What do you do if you fear eating off-plan food or you can’t go a day without supplements? Or, alternatively, if you can’t seem to make any healthy changes stick? You may need to reexamine your relationship with food and health. Today we speak with Kevin Geary, who has developed a great program to help you self-assess where this might be coming from and, more importantly, what you can do to overcome it.
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Tools for Getting Past Diet and Health Obsession with Kevin Geary
Dr. Michael Ruscio: Hey, everyone! Welcome to Dr. Ruscio Radio. This is Dr. Ruscio. Before we get into the body of the show, I wanted to briefly talk about histamine intolerance, or histamine sensitivity. Now, what do you do if you’ve improved your diet, treated imbalances in the gut like SIBO or candida, but you still don’t feel fully improved? Well, histamine intolerance might be the missing component for many people.
Now, a recent study found that nearly 25%, actually about 23%, of those with unexplained digestive symptoms had histamine intolerance. And there are certain symptoms that really fit this profile. And I provide a nice, concise summary of this study in the May edition of the Future of Functional Medicine Review clinical newsletter.
Also, in the January edition, I detail a case study that perfectly exemplifies this, where a patient had improved her diet, had been diagnosed with SIBO, had been treated for SIBO, saw improvement, and then started to regress. And the major point that was crucial for the successful management of this case was determining that histamine intolerance was really the issue.
And it prevented us from doing repeat SIBO retesting, other stool testing for parasites or dysbiosis, hydrogen sulfide SIBO attempted testing, even though there’s not really any value to testing, or testing for, or impaired treatment of SIFO. It really helped prevent us from going down all those channels that are much less well-defined, and allowed us to get very good results in a pretty short amount of time with a fairly cost-effective intervention. So histamine sensitivity can be the missing piece in, as much as, 25% of patients; it’s something definitely to be aware of should you have changed your diet, treated dysbiosis, and are still only partially responsive.
Again, we cover research validating this and case studies illustrating this in different editions of the Future of Functional Medicine Review. If you haven’t yet signed up for the Future of Functional Medicine Review clinical newsletter, if you sign up during the month of July, you can access your first month for only $1.00. I know we’ve had a lot of new people join our audience lately, so I wanted to make sure it was very easy for anyone new who hadn’t heard about this yet to plug in, have a look, and get onboard at a very low cost to them.
So this is my gift to you, guys. A way of saying thank you. I hope you will join a growing group who are all participating in the Future of Functional Medicine Review clinical newsletter and trying to make functional medicine more effective and more practical, and, of course, more cost-effective. To sign up, head over to DrRuscio.com/review. That’s DrRuscio.com/review. Okay, on to the rest of the show. Thanks, guys.
DrMR: Hey, everyone! Welcome to Dr. Ruscio Radio. This is Dr. Ruscio. I am here with Kevin Geary, who has been on the show in the past. Kevin, welcome back!
Kevin: Thanks for having me. Glad to be here!
DrMR: It’s good to have you back. Last time you were on, we talked about, essentially, cravings and negative or unhelpful habit patterns that people have, and what are some of the underlying items that cause them not to be able to stick with a diet plan or maintain a healthy lifestyle change. And it was actually one of my more favorite—it was probably one of my favorite podcasts, because I thought we got really deep into some of the psychology and past emotional traumas that can underlie some of these difficulties with making lasting changes. So it was really interesting.
And I wanted to have you come back on to get a little bit deeper into the program that you offer, and what that looks like and who that may be able to help, because admittedly, it’s something that I touch on with my patients, but it’s not something I go into a tremendous amount of detail in. And I would like to have a better understanding of this, because I do occasionally refer people over to your program to give them some help with that aspect.
So, I guess with that as a springboard, I know you have made some changes with, I think, you were offering a few different products. And then, you consolidated that all down into one. So can you give people, I guess, a bird’s-eye view of what the tools, or I guess now tool looks like to orient everybody?
Kevin: Yeah, for sure. So the new program that we offer—I call it a program—it’s just a community, and the community has programs inside of it. We also offer coaching and different support channels. But we had a couple of main programs. So we had Total Body Reboot, which was a program focused on transitioning people to real food, and functional movement, and better sleep, and things like that.
And then, we had Decode Your Cravings, which was focused on the psychology of eating, and helping people overcome emotional eating, and binge eating, and stress eating. And yeah, everybody has a different term for it, but the inconsistency that so many people face due to emotional stress-related reasons. And the hard part…
And by the way, we’re also developing a third program now called Instinctual Eating. And it’s based on helping people tune in to their body’s internal calculators so they can get rid of all this counting, and weighing, and food tracking obsession that so many people are engaged in. And I know that a lot of people who advocate for real food will say things like, “Well, if you switch to real food, you don’t have to count calories, you don’t have to…” But I think a lot of people still struggle with—in fact, I don’t think a lot of people—I know a lot of people still struggle with connecting with their body. And they also have a lot of fear around letting go off the calorie counting, and the tracking, and all of that. So we’re developing Instinctual Eating to help really free people from that.
And so offering these different programs, it started to become very complicated, not just on our end, but for our clients as well, because they were having to make a lot of decisions to invest. “Do I invest in all three of these programs? Can I afford to invest in all three of these programs? Which program do I do first?” And it just was a constant stream of questions.
And we would be in coaching calls with people who had purchased one program. But they hadn’t purchased the other two. And we would reference something from a program they hadn’t purchased. And now, they’re faced with another buying decision when they’re already a client. We’re already trying to help them. So I think you can see how this creates a bunch of issues.
