Pushing The Limits

Pushing the limits - the show that gets deep into the psyche of limit pushers. World leading health experts, biohackers, doctors, scientists, Out the box thinkers, elite athletes, social change innovators and high performance experts. Helping you be the best version of yourself that you can be. Cutting to the chase to find out the latest information to optimise your health, fitness, mindset, longevity. Hosted by Professional Adventure Athlete Lisa Tamati, 3 x Author, Documentary Producer, Media Personality, Speaker, Mental Toughness Coach and qualified Epigenetics Coach.
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Jun 17, 2021

It’s common to hear that a good diet and exercise can significantly improve our health. But health is more than that. Your thoughts and beliefs can change your genes and brain structure! 85% of our genes are malleable, and you can change them for the better with good practices.  

In this episode, Dr Dawson Church joins us to talk about the benefits of meditation and EFT tapping. He shares that changing our mental states can significantly impact our bodies and even our environment. The key to happiness and calm is in our hands; we just need to invest time to achieve it. 

If you want to know more about the benefits of meditation and the science behind EFT tapping, then this episode is for you. 


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Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Discover the ways you can influence and change your genes and body.
  2. Understand the benefits of meditation and achieving a flow state.
  3. Learn how to become a force of good in the world by being an emotional contagion.





  • Bliss Brain. Get it for free here! You’ll also get eight meditations that accompany each chapter of the book.




Episode Highlights

[05:52] The Benefits of Meditation and Alternative Practices

  • Dr Dawson shares how his research shows that our minds can turn thoughts and ideas into reality. 
  • People who practice meditation become really happy. 
  • Dr Dawson shares that he studied meditation, energy healing, and psychology. 
  • Through this, he transformed from a miserable teen to the happy character he is today. 
  • Dr Dawson believes that his purpose is to give the gift of happiness to others. 

[10:18] Quantifying Ancient Traditions with Science 

  • Dr Dawson shares how he was able to measure acupressure points using the galvanometer. 
  • His findings proved the integrity of the Chinese practice of energy flows. 
  • Energy treatments have shown astronomical results. Listen to the full episode to hear the breakthroughs in these treatments. 

[13:55] How to Influence Your Genes

  • While we can influence our genes with diet, recent research shows that you can also change it with your beliefs and attitudes. 
  • 15% of our genomes are fixed, while the remaining 85% are malleable. 
  • In his practice, Dr Dawson learned how anxiety spikes cortisol levels, depletes the immune system, produces calcification in the brain and more. 
  • This finding shows that it’s important to manage our thoughts and beliefs. 
  • Through this, we’re able to influence our physical bodies positively. 

[16:36] How EFT Tapping Addresses Trauma

  • EFT tapping has shown its effectiveness in resetting your emotions, especially when you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or angry. 
  • Normally, your stress response creates re-traumatisation by sending high levels of signals in your body. Over time, this can shrink the brain. 
  • When you remember a traumatic event while tapping, you can reduce the signals and break traumatic associations. 
  • Once you break the association between your traumatic memories and fight or flight response, it stays broken. 
  • EFT Tapping is a powerful tool. Learn how Dr Dawson uses this to help war veterans in the full episode! 

[25:44] Break the Trauma Loop and Calm Down

  • When traumatic memories and experiences haunt you, you fall into a trauma loop. 
  • We have evolved to become highly attuned to potential dangers, even if they’re just possibilities. 
  • Our modern world doesn’t help with this condition, where people say that it’s hard to find time to meditate and calm down. 
  • Dr Dawson shares that a few minutes of mediation will pay off. Not only will you be calmer physically and physiologically, but you will also perform better. 
  • You cannot afford not to meditate. 

[31:55] How to Get into the Flow State

  • Scientists found that when someone is in flow, they have a characteristic brainwave state. 
  • They sought to re-engineer this and train ordinary people to achieve the same state.
  • We can achieve the flow state through mediation like the mystics do or through peak performance. 
  • Once you hit this state repeatedly, your brain will be naturally addicted to the boost in anandamide. You get into the same state of bliss that you achieve through drugs. 
  • There are several other benefits of meditation. Listen to the full episode to hear what it can do. 

[37:10] Letting Go of Local Reality

  • Dr Dawson shares that great figures throughout history have let go of ordinary states to achieve the extraordinary. 
  • In meditation, you have the opportunity to let go of local reality and go to a field of consciousness. 
  • This place is where we can deliberately change our belief systems and then affect our local reality. 
  • When you enter the non-local reality, you can change the hardware of the brain. 
  • Immerse yourself in meditation, and it will change your mind and brain. Then it starts to change your whole life.  

