April: Hey, everybody. It’s April Perry and Jonathan Bailor back with another episode of the SANE Show. We’re ready for a mailbag today. How are you, Jonathan?
Jonathan: I’m doing very well because we had an awesome interchange right before we started recording about who is going to start the show and it was elegant and I wish you guys could’ve seen it but I do have to cut it out.
April: So funny.
Jonathan: It was awesome.
April: Sometimes it’s a little bit of a circus on the other side of this podcast but that’s okay. It works out really well. Okay, so we’ve had some really great questions come in. We’re going to review a few of them today.
We’re going to just start off talking a little bit about SANE sweeteners. This is actually an article that was brought to my attention by a member of our SANE Families program talking about stevia. There was a health food blogger who was saying that she was eating a lot of stevia. I went and read through the article and she was eating it, it seemed like, multiple times a day many times a day. It had an effect on her monthly cycles. This woman was asking, “With a teenage daughter, I’d hate to mess up her future options. Has anyone had this experience?” Did she rely on it too much?
I thought that was really weird. I’d never heard of that before and just wanted to bring that up to you and know what your thoughts were.
Jonathan: I have not heard anything about that but I’ll get back to the old “doses and the poison” saying which is, if this individual is using a lot of stevia — if this individual was using a lot of cinnamon — for instance, if you use a lot of cinnamon, it can have negative impacts on thinning your blood too much. If you eat too much spinach, it can damage your kidneys.
The question is just, how easy or hard is it to overdo it? Like, it’s really easy — this is an exaggeration — but it’s really easy to overdo it with rat poison. Just a teeny bit of rat poison is too much. But a little bit of rat poison — like, if you ever eat — I know this sounds silly — at fast food restaurants, they are permitted by the Department of Agriculture to have a certain percentage of “other” in their meat, which, no one knows what it is and they don’t have to disclose what it is.
Stevia, or any SANE sweetener — keep in mind that adding sweetness to everything is not a good idea even if it’s a SANE sweetener. There’s many different flavors. There’s sweet, salty, bitter, umami, so on and so forth. The idea that everything needs to be sweet is something that’s been peddled upon us by, “Don’t just drink water; add sweetness to your water.”
Stevia is definitely better for you than pretty much anything else but see it as a way to transition out of everything needing to be sweet because too much of anything is certainly not going to be good for you.
April: There was something that you’d said in one of the instructional booklets about going SANE and you were talking about treating yourself maybe once a week with a SANE dessert or having minimum SANE desserts. What would be ideal for you — let’s say, I want to have stevia or xylitol or something like that. How often would you say having a SANE dessert is ideal?
Jonathan: It’s important to distinguish a SANE dessert from SANE sweets because technically you could have a SANE dessert which is not at all sweet because you’re so sensitive to the taste of sweet that, for instance, you have something that I make is — we’ve got the clean whey protein, chia seeds, I use unflavored gelatin, cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla extract, peppermint oil, and there might be something else in there I can’t think of off the top of my head but it is —
I use it as a dessert because it’s got that chocolatey taste to it but it’s not sweet at all and it’s a phenomenal source of optimal whole food fats. That’s just where I get my whole food fats so I eat that twice a day almost every single day and I consider it a SANE dessert but it’s not sweet. At the same time, if you’re never eating any SANE desserts but you sweeten every beverage you drink, that would be troublesome.
Jonathan: So I would say, if you’re going out of your way to eat unnaturally sweet things — even though stevia is a natural non-caloric sweetener, it doesn’t naturally exist mixed with water every time you drink water. Right?
Jonathan: So there’s no right answer. You’re just trying to minimize. You just don’t want a chronic — just like you shouldn’t add oodles of salt to everything that you eat or you don’t pour oil over everything you eat, you also don’t want to put sweetness in everything that we eat.
April: Okay. That sounds great. Now, what you were describing, that was actually one of the next questions, saying, “Okay, Jonathan’s mentioning this dessert that he loves” and had written down everything that she’d heard you say — the xylitol, guar gum, cinnamon — all the stuff. But all of the things that you mentioned are really dry ingredients. So what do you put — how much liquid? Are you using water? Are you using coconut milk? How are you making this? Can you give us a little more detail because I think people are excited and they want the recipe. They don’t know how to do it.
