College students pepper me with more thoughtful questions!

In this episode, I discuss melatonin supplements, overcoming knee pain, and a lengthy discussion of how to set yourself up for a good night’s sleep, every night. I describe how tracking visceral fat is the best way to determine overall health status, and ponder the philosophical question of where society is headed in the future—more toward health or toward sedentary?

I talk about the potentially unhealthy examples presented by bodybuilders and influencers, and how to obtain benefits from consuming social media content. Finally, I describe how to get loved ones into fitness and nutrition.

Enjoy, and stay tuned for part 3!


Continuing to answer questions from students, Max asks Brad about the use of Melatonin to aid sleep. [01:53]

Mac wants to know what Brad recommends for knee pain. [09:21]

What is the best advice to get a good night’s sleep? [13:00]

Julia is asking about BMI. Is it a fair way of determining someone’s health? [22:17]

Brad, do you predict that the amount of people living a sedentary lifestyle will increase or decrease in the next few decades? [31:31]

What does Brad think about body builders as influencers on social media? [44:10]

How do you get a loved one, who desperately needs it, into fitness and nutrition? [48:52]



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Brad (00:00):
Welcome to the B.rad podcast, where we explore ways to pursue peak performance with passion throughout life without taking ourselves too seriously. I’m Brad Kearns, New York Times bestselling author, former number three world-ranked professional triathlete and Guinness World Record Masters athlete. I connect with experts in diet, fitness, and personal growth, and deliver short breather shows where you get simple, actionable tips to improve your life right away. Let’s explore beyond the hype, hacks, shortcuts, and sciencey talk to laugh, have fun and appreciate the journey. It’s time to B.rad.

Brad (00:39):
Strengthen those tendons, strengthen that calf muscle. Work hard, push yourself. Push your body. If you have a weakness or an area of recurring pain such as the common complaint ofKnee pain, guess what?

Brad (00:51):
Welcome to part two of Brad answers questions from college students about health, fitness, peak performance, and many other interesting topics. These questions were so much fun to absorb and answer. I hope you enjoyed part one. I filmed that audio only ’cause I was driving in rush hour traffic andI just threw down. I concentrate well under pressure, I guess, uh, but now I figured I would film this and, uh, improve the sound quality here in the studio. And we have way more questions to work through from these very interesting and thoughtful students at Quincy College in Boston, Massachusetts, taking advantage in many cases of the great Massachusetts offering of free tuition for adult students, first time college students. So we have like ex-military and a lot of things appealing to people in the older age categories that can head back and indulge in the great state of Massachusetts.

Brad (01:53):
So thank you Quincy College students. We hit it hard on the first episode. Some of the questions came about my career journey transitioning from my time working at the world’s largest accounting firm and going into the career as a professional triathlete and all the growth and learning experiences I had. And this barrage of questions looks like it’s pretty much sticking to matters of health and fitness and peak performance. So here we go. We’re just finishing up with Max, questions that comprise the entire first show. Great job there. And one of ’em was I have trouble sleeping and take melatonin a fair amount. How do you feel about the use of melatonin? Well, my starting point for all manner of health and lifestyle optimization is to run as clean burning engine as possible. So my first choice is to eshew a prescription or over the counter agents and try to manage things on my own.

Brad (02:57):
And this dates back to my time when I was training as a professional triathlete competing on the circuit. There’s an option every day to slam a bunch of coffee and head out and get pumped up and go do your 80 mile bike ride, but I always wanted to feel the full brunt of the state of my readiness to train the state of my recovery, um, my, my energy levels and all that. So if I woke up feeling like crap, I did not want to override that with a central nervous system stimulant, because I believe that over the long run, it would lead to poor decision making. Same with taking an Advil because my back was a little stiff before swim practice, so I didn’t touch anything for that entire 10 year career on the pro circuit. And it worked really well for me.

Brad (03:43):
That meant if I had a severe headache, I would get migraines once in a while, once every few months, maybe, um, probably associated with my crazy high carbohydrate diet back then. And the traveling and the extreme stress of the training regimen. When that happened, I would put an ice pack on my head and I’d get in a dark room and I’d sleep it off. If I was to give a keynote address to the graduating class at Quincy College, I’d have to rally that day and perhaps, uh, get some intervention. But I believe the first and best strategy was to always go out natural. I tried to apply this and it didn’t work out well in post-surgical recovery. So I’m gonna provide a caveat now when the medical professionals advise me over and over to quote, stay ahead of the pain.

Brad (04:37):
In other words, pop the pill before you’re really arriving in severe pain. Um, that’s how to manage, you know, these extreme cases where you’re recovering from acute surgery. And I was like no, I’m fine. I’m gonna tough it out myself at home. And what happened was, on a few memorable occasions after my appendix surgery and after I had a bladder procedure called a uteroscopy, I was in severe pain. And it took a while to climb out of it, including trying to take more than the recommended dose of whatever they gave me. So that was pretty brutal. And I much respect to, uh, those times when you need to rely on pharmaceutical intervention. But those are few and far between. I had a wisdom tooth pole this year and I said, you know, I’m just gonna go rough and tumble here and just tough it out.

