[0:00] Introduction/Kimera Koffee
[3:41] Devin Burke
[14:43] What Devin Does When Working With Orthorexic Clients
[18:20] Using NLP as A Method
[27:24] On Diet Diversity
[29:46] How Devin Makes a Plan For a Client
[38:06] Body Dysmorphic Disorder
[48:35] How Devin Helps Clients Avoid BDD
[1:03:05] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey. It's Ben Greenfield here. I got a quick story for you before we jump into today's podcast. I have a new Instagram page that I'm following, it's this guy named Jujimufu. Jujimufu, also known as Jon Call, or The Anabolic Acrobat. This is this completely ripped bodybuilder-esque dude who does crazy flips, and jump rope tricks, and basically what is called tricking. He's an acrobatic legendary trickster. Calls himself The Anabolic Acrobat. You gotta check out his Instagram page: Jujimufu. Anyways, the guy also is involved with the coffee that is the sponsor of today's show, Kimera Koffee. He sucks down Kimera Koffee like it's going out of style. Now that is probably not the only factor that has turned him into a legendary trickster, but it's obviously keeping him super hyped up as you'll see if you check out his Instagram page. Keeps me hyped up too. Why? Because it's not just coffee. It's coffee that has nootropics added to it.
Specifically, it's got choline compounds like GPC that's an excitatory neurotransmitter for your brain that improves memory, and mental focus, and power output; but it's also got taurine in it, which helps to fight oxidative stress in your brain; it's got l-theanine in it, which helps with sleep patterns and also helps to balance out any of the potential jittery effects of caffeine; and it also has DMAE in it, which is the same mental performance booster that you would find in fish, but which you can now find in coffee without having to cook up a fish. So you can check all this out and you can get a 10% discount on the stuff. How? Go to kimerakoffee.com, KIMERAKOFFEE.com. When you go to kimerakoffee.com, you can use discount code Ben to save some bookoo bucks. Save 10% on Kimera Koffee. So check it out. And now, on to today's podcast about not obsessing over your diet, your fitness, and much more.
In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“You're not getting a holistic viewpoint not, getting different types of vitamins, and minerals, and phytochemicals from different foods even if you are eating the same healthy foods over and over again. You can actually build up sensitivities to those foods as well.” “It's through the concept they’ve called bioindividuality and essentially what that is is that one person's poison could be another person's perfect food. So it's really getting in tune with how you feel.” “It's reframing those unresourceful patterns that people have related to the food that they're eating.”
Ben: Hey, folks. It's Ben Greenfield here. And perhaps you have, or perhaps have not, heard of something called orthorexia. Orthorexia. Orthorexia is an eating disorder that's characterized by an extreme or excessive preoccupation with avoiding foods that you perceive to be unhealthy, which would mean being obsessed with eating anything that is Paleo, gluten-free, vegan, raw, non-GMO, organic, fair trade — you get the idea. That person that annoys everyone else at the cocktail party 'cause they want touch the sliders. And then there's another one called Body Dysmorphic Disorder. So that's one that's characterized by being excessively preoccupied with some aspect of your own appearance, thinking that you've got something that's flawed, like your abs are a four-pack instead of an eight-pack, or your right butt cheek isn't quite as toned and firm as you would like for it to be. And you typically will go to exceptional measures to fix that or to hide it. So in other words, you have to maintain a nice body at all costs. And it's very common among folks who are into health, shall we say, to be obsessed with eating, and obsessed with exercise, and often destroying their bodies or destroying their minds with worrying, and an OCD, obsessive compulsive kind of approach to fitness 'cause they're always looking for that silver bullet or that perfect approach to get their perfect body, the body of their dreams. And we're gonna talk about that in today's show.
If you're listening to this show at the time that it comes out, it's close to the New Year. You're probably looking at putting together your version of the perfect fitness program or the perfect diet program, but you're gonna want to tune into today's show before you delve too deeply into trying to design the ultimate perfect program. Now my guest today is Devin Burke, and Devin takes kind of a completely opposite approach to health when it comes to trying to find like the perfect solution. He takes more of a minimalist approach. So he, in his book and his website, and I'll link to those on the show notes for this episode. He preaches that people are often obsessively looking for a “silver bullet” and often miss tapping into the potential that's right in front of them if they're only educated, and inspired, and disciplined enough to implement the necessary changes.
Who is Devin? He's a wellness educator, he's a health coach, he's a certified personal trainer, and he's the founder of something called Empowerment Wellness Solutions which is a healthy lifestyle coaching business that's based in South Florida. He wrote a book called “Healthy Eating In The 21st Century”. And he's also a graduate of an online college, or an online school, we've talked about before on the show called the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, or the IIN, which is the world's top online school for becoming a health coach, or a lifestyle coach, or a nutrition coach. Now before we delve into today's show, I should tell you everything we're gonna talk about, you can find over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/silverbullet. That's bengreenfieldfitness.com/silverbullet. So that being said, Devin, welcome to the show, man.
Devin: Ben, thanks a lot for having me. I'm excited to be on.
Ben: Awesome. Well, let's jump in right here. I was talking about orthorexia earlier. How would you define orthorexia and how do you perceive it to kind of be in terms of how it's appearing in our day and age as far as like healthy people?
Devin: Yeah. I think you nailed it on the head when you introduced it. It's simply that. It's being overly obsessed with being healthy. In a nutshell, that's exactly what it is. And I personally have some experience with this, to be honest. I think everyone goes through this a little bit of this as they start to learn about healthy eating, organic food, GMOs, irradiation, conventional farming practices, kind of all the craziness that the food industry and the farming industry which is what's happening here, especially in America. This is very common, to be honest. And unfortunately, it's the exactly opposite of what most people are trying to achieve, which is “healthy, happy life”.
