprints. Do you want to join me on it,” things like that and just fun.

Guy:Do you get any takers?

Stu:Yeah.

Ruth:Yeah, I do. Yeah. I choose things that I like, totally, and they will help. They’re like, “Yeah, yeah. Okay. Take you on at that.” I’ve also had a bit of [00:34:00] the athletes partnering up and taking me on at a workout. They’re doing it as a partner would, thing like that. We try and find ways, but for the most part, no, I don’t have a coach hanging with me in the gym each day. That definitely has its down sides, but some part of me likes being at the bottom of the earth and away from too much hype. Probably one of the harder things of training at Dog Town with Dusty was, cameras would be showing up every second day and different people wanting to take videos and pictures and just a lot more people, just a lot more going on. 

In some ways, it gives me a little bit more focus. I do a lot of, what’s the word, visualizing, so even in my sessions this morning, which probably weren’t the type of things you would expect to see at a competition that were quite skill-based things, before the clock starts, I still am imagining I’m either on the games floor or I’m standing up there at regionals. I try and put myself in that mental space.

Stu:Do you use your visualization for stuff outside of Crossfit, as well, everyday life? I know that I always visualize the rock star car parking space when I’m out and about and I need to pull in somewhere, and 9 out of 10 times, I get it. It’s true.

Ruth:I have to think about that. I don’t know if I do as much.

Guy:You should try it. Stu recommends it. I do well at it because I’ve got a motorbike.

Ruth:I’m really good at parking anyway. No, I don’t know. I’ll have to think about that. I might subconsciously do it.

Stu:I reckon [00:36:00] that there’s merit in that stuff. I do, just all of that stuff. I’m just really into, “I’m thinking it, I’m seeing it, and I’m going to make it happen.

Guy:Yeah. It’s interesting what you said, Ruth. It made me think of a podcast I listen to with [Dorian Yates 00:36:18]. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Dorian Yates, but he was the bodybuilding world champion in the 90s. I think he won 7 titles and incredible. They used to call him The Shadow because he always used to stay out of the glitz and glamour of LA and the limelight. He had a little gym in Birmingham and nobody knew what he was up to. He said he used to use it to his advantage, so he would train, he would visualize going to all these great competitions where everyone else was seeing actually what they were doing and competing and judging themselves. He just stayed away from the whole thing and then would turn up when it was time for Mr. Universe and just blow them out of the water, you know?

Ruth:Sometimes, if you’re competing against another athlete and you’re actually, if you’re beating them by a lot, or say if you’re training with them and you’re beating them by a lot, you can think that you’re doing quite well and back off. Whereas if you’re visualizing someone that’s better than you or just beating you, then that’s, I see that as an advantage. I’m not going to lie. There’s definitely days when you’re all alone in the gym and you just think, “Gosh, this is a tough ask.”

Guy:Yeah, yeah.

Stu:It is tricky. I know that training on your own versus training with a crowd versus training with a crowd of elites, there is that impetus to absolutely excel and put on your best show. There are days when I go down and lift a few weights in the gym and I think, “Well, I’ve had enough. Nobody’s around. Nobody knows.”

Ruth:[00:38:00] I have probably ruined myself a little bit, training against some other athletes. I had a bit of a shoulder niggle, but I was still trying to do the workouts, because the other athletes were doing those, and they weren’t things I should have been doing, if I was just sticking to what was going to be good for me. I probably wouldn’t have done them. That’s probably one of the disadvantages, that you get a little bit hyped up in the moment and you want to do exactly what everyone else is doing, and that’s not always the right thing to do.

Stu:Yeah. Completely. Next time you’re in Sydney, you come train with me and I guarantee that won’t happen.

Ruth:I’d like to see that.

Stu:You’re wandering down the street in Invercargill and you bump into a 20-year-old version of yourself. Obviously, you’ve got 10 years of experience, all this wonderful knowledge that you’ve gleaned from everything that you’ve done. What advice would you give the 20-year-old version of yourself, if that person had just started Crossfit and wanted to be the best?

Ruth:This might just be the 20-year-old version of me, and not every other 20-year-old, but for me it would be spending more time mastering body weight movements with a fantastic coach that knows exactly how to do it, having a coach that was really well-versed in gymnastic movements. I think in gymnastics, there’s much more understanding, or in gymnastics coaching, there’s so much more understanding of the importance of getting correct range of motion. In my first year of Crossfit, I went down to the … We have a great gymnastics gym in this little [00:40:00] town. I went down there and this guy was … I wanted to do muscle ups and he was showing me how to walk across the parallel bars. I was just like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I can do that.” I would quickly do it to be like, “Yeah, I can do that. I want to do this,” and just not understanding just exactly the movements that my body needed to be doing to do those elements well and the importance of them.

Because I didn’t have those correct, one of the regionals I went to, it was 2010, I came back with a bad sprain in my shoulder, which was probably from doing muscle ups, which was probably from not moving correctly. For me, in the sport, it would definitely be mastering some of those elements and also playing. Do other sport, as well. I probably stopped doing other team sports and things by the time I was 20, I think, and I think playing some other sports is really good for you.

Guy:Yeah.

Stu:It’s solid advice, and it works for you, as well, Guy. I know that Guy has really embraced Zumba, and that’s 1 of those things. He’s quit good at table tennis, too.

Guy:Yeah, I mastered it. Mastered it.

Stu:Follow the advice, Guy. Follow the advice. We’re not getting any younger.

Guy:I actually had a profound question and then you’ve just taken this right out of my head.

Stu:My mum told me once that, if you forget it, it’s either it’s a lie, or it’s not worth asking.

Guy:It’s not worth it, yeah. Is Crossfit season on for you now, Ruth?

Ruth:Like, do I have an off-season?

Guy:Yeah?

Ruth:[00:42:00] I guess my off-season this year was 3 months in a cast, so yes. No, I do a little bit. My program’s a little bit period-ized, I guess. The conditioning goes right down. I do more strength-based and technical-based movement and then I bring it back up. That works quite well because it’s not nice to get out and run in the middle of winter here. It probably just gives me a little bit of a mental break from doing lots of high-intensity stuff. I have that little bit. I think probably after the Crossfit games this year, I would probably look to take 1-2 months off, but yeah. This last year was a bit of a … It was a little bit different.

Stu:All over the place.

Ruth:Yeah.

Guy:Just out of curiosity, how long is it until the open starts? Is that far away?

Ruth:It starts February 28.

Guy:Okay. 4-5 weeks?

Ruth:Yeah.

Stu:yeah, about 5 weeks away.

Ruth:Coming up.

Stu:I’d really like to delve in a little bit now, Ruth, just on nutrition.

Ruth:Yeah.

Stu:Again, a big part of who you are. Without it, I don’t think you’d be able to do half of what you do, if you’re not eating the right way. What right now does your typical daily diet look like? 

Ruth:I describe my diet as paleo. I guess the things that would be different from what people would consider paleo is that I’m okay with a bit of rice and I use a bit of Greek yogurt or kefir. For the most part, there’s a lot of vegetables and a good amount [00:44:00] of, I’m a big fan of lamb. We have awesome lamb in this country and seafoods, so plenty of that. I also am pretty in charge of my macro nutrients. I actually had a really great mentor, Brad Stark, who’s at Stark Training, which is out in Orange County. I’ve been working with him for a couple of years and he has just made the world of difference to the way that my body performs. He’s helped me work out, just in brief, is that I prefer to have quite a lot of fats with some proteins for the first part of the day and then we really delve into more carbohydrates with the protein towards the end of the day. It’s a little bit more calculated than that, but that’s probably for the most part, how it works.

If I have too much carbohydrate in the morning, I tend to crash out. I don’t do very well with fruit at all, so I don’t tend to eat it. I have a little bit of berries in smoothies and that’s as far as my fruit intake goes. I’m just not a real big fruit eater. It just doesn’t do well for me. I would literally, if I hit some fruit and then an hour later did a workout, I would be, my head would be spinning and I would just have this real crashing thing going on. Yeah, we played around a bit with that. 

Guy:Can I add to that?

Ruth:I love fresh vegetables.

Guy:Yeah. Just for our listeners, what carbs would you generally eat, and what carbs would you generally avoid?

Ruth:Yeah. My carbohydrate is mostly [00:46:00] rice or sweet potato.

Guy:Yeah.

Stu:Yeah.

Ruth:I have a little bit of white [inaudible 00:46:04] every now and then. I’m not too worried about that. I have worked out that gluten is horrible for me. I’ll occasionally have some gluten-free wraps and some other grain-based products that aren’t full of gluten. I’m okay with those, but I actually still, I never feel like it would get the same good muscle recovery that I get from having sweet potato post-workout. I’m okay with them for a treat, but I don’t treat them as great post-workout carb.

Guy:Yeah. Have you ever counted the amount of grams of carbohydrate you eat in a day, just out of curiosity, or not?

Ruth:It’s only about 180.

Guy:That’s a good number.

Stu:Yeah, that is a good number.

Guy:Yeah, no. I only ask because obviously, your workload is massive, right?

Ruth:Yeah.

Guy:A lot of people would be eating twice that amount of carbohydrates with 1/10 the amount of work you’re doing on a manageable, on a daily basis.

Ruth:Yeah. I know I’ve had some different nutritionists and things have a look at what I’m eating, and say, “No, that’s wrong. You need more carbohydrate.” I’ve just been there. We’ve tried it. It just doesn’t work.

Stu:That’s right. You’re your best judge, I think, of that just by how you feel and perform, based upon your feeling.

Guy:I remember when we, we actually showed you, a post of yours, Ruth. I don’t know if you remember a couple of years back, a dietitian came in there and just said, “You shouldn’t be pushing this content out to people because it’s just so wrong.”

Ruth:Yeah.

Guy:There’s a great thread of conversation going on there and [00:48:00] it’s like, the proof’s in the pudding. You walk and you talk.

Ruth:That’s interesting. Things that people say, or that, “you’re not getting enough fiber.” I’m eating 7 cups of vegetables a day. I’ve never had a problem and felt like I needed more fiber. Just unusual things that you just realize, it’s almost textbook stuff, and it’s like, what’s the point in having this textbook knowledge? You’ve got to actually have a go at … You eat the paleo diet and see if you don’t have enough fiber, because I just, I’ve never had anyone that I’ve coached in my gym get on the paleo diet and come back and say, “Man, no. My body just hated me because it was not enough fiber in my diet.”

Stu:Yeah.

Ruth:Just not something that happens.

Guy:Another question, because we did a talk the other week, a workshop in Wollongong, and the biggest hurdle we felt from talking to them is preparation. People love the idea of changing their diet, becoming more tuned-in, and being able to do it, but the reality is, more from what we see, is that people don’t prepare. Then they get caught up and they get all sorted and they don’t change their eating habits. Any tips? How do you do it?

Ruth:I’m a little bit of a, when I cook meat, I generally get the crockpot out. If I know I’m going to be home late, I’ll often have something already cooked in terms of the meat department, or I’ll cook a lot of bigger cuts of meat like roasts and things like that. There’s always some form of protein ready to go in the fridge. 

Guy:Right.

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Ruth:Then, I eat quite a lot of [00:50:00] salads like cabbage and kale and vegetables that don’t take very much to prepare. If I know I’m going to be, if I’m just crazy busy or grabbing something on the run, I’ll even buy just the pre-cut vegetables, the stuff that’s already sliced up and put in bags. I try not to do that. I try and just avoid plastic generally, but I think you’re better to do that than skipping the veggies all together. What else do I do?

Probably lunch is the time or mid-afternoon, where people fall down because they haven’t been prepared with lunch. I’m pretty fortunate because most of the time, I live a few blocks from the gym, so most of the days I come home and quickly prepare something. When I haven’t been enjoying that, I’ll either when I cook dinner, I will put enough aside for heat up leftovers the next day, or I will, as I’m preparing my breakfast, I will quickly prepare some lunch at the same time. I feel like, if you’ve got some kind of protein that works for you, whether it’s boiled eggs or whatever it might be, if it’s ready to go and you’ve always got a steady supply of just something ready in the fridge, then I think it just takes away your temptation. I don’t really get those temptations, but I’m just thinking about the athletes that I coach.

Stu:Yeah, it’s just easier, isn’t it?

Ruth:The temptation of … Yeah, it’s got to be easy. What you’re trying to do, you need to make it easier than going through the McDonald’s drive-through or whatever is your temptation.

Stu:Yes. Definitely. Does your nutrition change at all during competition, or is you just ramp it up even a bit more? Do you do anything any differently?

Ruth:[00:52:00] I do probably a bit more shakes then. If there’s a lot of workouts throughout the day, it’s hard for me to have as much vegetables as I would like, because I just can’t digest that quickly. I’ll just do more shakes.

Stu:Right. Okay.

Ruth:Yeah, that’s generally the main difference. Probably it works out, a bit more calories because there’s a few more post-workout meals.

Guy:Yeah, yeah.

Stu:Sure.

Guy:We might be biased, but we love encouraging the shakes and things.

Stu:We do.

Guy:It’s true, though. It’s true.

Stu:From a supplemental perspective, then, what supplements do you use? What and why? Obviously, you’re putting your body through heavy load, day after day after day. What are your favorites?

Ruth:Fish oil’s been here for a long time. I always take some of that. The turmeric capsules, I’ve been on. I’ve been on for a shorter while, been on those, just to help with my healing of my wrist surgery. I have a few amino acids that I take, and that’s based on the supplement protocol that Stark Training has guided me …

Guy:That’s individualize for you?

Ruth:Yeah. yeah, so it’s things like glycine and tuarine, things that are quite good to calm me down after I’ve trained and try and bring everything back to normal as quickly as possible.

Stu:Right.

Guy:Interesting, yeah. Magnesium as well, you were saying earlier.

Ruth:Magnesium, yeah. That’s about it. I haven’t got a cabinet full of supplements. I’m pretty big on vegetables as the answer.

Stu:That’s [00:54:00] right. Real food. Yeah.

Ruth:[crosstalk 00:54:07] The vegan protein, at the moment.

Guy:Okay, yeah. It’s interesting. We have conversations with people and they may never have heard of 180 before, and they’re like, “Oh, I’m sorry. I don’t take supplements.” I’m like, “Well, you’re our perfect customer, then.”

Stu:That’s right.

Guy:We don’t look at it as a supplement at all.

Ruth:Yeah, it’s totally how I feel. I just consider it another form of real food.

Guy:Yeah, fantastic. That’s great advice. What foods do you go out of your way to avoid?

Ruth:Anything with gluten. Cheese is bad; it just work well with me at all. Generally, a little bit of dairy, I seem to cope with, but I definitely wouldn’t go and buy a milkshake or have a large amount. As I said, yogurt seems to be okay. When I’m getting a bit more savvy with things like … I used to be like, If I order the chicken salad, for example, you think you’re going to get chicken and salad, but then you get this big sticky, weird oily sauce that they put on it and it’s really sweet or whatever. I’m getting a bit more savvy with just asking whether there’s a dressing and if there is, either having it left to the side so I can decide whether it’s safe enough to eat. If it’s going to be an olive oil dressing, that’s probably okay with me. Probably the biggest thing is keeping it gluten free because I had some pretty wild reactions to … I went to a wedding and had a cake a few months back and just had a terrible reaction to that. Just becoming a [00:56:00] bit more aware of …

Stu:That’s it. That’s really the main thing, as well, just being aware of that kind of stuff just switches on a light bulb when you are out and about, like you said. If you’re going to order a salad, I would guess there’s going to be a dressing there. Who knows what’s in that dressing. It may suit some people. It may not, but just be aware of it. We chatted, too, with [Chad McKay 00:56:28] a while back and talking to him about nutrition and stuff like that. He told us that after the regionals were over and he’d done the best that he could do, he has this cheat meal. I think it was a whole pizza and a whole tub of ice cream, something like that. That’s just my off switch. I’m done, I’m dusted, smash this meal down and get on. Do you have anything like that? Do you go nuts to zone out of everything with a cheat meal, or are you just clean all year round?

Ruth:I get this question a lot, and I always feel like I’m a little bit boring. I’m not really big on big desserts and things. I know after the Crossfit games, I’ve done some big donuts and things. I probably did it more for the novelty of it than the pure enjoyment. It literally felt like I was just eating solid sugar. I just found it a bit too much. Do you know cassava crisps?

Stu:Yes.

Ruth:yeah, I put those in my mouth and it’s like they dissolve on my tongue and then I have to have another one. They’re probably something that … If someone had some of those, I’m like, “Oh, no, don’t bring those near me,” because it’s literally like I have one and then just [00:58:00] immediately want to have another one. That’s probably the one food I can think of that I know is not good for me, but my body still wants to eat it.

Stu:It’s funny. It’s hardwired somewhere in there, isn’t it. I don’t get to New Zealand very often, but I used to live there. We lived there for 5 years and I stumbled upon … This was pre-my healthy days and pre-180, and stuff like that. I stumbled upon this chocolate chip cookie by a brand called Cookie Time, and they were huge. They’re huge. Every now and again, when I do end up in the country, I’ll head over to a New World and I just head for the Cookie Time aisle. [crosstalk 00:58:52] these things, and it’s like something is programming. Something is guiding me around. I’m on automatic pilot and I get this Cookie Time thing. I only need the one.

Guy:I need to get that shot in Instagram for everyone.

Stu:Cookie Time, it’s like the biggest chocolate chip cookie you could ever have.

Ruth:Yeah, they’re like this big.

Guy:Oh, really?

Stu:Oh, they’re huge.

Ruth:At least. People are like, you buy them. You can get them heated and stuff, as well, so all the chocolate’s all gooey and things, as well.

Stu:Yeah, I had a friend who used to put them in the microwave for 10 seconds.

Ruth:Yeah, yeah. Now, to me, probably I know that having the gluten and the sugar and stuff, that within a very short time, I’m going to feel very unwell from having it, so I just don’t have the same urge for it. If you showed up to my gym and you had some gluten free, very similar paleo-style cookies, I’d probably be pretty tempted because I know that I wasn’t going to be …

Stu:Got it. We’ll work on something for our recipe section on [01:00:00] the website. I reckon we’ve got a good base there already. We’ll see what we can do for you.

Ruth:Okay, sounds good.

Guy:That’s going to be awesome. Now, Ruth, I see the time’s getting on. We have a couple of wrap-up questions. We’ve actually asked one, which is “What did you eat?” Yeah, we’ve asked that.

Stu:We have.

Guy:What’s the single best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Ruth:My dad always says to me, “Never say, ‘can’t.’” Whenever I have someone in my gym now that tells me that they can’t, it makes me cringe. The word just makes me cringe and it is such a negative thought to ever think that you can’t do something. You may not be able to yet, or whatever it is, but if you decide you can’t, it’s like …

Guy:You’re already there.

Ruth:You’re already there.

Stu:That’s right. You’ve already switched off. No, that’s good advice. Wise words.

Guy:Fantastic.

Stu:That’s what we could say.

Guy:For anyone listening to this, if they want to get a bit more of Ruth Anderson Horrell, where is the best place to go? 

Ruth:I’m pretty consistent on Instagram, ruthlessnz, and I have a Facebook page, Ruth Anderson Horrell. That’s pretty much it.

Guy:You’ve got a website, too?

Ruth:Yeah, they can pop onto the website, ruthless.co.nz.

Guy:Awesome. We’ll link to the show notes, anyway, when this goes out and that was awesome. I have no doubt everyone listening to this today, Ruth, thoroughly enjoyed that. Ruth, thanks for coming on and thanks for your time. I really appreciate it.

Ruth:Thank you so much, Guy. It’s been fun.

Stu:Thanks, Ruth.

Check out our Ultimate Guide to Post Workout Recovery for CrossFit Here

Desk bound All Day? Why a Standing Desk Might Not Be the Answer. Try This Instead…

The above video is 3:49 minutes long.

Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.

Guy: Make no mistake, most of us have mastered the art of sitting! With today’s working lifestyle it’s very hard to get away from. So the big question is, are standing desks really the answer?

So who better to ask than movement specialist Keegan Smith. If you find yourself chained to a desk daily then this interview is for you!

Keegan Smith

“… If you don’t have time to move, it’s like not having time to eat, it’s like not having time to breathe; Movement is being human. Walking is being human. That’s who we are, that’s what we’re here for. If we don’t have time for that, what do we have time for?…” 
― Keegan Smith, The Real Movement Project

Keegan Smith is the founder of the Real MOVEMENT Project, which was born of a decade of research into what it takes to reach the highest levels of performance.

In Keegan’s own words; ‘Higher performance is contagious. As you attain new levels of performance and success you change the world around you. You become a coach for your family members, friends, team-mates and everyone who sees the standards you’re living to’.

His impressive resume includes; Strength & Conditioning coach for rugby league teams The Sydney Roosters and The London Broncos. He’s also coached world cup winning New Zealand all black Sonny Bill Williams and Australian Ironman champion Alastair Day.

Keegan Smith Full Interview: Building Your Best Body & Mind with Real Movement


In This Episode:

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  • How and why we need to move daily, and simply hitting the gym 3 times a week is not the answer
  • Why much of your own success lies within the company you keep
  • His own exercise routines
  • His journey from suffering chronic fatigue to greater health
  • Key things he did to help overcome chronic fatigue
  • Using limitations as a guide for actions
  • The future of performance – holistic -> mind, diet, community, self-respect, non-mechanical stress

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Full Transcript

Guy:Hey, this is Guy Lawrence from 180 Nutrition and welcome to today’s health session. Our first guest for 2016 is Keegan Smith. I [inaudible 00:00:12] thoroughly enjoy this podcast today. I don’t like talking up the guest too much; I like to leave the actual podcast interview to do the talking for us. I must say, Keegan has been a bit of an inspiration in my life recently and I’m sure long may that continue.

He is the founder of the Real MOVEMENT Project, which was born of a decade of research into what it takes to reach the highest levels of performance. He’s got a very impressive resume. He was the strength and conditioning coach at the Sydney Roosters, London Broncos. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re rugby league teams in the NRL. He’s worked with some amazing athletes including [Sonny Bill Williams 00:00:49], whose now gone on and become a world cup New Zealand all black legend, pretty much. He’s a big rugby league star, too. He recently worked with [Ali Day 00:00:58], whose an Ironman, Australian Ironman champion. 

Keegan’s own personal journey is phenomenal. He talks about the days of him when he was suffering from chronic fatigue and what he looked upon to make amends to that and how it’s led now into what is not the Real MOVEMENT Project, which we go into in depths but, essentially is becoming almost the best version of yourself. Using exercise movement, and food, and building a community around that, and hanging out with like-minded people to then take inspiration and draw that from everyday so, you can apply it in your life. 

As I’ve gotten to know Keegan like I said, he’s certainly made me think about the way I move daily. It’s inspired me to take on new challenges, literally as we speak. I genuinely think there’s something in this podcast for everyone. Whether you’re a fitness trainer and your fully into strength and conditioning, or not. You might go to the gym once a week but, it’ll certainly make you look at the way we approach our lives on the daily [00:02:00] basis. I got a lot out today and I’m sure you’re going to thoroughly enjoy. 

I will mention as well, we’ve got the clean eating video series, that’s coming up. They’re 3 videos that we’ve made available for free for you guys. You just need to go back to 180nutrition.com.au/clean. These videos are going to be available for 1 week only. It’s pretty much putting my [inaudible 00:02:26] sorts and philosophies, what we’ve learned from all this podcasting and working in the industry for the last 6 years into 3 bite size videos so, you can take action and make 2016 the best year as well. Why are we only making them available for 1 week? We want to create scarcity around it so you guys will take action, and sit down, and actually watch them, and then apply it. Anyway … They’re to recommend to family and friends, as well. That’s 180nutrition.com.au/clean. They will be available in the USA as well. Awesome. Let’s go over to Keegan Smith. 

Guy:Hi, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke, as always. Hey, Stu.

Stu:Hello, mate.

Guy:Our awesome guest today is Keegan Smith. Keegan welcome to the show.

Keegan:Good day guys. Thanks for having me on.

Guy:Yeah, mate. It’s been a long time coming, I reckon. I just wanted to start out as well, I’ve been following you on Instagram for quite a while now. Everyday, I see you juggling, doing backward flips, throwing a lot of weight round, walking the tightrope but, doing something that looks a lot of fun. I reckon it’s clear that you love what you do and you enjoy doing it as well.

Keegan:Yeah, definitely. It’s such an important part of the success that you have is, that you love what you’re doing. I can see with you guys and the amount that you’ve grown. It’s always inspiring to see what you’re doing and your podcast growth is extending your reach and your impact. I love seeing people who are passionate about what they do; get what they want. It doesn’t get much better than that. 

Guy:It’s awesome [00:04:00] and I know we were having this conversation yesterday as well, about … It’d be easy to assume that you were always been this way and doing what you do because you make it look so easy and effortless for when it comes to movement, strength conditioning, and the whole shebang. Pretty keen to get in and tell us a little bit about your own journey and what’s brought you to this point today, really. Also, your impressive resume along the way, as well. Start wherever you want, mate.

Keegan:Appreciate your kind words but, yeah it’s definitely not effortless. The art is to do stuff that’s really hard and keep yourself calm as you do it and under control. I think that changes the psychological response during your training will affect your physiological response. It’s actually a really important part of what we do is, trying to look calm and keep things under control as you train. It’s definitely been a journey and it’s been [inaudible 00:04:57]. 

I had that background of sports growing up. My father’s an NRL coach of 30 years so, I was always around rugby players and the sporting environment. Mum was an elite athlete as well but, I guess there was a time there where I turned by back on all that and decided to look for something deeper and went backpacking quite a while. That led to a physical deterioration. Even though though I was still trying to eat relatively healthy and get some training done, it did definitely slip. At the end of that time, I basically got to the stage of chronic fatigue where I just had no energy to train. If I trained, I’d just have a headache, and I’d go home straight to bed, and I’d stay in the dark room for the rest of the day, kind of thing. It was … They were dark times in a lot of ways but, I knew was on my way to something important. That was probably why I changed and gradually things have got better from that point up until now. 

I wouldn’t say … I talk about canaries and cockroaches. The canaries are the fragile ones [00:06:00] and the cockroaches are the ones that are hard to kill no matter what you do. I was definitely very much on the canary side of the spectrum, I was very sensitive to anything; electromagnetic radiation, or foods, or training, all these kind of challenge and stimulus. I’ve come a long way since then but, if I get things wrong, I can still slip back. It’s been exciting to learn all the things that can build myself to that … To be able to do a bit more than I used to be able to do-

Guy:How many years out did you take, Keegan?

Keegan:Sorry?

Guy:How many years out did you take when you … ?

Keegan:Basically, I left home at 21. I quit [uni 00:06:43] halfway through my 4th year, which meant I didn’t graduate from the degree that I was enrolled in but, I could graduate from a … just a straight exercise science degree. Moved to England, worked with the London Broncos but, that was really the awakening. I spent a little bit of time in Prague with a friend and realized, “Hey, there’s a whole other world out here. There’s people who speak other languages, there’s all these different experiences.” my little box of Australia and England … I’d lived in England a few time before, been to America; I’d only experienced that kind of Anglo world and, yes spending time over there opened things up for me. 

I started to learn Spanish while I was in London. Going out an partying in London, you met people from all over the world and I was like, “Definitely learning 1 language after 20 or … 15 years of formal education, I can only speak 1 language. This is not how it’s meant to be.” I started learning Spanish, I was reading a lot of Che Guevara, and exploring ideas of how the world could potentially be different. Pretty much between 21 and 28, that was the journey. Living different lives and learning more. Spent a lot of time in Latin America and the Outback in Australia. It was all about trying to understand the way the world works and how I could … What role I was going play in it. That’s probably what the 20s are about. [00:08:00] for a lot of people. 

Guy:I actually heard … I don’t know if this is true, mate, that you speak 3 languages now.

Keegan:Yeah, French and Spanish are pretty comfortable, bits of … decent understanding of German and Polish now because my wife is German-Polish, and then bits of [inaudible 00:08:17], which is an indigenous Australian language, and [inaudible 00:08:21], which is a Mayan descendant language. I’ve spent a fair bit of time watching Portuguese stuff, and music. I really enjoy that now. I guess once you get one and you get that experience of it … I worked in France for 2 years so, I was forced to learn that. I guess it just builds that belief and … You start to know that you’re adaptable and that you can pick up another language [crosstalk 00:08:45]

Guy:Yeah because Stu reckons I haven’t got English down quite yet, let alone any other language.

Stu:Well I was just going to say [crosstalk 00:08:50]

Keegan:-definitely different.

Stu:Yeah, I’m similar to you Keegan, I speak fluent Scottish, Irish, American, and of course English, as well. We’re on your-

Keegan:It’s a good mix, yeah. 

Stu:Yeah, Guy’s still struggling with English but, we’ll get there. We’ll get there. That’s why we transcribe this.

Keegan:Yeah, very useful. Very useful.

Stu:Absolutely right. I’m really interested in the chronic fatigue side of stuff. I want to delve into that a little bit later.

Keegan:Okay.

Stu:First up, from a strength and conditioning perspective because you’re the man now in that zone; I was interested, and for our listeners, too. Strength and conditioning versus regular gym stuff, what’s the big difference?

Keegan:Firstly, I don’t really feel like I’m the man. I’m a lifelong student and I’ve been passionately studying this stuff for the past 15 years so, if anything good has come of that, it’s a result of all those people that I’ve learned from over that time. I don’t really like that guru type thing that … Some guys when they get a little bit ahead [00:10:00] and then they feel like, “Well it’s all mine now and I’m going to forget about where it’s all come from” … I appreciate your kind words but, I think that’s what it’s about. If people out there do want to become acknowledged and leaders in their fields then, trying to be a real student, a life-long student, is probably going to be much more useful for them than trying to be the … Put themselves already on that pedestal, which I see people trying to do too early and it limits progress. I’ve been there as well so, this is what I’m trying to do right now.

Guy:Fantastic. They say the more you learn, the more you don’t know.

Keegan:Yeah, exactly.

Stu:We’ll use the term, pioneer, mate because I think that’s we’ll fitted. 

Keegan:All right, all right. Cool. 

Stu:[crosstalk 00:10:47] Strength and condition versus regular [globo 00:10:51] gym stuff.

Keegan:I think once you’ve … I started a lot with the globo gym type training. I think when I first when to [inaudible 00:10:59] gym to train, it was bench press into dumbbell bench press into incline bench press into flys. I don’t think I did the pec [deck 00:11:08] too much but, I did those kind of body builder-esque workouts. I bought muscle magazines and saw the guys full of steroids and just massive humans with 3% body fat. That was what was the dominant paradigm in that time. Crossfit was just barely being born, and there was no real gymnastics for adults, and that sort of thing. That was what I was exposed to and through university there was no weightlifting. You basically had to get a PhD to think that you could attempt to snatch. It was this off-limits thing that no one should do unless they’re going to become a professional weightlifter and dedicate their life to it. Almost like becoming a monk or something. 

All those barriers have come down now so, now when people experience strength and conditioning it’s a learning experience. I’m so passionate about learning and when people are learning and going beyond physical-mental limitations in the gym, they [00:12:00] just experience another level of themselves. You can’t change the mind without changing the body. When you change the body, you change the mind and vice-versa. That’s what I really love seeing. People doing a handstand fro the first time … I was talking … I did a interview last night with Witness the Fitness coach, [Ben Murphy 00:12:17], who’s one of the guys who I mentor in the Real MOVEMENT crew. He’s got 60 year olds doing handstands and it’s not just the physical factor of shoulder integrity, body awareness, being able to hold everything together but, the mental strength that comes with that, and the feeling of, “Well yeah, I’m 60 but, I’m getting better and I’m learning.” That’s the amazing thing. 

The great thing with strength and conditioning and this kind of training that we’re doing, we try … Called, performance development, is really that if you … even if you stop … If you do a handstands for 2 years and then you stop, you’ll still be able to go back and do a handstand; whereas, when you train for body composition, you’re only ever a month of bad eating away from losing everything that you had because you don’t really … You might build a base of strength but, it really deteriorates quite quickly; whereas, when you’re developing skill and mobility, you will find that you can go back to those things. We’re really empowering people with life-long skills and that’s much more exciting for me. You’re changing the body but, you’re changing the perception of self, and at the same time, you’re giving people tools for life.

Stu:Got it. Got it. I was intrigued as well, when you said the 60 year old doing a handstand. Common perception is, strength and conditioning, and gym, and handstand, and snatches, and Olympic moves are for the younger crowd but, obviously we don’t want to use it and lose it. We don’t want to get old, and frail, and fragile, we want to be strong throughout our lives. You’re fully into that transition all the way through life, are you? With your conditioning programs?

Keegan:Definitely. I think I’m getting younger and I feel like there’s so much possibility for a majority of the people out there, to be younger biologically through [00:14:00] improving their nutrition mindset and getting this training done. If you can do things that a 20 year old can’t do; physically you have more endurance, and more strength, you have more skill, who’s younger? Maybe we’re not … we are going to extend life a little it but, it’s more about … It’s not about not dying, it’s about fully living. That’s the opportunity that you get when you’re living at your best and you’re pushing for to become a better version of yourself everyday. I feel like that’s the most exciting way to live. There’s certainly opportunity for old people to become a lot younger if they take on the challenge.

Guy:There’s been a definitely interesting shift because I was working in the fitness industry probably 7, 8, 9, 10 years ago and you wouldn’t see anyone rolling out in the gymnasium let alone, to what it’s come today. Strength and conditioning probably thanks to Crossfit really, you can see there’s more and more people catching on and starting to do it, as well. 

Keegan:Crossfit is the most effective training system to exist so far in terms of, its penetration into the population. It’s made a huge difference and opened up … Everyone who runs a strength and conditioning gym who hates on Crossfit is really shooting themselves in the foot. There were no opportunities for strength and conditioning gyms, especially in Australia. There were hiring ones in the US, dealing with college athletes about to go to the NFL and [combines 00:15:25] but, your everyday Joe was not going to a strength and conditioning gym. Now, that opportunity is there. 

Real MOVEMENT has learned a lot from Crossfit. I’ve learned a lot from Crossfit. I’ve worked with [inaudible 00:15:37], and [inaudible 00:15:37], and [inaudible 00:15:38]. Top guys in Australian Crossfit have taught me a lot and inspired me a lot. While I don’t do Crossfit, I have learned a lot from it. I think there’s so much to learn and be thankful for with it. It’s opened up a whole new world of gymnastics. All those parts of Crossfit, gymnastics can be done a lot better than the way it’s done in Crossfit, in my opinion. Weightlifting has [00:16:00] been pushed ahead massively by Crossfit in terms of, the general population. Whether it affects the elite end, we’ll probably know in another decade or so when some of these kids who were 10, and 12, and 15, who were doing Crossfit … I think some of those kids are going to go to the Olympics for weightlifting, potentially. Time will tell.

Guy:Springing in mind with Crossfit, I’m interested to know about your recovery protocols, as well and stuff. What I’ve noticed even with Crossfit with myself, and Stu will probably speak for this, it’s very easy to get in there and actually get caught up in the emotions of what’s going on with everyone else and maybe lift beyond what we’re doing or pushing ourselves every single day. It’s so addictive.

Stu:A lot of people embrace it and it just becomes this bug. Personally, being mindful about the amount of times that you go, and your recovery time in-between, and strategies and protocols just to recovery before you go and smash yourself again. 

Guy:What would your recovery protocols look like, Keegan?

Keegan:Firstly, I think you hit the nail with the emotion part of it. If your training is very emotional consistently, you’re gone. It’s not going to work for you. You can train 3 times a day if you build your tolerance to that point but, if you’re training with emotion 3 times a day, you will over-train within a week. There’s no way of doing that. If you look at [inaudible 00:17:23], if you look at [inaudible 00:17:24]; if you look at these guys, the calmness that the have even when they’re in front of a massive crowd actually competing, how do their facial expressions look compared to the guy who’s smashing himself up at the local box. You can see that there’s a very different experience going on on the inside. 