Brad (05:28):
And I was, uh, almost finished with the podcast with the great Olympic sprinter and current announcer Otto Bolden. And I think, uh, in the final minute of the show the Novocaine wore off and I became overcome with incredible pain such that I collapse on the ground for a half an hour right after the show ended. So if you listen to that show, and I sound a little cracky there in the final minute, thanking Otto for his time, that was because I did not stay ahead of the pain. And I strongly recommen managing pain carefully when you have big deals. But, oh my gosh, the indiscriminate popping of over-the-counter and prescription, uh, uh, substances to manage symptoms and relieve your pain has gotten extremely out of hand. And even when we look at things like a fever for an illness that is the body’s way of baking out that fever and helping you get better.

Brad (06:28):
So to quell the fever or to quell your cough or whatever you’re doing, you’re just stuffing down, um, the, you’re not addressing the root cause and you’re arguably prolonging your suffering. And over time, when it comes to, for example, the seemingly harmless non-steroidal anti-inflammatories that people pop indiscriminately that can very easily compromise your ability to, uh, manage inflammation naturally over time. So take stuff when you need it, but otherwise, um, go clean. Now, melatonin’s not really in the category of a prescription drug that overrides, uh, genetic function nor, um, something like a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory that can have adverse long-term consequences. I know some, uh, respected fitness leaders like, Dr. Art Devaney, I believe he claims to take 40, uh, 40 milligrams of melatonin every night. Some huge, massive dose. Usually we’re talking about, uh, five gram doses when you get the typical liquid or pill form commonly used for travel and helping overcome jet lag.

Brad (07:38):
Um, I’ve barely tried melatonin ever. I think I’ve tried it here and there and associated with jet travel to, uh, try to help. And I didn’t really notice any effects. And so I can’t be an expert commenter here. But it’s not something I would try to add into your daily regimen as another pill to take, like vitamin C probably best use when you’re trying to recalibrate your body after traveling through time zones. And that’s just my personal opinion. And I also noticed from, uh, a blood test long ago that my melatonin level was like skyrocketing off the chart and nobody really could gimme a good answer. Why? But I know when, uh, 10 o’clock or 10 30 comes around, I am just completely overcome with a tremendously strong desire to sleep. So I produce melatonin really nicely, and I get to sleep very easily.

Brad (08:37):
And I attribute that good attribute to, uh, working hard to stay clean and manage my circadian rhythm very carefully, such that my body operates as intended. Now, if I was having my eyeballs glued to email screen every night from 10 to 1130 to catch up after my busy, hectic day, I imagine that would dramatically compromise my ability to produce melatonin essentially on cue and gracefully fall asleep every night. So, I want lifestyle intervention and optimization first before reaching to, uh, pills, especially of the powerful, uh, prescription nature.

Brad (09:21):
So the next question from Mac, when it comes to knee pain, other than stretching, what’s your recommendation for mediating the pain? Well, um, thanks to my recent associations with great performance sports-minded physical therapy. I know there’s a lot of physical therapy options out there. So I strongly advocate if you’re a fitness enthusiast, to look for someone that has that connotation that they support athletes and performance and active lifestyle, rather than just kind of a feel good physical therapy option where they’re doing massage creams and ultrasound and things like that. So when I go to my physical therapy appointment, it is a high intensity training session. I am pushing it, they are pushing me through the paces, and it’s been wonderfully successful. Shout out to Kime performance physical therapy in Sacramento and PT Revolution in South Lake Tahoe. And their entire staff of very well-trained, highly athletic minded and athletic oriented, uh, practitioners. Like my man, Jonathan Sandberg at Kime Physical Therapy races his bike on the weekend. So he’s a competitive athlete himself, and he gets in there and he makes me work. And that is how I recovered successfully from two different Achilles tendons, injuries.

Brad (10:39):
And, surgery in one case is strengthen those tendons, strengthen that calf muscle, work hard, push yourself, push your body. If you have a weakness or an area of recurring pain, such as the common complaint of knee pain, guess what? I’m going to strongly associate that condition with, uh, insufficient quadricep strength, perhaps insufficient mobility flexibility, and the hamstring glute complex hip flexors, something is not working optimally and thereby your knee joint is experiencing inappropriate skeletal loads and sheer forces from the activity that you’re doing. And so it’s just more or less a sign of muscle dysfunction or weakness because the joints are built to withstand a lot of impact trauma. We can obviously notice that from a high performing non-injured athlete that can dunk the basketball seven times a game or in the contest. And so, we always have these notions that running is really hard on the knees.