Ben: So with orthorexia or with like a preoccupation with eating healthy things, is that people don't get enough calories when they do this or are you seeing other things happen in terms of people's health like their guts, their brains, or inflammation or things along those lines?
Devin: The main thing with the orthorexia, actually, it's more of a mental thing over everything else. And it's something that starts in the mind and it causes a lot of stress. You get overwhelmed and stressed about “I have to eat healthy”, “I have to eat all organic”, for example, or “I can never touch a GMO or a processed food”, and what that creates is a lot of stress. And obviously, you know what causes the inflammation in the body. Stress is the number one thing we want to avoid, and especially mental stress, and I think a lot of stress is created in the mind. And orthorexia is one of those main things, when you're leading a healthy lifestyle, when you're trying to lead a healthy lifestyle, this is one of the pitfalls or kind of the traps that you can get caught up in when you're making that journey.
Ben: Yeah. I've always wondered if there was… you talk about how it starts with the mind. I know they did one study a couple years ago on college students who had orthorexia, or who were just like obsessed with the type of food or the quality of food that they were eating, and on that test it was a test of executive functioning. And I know one of the things that they found was that for like complex tasks, cognitively complex tasks, and planning, and decision making, the better the student was on those tasks of executive function, the less likely they were to have orthorexia. And it's almost, in my opinion, like folks who are getting decision making fatigue and are constantly obsessed with the next meal, the next snack, or what they had the day before and how that's affecting them, it's almost detracting from your ability to function from like a cognitive, or an executive function standpoint in other activities of life.
Devin: Absolutely. Yeah. Again, it's one of those things that it's a pitfall, it's a trap, and it's definitely gonna affect your optimal performance cognitively. Absolutely.
Devin: It's one of those…
Ben: Oh, go ahead.
Devin: Nah, I was just gonna say, I mean if you're constantly stressing about food and about what specific way you should be eating, I mean you're not focusing on the things that you need to be focusing on, whether if you're a college student or whether CEO running a company.
Devin: Your mind is gonna be hyper focused on something that really shouldn't be that complicated and really shouldn't be stressful.
Ben: Right. Yeah. I've been experimenting, and you and I before the call, we're talking about how you're based out down in South Florida recently for a free diving course, is it, down there, I've delved into ketosis or eating not just a high fat diet but more specifically using some of these newer supplements like ketone salts, and MCT oil, and stuff like that to allow me to go for very, very long periods of time between meals. So in other words, I've been thinking a lot less about making the big salad, or blending the enormous smoothie simply because I'm not hungry and I don't need to eat because I'm using these ketones that my body is generating, and that I'm taking via like powders, and oils, and stuff like that. And I have found I've been extremely productive because I'm not worrying about food, I'm not worrying about the next meal. But it also seems like there's a little less mental stress as well when it comes to me questioning whether the components of a meal that I've eaten might have things in them that would harm me because I tend to stray towards that too like when we go out to restaurants, like Thai or sushi, I'm always wondering, “Well, that was really good but I wonder if they use olive of oil or canola oil,” or “I wonder if they used farmed fish versus wild caught fish,” and then you walk out of the restaurant and that's like at the back of your mind for a couple of hours. Should I be that person who takes, whatever, activated charcoal capsules, and digestive enzymes, and all my pills because I ate at this restaurant, didn't know every single tiny component that went into the food.
Devin: Exactly. I mean, it's easy to overdo it. And that's one of the things I think that most people that are really trying to be high performers, whether it be an athlete or just someone that wants to really live their best life. You can definitely overdo it. That only leads to one place, it's it leads to more stress. Finding a balance within that. There's not a perfect diet. There's an ideal diet, I believe, for everyone, but when you're stressing about these little things, like you said, perfect example and I've been in the same boat. You're out with friends, or a family gathering and you start thinking, “Aw, man…” — really start to think “what's in this food”, or “how do they cook it”, and that's not healthy. It really isn't. I mean you're missing out on the experience of being with your friends, having a good time with your family, or really wherever it is. It kind of pulls you out of the moment, and I think that's a huge danger. You know what I mean?
Ben: Yeah. I do know what you mean. What do you do about that? Like for you, as like a health coach, or a nutrition coach, when someone comes and they're obviously orthorexic and just like total OCD about their diet whether they're trying to go, let's say they don't have celiac disease but they're trying to go full-on gluten free, which defines many people I know. You aren't gonna die from eating that slice of pizza. You don't have to necessarily be that person who doesn't touch a tiny little crumb of gluten, or walks out of the restaurant 'cause a crouton was in your salad. You'll get the people who are, also for example, they're counting their macros. Literally walking around with a notepad or a phone app to make sure they hit their 40/30/30, or their 80/10/10, or whatever it is they're going after. What do you do when you're working with somebody like that?
Devin: Actually, I have worked with a number of clients that suffer from orthorexia and actually in extreme cases, and the approach I always take is I try to reframe how someone thinks around the food that they're eating. So when I say reframe, actually totally change their mindset around whatever they're obsessing about; and there's different strategies that I use depending on the client, and where they are, and really what they're trying to achieve and overcome. But it's really, again, it's something that's mental and you have to reframe those thoughts and replace them with new thoughts that can trigger when you start to obsess over something. “Okay, I'm obsessing. I don't need to be obsessed over this. This is actually detrimental.” And then, okay. That's like the trigger, or the reset, and then kind just say, “Okay. You know what? It's okay.” Everyone's kind of different, so it really depends on the person, but it's really reframing those unresourceful patterns that people have related to the food that they're eating that's causing orthorexia.
Ben: So is it like somebody is sitting down to meal with a notepad, or with like a phone app, or something like that and using that as a means of writing down when they think that they're obsessing over something? Like are they identifying when they're doing it just to be more aware or something else?
