Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
They say you learn something new everyday, well we certainly did with todays guest! If you or anyone you know are struggling with symptoms like IBS, food allergies and intolerances, acid reflux, migraines, hives, insomnia, chronic fatigue (the list goes on!)… then looking into and understanding histamine intolerance is well worth your time.
Ex-CNN/BBC journalist shares with us how she heals her chronic inflammatory condition.
We have another awesome guest for you in store today and her name is Yasmina Ykelenstam. She’s an ex-journalist with over 10 years research and international news production experience for people such as 60 Minutes, CNN and the BBC, so she knows how important it is to get her facts straight!
In 2008, after 20 years of being misdiagnosed with everything under the sun, she was forced to quit a career of a lifetime after seeing over 68 doctors. In 2010 she was finally diagnosed with histamine intolerance. Yasmina then embarks on a mission to get to the bottom of it all with the help of nutrition, lifestyle, meditation and a different approach to exercise… Prepare to be inspired!
Full Interview: Histamine, Food Allergies, Skin Care & Meditation
In This Episode:
From journalist to health advocate; her story
What is histamine & the role it plays
How to test for histamine intolerance [07:28]
Why fermented foods were not the best choice
The ‘Natures Cosmetics’ she uses for her skin
Why meditation has played a big part in her recovery
Guy:Hi this is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition and welcome to today’s health session. We have another awesome guest for you in store today and her name is Yasmina Ykelenstam. She’s an ex-journalist with over 10 years research and international news production experience for people such as 60 Minutes, CNN and the BBC so she knows how important it is to get her facts straight which is a big one and she has an amazing story to share with us today.
In a nutshell, in 2008, after 20 years of being misdiagnosed with everything under the sun, she was forced to quit a career of a lifetime after seeing over 68 doctors she reckons. In 2010 she was finally diagnosed with histamine intolerance. If you’re unsure what histamine is don’t worry about it, I think it’s actually really relevant for everyone and we do explain there in the podcast today and Yasmina’s explanation is going to be much better than mine so hold for to that.
She goes into that, how she’s radically changed her nutrition and lifestyle, her exercise approach and started including meditation as well, which I will add and we do discuss all awesome topics and how she’s pulled her life around and is a great example of what a bit of determination can do and change and now she’s out there spreading the word as a low histamine chef and doing an awesome job of it and we were just very privileged and proud to have her on the podcast today and she was a lot of fun, she was great, superly down to earth. Superly, could I say that word? Anyway I’ll stay with it. Top girl, great to have her and you will get a lot out of it to enjoy. Of course any feedback please send us back to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can go into our Facebook page, 180 Nutrition write on the wall. We generally get round to them all as [00:02:00] quick as possible.
This is the part where I’m going to ask for a review, I do it every episode and I probably will just leave it at that. If you enjoy the podcast leave us a review on iTunes and they really are appreciated. Anyway, let’s go over to Yasmina and the low histamine chef, enjoy. Okay, let’s go for it.
Hi this is Guy Lawrence, I’m joined with Stewart Cook, hi Stu.
Guy:Our fantastic guest today is Yasmina Ykelenstam. Did I pronounce that correct?
Guy:Ykelestam and I even practiced it before the show as well oh God, hopeless. Thank you so much for coming on the show today Yasmina. We’ve got some amazing topics to cover, but more importantly could you share your absolutely fascinating story with us as well and our listeners because it think it’s just fantastic.
Yasmina:I’ve been sick most of my life, on and off, with strange symptoms, allergy-like flues that weren’t flues, IBS, hives those kind of things. Then it really intensified when I was a journalist working in war zones in Iraq and Lebanon and eventually it got so bad that I had to quit my job and I had to find a career, a business that I could run from my bed basically which was I did some marketing and I used to pull on a shirt pretend I was sitting up in an office but really I’d be lying in my bed because I was so sick and nobody could tell me what it was.
Then finally I came across some woman in a … Not some woman, she’s a very good friend of mine, she’s also a blogger too and she told me it might be a histamine issue. I was in Bangkok at this point and I flew straight from Bangkok via New York, all the way to London and I got a diagnosis of something called histamine intolerance which I will get into in a minute and then it was I was then re-diagnosed with something called mast cell [00:04:00] activation. It’s not really clear, I seem to have both or maybe they are kind of the same thing but in any case it all worked out in the end and I’m feeling much better.
Guy:How long ago was that Yasmina?
Yasmina:The first was in 2010 and then the second diagnosis was in 2013.
Stu:There you go.
Stu:For everybody out there so for our listeners who are unfamiliar with histamine, now in my very limited knowledge I’m thinking it’s the kind of reactions that I used to get when I had high fever as a child, with stuffy, itchy, watery eyes and I just want to … Could you just touch on the role of histamine, what it is, what it does to the body?
Yasmina:That’s basically it. Histamine, we are used to hearing about anti-histamines, most people have histamine reactions. Histamine is an inflammatory molecule that lives in mast cells which are part of our white blood cell system. But it’s also found in foods. Histamine’s job is if there is some healing that needs to be done, the mast cells break open and histamine and other inflammatory mediators go to the site of the infection and begin the healing process. But as I said, it’s also found in foods, but also, histamine’s role is diverse in the body. As I said, it’s an important player in the healing process, it’s a neurotransmitter which affects serotonin and dopamine, it plays a role in our metabolism in weight gain and weight loss, it’s part of the digestive process and it also helps set the circadian rhythm so our wakefulness cycle and it’s now been shown to be involved in narcolepsy.
Guy:Wow. What would the symptoms be of histamine intolerance? Everything? [00:06:00].
Yasmina:Pretty much everything which is why it takes an average, I’m going to use mast cell activation as an example here but it takes up to a decade or rather an average of a decade for the average woman to be diagnosed with mast cell activation which is related to histamine intolerance. A decade because the symptoms are so incredibly diverse and they rotate, and they migrate from different parts of the body as different clusters of mast cells become activated and depending on diet, which part of the world you live in.
In any case, here are some common symptoms, there are literally dozens of symptoms. I had 55 symptoms that were directly attributable to histamine intolerance or mast cell activation. Here are a couple of them otherwise we’ll be here all night. There’s IBS, acid reflux, food intolerance-like issues, migraines, hives, insomnia, blurry vision, palpitations, chronic fatigue, intolerances to extremes in temperature, and inability to fly in planes because of the vibration and changes in pressure, food allergy-like symptoms and in the extreme, idiopathic anti-epileptic shock, idiopathic meaning we don’t know why.
Stu:Okay, well, given that very varied and almost crazy list of symptoms, how can we test for it?
Yasmina:With difficulty, the first step is finding someone who believes you and on my website, there’s a post which you can print off medical studies and take them to a doctor with you but I’ll tell you how to get there later. I’ll start will histamine intolerance. Histamine intolerance is generally diagnosed by a high blood plasma which is the overall [00:08:00] amount of histamine in your blood. A result of a low di-amine oxidase enzyme in the body. Di-amine oxidase is one of 2 histamine lowering enzymes, it’s also known as DAO. The other is HNMT but that right now can only be tested for in your genetic profile and some people say that the only definite way to diagnose this is by having a decrease in symptoms when going on a 4 week histamine elimination diet.
Some people, a lot of people walk away with a false negative from the testing for this because there’s many causes for histamine issues, you don’t have to have low DAO and your plasma histamine can be low one day and very high the next depending on your stress levels, what you’ve been eating, all that kind of stuff. Generally I would say, look for allergy-like symptoms with negative allergy tests and by these I mean IGE testing rather than IGG which is the food sensitivity testing.
As I said, plasma histamine fluctuates so it’s a little difficult. Also there is the issue that you can have a relatively normal histamine level but if your other inflammatory mediators are elevated, such as prostaglandin, interleukins, leukotrienes, that kind of thing, the other inflammatory mediators that are also housed in the mast cells along with the histamine, they can potentiate whatever level there is of histamine. If there is already some kind of inflammation going on, let’s say the histamine is normal, prostaglandins can enhance the effects of any histamine that’s being released in the body. Plus if you have excess leukotrines, that then enhances the prostaglandins and the histamines.
Just testing for plasma histamine is not very [00:10:00] reliable. For mast cell activation syndrome, it’s urinary test of n-methyl histamine. It’s a 24-hour test so you get an idea of the level throughout the day. It’s the prostaglandins, the other inflammatory mediators I just mediators that I just mentioned, and then something that’s also very important in my view is I’m finding more and more people are having a problem with something called oxalic acid which is found in plants. It’s a plant defense mechanism and it can cause major inflammation in people who are already dealing with some kind of inflammation.
It’s found in kale, almond, celery, zucchini, for example. What happens is when we get sick, we try and get really, really healthy and so a lot of what we do is we eat high histamine foods, by accident the avocados, the tomatoes, the pineapples, because we’re told all these are great for us and lots of nuts and all of that, they’re also high histamine, then we are adding lots of oxalic acid into the mix with the kale, the almonds, all of these wonderful plant foods. If there is an existing inflammation issue, these can temporarily aggravate the issue. I’m not saying don’t eat these foods, these are all the foods that I eat, but it’s good to be aware of it.
Guy:Wow. There’s a couple of things that spring into mind, the first thing is I’m going to have to listen to that again once I get off this conversation to make sure I fully understand what you just said. But on top of that, where would you start? Because you’re naming foods that people assume are healthy so unless you get the diagnosis correct, you could be continually triggering this inflammational problem off from the get-go without even realizing it.
Stu:Another point is well, I’m thinking Yasmina from a bloke’s perspective, my blokey way to fix that would be to run down to the chemist, get some Claritin, take a swig of [00:12:00] Claritin and see what happens. Does that fix it? That kind of … Well, maybe it’s a histamine problem if Claritin works.
Yasmina:You know, funnily enough that was my ex-boyfriend’s logic which was just take a few fistfuls of antihistamines and if it works it works. By this point I was already on a few antihistamines a day. He said, “Well how come that’s not working for you? This obviously isn’t it.” Poor thing was just used to hearing me talking about different theories about what was wrong with me and he had just had enough. He’s just like, this girl is just a hypochondriac. Which is why most of us get sent to psychiatrists actually because we’re told it’s psychosomatic.
The antihistamine issue, that’s a very good point, but there are actually 4 histamine receptors in the body. Claritin, for example, and most antihistamines work on the H1 receptor which to really oversimplify things means the respiratory system. You have a fever, you get [sniffly 00:13:00], you can’t really breathe, they give you an H1 blocker and that dries up your nose and it blocks that histamine receptor. But there’s the other 3 histamine receptors.
The H2 receptor is, again, oversimplifying, is to do with the digestive system. If you have a person who’s suffering mostly from digestive issues, they don’t really know and if they go to a doctor who doesn’t specialize in mast cell issues, they might be told, well take an H1 blocker and your symptoms should dissipate but the fact is if it’s digestive issues, an H1 blocker isn’t going to do anything.
Then there’s the added problem that a number of the doctors I’ve spoken with including Dr. Janice Joneja who is a pioneering immunology researcher who was one of the first people to research histamine issues, a concern with antihistamines is that throwing the histamine receptors out of whack can cause more histamine release into [00:14:00] the body basically. First of all you have the rebound effect which is when the antihistamine wears off, the body produces more histamine to make up for the shortfall. There’s lots of different reasons that that might not necessarily work.
That is also an issue with the histamine elimination diet by the way. A lot of people feel better after 4 weeks, myself included, and then they think, well, I’m just going to stay on it because I feel better. Then what happens is, you just keep losing foods, and losing foods, and losing foods and you’re even reacting to the low histamine foods and you’re like, oh my god, I’m just so histamine sensitive that I literally, I cannot be in a room with any histamine. Well no, the fact is your body keeps producing more and more … This is one of the theories that your body produces more histamine because you need the histamine for so many essential functions in the body and I keep trying to share with people that histamine is a good thing, it’s our friend, we just don’t want too much of it so we need to be careful, we need to find ways to balance the histamine.
Stu:If I was completely distraught and in a very similar place to where you were and said to you, just tell me one thing. What do I do right now? What one thing can I do right now? What would you advise?
Stu:Right, because we do have another question about mental stress as a trigger so [crosstalk 00:15:28].
Guy:I’ve got a question for you off the back of that. Why do you think you got if from the first place? From what?
Yasmina:There’s many different theories as to why people develop histamine issues. One is genetics, they are finding people with mast cell activation … I keep referring back to mast cell activation because we have research on that. unfortunately histamine intolerance is being treated by nutritionists and holistic practitioners … I’m not [00:16:00] saying that this is not a valid way of dealing with it, I’m saying that these people don’t normally release medical studies so we don’t have anything concrete to go by. I’m a big believer in holistic methods of treatment, just I would like the research to be able to talk to it about people. Oh no, I’ve just lost my train of thought. I did say I woke up very early today.
Guy:It’s very late over there in Paris too. That’s cool. Because I’m jumping around [crosstalk 00:16:33].
Stu:We’re on the topic of meditation and how you first thought that you came to … Where the histamine came from in the first place for you.
Yasmina:Right. We have the genetic aspect which is that in mast cell activation studies they are finding that people who have high inflammatory mediators, it runs in the families. This would apply to histamine intolerance as well, one would assume. Then there’s exposure to pesticides, to chemicals, there is viral infections. For example there’s a theory that you could have some sort of childhood virus and your immune system, once it’s dealt with, remains hyper activated. The immune system just stays in overdrive believing that there’s something to continually be dealing with but in some cases that could be true, some people have childhood viruses that remain in adult years but it remains dormant in the body unless there’s some sort of major health event in which case it can reactive.
Food poisoning has been said to potentially trigger it. Serve cases of food poisoning and serve illness of some kind, operations, that kind of thing, again the immune system remaining in overdrive [00:18:00] and trauma. I was listening to a very interesting talk by a doctor, I believe it was Milner and he was saying that the majority of his patients, they came to him and they say, I don’t know, I was so healthy, everything was going totally right, and then suddenly this traumatic event happened in my life, a car accident, a husband dying, a child dying, some sort of personal incident, and that is what triggers the mast cell or the histamine activation, which is not an uncommon thing.
There’s a great book called The Last Best cure in which the author who is a science journalist herself, she shares a questionnaire developed by a medical company in the States that can actually predict how likely you are to develop an immune system dysfunction based on the level of trauma you have had in your life. When I read the book, I just thought, okay, I grew up during a war and I went to war as an adult 3 wars. I haven’t really had really traumatic events like some people have. Some people have had really terrible, terrible things happening to them. But then I read the questionnaire, it was like, did you move once, more than once every 5 years before the age of 11? Did you ever hear your parents fighting in the next room? Did one of your pets die before you were the age of 8? I just thought, wow, I’m in trouble and I scored off the charts, off the charts.
Stu:To me when I heard what you did as a journalist, I thought, my god that’s stressful. For me personally, from an outsider looking in, I don’t know how stressful it was.
Yasmina:It was highly stressful and …
Guy:Just thinking about the sources of [00:20:00] histamine triggers as well. Outside of food, personal body care products, sun screens, all that kind of thing, would that fall into that category as well?
Yasmina:Yeah, absolutely. Bath products, even so called natural products like cocamidol betaine which I can never pronounce and the SLS which we now know are not so great for us, and various other products can cause immune system disruption that can affect the mast cells. When you consider that what we put on to our skin, I heard 60% of what we put onto our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream. That figure is contentious but it’s interesting to think. I had not really considered it before although it made complete sense.
But the good news is that when you consider that beauty products have lead in them which we thought was an urban myth but was then proven to be the case and there was a big expose on it in the New York Times, people had always told me, “No, no, no, it’s a myth, it’s a myth, it’s a myth.” It’s not a myth. When women are eating, I think it was 5 pounds of lipstick a year, it all adds up. The good news is that although there are things that can trigger us, there are other things that we can put on our skin that make us better such as moringa oil which is a natural anti anaphylactic and an antihistamine. There’s pomegranate seed oil which increases collagen production but is also an antihistamine. You have brands like Dr. Alkaitis, their product is so pure you can eat it. You can eat it. I have eaten their almond face cleanser just out of curiosity to say that I did.
There’s RMS beauty created by a woman who had multiple chemical sensitivity, she actually does the makeup for the Victoria Secret Angels, and she created this amazing range of beauty products with just the most incredible raw beauty products that treat the skin in an anti-inflammatory way and there is 100% pure which is … I don’t get anything for mentioning these things. I hope it’s okay, I just want to …
Guy:Go for it. Help people yeah.
Yasmina:Yes. 100% pure, it’s an American brand but you can buy it all over the world and their products are the cleanest I have found anywhere. Even though people write to me and they’re like, Oh so you use 100% pure but it has tomato in it. Well, when you compare a little bit of tomato or a little bit of strawberry in a face cream to phenol-exo-hetra-tetra-cyclne-adol, you know I’m just pulling from air. I know which my body triggers to more and it’s not a little bit of tomato or strawberry.
Guy:Yeah, right. To pull it back, with everything that can trigger histamine, which is incredible really when you think about it you’d be afraid to go out the door sometimes.
Yasmina:I used to be. I used to wear a mask. I was one of those weirdoes.
Guy:That’s amazing. With Steward then asking, what’s the one thing you can do right now and your answer was mediation, my question would be why probably because I sidetracked this conversation 10 minutes [crosstalk 00:23:28].
Yasmina:No worries. My life fell apart and interestingly I had my genetic profile read by somebody and I carefully chose someone because I didn’t want somebody who was sell me thousands of dollars of supplements. But I told him, look, I just want to know about the mast cell stuff, I don’t want to know about any other health issues and he says to me, “That’s very unusual, nobody’s ever told me that. You know, just ignore everything else, I just want to know about this.”
I said, “Well, you know, I, I am a high stress person, you know, [00:24:00] especially when it comes to my health and I really don’t want to know anything else because the likelihood is I’m, I’m just not going to be able to deal with it right now.” When we spoke, he started first of all by laughing at me, and I said, “What’s up?” He said, :I can now understand why you made that request. In your genetic profile, every possible gene relating to stress is in your genetic profile.” He said, “It’s my belief that you should be able to control your symptoms through stress release.”
Funnily enough about 2 years before that I had started meditation after reading this book The Last Best Cure. I was told that … I’ll come back to this later but I started meditating and I started noticing some positive changes, lots of positive changes. Then I reached the point where I thought I’m eating 5 foods, this is not working because I’m terrified of eating anything else. I came up with this really, really, crazy idea, I had been on a meditation retreat for a week and after years of restriction and misery, I ate everything I wanted on that mediation retreat. It was all vegan, it was all made from scratch there was no tofu, it was super, super healthy whole foods. I ate it all and I was fine and I just though, this is the key, this is the key. At the time, I just thought, right, this is how I’m going to get my life back. I’m done with sitting at home, I am done with not being social, I am done with thinking that my life is over…
I had made so much progress and happiness and feeling better about things but really was still stuck in this mindset of I’m never going to get better. There is only so much better I’m going to get and maybe I’ve already reached there. I read The Last Best Cure and she talked about [00:26:00] how meditation fights inflammation. I just thought, that’s when I went on the mediation retreat and after that, I came up with this idea that I could re-introduce foods as long as I stayed calm while I was reintroducing them.
I’m not suggesting anyone else try this, I don’t have any message to sell people on how to do this, talk to your doctor, your shaman, your whatever, your witch doctor but get a medical person on board. What I did was I did a risky thing, I took a bowl of strawberries and I had gone into anaphylactic shock from having 1 strawberry a few years earlier. My health was a lot better at this point. I was no longer fearful of going into regular anaphylactic shock. I have to say that I was much, much, better than I used to be.
I did a mediation, mindfulness mediation at the dinner table 15 minutes and then I started eating the strawberries one after the other, mindfully, really being in the moment, being in the experience. Just not allowing the fear and the dizziness and the anguish that accompanied every single meal in the last few years, I just let that all out. I experienced it and I saw it there in front of me and I made my peace with it. I actually said to myself, you know what? At this moment, I’m okay with letting go. Whatever happens, happens because I’m at peace. I haven’t experienced many moments like that since but it was an incredible moment and I just let go of the fear and I ate the bowl of strawberries and [inaudible 00:27:46]. That was [inaudible 00:27:48] for me.
Maybe I would have survived anyway, but the point is, I had set something in motion whereby I had told my brain and my body [00:28:00] that this was the key and my unwavering, unshatterable belief that this was going to heal me, was possibly a placebo effect but the fact is, if anyone can find that one belief, even if it’s the eating McDonald’s every day is going to heal you, it might work for a time anyway but there are more sensible ways to do it. Mine seems to have a lasting effect so far, nobody can predict the future but the point is the meditation has brought me peace and acceptance. It doesn’t mean that I’m not going to continue fighting for my life but for my recovering but I have made my peace with however it is that I wake up on any given day.
Stu:Well that is fantastic. Do you continue to eat strawberries today?
Yasmina:I do, I eat a lot worse that strawberries.
Stewart:No it sound like you certainly got a strategy that works for you. In terms of knowing where to start, there’s so much to do to try and get your head around what might be happening, what you could do. If I wanted to gravitate to perhaps some natural antihistamine foods, where would I start? What would be the best ingredients to choose?
Yasmina:That’s my personal choice is starting with those foods, so plentiful in nature. Really, I think if I had grown up in Lebanon where my mother is from where the food is just natural, you just literally just pluck it from the tree and put it on the table. My mother always commented, “When we used to go to Beirut, you never had any food issues.” She was right. That’s also because the diet was rich in these following foods.
What I have found to be my most powerful ally and that for many of my readers are bioflavonoids, quercetin, rutin [00:30:00] and luteolin. They are found in plants. They are what’s called mast cell stabilisers. There has been some amazing research by a doctor in the States, Dr. Theoharidis at Tufts. He’s funded by the National Institute of Health, he has over 300 studies on mast cells, mast cell activation and he found that these bioflavonoids, in particular, quercetin and luteolin, quercetin, the study was done on, is as powerful as the most commonly prescribed medication for stabilizing mast cells to prevent histamine release. But this is also applicable to people with histamine intolerance because quercetin acts as an antihistamine, so it works in preventing the mast cells from releasing histamine that’s in the body already and it acts as an antihistamine so when we eat dietary histamine, it doesn’t bind to the receptor in the body. It doesn’t appear to have the same side effects as antihistamines.
In any case, you can find these bioflavonoids in fresh green herbs. I eat so many green herbs. People watch me cooking and they’re like, when do you stop putting, I don’t see you measuring anything? How do you measure the herbs? I say, when it tests like one more handful is going to make things taste funky then I stop. Fresh green herbs, things like sweet potato, butter nut, squash, broccoli, most brightly colored vegetables and greens. The thing is, it gets a little confusing because you’ll have a lot of articles that say things like pineapple is an antihistamine, tomatoes are antihistamines, well those foods are found on the high histamine food list. That’s’ because partially because different parts of the fruit or the food can have different properties. The leaf can have one property, but the fruit itself can have others. Is it the combination of other nutrients or the lack of nutrients or the sugar? Things like that.