[44:18] Mindset Changes on Sports and Exercise

  • Athletes often get injured when they’re not in the flow state. Athletes who have a long career tend to know how to pace themselves. 
  • For people looking to lose weight, it’s important to associate exercise with pleasure rather than pain. This strategy helps to stretch people’s limits without burning out. 
  • Learn to listen to your body and stop when it tells you to do so. 
  • Athletes are typically expected to push themselves. It’s the same principle: they need to learn to listen to their body and understand their limits. 
  • The way we build strength and endurance is through recovery. Don’t forget this part of the training. 

[56:11] Be an Agent of Positive Emotional Contagion

  • People can affect their environment. Our emotions and moods are contagious. 
  • We don’t know how far our positivity can reach. It can affect hundreds and even thousands. It can even save lives. 
  • Become an agent of compassion and love. Not only will you help others, but you also help yourself.  
  • Listen to the full episodes to learn about the research on spreading positivity and happiness. 

[1:05:36] Living Longer

  • On average, optimists live ten years longer than pessimists. 
  • Negative emotions are like corrosive acids that will damage your body. 
  • You need to work on being optimistic and healing your trauma simultaneously.
  • Note that this is a continuous process. 


7 Powerful Quotes from This Episode

‘I just said, “You know, universe, what is your purpose for me in the coming year?” And the universe, I heard these words, they said, “We've given you the gift of happiness. Now, go give it to everyone else, too.” So that's really what I see myself doing now and where I came from originally and where I am today.’

‘It's [EFT] like pushing the reset button for your emotions. So you're upset, you're angry or you're stressed whatever way, then you simply tap on these points very, very quickly.’

‘You cannot afford not to meditate. The gains in productivity, problem solving ability, and creativity is so enormous that if you don't spend that hour or that half hour, you are missing out on your biggest single leverage point for success in your life.’

‘In meditation for a little while, you let go of local reality, and you simply identify with the field of consciousness that is the cosmos. There's this huge information field in which we swim in it. We're like fish looking for water when we're looking for God or spirituality.’

‘I wrote in my journal, “My heart is just burning with love and bursting with gratitude”. Because you come down in the states of such ecstasy and the rest of the world in your life, and it is a world of magic. You then create that magic all around you.’

‘Athletes, first of all, when they're in the zone, when they're in flow, they injure themselves less and their performance goes up. It's that old Yerkes-Dodson law, currently referred to a little bit of stress is fine.’

‘Jesus said, “Love your enemies,” to go to them that hate you. Yeah, very good advice, even though it's 2,000 years old. And when you do this, you're producing emotional contagion around you. You have no idea how far it's going.’


About Dr Dawson Church

Dr Dawson Church is a leading health writer and researcher whose principal work includes The Genie In Your Genes, Mind To Matter and Bliss Brain. His research linked the connection of consciousness, emotion and gene expression. Moreover, he has looked into the science of peak mental states, flow states and happiness. 

With his research, Dr Dawson conducted clinical trials and founded The Institute for Integrative Healthcare to promote groundbreaking new treatments. To date, his largest program is the Veterans Stress Projects which has offered free treatment to over 20,000 veterans with PTSD.    

Dr Dawson further shares his research through EFT Universe, one of the largest alternative medicine websites. In addition, he is the science columnist for Unity magazine and has written blog posts for the Huffington Post.  

In his undergraduate and graduate courses at Baylor University, Dr Dawson was the first student to graduate from the University Scholar’s program in 1979. He earned his doctorate from the Integrative Healthcare at Holos University under the famed neurosurgeon Norman Shealy, MD, PhD, the American Holistic Medical Association founder. 

Are you interested to know more about Dr Dawson’s work? Check out his website and EFT Universe

You can also reach Dr Dawson on Twitter and Facebook.