Devin: I mean that could be a strategy, but I think most people that suffer from the orthorexia kind of know that they're on a one track kind of way of thinking, and it's, “Okay, this is the way I have to eat. And if I don't eat this this way, something detrimental is gonna happen to me.” Writing it down could help. I mean, that definitely helps. That could help some people. But I think people know it's just, again, around reframing the belief or the unresourceful pattern that someone has around whatever it is that's causing them to be obsessed with this specific way of eating?
Ben: When you say reframing, what do you mean?
Devin: Okay, so we have stories in our minds; pictures, movies if you will. And these pictures, we embody in our experience. So if you think about something exciting, you're gonna feel a little bit of physiological excitement in your body. So a lot of people that have orthorexia, what they're thinking of, their associating their food and they're associating it in a way that's negative in the way that it's obsession. So to reframe the obsession would be to change what they're associating to the food. It's NLP essentially, Neuro-Linguistic Programming. That's a little bit of a rabbit hole, but we can talk about it.
Ben: Yeah. I'd be curious how that actually 'cause we've had NLP programmers on the show before where, like for me, for my racing, they'll give me an anchor where I touch some of my forefinger and that's my anchor that I can eliminate pain and go faster while I'm in a race. I had a guy named Andy Murphy on the call where we sat for like an hour doing NLP. For those of you listening in, I'll put a resource for that in the show notes to that episode if you wanna listen in. But for you, Devin, how are you using NLP for something like orthorexia? How would that work?
Devin: Sure. So it would be first, again, identifying the unresourceful patterns. So in this case, it would be the obsession with a particular way of eating. And then identifying what the story is, or what that person is telling themselves that's causing the obsession. So the first step would be identify, “Okay, I do have an obsession, I do have a problem and this is detrimental.” And then it's okay, step one: the awareness. So once you have that awareness, you have to come up with different frames or different movies around the specific way of eating, and then you can anchor that into the body, whether it be through physical touch, it could be a word that you say to yourself, a phase, a mantra if you will. So it's identifying having the awareness of “Okay, I'm obsessing,” and then “Okay, I'm obsessing. This isn't resourceful, this isn't what I want.” And then either reframing it with a thought, a word, or phrase to kind of break that pattern.
It's one of those things you kinda gotta play with depending on the client and depending on the person 'cause everybody's so different. But it's really trying to take that person and bring their awareness up to the point where they first kind of recognize, “Hey, I'm obsessing about this.” “Okay. I'm obsessing about this. This isn't healthy.” And then changing or kind of interrupting that pattern with now connecting with, “This isn't healthy. I don't wanna be obsessing about this. I'm gonna think about something else. I'm gonna say this word, this phrase. I'm gonna break this pattern.” It's something you constantly have to do until it kind of becomes in your physiology essentially. It doesn't happen overnight, and there's different strategies and ways kind of implementing that, but it really depends on the person. Everyone's so different. Some people, it's phrase. Some people, it's kind of creating this different movie, if you will, in their minds. Some people, it has to be really is physiological where we're anchoring it on their body. So everybody's kinda different.
Ben: Yeah. That's interesting that you bring up the movie analogy because that's what's worked well for me when I've stepped back and basically what you do is you step outside yourself and you look at what you happen to be doing in the moment, and that could be, for example, taking the easy way out and choosing to do dumbbell curls rather than deadlifts at the gym, or being that one person standing around at the party who is not having a beer because you wanna stay 100% gluten free even though you don't have celiac disease. And like looking at yourself in the movie, in the dumbbell curls scenario, you might be perceived as being weak willed, or in like the beer movie you might be consumed that one person who's just like a total bore to hang out with if you are watching the movie of your own life. And so I actually personally use that movie analogy quite a bit.
But I should also clarify, and I'm not sure if you're on the same page with me here Devin, but I don't think that eschewing orthorexia is necessarily saying that, oh, just because you go to a social gathering and there's, whatever, like Doritos, and macaroni and cheese, and TV dinner meatloaf that you have to eat that stuff or that you're doing damage to your mind or your body, you're being OCD unless you eat it. But instead, where I see this more occurring is people missing out on like some of the good things in life, right? Like fresh baked sourdough bread because they're Paleo and cavemen never would have eaten fresh baked sourdough bread, or you go to — this happened to me once when I was in Spain and I was at this fantastic bar with all these tapas, like all these tapas appetizers, and the guy I was with, like he wouldn't touch any of the appetizers because one had mozarella cheese, and one had like toasted gratin bread, and he was just like eating super-duper clean. When we're looking at foods that are real like that, you almost miss out on things from like a cultural standpoint or a taste standpoint, it seems.
Devin: You nailed it. I mean that's really is. What's the point? The reason that you make healthy choices is that you wanna lead a healthy life, is that you could fully live, and that you can enjoy life and the experiences that come with life, traveling. I mean that's absolutely so true. If you're over-obsessive about something and you're so stuck on that way, dogmatic, you're missing a lot of fulfillment, a lot of enjoyment. It's unbalanced, really. And I think one of the big goals is try to find that balance for you and not be so dogmatic, or so stuck on a certain way that you're missing experiences.
Ben: Yeah. I've seen some evidence that, and this was a couple of years ago, that there was a study that on kids with gluten and found that when you shield your kids from gluten, that they actually can wind up being more predisposed to celiac disease-like symptoms or gluten intolerance because they didn't get it when they were growing up. It's almost as though your body, I'm not quite sure exactly what's going on physiologically, but would suspect that it is a downregulation of the enzyme is necessary for digesting that food. Or perhaps even, like you alluded to, even like a mental reaction to that food because you expect it to be bad for you 'cause you've never eaten it or you haven't touched it in a decade or whatever. And so it seems to me that when you look at things from like a hormetic standpoint, that mild doses of things that you might perceive not to agree with your body could actually make you stronger and more able to sustain the “damage” that food might cause in larger amounts.