Jonathan: Yes. What I just described — yes, I didn’t mention water because it would not work; it would just be powder that you would be eating and it would be horrible.
April: You would inhale, right?
Jonathan: Yes, that’s what I do; I do lines of this. No. I add water in the blender and we do a few — if you sign up for our free smoothie thing on the website, there’s an opportunity. There’s videos where I talk about this more. Yes, it’s a combination of chia seeds, shredded coconut, all these fun things in a blender with water, and then some ice, and you blend it up. So water is the liquid.
April: Just water. Okay, because you were like, that’s a whole lot of powder. All right. I think that’s awesome. Really, like we talked in the past, there can be a lot of just playing around with it — playing around with those whole foods and thinking about which things you like the best. You don’t have to do a certain — I mean, do you do all equal parts or do you have your own little recipe you’ve figured out?
Jonathan: I do have my own little recipe I’ve figured out just based on my own tastes and also my own goals. This is the one thing we have to — I think SANE is so empowering because I’m thirty-three; I do very intense eccentric exercises twice a week; I’m naturally thin; I’ve never been overweight. So I need to go out of my way to eat more whole food fats than most people would.
It would be bad for someone who isn’t me. Contrast me with a seventy-five-year-old morbidly obese diabetic person. They should not do that. Just like I now wouldn’t do — I don’t have an ACL in my right leg. I blew it out three times and didn’t get the third surgery. So a great workout routine for a twenty-two-year-old who is fully functional would be harmful to me based on my circumstances.
April: Right, okay.
Jonathan: So, yes, I’m just taking the whole food fats that we always talk about — and the optimal version is chia, cocoa, and coconut — and I blend them together in a blender. The one thing that I do want to mention with almost everything I talk about ever, you’ll notice that when I talk about liquids, I only talk about water. I don’t recommend a lot of coconut milk or — what’s the liquid?
Remember, liquids other than water — it’s not that they’re bad. I mean, coconut milk is a great dairy milk alternative. But do you know what’s better for you than coconut milk? Coconut.
April: Right, okay.
Jonathan: Coconut milk is a derivative non whole food of coconut. People are like, “Jonathan says, Don’t use a lot of oil. What? I thought fat was good for me.” It’s not anti-fat; it’s that everything that’s good about olive oil is in olives plus a bunch more good stuff so I like to keep my liquids pure. I like to focus on water and then I have my whole foods.
April: All right, okay. Great answer.
Next question actually comes from the podcast that you and I did talking about how I was taking SANE to the next level. She said, “Okay, talking about going extra SANE, like a five on a scale of one to ten –“ which is what I had wanted — and she said, “My question is that Jonathan always says, Don’t do anything unless you’re willing to do it for the rest of your life because otherwise it will have negative health consequences. Does this apply to levels of SANEity?”
I was like, “Oh, that’s a good question.” I mean, if you’re committed to being SANE forever at a level one but you’re only committing to a level five or ten, for that matter, for the month or so, then will there be backlash afterward in the form of decreased health or increased weight gain? In other words, would it have been better never to have done the super SANEity? Good question.
Jonathan: That is an excellent question because what the other side of this is, it is unquestionably scientifically proven that it is better for you to stay overweight than it is for you to starve yourself because if you starve yourself, you will end up yoyo dieting, which is worse for you than never losing weight in the first place, period.
It’s a really great question to then ask, “Well, if I’m eating five servings of vegetables and I decide to eat ten, if I stop eating ten, am I worse off than if I just ate five?” The answer is no, it’s not the same model. Just like, for instance, let’s say that you were practicing the piano and you were spending an hour a day practicing the piano and then you decided that for three weeks, because a recital’s coming up, you’re going to spend two hours per day on the piano. On week four, going back down to one hour a day will not cause your piano playing to revert to below it was when you did two hours per day; it’s just a different thing.
