Transcript of entire interview below:
Gary Collins: Hi, this is Gary Collins, creator of www.thesimplelifenow.com, and I am here with Erin Sharoni, the host and anchor for CBS Sports. She’s also the creator and host of Live Like an Athlete podcast on CBSSports.com. Thanks for coming on today, Erin.
Erin Sharoni: Thanks for having me.
Gary: I think you have a very unique story, and I thought it was interesting how we found each other through the Primal and Paleo kind of ways. But nonetheless, we ended up talking and noticed we had a lot in common, and I really like what you’re trying to do on your end as well because it’s pretty unique. For those unfamiliar, would you give a little background to how you ended up in the Paleo and Primal world?
Erin: Sure. Just to let everybody know, the way that I found you was on Twitter because you posted a photo of an egg inside of an avocado. And I tweeted at you and was like, “What is that?” I think probably because I was hungry at that point. Hey, you can cook the avocado? I never would have done that. I would have thought it would have been gross. But it was a good idea. That’s how I found you, the power of social media.
How I ended up in the Primal Paleo world was probably similar path to a lot of people, with a lot of resistance. I was like, dragged kicking and screaming over time, because I went from being a raw foodist and even trying to be a Vegan. I was very sick, trying to heal myself. My first foray into Paleo/Primal, really Paleo, was that horrible high protein, I had no idea about the fats. A lot of people, unfortunately, still, when they think of Paleo, think of really lean meats and tons of meat, which will probably actually kill you because it activates your TorA pathways. Anyway, that said, it made my particular illness worse, and so I said, “That’s it. This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Nobody should do it.” I preached against it for a while, because I’m a very passionate person. I’m prone to hyperbole, since I’m on camera.
Then fast forward probably about two years. I tried everything. I did a ton of research and ultimately came to the understanding that I needed to be eating a lot of fat, which I was really excited about, because I never let myself eat fat. Immediately, my health changed and started improving. But I also did something very controversial, too, because of my particular illness and situation, in concert with my doctor’s supervision, which as the HCG diet. Which actually, I think is probably fairly commonly known among people in this particular community, just because they tend to be more open minded and educated on various methods that people are using. For me, at least, it worked very well. It helped to reset my hypothalamus. I wasn’t obese, I didn’t need to lose a ton of weight, but it was for health issues. That allowed me to be able to start consuming fat in a way that my body could process it. Then once I switched to that Primal way of eating, it was like, in the cartoons, where the clouds part and the angels come down and it’s like, [sings] “Ah,” that’s exactly what I needed.
Gary: Yeah, what people don’t realize, too, is I deal with clients and on my end, I have to explain to them that if you have, like most Americans, spent a large part of your life not consuming healthy fats, actually, your gall bladder kind of goes into a dormant stage. Once you introduce fats, it takes a while for your gall bladder to react and the bile salts to be produced.
It’s an evolution. People think they can, we’ve discussed this, think they can click over like that into a fat burner, because we read all this popular crap that people write, “21 Day Sugar Detox,” “Turn Ketogenic Tomorrow,” whatever. It just doesn’t work. It takes a while.
Erin: Yeah. That’s a very good point about the bile salts, because that was something I specifically struggled with, prior, even to going Primal. Because like you, I had spent hours a day doing all this research. I’m a smart enough individual that I was like, well, if the doctors aren’t going to help me, I’m going to help myself. You may read too much, but at least you can parse out what makes sense. One of the things that I came to was that I wasn’t producing enough bile. I, inaccurately, but it makes sense why I would think this thought, “Well, my body, Erin’s body can’t process fat. I must have some genetic malfunction.” I started taking Ox Bile (Ox bile extract is bile derived from a bovine source and freeze-dried (lyophilized). This extract is powdered and sold in pill form online and in supplement stores) and then I started noticing, and this time I was still sort of vegan. I don’t know what I was doing. I wasn’t eating a lot of meat. I realized I was able to eat a lot of avocados and nuts without as much distress.
I was like, well, that’s good, because I know these are good fats. I love eating olives, so I was eating tons of olives. The Ox bile really helped. I’m still taking that, actually, because my body still has a little trouble producing it. But I think over time it gets better.
Gary: It does. With that being said, with people who have traditionally eaten kind of a high carbohydrate diet, I always tell them, we work with digestive enzymes and also maybe even a hydrochloric acid or HCL tablet to go along with it. Because when you eat a high carbohydrate diet, it inhibits your ability to produce HCL, hydrochloric acid. Yeah, so there’s a lot to it.
Erin: Yeah, I take that, too. I also suffer from hypothyroidism. That goes hand‑in‑hand with low stomach acid. It’s a chicken‑and‑the‑egg thing, but anyone who deals with that knows there’s that whole vicious cycle in it of itself. It also involves iron, which I’m still actually fairly anemic from years of just being anemic and also having a generic predisposition. When you have low HCL, you can’t absorb the iron. It’s a whole chain series of events, but the good thing is that I feel like I’m back on track.
Once I started eating the way that my ancestors ate, which is how I like to think of it, what’s right for my genetic code and enhancing my genes, I started feeling much better. Everything just so rapidly improved. The speed at which I saw it… It’s not like you turn keto overnight. No, that did not happen. I went through a very long process, but in terms of seeing the benefits, it was just unbelievable.
Gary: Yeah, in the beginning, you do get this kick‑start. I think what happens with people is they get so excited and they feel so much better, they think that they’re back right on path. Then I have to warn them. I go, “It actually takes longer. Your body is going to adapt. It’s going to go through these cycles, these ebb and flows, where systems are kicking in, where hormones are starting to readjust.”
