Get Practical and Inspired Immediately with NPR’s Lisa Davis
NPR’s Lisa Davis
Jonathan Bailor: Hey everybody. Jonathan Bailor back with another calorie myth show and have a very exciting and a new experience to share with you today because I am joined just by a wonderful fellow host and health enthusiast and charismatic individual who loves to just celebrate similarities and make wellness successful for people, but also the first ever guest to be walking on a treadmill while we are recording here. Lisa Davis, welcome to the show.
Lisa Davis: Thank you, Jonathan. I just got this treadmill yesterday. I want to shout out to my friend Ted who helped me set it up and also my husband’s glad that Ted helped me set it up and it is awesome. I can do everything. It’s awesome.
Jonathan Bailor: That one totally is and I think people, and I was one of these people, think that the whole standing up or walking while working is either painful or hard or reduces productivity and my personal quick story is I had a horrible back and shoulder pain really bad. That bad like on pain medicine because I was just like I have to keep working and I can’t make this pain go away. I tried all these different desks, chairs, ergonomic set ups, and then one day I just said you know what I’m going to take my desk and I’m going to turn it into a standup desk. So I just have books piled up, I got my keyboard on a pile of books, and back pain went away. So I’m like, “Woo-hoo!”
Lisa Davis: Yes, it’s going to make a difference.
Jonathan Bailor: It’s very, very cool.
Lisa Davis: It’s awesome.
Jonathan Bailor: Well, Lisa, I am so thrilled to have you on the show. You were kind enough to have me on your NPR show twice and I wanted to reciprocate the favor because I had such a good time chatting with you. But can you tell us a bit more about what set you on this journey? Because your show is quite popular. You’ve been doing this for quite some time. Take us from little Lisa to today Lisa.
Lisa Davis: All right. Well, little Lisa had a mother who was very health conscious and a father who was health conscious. He was a marathon runner. And little Lisa – unfortunately my mother ended up having a lot of chronic pain and we didn’t really know why. Turns out years later she had fibromyalgia, but we never really understood it. But I just saw her suffer a lot growing up and I just felt like people don’t appreciate their health enough, and my mom used to always say if you have your health, you have everything because she didn’t have her health even though she really tried. So I wanted to influence other people to live healthy lifestyles.
So it’s funny though on the flip side, I was like the most uncoordinated kid ever. The fact that I can talk and walk on this treadmill is actually kind of amazing. So I wasn’t into athletics at all and then in high school I got really into swimming and like towards the end of high school and then I discovered the joy of something athletic and then I just kind of started getting into the health field. I worked as an aquatic therapist, as a personal trainer, sex educator, Hepatitis C educator, got my Master’s in Public Health, in Health Ed, Health Communications, and kind of just went from there.
Jonathan Bailor: Lisa, you have a very diverse background in terms of health, but you’ve also in many ways climbed. There’s a lot of people that are interested in health, but there’s not a lot of people that are in the position you are in in terms of your popularity and your radio show and stuff. How did you do that while doing everything else you have going on in your life?
Lisa Davis: Well, you know, it’s interesting. I actually did – when I got out of school, I volunteered at a community station for a year because when I was getting my Master’s in Public Health, I made these commercials on skin cancer prevention and the guys who were filming it – and I’m not saying this to be conceited – but they’re like, “Forget about health, you should be on TV. There’s something about you.”I’m like, “Yes, but I’m not an actor. I don’t want to…” I’m not somebody like at 30 like, “I’m going to be on television.”They said it doesn’t matter just do something and I did love that medium, I loved health communications.
So anyway I volunteered for a year and then I took my reels to a local station and they had a money show and a movie review show and I did a health show and I bugged the guy for six months. You got to be really persistent. You can have that fine line of not being too much of a nudge, but enough you can – and he finally said, “Okay, we’ll do one show and if I like it we’ll do a season,” and he loved it. It’s called “Health Power”. I did that in Central California. It ran for two years and then I moved East and I did a public affairs show for a couple of years and then a friend of mine said, “Hey, I know about this spot to get into radio.” I said, “Well, I never did radio, but I’ve done TV.” I started doing that. That was supposed to be this small little [inaudible 00:04:38] show and I thought, ‘I’m on radio why not start reaching out.’
Jonathan Bailor: Yes.
Lisa Davis: So it’s like taking chances, right? I started calling celebrities, publicists and some of them were like, “Who the heck are you,” and within a couple of years now it’s like the same people you hear on Jerry Gross and you see on Good Morning America and all the other national shows are on my show. So I think for me it was not taking “No”, or if I took “No”, step back, regroup, and just keep trying because it’s tough.