Jonathan: It’s the same thing when it comes to cellular health. Getting abundant nutrition for a compressed period of time and then going back to less abundant nutrition does not put you in a worse situation than if you’ve never had the abundant nutrition in the first place.
April: One of the things I was thinking about when I was reading this question was how you talked about people who were professional bodybuilders and they have like a competition weight and then they have a normal weight. Is it the same thing like that? Like, when they are really working out, is it negative on their body when they are not in a competition mode?
Jonathan: Yes. To be clear, body building is not a health pursuit; it’s a looks pursuit.
April: Okay, so for body building, it would be that. Okay.
Jonathan: Give me a second because it’s real clear.
Jonathan: The reason people — it’s called dieting down or cutting. When you’re a body builder, what you do is you bulk; meaning, you take in a lot of everything so that you can build muscle, and then you cut, which means you usually go down to a minimal level of calories but you’re still taking in a high protein intake so that you can shed fat and preserve muscle tissue. You are calorie counting. You’re doing this not to improve your health.
Nobody who’s on stage posing is like, “Check out my A1c levels. My blood sugar is so dope right now. Check out the veins in my blood sugar.” They’re not doing it for their health. They’re not like, “Man, I’m going to hit this back double bicep pose. Check out my blood pressure levels. What’s up?” That’s not what they’re doing. They’re after aesthetics.
There’s nothing wrong with that. I love aesthetics. It’s just, what you do — and then usually, they’ll go out and crush three pizzas afterwards because they’re dehydrated and at body building competitions, there are ENTs on staff because people do pass out because they’re dehydrated. So yes, that is not the same thing.
April: All right. So really, I experienced this because I had the full month where I was just super SANE. Well, I was a five on a scale of one to ten. I was doing exactly what you told me and I was on it every single day feeling great and then I had a month where I was sick and I was injured and I was traveling and all this stuff is going on. What I found was, I didn’t see this big drop-off or anything like that. I still felt like everything I had invested in myself the month before, I still felt like I had a lot of the good habits building up and I felt great and I did the best I could but I didn’t feel like I did back ten years ago when I would count my calories and diet and I would lose weight and then I would stop starving myself and I just felt like I just totally gave up all the ground that I had covered. It was a totally different thing, yes.
Jonathan: I don’t want to try to be too metaphysical and I haven’t thought this through all the way so it may or may not make sense but calorie counting and starvation is not healthy. It’s not good for you ever. That’s different than eating an abundance of nutrition. The point I’m trying to make is, let’s say you wanted to learn Spanish and you were like, I’m going to learn Spanish really hard for these two months.
Jonathan: There is no situation in which trying to do something good for a short period of time will leave you worse off than if you just didn’t do it at all. Starvation dieting isn’t good. I think we’ve been told to think that it’s good but it’s not. What the problem is, the reason it hurts you is because we have harmed our body; our body will then super adapt; meaning, like, I was starving; I don’t want that to happen again so now I’m going to work to prevent starvation from happening in the future so I’m going to slow down your metabolism, I’m going to store extra fat, and so on and so forth. Doing things like flooding it with nutrition, learning a new language, starting a meditation practice, helping out in — and maybe your community service levels are really low right now; for two weeks, you decided to do it and then you just decide to stop. The world is still a better place because you did it for two weeks.
Jonathan: One thing is a good thing; the other thing is a bad thing. That’s another important distinction.
April: I love that. I think it’s also recognizing if you really want consistent results, then you want to do it consistently. I think that works with anything. It’s just like strengthening a marriage. If I really pour a lot into my marriage for a couple of weeks and make the marriage better, that’s awesome than if I stop doing that. It’s not like that wasn’t worth it but if I really want a strong marriage, I need to do that all the time. I can’t just like, give it a go for a week or two and then completely abandon it.
Jonathan: It’s a great analogy. Also, think about vacations too. A vacation, by definition, is not permanent. It sure is nice to be able to take a week-long break. Sleep is the same way. You don’t stay asleep forever but the body does need a period of time in which it can recover and recuperate. Some things, by nature, are intermittent.
April: Yes, but, like, with SANE living, you never take a break from being SANE.
Jonathan: Just like I would never take a break from not cheating on my wife.
Jonathan: I have no desire to do that. Even the concept of cheating — and I use that analogy deliberately — because cheating implies you’re dissatisfied and you need a break. If you are completely satisfied with something, there is no concept of taking a break. I also don’t take a break from using the restroom. When I need to use the restroom, I go. I’m not like, “Today, just to mix things up, I’m going to try to hold it in all day.” There’s no desire for me to do that.
April: Okay. Something I didn’t know you were going to talk about today. That’s so funny.
Okay, next question says, “I want to know if there is a middle ground. I listen to all the podcasts and the example the fitness competitor is used often — someone who is professionally dedicated to their physique and how they are very meticulous about food and spend a great amount of time in the gym. I get it. I think the contrasting goals have helped me truly decipher and understand my personal fitness priorities.
On a scale of one to five, if baseline health was eating SANEly, doing SANE exercises two times a week, and was one — not as a low score; more of a time goal priority score — so I get it; that’s kind of like where I had been — and then fitness professional was a five, what would one’s routine look like if they were a two-to-three on that scale? Meaning, I don’t have fitness model goals but I like being strong and I’m willing to devote more time and energy to it and how I eat and exercise.”
I’m wondering if this is similar to the conversation that we had where I kind of went to the five, the effort. Anything else you would add on that though?
Jonathan: There is a middle ground. By definition, the thing we’ve always talked about with SANE is, it’s a spectrum and that you can choose where you want to be on it and that is directly related to your results. The middle of the road would be, you go out of your way to avoid things that are unequivocally toxic and bad. Breakfast would not contain toast or pastries.
Jonathan: If you wanted to have a donut, like, once a month because that’s cool, that could probably happen. Chances are, you wouldn’t want that because when you go SANE and you then eat that, it would taste bad to you. In this middle of the road, you would do everything you can to avoid things that are very bad. Then, you would eat things that are conventionally thought of as healthy, like, maybe you have some whole grains occasionally; maybe you have some sweet potatoes; you probably eat conventional meat rather than grass-fed meat; you eat seafood sometimes. But you would try to go out of your way to do some of the things that are good; you just wouldn’t do them good all the time. You would focus on drinking green smoothies when you can or eating salads or whatever you can for green vegetables. Would you worry about it when you were on vacation? Probably not. Would you try to drink two green smoothies per day? You would try but it’s not your number one priority.
April: Okay, I think that’s awesome.
Okay, last question says, “How does eccentric exercise work into the idea of muscle confusion? How do we mix it up and how important is muscle confusion?”
Jonathan: Muscle confusion is a marketing term invented by the company Beachbody to sell the P90X program. It’s not a real thing.
April: Are you serious?
Jonathan: Yes. There’s no such thing as muscle confusion in a physiology textbook. It does not exist. What it is is, it’s a marketing term for something which is, your muscles adapt. You do need — for example, if you do ten push-ups every day, you’re not going to progress. Just like you do your multiplication tables over and over again, your math skills will not get better and better and better.
Jonathan: But the idea that your muscles have a little brain and they’re like, “This is going to change” — your muscles either contract or they don’t, period. What you do need is progressive resistance. Meaning, if you’re a runner, you either need to run a longer distance or you need to run the same distance faster or you will regress because there’s no steady state — you’re either getting better or worse with biology; you can’t just stay constant.
When it comes to muscle confusion, what the actual term is, it’s usually called progressive resistance, which means, you want to continuously increase the stimulus if you want to continuously increase the results. In fact, things like doing different exercises every time you go to the gym can be counterproductive because it’s very difficult to ensure that you’re continuously progressing if you change what you do every time versus if you said, “Hey, I’m going to do a leg press and the way I’m going to confuse my muscles, which really means, they way I’m going to trigger my muscles to progress is, every workout, I’m going to add one pound.”
