How inSANE Exercise Destroys Your Thyroid with Lyn-Genet Recitas
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Jonathan: Hey, everybody. Jonathan Bailor back with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim show. Today is going to be an exceptional show, because it’s one of those rare shows where we have a guest on, and it is so much fun. And all of our guests are fun, but you know. Some are just these radiant elements that you cannot help but try to get back on the show, and today’s guest is so radiant and so busy that I am so happy that she’s come back to build off of our first conversation, which was a lot about food and we’re going to talk a lot about exercise today. And it’s going to be really, really fun. She’s a New York Times best-selling author. She’s been all over the world and the web. You’ve seen her on Dr. Oz, Fox News. She’s basically taken over the world, which is awesome. And the reason she is is because her book The Plan is just changing lives all across the world, which is beautiful, as is she. And her name is Lyn-Genet Recitas. Lyn-Genet, welcome back to the show.
Lyn-Genet: It’s so great to be talking to you again.
Jonathan: Well, it’s always a pleasure, and Lyn-Genet, had to have you back. I know you’re jet-setting. You’ve got your private plane, you’re just flying. But I had to get some time here before the holidays to chat with you about exercise, because I know you’ve gotten some reactions like I get because our messages are so similar when we talk about eating, and it’s kind of shocking to people. And they’re like, “This is controversial.” And we’re like, “Actually, it’s not when you look at the results and the science.” And exercise is certainly no different. So can you just give us a quick overview of the divergence you’ve seen between what we’re all told about exercise and what you’ve seen actually work?
Lyn-Genet: Well, you’re talking to an actual former exercise junkie. In my early thirties I was running fifteen miles a week, in the gym six days a week. I would force myself to take a day off. Thankfully, I had a son and life got busier, or I’d probably be dead going at that rate, or I’d have no thyroid left. What wound up happening is here I am at the age of forty-eight, and I exercise three times a week for twenty to thirty minutes, and I’m very structured in my exercise. My body fat is exactly the same now as in my early thirties and I weigh five pounds less. And what we’ve found is I’m not unique. What we found is The Plan’s all about tracking data. We all have our own theories, right? But at the end of the day you can’t argue with what you see again and again and again.
I started to notice that when I was working with clients, especially after the age of thirty-five, that many of the times their body wasn’t responding well to excessive exercise. In fact, we started to see certain markers that it seemed to be counterproductive. So we would see that their thyroid function would drop, their blood pressure would increase, they had type I or type II diabetes, that their insulin would rise, and they would have weight gain in response to exercising too much. So we found that most people would do really well with a thirty-minute run. They would do great, they would lose half a pound, we would see their BBT rise we would see their blood pressure stable. All of a sudden, they would exercise for an hour, and we would say, “Wow.” Now, you’re stabilizing or gaining weight with the exact same foods. And whatever your health condition is seems to be getting worse.
So we decided we were just going to run some tests about three or four years ago, and we found that people that exercise five to six days a week seemed to lose 25 percent slower than other people, and actually sometimes caused weight gain. But their accompanying physiological issues would increase. So we really put everyone now on a pretty strict regimen, that we will not allow you when you’re working with us to exercise for more than that, and what we’ll do is we will test later exercise as a variable. How does your body respond to the stimulus of exercise? And that’s why you can see some people who are marathoners, and you look at them and you go, oh my god, you are a runner. And you see other people and you think, you can walk up a flight of stairs? Right? Some people in fact can do these long amounts of exercise. Some people are built to run a triathlon or be an Iron Man. But most of us are not. In fact, most of us, because we have such stressful lives, our cortisol levels are so high that we’re actually increasing our cortisol with this exercise.
Jonathan: So if I understand correctly, Lyn-Genet, two things are really important. One, looking at what one person that is not us does and saying, okay, that works for them, so therefore it will work for me can lead to badness, and then also, this message of just exercise more. Just more, more, more. More, more, more. It sounds like more is definitely not always better.
Lyn-Genet: Right. Right. And you know, it’s funny. I remember working with one woman, and for people that are deconditioned, I really start off with a small amount of exercise and see how they respond to it. And then we use their BBT and their weight – their basal body temperature; that’s what BBT is – their BBT and their weight as a gauge. I had one woman inflammatory to twelve freaking minutes of exercise. We actually had to cut her down to eight minutes. Her body responded to that, and then obviously we developed a program so that she could become more conditioned. But when you see people and they’re going to these exercise classes or these boot camps or their spinning classes, and they’re actually gaining weight, which is just so common. Not only that, but they’re stressing themselves out. It’s hard for people to allocate this time.