It takes anywhere, to go through the whole thing, I would say on average, two to three years. Literally, to go from start to finish to where you’ve got it all mapped out and you’re comfortable with everything. In your body, you figure out where it’s going to go.
Don’t get me wrong. Some people do it very quickly, but for the most part, I’ve noticed it takes this whole evolution of time for it to take full effect.
Erin: Yeah, I noticed that, too. I had initial, very strong… My body is highly sensitive. I’m one of those people that can smell some herb that they shouldn’t be having and have a reaction. I’ve always been that way. While that’s a very frustrating situation to deal with on most levels in daily life, I think it actually also means that you respond very quickly if you’re going to respond in a positive manner. I saw things really, really fast, but to your point, then I also had changes. I was like, “Wait a second. Where did all that energy go?” Or, “Wait a second. I lost five pounds in a week.” Then two weeks later, the weight loss completely stopped. I was like, “I’m doing everything right. Oh, my god. I ate two chocolate chips yesterday. Maybe that was it.” You make yourself crazy, but you’re right. It’s actually that the body is just finding that whole new static balance, which is what it wants to begin with.
Gary: Yeah. My philosophy is always, “Hey, it took you several decades to screw your body up. You’re not going to change it overnight.” That’s what people forget, too. I go, “Hey, you’ve been eating like crap basically since birth,” for most of us.
Erin: I haven’t been because my parents were…I told this when we first spoke. My parents were hippies, or that’s what I call them. I was really raised…I was born in the ’80s and that was really right around the time that they started adding high‑fructose corn syrup. I think the first year they may have added it was ’81 or ’79. I don’t know. Anyway, the point is that a few years later, my parents were already on the anti‑high‑fructose‑corn‑syrup bandwagon. As a kid, they would make me go to the store. If I would pick up anything… We always shopped at health food stores. If we were at a Waldbaum’s, or a Publix or whatever, I’d pick up a cereal or something. My mom would say, “Does it say high‑fructose corn syrup?” I’d read it and as soon as I got to the damn high‑fructose corn syrup… It was, “You’ll have to put it back on the shelf.” I would tell the kids at school and they were like… Even my teachers were like, “Oh, honey, that’s just corn. That’s not bad for you.” My parents were like, “Uh‑uh‑uh.”
I credit them with raising me a healthy kid. We were still fairly low fat and I ate way too many carbs, for sure. They didn’t know everything, but they did the best that they could. Thankfully, I hope I’m not too damaged. [laughs]
Gary: Yeah. We all go through that. That’s an interesting point. Even when I was growing up, the health food stores, it was always whole grains. It was a lower sugar, but it was substituting honey and the natural sugars, even back then. You look back and you go, “Yeah, that was healthier,” but for most Americans, you were still overeating grains.
Erin: Absolutely.The doctor who got me started down this whole path, who I really credit her and my physician back in New York with really helping me a lot. But this woman, Cate Shanahan, wrote a great book specifically about genetics and changing your genes. She asked me, I’ll never forget, because she said, “What was your breakfast as a kid growing up? What was your typical breakfast?” I’m like, “Oh, I wasn’t allowed to have any of that crappy breakfast cereal.” I would cry and kick and scream, “All I want is Captain Crunch.” To this day, all I want is Captain Crunch. My parents were like, “No.” I had that like, fructose sweetened garbage from the health food store. But it was still two percent milk, very, I had only whole milk as a kid. Then once my little sister was born, my mom tried to lose all the pregnancy weight, I remember we switched to skim milk. I must have been five and I’m like, “What is this crap? This tastes horrible. Give me back my buttermilk.”
Gary: Tastes like water, yeah.
Erin: I thought back and I’m like, “It was always some form of cereal and milk or bread and butter.” There was always some grain and always some dairy. Once my mom got on a weight loss kick, then we no longer had full fat dairy, which would have been a lot more preferable. I remember hating the skim stuff. It was just, you’re right, that’s what most people do.
Gary: During this transition, did you notice any pitfalls? I know I ran into them and I’m always curious to hear what other people ran into as they started making the changes. We all kind of go off, some people are lucky, they don’t. But I went in a few couple wrong directions that kind of messed me up and I had to figure it out on my own.
Erin: Well, I certainly have a problem in overeating nuts, like you say in your book, in your blog, don’t go nuts with nuts. But I think it’s partly an effect of like, A, I always liked them, B, I’m half Middle Eastern, so I blame that on my heritage. I’m like, “Listen, in the desert they sit around in huts and they have bowls of nuts and seeds and they just like nosh on them and smoke a hookah all day. Don’t blame me, blame my ancestors.” I was raised on that stuff. But kidding aside, yeah, way too much of that. Because when you don’t always know what to reach for something, is it readily available. Then you’re like, oh, I know, almonds are safe. Not the whole bag. Macadamia nuts are safe. Erin, not the entire jar. I’ll eat a whole jar of macadamia nuts. I might be the only person who won’t get sick. But I’m sure that’s a problem with my ghrelin response or something. Yeah, I overeat some stuff. Also, I think for a woman, too, we have, obviously, a lot of specific needs that are very different than you guys.With the hormonal fluctuations, I would say I was quite frustrated. God bless that doctor, because I emailed and called her every day. I’m like, “What’s going on? I gained two pounds. My pants feel tighter.”
She’s like, “Well, it’s day 19, so maybe you should calm down.” Not to be graphic, but women, regardless of how old you are, you’re going to deal with fluctuations. There was sort of, for us, a learning curve of like, you’ve just got to let go. Which I should practice what I preach. Be scientific and take all your notes and make all your spreadsheets like I do. I have a history of every single day. But at the same time, don’t like jump to conclusions. Or like she had told me, don’t think, don’t judge your weight today based on what you ate this morning. It may be inflammatory response, but most likely, it’s not. It’s an accumulation of something else.
