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.
Guy:Do you struggle to motivate yourself for exercise? Then this 2 minute gem above is a must watch as Darryl shares with us the secret to exercising without it feeling like exercise!
Darryl Edwards is a movement therapist, paleo nutritionist, blogger and published author of the book “Paleo Fitness”. Based over in the UK, his main focus is primal nutrition for disease prevention, health, body composition, performance and well-being.
From former coach potato to a fantastic ambassador of true health and fitness, Darryl shares with us the lessons he’s has learned along the way. He also a seriously fun and playful guy and we had a lot laughs recording this.
Full Interview: Couch Potato to Becoming The Fitness Explorer. A Transformational Story
In this episode we talk about:-
The biggest key to turning your health around
Is the paleo diet is for everyone?
How to apply paleo with ease to your whole lifestyle
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence from 180 Nutrition, and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. So, our special guest today is Darryl Edwards. He’s also known as The Fitness Explorer. And in his own words, he was a couch potato and he said he journeyed into the world, I guess, of primal fitness, holistic health, and paleo nutrition. And it’s transformed his life and now he’s out there helping others with the same journey, I guess, you know?
The one thing that was very clear about this podcast today is that Darryl is a lot of fun and we had a lot of fun doing it. It was a very relaxed conversation. I got a lot out of it. It makes me want to go and bear crawl across the sand when I leave the room in a minute.
And I love the way Darryl actually looks at, I guess you could say the holistic approach to everything. And I have no doubt whether you are a couch potato or whether you are going to the gym six days a week, if you listen to this it will make you think a little bit differently about your approach.
As always, if you’re listening to this through iTunes, please leave us a little review, a little bit of feedback. It’s always great to hear and, of course, it helps our rankings and gets the word out there. And of course come over to our website. You can sign up to our email and we send this content out on a regular basis so you don’t have to miss anything, which is, of course, 180Nutrition.com.au.
Anyway, enough of me talking. Let’s go over to Darryl and enjoy the show.
All right. This is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke and our special guess today is The Fitness Explorer Darryl Edwards. Darryl, welcome. Thanks for joining us on the show, mate.
Darryl Edwards: Thanks for the invitation. I’m really looking forward to the chat.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, it’s great to have you on. And I was just; we were chatting to Stu, you know, because we were discussing literally about the transformation you’ve been on over the years, you know, and you even mentioned on record you were a skinny fat person at one time. And clearly now you’ve gone on and you’re, you could say, exploring fitness. You know: You’re a paleo advocate; nutritionist. And what I’d love to kick off with is, I guess, what was the tipping point? Where did your journey begin and now you’re out there, you know, spreading the good word?
Darryl Edwards: Yeah. I suppose my journey began with me getting, you know, kind of an early warning sign or signs about the state of my health after an annual health checkup. And basically the report that I was presented wasn’t good news. So, you know, everything from hypertension, I was pre-diabetic, I was anemic, I had a whole host of issues in terms of my blood panel. My lipid profile was off. And what I was told was that the only way out of this was a series of meds. Was medication.
And: “It runs in the family.” Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. And it was like: “This is the option for you. Take some medication and everything will be fine, but you’ll just be dependent on this for the rest of your days. Or, you can look at your lifestyle.”
And I didn’t really have many suggestions from my doctor as to what that lifestyle choice should be. So, I had to resort to investigations and research of my own. And I had read paleo diet, you know, a few years previous; prior. And I kind of went back to it and I was, like, “Hold on a second.” Something kind of didn’t make sense when I read it initially, but the second time around, in the context of how I was feeling and what I recognized I had to do, which was a back-to-basics; a kind of go back to the basics. You Know: be more aligned with nature. And that kind of appealed to me.
So, the diet was the gateway to the rest of the lifestyle. And that research led me to kind of evolutionary biology, evolutionary medicine, evolutionary fitness. The whole kind of, well, if I’m eating the foods that are optimal for health based on nature’s design, then surely there are other aspects of the lifestyle that are just as important. Movement was one. You know. Then, looking at everything else.
Guy Lawrence: So, it took a scare, basically, for you to make change.
It’s interesting that you mentioned that you read the paleo books three years prior. And a question had popped in at the time. Did that; did you sort of read it and go, “Oh, wow. This is interesting. This makes sense.”? Or did you go, “Pfft. I don’t know about this. This all sounds a bit woo-woo. Or…”
Darryl Edwards: Yeah. I guess. I suppose, I mean, it was long time ago now. It was over 10 years ago now. So, when I, yeah, I mean, I remember kind of questioning the whole argument around, you know, I’ve got nothing in common with the caveman. You know, it sounds very romantic and idealistic about everything was just perfect pre-agriculture. And it just didn’t; it was like, yeah, it sounds like a great idea, but how is that gonna fit in with the 21st century? How is that going to fit in with my life today?
But when I had that kind of health scare and when I recognized that whatever I was doing and whatever was conventional wasn’t working for me, I had to basically pin my hopes on a different direction, and I think a back-to-basics concordance with nature seemed to fit. It kind of made sense.
And having the before-and-after snapshot, which was a health snapshot, presenting really good results after three to six months, you know, repeating the blood tests and everything being great, it was like, OK, I don’t know why this is working, necessarily, but it works.
And that was good enough for me to realize I had to maintain the same, that journey and that same sort of path, and then do more research and find out, well, why is this actually working and what else do I need to know in order for me to make this really a part of my life rather than just a three- to six-month transition and then revert back to my old lifestyle. What I am going to do to make this part of my life until the end of my days?
Stuart Cooke: Why do you think it did work for you? What were the standouts where, perhaps, what were the differences before and after that really made such a difference to you?
Darryl Edwards: Um. That’s a really good question. I mean, I suppose just removing processed foods, removing foods that, wherever you, again, it’s even today I’m still toying with the importance or the relevance of avoiding grains, avoiding dairy. And by removing those food; removing those items, you know, and focusing on real food, focusing on food that I could; if civilization ended tomorrow and I was on a desert island, what are the foods that would be available to me?
And that makes sense to me. You know: How long would it take me to hunt down a cow and, you know, produce milk? What will it take for me to do that? You know? What would it take for me to find; to get some wheat from a field to kind of break the kernel down, to grind it for several days just to produce a few grams of flour.
It’s like all of that process-intensive, labor-intensive work just to get relatively poor-quality foodstuff. You know what I mean?
So it’s like I think just a focus on natural produce, removing several steps of the manufacturing process and chemical processing and artificial foodstuffs. I mean, that’s the real benefit of paleo. And then the agriculture or pre- or post-agricultural argument, is debatable. But I think even going back 20, 30, 40 years ago, going back to my childhood, the food I was eating back then as a child was far more healthful than what most people will eat today.
So, going back, when I was eating meat as a child, my parents wouldn’t go to a supermarket to get food. They would go to a greengrocer’s, a butcher’s, a fishmonger’s. That would happen. There was no; everything was kind of organic.
So, it was the obvious choice as a kid. And then as an adult you decide, “Oh, no. I prefer convenience. I prefer what’s gonna cook in two minutes in a microwave.” Those are the decisions I was making in terms of food. And so it’s not surprising that I was suffering as a consequence.
It’s no surprise. No fat in my diet. Dairy that; I was suffering from dairy consumption, and just believing it was OK to deal with that. So, every couple of days I’d have my cereal. I’d then spend much of the morning on the toilet. And I was, “Oh, yes. This is just how it is. This is just the norm.”
But when dairy was removed from my diet…
Stuart Cooke: It’s insane, isn’t it? I’ve got a story about dairy, and this takes me back to my teenage years. When my skin was appalling, so, it was erupting, and I went to the doctor’s and the doctor said, well, I’m gonna give you some antibiotics. And of course at that stage of my life, I had no idea about the importance of a healthy gut and gut bacteria to keep me thriving. And so I went on a course of antibiotics. And it helped a little bit. But this course continued for about four years; four or five years. And so I was on antibiotics every single day for about five years.
And it didn’t really seem to fix the problem. And then I remember reading one day about dairy and how dairy can affect hormones and hormones are linked to skin. And so I cut out dairy.
And at that time, I loved cheese. You know, I was pizza-eating challenge at college and I could eat cheese and pickle sandwiches every single day. And so I cut it out. Three weeks later: completely clear. And that’s the trigger.
And you’re told that there is no relationship between what we consume and how we look and fill, but I think it’s a different story, completely.
Darryl Edwards: Yeah, for sure. Totally agree. I mean, it’s pretty much obvious that what you eat; you are what you eat. People don’t choose to believe that and it’s unfortunate that, as you said, most of the kind of medical and conventional establishment will say, “Oh, it’s got nothing to do with food. How can that have any bearing on your health?” That’s just ridiculous.
Guy Lawrence: It’s crazy, isn’t it? It’s crazy. And, sadly, pain is the biggest motivator. You know? We need to be in a lot of pain before we need to change and then start making decisions and actually thoroughly looking into these topics and going, “OK, let’s apply it.” And actually apply it.
Because we can tell ourselves all sorts of things and think we’ve getting away with it.
Stuart Cooke: So, do you think that the paleo diet would be everyone?
Darryl Edwards: Um. You’ve asked a good question.
Stuart Cooke: It’s a loaded question.
Darryl Edwards: Yes. I mean, yes in the sense that I believe human beings are omnivorous. There were no hunter-gatherer populations that are just carnivorous or just herbivores. We are omnivores. We should have animal protein and vegetable matter and plant matter in our diets. And on that basis, it of course is suitable for all human beings.
