Adam Zickerman discusses his 90-day journey of religiously dedicating himself to following a ketogenic diet here in Episode 25 of the InForm Fitness Podcast. Adam reveals the challenges of sticking to the ketogenic diet along with some misconceptions and the dramatic results.
Here is a link to the website Adam mentions in this episode: http://eatingacademy.com/nutrition/ketosis-advantaged-or-misunderstood-state-part-i
Don’t forget Adam's Zickerman’s book, Power of 10: The Once-a-Week Slow Motion Fitness Revolution. You can buy it in Amazon by clicking here: http://bit.ly/ThePowerofTen
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The transcript to the entire episode is below:
Adam: You know when you’re wearing clothes, my lean muscular build, it’s hard to know that I was getting a little bit of a spare tire underneath them, but I was getting a little bit of a spare tire, but besides that, there were two things. One, my chronic back problems which you covered last episode, and I wanted to do whatever I could to ameliorate these back issues. Consistent and safe back exercises are one of them, and the other thought I had was maybe my diet is affecting my back, because I was reading a lot about the typical American diet and it’s inflammatory. I’m thinking I might have an inflammation issue going, my back keeps going into spasm, it’s probably chronically inflamed. If I can not only exercise my back properly but maybe reduce my chronic inflammation, that might be my answer.
Tim: InForm Nation, welcome to episode 25 of the InForm Fitness podcast. Twenty minutes with New York Times bestselling author, Adam Zickerman and friends. I’m Tim Edwards with the InBound Podcasting Network and a client of InForm Fitness. Joined as always by Sheila Melody, Mike Rogers, and of course Adam Zickerman. Okay team, at the time of this recording, spring has just sprung, summer is just a few months away, and I’m sure a good portion of InForm nation is already thinking about summer which means they’re thinking about slimming down a little or in some cases a lot, so dieting is on their minds. We’ve all heard of, and I’m sure participated, in at least a few nutrition plans, like the paleo diet, the Atkin’s diet, or the one that I really enjoyed a few years ago was the slow carb diet from Tim Ferris. Most recently I had tremendous success by just eating cleanly as you describe Adam in chapter three of your book, Power of Ten: The Slow Motion Fitness Revolution.
So Adam, you visited LA. just a few months ago when we recorded the Adam in LaLa Land episode and frankly, you looked extremely fit. So in the last episode, you mentioned that we’re going to talk about a diet that you’ve been on for the last X amount of days, and my question is why did you even consider going on a diet in the first place because you don’t look like you need to go on one.
Adam: I picked up a few lessons from my female friends and I know how to dress to hide it.
Tim: You wear Spanx, that’s what you’re telling me?
Mike: Spanx and New York black. Everyone in New York knows how to hide it.
Adam: Hide our emotions.
Tim: You don’t hide your emotions in New York, come on.
Adam: The people in L.A want to hide their emotions.
Tim: We’re the passive aggressive ones.
Sheila: Oh no, we want to talk about our emotions.
Tim: That’s down in the south where they’re passive aggressive, but anyway, we digress. You mentioned the diet, and here’s a guy, the guru, the InForm Fitness and you’re fit. So what prompted you to go on a diet?
Adam: I’m so glad you asked me that question, because you know the other question I get asked in a similar vein is why do you work out Adam, you look great.
Sheila: You say because I never want to look like you.
Adam: That just reminded me of something Yogi Bear once said. Nobody goes to that restaurant anymore, it’s always too crowded. So listen, why did I go on this diet. Well first of all, diets are not always about weight loss, fat loss. Diets are about health, or they should be. Now I know that anyone who goes on a diet, their number one concern is I want to lose body fat, which is a noble goal because being overweight has health problems associated with it. Now I did want to lose a little weight first of all, because I always said that I hide it well half-jokingly, because the other half, I did need to lose a couple of pounds and it is true that when you’re wearing clothes, my lean muscular build, it’s hard to know that I was getting a little bit of a spare tire underneath them, but I was getting a little bit of a spare tire, but besides that, there were two things. One, my chronic back problems which you covered last episode, and I wanted to do whatever I could to ameliorate these back issues. Consistent and safe back exercises are one of them, and the other thought I had was maybe my diet is affecting my back, because I was reading a lot about the typical American diet and it’s inflammatory. I’m thinking I might have an inflammation issue going, my back keeps going into spasm, it’s probably chronically inflamed. If I can not only exercise my back properly but maybe reduce my chronic inflammation, that might be my answer. So for years, I’ve been reading about the ketogenic diet, and for years I was poo-pooing it.
Adam: Because I had a vast misunderstanding about what a ketogenic diet was. Basically using ketones for fuel. I’ll get into what a ketone is a little bit later, but my understanding of ketones was when your body is using ketones for fuel, or if you’re producing a lot of ketones, I always understood that to be very dangerous. In my mind without realizing it, I was really thinking about what they call ketoacidosis, which is much different than nutritional ketosis, using ketones for fuel from a nutritional point of view, as opposed to something very dangerous called ketoacidosis. That was where the confusion comes in. Whenever you talk to a doctor or a nutritionist and say I want to go into ketosis, they say it’s dangerous, and being in ketoacidosis is very dangerous but you cannot go into ketoacidosis just by eliminating carbohydrates or going to what they call nutritional ketosis. Ketoacidosis, let me explain what that it is. It usually afflicts people with Type I diabetes. Type I diabetics cannot produce insulin, and when you cannot produce insulin, when you eat carbohydrates, the sugar starts building up and building up, and what happens is the body can’t utilize that sugar, because the insulin is not there to use that sugar and bring it into the fat cells and the muscle cells, or bring it into any cell that needs that for energy. So the body, if it can’t get glucose for energy, it starts metabolizing fat for fuel. That’s where it’s going to get it’s energy from, and it starts going crazy producing these ketones. You see ketones come from fat, the metabolism of fat. An alternative sense of energy for the body are ketones, fat gets broken down into ketones, carbohydrates get broken down into glucose and when the body breaks down carbohydrates for glucose and those glucose molecules can’t be used, the body will say okay, let me go break down some body fat, get some ketones out of it, and utilize that for fuel. So it’s another source of currency if you will, and if you’re a Type I diabetic, your body goes crazy producing these ketones and you end up having so many ketones that you go into an acidic state, a dangerously acidic state where basically all functions of the body cannot produce and cannot function when you’re in such a high acidic state. In other words, we have to have a pH level that’s very, very stable, like about normal, about 7. Our pH is about 7, that’s the normal functioning pH of the human body. When you start having all these ketones that start going through the roof — ketones are acidic by the way, and ketones that are not being checked or regulated, start going through the roof and you are in a very dangerous state. So a Type I diabetic can very often go into ketoacidosis and they have to go the hospital, they have to get the injections, and usually it’s a diabetic that’s not taking care of themselves. You cannot go into that acidic state being in what I have been in the last ninety days which is called nutritional ketosis. Nutritional ketosis is a state in where you body instead of using glucose for fuel, not because there’s no insulin, but because you’re not eating anything that’s going to produce a lot of glucose, your body says well I need energy, so I’m going to start using fat for fuel. Every cell cannot use actual fat for energy, they have to break down the fat. Just like we have break down carbohydrates for glucose, we have to break down fat, and we’re breaking them down into fat and these ketone bodies are being used for fuel. Well there’s a lot of evidence right now that’s showing that these ketogenic diets which are to break it down into macronutrients about 70-75% fat, about 10% protein, maybe 15% protein, and then the rest which is about 5% carbohydrates.
Tim: Now immediately, red flags are flying all over when you say the diet is made up of 75% fat. Now let’s drill down on that a little bit more. We’re not talking cheeseburgers.
Adam: Well we’re not talking cheeseburgers with the bread, but we are talking cheeseburgers. I will have red meat, I will have cheese. Red meat has to be grass fed, not this factory raised cow. So the quality of the foods that you’re eating is also very important, so I eat grass fed beef and beef, the fat in the beef is very good for you. What you have to be careful of, this is what I realized and this is a very common mistake that people make on ketogenic diets, that they think it’s a high fat, high protein diet, but it’s not really high protein. Having too much protein can actually produce an insulin response or produce sugar, because protein can be converted into glucose, it’s called gluconeogenesis, and it can be almost as bad as actually eating carbohydrates. A lot of people will eliminate their carbohydrates and they’ll end up having tons of red meat, which is a lot of protein.
Tim: That sounds like the Atkin’s diet to me.
Sheila: That’s what I was just going to say.
Adam: The Atkin’s diet, in essence, a ketogenic diet and the misinterpretation of the Atkin’s diet of a ketogenic diet is that the image is like a bunch of caveman sitting around gnawing on a dead animal or something like that and just eating fat and bacon and protein all day long. It’s not like that, it’s mostly vegetables that are saturated in fat like olive oil, or coconut oil or avocado oil. Salads that are doused in that kind of fat, so getting vegetables or other types of oils and avocados in general, grass fed meat, pasture raised chickens, eggs, and of course wild fish. That is my diet, and it’s not like I’m eating tons of meat. I’m eating six ounces of a steak, I’m eating tons of brussel sprouts that have been roasted in coconut oil.
Tim: All sounds good to me so far.
Sheila: Probably 85% of the time I eat exactly what you just described.
Adam: I committed to eating this way without exception for ninety days. I started at the beginning of this year. Here we are.
Tim: Where are you now at the time of this recording?
Adam: It’s a coincidence but I am literally, today, on my 90th day. It started January 3rd, which is a Tuesday. So I don’t know if it’s the 90th day, but I just finished my twelfth week starting January 3 and this is a Tuesday. So today is the last day of my twelfth week.
Mike: I don’t think 90 is divisible by seven.
Tim: Well he’s close.
Mike: I’ve got my advocates in the corner there.
Tim: So nonetheless, let’s review.
Adam: By the way, at the beginning I said why I did this. I thought it’d help my back, anti inflammatory. Ketogenic diets are well suspected to be anti-inflammatory. The second reason why I wanted to do this diet was because I had my annual checkup and I’m in my early 50s now, but 50s nonetheless, and my blood work is creeping the wrong way. They’re starting to get on the high side of normal.
Tim: Let me ask you, is that prior to going on the diet?
Adam: Prior to going on the diet, I had my annual checkup and the results came in and he said to me hey, nothing to be alarmed about at this point but you’re trending the wrong way. You’re C-reactive protein is creeping which is an inflammatory marker, and he said your cholesterol is creeping up, it’s not too high per se but it’s on the higher side of normal. My A1C which is an indicator of your blood sugar was creeping up again on a high side of normal. I was like wow. These are all things that indicate that I’m going towards what many Americans go towards which is metabolic syndrome. It reminded me the same situation that Dr. Peter Attia, his story when he started his quest on ketogenic diets, and he was in the same situation. He worked out all the time, he thought he ate well most of the time. We think eating well is eating whole grain breads, and fruits, and occasionally what’s so bad about having a beer here and there, and next thing you know, in a day you’re still ingesting 250 grams of carbohydrates without even thinking about it. So he started taking control of it as well, and when I saw that my blood numbers were going up and then I read what Dr. Attia went through as well, I was like holy cow that’s me. So that also prompted me, I wanted to see if going on a ketogenic diet would change these numbers. Well this is the 90th day so I’m about to get those numbers checked, so I’m going to report back on this but when I can talk about now is how I feel.
Tim: Let’s start with your back.
Adam: And what has happened. First of all my back, in combination with what I’ve been doing with my lower back exercises and staying consistent with that, my back has never felt better. I can sit for hours in a car, or I can sit for hours at my desk, and get up sideways.
Tim: And you’re giving this ketogenic diet credit for assisting with that.
Adam: First of all, I’m a sample size of one, so this is scientific at all, but I am giving it credit. That in conjunction with taking care of my back with the exercises. So I don’t know where the cause and effect is because I’ve been doing a couple of things at once, but the big teller is going to be obviously the blood work that I get done soon. Besides that and besides the fact that my back feels better, I’ve lost fifteen pounds of weight that you didn’t think that I needed to lose. So I look a lot better naked now, so I don’t have to wear clothes anymore. I don’t have to wear a T-Shirt to the pool anymore.
Mike: You know when your body gets a little bit smaller, it gives the illusion that other things are bigger.
Adam: You have that as well. Big thing that I noticed was my digestion. My digestion changed dramatically. I don’t have upset stomach, my elimination if you know what I’m talking about has been undramatic, it’s been beautiful.
Sheila: It’s a beautiful thing.
Tim: Well your good friend Dr. Oz would be proud of that.
Mike: Maybe this will get edited out, maybe it won’t, but I’m just curious. What does beautiful mean?
Tim: That actually is so it will not be edited out, so describe beautiful? You mean like one clean long —
Adam: Exactly, tapered on both ends, perfect.
Tim: Dr. Oz was his thing right?
Adam: It’s embarrassing, especially since you’re talking about me.
Mike: You don’t sound like you’re embarrassed.
Adam: I am. You’ve got to remember that this is someone who is too shy to urinate in front of his wife.
Mike: I’m going to remind you that you’re the one who is talking about himself right now.
Tim: So nonetheless there’s a lot of fiber in this diet and it’s really helping Adam a lot, so good.
Sheila: That’s really, really very interesting and I want to ask a question about is there a difference in how women react to this diet as opposed to how men react to this diet? Coming off that interview we had a few weeks ago with Dr. Sylvia Tera and The Secret Life of Fat, and how different men and womens’ makeup is and how we process fat and everything. It sounds like something I’d like to try, and I feel like I’ve been kind of doing this for the most part.
Tim: I think she’s committing, I think she should jump on 90 days.
Adam: I’m not sitting here saying everyone should jump on the ketogenic diet bandwagon first of all. I need to make that disclaimer. First of all, women are different and we’re all different. I’m different from another man, and women certainly have their issues. When you talk about nutrient partitioning and that no matter what you eat, some of it is going to be partitioned to fat.
Hormonal issues with women as they get older, all kinds of things. Genetics for men and women are different amongst ourselves and all these things play into it for sure, but having said that, sugar is bad. Sugar is bad, sugar is inflammatory. There is nothing good that comes out of sugar and excessive carbohydrates. I don’t believe being in ketosis is dangerous anymore, and this idea of eating a lot of fat, even if it’s saturated fat, especially if it’s saturated fat, is not bad for you. It’s been shown over and over again that dietary fat does not raise your cholesterol, so just check that box off. It’s not true, it is just not true that eating egg yolks and eating red meat raises your cholesterol, that is not what is raising your cholesterol. The last ten, fifteen years have been really showing that. My blood work will show this, if I go to my blood work and my cholesterol is through the roof I’m going to have to eat my words. It might even be another cause of it, but the thing is if all my triglycerides are good and inflammatory makers are lowered and my cholesterol happens to stay on a higher side, and everything else is really, really good, I’m not going to worry about high cholesterol. High cholesterol, high LDLs are not a very good marker on heart disease.
Mike: On its own.
Adam: On its own. Now there’s this other test that Dr. Attia actually told me to get which is an NMR, nuclear magnetic resonance test, to test for your LDLP. See when you go to the doctor and you get your cholesterol and blood work done, you’re getting blood work for your LDLC. LDLC is how much cholesterol, low density cholesterol is in your blood, whereas the LDLP is showing you how many LDL proteins are in your blood. I’m getting technical right now, but it’s a different marker and a much better marker and indicator of potential heart disease, this LDLP. So I’m going to get that done, and see if my LDLP is nice and low, and if that is, regardless of what my LDLC is or total cholesterol is, I’m not going to be worrying about it. Again, my A1C, my C reactive protein, these markers, if they stat going down after ninety days of eating, I’m not kidding you, 70% of my diet being fat, I’ll be pretty convinced. At least for myself. Let me tell you about my experience psychologically.
Tim: I’m curious how you managed this, because it seemed like a lot of drastic changes.
Adam: This is why I’m not necessarily telling people to just go on this ketogenic diet. First of all, I’m not a nutritionist, I just play one on TV. So I’m a nutritionist, secondly, I’m not going to lie, it's not easy to adjust to this type of diet. If you’re used to eating grains and carbohydrates — I’m essentially a vegetarian that is saturating their vegetables with saturated fat and all kinds of fats, and having small portions of animal protein, whether it be a chicken or a fish or a cow, all well raised, but they’re small quantities. I’m not eating a lot. I’m also intermittent fasting. I’ll go at least two or three times a week, I’ll go anywhere from eighteen to twenty four hours without eating. I’ll be drinking lots of liquids, I’ll be drinking homemade beef broth or chicken broth, and that’s it. So that’s all I eat, one meal all day.
Tim: So tell us your schedule Adam. So with this intermittent fasting, what time are you stopping eating at the end of the day?
Adam: I’ll eat dinner.
Tim: At what time?
Adam: Anywhere between five and seven most days. So let’s say I finish eating seven. I won’t eat again until at least two or three o’clock the next day. On some cases I won’t eat again until dinner the next day.
Mike: When you work as much as we do, I’ve got to be honest with you, time flies and you sometimes forget about food. I’m not as strict as Adam is, but I’m probably doing about 85% or 90% of what he is doing in regards to the ketogenic model, and the fasting model without even trying to.
Adam: We work a lot and that speaks to one of the techniques that people recommend to help you through these intermittent fasts and that’s distraction techniques. So when your mind keeps saying eat, eat, eat, distract yourself, pick up your guitar, write a letter, do something else. Distract yourself. A lot of this hunger by the way, is psychological, we’re just not used to it mentally, but besides that, at the beginning, your body is physically wanting that food but once you start utilizing your fat for fuel and you become what they call keto-adapted where your body is primed to really use fat for fuel, and that takes a couple of weeks. Three weeks, four weeks sometimes. The first there or four weeks was the toughest because I was not adapted yet, so I was very hungry. Now, well it’s 4:30 and I haven’t eaten yet today. Last time I ate was dinner time around five yesterday.
Mike: That’s a lie, he had two celery sticks from me.
Adam: That’s true, it’s two celery sticks so I broke my fast. Honestly I grabbed them because they were there, it was not because I was dying to eat something, and if I was dying to eat something, I certainly wouldn’t have picked that.
Sheila: When you say you’re fasting, so you mentioned the broth though. So you have that when you’re fasting, or you just have nothing, you have water.
Adam: I have water mostly, but yeah, we serve bone broth here, we’re making our own bone broth now. We can talk about that at a later date, but yeah, that doesn’t count as cheating. It’s 99.9% water, it just has the minerals and the amino acids in it. So I don’t consider that really cheating, but come on. Even if I was to have a small meal, the gist of it is going long periods of time without eating, and that from my understanding is the real anti-inflammatory aspect. I mean sugar causes inflammation, and eating a lot also causes inflammation because you’re breaking down all this stuff and getting all these free radicals and all this oxidative work going on, and that’s what causes a lot of the inflammation. Now I’m reading and I’m learning that intermittent fasting forces the body to regenerate its cells at a lot faster of a rate. There’s something to that.
Sheila: I also read that an easier way to do the intermittent — well, for a sixteen hour fast that you can basically do is just stop eating at seven, and then don’t eat again until eleven AM. That’s sixteen hours.
Adam: Basically skipping breakfast.
Tim: A lot of people do that anyway.
Adam: But this is the problem with intermittent fasting. When I go 24 hours, I’m hungry by then. A lot of people say they can go days without eating and these are people that are really and truly keto-adapted, maybe they’ve been doing it for a year or more. I don’t know, but so far, I haven’t been able to go more than seventeen hours without all of a sudden having all those hunger pains, and at that point I just deal with it for another few hours. At that point, when I do eat, this is the hard part. You have to eat a regular, small meal.
Tim: No binging.
Adam: It’s so easy when you’re famished like that and you’ve gone all day without eating, it’s like you want to eat lunch, breakfast, dinner, and snacks all at one time in one sitting. You have to stop yourself from doing that.
Mike: That’s probably one of the differences to what was going on even before you did this 90-day thing. Our lifestyle really lent itself to — none of us eat that many carbohydrates ever. Adam hasn’t for a while, but when you were, you probably — I’m just guessing because you’re like me, I do these all day fasts also. If I don’t have some snacks or prepare my food throughout the day as I did this week, I will come home and I will eat like seven pieces of chicken and I’m not proud of it afterwards. Unless you can control that voracious urge, you’re not going to get what Adam is talking about here.
Tim: So Adam, as we come to end of this episode, I really would love you to encourage you to get those tests done quickly, and if you don’t mind, share some of them with our audience so that we can gauge your success. The question that I have for you right now as we put the wraps on this is okay, we’re close to or at day 90. Are you going to continue and forge ahead with the exact same plan that you’ve had for the last three months or so, are you going to augment it a little bit, what are your plans?
Adam: I’m going to continue, I’m going to stay on this. I might eat a little bit more often at this point, because I don’t really need to lose anymore body fat. I’ve got the six pack going for the summer, that’s all good.
Tim: Look at you, he’s in his 50s and he has a six pack, that’s impressive.
Sheila: Do you drink coffee, can I ask that?
Adam: I drink coffee. Let me speak to something Mike just said. He was saying that we’re generally very good about not eating carbs, and that’s partially true, with me anyway. What I mean by that is I have two young kids and I grab the M&Ms. My wife buys five-pound bags of them so she can make pancakes for the kids. Don’t get me started, my wife will not let me put my kids on a ketogenic diet.
Mike: My wife is a nutritionist and she would never let it happen either.
Adam: Because they’re afraid of ketoacidosis, but anyway what I wanted to say was this. My diet before I started this, yes, I’d go three or four days really good, and then I’ll eat a whole pizza. I would never really string along many consistent weeks or days. I’d eat well one day, not very much the other day, summers come, barbecue, hotdogs, hamburgers, I just went for it. I can get away with it. You said at the beginning of this piece, Adam you don’t look like you need to lose weight, why’d you start this diet? I was creeping up, and even though it appears that I eat very well, and I obviously eat well most of the time. I certainly eat good foods but I also supplement them with not such good stuff. This last 90 days, I made a commitment not to deviate from that, to be really consistent with it. Yes it’s higher fat than I would normally do when I did eat well. Less protein than I would normally — that’s what I learned about a ketogenic diet, that most people make the primary mistake of eating too much protein on a ketogenic diet, and so this has been the first time in my life that I’ve been this disciplined in my eating. I’m older now, I can’t get away with what I used to get away with. The other thing that I want to say before we wrap this up is about cravings. I always hear about how you go on these low carb diets and when your body starts getting used to and primed for utilizing fat for fuel, they say you eliminate all your cravings. Bullshit. To me anyway. Maybe the physical cravings aren’t there and I told you I could go all day and not really be hungry, but the truth of the matter is, I’m craving the foods that I’ve been giving up nonstop. To this day, 90 days into it give or take, I still crave the pizza. I still see my kids eating the pizza, I still see the buns on the hamburgers and I want it, I want it bad. I say no, the cravings are there. Maybe the physical cravings aren’t there as much.
Tim: What do you mean by physical cravings, define that.
Adam: My stomach growling and saying man you’re hungry, you’ve got to eat. Or feeling a little lightheaded, or physically feeling the effects of hunger. Now that I’m keto-adapted I don’t have those physical — when I’m 24 hours in I start to feel them, but eighteen hours fasts, it’s a no-brainer for me, it’s as easy as it could be. Even though those physical things aren’t there, I pass a pizza place, I pass chicken wings at the Superbowl, hot dogs at the baseball game. Beer, alcohol, I want it all, those cravings have not subsidized. I don’t look at them and say ew. I want it badly, but I don’t do it.
Sheila: It’s easier to not do it.
Adam: So going forward, I’m going to continue my strict ketogenic diet for at least another 30 days. I might eat a little bit more food, but not the foods I’m not supposed to be having on a
ketogenic diet. The foods I can have, add a little bit to my portions, but that’s the extent of it for the next thirty days. By that point, I’ll have my blood work done and we’ll talk about this some more.
Mike: I just think before we wrap up, I think blood tests aside, that’s data that we all need. It’s great to get all that stuff, but the bottom line is you’ve taken an educated approach to selfexperimentation and troubleshooting your body to figure out how to improve it, and your back has felt better. Do we know it’s because of the ketogenic diet, maybe it did, maybe it didn’t, but regardless you’re in a trend where you feel so much better. Your body feels better, your back feels better. You like the way you look, you feel, it’s like I almost want to say — if the tests are completely negative or there’s no improvement or any markers have been changed, who cares. Looking at someone who looks healthy also. They say that they feel great but they don’t look healthy, but this is not the case.
Adam: Like vegans. First of all, I want to say that this is not a ringing endorsement or a push for people to go ketogenic. I’m not going to be that bull at this point to say something like that. It’s definitely a viable option, and before you go into something like this, check with your doctor and do a lot of research, because compared to the recommendations by the ADA, the American Diet Association, this is not what’s recommended. I want to make this disclaimer. Look into it for sure, do your research. If it sounds like you, if I sounded like you, definitely look into it. Like Mike just said, I’m very well researched. I have a background in biochemistry, I know how to read these things. I’m a little bit different than your average bear when it comes to this type of thing. If you’re not in that world, you should get advice when you do something like this.
Sheila: Can you give us a starting point?
Adam: Yeah, I do, I recommend the doctor that I mentioned earlier. Dr. Peter Attia, and his website is called the eating academy. Read everything this guy writes, and he also refers you to other things he reads so that is a great start. The eating academy by Dr. Peter Attia. So if you're interested in possibly doing this for yourself, well pay attention to our podcast, we’re going to be reporting back on this in a little while when I get my blood work back and we’ll take it from there. Good luck.
Tim: Okay. So don’t forget to check out the show notes for a link to the website that Adam referenced, spotlighting the research done by Dr. Peter Attia. That’s eatingacademy.com.
Looking forward to the results of Adam’s blood work to gauge the success of his three-month ketogenic dietary journey, and we should have that for you coming up in the next few weeks. Also on the way, we have a couple of interviews that we’re really excited about here at the
InForm Fitness Podcast. In two weeks, we’ll be speaking with happiness expert, Gretchen Rubin. Gretchen has authored several books and has sold more than two million copies in thirty different languages. She has been a client of InForm Fitness for many years, and she has a popular podcast of her own, titled Happier with Gretchen Rubin. So give it a listen and even subscribe to her podcast so you can become more familiar with Gretchen before she joins us here on the show, and in the process, pick up some valuable tips on being, well, happier. Next week, we’ll be talking to Dr. Martin Gaballa, the author of the One Minute Workout. Adam and Dr. Gaballa will contrast and compare high-intensity strength training like we do here at InForm Fitness, and high-intensity interval training, as described in Dr. Gaballa’s book, The One Minute Workout. If you’d like to find an InForm Fitness location nearest you so you can give this high-intensity strength training workout a try for yourself, please visit informfitness.com and at the time of this recording, we have locations in Manhattan, Port Washington, Danville, Burbank, Boulder, Leesburg, and in Restin. If you aren’t near an InForm Fitness location, you can always pick up Adam’s book via Amazon: Power of Ten, The Once a Week Slow Motion Fitness Revolution. Included in the book are several exercises that support this protocol that you can
If you aren’t near an InForm Fitness location, you can always pick up Adam’s book via Amazon: Power of Ten, The Once a Week Slow Motion Fitness Revolution. Included in the book are several exercises that support this protocol that you can actually perform on your own at a gym nearest you. We’ll have a link to Adam’s book in the show notes as well. Thanks again for listening, and for Sheila Melody, Mike Rogers, and Adam Zickerman of InForm Fitness, I’m Tim Edwards with the InBound Podcasting Network.
Thanks again for listening, and for Sheila Melody, Mike Rogers, and Adam Zickerman of InForm Fitness, I’m Tim Edwards with the InBound Podcasting Network.
You might recall in our last episode, Adam shared the very intimate details of his lifelong struggle with lower back pain and how he’s conquering it by combing slow motion, high-intensity strength training with a positive attitude.
Here in episode 24, we get into some of the psychological aspects of a negative diagnosis, such as a lower back problem, and how that diagnosis alone can prolong an illness or injury.
Conversely, we’ll share some interesting data that supports the notion that a simple attitude adjustment can change the course of your rehabilitation towards a faster recovery.
Dr. Louis Fierro who is a chiropractor and works with the InForm Fitness Active Rehabilitation program joins Adam Zickerman to offer up his suggestions and solutions for those experiencing back pain.
Below is a link to the book Adam mentioned in this episode: Foundation: Redefine You Core, Conquer Back Pain, and Move with Confidence:
A Rational Approach to the Treatment of Low Back Pain by Brian W. Nelson, MD http://www.medxonline.com/pdf/rationalapproachtotreatment.pdf
Don’t forget Adam's Zickerman’s book, Power of 10: The Once-a-Week Slow Motion Fitness Revolution. You can purchase Adam's book in Amazon by clicking here: http://bit.ly/ThePowerofTen
To find an Inform Fitness location nearest you to give this workout a try, please visit www.InformFitness.com. At the time of this recording we have locations in Manhattan, Port Washington, Denville, Burbank, Boulder, Leesburg and Resten.
If you'd like to ask Adam, Mike or Sheila a question or have a comment regarding the Power of 10. Send us an email or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to email@example.com.
For information regarding the production of your own podcast just like The Inform Fitness Podcast, please email Tim Edwards at tim@InBoundPodcasting.com
Transcription to this episode is below:
Motion is Great Joint Lotion
Louis: People get diagnosed, and then they go into this sick syndrome if you will as Adam described and their anxiety levels go through the roof. They’re told to take [Inaudible] and medication and immobilize, rest, don’t actively engage and really here at InForm Fitness, it’s the opposite. The patients are clients with the clients and taught to enthusiastically actively engage in not only an exercise program of high-intensity, but a healthy lifestyle.
Tim: InForm Nation, good to have you back with us here on the InForm Nation podcast. 20 minutes with New York Times bestselling author, Adam Zickerman, and friends. I’m Tim Edwards with the InBound Podcasting Network and a client of InForm Fitness. You just heard the voice of Dr. Louis Fierro, he’s a chiropractor who works with Adam in the InForm Fitness Active Rehabilitation program. Now in this episode, Dr. Lou as he’s affectionally called, will offer up his suggestions and solutions for those experiencing back pain, much like Adam has. You might recall on the last episode, Adam shared the very intimate details of his lifelong struggle with lower back pain, and how he’s conquering it by combing slow motion, high-intensity strength training with his attitude. Here on episode 24, we get into some of the psychological aspects of a negative diagnoses such as a back problem, and how that alone can prolong an illness or injury. Conversely, we’ll share some interesting data that supports the notion that a simple attitude adjustment can change the course of your rehabilitation towards a faster recovery. Joined as always by Sheila Melody, the co-owner and general manager of the Burbank location, and Mike Rogers, the general manager of the Manhattan location. Here is the founder of InForm Fitness, Adam Zickerman.
Adam: I read this article a couple of years ago which really resonated with me, written by some doctors that treat lower back problems, non-surgically, the way we’re actually doing it here and the way we recommend people do it, but it’s not just a physical program of exercise that he was talking about. There was another aspect about people getting better, and that was the mental side of it which I found really interesting. For years and years and years, people kept telling me you’ve got to do something about your back. Every so often you’re getting these spasms, you’ve got to get some MRIs and some interventions, like surgical type of interventions. At the very least, get injections into the facets of your spine, all these techniques that I was very resistant to because in my mind, my back problem was a temporary thing that I had to solve. I didn’t really believe that I had a back problem, I thought that there were some muscular things that weren’t being dealt with and putting me into spasm, it wasn’t a structural thing with my back, I was convinced of that, and therefore I never accepted the fact that I was somebody with back problems. Obviously when I had a spasm I had to accept the fact that I had a back problem, but the chronic pain that came and went from a one to a four, back to a one, I was just saying I need to do something in a nonsurgical way, I just haven’t figured it out yet, and then the article talked about that. He was saying that a lot of patients, they fall into this sick role when they’re told they have a back problem and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and now they have a back problem, and they just accept the fact that they have this back problem, and there’s a huge psychological component to this. I realized that one of the reasons why I wasn’t debilitated long term is because I never accepted the fact that I had this back problem and it’s because of that nonacceptance if you will that I am where I am right now, but my attitude towards this whole thing is what I’m saying is what got me through this and there are a lot of people that kind of feel when they have a back problem, that’s it and you rely on these surgical methodologies because there’s no other way to fix it. Even though they have MRIs that are less remarkable than mine, so Dr. Lou Fierro, chiropractor that works out of our studio here in Manhattan and is involved in our active rehabilitation program and uses some of our equipment to help patients, is here with us today and I want him to talk about this idea that people play this sick role when all of a sudden they’re told by a doctor that they have a back problem. Do you find that to be true?
Lou: Absolutely, and you shared this article with me several months ago, and I thought the title said a lot [Inaudible: 00:05:10].
Adam: Brian Nelson, exactly.
Lou: A rational approach to the treatment of lower back pain, and after I read it, I said this is really a proactive approach and that’s the model we’ve always taken. Whether we had an elite level athlete, a professional athlete, a weekend warrior, the de-conditioned mother that’s caring for kids that have so much anxiety when they’re given an MRI and shown the results of a herniation, and the reality is if we took 100% of the population and gave them an MRI, specifically in the lumbar region, about 82% studies show, there would some shape or form of a degenerative change or a herniation between the ages of 22 and 65. Only about 30% of that population has a subjective complaint to follow and mirror that objective finding, so people get diagnosed and then they get into this sick syndrome, if you will as Adam described, and their anxiety levels go through the roof. They’re told take [Inaudible: 00:06:02], take medication, immobilize, rest, don’t actively engage, and really here at InForm Fitness, it’s the opposite. The patients are educated, the clients are taught to enthusiastically actively engage, not only in an exercise program of high-intensity, but a healthy lifestyle. Once they’re shown that I can BLT, bend, lift, and twist, and not exacerbate my condition, now I can walk up a flight of stairs. I can care for my children, I can be a good spouse. They just really decrease in their pain threshold, and inflammation in their body, because there have been studies to show that inflammation is not only caused by poor diet, overactive activities, but by stress levels. Cortisol —
Adam: Lack of sleep.
Lou: Side effects of medication, so I don’t know the exact date that I first met Adam, but once I really saw the program that they were doing here, I kind of had to look twice at it and I realized wow, he’s onto something. He’s onto something more than most medical doctors have doing for the last twenty-five years.
Tim: He’s the guru, I keep telling you.
Lou: I think as recently as last week in [Inaudible: 00:07:56], I said Adam you’ve got to come in here, I’ve got a patient that actually had a three level laminectomy and she’s got rotational scoliosis in her back, and she has had nagging, nagging pain. I cannot remember [Inaudible: 00:08:13] may be the medication she’s on, but without that medication, it’s hard for her to function. I said you know what, we’re going to throw her on the MedEx machine here, lumbar extension machine. This is after I did a little bit of what I call white knuckling, trigger point release into one of her spinal muscles that was contracted. Put her on that machine, she stood up, and she said I’m pain-free. Holy crap, I’m pain-free.
Adam: It’s like one of those evangelists that touch you.
Lou: I said to her listen, marching orders are go leave now, live your life, don’t do anything out of the ordinary, and she says I’m going to see my trainer tonight that’s going to come to my house. I said you never told me you had a home trainer, what do you do with the trainer? She started demonstrating rotational chops, high force activities, high load activities, high back torque, loading the spine in ways that really aren’t necessary. So she said do you mind talking to my trainer, I said not a problem. So I spoke to her and I have a patient the person and trainer may listen to this podcast, which is all cool but anyway. I spoke to the trainer, and I said let’s just remove certain of those BLTs for right now, no bent over single arm rows and just keep it very linear, very static if you will. She was feeling good and I didn’t want to say don’t train at all because I didn’t want to impede on her lifestyle. She came back in today, and she had discomfort, and I said when did the discomfort start? She said from the time I left you guys all the way up until I had my training session, I was pain-free, and then after my training session, it started to exacerbate again. I’m going to give a little bit of a time out, I don’t know how comfortable I am giving this admission from her testimonial today because I don’t want to offend her trainer.
Anyway we put her back on that machine today, and once again she felt phenomenal. So this machine, essentially what is allows someone to do that is in an active back spasm or even or has a neurological deficit from a disc compression, locks down the pelvis in such a way that when you actively extend, the only muscles being engaged and being recruited are the lumbar and rector, and even some of the deep spinal rotators have to engage in straight extension. So it allows for a term that I like to use, instead of traction it’s called decoaptation, where it’s a joint segment that’s being lengthened without cavitation of the joint.
Adam: So for those of you that don’t speak science, what he’s saying here is that by fixing the hips in place and by doing a back extension but pushing yourself back, you’re actually opening up the spaces of the vertebrae which gives you relief.
Lou: On the note, it also gives kind of a self-massage into those spinal segments. The only time — I’m starting to question some of the traditional medical research, the only time where they say don’t put a patient into extension is if they have facet arthrosis or facet arthritis, degeneration of the joints. Lately, I’ve kind of taken Adam’s approach a little bit and said I’m going to test this, and I’m put a patient or two on there with facet arthrossi as diagnosed by a radiologist and confirmed by a surgeon, and they came out of it feeling better. So it goes back to my principle of motion is great joint lotion, and if we can actively engage a patient, not passively. The difference there is passively is the therapist is moving the patient, actively is them moving themselves and us assisting as a coach, making sure they’re in the bio mechanical correct position. They feel better, not only from a physiological point of view, but from an emotional and social wellbeing. I can do this, I can exercise. Guess what, we do that for two or three sessions and then we move them to a leg press. As you mentioned earlier, I don’t remember who said that they were struggling with it but then you just altered your position and you were pain-free.
Adam: The leg press actually — I don’t want to give the leg press a bad name, the leg press is actually very good for the lower back because it’s strengthening your hip extensors which are your glutes. Those primary moves are also very important to work, matter of fact one of my mentors, Rob Francis told me that it’s very important. Once you start doing some lower back extensions and you’re starting to feel that relief, that it’s important to start doing some of the major hip movements like leg press.
Mike: Dr. Lou you can add onto this. There are probably sometimes, like if you wanted to do a leg press, there may be some conditions or just a status that a person is in, a client is in, where they’re just not ready to perform a certain movement pattern and I guess the low back machine can prepare you for a leg press, or manual therapy of some kind. Is that what’s necessary sometimes?
Lou: Absolutely. Even when we had the patient in today, she was saying that she was getting some burn in her quads while doing the back extension.
Adam: There’s some static contraction in there.
Lou: Exactly, but it’s just a progression physiologically but it’s also a progression mentally where hey, I just did that pain-free. Not only pain-free, I’m not in pain anymore therefore I’m going to do something else, and there have been many times where I’ve had a patient that’s gotten acute lower back exacerbation. We get them through the back extension pain-free, and you say you know what, you’re going to do one of the safe chest presses here. I’m going to add that in, what does that have to do with their back? Maybe not a lot but everything to do with their psychological profile about themselves, and years ago, I’m trying to remember the first time. I don’t think I’ve ever shared this with Adam, but he actually probably knew. In 2002, I had opened up a rehab facility as part of my practice, and around that time I had a really bad, acute lower back condition and it was in the summer, and mine came — it was actually on a tractor. I was cutting my lawn, and the tractor went into an old kind of stump hole, it went down, I went up, and we met somewhere in the middle. It created an avulsion fracture on my left hip, and some secondary lower back issues. I went to see a doctor and they said take an epidural, have these pills, I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to let my body heal, and I was in such excruciating back pain one morning that I said I’m going to get up and do some deep knee bends, and I did and it immediately increased my range of motion. So I started testing on patients, I started having patients who had acute lower back pain doing kind of wall squats if you will. We were loading the muscles, strengthening and opening up the spinal segments, and now that I really think about it, probably as Adam just said, it had a lot to do with the mental approach of them actually being able to exercise. After being told immobilize, bed rest, don’t do anything and I was doing the opposite. Fast forward to now, I’ve met Adam and he’s created this circuit where I look at InForm Fitness and in my mind, people ask me how to describe it and I say it’s probably one of the hardest forms of exercise that I’ve ever come across, while being the safest form of exercise.
Adam: That sums it up pretty well.
Lou: It really does. Recently I had the pleasure of bringing in what I consider an elite level
athlete. Not a professional yet but an elite level athlete who just finished his two years of junior hockey and he’s going own to play at a high level one collegiate hockey. This guy is about as conditioned as anyone that I know. I had him do the protocol here, and he said that was by far the hardest twenty-five minutes of exercise I’ve ever done. I just don’t understand why it was only twenty-five because he was so mind conditioned that it has to an hour, or hour and a half. As opposed to being able to get it done in what I call short duration, high intensity.
Mike: Real quick, we’ve had a few pro athletes here over the years and they’ve all made the same comment in regards to this strength training program, as opposed to any other strength training they’ve been a part of.
Adam: I want to bring it back to first of all, I want to summarize on kind of what we just said. So these passive modalities of back treatment, taking medication, inactivity, some of these things that physical therapists do on a passive level such as electric stem, heat packs, so the thing about those is they’re all well and good for acute situations but they’re not going to help an overall situation for long term. I think the takeaway from this is one, inactivity is not what you should be doing if you have some back problems. First of all, don’t accept your back problems, and know that most people, if they don’t have something really serious going on like a spinal tumor or some kind of neurological deficiency, you have to move that joint, but you have to do it safely. There are ways of doing it safely, I don’t want people just running out there now and just doing all this crazy stuff because they listened to this episode of our podcast and they just said move, so all of your sudden you’re doing all these crazy things like doing Crossfit or some of the things we were talking about with Lou’s patient. It has to be controlled, but this idea that you have to immobilize and not do anything, and be very, very careful, you have a back problem. That has not been working.
Lou: No, and on that point Adam, this article by Dr. Nelson does a great job about utilize the science that’s there, utilize the diagnostic studies, the MRIs. If there’s a space occupying a spinal tumor, something that needs surgical intervention, you go for it, but what Adam is saying is very similar to this article is go through the correct markers and then actively engage and take an active role in getting your body mobile.
Adam: The second thing besides just knowing that you should not be inactive just because you have a back problem, and not give up life, is doing some very specific things for your lower back. Dr. Lou is mentioning our program here, and we have some very special equipment. It does, it fixes the hips in place and allows somebody to go into a type of back extension that you cannot do without a machine like this, without something that can actually keep the hips fixed. So to plug InForm Fitness, we all have these machines in our gyms at InForm Fitness, so if you’re fortunate enough to be near to one of our locations, it’d be great to try one of these machines. These MedEx, lumbar extension machines. Having said that, and knowing that most people listening to this episode are not going to have access to these machines, all is not lost, and I want Mike, since he does a lot of work with people on these types of movements, I want Mike to talk about some of the things that you can do should you not have access to this type of machine.
Mike: It starts with a few mobility exercises, and they don’t take long at all to do, and the first thing I would recommend people to do is just to get down on all fours on a mat and get into a little child pose. You sit on your heels with your feet tucked underneath, and you tilt your body all the way over as if you’re bowing towards the sun. Just stay there for about twenty seconds or so, and for a lot of people who are dealing with acute pain or just some ordinary tightness, that often times gives some simple relief. After that, Adam mentioned before, pelvic tilts. They can be done from many different positions, from all fours once again to on your back, to standing up. Basically from an all fours position, you are doing what’s called an anterior pelvic tilt and a posterior pelvic tilt. The posterior sort of feels like you’re, while being on all fours, you arch your lower back up a little bit and you’re creating what feels like an ab crunch, and then the anterior tilt is when you do the exact opposite movement. After that, I usually guide people through doing another child’s pose for about twenty seconds, and then come back to all fours, and then a more extended version of what that last pose was which is cat cow, which is recommended by every chiropractor and physical therapist. It’s a full tilt of spine, the whole thoracic spine to the lumbar spine, and then a full arch as well. Followed by that a bird dog, so once again, being on all fours and where you extend your left arm forward in front of you, and then the opposing leg, the right leg back, and hold the position for ten to twenty seconds and then switch off. After that, some glute bridges, which are just lying on your back with your feet placed down on the mat, and your hips will come off the floor, and you just do some very, very light bridging off the floor and then coming back down to the floor. So these can all be demonstrated online, it’s a little difficult sometimes to say them without a visual, but it starts with simple stuff like that, and then a few more beyond that. I think if someone is dealing with some back tightness, it’s generally safe. Without any diagnosis, it’s probably safe to go down and give these little things a try. Obviously, if you’re dealing with some acute pain while trying these very simple movements, then you definitely some advice from a professional.
Adam: There’s a good book on the subject. There’s a lot of books on the subject, but a good one that I like, it’s well written and has great pictures, it’s called Foundation, subtitle Redefine Your Core, Conquer Back Pain, and Move With Confidence. I like the subtitle because we were just talking about moving with confidence, this confidence thing keeps coming up doesn’t it. It’s by Dr. Eric Goodman and Peter Park. Not Peter Parker. Foundation.
Tim: We’ll have links to that in the show notes as well.
Mike: I personally loved this book and there are a lot of different exercises. It gives a great
explanation of the anatomy of the low back, some of the common problems that can happen to the low back, and it goes into several different exercises but it revolves around one fundamental exercise which they call the founder, which is essentially a back extension, and they show you how to do it in that book.
Adam: So my final thoughts are, and the takeaway I’d like you to have and I mentioned this, is one, don’t accept your back pain, and use surgical methodology really as a last resort, and really try some of these — hire somebody or try some of these movements, therapies if you will, to help with this. Movement is so important, movement is really important, and I can tell you from my own experience that I’ve never thought of somebody who has back problems. I always thought of myself as somebody who had muscular problems in my lower back, and I think I might be right. What I’d like to do is come back to this in six months to a year, and let you know how I’m doing. I’m going to continue doing what I’ve been doing, and I’ll let you know because let me tell you something. If it doesn’t come back after another six months and I’ve been doing what I started doing six months ago, almost a year ago actually, and I don’t have these episodes going forward for the next six months or a year, I think my conclusion is going to be right because nothing else ever worked, short of doing surgical types of things which I’m not going to do. So stay tuned. The other thing that we’re going to be talking about on our next episode is the second thing I did which I feel contributed to a lot of the alleviation of my lower back problems, and that is my diet. That is what we’re going to be talking about in our next episode, the diet that I undertook in the last ninety days and how it’s changed me forever.
Tim: So there you have it. In next week’s episode as Adam just mentioned, we will be talking about a diet plan that Adam has been participating in for the last three months. A plan that Adam credits for assisting with successfully managing the lower back issues that he’s been dealing with for most of his life. Coming back in the next couple of weeks, we will be speaking with Gretchen Rubin. Gretchen’s books have sold more than two million copies in thirty different languages. She has a popular podcast of her own, it’s called Happier with Gretchen Rubin, and she’s also a client and has been for many years of InForm Fitness. Also on the way we have a terrific conversation with Dr. Martin Gaballa, author of The One Minute Workout. We will contrast and compare high-intensity strength training with high-intensity interval training. Looking forward to this one. Hey if you’d like to find an InForm Fitness location nearest you to give this workout a try for yourself, please visit informfitness.com. At this time of this recording we have locations in Manhattan, Port Washington, Denville, Burbank, Boulder, Leesburg, and Restin. If you are not near an InForm Fitness location, you can always pick up Adam’s book, Power of Ten, the Once a Week Slow Motion Revolution. Included in Adam’s book are several exercises that support this protocol that you can actually perform on your own. We’ll have a link to Adam’s book here in the show notes. For Sheila Melody, Mike Rogers, and Adam Zickerman, I’m Tim Edwards, with the InBound Podcasting Network.
