Rip Esselstyn And Ashley James


  • What inspired Rip to go whole food, plant-based
  • How Rip started working with the firefighters
  • Impact of eating whole food, plant-based
  • How to stay on whole food plant-based while traveling


In this episode, Rip Esselstyn tells his origin story on how he became a healthy eating advocate. He shares how he started helping firefighters and other people to eat whole food, plant-based. He talks about his different ventures, including his Plant-Strong Podcast, his Engine 2—soon to be Plant-Strong—food products, and the events they’re hosting to help people get started and stay on the whole food, plant-based diet.


Hello, true health seeker, and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. I know you’re going to love today’s episode. Before we get to it, I got to tell you about a super awesome deal that’s going on right now. As you may know, if you have listened to several episodes, you might have heard me rave about the Sunlighten Sauna company.

It took a long while to research which sauna I wanted to buy. I talked to several Naturopaths that have worked with different companies, interviewed each company, looked at the specs, looked at the wood, the materials they used to build it. Is there any toxic material? Where does it come from? Where is it manufactured? Their track record. The online feedback that I could see that customers had shared, and I finally decided to purchase a Sunlighten Sauna.

This is about three years ago, and I decided to use it because I have been working on detoxing heavy metals, and also supporting my immune system, supporting overall health. I kept learning more and more about the power of using an infrared sauna, especially if it’s a non-toxic, low EMF infrared sauna to support the body’s ability to heal itself. I have been so impressed with Sunlighten. Well, their customer service is great, but their products are fantastic. I’ve been very, very happy with the results that I’ve gotten—the detoxification results. It’s a very gentle detox when we sweat out toxins.

They have a special going on right now with their Solo System. Now, what I like about the Solo System, it’s ultra-low EMF, it’s made of non-toxic material, and you can store it in your closet. It basically becomes the size of a massage table. You can put it in your closet when you’re not using it or under the bed. That’s fantastic for people who don’t have 6×6 space in their house, their condo, or their apartment to dedicate to housing a giant wooden sauna. This isn’t a wooden sauna. This is a Solo System.

They’re having a huge sale right now from now until the 18th, so only the next few days. They’re giving 25% off, and then in addition to that, they’re giving our listeners an additional discount plus free shipping. The link is going to be on the show notes of today’s podcast, so just go to the notes. If you’re using iTunes or wherever you’re listening, go to the notes and you’ll see the link. You can also join the Learn True Health Facebook group because the information is posted there. You want to use the link. The link gives you the 25% off, and then in addition to that, you use this coupon code: TRUEHEALTHSOLO, and that also gives you free shipping and an extra discount on top of it.

I’ve had several doctors on the show of holistic medicine and functional medicine swear by the system, including Dr. Mark Hyman, who lives in a condo. And he says it would be impossible to have a big sauna in his condo, and he loves traveling with the Solo System. I also had Ryan and Teddy Sternagel on the show, and they talked about how they helped their son who had two rounds of cancer.

He had cancer and then it came back. A very young baby. At about a year old, he was diagnosed with cancer. And now, thank God, he is cancer-free. I think he’s about seven years old now, and they used the Solo System. They traveled with it because he had several surgeries at different hospitals throughout the United States. I think he spent months in a hospital at one point, and they would use this system in the hospital with their young son when he was three, four, or five, helping him to get through the cancer treatments.

This is something obviously you’d want to talk to your holistic pediatrician about. But you can use this system with children—responsibly, with adults. It’s a gentle system. It allows you to detox through sweating. If that’s something that interests you, check it out, go to the link, come join the Facebook group and check out the information there, and use the coupon code: TRUEHEALTHSOLO to get the additional discount. This is a quick sale that they’re doing. It is ending on the 18th.

But if you’re interested in getting any kind of sauna, check out Sunlighten. And if you choose to buy Sunlighten, make sure you mention the Learn True Health podcast with Ashley James as they give all my listeners a great discount. I made sure of that when I interviewed the founder, Connie Zack, and you can go back and listen to that interview as well.

Thank you so much for being a listener of the Learn True Health podcast. If you ever want to reach out to me, please, join the Learn True Health Facebook group. We answer holistic health questions there all the time. There’s a lot of questions. People just want to know what you recommend for this, or I’m looking for a good recipe for that, or how you would handle this situation with cleaning products, or dealing with colds and flu. Not only do I help and answer questions, but there are so many other wonderful community members that are in the holistic space that help as well.

You’d really be joining a fantastic community that’s looking to support you in your health success. Just join the Learn True Health Facebook group and definitely check out the Sunlighten Solo System using the coupon code: TRUEHEALTHSOLO, and the link that is provided in the show notes of today’s podcast, or go to the Facebook group. Awesome. Thank you so much for being a listener. Have yourself a fantastic rest of your day and enjoy today’s interview.

Photo by Johnny McClung on Unsplash


[00:05:39] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 448. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have with us Rip Esselstyn. I am such a fan of your work. In fact, you don’t know this but we met a few years ago. Of course, you’ve met thousands of people when you tour around the country giving lectures and talking about your books and your products, but I actually met you with my husband, me, and our son. It was at Whole Foods. Actually, I think our son was napping so my husband’s staying in the car. But I ran in and I absolutely loved it. You signed my book, which I gave to one of my friends who also became plant-based, and I love your recipes. What I love about your recipes is they’re so hearty and they’re so kind of manly. They’re really easy to make for men to show them how delicious eating plants can be.

Actually, since then, my husband went 100% vegan. He woke up one day and he said I’m never eating another animal again, and I was shocked because he only ate meat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And then he woke up one day and said absolutely never again. About five days into eating just plants, he turns to me and he goes, “If I knew this tastes so good, I would have done this years ago.” So there’s a lot to say about this. For those who haven’t tried it yet—haven’t tried a plant-based day or a plant-based week, get Rip Esselstyn’s books and just go to town.

Now, you also have wonderful products that are sold at Whole Foods. I love everything you do, and I can’t wait to hear more from you and have the listeners learn from you today. Welcome to the show.


[00:07:34] Rip Esselstyn: Thank you, Ashley. Actually, I’m surprised. So you ran into the store to get your book signed, but your husband stayed in the car and napped?


[00:07:47] Ashley James: No, no, our son. I was just remembering. Our son was a baby at the time. He’s 5 ½ now. It might have been about five years ago, and it was in Redmond, Washington. I ran in. I had ordered the book on Amazon because I heard you were coming, and I think we were all planning on going in, but then the kid fell asleep in the car. You just don’t wake a baby up. You’re like, okay, he’s taking a nap. I ended up staying for the whole lecture while our son napped in the car, but it was fantastic. I mean, the stories you told and what I learned from you. Of course, I went home and binge-watched every YouTube video I could get my hands on—all the documentaries you’ve been in.

I had recently had your father on the show. I love telling everyone I’m within about 5’of—I’ll tell them, do you know that there’s a cardiologist that reverses heart disease with food? I think it’s amazing what you and your family do. Of course, I’m like this gushing fan over here. Let’s get to you and learn more from you. Rip, what happened in your life? Obviously, your dad and his work, but what happened to you personally that made you want to, not only go plant-based for yourself but help the world become healthier?


[00:09:07] Rip Esselstyn: For me, it’s been a journey. It all started with my father. I mean, it started with my father’s research at the Cleveland Clinic. You just said something that was a little bit off so I’ll correct you just to get it right. My father has never been a cardiologist, and he often is mistaken as one because he’s done such groundbreaking work in the field of halting, preventing, and reversing heart disease. But he’s a general surgeon, and his specialty was the thyroid, the parathyroid, and the breast.


[00:09:47] Ashley James: Fascinating.


[00:09:48] Rip Esselstyn: Yeah. What I find to be so—and I’ll use your word—fascinating, is the fact that you look at Dr. Dean Ornish, you look at Nathan Pritikin back in the ‘70s, you look at my father. None of these people were, per se, in cardiology. It took somebody from outside the field of cardiology to basically shine a light and say, you know what, this is really a food created disease of our own making. If we can just eliminate all of the building blocks that promote heart disease, you know what, we don’t have to go down that path.

My father got there because he wanted to actually try and show in his lifetime that the same thing could be true with breast cancer, and by association prostate cancer, and some of these major cancers. But he knew that he could do it quicker if he tried to do it through heart disease because he’d read some studies where they’d done some research with green monkeys where they were able to actually reverse their heart disease through just the power of a whole food, plant-based diet.

And then we dove into the research, looked at the epidemiological studies, and found swaths of people living on the planet that had 1/100 the incidence of heart disease, 150th the rate of breast cancer and prostate cancer. The common denominator of all these cultures was a predominantly whole food, plant-based diet. And then you look at the work that Dan Buettner has done with the Blue Zones, with Loma Linda; with Ikaria, Greece; with Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Sardinia, Italy where you have the longest living populations on the planet—the most centenarians. The common denominator there of course is a predominantly whole food, plant-based diet.

I went to the University of Texas at Austin on a swimming scholarship. I ate on the athletic training table with the football players, the basketball players, the tennis players, and the golfers. Every meal was chicken, fried steak, cheese, pepperoni pizzas, and bacon and eggs. We had a soft-serve ice cream machine where we could go to town, but none of us knew any better.


[00:12:39] Ashley James: It sounds like a 12-year-old’s birthday party, not an athletics college.


[00:12:44] Rip Esselstyn: No, you’re right. One of the premier universities in the nation, especially when it comes to the athletic program, right? God, how far we’ve come since I was going to school over 35 years ago now. While I was there at school was when my father was really putting his shoulder up to the grindstone to show what was possible when you initially took this population, this cohort of 22 people that he got from the Cleveland Clinic that was referred to him because they were so bad off that they were not candidates for another bypass, stent, angioplasty, or anything like that. He took these 22—what somebody referred to as the walking dead.

Every other week for five years, they came in and they saw him. He went over their food diary. He also weighed them, did their blood pressure, and did a lipid panel, and checked their total cholesterol—LDL, HDL, triglycerides. He went over their food log, and these guys were compliant. They were not messing it up. Again, it just goes to show the power of when you do this and you implement the program correctly, none of these people had any more events. The men that were in wheelchairs were able to get out of the wheelchairs and start walking. The angina, the chest pain basically went away. These people were dancing again. They were golfing. They were walking the malls. They were playing tennis almost like too good to be true like miracles.

So I heard the stories while I was at the University of Texas of my father and working with these walking dead and how they were basically coming back to life in more ways than one. And I was just so inspired by his ability to try and find this truth, to go against the grain, and do something as novel and important as this. Also, something about it just felt right. When I graduated, I was off the training table, and I was able to cook on my own and all that, I immediately started eating this way. That was back in January 1987. For the most part, I haven’t looked back. It’s now been 33 years that I really embrace this.

It’s just now about finessing it and accumulating more information. One thing has led to another, and the dots have continued to connect. I find myself now, 33 years later, being in a place that I never ever anticipated being in where I’m a healthy eating advocate. I have written four different books. As you mentioned—I’m going to use this word and we can talk about—I had a food line in Whole Foods for almost eight years. We put on seven-day medical immersion programs. We’ve been doing that for 10 years. Because of COVID now we’ve started doing these virtual events with thousands of people. I’ve started my own podcast following in your steps, Ashley, about a year and a half, two years ago. It’s called the Plant-Strong Podcast. It’s become pretty all-encompassing.


[00:16:49] Ashley James: I love it. Watching documentaries, seeing your story in them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen The Game Changers. My friend, my husband, and I went to see it in the theaters for that one-day special. And on the way home, I was calling people non-stop. Oh my gosh, you have to see this. You have to do this right now. And I called a friend who is caring for her friend who was a recent quadriplegic with out-of-control diabetes because they were in the hospital and she was taking care of them as an advocate. I said you’ve got to check this out. 

She immediately got the hospital to get him to go plant-based, zero oil. Overnight, his number started to get better. The water retention went away. He actually started gaining muscle. He was fighting bedsores, and he started healing his bedsores so fast they couldn’t believe it. It was a stage four bedsore. They thought he was going to die from it and his healing went through the roof. They could not believe it, and she had to inspect every meal because they kept trying to sneak in things like dairy, oil, and all that. It was just amazing watching people. Their bodies heal so much faster when you remove the foods that are inhibiting the body and you give the body all the nutrients it needs. It’s mind-blowing. Now, can you tell us a bit about your work with firefighters?


[00:18:25] Rip Esselstyn: Yeah, absolutely. Well, this whole thing started because I was a firefighter with the City of Austin. I got on board with the Austin fire department in 1997 after a 10-year career as a professional triathlete where I was swimming, biking, and running for a living fueling myself with the power of a whole food, plant-based diet. It’s funny, for the first five, six years that I was a firefighter in the Austin fire department, I got ridiculed, harassed, and belittled until the cows came home about the way I ate.

Then, we had a bet to see who had the lowest cholesterol level and we drove down to the local laboratory the next morning—me and the other guys on the Station 2 C Shift crew—and we found out that one of my brothers had cholesterol at the age of 33 of 344 milligrams per deciliter, which is phenomenally high. We also found out that he had a horrendous family history of men in his family dying from heart disease before the age of 50. So not only did this firefighting brother of mine have a genetic predisposition for a really elevated cholesterol level, but he also ate—and this is his words not mine—like a third-generation redneck.

The center of the plate was always some sort of meat, typically or favorably deep-fried. When you have a genetic predisposition and you make deep-fried meat at the center of your plate, that’s not a good combination. And then to boot, the firefighting culture is very masculine. It is the food that these firefighters make is very, very toxic. So everything’s deep-fried. Screw half a stick of butter, let’s do one whole stick of butter. Let’s do Crisco on everything. Let’s use a pound of cheese on top of this casserole. For dessert, we’re going to split a tub, and I mean a tub a gallon of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream. And it just goes on and on—Hamburger Helper, Tuna Helper. The food at the firehouse is abysmal.

So the funny thing is you mentioned firefighters. If there’s one culture on this planet that needs us more than anybody else, it’s firefighters. Firefighters, in some ways, they consider themselves superheroes. They are there when we when the sh** hits the fan, and they need saving. They expect a superhero, gold medal decathlete, to come to the rescue. The unfortunate reality is that so many of these firefighters are overweight. They’re pre-diabetic. They’ve had a shot across the bow with cancer. 

It’s funny though how many fire departments across the country—at a really slow and steady rate and firefighters—have been reaching out to me for help. Literally, right before I jumped on this interview with you, I got an email from a firefighter who’s telling me he’s battling PTSD. His weight has ballooned back up to almost 300 pounds. The stress of the job, he’s starting to drink again—just all these things—and would I be willing to talk to him once a week? I’ve got fire departments that have reached out to me and asked me to do videos that they can then circulate out throughout their department. 

Anyway, the fire service is slowly but surely coming around to this message that the plants really are king when it comes to nutrition. But there’s still a lot of dinosaurs in that firefighting culture, no doubt about it. I’ll give you another example. When I wrote my first book, The Engine 2 Diet, I did a pilot study that was comprised of 62 people for the first round, and we did before and after biometric screenings on everything just like my father did with his patients back in 1984, 1985. I weighed them in, we did blood pressure. I had a relationship with a lab and we did a full biometric screening. I had a medical director. We did a three-minute step test where people did this step test and then we measured their before and after heart rate to see how their heart rate was doing. And then we did all this again four weeks later.

But one of the people that took part in this was a guy, a firefighter that I went through the training academy with. His name was Tim, and Tim was probably 220. He was one of the biggest firefighters when we went through the six-month-long academy together in 1997. And then, when I was looking for people that wanted to participate in this pilot study for my book, he happened to call the station for some reason. I said, “Hey, Tim. How are you doing? He said, “I’m doing good. Put on way too much weight.” I said, “Oh, really? Where are you?” He said, “I’m over 300 pounds.” I’m like, “Oh, Tim. Wow. Well, hey. You know what, I’m doing this pilot study. If you’re willing to eat just whole plants for 28 days, I’d love to have you be one of the participants.” He said, “Sure, I’d love to do it. I got nothing to lose.“

Tim lost 33 pounds in 28 days. And surprisingly, his cholesterol was not that high, to begin with. It was 172, and so for a big boy, that’s not very high. But at the end of 28 days, it came down to 88. So he was below 100 on his total cholesterol. His LDL came down below 40, and it was just miraculous what he was able to do. But the reason why I’m telling you this story is that most firefighters, after they graduate from the fire academy, will typically go out into the fire service and they let their guard down. They get pulled into this toxic food environment where they’re eating the same unhealthy food that everybody else is eating. They’re gaining somewhere between three to five pounds, on average, a year.

You look at Tim, again, he was doing this in 2008. We went through the academy together in 1997. So almost 11 years later, he had gone from 220 to 303 pounds. He put on over 83 pounds in 11 years. Tim, he was the first to admit. He had become a liability to himself, a liability to his crew. If he was to go down in a building or in a house fire, nobody’s going to be able to pick him up and drag him out because think about it, he’s 303 pounds. You add on to that his bunker gear, his boots, his helmet, his air pack that he’s got on, and now you can add on another almost 65 pounds. Somebody’s got to try and haul out 375 pounds.


[00:27:09] Ashley James: In a fire?


[00:27:11] Rip Esselstyn: In a fire where you can’t see. It’s probably 400, 500 degrees depending upon where you are in the structure. That’s a problem.


[00:27:25] Ashley James: Yeah, he’s putting his own health and life at risk, but he’s also putting his fellow brothers at risk. That’s something to consider. If we know that we’re eating a certain way, we’re gaining weight, or we’re not taking care of ourselves, at what point are we actually putting other people’s lives at risk? We could have a heart attack while driving, we could die and our dependents all of a sudden don’t have us to take care of them. If you’re not willing to make the changes for yourself, you’ve got to think about those you love most to get to start making changes.


[00:28:02] Rip Esselstyn: Completely. And to take it a step farther, I mean, if you want to open up this pandora’s box, look at the predicament that we’re in right now—the United States of America. We’ve got COVID-19 that has struck. I believe, and I may be off here by a percent or two, but 98.5% or 99% of the people that are being hospitalized for COVID-19 and are subsequently dying have some sort of underlying comorbidity. Whether it’s high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, heart disease, cancer, or weakened or suppressed immune system. Unfortunately, if you’re obese, the latest figures that I just saw from the CDC show that 42%. A couple of years ago, we were at 35% obesity. We’re at 42% obesity now. I think that 50% of people over the age of 40 are now on some sort of hypertensive medication because their blood pressure is too high.


[00:29:27] Ashley James: And that comes with a list of side effects including those who are on long term for high blood pressure meds have shorter lifespans. So being put on a med doesn’t solve the problem. It masks the symptoms for now, but it makes things worse in the long run because we’re not addressing the root cause. My head spun so fast watching—so I’ve been a health coach for many years. (I watch the blood pressure, the triglycerides, the cholesterol, and blood sugar, especially, come into healthy ranges so fast when people get off of oil salt, sugar, processed food, and get on whole food, plant-based. I cannot believe how quickly people can heal and come back into normal ranges and go back to their doctor and get taken off of meds. It’s mind-blowing.

A friend of mine’s mother, within weeks of going plant-based, said all her arthritis and all arthritis pain was gone. All her pain was gone.


[00:30:32] Rip Esselstyn: Well, it’s such an anti-inflammatory way of eating. Like you just said, the effects happen so quickly. I mean, you look at the seven-day medical immersion programs that we’ve been throwing with Whole Foods’ unhealthiest team members since 2011, and the results that we got were so phenomenal. I was able to track all these different data points literally. It’s now over 2000 people that I had to write a book about, and that’s why my third book is called The Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Diet. And when I say rescue, it’s not me rescuing, it’s you rescuing yourself with the simple power of food.

But let’s go back for a second, Ashley because where I was going with this thing with COVID-19 was that somebody asked. I saw this interview with Dr. Fauci where they asked him, “Why don’t we open society back up?” And he said, “We can’t. We have too many sick citizens.” Again, when you look that we have 42% of the population that’s literally considered obese. When you look at all the numbers of people that are diabetic or pre-diabetic, and I think it’s now over 50% and he says that, it’s like wow. COVID-19 is crippling this society because we’re so unhealthy because we have not embraced, of course, there are so many conflicting messages and there’s so much noise out there with paleo, keto, and all this stuff.

If we could—as a culture, as a society—embrace something as simple as eating a whole food, plant-based diet, we wouldn’t be in the predicament we’re in now. This thing would probably be able to blow over, herd immunity. Sure, some people that are young and healthy are going to get hit pretty hard, but for the most part, like I said, 99% of people that are affected have some sort of underlying comorbidity and are over the age of 70. If you’re in that subset, you just really need to be super, super careful.

But anyway, I’ll throw out one more thing. That is a long time ago Winston Churchill said something very, very profound, and that is, “Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country has.” I mean, again, look at where we are right now, 20 cents out of every dollar goes to healthcare costs. Heart disease, the number one killer of Americans right now. 50% of us will have a brush with cancer in our lifetimes. Like I just mentioned, the fact that almost 50% of this country is considered now either pre-diabetic or type 2 diabetic, these are all lifestyle created diseases. I don’t know at what point we’re going to be able to wake up and confront this.

The Game Changers did a phenomenal job, and the latest that I’ve heard is that this documentary has been seen by more eyeballs. We’re approaching now close to 100 million views of The Game Changers. It’s the most-watched documentary on the planet.


Photo by Scott Evans on Unsplash


[00:34:27] Ashley James: I love that.


[00:34:28] Rip Esselstyn: But I still have to wonder, what’s it going to take? What is it going to take? You have this phenomenal documentary, the most-watched documentary in the history of the planet. I mean, it’s moved the needle, but it’s not moving it enough, it’s not. And then you look at everything that’s going on right now with climate change, the environment, and sustainability. It’s like come on people. We all got to be pulling in the same direction, and we got to do it fast.


[00:35:08] Ashley James: I really don’t like the phrase climate change because it so removes—did you watch that George Carlin clip? This is years ago where he said in World War One it was called shell shock, and in shell shock, you can feel the emotional impact. Like oh, he came home with shell shock. Through the years, they kept changing the diagnosis’s name to be so sterile that now we call it PTSD, and there is so much humanity removed from what they actually are experiencing.

Climate change feels like something big, out of our control, and not anything that really affects us, but okay, maybe when the weather’s weird. What I like to do is go back to the root, which is pollution. Look at that word. Okay, I don’t want to breathe in pollution. I don’t want to eat pollution. I don’t want it to be in my food. I don’t want it to be in my water. We have to come back to this really strong emotional word. We’re polluting this planet. Our food supply is compromised. Our air is compromised. Our water is compromised with pollution.

When we look at the places in the world that help to clean our water and air like these forests, they are being torn down by the hectare every day. Just unspeakable amounts of acres and acres of these rainforests, which we will never get back, in order to feed cattle. That is just one of the many problems. If everyone just ate more plants. If everyone just chose some meals that had plant-based protein and just tried that and then kept going more and more and more towards plants, we could actually start to heal the rainforest. We could start to stop pollution.

We have to think about the impact that’s happening right now, which is we’re poisoning our bodies by poisoning the planet, and we are voting with our fork. When you go to the grocery store, go online to buy your groceries, your purchases say where you want your money to go. And if you are buying products that require us to tear down forests in order to feed the cattle because they are growing crops to feed cattle, instead buy just crops and eat them. It’s much more complex than, but it can get as simple as vote with your fork. Do some research on the foods that you buy and vote with your fork where you want the earth to heal, you want your body to heal.

That’s my little beef about the word with, and there needs to be a vegan word for beef. That’s my schtick. I have such frustration with the word climate change because it takes the responsibility away from us. Whereas if we can really focus on the fact that—remember in the ‘80s they call it acid rain? It’s like, geez, I don’t want to go outside and get rained on by acid rain. That’s what we’re experiencing now is the pollution in our local environment because of the choices we make, and we can make better choices, which will directly—impact our lifetime—lessening the pollution and reversing it. That’s why it’s so important that your message is for healing our bodies, and it’s for healing the planet because there’s no difference between the two.


[00:38:44] Rip Esselstyn: Bravo, and thank you for bringing that up. I actually like that a lot more. We’re polluting the planet, right?


[00:38:58] Ashley James: Right, and there’s no political like, oh, climate deniers. You can’t deny pollution. It’s right out of your front door. You can test the water, soil, and air. We are polluting this planet. You can’t get political about it. It’s the truth. That way, there’s no denying it, but we can make choices based on all of our consumption. Based on what car we’re going to drive. Based on the clothing we’re going to buy, if it’s used, new, or local, or whether we’re going to buy local groceries or grow our own. Every single choice with our dollar really does go towards making a sustainable and healthier planet for our own health right now. Anyway, that’s my soapbox.


[00:39:45] Rip Esselstyn: No, it’s good.


[00:39:46] Ashley James: Thank you.


[00:39:48] Rip Esselstyn: Let me add to that. You look in the grocery space and what has been growing about 20% year over year? It’s the plant-based meats, it’s the plant-based cheeses, it’s the plant-based milk, it’s the plant-based yogurts. Plant-based is on a tear right now, and people are voting with their dollars, and they’re voting that they want more plants and fewer animals. That’s very, very telling. James Cameron, we were talking about The Game Changers. He was one of the executive producers, but I had the privilege of getting to meet James Cameron several years ago. I also helped get him on board with The Game Changers project.

You said you went to the opening night of The Game Changers. Did you see the 20-minute clip afterward?


[00:40:50] Ashley James: Yes.


[00:40:51] Rip Esselstyn: James was basically the star of that bonus footage. And in it, he says the single most important and powerful thing that you can do starting tomorrow is just to start eating plants. As far as starting to heal the planet and not polluting nearly as much. When you look at some of the data that’s out there, and there’s some from the Worldwatch Institute that’s part of the World Bank that has the global greenhouse gas emissions that are caused by livestock. They wrote a paper. I believe it’s called Livestock’s Long Shadow. That 51 of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture between the supply chain and the life cycle of us as a world having this insatiable diet for animal protein. 70 billion animals, it’s incomprehensible. Anyway, I want to add that to the whole conversation we were just having.


[00:42:20] Ashley James: I really like the visuals in the documentary Cowspiracy. I don’t like watching documentaries that lay down the guilt trip or make you feel like you’re hopeless, and there’s a little bit of that in there. But I just like to urge listeners just to watch it because the visuals are really good. For example, for that one hamburger that you eat, how much water actually needed to be used in terms of the crops and also feeding the cow versus if you just had a bean burger. You can see the environmental impact of that, or how much gas was used and how much CO2 emissions. But also how much fecal matter, right?


[00:43:03] Rip Esselstyn: I was just going to say, how much poop is produced by animals. It’s staggering, right?


[00:43:09] Ashley James: Yeah. In our environment, there are parts of the Carolinas, when there are storms, the water and all of the soil is really so unhealthy for the humans that live in those areas. And it’s documented that the humans that live in those areas have incredibly high rates of cancer, but they’re kind of impoverished, they can’t move away, and they just have to suffer because there’s so much fecal matter. All the waste from the big pig farms out there. But just imagine if there are billions of animals that we’re raising for slaughter, how much waste they create that is going to polluting the planet.