Devin: Yeah. It's kinda like a vaccine, almost. I know at some points in my life when I was a little bit orthorexic, where I wouldn't touch anything, super clean, I didn't notice when I did come in contact with, let's say, something that wouldn't be particularly part of my everyday optimal diet that it would have a massive effect on my body. And when I kind of transitioned out of that, and started incorporating small doses of things that were “optimal”, those reactions were a lot less worse. Specifically like dairy was one. Incorporating a little bit of dairy into my diet rather than just totally cutting it out, that was one specific instance I really noticed a difference.
Devin: Rather than just if there's a little bit of dairy. Say you're out to dinner, there's a little bit of dairy in a dish, you don't know about having this giant reaction. Just kind of slowly weaning yourself, not having a ton of dairy, but just a little bit in there definitely helps. If you're too pure, if your body's too pure, I think that it actually can become a problem.
Ben: Yeah. I've noticed the same thing, whether it be with dairy or with gluten. The more you eliminate the more sensitive you seem to become to it, which could be a good thing, it could be a bad thing. I mean, it may enable you in situations where you really maybe shouldn't necessarily be eating like a sodium and chemical full TV dinner or some other food that really truly is like physiologically bad for you. That could come in to help you. But, yeah, when it comes to, for example, not to kick the sourdough bread analogy to death but like I love my wife sourdough bread that she makes every week, but if I go full-on gluten free and don't eat gluten for a couple months and come back and have that bread, I can get a stomach ache. And part of it is not, I don't think the evil's in the bread, but more the fact that my body isn't trained to be able to work with stuff like that.
Now the other thing I wanted to ask you about was what about diversity, like microbial diversity, for example. I mean like this idea that if you're constantly eating, say, like the same three meals every day, or you every time you go to the grocery store you take confidence in the fact that you feel great about your shopping because you only get these four vegetables from the produce section. Can that affect like prebiotic intake, probiotic population, gut flora, stuff like that. Do you think that you could be making your immune system more susceptible or more weak by not including diversity in the diet?
Devin: Absolutely. I mean that's one thing that I really try to instill in everyone that I work with, and it's one of those things that you need variety. Just like and when you're exercising and you're moving, you need different types of movements to find balance in the body. Same thing with the diet. It could be an extremely healthy diet and work for you, but if you're not getting a holistic viewpoint, not getting different types of vitamins, and minerals, and phytochemicals from different food, even if you are eating the same healthy foods over and over again. You can actually build up sensitivities to those foods as well, which is very common for people. And you can build up a sensitivity to broccoli if you eat too much broccoli, or something that would be considered healthy. And that's one of the main reasons why I think it's so important to really have a varied diet and not stick with this same you know meals, even if they are healthy. And talking about the gut, there's so much research out now and studies that just keeps coming more and more with the probiotics and the microflora, and how that affects how we think and just everything. I think the more diversity you have, you're covering your bases, and it's more enjoyment, get what I mean. Eating the same things over and over, how boring is that? Even if it does taste good, it's like you gotta have some variety, some zest.
Ben: Right. Exactly. That kale smoothie needs a little bit of variety, maybe needs some eggs and bacon, or a bowl of cereal every now and again.
Devin: It's not gonna kill you.
Ben: Yeah. It can be Rice Krispies with coconut milk. That counts. So I also wanted to ask you, when it comes to something like this, like being OCD with food, I know a big part of that can be fear about which diet is right for you, which macros, which carb, fat, protein ratios are going to be ideal for your performance goals, your aesthetic goals, etc. Do you do any type of customization? Like when somebody comes to you and wants a plan, a road map, how do you actually generate it?
Devin: Well, it really depends on the person and their goals. Everyone's different. Everyone has different goals. Some people wanna increase performance, some people just don't wanna lose weight, some people want to look a certain way, and that all gets factored in to, “Okay, what would be the best food for that person?” It depends on, again, it depends on those factors.
Ben: How do you — I mean, are you doing like genetic testing, or blood testing? How are you determining that?
Devin: Well, at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition actually, they teach you how to guide someone to really connect with themselves and it's through the concept they've called bioindividuality. And essentially what that is is that one person's poison could be another person's perfect food. So it's really getting in tune with how you feel. So, after you eat certain things, how's your energy? How's your digestion? How's your mental clarity? You getting foggy? So really the more in-tune you are to your body and the more aware you are of what's happening when you eat certain foods, then you can kind of dial in, “Okay, will these foods work for me? Or these foods don't work for me?” And that's something they actually teach you at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which is — you can go get a test, a NutrEval test from Genova or you could get a food sensitivity test from somewhere like the ALCAT.
But I think, honestly, I think really you need to be aware of yourself. I mean these tests are great, but they only show so much and it's really about getting really in-tune with, “Okay, like how do I feel when I put this in my body? Does this work for me or doesn't it?” Not to be gross, but how's my poop look after I eat something like that. You know I mean? So it's really connecting and just being aware of, “Okay, this is how I feel based on these foods that I'm eating.” I mean there are general guidelines to follow. But then it's really like how do we fine tune that. I think it's teaching how to become aware, and really to slow down and stop and think about, “Okay, how am I feeling right now?” Like checking in with that. And a lot of people miss that.
Ben: Yeah. And I know a lot of folks, and I'll do this sometimes, is you can do — and this will sound OCD, but I'll come full circle in a second and explain why it's not. But I'll do heart rate variability, or heart rate testing, and literally use a heart rate monitor when I'm eating specific like staples in my diet to see how my nervous system responds to those. So you can literally wear like a heart rate variability monitor and see, for example, whether your sympathetic nervous system has a reaction. So there's a part of heart rate variability called low frequency, which is a measurement of your sympathetic, your fight and flight nervous system, and you can see if the LF power goes up, which would indicate a fight and flight reaction to a food even without like a blood test or something like that. You can literally do like a real time analysis of your interaction with food using something like heart rate variability.