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To pushing the limits,



Full Transcript Of The Podcast

Welcome to Pushing the Limits, the show that helps you reach your full potential with your host Lisa Tamati, brought to you by

Lisa Tamati: Welcome back to Pushing the Limits. Your host, Lisa Tamati, here with you and today I have another very, very special guest for you that is perhaps going to change your life. A really very interesting man. Dr Dawson Church, PhD,  who is an award winning science writer with three bestselling books to his credit. The Genie in Your Genes was the first book to demonstrate that emotions drive gene expression. So that's all-around epigenetics, epigenetics and how your emotions can actually change the way your genes are expressing. The second book Mind to Matter, which is really something that you must read, shows that the brain creates much of what we think of as objective reality. And his third book, Bliss Brain demonstrates that peak mental states rapidly remodel the brain for happiness. 

Now, Dawson has conducted dozens of clinical trials and founded the National Institute for Integrative Healthcare to promote ground-breaking new treatments. Its largest program, the Veteran Stress Project has offered over free treatment to over 20,000 veterans who are suffering from PTSD. All for love, no money involved, an absolute amazing project. Dawson now shares how to apply these health and performance breakthroughs through his EFT universe. It was just an absolutely fascinating conversation with him. I'm very, very interested always in neuroplasticity because I was told, with my mum story, as you all know, that there was no hope that her brain would not be able to remodel and not be able to learn again and that is so far from the truth. In his new book, A Bliss Brain, award winning science writer Dawson Church focuses on the positive and negative mood and negative thinking and how it's associated with activation of brain regions like the prefrontal cortex - the state of yourself, and positive emotions such as altruism and compassion. 

He blends cutting edge neuroscience with the stories of people who've had first-hand experience or brain change. And Bliss Brain really examines the effects of emotional states on brain structure. Suffice to say, you have to listen to this episode. I think if you're struggling with anxiety, struggling with stress, feeling the effects of ongoing long-term stress on your body and with illnesses and sicknesses and depression and all of these things that hamper just so many of us, so many of the people that I work with, and certainly I struggle with it on occasion, as well, then this is a book for you. 

Dr. Dawson really emanates happiness and joy. But that wasn't always the case, he was someone who had suffered from depression quite badly in his early years. And this is what sent him down this great path. He manages to marry the science with the traditional things like Chinese medicine and Meridians and energy medicine. He's been able to quantify it so that people like me who love science in general open minded sceptics, I like to call myself, can actually understand why these things work. And that's really, really important. 

Before we head over to Dr. Dawson. I just like to remind you, we have now our Patron membership for the podcast. If you'd like to get involved with the podcast, if you'd like to support what we do here at Pushing the Limits. We've been doing it now for five and a half years, and near on 200 episodes. I can tell you, into each episode goes a heck of a lot of work and a lot of research, and a lot of book reading, a lot of time. And we really need — to keep this on air — we really need your help. So if you'd like to come and support us and get a whole lot of extra member benefits, then head on over to, that's You can join us in our tribe there. I would really, really appreciate you doing that. And as always, please give us a rating and review for the show because that really does help us as well and share it with your family and friends if you get benefit from us. I'd also love to hear from you, if you've got a question about one of the guests. If you want to dive deeper into one of the topics, please reach out to me,

I'd like to remind you too, that we also have our epigenetics program, which is our flagship program that we have that looks at your genes and how to optimise your genes, and how to understand the nuance of what foods, what times of the day, what types of exercise, what are your dominant hormones, what are your dominant neurotransmitters and how that plays out in your life. So if you'd like to join us for that, please head over to and go under the Work With Us button and you'll see all the information there. 

Now over to Dr. Dawson Church.

Lisa: Hi everyone, and welcome to Pushing the Limits. I'm super excited to have you here with me today. I have an absolute legend, a man who has done so much research and so much good in the world, Dr. Dawson Church with me. Welcome to the show. Dawson, it's really, really exciting to have you with us today. Thanks for taking the time. 

Dr. Dawson Church: For me, too, Lisa. We have had such fun now and the next hour. We just had off the air, this would be a fabulous time for you and me and everyone else combined.

Lisa: Exactly. We already had a couple of really good connections. That’s fantastic. 

So, Dawson, well, you are an incredible man with a number of books. You have your research, you're an expert on the brain and the mind and body connection. Can you give us a little bit of background about how did you get into the space and what you've been studying? I mean, it's a big question, but we'll start there anyway.