Raspberries for example are on [00:32:00] list as high histamine but they’re also a good source of quercetin. People say, well, they have quercetin but there’s an … I look for foods that have these qualities. My first choice would be rather than eating tomato ketchup, which is a processed food and is also high histamine, I will have a bowlful of raspberries because they do have some quercetin, they are anti-inflammatory but they are slightly higher histamine than blue berries for example. As I said, severe histamine restriction is not a great idea. What I do is I try and balance things by including as much of these antihistamine foods as possible, to balance out the higher histamine foods that I eat.
Stewart:Would non-organic plants and vegetable be an issue? I’m thinking along the lines of pesticides because not all of us, me included, can afford to feed a family fully organic. It gets crazy. I really increase the amount of fruit, many veggies really, I eat lots of veggies but I’m thinking, I’m washing and scrubbing but I still think they’re loaded with pesticides and nasties.
Yasmina:Yeah, scrubbing them only does so much because it’s inside the food but yes. Pesticides would be an immune system trigger which would exacerbate the histamine or mast cell issues, but at the same time, yes, it is expensive. I try and eat as much as I can organic, there have been some studies that have show that quercetin levels may be higher in organic vegetable and in organic farming. I can’t remember the reason why and that was contentious also. That was just one study.
What [00:34:00] I do is take the list of the most heavily contaminated foods and try and eat those organic and then eat the rest conventional farming. There’s money saving strategies like I eat an incredible amount of herbs and they are not always in season so what I do is I buy in bulk and I freeze. I chop them up and I freeze them. Then that gives me a year’s supply. You can go to farms and make some kind of deal with then … If you have anybody local, you can get vegetable boxes, you can … It’s tough, I would say that I spend most of the money I earn on food.
Guy:But you feel a lot better for it though right, so it’s?
Yasmina:I do but it’s a delicate balance eating a little bit left overs [inaudible 00:34:52].
Guy:What about fermented foods? Because I hear they can be a catalyst for histamine triggering as well.
Yasmina:Fermented foods a double-edged sword absolutely. We’re told they are the best way to heal the gut and yet they cause histamine release because of the bacteria. A lot of people arrive finally at histamine tolerance diagnosis or the suspicion that being what they have because they were on a highly fermented diet such as the guts for example. The interesting thing is a lot of people are eating the fermented foods to heal the gut but new research tells us that there is a mast cell involved to leaky gut, therefore quercetin and other approaches to mediating histamine and mast cell issues could be applicable to leaky gut and I had horrific, horrific, horrific leaky gut symptoms and I have to use the real name here, intestinal permeability because if we want people to take us seriously we need to use names that doctors will pay attention to.
[00:36:00] I managed to heal mine in my opinion, it might have been other factors as well but I didn’t do any L-glutamine, I didn’t do any fermented foods, I didn’t do any bone broths. Just generally I think that anyone who says that they have a healing protocol that will definitely work for you, is a little delusional or lying or has the best intentions but just we’re all different.
Guy:100%. We hear that all the time with diet too. This is the diet, this is … It’s like come on guys, really? Yeah.
Yasmina:Exactly. The first thing I tell people is the histamine lists are terrifying. Forget sticking to any one dietary dogma, forget about sticking to list. Make your own lists of foods. Trial and error, make a list of symptoms, IBS, blurred vision, blah, blah, blah. Don’t do a food diary because that’s just setting yourself up for failure. It’s like eating something and then sitting there with a notepad, what’s going on in my body? What’s going on in my body right now? Oh, I twitched, I twitched, okay.
It’s like the research on how concert violinists for example, they put them in MRI machines and the parts of the brain that get denser with neurons, the more they practice, that kind of thing. You become better at playing the violin the denser that these neurons become because you’re spending more time, more time, more time. We have become virtuosos if of our sickness. We’ve spent so much time focusing inwards, looking at what is going on in our bodies, looking for what’s going wrong. We’re intensifying our perception of these things. That is my experience, my own experience and I’ve seen it in others. That’s one of the amazing things about mediation. At times, when my symptoms were at their worst, I would go into [00:38:00] the discomfort and just accept it and release it. It’s absolutely mind-blowing.
Guy:The mindset’s massive, it’s massive. I think of Tom Gabriel when he spoke on our podcast and he was talking about chemotherapy, once somebody was diagnosed with cancer they did a study, about 30% of the people were starting to lose their hair before they even started the chemo because they were just going in and just absolutely terrifying themselves, and the body takes over, which is fascinating.
Yasmina:There was an article I was just quoted in yesterday that was on US world news, the website and world news and reporters, I can’t remember right now, sorry. But it was on the nocebo effect. The evil twin of the placebo effect. Yeah, absolutely, expect to react and you probably will.
Guy:While we’re on the topic, for any of the listeners recommend listening to our podcast with Dr. Joe Dispenza because he actually wrote a book recently called You are the Placebo. I’ve read it. He was an awesome guy but he explains that really well in the podcast so if anyone wants to check that out they can too. Yeah, let’s do it.
Stewart:I have a question. Do you support your diet with any off-the-shelf supplements?
Yasmina:I do. Again, these might not work for everybody and I’m certainly not a doctor so please don’t run off and buy these but to discuss them with a medical professional. I started out taking quercetin by a brand called Twin Lab T-W-I-N L-A-B and quercetin with vitamin C. initially I was told that vitamin C was great for histamine and mast cell issues but I reacted to all vitamin C and I thought, wow, wow, that’s another thing I [00:40:00] can’t take. But then I realized that ascorbic acid is often made from fermented corn. Fermented number 1 and corn, which is highly allergenic and is a trigger for many people.
I found the Twin Lab, coincidentally which has the vitamin C that’s made from ascorbyl palmitate, which is made from palm trees and to my knowledge is not actually fermented. That was just great. I stated taking that and then I became aware of a stronger quercetin and luteolin supplement developed by Dr. Theoharides who I talked about earlier and the mast cell researcher. He created this supplement and it changed my life.
People say that you can’t work your way up to a therapeutic dose of quercetin and luteolin through your diet. My argument to that is, well if you eat nothing but quercetin and luteolin rich foods you’re hedging your bets anyway. Even if the quercetin isn’t doing anything you have all these amazing plants foods and you’re not ingesting any garbage so you’re giving your body a fighting chance. This neuroprotek perhaps in combination with the diet, really, really changed my life. The one symptom I forget to mention earlier that is such a huge problem for many of us and was my absolute nightmare as a journalist, imagine this, brain fog and memory loss. A journalist with brain fog and memory loss in war zones.
Stewart:Not the ideal situation.
Guy:No. Eventually that played a huge part in why I left journalism because I worried that I was endangering myself and others by being out in the field. Yes the neuroprotek cleared my brain fog up entirely. Again, in combination with diet I’m sure, and it doesn’t work overnight. Dr. Theoharides told me it will take about 6 months for it to kick in, [00:42:00] and it did take 6 months for it to properly start working. All kinds of people are using it now. People with autistic kids are using it for them because … I’m not entirely sure the length of it.
Stewart:That was neuroprotek was that?
Stewart:For anybody wanting to access that, is that readily available on the internet?
Yasmina:It is. They sell through Amazon and also through their website. You can just google it or google Dr. Theoharidis, it should come up. Oh god, I’ll have to spell that name.
Stewart:Yeah, it doesn’t sound easy.
Yasmina:Vitamin C also [mangosteen 00:42:39] I started taking when all my hair fell out and I lost most of my hair, it was quite traumatic but that turned out to be combination of shampoo and inflammation generally and [mangosteen 00:42:50] and a little bit of vitamin B12. The [mangosteen 00:42:54] is an antihistamine, it’s a mast cell stabilizer and it also inhibits the synthesis of prostaglandins from mast cells. Histamine when it’s released, prostaglandin is synthesized as the histamine is released and they augment each other. I theorized that dealing with the prostaglandin would help with the histamine reactions and it also apparently helped my hair grow back. Prostaglandin D2, excess prostaglandin D2 is often to blame for male baldness or plays a role in it, just to remind you.
Guy:It sounds like you’ve been through so much. How do you feel now after everything listed-?
Yasmina:I feel like it was my scariest war and I felt very much like a soldier having been, well, perhaps on a crusade for many, many, many decades and I just turned 40 this year, and I’m now finally [00:44:00] experiencing health, good health for the first time since I was maybe 8 years old and it’s pretty amazing. I used to feel quite buttered and angry. I was very, very angry. I was so angry, I had the shortest fuse on the planet, I would just scream at the drop of a hat. Journalism didn’t help that very much working in war zones and being in horrible situations where you have to evacuate a team or deal with incoming fire, but there’s no room for politeness in most situations. It’s just all changed and I’m happy and peaceful and I let go of my anger. I was very angry with doctors, who didn’t spot the sickness and I was angry with … I was just angry with life and now, I don’t know. It’s so much-
Guy:That’s amazing. I know you’re inspiring so many other people with your own message which is fantastic.
Stewart:Just thinking that we’ve spoken lots about food and the catalysts for histamine reactions. Given the impact that mediation has had on your body as well, what about exercise? Because exercise can be a stresser on the body as well, so what do you do?
Yasmina:Absolutely and I wish somebody had told me this. It was very frustrating to exercise, exercise, exercise and eat really well and gain weight for most of your life. I now know it was inflammation and stress on the body and I was doing the wrong kinds of exercise. There are a lot of people with histamine … Histamine can make you collapse if you exercise too intensely. Running, lots of cardio, maybe football, things like that. Lots of cardio can upset your histamine levels [00:46:00] and cause it to spike. Now generally inflammation spikes for up to 72 hours after intense exercise as the muscles break down and the repair themselves. That causes inflammation.
In the long-term, it’s anti-inflammatory. Now for somebody who has a histamine issue, that temporary spike and inflammation can be very detrimental or even a little bit scary. I used to pass out on the treadmill, I would lose feeling in my hands and my feet. Just really horrible things. Then I read the research … That stopped me exercising for many years. I didn’t know what was going on but I became frightened of exercise and it turned out to be a great excuse because I can be quite lazy by nature. Couch potato, it was a pastime.
Eventually, I found the research on how to exercise without causing a histamine spike and it turned out that exercises in which you use your own weight, such as yoga, Pilates, things like that, or lifting weights calmly, without cardio will not cause that histamine spike. I went back to yoga. I used to practice yoga in 2000 and when I’d just started out working for CNN and although I loved it and I was doing Ashtanga which is fast paced, is the power yoga. I told my aunt one day, I just need to beat the crap out of something. I love yoga but I feel like I’m in class and I just want to beat somebody up. I think I just need something a bit more dynamic so I went to kickboxing.
I went back to kickboxing last year mostly just to prove to myself that I could. [00:48:00]I started running again, I started kick boxing. I was doing an hour and a half a day of kickboxing. I felt great. I could do it. But then the strangest thing happened, I started feeling like I wanted to beat people up again.
Yasmina:I realized the stress hormones were just causing, because stress hormones cause mast cells to break open and dump inflammation into the body. If the mast cells are in the brain when that happens, than can affect your other neurotransmitters. It can make you aggressive, it can make you depressed, it can do so many things to the brain and it’s a topic that’s starting to be researched more now. If you go on the internet and you type in, inflammation and depression, you’ll have tons of results. I was misdiagnosed as bipolar. I believe it was a miss diagnosis because as soon as I changed my diet, I had no more episodes. Over the course of 6 months, the episodes stopped. I was a rapid cycler. I would be laughing, I would be a great mood and then suddenly bang, I’d be screaming, I’d be angry, yeah, I’m going … The beast would come out and then I’d start crying.
Stewart:Wanting to beat people is okay when you got the skills to do that so you’re on the right track.
Yasmina:Eventually I realized that the key was yoga. It combines the mediation, you’re using your own weight and even if it is cardio, the immediate inflammatory benefits counteract or seem to, at least for me and the many, many others of my readers who do yoga, it’s very, very popular, instinctively, some people just know that yoga was a big part of it for them and that they [00:50:00] needed to go do it.
Guy:It almost seems like inflammation is at the root cause of everything. It all traces back to inflammation, essentially.
Yasmina:Yeah, but I worry that it’s becoming, oh it’s inflammation.
Guy:Oh, it’s paleo, oh you eat this, oh, you’re going to do that.
Yasmina:Exactly, what’s causing that release and I’m finding for so many people, it’s trauma, unhappiness and stress.
Guy:Yeah. Hence why mediation has been such a big part. They’re some great tips. We are just aware of the time. We have a couple of wrap up questions that we do on every podcast. Very simple. The first one is, what did you eat today?
Yasmina:Okay, I had a green smoothie which was mango, broccoli, cucumber, arugula, watercress, karela, spirulina, vegan DHA which is like an omega 3 fatty acid thing and that was it. Then I had a massive, and I mean massive, my salads are these epic bowls of greens with thyme, coriander, basil, chickpeas, grilled veggies, and then I was naughty. Then I was naught. I had a homemade blueberry, wait, blueberry coconut sugar, raw vanilla, ginger coconut oil cake that I baked and it’s based on a muffin recipe that people can get for free on my website and I’ll tell them how they can get there at the end.
Guy:Perfect. That would make me be naughty too, it sounded-
Stewart:Doesn’t sound that naught. I thought you were going to talk about a milk burger or something along those lines.
Yasmina:No. I do make my own ketchup though, but I didn’t make it yesterday. If you’re a histamine person you’ll be like, oh my god you made ketchup? Yeah, yeah, I do.
Guy:[00:52:00] Do you eat meat?
Yasmina:I eat a little bit of it. I was vegan for a while but when you’re down to so few safe foods that don’t cause any kind of reaction, you have to eat whatever doesn’t bother you and meat was one of the things that didn’t bother me. I tell people that what I do is I’ll just chop up a little bit of meat and then I’ll toss it with lots of veggies or stick it in a salad or something.
Guy:Cool. The last question is … Were you going to say something Steward?
Stewart:No. Did I look like I was?
Guy:You did. You had that look there and I thought-
Stewart:I always have that look.
Guy:What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Yasmina:Oh wow, well, there’s 2. One was when I was falling apart and tried to check myself into a mental institution because I thought I was having a nervous breakdown, stress invaded. A friend of my mothers who picked me up from there said to me … She took my hand and she just said, “Yasmina, sometimes all you have to do is chose to walk on the sunny side of the street.”
Stewart:That’s good advice, that is good advice. I like that [crosstalk 00:53:15].
Yasmina:So true. That’s number 1 and number 2 was, and this was life changing. My doctor in Spain told me this when I was finally diagnosed with mast cell activation. She said, “If you go into anaphylactic shock, the best thing you can do is lie down on the floor and relax.” When she said that to me, I said, “What do you mean?” Because they don’t like giving EpiPens in Spain. She said, “Call the ambulance but lie down on the floor and relax. It’s the most important thing.” I just said, “What do you mean?” Then she explained to me the stress hormone thing and whatever and then that kicked off my research.
That actually saved my life. When I was in Kenya, I didn’t have any medication on me, I was too far from hospitals, couldn’t get anywhere, I was in a house, nobody could hear me, there was a [00:54:00] party going on downstairs. I lay down, well I actually fell down on the floor and I began a mediation involving a visualization before I lost my vision and I mediated and eventually I was found and I continued meditating, meditating, meditating, and it was just life changing. Just suddenly my vision started opening up again and my heart started regulating.
There’s different levels of anaphylactic shock, not every anaphylaxis leads to death. I can’t tell you, oh I had a level 5 anaphylactic and I thought I was going to die and I had never thought that before. I was convinced I was going to die this time and I got through it and that was the changing point in my life and I thought, I can control this, I can heal. This has shown me that this plays a big part.
Stewart:That’s right. There’s some truth to what you’ve been practicing. I think I like the sound of that.
Guy:Have you written a book in all these experiences that you’ve been through?
Yasmina:I’ve actually written 11 e-books. I’m working on getting a book published. I’ve written the outline and I’ve spoken with a few people that worry there aren’t enough people who are interested in this so we’ll see, I’m still working on it but in the meantime, there are eBooks for download on my website. It covers everything from beauty to diet to a little bit on mediation. I have a yoga course that’s going to launch in January. I teamed up with my teacher to do this yoga course to take people who aren’t exercising right now and it just steadily gets progressively harder more intense, to try and help the healing process. More cooking videos, there’s a bunch on YouTube and stuff like that.
Guy:Fantastic. Where would the website be?
Yasmina:It is the low L-O-W histamine [00:56:00] H-I-S-T-A-M-I-N-E chef, C-H-E-F .com thelowhistaminechef.com
Guy:We’ll be [crosstalk 00:56:07].
Yasmina:I won’t give you my full name because you’ll never be able to [crosstalk 00:56:10].
Guy:I had 2 cracks at it and got it wrong [inaudible 00:56:13], so yeah.
Stewart:That’s awkward. I can testify that here’s heaps of stuff on there. I’ve got a number of your eBooks. Men Food was great, love the paleo granola recipe, I thought that worked for me. Yeah, get on there, dig around, loads of stuff and some of the videos are entertaining too.
Guy:Yeah. Thank you so much for your time Yasmina. That was just absolutely beautiful and I have no doubt, heaps of people get a great deal from that and so I really appreciate you coming on today and sharing your journey with us. That was awesome.
Yasmina:Yeah, it’s been wonderful talking to you guys talking to you guys. Thank you very much. It’s been a great interview.
Guy:No. Thank you.
Guy:Cheers. Bye bye.
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.
Eat well, Live Well. It’s that simple - Rohan Anderson
Our fantastic guest today is Rohan Anderson. A few years ago he createdWhole 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!
In This Episode:
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 :)
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 …
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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]
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.
Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on youriPhone HERE.
We love getting peoples perspectives on health and nutrition, especially when they’ve interviewed dozens of health leaders around the world, then made two inspiring documentaries that go on to transform and enhance the lives of millions of people!
Our fantastic guest this week is James Colquhoun, the man behind the fabulous movies ‘Food Matters’ and ‘Hungry For Change’. We ask James in the above short video, what three food hacks would you suggest we could do right now to improve our future health? I bet you can’t guess what they are!
Below is the full interview with James, where he shares with us his personal story regarding his dads illness of chronic fatigue syndrome and how he took massive action to intervene. Because he couldn’t get his father to read about nutrition and natural health, he figured he could probably convince him to watch a film on the subject. What follows is a journey of transformation, inspiration and two internationally acclaimed widely popular documentaries.
Full Interview with James Colquhoun: Why Food Matters & I’m Hungry For Change
In this episode we talk about:
Why he spent his entire savings on making the movie ‘Food Matters’
The ‘tipping points’ that inspired his dad to turn his health around
The most amazing transformational story he has ever seen!
The foods he goes out of his way to avoid and why
Why he created a ‘Netflix’ for health & wellness – FMTV
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. Today is a beautiful day here in Sydney and I’m at my local Maroubra Beach, so I thought I’d bring my introduction outside. As you can see it’s just stunning here.
I’m fresh back off a Joe Dispenza workshop over the weekend in Melbourne.
Now, if you’re not aware of Dr. Joe Dispenza, we interviewed him on the podcast a couple of weeks ago and I highly recommend you check him out. And if you get a chance to attend one of his workshops, it’s a must. It was phenomenal. It was probably one of the best experiences, when it comes to workshops I’ve ever had, and he really puts the science behind the “woo woo” as he puts it in terms of meditation, understanding the brain, and being able to better our lives with the thoughts we think and how we move forward with that.
So, yeah, I highly recommend you check that out.
So, anyway, moving on to today’s guest. Well, we’ve got a pearler for you today.
So, I’m sure you can all share these experiences. You know, when you decide to make the change you voraciously change your habits through the foods you eat, the exercises you do and you get rid of the low-fat diet. You cut the processed foods out and you can see all the changes happening to yourself. And of course, you then want to go on and tell the world.
I know I did, anyway, with my family and friends. But when you go and share this with them, you find half the time they might as well be wearing earplugs, because the words never seem to go in and of course, they’re on their own journeys too and have to make the changes for themselves.
To take that to the next level with today’s guest, he shares with us how his father started to become very ill and of course wanted to change the way he ate and the way he looked at his health. It was very difficult.
So, what did he decide to go and do? Well, he went and decided to go and make a documentary and spent the next two years and his entire life savings and pumped it all into this documentary.
And yes, our special guest today is James Colquhoun and he’s the creator of the documentary Food Matters. He is one inspirational guy and of course, he went on then and made Hungry for Change.
We delve deep into everything behind what James went and did. Why he did it in depth. And of course, he got to then go on and experience interviewing some of the best thought leaders in health around the world and put them into a documentary. And of course, apply that in his own life.
So, we get into his daily routines. What he does. The best tips he’s learned and practical applications of what we can bring into our everyday life, as well.
One thing was clear with James is that he is a very, very, very upbeat inspirational guy. You’re going to get lots out of this today.
It was just a pleasure to have him on the show.
Now, you may recall, as well, a couple of months ago, if you have been following us for a long time; we actually sent out an email asking you what your biggest challenges are, just to get some feedback. We have been listening. We had an awesome response and we’ve been behind the scenes, me and Stu, for the last couple of months, actually, putting them into a quiz, if you like, and putting videos behind it so that you can discover what your number one roadblock is.
So, if you’re struggling to drop the last five kilos. If you’re, how can we say, if you’re struggling to stick to the diet. Or if you’re confused, you get it, but you don’t get it. You know that sugar’s not good. We should be eating more fat. But you know there’s still lots of areas that you’re trying to plug and trying to figure out. And that’s half the reason why we put this information together. But obviously, we want everyone to get a crystal clear understanding.
So, that’s going to be on our home page of our website, 180nutrition.com.au. It’s going to go live very shortly, maybe even by the time you listen to this podcast. But I highly recommend check it out.
And of course, if you do have those relatives that are struggling with their own journey, send them to this, because it’s a nice message and they’ll be able to get a lot of clarification on being able to take the right steps moving forward.
Anyway, so, that’s at 180nutrition.com.au and of course, if you’re listening to this through iTunes, leave a review, subscribe to us, five star. It’s really greatly appreciated.
Anyway, let’s go over to our awesome guest today, James Colquhoun. Thank you.
Guy Lawrence: Hi, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke, as always. Hi Stuart.
Stuart Cooke: Hello mate.
Guy Lawrence: And our fantastic guest today is James Colquhoun. James, welcome. Did I pronounce your surname correct that time?
James Colquhoun: You got it spot on. Perfect.
Guy Lawrence: Perfect. Yeah, thanks mate. Look, I’m very excited to discuss all the work you’ve done over the years, which is obviously the documentaries, and I just think it’s absolutely fantastic what you’re doing.
But we always start the show, mate, just to get a little bit about your own journey, I guess, just for our listeners, to fill them in a bit. I mean, have you always been into making documentaries in nutrition or did that sort of evolve along the way?
James Colquhoun: Well, it’s actually really far from it and I think that’s common with a lot of people I speak to about their journeys into health and nutrition, is they were on a completely different trajectory before something happened; a sort of catalyst. And for a lot of people it’s illness in the family and that was certainly the case for us.