But for my clients, when they come to me, I do the salivary genetic test. So I do the 23andMe analysis, and then I do a full blood panel, and then I do — if they have any gut issues, the Cyrex lab, which is like a food protein allergy analysis but it's double tested and it's extremely rigorous. It's like one of the more complete food allergy tests out there. And then finally, a poop test, which by the way isn't gross. Full-on into talking about poop on the show. And then once I get all that data back, I'll generate a customized plan. And I know everybody's probably screaming right now that that sounds about as OCD as you could possibly get. But then the idea here, and this is the same rule I'll follow in my own life, is you then take that and you go 80/20. So you get your nutrition plan, but for me what 80/20 looks like is I'll eat according to my plan, according to my diet, I'll eat clean most of the week. But then typically, I'll have a weekend day where there might be a meal where I'll take my wife out to dinner to a restaurant and when they bring their restaurant bread out to the table, I dive right in, I slather the garlic butter on that, I eat that, I drink the wine, and it may not be organic wine, and I don't ask the restaurant which type of oil they used on the fantastic cut of fish that they just brought out right.
So there's like times where I will completely unplug. Another time that I'll do that is when I'm traveling and I wanna to have like, let's say I'm in Japan, fried chicken is frikkin' awesome in Japan. I'm not eating fried chicken every night at my house, but if I go to Japan, like I'll go through an airport in Japan and order fried chicken 'cause it's so amazing and I love the way it tastes. So it's kind of one of those deals where I think if you do really take care of your body, and customize your diet, and do what your body needs most of the time, you can really get away with those doses here and there where you've got your weekend cheat day, date out with a loved one, or you've got your travel times where you're just like, “Hey, I'm going on vacation. I wanna dive headfirst into everything this culture has to offer and try it,” even if I do wind up with maybe some, whatever, traveler's diarrhea and a little tummy upset coming back. It's worth it. So that's my approach.
Devin: Nah, I think it's a great approach. It is good to have a baseline and get some basic testing done, kind of use the technology and the science that we have available to us now in the 21st to optimize our health. But then you nailed it too. I think the 80/20 rule is — sometimes I even take that to a 90/10. What's interesting is when you get to a certain level of health and performance, it's like getting to that level, once you get that level, it's kind of like you can maintain and you cheat a little bit more if you will. You don't have to be so rigorous about it. And again, that's finding the balance. That's a huge part of it. I mean 'cause why be all obsessed with all these different ways of eating and look for all these silver bullets. You're missing the point, and the point is to really enjoy life. When you're healthy, when you're vibrant, when you feel good, when you're eating good food, you can have more fun, you can have more adventures, you could connect with people, you think clear. Your body becomes like a race car and you can just really full on, just really experience all these amazing things that if you're not doing the right things, if you're eating a lot of processed foods, if you're even stressing about eating really healthy, you're missing out on that enjoyment and the fun.
Ben: Yup! I agree. Now I wanna talk a little bit about exercise too, because there's obviously like the same corollary to orthorexia that we see in fitness that I mentioned earlier called Body Dysmorphic Disorder where you're just preoccupied with your own appearance. Now I used to be a bodybuilder, meaning that I would literally spend every single night 20 minutes in front of the mirror with my shirt off, in my underwear, looking at every little part of my body, flexing it, seeing if the striation looked perfect, seeing if there were little bits of fat here and there that I needed to target and somehow get rid of, seeing if things peaked to the way they were supposed to, if you got the right peak in the biceps, or if you needed to work on the lateral head versus the middle head of the biceps, or work on the inner quads versus the outer quads. I mean, about as body dysmorphic as you can get. Now when it comes to exercise and something like body dysmorphic disorder, how does somebody who's not like a professional bodybuilder, for example, who's trying to go on stage and get a check for having a perfect body, but instead somebody just like the average person in a gym, how does body dysmorphic disorder kind of set in? How do you think something like that actually happens in somebody?
Devin: You know, and really what it comes down to, I mean it's ego. I think it's like you get really attached, I think, to looking a certain way because you wanna feel a certain way. You think that if you look a certain way, people are gonna perceive you in a certain way. And you see this a lot, I think, obviously in bodybuilders, and you see it a lot in college students, and it's really when you kind of get attached to that, “Hey, I wanna look this way,” because it's really you wanna feel a certain way so you can get obsessed with. You think if you have this perfect body, you're going to feel a certain way. And it's very similar to orthorexia.
Ben: Or other people are gonna treat you a certain way.
Devin: Exactly. For instance, if you're all mounds of muscle, you're gonna walk into a party, and people aren't going to mess with you 'cause they're gonna look at you and say, “Oh, man. Look at that guy. He's huge. I'm not gonna mess with that guy,” or give more respect. I think a lot of times it's like an ego thing. It could be, if you're a bodybuilder or if you're starting to see your body change, you're getting a lot of praise from your friends, your family, your community. That feels good and it's like, “Wow. Oh, man. I look good. I wanna look better 'cause I'm gonna get more praise.” And again it's like kinda stoking the ego.
Ben: Playing devil's advocate, isn't part of it like kinda evolutionary or ancestral? And I'm reading an interesting book about this. The book I'm reading is called “Fighter In The Cage” and it's about why men fight, but it also gets into how men are trained to put a high, high value on physical appearance from a brute strength standpoint because it can indicate the ability to fight off other males, or the ability to be that fertile man that a woman wants around to, and again, ladies, not trying to be sexist here — that women want to around as the man that can raise their child. And then women are hardwired to put a higher value on physical beauty on those elements that would potentially attract a male like curves in the correct locations, or color, or hair, skin, and nails, things that would signify to a male that the offspring that that woman produces is going to somehow have an evolutionary advantage or something like that. And so to a certain extent, it's like the better your body is, from a physical beauty standpoint for a woman or a brute strength standpoint for a man, the more likely it is that you're going to leave a legacy, like a strong legacy.