Gary: Yeah. And that’s common in general. I mean, your weight will fluctuate. You don’t want it to fluctuate too much, but to fluctuate two to three pounds in a day is not that abnormal, no matter what you’re eating. There’s a lot of, not getting graphic, a lot of factors that could be going on.
Gary: But that’s why I teach, why I made my book so simple, too. We forget now that we’re deep into it and we’ve been doing this for a while, that when you first started, you didn’t know anything. You were basically a blank slate in this whole holistic Primal Paleo ancestral kind of lifestyle. It took you a while, you had to make these mistakes. I try and eliminate those mistakes that i made and try and keep it simple for someone who, basically, I wrote my book, if I was to start 10 years ago, what book would I want? That’s kind of how I look at things. It’s, keep it basic, keep it simple, don’t worry too much, don’t try and do it all at once. Just take it in slow steps. Learn as you go. It makes it a lot easier. I think where a lot of people fail is they jump into it head first and go nuts right off the bat.
Erin: That won’t work. Everyone’s different, but like I said, and I did it incorrectly. But when I initially tried it, a girlfriend of mine out in LA, Kelly ‑‑ she’s awesome, so if she ever watches this, she’ll know that I’m talking about her ‑‑ has fibromyalgia, and so we both have an autoimmune disease, mine is different. She had adopted the Paleo diet with an autoimmune protocol. It changed her, I mean, she was beautiful already. But it completely, she lost all this weight and she used to be a volleyball player, she was tall and lean and gorgeous. Like, she had all this muscle, I’m like, oh, I can’t wait to do this.
My willpower, if anything, is my strongest trait. I’m like, if someone tells me, here’s the guidelines, I don’t stray. Like there’s no cheating. I jumped in head first and my body wasn’t ready at that time, because I was very, very sick, and it was a fricking train wreck of like all train wrecks. I mean, I think it made me way worse. I remember being so angry because I was like, “How unfair is this? What is this crap that every doctor is telling us that this actually…? This doesn’t work. This is horrible.” Little did I know, I was eating coconut flakes, which I obviously should not have been, and I was eating way too much protein. There were things that I was doing wrong.
I think the problem is not so much that people jump in 100 percent, it’s that they jump in 100 percent without understanding how to customize it for their needs. Because while my friend Kelly can eat coconut chips till the sun comes up, I cannot. But I can also eat eggs and she can’t, or whatever the case may be. Every single human body is different. Your body also changes over time with age, and with stress, and all that stuff.
The other pitfall that I did have that I’ll say this time around, and I forgot to mention, which is fairly common…actually Gary Taubes mentions it in his book, which you recommended to me, “Why We Get Fat.” He gives a good explanation for it. I was like, “Oh.” As I was reading it the light switch went on. You mention it, too, in your book. I got very, very dizzy to the point where I almost passed out. It was quite scary because I was actually on the news‑desk in the middle of an interview with someone. You have what’s called an IFB where your producer talks to you. That’s the little earpiece you see the anchors wearing. I know you know but maybe someone watching doesn’t know. Then you’re watching a monitor, and you’re also listening to the guest talking, and you can hear yourself in your ear. There are a lot of stimuli. You’ve got bright lights. I’m sitting on this desk. I swear to you, thank goodness I was covered with graphic, because I must have gone like that. I mean, the whole room spun. I had been really dizzy and fairly weak all day. That kind of took the cake because I’ve only fainted twice in my life, but it was that. It was like, “Oh my god, I’m going to go down.” [laughs] You know?
I couldn’t stop and tell the producers, “Hey, can you cut the tape?” because someone was talking. I kind of just stuck with it, and I took a deep breath, and it passed. Afterwards I was like, “Do you know how close I came to passing out on the news‑desk?” [laughs] But I didn’t. Subsequently I realized, obviously, that had to do with salt balance and all that sort of stuff. It was very scary. For a minute I questioned it. I thought, “Maybe I am getting too aggressive.” Maybe all this high fat and low carb is not healthy. Maybe it really isn’t the right thing.” But then it evened out and I was totally fine.
Gary: That’s why I preach on my end. A lot of people jump right into the intermittent fasting to get you in a ketogenic state. They want you to instantly downgrade your meals and get away from the six meals a day. That’s where experience comes in on my end. I tell them, “You know, the reason I preach five to six meals a day six for the beginner is because their blood sugar is completely screwed up,” and their insulin levels, obviously. if you want to really damage them start having them do prolonged fasts that they’re not used to, and you’re going to get exactly that. You’re going to get dizzy spells. All of a sudden your blood sugar is going to crash It’s kind of dangerous. That’s why I always tell people in the beginning, “We want to keep you on the smaller meals to keep your blood sugar stable.” “We’re not trying to just blast you, and lose a bunch of weight, and get you in a ketogenic state. We’re just trying to get you an even line on your blood sugar, at least close, because you’re used to doing this all day long.” Again, that’s where a little experience comes in. [laughs]
Erin: Yeah, I have to say, the first thing I read on your blog after I found your avocado picture on Twitter, and then I saw that you’re a former Food and Drug enforcement agent, I’m like, “Huh, this it’s fascinating because all I do is talk about how I hate the FDA all the time. This should be interesting.”
Gary: I get it all the time.