Of course, ethics, morals, cultural decisions can also come into play. And that may be a barrier as to whether you can partake, happily, with the paleo diet. You know, if I was French, for example, and bread is an extremely important part of my lifestyle, it may be very difficult for me to avoid grains and take on board paleo unless I’ve got some health issues that came about by me consuming grains. Do you know what I mean?
So, I think yes, it’s suitable for all. But it comes down to the individual whether XXyou type it painfully enough? 0:13:49.000XX for you to want to make the transition or whether you believe that the foods that you consume will lead to a healthier and more productive life; lifestyle.
Stuart Cooke: And I think it’s about finding your sweet spot, too, because we’re all so very, very different whether it be from a genetic level or almost an ancestral level. It finding out what works for us. It might be higher fat for some. It might be higher carbohydrate for others. But I think we can all benefit from pulling toxins and processed chemicals out of our diet, for sure.
Darryl Edwards: Yeah, for sure. That’s a good point. Again, you know, as we’ve been doing this quite a while, I’m always toying with the idea of this kind of this one-size-fits-all or should it be down the stage of being so individualize. And so an individual description in terms of our nutritional macronutrient profile and what we should be consuming.
And I’m not veering most towards that actually I believe if we’re healthy, XXat once I should feel it all?? 0:15:00.000XX. And the reason I believe that is because if you do go to a hunter-gatherer population, they were eating foods based on their environments. They weren’t choosing foods based on, “Oh, well, we’re a hunter-gatherer of this persuasion, so we’re gonna predominantly have fats.” That wasn’t…
Guy Lawrence: “That wasn’t an option, was it?”
Darryl Edwards: Yeah. It was based on their environments. And, again, I can’t imagine people saying, within that community, that small community, “Hey, you know what? I don’t really fancy eating food. I want to have a lower food consumption because I don’t feel too good on food.” I’m pretty certain most people had exactly the same template in terms of their food consumption, based on what was available in their environments.
I think, for us in the present day, most of us are suffering from all sorts of ailments, you know, whether it’s epigenetically, whether it’s environmental, that we probably do have to have a personalized prescription. But I think that’s more to do with the travails of one society rather than the fact that we need an individual prescription. That’s just my take.
Stuart Cooke: Oh, absolutely. And I think our interpretation of our environment is a little skewed as well, because our environment now has a Pizza Hut on every corner and a fast food take-away next door to that, and a supermarket right next door. So, we kind of; it’s a struggle now to actually connect with these beautiful whole foods unless we go out of our way to farmers markets and the like.
Darryl Edwards: That’s a very good point. I mean, yeah, we don’t have to hunt for our food anymore, and hunting would be going to a farmers market or going to a local supermarket or going to the fridge.
Stuart Cooke: Hunting for the cheapest pizza.
Guy Lawrence: So, for anyone listening to this, Darryl, that would be, maybe, wanting to create change with their nutrition and diet, they look at it and go, like, it’s so overwhelming. We have all these emotional attachments to changing these foods and everything else.
What would you say would be; how would you prescribe it? Where would you say to start, for someone to just go… Do they go cold turkey? Do they do it softly, softly? You know?
Darryl Edwards: Um, yeah. That’s a really good question. For myself, I went; I kind of selected what I knew wouldn’t be a heartache for me in terms of going cold turkey. So, for example, dairy was easy to do. Literary, day zero, no dairy. That’s it.
Oats, for example, never: “Boom.” It was easy for me to select certain food types and go, “Right, you know what? I’m not going to have any issues with avoiding those.”
Others that were a little more troublesome, you know, I had to just phase them out over time. And that’s what worked for me. So I think it depends on your personality. It depends on your views about willpower. It’s also deciding what’s going to be a long-term decision for you.
So, I think people can, in the short term, be really strict and go cold turkey and then they’ll just break down and backslide, maybe even worse than their original starting point in terms of their dietary choices.
So, I think it’s really worthwhile thinking about, well, why am I doing this? You know, is it because of health? Is it because I want to look good? Is it because I just want to drop a dress size? What’s the reasoning behind this?
And if that reason is fairly short-term, “I want to lose five kilos in six months,” then you might only decide to follow that lifestyle change for six months, because you’ve achieved your objective. You’ve achieved your goal. And then you’re likely to kind of bounce back.
Whereas, myself, I had to make sure I was underpinning my lifestyle. The reason for my lifestyle change is underpinned by health. And so I’m always looking at, not just today, not just in a year’s time, but literally decades ahead is part of my vision.
And so it means I’m not perfect in my decisions but at least the majority of the times it’s always in the back of my mind. Do I want to take the left path to destruction and poor health? Or will I veer much more to the right and go, hey, more or less I’m making the best decisions that I can, and I feel really happy about making those choices. So, I don’t feel as if I’m punishing myself.
And I think that’s what, yeah, I think it’s: Don’t punish yourself and try to make a long-term decision.
Stuart Cooke: I think it allows us to reconnect ourselves with food as well, because historically, with our processed and packaged food, it’s a quick, you know, slap it in the microwave, boil in the bag, open a packet, put it on the plate.
Whereas now, you know, we’re careful about the fruits and vegetables and meats that we can prepare. We understand taste. And when you strip, when you move away from your processed packaged foods, then you can start exploring things like herbs and spices as well to bring those flavors together. So, it’s about getting back in the kitchen and understanding that cooking is actually part of our day, where as ordinarily it might just be: Slap it in the microwave, put the TV on, and just eat.
Stuart Cooke: I kind of like that side of it. And also, from a parent’s perspective, it’s great as well, because your kids see you doing that and we don’t; that’s such a vital aspect of our upbringing, which is cooking and preparation of food.
Darryl Edwards: That’s also a very good point. I mean, yeah, a lot of what I remember I can reference as a child, and the lessons that I was taught by my parents in terms of food preparation and selecting food. And it’s amazing what comes flooding back, know that I’m actually spending more time thinking about food preparation. But I spent, you know, a good 10, 15 years, literally, what can I source as cheaply as I can, as conveniently as I can, and if I do have to carry it home, it literally is popping it in the microwave, dishing it onto the plate.
Guy Lawrence: I think, as well, when you’re doing that, you have no idea what’s going in there. No idea at all, you know?
Darryl Edwards: You simply don’t care. You don’t care. As long as you kind of fill that need of, “I need to eat food,” I mean, yeah, I know food is an inconvenience most of the time. It’s like, “Oh, I have to eat because I’m hungry.” It’s like, “Why am I hungry? Why can’t I just survive without food?”
Now, of course, I recognize that it’s extremely important and it’s about nutrition and not just enjoyment. It actually feeds us in many, many ways.
Stuart Cooke: It’s fueling our body.
So, just to put that into perspective, given the fact that it’s quite late where you are, can you tell us what you have eaten today, from breakfast to now?
Darryl Edwards: Yeah. So, breakfast I had some eggs, like fried eggs, kind of scrambled. I had some sardines and some veg. And a couple of mandarins as a kind of dessert, for breakfast. I just had some nuts at lunch. It was very, very light. This evening I had some fish and some veg.
Guy Lawrence: Easy. So, it doesn’t have to be wild and wacky. You know, you eat whole foods, real foods, there’s no craziness going on.
Darryl Edwards: Yeah, no, exactly. It’s fairly straight-forward. So, I think there are times where I don’t have time to think about food preparations. It’s just a quick marinade, and it’s popped in the oven, job done. Throw some oil over, coconut oil, job done.
Other times you want to experiment a bit, you want to kind of go, “Hey let me tweak this recipe,” and, you know, slow-cook it. But it allows; you can work it into your lifestyle where, I don’t have much time but I’d still rather do that than pop to the KFC, which is next door.
Stuart Cooke: Especially with the likes of the slow cooker, which has become our best friend now. Just, you know, whack everything in in the morning and in the evening you’ve got the most amazing meal that you can then reheat for breakfast. It’s easy.
Darryl Edwards: Exactly. Yeah. I mean, breakfast is just another meal, at the end of the day. So, yeah.
Guy Lawrence: I’ve got to ask one question, Stu, I’ve got to ask you: What have you had for breakfast this morning? Because this guy is legendary with his breakfasts.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. OK. So, what have I had for breakfast? So, last night I made up a chili. So, just with a grass-fed mince and just mushrooms, veggies, I probably put a bit of paprika in there; a little bit of curry powder. A few spices. And I put a sweet potato in the oven. And then mashed up an avocado; did all of that.
Now, I ate half of it last night and I reheated the other half this morning so the looks on the girls were: “Oh, Dad, your breakfast is so smelly.” And I said, “Well, forget it. It’s so tasty.” So, I’ve had chili this morning.
But ordinarily, my breakfasts are quite similar to yours, Darryl, because I’ve got the biggest sardine fetish in the world. I can’t help myself. I often slip a few cans in when I’m kind of traveling around as well, just to make sure I get my fix.
Darryl Edwards: That’s a good idea, actually. I mean, it’s such good value for money. And I’m quite appreciative of the fact that people, they hate; it’s a love-hate relationship with sardines and I’m quite happy that a lot of people hate sardines because it keeps the price down.
Stuart Cooke: It does.
Darryl Edwards: So, a lot of the foods that we really enjoy that are paleo are becoming quite pricey, like coconut oil. Years ago, it was pretty cheap; almost a throwaway. It’s pretty pricey now. Avocados, same sort of deal. So, yeah, I’m…
Stuart Cooke: Let’s keep the sardines to kind of an underground Fight Club secret. Just don’t tell anybody.
Darryl Edwards: Don’t talk about it. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: I might rush out this morning and buy up a small pallet full of them, because they’ve got a good shelf life.
