Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
Guy: I’m sure we can all relate to this… You’re starving hungry, you have no food and you’re stuck in an airport or the city and all you have to choose from is the food court! With a few tweaks and a bit of insider knowledge, you’ll be amazed at what meal you can whip up to get you out of trouble. The key is to know what NOT to eat in this situation.
I have to admit, I was SHOCKED to find out what some of the cafe owners get up to in the pursuit of making their food tasty. But with the nuggets of info’ in this weeks 2 minute gem above you can easily avoid the pitfalls of the food courts and make better meal choices…
Today we welcome entrepreneur, health and fitness enthusiast and top bloke Josh Sparks. Josh is the founder of the hugely successful Thr1ve cafe/restaurant chain, which can be found in most CBD food courts. In a nutshell they make real food, real fast, and it is a place I actively seek out to dine at when I’m in the neighbourhood.
Stu and I had a huge amount of fun with this podcast as we tap into Josh’s wealth of experience when it comes to the food industry, his own personal journey and paleo discoveries and how he stays on top of his own health with his very hectic lifestyle!
Trust me, after listening to this podcast you will be inspired to take action on whatever your own goals or endeavours are :)
Full Interview: Life’s Lessons to Look Feel Perform & Thrive
In This Episode:
The biggest lessons he’s learned since cleaning up his diet
How to navigate your way around a food court to make healthy choices
His daily routines and how he stays in great shape!
Why he enjoys being bad at meditation
What stress and your life’s purpose have in common
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence at 180 Nutrition and welcome to today’s Health Sessions. I’ve been very much looking forward to today’s guest, because it’s safe to say he is a entrepreneur, but not only that, a very healthy one.
You know, from myself and Stu’s experience in developing and running 180, it’s all well and good us doing podcasts, creating posts, developing new products and all the rest of it. But it can become very stressful and we have to look after our own health at the same time and it can actually be very challenging sometimes.
So, I was very keen to pick today’s guest’s brains, because he does a very good job of that. His name is Josh Sparks and he is the founder of the THR1VE cafeteria chain here in Australia.
Now, if you’re not aware of the THR1VE cafeteria chain, in a nutshell, they do real food, real fast. And if you’re in most CBDs in Australia you can go into a THR1VE café and actually have a really great meal. It’s one of the places that I will seek out and find when I’m in the city, no matter which one it is here in Australia.
You know, Josh’s background; it’s basically 14 years in high-growth leadership roles as CEO in the fashion industry, mainly, of sass & bide, managing director from Urban Outfitters and CEO of Thom Browne in New York, as well.
Whopping amounts of experience, but then he’s gone and taken that and started to develop his own cafeteria chain, which is what we talked to him about today.
He says now he’s been eating, moves and recovers according to the ancestral health principles now for all the last five years and he’s probably fitter and stronger than he was 20 years ago. More importantly what he does stress as well is that his blood markers of health were improved dramatically as well.
So, Josh was consistently astounded, you could say, by the lack of authentic healthy dinning in top areas within the CBDs. So, he helped and did something about it and has created a very, very successful brand about it.
We get to talk about all them things. His own health journey and even what goes on in the food courts, which there were some things he said in there that is quite shocking what can go on.
So, we delve into all of them things, which is fantastic. So, I’m sure you’re going to enjoy.
Now, last but not least, you may be aware that we are, yes, we are live in the USA. So, for all you guys in America that are listening to this podcast, 180 Super Food, you can get your hands on it. You just need to go to 180nutrition.com.
If you’re unsure what it really is; I always tell people it’s a convenient way to replace bad foods, really quickly. So, I generally have a smoothie; I can mix it with a bit of water or coconut water, if I’ve been training, some berries and I normally put a bit of avocado and I make a smoothie. Especially if I’m out and about, going into meetings in the city or whatever and I know I’m stretched from time I will make a big liter of it and sip on it and it gets me through to my next meal.
So, yeah, you can do that. Go over to 180nutrition.com and check it out.
Anyway, let’s go over to Josh and enjoy today’s show. Thanks.
Guy Lawrence: All right. I always get this little turn every time. Anyway …
Hey, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke. Hey, Stewie!
Stuart Cooke: Hello, buddy.
Guy Lawrence: And our awesome guest today is Josh Sparks. Josh, welcome to the show.
Josh Sparks: Thanks guys. Thanks for having me.
Guy Lawrence: Now, look, very excited, mate. I think today’s topics are going to be great. We’re going to certainly want to cover a few things, especially like bringing Mr. Paleo Primal himself over, Mark Sisson, earlier in the year for the THR1VE symposium; which was awesome, by the way.
Josh Sparks: Oh, great.
Guy Lawrence: And of course the THR1VE brand itself and how you’ve taken the food courts kind of head on with the THR1VE cafeteria chain. So, there’ll be lots to discuss, mate, so, very much looking forward to it.
Josh Sparks: I’m excited to be here.
Guy Lawrence: So, before all that, we get into those subjects, what did you used to do before you got in the health industry?
Josh Sparks: Before I did THR1VE?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: So, my journey has been a fairly interesting one. I studied law and I worked very briefly in mergers and acquisitions law and decided, as I think many young lawyers do, that law school is not the same as being a lawyer and got out of that fairly promptly.
And then for the bulk of my career, the last 15 years prior to THR1VE, I was in various fashion businesses. So, all retail, I guess THR1VE is a retail, but fashion and lifestyle focus, never food.
So, I was the first CEO of sass & bide, which is an Australian women’s label that some of your listeners may be familiar with. And then I moved to the U.S. and became the CEO of Thom Browne of New York, which is a men’s line in New York. And then I moved to Philadelphia and ran the ecommerce business at Anthropologie, which is part of the Urban Outfitters group.
So, all fashion; tons of fun. You know, the really interesting thing about fashion and I think how it relates to what you guys are doing, and what I’m doing, what any of us are trying to strike out on our own and create a brand is that within the fashion industry what you’re really doing is storytelling. You’re building brands around what is otherwise largely a commodity product. The $30 jeans use the same denim as the $200 jeans.
So, it’s really about the creativity you can bring to the design and the creativity you can bring to the storytelling to really set it apart. So, I think that that’s what I loved about the fashion industry.
On the flip side my personal passion, really my whole life, has been around health and wellness. Every since I was a high school and college athlete, I’ve always been particularly interested in the intersection of training modalities, training methodologies and nutrition and how to best support each and really ultimately the synergy between the two.
But as I got older, while I was doing all this fashion stuff, I think I experienced what so many of us do and I started to … my body wasn’t responding quite the way I wanted and my thinking that you could steer the ship through exercise started to be challenged by the evidence that confronted me in the mirror every morning and on the scales and in the gym and I just wasn’t performing or looking or feeling quite as I did.
So, I started to explore the nutrition side much more actively. Until then, I think like a lot of guys in their 20s and early 30s, it’s much more about training for a while, or at least it was for me and perhaps my generation.
But as I started to explore nutrition, like you guys and like so many in our community, I discovered ancestral health templates. So the Paleo, the Primal, the Weston A Price and started to experiment with reducing processed foods. I mean, it sounds crazy now that this was an experiment, but reducing processed foods, reducing our processed carbs in particular, amping up the veggies. It’s just so incredibly obvious now, but at the time it was a revelation.
So, as I was professionally developing the skill set around branding and marketing and communications and running businesses here and in the U.S., personally I was having this journey of discovery, this very exciting revelation around what we eat and how profoundly it impacts how we feel and perform, whether it’s physically in the gym or whether it’s mentally and emotionally at work, in our relationships, or whatever.
So, it’s really … I guess I just had this light bulb moment of, “How do I connect the two?” This professional experience that I’ve had, what I’ve loved, around the fashion industry with what is a much deeper personal passion to me than the fashion space and that is health and wellness.
And to cut a very long story short, that’s how I came to develop the idea for THR1VE.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right. How long ago was that, Josh?
Josh Sparks: So, I moved back from the U.S. in 2011 and I started working on … I came back and I was consulting in the fashion space here in Australia, in Sydney and Melbourne to Just Group and Gisele and M. J. Bale and a bunch of different brands. And I was doing that really to save money to do my own thing, to do my own brand.
So, I started working on business plans for THR1VE. It would be unrecognizable to you, knowing THR1VE today. My first two business plans were terrible and it was going to be a one-off restaurant. Then it was going to be a home delivery meal system. Then it was going to be a supplement line and then it was going to be … and I didn’t know what I was doing and I was so all over the place. And then I really came back to focus on what I know and love best, which is this premium consumer retail, effectively.
Which in Australia, for food, that is either food courts or one-off cafes and restaurants, and I decided I didn’t want to do a one-off for a number of reasons. But probably most importantly, I wanted to reach as many people as possible. And the café and restaurant scene in Australia is pretty good. You can get some really healthy, yummy meals in a whole bunch of cafes and restaurants in Australia. Even in small town Australia now, you can get some pretty good food in cafes and restaurants.
But the food court, whether it’s in a mall or in an airport or strip retail, you know, a cluster of food outlets in strip retail. Pretty average. Predominately processed, 70 to 80 percent carbohydrates. You know, you walk into a food court; it’s just all carbs. All processed carbs. You know, its bread and pasta and sugar and all sorts of stuff that we know we could probably benefit from eating a lot less of.
So, I saw it as the area of greatest opportunity and the area of greatest need and thus THR1VE became, through multiple business plans, a food court focused retail offer.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: How long did that process take, Josh, just thinking from your sketches to the day of opening?
Josh Sparks: Yeah, it took a little while, Stu. So, late 2011 I was really actively working on it. I had registered the name and I had settled on broadly what I wanted to do. But we didn’t open the first store until late 2012. So, it was over a year of very focused work here where I settled on THR1VE. I settled on the fact that it was going to be a retail location and I was out talking to landlords and prior to that … I mean, I started working on a business along these lines probably about seven or eight years ago, when I first read Loren Cordain’s stuff.
But that was when I was still in the U.S., I was in Philly, and at that point I was thinking about doing a sort of gym and café combo, where it was going to be a sort of a high-end personal training only gym with sort of a café/restaurant attached to it. Which sounds great, but I never would have been able to pull it off, because I’m not a PT. It just was doomed to go nowhere.
So, how long did it take to really take shape? It took years and years and years of very focused work around the idea of THR1VE as vaguely recognizable as it is today. I was a good 12 months of just hitting the pavement and talking to landlords and pitching it to staff. I mean, no one wanted to know about it. I had a huge amount of difficulty convincing a landlord to give me a location.
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Stuart Cooke: Really?
Josh Sparks: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Why do you think that is? Just the whole idea?
Josh Sparks: It’s very easy for us to forget that even in 2011, late 2011 when I first started talking to landlords, no one had heard of paleo or primal. I mean, there wasn’t … it was … the subject; we were so niche. I mean, it was a very small subset of the market and I probably still at that point was being a little bit purest about it as well.
So, when I was talking to landlords, I was probably sounding a little evangelical and a little dogmatic and probably a little bit crazy. And so, I kept having this look, “You know, you seem to have done OK with these fashion brands and you had a bit of success and maybe you should stick to that.”
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: “And I don’t know if food court really wants healthy food.”
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Josh Sparks: “And we’ve got salads. So, what else do we need?”
Stuart Cooke: Sure.
Josh Sparks: And, “Yeah, we’ve got a Japanese operator. So we’ve got health covered.”
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right.
Josh Sparks: It was these sorts of conversations. I think it was, even just three or four years ago it was considered a bit ahead of its time and in branding, any sort of branding, whether it’s fashion, whether it’s lifestyle, whether it’s automotive, whether it’s what you guys do. Whatever it is, you want to be ahead enough of the curve to capture some mind shares, some early mind shares. At the same time it’s very easy to go broke if you’re too far ahead of the curve.
And it’s just finding that sweet spot and the feedback I was getting landlords was that I was to far ahead of the curve.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right.
Josh Sparks: And my sense was not at all. This is; we’re at a the tipping point here. This is going to go mainstream in the next couple of years. And it might not be called paleo and it might not be called primal. It might not be call ancestral health. It might not be called THR1VE. But this way of eating, this awareness of just how profound the impact is on how you look, feel, and perform when you eat differently, that’s right at the tipping point. You know, the obesity levels and the Type 2 diabetes level and the fact that Medicare is publicly funded and it’s just unaffordable for us to continue to pay for bad lifestyle choices. Whether it’s smoking or whether it’s excess sugar. So, I felt that we were just at a bit of a tipping point, but it was very challenging to convince people around me, whether they were landlords or investors or potential employees, that I wasn’t completely crazy.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. I’m curious, right? Just a thought came in, because I’m always fascinated by everyone’s journeys, was it a particular niche; tipping point or something that happened in your own life? Because I know you’re saying that you were starting to put on weight and things like that, but was there an “aha” moment where you’ve got to go, “Right. I’m going to cut out the process foods. I’m going to change my lifestyle.”
Josh Sparks: So, I think, there’s two. For me personally it was recognizing that I just, I wasn’t happy. And it started off for me with a sense of, you know, emotional well-being suffering.
And it wasn’t so much, because I didn’t get huge, I’m naturally pretty skinny and even when I … I sort of the skinny fat guy. If I’m out of shape, I get skinny-fat. Like, I don’t get a huge gut.
I just don’t … I lose tone. I lose strength. I lose all those physical markers of health, the objective physical markers of health.
This was more subjective to answer your question, Guy. I just wasn’t feeling great.
Guy Lawrence: Yup.
Josh Sparks: And so, it led me to an exploration, “Look, am I drinking too much? Is it something I’m allergic to? Is there something in my diet that’s problematic?”
I stopped drinking completely. I cut out sugar. I started cutting out processed foods. That led me on a journey around fat. I started upping my Omega-3 intake.
But all those things really started for me around a sense of emotional health, not being as good as it could be. I wasn’t depressed. It wasn’t that acute. I just didn’t feel great anymore and I was used to feeling so motivated and so energetic. It was really sad to think, “God, is this aging? Is this normal? Am I meant to feel this way?”
Stuart Cooke: It just sounds like you weren’t thriving, Josh.
Josh Sparks: Thank you very much. I’m glad we got that in there. It’s very fine of you.
Guy Lawrence: So, back to THR1VE, right? And I really want to put this question: like, how would compete against now, like the Subways of this world? Because they’ve got “healthy food” marketing, that’s getting bombarded and the food court’s littered with it.
Josh Sparks: Yeah. Look, I think it’s a really great question. So, there’s two things. One: I think the use of the word “health” is becoming as ubiquitous as the use of the word “green” was about 10 years ago. You know, like, Chevron and Shell were running ads about how “green” they were. It’s like, “OK. Where are we on this ‘green’ thing?” And I think we’re in the same place with everyone’s claiming to be “healthy.”
So, first of all I think there is … that that’s going to lead to a certain level of backlash and I think consumers are already starting to become aware that they’re being hoodwinked with marketing. And great marketers are really good at what they are doing.
So, there’s health messages that are overt and there’s a whole bunch that are much more subtle and nuanced, but they’re rife throughout the food industry; whether it’s retail or wholesale or supermarket, wherever.
So, I think there’s going to be a little bit of a backlash and a little bit of growing skepticism, which I’m hoping will lead to my next point, which is: ask the follow-up questions.
So, yeah, I think whether it’s the press or whether it’s us as consumers, we’re terrible at asking the follow-up questions.
“So, great. You’re healthy.” What is healthy? Define healthy to me? You know, what is your paradigm of health? What protocol do you subscribe to? And that can lead to some really interesting conservations, because we see … I used to go … I read this and I must admit that I read this in a Playboy magazine, which I was reading for the articles when I was about 28 or 29 or so …
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Josh Sparks: And it was the first time I’d ever read about Paul Chek. It was actually an interview with Paul Chek in Playboy, of all places. And Paul Chek was talking about the fact that he’d been interviewed on TV and he got into this head-to-head around diet with a, I guess what we’ll call a conventional dietitian or a nutritionist who was stuck on the U.S. food pyramid, which is very similar to our recommendations.
Stuart Cooke: Yup.
Josh Sparks: Anyway, he obviously lost patient with the process at some point and he said, “Listen, do you subscribe to … everything you just espoused, your so-called philosophy of eating, do you subscribe to this a hundred percent in your own life?” And this guy’s, “Yeah. Absolutely.” And he’s like, “Great! Take off your shirt and I’ll take off my shirt.”
And it was just this kind of moment of: OK. So, if this is really working for you, do you look, feel and perform exactly how you want? And if you do, well, let’s see it. Come on. Let’s get this on.
And I thought, OK, it’s a little bit crass. I don’t think it would work on Australian TV. But at the same time I really respected the kind of cut through the B.S.
If you claim to be healthy, give us a sense of what that actually means and hopefully you’ve thought about it enough to have some kind of protocol, some kind of framework that you’re working within. And then is it working for you? And give us some sense of that. You know, “I came from here to here; it’s backed up by bloodwork.” Or, you know, I’ve lost a ton of weight and I know it’s fat, it’s not water or muscle because I did a DEXA scan before and after.
Give us some evidence, you know. Not this kind of fluffy, “healthy” thing.
Guy Lawrence: It’s interesting that you say that, because I worked as a PT for a long time and I would do … I must have … no exaggeration, sat in from the thousand of people, right? Doing consultations and the first thing I would do was ask them, “Do you eat healthy?” I mean, we do that even with our clean eating workshops we’ve been doing with CrossFit, right?
Josh Sparks: Right.
Guy Lawrence: And nine times out of 10 they, go, “Well, yeah. Yeah, I eat pretty healthy.” I go, “Great. Let’s write down what you just ate for the last 48 hours.” Right?
Josh Sparks: Right.
Guy Lawrence: And then once they start doing that there’s two things that generally happen. One: they actually, genuinely think they they’re eating healthy, but I look at it and go, “Oh shit. That’s not healthy.”
Josh Sparks: Yeah. You might have something there.
Guy Lawrence: Or two: they’ve just sort of been in denial. They go, “OK. Maybe I could improve a little bit.” and stuff like that. When you get down to that detail, but we just don’t. It’s human nature.
Josh Sparks: It is human nature. There’s a great stat where I counted it as 92 or 93 percent of male drivers think they’re better than average. So, it’s like, we are great at doing nothing. We are great at deluding ourselves, right?
So, when you have an objective check, someone like you, when you’re sitting in front of them and you’re forcing them to actually go through it, there’s nothing more powerful than documenting a food diary or training log, you know, “Because I’m training hard.” and you kind of look back at what actually you know, “I’m been a complete wuss.”
And it’s the same thing with a food diary. We don’t encourage things like obsessive diarization or cataloging or counting calories or measuring food. We don’t focus on that at all.
But the point that you just made, a point in time gut check, no pun intended, on “How am I eating?” and “Is this truly healthy,” and “Do you even know what healthy is?” And then engaging with the right kind of advices to give you some options and some alternatives.
And so, I think for me, whether you … whatever you call it: paleo, primal, ancestral health, whatever, I’m not really stuck on the labels. In fact, I think the labels can be extremely damaging because we can get a little bit dogmatic around that.
So, setting aside this specific label, what I want to know is whoever is claiming to provide their customers with healthy food and their customers are trusting them. I mean, that’s a relationship of mutual trust and confidence. It’s an important relationship. It should be respected.
Are they lying to them? Or have they actually put some energy into documenting what they believe and have some evidence to back it up? And then have they … again, another follow-up question … have they audited their supply chain? Is there sugar being snuck in the products? Are there bad oils being snuck in the products?
You know if you go around the food court, you would be staggered by … the Japanese operators add processed sugar to the rice. Many of the Mexican operators, not all of them, but many of the Mexican operators add table sugar to their rice.
Now, why do they do that? Because they tested it with customers and surprise, surprise, customers preferred the rice with sugar.
Stuart Cooke: Right. Yeah.
Josh Sparks: So, it’s great that we’re talking about health. I mean, on the one hand, let’s be positive and celebrate the fact that at least it’s a topic of conversation in the food court, which five, 10 years ago, you know, not so much. Certainly 10 years ago.
On the flip side, now that we’re talking about it, let’s have an intelligent conversation about it and let’s ask a couple of follow-up questions. And then we can make an informed decision where your version of health, Mr. Vegan, is right for me or not right for me. And your version, Mr. Salad Man, is right for me or not right for me.
So, that’s what we’re trying to encourage at THR1VE. You take that discussion further.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Awesome.
Stuart Cooke: Fantastic. Well, first up Guy, I think, it’s only right that we perform these podcasts in the future without our tops on. OK? That’s a given. We’re going to do that. It won’t start today.
So, just thinking, Josh, if you can’t access, you know, THR1VE in the food courts around here, how would you navigate the food courts? And I’m just thinking in terms of our customers who might think, “Well, sushi is the best option out there.” When we’re looking at the likes of the Chinese and the kabobs, and the McDonald’s and all the other kind of footlong gluten rolls or whatever they are. What do you do?
Josh Sparks: Footlong gluten roll.
Stuart Cooke: I’ve just sold it. I used to work in marketing don’t you know.
Josh Sparks: That’s a marketing winner, I reckon.
Stuart Cooke: No one’s thought of it.
Josh Sparks: It’s a really good question and I think that, I mean, we’ve got six stores, we’ll have nine or 10 opened in another nine or 12 months. So, we are not everywhere, sadly. In fact, if you go Australia-wide, there’s not enough places where you can find THR1VE or something like THR1VE.
So, to answer your question, I think you’ve got a few options. You’ve got … most salad operators will have a range of salads that don’t include the added pasta and the added grains. And I’m not terribly concerned about gluten-free grains as long as I know that … you know, it’s such a difficult question to answer diplomatically, but I’ll give you a version.
So, most salad places will have something for you. Most of the proteins in the less expensive salad joints are not … they’re reprocessed proteins. So, they’re reconstructed proteins.
So, they’re by no means great and there tends to be sugar and gluten snuck into those products. It gives them better form and it gives them better preservation and what not. But it’s not going to kill you, once in a while.
With respect to the Japanese operators, if you go for sashimi you’re pretty safe. Be conscious with the rice, as I mentioned before. But again, I’m not anti-rice by any stretch, but I don’t want table sugar added to my rice. So, I probably tend to avoid it in most of the Japanese operators. Unless they can tell me, and I believe them, that they’re not adding sugar to their rice. But that’s sticky rice. Traditionally prepared, they don’t use sugar. They use a specific kind of rice. But in most food operators there is sugar added to it.
Mexican operators, if you go without the bread, without the corn chips, without the processed carbs. And again, I’m persuaded that lentils are not the end of the world and beans aren’t the end of the world.
I’ve read a whole bunch of interesting stuff on that recently, particularly after Mark Sisson came out at the THR1VE Me Conference in March and said that he was reading a lot of evidence that legumes in small amounts occasionally can actually be beneficial to gut flora and so on and so forth.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Absolutely.
Josh Sparks: So, Mexican operators, if you go for kind of the beans and the guac and the salsa and the meats, maybe skip the rice if you’re having the beans. You probably don’t need a double hit. But maybe you do, if you just worked out.
So, what I do is I look those operators with brands that I trust. I prefer to feel that there’s some integrity in the supply chain. And to a certain extent I find, and it’s a terrible term, but the idea that it’s reassuringly expensive is not always true, but if you go to some of those really sort of dirty café, you know, greasy spoon type operators and you can get a bacon and egg roll for three bucks. Not that I have the roll anyway. But you can pretty well be sure that that bacon and that egg is not going to live up to your standards. It’s probably not the sort that you would have at home.