As the Founder of InForm Fitness’ Power-of-10 Workout, Adam Zickerman makes the claim every day that InForm Fitness offers the safest, most efficient strength training program around. But Adam has a confession for InForm Nation.
Adam suffered an injury while exercising that resulted in acute, knock-you-on-your-butt, back muscle spasms. You can imagine Adam’s dilemma as to whether or not he should fess up or cover up his recent injury.
Hear the whole story in Episode 23 beginning with the surgery he experienced as a child, the details of his injury, and how he seems to have found a cure for his lifelong ailment.
Click this link to read Adam's story at INFORM INSIGHTS: https://informfitness.com/back-spasms-exercise/
Pick up Adam's Zickerman’s book, Power of 10: The Once-a-Week Slow Motion Fitness Revolution. You can buy it in Amazon by clicking here: http://bit.ly/ThePowerofTen
To find an Inform Fitness location nearest you to give this workout a try, please visit www.InformFitness.com. At the time of this recording we have locations in Manhattan, Port Washington, Denville, Burbank, Boulder, Leesburg and Resten.
If you'd like to ask Adam, Mike or Sheila a question or have a comment regarding the Power of 10. Send us an email or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join Inform Nation and call the show with a comment or question. The number is 888-983-5020, Ext. 3.
For information regarding the production of your own podcast just like The Inform Fitness Podcast, please email Tim Edwards at tim@InBoundPodcasting.com
The complete transcriptions for this episode is below:
Tim: And we’re back, InForm Nation! Glad you’re doing us once again here for episode 23, on the InForm Fitness Podcast. Twenty minutes with Adam Zickerman and friends. For those joining us for the very first time, let’s go around the horn and introduce everybody. I’m Tim Edwards with the InBound Podcasting Network, and a client of InForm Fitness, and joining me here in person at the InBound Studio is co-owner and general manager of the Burbank InForm Fitness location, Sheila Melody. Sheila, nice to see you three dimensionally instead of 2D via Skype nowadays, thanks for joining me.
Sheila: Yeah, this is fun!
Tim: And still in boring old 2D through the magic of Skype is general manager of the Manhattan location, Mike Rogers, and the founder of InForm Fitness, New York Times bestselling author, Power of Ten: The Once a Week Slow Motion Fitness Revolution, also affectionally known as the guru, Adam Zickerman. What’s up fellas?
Mike: I’ve never called him the guru.
Tim: No, ever?
Mike: I’m going to start calling you that now, matter of fact, the guru.
Adam: Mike was booking some guests on one of our podcast episodes, in his letters he writes, and he refers to me as his boss. I meant to talk to Mike about that, saying boss. Refer to me as your — I don’t know —
Tim: Your superior. The boss, the founder, Adam.
Adam: Your colleague and the founder of InForm Fitness.
Mike: You’re going to go there, okay. You’re going to wish I said boss next time.
Tim: Alright well the boss has been having problems with his back, or at least he has in the past, and here in episode 23, we’re going to refer back to a blog post of yours Adam from June of last year, 2016: Back Spasms From Exercise, which we’ll have a link to in the show notes of course if you’d like to read them. In the blog post Adam, you offer up a confession, and you mention a back injury that you suffered as a kid. Now we’ll get to that confession in just a moment, but let’s start with the injury you suffered; what caused the injury, back many, many decades ago?
Adam: Yeah I was a teenager, and I don’t know exactly what caused the injury. I think it was a combination of sports and being active, but I also had this weird obsession about jumping staircases, and when I think back on my childhood life, I really think that my back injury was from trying to jump down ten stairs or fifteen stairs. I started to keep increasing the amounts of stairs I could jump.
Tim: I did the same stuff, I really did.
Mike: You probably hit your head one time and that’s why your memory is —
Adam: I do remember where it manifested itself. It could have been the stairs — when the back problem happened, I didn’t feel it right away. It was during actually a basketball game, I was a point guard, and up until that point I was a pretty good point guard. At this particular game, I couldn’t cut to my left. There was no pain, I was just very slow cutting to the left, and the ball kept getting stolen from me at mid court, and my father who was watching the game was like, and my coach and everybody was like, that’s very unusual for Adam to get the ball just taken from him like that, every time he brings the ball up. It was that night that all of the sudden the back pain started. Now I’ve been saying for years that I think it was the basketball game that hurt my back, but very likely it was probably something before that that led up to it, and I’m thinking that crazy idea I had about jumping off of staircases.
Tim: So 35, 40 years ago is when this probably began.
Adam: Yeah, the symptoms were numbness in my right leg, radiating down my leg. I couldn’t bend at all, I couldn’t bend at my waist at all. I couldn’t sit for more then a couple of minutes without the pain, I had to stand or lie down.
Tim: As a kid.
Adam: I was a kid, and the back of my leg was in a lot of pain and numb at the same time, my calf was numb. To this day, there is slight numbness to my slight calf compared to my left calf. I can feel some sensation, but it’s definitely dulled; to this day, it’s never recovered, so there’s probably a little bit of nerve damage back then.
Mike: So did you go to the doctor and find out what exactly happened?
Adam: So we go to a doctor and remember I’m eleven, and when you have these symptoms as an adult, right away they say let’s look at the back, but as a child, the last thing they were thinking about was a nerve compression of a herniated disc. So they were looking for everything else,
including tumors of the spine. So there was a point there where I was meeting with oncologists and getting tests at NYU at New York University Medical Center. The tests for everything but a herniated disc, and when they eliminated all those things, they said could this kid have a
herniated disc, and they performed a procedure called a myelogram. Which is a crazy procedure where they inject a dye into your spinal column, and they turn you upside down on a table, literally upside down, and let the dye kind of go down the spine or really up the spine, and when they see the fluid, this dye that they inject into your spinal column. When they see that dye deviate to the right or the left, that’s where the herniation is, and that’s how they were able to determine disc herniations back in the day, in the 70s. They still do that procedure but much less so now. So a myelogram is more or less an archaic methodology now, MRIs have pretty much taken over that. So when they saw the fact that I had a disc herniation, they were like holy cow, and I had surgery. I had surgery by a neurosurgeon, the surgery is called a laminectomy, and in part of the spine vertebrae, there’s something called lamina, and the lamina was removed to
pretty much reduce the pressure that was being pushed against it by the disc, pushing a nerve into the lamina. So they took away the lamina, no more pressure against the nerve, and the pain went away, but there was a compromise there. There was a structural compromise done when you remove structure from your vertebrae. So ever since that surgery, I’ve been able to bend and I’ve been able to play all my sports, and I’ve lived a fairly normal life. However, probably ten years into post surgery, I would start getting back spasms. These horrible, horrible, bring you down to your knees, can’t move, and if you move, you go into another spasm. It’s almost like being hooked up to a car battery and every time — you sit and you’re kidnapped, and every time you say something wrong, they hit the switch and you’re shocked. That’s what a back spasm is, where there is sometimes I would be suffering spasms and if I tried to move out of my position, I would go right back into position. It was just nonstop spasm after spasm after spasm, and this can go on for hours. They’re excruciating, it’s literally like being shocked.
Sheila: It sounds like torture.
Adam: It’s very painful.
Tim: And this is something you experienced in your twenties now? These back spasms.
Adam: I’ve been experiencing those from my twenties up until now.
Mike: I’ve seen Adam over the years about half a dozen times, during the workday, they kind of come out of nowhere. I don’t know if he worked out earlier that day or whatever, but I’ve seen him have to go down to the ground and put a tennis ball, just lay down on a tennis ball and stuff like that.
Adam: Those are for the good ones. Sometimes they got so bad that I would literally get nauseated and want to vomit, and it’s just relentless, it doesn’t go away. The only thing that makes it better is time. A couple days on my back, it finally starts to subside. I also take
Flexeril, which is a muscle relaxant, and that seems to take the edge off when things are really bad. Alright so that’s the history.
Tim: Let’s fast forward a few years now, right, because Adam, let’s jump to the confession now. I’ll tell you, if I’m listening to this and I’m hearing you, Adam Zickerman, the founder of InForm Fitness, suffering from back spasms, my first question honestly is, well did that happen as a
result of high-intensity strength training?
Adam: No, definitely not. Although I’ve tweaked it during workouts, the confession that you’re referring to, this blog that I wrote, I was doing leg press, and I was pushing myself. I set a new weight, it was a new seat setting that put a little bit more strain on my back apparently. I was training myself and probably my thought went somewhere else, and my hips lifted a little bit, and all they have to do is lift a millimeter, and bam, I felt something. It wasn’t the spasm, but I felt something, I was like oh boy. Usually, you feel something and it just progressively gets worse, and I know I’m in for it. Sometimes you feel that pain, I’ve been dealing with this for so long in my life, you feel that initial pain and you say to yourself, okay, five more hours from now, I’m going to be on my back. I’ve got to get my ass home, put that ice pack on, and hope for the best. Of course, it comes, it does come, and it came this last time, and this was less than a year ago.
Tim: I remember we recording some podcasts last year, and you were really struggling with your back during one of those episodes that we had. So this happened, that’s your confession Adam, in your blog post was —
Adam: The confession is here I am, exercises quote unquote guru with a bad back. It’s like being an obese nutritionist or something.
Mike: They’re out there.
Adam: I interviewed one, not to change the subject, but somebody came looking for — making some nutrition referrals and she was overweight, I was like come on.
Tim: So here you are, again like we said, founder of InForm Fitness, on one of your machines. You just lost focus, and maybe one of the mistakes you made I guess was training yourself, and someone not watching you as closely as all of the trainers at InForm Fitness do with their clients, and this happened. So there’s that confession. So since this incident Adam that you mentioned in your blog post, have you had any back spasms?
Adam: No I haven’t, and I think there are a couple of reasons for it. One reason we’ll talk about now, and another reason we’ll talk about in another episode of our podcast.
Mike: Real quick Adam, is this the longest period you’ve gone without a back spasm?
Adam: This is — I’m approaching the longest period I’ve gone without a back spasm right now. The last five years, I’ve been getting about maybe two or three back spasms a year, now it’s been about a year since I had one. When I was in my twenties, I only got one a year. The difference between when I was in my twenties and recently was they came more often, and they healed a lot slower when I got older. When I was in my twenties and thirties, I would get one, a couple of days later, back to new. Now, been lingering, my wife has been saying, wow Adam, it just seems like your back is always hurting now, always crooked. Even when I wasn’t in spasm, my posture was just off, and there was always this like — I would say, I would give it a 4/10 in terms of pain, just ongoing. So I was always feeling something in my back at a level four, spasms are a ten plus. When I’m about to go into spasm, sometimes there’s an eight and seven, and I can work. I can go into work with an eight and deal with it, and I kept saying this is muscular, this is neuromuscular, this is not structural. I know my body, I know an MRI is going to be what they say in medicine as remarkable, it’s not going to show much of anything, but of course, because they were lasting longer and becoming more frequent, I was like what do I have to do lose? Go get an MRI, what’s the big deal? So I got it, and I got it about a year ago, and it showed some slight herniations, grade one vertebrate slippage, but there are MRIs out there that show a lot worse, and the patient is asymptomatic and they don't have any back problems. And there are people that don’t show anything that have severe back problems, so my MRI was basically unremarkable, and it didn’t indicate anything major that would be causing all of these spasms, let’s put it that way. So I was frustrated, I trained people day in and day out with safe exercise, and I strengthened their lower back, and there’s that expression that cobblers’ children don’t have any shoes. I have to — here’s another confession, I was not doing my back exercises that I keep imploring my patients or clients to do, to do that regular back extension, back strengthening
exercise, and I wasn’t doing any follow up type of work like pelvic tilts, hip thrusts, things that could create movement of that hip and lower back area. I was working all the time, I was sitting, I was commuting long commutes, and I really wasn’t doing what I thought I should be doing. I just couldn’t take it anymore, after the MRI came back and showed that there was nothing to really write home about, I said you know what, I’ve just got to start taking care of myself. I was doing all of the major exercises, the leg presses and the chest presses and all of the things that guys like to do, but I was ignoring the lower back. So I’ve been doing that regularly now, absolutely regularly for the last year, and I have to say especially in the last four or five months, I am, well, for the first time since I was in my twenties, I can say that I don’t feel my back anymore. I don’t feel that thing there that’s been following me around like a black cloud. I have literally no pain in my lower back, and it hasn’t been this way for quite a while now, knock on wood, because it can come at any time, but I don’t remember the last time that I could say that I have no pain in my lower back.