But, you know, I was a ship’s officer, driving high-speed passenger ferries, container ships, tankards…
Guy Lawrence: Oh, wow.
James Colquhoun: Private yachts. Worked for two of the top ten wealthiest people in the world for about three years, driving their big toys around. And got to see first-hand that all the money and all the freedom in the world doesn’t altogether mean happiness and health.
And these people struggle with some serious health conditions. And it was funny, but at the same time my dad was unwell, on a lot of medications and I was like, how come there’s this block for healing? How come people can’t get well?
So, this spurred a little bit of an interest in nutrition and personal development. Understanding more about how I could be healthy or how I could help my dad. And out of nowhere I started becoming interested in health and nutrition. Went to a few seminars; namely saw that big American guy with a thick accent, Tony Robbins.
Guy Lawrence: Of course. Yeah.
James Colquhoun: He had a day in his program, in the early, 2000s, when I went and saw it, on health and nutrition, which talked a lot about alkalizing and cleansing and topics I’ve never heard before, and started implementing some of that into my life. Sort of started to steer the ship in a bit of a different direction, so to speak.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And that thing that fascinates me as well is that you went out and actually made a documentary to create change. I mean, most people struggle to even just implement change in their own, in themselves, let alone actually go out and do something.
Stuart Cooke: Where did that idea come about? I mean, crikey, I get that you’ve; you’ve embraced this new world, this health and wellness and you start to attach yourself to the power of, you know, food can have on the way that; on our well-being. But what inspired you to go, “Right! I’m going to make a movie.” Because that isn’t something that Joe Public would do generally.
James Colquhoun: Well, I think; that’s a good question. And it just came about from having studied nutrition and seeing that we could make an impact in my father’s health and then thinking further beyond that.
“Well, how can we influence my dad?” I think that was one of the biggest questions we had. And when we were sending him books, it didn’t really work. We were sending him articles by email, “Hey, check out this research. Check out this latest information about vitamin B3 or about detoxification.” And, you know, that didn’t seem to work either.
And then we thought, “Well, how could we help him?” We thought, “What about a documentary? What about a good film?” Because for me, at the time, I was learning a lot from documentaries and I thought, “What if that could help my dad?” And we started looking at what documentaries existed around health, nutrition, cleansing. You know, empowering your own immune system to heal itself. And also covered a lot of the topics about the pharmaceutical industry and the agricultural industry.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
James Colquhoun: And none really existed at the time that covered all those topics and I think that was something that sort of spurred a thought in our minds that said, why don’t we look to see if we could create something to help influence my father and then also help reach more people with that same message.
Guy Lawrence: Did it take a while to get the message across to your dad, you know, from the early days? Or was he very open to it all?
James Colquhoun: Well, you know, early days he was not at all open to it. I mean, he was; every time we’d send him something or we’d send a book across, my mom would read it enthusiastically and then he would always disbelieve it. He would go, “No. I trust my doctors.” He was suffering from severe chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, anxiety; he was on six different medications and he was practically bedridden for about five years.
And the medical profession, the best that they could offer him was a continuing juggling or a mixing up of his cocktail of medications, basically.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
James Colquhoun: Saying, “Let’s go up on this one and down on this one. Well, let’s introduce this new one, which has more side effects. Or we’ll have this other drug come in.” And they were basically saying, “One day we may find the correct cocktail of medications that will have you at some level of health. But we can’t guarantee that you’ll ever actually be cured from this.”
And you know, for him and a lot of people out there that suffer from chronic conditions of lifestyle; anything from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, depression, mental illness; especially things that are called a syndrome, like chronic fatigue syndrome, for instance. It means that we don’t really know what causes it. We don’t really know how to fix it.
And even a lot of these chronic illnesses I just listed off, they’re sort of; you’re not given much hope from the mainstream medical fraternity and to me that’s frustrating. Because we know for a fact that many of these diseases are caused by diet and lifestyle-related elements.
We know that food toxicity, lifestyle habits, how you handle stress, etc. play a deep part in these particular illnesses and that’s been proven now. However, we don’t acknowledge their part in getting rid of them and to me that’s ludicrous. It’s like, how can you acknowledge that there’s a causative element and yet there is no curative element to that.
So, basically, we know these factors play a part, but when you get sick, “Let’s not worry about them too much; let’s just focus on drugging you.”
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
James Colquhoun: Which basically causes toxicity of the body, toxicity to the liver. And, you know, it’s a tricky situation from there.
Guy Lawrence: Another thought that popped in for me and I know a lot of people could relate to this, is that; you know, even happened with my own family is, sometimes you can get very frustrated because you’re trying to get a message across to somebody that; whose illness could be getting worse and they just; they don’t want to listen or they don’t want to know and what’s very hard is to get that message across. But there’s normally a snap, a tipping point or something that goes “ah” and then all of a sudden they let the whole information in. Like what was the case for your dad?
James Colquhoun: Yeah. Sure. Before I go on, I just lost your video there, Guy.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I know. It’s just spinning around. I’ll have to stick a nice, good looking shot next to us all and play that.
James Colquhoun: Sorry. You know, it was really tricky for my dad, in that, he did have that turning point and he did have that catalyst. And for him it was a unique one and I bet it’s different for everybody. It might be a thought of not being around for your grandchildren. It might be, you know, it might be the thought that you might not make it yourself or get to achieve some of the goals in your life. Or it might not be that you have to have the physical health and the abundance of energy in order to be able to do the things that you want to do on a day-to-day basis.
But for my dad, some of the information that really shocked him was, one of the particular drugs he was on, which was a brand leader of antidepressants, called; it’s an SSRI antidepressant called Prozac. And that was a blockbuster drug for the company who made it. And they were coming out with a new version of the drug.
And when you come out with a new version of a drug, you have to say, when you put the patent application in to renew the patent, you have to say how it’s better than the existing drug.
So, what they do it they tinker with the molecular structure of the drug. Make a few improvements, a few changes and then say, “It’s better than the previous one, because of this, this and this.”
And one of the things my dad was suffering from was some really severe side effects. One of which was like suicidal thoughts and it was completely out of character for him. I mean, he had thoughts about taking his own life and that was something we knew wasn’t him. We knew it was the drugs, but he didn’t really believe that, and he thought it was because of his ill state of health.
And what happened was when Prozac was coming out with this new drug called, “Prozac(R).” At the time they said it will not cause the suicidal effects of the previous drug. And they had denied that for ten years.
Stuart Cooke: Oh boy.
James Colquhoun: They denied it. They denied millions of cases of payouts. They denied the fact that there were many cases in the U.S. where young kids had been put on these drugs and committed suicide and they said it had nothing to do with these drugs. And yet they had discovered later on that it did cause suicidal effects in some people, which meant many of them went on to take their lives.
And to me that’s; that was to me and to my father as well, a huge loss of trust, I think, in the medical fraternity, because the veil was lifted and he was able to see that there was such an economic confluence of events that happened in the background of that industry that caused these sorts of things to get passed over.
And I think, you know, when you start to look at where the money flows, you start to see a topic for what it really is. And when you look into the pharmaceutical industry and when you look into the agrichemical or the agribusiness industry, you start to see a really clear picture that it’s money that drives policy. And you have this revolving door syndrome between the regulatory body and also the industry. And they collude together in order to benefit shareholder outcome, but not so much patient outcome.
So, for my dad it was that big veil was lifted and he was like, “Oh my goodness. I have lost trust in the medical profession.” And that’s a huge thing to instill in somebody.
You know, you and I can’t do that around the dinner table with our uncles or aunties, because they just shoo it off and say, “Thanks, Stu. Thanks Guy. I appreciate your advice. I’m going to stick with my doctor.”
But if you think about sitting them down to watch a film, they can’t deny when you have MDs, you know, naturopathic doctors, medical researchers, journalists from around the world, all agreeing that there is this egregious aspect to the way that these particular industries are run and their outcome is not really focused on patient outcomes. They’re focused on profit.
And once you can get that clarity, then you can start to make decisions; like, “OK, well, this drug might be important because it’s short-term life saving.” The drugs have to be treated like a crutch. You know, you use it until the limb’s better and then you throw it out.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
James Colquhoun: But all the drugs that the drug companies are making these days are actually focused on, you know, white, wealthy, middle to upper class people that have diseases that are caused by what they eat.
So, they’re never going to be cured by the drug, but they have to take them for life. And that’s the perfect customer, if you think about it from a drug company. So, for me that was my dad’s big shift and we helped him, in a three-month period, go off all his medication. And he went on to a cleaned-up version of a diet; an upgraded diet. And in a matter of three months he lost 25 kilograms. He was off all six medications. He was practically back to perfect health after five years overweight, sick and on all these meds and offered no hope.
And so, that was another awakening for him and he’s like, “OK, I’m fully on board. This is amazing.” And he sort of helped us finish the film. We borrowed 50 grand from him. “Bank of Roy,” we call it, and finished the Food Matters film off and it then went to actually premiere in a cinema in Sydney and then went on to be seen by tens of millions of people the world over. It’s in multiple languages now. So, very grateful for this chance.
Guy Lawrence: That’s phenomenal. Look, just for the listeners, having watched Food Matters, what’s the basic concept of it?
James Colquhoun: Well, Food Matters; the basic concept is food is better medicine than drugs and you’re the best nutritionist and the best doctor that you can get is you. And that is; that’s it in a nutshell.
And I think the whole movie just goes to prove that nature has provided so much abundance and so many answers and yet we’ve confused it. We’ve made it difficult. We said, “No. No, nature doesn’t have those answers. The answer lies in this special chemical made-up formula.”
And really, all these manmade chemicals practically came about post World War II and to me that’s crazy, because World War II is not that long ago. I mean, we have great grandparents that were in that war. And so, that’s one and a half generations.
So, basically, in that time we have gone from everything prior to that, practically everything, was certified organic or not certified, it was organic. There was no or very little toxic chemicals that existed. There was a period around World War I/World War II where we were experimenting with some, but on a wide scale it didn’t really happen.
Post World War II, we started releasing wholesale into the environment over 44,000 manmade chemicals and we took the chemicals that we were using for warfare and we put them into completely unrelated uses. Like, if this chemical can kill people, we could use it in smaller doses to kill bugs or to control insects. And to me that’s a bit scary, because that’s your food. That’s what sustains you and it allowed us to do agriculture.
But then we use chemicals in so many different ways; skin care, food products, additives, preservatives, colors, flavorings. And we’ve really made a massive mistake. It’s been a huge, it’s been a huge experiment on our population and you know, maybe after a hundred million years, we might be able to evolve, to be able of digest some of those toxic chemicals. But the story of humanity is that we’ve never, we’ve never had them in our diet. We’ve never had in our lives. So, we shouldn’t have them now, is what I believe.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s terrifying.
Stuart Cooke: I do wonder in a hundred years’ time we’re going to look at us, back at ourselves and think, “What on earth were we thinking?” Like, “This is ludicrous!”
James Colquhoun: Yeah, yeah. I think, I think that’s hindsight always.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
James Colquhoun: We’re always going to have that perspective. We have that prospective on our lives too. We look back five years in our lives, “What were we thinking?” You know, we might be 20 years from now looking back, you know.
But I think it’s just really having a sit-down, getting the facts right and having a look at it and saying, “Hang on, this is not really adding value to our society.” It’s really adding value to some of the big multi-national corporations that have patents on that technology. So, really …
Stuart Cooke: That’s right.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: There’s certainly not a huge amount of cash to be made from being healthy, from some people’s perspective.
James Colquhoun: Well, good health makes a lot of sense, but it doesn’t make a lot of dollars.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
James Colquhoun: That’s from the Food Matters film, Andrew Saul, and it’s true. It’s a hundred percent true.
Stuart Cooke: So, just thinking about the principles of the movie and everything that you’ve learned during your father’s journey as well and you know, million dollar question, what three things could I do for me, myself, right now, to improve the future of my health?
James Colquhoun: Sure. You know, it’s always; you know one of the hardest things when you make a film is take 40 hours of footage and then take it down to 90 minutes.
Guy Lawrence: Wow!
James Colquhoun: That’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. Then you’ve got to go from 90 minutes down to 90 seconds …
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
James Colquhoun: … and that’s so infinitely impossible. But it’s part of the film process and you do it. And I guess that’s what life hacks are about too.
It’s like, how can we take this infinite knowledge and try to condense it down and it’s not an easy thing. But one of the focus; the focus of the films is really about adding in these healthy foods and focusing less on taking out, although that can be very important; but focusing on adding in.
And if I think about three things, the first thing that comes to mind would be hydration. Most of us are hydrated at some level, varying from dehydration to chronic dehydration.
You know, Dr. Batmanghelidj is an eminent doctor and researcher in the hydration space. And he was an Iranian doctor that got locked up in Iran and had only water to help heal patients he was dealing with in the hospital that he was also locked up with. And he started to do a lot of research in his life about it and it’s become foundational for a lot of other research that’s happened. But hydration, with either some sort of structured hydration or just good quality water, spring or filtered water. Drinking a lot of that.
And what water helps to do is it helps to flush the body, it helps to move things out and it solves one of the biggest problems, which is constipation. I mean, it’s something that many people don’t talk about.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right.
James Colquhoun: But regularly detoxifying your system, that’s one of the main elimination channels. I mean you’ve got the skin and sweat. Then you’ve got the bowels and then you’ve got urine. They’re the major ways that we shed and eliminate and process and get rid of toxins in the body.
You know, with a newborn baby coming into this world, having over 200 manmade chemicals already in its system, that’s a study coming from the Environmental Workers Group in the U.S.; you know, these are chemicals that have even been banned for 50 years, like some of the DDTs and PCBs. They’re still in women’s breast milk to this day.
Stuart Cooke: My word.
James Colquhoun: So, we have this level of toxicity that’s just now the new set point.
So, you want to assist your body, not just from a detoxification perspective, but from also from an energy perspective. When you’re properly hydrated the blood cells can bounce along and move through the blood freely. A lot of your blood and your lymph system is all regulated by how hydrated you are and especially goes for a lot of the organs as well.
So, hydration; you know you can grate a bit of ginger and squeeze a bit on ginger into it, fresh ginger, and then a little bit of lime or lemon juice in some water. That’s a really great way to hydrate.
So, the first thing is hydration. Probably the second thing, I would say, is greens. Getting enough green plant food can be super powerful. It doesn’t matter what diet you do, vegan, pesca, lacto-ovo vegetarian or whether you’re paleo or whether you’re low carb/high fat or high fat/low carb or whatever you do, it doesn’t matter.
Greens are still some incredible goodness from Mother Nature and it’s in the way that they concentrate sunlight and concentrate it in chlorophyll. And when you consume greens, either through green juice or some sort of green powder that you can mix into water or you have sautéed greens or however you do it, you’re adding that concentrated sunlight into your diet. And that helps to alkalize and cleanse your blood. A lot of the bitter greens can be fantastic as well.
You know, it’s not a coincidence that in folklore they say, “bitter medicine,” because a lot of the bitter foods that you find in nature have stronger medicinal capabilities. And if you think about how a culture consumed food, there was this scale. There was this like everyday foods. Then there’s like sort of super foods or more powerful foods. And then there’s like medicinal foods.
And even in that is psychotropic drugs. They would have rituals where they would take certain types, either a brew or some sort of hard cider that they would make or some sort of; or even mushrooms, or some certain things. But tribally, if you just look at a tribal culture, they have this big array of foods and some of them would have up to 300 different species of plant and animal foods that they would be consuming.
Now, we’re down, stuck on this tent, we’ve got like iceberg lettuce; like next to nothing, you know.
So, try to get as many different types of greens; bitter greens. You know, get into your garden. Pick your weeds, I mean, you know: dandelion. You can also pick lots of different things, gotu kola sometimes is growing in people’s backyards.
Try to identify what some of the local green soft leafy herbs that you can have in your diet. You know, throw five or six different types of herbs into a salad, juice soft herbs, juice green vegetables, put them in a smoothie, however. Just try to get move of that green plant food into your diet and that will help.
Again, like the hydration helps to clean your blood and keep it alkalized and help to keep the cells energized. And if you look at blood from somebody who’s dehydrated and over-acidic, you’ll see you can identify their blood very clearly. And if you look at somebody who’s very well hydrated and someone who has a lot of greens, regardless of what they have in the other percentage of their diet, you’re still going to notice a very different quality of blood. If you look at the quality of blood, I can guarantee that will be who you are as a person; whether you’re more energetic and alive or more dead and sloth-like.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Oxidative stress and inflammation spring to mind straight from that.
James Colquhoun: Spot on. Spot on.
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely.
James Colquhoun: So, that’s two. Sorry.
Guy Lawrence: That’s two. There’s one more. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: I’m hanging out for number three.
James Colquhoun: Three I would have to say would be fermented foods. I mean, fermented foods is the most epic fail that humanity ever made. It’s not that it was a fail, I mean, it was; ultimately they did it to preserve food. And so, they succeeded at that. It wasn’t an epic fail, it was mostly an epic success, really. But what was funny was that they didn’t realize how; the effect on health that those cultured foods would have.
And so, you know, the process of fermentation was they were controlling some bacterial fermentation from the environment in order to be able to preserve foods, such as cabbage made into sauerkraut. Or, you know, milk fermented into a kefir or into a hard cheese. Or you look at cultured veggies, cultured pickle from Japan. You’ve got the cultured condiments from India, the pickled vegetables. Tomato sauce or catsup in the States is originally a fermented food. You look at dill pickles.
And there’s always this history of consuming fermented foods with cooked foods.
And, you know, it was a fantastic thing that we did that as humanity to preserve foods.
But one of the most incredible things that we’re discovering more and more about now, especially as we start research more about the microbiome and the make up of the bacteria in the gut and how powerful that is for our immunity. And that even when a child comes out through the birth canal, that fluid that coats its mouth and then goes into the gut or if you take some of that fluid and put it on there, if there’s a different style of birth, that’s its first shot. That’s its flu shot. I mean, that should really be the only flu shot it gets. And then you can top that flu shot off with more cultured bacteria.
Now, most of the fermented foods are either wild ferments or they have been inoculated with a veggie culture starter. But we’re moving; more research now showing that the human bacteria can be very powerful in that fermentation process.
So, yeah, but fermented foods have a strong history for humanity and I think they’re one of the most healthful things that we can have. Every time I have a cooked food, I try to get a fermented condiment there with it.
So, of those three things: hydration, greens, and fermented foods, I think it’s super important.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: That’s excellent and I wouldn’t have expected that answer. Because things like sugar and vegetable oils, you know, are buzzwords and everybody thinks, “Oh crikey! I’ve got to do that.” But as simple as hydration. And I wonder how many people listening to this, right now, will pause it and rush off and get a glass of water and just stop to think about, “It makes perfect sense.”
Guy Lawrence: And put some greens in it.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right.
James Colquhoun: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: So, a couple of things, questions, occurred with Food Matters. Did; what was the; how was it received when it first came out? Did you have any criticism around it, because it was such a strong topic as well? Or did everyone just embrace it?
James Colquhoun: You know, it’s a great; it’s a good question. I often get that question. And I; to be honest I was really shocked, because we really had a very hard go at the pharmaceutical and agricultural industry. We were calling out particular drugs. We were referencing companies that were involved in this sort of deception of the human population. And part of me was a little bit, I guess, worried about what was going to happen. And another part of me said, “Why should I even care about it? This is the truth. Let’s get it out there.”
I think I was inspired by Michael Moore, because here’s the gentleman that made a movie about the then president of the United States of America, ripping to shreds every policy decision he’d ever made in his tenure and then getting broad, full theatrical distribution in the US.
And to me that marked a massive shift in an era where cinéma vérité or free cinema was now allowed. I’d imagine if Michael Moore was 20 years earlier, he probably would have been shot or taken out by the CIA.
I sort of felt protected by him. It was as if Michael Moore was my bodyguard. I’m like, if somebody came for me, I’d just call Michael Moore and say, “Do you want to make a film about this?” So I think that’s the problem now is that if anybody tried to attack us, that’s just great material.
I mean, if you had a pharmaceutical company try to say, hang on, this is litigious, or take us down, or buy us out, I mean, there’s another documentary and then they’re going to be put into a whole media spin.
So, I guess we didn’t really receive any lashback. One thing was we were booked during a press tour once in the U.S. to go on GMA, or Good Morning America. It’s America’s largest, most-watched breakfast show. And it got cancelled the night before.
And the producer loved the film. Was really batting for us. Absolutely wanted us on. And then she; legal went over it and basically canned it, because, they didn’t say, but because she said “it came from legal,” my guess was because a lot of the advertisements they run in between there are for drug companies.
So, we’re gonna go on and say, “Hey, food’s better medicine than drugs,” and it’s gonna cut to a break and it’s gonna say, “Take Zoloft.” And that would not be great for advertisers.
So, that’s probably the only thing that was quite subdued. But we have not really got the film onto many mainstream broadcasts. I mean, it’s been on some of; our films have on Jetstar or Singapore Airlines or we’ve also been broadcast into 33 French-speaking countries and we also channel in New Zealand.
But as far as TV and mainstream media, not a whole lot. It’s been very much more of an underground movement.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. And do you have any estimates how much that’s been viewed over the years; how many people that’s reached now?
James Colquhoun: I’ve made a few guesstimates. Certainly over 10 million would be on the lower side. I mean, just looking at the Netflix stats alone, there are 630,000 ratings of the film. And Netflix don’t share view data. So, if 1 in 10 rated a film, for instance, that’s 6.3 million on Netflix alone. And just through our websites and a lot of the community screenings all around the world. And the free screenings events that we run on our site has done a few million views over the last few years through those events. So, yeah, I’d say. . .
Guy Lawrence: Well done. That’s amazing.
So, then you go on and decide to make a second movie.
James Colquhoun: After Food Matters, we wanted to make another one. We saw through my dad’s transformation that one of the biggest things people noticed was how well he looked and how young he looked and how he’d lost so much weight. They never went and asked, “How did you get off the drugs?” It was like it was a taboo question. And it’s like religion and politics; cancer. You can’t talk about these things at the dinner table.
So, family would always go, “Wow, you look great. You’ve lost a lot of weight.” And then had Laurentine and I think more about well, we are really, as a culture, attracted to being healthy, to looking fit, to looking trim. And that’s a big thing that people strive for. And yet, statistics show that we’re getting fatter and fatter, as a society. I mean, obesity, especially in our younger population, teenage kids, is skyrocketing in the U.S. and Australia and most of the Western developed world, for that matter.
And we’re spending more than ever on diets. There’s $80 billion a year spent on diet and diet-related products in the U.S. This is like: sugar-free, fat-free, cleanse programs, fat pills, weight-loss surgery. I mean, it’s a huge industry. And yet, if you look at the statistics, that amount of spending is having zero to no impact on obesity statistics.
So, how, if we’re spending that much money a year, can we be getting bad results? I mean, surely there is some huge flaw in our thinking around this issue. Which is a hugely important issue, because obesity is the number one leading cause of death. And you think, well, hang on; how is that possible? Well, if you do the research, it’s because it’s the largest precursor to most chronic illness. So when you’re obese or overweight, the chances of heart disease or cancer or diabetes skyrocket. So, you become the biggest risk factor for those illnesses, and that’s the biggest gateway to a lot of those problems through obesity.