Brad (11:47):
So now I’m 50, I don’t run anymore. I ride my bicycle. Okay, okay, whatever. We wanna make sure we’re doing the most sensible and enjoyable fitness activities. But, you know, strengthening your muscles so that you can perform and receive and absorb appropriate skeletal loads, helps increase bone density, increase muscular strength, muscular endurance. So, um, it’s not like we have these, um, you know, curse of dysfunctional weak knees that, uh, inhibit you from enjoying your life. It’s only when you let your muscles go, you transfer that trauma to the joints. And when we’re talking about elderly population and trying to get out of chronic pain, again, the number one path is strengthening the muscles. And no, you’re not gonna be able to dunk a basketball if you’re an octogenarian, just trying to, uh, manage your ability to ascend to descend stairs or walk around the park or do things you like to do. But the secret is the same for everyone. All right, so, that’s my answer to knee pain.

Brad (12:54):
What’s your best advice to get a good night’s sleep? I’ve talked a lot about this on the podcast. Done entire shows dedicated. So in short, a good night sleep starts first thing in the morning. Why is that? Because if you awaken near sunrise and immediately expose yourself to direct light, and not necessarily meaning the shining sun, but I’m talking about natural light. So even if it’s a cloudy day in the wintertime, there’s still sufficient natural light to trigger the appropriate circadian functions first thing in the morning that will be directly associated with your ability to fall asleep on cue gracefully later that evening. Namely, when you expose your eyeballs to direct light first thing in the morning, you experience a natural and desirable spike in the preeminent stress hormone cortisol.

Brad (13:54):
You also experience a suppression of melatonin, melatonin and adenosine, and another appropriate and desirable rise in the mood, elevating hormone serotonin. That is all what’s supposed to happen first thing in the morning when you wake up. Now, if we are not getting out to direct light, and by direct light, I mean not through a glass window, but you have to have no barrier because the glass will block some of that important UV. So it can’t be on your car ride or can’t be looking out a, uh, from your home, you have to get outdoors. If it’s minus 30 out, that could be kind of tough, but at least spend a couple minutes opening up the from the glass and getting your eyes going. And, uh, even, even better or more of a convenience as you can also do this with, uh, photobiomodulation, with a red light panel that will mimic the beneficial effects of sunrise and natural light.

Brad (14:55):
And I talk about that a lot. I step up to my mito red light panel as my very first act upon awakening. Then I will eventually shuffle outside and start doing some, uh, morning exercises and so forth. But I hit that light panel for like one minute, and I go from feeling groggy to feeling much better and pretty alert, especially in my eyes. So that’ll this light exposure triggers that drop of melatonin and that rise in mood elevating and energizing hormones. So that’s what you did in the morning. During the day, try to expose yourself to as much natural light as possible. And then after the sun sets in your environment, I want you to, for the rest of your life, give a little nod a silent prayer, an acknowledgement, whatever you want. You can set an app on your computer screen that you know, to, to remind you that it’s sunset.

Brad (15:55):
I use this great program called, what’s it called? I used to use F Luxe. And then there’s another light optimization, app that’s that’s really nice that I use. It’s called Iris, excuse me, IRIS. So you can download this app and you can optimize your screen light exposure to help more closely align with your circadian rhythm, so things get, uh, nice and mellow in the evening. There’s also, um, an accessibility feature on the iPhone. I’m sure they have it for Android phones as well, where you can choose a different color hue. And on, at a glance on a push of a few buttons, you can, you can switch from bright white light to a nice red hue. And if you’re watching on YouTube on video, I’m gonna put my phone up to the screen, hit it three times, and you can see it switches to a nice mellow reddish oranges hue emanating from the screen rather than bright light.

Brad (17:02):
So the act that you wanna do when it, when the sun sets in your environment is to acknowledge that, um, your circadian rhythm wants it to be dark now, and it wants to initiate the complex hormonal processes that will eventually lead to a good night’s sleep several hours later. Of course, in modern life, we don’t really want to wind down when the sun sets, especially if we’re in Stockholm in the winter, and it gets dark at 3:15 PM or Seattle or, Vancouver or what have you. So we’re going to be, uh, working and enjoying ourselves recreating, socializing long after the sunsets, typically. And so what we wanna do is, as it gets closer and closer to bedtime, we wanna minimize the sources of artificial light, as well as digital stimulation, which is generally where we get a lot of our light source, especially when we’re up close to a screen.

Brad (17:59):
We wanna minimize artificial light and digital stimulation after it gets dark, after the sunsets in your environment. So this is an attempt to more closely align with your circadian rhythm. I’m not saying that you need to go to sleep soon after the sunset. What I’m saying is you want to respect, give a nice little nod to the setting sun, which has governed the circadian rhythms of all life forms on earth for the last 5 billion years, 4.6 billion years, excuse me. And so it’s a big deal that we’ve only recently been able to override with the invention of the light bulb from Thomas Edison and from the computer <laugh>, the Netflix from Joe, Netflix, and all the other stuff that enable us to stay awake, alert, and energized due to the presence of significant amounts of what they call blue light.