Erin: We don’t have to get into that. No, the first thing I saw on your blog, which is what drew me to talk to you, was that you had this whole thing on intermittent fasting. You’re like, “Let me be really clear, do not do this if you are not a fat adaptive person, and 99 percent likelihood is that if you’re reading this you are not, because most people are not.” I was like, “Thank god somebody said this.” Because, while we can espouse the benefits of intermittent fasting, which, granted, once you’re in the right state is probably a very healthy thing to do, it is so stupid and irresponsible of all these bloggers and even doctors, forget all the trainers who have no training at all, telling people to do this crap. Do you know how sick I got trying to do that? And how many, even doctors, told me, “Oh, no, no, no. Just push through. Don’t worry.” For years I would literally cry during the day because I was like, ” I can’t function.” It makes you feel bad about yourself. It makes you feel like you’re not doing it, and then you cheat because, invariably, you have to survive somehow. You feel like a failure. On so many levels it’s so messed up. I was so glad that you very clearly laid out the reasons why you should not do it.
Until I had reset my body by going through the HCG diet, which is also very controversial, and it was hell. It was hell. It was not fun, but once I got to the other side of the tunnel, now I can do the intermittent fasting. I’m totally fine. Because I’m still fairly new to all this, some days my body really wants to eat all day. Then, you know what, I let it eat all day, safely. I don’t judge myself. You have to listen to your body. If you’re trying to intermittently fast, and you really feel like you’re going to die, and it’s not just psychological, then don’t fast.
Gary: Yeah, and that’s what I tell people, too. If you’re intermittent fasting and you feel lightheaded that day or something’s off, eat and see what happens. Yeah, that’s where that blog post came from. Actually it got really trendy, I’m trying to think, probably around a year ago. Everything goes up and down in trends.
Erin: That’s right.
Gary: All the people who I like to give a hard time because they don’t know anything and they’re calling themselves experts, they started throwing intermittent fasting out there. I went, “You’re going down a rough road because you don’t know what you’re talking about and you’re actually dangerous.” That’s been an issue of mine of late, is going after a few people who I feel are doing a disservice to the movement in not having the background or understanding of how some of these things work. Instead they grab it off someone’s blog, or they read it in someone’s book, and they go, “I’m an expert.” “All right, let’s do an intermittent fasting so I can make you lose weight.” It’s like, “No.” That’s a big problem.
Erin: Even some people who are experts. I would consider a physician could be an expert in the area of metabolic health but may still not be fully informed about one particular trend. Regardless of what someone’s qualifications are, I just think it’s prudent to proceed cautiously with something that is a fairly extreme recommendation in that it’s a departure from the norm. Whether that norm is a healthy norm or not, it’s still the norm. If you’re making a drastic change, even if it’s for the better, you’ve got to be careful. That’s my whole thing.
Gary: With me that’s why I’m a little unique. I do this crazy thing, “Practice what you preach,” which is getting fairly uncommon. But I also only do it from experience. I never tell anyone to do something that I have not yet done myself or have experience in. I’ve even taken women’s vitamins to make sure. Like the stuff I sell, I’ll take the women’s vitamins, too, to make sure I don’t have a reaction. Even though I could because there is a little bit different stuff, but not really.
That’s who I am. I’m not going to sell you anything or tell you to do anything that I haven’t done myself because I want to make sure it’s safe. I guess I’m just a little unique in that sense. I mean, I did “Weight Watchers.” I did “Atkins.” I did all kinds of stuff. I wasn’t overweight or out of shape. I just went, “I need to know what this does to your body, and how you react, and what are the pitfalls in it so I can understand when people come back to me and ask me a question.” I’ll tell you, within the Primal/Paleo world, one question I get asked all the time is Atkins.
Erin: I have to say, that’s one diet… I’m like you. I have experimented a lot. Obviously our motivations were different. Mine was out of, literally, sheer desperation. Also, I’m a geek, so I find this stuff. I’ve taken everything. I’ll tell you, as a former special agent, I’ve tried stuff that I’m sure was not supposed to be on the market. Nothing illegal, illegal, but all sorts of stuff.
I used to do fitness competitions. I was on stage. You know what goes on in those gyms. People tell you, “Here, try this. Here, try that.” Thankfully I never stuck a needle in myself, other than if my doctor told me to. I tried all sort of stuff. I’m not an athlete. I never had to be tested, so it didn’t really matter. I just really was very curious, I’m still very curious, as to what things do if it sounds like it’s safe and it makes sense.
“There is not way in hell I’m doing that. This is the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard.” Actually the premise is not bad. It’s the practice that’s flawed. The premise, essentially, is ketogenesis. There’s nothing wrong with being in ketosis for a short period of time. That part was correct, but the part of like, “Hey, the free for all,” with all the protein… I knew from a small child. My parents used to tell me how acidic protein made the body weight. I always was like, “Listen, my parents might have been wrong on eating lots of honey or blackstrap molasses, but they certainly were not wrong telling me that protein is acidic in excess,” because I know it is. That’s just that basic biology. Also, Atkins doesn’t emphasize quality at all. There’s no balance and there’s no discussion about quality, which is why I like the correct version of the primal movement. It’s because I was raised to really scrutinize organic, and free‑range, and ethically treated animals. It’s just how I grew up. To me it makes the most sense.
Gary: Yeah, that’s a good point because Atkins really was the beginning of the more ketogenic movement. A lot of things actually spawned from that that we know today in the ancestral health world or holistic health world. It’s interesting in that sense because that’s where the term ketogenic and ketosis became very popular. Today I always get some of the people talking to me, and they go, “Yeah, I’m going to low carb,” or “I’m, doing something to keep me in ketosis.” I go, “Well, you’re not going to be in ketosis all the time…”
Erin: Yeah, you don’t want to be in ketosis.