So, I prefer probably going to the more premium ends of the operators in the food court. Taking my; you mentioned the kebob operator, so in a pinch you can get on a plate, you can get the meat and you can get the salad and you can ask for extra salad, now I normally put some avocado on it and just skip the bread.
Now, I wouldn’t do that unless there was no alternative. But I think that’s a hell of a lot better than having a burger or a XX 0:26:09.000 dirty pieXX or whatever.
So, I think it’s more about … for me the simple rule is, it’s more about what you take out and if you can remove the processed sugars and the processed carbs as much as possible, then you’re going to be left with something that is relatively benign, if you are indulging in it occasionally.
Stuart Cooke: Yup.
Josh Sparks: If you’re having it every day, then you’ve probably got to take it a little bit further and say, “Well, if this is processed chicken, what did they process it with? If this is reconstructed chicken, what else did they put into it? What oils have they used in this salad dressing? What oils do they cook in?”
But you’re getting down to some lower dimension returns on that stuff. It makes a ton of sense if you’re doing it every day. So, if you’re doing it every meal, but if you’re doing it once every two weeks because you’re stuck in an airport and you’ve got no alternative, I would say don’t sweat it.
Guy Lawrence: A hundred percent. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Exactly.
Josh Sparks: There’s also all that stuff about hermetic stressors right? Which I’m just fascinated by and the idea that you can go too clean and all the stuff that Robb Wolf has done around Special Forces.
They go back to base. They eat 100 percent strictly extremely clean, because they’re allowed to. And they’re cooking for themselves and they’re eating off-base. They’re not eating in the cafeteria, etc., etc.
They then go on to deployment and they’ve got to eat these MRAs that are just horrendous. Because they’re packaged for stability and shelf life, not for the kind of nutritional profile that we would look for. And these guys are getting really sick for the first two days on deployment. And if you’re sent out on some sort of Special Forces mission, you don’t want to spend two days over the toilet when you just landed in enemy territory or whatever.
So, the idea is to … I think, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence. And don’t sweat the occasional toxin, you know, in strict sort of paleo/primal sense. But eat clean as much as you can. And then don’t worry about it too much. If you find yourself stuck eating a salad that’s probably used vegetable oil and they’ve added sugar to the dressing, I say don’t sweat it too much.
Stuart Cooke: I think so and also you can switch on stress hormones by sweating it too much.
Josh Sparks: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: And seriously that can be just as harmful as the food that you eat.
Josh Sparks: That’s so true.
Guy Lawrence: Do you … you talked about the other cafes and food courts, right? And their owners putting sugar in the rice and they’re using different oils. Do you think they’re even aware that they’re doing things that could be damaging to health? Or do you think it just not even on their radar and it’s just purely business perspective and they just think they’re doing the right thing?
Josh Sparks: Yeah. It’s a really good question. I don’t think … I don’t think … I would love to think that there is no malice involved.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: You know, I think it is a genuine desire to please customers and maximize sales. And most of these guys, certainly the big brands, have done blind taste testing and they know that customers prefer high sugar.
Now, the customer doesn’t know that rice “A” has no sugar and therefore is going to taste very bland on its own and rice “B” has added sugar. They just know that rice “B” tastes a whole lot better and, “I’m not quite sure why, but it’s great!”
So, I think they’re doing this testing and it’s revealing that there’s a certain level of sugar … these days we’re so detuned; our tastes is so detuned to sugar now, because it’s everywhere, Certain level of sugar is almost necessary, particularly if the food is otherwise rather bland.
And then in terms of oil, I mean, we spend a fortune on oils. Oils for most of our competitors are … it’s a rounding item. They’re getting 20 liters for $8 or less. Fifteen liters for $15 and these are industrial oils that are mass produced and, we know, problematic for a whole bunch reasons.
So, that’s not a taste issue. Because the average consumer, once its mixed up and it’s cooked and it’s got a sauce on it on and a side, you can’t tell whether it’s canola oil or whether its macadamia oil at that point. Most of us can’t, you know. The truth is, we just can’t tell.
However, my competitors have got an extra 4 percent in gross margin, because they spent a lot less on oil.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
So, I think that there’s two decisions being made here. One is around taste and the other one is around the economics.
Australia’s such a high-cost market for what we do and our rents are near world highest. Our food costs a near world highest. And our hourly rates are the highest in the world for causal workers.
So, there’s a real scramble on to work out, well, how do we make this thing profitable? And when you’ve got something like oil costing 10 times as much, it’s an easy decision I think for a lot of operators. But I don’t think it’s malice. I think it’s pleasing customers and survival.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.. I wonder if they’re actually, genuinely aware. It’s the brands I get frustrated with, because obviously, like you said, the paleo movement and primal and health are more on people’s radars now and we’re seeing more health brands coming onto the market. But then I’m looking at what they’re selling and I’m like, “ugh!” They’re just, they know they aren’t doing the right thing right here.
Josh Sparks: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: That’s where it can get frustrating.
Josh Sparks: It is frustrating and I think, you know, on the flip side I guess, Guy, it’s capitalism, right? And that is what a large percentage of the market wants.
It’s like McDonald’s, when they first started doing salads, they don’t sell any salads, it just makes you feel better about walking into McDonald’s. So, you’ll tell your friends that you went to get the salad, but they end up buying a cheeseburger.
So, I think that there is … most people think that they want health, until they’re given the choice at the counter.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: And so, some of our competitors feel, competitors broadly defined, have a really good salad offer, for example, but they also do sandwiches on this incredibly thick ciabatta bread. It ends up being about 70 percent processed carbohydrates.
And you see it all the time. Like, people get up to the counter and that thing being toasted, that sandwich being toasted that smells amazing or you can have the healthy salad and willpower seems to come off.
So, I think there’s always going to be a percentage of the market that says they want to be healthy but don’t really mean it. But what we’re trying to do is encourage those that say they want to be healthy and actually, genuinely want to be healthy and are prepared to make decisions on that basis. We want to give them something that they trust that there’s been real effort into creating a meal and auditing the supply change around it.
Stuart Cooke: Got it.
Josh Sparks: But it is frustrating for us, because we’re being undercut by … you know, we are not the cheapest source of calories in the food court. We don’t use the processed crappy food that is cheap. Processed carbs are cheap, right?
Guy Lawrence: Oh, yeah.
Josh Sparks: So, it’s frustrating for us when someone slaps a whole bunch of nice images of seasonal food across a poster and splashes: “This season’s local produce. Healthy this. Healthy that.” And we know that 79/80 percent of their salad is processed food.
It is frustrating, but at the same time I think it fires us up. Like it makes us … it puts a bit of fire in our belly, because it means that we’ve got to get smarter about how we’re communicating. That not only are we healthy, but there is a follow-up question and please ask us, because we’d love to tell you. We’re going to get smarter and smarter in that conversation.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Brilliant
Stuart Cooke: Excellent.
Now, when I was younger, much younger than I am now, going through college. I worked in England for a very large supermarket chain. And I used to do the evening shift. So, you know, we’d get rid of the customers and we’d tidy up and we’d attend to waste.
So, food wastage, it was unreal. Now, I’m talking big supermarket chain. So, it was Sainsbury’s. I don’t know whether you’re familiar with that brand.
Josh Sparks: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: So, I worked on the produce, the produce section, and occasionally the bakery. And every night we would just fill up probably three or four of these huge wheely bins of donuts and cakes and pies and pastries and all this kind of wonderful fruit, that just kind of past its cosmetic expiry date.
At the time, being a young guy, we used to eat donuts and you know, “You can eat a couple of donuts, guys, before you throw them.” And that was awesome, at the time. But it did open my eyes to: boy that is huge, huge, huge amounts of waste and on a global scale, as well.
Now, I was listening to a podcast the other day about food wastage with you guys and I thought you had some really neat policies. So, I wondered it you could share that with our audience, please.
Josh Sparks: Why sure. So, thanks for asking and I completely agree with you. It’s just I find it horrendous to think about the amount of waste.
So, what we do is twofold. One: we minimize what; we’re incredibly focused on developing systems and processes to minimize our waste. So, we’ve actually engaged a bunch of consultants and we’ve developed a system in-house that, they call them “build to’s” and this is all new to me, right? Because this is not fashion terminology.
So, there’s sort of “build to’s” each day in terms of the amount of stock that’s being prepared. And it’s based on a history of sales. Like-for-like sales.
So, Thursday’s today. What did we do last Thursday? What did we do Thursday before? It’s summer. It’s winter. It’s sunny. It’s not sunny. There’s a bunch of variables that we look at and really dial in what’s been what’s being prepped.
Typically that means we actually run out towards the end of the lunch rush and we’re normally open for another couple of hours beyond that. So, if that happens and that’s the ideal, after the lunch rush we actually prep to order. So, it means you order what takes takes two and a half to three minutes; that is our objective. It will take four to five minutes, but if you’re happy to wait that, you know, mid-afternoon, then it means that we don’t have any waste in those key products at all.
Now, having said that, we’re very rarely perfect, because the day’s never predictable and it’s extremely rare that we aren’t left with something in some ingredients.
So, we’ve got certain things right. We under cooked, we under cut some and then we did too much of others.
So, then we work with OzHarvest and they’re basically a group that collects food on a day-to-day basis, from a bunch of food operators actually, and provide them to the homeless.
So, our raw ingredients end up going into the raw ingredients for things like soup kitchens, to prepare their own food. And our prepped, ready-to-go food, is literally just given as a meal to the homeless.
You know, I had this very funny interaction not long ago, I guess it was about a year ago, in our store at Martin Place in Sydney, there used to … it’s not anymore, it’s just been refurbished … there used to be a little bench just outside the store.
I used to do all my meetings there, because we still don’t have an office, like I’m doing this from home, you know, we’re a small business. So, I was kind of using this as my desk. And I was meeting with my general manager and this guy came over, he was obviously homeless. I mean, he had an old sleeping bag around him. He had the big beard and the crazy hair. He looked like he was sleeping rough and he was clearly coming to me. Like he was making a beeline for me. Like, “What have I done to you?”
And so I’m sort of looking at him coming over and he goes, “Hey, hey, hey …” and I was wearing this THR1VE t-shirt … “Hey, are you Mr. THR1VE?” And I went, “Ah, I guess.” and he goes … am I allowed to swear on this podcast?
Josh Sparks: He goes, “I fucking love your food. It’s the best food.” Why that’s awesome!
Stuart Cooke: Wow.
Josh Sparks: I said, “I’m glad you enjoy it. Come back anytime.”
And it was just one of those moments. Because what’s happens is he’s getting one of the meals that’s got the THR1VE branding on it, so he knew it was from us. It just made me realize that you kind of set up these relationships, but you’re not always sure that it makes it to the end user exactly how you anticipate it might. But that was just a nice little moment and I think what OzHarvest does is fantastic.
And these days we don’t do as much prepped foods as we used to. We used to do salads that we made just before lunch rush. So if you’re in a hurry, you point at it in the fridge and we’d give it to you and you’d be good to go. But we moved away from that, because we wanted to give customers more choice in terms of how they build up the bowl.
So, we don’t have the level of giveaways we used to. So, OzHarvest, unfortunately are not getting as much from us as they used to. But we still provide them with any waste that we do have at the end of the day.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Sounds fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: It’s still a fantastic initiative. And just so you know, we’ve got quite a large station wagon, so if you need a hand transporting any of that food wastage, we’ll happily fill up our car with that and drive into the sunset with that. Don’t worry about that. Just say the word.
Josh Sparks: I may take you up on that.
Guy Lawrence: Mate, just a quick question. If anyone is listening to this is new to, say, “clean eating” and they walked into your THR1VE café today and go, “Right. I want to order a dish.” What would you recommend them?
Josh Sparks: OK.
Guy Lawrence: Somebody starting out.
Josh Sparks: Great question. Great question. And should we define “clean eating?” Should we define …
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Go, yes.
Josh Sparks: So, for us; again the follow-up question thing; for us “clean eating” is about no processed foods. So, it’s no added sugar. No gluten-containing grains. It’s no chemicals, preservatives, etc., etc.
So, that’s how we define “clean eating.” It’s not strictly paleo. It’s not strictly primal. It’s certainly inspired by those protocols. But “clean eating” for us is about eliminating processed foods, added sugars, bad oils as well, and any gluten-containing grains. So, that’s how we define it.
So, what we typically do with someone who’s brand new to this way of eating or this way of living, we suggest something that is very familiar. And I have actually have this really strict brief that in our environment; a food court it’s not a niche healthy café in Bondi or XX0:40:19.000 Byron Bay or Neustadt, or the Mornington PeninsulaXX.
It is a high-traffic mainstream environment and we have to have food that sounds and looks familiar and comforting. We’ve just taken the effort of pulling out the bad stuff. So, most of our menu, I would say, hopefully would look and feel pretty approachable and unintimidating.
But our bestseller is our Lemon and Herb Pesto Chicken. Which is just a chicken breast that’s been butterflied, grilled. We make our own pesto. So, we use olive oil, we don’t add sugar to it, etc., etc. We do add a little Parmesan, because I’m not anal about dairy. So, it’s a really nice fresh pesto. We use roasted peppers.
And that will all sit on a bed of whatever veggies or gluten-free grains you want. But I’d suggest you do it on our zoodles, which are … literally it’s just a zucchini that’s been spiralized. It’s not cooked, it’s just … it looks like … it sort of looks like pasta, but it’s raw zucchini. It’s awesome.
Guy Lawrence: I love it.
Josh Sparks: And I do it a half zoodles base and then I’m really into a kind of seasonal grains thing at the moment, because like everyone, I feel like I’m not eating enough grains. So, I do half zoodles on the base, half seasonal grains and I do a side of avocado; maybe a side of broccoli. And depending on what you get, that’s going to cost you anything between, sort of, $12 and $16; depending on how hungry you are and how large each portion you want it to be.
So, that’s kind of a really nice, familiar lunch/dinner. It’s the kind of thing you would see on lots of café menus and lots of restaurant menus and lots of people make it at home.
So, I would recommend something pretty simple like that to start off with.
Guy Lawrence: Perfect. You’re making me hungry.
Stuart Cooke: I am very hungry as well. And good tip as well on your zoodle. Because I had always … well when I say “always,” I’ve experimented with zucchini pasta and for me I’ve always boiled ,,, I’ve kind of boiled it too long and always ended up with a really sloppy mess.
Josh Sparks: Right.
Stuart Cooke: And I’ve been really disappointed. I’m not looking forward to the next one. So, you just do that raw, do you?
Josh Sparks: We do it raw. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Josh Sparks: Because the other, I’m sure you guys read all the same research as well, when I talk about diversity of vegetables, most of us don’t have enough. And then in terms of diversity of preparation, most of us get stuck on a prep step. So, we like steaming or we like roasting or we like frying or whatever. Everything that I read suggests that we should have a mix of a whole huge variety of veggies and a huge variety of prep, including raw. And I realized outside of salad leaves and salad greens I never eat a lot of raw veggies.
So, it’s a way, and I don’t want to say the entire business is built around my selfish desire for raw veggies, but it seems like those zoodles were a good idea and they’re selling very well.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Great. Well, they say variety is the spice of life, mate. That’s for sure.
Josh Sparks: Exactly. Exactly.
Stuart Cooke: That’s beautiful. That’s so deep, Guy. I’m really moved by that.
Guy Lawrence: He’s bagged me twice all ready on this podcast. I’m sure I’ll …
Stuart Cooke: I just can’t help it. Sorry. It’s the beard, the beard. Have you noticed he’s got a beard now?
Josh Sparks: He’s rocking it. It’s very masculine.
Guy Lawrence: It’s very hip, I reckon.
Stuart Cooke: He’s going ancestral.
Josh Sparks: And when he does go shirtless, it’s going to be sort of hipster meets paleo.
Guy Lawrence: Exactly. I’m getting in theme for this podcast. That’s all it was. It was for you, Josh. It was for you.
Stuart Cooke: Thanks a lot.
Josh Sparks: Thank you.
Stuart Cooke: So, I’m going to steal another question, Guy.
Guy Lawrence: Why not, you bagged me twice.
Stuart Cooke: So, paleo, Josh. So, paleo’s all over the media right now. It’s getting some great press. Good. Bad. Indifferent. Has this particular message affected you in any way?
Josh Sparks: Yeah, it has. So, I think that there’s two things I would say. First of all I think … further the point I made earlier, it’s great that paleo is even appearing in the press. Just like it’s great that health is now appearing in the food court and to the extent it’s inspiring a dialogue, and at times a well-researched and intelligent dialogue, then obviously I applaud it. I think that’s a fantastic thing.
Stuart Cooke: Yup.
Josh Sparks: On the flip side, because the media deals primarily in sound bites and research takes time and to give them their credit, they work in very short-form media these days, I mean, everything’s a Tweet, basically, in whatever format it’s coming.
I don’t think we’re getting the benefit of a lot of the nuance around what is paleo, what is primal, what’s ancestral health, and I think it’s as a subset of that, people tend to hang onto certain aspects of it that appear dogmatic or prescriptive and I think most people, me included, don’t like being told what to do.
So, I think the backlash that we’re seeing is a natural human response to the perception, you know, real or imagined, that we as a community are coming out and scolding and lecturing people and telling them how bad they are and how better they could be if only they were as purist as we are.
Now, I don’t work that way. I know you guys don’t work that way. But the perception is that we as a community are inflexible, we’re dogmatic and we’re prescriptive. And I think that’s something we need to be very, very focused on countering. Because the reality is, that as Mark Sisson keeps saying; as Robb Wolf keeps saying, as Chris Kresser keeps saying, there is no one paleolithic diet. It’s a template. It’s a template. And there are paleolithic communities that have nothing but meat, primarily fat and protein, there are paleolithic communities that have 16 to 17 percent from their carbs … 16 to 17 percent of their calories from carbs, now, ancient carbs, but carbs.
So, when we’re coming out and saying, for example, “paleo is low-carb,” not only is that historically completely inaccurate, it also fails to recognize that there’s a huge swath of population that are interested in paleo. And they run from skinny weightlifting boys through to, you know, obese Type 2 diabetes, syndrome “X” men and women in their 40s, people who train intensely with weights, people who like going for a walk; obviously completely different need for carbohydrate.
So, I think that it’s a great thing, but it’s a double-edged sword. I think it’s a great thing, but the over-simplification of it I think personally has definitely led to some rather challenging conversations between me and customers and me and the press.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: But also our business has taken … it took a knock when it was really intensely fervently being debated. We noticed that certainly salads and certain products came off. Thankfully they’ve gone back up again. But I think it’s a consequence of over-simplification and the perception of dogma, I think.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: So, this sort of conversation is what I love, because we can put it in its rightful context. Rather than saying, “paleo is this and paleo is that. And you’re not allowed to do this and you’re not allowed to do that.” Which just instantly gets people’s back up. And what you end up doing … I know it’s a long-winded answer … but what you end up doing in that sort of environment is preaching to the converted.
And if we got into this, because I know I did and I know you guys did, because we genuinely want to help other people, I mean, I certainly didn’t get into it for the money. I should have stayed in what I was doing instead. It’s a grand way to not make a lot of money. But we got into it because we genuinely want to help people.
Now, if that’s the belief and there’s real authenticity and integrity around that, we have to reach people that aren’t already converted and that are probably going to be a little bit resistant to the message. And to go back to my fashion days for a second, because it’s a stupid analogy, but I think you’ll understand what I mean.
You know, you have catwalk pieces that are gorgeous and expensive and no one really wears.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Josh Sparks: They end up on the backs of celebrities and they end up in magazines. But they attract attention and they spark interest. But they’re way too intimidating to the average consumer.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: So, the average consumer, you’ve got to provide a bridge and that bridge is something like a XX 0:48:22.000 t-shirt brand or a dinner brand or a swimwear brandXX or whatever. They come in; they experience the brand; they get excited about it and hopefully they work their way up the ladder.
Now, that may sound like a stupid analogy, but I think we’ve got to a certain extent a analogous situation here where we bombard people with the pointy end of the stick, you know, the last 5 percent, this is all we want to debate the first 95 percent.
If we had people just decide they wanted to step over that bridge with us and we soften the message just a little bit and say, “Look, if you’re not ready to give up bread and you show no signs whatsoever of gluten intolerance, well then, let’s try to get you on an organic salad XX 0:49:00.000 or oatsXX it’s naturally a lot lower in gluten, and let’s just start by giving up the sugar and giving up these horrible oils that you use for cooking and deep frying.”
And then notice some changes, and this is what Sarah Wilson done so brilliantly.
Guy Lawrence: She’s done brilliantly, yeah.
Josh Sparks: Start the journey with sugar. And that is naturally going to … you’re going to see profound change in how you look, feel and perform. And if you’re a curious person and you’re interested in furthering the journey, then you ask, “Well, what’s next and what’s next?”
The opposite is what I think some in our community are doing, which is coming out and saying, “You either do all of this or you do nothing.”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: And if you don’t subscribe hook, line and sinker, to everything in this book or everything on this website or whatever, then you’re not worthy and you’re not truly one of us. And I think that is; that’s great if you’re trying to build a small club. It’s not great if you’re trying to change the world, because we need to bring as many people with us as we possibly can.
And just recognizing that not everyone is as ready for the hardcore message, softening it a little bit, I think you’re going to bring a lot more people with you and that’s going to have a much bigger impact.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, mate. Great answer, man. Absolutely. Couldn’t agree more.
I’m just looking at the time. I’m aware that the time’s getting on, right? So, I want to just touch on a couple of questions and then we do some wrap-up questions to finish …
Josh Sparks: Cool.
Guy Lawrence: … which is always fun.
But, one thing that I was really intrigued to know and I just want to bring on the podcast. I think people listening to this might not appreciate the effort; almost you could say the entrepreneurship of what you do and stress and everything else that’s going on. You’re a busy boy. You’re doing wonderful things. You’re very successful. How do you keep that work/life balance? Any tips? Like, what do you do?
Josh Sparks: That’s a great question and I would say that … well, first of all I live with my Creative Director, so I’m romantically involved with my Creative Director, Steph, so I don’t know whether I’ve pulled off work/life balance rightly there. Truthfully, I mean, taking about THR1VE every night at dinner is not work /life balance.
But you know what we do, what Steph and I do, what we encourage everyone in the business to do, is make time to train. So there’s this … no matter what’s going on, it’s in the diary and I don’t train every day or anything like that. I train every second day. So it’s three or four times a week, depending on the week. That’s always locked in.
I try to get sun every day. Even if it’s a crappy day, I just sit outside for a while. You know, 10, 20 minutes over lunch.
I started meditating, which I am absolutely rubbish at. The whole “still the mind” thing, I don’t know if that’s ever going to be possible, but I kind of love that too, that I’m really rubbish at it and I’m getting better at it so slowly. It’s going to be a lifetime thing for me and I’ll probably still never get there. So, I’m finding that really helpful.
But in terms of … so you know Keegan, right?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: Keegan Smith, who we all know and love. I think the guy is genius in many ways. He’s got; he started to focus on one specific area, but I think he’s a very clever guy. And he said to me once; we were talking about stress and he sent me a follow-up note. And he said, “Look, I could tell you were really stressed. I can tell you’re really busy.”