Dr. Dawson: Well, let’s start right in the middle. I worked at a book about five years ago called Mind to Matter. It was really off the cuff project — I was interviewing scientists, I was trying to trace all of the scientific pieces, the links, the chain between having a thought and a thing. And I thought, “Well, I'll find some links to the chain, not others.” But I found all of them. It was so interesting to see how our thoughts literally become things, how our brains function like transducers, from the universal field of information and we then manifest those things all around us. While I was doing that I got into —  so I've been meditating everyday for like 20 years plus — but I own some really esoteric forums, our meditation practice by masters who've done it like 10,000 hours. By the end, I find myself getting really, really, really, really happy. I was already a really happy person. But at the end, I had to find myself getting super happy, no matter what the circumstances. But we had to look at all why people who do certain styles of meditation gets so happy. That's why I wrote the book, Bliss Brain. I began the process, 50 years before that, as a teenager, when I was so toxically depressed and anxious and miserable. I was suicidal, I mean, I want to just kill myself when I was 12, 13, 14 years old. And I looked into my own eyes, walked past a full-length mirror one day when I was 15, looked into my own eyes, and I said to myself, those are the saddest eyes I've ever seen. I realised I was so messed up inside. So, I went to live on a spiritual community for many years. I learned meditation, learned energy healing, studied psychology. Wanted to figure out how I could make myself happier, and got a little bit happier over the years. And then when I began to meditate every single day, I didn't have to use energy therapies like EFT tapping, suddenly I got a lot happier. After Mind to Matter, doing these esoteric meditations, got super happy, I want to then just tell it to the world. So I had this epiphany. But I don't want to retreat every New Year's Eve and spend about two, three weeks just really getting quiet meditating, asking the universe, “What are my marching orders for the coming year?” 

I was walking the labyrinth with a group of about 40 people at a meditation centre in New Year's, couple of years ago. I stood at the centre of the labyrinth at the stroke of midnight. And I just said, “Universe, what is your purpose for me in the coming year?” And the universe, I heard these words, they said, “We've given you the gift of happiness. Now, go give it to everyone else, too.” So that's really what I see myself doing now and where I came from originally and where I am today.

Lisa: Oh, wow, that is beautifully put in. So, Bliss Brain because you’ve written a number of books. Mind to Matter was the last one and then Bliss Brain is this one. And when people are listening to this, a lot of people will think, “Well, yes.” But is this, especially a lot of the people that are scientifically, believe in the science and they want evidence. What I found so interesting with your work is that you've met managed to marry the science, the quantified effects of energy medicine, of meditation, of pressure points, of EFT, all of these things is energy, things and actually quantified those with science in very rigorous-based, evidence-based, which for me is always a fascinating thing. Because I'm very much an open minded person, but I like to have that rigor, that sceptical mind, that prefrontal cortex that often jumps in and goes, “But is this real?” And you said, on the cusp between, being open minded and being scientific and you've seem to marry these two, just beautifully in your work and being able to quantify some of the ancient traditions the Chinese medicine, the Meridians, these types of things that have been known for thousands of years, but are now actually being shown to be correct and with science. Can you tell us about that? 

Dr. Dawson: What's amazing is if you're taking a pedal instrument, handheld instrument, called the galvanometer. It's battery powered, it picks up the electrical resistance on your skin. And so, at my live workshops, I will run this over people's skin, and the little muscle device makes beeping sound whenever it hits an acupuncture point. And it's because those points are very, very high conductance, low resistance. You'll run this little deal over the person's face, nothing's happening, it'll hit an acupuncture point like this over here is on the bladder meridian, this point over here, and suddenly the machine goes crazy and starts beeping and flashing only in this tiny point about a millimetre in diameter, and no other surrounding skin. That's the exact point shown in a 2400-year-old Chinese scroll. 

These ancients knew about all these points, energy flows, the chakras, the meridians, and so on. Now, we have instrumentation to measure them. At least the cool thing about the measurement process is, as we're measuring the effects of energy therapies, energy treatments, we're finding that as we quantify them, the effects aren't tiny. They aren't 3%, 5%. Sometimes they're astronomical. Like for example, the EFT. So in meta-analysis, meta-analys-s gathered together 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 studies into a bundle. And then, they extract all the information on a scale of how effective a therapy is. An effective therapy gets a score of two. A really effective therapy gets a score of five, and an extremely effective therapy is a score of eight. So two, five, eight, those are the three points in a meta-analysis that tells you whether a therapy has some effect or a huge effect. 

In studies in meta-analysis of EFT tapping for anxiety on that 2-5-8 scale, the effect of EFT is 12. It’s off the odds, off the scale, off the chart. Same thing for depression, same thing for PTSD. So now that we're quantifying these therapies, meditation, EFT, other kinds of therapies, we're applying some of them, have incredible results at the level of the genome, proteins, proteins expression, enzymes, all kinds of processes in our bodies.