Jonathan: That’s not confusing to your muscles; it’s adaptive to your muscles. Eccentric exercise and exercise in general, try to steer away as much as you can from marketing — and I know sometimes marketing versus truth can be hard to delineate — but your muscles need progressive stimulus in order to give you progressive results. Changing exercise doesn’t change the amount of stimulus; it just changes the exercise. In fact, if you really want your muscles to progress, you need to focus in increasing resistance; not just randomly changing things or confusing your muscles.
April: So I can do the same workouts just with greater resistance and that’s fine for my muscles?
Jonathan: If your goal is to strengthen your muscles, that is how you do it. You progressively increase the force that your muscles need to generate and that causes what’s called hypertrophy, or hyper-trophy, depending on who you talk to, and then your muscles will get stronger as a result.
April: Okay, one more question. This is my question. I think that I could love yoga. I’m deciding on this because of a lot of reasons. Let’s say, you wanted to learn about yoga. Where would you go to even start? This is where I feel like I’m all over the place. For example, I think my local gym does have a class once a week. I’m going to go look and find out when those classes are. I’ve looked on YouTube. I’ve kind of searched online. There’s so many different people who just do yoga. If Jonathan — I don’t know if you do yoga or not — do you do yoga?
Jonathan: I do.
April: Okay. How do you find the right teacher? Like, Jonathan’s my nutrition teacher. Who’s my yoga teacher?
Jonathan: With yoga, it’s very — the reason nutrition is so nuanced is it’s really easy to do it wrong; it’s kind of hard to do it — so stretching and yoga. You can do yoga in less effective ways, more effective ways. I don’t actually even know how to quantify that. What is the goal of yoga? If the goal of yoga is to reduce stress, then, for example, stressing on finding the optimal teacher would be counterproductive and that’s what I did when I started meditating.
I was like, my goal in meditation is to reduce anxiety levels. What did I do? I got super anxious trying to figure out the perfect way to meditate and then I said, “Jonathan, that is not a good idea.” So then I’ve done a better job since then. With yoga, what I would do is focus on the mantra of “practically done is better than theoretically perfect.”
Jonathan: So if you have a gym that you’re already a member to and they offer a yoga class, do that. Go to YouTube and find some videos, do the yoga exercises. If they make you feel good, keep doing it. If they make you feel bad, pick something else. The way I got started is, I read a book called “Real Men Do Yoga” because it was written by a guy who taught yoga to professional athletes and I said, “Well, that’s interesting.” I’ve never taken a yoga class; it was just self taught and then I keep doing the stretches that make me feel good. I stopped doing the balancing stuff because it made me feel incompetent. I’ve done it for like fifteen years at this point and it’s been very helpful.
April: Okay, that’s awesome. I love that idea. Just doing it feels good and moves you forward. I think that would be the next action I would use for this podcast. I don’t know if you have anything to add to it but I feel like a lot of what we’ve talked about today is how we want to be progressing. I mean, the reason why people listen to this podcast is because they want to progress in their nutrition and taking care of themselves.
I love that what we’re talking about isn’t, “You have to do this one thing and if you don’t do it, you’re not perfect and you’re a big loser.” It’s nothing like that. It’s just taking that time to step back and to assess what are my goals, how am I doing right now, how am I feeling, and how can I optimize that just little by little in what I eat and how I exercise and how much thought and energy that I put towards that.
At the end of the day, I feel like there are so many things on each of our plates. Health and nutrition is not the only thing. It’s a big thing but it’s not the only thing. As we’re working to build our families and our businesses and take care of our communities and all the stuff going on, I feel like the more we can just identify one little thing at a time and progress in that area, that’s going to bring so much more benefit and balance to all the other areas as well. It’s not that hard to do. That would be my suggested next action. Anything else you’d add on that?
Jonathan: I would say, Transcribe what April just said because that was a bunch of lists — that’s a stretch goal. The stretch goal is to listen to what April just said.
April: See how fast you can type.
Jonathan: Write it down. Yes, April, I think that’s one hundred percent spot-on. I couldn’t have put it any better myself. On that note, let us tell our wonderful viewers and listeners thank you again for joining us. Please remember that, today and every day after, stay SANE. We’ll chat with you soon.