Brad (19:02):
That’s the, uh, the, the what the light is described on the UV spectrum. It’s not really blue, it’s mostly, we look at it as white light bulbs generating blue light. Of course, the sun, um, is also a source of blue light. So a lot of times they use that term without describing it. I don’t want you to get confused by the term blue. Uh, so we could even call it, you know, lots of bright white colored light after dark is going to disrupt your circadian rhythm. Basically, it’s gonna suppress melatonin production. ’cause melatonin is a very sensitive hormone that is calibrated to release into the bloodstream in increasing amounts with the presence of a darker and darker environment. So we wanna wind things down. Then in the final hour before bed, it’s highly recommended to initiate a evening ritual that’s very similar and programmed and methodical because you want to teach your brain that it’s time to go offline, to slow things down and transition into a good night’s sleep.

Brad (20:09):
So this evening, ritual is very important on different levels. One of ’em, it’s gonna, for example, get you off screen time and get you over to leashing up the dog to walk around the block in the dark. It’s a great way to end the evening or otherwise, do something that’s soothing, relaxing not stimulatory, like looking at a screen is, or perhaps even having a lively conversation. So if you want to wind things down by playing a quiet card game, rather than watching an exciting, thrilling program, uh, on streaming media, that’s a good example of winding things down. Arianna Huffington with her bestselling book, the Sleep Revolution, talks about her recommended evening ritual of lighting some candles, having nice bath, getting outta the bath, putting on sleep garments rather than regular garments. And all these little tidbits are teaching your brain that it’s getting close to time to do lights out, and that will help you go offline smoothly and successfully, as opposed to not respecting the clock as much.

Brad (21:20):
And the circadian rhythm influences as much and going, going, going, answering emails, answering emails, hitting, send on the final one, slamming the lid closed and heading over to try to go to sleep right then and there. And what happens is a lot of people find themselves stirring and tossing and turning and reaching for the phone, the absolute worst thing you can do. Who, and then again, once that emission of light from the phone blasts your eyeballs, hitting the super chiasma nucleus, the light sensor going into the hypothalamus and saying, Hey, um, it’s light out. You need to stay awake. This is like human nature and human circadian rhythm. So when we expose ourselves to too much light after dark, it interferes with falling asleep. That’s a really long answer. I was gonna be brief, but what’s more important than sleep? And there’s another question here about, uh, what to prioritize. So I’m giving you a hint of what’s number one on your lifestyle optimization protocol.

Brad (22:17):
And now we go into Julia’s questions. Do you believe BMI, that’s body mass index, is a fair way of determining someone’s health? BMI has been widely criticized because those with a lot of muscle mass will have a high BMI score because it’s a simplified version of looking at one’s metabolic health and one’s, uh, body composition status. But, you know, you can, um, type into a formula, you know, a chart, uh, calculator on the internet and say, oh, I’m five foot 10 and I weigh, um, 214 pounds, and it’ll say, BMI excessive, unhealthy obesity. But not if you’re a running back in the NFL whose, uh, solid muscle at five ten two fourteen, a vastly superior way to quickly, easily, and very graphically assess your metabolic health is to track the presence of visceral fat.

Brad (23:24):
This is the unique and distinct kind of fat that gathers around the abdominal organs and is firm in nature. So you have a firm protruding belly. You can see the extreme beer bellies that mostly, uh, males, um, uh, present, especially as they get up in the older decades. And it looks like they have a bowling ball under their shirt because the fat is very firm as opposed to subcutaneous fat, which gathers just underneath the skin, that’s the meaning of that term. And that is loose skin, soft and floppy and flabby. Most people are not impressed or, uh, happy to have either one accumulating there, but visceral fat is vastly more health destructive than the accumulation of subcutaneous fat, which is largely harmless. So if you’re bummed about your thunder, thighs or thick calves or, or whatever, wherever the subcutaneous fat is accumulating, you can realize that it’s not a huge health destructive phenomenon in and of itself.

Brad (24:32):
But the accumulation of a little bit of spare tire it wreaks havoc on your hormonal and metabolic function. Basically, um, the visceral fat is technically, literally classified as a separate organ because it has the ability to secrete substances into your bloodstream just like your, uh, adrenal glands or your liver or other organs, right? So visceral fat belly fat secretes an agent, uh, called a cytokine. It’s an inflammatory molecule that promotes the condition of system-wide inflammation, which is, uh, many experts believe is the root cause of virtually all disease is an inflammatory state and undesirable chronically and system-wide inflammatory state in the body. So when you accumulate a bit of visceral fat, you suppress important adaptive hormones. The sex hormones get suppressed. So in the case of a male, you’re going to suppress testosterone when you add a little bit of spare tire.

Brad (25:39):
And when you suppress testosterone and secrete inflammatory cytokines into the bloodstream, this predisposes you to the accumulation of more visceral fat. So it’s a slippery slope downhill into accelerated aging and increased disease risk. So it’s sort of the ultimate battle of aging through the decades of the thirties, forties, fifties, and so forth, where you wanna keep that visceral fat off your body. It’s the absolute same phenomenon for females. So females are less predisposed to pack on a huge accumulation of visceral fat because they are more adept at storing more fat throughout the body. Sorry to break it to you, but that is sort of good news in terms of your hormonal embedded boic health, because what visceral fat essentially means is that your body’s lipid transport and storage systems are becoming overwhelmed. So you’ve done the best you can to, uh, when you eat too many calories and don’t burn enough, et cetera, uh, your body stores the excess as fat, especially when you have, um, right high glucose levels, you’re gonna try to manage those with insulin production.