So, I’ve got a bit of a left-field question. And, so, talking about your primal beliefs, how do they fit in outside of just food and exercise? And when I say that, I’m thinking about, kind of, you know, modern-day dude, he’s got a mobile phone stuck to his ear 24-7, gets up in the morning, has a shower, he’s got his shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant, aftershave, chemical toxins galore. What do you do to address the environmental side of things, if anything?
Darryl Edwards: Yeah, so, well, starting with the mobile phone. I try and use hands-free or headphones. So, it’s been years since I’ve had it pressed to my ear. I try to avoid that as much as I can. In terms of, like, cosmetics and toiletries, so now everything that I use is, you know, no paraffins, no sodium laureth sulfate.
I’m pretty strict and a tight regimen about exactly what I’m going to be using. So, I think that the food and movement was a great gateway to start questioning other aspects of our lifestyle. It’s like: What’s the point in me trying to avoid toxins that I’m consuming, but yet I’m splashing all sorts of rubbish on my skin and in shampoo, toothpaste, and the like.
So, it doesn’t take long to start not only looking at the labels on the back of food products but also on the labels on the back of toiletries and go, “What does that mean? What’s that?” You know. XX??? paraffin?? 0:28:13.000XX. What’s that? What’s all that about?”
So, it doesn’t take long to educate yourself and go, “Ah! It’s harmful. Ah! That’s a carcinogenic. Oh my goodness, that’s, you know, petro-based, petroleum-based product.” I don’t want that. Don’t want to be using that.
So, I think, another thing, we do live in the 21st century. We can only mitigate the risks as best as possible without living out on the sticks. I mean, wherever you live in the world you’re tainted by some form of toxin. You know, a toxic environment wherever you are, unfortunately. So, you can only do the best that you can.
And so, I no longer use plastics in the kitchen. So, I no longer use any kind of harsh chemicals in terms of cleaning products as well as what I use on my skin. And I think you just start questioning every single aspect of your life. I can’t avoid using my mobile phone, but…
Stuart Cooke: You do the best you can.
Darryl Edwards: Do the best you can. Yeah. Which is, I think, it’s far better than just going, “Oh, there’s nothing I can do about this. I’ll just…”
Stuart Cooke: No, that’s right. I always like to think about the nicotine patches that you can purchase and you pop on your skin. And people don’t understand that you put one of those patches on your arm and within 10 minutes, the nicotine is in your blood system. Well, that’s the same vessel for transporting whatever it is in your moisturizer or your soap or shampoo, goes; it’s the same thing.
And because we just think, “Well, that’s just soap,” or, “That’s just conditioner,” we just don’t think along those lines. So, yeah, definitely great just to be aware of it and do the best we can, I think.
Darryl Edwards: Yeah. And it’s amazing you say that, because we’re watching adverts all the time, anti-aging products telling us about the fact that these chemicals are absorbed into the skin and affects the XXchemical?? 0:30:23.000XX structure of the skin and affects the follicles in the hair, and of course, XXsomebody’s??XX going to say it’s a pseudoscience and doesn’t really work. But at the end of the day, you know, the largest organ on our body, i.e. the skin, does absorb some of these nutrients.
Stuart Cooke: It’s just nuts, isn’t it?
Darryl Edwards: Yeah, exactly. So, it’s kind of common sense but as you said, we kind of go, “Eh. Meh. It’s just on the surface. It’s all external. It’s the surface of the skin. It’s kind of impervious. It doesn’t really matter.” Actually, yes it does.
So, if somebody suffers from a lot of skin issues for many, many years and has seen their dermatologist and been told there is nothing you can do, dietary or externally, that’s going to make any difference, apart from taking these topical creams, you know. The steroid creams will work. “But nothing else you can do is gonna make any difference.” And actually, there are things we can do to make a difference.” You know?
Stuart Cooke: Perhaps we could work together and come up with a skin care range based upon sardines.
Guy Lawrence: That would be such a winner.
Stuart Cooke: It would be. You can be the guinea pig, Guy.
Darryl Edwards: I think it would be just be XXyou and I purchasing that 0:31:39.000XX. I don’t think anyone else would but into that.
Guy Lawrence: I just want to add, as well, because you guys are raving about sardines, I buy cans of them and they sit on my shelf for weeks and I have to build up the courage to eat them. I just can’t swallow them. I’ll put about 6,000 spices in it, but…
Darryl Edwards: It needs spices. But, I’ll tell you want, again, as a kid, it was kind of; it’s a “poor man’s food.” And so you just XXget used to its 0:32:09.000XX taste and, fortunately, I had a lot of fish as a youngster, so that fishy smell doesn’t; yeah, whatever.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely.
Darryl Edwards: It’s a great source of calcium as well.
Stuart Cooke: Oh, I love it. Bones and all. I used to take them out, but not anymore. I love it.
Guy Lawrence: So, I was thinking it would be great to just get into the movement side of things now. Because we see that you’re doing some unconventional things in the way of diet and fitness. And we saw a quote on your website the other day that you help people who hate exercise get fit and eat that way. So, I wondered if you could just elaborate on what actually it is that you do.
Darryl Edwards: Yeah, so, Primal Play is my movement methodology. And part of that is its designed for people who hate to exercise. And I think quite a lot of us, even when we kid ourselves otherwise, we do hate to exercise, because it’s a chore, it’s kind of punishing/grueling, and we do it because we recognize it’s gonna be beneficial for us. Because we either want to get fitter or we want to, again, look good-natured or whatever it is.
So, we put ourselves through the paces but the experience itself may not be that pleasurable.
And so Primal Play is really getting people to focus on what is enjoyable about movement. The essence of movements. And most conventional exercise doesn’t necessarily address that, in my opinion.
Guy Lawrence: Do you think it would be fair to say, because, like, I come from a background as a fitness trainer as well, when you exercise you’re always fixated on the end goal. So, let’s say I’m going to go for a run, 10Ks, and I’m fixated on my time and everything else. And then I’m done, you know. Psychologically I can relax and watch TV or whatever. You know? And from what you’re sort of promoting is that you can be; everything’s about just being present. Being in the moment and enjoying the process.
Darryl Edwards: Yes. Yep. That’s exactly right. I mean, being mindful and thinking about the process rather than the goal; the end result. And making sure you’re getting instant gratification when it comes to movement.
So, most people will be thinking about the end result. You know: the goal. “At the end of my 10K run, everything’s going to be great. I’m going to get the endorphin rush, it’s going to be amazing, and I can take off and have a run completed.”
But starting that 10K? Pfft. You know, it’s very rare, thinking about when I used to do a lot of running, it was rare that I would enjoy that first step of the run. Very rare. You know? Putting that playlist on my iPod of 2,000 songs and I’d still be bored out of my skull. You know? Thinking: What song have I got on my iPod that’s actually gonna keep me going for the next 25 minutes, or whatever.
So, yeah, for some people who are really motivated to exercise, it doesn’t matter. They’re not distracted. They can just get stuff done. But most of us I don’t think are that self-disciplined. I think we force ourselves into this culture of exercise and fitness because we know it’s so beneficial.
Guy Lawrence: Definitely. Definitely. Yeah.
I always remember the amount of miserable faces that would walk into the gymnasium: “Oh, my God, I’ve got to do this for an hour.”
Stuart Cooke: That’s because you were training there, Guy.
Guy Lawrence: I would soon put a smile on their face; don’t you worry about it.
It makes me think of surfing, as well, because myself and Stu have taken up surfing because I live just outside Maroubra Beach. And when I’m in there, it’s all about the moment. Like, I never think, “When is this gonna end?” I’m just enjoying the process of it all and the elements around me. And it doesn’t feel like a chore.
And sometimes I go out and go, “God. I’m knackered. That was really hard work.” But at the time I didn’t have to think about it in any sense, and I’d have a smile on my face.
Darryl Edwards: In that compression of time, it’s really important.
Stuart Cooke: What would one of your fitness sessions look like? What do you get into?
Darryl Edwards: It’s very difficult to describe, really, but I sort of can just visualize; if you can think about going back to being a kid and playing at any game that you played as a kid, which was about including everyone who was available to play. Yeah?
So, there was no kind of like, “Oh, you’re not good enough to play this game. You don’t have the right skill level. You’re not the right age. You’re not the right sex.” Whatever. So, being very inclusive. Again, ensuring that there’s maximum enjoyment right from the off.
And usually ensuring that there’s some sort of cooperation kind of teamwork is involved. And so that can be everything from a modified version of tag. Or, I came at this with about three or four different variants of tag when I went to Australia. “Tips” is one. And I was, like, “What the heck is that: tips?”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, exactly.
Darryl Edwards: So I was like, yeah, we’re going to play tag, and they were like, “What’s tag?”
Stuart Cooke: We used to call it “it” at school.
Darryl Edwards: Yeah, “it” as well. Yeah. So, I play like a modified version of tag, which is more suitable for adults and doesn’t involved running around like a maniac for hours on end.
But it’s kind of taking that playful, kind of play-based activity but making sure there is some training and conditioning effect from it. So, not just the completely aimless, where it’s like, “Oh, what’s the point of doing this?” But actually, I want to play, but I still want to get stronger. I still want to get fitter. I still want to build up my endurance and stamina. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
So, I’ll still have those fitness goals, but I want to make sure that it’s all wrapped around this kind of veneer of play.
Stuart Cooke: So, you’re playing and your participants have to wear a 10kg weights vest. Is that correct?
Darryl Edwards: Yeah. You know, I’m going to add that to the repertoire next.
I suppose people can see, can check out my YouTube channel to see, get an idea of what my Primal Play session looks like. Or, even better, try and participate in one of my workshops.