So, yes, there’s a huge environmental, but we have to keep coming back to environmental equals our health. So a healthy environment equals a healthy body, and we can come back to the science which is just eating plants but a whole food meaning not processed or as little process as possible so that we’re eating the whole plant and getting all the nutrients we require from it. And there’s so much science and you’ve mentioned some of the doctors and scientists that have made the published studies. Listeners can go through your books, through your dad’s information. You can go through, search whole food, plant-based. and listen to all the other experts that I’ve had on the show about it. You can collect lots of information and see that science is there and the science is sound and proven.

You were in—a while ago—a documentary called the Marshall Plan. It’s on YouTube. I highly recommend listeners watch it. That blew my mind that an entire town took up a challenge to get healthy through the whole food, plant-based diet and that you actually went there. Met with the fire guys there, the firemen there, and that you got all the labs, then you help them with the diet, and then you got the labs afterward. Can you tell us a little bit about your experience with the town of Marshall in Texas?


[00:45:22] Rip Esselstyn: Well, yeah. That was almost nine years ago now if I’m not mistaken. What happened is the mayor of the town of Marshall and his wife—two just phenomenal people—got bit by the whole food, plant-based bug. It’s really a testament to what can happen when one person that has a little bit of power, can try and just spread the wealth. When we went there, there were restaurants that were serving these whole food, plant-based options. We put on a whole weekend-long healthy eating symposium for the citizens of Marshall, Texas. Like you mentioned, I spent some time working with some of the firefighters.

Again, Ashley, and I apologize, I’ve worked with so many different firefighters and fire departments that I can’t specifically remember.


[00:46:46] Ashley James: Oh, yeah. Nine years ago, I want you to remember all of the numbers.


[00:46:50] Rip Esselstyn: But I can’t specifically remember how it went down.


[00:46:53] Ashley James: But they just have to watch the documentary for that.


[00:46:55] Rip Esselstyn: Yeah, and I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t seen the documentary. To this day the Marshall of Texas, I think they continue to hold a weekend-long event. The restaurants are carrying—and I can’t remember what the term is now that they have. They had some sort of special term for Marshall and the whole food, plant-based options there. For a little while, it was Engine 2 approved, but then they changed it. They’ve done something really phenomenal there in Marshall, Texas. Of all the places in the world, who would have thought Marshall, Texas.


[00:47:40] Ashley James: Right, a town in Texas. Anyway, it’s a great documentary. They show how much everyone loves meat and how incredibly unhealthy everyone was, and then the whole transformation of the town. You’re in it, your dad’s in it, and all the stars of the whole food, plant-based world are in it. My favorite, Chef AJ, who I’ve had on the show is in it. The meals look really delicious, and I think it’s a very authentic documentary. It feels very indie, which I love. I’m going to make sure the link to the Marshall Plan documentary is in the show notes of today’s podcast. Even though it’s nine years old, it’s still incredibly relevant. What I liked is having you walk through it with the firefighters. More time was spent on it even in the Game Changers where you got to walk through with the firefighters and show them what your arteries look like.


[00:48:31] Rip Esselstyn: Really.


[00:48:32] Ashley James: They slowed it down and they interviewed the firefighters. You felt the emotion with them. They don’t want to die, they don’t want to drop dead out of a heart attack. It’s very cool how much their lives changed because of it. But there are so many videos out there that you’re in that are like that, which is just wonderful. 

You do a lot of traveling, and this has been a question on my mind. What and how do you eat when you’re traveling? Because you’re in airplanes, you’re at hotels. Sometimes you’re in areas of the world where it’s not like Marshall, Texas where there’s a bunch of whole food, plant-based restaurants. How do you stay true to the whole food, plant-based, no processed, no oil diet?


[00:49:24] Rip Esselstyn: Well, that’s a great question, and it’s been really easy the last six months because I haven’t really traveled at all.


[00:49:33] Ashley James: I fell into that one.


[00:49:35] Rip Esselstyn: But you’re right. Before that, for the last 10 years when I was a healthy eating partner with Whole Food market stores, I was on the road probably somewhere between 80-100 days a year. Basically sharing with people the good news about plants. Let me say, the good news is that typically, whenever I went on the road, I always was going to Whole Foods. Literally, I always had the ability for lunch to pick up something if I did a lunch event. I’d fill up my cart and I’d buy some stuff either something that was prepared for dinner, or I could go and they always have a little rice cooker. I could do rice, I could do beans from the salad bar, and then top it off with all kinds of veggie relish.

But, aside from that, I would always go on the airplane with cereal. I always travel everywhere with my commercialized Rip’s Big Bowl cereal. And then at the airport, because you can’t take milk through the detectors with you, I would usually go to a Starbucks and I’d ask them for a plain glass of almond milk. I’d also carry with me typically raisins or bananas, so I make my own bowl because a lot of times, I have to get up early like 4:30 AM, 5:00 AM for some of these early morning flights. I always travel with cereal. I always travel with fruit. Sometimes I’ll travel with a homemade burrito or a sandwich.

I can always go out to dinner and make it work. You just got to be a little bit of a pain in the butt and ask for what you want. You can go to Indian, Thai, Japanese, Korean, or Chinese. Typically, you always get some sort of rice, lentils, vegetables to that effect. In a pinch, I’ll do Chipotle. Obviously, Chipotle’s got a lot more sodium and a lot more oil than I want, but I’m not so perfect that I don’t sometimes do that.

You just figure out a way. I typically get hotels where they’ve got a microwave in it. Sometimes they’ve got a little kitchenette in it. I have the ability to cook a few things. If you really want something bad enough, you’ll figure out a way to make it work. John Mackey who’s become a great and cherished friend, the CEO of Whole Food market stores, travels with a miniature rice cooker and he makes his own steel-cut oatmeal in the morning. He’ll make his own brown rice in the hotel room, and then he’ll add to it the toppings that he wants, the beans, the sliced up vegetables.

I have found out that nothing is as important as your health. If it requires you traveling with a rice cooker if it requires you at the restaurant saying, hey, you know what, I want this cooked and I don’t want it cooked in any oil or any butter, then you deserve the right to make that request, no doubt about it.


[00:53:15] Ashley James: There’s a Mexican restaurant near where my parents-in-law live in Seattle or just north of Seattle, and I get them to do veggie fajitas with no oil. They put every vegetable known to man. I love their veggie fajitas. Some places just do bell peppers. This place does everything. There are broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, and every bell pepper known to man—there’s just everything, and it’s a huge pile of vegetables on a sizzling skillet. They’ll do zero oil for me and then I’ll get their platter with the beans, the corn, tortillas, and the guacamole, and you feel great. You feel full. It’s just wonderful. I love it. And then there’s usually enough to take home. 

You just have to ask. You just have to be willing to ask, can you cook that with no oil, or can you steam that? A lot of Thai restaurants will have—in the back of their menu for a few dollars—a side of steamed vegetables and brown rice. You can bring your own sauce. I love the 3-2-1 sauce that Chef AJ teaches, which is three parts balsamic, two parts any kind of mustard, and then one part maple syrup. But that’s too sweet for me so I do half that amount, just put it in a jar, shake it up, and then just bring that wherever you go. You can put it on vegetables. It tastes amazing. It absolutely tastes amazing. You put it on steamed vegetables, put it on rice. You can get creative.

I like to do road trips, and Wendy’s has baked potatoes. I don’t eat the skins. They probably pour oil on it anyway, but you can find a way but you have to get creative. I think some people don’t take the first step into trying even a whole food, plant-based meal because they’re like, well, I’m tired. I’m busy. My mind is spinning, I have bills to pay, and this is just another thing I have to learn how to do. It’s kind of learning a new language. But once you do it, once you jump in, learn, and just try it, then it becomes very easy.

I travel with my Instant Pot. I learned that from Chef AJ. I will not go to a hotel that doesn’t have at least some form of a fridge. I just check in advance, make sure they have a fridge or mini-fridge, and I bring my Instant Pot always, always, always, and then go to the grocery store once we get there. We just do a little cookout in our room. There are even some hotels that have hot plates that they will provide for you if they don’t have a kitchenette. I found that out when we went to Idaho a few months ago. We just get really creative, but sometimes I’m tired, I’m hungry, I just want to like to do take out. This isn’t one of those opportunities to cheat or eat unhealthily. I don’t want to feel bad the next day. I want to feel better and healthier, so we got to get creative.

That’s where probably having some food either do big meal preps. You already have food cooked in the fridge. I can just go grab some cold sweet potatoes and eat them. Or have some meals that you’ve already made that you’ve frozen, so I’ve had to learn because I’m the one that cooks for our family. I’ve had to learn, and what I’m always blown away is how delicious your recipes are. So yummy. No wonder you can convert big firemen that love to eat steak to a whole plant-based diet because your recipes are delicious. I know that you’ve had some of your family members make these recipes as well.


[00:57:04] Rip Esselstyn: Yeah. Well, Ashley, let me say that you have really embraced the lifestyle, and you got it going on between doing the bulk cooking for leftovers, and then freezing, but you get into a routine where you learn how to do it and it’s not that difficult and it’s so worthwhile.


[00:57:29] Ashley James: Absolutely.


[00:57:30] Rip Esselstyn: You mentioned the food being good. I mean, there’s no way that I could have gotten a bunch of Texas male firefighters to do this if they thought they were eating a bunch of rabbit food, twigs, berries, and nonsense like that. Literally, from the beginnings of this, it was always hearty—as one person said—mantastic food that fills you up and sticks to your ribs. That’s why, if you look at the Engine 2 cookbook or Plant-Strong, you’ll see that it’s a lot of pizzas, burritos, casseroles, stews, and chilies. It’s just hearty filling food. And of course, we’ve got our fair share of really big muscular salads as well, but it’s very intentional that the food leans towards being more firefighter man-friendly, and that’s not at all a knock on women.


[00:58:56] Ashley James: No, as a woman, I can say that we as all women—I will speak for all women—would be happy to bring home a cookbook for our male counterparts in our lives that they would embrace because it’s so delicious, and we’re secretly also helping them get super healthy. There are not a lot of whole food, plant-based cookbooks out there that would make a man feel like they could do this if they’ve eaten meat every day of their life. That’s what I love about yours is they are super hearty. I love the chilies. Oh my gosh, don’t get me started. I make them all in the Instant Pot by the way so it’s really easy to make.

What’s interesting about the Instant Pot, I don’t know how much you’ve looked into—they call them the anti-nutrients. Some people are really sensitive to—makes them have gas and bloating. But when you cook beans and lentils in the Instant Pot, it destroys the anti-nutrients. People that often go, oh well, I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t eat that way because I’d get gassy. Well, if you use the Instant Pot, the pressure and the heat of the Instant Pot destroy the anti-nutrients and make it so much easier to digest and it doesn’t cause that gas problem. That’s why I love using Instant Pot for all the beans and lentils that I make.


[01:00:26] Rip Esselstyn: Isn’t that interesting?


[01:00:27] Ashley James: It is.


[01:00:28] Rip Esselstyn: Well, we have a rice cooker. I don’t have an Instant Pot, and I probably should get one. I know that Chef AJ would be very happy if I decided to get one.


[01:00:40] Ashley James: You really need to get one, and you guys should do like a little video together where she teaches you how to use the Instant Pot. I actually own three Instant Pots. Last Thanksgiving I made the most delicious—I came up with this recipe for like a shepherd’s pie. I got four huge disposable aluminum tins to bake them in because I got one for us for home. I brought one to the in-laws for Thanksgiving, and I gave two away. One to a funeral who were Seventh-Day Adventists, and they just lost their daughter in a car crash. I donated that to their funeral and they really appreciate that. I mean, it’s the least I could do. And then the fourth one was given to my friend’s family.

My dear friend Naomi went whole food, plant-based to reverse her heart disease, and then everyone else in the family started to. She has three sons and a husband. Now the husband raves about it, and her parents rave about it. But the three boys, they could never like the same thing. They’re all very picky eaters, and this was the first whole food, plant-based dish that all three boys and the entire family liked. The reason why I got three Instant Pots—because I used to only have one—is that when making it, I did the potatoes on one, the lentils on the other, and the vegetables in the third.

I made a layered dish because I was running out of time, so I ended up getting three Instant Pots to make the whole thing. I constantly use three Instant Pots. I’ll make potatoes, rice, sweet potatoes, or yams in one; I’ll make beans or lentils in the other; and then I’ll steam vegetables in the third. I hardly ever use my stove. If I use the Instant Pots, I hardly ever use the stove. It’s actually way quicker to use the Instant Pot, and the food comes out really fresh instead of something that’s been cooked too long. Anyway, I’m a raving fan of the Instant Pot. You should definitely get one and play with it.


Photo by Ella Olsson on Unsplash


[01:02:50] Rip Esselstyn: Yeah. Well, it’s interesting you say all that because do you know who Nina and Randa Nelson are and Jeff Nelson and Sabrina Nelson—a VegSource?


[01:02:59] Ashley James: No, I don’t.


[01:03:01] Rip Esselstyn: Well, Nina and Randa, you should have them on your show. They had this awful cystic acne that was almost debilitating, and these guys were actresses and singers out in LA. They’ve been following a vegan diet their whole life, but what happened is they decided to then go off all the peanut butter, the tofu, and all the processed refined vegan stuff. Literally, within a couple of weeks, their acne cleared up. They wrote a book about it called The Clear Skin Diet, and it is phenomenal. But Jeff and Sabrina have been in the space since 1990. They were the first ones to start throwing some of these live in-person plant-based events.

But the reason I bring them up is I stay at their house sometimes when I’m out in LA, and they have three Instant Pots going all at one time. Typically in one, they have one some sort of grain, let’s just call it brown rice. In one they have a bean, so let’s just call it homemade black beans. And then the other one they have steel cut oats or oatmeal. At any point in time during the day, you can go in and take a spoonful of whatever you’re in the mood for and then you put whatever you want on top. It’s brilliant. I’m kicking myself that I still have not bought.


[01:04:30] Ashley James: Oh my gosh. Guess what you’re doing this weekend.


[01:04:32] Rip Esselstyn: I think you might be right.


[01:04:33] Ashley James: You’re going to be playing with your new Instant Pot this weekend. When you call up Chef AJ for some advice, tell her it was me that finally pushed you over the edge.


[01:04:43] Rip Esselstyn: All right, I’ll say that Ashley James—


[01:04:46] Ashley James: Ashley James got you to finally get one. They’re so much fun. I burned a bunch of stuff the first time I used it, and I almost never went back. But then I think it was videos like Chef AJ’s videos that got me to try it again. You have to be willing to experiment and fall on your face in the kitchen. You’ve got to be willing to burn a few things because that’s how we learn, and it’s okay. Some of your meals don’t have to be awesome, but please, learn from those experiences because now I’m like such a passionate chef at home because food is the gateway to our health. You walk into your kitchen, you’re walking into your pharmacy. That’s just one of my favorite tools is the Instant Pot because it saves me so much time, but also it’s actually a health aide because it does break down those anti-nutrients for many of the grains, beans, legumes, and lentils.

Awesome. Now, you’ve got a program coming up. I definitely want to make sure we talk about it. You used to do—with thousands of people—these boot camps where you change their lives and then like you said, you documented it and wrote about it in one of your latest books. I got to see that actually because I met several Whole Foods employees who had been through your program. It’s life-changing, absolutely. I love the stories that came out of that, and then with COVID now you’ve gone digital, which is great because now actually more people can have access to this boot camp.

So you’ve got a program coming up really soon. Tell us all about it. What would we get by joining it? What is the experience like? And when what kind of people is this meant for?


[01:06:31] Rip Esselstyn: This will be our third virtual event of 2020. The first one we did was called the Plant-Strong Primer, and it was just for anybody that needed a little tune-up on all things plant-based for those who were new to the space. We had great attendance, and it was a whole weekend. The second one that we did was—we’ve had our annual Plant-Stock event for nine years now, and typically, it’s happened either at the backyard at the Esselstyn family farm in Upstate New York. And then recently, we moved it to the Black Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina.

But when COVID hit, we had to figure out what to do. We moved it actually back to the Esselstyn Farm, and Plant-Stock is just a celebration of all things plant-based, and we have a wide range of really what we call the brock stars in the plant-based movement come and speak. God, we probably had 22 different speakers, but the backdrop of the whole event was the Esselstyn Family. We got to give people a really nice backstage pass to the farm, which was in Forks Over Knives and it’s been in a lot of different documentaries. It’s a very, very special place for the Esselstyns because it’s been in the family for almost 350 years.


[01:08:09] Ashley James: Geez, wow.


[01:08:11] Rip Esselstyn: Yeah. We’re so grateful. As a family, we know how lucky we are to have this in our lives, this special resource. So we wanted to share it with people. That’s on my father’s side of the family, so my father grew up on this farm in Upstate New York. This next event that we’re doing on October 23 and 24, it’s called the Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue, and it’s actually going to take place in Cleveland, which is where I grew up. It’s where my father spent over 40 years at the Cleveland Clinic. But my father met my mother in Cleveland. He was going to Case Western Reserve Medical School. My mother grew up in Cleveland. Her grandfather was the founder of the Cleveland Clinic, believe it or not. In 1921 he founded the Cleveland clinic.

My mother’s father—we call him Barney—was just an absolutely revolutionary surgeon. He really single-handedly brought to this country instead of doing the radical mastectomy, he believed in the partial lumpectomy, which is not nearly as disfiguring. At the time it was considered a radical approach to treating breast cancer, but it is now the preferred method for breast cancer. I don’t want to get too far off track. My father was going to medical school. His father and my mother’s father both went to Yale and crossed paths because my dad’s father actually played football at Yale and was one of the coaches after he graduated. So he was one of the coaches for my mother’s father while he was going through Yale and on the football team.

It’s a small world, and my dad got invited over to my mother’s place for a meal. They met and they fell in love. This Kitchen Rescue event is going to take place at a place called The Knob. It’s this really phenomenal woodsy location in Northeast Ohio. It’s about 20 miles outside of Cleveland. It’s the second-highest point in Northeast Ohio, and you’ve got all these pine trees. The glaciers came through there and left all these crazy rock formations and white quartz pebbles everywhere.


[01:11:17] Ashley James: The Precambrian shield I think it’s called.


[01:11:19] Rip Esselstyn: Oh, yeah? Say that again. The what?


[01:11:21] Ashley James: I think it’s called the Precambrian shield.


[01:11:24] Rip Esselstyn: Wow.


[01:11:26] Ashley James: Because that’s what created the great lakes and all the terrain in Upstate New York and also Ontario, which is where I’m from, have these beautiful sections of the forest. There’s just exposed rock in granite and just gorgeous rock out of nowhere and these giant rock cliffs. Part of it was these big glaciers kind of scraped away and left behind. I think it’s called the Precambrian shield, but it’s a very unique landscape and just gorgeous, right?


[01:12:03] Rip Esselstyn: Oh, it’s gorgeous. The views, you can see over 7 ½ miles from this point all the way to Lake Erie. You can see the freighters going across on clear days. The cliff where you can get these views, it’s almost a 70-foot drop. There are sandstone formations everywhere, but this is a piece of property that has been in the Crile side of the family—my mother’s side of the family—since 1910. There’s this cool house that my parents built that’s on top of it now that’s made from these huge 5×3 foot sandstone rocks, and these huge Douglas fir beams that came from somewhere in Lake Erie that my father—one of his heart patients was a truck driver. And he got this truck driver to basically load up and go and bring back like 15 of these huge Douglas fir beams that serve as the part of the structure of this house.

But we’re going to have this as the backdrop to the Kitchen Rescue. We’re going to be making all kinds of fantastic meals going into the holiday season. Do you know who Dr. Will Bulsiewicz is?


[01:13:33] Ashley James: The name sounds familiar, but no I don’t.


[01:13:36] Rip Esselstyn: Okay. He wrote a book called Fiber Fueled.


[01:13:38] Ashley James: Oh, okay. Right, right.


[01:13:40] Rip Esselstyn: It’s so hot. Will will be joining us. We’re going to have a couple of amazing transformational stories, but mostly, it’s going to be time in the kitchen. We’re going to send out to all of our attendees all the different recipes, grocery lists that people want to cook along with us. We’re going to teach people how to read labels, pantry clean-out, what to put in place of some of the no-no’s that maybe a lot of us have in our freezers, our refrigerators, and in our pantries. It’s going to really be highlighted by my sister Jane, my mother Ann, my father, myself, and my brother-in-law Brian. Everything will be videoed. It’ll be live. This isn’t something that’s pre-recorded—it’s all going to be live. And then afterward, people will have access to the videos for up to a year. Anyway, in a nutshell—a big nutshell—that’s the extent of it.


[01:14:48] Ashley James: This is cool. Who should attend this? Is this for newbies, is this for people with major health problems? Who would get the most out of attending your upcoming event—October 23 and 24.


[01:15:03] Rip Esselstyn: Well, to me, it’s for anyone that is looking to get their head around some new exciting recipes, some mantastic recipes going into the holiday season. It’s for anyone that wants to be inspired, and it’s for anyone that feels alone out there and wants to feel like they’re really part of a very special family and community. What we discovered after our primer event in the spring and our Plant-Stock event in the summer is that the bonding that happens in the chat room over the course of the weekend is really special. And then afterward, we send everybody—that wants to—to a free community group where we continue on with all the relationships and the bonds that were formed over the course of the virtual weekend


[01:16:10] Ashley James: That’s very cool. I know several very happily married couples who have met in chat rooms much like what you’re describing. Also good for singles who would like to meet other singles who are looking to get healthy together. I always believe in divine intervention, just like how your dad met your mom. That feels a lot like there is some divine guidance going on and how I met my husband. It took a lot of divine intervention to bring us together.


[01:16:46] Rip Esselstyn: It’s funny you say that because there were people in the chat room during Plan-Stock that were like I can’t date anybody anymore that’s a meat-eater. I just can’t do it. I have to find somebody that shares the passion and the values that I have around plants. And then there are people that are divorced that are looking for somebody as well. Luckily, I am happily married and we have a Plant-Strong family. The kids are all on board, everybody’s on board with it. It’s really nice when you can have a united front with your partner, your kids, and your family. But I can tell you if I was starting over again—just like I don’t think I could ever marry a smoker—I don’t think I could ever, ever marry a meat-eater. Just the smell of the meat in the kitchen, cheese in the refrigerator, chicken breast, fish—I just find it all to be, frankly, just so revolting now.


[01:18:01] Ashley James: What’s really interesting about that—so again, my husband who ate beef breakfast, lunch, and dinner, maybe he had pork for breakfast. But that’s all he ate when I met him, and I tried to get him to eat something else other than meat. That was just meat, meat, meat every single day, and we’ve been married for 12 years. He just woke up one morning and said never again, never ever, ever again. Within a matter of weeks, he began to become disgusted by the smell of meat, by the sight of meat. He is actually completely turned off by it, and what a 180 degree just transformation.

But I noticed it in myself too, and I never ever thought. I saw it in him, I never thought it would happen in me. But I also noticed that the more you stay away from it, the more it actually feels unnatural to consume any animal or animal products, and I was very pro-eating animals before this. But it was my health journey that led me, and this podcast and interviewing because I want to interview everyone on all these different points. I want to bring in all the information that I can and to help people to heal because I suffered from many diseases including diabetes and reversed it with nutrition.

Just through my own learning and adapting this way, I noticed that my desires, my cravings changed now. I have a Pavlovian response to kale. I just start salivating when I think about plants. It’s really interesting how our bodies will adapt and change. I think for people who are still primarily meat-eaters, just try a meatless Monday, try just a few meals a week, or just try a seven-day challenge like the one that Rip wrote about in his book and just notice how great you feel. Let that motivate you to use food to heal your body.

Now, I’m very excited about your upcoming event on October 23 and 24—Plant-Strong Primer: Kitchen Rescue. It’s going to be delicious, I just know that. By then, you will have bought yourself an Instant Pot. You and hopefully all the listeners will get themselves an Instant Pot, and then we can all cook along with everyone in your live online event. The links to it are going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast at

It has been such a pleasure having you on the show today, Rip. You are welcome back anytime you want to come and share more stories of success, more information about your future events and books. We would love to have you back on the show.


[01:20:58] Rip Esselstyn: Oh, thank you so much. In closing, let me say one thing because I mentioned it earlier on and we didn’t ever have the opportunity to circle back to it. That is the answer to your food products that have been at Whole Foods for eight years. What’s happened is they have turned the brand back over to me. It was a ten-year contract.


[01:21:23] Ashley James: I didn’t want to ask in case it was really sensitive.


[01:21:28] Rip Esselstyn: No, no, no. It’s really good because now, what we’re doing is we’re revamping the whole look and feel. We’re giving the brand a whole refresh. Instead of being called Engine 2, it’s going to be called Plant-Strong. We are going to have a little Engine 2 in the upper right-hand corner just to give a nod because that’s the whole origin story at a fire station—Engine 2. But the packaging is so beautiful, it’s so colorful, and it’s so wonderful. And we’re going to have a limited variety of products at retail outlets including Whole Foods starting in February 2021.

We’re going to start with some veggie broth, then also some chilies, and some soups. And then online, we’ve started an e-commerce store where people can go right now today. We have the cereals and the granolas, and we have the pizza kits with the pizza crust and the sauce packs. And then we’re slowly, every couple of months, going to be adding more and more products to the e-commerce side of things. But in 2020, as we’re dealing with COVID-19, we’re just trying to figure out how to be smarter and more streamlined with our offerings and what makes sense. The D2C play, e-commerce, people are buying more and more food that way. This way, it allows us to get food to people—these premium products—at a better price point.


[01:23:08] Ashley James: Oh, great. Well, I love that. I just started buying all my groceries online because it just freed me up from so much time, and I used to love going grocery shopping. But with COVID, masks, hand sanitizers, and people looking at you worried like, oh, are you six feet away from me? I just don’t want to cause people to stress or live through that stress. I feel very, very blessed and fortunate to live in an area where I can have my groceries delivered, or I can order stuff online. I just ordered some whole food, plant-based cereal just last night. I normally don’t eat cereal, but I’m pregnant right now with our second child. My cravings, luckily, have been healthy ones.


[01:23:56] Rip Esselstyn: Good for you.


[01:23:58] Ashley James: Absolutely. Rip, it has been such a pleasure. Thank you so much. I can’t wait to attend your event coming up on October 23 and 24, Plant-Strong Primer: Kitchen Rescue. And of course, all the listeners are invited to attend as well. See you all in the chat, especially the singles who want to get healthy together. I just think that’d be so cool to hear some love stories.


[01:24:19] Rip Esselstyn: We’re going to do it. Just so you know, there’ll be several thousand people that will be partaking. This is going to be a big party. It will be a pre-holiday kitchen party where we’re going to get in, roll up our sleeves, and make potatoes, lasagnas, and pizzas together. It’s going to be a blast.