Sheila: And would you say consistently?
Adam: I was at a three or four for months at a time, I can keep it at a three or four. The one long airplane ride or car ride and I’m back to a five and six, or funny enough, when I would do sports, it would feel better. So there’s something to that movement that would make it feel better. I remember going to skiing and thinking to myself, I don’t know if this is a good idea dude. I know you love skiing, but maybe it’s time to hang up the bindings, and well I went, and I’m telling you, it felt batter. My back would feel better after something like that, or long bike rides, my back would feel better. So there was something to that movement, and all these things together made me say let’s take care of your back finally. Get on that lower back extension machine on a regular basis, do your pelvic tilts. Ice, I would ice my back on a regular basis. I would get massages on a regular basis, and now here I am.
Sheila: You say on a regular basis, are you talking weekly, weekly you’re doing a routine that supports your back?
Adam: Yes, weekly and daily. The weekly thing is the high intense, lower back extensions. The daily is the icing it once a day for twenty minutes or so. I would do pelvic tilts, I would do some light stretches, and I would also on a weekly basis, I’d have some manual therapy. Some deep tissue massage, and the combination thereof — I’ve been doing a lot of things, so it’s hard to know which one of those things is the answer. It’s probably the combination, and the reason we’re doing this podcast, this episode of the podcast right now is because I think I’m onto
Tim: You see a very dramatic change.
Adam: Mike has also been doing a lot of this stuff recently with his patients or clients.
Mike: The thing is, I think all around health, this is from my experience and I’ve talked to chiropractors, physical therapists, orthopedists, and we’ve read lots of books on the matter, and I’ve taken other courses in fitness, and what I’ve learned is there is our weekly exercise that we need to do for our strength, and we’ve found a nice, safe, efficient way of doing that, but Adam mentioned some daily exercises, and I’ve prescribed very, very simple little things that take about five minutes on a daily basis, and people who are compliant to these little things — and these are just mobility exercises, activation of the muscles, nothing intense at all, and they
involve little pelvic tilts. Whether you’re laying down on your back or you can be on all fours, like a child pose, bird, dog, some little glute bridge leg raises type of things, and very light stretches of the hamstrings and calves, and I’ve found unbelievable results from people, in addition to their workouts that they come for once a week. The ones that are compliant, doing it three, four or more times a week, within two weeks they’re feeling a lot better. So I think the formula involves some small daily exercises as well.
Tim: In addition to that Mike too, I’ll just speak for myself. I had some lower back issues and when I first started at InForm Fitness, the leg press was really giving me some problems, and Anne Kirkland, one of the trainers at the Burbank location, went in and made some adjustments to how I was sitting in the leg press. She put something behind my back I believe.
Sheila: A lumbar pad. Anne has additional certification in low back.
Tim: And immediately fixed whatever issues I was having with the leg press, so you do the same thing there I’m sure as well in New York.
Mike: I’m sorry to interrupt — if you’re in the wrong position, things are not going to be good no matter where you are, and I think that’s the benefit to being here is it’s one on one, it’s slow motion. We have time to sort of assess and see where we are, first of all, to make sure that the seat position is correct, and then to monitor your form throughout the set.
Tim: That’s right, and that’s what happened to me as I mentioned a few moments ago. I was on the leg press, having a few issues with my back, just a few minor adjustments from my trainer and the back pain went away. Hey guys, as you can tell by the music, our twenty minutes allotted for this episode is up, so it’s time for us to wrap it up. It also means that for you, on the other side of the speakers, if you began your high-intensity strength training workout at an InForm Fitness when we began this episode, you too, would be wrapping it up. For the entire week, now you’ll be wiped out, but you’ll be done, and you can begin enjoying your rest and recovery, to prepare for next week’s workout. We’ll do the same here at the InForm Fitness Podcast, we are going to continue our talk regarding back pain. We’ll also be joined by Dr. Louis Fierro, a chiropractor who works with Adam in the InForm Fitness Active Rehabilitation program. Dr. Lou will offer up his suggestions and solutions for those experiencing back pain of their own, plus we’ll dive into the psychological aspects of a negative diagnosis, such as a back problem, and how that alone can prolong an illness or an injury. We’ll share some interesting data that supports the notion that a simple attitude adjustment can change the course of your rehabilitation.
If you’d like to give this workout a try for yourself, to find an InForm Fitness location nearest you, just visit informfitness.com. At the time of this recording, we have locations in Manhattan, Port Washington, Denville, Burbank, Boulder, Leesburg, and Reston. If you’re not near an InForm Fitness location, you can always pick up Adam’s book: Power of Ten, the Once a Week Slow Motion Fitness Revolution. Included in Adam’s book are several exercises that support this protocol, that you can actually perform on your own at a gym nearest you.
Hey we have a lot planned here at the InForm Fitness Podcast that we can’t wait to share with you. In the next few weeks, we’ll be speaking with Gretchen Rubin from the award winning Happier podcast. We’ll also be talking to Dr. Martin Gibala, author of the One Minute Workout, and in another episode, Adam will be discussing a diet plan that, in his words, has changed his life, and of course as I mentioned earlier, chiropractor Dr. Lou Fierro joins us next week. For Sheila Melody, Mike Rogers, and Adam Zickerman of InForm Fitness, I’m Tim Edwards, with the InBound Podcasting Network.
The secret to losing 20 pounds? You have to work with your fat, not against it. Here in Episode 22 on The Inform Fitness Podcast, Adam Zickerman and his team are joined by biochemist and author of The Secret Life of Fat, Dr. Sylvia Tara.
Dr. Tara explains how you can outsmart your body fat, with cutting-edge research and historical perspectives to reveal fat’s true identity. Once you understand it…you can beat it.
For The Secret Life of Fat audio book in Audible click here: http://bit.ly/TheSecretLifeofFat_IFF_Podcast
To purchase The Secret Life of Fat in Amazon click here: http://bit.ly/TheSecretLifeofFat_Amazon
Don’t forget Adam's Zickerman’s book, Power of 10: The Once-a-Week Slow Motion Fitness Revolution. You can buy it from Amazon by clicking here: http://bit.ly/ThePowerofTen
To find an Inform Fitness location nearest you to give this workout a try, please visit www.InformFitness.com. At the time of this recording, we have locations in Manhattan, Port Washington, Denville, Burbank, Boulder, Leesburg and Resten
Join Inform Nation and call the show with a comment or question. The number is 888-983-5020, Ext. 3.
The Transcriptions for the entire episode is below:
22 The Secret Life of Fat
Tim: Hey InForm Nation, thanks for joining us once again here for episode 22 of the InForm Fitness Podcast, twenty minutes with New York Times bestselling author, Adam Zickerman and friends. I’m Tim Edwards with the InBound Podcasting network, and a client of InForm Fitness, and after some time off, excited to finally get back behind the mic with our team. Let’s start with Sheila Melody, the co-owner and general manager of the Burbank location. Sheila, nice to see you again.
Sheila: Hey Tim, great to be back with everybody again!
Tim: It’s been a while, and the rest of our team as always, still joining us via Skype from the Manhattan location in New York City headquarters for the InForm fitness empire. General manager Mike Rogers and the founder of InForm Fitness, Adam Zickerman. What’s up gents, good to see you again!
Adam: Hey guys.
Mike: All is good.
Tim: Adam, in your book Power of Ten: The Once a Week Slow Motion Fitness Revolution, you described the three pillars necessary to achieve maximum success with the slow motion, high-intensity strength training system. For those who are just joining us for the first time, Adam please remind us of those three pillars.
Adam: Exercise, rest, and nutrition.
Tim: And nutrition. We spent a lot of time on this podcast discussing pillar one, exercise, and our special guest today also joining us via Skype, will allow us to dive deeper into pillar number two, which as you just mentioned Adam, is nutrition. We’re pleased to welcome our guest who has a PhD in biochemistry and is the author of The Secret Life of Fat, Dr. Sylvia Tara. Glad to have you with us today.
Sylvia: Great, thank you. It’s terrific to be here.
Tim: All four of us have spent the last couple of weeks digesting this book. I think Adam and Mike read the book, and Sheila, we listened to the book via Audible. It really helped us all change the way we look at fat, which I know is the point of the whole thing, but before we get started, Adam, I know you were the one who introduced this topic to the team here. What is it Adam that made you want to bring Sylvia on, to discuss The Secret Life of Fat?
Adam: Well it was back in 2007 that I read this Scientific American article, that was called, if I remember correctly, What Fuels Fat, and it was then that I saw that Scientific American article that I realized how complicated fat is, and how complex it is. It was the first time that somebody had referred to fat as an organ, and then, recently, I’m listening to NPR and there’s Dr. Tara talking about this book, which I thought the title was amazing. The Secret Life of Fat, and it reminded me of back in 2007, ten years ago, about this article I had read in Scientific American, and I was like oh my god. I had forgotten all about that, I’ve got to get this book and read it. You did such a great job, Dr. Tara, as far as breaking down such a complex subject and making us understand, quite honestly, how difficult it is to understand fat and we’re in the personal training business, high-intensity exercise business, and all of our clients, most of them, are struggling with fat loss. I thought maybe we can use your book to prompt conversation and be honest with our clients and basically tell them what the facts are. What to expect when it comes to battling the bulge.
Mike: What they’re up against.
Sylvia: That’s a great idea, and that’s also why I decided to go and do all this research, because I’m one of those people who has a lot of trouble managing weight. I always gain weight very easily, even as a child, I packed on pounds much easier than my friends who ate candy and ice cream all day long, and as I got older, it just got worse. Some of my old tricks stopped working, I had all these tricks in my twenties where I could take weight off pretty quickly if I had to, but then after having two kids, after launching a career and getting very busy, being stretched and traveling, my old tricks weren’t working anymore. I went on a number of diets, there’s always this new diet, and I tried a number of them every year, and sometimes they would work, they would work temporarily. Sometimes I could even gain weight on some of these diets, and I’d worked with personal trainers too, and they’re all really — just [Inaudible: 00:03:59] their
dogma, they have a certain philosophy they follow and one of them is you have to eat enough calories to lose weight. They were always stunned at how little I actually had to eat, and even then, I wasn’t skinny, so I was about to go on yet another diet; I think paleo was all the rage and I said let me try this, and I started reading about just how complicated it was and I thought you know what, forget it. I said before I go on even one more diet, I’m going to understand everything there is to know about fat. I’m a biochemist by training, and if anyone can understand fat, I can. So I read everything, I think I pulled over a thousand articles out of the scientific literature, I read them all, and I talked to over fifty thought leaders, leading researchers around the world about this, their cutting edge research on fat. What I was finding out, which was so interesting, so astounding; it turned out that fat wasn’t anything I thought it was, it’s not just a reserve of calories, it’s not just holding energy, waiting for us to use it. It has a whole life of its own underneath there. It can fight back when we try to lose it, it controls our thoughts about food, it controls metabolism. It can divert blood supply to itself, it’s doing all these really strange things. It’s as if it’s another person inside of you, and if you’re not equipped, if you don’t understand what fat really is, you’re just about bound to keep going on diets and regaining and regaining. The diet industry tends to make you think you’re doing something wrong. If this diet doesn’t work for you, it’s really simple to follow, and then it’s your fault; surely you’re not staying on it, surely you’re not adhering, and that’s not the case. Having people feel that guilt isn’t helping them, it’s causing frustration and then it’s leading to binging, it’s leading to
depressed feelings and things like that. So I think once we just educate ourselves on fat, what it is exactly, why it’s so hard to lose, the better equipped we are to stay very persistent. So knowledge is power, and in this case in particular, I think just having that knowledge helped me stay on something. It also helped me not just follow siren songs, like with the new diet fad of the year, let me try that. It’s like now I’ve got it, I know what works for me now, I can tailor my own diet. I really just felt empowered, and hopefully, some of that is what I’m trying to do with people. You don’t have to follow my diet that worked for me, and I did something pretty extreme in my own experience to get off weight, but you can tailor something to work for you, depending on what you need psychologically, biologically, and for your lifestyle as well.