So, we started looking into it and then saw that, you know, a lot of what is promoted as a way to lose weight was very; did a lot of damage to the body; wasn’t helpful or healthy long-term. And we just wanted to uncover a lot of those issues and then try to set the record straight and say, well, what do we know about the human body, how can we handle these weight and body transformation issues in a healthy way. And then we interviewed a lot of people who had had success in that and were doing it in a good way. And that became Hungry for Change.
Guy Lawrence: Hungry for Change. Awesome.
Stuart Cooke: With those two movies, then, in mind, do you have, like, a standout transformational story?
James Colquhoun: The biggest one by far is Jon Gabriel in Hungry for Change. I mean, that guy. He’s, luckily, now, the godfather to my son. He lives about a 45-minute drive from here. And so I’m super lucky to have him locally, because he’s from the states originally.
But Jon lost over 200 pounds over about a three- or four-year period and was able to keep it off for seven years. And that’s going from morbidly obese. You know, most people don’t even have that much weight. They don’t even weigh that to start with, let alone losing that much weight.
So, Jon is incredible in that he really brought together two disparate elements, I guess, in health and nutrition. One was the mind and one was the body. So, everyone was focusing on this. Like, “Have your lemon detox drink, eat nothing for 30 days, or juice for 30 days straight.” I mean, some of these are good ideas; some of these are crazy ideas. “And then you’ll lose weight.”
But not many other people were going, “Hang on. What’s the emotional component? How can we look at using meditation or visualization to reduce stress in the body. Or, how can we, like elite athletes do, use the power of visualization to visualize the exact outcome you want?
So, athletes would visualize running that hundred-meter sprint or they would even visualize doing that big aerial maneuver. Or they used the power of this visualization to enhance their performance.
And there’s actually a lot of science showing that when you visualize something in a really powerful way, your body is actually twitching its muscles as if it was doing that action as well, whether you’re jumping high to do a slam dunk or something.
So, Jon took that knowledge and put it into body transformation. So, he would create visualization, guided visualization programs, where imagining the body, the perfect body you want, walking along the beach with the body. Being in that body, like creating a vision of you in that body.
And it sounds a bit crazy, but the subconscious mind is so powerful that it’s put to work in so many different ways. It subtly starts to regulate appetite, hunger, secretion of fluids by certain organs in the body. All these processes that are happening because of that visualization.
And he’s living proof of it and he’s helped thousands of people as well go through this process. So, if you’re looking to have extra strength or to lose extra weight, incorporating some sort of visualization to it might sound strange, but’s it’s actually an awesome secret that most people aren’t fully embracing.
And even just from the stress reduction perspective, we’re so on-edge and we’re so over-stimulated with a lot of foods that we eat that having that relaxation element and having really high, dense nutrient foods so your body is actually getting the omega-3s and the essential fatty acids and the proteins and the grains that it needs. That combined is an unbeatable combination. And Jon’s living proof of that.
Stuart Cooke: That’s; it’s such an unbelievable thought that the power of our mind. . . I mean, stress can have more of an impact than bad food.
James Colquhoun: Yep. Yep. Exactly.
Guy Lawrence: We’ve actually got Dr. Joe Dispenza coming up on our podcast next week. And I’m looking forward to delving into that topic, because that’s exactly what he’s about, for sure.
James Colquhoun: Before the next question, on that stress-food relationship, I think what’s really important to just bring up quickly about that is, you’re spot-on. If you’re stressed about what you’re eating, or if you’re like “I can’t eat this” or “I can’t eat that” or “I can only have this much of that,” that stress is actually doing damage to the body as well.
So, you know, Jon’s program and what we advocate in Hungry for Change as well is, like, let go of the stress in our food. Even though you might want to aspire to eat that perfect diet, don’t worry if you slip up and have some gluten every now and then. Or “I had a grain.” You know. Don’t freak out about it. Allow yourself to eat as best as you can when you can, and if you slip up, just make peace with that and acknowledge that there’s an element of biochemical reaction when you eat food, but also there’s the biochemical reaction when you think thoughts. So, really create a relaxed environment around food. Always, hopefully, sit down to eat, spend a few minutes just being still before you start eating. Eat in a relaxed way and your body will produce better results for you.
Guy Lawrence: And slow down, yeah.
Stuart Cooke: That’s helpful. And like you said, thinking and preparing for your body to digest and absorb it. Because you can be in another mindset, texting, watching TV, shouting at the kids, and your body isn’t ready to grab all of the good stuff.
James Colquhoun: They say that, you know, well, we’ve figured out that digestion doesn’t happen in the gut. It starts in the mouth, right? So the chewing and swallowing. But it starts before that. It starts when you see, when you smell the food.
But I think if you look at some of the longest-lived, healthiest people in the world, they sit down for hour, two-hour lunches. They’ve probably got multi-generations around the table. They laugh. They relax. The either some sort of prayer or some sort of gratitude before they eat. You know, all these really traditional people have it dialed, and the more we get back to that simple way, or try to incorporate some of those simple, ancient. . . You know, it’s Stone Age technology that’s gonna help overcome all the problems in the world. It’s just about how do we take that Stone Age technology, these ancient ideas, and bring them into everyday life? And I think those little rituals are super powerful.
Guy Lawrence: Awesome. You mentioned something regarding certain foods you wouldn’t eat. What foods would you go out of your way to avoid at all costs?
James Colquhoun: Foods I would avoid at all costs. I think, wherever possible, and I don’t want to say that I avoid everything at all costs, because sometimes you will eat something at the bar and it’s got hydrogenated vegetable oils. And it’s like, “Oh, shit.” I discovered that afterwards. You go to a health food store and eat something you think’s health food, then it’s got agave syrup in there as a sweetener, which I’m not huge on, even though that was a big fad awhile ago.
So, you know, but I would say that some of the things that I really go out of my way to avoid, wherever possible: vegetable oils. Like, you know, vegetable oils go rancid in the body; cause all sorts of havoc. They’re a new food. They’re a modern food. We were never designed to really process vegetable oils in that way.
Good quality oils are great. Some cold-pressed olive oil, some other cold-pressed oils that are very stable: avocado oil, things like that are OK. Then really good butters; ghee. We need good fats. Cod liver oil. That sort of thing is fantastic. But these highly unstable, easily-turned-rancid vegetable oils, we have to get that out. That’s, for me, that’s an “out.”
Other things that I really try to avoid but never avoid completely are things like grains. You know, I do have some grains in my diet. I go out of my way to properly prepare them, either soaking or fermenting. But, you know, as a general rule I really try to steer clear of a lot of the white, fluffy, floury products. I think they’re usually detrimental to health. Everybody, at some level, has a sensitivity to gluten and grains, and you may be a little bit or you may be a lot. Right up here’s celiac.
So I think that avoiding or reducing them as much as possible is helpful. If you are gonna have them in your diet, try to get really ancient forms of these grains, either einkorn XXor earhorn wheat 0:42:32.000XX or an emmer wheat. And then soak, ferment, do all those sorts of things. And that’s how we always used to do it. Again, Stone Age technology is gonna solve it all.
And try to get the non-hybridized original version of it. I mean, wheat was like eight foot tall. Now it’s like that tall and it’s got crazy amounts of bushels on it. They just come and harvest that shit up. Mix it in. The more gluten the better, because gluten makes it fluffy, because gluten is glue. It’s essentially a glue. That’s why you knead it and it gets all sticky and gluey and stretchy. Gluten is the glue in bread and we’ve become addicted to that fluffy white carbohydrate.
So, if you’re going to have any sorts of grains, get back to the original. That’s what I am about. So, those two. What else would I avoid at all costs?
I think one of the other things I would really focus on is, when I consume animal products, to make sure wherever possible they’re organic, fed their natural diet, which could be grass or other things. And free-roaming and humanely raised.
Because any animal product, whether it’s a good-quality, grass-fed butter, or a meat, or a chicken, or fish, when it’s reared in a natural way it’s fine. But when it’s unnaturally raised or fed hormones or antibiotics or fed only corn, wheat, and soy, then those animals get sick. They also concentrate a lot of the pesticides and the toxins in that food into their body. Because toxins are lipophilic; they’re fat-loving. So toxins always attract to fat. So, if you have adipose tissue or fat tissue if your gut, or cellulite in your thighs, and you squeeze it together; you see all that. That’s fat tissue, and it’s often trapped toxins, and they say water detoxing can get rid of that.
If you’re eating a sick animal that’s been having a lot of foods that have been grown with pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, then it’s concentrating those pesticides in its body. And then you’re eating a concentrated version of that toxicity.
So, any fat products, animal products, a lot have a high percentage of fat, good-quality fats, most of them, if they’ve been eating a good diet. But you also think about nuts and seeds which also have a high percentage of fat. You want to make sure those products, or I want to make sure those products, I, personally, are as organic as possible so that they’re not concentrating any toxins unnecessarily that I’m introducing into my diet.
So, I think those three things are the rules for me.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fantastic. And when you think about the amount of people that actually eat them, mainly. You know, the foods that you go out of your way to avoid as well.
James Colquhoun: Yeah, XXunknown 0:44:57.000XX
Guy Lawrence: Unfortunately, yeah. Go ahead, Stu.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, so, I was quite excited just for you to touch on FMTV. Now, this is something that, when I heard about what it was, got super excited. Without giving it away, joined up and spent months watching all this awesome stuff.
So, I wondered if you could just tell us a little bit about what FMTV is.
James Colquhoun: Cool. Cool. Well, since producing Food Matters and Hungry for Change, we just dropped it, a lot of the film industry, the way the we distributed those titles, we didn’t go to the festivals. We didn’t do theatrical distribution. We bypassed a lot of the majors and got to our audience. And that pissed a lot of people off. A lot of the studios and that.
But it’s created a huge surgence in filmmakers that are basically disrupting the system. They’re splitting up their rights, they’re assigning rights differently, they’re maintaining their rights to distribute their film on their website. I think it’s fantastic that that’s happening, because the power’s shifting back to the content producers.
Now, there’s still a big issue in that for each film that’s made, for every Food Matters or Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, or Carb-Loaded, or Hungry for Change, or Fed Up, or Food, Inc., there’s a hundred other films that are awesomely well-produced, made by budding filmmakers that have put together great content, that don’t get picked up by iTunes or Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime or any of these platforms.
And over the years, I would freely consult with a lot of these filmmakers and just give them; I’ll have a call with them for a couple of hours and just tell them everything I learned. Because I want. . . every. . . a rising tide floats all boats, and the more films in this genre that are succeeding, the better it is for everybody, because the message is getting out. It’s about creating that XXWin-A-Thon 0:46:42.000XX environment, I call it.
And so I would consult with all these filmmakers and they’d come back to me a year later and they wouldn’t have fully implemented their process or they wouldn’t have done it right, and they’d be asking me more questions again. And I got a little bit, not frustrated, but I got upset that a lot of these companies were not taking these films on board, or they would get knocked back by distributors.
So, I had a thought about bringing all this content together in one space and essentially creating a Netflix but for health and wellness. So, a home for all this information around nutrition, health, natural medicine, peak performance, transforming your body, meditation, mind-body, life purpose, like some of big questions around: How can we be the best human we can be? Whether you’re a mother, or an elite athlete, the knowledge is really similar.
And then: How can we have recipe videos from some of these experts showing up some of this content? How can we have some cool exercise and yoga and stretching and back strengthening and more power exercises? How can we have all that in one place, and using this new form of media that is taking over the world? I mean, you look at what industry terms SVOD, or Subscription Video On Demand, it’s exploded. I mean, Netflix went from no digital to like over 50 million subscribers in the last eight years, I think.
Stuart Cooke: Is that right?
James Colquhoun: Yeah, so they are absolutely crushing it. And to me that says two things: one is people want to consume content differently. If they want to watch a TV series, they just want to watch it back-to-back and watch all 20 episodes. That’s like, binge TV they’ve basically given rise to.
But another part of that equation is that I think it’s most of the world putting a hand up and saying, “I don’t want ads anymore. I don’t want to watch this b.s. on TV in between the program I’m trying to watch. I don’t want to be sold on a drug. I don’t want to be sold on Coke. I don’t want to be sold on fast food or Carl’s Jr. or In-N-Out burger or McDonald’s. I want to watch what I want to watch, when I want to watch it, and I don’t want to be disrupted.”
And to me, that’s awesome. Because I’ve always hated disruption advertising. And, you know, I think that Netflix, in a way, has helped to pave a new movement of watching the content when you want. So, FMTV was born out of that, which stands for Food Matters Television. And it’s on FMTV.com, and it launched March last year, so it’s been going for just over a year, and we’ve had over a million view of content in the channel. We’ve got subscribers all around the world. And we’re developing for new platforms. We’re in Roku, which is like an Apple TV in American, and that’s in 10 million homes there. And really trying to help filmmakers that aren’t getting great distribution, plus also help people like you and I that are always thirsty for more knowledge and more information but want it in an entertaining way, where it’s fun to sit down and watch something, bring it together, and help get the message to more people and hopefully create more of a groundswell around this important knowledge.
Stuart Cooke: Brilliant.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s awesome. We subscribe, and we love it. And we’d certainly recommend anyone listening to this, check it out. FMTV. It’s a great one-stop shop.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, I was just; I actually loved the mastery, from Food Matters, so you get to delve into more of the individual interviews and learn about that, and just, yeah. It blew me away. That kind of stuff really, really interests me.
James Colquhoun: Yeah, there’s so much great content that you have leave out of a film. And I’ve encouraged a lot of filmmakers that we’ve signed to FMTV to give us their outtakes; to give us the extended interviews. And we get them up there as well, because people watch the film and they get inspired and they go watch the whole interview with, like, XXDr. Ed Lorsoro 0:50:27.000XX and they’ll go watch the whole interview with Gary Tubbs or they’ll go watch the whole interview with whoever. And they’re like, whoa, this is a totally new depth of knowledge that got brushed over in the film, but in that interview they give you information that’s a lot more applicable.
So, yeah, I like that, too, so that’s fun.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s brilliant, James.
We actually ask a couple of questions on the show every week, before we wrap up, and the first one is: What did you eat yesterday?
James Colquhoun: OK. Cool, cool. For breakfast, I had some sautéed greens and I had a cabbage that was sitting in the fridge, almost turning itself into sauerkraut. So, it was getting old so I ripped a few of the sheets off, chopped the core out, chopped it up into chunks, got some Swiss chard, chopped it, lots of fresh herbs from the garden; got mint and basil.
And with the cruciferous vegetables, like cabbage, you’ve either got to ferment it or steam or fry it, because the goitrogenic effects of the cruciferous vegetable. So, watch out for; they’re the most powerful vegetables we know, like broccoli, kale, cabbage, Romanesque, these sorts of vegetables, are better and more easily digested when they’re slightly cooked.
So, I took some of those greens, fried them all up in a pan, had some soft-boiled eggs. I love soft-boiled eggs; I know some people don’t like them. They’re one of nature’s perfect foods. And make sure to keep the yolks slightly undercooked where possible, because that’s where, contrary to popular belief about eating only the whites, you know, the yolk is where the nutrition is. I mean, that’s where the really powerful DHA and EPA, the essentially fatty acids that drive all sorts of processes in your body, especially in brain function, they’re in there, and they get damaged by heat, so having them slightly undercooked is a good idea.
I also had some breakfast meats, which I don’t do that often, but it was a Sunday morning. And so I had some organic, free-range bacon in there as well. So, that’s something that’s new for me. I started introducing, like, liver meats and organ meats as well. I didn’t have any of them for breakfast though. I didn’t have any toast or gluten. It was just basically greens.
To me, greens, eggs, and then some sort of protein source, so it could be a quinoa or it could be some sort of meat or something, that’s a really filling, super-hearty breakfast. And if you get that, you’re gonna have less blood sugar issues at 10, 11, 12 o’clock. If you wake up and have jam on toast, it’s basically rocket fuel on rocket fuel. So, your blood sugar goes “bang” and down.
So, that was breakfast. What did I have for lunch? What did I have for lunch? I can’t remember. If it comes to me, I’ll remember it. I had a smoothie in the afternoon and it was one that I don’t have often, but I’d bought some pineapples; were available, so I put a little bit of pineapple in a blender and then I put lots and lots of coconut; the creamed coconut. Not coconut cream in a can, but creamed coconuts. So, it’s like they take the whole coconut, they make it into almost like an almond butter cream. It’s ridiculous. Everybody should be on that. So I put heaps of that in. And then I put some coconut milk in as well. And watch out for all the additives and that sort of stuff. You want to try to find one that doesn’t have any of the guar gums or anything like that in there.
Then some ice, maca powder, whole hemp seeds (which are illegal for human consumption in Australia and New Zealand, so I didn’t say that. This was a facial mask, actually, that I made). So, what else did I put in there? That was about it, actually. So, it was like piña colada, really. Oh, actually, I put tahini in there as well, which is milled up sesame seeds. A little bit of that in there. Whizzed that up and it was absolutely amazing. I mean, I always, like, wing it with my smoothies. I’m not a recipe sort of guy, but that was one of the better ones that I’ve made in awhile.
Stuart Cooke: So, was it one or two shots of vodka in there?
James Colquhoun: There was none.
Then I went around to my dad’s place and got a haircut yesterday afternoon. And I had a beer with him at sunset, which was really nice. It was a hand-crafted, three-ingredient IPA from a U.S. brewery. So, always make sure your beers have three or less ingredients. Ideally just three. You can’t really have less than three ingredients. And that’s a German rule, 1846, der Reinheitsgebot, make sure you always try to have German beers if you’re having any.
And for dinner, I actually had a lamb curry, which I made from scratch. And it was like, we had made the recipe in the office the week before. We were doing some filming. And it was so delicious I wanted to make it at home. So I made that from scratch and we had lamb curry with rice.
And to healthify that sort of dish, what we do is have, like, three or four big, heaping tablespoons of sauerkraut on there. So, you’re getting that fermented food with the cooked food. And then also we made another fermented side, which was yogurt with, like, turmeric in there, which is good for inflammation, and fresh cucumber chopped up. And if you don’t do any organic dairy yogurt, you can always have a coconut yogurt in there as well, so it’s no dairy.
And, to me, I still get to have that beautiful, rich, delicious meal, but then have the sauerkraut or the yogurt; any of those fermented sides. Even mix it. I’m not a mixing guy. I like to piece it together. But that was my day. I still don’t remember what I had for lunch, actually.
Guy Lawrence: Maybe you skipped it because your breakfast was so nourishing.
James Colquhoun: Yeah, it was a big, late breakfast. Maybe it was just the smoothie, actually. Yeah, that was yesterday.
Guy Lawrence: That’s awesome, mate.
And the last question is: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
This generally stumps everyone.
James Colquhoun: Yeah. It’s a tough one, because I try to think, well, was it nutrition-based, or is it life based. I mean, you said “best advice.” That’s just wide.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, anything.
James Colquhoun: I think it’s probably from the big man Tony Robbins again, who I admire his work. He XXcollates? Curates? Creates? some of the best personal work 0:56:55.000XX on the planet, and peak performance work on the planet as well.
And, to me, his statement, “take massive action,” is so simple, but it’s super radical. I mean, you think about that all of us have so many ideas in our day-to-day life. I mean, you guys started an awesome company, you’re getting great information out there; that started as an idea.
I mean, all of us have, and I know you guys probably have another 30 or 50 ideas that you’re thinking about right now. And so am I. So, it’s taking those ideas, distilling it down to your top two or three, and then not thinking about it anymore. Just going and doing it. And, to me, a lot of the things where I’ve had success in my life was from taking massive action, whether that’s learning about a new piece of nutritional information or whether that’s learning about something where you want to have an impact or do some philanthropic work or something. It’s about taking massive action.
It might seem like a little bit of a copout, that statement, but to me that’s a really important element of my life. I think if you learn something and you want to do it, just go do it. And have a blatant disregard for the resources that you have on hand at the time. So, I think people then go, “Well, I can’t take action because of this.” And that’s just b.s. Again, act as if that’s not an issue. You know what I mean? Just go for it. And you find the resources, you find the way, you make it happen; possible.
And with just about everything I’ve done in the last seven or eight years, after completing it, if you’d asked me, would you have done that knowing how difficult it is, it’s like, I probably wouldn’t have started.
Guy Lawrence: No way, yeah.
James Colquhoun: And I think that’s true for everybody. And if you think about that, then it makes that statement even more powerful, which is “take massive action.” Because you realize that had you stalled any longer or had you had hindsight, you probably wouldn’t have done it. So, you’ve got to do it.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. It was the same with us. Like, we had nothing when we started. We had no idea what we were doing. But we were passionate and had the intention of getting out there.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right. And I remember reading a book by Richard Branson, and that was his driver. It was: Just do it. Get on with it, and do it. Create the problem, and then something will happen. Because there’s an energy there already.
James Colquhoun: Yeah. Yeah. He did it in a massive way. I love his work as well. “Let’s negotiate a lease of an aircraft!” It’s like, what? Are you kidding me?
And that’s the sort of thing. I think even with the TV station, like, “Let’s create a subscription TV service.” It’s like, well, how do you do that? We’ll need a contract to sign content. OK, let’s do that. Then you need a delivery platform. All right. Let’s build that.
It was like, we had no idea. We just built it from scratch. And now we have an awesome team in here that’s acquiring content. We’re speaking to the biggest distribution companies in the world. They’re based in New York, in L.A. We’re speaking with Jamie Oliver’s team and all these people about signing this content, and we’ve basically made this idea up 12 months ago, 18 months ago, and put it on a contract. And I think that; I don’t think anybody would; I mean, that’s how most businesses start. How most ideas start is it’s just something you’ve created a vision in your mind and you went and did it.
And I think that everyone will acknowledge, like you guys are now, and like I am here, is that if you go back 12 months, eight months, you know, we didn’t have a clue. And it’s that learning. Now I know about contracts. Now our team knows about contracts. You learn more about how to do it. That’s the fun.
Stuart Cooke: That’s brilliant, mate.
Guy Lawrence: And so with all that in mind, what’s next for you guys at Food Matters? Is there anything in the pipeline?
James Colquhoun: There’s a few things in the pipeline. You know, one of the things that, a core message; if I could show you into the kitchen, just around here in the office, we’ve got a poster here, it’s our guiding principle, really, which is how can we help share this life-saving message with more people?
So, I think we’re constantly looking, thinking about that, and musing on it, and thinking, well, how can we; what’s the next step for sharing this message? FMTV was a big deal, it took a lot of our focus, and now, you know, we’re focusing on some more things but we have some food products coming out this year. You know, we’ve got a whole food vitamin C powder, which is awesome because vitamin C’s such a critical nutrient and there’s so many awesome plant-based sources of that, and yet there’s very few quick powder drink mixes you can take. We’re one of the only animals that don’t produce our own vitamin C, so it’s important for us to get it from our diet, and that’s great for stress and all sorts of other things. And energy and mood.