[01:24:41] Ashley James: Sounds great. Can’t wait. Thank you so much, Rip. Please, come back to the show at any time. We’d love to have you.


[01:24:46] Rip Esselstyn: Thank you so much, Ashley.



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Dr. Joel Wallach And Ashley James


  • Root cause of mineral deficiency diseases
  • Four categories of health
  • Symptoms of osteoporosis of the skull
  • Why going gluten-free is important

Have you heard about osteoporosis of the skull? In this episode, Dr. Joel Wallach is back on the show, and he talks about different symptoms of osteoporosis of the skull. He shares that osteoporosis of the skull is a nutrient deficiency and can be cured with proper nutrition. He also talks about the root cause of mineral deficiency diseases and how it caused hundreds of diseases that we now have today.



Hello, true health seeker, and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. Today, we have my hero, Dr. Joel Wallach. He’s a Naturopathic physician with so much experience. He’s in his 80s, and he’s the reason why I no longer suffer from all the illnesses that I had. I’ve been mentored by him for the last 10 years, and it’s such an honor to have him back on the show.

Go listen to episode 435 to hear my first interview with him. In this episode, we continue our discussion, and then, in the end, he answers some questions for the listeners that posted questions in the Facebook group for him. We didn’t get to all the questions, so he’s agreed to come back on the show and he will continue to answer questions for us. As you’re listening to this episode, if you have questions for Dr. Wallach, come join the Learn True Health Facebook group, and when I announce that I’m going to have him on the show again, please post your questions in that thread and I will get them answered for you.

Now, as you’re listening to Dr. Wallach, if you’d like to get on his protocol, he designed a supplement company about 25 years ago. My family and I have actually been taking his supplements for the last 10 years, and I’ve been using them with my clients for the last 10 years having fantastic success. In this interview, I saw nine years and then I realized September was the 10th anniversary of me on his supplements, following his protocol, and reversing the illnesses and diseases I had using his information.

As you’re listening, if you want to get on his protocol, go to and one of our experienced health coaches that are trained on all of Dr. Wallach’s protocols will help you. There’s also a health coach training program that completely trains you in all of Dr. Wallach’s protocols and we can hook you up. It’s very affordable, and it teaches you exactly how to help people—yourself, your friends, and your family. It’s a great adjunct to those who are already in the health field, but also, it’s great for people who just want to learn for themselves.

I talk about IIN, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which is a year-long health coach training program. That’s a major program to start a career as a health coach or if you are in the health field in some way to really add tools to your tool belt. If you go to and talk to them about learning specifically Dr. Wallach’s protocol, that training is much shorter, and it’s specifically designed to teach you everything about Dr. Wallach’s protocol. It’s a fantastic adjunct to IIN or to anyone who wants to learn more about holistic health and healing. I have been working with the health coaches at for years, and we’ve all been trained by Dr. Wallach and all of his information.

What I love about his supplements, and the reason why he created these supplements is after all the research he did in discovering the root cause of 900 diseases—diseases that cross-species lines, and he’s published his work. For the last 35 years, he discovered the root cause of major diseases such as cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, even down syndrome. He discovered they’re all different mineral deficiencies and element deficiencies in utero, and he’s published these findings.

What he found was as he worked as a Naturopath with his clientele, they would get inconsistent results from different supplement companies because of the quality control (or lack thereof). So he was finally driven to produce his own, which have consistently, very high quality, and are third-party lab-tested. We can help you contact the company and get all the labs. They publish them. They’re very open about showing that Dr. Wallach’s supplements are very high quality, bio-available, easily absorbed by the body, and consistently get results, which is very exciting.

They also have a 30-day money-back guarantee, which I think is really important because I spent thousands of dollars on supplements before I ever met Dr. Wallach, and felt that it was just a waste until I met him and got on his. Overnight, I started to notice fantastic changes. So if you’re wary about buying another supplement, know that his—when you go to and work with them—has a money-back guarantee. That is to show you that you can trust them. And if you like it for whatever reason, we want you to be satisfied, and we want to show you that you can feel comfortable and safe trying them and knowing that the company is all about helping you get your health back, which is why I’m so happy to be part of all of this.

Awesome. Thank you so much for being a listener. Thank you so much for sharing this show with those you love. Strap yourselves in. This is going to be a great one. Enjoy today’s interview.

Photo by Adrian Swancar on Unsplash


[00:05:04] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 447. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have my hero, Dr. Joel Wallach. Dr. Wallach, because of you, I no longer suffer from type 2 diabetes, from chronic adrenal fatigue, which had me bedridden most days. I no longer suffer from the polycystic ovarian syndrome. I actually just got my blood work done with my Naturopath to confirm that I am the healthiest I’ve ever been. But the last nine years I’ve been on your protocol I’ve been able to reverse all these issues. I was told by an endocrinologist I would never ever conceive, that I was completely infertile. And because of your protocol, your guidance, and your advice, we conceived our child naturally. He is a healthy almost 5 ½-year-old boy. You have helped many of my family members, many of my friends, and my clients through your supplements and through your nutritional information.

It’s such a pleasure to have you here. The difference you’ve made in millions of lives is so important. Your research has changed the world, but it needs to get mainstream. We have got to get your information out there, and that’s why I’m having you back here today so you can continue to share this information. Thank you so much for being here.


[00:06:37] Dr. Joel Wallach: Well, you’re very, very kind, Ashley. Thank you so much for the testimony and so forth. I get more women pregnant every year than any other man in history because I know the process. The human body has a phenomenal ability to heal itself, but it does need raw materials. You have to absorb and then you have to have the raw materials. You cannot get everything you need from your food. It’s like saying don’t waste your money on oil. Just put dirt from Texas in your car. There’s bound to be some oil in it. That was very, very stupid. Well, it’s very, very stupid to just say, well, I’m going to eat well and I’ll get everything I need. Nutritional minerals occur in veins like chocolate and chocolate ripple ice cream and veins like gold, silver, and coal. That’s why in some places on earth, people live long healthy lives. They say, well, boy they don’t even have doctors. They live 160-200, what’s going on?

Well, that’s because they live in a place that has the nutrients there because of the glaciers, grinding up rocks, and all that kind of stuff. That’s why you see cultures, they’re famous and legendary for long lives. James Hilton wrote the book of course and the movie came out of it, Lost Horizon. He was a New York Times reporter. He was told to go to Hunza where people were claiming to be over 200 years of age and so forth. He went there, spent a year, and he said, hey, this is real. He wrote an article for the New York Times, and he made a book out of it, Lost Horizon. It became a movie, Lost Horizon and Shangri-La where people live forever and all that kind of stuff.

I think the advantage I have, Ashley, is I’m a veterinarian as well as a physician. We don’t have health insurance for animals. We do have life insurance for expensive racehorses, but when it comes to health insurance, health insurance is the vitamins and minerals they add to their food. We’ve eliminated every disease that still plagues humans. I’m proud that I was able to—through lawsuits in federal courts—forced the baby formulas to put nutrients in there that doctors said were poisonous. The baby formula manufacturers like Enfamil and [inaudible 00:08:54] put it in there. In federal courts, I won because I did 1700 autopsies on kids under the age of 10 published in three languages.

We got rid of cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, and crib death. I’m the guy that eliminated those three baby diseases. You don’t hear about them anymore because I’ve eliminated them by putting all these nutrients into the baby formulas and eliminated them because none of them were genetic. And certainly, the mother never laid on the babies to kill them.


[00:09:21] Ashley James: Even more so, prenatal nutrition, and even before we get pregnant, helping the mother become fully nutrified is incredibly important. Now, we talked about your experiences with curing Keshan disease. We didn’t get into talking about your work with the Amish though. Can you tell us the story about how you were invited—I believe it was—in Pennsylvania to go and help the Amish figure out what was going on with infertility and the diseases that were plaguing them?


[00:09:51] Dr. Joel Wallach: Yeah. They had a lot of birth defects. Amish all over the country were plagued with birth defects. I had been working with the Amish. Started out in Kansas City, Missouri who was the parents of an Amish kid who became a decorated Navy Seal of all things. When he came back he said, look, we got to really spend some time with these Amish communities. They have so many birth defects. The doctors just tell them it’s genetic and there’s nothing to do about it.

Well, it turns out that all these birth defects—and I’ll tell you a couple of specific stories—with the exception of getting the measles early in pregnancy and you damage the embryo that way. You’re too young probably, Ashley, to remember thalidomide, which was a pharmaceutical made to deal with morning sickness made in Australia and it was shipped over here. Ob-Gyns actually gave it to mothers early in pregnancy when they were having morning sickness. We had 10,000 babies born in America with no arms and legs because thalidomide interrupted that part of the embryonic development.

With the exception of those kinds of things, 99% of all birth defects are caused by nutritional deficiency during the developmental stages of the embryo. There are no genetic diseases transmitted as birth defects. I’ll repeat that. There are no genetic diseases transmitted as birth defects. There’s no genetic disease transmitted like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and that kind of stuff. As a result, my thesis, which is from my 10-year study—20,000 autopsies. It’s kind of like a Ph.D. degree for a post-doctoral fellowship like a Ph.D. degree at Washington University in St. Louis. My thesis is in the Smithsonian Institute as a national treasure. We got a $25 million grant. Did the 20,000 autopsies. Did all the work, tracked everything down. Showed how all the birth defects could be prevented with prenatal nutrition, and how all these diseases that are said to be genetic in families were not genetic.

The example I used was sickle cell anemia because every thesis of animals can have sickle cell anemia. Both white guys and black guys get sickle cell anemia, and it’s all caused by the same nutritional deficiency in the early stages of embryonic development when the bone marrow is being developed. This nutrient is missing in central Africa. That’s why so many people in Central Africa—like the Congo and places like that—they have sickle cell anemia. Of course, the medical doctors say, oh, it’s due to a genetic thing in these people in the Congo. No, they’re just missing that nutrient.


[00:12:29] Ashley James: The nutrient is missing from the soil so they’re not getting it when they eat their food?


[00:12:32] Dr. Joel Wallach: That’s correct because plants cannot make this nutrient. I’ll give you a hint, it’s a mineral. The plants cannot make it. Here’s the beautiful part of it. So I’m seeing all these white kids with sickle cell anemia. I’m tracking their families, they don’t have any interactions with black families and there’s no intermarriages or anything like that. So it turns out, it’s the exact same deficiency in white guys as black guys. In white guys, they gave it a different name. In white guys, they call it thalassemia, and in black guys, they call it sickle cell anemia. It’s the same exact birth defect.

I’ve done this. Actually, in my presentation, I show people that both the mother and father have either thalassemia or sickle cell anemia, they’ll have 10 normal kids as long as they’re getting all 90 essential nutrients for at least three months before they get pregnant. Nutritional deficiency.


[00:13:35] Ashley James: Because it happened in utero though, can you reverse sickle cell anemia or is it baked into the cake?


[00:13:41] Dr. Joel Wallach: It’s baked into the cake. However, I can take somebody who has maybe 25%-30% percent of their cells will be sickle cell anemia or thalassemia. I can give them a program and I might drop it down to 12%-15% because I’m really feeding the healthy cells in the bone marrow. They just make more healthy hemoglobin. But it is baked into the cake, all right. I can improve them, but you can’t cure them. I can take a mother and a father—both of whom have sickle cell anemia or both of whom have thalassemia—give them all 90 essential nutrients for three to six months prior to pregnancy and guess what, they can have 25 normal babies. This one, my thesis is in the Smithsonian Institute of Natural Treasure.

There’s a great little story about arctic foxes at the Brookfield Zoo when I was working there, and it was part of this grant where I did my 20,000 autopsies. They had a big aquarium there so I had to spend a couple of years there dealing with all the tortoises, sea turtles, and things like that. I was covering all the species.

Anyway, the keepers came to me and said, “Look, we’re going to bring you 10 baby arctic foxes, and the mother and father are wild-caught arctic foxes. We just had a litter of 10 babies all born with cleft palate. They have a bad gene, we want to get rid of them.” “No, no,” I said, “Oh my gosh. This is perfect. I’ve been looking for something like this and you guys are going to bring me the babies and bring me the foxes. What were you feeding them?” “Well, we gave them horse meat. Gave the two animal foxes horse meat because they’re carnivores. They’re meat-eaters.” “Well, did you give me any vitamins and minerals?” “No.”

“Okay. Well, that’s why all the baby foxes were born with cleft palates. It’s a birth defect caused by cleft palates when they go from a flat disc into a tube, at that moment when their palate is forming, they’re missing these nutrients and it doesn’t close completely. Then they get cleft palate, cleft lip, and all kinds of stuff. So what I want you to do is start feeding the mother and father dog food, and then I want you to get infant formula, milk replacer like we’re going to give orphan baby puppies and start feeding those baby foxes. 

When baby foxes get to be six months old, they’re going to go through puberty. Then I want you to take one female baby and put it with a father. I want you to put one male baby and put it with the mother, and all the other brothers and sisters you’re going to put together we’ll have five pairs of inbreeding. Actually, we’ll have seven pairs of inbreeding with the mother and father. You tell me when the baby foxes are born.”

Well, it took six months for them to get to puberty, and then of course the baby foxes when they started eating solid food, we got them on dog food also. To make a long story short, we had 100 baby foxes born a year and a half later, and guess what? They’re all born perfectly normal, no cleft palates even though we were seriously inbreeding—brother and sister, mother and son, father and daughter. They’re all born perfectly normal because we gave them all the nutrients. This is written up in scientific journals. It’s in the book Rare Earths: Forbidden Cures. It’s in the book Epigenetic. And it’s in my presentation, which I give all the time in the section on pregnancies.

Gosh, I have so many horrible pictures. They would do abortions of babies born with a terrible cycloptic eye—one eye in the middle of their forehead—or their brain was sticking out of their skull, and things like that. They would go ahead and do an abortion. They bring me those babies so I have lots of pictures of horrible birth defects all of which are preventable by proper diet—maximize absorption, no gluten, no fried foods, no processed meats, no oils, and then you throw in the 90 essential nutrients and there will never be another birth defect.


[00:17:41] Ashley James: The best place to get the 90 essential nutrients—myself and others who have been mentored by you, working with you, and working with your supplements for the last nine years—is If you go to, you fill out your information, and you actually speak to one of us. We work with you and help you get on Dr. Wallach’s protocol. I want to talk about the four categories of health and healing in terms of nutrient deficiency, and how you easily help people to reverse diseases. But before we do, I just want to wrap up the Amish story.

You went with Marvin Rob, and I’ve met Marvin Rob—an amazing, amazing man. I’ve learned so much from him too, and the two of you went to the Amish communities where there was a lot of infertility and birth defects. What happened?


[00:18:36] Dr. Joel Wallach: Well, basically, the Amish, of course, they grow a lot of grain—wheat, barley, rye, and oats. They eat so much of that bread, spaghetti, noodles, pancakes, waffles, pie crusts, cake, and so forth. Well, guess what. They have so much gluten their intestines are all dead. They lost the villi in their intestines, and they couldn’t absorb nutrients even if they had them in their food. Now nutritional minerals do not occur in a uniform blanket around the coast of the earth. They occur in veins like gold, silver, and coal. The only way you’re going to guarantee you’re going to get all 90 essential nutrients is to supplement.

Well, even if you supplement, if your villi are all gone, you can’t efficiently absorb them, so they’re still having problems. We took some willing families that had some really serious problems. There was one family, I think it was Idaho. A 31-year-old young man and he was in a wheelchair for 31 years because he was born with severe muscular dystrophy, and they were told there was nothing to be done about it. Just giving care that dealt with the symptoms as opposed to there’s nothing you can do. To make a long story short, his name is Amos Wiki. This got to be 12, 15 years ago. We put Amos on the 90 essential nutrients. We gave him extra of the nutrients we’re missing when you have muscular dystrophy. Of course, they had already published a story about Jerry Lewis and so forth and everybody knew about that.

Jerry Lewis, of course, we gave him 50 of these Amish kids who were born with muscular dystrophy. We had cured them. We gave him the charts. He took them to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and before he left the room they fired him. He said, “Well, Wallach’s curing all these people with muscular dystrophy.” They fired him and took him off the telethon route. This is in 2011. And in 2015, they had to stop the telethon because they couldn’t raise a penny without Jerry Lewis being on there. He’d already raised $2 billion on the telethon, but when they took him off the telethon, they couldn’t raise a penny.

Anyway, here’s Amos Wiki. We put him on the program and we cured him. About a year later, Marvin and I are going from colony to colony in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Idaho, Utah, Texas, and so on running in all these Amish. They have annual meetings and all the farmers get together and say, okay, this year we’re all going to go grow sweet potatoes. This year we need extra, this, that, and the other. So they make all these plans, and they don’t have computers, telephones, cell phones, iPads, and things. They have to have these big meetings to communicate this stuff with each other. Otherwise, they’re writing letters and so forth, and they don’t like to do that. They rather just get together.

I was going to speak to them because they were having this big gathering of 150 Amish families in Idaho, and Marvin took me there. This elder—white hair, typical looking Amish guy, probably in the 60s. Very, very accusing tone, “Before we start, Wallach, I want to know. You’ve been working with Amos Wiki for years. For three years you’ve worked with him and he’s still sitting in his wheelchair.” And Amos wiki was sleeping in his wheelchair. About 180 pounds, 31 years old. So I said to myself, what would Moses do here?

What I did, I had to be a little bit of a showman, right? I stuck my right arm out 180 degrees away from Amos. I stuck my index finger out and I slowly, slowly turned through the face of the audience all around until I was pointing at Amos. I screamed his name. I said, “Amos, get up and dance.” And Amos got out of his wheelchair and he started doing a little jig. He runs up the middle aisle, runs around all the outside isles three times, and sits back down in the chair. Everybody, they couldn’t even breathe. It was quiet. They could not breathe.

What had happened was Amos, in 90 days, we had cured him of his muscular dystrophy after 31 years of muscular dystrophy. But he had paid for that wheelchair himself. They don’t have health insurance so he paid for the wheelchair himself. He didn’t want to give it away, sell it, or just throw in the barn. So he took it with him wherever he went, and wherever he went he would just sit in his own wheelchair. He didn’t need it anymore. But the elder Amish guy thought Amos was still in the wheelchair because he still had muscular dystrophy. But no, we cured him in three months.


[00:23:45] Ashley James: I love it.


[00:23:47] Dr. Joel Wallach: We deal a lot with every kind of autoimmune disease you can think of. Things like lupus, which Amish used to get a lot of. They have the butterfly rash on their face, and it’s kind of like fibromyalgia with a butterfly rash in your face they call it lupus, an autoimmune disease. It’s really just a manifestation of gluten. They can’t absorb nutrients. One nutritional deficiency causes eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, and rosacea when you have a deficiency of that nutrient. Also, you get ulcerative colitis, your villi go away, you get diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, or irritable bowel syndrome. Basically, these diseases are all gone in the Amish community now. They used to eat so much wheat, barley, rye, and oats because that’s what they would grow to feed their livestock and also to sell in the markets.

Now they know they need to live like Asians and they eat rice. They can’t have fried rice, but they could eat wild rice, white rice, yellow rice, and red rice. They could eat sweet potatoes. They can eat their dairy. They can have all the vegetables they want. They can have buckwheat, which is not wheat. They can have millet. They can have corn and so forth. All the diseases they used to get, they don’t get anymore because we got them off of gluten, got them on the 90 essential nutrients, 60 minerals, 16 vitamins, 12 aminos, and 3 fatty acids. And 2/3 of the 90 essential nutrients are our minerals.

Plants do not make minerals. They can make vitamins, they can make amino acids, they can make fatty acids, but they can’t make minerals. Plants only need three elements from the soil, and farmers, Ashley, get paid by tonnage. They don’t get paid by the nutritional value of the food, they get paid by tonnage. When you look at all commercial fertilizers, they only have three minerals in it. They don’t have 60. They only have three. When they get everything ready to harvest, they harvest it, they sell it, it goes to the market, and we get three minerals in our food.


[00:25:58] Ashley James: Can you imagine what our health would be like as a globe if farmers got paid for the nutritional quality of their crop and if doctors got paid for results?


[00:26:10] Dr. Joel Wallach: Well, yeah. That’d be a totally different story.


[00:26:14] Ashley James: Yeah, exactly. There’d be no disease, and everyone would be listening to you.


[00:26:17] Dr. Joel Wallach: I can tell you when it all happens, 3:00 PM in the afternoon, Monday, September 4, 1882 on Pearl Street in New York City in the bluff overlooking the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, Thomas Edison pulled the switch on the first commercial electric generating plant and lit up part of New York City. Within 10 years, 100 new diseases occurred that had never happened before in America. All mineral deficiency diseases and doctors are telling people, oh these are genetic because before 3:00 PM in the afternoon, Monday, September 4, 1882, nobody had electricity. Everybody had wood stoves. They were putting their wood ashes into their gardens, and wood ashes are more than just carbon. Wood ashes are the minerals that are left when you burn the carbon in the wood, the corn stalks, or whatever it is you’re burning, coal.

People put their wood ashes in their garden as fertilizer. If you were in a place where there were 15 minerals in the soil, there were 15 minerals that would ashes. If you’re in a place where they had 25 minerals in the soil, there were 25 minerals in the wood ashes. People did much better when they were putting their wood ashes in their gardens. I’m going to give you one more bit of story here and I’ll turn back to you. 

That is most people don’t know this, Ashley, but slaves lived longer than plantation owners. There were more 100-year-old slaves than there were 100-year-old white people. Most chief slaves who were actually running the plantation operations outlive three generations of white plantation owners who die in their 40s and 50s. These slaves are 110, 112 still running the show. That’s because the plantation owners want to be like kings and dukes. They just ate the meat—steaks, roasts, and loins, that kind of stuff. They made the slaves eat the chicken feet, pig’s feet, the livers, the brains, the heart, and the lungs, which had all the trace minerals in it plus the sulfur, the calcium, and the magnesium. They would put the bones from what they would eat onto the stove at night and water and just simmer it all night and make bone broth soup.


[00:28:55] Ashley James: And get more minerals.


[00:28:57] Dr. Joel Wallach: Yeah. The white people didn’t drink that or eat that. That was all the slaves. That’s why there was uncle Thomas. They couldn’t call him Sir Tom or Sir Remus. They call him Uncle Remus because they were giving him some kind of heroic name for living so long and running the plantations. Being an Uncle Tom was a good thing. Being an Uncle Remus was a good thing. Being an Aunt Jemima was a good thing because they were living to be 100 eating the things that the plantation owners thought were not even fit to feed a dog, only slaves could eat them.


[00:29:43] Ashley James: And they were getting more nutrition because of it. That’s fascinating.


[00:29:47] Dr. Joel Wallach: Isn’t that crazy?


[00:29:48] Ashley James: Yeah. I love how you look through history—different cultures, the rate of disease, and how you can link it all back that the people who have the lowest rate of disease and the highest rate of longevity are the people who are getting all their minerals, getting more minerals, and getting more nutrition. That’s very fascinating. I just love it. 

Now, it’s been complicated for people to understand how to reverse disease, but you, in the last few years—in working with so many wonderful experts—have devised something to make it really simple. So that the average person or even health coaches who want to jump in and use your protocol, not only for themselves, but also for their clients or for their friends and family, they could understand how to figure out what nutrients their client, their selves, or their friends or families are missing. Can you discuss the four categories of health, and dive into how we can utilize them to help reverse disease?


[00:31:00] Dr. Joel Wallach: Yeah, well you have to appreciate that all tissue has stem cells. No matter what tissue in the body, every tissue in the body has stem cells. The purpose of the stem cells is to make new cells when the old ones die because none of your body cells live forever so they have a lifespan. They might only live six weeks, six months, two years, or whatever it is. Then the stem cells will replace them with a new cell. Also, if you have an injury like a trauma, an injury where you get a bruise, a cut, a burn, or something like that, your stem cells will repair those injured cells and make new ones when the old ones die. They all require the 90 essential nutrients.

This is why people who live in areas that have lots of minerals in the soil and eat food grown there, they actually have much longer lives. They tend to be disease-free, are very strong, and can resist the plague and all that kind of stuff which everybody else gets. People say well where are the longest-lived people on earth? The longest-lived people on earth come from Hunza, which is where the [inaudible 00:32:20] Glacier is which is in China. There’s a place called Pakistan and China, the [inaudible 00:32:30] glacier in Hunza is in between them. 

These are the longest-lived people on earth. And again, the Hunzas didn’t know what they were doing. They just drank the water that came out from underneath the glaciers. They irrigated with the water that came out from underneath the glaciers. The glacial water had the minerals in it because the glaciers were grinding up all the rocks. It just so happens all the rocks there have 78 minerals.

Also, this is where we get our plant minerals from these types of deposits. There’s half a dozen on earth, and we get our minerals from these types of deposits which come from the ocean. It’s not like rock. These are not rocks. These are plants. I’ll tell you a little bit about that in a second. And then also, we can get these things from the pink Himalayan salt. In the Himalayan mountains, when the oceans dried up, all the salt and minerals that were in the oceans there piled up down there and became the pink Himalayan salt. They have 84 minerals in them.

Now, Ashley, before I answer your question, I’m going to tackle it backward a little bit so when I answer the question it’ll make sense.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash


[00:33:53] Ashley James: Okay.


[00:33:54] Dr. Joel Wallach: You know the carbon dioxide is going up in the air, and all the environmentalists are convinced that it’s due to fossil fuels for gasoline, oil, and all kinds of stuff for cars and things.


[00:34:09] Ashley James: Cow farts.


[00:34:12] Dr. Joel Wallach: Yeah, things like burning coal, oil, and gasoline and all that kind of stuff. That’s where the carbon dioxide is coming from. They want everybody to drive Tesla cars and have all these hydroelectric plants and everything. Well, going back to the 1920s, they began to put in hydroelectric dams. Today, to make a long story short, we have a million hydroelectric dams. We have two million dams for our irrigation and water conservation. We have 400 million farm ponds that intercept the flow from creeks that would go into tributaries to dump these silts, minerals, and volcanic ash into the big rivers, which would then go feed the ocean and feed the reefs. Millions not thousands, millions of these dams.

Well, here’s what happened is they shut off the food supply to the algae that were eating the carbon monoxide. Algae make up more plant life than all the plants on dry land earth. Algae in the ocean have a bigger plant mass than that. Well, algae, the purpose of it is to eat the carbon dioxide in the air, throw out oxygen into the atmosphere, then take the carbon out of the carbon dioxide, and make carbon chains like amino acids, carbohydrates, sugars, fiber, and stuff like that for plants like kelp and that kind of stuff. Well, we dammed up the rivers with 1 million hydroelectric dams, 2 million water conservation dams, and 400 billion farm ponds. We cut off the food. Only man has the power to cut off the food supply to the ocean, cut off the food supply to the reefs.