Brad (27:07):
Turn the excess calories into triglycerides and put ’em into storage. So when your fat storage system becomes overwhelmed, then fat starts to accumulate in undesirable areas such as around the abdominal organs and, uh, causes hugely destructive adverse health consequences. Here’s another place where genetics come in and we talked about the male female genetics, and there’s also this familial predisposition to store fat, um, easily or perhaps not. So if you come from a line of skinny, slender familial genetics, you may have what is, uh, widely referred to as skinny fat condition. So this means people that are still appearing to be slender, but still accumulate the visceral fat because the body just isn’t inclined to store a lot of fat. You people out there know who you are. Look at your middle school and your high school pictures. You were skin and bones and maintained a relatively more slender physique than perhaps your average peer.

Brad (28:21):
And then there are some people that come from long line of larger genetics and tend to store a lot of fat. And those people are generally better off than the people who have that skinny fat condition where there’s not an inclination to store a lot of subcutaneous fat, but then it goes, boom, right to the abdomen and causes more problems. So, how about that? You thought you had bad luck or bad genetics, and it’s actually favorable to be able to store that fat in a benign manner rather than that really health destructive. Okay. Dr. Phil Maffeton’s book The Over Fat Pandemic, he contends that somewhere around 91% of the world’s population can be classified, categorized as quote over fat. So rather than using the term overweight, and back to the question about body mass index, there are people that are of a normal weight when they put on appropriate flattering clothes, they might even look a slender and metabolically and healthy with their body composition.

Brad (29:28):
But if we examine further, there’s the presence of visceral fat and even a small amount of visceral fat is obviously undesirable. So the goal would be to get that thing to zero or very, very close. And you can now get the DEXA scans or the bio impedance scales that they have sometimes at sports clinics, health clubs progressive doctor’s offices, and they’ll give you a calculation for your visceral fat right there. Okay. So, um, body mass index is very basic and rudimentary. And now we have the visceral fat tests that I more strongly recommend. And one way you can track that is with a pair of tight fitting pants. ’cause we’re talking about fat accumulating around the waistline and the abdomen. That arguably more important than even monitoring your ups and downs on a scale because there are other variables and influences on your total body weight. especially the fact that I don’t think enough people appreciate that our body weight can fluctuate, um, 2, 3, 4, 5 pounds a day just from all kinds of factors.

Brad (30:36):
Hormonal cycles, menstrual cycles, water retention, inflammation. If you’re eating a lot of processed foods, um, you’re gonna be in an inflammatory state where there’s, the cells are retaining more water. And that’s how when you go on a crash diet and starve yourself, you can lose 10 pounds in a single week. A lot of that is just a reduction in glycogen and cellular inflammation from not consuming an excess of calories. But of course, um, that’s going to recalibrate easily. If you sit down and eat a couple big meals, you might gain five pounds after you were so happy to lose 10 in one week. So get that tight fitting pair of pants and track that visceral fat. And if you start feeling too firm in the abdomen remember flabby would be even more preferable to a firm abdomen trip out. Here’s a big philosophical question for the future that we’re all gonna think about.

Brad (31:31):
Brad, do you predict that the amount of people living a sedentary lifestyle will increase or decrease in the next few decades? Whew. Man, I have so many thoughts about this, and it weighs heavily on me because I see some disturbing trends right now. And one of ’em is this sort of split, this fork in the road where those who are, uh, inspired, informed, have the free time and their economic resources to pursue healthy living are going further and further down this wonderful, glorious path. So I’ve been able to immerse deeply into the quote ancestral health movement end quote, that began around 2006, 2007, 2008, Mark Sisson, and Mark’s Daily Apple Blog launched in ’06

Brad (32:28):
And it’s been so gratifying to see the tremendous growth of people honored and inspired by the example of evolutionary anthropology, evolutionary biology, um, hunter gatherer ancestor practices in diet, exercise, fitness, lifestyle. We’re trying to more closely connect to our circadian rhythm and adapt to ancestral fitness patterns and, dietary choices. Hunter gatherer fare and all that stuff has been really great to see. But we’re talking about a narrow sliver of the population. When you see a bestselling book about diet or about longevity, like Dr. Peter Attia’s Outlive has been top on the New York Times bestseller list for a year now. Apparently there’s some estimation that only 10% of Americans will even buy and read a book. So it’s like, okay, pretty soon we’re preaching to the choir. And those on the healthy path are doing great, and getting more and more refined, sophisticated, interested memberships in progressive health clubs are growing and booming and, uh, uh, apparel brands and Peluva shoes.