But, yeah, for people who take part are in two categories. There are those who hate exercise, who have been sedentary, like couch potatoes, for 10 years, who go, “You know? I want to; show me what I can do to enjoy exercise again.” And I also get a second category of individuals who are, like, “I’m really fit. There’s nothing you can do with play that’s gonna challenge me.”
Stuart Cooke: That’s a dangerous question.
Darryl Edwards: I say, “OK. Let’s see what we can do.”
So, it’s great to pit those complete, diametrically opposed individuals and go with someone who’s an elite athlete and someone who’s a couch potato and get them both to play this game, but feel as if you’re both working out. You know what I mean? You both feel as if you’re working at maximal output, but you’re doing it together. Well, then you’re thinking, “Oh, my gosh. You’re just so weak and pathetic. What’s the point in me doing this with you?” Or, “Oh, my goodness. They’re so big and strong and intimidating. There’s no way we’re going to be able to work out or play out together.”
So, yeah, it’s a very interesting concept. It’s taken me awhile to develop this. And the great thing about it is people tend to have a great time and oftentimes go, “Oh, my goodness. I didn’t realize… Why am I sore?”
Guy Lawrence: I think you mentioned the word “community” as well, at the beginning, and I think that’s so important as well. And when it comes to exercise, if you are doing this in a fun group environment, it really brings out the best of you. And you’re sharing an experience with other people, as opposed to just; I keep using running as an analogy, but just listening to an iPod, running on your own, it’s such a different thing. You know? And you can have laughter and fun and it will motivate you to go back and do it again.
Stuart Cooke: I think it’s really good to mix it up as well. Because I keep myself reasonably fit and healthy, but, you know, after an afternoon’s play with the kids, you know, the next day I have got all of these sore muscles all over the place where I never thought I had muscles. And I’m thinking, “What on earth did I do?” And I thought, crikey, of course, I’m crawling along on the grass like a lunatic, and enjoying it, having fun, laughing, and it must be beneficial too.
Darryl Edwards: Yeah. Of course. Yeah. That social aspect. And I think social isolation is, again, pretty much part of the modern era. And we’re quite happy; a lot of us are happy to be on our own, be completely isolated, and keeping fit is also part of that. “I just want to be in the zone on my own, nobody talking to me.” And even if you go into a group class, you know? I’ve been to lots of group classes at the gym, and it’s so much you’re siloed, you’re almost cloned with 20 other people doing your own thing and you might have a chat at the end: “Wasn’t that a great class, guys?” “Yeah!” And that’s the end of it of.
Guy Lawrence: That’s the only direction you go.
So, from a motivational perspective, right, so you’ve got the unmotivated person and they’ve got sedentary habits, where should they start? What would you recommend? Like, even from a mindset perspective, you know? To just get them over the edge, get them going?
Darryl Edwards: I suppose it’s trying to get them to integrate movement into their normal day. So, I think for somebody like that, to say to them, “Hey. You just need to just do 20 minutes a day. Just do half an hour three times a week.” That’s gonna seem like a mountain that’s impossible to climb, for them. But if you present it in the sense that, hey, you know what? You can just think of it as an interesting way to get XXout of the chair, for a start? 0:43:01.000XX. That’s one thing you can do. You know. You can start thinking of the stairs as your gym equipment. Every time you see the stairs, and you see a lift, you can go, “You know what? I’m gonna take the stairs because that’s me getting my workout; me actually doing some work.”
So, I think just presenting interesting opportunistic ways for them to get more movement into their day and hopefully start creating a bit of an appetite for that.
And for someone who’s naturally, who’s struggled to maintain the habits; form a habit of exercise, I would join a gym in January, and you’d be lucky if you’d see me there from February on. It just wouldn’t happen. I may be there in June to get ready for the beach in the summer, for holiday. But I’d be literally like, “Yeah, yeah, I’m all keen, ready to go, but I couldn’t maintain that habit. And I think part of that was because you’re going from zero to wannabe hero in a short space of time. You get sore, you achieve a lot in what’s actually a short space of time, but it’s kind of painful. It’s uncomfortable. It gets boring and routine. So you’ve got to find a way of making sure it just becomes the norm. It’s not a hobby anymore. It’s just part and parcel to integrate into your day.
And I’m finding I’m spending more time moving. If I go for a walk now, if I’m waiting for the bus, there are times when I will race the bus. I’ll purposefully be one step away from where I need to be, because I want to sprint for that bus. Or I’ll XXsit in the bus shelter and I can’t do proper pull-ups here?? 0:44:47.000XX I’ll walk around the wall because I want to text my balance out. The mindset that I have now has developed to the point where I don’t need a gym anymore, necessarily. Because the world is my gymnasium.
And that’s what I try to foster with my clients is that, yeah, wherever you’re at, whether it’s a hotel room, your living space, you’re in the outdoors, your gym, you’ve got to view it in a different way. And then you’re gonna start craving opportunities for yourself and hopefully enjoy those opportunities and then you can’t wait. And you almost itching for that next movement experience. I think that’s the way to go.
Stuart Cooke: That’s perfect. It is almost; it’s almost childlike in the thinking, because when I think of children out on the street, they very rarely sit and stand in one place at one time. If there’s a wall, they’ll be on the wall. If there’s a tree, they’ll be hanging off the tree, doing stuff. They never stop. And it’s kind of getting back to that way of thinking, opening up, letting go, having fun, and moving as well.
Darryl Edwards: That’s a great point. You know the comedian Lee Evans? The English comedian? So, I saw a show that he was on; a talk show that he was on. And he was like really animated and he was kind of climbing over the sofa and was being his, kind of, crazy self. And he was being asked about his age. And I think he’s just 50 or in his 50s. And he looks; you could take off 10, 15 years easily. He looks absolutely fantastic.
And there was a moment during this interview where he became very adult-like. He stopped playing around and started to be really serious. And immediately, those of us watching were like, “He looks his age now.” Seriously. It was like, “He looks 50 now.”
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. That’s nuts, isn’t it?
Darryl Edwards: What he was like before, he could have been 30, 35 easily. And I think that hits the nail on the head. That childlike, almost innocence. That kind of like nervous energy that kids have, once you lose that. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right. Use it or lose it, isn’t it? That’s what they say.
Guy Lawrence: Definitely. So, what recovery kind of strategies do you do, Darryl? Do you think about it much or…
Darryl Edwards: It’s a bit like when you start looking at diet and you start, say, looking at paleo and you might start kind of weighing your food, measuring your food, thinking about, “Oh, I need to XXwork out with these shows here? 0:47:49.000XX and then you start thinking about: What times of day do I need to eat for optimal X, Y, and Zed. And then go, “Actually, no. I’ll just eat when I’m hungry. I’ll make sure what is on the plate is a decent portion. And I’m gonna be satisfied with…” You kind of just get a feel for what your body needs.
I think it’s the exact same with movements. You know, some days I go harder than others. Sometimes I play with others. And I just know what type of recovery I need for me to either continue with the same intensity or have to drop it down a bit. So, I think, again, being kind of childlike, I don’t remember being a kid, my mates coming around and saying, “Hey, Darryl, do you want to come out and play today?” And I’d go, “No. No chance, mate. I feel a bit sore from playing tag all day.”
Guy Lawrence: “I’m in recovery mode.”
Darryl Edwards: I do a bit of stretching and I’ll be fine.
Guy Lawrence: It comes back to listening to your body, right? And just being in tune. And I think the more you kind of take out the processed foods and get a good night’s sleep.
Stuart Cooke: But that’s it. You’ve touched on nutrition prior to that. But that is probably one of the biggest elements of your recovery. You have pulled out all of the inflammatory foods out of your diet and you’ve replaced them with these beautiful whole foods. They’re nutritious and healing. And that’s probably one of the best things you could do.”
Darryl Edwards: For sure. I think that’s a really good point. And also, I think if you have, in terms of movement, traditionally, I would have a one-dimensional or two-dimensional approach to fitness. You know, one-dimensional being I’m quite good at endurance stuff, so that’s what I’m gonna focus on. I’m quite good at cardio stuff. That’s what I’m gonna focus on. But need to get a bit of strength in there. So, ah, I see another dimension. I’ve covered two dimensions. But now I recognize that if I have a really wide repertoire of movement, I’m less likely to be injured. I’m less likely to have repetitive stress and strain. So, I’m less likely to be sore, actually. You know?
It sort of the point where I’m just kind of completely beaten up. And so if I do get sore, it’s sore to the point where I’m still not deterred from continuing to move. And I think that’s also part of listening to yourself. Actually, you know what. I’m sure, again, my ancient ancestors would be going for a heavy-duty hunt one day. Did they come back the following day when the didn’t capture anything and go, “Hey, you know what, today we’re just gonna stay; we’re not gonna go for a hunt because I’m sore and we didn’t even get any food yesterday.” Do you know what I mean? It was like, no, what do you mean “sore”? Muscle soreness? What’s that about?
Even that I think is definitely the fitness industry telling us that we should avoid movement if we’re feeling a bit sore. Because I don’t remember my father telling me when I was young that he was really sore from all the heavy lifting he had to do when he went to work. Do you know what I mean? He was tired. He had a hard day. But he wasn’t talking about XX???and saying I need to get a ??? 0:51:08.000XX.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, I get that completely.
Darryl Edwards: I push it because I’m too knackered or…
You just had to get stuff done. You just had to get stuff done. And I think that’s, as well as listening to ourselves, also knowing a safe limit to ensure that we’re still challenging ourselves because the day we can’t challenge ourselves, you know…”
Guy Lawrence: And most people, sadly, don’t move enough. The sit in front of a computer all day. They’re hunched over. Their posture’s just doing one thing. And even if they just moved, psychologically as well. You know, it’s massive. They’d get into it.
