[00:00] Introduction/Interview with Cary Nosler
[02:34] How Cary Stays Motivated to Exercise
[06:30] Cary’s Exercise Routine
[08:21] Expectations in Exercise as You Age
[12:58] Balancing Your Exercise with Age
[14:43] Dealing with Accumulated Injuries
[17:21] The Nutritional Component as You Age
[28:09] Ideal Lifestyle Recommendations
[39:12] Interview with Elizabeth Ruiz
[42:13] Growth Hormone
[44:44] Testing GH Levels
[46:07] Getting Your GH Up Naturally
[49:21] Nutrition and GH Levels
[51:28] A Typical Day of Eating For Elizabeth
[55:35] GH Supplementation
[59:50] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey, folks. Ben Greenfield here. Today, we’re going to be talking about aging. Aging, exercise, hormones, and basically everything that happens as you get older. So, this is a double interview special. Our first interview is with Cary Nosler, a 65-year old super-fit guy. And our second interview is with Elizabeth Ruiz, an older female triathlete who specializes in growth hormone. So, without further ado, let’s jump right in.
Hey, folks. This is Ben Greenfield. And today, we’re going to talking about aging and exercise. I have a real expert on the call today, and his name is Cary Nosler. Cary has been a health reporter for close to 30 years. He’s based out of California, and really, health and fitness have been something he’s been involved in since he was a teenager. And you’re how old now, Cary?
Ben: Gotcha. So, Cary’s been doing this a while and he’s been pursuing his own quest for better health and really broadcasting lots of interviews with prominent folks in the health field. He has a radio show down in California, and we’ll be sure to link to that from the show notes, it’s called “The Wide World of Health”. For those of you who listen in, it’s on KSTE Talk 650. But what Cary does is talk to people every week about health, but he also has had exercise as a lifelong passion and knows quite a bit about kind of what happens to the body as you age and you’re trying to stay fit, what goes on mentally, what goes on physically, what goes on from a motivational perspective. And so, those are some the things that we’ll be diving into today. So, Cary, thanks for coming on the call.
Cary: Ben, thank you. I appreciate it very much.
Ben: So, in terms of the length of time that you’ve been in fitness, 50 some odd years I would imagine, do you still find it easy to stay motivated to exercise? Do you kind of run into barriers or do you just kind of hum merrily along?
Cary: I guess there’s two parts to that question. One is I’m a very persistent fellow, and I learned some time ago that it was better actually to keep exercising even when your motivation wasn’t that high than it was to stop and let other forces come into play that might derail you from your goals. I’ll give you an example: most of the time I set my exercise schedule pretty much the same. I know when I’m going to exercise, I know pretty much the schedule I’m going to do, and all those kind of things. If, for some reason, there’s an interruption there, I had just some event that I have to do and it just won’t allow me to exercise for a couple of days, all of a sudden, Ben, things that never got in the way before show their ugly head. And pretty soon, I’ve got other calls scheduled or I have other events scheduled. And it was like nature abhors the vacuum. If you have a program, and again, this is just my personality, if you have a program, stick to it and realize that there’s going to be ups and downs, you’re going to have times when your motivation is high, other times when it’s not, when you don’t quite have the same enthusiasm. But overall, what you’re looking at is long term. And if you stay with it, then you’ll have the opportunity to continue and grow.
Ben: And you’ve found that one way to do that is to be exercising at the same time every day?
Cary: Well, I find that convenient for me. And again, it’s just my personality. But that way, other things don’t get in the way. It’s very easy to have something come up, and all of a sudden you have no plan for it, and then the next thing you know, well, you’ve missed a couple of days, then maybe a week. And the hardest thing, Ben, as you get older, the hardest thing to do is to come back from an illness or an injury. You don’t recover as quickly as you age, so that you have to be very careful to make sure that you don’t allow things to kind of get in the way of that process.
Ben: Now, for example, I remember that I spoke with Art Devaney a few months ago and he talked about how his workout routine was extremely random. He’d pull over on the side of the road and run 10×100 sprints and do things like that. As far as your own workout routine, do you have kind of a week to week routine? Do you mix it up a lot? What have you found to be successful as you age in terms of keeping your body fit and relatively uninjured, hopefully?
Cary: Alright. Well, here’s where it gets down into your own personality. This is the key part, Ben, of the kind of thing that I’ve discovered. You have to be true to yourself. You have to be true to the kind of things that really feel good to you. And I’ve read Dr. Devaney. I’ve been influenced by his writings as I am pretty much really into the whole paleo thing to an extent. I mean, we all have our modifications. He’s one of the people I read. And I actually tried doing some of the things that he’s talking about, doing the randomness, or just, if you don’t feel like exercising, like Mark Sisson, just lie down on the ground and look up at the clouds. That’s cool, but it doesn’t fit my personality. I’ve found that when I did that, I was just, I was miserable. I wanted to exercise. I love to exercise. That’s the way I approach it. And if you have a different philosophy, we’ll stick to it. And that includes the type of exercises that you do, but you have to be aware of who you are and what really gives you pleasure or you’re going to be doing things that don’t fit you. They may be something that you’ve read about that has a lot of followers at the time or something that they say that you should do, but if it doesn’t feel right and it doesn’t work, don’t do it.
Ben: So, in terms of you, specifically, what’s your exercise routine look like? What do you do?