Lisa: Wow, that is, okay, because you've written a book called The Genie in Your Genes. It was a marvellous title because I studied epigenetics and genetics. I know that you collaborated on the book with Dr. Bruce Lipton. I was like that’s one of my favourite books of all time, and actually got me down this rabbit hole of epigenetics. And so, I've looked at epigenetics in relation to the food and the nutrition and the social environment and your neurotransmitters and these sorts of things. But when I heard you talking about how it affects, like meditation — you're able to see, I think it was 72 genes or something, where it actually changes the expression of those genes in real time, when you're doing these meditations. And these were areas, I mean you know the areas better than me, perhaps you can talk about it. Because I think a lot of people don't understand that we have a DNA that we've inherited from mum and dad, that's our code if you like. But all throughout life and throughout every day and with everything that we do, we're turning genes on and off for the want of a better description, up regulating or down regulating certain genes with our environment. So what sort of things can we influence through meditation and through EFT, and so on?

Dr. Dawson: That is the key question to ask me, Lisa. We can influence our gene expression with things like diet. You eat certain foods and eat really healthy foods is to turn on certain genes and result and certain processes in your body. And so, the early after they studied and study, 1999, 2002, were all about introducing dietary factors usually in experimental subjects of rats, mice, and then seeing how that affected their gene expression. But what I am much more interested in than things like drugs and external factors like food, is I am super interested in what we can do with this thing behind our bars over here and our beliefs and our attitudes and our energy. It turns out, I mean, that's funny you just mentioned, by done by remarkable, insight-filled therapist called Beth Maharaj. And she found that in an EFT session, a one hour EFT session of psychotherapy using EFT acupuncture tapping, all those acupuncture points, 72 genes were changed. And again, about 15% of our genome is fixed, like I am two metres tall, I have grey eyes and brown hair, not very much of that anymore, and I just have certain physical characteristics that are what they are. Those are fixed genes, but those are only about 15% of the genome. The other 85% is changed. When I have a negative thought, I start producing cortisol, I send a signal down to the medulla on my adrenal glands, my adrenal gland starts producing cortisol, and adrenaline. Adrenaline is your fast-acting, stress hormone; cortisol is your slow acting, but still, it hasn't two minutes and two minutes is turning everything on and off all kinds of other processes off in your body. 

And so I'm doing that with my mind alone. If I'm having high cortisol day after day because I'm worried, because I'm stressed, because I’m anxious. Now, what I'm doing is I'm driving my body into this fight or flight state over and over and over again, chronic stress. It's depleting everything else, my body, my immune system, it results in muscular wasting. It literally, over time, produces calcification of the brain's learning memory centres. And you want a lot of calcium in your teeth, a lot of calcium in your bones. You do not want calcium in your brain, but it does. It literally deposits calcium in your brain's memory centres. So that is the effect epigenetically of our thoughts and our beliefs. So, it's so important that we take control of this, like there's a saying in the biology of belief that has positively positive thoughts releasing the ones going our way as having a dramatic effect on our physical bodies.

Lisa: And this is like, because I've seen those scans where you have the shrunken brain that's been exposed to a lot of stress. The hippocampus shrinks and the prefrontal cortex and then you have the healthy brain that's nice and plump on the other side, if you like. It is a very good visual because this is very much like we tend to think, ‘Well, yes, I'm stressed and but that's neither here nor there, toughen up and get on with it’ type of attitude. I think that this, I think we need to distinguish between short term hermetic stressors, which are good for us - the things like going in the sauna, or going into cold water or going for a run and exercise and things like that, that are slightly outside the comfort zone. But not these long-term or even medium-term stressors that are going on day for day and week upon week, and month upon month. Those are the ones that really, when you are affecting the genes on a daily basis and your cortisol, and your adrenaline are just pumping all the time. 

And this is something like with my genetic makeup, I have a deficiency in receptors of dopamine, so I'm constantly after dopamine. I'm always chasing the source that I can never reach, right? And I have a lot of adrenaline and I was exposed to a lot of testosterone in the womb. So I have that personality that take action, risk taking, jumping, still playing, no strategy, that type of a personality. And these things really affect us. 