And there was a point earlier on, I mean, not that it’s not stressful now, but it was early on, we were running out of cash. The stores weren’t yet profitable and there was a very real possibility that it just wasn’t going to work. We were selling food and we had a group of customers that loved us, but we just didn’t have enough of them.
And so, I remember meeting him and sort of sharing with him a little bit, “Look, I think someday this is going to be an amazing business, but oh my God it’s incredibly difficult right now.” And he sort of empathized with me.
Anyway, he sent an email later and he said, “Josh, the thing with stress, you’ve got to decide whether the stress relates to your life’s purpose or not. And if it relates to your life’s purpose, then not only do you not resist it, you embrace it. Because that’s exactly what you need to make you harder, stronger, fitter, faster, you know … blah, blah, blah. It’s a hormetic stress. But if it doesn’t relate to your life’s purpose, you have to be ruthless about eliminating it. Just get it out of your life.”
So, a negative person, a negative relationship, some kind of partnership or some sort of hobby or something that isn’t serving you any more, you eliminate it.
Guy Lawrence: Great.
Josh Sparks: And I think that’s … it’s probably not balanced as such, but I’ve really taken his advice to heart and I’ve become a lot less social. Like, if I’m social now, it’s because it’s something I really want to do and it’s people I really care about and they mean a lot to me. I’m not going out through the opening of an envelope or because someone’s throwing a party or whatever.
So, I’m really focused on spending quality time at home with Steph and with the kids. Prioritizing in training. Prioritizing in good eating. Mediation. All that kind of stuff.
But then also recognizing that some days are going to be incredibly stressful, because I’ve chosen to do something that is challenging and I can’t blame anyone else for that. And so, I need to embrace it and work out, “OK, why am I feeling stressed?” Really get underneath the skin of the challenge and how are we going to take this to the next level.
So, I mean, I know I’m skipping ahead to talk about something you often talk about with your guests around favorite books.
Guy Lawrence: Yup.
Josh Sparks: But just on this stress point. A book called “Antifragile.” Have you ever heard of that?
Josh Sparks: So, his surname is: Taleb. And his first name: Nassim. He wrote “The Black Swan.” His background is from … he was a quantitative trader. He made a lot of money out of quant trading on the markets and he’s now basically a fulltime philosopher.
But anyway, the whole “Antifragile” book is written on the idea that systems, be they natural systems; be they the human cellular system; be they economic structures or political structures or whatever. All rely on a certain amount of stress to thrive.
Guy Lawrence: Yup.
Josh Sparks: Got to get the THR1VE word in there again.
Guy Lawrence: Again. We’ve got to make it three by the end of the podcast, mate.
Josh Sparks: Yeah. Yeah.
Not only; there’s a difference between being robust or resilient and being anti-fragile. Robust and resilient means that you absorb the stress and try to maintain stasis. His idea around anti-fragility is that stress makes you stronger.
So, say, for example, you go out and train with weights. All right? And the short term, if we took your blood after doing German volumetric training squats, 10 sets of 10 squats, your bloodwork would be horrendous. And if we showed that do a doctor and didn’t tell them that you’d done 10 rounds of 10 reps on heavy squats, they would probably want to hospitalize you. Your stress markers would be out of control. You’d be showing a whole bunch of damage at the cellular level. Cortisol would be slamming through the roof. Etcetera etcetera.
But next time you come into the gym, provided that you have the right nutrition and adequate amount of rest, you’re going to be stronger.
So, that’s a short-term stress that makes you stronger and more capable of coping with the same stress next time. Everyone understands the weight training analogy, right? But I think Keegan’s point, at least the way I interpret it, is that it’s the same with emotional/intellectual stress as well. If you don’t have at, at least in a way that’s something that you can cope with and doesn’t put you in the ground, and it relates to something that you consider really important, then surely you can overcome it. That stress that seemed completely unmanageable before, we’re good to go and we’re ready to move on to the next level.
So, I know that’s a really long-winded way of answering the question, but…
Guy Lawrence: No, that’s fantastic, and a great analogy. And I know Tony Robbins goes on about exactly the same thing, and he gets you to draw like a stick man on a piece of paper with a circle around it, you know. And that circle is your comfort zone.
And we very rarely go to the edge of that. But he encourages that you go up against it and you push it, but you don’t step outside. So, your stress muscles are being built and then that circle slowly gets bigger and bigger and then as years go by you don’t realize it but you’ve grown tremendously through actual stress. But you only want to take on what you can cope with.
Josh Sparks: Yeah, exactly. You won’t know until you’ve taken it on. And you know that old saying about “bite off more than you can chew and chew like hell.” I think is a part of that with me as well, where I think that, you know, it’s an other terrible cliché but an accurate one. And you guys might relate to this. But if you knew everything about what you were currently doing before you started, you probably wouldn’t have started it, right?
Stuart Cooke: Oh, my God. No way.
Josh Sparks: But you are. And you’re doing really well. You guys are killing it here. You’re moving into the States. And you’ve got a fantastic product. I think you’ve got best-in-class product. And you’re taking it to the world.
So, you know, you wouldn’t have done that if you knew everything. And that’s why sometimes I think it’s better to just leap. You trust your gut. Your intuition says this is gonna work. You know it’s gonna be difficult. But you can probably figure it out along the way. So, just go for it.
Guy Lawrence: I often joke sometimes that being naïve has been my best friend in some respects, because if you have no idea and sometimes you just jump, you just figure it out and then you learn along the way.
Josh Sparks: For sure. And if you don’t; if; the worst-case scenario is that you start again. This is not life-and-death stuff, right? This is about, whether it’s business or a relationship or sport or trying to do a PB in the gym or whatever it is, if you fail, OK. Well, pick yourself up and go give it another shot. I mean, why would you not want to do that?
Stuart Cooke: Exactly right. And life’s lessons, right? You learn from each mistake you make, which makes you stronger or a better person moving forward.
Josh Sparks: I totally agree. It doesn’t make it feel great at the time, always. But it’s the only way to live.
Stuart Cooke: Oh, look, no. I love that. Everything that we do, albeit negative, I want to know: Well, what can I learn from this? What can I do different next time?
Guy Lawrence: And another great tip, I think it was Meredith Loring, when we asked her, she came on the show, and she said, well, the best thing she’s realized is only focus and set goals that are within your control. Like, don’t try and control the uncontrollable and just let it roll and then things will come in time. And she said once she had that shift in the headspace…
Because we think about this with the USA at the moment, it’s probably the biggest decision we’ve ever made to move into an American market. And, you know, I could seriously lose sleep over this if I chose to. But it’s beyond my control, so with Stu and I we just meet up and we just focus on the things that we know we can do, we can control, and the rest is up to fate, to a degree. You do your best and then the rest is just see what happens.
Josh Sparks: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And give yourself the time and the space to figure out along the way. You know, you don’t set yourself crazy goals where you’ve got to conquer the entire market in 12 weeks.
Guy Lawrence: Exactly. Patience has been…
Josh Sparks: Yeah, it’s a tricky one.
Guy Lawrence: It’s massive. It’s everything, almost, to a degree, and then you just, “OK. Let it go.”
But we’ve got a couple of wrap-up questions. I reckon we should just shoot into them. One was the books. So, what books have greatly influenced or make an impact in your life. Are there any others on top of Antifragile?
Josh Sparks: There’s tons.
Guy Lawrence: Give us three.
Josh Sparks: OK. So, OK, this is a little bit off the reservation but Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I read that as a teen and it blew my mind and I think it’s done that generations of guys and gals. And I think probably what I found most entertaining about it was the guy was just such a; there was no rule that he wasn’t comfortable breaking. And of course it’s fictionalized and of course there was an obsessive amount of drug and alcohol abuse going on. So, his particular vehicles for demonstrating his willingness to rebel, we don’t necessarily recommend to all your listeners. But the idea that he was just out to have the adventure of a lifetime and didn’t care what the rules were, I think at a pivotal age to me… Because I was pretty conservative. I was very much; I followed the rules and I was a very good student and all that kind of stuff. And I just did a 180 in my thinking: “Hold on a second. Maybe I don’t have to follow the path that’s been laid out for me. Maybe there’s another way to go about this.”
So, though I hate to recommend it because it’s full of massive powdered drug use, it’s actually a really good book from the perspective of: Let’s think about this differently. Don’t necessarily follow the example, but let’s think differently.
I think the other book that I’d say, apart from all the paleo and primal ones; your audience will be very familiar with those ones. I think Robb’s book; Robb Wolf’s book and Mark Sisson’s book had a huge influence on me.
I think Tim Ferriss is underrated by a lot of people in the paleo and primal community. But I think his work has probably had a greater influence over me in more areas. Because he touches on business and he touches on relationships and he touches on sex and a whole bunch of stuff that the paleo and primal crowd tend to ignore a little bit. And they shouldn’t because they talk about lifestyle but they tend to write primarily about food. So, I found Tim Ferriss’s stuff really good.
The other thing that had a huge impact on me, I went to a Zen school. I lived in London for five years after graduating from uni, and I went to a Zen school very sporadically and it was just, I guess, my first attempt to meditate, really. I heard about this school. And it was in Covent Garden, which you guys obviously know well, and it was this crazy little place where you just sat around and nothing happened. And my first few times, I was like, “What are we going to do? We do we start?” And they were: “It’s done now. You’re finished.”
But there’s a book called “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” that I read at the time and the idea is that for all of us to try to acquire a beginner’s mind. There’s a quote in there that in the expert’s mind there are very few possibilities. In the beginner’s mind, it’s unlimited, right? So, the smarter we get and the more we know, the more narrow and dogmatic we tend to become. And the whole idea is let go of all that and try to reacquire a beginner’s mind. Come to things fresh with an open mind. And you see things that you otherwise would have missed. So, I thought was a fantastic book.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s an awesome message. Our beliefs shape so many of our judgments moving forward, and you’ve got to avoid that, for sure. Fantastic.
Josh Sparks: You mentioned Tony Robbins before, and I think that Tony Robbins; I went to all his courses. So, when I was living in London, I did the three-day Unleash Your Power. And then I went to Hawaii and did; I can’t remember what it’s called.
Guy Lawerence: Date with Destiny? Did you do that one?
Josh Sparks: Yes. Date with Destiny on the Gold Coast. And one in Hawaii, and I can’t remember, and Financial Mastery I did in Sydney. So, I certainly did them all over the place.
But his stuff is awesome. And it sounds kind of; I don’t know if Hunter S. Thompson and Tony Robbins have ever been mentioned in the same sentence before, from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to Unleash Your Power. But in their own way, they both challenge us to think differently. To think more creatively and to free your mind.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, “Awaken the Giant Within” had a huge impact on me; that book itself. And I’ve been to a couple of his seminars as well, yeah.
Josh Sparks: He’s here in a few weeks, I think.
Guy Lawrence: We should get him on the podcast, Stu. I’m sure he’ll come on.
Josh Sparks: I think we’re busy, Guy.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I’m confident of him.
Stuart Cooke: It would be a good get.XX
Guy Lawrence: So, last follow-up question, Josh. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Josh Sparks: Oh, man. I think, wow, you know what? I didn’t expect this one so this is a good surprise wrap-up question.
Guy Lawrence: You’ve had a lot to say up until now and now he’s stumped.
Josh Sparks: Just talk amongst yourselves.
Guy Lawrence: Have you got any fashion tips for Stu?
Stuart Cooke: Don’t hang around with you, mate. Well, maybe that’s the best fashion tip. I just need to hang around with you and suddenly I look hugely fashionable.
Josh Sparks: You guys can keep doing this. This is good.
You know, it’s such a cliché but I think probably my mom. And when I was debating what to do and whether or not I should get out of fashion and do what I really wanted to do, she said, as mothers do, she said: You know your own heart and you’ve got to follow your heart. And it’s so cliché. And I know it’s on a million different Hallmark cards. But when it comes from someone you really respect, who knows you inside-out and backwards and says, “You do know what to do, so just go and do it,” I think that was the best piece of advice I’ve ever had.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect. I thought you were gonna say that your mum told you to eat your greens and that’s how you got where you are today.
Josh Sparks: She did say that as well. That was the second sentence.
Guy Lawrence: So, what’s next for you, mate? You got anything coming up in the pipeline?
Josh Sparks: Yeah, we do. A bit like you guys, we’re looking overseas. But not just yet. We’ve decided after much contemplation, we’ve registered the trademark all over the world, and we bought the trademark in the U.S. But after much thinking about it, we’re going to focus on doing another six to 10 stores in Australia first and just really kind of dial in the model.
So, another six to 10 stores in Australia, we’ve got three lined up in the next 12 months. We might do four; I think probably three. Every four months feels about right. Which feels fast to me, but it’s incredibly slow, as I understand, in our industry. They want you to do 10, 20 a year, franchise, and do all that kind of stuff. And I just want to focus on doing our own stores and getting them right and help seed this conversation that we’ve been talking about: trying to get the follow-up questions asked, trying to get a more nuanced, intelligent conversation around what we do and what you guys do, in our whole community.
So, I think rather than rushing off too soon, because retail takes time to build out, wholesaling, what you are doing, you can grow a little bit faster. I think just focusing on Australia for the next 12 to 24 months. But then I would love to take what we’re doing overseas.
And there’s a raging debate amongst a whole bunch of people who I respect whether that should be U.S. or whether it should be Asia. But some kind of off-shore opportunity. Because the Australian market, ultimately, it’s finite. It’s not huge. And it’s very high-cost for what we do.
So, if we took our exact business model anywhere else in the world, it would instantly be meaningfully profitable because the costs are lower.
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Josh Sparks: So, I think that’s an exciting opportunity. Because at one point I need to pay everyone back, right?
Guy Lawrence: Just keep borrowing, mate. Just keep borrowing. Just roll with it.
Josh Sparks: The investors want a return at some point. So, I think they have been very supportive of my vision, which is great. But in Australia it’s very difficult to do what we’re doing and make it meaningful for investors.
Australia’s a great place to prove a model and prove a brand. It’s a very difficult place to build a small business. Which is why Australia’s full of these massive XX1:08:14.000 shop places? The cost base is so high.XX
But I love doing it here, and I’d happily do it here forever. But I think to really maximize the impact we want to make, which is the “heart” stuff, and return a meaningful number to my investors who have placed so much faith in what we’re doing, which is sort of the “head” part, going overseas at some point makes sense.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, cool. And, mate, I mean, you have been super successful so far. It’s a fantastic brand and I have no doubt moving forward that you’ll be successful wherever you heart leads you to in those endeavours.
Josh Sparks: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
Guy Lawrence: For anyone listening to this; obviously they might not be near a THR1VE café but they might like to find out more about you and what you do, where’s the best place to send them?
Josh Sparks: Probably the website, which is Thr1ve.me. Thr1ve with a 1, dot me. And Instagram, which is Thr1ve. Our social media, which is done Steph, my partner, obviously I’m a little bit biased. I think she’s brilliant. So, there’s a really good level, I think, of understanding around what we do that is conveyed through social media.
We’re re-launching our blog. We just sort of got to busy doing the store, so we haven’t really spent enough time on the blog. We’re gonna re-launch that in a few weeks. And in the meantime, there’s some good information on the website as well.
But if you can’t get into a store, the best way to get a sense of what we do is to buy 180 products and read the books that we are talking about and get involved in the community. Because what we’re doing is really, or trying to, hopefully, with some degree of success, distilling a message that we’re all sharing and presenting it in our specific environment, which is the food court and fast-casual restaurant environment.
But you guys can sell over the internet. I can’t send a bowl over the web, unfortunately. But you guys can send protein all over the place.
So, you know, get involved with what you’re doing, which obviously they already are, because they’re watching this podcast. But enjoying your products, reading up on the books, getting involved in the community, trying to spread the word like we discussed in a way that really attracts the unconverted and perhaps those who are a little bit intimidated.
And when they do eventually get to a THR1VE, it’s gonna feel like coming home.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, awesome, mate. Awesome. And we’ll link to the show notes. And just before I say goodbye, I’m going to ask you, you can give me a very quick answer, because we didn’t get to talk about it: Is Mark Sisson coming back to Australia?
Josh Sparks: I certainly hope so. We are not doing THR1VE Me in 2016. We’re going to do it every two years. It turned into a; it was such a massive exercise. I mean, you guys were there. It was great, but it was huge.
Guy Lawrence: It was awesome.
Josh Sparks: I’m really looking forward to doing it again, and Mark’s keen to come back. So, I think realistically for us it will be 2017.
Guy Lawrence: Brilliant. And, yeah, we got to spend some time with Mark and he’s a super nice guy, but also exceptionally fit and walks his talk.
Josh Sparks: Exactly. It’s all about authenticity and integrity.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, yeah. And you need to go and see him once. Like, you need to be there. Awesome. Something to look forward to.
Josh Sparks: Yeah, great. Well, I hope you guys are back. We certainly want you there.
Guy Lawrence: Oh, we’ll be there, mate. Definitely.
Awesome, Josh. Look, thank you so much for your time today. I have no doubt everyone’s gonna get a great deal out of this podcast.
Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on youriPhone HERE.
There’s no doubt about it, the paleo diet certainly has divided opinion (especially if you listen to the media)! We ask Marlies Hobbs, what are the biggest misconceptions when it comes to the world of paleo. Can you guess what they are?
If you like inspirational stories, then this one is for you, as we have on todays show Marlies, who is the co-founder of the Paleo Café along with her husband, Jai. She had a great career in law and threw it all in to start the Paleo Café.
After the birth of her dairy-intolerant son Troy, she had a new outlook on life and a sincere appreciation for the effects of food on our physical (and mental) health. After making massive changes in their own life when it come to the foods they ate and the direct impact it had on their health, what follows is a fantastic journey of courage and commitment as they set out to create a paleo cafe lifestyle revolution! Enjoy… Guy
Full Interview with Marlies Hobbs: Why I Risked It All To Start The Paleo Cafe
In this episode we talk about:
Why she quit her secure job in law to start a cafe revolution
The greatest lessons she’s learned about the paleo diet
How she handles her hashimoto disease through food
Why gut health is a main priority
The Food Strategies she uses for her children
How she lost 8kg in weight by making simple dietary changes
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions.
Today, I’m sitting in the Paleo Café in Bondi Junction, Sydney, and this is place where myself and Stu like to try and have our business meetings so we can rely upon the food. But it’s also very relevant to today’s guest.
Now, I do wonder if people get the feeling, you know, sometimes their career is not serving them what they want to do or they’re trying to have more purpose and meaning to it all, I guess. What they’re trying to do with their life, even, in general. I know I certainly had that before starting 180 Nutrition and wanted to make a difference.
And, you know, today’s guest is no exception. So, if you like inspirational stories, this one’s for you, because we have on the show today Marlies Hobbs, who is the co-founder of the Paleo Café along with her husband, Jai. And she decided one day to give it up; all her job security. She had a great career in law and threw it all in to start the Paleo Café.
And so why did she do this? You know, it takes massive courage and dedication, that’s for sure. And obviously a lot of passion. But in a nutshell, they’d just had a newborn son, Troy, and when he was born he was suffering acid reflux for many, many months. He was vomiting a lot and it was causing multiple problems, obviously, to them and they were very worried about him. And they realized that; eventually they found out that he was dairy intolerant, and then they started looking into other foods that might be causing problems, not only to their son Troy but to their own health as well.
And she stumbled across the book The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain and started applying the principles for that. Within five weeks, she’d dropped 8 kilos. Her digestive problems improved and Jai also lost a lot of weight as well and realized they wanted to make a difference in the food industry. And in 2012, the first Paleo Café was born. And it’s now 2015, as I’m saying this, and I think there’s 14 or 15 Paleo Cafes now across Australia, which are awesome. So if you’re in the neighborhood certainly check them out.
I don’t know about you, but if you are needing be inspired and motivated to make change, you’ll get a lot out of this episode today with Marlies. She explains it all, and of course her own health journey as well. It was fantastic to have her on the show.
We also get a lot of emails as well with people asking us, “How do I drop the last five kilos? How do I lose weight? How do I get around bloating?” You know there’s a lot of misinformation out there. So, obviously, with these podcasts and everything that we do, we get comments coming back every week, so we’ve put a quiz together. It’s very simple. You just go in and answer the multiple choice surveys and from that we can then give you content regarding what your answers were.
And some of the biggest roadblocks that we find are, you know, misinformation, people can’t lose the last five kilograms, and also they struggle sticking to their diet in general. So we’ve addressed all these issues and put them into some great information. All you need to do is go back to 180nutrition.com.au and take the quiz and go from there, basically.
But also give us some feedback on what you think of the videos. We’d love to hear from them. And everyone’s that been leaving reviews on iTunes over the last few weeks, really appreciate it. Keep them coming, if you haven’t. It only takes two minutes to do. It gives us good feedback, it helps with our rankings, and it helps us reach more people and it allows us to continue to get awesome guests so we can share them with you and you can listen to them on the podcast. So, head over to iTunes, five-star it, subscribe, leave a review, and it’s always appreciated and we love getting the feedback and thanks again for people who have left them; it’s greatly appreciated.
Anyway, I’m gonna start talking. Let’s go over to Marlies Hobbs. Enjoy.
Hi, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke, as always. Hi, Stuart.
Stuart Cooke: Hello, mate.
Guy Lawrence: And our lovely guest today is Marlies Hobbs. Marlies, welcome to the show.
Marlies Hobbs: Thank you for having me.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, no, fantastic. We’ve got some awesome things to cover today. Everything paleo and the Paleo Café. But before we start any of that, would you mind sharing us a little bit about yourself and your journey prior to moving into the Paleo Café world?
Marlies Hobbs: Yeah, sure. So, basically, I grew up in Cairns, went to law school, and was practicing as a planning and environment lawyer until I had my first son Troy. And he was born really sick with a dairy intolerance. And it was through that experience that I really learned the profound effects of food on the body as well as the mind.
And at the time I was suffering from acne, digestion problems, fluid retention. Having issues with XXbloating?? 0:04:48.000XX. And I certainly didn’t wake refreshed. So, I had some health issues which I had just accepted as normal, but I guess being awoken to the impact of food on the body.
I had a bit of curiosity there, and Jai, my husband, was actually enjoying his CrossFit and his CrossFit coach told him about the paleo diet and Jai was really keen to give that a go.
And at the time, I was very skeptical. I had just gone through hell and back with my son. He was basically; he screamed for the first four and a half months of his life. You know, he was vomited and pooing blood. It was, like, a very traumatic time. He woke every hour throughout the night. I basically didn’t sleep.
And so, as we were coming out of that struggle, and Troy had been prescribed a dairy-free formula, because basically I had lost my milk because of the stress that that had put on my body and whatnot.
I guess I was really not in a position to want to try any new diets. I just really wanted to, I guess, rejuvenate. But he brought home The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain and I read the first chapter and it suggested all these possibilities to actually heal myself from many of the health complaints that I was experiencing. So, it was at that point that I was prepared to give it a go. And we, as a family, gave it a go. Jai lose 10 kilos. I lost eight kilos. My skin cleared up in about six weeks. My digestion problems went away after about three. And we had energy. We had learned about a new way of looking at life. You know, getting out in the park and how great that is for us as a family. And actually stopping and laying there on the grass and appreciating all the gifts that Mother Nature has for us.
So, it was through that experience with Troy, and my health issues and Jai’s performance and fitness goals, that led us to the paleo diet. And it just completely changed our lives.