Cary: Well, I’ve done two things. First of all, I’ve been involved in weight training for a long time, and that is something that I’ve always enjoyed. Four days a week, I do a weight training program. It’s a push-pull program. Mondays and Thursdays, pushing exercises, Tuesdays and Fridays, pulling exercises. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, I do a high intensity interval program. Again, that lasts about 20, 25 minutes with the interval program, and that’s another aspect, Ben, of personality. Folks like yourself who like to compete, for example, in longer events, you have a personality that allows you to enjoy doing that. I’ve always been kind of a short burster-type of person. I like to have a short-term goal, I like to get it done, and then kind of move on. So, for me, while I used to run a lot and run longer distances, it just didn’t fit my personality, going back to what I said before. If that’s something that works for you, do it. But for me, it’s always been weight training and, now, interval training that seems to give me the best results.
Ben: So, in terms of the expectations that you have for yourself as you age, and folks who are listening in who, maybe they’re young and wanting to kind of anticipate what’s going to happen as they get older, or people who are maybe older and wanting to kind of learn what to expect, maybe, in the short term, how do things kind of change as you age as far as your fitness? I mean, do you just wake up one day and kind of notice you’re, maybe, not able to lift as much weight or run as fast? How do you know and how do you set up expectations for yourself as you age, I guess, is what I’m trying to ask?
Cary: Okay. Well, it depends on where you’re starting. If you’ve been involved in exercise for a long time, that’s one consideration. If you’re older and finally realized that some form of exercise is very, very positive in terms of healthy aging, that’s another. I’ll take the first part first. Since I’ve been exercising a long time, the one thing I’ve learned is I don’t dwell on the past. I don’t think about what I did when I was 20, or 30, or 40. That doesn’t come into the picture at all. My goals are short term. I think of what I did the last time I worked out, what I’m going to do this time, and then plan for the next day. So, it’s a shorter term perspective and I’m not comparing myself in any way, shape, or form to a squat I did 20 years ago, or a bench, or whatever it happens to be. I just work on immediate goals and I stay pretty consistent that way. You’re not kind of beating yourself up because you’re not the way you used to be. Just keep the goal immediate and work on the things that are easily handled within the space that you have available to you.
Ben: Have you noticed or do you kind of feel the difference in muscle fibers or the difference in strength dramatically, or is it one of those things that just kind of happens so much over time, kind of like the same way that a baby grows, for example, and if you’re living with them, you don’t notice it quite as much as someone who, maybe, doesn’t see the baby for two years? But do you notice like day to day deficits in strength or anything like that that occurs as you age or is it just one of those things that you’re just used to?
Cary: I’m used to it and the research seems to support the fact, especially with strength training. I was so impressed years ago with the studies that were done when they took 80-year old people and had them exercise and found that they were actually able to get an increase in muscle size that was comparable to a person many decades younger. Obviously, they had limitations into how far they could go, and that’s more related to hormone status, and growth hormone, and such. But the body was able to respond to muscular stimulation at a very, very advanced age. And I found that that’s one of the real advantages of weight training, that your strength declines are not that dramatic if you keep it up, if you’ve been working out consistently. And nowadays, my goodness, it’s not unusual to see powerlifters in their 50s and 60s who are still putting up considerable amounts of weight, pulling on a deadlift, or squatting, or bench press, or whatever it happens to be. So, the ability to maintain a somewhat peak muscular strength for a long, long time is still there.
Ken Cooper, years ago when I interviewed him, of course, he was famous for aerobic aspect of his research initially. Now, of course, he’s a big advocate of strength training. He said the whole point was to square the curve, not only in terms of what you do on a daily basis, but to kind of where you end up at the end, so that when you reach your peak, and we all have that nice little ascending peak, and then once you stay there, most people, unfortunately today, once they get to their peak, it’s a kind of a precipitous decline. But by doing the kinds of things you should, including exercise, you can keep that linear line pretty steady up until the very end, and then you just kind of hopefully drop off quickly. And then that’s squaring the curve, that relates to your muscular strength as well. Again, as I said, you’re not going to be a 20-year old. You’ve got to be logical about it. But the decline can be very, very slight and can be very, very rewarding in terms of what you can do relative to people around you who are many, many years younger than you.
Ben: Now, doctors in the medical community, they certainly have their recommendations on healthy amounts of exercise as you age and what you maybe should do. And in terms of balancing what people say you should do and what you like to do or feel like doing as you age, in terms of activities, how do you kind of balance that? I mean, is there any fear involved that you’re pushing your body too hard, or you’re pushing your heart too hard, or you’re pushing your muscles too hard, or anything like that?
Cary: Sometimes. Sometimes I’ll have that in the back of my mind, wondering, “Oh my goodness. Should I be doing this as hard as I’m doing?” But, as you noticed, and I’m sure you know it very, very, ’cause you monitor your body so closely, it has really more to do with becoming aware of your own recovery ability and how you feel the rest of the day after you exercise. Sometimes, I admit, I have a very, very difficult exercise session and I may have to lie down sometime during the day, and I just feel like taking a short nap. Well, fine I’ll do it. But it’s how you feel at night, it’s how you feel in the morning when you get up. If you’re recovering, whatever you’re doing is working for you. And then, being sensible and having regular checkups and monitoring lipid levels, for example, or looking at hormone levels, whatever the facts and just regular panels, you can tell what’s going on in your body. The fear that supposedly by exercising too hard, you’re going to drop over and die is pretty much unfounded. That certainly does happen to some people. But as a general rule, no. The body is very, very adaptable and can stay that way if you give it the proper incentive.
Ben: Gotcha. Okay. So, as far as kind of the other aspect of this and the dark side of exercising a lot as you age and spending 50 years exercising is obviously, I would imagine that you get these accumulated injuries that kind of add up as you go. Do you find that that happens? And if so, how do you deal with aches, and the pains, and things of that nature?