And so, so many people are saying, you know what? I don’t have the time to exercise for an hour four, five, or six days a week. I’m not going to exercise at all. And when you find that you only need to allocate small periods of time, and that it’s doable, and your body will benefit. That’s just helps on so many levels: weight loss, endocrine function, the whole nine. It was just – overtraining can decrease blood levels of L-glutamine and dopamine and our body isn’t able to repair. It can affect the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and it leads to thyroid dysfunction. It can increase cortisol. It can suppress metabolic activity – all kinds of craziness. And then ultimately, it’s going to start affecting in men, their testosterone levels, and in women, it usually makes them estrogen-dominant.
Jonathan: And what are the – let’s get really specific here for a second, Lyn-Genet, because I know you and I know the science, and a lot of our listeners are getting more and more familiar with the science, but let’s break down, let’s go specifically with females here, and what is it about a very common scenario? For example, I’m going to wake up early, really early, so I’m going to cut my sleep back by an hour and a half, and then I’m going to go for an hour-long jog on pavement, and then I’m going to come home – what is that doing that may be counter-productive?
Lyn-Genet: That’s such a great question. Okay. First of all, on The Plan we’re kind of crazy and neurotic, so we have you measure everything so you can actually see that when you cut your sleep by an hour and a half – let’s say your basal body temperature is running around ninety-seven, which we consider somewhat functional, and you wake up an hour and a half earlier and all of a sudden it’s ninety-six point one. Already that’s a sign that your body hasn’t had enough time to repair, and your thyroid, which is responsible for activating every metabolic and cellular function, isn’t at 100%. So already we’re operating at a deficit.
Now, when you exercise too intensely for your body, what you’re going to do is you’re going to increase levels of cortisol. And we find this especially when it’s periods of increased heart rate with no decreased heart rate. Because cortisol and our hormones basically come from the same place, which is an easy way of saying it, it’s going to suppress some of our hormonal functions. And in men it traditionally will be testosterone. And in women it will traditionally be progesterone. Of course, each person is unique. And what winds up happening is that will start to affect our thyroid. Remember our thyroid is a master gland that’s responsible for our metabolism, our energy, our sex drive – all this good stuff. So by exercising too intensely, we’re just giving the thyroid and our hormones just a drop kick each and every time.
Jonathan: And Lyn-Genet, just a quick point of clarification for the listeners, because I know folks who listen to this show have a very precise, let’s call it, definition of intensity. When you say “intensity,” is that more correlated to the duration and an uninterrupted duration, or for example, would doing a more interval-based, resistance-training-based short duration, although it’s high intensity, cause these same negative impacts?
Lyn-Genet: You see, each person is really, really unique. Like I said, there are some people that can run an hour and a half and do really great. There are some people that do well with less sleep. That isn’t the majority of people, but if you’re that person, then you go ahead and literally run with it.
I do find, however, that when there is no periods of decreased heart rate, that what winds up happening is that the heightened levels of cortisol and the oxidative stress – and oxidative stress is a big one, especially as we age – so our body just can’t repair as quickly. It’s going to start to affect functioning.
So I always like to tell simple stories because that helps. I, as you know, as I told you earlier, was an exercise nut. Right? And here I am, I’m frustrated, I love that my business is so good, and I love the kids, I love my life, but I’d like to exercise more. And I’d like to be effective with my exercise. So, I decide I’m going to have a kettlebell instructor come over to my house and teach me kettlebells because they’re cool, they’re Russian, they’re macho, and it looks pretty awesome. I have a guy come over to my house, and he teaches me kettlebells for an hour, and he does the traditional kettlebell style. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. Constantly elevated heart rate, kicking my butt. Next day, I’m up a pound.