So, there’s a few other products we have coming out like a chocolate and a protein and an update greens in new packaging. I’m looking at that calendar here. We’re working to help create a curated selection of the top sort of 30 or 50 products that Laurentine and I and the team here at Food Matters use on a regular basis and making that available in a store environment where people can just pick them up and stock their kitchen up. So, if you’re either coming at this fresh or you’re some sort of gastronomic guru, sort of get a little bit of a distillation of the years of research we’ve been doing. Plus, that’s been; our research has always been based on tapping into experts who have been doing years more research than us. And then saying, here are top sort of 50 products that we have in our house or in our kitchen and sort of helping recommend.
And it’s a tricky line to walk because we’ve been so heavily education-based, now that we have products it’s like, hang on, people are going to think we’re biased. But I’m just going to hold a pure intention and say, look, these are the products that we use. If you’re gonna have these products, then these are the ones we recommend.
It’s sort of like, you know, you’re welcome to buy it and you’re entirely welcome to go into a corner store and buy something different. I don’t really care. It’s more just about putting that out there, so we’re gonna get more of that out there.
And we’re working on a transformational program, like a 28-day challenge. Like Food Matters challenge or like a mind-body or a whole body challenge. We take people for 28 days and hold their hair through, like, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, exercise, movement, meditation, visualization, mind-body work, and sort of put together a 28-day program and help take people through a process and set them up for some healthy habits for life, because it’s a big challenge that people have and it’s something we want to have a deeper impact with the people that we get to reach. So, that’s on the pipeline for now.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Busy boy.
Guy Lawrence: That was fantastic, James. And, look, for anyone listening to this, where would be the best place for them to go to start if they’re not familiar with Food Matters, Hungry for Change, FMTV. Like, on the web?
James Colquhoun: Sure. I think FoodMatters.tv. That’s the hub; that’s the home. Go there. You know, jump on our newsletter list. Check out all the articles and the recipes that we have on the page.
But probably before that I would recommend watching the films. I think the films have this ability to just crack you open. And we all know when we watch a great documentary about a topic we knew nothing about, be it genetically modified organisms or even something completely unrelated, it just completely opens you up. You learn so much in such a short period of time.
So, I actually think if you’re starting here, if you’ve watched some great documentaries, go and watch five or 10 or 15 documentaries. It’s like doing a condensed nutrition and life degree, almost, because you’re getting curated knowledge from great filmmakers. So I’d suggest jumping on FMTV, which is FMTV.com. We have a 10-day trial there as well, a free trial, so you can register as a user and get 10 days free. And you can cancel within those 10 days. So, go in for 10 days to a movie marathon. Watch one a day for 10 days. And then you can absolutely cancel and it doesn’t cost you anything. Or stay in. It’s like $7.95 a month or $79 a year. So, really quite affordable.
And, you know, I guarantee that if you watch 10 or 20 films in there, I will guarantee you’ll have a shift in your perspective on life. And some of the big ones in there right now, I just jotted a few down here, are: E-motion, The Connection, Super Juice Me. Carb-Loaded is a great one about the whole paleo carb question. It’s a fantastic film. Perfect human diet is another one I think your viewers would really enjoy. There’s some great docs in there. Some of the life purpose ones, check on them, like The Shift or even The Connection documentary, the power of the mind-body, watch them and you will not be the same again, I guarantee it. You will be a different person. And that’s an exciting prospect. I mean, nothing’s more powerful than that. I love them.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, well, mate, that’s brilliant. We’ll link to all the show notes anyway, so anyone that comes in can read the transcript, they’ll be able to click through and check everything out. And may their journey begin there if it hasn’t already, which is fantastic.
So, James, we really appreciate you coming on the show today. That was mindblowing. That was awesome. And, yeah, I have no doubt everyone who listens to this is gonna get very inspired very quickly.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. Yeah. There were some huge nuggets of inspiration in there as well. Take-home things. I just love that you can dial in for an hour, listen to a podcast wherever you are, and just empower yourself with this knowledge. Just do it. Start somewhere.
James Colquhoun: Keep up the great work, guy. Great chatting, Guy. Awesome, Stu.
Guy Lawrence: Thanks, James. Speak soon. Bye-bye mate.
Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on youriPhone HERE.
This week we have the fantastic paleo and primal expert Mark Sisson. He is a best selling author and runs the hugely successful blog ‘Mark’s Daily Apple’.
His experience and knowledge is exceptional, as he shares with us (in the above short video) how he defines what it takes to live a happy, healthy and active life whilst getting the most out of each day.
In the full interview below we dig deep into the world of Mark Sisson; from endurance athlete to the primal lifestyle, his exercise routines, his simple philosophies he applies to make the most out of each day and much more. And most of all how you can apply them into your life.
If you are loving the podcast’s or/& they are inspiring your health journey, we’d love to hear from you! Simply drop us an email or leave a review on our iTunes :)
Full Interview with paleo expert Mark Sisson
In this episode we talk about:
Mark’s journey from an elite carb-loading athlete to living the paleo way
What exactly the primal blueprint is
How to define what it takes to achieve amazing health
Why exercise for weight loss is not a great weight loss strategy
What a typical week of exercise looks like for Mark Sisson
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence from 180 Nutrition, and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. Our fantastic guest today is paleo and primal legend Mark Sisson, a former marathon runner and triathlete in his early days, came on to make his mission to empower 10 million people in the primal lifestyle, pretty much worldwide.
He started his blog in 2006 and he’s now going on, I think, reaching over 150,000 people come to his website a day. Yes.
And he’s also the author of a very best-selling book, The Primal Blueprint.
Now, I’ve been following Mark for awhile, many years, including on my own health journey, and it was fantastic get him on the podcast today. He’s an all-around top guy, very humble, very down-to-earth, and a lot of fun, too. And it was just great to be able to pick his brain on so much. For, you know, I think 45 minutes for the show.
It’s all well and good to have knowledge, but, you know, experience is priceless, I think, and Mark’s certainly got a lot of that. You know, as he said on the show, he’s 61 years old, you know, he looks half his age, he’ll put most people half his age to shame, you know. Just in fantastic condition and a fantastic representative of what good healthy living is. But also not taking it all too seriously, to a degree, and having fun along the way.
Anyway, this was a stellar podcast and I have no doubt you will get a lot out of it today. As always, you know, if you’re enjoying our shows on iTunes, please leave us a review. Hit the five stars. Subscribe. They all add up and they all make a difference in helping us get the word out there with these podcasts that we do, because we know we’re reaching a lot of your guys now.
Also, we are on social media: Facebook, Instagram. Get involved. It’s all under 180Nutrition. And, of course, come back to our website. If you’ve got no idea where to start, these podcasts are a great place, but also we’ve got a free ebook we give away and that’s a great place to start, too. And that’s on 180Nutrition.com.au.
And, yeah, enjoy the show. If you’re enjoying it, also drop us an email. It’s great to hear from you. And we get a lot of emails coming in every week now, and keep them coming because we love to hear from you.
Anyway, enough of me rambling. Let’s get on to the show and over to Mark Sisson. Enjoy.
OK, hi, I’m Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke, as always. Hey, Stu.
Stuart Cooke: Hello, mate.
Guy Lawrence: And our fantastic guest today is Mark Sisson. Mark, welcome to the show. Thanks for coming on.
Mark Sisson: Thanks for having me! It’s great to be here.
Guy Lawrence: It’s great. Over here in Australia at the moment there’s a bit of a buzz going on because you’re coming over next month. Is this the first time you’ve been to Australia, or have you been here before?
Mark Sisson: No, I’ve been there. I’ve been to Sydney a couple of times. I’ve been to Perth twice. So, I feel like I’ve been on both ends of the continent. Now I need to do something in the center at some point.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, it’s excellent. And Manly, it’s a beautiful place, and I’m sure we will talk a bit more about that through the show as well. But where I was interested to kick off, Mark, is that you’ve affected so many people’s lives through their own health journey over the years, including mine as well, and myself and Stu were chatting and we are intrigued to hear a little bit more about your journey. You know, from back to your endurance athlete days to the transition to primal and everything. How did it all sort of happen and come about?
Mark Sisson: Well, it was a long process. And it was an evolution, for sure. I started out as an endurance athlete and was a fairly decent marathon runner in the ’70s and then became a triathlete in the early part of the ’80s, doing Ironman events and such.
And I wanted to do all the right things. I researched heavily into what it would take to be as fast as I could get, and to be as healthy as I could stay, and how best to fuel my body, and, you know, the conventional wisdom of the day was: train hard and long and eat lots of carbohydrates. Cross your fingers and hope that you get faster and win some races.
And I did get faster and I did win some races, but my health suffered tremendously, and over the years; I had to retire quite early from competition because of injuries because of inflammation and –itises and some other; some lingering sinus infections and a whole host of maladies. And I thought, “This isn’t right. I’m trying to be healthy and I’m trying to do the right things. I work hard. I’m following all the best advice. Why am I not healthy?”
And I just sort of dedicated the rest of my life to looking at ways that I could be as strong, fit, lean, happy, healthy as possible with the least amount of pain, suffering, sacrifice, discipline, calorie counting, and portion control.
And that really led me to discovering that fats were not the enemy. I increased the amount of fat in my diet. I discovered that I could get fit on much less training if I just trained smarter and not harder. I discovered eventually that if I gave up grains, my inflammation went away. And so the osteoarthritis that had pretty much taken me out of the elite marathon division; that went away.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, I had in my gut that had really run my life for almost forty years, that went away. And it was really quite a revelation that, wow, by just changing a few things in the diet and by altering how much exercise I did and maybe getting a little bit more sun exposure to make some more vitamin D, I didn’t get sick as often, and all these things started to come into place, and it really created the template for what I now call the Primal Blueprint, which is my strategy for living an awesome life.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fantastic. Stu?
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, before we get into the Primal Blueprint, I’m interesting in asking how does Mark Sisson define good health? Because I think we’re all in different stages on our health journey. And some people have just succumbed to the idea, “Well, I’m getting older, I’m not gonna be as fit and as strong, I’m gonna get more sick.” What’s good health mean to you?
Mark Sisson: Well, I think out of the blocks, the most important part of life is to be content, to be fulfilled, to be happy, to wake up every morning with a sense of purpose and excitement for what the day’s going to bring.
And in order to get to that point, I think you have to be in a position where you’re not in chronic pain, where you have enough energy that gets you through the day while you’re not moody or depressed. So all of the sort of things that comprise what I would call health in general go far beyond not being sick. They actually would comprise, again, like: How do I live an awesome life? How can I take what I have, whether it’s given to me by my familial genes or whether I’ve brought it on myself through inappropriate lifestyle choices over the past few decades, how can I today extract the most possible out of my life that gives me peace and contentment and enjoyment and fulfillment.
And, you know, it always comes back to: It starts with taking care of what you eat. How you eat is sort of how it manifests in your body composition. So, if you’re overweight you’re not gonna enjoy life as much as if you’ve arrived in an ideal body composition. If you’re in pain from inflammation and you can correct that through how you eat, then you won’t spend much of your waking day, you know, lost in that tunnel vision that has you focused on the pain and not all the wonderful things in life that are happening around you. Does that make sense?
Stuart Cooke: That makes perfect sense. Absolutely. I think that everybody is entitled to experience good health, and we’ve got so many mixed messages at the moment and we’re confused about so many areas, whether it be food or lifestyle choices, that I think we just…
Mark Sisson: Yeah. People want to do the right thing. They’re just confused and frustrated because over the years what they’ve been told was the right thing, in many cases by their governmental agencies or by their physicians’ boards or whatever, you know, haven’t necessarily reflected the truth.
And I’ve sort of made it my mission to identify some of these choices that people can make that are more likely to create a positive outcome if they engage in these activities. So, it may be something as simple as: “Well, I was told my whole life to avoid fat and to base my diet on complex carbohydrates.” Well, if that’s working for you, there’s a good reason, because now there’s a lot of research that suggests fat is not the enemy, that healthy fats are actually beneficial and good, and that you might be better-served by cutting out some of the sources or carbohydrate in your diet, because maybe that’s what’s causing you to gain weight or to become inflammation or to have; or to become inflamed, or to have pain throughout your body or skin issues or whatever.
And as we know, there’s; I sort of represent, I guess, the epitome of a healthy 61-year-old guy. You know, I’ve got my little issues that I’m always trying to deal with. Everybody’s issue is like really important to them, right?
Stuart Cooke: Exactly right.
Mark Sisson: So, yeah. So, we’ve all got our little Achilles issues, you know.
Stuart Cooke: I love that. And I’m always of the opinion that if you want something to change then, you have to change something. Otherwise, you’re probably going to experience the same result moving forward.
Mark Sisson: And that’s the beauty of what we do in the paleo and primal movement is we overlay a template which suggests that there are some obvious changes that you can make to your lifestyle and to your diet. But at some point, it’s incumbent upon you to learn enough about your own particular set of circumstances that you can start to experiment with, and we call it “tinkering at the margin.”
Am I somebody who can handle maybe a little bit more carbohydrate than the other person? Am I somebody who can’t exercise too much or I’ll tear up my muscle tissue? I am somebody who needs nine hours of sleep instead of seven and a half. And the are all sort of the; these are the fine-tuning points that I think are really critical for people to, when you’re being mindful about your life and mindful about your health, then they start to pay attention: “What happens if I stay up too late and don’t get enough sleep?” “What happens if I overeat?” “What happens if I exercise too hard or I’m training for a marathon and I overdid it?”
And just being aware is like key point number one. And then, like you see, then, from there, you can make the changes in order to derive the change that you’re thinking.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, absolutely. And we call that, or we refer to that as the “sweet spot.” Everybody’s got to find their sweet spot; find out what works for them. And, yeah, and turn the dial. If it doesn’t quite work, then experiment with the N equals 1, see what works for you, keep going, keep going. And when you find your sweet spot, then you’ve kind of got a blueprint for the rest of your life. Or at least for then.
Mark Sisson: And that’s another part of this that I think is really so awesome is that so many people who encounter a paleo friend who’s had some results or somebody who’s gone primal and has lost weight or gotten off the meds and they start to see what is possible, they quickly realize that this is a sustainable lifestyle. That this isn’t just something you do for 30 days because you have to grind it out and you have to sacrifice and struggle to get it done. This is so easy when you incorporate some of these simple changes in your life. You get pretty quickly: Wow! I can do this for the rest of my life.
And that’s so freeing and so empowering to have that sense.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right. Absolutely. Working towards long-lasting health as opposed to a 30-day quick fix diet which is, again, gonna yo-yo you up and down on your health and weight.
Guy Lawrence: And like you said, as well, I think it all comes back down to initial awareness, because so many people are unconsciously doing the wrong things and they’re not even aware that it’s affecting them so greatly.
And just even being able to put that on their map. You know, we spoke to a couple of friends yesterday, Mark, and said you were coming on the show today and they were trying to understand, I guess, if you were to do an elevator pitch to what the primal philosophies were, because they said, “Well, what does it mean to be primal?”
How would you sum that up to anyone listening to this?
Mark Sisson: You know, I sum it up differently every time, because it always, depending on the context, what I do with the Primal Blueprint is I allow people to affect their own health by decisions they make in their lives.
And by that I mean, at a deeper level, we each have this genetic recipe within us; this DNA recipe that wants us to be strong and lean and fit and happy and healthy. We were born with this recipe that builds that type of a body.
But a recipe, these genes, depend on inputs, from food, from exercise, from sleep, from all these things that turn the genes on or off. You want to turn on the genes that build muscle or do you want to turn on the genes that store fat? It’s all within your power. You can choose the inputs that flip those switches.
So, the Primal Blueprint is really about uncovering these hidden genetic switches that we all have in a way that manifests the body and the feeling and the presence that we all want to have in life; that we all sort of not just dreamed of but sort of subconsciously know is our birthright. And so the Primal Blueprint really is about it’s an empowering lifestyle that allows you to access the best possible health with the least amount of sacrifice and discipline.
Guy Lawrence: That’s a good point as well. The least amount of sacrifice.
Stuart Cooke: Who would not want that? Absolutely.
Mark Sisson: That must have been a long elevator ride, right? That was probably 40 floors.
Stuart Cooke: You’re on the top floor right now.
So, we’re very excited, then, that you’re bringing those philosophies and we’ve got a heap of other speakers as well coming over to the Primal Symposium very shortly in Manly. For everyone out there that isn’t too sure about what this is all about, what can we expect over the course of the weekend?
Mark Sisson: Yeah, so, the Thr1ve.me event is, it’s about three days of fun, and three days of getting back to understanding what enjoying life is really about, from all aspects. So, we are gonna talk about how to dial in the diet. And everyone who shows up, I suspect will have some experience, or not, with paleo eating or with the Primal Blueprint or that way, or low-carb.
We’re gonna tweak it. We’re gonna help you dial it in. We’re gonna talk about some of the strategies that you can use in your own experiment. We’re going to have some of the best speakers in the world, and presenters, with regard to body movement. So, we’ve got people who are gonna show you how to do Olympic lifts, if that’s something you want to do, in soft of a CrossFit genre.
On the other hand, we have people who are experts in body weight exercises. So, if all you ever want to do is go out in your back yard and do squats and lunges and dips and do it in a way that’s going to generate 80 percent of all that’s possible for you physically, we’ll have people there doing that.
We have the world’s preeminent expert on play, Darryl Edwards. Darryl’s been at eight of my events.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, we know Darryl.
Mark Sisson: Yeah. And Darryl is; he’s crazy in the funnest way possible. He basically embodies what it means to go through life with a sense of play in everything you do. And it doesn’t just mean, you know, dancing around and jumping around and acting crazy or playing games. It’s how to get that playful mindset in your work experience. Or, you know, family setting, where maybe there’s a little bit more play that would be required. Or, not required but be very helpful in bringing everybody together.
We have cooking demonstrations. So, people who are really interested in how to prepare the best possible paleo or primal meals will learn how to cook. It’s really all aspects of a primal lifestyle that we’re going to cover so that when you leave, at the end of the weekend, you’ll go: “Wow. No I really; I’m excited about what I can do with my own life to get to the next level.” Whatever that is. You may be just starting. You could get to the next level. You may already be well advanced in your paleo and primal living. But there’s always the next rung. There’s always something that’s the next level of excitement and anticipation, and that’s really what I want for everybody who attends.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, Absolutely. It’s going to be fantastic. I mean, we will be there; we’re looking forward to it.
Stuart Cooke: Oh, I can’t wait to get there after that description. I’m going now. Fantastic.
Guy Lawrence: So, like, with Josh from Thr1ve, he’s doing awesome things over there, especially creating awareness as well through his cafeterias and the food and everything he presents. And how did you guys connect… This is a two-fold question: How did you guys connect, and, secondly, are you seeing the same things in America with that change as well?
Mark Sisson: Well, how we connected was, he came to one of my events. So, I had an event in Tulum, Mexico a year and half ago, and it was very much like the Thr1ve event will be in Manly. He brought some of his company’s employees; it was to not just understand a little bit more about this primal lifestyle but it was probably a team-building exercise as well.
They had the best time. They had such a good time he came to me and said: How can I; I want to do something like this in Manly.” So, he had such a good time at our event he said I want to do this in Australia.
So, that’s how we met.
Now, when you ask, is there something like this in the U.S., what do you mean?
Guy Lawrence: In terms of awareness and accessibility to foods with the cafes and the change coming.
Mark Sisson: Yeah, so, I’m finding that Australia is ahead of the curve on a per capita basis, by far, than the U.S. I mean, I would say that Australia on a per capita basis probably has more awareness of the paleo ancestral lifestyle than any other country that I’ve encountered.
That’s very excited. So, you have a number of restaurants that are opening that are offering up this type of fare that isn’t just food that fits the primal or paleo parameters, but it tastes great, so anybody can eat there. You know? That’s the irony here is that you walk into these restaurants and go… I don’t want to walk into a restaurant just because it’s a health food place, you know. I want good food. I mean, I make a point of saying every bite of food I put in my mouth, I want to enjoy.
So, if you tell me it’s healthy but it doesn’t taste very good, I don’t want it. I’ve got no reason to eat it. This is about extracting all of the joy out of life that you can, and part of that for me means I want to enjoy every bite of food that I eat. And when I’ve had enough, I want to be willing to push it away and say, “You know what? That was awesome. I don’t need another bite. I don’t need to fill myself up. There will be more food around the corner.”
That’s sort of what some of your restaurants in Australia are starting to do. We’re starting to do it in the U.S. as well. And I’m actually launching a restaurant franchise concept in about six months in the U.S. as well.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Mark Sisson: Yeah. Having said that, you know, we’re looking to expand the paleo world in the U.S. and it’s; we’re doing a good job but I do think we need to do a better job. I think, you know, we’ve got such great science behind what we’re doing. And the people who are in are all in.
So, we’ve got a culture thing where, you know, giving up the cinnamon buns and giving up the pizza, all that stuff, is kind of a tough ask for a lot of people.
Guy Lawrence: That’s fantastic. We are blessed here, especially in Sydney, you know. I can think of a couple of handfuls of places constantly where I can go and eat paleo very accessible.
Stuart Cooke: Just thinking out loud as well, you mentioned that your restaurant chain, I was thinking for your logo it could be a great big curvature kind of M, you know, golden kind of shape. I could work.
Guy Lawrence: For “Mark,” yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Change the color.
Mark Sisson: It could work.
I don’t have the legal budget to do that.
Stuart Cooke: OK. Just a thought.
I’d love to just get a little bit more specific now around health. I’ve got a few questions that I know everybody would be keen to hear your answer from.
If I wanted to make some simple changes right now, like today, that could have dramatic effect on my health, coming from, let’s say I’m following a standard Australian or American diet, what do you think I could do right now?
Mark Sisson: Well, the first thing you can do, and I think everybody knows this intuitively, is get rid of the sugar in your diet. So, that means getting rid of all of the sugary drinks. You know: the sodas, the soft drinks, the sweetened teas, even the juices, because a lot of those contain a tremendous amount of sugar. Certainly the desserts: the pies, the cakes, the cookies, biscuits, all of the really; it’s really obvious stuff to a lot of people. They know what to omit.
So, that’s the first thing. And a lot can be accomplished with that. I mean, you can really be well on your way to whatever weight loss program that you’re embarking on, regardless of whether it’s paleo or primal or vegetarian or vegan. If you got rid of the sugary stuff, you’d be way ahead of the game.
The next thing would be to get rid of the industrial seed oils. So, you get rid of processed foods that contain soybean oil, corn oil, canola. You know, things like that that are very; they are very highly inflammatory so a lot of people are probably carrying around a lot of extra weight in the form of water that they’ve retained because their entire body is inflamed as a result of their diet.
That’s point number two. And then following that I’d get rid of the processed carbohydrates. So, a lot of the grain-based flours, particularly gluten. I mean, I just think; I’m of the opinion that gluten benefits no one. There are some people who can maybe get away with a little wheat once in awhile. But it doesn’t mean it’s good for them. It just means it’s not killing them immediately.