Cary: That is very, very real. Unfortunately, it’s not the things I do now that cause a problem. It’s the things I did when I was much younger and didn’t pay as much attention to the things that I would do now. But, yes, injuries are, everybody is going to pick up something. Even when they go back and look at our paleo ancestors who now are held up as an example, they had all kinds of accumulated injuries, little nicks and problems. Anybody that you exhume over the years, you find that they had those same kind of things. So, yeah, when you exercise it’s just inevitable that you’re going to pick up problems. I have two areas. I have one in my wrist area that I have some degeneration, and then it wasn’t helped by doing handstand pushups against the wall. Even when it hurt, I went through it, and it was that whole thing, “if it hurts, just keep doing it”. So, that’s what I kept doing. And then there was also some piriformis issues in my hip from doing round kicks in a karate class. So, yeah, physical activity will result in some kind of problem, whether or not it stays, how much it stays with you, it just depends on, obviously, on you. But in a way, Ben, it’s almost a blessing because it makes you more aware of how you’re doing things and how you should tailor your workouts. So, you may not like it, but it sure makes me more aware of how I stand because of the piriformis issue, how I’m distributing my weight, for instance, if I do a squat or any other kind of movement where I’m bending. It makes me aware of how I hold my hand and my wrist when I’m doing different kinds of things. Bar dips, for example, become a little problematic if I don’t hold my wrist in just the proper position. So, yeah, I don’t like it, but, yes, it’s there and you can use it to your advantage if you understand the mechanics.
Ben: Gotcha. So, what about the nutritional component? As you age, from what I understand, sometimes the way that your body deals with certain foods can change. Have you found that to be the case? Like have you found it to be harder to digest meats or proteins, or have you found your body do better with juicing and vegetables than it does with harder-to-digest foods? Have you found that it kind of feels like you’re absorbing less or that you need a multivitamin, or any of those things that I’ve heard can happen as you age?
Cary: Well, let me just put that in perspective as well. I’ve been eating well as long as I’ve been exercising. And so, obviously, I think you have an advantage there, been having taken care of my nutritional needs for so long and being aware of how my body reacts to foods. And so, I guess, consciously and unconsciously, just kind of picking things that seem to work best for me. But maybe it’s because of the exercise and just the attention to detail over the years, but I have a fairly robust digestive system. And it isn’t so much that I can’t eat things, it’s just that somethings on occasion, I’ll notice, just don’t seem to work well for me. But in the whole, on the whole, I should say, the quality of your food is more important than worrying about your inability to handle certain things. If you’re eating good stuff, you’re supplying the body with the tools that it needs. And I would say, if anything, I probably have overdone certain good things over time. Like you, I mean when you’ve been conducting interviews, literally with thousands of people over the years who have wonderful ideas and very, very compelling evidence to support their views, I tend to start adding different things to my diet. And I’m a big proponent of supplements. I like supplements. I actually think they’re fun. I look forward to taking certain things. But I’ve found that I overdo it. You don’t need to do as many as I probably have done over the years. Whether or not that’s hurt me, or whether or not this it’s made me more conscious of what I’m doing, I’m not sure.
But if you do run into difficulties digesting food, there’s a couple of very simple rules. One is don’t drink liquids, especially cold liquids, with a meal. A glass of tea, or a cup of tea, or something like that is fine. Maybe a little glass of wine. But in general, diluting the food with too much liquid is certainly a prescription for an inability to properly digest what you’re doing. And again, the colder it is, the more you stop the digestive process because the body has to heat up again to get to the proper temperature to secrete the enzymes necessary to digest your food. And obviously, chewing is important. Your mastication just to break down the food properly before it enters in the other stages of the digestion. So, there’s some very simple rules. And the one thing I would say that would probably be very logical as you age is to invest in a very good multi-purpose digestant, something that takes care of fats, proteins, and starches.
Ben: You mean like a digestive enzyme?
Cary: A digestive enzyme. Prolipase, protease, any enzyme [0:20:15] ______. So, having the proper digestive enzymes available to your body is certainly a very logical thing. And there’s been many programs where people have had different ailments where certain digestive enzymes have been very successful in helping them to cope with that particular situation. So, a good digestive enzymes product taken is appropriate. And I’ve also been a very big proponent of probiotics for years, having again, I had the opportunity to interview people before probiotics were even popular, when it seemed illogical why we should take them, but they just didn’t have the popular appeal at the time. Now, my goodness, there’s all kinds of strains available, but it’s very logical to have that kind of support in your digestive system.
Ben: So, you’ve found that to be important, doing things like using supplements to support your digestive system as you age?
Cary: Yep. I think that’s a very, very logical strategy.
Ben: Now, from a nutrition standpoint you mentioned paleo, that you eat a paleo diet. Have you been doing something like that? You have been into fitness for a long time, but is that a relatively new phenomenon just because I know paleo, kind of in the past decade, seems like something that has taken off, but were you doing something similar before then?
