So how are you doing out there? Pretty rough, right?
You feeling a little stressed? I know I am.
But it’s important to know, especially during times like these, that at our best we can use this stress and put it to good use instead of letting it completely destroy us.
And a long-range of studies, unfortunately, have shown that chronic stress caused by things like social isolation, long-term unemployment, untreated depression and more can actually shorten your DNA telomeres, which in turn can speed up the aging process and then just wreak havoc on your health in a myriad of ways.
So how can we be proactive and slow or reverse the signs of aging?
Well, to help us out, I figure we might as well invite one of our friends and a modern-day superhero on the show, Mr. Brad Kearns.
Brad is a New York Times bestselling author, host of the Get Over Yourself podcast, and a top-ranked professional triathlete, who, get this, broke a Guinness World Record in speed golf.
And on today’s show we’re discussing:
- How to support male hormone function as we age
- The benefits of micro workouts, I’m a big fan
- What the latest longevity research is telling us
- Why we should be eating nose to tail, especially you carnivores and keto folks out there
- And tons more…
Let’s go hang out with Brad.
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Brad Kearns: Longevity & Fitness at Fifty
Abel James: Alright folks, we are here with Brad Kearns, a New York Times best selling author, host of the Get Over Yourself Podcast and a top ranked professional triathlete who broke a Guinness world record in speed golf.
So, if this conversation ever gets boring I’m going to be talking about speed golf.
Brad, welcome to the show man.
Oh my gosh Abel, I can’t believe this day has come—the long-time listener/viewer and now I’m on the show.
It’s like a dream come true and we’re so fresh and warmed up here, because I just had you on my show.
So, we are cranking today, man, we’re on fire.
Abel: I’m loving it, it’s been too long.
I really wish that we all lived closer so we could get together every couple of weekends and just have a big pow wow and barbecue and whatever.
But let’s start right there with barbecuing.
Carnivore is a big word these days, a lot of people are kind of experimenting with it or may be hearing it for the first time in this context.
I know that you’ve been dabbling for a while. Let’s talk about it.
Yeah, it’s very interesting to me.
The message is extremely compelling and the leaders, guys like Dr. Paul Saladino and Dr. Shawn Baker present a very thoughtful and scientifically researched argument that seems so crazy and wacky on the surface.
To me one of the best things about this experience of dabbling in it and learning more about it, writing a cookbook, a crazy cookbook called Carnivore Cooking for Cool Dudes with great recipes.
But for me it’s been this exercise in critical thinking and open-mindedness and challenging fixed and rigid beliefs, which by and large are not a great way to go through life.
And we’re so into this fitness and health scene and the ancestral living scene that we actually have formed, fixed and rigid beliefs, thinking that we’re the progressive leaders and the free thinkers and all that great stuff.
But this has knocked me on my heels a little bit, because I take these things to be true.
I mean, you have The Wild Diet and eating your vegetables, and almost no one can criticize this approach of Abel James saying to eat natural wholesome foods that come from the wild.
But then here’s someone saying, “Well, wait a second. These plant toxins could be harmful to certain people.”
And we’ve already seen that people have experienced a health transformation who are unwell, who are suffering from autoimmune or inflammatory conditions by going on a restrictive diet.
So, you can’t criticize people having health transformation and have a miracle healing.
I want to say that I’m not one of these people who is suffering from nagging frustrating illnesses that can’t be cured by medicine. So, I’m not in that category of desperation where I should be really thinking about trying anything besides taking more medicines.
I’m just trying to optimize my health, pursue athletic peak performance goals and again, as someone who’s sharing the message, I want to have that open mind and that testing and experimenting where I can make a measured opinion about something because I’ve really tried it.
Nose to Tail: How Carnivore is Different Than Low-Carb
Abel: Yeah, and it gets tricky though, because I remember when I was learning how to drive, I had the same driver’s ed instructor as my mom.
He taught everyone in my tiny little town, and he was on Atkins back then.
And so he would have me drive him to McDonald’s and get a custom order that they would make special for him, because he taught them how to drive, too. And he would get multiple hamburger patties with cheese over the top, no bun. And that was his health plan.
He lost a bunch of weight doing that and the whole school was just like, “What?”
And I bring up that story because there is a portion of people, I think, who are going into carnivore, keto, paleo, whatever, and that’s as much thinking is ever going into it for them, you know what I mean?
Like, we see a lot of people who were just kind of like, “Oh, you just eat meat all the time? Alright.”
So, what’s the difference between that and what you’re talking about?
Well, when you’re talking about this nose-to-tail carnivore approach, I think that seems to make the most sense, because you’re getting a lot of variation and nutritional density.
And one thing that’s particularly interesting to me is pursuing these superfoods, the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.
And apparently liver is right up there on the ranking system along with oily cold-water fish, these things that are found in the animal kingdom.
It’s virtually indisputable that the nutritional density of 8 ounces of liver is going to blow away anything from the plant kingdom, or any other food.
And so, same with a can of sardines, you’re getting a massive nutritional density, high satiety, all these things that promote health.
Also, I think one of the big things, of course, in the diet world is reducing excess body fat. That’s what almost everyone has on the top of their list.
And so, a restrictive diet is going to help you drop excess body fat just by definition, because you’re restricting certain foods.
Now when those foods that you’re going for, and let’s say you’re doing a carnivore experiment for 30 days, which is a great idea for anyone who’s suffering. But beyond that, anyone who wants to drop excess body fat, it’s going to really work effectively, because the foods are so satiating.
It’s not a crazy starvation diet. You’re eating these big meals and you’re watching body fat go away—it seems like it has some validity just on those two counts.
And the people who are concerned about blood work going wrong or having long-term heart disease risk factors, these are in many ways stories that are 30 years dated to what science is really revealing.
And we know that populations have survived for long periods of time on ancestral style diet, which is at times extremely heavy on animal foods and devoid of plant foods.