Devin: Yeah. I think there's definitely an instinctual, primal kind of alpha mentality that's in our genetics. Survival of the fittest, right? But I think with the body dysmorphic, you're taking that to like an extreme. Again, with the orthorexic, it's the extreme on the health side. With body dysmorphic, it's extreme, kind of obsession with how you look on your appearance. Whenever you get to an extreme, that's when it becomes detrimental. I mean, absolutely, I think everyone should strive to look and feel their best, physically on the outside and on the inside. But I think whenever you take something to an extreme, when it becomes an obsession, that's really when you're missing the boat. And it's easy to do, again when you're feeling, for sure I had some body dysmorphia in college when I was doing some body building as well. You feel good and, it's kind of, you can get attached that feeling. But in the end, again you're missing it if you're obsessing over anything, you're missing the boat.
Ben: Yeah. Part of my take on this is that I do agree that it's okay to follow that hard-wired genetic tendency we have for women to want to have extremes of beauty or men to want to have extremes of strength, whatever, broad shoulders, tight abs, things like that, but ultimately, I believe that pop culture and things like magazines, books, movies, have given us a different idea of what that is than what it actually is. So like if you look at, for example, women, well technically the most well-endowed woman from like a genetic standpoint as far as like survivability, childbearing, beauty, et cetera would have pretty significant amounts of fat, both the essential fat stores necessary for taking care of offspring, but also just the basic curves that would indicate to like a male, a mate that she is well-able to survive for a long periods of time and take care of a child, whatever, breastfeed a child, or bear a child, or whatever. But when you look at the frikkin' like cover of Cosmo, that's almost the opposite of what you see, right? You see women who are amenorrheac with very low fertility, and body fat stores, and stuff like that. And so we've got a bunch of women fighting nature, trying to look like what nature did not necessarily intend for them to look like.
Devin: Absolutely. And I think that is a major reason why orthorexia and body dysmorphia exists. I really do believe social hypnosis of our society through all these outlets that are “you should look a certain way,” and “this is what beauty is,” and it's really, I mean it's bullshit. It really is. And that kind of actually fires me up a little bit because this is really what weighs in on people and makes people have these obsessive disorders. And it's a shame because it's not truth.
Ben: Yeah. And you could probably say the same thing about men, right? Like if you look at men on the cover of bodybuilding magazine, or Men's Fitness, or whatever, really most of the healthier, most virile, like Alpha male guys I know, they're big, strong, hairy, and have slightly higher amounts of body fat. And then you look at like the, whatever, the shaved, skinny, striated, ripped guys on the cover of magazines, and technically, and this was me when I was a bodybuilder — testosterone has plummeted because of low body fat. And not only are you annoying to be around because you're more obsessed about your own appearance than you are about, say like, the opposite sex that you're hanging out with, or again following that that genetic hard wiring that we have to go out and be strong and be virile whether or not we actually, whatever, the left side of our abs is as symmetrical is the right side of our abs. But then you've also got hormonal depletion. For me I had severe lack of sex drive when I was a bodybuilder, and it was ironic because, according to pop culture's judgment of what a sexy man should look like, or whatever, I was perfect, but I was completely unable to even have sex, as an example, not that it's all about sex but that is a big, big part of the tie-in between physical appearance and what we expect of ourselves.
Devin: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. And that's so true. I totally agree. It's so true. And it's strange. It really is kind of a strange thing. Again, that social hypnosis through the magazines, through the news. I think social media also is playing a big part, or a role, into both of these orthorexia, body dysmorphia, kind of looking outside, and looking, saying, “Oh, wow. Look at that person. Look at their life. Look at how they look. I should look this way,” or “I want that,” and it's a real problem. It really is. It's really ripping people from the moment, from their own personal experience, from their own personal growth, and causing a lot of outside obsession with being a certain way, looking a certain way, talking a certain way, wearing certain clothes. It's sad. And I think when people wake up and kind of realize, “Wow, I was getting caught up in this wave, this new wave of hyper connectivity on social media with all of this new information out,” overwhelm of different magazines and all these, it's so easy. I could see how both of these disorders are gonna probably continue to grow and more people are gonna continue to have them because of just that.
Ben: Yeah. With the body dysmorphic disorder and physical goals, one of the obvious things here is setting goals that aren't necessarily aesthetic goals. I can tell you right now that when someone comes to me for coaching, for example, one of the most annoying scenarios for me is like the typically again, ladies not to annoy you too much but like the 40 to 60 year old woman who comes to me for coaching because they wanna look good in the swimsuit and the tight jeans, because I have to repress the urge to lie to them and tell them that that's certainly something that they can do when in fact they're gonna be fighting an uphill battle the rest of their lives if they expect to maintain the body that they had when they were in their 30's or their 20's. And instead, I tried to get them focused on a different goal where that goal is to like complete an obstacle race, or to deadlift more weight, or to get their estrogen and progesterone balanced out really, really well. Now, when you have someone who approaches you for like aesthetic coaching 'cause they wanna look good, how do you strike the balance between like helping someone have a decent body but also avoiding something like body dysmorphic disorder?
Devin: Yeah. I take the same approach that you do. It's really trying to set — you can have those aesthetic goals, 'cause obviously that's going to build in motivation for that person to make some changes, but also setting some other goals outside of just “physically, this is what I wanna look like” and really trying to wake people up to, Okay, well that might not really what they're after. They might think they're after that, but what they're really after is what they think when they look like that, how they're gonna feel.” So again, kind of doing some mindset training with people and trying to help them realize that it's really how they think they're gonna feel once they look like that. And when you can connect the dots and say, “Hey, listen. You could feel this way without looking like that, and that actually might not be even healthy or possible for you.” You know what I mean? Do you see where I'm going with that?