Cary: I’ve been involved in many different kind of programs, as you can imagine. From raw food, vegetarian, to lacto vegetarian, I eat more eggs now than I did in the past. But, again, from never eating meat to starting to eat meat, that was a very interesting transition. Dr. Barry Sears is a fellow that I think you know did popularize what’s called the Zone diet, and I remember interviewing him and it was so logical hearing him talk and kind of realizing that I was probably overdoing the carbs, even though they were very good carbs, quality carbs. But at the same time, I wasn’t giving the body the support it needed, perhaps with enough protein. And on the spot, a 20-some year a program of vegetarianism ceased. I started adding animal protein. And for me, it was a very, very good start. I then moved into getting more information about the paleo program, again, having access to these people, Dr. Loren Cordain, who’s probably the father of the Paleo movement, at the Colorado State University impressed me greatly with his views. But then I also realized, again, this is your individuality. There are certain things I do that work well with me. For instance, I handle dairy products very well. And, Ben, anytime I talk about any kind of food, I’m talking about quality food. I’m not talking about junk aspects of it. That’s what I’ve learned, that the quality is as important as the item itself. So, eating good quality dairy foods worked for me. I handle ’em very well. So, I kind of call myself a lacto paleo-tarian.
Ben: Yeah. Interesting. Kind of almost like a primal diet, but including the dairy…
Cary: The primal diet, but adding dairy, with a little addition in that particular aspect it. Because it seems to work well in my body. But I do think that the logical thing, and this has come through in all the work that’s been done for years and years is that the key is controlling insulin, and that’s what our paleo ancestors taught us. Insulin was there for a purpose. It helps to drive the fuel into our cells, but it was done for a short period of time just because of the kind of diet our ancestors ate and the amount of food that was available to them at different times. So, it was not meant to be elevated for long periods of time. And now that we have too many sugary foods, and refined grains, and too many omega 6 oils that are inflammatory, we’ve got insulin levels that are just elevated and it initiates a fat storage program and the body never has a chance to burn the fat, ’cause you just have too high levels. So, the paleo program makes a lot of sense. And in terms of reducing what I’ve done, I think more along the lines of fruits and vegetables are fine, even kind of moderation on the fruits, but the fruits in season, good animal products, milk products for me, and reducing excess starch, it seems to be a very, very logical way that my body works well.
Ben: Now, how about hormones? Do you test your hormones or use any type of supplements to support things like testosterone as you age?
Cary: Both. I think it’s imperative. I think the whole idea of hormone testing is so logical and has gained a lot of credibility over the years in terms of looking at the factors that result from aging and how to kind of stop that declined. Ben, I think it’s kind of paradoxical that you’ve got 20-year olds that take steroids and other types of testosterone boosting formulas when that should be reserved for people my age or older. You want to maintain quality of life. So, it’s logical to do it when those things start to decline, not when they’re already at their highest point and then cause problems in terms of the body’s ability to balance that kind of insult to the endocrine system. But yes, you should get your hormones balanced and find a doctor who is proficient in that. Now that it’s becoming more of a fad, as it were, there’s a lot of people who are advocating testosterone, for example, for men and finally testing them for that. You never used to do that. And then the range by which testosterone is considered appropriate was so wide that you could have a very low so called “low normal” and they’d say you’re fine, but the guy’s coming in, saying, “Yeah. But I’m lethargic, I just don’t have much energy, my muscle just seems kind of flabby.” Now that they realize that, well, you should have higher normal levels, it’s an improvement as far as the patient is concerned. But then you have doctors who just know how to do that, they’ll give you a shot of testosterone because they’ve read about it in the journals, but they don’t measure your estradiols and see if you’ve got any conversion, they don’t look at the other hormones, DHEA, how that’s affected by the whole program or even looking at growth hormone. So, you need someone who’s got experience in that in that area.
Ben: So, let’s say that you’ve got a 55, 60, 65 year old listener listening to this podcast and they kind of want to envision, as they age, what kind of a perfect day might look like in terms of the kind of supplements that they’ll be taking when they wake up, and the kind of diet that they’ll be eating, and what type of workout routine maybe they should be doing. If you were to kind of you know wave your magic wand and say, “Well, here’s what I think, based on my experience would be kind of like the perfect day.” Obviously, there’s going to be some amount of individuality, but if somebody wants to know some of the lifestyle practices from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed that you would kind of recommend and point people towards as far as staying really, really healthy as they age, what are some of the things that you would recommend?
Cary: It’s kind of an old-fashioned one, but I would, again, really, really hope that people hydrate themselves properly. Not to excess, but making sure when you get up in the morning, I’ve always been an advocate of drinking a couple of glasses of water when I first get up in the morning way before I have anything to eat just to help the system kind of get back into proper fluid balance, and using my urine usually as a guide. If you have very, very dark kind of smelly urine, you need more fluid more, basic water to help the kidneys do the things that they need to do, for example. So, just having several glasses of water in the morning, some mild activity just to get the system going properly, rather than all of a sudden just getting up, and going in the kitchen, and starting to eat way before your body even has a need to do so. I’ve always been an advocate of having some kind of activity to kind of earn your breakfast, so to speak. Just something light. It doesn’t have to be heavy, but just some kind of movement or stretching and fluid replacement just to get your system prepared for whatever you’re going to be doing.
And then the sun in the morning, again, we have this, and I think the paleo people have taught us well that we don’t need to start to breakfast with some type of a high glycemic food that’s going to have an effect, a negative effect on insulin balance in the morning and for the rest of the day. So, rather than getting with those cereals, which I know people like a lot, some kind of other program. And if you don’t like to eat, I’ve found for years that I like a shake in the morning. Again, because of my dairy preference, I find whey protein to be very positive. I like to add some type of a green concentrated food to that, different kinds of things that allow my body and my insulin balance to be kind of steady. And Ben, not everybody does this, but one of the principles that’s being expounded as part of the paleo movement is idea of autophagy where you allow the body to kind of take time to reorganize itself by kind of digesting some of the byproducts of things that the system doesn’t really need. It’s part of what happens when you fast. Well, I’ve made it a practice. And again, I don’t know if everyone, I doubt if everyone else might feel comfortable doing that, but I usually stop eating about 8 o’clock at night and really don’t eat again until, perhaps, 11 or 12 the next day. So, I give my body had plenty of chance, and obviously I have very good insulin response in terms of being able to do that, but it allows my body to kind of work on getting rid of things that shouldn’t be there and also to rely more on using my stored fat for fuel rather than sugar.