I’m checking the time. We’re starting to run out of time. So, we always ask a question on the podcast each week, and it’s: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? It’s such a small question.
Darryl Edwards: I had a book autographed by Mark Twight, who owns; the founder of Gym Jones, a fantastic gym facility in the U.S. He trained the guys in 300. And I was fortunate enough to spend some time in his facility when I started kind of exploring fitness and looking at different movement. But he basically wrote in my book, which he signed to me, and he said, basically, to kind of find your path. Find your way. Get off the path. And then, you know, get off it. Kind of deviate from that quite to an extreme level. And then come back to the path.
And that resonated with me then and it still resonates with me now, to the point where I think even as convinced as I may be about a particular path, whether it’s nutrition, movement, lifestyle, never stop questioning. Because I think you may be called back to that. But at least you’re completely aware of everything in the periphery. So, that’s probably the best advice I’ve received in recent memory. And it’s what I definitely will follow.
Guy Lawrence: That’s fantastic. Some of this brings to mind, I remember thinking the more you know, the more you actually don’t know.
Darryl Edwards: Yes.
Guy Lawrence: So, remaining open to it.
Darryl Edwards: Yeah, that’s a really good point, and I think simplicity now, I mean definitely for myself, I’ve initially amassed so much knowledge and intellect, I believe, is the way for me to improve my lifestyle. You know? “If I can have a Ph.D in nutrition and biochemistry, and I can be a chef, and I can become an exercise scientist, and I can…” You know what I mean? If I can master all of these different disciplines, then I’ll be healthy. And the reality is, if I could actually just implement some of the bare-bone basics, that’s good enough. Do you know what I mean? You don’t need to know that much, really.
Guy Lawrence: It doesn’t have to be complicated, does it?
Darryl Edwards: It doesn’t have to be complicated, no. You just have to basically implement it. And so now I’m actually spending less time researching unnecessarily, and thinking, hey, I just need to start doing a lot of this stuff that I already know.
Guy Lawrence: Less thinking, more doing. Yeah.
Darryl Edwards: Yeah. Exactly.
Guy Lawrence: Have you got any projects coming up in the future? What’s next for you, Darryl?
Darryl Edwards: Yeah, I’ve got a few projects on the go. So, the next big project is releasing PrimalPlay.com. So, I’m working on that at the moment. As I said, I’ve kind of worked on this movement methodology for some time, and kind of gaining a lot of attention in that area. So, I’m going to have a dedicated website with downloadable videos, a kind of community base of people who want to play more and recognize it’s part of a lifestyle rather than just the physical aspects. But it kind of permeates through every single part of your lifestyle.
Just learning how to kind of enjoy life, actually. And I’m working on my second book, which is going to be based on Primal Play. So, that’s going to be published by Primal Blueprint Publishing, so Mark Sisson’s publishing house.
And a pet project, a little side project I’m working on, is related to travel hacking. I’m not sure if you know much about this, but it’s basically a way of getting very cheap or completely free travel legally using certain strategies. So, that’s another website I’m going to be launching. Because I’m traveling quite a bit. I’m definitely a master now at getting upgrades and all sorts of stuff. So I’m kind of packaging it up and creating a launch space for that.
Guy Lawrence: Brilliant.
And then you can combine them all together: travel cheaply, play everywhere, and eat this paleo lifestyle while you’re doing it. And have fun along the way.
Stuart Cooke: Fantastic.
Guy Lawrence: That’s awesome, mate. That’s awesome. So, for anyone listening to this, where do they go if they want to get in touch with you; find out more about you, Darryl? Where is the best place to go right now?
Darryl Edwards: The best place is on my blog at TheFitnessExplorer.com. PrimalPlay.com will be available shortly. And just get in touch with me on social media. So, @fitnessexplorer on Twitter, Facebook.com/fitnessexplorer, and YouTube.com/fitnessexplorer, so you can see all my videos and just get a feel for what I’m doing.
And, of course, you can buy my book, Paleo Fitness, which is available in all good bookstores.
Guy Lawrence: Awesome. We’ll link out to everything so people who come to our blog and all the rest of it can check you out, Darryl.
That was awesome. Thank you so much for joining us on the show.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Thank you. I’ve had a lot of fun today.
Darryl Edwards: Thank you very much, guys. I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been a real pleasure. It’s also like a smorgasbord of accents as well, which is quite cool.
Stuart Cooke: It is. That’s right. We’ll confuse the listeners. Maybe we’ll run a competition to spot the accent.
Darryl Edwards: We’re going to have some captions there.
This is the full interview with Sweet Poison Author David Gillespie. He is s a recovering corporate lawyer and has deciphered the latest medical findings on diet and weight gain. In his own words he says that what he found was chilling.
Did you enjoy the interview with David Gillespie? Has it made you think differently regarding sugar or fructose? Would love to hear you thoughts in the Facebook comments section below… Guy
David Gillespie: The transcript
Guy Lawrence: I’m Guy Lawrence. This is Stuart Cooke. And our special guest today is no other than David Gillespie.
David Gillespie: G’Day.
Guy Lawrence: Thanks for joining us David. Really appreciate it.
Now, I thought the best place to start would be from the beginning, and I know for any of our viewers that don’t know who you are, could you just sort of tell a bit about yourself; your story and how you came to writing about sugar in the first place; I’d love to know that.
David Gillespie: OK. So, I guess I should start out by saying I’m not a nutritionist or doctor or a biochemist or any of that sort of stuff. So, I’m phenomenally unqualified to talk to anybody about any of that stuff, but because I’m a lawyer it’s not gonna stop me.
I came to this because I spent most of my life getting fat, not intentionally, but every year I was a kilo or two heavier and, you know, I guess about almost 10 years ago now, I weighed in at 130-odd kilos, which put me well and truly into obese category.
And I thought when my wife rather inconsiderably announced that our fifth child was going to be our fifth and sixth children, that it was time to do something about it because I wasn’t coping with the four we had, who were all under the age of 9, let alone adding twin babies to that. And so, I thought, you know what, I need to understand how the human body works. I can’t believe that we don’t know how it works. It’s just obviously the case that I’m misunderstanding something.
So; and there was just the logical part to it as well which I didn’t get, which is you look around the planet, you see every other animal on the planet controls its weight the same way it controls its height, on auto-pilot, and there’s no gyms for monkeys, there’s no tigers on Jenny Craig, you know, they all work without willpower, on auto-pilot and the only exception to that seems to be us and any animal unfortunate enough to be fed by us.
So, I thought: I must be misunderstanding something. So, I went looking for the evidence and what I found was that there was very little evidence for what we are normally told to do about weight; that is: Stop being fat and exercise more.
But, there was an entirely different stream of evidence concerning sugar and in particular a part of sugar called fructose, which is one half of table sugar, which appeared to have significant dire metabolic effects, not just making us fat but lots of other stuff that we’re gonna talk about probably today.
What I thought was, well, you know, if that’s right, all I’ve gotta do to fix my weight problem is stop eating sugar. And, well, I can do that. It sounded a lot easier than it ended up being but I thought I can do that and I did and I dropped 40 kilos, got to this weight, which is in the mid 80s, and have stayed eating for the last 10 years without being on a diet. Which to me is pretty incredible since before this, you know, I just had look at a packet of Tim Tams and I’d be putting on weight.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: When you decided to lose the weight and make a change, was sugar the first thing you looked at or did you sort of. . .?
David Gillespie: Oh no. No, I didn’t, I didn’t, I didn’t know where to start. The only relevant training I have is gathering evidence and so where I started was to look at what the official line was. So, I went to the National Health and Medical Research Council, which are the people who determine the Australian Healthy Eating Guidelines, and I looked at what they say you should do to lose weight. And I thought: I’m not gonna go to a diet company or anything like that; I’ll just go to the people whose job this is. And I went looking at what they said and I thought: I can see what they say sounds very similar to what diet companies tell you to do. But I thought maybe there’s something missing that I’m not getting in the details. So, using the only relevant skill I had, which is to gather evidence, I then started looking at the evidence behind the statements.
So, what was the evidence behind the statement that fat makes you fat? What was the evidence behind the statement that exercise would make you thin? And I kept looking at evidence which referred to early evidence, which referred to early evidence, which referred to earlier evidence, and all the way back to evidence in the 1950s which essentially amounted to a great big guess.
I wasn’t at all satisfied with that, but in reading through that stuff I came across other evidence which hadn’t been referred to, but which was just as good a pedigree and this is from the London School of Nutrition, a fellow by the name of John Yudkin did some work on sugars in the 1950s and because of some political fighting it turned out his message got drowned out by a different message from the United States about fats.
Guy Lawrence: Interesting, because the first time I heard about really starting to look at sugar, from my own personal health, would have been about five years ago and I was involved with a small group of people that were helping people with chronic disease and a lot of them had cancer and by that time they had been established about seven years and they were saying that they probably had over a thousand people go through their doors and they were using nutrition and weight training, of all things, to help them.
But the first thing they eliminated from their diet was sugar and that was the sort of first time I sort of heard of anything like that. I only raised this because it made me start to think about, you know, sugar, what I’m eating, and things like that. And I’d love to hear your thoughts on, I guess, you know, on the defects of sugar, fructose and overall health, as well as what you sort of learned from your journey for our listeners.
David Gillespie: Well, I started out on it just through sheer vanity and wanting to not be apathetic. I thought that if I lost the weight I’d be more able to cope with young kids and probably be healthier. But now what I found since that, and I mean that’s where I started but I kept reading and I kept looking and I just kept finding more and more things linked back to this really unusual molecule in our diet, fructose.