Now, when you’re on The Plan, you’re actually going to know each day what you should weigh based on what you do. That was just not normal for me. So I said, “Hmm. Okay, I’ll just put that in the back of my mind.” And the next week, the guy comes over, he trains me and at the time my fiancé, and we’re both up a pound and Bill’s up a pound for seventy-two hours, which is classic inflammatory response. The next week the guy can’t make it, so I said, “You know what? Let me do the exercises he taught me, but let me do it the way I prefer to do it.” I know my body works best with forty minutes, max, and it works better with periods of decreased heart rate. So I interspersed the kettlebell activities with some decreased heart rate exercises. I’m down point-six.
That’s the fun of understanding your physiological response to the exercise that works for you. Now, I could have taken one of my clients and that forty minutes might have been too much maybe. Fifteen or twenty minutes would have been appropriate. Each person’s response is going to be different. Some people will do well. We have this one couple in Canada, and they’re both Iron Men, and she’s an Iron Man champion. Now, obviously she does really well, but once again, she’s not the normal. So when we’re thinking that we need to go harder, faster, stronger, longer – that might not be true. And all I want to tell people is, if you don’t see your body responding then you know that’s probably not working with me, and maybe if I take it back several steps, I’ll actually do better.
Because what winds up happening, too, is once again going back to the stress levels – people are like, “Oh my god, I’m so stressed out. I need to work out. If I don’t work out, I’m going to kill somebody.” Right? So they go for that spinning class or they go for the CrossFit class, and they have that short-term boost of serotonin and they feel really good. But they didn’t know that they exercised too intensely for themselves, so they’ve actually also increased their levels of cortisol. So guess who snaps a little bit more easily the next day at work? You. Right? “Oh, what do I need to do? I need to work out so I don’t kill somebody.” Right? Short-term boost of serotonin, long-term you’re raising cortisol, and it just starts this cycle.
So when I work with really avid exercisers who are on The Plan, and they’re fighting me that first week: “Lyn, I need to do this. I need to do this.” And by the second week, they’re: “I am loving this. I’m exercising half as much, I’m losing three times as much weight, I actually have time to spend with friends and with family, my kids, or just relax.” I mean, that’s awesome.
Jonathan: Lyn-Genet, I can certainly empathize with this personally. I too was a chronic exerciser in my previous life. I was a personal trainer. And I kid you not, since I was at a gym – that was where I worked – I would exercise at least six days a week, often twice a day, thinking that again, more is better. And I can tell you first-hand that in addition to all the science we all talk about, even for me personally, I now exercise one day a week, and we can…
Lyn-Genet: Oh my god.
Jonathan: …one day a week, and I have both better metabolic markers than I have ever had, as well as my waist at the time I was exercising – this was thirteen years ago, at the time when I was exercising that amount – I had a thirty-four inch waist. Today I have a thirty-and-a-half inch waist. So…
Lyn-Genet: Hysterical. So you and I are, like, twins.
Jonathan: Exactly. Exactly. And Lyn-Genet, one thing that I think is going to be really helpful here for the listeners is, so we’ve talked about these chronic over-exercisers and how scaling back and doing it smarter can be beneficial for them. One thing I want to also clarify is for individuals who are not currently exercising or who are not over-exercising, I want to get real clear for these people. For example, let’s say there’s a person who goes for a thirty-minute jog once a week. I believe our message is not “just cut that in half.” Our message is more, “you can’t just drop quantity. You have to think about quality of movement.” And there’s a bit of a yin and yang relationship there.
Lyn-Genet: Absolutely. You know, I personally find people do better with two, three, and sometimes as much as four times a week with small amounts. Because most people need to get to a certain level of conditioning. Most people do need to have their cortisol lowered and serotonin boosted. But we are very precise with what is effective exercise. For instance, when you bring up running, or what I consider the bane of exercise, the elliptical machine. You know, we want to vary our exercise, certainly. We want to increase muscular strength, which would mean some sort of weight training, or something along those lines. We want to have a variety of exercises. We want to do stretching; we want to do a bunch of things. But certainly I find that most people do well with anywhere from half an hour, to an hour and a half, to two hours a week. And more than that tends to be too much for most people.
Jonathan: And the reason for what we say, “too much for most people,” I think a key distinction that at least has been really helpful for me is oftentimes these archetypes we see in our culture are athletes. It is their job to do physical activity. And they have got precise coaching, and they have got some genetic predispositions that we don’t have, and to think that it’s even healthy for us to do the same things they are doing – it seems a little off-base. Is that fair?