Ben: So, you’ve found almost kind of like this intermittent fasting type of approach has been pretty useful for you?
Cary: Yeah. And I’m also able to do my morning workout before doing that as well, and that was another thing mentally. I thought, “Oh my god. I’m going to die. I gotta have something to eat before I do this.” And that’s not the case. And again, it’s very logical. If you look back at our paleo existence, hunter-gatherer time, let’s put it that way, they didn’t have, they get up in the morning, they got to go out and eat, they got to get food for their group. What are they going to say? “Oh my goodness. I got to have my protein shake”? “I got to have an energy drink here before I get going”? No. I mean, they didn’t know when they were going to eat or how often they were going to. So, the system was very well attuned to kind of living off what it had to in order to promote survival. So, the idea that everything has, that you have to have something to eat all the time, I don’t think that’s true. But for, obviously, for people who have some type of blood sugar difficulty that they would have to work up to that, but it might be a goal to kind of find out just what your body can do in terms of helping to preserve itself.
Ben: Interesting. So, any other little things throughout the day?
Cary: The way I do it, and again, this is not necessarily what everyone else should do, and another little thing I think that I’ve found, there are movements that come along. Right now, we’re in kind of vegan, raw food craze. And I say craze, with all due respect, there’s a lot of people and there’s some good evidence that we should eat a certain amount of raw food. But if you understand the energy that’s available in vegetables, for example, raw foods, salad, big salads, those kind of things, they’re more cleansing. But if you want building, really, you have to have some degree of heat applied to that food to release nutrients that don’t normally get absorbed as well. It’s been known for a long time, for example, that the beta carotene is more available in cooked carrots than raw carrots. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat ’em raw, it just means you need a balance. So, I try to have that kind of balance. I try to have a salad, my mid-day meal would be a salad, good protein. For example, I would make a salad, like salmon, some type of cold salmon or even the canned Alaskan salmon is a very good food. Like you, I’ll throw in some olives, some avocado. I have no problem with the whole fat aspect of food, as long as I’m keeping the carbs low. I think that’s a very, very good consideration. At night, it’s going to be cooked. Two or three vegetables, a good protein source, and a moderate amount of carbohydrates, usually yams, sweet potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, something that people may not use that much, but it’s a real good source of inulin, which is a real nice prebiotic as well. That’s a very good slow digesting starch. Something along those lines is what I would usually eat at night. And then in the morning, after workout, later, I guess, not that early, late afternoon or late morning meal would be some type of a drink. That’s when I put in in a lot of different goodies, especially the whey protein.
Ben: Gotcha. So, that’s kind of your typical day?
Cary: Yup! I get myself, I’ve also learned over the years that you have to have times when you allow yourself to do things that you don’t normally do, even if they’re good things, but they’re just different. So, the weekends for me are that.
Ben: Gotcha. Like different workouts and things like that?
Cary: Different workouts, different food things. If I want to go out to a restaurant and get something different. I used to beat myself up in the beginning so badly mentally, because I felt, “Oh my god. I’ve blown it. I shouldn’t be doing this.” That was worse for me than what I was doing when I was eating. So, now I have more of a mental, I have more of a kindness for myself mentally where I say, “Okay, good. If you got to make an exception, do it. No problem.”
Ben: Gotcha. Well, you’re certainly in good shape and have kept yourself up pretty well. For those of you listening in, I have hung out with Cary down in California and seen him, and he doesn’t look like he’s 65, let’s put it that way. So, the guy knows what he’s talking about. Cary, I’d like to thank you for all the advice that you’ve dished out today. Is there anything else that you wanted to bring up before we let you go?
Cary: Well, again, and I really stress this, but be true to yourself in terms of what you do. Ben, in a way, I’m almost glad that I’ve been exercising as long as I have been. The kind of things I’d pick to do, and I don’t mean to pick on this at all because it’s a wonderful system, but, for example, like the Crossfit, which I think is great, but for some folks, just getting on that bandwagon and maybe exercising beyond what they should do or finding themselves in trouble because they just don’t think it through in terms of their own body or what they should be doing, I’m not really as prone to fads as I used to be. I’ll stand back, I’ll look at it, and I say, “Okay. If I do it, what is the best way to do it? Is this something I need to do or is what I’m doing adequate, not only adequate, but very, very positive for me.” But take time to evaluate what’s going on.
And just one last little thing, I’m going to work out today after we get done talking, and today’s a pulling day. So, the one thing I keep my enthusiasm up, I’ll find different ways to look at what I’m doing to see if I can improve it. There’s a bent-over dumbbell row movement that I’m going to do. I’ve kind of experimented with kind of a two-fold thing, where in the beginning I’ll just draw my shoulder blades back and then pull up, just a little variation, whatever it happens to be, but kind of think of ways that you can kind of tweak it in a positive way that keeps your enthusiasm up because you’re going to try something, maybe, that you haven’t done before, and just see how it works for yourself. So, kind of keeping things, even though you’re doing the same thing, keeping it fresh, keeping it new by kind of examining how you’re doing something and try to do it better.
Ben: Gotcha. So, introducing your body to some of those new things.
Cary: Yup! And always keeping be on the lookout for good information, how you can improve what you’re doing.