Now it might even sound really weird to say that fructose is an unusual molecule in our diet. It is, after all, in fruit. So it’s; people say: “Oh, it’s natural, you know, can’t possibly be anything wrong with it.” It is natural but it’s not natural in the kind of quantities we’re consuming it and we’re not getting it from fruit. We’re getting it from sugar. And that’s the bit that a lot of people don’t connect that it is one-half of sugar.
And this molecule was very, very rare in the human diet until around about 1820. You might ask yourself: What happened in 1820? Something that people have been trying to do for a good half a century happened in 1820, which was that we finally cracked the problem of producing sugar, the stuff we have on the table, in commercial quantities. And the search for “white gold” and that was what it was literally called, “white gold,” had been on for half a century.
It is an extraordinary difficult thing to do and I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to make sugar. It isn’t simply a case of squeezing out a bit of sugar cane. It’s an extremely complicated process and involves a lot of steps and a lot of chemicals and every single step can go very, very wrong. But they managed to finally nail the process in the 1820s and then sugar went from being an extremely rare thing that only really the rich could afford to something that everybody could afford and that was added to more and more foods on a continuous basis.
Now, when I talk about sugar, people think I’m talking about chocolates and soft drinks and so on. I am; they obviously contain sugar, but much more dangerous is the sugar embedded in foods which you wouldn’t even think about containing sugar. You know, things with Heart Foundation ticks that are 30 percent sugar or 70 percent sugar, things that are being sold to us as health food that have loads of sugar in them. Why do they have loads of sugar? Because that “white gold” makes products with it in sell better than products without. So, this molecule we are spectacularly uninvolved to deal with; are you guys both still there?
Guy Lawrence & Stuart Cooke: Yeah, yeah we’re still here. I’m recording your . . . Your picture’s frozen but we’re still here.
David Gillespie: OK. Anyway, so this molecule; we have no real evolutionary background for it because the only sugar that we’ve really evolved to deal with in insufficient quantities, is our primary source of fuel, which is glucose. Everything we eat ultimately ends up in our body as glucose. Glucose is our fuel. Every single cell in our body can use it. It is the primary and only fuel for our brain, which consumes 25 percent of our energy.
So, it is a very, very important molecule in the human body and in any mammal. But fructose has no purpose whatsoever. It turns out, we just shovel it straight to the liver, none of our cells can deal with it at all and the liver just converts it immediately to fat. And that isn’t, it turns out, why we’re fat because of eating fructose; it’s just the start of a process which actually got quite interesting when I dived into the evidence; which is that that fat ends up wrapped around the liver, ultimately giving us something called “fatty liver disease” which now affects 1 in 3 of us, up from almost none of us 40 years ago. It now affects 1 in 10 teenage children. This is a chronic disease that can ultimately lead to cirrhosis of the liver and cancer of the liver.
And that fat wrapped around the liver affects our insulin sensitivity. In doing so it affects our appetite control and that’s how it makes us fat. It isn’t that the fructose is converted to fat, which that in itself makes us fat, it’s that it is converted to fat which becomes visceral fat wrapped around our internal organs, which increases our degree of insulin resistance. Ultimately that cascades through to Type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, chronic kidney disease, hypertension, heart disease, and the list goes on and on and on.
So, you know why getting fat on this stuff is a very, very fortunate thing because it gives us some visible warning that it’s happening.
Guy Lawrence: How; given that it’s everywhere and in so many foods that we’re unaware of; how would you recommend cutting it out? What should we do?
David Gillespie: Well, the first thing is: Listen to your taste. You can taste it. It’s not; if a food tastes sweet, then it contains fructose. You can be absolutely certain of that. And so you can taste it. And that’s the really good news is if you pay attention and listen for the taste that’s sweet, if you like, you can detect it.
The other is, start to get use to where it’s likely to be. So, be suspicious of all processed foods; have a look at processed food, look at the ingredient list; if sugar’s in there put it back on the shelf. It’s as simple as that. If it’s something you really, really must have then find the variant of whatever product it is that has the lowest amount of sugar and preferably aim for less than 3 grams to 100 of added sugar.
Do that and you’ll be fine. And people initially say, when they start this process, they say: “Wow, I just did what you said, and, you know what? There’s nothing in my supermarket that satisfies those criteria. That’s disturbing in itself, is there’s nothing in the supermarket that doesn’t have less than 3 percent added sugar. But there are things. In every food category there are things. And I’ve prepared lists and so on and some of them are in some of my books that go through that and rank them and show you which brands have the lower amounts of sugar. But the easiest way to do it is just to eat whole food.
I’m only talking about sugar added to food. So, eat whole fruit. Eat whole vegetables. Eat milk; dairy, eggs: whole food. Some will be required. And if you do want to eat processed food, then that’s when you need to get careful.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, OK, even when you cook your own meals, at least you start to know what’s going in them. I mean. . .
David Gillespie: I mean, if you add sugar, you’ll be aware of it. You know, you can’t accidentally pour sugar into a meal.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, absolutely. What’s your thoughts on people that say, you know, you need sugar for energy?
David Gillespie: We do. You need glucose for energy. So, remember that sugar is half glucose and half fructose. And you do need glucose for energy. As I said before, your brain runs on nothing else. And if you don’t eat something that can be converted to glucose, it will convert protein to glucose.
So, you do need glucose. You are a machine that runs on fuel. The fuel glucose. But that’s not the same as table sugar. Table sugar is only half glucose. The other half is this fructose stuff.
And some people say, yeah, but don’t I need the glucose half of it? No. Because everything you eat, ultimately, gets converted to glucose. And so you don’t need to eat sugar to get the glucose.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, and I think that’s where a lot of the confusion can lie.
Stuart Cooke: I think especially in energy and sports drinks and gels as well where people think that they need that added burst of sugar, which if I, just thinking back to my childhood day, I used to drink Lucozade, and I think that is one of the only drinks at the time that is glucose-based, right?
David Gillespie: That’s right. It’s only glucose-based. And it’s used for glucose tolerance tests even today in hospitals, because it’s the only drink you can use that is sweetened only with glucose. And so it’s a great sports drink because it’s only sweetened with glucose.
Stuart Cooke: Right. Perfect.
Stuart Cooke: So, your comments on fruit. So, I guess number one: Is fruit the enemy? Should be eating it? How much should we be eating?
David Gillespie: There’s no need to eat it. If you want to eat it, then treat it like what it is, which is nature’s dessert. So, you know, rare. You could have up to two whole pieces of fruit a day if you wanted to. Personally, I don’t eat any unless it’s offered to me. I don’t go out of my way to consume it. There’s nothing you can get in fruit that you can’t get in an equivalent vegetable without a whole lot less fructose.
But that being said, if you really like fruit, there’s no reason to not eat it. And if you’re going to eat fruit, then I’d veer toward things that are higher in fiber and lower in fructose such as all of the berries: raspberries, blueberries, strawberries. They’re all great choices and I’d steer away from things which are high in fructose and low in fiber like the three most popular fruits on sale in Australia today, which are: apples, bananas, and grapes.
So, those are the ones that I would be tending toward. But even there, have them. If you’re going to eat them as whole fruit, then go for it. If that’s your only source of fructose in a day, you’re not doing yourself any harm.
Stuart Cooke: OK. It’s amazing how your palate changes over time as well when you do eliminate sugar, because I used to devour bananas and now I can barely stomach them because they are so sweet.
David Gillespie: And that’s exactly right. I used to think bananas were the most boring fruit in the world. Completely tasteless, powdery fruit, why would anyone eat them? And now, you’re right, I have one and it’s like dessert to me. It is massively sweet. And so that palate changes is really an important part of knowing when you’re off sugar.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, absolutely. And I look at it exactly the same, you know. I like to think I’m on top of my nutrition and my food and I have a piece of fruit and I thoroughly enjoy it. But I generally don’t have 10 apples and a fruit juice in the morning.
David Gillespie: And if you did sit down and eat 10 apples, you wouldn’t be eating much else. You really wouldn’t. That’s a lot of fruit. But you could drink the juice of 10 apples very easily and still have a meal.
Guy Lawrence: That’s right. Absolutely. Yeah.
David Gillespie: So it’s only when we juice it; all juicing is really just extracting the sugar and throwing away everything else. There’s no reason to ever consume juice. It’s just soft drink.
Stuart Cooke: Another question I wanted to raise, because, you know, I follow Sarah Wilson’s blog as well, and saw an interview with you on there awhile back. I think it was an audio podcast. And there was just a stream of heated discussions afterwards with different people coming in, and arguments.
So I just wanted to raise, you know, where do the arguments lie, and why is there the critics out there that are against, basically, the whole fructose thing?
David Gillespie: This is very threatening to some very lucrative XXrulers of gold?XX. It’s a very threatening message. It is not called “white gold” for nothing. Processed food companies add sugar to food because they know it sells more with it. They don’t want to have to remove it. That’s why it’s not part of the accreditation for the Heart Foundation tick. It’s not even a criteria. They don’t even pay any attention to it at all. Because if they did, almost nothing would receive a tick.
So, the thing about sugar is that it moves a lot of product and there are a lot of people whose money depends on continuing to move that product. And those companies have put a lot of effort into muddying the water, into putting confusing science out there, to mounting clandestine lobbying.
And the process is almost identical to what the tobacco lobby undertook in the ’60s and ’70s. Almost identical. Sponsoring dubious science, having scientists on the payroll to do weird studies that if you design it just the right way it will come out showing that smoking’s all right. Recruiting; well, with smoking it was recruiting doctors. Now it’s more recruiting dieticians. But it’s the same basic plan.