So we decided to just whale everything down and say, “You know what we’re going to do? We’re just going to work with people. We’re just going to help. That’s all we want to do. We want to help people. We want to change people’s lives. So instead of selling all these different programs, we’re going to bundle it all into a membership community. And we’re going to call it All Access. And that’s it. You get to make one choice now. Do you want to work with us? Or not work with us?” That’s really your only choice now, because when you join All Access, you get access to everything, including the support and the coaching that comes along with it. So it’s a much better experience for people.
DrMR: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, where sometimes if you are trying to personalize, but your personalization gets too deep and it’s also an ala carte purchasing option, then it can be very hard to make the purchasing options fit as the person’s needs or wants evolve. So I think that that makes a lot of sense. And again, I know the last time you came on, we talked about the former program of Decode Your Cravings, which got into some of the psychology behind some of the difficulty with making lasting healthy changes. And I wanted to maybe dig a little bit deeper, especially into that aspect.
One of the questions I wanted to ask you—and this is more so, I guess for the audience—is what does a person typically look like? And again, I know there is individual variability, of course. But what would you say some of the key things are for someone that needs help, especially with that aspect of your offering? Maybe someone who just can’t seem to make healthy changes stick, I know is one. Can you tell us, or maybe describe what someone who needs to get into some of this self-assessment to figure out why they’re getting in their own way might look like?
Kevin: Yeah, for sure. I think you hit the nail on the head. If you are struggling with consistency, you are our target person. You are someone that we focus on helping the most. We are experts in helping people connect the dots between their good intentions and their day-to-day behavior, right. That’s where the gap is for most people, and we bridge that gap.
Now, we bridge that gap a lot of different ways. But the underlying point is, we bridge that gap. When, if you look at the health and fitness industry, as a whole, it’s about 95% the failure rate in bridging that gap. Now, don’t get me wrong. Like, the health and fitness industry does a lot of great things. And they are really good at helping people find short-term success. We’re talking six months or less. But after the six-month mark, success tends to start plummeting. After the two-year mark, it’s almost non-existent. And so our entire focus is on the long game. It’s post-six months and then post-two years. That’s where we want to have the most impact for people.
Now, we do offer guidance on short-term tactics, as well, because you can’t get somebody to the long term if you can’t get them to the short term. But everything we do, I think the important point to highlight is that everything that we do is focused on long-term success. We do have a culture of celebrating small wins and celebrating every step of the process, which is very important. But from a coaching perspective, on our end, we’re really only interested in people succeeding long term.
So if you have a history of dieting, you’re a primary candidate. If you struggle, like I said, with trusting your body, with trusting the process that you’ve bought into—maybe they’ve heard you talk about real food. And they’ve heard you talk about different things that they can improve. But maybe they’re still on the fence, or they’re still confused, or they still are like, “Wait, but you know, my doctor said X. And I…” They’re just not sure which way to go. We can really help them tune in and connect with their core needs, because when you do that, when you get down to the baseline principles, and you understand that your body is very resilient, your body can be trusted.
Most of the people that we work with, they struggle to listen to their body. And they haven’t felt like they can trust their body for a very, very long time. And that’s why they’ve relied on things like diets, and calorie counting, and food tracking, because they feel like without those things, they’re just going to go completely off the rails. And their weight is going to balloon up. And their health is going to get out of control. And so they rely on this obsession and these conventional tactics to try to stay on point. But really, they’re enslaved to those things. And so, we really dismantle all of the faulty programming and the toxic programming, and get people back to basics, and get people back to trusting their body and themselves and leading an authentic life going forward.
DrMR: Yeah, you make some great points there, Kevin. And I just want to restate how important it is to learn to trust your body. And it’s definitely something that I am routinely doing in the clinic, which is just parroting back to people the lesson they should be taking away from their own experience and reassuring them that it’s okay to do that. And maybe one example that’s gut-focused is, when people go into a reintroduction after the low-FODMAP diet, they sometimes are very nervous about eating some high-FODMAP foods. And they’ll ask me, “Well, I’ve been eating a lot of cauliflower lately and avocado. And I feel fine. Is that okay?” Yes, if you’re eating it, and you feel okay–
Kevin: Trust your body.
DrMR: Yes, really. And I routinely will tell patients a lot of my answers to these questions are just going to be questions back to you, which are, “Does that feel okay to you? Or does that not feel okay to you?” Because your response, your body’s answers, are really going to be the ultimate parameter for how we proceed going forward.
Kevin: Yeah. No, that’s perfect.
DrMR: So I totally agree with you. And yeah, there’s a lot to be said for helping people to trust their own body, trust their own experience, or find their own truth.
Big-Picture View of Process
Now, let’s go into a little more of how your process works because, of course, when people come see me, I have my own process. I think people listening to this probably understand that it’s a somewhat standard clinical process that tries to be practical and cost-effective. But again, the area that I don’t have a chance to get into a lot of depth with is, especially if people are, for lack of a more diplomatic term, maybe getting in their own way, because they have these self-sabotaging beliefs or programs that are running in their head.
So I’d like you to maybe give us a little bit of an emphasis on that component of it. But can you give us a bird’s-eye overview of someone plugs into your process, and what does this look like for them? And who I’m picturing in my head when I ask you this question is someone who comes in, and they just cannot, for a—pulling from my recent example—they cannot learn to just listen to their own body. Or they cannot let go of some of the supplements that they’re on because they’re so fearful that if they come off a supplement, they’re going to be sick. Or they can’t wrap their head around not being so strict with their diet because they’re afraid that something bad is going to happen.
They may not even have anything experiential to reinforce that, but they’re just so fearful that if they don’t follow this super rigid diet that the wheels are going to fall off of their health. So I’m asking for that person.
Hypothyroid vs Hormone Replacement Therapy
But if you could maybe answer the question in reference to them for—okay, they come over. They’re dealing with some of these things. They’re trying to improve how they look at their health. How does the process then look for them, big picture?