Ben: Nice. Alright. Well, folks, I will make sure to put a photo of Cary in the show notes so you can see what he looks like and what it looks like when you take care yourself when you’re 65 years old. And also put a link to Cary’s Wide World of Health radio show, which he broadcasts on KSTE Talk 650 if you want to listen into that. And Cary, thank you so much for your time today.
Cary: Well, Ben, and thank you for the work that you do. By bringing different people up and bringing the kind of information that you do. You help people have a leg up on the kind of process that needs to take place in order to have a successfully aging population and enjoy your life as long as possible. So, I applaud the work that you’re doing.
Ben: Thanks Cary that’s good to hear. Alright. Well, have a good one!
Cary: Thank you!
Ben: Hey, folks! Ben Greenfield here, and I have a triathlete with me on the call today, and her name is Elizabeth Ruiz. She is a certified strength and conditioning coach, and she coaches lots of different things, including endurance sports and triathlon. She, herself, has done competitive bodybuilding, triathlon, duathlon, cycling even equestrian events. And Elizabeth is also a coach over at Pacific Elite Fitness, and she works with a variety of individuals. You can go view her more comprehensive bio at pacificfit.net. But Elizabeth also happens to be somebody who knows a little bit about growth hormone and kind of how you can cause a bigger release of growth hormone when you’re out there exercising or recovering and what growth hormone is. And Elizabeth, just so folks kind of can get to know you a little bit before we launch into this whole growth hormone thing, how long have you been doing this? How long have you been kind of competing in sports and everything? And also, you’re over in Chicago. Right?
Ben: Or Wisconsin. That’s right, yeah.
Elizabeth: Yep. Or as we say, Wisconsin.
Ben: So, you’ve been doing this a while?
Elizabeth: Well over 25 years. I think. Yeah. Long time.
Ben: Yeah. And always, obviously not always racing triathlon, but you kind of made the switch from other sports into triathlon recently or has that been a while as well?
Elizabeth: Well, triathlon was about 20 years ago, and then I specialized in cycling and really committed to that sport on a pretty high competitive level. Had a bike shop with my ex-husband in Miami. So, I am pretty intimately acquainted with a bike, racing, things like that. And then, when I moved back up here, I’ve sort of dabbled in road running and triathlon.
Ben: Yeah. You’re being humble. I noticed you have 11 Florida State Championship titles as an elite road and track cyclist. She knows what she’s doing folks. Alright. So, let’s talk about growth hormone, because I know that’s kind of an area that you know a little bit about and you know how to kind of get it up in men and women, and we’ll talk about why that’s good and what it is. But let’s start here. For folks listening in who hear about growth hormone, or GH as it’s sometimes called, and don’t really understand why they even need to care about it, what exactly is growth hormone why should we care about it?
Elizabeth: Well, growth hormone is released out of the pituitary gland, which is kind of like the master controller of the endocrine system. And what it does is it stimulates growth, cell reproduction and regeneration in human beings. Unfortunately, when we are done growing and maturing somewhere around 18 to 20 years old, the levels start to drop.
Ben: Gotcha. So, in terms of kind of like, once the levels start to drop or what growth hormone kind of feels like when it’s up and when it’s down, what do you feel like when your levels of growth hormone begin to drop? Or is there a way that you feel?
Elizabeth: Oh. Well, there are people who have congenital low levels, and those are people that suffer from dwarfism, so they won’t reach normal height after puberty, with regular human beings that don’t have a deficiency, the symptoms are fairly similar to what we consider kind of midlife crisis issues. That would be loss of quality of life, loss of energy, getting more body fat, not sleeping as well. And a lot of these symptoms are kind of associated with mid-age.
Ben: Gotcha. Kind of sounds similar to like what you’d experience as a guy if you’re testosterone dropped.
Elizabeth: Right. Andropause or menopause in a female, or perimenopausal symptoms, very similar.
Ben: Do those type of things, a lot of times, do you get a drop in growth hormone at the same time as you might be getting andropause or menopause?
Elizabeth: Well, I think over the years it’s just kind of a steady dropping level. But as we were genetically programmed, I don’t think we were meant to live to be 80 years old. So, I just think it’s part of our adaptation as human beings, when you’re pretty much beyond that midlife crisis, then you don’t really need to regenerate as much for not continuing, maturing, and growing.
Ben: Or at least we’re not meant to be reproducing and doing triathlons when we’re 80.
Elizabeth: No. Although I have an uncle who did it well into his 70s.
Ben: Yeah. Absolutely.
Elizabeth: Pretty amazing though.
Ben: So, is there a way to test for growth hormone levels?
Elizabeth: There’s a couple of forms of testing. It involves screening blood and giving people or patients either arginine or they test insulin levels. And then if your doctor would suspect a real issue involving the pituitary, then it gets a little bit more involved with imaging. Because a lot of times, what makes for low levels is tumors, pituitary tumors.
Ben: Gotcha. Okay. So, let’s say that somebody either tests and they find out that they’re low in growth hormone or they’re experiencing, they’re just getting older and they’re experiencing kind of a drop in performance or that natural decline in maybe the amount of watts they could produce on a bike, or the amount of weight that they could lift in the weight room, or how fast they’re able to run. Obviously, we hear about cyclists going the illegal route and getting these growth hormone injections and doing things that they shouldn’t be doing and that could be dangerous in that regard. But in terms of natural ways to get your growth hormone levels up, I know that’s kind of the practical method is what you specialize in. How is it that folks can get their growth hormone up through their training, or their nutrition, or otherwise?