However, I can take control of that through practice. I can do things that can actually help me control my innate biology if you like. So, how can people, I wanted to ask, because I think a lot of people won't know what EFT is, per se. Would you explain what that particular type of energy work is? 

Dr. Dawson: EFT is very popular. It's used by over 20 million people worldwide. It's grown purely by word of mouth, there is no drug company, there is no advertising campaign, people study each other on EFT. It is often called tapping because you simply tap like this on acupuncture points. There are about 13 W's, commonly they're linked to the 13 meridians of the body. It's amazing. I'm working on a video now where I have to describe EFT in two minutes. And it's like the body's reset switch. A therapist used that in a paper, in a peer-reviewed journal recently. It's like pushing the reset button for your emotions. So if you're upset, you're angry or you're stressed whatever way, then you simply tap on these points very, very quickly and it resets you. 

So, there are several of these points. While you are thinking about the bad stuff in your life, you combine that reflection of ruminating on the stuff that bothers you with the tapping. And if you ruminate on the bad stuff, what happens normally, if you're just thinking about the bad stuff, is you're sending a signal through those neural bundles and they're getting bigger and bigger and faster. That's what we call re-traumatisation. That's when you re-traumatise yourself and we find over time, that shrinks the brain; the brains of people who are traumatised as children are on average 8% smaller than those who weren't traumatised as children. Traumatic stress is, it isn't psychological, it's physiological. So that's what you're doing if you're retraumatising yourself. 

If you remember that bad thing at the same time you tap, then what we see in MRI EFT studies is that the emotional midbrain gets all upset, it's all aroused as a result of thinking about the bad things. When you start tapping, all that arousal just goes down. For example, one veteran I was working with, because we work with over 20,000 veterans, giving them free treatment free of charge. What one veteran was really bothered by a memory when he was in Iraq, he was a medic. And right in the beginning of his tour of duty, one of his friends was shot. And so, he had to deal with all the gruesomeness of that friend's death. One of the things he had to do was he had to clean the uniform of his dead friend to send back to his mum and dad back in the US. Cleaning the human remains and tissue out of the uniform was tremendously triggering for him. He remembers this event, he was cleaning them out in the medic’s hut. And then he'd have to run outside to take a breath of fresh air because the smell was so bad that he'd run back in a little more cleaning, run back out again. We tapped on this terrible traumatic memory. He just then had this complete sense of relaxation. He said, ‘I'm so glad I was the person who got to clean that uniform because it was my way of honouring my friend’. And as his emotional midbrain calmed down, his story changed to where it was no longer one of tragedy, but one of honouring and one of love and one affection with his friend, and you do this act of service. So if he shifts brains function that way, and it shifts it in just a few seconds like that. There's no therapy, there's no elaborate attempt to understand how you are the way you are, you just tap while you're remembering the bad stuff, while all of those new neural pathways are fully engaged, that then calms the brain down immediately. And then I met this young man again, I saw him again, about three months later, talked about the uniform, talked about his dead friend, he was still totally calm about it. And we find in long-term studies, that once you break the association in the brain between that traumatic memory and going into fight or flight, the association stays broken, and people find later on down the road.

Lisa: That is absolutely amazing because I think, the longer we all live, we all end up with traumatic, hopefully not as horrific experiences as that.  Are you aware I had last week on the show Dr. Don Wood, who I'd love to introduce you actually to. He is also a trauma expert who works with vets and PTSD and everything, addiction and so on. He has a four-hour program that he takes people into the, out of beta into alpha brainwave states and takes that high definition sort of movie that's playing in people's heads around this event or events. And he says, as a description, puts it into black and white, and it's no longer triggering. So probably a different direction to get to a similar result. But you think we can do this actually, in minutes with EFT, where you can actually take away the power of that memory. Because I mean, I've been through, unfortunately, my listeners know, I lost my dad, just seven months ago, eight months ago. It was a very traumatic event and process that we went through. The intruding memories, the recurrent nightmares, all of the horror that surrounds that event is very powerful, how much it drains your daily life and your energy. I've found, since that event, I've been doing various things, but it's still very, very raw and very real to me. You are triggered a hundred times a day, and it's just draining your power to be able to work fully in the world, and to be the best version of you that you can be. I sort of know that and I'm trying to work out ways. So this is definitely one that I'm going to jump into.