We also know that you can succeed the other way around where you’re having a wild plant-based diet and thrive and succeed for a long period of time, provided there’s a little bit of variation, and you’re not getting nutritional deficiencies by restricting some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.
Maybe it’s morality or whatever you want to do, that’s going to be a lot of hard work to kind of climb out of those holes when we’re trying to align with what our ancestors ate.
Abel: One of the things I’ve unfortunately seen in the past few years is it seems like as all these different words come up and kind of fly around—paleo, keto, carnivore—how do you keep it all straight?
People may not be keeping their eye on the nose to tail, seeing the animal foods for the nutrients within them, as well, knowing which ones you need in which quantities and how often. There is a little bit of a learning curve.
The way I see it is something like you see vegan is almost more popular than ever, vegetarian more popular than ever, at the same time as carnivore. Elimination diets, like Whole 30, are more popular than ever, right?
They have that in common, but if you’re going to do an elimination diet, it makes sense to me anyway, you’ve got to read up a little bit, you have to pay attention to your body.
And I would think you would also want to be doing some level of self-quantification, if you can, to see how it’s treating you. Because there is no perfect food.
Also, anyone in a primal and ancestral health community should be familiar with the fact that yeah, plants hurt us, wheat is a plant.
Like GMO Franken plants are plants and they have lots of things that are harmful. There are plants, in general that can help us and others have lots of things that can hurt us.
But we need to treat it like medicine. And that requires a bit of education at the beginning.
So maybe you can just talk to that a little bit.
Plants as Medicine
Yeah, that’s well said.
When I was opening my mind to some of these concepts that perhaps I didn’t know everything there was to know after writing about and living in the primal ancestral scene for a decade.
And one of the things that popped up was I would be making this huge super nutritious green smoothie many mornings where I’d throw in a ton of raw produce, and then all my powders and potions and collagen and protein and magnesium, and MCT oil, and there was all this great stuff in there.
I experienced bloating and digestive pain reliably every time in the hours afterward, because I’d just eaten many, many ounces of raw produce, kale and the celery and things that are extremely difficult to digest in the raw form, even though that’s when they’re in the most nutrient-dense form.
And I was talking to my other health enthusiast friend about this, and he said, “Oh, of course you get a bloated stomach after drinking a smoothie, but it’s worth it for all that nutrition in there.”
I’m like, “Wait, something’s wrong here.”
If you’re experiencing transient abdominal pain and bloating and gas in the aftermath of consuming what you perceive to be a healthy meal.
And so, I think that reasonability, and like you said, tracking and seeing how you feel.
I’m not a big self-quantifier.
My athletic career pre-dated all the technology, so the number of watts that I pushed on my bike or anything like that was completely over my head.
And when I got deep into the keto thing, Mark and I have been writing these books and doing immersive research and living what we’re talking about. So, I was pricking my finger every single day and marking my blood values and tracking my glucose with meals.
And after a certain point, I personally get kind of burnt out on it because I have more important things to do with my life.
So at a certain point you’ve got to leave that stuff maybe in the background a little bit and just assess how you feel, and the psychological value of your meals or dietary pattern that you’re following.
And possibly a super strict exclusive diet is maybe something that you do as a bucket list experience, and it’s not going to be the rest of your life that you’re sitting there at a gathering and turning down the homemade cheesecake.
I know you like cheesecake man, I saw that on the last sentence of your bio.
Abel: Oh, so good. So good.
If you’re that person who’s going to be that way the rest of your life, you might possibly be missing out on fun and enjoyment and all that.
I’m a very disciplined guy. I want to do the right thing with my health. I don’t eat crappy food, I never will again.
I want to do the right thing with my health. I don’t eat crappy food, I never will again. @bradleykearns Click To Tweet
But in terms of my regimentation of how I’m eating, I’m so far from that and so over it.
But now I’m just trying to adhere to these wonderful principles like perhaps fasting is the best baseline as a dietary strategy.
And then Mark Sisson coined this new term just a couple of weeks ago when we were recording.
He says, “I’m going to call it intermittent eating instead of intermittent fasting.”
Abel: There you go.
That’s a pretty good mind blower right there.
Abel: Yeah, yeah, it is.
Well also metabolic flexibility when you look into that a little bit, it’s like, the ability to not eat sometimes, to eat this sometimes, to eat that sometimes.
That’s something we should all be able to do.
But like I was saying earlier today on your show, the hunger that you feel when you really fast for the first time, especially at first longer-term fasting, two or three days, something like that, it’s a novel experience that most people have not really gotten used to yet.
And you need to learn your way around it, but once you do, I mean, I’ve heard you talk about downing ice cream sometimes and that’s delicious. It’s wonderful to be able to do that.
I remember with Chris Kresser and Bill and Hayley Staley way back at the Paleo f(x) days when that was first getting started, we all went and got ice cream together at a paleo conference.
It was grass-fed, it was real stuff from healthy cows, and it was awesome.
Because part of this, too, I think that I don’t want people to get too caught up in is the whole identity politics part of health where it’s like, “I am a carnivore, I’m a vegan.”
It’s like, “Okay, so you can never have the littlest bit of honey ever? Manuka honey? Even to help you heal a wound, you can’t use it as medicine?”
And the carnivore person is like, “Alright, you’re never ever going to have coffee again?”
It’s like, “No, we don’t need to define it as that, we don’t need to call ourselves these things even.”
I think it’s more important to identify, maybe at a more meta-level just as someone who is a health enthusiast. That’s a terrible lame way of explaining it, but we need a better… maybe Mark Sisson can coin a name.
Like, how do we make someone who is into health cool without saying, “I’m a carnivore vs I’m a vegan,” without making it this antagonistic thing where we’re pitted against each other and competing against each other as health nuts?
No, we should be trying to work out recipes together and challenge the science.
I guess what I’m trying to say is we should try to make it a productive conversation instead of one that’s just going straight into the toilet.
That’s well said. I think the best starting point is to find that common ground, like you emphasize so often.
And another thing that has really touched me; two people I really respect in the movement, Dr. Peter Teo, one of the most extreme and deeply researched self-quantifying guys.
Abel: Talk about a tracker.
Yeah, Dr. Cate Shanahan, too. I’m going to put them both in this category because they said the same thing to me.
And they’re more or less saying that if you just get rid of the nasty, toxic, processed modern food, you’re so far down the road that the rest of it, like you just described—the wars between this faction and that faction—that might just be fun and games for our amusement, really.
And Peter, he was on my very first show on the Get Over Yourself podcast, and one of the first things he said on my first show, he said, “Just eat stuff that your great-grandmother would have eaten.”
Just eat stuff that your great-grandmother would have eaten. @bradleykearns Click To Tweet
And if you can just do that, you have reached 80% of the low-hanging fruit when it comes to health and longevity.
Now, you want to come and talk about the other 20%?
Tune up your podcast playlist and get deep into all the content that you put out, and all the experts that we’ve talked about that their life’s work is researching in the laboratory and coming up with all these great things.
But Dr. Cate, I consult with her personally for my own peak performance and looking at my blood work, and just helping to figure out what’s the very best thing to eat, and what the best patterns are.
And sometimes I’ve pushed it too hard and asked too many questions, and she says, “You know, maybe that’s not even related to your diet. Maybe you’re just tired because you’re an old guy trying to do these crazy workouts.”
It was a real eye-opener, because if you start to get too obsessed with this stuff and think that everything’s weighted on whatever diet you’re going to pick, you’re missing the stress factor of being too keyed up.
So, I like that variation, flexibility, metabolic flexibility, mental flexibility.
Mark and I put a section in our new book, Keto for Life. Paired with metabolic flexibility is mental flexibility and being able to go with the flow, not just with the food choices you’re presented with tonight, but also in daily life.
So I think we’ve got to expand the conversation and look at a bigger picture than just nitpicking our macros.
And like the drivers ed guy going to McDonald’s, he’s going to lose weight; Atkins had the chemistry right decades ago.
But then as we kind of close the loop on this thread here that we’re rambling upon, if you’re going to try something like carnivore, you’re talking about nose-to-tail, you’re bringing in the nutrient density.
And you’re not kind of frivolously pursuing these dietary patterns that could be counter-productive if you’re not doing it the right way.
I think the worst example is Keto. It’s got so popular, everyone knows the word now.
The person sitting next to you on the flight knows what Keto is. @bradleykearns Click To Tweet
But all that entails is a certain macro-nutrient composition, and you know you can do that with a bunch of crappy foods and just hitting these numbers, but that’s not really the essence of what the movement’s all about.
The movement is all about burning clean fuel, and tapping into the liver’s magnificent ability to make these ketones so that your brain can think clearly, and all that great stuff.
That’s not about chowing down diet sodas and things like that.
Abel: Dirty Keto.
Right, dirty Keto.
Abel: And dirty vegan too, right? Have you seen Game Changers? That’s controversial these days.
People are begging me to see it.
I’ve put on the list along with Chris Kresser’s three-hour takedown on Joe Rogan podcast; slide by slide.
But the propaganda is pretty strong, and we have to be really sensitive to that, I think.
Impossible Burger: Impossibly Healthy?
Abel: It is strong, and one of the things, I’m going to just comment on the vegan thing for a second, because I did watch it, I finally caved.
I was just like, “I’m not going to watch more of this crap.”
I’ve watched too many vegan movies over the years, because you get all those questions.
They’re like, “What do you think about this one?”
And it’s like, “Okay, I’ll tell you what I think.”
Overall, the vegan stuff that’s coming out now is, like the industrial Wall Street vegan, you know what I mean?
It’s like, one of the biggest things they’re talking about in this movie is how they’re all plant-based. I don’t even know what that’s supposed to mean because I consider The Wild Diet, like, plant-based—it’s mostly plants by volume.
By calories, it could easily be mostly animal foods, but it could also be mostly plants.
It doesn’t really matter to me; it’s all about what works for you.
But in this particular documentary and in a few others, it makes no differentiation between eating raw organic kale, having a smoothie like you talked about, which is one way of kind of doing vegan, raw vegan.
Then there’s the Beyond Meat, Impossible Burger, GMO-packed concocted fake meats that these people are eating, and they’re just like, “Yeah, I’m vegetarian and my health is better than ever; I have such great energy.”
And they’re eating chicken tenders, they’re eating burgers and they’re eating all of this other fake bacon.
It’s like, none of this stuff resembles meat, none of this stuff resembles food. It’s all packed with chemicals and processed nonsense.
And that in and of itself shouldn’t be virtue signalling anything, I wouldn’t think. Like, supporting the machine is just falling into their hands.
So, I get really worked up when I see stuff like that where it’s like, “What do you think about this movie? Now they can make burgers that taste better than real meat, and it’s going to save the world.”
What’s your quick take on that, Brad?
Yeah, I get worked up, man, because what they’re preying upon are people that don’t have all day to dig into the research and formulate measured opinions, and maybe not even the wherewithal to do a dietary experiment because they’re too busy getting their kids their peanut butter and jelly and getting them out the door by 8 AM.
So, we have a very vulnerable population that’s well-meaning.
Most people really want to improve their health and eat right and drop the excess body fat and get their blood values down, and they’re getting manipulated by marketing and advertising forces.
I just read a great book called The Hacking of The American Mind by Dr. Robert Lustig. He’s the anti-sugar crusader that many of the listeners are familiar with.
But now he’s expanding the premise that the addictive properties of sugar and the people pushing sugar at us are also now extending out to social media, and the way that apps are created to draw more of your attention in, and the street drugs, the prescription drugs, the porn, the digital distractions are sucking at our brains.
And I think my number one concern about modern society is that we’re getting down this rabbit hole of things that deliver short-term instant gratification pleasures, but they have the addictive properties.
They flood the dopamine pathways in the brain.
And when you flood the dopamine pathways in your brain, you become incapable of lighting up the serotonin pathways which Dr. Lustig describes as happiness, contentment, long-term healthy balance lifestyle.
We’re passing those by with video games and the things that are really drawing us in.
And so food is right there on the top of the list and these manipulative forces that are trying to tell some story that’s not really based in science, but there’s a product behind it.
It’s like, “Watch out people. Watch out eating any nasty processed stuff, it’s not going to stack up to a sustainably raised animal.”
Abel: Well, and oftentimes it is based on science, but the science that’s meant to kill you and keep you addicted, you know what I mean?
There’s a lot of science in this food, but it’s not science for your health—it’s not.
Even the idea of genetically modified organisms shouldn’t be a bad one in a perfect world, but in this world? I don’t know if I’d trust these people with my DNA—the DNA and RNA and expression of all that in my children and their children and their children.
And you look at some of the generational stuff that can happen if you don’t get this nailed down, if you don’t build it into your tradition, if you don’t build the skills that you need in the kitchen—it’s going to be tough to survive.
Another thing I think that’s worth bringing up—because there have recently been supply chain disruptions—is looking at food security, as well, and how to manage your health throughout all of that.
And one thing I thought about doing, looking into carnivore, it’s just like, “That’s great if you’ve got a bunch of chest freezers that can keep a whole cow cold. But what happens if your power goes out, or what happens if you can’t get to the store if you’re snowed in?”
We get ice storms and we get real weather here. And I grew up in New Hampshire where we couldn’t leave for 10 days sometimes with the bad weather.
What are you going to eat and how are you going to make sure that your family is going to survive?
What’s your take on that? If everything goes sideways, what are you going to do to keep your health and make sure that you’re fed, as well?
Well, I love to have the centerpiece of our eating pattern be the ability to have that closed loop system, as Mark Sisson calls it, and go into an extended fast and turbo boost the ketone production.
In the event of a disaster, boy, those who are metabolically flexible are probably going to fair better for a longer period of time, but just in general everyday life.
I related that example of feeling bloated and painful after my smoothie, and now we can come to common ground and realize, I believe this is virtually undisputed.
I don’t know, you can get a guest next week that might counter this, but when the body is in a fasted state that’s when it’s at its most efficient function.
When the body is in a fasted state that’s when it’s at its most efficient function. @bradleykearns Click To Tweet
That’s when your immune function is absolute best—your cell repair, your autophagy, your apoptosis, all these things are at their peak.
You can’t top fasting with any superfood or juice concoction down the street, or pill box of different things.
If we can start there and agree that if you can spend time skipping meals, actually experiencing those sensations of hunger, working through that a little tiny bit to kick start fat burning if you want to drop excess body fat, then we can start talking about what meal choices are the best.
I think that’s a smooth way to attract someone who’s too busy to deal with all the nitty gritty of which diet should they choose.
It’s like, how about just eat less food and go through life a little more gracefully instead of being a pig, which most modern humans are.
Abel: But not eat less the way that I used to try to by eating less at every meal and eating often.
That didn’t really work for me.
What worked for me was the compressed eating windows, the intermittent eating as Mark calls it, where you’re not eating for a while and you’re in the not-eating mode and then you’re in the eating mode for a while.
That is, for me, a much more streamline way of eating less than…
The other way of doing it which you can totally do, but eating the many small meals that are just enough to make you hungry, that was torture on me, it really was.
Oh, sure, that’s clearly going to be in fear of your strategy.
Dr. Cate Shanahan’s new book The Fatburn Fix I think it’s called, she talks about when you snack on anything, even if it’s a high fat nutritious snack or your keto thing in a wrapper, you immediately shut down fat burning, stored body fat burning, and you spike insulin, even if it’s a high fat snack.
When we snack throughout the day we’re constantly interrupting our body’s incredible ability to burn fat, stabilize energy, stabilize cognitive function, mood, appetite, hormones.
Everything’s cool until we interrupt it with a snack or a bunch of small meals.
And when you go that route—which we’ve been going for decades, we’ve been trying to do the Zone diet and the six meals a day if you’re a body builder and you’re serious about fitness.
When you go that route then you’re dependent upon this perfect world scenario where you always have the proper snacks and foods.
Oh my gosh, I remember living my life like that for so long as a triathlete where I had to have these three types of energy bars and my nuts and my peanut butter, and I’d travel with this concoction of food that I had to have with me all the time, otherwise I’d get hungry and droopy.
And I felt like my next day’s workout would be compromised if I didn’t constantly stuff my face with the right foods.
Abel: Yeah. How about the immune system, though, especially when you’re trying to combine heavy training sometimes or competition with fasting, how do you manage that?
Because you can damage the immune system by eating too much or too little, or exercising too much or too little. It’s definitely something you have to keep in balance, especially at your level, and your level of training that most people haven’t experienced.
Oh, I thought you were going to say especially at your level, like my age level now.
Because I just turned 55, I can’t believe it, and I’m still trying to compete in these track meets and do this crazy stuff.
But when you’re trying to throw in the fasting and the strenuous exercise, these are both forms of stress to the body.
So, let’s be clear that fasting is a hormetic stressor, and then you have the workout, which is a hormetic stressor.
And then you’re trying to fast afterwards, because we’ve probably said this on our podcast a few times, that the adaptive hormone spike and they float around the bloodstream, testosterone growth hormone.
And so you try to fast for a little while after your workout to maximize those benefits.
But those can all add up to be too stressful, especially if you have any sort of disturbances in endocrine function, like your adrenal burnout they call it or thyroid dysfunction.
And so, that’s where we have to have a little bit of art form here, and test and see what works.
And I reference my age because that’s another stressor here, is trying to do these workouts at my age instead of in my prime.