Guy Lawrence: Was that the first time you ever considered nutrition as therapeutical for the body, as well, as a healing? Because, you know, you see so many people out there that completely overlook what they put in their mouths daily, or they don’t have that connection yet. So, was that the first time for you?
Marlies Hobbs: Absolutely. Up until that point in time, I had really thought that I was healthy, you know. I didn’t eat fast food too often and I mostly cooked at home. It was spaghetti bolognaise and, you know, curries with rice. And I was healthy! I had XXmilo? Merlot? 0:07:30.000XX and milk and whatnot.
But I thought that I was really healthy. I’d have a muesli bar XXtechnical glitch 0:07:45.000XX and all these healthy things, they weren’t XXtechnical glitch 0:07:45.000XX until I actually became healthy.
Stuart Cooke: Just thinking about your transition to the paleo diet, and it’s amazing to see that you do change your diet and you can really make some amazing changes to your health, but what triggered that spark in you to say, “I’m gonna take this to as many people as I can. I’m gonna set up my own chain of Paleo Cafés”?
Marlies Hobbs: So, it was basically; I remember the moment. One day I walked in the house with a bag full of groceries and products and literally I had been out for a few hours just to get a few things, because I had to jump from health food store to supermarket to health food store asking everyone, every shop, “I need coconut oil. I need XXflax seed? 0:08:41.000XX, I need this.” And they all looked at me like I was crazy. And I was XXyou’re never gonna ??XXX. You know?
And I said to Jai, “Oh, wouldn’t it be good if there was just one place where you could go and get all your products in one place, get a meal, you know, still socialize and have a meal out with your friends without feeling like a crazy person asking for every ingredient in every dish and then basically not being able to eat anything. So, you know it was quite isolating.
And then I figure out, also, we were gonna have a XXtype? 0:09:13.000XX I was a lawyer and I’m going back to work as a lawyer and Jai had his own XXbuyer?? businessXX. We had no time to always prepare every meal every night. But takeaway just wasn’t an option, unless it was a hot chook that we had to prepare ourselves, which is pretty easy. But otherwise there just really was no takeaway convenient meal option for us.
And there’s where the ready-made meal idea came in, where you could pack and it’s ready-made there, so that you could grab them on your way home and enjoy those without compromising your health.
So, that’s sort of where I was thinking wouldn’t it be great to have this type of business. And he goes, “Well, that would be quite a good idea.” And the next day he registered the business name. Paleo Café just seemed to make sense. We didn’t give it too much thought. It just made sense to us at that time.
And I was so intrigued by the whole idea and I still worked as a lawyer until three weeks before opening the first café. Every night before I would go to bed I would research supplies, research products, research recipes and develop menus. I was recruiting people from all over the world, which ended up being a bit of a mistake, but that’s another story.
You know, I was absolutely making this happen. And franchising as such wasn’t in mind in the beginning. It was just a concept, and it was something that we wanted for ourselves that we continued to employ this lifestyle. And I had planned to keep working as a lawyer, but it wasn’t until everyone became so intrigued and so much inquiring, so much interaction, I couldn’t keep up with that as well as managing staff and having a job and having a baby.
So, I cried my last day at work, the whole day I cried, because I was like, “What have I done? I’ve worked there and I was working my way up the chain.” And, “Oh she threw this away to open a café.” People literally said they thought I was absolutely crazy.
It just sort of happened, I suppose.
Guy Lawrence: That’s so inspiring. That’s awesome. So, how long did it take you from when you registered the name Paleo Café; you know, Jai got; you guys got inspired to your first Paleo Café opening. How long was that period of time?
Marlies Hobbs: We registered the business name in around April 2012 and we opened the first café in October.
Guy Lawrence: Oh, wow.
Marlies Hobbs: So, the end of October 2012.
Guy Lawrence: Wow. That’s fantastic. That’s amazing.
Stuart Cooke: Wow, that’s quick. That’s super quick.
Marlies Hobbs: And people had no idea. My only hospitality job was a pub when I was teen. It was just passion and determination and vision.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, exactly. Go on, Stu.
Stuart Cooke: I was just gonna ask what the biggest challenges were that you faced during that setup period.
Marlies Hobbs: Probably finding the right staff. And I guess my lack of hospitality experience sort of led my down paths sometimes that may not have been the right path. And I know I believe that there’s no such thing as a mistake. You know? You have to learn your lessons in life to keep striding ahead. So, but basically, I sort of had this misconception that you had to have paleo-experienced chefs and whatnot to run an effective Paleo Café. So, I recruited someone from XXIslands?? Irons? 0:12:57.000XX. And that came with a lot of expense and challenges. And, yeah, that’s a whole ’nother story. But it didn’t quite work out.
And so as far as getting the right staff, but without; as a leader, you have paleo recipes and it’s got to be run like a business and you’re the passion. And so I guess making sure that you have the right staff with the right amount of hospitality experience and they share you vision. You know, that was probably the biggest challenge was getting everyone on board. I guess there was probably a lot of lack of confidence in us in the beginning, by our staff. “These people are crazy!” You know. “XXWhere’s their experience in business? 0:13:42.000XX What do they know about food? And there they are telling me to make these crazy recipes and serve these drinks and know we’re bucking every rule and trend in our café environment.” I think they just thought we were nuts.
And certainly the business went gangbusters initially and then one the XX????XX went through a bit of a lull, and it was then that we learnt, I guess, the hardest lessons and the best lessons. And so we had to obviously change staff and change the way that we looked at our business and the way that we. . . yeah. Viewed customer demands when it came to the interaction. We sort of really grew. So, we re-recruited. We had a very clear strategy from that point in time. And so we launched from there.
But obviously there’s some supplier complications, you know. Sometimes things are easier to source than others and freight to Cairns was challenging. But I suppose, yeah, the biggest challenge, and I think it’s common for any business, is having the right people on the bus and getting the wrong people off the bus is probably one of the biggest challenges. And then the next one obviously goes to the roots of our business, which is making sure that people understand what work they’re doing, why we’re doing it, and why XXit’s important 0:15:05.000XX. You know, XXaudio glitchXX.
Guy Lawrence: I’m sorry it just stopped on you slightly on the end there. But how many Paleo Cafes do you have now, Marlies?
Marlies Hobbs: So, there is currently 14 open and we have a 15th café opening in Canberra in the next couple of months.
Guy Lawrence: Wow. Fantastic. So, the next question that rings a bell is, and it’s almost a tongue-twister: How does the Paleo Café define paleo?
Marlies Hobbs: I try and explain to people that fundamentally it’s living and eating as Mother Nature intended, which means a good variety of seafood, meat, eggs, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and berries. And avoiding dairy, grains, legumes, and sugar and preservatives.
But we also try and make people appreciate that it’s just; it’s even more simple than that. It’s just eating real food, unprocessed food, avoiding chemicals. And it’s just a matter of really listening to your body, your individual body, and working out exactly what works for you.
For Jai, he can tolerate some amounts of dairy and whey, whereas for my that’s what causes my adult acne. So, you just have to appreciate that everybody is unique and you have to, I guess, really invest your energy in understanding your body fully and getting whatever tests you need to to make sure that you’re nourishing your body the way that it needs to be nourished to, I guess, experience optimal health.
Stuart Cooke: And what do you think the biggest misconceptions are out there at the moment about paleo? Because it’s a term that we’re seeing quite a lot in the press lately as well, you know. So many people gravitate and embrace it, but you also get the other side as well. So, what are those misconceptions that you hear predominantly?
Marlies Hobbs: Yeah, there’s quite a few misconceptions. The common ones are that it’s like a meat, protein heavy diet. That it’s hard. That it’s unsustainable. That it doesn’t taste great, you know. I mean, like it’s super-healthy, you’re eating rabbit food, so to speak.
And I find with all those misconceptions, just to touch of some of the answers, and a lot are being by XX??? 0:17:39.000XX before me that in terms of it being difficult, it’s just cooking simple ingredients. So you can make it as difficult or as easy as you like. Your traditional barbecue steak or salad and XXroast with baked potato?? 0:17:54.000XX. It’s perfectly paleo. And likewise you could make the make fabulous raw desserts or slow-cooked meals full of herbs and spices.
So, you can really make it as hard or simple as you like. In terms of the “expensive” argument, when you eat paleo, your body very much self-regulates, as you guys would know. And so, you know, you don’t find yourself snacking. And so whilst you’re buying premium ingredients, you’re barely eating three meals a day, generally. Some people even sustain themselves on two, depending on if they’re doing intermittent fasting or whatever is working for them based on their level of activity and their, I guess, own individual body.
But essentially, you’re buying a lot less food but you’re consuming quality ingredients. You’re feeling satisfied for longer. So you’re nourishing; you’re putting the right fuel into your body rather than empty fillers that really just make you fat and make you hungry; make you eat more.
So, in terms of, in regard to the expense, and certainly, I can’t see how anyone could imagine that eating beautiful, fresh, seasonal produce and premium meat and healthy fats with lovely herbs and spices where you can even concede that you would be sacrificing on taste. Like, nothing tastes better. And I think once you wean yourself off the traditional foods and the sugar and salt-laden foods, your taste buds adjust and you really appreciate the quality of the food that you’re eating.
And fruit and vegetables have never tasted better to you once you’ve adjusted in that way.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. That is massive. Especially the sugar thing. People don’t appreciate that. If you’ve got sugar in your diet and you’ve had it; so many people have had sugar in their diet their whole life and have never had a life without sugar. And until you get off that, you can’t really taste the appreciation of good food. You know?
And, yeah, I always remember many, many years ago when I sort of changed all my health journey. And my flatmate at the time, this is going back seven or eight years, he had the biggest sugar tooth. And he accidentally tried my full-cream natural yogurt by mistake thinking it was like his sugar vanilla loaded. And he almost spat it out. He said, “Oh, my God, that’s disgusting! What’s going on?” And that was just a classic example.
Marlies Hobbs: I suppose with the meat question, certainly, that comes up a lot, too. And, you know, that’s a misconception I suppose. Plant foods should be the greatest source of food that you’re consuming. Your food should predominantly be coming from plant foods. Then animal foods and then herbs and spices to bring it all together. And your healthy fats are incorporated into plant foods and animal foods.
So, it’s trying to eat a nice, balanced meal, you know. Eat some proteins and carbohydrates and some healthy fats. So, it’s definitely not a plate full of ribs, you know?
Guy Lawrence: And that’s another thing, Stu even stressed this as well, we have vegetables with every meal. Even when I make a smoothie, like if I’m rushing out the door and I’m throwing in some 180, I’ll always put spinach or cucumber or just something green in there as well to bring that in, you know, if you’ve got two minutes.
Marlies Hobbs: Absolutely. And I think that’s what; people are so stuck in their ways about this is typical breakfast meal, this is a typical lunch meal, and this is a typical dinner meal. It’s all just fuel. And so you basically have a fridge full of fresh, beautiful ingredients, paleo-friendly ingredients, and you’d be surprised what goes in what.
This morning I felt like chocolate mousse for breakfast. So I had banana, cacao, and a little bit of coconut milk, avocado, and blended it all together and topped it with some raspberries and blueberries. And who would have thought you could have a healthy chocolate mousse for breakfast?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s beautiful.
Stuart Cooke: Well, I had a whole bowl of steamed green vegetables covered in olive oil, salt, and pepper, topped with a huge can of sardines. So, you know, who would ever want to eat that for breakfast? But I gravitate to that kind of stuff. I love it. Because, to me, those vibrant colours, that green. I mean, that just says “life.” And irrespective of the paleo naysayers, you cannot argue that eliminating crappy food from your diet is anything but a great idea.
Marlies Hobbs: Definitely.
Guy Lawrence: On your journey, Marlies, which foods do you find have caused more problems for you in the past?
Marlies Hobbs: I have recently learned that Hashimoto’s Disease runs in my family, and I just recently, after the Thr1ve conference that I saw you guys at, I went and flew back down and saw Dr. John Hart from Elevate Health Clinic.
Stuart Cooke: Oh, did you?
Marlies Hobbs: Yeah. He is amazing.
Stuart Cooke: He’s awesome, isn’t he?
Marlies Hobbs: He’s a genius. And I took my mum along who has already been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. And sadly it was confirmed that I also have Hashimoto’s Disease. And it’s a very hereditary thing and it’s a thing that is more common in women than men. And I suppose it didn’t come as a huge shock and it’s probably something that triggered my health issues all those years ago before I found paleo. And certainly paleo put a lot of my symptoms in remission. So, I’m lucky that I found paleo when I did. And it’s actually sustained my hormone levels to a fairly healthy level.
So, for me, paleo is my diet for life. And certainly gluten is a huge factor for people with Hashimoto’s autoimmune disease. And from what I understand, in America alone, there’s 50 million and growing people with autoimmune disease. So, so many people have autoimmune disease and they don’t even realize it. They just accept their symptoms as normal and they’re completely not. They don’t know what it feels like to feel great.
And most illnesses start in the gut, due to leaky gut. And diet and lifestyle factors including stress, the predominant cause is a leaky gut, which lead to things like autoimmune disease, and autoimmune disease then can lead to more chronic disease and cancer and whatnot.
So, it’s very much; I think gluten is a huge problem, right along with sugar. Dairy, for people that can’t tolerate it, so I’ve just had all my food intolerance testing done and I’m just waiting for my results to come back. And John gives you this great report which basically gives you a column of all the foods that your body can tolerate. All the foods that you’re mildly intolerant to. And foods that you’re severely intolerant to.
So, there might be some foods within paleo, because of my Hashimoto’s condition, that I actually should be avoiding. So, it’s just; I guess investing the money to understand your body to the best extent possible so that you can really create a diet and lifestyle to suit your individual body.
Because, at the end of the day, what’s anything worth if you’re not living an optimal life with health and happiness?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Absolutely.
I’ll just add to that as well. We had John Hart on the podcast and so anyone listening to this, check him out, he’s an amazing guy. And, like you said, he’s worth flying from anywhere in the country to go and see him in Sydney. He’s that good.
But I would add to that as well, even if the price or whatever scares people, to get these tests done originally, just try cutting out these trigger foods for a month and see how you feel. See what happens. You know, that’s the basic way.
Stuart Cooke: Just thinking about, like, the food sensitivity, if I’m curious about your; the Paleo Café, I don’t really know a great deal about the paleo diet, but I do love my milky teas and things like that. Can I wander into the Paleo Café and get a nice cup of tea with cow’s milk in it?
Marlies Hobbs: Yeah, you can. And it was a difficult decision when we opened. But obviously paleo-primal. Paleo is, obviously, avoids dairy. Primal, a lot of people are happy to have some dairy in their diets.
And so, like I said, Jai can tolerate it. For me, I have to listen to my body. And we serve almond and coconut milk for people that are like myself. And that can be difficult to find, but for the people that can tolerate dairy and are looking for that, then we do have dairy options. But all our food is dairy-free.
Stuart Cooke: Got it.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
And I think it’s a great thing, even if a normal cup of tea and you’ve got dairy and it brings someone in off the street and puts them in this environment for the first time. And they’re looking at the menus, looking at their other options, that’s awesome. That’s the thumbs up because you’re creating a new way of thinking for these people that come in as well. And, yeah, I’m all for that. Definitely.
Marlies Hobbs: I think that XXaudio glitch 0:27:30.000XX certainly XXaudio glitchXX a lot of awareness around paleo at all when we very first opened the first Paleo Café. It sort of all happened collectively in the last sort of couple of years. And we just; we wouldn’t have been able to have a sustainable business at all if we limited our market any more than what we already had.
So; and, you know, if you are OK with dairy and you know that you’re OK with dairy, then, like Mark Sisson said at the conference, see what you can get away with.
Stuart Cooke: Exactly right.
Guy Lawrence: But there are so many options. We have our business meetings in Bondi Junction all the time in the Paleo Café, and it’s a great choice. But I generally gravitate to the Bulletproof coffee myself. There’s a bit of dairy in that but it sits with me fine.
Marlies Hobbs: Yeah, and, look, a lot of people are fine. And I think that if you’ve got a very healthy gut, flora and whatnot, and you’re not experiencing any leaky gut, you know, there’s plenty of people that are OK with it. I think it’s just a matter of, you know, it takes a lot of effort to get yourself to that really healthy point and making sure that you don’t have leaky gut.
And when you get there, then you can experiment. But until you get there, I think it’s really important to take your health seriously. And you will have to sacrifice and avoid some things to get your body functioning as it should be. And then you can play around with those.
Stuart Cooke: Exactly. Yeah. No, it is right, and it brings me back to that food sensitivity testing. You know, that’s so vital. You may not know that you have got a sensitivity or an allergy or an intolerance to a certain food that you’re including every single day. And that might just be pushing you into weight issues, sleep, energy, you know: allergies. All of the above.
And these tests, you know, they’re inexpensive, they’re quick, but I think so worthwhile. I absolutely. . . You know, I live by the results of mine or our food sensitivity tests and it’s great. I feel so much better for it.
Marlies Hobbs: What testing did you guys get, just as a matter of interest?
Stuart Cooke: Food Detective. It’s called a Food Detective test and it was a prick of blood from the finger and then it gets shaken into a vial, wait for 20 minutes, pour it over in this little tray with a series of dots, and each dot represents a food type. So, you’ve got, like, a tray with dots and then you have a card and all those dots are numbered, so 1 might be dairy, 2 might be wheat. And when you pour the liquid over that is mixed with your blood, that has sat for 20 minutes, those dots will darken the more sensitive you are to a food. So, you know, in literally 30 minutes’ time I knew that I had issues to kind of three or four things. And so I pulled back on those and I noticed radical health changes.
Marlies Hobbs: Do you mind sharing what they were?
Stuart Cooke: Eggs.
Guy Lawrence: Eggs is a big one for you.
Stuart Cooke: Eggs was huge. And I, you know, I was eating four eggs a day and loving it, but just something wasn’t right with me and it was wrecking my skin and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it was.
Shellfish came up, strangely enough. Yeah, shellfish, eggs. Walnuts were in there as another one. I used to have a handful of walnuts. So I changed to pecans now. Great. No problems whatsoever. And mild wheat.
Guy Lawrence: I mean, you avoid gluten anyway, really.
Stuart Cooke: I do. But, you know what, 30 minutes, and I just culled eggs completely for six months. And I feel so much better now. And every now and again I’ll have the odd one, but I won’t go gangbusters like I was before. Crikey, I ate huge amounts of eggs each week, because I thought, well, it’s a superfood.
Marlies Hobbs: Yeah, absolutely. And they are great, but if there is an underlying issue that you need to heal, then certainly I understand that I will have to go onto the paleo protocol, the autoimmune protocol, shortly. And eggs go for awhile. So, yeah, and it’s not because eggs aren’t great. It’s just that our; there are certain proteins that if you have leaky gut, or if you experience an issue, to let that leaky gut heal, you need to refrain from eating certain foods.
And, I mean, we haven’t really gone into detail about sugar and grains and gluten and chemicals. But I think we’re all fairly savvy enough now to know that they’re not good for us and why. But, you know, just making that awareness that it’s even beyond the foods that you’ll find in the paleo food pyramid, it’s a matter of really understanding your body and making sure that you have got perfect gut health, or as close to it as possible. Because, you know, the whole gut-brain connection. And certainly something I experienced, you know, when my gut flora is compromised, it causes me a lot of challenges academically and to function. Like, my productivity really drops. My creativity drops. I get fatigue.
So, it’s all connected, you know. Gut health and brain health is very much. I’ve definitely experienced first-hand the connection there. And it’s so fundamental to get your gut health right if you want to feel happy, feel healthy, and have energy and longevity.
You know, like, I’m determined; I look at John and he’s a real inspiration, you know. He is gonna just XX??? 0:33:32.000XXX by the look of him. XX????XXX. And that’s what you want. You want to be functioning and fun of vitality until the end.
And that’s why, I guess, my goal for myself and also to teach that to my children. I don’t want them to accept the way things were going. You know? That basically obesity, diabetes, heart disease, all just part of life. That is not part of life. That is not what was intended for us. And you have the choice to shape your future, your health, and your longevity and how much quality of life you have for your entire life.
Stuart Cooke: You completely do. And I love the fact that we have such a powerful medium in the forms of food. You know, nutrition, as a strategy for health moving forward. And for all of those people that are, you know, on the fence with the paleo, the primal, the whole-food diet, I just remember that, you know, when I started out on this journey, I thought, “God, this is so hard. What am I gonna eat? I can’t eat my sandwiches. Can’t eat pasta. Can’t eat any of these things.” Walking around the supermarket and going, “Oh, I can’t eat any of that.”
It took about a month and then you realize that there’s so much to each. But it’s just the good stuff. And then I look at the central aisles at the supermarket. It’s like cat food. Why would I ever gravitate to any of that rubbish? Because I know how it will make me feel.
And there’s so much wonderful stuff. So, sure, you’re meals aren’t conventional anymore, but I look it as, you know, food is information. Food is fuel. And what do I want to do today? Right? I’m going to be a bit more active, well I might mix up a few more carbs, but every single food or meal for me is about getting as many nutrients into my body as I can, because I’m thinking, “What is my body gonna do with those nutrients?” And whether it’s herbs and spices, fats and oils, beautiful fruits and vegetables, all these wonderful meats. You know, it is an opportunity to refuel, rebuild, repair. And I love that kind of stuff.
And now, like I said, I wander around the supermarket and I’m so sad for the people that don’t understand, because they could feel amazing. We have the tools.
Guy Lawrence: And, again, for anyone listening to this, that might seem completely overwhelming because you can look at it all as too much information and you just shut down and go, “You know what? I’ll figure it out next month. I’m too busy.”
But even just try changing one meal a day to something. And just start from that and just point yourself in the right direction and walk forward with it.
Marlies Hobbs: Jai and I fell on and off the wagon quite a few times when we first adopted the lifestyle. We were fairly strict for sort of like six weeks. And then my skin cleared up and I was like, “Yeah!” Then I’d have a little sip of that milkshake that I missed. Oh, my skin would just break out. And I would literally feel the fluid just stick to me in an instant. And then you’re like, “Yeah. That didn’t really work great.” And then you don’t do it again for awhile. And then you feel really brave and good and you have another little go of something.
And your body tells you. So I think if you give yourself the chance to eliminate in whatever XXextreme sense? 0:37:07.000XX that you go with, you know, if you’re really listening to your body and you persist with it, and you take small steps or a big one if you’re prepared to do like a Whole30 challenge or whatnot, it’s just a matter of moving in the right direction, however fast you can do that. You know?
And common sense tells us the answer. There’s some people who are too stressed, they’re too depressed, maybe they’re under financial difficulties, they have kids that just got bad habits to eating and their arguments just aren’t worth it to them. You know? So people have lots of reasons not to do this. But no one can really sensibly argue with the philosophy, I don’t think.
Especially if you take the view that we all have to be just very much educated about our own bodies and listen to our bodies. And they tell a lot more than what people realize when they start listening. You know, like being depressed or having financial issues or having kids stuck with bad habits, I know, and believe me I understand, I’ve got two children myself, and even Troy who has been brought up on a paleo diet, he still challenges me because he’s surrounded by kids that eat candy or everyone else has vegemite sandwiches and why does have; today he’s got pork chop and broccoli and sweet potato chips. And he’s just; he’s really going through a troublesome phase at the moment, because he’s looking at the muesli bars and the sandwiches and he’s like, “Why am I getting this?” But I just explained to him, and yes, it won’t be easy in the beginning, but if you understand where you’re going with it and why you’re doing it, you know, you break habits with children if you eliminate the bad foods and you always offer them the good foods and you get them involved and you get them helping. You know, Troy was pretty happy about having chocolate mousse for breakfast this morning. Get them involved and you make them understand where food comes from, that it comes from nature, not from a box, and you get them in there cooking and make it a bit interactive. Yes, it takes effort, but it’s better than obesity or diabetes.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right. It’s worth it in the long run. And, you know, I’ve got three young girls and if I ever hear any issues from them where food is concerned, I’ll give them a couple of options. “Do you want healthy option one or healthy option two?” And they’ll always gravitate to one. And they think they’ve won.
Marlies Hobbs: That’s great. Good. Exactly. I do the same thing with Troy, and that’s exactly right. And, you know, you always just have to keep improvising and trying to educate subtly along the way. And like depression, there’s a huge link between depression and gut health and whatnot as well. So, you know, personal body image and all that type of thing.
So, people don’t appreciate, I don’t think, how powerful changing your diet and lifestyle. It’s not just about losing weight. It’s about a new lifestyle. It’s about a new appreciation of your body. Self-love. And a whole healthy relationship with yourself and food.
And that’s very empowering. You feel free. You know, so many people are currently addicted to so many foods, they are under the spell of some foods. And that’s not an enjoyable place to be. And I know, I didn’t realize until I came out of it, how bad it was. And so empowering to look at it, like you said, walk past those aisles in the supermarket and go, “Ugh, those poor people that are putting that horrible stuff into their bodies. They just don’t understand.” And it’s very empowering. It’s not a chore. It’s not a diet. It’s a lifestyle, and you feel so much better for it.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. I was, just to get back to your son, and we mentioned a little bit of food there as well. Now, I don’t know how old your boys are, but our girls get invited to lots of parties. You know, every weekend: “Come to the party. Come to the party.” There will be a whole table full of crap, sweets and lollies and sodas and stuff like that.
Now, I have a strategy that I use when I take them to the parties prior to that. But I wondered what your thoughts were. Is there anything that you do for your boys before you get to the party, or do you just let them go gangbusters on whatever they want?
Marlies Hobbs: It’s a hard thing, and I’m just trying to feel my way all the time. You know, obviously there’s no bad foods at our house. So, Troy predominantly eats paleo. So, if, on occasion, he has something outside of that space and whatnot, I’m not gonna have a meltdown over it. Because it’s just not worth it, you know. And I think the more of an issue you make it, the more they sort of resent and resist you. But I basically try and make sure that he’s fairly full before we go to a party. So, he’s not going there starving. And often he doesn’t; he likes playing. He likes being out and about.
When he was younger, he used to just: hand in icing, sugar, cake. It was a big joke. Everyone would be like, “Oh, watch out for Troy! He’s been unleashed. There’s the sugar!” And he would just literally go for that cake.
And it was a bit embarrassing, because everyone would have their snicker, “Oh, those parents. He never has sugar and when he gets to a party. . .”
Stuart Cooke: He makes up for it.
Marlies Hobbs: Yeah. If you can’t find him, he’s probably looking for the lolly bowl, you know. But he’s really come out of that phase. And now he really; and our friends are very accommodating with us, too. And I’ve seen a really healthy shift. We will go parties, they’ll have some unhealthy food option, but Troy just doesn’t really go for them anymore.
And, yeah, they have barbecues or roast meat and veggies and stuff. We’re very lucky. We have very considerate family and friends. I guess they’re probably moving in that direction themselves anyway. But when they know we’re coming, they sort of do allow for us a bit. And we just try not to put a big emphasis on food. So many people live from meal to meal like it’s the highlight of their day. To me, it’s just fuel. You’re a bit hungry, you’ve got to get energy, you eat some good food, and then you move on to doing some fun stuff. Like, some people just sit around all day, “Oh, what are we gonna do? Where are we gonna go next for a meal?” And they sit and eat and they sit around and hibernate until the next meal and it’s a sure way to health issues, I suppose.
Guy Lawrence: How old is Troy, Marlies?
Marlies Hobbs: So, Troy will be turning 4 in June. And Zac’s 8 months.
Guy Lawrence: Right. OK. Because I don’t have kids yet, but I imagine it’s much easier to bring them up with this lifestyle than you converting yourself and then having a 10-year-old you’re trying to convert. Maybe get off the sugar and lollies that they’re eating all the time.
Marlies Hobbs: It would be very hard. And it would take very much a lot of determination, I think, and very much getting rid of everything in the house and really having a really well-explained approach to what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Get them involved and get them involved with the cooking.
You know, there will be different approaches for different families. You know, maybe a gentle approach they don’t notice, and other families it might be like a pretty cold turkey approach, you know.
And I think you just have to work out what can you handle? What is manageable for you as a family? And I think sometimes the stress can be worse than some of the bad foods so you need to balance it out. And do it in a way that’s not going to cause too much stress on you and your family.
Guy Lawrence: Like World War III.
Stuart Cooke: And I think that, you know, kids are so impressionable, too. You know, they look at their parents and they want to emulate what their parents are doing. So if their parents have got healthy habits, then it’s gonna rub off on the kids anyway, which is a good thing.
Marlies Hobbs: Definitely.
Guy Lawrence: Why do you think kids’ menus in cafés. . . You know, being a café owner, why do you think the kids’ menus in cafés and restaurants are so poor in general?
Guy Lawrence: Every time I eat out, I always look.
Stuart Cooke: Fish and chips. Schnitzel and chips. XXBagel?? 0:45:49.000XX and chips.
Guy Lawrence: Ice cream and soda.
Marlies Hobbs: And the thing is, I think my observation, anyway, with Troy especially, is that they are very impressionable and their taste buds are; those foods are as addictive to them as they are for us. Probably more so addictive to them. Because they don’t understand the difference between. . . Like, I try to educate Troy about, you know, a treat or “good food” and “bad food,” we talk about a lot.
And they don’t; he understands that and we talk about that a lot and he; they don’t understand the adverse effects on their health, I suppose, of the bad foods. They just taste good. They trigger all sorts of emotions and addictions in them. And so when they’ve had them once, their, like, radar is going. So if you go to a restaurant and they’re like, “Oh, you can have steak and vegetables or you can fish and chips.” Pretty much you will rarely find a kid that hasn’t been under the spell once they’ve tasted the saltiness of those fish and chips. It’s very difficult to make them choose the healthy option.
So, I think that’s probably why the menus are the way they are. Because they’re trying to please. And they’re the only foods that the kids will be ordering. And the parents are out for dinner; they just want to have a pleasant meal and they don’t feel like arguing and having a tantrum at the table because they’re trying to order steak and vegetables, if that’s even on option, than the fish and chips. So, for ease and also it’s price. It costs nothing to deep fry some disgusting, processed nuggets and chips. But it costs money to put a nice piece of steak or meat and some vegetables on a plate. It’s all fresh and it’s prepared by the chef. Whereas they’re not just dumped into a deep fryer and slapped on a plate.
So, there are the reasons. And it’s devastating, really. And I think the only real answer. . . Like, for us, when we go out, we don’t tell Troy if there’s a kids’ menus. We often just order either another meal for him or we order something that’s too big for me to eat and he eats; we get another plate and he eats what I eat.
And on occasion when we have allowed him; there’s been times where a family member is gonna have fish and chips and he loves it, like any other kid, he loves it, but he actually feels really sick afterwards. The oil from the batter, from the deep fryer, often he’ll vomit because he’s just so nut familiar with having that in his stomach.
So, yeah, I guess that’s my real take on it.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: No, absolutely. There’s some great pointers there as well. Like, you can you always order a meal and split it. That’s kind of what we do. We order an adult meal and we order a couple of extra plates and we divvy it up that way for the kids. And there’s generally more options as well for them, as opposed to this little miniscule XXparty 0:49:11.000XX menu, which is never gonna be great in the first place.
Marlies Hobbs: Yeah, like when you order a meal and then you order a side of vegetables or a side of vegetables and a salad and then you share it amongst yourselves, it’s pretty much not too much more expensive than ordering a kids’ meal when you do it that way. And everyone ends up happy and healthy. But it definitely does take effort to make sure that you have foresight. Because as soon as they spot that kids’ menu with all of those chips and stuff, it’s over. It’s over for you.
Stuart Cooke: Game over.
Marlies Hobbs: Yeah. Game over. Game over. So, you really have to have a strategy.
Guy Lawrence: Would you, because I know you have a book as well, Marlies, and is there any kids’ menus in that? I haven’t seen the book. But would that be an option for parents?
Marlies Hobbs: Yeah. I’ve got a kids’ section in there, a Paleo for Families section in there. And it gives some great tips about things we’ve spoken about. About parties and whatnot. And also has some great little meals and treats and whatnot, and even ones that you can get the kids involved in. Even the chocolate mousse recipe that Troy loves.
Stuart Cooke: Got is. So, is it predominantly a cookbook or have you got a whole heap of other stuff in there as well?
Marlies Hobbs: Yeah, it’s a Paleo Café lifestyle and cookbook, so the first sections are about the diet and the lifestyle. Just a very nice, simple, gentle introduction. You know: It’s not only technical and complicated so it’s very much a nice; like, people have always complimented us on the information. It’s what you need to know without it feeling too daunting, I suppose. And then it’s got over 130 recipes in there.
Yeah. And we get great feedback all the time on the recipes. Because they’ve been created, obviously, in our cafes and had to be produced at quite a large scale in pretty short time frames. Everything’s very economical, generally, in terms of cost and time to prepare. So, there’s some really great practical recipes. You don’t see these two page long lists of ingredients and whatnot. It’s fairly practical in that sense.
Guy Lawrence: Sounds like my kind of book.
Stuart Cooke: And if I didn’t live near a Paleo Café, where could I grab that book?
Marlies Hobbs: You can get it online from our website, www.Paleo-Cafe.com.au.
Guy Lawrence: We can link to that. I’m just curious: What’s your favorite dish in there?
Marlies Hobbs: My favorite dish in the cookbook. I absolutely love, and obviously I’m from Cairns and mangos are beautiful here; we have a delicious mango avocado macadamia nut salad, which I really love. It’s a favorite. It’s been on the menu a few times at the Paleo Café. It’s just actually gone out because mangoes have gone out of season. But that’s probably one of my favorites. And it was on the menu when the café very first opened here in Cairns.
Stuart Cooke: In the next edition, perhaps you can get my sardine breakfast surprise in there.
Marlies Hobbs: Yes. Yes. I’m going to have to taste test it first.
Guy Lawrence: You need to put that right on the back page, hidden somewhere.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right. Save the best to last.
Marlies Hobbs: I’m gonna have to give it a go.
Guy Lawrence: I can’t. I can’t do sardines.
Stuart Cooke: Just got a couple more questions, Marlies. Where are you going to take the Paleo Café brand? How big is this going to be?
Marlies Hobbs: I suppose the sky is the limit when it comes to the paleo café brand. And we definitely have a few different things that we’re looking at at the moment, you know, to try and. . . I guess our primary goal is to spread the message about the benefits of the paleo lifestyle to as many people as possible. And that’s through the cafés, through collaborations, through our website, through our publications. And hopefully in the near future a recipe app which is nice and simple for people to access right off their phones.
We XXaudio glitch 0:53:27.000XX so we can basically gauge the market and move in the directions that we need to move, I suppose, to do the best we can in the environment that we have.
And definitely XXaudio glitch 0:53:38.000XX making sure we can reach the masses and making sure that we can educate people why they are coming to Paleo Café as opposed to another café. And there are things that we are sort of trying to achieve through education online and obviously it’s great to have opportunities like this one to share our message as well.
Guy Lawrence: Awesome. Awesome.
Stuart Cooke: It’s exciting times!
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. There’s a lot going on.
So, Marlies, we always finish with a wrap-up question, the same one every week. It’s one of my favorites. And that is: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Marlies Hobbs: I suppose it’s a very broad application but basically everyone just needs to believe in the beauty of your dreams, whether that’s in relation to your own personal health. Some type of, I guess, performance goal or even in business. You know: Believe in the beauty of your dreams and if you’re passionate about something, just go for it.
And the other thing would be definitely to look after your body because it’s the only place that you have to life.
Stuart Cooke: I like it. It’s true.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s so true. We spread that message every week ourselves. Yeah. Fantastic.
And if anyone listening to this, I guess the website would be the best place to get more of you guys and the Paleo Café to find out if they’re in their local area and more about the book, right?
Marlies Hobbs: Yeah. The books on there and all the local cafés are listed there as well on the website. And we obviously have Facebook pages as well for the respective cafés as well the head office business.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Brilliant. Well, we’ll XXlink to all that 0:55:19.000XX when the podcast goes out anyway. And then, yeah, that was fantastic. Thank you so much for coming on the show, Marlies. We really appreciate your time.
Marlies Hobbs: Thank you so much.
Stuart Cooke: It was great. So much information. I think people will get so much out of this as well. Thank you again.
Marlies Hobbs: I really appreciate it. I always love chatting to you both.
Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
The word inflammation gets thrown around all the time. From bloggers, health nuts, athletes and practitioners; they all say eat this or do that to reduce inflammation! But do you really understand what inflammation is, and more importantly, what low-grade inflammations is?
Well have no fear if you don’t, because if you are willing to commit three minutes of your time to the above video, you will hear probably the best description of inflammation and why you REALLY need to know about it.
This week our special guest is Dr John Hart who is a longevity medicine practitioner. This is probably the most important podcast we’ve done to date and we highly recommend you check it out, as he explains the simple things you can do to avoid chronic illness, live longer, healthier, happier and improve the quality of your life.
Full Interview: Mastering Hormones, Gut Health, Inflammation & Living to 120 Years Old
Audio Version of the Full Interview Here:
In this episode we talk about:
How to add healthy and happy years onto your life by making simple changes
The best description of inflammation you’ll ever hear
The best description of leaky gut you’ll ever hear
Why hormones are crucial to our health, vibrance & labido!
Applying the ‘Big 5′ to avoid the pitfalls of chronic disease as we age
Guy Lawrence: Hi, this is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. You know, I might be a little bit biased, but it never ceases to amaze me when we have guests on and some of the information that they impart with us and today’s guest is absolutely no exception about this.
I might have repeated it before, but the more I learn I realize the more I don’t actually know. Because every time I seem to explore these rabbit holes, when it comes to health and wellness and life and nutrition and you name it, the more things are just getting revealed to me.
If you’re watching this podcast in video, you probably notice my jaw is opened for half of it, because the information I just shared on you is just absolutely, I find it absolutely fascinating and it’s fantastic to be bringing the podcast to you today.
Our fantastic guest is Dr. John Hart. Now, he’s a fantastic and beautiful human being and he’s a longevity medicine practitioner and we delve into essentially the human body and the life of the human body and how we can extend it and live actually a happier, healthier life going into our 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and even beyond that. Which is awesome!
He talks about two specific things, which is: life span of the human being, but also then the health span of the human being. And the idea is to expand the health span so the quality of your life continues as you get older as well and then that has a knock-on effect, because it obviously affects your life span. And doing this as well, I probably heard the best description of leaky gut I’ve ever heard as well and the importance of it.
So, we dive into so many things and it’s definitely going to be a podcast I’m going to play to myself a couple of times to re-get this information. So, I have no doubt that you’re going to get a lot out of this today.
We also get emails, you know. Sometimes this information is overload, where’s the best place to start? How do we do it? And I find myself repeating these things, so I thought I’d print a podcast.
If you’re new to 180 Nutrition, download the e-book. It’ll probably take you 30 minutes to read. It’s 26 pages. It’s written in a nice simple manner, outlining what we feel to be the best principles for health, to apply for long-term health. Simple as that!
Our 180 Superfood, you know, it’s completely natural. If you want to start cutting out processed foods from your diet, which is what we always encourage and recommend, all you have to do is get some 180 Superfood.
I have it in a smoothie every morning. So, I’ll mix it with some fats, like avocado. I normally put a greens power in if I don’t have any spinach and things like that and I usually us a low glycemic fruit as well. Berries, quarter of a banana sometimes, things like that. And then you’re getting nutrients, you know. You’re not getting just glucose, which is from processed carby foods that most people do. You’re getting the nutrients from all that.
And the last thing as well is, yeah, you can sign up to our newsletter and we send out articles every week. They’re all free. You can read them. All have different thoughts and discussions.
So, yeah, do them things and you’ll be well on your way. Just slowly taking this information in all the time. It’s just as simple as that.
And of course, if you’re listening to this through iTunes, leave a little review, give use your feedback on the podcast. It’s always really appreciated. Subscribe to it. Five-star it, And that just literally helps us with iTunes rankings and continues to get the word out there.
So, let’s go over to John Hart. This is an awesome podcast and I have no doubt that you’re going to enjoy it.
Guy Lawrence: Okay. Hi, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke. Hi, Stewie.
Stuart Cooke: Hello.
Guy Lawrence: Well, a little freeze there. He’s back. Our special guest today is Dr. John Hart. John, welcome to the show. Thanks for coming on, mate. We really appreciate it.
Dr. John Hart: Thanks, Guy. Thanks for inviting me.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, with just; what I thought I’d do is just fill in with the listeners a little bit about the background of it all, because we met at the THR1VE symposium, which is probably just over a month ago now and of course, we were all speaking there, with Mark Sisson being brought over, and we came in onto your talk and was just absolutely blown away with what you had to say and you could clearly see everyone else in the room was too. So, we’ve been trying to figure out how we can get that into our podcast somehow. So, we’ll have a good go anyway. I don’t know whether we’ll achieve it, but we’ve certainly got a few questions about to run through with you today, John. So, it’s much appreciated, mate.
So, just to get the ball rolling would you mine sharing a little bit about yourself? What you do and I guess a little bit about your own journey, like you did.
Dr. John Hart: Well, I’ve always had an interest in health and performance and I started off playing sports at a reasonably high level; volleyball and biking and rowing and then went to Uni and got into the Uni lifestyle and did a few degrees and ended up with an interest in sports medicine, sports science and medicine. And since then been training up on all the different aspects of human performance and human health.
So, you get trained in disease and disease management medicine and that’s okay. I mean, modern medicine is very good at treating life-threatening diseases and acute injuries and infections. And they’re the things that used to kill us was acute injury and infections, but nowadays it’s more chronic diseases. Long-term, low-grade inflammation causing damage to tissues that lead to the 70 to 80 percent of causes of death, with chronic degenerative diseases, like heart attacks and stokes and cancer and dementia and osteoporosis.
And modern medicine is not that good at that. If I have a serious infection, or I have a broken bone, you know I’ll be going straight to the nearest hospital, but if I want to stay healthy and detect early disease and turn it around, rather than waiting until it gets into the severe, sort of permanent damage, then I think you’ve got to go looking at more functional medicine or integrative medicine techniques to be effective.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Okay. So, just a little outside of medicine right now and, you know, million dollar question on everyone’s lips; in your opinion, how significant is nutrition for overall health?
Dr. John Hart: Yeah, I think, I talk about the Big Five. If you want to have a long healthy life you’ve got to have five things that are working optimally …
Stuart Cooke: Okay.
Dr. John Hart: … and that’s diet, exercise, sleep, stress management, and hormones, probably in that order. I think diet is the most important one. If your diet’s bad, if it’s really bad, you’re not going to be able to counteract that one by getting all the other ones working. But for optimal health, you’ve got to have them all working. Because each one that’s broken is going to lead to degeneration and disease.
So, nutrition, whether that’s diet and/or dietary supplements, I’d put that as the most important one. But you’ve got to put attention on all of them. It’s like, you’ve got a car and you only put attention on the engine. You don’t worry about tires or the steering or the air conditioning or whatever or the hole in the roof. You’ve got to do everything if you want it to run well.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, and from what we can see, most people aren’t running all five. There’s normally something amiss.
Dr. John Hart: You say most people, all five are not optimal, they’re all broken to a degree and just about everybody’s got sleep that is broken.
When you’re young, your hormones usually take care of themselves. Because in your 20s, Mother Nature wants you operating well so that you can reproduce and raise the next generation. But once you get into your 30s and you’ve done that, Mother Nature doesn’t really need to have you around any more, so it’s quite happy to generate decline and die off. And part of the way it does that is to decrease the production of most of the hormones that control what the body does.
So, the hormones don’t actually do anything. They just tell the body what to do. If you don’t make the hormones, then the body doesn’t get told what to do. It doesn’t do it and you degenerate, you age, you die off and stop off at the nursing home maybe for 10 years on the way.
So, when you’re young, you don’t have to worry about the hormones because it’s in Mother Nature’s interest to have them all working optimally.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Dr. John Hart: Most people that’s what happens, not everybody, but most people. But certainly as you get older, most hormones decline and then you’ve got to put more attention on it.
So, the way I think about it is, that when you’re young there’s a lot of things that happen automatically and you don’t have to worry about it too much and you’ve got a big reserve.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Dr. John Hart: The older you get, the less happens automatically, the more you have to take it out of manual control, if you want to maintain your health. You don’t have to, but if you don’t, you will degenerate and you’ll suffer the disability and the pain and the discomfort and the limitations of what you can do because of that.
Guy Lawrence: Right. And does that slow up the aging process then, by intervening and then the aging …
Dr. John Hart: Yeah. You can think about it as normal aging or optimal aging. Normal aging is the stage of decline that Mother Nature’s in favor of us going through to kill us off. But we’ve got the technology and the knowledge now to intervene in that and have optimal aging, where basically you stay healthy and active and independent and vital for much, much longer and instead of having a long period, say a third of your life in sort of fairly serious decline and decay and disability, you know you can shorten that done to a few years.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Wow. I certainly like the idea of optimal …
Dr. John Hart: Yeah. There’s life span and there’s health span. And so, life span is how long you live, but health span is how long you’re healthy.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Quality of life.
Dr. John Hart: Yes, that’s right. So, we’ve sort of extended our life span, but we haven’t really extended our health span yet with modern medicine. You know, it has to a degree, but not as much as the life span. So, there seems to be more of a gap now between the limit of your health span and the limit of your life span.
So, anti-aging medicine, age management medicine, longevity medicine, whatever you want to call it, it’s all about identifying why your health span’s declining and correcting it. So, maintain your health span.
And it turns out that the things improve your health span, also improve your life span.
Stuart Cooke: Yes.
Dr. John Hart: The health span’s the criteria , because there’s no point in living longer if it’s in a nursing home.
Stuart Cooke: Exactly.
Guy Lawrence: If you’ve been dragged over the line, yeah. Absolutely.
Stuart Cooke: And does the strategies, regarding the things that you’ve spoken about, include gut health? Because we’ve been hearing a lot about the critical importance of microbiome right now. It seems to be a bit of a buzzword. Is there; what do you think about that?
Dr. John Hart: Yeah. I think just sort of the big picture is that the things that cause degen; the main thing that causes degeneration and deterioration and aging of the body is inflammation. And the single major source of inflammation is an unhealthy gut in most people. So, by correcting the gut, then you can minimize the inflammation in your body, which then decreases the degeneration and the decay in your body.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Dr. John Hart: So, I’ll just talk a bit about inflammation, because everybody has heard about the word, but don’t have a picture of what it means.
So, we have the ability to mount an acute inflammatory response, in a local part of the body, in response to the things that used to kill us. The things that used to kill us were infections and trauma.
So, it you get a local infection or you get trauma in a part of your body, you will set up an acute inflammatory response to deal with it. And what happens is your blood vessels dilate, so more blood goes to the area and that’s why it looks redder and feels warmer. And when the blood vessels get leaky, so cells that have transported into that area can get out of the blood vessels and at the same time fluid leaks out with it, so the area swells up and those cells then go around and they eat the infectious agent, whether it’s a bacteria or fungus or parasite or whatever or they eat the damaged tissue. Now the cells come in and repair the damage. And then once it’s all fixed, it all goes away.
So, that redness, swelling, heat, pain is fixing the problem, hopefully and then once the problem’s fixed it all just settles down. So, that’s an acute local inflammatory response, a really good idea to do with infections and traumas that used to kill us.
But nowadays we’ve controlled infections. You know we know about food preparation and food storage and waste removal and antibodies and vaccinations, so infections are not big killers any more. And we’ve got our environment pretty well controlled.
We don’t have dinosaurs and tigers and people with clubs and spears. We’ve got occupational health and safety, so traumas not a big killer any more.
Now, 70 to 80 percent of people die to chronic degenerative diseases, which is diseases that are caused by this inflammatory process being turned on a little bit by the whole body, for decades.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Dr. John Hart: So, the chronic degenerative diseases are caused by chronic low grade inflammation and that’s caused by a whole lot of things triggering off a little bit of this inflammatory process. And so, if you want to have a long healthy life, you want to have low levels of inflammation.
We’re all way more inflamed than we were a thousand years, when we were running around the jungle, touching the ground, out in the sun. Pulling the fruits right off the tree in season. Drinking fresh water. Physically active. Relatively low stress. Sleeping from nine to twelve hours in the back of the cave. Now, that’s what the body expects.
But the current lifestyle is totally different. We’ve got the same body, but we’ve got a totally different environment that we’re asking it to live in, and it’s not getting what it needs. And all these things that it’s being exposed to or things that it’s not being exposed to that it expects are triggering off this inflammation in the body that causes damage.
Guy Lawrence: Got it. What you’re saying then is if your gut is not operating correctly, you’re constantly going to create low-grade inflammation.
Dr. John Hart: Yeah. So, if you’ve got what is called a “leaky gut” or increased intestinal permeability, that’s basically a source of toxicity or infection into the body. So, maybe we talk a bit about the gut just quickly.
Guy Lawrence: Sure.
Dr. John Hart: The thing about the gut, it’s a tube that runs through the center of your body. It’s open at both ends and what’s inside that tube is not yet inside your body. It’s in a tube that’s passing through your body. So, inside that tube there are billions of bacteria. Up to ten times more bacteria in your gut than there are cells in your body.
So, it’s a whole little environment there, a whole new microenvironment in that tube. And if you’ve got the right bugs and they’re happy, as in well looked after, well-fed; then they act as an organ of your body. Now, they’re regarded now that two to three kilograms of slushy poo is regarded as an organ of your body, because it supports the health of your whole body. Just like your heart and your lungs and your brains.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Dr. John Hart: If you’ve got the right bugs, they make vitamins for you. They help you digest your food. They pull minerals off your food. They stimulate your immune system appropriately. They ferment your food into things called short-chain fatty acids. And short-chain fatty acids are important, because they’re the preferred fuel for the lining of the gut. And the lining of the gut has to be healthy, because it has to function as a semi-permeable membrane. It has to be able to pump through vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fats, etc. from digestion. But it has to keep out of the body, in the tube, the bugs, the waste products of the bugs, the dead bugs, the parts of the dead bugs, and the big undigested food particles.
And if the lining of the gut is healthy, then that will all happen and everything’s fine. The stuff that’s in the gut stays in the gut, and the live body gets the nutrition that it needs.
But if the lining of the gut is irritated or inflamed, then you get a thing called increased intestinal permeability or leaky gut.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Dr. John Hart: That then lets; so, the lining of the gut then doesn’t work properly. So, it doesn’t pump through the vitamins, minerals, amino acids as well as it should and it starts letting through stuff that it shouldn’t. The toxins and poisons and parts of bugs and non-digested food particles in your gut, into your body.
And your body’s immune system is designed to be constantly surveilling your gut,
your body, for what is not you. Your body’s immune system should be able to find bacteria, infections, viruses and kill them before they can take over and kill you, but to leave you alone.
So, your immune system’s job is to survive foreign invaders. Now, the most likely source of foreign invaders, in the normal body, is from the gut, because that’s where the mass majority of them are.
So, 80 to 90 percent of the immune system is in the wall of the gut, constantly surveilling the gut, secreting antibodies into it, trying to control what goes on in there. And anything that can get through the wall of the gut, your immune system checks it out and says, “I recognize you, you can pass, you’re a vitamin, you’re a mineral, whatever.” Or “I don’t recognize you, you must be a toxin, you must be some foreign invader. You’re not suppose to be here.” and it attacks it and destroys it.
Guy Lawrence: And out you go.
Stuart Cooke: Are there any particular culprits that spring to mind, that really do affect the health of our gut?
Dr. John Hart: Yeah. The two main sort of categories of things that irritate the lining of the gut, to cause leaky gut, are foods and the wrong bugs.
So, if you’ve got foods; there are foods that everybody is sensitive to some degree and there are foods that individuals have their own particular sensitivity.
Stuart Cooke: Hmm.
Dr. John Hart: You kill off the good ones with courses of antibiotics or antibiotics in your meat or chemicals like insecticides, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, colorings, flavorings, preservatives, sweeteners, heavy metals; they’re all going to make those bugs either kill them off or sick and angry and then they’re going to react accordingly.
So, if the bugs are not happy with where they are, they’re going to try and leave. And so, the only way out is through the wall of the gut. So, they’re going to get angry. They’re going to get irritated. They’re going to start releasing inflammatory mediators and attack the wall of the gut to try to get out of where they are now, because they’re not happy where they are. It’s not comfortable.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Dr. John Hart: So, everything you eat, you’re not just feeding you, you’re feed them. So, here’s a little snip; fact that will blow your mind. If you look at all the cells on and in you have nucleuses and in the nucleuses; in the nucleus of each cell is the DNA and the DNA controls what that cell does, whether it’s a bacteria cell, or a human cell.
If you look at all the DNA that’s on and in you, only two percent of it is yours. The rest of it is the bacteria, the viruses, the parasites that live on and in you; us.
Stuart Cooke: Wow!
Dr. John Hart: And that’s normal, as long as they’re the good guys.
Guy Lawrence: Wow!
Dr. John Hart: So, if you think about it from their point of view, they’re actually running the show. We’re just the apartment block; the host and they’re the tenants. We’re just the landlord.
So, as with any landlord-tenant relationship, the landlord has to make sure the tenant’s happy; otherwise, the tenant’s going to trash the place. If the tenant’s happy, he’ll look after the place. If he’s unhappy he’s not going to look after it. And that’s exactly what happens between us and the bugs or the microbiome in our gut.
And it’s the same relationship that we are just coming to understand about the external environment. If we trash the external environment there’s going to be kickback to our health. We can’t pollute the planet and expect to have; be healthy ourselves.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Dr. John Hart: We can’t pollute our internal environment and expect to be healthy ourselves.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Wow.
Guy Lawrence: And in your view, John, of what you’ve seen, is leaky gut common? Like, do you think a lot of people; it’s a big problem out there with people?
Dr. John Hart: I think that people who just do what is the standard Australian diet, the SAD diet, and standard Australian lifestyle, will all have leaky gut to some degree. Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Okay.
Dr. John Hart: And you can tell if you have any gut symptoms; nausea, burping, bloating, farting, episodes of constipation or diarrhoea, cramps, reflux; that’s all the gut is not working properly. And if you have any tenderness in your gut when you push on it, that’s an inflamed gut.
If you have any of those symptoms, you’re guaranteed to have some degree of leaky gut. And therefore affects on the rest of your body from the stuff that’s leaking through your gut, because that gut-blood barrier, you know, that is damaged to cause leaky gut. There’s similar barriers between the blood and the blood vessel wall so, you can get leaky gut. You can also get leaky blood vessels. So, you leak crap into the blood vessel wall and that’s going to end up with blood vessel disease, which is the commonest killer.
If you put all the blood vessel diseases together, that’s by far the commonest killer in our society; is damaged lining or the endothelium of the inside edge of the blood vessels. And there’s another barrier between the blood and the brain, the blood brain barrier.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Dr. John Hart: All the things that damage one, will damage the other. So, the blood-brain barrier is there to control what gets into the brain. The body’s very fussy about what get into the brain. But if you’ve got a leaky gut and that’s leaking poisons into the body, and those poisons are floating around in the blood, you’re going to be damaging your blood vessels all the way through and then they’re going to be causing a leaky brain and stuff’s going to start getting to your brain that shouldn’t get there and you get brain dysfunction and brain cell death.
Guy Lawrence: That’s incredible. So, a couple of things that just spring into mind, sorry Stu, before we move on is that, then a leaky gut should be one of the first things anyone should address, really, I’m thinking.
Dr. John Hart: In integrative medicine, that’s exactly the case. We go straight to the gut to start with. Because if you present with a problem in your body and you’ve got a leaky gut problem, if that leaky gut problem is not causing the problem in your body, it’s aggravating it for sure and you never going to win if you don’t get the gut fixed first.
And because a dysfunctional gut is so common, you know, to varying degrees, you can always get an improvement in everybody’s health.
I routinely do a six-week gut detox thing. Which is removing the common food allergens and chemicals from people’s diet and putting in basic nutrients for repairing the gut, repairing the liver, repairing the kidneys for as you detox your waste removal organs, and nutrients for gut repair. And I think about 95-plus percent of people lose a kilogram of fat a week. They sleep better. They have more energy, better mood, better libido. Their whole body responds to just cleaning out their gut.
Guy Lawrence: Wow. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that?
Dr. John Hart: Yeah. You can’t have a healthy gut in this society without taking active steps to achieve it. It won’t happen just on the normal diet, the normal XXunintelligibleXX [:22:53.8].
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. You’ve got to be proactive.
Dr. John Hart: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: And outside of that normal diet and, you know, stress management and those five almost pillars that you spoke about earlier, is there any specific supplementation that would be the norm, I guess, to treat leaky gut or at least to manage it or prevent it?
Dr. John Hart: Yeah. So, if I’m worried about somebody’s gut, I’ll do some food sensitivity tests to find out what …
Stuart Cooke: Yes.
Dr. John Hart: … they’re irritated; they’re sensitive to and remove those from their diet.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Dr. John Hart: Or if people can’t afford that, because that can get expensive, you could just remove all the common ones. You know, dairy, gluten and XXwheat ??? 0:23:34.000XX and barley and corn, soy. You know they’re sort of the most common ones. So, most people get an improvement just by doing that.
It’s difficult in this society though. We’re a wheat- and milk-based society. So, it takes a bit of planning to do it, but it’s quite possible.
And then look at the gut, the bugs, the microbiome and either do some tests to find out what’s in there or just do a bit of a shotgun approach, which also works very well with most people, where you just do some antibiotic herbs, put in some good; which kill the bad bugs. Put in some probiotics that are the good bugs. Put in some nutrients like glutamine and B vitamins and zinc and vitamin D to help gut repair. And silymarin is the active ingredient of milk thistle to support liver function. Those are a few things that have been used for thousand of years.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right.
Dr. John Hart: So, as a shotgun approach, which everybody feels better on, whether it’s enough for a particular person depends on what their specific issues are, which the testing can help you. But everybody feels better on when we do that.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I can imagine. And another thought that just sprung in there is, because obviously you’ve stressed the importance of the gut and we always talk about leaky gut, but that’s actually just really reinforced the importance of looking after your gut.
And you know, the question that has popped into mind from that is that anyone that goes to their local doctor with symptoms or problems, I’ve never heard of a GP doctor ever saying, “What’s the state of your gut?” Not that I try to go to doctors much. I mean, I guess, why would that be and would that change over time, do you think, John?
Dr. John Hart: Well, I think it will change over time, because there’s so much science behind it now. But you have to remember that doctors are trained in hospitals. And hospitals are there to deal with life-threatening illnesses, infections, trauma, cancers, that sort of things. So, medical schools train doctors to deal with end-stage disease; life-threatening end-stage disease. And modern medicine is very good at doing that and that’s all very useful if you’ve got one of those.
But if you were to not get it in the first place, that’s not what doctors get trained in, you know. They spend less than a day on nutrition and less than an hour on exercise, next to nothing on sleep, you know. These are all the four pillars and hormones are only addressed in terms of extreme hormone excess or extreme hormone deficiencies, not levels that are a little bit too high or a little bit too low, depending on the hormone causing damage and problems over time.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
sj: So, yeah. They’re just not in their training, whereas if you’ve got a naturopath, it’s the other way around. You know, they’re not trying to deal with acute trauma or life-threatening infections, but very good at dealing with all this, you know, the Big Five.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right. Prevention, I guess.
Guy Lawrence: Go on, Stu.
Stuart Cooke: Well, I was …
Dr. John Hart: Prevention and early detection, that’s where the; because you do your prevention stuff and you’re going to definitely decrease your risk of getting anything. But you still get stuff. So, if you do get something going wrong, you want to pick it up early, rather than wait a couple of decades down the track when the damage is done and is permanent and much harder to reverse.
I think most people on average; if when you’re 40 you’ve got five hidden diseases. So, hidden disease is something that you don’t know you’ve got, because it hasn’t caused any symptoms that you feel. Hasn’t caused any signs that somebody else can see. But it will in a couple of decades, whether that’s a heart attack, a stroke or cancer or dementia, or whatever.
So, most people on average, five hidden diseases when you’re 40. Ten when you’re 50. Twenty-three when you’re 70. And one of them will kill you. Depends on which one gets bad first. But most people don’t even know they’ve got them, because they’re hidden and they don’t go looking because Medicare doesn’t pay for that.
Medicare will give you million of dollars once you’ve got the cancer or the heart attack.
Stuart Cooke: Yes.
Dr. John Hart: They’ll spend million of dollars on you then, but they’ll give you next to nothing to stop you getting it.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Dr. John Hart: So, it’s not a conspiracy theory. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but you know, that’s where the money is. The money is your paid business. If people are sick and you can just control the symptoms, but keep them sick, that’s; from a business point of view; pharmaceutical companies, surgery companies, that’s where the money is. You want to do that.
You don’t want to stop people getting sick with relatively cheap non-profitable, non-payable treatments. That’s not a business model.
Stuart Cooke: It isn’t. Well, there’s not money if you don’t visit the doctor’s, I guess.
Guy Lawrence: That’s incredible. That blows my mind.
Stuart Cooke: So, with that alarming statistic in mind, I would love to talk to you a little bit about your strategies for life extension; which we were blown away with your talk at the PrimalCon earlier on in the year. So what; can you just run us through your strategies a little bit, in terms of …
Dr. John Hart: So, the big picture is identify the sources of inflammation; the causes of inflammation and get rid of them and put in things that dampen down inflammation. Find out what you should have that you’re missing or put in other things that are optional that help dampen down inflammation.
That’s sort of how I think about it as the big picture. Then to burrow in a bit deeper, you’ve got to look at the big five. So, diet, exercise, stress management, sleep and the hormones. So, if you want to look at each one of those, you know, I’m sure people listening to this have got a pretty good picture.
I like the primal type diet.
Stuart Cooke: Yes.
Dr. John Hart: But you’ve still got to; you can still have allergies.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Dr. John Hart: Your individual allergies to content of any diet. So, ideally you’re finding out what you’re sensitive to and then doing all the low-carb, no processed foods. Get all the chemicals out.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Dr. John Hart: Organics in season. Locally grown, all that sort of stuff.
Exercise. You know the body is designed to move. I think as Mark says, Mark Sisson says, it’s, “Move off. Lift heavy and sprint occasionally.” I think that’s got the guts of it, a lot of science behind how that all works now. You know we’re designed to move. The body does not like not moving. Now, NASA worked out on the astronauts, that lost of gravity is a killer.
If you sit for more than eight hours a day, it’s as bad as smoking for your health, even if you’re exercising every day at the gym. So, doing two of these is a bad thing. So, getting a stand up desk or standing up from hour desk every half hour and taking ten steps to get the blood going and moving actively.
So, moving often and lifting heavy, you know, maintaining muscle mass is crucial. You know, we used to think that fat and muscle were just benign tissue, you know. Fat was just a little balloon of energy for use later. And muscle was just something we had to have, because it moved our skeleton. But; and even bones now, as well. Bones, muscles and fat they’re all endocrine glands; they secrete substances into your blood, which affects the health of the rest of your body.
So, fat cells. Fat, fat cells are XXover four? Overfull? fat cells 0:30:47.000XX to create inflammatory adipokines, which damage the rest of the body.
Muscles secrete over 700 XXmyoclinesXX, which support the health of the body. So, muscles secrete a thing called; one of the things it secretes is a thing called brain-derived neurotrophic factor. It was first discovered in the brain, it’s a really important thing for growing new brain cells and brain cell health. The muscles also make it when you’re exercising; you’ve got healthy muscles.
So, that’s one of the ways that exercise improves brain health, brain function, and decreases dementia.
Guy Lawrence: So, would increasing your muscle mass help with all that?
Dr. John Hart: Yes. Yeah, within limits, obviously, but more to the point, maintaining it.
Guy Lawrence: Okay.
Dr. John Hart: At a more 20-, 30-year-old level.
Guy Lawrence: Yup.
Dr. John Hart: So, the loss of muscle mass as you get older is called sarcopenia. And if you lose muscle mass, you lose these pro-health XXmyoclinesXX that come from the muscle. And you lose your ability to move your bones so your bones become weaker, which means you lose the hormones that come out of the bones. So, you get a double whammy. Where you’ve got weak muscles more than likely to fall and unable to stop yourself. Because you’ve got weak muscles you haven’t been able to maintain strong bones, so you’ve got weak bones, you’re more likely to break the bone when you fall on it.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Dr. John Hart: And you know, fractured hips and femurs and wrists are common causes of death, because people get immobilized and then everything goes down in a spiral and they end up with chest infections or clots in their legs and it ends up killing them.
Stuart Cooke: So, weight-bearing exercises then, you think, would be a good strategy for long lasting health?
Dr. John Hart: Yeah, yeah. There’s a lot of stuff coming out saying that cardiovascular exercise is not the best way to go. So, aerobic training; see the whole aerobic thing started in the 1960s when Dr. Kenneth Cooper discovered that if; instead of putting people with heart attacks in bed for a week or weeks …
Stuart Cooke: Yes.
Dr. John Hart: …you got them up and walking, they did much better with a bit of exercise. Not too much, but a bit of exercise.
So, that’s the whole aerobics train, where the craze came from. That’s when the jogging craze all started from, from that a bit of aerobics exercise is good enough for heart attacks, so it must be good for everybody. So, everybody went nuts on that.
But you can overdo it. See, aerobic training is quite stressful on the body so, that pushes cortisol up and that just stresses hormones up and that’s a bad idea.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Dr. John Hart: And especially the XXultra stuffXX. It’s very catabolic on the body and break down heart tissue now. They’ve done studies showing marathoners destroy heart tissue. Now the damage gets scarring in their hearts from that severe XX???stuff [::33:28.0].
Dr. John Hart: So, what you want to do is just want to maintain your muscle mass and maintain the stress on the bones. And doing 60 XXtechnical glitchXX [:33:34.6] you better get 100 percent. You’ve got to tell the tissues, “You are not strong enough for what I want you to do. You need to get stronger and that’s 100 percent.” And that’s heavy weights. And you can do heavy weights and by keeping the rest period minimum, between sets, you can get a really good cardiovascular workout. So, you get a heart workout. You get a lung workout. You get a breathing muscle workout. As well as, putting a load on muscles and tendons and bones so that they can maintain it …
Guy Lawrence: Interestingly enough as well, John, back in my day as a fitness trainer, I’d see increased lung capacities more through weight training than I would through cardiovascular, you know, those exercises as well.
Dr. John Hart: If you go higher than 100 percent with weight training that’s going to push your limit. Where 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate, that’s not pushing the limit. That’s grueling, it’s long, but it’s not …
Stuart Cooke: What about if you go hard with high intensity workout for five to ten minutes? Swinging a kettle bell for instance and things like that.
dJ; Yeah. So, that the sprint often part of it.
Stuart Cooke: Yes.
Dr. John Hart: No, no. That’s the sprint occasionally part of it.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Dr. John Hart: So, move often, lift heavy …
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Dr. John Hart: … sprint occasionally. So, I mean, I like high intensity interval training. Only once or twice a week if you’re doing it properly. And it’s 30 seconds flat out. 90 seconds slow. Resting. And then repeat that a few times.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Dr. John Hart: By the time you get into five or six or seven sets of that, you’re puffing like a train and you know you’ve worked out. You’ve got large muscle groups going. And that’s telling all the brain that the whole body is under stress and then the brain starts releasing all these growth hormones to get you to stronger, anabolic hormones.
Stuart Cooke: Got it.
Dr. John Hart: And so you don’t want to be doing XX??? risersXX and bicep curls and wrist curls [:35:22.5]. That’s sort of a waste of time. That’s not going to have an systemic effect. You have to do all these big muscle group movements.
So, high-intensity indoor training, I wouldn’t do sprinting, because I think there’s a bit of XXunintelligibleXX [:35:33.7] risk for that.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Dr. John Hart: XXunintelligibleXX [:35:35.1], swimming, rowing, auto climber, you’re not lifting a kettle bell weight around.
Stuart Cooke: Okay.
Dr. John Hart: But not too much. There’s people that do that high-intensity stuff four or five times a week and they’re just on a XX 0:35:48.000 hidingXX to overtraining and injury and illness.
Stuart Cooke: Interesting. Interesting. And we won’t see you anytime soon on the City to Surf, then, I take it?
Dr. John Hart: Absolutely correct. You might see me XXthere?? 0:36:00.000XX a couple of times, but that’s all.
Guy Lawrence: I don’t know if you saw in the headlines this week; I say “headlines.” I saw it in the news anyway. I can’t remember the gentleman’s name in America. Someone… XX0:36:14.000XX. But they reckon they’re only maybe 10, 20 years away from being able to make the human being live to up to a thousand years, was the claim in the title of the article. I don’t know if you saw that, but do you have anything…
Dr. John Hart: The guys who look into this stuff are basically saying we should all now live to 120. Genetically we programmed to live to 120 and there are people who do it. The only reason we don’t is because we kill ourselves off earlier by doing all the wrong things or not doing the right things. XXThe Big Five 0:36:42.000XX is a start.
So, most people’s genes should enable to body to survive to 120. A few have got just bad genes; they’re gonna die early no matter what. But most people, it’s 120, as long as you’ve got your lifestyle properly sorted out.
But in the next 10 to 30 years there’s a bunch of technologies that are going to become available, generally available, that are already in research. You know, with XXtelemarized 0:37:05.000XX activation and gene therapy and cloning and nanotechnology, artificial organs, that routinely people are going to live to 150.
In fact, they are pretty sure now that the child that’s going to live to 150 has already been born. There’s already children around who are going to live to 150 with this technology that comes out.
And then once you get to 150, once you get a handle on what you need to do, you are absolutely past 200, 250. I think that’s going to be pretty… And then the important thing is it’s not gonna be the last 100 years in a nursing home. It’s going to be active, independent, vital, productive, looking after yourself, contributing to society. It’s going to be; actually it’s going to be a big shift in society and we’re actually the cusp of it, the borderline. We’re the last generation that has not had access to this technology for our entire life.
The kids that are being born now are going to have access to this early enough in life that it’s going to significantly extend their health span and their life span.
Guy Lawrence: That’s incredible.
Dr. John Hart: Assuming they do the right thing.
Guy Lawrence: Don’t abuse it. Yeah.
Dr. John Hart: With their lifestyle.
Stuart Cooke: My word. I’m just trying to think, you know, in 150 years’ time, trying to get a park down at Bondi Beach in the Eastern suburbs with all these people.
Dr. John Hart: I bet there will be better transportation then. It will be old news. You’ll go down a wire in a little box or something.
Stuart Cooke: Of course. Teleportation. Sydney Transport will have that in the bag, I’m sure.
So, during your talk that we spoke about a little bit earlier, there were a few words that cropped up, and they were… “Peptides” was one. And I think there was another drug that was linked to anti-aging.
Dr. John Hart: Yeah. Metformin.
Stuart Cooke: Metformin. That was right. Is that gonna be part of this strategy, moving forward?
Dr. John Hart: It’ll be part of it. It will still be the Big Five. You’ve heard of the Big Five, and there’s no shortcuts around that. But then there’s things you can supplement the Big Five with. So, that’s where the peptides fit in. There’s a lot of different peptides. Peptide’s just a short protein, and there are ones that can support and supplement processes in your body that are degenerating.
As a general rule, drugs tend to block things. And they block a process, but they also block other things as well, and that’s where the side effects come from. Whereas, the peptides generally… and hormones and vitamins and oils and all of that sort of stuff generally supports functions; increases functions. So, as things decay and degenerate from whatever influences, these things all counteract that and get them back close to the level they were when they were operating 100 percent in your 20s.
So, there’s peptides that increase growth hormone release. Growth hormone’s your major repair hormone. There are peptides that accentuate testosterone’s effect in particular tissues in the body. There are peptides that come from muscles when muscles are stressed, to cause muscle growth, so you can take peptides to accelerate that. There are ones that come from your immune system that trigger tissue repair and fighting infections. There are a whole lot of different ones.
And then metformin’s an interesting one. I first heard about it as the world’s first anti-aging drug, from a doctor in the UK, Richard Lippman, who was nominated for the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1996 for his work with antioxidants.
And he said that metformin the world’s first anti-aging drug, this is why it is, and I take it. So, I thought, that’s interesting, so I went and looked at it and he’s right. So, most drugs have their main effect; well, the main effect that we use them for. And then other effects as well, which we call side effects. But metformin has a bunch of side effects, but unlike most drugs, the side effects are all really good.
So, it has its main effect, which is sugar control. That’s why it’s still used around the world as the first drug for treating diabetes. Which is a good thing to keep your sugar levels down, because the sugar in your body is a toxin as well as being a drug of addiction. But it has all these side effects: it drops your cholesterol, it’s anti-inflammatory, it stimulates the same genes as calorie-restriction diets, it’s anti-cancer, blocks the conversation of XXerevatase?? 0:41:45.000XX, which is an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen.
It does a whole lot of other things which are all very positive things. So, that’s probably why it’s the world’s first anti-aging drug.
And it started off life as just an extract of the French lilac plant, which has been used for thousands of years to treat diabetes. But it’s the active ingredient that’s been put out in the drug.
And after a hundred years of being out, it’s still the first drug around that worked for diabetes, despite the billions of dollars that have been spent on new anti-diabetic drugs. They’re not as good, because they don’t have all the side effects metformin has.
Stuart Cooke: Wow. It almost sounds like that particular pill would do so much more for us than our multivitamin; our daily multivitamin.
Dr. John Hart: Yeah, I don’t know if I’d go that far. I think a good multivitamin is very supportive of a whole lot of things, but I think I; I sort of routinely put people one five things. If you walk through the door of my clinic, there’s five things you’re gonna get, because the evidence shows that bang for your buck, it’s all there.
And that’s a quality vitamin, a good probiotic, a good fish oil, a good magnesium source, and vitamin D. Because everybody’s low on vitamin D. Vitamin D’s not a vitamin; it’s a hormone, which is anti-inflammatory, so that’s all that inflammation stuff, it’s a powerful anti-inflammatory. It’s anti-cancer, it’s immune system regulatory, calcium for bones and tissues. And the thing, the trouble, with vitamin D is, A, it’s a hormone. And, B, you can’t make it if you don’t get sun on your skin.
As we’re all cave-dwellers now, we don’t get enough sun on our skin. Because remember, we evolved on the equator with no clothes on. The human species evolved living on the equator with no clothes on. And we’re hunter-gatherers. So we’re outside all day. And that’s how much sun we expect to get on our skin.
We don’t do that anymore. We’ve moved away from the equator, so it’s too cold, so we’ve got to wear clothes, we get worried about getting sunburned, so we have Slip-Slop-Slap. And so we don’t get anywhere near the sun exposure our body expects, so we can’t make the vitamin D that our body wants, and we suffer the consequences.
There’s some guy who worked it out that 200 times more people die from not enough sun exposure, i.e. not enough vitamin D, than who die from too much sun exposure, i.e. skin cancers.
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Stuart Cooke: Boy, that’s an interesting stat.
Dr. John Hart: And we worry about the excess sun exposure and skin cancers, when it turns out more people are dying from not enough sun exposure.
Guy Lawrence: So, so often, regarding vitamin D, so, during the winter, can we supplement vitamin D and have the same effect for sunshine.
Dr. John Hart: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: We can.
Dr. John Hart: Yeah. It’s the same thing. It’s biogenical. It’s the same thing.
Guy Lawrence: But then come summertime, would we take vitamin D as well?
Dr. John Hart: Well, most people who live and work in the city, they’re cave dwellers, they don’t get enough sun even in summer. Yet most people I see, they’re 50; their vitamin D level is 50 to 80. What you want to be is 150 to 200. That’s the ideal range. So, most people are half of what it should be.
And even in summer, unless you spend the weekend down at the surf club or you’re working outside. But just because you’re outside doesn’t mean you’re getting sun. If you’ve got clothes on, if you’re standing upright and the sun’s hitting your head, not your face, and if you’re in the shadows like you are walking around the city, you’re not getting any sun. So, just because you’re outside doesn’t mean you’re getting sun exposure on your skin.
Stuart Cooke: So, what would be the optimal amount of exposure, full-body exposure, from a time perspective.
Dr. John Hart: Well, they reckon 10 to 20 minutes of lying in your bathers, flat on the ground, when the sun’s overhead, is about what you need to make enough every day. But in winter, even that might not be enough, because they say that 37 degrees north and south of the equator, the sun is so low in the horizon that it has more atmosphere to go through before it hits; the sunrise has more atmosphere to go through before it hits the ground that it gets filtered out and even in those positions north and south, you can’t get enough sun exposure.
Guy Lawrence: Wouldn’t cod liver oil be a good vitamin D source?
Dr. John Hart: No. That’s not enough.
Guy Lawrence. Oh. It’s not enough?
Dr. John Hart: Most people need four to six thousand international units a day. And your standard, over-the-counter vitamin D capsule dose is a thousand. So, most people are not even getting that. You know, a normal multivitamin might have two or three hundred international units. So, that’s not touching the edges. And you’re not going to get enough from food. There’s a little bit in different fatty foods. But not enough; not compared to what the body’s expecting to be able to make itself from sun exposure over your whole body, all day, as a hunter-gatherer over the equator.
Guy Lawrence: Got it.
Stuart Cooke: Got it.
Guy Lawrence: Great advice. Yeah.
Because most people don’t even think about these things, at all, you know. So, next time I see you running on the street in your swimmers, I’ll know why you’re doing it.
Stuart Cooke: Doctor’s orders. I’m going to the beach. I know you take cod liver oil capsules, Guy, so I’m sure that you’re going to be rattling away on the internet ordering yourself some pills tonight.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: That’s interesting.
So, we have kind of touched on this a little bit. Just your thoughts on the future for the medical industry, whether you think that that’s going to be an integration of the nutritionists and naturopaths and doctors and DNA specialists and the like.
Dr. John Hart: Yeah, I think… So, you’ve got conventional medicine, which is very good at acute illnesses and symptoms of serious diseases. And then you’ve got the integrative medicine branch, which is more the preventative early detection sort of things. And there’s not so much money in those, because there’s no XXpayable? 0:47:33.000XX drugs and expenses there.
So, there’s a lot of forces wanting to keep things as they are, because that’s where the money is. And a lot of money being spent by very clever companies with very clever marketing people with huge budgets to promote the current status quo.
So, they’re not gonna let things slide without a big fight. But I think people are starting to walk, talk with their feet. I think people are realizing that modern medicine has its advantages but it has its weaknesses and that alternative or integrative or natural medicine, whether it’s through a naturopath or integrative doctor or herbalist, can provide other things that are not available. And that’s the two together that gives you the best overall result.
So, if you can use the technology, access the technology that we’ve got to do testing and early detection, and use the nutrition that’s been around for thousands of years, basically, and the basic rules that have been around for thousands and millions of years, and put them all together, I think you’re going to get the best result.
Stuart Cooke: OK. That wouldn’t be that dissimilar, really, to what you guys are doing, I guess, right now. Would it be?
Dr. John Hart: Yeah. That’s basically what integrative or functional medicine is is using the technologies and the science and the physiology to determine information about how things work and combining it with non-patentable tools or technologies that have been shown to work, not only from thousands of years of experience, but also now with the science, we know how all these different herbs and vitamins and minerals, how they work, and how they decrease inflammation and how that then helps with health and function.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
John, we have two wrap-up questions on the podcast for every guest. And the first one’s very simple. But it does intrigue people. Can you tell us what you ate today?
Dr. John Hart: Today, breakfast was a bit on the run so I had some activated organic mixed nuts and some dried organic blueberries. And then I had a late lunch, which was meat and veg, basically. And then I had an early dinner just before this, which was basically meat and veg again.
Guy Lawrence: Perfect.
And the other question is, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Dr. John Hart: I think my rowing coach said to me in high school, “You only get out of basket what you put into it.”
Stuart Cooke: That’s true.
Dr. John Hart: The second bit of advice I got was that persistence is one of the best skills to have.
Guy Lawrence: Persistence. Yeah, that is true as well.
Dr. John Hart: There’s no shortcuts to things, you know? Things that are worth having, that are valuable, you’ve got to work for them. You’ve got to put some time and attention onto it.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, you’ve got to go for it. That’s prudent.
And for everyone listening to this who goes, “My God, I’ve got to come see John Hart,” or wants to learn more, where would be the best place for us to point them, John?
Dr. John Hart: Well, I work at Elevate Clinic in Sydney in the CBD. Spring Street. So, Elevate.com.au. And I also have an online business that sells peptides, so that’s PeptideClinics.com.au. That’s got a website with information and there’s a chat line and people online from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. if people want to talk about peptides there.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. Brilliant.
Well, we’ll put the links up once the show goes out and everything else. We’ll put them at the bottom of the post. Because we transcribe the blog as well, so if people want to read it they can find out more.
But, John, thank you so much for coming on the show today. That was fantastic. I have no doubt a lot of people are going to get a lot out of that and certainly get everyone thinking. That was amazing.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. Absolutely. I know I did. I can’t wait to rewind and listen to it again.
Dr. John Hart: Thanks for the opportunity, guys.
Guy Lawrence: Awesome. We appreciate it, John. Thank you very much.
Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
It’s all well and good telling yourself and your kids to ditch the sugar, but what about those that are resistant to cut back on the sweet stuff?
Well there are certainly tips and tricks you can apply to helping you and your family reduce the overall sugar intake.
Our fantastic guest today is nutritionist Michele Chevalley Hedge. She is the author of ‘Beating Sugar Addiction for Dummies’ and is a regular contributor to Women’s Fitness, The Sunday Telegraph, Body & Soul and Sunrise Channel 7 Weekend Breakfast show.
I love Michele’s approach to nutrition with busy families, as she has a deep understanding on how to incorporate good food into a fast paced life. Her approach is also practical and realistic with the long term health goal in mind.
The Full Interview with Nutritionist Michele Chevalley Hedge
In this episode we talk about:
Getting to the nitty-gritty effects of sugar consumption
The positive aspects on mental health she’s seen from switching to a whole food diet
The hidden sugars in children’s everyday food
Health and simple approaches to you and your kids lunchbox
How to reduce your family sugar intake without the resistance
How a poor diet could be effecting a child/teen hormones and self-image
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence from 180 Nutrition, and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions.
Our lovely guest today is Michele Chevalley Hedge. She has an amazing resume. She’s a nutritionist. She’s the author of Beating Sugar Addiction for Dummies. She’s a Jamie Oliver Food Revolution ambassador. And she contributes on a regular basis to Women’s Fitness, The Sunday Telegraph, Body and Soul, and Sunrise Channel 7 Weekend Breakfast Show as well.
I’ve known Michele for a couple of years, and I’ve been itching to get her onto the podcast and share her wealth of experience with us.
I was recently at the THR1VE symposium as well, where I spoke at the same event alongside Michele over that weekend, and I finally got to hear Michele speak for the first time and was absolutely blown away by her enthusiasm and passion for the whole topic, especially when it comes to sugar, families, and children. It was just amazing.
So, yeah, super keen to get her on the podcast today and I have no doubt you’ll get a lot out of this.
As always, you know if you are listening to this through iTunes we’d really appreciate the review. It literally takes two minutes to do, subscribe, five-star. You know, I know I ask in every podcast, but it’s also good to get your feedback as well. Just be honest with us, you know. It’s great to know that these podcasts are getting out there, reaching you guys and you’re enjoying them as well. But it also helps with our rankings and helps us continue to get the word out as we’re pushing as hard as we can and it’s just, yeah, it’s fantastic to be a part of it with everyone else as well.
So, and of course come back to our website: 180nutrition.com.au where we’ve got a whole host of other resources as well, including these podcasts, which are also shot in video.
Anyway, enjoy the show. Let’s go over to Michele.
[Text on Screen]: 180 Nutrition
Guy Lawrence: Want to start?
Stuart Cooke: Yes, please.
Guy Lawrence: That’s very polite of you, Stu. That never happens normally.
Stuart Cooke: I’m British and I learned manners from my parents.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Chivalry is not dead.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Excellent.
Okay. Hi, I’m Guy Lawrence I’m joined with Stuart Cooke, as always. Hey, Stewie.
Stuart Cooke: Hello, mate.
Guy Lawrence: And our lovely guest today is Michele Chevalley Hedge. Michele, welcome to the show. Thank you for coming on.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Oh, thanks for having me, guys. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while with you two.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. It’s fantastic. We finally hooked it all up and I’m very keen to get you on the show today, Michele, because after seeing you talk a couple of weeks back at the THR1VE symposium. I was like: We’ve got to get this information into a podcast and literally get every parent in Australia to listen to this.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: It’s fantastic. So, it’s going to be an awesome, awesome topic today, Michele and I’m looking forward to it all.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Yeah. Thank you.
Guy Lawrence: No worries. But before we get into that, what I’d love is if you could just share with the listeners a little bit about yourself, because you’ve got a gorgeous accent. That’s not from Australia.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Oh, thank you.
Guy Lawrence: And, yeah, a little bit about yourself as well and what you do within the health space.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Yeah. Okay. So, Michele Chevalley Hedge has got many layers, but the first layer is I’m a mom of three teenagers, three hungry teenagers. I have; I’m just normal like everyone else, you know, I think that’s the interesting thing about me being a nutritionist in my space, I’m just a normal mom. I’ve got a dumb dog. I’ve got a busy husband and I’m really fortunate to be a qualified nutritionist.
I studied; well, I’ve probably been studying nutrition informally since I’m a teenager, but, yeah, I’ve been a qualified nutritionist, with a growing busy practice, for many years.
Guy Lawrence: And how have long you been in Australia now, Michele?
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Oh, I know, can you believe I’ve actually been in Australia for 24 years?
Guy Lawrence: Oh wow!
Michele Chevalley Hedge: I’ve actually just passed the point where I lived now longer than I lived in America.
Guy Lawrence: Okay.
Stuart Cooke: Wow.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Yeah. I’m a true halfy.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, you are.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: I’m actually more Australian now than I am American.
Stuart Cooke: Brilliant. Fantastic. I was; as Guy mentioned before, we listened to your talk at the THR1VE Me symposium and thought it was awesome. Really, really good and again, sugar, of course, hot topic right now. There are going to be many people out there that have; are still confused about sugar and should I eat it? Should I drop it? Is it normal? Can I eat fruit? That kind of stuff.
So, I guess, the number one question for me right now is, why do we need to reduce our sugar consumption, if at all?
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Um. Okay. So, there’s many aspects of that.
So, first of all I’ve been talking about sugar and our practice has been talking about the reduction of hidden sugars way before even sugar became sexy, because it’s not just about the effects of sugar on the physical body, but it’s the effects of sugar on mental and emotional body. And because we run a busy clinical practice, as well as speak in schools all the time and corporates, what we see manifest itself when you move somebody to a whole food diet, is all aspects become healthy, mentally, emotionally, physically.
What I think is really cool is that the World Health Organization, you know, not me, little ol’ Michele Chevalley Hedge from Sydney, Australia, our top leading researchers in the world have stepped in; well, it’s been maybe now about 18 months ago and first they put down a proposal and that proposal was going to be maximum of 10 hidden teaspoons in the diet, per day.
So, that went out as a proposal and then more recently the proposal came out with a full documentation that said that the World Health recommendations is actually not 10 teaspoons, but it’s between 6 and 9.
Now, I’ve talked on television about this proposal. I’ve talked about the World Health Organization’s links from; with food and cancer. I just think when the World Health Organization has the leading researchers, the leading scientists, talking about this, we all need to step up and listen.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Do you think the message is finally getting out there? It’s like, we had Damon Gameau on the podcast a few weeks ago and he was talking about That Sugar Film and he actually put his sugar consumption up to, what is it, 40 grams a day for the average Australian. I mean in your eyes, are people still eating that amount or if not more?
Michele Chevalley Hedge: I think Damon’s correct and I’ve been doing a bit of work with That Sugar Film, which I think is so awesome.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, it’s awesome isn’t it.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Because it’s a great way to educate the public in a light way. There’s not a lot of dogma. It’s not extreme. That Sugar Film and Damon are very much; we’re very much on the same page in terms of: Don’t take an extreme approach, because families and children will run.
But I think, absolutely, the message is getting out there, for sure. Absolutely and I think that the change is coming. I think that we’re going to see a lot more evidence around links with sugar. Mental health. Emotional health. Physical health; we already see lots of that.
So, I think that the message is getting out there. Sometimes I’ve been asked if we need a sugar tax here in Australia …
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: … and my take on that is, I don’t think that we need a sugar tax. I think that we need the ability to educate the public in a really simple, fun, light way without an extreme approach.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah and I think if we can make the health food more accessible to everyone as well so that they have that option. Because I know in certain places, in schools and things like that, the options are not even there yet, which is a bigger topic in itself.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Yeah, absolutely, and there’s; when I do a talk I always say, “This section of our talk is the good, the bad and the ugly.” And there’s a lot of ugly around the whole sugar consumption and the processed foods and stuff that we’re eating. But the good news is, we are right now at the absolute edge of change.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Excellent. Go on Stu. You look like you’re gonna …
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. I’m just interested in the numbers, just so I could just take us back to those numbers that you mentioned. It was the 7 to 10 or was it 8 to 10 of hidden sugars. Now, …
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: … do hidden sugars, in your eyes, I mean, would that be a piece of fruit?
Michele Chevalley Hedge: No, absolutely not. I love fruit and I love for my patients to have fruit. Of course, every patient is different. Everybody has a unique genetic makeup and a unique environment, right? So, everybody is very different.
However, if we were to talk about the general average person, I’d say two to three pieces of fruit a day. Now, if somebody was suffering from severe depression, diabetes, insulin resistance, then I might be modifying that. But I don’t think I’ve ever actually taken fruit out of anybody’s diet, because we can get a lot of nutrient denseness in things like berries, right?
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: And not a lot of sugar. So, hidden sugars, Stu, are really; they’re talking about the added sugars, they’re not talking about the natural sugars and the World Health Organization makes that very clear in their guidelines.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Got it. Got it. So, it’s the muesli bars, the sweet and flavored drinks that we buy at the shops and the breakfast cereals and things like that, that we have to we wary of.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Absolutely. It is amazing that when you pick up things that are even marketed “healthy.” “I’m gluten-free. I’m organic. I’m this. I’m full of vitamin C. I’m 99-percent fat free.” And if you’re knowledgeable on how to read a label, you can all of a sudden go, “Wow! I cannot believe how much sugar is in that healthy muesli bar or that flavored milk.” It’s just shocking for our children.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. I was going to say, when it comes to kids, where do you find most of the hidden sugars are found? With their lunch box and what they consume. I mean, chocolate milk is probably a classic example of that.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Yeah, but it’s not just the chocolate milk, Guy. I’ve been in schools where the audience will be drinking things in front of me and we’ll do real-time examples with them and we’ll get them to turn around their special, you know, fresh vanilla flavored milk or their honey yogurt and of course, you want to think, “Vanilla. That’s good, right?” You want to think, “Honey. Well that’s good.” And then all of a sudden you real the label and 1: you can’t decipher the ingredients and 2: you just look and you go, “Are you kidding me? Seventeen teaspoons of added sugar?”
Stuart Cooke: Boy!
Michele Chevalley Hedge: And some of these gorgeous kids, who really want to feel good about themselves, don’t even realize, “Wow! Are you kidding me? I drink 2 of these milks a day thinking it’s good for me.”
So, before you know it, one child; you know, this is common, Guy, I see this often, will be eating 2 teaspoons; 2 cartons of milk; sorry about that.
Guy Lawrence: That’s all right.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Two cartons of milk, thinking that they’re doing the right thing for their athletic body and they’re consuming, what, 34 teaspoons just in milk, 34 teaspoons of sugar just in milk.
Stuart Cooke: Wow!
Guy Lawrence: That’s …
Stuart Cooke: That’s insane.
Guy Lawrence: That’s scary.
Stuart Cooke: That’s insane, isn’t it.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: It is insane.
Stuart Cooke: So, again, the hot topic. Kids; the foods that currently provided to our kids at school, I mean, what do you think about it? What can we do about it?
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Oh, the New Yorker can come out me around these.
Stuart Cooke: Uh-oh.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: You know, I think it’s; it’s really; it has been really shocking, but again I’m really hopeful that we’re in a time of change. I probably speak at a school, at least once a week, and what happens with that is it starts to create a groundswell. It starts to create the parents talking, the kids talking. And I will go to bat with anybody who says to me that kids don’t want to get healthy, because kids want to get healthy.
So, what happens is this groundswell starts after a light-hearted, non-dogmatic talk and all of a sudden you start to see change in the school canteen. And there’s a lot of politics that happens sometimes within school canteens in schools, because it’s often outsourced. However, what I have seen lately is that this groundswell starts to create a change.
We’ve been commissioned and asked to do consultancy for many changes and modifications within the canteen and you know what? Even if you change five things in a canteen, it’s a step in the right direction.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s the right message. I mean, are most of the schools want the change but are restricted by the way the government laws are or are schools resistant to the message as well? I mean, what’s the general feeling there?
Michele Chevalley Hedge: I think, if you were to ask me that, Guy, three years ago, I would have said yes, there are some schools resistant to change and open to this. However, I don’t believe that that is the case anymore and I think with the movie like That Sugar Film and what Damon’s doing, I think there’s going to be much more embracing of this.
I mean, I’m doing some fabulous work with the Black Dog Institute around mental health, ADHD, anxiety, and I’ve been linking Damon up with some of that research with the Black Dog. And I think as educators; oh, well, this is a great example of how the change is happening.
Next year there is a heads of school conference and I’ve been asked to be the keynote speaker, as well as run a workshop. But at the keynote speaker; what I’ve titled that is, “How Can We Help Create A Better Education and A Better Place For Teachers Within Australia?” And I wrote, “Question mark.” Answer: “Feed our children well.” Simple.
Guy Lawrence: This leads onto our very next question. Basically, how much do you think food is affecting the kids’ performance when they’re at school? Because if you listen to the media it’s almost like there’s no connection.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Yeah. I do.
Guy Lawrence: You know, you in the trenches, Michele, out there every week, what’s your take on that?
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Oh. It is so significant and I’m pleased to; you know, I’ve never believed in things like testimonials and stuff like that, but I’m so pleased to have so many of my patients really feel that they can wear their heart on their sleeve and say, “Are you kidding me, Michele? I didn’t want to believe that this was going to make me feel like. . . create change in my concentration. I did not believe that it was going to create change in my energy. I didn’t believe it was going to create change in my self-esteem. But it did all of that and more.”
So, I believe, I absolutely believe, our concentration, our energy, our immune system, all of that, is made up of many multi-factorial things and some things we can’t change. But one thing we can change, and we have the ability to change, is how we feed ourselves.
So, I just think, I think it’s so significant. Anybody going off to school and not having fed themselves, they don’t have to have a lot, but fed themselves something nourishing to feed the brain. Put something into their body, feed their muscles. I think it’s deeply important to underpin the body with that.
Stuart Cooke: So, tell us about the ideal school lunch box. If you were going to come in to my house tomorrow morning and prepare my three daughters’ lunchboxes, what would you put in them?
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Yeah, that’s good. That’s great. I can think of so many, but the basis of any lunchbox, and we run a program called “Low Sugar Lifestyle Program.”
Stuart Cooke: Yep.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: And one of the components to that program, Stu, is that every meal, that every recipe that we give out for dinner, had to have part of that recipe turned in for lunch the next day.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Right? So, all these whole food and celebrity chefs that I went out to, they submitted all these recipes and I submitted them all back to them and I said, “Now tell me how a family, a busy family, can turn that into lunch for the next day.”
But with that said, I always am thinking about, in a lunchbox. Where’s the fat? Where’s the protein and where’s the little bit of complex carb?
Because we know that within those complex carbs, good ones, there’s a lot of vitamin Bs. There’s a lot of energy source, some glucose for the brain, some glucose for the muscles. Fat; what do we know about that? Well, we know that it’s blood sugar stabilizing. Our brains are made up of 60 to 70 percent fat. We love fat for satiation, so kids aren’t starving all the time. And then I love the protein part of the lunch, right?
So, again, great for blood sugar balancing, great for feeling full. So, you know those kids that are constantly eating all the time and losing concentration, well, they’re just living on probably lots of carbs, lots of fast-burning twigs, right? They’re not really filling themselves up with a bit of protein, a bit of fat and a bit of complex carbohydrates.
But with that said, Stu, in a very simple way, there’s nothing wrong with a really nice bread roll or some good quality bread, with some turkey on it or chicken on it or whatever protein maybe was made from the night before and some rocket, some spinach, some avocado.
You know, people often think that I’m some kind of gourmet cook and I am so far from it. I’m a busy mom like everyone else, so I just do the best that I can with protein, fat and veg and I make sure to use lots of spice.
Stuart Cooke: Got it and I guess if you’re preparing meals like that as well, you are staying away from those hidden sugars that you spoke about earlier on as well, because it’s real food.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: It’s real food and you know what’s funny, if you look at the basis of any of these “good diets” out there, and I don’t believe in the word “diet,” I believe in the word “lifestyle”; but any of them that really work with long-term benefits that are sustainable, are underpinned just with whole food, right? Whole real food, that’s what it comes down to. Because whole real food doesn’t have a lot; it doesn’t have any hidden sugar in it. It may have natural sugars, but it doesn’t have hidden sugars.
Guy Lawrence: I found; a question occurred, springs to my mind, Michele, if a parent been feeding the children a lot of sugar over the years and then they listen to all this information, “Oh my God. Have I been poisoning my kids? What am I going to do?” Panic and all the rest of it. And then they try to change the children’s lunchboxes and of course maybe the children are resistant, because they don’t want to give up the sugar.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Sure.
Guy Lawrence: Or at least reduce it. Is there any tips or tricks? What would you recommend on that?
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Because remember, I used to be one of those mothers, right? So, when my kids were little, they were babies, I just did what my six Italian aunts did, you know. Food is love, you just give food, food, food and it didn’t matter. I mean, at that stage in my life, when I was in my early 30s, I wasn’t thinking about excess sugar and all those kinds of things.
So, number 1, I say to all parents, “Don’t beat yourself up.” Number 2 is: I’m certainly not living in an ivory tower and many nutritionists in this space aren’t either.
So, 1: Don’t beat yourself up. But 2: I think it’s really important to normalize healthy eating. And by that I mean don’t call it healthy eating, right? It’s just dinner or there’s just your lunch.
But I often talk and use the term “crowd in,” right? So, some people I’ve heard use the term “crowd out.” I like to use the word “crowd in” because what I like to think about is for people when they start this journey, right? Not to get crazy, but to fill up their pantry and their fridge with so many good things, so that they can create really nice meals and some healthy snacks and all this kind of stuff.
They don’t have to mention the word “healthy” to their family, but they know that the family’s eating the meal going, “Wow. This taste’s good. I hope there’s enough for leftovers for tomorrow.” “Gee, I like those bliss balls. Oh, I like that, you know, coconut almond biscuit cookie with blueberries in it.” So, what happens is, the family doesn’t even realize the subtle change is happening, right?
If you go to extreme, it’s too extreme, people run. If you make it easy, you make it tasty, then it becomes sustainable and then it keeps going, right?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Absolutely agree. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Yeah, I’m just thinking it’s, you know, you go to the school playground and you see all these kids and they’re so unaware of all if these things that could ultimately affect their health in such massive ways. How can we educate the parents on the intrinsic value of good nutrition?
Michele Chevalley Hedge: I mean, I think, by doing all the things that you guys are doing. Just educating as best we can. Creating that groundswell as best we can and I think, the media is doing a good job at getting some of the messages out there. I think a movie like Damon’s movie. I think podcasts like this.
What I think it does, is it sets off somebody thinking about it.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Then the next step is, “Oh! Maybe I’ll try something.” And hopefully what they try isn’t to extreme, because then, if they try it, they go, “Gee! Hey! That wasn’t bad. It was kind of easy. You mean I didn’t have to go shopping at a health food store?” And that’s no disrespect to health food stores, but if somebody feels that they have to go to a health food store or buy only organic, that’s scary for the average Joe Smith who lives in Ermington like my father-in-law. You know, we’ve got to make this stuff mainstream for people and make it easy and accessible and affordable.
Now, there’s many layers of good health, right? Okay. Ideally would we like to all be eating organic and purchasing some really nice things from the health food store? Yeah.
But let’s start at a base level, get people interested and going, “Hmm. Okay. I get this. I feel better about me; my kids feel better about them. I’m going to continue.”
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Absolutely. Isn’t it? Like, it’s always easy to scare people off and they can run a mile, you know.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: And like you say, if you; because I’ll say, “You can just change your breakfast in the morn. . .” It’s just one thing. If you can just …
Stuart Cooke: Start with one thing. Exactly right.
Guy Lawrence: And it becomes a habit and hopefully that will inspire them to feel a little bit better, then they can look at the next thing, you know. . .
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Otherwise there can be so much information. I remember sort of hearing all this for the first time eight or nine years ago and I’m like, “whaaat?” and then it just becomes overwhelming. But persistence is key as well, you know.
So, then the next question I’ve got for you, Michele, is like obviously some of the; we talked about some of the effects of poor nutrition with the kids and the teens and things like that; is there any other things that can affect them? You know, I was thinking of hormones and self-image. I know you mentioned that in your talk as well. What are your views on them sort of things?
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Oh. You know, you go into my heart core here, because this is a big space for me. So, I was commissioned by Wiley Publishing to write the book Beating Sugar Addiction For Dummies two years ago and when you write for Wiley Publishing, which is a beautiful publisher, you write very proscriptively.
So, I got to the one section where they’d asked me to write about family health and I started to write about teenagers and children and hormones, poor skin and everything that a teenager goes through. And then in particular, a teenager that’s eating poorly, right?
So, we’re talking about not just their sexual hormones, but I’m also talking about their neurotransmitters, their dopamine, their serotonin, all these complexities that a teenager is dealing with.
And I thought, these kids have one self-esteem bomb after the next and there’s many things that they can’t control. However, again I’ll go back to there’s one thing that we can control and it’s how we feed ourselves.
So, it’s interesting that every single talk that I’ve done in a school, the headmaster or the headmistress will say to me, “Michele, it’s unbelievable how you can keep the kids engaged on this topic, when we didn’t even think they would want to talk about nutrition for an hour, but yet there still going at 90 minutes, asking me questions.”
So, I’m a little bit manipulative, because when I’m speaking to them, I’m often speaking to them about vanity things. So, I’m appealing to their hair. I’m appealing to their skin. I’m appealing to their academic scores, their sporting performance, right? But meanwhile, I know what’s going on way beneath the surfaces. Balancing the hormones. Great concentration. Less mood swings, get off the sugar, it’s not a mood swing, it’s been a sugar swing. These are things that I know that’s happening beneath the surface.
So, yes, so many things; so many self-esteem bombs coming at these kids and I think that if there’s one thing that we as parents or educators or they owe to themselves is just to find that path.
And this is another thing that I talk about and this sounds a little bit female-centric, but I have to say, and Stu, this is for your ears particularly with three girls, I always say to young women, “As women we’re very, very good at beating ourselves up around food, right?” You talk to any woman, you two have probably dated millions of women, right?
So, any woman is very good at beating themselves up about how they look, what they’ve eaten, how it affects them and everything. I say to young girls, I always say: talk about nutrition is not about the skinny girl, it’s about the fun girl, the vibrant girl, the cheeky girl, and so, get them talking about all that kind of stuff.
But I say to them: if they can get their nutrition right as a teenager, they will save themselves so much energy of self-nourishing and self-love as they grow up to be successful mothers, successful career women or whatever, because I see so many, so many women spend so much energy on beating themselves up around food.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: That’s an excellent point. I wonder if; do you think then, as parents, it’s perhaps almost our duty to try and get the kids in the kitchen at an earlier age, helping with the meals and preparing the meals, so they do truly understand? Because I remember as a teenager, crikey, I had no idea about food and I was the fast food king. You know, that’s what I did and that’s what many of us did, because. . .
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Absolutely.
Stuart Cooke: . . .I didn’t know how to cook for myself.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Yeah. And that’s the case with many of us, Stu. I mean, many of us and people our age. So, I put myself in your category; I know I’m much older. But I talk about that all the time, I say, “Let’s bring back the love of food. Let’s be around the kitchen counter and chopping and cooking and making a mess together.” And it’s amazing the conversations that can come out around preparing food and even cleaning up food.
And actually, there’s some statistics about healthy relationships and family meals and having some family mealtime. I think that that is imperative to bring back, 1: the love of food and 2: occasionally trying to share a meal with your family.
Do I mean every night? Do I mean every meal? Absolutely not! But when you can I think that there’s so much in the social engagement of all that, that is good for our health mentally and emotionally.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. I completely agree and along the way you might find a little bit about food as well that you never knew.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: So you can; now you can prep your veggies and you know what you should be eating.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Absolutely.
Stuart Cooke: So, it kind of helps both ways. Perfect.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. But I can; Michele if you, because I know you recently put a sugar program together as well. Would you mind sharing with us a little bit about the program? Because that’s certainly another great resource people can use as well.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Absolutely, Stu. Yeah. So, I put together a program called Low Sugar Lifestyle. So, I like to think of it or for people to think of it as: I’m a real mom. I’m a qualified nutritionist. I’m been in this space for a long time. I also used to work in a corporate busy world, right? So, I really get the busy parent and I really empathize.
So, it’s not about quitting sugar and it’s not about being paleo perfect. We’re sort of somewhere in the middle. As one of the editors said the other, “Well, Michele, you’re sort of modern-day nutritionist. You like a little bit of wine. You like a little bit of coffee. But you like to create healthy meals.”
So, our program is all about 28 days of really healthy meals. But when we created the meals or celebrity chefs like Pete Evans or Therese Kerr or Lola Berry or any of these gorgeous people who have created many of these recipes for us. They had to be purchased; all the ingredients from Coles or Woolies, so, your local market, so accessible and affordable. They had to be less than 10 ingredients and they had to be made in less than 30 minutes.
So, what we tried to do is give everybody really nice recipes, very tasty recipes. So, dinners, breakfast, lunches. So, it’s a 28-day program, where no one has to go in and log in and put information in, because the reality is, “I’ve tried to do many of those programs and I couldn’t even keep up. What’s the password, what’s this?”
This program comes to you. So, people will get daily information and they’ll get their recipes on a weekly basis and then we’re in a closed community, where we have an exchange of information. It’s a closed Facebook community.
But the one key to this program is, everybody who joins has access to a personal nutritionist. So, we have a team of eight of us, qualified nutritionists and food coaches and we give that ability for someone to contact us to say, “Hey, my son’s having a peanut allergy and I’m looking at a lot of the recipes and I just need some extra substitutions.”
So, I love; someone explained this to me the other day and I wasn’t award of it, and they said, “Michele, your program is what we call ‘digical’. It’s where digital meets physical.” and I really like that, because I like, I still like the personal touch. I still think that’s really important to people when they’re trying to get their families healthy.
So, there’s a couple of videos, there’s great recipes, there’s online support. It allows people to enter this space of low sugar.
The reality is, it could have been called, “Clean Food, Real Food”, right? We just called it “Low Sugar Lifestyle” because I had just finished a book Beating Sugar Addictions for Dummies so I was all about sugar, sugar.
So, it’s just a really nice place for people to start. So, in fact, this month I’ve taken $20 off the program. So, the program is normally $79. I’ve taken 20 dollars off and I said to everybody, “Take the 20 bucks and go see That Sugar Film.”
Guy Lawrence: Perfect.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Because the two of them tie in really nicely together. You know, as Damon says, his program isn’t about an extreme approach, it’s getting people; it’s getting people aware. And what happens with Damon’s movies is it gets people aware, it gets people excited, and when they get home they go, “Ah! What do I do? How do I integrate that?” Then I go, “Here I am. I’m perfect. Bring me into your home. Let me fill your pantry. Let me help you crowd in. Let me make it easy for you.”
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: So, I’m really, really excited about it. We haven’t done; we haven’t spread our wings that big. This is our first month of really starting to spread our wings and tell our story. So, it’s great.
Guy Lawrence: That’s exciting. Yeah. You touched on another key word there and that’s “community” and I think support is essential when you’re making changes and the people out there are trying to do it currently on their own. No matter which community they join or regardless it’s needs to be there to be successful long term.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Oh, I think it’s so important. You need a tribe. We all need a tribe.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Right? And what I find so interesting, is that when I have created a tribe, whether that is in my clinical practice when we do cleanse retreats or cleanse groups, it is far more effective for me to have people on a program together then it is to have them as individuals.
In fact, we encourage everyone with our marketing around Low Sugar, Low Lifestyle, we encourage everybody, we say, “Seek out a friend. Get a family member to do this with you. It’s a bit of fun.” I mean, they’re going to have our tribe of course, but I think it’s important to have community and support and head in that direction. I think that’s true of anything we do in our life.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: Fantastic. Brilliant. We’ll put all the information about the program together with the other stuff on the show notes as well. But I had a question regarding your diet, because million dollar question, “what does a nutritionist eat?” and especially a nutritionist that writes books and does programs and all these wonderful things. So, what did you eat yesterday? If you could just run us through very briefly.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Sure. Yeah, okay. Yesterday seems like such a long time ago. Yesterday I was doing such fun stuff with Jamie Oliver, that was so cool, so I had to really feed myself well before I left, because I was so excited. My adrenals were on fire.
So, yesterday morning I had two poached eggs and then I looked for whatever vegetables are in my fridge. So, I think yesterday I had like a little bit of, maybe English spinach. I always try to get like a half or quarter of an avocado and then I do some weird things, and people go, “Oh, really?” I put like some salsa on the eggs or I put some pesto or if I have a salsa verde, because there’s only a certain number of proteins in our lives, so we’ve got to make them tasty, right?
So, that’s what I had for breakfast. For lunch I had. . . what did I have? I had, I don’t know what I came home to. Oh, no, I was going to say eggs again, but that’s not the case. Oh, I had green chicken curry that we had the night before. And when I have curry a lot, I don’t often have rice unless I feel like I need it, right?
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Again, I don’t like to discriminate any food groups, unless there’s some reason, right? So, I pretty much stay low wheat, low gluten in my life and definitely low sugar. Natural sugar is fine.
And then for dinner last night, I had a beautiful dinner with my family, my crazy teenagers. So, we had. . . oh we had Moroccan chicken, which is our favorite. So, again, always taking a protein and spicing it up or wrapping it in some kind of flavor, with guacamole, we had that because my son, my 17-year-old’s become a guacamole maker. And it’s great guacamole and just a bit of green beans. We had just plain green beans. So, simple, simple stuff, and they all had brown rice with some herbs in it with dinner and I just didn’t have the rice. But, again, not that I’m against rice, I just, you know if I had been training or exercising I probably would have.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, like if there’s ever a carb, sometimes I’ll bring in, which because I cycle it depending on my activity level. White rice is great, because it’s gluten-free and it’s quite simple. It doesn’t harm my digestion too much.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Yes.
Guy Lawrence: But I just find that, yeah. That’s excellent. Yeah.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Are you guys; are you guys gluten-free or wheat-free?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I am. I just can’t; I just can’t cope with gluten at all, at all.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. I gravitate towards some; yeah, bread is off for me. It just doesn’t sit well with my gut. I’ll introduce the pseudo grains, like quinoa. I like some brown rice occasionally. I love sweet potatoes and white potatoes.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Yes.
Stuart Cooke: But I can get away with all these things.
Guy Lawrence: Stu’s metabolism is through the roof. It’s. . .
Michele Chevalley Hedge: I know. He’s one of those; he’s one of those racehorse metabolisms.
Guy Lawrence: He literally eats three times the amount of food I do. That’s no exaggeration and I’m probably 20-odd kilos heavier than Stu.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Yes. Yes.
Guy Lawrence: It just blows me away.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: And that, you know, oh it’s so; I know. People like me, I look at a biscuit and I would gain weight, but that, you know, that’s a good way to sort of wrap this up, because I think that point, what you just said is so important.
Everybody is so uniquely bio-individual metabolism. So, to say that one person should be doing this certain regime or we all should be doing that or we all should be doing this. I really think that as, you know, with a health hat on, we need to assess a person individually and just look at what their needs are. We can give a foundation, but it’s really nice to also look at someone’s individual needs.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: And we call that the “sweet spot” and I think you know when you’re in your sweet spot, because everything feels right. You sleep well. You look well. Your skin’s glowing.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: And it’s just, little dials here and there that you turn, reduce the wheat here and pull in some other foods and you’re there.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: You’ve got to find out what works for you at the end.
Guy Lawrence: Just touching on that briefly, like if you were; for everyone listening to this and they go, “All right. I want to make change.” Like, what would be culprit food you’d suggest people to cut back on? You know, obviously sugar consumption is one.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Yeah. Well, like what we do during our; and I thought about that a lot, Guy, when we were putting together our program, because we don’t say that our program; well, let me go back to your question.
Our program is low-gluten, low-wheat and no hidden sugars, right? And that’s pretty much the philosophy that I would subscribe to most of my patients and my family, right?
So I know that most people work on an optimal mental level and physical level in that space. Is that to say that people shouldn’t have a bread roll every now and again? Some people will do fine with that. Other people just immediately know that it makes them go from flat tummy to 9 months old, looking like they’re having a baby. People know these; you know when they connect the dots around their food.
So, I really try to subscribe to the philosophy of low-gluten, not too much wheat, definitely stay away from the excess sugar, have a little bit of natural sugar every now and again. I don’t take people off of dairy, unless I see that they have a dairy intolerance. I might try to change them to a couple of different alternatives first, because I always say, “I’m never going to be a food discriminator.” I can’t. I’ve got an Italian mother. I can’t discriminate against food.
Guy Lawrence: That’s awesome. That’s fantastic advice, Michele. And look, we’ve got one more question that we do a wrap up question and we ask this to every single guest and we get a very different answer every time.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Okay. Sort of a surprise question?
Guy Lawrence: What’s the single best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Michele Chevalley Hedge: So many. I didn’t see that on my questionnaire, but it’s a good question. I would say, right now in my life, the single most important thing would be to find a tribe that feeds your soul. Find like-minded people. Find people that our feeding your soul on all levels. So, I think, I always love to collect wise people in my life and more than one wise person has told me that, “Michele, find your tribe.” Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Perfect.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Love it. Absolutely. It’s so true.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. It makes sense.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. And does this; you always look like you were going to say something, Stu.
Stuart Cooke: Well, yeah, I’m always going to say something. So, I was just wondering, for our listeners today, how can they get more of you and where would you like them to go?
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Okay, great. Oh, thank you, Stu. I appreciate that. So, our website is called, www.MyFamilyWellness.com.au or you could jump on Facebook and look at “Low Sugar Lifestyle.” And, yeah, for a bigger picture of what a healthy view does in terms of corporate speaking and school speaking, we have A Healthy View. But most of the stuff that we talked about today, you’d find under My Family Wellness and I’m really happy when we come off this conversation to offer your listeners, you know we can do competition and offer some free programs. I’d love to get some of your viewers on my program, as complimentary guests, and give me some feedback.
Guy Lawrence: Well said.
Stuart Cooke: Fantastic. Will do.
Guy Lawrence: We’ll give all the links on the show, Michele, and obviously push out the podcast.
That was fantastic. Really appreciate your time and coming on and sharing your expertise and knowledge with us all today.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Thank you.
Guy Lawrence: Your welcome.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Thank you very much.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. Thank you, Michele.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Bye guys. Have a good day.
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.
This is going to be fantastic! Primal and paleo expert Mark Sisson is going to be here in Australia for this rare visit and awesome event. Expect a hands on immersion of everything fun, health and paleo for two and half days.
Not only are you going to get information overload, you will make great new like minded friends! There is also a fantastic line-up of speakers and guests (including us 180Nutrition:) ).
There’s still time to grab yourself a ticket for the Thr1ve Me Symposium! Learn More Here.