Brad (33:33):
We’re still excited to see the tremendous growth in people interested in five toe shoes. But we’re talking about a tiny, tiny sliver of people. And on the other fork in the road are many people that now have less time and resources and support in the community and in the family than ever to, uh, adhere to healthy lifestyle practices, largely because the hyperconnectivity distractibility and more of the hectic high stress patterns, the consumerism, the social media obsession with instant gratification and time on digital devices, that’s inhibiting what was probably there naturally decades ago. So, you know, when I was a kid, if I tracked my steps and what I had to do, I didn’t have a device in my hand, so I had to do other stuff like ride my bike or, you know, over to a friend’s house, and then we’d ride our bike somewhere else, and then we’d walk to here, walk to there, or play physical activity outdoors because we didn’t have a video game console that simulated, um, you know, a seven story mine shaft or a drag race on the street with our video game cars.

Brad (34:50):
And so life was much more physical back then, especially for the younger age groups, the, the, the Hughes and teenagers growing up. And that’s, uh, incredibly sad and tragic. And that crosses all the socioeconomic categories, right? Um, doesn’t matter if you have limited means or you have plenty of means, uh, you’re still, uh, engaged in all these hugely sedentary driven lifestyle factors. Um, we talk about budget a lot when it comes to, uh, shopping for healthy foods. And I got several more questions along those lines from these college students. Likely some of them are on many of ’em are on a budget, right? But guess what, um, I visit in affluent area in Los Angeles often, and, um, uh, there’s a line down the street for In and Out Burger, <laugh>. And, these the looks of the cars in there, uh, the, the six figure purchase for the, uh, the vehicle online, uh, indicates, suggests that they do not have a budget problem with food.

Brad (35:57):
And so they’re going to inn out burger for other reasons. So, we can, however, notice and observe and respect the crunch of many people trying to make ends meet and how that can really, really compromise one’s effort to be healthy, uh, fit and also eat nutritiously. However, I’m gonna make a lot of examples and a lot of suggestions that transcend even those who have limited time and limited budget. And one of them in the fitness realm is that you can get super, super fit with a very limited time schedule of exercise. So you can do a high intensity, I call ’em micro workouts. I have videos, you can search YouTube, Brad Kearn’s micro workouts. There’s podcasts about this, where you do something difficult and strenuous. And maybe if you only have a minute or two at your busy job, like standing up at your cubicle and dropping for a set of 20 deep squats, you’re gonna feel that muscle burn, that huffing and puffing that will deliver an excellent fitness adaptation.

Brad (37:03):
In one minute. I talk about my stretch cords a lot that hang from you can hang ’em off a doorknob or hanging from a, a pull up bar. And if you do one set of a couple exercises, you know, let’s say, one set of four different exercises, it probably takes me two minutes and it’s extremely strenuous and an extremely good stimulation for large muscle groups of the upper body. So getting fit takes much less time than you realize. And I think almost anyone at any socioeconomic category has enough free time to get super fit if they can set themselves up for success by, for example, putting a sticky note in your cubicle saying, drop for a set of 20 deep squats. Do it at least three times a day and build these habits. Now, when it comes to food budget, I’m gonna hit that with a direct question later, but you can do pretty well, even on an extremely limited budget.

Brad (38:04):
So again, to answer the question, what do I predict over the next few decades? I have tremendously high hope that we are going to grow this path of healthy living, healthy active lifestyles. One way is as um, society becomes more affluent overall, and more people have the, uh, the time and the resources, then I think things like fitness are going to explode in popularity. Because once you are able to, you know, know, meet your basic needs, and hopefully with the inexorable progress of technology in society, hopefully more people will ascend to whatever class you want to call it from, you know, the struggling class today hopefully can become middle class in the coming generations, but we do have a lot of concerns about that as well. But for a lot of people, there’s an opportunity there to have more disposable income and more free time in the years and decades ahead.

Brad (39:04):
I didn’t say tomorrow, and I’m not dismissing anyone’s current flight and current time and budget crunch, but it’s possible. And I envisioned careers like a personal trainer taking off and exploding because hey, everyone needs a personal trainer, right? Of course, it’s gonna be like commonplace or like a hiking guide in a major urban area could be an actual career path where you’re the most expert hiking guide in Los Angeles, and you have a team of staff and there’s seven hikes this weekend, and you pay $50 a month or a hundred bucks a month to be part of the club, and you can pick a hike by the beach, and there’s an expert guide there, and they give you some, uh, some nutrition and hydration and, you know, they, they guide you and help you. Same with, you know, dog trainers could be a huge growth career in the years ahead as more, as more people have more time, more energy, and more resources to, uh, support a great life for their dog.

Brad (40:03):
I don’t know, what do you think? We also could head in the other direction where the increasing use of technology and screen time could just plunge us further into what appears now to be a, a truly disastrous state of human health in the developed nations of the world. It’s never been worse, right? I mean, the percentage of Americans who are classified as overweight or obese is higher than any time ever in the history of human race. I love those cute things You can Google like, uh, New Jersey Beach scene compare 1940 to 2024, or New York City Street scene. Paul Saldino just did a, a post on Instagram that just came up, I noticed today showing the different videos. And you look at like a giant a picture of, uh, a hugely crowded beach in New Jersey in 1940.