My son, he’s 22, he can go have a Hot Fudge Sundae and then go play a full court basketball game and think nothing of it, and then have another Hot Fudge Sundae after he’s done, and then sit down and type out a paper.
Any of those Hot Fudge Sundaes coming into my world are paired with a nap every single time.
So, we have to be careful to apply the individual parameters and figure out what works best.
And I know we’re going to talk about fitness and workout design, but I’ve recently had a tremendous breakthrough in making my workouts less stressful and easier to recover from my strenuous workouts.
And then I think you can just continue talking about diet, you can figure out optimal timing of certain nutrients.
People talk about carbs. If they’re low carb, and then they do a workout, they carb refeed and all that.
And I’ve heard about these structured strategies, and I think those are maybe a little ridiculous, they don’t really resonate with me.
My main man, Brian McAndrew who does all our audio and video content, and he’s also living the dream as a real keto enthusiast. He’s my co-author on the Cool Dudes Cookbook.
He says, “You know what, life is going to give you refeeds.”
Life is going to give you refeeds. @bradleykearns Click To Tweet
And that’s a great quote for everyone to appreciate.
And I think he’s not just talking about when it’s Abel’s birthday and that he’s serving cheesecake.
It’s also when your appetite spikes and you feel like going and raiding the kitchen cupboard for an evening carb boost, that’s probably a really profound example of honoring your appetite.
Just like a female who’s pregnant and her heightened sensitivity, she’s craving a couple of eggs, there’s a reason for that.
So I think if we get the noise out of the way, then we can go by intuition, appetite, and things like that.
Mindful eating, of course, not just binging. Because you think you’re craving sugar, but really you’re bored, or you’re stressed out.
Then we can elevate the quality of one’s diet beyond food choices.
Fitness for the Aging Athlete
Abel: Let’s talk about your workouts now, since you brought that up.
I’m fascinated by how, especially world class athletes handle that as time goes on.
And hearing you and Mark talk about it was really great, but maybe you can just start with the story of your dad, because that really touched me.
Oh my gosh, my dad was the greatest role model for healthy, balanced, stress-free living.
He was able to manage stress, and he lived an incredible 97 years—95 of them in fantastic health and performing these incredible feats on the golf course, that was his main sport.
And his achievements, unrivaled in many ways.
He was the top golfer in the world over age 90 for several years, and he also set the record for competing in the national championship, the US Amateur, with the longest gap in years.
So he was a 19-year-old, and he qualified for the US Amateur. He was the number one golfer at Princeton, he was a top college player back in 1941.
And then like 35 years later, he actually qualified for the US Senior Amateur and went to Texas and played at the highest level for the old guys.
So he went through his whole life with these athletic goals that drove him, and he was very serious player, very competitive.
He’d take money off the younger guys all day long.
And I think that was something to watch because you have to have something that drives you and gets you up in the morning, and that you’re serious about.
You have to have something that drives you and gets you up in the morning. @bradleykearns Click To Tweet
It doesn’t have to be international level and you don’t have to be a super serious athlete or have a number on your shirt. But it’s something that gets you out of bed and gets you focused.
And you have a passion for pushing and challenging yourself, and exploring your outer limits.
So, I’ve tried to live that way my whole life.
I had a professional competitive career that ended long ago.
I was on the triathlon circuit for nine years, and I was living and breathing the sport of triathlon during that time.
And then when it’s time to move on, you have to recognize that as an athlete, and move on gracefully.
But I want to maintain this passion and this competitive intensity throughout my life, and always have a target somewhere that I’m really going for, and that I’m really all in with.
I want to maintain this passion and this competitive intensity throughout my life. @bradleykearns Click To Tweet
And that was what my dad represented.
He would be out there trying to make putts and work on his game and get less than 20—he was 95 years old.
And I should also mention that he had this most graceful decline you could ever imagine.
Where he just started to get more tired and take more naps and sleep more, and then in two years he was gone without the pain and suffering, the extended suffering that we see is so common when people let themselves go.
Where we’re going to get 10 more years out of them, but they’re going to be pumped full of drugs they’re not going to know what’s going on.
So, we had this perfect system of going at a high level and then having a pretty abrupt drop off, and then transitioning finally at 97.
But towards the end there, he was kind of frustrated, because he wasn’t playing as well as he was in his past life.
And it was funny, people would tease him, you know his playing partner gave a great one-liner.
My dad was complaining because he had macular degeneration, and so his vision was going.
And he’d be playing golf and he’d be like, “Dang, I can’t see the ball. I’m sorry, where did it go?”
And he was so frustrated that he couldn’t see his ball.
And his playing partner says, “Walter, the reason you can’t see the ball is because you hit it too goddamn far for a 95-year-old.”
He goes, “I can see every one of my shots, because they’re 10 feet off the ground. And they only go 100 yards.”
Abel: That’s awesome.
But just like having that, he had that edge to him, even though he was very sportsman-like.
And I’m not describing him as some tough guy competitor, but he had an edge inside that he really wanted to do his best all the way through his life.
Abel: He didn’t retire from that passion anyway, it sounds like.
He also practiced medicine until he was 95.
He had a medical licence and he volunteered once a week at a clinic. That gave him a purpose in life.
And we look at the longevity research, the programs like the Blue Zones emphasize that, that having that life purpose every day. The Japanese call it Ikigai, which is the sense of life purpose.
And it’s so important to not rest on your laurels, or now we have an incredible age of affluence and the certain percentage of the population where people don’t have to work.
For the first time in memory, there’s a ton of people out there that are driving their new cars around. They don’t have to do anything the rest of their life, because they cashed out their stock options.
But this can really correlate with a decline in mental and emotional health. So we really want to keep that edge going.
Abel: Yeah, I can personally relate to that. When we take a break, sometimes we purposely make it a little bit too long. You know what I mean?