Gary: Yeah. I go, “You understand the definition of ketosis, right?” These are people who are calling themselves experts. Again, they’ll say it to me. I go, “Ketosis overabundance of ketone bodies in your blood stream.” You cannot actually have that all the time. If you’re a true fat‑burner your body will regulate to where you’re not in ketosis constantly. You’re ketogenic, but you’re not in ketosis.
Erin: I will never, ever forget when that Atkins trend started. I was obviously much younger, and I was home from school watching an Oprah episode. To this day I say I love Oprah. I think she’s great. Oprah’s someone obviously every health expert talks about, uses Oprah as an example with her weight, and blah, blah, blah, whatever. I remember she had done Atkins, because Atkins was really popular at that time. She had one of the doctors on the show. I swear to you, to this day I remember her saying, “All I wanted was an apple, so badly. I just wanted an apple.” This woman was crying for a damn apple. I was like, “Nobody let her eat an apple? An apple is not going to kill you.”
That’s when I was like, “This diet is so irresponsibly executed it’s not even funny.” What they’re getting at is great, but if someone wants to eat an apple, let them eat an apple.Fructose is not processed the same way as high‑fructose corn syrup. A Granny Smith apple is not going to kill you. From then on, I was like, “I’m not doing this trend.” It also pushed me away from the whole low carb movement in general. That was unfortunate that it took me so long to get to this point.
Gary: Oprah is a great example, because you’re looking at someone who has unlimited resources, can hire the best of the best. She still I think to this day hasn’t figured it out, and has gone through every trend. That’s why in my book one of the principles is “Avoid extremes.” If it sounds like a fad and it seems like an extreme approach, well, guess what? It probably is, and it’s not going to work long‑term. You can get any kind of fad to work short‑term, it’s the long‑term goal that we’re going after. We’re here to change our health forever, not just to go to the beach or go on that vacation six weeks from now. That’s what I try to pound into people is that’s what we’re looking at.
Erin: I’ve got to say, Gary, I think a lot of people don’t fully understand that concept, and I was one of those people. Obviously, as a woman, you’re very conscious of how you look. We can do a whole other podcast on how horrible the whole cultural situation is, but we won’t go into that. Then if someone who is also on camera for a living, I think I understand to some extent what Oprah is feeling, and the kind of pressure. Regular women have that pressure. If you’re also being scrutinized, it’s even worse. I understand the fear motivation, which is what that is. It’s a fear motivation. “If I don’t look a certain way,” and men have it too. “If I don’t look a certain way, I won’t achieve this. I won’t get the promotion. I won’t get the next job. No one will love me. I won’t get that person.” The idea that we embark on these fads or even trying to change our diet for life, because our motivation is to change the way that we look is really misguided I don’t think that I ever would have understood fully how great it is to change your diet, so that you feel better until I actually experienced feeling better.
Not just my disease getting better, but legitimately, I explained this to you the other day. I was like, “Wait! I was missing all this energy? I didn’t know living this kind of life was possible. I have no pain.” There were times when I thought I had no pain. Now I realize that my entire life I had been living in a limited fashion, because I am so much less limited now. It’s all relative, so there’s no way that I could have known. It’s like once you get a taste of that drug of living the life of a body that feels really good, you’re like, “Screw the visual aspect.” Yeah, I care about how I look. I’m vain. I do. I care about how I look, but I care a lot more that I can run on the beach and not be in pain. That I can bend down, squat down to pet my dog, and my knee doesn’t buckle. That’s a really big thing. Wake up in the morning and have energy. It’s amazing!
Gary: That’s probably too is our body’s get conditioned to being miserable, and that we don’t know that we’re actually miserable. I remember looking back into my 30’s. That was one of the worst periods in my life as far as health. It was when things really started falling apart. All the accumulation of all the damage was catching up to me from playing sports and eating poorly, and all the inflammation. That’s what I tell people, “You have no idea how you’re going to feel until you make this change. You’re going to look at it and go, ‘Wow! That is a huge, huge difference.'” I feel better today, then I did in parts of my 20’s. I feel that much better.
Erin: Oh, I definitely do! I’m 32, but first of all I just like life much better as I’ve got older, which is a completely separate thing. In terms of how I feel? Oh, yeah. Was I skinnier I guess? I’m a perfectly normal weight. My body fat is very low, and I’m totally fine. Maybe I wore a smaller pant size, but so what? I was miserable. My body felt like crap! Now, for the most part it doesn’t. I’m sure that in another five months, if I came and talked to you again, I’d be like, “Remember, we had that conversation? I thought I felt so great. That was nothing. I feel so much better!”
Gary: Yeah. I’ll be curious. Obviously, we’ll definitely follow‑up since you’re in the learning and adapting phase still. That’s what I tell people, “You’re never done.” It’s always going to be a continuing experimentation, because your body changes as you age. Your hormones change for guys and girls, it doesn’t matter. You’re never going to just get it wired. It’s always going to be slight things you’re going to vary. Activity level could be changing. You could be training for a half marathon, a marathon. You could be wanting to do triathlons. With that again, your body chemistry is going to change. You’re going to have to change your ratios of your diet. That’s what I tell people, “Don’t ever think you’re just going to get it nailed down. You’re going to follow this, and it’s going to be the exact same thing everyday.” Everything changes everyday from the amount of sleep you get, to the amount of activity. Everyone’s been programmed that, “Oh, my metabolism is pretty static.” No, it changes all throughout the day. It’s not this set point that it just sticks right there. It depends what you’re doing.