Guy Lawrence: Well, certainly speaking for myself, you know, the moment I stopped putting sugar in my body I definitely noticed the difference. Even allergies went over time and things like that that I had before.
David Gillespie: Yeah. You’ll find most people report a whole series of things that are seemingly unrelated to sugar. And the interesting thing is, a lot of them can be traced back through sound biochemical processes to an explanation from fructose.
Some can’t. I still can’t explain why a lot of people report massive improvements in eczema. I don’t know why that is. But when people quite sugar, their eczema goes, even if they’ve had chronic eczema their entire life. It goes. And I don’t know what that is. I’ve looked and looked and looked. But, you know, that’s one that I can’t explain.
But a lot of them you can trace back biochemically to why they found it different.
Stuart Cooke: I got a question from Susie Lee, via our Facebook channel as well, and I think it relates a little bit to probably ourselves as well, or especially Guy and myself. Susie was wondering if you ever felt pressured into eating sugar. How do you avoid the awkward family gatherings where sugar is everywhere? Because I know the way that Guy and I, myself, present ourselves, sometimes we feel ostracized in the way that we behave in social gatherings.
David Gillespie: You know what? At the start, that was a problem. Now, obviously, the best way to fix that is write a book about it and then no one offers you sugar ever again. In fact, people tend not to eat sugar in your presence.
But, at the start, absolutely. And I found the easiest way to get around the awkwardness of it is to not make a fuss about. Just, you know, if there’s something you can eat, eat it. If there isn’t, don’t eat. Wait till you get home and find something to eat. Don’t make a big fuss about: “Oh, have you go something that hasn’t got sugar in it?” You know? Just pay attention and pretty quickly you just fit right in.
The people who find it most difficult, and this was me right at the start, is people who say, “I really wouldn’t mind; have you got a version of that without sugar?” And then people think you are a real pain.
Stuart Cooke: The awkward moments come, though. You can be at a birthday party or something and the cake comes ’round and I’m thinking, “If I eat this, I’m gonna have a stinkin’ headache later.” You know?
David Gillespie: You know, my strategy for that is: Find someone who’s still eating sugar and chop a bit off their piece of cake and have it just so that you can be part of it. You make a wish for the person and so on. And you’re not gonna eat the rest.
Stuart Cooke: Fair enough. We got another Facebook question that came in as well. It was: “I’d like to know what is worse: sugar or sweeteners and the use of macrosweeteners like honey, agave, dates, etcetera in cooking.” Are they OK or are they just heightening our tastes for more sugar?
David Gillespie: OK. So, honey and agave and, what was the other one? Dates? All of those sorts of things are just expensive ways to white sugar. So, you’re not changing anything by switching from sugar to honey. Honey is still half fructose. In fact, when sugar was first discovered, it was called “honey without bees.” Because the only kind of sugar we had before that was honey.
So, it’s; you’re not changing anything by switching to agave. Agave, dates, etcetera are about 60 to 70 percent fructose. So, those are not substitutes for sugar. They are sugar.
Other things, artificial sweeteners and such, are better-known for high-intensity sweeteners and you get into the whole artificial-natural debate. High-intensity sweeteners like stevia, sucralose, aspartame, things like Splenda and so on; those things are referred to as methadone for sugar addicts. So, they are great to get you off the addiction.
I developed quite a serious habit with artificially sweetened soft drinks while I was going through the withdrawal phase, which can last two to four weeks, or, in some people’s cases, even months.
And the interesting thing, though, is, as you were saying before, Stuart, about the palate change is that as you start to go though the withdrawal, those things become less and less appealing. And the reason for that is they start to taste less and less like sugar. At the start, they taste just like sugar. A barely detectable difference.
By the end of withdrawal, they start to taste very much like a chemical. And you find yourself really not enjoying it much at all. And I got to the point, probably around the three- or four-week mark, where I was having these things and thinking, “You know what? I think I’d rather just have a fizzy water than this stuff, because it’s just not tasting very nice.”
And so it’s not like I read the science and decided to not consume them. Because the science is a bit iffy either way. There’s plenty of science that says they’re perfectly safe. There’s plenty of science that says they’re not, depending on who’s paid for the study. If the sugar industry paid for it or the people making the substance paid for it.
But I prefer to take the view, you know, using it during withdrawal is not gonna kill you. And it does help you get through withdrawal.
Guy Lawrence: If someone walked up to you on the street and said, you know, I was a big sugar eater; should I go cold turkey or should I wean off it? What would you say to them?
David Gillespie: Look, I think weaning off is just pure torture. I think you’d have to have extraordinary reserves of willpower to be doing that. And what that would require is correctly identifying every bit of sugar in your diet and then systematically removing a percentage of it every day. Five percent, 10 percent, whatever, and ensuring that you stick to that.
To me, that would be torture. But that’s just me. Some people tell me that that’s exactly what they need and it worked great for them. Most people who are successful at this, though, tell me that the way they do it is they go cold turkey. And they just have a great big bin of all their favorite foods and then the next morning, they’re off. And they don’t go near it again until they no longer have the cravings.
And believe me, it is a withdrawal. It is very much like withdrawal from smoking. I have never smoked, so I can’t tell you from personal experience, but people who have given up smoking and given up sugar tell me the experience is almost identical. You can an intense period of cravings, you get the mood swings, you get the depression, you get the headaches. Except that with sugar, the cravings feel like hunger so that you are constantly hungry, or at least you think you are. But the reality is that you’re not. That’s just how your body knows to get you to eat sugar.
Stuart Cooke: And another question popped in regarding the sweetness. Coconut sugar. Have you done anything. . .
David Gillespie: It’s just sugar. Another way to spend a lot of money on sugar.
Stuart Cooke: Because I see that flying around a lot at the moment, coconut sugar, you know.
David Gillespie: Coconut everything. I mean, the only thing out of a coconut that is good is oil. And that’s an entirely different topic for another day.
Stuart Cooke: We won’t broach that right now.
We’d like to steer it over a little bit into children. Obviously, you’ve got a big clan. I’ve got three children too. So, I’m very interested in steering them on the right track. Do you have any recommendations, perhaps, for lunch boxes? Because lots of people struggle with this because of all of the kiddie snacks out there, I guess, with yoghurts, obviously fruit, raisins; little boxes of raisins, and sandwiches and the like. What would you recommend for a really simple child’s lunchbox?
David Gillespie: The first thing is that you are going to be almost; it’s almost impossible to buy pre-packaged anything for children that isn’t full of sugar. So, right away you’ve got a difficulty in that whatever you put in their lunchbox, you’re gonna be making. And the only choice for you is how much effort do you want to put into making it.
Now, I put out a recipe book earlier this year. And a lot of people said, “Why do you even need a recipe book if you’re off sugar? Surely you don’t even want cakes and stuff.” One of the big motivations for it is for kids’ lunchboxes. Kids still need stuff in their lunchboxes and so we created recipes just using dextrose, which is the glucose half of sugar. So, just glucose as the sweetener. And these are recipes for things like cake and biscuits and the things kids have in their lunchboxes.
And what Lizzie does, my wife, is make those; cook up a big batch of that sort of stuff on the weekends, cling-wrap portions of it, and freeze it. And then, when it comes to dealing out lunchboxes, she just reaches into the freezer and plunks it in.
And that’s the way to deal with. There really is no other efficient way to do it. The other thing you can do is just get really good at making sandwiches, putting whole fruit in there has obviously not changed. Put a banana in if you want. Just don’t put dried fruit, juices, or packaged processed food. And anything else goes.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, right. Because the thing is with kids is you’ve got same problem with adults with the parties and they’re gonna go to these things and sugar’s everywhere.
David Gillespie: Look, and there’s nothing you can do about that and nor should you try. I have a rule in this house which is: “Party food is for parties.” So, it’s not for every minute of every hour of every day. It’s for parties. And our kids go to parties with kids in their class and they’ll eat sugar and that’s just the way it is. But their exposure to sugar is infinitesimally small compared to all of their peers.
And the interesting thing is that if they do eat sugar, pig out at a party, they often come home with a hangover. And this really surprised me. And I’m not joking when I call it a hangover. It is like an adult with an alcohol hangover. They have headaches. They start saying things like, “Never again.” You know? Are really genuinely meaning it. Until the next time.
And it’s really interesting to watch. And also their capacity to eat it is also limited by the fact that they don’t eat it all the time.
Stuart Cooke: That is a good point. . . . I’ve got a little trick. I’ve got three girls and I give them a nice bowl of porridge before they go out the door so they’re not. . .
David Gillespie: That’s a good trick. I wish I’d thought of that. That is a good trick. Fill them up before they get there.
Stuart Cooke: Exactly right. Yeah. It does help.
I’ve got a few kind of miscellaneous questions as well. And I might jump into the top one, Guy, if you don’t mind.
Guy Lawrence: Go for it.
Stuart Cooke: Your thoughts on bread- and wheat-based products, given the high glycemic load.
David Gillespie: I don’t pay a lot of attention to glycemic index or glycemic load. I think they’re nonsense terms. I don’t think they’re helpful at all for anyone who’s not diabetic. And even for people who are diabetic, I’m not entirely certain they’re very helpful.
The way our body deals with carbohydrate is with a glycemic response. That is, we release insulin to use the glucose that’s in our blood. Now, the efficiency of that response is measured by the degree to which we’ve impaired our insulin response by consuming fructose.
So, yes, someone who has spent their entire life, like me, consuming fructose, has probably seriously damaged their glycemic response. And it may take a long time to repair that damage. And so you might want to be cautious about carbohydrates.
The interesting thing that I have found is, once you give up the sugar, carbohydrates are a far less enticing thing. You don’t find yourself craving carbs anywhere near as much as you did before. And that’s probably because there’s a lot of sugar addiction involved in the process.