Take a break from the internet, from producing content, from writing, any of that stuff.
I think it really is important to let that pendulum swing back to the other side, so that you almost crave it again, you know I mean?
I love that. Yeah, you’re itching to get going, itching to record some more shows.
Probably at the end of today, since you told me you’re doing 7 shows, you’re probably going to be…
Abel: Totally burned out until next week.
Ready for a little break, play some guitar, play some banjo.
But we’ve all got to discover that and make a point to go and look for these challenges.
Because life is so freaking easy now that we can easily skate through.
Mico Workouts & How Movement Improves Your Life
Abel: Yeah, so we have to make it a little bit hard, and challenge our bodies consistently.
Not in giant ego-based ways, but in tiny little ways consistently throughout your life.
So, one of the ways that you’ve been talking about doing that is with micro workouts.
And I love that, it’s something that I’ve been working into my routine for years now.
It’s one of the thing where I don’t think I’d be able to do these recording days without these little micro workouts.
I was talking about it on your show, but just for people who are listening right now, when I do these big days, usually I have 5 or 10 minutes to take a little bio break or maybe go play guitar for a second, or I’ll do some push-ups, pull-ups, swing kettlebells, just to get the blood flowing again.
It really, really helps.
So Brad talk about how it helps you in your life? Because there are so many different benefits that show up.
I know. You’re laughing because, or you should be laughing because you were doing these years ago, and writing about them on your website, way back when you were the anti-gym guy. And just going and doing the natural things, and taking your clients through that.
But the concept implies that the idea of doing these brief bouts of explosive effort during your busy day, or largely sedentary day, for many of us can add up to this incredible cumulative fitness benefit, without the risks and drawbacks of these extreme chronic workouts that can push you too hard, overstimulate the stress hormones and lead to breakdown, burnout, illness, and injury.
And that’s essentially the description of the modern day fitness industry.
When you go to a fitness trade show, or you see what’s going on in the health clubs, where we’re taking these poor unfit people, and just driving them to the extreme with the loud music pumping, and they’re asked to sprint over and over.
And they do an hour workout, they feel buzzed and a brief sense of accomplishment afterward.
But it can lead to this decline in motivation, alliance with the desired program, and even physical breakdown.
So, the concept of micro workouts is that, when you have a spare minute in your cubicle, you can drop for a set of 20 deep squats.
And if you’re a fit guy, and you’re thinking that’s nothing, let’s talk when you get to number 16, 17, 18.
And I’m talking all the way down.
My Olympic runner friend Michael Stember calls it ass-to-grass squats.
So you get that butt lowered all the way, as far as you can go.
And if you can’t go that far, keep working on it because you have inflexibilities that you want to work on.
But if you can just do something simple like that—a set of 20 deep squats—it has a huge impact on your immediate boost in energy, and cognitive function, and insulin sensitivity, and all those things that are compromised when we sit around for too long.
And if you throw them in and integrate them in, to the extent that they become habit, then you’re leading this healthy, active lifestyle which is—this is scientifically validated now too—most likely more important to your fitness, your health, and your longevity than adhering to a hardcore workout schedule.
Because even the hardest-core gym person, CrossFit person, who’s going four days a week and the other days they do cardio; okay, okay, guess what?
They’re adding up to 7 or 8 hours, or 10 or 11 hours of training each week.
There’s 168 hours in a week.
And if you’re spending 9 hours in the office, an hour-and-a-half on the train back and forth, and another couple hours on the couch watching Netflix because you’re so tired because you did that 6AM spin class, you’re leading a sedentary lifestyle.
There’s something called the active couch potato syndrome where people who have a devotion to fitness, who are going to the gym and knocking it out every day, they have similar disease risk factors to the sedentary people if they bank a lot of sedentary time like I just described.
So, if we can throw in something that every listener can really implement with ease and grace and it’s not a big ask, these micro workouts could be a life changer.
I mentioned the deep squats. I have a hex bar, a deadlift bar in my side yard, and it’s on the path to the garbage can.
So, when I take the kitchen garbage out the side door and throw it away, I always stop for as little as one set of deadlifts.
I have 200 pounds on the bar because I’m not a strong guy, but I’ve worked up to that.
Abel: That’s pretty good to go cold.
It’s okay, it’s okay. But I’ll do, let’s say 8 reps of 200 pounds. So that’s 1,600 pounds that I lifted just from throwing out the garbage.
And I’ll do that at least once a day. Sometimes I’ll go and do two or three sets if I have 5 to 10 minutes to spare in between shows or whatever.
And if you add that up over a year’s time, I’m lifting hundreds of thousands of pounds outside of my workouts and my little training log that says what I did at the gym, and how many sets and all that.
And so that elevates the platform from which I launch all my other workouts tremendously, as well as having those immediate benefits on refreshing my cognitive function, keeping me away from those sedentary negative effects.
And I have a pull-up bar, I have stretch cords. Everything in my office environment is set up for me to succeed.
You described the same thing, where there’s a kettle bell sitting there calling your name.
And boy, it’s so simple but it has such a huge payoff just to have these.
Allow yourself to bust it out once in a while. And I’m talking, if you have less than a minute you can still do the 20 squats.
Abel: Yeah. And this has also paid dividends when I’ve gotten injured, too, in the sense that when you do these micro workouts and you kind of get used to working them into your life, I was amazed by, especially since I kind of limited what I was eating when I broke my foot—and I’ve had other injuries over the years—I was still able to work in micro-workouts without being able to use my foot.
I still found ways just to do little things. And I think if I hadn’t built that skill, it would have been a lot harder to manage and come back from those injuries.
Because that’s hard. That’s how I’m kind of getting tendonitis right now, going from not playing a ton to playing a ton of music.
And so you always need to keep an eye on that.
But how do you manage injuries that naturally come up, just over time, with not losing your baseline fitness?
Oh, that’s funny. I’m thinking back to college when I was thinking I was going to be a big-time runner.