And then there are a lot of people on the spectrum who are egregiously harmed by wheat and by other forms of grain. And I was one.
And you mentioned earlier, people are sometimes insensitive to what it is that’s causing problems with them, and they don’t get that the sodas that they’re drinking are causing inflammation, or actually helping to lead them into a Type 2 diabetic situation.
I was of the opinion for the longest time that whole grains were healthy, and I, even as I got into my research, started evolving my own diet, I kept grains in for a long time. I was doing research on how phytate bind with minerals and prevent the intake of minerals and how lectins have problems with the lining of the gut and how gluten was bad for people with celiac.
But, you know, I did all this research and yet I was continuing to eat grains in my diet. And my wife one day said, why don’t you just do a 30-day experiment and give up the grains? And that’s what changed my life. That’s really; that’s when the arthritis went away, that’s when the irritable bowel syndrome disappeared, that’s when the upper respiratory tract infections went away. That’s when so many of these minor issues that I thought; and, Stuart, you mentioned earlier that, you know, well, we assume that because we’re getting older, these must be normal and natural. Well, I assumed that, you know, I was already in my mid- to late-40s. I said, “Well, that’s probably a normal part of getting old.” And I assume that I was going to have to live with that. And all that stuff kind of disappeared when I gave up the grains. And I thought, wow, if I’m defending my right to eat grains so aggressively, in the face of what I know, imagine how many people out there are assuming that grains are benign and harmless and aren’t affecting them who might be tremendously benefitted by giving up grains.
So, sort of, what I say to everybody is, look, if that’s still a part of your diet and you still have some issues, why would you not want to do a 30-day experiment? Just cut out the grains for 30 days, there’s plenty of other foods you can eat. I mean, I don’t lack for choices on my list of foods to eat. But cut out the grains and notice what happens. Notice if your arthritis clears up or your pains go away or you lose some weight more effortlessly. Or your skin clears up.
There are a lot of things that are potentially being affected by this high-grain diet that so many people have.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. Sugar. Processed vegetable oils. And, again, those processed carbohydrates as well.
Like you said, try it. See how you feel after 30 days. Do a self-experiment.
Mark Sisson: Yeah. People say, “Well, what can I eat?” And I go, well, you can eat beef, pork, lamb, chicken. You know: duck, goose, turkey. You can eat ostrich. You can eat croc. You can eat… And then you can eat all the vegetables, all the fruit, nuts, lots of healthy fats, butter. You know: bacon. It’s a pretty inviting way to eat food.
Stuart Cooke: You could always try and eat real food.
The thing I like about that is that when you do start to eliminate a lot of the processed foods, you almost reconnect yourself to the kitchen and to the ritual of cooking, and I think that is something that we are slowly losing through generations as we are kind of subject to so many of these convenience foods.
Mark Sisson: Yeah. I mean, it’s; we have a section on my website, on Mark’s Daily Apple, on every Saturday is a recipe. I have published three of my own cookbooks and three other cookbooks by other authors because these are so; these cookbooks are so popular. And figuring out how we can find ways to prepare real food in ways that are tasty and exciting, you know, it’s fun. I mean, it really is. It actually reconnects people with the kitchen.
Guy Lawrence: You know, you hear more and more of these stories as well, because you triggered them up when you were still training and reluctant to get off the grains. We had Sami Inkinen, the triathlete who rowed from San Fran to Hawaii, on our podcast last week.
Mark Sisson: Yeah, rowed meaning r-o-w-e-d. Not r-o-d-e, but yeah.
Guy: Yeah, that’s right. Sorry, it’s my Welsh accent, eh?
But, you know, he was saying he was close to becoming a Type 2 diabetic and he thought he was in the prime of his life. And the moment he cut out the grains and the sugars and increased his fats and trained his body that way, amazing.
Mark Sisson: Oh, and Sami’s; he’s just an incredible all-around guy. I’ve known him for a bunch of years. We’ve become good friends. And I watched him train for this event that he did with his wife, rowing from San Francisco to Hawaii.
But in the process he thought, oh, I haven’t done a triathlon for awhile, I’ll jump in the Wildflower Triathlon, which is a half Ironman distance, just as part of my training. And he won it outright. And he won it on a low-carb, high-fat, almost ketogenic training strategy.
And he’s a great example of somebody who’s taken the information, because he comes from a sort of a techie background as well, he’s very into the details and very into the minutia. And so he’s embraced this way of living and now, not just for himself and his wife, but for other people. He’s got basically a foundation that’s trying to help fight Type 2 diabetes.
And we’re all trying to kind of just allow the rest of the world to see what; how easy this is and let them in on our secret. Because it really is. It feels sometimes like it is a secret, like: “How come you guys don’t know this? We’re having so much fun here! We’re enjoying life so much doing this, and all you miserable guys out there just slogging along.” And I feel bad. I’m very empathetic. But that’s kind of how I feel sometimes. Like, we have this great secret. How come more people aren’t receptive?
Guy Lawrence: That’s so true. Yeah. Because when we question ourselves, “Are we in this bubble? Do not people…”
Stuart Cooke: We liken it; we’ve raised this before, but we liken it to the film The Matrix where Neo takes this pill and all of a sudden he’s in this completely different world and he realizes that everybody else are cooped up in this little bubble, and that’s not the real world at all. It’s insane.
But, yeah, spreading the word, it’s so important. And especially loving what Sami had done from his podcast and the amount of fat that he was consuming and being so amazingly healthy and coming out of that row with such a low level of inflammation as well, it really does kind of give an upper cut to this low-fat dogma that we’ve been plagued with for so many years.
Guy Lawrence: Well, while we’re on that kind of topic, then, which kind of leads into the next question, Stu, I’m gonna pinch it. But regarding exercise for weight loss. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that, Mark, from your point of view. Because obviously it’s one…
Mark Sisson: Sure. So, the major sort of overriding principle, if there is one, of the Primal Blueprint, is that humans are born to be really good at burning fat. We evolved in two and half million years of human evolution to be able to go long periods of time without eating, because that was just sort of what the environment offered up to us was sometimes nothing. So, this ability to store fat effectively, and then to be able to access and burn it as fuel effective, when there was no other food around.
This is a skill that we all have in our DNA. It’s hard-wired in our DNA. We are born with this ability to be good at burning fat. But very quickly in our lives, we sort of override that with access to cheap carbohydrates at every single meal. So, the body goes, “Well, I don’t need to store fat or I don’t need to burn fat if I’ve got this carbohydrate; this ongoing carbohydrate blood sugar drip coming in from every couple of hours all day long from food.”
So, the body starts to take the excess calories, store those as fat, finds out that it never really has to burn the fat because there’s always gonna be new sources of carbohydrate coming in. Glucose is toxic in large quantities, so the body is trying to get rid of the glucose by burning it. And if it can’t burn it, then it will store it as fat. Fat is a site where a lot of glucose winds up in a lot of people.
So, where was I going with that? What was the question again?
Guy Lawrence: Weight loss and exercise.
Stuart Cooke: Exercise purely for weight loss.
Mark Sisson: Yeah. So, the basic principle then, to be able to burn stored body fat, leads to the first paradigm, which is that you don’t even need to exercise to burn off your stored body fat. Because if you are able to be good at accessing this stored body fat, then your body’s gonna take whatever calories it needs to get from 9 o’clock in the morning until 1 o’clock in the afternoon, it’ll take it from your belly or your thighs or your hips. And it doesn’t require that it come from a plate of food.
And that’s a beautiful skill to develop: this ability to be able to burn off stored body fat 24 hours a day.
Now, if you get into that space and then you’ll trend toward your ideal body composition. You’ll always trend toward burning off the extra unused, unwanted body fat and coming down to that body that you need.
So, that, almost in and of itself, obviates the need to have to go out and burn 800 calories on the treadmill every single day. And what it means is that exercise is actually not a very good way to lose weight. It’s actually a terrible way to lose weight, when you think about it, because a lot of times when people are doing a lot of work on the treadmill and they’re burning; or, on the road, or riding a bike, or on the elliptical, or whatever it is they’re doing, and they’re counting calories, if they haven’t become good at burning fat yet, all they’re doing is burning sugar. They’re burning stored glycogen in their muscles.
Now, what happens as a result of that is they get home from the workout and the brain goes, “Wait. We just ran out of glycogen. The first thing we have to do is refill all of glycogen storage. Especially if this fool’s gonna try it again tomorrow.”
So, the body gets into this terrible spiral where you work hard, you sweat a lot, you burn a lot of calories, but your appetite goes up because you haven’t become good at burning fat. And so you overeat. You tend to slightly overcompensate and for a lot of people that means that, you know, you’re four or five years into an exercise program and you still have the same 25 pounds to lose.
It’s very depressing to watch people, and it’s very common, very depressing, to watch people at the gym every day. And you know they’re working hard and they’re trying to do the work. But they haven’t got; they haven’t handled the first order of business, which is to convert your fuel partitioning away from being sugar-dependent into becoming what we call a “fat-burning beast.” Become good at burning fat, 24 hours a day.
So, you’re burning fat. So, if you skip a meal, no problem, nothing happens to your blood sugar, your energy levels stay even, your body just derives that energy from the fat stored in your body. And it doesn’t mean you get hungry. All these wonderful things start to happen as you become good at burning fat. You become less dependent on blood sugar to run the brain. Because when you become fat-adapted, you become keto-adapted, and the brain runs really well on ketones. And ketones are a natural byproduct of burning fat.
So, all of these wonderful things happen: the appetite self-regulates. Now you don’t get ravenous and overeat at a meal because you were so hungry you didn’t know when to stop. Now your appetite says, “You know what? This is great. This is just enough food. I’ll push the plate away. I’m done. I’ll save it for later.”
And that’s; so, it all come back to this sort of primary skill in the Primal Blueprint which is being good at burning fat.
Guy Lawrence: Do you know what? I adopted that way of life, Mark, about nine years ago and prior to that I wasn’t even aware of how much the food was affecting my mood, my day, the way, when I exercised, my recovery. Everything. And it transformed my life. And people really need to get that, you know. It’s huge.
And we raise the question as well, not to deter anyone from exercise, because I exercise every day; I love it. But it makes me feel great and I do it for many other reasons. But weight loss is not; doesn’t enter my brain at all.
Mark Sisson: Yeah, so, good point. So, you know, I have an exercise plan, and I say you should find ways to move around a lot at a low level of activity. But the movement is more for your muscles, your pliability of the muscles, for your insulin sensitivity, which is coming as a result of moving the muscles. And you don’t need to count calories. Because, again, we’re not looking at exercise as a means of sweating off fat or burning away fat. We’re looking at exercise as a way of maintaining strength and flexibility and conditioning and so if you could find ways to move around, walking becomes one of the best exercises you can do. If you can get to the gym twice a week and do a high-intensity, full-body routine where you are working your arms and upper back and core and your legs. Twice a week is all you need, because once you’ve become good at accessing stored body fat and you realize you don’t need to burn off calories, then you realize also that you don’t need to do that much work to stay strong and flexible and well-balanced and all of the things that we’re looking for.
So, I’m a big fan of exercise and I do love to exercise, still, but I also try to find ways to play. So, for me, like, my biggest exercise day is Sundays when I play Ultimate Frisbee with my buddies; my mates down the road. We; there’s two hours of sprinting. And it’s the hardest workout I do all week. But at no point during the game do I look at my watch and go, “Oh, my God, when’s it gonna be over?” If I ever look at my watch it’s like, “Oh, crap, we only have 20 minutes left.” You know? It’s so much fun.
That’s how I see exercise and play coming together in a way that, yeah.
Guy Lawrence: What would your weekly exercise routine look like on a typical week if you’re at home?
Mark Sisson: So, Sundays, two hours of Ultimate. Mondays I might do an easy stationary bike ride, just mostly because the sprinting on the Ultimate is tough on my 61-year-old joints. So I’ll do maybe an easy bike ride then.
Tuesdays I might do a full-body routine. So, it’s gonna be pushups, pull-ups, dips, squats, lunges, things like that. So, I might do that Tuesday and Friday or Tuesday and Saturday.
Wednesday I might go for a paddle. I do a stand-up paddle for an hour and a half. And that’s a nice, fun aerobic activity that builds tremendous core and, same thing, the whole time I’m doing it, I’m usually with a friend or two, and we’re chatting away and we’re aiming for a point three or four miles out, but we’re still having fun and chasing dolphins and doing all this stuff and never thinking, “When’s it gonna be over?” You just think, “Wow! This is so cool. We’re out in the ocean, it’s the middle of the day, we’re getting vitamin D, we’re hanging out with the dolphins or the whales, it’s spectacular. And it’s, oh, by the way, it’s a killer workout.
It just leaves; I’ve got abs at my age that I wished I’d had when I was in my teens, because the paddling is such a good core exercise.
Guy Lawrence: I love being in the ocean as well. We live by the ocean ourselves here in Sydney and it’s just magical.
Mark Sisson: Yeah. Yeah.
And then I might do a hike one day. I might get on the bike and do intervals. Or, I have… Do you know what a VersaClimber is?
Stuart Cooke: No.
Mark Sisson: A VersaClimber is a rail with handles; it’s got handles, you know, feet and arm holds you can climb. So I might do an intense interval workout on that. I’ve got one in my garage. And I can be on that thing warmed up, do an amazing interval workout to where I am, as you would say, truly knackered, and then cool down and be off in 22 minutes, because it’s just so effective a piece of equipment.
So, you know, I don’t… The old days of going out for a five-hour bike ride and all that stuff and just struggling, those don’t appeal to me anymore. So, the most I’ll do is maybe an hour and a half paddle, or something like that, or an hour and a half hike. Otherwise, it’s short, it’s sweet, and sometimes intense.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fantastic. Awesome.
Stuart Cooke: Well, you’ve just made me feel very lazy. I’m going to have to do something.
So what about vices? Do you have any vices? You know, that you’ll sneak a piece of pie here and there?
Mark Sisson: Well, you know, I don’t completely shun desserts. My thing on desserts is: All I need is a bite or two to get a sense of what it is. So, the idea of having giant piece of cheesecake or, we were at a, my daughter had a birthday the other night, we were in a restaurant, and they brought out some baklava. And I had to have a bite of that, even though it contained sugar and a little bit of wheat. But, you know, one bite was all I needed and it was like, OK, this is spectacular. But the alternative to that would have been to spend just three more minutes devouring the entire thing and then being left with and achy gut, a racing heart, sweating, and I probably wouldn’t be able to sleep.
And so it’s really knowing what you can get away with. I mean, that’s sort of the; I hate to put it in those terms but some people can get away with a lot. There are some people who are allergic to peanuts, can’t get away with one tiny piece of peanut. So, you know, there’s… And with regard to the desserts, I just; I don’t like feeling of excess sugar in my system. I clean myself out so much that it just doesn’t feel good. And it’s certainly not worth the three minutes of gustatory pleasure sorting it out over the next five hours.
You know, I used to drink two glasses of wine a night for a long time. And I’m on record with the primal movement as saying, “You know, wine’s not bad.” Of the alcoholic choices, wine is probably the least offensive.
But recently I sort of gave up drinking two glasses of wine a night. I might have one glass a week now. Because I think it serves me well. I probably sleep better as a result of not doing that. So, I’ve given that up.
You know, otherwise, you know, no real “vices.” I mean, not to speak of.
Stuart Cooke: That’s great. And like you said, even with the wine, it’s pulling back to your sweet spot and turning the dial and just finding out what works for you.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, absolutely.
Stuart Cooke: Because we’re all so radically different.
Guy Lawrence: Do you find; how do you keep things primal when you’re traveling, Mark? Like, do you find that easy? Difficult?
Mark Sisson: Yeah, I do. I do find it easy. I think you do the best you can, for one. That’s all you can do. But my life doesn’t revolve around grass-fed beef and wild line-caught salmon. I’ll eat a nice steak in a restaurant if it’s been grain-fed. It is what it is. You know, I’m not; it still, in my world, better than a bowl of spaghetti with some kind of sugary; or a sauce made with canola oil or something like that.
So, it’s just a matter of degree. And it’s a matter of the context in which you find yourself.
So, there’s not a restaurant in the world that I can’t go into and find something delicious to eat, even if I have to ask the waiter to go back and have a few words with the chef.
But, you know, that’s… and when I travel, I don’t exercise that much if I can’t get near a gym, or if I don’t have a chance to exercise. Because I know, I have trust, that my body is not going to fall apart because I missed a workout. And the older I’ve gotten, the more I realize that, wow, I probably worked out way too much, even as recently as five years ago. And sometimes I go into the gym now and I might do 50 pushups, 10 pull-ups, 40 pushups, 10 pull-ups, 30 pushups, eight pull-ups, and go, “I’m done.” I don’t need to; I’m as pumped as I’m gonna get and anything more than this is just gonna be killing time and talking to other people in the gym.
The reality is it doesn’t take that much work, once you’ve achieved a level of fitness, it doesn’t take that much work to maintain it. And that’s really part of the beauty of the human body. The body doesn’t want to make that many changes.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, maintenance, isn’t it? I think, like, in terms of traveling, it’s just making the most of what you’ve got with the environment where you are and once you’re tuned into it, like you said, it becomes straight-forward.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. And especially where food is concerned, because we do live in this world now where we’ve got so many convenient choices when on the road, and I think just a little bit of understanding about the foods that serve us and the foods that don’t. But like you said, you can eat anywhere, and you generally get a good-quality protein and some veggies in most places.
Mark Sisson: You’re good to go! That’s all you need. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: That’s it.
Mark Sisson: You know, what I find about traveling, probably the one thing that concerns me the most when I travel is sleep. And that’s, you know, so when I come to Oz I’m gonna be, you know, very diligent about how I orchestrate my sleep cycles during the transition, starting with leaving the LAX airport at 10:30 at night, how I spend the next 16 hours.
But also when I get to the hotel. I’ll look at the quality of the curtains and how much I can black them out at night, or how much light comes in from behind the curtains. I’ll look at the noise outside the window and whether or not there are going to be garbage trucks at 4 a.m. underneath my window.
I will literally look at the air-conditioning system, not for how cold it makes a room, but the kind of noise that it makes as a gray noise. And if it’s; I’ve been known to do this. If it’s too much, I’ll put a towel over the vent and I’ll put shoes on it and I’ll temper the whole thing because I want to orchestrate my sleep to approximate, as much as I can, what I’m used to at home.
And so sometimes for me that becomes; the biggest challenge is to sleep.
Stuart Cooke: Well, that’s it. If sleep falls down then everything falls down. Any particular supplements that you would take with you to help sleep at all?
Mark Sisson: You know, I do take melatonin. I take melatonin to adjust to wherever I’m going to be. So, whenever I travel, whenever I arrive at a new country, particularly. In the U.S., three time zones is nothing. I adapt to that immediately. But, you know, six or eight or nine time zones, a lot of times what I’ll do is I will arrive, I’ll maybe go for a long walk or do some kind of a bike ride or some workout, just to get my blood pumping and to get adapted to the air or whatever. I’ll do whatever it takes to stay up until it’s bedtime in the new time zone. So, I won’t take a nap. The worst thing you can do when you travel across time zones is take a nap. Because the body thinks, “Oh, this must be nighttime.”
But as it’s time to, if I’ve stayed up; and it could be 8:30 or a quarter to 9. You know, just enough time to be able to start to adapt immediately to the new time zone, I’ll pop a melatonin. Probably 6 milligrams of melatonin the first night. And I’ll do that maybe an hour before the time I plan on hitting the pillow. And so the melatonin helps to reset the internal clock.
Again, having black-out curtains and having the room be the right configuration to be able to sleep helps.
And I find that sometimes by the next day, I’m adapted, adjusted to the new time zone.
Stuart Cooke: And with everything that you’ve got going on as well, I mean, surely you’d have a busy mind. You’ve got so much on your plate. How do you switch that off at nighttime?
Mark Sisson: When you find out, Stuart, you let me know. Find a good way to do that.
Stuart Cooke: I’ve asked everybody.
Mark Sisson: That’s another tough one. That’s a really rough one, because I do have a difficult time.
Now, most recently, for the last month and a half, I’m fortunate enough to have a pool and a Jacuzzi outside my living room. And a fire pit. So, my wife and I, we stop watching TV around 9:30, a quarter to 10, I keep my pool around 52 degrees; it’s very cold in Fahrenheit, and so I’ll go dip in the pool, spend as much time as I can in that cold, cold, cold water, and then get in the Jacuzzi and hang out for 15 minutes while the fire pit is casting a yellow-orange glow. And then we go right to bed.
And that’s been almost like a drug for me. It’s crazy how effective that is in turning off the noise, the monkey chatter, and being tired, but in a good way. Not beat-up tired but just feeling like when you hit the pillow: “Wow. That hormetic shock of the cold, cold, cold, being in there for a long time, and then bringing the body temperature up with the Jacuzzi.
And, you know, people say, well, I can’t afford that. Well, you can afford a cold shower. And there’s some ways you can play around with that if you want to do that. You can change the light bulbs in your reading lamps to get a yellow light.
But I found the combination of the cold therapy and the yellow light coming from a fire, from a fireplace, has such a calming effect on me that the monkey noise, the monkey chatter, has diminished substantially and I go to sleep just like that.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect. Yeah. I actually find the orange glasses as well that block out the blue like from any devices that we may have work in an unusually calming way as well, which is, again, just another tactic that works for me and you’ve just got to find that sweet spot. But sleep, absolutely. I love talking about sleep. I really do.
Mark Sisson: It’s like this thing that no one dares to talk about if they’re anyway involved in production, productivity, and athletics or whatever. It’s “Oh, I get by on four hours or four and a half or five hours.” Oh, man. I was like, I rejoice in the amount of sleep I get and I’m proud of it.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. I’m working on getting more every day. That’s for sure.
So, we’ve just got one question we always ask our guests and I’m sure you’ve been asked this a million times.
Guy Lawrence: Two questions.
Stuart Cooke: What have you eaten today?
Mark Sisson: So, today… I usually don’t eat until about 1 o’clock in the afternoon. So, I get up, I have a cup of coffee when I get up, so I have a big cup of rich dark coffee with a little dollop of heavy cream in it. And don’t tell anybody, but a teaspoon of sugar. Actual sugar.
Guy Lawrence: All right.
Mark Sisson: We won’t tell anybody. No, but, I mean, it’s really about the dose. It’s the only sugar I have all day and that’s when it is and it makes the coffee a very pleasant, pleasurable experience.
Today, for lunch, I had a giant salad. We call it a “big-ass salad” here in the U.S. That’s my term. So that was 10 or 15 different types of vegetables with a dressing based in olive oil, but also avocado, a whole avocado in the salad. And then tuna was my protein of choice.
I did have two bites of something before that. I had a; I’m involved in a bar manufacturing startup company called Exo. They’re making bars out of cricket protein powder. Have you heard of it?
Stuart Cooke: I have, yeah.
Mark Sisson: So, I’m on their board and I’m an investor in the company and they sent me their new flavor, which is I said they needed to be higher protein and higher fat. It is off-the-charts good. I can’t wait for this to be on the market. It’s a great tasting bar and it’s really exciting.