Brad (40:59):
And 90% of the people are of a comfortable, healthy body weight. And then you look at one today, a giant crowded beach, and somewhere around 64% are overweight or obese. It’s a dramatic change. And I saw this personally also amongst the youth. ’cause I used to run a nonprofit organization that visited elementary schools. We served a total of around 10,000 kids at 10 different school. I mean, 5,000 kids at 10 different schools. And boy, not to sound crass, but you know, when I was in elementary school many decades ago, um, there was a very small percentage of kids who were already at an unhealthy body composition. And they were generally, um, you know, ostracized and teased and excluded from physical activity, or at least, you know, not, not celebrated. And, you know, they, they, they stuck out, um, like a sore thumb.

Brad (41:57):
And, um, today that was the norm that I experienced for about seven or eight years of doing this at a variety of different schools, variety of different variety of different socioeconomic categories. But the norm was an unfit kid, and the exception was a kid who could, for example, run a half a mile without stopping, um, to see it and have that visceral experience of showing up and visiting these wonderful kids. Just getting started in life and realizing what, you know, what’s happened in society over the past several decades has been a mindblower. And, sometimes I, I lost my, I lost my cool on this topic. I remember one time showing up at one of the schools and there was a table of kids just sitting there watching the action. We’d get kids running on an obstacle course or getting, doing them a timed half mile run and being lasted for several hours on the day.

Brad (42:58):
It was super fun. All the classes came out. But there was a huge group of kids just sitting there. I said, what’s, what’s up with you guys? Why aren’t you participating in the obstacle course? And, um, the kid said, one of the kids said, oh, we have notes. We all have doctor’s notes. We can’t, we can’t run. Oh, really? Okay. And so each kid was packing their note and I said, how about this? Why don’t we all walk through the course instead of run? I said, get your butts up. Let’s go. I’m not taking any note for some excuse of some 10-year-old kid. Oh my goodness. Just a amazing, you know, a note to get out of exercise at an elementary school. Of course, some of those kids had a note for a reason, and I’m not talking about that, but I’m talking about, however the heck you got to that point where you’re sitting on a chair when you’re able bodied enough to at least walk through an obstacle course. Let’s, let’s, you know, let, let’s take action here and let’s realize what kind of, what kind of trouble we’re in with the youth. And it starts by setting an example as an adult. I think I’ll do, uh, one more and then, um, have this for a nice wrap show, knowing that there’s many more questions ahead from the Quincy College students.

Brad (44:10):
Here’s a random one, Brad, how do you feel about competitive bodybuilders being the faces of fitness for young people on social media, given that they go through unhealthy caloric deficits leading up to their show and also likely utilize performance enhancing drugs? Hey, what about the extreme example of bodybuilders? Forget that for a moment. What about all the influencers and people that are in your face every single day displaying these incredibly perfect physiques and stylized content that they’re spinning out with the possible ramification of making you feel inferior?

Brad (44:49):
Because the standard is so incredibly high, and it’s also incredibly prevalent, right? We can find in the next minute, I can find 10, accounts on Instagram where people are, um, showing off their amazing glistening six packs and doing incredible athletic and fitness feats on one level. It’s great to see all those people out there dispensing helpful content if they are indeed dispensing helpful content instead of just opposing. So I’m not giving a blanket dismissal of fitness, people sharing their lifestyle, and hopefully, a motivating and inspiring others. Of course, I’m one of ’em. So, uh, I’m, I’m showing you my, my sprint workouts or my high jump or, uh, whatever my information is, and I’m doing that for a purposeful intent, right? To, to motivate and inspire you, but certainly not make you feel diminished, shamed, or anything of the sort.

Brad (45:41):
But I think we’ve definitely crossed over that line where the consumerism of culture, the comparative culture that’s so easily done now with social media gives us that disease, state of FOMO, fear of missing out. So we need to have, um, personal discipline, focus, and intent to consume content for your own personal entertainment and value inspiration and potential personal growth, and let it go at that, don’t succumb to those negative emotions and that comparison culture. And there’s no easy way to, uh, extricate from this except to assert that, especially with young people that you have an influence over. I remember having a lot of talks with my kids for whatever level of effectiveness, at least you put it out there, call it out and say, Hey, this is a little bit ridiculous. You don’t have to buy into all this, and I appreciate the question.

Brad (46:39):
Or bringing up the example of bodybuilders because they are going to extremes and, uh, a lot of their, when you’re taking it to that high level is, uh, massively unhealthy and, um, all put together to be a sort of a glitzy presentation rather than promoting a lifestyle. However, I can think of a whole bunch of content creators and fitness influencers that are out there working hard every day and sharing their workouts, sharing their lifestyle, sharing their dietary habits. And I believe that’s tremendously valuable and beneficial. And even a bodybuilder, even a competitive bodybuilder who’s, you know, creating authentic and real content saying, yeah, this is my final week, before the contest, and I’m cutting back on my calories and I’m doing this, and I’m doing that, and I’m shaving and applying tanning cream to look my best for one day.

