ditching diet culture

Adam Bornstein
Full Transcript

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Kelly: [0:00:04] Hey everyone, I’m Dr. Kelly Starrett.

Juliet: [0:00:06] And I’m Juliet Starrett.

Kelly: [0:00:08] And you’re listening to The Ready State Podcast.


Juliet: [00:00:16] This episode of The Ready State Podcast is brought to you by our friends at LMNT. And we’ve been traveling a lot lately, and when we do, something often happens to you.

Kelly: [00:00:27] We end up in crazy rooms sometimes. You and I were traveling, not recently, we’re going to go way back. We were sitting in the room with all the WWE wrestlers.

Juliet: [00:00:38] Wow, that’s way back.

Kelly: [00:00:39] Way back. Imagine a room full of superheroes in costumes. That’s what it was.

Juliet: [00:00:44] It was a weird moment for us.

Kelly: [00:00:45] A weird moment. Oh, the Bella twins. One of the things that we were talking about is we were talking about adding salt into the water. And one of the Bella twins had just talked about on a podcast she peed herself because she is drinking so much water and she’s having to go to the bathroom all the time and it’s causing all these performance problems. And you and I were like, yeah.

Juliet: [00:01:05] Yeah, because you’re not actually absorbing the water you’re drinking.

Kelly: [00:01:08] Well, you’re just blowing out all your electrolytes. So people oftentimes think they’re doing the right thing by doing all this drinking. And look, if you’re drinking water with food, we don’t need to get precious about that. But one of the things we see is that when people have to be conscious about body weight and they’re trying to control their calories in, oftentimes they kick out a lot of glycogen. They use their glycogen. And one of the things that happens besides drinking a ton of water and not having electrolytes is that as you kick out all the glycogen, you lose all that body water. All your electrolytes are gone again. Putting those electrolytes back or being conscious of it in times where you’re watching your calories, a little bit low glycogen because you’re not eating a ton of carbohydrate can make you feel a lot better and-

Juliet: [00:01:50] Which for context oftentimes happens to us when we travel. We’ll go through long periods where we don’t have access to food or can’t find food. And rather than eating junky stuff, we often just don’t eat. But we always make sure to drink some LMNT and make sure we have some salts onboard.

Kelly: [00:02:06] Dude, I take my hot LMNT, I drink it out of a cap, my YETI cap. I feel like so civilized. It’s like a two pound aluminum cap and I drink my salty water. I’m killing it.

Juliet: [00:02:17] Killing it.

Kelly: [00:02:18] Right now, if you order through our link, you get a free sample pack with all of LMNT’s flavors. Go to drinklmnt.com/trs.

Juliet: [00:02:25] This episode of The Ready State Podcast is brought to you by Vitruvian.

Kelly: [00:02:29] I want to just give everyone a little glimpse into one of the things as your husband, spouse, and partner, that drives you crazy. We’re leaving somewhere-

Juliet: [00:02:40] And then you decide you’re going to work out.

Kelly: [00:02:41] Or sneak in. And sometimes that has to happen that way.

Juliet: [00:02:45] No. Or we’re hosting a party, we have 30 guests coming over at 6 p.m., and then you decide to start working out at 5:45.

Kelly: [00:02:53] But you know what’s sweet about the Vitruvian? It’s set up in the garage, it’s ready to go. Just recently we had to fly to Salt Lake City. And we had a little window. I was on time. But I went out and I was like, “Hey hon, I’ve just got to get some pressing in.” And seesaw press is my favorite pressing motion.

Juliet: [00:03:10] Yeah, but just to set the stage, I’m in the garage with my suitcase and my backpack on ready to go to the airport. And you decide to set up the Vitruvian and do some seesaw pressing.

Kelly: [00:00:00] But you know what’s so easy? It’s so easy. I didn’t have to put weights away, I didn’t have to get weights out. I just started warming up, get going, got my three or four heavy working sets. And that is one of my favorite aspects of this whole Vitruvian system, is that it allows me to sneak in some strength training without having to make a big production. And potentially just roll right into the airport.

Juliet: [00:03:41] Yeah, I mean we often just have to fit in these movement snacks and strength training on the fringes of our busy life. And I have a feeling a lot of people listening to that have the same experience, where you just have to try to fit it in where you can in 10 minute, 15 minute increments. And just having the Vitruvian right there in our garage has really made a big difference in you getting in some extra seesaw pressing and me waiting. 

Kelly: [00:04:02] Story of being married to me. You’re welcome. For more information, go to thereadystate.com/Vitruvian.

Juliet: [00:04:09] We are thrilled to welcome Adam Bornstein to the podcast today. Adam is a New York Times bestselling author who is rewriting the rules of nutrition and fitness. He is an award-winning journalist and the founder of Born Fitness. The former Men’s Health fitness and nutrition editor and editorial director of Livestrong.com has seen a lot of trends come and go, and then something became clear: Diet plans are designed to make you screw up. He wants to change that with his latest book called You Can’t Screw This Up, which was published this past May 2023.

Kelly: [00:04:41] Let’s just get it out in the open: Adam is such an old school legend. He’s been around for a minute, he’s seen a lot. And if you are in the wellness/fitness space, chances are you’re like, oh yeah, I know Adam.

Juliet: [00:04:55] Yeah, you’ve crossed paths with him. Yeah. I mean we’ve known him, known of him since we began working in this space years ago, right?

Kelly: [00:05:02] I really like that there’s a large trend towards how do we simplify complex behavior? What’s essential and where do we give people principles so they can get out of the weeds? I mean we’re demonizing bananas. We have to do something different. So what I love is that he’s taken all of this experience and said, hey, how can we get it better and how can we help people get better. 

Juliet: [00:05:24] Yeah, and a side gig that Adam has that we talk about extensively on this podcast is that he writes and produces Arnold Schwarzenegger’s newsletter.

Kelly: [00:05:33] I’ve heard of that guy.

Juliet: [00:05:34] Arnold. And it was really interesting to learn a little bit not only about Arnold himself but about the process of actually publishing a newsletter with that much regularity and making sure that it has interesting, relevant content and what the process is behind that. And I learned a ton. I thought it was really cool to hear the behind the scenes. 

Kelly: [00:05:50] The largest Austrian jacked albatross you could hang around your neck and then think about that newsletter.

Juliet: [00:05:57] It’s a lot and it’s cool to hear about it.

Kelly: [00:05:59] This convo was so fun. Please enjoy our conversation with Adam Bornstein.

Juliet: [00:06:05] Adam, welcome to The Ready State Podcast. We are stoked to chat you up today.

Adam Bornstein [00:06:11] I am thrilled to be here so thank you for having me.

Kelly: [00:06:14] Let me just set the record for everyone: I have emailed and texted with Adam, I know who Adam is, Adam has been in my life for as long as I can remember. But this is the first time I’m actually talking to you. Literally it’s like if you’re fitness aware, you probably have run into Adam and Adam’s work.

Juliet: [00:06:30] Okay, well, then should we ask Adam what his work is?

Kelly: [00:06:32] Yes.

Juliet: [00:06:33] Maybe more specified.

Kelly: [00:06:34] Great to know you.

Juliet: [00:06:35] Yeah, great to know you. Good to see you. I’ll just kick this off a little bit. I mean obviously you and Kelly have been in comm for many years, but you are someone who does a lot of different things from consulting to writing books, to the laundry list is long of the things you do. So I would love to spend a ton of time on this podcast talking about your awesome book You Can’t Screw This Up. But before we get to that, tell us a little bit of backstory about how you got into this space.

Kelly: [00:07:00] What you’re currently doing.

Juliet: [00:07:01] Yeah, what you’re doing, what you’re up to.

Adam Bornstein [00:07:03] What I’m doing depends on the day of the week, really. How I got into this space I think was an accident. I’ve loved fitness and nutrition and wellness for a long time. But when I was growing up, it was viewed as kind of a hobby. You couldn’t do what I do now, or people were like, oh you’re just going to be poor, you’re going to work at a gym and train people, like some horrible thing. I started on a very different track on the academic side working as a researcher both in psychology and then exercise biz. So I’m well versed in being able to read studies, which for a long time I thought was just such a waste of time, like what am I doing with my life, I’m not happy. And it ended up being one of the most valuable assets because it ended up hard stopping on the researching side of things, deciding that I really jut wanted to pursue my passion, which was fitness and nutrition and doing all this. And I realized that my ability to understand fitness and nutrition and my ability to read research and understand what people are saying, but then that combination so I could translate it into practical, useful information, got me a job at Men’s Health. For many years, I was the fitness editor for Men’s Health. I then became editorial director of Livestrong.com when Livestrong was the biggest go to site for fitness. At the time I was there we had nearly 45 million people per month.