Stuart Cooke: Is it crunchy?
Mark Sisson: So, the thing about cricket protein powder is it’s been so ground up, finely ground up, you could not tell the difference between a jar of cricket protein powder and a jar of whey protein isolate. You can’t visually tell. The mouth feels no different. So, the only crunch in there are the nuts. So, it’s fantastic.
So, anyway, I had the salad. I’m meeting some friends in town tonight at a new franchise restaurant in town. I guarantee you I’ll have a steak and some grilled vegetables on the side. And that will be it. I might have a handful of berries this afternoon as a snack. And that’s pretty much an average day for me.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. And, mate, the last question we always ask everyone, and this could be non-nutritional related, anything. It’s: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Mark Sisson: Well, the best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is to invest in yourself. And for a lot of people, that means education, it means, in my case, where I’m going with this is: Your job is to take care of your health. That’s your number one job. Where you go to work for eight hours a day is a secondary job. That’s almost a part-time job. Your full-time job is taking care of your health. And the more you can learn, the more you can invest today, in yourself, whether it’s education; it could be investing in a business that you’re building, because that’s what I did. I invested back in my own business to grow the brand of primal.
And, for a lot of people, it can be simply investing in your health. Like, the more money I spend on good food to feed my body and nourish my body, the less chance there is that when I’m in my 60s or 70s or 80s I’ll be sick and then having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless hours of agony combatting something that I could have easily not gotten because I paid attention and I invested in myself at an early age.
Stuart Cooke: That’s good advice. Absolutely. Get stuck in. No one should be more invested than you, I think. Not your health care providers…
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely.
Mark Sisson: Yeah. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: We need to know what works for us.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic, mate. You know, for anyone who hasn’t heard of you, Mark, which I struggle to find, but if that’s the case where can they get more of Mark Sisson? Mark’s Daily Apple is the best place to?
Mark Sisson: Yeah, MarksDailyApple.com is the blog. And everything I’ve ever said I’ve said there. I’ll say it in different ways and different venues, but it’s really the place to start.
PrimalBlueprint.com is my commerce site where you can buy my books. You can also buy them on Amazon, of course. But my books and some of the supplements that we make that are very tuned into the primal lifestyle.
And, yeah, those two sites, Mark’s Daily Apple and Primal Blueprint, are the main go-tos.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. We’ll link to them under the show notes and everything. And, Mark, thanks for coming on the show. That was awesome. We really appreciate it.
Mark Sisson: It’s my pleasure. Great hanging out with you guys.
Stuart Cooke: Brilliant. Brilliant. And cannot wait to see you in a couple of weeks when you’re over here.
Mark Sisson: Yeah, likewise. That’ll be fun. It’s coming up very soon, too.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, it is.
Guy Lawrence: Very soon. Three weeks. It’ll be awesome.
Good on you, Mark. Thank you very much.
Imagine living the lifestyle of Jordan Belfort of the Wolf of Wall Street… it would be no surprise if you didn’t last to long! That’s how our special guest for the show this week, Tom Cronin once lived. He openly shares with us how this lifestyle led to depression, anxiety and ill health whilst being told he can’t be cured and would need anti-depressants. Tom searched for other means and found meditation, and he hasn’t looked back since.
Tom Cronin Full Interview
Discover why 24,000 people have empowered themselves with our free eBook:
Tom Cronin is the founder of the Stillness Project. He has been teaching meditation for many years now and has inspired thousands of people all over the world as a teacher, author and keynote speaker to unlock peoples stillness and calm with meditation.
He has been featured on national TV in Australia, The Sydney Morning Herald, Huffington Post and Vogue magazine to name a few.
In this episode we talk about:-
Yes, people out there live like Jordan Belfort did!
The one style of mediation that Tom now uses for effectiveness
What meditation is and where it originated
How to quieten a really busy mind
Why stress can be so damaging and how to overcome it
How to start a daily meditation practice when it feels all too hard
Enjoy the interview or got any questions for Tom or us? We’d love to hear them in the comments below… Guy
Hey, this Guy of 180 Nutrition and welcome to the Health Sessions. You know, we cover a lot of subjects on our podcast, obviously, regarding health and most of it revolves around nutrition and a little bit about exercise. But one thing we’ve been keen to delve into as well is, obviously, the power of the mind and stress and how that can affect the body as well.
And so we’re very excited to have Tom Cronin on the show today talking about meditation, something that I grapple with a lot and it doesn’t come easy to me. So, we are very excited to have Tom on.
Now, Tom has been teaching meditation for many years. He’s inspired literally thousands and thousands of people all over the world as a meditational teacher and author and a keynote speaker. And he’s all about unlocking people’s stillness and calmness with meditation. He’s a fantastic guy, too.
He’s featured on the national TV for Australia, Sydney Morning Herald, Huffington Post, and Vogue magazine as well, to name a few.
Tom has an amazing story, too. He was a bonds trader in his early 20s and earning a massive amount of money and he said he’d compared his life very similar to the Wolf of Wall Street. So, you can only imagine he wasn’t going to last too long living that lifestyle. And, yes, he burnt out and then turned to meditation and has been teaching that for over 10 years.
So, I’m sure you’re going to get a massive amount out of this today, just as much as myself and Stu did.
If you are listening to this through iTunes, please leave a review. It takes two minutes to do. We know we’re reaching a lot of people out there, and, yeah, any feedback, fantastic. And the iTunes reviews help us get found easier and help us continue to get this good word out there of all the work we do. And, of course, come over to our website, 180Nutrition.com.au. We’ve got heaps of free stuff on there, too, and massive more amount of resources to help you get fitter and healthier every day. So, anyway, let’s go over to Tom, and enjoy the show. Awesome. Let’s get into it, hey?
Yeah, let’s do it! Guy
So, I’m Guy Lawrence. I’m joined by Stuart Cooke, as always. Hey, Stewie.
And our awesome guest today is Mr. Tom Cronin. Tom, welcome.
Hey, everyone. Great to be here.
Fantastic. I’m very excited about this topic today. It absolutely fascinates me. But before we dig into the world of meditation, because I know Stewie’s keen on this one, too, can you share us your journey to what led you to being heavily involved in medication? Because it’s an awesome, inspiring story, I think.
Yeah. People seem to like this story. You know, the story started a long time ago, actually, when I was in finance. I started out as a broker when I was 19 years old and I just walked in off the street, basically, was looking for a job before I went to uni and didn’t really expect to be in finance at all.
I was gonna be a journalist, the Macquarie Uni, I had a few months to fill in before I went off to do my degree. And, you know, this was back in the late ’80s and the finance industry was booming. I was the old Gordon Gekko Wolf of Wall Street type. You know, you hear of Bonfire of the Vanities and Masters of the Universe and they were really expanding the bond market. And I took a job as a trainee.
It was crazy times, you know? I was on really big salaries really quickly. They gave us corporate expense accounts where we just basically were told, “Take clients out.” Which, our clients were the bankers. The traders. And our job was to basically entertain them and inspire them to do business with you. And our job was to XXclear their risk 0:03:41.000XX in the day and there was like a lot of turnover, you know, multiple millions and billions of dollars worth of bonds.
And I was young, you know, and we were just like young kids off the block doing crazy stuff. So, if anyone’s seen Wolf of Wall Street, the movie, it was literally like that. It was really, seriously like that. He started in 1987, the same year as me. He was 22. I was 19. We both started in 1987, and it was crazy times. We were doing crazy things.
And what happened with me successively over the years was I went further down that path of doing crazy stuff and getting way off track. And that let to symptoms.
Any time you start doing things that aren’t really aligned with natural law or aligned with harmony and peace, then you’re gonna get symptoms like the little red light on the dashboard. And I started getting insomnia and anxiety and then, you know, I kept doing the same thing over and over again. Eventually it really exacerbated into these full-blown panic attacks and depression.
And, again, I still didn’t stop. I was still doing the same thing. You know: doing some crazy stuff. I don’t want to go into too much detail. But, you know, let’s just say there was very little sleep, lots of late nights, and really high-energy work. And then that manifested further because, you know, the symptoms will just exacerbate if you don’t change tack.
And I kept doing the same thing and eventually I got agoraphobia. So, I couldn’t leave the house. I was just like ridiculous fear and panic and depression and I was a basket case.
I managed to get out of the house and down to the doctor’s, one day where I was having, like, a full-blown meltdown, and the doctor said, “Look. This is what’s happening. You need to take pharmaceuticals, we’ll send you to the top psychiatrist. And I went into the top psychiatrist and, to be honest with you, I wasn’t impressed. His diagnosis was, “Hey, you’re a stressful person by nature. We need to put you on antidepressants.”
I didn’t buy that. It was something in me. I didn’t know anything about what was happening to me, but I just didn’t buy that diagnosis. It was the most demoralizing thing I’d ever heard in my life, to be honest with you.
And I kind of was, like, sentenced to a lifetime of antidepressants. Now, I just didn’t feel like that was right. So, I started looking into alternatives. And, you know, I just knew I had to start doing something with my mind. And I knew some mind control was needed. So I looked into meditation. I didn’t know anything about meditation, but I just, back in those days, there was no internet. This was in 1996. And I had to get the big yellow pages book out, you know? We use these as door stoppers to stop the wind from shutting the front door.
So I’m going through the yellow pages looking for meditation. And I just rang all these different numbers. And went to different XX???? talks 0:06:11.000XX and different sessions and eventually I just found one that I really connected with. It was very science-based. It was very quick. Very powerful. Very effective.
So, that’s really what I did is I learned that technique of meditation. It was like a XXVedic meditation 0:06:25.000XX; transcendental meditation style. That’s what I’ve been teaching that same technique for the last many, many years now and practicing that technique for the last 18 years.
Did you have to hit rock bottom before you started looking into alternative means? Like, is that a normal case scenario?
Only for stubborn, pig-headed people like myself. I’m a Scorpio so it’s my natural nature to be stubborn and pig-headed and, you know, most people ideally wouldn’t want to have to get to that point.
And, you know, we can get hints. We can get little hints, little guidance, from our body, from nature. Little messages come through each day. But, you know, for me, I was just ignoring them, that’s all. I was given those hints years before. And I could have done something different, but like Einstein’s definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again expecting different a different result. And eventually I got insanity.
But, you know, that was the best thing for me. I was the sort of guy who had to get really slapped in the face for me to listen.
But you knew they were warning signs at the time? So, you just, like, “Well, whatever.” Just brush it off?
I thought it was normal to lie in bed two hours before falling asleep and then wake up at 3 a.m. in the morning, wide awake, with insomnia. You know, I just lived with that for years.
Going home at 3, 4 in the morning, guys around me, colleagues, sleeping under the desk and wearing the same clothes the next day at work because they’ve been at a bar or nightclub; strip club, whatever, until 4 or 5 in the morning, going to work for two hours, XXsleeping 0:08:00.000XX, and start the day again. Well, that was normal for us.
So, for everyone out there that isn’t completely familiar with meditation, what; how would you define meditation and where did it originate from? Tom
That’s a good question. Where it originated from, we’ll start with that one. I mean, no one; it’s just so far back that no one really can definitively say. I mean, a lot of the origins are looking like India. I mean, to honest with you, I’m not an authority on the origins of meditation, but it looks like it has come from, you know, thousands and thousands of years ago. I mean, I’ve got texts like the Bagavad Gita was supposedly written somewhere around between 2000 B.C. and 5000 B.C. And they start the Bagavad Gita talking about, you know, ancient times. You know? That they were using these practices.
So, it could go back as far as 10,000 years. They would talk about enlightened ages and golden ages, XXaudio problem 0:09:03.000XX of enlightenment. Many, many thousands of years ago.
And, like quite often happens, knowledge gets lost. It gets diluted as it gets passed down. And so it eroded.
But, you know, that’s looking like the origins of this sort of style. And for meditation, it really can be so diverse. You know, I practice a particular style of meditation using mantras. And what I do is, to make things simple for people, I condense it down into four distinct categories.
And you’ve got concentration meditations where almost you’re putting mindfulness in this category, when you’re using your mind to concentrate, focus on one particular point. And it’s about honing that attention into one specific target, which might be a breath, it might be a third eye, it might be a candle. Whatever it is.
Then you’ve got the contemplation meditation. So, this is where you’ve got some guidance going on. You’ve got someone taking you through a sequence, someone talking to you, someone really in the background or some music in the background doing something for you; going through your chakras.
So, in the contemplation, you’re still engaged in the mind. The mind is still active. There’s still movement within the mind. There’s still fluctuations. And because of that, there’s still going to be fluctuations within the body and movements within the body.
And you’ve got chanting meditations, which are like chanting things out loud: XX“om dimashiba, om dimashiba, om dimashiba, hari hari om, hari hari om, hari hari om.” 0:10:30.000XX
Chanting meditations, they can be sort of bringing the attention down to a single point by saying something out loud. There’s still activity. You’re verbalizing something. You’re thinking something. There’s some movement. There’s some movement going on.
Something that sprang to mind, it might seem like a big question: What’s the purpose of the outcome of meditations? It is simply to still the mind?
You know, it can come from so many different things. It can have so many different objectives. And it’s going to depend on each individual person. Someone might want to have a connection to God. I can have four people come to me on a weekend course and say, “I just want to get rid of anxiety.” One might say, “I just want to sleep better.”
One might say, “I want to experience my higher self.” One might say, “I want to dissolve my ego and become one with the field of the cosmos.” I can teach all four of them the same course, slightly skew the dialogue, and they will all get exactly what they were looking for.
There you go.
And you can have someone start with, take for me, personally, my example: I started wanting to get rid of anxiety and depression. So, there was a pain point I wanted to be removed. Like, a splinter is in my foot. I wanted to tend to that and get the point out.
But now, after 20 years, my purpose of meditation isn’t to get rid of anxiety/depression. That went after weeks. Now, why do I meditate? Why do I sit down each day to meditate? To me, it’s the experience, the oneness, the feeling of oneness to merge with that cosmos. To merge with that universality. To experience the ultimate essence and define my ultimate truth. And to remove the layers of illusion and ignorance.
There you go. That’s very different than just removing anxiety, isn’t it?
Do you think everybody should be meditating, Tom?
That’s a really good question. I think everyone would benefit from meditating, absolutely. I think the planet would be an incredibly different place if we all meditated. And that’s my goal. My inspiration is to inspire one billion people to meditate daily.
I know we’d have a lot less angst, a lot less suffering, a lot less fear, a lot less anger, if we were meditating. But I don’t believe in “shoulds” or “shouldn’ts.” It’s something that we need to find our own way.
So, where would be the best place to start if you were completely new to the concept of meditation. What would I do? Where would I go?
Just give me a call.
We’ll put your local number on the site.
Don’t do that! There’s so many different ways to start. You know, some people say, the technique that I teach, they think it’s an intense practice, because it’s all about transcending. And this is one of the four ones that I didn’t get to finish. There was the three categories that I gave you: concentration, contemplation, chanting. But the fourth one is the one I’ve been doing for 20 years, and it’s a very different practice. And it’s a transcending style meditation using mantras.
You know, these mantras are repeated internally, quietly inside your head. And the mantra is like the carrot in front of the donkey. It’s a very effective mechanism to still the mind because the natural soothing quality of that sound.
And once we understand the nature of the mind, you’ll understand why this meditation technique is a very effective style of meditating, because the mind is always looking for something that’s charming.
The mind is like a little kid, right? You put a little boy, 4 years old, in the corner and he will get bored very quickly. Because he’s looking for something to entertain him. He’s fascinated by things. He wants to explore. And so that will boy will get bored of sitting still and he will start to wander.
And that’s like the mind. It will get bored of sitting still and it will start to wander, because it’s looking for something charming, and thinking is an incredibly charming proposition for the mind.
But when we introduce a sound to repeat effortlessly over and over again, the mantra, the mind finds this really charming. It’s so fascinating. We call these bija mantras, b-i-j-a, and they’re seed mantras that take the mind away from the gross expressed state down into the subtler states. And the mind will do that because of the natural charming quality of those mantras.
And eventually the mind will transcend thought altogether. And when the mind transcends thought, that is the mind has now gone to a place where it’s conscious and awake, but there’s no more fluctuations of the mind.
And the reason the mind will go there and stay there is because it’s found the ultimate source of bliss and charm, and that’s what we call true consciousness.
The chatter stops.
The chatter stops.
Is that like; I’ve read that it’s just like a muscle. Is it that like a daily practice thing that you have to do to get better at it?
No. No. I’ve had people start transcending in the first week. If you were doing concentration meditation, that is a muscle that you need to flex. That will require effort. When you’re lifting a weight, which is a good analogy, thanks for using that; when you’re lifting a weight, you need to develop a muscle so that you can lift that weight more easily. And the same thing with concentration is that you’re forcing something to do something that it doesn’t want to do. The mind does not want to stay still, and you need to use force and a concentration meditation to get that mind to do something that it’s not trained to do or doesn’t want to do. Just as lifting the weight is a force. It’s a friction.
But in transcending style meditations, we don’t use force, we don’t use effort, we don’t try. It’s actually the complete opposite. It’s a gentle idea that we entertain inside our mind. We’re happy to surrender that mantra at any given point in time, because when the mind gets close to transcendence, it will go, “I don’t need this mantra anymore. I found something even more entertaining than the repetition and sound, and that’s pure consciousness. It’s so beautiful. It’s so blissful. I’ll just be residing here in this nectar of oceanic awareness.”
“Well, I certainly want some of that.”
Well, that does sound very appealing.
Yeah. It’s; there’s this beautiful realm that people don’t know exists behind the mind. You know, I just had a group of people from all over the world: Colombia, Brazil, Canada, USA, England, Australia, on retreat in Maui. They’d never meditated before, most of these people. And they were immersing themselves in such mind-blowing richness and beauty and glory and magnificence. There were realms that they were accessing they never knew existed before. And that’s because we used a simple vehicle, which is the mantra, to get into that space.
Like, because you, Stu, you admitted yourself, you’ve got a very active mind, right?
Stuart Cooke: I have such a busy mind. Like, such a busy mind. It doesn’t switch off, you know. I can wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning and I feel like I’ve just come out of a board meeting. I’m wired, thinking about a billion things.
And, you know, I have given meditation a go. But, crikey, it’s like I’m sitting in a cinema and everyone’s talking at the same time. You know, I really, really, really struggle. And so, you know, where would I go, because I’m guessing you’ve probably dealt with a billion people like me.
Yeah. Again, it comes back to, you know, what do you want to experience? You can start with simple apps like, you know, there are some apps out there where you can do some guided meditations. But, for me, personally, you can fluff around at the edges, dither and dather for 12 months, 24 months, trying meditations that are gonna be really difficult and really challenging, you’ll not really feel like you’re getting anywhere.
Or you can cut straight to the chase and do the meditation that I suggest that everyone should be doing, and it’s probably the most popular meditation that’s spreading across the world. It’s the one Oprah does. It’s the one Hugh Jackman does. The one Ellen DeGeneres does. It’s the one I’ve been doing for 20 years.
Why have I been doing it for 20 years? Because I’ve done all the research, I’ve tried all the meditations, for me, personally, and it’s not for everyone. Some meditations are gonna be better for other people, but for me personally, and for the students I’ve taught, I’ve never seen better results than the technique I teach. And that’s a transcending style meditation using mantras.
Now, if you’re telling me, “Look, Tom, I want to go off into a monastery in the Himalayas for the next 15 years. I don’t want to have to talk to anyone. I don’t want to be successful. I don’t want to have to have a girlfriend. I don’t want to have a mortgage. I don’t want to be dynamic. What do you suggest I do?” I’d say, “Don’t do my meditation.”
Because when you do this meditation, you will be so; you will start to become so successful and so drawn to doing amazing things in the world. This is an integrative meditation practice. You’ll get creative impulses that will blow you away where you’re, like, “God, I just can’t believe I had that idea. I’ve got to go and do something about that.” Whereas the renunciant concentration meditations are much more conducive to concentration meditations and much more conducive to that.
I just want to be; I want solitude. I want stillness. I want silence. I want to recluse from the world. And there’s something really beautiful about that practice. I don’t think it’s for you right now, personally, but if you wanted to do that, I would recommend a concentration meditation.
And so it really depends what you want out of life, where you want to go, what you’re trying to achieve. If you want to dissolve stress, trying to sit in a chair and focus on your chakras, it’s going to be really hard work. With that said, focusing on your chakras is a really good meditation. But if you want to remove stress, you need to get deep levels of rest where your mind has become still, and metabolically your body’s dropped into a state of rest that’s equivalent to four times deeper than sleep. Then you need to do the transcending style meditations; the ones I teach.
You’d better do it, Stu.
Well, I’m sold. Crikey.
You quickly mentioned chakras as well. Can you explain what that term means?
Yeah. I mean, we have many, many chakras through the body but we have seven main chakras. You’ve got your third eye, your throat, your crown chakra, your heart chakra, solar plexus. In every chakra, and then your base chakra. And so we’ve got all these different points, I guess, energy points, that are through our body and certain practices of meditation are about putting your attention on those energy points and clearing that point and seeing that it’s awakened.
In our world that we’re in in Sydney here and Western lifestyle, we’re quite dominant in our base chakra. So, the base chakra is all about survival, it’s about procreation, it’s about money. And that’s why we have a very grounded base chakra based, sort of focusing on XXtech? Tax? (audio glitch) 0:21:17.000XX and money so much in our lives. Whereas things like a heart chakra, where we just love unconditionally, we just love so openly, without fear, without conditions. It’s a totally different experience.
So, we don’t have very open heart chakras. Our crown chakra, our third eye chakra, is quite closed, because of stress and the nature of being obsessed about the base chakra.
So, for me, I was very base chakra dominant for a long time of my life. It’s taken me a long time to start opening up the other chakras. But, you know, I don’t teach a lot around that. It’s not my sort of niche. But it’s just something I’m aware of.
Guy Lawrence: A thought popped in as well, just we’re rewinding back a bit with the meditation. Like, if there’s somebody listening to this and, you know, the idea of meditation’s great, yeah, I want to do it. But, like you said, every time they go to sit down they get flustered and just move on.
And so, like, looking at it from a nutritional aspect, we hold clean eating workshops. And yet, even though we’re trying to teach people how to eat for life, we embrace them in a 30-day challenge. And we say, “Guys. Start with 30 days, commit to 30 days, and hopefully you’re gonna change enough habits to then go on and start eating better for your life.” You know? Could that work the same with your course of meditation, if we said, like, “Let’s do a 30-day challenge and then let’s see how we feel after that.” And then hopefully we’re gonna get the bug and, you know, keep going. Tom
Yeah. Look, it’s interesting when you bring the word “challenge” and meditation together. I do have a 21-day program, which is my online meditation program. But I really like to let people do their own research. And I think that’s ultimately the best way for people to get results is that I’m gonna teach you a technique and this technique is gonna really change your life quite quickly. You’re gonna notice significant differences.