That emotional side of it is massively underrated and under-recognized. In terms of recovery, that is probably one of the biggest things that the less emotion you put into your training, the more likely you’re going to be able to repeat regularly. It means the emotion comes in once every month, once every couple of months, or one [00:18:00] set, or one rep within a session but, not every set, every rep; 10, 15, 20 minutes at a time feeling high, high stress. Especially, on the strength loads. That’s definitely what’s going to make the biggest difference.

Stu:How could you perhaps become more aware and manage that? I get exactly what you’re saying because stress hormones can make everything go wrong as well as, everything go right. What do you do to-

Keegan:You guys are going to be the world leaders in this. You keep having the neuroscientists on and … You guys are going to … You already have so much information about that and so much knowledge. I recommend if people want to answer that question, check out all the other podcasts because there’s a ton of stuff there about how to control your physiology and psychology. [inaudible 00:18:49] [Spencer 00:18:49] been doing … Joe Spencer’s work and [inaudible 00:18:52] work, religiously lately … Guy who really sparked me back into that. I’m massively thankful for him putting me on that train again. The crew of coaches, gym owners around Australia, and around the world that I work with are also exploring more of that stuff. Really thankful for that and really exciting where it’s going to go. 

I do believe that [inaudible 00:19:12] is a really, really powerful way to start getting emotional control and deeper physiological control. The training itself, if you treat it as that, it’s going to teach you as well. If you say, “Yeah, I’m just going to train until the point where it feels as though I’m starting to lose control a little bit and then, ill back off from there.” At that point, it’ll continue to shift upwards. You’ve got your comfort zone and that comfort zone becomes very small when we don’t … when we never stress ourselves and when we don’t challenge ourselves so , we need stress. It’s a big misconception to avoid stress. If you’re trying to avoid stress, you’re probably going to end up in chronic fatigue and feeling really bad. We need the stress but, we need to gradually increase our tolerance to that stress, and our bodies ability to adapt to it, and our minds ability to adapt to it, to tolerate it. With that, we can definitely push a lot further. 

Guy:Definitely. I think one of the common things [00:20:00] that I used to see a lot as well, would be the person that hadn’t stressed their body for 6 months plus because of work, and commitments, and everything. The moment they walk through the doors of the gym, they’re acting like they’re 21, and then you wouldn’t see them again for weeks on end because they’ve just overcooked themselves. 

Stu:With that emotional side, and that mental side now, becoming more prevalent with all these great guys coming out with all these strategies, techniques for us to be able to manage that; the future then, of performance and movement … Because I’m seeing Crossfit is just it’s rolled through Australia like a steam train and people have just embraced it so much. Now, I’m seeing a shift with [F45 00:20:52] for instance, another twist on that kind of stuff. Where do you think it’s going to go bearing in mind that there is all this kind of psychological stuff that we really do need to embrace?

Keegan:I feel like Real MOVEMENT is the future. It is going to take things to a place that it hasn’t … that a lot of the world hasn’t been. We have over 30 facilities, 30 guys have gone into new facilities over the last 12 months and we’re sneaking along with some nice growth. We’ve got some good plans in place and I do see it as my responsibility. You’ve got to change the things that you don’t like about the world. “Be the change that you want to see in the world”, as Gandhi said. That’s really what I’m trying to do. 

I want to influence back a lot into the NRL. I know we did things a lot different at the [inaudible 00:21:39] and we had some different results because of it. I’m excited about changing the way physical preparation is done in the NRL over the next few years and taking that into commercial facilities is part of what we’re working towards. We’re starting to have a good network in Europe as well, we’re definitely expanding. Hopefully, I’m going to present it by range during [00:22:00] the year in China. I think that we do have a big responsibility and possibility for doing things better so that’s why we have to keep learning and presenting things better and making-

Stu:Got it.

Keegan:-a difference.

Stu:So for … Sorry, mate … For our listeners, your Real MOVEMENT Project, what is it? In a nutshell?

Keegan:Real MOVEMENT is a thing that came around, kind of a Marxist movement in the 50s and 60s, if you search for it on Wikipedia. It was a political movement and an attempt to shift stuff. I’m not a Marxist but, I have explore a lot into alternative economies and I do think that there needs to be a shift in our economic model for us to be able to give everyone the best life possible. I think that the model that we have is going to serve that very well. The Joe [Rogan 00:22:50] YouTube video, that he’s just put up … Have you guys seen that one? I think it just came out last couple days.

Guy:I haven’t, no. I follow his work but, I haven’t seen it.

Keegan:It’s 5 minutes and it’s bang like, nail on the head. Things about the way the world needs to change and the opportunity that we have to change it, and the unlimited potential of individuals, and how we’re wasting a lot of that potential, and stuff. Really, really interesting. I’m just about to put up a blog post with some thoughts about exactly what he said. That’s something that I believe [00:23:22]. There is potential for things to be done a lot better and to be done differently, and that’s why I went backpacking and living with the Mayans, living with the indigenous Australians; looking at how things can be done better and trying to learn about that. 

Bringing it into movement, it’s not actually about how we have the authentic movement and everyone else’s movement is bullshit. It’s not … That’s not what Real MOVEMENT means. Real MOVEMENT is about a real change change towards a better world and that’s the foundation of it. I guess [inaudible 00:23:57] and [inaudible 00:23:57] is really popularized the word, movement. [00:24:00] I really think it’s been valuable for the whole world of fitness, strength and conditioning, performance, and that’s filtering out all over the place. It’s not about just building muscles, it’s about building real connections, quality of movement, and taking it to a whole other level. I’ve done a lot of work with him and that’s really exciting as well. [crosstalk 00:24:25]

Guy:You structure workshops around that, right? For at the moment, if anyone is listening to this and they go …

Keegan:That’s kind of the philosophy. What we actually do … The biggest part is mentoring gym owners, and people who want to own gyms, or people who want to coach, or lead sports teams. I’ve got guys working with a number of AFL, NRL, super-league teams and they network with each other so, they’re all getting better at a faster rate than they would if they were doing things on their own; the gyms and the coaches working with the teams. 

I have a 12 month program there that’s really making a shift and that came from doing 2 day workshops and 3 hour workshops in gymnastics or on the whole Real MOVEMENT system. I have the Real MOVEMENT level 1 coming up around different sports. That 2 day gets people excited and gives them an experience but, generally I feel that it’s too much of a shift for people to follow it up so, the people I get work with over 12 months … The change that we’re seeing in some of those people and now it’s been 2 years and I’m still working with some of the first guys. The changes that they’ve had physically, mentally, and spiritually, and economically … They’re making money, they’re making a difference. It’s just super exciting so, that’s what Real MOVEMENT is really about. We want to put a performance center into [inaudible 00:25:42] and Fiji this year. We’re looking to-

Guy:Fiji, Stu. Did you hear that?

Stu:Oh Fiji. I’m coming, mate.

Keegan:Sounds like I’ve got a-

Guy:We’ll be there, yeah. 

Keegan:These are really hubs for rugby players and areas that are under-served and probably have been [00:26:00] … probably exploited by Australia in terms of, dominance in the area politically. I think that they’re starting to experience a lot of the behavior-related diseases that we brought from European culture, European mentality. To have an impact on that is, something that really excites me. It’s part of where we’re going in the next little while.

Guy:Fantastic. I have to say, the power of community is immense. I’ve seen it firsthand even within your Real MOVEMENT Facebook page. The amount of support that’s going on in there with each other is fantastic.

Keegan:Different wavelength and it was great to have you speak to some of the elite guys at my place in [inaudible 00:26:46]. I know you impacted a lot of guys and there are a lot of them that are taking on [inaudible 00:26:50] and looking into … [inaudible 00:26:52], I think a bit of a gateway into the spiritual …

Guy:Yeah, yeah, yeah. Definitely, no it’s interesting stuff. While we’re still on the topic of movement, I heard you say as well, “You can’t nourish a cell without movement.” I thought that was fantastic. Can you elaborate on that for us?

Keegan:Yeah. It comes from Moves Your DNA, by Katy Bowman. It’s a fantastic book, one of the best books on training movement; understanding the body, that I’ve read. Definitely top 5. She talks about how, yeah you can put great food into the system but, what good is it while it’s sitting in the digestive track? What good is it while it’s sitting in the arteries? It has to go to the capillaries. The capillaries are all within a couple of hairs width of the cells and they are really where nutrition actually gets delivered. 

When we’re sitting, when the blood is pooling then, cells are actually being starved. It doesn’t matter what’s going in, you could be sitting down, chowing down on organic, amazing, high-quality, perfect, macro-nutrient balanced food but, if you don’t circulate that, and get the other stuff out then, you’re not going to have amazing nutrition. I think that is such a key [00:28:00] part of the picture for health that is underestimated by those who are trying to be in good health.

Stu:It does make perfect sense and I read a Chinese saying … I think it was in a [inaudible 00:28:17], might have been in a 4 hour body or something along those lines. It was, “Take 100 steps after every meal for better health.”

Guy:That was in [inaudible 00:28:24], yeah. 

Stu:1000 steps, right. I’ll stick with 100 for now. I guess it makes sense. You’re really trying to utilize what you’ve just put in rather than, it’s just a vessel for in and out.

Keegan:Our ancestors knew a lot of this and they had to do it anyway just to get water and to get their food and all that. [crosstalk 00:28:46] The new thing that we can not move for a day or 2. 

Guy:Yeah, it’s amazing. The lifestyle that most people lead and not … Half the time they’ll follow your own, if we get caught up and it’s pretty sedentary. 

Keegan:Easy for me to do it, as well. I have an online business. I like blogging, I like writing. You have experienced this too so, you really have to discipline yourself and build it into your day if you want to … It’s not enough to train 3 times a week. Training 3 times a week is just a ridiculous concept if you’re thinking about movement for longevity. Sure, you can build muscle mass and be lean but, doing training now doesn’t mean that you’re … You would decrease your chances of a lot of the behavioral diseases that we see now but, you see guys like Lance Armstrong and there’s elite athletes, elite rugby league players getting diagnosed with cancer and stuff like … Just moving doesn’t guarantee that your going to be healthy now. We have to go beyond that. That’s what we’re trying to do.

Stu:It may have been yo that said this as well but, the number 1 movement these days is sitting. 

Keegan:Best the human race has ever been. [crosstalk 00:29:58] I can guarantee that. There’s no way. [00:30:00]

Stu:It really irks me because we know that we shouldn’t be doing it. 85% of us are desk bound, we’re desk jockeys. There’s no way out of it because …

Keegan:Oh come on. There’s no way out of it? That’s taking things a little bit too far.

Stu:Hear me out. Hear me out.

Keegan:It’s easy to fall into it but … [crosstalk 00:30:19]

Stu:It is. If we’re in a job and we’re in a cubicle or booth, and we’re not going to get a … Our boss isn’t going to give us a standing desk or a [inaudible 00:30:33]. We’re really zoned in and we’ve got to pay the bills, I get that you might be able to get off the bus early and walk to work, and work back from work, and go out at lunch time but, the bulk of our day, we’re trapped.

Keegan:If you’re trapped, you’re trapped. If you’re not trapped, you’re not trapped. The mentality of that is the key part here. If you’re at a chair, is someone going to actually imprison you, or fire you, whatever, if you stand up every 5 minutes, push your hips forward, sit down in a squat, and once an hour you walk to the bathroom, you do a back bridge, and you go back to your desk. Are you going to get fired for that? Maybe. The other side of the coin is, quit the job, find something you’re passionate about, find an environment that you can lead in [crosstalk 00:31:18] people need, that you can be passionate about.

Stu:Tell us a bit … You said, “Get out the chair” so, you do … roll your shoulders. I always … Whenever we get guys who are specialist in their area, we always like to pick … Just give me these little gems. If I am desk bound, what do I need to be doing?

Keegan:First thing is, change the mentality around it. You’re not chained to the sea unless, you’re a prisoner of war or something. You need to take responsibility for where you put your body. You can … Standing desks are really easy to make with a couple of boxes. Even if you can’t do that, there are other options. If you do get to work at home like you guys do a bit; learning to work lying down, to work [00:32:00] sitting crossed legged onto a chair, find different postures to use your keyboard from. Get a keyboard off your laptop so you can get that line of sight and those sorts of things like, work on the ergonomics but then, vary your positions. You need to be using lots of different positions. If you over-use 1 position, your body will become extremely adapted to that position and you’ll suffer as a result.

Guy:The thing I wanted to add to that is … I haven’t looked into this but, I do wonder if you have a standing desk, that you could over-stand on the spot all day because it’s not encompassing movement. 

Keegan:I believe you can. I believe you can and a lot of people aren’t prepared to stand for a long period of time. You stand … Now, I’m standing at the moment. My tolerance to standing is much better than it used to be. If I used to stand for a long period of time … Really it’s all lower back … Go to concerts and stuff and it was a pain to stand for a long time, standing on the one spot. We’re meant to walk. We should work in a squat for a little while, work sitting down, work laying down; varying the postures is really the key. Standing isn’t really the whole solution either. There’s the treadmill desks now, those things are interesting but, we’re meant to have a variety of-

Guy:Did you say a treadmill desk?

Keegan:-variation of movement diet. is the way that Katy Bowman talks about it. I really like that. We talk about diet in terms of vegetables, different nutrients … The movement needs to be the same. Don’t just settle on standing and say, “Oh that’s my solution. I’m just going to stand now.” That’s not the solution. We need that variety of the movement diet.

Guy:What would be some simple movement tests you could do? If somebody listening to this, go, “Well we’ll see if you can do this, and if you can’t you know you need to improve your range of motion …”

Keegan:We have a standard battery of simple mobility tests that we use with anybody that starts training in Real MOVEMENT facilities or … They’re going to be on the new app as well so, you can show people through that. Basically, being able to rest in a squat position is really valuable. If you go pretty much anywhere in the world, you’ll see that, outside of Anglo culture, you’ll see [00:34:00] that people rest in a squat position. In China, in Africa, all through Asia, Africa, middle-aged, you’re going to see that people are comfortable resting in squat position just because we stopped doing it generally from 5 years old. We have toilets rather than hole in the ground type toilets. We lose that position. 

It’s quite as valuable but, it’s actually a really shortened hip flexor, psoas  iliacus … The muscles around the pelvis at the front are actually really shortened in that squat position so, just getting good at that could actually cause problems as well. We want to be able to rest all the way down in that squat position but, then we need to go the opposite direction, is the biggest one. Really opening the hips. There’s 2 ways to do that. We can do it off a single leg, which is more of a lunge and a lean back or we can do it off a double leg, which is standing and balancing back. You think of it a little bit like [crosstalk 00:34:54]

Guy:That’s interesting you say that because I always wonder about the psaoas, the muscles coming from the pelvis. If I’m doing … practicing an overhead squat, I’m going off a little bit tangent with a broomstick, which I just like to see with my mobility. My body is always forward and I’m always like, “How can I open that up and bring it back?” You suggest leaning back would be one to open? Is there anything else we could do?

Keegan:I have a whole series of movements because when you do a mobility drill … anyone can find mobility drills now so, look for a mobility drill, try it, if you see that there’s a difference within about 30 seconds then, you should stick with that drill and keep using it. If you don’t feel like there’s an immediate change then, it’s probably not going to work for you and you should probably just move on to the next drill. One of the ones … Resting in that squat position … Are you comfortable resting in the bottom of a squat?

Guy:Yeah.

Keegan:Being in that position and then-

Stu:I was going to say, I don’t think you can get him to a squat, mate so, I don’t know how comfortable he is.

Keegan:I think he can, he’s very deceptive big guy. He’s doing his [inaudible 00:35:55] and he’s doing his work-

Guy:-heels flat, I can sit down no problem. 

Keegan:Yeah.

Guy:Easy. [00:36:00]

Keegan:Don’t underestimate him. 

Stu:I never do. I never do.

Guy:The problem is, he’s been working with me too long. He starts [palming 00:36:08] off anything that I say or do. You see a massive change when he moves up this way. He’ll be “My god.” You won’t recognize me.

Keegan:You’re a good couple, you 2. You’re doing amazing work so, that’s good to see continued. The back … Working towards the back bridge or what they call a wheel in yoga, I think is-

Stu:What is a back bridge, Keegan?

Keegan:Basically, it’s being able to go back on your hands and feet with your hips up. 

Stu:Is that like a … Because my daughters do it. Is that like a crab walk, that kind of thing? Is that …

Guy:Yes.

Keegan:Without the walking, right?

Guy:Yes.

Stu:Yeah.

Keegan:Crab walk can also be called … the crab walk is … Yeah, no it’s over the top so it’s … your body makes a big arch-

Stu:Yes.

Keegan:-between hands and feet.

Guy:If you did yoga Stu, it’s called the wheel.

Keegan:Yeah.

Stu:I don’t-

Keegan:In gymnastics, it’s back bridge. 

Stu:I don’t have the-

Keegan:That is extremely challenging and most people aren’t going to be able to do it initially. I would say working towards that, working with a coach or finding a way to get to that level of being able to do a back bridge and a lot of the postural deficiencies, deficits will be undone. It requires big amount of thoracic extension, it requires the shoulders, and range of flexion so, a lot of people have difficult getting the arms overhead because we don’t live with the arms overhead, we live with the arms in front of the body now. That’s the position on the phone, driving the car, at the keyboard, so having arms overhead becomes something that’s very difficult for people that haven’t used that. 

When their arms overhead, it’s going to be looking something like this. There’s an arch forward, you want to be able to open that up, and have that … Be able to see … You’re going to have to be able to do that to do the wheel. You’re going to have to be able to get some thoracic extension, you’re going to have to get the hips up and extended, and that’s going to fire you’re glutes really hard, [00:38:00] which we generally get inactive glutes from sitting on them all day, and not walking enough, and all that stuff. It’s a really good litmus test which 99% of person trainers will fail, let alone average Joe, general population. We have to increase … We have to change the standards of movement within society if we’re going to get somewhere. That’s a minimum standard that we like everyone to be able to achieve.

Guy:That’s great, mate. Mate, I’m going to make the wheel my number 1 mission because I can’t get near it. 

Keegan:It’s a good battle. For a lot of people it could be 2 years, it could be 5 years but, 2 or 5 years is going to pass, what are you going to have to show for it? You want to be able to … It doesn’t matter how long it takes, just get to where you need to be. 

Guy:Absolutely. 

Keegan:We’ll be able to do some work on it as well, enough to get a session done up here.

Guy:100%. No, I’m keen as def- … yeah, for sure. The next thing I wanted to look- Stu you’re going to ask a question or can I jump in? Are you good?

Stu:Please, after you, my friend.

Guy:I know it … What does your exercise routine look like for yourself, personally? Are you constantly setting goals or are you training to maintain or … ? I know listeners are going to be of all varying abilities as well but, I’m sure there’d be some wisdom in there from the way you approach everything, for yourself personally on a weekly basis.

Keegan:I do see my training as being one of the key components to the success that I have as a coach. I do set goals for myself and what I’ve been able to do since I turned 30, everything has changed a lot. I’m a lot better physically than at any stage in my 20s or teens. The reason why … As soon as I improve, I always see the people around me improve in any case. I see it as a responsibility for me within the community I work with but, also [00:40:00] tens of thousands of people checking stuff out on social media. There’s a responsibility for you to show people that what they think they’re capable of is a lot lower than what they’re really capable of. Hopefully that’s the message I get across. I don’t post stuff to show, “I’m way better than you.” I’m a nearly 33 year old guy who … I consider myself to be quite average genetically, physically. I don’t consider myself to be massively gifted beyond what everyone else is. I think everybody is gifted and we all have the chance to learn and develop. It’s been great to do that. 

In terms of my training at the moment then, well, I’ve just been on a fast so I haven’t done much training in the last few days. I’ve done some balance work and some juggling but, has not been around a little bit more than what I thought it would. The week before that, I was doing a high frequency squat and dead lift program. It’s based on a guy who had a world record in the knee to thigh lift, a partial dead lift, called, Steve [inaudible 00:41:08]. That program is 3 reps, 3 single repetitions of a dead lift on a Monday and then, 5 single repetitions on a Tuesday, 7 on a Wednesday, gradually increasing by 2 reps just throughout the week. Basically, that’s at 70% so, it’s really built around that concept of expanding your comfort zone. It kind of breaks away from some of the traditional strength and conditioning but, I have had great results with that program in the past. I had PB on my dead lift at 211 kilos just in the end of the last year.

Guy:Sorry, how much?

Keegan:211 kilos.

Guy:I just wanted you to repeat that. Jesus Christ. 

Keegan:It’s nowhere near where I want it to be but it’s better than what it has been.

Guy:How heavy are you, Keegan?

Keegan:How heavy?

Guy:How heavy?

Keegan:About 80 kilos. 80 to 82. I want to get to triple body weight. [00:42:00] Triple body weight is a leap in power lifting. That would be about 240. That’s the target.

Guy:Wow. 

Keegan:Yeah, if I can maintain … People think because you’re training mobility and stuff then, you can’t be strong or because you’re strong, you can be mobile. My mission is just to use my body as a tool and to show people that limitation and that limiting belief that you have is a false belief and that needs to be changed. Seeing is believing for a lot of people. I’m the other way around, believing is seeing. I’m trying to be that way. I know that I’m capable of doing this so, it’s going to happen. I know for a lot of people they’re going to want to watch it before they go, “Yeah, I probably can do that. I’m 22 and healthy. Why don’t I go and …?”

Guy:I reckon, not to be … There could be people listening going, “Oh that’s easy for you, Keegan because you got a gym out the back, and you can wander in and do what you want.” For somebody that wants to improve, how much time a day would they … could you get away with to doing something in a busy lifestyle?

Keegan:It depends where you’re at. The more athletic you are, the less potential for improvement there will be in that area. For the majority of people, just 2 minutes a day of anything will improve them massively. Just doing 1 set of chin ups and 1 set of push ups will transform the body. We work a lot in 5 minute blocks to deal with that barrier. The system that we use, real strength system’s 5 minute blocks. It makes it manageable. If you only get 1 block done, that’s fine. 

I could say you don’t actually have to get to the gym. Have a doorway chin up bar and do some chin ups and push ups in your house, or do shin ups and squats, have a kettle bell; it’s not actually … The barrier is almost always mental, Guy. Who doesn’t really have 5 minutes a day? The other side of the coin is that Joe Rogan video, change your life. If you don’t have time to move, [00:44:00] it’s like not having time to eat, it’s like not having time to breathe; what are you doing? Movement is being human. Walking is being human. That’s who we are, that’s what we’re here for. If we don’t have time for that, what do we have time for? What’s more important than … 

Guy:It’s normally the catalyst. The catalyst when they start … They normally can see the improvements, get addicted, and then just very easy to find the time around that.

Keegan:That’s why we’re building the most addictive system where you constantly see improvements. I get ahold of people for a couple of hours at the [Thrive 00:44:31] convention where we met, where we first met face to face, I managed to get a few people addicted on juggling and handstands in a short period of time. That’s something that they’ll then take on for the rest of your life. Body composition training, you just can’t do that. You’re not going to change somebody’s body composition in an hour and a half educational lecture. 

Guy:Yeah, no. 

Stu:I picked up that you mentioned the word fasting just previously. I was interested in your philosophies in nutrition based upon the fact that Real MOVEMENT being holistic, I guess that would be a cool component of what you do, too. What do you do where the food and drink is concerned?

Guy:I’m a big believer in whole foods and I’m a big believer in ancient wisdom. That’s pretty much the litmus test for when I look at a nutrition program or someone’s diet. How much whole food is it compared to processed food? Does it fit within something that your ancestors could have eaten? Whenever you go beyond that, you really should proceed with caution. I’ve had periods of taking lots of supplements. Lately, I haven’t been using supplements but, if you’re adding things that are outside of nature’s rules then, you should be really careful, and cautious, and intelligent with it. A lot of what we add from outside of nature’s rules like, the processed [00:46:00] foods, the majority of stuff in the aisles at the supermarket, trying to go around the outsides, down the aisles there’s not much stuff that is going to … Is full of life, energy … That part of it … That’s kind of how it works. 

The other thing is looking at food is looking at information. Looking at it as just the macro and nutrient level. That’s a big stake that I think … You can get great body composition from just looking at calories and macro-nutrients but, are you healthy? I want people to thrive long, to live long, I want them to have great mental energy; you can get the macros right and be lame, and be unhealthy on the inside, and not feel, and not be on track for anything great in life. That’s why local foods are really important. It is food as information. That food … The intelligence of plants is massively underestimated. The Secret Life Of Plants, is a good book to check out around that, or Primary Perception from [Cleve Backster 00:46:55], a CIA guy who studied plants for a number of years. He was a like detector guy, figured out that plants have consciousness and it’s the stuff that yogis would talk about but, now it’s actually been proven in science but, it still hasn’t really penetrated mainstream thinking.

If a plant grows in your environment, it how knows how to solve problems in your environment and it’s going to give you more useful information in your environment than stuff that comes from the other side of the world that grew up in a completely different situation. This is getting to the high end but, basically getting that whole foods approach and looking at things from an ancestral context. Some people need more carbs, some people less carbs, some people more raw food, some people more protein; it’s not cut and dry but, whole foods is definitely the [inaudible 00:47:44].

Guy:The moment you start cutting them, processed, inflammatory foods out, you start becoming more in tune with your body and then you can start to figure out, “Am I eating too many carbs or not? Do I need to put a bit more fat in my diet?” Your body is much more receptive to everything you eat on a daily basis. 

Keegan:Can’t change your body without changing your mind. [00:48:00] You bring an extra level of awareness in. It was great to see that with the Roosters guys. Typical rugby league team, players will eat a lot of takeaway food, they’ll drink a lot of alcohol-

Guy:This is the high end?

Keegan:I heard a story yesterday, it was actually on NRL.com, I believe. NRL [inaudible 00:48:19] I won’t embarrass them but, you can check it out if you want, said that he’s eating McDonald’s everyday for the last 22 years and he’s 24. This guy just signed a big money contract and he’s played with professional clubs and that’s still the level that he’s been at. Not to say that someone hasn’t done that undercover that I’ve worked with. There have been a couple players that you feel like you’re not really getting to and everyone is on their journey. You got to invite them into something better if they can see that you’re living it and that it’s working for you. If they can see that it’s working for those around them, the community side of things then, they’re more likely to step into it but, you’re not going to win them all. I don’t know if I would have changed him. I’d like to think I would have earlier, I think he’s changing now. 

Those guys when they start to eat whole foods … We fed them really high quality organic food a few times a week and we showed them what we would love them to be consuming and they definitely changed. I think that is part of the higher level of consciousness that led them to the decision to not to binge drink on alcohol … Didn’t drink alcohol at all because they don’t … a lot of them don’t know how to not binge if they have won. Did that for the last 3 months of the NRL regular season, and then all the way to the playoffs, all the way to winning the premiership-

Guy:They won the premiership that year?

Keegan:It’s never been done in rugby league. It’s that kind of group sacrifice and group conscious decision. The food definitely changes the mind and makes all the other stuff more …

Guy:That amazes me thats going on in the NRL. We must be living in a podcast bubble or something because elite end athletes can pay a lot of money. The protocols should be [00:50:00] in place. You’d think so anyway. 

Keegan:The members of society, they don’t stand separate from society. Until society changes, our lead athletes are still going to be a reflection of it. Holding our elite athletes to a higher standards than we hold society as a whole, too, it’s a reflection on [inaudible 00:50:17]. If society, “If this is what’s going on with these guys, they’re getting in trouble and doing things like … Where are the values of where they’ve grown up? What environment did they grow up in? What was the school like? What was the suburb like? What were the values of all the coaches and strength and conditioning coaches they’ve worked with?” 

A lot of strength and conditioning coaches have had very different experiences of life to me. They haven’t spent time in the mountains of Mexico, or haven’t had chronic fatigue, or whatever. They’ve got no reason to think that eating a diet, which has tons of Gatorade, tons of pasta, lollies before and after training, isn’t the best way forward for all their athletes because that’s all they’ve known. There’s textbooks and smart people who say that’s the way forward. I know there are still NRL clubs … That’s what the nutritionist is prescribing and players are trying their best to stick to that and be diligent with it. No wonder their psyches are going to be off if they’re doing that sort of stuff. If you’ve had that experience and you’re not a guy who’s really tolerant to those carbohydrates … [crosstalk 00:51:11]

Guy:Good answer, yeah. Absolutely. 

Keegan:-broken system.

Guy:It’s easy to be judgmental if they’re in the press a lot, messing it up in all the rest of it.

Keegan:A lot of good guys then … A lot of good guys who are doing really great community work and stuff. I was really blown away by how great a lot of them are as humans, and how tolerant they are, and how much giving … how giving of their time they are. You don’t see that stuff. That stuff doesn’t really make the press but, it’s absolutely phenomenal. You walk along with Sonny Bill Williams and the patience he has to sign autographs, take photographs, I never saw him frustrated, I never saw him saying no to anyone-

Guy:Sonny Bill-

Keegan:In that sort of pressure everyone wants the money, and the body, and whatever but, do you want someone asking you for your autograph everywhere you go? Watching what you do everywhere you go? Judging your every action? It’s a hard standard to live by.

Guy:I saw [00:52:00] in the rugby world cup, he gave his winning medal away to a kid that’d been rugby tackled on the field by one of the security guards because he ran on. That’s incredible.

Keegan:He’s just been to Lebanon and has been to the Middle East, and he actually saw a lot of what’s going on there with refugee camps, and people fleeing, and all that sort of stuff. He went there with UNICEF and he actually posted a picture of some dead children, talking about, “What have they done to deserve this and what are we doing about it?” As a bit of a challenge, it was a bit of a controversial one. He’s definitely one of the more conscious athletes that I’ve come across and carries a higher purpose to what he does. I think when you have that higher purpose then, the higher performance can come with it,

Guy:I know he’s done … I know Stu doesn’t follow the league union much but, he’s done what most athletes only dream about switching codes like that and becoming a key.

Keegan:In boxing as well, just not giving a shit and doing what you want to do and how you want to do it. You make the rules and that’s what he’s done. He’s backed it up with an ethic to continue to succeed in it, and to do a great job for everyone he’s had the opportunity to interact with in those experiences.

Guy:Before we wrap up, I really want to touch on the chronic fatigue and Stu mentioned he wanted to go into. The reason why is that we had a very earlier on podcast, a guy that had chronic fatigue. It became very popular and there definitely seems to be a need for that information to get out there as well. I know you wasn’t physically diagnosed with it but, I know you went through a lot and you made some changes. Could you give us a few points of a little bit of that journey and the changes you made? So that other people can-

Keegan:I wasn’t diagnosed with it but, I had hormone testing done that showed that things were flat lining. I had immune blood testing that showed things were flat lining. All the symptoms when you go through the symptoms of it, it is a great diagnosis anyway. I have a scar on my face here [00:54:00] from an infection that wouldn’t heal; 6 months, just didn’t want to get better. I just didn’t have the energy in my body or the something, the will to be at my best. That pushed a lot of exploration. I worked with a few … People come to me now and I worked with Ali Day, who won the Ironman series last year and he was diagnosed with chronic fatigue. Bouncing from doctor to doctor, not really getting better, not really getting any answers. We started working together and the next year he actually won the series which was amazing. A massive … I’m not taking credit for that but, I know the things that we worked on definitely played a part-

Stu:What sort of things did you do?

Keegan:I think the first thing is the purpose. You have to have a reason to get better. People can get really stuck with, “Okay, I’ve been diagnosed with chronic fatigue, this is who I am. I’m putting this hat on. I’m putting these clothes on. Everyday I show people my chronic fatigue.” That is a state that cannot be recovered from. I don’t care what you do nutritionally, I don’t care what you do in terms of anything. You have to change the belief that that’s something permanent, that that’s who you are, that can’t be your identity. That is very deep and very important. People say, “Yeah, that’s airy fairy stuff. Give me the details.” No, that is the biggest thing. Have a big reason why you need to be better and who you’re going to serve by being better and that will be a huge step. Just making that step can be enough for some people to just walk out of bed and be okay. 

For me, that decision was about serving the rugby league teams and on the mission to what has become Real MOVEMENT Project. That was why I got better. That forced me to look for the knowledge. Digestive function is just huge. If digestive function is low, you’re going to have less neural transmitters, you’re going to be bringing less nutrients into the body. We get nutrient manufacture in the intestines and gut as well; the stomach is not going to work properly. If those things are not working well … “Death begins in the gut” was a quote by Elie Metchnikoff, he was a Nobel peace prize [00:56:00] winner and he was right. It was a long time ago but, he was right.

Stu:How would you know that your digestive system isn’t functioning?

Keegan:You generally get some pretty strong symptoms around flatulence, pain, bloating. You’ll have signs of nutrient deficiencies. There’s lots of signs and symptoms that … The health of your hair, and your nails, and those sorts of things, your recovery from training. Generally, people will have a pretty good idea. If you get down to the details [crosstalk 00:56:29] you go to the toilet … What’s the consistency of the stool like? All those details are really important and they will tell you a lot. 

Once you’ve identified that there’s an issue there, there are some really good protocols for improving that. Fasting, I think is very valuable. GAPS diet is a really good one. It’s built around sort of broth, and then building into whole foods from there, and eliminating a lot of the highly allergenic stuff. I’m a big believer in gelatin and collagen. They’re an easier way. People say broth, “I’m going to be making that stuff all the time, and filtering it, and putting it in the fridge.” It’s not that hard but, I understand. Gelatin and collagen, and that sort of stuff is the easy way to get that done. That will not only help to rebuild the gut lining but, it’s also cleansing, it’s healing for the cells. There’s a lot of medical research going on into gelatin in the 30s and 40s but, then we had to shift to a pharmaceutical model. All that kind of medical thinking got squashed. 

Stu:Absolutely. I agree with that. That’s one of the things that’s one my menu twice a day. I’ll have a … I’ll make sure that I have a couple of nourishing … I think this is the stuff I’ve got right now. Boom.

Keegan:[crosstalk 00:57:48] Great Lakes is a quality brand. There’s another one, Gelatin something Australia, they have really good stuff as well.

Stu:That right. I think we’re … We love our muscle [00:58:00] meat as well. We do discard all the other meats that have all these beautiful, nourishing qualities about it. Mentioned organ meat to somebody and they just … their eyes roll back. We used to-

Keegan:The most valuable part.

Stu:Absolutely. We used to favor all of the good stuff with all of these amazing, nourishing, nutrients. Of course, it’s lean cuts and … Nowhere near as nourishing or beneficial for the body.

Keegan:I live in indigenous community in the Outback and we went hunting for kangaroo, we cooked him up in the traditional way. When the [roo 00:58:38] was ready, I open it up, the kids were in there with a cup scooping out the blood, which had been almost a stew of the organ nutrients, drinking that and loving it. Pulling out bits of spleen, bits of heart, bits of liver; I got a little bit of spleen gifted to me and it was like they were giving me gold. At the end, I was left with this brontosaurus leg of kangaroo. I thought, “They really like me” but, later I realized that the spleen was the gift and that big chunk of meat was “blegh”.

Stu:That stuff should be given to the dogs. It’s not favored at all.

Guy:That’s amazing. How long were you in the indigenous community for?

Keegan:7 months. 8 months, I think. [inaudible 00:59:24], it’s like 4 hours from Alice Springs. It’s a community of about 150 to 300 population and some transient movement in that. I worked as a youth worker there.

Guy:Had they been influenced by western society, at all?

Keegan:Sure, sure. The community was actually built when the railroad was going from Adelaide to Darwin. It was actually fenced off and the indigenous people weren’t allowed to go inside the facility so, it was built as a little town. A lot of [Afrikani 00:59:50] workers were [inaudible 00:59:48] with their camels to build that railroad so there’s actually a mix of some Afrikani blood with indigenous Outback, which is really interesting when you see [01:00:00] the different features of guys and girls. 