Juliet: [00:08:29] I was one of those people. I was one.

Adam Bornstein [00:08:31] Crazy traffic. It was good times. And then I just realized, if I’m being honest, they wanted to take the site in a direction that I was not okay with, which was just not prioritizing the right voices, the right type of content. And I felt that there was a social responsibility because people rely on the internet for a lot of shit. And we either do this the right way or I don’t want to be a part of it on my own. And I remember being in a conversation where I had this great, shiny job, I was living a block off the beach in Santa Monica. And like what are you going to do? And I’m like I honestly don’t know, I just don’t want to be a part of doing what I’m doing but doing it the wrong way. Ended up starting a couple of different companies where I got to work with an amazing parade of people. Everyone from the best trainers you could imagine to the Tim Ferrisses of the world. And my job was to help amplify voices, take people who had a lot of smart things to say, make sure that they reached a lot of people, and that has led me to working to everyone from LeBron to Arnold Schwarzenegger these last 10 plus years. So these days I continue to do a lot of that. I think that I realized probably about 10 years ago that it doesn’t have to be about me in order to make a big impact. I spent a lot of my time behind the scenes helping a lot of really smart people get their word out to help others. Got a daily newsletter I do with Arnold Schwarzenegger, which if you had told me 10 years ago, I’d be like, that won’t happen. But here we are doing that. And then every now and then when I’m not helping others or coaching people or formulating supplements, I am writing books in my spare time.

Juliet: [00:10:02] You listed some names and for some people maybe LeBron would be the one that would have stars come out their eyes. But for me, it’s Arnold. And I would like to know a little bit more about what it’s like to work with him. I mean I know you’re doing the daily newsletter. But tell me more about him and what it’s like to work with him because of course, all of us are probably sort of obsessed with him on some level.

Adam Bornstein [00:10:23] He’s fantastic.

Juliet: [00:10:24] Wouldn’t you agree?

Kelly: [00:10:25] And his donkeys.

Juliet: [00:10:25] And he has donkeys, which I mean, hello.

Adam Bornstein [00:10:29] And a little pig now. He’s got a pig. He’s got a zoo now. Let’s be honest. He has a zoo.

Juliet: [00:10:35] But the thing is, is they’re in his house, which is the dopest. And I’m like if you’re Arnold Schwarzenegger, you can have baby donkeys or little mini donkeys in your house.

Kelly: [00:10:44] Yeah, tell us that because I want to double click on that crazy journey for a second. But tell us how do you end up working with that man.

Adam Bornstein [00:10:52] Yeah, how did I work with Arnold was I wasn’t an asshole. That’s the short story. The long story is I lived in Santa Monica for a while and I used to train at a gym called The Iron on 28th and Broadway. I guess apparently, I trained different than most people there, probably because I wanted to be a supple leopard. Subtle plug. And there was this guy who’d always come to me and ask me questions after I was training. I think when people see me in the gym, especially that time, I was the guy whose hat was pulled down low. I was there to just deal with my life’s issues and train really hard and then leave. There was this one guy who was always really respectful to ask me questions. And I know how intimidating an environment the gym is. I know how hard it can be to train. I know how hard it can be, whether you’re a man or a woman, to ask another person for advice or thoughts. That’s not an easy thing to do. So when people want to ask me-

Kelly: [00:11:50] Even a spot is hard to ask for. 

Adam Bornstein [00:11:52] That alone, let alone, hey man, I saw you doing this exercise, what are you doing, how come no one else is doing it. I always want to be really respectful. And I just built a gym relationship. You’ve got these gym buddies that you just recognize. I’ve always loved that part of gym culture. You might not even know the person’s name but you see them and you give them the nod and there’s the mutual respect of the community of the gym, I think is a special thing. And we’d probably do this for four, six months. And one day, he’s like, “Hey man, do you want to hang out outside the gym?” And I was like, sure, random gym friend. And he’s like, “Let’s do lunch. Meet at my office. Go here.” I roll up to his office, Main Street in Santa Monica, and there’s a security person. And I walk in there and there’s a corridor. In the corridor there’s this huge mural of pictures of Arnold Schwarzenegger. And I’m like, hmm, LA. Go in, take the elevator, take the third floor, doors open, and it’s like movie poster, movie poster, movie poster because you come out and you take a right, it’s all movie posters down this hallway of Arnold. And then there’s this big brown door with the governor’s seal. And I’m sitting there truly thinking where am I, what am I doing, I walk in-

Juliet: [00:13:08] Yeah, you’re like am I on a movie set right now? Am I getting punked?

Adam Bornstein [00:13:11] I walked in and I realized that this gentleman happened to be Arnold’s chief of staff. And I was there in Arnold’s office and I got to meet Daniel and build up a friendship with him. And then he gave me an opportunity when Arnold was leaving the governor’s office and trying to get back into movies and fitness, to really help out with a wide variety of things. And if I’m being completely honest, I did it just for free. I was like this is Arnold, he wanted to build a website, he wanted to start creating fitness content. He had been in the governor’s office for so long. One, super cool. Two, I’ve always been of the belief that I don’t care how big or successful, whoever I think I am, you take that mindset of an intern where you’ve got to just prove yourself over and over and over again. 

Kelly: [00:13:55] Yes. We were just talking about this.

Adam Bornstein [00:14:00] I had no problem being like I got these big positions but who am I? I’m a guy that I need to prove myself over and over again. I still believe. We talk about LeBron. The LeBron thing was me spending two years proving myself to open that door. But prove it to Arnold and that started with now being a 12-year friendship and relationship where he is the single greatest storyteller I’ve ever met because he’s the real life Forrest Gump. This guy has stories upon stories. You go in his office-

Kelly: [00:14:35] I’ve seen Forrest’s legs. It’s not the same. It’s not even close.

Juliet: [00:14:35] Oh my God. That is an experience, one of those life experiences where I’m like, man, I would love to have that experience, just sitting in his office and hearing stories.

Kelly: [00:14:45] I have to tell you, I went to high school in California, at the local YMCA, Clint Eastwood was the mayor at the time. You recall that, Lisa. And Arnold came up and donated a lot of this original equipment to the YMCA and came and opened up the YMCA. In four months, I’m in high school, you could rest your arms in the troughs formed on the wooden curl bench that Arnold put his arms in. And so literally, you could imagine a 17-year-old kid and you put your arms in this thing. You’ve already met Arnold and you put your arms in there and then you look at all the weights that you can’t move. I’m telling you.

Juliet: [00:15:21] And you’re like your elbows aren’t going to gauge it out. You can’t lift weights.

Kelly: [00:15:25] That is the kind of echo that this man has left in my life.

Adam Bornstein [00:15:29] He’s a fascinating human. When you go back and you watch him talk about keeping receipts, that guy’s been saying the same things for like 60 years. He’s relentlessly consistent, he’s incredibly focused. Love him or hate him, and a lot of people hate him, he’s unbelievably accountable for everything he’s done, good and bad. He doesn’t shy away from it, he doesn’t run from it, which I think is kind of a rare trait because obviously he’s made mistakes publicly and he confronts them. In terms of someone who has been so successful in so many walks of life, you can’t help but be around him, and people talk about it, but I want to be the greatest bodybuilder, okay you go ahead and do it. I want to be the biggest movie star. Okay. I want to become governor of the state of California. Okay, I’m going to do that. When, how? It doesn’t even seem real.

Kelly: [00:16:19] And the number of people that read the newsletter. You’ve been very generous towards us and we got the newsletter before.

Juliet: [00:16:26] Yeah, and thank you for that. We were stoked.

Kelly: [00:16:28] I get bombed by the most diverse set of people, I’m like do you read that newsletter do you read that newsletter, I mean it’s crazy how many different walks of life, genders, personal identifies identify with that written content.

Adam Bornstein [00:16:44] I love that. We started in January of this year. We’ve not spent a cent trying to grow it. Twenty thousand people signed up on the first day because it’s Arnold but there are 550,000 people reading that thing every single day now. 

Juliet: [00:17:00] Yes. That’s amazing. Congratulations. You heard Kelly and I high ten a little bit on something you said earlier but just that idea of always feeling you have to prove yourself and then I think secondarily doing work for free even if you feel like you’ve professionally already made it. And the reason that Kelly and I were talking about that is he was on a call yesterday and someone said, “Hey Kelly, what is it, what’s your secret? Why are you everywhere? Why are you successful?” And one of the things we both talk about-

Kelly: [00:17:28] Well, the first thing I said was Juliet. 