I gave a lecture last year, a little more than a year ago—August of 2019, to Tesla at their annual meeting, and 2/3 of my lecture I had maps of all the places where the reefs have died and showed where they had dammed up all the rivers. I have pictures of the maps and then where the rivers were dammed up. In Queensland in Australia where the Great Barrier Reef is they dammed up all the rivers that were feeding the volcanic ash into the ocean on the western side of the great barrier reef that killed the great barrier reef by making hydroelectric there. 

We’re working on getting a grant. We’re going to rebuild Queensland, we’re going to rebuild the Great Barrier Reef. We’re going to leave them to have their electric dams. We’re just going to go around them, through them, or over them with augers, get the silt back to the algae that were feeding the Great Barrier Reefs. And in 90 days’ time, we will have rebuilt the Great Barrier Reef and prove to the environmentalists it was the dams that caused the problems.

That’s why anybody dealing with electricity and they want to make more electricity, it’s actually safer to burn coal than it is to dam up the rivers. Just think of all the diseases we’ve gotten since we went away from wood ashes for fertilizing our plants and we’re using electricity now. We got 1000 new diseases that never existed before because of nutritional deficiency.


[00:38:04] Ashley James: To summarize what you said because it is such an important—that moment you said, that exact moment that Edison did that. The exact moment, just a pivotal change happened in our world because until then, we were cooking with fire, basically. We’re cooking with wood.


[00:38:26] Dr. Joel Wallach: Wood and coal.


[00:38:28] Ashley James: But if you look at old like a few hundred-year-old recipes for bread, for example, they’ll call for wood ash. They’ll call for the white ash to be added to the food. Or they used it as a thickening agent in stews. We used to eat minerals, and we used to put them in our garden. Minerals were part of our everyday supplementation. We didn’t know it. We didn’t know that it was, we just did it. It kept us healthy until we traded in our wood stove for the electric stove a few generations later plus everything we’ve done with commercial farming, we’re not getting the 60 essential minerals. I’ve heard you talk about the dams before but it really, really hit me today.

What we saw happen with our bodies over the last hundred years in terms of mineral deficiency and the rates of diseases go up. Now we’re doing it to our oceans. Isn’t it 70% of the earth is covered in water, and we’ve starved the minerals. We’ve cut off the mineral supply because of all these dams with the food supply, the mineral supply to the algae. And the algae is the most important plant on our earth to help us breathe oxygen and create homeostasis.


[00:39:55] Dr. Joel Wallach: Something usable from carbon dioxide.


[00:39:57] Ashley James: Right. What we did to our bodies over the last hundred years is what we’re doing to the entire ocean right now. And it all comes back to minerals are the most important thing for our health. Of course, vitamins are, but I’ve heard you say you can accidentally get vitamins if you eat enough vegetables, but you can’t accidentally get enough minerals because of all the things that you’ve talked about.


[00:40:22] Dr. Joel Wallach: Plants don’t make minerals.


[00:40:23] Ashley James: Right. They have to be grown in minerally rich soil, which is very hard to secure especially because of the farming practices of the last hundred years and the fact that we’re not re-mineralizing our soil.


[00:40:35] Dr. Joel Wallach: After a few years, the minerals and salt are gone because the plants suck them out of the soil. Now, grandma, as you point out, used to eat wood ashes and she’d put them in the bread dough, she’d put him in the soup, and that kind of stuff. When she got crazy cravings when she was pregnant, she’d go out in the yard with a spoon and eat dirt, and she’d eat more wood ashes when she was pregnant. It’s called pica.

Now, during the Second World War when they came up with baby formulas so mothers could work in the factory so they didn’t have to breastfeed their babies, babies developed what was called cribbing. They would chew on the rails and the cribs because they were minerally deficient. They were looking for minerals and say we put their hands on the crib rails and chew on the rails and they call it cribbing. When horses are minerally deficient, they chew on the top rail of a barn stall, they call it cribbing because the horse looks like they’re doing what the kids are doing in the crib.

Now grandma didn’t know why, but she knew that the terrible craving she had would go away when she would eat wood ashes and put them in the food and that kind of stuff. Also, obesity was not a big problem in the world until electricity came along. I mean, if you wanted to see an obese person you had to go to the carnival or the circus, and they would have the fat lady who was 300 pounds. Other than seeing a fat lady in the circus or the carnival, you never see a fat person because they’re eating minerals because they’re putting the wood ashes into their food.

When you have pica, you’re driven to want to eat even though you just had a 5000-calorie dinner. If you’re missing minerals, you are going to eat and eat and eat and eat six desserts and all that kind of stuff. That’s when the clever guys came along and said you know grandma’s out there eating dirt. We need to make pretzels, potato chips, corn puffs, and all these desserts and sell them in the stores. She’ll buy those desserts and eat those rather than eating dirt and ashes. That way we can make some money. We’re not making any money with her eating dirt and wood ashes because entrepreneurs noticed that grandma’s eating that stuff because she was craving them.


[00:42:45] Ashley James: Why is it that people will crave salty foods or sweet foods when their body really wants minerals?


[00:42:52] Dr. Joel Wallach: Because they don’t know. They’ve never been taught that craving is telling them to eat minerals. If you’ve ever been around cattle farms, bee farms, they put these red trace mineral salt blocks out in the pasture on the big corrals. The cattle will lick the salt, they’ll lick the salt, they’re getting the trace minerals at the same time because they need the salt. All vertebrates require sodium chloride for digestion to make stomach acid and all that kind of stuff. Now, here’s a funny piece to it.

You go back to the years 3600 BC, there was a healer in Egypt who began to give people dried seaweed. He noticed that the ones that had goiter when he gave them dry seaweed their goiter would go away. Well, that went on until 1930. That’s a big long time. Almost 4000 years. About 1930, chemists were doing analyses of seaweed. It was getting rid of goiter in people, and he noticed that one of the biggest things in the seaweed that would cure goiter was iodine. It was in 1875.

Then comes along 1920. There was a salt company in New York. They’re selling a lot of salt, but they read about this iodine, which was a big problem all around the world. They put iodine in salt and they called it iodized salt. We eliminated goiter in the world with iodized salt because everybody salted their food because they were deficient in salt, so they would eat salt with iodine. They got iodized salt.

Well, just before the Second World War, all these doctors were getting trained in medical schools. Being told that salt is what creates high blood pressure. So they’re running around telling people to get rid of the salt out of your diet, it will lower your blood pressure, so take drugs. But they didn’t say be sure you’re taking a supplement that has iodine in it, so goiter came back with a vengeance. That’s why we have so much stuff going on with our thyroid glands now because even if they do have salt out there with iodine in it, people are told don’t use salt.


[00:45:25] Ashley James: Fascinating. And you pointed out that our body actually needs salt in order to make hydrochloric acid.


[00:45:33] Dr. Joel Wallach: For digestion.


[00:45:35] Ashley James: And if we don’t have enough hydrochloric acid, then we get heartburn, and then a doctor will put someone on antacids which just makes the problem worse. Then they can’t digest, so then they can’t absorb. so now they’re going to become more nutrient deficient quicker and then they can get on more drugs. It’s just a perfect path to make the pharmaceutical company money.


[00:45:58] Dr. Joel Wallach: You’re exactly right. That’s why we have our savory division, our spice division, we have the pink Himalayan salt. I use that on my breakfast food, my lunch, and my dinners. I use our pink Himalayan salt, and I take it with me when I go out on the road, and it has 84 minerals in there. That’s an addition to our sports drink, which has 78 minerals in it. Our plant-derived minerals have 78 minerals in it. We have in capsules, liquids, and powders. Oh my. There are so many diseases, they’re very simply gotten rid of.

For instance, diabetes. You don’t need to go to a doctor to see if you have diabetes. You go to a pharmacy without a prescription. You get the test strips for your urine, you get the test scripture blood, and for about $1.50 for each test strip, in three minutes you’ll know if you’re diabetic or not. And you didn’t have to pay $100 for an office call. You didn’t have to pay $200 for a lab fee. It just cost you $3 or $2.50 test strips, and you know if you have diabetes or not.

And then of course, if you have diabetes, we have what we call the Healthy Blood Sugar Pack. If you’ve had it for 30 years, in 30 days or less you’ll actually be an ex-diabetic.

Of course, the scorecard for how well you’re doing, how well you’re managing your diabetes is the A1C. It’s supposed to be down around 5. I get people, their A1C has been 15-19 for 20, 30 years. We get them on our program, our Healthy Blood Sugar Pack, and get them off of gluten so they can absorb everything. In six weeks, their A1C is now 4 and they don’t have diabetes anymore. They go into their annual or quarterly physical and the doctor says, we’ve got to run your A1C again, it came out 4. That can’t be right because it’s been 19 for 25 years. So they rerun it and she said well I don’t know why but your A1C is 4. It’s a miracle. I’ve never seen that before. And then they just turn and walk out the door.

I asked the patient. I said, “Well, did the doctor ask what you were doing?” He says, “No, he just says it’s a miracle and walked out the door.” That’s because he didn’t want to be responsible. He didn’t want to be knowing what you did so he’d have to give it to his other patients.


[00:48:14] Ashley James: Well, that happened to me. I used to have type 2 diabetes, and I got on your protocol for healthy blood sugar and it went away so fast it made my head spin. I was feeling so good. And the pica, I thought it was part of my blood sugar problem. I had constant gnawing hunger. I was hangry. Every 45 minutes I had to eat. And then within the same day, I started taking your plant-derived minerals, my hunger went away. I just burst into tears of joy. I was so excited. My blood sugar started balancing very quickly, my adrenal fatigue subsided very quickly.

Within two years, we naturally conceived our child, and my polycystic ovarian syndrome had gone away. It was bam bam bam. Things were resolving. It was great. I got so excited I changed my career and became a complete advocate of your work, of nutrition, and of the fact that we can reverse disease. I’ve traveled with you. I’ve watched you, helped you, or set up lectures, and I’ve met hundreds of people that have worked with your protocols.

I have personally seen people reverse adult-onset asthma, arthritis, MS, kidney failure, COPD, infertility. I’ve met people who were supposed to go in for surgeries to have knees replaced, kidneys removed, or heart surgery, and then through your protocols, they got so healthy they no longer needed to have those procedures. Sometimes it takes longer. Sometimes nutrition and diet and then it takes a few more months or it takes adding in some herbal support, but stick with it.

I highly recommend listeners go to and get on Dr. Wallach’s protocol. There are these four categories that you came up with—soft tissue, hard tissue, blood sugar, and healthy nervous system. There are a bunch of different symptoms that someone could look at. There’s a checklist and they could look at and go, oh, my problem is this. An example being is if someone has cracked heels, that they have soft tissue—it’s the nutrients that support soft tissue, specifically like essential fatty acids. They have that deficiency, but they might need further support in terms of digestion if they don’t have a gallbladder in order to fully digest and absorb their EFAs. But could you talk a bit about how you’ve made this very simple so that people can get on the right protocol with all the essential nutrients their body is missing in order to correct their problem?


[00:51:12] Dr. Joel Wallach: Okay, well thank you. Again, my thesis for my post-doctoral fellowship represents 20,000 autopsies. I’ve done over 32,000 autopsies for my thesis in the Smithsonian Institute as a National Treasure. When I would get bodies—whether humans or animals—if they were vertebrate, they would have the same external signs of the internal deficiency disease. If it was diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, thyroid issues, kidney failure, congestive heart failure, if they had irritable bowel syndrome, or they had colitis, all these kinds of things. Of course, then they would have skin pumps, eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis. I’m saying, well, what causes these things? I would go look up and sure enough, there has been a paper written about it 25 years earlier, 100 years earlier. That they would make the connection between a nutrient deficiency and that particular health issue.

I began to write these things up and do handouts and meetings. Usually, after a while, I had enough of those handouts. I just put them together in a book. The first book of course was Let’s Play Herbal Doctor. It goes into 600 different diseases and tells you what signs to look at. For instance, my most recent book now 50 years later is It’s All In Your Head. It talks about the 25 different diseases you get when you have osteoporosis in the skull, and it’s another thing that doctors never talk about is osteoporosis of the skull. They talk about osteoporosis of your legs, your vertebrae, your pelvis, and your shoulders, but that’s it. They never talk about osteoporosis of the skull.

Well, there are 12 pairs of cranial nerves. And when you have osteoporosis of the skull because your skull gets thicker and bigger when you have osteoporosis, it fills up those tunnels that those nerves go through and the spinal cord coming out of the back of the skull and squeezes them and you get all these diseases. I ask people questions when they come in and they tell me they’re losing their vision. The doctors can’t figure out why because they don’t have glaucoma, they don’t have pressure in their eye, they don’t have cataracts, they don’t have macular degeneration, but they’re slowly going blind. They have to change their eye prescription every couple of months because it’s getting worse and worse and worse no matter what the eye doctor does.

I learned if I ask them, “Do you have ringing in your ears? Do you have tinnitus? It’s called tinnitus, that [ringing] tone.” “Oh, yeah. That’s terrible. I have that all the time.” “And do you ever have dizziness or balance problems?” “Oh, man. If I get up too fast the world will spin. I’ll fall down, so I have to get up very slowly and stand there for a moment before I take a step. I do have vertigo.” “Well, that’s because your skull is squeezing the auditory branch of the atrial nerve to get that tone, and you will gradually get deaf. The skull is also squeezing the vestibular branch of your atrial nerve. The tone is called tinnitus. The dizziness, vertigo or Meniere’s disease now it’s called Wallach’s vertigo because it’s not a genetic thing. It’s a simple nutritional deficiency.”

But also, I think what was happening, the skull is squeezing the second cranial nerve which is the optic nerve, and slowly causing the optic nerve and the artery that goes into the back of the eye. Formed in the brain, goes to the skull to the back of the eye. They would slowly lose their vision, and didn’t have any classic eye problems. I learned, by rebuilding the skull, I could get their vision to come back. I actually won a wager. I don’t know if I told you that story.


[00:54:52] Ashley James: I don’t think so.


[00:54:54] Dr. Joel Wallach: Okay, this is a great story. It has to do with these sorts of things. I was in Salt Lake City giving a lecture and about 50 people in the audience. It’s got to be 25, 30 years ago. There are 30, 40 people in the audience. When I was done, the guy in the front row said, “Dr. Wallach, my mother is in her 70s, and she’s been legally blind for eight years. Is there anything you can do for her? She’s got this terrible macular degeneration that caused her blindness. She’s been legally blind 6, 8, 10 years.” “Okay, I can fix that.”

This guy jumps up in the back of the room. He says, “Wallach, you’re a liar.” I said, “Who are you?” He says, “Well, I’m an eye surgeon, and I diagnose people who are legally blind because they have really severe advanced aggressive forms of macular degeneration, and they go blind. There’s nothing to do about you. You just got to accept blindness at that point.” I said, “Well, sir, let’s have a wager. Why don’t you bring me 12 of your patients that you have diagnosed? There’s no question about the diagnosis. You have diagnosed with macular degeneration. They’ve been legally blind 6, 8, 10 years.” He says, “You’re on.”

The next day, he brings me 27 charts. He says, “Pick your 12.” I said, “Why pick 12? Let’s take all 27.” He says, “You’re on. Well, what’s the wager? I said, “Well if I win, if I can cure these people in 90 days, if I can do it, it’ll happen in 90 days. If I can cure these people in 90 days—they go from being legally blind to be able to read 20-20 in 90 days, now you have to pay for their supplements. You have to apologize in public for calling me a liar. You have to buy me one of the most expensive steaks in Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and you’re going to buy me the most expensive French red wine in America, a bottle of it.” He says, “You’re on.”

I said, “I’ll take all 27.” He says, “Well, how are we going to get him the information.” I said, “Well, I’m going to write up a little protocol that’ll be per 100 pounds of body weight, and I’ll call and talk to each one and I’ll mail each one so you need to give me their addresses so I know this is really happening.” He says, “You’re on.” So we went at it. Gave them the 90 essential nutrients, the anti-inflammatories, the MSM, vitamin D3, and so on. We went at it. In 90 days, 25 of the 27 could read 20-20. It took two more weeks for the other two. So he paid off on all counts.


[00:57:37] Ashley James: I love it.


[00:57:41] Dr. Joel Wallach: This is why we came up with a book, It’s All In Your Head. We talk about these 25 different diseases you get. You lose your sense of smell, you lose your sense of taste. You’ve heard of Bell’s Palsy, that’s the squeezing of the seventh cranial nerve, the facial nerve when you have osteoporosis. And then there’s trigeminal neuralgia. You have pain in your face and you can’t make saliva and everything because the fifth cranial nerve is being squeezed. And then people, when they get older, their voice tends to change. That happens because their ninth cranial nerve≤ the glossopharyngeal which controls the vocal cords are being squeezed. Beginning to get the picture?


[00:58:41] Ashley James: Fascinating. It’s all osteoporosis of the skull.


[00:58:43] Dr. Joel Wallach: Of the skull, and that’s why we have the book now, It’s All In Your Head. We’re selling these by the hundreds every day now. It was on the best-selling list, number one bestseller in ebook for the ebook companies—Amazon, Apple, Kindle. It’s going viral this book.


[00:59:13] Ashley James: I love it, and now you have a new DVD that just came out. If we were to watch it, what would we learn?


[00:59:19] Dr. Joel Wallach: Okay, the new DVD, Is Your Doctor Killing You? It goes into these things that are supposed to be genetic, supposed to be autoimmune, and so forth. They’re really just nutritional deficiencies. This was a Zoom video. It started out as a Zoom video. The person who interviewed me—like you’re doing now—was an academic pharmacist. It’s one of those things where Pharmacist Keith Abell, he was really on me when I was saying I can cure this, I can cure this, I can cure this. I always give references to make him satisfied.

While we’re doing the Zoom, he goes online—he’s a techie—and he gets that article and he puts the cover page with the abstract and the authors in the title on it right next to my face. When you look at this Zoom, you’re getting the reference right next to my face on this DVD, Is Your Doctor Killing You? Of course, he is. And then, of course, we have the two CDs set—two one-hour CDs, and it was a two-hour lecture. I was lecturing to a big church up in Baltimore, Maryland with Linda. It was such audience participation. There were 1000 people in that church. It was really great.

Those are the two new tools, Is Your Doctor Killing You? It goes along with the book Rare Earths: Forbidden Cures, and of course, the new book is It’s All In Your Head.


[01:01:03] Ashley James: Thank you. Very good. Now, recently, it just launched a few months ago, and I’ve already had several of my listeners participate. There’s a health coach program—it’s all online and it’s very, very affordable. Anyone, you don’t have to have any previous knowledge about holistic health. It goes through and teaches them exactly what your protocols are and how to help yourself, your friends, your family, but also, it’s great for health coaches. It’s great for even naturopathic doctors or any kind of doctor could go through this protocol, go through this health course. They can learn exactly your protocols, and you have these four categories. It goes through the list of the different symptoms and then it relates back to the nutrient deficiencies.

I love that you saw this, that you saw that when you did all of these autopsies and the millions of histopathologies and blood panels, you’re able to see that nutrient deficiency was the root cause of 900 diseases, and that each disease you could replicate. You could see either in animals. If you starved an animal of a nutrient, you could predict what disease they would get based on the nutrient they were not getting—same with humans. You could see certain symptoms—exterior symptoms. I use the examples of cracked heels because it’s so common, but that there are many symptoms that an MD would not consider relevant, and that these symptoms are actually red flags showing us that we have nutrient deficiency.


[01:03:01] Dr. Joel Wallach: That’s correct.


[01:03:02] Ashley James: In terms of this course, the best way to go about joining it is to go to because once you communicate with us, then we set you on that path and help you to sign up and learn all of Dr. Wallach’s protocols. Done in a really easy to use way, which I’m very excited about because I have been studying your work. How I learned the protocols is you’ve been doing radio shows for many years answering questions.


[01:03:35] Dr. Joel Wallach: Thirty years.


[01:03:34] Ashley James: Right, I went back and I listened to all the recordings I could find. Every day, eight hours a day, I would put them on. In my first year and a half working with the supplements, I had it playing in my house and I would listen to every single archive I could get my hands on. I’d hear the problem and then I’d try to predict the different course of action that you’d help them take. What’s really cool is that listening to it—because I listened to several episodes in one day—a few months later, someone would call back. They would say, okay, I don’t have MS anymore but I’m calling for my sister.

So many people would call back and tell you that they’ve had progress, or they’d come back and they’d say, okay, my migraines are gone but my hands are still shaking. You’d correct their protocol. All this information has been put together in a really easy to use, easy to understand, and easy to learn way. Do you have time to answer a few questions for the listeners?


[01:04:37] Dr. Joel Wallach: Absolutely. I have one thing I need to do first and that is to thank you so much for putting together that training. I just appreciate you, respect you, and look forward to working with you for the next couple hundred years.


[01:04:52] Ashley James: Well, that’s it. When my husband and I learned from you almost 10 years ago, and you said we have the genetic potential to live to be 120, my husband and I are like let’s do this. We’re going to do this. Let’s do this. Let’s live to be 120. We’re right there with you. I’m very, very excited about that.


[01:05:10] Dr. Joel Wallach: Okay, thank you so much.


[01:05:13] Ashley James: Absolutely, you’re very welcome. Mike Park is one of our listeners whose son has an SCI. He got a fever and all of a sudden his legs stopped working. They think it was a viral infection of his nervous system, and he has neuropathy. He would like to know, is there a protocol that you know that can help stimulate the neurogenesis nerve growth factor and help with neuropathy in people with SCI?


[01:05:47] Dr. Joel Wallach: He’s got low back stuff, is that what it is?


[01:05:53] Ashley James: He’s like a five-year-old child who no longer has use of his legs because of this, I believe, a viral infection that happened to his spinal cord.


[01:06:04] Dr. Joel Wallach: It may just be osteoporosis of the skull because newborn babies can have osteoporosis in the skull. When you read this book, it’ll make you weep and cry. He’s five years old. I bet his skull is squeezing his spinal cord is what’s going on here.


[01:06:19] Ashley James: Fascinating.


[01:06:22] Dr. Joel Wallach: Yeah. It makes you take a deep breath, doesn’t it?


[01:06:24] Ashley James: Really does.


[01:06:27] Dr. Joel Wallach: Do we have any idea how much this little kid weighs?


[01:06:31] Ashley James: Probably about 40 pounds.


[01:08:36] Dr. Joel Wallach: Okay, so let’s get him off all the bad foods. Everybody in the family’s got to get rid of fried food, processed meats, oils, glutens, wheat, barley, rye, oats, and sugar. He’s got to live like an Asian. Live on rice, sweet potatoes, and millets. You can make bread, pancakes, waffles, and all kinds of stuff out of rice, sweet potatoes, or white potatoes. You can have all that, okay. And the vegetables and the fish. I like the smoked Alaska salmon. I have that almost every morning for breakfast. That’s a good thing, plus my three poached eggs, soft yolks, and so on. I do have rice. I have three ice cream scoops full of rice, and then I have all my pills, my liquids, and so forth.

Let’s say this kid weighs 40, 50 pounds. Let’s get him one Healthy Brain and Heart Pack that’ll last him two months because it’ll be a half a dose of everything every day, so he’ll get a quarter of a dose of everything at breakfast and dinner. I also want him to have the MSM. I want him to take three MSM a day, one with each meal. That bottle of MSM’s going to last two months. I also want them to get vitamin D3. I want them to take three of those twice a day, so it’ll be two bottles of vitamin D3. I want him to have the Glucogel. He can have liquid Glucogel. It’d be an ounce twice a day, put it into his shake. Or if he wants the capsules, he could take five capsules twice a day.

Of course, he needs to be using our pink Himalayan salt. When they go out and eat, he can take what we call the mineral caps. One capsule of mineral caps has the same amount of minerals in it as one ounce of the liquid minerals. And then I want them to have six eggs a day. You can put them in a shake, you can have them soft boiled, soft poached, soft scrambled with butter, or you can whip them up with a blender and put them in one of her protein shakes. Because this kid, he had an infection they said that caused his problem.


[01:08:36] Ashley James: Yes. He is about five years old and the infection happened. I believe it was about a year ago, so he’s now in a wheelchair.


[01:08:43] Dr. Joel Wallach: So it happened when he was already four years old. Let’s see what happens in 90 days by doing all this. He’s got to make sure there’s no gluten in his life. No wheat, barley, rye, and oats. No cheat day. No one cheat meal a month—no gluten. Everybody, all the other brothers and sisters, mom and dad. Everybody’s got to get rid of gluten. You need to ask him did he have any skin problems as well—eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, rosacea? Does he ever complain about ringing in his ears or tinnitus?


[01:09:19] Ashley James: So if he complains of ringing in his ears that would be one of the symptoms of the osteoporosis of the skull.


[01:09:25] Dr. Joel Wallach: That’s correct.


[01:09:26] Ashley James: And then the skin problem, is that gluten-related?


[01:09:30] Dr. Joel Wallach: Yeah, the gluten causes damage to the villi in the intestines, so you cannot absorb nutrients. And the nutrient is missing when you get eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, rosacea. You get things like irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, diverticulitis. All those types of diseases are caused by a deficiency of the same nutrient that causes eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, and rosacea. Same nutrient deficiency causes all that. And then when you have damaged your intestines—I want to get into it if we have time. I want to get into a little bit of the COVID-19. But this kid has a great possibility of recovering 100%.


[01:10:25] Ashley James: I’m very excited about that.


[01:10:28] Dr. Joel Wallach: You’ll know within six months.


[01:10:32] Ashley James: Excellent. We’ll definitely follow up. Mike has been an active listener and a member of our Learn True Health Facebook group, and he’s been sharing his son’s journey. I’m excited to help Mike get on that protocol. For everyone who’s listening, please go to to get on these protocols that Dr. Wallach is talking about.

The next question is can we fix lazy eye or weak eye muscles? Is there a way to support eye health and reverse lazy eye?


[01:11:03] Dr. Joel Wallach: And how old is this person?


[01:11:05] Ashley James: You know what, I don’t know. They submitted it in the group, and looking at her picture, she looks to be in her 30s.


[01:11:17] Dr. Joel Wallach: Well, the fourth cranial nerves and the sixth cranial nerves are the ones that control the eyes and muscles. If you have osteoporosis of the skull, you get a lazy eye because it’s squeezing those nerves.


[01:11:28] Ashley James: I’m really starting to grasp how prevalent these problems are. The osteoporosis of the skulls is producing so many problems because it’s a nutrient deficiency. 


[01:11:44] Dr. Joel Wallach: Yeah, well it is a mineral deficiency. It is nutrient deficiency. I mean, how many doctors have told their patients, look, you have osteoporosis of the skull that’s why you have Bell’s palsy. No, they just say we’re going to give you steroids. They’ll get some benefit for a while, but it’ll come right back because they haven’t dealt with a basic problem.


[01:12:01] Ashley James: So then the problem isn’t a weak eye muscle, it’s that the nerve is being impinged and it’s sending a weak signal?


[01:12:09] Dr. Joel Wallach: Either sending a weak signal or an overactive signal.


[01:12:14] Ashley James: Very interesting.


[01:12:15] Dr. Joel Wallach: Either one.