Kevin: Yeah, that’s a great question. And I think it’s important to start out with understanding that nothing that we do is one-size-fits-all. So immediately, from the very start, when somebody signs up, we have them do a profile form. And they’re probably used to this process, right. But our profile form is online. It’s interactive. Like, based on if they answer a certain way to one question, it can ask them a different question that we may not ask somebody else. It’s all programmed in so that their responses lead to other follow-up questions. We can get a little bit deeper, and so on and so forth.
But the whole point of that process is to, number one, make sure that we understand a lot of what the person is struggling with: their history, the goals that they want to reach. We also want to make sure that they’re in the right mindset. One of the biggest things that people need to bring to this program with them is patience. And that’s one of the hardest things to sell people on. And I joke all the time and Zack jokes all that time that we could be gazillionaires if we just lied to people like so many in the industry. And what we’re really telling people is, “Hey, you know, this is a program for serious people who want to do long-term work and win long-term. This is not a quick fix. We’re not selling Band-Aids. We’re not selling magic pills or anything like that, right.”
So if you come into the program, first thing you need is patience. And there’s a lot of good reasons for why you need patience. In order to succeed long term, sometimes it’s not just necessary, sometimes it’s critical to take a couple steps backwards in terms of the score card. What everybody in the mainstream considers to be the score card and winning, it might be required to take a couple steps back before you take some steps forward. And if you don’t have patience to do that, then if you’re trying to race to the finish line, so to speak, that is an example of getting in your own way.
DrMR: So what’s an example of that, Kevin? Not to cut you off. But what’s an example, because that’s interesting?
Kevin: Yeah. So okay, you mentioned people coming to the program who might be a little bit perfectionistic, right.
Kevin: So what is the first thing that someone with perfectionism is going to want to do? They’re going to say, “Okay, well, you’ve got a Total Body Reboot over here. And you’ve got Decode Your Cravings. So I’m going to get started on Decode Your Cravings. But I also really want to know, because I’m a perfectionist, I need my meals to be according to what you want me to do, right. I need all three of my meals each day to be perfect. So tell me exactly what I need to do in that regard.” And if I come in and I say, “Well, hold on, let’s talk about this for a minute. Let’s talk about your past history with doing this…”
And you see the people who tend to dive in head first and are very perfectionistic are very successful for a very short amount of time. And then, as soon as there’s a mistake, a lot of shame comes in, a lot of guilt comes in, a lot of fear, a lot of regret. And then, the wheels start coming off of the bus, right. So my advice to them is, “Okay, well, instead of—I love that you want to implement a lot of the nutrition stuff. But instead of trying to go gung ho on three meals, I only want you to reboot one meal.”
And then, I typically ask them, “What is the easiest meal each day for you to reboot?” Now, most people will say, “Breakfast.” So I’ll say, “Okay, just do that. I don’t want you to worry about what happens at lunch or dinner. I just want you to worry about breakfast.” And for them, if you’re a perfectionist and you don’t have patience, that’s not good enough, because you’re going to be saying, “Wait up. I need to get more success. And I need to get faster success. And this isn’t going to get it done, right. I have to do all my meals, right.”
So this is an example of taking a couple of steps backwards, where they would see success as rebooting three meals every single day, according to what it says in Total Body Reboot. You’re asking them to only do one out of those three. They feel like that’s going backwards, right, whereas, that actually frees them in a lot of ways and allows us to do what needs to be done in order to be successful long term, because if they’re honest with themselves—and we can have this conversation with them—they’re going to realize that every time they go gung ho, perfectionistic, it ends in a fiery crash, a failure. And so why would we do that again.
DrMR: You’re reconditioning them not be an overachiever, so to speak.
Kevin: Yeah. And that would be with the perfectionist types, which perfectionism is rampant in this game. So I would say two thirds of the people that we work with describe themselves as perfectionists. There’s a lot of black and white thinking involved. And so all of that has to be unraveled in order to truly get people to success, because that level of perfectionism causes so much stress and chaos in a person’s life. They’re basically micromanaging their lifestyle.
And you can’t sustain that. It’s impossible. And that’s not a healthy relationship with food, or body, or self. So it’s dooming them to failure. So we have to unravel that a little bit, and that requires some patience and it requires some trust. So if someone’s not in the right mindset, we’re not going to be able to help them. So getting them in the right mindset and making sure they’re in the right mindset when they say, “I’m ready to go,” that is the number one key.
DrMR: Yeah, I like that. And I think that’s pretty dead on, because I see some of that in the clinic, where there’s a small percentage of people, in my practice that is, maybe 15%, maybe 20% of people where we see pretty marked improvements when I just let them know it’s okay not to be so strict and just obsessive over their diet. And when they finally accept that and they finally loosen up their grip a little bit, they actually start to enjoy their life a lot more. They feel a lot better. And that can be a huge turning point for a lot of people. So sometimes these—I don’t know, I guess resetting of the psychological sail can be very helpful for people. I’ve definitely seen that in my own practice.
Kevin: Yeah, absolutely. And to get back to the process when somebody comes in. So they go through that initial period where we’re looking at their history. We’re looking at their goals. We’re making sure that they’re in the right mindset. The next thing that they’re going to do is they’re going to go into the actual curriculum, which is module-based. And they’re going to start with the very first module. And they’re going to start working through that.
So the modules are a combination of information and insight. We want people to know why they have the challenges that they have and how everything fits together. But also, aside from the information, are some interactive assessments. And this is how we really personalize the program to each individual. So we are going to outline the basic core issues. And then, they’re going to do assessments to figure out exactly which part of those issues apply to them. Aside from that, they’re going to be doing, and it may be assessments. It may be workbooks.