Juliet: [00:17:29] Yeah. And we have this amazing partnership, which is great. But we’ve both been on the circuit talking about how one of the things we do a ton is give our time and ourselves and our energy away for free. And having worked in a world where a lot of coaches and lot of people who work on an hourly basis, you see certain people really struggle to be able to do that. They feel like they’ve reached a certain status and there’s no way they could ever even work for one minute for free. And I think that’s a really flawed mentality just based on our own experience of really giving and it’s so cool to see that you’ve been able to create these amazing relationships and professional opportunities for yourself by just being willing to be open and learn and do some work for free, even though you are already a boss.

Kelly: [00:18:15] If you’re presented with that idea, if you could do anything and money was no option, what would you do, that’s really the answer you’re giving right now. You’re saying, hey, I’ve already figured out how to cover rent and food and health insurance, and so my side hustle is doing the work that I love with really incredible people. And that’s what I want to get to. I mean I feel like that opens a thousand doors and builds a thousand relationships and it really is this lost art amongst a generation of young people because the internet has really confused us about that. So we want to just high five because it is a hidden talent to say, hey, can I help. And people are like what do you want, and I’m like I want to help because what you’re doing is really inspiring to me and feeds the rest of my life.

Adam Bornstein [00:18:56] Well, high five back at you. I tell all of my closest friends, truly—they would say, yes, this is exactly what Adam says—whenever the day comes when I feel like I need to do good or help someone or provide my time only in exchange for money, when everything becomes about business, is literally punch me in the face me and remind me who are you, you’ve lost your way. Because we’re lucky that we get to be in an industry where the impact of what we do is so dramatic. And I mean that sincerely. We have the power to redirect the trajectory of someone’s life. I don’t ever take that for granted. And if I only want to get paid for that, I think I’m in it for the wrong reason. And I think it’s easy to forget sometimes the thing that you did that got you in the position that you are and then think you’re bigger than that. It’s like remember where you came from, remember the people who gave you the opportunity. And if you lose sight of that you probably lose some of the magic that made you special and made people want to gravitate towards you. So I don’t buy into my time is just as valuable as someone else’s. I might have done something that more people gave me more notoriety for but time is time and we all have a limited amount and I want to make sure I set aside some for anyone because it’s probably the best thing I can do. You guys were earlier talking about the filter of the camera before we jumped on here. I’ll never forget, when I wanted to changed my career, we talked about changing my trajectory. I wrote all of these writers, and I thought I wanted to be a writer. And no one got back to me. And there was a columnist, the Boulder Daily Camera, Neill Woelk who responded to me. And he’s like, I’ll meet you for coffee. And I sat down with Neill and I asked him all these questions. And I remember he was being like, “Yeah, you’re not going to make a lot of money.” And I remember asking him, “Would you recommend this?” And he was like, you know what? I can’t remember exactly but he was like, “I’ve been to x number of Olympics, this many Super Bowls, I’ve been covering the Bucks for years.” He was like, “I was able to keep a roof over my head, put my kids into college.” He’s like, “I love what I do.” And I was like, sold. And the moral of that story is I don’t know if I would have made that choice if Neill didn’t decide to answer my random email, meet with this dumb kid who was no one. And he had such a huge impact. And I’ll never forget that. That is more than 20 years ago now. But if anyone ever asks me, Neill took the time to go and do something. I think that’s so important. You never know the impact you can have on another person.

Juliet: [00:21:10] Yeah, I mean I think Kelly and I can look back over the years and we can both come up with 10 people who did similar things for us, just out of the blue picked up the phone or invited us for coffee or whatever, made a huge difference and huge impact in our lives. Before we move on, I do want to ask one tactical question about the newsletter because I know probably some people listening to this maybe create content. But we’re all in this content creation machine because of social media and emails and newsletters and all the content, content, content that everybody’s expected to create to continue this firehose of content that we’re all in. But how are you approaching and getting content inspiration for doing a daily newsletter? A lot of people are doing newsletters but a daily newsletter is commitment. And you’ll recall, Kelly and I did The Mobility Project way back in the dawn of time, where we tried to make a video a day for 365 days. And we get that role a little bit.

Kelly: [00:22:07] We invented the daily influencer onslaught. Sorry, everyone.

Juliet: [00:22:11] I’d just love to hear a little bit tactically speaking, how do you gain inspiration and how do you manage putting out a daily newsletter that has so much valuable content?

Adam Bornstein [00:22:21] A lot of lost nights of sleep. I’m not going to lie. I was a little ambitious in doing this and I’ll say it’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. You guys having done it. Doing something daily is, oh my goodness.

Kelly: [00:22:37] Not sexy. It’s a ditch. You dig a ditch.

Adam Bornstein [00:22:39] It’s hard. It’s really hard. And the expectation, especially at this many people, there are plenty of nights where it’s like 11 o’clock at night and I’m like, shit, the newsletter isn’t done. And you’ve got to get it done. The inspiration, I think the one good thing about this content heavy universe is that there’s so much information out there and there’s so much confusion. And instead of looking at the information that is being created, I look at where’s the most confusion being created. That is both where is there a saturation where lots of people are talking about one topic but all saying something different, so there’s a lot of noise but very little clarity, or where are things that people care about but they’re looking at the wrong thing. It’s so easy to sensationalize topics and oftentimes the thing that gets discussed is what gets the most attention, not what will make the biggest impact. So I take those two things. We have a weekly writers’ room meeting with Arnold. So talk about having one of those experiences where every week where I’m in LA with Arnold or we’re on the phone and we just talk about the different things that he’s seen. Arnold still to this day, almost every day, rides his bike to Gold’s Gym. And people come up to him and ask him questions. So he’s hearing questions, he’s getting inbound. Arnold might readd something in the paper that he has a question about for me. He’s like, “Write this down.” And then it’s also going into the vastness of social media, which is such a scary place, and just absorbing a lot of content, and then taking that and being like, all right. Because everyone loves to say, “studies say.”

Juliet: [00:24:17] Yeah. It’s a real trend these days.

Adam Bornstein [00:24:19] But no one actually backs up the study, references the studies, or talk while they’re doing. So there’s an endless opportunity where for me the majority of the time isn’t actually coming up with topics. I have a Google Doc that’s legitimately 109 pages long right now that I keep on adding things and then once we take a topic, I’ll move it out. The topics aren’t the problem. The problem is what is the research actually saying. Sometimes you end up down these rabbit holes. I was down one earlier today about fish oil. There’s a big trend on fish oil. I started going down this fish oil is good for people and eating fish is good for people. But there are all these studies just in the last four or five years that show fish oil supplementation itself doesn’t have the same impact as eating fish. Then you try and make sense of this. And then you start looking at what’s the amount that you need of DHA and EPA. And then you start realizing that only nine percent of supplements even have the amount that would be the minimum threshold even if the fish oil products are working. Then you can start creating this narrative of the headline becomes “A Fishy Situation” or “Fish Oils are in Hot Water,” that might be the subject line. And then you start adapting and telling this narrative of here’s the issue because topics are all out there and I think a big part of the content creation itself is who are you writing for. Rule number one that I learned, and we all talk about mentors, is know your audience. A lot of people create content just thinking if the content is good, it should stick. But distribution is really hard to master. There’s so much noise that it’s hard to cut through. To give yourself the best chance possible, you really need to know exactly who you are writing for. What other stuff they’re reading, what channels they’re looking to, what influencers. And if you want to cut through the noise, if you have almost an obsession of who that person is that you want to help, it makes it much easier as posted just writing in your voice or writing what you want to state. I think part of the daily is having this obsession of who we’re trying to help and then the other part is how do you parse through and make sense of actually going an extra level instead of just saying studies say. Well, let’s actually look at those studies.

Kelly: [00:26:25] You came out of let’s say the muscular magazine development era of fitness which is where a lot of us got a lot of information early on. I found a book on plyometrics from? Tudor Bompa and Donald Chu, I think. It was really hard to find good training information. It was like if you worked with a coach and they read some Soviet studies and they had been in a program and you got lucky, maybe you came out of track and field or some movement tradition. But you really started your journey then. You’re in Web 1.0, truly. But then you’re in Web 2.0, which is sort of this subscription model. You’re a lot more sophisticated. Now we’re in this, it’s not, I don’t want to call it 3.0, the AI, the fitness algorithm.

Juliet: [00:27:17] Who even knows? Yeah.