Ben: So like a guy who's pursuing confidence by getting like the perfect V-shape from shoulders to abs, you could tell him, “Well, you could get the same confidence if we work on your squat and get you sleeping better.”
Ben: Yeah. That makes perfect sense. So basically, I think a lot of times people who are coming from an exercise field, like people who are ex-athletes, they seem to realize this a lot more than people who are coming into exercise and fitness from a different field, like whatever it is. Like, say, fashion, or computer programming, or writing, or something like that, or advertising, or you name it, and simply because, again, of pop culture. They completely vilify the media and have them under the bus and just blame everything on them. People think that the way that you get confidence is by getting that nice body because they've never experienced the other ways to get confidence like hitting a tennis serve really really well, and working on your tennis game and getting it to the point where you can step out onto the court and feel amazing, or getting to the point where you can, whatever, rip your body weight times two off the ground on a barbell and who cares what your abs look like because you can do that.
Devin: Right. Yeah, absolutely. For sure. 100%.
Ben: Now one of the other things, I wanna make sure we have a chance to get into this too on our call together is nowadays you see a lot of like people in like the the biohacking realm and the healthy lifestyle realm looking a lot at things like air, and water, and WiFi signals, and all these other kinda of components that are definitely necessary to being healthy, but that people can tend to obsess over as well when it comes to like cleaning up their personal environment. Have you found a way, I don't even know if there's like a word for that aside from just being OCD. Maybe we can make one up, environmental OCD. Do you see much of that? ‘Cause I've seen that all over the place nowadays.
Devin: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, I think it's rampant, and again, I think it ties back into now that there's so much information out there. People read an article and then they started assessing about something. The approach I take is more of like an essentialist, minimalist approach to this specific topic, and I really try to teach people it really the things that you do consistently. Like anything that it's gonna have an effect on consistently, for example, anything to do on a daily basis, you might wanna try to optimize that. Like you might wanna get the cleanest water by getting a purification system. You might want to stop using deodorant that has the aluminum in it. It's things that you do consistently, I think you definitely should take a look and try to optimize the things that are done on a daily consistent basis that are gonna have an impact. But outside of that, I think it can get a little bit crazy with…
Ben: Yeah. But I mean even like what you just said, like a lot of times people will say, “Okay. Well, I'm not gonna go near the water fountain at the airport.” “I'm not going to step into a gym because three of the people in the gym are wearing cologne or perfume,” and “I'm going to avoid going to the grocery store because they're not clean in a grocery store with disinfectant and all the cashiers using anti-bacterial hand soap, so there might be super bugs,” et cetera, or like the mold fungal issue. Again, “I'm gonna hold my breath when I walk through an area that I know has carpet in it that's been exposed to water because I don't wanna get that mold or that fungi into my lungs,” I mean where do you draw the line?
Devin: Yeah. I think there needs to be a line that's drawn. And for some people, it becomes a hyper, again, hyper obsession about this type of stuff. And that's actually more detrimental to the person than actually being exposed to a little fountain water that has the chlorine in it and the fluoride, or the disinfectant at the grocery store, or what have you. So I try to really coach people and say, “Hey, listen. The thought and the stress that you're causing yourself of obsessing about these little things, that's more detrimental than the actual thing that you're obsessing about you were to get exposed to.” But again, I that think you should be knowledgeable, you should be conscious of the way that you can live and try to set yourself up for success. In terms of having clean water available, but if it's not available, it's like, “Okay, well it's more important to be hydrated than it is to…”
Devin: You know what I mean?
Ben: Yeah. That's true. But for me, for example, I live in a home where I've eliminated all the WiFi and the Bluetooth, and I've got like this extensive water filtration system and hepa filters everywhere. I'm like living in this environment that appears to be OCD from a lifestyle standpoint. But at the same time, I have friends who live in complete hellholes when it comes to WiFi, mold, fungi, water, et cetera, and they're just as happy as I am. And I think that a big big part of this for people listening in might come down to the fact that perhaps you shouldn't tie your happiness and your fulfillment to your environment, or to your food, or to exercise.
Maybe the priority needs to be more towards, and this is something I've realized more and more in something that I haven't preached too much on the show or probably not enough, but I've realized more and more that happiness comes from loving your neighbor, and happiness comes from helping the homeless people, and happiness like every Thursday now, my wife and I deliver meals to the local elementary school that we pick out from downtown. So we've got 50 kids who we bring meals to because they, otherwise, would not have a meal in the weekend, or would have like one meal spread out between Saturday and Sunday. And the meals themselves, I mean it's like canned ravioli, and pretzels, and gasp, roasted nuts, and stuff that I might not necessarily think is super healthy and when I'm spending time doing that, I'm in environments that have mold, and fungi, WiFi, but it's like you get to a certain point where what matters more is making the world a better place and not you necessarily having 100% perfect pristine optimal health.
Devin: Yeah. I totally resonate with that and connect with that. For sure. I think that, again there is a line. I think there's a continuum also, Ben. There's a continuum. There's people like yourself, and probably like myself as well, a little bit on the, I guess, the OCD side as well, with all the information, the studies that we've done. The more you know, the more I think you take action on certain things. But when it comes to you know why are you doing those things, it is 'cause you wanna experience more happiness in your life. And there's a lot of ways to experience happiness. I think happiness is a choice, and giving back definitely is one of the fastest ways to, if you're unhappy, to kind of change that. What you give, I think, also you receive. So it's in giving you're also receiving. Absolutely. I think you can get hung up on, “Hey, I need to do all these things and the reason I need to do all these things is 'cause I'm not gonna be happy until I do them. And if they're not optimal, I'm gonna get stressed and they have to be this certain way,” when in reality, that's not the truth. That's not reality.