I am working on research on the degree to which we should be worried about carbs, and even proteins like gluten that you find in bread, and fibers. And, ultimately, that will turn into a book, I suspect.
But for the moment, I would say: Do what most people do, which is break the addiction first. Break the addiction. Then you can start to make seriously sensible choices about what you choose to put in your mouth. Because one thing people who do break the addiction find is they fill up quickly. So, once they have a functioning appetite control system, they find themselves not able to eat anywhere near as much as they used to be able to get through. And I used to; I found that, too. You’d sit down to a meal that you previously would have knocked back, no worries at all, and you start getting a half or two-thirds of the way through and thinking, “Oh, I really can’t finish this. I’m really full.”
And that’s just your hormones working; your appetite control system working. And when that starts happening, people start saying, you know, with that happening, I’ve got to be really choosy about what I put in my mouth, because I know my appetite control system’s not gonna let me put that much of anything in my mouth. So, if I have this big slice of dextrose cake for afternoon tea or this big bit of cheesecake for afternoon tea, I know that I’m not gonna fit my dinner in. And then it’s a balance between what’s for dinner and do I really like it or do I prefer it over this piece of cake.
So, people find themselves starting to make choices about what they put in their mouth. And a lot of people start doing things like saying, “You know what? I just don’t get that much out of carbs anymore. And I find when I’m not eating them, I feel better. So I won’t eat them that much.”
Stuart Cooke: Would it be possible for our audience who may be a little confused just to kind of loosely run through what you might perhaps eat in a day.
David Gillespie: Sure. So, let’s talk about today. I started today, my 12-year-old boy very helpfully cooked me some bacon and eggs this morning. That was a nice bit of meal: bacon with all the fat still on and an egg. And then I’ve just had lunch, which was I some leftover mince on toast, basically. And the toast was sourdough bread that my wife made a day or two ago. Now, the reason she’s making bread is just to avoid the seed oils, which is a topic for another day. But it also helps you avoid sugar.
And for dinner; what will dinner be? Well, tonight it’s likely going to be some sort of pasta and meat sauce, I suspect.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, right, OK.
David Gillespie: That’s not our typical; that’s just because of Friday night. Normally it’s some sort of meat and veg kind of fare.
Stuart Cooke: Got it. OK.
Guy Lawrence: I have another question that popped in there and we haven’t got it down, only because I CrossFit. You know, I love my exercise. But from reading your books as well, you discuss the topic of weight loss and exercise and the relationship there.
I’d love you just to share your views on that, because, you know, from what I find, when I train more, my appetite goes up and I generally et more food and if I’m not careful I can eat the wrong foods, you know, and that’s what I’ve seen from my experience over the years, especially working as a fitness trainer. But I’d just love you to share that with us a little bit for people.
David Gillespie: Well, when you expend more calories doing anything, if you spend Saturday out in the yard working, whereas you normally sit at a desk, you’ll eat more on Saturday. Your body is a complex machine that measures the amount of energy you burn and the amount that you consume and make sure it stays in balance.
And the same goes for exercise. It doesn’t matter if you’re out mowing the lawn or doing exercise in a gym. If you burn more energy, your body will ask you to eat more food. In other words, it will increase your appetite. And that’s not a bad thing at all. That’s a perfectly good thing and perfectly normal thing.
The problem is when the appetite control system is broken, and that’s what fructose does. It messes with the hormones that control how much we eat. And it just knocks your system up, just a fraction, not much, just a tiny little bit, maybe a quarter of a Monte Carlo biscuit’s worth.
But you do that every day for years, end-on-end cumulatively, and you start to get the kind of weight gain that you are seeing in the Australian population.
Guy Lawrence: And so for anyone listening to this that’s thinking of putting their runners on tomorrow and going for a run, that eat sugar and fructose as well, they should be given the fructose up first. Which sounds. . .
David Gillespie: The thing about exercise, people think that I’ve got something against exercise. And I have nothing against exercise. Do it if you feel like it. And the reality is that since I’ve lost the weight, I feel like doing it a lot more than I did before. And a lot of people report that, which is after they lose the weight they exercise more than they ever did before. Not because of the weight; just because they feel like doing it more.
And so if you feel like doing it, if you really enjoy it, then keep doing it. If you’re doing it because you think you’ll lose weight doing it, don’t bother.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s fair enough. It’s funny because I train constantly. Most days. But I do it because I mentally feel fantastic after it, you know? That’s what drives me to do it.
David Gillespie: My 16-year-old boy, he’s a rower. He trains 40 hours a week. OK? He is an exercise nutbag. He does it because he loves it. Not because he wants to lose weight.
Guy Lawrence: That’s a good point.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right, and that’s kind of what we tell lots of people, too. There are so many benefits from cardiovascular. Feel good. It’s your own time as well. You’re there and you can process thoughts and get through anything that might be on your mind. But as a tool for weight loss, I do struggle to see the connection as well. But see what happens.
I’m just wondering about the future for David Gillespie at the moment. What does the future hold? You mentioned the possibility of another book? What’s in the pipeline?
David Gillespie: Well, one of the things that I’m doing at the moment is I’m really focusing on is, I put a book out earlier this year called Toxic Oil, which is about the dangers of vegetable oils. And by “dangers” I mean they are even more insidiously dangerous than the sugar. At least you can taste sugar. You can’t taste these oils, and they’re added to every food on the supermarket shelf.
And there’s clear evidence that they double the rate of cancer in humans. And when we’re seeing the phenomenal increase in rates of cancer that we’re currently seeing, it scares me. I know a lot of people now who have cancer, who are suffering from it. And I really want that message to get out there loud and clear.
So, I am focusing on that and I will focus on that in the immediate future.
Next year I have a book coming out on a completely unrelated topic, which I’ll reveal more about towards the end of the year. It’s nothing to do with nutrition. And we’ll see where go from there.
But as I said to you before, one of my areas of focus at the moment is the whole, I guess the “bread cortex,” if you want; the gluten, fiber, carb question. Are any of these things bad, good, indifferent for us?
Stuart Cooke: Definitely. I’ve just read a very interesting book about that, so I’d love for you to put your spin in the way that you write as well and research and resource. I’d be very interested.
David Gillespie: It is interesting.
Stuart Cooke: Oh, it is. It will stir up our household as well because I’ve been though Sweet Poison two or three times and Toxic Oil and our cupboard seems to be changing from month to month, and it’s a topic of discussion.
David Gillespie: Well, it’s probably going backwards in time. If you follow what I say in Toxic Oil, you’ll find yourself making most of what you eat and, really, your cupboard starting to consist of mostly raw ingredients.
Guy Lawrence: Exactly. You know, the one thing I wanted to add as well, because, you know, I’m single. I live by myself. And it’s very easy for me to, if I do shop, I can just get whatever. But once families are involved, you know, it’s amazing. And I’m sure that day will come for me and it’s gonna be a whole new challenge.
David Gillespie: You need a partner that’s going to help. People tell me it’s very, very difficult to go it alone on this, you know? Very difficult for you to just decide, “Well, I’m gonna do this,” and the rest of the family will just keep eating a normal, modern diet. That’s very difficult to do. So you need to have everybody working on the same page.
But, look, the good news is you’re not going to do yourself any harm at all by doing this, and you learn an amazing set of new skills. If you’d said to me, two years ago, “You are going to be cooking the only bread you eat,” I would have laughed at you. Because that sounded like way too much effort. But the reality is that that’s what we’re doing now. And the end result is we eat a lot less bread because if you’ve got to cook it yourself, you’re not gonna eat that much of it.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. We’re almost reconnecting with skills that have been lost along the way and we’re actually learning how to eat again.
David Gillespie: We’re also learning that it isn’t that hard. A lot of these things sound daunting if you’ve never done it. But once you have done it, you find it’s actually just not that hard.
Guy Lawrence: Any other questions?
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, I’m just gonna ask a little bit of a wrap-up question, really, and we ask all of our guests this and I’m guessing that I probably know the answer. But if you can offer a single piece of advice for optimum health and wellness, what would it be?
David Gillespie: Don’t eat sugar. But, look, if you really want to be super duper well and avoid just about every chronic disease in modern society, then don’t eat sugar or vegetable oil.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, right. OK. Perfect.
Guy Lawrence: Perfect answer.
Stuart Cooke: And for anybody that would like to get hold of your books or find more about the resource, where can they connect with you?
David Gillespie: Well, look, if they want my books, they go to a bookstore. My books will be available just about anyplace that sells books. If they want the books signed by me, they can buy them from my website, but they’re a lot more expensive that way. If you don’t care, then your average bookstore or supermarket is a good place.
If you want to connect with a community of people who are like-minded, then the very best place is the Facebook page Sweet Poison, which I think has 49,000 people on it. And they are all gung-ho. Get on there with any question; they’ll answer it, and if they can’t, I will.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, fantastic. I went through the forums the other day and I was surprised at the amount of engagement in there. The numbers are voluminous, and it’s a really community as well. Fantastic.
David Gillespie: And very knowledgeable. I mean, these people know their stuff. You know, people put stuff up on Facebook. . . I check it every day to see if there’s anything getting missed or where people are not getting the answers that they need and that almost never happens. Everyone else is already well and truly there and giving them everything they need to know.
Stuart Cooke: Fantastic. You’re making a lot of people aware of what they should be putting in their mouth, David, which is a great thing.
Guy Lawrence: OK. All right. Well, look, thank you so much for sharing your time and also writing these great books as well. And we hope to have you back on the show in the not-too-distant future talking about the oils.
“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.