Adam: That’s a great introduction, and so while we’re talking about your quest to find out exactly what fat is, why don’t you explain what exactly is fat, and why is it called an organ?
Sheila: Like I said, fat, the way we think of it is like this blubber. It’s like this excess, greasy yellow stuff, and it’s funny because I have this plastic model of fat, and when I show it to people, their first reaction is like ew, that’s disgusting. We just have this whole image of what it is, but it’s doing so much more tha n just sitting there as this greasy, yellow substance. It actually produces hormones that our body depends on, and these are hormones, mostly only produced by fat. So you can think of fat as not just a reserve of calories, it’s an endocrine organ, like your adrenal cortex, it’s like your thyroid gland, it’s like any other endocrine organ we have. One of these hormones is leptin, and leptin has vast influence all over our body, I mean you’d be shocked at how much we defend on our fat for this hormone. Our brain size is linked to healthy fat, our brain size and the way we think, cognitive abilities even, is linked to an adequate supply of leptin which comes from fat. Our reproductive organs, particularly in women; if we get too low levels of fat, or if we have defective fat that’s not producing leptin, we can’t reproduce. Then there’s bones, bone strength is reliant on fat as well. Even wound healing, this was really interesting, that leptin binds within our veins and so people that have anorexia or, again,
defective fat, they don’t heal as quickly. We’re just at the tip of this, I think leptin was really in the 90s when it came out, and we’re just discovering more and more how important it is in our body, and how much we’re dependent on our fat for good health. One of the things too, is that leptin, because it does control our mind to some extent and it controls appetite, when we lose a lot of fat, like say 10% of our body weight, it has a big effect on us. Actually, our appetite will go through the roof, so leptin is released from fat cells, it goes into the blood, and it binds to the
hypothalamus region of our brain, and there’s an appetite center there. So with lower levels of leptin after losing quite a bit of weight, we actually get very, very hungry, we’re driven to eat. So our fat in a way is controlling itself, it’s driving us to actually come back. It will also lower our metabolism, so skeletal muscle during exercise, 25% fewer calories is what we’ll end up using, and 15% fewer during rest. So overall, you need 22% fewer calories after you’ve lost about 10% of your weight or more, compared to someone who has never lost weight. So to make that a little clearer for people, if someone is 150 pounds and they’ve been at that weight naturally for a good part of life, compared to someone who has lost 20 pounds, who was 170 pounds and lost 20 pounds to get to 150 pounds; the person who has lost weight to get to 150 will have 22% fewer calories than someone who is naturally there, and that’s because of the effect of lowering leptin, and the reduction in metabolism we get. So a diet is not just for six months, this effect I just talked about, higher appetite and lower metabolism, it’s been studied for six years, it’s seemed to last for six years. I think it can even last longer, I’ve talked to some people who have lost weight and they say they still feel like this, they still have to eat a lot less. So don’t pick a diet for six months, pick a diet that you’re going to stay on for years and years, that you like. It works with you, works with your lifestyle, works with what you like to eat, and in having its effect, it’s
helping you lose weight. Just knowing that I think has helped people a lot. I know my editor, when he read my manuscript for the book, he actually lost 15 pounds because he actually understood fat. He knew what was going on, he understood why he was hungry at night and all these other things, biochemically what fat was doing, and it’s just helped us all persist a little bit more.
Tim: Dr. Tara, for our audience, of course, they’re listening to the InForm Fitness Podcast because they participate with this high intensity, strength training system through Power of Ten. Let’s talk about exercise for a minute, and tell us how fat is affected with high-intensity strength training, like we do at InForm Fitness.
Sylvia: There’s a bunch of things, so what we can do really to get smarter about fat and how we manage it, is it’s one thing to not just manage it and be able to persist for long periods of time because we now understand fat, but you can start using hormones to your advantage. One of the hormones that’s been talked about all the time is insulin, lots of books on insulin and fat, and making sure we have low sugar. We’re not provoking too much insulin because insulin helps store calories into fat tissue, and that’s all good and fine. Two other hormones to know about, one is growth hormone, that’s a great fat burning hormone, and we get less of it, we have less of it as we age, and so one thing is that it peaks at night. So what you can do is extend that overnight fasting part, and that will actually extend the release of growth hormone, really important as we age. Testosterone is another great fat burning hormone, and that also decreases as we age. Now high intensity interval training is good for a number of things: one is that is associated, exercise in general is associated with the release of growth hormone and testosterone, so some strength building exercise is good for growth hormone and testosterone, and even jogging is good for both hormones. Then [Inaudible: 00:11:32] is another hormone fat releases, and this is a hormone made by fat, and it actually helps clear our blood of triglycerides and put fat, circulating fat into fat tissue where it belongs. High-intensity interval training three times a week is associated with some of these hormones as well, and it decreases visceral fat, and so how I think of it is that you’re really affecting your hormones when you do HIIT. You’re increasing some of these fat-busting hormones, you’re helping get adiponectin, and you’re reducing your visceral fat. I think it’s one of the reasons that works very well, because when you think about it, you’re not exercising for long, you’re doing it for a short period of time but extremely intensely, and that’s affecting your hormones and how your body is reacting to it. It’s a great trick, I think, to just help remove stubborn fat.
Sheila: I was so inspired by your book Dr. Tara because I totally related to your personal story, and I’m middle-aged, and I’m suddenly going what in the hell is going on here? So it was really nice, even being in the fitness business, being a personal trainer, being involved in all of this for my entire life basically, so I was very encouraged by your story, to make some changes and to understand why you want to add certain exercises in. The diet thing is one thing, but for me, what was a real a-ha moment was when you described why you would exercise. The hormones are listening, your fat is listening to you, so can you talk a little bit more about how your fat listens to you, and the messages you send to it. It’s way more important than just the calories you’re going to burn by doing that cardio or whatever exercise you’re doing.
Sylvia: That’s exactly right. So your fat can talk and it can listen, so it’ll talk by sending out hormones. It can talk to your brain and tell you how to think about food, and it can talk to your muscles and have it lower metabolism, so it’s a way of communicating, and a lot of different organs in our body will emit hormones, and it has a whole communication system inside that you’ve never even considered and thought about. So it can talk by releasing leptin, adiponectin, and even other hormones. It can also listen, our fat, it can listen to other hormones coming from other organs. It has receptors for estrogen and testosterone on them, a number of other receptors too, so when other parts of our body starts releasing those hormones, our fat grabs it, it listens to it. It has ears if you will, and those hormones will tell fat what to do. So testosterone will help fat liquidate itself, even estrogen will, growth hormone certainly will. So when we’re exercising, we’re changing the communication signals in our body in a number of ways. Not only is our fat listening, but our muscles, our bones, we have a lot of different communications between these different organs, and so I think that’s the smart way to fight fat. Calories do matter, I wouldn’t say they don’t, but more importantly is what are you doing with your hormone levels, and very small changes can actually have a pretty good effect. That’s shown, I do a little writing about hormone replacement therapy which is really big here, especially in California, and it works wonders for people. I’m not ready for that yet, I wasn’t ready to get external hormones injected in, but I did really work hard at ways to naturally increase some of these hormones that decline with age, including growth hormone and testosterone in particular, and adiponectin, just releasing that from fat. You did bring up women, and women in particular, we battle fat much more. I don’t think there’s a single woman in the world who wouldn’t agree that men have an easier time losing weight than women do.
Sheila: That’s the other thing I got from this book, I was like oh my god, it’s true! It’s just the hard truth though, it’s the way it is, and understanding that helps us to — what about even the way that we eat and the nutrition partitioning? Also if you could speak a little bit about the cardio, when you said women exercise and when it goes over beyond 4-600 calories, how it’s different between men and women.
Sylvia: Sure. Just to make everyone feel better, women are fatter, we think even in utero, compared to — from the time they exist, girl babies have more fat than boy babies, and the single best predictor is gender when it comes to fat in infants. It’s not age, it’s not length, not any of those things, it’s gender, so many reasons for why women do gain more weight than men, but we can go over a few of them. One of them is nutrient partitioning, so when we eat something, say like a hundred calories or so, we’ll actually partition more of those nutrients into fat,
compared to what men will do. So as an example, if we eat about a hundred calories, we’ll put about thirty calories say, for example, compared to men who might put 15 calories of those into their fat, compared to their lean tissue. So we put more in, and women actually utilize their fat differently as well. So after a time of energy depletion, like after an overnight fast, after we’ve slept for a long time, or after we’ve exercised intensely and we’ve depleted some energy, women’s bodies will reach for fat as a source of energy, whereas men will reach more for
glycogen and for protein. You would think this was a great thing because we’re using our fat and we’re going to lose all this weight now. The issue is that after we’ve replenished and after we went to energy depletion, we’re actually storing fat much more efficiently than the men, two to three times more efficiently than men do. So for the one hour we’re exercising or whatever, yeah, we’re burning more fat off, but the rest of the day, we’re packing more fat away. There’s some good news for women in all of this, that even though we tend to be a little bit softer, a little bit fatter than men, the good part is that we are clearing those triglycerides out of our blood and putting it into some subcutaneous fat tissue where it belongs. So subcutaneous fat tissue is that fat tissue right underneath our skin, compared to visceral fat, which is fat underneath the stomach wall, which is less healthy. Women are very good at clearing triglycerides, fats, out of our blood and putting it into subcutaneous fat, and that keeps us more safe from cardiovascular disease, from metabolic issues, that tend to run a little bit higher in men. Men actually are not as efficient at this, and it’s one of the reasons why they have more visceral fat, and more cardiac disease as well. So just take some solace in that, although we’re softer, we don’t fit into jeans as well, we can’t eat as much, overall our bodies are doing what they’re supposed to do, which is putting fat into our blood and storing it into safe deposits where it belongs. So when we burn off, say, around six hundred calories, so a really good bout of exercise, we release more ghrelin, 33% more ghrelin than men do, and ghrelin is a hunger hormone that comes out of the stomach. So we respond more to exercise, and then it also leads to more compensation. If you put a buffet out in front of us after we’ve done that exercise, we’ll eat more than men do, and the interesting part is even after we eat more, we still have 25% higher ghrelin, and so that’s a lesson learned for women I think. Either keep the exercise a little bit more moderate, or really distract yourself after you exercise. Go watch TV or go shopping, in fact go shopping for jeans and you’ll see how much you don’t want to eat. Just do something, be aware that you’re hungrier and you have to really control the reaction to want to fill yourself up.
Sheila: Does it pass after a certain amount of time?
Sylvia: I haven’t seen research on it but I can tell you my experience, no, it’ll be all day. My own little trick is I exercise at night, so I’ll exercise between 7, even up to 10 o’clock, and I’ll just go to bed. If I sleep on it, it’ll disappear, I’m not as hungry the next day as I am during the day.
Adam: Dr. Tara, to change the subject a little bit, because there’s so much in your book that you touch on, and one of the most fascinating things about fat and how we retain fat is this biome in our stomachs. It turns out, as you say, people have different biomes in their stomach, and depending upon their bacterial content if you will, the types of bacteria that make up their biome, that will depend on whether you’re obese or not, or whether you’re thin or not.
Sylvia: That’s a really interesting field, and a quickly changing field, I feel like they’re learning new things all the time. The thinking, the standard thinking was that if you have a higher proportion of [Inaudible: 00:19:59] in your gut compared to [Inaudible: 00:20:02], that those people tended to extract more calories out of food, they tended to be heavier, and it’s a cycle. So what we eat also affects the bacteria that we have, so people who are eating higher fats, higher carbohydrates, they were having the type of phyla associated more with extracting calories and having a heavier body type. People who were eating more fruits and vegetables had a different phyla, they had more diversity, and so I think what they’re seeing now, there’s a little bit of movement away from that type of thinking of [Inaudible: 00:20:33] and more thinking about diversity in our gut. People who have higher diversities of bacteria tend to have a leaner body type, and it’s all really interesting because another observation was that the bacteria we have in our gut, it tends to run in families. So they’re wondering if this is how obesity is growing,
because once somebody has someone’s bacteria that is associated with a thicker body type, is it spreading to children, is it having something to do with childhood obesity? This is moving, so there are things we can do though. One is what I just said, when you eat more fruits and vegetables, it’s tougher to digest those. So one way bacteria works is that it helps us digest foods that our normal body could not, things like polysaccharides and fibrous foods, plants. It helps turn all those starches into glucose, something we can easily absorb. It also helps with fat storage as well, so the more we’re giving our microbiome a run for the money, really nice tough salads and things like that, more is passing into waste than would be getting absorbed into our gut. Also just keeping your gut healthy, I think some of these probiotics and like artichokes, bananas, legumes, also keep a nice gut lining, a healthy mucous lining, that also fosters a good diversity of bacteria. So there’s a lot of diet books on this in no field alone, but it is a quickly changing field scientifically. I think the best advice we can take from it right now is just try to eat more fruits and vegetables; it’s very trite advice, I’m aware of that, but part of it is that I just wanted to understand how the microbiome was working. It’s viruses too that do have an effect, and I write about being able to catch fat in a way. There’s some viruses associated with higher weight gain and obesity, and I write about that pretty much at length in the book, but I think it’s not all bad news. We just have to work harder, so if you have a microbiome that’s tilted towards gaining weight, you will have to work harder, you'll have to eat a little less, you’ll have to eat more
salads versus more fats and high carbohydrates. If you have the virus, I mean that’s tough too, and I write about one patient who did have the virus and he gained weight excessively easily. He just has to eat less, it’s harder for him, he’ll eat about 1200 calories a day and he’s 6’1”, he’s a big guy. It’s just the way it is, and I think part of what I want to do in my book is let’s just face facts. Let’s not pretend this is easy, let’s not say it’s the simple diet of 1, 2, 3, and you’ll lose weight. For some of us it’s just harder, and at least know why it is harder, and then there are some small tweaks you can make that will help you fight your fat in a smarter way.
Tim: Dr. Terra, I’ve got to tell you one of the many things I enjoyed about your book is how you not only provided all of us with a very detailed science lesson regarding fat, but how you describe both the harm fat can cause, and its usefulness in the form of the patient stories, one of which you just referred to right now. So it’s a great read, it’s very informative, I think it’s changed the four of our lives in how we look at fat and it’ll do the same thing for our audience as well too. I know we’re short on time but I do want to, if we can, add one more element to this. You mentioned genetics. We’re all victims of our genetics, but exercise can help us fight what we’ve inherited negatively through our genetics.
Sylvia: That’s right. So for genetics, what they do find is that exercise can attenuate some of the effect of these genetics, so if you increase exercise by six times or more over resting metabolism, which is achieved by running four to six miles an hour, or cycling about twelve to sixteen miles per hour, it actually attenuates some of the effects of those genes. It’s like even at some point your genes have to just give up and give in, and admit that you’re using a lot of energy and it can’t hold on anymore. Again, it’s one of these instances where we just have to work a little bit harder, there’s one gene, FTO, that actually causes a higher desire to eat energy dense foods, so things like cookies and brownies, and with kids who have this variation, when we test them, they’ll actually go to a buffet and compare them to normal kids who don’t have this FTO
variation, they found that kids with the FTO variation, they actually will load up much more on things like chips and cookies, compared to the other kids. It affects appetite as well, so it still gets down to the things that we can do, and that includes food, it includes eating smart, eating for your hormones, exercising for your hormones. Just being a little smarter about it, don’t quite think of it as calorie in, calorie out. There’s certain times of the day that you can eat or not eat and it’ll help you release more of that growth hormone, more of those fat busting hormones.
Certain types of things that you can eat that will affect your hormones, and I’m not just talking about insulin, but growth hormone and testosterone too. So think very holistically about it. There are some treatments coming out in the future that I’m hopeful will help people lose weight. One of them is leptin injections, if that will ever get approved. So like I said, we lose leptin when we lose fat, and what they’ve done is actually inject leptin back into people who have lost 10% of their fat or more, and they find that their metabolism improves, and their quest to eat is not as strong anymore. So it helps them maintain the lower weight, but that’s way off in the future I’m sorry to say; that’s going to be another ten years, minimum, before that would ever reach consumers. There’s other things too, there’s injecting brown fat, brown fat is a type of fat which will actually burn calories versus white fat, which the main function is to store, and that will is also far into the future. In the meantime what we can do is just be smart, customize a diet that works for you. Really keep a log of what you eat, when, what type of food it is, and then weigh yourself every day, and you’ll start to see where the correlation is. Everybody is really different, and in The Secret Life of Fat, I write about this research from Israel actually, where they’ve studied a large number of people and they look at their blood sugar after they eat various foods. What they noticed is that some people can eat chocolate and they can have alcohol and they don’t get a blood sugar spike; other people can’t, they react, and so they’re storing more fat as well because the blood sugar spike leads to insulin, that will help store all of that into fat. So we’re all really different, and it varies based on a lot of things that we talked about, like the genetics, microbiome, gender, etc. So some things will work for you that don’t work for your neighbor and vice versa, so just be very attentive. Watch what you can eat versus can’t, I know there’s some things I can’t believe I can get away with, everyone will tell me I’m crazy for eating this but it doesn’t make me gain weight. I can have small amounts of chocolate in the middle of the day, nothing bad happens to me, thank god because I really can’t live without it.
Tim: You just made a lot of people mad, Dr. Tara.
Mike: And happy. They’ll have to troubleshoot for themselves. I have one last quick question, Sylvia. We talked about nutrition, we talked about fitness and the troubleshooting processes with regulation of your fat, to either gain or to lose. I know you mentioned in your book a little bit about cortisol and stress management, and what we know about as far as weight gain or weight loss. I know we have a lot of clients who are under stressful times in their life, and I’m not sure if the correlation is directly related to that or other things or whatever, but I’ve seen people gain a lot of weight or lose a lot of weight as a result of stress.
Sylvia: I know there’s news about cortisol, I actually think too much might be made out of cortisol. Cortisol has a link to abdominal fat, so when we’re stressed out, we have more cortisol which is linked to some amounts of fat. I think more the issue is how we psychologically react to stress. So being on a diet, maintaining a good, healthy regimen, it actually takes an application of willpower, and when people have stress in their lives, like even during the recession or a bad economic time, or they lose a job or are going through a divorce, they are less able to stay with something else that requires stress. It’s like all the stress is being focused on this one event, and they can’t absorb more. So in a way, our willpower is like a muscle and it can be depleted. In fact, in the recession that we had more recently around 2008, candy sales soared. So people didn’t feel like being on a diet, they just want to indulge, they’re stressed out, so I think psychological factors are more of it than even cortisol. Those are things that are important to note because we never get rid of stress in our lives, I mean I get stressed out just sitting in traffic. There’s stress all around us, so one thing is if you’re going through a really stressful time, it’s not a great time to start a diet honestly. You’ll just feel like a failure if you do try because it gets hard. So choose a diet at the right time and then manage to stay on it. Two important things to know when you’re staying on a diet and really giving a good effort is that you actually need to reward yourself. Our willpower gets depleted at times, and they find that hospital workers who are told to wash their hands all day, towards the end of the day, they’ll just stop. They just don’t feel like doing it, but if they give them longer breaks between their shifts, they’ll continue to wash their hands during the day. So there’s something around being depleted, feeling like you’ve had enough of a break in between that you can stay on a regimen. So give yourself a break either by going off your diet every once in a while, or going off and doing something fun, but make sure that you’re entering in some happiness. Another study I talk about is people who have a hand exerciser for a long time, a hand gripper, and they divide them into two: they have one watch a sad movie for a while and then another group watch a happy movie, and then they give them the hand exerciser back, the hand gripper back. They find the people who watched the happy movie can stick with that hand gripper a long time, so scientifically, you actually need to recharge, you need to come off and have some fun. The important thing is to get right back on, and this is where dichotomous thinking can come on. So people sometimes when they go off a diet, they go down this slippery slope where they can’t get back on. Like I’ve had ice cream, I’ve completely failed, and now I’m just going to go off, it doesn’t matter. That’s called dichotomous thinking, and people who have that problem are actually more prone to depression, they’re more prone to eating disorders, so it’s a really bad thing to have, and women have it much more than men do. I’ve read about that in studies —
Adam: Add that to the list.
Sylvia: So the self love element is really important, and it’s funny, I write it about in the book. There’s one researcher from Mayo who said that women get something out of food that men don’t; when men come off their diet, they’re like yeah I had a beer, so what? I’m going to get back on and women are going to be like I had all these problems and I gave up, and I feel really badly now. The successful weight coaches or weight loss coaches, they’re very good at coaching people back on. So if you can do that for yourself, you’ll have so much more success than if you just beat yourself up every time you come off. You’re going to have come off, you can’t stay on, you need to recharge yourself, and then be forgiving. You came off, but you had 30 great days ahead of that, so now you’re just going to have another 30 great days going forward. So tons of advice in the book, and as you can see from all my talking, there’s a lot of research in it, a lot of points to know.
Tim: The book is The Secret Life of Fat, it brings together cutting edge research with historical perspectives to reveal fat’s true identity, and this episode, like you just said, we’ve just scratched the surface of all of the valuable information contained in this book, which is available Walmart, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Audible, and other locations as well. Dr. Sylvia Tara, thanks so much for joining us here at the InForm Fitness Podcast. We certainly wish you the best of luck with your book, and really appreciate you being with us, thank you.
Sylvia: Great, thank you so much. It was great to be here.
Tim: We’ll include links in the show notes to Dr. Sylvia Tara’s book, The Secret Life of Fat. Just scroll down past the description in your podcast app, and you’ll find links to purchase the hard copy of her book in Amazon, or if you’re like me and you like to listen to your books, we’ll have a link to the book in Audible. You’ll also find the link to pick up Adam’s book, Power of Ten: The Once a Week, Slow Motion Fitness Revolution. Included in Adam’s book are several exercises that support this protocol that you can actually perform on your own if you don’t
happen to live near an InForm Fitness location. For those that do live in Manhattan, Port Washington, Denville, Burbank, Boulder, Leesburg, and Reston, good news, there’s an InForm Fitness to you. Pop on over to informfitness.com to get a glimpse of each location. Better yet, set up a consultation to begin your own journey with the Power of Ten. Be sure to join us next week, because Adam has a confession he would like to make to all of us who are a part of InForm Nation. I’ll tell you this much, it’s something that he’s been struggling with most of his life, and something that a lot of us might have in common with him. To guarantee that you don’t
accidentally miss an upcoming episode of the InForm Fitness Podcast, just subscribe, it’s very simple. Hit the subscribe button and every single Monday morning, we’ll have a new episode waiting for you. For Sheila Melody, Mike Rogers, and Adam Zickerman of InForm Fitness, I’m Tim Edwards, with the InBound Podcasting network.