This week we have the pleasure of hearing from Dr Jennifer Landa. In her own words:
“Dr. Jennifer Landa specializes in helping women and men balance their hormones, restore their energy, and replenish their sex lives. At the heart of her practice is the belief that maintaining one’s health is hard work and she encourages her patients to make lifestyle changes that will result in increased health.
Dr. Landa’s focused, energetic, and straightforward style comes across well when she speaks in front of groups and on camera. She lectures nationally on preventive medicine and has appeared on national and local television. Dr. Landa just completed her first book with co-author Virginia Hopkins. Their book, The Sex Drive Solution for Women, is a no-nonsense approach to many of the sex drive issues that Dr. Landa addresses with her patients every day.
After a decade working as a traditional Ob/Gyn, Dr. Landa realized she wanted more for her patients and her patients needed more from her. She spent two years becoming certified in Preventive and Regenerative Medicine, with an emphasis on bioidentical hormones and nutrition. Her winning combination of western medicine and alternative therapies has revolutionized the way she practices medicine. Dr. Landa’s mission is to teach her patients how to reach their personal best in optimal health and beauty using the most natural and advanced therapies available.
Dr. Jennifer Landa is Chief Medical Officer of BodyLogicMD and the owner and operator of BodyLogicMD of Orlando. Serving the greater Orlando, Florida-area, Dr. Jennifer Landa has achieved Board Certification in Obstetrics and Gynecology and in the specialty of Anti-Aging Medicine and Regenerative Medicine and is an active member of the Fellowship for Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine. As Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Landa is the voice of BodyLogicMD and is also responsible for the training and education standards of all BodyLogicMD physicians.
Practicing MD, author, blogger and triathelete, Dr. Landa also serves as volunteer faculty at UCF Medical College and performs volunteer gynecologic care at a local women’s clinic. She earned her medical degree from Albany Medical College of Union University in Albany, NY in 1996, and completed her internship and residency at Beth Israel Medical Center in NYC, where she was distinguished as the Administrative Chief Resident in OB/GYN.”
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Jonathon: Hey everybody, Jonathon Bailor back with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim show. Today is definitely going to be an exciting show because we are going to cover a topic which keeps coming up and is such a struggle for so many of our listeners. If it’s not a struggle for you personally, you undoubtedly know someone who it is a struggle for.
As we get more experience on this earth, it seems like it gets harder and harder and harder to keep excess fat off our body. It seems like we’re trying everything we can, but especially for the females out there when they approach the time in their life of pre-menopause and menopause and post-menopause, it just seems like sometimes you hit a wall and there’s almost — it seems like — nothing you can do.
That’s why I am so thrilled to bring today’s guest on the show, whom you’ve seen on Dr. Oz, Fox News, Oprah.com, Elle, Women’s Health, Shape Magazine. She is a hormone expert MD. She has an Amazon best seller — The Sex Drive Solution for Women. She is just an overall hormone expert who — I can’t think of too many other people better qualified to help us overcome this hormonal hurdle than today’s guest, Dr. Jen Landa. Dr. Jen, welcome to the show.
Dr. Jen: Thanks so much for having me, Jonathon. I’m so excited to be here to talk to you about this problem because, like you said, it affects so many of us.
Jonathon: And it’s such a diabolical problem. In a world where calories are king and it’s all we hear about, and it’s just eat less and exercise more, Dr. Jen, I can’t tell you often I have people come to me literally on the verge of crying, saying, “Jonathon, I swear — I swear — I am eating 1,200 to 1,400 calories per day. I exercise for an hour-plus a day, and I continue to gain weight, feel worse, sleep poorly and have no sex drive. What’s wrong with me?” I want to hug them and say, “Nothing is wrong with you. You’ve been given bad information.”
Dr. Jen: Oh yeah. You know what? I’ll do you one better. I had a patient just today in my office who told me — well, she had a tragedy happen in her life. Hopefully, we can get a little bit into the hormones behind this. She lost her husband, and she gained 60 pounds in six months. It’s ten years later, and she tells me that all she eats is a low-cal, low-fat yogurt, pretty much one or two of those a day. She doesn’t eat almost anything else because she’s trying to keep her calories down. She’s trying desperately to lose that weight that she’s never been able to lose. So the problem is just everywhere and affecting so many.
Jonathon: Dr. Jen, how is that even possible, because I have seen that firsthand. My mother, for example, she is by no means obese. At the same time, she definitely doesn’t look the same as she did when she was 25. However, she eats so little. She’s just not hungry. She doesn’t eat. But it can’t be about the calories, it seems, because she’s already so low on the spectrum. What else could be going on?
Dr. Jen: You know, it’s definitely not just about the calories. I think that’s what we’re both getting at, Jonathon. As my good friend JJ Virgin says — she says, “Your body is not a bank account. It’s a chemistry lab.” So many more things are going into it than your calorie count.
For the specific patient I talked about, for your mom, and for so many people listening, I know that you have the same problem. You are disciplined. You are trying to do the right thing. No matter what you do, you feel like you’re banging your head against the wall. It’s not working, and you need an answer that works.
There are lots of answers, really, but one of the biggest answers and how it’s possible with these people we’ve been talking about — anybody who’s listening out there, I’d bet you one of your biggest problems is problems with your hormones. Hormone imbalance is one of the biggest reasons why people can’t take weight off.
Jonathon: Why is that? This is the Smarter Science of Slim show, so we can geek out. Don’t be shy. What is actually going on here biochemically that is causing this fat loss impasse?
Dr. Jen: Yeah. So Jonathon, it’s really important to — I love to geek out on the science. I’m glad that your listeners like it too, because I think that’s what’s so crucial.
I shocked this woman today by telling her she actually definitely had to eat more, and I wanted her to eat at particular times of the day, which we can talk about. But the bottom line of what’s going on — her cortisol system, her stress system is what got in her way basically. She went through this terrible stressor of her husband passing away, and she said that’s when she put on 60 pounds in six months. It sounds unbelievable, but that’s what can happen when our stress system gets activated in a way that’s abnormal for us, really.
When we think about that stress system or the fight or flight system, that’s what our adrenal glands are responsible for. They’re small glands, they sit on top of our kidneys and they put out hormones like cortisol and adrenalin to help us run from trouble in a stress kind of situation. For instance, the classic example is getting chased by a saber-toothed tiger. Your cortisol goes way up. Your adrenalin goes way up. We all know it gives you super-human strength. We’ve all heard those stories about a mom lifting a car off a baby or something like that.
In the short run, that cortisol — that fight or flight — is a really good thing to have because it helps us out in a lot of ways, like let’s say we’re involved in a car accident, God forbid. It gives us that super-human strength we talked about, and we might need that. It also causes a lot of other changes in our body, like it raises our blood pressure to make sure that if, God forbid, we were bleeding, we would get the blood pressure to the vital organs. It does a whole bunch of other things in the immune system, and you could go on and on. Lots of changes in the body, and raising the blood sugar is one of them, and that’s one of the things that gives you that big strength.
The problem is, I kind of jokingly say that most of us live at 75 percent, 80 percent car accident all day long, every day. So our bodies are constantly being flooded by this cortisol hormone, constantly, day after day after day. While it’s great in the short term — if you go back to the saber-toothed tiger example, it was always over very quickly. Either you got eaten or you got away, and then you went back to your kind of normal, not-so-stressed fight or flight life.
That’s what we’re lacking these days. We’re lacking that rest, and that’s what my patient that I was talking about today, Nancy, that’s what Nancy was lacking. She didn’t have that rest. She was a caretaker of a sick husband, and then her husband passed away on her and it was the most traumatic thing she’d ever been through. That cortisol was just pumping, pumping, pumping, and one of the newest things for your science geeks out there to know about is what they call cortisol resistance.
That cortisol hormone, when we put out so much of it, the body starts to become a little bit resistant to it, meaning the cortisol doesn’t necessarily cause the same — the on-and-off switch gets broken. We don’t have the feedback mechanisms that cause our cortisol to get slowed down, and we might just keep pumping it out and pumping it out. The body thinks we need lots more than we do.
Jonathon: Dr. Jen, I so appreciate you bringing up that cortisol resistance because it seems like every month that goes by, we’re confirming these hormonal resistant states. There’s insulin resistance, there’s leptin resistance. We’re talking about cortisol resistance.
For the listeners out there, you can understand quickly — tell me if this is a fair characterization, Dr. Jen — your body, whether it’s insulin or leptin or cortisol, it’s going to keep pumping that stuff out to the best of its ability until it gets the job done. But if it has to put out — like in the case of leptin, I’ve read studies where morbidly obese individuals will be pumping out 25 times the levels of leptin of someone who isn’t metabolically dysregulated and still not getting the effects. The question then is — you think about it like a medication — if you’re taking 25 times the penicillin someone else is taking, there are going to be some crazy side effects because the dosage of the substance is now too high. But your body is in this dysregulated state, so you have this abundance of a hormone to achieve this one goal, but it may be causing all of these other side effects throughout your body. Is that somewhat on the right track?
Dr. Jen: Yes, I think that is a good characterization. I really do. We have to think about the fact that there might be a different amount of resistance in one tissue versus another tissue. Some of your tissues might be sensitive to the cortisol, and so that super-high dose like you just talked about is having a super-high effect. One of the big things with insulin and with cortisol is it causes us to put on fat and to keep fat.
Jonathon: Interesting. That is fascinating because I know that the issue with insulin resistance — like you mentioned, the tissues that actually need the insulin, they become resistant, but fat tissue never becomes insulin resistant. It’s just like, I’m going to dump calories here. I’m going to dump calories here. Is something similar happening with cortisol? When we have this abundance and constant surplus of cortisol, our body, in essence, preferentially shunts energy into our fat cells?
Dr. Jen: It does. That is along the lines of what’s happening. Not only that, it raises our blood pressure, it raises our blood sugar, and when we have chronically raised high blood sugar, that’s going to cause the insulin cascade to keep going like we just talked about. Insulin causes us to store fat. So we have these cycles that keep going and keep going and cause this problem.
We don’t have to all be in the same dire straits as my patient Nancy was — to have lost a spouse. We experience this stuff — this high-stress level — on a daily basis. Most of the people I talk to, they’re stressed out all the time. They tell me there’s nothing they can really do to change it. You’re working harder nowadays to make the same dollars that you were. You’re doing it under more stressful conditions because, usually, people have gotten eliminated from your department or what have you, so you’re doing more work for maybe less money. How can you not be stressed out under those conditions these days?
Jonathon: Dr. Jen, if I go too off the ranch here, you can totally reel me in, don’t worry, but what’s going on with — we’re all stressed. There are people who, let’s just say, like the top 10 percent of people who are stressed. There are stressed people who are thin, and then there are stressed people who are not thin. What’s going on with the stressed people who are thin? Is it possible for stress — because I’ve also heard about people who have horrendous life events who lose a dramatic amount of weight. How could those seemingly opposite reactions happen in Homo sapiens?
Dr. Jen: You know, Jonathon, it’s a really great question. I don’t think those questions have necessarily been answered yet. I think what really the answer lies in — I don’t know if you’ve talked a lot about this before with your audience — but snips, or single-nucleotide polymorphisms, they are small changes in our genes. So it’s not a change in an entire gene, but it’s just a small change in a single nucleotide. Do you know what I’m talking about?
Jonathon: Just the fact that you said nucleotide twice in the past 30 seconds just makes me happy, so keep going.
Dr. Jen: Okay. Snips — SNPs, or single-nucleotide polymorphisms, are just a change in one base pair of DNA. We know base pairs of DNA — it’s the CGAT, right? Let’s say that for basically every trait you want to think of, starting with just basic things like straight versus curly hair, might have a certain nucleotide pattern that goes with it, like let’s say it’s an AG pattern. But let’s say 80 percent of the genetic — of the gene pool of all the people are type AG. But then type AA makes them have a different trait.
For example, in diabetes or really in any disease state, there are multiple things that contribute to that disease state, including the way, a lot of times, enzymes work. Enzymes are little chemicals that help us to make certain proteins, and they help make certain reactions happen in our body. Let’s say if you have an AG genotype, your reaction is going to happen very efficiently and well. If you have an AA genotype — let’s say you’re in the minority of the population — but then your enzyme reaction isn’t working as well.
These are like tiny little changes that we’re just starting to be able to look at scientifically and now just starting to be able to apply clinically to people in our practices. When we start to look at these different things, we realize, oh my gosh, it’s so much more complicated than we ever thought, and it’s fascinating at the same time.
These changes that I’m talking about cause people to — let’s say, why does one person have a side effect to 10 mgs of Lipitor whereas somebody else doesn’t? Why is somebody going to have a problem with their liver with a certain dose of medication and somebody else won’t? You can go on and on. Why do some people lose their sex drive when they take a Zoloft pill, but some people don’t? It all boils down to changes in these snips, these single-nucleotide polymorphisms.
It’s just amazing what we’re just starting to be able to predict scientifically with these snips. There are amazing companies like this company, 23andMe, out of California, which is now looking at a panel of about 250 snips for just 99 bucks. I’m so excited. I just sent in my — my whole family, I just submitted their spit to 23andMe so I can get to know everybody’s snips.
Jonathon: Dr. Jen, I love hearing experts such as yourself geek out like this, because if nothing else — if the listeners didn’t understand all the science — what they can understand and appreciate is any time they hear anyone say, “Just eat less and exercise more. It’s that simple. You’re just not trying hard enough.” They get ammunition now to not feel like they’re the problem, but rather that that kindergarten logic is the problem.
Dr. Jen: Oh yeah. I mean, it’s totally — it’s so much more in our genes than we ever realized before. But the thing is, whether you understood everything I just said or not, the answer is, in really simple terms, yes, there are answers in our DNA and in our genes. But the really even more fascinating stuff about this is that you can change your DNA, or you can change the way your DNA acts. Your DNA is not your destiny, and that’s what’s really important to know.
That’s why it’s pretty cool to know what your genetic predispositions are. Certainly, my whole long answer that I just gave you is the reason that I think different people will react differently. Like you said, some people will lose weight with high cortisol situations and some people will gain weight with high cortisol situations, and why is that? I think it might boil down to these changes in these snips.
What’s really, really fascinating science that’s come out in the last couple of years is that we can affect the outcome of these things, sometimes very, very simply by just giving the right nutrients sometimes, the right nutrients at the right time. Like, even just multivitamins sometimes can really make all the difference.
Jonathon: In terms of this genetic field you’re talking about, is this the epigenetics or genetic expression that we sometimes hear in more popular media?
Dr. Jen: Yes, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. I’m talking about epigenetics. The classic example is these mice. They’re called Agouti mice. Agouti mice are bred to be diabetic. They’re fat, fluffy, white, diabetic mice who die young of cancer. They did these fascinating experiments with these Agouti mice, and what they did was they gave them just some B vitamins. Very simply, they gave them some folic acid, some B6, some B12 and believe it or not, these fat, fluffy diabetic mice gave birth to skinny brown mice who didn’t have an increased risk of diabetes and didn’t die young of cancer. That change lasted for several generations of mice afterwards. Eventually, when they stopped feeding the mice the supplements, the mice bred and bred and finally went back to being fat, white, fluffy, diabetic mice. But for those several generations after they fed the supplements — the nutrients — the mice totally changed.
So that’s the really good news, that as we continue unlocking the keys to all of this, you can make changes.
Jonathon: Dr. Jen, it’s so profound to hear that these things like the types of nutrients we’re consuming, the types of food, the quality of food we’re eating can have these ripple effects. If we stop this investigation at purely a quantity game — if it’s just purely about calories — we won’t even look to this arena. We’ll just say, “Science has already answered it. It’s just that you’re lazy or stupid or both,” and then we won’t continue to investigate.
That’s why it makes me so excited to hear that the actual experts, people that actually study genetic expression, and hormones, and neurobiology and gastroenterology, which are the areas that really dictate long-term weight maintenance…I mean, if you’re a heart surgeon, that’s fabulous. I would go to you if I needed heart surgery, but being a heart surgeon doesn’t mean you’re an expert in genetic expression. There’s so much to know out there, right?
Dr. Jen: Definitely. There’s a ton to know. I’ve gotten pretty geeked out and pretty lofty, but what I really want to do is tell you what I needed to tell Nancy today. I want to tell your listeners how they can really affect a lot of this genetic expression and a lot of this sugar maintenance and cortisol maintenance.
One of the things that people don’t realize is when they try not to eat, they’re actually not doing themselves a favor in any way, shape or form. What they’re doing is they’re stressing their body. When you don’t eat, you wind up with low blood sugar. Low blood sugar is just like hitting that panic button, that fight or flight button. What a lot of people don’t realize is yes, I’m stressed by my job. I’m stressed by my relationship or whatever they’re stressed by — their emotional stressors — but people have to realize there are also physical stressors.
One of the biggest physical stressors that we do have control over absolutely is the food that we eat and when we eat it. That makes a huge difference to your stress system, and you can help bring down your cortisol and your insulin and improve your sensitivity to those hormones if you do some pretty simple stuff.
Jonathon: Give us an idea. Dr. Jen, I want to just, again, thank you for getting into the science there, because there are a lot of people who can give tips and tricks but knowing that it’s coming from someone who can just say the things that you just said will really help those tips and tricks to carry a lot more weight. I absolutely appreciate that, and let’s get into what to eat and when to eat so that we can affect these levels.
Dr. Jen: Okay, absolutely. I think you’re absolutely right, because some of the things I’m going to say are things that people have heard already but maybe haven’t been convinced to do because they don’t realize what a big difference they make.
I will tell you what I think is the most important thing to help you lose weight and help you have great energy throughout the day. The most important thing that you can do is to eat within an hour of waking up. I know people have heard that before and they’ve blown off that advice many times. But the reason why is because when you sleep all night long — hopefully, you didn’t eat over the course of the night — so you’ve been really fasting essentially. When you wake up, you should absolutely be hungry.
If you’re not hungry, that means your body is — what you called it before — metabolic dysregulation. Your body is dysregulated. Your signals aren’t proper. One of the things you can do to help reset the signals is to eat within an hour of getting up.
Jonathon: Dr. Jen, I know some of the listeners, if maybe they were driving and they were just kind of like — listened passively — they just tuned in, because there has been a lot of talk around the Internet about this new approach to life called intermittent fasting.
Dr. Jen: Right.
Jonathon: Not only prohibits eating in the morning but would prohibit eating for like six-plus hours after one wakes up. What are your thoughts on that?
Dr. Jen: Okay. I think that it’s going to really depend on the health of somebody’s adrenals whether they’re able to do that or not. Most people that are under the levels of stress that most of us are under, I think that actually just adds to their physical stress and causes their body to hit the panic button, causes cortisol demand to go up and it causes — what that causes is very interesting. Your cortisol goes up, and so what does your body do? Your body says oh my goodness, we need sugar right now.
So number one, it increases your sugar cravings. Then number two, if you go ahead and you feed that craving and you eat something with sugar in it to raise your blood sugar fast, your blood sugar is going to go way up and then your insulin is going to come along to help take care of that sugar, and your insulin is going to go way up. Then if the sugar starts to fall and the insulin is still high, that drives your blood sugar down low. So that’s where you get these people who have these swings. Their blood sugar goes up, their blood sugar goes down, they feel shaky, they feel queasy, they feel sweaty, and they feel hungry again even though they just ate.
Jonathon: Fascinating. So it sounds like, generally speaking, if you’re under a lot of stress, it might be a good idea to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full, which has generally been my guidance to folks.
What else? What else is on the list in terms of timing and quality?
Dr. Jen: The other thing that’s really important though, it’s not just eating within an hour of getting up; it really matters what you eat. That’s super important. The bad news is that most breakfast food stinks. Most of the stuff that we associate with eating breakfast is just junk, crap, bad, and it’s killing our energy and killing our weight.
For me, for example, when I was a resident, an OB/GYN, I had what I thought of as my breakfast of champions. I had a bagel and a Diet Coke. Those were the two worst things that I could possibly be doing for myself, because the bagel is packed with sugar, even though it doesn’t seem like a sugary food. A bagel doesn’t seem that sweet, but what your body does is it very, very quickly takes those carbohydrates, converts them to sugar, and your blood sugar spikes.
Then on top of it — by the way, the caffeine in the Diet Coke or your coffee in the morning is also causing a spike in cortisol. While coffee may be a great antioxidant, it’s not good for people whose cortisol systems are already stressed out. The caffeine increases the cortisol further.
You’re going to do much, much better if you eliminate the caffeine in the morning or at least limit it. I ask people who are in coffee to try to switch to maybe some green tea, which has much less caffeine in it and much higher antioxidant effects, and to make sure that you’re getting not only some carbohydrate, but you want to switch that carbohydrate to what we would call a slower carbohydrate. Something like beans would be a good example of that. Then you want to make sure that you’re getting a good protein and a good healthy fat. Examples of good healthy fats are walnuts, avocados, salmon — things like that — and you want to get a good protein.
For me, Jonathon, I’ll tell you my simple, easy way of doing this in the morning that I find to be pretty delicious is to do a protein shake. It’s fast, it’s easy, and I know that I get all the nutrition that I need because I can put lots of different cool things in my shake.
Jonathon: Dr. Jen, I know our listeners can appreciate a lot of what you’re saying now. It sounds like it’s a substitution of getting a lot of calories from sugar — and starch is essentially sugar by a different name — and getting all of your calories from sugar to simply swapping those to getting your calories more from a nutrient-dense protein or healthy, whole-food fats and, of course, non-starchy vegetables. It’s not about eating less food; it’s just about switching where you’re getting your calories from. Am I understanding correctly?
Dr. Jen: Oh, definitely. Yes, absolutely. Because what happens when you eat a slow carb with a good protein and a good fat is that you get blood sugar control or glycemic regulation. That means that your blood sugar is not going to spike way up, which is going to cause all those reactions we talked about. It’s also not going to crash down.
It’s going to go up slowly and then kind of come down slowly. A gentle slope up and a gentle slope down until the next time that you eat. That’s going to help keep your blood sugar more regulated, which is going to help keep your cortisol more regulated so that your body is not going to be going into this dysregulation that we’ve been talking about. It decreases the physical stress on your body.
Jonathon: Dr. Jen, we’ve been talking a lot about stress and how a lot of these “healthy” activities like eating less can actually be stressors which cause the problem they’re meant to cure. In my research — and I’m curious to see what you think — a lot of the other side of this equation, aka exercise more, when not done intelligently can be a huge source of negative stress. Is that also your experience?
Dr. Jen: Oh, I’m so glad you brought that up, Jonathon. I thought we were getting close to the end of our time, but boy, I could go off on that for a while. Yes, you are so right.
I can use myself as an example here. A couple of years ago, I started getting on that half-marathon craze and doing some triathlons, and I was training for 10, 12 hours a week. I had all these patients who were getting on that bandwagon. They were trying to do the healthy thing. I know you’re out there listening to this saying, “Oh my gosh. I’m doing the same thing. I’m trying to get healthy. I’m doing the Walk for Breast Cancer, and then I worked my way up to a jog. I want to do that triathlon.”
Okay. This is what the science is showing now. These endurance activities are getting the cortisol to stay elevated for a much, much longer time, over time, than if we were to do short bursts of activity. So kind of thinking back yet again to our saber-toothed tiger, right? We tended to only do short bursts of activity in our caveman days, so to speak. Nobody went and ran marathons. As my husband pointed out to me when I talked to him about this one day, he said, “Yeah, and that guy died.” That first guy who tried it, he didn’t do so well.
This is really going against the grain, I know. A lot of people are out there saying, “Oh my gosh. How can you say a marathoner’s not healthy?” It started for me with one of my patients. His name is Tom. He’s a 50-year-old guy and he was one of the top cyclists in my area, and that’s even against guys 20, 30 years younger than him, believe it or not. He would constantly score in races in the top ten. He was an elite, elite cyclist.
One day out of the blue, he just couldn’t recover after a race. His blood pressure went way up to the point where he had to get put on two different blood pressure medications to bring it down. Not only that, he couldn’t regulate his heart rate anymore. He found when he would exercise, his heart rate would go up and it just wouldn’t come down.
That was interesting to me, and I had no idea what the problem was with Tom until I went to a lecture by one of my colleagues, Dr. Jim LaValle. He gave this amazing lecture synthesizing some of the new literature coming out about endurance athletes. That sparked me to really go deeper and to look into this, especially on behalf of my patient Tom.
What I found was amazing. There are tons of studies out there now that are showing that these endurance athletic sports are causing elevations in cortisol, and they’re causing those elevations in cortisol to last for, frequently, two weeks or so beyond the actual event that the participant participated in.
Jonathon: Wow. I can only imagine the long-term consequences because while you don’t run a marathon every day, the training protocol for it must perpetuate that. I mean, you have these compounding, two-week windows just stacking on top of each other.
Dr. Jen: Absolutely. That’s exactly the problem. People are training and they’re running long distances to train, and then they’re running races. If you’re a person who races — I was just talking to one of my patients the other day who said, “Yeah, I don’t race that often. Just about once a month.” I said, “Are you kidding me? Once a month?” Can you imagine? Just the training that it takes to stay at that level and then the aftereffects of the race, their cortisol is never coming down.
It’s scary actually, now, Jonathon, because we really are the first generation of people to be doing this kind of physical endurance exercise, especially into the age groups that we’re doing it. Now, 50 is the new 30 and everybody who’s 50, the bucket list is to run a marathon or a half-marathon. We’ve never done this before. Our physical frames have never been tested this way before.
What we’re starting to see is that those people are actually becoming less healthy, like my patient Tom, who you would have expected to be in the peak of health because he was such an elite athlete at 50 years old. But he was starting to have all these cardiac problems, all these heart problems and vascular problems and problems with his blood pressure, his heart rate and all of these things.
When you tie it all back together, it all starts to make sense that, wow, he was never giving his cortisol system a break. That causes a lot of dysregulation and it’s seeming to even maybe lead to some heart dysfunction in a lot of these athletes.
The good, good news for people is that what’s been shown to do a lot better for people from a cortisol perspective is short-burst activity, so burst training or high-intensity interval training people call it. That’s doing short bursts of activity.
A real simple way to do it, for instance, if you’re like a runner or elliptical person or biker or whatever, you go as hard as you possibly can for a minute and then kind of ease back for two minutes to recover. Then go as hard as you can for a minute again, ease back for two minutes again to recover. Believe it or not, if you do five cycles like that, which will only take you 15 minutes, you’re going to get as much cardiovascular benefit or more than you would have gotten from, I would say, 45 minutes of cardio.
Jonathon: And none of the side effects. Some of this, Dr. Jen, I think people could hear it and on one hand, they could be like, “Oh my God. I’m so sad. It’s just like everything I’m doing is wrong.” That is one way to hear this. I would encourage it not to be the way you hear it and instead to hear it this other way, which is, literally, if you feel like you’ve tried everything, you haven’t.
What we’ve been told to do — you’ve literally tried different versions of eat less, exercise more. You’ve tried different versions of wake up early — causes your cortisol to up. Go for a long jog — causes your cortisol to go up. Then not eat as long as possible — causes your cortisol to go up. You’re literally 0 for 3, and it’s not your fault. That’s what you’ve been told to do. But while it seems sad that we’ve been told the wrong information, isn’t it exciting and hopeful that we don’t have to keep banging our head against that just try harder wall and can instead open the side door to do smarter exercise and smarter eating and see the radical transformation that’s possible on the other side.
Dr. Jen: I definitely think that it’s exciting. That’s why I’m so excited to talk to you and be able to share this information with your audience, because I want them to see that it’s not their fault. It’s not your fault. You’ve been doing all the things that you were told to do. But unfortunately, some of the things that you were told to do aren’t the right things. But the good news is you’re hearing some of the right things now that are based on the science, and that’s what you need.
You need the science on your side, and you need to start making these really pretty simple changes all in all. If you ask me, hey, I changed over to the system that I’m talking about — the high-intensity interval training. Would you believe, as compared to the 10, 12 hours a week I was training before — which was all I could fit in; I felt like I needed to do more — compared to that, what I do now is I do a half-hour of high-intensity interval training four times a week. Jonathon, I am telling you I am in way, way better shape. I can see my abs a lot better than I ever possibly could when I was doing 10 to 12 hours a week, and I’m convinced it was because of my cortisol.
Jonathon: Dr. Jen, it’s just phenomenal because it’s like we have a whole new model now, which, thank God. Certainly, the model we’ve been given for the past 40 years hasn’t worked. The fact that anyone continues to defend it in the face of skyrocketing rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cardiovascular disease, is just baffling to me. I’m always so excited when I see experts — true experts — such as yourself that are out there shining a light on the real science and fighting the good fight. Thank you so much for all that you do.
I know we’ve only scratched the surface of a wealth of knowledge I can just tell you have available for people. Where can folks learn more about you and stay current on all things Dr. Jen Landa?
Dr. Jen: Okay. A great place to find me is my website, DrJenniferLanda.com, but if you’ve liked what we’ve been talking about today, I have a free seminar you can listen to at FitFantasticU.com. Fit, f-i-t, fantastic, you, the letter U.com. If you just log in there, you’ll get a free seminar about how to boost your energy and control your cortisol and lose weight in the process. You’ll get a seminar about that, and I would love people to hear more about that if they loved what we’ve been talking about.
Jonathon: Dr. Jen, just to reiterate there, that’s FitFantastic and then the letter U, not y-o-u.
Dr. Jen: I’m pretty sure both of them go there, but I’m not 100 percent, Jonathon.
Jonathon: No worries. Listeners, check them both out for sure. Dr. Jen, thank you again for bringing the science to the surface here. That’s so important, and I so celebrate and appreciate the work that you’re doing. Listeners, if you haven’t already, do check out Dr. Jen’s work. You can obviously tell that she lives this science as well as being an expert in it, so, double the reason to respect her.
Dr. Jen, thank you so much for joining us today.
Dr. Jen: Thanks so much, Jonathon.
Jonathon: Listeners, I hope you enjoyed this wonderful conversation as much as I did. Our guest today, again, was Dr. Jennifer Landa. Definitely do a quick Google or Bing on her, check her out, show her some love and remember, this week and every week after, eat smarter, exercise smarter, and live better. Chat with you soon.
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