[01:12:18] Ashley James: So your approach for her would be to follow a protocol that supports healthy bones and joints?


[01:12:26] Dr. Joel Wallach: Yeah. You don’t know how much this lady weighs or anything?


[01:12:31] Ashley James: I do not.


[01:12:32] Dr. Joel Wallach: Let’s say for 100 pounds of body weight, one Healthy Brain and Heart pack. Five Glucogel capsules twice a day. MSM, three of those tablets twice a day. Just in case, I would also throw in the Ultimate Daily Classic tablets for circulation in the brain, three of those twice a day.


[01:12:56] Ashley James: Excellent. Thank you. Lauren wants to know about raising estrogen and testosterone in herself naturally. Her doctor says her estrogen and her testosterone is low. What can we do to balance and increase healthy hormone levels?


[01:13:15] Dr. Joel Wallach: How old is she? What does she weigh?


[01:13:17] Ashley James: I do not know what she weighs, but she looks to be in her late 20s.


[01:13:24] Dr. Joel Wallach: Okay, so young person. Well, again, she got to get rid of gluten. Got to get rid of all the fried foods, processed meats, oils, glutens, wheat, barley, rye, and oats, and absolutely no sugar. And then per 100 pounds of body weight, give her one healthy brain and heart pack for a month, three eggs with soft yolks twice a day—hard-boiled eggs won’t count because 95% of estrogen is cholesterol, 95% of testosterone is cholesterol. Avoiding cholesterol and taking statin drugs will make these things happen in people. I’m avoiding cholesterol because my family all had issues with their heart, well your doctor needs to be put in jail. Anyway, then they also need the D-Stress capsule, take those twice a day. Ultimate Niacin Plus, one of those twice a day. Anything going on with the brain and spinal cord needs to have the Ultimate Daily Classic tablets.

Now, there’s one other thing that has to be done for the testosterone and the estrogen. We have a product called XeraTest, which is the food for the Sertoli cells and testicles that make the testosterone. They need the cholesterol and all the 90 nutrients to be able to work, don’t waste your money on the XeraTest if you’re not giving them the 90 cents of nutrients and the eggs, the cheese, and so on. And then the same thing is true for the female part for the estrogen and progesterone. They need XeraFem. Let’s see here, I can personally testify. I’m 81 years old, and I look like I’m 50, I sound like I’m 50. And sexually, I act like I’m 25.


[01:15:29] Ashley James: That’s a very important point to make. Many men, in their 30s and 40s, are experiencing erectile dysfunction, and it’s a nutrient deficiency.


[01:15:37] Dr. Joel Wallach: That’s correct. Especially cholesterol. Remember, testosterone is 95%, by weight, cholesterol. So they got to give up the statin drugs. What they need to do is wrap up the statin drugs and give them to their doctor with love.


[01:15:56] Ashley James: Here, you take these if they’re so good for you.


[01:15:59] Dr. Joel Wallach: Yeah. I was going to give them to somebody else because I’m going in another direction here, but I thought, who do I really think a lot? I’ll give them to you, doc. Please take them.


[01:16:11] Ashley James: So funny. I love it. I love that we could take someone who is struggling with hormones and show them through food and through supplements they can easily balance it. That’s exactly what happened to me. Leslie says she has scleroderma, right heart failure, and pulmonary hypertension. She’s been vegetarian for several years eating not junk food but very healthy food. She’s 117 pounds and 5’7”, and she says her autoimmune disease is progressing. She would love to support her body in no longer having these problems.


[01:16:50] Dr. Joel Wallach: Okay, we can do that. Get rid of all the bad food. No fried food, no processed meats, no oils, no glutens—wheat, barley, rye, and oats, no sugar, and everybody in the household—dog, cat, bird, fish, spouse, renter, roommate, mom, dad, brother, and kids. Everybody’s going to be drop-dead gluten-free because what do vegetarians eat a lot of?


[01:17:13] Ashley James: Gluten, a lot of it.


[01:17:16] Dr. Joel Wallach: Grain. There you go. That’s why she has all these diseases that doctors are telling her are autoimmune because even if she was supplementing, she can’t absorb it because her villi are gone out of her intestines. I’m going to tell you a story here. I don’t think I told you this yet. There’s a guy by the name of Herman Cain. Did I tell you that story?


[01:17:42] Ashley James: Oh, gosh. The name sounds so familiar. Go ahead and tell the listeners.


[01:17:45] Dr. Joel Wallach: Well, Herman Cain, CEO of Godfather’s Pizza. On the last day of June of 2020, he was diagnosed with COVID-19. He’s a billionaire, 74 years old, and he had respiratory symptoms. They put them in a hospital, they’re giving him oxygen, and they’re giving him IVs of antiviral drugs. On the 29th of July, 29 days after they put him in the hospital, he died. He’s a billionaire. CEO of Godfather’s Pizza. He has all the free pizza he can get. Gluten alert, gluten alert, gluten alert—the crust. He also had five pre-existing conditions because of the gluten, he couldn’t absorb nutrients. I don’t know if he was supplementing or not because they didn’t say in the newspaper releases.

But when they did the autopsy three days later after he died, they said he didn’t have a respiratory infection, which is what they were treating him for but he did have respiratory distress clinically but he didn’t have respiratory pneumonia from the virus or anything. Well, that’s because the capillaries in his lungs were filled with clusters of a weird plot of red blood cells that didn’t have platelets in them. Well, he didn’t have any platelets because his bone marrow is dead because he couldn’t get nutrition because his intestines are dead because he’s been eating gluten—pizza pie crust for 35 years.


[01:19:37] Ashley James: Just fascinating.


[01:19:40] Dr. Joel Wallach: Yeah. If they’d have gotten him gluten-free, gotten him on the 90. If he still wanted pizza, he could have pizza, but it had to have cauliflower gluten-free crust.


[01:19:55] Ashley James: But people say, oh I tried going gluten-free I didn’t notice anything. It’s not something you feel a difference like a peanut allergy. You’re removing something that’s doing damage to the microvilli of the small intestines, you eliminate it completely, and then your intestines then grow back and become strong, especially if you’re supplementing.


[01:20:19] Dr. Joel Wallach: And you have to have the 90.


[01:20:22] Ashley James: Right. And then, like you said, if you’ve been eating gluten, then over time, your bone marrow can’t produce platelets in a healthy way. Your immune system can’t function in a healthy way, and we end up getting autoimmune conditions and inflammatory conditions, but the root of it is a nutrient deficiency and eating foods that are doing damage to the body and the ability for the body to absorb nutrition.


[01:20:47] Dr. Joel Wallach: Here we go, Ashley, when you have these types of diseases, things like cortisone and prednisone can give you some temporary relief. I just love my doctor. Man I had skin problems all my life and he gave me prednisone and cortisone and the itching went away overnight. Within two weeks’ time, the skin problem was gone. Three months later they die.


[01:21:15] Ashley James: Of course, it would temporarily go away. They’re treating symptoms, not getting to the root cause.


[01:21:20] Dr. Joel Wallach: Exactly.


[01:21:21] Ashley James: Right. Dr. Wallach, thank you so much. We’re going to have you back on the show for sure because more questions have poured in from the listeners. I’d love to have you back on and to continue to share this information. You are a godsend. The work you do is absolutely amazing.

There’s so much confusion in the nutrient world. What I love about your message is it’s science-based and you are backed by so many years of results. I’ve met thousands of people, myself personally, who have gotten results with you, and you’ve helped millions of people. We just have to get this information out there that we can prevent disease, we can reverse disease, we can prevent birth defects, and we can help ourselves. But also help the planet through proper mineralization and through making sure we’re avoiding the bad foods and ingesting the 90 essential nutrients.

Please, listeners, go to to get on Dr. Wallach’s protocol, to learn more about how you can actually become certified as a health coach learning everything about Dr. Wallach’s protocols. Thank you so much. Is there anything that you’d like to say, Dr. Wallach, to wrap up today’s interview?


[01:22:33] Dr. Joel Wallach: Well, I just want to thank you so much, Ashley. You’re an angel of God. I’m just so proud of you and your husband, all the things you guys do. I’m just blessed that you would ask me to participate with you. We will do great things together, and it’ll be one of those things where right now people are also looking for things to do because of the COVID and they’re being laid off. We’re looking for help. I’m glad you’re working to get these people going. I’m willing to participate and help you do what you’re doing.

Of course, we have all the textbooks, CDs and DVDs, and everything like that. It’ll be one of those things where everybody’s going to get the same answer to the same question. They don’t have to be scared and say, oh my God. I don’t know. I’ve never heard of that disease. Well, look it up in Let’s Play Herbal Doctor, Rare Earths: Forbidden Cures, or Epigenetics. Look it up in those books and you’ll find the answers of what it is and then how to deal with it. It’s one of those things where you cannot fail. We’ve been doing this for 50 years. We’ve been doing this for 50 years. We have literally millions and millions and millions of people all over the world, and that’s why we have to travel so much and do worldwide Zooms and so forth. I can’t thank you enough for all the people you’re helping, Ashley. God bless you and your husband. Thank you.


[01:23:55] Ashley James: I hope you enjoyed today’s interview with Dr. Joel Wallach. Check out, talk to us for free. Let us help you get on his protocol, and also join the Learn True Health Facebook group because you can ask Dr. Wallach your questions when I have him back on the show next. Thank you so much for being a listener. Thank you so much for sharing these episodes with those you care about.

There are so many amazing episodes on so many fantastic topics. You can go to, use the search function on my website. Most of my episodes now have been transcribed, so you can even read through the transcripts. You can listen to the episodes, you can read through the interviews, and you can search through the content to find what you want to learn about. And also, if you have a friend or family member with an illness, an injury, or disease, or a health question, you can use the search function both in the Facebook group and on my website to find information to share with those you care about.

I can’t talk highly enough about, so please, go there if you haven’t already. Try it for 30 days. Just try especially the liquid minerals. Give them a try, or just get on the 90 essential nutrients for a month. It’s fantastic. I’ve even had clients stop drinking coffee and no longer even need coffee because they got so much natural energy because the body—when it’s lacking energy and it says get a coffee, an energy drink, or eat more sugar, it’s really desperate for nutrition. When you start to fill up those nutrient tanks with your vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals, it’s amazing how much energy you will get from that. Just give it a try. It’s pretty fantastic. It has really changed my life and all my clients rave about it. I know you will too.

And hey, if you want to hear from those listeners who have been working with, come join the Facebook group and ask or use the search function. There have been a ton of listeners who have shared that they’ve had a great experience working with and Dr. Wallach’s supplements. Awesome. Thank you so much. Stay tuned. We have some really exciting episodes coming up in the coming weeks. I can’t wait for you to hear them. Have yourself a fantastic rest of your day.


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Mineral Deficiency: Root Cause of Diseases – Dr. Joel Wallach & Ashley James – #447

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Kathleen Trotter And Ashley James


  • Using data to set up systems
  • Know what you’re putting in your body
  • Guilt versus shame
  • Polyvagal theory
  • Motion is non-negotiable
  • Four different fitness personalities

Is there something in your life that you need to improve? Do you want to be the best version of you? In this episode, Kathleen Trotter teaches us different ways to become a better version of ourselves. She talks about how journaling can help, listing out past data, and creating systems to help us become a better version of ourselves no matter what our goal is.


Hello, true health seekers and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. Today, we have Kathleen Trotter on the show. I’m very excited for you to learn from her. She is giving away a spot in one of her upcoming courses, and it’s very exciting. So as you’re listening today and you think, I would love to learn from Kathleen, you could actually enter to win a free spot in her upcoming class. It’s an online, interactive group coaching class.

Please go to our Facebook group, Learn True Health Facebook group. There you will see a pin to the top. In the next few weeks, you’ll see a post to be able to be one of the winners. I ask that you share some unique insight that you really love learning today in the comments. I’ll have my 5 ½-year-old son pick at random a lucky listener from one of the comments. It would just be a wonderful opportunity. I just love it when guests give some of their work to us. Gift their books or gift a spot in their courses. I think that’s quite wonderful.

Now, as you’re listening to Kathleen today and you think, I would love to do the kind of work she’s doing. I’d love to do the kind of work Ashley James is doing. I’d love to be able to help people as a health coach. Help them gain more joy in their life, joy in their body, and joy with their food—consider becoming a holistic health coach. Consider becoming an integrative health coach. You can get a free module by going to That’s and sign up for the free module to see if health coaching is right for you. Take the free module and you’ll know if it’s something that you’d love to do either for yourself or to improve the health of yourself, your friends, and your family. To add new tools to your tool belt, or to even start a new career.

What I love about IIN is that in the first half of the course, you are taught how to be a fantastic health coach. And then in the second half, in addition to learning how to be a fantastic health coach, you actually begin to already work with clients. So you’re still in the program, still able to be mentored while you’re working with clients, and they teach you how to build a successful coaching business. So if you’ve never even started a business before, and you don’t know if you’re confident enough to have those tools, know that their course teaches you how to do it. And it’s about coming from the heart and wanting to help people and getting such satisfaction from helping people.

So visit or—either one—and you will get the fee module and check it out. If you have more questions, you can email me, [email protected], or just google IIN, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and ask some questions. Most of the time, those who answer the phones there are health coaches themselves that have been through the program and are really great in answering questions and giving you all the right information you need. The course was designed for very busy people, especially busy moms. You know that no matter how busy you are, you’re able to finish their online program to become an integrative health coach.

As you talk to IIN know that you’re given fantastic savings by being a Learn True Health listener. That’s something I was really honored that they were able to offer my listeners. Make sure you mention my name, Ashley James, and the Learn True Health podcast for fantastic savings. Once in a while, they have great specials as well. It’s good to plug in if you’re interested in becoming a health coach. It’s good to communicate with them and get all your questions answered. 

And If you’re not interested in becoming a health coach but you are interested in gaining more tools for health, of course, Kathleen Trotter, our wonderful guest today, is going to teach you many things. You should absolutely follow her. She has some great information. But also, I recommend joining my membership, the Learn True Health Home Kitchen

I go into the kitchen with my dear friend Naomi, and we show you how to cook healing foods and beverages that are wonderful for the whole family. You don’t have to be completely vegan to eat this food, although we teach you how to eat more plants, and you can incorporate that into your life. You’re going to get more fiber, you’re going to get more vitamins, you’re going to get more nutrients into your life by joining Learn True Health Home Kitchen and following our delicious, wholesome, and healing recipes. So check that out. You can just go to and on the top, on the menu, you’ll see join the home kitchen. Check that out.

Also, there’s a discount for listeners. Use the coupon code LTH. Thank you so much for being a listener. Thank you so much for sharing this podcast with those you care about. I look forward to seeing you in the Facebook group. Come join us here. Have yourself a fantastic rest of your day and enjoy today’s interview.

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

[00:05:36] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 446. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have Kathleen Trotter on the show. Her website is, and of course, links to everything that Kathleen does is going to be on the show notes of today’s podcast at Kathleen has a master’s in exercise science, and she’s a life and nutrition coach, which is really exciting because you encompass behavior, change, and looking at the person’s whole life when it comes to helping them do the best exercise routines for them.

Now you also have interesting specialties in fascial work. I mean, I just love it. I look down on your bio, and I love all the different training that you’ve been through. You’ve been doing this for over 20 years, you’ve written two books.


[00:06:34] Kathleen Trotter: I love it, really, and it changed my life—health and wellness—so I want it to change other people’s. I have this thing about the health discourse, and it’s too much framed on making people feel about themselves. It’s about how you should be somebody else, and it’s like no, you should be yourself. Thrive in your lane, but just be the strongest, most energetic, and healthiest version of you that you can be. And I think that’s why I try to look and learn as much as possible because the body is super cool. But it’s really complex and there are so many variables that go into who we are and why we change, right?

It’s not enough to just know the information. I mean, most of us know it. It’s like drink more water, exercise more. It’s all these shoulds—well do this, do that. And too often, we should all over ourselves without actually being well, what do I want to do? What would make me happy? What’s realistic? It might not be realistic to run every day for you because of injuries or time. The benefits of the best workout or best nutrition program are moot if you can’t actually make yourself do it.

It’s about thriving in your own lane and figuring out what’s right for you. But in order to do that, you kind of have to know yourself enough to know do I like having a shake in the morning, or would I rather have eggs? Or is it too crazy in the morning to have eggs at all and should I be having little egg cups that I make on a Sunday? I mean, that sounds like a silly example, but that in itself can be the difference between making a sustainable change about your healthy breakfast or not. If you say, well, every morning I’m going to have eggs and then every morning you wake up and you’re like oh man. I got five kids to get to school and they need breakfast and they hate eggs. Well, it’s just not going to happen. You got to do you, know you, and just consistency and realistic expectations.


[00:08:22] Ashley James: Before we hit record, we were talking about how the motivation to make healthy changes or the motivation to create a new fitness program is short-lived. We oftentimes will come from a place of emotion, right? Feeling guilty, feeling like we should do this, then all of a sudden feeling inspired. We could maybe watch a TV show about health and all of a sudden feel inspired. I remember so many times watching the Biggest Loser or the finale of the Biggest Loser and seeing these really buff chicks. I’m like, okay, I’m getting to the gym tomorrow. When you look at the statistics of gym memberships, there’s a huge spike in January, and then by March they’re cut in half and the attendance goes down and down and down and down, and then it goes back up right after the holidays.

We see that there are difficulties in forming healthy habits as a society around fitness, but also the idea of what is fitness? Is it heavily sweating in the gym on a treadmill, and is that really right for everyone? You understand how the body works and what’s best for unique people, right? We all need different things, and so that’s one of the things you specialize in is teaching people how they can create a fitness routine that brings them joy, that makes them want to want to get up and do it every day, but also would be the healthiest thing for them.

I can’t tell you how many times I injured myself pushing myself in the gym because it wasn’t really the right training for my body.


[00:10:08] Kathleen Trotter: Absolutely. Well, let me go back to where you started because there are so many amazing concepts that you just threw out, which are awesome, but let’s unpack it a bit. Motivation has to be thought of as akin to an emotion, which means emotions come and go. You get angry, you get sad. The half-life of an emotion is a couple of seconds and then it’s gone. It’s very fast. So what you want to do is if you are in that motivated state, you watch the Biggest Loser or it’s January 1, that’s great. Use that, but use it to create systems for the future you that is going to be sad, that is going to be frustrated, and that is going to be angry. So then, when you have those moments of low motivation, you don’t fall off your horse.

I guess it’s a matter of going back to realistic expectations. You have to know that you are human. You’re not perfect, none of us are perfect. You’re not a robot. Thank God. We don’t want robots. We want human beings, and human beings are messy, we’re emotional, and that’s one of our best qualities, but it also means that it’s easy for us to fall off our horse. Okay, a couple of weeks down the road we’ve got the gym membership after January 1, and then we get angry at our spouse or our kids or our boss and we’re just like screw it. I’m not going to go to the gym. And then you end up going home, you binge on some food, you feel kind of crappy, and then that starts this negative downward spiral.

So you have to, on January 1, instead of just thinking oh my goodness, I feel amazing right now. And then assuming you’re always going to feel amazing, you have to say, oh I feel amazing right now. That’s great. Let’s harness that feeling of amazing motivation, and let’s use it to create some systems. I know for the last 10 years in a row, by the third week of January, I’m no longer going to the gym. Okay, great. That’s amazing data. Now, how do I use that data from past years to help future me?

I think that’s one really key thing is just using your past history of what you like, what you don’t like, what works, what doesn’t, and then you create some systems. If you know that in the past you’ve always been really successful when you’ve had a gym buddy, then maybe have one. And if you can’t go right now with somebody to a gym because of COVID, then maybe you have an accountability buddy that you do over email, or maybe you go for walk and talks with your buddy in your ear. If you know that you really love Pilates, then find an online Pilates class. If you know you hate yoga, so then maybe don’t do yoga. Use what you know about yourself when you’re successful to set up a plan, but you have to set up the system.

Why don’t I give you an example? I love fudge bars, and I use this example all the time because I think it’s really, really common. You’re in the grocery store, and I’ll be standing next to the frozen food aisle. I’ll just be thinking, I can buy the bars. You know Kathleen, you’re a personal trainer. You’re going to get home. You’ll be fine. You’re dedicated, you have willpower. You just won’t eat them. The problem is after years of doing this, what I know is the future me at 11:00 PM at night when I’m really tired, I’ve worked a full day, I can’t resist those fudge bars.

So what I have done is a system where I don’t allow them to come into my home because I just love them too much, but I buy them and I always leave a box at my mom’s. If I want one, I can walk over. We can have a visit, I can enjoy one bar but I don’t binge on six bars at a time and then feel frustrated with myself. The systems are what you set up in the future for the future you.

If you know you need to work out in the morning because that’s what works for your schedule but you hate working out in the morning, then maybe you have to set out your workout clothes the night before so they’re there. I actually sleep in my workout clothes often if I know that I have to work out really early. This morning, I had to do my workout about 5:000 AM in the morning, so I slept in my workout clothes because it’s one less thing between me and my workout. You take out as much friction as possible, you take it away. You make those healthy habits as convenient as possible. You make your unhealthy habits as inconvenient as possible.

Put your alarm clock across the room so you have to get out of bed and turn it off versus just hitting the snooze button. Take all the crap out of your house because if it’s in your house, you or somebody you love will eventually eat it. One of the things that work is understanding this idea of present bias. The brain has many cognitive distortions that normally trick us a little bit. They trick us unconsciously. It’s not that we think, oh, I’m going to trick myself. It’s that we don’t understand until we become mindful of it that the brain feels that however we feel at this moment is how we’re always going to feel. Meaning, January 1 you think, I feel really motivated, without having to consciously think, oh well therefore I will always feel motivated.

That’s what your brain thinks, but you have to say to the brain well, no, I’m not going to always feel motivated. What are the systems? But it also goes the other way that when you wake up in the morning, it’s 5:00 AM, and you’re tired, your brain thinks oh my God, I’m always going to be tired. Because you’re tired at that moment. Okay, well I always snooze my alarm too many times in the morning, so my system is to set the alarm across the room. And then, I also have to have the self-talk ready to say okay self, you feel tired at this moment but future you will feel better. That’s something I get my clients to work with all the time. It’s just this taking a pause and realizing that the moment that you’re in is not going to last.

Emotions, as we talked about earlier, they dissipate. You feel something else. That’s the key to the emotion and the emotional wave. How you surf that emotional wave is so important because we all have moments of low motivation. There are lots of times I don’t want to work out. There are lots of times I want to eat tons and tons of chocolate, but I don’t have chocolate in my house. I have systems set up that nudge me towards the healthier choices, and I’ve learned a lot. This has been 20 years that I’ve been in the fitness field. I use every experience as data to help my future self. It’s a slow process, right? It’s not just like a pass-fail thing. You don’t automatically become healthy and then it’s easy. It’s always a struggle, and I wasn’t born fit either.

I think that’s also really key is I know that for the first half of my life I lived, I felt really ashamed of my body I had a lot of body shame. I did anything to get out of gym class. I never moved. I was overweight. I had to learn these systems. It never came naturally to me. Everybody listening, if you’re thinking, oh my God, Kathleen sounds like she’s got this all figured out. Believe you me, it has taken a long time, and I still struggle. I struggle, struggle, struggle, but it gets a little bit easier every single day as you learn more skills and as you learn to just say future me is going to be happier if I work out. I never regret a workout, and the future me is going to be happier if I have some water and I just take a moment to take a pause and think. What’s going to serve me at this moment? I don’t know. Do you have a trick? Do you have a system? Do you have a favorite system?


[00:17:00] Ashley James: I love what you just said about I never regret a workout. I love that.


[00:17:06] Kathleen Trotter: That’s so true.


[00:17:07] Ashley James: I do the future you feel better. Actually, what I do is when I’m lying in bed, just waking up, I imagine myself an hour later. An hour later I’m going to feel so good. I imagine myself already awake. I have a very comfortable bed. My mattress is the best mattress in the world. I actually interviewed the founder of the company that created this mattress. It has space-age technology. It’s like NASA technology in it, and it makes it so there’s no pressure points—absolutely no pressure points. It doesn’t matter how much you weigh, it doesn’t matter what shape you are in. It actually is used to heal stage four bedsores—this technology—because it takes 100% of the pressure off and evenly distributes your body, so no matter what position you’re in, your spine is perfectly aligned. When I wake up, I’m floating on the cloud.


[00:18:02] Kathleen Trotter: You want to stay in bed. You’re like, I don’t want to move at all.


[00:18:03] Ashley James: If you’ve ever had a mattress where you wake up in the morning and you’re sore because you want to get out of that bed because it’s like, oh I’ve been lying in bed too long. I’m sore. That does not happen with my bed. You could stay in this bed for 24 hours. You’re not going to be sore from staying in this bed. When I wake up, every fiber of my being wants to continue to enjoy the comfort of this bed. I’m still a little tired. I’m groggy. I’m just waking up. But you know what, since I’ve done so many things for my health over the years, I have more and more and more energy in the morning, which really helps to get up.

So going to bed early, not eating late at night. Even doing a bit of intermittent fasting where I push supper back to 5:00 PM or 6:00 PM and then no snacking afterward. So you go to bed on an empty stomach. Drink enough water, so drink like 120 ounces of water a day, but finish that 120 ounces by about 6:00 PM so that you have enough time to pee before bed. But go to bed at 10:00 PM because the circadian rhythm gets totally thrown off and we have a huge cortisol spike. Therefore insulin is then affected. Then we have a blood sugar imbalance if we stay up past 10:00 PM. It doesn’t matter what time zone you’re in. Something magical about 10:00 PM has a cortisol spike if we continue to stay up past 10:00 PM.

So when I go to bed before 10:00 PM—falling asleep around 10:00 PM—I wake up in the morning with way more energy, way more vitality, no inflammation, and it’s easier to get out of bed. But there’s a little voice in my head that goes oh, this feels so good. Let’s just stay here. Or oh, I’m tired. Maybe I could fall back asleep, hit the snooze button. I have to imagine myself after I’ve gotten up, gone to the bathroom and put clothing on. That future me an hour from now is ready, pumped, and doing the day already. I’m like, yeah, I want to be my future self. Let’s get out of bed.


[00:20:09] Kathleen Trotter: I think you said a number of things that are really important, but I want to highlight the biggest thing is that you have got a lot of data about yourself. I think that with health, the problem is that we listen to people like you and me, and then you think oh my God, they have it all figured out. But we have it figured out because we’ve done a lot of trial and error. And this is really important. If anybody’s listening, if you get one thing from this, it’s that you don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to get great.

So all the things you just said like you know you need to be in bed by 10:00 PM. You know intermittent fasting works for you. You know how much waterworks at what time. Well, that’s all great, but that comes from years of figuring it out and what works for you, and everyone’s going to be slightly different.

So for me, I definitely do windows of intermittent fasting as well, but I also work out very early in the morning. So 5:00 PM would be too early a cut off for me because then for me, personally, I won’t feel strong in my workout the next morning. So I think the trick with people listening is there’s no right or wrong. I mean, there are definitely principles that are important, but we can really get in our own way when we think that things have to be perfect. When we’re listening to a podcast and we’re like, okay, I got to be done eating by 5:00 PM. I got to be asleep by 10:00 PM. I have to do this much. You have to figure out what works for you, but you can’t figure out what works for you until you actually try stuff.

Be okay with your messiness. Again, I go back to we’re human, but more than that, think of life as like this science experiment. Everything you do is data. So if you do a workout that you hate, that’s great. Now you know you don’t like that workout. If you end up staying up and eating a little bit too much food and then you feel kind of gross and you can’t sleep, great. Don’t do that again. That doesn’t work. If you decide to work out every single morning and then listen to your kids get you up and you can’t work out in the morning and you have to do it at lunchtime, great. That’s data.

The trick is to have this really fine line of having compassion for your compassion for yourself but also holding yourself accountable. So it’s not like oh, I ate at 11:00 PM at night. Oh, this made me feel crappy. Oh, well, I’ll do it again because Kathleen told me to love myself. No, I ate at 11:00 PM. Oh wow, I can’t sleep. Okay, so interesting. Kathleen told me to love myself. If I love myself, I really need a good night’s sleep. So how do I figure out how to eat a little bit earlier?

It’s this really tricky thing of you act, then you analyze the action, and then you implement that action. But you have to act in order to analyze. Don’t get caught up on all the things we’re talking about and then just basically be like oh, screw it. I’ll never be as good as them, or I’ll never get it all figured out. I’m just going to stay in bed. To create an evening routine takes some work.

I just started intermittent fasting. I do it more just like I call it the close the kitchen window after a certain time. I never eat after 8:00 PM. Normally, I don’t eat after about 6:30 PM, 7:00 PM. But the thing about it is I didn’t do that until a couple of years ago, and I didn’t realize how great it made me feel until I started doing it. So if I’d done this podcast three years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to say like yeah I completely agree. That feels amazing. But if I had tried it and I hadn’t liked it, guess what, I then wouldn’t do it. So you try something. You try a Zumba class. If it doesn’t work, hey, it’s not for you. Try going out for a jog. You don’t like it, you had a bad route, or bad running shoes—it’s data. And then you have to decide what stays and what you ditch. 

James Clear has this really lovely quote that you have to standardize before you can optimize, and that’s really key because we all get into optimization before we get the basics down. Just start drinking some water. It might not be “enough.” It might not be as much as I would drink or Ashley James would drink, but you know what, if it’s more than what you did yesterday, it’s trending positively. And then you can figure out maybe you need a little bit more or a little bit less. Yes, maybe over five servings of vegetables would be great. But if you’re eating zero right now, start with one.

Start, standardize, and figure out what works for you. Know that each of the choices that you make can change tomorrow. First of all, as you learn, not only can they change, but they should change as you get older, as your goals change, as you evolve. If I was still making the same choices as I did when I was 20, there’d be a problem. Every decade, things will change, the season that you’re in will change. COVID changed everything. Having kids will change everything. Any time there’s a life change there’s going to be a transition.

So you can’t be like Ashley James does this, Kathleen Trotter does that, or I did this last year. I did this five years ago so I have to stay with it. No, it’s about being curious, but also holding yourself accountable because you really care and you respect yourself, your life, and that data. Knowing that each thing that you choose is a vote for the future you that you want to be. Again, I’m quoting James Clear. I absolutely love him. I don’t know if you’ve read the book Atomic Habits, but if you haven’t, if anybody’s listening, such an awesome book.

He talks about all this stuff like how do you make habits small enough that they make it different. Small enough that you can do them, but big enough that they make a difference. That they compound, and that you’re creating the future you that you want. Because often, at the moment, things seem like not a big deal. Oh, it’s okay. I can have that hamburger, or I can skip a workout. But imagine if five years from now you skip everyday workouts, or you have hamburgers every single day and fries. That future you is not going to be the healthiest you that you want, but it goes the other way too.

You often think, oh well, what does it matter if I have a salad or not? But it’s like, well yeah, but if you have a salad every single day for the next five years, that will matter. The compound interest of everything really does make a difference. I encourage everybody to just listen to what we say and think oh interesting. This is all information that could work for me and maybe won’t work for me. I could try it. It could be part of my science experiment that is my health.

Most of the time, there’s really good principles that underlie all the actual information. What’s that Aristotle quote? It’s the mark of an educated man for the person who can entertain an idea without believing it or without taking it for certainty or something. You look it up. It’s a great quote, but basically, what it says is to listen to everything and decide what works for you. Try to figure out the underlying principles behind it.

Weight Watchers, for example, you count your points. You might say, well, I’m not somebody who wants to count points. I’d rather count calories, or I’d rather count macros or whatever. All of that is good, but it’s all just an example of doing the same thing, which is becoming aware of what you put in your mouth. So the principle of basically every single way of eating is to know what you’re putting in your body, and then how you do it will depend on what works for you.

If you’re somebody who’s really in love with having a community, then maybe you’re like oh, Weight Watchers is for me because that’s what I want. But if you’re somebody who’s not, maybe you do food delivery service, or maybe you’re more into vegan, vegetarianism, or whatever it is. But either way, no matter what you do, whatever food system you do, you have to be aware of what you put in your body. I’m a big believer in starting to just really see the principles behind actions and using everything as data for the recipe of success that will work for you.


[00:27:13] Ashley James: Yes. There’s a lot that I really like about Weight Watchers because they’re not telling you what to eat. You could be vegan, you could be whole food plant-based. You could do keto very well on Weight Watchers, but there are many healthy ways of eating that you could do. I love that there’s a system. I love that they really focus on more fiber.

We are not getting enough fiber as a society. On average, North Americans eat 15 grams of fiber. I don’t know about those in Mexico, but I know Canadians, the United States, and other countries that eat very similar sorts of American diets. You get about 15 grams of fiber a day, which is horrible. We want to aim towards closer to 50 grams of fiber. You have to be incredibly intentional to get to 50 grams of fiber. I love this advice—grab a variety of vegetables so you’re always doing different ones.


[00:28:07] Kathleen Trotter: Absolutely. Most colors.


[00:28:08] Ashley James: And as you’re prepping them, so you’re chopping them up, take a handful, put them aside, and eat whatever you’re chopping up. You’re going to eat a few handfuls of raw while you’re cooking, and then steam every day two pounds of vegetables and snack on them. Have them with your meals, have them as a snack while you’re cooking other stuff. Have it on the go. Do it al dente so it’s not like soggy vegetables, and then you can make all kinds of great healthy sauces you can make. I love spicy things so I can put spicy sauces on it. But there are all kinds. You can drizzle different balsamic, which can taste absolutely amazing, or mustard, or whatever.

If you can get two pounds of a variety of vegetables—both raw and cooked—into you, it doesn’t have to be a ton of raw, but just munch on some raw while you’re prepping it. Steaming is the easiest thing in the world. Boil water, throw it in the steamer. I have a bamboo steamer you get at the Asian market.


[00:29:05] Kathleen Trotter: Come to your house. You could cook for me.


[00:29:07] Ashley James: Yeah, I love those things. They stack, and I put it on top of a wok or a big pot that it fits on top of. Set a timer. I’ve forgotten that it was cooking something on the stove. Come back half an hour later. I’m like oh my gosh.


[00:29:21] Kathleen Trotter: Oh my gosh. I’ve done that so many times.


[00:29:22] Ashley James: So set a timer on the stove, or use the Instant Pot. You can steam stuff in the Instant Pot super quick as well. But basically, if you can steam, and always choose a variety. You want a nutrient profile that’s a variety, but also you don’t get bored.


[00:29:38] Kathleen Trotter: Each food has a different nutritional profile.


[00:29:41] Ashley James: Yeah, so today’s broccoli and cauliflower. Tomorrow’s a bunch of different colored green beans. The next day is different red peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini. But basically, it takes less than 10 minutes to do it in the kitchen and just carry it with you throughout the day and snack on it. Then maybe bring some hummus with you, some baba ghanoush, or some kind of dip. There are ways to make it really quick and you’re getting way more new nutrition into you. You’re getting nutrient-dense but lower-calorie food by eating two pounds of vegetables. Two pounds of non-starchy vegetables is about 200 calories, and it’s so much fiber that it really makes a difference.

Fiber helps the body to eliminate hormones we no longer need in the body, toxins. It helps to balance blood sugar levels, helps with weight loss. I mean, the list goes on and on. It feeds the microbiome.


[00:30:42] Kathleen Trotter: I think that’s a great tip, and I think that the word you used really early on, you said intentional. I remember once being at a talk with Rachel Hollis, and she said, the trick to health is being intentional AF, intentional as fork, right? And I think that’s really, really important. I love that system, and I think that would be, for me, an example of what I would say to a client is a system. 

Have a time where you’re prepping food. Prep a bunch of different things. Cut up vegetables, steam some vegetables, and have things ready and prepped because I think that’s a great system. Especially if you know at 3:00 PM you’re always feeling a little bit peckish for sugar. Then it’s like, oh, well but I have these vegetables already prepared. So it’s not like I “had to have this snack” or “it was just right there.” I think intentional is a keyword about your health because a lot of us get swept up by life, and we don’t design our habits. They sort of happen by default, and we often will say, well, I had to do this.

My clients would say this all the time. I was out and about and I got really hungry, so I had to have this chocolate bar. If they were taking your advice, they would be carrying some cut up vegetables with them, or they would have an apple and a couple of almonds. They would have a snack, right? So that goes with being intentional, and intentional is connected to having those systems ready. But it’s also connected to knowing yourself because if you know 3:00 PM is the time that you always have a sugary snack, then instead of just being like, oh well, I always have that sugary snack. Boy, I’m a bad person. And then feeling shame, guilt, and frustration. Then be like, oh, interesting. I always have a 3:00 PM sugary snack. What can I do about it?

Maybe you’re not having enough vegetables, healthy fats, and protein at lunch. So that’s maybe why you’re craving sugar. Maybe you’re frustrated always at your boss. Maybe you need to go for a walk. Maybe you need to have those vegetables ready and prepped. But if you use that as data, then you can create a system that works for you because you’re being intentional and mindful about your health. I have to use every opportunity as I can to bring in Brené Brown because I love her. I think what she would say at this moment is it’s really important to understand the difference between guilt and shame.

We’ll just go with this 3:00 PM snack. If you always have the sugary 3:00 PM snack, then if you go into a shame spiral about it, it’s more often going to lead to further negative habits for your health like skipping a workout, having more sugar at dinner. So shame is connected to you as a person. I have a 3:00 PM sugary snack every day, so I’m a bad person. Versus guilt is connected to the behavior. I have a 3:00 PM snack every day. That’s not a behavior I want to replicate. How can I learn from that? You see the difference between a behavior and thinking it’s you as a human.

When you connect behaviors to shame and feelings of lack of worth and that that you’re never going to be good enough, then it just makes your nervous system and your emotional brain want to continue with those negative habits, right? Because we often do those emotionally soothing habits. We’re trying to self-soothe, we’re emotionally distant, or whatever we’re doing is normally because we’re very anxious or we’re stressed. But the problem is then you have that sugary snack and that causes more of that feeling or emotion that made you want to have that sugary snack in the first place. It’s this terrible self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s a negative spiral.

So again, I go back to using it as data and understanding the guilt versus shame and being like, okay, so I don’t love that behavior. How do I change it? I circle back to that self-talk and the systems that we were talking about earlier because it’s about having self-talk that serves you because you respect yourself. Let’s say your kid came home and they got a bad math grade. You wouldn’t say to this child, you’re a loser. You might as well just quit math. That would be a shame-inducing response because that’s them of them as a person.

You would say to them, oh, interesting. You’ve got a bad math grade. Are you stressed right now? Do you need a tutor? How can I support you better? Are you being bullied at school? Are you not getting enough sleep? When you talk to yourself about your health, about your exercise, about your sugary snacks, about what time you’re finishing eating, if you’re having enough fiber. All of those things, you have to talk to yourself like you would talk to your kid who brought home a bad math grade. This is data to be analyzed and then think about the idea of cutting up the vegetables. That’s a great system because you want to make healthy choices as convenient as possible. And then you want to make unhealthy choices as inconvenient as possible.

Don’t have the crap in the house that you could snack on. So then you’re like, oh, well there’s nothing really to eat other than these vegetables and this lean protein. Okay, well, I’m going to go for it. I love that.


[00:35:46] Ashley James: But also, I think it’s very easy this day and age to order out. Oh, I don’t feel like cooking. There’s nothing in. Even go as far as to prep food and have meals already cooked in the fridge for sure.


[00:36:00] Kathleen Trotter: Or prep different ingredients. Have a bunch of quinoa, have a bunch of chicken breasts, have a bunch of veggies cut up, so then you can whip up—I call them hot-cold salads with greens on the bottom and then a bunch of hot stuff on the top. Or a quinoa bowl or whatever it is, but you want to make the healthy choices as fast as unhealthy choices or faster, and yummy too, right? You want to make it realistic and something that you find yummy. 

I did a BT segment this morning, and we were talking about sort of similar ideas and I was using my mom as an example. I love my mom. She’s amazing, but she hates chocolate. I love chocolate as I said earlier. I was saying, if she was going to make a shake in the morning—because we were talking about shakes being healthy things you could pre-assemble the night before or have things ready and just sort of grab and go. 

If I said to her that she had to have a shake with chocolate protein powder, avocado, and almond butter, she would be like that’s disgusting. I’m not going to do it. If I said to her she had to go for a run, she would be like I hate running. I’m not going to do it. Whereas she loves yoga, she loves walking the dog, and she loves vanilla things. If somebody said to me, well, your exercise routine is going to be yoga and vanilla protein shakes. I’d be like, oh gross. I’m not going to do it.

So part of it is like knowing what you love and what you will actually do. Or at least, it doesn’t have to be what you love but at least what you don’t despise so that you can do it on a consistent basis. It has to be convenient. What you do once in a while doesn’t matter. It’s what you do most of the time that’s much more important. So figure out what you do consistently.

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash


[00:37:33] Ashley James: Yes, that’s a great point to bring up. In my intake form for my clients, I have a question. What percentage of food do you eat out, or what percentage of food is not home-cooked? What percentage of food is home-cooked, are not home-cooked? Either way. At first, my clients will say, oh 80% of my food is home-cooked or whatever. It’s a high number, and then about a week in they’ll say, you know what, I’ve spent the last week thinking about that question. I realized that it’s closer to 30% of my food is home-cooked. It’s so easy to forget. If you’re not keeping track of the last week, the last month, or the last year, it’s so easy to forget.

It’s so easy to eat out, so many food delivery services. It’s just so easy to eat this food. And the thing is, even if you think you ordered something somewhat healthy—some kind of delivery food—restaurants choose the lowest quality ingredients because it saves them money.


[00:38:36] Kathleen Trotter: And big portions too.


[00:38:38] Ashley James: You’re hard-pressed to find a locally-sourced, fresh, organic, no fried food, no oil. You’re hard-pressed to find this super healthy food if it’s takeout. One thing that I get my clients to do is we do these fun routines of stuff that they like so that they’re eating more and more and more food that’s home prepped. You instantly feel better when you’ve cut it out because there’s hidden sugar, there’s excess hidden salt, and there’s a ton of hidden oils that are really bad. They’re horrible. They’re polyunsaturated fatty acids that are absolutely horrible for us, and they disrupt our body’s ability to balance omegas healthfully.

There are other kinds there. Just think of what they’re cooking. These restaurants use non-stick, so there are toxins. There are all kinds of toxins in that food. Yeah, it tastes good because it’s excitatory. It’s salt, sugar, and oil, and it’s not the kind of thing that you would have in your food if you cooked at home. It’s just looking at what percentage are you eating out every day as a habit and figuring out how to get most of your food cooked at home where you know exactly what’s going into your body.


[00:40:03] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah. I think all of your points are fantastic, but I think what I was laughing at is you said people say, well, only a little bit do I eat out. And then eventually, they think, oh no, actually it’s more. I think that’s across the board with so many habits. I often joke with my clients that we all underestimate our unhealthy habits and overestimate our healthy habits. I’ll say, how much junk food do you eat, or what do you like to eat? Oh, I like chips. Oh, how often do you have chips? Oh, not very often. It’s a treat, they’ll tell me. I’m like, okay, great. Why don’t you just start to become mindful of how often you have that treat.

What’s funny is what most of us learn to appreciate is that what we think are treats are actually much more norms. I’m all for having a treat once in a while. I think that savoring something that you love is really important. I call it my love it rule. You want to make sure that you have moderate amounts of things that you love, but you don’t mindlessly eat a bunch of crap that’s not good for you. But I think the problem is people end up thinking what they’re doing is a once in a while love it rule treat, and really it’s daily. It’s not a treat. It’s actually just a normal thing.

Again, it goes back to that understanding the principles of healthy eating. Basically, the key principle is just awareness. I love the quote, with awareness brings choice. You can’t choose healthier habits or to change anything if you don’t know what you’re doing at this moment. Keeping a food journal is great for a couple of weeks just to see what are the things that are actually treats versus what are the things I’m doing on a daily basis that aren’t serving me. And then you can decide.

Because as I said, I love these fudge bars. They’re terrible for me. They’re full of absolute crap. But twice a year, in the summer, if I want to go and sit with my mom outside on the porch and have one, I’m fine with that. But I’m not fine with having like six of them a week because they’re both bad for my body. And then when you overeat, they’re also then bad for your soul, your emotional being, or whatever. If you’re going to have something that’s not good for your body, at least you want to savor it and have it only a couple of times a year. It should be something that you absolutely love.

That’s something I really talk about with my clients. It’s just this choice value of taking a moment, pausing, and just deciding is this worth it? What nutrition is this getting for me? What is this doing for my body? To circle back to what we started with, how is my future self going to feel if I have this? Because often, at the moment, we want things. But often, the things that we want at the moment are not the things that serve us long term. So much of health is not letting our momentary desires and impulses dictate our behaviors. I think that, unfortunately, a lot of us have learned that skill with other things. We want to skip work, but we still go. You might get really angry with somebody, but you don’t punch them in the face.

We’ve learned, okay, well my desire is to not go to work, but I have to go anyway. My desire is to get violent right now, but I’m not going to do that. But for some reason, a lot of us with our health, we haven’t figured out how to not let our impulses and desires dictate our behaviors as much. Some of us have and listen, that’s hard. But I think that’s where the awareness comes in because you can say, oh interesting. Every time I get mad at somebody I want to eat a cookie. Is the cookie worth it? Is it going to make me happy? If I’m angry at that person, should I just have a conversation with the person that I’m angry with? Maybe they shouldn’t be my friend, or maybe we need to set better boundaries.

I like to tell my clients, all emotions are data, but they’re not directives. You can feel something. You can use it as data, but that doesn’t mean you have to do the thing that you want to do or act the way that you have always acted. Maybe when you’re sad, as opposed to binging on food that you’re going to feel really crappy about later, you have a bath, you phone a friend, or you meditate. But still honoring the emotion that you’re in and then going from there. I think it all comes back to awareness, being able to figure out what are my norms versus what are my treats, and knowing yourself.

I think that what you just said about not ordering in and cooking, part of why it’s so important to cook is that it actually takes a lot more intentionality and a lot more of awareness. It’s really easy in your not aware self to comb the internet and be like okay, well, Uber is going to deliver me this, this, and this. It’s in a haze of emotion. Whereas if you have to cook it at home, you have had to think about what am I going to buy? You have to plan your week. Am I going to cook this salad, or am I going to cook chicken? 

There’s a lot more thought that goes into what am I bringing into my house? Is it a good quality olive oil? Is it an avocado oil? What vegetables? Where did I buy it? Is it from a local farm? It’s slightly harder to be super emotional about it if you’re planning in advance all of your food.


[00:45:13] Ashley James: Right. Well, you can’t do some instant gratification too if you’re planning it out.


[00:45:17] Kathleen Trotter: Exactly. That’s what I’m saying. You’re taking away some of that desire. I mean, if you bring crap into the house, you can still at 11:00 PM at night binge on it. That’s where we go back to making as much tension between you and those habits as possible. I just don’t bring crap into the house that I don’t want to eat.


[00:45:40] Ashley James: Right. For me, this started a long time ago. I don’t bring alcohol into the house, and I don’t bring sugar into the house. I really love chocolate, but I find—and this is something I want to bring up—that my taste buds and my cravings have significantly changed in the last 10 years along my health journey. 

Ten years ago, I would have identified as a night owl, a chocoholic. You could not keep me away from chocolate. Now, I really can take it or leave it, but I have a brand. It’s called Lily, and I get the vegan dark chocolate sweetened with stevia two bars a month, and I don’t even eat the whole bar. Before, 10 years ago, whatever bar I’d get I’d have to finish. Now, I can have a few pieces, be like, that was yummy, and then I’m done. I’m satisfied.

I just noticed that my taste buds, even in the last three years since I’ve been whole food plant-based, eating more and more whole ingredients. A variety of fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and gluten-free greens. I just noticed that my taste buds have changed.


[00:46:54] Kathleen Trotter: Absolutely. You trended differently. You’re just slowly changing into it. I know for sure.


[00:47:01] Ashley James: Recently, I ate something that I used to love 10 years ago. I’m like, this doesn’t even taste good anymore. I don’t know. I used to get all excited about it. Now, I’m like, you know what, I can get really excited about a huge salad with 20 different vegetables. I start salivating. If you say the word kale, I have a Pavlovian response.


[00:47:27] Kathleen Trotter: Like brussels sprouts, roasted, oh my God.


[00:47:30] Ashley James: Right, roasted brussels sprouts are amazing. Any kind of hummus, any kind of hummus and carrots, or anything crunchy. These foods are fantastic and delicious. The past me from 10 years ago is like what are you doing? This is disgusting. And the me now is I love this. I think even if you don’t love-love vegetables now, just try them on and find the ones you do love, and your taste buds will change. There’s evidence to show that your microbiome is what causes us to have cravings because the microbiome hijacks it. It actually makes like neurochemicals that hijack our brain.

So when we have an overgrowth of candida, for example, an overgrowth of bacteria that is more negative, that’s more harmful to the body, it will tell us to crave things that are really harmful. And if we choose to eat healthier foods for a long period of time, we end up culturing a microbiome that then tells us we love those foods.


[00:48:37] Kathleen Trotter: I have to tell you a funny story. I grew up, as I said earlier, really unhealthy and really unfit. Do you guys have East Side Mario’s in the states?


[00:48:45] Ashley James: No, they don’t.


[00:48:46] Kathleen Trotter: Okay, it doesn’t matter. But it’s like a pasta place. I grew up, as I said, I was overweight. I was unhealthy. I never exercised, and I used to love East Side Mario’s.


[00:48:55] Ashley James: Me too.


[00:48:56] Kathleen Trotter: Not only did I love East Side Mario’s, but I loved the three-cheese cappelletti. It was pasta with cheese on the inside and then covered in cheese. It was disgusting. Anyway, around 17 I started to get healthier. My life changed. That’s a whole story that we can get into if you want, but around 23, 24, I hadn’t had East Side Mario’s for like six years. I was running a half marathon. I was running with my friend, and I’ll never forget. We went through a hard time in the race, and I was like, oh my God. I’m going to die. She said, if you just get through this, you can have any meal you want. I was like, okay. We’re going to go to East Side Mario’s. She was like, fine, whatever.

So that got me through the race, this idea of I’m going to East Side Mario’s. It’s going to be amazing. So we get to East Side Mario’s, and I ordered my food. I’m so excited. The food came and it was so gross. Not only did it taste bad. I literally did not like them. This is just exactly what you’re saying in the taste buds. Not only did I not enjoy eating it, because I hadn’t had pasta or cheese. None of that crap was I eating, but it made me so physically ill. It was so gross. That was when I was about 24. I’m now almost 38, and I haven’t had East Side Mario’s since. But it’s exactly to your point. Our taste buds change, and that’s why it’s really important to be curious about different things because we will, hopefully, evolve.

I don’t want to be the same person in 10 years that I am now like. That’s the whole point of living. I know 10 years ago I wouldn’t have told you that I love sauerkraut, but oh boy do I love sauerkraut now. It’s so good.


[00:50:30] Ashley James: Oh yes. Fermented food.


[00:50:32] Kathleen Trotter: But you have to be curious. Yeah, so good, and so good for your gut and all this stuff. At the age of 15, I would have told you that what I liked was Orange Crush, East Side Mario’s, and as much chocolate and sugary penny candy as you could. We’d go to 7-Eleven and you’d get these big feet and all that kind of stuff. Now, if you try to make me do that, just thinking about that stuff makes me vomit. Do you know what I mean?


[00:50:59] Ashley James: Yes.


[00:51:00] Kathleen Trotter: Okay. One more example of this, and this is just to give everybody hope if they’re listening they’re like, what, are you guys crazy? I’m not going to like East Side Mario’s? I, again, love chocolate, but I used to eat a lot more of it. Now, it’s really only a couple times a year, and it’s very good quality chocolate. Well, except for the fudge bars. They’re not good quality, but anyway. That’s beside the point. When I did my first Ironman—I think I was 25—and my partner James, he was like what do you want when you’re done with Ironman. I was like, well, for 10 years, I haven’t had a Blizzard. I used to love Dairy Queen.

We’re in Lake Placid and there’s no Dairy Queen. I just say to him you have to make me a homemade Blizzard. He goes to the grocery store and he buys all these ingredients. I finished Ironman and he makes me this thing. It had brownie bits and all these different stuff. I had one bite, and I was like, I want to vomit. Not only did this make me feel sick because I just did an Ironman, but it was terrible quality ice cream, terrible quality chocolate, and it didn’t taste good. I didn’t want it. But again, if you told my 15-year-old self that one day I would turn down a homemade Blizzard, I would literally tell you that you were crazy.

I would do anything. I used to lie to get out of gym class. I would say I was sick because I didn’t want to change in front of anybody. I would walk home to school and I would time my walks so that I could stop, get fish and chips, and eat it while I was walking. And then I had mouthwash in my bag that I would wash my mouth out so my mom wouldn’t know that I was eating this type of food.

I would go to the grocery store. I would buy a bag of M&M’s. I’d eat the entire bag of M&M’s, and then I’d go back to the grocery store. I was so full of shame that I would lie to the teller and say that I dropped the bag of M&M’s on the floor and therefore I needed to buy another one. These are the types of games I played. I would go to Subway and I want a 12-inch sub. So I would buy a 12-inch sub and I would tell the person I was buying it for me and my friend that we were going to split it, but I just wanted the entire 12-inch sub.

I lied, I would say, three times a day at least about my food to my mom, to my dad, to everybody. It was just my taste buds, my self-esteem, and my self-worth. Everything changed, but it changed gradually. It’s not that I woke up one day and is all of a sudden this Kathleen that’s 37. The first time I went to the gym, I walked for 10 minutes. I got off the treadmill, and I thought I was going to vomit. You know when you’ve never been on a treadmill and you’re on that belt, and then you get off and the room is all spinny? That’s what happened to me after 10 minutes. I was like I can’t do this anymore.

But then I just kept going, and I went back. The next time I went was 15 minutes, and then 20 minutes. You got to embrace the little wins especially when you’re first starting. Those little wins, that’s what accumulates and eventually makes those big changes.


[00:53:50] Ashley James: I like that you said trending positive. I think that’s going to be my new motto.


[00:53:55] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, it’s great. It’s not a linear journey. Also, that’s another thing that’s really important to understand is it’s a hill and you want a trend, but you’re going to have paradigm shifts. But within each paradigm, you’re going to go up and down. It’s not that every single day is better than the day that was before, but I can definitely tell you that in my 30s, I have healthier habits than in my 20s, and in my 20s I had healthier habits than in my teens. 

On a whole, my demons have kind of softened, and on a whole, my habits are much healthier. On a whole, if I fall off my horse, the fall is much less severe. I get back on much faster, and I learn. I love the idea of everyone’s going to fall off the horse, but it’s how quickly do you course correct and how much do you learn from that experience?

My falling off the horse now might just be snoozing my alarm five times and missing half of my workout. But 10 years ago, what might have happened is if I’d snoozed my alarm five times, I might have been like, oh well, who cares. I’ll just skip the entire workout. Now I’m like, no. Even if I can only do 20 minutes, 20 minutes is better than nothing. The slips are different. I learn better, and I’m better at not berating myself and being so unbelievably mean to myself about the slips. It’s much more of a growth process.

I love the book Mindset by Carol Dweck. I don’t know if you know that book, but it’s all about growth mindset, and it’s so unbelievably important with everything. But particularly, I think about our health because I think we expect perfection and then I think perfection is not possible. And then when we can’t be perfect, most of us just quit. I think it’s so much, much, much, more important to have a growth mindset and to just trend in the right direction. 

Know that you’re human and know you’re going to make mistakes. But can you make mistakes at a different level? Can you make mistakes on your jog versus on your walk? Or can you make mistakes on your workout versus making mistakes sitting and not doing anything? As you said, trend in the right direction and know there’s always going to be a struggle. What’s that phrase? It’s like a new level, new devil. Every level you get to, every paradigm shift about your health, there’s always going to be a devil that you’re fighting, but it’s just going to be a different devil.


[00:56:09] Ashley James: That’s really interesting. I don’t know if it’s the Kabbalah, but there’s a belief in the archetypes that the devil archetype is us standing behind ourselves with a pitchfork poking ourselves in the back. So it’s actually like a duplicate of you standing behind you testing your resolve. 

Let’s say you’re a smoker and you’re like, today’s the day I’m going to quit. Five minutes from now you see people smoking outside, and there’s that little devil which is actually you. Little voice in your head poking you with the pitchfork in the back going, are you sure? Are you sure? How about this? Here, I’m going to give you people smoking in front of you. Are you sure? Now I’m going to give you a stressful situation because that was your go-to to handle it? Are you sure? Are you sure?

I’m not saying that the devil does or doesn’t exist. What I’m saying is that the archetype of any time we put out to the universe, we say this is my new norm now. This is my new goal. This is my new me. There’s an archetype of the devil testing our resolve. We just have to know that’s like, okay, I will not back down. Yes, I’m going to be tested and I’m going to prove to myself, I’m going to prove to that devil hitting me with the pitchfork, yes, I do have resolve. This is the new norm I’m working towards.

I wanted to touch on the guilt versus shame again because I think it’s really important. You talked about doing these little habits. Let’s say the person goes for a 10-minute walk and the shame might be there. Guilt is regretting actions or inactions.


[00:58:00] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, so guilt is the behavior. You can feel like, oh, I wish I’d done 20 minutes versus 10. I wish I didn’t go faster. It’s on the behavior. But as soon as you put it to, well, I’m the type of person who’s lazy, or I’m a failure. That’s what’s problematic. It’s one thing to acknowledge behaviors. I’m huge into growth and being—as I said, that balance between compassion and striving. I definitely believe in goals and striving. But you want to make sure that you have compassion, and compassion and shame do not go hand in hand.


[00:58:36] Ashley James: Yes. So shame, which is really interesting. I’ve had this woman on the show a few times. She’s an expert in magnesium. She’s led this group of women through a course. A big group of women through a course on healing their bodies and especially healing adrenal fatigue. What she noticed is every single woman except for about six of them got 100% results. She was like, what’s going on? She said, okay. She took the six women or this handful of women that didn’t. It was like maybe 100 women that did this and maybe six of them didn’t get results. It was a big number of people that got results. So she sat with them and said, we’re going to work through. We’re going to figure out why is it that so many of the women in this group got such great results, but you guys didn’t.

She saw it over and over again because she teaches this course often. She finally figured it out that when women have shame present as an almost daily thing, it stops them. No matter how much nutritional supplements, exercise, sleep, and rest, all those things, none of the positive things would allow their adrenals to heal because the shame was keeping them in that fight-or-flight mode. Keeping them and stopping their healing. 

I think it’s just really, really important to identify if we do have shame, if we do have that self-talk that’s saying, I’m stupid, I’m fat, I’m ugly, or no one’s going to love me. That negative self-talk is shame. To identify that and to then know that we have to work on that. Is there anything that you can give us to help identify? First, like you said, becoming aware is the first step. Do you have any advice or guidance for healing shame?


[01:00:32] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah. There are a couple of things. So I think often our biggest villain in our health is the voice in our own heads, and we have this evil roommate so often. If it was another human being who lived with us, who talked to us like that, we would say get the freaking out of here. You are not welcome. You can’t be my roommate. But yet it’s okay for us to talk to ourselves like that? I think part of it is just really recognizing that if you had a child that you talked to like that, if you had a parent that you talked to like that, they wouldn’t be your friend. Why do you think that you can talk to yourself like that, right?

So I often really just encourage myself that health is really a re-parenting process. It’s learning how to talk to yourself in the way that you would talk to your child or in the way that you would talk to your aging parent. In a way that shows that you love and respect yourself, but again, that awareness piece is really key. Maybe you have to keep a journal about your internal thoughts. Write down some of the loops that you have in your head and work on those.

Maybe every night you just take five minutes and just say, okay, what are three things that I did really well today—three positive thought loops, three actions, and how do I reproduce those? What was the emotional space that I was in when I had that thought? Or I went for a walk, what helped me do that? And then what are three things that I would like to eliminate from my thought process, and how can I do that? Step back and just take a little bit more of an objective view of it.

Okay, well if this was my child who was having this action like staying up until 11:00 PM at night and not being able to go to bed. Okay, how would I help her have a better evening routine? That can be really helpful. I call that the reproduce versus eliminate journal. It’s again using it all as growth. And even just taking a moment like just having an alarm that goes off once an hour and just take 10 seconds and just think, okay, what was the most recent self-talk that I used on myself? Was it useful? Because often these things are so unconscious we’re not even aware that we are using them.

Sometimes just free flow journaling is really useful, again, because we’re not even aware of how we’re talking to ourselves or how we feel. So just getting it out there and then you can look at it and be like, okay, interesting. Is this my critic? Is this like a parent? When you read this is it like, oh interesting. That’s how my dad used to talk to me when I was five. Well, that wasn’t helpful then. It’s not helpful now.

I think some type of objective view, however, you’re going to get that whether that is through morning pages journaling, reproduce versus eliminating, or whether that’s going to therapy, and just really, really trying to produce a relationship in your head with somebody like it’s a roommate or somebody that you care about. When those negative thoughts come up, the more you’re aware of the thought loops that you get into, the more you’re able to say, nope, I’m not going there. But the first step is to become aware of the thought loops.

Honestly, most people when I start to train them, they will say things and they don’t even realize that they’re shaming themselves or shoulding themselves. I should have done this and I didn’t. They’d go for a walk and instead of being like I’m so proud of myself, I went for a walk. They’ll be like, oh, I only went for a walk. Well, that’s great. It’s better than doing nothing. So now use that walk as a jumping-off point for more positive health habits.

Noting the little wins I think is really key. Noting the little wins of when you speak to yourself nicely as well as when you go for a walk, as well as when you have a glass of water. And also just realizing that none of us are perfect. In the example that you gave earlier when you said about the shame about when you did something stupid. I forget the examples that you gave. I think part of it is just recognizing that you are sometimes going to say stupid. I say stupid stuff. In this interview, I probably said some stupid stuff, and that’s okay because guess what, I’m human. 

Within the realm of normal, you have to just allow yourself to be human. You’re not always going to speak to yourself perfectly because perfect doesn’t exist. You’re not always going to be the smartest. You’re not always going to have the best run. You’re not always going to be having the healthiest dinner. It’s about the trends, and it’s about when you make a decision and be like, okay, so am I proud of this decision? Am I not? Okay, well, let’s learn from it. You can’t be perfect all the time. 

I remember listening to this podcast once. It was actually about parenting and the interviewer was saying, well, I just tell my kids just always do your best. The woman who was being interviewed, her name is Kristin Neff, and she writes a lot about self-compassion. She said I just want to hold you there. She said, I actually think that it’s not about teaching your kids to always do your best because that’s just going to put them in the hospital. They can’t always do their best. It’s about teaching your kids when it’s important to do their best and when it’s important to just go to bed, or when it’s important to just read a book and chill.

It sounds like a weird connection to the question about shame and guilt, but I actually think it’s really important. You can’t always do your best because then you will get adrenal fatigue. That’s what causes it. It’s like oh my God. If I’m not perfect I’m going to die. Oh my God. But that’s a thought loop that so many of us women get into. Listen, you can do anything but not everything. You have to choose what are the things, what are the battles that are worth battling, what are the hills that are worth dying on, what are the things you’re going to do your best on, and what are the things that you’re just going to say you know what that’s not that important to me. Goodbye. I’m setting my boundary. I’m going to say no to this because a no to that is a yes to something that I do care about.

I think a lot of getting rid of shame is just getting rid of this idea that you have to be perfect and you have to do it all. You can’t do it all. You can’t be perfect, and nobody is perfect. They might pretend to be perfect on social media, but let me tell you, nobody’s perfect because we’re all human. We’re messy humans, and that’s what’s great about being human. We’re just this hot mess.

Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash


[01:06:43] Ashley James: I totally celebrate being a hot mess. I’m like, no one has it all together.


[01:06:49] Kathleen Trotter: No, and they would be freaking boring if they did. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t grow and learn. What’s a great example? About a month ago, I did my first Skype media segment for CTV, and I’d never done a Skype one before. I’ve done lots of podcasts, but never a video. Honestly, it wasn’t that great. It wasn’t terrible, but 10 years ago, oh my God, would I have berated myself. Kathleen, you were frenetic. I was a little bit too far away from the camera, so I was yelling. I would have just been so mean to myself. And instead, what I said to myself was you know what, I did do the best I could, but anytime you do anything new, you are never going to be great at it because that’s the nature of doing new things. They’re hard, and now, what can you learn from this?

I watched it a number of times. I learned. I realized I needed to be sitting in a chair so I could be closer to Skype and I could get a better camera angle and all this stuff. And then I did the next one a week later and it was 10 million times better. But it wouldn’t have been better if I had berated myself about that first segment and be like oh, Kathleen, you’re a loser. You’re never going to be really good. The second segment would have probably been twice as bad because I would have been so nervous, I would have been shaking in my boots. I would have felt like a loser. And instead, the second one was way better because I learned and I grew.

I think the net is just the first time you do anything—and this is circling back to you don’t have to be great to start but you do have to start to get great, standardizing before you can optimize. People listening, Brené Brown has a podcast Unlocking Us, and her first episode ever was on FFTs, Forking First Times. The point of the podcast is that any time you’ve never done anything, you’re going to be bad at it. It’s going to be messy and just embrace it. That’s the only way you get better.

If you’ve never gone for a run, the first time you go for a run it’s going to suck. Embrace the suck. If you’ve never cooked a dish, it’s probably going to not be that great. Who cares? Try it. Learn. I’m trying to think of workouts. The first time I went to a CrossFit gym, oh my God, I was scared. I was like, I’ve never been here, but it was kind of fun and everyone was nice to me. I sucked at a bunch of things, but it didn’t matter. The first time I went for a run I was terrible. The first race I ever did was terrible. But now I’m way better, and I’m a better runner. CrossFit’s not really my jam, but I go every once in a while, and when I go, I’m way better than the first time. I don’t know. Persevere, learn, grow, and be kind to yourself.

But that doesn’t mean let yourself off the hook. I think people take this advice and they think, oh, well, Kathleen says being nice to myself. That means eating 17 cookies, watching 14 hours of Netflix, and never working out because I love myself. No, if you love yourself, you respect yourself enough to go for a walk, drink some water, and get some sleep. It’s a really fine balance of striving but with compassion.


[01:09:41] Ashley James: What I got from what you just said is when we stay in shame we’re stuck and we can’t grow.


[01:09:50] Kathleen Trotter: Oh, I love that. Oh my God. I need to quote that’s. Okay, I’m going to quote you. When you stay in shame you’re stuck and you can’t grow. Yes because shame keeps you in—I don’t know if you know the polyvagal theory, but it’s a nervous system theory basically. They would say that when you stay in shame you don’t get to go in the ventral vagal system, so you’re not in that creative place where you can be their best self. That you’re stuck in your sympathetic nervous system. Your nervous system is basically teaching your body to stay stuck because it’s that paralyzed, it’s messing with your hormones, and it doesn’t put you in the mental space where you can grow.


[01:10:32] Ashley James: Once you’re in sympathetic nervous system response, you lose access to your frontal cortex. We actually shunt blood away from the logic centers of our brain so we can’t think critically, like you said, create creatively. We can’t do three-dimensional problem solving, and also, it harms our digestion because we shunt blood away from our core.


[01:10:58] Kathleen Trotter: Absolutely. It’s a whole bunch of bad stuff.


[01:10:59] Ashley James: Right. Identifying when there’s a shame. So here’s the thing, I’ve had clients who I’ll say okay. Every week I’ll give them homework to decrease stress. I want to get them out of fight-or-flight mode, or I want to get them out of that sympathetic mode. They won’t do the homework. They’ll eat what I tell them to eat. They’ll do all these health habits, but when it comes to like, okay, I want you to do 15 minutes of watching a comedy that makes you laugh.


[01:11:27] Kathleen Trotter: I love that homework.


[01:11:30] Ashley James: Go find a comedian on YouTube. I love the stuff out of Canada. Just for Laughs is the best. I want you laughing like you’re almost going to pee yourself for 15 minutes a day on your lunch break or whatever. I want you to walk out of the office building and walking around the block out in nature trying to find a park. Those kinds of things. Those are the hardest, so any de-stressor any habit. I’ve told several clients, okay, when you get home the first thing I want you to do is put on amazing music and have a dance party with your kids.

What are fun activities that are going to like take you out of stress mode and bring back the feel-good hormones? I want you to hug your husband. Oxytocin. Hug your husband for three minutes straight. Just get into cuddle mode. And the funny thing is, these have been the hardest habits to get people to do. I’m like what’s going on? It’s easier to get someone to eat kale than it is to hug their husband or laugh. What’s going on?

You’d think it’d be easy, but then the feedback I’d get is that well, I don’t know why I have to do this. I don’t feel stress. I don’t feel stressed out. I’m like okay, great. Stress is not an emotion. I think that shame, for some people, people are so disconnected that they don’t actually know they’re in shame. That they don’t feel it. How we can identify it is the self-talk. If you’re beating yourself up, if your self-talk is abusive, and your self-talk is akin to I’m not good enough. No one loves me. I’m stupid. That was so dumb of me, wtf. If your self-talk is abrasive and tearing you down like an abusive spouse basically, like an abusive partner, you are in shame.


[01:13:20] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah. It’s interesting, you were talking about the sympathetic nervous system. I think that’s very interesting. But if you look at what the polyvagal theory would say, and I’m not saying this is right or wrong. I just think it’s interesting to noodle on. They said there are three ways that you can be. You can be ventral vagal, so that’s in that creative mode where you make the best choices. You feel very content. Then there’s that sympathetic, which you were talking about. And then they would also say there’s what’s called dorsal vagal, which is almost like comatose, unable to make decisions.

I think what they would say is it’s important to understand or start to note the self-talk, but they would also say it’s really important to start noting your somatic experiences. When you are in that dorsal vagal space, and I’m just learning about polyvagal. If anybody’s interested in this, don’t take my word. Go research it yourself. I’m using it for myself. I’ve been in therapy for 20 years. I’ve done a lot of talk therapy, and I’m just starting to look into more of the somatic therapy of starting to understand how different states feel in my tissues. And the idea of that dorsal vagal system is that you actually feel almost like paralyzed. You can’t get that ignition energy to start doing anything. You feel sort of a lack, and you almost feel like a disconnect or disassociation from what you’re doing and your life.

Again, all of your suggestions would still be very helpful no matter which of those two systems you’re in, but that’s just another route to get to this idea if you’re feeling shame, if you’re feeling blocked, or if you’re feeling stuck. Start to feel how your body feels. Are you feeling almost away from your body, disconnected? Like that ostrich with the head in the sand. Because that could be showing you that you’re almost so in shame, you’re so in a fear mode that you’ve actually like left your body almost, and that makes it even harder to do any of those things. Because sometimes, when you’re in this sympathetic state—that stressful state—you actually have a lot of energy because you’re like nervous energy. That could be the time where you actually do things. You go for a walk, you go for a run. It’s not necessarily good for your adrenals, because you feel sort of more like I have to do something. Oh my God, if I don’t do something… It’s like that anxious state versus that dorsal vagal, which is almost like comatose. I need to go to bed state.

Anyway, I just find that really interesting. There’s a Derek Sivers quote. It’s like, if knowledge was enough, we’d all have six-pack abs and be billionaires. The truth is that everybody listening just needs to get on board with the knowledge of what to do with everything in life but particularly to do with your health. That knowledge is not enough. We know to drink more water, eat less processed foods, and go to bed earlier. But if that was enough, we’d all be healthy and health wouldn’t be this million-dollar, billion-dollar industry. 

It’s a billion-dollar industry because it’s really freaking hard to do what we know how to do because our emotions get in the way. Our nervous system gets in the way. Our history with our self-talk gets in the way. Our history of how our parents talk to us gets in the way. How we were bullied in school. If you were bullied over your body, or if you were laughed at playing sports, of course, you don’t want to go out and go for a run. You might not consciously be thinking like, oh my God. I’m going to get bullied, but your nervous system has these memories of like people are not nice to me when I go. I have a shame feeling when I go exercise.

Part of exercising is retraining your nervous system. The reason why I hated it for so many years was I was overweight. People teased me. I would try to do things, I’d try to do sports, and I sucked at them. And then I got so embarrassed, and talk about shame— so filled with shame that I then didn’t want to do any of those things. I’ve been exercising for 20 years, but mostly I’ve been doing a lot of independent stuff like biking and running. It’s only been in the last five years that I’ve had enough confidence to go play basketball with my partner James. We play tennis, we play basketball, but for years he played all these different sports. I would go watch him, but I didn’t want to play team sports because even though I was fit and even though I loved exercising, I had such a nervous system memory of the shame that went along with not being able to hit the baseball very well and people teasing me. That I was like, hell no. I’m not doing that.

Like what we talked about with food, gradually my palate has changed to do with exercise, and I’m slowly learning to enjoy more team sports. But that goes along with letting go of the shame and realizing if I suck at a sport, who cares. It doesn’t matter. I’m not being paid. I’m not a professional basketball player. I don’t need to be good at it. I just need to be getting some exercise, moving around, and getting slightly better each time. That shame response, it’s not useful, it’s not helpful, it doesn’t make me happy, it doesn’t make me the best version of myself, it keeps me stuck, it keeps me basically on the sidelines, and I don’t want to be on the sidelines.

I want to be strong. I want to be empowered. I want to be energized. But it takes a lot of retraining growth mindset for the nervous system, right? A growth mindset for my brain to know that even if somebody does laugh at me, I don’t care. Somebody can go and laugh all they want. The doctors use the quote, those that mind don’t matter and those that matter won’t mind. So, people who love you, they’re not going to mind if you suck at basketball. People who care that you suck at basketball, they don’t matter. They can go jump on a river. But in order to think that way, you have to let go of shame. If you’re filled with shame, you care what everybody thinks.

As soon as you let go of shame you can be like, oh right, you don’t think I’m a very good tennis player? Guess what, I don’t care what you think. You are not part of my core five. I care what my partner James thinks. I care what my mom thinks. I care what my dad thinks. My best friend Emily, I care what she thinks. But if you’re not part of the people that I respect, and you don’t like what I’m doing, how I play a sport, or what I’m eating, I don’t care. But that comes with letting go of shame.


[01:19:39] Ashley James: I love it. There was this really interesting quote that changed my husband’s life. It’s none of your business what other people think of you.


[01:19:52] Kathleen Trotter: I love, love, love that quote, and it’s just so true.


[01:19:56] Ashley James: it’s none of your business what other people think of you. My husband almost fell off his chair. This was about 12 years ago, we were listening to this really cool dude. He would just spew Buddhisms and very Zen sayings. We’ve been into listening to alternative media. We shut off our cable TV 12 years ago, and we just streamed stuff on the internet—all kinds of amazing podcasts and stuff. This is a guy we followed like 12 years ago.

But my husband really struggled his whole life by worrying about what other people thought. He wouldn’t hold my hand in public. It was just weird stuff. I’m like what’s going on? He’s like I don’t know. I just can’t. I don’t know what I can do.


[01:20:39] Kathleen Trotter: It’s very common.


[01:20:40] Ashley James: We talked a lot about it. Ever since I met him, he’s always been super into personal growth, growing spiritually, and growing as a person. He loves really doing deep dives, he’s a man that wants to talk about his feelings. But he wants to grow. We’re like, okay, what’s going on. He’s like I’m stuck in this area. What’s going on? And then when he heard that, it gave him so much freedom because he really got that he was so worried about what everyone else thought, but it’s none of his business.

Just like you walk down the street, let’s say you see someone running funny and you judge them. You’re like haha, that person looks silly. It’s none of their business that you’re thinking that about them.


[01:21:19] Kathleen Trotter: No, it’s all on me. It’s my problem.


[01:21:23] Ashley James: That’s your thoughts. I see someone running down the street, and I have really great thoughts for them. I’m like, good for them, really good. You know what, whatever your thoughts are, they’re your private thoughts. Other people’s private thoughts are none of your business.


[01:21:40] Kathleen Trotter: It says much more about them than it says anything about you. I agree, but I would make a caveat on that though. I do love that quote, and I’ve heard that quote, but I actually do think you need a little asterisk beside it. Because it’s none of your business what other people think, but here’s the thing. I think that it is your business what your core five think. It is my business what my partner James thinks about me.


[01:22:07] Ashley James: Oh, sure.


[01:22:08] Kathleen Trotter: Now that doesn’t mean I have to agree with what he thinks about me. The thing about quotes and the thing about social media, we like these really broad generalizations. There is so much nuance in it. It’s just like the idea of like well, you shouldn’t care about… That book the Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. The whole premise of that book is we as human beings are programmed to care, we’re programmed to problem solve. But the idea is that if you’re going to care and you’re going to problem solve, you have to decide what problems are worth your time.

That’s I think the same thing about that quote. We as human beings are programmed. We’re meaning-making genes. We’re tribal. We’re bred for connection. We’re wired for connection as Brené Brown would say. I think you have to appreciate that you are going to care what people think, and the trick is that you should care. You can’t be in a good relationship with somebody if you don’t care what they think about you. But the trick is you need to care about what people think that you respect.

I decide on five or ten people in my life, and those are the people that I’m like, I wonder what James will think about this. And again, it’s not that I necessarily think that what he thinks I’m going to be like oh, well he says I shouldn’t wear red. Well, I’m not going to wear red. That’s not what I mean. What I mean is if he says something, because I respect him, I’m going to at least entertain the thought. And then I can say, well, no, you’re wrong. But it’s a very important thing.

I think it’s really easy to be, oh well, no one else’s opinion of me matters. I don’t think we live in a vacuum. I don’t actually think that that’s true. I don’t think the key is to care about nothing. I don’t know. I just think it’s trickier, and I think that life is a little bit more complicated than any of that. But then it’s about being intentional. Who am I going to care what they think about me? Who am I going to interact with? And who gets my attention?


[01:24:10] Ashley James: So it’s coming back to shame. One of my teachers, Tad James, of no relation. He’s a master trainer of neurolinguistic programming, and he says if you lived on an on a planet where there’s no one else, that you were the only person in the world ever, you would never experience shame. Shame exists because we live in a society with other people and because it’s our judgments of ourselves in relationship to other people. That quote, it’s none of your business what other people think of you, is directly about shameful thoughts and decisions that you’ve made about yourself. That’s what I mean.

If you’re so worried about strangers observing you while you’re exercising, it’s none of your business what they’re thinking. You do you. Go do your exercise. But if you catch yourself worrying what about other people think and that’s part of your shame spiral, then that’s stuff to work on.


[01:25:10] Kathleen Trotter: Oh, absolutely. And I’m not disagreeing with any of that. I completely agree with that. My point only was I just think these things are a little bit nuanced, and I think that part of the intentionality of all this is deciding who do you care what they think about you, and who do you care about? When I’m thinking about life and how to make my decisions in my day and what’s important, what do I say no to, and what do I say yes to? It matters the idea of you do you.

Okay. Well, again, that’s great, and I love that quote. But I think that yes, I do me, but I live in a world where I really care about James. I care about my mom. I also have to take those. I don’t have to do anything, but I decide that taking those people’s feelings and emotions into account is really important. I’m never going to do me at the expense of that, or at least I’m going to have a conversation with James. 

Again, I just think it’s all about awareness and intention. Nothing that I’m saying is discrediting. I think you’re completely right. Shame is an internalization of the criticism we’ve had as kids from our peers, from our parents. All of that stuff is correct. I just think part of getting to be an adult is taking an inventory of what you care about? What do you want to say yes to? What do you want to say no to? Who do you care about? Who do you care what they think about you? What conversations do you want to have? What do you want to say hell yes to? What do you want to say hell no to?

If it’s really important that you get to bed by 10:00 PM, for example going back to you, okay, that means saying no to a bunch of things. That’s great. But every yes is a no. But in order to know what to say yes to, you have to know what to say no to.


[01:26:58] Ashley James: It sounds like really healthy boundaries and figuring it out. And then, like you said, not the expense of others. You use the example of doing team sports or doing exercise and other people are seeing you. You sound like you have very healthy relationships with your partner, with your mom, and your best friend, for example.


[01:27:19] Kathleen Trotter: It took years of therapy.


[01:27:23] Ashley James: Other people don’t have that yet, and they would never exercise in front of their partner, in front of their mom, or have their mom come to see them do team sports because they still have things to work through. That’s where I say, okay, figure out how you can get physically fit in an environment that fills you with joy and not shame or fear. Maybe it’s putting on a Zumba. Amazon Prime, free Zumba classes. There are so many great on Amazon Prime. Just as an example, so many great free fitness classes. Put it on the TV, do it in your bedroom, or do it in the living room when no one’s around.

But when you go out to do any kind of fitness and you notice that there are shameful judgments that you’re having about yourself, is it because you’re around people—those are toxic friends or toxic relationships? Is it because of the people you’re around, or is it because it’s you and you’re just worried about what everyone thinks of you? It’s stuff to work through. Like you said, awareness is the first step.


[01:28:36] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah. I just lost my train of thought. Look at me being messily human. My first book was called Finding Your Fit, and I think this is an excellent segue to that. It’s about meeting yourself where you are. Maybe, right now, you need to be what I would call a home bunny. That’s you’re working out at home, and then maybe in 10, 20 years, then maybe you go to Zumba class. If right now you can’t work out in front of other people, that’s fine. Exercise has to be non-negotiable, but the way you move your body is completely your fit.


[01:29:13] Ashley James: And where you move your body.


[01:29:15] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah. Where, how, what you do. I’m going to use my mom because she is an amazing woman, and she’s the one who helped me figure out this concept. Basically, in a nutshell, unhealthy child, unhealthy teenager. I hated my body, was super full of shame. My mom said to me, “Listen, I know you hate gym class. I know you hate team sports, but we have to find a way that you can move.”

We lived in a small town, and my mom said, “You’ve always felt better around grown-ups versus peers, so why don’t we go to the YMCA because the Y, the demographic is over 40, under 5. No one in the teen years will be there.” I was like, “Okay, cool.” And she said, “Listen, Kathleen. All you have to do is walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes. You can totally do that.” So she made the win so small that I could do it, and I think that’s the key because then I went once. It wasn’t like you have to go do an hour aerobics class. And in fact, before I even went to the gym, we did Jane Fonda workouts at home in our kitchen.

The trick was I started with stuff at home. We did Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons. And then Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda then turned with me going to the Y walking for 10 minutes, and that slowly spiraled—upward spiral. Then I was doing more walking, then weights, then I started taking aerobics classes, and then I started teaching aerobics classes. That’s what made me decide to go to school for kinesiology.

But what my mom did for me was she said meet yourself where you are and figure out your fit. You thrive in your own lane. Don’t compare yourself. It doesn’t matter what works for your best friend, your father, your mother, or your favorite celebrity. You figure out what you can do, and what you can do can change in six months, in a year. Again, we go back to the idea that you have to standardize before you can optimize. Just standardize that you move your body every day, and then you can optimize with whatever you want.

My mom was really the one. I wrote the book 15 years after that experience, but she was the one who said to me, “You just have to make the motion a non-negotiable, and you figure out what works for you.” In the book, I talk about the four fitness different personalities. You have the gym bunny, you have the home bunny, you have the competitive bunny, and then you have the busy multitasker. You don’t have to be just one of those. You could decide that normally, you are the gym bunny, but when you get really busy at work, you become the competitive multitasker, which is the person who takes a conference call while they walk right. Or they exercise while they’re watching their kids play soccer on the sideline—they’re doing lunges and squats.

The idea is that you can mix and match the different personalities depending on the season you are in your life. Maybe in 10 years, you go from doing Zumba at home to doing Zumba at a gym. But no matter what season you’re in and whatever you’re feeling, you always know that some type of motion is non-negotiable.


[01:32:07] Ashley James: I love it. Can you give more examples? I love the example of doing lunges on the sidelines while watching your kids do soccer. Can you give more examples of how we can incorporate movement into our life instead of being sedentary?


[01:32:21] Kathleen Trotter: Oh, yeah. A lot of it is you have to set an alarm to make sure you don’t just what I call tunnel into work. Sometimes I sit down and it’s like eight hours later. I’m like, what just happened? Conference calls as you walk is a great idea. Gamify your fitness. Have a challenge with your family for getting a number of steps per day. Setting an alarm goes off in between Zoom meetings and doing three minutes of a dance class in your living room. If you’re commuting to and from work, walking to and from work, taking your bike. In Toronto, the city bikes are a really big thing now that people don’t really want to take the subway because of COVID. People are doing the city bike rental where you can get a bike at one end and then get a different bike after work.

If your kids are going out for a bike ride, you can jog beside them. You could skip outside in the backyard as they’re playing. You can do planks and lunges and stuff as they’re indoors. They’re playing, you can get them involved in a push-up challenge or plank challenge. You could, instead of sitting in your car and doing iPhone stuff while they’re doing their sport, you could go for a jog and then meet them when they’re done practice. You can say, instead of watching television tonight, we’re all going to go to the park and we’re going to play some soccer together as a family. Making sure you get out of your car a couple of blocks away from wherever you’re going to walk there. It’s just peppering exercise into your daily life is that idea of the multitasker. 

I’m a really big believer in what I call the plug and play solution. What that is is a list you create in advance of things that you can do in 5 minutes, things you can do in 10 minutes, things you can do in 15 minutes. If you “found time,” you can just look at the list and then know what to do. Because part of the problem is we often will find 5 minutes or 10 minutes in our day. And by the time you realize you have 10 minutes and you think, should I do this, or should I do that? The 10 minutes is gone, and you’ve wasted your opportunity to do some motion. But if you have a list and you just like look at the list, you’re like oh, okay. Well, I know in 10 minutes I can do a set of lunges and jumping jacks or 10 minutes of—I love Yoga by Adriene. It’s free. You know those things in advance, and then you just sort of like blah blah blah just do it. You don’t have to waste cognitive energy thinking I should do this or I should do that.

That’s a great plug-and-play solution. That’s like “fitness snacking” with the idea that it all adds up, right? I really want people to ditch this idea of perfection because perfection is tied to shame, and it’s just not helpful. If you think, well, if I can’t do an hour-long workout, then it’s not even worth it, or if I can’t do 10 kilometers… You just end up doing nothing. Whereas if you “snack” on 10 minutes of exercise here and 10 minutes of exercise there, by the end of the day you’ve done an hour, and that’s great.


Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

[01:35:04] Ashley James: I love it. Snack on exercise.


[01:35:08] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, snack on exercise.


[01:35:09] Ashley James: Because sometimes it’s daunting to think about an hour-long workout, 45-minute workout, 90-minute workout. Totally daunting. I get into the dorsal vagal. It’s just too big, can’t do it. Where you’re like, oh, I could snack.


[01:35:23] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, I can snack. It’s doable. And so much of health feels so overwhelming. Listen, life is freaking hard. Life’s hard at the best of times, but it’s particularly hard right now with the pandemic and everything. So much of health is just learning how to struggle well. You have to appreciate that the struggle is not a bug in the system. It’s part of the system. It is there.


[01:35:45] Ashley James: That’s beautiful.


[01:35:46] Kathleen Trotter: It is there. It’s part of the operating system, so you got to just be like okay, I’m going to struggle. I expect it, and how do I struggle well? How do I ride the wave of this? How do I surf really well—surf the wave of this struggle, just do the best I can, and learn from the experience. But you got to go in with realistic expectations. You don’t just find the perfect miracle workout or diet, lose a bunch of weight, then it’s easy peasy, and you never have anything go wrong. It doesn’t work that way. 

There’s no perfect day to work out. No perfect week to start the program. You just got to do it. You seize the moment because the moment is the only time you have any direct control over. And if you take advantage of the moment and then the next moment and the next moment, five years from now you’ll be like damn, I feel fit. I feel strong. I’m no longer loving East Side Mario’s. It takes time. It really, really does. It takes finding your version of fit to know your version of fit will change and really being okay, thriving in your own lane.

I’ll tell you one more story about my mom. I love my mom. She came with me once when I was teaching a spin class, and she got off the bike. She’s a super supportive woman. I’m sure you can feel that from the podcast. She got off the bike, she looked at me, and she’s like white as a sheet. She goes, “Kathleen, I love you more than anything but if you ever try to make me do a spin class again I will disown you.” I just laugh at that because I have a peloton and I die for Cody classes on the Peloton. Literally, if I’m in bed and I don’t want to get out of bed, I just say, Kathleen, you can do a Peloton. You can do a Cody, and that is motivational for me.

If I said to my mom you could do a Cody class, she’d be like, well, that’s terrible. I don’t want to do a Cody class. My point only being is if I said to her the only way that she could be fit is if she did Cody Peloton classes every day, she’d be like well I’d rather be fat and never be fit. That does not interest me. But if she said to me, well, every day, you have to garden and walk the dogs, which is what she does, I’d be like well that doesn’t really interest me. You have to find what works for you.

My dad’s another example. He plays hockey four days a week. He loves hockey. If you told me, well, Kathleen, to be fit you have to play hockey four days a week. I’d be like, oh no. But that’s his bliss. The great thing about it is because he loves hockey so much, that inspires him to do the stretching and the strength workout that he needs without falling over and without rolling over an ankle in his skate. It’s similar for me. I love running. I don’t love stretching and strength stuff as much, but I make myself do it because I know that that’s the way that I can do the thing that I love. Part of fitness is finding what you love, and then it’s also using what you love as self-talk to make yourself do the things that you might not necessarily love but that’s really important.


[01:38:26] Ashley James: Fantastic. That’s so great. For those that don’t know what a Peloton is, I know it’s a really cool bike that has a screen on it so you’re like watching these spin classes from home, right?


[01:38:39] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, pretty much. The reason why I love it is because it has so much. Classes go live. There’s a bunch of classes every day and then they get archived. Speaking earlier, we’re talking about finding the ignition energy to get going. I’ve always found an hour long spin feels really daunting, but what’s great about the Peloton is you can filter things. So you can filter by the instructor you like, the type of music you like. I like pop music or country music. There are two or three people I like, but I really like Cody, but you can also filter by time.

You can say 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 1 hour, and I often find that in order to get myself on the bike, I actually just start with the 20-minute class, and then as soon as I’m done the 20-minute, I’m warmed up and then I’ll do a half an hour. So then it ends up being 50 minutes or I’ll do 45 minutes. It’s easier for me to put together a couple of smaller classes. The thing that I like the most about the Peloton is that first of all, you don’t have to leave your house to go do a class somewhere else. If a class you’re doing 45 minutes of spin, you’re actually doing 45 minutes of spin. But mostly, what I really like is that you can trick yourself into exercising.

I often end up doing a full hour, but I start with just saying, you know what Kathleen, 20 minutes is better than nothing. Just get your ass on that bike do the 20 minutes. And then I enjoy myself. I’m smiling and laughing and I just keep going. This morning, I started with a 30-minute class, and then I finished the 30 and I was like I’ll do 10 more minutes. I ended up doing 40 minutes.

The lesson for everybody out there if they’re like, well, I don’t have a Peloton. Why is that useful? What I would just say is it’s all about the mind games. It’s about self-talk. If you can’t bring yourself to do an hour-long workout, you just say to yourself, Kathleen would say do 10 minutes. Because once you’ve done 10 minutes, most likely you’ll just keep going. It’s easier to find the ignition energy to do 10 minutes, but if you do stop after 10 minutes, at least you’ve done 10 minutes. And 10 minutes a day is 70 minutes over the week. It’s better than nothing. But honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever done 10 minutes and just stopped at 10 minutes. By the time you’ve done 10 minutes, you’re like, oh well. I’ve already started. I might as well do at least 15. And then you do 15, you’re like, I might as well do at least 20. It’s all about mind games.


[01:40:49] Ashley James: That’s what I do with hikes. There are wonderful trails near our house. I’m like, okay, I’m just going to make it down to where the trail forks. By the time the trail forks, I’m like I’m doing the long trail. The thing is you’re lost in the woods and then you have to come all the way back. The last hike I did was like two hours long, and it’s up and down and through the woods. It’s beautiful. I am always surprised when two hours goes because I’m like it feels like 15 minutes. I mean, my body definitely got a great workout, but it’s fun so time really flies. The getting going it’s like, okay, I’m just going to make it down to that one point where the trail forks and then I’ll totally turn around. And then by the time I’m there I’m like, okay, blood flowing. I can keep going.


[01:41:36] Kathleen Trotter: Exactly. I think with the people who are listening, if they get anything from this story, it’s just like blah blah blah go work out. Just start. The hardest part is starting, and you just have to realize that your future self is going to be happier. Remember what we talked about before, the present bias, and knowing that just because you feel crappy at this moment doesn’t mean that you’re going to always feel crappy. Your future self is going to be so happy that you moved.


[01:42:00] Ashley James: Do you have any techniques for getting us out of that dorsal vagal mode where we are stuck, disassociated, unable to start? What ways can we break through and switch so we’re no longer in that dorsal vagal?


[01:42:15] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah. I think part of it is this idea of changing your state requires a physiological change. Even just some deep breathing, some meditation, or just talking to yourself nicely or phoning a friend that helps you bring into that ventral vagal state. Those are all things that can be really, really helpful. Journaling, any of those things would be great. Even just going for a 10-minute walk, which can feel very hard to do when you’re feeling very unmotivated. But just really being kind to yourself and just saying I will be happier if I even do two minutes. Even playing music and not dancing around but just having that energy out there in the universe. It really is that sort of first 30 seconds of anything that you can do.

I think the key is just understanding that that dorsal vagal is a nervous system response based on feeling unsafe, insecure, unhappy, and it could be based on childhood unsafe, insecure, unhappy. If I go play baseball, my first instinct would be to go dorsal vagal because of being bullied as a kid, so I have to realize that I’m dorsal vagal. I feel it in my system and then I just say to myself, okay Kathleen, it’s okay. You’re okay. That’s a triggered state. At this moment, you’re actually okay.

I think the most important thing is to take a pause and say is this real in this moment? Because it could be that you are unsafe. If you’re in an unsafe relationship or if somebody is bullying you, sometimes retreating is actually a really good coping mechanism. First, say, is this serving me? And if it is serving you, then it’s telling you something about the environment that you’re in, and then you can use that as data. Maybe you’re with friends that are really, really evil and then they should no longer be your friends because they’re putting you in that. But most of the time for us, the idea is that it’s actually not serving us. It is somehow triggered by childhood.

Maybe your boss triggered a sense of shame in the way that your mother or father used to talk to you or the shame in the way that a teacher used to talk to you. Part of it is just sort of saying to yourself, I’m an adult, and I was treated purely as a child, but I’m not a child anymore. I have the resources in my current me to deal with this.

Once you figure out that it’s not a current lack of safety, then you can proceed with the meditation, with the breathing, the walking, or phoning a friend. You just have to make yourself feel safe basically when they’re in that space and realize that a lot of procrastination is a feeling of shame or lack of safety. Because you’re worried, well, if I exercise and I don’t exercise perfectly, I’m going to be shamed. If you just say to me, it’s okay to not be perfect. I’m a human mess. I’m a messy mess, and that is okay. Talk nicely to yourself, basically. As long as you are actually safe. If you’re in an unsafe environment, get rid of that. Then you have to use that differently, but once you’ve figured out that you’re safe, then you just have to be kind to yourself.


[01:45:36] Ashley James: Yeah, and a lot of procrastination is focusing on what you don’t want to have happened instead of focusing on what you do want to have happened. When we’re visualizing all the things that could go wrong when we’re exercising—people laughing at us or whatever. Just these thoughts come into our heads. Oh, it’s going to be so difficult. I’m going to get an injury. I’m going to have a leg cramp. We just are imagining all these bad things are happening. We’re putting ourselves in a state of stress, and then that triggers our procrastination because we’re feeling unsafe. But if we focus on and visualize the successful completion of that workout and how great it was, just like you said, your future self, imagine yourself after the workout. You’re like, okay, I want to get there. Let’s go.


[01:46:17] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, but also say to yourself, those bad things, they might happen. But guess what, that’s okay too because I’m an adult and I can handle it. Part of it is that we procrastinate because let’s say you tried a sport when you were a kid and then you were bullied, then you felt like a failure, and then you stopped. But you were a child. You didn’t have the resources you have now. Part of it is also saying to yourself like, probably I will succeed. The data shows I’m very successful. I’m very perseverant. I’m probably going to get through this workout. But guess what, if I don’t, I will be able to deal with it because I’m an adult.

Life isn’t perfect. There will be times that I go out, my run sucks. It’s terrible. There are probably times where I’m going to go out and somebody might snicker at me when I throw the basket and I’m bad. But guess what, I can handle it because I’m almost 40. My 10-year-old self couldn’t handle it, but I can handle it. That’s also part of it.


[01:47:10] Ashley James: Yeah. I love Tim Ferriss’s method for dealing with this.


[01:47:16] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, the fear setting.


[01:47:18] Ashley James: The fear, right? At first, when I was listening to him, oh this isn’t good. And then I was like whoa, this is really good. You write down everything you’re afraid will happen, but then you write down what’ll actually realistically happen? Because our mind is making up these big monsters, and they’re probably not going to happen. The entire gym is not going to turn and laugh at us, right? Or if we fall off of equipment, it’s not like everyone’s going to turn and laugh. A lot of people will actually be concerned and come up and help us.


[01:47:41] Kathleen Trotter: Yes, are you okay?


[01:47:43] Ashley James: Are you okay, and genuinely want to help. But he has us write down. Everything you’re worried about will happen and then what’ll actually happen? Realistically, what would happen? And then how would you handle it? When you do that you realize that it’s just a paper tiger that you’ve been worried about. That you, as an adult, have resources and you would be able to handle real situations as they arose. So instead of obsessing and fixating on all the perceived threats that you’ve made up, fixate on the solutions and how you would best handle those situations and then you feel a bit of confidence.

But we’re starting out. We’re newbies. Like you said, 10 minutes on the treadmill. We’re complete newbies. I love, for example, I think it’s Hulu. I have all these different Hulu, Netflix, those kinds of things. But I think Hulu has this subscription where you can subscribe to exercise videos. My favorite is the kickboxing ones, and they have a total beginner—like beginner-beginner-beginner 10-minute kickboxing, and you don’t even have to use weights. They have that option. They usually have three different levels, three different people standing there. 

It’s like, okay, follow this guy if you’re the beginner-beginner-beginner. This is your first-ever time exercising, or if you have mobility issues. After 10 minutes, I feel amazing and then I go and do another one, and I pick another one, another one, but I love that you can find beginner-beginner-beginner stuff. I can’t believe how just punching and kicking in the air while listening to some music is so soothing and so confidence building.


[01:49:24] Kathleen Trotter: It’s very empowering. I actually did boxing when I was in high school, and it was the best feeling. That’s what I love about health and wellness—when it can be empowering and energizing versus discouraging and oppressive. It can just make you feel like I can do anything. I’m powerful. The data shows that I’m strong, and then you take that data from your exercise and you go off your daily life. You’re like I can do this and it becomes a model. When your exercise becomes a model for how you just interface with the world, right? It’s like, oh yeah, this is scary.

My bike ride today was hard, but guess what, I did it anyway. Work today is going to be hard, but guess what, I’m going to do it anyway. I felt a little bit of niggly shame, but guess what, I persevered and now I showed my shame to take this backseat that I don’t need it anymore. I really love this idea of exercise just being a model for how you can live your life and build your relationships intentionally, purposefully, and with mindfulness and attention.


[01:50:26] Ashley James: Beautiful. I love that you talked about how to find things that you love, find things that are fun. Of course, try new things.


[01:50:32] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, you never know what you’re going to love.


[01:50:35] Ashley James: You never know what you’re going to like, but try new things. Exercise does not have to look like sweating in the gym. It doesn’t have to look like what Hollywood shows us or what Jillian Michaels does. It doesn’t have to look like any TV show. It can be cleaning your house like vacuuming. Dude, you can work up a sweat. You can work up a sweat cleaning your house. Your mom does gardening. Dude, I do squats when I garden, and the next day I feel it. You can really get a workout doing anything. It’s about moving the body in a way that brings you joy.

Then one thing I wanted to say is about your fudge bars. Something that’s really, really, really helped me the last 10 years on my health journey is figuring out the healthiest versions of something. I’m sure you’ve done this where you’re like what could I eat that’s like a fudge bar but more like an avocado and a sweet potato? What can you eat?


[01:51:27] Kathleen Trotter: I agree with that, and I think for most people and most times and 97% of my things in my life I have replaced with healthier versions. But guess what, I don’t want to replace my fudge bars with something healthy. I think that is okay too. Again it goes back to sometimes—


[01:51:42] Ashley James: Not being perfect.


[01:51:43] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, it’s not perfect. And it’s living the life I want to live. I don’t want to be on my deathbed and be like I loved these fudge bars and yet I didn’t ever have them. I don’t want to have them every day, but I buy one box a summer, and so over a four-month period, my mom has a beautiful backyard. We sit. That’s fine with me. There are tons of things I’m happy to do a healthier replacement, but if that’s my one sin, I’m okay with that. Part of being an adult is just deciding what you’re okay with and not living by anybody else’s rules, right? That’s what I’ve decided so I’m cool with that. But I do think you’re right in a lot of other things.

I make lots and lots of wonderful frozen things that are avocado and fruit. I put them into bars. I do lots of other things as well to complement the fudge bars, but we got to live the life that we’re going to be happy with on our deathbed as well, right?


[01:52:42] Ashley James: You know what, looking at my life, I’m not going to regret the junk food I didn’t eat. Me 10 years ago wouldn’t have agreed with that. If I died right now, I’d regret all the living I didn’t get to live. I want to live the healthiest. I would regret letting my shame hold me back from new experiences.


[01:53:08] Kathleen Trotter: Yes. A beautiful, beautiful way to put it. Yes, I agree.


[01:53:13] Ashley James: Thank you so much. This has been such a wonderful conversation.


[01:53:16] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, you’re amazing.


[01:53:17] Ashley James: Thank you, you too. I’m going to make sure the links to everything that Kathleen Trotter does are in the show notes of today’s podcast at including the links to her two books. Your website, Pretty easy to remember. And of course, we could follow you on social media. Can people work with you around the world? You’re located in Toronto, you have a studio in Toronto, but can people telecommute with you? Can they work with you over Skype around the world? How does that work?


[01:53:44] Kathleen Trotter: I don’t have any open spots for one-on-one spots. I have clients who’ve been with me for basically 20 years, and they have my one-on-one spots. But I do group coaching. It’s a five-week group coaching course. It’s called Kick Your Ass with Compassion, and you can find out about that on my website. That is group coaching. It’s usually between 8 and 12 people for five weeks. We do once a week on Zoom, and there’s a lecture group coaching, and then you get unlimited emailing with me over the five-week period about your goal.

Everybody has different goals. Some people quitting smoking, some people are trying to eat more vegetables, and some people are trying to do more exercise. The course is really about how you set goals and the principles of goal setting and having a growth mindset. A lot of the stuff we talked about today, but we break it down. I give you resources. We use my two books as textbooks. That would be the way that people from all over the world work with me. You can find information about that on my website.


[01:54:45] Ashley James: Awesome, very cool. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Is there anything you’d like to say or homework you’d like to give to wrap up today’s interview?


[01:54:51] Kathleen Trotter: The piece of homework I would give that ties everything we’ve done together is try some type of journaling, and it doesn’t have to be the way that you think. Journaling about your time spent, for example. If you are trying to find time to exercise and you’re like, I don’t have enough time. I bet if you journaled how much time you spent on TV or social media you’d be surprised at the frittering away of time that you do. Either journaling your time, journaling your food, journaling your exercise, or journaling your mood.

One of the things my therapist got me to do many, many years ago is do a journal of pre- and post-exercise what my mood was on a scale of 1-10. That data just showed me that I was always in a better mood post-exercise. You could also journal your emotions connected to food. I call it the X versus O journal. You put three circles on the page, and if you eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, eat unprocessed foods, then you just put an X through the circle. You don’t have to write anything. But if you eat, overeat, eat when you’re not hungry, or eat a lot of sugar processed foods, then you would write down what you ate. But you then write down the emotions that were connected to why you ate those things with the idea of trying to learn to connect emotions to your food.

If you look on my website or you google Kathleen Trotter journaling, I have done lots of articles on different types of journals. But they all just come back to building your awareness of the type of choices you make, why you make those choices, and how they’re connected to your emotions. You could journal sleep, you could journal anything. I think homework would just be work on knowing yourself.



[01:56:28] Ashley James: Yes, I love it. Michael Weinberger, I’ve had him on the show several times. He is bipolar—very severe. He’s got himself under control now, but he’s been suicidal many times and has been out of control many times. Been in manic mode many times, and he’s been in therapy his whole life. He’s a motivational personal growth speaker now because he shares his experience about mental health, spreading awareness, and how we can become healthier with wherever we are, whatever state we are in our mental health.

He created an app actually based on all the habits that he used to go from wanting to kill himself to leading a healthy life. It’s like a journaling app. It’s very quick. You wake up first thing in the morning and it asks you on a scale of 1-10, where are you at? Happy, sad—where are you at basically, 1-10. He might say three. Three is like I don’t want to get out of bed. I’m depressed. I don’t want to get out of bed. And then it has you journal in the app three things you’re grateful for.


[01:57:39] Kathleen Trotter: I love that. This is great.


[01:57:40] Ashley James: And it’s very quick. What does that take, a minute? And then after that, it immediately asks the same question, on a scale of 1-10, how are you doing? He doesn’t see individual people’s information. It’s all private. He can’t go see what you said, but he collects the data. Statistically, everyone feels better after one minute of focusing on gratitude. Many of the people that have this app have mental health issues they’re working through. Just imagine, regardless of where you are in your mental health, whether you consider yourself incredibly mentally healthy or you’re working on some challenges, one minute of focusing on what you’re grateful for makes us so that some people go from not wanting to get out of bed—that’s how depressed they are—to being able to get out of bed.


[01:58:26] Kathleen Trotter: That’s fantastic.


[01:58:27] Ashley James: And that’s one minute of journaling. So I love your idea of journaling because not only does it give you awareness, but sometimes if your focus can be on positive things like things you’re grateful for, that can make a big difference.


[01:58:40] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah. Well, I think that’s a great place to end and just have gratitude that we can move our body and eat healthy food. It is a hugely positive thing that we are able to do for ourselves, and I think often we think about health as something that we have to do, something that’s forced upon us. I love closing on this idea of gratitude. It’s something that we get to do. It’s a privilege.


[01:59:02] Ashley James: Yeah, awesome. Thank you so much, Kathleen. It was a pleasure having you on the show today.


[01:59:06] Kathleen Trotter: My pleasure.


[01:59:07] Ashley James: I hope you enjoyed today’s interview with Kathleen Trotter. Please join the Learn True Health Facebook group so you can enter to win a spot in Kathleen’s upcoming live and interactive group health coach program. It’s very exciting. Please visit to get a free module from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition if you’re considering becoming a health coach. And join the Learn True Health Home Kitchen. Go to and check it out. Use the coupon code LTH and learn how to make delicious, nutritious, and healing recipes. We also have some wonderful recipes for Thanksgiving and the holidays as well. Have yourself a fantastic rest of your day.


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