But aside from that, they’re going to be participating in some peer-to-peer groups that we have. Now, a lot of people use Facebook for their groups. And we tried this for a little while. And Facebook just doesn’t do the job for us. We were not able to create the culture that we wanted to create on Facebook. So we actually used an app called Telegram. And this allows you to create private, secure groups. And since switching to Telegram, the engagement in our groups has gone up over 1,000%, easily over 1,000%. So that’s amazing.
DrMR: So what’s different, Kevin, about Telegram, compared to Facebook?
Kevin: So Telegram is a much faster-paced platform. And so it’s basically like a live chat. But you can do all of the, kind of all of the same stuff you can do on a text message, where you can embed videos, you can embed pictures. So there’s constantly people taking pictures of the meals that they’re making. Videos of their fitness activities that they’re doing. Just random stuff. People will put in just a picture of themselves to say hi to everybody or good morning.
And then, they’re typing messages back and forth. You can also private message people. So all of our clients have the ability to private message one another. So very often, people will connect with other people in the main group. And then, they’ll decide to become accountability partners, for example. And so they’ll create a private messaging thread together. So it has a lot of functionality like that.
It’s also completely off of Facebook, which is great because not everybody wants to use Facebook, number one. But number two, you know this is the place where I go for support for my lifestyle. And there’s no pictures of people’s cats. And there’s no politics. And notifications aren’t dinging all the time, right. There’s a dedicated app for it on people’s phone. So they have access to it in their pocket at all times. It’s just been a much, much, much better experience.
Now, aside from that, we also have forums embedded on the website, as well. So if people want like a slower experience where they want to just write a thread and collect responses to that specific thread, they can do that in the forums. So, there’s a slow way to get help, and a more organized and searchable way. And then, there’s the fast, live interactive way. And people get to choose. Most people do both.
Aside from that, we also have weekly coaching calls. So people can get on. We have a coaching call for the nutrition, fitness, lifestyle side of things. And then, we have another coaching call that’s specific to the eating psychology side of things. So people will get to RSVP for whichever calls they want to join. And they can get on the phone with us once a week or twice a week in a group format. And we limit those to five or six people. So we make sure that everybody gets an adequate amount of time to bring up their challenges.
We actually, also, start every call with wins the people have had, because we have a culture. Our culture’s really focused on two things. It’s focused on execution. So we have a culture of execution. You have to execute. This is not a community where you come to learn. This is a community where you come to execute and actually change your life.
And then, the second thing, besides execution, is celebration. So it’s very common. If you look at the behavior patterns of people who try to do long-term lifestyle change who have a pattern of failure and frustration, they don’t celebrate wins. Or they don’t even recognize wins. Or they do recognize wins and just refuse to celebrate them because, again they have this black and white view of what success is or this perfectionistic view where they’re only willing to celebrate when they reach their end goal, right, where everything along the line’s not really good enough.
“Yeah, it was a win. But I got so much, you know, further to go.” And then, people ask, “Why?” “Like, I can’t keep momentum. I can’t stay motivated.” And I have to tell them point blank. “Well, you can’t stay motivated and you don’t have momentum because you murder momentum and motivation at every turn. Every time you do something great, you’re talking about how it’s not good enough. And you’re not celebrating it. And you have so much more work to do. What better way to kill your momentum and motivation.”
So we have a culture of execution. And then, we have a culture of celebration. Every win, big or small, gets celebrated so that we continue. And we actually harvest that momentum and motivation, rather than killing it.
DrMR: Yeah, what’s that old saying, “The joy is the journey?”
Kevin: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And if you don’t have patience, that’s going to be tough to swallow.
Focus Within Modules
DrMR: So coming back to the overview and making it a little bit more relevant, or referenced to the perfectionist, they’re going to start off with filling out a profile form to help understand who they are coming into this and what their needs may be. Then, they’re going to start doing some educational modules that are also done with a personalized assessment to guide the focus and the takeaway or the emphasis of the modules. And then, along with that, they’ll be able to connect with a community of people for support, interaction, positivity, and also have access to these weekly small group coaching sessions.
Kevin: Yes. And then, also the modules are—s,o aside from information, and assessment, and personalization, all of the modules end with executions. So they’re telling you very clearly what to do day-to-day basis. Like, what to implement. But the coaching calls and the support group are an extra level. It’s not just for support. It’s an extra level of personalization so that people can say, “Here’s what’s going on in my life. How does this or how do I apply what I’m learning to this specific situation?” And we’re right there to say, “Well, this is how.”
DrMR: I love the community piece, Kevin, because I think that’s something that everyone is struggling with now, as I think our society and our culture is just becoming much more isolation-based. And people just don’t have a ton of connection with people. Or if they do, coming back to Facebook, it’s not this deep connection. It’s just this superficial—someone posts something on a diet. You like that diet. You chime in. Maybe one or two people will respond back. But that’s not really people with a like-mindset with like-goals trying to arrive at the same like kind of endpoint. So I really like that community part, because I think that’s a huge missing piece for a lot of people.
Changes in Clients
So something I’m curious about…Now, unless there’s another significant step, and if there is, please let’s go into that. But if not, what are some of the changes that you’re seeing in people? And maybe we can take the example of a perfectionist and continue forward with that. But yeah, if there’s another step, what’s that? If not, what are some examples, in terms of changes, that you’ve seen?
Kevin: Yeah, so the biggest change, the most important change is freeing people from the chaos, and the obsession of the tactics and the lifestyle that they’ve been following. And I think it’s important for people—I don’t remember if I mentioned this the first time I was on, but if you succeed in the chaos, obsession, micromanager model of lifestyle, what happens is—and this is the first module, actually of Decode Your Cravings. We talk about this. It’s called the Diet Trap—what you gain when you win that game is you get a body you love and a life that you hate.
And I’ve interviewed enough people on my podcast who have won that game, mostly fitness models, and competitors, and things like that who will attest to that. That that was the most miserable time in their life where they looked amazing, by all standards. Had tons of followers and fans on Instagram, and Facebook, and all of these places. And they hated everything about their life.
And that’s what we really want to avoid with people. We want people to reach their goals, of course. If people have weight-loss goals and really body fat-loss goals, we want to help people reach those. But we want to help people reach those goals without being chaotic, without being obsessive, without being perfectionistic. And really, if you ask the people that we work with, their biggest takeaway is, “I don’t have to think about food all the time anymore—
DrMR: I love that.
Kevin: I don’t have to think about fitness all the time anymore. Like, I’m free to just live my life. And things are going in the right direction. They may not be going as fast as if I was crash dieting,” but they know where that ends. They know that that ends in a fiery crash. So they have completely gotten okay with being the tortoise in the “Tortoise and the Hare,” right. And winning the long game and celebrating every step of the way because they actually enjoy the journey. That’s the biggest misconception.
Most people have this association with getting healthy and changing their body that this process is miserable. And that’s the main message that we want to get across, is that it doesn’t have to be miserable. It can be absolutely enjoyable. And I tell people upfront, “Look, you are never going to do another fitness activity that you don’t absolutely 100% want to do. Again, we’re not going to make you do or even tell you it’s necessary to do any fitness activities that you don’t like. We’re going to help you craft a completely, 100%, intrinsically, motivated fitness practice.” That right there, is freeing for 80%, 90% of the population.
Now, I know there’s a lot of people out there who are like, “I love fitness! I love exercise!” Right. And they want to do all the conventional stuff. And that’s perfectly fine. But there’s a lot of people out there who don’t want to do the conventional stuff. They don’t want to do another DVD workout. They don’t want to hire a personal trainer. They don’t want to slave away at exercise. They would much rather do other things that are physical that they enjoy. Or try new things if they don’t have any already. And that’s something that we help people with. And it frees them from that.
On the nutrition side of things, once people get out of the perfectionistic model—and you just attested to this a minute ago—they’re committing mostly to real food, but they’re not obsessing about being a perfectionist. They’re not obsessing about the oils things are cooked in when they go out to eat at a restaurant, and so on, and so forth. The liberation that comes from that adds so much to the consistency and the enjoyment factor. And you realize that, “Hey, you know, when it’s my birthday, I don’t have to go Google Paleo cakes, you know. Or I can just eat some cake, right, because I’m a normal person.” That’s what everybody says, “I just want to be a normal person.” That’s what we give them.
DrMR: I love that. And with the exercise piece, I completely agree. And I routinely will tell people, if they’re not already exercising consistently, to start with whatever they find enjoyable, because they’ll say, “Well, shouldn’t I not be doing this because I think I may have adrenal fatigue? Or shouldn’t I not be doing this because of X, Y, or Z?” Because they read all these things on the Internet about certain forms of exercise being better or worse for certain conditions.
And I think they forget that you can obsess over the details, but no exercise compared to any exercise is way better than no exercise. And if you were to compare the type of exercise you think is best for the condition that you have, compared to the type of exercise you think is the worse for what you have, either one of those will still put you at a more positive position than if you did nothing at all. So I just tell people, “Don’t obsess over the details. Just get into the habit of doing something that you enjoy. Once it’s a habit, once you’re doing it, we could maybe get into some of the details if you wanted to. But just get started and start doing something.”
Kevin: Perfect. And this is where perfectionism comes back in. And maybe people consider themselves to be a perfectionist. But let me tell you, you’ve got some perfectionism going on if this applies to you. There are so many people out there who are twos and threes. If we’re going on a scale of 1 to 10, there are twos and threes. They don’t want to be a seven because that’s not a ten. So they’re a three right now. They could be a seven with very minimal effort and changes. But they don’t want to do that because a seven is not a ten. They want to go all the way. And they’re not okay with a seven and an eight.
And I tell them all the time, “I’m not a 10. The good news is you don’t have to be a 10 to win.” But they’re not okay with not being a 10 because of that perfectionism, right. So they’ll just do nothing. They’ll just say, “Hey, you know, I’ll sit here and be a three. Or I’ll be a 10 for 3 months. And then, I’ll go back to being a three because I couldn’t sustain that.” And that’s what I tell people, “You know, it’s not sustainable to try to reach 10 all the time. You can be happy and you can be healthy as a seven and an eight. So just do that.”
DrMR: I completely agree. And I think that has broad applicability in social relationships. And this, I think, this would apply to friendships, partnerships, dating, or if you’re already married, the health of your connection. And I think of an example of a friend of mine who was dating. I met this gentleman a girlfriend of mine was dating, good looking guy. And I asked her a little bit later on, “You know, how are things going with so and so?” a few weeks later. And she said, “Oh, I ended up breaking it off.”
And I asked, “Why?” And she said, “Because the guy wouldn’t ever be up past ten o’clock. Wouldn’t ever have a drink. Wouldn’t ever eat off plan. He was so religious about his workouts and about CrossFit.” And she said, “I’m all for being healthy. But it was just exhausting because there was nothing outside of the box that he could do. And we’d go out with some of my friends. And he wouldn’t even have a drink. And you know, it would be 9:30, and he’d want to go home.” And she said, “He just had no ability to switch out of his strict regimen.” And she said, “Even though he was a good-looking guy who was very fit,” she goes, “I just, I couldn’t do it.” So there you have maybe someone who’s trying to be a 10 in one regard, not realizing it’s making them like a four in another regard.