Dr. Dawson: Sorry, you lost your dad and what you'll find is that you don't have to let go at the normal sense. In fact, we encourage people to really grieve, really get into their feelings, that and then do the tapping as well. What happens is you process them very quickly. So we aren’t telling these veteran, ‘Don't think about the bad thing. Don't think about the death. Don't think about all the trauma’. We say, ‘Do think about it, but tap while you're doing it’. And then that breaks the association in the brain between that traumatic memory and going into that stress response. 

So I really encourage you to do that because we've seen so many people do this now. We work with examples, with kids who lost their parents in the Rwandan genocide. Many of them, still 25 years later, have severe PTSD. We work with victims of school shootings in the US and various places. And again, mothers and fathers who've lost their kids in school shootings. We work with them successfully with EFT. So it's not like we're just working on superficial stuff, but it is that we're trying to work on what you’re being worried about in the report you have to turn it into your boss next week, and it also works on severe psychological trauma.

Lisa: This is so exciting. And it is like resetting the brain. I mean, Dr. Woods mentions that it's sort of like a error glitch, and you're just going round and round and you can't get out of this sort of pattern of things. 

Dr. Dawson: Yes. The trauma loop, we call it the trauma loop. The trauma loop, it's literally a loop between the thymus, thalamus, hypothalamus, the hippocampus, the amygdala in the centre of the brain. What's supposed to be happening is that input associated be referred to the prefrontal cortex and other regions to moderate emotions. And it isn't; it's stuck in an emotional midbrain, looping and looping and looping. Here’s the thing is, you can't talk yourself out of it. Like I was worried about a situation at work a few weeks ago, and I would say to myself, ‘It's time to meditate now. It’s 6am in the morning, I'm meditating. I will not think about that thing at work’. Well, of course, within nervous sighs, obsessed with a theory, I say that ‘Dawson, I'm going to let that go. It's meditation time now. I'm not thinking about thing at work, I’m going to return my mind to the meditative state’. Now, the thing at work, we cannot talk ourselves out of it, our conscious minds hard, because our brains didn't evolve that way. Our brains evolved to be extremely attuned to the tiger in the grass, or the remotest possibility, the tiger in the grass. And if you had an ancestor who took her mind off the potential threat to focus on smelling the flowers —

Lisa: You wouldn't be here.

So it makes sense that we have this hyper vigilance. When you've got a PTSD situation going on, you're really hyper vigilant, and you're in this constant state. But it is even all the little things, like in preparation for this interview yesterday, I was just so into researching and stuff. And then all night, my brains just going about Dr. Dawson and what he's doing. Like at three o'clock in the morning, I had to get up and read, keep reading one of your books because it was just, it's not leaving my brain. And then I did my breathing exercises, I did my meditation and eventually went back to sleep. So, you gave me a bit of a sleepless night last night.

Dr. Dawson: I’m so sorry about that. 

Lisa: But in a good way. 

Dr. Dawson: At least you’re reading something good.

Lisa: Yeah, well  in a good way, because I was excited about all this stuff. I think it's very powerful. As a health coach, and I work with people on a daily basis. Probably the first thing that people come to me with is depression and anxiety. And then all the health problems and in follow on from that, and that seems to be what so many people are dealing with on an absolute day to day basis. In our modern world, I think that a lot of these things, not that our ancestors didn't have stressors, because they obviously did. But we have perhaps, a hundred tigers coming at us a day in the form of grumpy emails from our bosses or whatever. The amount we have to process in a day for many of us, especially people working on computers and all that sort of stuff with a thousand things coming at you all the time. And it can feel like and so, often, I say when I say to people, ‘You need to do some meditation, and you need to calm the mind. You need to get out in nature’. But they go, ‘I haven't got time. I haven't got time. I'm working 17 hours a day, and I’m a mom of three, how the hell am I going to find time to meditate?’ What's your answer to that? 

Dr. Dawson: Actually, you don't have time to meditate. In one piece of research, I talked about several of these in my book, Bliss Brain. One piece of research done by really forward thinking US agency called the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, they've been at the forefront of all kinds of parts of the human potential movement for the last 50 years. They did a study of complex decision-making. Now, this isn't whether I should have grilled cheese or macaroni for lunch, this is when you have to do a scenario that’s meant to solve global warming, or reduce the deficit or solve racial violence in a city. It's the really complicated problems. What they found was that when you're in a kind of flow state, generated by meditation, that people are 490 times better, percent better at solving complex problems; five times is good. Another study by the McKinsey Consulting Group found a 10 year study of high performance executives found that they are five times as productive when they're in these flow states. We're measuring flow now as people meditate, we're finding the same thing. So that even 15 minutes, 20 minutes spent at the end of the day will literally pay dividends. Another series of studies done by Harvard University found that if you do that for only an hour, meditate for an hour, you are more productive and more creative for 48 hours in the future. So you cannot afford not to meditate. The gains in productivity, problem solving ability and creativity are so enormous that if you don't spend that hour or that half hour, you are missing out on your biggest single leverage point for success in your life. 