I was a big distance runner in high school and I made it to the National Junior Olympics finals and I’m like, “I’m going to be a college runner. It’s going to be awesome.”
This was my whole identity as a young guy, and I was so serious about it and driven.
And I drove myself right into a succession of illness and injury in college. I was sick or injured for five seasons in a row.
And it was a terrible time in my life because it was also a commentary on the system, where they push these kids too hard, indiscriminately, and not thinking about all the other things in life.
But I remember when I first got the first couple of injuries, it’s like my foot was messed up so I couldn’t run.
And so to me I just associated that like, I can’t exercise so I just have to go to the kegger parties, and sit around and be a blob and gain weight, and all these things.
Then finally I woke up to the idea that like, “Well, it hurts to run but I can certainly sit on a bike and pedal the bike for miles and miles, and hours and hours, and jump in the pool.”
So, I became a triathlete through the pain and suffering of getting injured as a college runner.
I have to credit my negative college running experience at UC Santa Barbara to kickstart my long career as a triathlete, which was the much better sport for me anyway.
So, balancing the load with cross-training is great.
And most people already know that insight, but I also want to put in a plug for recovery, and placing that at the centerpiece of your fitness experience.
Rather than, “How can I go out? How many ways can can I bust on my body and push myself and work my muscles?”
I think we all know that you can cross-train, and stress yourself out so much that you’re going to break down and fall apart.
So, you described waking up the other day with the sniffles, and changing your plan from a 8-mile run to just taking a quick little outing with your dog.
And I think we have to develop that ability to become intuitive about our training decisions.
Do what feels right right at the time, rather than be a slave to a schedule or succumb to the ego influences of our peers.
Abel: Yeah, we’re not robots. It’s not as simple as calories in, calories out, that sort of thing.
We are complicated, complicated beings. And it seems like the ones who really age gracefully are the ones who nailed recovery behind the scenes.
You don’t get to see that, though, most of the time.
That’s the weird part, is that people who are seeing the older guys like you and Mark crushing it, they’re not necessarily seeing all of that type of work that you’re putting in.
But that can be the most important thing, right?
You’ll meet somebody and they’ll learn that you’re an athlete and they’ll say, “Wow, you must have so much discipline,” and they have it totally wrong.
Like the discipline to get out the door and go put in the effort is nothing, it’s automatic. It requires no discipline or anything.
So, all the discipline, all the self-discipline, especially when I was racing at the professional level and the stakes were really high and I was trying to get the very most out of my body, all the self-discipline came in turning that dial down and taking your foot off the gas pedal a little bit and being patient and allowing the process of fitness to happen naturally.
I have a one-liner to spit out on this.
It’s, “Take what your body gives you each day, and nothing more. Don’t force it.”
And some days your body doesn’t feel like it. That’s a really strong message that maybe you should alter your approach.
Because I think it should always be fun to go out there and exercise and do physical training, but a lot of people are locked into a pattern where they’re just setting the alarm and getting their butt on the spinning bike to get crushed by programming that’s too stressful.
And it’s going to unwind after six weeks, eight weeks, or maybe two years.
And they’re going to be on the sidelines because subconsciously they associate that experience with pain and suffering rather than pleasure and enjoyment.
So, we have to be smart about our programming so that it always feels right in the moment.
Accessing Flow & Setting A Guiness World Record in Speed Golf
Abel: Yeah. Well, not that the conversation is slowing down but we are running out of time, so let’s make sure we talk about speed golfing first, because, what?
How do you have such a massive record in that? What’s the background, how did that happen?
Oh, it’s the greatest sport in the world.
So quickly, it’s an actual golf tournament where you go out there and you’re keeping score, but they also time you as you proceed along the course, so it’s pretty wacky.
Abel: That’s what golf should be, right?
People should Google or search on YouTube.
So you’re watching speed golf, and you’re carrying only handful of clubs, and you’re actually running at a pretty high speed to your shot, and you’re hitting the shot and you’re running again, and you’re going through the course.
And the minutes and the strokes count for a point each.
So, if you envision how difficult it is to score well.
You have to shoot a good golf score, and you can’t be hockey-pucking the ball around into the hole and getting a nine, because that’s minutes of time that you lose.
Or if you’re careless and miss a short putt, that counts the same as a minute, which I can run an entire hole in a minute.
So, the tournament, the top guys in the world are shooting near par and playing the course in well less than an hour.
Best score is a 78 in 47 minutes, so that’s a speed golf score of 125.
78 plus 47. But it also takes the sport of golf, which is boring and time consuming and non-athletic, and now all of a sudden it’s an incredible athletic event.
You kind of access that peak performance flow state that we talk about that we are so fond of, because you don’t have time to ruminate and process all this information like you watch the golf tournaments on TV,
“It’s 147 yards with a slight wind from the left to right. He’s going to pick a seven-iron.”
It’s like, I only have a few clubs so I’m changing my shot and hitting a soft shot or hard shot.
I’m mixing it up with this creativity with my clubs, and I’m just taking my first look at my target and swinging the club and running to go get the shot.
So, by accessing that zone and getting out of your head and out of that over-analytical mindset, all speed golfers find that they actually play really well and shoot good scores, because they’re free and loose and relaxed.
So, that’s kind of the esoteric part of the sport, which is so beautiful that you can perform well even while you’re grooving through the course at high speed and running out of breath and all that.
Abel: That’s so awesome. One of the things I wondered about that is, how do you manage the combination of these big-muscles expenditures with these fine motor skills that you’re really trying to nail?
I remember at my parents’ house we had a basketball hoop, and sometimes I would lift in the backyard.
And it’s like, if I lifted and then tried to shoot a basket, it’d be an air ball every time. It’s not the fine motor skills that I’m kind of engaging.
So how do you do that part of it, I’m curious?
It’s a tough sport, man.
You’ve got to get in shape, because you’ll fall apart on the back nine if you’re physically out of condition to run that fast.
And last year’s national championships was played in Houston in 93-degree afternoon heat.
And I remember barely finishing because my body was so overheated.
But in the last few holes when I could barely see straight and I was dizzy and running down, I’d grab the club and just swing, and these beautiful shots would come off my club.
So my golf score was excellent even when my body was barely hanging on.
If it were like a 10k or something I’d be one of those guys that they were like, carrying off the finish line.
But I attribute that to the complete lack of tension and lack of interference with my analytical mind. I was just too tired to worry about it.
And so I’d grab the putter, and I’d be 47 feet away from the hole, and I’d hit it up to three inches away from the cup.
It looked like I was seeing three different cups because of my delirium.
And so, that part is really fun to kind of disengage from that high-intensity mindset that we’re usually in as athletic competitors, and just let things flow.
And you can probably make an analogy to many other sports, where you’ve just got to get out of your own way and roll that bowling ball down at the pin, and not worry about the precise steps and all that crap that interferes with peak performance flow.
Abel: That’s so cool. Yeah, like Michael Jordan when he had the flu. He must have been seeing three baskets, but they’re going in.
It’s getting into a different flow state.
Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Abel: Cool. Well, we’re just about out of time, Brad. But before we go please tell folks what you’re working on, where they can find your book, and all the other cool stuff.
Where to Find Brad Kearns
You go to BradKearns.com. You will lock right into that speed golf video and you’ll be captivated to try it if you happen to jog and play golf.
Which, we have the statistics, right? We’re trying to grow the sport.
There’s 25 million joggers in the USA, and there’s 25 million golfers.
And then you draw a Venn diagram, where the curves intersect, it’s like, “Wait, there should be nine million speed golfers out there.”
But yeah, I have recent books.
Mark Sisson and I are happy to release this book called Keto for Life and I have a couple of fun cookbooks that I talked about, for cool dudes.
So, it’s a lot of tongue-in-cheek and getting that Abel James style sense of humor out there where we’re not taking ourselves too seriously.
We’re just trying to get people healthy, put up some good recipes, poke fun at those posers that are trying to do more about branding and throw you some processed food instead of care about your health.
So, I’m out there workin’ hard.
You can find me on Instagram @bradkearns1, on Twitter @bradleykearns, on Facebook and subscribe to my channel on YouTube.
The Get Over Yourself podcast has been a lot of fun. I’m so glad to record a show with you.
So, go check out that show. It’s a little off the beaten path, that’s what we like here.
Abel: Love it. You have done so much great work over the years, and you’re continuing to do.
So please, listeners out there, viewers, go check out Brad Kearns’ great books, great podcasts, other stuff too. Great dude.
Thank you so much, this was awesome.
Before You Go…
Here’s a note that recently came in from Diana. She says:
“I just wanted to say thank you SO much for these amazing free resources. My husband and I have been following you since “My Diet is Better Than Yours.”
We really appreciate all the great interviews you have done. We have watched just about every single one and they have changed our lives so very much!
We appreciate how genuine you are and how much you truly care about the people you are helping.
Thank you Abel for offering so many free resources. I know you are making an enormous difference in the lives of so many people.
I’m just starting my health coaching business and I always recommend your book to all of my clients. Please keep up the good work!”
Diana, you know how to make me smile. This is lovely.
It was wonderful to read your note, so thank you for getting in touch and sending it in.
You know, since I started this, many people don’t know that I was sick and unhealthy. And hitting rock bottom was really the catalyst when I lost everything in an apartment fire.
That actually happened this week 11 years ago, I lost everything in an apartment fire. I lost my health, actually got H1N1 swine flu, was never tested for it. It was hard to get tested as well back then.
But anyway, I hit rock bottom, went through some really rough times and then decided to turn my health around.
Not by following my doctor’s advice, which is what I was already doing, but by doing the opposite of what my doctor told me.
And that’s when I really healed.
So for those of you out there who kind of get some of the free resources and then join our, more premium coaching communities and start buying the books and all of that, that keeps all of this going and you are the reason that we’re doing all of this.
When I was out there reading the running magazines and listening to my doctor, it made me fat and sick. And you know, they put me on a half dozen different expensive prescription medications. So this really is a lifestyle.
And real food, once you embrace it, there is no turning back.
I love that you said you’re starting your own health coaching business because that is exactly what we all need right now.
And speaking of, I just started up a Tip Jar, so if you’re interested in getting group coaching or virtual coaching on more of a one-to-one basis, then please visit our Tip Jar.
Because I just set up a whole new coaching section, which we’re gonna be trying for a limited time, especially because a lot of people seem to need it, and you’re writing in and asking for it.
And thankfully, now that in a lot of ways we’re not burning up time traveling and looking for a new place to live or trying to recover from being poisoned last year—long story—now we have good internet and plenty of time to really get up close and personal with you, virtually speaking, with our new communities on Patreon.
We setup a new community chat on Discord, as well, and we of course have the Fat-Burning Tribe, too. And there are many new projects that we’re getting going.
Also, when you sign up for our newsletter, which is totally free, I often send out my books for free.
Just in the past few months, we were able to give away over 13,000 books all across the world.
And so, if you appreciate our free content and there’s nothing else you can do, you’re completely broke—trust me, I know what that’s like—then please just share this content around and enjoy the free content.
But if you are able to throw a few bucks our way and help buy a coffee or keep the lights on or if you want some extra premium coaching, please visit us over on Patreon.
And don’t forget to check out my new #1 internationally bestselling book, and audiobook, Designer Babies Still Get Scabies, which in some ways is very relevant, more relevant than ever right now.
And hopefully it’ll help give you a few giggles, release some of the negative energy that’s doing around these days.
You can check out my new book at DesignerBabiesBook.com.
What did you think of this interview with Brad Kearns? Have you tried speed golf? Drop a comment below!