Elizabeth: Well, with training, it involves a certain protocol and it tends to favor not so much the slow twitch specialist, but exercising to a level where you start producing that lactic acid. And that will actually, that protocol used in the training regimen will help elevate those levels. But one of the more entertaining ways, I think, is through sleep.
Ben: And you say entertaining ’cause why?
Elizabeth: Well, personally, I really enjoy sleeping. My husband kind of makes jokes about me about how I can drop off in a nap and within three to four minutes, I’ll fall asleep, and then I’ll wake up and I’ll start telling them about a dream that I had, which is not normal. So, in order to really start releasing the human growth hormone, you have to get into that deep, deep sleep where you’re starting to dream, and then your body will start producing the human growth hormone through really deep REM cycle-type sleep patterns. So, the quality of sleep and sleep hygiene is really important when you’re training athletes. I emphasize that a lot when I work with my clients. It’s not so much the training, but how well are you taking care of yourself post-exercise.
Ben: Okay. So, rewinding just a second and going back to your recommendation that if you want to increase growth hormone that you have to produce lactic acid, does it matter if you’re doing track repeats versus doing weight training or can pretty much anything kind of work?
Elizabeth: I think you can work in various modalities, as long as you’re getting the work to rest ratio right in between the sets.
Ben: And what does that mean?
Elizabeth: It means, for example, if I had a client who was doing deadlifts and I prescribed a certain rep range and weight, I also prescribe to them a rest ratio. So, if it takes one minute to do the set, then they need to actually recover for certain amount of time before they embark on the next set.
Ben: Okay. Got it. So, as far as frequency, like how often folks should be doing stuff like this, producing lactic acid, or through harder cardiovascular intervals, or by doing weight training, how often do you need to do stuff like this to kind of stave off the declining growth hormone or bump up your growth hormone levels?
Elizabeth: That would have to be a case by case kind of scenario, depending on the athlete’s age, their training value. ‘Cause you don’t want to prescribe too much, ’cause then it leads to overtraining and cortisol levels. So, that’s where working with a coach and being supervised and not self-medicating workouts is a good idea. Because too much is not a good thing.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. So, training, you want to make sure that you’re not doing basically just only long slow aerobic workouts. What about nutrition? Are there things that you can do from that standpoint?
Elizabeth: Yup! There’s a lot. First of all, I think the number one thing to avoid is really high glycaemic index carbohydrates. And I don’t know if your clientele, your listeners know what that is, but it’s basically try to stay off of the real fast releasing sugars.
Ben: Okay. So those are associated with a decline in growth hormone levels after you consume high amounts of them?
Elizabeth: Yeah. I mean, after training, yes, you need it, after training for recovery. But just generally, meal by meal, to sort of modify that, and in addition to that, maybe helping the process a little bit through some amino acid supplementation, and that would be arginine, ornithine at night and glutamine during the day.
Ben: Arginine, ornithine, and glutamine?
Ben: Okay. So, in terms of that morning glass of orange juice, that’d kind of be out as a…?
Elizabeth: It depends on the individual. But generally speaking, I tend to avoid real high glycaemic carbs in the morning. And a lot of it depends on the individual as well, ’cause some blood types tolerate orange juice, whereas others don’t. But I would try to move them more towards a more steady releasing form of sugar in the morning.
Ben: Gotcha. So, I’m going to go way out on a limb here and do something that my mom told me never to do, but how old are you, Elizabeth?
Elizabeth: I just turned 48 last week.
Ben: And you’re out there smashing triathlons, and doing these cycling races, and stuff like that?
Elizabeth: I don’t bike race anymore. So, I still compete, I’m still pretty competitive, although I’m not training the way I used to ’cause I do have other interests in life.
Ben: Right. So, what’s a typical day, ’cause I’m looking at a picture of you and you look great. You’re ripped and everything. What’s a typical day of eating actually look like for you?
Elizabeth: Oh, the morning starts out with eggs and maybe a protein source. Being from the Midwest, we love our sausage, as they call it here. I have a nitrate-free nice kind form of meat or something like that and I have a slice of Ezekiel bread. I kind of stay away from wheat thanks to you.
Ben: Yeah, me too. Thanks to me.
Elizabeth: And that’s breakfast number one. And then I go home and I do horse chores. We have a few horses out at the farm, so I kind of joke about the barn as my gym. So, I do that, and it involves lifting heavy bales of hay and five gallon buckets of water, and then mucking out stalls. And then I come home and I have breakfast number two, which is oatmeal or a hearty wheat-free quinoa-type of mash with a low glycaemic fruit such as blueberries or strawberries. So, I have that as breakfast number two. And then I work, and I work most of the day. And if I’m lucky in the afternoon, I get in my exercise, which for me is kind of like exorcism. I’m pretty much wired to be very active. So, if I don’t get my workouts in, it’s not very happy at home. And so, I put in my exercise, being cross-country skiing, cycling, a little bit of weight training mixed in there, running. I like to partake in a lot of different forms of exercise now that I’m not just on the cycling schedule or I’m not just a triathlete.
Ben: Right. Gotcha.
Elizabeth: And then I eat dinner, and then it’s time to put everybody to bed, usually me first. And before I go to bed, if I’m feeling kind of hungry, I will have some almond butter, or peanut butter, or something like that to sort of hold me over at night ’cause if, a lot of times, I don’t know if you go through this, but if you’ve been training hard and you don’t eat a whole lot or you’re not quite topped off on your fuel, it’s very hard to go to sleep. So, sleep is really important. So, I take in a snack of maybe some yogurt, Greek yogurt, not the stuff with a lot of sugar in it, and have a little nut butter or something like that which will allow me to really sleep well through the night ’cause it’s so important to start dreaming.