Kevin: Absolutely. That’s a perfect, perfect example. And most people listening know that they don’t want to live that way. And they tell me that all the time. They tell me that, “Look, when I’m in a restaurant, I don’t want to be the weird person, you know. I don’t want to be the person who has to create all of these special orders for the waiter. I don’t want to stand out. I don’t want people to question what I’m doing. I just want to enjoy myself while I’m there.”
And so at one level, they know that they don’t want to be that person. But I think on a more subconscious level, they’re still striving in a way to be perfect in many, many other regards. And so that’s another example of people getting in their own way, where you start to show them, “Well, wait a minute. You’re being a perfectionist here, here, and here, even though you’re saying that that obvious perfectionist over there isn’t somebody that you want to be, right.”
DrMR: Wow, well said. Well said.
Diet Necessity or Choice?
DrMR: And something else, for the people listening to this who maybe have some legitimate dietary restrictions, it’s not to say we’re dismissing or discounting the fact that some people may have to avoid certain foods. But I think what we want to all do is we want to make sure that anything that we’re avoiding or we’re doing, we’ve clearly established that we have to do. I can’t tell you how many people think they can never have a bite of gluten. And when we finally get them to do a little bit of experimentation, they have the ability to tolerate some gluten, or some soy, or some dairy, or some FODMAPS, or some processed oils, or whatever it is.
So the point is, if you have to live with some dietary restrictions, that’s okay. But let’s make sure that you’ve qualified that those are actually what you have to do, and not that you’ve just avoided those things completely out of fear and you haven’t found your own truth relative to those things.
Kevin: Right, absolutely. So I preach on intrinsic motivation, right. That our diet should be intrinsically motivated based on how we feel, how we want to perform, how we want to think, and getting people to connect with that. And there’s a lot of other aspects to that, as well. There’s probably a lot of people listening who are like, “Wait, a minute. I could be intrinsically motivated to eat healthy?” Yes, right. It’s a process, but yes.
So when somebody goes to a restaurant—when I’m talking about these examples, I’m not saying that when my clients go and eat at restaurants, they’re always just ordering what everybody else orders. Very often, they could be ordering something specific and strategic. But it’s intrinsically motivated. It’s not because of some arbitrary restriction that’s been placed on them. It’s not because there are rules in the program that we have. It’s because they legitimately want that food item and want to feel great. And they know what happens when they eat other things. They don’t feel well. And there’s a lot of people who have gained the confidence, or never had an issue with people asking questions about it, or asking for special requests, and things like that. And it’s all stuff that we work on. Absolutely.
But at the same time, and like you said, if there isn’t a non-arbitrary reason, if there’s a real reason, then, of course, you have to avoid those things. But you’re intrinsically motivated to do that because you know what happens when you eat those things, right. It’s not an extrinsic factor that’s being applied to you like so many people are used to. And so if you tolerate gluten, and you’re out with friends, and you just want to order something—because you’re there for enjoyment. You’re not there for nutrition. You’re not there for biohacking. This is one thing that you do every few weeks. You just want to order something, and enjoy yourself, and be there with other people—then do that. Do that. Be happy.
And the stress—I tell people all the time—the stress that comes with trying to be perfect in these situations, because a lot of people have anxiety when they get invited out to eat. “Oh, what am I going to order? Where are we going to go? Are they going to have anything that’s, you know, blah, blah, blah?” It keeps going, going, going, right. All of that anxiety is far more destructive to their health than anything they would have ordered and eaten when they were out with friends, if they would have just enjoyed themselves.
DrMR: Completely agree. It’s almost like the beauty of not being so strict all the time is it actually leaves this reserve for you to make the decision to be a little bit more strict with your diet out of your own accord. And what I mean by that is, using myself as an example, I generally eat healthy. Just what you said, Kevin, out of intrinsic motivation. I feel better. It feels good to me. I don’t have any weird blood sugar regulation issues, where I’m dependent upon food because all I do is eat a highly-processed diet.
So you go through that process of getting yourself on a healthy diet. You don’t have a ton of cravings. And if you also have a healthy psychology or outlook on your diet and you eat healthy most of the time, you can have your off-plan meals at your leisure, but then, also feel good about when you want to not have an off-plan meal.
And, as an example, I was golfing yesterday. I did nine holes of golf. And me and my buddy got something to eat at the clubhouse. He ordered a burger with fries. I had already had a pretty crappy meal on Friday night. And so I said, “You know, I think I’m going to get the salmon and a salad.” And it was just what I wanted. And so I think because I left myself that leeway—the other night I got that fix in to have that juicy, heavy hamburger and fries—and I satisfied that.
And then, I’m sitting there with the ability to have whatever I want. Psychologically, I didn’t feel like I needed to do one thing or the other. But just feeling my body, I said, “Hmm, you know, I actually am more so craving something healthy.” And the nice thing about it is when you leave yourself that leeway, habitually you don’t feel the need to restrict, binge, restrict, binge. It’s more so, you just satisfy those cravings as they come up. And that way, they never get too out of hand.
Kevin: Yeah. And so I think it’s important to point out here, too, that what you’re displaying in your behavior pattern is more in line with somebody who has a very healthy relationship with food. And so there’s probably a lot of people out there who are saying, “Okay, well, I get it. I am intrinsically motivated to eat real food because I’ve done this before, where I have real-food meals and I feel so much better. I feel outstanding. But you know what? I still struggle with consistency in doing that. Something calls me to the processed hyperpalatable foods. Something overtakes me and I just feel out of control a lot of times, more often than not, where I, I can’t order the thing that’s going to make me feel good. I always trend towards ordering destructive foods.”
And that is the biggest clue that you are struggling with emotional eating. And that your relationship with food, and probably your relationship with body and self, needs to be worked on. And that’s why it’s very important when you’re trying to make long-term lifestyle change, that you work within a program that respects that, and understands it, and has a process for addressing that.