Lyn-Genet: Right. It’s definitely genetic predisposition. Absolutely. But they also have physical therapists, they have massage therapy, they have nutritional protocols. They have all these things that help guide them through this. But they’re also not doing it in their forties, fifties, and sixties. Right? And they have different stressors than we have. They don’t have to commute two hours to go to work, or work two jobs, or do any of these other things. And in fact, that is their job, is to be at a peak physical performance. But also, the level of injuries they have is pretty high. And they’re people that are actually conditioned to do this.
When I work with people that even after I give them the data, and they’re just, “Lyn, I just need to do this.” Thankfully, that’s only a small percentage. For those kinds of people, I’m going to say, “You know, do something like take robenzyme (?? 18:13),” which is a proteolytic enzyme and will at least eat away at the inflammatory process, because it is really causing damage to the body. It is long-term causing inflammation, and that oxidative stress, what it does to your cells and setting yourself up for cancer and for heart disease. We’re not just talking about stressing our your body. We’re talking about for a lot of people this will precipitate some serious diseases.
Jonathan: And what’s good news is [Indiscernible 18:46] key distinction now, which is a lot of these conventional forms of exercise are stressors and need to be thought of like any other stressor, where it’s not that we want a life of no stress. It’s just that too much stress is certainly a bad thing. But if we’re exercise junkies, there are other forms of “exercise” that it seems we could be allocating our time to like, let’s say, maybe yoga, for example, or stretching or tai chi or these more, let’s say, lower stress, more restorative activities. Would that be maybe a good swap?
Lyn-Genet: Well, that’s funny, because that’s one thing I always talk about with marathoners. And it’s like, “Why should I stretch? That could be another mile I could run.” But you really do need to prevent injuries because you’re already putting, as you say, exercise is a stressor, you want your body to repair, so by including some strength – like, if you’re a runner – as you know, you should do a lot of ab work and a lot of glute work and some stretching to help facilitate the running and core strength so you don’t throw out your lower back and you don’t get injured and all that kind of stuff. Having a variety of movement is just so important, especially because we tend to move in such a linear fashion anyway, which is really not that healthy. So, something like yoga and a little bit of weight and core training is just really important. Combining a balance of all that – and if you are a stressed-out person, then yes, something like chi gung or tai chi would be amazing for you.
Jonathan: I love it. Well, Lyn-Genet, as always, this is a fount of delightful truth, which is counter to the mainstream, but again makes a bit of sense considering where the mainstream has gotten us is a big, fat mess. So what is next for you on this epic journey, and what’s next for The Plan?
Lyn-Genet: Well, first of all, I want to finish your book. I’m really excited. It’s great reading, and thank you for the advance copy. Right now we are working on a cookbook, and I’m handing that in in a couple of months, and that’s going to be exciting. We have people all over the world that are saying, “Please make the food plan friendly, and so we’re doing that. And then the book after that is going to be the thyroid book, and we’re going to go a little bit deeper into the endocrine system, how to nourish it, and how to exercise properly. And at least find your path for exercise rather than once again, that harder-faster model that just doesn’t work for a lot of people.
Jonathan: Brilliant. Well, where can folks go to stay up on all of this great up-and-coming stuff?
Lyn-Genet: They can certainly go to our website, www.LynGenet.com. We’re being published in a lot of countries, so we’re actually updating our website to give information for each country that’s coming out. We’re really excited: Korea, Italy, England, UK, Germany. Great stuff. Spain.
We’re working on that, but we always keep the website updated. You can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here to help.
Jonathan: Awesome. And folks, that is LynGenet.com.
Lyn-Genet, as always, it’s an epic pleasure. And thank you so much for all you’re doing to spread this message, this life-saving message all around the world, which is so exciting.
Lyn-Genet: Well, I’m saying this exact same thing to you, brother. So, thank you.
Jonathan: Lyn-Genet, again, thank you as always for joining us today, and listeners, I hope you enjoyed this wonderful follow-up with Lyn-Genet just as much as I did. And please remember, this week and every week after: eat smarter, exercise smarter, and live better. Chat with you soon.
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Jonathan: Wait, wait. Don’t stop listening yet.
Carrie: You can get fabulous free SANE recipes over at carriebrown.com.
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