Ben: Right. Gotcha. Okay, cool. And do you take supplements?
Elizabeth: Since I’m not trying to crush the competition, I basically take fish oils just to make sure, as an insurance policy. I take a multivitamin, but I divide it in half and take that throughout the day. I really try to get it in through food, my nutrition. And after training, I’ll take some glutamine, or if I’m planning a really intense workout, I’ll put it into my bottle of whatever I’m drinking. So, I don’t partake a whole lot in supplements ’cause I’m not racing twice a week or three times a week like I used to when I was cycling. So, it just doesn’t make sense to me.
Ben: So, as far as growth hormone goes, kind of to come back full circle, ’cause I wanted to kind of hear how somebody who seems to be doing pretty well on the growth hormone side of things is eating throughout the day, I wanted to make sure that we cover this just so folks know, I mean, if you’re looking on the internet for like growth hormones and stuff like that, how do you know if something is illegal or something is dangerous, or is there a way to know what you should or shouldn’t be doing from that perspective?
Elizabeth: Well, I think all of them are illegal. The NFL, the National Baseball League, they’re really trying to hammer down on the athletes who are taking these drugs and they’re developing better and better drug testing methodology where they can go back over 21 days and see if someone has been taking a source of human growth hormone beyond what your body naturally produces. And I just would recommend, no, don’t go there. Just try to do it naturally. And if you are really deficit, if you’re really struggling, see a qualified doctor, endocrinologist. I would not advise someone to go online and try to get human growth hormone because there’s some risks involved.
Ben: Absolutely. I guess the way I think about it is anything that causes cellular growth, you want to be kind of careful with because cellular growth basically is cancer.
Elizabeth: Sure! You could include that.
Ben: Yeah. It’s not like you don’t need some of the stuff for recovery, but, yeah, dumping inordinate amounts of growth hormone into your body versus putting your body in a state where you can produce it naturally, two totally different beasts. So, cool.
Well, folks, for you listening in, I’ve got a little info graphic about human growth hormone that I’m going to put in the show notes to this podcast episode over at bengreenfieldfitness.com that kind of shows you some visuals of HGH, some of the benefits of HGH, kind of what happens when athletes take it, what kind of a very surprising industry is behind a lot of the illegal HGH that’s out there on the market. I’ll also put a link to Elizabeth’s coaching page if you’re looking for a coach for endurance sports or for fitness in general. Elizabeth is really good and I would recommend you hook up with her, and we’ll put a link to that in the show as well. And Elizabeth, anything else that you wanted to mention?
Elizabeth: Basically, don’t get sucked in by what a Hollywood star is doing to fight aging. I mean, we all get older. I just turned 48, so I’m right there at the end of the Baby Boomer generation and trying very hard through drug-free means to sort of stave off the aging process. And it’s not just go in and attack it from one side and one direction, it’s really a lifestyle change.
Ben: Yeah. That makes sense. I mean, human growth hormone, we didn’t touch on this too much, but, I mean, a huge, huge market there is not athletes, but the whole anti-aging sector. And I think what you’ve touched on today, like as you age, doing hard stuff, lifting heavy stuff, not eating really sweet stuff, I mean, those three things just together are really, really powerful in terms of naturally keeping your growth hormone levels up. So, yeah, good advice. And hopefully got something out of that, folks. And again, check out the show notes for an infographic that I’ll post over there, and I’ll link over to Elizabeth where you can see a picture of her running down the beach, looking really athletic. And, yeah, thanks, Elizabeth!
Elizabeth: Thank you, Ben!
Ben: Well folks, I hope you enjoyed that double interview super special on aging. And remember, if you have questions, comments, or feedback go to bengreenfieldfitness.com and leave what you have to say in the show notes for this podcast episode. And until next time, this is Ben Greenfield signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com.
If you want to know how to stay fit as you age, today’s double interview release is a must-listen.
The first interview is with Cary Nosler. Cary (pictured right) is 65 years old and has been a fitness enthusiast for the past 50 years. He is a wealth of knowledge about how to stay fit as you age and what happens to your body when you get older.
During our interview, Cary talks about:
-How to deal with the mental aspects of aging and exercise….
-How to stay motivated to exercise as you get older…
-What a typical day of exercise look like for him…
-How to figure out what expectations to have for yourself as they age…
-How to balance what doctors and medical community says you should do with what you feel like doing…
-How to deal with the accumulated injuries that happen to everyone who exercises, especially as you age…
-Considerations for nutrition, supplements, and hormone balance as you age…
Cary also has a weekly radio show on the Wide World Of Health Radio, in which he interviews health experts from around the world!
The second interview is with Elizabeth Ruiz (pictured right).
Elizabeth is a coach at Pacific Elite Fitness. With over 20 years racing experience as an elite road and track cyclist, Elizabeth garnered 11 Florida state championship titles, as well as podium finishes in triathlon, duathlon, road and trail running.
With time spent in the racing trenches, she has first hand experience of the challenges of preparation, travel, and race day performance, as well as how to optimize the way that you feel and your growth hormone levels as you age.
During our discussion, Elizabeth answers the following questions:
-What is growth hormone and why should we care about it?
-Is there a way to test for growth hormone levels? If so, what test is best?
-What happens if you’re deficient in growth hormone?
-How common are deficiencies in active men and women?
-How can you naturally raise growth hormone levels?
-Is taking growth hormone illegal or dangerous, or does it depend on the type of supplement you use?