Kelly: [00:27:18] The confusion. Do you think you can have the perspective in your writing without having your history, without seeing these meta trends? Because I feel like that’s really a hallmark of your writing, I that you have just seen a lot of changes, a lot of en vogue movements, en vogue patterns, and you’re sort of wise to it all. And you also have legit friends who are helping keep you anchored. Are you aware of that aspect of your writing?

Adam Bornstein [00:27:47] Yeah. I mean I took nine years between books. I’ve ghostwritten a lot for actors and celebs and other people. I’ve never been an actor in my life but ghostwriting feels like method acting. You just spend enough time that you master someone’s voice. You try and make sure that their message can get out there so it sounds like them. But then you create a narrative that hopefully tons of people will read. And I’ve been very successful doing that. But between the last book that I wrote and doing You Can’t Screw This Up was nine years. And I had this book idea in 2014. I had a New York Times bestseller in 2012. I had a book idea in 2014. And it took me forever to figure out how to tell that story. Probably took me like two years to put together a proposal and I sent it to my book agent and he told me it was terrible. And he was right. You go through this process, especially after I had my New York Times bestseller where you think you write this great thing. And you fast forward a year later and all these people who are like, “I love your book,” are stuck again or they have questions or they’re frustrated, and it’s very easy to question yourself of not necessarily was that book bad but did I really solve the problem that I was trying to solve or can books even solve the problem. Because there’s no shortage of books. You guys have a great one and one’s behind you. I’m a buying customer.

Juliet: [00:29:03] Thank you.

Adam Bornstein [00:29:04] I buy all of your books.

Kelly: [00:29:06] It’s not just automatic that it’s going to be successful. I mean that’s the other piece of this. You’re a New York Times bestselling writer. You are a storied, experienced writing coach, and all of a sudden, you’re like, well, I had this amazing idea and I don’t even know if people will notice it anymore.

Juliet: [00:29:21] There’s so much.

Adam Bornstein [00:29:22] It’s harder to cut through, it’s harder to make sense, and it’s also like can you take what you think is a good idea and ask does this solve the real problem that people are having because there’s so many. We can look across the lines in the wellness industry and we have more technology, we have more access, we have more voices, we have more information. And by and large, we are less healthy than ever before. And it doesn’t make sense on the surface so at some point, are we just, A, not asking ourselves the right question, are we not solving the problem. Not that we’re not putting out good information. There’s a very big difference between there are some phenomenal books out there that don’t have the impact because are they addressing what stands in people’s way. And I don’t think you can… I wasn’t ready to write a book until I feel that I could address for me what was a big problem for people, not just I could write a book. I love writing books. But would I solve a problem, the message actually hit, it resonated. They might come back with other problems but they wouldn’t come back with that same problem. Or if they hadn’t yet overcome the hurdle they could still go back and be like, oh, I haven’t mastered those lessons because sometimes everyone wants the quick fix. Sometimes people are not willing to take the time to master what they need to do. I think you guys probably see this better than anyone because so much of movement is about doing the boring, mundane stuff that isn’t fun, it isn’t sexy, but when you do it repeatedly, my goodness, does it make a dramatic difference. When I was a teenager you guys, I broke my back twice. The first time, and this was back early 90s, the first time I broke my back, early 90s physical therapy was go get massage therapy for six months, take some pills, and go back to playing sports. I played three sports growing up. L3, L4. And you go and you start playing all of these sports again and truly, one day I woke up and I couldn’t feel one of my legs because I had two fractures, a complete break, serious sciatica, two bulging discs. And I’m like 17 years old and I’m just messed up. And you see the narrowing of the spine in the lower back, and at that time, everyone’s looking at you and being like, well, have fun living a sedentary life. And I was lucky enough that my parents were like, no, found an orthopedic doctor in Chicago—that’s where I grew up—who dealt with all the professional sports teams. And no, you have to go through intense physical therapy. And I’m like, what, massage? And he’s like no, no, no, you’ve got to build the core, you’ve got to build the pillar, and things that are en vogue now like glute bridges and single leg work and rotation, anti rotation. That more than anything, what really changed my trajectory, I was given a future where you can’t do any of these things you like. You’re pretty messed up at a young age. You’ve literally broke, there are two breaks in your back. You’re in constant pain. What are you going to do? I had somebody like this is the track you have to do. And I became fascinated with movement and corrective work and mobility at a young age. People are like, oh, you’re not doing anything now. I’m like, yeah, I can deadlift 500 pounds. But you broke your back twice. And it’s like yeah, because I did the boring stuff and it became a habit. It’s something that I just do, and if you can get that to click, life changing. But if you can have some presence to know that getting people to do that stuff, there has to be some sort of Trojan horse to get them to pack. Man, is it hard to get people’s attention, man is it hard to get the buy in, man is it hard to get them to do-

Kelly: [00:33:00] Everyone cares about range of motion and flexibility and mobility.

Juliet: [00:33:00] Yeah, oh my God. Everybody loves range of motion.

Kelly: [00:33:02] That’s all they want to talk about. People are like can I talk about-

Juliet: [00:33:05] Okay, so I want to get into some specifics about your book, which I want to say I really enjoyed and had a great time reading.

Adam Bornstein [00:33:11] Thank you. 

Juliet: [00:33:12] And I also want to tell you that you’re a brave man to step on the rake that is writing a book about anything that is related to anything related to diet or nutrition.

Kelly: [00:33:20] It’s not a rake, it’s a rail.

Juliet: [00:33:21] It’s a rail.

Kelly: [00:33:22] He licked the third rail.

Juliet: [00:33:23] Yeah, you licked the third rail. But I think you really did an artful job of it. I’d love to just hear a little bit about you said it really took you a long time before you really could realize what this book was and you felt confident it would solve a problem for people. But tell us a little more about the why of this book.

Kelly: [00:33:39] Yeah, and I want to start by even pointing out the titling is so reflective of a person who’s been around for a long time and isn’t saying I have 100 percent of the answers, I am the expert, but really this positive message of saying, hey, we know that this is a working, or what you’ve done hasn’t worked, you’re a survivor, let me show you. You Can’t Screw This Up is really, it’s one of those messages that people just are so paralyzed. And I just want to give you props for even just that opening salvo approach makes it accessible and how important that perspective of your writing is.

Adam Bornstein [00:34:18] Thank you. That really means a lot to me. And I think the book itself, the why was first and foremost. There’s no shortage of all of this information. There’s some really good nutrition books out there. And people have no idea. And there’s some absolute hot garbage. So bad, so ridiculous, so manipulative. And I started asking where do we really see behavioral change because this is what this is about, it’s about behavioral change. It’s not about nutrition. How do we get people to change behaviors? And we don’t really see a lot of people covering behavioral change in a good way. I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve had the chance to work with people like Tim, like Ryan Holiday, and I’ve known James Clear for a long time. I’m like we need to start borrowing other people’s disciplines and applying it to fitness. And then we need to ask ourselves, well, why is it that people struggle so much. And I came up with these three C’s of cost, convenience and complexity are the real barriers. So if you scrape everything away, because a lot of different diets work, a lot of different workouts work, the problem is that people can’t get them to work for a long period of time because no one can be consistent, things end up being too complex or they end up being just a has versus has not. So if you’ve got a lot of money, this is great because you can buy your way there. And if not, good luck, see you later, good luck having a terrible, unhealthy life. So it’s like, well, how do we account for that and then I worked with Tim for five years and Tim’s question to me all the time when I would be helping him with the business stuff was what would this look like if it were easy. And I always hated the question. I knew it’d be coming and I’d be presenting all these things and he’d be like, “Yeah, but Adam, what would this look like if it were easy?” And I’m like, “Ugh, Tim, you’re so smart and why are you making me answer this?” And I realize that we don’t ask that question in nutrition. We actually go the opposite way. We’re like how hard can we make this and then if you can do this, you will be successful. But there’s no way you’ll ever sustain this in a real life scenario because when you’re busy and stressed or overtired and you drive by your favorite restaurant, you’re just going to break and then you’re going to feel terrible about it. And the thing that I kept on hearing, because one thing that I’ve learned from doing books is always have people read it beforehand, and two, always have people take the plan. And I don’t talk in absolutes, but always have people read it and always have people take the plan. So I put 500 on this plan, but them in a group, and the people who were having the most success kept on saying to me, “I’m going to screw this up, I’m going to screw this up.” And I’m like wait a second, where is this coming from? Because this was not the original title of the book but it became so clear that what stands in people’s way is their own mindset and their own perception of what it takes to be healthy. And what it takes to be healthy is not what you’ve been told. And there are different tiers to health. A lot of people just want to move better or feel or lose 10 pounds, the things you have to do are actually pretty minimal. But what you’re told to do is so extreme that the moment you get off it you gain the weight back and you think I’m broken, I’m horrible, I can never eat carbs again. I’m like no, no, no. You could’ve done a fraction of the work to get the same output without having any of that emotional disaster. And then I realized that emotions are such a big part of our everyday life. Has anyone ever covered the emotional side of how people feel about a diet or how people feel about food or how much anxiety they have every time they eat? And as I start putting together this puzzle, I’m like, oh my goodness, the issue here is we constantly are expecting ourselves to screw up. The things that we perceive as screw ups like having sugar or eating in a restaurant is not actually the screw up. It’s the compensatory behavior itself. If you can refrain from getting people to think I’m going to screw this up and then when they do the thing that they’ve been taught is bad, you tell them, no, this is actually a part of the plan, they no longer catastrophize, they no longer spiral, they no longer pile up all of this stress and anxiety and guilt. And it fundamentally changes the way people go about eating, thinking about food, and when real life just happens, they don’t do that thing where they’re like, oh no, I screwed up, I’ll start again on Monday, but Monday becomes the following Monday, and the following Monday becomes the following year. And that is the pattern. The average person will go on a diet for four to six weeks and then they go off of the diet for 12 to 16 weeks. And if you just do that math, it’s pretty staggering. There’s a study at UCLA that compared dieters to non-dieters. And the average non-dieter gains 1.2 pounds a year and the dieter will gain from four to six pounds. And during the first four months they lose a lot of weight and during the next eight months they gain a ton of weight because it’s that yo yo approach as opposed to if they would’ve done nothing, they would’ve been better off. So it’s helping people get off that crazy roller coaster ride, which really truly becomes a mind game.