DrMR: Good point.
Kevin: Yeah, I’m glad you brought that up.
Types & Tricks on Psychology
DrMR: So with that, Kevin, I’m so glad that you made that point because you’re right. It’s important for me not to think that everyone can have a healthy relationship with food, as I do, without maybe needing to go through some work to get themselves to that healthy relationship with food.
So that’s a great lead into one of the final questions I wanted to ask you, which are—I think people get the physiological aspect of a lot of this, and I know that you address that in your program. I think we’ve discussed this on the show. I think a lot of our listeners probably understand the physiological aspect of helping them get past cravings and make better long-term decisions. But what are some things that you may be able to offer, pearls, details, tips or tricks, or just things that you find really helpful within your program specifically, on the psychological aspect of this?
Kevin: Yeah, so there’s a lot of different things that we could talk about. It’s a pretty complicated topic. But one that I will bring up that I don’t hear talked about a lot, even from other people who are really deep into eating psychology and trying to help people in that regard, I like talking about the concept of being triggered. And because I think this is talked about in various superficial ways, and I have a process for taking it much, much deeper.
So typically, what will happen is somebody will binge or they’ll just make a destructive choice. And they label that as, “I was triggered.” And we hear that term all of the time. And in a lot of ways, it’s become a negative term. I don’t consider it to be a negative term. It’s a term. That’s what happened, right. Your behavior was not in line with your good intentions, as I alluded to in the beginning. But they don’t actually go into like, what does that actually mean? And what can we do with it?
So, in terms of being triggered, a lot of the general advice is to, “All right, you’re triggered. Here’s what you need to do. Drink a glass of water, right. Wait 15 minutes. Phone a friend. Go for a walk. You know, basically, do all these things to distract yourself because if you don’t distract yourself, you’re going to make a destructive decision. So you can distract yourself. And hopefully everything will work itself out.”
I take an approach of, “No, no, we need to understand why we’re being triggered. And not just why we’re being triggered. But exactly, what part of us was triggered.” So there’s this concept called internal personas. And it’s basically that you don’t have one personality. If you look at the way that you show up in the world, you have a bunch of different personalities. And so even if somebody is displaying perfectionism, as we talked about, I make it very clear to people that you are not a perfectionist. In fact, every time somebody says, “I am a perfectionist,” I make sure to step in and address that. There’s a part of you that is a perfectionist. There’s a part of you that is not a perfectionist.
Now, there’s a bunch of different internal personas. There’s a people pleaser. There’s a compulsive one. There’s an inner rebel. There’s a whole laundry list of them. Not everybody displays all of the possibilities. So this is one of the assessments that we do. We do an assessment where we identify about a half dozen or so of the internal personas that show up consistently in somebody’s life.
And so, when somebody is triggered, one of these internal personas has basically taken the wheel. And so if you have a perfectionist that shows up a lot, if the perfectionist takes the wheel, if you’re triggered, then your—what we call—your authentic self, that like cool, calm, collected CEO version of you, is no longer in the driver’s seat, you’re going to display perfectionistic behavior. If your inner rebel is triggered, and your inner rebel takes the wheel, you are going to display rebellious behavior.
And often what happens is these internal personas will be in constant competition and fighting. So if you’re in a triggered state where that authentic self is not in control, there could be two competing personas, like an inner rebel competing with a perfectionist, because if you look at those two things, if you have both of those, they don’t really go together. Like, if the perfectionist is trying to take the wheel, the inner rebel feels oppressed by that perfectionist. And so it’s going to scream a little bit louder. And it’s going to be chaos. And your behavior, as it displays in the world, is going to be chaos.
And people describe this all the time. It’s like, “I saw myself going into the pantry. I saw myself grabbing the cupcakes. I saw myself eating that. And I couldn’t stop. I could see myself. I could see all of this happening. But I was powerless to stop it.” Well, you were triggered, right.
And so we go into, “What are these internal personas that continue to show up over and over in your life? Why are you getting triggered? What situations are causing the triggering to happen? What about your emotional metabolism? What about your physical, mental, and emotional resources?” Because at the end of the day, if you have enough physical, mental, and emotional resources to deal with the stress that’s coming in, you typically don’t get triggered. The triggered state happens when you’re out of resources. You’re out of physical, mental, and emotional resources. And you’re done.
And you know what? If you have a relationship with food, where you use food for comfort, control, or coping, that’s exactly where you’re going to go when you’re triggered. So you can be triggered in a lot of ways. But the people that I work with use food for comfort, control, and coping. So that’s always something that’s present when they’re triggered, right. So instead of just telling somebody, “Hey, you’re triggered,” we can actually go into, “All right here are the internal personas that show up over, and over, and over again for you. Here’s why they show up.”
Because when you identify an internal persona like a perfectionist, or a people pleaser, or an inner rebel, you can see the exact factors that would trigger that type of persona. And you can start to look for those patterns showing up in the person’s life and actually deal with the inputs so that we can stop triggering that specific persona. And so we teach people how to put their authentic self back in the driver’s seat and keep it there.
Ideally, what would happen is if you get in a situation that would typically trigger your inner rebel, instead of your inner rebel taking the wheel, your inner rebel is more like an advisor, where it sounds an alarm. And it’s like, “Hold on. Hold on. We should probably be rebelling against this. We should not be doing this.” And you can hear that and say, “You know what? I think you’re right.” And take a more measured approach to change versus just letting the internal rebel take the wheel. And everything goes off the cliff, because the inner rebel and all these personas, they’re not really calm, cool, and collected. They’re freaking out. That is the triggered state, right. So you display a lot of destructive behavior when you’re triggered.