Brad (47:35):
And then perhaps, put another post up a week later when you’ve a added back your normal hydration and glycogen storage level and look significantly different. Maybe that would be helpful to see what bodybuilders really go through and don’t judge it, or, you know, disgrace it with disparaging comments because they’re doing a lot of healthy things for their body too. They’re working hard, they’re scrutinizing their diet, perhaps taking it to the extreme. But maybe that’s a very appealing alternative to lifestyle of addiction and gluttony and sloth and lack of discipline. Okay, so, I know the reactionary negative comments about social media, but I also wanna put out a plug for the ability to consume content and have it benefit your life. And I do that myself. I look for these people that are recommending great sprinting drills and strength training tips, and watch it, absorb it, consider it, perhaps test it out in my own life, see if it has value. Same with dietary habits and tips and all the podcast content that I put out and consume. It can all be a good thing, a positive thing, but requires a lot of discipline. So that’s where I stand on all that.

Brad (48:52):
Okay, one more question. How do you feel about getting a loved one into fitness and nutrition who desperately needs it? And my answer is, you don’t. Why not? Because it’s probably not gonna work, and it probably could even create some tension, a rift, some resentment. So the charter here, the assignment here is to lead by example. And then when your loved ones are ready to receive information or guidance or inspiration or camaraderie doing something together the opportunity will present itself, but it has to come from them. And we’ve had so many questions on this over the years.

Brad (49:45):
People would come up at our Primalcon retreats, where we went deep into it for a weekend with super, enthusiastic, primal livings. And the question would always come up yeah, my spouse isn’t here, how can I get him enrolled and excited about this stuff like I am? And the answer is, you can’t do it. You can’t force it. And if you try, it’s gonna backfire on you. This is also true with kids, even though you have that powerful puppeteer influence over kids in the younger age groups from let’s say zero to 10, if you try to assert too much of your will and take too much control over their own free will, I promise you it will backfire in the later years. So, leading by example is 100 times more powerful and more effective than your mouth, or all the little subterfuge and sort of, you know, underneath the surface, um, efforts made like, I don’t know, putting up sticky notes or making helpful suggestions like, Hey, I thought we would take a hike today before the movie.

Brad (50:55):
And, trying to sneak things in and, and do things that have the potential to backfire. Now, when it comes to having a life partner or raising children, there’s a certain amount of energy here where you have a right to address certain subjects. And when it comes to a life partner, say, Hey, I’m committed to a healthy fit lifestyle. I’m committed to keeping my home free of toxins, pollutants, allergens, and processed foods. And I really wanna sit down and have an important talk with you about my standards, my boundaries, my wishes, my dreams, my desires, and see how they line up with yours and see if we can come to, um, healthy decisions, rules, standards, and so forth. Um, so, you know, one of my rules is I don’t like smoking in my home, so there ain’t no one who’s ever gonna be smoking in my home.

Brad (51:49):
And I talked to the guys who are building it right now with all the cigarette butts outside. And I said, go ahead, man. Thanks for, thanks for building the house, and when this gets closed in and you’re working inside, we’re not gonna have any of those. So, there it’s okay to assert, um, your right to certain things. And when it comes to kids, um, I told my kids, uh, several times. I said, look, here’s the thing. I just wanna prep you for the next decade, let’s say from ages eight to 18, or whatever it was. I said, I’m gonna fight a couple battles with you over and over, and they’re gonna be about screen time, screen use, as well as healthy dietary choices. And it doesn’t mean I’m gonna be militant and you know, unreasonable, but I’m not gonna allow purchases in the home that are, you know, don’t meet my standards.

Brad (52:37):
Doesn’t mean I’m not gonna agree to stop at seven 11 after a hot, sweaty soccer practice and get the kids to go in there and get whatever they want. And if someone grabs a candy bar, um, I might make a, a pointed commentary, but it’s not, I don’t feel it’s effective to just throw the hammer down over and over just ’cause you’re bigger than your kid. ’cause one day, as George Michael sang, I’m gonna be big enough to break down the door, ah, ah, right. So leading by example and coming from a loving, supportive, generous place. Anytime, you’re able to be, be helpful and intervene, that’s the secret. That’s the only way to do it when it comes to loved ones. Thank you for listening, watching to the college students peppered Brad with questions and we’ll have a part three coming up soon.

Brad (53:30):
Thank you so much for listening to the B.rad podcast. We appreciate all feedback and suggestions. Email podcast@bradventures.com and visit bradkearns.com to download five free eBooks and learn some great long cuts to a longer life. How to optimize testosterone naturally, become a dark chocolate connoisseur and transition to a barefoot and minimalist shoe lifestyle.



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