Juliet: [00:39:11] Hey Ready State listeners, if you like what you’re hearing, please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes to help others find our show. 

Juliet: [00:39:18] This episode of The Ready State Podcast is brought to you by Momentous.

Kelly: [00:39:22] One of the things that I hear as a theme for you is that you and I both crested 50 and somehow you’ve become a little bit more obsessed with the fact that everyone could benefit from having a little bit more muscle on their frame as they hit 50.

Juliet: [00:39:35] Yeah. I mean having muscle mass on your body is like a 401K for your body. There’s people who are calling muscle the longevity organ now.

Kelly: [00:39:44] Do you know how vindicated I feel?

Juliet: [00:39:45] It’s true, you should. What I see around us in our community is a lot of people who are working hard and exercising but often are already showing the signs that they’re losing the muscle mass they did have. And not very focused on trying to maintain what they have or even put on additional muscle.

Kelly: [00:40:03] Yeah. And let’s recognize that I may be an endurance athlete, I may be a person who society has said that being skinny really works and that’s the model where I have a reasonable idea about for me what my body should look like. That’s independent of the fact that everyone really could be rolling into their 50s and 60s and 70s holding onto a little bit more muscle mass.

Juliet: [00:40:24] My muscle mass stack if I could call it that-

Kelly: [00:40:29] Whoa, easy bro.

Juliet: [00:40:30] I’m trying to eat between 150 and 180 grams of protein a day and I’m taking five milligrams of creatine every day. And that’s quite a bit of protein. And I find that if I’m able to supplement with 20 to 40 grams of protein powder every day, I really can pretty easily hit that number if I just eat a normal amount of protein at my other meals. And so those to me are the two supplements that you’d have to take from my cold, dead hands, especially as a 50-year-old perimenopausal woman. 

Kelly: [00:41:00] Dude, jacked and tan. I always talk about the jack and tan plan. The tan part. But I really appreciate that you’re on- 

Juliet: [00:41:05] I’m on the jacked plan.

Kelly: [00:41:06] You’re on the jacked part. Hey, if you want to learn more and get your own meathead Juliet longevity stack, go to livemomentous.com/trs and use code TRS for 20 percent off your first purchase. 

Juliet: [00:41:21] This episode of The Ready State Podcast is brought to you by YETI. What we want to talk to you about today is our love affair with the YETI Yonder Water Bottle. 

Kelly: [00:41:30] I know we’re obsessed. We are obsessed. One of the reasons that I’m a big fan of the Yonder is when I go on travel, and I know this is going to matter to you, you are going on a crazy bikepacking adventure with Rebecca Rusch.

Juliet: [00:41:42] Yes.

Kelly: [00:41:43] And you’re going to be four or five days in the wilderness carrying everything and riding a long way. I have done this before.

Juliet: [00:41:49] I’m terrified.

Kelly: [00:41:50] In terms of biking.

Juliet: [00:41:51] I thought you were riding 50 miles a day.

Kelly: [00:41:53] Oh, we were. But we weren’t carrying our stuff. So I’m worried that you might die a little bit.

Juliet: [00:41:57] I might die.

Kelly: [00:41:58] But I’m not worried that you’re going to not carry… You’re obsessing about weight stuff now. You’re like, hey, maybe my sleeping bag is too heavy and maybe I’ll cut my toothbrush in half. But what’s great about this Yonder is it comes in a big bottle size so you will be able to carry enough water and the bottle itself is light. You can’t do that with… I just don’t think the bladder works great all the time in terms of cooking.

Juliet: [00:42:18] Can’t always rely on it.

Kelly: [00:42:20] And then also bike bottles, no, bro. The Yonder solves that problem. And did I mention, super leak proof?

Juliet: [00:42:27] Yeah, and we love insulated bottles and we definitely trade off between the two but because we do a lot of travel and a lot of outdoor adventure, we also use the Yonder bottle a ton. It’s a really important part of our water bottle quiver. It’s something we use on the very regular.

Kelly: [00:42:41] I don’t know if you know this, but I’m not actually a small kid. Sometimes I’m like it doesn’t matter, I’m already so heavy, put the heavy thing in my backpack. Nope.

Juliet: [00:42:49] It does matter. Even for you. 

Kelly: [00:42:50] Always matters. Look, if you want to get your own Yonder, go to thereadystate.com/yeti.

Juliet: [00:42:59] Man, I mean there’s so much to unpack there, but I love this. And one of the things we were just talking about yesterday, we talked about quite a bit as we’ve been promoting our own book, Built to Move, but just hearing that data, dieters versus non-dieters and the weight gain just reminds me of the thing we’ve been talking about of this simple idea of just being able to eat together with your family and be normal versus microwaving some weird frozen meal that you got that’s a diet meal and you can’t eat with your husband and kids because you’re on some weird diet. That alone from an emotional standpoint because it’s weird and you’re taking yourself out of community and taking yourself out of doing something that’s normal, which is eating normal food with your family, man, I don’t know, that’s one of a thousand challenges we have in our current culture.

Kelly: [00:43:44] I want to show that one of the things that happens that you hint at is the potential dysfunction you set up for your kids, watching you have this relationship because kids are going to model. They’re like, oh, I understand what this looks like, be super severe and restrictive and then I party and I come back and I watch mom and she doesn’t eat with us and I watch dad. What’s interesting is this book isn’t even just about body composition for mortal people. The amount of disordered eating and strange relationships we see in athletic and high performance environments, I want everyone to hear is probably two x what we see in mortal everyday people like myself. The relationship that our best athletes have to food, you think they’re shredded, they’re jacked, they’re living, they’ve got it organized, it’s even crazier and stranger because they’ve got a whole set of different pressures on top of themselves.

Juliet: [00:44:37] Well, and I would expand that group to include influencers and people in the health and wellness business. I mean it’s a big, wide group.

Adam Bornstein [00:44:45] They live in a prison of their minds. Some of the best-looking people that we’ve seen, their relationship with food is terrible. Not everyone. But it’s really bad because there’s this anxiety. The average person—and this is the average person, not the people whose lives depend on their bodies—the average person feels anxiety seven times every time they prepare or eat a meal. If you extrapolate that a minimum of three times a day, you don’t need another 21 incidences of stress and anxiety in your life. And if you don’t think that has downstream effects of what you crave, how you eat, how you internalize all of that, you’re kidding yourself. How it affects your sleep and then when you have disrupted sleep, how it affects your eating. Sleep disruption affects the two primary hormones, leptin and ghrelin that affect hunger and satiety. All of these things are tied together and it’s amazing to me that the simple act of being able to sit down and eat a meal with your family can create so much anxiety. But I have parents tell me all the time they don’t feel like they can eat in front of their kids, they don’t know what to feed their kids, they don’t know what is okay or that they eat great and then in a dark corner they eat something that they feel guilty about and they just go crazy. First of all, they shouldn’t even feel guilty in the first place, but why are they craving that? We are people that we want what we can’t have. There’s this fascinating study that I talk about in the book that was in the journal Appetite where for one day and one day only the scientists identified forbidden foods. The foods that you don’t want to eat as much of, you can have them sometimes, so it’s going to be ultra processed, favorite type of foods. And they told people let them eat ad lib. So you get to eat whatever you eat during the course of the day, we’re going to monitor you for a day. Just don’t eat these foods. Whatever you do, don’t eat these foods. Don’t eat these foods, cool? Don’t eat these foods. What happened? They ate 133 percent more calories. You had one job. Don’t do this. But we see it repeatedly over and over and over again, the more that we tell people that they can’t have something, the more that they desire it, the more they crave it, as opposed to when you actually give people some leeway to enjoy this, they eat it less often because it feels good to know that it can be there. And when they eat those foods, they find that it doesn’t actually serve them the way that they thought. The worst thing that you can do until people have mastered better eating habits is to take everything off the table. People always ask me where do you start clients with. I’m like the place that no one expects. I ask people what’s the one food that they love most and I’m like all right, we’re not getting rid of that. We’re not getting rid of that because I don’t want you starting this plan off waiting for the day that you can be like, Adam, you’re fired and I’m going to go and eat my pizza because screw you, you took that from me. No, I want to show you that you can have the things that you love and you can build healthier habits around it. And when you actually develop those habits and when you don’t catastrophize your behaviors, two things are going to happen: One, when you eat the pizza or whatever it is, you’re not going to feel bad. Two, as you actually develop these habits, you find that you crave the pizza or the thing much less because you find out what serves you better. It’s like anything else in life. But we’re obsessed with this idea of discomfort. There’s a whole chapter I have on this idea of comfort where change happens in discomfort. But the biggest mistake we make is that if you think of the Yerkes-Dodson curve of anxiety and performance, we create so much discomfort, so this is this inverted U where you’re looking at stress and anxiety and performance. And at one end, there’s a ton of stress and anxiety, performance is super low. So this is where you can tell people you can’t eat anything, you’re training six days a week, this is boot camp, don’t screw it up. The other end where you also see really low performance, there’s no stress or anxiety. Eh, sit on the couch, you’re fine, you’ll be healthy, you’ll be great. You need to find this sweet spot in order to bring out people’s performance. And as they get better, they grow as people. So I think that the idea of the comfort zone isn’t that you have to abandon all comfort, you actually need to expand your comfort. The example I give in the book is if you take a new trainee, first day ever in the gym, you can have two options, I can have them do some body weight movements, even body weight squats. Three sets of 10. If you’re doing them well, keeping the tension on, the next day their legs are going to be crushed because they just haven’t done that. They’re not going to be able to sit on the toilet. Or they can walk in, I can load up a barbell with 300 pounds and be like, yo, let’s go do this, you’ve got this. They’re going to be crushed but they’re probably going to die and they’re never, ever, ever going to step into a gym again because the level of discomfort should be relative to where someone is if you truly want them to grow. Diets don’t care where people are. Say I’m cutting out this, I’m cutting out that, you’re going to eat all of this. Go ahead and succeed. It’s like throwing someone in the deep end when they’ve never even set foot in water. It’s absolutely insane. But every diet does it because we’ve been wired to think this is how I have to eat, this is the suffering I need to have in order to be healthy and truly the worst way to build a healthy habit.

Kelly: [00:49:46] Healthy and suffering. How those became conjoined, it’s amazing.

Adam Bornstein [00:49:50] It’s so broken. When you do something good for you, not to say that it’s not hard, not to say that there’s not some discomfort, it should on a net make you feel better. That’s the idea. Pain goes away, you have more energy, you sleep better, you get stronger. People conflate this suffering with health in a way that’s so bizarre probably to all three of us, but we see it everywhere. And it’s like it’s a huge part of what’s wrong with the industry. No, no, no, you shouldn’t be in pain. You should be enjoying your meals. It doesn’t have to be this hard.

Juliet: [00:50:27] So I’m going to pump this Tim Ferriss question back at you, what would it look like if this was easy, because I think the three of us could wax on and on because we have very similar ideas about trying to help people think more expansively about food in our book as well, Built to Move, but what is the way? And one of the things I love is that you actually have a specific plan about how people can actually go out to eat because again, when we’re talking about mental health and communing with others, one of the things that we do together is we eat together and oftentimes, if you have a social life, that involves going out to eat. And most people are going to fall right off a diet if it means they have to bring a baggie of rice and barbecue chicken into their dinner with their girlfriend on a Friday night. I just want to shoutout to the-

Kelly: [00:51:13] That’s because you won’t bleed for your art, Juliet.

Juliet: [00:51:16] Tell us what it would it look like if it was easy versus-

Adam Bornstein [00:51:19] First of all, you pack it in Tupperware, clearly not a plastic baggie. 

Juliet: [00:51:24] You know why I say that? This quick side thing is Kelly’s grandfather, Jack Starrett, had a heart attack actually and he literally would bring out to dinner baggies-

Kelly: [00:51:38] Someone told him fat was bad.

Juliet: [00:51:39] It was the fat free time of one of the many phases of restricting things out of our diets. But he would bring literally a Ziploc thing of chicken in his pocket to a restaurant.

Kelly: [00:51:51] You’re not wrong.

Juliet: [00:51:52] That’s where I get that. It’s been done by a Starrett.

Adam Bornstein [00:51:56] Respect to Grandpa Jack for that one. What a boss. I think there are a couple things. For two years I traveled every week Tuesday to Thursday. So I had to learn how to eat at restaurants. It just became a part of life. And I think we catastrophize this.

Kelly: [00:52:13] That’s a real part. Travel and work is a real part. Let me just tell a quick story how reality this is because you were traveling in Croatia with your best friend and you sent me a picture of your breakfast. And I was working with the Customs and Border Patrol Special Response Team and I went to Jack N The Box and got a black coffee.

Juliet: [00:52:32] It was actually Burger King. You went to Burger King.

Kelly: [00:52:34] And then ate hardboiled eggs. That was my choice, hardboiled eggs and black coffee. It really isn’t… sometimes you’re confronted with really not good options.

Adam Bornstein [00:52:44] Terrible options. And I want people to, A, navigate that knowing there’s room for this. We act like our bodies are not resilient and are so frail. And I don’t understand that.  Like one bad meal is going to completely ruin you in a week where you have let’s say a minimum out of 21 weeks, if you go 20 out of 21 or 19 out of 21, that somehow these couple meals that we eat out are terrible. I had to go ahead and I went to the top 50 most visited restaurants in the U.S. So this even includes the fast food chains because I’ve read a lot of diet books. I’ve written diet books. I’ve edited diet books. I read a ton of them. And I always laugh because when it comes to eating out, one, they either completely ignore it, like you’re not going to eat out or like Door Dash and Postmates aren’t right on our phone and be like oh, this is a loophole in the book, they don’t even discuss it, and so I’m just going to go ahead and swipe and take care of this. And then two, when you get these tips designed to be helpful, it’s like don’t eat the bread, don’t touch the chips when you’re out at Mexican, never order dessert, order your entrée, cut it in half, and set aside the entire thing. If you’re able to do this, I give you a lot of credit. But I have yet in my adult life to go out with someone who has cut their meal in half intentionally and set aside half and ate that. It’s like talk about being built for real life. It just wasn’t practical. So what does it look like if it’s easy?

Juliet: [00:54:17] I just want to add too I have never gone to a Mexican restaurant with a basket of chips put in front of me and not had at least one. It’s humanly impossible for me. Humanly impossible. I cannot do it. I think Kelly could actually do it.

Adam Bornstein [00:54:31] If you can do it, you’re a robot. You’re a robot. Can’t. Can’t do it. So I wanted to say, A, what does it look like if it’s easy, you can eat at restaurants. It’s okay. And B, if you have to eat at them more frequently because of lifestyle factors, because of travel, because of work, because of means, because of the hours that you work within your family, I want to show you how to navigate these menus where you’re not only ordering salads. There are real things that you can eat and I want to just teach you to eat. It’s not about going low carb or going low fat, these dietary tribes. You can actually do either one. We have enough research to say with a high degree of certainty that a lot of different diets work. Your key is to finding the one that you can sustain for the longest period of time. Your key is making sure that in each meal, as much as your capability allows, you have some amount of protein and fiber because as you lose weight, here’s what’s going to happen: You’re going to become hungrier and your body is going to fight against this. Most people don’t want to talk about it. They say, oh, when you lose weight, suddenly the pearly gates of Heaven open and you just feel great and you’re never hungry again and all you want to do is eat salad. That doesn’t happen. We need to be real about this. It’s actually the opposite. You crave more of the stuff that you want because hunger is navigated by the brain. It’s why all of the Ozempics of the world, everyone’s like, oh wow, we’ve found this magic pill. Yeah, it’s not doing anything for your metabolism. All it’s doing is changing brain chemistry so that you don’t want to eat. It’s why any type of addiction now people are like, oh, GLP-1 agonist, maybe this works because we found an addictive trigger in the brain. Love it or hate it, all you need to know is these people who are losing more weight are doing so because they don’t crave the desire to eat. Protein and fiber when you eat them, it makes you not crave more food. We should also slow down at our meals. The easy buttons, it’s one of the funniest studies I think I’ve ever read in my life. The average person eats a meal in eight minutes. Eight. I mean you think about it, yeah, some of us eat them in probably half of that, right? I know myself, I sit in front of this computer and will eat many of my meals. It takes my brain 20 minutes to process the food that we eat sending a signal to our brain saying, hey, I’m full. So how many times have you ate something, still been hungry, ate more, ate more, and an hour later you’re like oh God, I’m so stuffed, I’m so full. It’s like, yeah, because you didn’t have enough time to process all of it. and it’s the hardest thing for people to do.

Kelly: [00:57:05] You mean sitting down with my daughters and my wife and actually asking them about themselves and what’s going on in their minds is going to help me lose weight?

Adam Bornstein [00:57:14] Yeah. You have to have a conversation with your family. Yes.

Juliet: [00:57:18] I have to tell you that both my parents, my dad’s 80 and my mom’s 78, and they’re both really fit and lean, one of the things that we observed that they do is it takes them more than twice as long to consume a single meal.

Kelly: [00:57:31] Three times.

Juliet: [00:57:32] And in fact, sometimes it drives us temporarily insane because we’re like, dude, we’re not retired, we have a life, we can’t sit. It’s a little triggering to us sometimes because we need to move on in life and not be-

Adam Bornstein [00:57:42] Go, go, go, I’ve got somewhere to be.

Juliet: [00:57:43] Yeah, but it’s also such a good lesson to see. Again, neither one of them have dieted or focused on that in their life. They’ve been able to maintain their body weight. But one of the things they do is eat their food really slowly. Maybe excruciatingly slowly, but it’s a thing.

Adam Bornstein [00:57:59] There was a study that compared people who took nine minutes to eat versus 29 minutes to eat. And the people who took 29 minutes to eat the exact same amount of food put on their plate, they ate 100 calories less per meal without changing anything else. So that was 400 calories less per day, 2,800 calories less per week. You’re like how do I lose weight? Slow down the pace. And it’s true.

Kelly: [00:58:21] A whole day of calories.

Adam Bornstein [00:58:23] Yes. It’s fascinating. When you slow down or you go to a restaurant where they parse out the meals, how much you fill up just because again, when there’s food in your stomach, it sends a signal because your body is not biologically wired to just keep eating unless you’re eating the wrong things, which is a whole separate topic. Ultra processed foods do appear to be that one category that we need to limit because they don’t function in our body the same way. If you eat mostly whole foods, and some are processed, olive oil is a processed food, we don’t need to demonize all processed food. When I talk about ultra processed, I mean things that have an unnatural amount of fat, salt, and sugar added to them. And this could be things that are completely fine like some breads. Bread is not a problem. Processed bread that has added fat, salt, and sugar becomes hyper palatable. You want to eat 16 slices instead of two. And it doesn’t send the same hunger signal. Ultra processed food is another one. If this were easy, what would it look like, because there’s an amazing study done by NIH where they had people go on an ultra processed diet or non ultra processed diet. So it’s like you’re eating Chef Boyardee or you’re eating whole pasta. And the idea was that macros were identical but one was going to be ultra processed, one was not. And the first week, you have these people in these two categories. And the people started eating 500 calories more per day on the ultra processed and they gained all this weight where the people eating the non or minimally processed food lost weight. And then here’s the best part: They swapped groups. So the people who were eating the whole foods were now eating the ultra processed; the people who were eating the ultra processed were now eating the less processed food. They lost weight when they changed; they gained weight. And it’s just because these people were eating more and more and more and you weren’t sending those signals. So if you combine slowing down and you limit, restrict the amount of total processed food, those two things alone save people hundreds of calories per day, thousands of calories per week. And it’s those little things without having to cut out an entire food group, without having to remove all carbohydrates or fats or thinking you can’t have any sugar, which makes you think you can’t have fruit. These extremes are not the way forward. You need to go ahead and build these habits. I tell people all the time if your goal is weight loss, your job is to eat as much as possible and figure out how you still lose weight, and then when you get stuck, you make subtle tweaks. It’s not to remove everything because that just backs you into a corner where when weight loss stops, you’ve already cut out all carbs. It’s like what are you cutting out next. You literally have zero carbs in your body. Your body is now adapted. What are you going to cut out? Are you just not going to eat? Are you going to starve yourself? And that’s why people end up not being able to sustain results because they go to such an extreme that they don’t allow the body to adapt, they back themselves into a corner prematurely.

Juliet: [01:01:17] Are you saying that two shakes a day and a sensible dinner might not be enough food for most people? Are you old enough? Am I way older than you that-

Adam Bornstein [01:01:26] I know exactly what you’re talking about.

Juliet: [01:01:29] I’m like did I just totally date myself right there?

Kelly: [01:01:31] I don’t know if you’ve had an ice cold Slim Fast. Ice cold Slim Fast in the middle of summer, never going to turn it down.

Adam Bornstein [01:01:38] I mean but they would make it look so good because they would put it in those milkshake style glass for your Slim Fast.

Juliet: [01:01:46] Yes, with a cool straw. And you’re like yes, I can do this.

Kelly: [01:01:49] I like milkshakes.

Juliet: [01:01:50] It’s amazing. Okay, so I would like to just go back a little bit for this travel piece, in part because we both travel a ton, we have a ton of friends who have high level jobs who have to travel a lot for a variety of reasons. 

Kelly: [01:02:04] And it backs up because suddenly they’re asked to go out and drink, they’re sleeping in a strange room.

Juliet: [01:02:08] It’s compounding.

Kelly: [01:02:08] There’s more pressure. There’s a whole lot of things that make those eating behaviors matter more to everybody.

Juliet: [01:02:15] Yeah, so I mean I would just love, if this isn’t too specific, let’s say you’re going to go to LA and you don’t have a way to eat or whatever, I would love to hear a little bit about a day in the life of Adam on the road and you’re eating out 100 percent of your meals. How do you navigate that? What would that look like for you?

Adam Bornstein [01:02:32] I’m a big fan of this plus one ideology, where in any given meal you’re going to start with a protein and carb. That is kind of the base of any meal. If I’m building a plate, there’s protein and carb, and I decide whether I’m going to add a fat or a carbohydrate. If I’m going to be eating a pasta based meal, I’m probably not going to be throwing in a cream sauce or having something else. If I want to go a higher fat meal like a burger, I’m not getting a ton of fries. So the principal for me is protein and fiber make up the majority of the meal, you’re going to have a plus one and that’s it. I’m trying to create parameters that allow me to not be my own worst enemy. And what I mean by that is when we travel we oftentimes find ourselves traveling at very, very awkward times. If for me it’s important to have whether I’m on the road or not, have an open kitchen, closed kitchen where there are hours… People will conflate this with intermittent fasting but it’s not a fast. I’m not saying fast for 16 hours, fast for 20 hours. You can do that if you want. What I’m saying is that if you can say 8 a.m. my kitchen is open, 8 p.m., my kitchen is closed. And again, these are arbitrary hours. And that means before 8 a.m., I don’t care if I’m traveling or not, I’m not eating. We need boundaries in our life. Boundaries are very, very important because we’re not going to starve to death, you’re not going to suffer. We do usually our worse behaviors, 95 percent of the damage usually occurs 10 percent of the time. And it can happen early in that morning, especially on travel days, or late at night. And I go to plenty of social events but I’m either going to make the decision that I’m going to drink or I’m going to say, listen, if these people want to judge me because I’m not drinking, too fucking bad. This is how I take care of myself. The parameter is about saying I have open kitchen, closed kitchen so I don’t end up eating six burritos at 2 a.m. because I was out drinking. I’m just not going to do that because that’s not when I’m eating. If I didn’t get my food in, I didn’t get my food in. When I’m on the road knowing that things are more caloric, I have to reduce the number of meals that I eat per day. I don’t eat more than twice per day, because if you are eating at restaurants no matter what you try and do, you’re going to be taking in more calories. But if you’re smart about this, those calories can last you longer. I’m a big fan of a double dose of caffeine. I cut off caffeine early in the day, but caffeine blunts appetite, prevents you from being your own worst enemy. So there’s a coffee in the morning, there’s a coffee in the middle of the day. I will either have a breakfast and a dinner or a lunch and a dinner. And if I want, I’ll have some sort of snack, which is usually nuts or fruits or a protein shake. And that’s it. Those are the parameters. Because when I’ve done anything else other than that, even though I know how to select foods, food is delicious, food is social, you end up eating more than you want, oftentimes unintentionally. So having these parameters-

Kelly: [01:05:26] Are you saying our recent trip to German where I’d eat a schnitzel a night, it’s probably good that I was lighter on the breakfast? My typical 3,000 calorie schnitzel, probably not.

Adam Bornstein [01:05:38] I mean, schnitzel is delicious. But yeah, I think when we eat and we eat out all the time, you just have to assume that it’s not like cooking at home. You’re going to be taking in more calories. So habitually we’re used to eating at a certain cadence but what the body really needs is energy and you’re going to get more than enough energy eating those couple meals out. It just becomes a mind game of don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re potentially going to be taking in more calories even when you’re trying to make good, healthy decisions. It’s kind of like know thy enemy. So when I’m traveling to LA, I usually don’t have a breakfast. I have coffee. Coffee’s the best appetite suppressant I’ve ever found in my life. I get in, I’ll have a lunch. I’ll have a dinner. And that’ll do it for me. And if I’m absolutely starving in the morning, I’ll usually have fruit and nuts or a protein powder on me where it’s just like if the hunger pains are so much, I have a backup option that’s just really convenient. It isn’t going to be that bad for me. My kids make fun of me. I always have an apple in my backpack. I always have an apple. When I’m traveling, there’s always an apple in there.

Kelly: [01:06:46] It’s called an emotional support apple everyone, just so you know. It’s there if you need it.

Juliet: [01:06:52] I love it. They’re going to remember that about you. Isn’t that cool?

Adam Bornstein [01:06:55] They will. There are a lot of things they go, you’re so weird, dad.

Juliet: [01:07:00] I mean there’s going to be a lot of things. I do love the two meal a day. Kelly and I default to doing that without even thinking about it. We recently just flew to Michigan to drop our daughter off, which is basically a cross country East Coast flight for us so it’s an entire day affair to get there because of the time change so we usually pick up a decent lunch in the San Francisco airport and we bring that on the plane. We have a coffee. And we eat that at some point on the plane. And then by the time we arrive and get wherever we’re going, it’s dinnertime, so we eat dinner. And that’s kind of it. We eat those two meals and we don’t eat 65 bags of pretzels on the plane and we try to limit it to that. But I hadn’t really thought about that as a strategy and I love it.

Kelly: [01:07:45] Even the traveling, I was thinking about even our daughter recognizing that she would have a coffee in the morning when she was traveling with her friends and then they would eat lunch and dinner. They were like we’re not hungry in the morning, we’re traveling and we’re broke, so maybe that’s a useful strategy. I love the two. I also really do appreciate the window. When would I normally eat at home? How many times are we at the airport at a strange time and I see a line of 30 people getting strange crazy sandwiches and Frappuccinos. That’s so much and it’s 5:30 in the morning and everyone’s queuing up because it’s a habit and it’s something to do versus I’m like I’m not even hungry. So I like that window. There was one time where we were traveling for work in Austin, we got slammed and we ate dinner outside the window late. We were like we’ll get some burgers and it was like 10 o’clock at night and you and I stayed up all night with the meat sweats.

Juliet: [01:08:38] I mean, yeah, the window’s actually really helpful. Last night we went to our kid’s back to school night, didn’t get home until 9:15 and we ate dinner, and guess what, we didn’t sleep that long. Shocker.

Kelly: [01:08:49] Kitchen was closed.

Adam Bornstein [01:08:50] Maybe one of the things I’ve changed my mind most about, I’m a nighttime eater, guys. I said I have nighttime obesity. I would eat everything. And then you start measuring how it affects sleep or I started checking does this impact HRV. If I eat close to sleep, talk about just torpedoing your sleep.

Juliet: [01:09:10] Me too.

Kelly: [01:09:11] True.

Adam Bornstein [01:09:11] Just ruining your night.

Juliet: [01:09:13] For me it’s worse than alcohol. Alcohol’s not great for my HRV at all.

Kelly: [01:09:18] You drink half a drink.

Juliet: [01:09:19] I barely have that. But literally if I have a night where I eat a big meal right before bed or had a drink or two right before bed, my heartrate variability would suffer more from all that eating.

Kelly: [01:09:30] You know what I think of myself? You two, I think that’s really a nice tip for all the people, but I’m telling you HRV is wrong. I’m a human hunting animal. I have to hunt at night before I go to bed and my body is adapting to that.

Juliet: [01:09:42] I totally have nighttime obesity too. I could just not eat all day and then just eat at night. 

Adam Bornstein [01:09:47] Kelly Starrett, hunting animal.

Kelly: [01:09:49] Nighttime hunting animal.

Adam Bornstein [01:09:51] That could be your next book title: Nighttime Hunting Animal.

Kelly: [01:09:54] Diet.com. This is amazing and really, what’s really interesting, I just want to highlight for everyone that you didn’t actually tell me what to eat or what not to eat when I travel. 

Adam Bornstein [01:10:08] I’m a nutrition agnostic. 

Kelly: [01:10:11] Isn’t that interesting? And what you said was here are some principles that can help you and then do what you want to do within that principle. Thank you for that. And just double click on everyone, this book, it’s wonderful. We have conversations about nutrition with our elite, championship world athlete friends who are under fueling, who have strange ideas about body composition. I was talking to an in season World Cup athlete recently who said, “Hey, in this break, what do you think if I tried to lose a couple pounds so I’d be better at my sport?” And I said, “In the most high stress time of your life in this World Cup, you want to try to lose some weight?” I’m like let’s try to change your body composition and recomposition you next season. But right now, let’s make sure you don’t end up in a deficit. That pressure came from him thinking he needed to change his body composition in order to perform because some body composition thing was going to make him better. So it’s not just moms and dads trying to make their way in times of change. Really these principles and these foundational ideas about relationship to food affect all the people in our community and this book is such a wonderful touchstone about getting people to the right brain set.

Adam Bornstein [01:11:30] Thank you.

Juliet: [01:11:32] And I just want to add too that we are in a phase of our life that we’re all about how can we make information as accessible and relatable as possible and are like you obsessed with behavior change and environmental change and realizing that that’s the thing, these principles are the thing and this book is all that and more. And I think it’s really going to be helpful to a lot of people. So if you’re listening to this, you should check it out. 

Adam Bornstein [01:11:53] You guys are too kind. Thank you.

Juliet: [01:11:55] On that note, where can people learn more, subscribe to the newsletter, pick up the book, follow you on Instagram? Give us all the deets.

Adam Bornstein [01:12:05] My digital card. Social media, everything’s @bornfitness. The name’s just stuck forever. If you want the daily newsletter with Arnold, the name’s arnoldspumpclub.com. Arnold’s Pump Club. Easy to remember. And more about the book is my favorite URL I’ve ever created: cantscrewthisup.com. Just drop the you. Cantscrewthisup.com to get the book. You guys, I have to say, I am honored to be speaking to you because I respect both of you so much for everything that you’ve built, everything that you’ve done. And I think that I’m pretty lucky because I get to learn from a lot of people, either directly or indirectly. And I’ve been able to learn from both of you for so many years. I can’t believe that this is the first time we’ve really connected.

Juliet: [01:12:48] I know. It’s absurd.

Adam Bornstein [01:12:51] Well, the virtual in real life is pretty funny to me but this is awesome. So thank you for having me you guys.

Juliet: [01:12:59] Thank you so much. Thanks for being here.


Kelly: [01:13:05] Thank you for listening to The Ready State Podcast. If you like what you’re hearing, check out all our episodes here or at thereadystate.com. And be sure to subscribe or leave a review on iTunes to help others find our show. 

Juliet: [01:13:17] Check us out and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @thereadystate.

Kelly: [01:13:22] Until next time, cheers everyone. 


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