Jonathan Bailor: That’s where I was going to go next is like how – I could imagine with any type of influence or almost sales-like job where you’re trying to convince people things you’re going to hear “No” a lot.
It’s not just like you can show up, go to the office, put in the time. It’s very much you have to be a self-starter, you have to be motivated. So what do you think it was about you or your approach that kept you going in the face of those “no’s” and in the face of no one really helping you? It just had to be the Lisa Davis Show. You had to make it happen.
Lisa Davis: Yes, exactly. Well, it’s funny because I was talking to my best friend from childhood recently and she said, “Someone asked me how you got into this.” And I said, “What did you do again?” I kind of just said what I said, but also like with It’s Your Health Network, I’m the only one. I do everything, which is crazy. I should have a staff of about 50 and I also have a child with special needs, and I got a husband, and I got an old dog, and it’s hard to balance. But I don’t know, I just felt like I want to get this word out and I want to educate people because I just see people taking their health for granted and I just keep thinking of my mother who died in her 50s and she kind of just kept me going and that’s something that’s important to me.
Jonathan Bailor: Lisa, I really want to unpack this because I was so honored to speak with you today and to actually get your face on camera because you mentioned you have a husband, you have a child with special needs, you have a professional career. So often, the number one reason I hear and I’m sure you hear as well — most people understand that their health is important. Most people understand that they don’t want to have diabetes, they want to be around to see their children grow up, yet they say that there’s something about my life circumstance that makes this impossible, usually from a time perspective; secondary excuse is money. You are a perfect example of if it means enough to you, you will find a way. How do you communicate that to people?
Lisa Davis: That’s a good question, [inaudible 00:07:01], but I rarely get tripped up. I’m just persistent. But you’re right, I think it depends — I have to be honest. So I am lucky I have a husband who is incredibly supportive. He was there for me while I was building it and not really making a living.
So it’s like you have to have some sort of support system in place and so that really helped. But I do think people need to reach out more and try to find that time because people always say, “Well I don’t have the time, I don’t have the time.”
Well, you can get up super early, you can carve that time, write it down in a book, and I know we’ve all heard these and I feel bad that I have nothing original to add, but it’s a tough question. I just think it’s – like I said for me, I have my mom in my head and like keep going, keep going, and help people like her. She just went from one illness to another and died from ovarian cancer in her 50s, and I was only in my 20s. We were just starting to get close because it was kind of rough growing up and being her caretaker.
Then finally I’m like, “Oh I’m in this good place with my mom,” and I’m like, “Oh where is she.” So I think when you have a loved one that passes sometimes — but then you see people who smoke whoseparents died from smoking, so you’re like, “What the heck are you doing?”Sorry, but I get so frustrated. What do you say to that when you see that? How do they not connect the dots?
Jonathan Bailor: Lisa, I think you actually hit the nail on the head here and this is something that I’ve been thinking about for a long time, and it’s only people like you I think, through their example, that can really convince people of this which is I believe personally the reason individuals may often struggle to make healthy changes is because the motivation or the why inside is shallow or superficial.
For example, if one’s goal to change their body composition is to make the number on the scale go lower or because society says you should be a size 8 instead of a size 16 that doesn’t light a fire in you that will make you – that doesn’t put such a deep “yes” inside of you that will make saying “no” to other things easy.
The thing that gets me excited is I see examples just like vegetarians or vegans. I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan, but that is a really hard thing to do. Being a vegan is super hard, but you have millions of people who do it and don’t wake up in the morning like, ‘Oh my God, how am I going to be a vegan today?’ They just make it happen and why? Because they’re “why” is so much deeper than like, “Oh, society says I should be smaller.”
Lisa Davis: No, that’s really good. I also have a daughter who has no brothers and sisters and my husband and I, we’ve always taken good care of ourselves, but now we’re like even more. I want to live to 110. I want to – because I had her late, I had her at 37.
Jonathan Bailor: Wow.
Lisa Davis: She’s only nine and I really want to be around, and it’s so important to me. I’m a size 12 by the way and I still feel good about myself. I’m curvy, but I’m fit.I think you can be both.
Jonathan Bailor: Absolutely.
Lisa Davis: But I do think you’re right. The reasons have to go deeper.
Jonathan Bailor: Yes. Lisa, so you mentioned –hopefully this is okay to disclose.
Lisa Davis: Sure.
Jonathan Bailor: You mentioned that you had your child when you were 37.
Lisa Davis: Yes.
Jonathan Bailor: You mentioned that your child is nine, so I’m assuming that means you are how old?
Lisa Davis: I am 46.
Jonathan Bailor: Well, you look fabulous for being 46. I was like — when I saw you on camera because I’ve heard your voice a lot, but when I saw you on camera I was like, “Oh, Lisa, yes, she’s in her early 30s” so props to you.
Lisa Davis: Thank you. Well someone the other day was like, “How do you still look like you’re in high school.” I’m thinking, I look better now than I did in high school. I couldn’t get a date in high school, okay. I had the braces, the frizzy hair, people teased me and called me Olive Oyl because I used to slick it back in a braid because it [inaudible 00:10:45] hideous. Yes, now I’m like, “Damn, now I wish I could go back in time.” Well, you’re quite a looker yourself.
Jonathan Bailor: Oh, thank you so much. Well, I too went through the – I wore braces for five years so I had the glasses and the braces and all that fun stuff. Well speaking of physical appearance, Lisa, you’ve been putting yourself out there for years, you’re on the radio, you obviously exude self-confidence without being cocky which is a rare trait and one that I admire. Where do you think you get this confidence from?
Lisa Davis: You know, it’s funny because I always grew up feeling like an ugly kid, just a nerdy kid because I was so un-athletic I used to get picked on. You hear about, “Oh you got picked last for the sports.” Not only [inaudible 00:11:27] did I get picked last, they would fight over who got stuck with me.
Jonathan Bailor: Oh, no.
Lisa Davis: I went through kindergarten through high school with these same people, and it seemed like no matter what I did, it was like, “Oh Lisa, she’s kind of a loser.” I wasn’t super smart, I wasn’t super athletic, I was just kind of average, and my family life was chaotic and I just felt not really good about myself. It wasn’t until I left home and went to college that I found myself and realized that I have a lot of gifts to offer, and I’m a good person, and I treat people well. I don’t know, it just kind of helped my confidence overall.
Jonathan Bailor: Let’s unpack that. So you went to college and you found yourself. So was this freshman, sophomore, junior year? Did you go off to the Himalayan Mountains and have an epiphany? What was that? Did you have an inflection point?
Lisa Davis: No, not really. I think honestly it was getting – I hate to say I loved my mother, but I was her caretaker, my sister and I, and I think having always this heaviness and feeling like people at school didn’t really get me and I had my two best friends and they did. But once I was gone, and I didn’t want to go at first. It was funny, I was afraid to leave my two best friends, but once I was there, you could start over. There’s this great line on this – I think it was from the show “Undeclared”, which is a Judd Apatow show and I loveJudd Apatow. The guy was saying to his friend, he’s like, “Oh, I’m nervous about going to college,” because he was kind of a geek and the guy’s like, “Nobody knows what you were like. Nobody knows unless I tell them like I just told everybody that I was kind of a loser, geeky, and skinny awkward kid.”
But when I went to college, I kind of was a late bloomer. I suddenly had a nice figure, and I felt better about myself, and my frizz went away, and I just embraced life. I realized that I was actually a really friendly person because I’d always been kind of shy growing up and I don’t know, it just kind of happened. A funny story, I remember my best friend came to visit me and people were like yelling out the quad windows like, “Hey Lisa.” She was like, “What the heck is going on?” Like [inaudible 00:13:26]. So that’s where I’ve gone. Taken a lot of therapy too; I’ll be honest. It’s been hard stuff to get through.
Jonathan Bailor: Well speaking of that hard stuff to get through. So often it’s those moments, that hard stuff – as you know a lot of unhealthy decisions are not because we necessarily don’t know what to do, but because of the same reason a lot of people turn to drugs or alcohol or unsafe sex, people turn exactly…
Lisa Davis: To sex, not unsafe though. [inaudible 00:13:58] because I couldn’t get a date and then all of a sudden there was guys everywhere that wanted me and I felt like that’s the only way for self-worth for a while.
Jonathan Bailor: So what have you done in…? In the meantime a lot of individuals do turn – in times of struggle, there is the opportunity to turn to that which will make you worse off…
Lisa Davis: Yes.
Jonathan Bailor: …and in times of struggle to turn to things that will make you better off. What was it about you that you think helped you to turn to I’m going to turn to health, and fitness, and wellness rather than turning to drugs and alcohol?
Lisa Davis: Well, I have to be honest, for a while I was doing better and then when my mom died that really – I was a mess. I needed help. I was sleeping around and not taking good care of myself because I was young. I was in my 20s.
But then there was a point where I just kept getting in a relationship after relationship that I knew – there was something off. The guy was too jealous or I was putting up with stuff that normally I’d be like, “I’m not going toput up with that kind of stuff.” I got this book and it talked about red flags and what to look for. I wish I remember because it was a turning point. I was like, “Oh my gosh, what am I…? I have to stop doing this,” and I went to therapy and I worked on myself and getting confidence from the right places and although all that time I was still eating well and exercising, but I still was engaging in behaviors that weren’t good.
Then luckily I got myself together before I met my husband, although he might [inaudible 00:15:28]. No, actually I continued to see somebody after that therapy-wise because there was still some issues I had around not wanting to have a family because I associate with families as being negative. Then I realized I really did want to have a family and I’m glad I did even with the challenges.
Jonathan Bailor: All right. Lisa, you mentioned time to work on yourself. I’m sure you’ve heard the following, “I don’t have time to take time of myself.” What do you say to individuals like that?
Lisa Davis: That’s the hard thing. You have to make time, but then I feel it’s so tough on different economic situations, different family structures whether you have support in your life or not. But I think at the end of the day, even if it’s just five minutes a day of walking around the block or taking some deep breaths, you’ve got to do something otherwise you’re going to go nuts, right?
Jonathan Bailor: Absolutely. No, I think it makes a lot of sense. Also it sounds like you spent quite a bit of time thinking about that which actually helps you. I think so often we say what does other persons say I should do or what does other person say is the most effective approach. We can certainly use those to influence ourselves, but actually finding what actually helps us –it seems like you went through a trial and error period and without doing that – just thinking we’re going to stumble upon the right answer is maybe a myth.
Lisa Davis: I agree. I agree, yes. I had to go through some tough times and I had a lot of losses in my life. My mom died, and six months later my grandpa died, and six months later a seven-year relationship broke up, and three months later my dad remarried and I was on this rollercoaster like, ‘I can’t take it anymore. When are things just going to…?’ I started getting that sort of “the shoe is always going to drop”. When’s the other shoe going to drop?’ I lived this sort of fear for a while of what’s next and it’s nicer now to be in a place of – there’s ups and downs in life, but I’m not constantly looking over my shoulder.
Jonathan Bailor: Brilliant. Well reaching this place of a more homeostasis, the light at the end of the tunnel, tell us a little bit about what you got going on now, what’s coming up next, and where people can learn more about you and learn more about all this wellness activity you got going on.
Lisa Davis: All right. Well, you can go to ItsYourHealthNetwork.com. I have great interviews with people like you and Henry Winkler. I just interviewed Tony Danza, and Jennifer Beals, and Ralph Macchio. It’s kind of funny I’m doing all these interviews of “Skin Care Over 50” with Jennifer Beals, and “Fitness Over 50” with Ralph Macchio and everyone’s like, “What? How are they over 50? That’s mean I must be … Oh my gosh, I’m almost over 50.”
I’m also on a show called Naturally Savvy which is on RadioMD. You can listen to that on iTunes or iHeartRadio. You can also listen to Beauty Inside Out which we’re taking a hiatus from. That’s also on RadioMD. I’m doing a new show called Give Cancer Attitude that plays on 1060 KRCN in Colorado. Reaches almost all of Colorado Saturday mornings. I’m very excited; it’s brand new so I’m very busy. It’s a little insane.
Jonathan Bailor: Oh, just real quick…
Lisa Davis: I love being busy though.
Jonathan Bailor: Absolutely, busy with good stuff and meaningful stuff. So give us a list of URLs real quick. Just what are the URLs.
Lisa Davis: Okay. ItsYourHealthNetwork.com. RadioMD.com.
Jonathan Bailor: Beautiful. It’s Alisa Davis, correct?
Lisa Davis: Alisa Davis, yes Lisa.
Jonathan Bailor: I love it. Lisa, well this has been absolutely a pleasure. I hope we get an opportunity to chat again. I know we’ve just scratched the surface here. So thank you for your time and thank you for your example because it’s through people like you that I think individuals can find inspiration and say, “If Lisa can do this, I can do this,” and that’s really what we need more of. So thank you for being the change we want to see in the world.
Lisa Davis: Well, thank you. You have a great show.
Jonathan Bailor: Well, Lisa, again thank you for joining us today.
Lisa Davis: Thanks.
Jonathan Bailor: Listeners, I hope you enjoyed this wonderful conversation as much as I did and please remember this week and every week after: Eat smarter, Exercise smarter, and Live better. We’ll chat with you soon. Bye-bye.