Now, a student said to me, “Oh, I dropped off my meditation. I’ve really noticed a difference.” I said, “Great. That’s fantastic. I’m happy that you dropped off your meditation, because now you have relativity and you can see through your own personal research what life’s like when you meditate and what life’s like when you don’t meditate.”
Now, if life’s better when you meditate, there’s your research. And if you don’t want to do it after that, then that’s fine. But you’d ask yourself why would you not want to do it. Stuart
I think that answers my geek question, because I was going to ask how I could measure the effectiveness of it, either through. . .
Yeah, it’s a good question. The difference will be for different people; the measurement for different people. Like, for me, what I noticed was I started sleeping immediately, as opposed to waiting one to two hours. That was the immediate effect within the first few days was that I would fall asleep when I put my head on the pillow. I thought, “Wow! That’s insane. I never had that for 10 years.”
Other people might go, “I get this euphoria. I get this blissfulness.” Other people I know, they started crying, because they were releasing emotions of sadness that were in their body. There’s a lot of purification that goes on when you start meditating.
So, the effectiveness of it will depend upon that person, the stress that’s in that individual, the stress that needs to come out of that individual, some get heightened euphoria, some get sexually aroused, some get the ability to sleep really well, some just feel light and blissful. Some feel quite uncomfortable, because they might have a lot of stuff inside, a lot of anger that they haven’t released. It’s sort of, “ahhhh,” coming out.
Just a release.
Yeah. Usually, the effectiveness will be measured by the sensations that they’re getting.
I guess everyone’s different so you will know if you feel different.
Yeah, absolutely. I had one client just recently that, there as a couple, a married couple, and they both learned with me. And the wife was just, like, “Oh, my God! This is amazing. I can’t believe it. This is like the best thing I’ve ever done. I just can’t believe how incredible I feel.” That was, like, two weeks later. The husband was completely the opposite. He was like down in the dumps, angry with the world, bitching and just gnarly as all heck. And I had a session with him and what had happened was that this person, all their life, had never been able to find their voice. I mean, just being pushed and shoved and accepted that. And meditation says, “That’s not your truth.”
And if that’s not your truth, you need to find your truth. And all of a sudden all that anger and all that being oppressed all his life, as a kid, was coming out. And so his experience was totally different. And yet they were doing exactly the same technique and the same course.
How much do you think stress affects our health, then, Tom? I mean, obviously you’ve been through a lot of stress. There’s a lot of stressed people out there. A lot of people holding things in, exactly like you said. And now they’ve got their voice. I mean, do you think that directly affects people’s health in a big way?
Yeah. I mean, Bruce Lipton, who’s the professor at Stanford University Medical School, he said in one of his papers that 95 percent of all sickness is a product of stress. And you can put that down to impaired vision; not eyesight, but impaired vision, awareness, in making poor decisions.
Because when you’re stressed, your brain operates in a completely different way. You go from being intuitive and creative and wise to just operating from primal survival. When you’re stressed, your metabolic rate changes. Your blood pressure changes. Your cholesterol levels change. I mean, when you’re stressed, everything becomes imbalanced. Everything becomes enormous. I’d say stress is one of the biggest killers we’ve got in our society. And the biggest negative impacts.
Because when you’re stressed, what do you do? You start drinking alcohol. When you’re stressed, you start smoking cigarettes. When you’re stressed, you start taking drugs. When you’re stressed, you eat shit food. I mean, it affects us in every single way in our life.
So, what specific factors do you think, Tom, would inhibit meditation? I’m thinking of, well: Is it too noisy? Is it too light? You know. Are there too many distractions?
Time of day.
Exactly. Because we’ll all be in these very different scenarios in our lives. What should we be wary of?
Um. You know, it’s gonna be almost impossible in our life, in the cities that we live in, to find a completely quiet space. Obviously, noise is gonna be one of the greatest challenges. It’s very distracting for people when there’s noise in the background.
But what we teach with this technique is that if you’re on a bus and there’s someone talking in front of you to their partner, there’s someone behind you on the phone, and there’s someone next to you listening to music on their headphones, you’re still in your headspace and you’re still thinking.
So, if you’ve got a mantra to repeat, you can repeat that mantra regardless, wherever you are. And that will, in effect, be a meditation. I used to meditate on the train nearly every day going to work.
So, noise isn’t really; it can be a distraction. I know being down at the beach where there’s waves moving around, people walking by, there’s some wind, I’m probably gonna have less a deep meditation than if I’m in a really quiet room or a quiet parked car.
Anywhere there’s limited movement, limited activity, limited noise, then it’s going to be more conducive to a meditation, particularly for beginners. But for more advanced people, you can meditate anywhere. I can meditate at a football game and still be OK.
Yeah. You just learn to bring your awareness inward, through the training. But in the beginning, you know, there’s a lot of; your senses are continuously going externally, looking for the source of the noise or the smell or the feeling.
Another question that popped in there, and this seems, probably, a bit contradictory, but, like, if there’s a very busy person, and for this set amount of time you can shorten the meditation, are you going to get the same effect from five minutes as 20? Or does it vary?
Because I know, like, if you started meditating, Stu, the first thing you’d ask is, “Well, how long would I have to do it for?”
Minimum effective dose.
There’s a lot of fancy gadgets coming out these days: five-minute meditations, one-minute meditations. It’s great that we pause. You know, it’s really important that we pause through the day. I think, depending on the meditation style, if you’re gonna do a deep, transcending-style meditation, minimum is 20 minutes. I mean, I don’t recommend you need more than 20. But 20 minutes, you know, 15 to 20 minutes. Under 15, you’re kind of not having enough time to XXdig inside 0:29:55.000XX your nervous system, to wind down the mind.
You know, we have such stimulated nervous systems, such stimulated minds, that it’s really just not enough time to get into those deeper states. I mean, that said, you can get into transcendence within three minutes. I’ve seen my students who come into my courses and come to my Monday night sessions and I have a look around the room and I can see them dropped into deep states within the first five minutes. But I think, for the rebalancing process to really take effect, I’d like to see 20 minutes for the meditation practice.
There you go. Is there a best time of day to do or do you just fit it in when you can or. . .”
Ideally, do one before breakfast and one; anytime, I’d say, between lunchtime and dinnertime. Ideally, I like between 3 and 6 o’clock is a nice time. Three and 7 o’clock in the afternoon is a good time. Before dinner.
And, again, it depends on your meditation. See, the transcending style meditation that I teach, the level of rest is so profoundly deep, it’s equivalent to about four hours’ sleep. A deep meditation; 20-minute meditation.
So, ideally you wouldn’t do that before bedtime, because if you had an equivalent of four hours’ sleep at 9 o’clock at night then it’s going to affect your deep sleep session. But if you’re gonna do, like we do a guided meditation before all the kids’ bed, so my family will all sit on the sofa at 8:30 before the kids are about to go to bed and we’ll put on one of my guided meditations and we’ll all sit there with a blanket and listen to 10 minutes of my guided meditation and what that does for the kids is it just XXde-excites? 0:31:26.000XX their nervous system after watching TV. It’s a lot of stimulation with the music and ads and all that sort of stuff going on on TV for 12-year-old kids’ nervous system. So we wind them down with a guided meditation before bed. And that’s a really effective thing to do. So, it depends on the meditation.
It just reminded me of, you know, I said I don’t meditate. I have tried meditation once and I went to a; I was given a voucher for a class on; for this little place in Bondi. And I’m not the most open-minded sort of guy, so I thought, you know, OK, I will give it a go, but, you know, I don’t expect anything to come from it. And now I just remember sitting in this class with a lady; I was actually the only guy there and there were about 12 others in there and this lady was telling me to picture myself as a flower all curled up. And upstairs in this, I think it was like in a youth center, there was like junior karate. And every kind of three seconds, one of these chaps would be thrown on the; slammed on the floor. And I’m just trying to picture myself as a flower.
And then there was another guy outside tuning up his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. It was just; it was like a comedy for me, and that was my first experience and I thought, “You know, I don’t know whether this is for me or not.”
But I can see, through what you’ve told me, that that probably wasn’t the best experience and it’s something that I would really benefit from looking into.
Yeah. Yeah. It’s just, we can’t judge all meditation on that one experience. There are certainly other ways to do it.
Are there any factors that could enhance that? I mean, can I drink a cup of chamomile tea and slide into meditation a little easier?
Definitely, lead-up to meditation is important. You know, you guys have come to my Monday night meditations and you’ll notice, you know, I turn off the overhead lights. I put candles on. We light incense. So, I deal with all five senses. I put on some nice, quiet music.
So, as soon as you walk in you’re getting a sense of your nervous system calming down. Your nervous system’s being prepared for something. I talk softly so you’re hearing soft voices. And it’s really a nice prelude, so people tend to go quite deep in those sessions. And that’s because I’ve prepared their physical body, their nervous system, their mind, for a deeper experience.
And we can do that on our own at home. You know, if you’ve been running around all day, just been shopping and being up at the XX junction wall? 0:34:15.000XX and you’ve been listening to the radio and having heaps of meetings all day and then you suddenly sit in a chair and start meditating, it’s gonna take you a lot longer than if you actually just: Take some time preparing your room, putting on some nice music, lighting some candles, getting some incense out, do some gentle breathing, maybe do a bit of yoga. And then you start your meditation. It’s going to be like a completely different experience.
You’ve got to work at it, right? It’s not like: “Ah, let me finish this action movie and then, XXfeck it?? I figure?? 0:34:41.000XX, I’ve got to fly to my 10-minute meditation time and then. . .”
You can still do that. I mean, if you’re pushed for time, it’s still worth doing that. But if do it for a little bit of time, it’s the prep. Not every one is going to have time for the prep. So, it’s one of those things. . . Or the space for it. You know, you just get on a bus and all of a sudden you start meditating. You haven’t got time to light candles and sit them in front of you and burn some incense.
So, you know, there are certain times you just aren’t gonna do it. But it does; I think it does help.
Have you ever meditated; you said you’ve meditated on the way to work. Have you ever missed your stop on the bus or the train?
I have, yes. I ended up; I was supposed to go to Martin Place. I ended up at Town Hall and Central. I told my work that’s why I was a little bit late that day.
I’m guessing you probably don’t promote meditation while driving.
It’s not a good idea, no.
What; like, we ocean swim a lot. And I do a bit of yoga a couple of times a week as well. Is that a form of meditation?
Oh, yes, definitely. You know, anything that’s repetitive. Walking can be meditation. Swimming is a really meditative practice, particularly doing laps in a pool, looking at that little black line below you, it’s “breath, one, two, three, four, breathe, one, two, three, four, breathe.” It’s definitely a meditation.
What you’re not gonna get is metabolic rest. OK? So, mentally it is definitely a meditation. But physically, you’re not gonna have metabolic rest. So, in stillness, when the mind is still, and not moving in transcendence, your physical body’s oxygen requirement is almost zero, and it’s been proven metabolically that you are about four times metabolically deeper in rest than you would be in a deep sleep.
Wow. That’s incredible.
I’m looking forward to getting into this. That’s for sure.
This is where the repair happens. So, the body is this incredible organism that has this intelligence within it that it will repair. It will operate and function at the highest level. We have sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. It’s a beautiful design by nature. We’re just not getting the levels of rest that are appropriate enough to get that deep healing process activated. And that’s what happens in meditation.
Like, for me, OK, I had anxiety, I had depression, I had insomnia, I had agoraphobia. Huge levels of distortion. Constantly getting sick. I didn’t have to take tablets. I didn’t have to see doctors. I didn’t have to see therapists. I just simply put my body in a deep level of rest twice a day, morning and evening. I had all the anomalies. I started producing serotonin, oxytocin, reduced adrenaline, norepinephrine, cortisol. I started healing on every level; started getting rest. And it was just a natural mechanism in my body to do that.
I’m inspired. I want to do it. I think high-end athletes would benefit greatly from this.
Yeah. A lot of high-level athletes are now starting to realize the power of meditation.
When you describe it like that, yeah.
Yeah. Yeah. It surprises people when I talk about it on a physical level, but it is just as much, if not more, a physical practice than it is a spiritual and mental one.
What are your thoughts on the plethora of iPhone apps and gadgets out there? Is it something that we should be doing on our own, or can we plug in to technology?
XXFinding Real Bits?? 0:38:12.000XX is another one as well, isn’t it?
I mean, everything’s relevant. We’ve got technologies causing a lot of our problems in the world today, with stress levels and our constant attachment to acquiring information. But it’s also gonna be the source of the solution to the problem.
By my online program, I can now get meditation to people all over the world. I have people every day emailing us from Mexico, Kenya, Venezuela, and even a remote XXGalapagos? 0:38:45.000XX north of Finland. Some woman said, “You know, you’ve changed my life. You’ve taught me how to meditate.” And that’s because what I teach in person I can now deliver to the masses through digital format. And we couldn’t do that less than 10 years ago.
Yeah. It wouldn’t work so well as like a bulk mail-out, would it?
A bulk mail-out wouldn’t work quite as well.
Yeah, sending fliers out to Venezuela.
Oh, that’s right. Exactly. Yeah.
Mate, we got an Instagram question pop up and I thought, ah, this one’s a good one: What were the key lessons that you learnt, allowing you to improve your meditative experiences?
That’s a good question. Well, I’ll answer that in regards to my specific practice. And one of the things that was most relevant for my practice, which is different from a concentration meditation, but for a transcending style meditation, using a mantra, one of the most important things that I was taught that helped me refine that practice was to not hold onto the mantra as a clear, firm pronunciation, but to very effortlessly entertain it as a faint idea so that as the mind is moving toward the transcendent state, toward stillness, it’s able to surrender the attachment to the sound and let it go. So, if you hold onto that as the clear pronunciation, then the mind is attached to the repetition sound, which means the mind is moving constantly.
Could you be stressing yourself out to think that you’re getting the mantra right or wrong? The pronunciation?
Absolutely. That’s why we emphasize, and that’s why it’s important to do a course where you get guidance. I highly recommend for anyone that, this is the big challenge people have is that they’re trying to do meditation on their own. It’s probably the most important thing you can do. And yet we’re reluctant to get authorities to guide us in that space.
And it’s really important that you have someone to assist you in your meditation practice, because not only do you want to make sure that you understand the process very well, and understand why you’re gonna have certain sensations or why you’re gonna have certain experiences that might be a little bit challenging at times. But you’re talking about your unconsciousness here. And everything that you do in life is gonna flow from your consciousness.
And we go to chiropractors, we go to doctors, we go to dentists, we go to mechanics to fix our car. We see professionals in every area of life except for our mind.
Yeah. The most important part as well.
The most important part.
Hey, Tom, yes, good point. We ask one question on the show at the end, every guest. And I can just see Stewie’s face. His brain is working overtime.
This gold. I mean, we’ll be talking about this for weeks after, Tom.
So, what’s the single best piece of advice you’ve ever been given.
Yeah. That’s a really good question. I would have to reference a book, it was a reference from a book called Emmanuel’s Book. And I don’t know if it’s advice as opposed to an insight, but I probably take it as an insight. And that is that ultimately, beyond all the thoughts, all the seeming conditions of what I perceive myself to be, there is the subtle essence of who I am. My ultimate truth.
Is it, “I’m love?” And all I need to do is embody that. And when I’m embodying that as my ultimate truth in every moment, then that’s what we call in Sanskrit “moksha.” Freedom. That is true freedom. There is no circumstance you can’t feel liberated in when you’re just embodying the truth of who you are. And that’s love.
Did it take you a long time to; like, if somebody had that to you when you were in your stock-trading days, bond-trading days, you know, probably wouldn’t have registered the same as to the Tom of today, right?
There’s a reason for that in that knowledge gets superseded by our experience. So, you can have a concept in your head, but if your experience isn’t aligned with that concept, then your experience will override the concept. So, if your concept is, “I’m peace and love,” but if you’re stressed to the hilt, you’ve been up all night doing cocaine and drinking bourbon, and you wake up and you say as an affirmation, “I’m peace and love,” or, “I’m the light.” Your experience will tell you a different story.
And when you’re driving to work in your BMW and there’s a traffic jam and you’re late for a boardroom meeting and a lot of things depend upon this and you’re really stressed and you’re hammering the steering wheel, cussing and cursing, listening to some, you know, hard-core metal music, it doesn’t matter what that concept is. You could have little Post It notes written all over your car on the dashboard saying, “Hey, I’m peace and love.” We need our experience to align with the concepts. And it took me a long time for my physical body to be purified of the imbalances so that I could start to feel that.
So, now my feeling is aligned with the concept.
That makes so much sense when you put it like that, Tom. It really does.
You know, I had a guy at work had heard a lot about the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. And this guy, like, he was a stress bag. A typical broker, just as I was. And he said, “I really want to read this Power of Now. It sounds really good. It’s something I think I should read.” I said, “Sure. I’ll lend it to you.” And I lent it to him. And he wasn’t a meditator, and I knew that he was gonna struggle with that book because if you don’t know how to still the mind or if the mind isn’t naturally, spontaneously living in the now, then (and the mind doesn’t really like to live in the now. It’s in the future and in the past; it’s forecasting and remembering).
And he got about a third of the way through the book and gave it back to me and he said, “You know what? I kind of get what he’s talking about, but I don’t get it.” And that’s because his experience was invalidating the content in the book. He didn’t know how to live in the now, because his mind was always in the future and the past. Without meditation, it’s almost; I’d almost say it’s a great book to read after you’ve been meditating.
Right. And be present. It’s funny you say that, because I’ve read a book, and I’ve gone, “What the hell are they on about?” And picked it up five years later and it’s a completely different book. Even though it’s the same book.
That’s awesome. Any last words, Stu?
Well, I just need your phone number.
I’ll answer it in a second and I’m coming to see you.
Where can we get more Tom Cronin for our listeners, Tom?
The best place to probably go is to the Stillness Project. And the Stillness Project really is a movement we’ve created. Its foundation is to inspire a billion people to meditate daily. Because we see the power of meditation when we incorporate that in their lives. Everything changes. And if we get more people meditating, we’re gonna have a better planet.
So, the Stillness Project is about that. It incorporates retreats, digital programs, digital mentoring, live mentoring, live programs. They can get most of what they need to find about me at the Stillness Project.
Awesome. We’ll drop a link below anyway on our website.
That was awesome, mate. Thank you so much for coming on the show, Tom.
Thank you so much for your time. This stuff, I can see now, it’s critical to mind, body, spirit, holistic health and wellness. I look forward to finding out more and experiencing more. Put it that way.
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:-
A 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
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.
“The harder I prepare, the luckier I seem to get.” – Michael Jordan
It’s 5am, I’m jet-lagged and I’ve just spent the last half hour answering emails, going over stock and now I’m writing a blog post. My eyeballs are so red I think they just might explode! Why am I doing this? Because I love it!
I’m feeling in a slightly reflective mood as another year almost comes to an end. Due to a few personal circumstances (which has really hammered home to me that we should be making the most of it – life), I felt it was a good time to share with you the steps that I take and continue to take as I move towards one of the values that I defend to the end – Do what you love. And the great thing about this is that it far outweighs any moniterial value, it just so happens if you have the courage to follow through, the money begins to turn up and you earn a living by doing the stuff you love best. More
“Before we can create peace among nations, we have to find peace inside that small nation which is our own being” – B.K.S. Iyengar
I don’t know about you, but as I get older my life seems to be speeding up. There is always something to do, somewhere to go, some place to be. I just can’t shake the feeling that I am increasingly running on overdrive. Busy, busy, busy consumed with tasks that focus me externally rather than internally. This experience it seems is far from unique.
My clients regularly report that they just can’t cope with life’s increasing responsibilities. We can’t deny that we live in a rapidly changing world with advancements in technology keeping us connected 24/7. Is this good? In many ways yes … we are more efficient and can easily work remotely and globally. We can keep in contact and market our businesses without actually having to leave the house (or speak with anyone). Great huh? Well let’s consider the flip side. What is the impact of this fast, frantic and constantly churning society that we now live?
Has the improvement in ability to communicate (for example, sending emails rather than letters) led to a reduction in work hours? Most certainly not!! In fact, for the majority of us, the result has been quite the opposite. We now work harder and longer hours, whilst expected to respond to work emails during the evening and on weekends. We are constantly on the computer or iPhone. Switched on 24/7.
I believe that despite the fact that we are more seemingly more connected than ever, we are actually more disconnected to the things that matter. We are unhappy, overworked and burnt out. Many of us are chronically stressed yet don’t even realise it. I hear people saying, they can’t switch off, cant sleep, agitated, can’t make a decision, moody, suffer headaches, have neck tension and the list goes on. They are fighting with their partners, colleagues, children and friends. Ultimately, they are fighting with themselves, reacting to a constant stream of internal chatter. And let me tell you this chatter is usually far from positive. In such a hectic world we pay less attention to our inner world than ever. Life has become so busy that we have forgotten the art of going slow, creating awareness and nurturing inner peace.
What’s the solution?
Step 1) Work out what is important. As things speed up, we need to take control and learn how to focus our energy on the things that are most important. What are your values?. Where is your life currently out of balance? It often helps for clients to draw a life wheel which allows them to consider and rate how they are performing in a range of areas in their lives.
Step 2) Learn how to effectively manage your time and prioritise. Ask yourself how you can best distribute your finite energy? This is key, not only in work life, but in our home life as well. Create a list of responsibilities and then sort them according to whether they are urgent/ important or both urgent and important or neither.
Step 3) Learn to go slow and switch off. Rest, recovery and smelling the roses!! Elite athletes understand this principal. They oscillate between training and periods of rest and recovery. Think about it. There is an implicit understanding that athletes cannot perform at their peak consistently, which is why there is always an off-season. So ask yourself, do you have an off-season?
When do you switch off and smell the roses? For most of you, it is rarely, as you maintain your many roles (i.e. wife, husband, mother, father, manager etc). You are expected to perform at your peak 100% of the time and criticised or performance managed when you do not. So the goal is to break this cycle and take some time to learn how to slow down. Make this a priority! Some examples include walking by the beach, reading a good book, sitting in a café, meditating or singing… discover what works for you and do it every day.
Step 4) Learn how to cultivate inner calm. It is often a surprise to clients that they actually have all the tools available to them to cultivate a sense of inner calm, peace and happiness. What brings you a sense of calm? Is it when you are swimming in the ocean? Or perhaps after a long run on the beach? If you are like me, then you may experience a sense of inner peace following meditation and yoga practice. The point is to take the time to find out what works for you and make it a habit. I am in the process of doing just this. I have recently embarked in a 40-day yoga challenge, which involves daily yoga and meditation practice. They say it takes 40 days to create a habit so wish me luck on the road to inner peace.
I thought it was fitting to consider one of my favourite quotes: “be the change that you want to see in the world”… So ask yourself, what change do you want to see in the world? Then focus the question internally and consider how you can cultivate this change within yourself. We all have the power and ability to create positive changes within ourselves that will essentially impact others. Whilst this journey must start with us, it certainly will not end there. So break free of the frantic cycle of modern life. Become aware of the madness; take time to consider what is actually important and don’t forget to smell the roses.