Ben: Right. Mother Teresa probably did not lay awake at night obsessing over her sleep cycles or whether she was gonna have a gluten free breakfast, and yet she made the world a much better place and appeared to be a very happy person in the process. So I would say to people listening in who are going into the New Year, like think about that as you're making your goals, and your making your plans, and you're writing down which workout you're going to do Monday through Sunday this year, and exactly which diet you're gonna follow, and which food you're gonna completely eliminate from your grocery shopping list this year, just step back for a moment and think about whether you're tying your happiness and your fulfillment to those variables versus whether you're just trying to make yourself as healthy as you can be to make the world a better place and then calling it good and not wasting too much time going way above and beyond that.
Devin: Yeah. Absolutely. I would say that's a good thing to reflect and meditate on going into the New Year. I think it's really important to realize, “Hey, this is how I wanna live, and this is why I wanna live this way and not get caught up in the details.” Really try to maybe limit the distractions and really try to connect with what's really important to you in your life. Health is a huge part of personal development. I think that it's one of the things that lead people into wanting to become the best versions of themselves to live their best life. It's a great doorway, it's a great stepping stone. But it also can be something that people trip on and kinda fall flat on their face when they get caught up in all the details of what that best optimal life can be.
Ben: Yeah. And I agree. Well, I think that's a perfect point to start to wrap things up. But I know that folks will wanna pipe in. I know they will. So if you're listening in, you can go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/silverbullet if you wanna pipe in on why maybe chasing the silver bullet is not necessarily the healthiest thing on the face of the planet. So that's bengreenfieldfitness.com/silverbullet and a few other links for you. First of all, I'm going to put a link over to Devin's website, Empowerment Wellness Solutions, over there are so you can go learn more about Devin and what he's doing, and also check out the book he's written which we didn't even have a chance to delve into. But Devin and I seemed to think along the same lines of things when it comes to health and exercise needs. His book is called “Healthy Eating In The 21st Century”. You could check that out. I'll put a link to that on the show notes as well.
And then if you yourself are interested in becoming a health coach, or a lifestyle coach, or a nutrition coach, and walking people through this, I know that the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which is who originally connected me with Devin, they right now have a $1,000 savings on their tuition going on if you wanna learn more about you becoming somebody who helps people out with a lot of these things. So if you wanna be a health coach or you've always wondered like how you actually become a health coach, or a nutrition coach, or a lifestyle coach, I'll put a link in the show notes over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/silverbullet to where you can go save some money on the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and check that out along with all the other links to the things that we talked about in the show. So, Devin, thanks for coming on the show, man.
Devin: Hey, it was a pleasure. I really enjoyed the conversation. I hope that it's served everyone that's listening, and I hope everyone takes this information and really just reflects on it a little bit 'cause I think we kind of had some interesting topics, and kind of went different ways, and I think that there's a lot of value with connecting with some of the information. I appreciate you, I appreciate what you're doing, and again, I hope this served everyone that was listening in here to the podcast.
Ben: Yeah. Awesome, man. Well, thanks for your time. Thanks for coming on. And folks, thank you for listening in. Happy New Year if you're listening to this podcast when it comes out. And until next time, I'm Ben from bengreenfieldfitness.com signing out with Devin Burke. Have a healthy week.
Ever heard of “orthorexia”?
It's is an eating disorder characterized by an extreme or excessive preoccupation with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthy.
In other words, it's being absolutely obsessed with eating all things paleo, gluten-free, vegan, raw, non-GMO, organic, and fair-trade, and counting every friggin' calorie of it.
Or how about “body dysmorphic disorder?”
This one is characterized by an obsessive preoccupation that some aspect of one's own appearance is severely flawed and warrants exceptional measures to hide or fix it.
In other words, you must maintain a nice body, at all costs.
Unfortunately, it's all-too-common to see eating-obsessed, exercise-obsessed people destroying their bodies and their minds with worrying and an obsessive-compulsive approach to nutrition and fitness.
My guest in today's podcast, Devin Burke, takes a completely opposite approach to health: a minimalist approach. He preaches that people are often obsessively looking for that “silver bullet” and unfortunately often miss tapping into the potential that is right in front of them – if they are only inspired, educated and disciplined enough to implement these necessary changes they could take them to the “next level”, without an unhealthy obsession.
Devin is a wellness educator, and passionate health coach. He is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and a Certified Personal Trainer by the American College of Sports Medicine. He is the founder of Empowerment Wellness Solutions, a healthy lifestyle coaching business based in South Florida and author of “Healthy Eating in the 21st Century”. And he is also a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the world's top online school for becoming a health, lifestyle and nutrition coach (get a huge savings on an IIN certification if you contact them and mention this show).
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-How to completely reset your brain to eliminate an obsession with eating gluten-free, or getting X number of calories, or eating the perfect carb:fat:protein ratios…
-How something called neurolinguistic programming can help you overcome an obsession with food…
–Why you need to branch-out and eat a variety of different foods, even if that includes components such as dairy and gluten…
-What to eat when you're traveling or at a party, and you want to “enjoy” food, but you still want to avoid making yourself sick or unhealthy…
-Why what pop culture tells you is the perfect body completely flies in the face of your natural human ancestry and genetic hardwiring…
-How to create exercise goals that go above and beyond just “getting a better body”…
-How to quit obsessing over WiFi signals, mold, drinking water, personal care products and household cleaning chemicals…
-Why true happiness is not tied to perfect health and how to truly achieve happiness…
-And much more!
This episode is brought to you by:
Kimera Koffee – Visit KimeraKoffee.com and use code ‘ben' for 10% off!
Resources from this episode: