Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well coauthors discuss their new book and the tips and tricks it contains. We cover some great tips for how to implement healthy diet and lifestyle changes, and also share some personal experiences regarding strategies for healthy living.
If you need help finding strategies for healthy living that will work for you, click here.
Roland and Galina Denzel Bio….. 1:12
About Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well….. 5:15
Move Well….. 10:38
Eat Well….. 20:37
Live Well—Sleep….. 30:24
Live Well—Build Your Tribe….. 39:17
Episode Wrap-up….. 45:20
- Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well: 52 Ways to Feel Better in a Week
- Eat Well, Move Well Website
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Dr. Michael Ruscio: Hey, everyone. Welcome to Dr. Ruscio Radio. I am here today with Roland and Galina Denzel, who have recently written a book called Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well. And we were connected by Mike T. Nelson who has been on the show a few times. And I thought it’d be nice to have them on and talk about the book and what they learned through writing it and all that good stuff. So Roland and Galina, welcome to the show.
Roland Denzel: Thank you for having us.
Galina Denzel: It’s really good to be here. Thank you.
Roland and Galina Denzel Bio
So tell us a little bit about your background and how you guys got into the health space and how you got into the position of writing this book.
RD: All right. So I grew up fat and sort of teetering between overweight, fat, and obese all my life for the first 35 years. And there were some times when I was thin. But it was just—it was a real struggle. But then about 35—when I was about 35 years old, I decided to really make a permanent change and sort of made a plan and decided to stick with it.
And I just started—just wanted to kind of sort of analyze what had failed in the past and how I could overcome that for the future and sort of implemented this plan and just kind of took it step-by-step but always making sure that I was always on my plan, even if the plan had to change.
RD: Yeah, 13 or 14—oh, gosh! A lot of years later, like 14 years later now, still kept it off. Yeah.
DrMR: Nice. Well, congratulations!
RD: Thank you. So over time, I decided—I got really passionate about fitness, health, and nutrition; started learning more and more; and started sort of casually offering and helping other people, and then decided at some point to sort of start getting certified and learn how to coach others. And then one day, I met Galina.
GD: Yeah, we met kind of at an interesting point in our lives, about a good eight years ago now. I had a book idea. I owned a gym. And I oversaw hundreds and thousands of programs and clients—I was the head coach—and overseeing trainers and their clients and mostly worked with weight loss and people who were coming out of accidents and recovering from things that are unkind to the body. And I had come to this point where I felt like I had a system in place that I could write about.
But meeting Roland and hearing his story, I felt like he had a good first-person perspective. And as somebody who had always been relatively healthy and more on the leader side of things and had not been on the experience side of what it is like to lose 100 pounds and go from sedentary and inactive to being athletic, I really found his story to be captivating. Plus he was a really cool guy. So we hit it off and decided to write our first book together back in 2008. And that sort of passion has kind of kept us together and got us together, ended up getting married. Sort of an interesting—
RD: Spoiler alert.
GD: Spoiler alert. And then, yeah. So now this is our fifth project together. So it’s been a learning process. It’s been really fabulous.
DrMR: Awesome. Awesome. And the book, Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well—tell us. I’m sure there’s a ton you can tell us. But this, I’m assuming—I haven’t read the book yet. I apologize.
GD: You will. It hasn’t been to that place where it can be shown yet.
GD: We just got it out of design last week.
GD: But we’ll have it in your hands as soon as possible, as soon as we have the pre-final copy that we can send out.
GD: Sort of an—
DrMR: I have something here. I think it’s maybe like some sample notes and—
RD: Yeah, I sent you an excerpt.
DrMR: Yeah, yeah, and I briefly, briefly looked at that. But this week has been—I just got back from Paleo F(x). And I’m preparing to speak at the SIBO symposium next weekend.
DrMR: So I’ve been kind of on lockdown. So I look at the title Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well—I’m assuming we’re going to learn about on-ramping for diet, lifestyle, and exercise. But can you expand a little bit?
About Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well
DrMR: And can we dig into maybe some of the cool things that the book goes into?
GD: Absolutely. So our book goes into sort of the what-to-do. So there is so much information out there. And more than at any time in the past, people have access to tons of information about what is the direction to go. But the specifics of what to do—what to do at every meal, what to do with your movement practice, and what kind of a movement practice to do—we coach regular people.
So our readers and the readers we write for are not the people who are trying to really fine-tune, to really hack their way into those last five pounds or to really optimize their sleep for performance, get those extra 20 awesome minutes in the morning or in the evening. Our people are the people who go into a supermarket and they’re just paralyzed in front of the yogurt aisle.
And we teach—we have coaching groups here in southern California and online. And we teach these very specific skills of what to do. People are paralyzed by the simplest thing. Should I stretch in the morning? Should I stretch in the afternoon? Is static stretching bad? Well, how should I foam roll? Should I foam roll before my workout or after? Should I do high intensity, but my knee hurts? So people get paralyzed. There is all this amazing information out there. But they don’t know what to act on.
So we work with the so-called—we call them our “regular people”—people who are not athletes, people who are not in any way striving yet—some of them end up striving for it—but for some sort of athletic excellency. But people who have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. Maybe they’re stressed. Maybe they’re depressed. Maybe they’re overweight. Maybe—
RD: People have so many decisions to make and so much stress and so much pain, whether it’s emotional, physical, psychological. And they get the analysis paralysis. And they just don’t know what to do. So I could take the example of the “When do I stretch?” or “How do I stretch?”—all these things. We say, “Just chill out and take this week and just stretch. And here’s how to stretch. Don’t worry about all the other stuff. Just here’s something that’s going to—that we want you to focus on. Keep track of what you feel like on Monday. And then, hey, let’s look back next Monday at how this week went. And let’s chock up all the successes we had.”
GD: Yeah, so the book is separated in 52 chapters. And that doesn’t mean that you’re going to do it in 52 weeks or in a year. But if you were sort of an overachiever, you could learn these 52 helpful lessons in a year. And it’s sort of a choose-your-own-adventure, experiential, me-search kind of book where you read a chapter of the book. They’re relatively short.
And each chapter familiarizes you with a concept. For example, the concept of how can foam rolling your muscles or doing some sort of self myofascial release work—whether it’s tennis balls or trigger point balls or foam rollers or some other common implements—how can improving your tissue quality improve the quality of your life and the quality of your movement? So we talk a little bit about research, a little bit about the implements, and a little bit about the exercises people can do.
And then we also lead them to resources online where they can watch videos and do that. So if you’re curious about that, if that lesson kind of sparks your interest, then you can—spike—that wasn’t an English word—spikes your interest, you can go and you can do that for a week. You can play with it. And maybe it sticks. Maybe you love it. Maybe you don’t. But out of those 52 lessons, we have really filtered things down to where we’re hoping at least 15 to 20 lessons stick because we can’t speak to every person.
GD: But out of the huge variety of health lessons, a bunch will stick and will make a dramatic difference in one’s life with very simple, simple things.
DrMR: Sure. No, I really am coming to like the—as you termed it—and I totally agree—the choose-your-own-adventure sort of self-help guide. And that’s what I fall into with the last section of the book that I’m writing. It takes all this gut stuff that you can do, that people also, like you said, can be paralyzed by—low-carb, high-carb; low-fiber, high-fiber; low-fermentability, high-fermentability; low-FODMAP; Paleo; AIP; SCD; GAPS; probiotics; antimicrobials; fasting, not fasting. And it just—
RD: And these are just the ones you could name off the top of your head.
DrMR: Right. Right. And it walks people through, like, “Here’s the best way to sequence these things.” And hopefully if we do the first few steps right, then you’re hopefully there. You’re feeling really well. And we don’t have to do anymore. But if not, the adventure contorts to—or it forms to what you need to get the result of feeling healthy. So I really like that approach to allow the advice to be personalized to people.
DrMR: So definitely. I definitely—I’m on the same page with you there. And you mentioned a few things about movement.
So what are a couple things that you think are really important for people to be aware of in the movement realm? I’d like to maybe go into a few about movement, a few about living or lifestyle, and then a few about diet. So what would you say are some of the most salient, important things for people from a movement perspective?
GD: I’ll take the movement. And I’ll give Roland the nutrition. And we’ll see about the lifestyle. Movement is kind of my realm. That’s where I live all day long in my studio. But there has been in recent years this sort of emergence of the idea of the active sedentary person—that person who sits all day at a desk or, in the best-case scenario, stands all day at a desk. And then they go, and they do some sort of an intense, focused exercise.
And we’re seeing in research that it doesn’t matter that you do that. If you have long periods of idle time, you’re still at a high risk for cardiovascular, metabolic disease. And just an overall, what we call kind of feeling like crap, which is a scientific term for everything’s sluggish, everything’s down. Your cells need movement. And movement is kind of a non-negotiable nutrient. And just like you need your hydration and you need your nutrients from food and your macro/micro elements, your enzymes, movement does certain things for the cells that are nonnegotiable.
So there’s something called mechanical transduction. That’s how the cell gets smooshed around and sort of deformed by movement. And each of our cells, each of our trillions of cells needs that stimulation in order to be healthy genetically. And we know more and more about the effect of movement on genetics. And we’re seeing that all-throughout-the-day movement is crucial for how we feel and how our cells regenerate. And if you’re sluggish, you’re sitting around all day long, and then you go do something intense at the end of the day, that does not mitigate the effect of sitting.
So what we teach in our book is sort of this concept of all-throughout-the-day movement. From the smallest things like, how do you sit in different ways? How do you move your body? How do you put your body in joint positions and joint angles that are different so you have big movement variability, even if you have to be seated?
RD: Because the problem is sort of twofold. The problem is that you’re not moving throughout the day but also that you are sitting or you’ve positioned yourself into one position throughout the day.
GD: Right. Right.
GD: So teaching these different ways to sit or to position yourself or to stand or to take dynamic breaks or to get up off your chair every 30 minutes and maybe walk around for a minute, which helps tremendously with blood sugar regulation even if it’s not high-intensity activity.
RD: What’s your favorite chapter for this? What would you say?
GD: I would say my favorite chapter for this is maybe sitting in a way that allows you to breathe and digest better, so really minding your head position and your ribcage position.
RD: Do you remember what that one’s called?
GD: It’s called “Goodbye, Turkey Head.”
RD: Yes. Yeah, I like that one, too—
DrMR: I like that.
RD: Because it really focuses on—we all see it. If you go to a Starbucks, you see somebody read these smaller and smaller computer screens or tablet screens or phone screens. Their heads over time have gotten to the point where they’re looking down. And then even when they look up at somebody, they’ve got that head forward position. And it’s really not—it’s being nice to say it’s not optimal for your breathing and digestion to have a curved neck like that. But it’s really—it’s bad news.
GD: And I work with people in chronic pain. And I have to say that 100% of the people who come through my door are just not breathing well. And you cannot breathe well if your head is in front your body. And if the listeners want to try that, if you can just stick your head in front of you and try to take a deep breath and then put it back where it’s over your shoulders and take a deep breath, you’re going to have very different results. And it’s just a mechanical advantage of head position.
RD: Yeah, not to mention, from the pain aspect of it, there’s a formula, and I always get it wrong. But there’s—for every inch forward your head is—
GD: It’s about—I think about four pounds difference. Is that right?
RD: It adds about four pounds.
DrMR: Yeah. Yeah, I’ve heard that, too, something along those lines.
RD: And pretty soon, you’ve got a thousand pound head hanging out in front of you.
DrMR: Definitely. Yeah.
GD: Pretty soon, you’re doing a headstand. But sort of this idea of having to lean. And another piece that’s really cool there is what we call furniture minimalism. And that’s not using your furniture at home in the same way that you use furniture at work. So if you think of the most habitual position for sitting, you’re at sort of this 90° angle, legs to your torso, that happens in your chair or when you drive your car. And then you go home, and you sit in the same position on your couch. So we get—
RD: And then dinner is the same position.
RD: The car around.
DrMR: Yeah. Yep.
GD: So you get rid of your couch. That sort of minimizes—or you don’t even have to get rid of it. You can just not sit on it and sit on the floor. That takes you through a completely different range of motion and different movements that are also natural human movements, getting down to the ground and getting back up. And we know from studies that your ability to get back off the floor is a really good predictor of how well you’re going to age and how long you’re going to live.
So starting that earlier on where you’re just going to eat dinner, maybe sitting on the floor. Maybe you’re going to watch a movie sitting on the floor. And if you are on the floor, that’s a full squat each time you come down and come back up. And also it’s a big playground. The floor can be a playground if you’re not sitting in a chair. So we have all these different implements to play around with. You can foam roll. You can stretch. You can lie around.
And we’ve been living this lifestyle for a long time now. And our friends are used to it. So they look forward to coming over and hanging out on our floor and rolling around and playing with our toys. So it’s been a nice little social experiment in our little environment here.
RD: Hang on. And we’re sitting on the floor now.
DrMR: Oh, nice. Nice. And it kind of reminds me of being a kid. When you were a kid, you loved to hang out on the floor. And I agree with you. I think it is good to sometimes just sit in a different position. And I try to do that with the work that I do from home—just have a few different kind of areas that I work from as well as having a seated-to-standing desk, which helps. So yeah, I think those are really, really important—I don’t want to say observations—comments.
And certainly, the walking piece I think is—just can’t be overstated. And I just want to second that with my own recent personal experience where, as I’ve been working on the book now for a year and working from my home office three days a week, for awhile there, I really fell into a bad habit of really not walking enough. And it took me several months to realize I was probably drinking too much caffeine and not giving myself enough breaks and taking enough time to walk.
And that was decreasing my performance. And really I have just noticed a remarkable change. And when I say remarkable—to maybe frame that for some of the audience—way more effective and the best adrenal support known to man. This is really, really effective. So to contextualize it, these things are powerful. I bought a pair of those minimal-sole, like flat-soled shoes. And I’ll probably take now three walks a day that might be maybe half a mile in duration.
DrMR: And I just feel fantastic doing that. Gosh! The difference—I cannot overstate how much better I feel just from doing that.
GD: It’s incredible. And taking your feet out of the foot prisons is so important because your feet just crave that mobilization. We joke in my office that if nature wanted us to have a foot that’s not mobile, we would have a shoulder blade instead of a foot down there.
GD: And we have 33 joints, 29 of which move. And the rest of your body—your circulation, your lymphatics, your neural flow, your proprioceptive ability—all of that depends on you having a foot that is malleable, that can move, that can feel, that can adapt to the ground. And that’s not going to happen if you have really, really thick shoes. And so taking your foot out for a walk in a minimal kind of footwear is one incredible way to improve most of the functions of your body. But people don’t think, “I’m having a pelvic floor issue or a digestive issue. I better get a minimal shoe.”
They just can’t make that connection. So we’re making those powerful connections for people so that they can simplify their lives and kind of insert those healthy habits within everything else that they do. They’re going to go for a walk anyway; might as well go for a walk in a minimal shoe that’s also going to do these other 900 things for you instead of you having to do those 900 things after your workday is done.
DrMR: No, totally. Totally. Yeah, I totally agree. And as you’re saying that, I’m thinking about how I really kind of crave putting on my minimal shoes and walking now. That compared to walking in sandals or regular shoes, it feels very unappealing. And I literally crave walking in a minimalist shoe because it just feels so good. So completely agree.
How about now we segue to diet? Because I want to make sure we get a few dietary things in here because I’m curious to hear what some of your key takeaways and observations regarding diet are. So what about diet?
RD: Yeah, the most powerful thing that we found for most people is cooking. Learning to cook even simply is such a powerful gateway to health. But the biggest issue is that most people just don’t have the confidence to cook. We’re no longer—our society doesn’t teach people to cook anymore. When I was a kid, we had—I was, even as a male, we had a home ec class. We had a cooking class. My mother taught me to cook pretty simply. It wasn’t anything fancy. But I cooked for the family twice a week. My sister cooked twice a week. We probably ate out once a week.
And the other two—yeah, two nights my mom cooked. And we just sort of divvied things up. And as a result, when I was ready to move out on my own, I didn’t know how to cook all sorts of fancy things, but I knew that I would be able to cook as long as I went and got a cookbook and started learning recipes—what spices went well together, things like that. But when people learn to cook, suddenly they save money. And they get healthier. They choose healthier ingredients because the power is really with them.
And there, from the statistics—let’s see. How do I phrase this? Every meal that is eaten out at a restaurant on average is 134 calories more than a meal you would typically eat at home. And so many people eat almost every meal out a day, like two meals out a day. So if you add those things up, calories aren’t everything. But if you think about where those calories are coming from, it’s typically going to be a lot of calories of low-quality fats, low-quality carbs, and things like that, not to mention that it’s about 50%—it costs about 50% more to eat out than it does to eat in.
RD: Yeah, so several chapters of our book focus on simple recipes and simple cooking techniques. So we take different angles for any chapter. So we like to start off with a fun little story or an anecdote or sort of a lesson and then give them a nice recipe that’s really simple, that they can succeed in. All of the chapters—we want—above all else, we want people to—we want to remove all of the barriers that they could have. So each chapter removes the barrier, makes it super simple. And then we want them to come out on the other side not just having succeeded but knowing that they had a great success and feeling a positive change at the end of that week.
DrMR: Yeah, and that’s well said because I see a lot of the opposite, which is people almost feeling defeated by diet. And I think a lot of it has to do with how you frame it. And I think there is an unhealthy view that if you don’t do everything perfectly with the given diet that you’re trying, that you’re failing. And I really think that is a very challenging sort of belief because it’s very rare that someone’s going to be able to implement a diet 100% to the T.
And so if your measurement of success is 100% compliance or nothing, then it’s going to be very hard to feel good about the experience. And one of the things I notice that patients really appreciate at the office is when we just have the conversation that you don’t have to be totally perfect to still see a lot of results. And they tend to be much happier about the whole experience. So I think it’s—what you’re saying in framing it in such a way where they feel good about it I think is really, really important.
GD: And also putting power back into their hands, because if you’re constantly putting power in supplements or theories—
GD: That separate you from your common sense because a lot of people go, “Hey, wait a minute. I grew up eating this stuff that you’re telling me now is making me deathly ill.” There is a dissonance there between experience and what you’re being told. So coming back to your roots, understanding what your ancestors did, learning about things like bone broth and fermentation and yogurt, and learning about herbs and spices, and how to eat the chicken on the skin for most people isn’t that big of a leap.
Telling them about the fact that they have to eat something that was brought from Fiji is a huge leap. They just can’t—there’s a cognitive dissonance there—just can’t make the two things go together. So there’s an internal resistance. And coming back to real food or gardening, organic farming, supporting your local farmer’s market, and finding a local CSA or a local person who has grass-fed beef makes sense to people.
GD: It’s not that they space-age-out their thing that comes in a package. It’s what we’ve always done.
RD: Yep. We always joke about there are the two kinds of people in the world. There is the kind that like Neil Diamond and the kind that don’t. Or there’s the kind that like Mac and the kind that like PC. But there’s also, when it comes to getting healthy, there are people who want to jump in feet first and just hit the ground running. And they just go with it, and they do great. But then there’s that other group that sees that—they buy that same book.
And they’re like, “Oh, my gosh. This is like 200 pages of things that—I can never do this.” So what happens is it goes in the nightstand. And then another book comes and piles on it. And pretty soon, that book is at the bottom of the nightstand, the bottom of the stack. And they’ve never done it a year later. And they haven’t gotten any better at all. So we wanted to say, “Hey, you don’t have to do all of these things. Here are 52.” We wrote so many more than 52. But really had to limit it.
GD: We wrote 90. And the publishers said that we’re granola.
RD: Yeah. He goes, “What are you guys thinking?” Yeah. But we want you to be able to take any of these things and at the end of the week, you’re going to feel a little bit better. And you’re going to feel more powerful. And you’re going to feel that you succeeded. So you’re going to be excited about doing the next thing.
In our local—we have a local group. And we do online coaching groups as well. And they’re a 90-day plan. And every week we do the same thing. We introduce them to one simple activity. And we review the previous week, so the habits build. And it’s just amazing by the middle of the week how people start posting their pictures of the food that they cooked and like, “Oh, my gosh, I’ve never made something like this before. Look how amazing this is!” And then weeks later, they’re still cooking things like that. And they’re still experiencing. Or they plant some seeds or some seedlings. And then the next month, suddenly they’re showing off the food that they cooked with the little sprigs of rosemary that they grew themselves. And it’s just so much.
And sometimes, we don’t even talk about counting calories or measuring portions or things like that. Just by doing these things, they are reporting to us that they’re feeling better and that they’re losing weight because they’re taking that power for themselves. And they’re becoming mindful. And they’re thinking about and they’re putting care into their food rather than just going to a restaurant and ordering something off the menu that looks like it’s going to satisfy them.
GD: It’s interesting. We don’t teach about calories. We teach something called portion mindfulness where you just pay attention. You pay attention to your food. You’re grateful for your food. You look at your food. You smell your food. You chew your food. And you swallow your food. And you’re present with it. And that alone reduces the amount of food consumed significantly. So calories don’t even come into the question.
DrMR: Sure. And I think that’s really a very sensible approach to just focus on eating healthy food. And I’ve never been a big fan of giving people a specific caloric recommendation because it’s such a tedious task. And it takes us away from the way that we kind of used to eat and evolved eating which is much more intuitive—
DrMR: Than it is calculated. So totally, totally agreed.
GD: Yeah. Yeah, and we also want to take the whole failure/guilt/shame thing that comes between your human nature and your sort of commanding officer in your head who always puts high goals in front of you, because there are going to be days when you’re going to eat a little bit more. And there are going to be foods that you’re going to overeat. And that’s fine.
And we want to normalize that for people, that that happens to everyone. You have hunter-gatherers that chug down five pounds of honey at a sitting. And we have that. That’s something that’s in our genes. If you’re not going to see this for another ten months, you better eat all of it that you can.
DrMR: Sure. Yeah, well said. Well said.
What about the live well piece, lifestyle? Are there some things there that you think are really important? I think we’ve already hinted at a few—that maybe growing your own food is a lifestyle practice in and of itself. Walking, another kind of—both exercise and lifestyle we can put walking under. But what are some things that you think are important regarding lifestyle?
RD: Well, it’s funny you mention those different categories because when we—just for the organization of the book, we had to sort of decide which chapters were going to go into which category. And sometimes, it was really hard.
DrMR: Sure. Yeah, I can see that.
RD: And we kind of wanted to balance them out. And what is the focus of this one? Because they overlap so much. But the one—if you could do anything—sleep. Sleep is the number one. But unfortunately, it’s also the hardest one because no one wants to give up sleep. The thought process in our modern day world is that—oh, it’s like prideful.
People are proud to say, “Oh, I only had three hours of sleep last night. I’m working so hard. I went on an all-nighter getting this project done. I didn’t even—I only got one hour before I had to get back up for work.” And the reality of it is this is really, really taking its toll. And it should be the reverse. It should be an, “Oh, my gosh, I waited so long and I put this project off so long that I had to get it done, and I only had an hour of sleep.” And it should be like, “I’m not going to do this again” type of attitude when in reality it’s like a badge of honor.
But the lack of sleep takes such a toll on—
GD: And the poor quality of sleep.
RD: Yeah, yeah. And we interviewed Dan for the book. And we already felt like we had a pretty good handle on what was important when it comes to sleep. But Dan—well, it’s like a pun. Dan really opened our eyes to it. But not only from a what’s important perspective but from where to focus perspective because so many people—again they want to, “I really have to take care of my sleep.” They either do not enough to take care of it because they think, “Ah, I’ll just sleep a little bit more.” And that doesn’t last very long. Or they say, “I have to do these 25 things. And I have to be perfect. Otherwise, I’m not getting better sleep.”
RD: Yeah. And Dan kind of, again, woke us up to—I swear I’m not doing this on purpose—he woke us up to what’s really important. And it’s like the Pareto principle—80%—the 80/20 principle.
RD: And so in our chapter, it’s pretty simple. Go ahead. You were—
GD: Do you want me to step in?
RD: Sure, yeah.
GD: You want to make—
RD: I can ramble forever.
GD: You just want to make sure that you’re consistent and you are in some way tracking or measuring your bedtime—you have consistent bedtimes and consistent get-out-of-bed times once you figure out how much sleep you need. So there’s a period of time for about three to four weeks where you’re going to do a little me-experiment, a little bit of me-search to find out how much sleep is necessary for you to feel rested without waking up with an alarm.
And then you really have to learn to safeguard that time. So if it’s 9:45 that’s my bedtime, then that’s my bedtime. And nothing else gets in the way. And soon you find out that that late night work that you thought was awesome is actually pretty crappy work. And it’s better to wake up in the morning and to do your work then.
Doing research for the sleep chapter was interesting because I got to read all this research talking about how you think your ability to understand how you perform really changes when you lack sleep. And you think that you’re performing well. You think that you’re doing well. But you’re actually objectively not doing well. Your ability to assess how well you do really changes. So of course, all of us get to fool ourselves that we’re doing great work at night. So for me that was a big change, forgetting the late night hours and only starting to work in the morning. That was really awesome.
RD: Yeah, so some of the things that changed—or that we found to be the most powerful when it comes to sleep—which is, I think, the most powerful yet hard for people to hear—is going to bed earlier and therefore getting up a little bit earlier and then trying to make your sleep patterns more closely attuned to day and night schedules. So going to bed closer to when it gets dark but also dimming the lights in the evening and then, surprisingly, making sure you go outside in the bright light for at least 30 minutes a day.
GD: As soon as you wake up, preferably upon waking.
RD: Yeah, and Dan said if you can get up and expose yourself to some good light first thing in the morning and then maybe spend your lunch hour outside, not looking through a window, but physically outside where you can see whatever the brightest sky possible, that has a tremendous effect.
GD: It has been very helpful. And it has such powerful effects on appetite regulation. I have clients that have failed over and over and over in their weight-loss efforts, just horrible impulse control, carb cravings, just inability to make the right decision over and over again. Then we get them sleeping. And these people within two weeks are fully transformed. They have their willpower back. They have their self-confidence back. They no longer feel like they’re failing their impulses. It’s incredible.
RD: Yeah, on a related note, our friend Dr. Spencer Nadolsky—when patients come in, one of the first things he asks them—he asks them or their significant other—does this person snore? Do you snore? And if the answer is yes or maybe, he really recommends they get a sleep apnea test. And once they find out that, yes, they have sleep apnea and they get on a CPAP machine, he says most of those people immediately start losing weight, report being more productive at work, and all around become happier people. So it really is powerful when it comes to the quality and the amount of sleep, especially deep sleep.
DrMR: Absolutely. No, totally, totally agreed. And it reminds me of the worst night’s sleep I’ve had probably in the past five years was my first night at Paleo F(x). I arrived at my Airbnb rental. And I notice that there are ear plugs next to the bed.
DrMR: And I’m saying to myself, “That can’t be a good sign.” So not only did the air conditioner break in Austin in the summer, which is terrible in and of itself, it was right next to a railroad track that was very active from 1:00 in the morning to 5:00 in the morning.
And I literally took some pillows and went into my car and tried sleeping in my car for a couple hours. It was that bad. It was like being tortured. It was terrible. And of course, the following morning was the morning I was lecturing and on a panel and had an interview. So that was just perfect.
GD: Quite a day.
RD: The things they don’t tell you.
RD: The things they don’t put in the Airbnb listing.
DrMR: Gosh, yeah. How you do not disclose the fact that it’s next to a railroad track is just beyond me, but anyway, lesson learned there. I’ll be more discerning with my reviewing in the future.
DrMR: But yes, it’s just that was a unique experience that taught me, gosh, if sleep is this bad—
DrMR: I don’t even know how I’d be able to get through a day. And some people—they can have metabolic issues or inflammatory issues or sleep apnea that can be causing issues like that that aren’t so overt. People don’t realize that they’re maybe waking up or coming out of REM sleep so many times throughout the night. So they might not be as obvious on the surface but can still cause such a negative effect on health.
And that’s one area where we reviewed the literature on the podcast recently. And there is just overwhelming support showing that consistently sleeping less than six to seven hours a night has been correlated so strongly with pretty much any disease you can think of. So yeah, sleep is definitely, very, very, very important.
GD: Huge, huge, huge one.
Live Well—Build Your Tribe
And another one in lifestyle—and I think this will probably round it up—is support, finding support, finding social support. We called it “building your health tribe.” Building a group of people who can really hold your transformation and help you get through coming to the other side of what’s more of a natural, human environment and behavior because we’ve just strayed so far both in what we eat and how little we move but also in how isolated we have become. And none of this is supposed to be done by yourself.
DrMR: Absolutely. Totally agree. And I think that’s another really—an area that, as Westerners, we probably are the most deficient in is that community, that tribe, that time with people. And totally agree that that’s very, very important.
GD: Yeah, it’s been sort of the big social lie of the West. And I’m not saying this coming from the East because somehow in Eastern Europe we have the same thing where you are just brought up to push on your own and excel on your own sort of in this separated sense. And there’s this whole other field of interpersonal neurobiology that we’re now understanding how important it is for the health of your brain and the health of your body and how we cannot be healthy in isolation. And so bringing that more to be a part of the health conversation versus talking about carbohydrates for another ten years—I’m going to shoot.
DrMR: I agree. And I think a lot of the observations of areas of the world where they don’t even really regard themselves with how they eat—or they don’t really concern themselves with their diet. They just kind of eat what they eat but they have really good social constructs and time for socialization and what-have-you. They tend to be a lot healthier and a lot happier. And I think Blue Zones was probably the best book that chronicled that. But certainly—
DrMR: Yeah, and something that I struggle with, with some patients where they are going crazy about their diet or internal issues. And when I inquire about how much are you doing in terms of hobbies, friends, family, socialization, that’s one of the first things people will cut out. And I understand that they’re trying to produce more time to try to fix their health. But that would definitely be one of the things that probably doesn’t yield good dividends to sacrifice too much there because that has just been shown to be so important for health and so foundational to our existence. So totally agreed with the importance of people, tribe, and all that good stuff. And I would also be very inclined to think that if, like you said, they bring people into their circle that are going to be supporting their changes, then that’s going to be a key to lasting change.
GD: Yeah, it is definitely a key. And I feel like that’s becoming more of a known rather than a—it’s no secret anymore that that’s necessary. And just translating all the good research we have into doable, actionable, everyday, simple, empowering items—that’s been sort of our work, Roland and I, over the last couple of years working on the book and with our editors as well—just really making it understandable because there are so many well-done scientific books that unfortunately are not able to help people make the transition.
RD: As far as the social support aspect, in our own groups, we’ve been trying to focus people on—sometimes they join, thinking, “Well, this is a way that other people are going to hold me accountable.” And it’s really not—I’m sure there’s an aspect of that to it. But it’s really not about holding somebody accountable but about sort of lifting them up and supporting them and the group camaraderie and sharing your feeling of accomplishment and feeling that—so when you share your feeling of accomplishment within the group, people think, “Oh, that’s somebody who’s just like me. I can do that too.” And it sort of just builds—everyone builds on each other. And it’s really a good feeling. It’s been good for us too because we try to explain to our coaching clients and our readers that we’re sort of in the same boat as you, just that we’re all in different stages of this same sort of a game.
And when we started the call, you said, “It would be interesting to hear what you have learned when you were writing the book.” And I learned a lot while I was writing the book, not so much about the exercise and the nutrition parts. Those are the parts where I thought, “Well, I’m going to”—those are the easy ones to write. The ones that I learned more about are like when I stood up at the end of the day and realized, “Oh, I just sat here writing for six hours straight. And I just wrote a chapter yesterday about breaking up your writing into little chunks.”
And then you have to learn—I know how these people feel. I have just made a desk job for myself over the last week. And how can I take care of that? And how can I set a timer so I remind myself to wake—to wake up—to stand up every 30 minutes and go walking for five minutes because that’s something that’s in the book. And we went back. And sometimes, we had to rewrite chapters just so we could take what we learned out of writing the book and put it right back into the book.
DrMR: Well said. I like that.
DrMR: Well, cool. This has been a really nice conversation, guys. I appreciate you taking the time. And tell people where they can learn more about you or track down the book or plug in if they wanted to connect with you guys.
RD: Well, the book comes out October 1st. But we’re going to be—there’s going to be the pre-release. And there’s going to be some really nice bonus items that come with it if you get the book before—order the book before publication.
But you can find us on EatWellMoveWell.com. And there’s a link right there for the book. The book is right there on the homepage—Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well: 52 Ways to Feel Better in a Week. And it’s got all the information right there—all about us, all about the book.
DrMR: Sweet. Well, there you have it, folks. Roland and Galina. And again, thank you guys for taking the time. And keep me abreast of what you’ve got going on. If anything new or exciting happens in the future, let me know. And maybe we’ll do a follow-up.
GD: We’ll keep you posted.
RD: Absolutely. Thank you very much.
DrMR: You’re welcome, guys. Thanks again. Take care.
RD: Thank you.
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