Reader Mailbag

As we step closer to the next phase of Restore/Thrive, we wanted to answer a few questions we’ve been getting from a number of people regarding training, eating, and the like. They say if one person asks the question, you can bet at least another 10 people were asking the same question in their head. Here’s the rundown from the folks we hear from:

Question: Are you still eating Keto?

Answer: In short, no. Why? There are a lot of reasons, but I’ll try to summarize the main reasons I’m not actively trying to stay in ketosis right now.

  1. I’m not trying to lose weight and I’m not metabolically broken or in need of a strategy like a ketogenic diet to fix some pathological problem.
  2. My cardiometabolic numbers look better when I’m eating a more Mediterranean-type of diet. Before you tell me I just haven’t been in ketosis long enough, stop. This is not my first rodeo with eating lots of fat and treating carbs like The Plague.
  3. I perform better when I eat carbs after my workouts. As much as I want to tell you that you can ride the low carb bandwagon to high-end human performance (I’m not talking about steady-state cycling here), it’s just not going to happen. I’m not willing to sacrifice strength, speed, and athleticism-all of which have been linked with longevity-for the sake of some magical state of metabolic existence. Ketones are not magic. They are another macro-nutrient. They have a place just like carbs, proteins, and fat. Anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you something.
  4. I’ve found that eating fewer, bigger meals-a post-workout morning meal and an evening meal, actually works better for me than trying to consume 230 grams (for you calorie-counters, that’s 2,070 calories) of dietary fat per-day.
  5. There may come a day in the not too distant future when a ketogenic diet becomes my best option for optimal health. Unitl then, I’m going to stick with what’s working.

Question: What’s the word on the Restore/Thrive Gym?

Answer: It’s 98% done. Actually, it’s ready to train in. We’ve got a few small renovation and legal pieces to finish but it looks good, it’s fun to play in. Stay tuned, we’ll have more details soon on how you can join in the fun.

Question: How do you stay in shape with a wife, 3 kids, a full-time job, a blog, and a You-Tube channel?

Answer: I make the time. There’s no secret-squirrel program, sorry to break it to you. When you want to be a good husband, good dad, give your best at your job, and be able to savor the moments that matter in the life you’re living, you’ve got to be intentional. I have a calendar. Actually I have two: a hard copy and a digital copy and I write down the dates and times I’m doing the things that matter to me and I share that with JC. My health is a priority. I read a great article from another dad who’s getting after it the other day and he related this juggling act to the story of Superman. Superman knew that kryptonite would sap him of his power to be able to serve others. He also knew that the sun was what gave him the strength he needed to be on call nearly 24/7, 365. If I set out the goal to be the best husband, dad, and physiocoach I can be, I have to identify what will interfere with me reaching those goals and what will aid me in achieving those goals. I have to identify my kryptonite and my sun. What is my sun? Exercise. Writing in a journal in the morning before everyone else in my house gets up. Drinking my coffee in silence as I drive to work. Those things empower me to give my best to my family and my work. My kryptonite? When I miss those things, I suck at everything.

Question: What does your training routine look like these days?

Answer: Deadly simple and effective: 3 days per-week/some form and combination of Squat, Hinge, Lunge, Step, Press, Pull, Get Stronger in the Trunk, Go Hard, Go Easy, Go Long, Go Short. I hesitate to give you any more detail than that as my program has evolved through 25+ years of training. What works for me may not work for you.

Question: You sleeping much these days?

Answer: It’s coming along. Young Connor Patrick (our 14 month old) has been sleeping through the night for a solid 3 months now. When we turned that corner, I originally decided to let my body try to sort things out. The first two weeks after he started sleeping through the night was a cruel joke-I kept waking up at the times he had been waking up for the past 11 months, while he dozed through the night. After two weeks of that mess, I tried to get tuned in with my bedtime routine (soft tissue rolling, avoiding screen time) and got slightly better but still not great. I’ve been experimenting with two different sleep supplements in the last two weeks, I’ll let you know more about both of them when my experiments have run their course.

That’s the short-version of everything. As always, feel free to give us a shout if you have any injury, rehab, or training-related questions.


COMMENT RULES: If you are a real person, leave your real name. We are not a clearing house for solicitors so don’t do it here. Criticism and questioning is fine, that’s how we all learn and grow. Personal attacks, name calling, and the like ARE NOT COOL-if we catch you doing it you’re gone. Other than that, have at it folks! We love hearing from followers and newcomers alike and will try to reply to as many comments and questions as we can!

The Keto Challenge, Part II

How much bacon can one man eat?

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About four years ago, in mid-2013, I was a younger middle-aged man. JC and I had one child (the advantage was still ours). I was active and apparently healthy, lifting weights 3-4 times per-week, doing some sort of cardio another 2 days a week, eating a generally clean diet, but splurging when I wanted to. Except there was one problem. I was getting heavier. And less healthy. My cholesterol numbers in particular were headed the wrong direction. I had resisted taking drugs (statins) that my doctors had recommended for the last 5 years. Eighteen months before this point I finally gave in and started taking the statins, and though my cholesterol numbers started to lower, I was not well. My energy levels were in the tank. And my testosterone levels were tanking, despite a vigorous exercise routine and a low fat, multi-grain, lean protein dominant diet.

I was desperate, to be frank. I felt like my youth was escaping me and I had no idea what I could do to reverse this train that seemed to be leaving the “Health” station and heading on to “Fat, Sick, and Slowly Dying” town.

And then, I came across an article from a blog I had been reading for the past 6 years, The Art of Manliness. This particular post was written about increasing testosterone without drugs-a big selling point for me as I wasn’t wild about the idea of taking more pills to fix problems that I had a sense of having deeper causes. Within this post there was a link to another blog post (see Internet rabbit hole: enter here) titled “The Straight Dope on Cholesterol”. This 2-part series that took me less than 2 hours to read, and in that time taught me more about the role of cholesterol in human health than I had learned in 4 years of undergraduate studies as a science major, and 3 years of graduate work in the field of medicine. The author of this series, Dr. Peter Attia, wrote a larger, multi-part series on the nuts and bolts of cholesterol metabolism and it’s relation to human health and longevity on his own blog, The Eating Academy.

Armed with more information than my primary care doctor could explain or put into context, I immediately decided to do two things:

  1. Fire my primary care physician.
  2. Eat a ketogenic diet.

Brief primer: ketogenic diet= 60-80% of calories derived from fat, 10-15% from protein, 10% or less from carbohydrates. I know, it’s crazy. Hang in there, I’ll explain.

Point #2 is what brings us to the reason for this blog post today. When I switched to a ketogenic diet a funny thing happened, I had to buy new pants. Smaller pants. Like 2 inches smaller. In 3 weeks. I was 18 pounds lighter. And all the weight I lost was around my stomach and waist.

Before you run off and start eating keto to fit in those pants you haven’t worn since high school, let me finish the story.

Six months later, I was cruising along not missing bread, pasta, rice, or any other carbohydrates, as I stuffed my face with bacon, eggs, cheese, heavy cream, full-fat milk, and meat, meat, meat. I was nearly 20 lbs lighter than I was a half-year earlier, I hadn’t lost any of my strength or stamina in the gym, and my mind was razor sharp from the time I got up until the time I went to bed. I could go 16 hours without eating, then go lift heavy weights for an hour, and slam down a “Fat Shake” (8 oz. heavy cream, 8 oz. half & half, scoop of protein powder), and be good to go for another 16 hours without feeling one pang of hunger.

Yet beneath this dramatic change, was a lingering concern. My libido had left town and hadn’t left a forwarding address. I didn’t get it. I was living each day like my hair was on fire but felt flat emotionally. Depression set in. Deep, anxiety-inducing depression. The kind that people can’t talk you out of, cheer you up from.

It was time to stop playing doctor and ask for some help. To turn the ship around, I turned to the good folks at the University of Kansas Integrative Medicine Department. And I learned a few valuable lessons.

First, no matter what you think you know about yourself or how to take care of yourself, you need an objective 3rd party to help you sort through your health concerns. I say it to my patients and clients all the time: we all need a coach. You’re not objective enough or smart enough to handle everything on your own.

Second, test, test, test, and test. And then re-test. You have to have some objective data to make important decisions about your health and figure out if you’re headed the right direction. As it relates to diet, it is extremely helpful to have advanced cardiovascular, micro-nutrient, and genetic testing done to figure out exactly what the proper air/fuel mixture is to help your body perform its best. For me, when I got those tests done we found out a few key things:

  1. Wheat, gluten, and dairy don’t agree with me (goodbye, Fat Shake) in such a way that they actually were the cause of my tanked testosterone levels.
  2. I don’t metabolize certain vitamins and minerals efficiently, and in some cases, at all. Supplementing to help support my crappy genetics was actually one of the big keys to helping me feel my best.
  3. My risk of dementia and cardiovascular disease is somewhere between 10 to 20 times higher than a person who doesn’t have my specific genetic characteristics (in this case, I am a member of the rare ApoE 4/4 allele) .

Which brings us to our conclusion. After all the testing I switched from a true ketogenic diet to a low-carbohydrate cousin of it. And for the better part of two years, I’ve motored along pretty well. But as of late, I’ve been a little less than my best, mentally and physically speaking. I can’t tell you exactly what is off, except to tell you I’m just not as sharp as I previously have been.

And so, I’m back in ketosis. But this time, we’re being a little smarter about it. No dairy fat. More mono-unsaturated oils. More non-starchy veggies. Paying more attention to the lifestyle details: good sleep hygiene, dedicated stress-relief work every day, and (gasp!) no alcohol.

You may ask me, “Won’t you miss the fruit, the sweets, the booze?”.

And I will tell you this:

Compared to living long enough to walk my daughter down the aisle at her wedding, teaching my boys to be real men, and growing old with the love of my life, no food or drink holds a candle to them.


Post-Script

If you’re curious to hear more about this story, please feel free to e-mail me directly at restorethrive@gmail.com and I’ll fill in the gaps and give you the road map I followed. And if you want to learn more about yourself before you start making dietary changes on a whim because some yahoo with a blog told you about how you could fit into your high school jeans, please get some help. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, my colleague and friend Robyn Johnson is one of the premiere integrative dietitians in the country. Click on the link, get the help you need.


COMMENT RULES: If you are a real person, leave your real name. We are not a clearing house for solicitors so don’t do it here. Criticism and questioning is fine, that’s how we all learn and grow. Personal attacks, name calling, and the like ARE NOT COOL-if we catch you doing it you’re gone. Other than that, have at it folks! We love hearing from followers and newcomers alike and will try to reply to as many comments and questions as we can!

Let’s Eat! Q1, 2017

Another addition to our growing recipe library.

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Food. Food is what brings us to this web page today. We love to eat (as well we should). And today, we’re bringing you another round of some of our tried and true favorite recipes. Keep in mind, our approach is minimalist in nature. Even some of these recipes that look like they would take all year and a day to complete are perfect for everyone from the novice cook to the accomplished chef. Prep time is usually under 15 minutes, meaning you’ll have plenty of time to check your Facebook page, Twitter feed, yell at your kids, maybe even fix yourself a drink.

Without further delay, here are some of our latest and greatest favorites.

1. Dry-Brined Steaks: By far the easiest and tastiest way to make steaks at home. Turns Choice steak into Prime and Prime into Heaven on a Plate. We recommend you use Grapeseed oil (higher smoke point), instead of the butter recommended in this recipe to sear the steaks before you put them in the oven. And if you haven’t read The Four Hour Chef by Tim Ferris (the book this recipe came from) you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy. This book gets opened in our house on a weekly basis-two years after buying it.

2. Bacon: If you don’t like bacon, you’re wrong. In this recipe, we use the food of the gods to adorn asparagus. Again, super simple prep and execution. Click, apply, enjoy.

3. Sausage, Kale, and Spaghetti Squash Boats: Ahh, feel the trendy whole-food goodness shining through in this recipe. An easy weeknight recipe requiring about 20 minutes of hands on time. Big and small eaters alike will enjoy this one.

4. Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping: We made this for our extended family when we hosted Thanksgiving, then again the day after Thanksgiving for another family meal, and then again 4 weeks later for a family Christmas dinner. You could say we’re fans of this one. Requires a little more hands on work but it is sooo worth it. Anytime eating your vegetables feels more like eating dessert, you’ve got a keeper recipe.

5. Paleo Cinnamon Rolls: We roll gluten, dairy, and soy free in our casa because of our incredibly crappy genetics (not to mention I’d like to avoid growing man boobs from eating all that hormone-wrecking soy junk). Thank goodness for internet foodies with similar problems (and concerns). This one is a weekender-don’t try to make this if you’re in a hurry. The right amount of sweet and savory awaits you.

6. Healthy Shamrock Shake: Everyone loses their mind when Mickey D’s releases the Shamrock Shake. Even if I wasn’t lactose intolerant, there’s something scary about knowing that green shake has 56 ingredients in it. I would wager that lot of you don’t even have 56 different grocery items in your home. Lucky for you, this version of the Shamrock Shake can be make with 5 ingredients and some ice.

We hope you all enjoy these recipes as much as we have. And if you’re looking for another blog with a bunch of favorite recipes aggregated for your clicking pleasure, check out our post we put up last fall here.

And feel free to post links below to any of your favorite recipes. We’ll give ’em a shot and if they make the cut, we’ll give you props when the next “Let’s Eat!” post rolls out.


COMMENT RULES: If you are a real person, leave your real name. We are not a clearing house for solicitors so don’t do it here. Criticism and questioning is fine, that’s how we all learn and grow. Personal attacks, name calling, and the like ARE NOT COOL-if we catch you doing it you’re gone. Other than that, have at it folks! We love hearing from followers and newcomers alike and will try to reply to as many comments and questions as we can!

Research Update

Share this post with someone you know and love.

Morning, Folks! Rather than try to summarize 11 pages of research, I’m going to give you the link and strongly suggest you follow it: Reversal of Cognitive Decline: A novel therapeutic program. Go ahead and click on that link and let it sink in.

That’s right, there are now completed human trials that show that sleep, customized nutrition and supplementation, exercise, and stress-reduction can actually halt and reverse the process of Alzheimer’s and related diseases of cognitive decline.

If you all could do me one favor today, it would be to share this link with as many people as you know. Alzheimer’s is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. and will effectively bankrupt our country through the cost of medical care in the next 30 years. Dementia hits close to home for me personally, as I’ve had 4 members of my family suffer the awful progression of this disease in the last 20 years.

I want to say thanks to my friend and colleague, Robyn Johnson, for forwarding this research my way. You can check out her website here, and I strongly recommend you contact her if you have questions regarding personalized nutrition and supplementation.