Erin: There’s an interesting analogy when you talk about for instance…I’m assuming anyone listening knows about insulin resistance or leptin resistance, and you talk about the sensitivity. Essentially, what we’re all after is increased insulin and/or leptin sensitivity. That’s really the driving factor for almost everything in every aspect of metabolic health. I sort of think of our adjustments as we get healthier along this path, as that sensitizing of the body. So that when there’s not so much noise of, “I’m in pain. I’m inflamed. I’m overweight. My hair is falling out. My skin is dry. I have zits. I can’t conceive,” whatever any of the problems for people might be.
As those things fall away and quieted down, I think that you can probably hear your body a whole lot better. That tinkering becomes more intuitive just like it would have been way back in the day before we had computer programs and Fitbits, and all sorts of crap.
Our ancestors, you want to talk about our ancestors living, literally had to listen to their bodies. I think that’s the next wave. I’ve been intuitive, but still though I’ve always talked about intuitive nutrition, intuitive health, and all that stuff. Presuming that you don’t have psychic abilities, then how do you get in touch with that?
I think as you become healthier, it’s easier to hear what’s going on. It’s really hard to hear when you’re overweight, or in pain, or in a place of resistance, literally and metaphorically.
Gary: Yeah. That’s a good point. With that being said, what would for you…You mean we’ve all done this for our start on our journey. If you were to give advice to someone just starting in this, just trying to get going, to understand Primal and Paleo, what advice would you give them in the very beginning to get started?
Erin: I would definitely give them a bunch of resources that I think are sound. Like you said, there is so much out there. Your book is a great, good starting place. It’s a great guideline for people. It’s not overwhelming. I like scientific information, but not everybody does, and even I get overwhelmed.
There’s some great blogs, obviously yours is included, a bunch of really good ones with I think sound advice. I would tell them to make sure that you’re getting the right information. If you have somebody who is actually an expert, who you can talk to. Whether that’s a doctor, like the doctor I worked with or whether it’s someone like you, or another blogger, or even somebody like myself that has gone through that journey, and who understands that “My way is not the only way.”
If you can have that sort of support system, and someone who you can ask for advice, and who’s speaking to you from a place of true experience and knowledge, then I would say to seek that out.
Then also you’ve got to find what works for you. Like we said, “Not every piece of advice is right.” You really have to be open to experimentation, and you really can’t be right yourself. If something doesn’t feel good, stop!
Gary: Yeah. That’s a good piece of advice.
Erin: Like just actually today, right before I came on here, I was listening to Dr. Rosedale who makes some great points, and has some very sound advice about protein. I was so excited about this podcast that he was on, that I came home and I went to his website. I don’t agree with everything that he says. Does that mean that everything he says is wrong? No. It just means that for my body, not everything he says works. For instance, he says, “When you’re hungry, eat. Eat all the time. Six meals a day is better than three.” I was like, “No, no, no, no.” I’ve tried six snacks a day my whole life, and it never freaking worked.
As my Dr. Keith says, “What’s the use in eating, so that you’re not hungry?” That doesn’t make any sense. It’s like, “I’ll snack, so I won’t be hungry.” What are you doing? You’re telling your body to turn on and start manufacturing carbs. For instance, that point that he made, I was like, “I fully disagree with this.” It doesn’t mean that everything he says is wrong. It just means that I’ve tried eating six meals a day, and I hate it. It doesn’t work for me, but three meals does. Intermittent fasting now does. So it just depends. Just listen to your body.
Gary: That’s a good example in context. We believe in six meals a day in the beginning. I don’t say six, I say four, five or six, depending on who you are in the beginning. You don’t want to eat that way the rest of your life. It doesn’t work. I’ve been there too. I ate six meals a day for god, I don’t even remember how many years. It was probably 15 years. It didn’t work. It flat out didn’t work. If it does work if I’m working with people who are into body building or offensive lineman, Yeah, then I have to. We’re trying to make them big and strong. They know though, I always explain to them, “You’re not going to eat this way for the rest of your life. This is to achieve a goal in athletics. This is not a life choice.” There’s a big difference.
Erin: Right. In their off seasons, they’re eating differently. Maybe I misread what Dr. Rosedale said. Maybe he meant as you are in this transition period, you can have a snack or two. That I understand. I used to need to do that too. The more fat adapted you become, as you say in your writings also, the less you need to eat. I always pay attention. I find it very interesting, because some days I’ll still find myself hungry. Yesterday, I was ravenous. I was like, “Where’s my red meat? Why do I want to eat all day?” I was really hungry. I thought about it, I’m like, “I didn’t sleep well last night at all. I know where my hormones are, so there’s that. Maybe there was something that I ate. I ate a lot of fructose last night from berries and stuff, and just sugar, late.”
Who knows? Maybe I threw the whole thing off, and then it wonders in the night. I ate a bunch of nuts as a snack, and that was it. I ate a tortilla. The point is, it’s not always going to be perfect. Some days I don’t eat from the time I wake up until 2:00, and I’m fine.
Gary: That’s what I tell people. “There’s no magic formula for this. There’s no way I can give you a perfect eating cycle, and tell you how to do it. I can give you a baseline. From the baseline, you’ve got to figure it out.” I can go 24, 36 hours without eating, and it’s not a big deal. I don’t do it all the time. There’s some days when I eat literally all day long. I feel like I’m starving. It’s probably because my body is saying, “You’ve broken something down, or you’re trying to rebuild,” or like you said, I ate something wrong that threw my hormones off or threw off insulin somehow, and all of a sudden adrenaline kicks up, and I’m hungry. I need to eat. I need to eat. I need to eat,” but I don’t know. Will that kill me for one day? No. As long as you don’t do that every single day, you’re fine. If you have that day here and there and it happens, that’s perfectly normal.
It’s real exciting what you’re doing too on CBSSports.com. You have this podcast that I’ve been listening to and I’m real excited about. Obviously, it’s mainstream. It’s entitled “Live Like an Athlete.” You bring some of the Paleo, Primal elements into it, and some of the people who have written books and are kind of into it.
Can you explain what your podcast is about, and how it came to be?
Erin: Sure. It’s something that I always wanted to do in television format, No one would let me do it, because I didn’t have the clout or the credibility yet, or the production company, or the money. I fully believe that it will eventually be a show, whether I do it or somebody else does it. It’s inevitable. It’s intales, sports and wellness. I mean, come on! To me that’s the most fascinating part of the whole thing. I obviously love the human body, and all that sort stuff is interesting. Not everyone finds it interesting. The whole point was “Look. People like athletes, because they want to be like them.” It’s that commercial, “Be like Mike” from the ’90’s. People buy his shoes, because they think they’re going to play basketball like Michael Jordan. You know you’re not, but some level of you wants to be like Mike.or substitute “X,” your favorite athlete.
With that in mind, I thought, “Well, wait a second. I’m in a position to access not only these athletes, but their trainers, their doctors, their physical therapists, their chiropractors, their psychologists, their mediation gurus, their yoga teachers, whoever is helping them actually live the lifestyle of an athlete.” Now, I cannot afford a chef like Dwayne Wade has living in his home.
Gary: Yeah. Me neither. [laughs[
Erin: Right. Most people cannot yet. You don’t need that. The point is you want to find out, what are the driving factors? How can we take that information and re‑appropriate it for the average person. Let’s face it, you don’t need to eat the exact the same way that Dwayne Wade is eating, but it would be cool to see principles he follows. It was the whole concept of lifestyle. How does an athlete live, eat, breathe, sleep, go on vacation? What kind of tools do they use? What kind of gadgets do they use? I figured there were endless possibilities. It’s been pretty cool so far.
The reason that there has been Paleo discussion is because honestly just by default, and I’m not seeking out only the primal community, this is what people are using. These are the principles, that right now from what we understand in Science at this time, works. Might it change in 10 years? Maybe, but right now this is what works. This is what we know works. It’s popular, because it does work, more people are implementing it. Which means that more people, who I am going to speak to are going to talk about it naturally.
I had a trainer on the first time, my friend, Matt O’Hearn, a Strengthening Commissioning Coach. He works with [inaudible 0:46:41], a brilliant, brilliant kid. It wasn’t even a nutrition discussion, but he follows the primal diet more or less. When he coaches his NFL guys in [inaudible 0:46:54] season, and the way he’s feeding them throughout their workouts, and the advice he’s giving them is consistent with the paleo, primal principles, as well as the paleo, primal principles of movement and of exercise. It all goes together.
I think that as the podcast continues, we’ll have just have more and more of this kind of stuff, because the creme rises to the top, so to speak, right?
Gary: Yeah, and it will evolve like anything. Even though it’s very popular, especially the term “Paleo.” Primal is a little different, because it’s a tweak. Most people don’t have a clue the difference between primal and paleo. Primal is more is a lifestyle, and has some tweaks in the diet. Paleo is basically focused on diet.
Erin: Right. I use them interchangeably, because it’s a top culture term sort of, so people understand the jest of what we’re getting at. But, yes, you’re right.
Gary: It is fairly new. It’s catching on. It’s going to take time, just like Atkins. Atkins had been around quite awhile before it got more popular, and more popular. He put thousands of patients through it, before it kicked in. He had his book, and everything else. Today, it’s amazing, because it still lives. I mean, he’s passed away some years ago. I can’t even remember when he passed. It’s still around. It’s still very popular. The company is still very popular. We’re not saying, “Go Atkins.”
But it takes awhile. I think the Paleo, Primal movement, it’s still got legs under it. It’s got to kind of find its way, and I totally agree, I think there will be some mainstream TV show based on this lifestyle, not the Dr. Oz circus show. He has some good stuff, but he does some stuff that…
Erin: I like Dr. Oz, actually.
Gary: There’s some stuff that he throws in there, that actually contradicts all the good stuff. That was my thing with him is he makes things very confusing, because he’s got to fill a show. He’s on TV. You’ve got to keep going. If you were to do Primal or Paleo, it would take three weeks and your show would be over, and that would be it.
Erin: He doesn’t have whatever, I don’t know what you’d say. He doesn’t have the luxury of time. He could do whatever he wants, but you have to keep your sponsors happy, which is another issue.
Gary: Absolutely, yeah.
Erin: With what he has, I actually think he does a fairly good job. Listen, he’s the only one doing it. Think what you want of him, but I don’t know any other mainstream television person, who railed against the dental industry for poisoning us with mercury. Then he got backlash big time. I said, “Good for you for sticking your ground, Dr. Oz, and saying exactly what you thought versus what your network may have wanted you to say, because they knew that there were sponsors to be had.” Because who knows? The toothpaste manufacturer would be pissed off when you talk about fluoride.
Gary: The Dental Association.
Erin: What’s that?
Gary: I said the American Dental Association. I mean, yeah. It gets real tricky. You’re talking to a guy, who is right in the middle of all this, especially with all the companies involved, and dealing with FDA and everything. It’s a slippery slope. It’s real tricky. To get out there and stick your neck out, it’s tough. It is really tough.
I would love to do a show like that someday, but I’m like you, no. I don’t have the clout. You’ve got way more clout than me, obviously, in the business. I’m just a guy trying to help people and get out there, but I would love to… I’m trying. I’m trying my best to get it out there more and more. That’s why I was so excited about what you are doing. You’re introducing it into a place where it hasn’t been introduced before, which is real exciting to me.
Erin: Yeah. It’s a different audience for sure. I think people are really interested. They’re genuinely interested. For as much as people are in this insular world and a particular movement, they kind of tend to, in any movement, shun the outside, “Oh, these people don’t understand.”
Yeah, they don’t understand. It’s not because they’re all stupid or resistant. It’s because some people just don’t know any better. You can’t fault them for that. Instead of being mean or being an elitist, why don’t you share the information, so people have the free will to do what they want with it? That’s my…
Gary: I totally agree. Actually, I’ve been called an “Elitist” a few times. I was like, “What? Do you ever see how much free information I give away, and the way I explain things?” It’s a little ironic how that came back at me a few times from people who are elitists, who are claiming that I was. Interesting, I think you know one of them.
But with that…
Gary: I don’t know. Maybe it came up recently, but I’d really to follow the progress and I’d love to have you back and talk about the journey and talk about your podcast because I’m really looking forward to watching it evolve. I’m subscribed.
Erin: You subscribed…
Gary: Tell them where to go, to be able to subscribe to your podcast and, also, your shows that you have on CBS Sports TV, in general.
Erin: If you just go to CBSSports.com, everything is there. I’ll probably pop up in one video or another at some point.
Then, for the podcast on iTunes, if you just go to iTunes the name of the podcast is “Live Like an Athlete.” If you type in Live Like an Athlete the little “CBS Sports” Live Like an Athlete icon will come up and you can just subscribe. Right now there’s no copycat. It’s the only one called Live Like an Athlete, so that’s what will come up if you type that in. It’s funny because I got some Android users Tweeting back at me, like, “Hey, is there any non‑iTunes thing? What is this iTunes?” I’m like, “You can still use iTunes, even Androids. Can’t you, like, download some app?” I don’t know. But it turns out there’s another app, called “Stitcher,” which my podcast is also on. That is for Android, so Android users fear not. [laughs]
Gary: Fear not. It’s there, everywhere. And they can go to the website. That’s where I listened to it. I went to the website and I listened to it there.
Erin: Yeah, or that, too. And then I always write a little blog post with each thing. Actually, tomorrow I’m taping the next episode, which will be up probably Thursday or Friday. It’s interesting because I went literally from doing a primal/paleo episode with Cate Shanahan talking about ancestral eating, and then we’re going to go into…my guest will be celebrity trainer Robert brace, who’s fantastic, and this comedian Mark Malkoff who used to write for the “Colbert Report.”
Erin: He’s the comedian that lived IKEA for a week. I don’t know if you remember this?
Gary: Yeah, yeah.
Erin: A couple of years ago. It won an “AD Age” award or something.
Gary: Yeah, that was crazy.
Erin: Literally lived in IKEA and then filmed it. What else did he do? He did this other really funny thing where he brought a goat into the Apple Store to prove that you can do anything in the Apple Store and they don’t care. Like he ordered a pizza there. He brought a goat in, which, I was like, “What is going on?” He does all sorts of crazy stuff. He went vegan for 28 days and Robert Brace trained him.
Gary: Yep, I watched that.
Erin: He actually got ripped. I was like, “Well, you know, it’s only fair that if we have a primal show that, the next one, we have a vegan show,” because I’m not ashamed. I was vegan for six months, or tried to be. I didn’t work for me but, like I said, I learned a lot from it. We’ll have to see. I know Mark is no longer a vegan. [laughs]
Gary: No, I watched that. It’s funny that you say that because before we ever met or talked I had watched that.
Gary: I had watched it on YouTube, yeah. It was good. It was actually pretty entertaining. It’s not very long.
Erin: It’s cute. It’s funny.
Gary: Yeah, it’s not very long.
Erin: No, but his transformation is crazy. Although, to be fair, he’s like a skinny, little guy so even though he was… He was skinny‑fat. He just didn’t have any tone. I’m like, “Well, Robert’s a really good trainer. I’m sure he could have whipped your butt into shape whether you ate meat or not for 28 days.” [laughs] And being a vegan will take a toll on you after 28 days. Not within 28 days.
Gary: Yeah, and that’s, again, what people don’t know. That’s where experience kicks in again. I’m not against veganism as a certain tool but long‑term everyone knows I’m not a fan of vegetarianism or veganism for a long‑term lifestyle. It’s got too many pitfalls. I’m also not one to say never. If you do it right, which is very, very difficult and time‑consuming, yeah. But most people, 99.9 percent of the people out here who do it screw it all up, and that’s a problem as well.
Erin: Right. I did find something very interesting in Gary Townes’ book. I think it’s him. He cites some example of how the cancer rates in poor Indian villages…or actually all of India. I could be completely misquoting this. Where there were vegetarians the cancer rates were astronomical, as opposed to some very poor areas in other parts of the world where they eat mainly a high fat, moderate protein, low‑carb diet. Where it was almost all from fat their cancer rates were nonexistent. I think there were sort of commensurate living conditions, I was like, “Really? That’s interesting,” you know? Just a bunch of interesting stuff.
Gary: That’s because cancer cells feed off sugar but they cannot feed off fat. That’s why a high fat diet, they’ve started doing studies on it showing how it reduces cancer. One day I’ll share a good story of an oncologist I investigated and some of the things he said about our modern cancer fighting techniques. It was eye opening. It was one of the things that made me leave the FDA.
Gary: It was a little life altering experience so maybe we’ll talk about that some time.
Erin: I don’t know if you want to get me going down that rabbit hole.
Gary: I know, we could go forever on forever on numerous, numerous topics. We’ll cover a lot of stuff. Yeah, like I said I’d like to get you back and we can continue the journey together. I really enjoy it.
Erin: Thank you so much for having me on.
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