So this is the type of thing where when you put somebody through these assessments and you show them what’s actually going on in their head and in their heart, they can do something with this in the real world, instead of just, “Oh, I’m going to drink a glass of water. And I’m going to phone a friend. And I’m going to hope it all goes away.”
DrMR: Right. Yeah, that’s incredibly well said, Kevin. And I can tell that you definitely are doing this day after day because you just speak to it from such a practical, but profound perspective. And I definitely hope that, as people are listening to this, they’re having a lot of “Aha’s” and a lot of resonating thoughts, because I’m certain that there’s a lot of people out there who are struggling with these same exact things.
Kevin: Yeah, for sure. And it’s hard to talk about it in like just made-up terms where we don’t have a real person. I’d love to have a real person who we can go into this with. And then, you can see really where all the dots connect. When you’re trying to just make up a person, it’s harder to do that. But yeah, this is exactly—And this is why we have the coaching calls, right. This is why we have the support groups, because this is the type of interaction that people need and they crave. Once they have gone through it a little bit, they crave it, right. And so they’re showing up every week for the coaching calls. They’re interacting with other people in the groups. And they see just how powerful all of this stuff is.
Episode Wrap Up
DrMR: Yeah. No, I love it. I love it. Kevin, the last question I wanted to ask you, a little bit unusual, but hopefully, this will be a fun one for you to answer. What’s maybe the—and using these terms loosely—but what’s maybe the least healthy, but most fun or fulfilling thing that you’ve done lately?
Kevin: Oh, let’s see. Hmm. Well, I’ll tell you what I’m about to do. Will that work?
DrMR: Yeah, that’s fine.
Kevin: Okay. Good. So my parents just bought a condo. Actually, no, I’m going to go back. This is perfect. This is perfect. Okay. We don’t have to do one in the future. We can do one that just happened.
DrMR: All right.
Kevin: So I tested for—I’m big in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. And I just tested for my purple belt. It was last Saturday, actually. And so leading up to the exam—so I’ll just explain the exam. There’s two parts. So part number one is you meet with the instructor. And you’re just demonstrating techniques that you know what you’re doing. And, of course, they’ve been watching you in class the whole time.
The second part of the exam is called an ironman. So it’s basically a two-hour test where you show up. And everybody from the school is invited. So it could be anywhere from 40 people to 80 people. And you basically have to grapple with each person one after the other. You don’t get any rest. And you just go from beginning to end. Starting with the white belts. Ending with the black belts. They come at you one after the other. If somebody can’t submit you or you can’t submit them, they’ll call time. And bring in the next person because we don’t want to be there all day. But basically, an hour and a half to two hours is about the length of just nonstop grappling, right. So I knew this was coming.
DrMR: Brutal, brutal.
Kevin: Yeah, brutal. And I knew this was coming. So I was intrinsically motivated. By the way, if you have activities that you love—this is a great lesson for people. If you have activities that you love, that you’re intrinsically motivated to do and you want to perform well in them, guess what? That ties in to all of the other healthy lifestyle aspects, such as, “Hey, I want to make sure I’m getting a lot of sleep. I want to make sure I’m recovering well. I want to make sure that my diet’s really on point because I know that’s going to impact how I perform.”
So the few weeks leading up to this ironman, I was like way more on point than at any other time in my recent life just because I was so motivated to perform well at this event. And so I spent those weeks training. Eating awesome. Sleeping all the time. Making sure recovery was great. I did the ironman. And the next morning, I was like, “You know what? I feel like some doughnuts. That’s just what I feel like. I feel like some doughnuts.” And I ate like three or four doughnuts. And I was good. But that was it.
And the best part of that is, too, there’s no shame. There’s no guilt. There’s no regret. I wasn’t like biting my nails. Like, “Should I eat them? Or should I not eat them?” It was just, “Hey, I feel like doughnuts. Look at all of the deposits I’ve made in my health bank account over the last few weeks. It’s time to make a withdrawal.” And there was just a feeling of euphoria basically after going through that event. And this was just a part of the celebration of that.
DrMR: That’s awesome. Well, congratulations on that. I know that’s nothing easy. I think Rob Wolf was telling me about how he went through one of his belt tests. And he was telling me about how everyone shows up, and he had to grapple with everybody. So yeah, I can only imagine because, gosh, a few minutes of grappling feels exhausting. I can only imagine almost two hours.
Kevin: Yeah, well the better you get at it, you learn to relax. And you learn to use your weight instead of your strength. And you learn the positions. So if you get in a dominant position, you can rest a little bit. But yeah, there’s no way around it. It’s a brutal experience. But it has a ton of benefits that come with it, so…
DrMR: Awesome. Well, thanks for sharing that, Kevin. And then, where can people go—I think we put together a special URL for people—but where can they go to learn more about all the great work that you’re doing?
Kevin: Yeah, so everything is at RebootedBody.com. And if they’re interested in doing work through the academy with us, it’s DrRuscio.com/…What was it?
DrMR: I think we were going to do the URL Decode.
Kevin: Okay, so DrRuscio.com/Decode is where people should go to work with us.
DrMR: And you guys can go over there. If this resonates with you and it’s something that you think you need help with, even if you’re a current patient—when it seems appropriate, I’ve referred people over to Kevin for help here. As you can tell, I think Kevin’s done a really great job of being thoughtful, but also analytical in his analysis and recommendations, and also practical.
So I think the type of work Kevin is doing can definitely help that subset of people that are struggling with reading so much on the Internet, and just becoming fearful that they can’t live if they don’t follow all the restrictions and recommendations that they read about on the Internet. So I think your work, Kevin, is very timely. So head over there, guys, if you need help, DrRuscio.com/Decode. And, Kevin, thank you again for your work. And thank you again for taking the time to talk with us.
Kevin: Absolutely. Thanks for having me.
DrMR: You got it my, man. Talk to you later.
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