They lived in that community and it was tough. It was tough to see the conditions that they live in. It is definitely 3rd world in a lot of way but, most are on that purpose side of things and the mental side of things. Everything that they live for has shifted. There were people there who had seen white man there for the first time in the 20s but, they definitely had a lot of influence by that time. I went there, they had Tvs, and phones, and cars, and all that stuff. It relatively recent, they still do their men’s business. The men will have their front tooth knocked out to show that they’re men, to show that they’ve been through initiation. Those practices are still alive but they’re … They can also go into Alice Springs and be told that they have to get a job, or go o a nightclub, or … They’re in this between worlds that’s really complicated to say what the solution is but, things aren’t ideal there.

Guy:I always think of that movie. That sugar film that came out recently about the indigenous tribes. I don’t know if you’ve seen the film but, the-

Keegan:I did.

Guy:Yeah, because he did spend time there previously making a different movie and the western society and really influenced the diet. It was the highest selling village of Coca-Cola in Australia or something like that. The tragedy that went around it. 

Keegan:The shop was really limited. To get food from somewhere else from [inaudible 01:01:34] was a 3-4 hour trip It wasn’t an option for them. There was limited whole foods there. It was not uncommon to have chips and coke for 3 meals a day. The metal function at that … When you’re doing that, physical development is going to suffer. There were amazing athletes as well. It was really interesting from the athletic point of view. There’s [inaudible 01:01:56] selective pressure and behavioral towards coming extremely [01:02:00] [endurant 01:02:01], and powerful, and fast, and that’s sort of stuff was cool to see as well. 

Guy:That must have been an amazing chapter in your life, man. That’d be wonderful.

Stu:Just … I just want to jump back a little bit. We were talking about the gelatin and stuff like that …

Keegan:We did the digestive stuff, we did the mindset …

Stu:Yes, Anything else? Any other intervention strategies, protocols … Whole food, etc.?

Keegan:The movement and the breathing are the other 2 things. I guess breath is movement but, I believe that this [inaudible 01:02:30] method will really change a lot of people’s lives with doing this stuff. I have had some experience around cold exposure being life regenerating for people experiencing low levels of vitality. I don’t like the labels of chronic fatigue and whatnot. It’s a bunch of symptoms that we try to put a name on but, that’s pretty much all modern diseases. It’s like, “There’s disease, there’s dysfunction, there’s something that’s not right and we need to go back to right.”

There’s a continuum of all that stuff. If you’ve got certain blood sugar level, that’s not diabetes, and then at one point higher, “Okay you’ve got diabetes now.” It’s all on a continuum in a sliding scale. We just want you to slide back to where you are towards where your best day is, and then have your best day more often, and then shift that again. Many steps is a big thing. If people can say, “Do you sometimes I feel okay?” “Yeah sometimes I feel quite good.” “Well cool. We know that you can feel okay then, let’s just do that more often.”

The breathing .. The breathing and cold, I think is really valuable and, movement. Bringing some mobility in … I know people with chronic fatigue feel like they have no energy but, walking is so valuable. At whatever level you’re able to do. If you’re in water where there is no gravity, and being in that environment, and just moving; that circulation is going to be extremely valuable. You get that nutritious diet, you get the food coming into the system, you have the will to heal yourself and to be better, and then you circulate that and you do what humans have always done, you will [01:04:00] improve. I’ve seen it consistently and often. 

I have a lot of confidence that there’s always change. The body is always changing. There’s always possibility for us to reinvent ourselves. We reinvent ourselves every single day. We reinvent the whole system that we live in every single day. If we did everything differently then, their system would change overnight. That, knowledge of the ability to change as an individual, as a community, as a global community, I think that is something that we need to attach to and be empowered by. Empowering people that have whatever it is, chronic fatigue or other labels [inaudible 01:04:39]. Most common things that so many people are experiencing; dysfunction that shouldn’t be there. 

I believe that it can be undone but, it starts with empowerment. Basically the same steps, the same steps are going to be what gets you out of chronic fatigue but, they’re also going to be the things that take you to a lead performance. It’s mind, diet, movement, and then some recovery stuff. They’re the 4 pillars of what we do and the 5th thing is community. You can’t be successful, you can’t be high achieving, you can’t be super healthy without community. Social isolation is the biggest [inaudible 01:05:10] for disease. We have huge amounts of social isolation in the modern system so, getting around people who are doing great things and who have energy is going to be … That’s who you are. 

The Jim Rohn quote, “You’re the product of the 5 people you spend most time with.” It’s true but, people don’t take it literally enough. You are who you spend time with. If you want to get stronger, just spend time with strong people. Spend all day with them; I guarantee you you’re going to get stronger. You go and train in the gym where people are breaking world records, you may not break world record but, you’re going to be ridiculously ahead of the guy who’s training at a globo gym.

Stu:That’s right, yeah.

Keegan:Decide who you want to be and then go spend time with those guys.

Guy:It’s massive.

Stu:It’s proximity, isn’t it?

Guy:We’ve often spoke about that, haven’t we? From when we started 180, it’s like, “We  got to be around people that are going to inspire us and make us raise our bar over the years.” [01:06:00]

Keegan:Now the podcast has given you the chance to link up with so many great people and I’m really happy to join your list of guys. I love hanging out with you guys because you are these people. You’re the people who are doing something to make a difference in the world, you’ve got a business, you’re trying to fill in all the pieces of the puzzle; spiritually, physically … Great. Getting a great product out there. That’s who I want to be so, spending time with you is success for me. That’s progress, that’s what I want to be.

Guy:I appreciate it, Keegan.

Stu:That’s awesome. 

Guy:Mate, we have certain questions we ask everyone on the show before we wrap up. The first one you kind of answered, which was what did you eat yesterday? Which was …

Stu:It was nothing, was it?

Keegan:I had some charcoal, I had some clay, I had some tea. Tea is still in there for me.

Stu:What sort of tea did you have?

Keegan:-some level.

Stu:Green tea?

Keegan:I haven’t been having … I have had green [mate 01:06:53] tea twice. I like mate as well, [yerba mate 01:06:57] from Argentina but, yeah other ones as well, like ginger.

Guy: Can you explain the reason behind the charcoal? That’s just for people listening, just in case.

Keegan:Charcoal, activated charcoal draws out toxins. It had been used down the ages and it’s … It has an extremely high surface area to weight ratio, it’s a size ratio so, it’s gots lots of spaces for stuff to stick into. People with body odor and things like that will notice a difference with using charcoal. It’s used for flatulence, digestive issues but, when you’re detoxifying the cells are actually purging a lot of stuff that they want to get rid of. When you’re not bringing in protein, your cells will recycle any of the damaged proteins and get rid of them. I’ve also been having a sauna for half an hour. 40 to 50 degree heat to pull some more stuff out. Usually, you get headaches with that but using some things like the charcoal and the clay … I haven’t had headaches. Vitamin C and some antioxidant stuff.

Guy:How long you fasting for? [01:08:00]

Keegan:It’s been 3 and a half days now. I actually had a tea with a little bit of [inaudible 01:08:07] and a little bit of collagen just before I jumped on because I wanted to be at my best for this opportunity and I was really excited about it. It did seem to make me feel better. I was pretty weak and I think I’d have to go a bit longer to feel the buzz of fasting. It has felt good on and off but, just walking, walking around the block and walking up the stairs has been like, “Whoa, I’m pretty tired. I’m not doing it that well.” I think this is … My celebration from this will be having another tea like that. I’ll have some fat and protein over the next couple days. I did my ketogenic testing and I’m in the high range for ketones so, I think ‘ll stay in ketosis for a few more days.

Guy:Then introduce the foods back.

Stu:How do you test for ketones, Keegan? What method do you use?

Keegan:Ketonics device. If you go to Low Carb Down Under, they sell them on there. The breath one, there are urine and blood ones but, they’re very fiddly. They’re about 25 bucks so, not super cheap but-

Guy:Are they pretty accurate?

Keegan:The research is pretty good on them. That seems to be what a lot of the guys who love ketogenic life so …

Stu:[Jimmy More 01:09:20] is a big advocate for that one.

Keegan:Exactly. [crosstalk 01:09:25]

Guy:Okay. One other question. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? Or to give?

Keegan:You are what you think about … You are what you think about. That’s the strongest thing. It’s all through the Bible, it’s all through the [inaudible 01:09:41], it’s all through … Every holy text you’re going to see, the Quran, you’re going to see it from Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Tony Robbins, and all these guys; modern, ancient, they’re all saying … Make a decision, concentrate on what you want. Don’t concentrate on what you don’t want. [01:10:00] Interesting quote from [Bob Proctor 01:10:01] is that, “It’s between prayers that counts”, “Most people do their praying between prayers”, something like that.  You may pray, you may have that time of thinking, “I’m grateful and life’s good”, but in-between that is what’s going to be important as well. 

You need to be concentrating and doing the things that feed your mind, feed your spirit all through the day, and when you do that, when you set a focus, you can’t go wrong. If you look back at your life, I’m sure the things that you’ve focused on have happened. Almost everybody you talk about their day experience and you’re like, “What were you thinking about that time? What were you concentrating on?” When you have a bad breakup and whatnot, you just get stuck in that thought and you just stay on that though train and run it over, and over again and that becomes who you are for that period of time. Be careful what you wish for … That’s where we start. Think about what your best case scenario is, if you don’t have a best case scenario, where are you going to get to?

Guy:You’re kind of free-falling, right? Then, you don’t know where it’s going to go.

Keegan:People get jealous that I have a gym and that I have the resources to study under the world’s best people in whatever field I want to study; it’s a decision that I made. I wrote it down and I focused on it, and I’ve done steps towards it everyday for a number of years. If you haven’t done that then, don’t be jealous. Another great quote is, “Envy is ignorance” from Ralph Waldo Emerson. Don’t be envious, just go and get it done. Put your own drink down, don’t follow someone else’s dream but, make a decision and from there it’s going to be a better life. 

Guy:Great answer, mate. Perfect.

Stu:Wise words.

Guy:Yeah. I’m a huge believer in that. What’s the future hold, mate? Got anything exciting coming up over the next year, 2016?

Keegan:All the stuff I’m doing is really exciting for me. I’m going to present in Spain, an island in France later in the year. [01:12:00] By [inaudible 01:12:01] so, I’m really excited about doing things again. I went over there last year but, bigger and better this year. I’m bringing over {Mitch Bike 01:12:07], who’s one of the coaches who I’ve been working with for almost 2 years, a year and a half. He’s going to come over and present with me, which is another step in the chapter; having guys who are ready to have an impact, and who I really like learning from. That’s really exciting for me. Going towards [inaudible 01:12:26] and Fiji, having a facility in Australia to invite people into to experience the things that we do. That’s really what I’m excited about in 2016. Who knows what else is in store for me but, I know where I’m going to so, things are going to keep opening up to make that happen. 

Guy:Yeah, mate thats amazing, that’s exciting. Last question, Keegan Smith, where do they go to find you? You’ve got a couple websites?

Keegan:Yeah, realmovementproject.com is the best one. I used to work out of coachkeegan.com and it’s still got some stuff on there but I don’t use it too much anymore. Realmovementproject.com, Real MOVEMENT Project on Facebook, or coach Keegan on Facebook. Real MOVEMENT on [Insta 01:13:14].

Guy:Instagram I was going to say. If they want to see what I’m seeing everyday with you doing all these great feats of gymnastic abilities, that’s be on the Real MOVEMENT Instagram?

Keegan:There’s Real MOVEMENT [inaudible 01:13:25] and Keegan Smith is the one that I’ve had initially, that one’s almost up to 20,000 so, still keep [inaudible 01:13:31] that one along. Real MOVEMENT is catching up though, and that’s good to see as well. We have a summary of what I believe in because people say, “How can I start?” Not necessarily ready  to come an do an internship or whatever. I’ve written down 10 key principles that have been the things that have helped me change my life and helped me go from unhappy, unhealthy and having poor performance to somewhere close to the opposite of that. [01:14:00] 

I Choose Movement is a campaign that we’re running. It’s 10 key principles. Movement is part of that but a lot of it’s around other principles like, simplifying life and be careful of what information you bring into your mind, and how you’re exposing yourself, too. It’s the holistic thing, it’s what I think of being the most valuable for me to improve the quality of my life so, pillars of what I teach. That would be a great place if someone feels excited about some of the things they’ve heard today. That would be a good next step to build some momentum and really become who they want to become. 

Guy:Mate, that was amazing. We’ll link to all the show notes anyway on our 180 website so, they’ll be there is people are listening to them … come from there. Mate, thanks so much for your time, Keegan. That was phenomenal.

Keegan:Great speech. Really appreciate it.

Stu:Really excited about showing this because there’s some absolute gems of information there and I would people to connect with you because you’ve got a wealth of knowledge. Thank you again.

Keegan:Awesome thank you guys.

Guy: Thanks, Keegan.

 

 

 

 

Rohan Anderson: From a Corporate Lifestyle to Living off the Grid

Rohan Anderson

You can also listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE via iTunes.

Guy: For this week’s podcast episode, we decided to record it in audio only, as our guest lives in a remote part of Australia and we didn’t want to take the chance with internet quality. By doing this we are able to deliver great audio clarity without any dropouts.

Rohan Anderson A Year Of Practiculture

 

Eat well, Live Well. It’s that simpleRohan Anderson

Our fantastic guest today is Rohan Anderson. A few years ago he created Whole Larder Love which began as an online journal, documenting the story of a life change.

A significant life change for a regular person embedded in western society.

Rohan had a metamorphosis driven by a desire to alter his food and lifestyle choices. At the beginning, he was very unhealthy. Obesity, food allergy, anxiety, depression and hyper-tension where all part of daily reality (most of which he was medicated for).

His health concerns, a growing understanding of his environmental impact and the responsibility of being a parent, where catalysts nudging him to make deliberate change.

Today’s podcast is all about change. How we truly do have the power within us to change if we truly want it, and how the small changes can make a huge difference over time in our lives and others. Be inspired and enjoy!

Full Interview:

In This Episode:

downloaditunesListen to Stitcher

  • How he overcame obesity, hypertension, anxiety, depression
  • Making the switch from corporate world to rural life
  • Why he had to go through a great deal of pain before making huge changes
  • Why building his log cabin has been the most rewarding thing he has ever done :)
  • Rohan’s favourite & most influential books:
    Western Novels by Louis L’Amour
    - The Unprejudiced Palate by Angelo M. Pellegrini
  • And much much more…

Get More Of Rohan Anderson:

Leave a Comment

Full Transcript

Hey, this is Guy Lawrence with 180 Nutrition and welcome to today’s Health Sessions. I’ve come to the conclusion over the years that everyone’s journey when it comes to health, food and nutrition and exercise it’s almost like a spectrum. On one end of the spectrum I guess you could say you’ve got people that have never made the food-health connection before. Don’t really look at what they’re eating, if they’re eating processed carbohydrates, if it’s affecting their gut health and all sorts of things going on.

Actually for them literally it’s not buying some fast food and eating a bowl of edge instead. It could be a major challenge and then at the other end of the spectrum you got people that have been making tremendous amount of change over the years and forever evolving and learning. The one thing I’ve come to conclusion is to always keep a beginners mind and I try and have that approach when it comes to health nutrition and pretty much anything in life.

I only say these things because today’s guest, who I think is absolutely awesome, just a wonderful human being is Rohan Anderson. It’s safe to say he shares his journey today, which is being that full spectrum. He was that guy who was earning lots of money, corporate world, but very unhappy. He was clinically diagnosed obese. He said he had food allergies, anxiety, depression, hypertension. They were all parts of the daily reality and most of them which were medicated for as well. He just simply wasn’t happy.

Over the years he’s been evolving and making changes up to this point now where we have him on the podcast [00:02:00] today. He’s releasing a second health book which is called ‘A Year of Practiculture’. My copy is in the mail as I write this, because I’m very excited to get it because it’s full of stories and even recipes from a year of living a self-reliant lifestyle.
From going to being that guy, obese corporate to now becoming a self-sufficient person. Which that’s growing, hunting forage and healthy sustainable foods off the land. We are actually opted to record this podcast in audio only and not the usual video as well, because he’s in a very remote part of Victoria. We just wanted to make sure the sound quality was top notch.

In his own words as well he said, you could scream until he was blue in the face when he was that guy back when he was obese. He had to find the changes for himself. I know I can certainly relate that on my own journey when I think of certain family and friends. No matter what I say or do I don’t really change.

I’ve come to the conclusion that you can just lead by example. When people are ready to change they’ll make the change and start asking you questions and so forth. Obviously you can direct them then to podcasts like this. The one thing I have been finding helpful you might have heard me say on a couple of a few podcasts ago that we actually did a survey and we designed a quiz around that on people’s number 1 problems. Generally it’s normally revolving around weight loss. We look at these things from a very physical aspect and then as we start to change we then look deeper into it and then we really start to embrace the health changes.

If you are struggling with trying to get people over the line to make them look at their diet a little bit or their health, this is actually a great place to start. You [00:04:00] could send them back to 180nutrition.com and 180nutrition.com.au and there will be a button there saying, “Take the quiz” and that’s a great place to start. That’s designed for somebody that really hasn’t started their health journey yet. There’s a good video and there’s actually a really good introductory offer to help support people that want to make the change for the first time.

If you’re struggling and telling yourselves, you can use that to tell them for you. Take the quiz back at 180nutrition.com and .com.au. Anyway let’s go over to Rohan. This is a really fantastic podcast. Enjoy!

Hi. This is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke. Hi Stu.

Stuart: Hello mate.

Guy: Our awesome guest today is Rohan Anderson. Rohan, welcome to the show.

Rohan: Nice. Thanks for having me.

Guy: Just to put our listeners into the picture mate. We all met at the Primal Living talk last year in Tasmania, which I think now is over a year ago, so wow, time really flies.
I remember watching your talk mate and just absolutely being blown away by it and with your message, the story, the humor, the heartfelt-ness from it and it was absolutely fantastic. Believe it or not I’ve gone on and done a couple of talks since. I always take inspiration from that day Rohan. We’re very honoured to have you on the show today and looking forward to getting a little bit to know more about you and share with our listeners. It’s greatly appreciated mate.

Rohan: All right.

Guy: To start the show Rohan, would you mind just sharing a little bit about your story and the life changes you’ve made before you got on to a whole lot of love, just to give people a bit of a background.

Rohan: Yeah. It’s probably quite familiar to a lot of people. Middle class Australian working my ass off trying to earn as much money as possible to pay off [00:06:00] mortgages and car loans and credit cards. I ended up working about 6 days a week in a couple of different jobs and focusing on values in life that I thought were important. What took a back seat was the things that are important, which are family, health, experiences.
My body was a reflection of the way my life was. At that point in time I was morbidly obese. I had a whole range of different health issues and fairly common health issues that a lot of Australians have. I had hypertension, anxiety, depression, I had food allergies. Like I said before, I was disgustingly obese. I can say that, I was an absolute fatty.

What happened was there was a couple of different catalysts that made me look at my life, evaluate it and say, “I need to make some …” I realized I need to make some changes.
I think having kids and the realization that I was feeding my kids the same shit food that I was eating, gave me a large amount of guilt. That hitched out at me to want to make changes in what I was feeding my kids and then I was asking myself “Well, I want to feed my kids healthy foods and I should be feeding myself healthy foods.”

Then I started to do some trial journey of moving away from foods like chicken nuggets and takeaway foods and urban fries and moving into looking at cooking with whole foods, really, really basic stuff. Looking at cook books to begin with and actually cooking with ingredients as opposed to opening up a jar of tomato sauce and pouring over some pasta.
Then eventually [00:08:00] I took extra steps and started looking for organic produce, chemical free produce, local produce and in turn the more local the product the more seasoned it is, the more [inaudible 00:08:12].

Then from there I took an even one more further step and I started growing most of my own food. For my meat I became a hunter.

Guy: How long ago was this Rohan?

Rohan: I really don’t know. It’s been such a long journey now. I would say it’s probably … I do know I started writing a whole lot about 2009. I had previous to that attempted to integrate some of these stuff into my life, especially the growing of the vegetables. It was in the back of my mind, it was more of a hobby. I didn’t take it as seriously as I do now. Although even though I do take it seriously there’s quite a lot of farming.

Stuart: What was it Rohan that led you to explore that avenue as opposed to doing what most people would do in the modern world. They’d join perhaps Jenny Craig and go to the doctors and get some pills.

Rohan: I did both of those things. This is why it’s important to share my story, because I’m the same as everybody else, I just found a different solution for me. Everybody’s solution is going to be different. Initially I was about to take a flight to London many, many years ago. I went to my doctor and I said, “Look. Can I get some Valium? Because I’m not a very good [inaudible 00:09:43] my first long whole flight and sometimes I get a bit of anxiety.” He said, “Tell me more.”

He sat me down. It was like going to see a shrink. By the end of the session I was folding my eyes telling, basically admitting that I’ve been having these attacks for pretty much [00:10:00] in my entire adult life. He diagnosed me with anxiety and depression and I had all these tiredness issues and I was manic at times and all those sorts of things.
Straight away I was diagnosed with some symptoms and then I was medicated for. The same happened for hypertension with my very high blood pressure. You’ve got hypertension, you need to take these tablets.

That was my first step. Now that I look back at it, I think that’s great because what happened there was the medication gave me the ability to get some level ground and to find some peace and some consistency in my daily routine. Because prior to being medicated I was about to go nuts.

The other thing that I would mention as well is my wife convinced me to go Weight Watchers. I went to Weight Watchers and that was a great experience. It was very similar to an experience I had going to Alcoholic Anonymous.

The system that those guys have it’s so technical, it focuses on counting all these calories and grams and fats and bits of sugar. The amazing thing was that they told me. I said, “You should have a can of baked beans for breakfast.” Here I am having baked beans in newsletter. I was only [inaudible 00:11:20] sugar.

The point I’m trying to make is that the health profession is very, very quick to jump on the medication band wagon. I think there’s some value in that but there also should be value in looking at addressing the reasons why us western humans are in such a shit state in the first place.

Maybe to address, “Okay. Why did I work 6 days a week and want to earn so much money to buy stuff that I didn’t need?” Well, that’s because that’s what a middle class [00:12:00] western society expectations are. That’s the value that we put on ourselves and that’s the pressure that we put on ourselves.

Our health reflects that. We all work really hard and one could build [inaudible 00:12:11] everyone has got loans and credit cards and it’s so easy to get credit. Everyone is under pressure. All that pressure puts us and our health under pressure. Then we want these quick fixes to fix our health as opposed to addressing what we really need to do, which is a little bit of exercise and also eating real foods.

I heard the other day that the bestselling cook book at the moment is a green smoothie cook book. The problem with that is it’s the quick fix rubbish.

Stuart: It is.

Rohan: It’s constant. All those new different diet pads and different healthy miracle, I call it the Choo berry, which the fictitious miracle Guatemalan berry that you can cook with it. You can have it for breakfast. You can roast it. It does all these things. It’s everyone’s [inaudible 00:13:07] but the reality is all we need to do is go back in the past and look at what people would have been eating for thousands of years, which is plant matter, animal matter, a combination of the 2.

As far as processed foods go, people have been eating cheeses and breads, even culture is built on bread. It gets so brutalized bread, but human culture has lived on it for thousands of years. In some shape, way and form even the Guatemalan people, the local aboriginal people around here had often clouds of [inaudible 00:13:44] grass being bashed down with rocks to make little butter.

The reality is that’s plant butter, it is growing, it’s a seed. The same thing for all the stuff, the water [inaudible 00:13:56] any of those [00:14:00] bush foods. Our bodies have been designed to survive on plant and animal matter, not highly processed rubbish.

Guy: Rohan, something just occurred. Do you think you had to go through that pain and suffering to get to that point to make the changes? I see that in people around me as well, that I get a little bit frustrated with, but I can’t help or say anything because they’re on their journey.

Rohan: Exactly. I have just started a process of writing another book at the moment out of that exact frustration of being an advocate for making the social change in food and lifestyle for many years. I have this matrix movie moment where I came out of being connected to the system and I was a free thinking individual, as a free agent. I realized I could identify these are the problems we’ve been having in society with our food and our lifestyle.

Then everywhere I go, whether it be driving down the street or walking through a shopping center or something like that. I can see all these people and I’m absolutely frustrated. I just want to walk up to everyone and say, “Don’t you know what you’re doing to your body and do you know what you’re doing to the environment? You could be living this way. It’s fantastic.”

Having those situations and trying to communicate to everyone whether it be talks or workshops or demonstrations or whatever. I have found out that people do not like having a mirror. They do not like looking in the mirror and seeing the truth and seeing the reality. The only way most people come across this is whether or not they’ve got that intuitive and they’ve got that intelligence to pick up and say, “Hey, I’m going to embrace this into my life.” That’s a very minimal amount of the population.

Most people that make the big change in their life it’s usually some health and profession. I remember that talk in Tasmania. A lot of the speakers were saying, “Just [00:16:00] happened to know that blah, blah medical health problem happened to me. Then I made this challenge and then I did this research. Then I found out that salt is really bad in your diet or sulfur is really bad in your diet. The shampoo I was using is really bad for me.”
It’s not until people get to that stage where something bad happens to them that they’ll make a change. That’s exactly what happened to me. It’s the same thing. I remember and no offense to my lovely great grandmother. She was a heavy smoker, a heavy drinker, then got breast cancer. Her son, he was also a heavy drinker and a smoker.

He said, “I’ve been doing some research.” This is in the 1980s. He said, “I’ve got this, there’s this new diet will help you treat your cancer as opposed to chemo.” Guess what it consisted of, plant material and animal material. The stupidity was a lifetime of smoking and drinking heavily and eating horrible food and then to get to a point where you’ve got cancer that may kill you and then you address it. Unfortunately that’s what happens to most of us.

For me it’s an experience of having to take my top off in front of my JP and he measuring my waist line and my man titties. That was just absolute embarrassment of like, “I’ve let myself get to this stage.” It’s not an appearance thing, I think that’s very important. Body image and appearances are important to a certain extent, but it’s the health, how the body, they machines working.

I think for me though, you can’t deny when you jump on the scales and you weigh 180 kilos and you’re supposed to be weighing 85 kilos. You can’t find that disturbing and personally embarrassing. That was my big wake-up call and also the look on my face when [00:18:00] my doctor took my blood pressure. It was like I was a 60 year old man. He was in shock.

Stuart: It’s probably the look on his face when he took your blood pressure.

Rohan: That’s what I’m saying, it was the look on his face. Then I looked at him and his eyes bulged out of his head and like, “Oh shit man! Seriously.” He took my blood pressure about 4 times before he actually said anything. I said, “Is there something wrong?” He goes, “Yeah. We need to get you medicated straight away.”

Stuart: Oh, cracking yeah.

Rohan: That was because of food choices, lifestyle choices and stress. All those things I had to do [inaudible 00:18:43]. Everything is connected, it’s like all the biota in the world including us. We’re all absolutely connected to everything. We are one living, breathing organism. It’s the same thing, we’ve lost our choices. It’s our diet. It’s in that alcohol. It’s the drugs we take. It’s the food we eat. It’s the inactivity that we have and that’s the stress of our daily lives. It’s all integrated and joined and connected.

That’s why I can get absolutely frustrated seeing people in that hole. A lot of us are in that hole and that’s why I spend time communicating my message.

Guy: Just for the record Rohan, how is your health now since you made the changes?

Rohan: It took many years. I had this legacy weight to get rid of. The unfortunate reality is if you progress from eating high fatty foods or high salt or sugar foods, you initially lose a little bit of weight. Unless you incorporate some good cardio exercise, a bit of resistance training into your life, you have this legacy weight. Especially if you are overweight like I was.

That took me years to deal with. Then I was thrusting [00:20:00] to the spot light, because I was touring heavily. When you’re away from home you don’t have all the luxuries of your own food system back and forth. You make the choices the best you can, but often those choices or even those choices aren’t that good.

The good news is after I was medicated I think for about 8 years on antidepressants and anti-anxiety tablets and then I think for hypertension for about a year after that. Right about 7 or 8 years have been pretty heavy dosage medication. I spent a couple of years working with my JP to reduce that dose. For hypertension it was a matter of introducing some cardio training to lose some weight, which would knock a couple of numbers off the hypertension. Addressing the amount of salt I was putting into my food.

I left the high sodium processed food and then went to cooking. When you start cooking and you love cooking you add salt and so I had to address that. There’s been all these slow progressions and then the same with anxiety and depression. I think sugar has a really important role in anxiety and depression. With a little bit of research that I’ve done and also those other things about stress and lifestyle and a lot of the processed foods that make your brain go up and down every time.

That progression has been really good. Now I’m no longer medicated by anything. I used to take 2 tablets every day medicated for [inaudible 00:21:32] except for when I get a headache I’ll take a Panadol. I don’t weight myself anymore, because my clothes fit me really well. I have been to a pair of size 36 jeans that I haven’t won 5 years. I have been maybe about a month ago and for the [inaudible 00:21:50]. Because I’ve lost that much weight. I’ve gone from size 42 waist to a size 36. I’m very happy with that.

I’ve got clothes that I’ve had in [00:22:00] cupboard for years that don’t fit me. There already easily can fit, but they’ve been in cupboard so long they’re completely out of fashion. I’m not setting any fashion standards here, but the beauty is I’ve kept on to some of those clothes as my measuring stick for how my progress is going. Just for this interview I just jumped 4 kilometers and did my morning punches and push-ups. That’s it. That’s all I do.

I do some cardio, 5 days a week I do section of cardio and a little bit of a distance training in my house. I do a bit of bush walking. Last night I was out in the [inaudible 00:22:44] for about an hour, walking around chinning rabbits, that is about an hour of exercise. My wife has just incorporated all these exercise. I’m not very good at going to gyms, I’ve tried them before. I got really annoyed with gym men got pulled out for the pretty ladies.

I was just having a talk to my partner that she wants me to start doing yoga. I’ll do yoga if it’s just one other person in the room. I don’t want to be in a room with other people. I’m an independent person, I like to do things on my own. The point being is everyone has a different value of yielding and addressing this problem. Some people like to join jogging clubs, some people love to do all those group camp things or do Zumba.

As long as there is a little bit of cardio in your life, cardio relative to what your body can handle. If you’re 60 years old you don’t want to be doing too much Zumba. You need to do a little bit of [inaudible 00:23:43] walking and that would be enough cardio.

Stuart: That’s right. Thinking about our grandparents too. My nan and [00:24:00] granddad certainly wouldn’t have attended a gym. I don’t even think they would have thought about the word exercise. They probably didn’t even contemplate getting out and doing something every day. They just got on with their lives.

Rohan: Yeah. I think that’s one thing I do in talks all the time, is I tell people to go home and look at their grandparents. You will that people have got normal bottoms. Some of them might be thin, some of them might be a bit stalky, but there’s a bag of all people with obesity.

The reason being is because people walk to the train station, they walk to the train, they walk to work. When I went to work there was a lot more less robots doing the work in the factories, so people were doing physical lifting things, using their arms and their legs. Now more so there are people, like my job, pretty much most of my adult life was sitting at a desk typing on a keyboard.

As soon as I got that out of my life, which was about 3 years ago, every year I stopped getting those massive fluids that you get when you work in offices. I think also there’s something you said about being under the man-made life thing for most of the day and not getting that silent in your brain.

I just got to the stage where anything that was unnatural I wanted to minimize that as much as I could in my life. That’s exactly what people have been doing for years and years. I didn’t do it intentionally, it was just the way life was. People were much more involved in working with how their body was designed to operate. If you think about the ancient tribes of humans, running really, really fast for long periods of times was not on the agenda. They just weren’t for that. They were designed to do very fast running for very [00:26:00] short durations of time. That’s what our bodies can survive with.

That’s why you see long distance runners or people that have those really physical sports and they’ve all got injuries. The reason for that is their bodies were never designed to handle that pressure. They bodies were designed to walk great distances as nomadic tribes, pick up food along the way and that’s what our bodies were designed to. I try to immolate that in my life.

Like last night, walking around with a heavy 22 magnum riffle and carrying about 6 dead rabbits with me is exercise. That’s the exercise our bodies were designed to do.

Guy: What does a day in a life look like for you these days? Because obviously your life has changed dramatically from back when you had the corporate job and everything and the un-wellness to where you are today. Would you mind sharing a little bit about that change and what it looks like now?

Rohan: I think this as well, my life is relatively regular. The only thing is I do grow a lot of vegetables to feed the family. Over the summer period I do spend a little bit more time in the vegetable garden. I’d probably say maybe an hour, 2 hours in the vegetable garden. People go to church every week and no one complains about that dedication of time.
1 to 2 hours a week in the veggie garden. My hunting efforts are usually around autumn time where there is the ducks and the clouds and again to the bigger game like the deer. I fill the freezer so we can get through winter. Then in spring time I get out on the [inaudible 00:27:34] all the spring rabbits, because they’re fresh, they’re young, they’re healthy, they’re tender. That’s the best time of the year to be hunting rabbits, so I start hunting again. I haven’t hunted all winter basically.

I just got a phone call from a friend, the spring mushrooms have started. I’ll be hiking up the mountain getting mushroom soon. Like I said before, I spend a bit of time in the veggie garden over summer period. Then [00:28:00] in autumn I spend a lot of time in the forest picking forest mushrooms and teaching people hiking through the forest teaching people a lot of the side forest mushrooms [inaudible 00:28:06].

On a normal day I’m taking my kids to school. I’m getting my car fixed. I’m doing radio interviews and magazine interviews and stuff which is a job. I’ve got a pretty regular life. I just no longer have to be at an office at Miller Park and leaving 5:00 and ask permission to have days off. I’m a free man. I just made a decision last night that I’m going on [inaudible 00:28:32] to drive off. I can do that, I can make that choice.

I want to focus on writing my next book. I want to focus on my own mental, physical and spiritual health. I’ve just been on the road for about a month. I was doing public speaking for the book. I’ve noticed that I’m starting to feel a little bit worn out. I can make that call and say, “You know what, I’m going to focus on getting my head right, get my [inaudible 00:28:57].”

A lot of people laugh at this, but the older I get the more I realize how important my spiritual health. That’s having a sense of purpose. I’m doing things with a sense of purpose, feeling a sense of accomplishment, feeling all those things. People don’t like talking about it, because [inaudible 00:29:16].

Unfortunately if you look at a lot of other cultures around the world, especially the older cultures there’s that beautiful sense of spirituality and well-being that is very much a masculine and manly thing. I think that’s the kind that gets lost in this world of putting sports ball and masculine things and [inaudible 00:29:41] and stuff like that. We tend to lose that thing of we need to look after our mental health.

Look at the statistics of how any men have depression in Australia. It’s phenomenal. I think an important part of that is how we view ourselves, how we look at ourselves and how we address our own [00:30:00] mental and spiritual health.

Guy: People are communicating via social media these days. I wonder how often people have a proper conversation.

Rohan: I just turned Instagram off last night, but I’ve actually got to a point where I’m sick of that world I made a big break from it might be a week, it might be a month. I need a break from that because you’re exactly [inaudible 00:30:23] things get taken out of context. For some reason in social media people have this ability to say super nasty things that they would never ever say to a stranger on the street.

I love that, but people tell me that I’m doing it all wrong and they’ll say I’m an asshole, I’m a murderer, saying all these ridiculous things. They would never actually come up to me in the street and say that. Quite often I’ve had people very confrontational. I’ve said, “Okay. Let’s meet and talk this over” and then people just feel secure.

They don’t want real confrontation. It’s a lot easier to do the confrontation by social media.

Stuart: It’s interesting too thinking about the social media, because it’s the very devices that we’re connected to that seem to be taking us away from just that critical component which is engagement and conversation and community as well. Because if you hope on a bus these days, it’s almost silence but the buzzing and worrying and texting. Everybody has got their heads down 45 degrees staring at these screens.

I remember when we came over to Australia 15 years ago, I hoped on a bus coming from London. Just remembered that the whole bus was just engaged in conversation and happiness and I thought, “Wow! This is so unusual. People are really, really enjoying their time together and they’re talking to strangers.” Nowadays if you’re out and about and you’re waiting for somebody it’s almost habitual now to get this out and just tap away on it irrespective of whether [00:32:00] you need to.

Rohan: I’ll say that a lot in places like airports as well. Everyone is just staring at tapping. I’m trying to make an effort to distance myself from it as much. It’s very hard because it’s what keeps me connected with people. As now pretty much my self-purpose is communicating this message and it’s [inaudible 00:32:25] thoughts that I have.

That social media is very important to getting that message over to people. The feedback is really good. I get loads and loads of messages from people saying, “I went to your talk during the week and it was fantastic” or “I read your blog post and I’ve integrated this change into my life and it’s been very important to me and I just want to say thank you and stuff.”

On some level social media has this great power to influence social change. It also attracts some absolute whack job idiots that are quite happy to tell you what they want to tell you. I think that can take its toll on what I was talking about before spiritual and [inaudible 00:33:12].

I could get 1,000 really nice comments. There’s 1 nasty comment that I will get about some sort of topical issue that’s happened and then I’ll focus on and that’s it.

Stuart: Yeah, it is. You’re absolutely right. I was just thinking as well Rohan. How are your family with this journey as well of yours? They’re happily adopting everything that you’re bringing on board.

Rohan: Well, thankfully I’ve got young kids. My plan was kids kind of started off on really the food, my kids did not. I had to do an integration, transition time of integrating real food into my kids’ diet. They just diet off on chicken [00:34:00] nuggets and frozen chips and [inaudible 00:34:01] on soup. It has been quite a journey for the kids, but they’re there, they were eating the food. I’ve had to persevere with some meals and some ingredients. Not everyone likes eggs for example. You just have to try and find what the kids like and focus on those.

My kids understand since now we’re food which is really great. They understand and they look forward to when the tomatoes are back in season. They have an absolute understanding of where the meat comes from. They’ve seen me kill animals, dress animals, gut animals, butcher animals and then cook them. Most kids just see the cooking part, or the buying of the chicken from the supermarket and not actually seeing how there was a living animal.

I think that’s really an important part of the process of showing the kids where the food comes from then they have a better understanding. Then it’s just every day normal life for them. The other day my youngest daughter walked past me while I was plucking a chicken that a friend of a friend gave to me, they live in the city. It was a rooster and they were having a rooster in the city.

Anyway, so they gave me this bird and I reluctantly took it, because I have enough meat in the freezer and plucking chickens in a pain in the butt. That’s why I prefer to shoot rabbits. You can skin and gut a rabbit in a couple of minutes. You got to dedicate half an hour or 40 minutes process to do a chicken properly.

She walked past and she said, “Oh great. We’re having chicken for dinner tonight dad.” That’s where it’s at, at the moment. Some people think that’s barbaric and backwards. You know what? Humans have been living that way for many, many years and it’s only ion recent history that we’ve disassociated ourselves with where our food comes from. Since now …

Stuart: Absolutely.

Guy: I think that’s fantastic.

Rohan: As real food.

Guy: That’s right. There’s like a [00:36:00] veil, isn’t there, between us consuming the food and actually where it comes from. There’s this gap.

Rohan: Yeah. I think on top of that it’s even more scary is that … I’ve seen this in the supermarket. I love visiting the supermarket by the way. You see kids and they’ll be begging mom for these 100% organic fruit only, no additives, no preservatives, fruit juice in a little cardboard [inaudible 00:36:30].

You’re taking a couple of boxes there because you’ve got no preservatives and it’s organic. The problem being is, you’ve got the packing which has got a huge environmental cost and you’ve got that transportation, because a lot of that tropical produce is made from imported farming produce.

The bigger problem is the kid doesn’t have an association with its [inaudible 00:36:53]. It’s plum juice or blackcurrant juice, but that’s what it looks like.

Stuart: Totally. I had to laugh the other day, because I’ve got 3 little girls. Their local school has an environmental initiative. They have 1 day where they have waste free day. Essentially what they do is they’re not allowed any packaging or wrapping or anything like that. All they do is they get the food out the cupboards at home and they take the packaging and the wrapping off. They throw it in the bin and then they take it to school.

Rohan: It’s not really addressing the [inaudible 00:37:33].

Stuart: It’s not a solution and it’s a very low level awareness.

Rohan: Here’s a good one for you. My partner keeps going to a Vasco da Gama school, only one of a couple in the world of those schools. They have a nude food policy and it’s a vegan school, they have to bring vegetarian lunches to school.

There is not one single obese kid there. There is not one kid with food allergies there.

Guy: Nuts, isn’t it?

Rohan: Exactly [00:38:00] and they can eat nuts. Whereas at my kids’ school at the state school, there is obese kids, there’s kids with food allergies so severe that it’s nut in Sesame Street. Because there’s 20 kids out of the entire primary school that have an allergy so severe that they will go into cardiac arrest if they have these nuts [inaudible 00:38:26].
What’s wrong though is the primary school in a way is sponsored by McCain as a company. There’s a factory in that town. When they’re testing new products, if a family from the school takes the product home, test them and then fills out a survey McCain donates $10 for the school.

What hope have those kids got? Quite often kids have brought to school McDonald’s [inaudible 00:39:01] fish and chips, blah, blah, blah. Regularly from the parents to buy the food. That’s a reflection of how serious the serious the situation is [inaudible 00:39:13]. Even not from an environmental point of view, just in a nutritional point of view, that’s a really big problem that we have.

Stuart: It’s radical. I prepare the girls’ lunches every day. Of course I’m always met with a barrage of disappointment as I boil up eggs and I’ve cooked some meat and they’ve got some cheese in there and stuff like that.
In the playgrounds, and it’s chalk and cheese to where we used to be. You mentioned allergies and obesity and stuff like that. In our school when I was younger, I’m in my 40’s now, there was perhaps a token fat kid. Nobody knew what allergies were. Maybe you might go a bit [00:40:00] funny if you got stung by a bee, but food allergies, forget it.
Now, we’re in the same situation where a couple of kids in [inaudible 00:40:09] schools are so allergic that the whole school is banned from taking in the nuts and seeds and the usual suspects. If it’s in a packet it’s great, bring it in.

Rohan: Don’t you think it’s really interesting that we’re having this discussion. We acknowledge the fact that there are kids with such severe allergies that didn’t exist when we were going to school in the 1970s and ‘80s. Yet, what’s being done about it? Nothing. The foods are still on the shelves at the supermarket. It’s still part of people’s lives.
That’s one thing that is absolutely frustrating, is that we know that this food is causing nutritional and health problems yet the food still exist there. I think that’s our biggest challenge over the next couple of decades, is trying to communicate whether it be … I don’t think government is really going to give a crap. As the consumers all of the change that we’re going to make is going to be consumer driven. How do we make consumers change? With about providing information in a format that’s not going to intimidate or annoy anybody to say to say, “Look. This is what’s in your food. This is the problems it’s causing. To address this you can eat your food and then you can fix those problems.”
I did a talk in Queensland a couple of months ago. I got up on stage and I read out the ingredients of processed foods that are bought from the local IGA. I was going to get totally lynched in this country town. I just stood up there and I read it out and there was a couple of hundred people there with dump founded faces like, “What is he talking about?”
I read out, there was numbers and there was words I’ve never heard of before. I threw them off the stage and I said, “That’s not food and that’s what’s making us sick.” I was talking about [00:42:00] sulfites. Anyway a lady went home and she went through her entire cupboard, because her kid has got food allergies, aspirin and blah, blah, blah. It’s her entire cupboard.

She pretty much threw all the food out because everything had the preservatives 220 and all those. She wrote me an email and said, “I feel so guilty. I feel like I’ve been such a bad parent, because I’ve been buying all this food and I didn’t even know. I never ever thought to look at the ingredients.” I think that’s amazing and that used to be me. I never thought to look at the ingredients. I don’t know why. I was out of my mind.
Now when my partner buys … She wants to make some diet vows or something. In the habit of please check the sulfites. You don’t want to have sulfites in your food. It’s a whole food, it’s a diet. It’s got to be totally fine. No, it’s got sulfites.

Stuart: Yeah. It’s still tricky when you hit the whole ingredients. I think that’s a huge part of the problem, is the education from at least the parents’ perspective. They are losing grasp on skills and cultural traditions that their parents and grandparents had.
Because I remember my nan and granddad had a veggie garden and everyone had a veggie garden. We used to go down, when I used to go and see them on Sundays and I would help them pick their runner beans and their potatoes and carrots and pilled the sprouts and stuff like that.

They lived in a very long thin garden with no fences left and right. When you looked down you just saw veggie gardens as far as the eye could see. My parents we grew potatoes and stuff like that. Nowadays crushing, who in their right mind, at least in the city even considers a veggie garden? Because we’re in this convenience mind now, “Well, I can get my studs, my dates and prunes from Coles.

They have been tampered for shelf life and convenience and all the other gumpf. It’s these cultures and traditions that [00:44:00] we’re very much losing grasp of nowadays. Even cooking and meal times, again, which is where we communicate with the family and distress and really nourish the family is gone. A lot of this now is just put the TV on and chow down and stare at your mobile phone.

Rohan: That’s why I got rid of my television years ago. Because every time I used to get home from work it’s the first thing I turn on. Even if I wasn’t watching it, it’s just noise in the background and the kids [inaudible 00:44:38] or whatever. It’s been quite life changing.

I annoy people by telling them I don’t have a television. Who needs a television, if you’ve got a laptop, you’ve got a computer, you’ve got Instagram that’s all you need.

Stuart: Exactly.

Guy: Yeah.

Rohan: You can get all the world news off that and it’s done. Every time I’ve been on tour, like I said for the month [inaudible 00:45:01] alone watching television and sitting there and just laughing at what is on television. There’s some absolute rubbish on television. I think it’s not until it’s habitual to watch television and it’s not until you distance yourself away from it.

It’s not an arrogant thing, I’m a better person because I don’t watch television. It’s that there is a lot of rubbish on television that is making you buy crap you don’t need and eat food you shouldn’t be eating and consuming stuff you don’t need. That’s the whole purpose of television, it’s there to advertise.

Stuart: It is totally. Currently you could sit down and burn 2 or 3 hours a night. When you mentioned that you tend to your veggie garden, you might go for a walk. That’s valuable time that we could push in a different direction.

Rohan: Summer time is that beautiful time of the year where my family is outside until nightfall. It’s just kids are on the [00:46:00] trampoline or they’re playing some little game under the cypress tree. I’m in the veggie garden just hanging out. We tend to cook outside a lot in summer time. That’s really great family time, we’re all connected. We’re hanging out. We have a bit of cuddle with the kids and they go off. They get bored and they go play some game. Then they want to tell you about their game. It’s a much better life.

Stuart: Your kids will remember those times. They probably won’t remember watching episode 21 of the Simpsons.

Rohan: Exactly.

Guy: Exactly, yeah.

Stuart: You got a new book, ‘A Year of Practiculture’. I just wonder whether you could share with our audience a little bit about the book. First talk, what is practiculture, because I’m not familiar with that word?

Rohan: It’s really just a very easy way to describe my approach to life. One point you’re talking about your grandparents having veggies in their backyard. They’re all very practical skills. Cooking is a practical skill. Food preservation is a practical skill. All those things are all part of my life. I just wrote a [inaudible 00:47:10] practical skill. My life is practical and pretty much most tasks that I do they would be kneading bread ore baking some, raising some [inaudible 00:47:23] some vegetables or grilling some zucchini. All very practical task.

My lifestyle is based in that practical task and as it was in the past for many people. If you spend time say, somewhere [inaudible 00:47:43] in the rural areas there everyone is doing practical tasks. What my life is all about at a place talking about that present culture of doing practical tasks that have a great outcome for you that has food that is good [inaudible 00:48:00] [00:48:00] nutritional integrity. That hasn’t been tampered with. You’ve grown it all. You now have freshly. It doesn’t have chemicals in it.

You’re doing practical tasks that give you a little bit of physical exercise. Enough physical exercise leads to a little bit of spiritual and mental health, because you’ve got endorphins [inaudible 00:48:13] and that’s what practiculture is.

Stuart: Perfect.

Guy: Fantastic.

Rohan: I completely made up a [inaudible 00:48:20].

Stuart: I like it.

Rohan: I started with a mapping garden that turned to a workshop once and said, “Everything you do you’re so practical. You have a very practical culture.” He said, “Practiculture. You can use that” and I did.

Guy: I tell you it looks absolutely beautiful book. I’ve only seen the electronic version which was sent through the other week for the podcast. It looks stunning and I can just envision it as I sit on my coffee table and flicking through that and getting a lot of wisdom from what you’ve learned for sure.

Rohan: The thing is [inaudible 00:48:55] there are almost I think about 100 [inaudible 00:48:59]. There is lots of words in there and that’s the important thing. I actually got trimmed down by the publisher. I wrote so many words, because it’s telling the story of what happens in my life over a period of a year. Like when you asked that question before, what’s a day in the life of Rohan Anderson? Because more importantly, what’s a year in the life?

Because it runs on a cycle of using spring, summer and autumn to prepare for winter. That’s what the book is about. There’s all these stories and tales and thoughts all the way through the book that you might get an interesting read through.

Guy: Brilliant. What percentage of your foods come from your own efforts Rohan? Is it everything you do?

Rohan: Yeah. It’s either directly or indirectly, I would say. You’d be looking around about somewhere between 70% or 80%. I don’t churn my own butter. I don’t milk cows, so all the dairy comes from somewhere else. Pretty much most of the vegetables come from the [00:50:00] backyard.

If they’re not coming from my backyard I do a lot of trade, so [inaudible 00:50:05] I can swap with someone who’s been successful with the eggplant. A lot of trade is happening and I also hunt wild deer and I can trade with my pig farming friend for pork products.
Indirectly it’s somebody else who has produced that food, a friend of mine but I’m trading with something that I’ve done the practical task or I have butchered the deer and then [inaudible 00:50:35] then swap it for some bacon.

You’d be surprised how much food comes in through the backyard over the warm period at summer. It’s abnormal how much food you can get in the backyard.

Guy: Fantastic.

Rohan: Ranging from herbs and fruits and nuts and vegetables, we have a lot of stuff. If you’ve got a small backyard you may not get the great variety. That’s why say for example I’ll put it that [inaudible 00:51:05] fruit choice. I don’t have a great variety and all of my grape trees area all still immature. I think it’s ripe for this year.

I grow a lot of jalapenos. I’m really good at growing jalapenos in my [inaudible 00:51:21] tunnel and people love jalapenos. I can trade those jalapenos for cabbage. You know what I mean?

Guy: Yeah.

Rohan: Another thing that we’ve lost in that human culture is that the only reason we are so technologically advanced and we’ve built all these amazing infrastructure, human built environment is because we’re like ants. We work together as a team. That’s the same basic principle that I utilize with food acquisition. I can grow jalapenos. I can swap a bag of jalapenos for a kilo of prunes.

It’s a great working [00:52:00] together as community, that’s something that I’ve really fostered.

Guy: That’s fantastic. I instantly think of you almost teaching a retreat down there for city slackers that could come down and spend the weekend or a week and being taught all these things. I think so many people these days are just completely disconnected from how to do that.

Rohan: Yeah. I’m actually setting that up.

Guy: Oh wow!

Rohan: The nursery project which I attract that funding last year or the year before. This summer I’m starting to build a shed to run the classes. We’re going to miss the bud for this summer, but next summer we’ll have the kangaroo tents up and we’ll be having demonstration vegetable garden orchid. Then I’ll be adding classes and teach people the basics of my lifestyle. It’s not that matter of saying, “This is the right way, it’s the only way.” It’s more of a point of saying, “This is what I do. This is why I do it. If you want to integrate this into your lifestyle so be it.”

Guy: Brilliant. Stu are you going to say something?

Stuart: I just had a thought of you tending a chicken nugget bush out on your veranda, that kind of stuff. Just thinking Rohan, we’re in the city right now in Sydney and in an apartment. Obviously a lot of our friends and associates are living the apartment lifestyle as well. We don’t have access to garden, veggie hatch or green space that way. What can we do, do you think, right now just to make small changes?

Rohan: I get asked this question all the time and there are many answers. To begin with, if you were a person that was living in an apartment eating processed food. The first step would be moving away from [00:54:00] those aisles in the supermarket and starting to be attracted to the aisles where there is actual vegetables and fruit and meat. Then aside from that area and maybe buy some spices and some fresh herbs as opposed to processed herbs in a tube.

That’s the first step and that will give you a nutritional wing in a way. That will be the first step in improving your nutrition. You’ll really be controlling the amount of salt and sugar in your diet. You’ll be reducing the amount of preservatives in your diet and that’s a great thing.

By doing that you’re not really addressing the chemicals that are applied to the fresh produce. Where I live in summer time helicopters flapping in the middle of [inaudible 00:54:41] helicopters boom spray with these huge booms on either side of the helicopter. Come and spray all the food that ends up being sold to humans.

It’s to control the insects or the caterpillars or the other bugs. The problem being is a lot of this stuff is systemic. By saying systemic, it gets into the plant system. It’s gets into the fruiting body which ends up in the supermarket and then you eat it. The next step for the person living in the apartment in Sydney is to try and search as much as possible and consume further these chemical food.

That’s how food has been produced for thousands of years. Our bodies are not designed at all to deal with active constituents like [inaudible 00:55:23] and all those preservatives. The next step would be to look at chemical sprayed food. Even we want to take a next step further than that, would be I’m going to go for whole foods that are chemical free and they’re local.

This is an amazing phenomenon for me to actually have to point out those 3 things in this era is hilarious. Because in years past humans were always buying local chemical free and whole fruits.

Stuart: That’s right, yeah.

Rohan: The fact that I’m having an interview trying [00:56:00] to communicate that is an indictment on our culture.

Stuart: It’s absurd, isn’t it?

Rohan: It is absolutely absurd for me to be saying that. It should just be part of our everyday life. Taking it even a step further than that is things like say community support agriculture. There’s a great thing in Brisbane called Food Connect Brisbane. Basically what it is, it’s a website where 100 different farmers are all connected.

You go on the website as a consumer and you pick all the food you want to buy. That creates a manifest and the manifest is given to all the farmers. They pick the food. They kill the pig and make the bacon by the way and they’re delivered to that distribution center and then it gets sent out to you.

You’re supporting, you know who the farmers are. It’s all listed on the website. You know who the farmers are, you know where the food is coming from. You’re eating relatively locally and you’re eating in season. At times you can even click the dropdown menu and say, “I want mine to be chemical free or organic.” They are the other steps. You can use that technology if you like.

There are some other different systems and schemes that are similar to say like Veg Box systems. I offer one over the summer period where we sell a box of organic vegetables for one farmer instead of [inaudible 00:57:14] 30 years to families down in Melbourne. It’s simply people jumping on the website, they order the box.

It’s about 12 to 15 kilos of organic mixed vegetables. I’ll say that again. 15 kilos at peak season of organic vegetables for $55. I just want to say to people, do not tell me that eating organic is expensive. Find a better alternative than buying the expensive organic crap at the supermarket and you’ll still be eating organic.

To answer the question you used. It’s up to everybody to find their own answers if you want it bad enough. Say you’re obese. I was obese. If I wanted to not be obese bad enough that meant I had to go jogging. If you want it bad enough you’ll [00:58:00] investigate the answers that are right for you.

That’s the problem being is, we may have times when I present talk and people put their hand up and say, “How do I do this? Give me the answers.” The problem being is we’ve stopped thinking for ourselves. Everyone does the thinking for us. You get to that point where you’re like, “Oh God!” The answers are there right in front of you. If you want the answers you can find them. It’s almost like everyone needs a Yoda to tell them, “Ask many questions you do.”

That’s the amazing thing is that we’re always saying, “Well, how do I fix this?” That’s like me going to Weight Watchers and saying, “Look. I’m fat. Give me the answers. Tell me what I need to do.” I couldn’t think for myself. Now it’s gotten to that point where I’ve had that matrix moment and it’s like, I can’t stop thinking for myself.

Stuart: We use, strangely enough, exactly the same analogy of taking that pill and when you take that pill you realize that you are in a world surrounded by just absurdities wherever you look. People chewing on all these crazy plastic food and getting sick and taking pills and getting health spiraling out of control.

Rohan: Energy drinks. Do you see people drinking energy drinks? I want to go up and slap them in the face. I want to get the can and just crunch it on their head and say, “Wake up! What are you putting in your body? Do you even know what this stuff is?” It’s amazing.
Stuart: It’s the funny thing. Again, I was only thinking about the red bull phenomenon this morning as I was walking the kids to school. I saw this one young lad and he had a can of red bull. In England when we were younger, the fashion was you’d go out into the clubs and you would drink red bull and vodka. The downside was that you couldn’t get to sleep when you got back from the clubs.

When you actually pull those drinks apart and realize what you’re actually doing to yourself, it is red alert [01:00:00] for your body when you’re down in this nonsense.
One other thing I wanted to raise as well, because you were talking about spraying of fruits and vegetables and stuff like that. About 20 years ago me and my wife as we were travelling around the world we spent 6 months fruit picking in New Zealand on the south island. We picked cherries and apricots and had a great time eating all these fruit.
We did it for literally 5 or 6 months. At the end of the time when we were going to head off up north, there was a big meeting and a farewell barbecue. One of the guys came out and said, “I just want to make sure that all of you guys are aware that we spray all of our fruits and vegetables to keep the pests off. It does interfere with the female contraceptive pill. Just be mindful if any of you guys are in relationships. Your pill might not work if you’re eating our fruit.”

Rohan: Those are alarm bells. It’s like, we have this knowledge yet the [inaudible 01:01:01]. I often scratch my head and just say, “WTF.” It’s not just ignorance. We’ve got enough information. There’s enough in regards to nutrition. There’s enough books on TV shows about nutrition. We have the knowledge. It’s not that we’re ignorant about it, it’s we’re stupid. We can’t make the right decisions.

I don’t know how to change that other than having some personal medical drama and then saying, “Oh I’m on the side of the vegetables they’re not sprayed with chemicals.” I just don’t [inaudible 01:01:46].

Guy: Yeah, it’s a tough one.

Stuart: I think food is the right place to start, because when you’re fueling yourself and nourishing yourself properly you feel better, you sleep better and they’re not going to affect you because you start to make more informed [01:02:00] decisions. When you’re zombified it doesn’t work so well.

Guy: I’m just aware of the time guys. Rohan, what we do, we have a couple of wrap up questions we ask every guest on the podcast. The first one is, have you read any books that have had a great impact on your life and what were they?

Rohan: I like reading Louis L’Amour who is a western author. The reason why I love that is because you see the world and you can probably by the end of the podcast you’d be thinking, “This Rohan Anderson is an absolute nut job.”

You can see how absolutely stuffed the world is and it just gets really depressing. I read these old western novels. There’s hundreds and hundreds that’s written with the classic well known American author. The reason being is that at the end of the book the good guy always wins.

That’s what gets me to sleep at night knowing that there’s always lots of gun fights and punching and goodies and baddies stuff and that’s fine. I do love that. On a serious note about nutrition and food and all the things that I do now, there is a book that I always talk about called The Unprejudiced Palate by Angelo Pellegrini. It was written in 1948. This guy was an Italian immigrant in America that got frustrated with eating pretty blunt American food. It start off as more of culinary perspective of as a blindness in, “What is this cheese? This American cheese is disgusting.”

Being an Italian immigrant he reverted back to his roots in Tuscany and started growing his own food and hunting. The way the books is written, it’s not the best written book, but I found it super-inspirational many years ago when I was taking punch to … It was one of the books that got me even more fueled up about the need to be on that self-reliance train of growing my own food and hunting.

Guy: Could you repeat the name of the author and the book?

Rohan: The Unprejudiced Palate by Angelo Pellegrini. [01:04:00]

Guy: Perfect.

Rohan: The things is as well, beside this absolutely beautiful book it’s only $9.95 and it holds the biggest inspiration for me to get [inaudible 01:04:10]. I would love to buy a million dollars’ worth of it and just walk down the streets and just hand it to people, give them for free, like one of those evangelistic religious people. It’s a really inspirational book. The basic principle is about growing your own food and cooking. Not a lot of recipes in there, but the other thing that was important for me when I was very [inaudible 01:04:35] working 6 days a week, earning loads of money but very, very miserable worlds.
This notion that this guy had about the idea that you get to this great sense of achievement of planting carrots and the carrots grow up and then you cooked a meal with the carrots and it’s a great sense of achievement. I think even identifying that in 1948 it is groundbreaking, because in 2015 most of our lives are unfulfilling.

We go to work, we sit at an office, we get a salary. Then we take that salary, we go to a supermarket, we purchase stuff. We go buy a new car, we go buy a house. It’s unfulfilling. Our bills alone happened a couple of years back. It was the most rewarding experience in my adult life. I chopped down the trees, I skimmed the trees. I built the log cabin and then I smoked food in it with a smoke house.

That experience was basically a social experience for me. It was trying to complete a task. You start to fruition and then tell the story about it and see what people thought about that. It was quite an interesting experience. I think that’s something I was lacking. That book absolutely life change informed.

Guy: Brilliant. I’ll get a copy of that and we’ll definitely link that in the show notes. Last question Rohan. What’s [01:06:00] the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Rohan: I really don’t know. Best piece of advice? I think it was probably in regards to cooking. When I first moved out of home, mom taught me this basic recipe then I called it hers. She used a lot red wine. I was like, “You’re using red wine in cooking?” As such a simple thing coming from a young version of me that had never cooked in my life. The notion of cooking with alcohol to enhance the flavor and all that stuff, basically opened the door for me. If that’s possible, what else is possible?

I think for me was basically the development of my sense of independence and just a sense of trying different things. I write about that all the time. I share that I had victories when I try something that works and also I share in the fails. Being given that knowledge of using, this is how [inaudible 01:07:07] you have onions, you have the mints, but then you out wine in, then you put the passata in and then you put your herbs and then you let it simmer.

Just the amazing input of information which is quite trivial, which you put red wine into [inaudible 01:07:20] at the time, I just remembered how groundbreaking that information was. Which then made me thing, “You know what, what else is possible?” Each of the [inaudible 01:07:29].

Guy: Bloody awesome. For anyone listening to this, would like to know more about you and get the book as well. What would be the best place to go Rohan?
Rohan: You can go to any good bookstore in Australia or New Zealand at the moment. US releases are out for next year, but you can also go into a whole lot of love come and buy directly to me. If you do I’ll give you the [inaudible 01:07:51].

Guy: Fantastic mate. Mate, that was absolutely brilliant. Thank you so much for coming on today and sharing your [01:08:00] journey. That was just simply awesome. It’s greatly appreciated. Thanks Rohan.

Rohan: All right thanks guys.

Stuart: That’s awesome. Thanks again Rohan.

180nutrition_quiz_blog_post_button

Are Grains Really The Enemy? With Abel James…

The above video is 2:38 minutes long.

Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.

Are grains really the enemy? Who better a person to ask than a guy who’s interviewed hundreds of health leaders from around the world and walks his talk when it comes health and nutrition. His answer wasn’t quite what we expected! Hence why we loved it and it’s this weeks 2 minute gem.

abel james fat burning man
Abel James is the founder of ‘The Fat Burning Man’ show. A health and wellness podcast that’s hit No.1 in eight different countries on iTunes and gets over a whopping 500,000 downloads each month! It was fantastic to get the laid back Abel on the show today to share with us his own personal weight loss story, his discoveries, the trial and errors and the applied wisdom of others.

To sum up Abel James in his own words: My goal is to create a place where people can have spirited discussions and debate about issues that truly matter – not just fat loss and fitness, but ultimately health and quality of life. I also feel obligated to expose the truth about nutrition, fitness, and health so that people are no longer reliant upon deceptive marketing practices, misleading corporate propaganda, and powerful special interests that have accelerated the worldwide obesity epidemic and health crisis.

Full Interview: Lessons Learned From Becoming The Fat Burning Man


In This Episode:

downloaditunesListen to Stitcher

  • Abel’s journey from being overweight to becoming the ‘Fat Burning Man’
  • What the body building industry taught him about weight loss
  • His thoughts on grains and which ones he eats
  • How to manufacture a great nights sleep!
  • His exercise routines & eating philosophies
  • Abel’s favourite books:
    Chi Running by Danny Dreyer & Perfect Health Diet by Paul Jaminet
  • And much much more…

Get More Of Abel James:

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Full Transcript

Guy Lawrence: This is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition and welcome to today’s Health Sessions.

So, as you can see, if you’re watching this in video, I’m standing here at Mcmahons Pool here in Sydney, which is a pearl of a location and I quite often find myself jumping in first thing in the morning. The water is cold here in winter in Sydney, although the sun’s shining, but it’s a great way to start the day nonetheless.

abel jamesAnyway, on to today’s guest. I might be a little bit biased but I think this show today is fantastic and we’ve got an awesome guest for you. And he has a podcast himself, and I reckon he has one of the smoothest voices that is just designed for podcasts and radio, I tell ya. And that might even give you a clue already.

Stu often says I’ve got a face for radio, but I don’t know if I’ll take that as a compliment. But anyway. So, our guest today is Abel James, AKA the Fat-Burning Man. And if you are new to this podcast, definitely check it out. I’ve been listening to them for years. And Abel has had some fantastic guests on the show, as you can imagine, when you’ve been doing a podcast for over four years.

And we were really keen to get him on the show and share his experiences with us, because, you know, once you’ve interviewed that many people and some absolutely great health leaders around the world, you’re gonna pick up on what they say, their experience, and how you apply it in your own life. And we’re really keen to find out from Abel why he does, you know, because he’s covered, obviously, topics on mindset, health, nutrition, exercise, and what are the pearls of wisdom has he gone and taken over the years of experience and applied it. And some of the stuff what he doesn’t take, you know, take on board as well.

So, Abel shares all of that with us today, including his own story. Because Abel was once overweight. He’s looking a very, very fit boy at the moment, just from changing his nutrition.

So, anyway, that’s what you’re going to get out of today’s show and it’s a great one. So, it’s a pleasure to have Abel on.

And also, I ask for reviews, you know, leave us a review on iTunes if you’re enjoying the show. Subscribe, five-star it. You know, let us know where in the world you’re listening to these podcasts. I think we’re in 32 countries at the moment or maybe even more getting downloaded. So it’s pretty cool. And we always love to hear from you, so, yeah, jump on board and of course drop us an email back at 180Nutrition.com or .com.au now.

So, let’s go over to Abel. Enjoy the show.

Stuart Cooke: Guy, over to you.

Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke, as always. Hey Stewie.

Stuart Cooke: Hello, mate.

Guy Lawrence: And our fantastic guest today is Abel James. Abel, welcome to the show.

Abel James: Thanks so much for having me.

Guy Lawrence: Now, you will have to forgive us this morning, mate. It is very early in Sydney. So, I’ve never seen Stu up at this time of the morning, I think, so it will be interesting to see how he responds.

I’m just kidding. Come on.

Yeah, look, obviously we are big fans of your podcast. It’s great to have a fellow podcaster on. And what we were curious about, just to get the ball rolling, is I guess a little bit about your journey and what got you into podcasting and what let you to that. Because you’ve been doing it awhile now.

Abel James: Yeah. Well, the podcast itself kind of comes out, or it comes somewhat naturally, because I’m a musician and have been doing that for a very long time. So, you know, I had a blog, and this was, I guess, like, four years ago when I first started Fat-Burning Man.

But before that I worked as a consultant with some companies in the food and beverage industry right after I got out of college. And so I’d actually been blogging about health for many years before that, but anonymously. My site was called Honest Abe’s Tips. And it was a picture of, like, this digitized Abe Lincoln peeking out from behind the laptop.

But then with Fat-Burning Man, I realized that when I went through my own struggles with health, basically, I got fat and old and sick in my early 20s and didn’t want to keep being that way. So I kind of turned things around and found that it was a lot easier and more straight-forward and simpler than almost anything I’d ever read had made it out to be, you know, in the fitness magazines and the media. Even some of the science.

And so I started this up and realized that, you know, if I were looking at a fitness book or a fitness blog or something like that, first thing I’d do is, like, turn around, look at who’s writing it. Like: Are these people actually living it? Are they following their own advice?

And so I figured, you know, it’s the internet. Let’s just put it all right out there. And so I came up with this ridiculous Fat-Burning Man, like superhero type thing and just wanted to make it about being positive and showing that you can be happy and healthy at the same time. Because so much of the messaging, especially then, but still now, is that you need to be hungry and miserable and punish yourself. But you really can have a more holistic approach. So, that’s what I try to do.

Guy Lawrence: Did you ever imagine the Fat-Building Man would take you on this journey to where it is today? You know, when you started.

Abel James: You know, it’s so funny. Because now it kind of sneaks up on you a little bit. You know, like, I was just out at a health food store here in Tennessee and like within five seconds of walking in, someone’s like, “Abel! Hi!” We just moved here and that just happened in, like, New Orleans, in California. And so I don’t even realize how many people are listening but I’m so glad that they are, because when I first started it was just me talking into a microphone and hoping that people would listen and trying to get this message out there that was different and still is kind of different.

Because most of the stuff you find in health, and I’ve had to learn this the hard way, is not health information. It’s marketing propaganda. You know, designed to sell you supplements, shakes, consumables. Whatever they’re selling you is usually kind of, like, disguised in something that’s information. And that information is hurting people.

So, I wanted to just be totally open about all this and say, like, “These are the things that we think might be right, but we’re probably wrong about a bunch of stuff. But that’s definitely wrong over there.”

Guy Lawrence: That’s awesome. That’s awesome.

Stuart Cooke: So, when you mentioned that in your early days you were fat and sick and things just weren’t working out for you, do you think that was particularly diet-based?

Abel James: Yes. Absolutely. Because basically what happened is I grew up, my mom is a holistic nurse practitioner and an herbalist, and I was raised eating from the back yard. And we had fish sticks and stuff like that, too, sometimes, but it was; I had a very strong education in eating naturally, from the real world, back then.

And then, for me, like every teenager who wants to prove that there’s a better world out there than the one that they came from or whatever, to pay off my loans I got this big, fancy job in consulting and I got this big, fancy insurance that came along with the consulting job. And I’m just like, “All right. I’m gonna find the best doctor and listen to his advice and take his drugs and do his thing.”

And so I did that, and it was… You know, when I first walked in, he’s like, “What is the family history?” And I said, well, you know, there’s thyroid problems, most people gain weight as they age, my grandmother has high blood pressure, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

They looked at my blood and they’re just, like, “OK, well, we need to put you on a low-fat diet right away.” And, you know, zero dietary cholesterol and the whole… you guys are familiar with how that works, I’m sure.

And so I got that whole spiel and I’m like, OK. Well, if that’s gonna help me live longer, help my heart be healthy, and basically guarantee that I’m doing the right thing, then let’s do it.

Except it didn’t really work out that way. You know, for the first time in my life… I was always athletic and I love fitness and just getting outside, going for hikes or runs or mountain-biking. Whatever. And so I never really had a problem with weight. And all of a sudden, it’s creeping up, and it wasn’t until my boss made fun of me for being fat that I realized that I was, like, “Oh. This is fat.”

Stuart Cooke: Yeah. “There’s a problem.”

Abel James: And I wasn’t, like, massively overweight. But if you imagine me with less muscle and 20 pounds of flab, then all of sudden you kind of look like someone who’s much older than you actually are. And certainly not thriving anymore. Not athletic.

And I always want to be the best at whatever, so I had to turn that around.

Guy Lawrence: Was there any, like, little tipping points with books or information that made you sort of go, “I’ve really got to start delving into this” and looking down that path?

Abel James: Well, yeah. For me… So, I’m pretty narrow-focused a lot of the time and my focus then, when I first got into it, it was my first job, you know. My first real in-the-workforce job. I worked with my dad growing up and in restaurants and stuff. But this was the first thing I was taking seriously. And so I just wanted to pay down my debt as quickly as I could so that I could be free to do whatever more passion-based stuff.

And then I, basically, like, a little bit at a time saw that it wasn’t working. But I had outsourced it from my own brain, you know? I had always focused on being fit and athletic and running a lot, whatever. But it kind of like got away from me, because I was working so hard doing something else that was kind of like stealing my attention. And then it wasn’t until that comment and a couple of other things happened that I was just, like, “Oh. I guess I’ve got to focus on this.”

Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Yeah.

Stuart Cooke: So, for all of our listeners, and your listeners as well, what did you focus on and what did you change?

Abel James: Well, it was interesting, because I grew up, my brother is about five years older than me, and I watched him go from… he’s a little bit obsessive and he watched Pumping Iron, the Arnold Schwarzenegger bodybuilding classic movie of the ’70s. He watched that for the first time, and I watched him over the next few months go from 155 pounds to well over 200; up to 220 of just solid, massive muscle.

So, that; it was in the back of my mind. I think sometimes you need something crazy like that. You need to see it happen in front of you before you really believe that it’s possible. You know what I mean? And so I hid that in back of my mind.

And so I always knew that you could do stuff that didn’t make any sense and it would kind of work out. And he did a lot of things that, dietary-wise, who knows what he was eating but it certainly wasn’t healthy. It was very different from the foods that we were eating.

But it was more generous with fat and protein and lower on carbs and kind of like counter to everything that I was told was healthy. And so I saw that whatever I was doing was not working. So I needed to do something different. And I was just like, well, why don’t I just flip it on its head and get some of the fats up there again and take down the carbs, take down the processed food, just kind of look at… I was looking at ketosis, cyclical ketogenic dieting that the bodybuilders were doing in the ’60s and ’70s, and it was like, you know they’re eating 26 eggs a day. Or drinking two gallons of milk a day. Or just chugging heavy cream. And getting down to 3 percent body fat. And for someone who had too much body fat, I’m like, “That’s interesting. I gotta try that.”

Stuart Cooke: Absolutely.

Guy Lawrence: It happened for us the same, because I worked with mainly people with cancer about 10 years ago and I used to do the weight-training programs for them. And it literally started from a bodybuilders’ diet. They got them on a ketogenic diet and weight-training, and that was the first time I was exposed to a high-fat diet, and back then I saw the results too. You know, it was quite remarkable, and their health, everything gets turned on its head overnight and you’re, like, “My God, I’ve got to tell the world.”

Abel James: It’s very bizarre. Because it should kill you, right? According to everything that the doctors tell you. That should just put you straight into a stretcher or a coffin or whatever.

Guy Lawrence: Absolutely.

Abel James: But oftentimes it does the opposite.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah. So, with all your guests and podcasts, there’s all these amazing people you’ve interviewed and things like that. Any pearls of wisdom that have stood out or guests that have jumped out at you? It’s probably quite a big question but…

Abel James: I look for the things that… Well, I should just say, even the people who come on my show, which are, like, curated (to a certain extent), by me, they have to go through some sort of vetting process. They love to disagree about a lot of things. And for me I just try to keep it on point, step aside. I’m not gonna be combative even if I disagree with what they’re saying. I think it’s really important to see the richness of experience in people who are getting results.

And so I look for the things that they agree about. And there are very few. But number one is that everyone should be eating more leafy green vegetables and colorful vegetables, especially the non-starchy kind. And almost everyone agrees on that. Pretty much 100 percent.

Yet, almost nobody does it. Even the people who are, like, super paleo and super healthy or whatever. They’re more, usually, obsessed with the latest gadget, pill, carb-backloading approach, like new things that… I just had Kiefer on, I have a lot of people on with kind of like new spins on whatever. And so people get obsessed with, like, the new spin instead of having a salad. Which is like… So, one of the things that I try to do is encourage people to do the simple things that we already know, because it’s really easy to ignore that.

Or, if you go and you’re paleo and you’re really excited about it and you’re getting all these results and you’re doing CrossFit and then you go and get a paleo treat or whatever from the grocery store, because now you can find those, at least in America. And, you know, all of a sudden you take down 25 grams of sugar without even realizing it. But it’s “totally paleo” because it has honey in it. Wait a second!

Stuart Cooke: Yeah, half a jar.

Abel James: That kind of goes against the whole thing. So, I try to make it simple for people and more habit-based. More like, my background’s in brain science and psychology so I try and take it from that angle where, like, you guys know: If you’re training people or if you want to achieve something in your own life, it’s not really about the information that you have as much as, are you doing it. Right? So, I really try to focus on getting people to do it, making that easier and more simple.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah. You always find you can go on these crazy paths and you always get back to basics. Just keep it very simple.

Stuart Cooke: I think those basics generally come back to how our grandparents ate as well. It’s, like, super simple, really.

Abel James: It was wonderful. Beautifully simple.

Stuart Cooke: It’s it? Yeah. It couldn’t be more simple, yet in other respects it couldn’t be more complex with all this crazy info out there.

Abel James: Especially today.

Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Totally. So, over here we had quite an interesting article that came out in the Sydney Morning Herald about grains and bread and how everybody’s becoming more resistant to gluten and they’ve got intolerances and sensitivities to everything under the sun.

In your opinion, are grains the enemy?

Abel James: That’s a great question. I think they’re one of the enemies, yes. But that’s more a function of the fact that we’re eating grains in a way that we never ate grains before than the fact that they’re grains, if that makes sense. So, what I mean by that is if you take a chicken and then breed it to have certain characteristics like having breasts so large that it topples over or breaks its legs like most of the turkeys and poultry we have and then you inject it with a bunch of antibiotics and, you know, feed it with poison and whatever else. It’s not the same chicken that our ancestors would be eating.

And if you take wheat and, over the course of time, you breed it to make sure that it’s well-adapted for transport, ready for harvest months before it would have been otherwise, and basically mutate it and change it into something that it wasn’t before, it’s not the same wheat either.

And so what we do with that wheat, for example, is then, if that weren’t bad enough, kind of like mutating this thing into something that’s bred not for your health but for basically industrial efficiency, then you throw it through all these industrial processes, like grinding it into this really, really fine powder and not allowing it to ferment on the stalk, which releases enzymes to make it digestible, and then you let it fester on a shelf and get old or whatever, but it’s so irradiated and processed that you barely notice that the food is so spoiled.

It’s not the same thing as eating wild rice like Native Americans did here, especially in the Southwest. And you can you still, though, my wife is from Arizona, so we go there quite often, you can go and get, like, Native American wild rice and eat that.

So, if you compare that to, like, Uncle Ben’s rice, a brand we have here which is basically like processed white rice, not the same thing. So, we do eat some grains, but it’s in an entirely different way than almost everyone else eats grains these days.

Stuart Cooke: Yeah, totally. No, that’s a good point. I read, a few years back, a book called Wheat Belly, and it really does kind of open the lid on the wheat industry. And, crikey, you really do think twice.

Abel James: It’s hard to get away from them.

Stuart Cooke: Very, very hard to get away from them. Unless, of course, you eat like your grandparents ate and then it’s actually a little easier to get away from… putting labels on vegetables.

Guy Lawrence: What are your thoughts on… Because I struggle with wheat and gluten and a big thing for me has been looking at food sensitivities over the years, and allergies. What are your thoughts on that? Have you personally looked into that?

Abel James: I have. It’s interesting because we don’t know how reliable it is. Especially… food allergy testing is one thing, but food sensitivity testing is quite another. And so for me, there are so many different variables but I’m trying to get better and better.

And a few years ago I had… Probably about two years ago, at this point, I remember I talked about food sensitivity on the podcast with Dave Asprey, the Bulletproof Executive guy, who just loves testing of all kinds. And so we went through various things that I was supposedly reacting to. I did the tests again about a year after that and most of the things had gone down. A couple of them stayed up. And then there was a new one, like pinto beans or something else I “highly reacted” to. Whatever.

And there were some other unfortunate ones that were, like, paleo foods. Like olives. Olive oil. And honey. From the first test. Those seemed to kind of stay elevated. And then I took it again about three, four weeks ago and I’m reactive to almost nothing now.
So, from my own personal experience, it’s been interesting to look at that because I love science, I love numbers, I love personal experimentation. And I don’t know what’s going on with that. I can say that I’m pretty happy about it, but I don’t know if it kind of like invalidates the tests that were done before. Because one of the arguments against it is that it kind of just counts the stuff you’re eating too much of anyway.

Guy Lawrence: When, like, the olive oil and honey came up on the test, did you then avoid those foods?

Abel James: I did. I avoided them, not completely, because it’s really hard to eat a salad anywhere that’s not your own home without olive oil or GMO oil or whatever else. And so basically if someone knows that you’re paleo or gluten-free or healthy-conscious, then they’re giving you honey and olive oil and… mushrooms was another one that came up.

Yeah, so, kind of bizarre things, especially considering how healthy those things are normally and how much they would be included in almost any meal that you eat out. You don’t really think about not eating something like mushrooms, right? Or olives. But once you have to look for that, it’s in everything. You can’t believe it. It’s just hard to get away from.

But, yeah, I definitely; I went from eating those things on purpose to eating less of them or basically not forcing myself to eat those foods anymore. And that seemed to do the trick.

But gluten is one that we’re not really sure if it’s the gluten itself or just the wheat being so manipulated and so low-quality that that’s hurting us. But there’s something in modern wheat that’s terrible for us. It might be the gluten. Some people are definitely allergic to it, flat out. Other people are kind of reactive to it or whatever. But I just avoid it, pretty much at all costs.

Guy Lawrence: It’s interesting. Like, Stewie, had the short straw when it came to sensitivities tests. He came up eggs, glaringly.

Abel James: Oh, no.

Stuart Cooke: One of these things. And I was loving my eggs. I’d eat two, three, four, five a day, which is great. But then I also do wonder whether worrying about the foods that you shouldn’t be eating, worrying about all these crazy diets, you know, does more hard than good. Can it actually then evoke food sensitivities because your cortisone levels are going crazy.

Abel James: Right.

Stuart Cooke: You know, it’s just insane. I’m wondering, from your perspective, how important do you think it is to try and unplug or really work on stress management as part of your kind of holistic approach to health?

Abel James: I think it’s the number one thing that people don’t really talk about. Because it’s not that sexy to say, “Sleep. Go to sleep early.”

“Don’t get stressed out. Meditate. Chill out. Take a walk. Take a vacation.” It’s really easy to say those things. But it’s like eating a salad, right? We all know that that’s exactly what we should be doing. The problem is that we’re not doing it.

And so, yeah, I mean, one of our secrets, why we “look and feel so great all the time and always have this energy” is because we go to sleep, like, way earlier than most other people. And we take flak from it sometimes.

But, at the same time, when you show up to a… So, we go to a lot of, like, health masterminds and stuff like that with a lot of the other big names in the field. Stuff like that. And I can tell you, these people are just, like, running themselves into the ground, a lot of the time. And they’re not really sleeping. They’re kind of compensating.

And we’re ready to rock, and usually, like, we’ll go out and party and hang out with all these people because it’s so much fun. We don’t really get to do it that often. And so you see just the huge tax that running; that basically doing too many things at the same time doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, if you’re in health or not, it’s beating you up and it will get the best of you at some point.

And so the really boring things that we do every day are the things that really matter. So, like, for instance, my wife and I, we wake up every morning, we do Qigong. We’ve been doing that now for a few years, I guess.

Guy Lawrence: Can you explain that?

Abel James: Qigong, or yoga, which is like tai chi, and so it’s basically fluid, kind of almost active stretching type movements. Balance and stretching. And then we meditate for, not necessarily very long, 10, 20, minutes. But we do it every single day. And we tend to wake up fairly early and we go to bed early as well. With some exceptions, but not very often.

And it’s the things that you do every day, if you’re in the habit of slumping on the couch after a hard day of work and then you have a beer or two every night, that’s a lot of beer. It compounds.

But if you, every night, you have tea or something like that or you just relax, you have a glass of water, you hang out, you relax, you slow down, you get some sleep. And then on the weekends you go out and you have too much wine or you have a few beers, totally different thing. You’ll probably get away with it, because it’s not the thing that you’re doing every day. Right? That’s the exception.

So, you have to kind of like train into yourself the right habits that are automatic that aren’t getting the best of you. And part of that is definitely tuning down the stress. Because we’re all, like, with the amount of technology that’s around us these days, we’re all totally cranked out of our minds.

Stuart Cooke: We’re plugged in, aren’t we?

Guy Lawrence. Massively.

Stuart Cooke: Do you sleep well?

Abel James: Thank you for asking. What a sweet question. I’ve been doing interviews all day and that’s the sweetest question I’ve gotten.

Stuart Cooke: This is the million dollar question.

Abel James: Yes. I didn’t used to. I used to have a lot of trouble sleeping, especially staying asleep around the morning. It was like I would wake up, it didn’t matter how late I had stayed up the night before… As a musician, my gigs would start at midnight and I’d have to play under three or something and then go to bed at 4. But I’d always wake up at 6 or 7 and again at 8:30, even if I was trying to sleep it through.

But these days, I think a lot of it has to do with how we time our carbs and starches, which is almost always in the evening. And we eat very lightly or kind of like fast most of the day and then we have a big feast at night, pretty much.

And so we have a compressed eating window. And saving the brunt of our calories and food for the evening seems to slow you down and put you in digestion mode at the right time, especially if you are staying… There are other things where we stay away from alcohol most of the time. On the weekends we go out, have some fun, whatever. But pretty much every weeknight we’re not letting that disrupt our sleep. Because science shows that there’s no getting away from it. If you drink alcohol, it’s disrupting your sleep patterns for sure.

And if you stay up certain nights really late and other nights try to go to sleep early, that messes with your clock, too. So we stay on a nice, steady clip of sleeping and waking up in the morning.

And I don’t do well on very little sleep. I’ve always know that about myself. I think it’s one of the reasons that I do well, succeed, is because it’s something I’m obsessed about. Other guys, like, as a musician, you go on tour or whatever, other guys are staying up all night. It doesn’t really seem to be a problem. It is a problem, like, if they actually looked at it, but it affects other people less than it affected me, it seems like. So, I’ve always just made that the one thing that I do. I sleep, and it’s important.

Stuart Cooke: Any particular gems or strategies or hacks that you can share with everybody right now?

Guy Lawrence: You love the sleep topic.

Stuart Cooke: Well, I, crikey… this is my topic. And I’m fanatical about sleep. But always interested in, you know, it could be the tiniest little thing that you do that makes the hugest difference, and of course sleep is the number one. You can be eating like an absolute prince, but if you don’t sleep, then you’re not recovering or restoring; all of those things.

So, any little gems that you could share with us right now to say, “These worked for me”?

Abel James: Well, I think you touched on something that’s really important. Sleep should be time for recovery. And what that means to me is that almost every day I do kind of like micro-exercise, where I’ll do five to 10 minutes of an exercise pretty much every day except for Sunday. And I put that in the morning. So, I do my exercise like first thing, gets my blood flowing, and by the end of the day I’m tired and I want to go to sleep. And so I honor that.

If you try to force it and crack work out, that’s another thing that’s really important. It’s like, I work hard but I’m almost always off of communication by, like, 7 or 8. Usually before that. I shut my laptop. I’m not checking; I don’t have notifications on my phone. That’s a pretty big one, too. Or on my computer. My email comes in; I don’t know. I have to go in and check it. I’m not having all these things that are, like, “bloop, blop, bloop,” no matter what time of day or night it is. That’s really important.
And staying away from technology in the evening is really useful. So, one of the things I do is play guitar or play piano or sing. Do something that’s right-brainish. Gets you into that flow, that relaxed state, that’s kind of sleepy and dreamy. It’s just like perfect timing to kind of lead you into going to sleep.

Stuart Cooke: Yeah, right. Perfect.

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Guy Lawrence: What kind of… Just touch on exercise. What kind of philosophies do you abide by, then? What do you incorporate in your week?

Abel James: Well, I used to run marathons.

Guy Lawrence: All right. Wow!

Abel James: I’ve always been a runner of some kind. I was never great, but I was always good. It was something I did more for meditation. I didn’t call it that back then, but I’d run outside and I’d get into this state, that the only way I can describe it, is meditative, for sure.

So, I used to do a lot of exercise. And I raced mountain bikes when I was younger and stuff. Now, I’ve found that exercise is something that I do as a habit, not as something that I kind of, like, force in there, if that makes sense.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah.

Abel James: So, at this point it’s pretty much automatic, that in the morning I’m going to be doing something.

On Mondays I do monster lifts, which isn’t anything too crazy. It’s basically just like I have a couple of dumbbells …

I always work out at home, I don’t really go to gyms, because our nearest health food store is in a different time zone. Like, we’re out here in the middle of the woods, so, I don’t really have any other choice.

So, I’ve got a couple of 52-pound dumbbells, free weights, and I use those to do squats and some dead lifts and maybe a couple of other little exercises, some presses or whatever, on Mondays.
Or I might do a kettlebell workout on that day. But every Monday I’m hitting it, I’m making myself sore, and then I’m going to go and crush a bunch of work, my worst work, I put that all on Monday.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah.

Abel James: So, it’s just one of those days, it’s just like, “All right, we’re getting it!”

And then, maybe on Tuesday, then I would do something that’s a little bit less intense, like yoga-type moves, some holds, focusing more on balance and mobility.

And then on Wednesday, I might do a very intense sprint workout. That’s what I did today. Which is, basically just like tabatas. So, you do 20 seconds on, all-out exercise that’s intense. So, I’ll do sprints or burpees. So you do that 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off. Repeat it ten times. You’re done in five minutes.

Guy Lawrence: Oh yeah.

Abel James: And if you’re not smoked by the end of it, you’re doing it wrong.

Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Right. That’s perfect.

Abel James: It’s the week, … sorry, go ahead.

Stuart Cooke: It’s just interesting, you know, there are a lot of people now kind of almost ingrained to think, “Well, I’ve got to go to the gym every day and I’ve got to stay in the gym for two hours. And I’m on that treadmill and I’m watching TV and you know, that’s me, done.”

But like you said, you can do this in five minutes. You know, I do a little kettlebell burpee workout and I can do that in about six minutes and I’m toast. Done. But yeah, massive effects on how you feel later on in the day.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah. But it’s bringing it back to making sure your sleep’s dialed in and your nutrition is dialed in.

Abel James: Right.

Guy Lawrence: And then you can spend the time enjoying your life outside of these things, instead of obsessing about them all.

Abel James: Yeah. The simple things. It’s is just kind of … get your calendar in order. Grab a hold of that thing. Shake it around a little bit, if you need to, and then put the right things in, especially in the morning. That’s, I think, from a habit point of view. It’s like, if you’re forcing yourself to go to the gym every day, for two hours, and go on a treadmill, which almost nobody likes.

Guy Lawrence: Oh yeah.

Abel James: That’s why you watch TV, because you’re so just bored. Then it’s hard to believe that that’s sustainable. It’s hard to believe that you’re going to be able to do that for the rest of your life.

It might work, kind of. But if you can’t do it for a really long time, if you don’t love to do it, you’re going to stop at some point. Then you’re going to fall off the wagon. Get out of shape. Then it’s really hard to get back in shape.

So, like, make this … if you can do your workout in six minutes, do it! I mean I’m a “health guy” or whatever and that’s exactly what I do.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah.

Stuart Cooke: Yeah.

Abel James: I think that it’s the best to know that science supports that too, right?

Stuart Cooke: It does. Yeah, that’s right.

Abel James: I’d much rather; I like running, but to be perfectly honest, if I can do it in five minutes instead of three hours, I’m going with five minutes.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah.

Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Every time.

Guy Lawrence: I think you touched on something else as well. It’s important you’ve got to enjoy it. Just do something you love doing. I think that’s so important psychologically, as well, so you can go and do it again.

I worked in a gym for a long time and I found people who forced themselves through the door, just staying there for so long, just like a diet per se, as well. And then they would drop off at the other end and everything they gained, what they’d struggled to gain, it comes back anyway.

Abel James: And it’s heartbreaking, right?

Guy Lawrence: Ah, yeah.

Abel James: When you know what works. You know they know what works, too. But sometimes it’s just; it all goes away.

Guy Lawrence: Yup.

Abel James: It’s a bummer to see that.

Guy Lawrence: Absolutely.

So, moving on, we mentioned your book “The Wild Diet.” Can you tell us a little bit about it? Because it’s launched I’m thinking a few months now.

Abel James: Yes. Yeah. It’s been out for about a month now. It’s called “The Wild Diet” basically, because what we have in most societies now is this industrialized food system that is feeding us junk food, processed food, and junk food disguised as health food. And so a lot of people are getting burned by that.

On the other side of that, we have kind of like this wild world. The opposite of industrialized domesticated. You know, where animals, if you choose to eat them, are raised eating the diets that are natural to them in nature.

So, cows are eating grass, for example. So you eat grass-fed, pasture-raised animals.

Your getting heirloom and heritage varieties of seeds, nuts, plants, as much as you can, because those things are inherently designed by nature, generally most healthy for our bodies at this point. We’re well-adapted to eat things we’ve been eating for a long time in the form that they used to be.

And sometimes that can be hard to find. You know, like finding wheat strains, for example. Finding really traditional sourdough breads, made with an ancient variety of wheat, is something you need to try to do. You need to look for it or whatever. But it can be done.

And so, “The Wild Diet” is basically trying to … I come from the paleo world in a lot of ways. But paleo as a theme has kind of subsumed a lot of other movements.

Guy Lawrence: Yup.

Abel James: It kind of like absorbed them, right? Like the eat local movement, the low-carb movement. And so, I’m somewhere in between all these.

And one of the problems, it’s exciting but, one of the problems with like, paleo, for example, is that it’s gotten so big and so many people have heard about it, that the marketers know that it’s a hot market and so they’re starting to flood the market with a bunch of “paleo health foods.” And a lot of people are getting the wrong idea about what that means.

You can’t just go to McDonald’s and get a hamburger or three hamburgers, throw away the bun and call it paleo, right? If you’re doing it right.

So, I felt like I needed that other word that hadn’t been poisoned yet. So, I wanted to come up with “wild.”

And basically it’s just a … it’s more of a philosophy on how to eat and live than it is about some crazy dogmatic diet. It’s basically like: Here’s everything that you need to know to actually do this, in a simple fun book.

And so, I basically wrote it according to what my community and fans and followers liked and wanted to listen to and then we filled it up with some of the best recipes we’ve ever made. So …

Guy Lawrence: Good one, yeah.

Abel James: … it’s a fun book.

Guy Lawrence: But it’s a bit of a big task putting a book together I can imagine, right?

Abel James: Oh, boy. It’s the worst possible thing you can do for your health, is write a health book.

Stuart Cooke: Yeah.

So, given the fact then that you’ve got all this knowledge and you’ve put it into this book, this fantastic resource for everyone, the million-dollar question is, what have you eaten today?

Abel James: Oh, good one. So, that’s the question that I can almost not even ask on my show, because a lot of people are so embarrassed about what they actually do.

So, I started the morning with supplements. A lot of them are herbs and adaptogens, you know, like rhodiola is one of my favorites. And fermented cod liver oil I usually have in the morning, because it’s a nice little dose of fat and kind of like front-loads lot of nutrition. Vitamin D is something I take pretty much every day. So, I’ll take that in the morning as well.

And then I made myself … well, every morning I wake up, drink a big glass of water, I usually keep that going throughout the day. So, lots of hydration.

And I had … this is my sixth interview today.

Stuart Cooke: Oh, crikey.

Abel James: And I have two more after this.

Guy Lawrence: Oh, wow.

Abel James: So, on interview days I generally fast until the evening. Sometimes until the afternoon, depends if I have the time or the breaks.

So, I make myself my own, like, usually I roast the coffee about once a week, so I’ll make some French press coffee and then I’ll fill it up with a tablespoon or two of heavy cream or some sort of fat. Which gives me some interest, right? I like drinking that with my coffee and I might have some coconut oil with it or medium-chain triglycides or other fat that I put in there.

So, that’s what I had today and I’ve had, I think, two cups of coffee with probably about three tablespoons of heavy cream, pasture-raised. And then right before this interview I felt like I wanted something and so my wife made an awesome green smoothie, which we have almost every day.

That’s usually how I break my fast, is by having basically a blended-up salad. But you can pick the right thing so it tastes really good.

So, it’s got like three different types of greens in it. It’s got strawberries. It has chia seeds and flax, so it’s full of omegas, the right kinds of fats, and plenty of fiber. So, I hit that with some coconut on top, some shredded coconut, because it’s nice to chew on something.

And that’s all I’ve eaten today.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fantastic.

Abel James: Tonight I think we’re going to have a big steak and probably a big salad and maybe a side of red rice, I think we have some going. And we have some soup. Some bone broth that we made, that’s left over, that we’re just going to heat up and some of that too and probably some really tasty chocolate or some of Alison’s homemade cookies for dessert.

Stuart Cooke: Wow. It’s almost breakfast time and you are making me hungry.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah.

Stuart Cooke: That is fantastic.

Guy Lawrence: That’s awesome. Mate, we have a couple of wrap-up questions for the podcast.

Abel James: Hit it.

Guy Lawrence: And first one is, are there any books that you’ve read that have been a great influence in your life?

Abel James: “Chi Running” by Danny Dreyer. He’s one of my past guests. That’s one of the most underrated books there is I think.

It’s about how to incorporate symmetry and balance into your movements. Specifically for running, but it really applies to almost everything using, you know, ancient … I’ve seen a lot of similar things in Taoist textbooks and certainly like the tai chi and things like that.

That’s an awesome book. It’s called “Chi Running.” Danny Dreyer’s the writer who’s been on my show.

Guy Lawrence: We’ll include it in the show notes. Yeah. Fantastic.

Abel James: Yeah. That one’s great.

The “Perfect Health Diet” is done by Paul Jaminet. It came out a few years ago; another just wonderfully researched book.

And Paul … I was fortunate to hang out with him a bunch of times and kind of become friends with him. And he’s not your typical health professional, in the sense that he’s not really interested in any of the marketing or whatever. He likes research and he likes the science.

And so I really like that book too, the “Perfect Health Diet.”

Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. Perfect. I’ll check them out. I haven’t seen any of those two.

And last one is, and this is a pearler. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Abel James: I worked with this Russian guy when I worked at restaurants growing up. And on one catering gig, he just messed up royally. I don’t know what happened exactly, but the boss was really pissed off and this guy was not having a good time. And then he just kind of like turned to me and I’m 14 years old or whatever and he’s this massive Russian guy and he’s just like, “Every kick in the butt is a step forward.”

This is how it started off and you could tell that he didn’t care at all. He was going to have a great day no matter what. And after I kind of like saw that happen and I was like, “All right. That’s cool.” The way that he handled that, I want to be able to handle something like that …

Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Take it on the chin and move on.

Abel James: … when the world comes crashing down on me someday.

Stuart Cooke: Yeah, that works. That’s fantastic.

Guy Lawrence: Awesome, mate. And is there anything coming up in the future, Abel? Anything you’d like to share? Any exciting projects?

Abel James: Sure. Yeah. We’re excited about … well, we decided basically that, this is my wife and I, this is something that we’re just going to do, you know. We’re going to make this our … we’ve been doing it full-time for a while, but we weren’t sure exactly if we wanted to do apps or you know some other type of publishing or helping publish other people or whatever. But we decided to make the blog and the podcast and our new video series kind of our main thing.

So, we just recorded a huge cooking class, that we invite all these cameras into our kitchen. We set up a bunch of GoPros and other cameras. And so, it’s like documentary-quality. Just hanging out with us in the kitchen learning how to cook things quickly and easily.

And so, it’s called The Wild Diet Cooking Class and you can find that at: FatBurningMan.com/cooking.

So that’s just one of the things, but if you go to FatBurningMan.com and sign up for the newsletter, we’re planning to come out with cool stuff like that every few months or so and just keep a steady clip of like, “You guys want to learn more about ketosis? All right. We’ll do this class.”

Stuart Cooke: Perfect

Abel James: And keep that going.

Yeah. So, it’s been fun. It’s a lot of work, but after taking about a year off traveling the world and going to Australia, which is loads of fun, it’s been really cool to come back with a renewed passion and focus.

Guy Lawrence: That’s awesome, mate and for your book, “The Wild Diet” as well, go back to FatBurningMan.com, as well?

Abel James: You can actually, if you want to see that, you can go to: WildDietBook.com.

Guy Lawrence: Okay. There you go and we’ll put a link in the show notes, as well. Brilliant.

Abel James: Right on. Thank.

Guy Lawrence: Abel, thanks so much for coming on the show. That was a treat. And I have no doubt everyone listening to this will get a heap out of that. That was awesome.

Abel James: Awesome. Yeah. What a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Stuart Cooke: No problems and we really appreciate it. And you enjoy the rest of the day. Good luck with your interviews and enjoy that meal. Sounds delicious.

Abel James: Thank you so much. You guys have a great day.

Guy Lawrence: Thanks, Abel.

Stuart Cooke: Thank you buddy. Take care. Bye, bye.

Abel James: All right, just like you.

Guy Lawrence: Bye.

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Why Athletes Benefit From Yoga

The video above is 02:19 long. Use your time wisely ;)

Duncan Peak is founder of Power Living Australia Yoga (P.L.A.Y). He’s also a very cool guy & we chat to him about his life as a former army officer, nearly dying, and becoming one of Australia’s most authoritative figures in yoga.


Full Interview with Duncan Peak: Power Living to the Modern Yoga

In this episode we talk about:- 

  • downloaditunesA individuals journey that takes an unexpected twist that we all benefit from
  • A dramatic change in life path that’s lead to building a legacy (his franchise) that we all benefit from as a result
  • There are a lot of assumptions about yoga. Is yoga what you think it is?
  • Why yoga & Crossfit are a great fit & strong men struggle with downward dog
  • Why yoga suits the modern man/women & the unsuspecting masculine guy
  • Yoga…much more than a physical journey and a place to find women in figure hugging attire
  • CLICK HERE for all Episodes of 180TV

Power Living Australia Yoga (P.L.A.Y)

- Learn about P.L.A.Y Here

- Follow P.L.A.Y On Facebook Here


Interview with Duncan Peak Transcript

Guy Lawrence: Hi, this is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition, and welcome to podcast episode number 21. Today our special guest is Mr. Duncan Peak. Now, if you’ve never heard of him, he’s the founder of the amazingly successful Power Living Australia Yoga, also known as PLAY, and he touches the lives of over 6,000 people each week. He’s one of the most well-respected yoga teachers here in Australia and teaches workshops, teacher-trainings, retreats, pretty much all over the world and so it’s a privilege to have him here today.

So, today, he’s actually sharing with us a story of how an army officer, which is what he was, he also had a near-death experience, ends up doing yoga and becomes very authoritative in it, as well. So, we’re very excited to have him on.

If you are listening to this on iTunes, really appreciate the review. The reviews help us get our rankings up, which then, in turn, help us get this message out there to other people, and then go on and, obviously, inspire other people, and then, yeah, so, if you just sit back and enjoy the show, and let’s go over to Duncan.

Awesome. All right. Let’s get into it. Hi, I’m Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Mr. Stuart Cook, as always, and our very special guest today, Mr. Duncan Peak. Duncan, thanks for joining us, mate. Really appreciate it.

Duncan Peak: Thanks for having me.

Guy Lawrence: Look, it’s awesome, mate. There’s a couple of reasons that, A, was really excited to get your story out to the show, to the show, to our listeners, and B, hopefully, that story will convince theory in doing a bit more yoga, as well, a little while. But, I’m sure you get asked this question a lot, mate, but, you know, an army officer, a first-grade Rugby Union player, to now, you know, becoming a very authoritative figure in the yoga world. How the hell did that happen?

Duncan Peak: Yeah, I suppose it seems really contradictory to why, but I think the same discipline really drives the practice. I think; yoga has an aspect to it we call Tapas that’s a fierce sort of flame and drive within you. It’s a yearning towards to an enlightened state or to have a practice that’s going to achieve, you know, that development of your character. I think, just, the army was a life situation where I chose to go there when I was a young kid and sorted my life out and gave me the direction, and it was a lot of fun, to be honest, and then, yeah, just events happened that moved me into the yoga world.

I’ve been doing yoga most of my life or meditation, most of my life, and so I, yeah, I just sort of fell into the yoga world, and it was more a XXaudio glitchXX 0:02:45 than a quest to become an authority in the yoga world.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah. It’s just sort of just like we spoke just before the recording, just sort of following your passion, and it’s evolved into that. When you say you started yoga at a young age, what age would that have been at?

Duncan Peak: Well, I did my first, sort of, meditation slash yoga class when I was about 15. I was with the family I was living with who were just taking care of me and their father had lived in India for about 11 years, and he just taught us what’s called raja yoga.

It’s a very traditional style of yoga. It’s mainly focusing on your mind and trying to meditate or concentrate your mind, and so that’s when I first started, and then I just used meditation to deal with all the stress and some grief that I was going through at a young age. I’d lost some people really close to me and, yeah, just kept doing it throughout my life, and when I was about 25 I eventually got into the physical style of yogaÉmaybe a little bit younger than that, and started to do what you see now, today’s style of living.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Wow. Yeah, you know, because when I watched you speak XXthrough Eloise the other weekXX 0:03:46 you mentioned, as well, an incident in the jungle. It really touched me, as well, I thought that was incredible, and would you mind sharing that bit of a story with us, as well?

Duncan Peak: Yeah. For sure. So, I went to the military. I was an officer in the Royal Military College, Duntroon, and then I became a paratrooper for three years and then worked at the Special Forces training center for three years as a captain. And during that time I did lots of exercises and in one of the exercises I was asked to, well, it’s part of training and selection for things to do seven days without food and walk about, I don’t know, 250 kilometers in that week and get about two hours’ sleep a night, if that, and you get a tiny bit of food, but it’s like a mouthful of food on the third day, and, yeah, they challenge you with a lot of raw, sort of, disgusting foods, to see if you’ll eat it.

But it’s to test your levels of leadership and high-levels of stress. And, anyway, I did the course, and I finished the course, and, on the last day, I handed him my radio and all my flares and things like that, because you’re alone a lot of the time on the course, and then they said, “You know, beeline that way to the clearing, and that’s where you’ll get picked up,” and so I did, and I took my bearing and went there, and on the way walking there after I finished the course I felt this pain in my stomach, and, of course, I’d had pains in my stomach all week, and every time I’d spoken to anyone about it, they’d say, “Well, of course, you have pains in your stomach. You haven’t eaten for seven days.”

So I just, sort of, pushed myself, you know, beyond my limits and went, “Suck it up, you know. Stop being a girl,” and pushed myself. Anyway, I was walking and there was, like, real pain in my stomach, and I got down on one knee and just pulled my water bottle out and was there drinking my water bottle and, as I did, it felt like boiling water was just rushing my stomach. Something felt like it tore in there, and I was completely incapacitated.

I couldn’t move, and I hit the ground, and I was, sort of, in the middle of the jungle, nowhere, and very rare that somebody was going to find me, and I was there for about three hours, I think it was, beforeÉwhich was a whole process I went through of dealing with the pain, because it was excruciating. It was the most amount of pain I’d ever felt, and then I’m dealing with the fact that no matter how tough or physical or, you know, focused I was, it wasn’t going to help me. I couldn’t move and getting at peace with that and, you know, things like accepting my father and accepting the way I was and my mother and just the whole upbringing and losing, really, people close to me very young in my life, all that, sort of, came up, and it was a wonderful spiritual experience in the end. And then, towards the end of that three hours, just luckily, another guy was walking a very similar path that I was and found me, and he carried me to a road and eventually got me help. I was pretty much unconscious by this time and just completely out of it from the pain.

And it took about eight hours before they got me to an operating table, and they diagnosed me with a ruptured appendix and then cut me open and went in to have a look at my appendix and realized it wasn’t my appendix. My appendix was fine, but they took that out anyways.

Stuart Cooke: Oh!

Guy Lawrence: How do you do?

Duncan Peak: Just to get that scar there and, you know, it never happened that you had a ruptured appendix. People wouldn’t diagnose you, so they’d harvest your organ.

Guy Lawrence: Oh, wow!

Duncan Peak: And then, anyway, they cut me from basically top of my chest down to my belly button and just searched around until they found I had a ruptured duodenal ulcer. So my duodenum, the second part of your, the part after your stomach, and it had perforated and was leaking out and, you know, an injury like that, it could kill you in a matter of hours, and, you know, I was lucky enough to survive for however long it was, eight hours, before they got to me.

And then I woke up the next day and, yeah, my beautiful mother was there holding my hand when I woke up, and I had tubes coming out of me, and I had, you know, five-inch incisions down here and another six- or seven-inch incision up here, and I’d gone from being like a super soldier, you know, I was fit and healthy and as strong as you can be to pretty ripped apart, and I sort of knew then that would lead to my discharge from the army and, eventually, problems that happened from that, rebuilding my core and things like that, and another injury I had through football, they discharged me from the army, and that’s when I left at about 25 years of age.

Through the process of rebuilding my core was how I got into the physical style of yoga, and that was sort of like a blessing in disguise, you know? It was what started Power Living in one way, but it ended a career that I was really enjoying in another way.

Guy Lawrence: Wow, I mean, if that had not happened, do you think your life would look very different today?

Duncan Peak: You know I often wonder about that. One of my best friends is the commanding officer of the SAS at the moment, and he was, you know, right alongside us doing all the stuff we were doing, and, you know, I wonder if I would have followed that path. I’m not sure. I don’t know if my heart and my moralistic fiber was in doing that completely. I think it was more of a life decision that changed me to do that.

So, I’m not sure whether I would’ve on my own natural causes got out. I think I would’ve stayed in the army a little bit longer and done a few more things and achieved things in there that I wanted to do, but I think eventually I would’ve got out, but I’m not sure if yoga would’ve ever evolved the way it did. It was never a vision for me to be a yoga teacher or to create the business that we’ve got.

Guy Lawrence: That’s insane, because they often say, you know, adversity is almost like the universe giving you a little nudge into your path that you should be doing, you know?

Stuart Cooke: That’s pretty deep, Guy. Just saying.

Guy Lawrence: I believe it.

Stuart Cooke: So, Duncan, if, for all of our listeners out there that aren’t or haven’t fully connected with yoga, could you explain the benefits? Because, you know, Guy’s certainly a big advocate for yoga. I’m just kind of exploring it. So, from an outsider’s perspective, you know, is it a little bit more than dudes in tight fishing pants performing a few strange poses?

Duncan Peak: It’s mostly girls, not so much dudes. They’re getting a lot more into it now, but look at yoga, if we think of the word yoga, that’s as broad a term as fitness, and I think that’s what a lot of people misunderstand straight away is that within yoga there are so many ways we can practice it, have beliefs around it, so that’s one big thing to consider is that in the style that we’ve done, it’s called hatha vinyasa yoga, it’s the main style. We call it Power Yoga. It’s just a marketing name, basically, even though it is a very powerful style of yoga. They’re not really traditional style of names that have come from ages.

Most of the yoga that we practice these days is only about a hundred years old, but the philosophy that goes with it dates back, you know, eons. So, there’s really a few aspects of it. There’s your physical flexibility and agility and range of motion that is very popular. Stretching. Vinyasa practice. Out of that, the yogis believe we unlock energetic pathways, very similar to Chinese medicine philosophy of meridian channels. We call them Nadi channels. So, we unlock energy movement and flow within the body.

And then there’s the third aspect to it, which is training your mind, and this is the aspect where I’m so passionate about is understanding deep belief systems that you have, that you’re unconscious of, but they control your behavioral patterns, and the yogis call these vasanas, and it’s what makes up a character.

If you can consider, character’s very hard to change. Like, you can go and put on a new pair of tights or wear different clothes or listen to additional music or drive a new car, move to a new town, take up new sports, and you’ve got a different personality, but you put that same person under stress and they’re going to react in the same way, because their character is still the same.

And, so, yoga doesn’t look to change your personality. There’s no ideal spiritual personality. People get lost in trying to change their personalities, but it’s nothing to do with your personality. You actually want to transcend the personality, and we’re trying to change our character, and we’re trying to change our character into being, embodying the virtues of, like, compassion, you know, kindness, love, courage, all those sorts of, you know, things we talk about that have high moralistic fiber.

And so through the practice of yoga, whether it’s a physical practice and being mindful about the reactions you have, or whether it’s sitting in meditation and observing what the patterns of your mind are and how hard it is to really focus your mind, we’re trying to change the same thing in that we’re trying to evolve our character to be less reactive, what we call equanimous, so that we have a more peaceful life, and then, if we can do that, so they say, and I don’t know this from experience, but we can have an enlightened mind, which is a mind that is always like that, and that’s what yoga aims to do in all of its facets. And then anything within that that you’re doing toward that stilling your mind could be considered a practice of yoga.

Stuart Cooke: I’m sold! I’m just going to sign up for a course now. Where did it originate from? Where’s it come from?

Duncan Peak: It’s from India originally in the oldest books of time, called the vedas, and originally it was really only passed down. They believe it came, and, again, this is a bigger concept and they believe it came from the Rishis which passed it, which it means “great seers” which interpreted it from their experiences in meditation from a more of a collective consciousness, and, again, that’s up to everybody to decide whether they believe that sort of stuff, but they believe it came from that level of higher knowledge and then disseminated through great teachers and then slowly through, it was then transcribed into books in the really early, you know, 400 B.C., things like that, and then eventually, you know, you see it evolve into the modern yoga, sort of, evolution that we have happening today.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right, because yoga’s definitely growing in popularity. There’s no doubt about that. It’s unbelievable. Like, I remember growing up in Wales. It was all rugby, union, and beer, basically, and how much you could bench press. I don’t think even yoga was on my radar when I was in my teens and early 20s and, but even I went back to Wales recently and saw that, you know, yoga’s popping up everywhere there, and it was changing there, too.

So, why do you think it’s growing? Do you think there’s a need for it, you know, because people are so stressed out?

Duncan Peak: You know, people believe people go to yoga to stretch. That’s sort of a common belief out there. They might turn up for those reasons, but they stay because of the mental health benefits. It’s that there’s something that occurs for them in the asana practice or whatever style of yoga that they’re doing that they don’t get out of normal exercise or other activities, and it’s just a clarity of your mind. It’s self-awareness. You’re getting to know yourself better.

I just think with the mounting stress that we have and the generation of, “Just suck it up and deal with it,” is sort of slowly passing, and our generation who are having children are a bit more open to spiritual ways and alternative ways of thinking. I think that’s just, sort of, you know, started to create a newer generation who’ve grown up with yoga being accepted. The middle generation, like us, who are like, “Okay, well, it is acceptable,” rather than not off the radar, and then our parents who, you know, not so many of them even had opportunities to understand what it’s all about. So, I think it’s just the education within the world, and then the quality of what it is compared to anything else out there. It’s just, it’s common sense, so people they need to do it if they want to be happy and peaceful in this world.

Guy Lawrence: I have to say, as well, like, I, my girlfriend drug me on a yoga retreat in Thailand not too long ago, and, you know, it was the first time I ever did yoga six days straight, and it was two-and-a-half hours in the morning, I think. It was a half-hour meditation and then a two-hour practice, and I felt something shift by the end of the six days, and it was hard to explain. I was trying to explain it to Stewie, and, yeah, it was amazing. Unless you actually put yourself through that experience, it’s hard to actually get that across, as well. You know?

Duncan Peak: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I say that about yoga experiences is that words will never do it justice, you know. Words always imply a limited perspective on the experiences that you can have, and that’s really what yoga, you know, it’s hard to describe yoga, the experience of yoga, but once you experience it, it’s just obvious. It’s like, “Wow, that’s a state that we should be in at times.” A state of consciousness that we should experience.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Hey, I’m just checking. Stewie, you there? Hang on.

Duncan Peak: We lost him?

Guy Lawrence: We lost him. I’ll bring him backÉbecause I went toÉHe’s back.

Stuart Cooke: I’m back, mate. I’ve signed up. I’m good to go.

Duncan Peak: Yeah, I thought you’d rushed down to the studio then. Or freaked you out. One of the two.

Stuart Cooke: I was interested, thinking about the things that you’d said, where would somebody like me start? With, obviously, the different types of yoga that you’ve got, with meditation, and all the movements, where would I start?

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, good question.

Duncan Peak: It’s hard to answer that question. It depends on you as a person. To really know that, yeah, I’d have to know you really well, but I think for, just generally, people should just rock down to their local yoga studios, maybe try three or four out, and if they feel, when they walk in the doors of a yoga studio, that they feel like they belong there, that it’s a place where they’re comfortable, and they enjoy the teachings that are there and the process that they go through, then just stick with that one and start to learn from them and, you know, over time, you’ll meet the people that are meant to teach you, soÉ

There’s that way. There’s a lot of online yoga, where you can watch it, but I think, for me, and our business, especially Power Living, it’s the community aspect of the experience is so important, and to have, you know, likeminded people and that positive energyÉWe always call our studios the House of Positivity, you know? Because you walk in there, and it is, it’s just constant positive energy, and you go there, and that’s just good to have that top you up every day.

So, I just think people should try and find places like that, and they exist. Yeah. And then just wherever they’re comfortable. It’s not that important what style you’re doing, in the initial stages. You can refine that, once you start to understand yoga a little more, and what you think benefits you. That was what the original process of a guru was, was to tell you what style of yoga would best suit you to deal with the character that you have. These days it’s not so much like that, but you can have people help you out with what you should be doing.

Stuart Cooke: Okay.

Guy Lawrence: Do you think yoga is for everyone, Duncan?

Duncan Peak: I think there’s a style of yoga for everybody, but I don’t think that there’s one style that fits everyone. I think everyone is going to benefit from being mindful, you know? Anyone whoÉour human condition is self-reflective consciousness, and there’s issues that come with being able to think about what you’re thinking about.

You know, if you think about, we ‘ve constantly got a conversation going on in our head, and there’s no one there, so it’s sort of insane, you know? And we’ve got to learn to understand that and quiet that and be able to just experience the world without having to interpret it and always have a conversation about it. So I think anyone who does that is going to build more self-awareness and that’s going to be beneficial. So, yeah, I think it is for everybody. But I’m not a preacher that says, “You have to do this. You have to do that.” It’s up to them on their own what they do.

Guy Lawrence: Everyone has to discover it for themselves, right?

Duncan Peak: Yeah, I really believe in that, yeah.

Guy Lawrence: It’s funny that you mention that, because that was going to be my next question, was because the health and fitness industry focus a lot on nutrition. They focus on, you know, physical appearance and the physical strength of it, right? For which, and sometimes, it seems to be all physical aspect, but how much do you think mindset and, you know, our daily thoughts actually affect our health?

Duncan Peak: Well, I think it is your health. I mean, I go and do demonstrations at health and fitness expos and things like that, and get up there in my tights and tie myself into a pretzel and do all fancy handstands and, you know, all the bodybuilders walk past and are like, “Wow! Look at that! He’s flexible and he’s strong.” And it’s a nice way to be able to connect with those guys.

But I see I lot of that world, the fitness industry, and they look amazing, but they’re not healthy. They have so much attachment to their body and their ego, and that’s how they judge their sense of self-worth. There’s people who aren’t like that. Who are very balanced, and they’re awesome, and they’re in that world, and they’re great examples, but the industry as a whole is so much about what people think about you, and that’s something we need to get away from, is what people think about us and develop what we believe about ourselves and develop that self-love. So I think that mindset is, that’s how I would judge well-being.

And then with the nutrition you put into your body, it’s obviously going to have a huge impact on what your thoughts are and what your character is, so, yeah, for me it is how I judge well-being as opposed to how much do I think it has an impact on well-being, I think it is what well-being is, is the way you think, or the way you’re attached to your thoughts.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Absolutely. And then you can see why yoga is actually then helping so many people, you know, that do it.

Duncan Peak: Yeah. Having said that with yoga, to be really raw and honest, I used to have a saying when I started the business, was “Market to the ego, and teach to the heart.” You know, there was a reason why we’re successful, it’s because we recognize that people do want to lose weight. They want to look good. They want to be flexible. They want to do the fancy poses.

And for some people, that’s what they want, and so we’re like, “Okay. Let’s tell them that’s going to happen. Let’s bring them into the classes and while they’re in there, we’ll just mention a few of these philosophical points.”

Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Just whispering, right?

Duncan Peak: Yeah, exactly. You know, rather than preaching it, because it turns people off. And so, let’s do what the world needs, or not needs but people really want, this desire, and then let’s teach them about what desire really is and the suffering that can come from, you know, so desirous. We have this other saying, “A constant search for pleasure is the root cause of your suffering.” That’s like one-on-one yoga. The constant search for pleasure is the root cause of our suffering.

And, so, yeah, we probably get them in through pleasure, but then we teach them about what that doesÉ

Stuart Cooke: What it really means.

Duncan Peak: Yeah.

Guy Lawrence: Absolutely.

Stuart Cooke: I’ve noticed that you’ve released a new book, as well, Duncan. Would that be a great place for someone like me to start? Or is it a little bit more advanced?

Duncan Peak: No, I mean it’s written for a first-timer who’ll pick up the book, and it’s got a little bit of my story in there, and it has just so much about the mental side of it and understanding the character and that aspect. Everything that we’ve just discussed, and then it goes right into the physical practice, and how to align your body and how to keep it very safe, and it gives two different styles, a dynamic style of yoga and then more the yin, sort of, gentler, not gentler, but just slower, holding poses for long periods and working on different connective tissue within the body. Working on fascia as supposed to muscle and tendon. So it goes into a lot of that, but it’s not too technical that it’ll turn people off. We made it so it’s a coffee table book, as well, so it’s nice to be able to look at and just visually be able to learn from it, as well as get in there and study, if you’d like to. So, it’s called Modern Yoga. It’s available on my website. You know, it’s something that’s taken me three or four years to write. That really is what Power Living is. You know, we use it for our teacher trainings as our manual because it’s really what we’re trying to get out there.

Guy Lawrence: I was going to say, you must be a busy boy.

Duncan Peak: Well, it’s started to slow up for now, since that’s been done, and it has been ten years this year. Yeah, I’ve given everything I’ve got for ten years.

Guy Lawrence: You hold retreats, as well, right? Are they retreats just for yoga teacher training, or are they for peopleÉ

Duncan Peak: No, anyone.

Guy Lawrence: They can just come on and do it?

Duncan Peak: We have, a lot of our retreats we have are teacher training and the retreat running at the same time. We just separate groups and do things together. Because there’s so much community focus that it doesn’t matter who you are, teachers training or just a student, we can join and do a lot of the community activities together, and then we can do more technical stuff for the teacher trainers.

We have, I don’t know, we’re up to about six or seven retreats a year, and we do about eight or nine 200-hour teacher trainings around Australia and New Zealand. It’s pretty busy, but it’s not just me anymore. There’s, I don’t know, maybe 80 people employed in the company. We’re nearly up to our eighth studio now.

It’s kind of crazy. One of the things about our business is that there are six owners in the business. Not just myself. That’s been one of our successes is using our senior people that come up through the business and then allowing them to open a studio with us, and they love it, and they’re there, and yes.

So, we do retreats for everybody and teacher trainings, as well. I think within the industry, we’re known a lot for our education, so our teacher trainings are very popular, because we’re probably one of the first to do contemporary styles of yoga. We certainly do the retreats. I like them the most. They’re the fun ones.

Guy Lawrence: That could be a good place to start for someone, as well then, if they wannaÉ

Duncan Peak: Yeah. For sure.

Stuart Cooke: You’re thinking me, Guy, aren’t you?

Guy Lawrence: Yeah.

Duncan Peak: XXWe want to run one in Bali for an excuse. It’s a good place to come hang out.XX [0:26:07]

Guy Lawrence: We’ve got the foam boards, as well, Stewie, you know.

Stuart Cooke: I’m good for boarding.XX [0:26:10] Absolutely. I’ll book the tickets, Guy. I’m just thinking, Duncan, with all that you’ve got going on, surely you’d then be using your yoga and meditation to quiet your mind in order to actually get some sleep, right? Cause you’re a busy boy.

Duncan Peak: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I’ve got a very agitated mind, you know, I think one of the reasons I’m so into yoga and meditation is because I’ve needed it, you know, since I’ve been a young boy. I don’t ever profess to be this really calm and peaceful person. I’m not like that. I’m a pretty big personality and I need to center myself or I sort of lose myself, you know?

So, yeah, it’s a daily practice, you know? Like this morning, I woke up. The first thing I do is an hour of yin practice up here in my lounge room. Sit for 20 minutes or a half an hour and meditate and then go and have a surf. That’s pretty much how every day starts for me, you know? I’m pretty lucky in that way. Yeah, I sort of need it, you know? I need it. Especially beingÉone of the hardest things is being a CEO, you know, and having so many people work for you and doing all that side of it, and then you’re in a meeting that’s like intense and there’s millions of dollars being discussed and then you have to leave that meeting and then walk into the yoga room and start to teach people, you know?

Stuart Cooke: That’s right, yeah. There’s that switch.

Duncan Peak. It’s a funny skill, you know? Not everyone that works for us has that skill. They belong on the facilitations side or the business side. That’s probably one of my biggest challenges and meditation is the only way that I’ve been able to achieve, be able to do that.

Stuart Cooke: I think I would benefit from that. Just thinking about all the things we have going on in our business, as well, and a busy family, busy business. Definitely, you’ll be doing a bit moreÉ

Guy Lawrence: Definitely. We’re fortunate to do what we do. We have, you know, we get to do some cool stuff and we did some DNA testing, and what gene was it? You had a COMT gene, was it?

Stuart Cooke: Yeah, I had a COMT gene and just some, which affected my cortisol levels. So, you know, I’m very busy, and I’ve got lots going on, but my cortisol levels don’t clear. So, like clearance pathways were blocked with this particular gene, so just about ways to lower cortisol and, of course, thinking about meditation and considering yoga, as well, as a told for that.

Duncan Peak: Cortisol is one of the biggest neurochemicals of the moment that’s causing us to not be in health because at night time the body’s got to clear that, rather than focus on rejuvenating the tissue.

You know, one thing you bring up, Stu, is meditation is sometimes is very hard for people just to sit and go, “All right. I’m going to mediate.” People aren’t ready for it, and so getting into just mindful movement, whether it’s yoga, tai chi, chi gong, it can engage people so that they’re able to at least do something and enjoy that before they’re actually, “Well, okay, now I’ll start meditating.”

I do encourage a lot of beginners to get into the asana practice, you know, however they want to do it, dynamic or gentle, or a tai chi, or a chi gong, and then allow that to bring you into a more still mind. Sitting becomes just a natural evolution.

Stuart Cooke: Yeah, right, that makes a lot of sense, because from a, you know, meditation perspective, it almost seems impossible to sit there and just zone out when you’ve got this chatter, constant chatter, left and right. It’s definitely a skill, or it’s a muscle, I guess, that needs to be built.

Duncan Peak: Yeah. Definitely.

Guy Lawrence: I find that while we’re in the surfs, though, as well, that helps keep in the moment, you know? I’m constantly just there, and you know, that’s my excuse. I’m going out to be present.

Stuart Cooke: Yeah, right. So just think a little bit about exercise and nutrition as well now. Do you do anything else outside of yoga, exercise-wise?

Duncan Peak: I surf every day. Sometimes two or three times a day, and so that’s pretty physical in itself. I probably go to the gym once a week, I suppose, but when I train there, I train very much, not so much CrossFit, but more in that world where it’s power-to-weight ratio, body work, lot of Swiss ball work, and a lot of core stability work with cables, rather than lifting heavy weights. I really don’t do that anymore. I did years ago and my rugby-like days, but I don’t really do that sort of stuff. Yeah, it’s just because I enjoy it. I would, yeah, I think it’s, yeah, I’m just a man who enjoys that stuff.

Stuart Cooke: Exactly. You mentioned CrossFit, and we got quite heavily into CrossFit last season, last year, and found that a lot of the CrossFit athletes and participants were really connected to yoga for flexibility and mobility. Do you get a lot of CrossFitters coming your way?

Duncan Peak: Yeah. We’ve got a really good relationship with their communities, and a lot of our teachers teach at the local CrossFit gyms, just to make it easier for them, because, you know, people only got a small amount of time a day to exercise. Yeah, CrossFit, I think, is an amazing evolution. I think it’s a very sensible way to train the body, but there’s also, there’s risk involved in training the way they do. It’s pretty heavy and it’s hard on your joints, and if you’re not somebody who’s grown up athletically, it can be a little bit dangerous.

I think yoga will just help bring people into a postural development that’s going to allow them to get better alignment in their lifting capacities within CrossFit, and also allow them to have recovery a lot quicker, so they’re not turning up to do their next session so sore with fascial adhesions and knotted up muscles. There’s more of that fluidity in the body. So yeah, I think they’re great, you know, great complement to each other and, yeah, it’s cool to see it allÉ

Guy Lawrence: I guess any sport, really, wouldn’t it? Yoga complements, I imagine.

Duncan Peak: We trained the Waratahs and the Sea Eagles for many years, you know, big rugby teams over here. The guys, as much as they hate it, because they’re doing something they’re working against so much muscular resistance. They, every single one of them, yeah, are an advocate for it and straight after the game, like Monday morning, or a yoga session on Tuesday, it restores them to be able to go out there and train as hard as they would, like as if they were to start a new season, so the rejuvenating aspects of doing it are phenomenal.

Guy Lawrence: I go a question that just popped in, as well. When I go to a yoga class, it’s normally just me and a couple of other guys and just full of females. And after doingÉ

Stuart Cooke: Poor you, Guy.

Guy Lawrence: Yes, it’s pretty tough for me, and after doing CrossFit, throwing weights around, you know, thrust those shoulder presses, God knows what, like I get into a downward dog, and I’m the first one to drop to the floor. You know? And normally the other guys, as well. Why is that?

Duncan Peak: Well, you’re working against muscular resistance, so you’ve got a range, you know, if you go to here and depending on how tight, you know, a lot of the muscles under here, your subscaps and your lats and things like that, is, like, people who’ve got range or who don’t have the muscle bulk, who just naturally have that range can just do these really easilyÉ

For people who are tight, through a pec or minor lats, etc., to go from here they’ve got to engage a lot of their muscles on the back of their shoulders that help extend the shoulder joint, or flex the shoulder joint to be able to work. So, they’re working muscular very hard just to hold their arm at that place, because of the tightness that’s being built in the tension in the muscles to get the power that you’re looking for.

Your biggest strength becomes your biggest weakness. You’re working against your own muscle tightness, and not everyone has that muscle tightness. It’s like me. I’m pretty flexible. I can hold downward dog forever, but I’ve got the muscle bulk but there would have been a time where I, where it was very difficult to hold downward dog, because of the tightness. Yes. It’s interesting like that sometimes. You’re biggest strength is your biggest weakness.

Guy Lawrence: I’m really glad to hear that, because I’ve now got an excuse, because my tightness is terrible.

Duncan Peak: And, also, you’ve got, it’s a stability way that the muscle is working as opposed to a contraction, an eccentric, concentric movement, you’re moving more of that isometric hold, and CrossFit is more movement rather than hold, and that’s one of the things that makes the yoga asana practice, again, very well-rounded is because you’re doing contractions and, the eccentric and concentric contractions. You’re moving muscles under load both ways, but then you’re holding, and you’re stabilizing through joints and things like that, and there’s not so much of that in a lot of other, you know, gym and CrossFit and physical work, and so that’s another thing is you’re just building up the endurance to be able to hold, as opposed movement fit.

Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.

Stuart Cooke: Keep at it, Guy. It’s a work in progress. I was wondering, Duncan, what your typical daily diet looks like. How do you, you know, healthy body, healthy mind kind of thing. What do you eat?

Duncan Peak: First thing is a green smoothie in the morning. I make a green smoothie, you know, with your coconut waters and your greens and get that into me pretty early in the morning. That usually lasts me up until mid-morning, and I might have some fruit and some nuts and a little bit of a snack, and then lunch, it just depends where I am and what’s going on.

I try and get a salad wherever I am, and then night time, it’s usually, you know, fish and a salad or something like that, or I have meat occasionally, as well, and have a salad with that. Try and stay away from lots of breads and a lot of those, sort of, complex carbs, but I must admit I do love them. I was a baker when I was a young kid. I love my bread, but you know, I’ve found that for my body type it’s not the exact thing I should be eating, soÉ

I must admit, I would love to be perfect in my diet, but when you’re working so much, it’s one of the first things that you let slip, so I make sure that I do my green smoothie every morning and get all my nutrients that I need for that day and then I really just focus on trying to be as healthy as I can throughout the rest of the day with what I eat.

Stuart Cooke: Perfect.

Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.

Stuart Cooke: That sounds good. It is tricky, especially when you’re on the road. Very hard to try and keep on top of your diet.

Guy Lawrence: Big time. Big time. Mate, we always finish with a wrap-up question, and it can be non-nutrition, anything really, but what’s the single best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Duncan Peak: That’s funny. I’ve written that before. It’s pretty simple. My mom always used to say to me, I’d tell her everything that I was doing, and I was a ratbag as a kid, and the cause of so much heartache, even though we’re best friends now, you know, and always have been, but she used to say, “Duncan, I don’t care what you do, as long as you’re happy.” And she’s always been like that. Whatever I’ve chosen to do, whether it was military, whether it was yoga, whether it’s everything else that I decide to do, she’s like, “It’s up to you what you do, just as long as you’re happy and follow your heart in that way.” And I believe that’s the best bit of advice I’ve ever been given. I’ll always go back to it.

Stuart Cooke: Yeah. That makes perfect sense to me.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, definitely, and how can we get more of Duncan Peak? So, if anyone listens to thisÉYou’ve obviously, we know you’ve got a bookÉ

Duncan Peak: Yeah, It’s called Modern Yoga which is available on the website www.powerliving.com.au. We’ve got studios in Neutral Bay, Manly, Bondi Beach, South Melbourne, Fitzroy. We’ve got two opening up in Perth, and we’ve got another one at Bondi Beach. So getting to any of them, and then there’s over 1000 teachers in Australia that I’ve trained that are out there teaching for other studios and their own sort of stuff, so, yeah, you can get along to any of them and you’re going to get a little bit of what we’re doing. I teach mostly Manly and Neutral Bay and Bondi Junction. So you just check out our schedules, or come along to the retreats. You know, I run all the retreats and all the teacher trainings, so, yeah, but everyone in our business is so well-trained, just get along to a Power Living school andÉ

Guy Lawrence: I noticed, as well, only just yesterday you had an online program, as well. Is that right?

Duncan Peak: Yeah. We have some online course, some online yoga, which is where you can just sign up and get on video, basically, our classes. People in remote areas, you can do that. We also have some stuff on TV. XX?XX [0:38:59] Yeah, there’s a lot going on in that world, so, yeah, lots of opportunities. We have the DVDs you can purchase as well, and audio CDs for meditation, all available on the website, yeah, there’s lots of aids out there to help people get involved and get into it.

Guy Lawrence: No excuses. That’s awesome, right?

Stuart Cooke: You’re pointing your finger at me, Guy, when you say that.

Guy Lawrence: You know, mate.

Stuart Cooke: Thank you very much. That is awesome. Thank you so much, Duncan.

Duncan Peak: Thanks, Stuart. Thanks, Guy. It’s been great.

Stuart Cooke: You’ll be seeing me sooner than you think.

Duncan Peak: All right, mate, well if you’re going to come along, let me know. We’ll set you up with a VIP pass and take care of you guys.

Stuart Cooke: All right, thank you, mate. That’s fantastic.

Guy Lawrence: Bye, guys. Awesome.

Stuart Cooke: Take care. See you, buddy.

David Gillespie: Sweet Poison

By Guy Lawrence

This is the full interview with Sweet Poison Author David Gillespie. He is s a recovering corporate lawyer and has deciphered the latest medical findings on diet and weight gain. In his own words he says that what he found was chilling.

You can watch a 2 minute gem from the interview here: Should we be eating fruit?

In this weeks episode:-

  • What inspired David to quit the sugar [003:00]
  • The effects fructose has on ones health [006:58]
  • Why sugar used to be a rare commodity called white gold [008:40]
  • The best place to start when quitting sugar [012:50]
  • Should we be eating fruit? [016:22]
  • Why does the sugar message fire up so many emotions? (eg. Previous Sarah Wilson Interview) [018:37]
  • What to put in your kids lunch boxes [028:05]
  • and much more…

You can follow David Gillespie on: 

You can view all Health Session episodes here.

Recommended reading:

David Gillespie: Sweet Poison

Sarah Wilson’s eBook: I Quit Sugar

Did you enjoy the interview with David Gillespie? Has it made you think differently regarding sugar or fructose? Would love to hear you thoughts in the Facebook comments section below… Guy

David Gillespie: The transcript

Guy Lawrence: I’m Guy Lawrence. This is Stuart Cooke. And our special guest today is no other than David Gillespie.

David Gillespie: G’Day.

Guy Lawrence: Thanks for joining us David. Really appreciate it.

Now, I thought the best place to start would be from the beginning, and I know for any of our viewers that don’t know who you are, could you just sort of tell a bit about yourself; your story and how you came to writing about sugar in the first place; I’d love to know that.

David Gillespie: OK. So, I guess I should start out by saying I’m not a nutritionist or doctor or a biochemist or any of that sort of stuff. So, I’m phenomenally unqualified to talk to anybody about any of that stuff, but because I’m a lawyer it’s not gonna stop me.

I came to this because I spent most of my life getting fat, not intentionally, but every year I was a kilo or two heavier and, you know, I guess about almost 10 years ago now, I weighed in at 130-odd kilos, which put me well and truly into obese category.

And I thought when my wife rather inconsiderably announced that our fifth child was going to be our fifth and sixth children, that it was time to do something about it because I wasn’t coping with the four we had, who were all under the age of 9, let alone adding twin babies to that. And so, I thought, you know what, I need to understand how the human body works. I can’t believe that we don’t know how it works. It’s just obviously the case that I’m misunderstanding something.

So; and there was just the logical part to it as well which I didn’t get, which is you look around the planet, you see every other animal on the planet controls its weight the same way it controls its height, on auto-pilot, and there’s no gyms for monkeys, there’s no tigers on Jenny Craig, you know, they all work without willpower, on auto-pilot and the only exception to that seems to be us and any animal unfortunate enough to be fed by us.

So, I thought: I must be misunderstanding something. So, I went looking for the evidence and what I found was that there was very little evidence for what we are normally told to do about weight; that is: Stop being fat and exercise more.

But, there was an entirely different stream of evidence concerning sugar and in particular a part of sugar called fructose, which is one half of table sugar, which appeared to have significant dire metabolic effects, not just making us fat but lots of other stuff that we’re gonna talk about probably today.

What I thought was, well, you know, if that’s right, all I’ve gotta do to fix my weight problem is stop eating sugar. And, well, I can do that. It sounded a lot easier than it ended up being but I thought I can do that and I did and I dropped 40 kilos, got to this weight, which is in the mid 80s, and have stayed eating for the last 10 years without being on a diet. Which to me is pretty incredible since before this, you know, I just had look at a packet of Tim Tams and I’d be putting on weight.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right.

Stuart Cooke: Yeah.

Guy Lawrence: When you decided to lose the weight and make a change, was sugar the first thing you looked at or did you sort of. . .?

David Gillespie: Oh no. No, I didn’t, I didn’t, I didn’t know where to start. The only relevant training I have is gathering evidence and so where I started was to look at what the official line was. So, I went to the National Health and Medical Research Council, which are the people who determine the Australian Healthy Eating Guidelines, and I looked at what they say you should do to lose weight. And I thought: I’m not gonna go to a diet company or anything like that; I’ll just go to the people whose job this is. And I went looking at what they said and I thought: I can see what they say sounds very similar to what diet companies tell you to do. But I thought maybe there’s something missing that I’m not getting in the details. So, using the only relevant skill I had, which is to gather evidence, I then started looking at the evidence behind the statements.

So, what was the evidence behind the statement that fat makes you fat? What was the evidence behind the statement that exercise would make you thin? And I kept looking at evidence which referred to early evidence, which referred to early evidence, which referred to earlier evidence, and all the way back to evidence in the 1950s which essentially amounted to a great big guess.

I wasn’t at all satisfied with that, but in reading through that stuff I came across other evidence which hadn’t been referred to, but which was just as good a pedigree and this is from the London School of Nutrition, a fellow by the name of John Yudkin did some work on sugars in the 1950s and because of some political fighting it turned out his message got drowned out by a different message from the United States about fats.

Guy Lawrence: Interesting, because the first time I heard about really starting to look at sugar, from my own personal health, would have been about five years ago and I was involved with a small group of people that were helping people with chronic disease and a lot of them had cancer and by that time they had been established about seven years and they were saying that they probably had over a thousand people go through their doors and they were using nutrition and weight training, of all things, to help them.

But the first thing they eliminated from their diet was sugar and that was the sort of first time I sort of heard of anything like that. I only raised this because it made me start to think about, you know, sugar, what I’m eating, and things like that. And I’d love to hear your thoughts on, I guess, you know, on the defects of sugar, fructose and overall health, as well as what you sort of learned from your journey for our listeners.

David Gillespie: Well, I started out on it just through sheer vanity and wanting to not be apathetic. I thought that if I lost the weight I’d be more able to cope with young kids and probably be healthier. But now what I found since that, and I mean that’s where I started but I kept reading and I kept looking and I just kept finding more and more things linked back to this really unusual molecule in our diet, fructose.

Now it might even sound really weird to say that fructose is an unusual molecule in our diet. It is, after all, in fruit. So it’s; people say: “Oh, it’s natural, you know, can’t possibly be anything wrong with it.” It is natural but it’s not natural in the kind of quantities we’re consuming it and we’re not getting it from fruit. We’re getting it from sugar. And that’s the bit that a lot of people don’t connect that it is one-half of sugar.

And this molecule was very, very rare in the human diet until around about 1820. You might ask yourself: What happened in 1820? Something that people have been trying to do for a good half a century happened in 1820, which was that we finally cracked the problem of producing sugar, the stuff we have on the table, in commercial quantities. And the search for “white gold” and that was what it was literally called, “white gold,” had been on for half a century.

It is an extraordinary difficult thing to do and I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to make sugar. It isn’t simply a case of squeezing out a bit of sugar cane. It’s an extremely complicated process and involves a lot of steps and a lot of chemicals and every single step can go very, very wrong. But they managed to finally nail the process in the 1820s and then sugar went from being an extremely rare thing that only really the rich could afford to something that everybody could afford and that was added to more and more foods on a continuous basis.

Now, when I talk about sugar, people think I’m talking about chocolates and soft drinks and so on. I am; they obviously contain sugar, but much more dangerous is the sugar embedded in foods which you wouldn’t even think about containing sugar. You know, things with Heart Foundation ticks that are 30 percent sugar or 70 percent sugar, things that are being sold to us as health food that have loads of sugar in them. Why do they have loads of sugar? Because that “white gold” makes products with it in sell better than products without. So, this molecule we are spectacularly uninvolved to deal with; are you guys both still there?

Guy Lawrence & Stuart Cooke: Yeah, yeah we’re still here. I’m recording your . . . Your picture’s frozen but we’re still here.

David Gillespie: OK. Anyway, so this molecule; we have no real evolutionary background for it because the only sugar that we’ve really evolved to deal with in insufficient quantities, is our primary source of fuel, which is glucose. Everything we eat ultimately ends up in our body as glucose. Glucose is our fuel. Every single cell in our body can use it. It is the primary and only fuel for our brain, which consumes 25 percent of our energy.

So, it is a very, very important molecule in the human body and in any mammal. But fructose has no purpose whatsoever. It turns out, we just shovel it straight to the liver, none of our cells can deal with it at all and the liver just converts it immediately to fat. And that isn’t, it turns out, why we’re fat because of eating fructose; it’s just the start of a process which actually got quite interesting when I dived into the evidence; which is that that fat ends up wrapped around the liver, ultimately giving us something called “fatty liver disease” which now affects 1 in 3 of us, up from almost none of us 40 years ago. It now affects 1 in 10 teenage children. This is a chronic disease that can ultimately lead to cirrhosis of the liver and cancer of the liver.

And that fat wrapped around the liver affects our insulin sensitivity. In doing so it affects our appetite control and that’s how it makes us fat. It isn’t that the fructose is converted to fat, which that in itself makes us fat, it’s that it is converted to fat which becomes visceral fat wrapped around our internal organs, which increases our degree of insulin resistance. Ultimately that cascades through to Type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, chronic kidney disease, hypertension, heart disease, and the list goes on and on and on.

So, you know why getting fat on this stuff is a very, very fortunate thing because it gives us some visible warning that it’s happening.

Guy Lawrence: How; given that it’s everywhere and in so many foods that we’re unaware of; how would you recommend cutting it out? What should we do?

David Gillespie: Well, the first thing is: Listen to your taste. You can taste it. It’s not; if a food tastes sweet, then it contains fructose. You can be absolutely certain of that. And so you can taste it. And that’s the really good news is if you pay attention and listen for the taste that’s sweet, if you like, you can detect it.

The other is, start to get use to where it’s likely to be. So, be suspicious of all processed foods; have a look at processed food, look at the ingredient list; if sugar’s in there put it back on the shelf. It’s as simple as that. If it’s something you really, really must have then find the variant of whatever product it is that has the lowest amount of sugar and preferably aim for less than 3 grams to 100 of added sugar.

Do that and you’ll be fine. And people initially say, when they start this process, they say: “Wow, I just did what you said, and, you know what? There’s nothing in my supermarket that satisfies those criteria. That’s disturbing in itself, is there’s nothing in the supermarket that doesn’t have less than 3 percent added sugar. But there are things. In every food category there are things. And I’ve prepared lists and so on and some of them are in some of my books that go through that and rank them and show you which brands have the lower amounts of sugar. But the easiest way to do it is just to eat whole food.

I’m only talking about sugar added to food. So, eat whole fruit. Eat whole vegetables. Eat milk; dairy, eggs: whole food. Some will be required. And if you do want to eat processed food, then that’s when you need to get careful.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, OK, even when you cook your own meals, at least you start to know what’s going in them. I mean. . .

David Gillespie: I mean, if you add sugar, you’ll be aware of it. You know, you can’t accidentally pour sugar into a meal.

Stuart Cooke: Yeah, absolutely. What’s your thoughts on people that say, you know, you need sugar for energy?

David Gillespie: We do. You need glucose for energy. So, remember that sugar is half glucose and half fructose. And you do need glucose for energy. As I said before, your brain runs on nothing else. And if you don’t eat something that can be converted to glucose, it will convert protein to glucose.

So, you do need glucose. You are a machine that runs on fuel. The fuel glucose. But that’s not the same as table sugar. Table sugar is only half glucose. The other half is this fructose stuff.

And some people say, yeah, but don’t I need the glucose half of it? No. Because everything you eat, ultimately, gets converted to glucose. And so you don’t need to eat sugar to get the glucose.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, and I think that’s where a lot of the confusion can lie.

Stuart Cooke: I think especially in energy and sports drinks and gels as well where people think that they need that added burst of sugar, which if I, just thinking back to my childhood day, I used to drink Lucozade, and I think that is one of the only drinks at the time that is glucose-based, right?

David Gillespie: That’s right. It’s only glucose-based. And it’s used for glucose tolerance tests even today in hospitals, because it’s the only drink you can use that is sweetened only with glucose. And so it’s a great sports drink because it’s only sweetened with glucose.

Stuart Cooke: Right. Perfect.

Stuart Cooke: So, your comments on fruit. So, I guess number one: Is fruit the enemy? Should be eating it? How much should we be eating?

David Gillespie: There’s no need to eat it. If you want to eat it, then treat it like what it is, which is nature’s dessert. So, you know, rare. You could have up to two whole pieces of fruit a day if you wanted to. Personally, I don’t eat any unless it’s offered to me. I don’t go out of my way to consume it. There’s nothing you can get in fruit that you can’t get in an equivalent vegetable without a whole lot less fructose.

But that being said, if you really like fruit, there’s no reason to not eat it. And if you’re going to eat fruit, then I’d veer toward things that are higher in fiber and lower in fructose such as all of the berries: raspberries, blueberries, strawberries. They’re all great choices and I’d steer away from things which are high in fructose and low in fiber like the three most popular fruits on sale in Australia today, which are: apples, bananas, and grapes.

So, those are the ones that I would be tending toward. But even there, have them. If you’re going to eat them as whole fruit, then go for it. If that’s your only source of fructose in a day, you’re not doing yourself any harm.

Stuart Cooke: OK. It’s amazing how your palate changes over time as well when you do eliminate sugar, because I used to devour bananas and now I can barely stomach them because they are so sweet.

David Gillespie: And that’s exactly right. I used to think bananas were the most boring fruit in the world. Completely tasteless, powdery fruit, why would anyone eat them? And now, you’re right, I have one and it’s like dessert to me. It is massively sweet. And so that palate changes is really an important part of knowing when you’re off sugar.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, absolutely. And I look at it exactly the same, you know. I like to think I’m on top of my nutrition and my food and I have a piece of fruit and I thoroughly enjoy it. But I generally don’t have 10 apples and a fruit juice in the morning.

David Gillespie: And if you did sit down and eat 10 apples, you wouldn’t be eating much else. You really wouldn’t. That’s a lot of fruit. But you could drink the juice of 10 apples very easily and still have a meal.

Guy Lawrence: That’s right. Absolutely. Yeah.

David Gillespie: So it’s only when we juice it; all juicing is really just extracting the sugar and throwing away everything else. There’s no reason to ever consume juice. It’s just soft drink.

Stuart Cooke: Another question I wanted to raise, because, you know, I follow Sarah Wilson’s blog as well, and saw an interview with you on there awhile back. I think it was an audio podcast. And there was just a stream of heated discussions afterwards with different people coming in, and arguments.

So I just wanted to raise, you know, where do the arguments lie, and why is there the critics out there that are against, basically, the whole fructose thing?

David Gillespie: This is very threatening to some very lucrative XXrulers of gold?XX. It’s a very threatening message. It is not called “white gold” for nothing. Processed food companies add sugar to food because they know it sells more with it. They don’t want to have to remove it. That’s why it’s not part of the accreditation for the Heart Foundation tick. It’s not even a criteria. They don’t even pay any attention to it at all. Because if they did, almost nothing would receive a tick.

So, the thing about sugar is that it moves a lot of product and there are a lot of people whose money depends on continuing to move that product. And those companies have put a lot of effort into muddying the water, into putting confusing science out there, to mounting clandestine lobbying.

And the process is almost identical to what the tobacco lobby undertook in the ’60s and ’70s. Almost identical. Sponsoring dubious science, having scientists on the payroll to do weird studies that if you design it just the right way it will come out showing that smoking’s all right. Recruiting; well, with smoking it was recruiting doctors. Now it’s more recruiting dieticians. But it’s the same basic plan.

Guy Lawrence: Well, certainly speaking for myself, you know, the moment I stopped putting sugar in my body I definitely noticed the difference. Even allergies went over time and things like that that I had before.

David Gillespie: Yeah. You’ll find most people report a whole series of things that are seemingly unrelated to sugar. And the interesting thing is, a lot of them can be traced back through sound biochemical processes to an explanation from fructose.

Some can’t. I still can’t explain why a lot of people report massive improvements in eczema. I don’t know why that is. But when people quite sugar, their eczema goes, even if they’ve had chronic eczema their entire life. It goes. And I don’t know what that is. I’ve looked and looked and looked. But, you know, that’s one that I can’t explain.

But a lot of them you can trace back biochemically to why they found it different.

Stuart Cooke: I got a question from Susie Lee, via our Facebook channel as well, and I think it relates a little bit to probably ourselves as well, or especially Guy and myself. Susie was wondering if you ever felt pressured into eating sugar. How do you avoid the awkward family gatherings where sugar is everywhere? Because I know the way that Guy and I, myself, present ourselves, sometimes we feel ostracized in the way that we behave in social gatherings.

David Gillespie: You know what? At the start, that was a problem. Now, obviously, the best way to fix that is write a book about it and then no one offers you sugar ever again. In fact, people tend not to eat sugar in your presence.

But, at the start, absolutely. And I found the easiest way to get around the awkwardness of it is to not make a fuss about. Just, you know, if there’s something you can eat, eat it. If there isn’t, don’t eat. Wait till you get home and find something to eat. Don’t make a big fuss about: “Oh, have you go something that hasn’t got sugar in it?” You know? Just pay attention and pretty quickly you just fit right in.

The people who find it most difficult, and this was me right at the start, is people who say, “I really wouldn’t mind; have you got a version of that without sugar?” And then people think you are a real pain.

Stuart Cooke: The awkward moments come, though. You can be at a birthday party or something and the cake comes ’round and I’m thinking, “If I eat this, I’m gonna have a stinkin’ headache later.” You know?

David Gillespie: You know, my strategy for that is: Find someone who’s still eating sugar and chop a bit off their piece of cake and have it just so that you can be part of it. You make a wish for the person and so on. And you’re not gonna eat the rest.

Stuart Cooke: Fair enough. We got another Facebook question that came in as well. It was: “I’d like to know what is worse: sugar or sweeteners and the use of macrosweeteners like honey, agave, dates, etcetera in cooking.” Are they OK or are they just heightening our tastes for more sugar?

David Gillespie: OK. So, honey and agave and, what was the other one? Dates? All of those sorts of things are just expensive ways to white sugar. So, you’re not changing anything by switching from sugar to honey. Honey is still half fructose. In fact, when sugar was first discovered, it was called “honey without bees.” Because the only kind of sugar we had before that was honey.

So, it’s; you’re not changing anything by switching to agave. Agave, dates, etcetera are about 60 to 70 percent fructose. So, those are not substitutes for sugar. They are sugar.

Other things, artificial sweeteners and such, are better-known for high-intensity sweeteners and you get into the whole artificial-natural debate. High-intensity sweeteners like stevia, sucralose, aspartame, things like Splenda and so on; those things are referred to as methadone for sugar addicts. So, they are great to get you off the addiction.

I developed quite a serious habit with artificially sweetened soft drinks while I was going through the withdrawal phase, which can last two to four weeks, or, in some people’s cases, even months.

And the interesting thing, though, is, as you were saying before, Stuart, about the palate change is that as you start to go though the withdrawal, those things become less and less appealing. And the reason for that is they start to taste less and less like sugar. At the start, they taste just like sugar. A barely detectable difference.

By the end of withdrawal, they start to taste very much like a chemical. And you find yourself really not enjoying it much at all. And I got to the point, probably around the three- or four-week mark, where I was having these things and thinking, “You know what? I think I’d rather just have a fizzy water than this stuff, because it’s just not tasting very nice.”

And so it’s not like I read the science and decided to not consume them. Because the science is a bit iffy either way. There’s plenty of science that says they’re perfectly safe. There’s plenty of science that says they’re not, depending on who’s paid for the study. If the sugar industry paid for it or the people making the substance paid for it.

But I prefer to take the view, you know, using it during withdrawal is not gonna kill you. And it does help you get through withdrawal.

Guy Lawrence: If someone walked up to you on the street and said, you know, I was a big sugar eater; should I go cold turkey or should I wean off it? What would you say to them?

David Gillespie: Look, I think weaning off is just pure torture. I think you’d have to have extraordinary reserves of willpower to be doing that. And what that would require is correctly identifying every bit of sugar in your diet and then systematically removing a percentage of it every day. Five percent, 10 percent, whatever, and ensuring that you stick to that.

To me, that would be torture. But that’s just me. Some people tell me that that’s exactly what they need and it worked great for them. Most people who are successful at this, though, tell me that the way they do it is they go cold turkey. And they just have a great big bin of all their favorite foods and then the next morning, they’re off. And they don’t go near it again until they no longer have the cravings.

And believe me, it is a withdrawal. It is very much like withdrawal from smoking. I have never smoked, so I can’t tell you from personal experience, but people who have given up smoking and given up sugar tell me the experience is almost identical. You can an intense period of cravings, you get the mood swings, you get the depression, you get the headaches. Except that with sugar, the cravings feel like hunger so that you are constantly hungry, or at least you think you are. But the reality is that you’re not. That’s just how your body knows to get you to eat sugar.

Stuart Cooke: And another question popped in regarding the sweetness. Coconut sugar. Have you done anything. . .

David Gillespie: It’s just sugar. Another way to spend a lot of money on sugar.

Stuart Cooke: Because I see that flying around a lot at the moment, coconut sugar, you know.

David Gillespie: Coconut everything. I mean, the only thing out of a coconut that is good is oil. And that’s an entirely different topic for another day.

Stuart Cooke: We won’t broach that right now.

We’d like to steer it over a little bit into children. Obviously, you’ve got a big clan. I’ve got three children too. So, I’m very interested in steering them on the right track. Do you have any recommendations, perhaps, for lunch boxes? Because lots of people struggle with this because of all of the kiddie snacks out there, I guess, with yoghurts, obviously fruit, raisins; little boxes of raisins, and sandwiches and the like. What would you recommend for a really simple child’s lunchbox?

David Gillespie: The first thing is that you are going to be almost; it’s almost impossible to buy pre-packaged anything for children that isn’t full of sugar. So, right away you’ve got a difficulty in that whatever you put in their lunchbox, you’re gonna be making. And the only choice for you is how much effort do you want to put into making it.

Now, I put out a recipe book earlier this year. And a lot of people said, “Why do you even need a recipe book if you’re off sugar? Surely you don’t even want cakes and stuff.” One of the big motivations for it is for kids’ lunchboxes. Kids still need stuff in their lunchboxes and so we created recipes just using dextrose, which is the glucose half of sugar. So, just glucose as the sweetener. And these are recipes for things like cake and biscuits and the things kids have in their lunchboxes.

And what Lizzie does, my wife, is make those; cook up a big batch of that sort of stuff on the weekends, cling-wrap portions of it, and freeze it. And then, when it comes to dealing out lunchboxes, she just reaches into the freezer and plunks it in.

And that’s the way to deal with. There really is no other efficient way to do it. The other thing you can do is just get really good at making sandwiches, putting whole fruit in there has obviously not changed. Put a banana in if you want. Just don’t put dried fruit, juices, or packaged processed food. And anything else goes.

Stuart Cooke: Yeah, right. Because the thing is with kids is you’ve got same problem with adults with the parties and they’re gonna go to these things and sugar’s everywhere.

David Gillespie: Look, and there’s nothing you can do about that and nor should you try. I have a rule in this house which is: “Party food is for parties.” So, it’s not for every minute of every hour of every day. It’s for parties. And our kids go to parties with kids in their class and they’ll eat sugar and that’s just the way it is. But their exposure to sugar is infinitesimally small compared to all of their peers.

And the interesting thing is that if they do eat sugar, pig out at a party, they often come home with a hangover. And this really surprised me. And I’m not joking when I call it a hangover. It is like an adult with an alcohol hangover. They have headaches. They start saying things like, “Never again.” You know? Are really genuinely meaning it. Until the next time.

And it’s really interesting to watch. And also their capacity to eat it is also limited by the fact that they don’t eat it all the time.

Stuart Cooke: That is a good point. . . . I’ve got a little trick. I’ve got three girls and I give them a nice bowl of porridge before they go out the door so they’re not. . .

David Gillespie: That’s a good trick. I wish I’d thought of that. That is a good trick. Fill them up before they get there.

Stuart Cooke: Exactly right. Yeah. It does help.

I’ve got a few kind of miscellaneous questions as well. And I might jump into the top one, Guy, if you don’t mind.

Guy Lawrence: Go for it.

Stuart Cooke: Your thoughts on bread- and wheat-based products, given the high glycemic load.

David Gillespie: I don’t pay a lot of attention to glycemic index or glycemic load. I think they’re nonsense terms. I don’t think they’re helpful at all for anyone who’s not diabetic. And even for people who are diabetic, I’m not entirely certain they’re very helpful.

The way our body deals with carbohydrate is with a glycemic response. That is, we release insulin to use the glucose that’s in our blood. Now, the efficiency of that response is measured by the degree to which we’ve impaired our insulin response by consuming fructose.

So, yes, someone who has spent their entire life, like me, consuming fructose, has probably seriously damaged their glycemic response. And it may take a long time to repair that damage. And so you might want to be cautious about carbohydrates.

The interesting thing that I have found is, once you give up the sugar, carbohydrates are a far less enticing thing. You don’t find yourself craving carbs anywhere near as much as you did before. And that’s probably because there’s a lot of sugar addiction involved in the process.

I am working on research on the degree to which we should be worried about carbs, and even proteins like gluten that you find in bread, and fibers. And, ultimately, that will turn into a book, I suspect.

But for the moment, I would say: Do what most people do, which is break the addiction first. Break the addiction. Then you can start to make seriously sensible choices about what you choose to put in your mouth. Because one thing people who do break the addiction find is they fill up quickly. So, once they have a functioning appetite control system, they find themselves not able to eat anywhere near as much as they used to be able to get through. And I used to; I found that, too. You’d sit down to a meal that you previously would have knocked back, no worries at all, and you start getting a half or two-thirds of the way through and thinking, “Oh, I really can’t finish this. I’m really full.”

And that’s just your hormones working; your appetite control system working. And when that starts happening, people start saying, you know, with that happening, I’ve got to be really choosy about what I put in my mouth, because I know my appetite control system’s not gonna let me put that much of anything in my mouth. So, if I have this big slice of dextrose cake for afternoon tea or this big bit of cheesecake for afternoon tea, I know that I’m not gonna fit my dinner in. And then it’s a balance between what’s for dinner and do I really like it or do I prefer it over this piece of cake.

So, people find themselves starting to make choices about what they put in their mouth. And a lot of people start doing things like saying, “You know what? I just don’t get that much out of carbs anymore. And I find when I’m not eating them, I feel better. So I won’t eat them that much.”

Stuart Cooke: Would it be possible for our audience who may be a little confused just to kind of loosely run through what you might perhaps eat in a day.

David Gillespie: Sure. So, let’s talk about today. I started today, my 12-year-old boy very helpfully cooked me some bacon and eggs this morning. That was a nice bit of meal: bacon with all the fat still on and an egg. And then I’ve just had lunch, which was I some leftover mince on toast, basically. And the toast was sourdough bread that my wife made a day or two ago. Now, the reason she’s making bread is just to avoid the seed oils, which is a topic for another day. But it also helps you avoid sugar.

And for dinner; what will dinner be? Well, tonight it’s likely going to be some sort of pasta and meat sauce, I suspect.

Stuart Cooke: Yeah, right, OK.

David Gillespie: That’s not our typical; that’s just because of Friday night. Normally it’s some sort of meat and veg kind of fare.

Stuart Cooke: Got it. OK.

Guy Lawrence: I have another question that popped in there and we haven’t got it down, only because I CrossFit. You know, I love my exercise. But from reading your books as well, you discuss the topic of weight loss and exercise and the relationship there.

I’d love you just to share your views on that, because, you know, from what I find, when I train more, my appetite goes up and I generally et more food and if I’m not careful I can eat the wrong foods, you know, and that’s what I’ve seen from my experience over the years, especially working as a fitness trainer. But I’d just love you to share that with us a little bit for people.

David Gillespie: Well, when you expend more calories doing anything, if you spend Saturday out in the yard working, whereas you normally sit at a desk, you’ll eat more on Saturday. Your body is a complex machine that measures the amount of energy you burn and the amount that you consume and make sure it stays in balance.

And the same goes for exercise. It doesn’t matter if you’re out mowing the lawn or doing exercise in a gym. If you burn more energy, your body will ask you to eat more food. In other words, it will increase your appetite. And that’s not a bad thing at all. That’s a perfectly good thing and perfectly normal thing.

The problem is when the appetite control system is broken, and that’s what fructose does. It messes with the hormones that control how much we eat. And it just knocks your system up, just a fraction, not much, just a tiny little bit, maybe a quarter of a Monte Carlo biscuit’s worth.

But you do that every day for years, end-on-end cumulatively, and you start to get the kind of weight gain that you are seeing in the Australian population.

Guy Lawrence: And so for anyone listening to this that’s thinking of putting their runners on tomorrow and going for a run, that eat sugar and fructose as well, they should be given the fructose up first. Which sounds. . .

David Gillespie: The thing about exercise, people think that I’ve got something against exercise. And I have nothing against exercise. Do it if you feel like it. And the reality is that since I’ve lost the weight, I feel like doing it a lot more than I did before. And a lot of people report that, which is after they lose the weight they exercise more than they ever did before. Not because of the weight; just because they feel like doing it more.

And so if you feel like doing it, if you really enjoy it, then keep doing it. If you’re doing it because you think you’ll lose weight doing it, don’t bother.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s fair enough. It’s funny because I train constantly. Most days. But I do it because I mentally feel fantastic after it, you know? That’s what drives me to do it.

David Gillespie: My 16-year-old boy, he’s a rower. He trains 40 hours a week. OK? He is an exercise nutbag. He does it because he loves it. Not because he wants to lose weight.

Guy Lawrence: That’s a good point.

Stuart Cooke: That’s right, and that’s kind of what we tell lots of people, too. There are so many benefits from cardiovascular. Feel good. It’s your own time as well. You’re there and you can process thoughts and get through anything that might be on your mind. But as a tool for weight loss, I do struggle to see the connection as well. But see what happens.

I’m just wondering about the future for David Gillespie at the moment. What does the future hold? You mentioned the possibility of another book? What’s in the pipeline?

David Gillespie: Well, one of the things that I’m doing at the moment is I’m really focusing on is, I put a book out earlier this year called Toxic Oil, which is about the dangers of vegetable oils. And by “dangers” I mean they are even more insidiously dangerous than the sugar. At least you can taste sugar. You can’t taste these oils, and they’re added to every food on the supermarket shelf.

And there’s clear evidence that they double the rate of cancer in humans. And when we’re seeing the phenomenal increase in rates of cancer that we’re currently seeing, it scares me. I know a lot of people now who have cancer, who are suffering from it. And I really want that message to get out there loud and clear.

So, I am focusing on that and I will focus on that in the immediate future.

Next year I have a book coming out on a completely unrelated topic, which I’ll reveal more about towards the end of the year. It’s nothing to do with nutrition. And we’ll see where go from there.

But as I said to you before, one of my areas of focus at the moment is the whole, I guess the “bread cortex,” if you want; the gluten, fiber, carb question. Are any of these things bad, good, indifferent for us?

Stuart Cooke: Definitely. I’ve just read a very interesting book about that, so I’d love for you to put your spin in the way that you write as well and research and resource. I’d be very interested.

David Gillespie: It is interesting.

Stuart Cooke: Oh, it is. It will stir up our household as well because I’ve been though Sweet Poison two or three times and Toxic Oil and our cupboard seems to be changing from month to month, and it’s a topic of discussion.

David Gillespie: Well, it’s probably going backwards in time. If you follow what I say in Toxic Oil, you’ll find yourself making most of what you eat and, really, your cupboard starting to consist of mostly raw ingredients.

Guy Lawrence: Exactly. You know, the one thing I wanted to add as well, because, you know, I’m single. I live by myself. And it’s very easy for me to, if I do shop, I can just get whatever. But once families are involved, you know, it’s amazing. And I’m sure that day will come for me and it’s gonna be a whole new challenge.

David Gillespie: You need a partner that’s going to help. People tell me it’s very, very difficult to go it alone on this, you know? Very difficult for you to just decide, “Well, I’m gonna do this,” and the rest of the family will just keep eating a normal, modern diet. That’s very difficult to do. So you need to have everybody working on the same page.

But, look, the good news is you’re not going to do yourself any harm at all by doing this, and you learn an amazing set of new skills. If you’d said to me, two years ago, “You are going to be cooking the only bread you eat,” I would have laughed at you. Because that sounded like way too much effort. But the reality is that that’s what we’re doing now. And the end result is we eat a lot less bread because if you’ve got to cook it yourself, you’re not gonna eat that much of it.

Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. We’re almost reconnecting with skills that have been lost along the way and we’re actually learning how to eat again.

David Gillespie: We’re also learning that it isn’t that hard. A lot of these things sound daunting if you’ve never done it. But once you have done it, you find it’s actually just not that hard.

Guy Lawrence: Any other questions?

Stuart Cooke: Yeah, I’m just gonna ask a little bit of a wrap-up question, really, and we ask all of our guests this and I’m guessing that I probably know the answer. But if you can offer a single piece of advice for optimum health and wellness, what would it be?

David Gillespie: Don’t eat sugar. But, look, if you really want to be super duper well and avoid just about every chronic disease in modern society, then don’t eat sugar or vegetable oil.

Stuart Cooke: Yeah, right. OK. Perfect.

Guy Lawrence: Perfect answer.

Stuart Cooke: And for anybody that would like to get hold of your books or find more about the resource, where can they connect with you?

David Gillespie: Well, look, if they want my books, they go to a bookstore. My books will be available just about anyplace that sells books. If they want the books signed by me, they can buy them from my website, but they’re a lot more expensive that way. If you don’t care, then your average bookstore or supermarket is a good place.

If you want to connect with a community of people who are like-minded, then the very best place is the Facebook page Sweet Poison, which I think has 49,000 people on it. And they are all gung-ho. Get on there with any question; they’ll answer it, and if they can’t, I will.

Stuart Cooke: Yeah, fantastic. I went through the forums the other day and I was surprised at the amount of engagement in there. The numbers are voluminous, and it’s a really community as well. Fantastic.

David Gillespie: And very knowledgeable. I mean, these people know their stuff. You know, people put stuff up on Facebook. . . I check it every day to see if there’s anything getting missed or where people are not getting the answers that they need and that almost never happens. Everyone else is already well and truly there and giving them everything they need to know.

Stuart Cooke: Fantastic. You’re making a lot of people aware of what they should be putting in their mouth, David, which is a great thing.

Guy Lawrence: OK. All right. Well, look, thank you so much for sharing your time and also writing these great books as well. And we hope to have you back on the show in the not-too-distant future talking about the oils.

Stuart Cooke: We’ll talk about oil.

David Gillespie: That’s right.

It was a pleasure. Good to see you guys.

 

Chad Mackay (CrossFit Athlete): How I Eat, Train & Recover

chad_mackayFor those of you that CrossFit, Australian legend Chad Mackay needs no introduction. For those that don’t, I would best describe him as one of the finest athletes in the country!

It was an awesome pleasure to be able to have an in-depth interview with him. So no matter what sport or discipline you are into, there’s so much to learn from the big man.

- You can follow Chad Mackay on Facebook here.

- If you are interested in being coached at Chad’s gyms click here.

chad mackay
 

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In this weeks episode:-

  • Who is Chad Mackay & what is CrossFit
  • What a typical day looks like for Chad
  • What he eats, including pre/post training
  • The hurdles people face when starting CrossFit for the first time
  • Why mobility is important (learn more about mobility here)
  • The fine line between training and over training
  • and much more…

You can view all Health Session episodes here.

Check out our Ultimate Guide to Post Workout Recovery for CrossFit Here

Chad Mackay Transcript

Welcome to The Health Sessions podcast. Each episode we cut to the chase as we hang out with real people with real results.

Stuart Cooke: I hope Guy hasn’t been boring you, Chad.

Chad Mackay: No. No. No, buddy. He just told me that you must have been perming your hair or something like that.

Stuart Cooke: Mate, you know what I’ve been doing? I’ve been working out on a trigger-point grid.

Chad Mackay: All right!

Stuart Cooke: Are you proud of me? I’m rolling out. That’s what I’m doing. I’m getting back to 100 percent.

Guy Lawrence: He’s getting there. I’m still in shock that he’s got a blue t-shirt on like last time. We interviewed Christine the other week and we ended up; but I got in theme today, see? I’ve got my CrossFit t-shirt on.

Stuart Cooke: All right. OK. That’s really good.

Guy Lawrence: Fair enough. All right, so, we might as well start. Anyone listening to this, I’m Guy Lawrence. We’ve got Stuart Cooke and a very special guest, Mr. Chad Mckay.
Chad, welcome. Thanks for dropping in and joining us, mate.

Chad Mackay: Cheers, guys. Very excited.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, so, what we thought we’d do was, obviously, you don’t need any introduction within CrossFit, you know, but we have a lot of listeners as well; a lot of non-CrossFitters as well. And we were kind of just chatting yesterday about how we can, because, as far as I’m concerned, you’re one of the best athletes in the country.

You know, you’re a coach as well and there’s so much more to get from you than just CrossFit. So, we thought we’d divide it up into two parts. So, we’ll chat a bit more broader first and then we’ll delve into WODs and Fran times and all that kind of stuff afterwards, because people are wondering what the hell we’re on about.

Chad Mackay: Sure. Sounds good.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, fair enough. So, mate, just to start, then, can you just tell us a little bit about yourself for the people that have no idea what CrossFit is or what you do?

Chad Mackay: Yeah, sure, sure. So, CrossFit’s basically a combination of kind of gymnastics movements, Olympic weightlifting, and strength and conditioning and also kind of hybrid movements using different kind of apparatus: kettle bells; stuff like that. And we put them in workouts and we try and use those different elements to try and pretty much become competent across a whole broad range of exercises and movements.

And yet, it first started off over in the States back in 1996 and it was basically started by a guy called Greg Glassman, and he was a gymnast and then he got a couple of serious injuries and he wanted to start his own kind of athletic performance gym and that’s how, kind of, CrossFit came about. He started training clients and athletes in his own garage back in LA and it’s kind of grown from there.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right. I didn’t realize it went that far back: ’96.
Chad Mackay: It’s been around for a few years, and it’s slowly evolved over time and, obviously, sponsors and the like have been involved over the last couple of years and the sport’s just taken off.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, OK. Because, like, we’ve been involved probably, I think Homebush was probably our first real experience of it, which was, I think, three regionals ago.

And we’ve seen that growth unbelievable, you know, just within that time. It’s quite a; it’s a unique thing because when we turned up, like, I knew CrossFitters before that but I’d never been to a regional competition, and it’s really hard to describe for your first experience if you ever see it, you know. We kind of talked about it like being WODstock.

Chad Mackay: Yes!

Guy Lawrence: Or Woodstock, but now it’s WODstock. So, we had all these sort of interesting characters looking around that are absolute fine specimens eating whole chickens and the only thing that was missing was the music festival at the same time, you know?

Chad Mackay: Yeah, absolutely.

Guy Lawrence: So, you coach as well, don’t you, outside?

Chad Mackay: I’ve got a couple of gyms over on north shore of Sydney. One’s in Waverton and the other is in Artarmon. And there’s myself and a couple of other business partners.

And we take care of most of the coaching classes there, so, you know, the class is broken up pretty much into, like a general warm-up for the class and every round there will be either one or two coaches on in the class and we’ll have somewhere between five and 15 to 20 people. We’ll get through the general warm-up, some mobility, normally some kind of skill, and then we’ll do a strength component and then a conditioning piece as well. So, that’s what a lot of people mainly know CrossFit and kind of the generalization is we only really do a hard workout and it’s like a circuit-style training, but there’s a lot more involved than just the WOD, so to speak, or the Workout Of the Day.

So, the athletes get a little bit more exposure to a whole bunch of different movements rather than just a conditioning piece in the workout.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, fair enough. I mean, the one thing I just want to say as well is that, because you’re a competitive athlete, you know. You go into the World Games. That achievement in itself is gynormous. And so, what I’m interested in is, what does your typical day look like, because, A, you’re a professional athlete, even though it’s probably not recognized as a professional sport. You know, you’re doing all this coaching, it’s a full-time gig, like, what’s a typical day for you?

Chad Mackay: A typical day would be, let’s take yesterday, for example. I started work at 6 a.m., so the alarm was set for 18 minutes past 5. And then I’ve got 12 minutes to quickly have a shake, get out the door, get dressed, get to work by 5:45, coach two classes in the morning, and then I’ve got admin work to do until about 11 o’clock.

And then I train from 11 until about 1 o’clock, so a two-hour session. And that session goes pretty much back-to-back, going through a similar structure to our classes, kind of like general warm-ups and skill, some Olympic lifting, and some strength.

And then I had clients from 1:30 until 4:30. And then I coached three classes and then I had another client at 7:30 and then home by about 9 o’clock.

Guy Lawrence: Wow. I’m tired listening to you.

Stuart Cooke: Straight to bed.

I’m interested about your clients, Chad. Tell about their diversity, because I have seen, just within a CrossFit-type gym, youngsters to the elderly as well, which wouldn’t be your typical, kind of, gym junkie.

Chad Mackay: Absolutely. My clients that I train one-on-one range from, I’ve got a Paralympic swimmer that I train; his name’s Matt Levy. So, I train him a couple of times a week. I train Lynne Knapman. She is a master’s competitor who has competed in the last three CrossFit Games in the category of 50 to 55. So, she’s doing really well. And then I’ve got just some athletes that just want to try and improve their general strength; they may be fairly new to CrossFit.
So, there’s just a broad spectrum of, kind of, ages and abilities there. But regardless of who I’m training, everyone just really has the same kind of consensus of: Let’s try and improve and see what our body is capable of doing and you see those small little improvements and I think that’s why people kind of really find that CrossFit and the kind of strength and conditioning that we do at the gym is really beneficial to people’s bodies.

So, it’s not only the people who are training, whether it’s an elite athlete going to the Olympics or the CrossFit Games, but we have the normal Joe Blow off the street who just wants to improve their flexibility, so to speak. They might sit at a desk for eight hours a day and they’ve got really tight upper body; thoracic. So, yeah, just some general, super-general flexibility issues that we can kind of address during classes or whether they come to see one of the coaches for a one-on-one session.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, fair enough. What are the most common issues you’d see with clients when they first start training? Do they come there for, like, weight loss or muscle gain and then they’re opened up to CrossFit and their mindset will completely change around it, or. . .

Chad Mackay: Oh, there’s a whole; it’s probably more along the lines of: People hear about CrossFit and it’s normally from a friend or they’ve heard about the community and what’s involved in the community at the gym. So, it’s a lot of word-of-mouth. But the general issues that we have coming to the gym is people sit down at a desk all day and they’re in a flexed position where the hip’s closed off, the shoulders are closed off, and they’ve got a really forward head tilt. So, they’re the main issues.

So, we may get a fairly strong person that comes in that can’t overhead squat a broomstick just because their body is holding them back from being able to hold a bar overhead and do a simple movement like an overhead squat.

Guy Lawrence: We got a question here about mobility, so we’ll touch on that first while we are on it.

Chad MacKay: Sure.

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Guy Lawrence: The first time I ever, because remember I mentioned I used to work with Lynne, who you know as well, and she was fabulous CrossFitter. And I’ll never forget the day about, it must have been about four years ago where she was overhead squatting in the gym I was working at. And I went down, I started chatting, and it was 60 kilos, I think.

And it was the first time I was exposed to an overhead squat and she’s like, “Yeah, go on. Let’s see you do it.” And I’m there, you know, all ego, throw the bar above my head, and I move about two inches and I couldn’t do it. And that was my first exposure to mobility, and probably CrossFit as well.

And I think mobility is something that’s overlooked by everyone, and only CrossFit seems to embrace it. Like, I remember working in a gym. You know, you traditionally warm up, you might do a bit of a stretch, and then you get into your exercise. But you walk into a CrossFit gym, you’ve got people who almost look like they’re grinding the floor because they’re rolling out in something.

Stuart Cooke: It is a bizarre sight; I’ll give you that.

Guy Lawrence: It’s amazing. And so, could you just tell us a little bit more about, I guess, mobility, the importance of it, and why so many people suffer from it? You know, I think it’s so untouched outside the. . .

Chad Mckay: Absolutely. The main issue is when people sit down, it obviously closes off the front of the hip and over time you will find yourself sitting at a computer, and, like I said before, that forward head-tilt, that decrease in kind of range of movement at the shoulder joint, everything’s pretty much facing forward and there is no real posterior chain, so. . .

Posterior chain is everything pretty much at the back of your body, so glutes, hamstrings, and kind of the rectus. And when you’re setting down on a chair, it just promotes you to sit forward and use everything in the frontal plane and, over time, eight hours sitting in that position, and then people normally go to the gym and they’ll normally train what’s at the front, so: chest, biceps.

So, how CrossFit differs from that, it pretty much tries to tell you to pretty much work everything in that posterior chain. Dead lifting, squatting, and doing things like pull-ups and overhead squats is going to develop that posterior chain, and over time, hopefully, get people into a more of an extended position; a more upright body posture and shape.

Stuart Cooke: Do you think there would be anything that we could do at home, outside of a gym environment, that would just help loosen us up? You know: stand up straight, shoulders back, anything along those kind of lines?

Chad Mackay: Well, there’s some simple things where you can lay flat on the floor and there’s just a basic movement called a glute bridge where it opens the hip up and it gets the butt and the hamstrings nice and strong. And that’s just a simple hip raise up off the floor.

Also, another very simple exercise is just stretching out in front of the sides of the neck and also possibly laying on the floor again and just pulling the chin down to the floor to kind of lengthen out the back of the neck. Just some really simple things to kind of loosen up and not let the body get in this position. So, yeah. The glute bridge, the side of the neck stretch, and then the kind of back-of-the-neck stretch on the floor.

Guy Lawrence: Do you mobilize every day, Chad?

Chad Mackay: Pretty much every day.

Stuart Cooke: Every minute, I think, Guy. Not every day.

Guy Lawrence: I still keep coming back to the fact that you can snatch 130 kilos. Mobility must have, you know, played a big part in being able to do that.

Chad Mackay: Man, absolutely. If I go to the movies with my girlfriend, I’ll take a small little golf ball and put that golf ball on the ground and I’ll just get some release on the bottom of my feet. So, I’ll spend 45 minutes on each foot and it does make a big difference. It’s like going for a massage. I had a massage this morning and my body feels like it’s already improved a little bit and I can feel the difference already. So, if I can get 45 minutes on each foot while I’m going to the movies, buddy, that’s perfect.

Stuart Cooke: That’s a top tip.

I’ve got a question about your diet. You know, you do a huge amount throughout your day. What does your typical daily look like? What are you eating and how much do you eat?

Chad Mackay: Well, in the off season I’ll tend to eat a little bit more. During the season, I try and weigh and measure most of my meals. Otherwise, I just feel like I can overeat quite easily. So, I just need to be quite strict on what I do eat and at what times.

A general day would be five meals, and those meals would be spaced about four hours apart. Breakfast will be about a quarter past 5 in the morning where I’ll have a shake, a banana, and a handful of nuts. About an hour before training in the morning I’ll have just a really small snack, kind of pre-workout, and then post-workout I’ll try and have a full meal, whether that will be chicken or lamb. So, some type of flesh. And then a big salad, sweet potato, and that will be kind of drenched in olive oil and avocado. And I’ll have a piece of fruit after I work out.

My meals are basically the same for the rest of the day, so brekkie and post-workout meal and then that post-workout meal is the same for the next three meals throughout the day.

Guy Lawrence: Where do you get your carbs from? So, mainly sweet potato and fruit and veggies?

Chad Mackay: Sweet potato and fruit and veggies.

Guy Lawrence: Do you eat any grains?

Chad Mackay: No grains at all.

Guy Lawrence: Good man.

Chad Mackay: No grains at all.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, because I only raise it as well because there’s a common myth that you need, traditionally, if you’re a high-end athlete that grains are one of the main sources of energy.

Stuart Cooke: Hmm. When did you eliminate your grains, Chad? And, I guess, why?

Chad Mackay: I personally eliminated grains, it would have been around about five years ago. I looked into, when I first started CrossFit, I looked into a diet called the Zone Diet and that’s basically portion control and how much protein, carbohydrate, and fat we should have at every meal. But with the Zone Diet, that’s structured a little bit differently where, if you want to have a Big Mac for a meal, you just need to take the top of the bun off and eat kind of the bottom layer of the bun and the ingredients through the middle and that will keep your blood sugars at a certain level so you don’t have a spike in insulin.

And that didn’t really sit well with me, so I decided to stick with the kind of favorable carbohydrates and the kind of clean meats and veggies. So I stuck to that, pretty much religiously, for about three months, and I went from being 116 kilos and I dropped down to about 105 kilos in three months.

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Stuart Cooke: Wow.
Chad Mackay: The initial two weeks I lost probably three or four kilos in that initial two weeks and then I slowly tapered off after that. And then I kind of got introduced to the Paleo Diet, which is basically anything that had a face, you can eat, and anything that falls off a tree or grew in the ground you can have; it’s also known as the caveman diet. So, the last couple of years I’ve been doing that.

Guy Lawrence: When you first made your adjustments and, you know, you dropped down 10 kilos, did you performance and strength remain the same?

Chad Mackay: Well, as I transitioned between kind of bodybuilding style and kind of CrossFit movements, so I couldn’t really gauge the feeling of performance or strength. I think my strength actually dropped back a little bit initially, just because I was having that transition to a new sport.

But definitely energy levels and also a feeling of kind of being sustained throughout the day. I used to have quite large meals, so “quite large meals” would be four or five sandwiches for lunch, a liter of milk. Also, bread, rice, and pasta at pretty much every meal. And unless I felt like I was full I didn’t really feel sustained or didn’t feel like I had much energy.

So, my stomach definitely isn’t as bloated anymore and that’s probably one of the biggest things that I found is that I didn’t have that bloated feeling.

Guy Lawrence: Do you have dairy in your diet, or much, or little, or?

Chad Mackay: A little bit of dairy; not too much. Like, at the moment, I’ve cut most of the dairy out. I might have a little bit of milk in a coffee in the mornings. But when I’m trying to drop back in weight for the season, I’ll try and cut out milk. But in the off season I will add a little bit of milk occasionally.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, fair enough. Fair enough.

And; go ahead, Stewie.

Stuart Cooke: Yeah. So, just getting back to your season and your training, how do you turn into the fine line between optimum training and overtraining?

Chad Mackay: For me? Hard question for me. Because I’ve been doing it for a few years now, I just need to listen to my body. There’s a couple of young guys that train at the gym and are kind of coming through the sport in their early 20s and. . .

Stuart Cooke: Gung-ho.

Chad Mackay: Yeah, absolutely. I think if I was in my early 20s I would probably just be going 100 percent and just going flat-out every session, trying to have the thinking that, you know, more is more. For me, at the moment, I need to listen to my body. I’m a little bit older than most of the guys. If I’m feeling tired and a little bit lethargic, I’ll make sure my nutrition and sleep is spot-on. And if I’m feeling good one day, I might train for a couple of hours and do kind of two or three conditioning pieces in a day.

But at the moment I just need to listen to the little needles and just take it nice and easy when I need to. So, overtraining for me doesn’t really come into play. I’m pretty smart when it comes to that type of thing.

Stuart Cooke: Yeah, fair enough.

Guy Lawrence: Talking about your training, I saw that little Facebook post the other day and I just glanced at it and there was something about you walking around like a Michelin Man. What was that about?

Chad Mackay: I’ve heard whispers that at the CrossFit Games there’s going to be a weighted vest run, and it could be a longer-style run. We got some new, weighted vests. They weigh 20 pounds each. So, I put all three vests on. I did a 400-meter sprint, came back into the gym, took one vest off, did another 400 sprint, took the other vest off, so I was left with a 20-pound vest on, ran 400. And I went through that three times. So then I would come back in, load the three weights back on, and then away I would go. So, by the end I was more like a power walker; a little shuffle. So. . .

Guy Lawrence: Carrying 60 pounds on you! Fair enough. Good one.

What I thought we’d do as well, because obviously we put out the Facebook questions as well, and your response was enormous, by the way. I don’t know if you’ve checked them all out. And there’s some funny ones in there, too. So, we thought we’d go through some anyway.
So, we got a question from Paul Hilton. “If you hadn’t found CrossFit, what do you think you would be doing now?”

Chad Mackay: I still think I would be training in a gym, doing some kind of strength and conditioning in the gym. Be surfing a little bit more. I grew up, kind of, surfing, and whatever sport that I did play or that I was involved in I’d pretty much engross myself in that sport and try and get as good as I can. So, whether it be training in the gym, trying to push myself in the weights room, or whether I was down at the beach surfing or running the soft sand down at Bondi, I’d kind of always be looking at the clock or. . .

Guy Lawrence: That competitive nature.

Chad Mackay: It’s always been there. I think it’s one of those things that’s in the blood and evolves over time. So, whatever it would be, I would just be trying to do it the best that I can.

Stuart Cooke: Fantastic. Harrison Matra wants to know what you think of the CrossFit drug-testing model. Should it be more frequently tested in local comps to hopefully find athletes who are cycling throughout the year?

Guy Lawrence: That’s assuming if they are, I guess.

Stuart Cooke: If they are, of course.

Chad Mackay: Yeah, sure, sure. Look, I think that, regarding the local comps, those local comps are more about people wanting to have fun and get involved in the community. Those local comps are my favorite days, just to go there and see the people that have been doing CrossFit for six months and they go to a local comp.

I remember my first local comp, and it was just the most fun I’ve ever had. Driving home, the buzz that I had, you guys have experienced the same thing, you know. And if we start to get too serious about things and drug-testing people to go in those local comps, I think that’s a little bit over the top. But when it comes to the open regionals and the CrossFit games, I think if you’re going to go into the open, you should be held responsible for, obviously, if you’ve taken any performance-enhancing drugs, because it is a worldwide contest, I think that things need to be looked at a little bit more seriously there. But regarding those local comps, just get out there and have a bit of fun.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, fair enough, mate. Yeah, we remember our first local comp very well, up in Hornsby. And it was almost like, it was bizarre, because it was almost like when we first arrived it was like a scene from Fight Club or something, because we were in this underground car park and there was no one above and as soon as you go down it was just hundreds of people screaming, you know.

Yeah, the camaraderie and the buzz from it is amazing. Like, it was a lot of fun.

Chad Mackay: I had the hill sprint; I had the hill sprint in that comp.

Stuart Cooke: Yes. I remember I did.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, it was a 600-meter run up the hill and back and there was a 10-minute time clock and whatever time you had left was burpees. I remember just thinking, “You’re kidding me.”

Chad Mackay: How many burpees did you get out?

Guy Lawrence: I got out 98, I think.

Stuart Cooke: I got 115 and that was my first exposure to burpees.

Guy Lawrence: I’m ashamed.

Stuart Cooke: Thanks for taking me back there, Guy.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, no worries, man. No worries.

All right. Next question. Katrina Stewart says, “I loved watching you come out of the water last year. Do you train in the water much at all? If so, how often does your program look like?”

So, I’m assuming she’s talking about the Pendalay, is it?

Chad Mackay: The Pendleton, yeah.

Guy Lawrence: Pendleton, sorry, yeah.

Chad Mackay: Yeah, I’ve been in and out of the water since I was 5 or 6 years old, whether it be surfing down the beach with my dad and then I had a couple of buddies that were competitive swimmers, so I would jump in on the occasional swim session with those guys and get a little bit more advice on, kind of, technical help and stuff like that.

Buy, yeah, growing up in the surf really helped with that and just being confident in the water. And kind of always competing in school events. You know, I always had a bit of help and technique advice from their coaches.

And then I worked in a leisure center up on the Central Coast as a pool lifeguard, so I’ve always kind of been around the water. And regarding how much I do it in training, because I know I can swim quite well, I kind of focus my energy on other things; more weak areas. So, I might jump in the water once a fortnight, just to do a few laps and I’ll normally go down to Bronte and swim in the ocean bars down there.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, it’s beautiful down there, isn’t it?

Just for those that are listening, can you explain what the Pendleton was? Because you crushed it like the swim. You were out and gone.

Chad Mackay: Yeah, it was; we had to firstly start off with a 700-meter soft sand run and then there was an 800-meter ocean swim. And the transition onto a bike and there was an 8-kilometer trail bike ride and then an 11-kilometer trail run. So, the trail run, for me it was more like a power walk up the hills and then sprint down the hills. And it was a two-hour event.

Stuart Cooke: I think that shook a few people up, didn’t it, as a first event? Because historically I think, you know, everyone’s thinking of heavy lifts and gym movements. But to throw in something completely out of the ordinary, almost triathlon-style, really shook the boat a little bit.

Chad Mackay: Yeah, absolutely. The event after the triathlon was an obstacle course; an army-style obstacle course. There were guys that were kind of left on the balance beams or any kind of apparatus that were cramping up, just because they either hadn’t eaten food or didn’t supplement properly throughout the event. And they were suffering pretty bad from cramps, so, yeah, it absolutely shook a lot of the athletes up. And the soreness that was going to develop from that two-hour event was felt for the rest of the Games for the next three days. So, it was good one to kick us up.

Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. You never know. Shake it up, I guess, is the way to go. It’s the true test.

Thinking about those, the very nature of training in the games, I’ve got a question from Matt Gray, who asks that, “When you’re exhausted, where does your mind go when you need to dig real deep to find that extra strength and keep pushing through the pain?”

Chad Mackay: There’s a few different things that I think about. I’ve normally got a game plan to a workout and I’ll try to stick to that game plan. And then if things start to really hurt, I’ll just take my mind back to other times that I’ve hurt much worse. There was a time in the Games in 2010 where there was a rope climb at the end and I was struggling pretty bad. It was the last event. We have probably three or four minutes to climb a rope and then move back across and jump over a wall. And it was just kind of as many rounds as you could do that in the last piece. And I climbed the rope once, came down, got back down about halfway, and my grip just went and I slid pretty much from the top of the rope to the bottom and tore every single finger pad on my hand off on both hands.

Every time I start to hurt, I take myself back to there. It was 45 degrees and I had no skin left on the pads of my fingers. I always think back to that and just tell myself nothing can kind of compare to that.

And the other thing I think about a lot is I think about my family when it starts to hurt, and rather than kind of doing it for myself and trying to block out the pain, I think about them and that’s a big motivator for me as well. Just to think about family and how much support they give me and I wouldn’t be able to do it without them. So, my mind wanders to my family when I start to hurt as well.

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Guy Lawrence: That’s awesome, man. A question that just occurred: When you’re out there, do you think it’s the mindset things that differentiate a lot of the outcome? Because, like, when we looked at the open, just for the regionals, and even the regionals it was so tightly contested, it’s incredible, you know? And do you think that’s a factor about that point; being able to overcome that?

Chad Mackay: Yeah, absolutely. Like, there’s the 10 domains of fitness in CrossFit, so you need to be competent across all those 10 domains. But I think there’s definitely an element where the mental aspect of the sport is where it’s really at as well, and if you see an athlete lose it out on the floor, and they kind of lose that focus, it’s pretty hard for them to get that back. So, definitely that mental component is what kind of develops over time as well.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, fair enough. Fair enough. Wow. All right.
Well, next question. We’ve got Doug Evans. We touched on it a little bit earlier, I think: pre-workout and post-workout meals. What do they consist of? Would they be crucial meals?
So I guess; do you just generally eat the same or do you eat something specific before and after?

Chad Mackay: Normally something specific before, pre-workout will be normally banana. And I’ll probably have about a third of a banana before; exactly an hour beforehand. And then I’ll have about probably 40 grams of weighed protein, so that’ll be chicken or lamb or beef.

And then, post-workout will be a shake, a 180 shake, and then a piece of fruit as well and a whole meal. So, that’ll be straightaway. I’ll normally still be breathing pretty heavy to get that meal in.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right, OK. Fair enough. That’s a good point, actually.

Stuart Cooke: So, another question from Lach Mac, again, on food: “When the mood hits you, what, if anything, is your go-to cheat meal?”

Chad Mackay: I think the last time I would have had a cheat meal would have been after the Games last year. And I’ll normally go for pizza or ice cream for me. Normally, when I’m at home I’m quite good. I won’t have a cheat meal every week or every month. It’ll be pretty much after the CrossFit Games I’ll go out and let my hair down.

Last year, we finished off in Vegas and they’ve got these incredible buffets in Vegas and, yeah, I went to town.

Stuart Cooke: Yeah, I think they’d be in trouble if you went to town on a buffet. It’s like I’ve seen on The Simpsons.

Chad Mackay: Yeah, they didn’t make any money off me, that’s for sure.

Stuart Cooke: Fantastic.

Guy Lawrence: How did you feel? Like, we eat pretty clean. If I eat something that’s cheap meal it knocks me for six. I mean, it’s not the easier thing, even though it sounds great, you know?

Chad Mackay: I get a; after the Games, we have a fair bit of time to relax, so I had friends send over some ice cream and the ice cream was just waiting for us in the room when we got there. And so we polished off maybe a tub of ice cream that night, or that evening. And then the next morning up I woke up and it’s like you’ve got a sugar hangover, and, you know, you’re a little bit cloudy in the morning and it takes a bit of time to get going. But, yeah. . .

It’s not something I look forward to anymore, definitely. I much more look forward to, like, it sounds quite boring, but like a chicken salad. A chicken salad for dinner every night is perfect rather than a big bowl of ice cream.

Guy Lawrence: That’s fair enough. I mean, they say 70 to 80 percent of performance is nutrition, and if you want to perform at the top, you’ve got to fuel yourself the right way. Otherwise, forget about it.

Stuart Cooke: Unless, of course, you’re in an ice cream eating competition. That would be a little different.

Chad Mackay: You’d do that, Stewie, right?
Stuart Cooke: I’d give it a go. I’d give it my best shot.

Guy Lawrence: All right. We’ve got Dean Glendall-Jones. “What is your favorite thing to do on a rest day?”

Chad Mackay: A rest day; I kind of don’t really take rest days. If I’m on a rest day, I like to go to yoga, go surfing, spend time with friends and family. Do some mobility roll-out. Still trying to improve on a rest day. Even if it’s something light, I know there will be some kind of improvement there. So, on a rest day, it’s mainly spent by still doing active. . .

Guy Lawrence: An active rest day.

Chad Mackay: Absolutely. Yeah. An active rest day, for sure.

Guy Lawrence: Does that go right through the whole year, pretty much, or would you, after the games you stop for a month or do you just keep chipping away or?

Chad Mackay: I think I took about a week off after the Games last year, and that was just total rest. And I’ll probably do that again.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right, right. Amazing.

Stuart Cooke: So, we’ve got a couple of short questions left. This one has been getting quite a lot of press: Jared Smith is very interest in how big your calves are in centimetres.

Chad Mackay: So, Jared’s a good buddy of mine, so he calls me “Calves,” actually, so he’ll send me a text or an email and it will be, “Hey, Calves, how are you doing?” So, he’s a character. He’s a really good athlete as well. Jared, I’m not too sure how big my calves are. They’re definitely bigger than your biceps, buddy.

Guy Lawrence: And do you know who Gary Cousins is?

Chad Mackay: I know Gary Cousins.

Guy Lawrence: He said: Do you have a man-crush on him?

Chad Mackay: He’s a serial pest, Gary Cousins. He’s a lovely bloke. His son trains at our gym, and he’s actually in the team that’s gonna go over and represent Active at the games this year. So, Dean’s a really good athlete and he’s keeping goals in training at the moment. But Gary’s a really good guy.

Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. The Active support at the regionals was hilarious. Like, it was awesome to see everyone in orange jumpsuits, pretty much.

Stuart Cooke: Yeah, that’s right. The orange men in the crowd.

Chad Mackay: Yeah, that was great to see. And I think the CrossFit headquarters was calling us the “Orange Army,” which was pretty cool.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I just remember walking in one day and they have the rowing competition that was going on outside for the fastest 500 meters and all I saw was this guy completely head-to-toe in orange. Even his face was covered, and he was just going for it.

Chad Mackay: Yeah, it’s great to have the support, you know? For all the gyms, even CrossFit Bay. They were getting behind; all the Active guys were out on the floor as well, which was fantastic.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, awesome. Awesome.

Well, that’s pretty much all the questions we sort of wanted to cover, you know. Just to wrap it up, I know you’re a busy guy. You run a couple of CrossFit gyms on the North Shore of Sydney, so if people are interested in coming to check out your CrossFit gym and what you guys are about, where’s the best place to go?

Chad Mackay: Just jump onto the website and you can; just jump onto info@crossfitactive.com.au. And get in touch with Patty and see how you can get started at the gym. We’ve also got a free trial class on every Saturday at our Waverton location. So, jump online, check that out, and we’ll hopefully see you around down there shortly.

Guy Lawrence: We can put the appropriate links up, anyway, on the blog.

Awesome. Chad, thank you for your time.

Stuart Cooke: Thank you, Chad. As always, fantastic, again. And for anybody out there that’s at the cinema, keep an eye on the guy wearing the Whites vest rolling a couple of golf balls. And say hi.

Chad Mackay: Awesome to see you. Thanks, guys. See you,

Guy; thanks, buddy.

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How I lost 20kg in 6 months

body transformation

By Guy Lawrence

Guy: I love hearing stories that inspire me, so I wanted to share Nicole Newman’s story for anyone who is struggling with their weight.

Having never met her I first received an email from Nicole about six months ago, and below are some snippets from that email so you can get the idea.

Hi Guy,I have been thinking about writing this email for a little while. But, like most attempts at healthy eating and / or weight loss, I have found some excuse not to start. Or to start, and then stop! Basically, I need to lose weight. Lots of weight. My BMI is 31 and I am 30 years old, weighing 83kg at 166cm. I am miserable and not at all happy in my own skin. This has been the case for a LONG time. Over the last 12 years I have managed to lose 25kg. And gain it again. And lose it again. And gain it again. You get the picture. I have tried a dozen different diets. No carb diets. No fruit diets. No sugar diets. Super low fat diets. Meal replacement diets. Protein shake diets. Super low calorie diets. Juice detoxes!I have been a member of 8 different gyms. Hired 3 different personal trainers. Tried the no gym approach. Tried the over the top excercise 3 times a day approach. They all worked just fine – I lost lots of weight. I just couldn’t stick to ANY of them.So, here I am, at 83kg kilos, not able to fit into my clothes (even the ‘big’ ones) and avoiding social situations. I would like to use 180 nutrition to help me lose weight – and would love any advice you can give to do this…

I rang Nicole that day and had a good chat to her. We spoke about making long lasting changes as apposed to quick fixes etc, and also recommended some helpful resources including Sara Wilson’s I quit sugar campaign and David Gillespies books along with our blog, as I felt sugar is often underestimated when it comes to health and weight loss.

Thinking nothing much of it, I get an email half a year later from Nicole:

Hi Guy,About 6 months ago you responded to one of my emails with a phone call. You gave me some amazing tips and I’m sitting here 20kg lighter, healthy, happy, fit & strong. I have lost 4 clothing sizes and eat more than most men :) My question is do you have any tips on how to lose the last few kg? Other than more of the same?

 

I rang Nicole congratulating her and said I’d happily help her if she wouldn’t mind putting her weight loss experience it into a blog post so it could inspire others. She agreed and this is that blog post. Over to Nicole…

When we first spoke, you mentioned you had tried many different diets and failed at multiple attempts of losing weight over the years, yet here you are 6 months later and 20kg lighter.

What was the difference between those past attempts and and the success you have now?

Although I have always had an interest in nutrition and weight loss (probably from trying so many diets over the years), but I had never really found a way of eating that helped me lose weight and was sustainable. I did get close at one stage, just before I got married, when I lost around 10kg by following a low fat / low carb diet and exercising with a personal trainer. But I found it difficult, the food was not enjoyable, and I was tired all the time. I was having to create different meals for myself and my husband and daughter – and pretty much as soon as I got married, I gave it up. Not too long after this I fell pregnant, and although I did not gain much weight with my pregnancy, by the time my second baby was 12 months old I weight 85kg. I was roughly a size 16 on a 5’4 frame and was just SO uncomfortable in my own skin.

It was starting to take a serious toll on my mental health. I began to really hate myself. I know that sounds harsh and reading it back – it is. But it was how I felt. I did not want to be overweight anymore. I was not sleeping. I was tired all the time and living on coffee. I was fighting with my husband about various things, I was cranky and impatient with my kids, and I was barely trying at work. I was MISERABLE. I was spending hundreds of dollars every month (that we really didn’t have) buying new clothes in an attempt to make myself feel good. But it didn’t work. And only made my husband and I argue even more! I stopped wanting to attend social events, and on the one occasion I did (my best friends wedding), I stayed sitting at the table all night, hiding from the camera. When finally a photo surfaced on facebook of my brother and I at the wedding, something snapped. I was so disgusted at what I saw I made a promise to myself that I would change. And so I did.

I had heard about quitting sugar in various forms of social media, and somehow ended up at Sarah Wilson’s blog. From there, I read about 180 nutrition and David Gillespie’s book Sweet Poison. I downloaded both the IQS (I Quit Sugar) program and Sweet Poison into my iPad and began making changes to my diet. I am an all or nothing kind of person – so I cut sugar out completely. Just like that. And yes – it was hard – but not as hard as I thought it would be. I was prepared for how crap I would feel at first. And I took Sarah Wilson’s advice – every time I felt like something sweet or carby, I ate some fat. And it worked! It still does. I was amazed I had found a ‘diet’ that was satisfying and included tasty food that was readily available. Around this time I ordered myself a bag of 180, and read your post on meal replacement with 180 shakes. And so I began to replace 1-2 meals with 180 smoothies (scoop 180, coconut water natural yoghurt, coconut oil or nut butter and occasionally some berries) – and the weight started falling off. It was enough to convince me to keep going and with some advice from you (thank you thank you thank you)  6 months later here I am, 22kg lighter, excercising 4-5 times per week and still eating cheese. I am happy, I have energy, and my relationship with my family is better than ever. Win!

Where there any foods in particular that were your downfall?

Yes there were. Although I do not have a major sweet tooth, I was a huge lover of carbs. Pasta, pizza, bread and rice – I ate one or more of these foods at every meal! Pizza is still my favourite meal but I do a Paleo version which is honestly just as good.

What was your typical breakfast and has it changed much?

It has change dramatically. I was not really a breakfast eater – subscribing to the school of thought that it would give me more allowance for calories later on. Oh how wrong I was! On the odd occasion I did eat breakfast, it would be toast with some sort of topping – butter and vegemite, cheese and tomato or some poached eggs. If I did not eat breakfast, I would have something a few hours later like a toasted sandwich or muffin.

Now I eat breakfast every single day – and it is either a 180 smoothie, or home made almond toast with poached eggs, spinach & mushrooms. I am also not opposed to eating leftovers  for breakfast! It’s not uncommon to see me eating the previous nights leftover dinner. So long as it contains protein, veg and fat I am happy.

What did you used to drink, and did that change much?

Coffee with soy milk which was up to 3 a day (Guy: you can read my thoughts on soy milk here) and water. I was never (and still aren’t) a soft drink person. I still drink the coffee and loads of water – but I now have my coffee black with stevia, and occasionally coconut oil and cinnamon. I have learnt the key to drinking black coffee is to make sure it is good coffee! I go out of my way to stop at a fantastic café on the way to work to get one.

Could you give a rundown on what a typical days eating looked like back then? and what it looks like now?

Given that I was often on some sort of ‘diet’ my typical days eating varied quite a lot. But, when I wasn’t trying to stick to a diet, it would look something like this:

8am – A large soy flat white and maybe some toast with butter and vegemite. Yes, I ate soy and linseed bread or multi-grain thinking it was the healthy option.

10am – A toasted sandwhich (if I hadn’t had breakfast), or some nuts or rice crackers with dip.

1pm – Where I work they have a fully subsidised bistro. So in addition to a sandwich bar, there is always 6 or so hot meals on offer. So lunch could be a pasta dish with garlic bread, a stiry fry with rice, curry with rice, salt and pepper squid  etc, or a sandwich or wrap. Usually followed by some sort of desert – yoghurt with fruit for example.

Mid afternoon was more nuts or crackers, occasionally some chocolate, and definitely another coffee with soy milk.

And what does your diet look like now?

7.30am – 180 smoothie OR eggs & veges OR leftovers

8.30am – Black coffee with stevia, coconut oil and cinnamon

9.30am – Some nuts or a boiled egg or chunk of cheese or some IQS coconutty granola

12.30pm – Meat / chicken / tuna with lots of veg and usually some more cheese or avocado!

A fave would be tuna salad with avocado, olives, feta cheese, cucumber, tomato, pine nuts, lettuce / rocket and home made pesto. I am also a huge fan of soups and usually have a big batch of one in the fridge! My fave is chorizo, chicken, kale & lentil. I’d be happy to post a recipe if anyone is interested. I also try and have a batch of 180 brocooli and cheese muffins in the fridge for a quick meal on the go.

2.30pm – Coffee, black tea or Miso soup. Miso is great if you are feeling peckish and SO good for you. I’ll also have some nuts, cheese, or celery sticks with nut butter, or a 180 chocolate amazeball if I am still hungry after lunch.

4.30pm -  Another small snack

7.30pm – Training

8.30-9pm – Dinner. If I’m feeling a little worse for wear after training (usually the case after a PT session!) I’ll have a big 180 smoothie with coconut water and flesh (Guy: I wrote about my late night smoothie/meal replacement here for after training) or 180 protein & natural yoghurt. Sometimes a chocolate amazeball for desert. Otherwise it will be a stir-fry cooked in coconut oil with chicken / pork and  with lots of green veg, a thai curry with meat and lots of veg, spaghetti Bolognese without the spaghetti or just a simple grilled piece of meat or fish with salad.

Were you exercising when you were over weight, and are you exercising any differently now?

At times yes, but not regularly. As I mentioned earlier there was a period before I got married where I knuckled down with my diet and exercise, but it lasted about 3 months. Once I had lost enough weight to be comfortable in my wedding dress, I stopped trying. I never understood people who excercised just because its good for you. I always thought you needed to have a reson to exercise!

We always hear people of being time poor, being a parent I’m sure you are short on time, how did you overcome that?

Yes as a parent I am short on time. But I think most people could argue that life gets busy! Even those without kids. In all honesty, I just needed to pull my finger out. I train at 7.30pm most nights when hubby is home and the kids are in bed, and early on the weekend mornings. If my husband cannot look after the kids for me, I ask my Mum to. If you don’t have those options available as I know not everyone does, then find a gym with a crèche. OR as another friend of mine does – hire a babysitter on a Saturday morning for an hour or 2. If all else fails, buy or download some excercises DVD’s and a cheap yoga mat and start at home. The key Is just to GET MOVING. Even twice a week is good! And get your kids involved – do a few laps of the park while they play on the swings or go on a long walk with the pram. There are lots of opportunities if you are open to them :D

Did you have any lightbulb moments along the way, if so what were they?

That sugar or fructose is the absolute enemy when it comes to weight loss, and that nothing feels as good as seeing that number on the scales go down.  Also don’t hesitate to ask for help! Guy at 180 was always there to answer any questions I had, and both Lee Holmes (Supercharged Food) and Sarah Wilson also gave me advice if I asked a question on their blog / FB pages.

You mentioned you hit a plateau at the last kgs of weight loss, how did you overcome that?

I had read that most people ‘plateau’ when they have lost most of their weight. For me, I think it was a combination of becoming a little lax with my diet, eating too much protein, as well as the fact that I don’t have much weight to lose now. I am very much in a healthy weight range with around 25% body fat. I would like to lose another 3-5kg and realize it is going to take longer than the first 22kg! I am currently on day 2 of a vege juice cleanse to re-set my system, and have a diet plan ready to go on Monday when I go back to regular eating. It involves 2 x 180 shakes, lots of fat and green veg and less protein than I have been having. No fruit or grains, even for cheat meals, and no alcohol. I think doing this for a month will get my to my goal.

For anyone reading this who is looking to lose weight for the long term, do you have one piece of advise you can share with us?

Start as you intend to go on. If you are starting a diet that you do not intend to continue with once you have lost your weight, then it’s not the right diet. You need to find a way of eating that is enjoyable and sustainable.

Also having a network of like minded people as been massive. I owe so much thanks to my trainer Dave and the team of guys at Active Personal Training. They have been there for me every step of the way, and have helped me achieve goals I never thought possible. I would not have gotten this far without them and they have become great friends of mine too. I can’t stress enough how much it helps having a team of people to support you. Both the trainers and the other clients at the gym have been beyond awesome!

Has this new found knowledge around nutrition changed the way you feed your children?

Absolutely. I have always been conscious of what I feed them, much more so that I was with myself. Although I do not enforce a no sugar diet with them, their sugar intake has greatly reduced. When I bake I use Stevia and Rice Malt syrup instead of sugar, I make my own snacks for them whenever possible – homemade muesli bars, chocolate amazeballs with 180 protein, home made muffins & fruit / breads. Yes they still have the occasional cupcake or lolly at parties and daycare – and this is fine. I am realistic and don’t want them to feel like the odd kids out.

Also in an attempt to avoid making 4 meals for dinner – I try to ensure that whatever meal I make can be adapted for all of us. For me, it’s usually just a case of leacing out the ‘carbs’ – e.g. spaghetti Bolognese with green veg instead of pasta or their green curry with extra veg instead of rice.

Apart from weight loss, has there been any other benefits to your new found health since you changed the way you eat and live?

I can honestly say that I am happy. I could not say that 6 months ago. Because of this I’m a better Mum, wife and employee. I think I am a better consumer too – doing my bit for small business, farmers and the  environment. I love to buy beautiful fresh produce from local farmers and growers when I can, and I buy my meat from the amazing Feather and Bone. I like knowing where my food comes from and what it went through to get on my plate – I am trying to teach my children the importance of this and that not everything comes out of a plastic container at Woolworths!

Can we thrive without carbs?

180 Nutrition PodcastPodcast episode #4

By Guy Lawrence

Ever wondered if we can live without carbohydrates? It certainly gets a lot of stick in the press…

Shane RichardsIn this episode of The Health Sessions I catch up with Shane Richards of Holistic Foundations who chats to us about life without carbs. Shane runs a thriving community/gym with a fantastic approach around health & well-being. Shane is one of the most passionate guys I know and it is a pleasure to have him on the podcast.

Download or subscribe to us on iTunes here.

More

180 Nutrition Partners

Here is a list of CrossFit boxes, gyms and personal trainers throughout Australia who are currently stocking 180 Natural Protein SuperFood. If you would like a second opinion regarding our unique natural protein powder, don’t take our word for it, feel free to contact any of our partners below.

We have also been proud sponsors of some of the CrossFit games within Australia. Here is a list of both:

Sponsored Crossfit Games

The links below are the Crossfit games 180 Nutrition sponsored in 2011 within Australia.

The WOD Games 21/15/9 – Australia

The Immortals Team Challenge – Gold Coast

The Rex Affiliates Cup – WA

The Primal Throwdown Series – WA

180 partners within Australia

The links below are our current partners within Sydney & Australia. This will be continually updated as we grow.

NSW

Crossfit Norwest – Rob

Crossfit Ignite – Darren

Crossfit Athletic – Paul

Crossfit Never Quit – Bradley

Crossfit Chipping Norton – Scott

CrossFit Wagga – Brad

MIL-FIT Military Fitness Specialist – Brad

CrossFit Ballina – James & Amy

QLD

Crossfit Wired – Mandy

Crossfit Alive – Dale

Crossfit Toowoomba – Jo

WA

Crossfit Chamber – Chadd

The Cell Crossfit – Jason

Crossfit Real World – Jason

CrossFit Cooee – Match

SA

Crossfit Adelaide – Ben

VIC

Barefoot Health – Steve

TAS