Lisa: Well, that's a really good argument for it. Have you read the book, we’re talking about Steven Kotler, have you read Stealing Fire?

Dr. Dawson: I love Stealing Fire, I’ve seen Steven Kotler several times on that and I use — and I have five books, in Bliss Brain and the acknowledgments say, ‘This book, Bliss Brain, was based, there five people really influenced me’. As Steven Kotler’s Stealing Fire was one of those five. 

Lisa: His book really influenced me, too. It was like, ‘Wow, this is incredible stuff, understanding how to get into the flow state’. As an athlete and my background as a ultra-endurance athlete, we did stupid distances. I would sometimes get into that flow state, and I still can't do it at will, unfortunately. Maybe I need to meditate more. But the performance that you could bring when you were in that state was far beyond what you normally could bring, and understanding how to tap into that on an actual day to day basis. I find it, too, in a previous life, I was a jeweller as well, so I was a goldsmith in head shops, retail shops. And that I would get into the flow state making jewellery when I was creative, now in painting. So when I get time, do those types of things like painting and making something, do they qualify as meditation? I mean, what actually qualifies as meditation because a lot of people seem to think you have to be sitting on your floor or with your legs crossed and humming or something, doing a chant. Is that the only way to meditate?

Dr. Dawson: After World War II, there was a British engineer who worked on the radar system in the defence of Britain and his name is Maxwell Cade. And he put together a simple EG, and they had hook up spiritual masters. This EG, he was reading the five basic brainwaves — now, we know there are more than that — but he was reading the simple brainwaves. What he discovered is that he took up a Pentecostal faith healer, or a Taoist healer from China, or he hooked up a Confucian or in like a Buddhist or a Hindu or kabbalistic Jewish mystic. What he found was that even though their religious backgrounds and religious practices were totally different, they all have the same brainwave pattern. So that was the pattern of the mystics, we now knew what it was. 

I talked about this in Bliss Brain,  this void of discovery, as Maxwell Cade was doing this in the 50s and 60s. And then he had a student, at a wise he had hooked out. They said, ‘Well, let's hook up other people. Let's hook up Louie Armstrong. Let's look up jazz musicians in flow’. And they found same bliss brain pattern in them. They said, ‘Well, let's hook up some high performing executives and business people who are at their peaks and scientists’. So they found that regardless of the profession, whether in flow, they all have this characteristic brainwave state. The next thing that we had to realise over the last 20 years of MRI research is, now this is crucial, we used to think that it was just one of those happy accidents. There are only a few Louis Armstrong's. There are only a few Hussein Bolts. There only are a few Swami Vivekananda’s. We used to think these were special people. Once we discovered the brainwave state, some smart scientists then said, ‘Let's reverse engineer this. Let's train ordinary people to attain the same brainwave state’. And lo and behold, bliss brain, they could. We now like — I do seven, eight retreats sometimes. I'm doing virtual retreats now, but we do live retreats, usually once or twice a year. And the first day, it's going to take people, maybe we can induce that state, usually within 30 minutes. By the end of the retreat, start four minutes, they have learned to hit the state of a 10,000-hour meditation master. And they're doing it in under four minutes at the end by the end of the retreat. 

So they're trainable now that we're reverse engineering them. And so one state, one way into the flow state is through meditation like the mystics do. The second way is through peak performance. Either way, you can get to that same state and be ignited by flow triggers that put you into that state, and they're reliable. They put you in that state every single time. And once you hit that state, Lisa, over and over and over again, the cool thing in bliss brain is all about addiction. For example, the one molecule that you generate in your brain in these deep states is called anandamide. It has the same chemical structure as THC, the active molecule in marijuana, docks the same receptor sites in your brain. 

So you're flooding what are called your endocannabinoid receptors in your body and your brain, with natural THC, just generated by your own brain. It's a very big boost of serotonin. You're mentioning dopamine earlier, and I'm going to send you a meditation that, I've just been playing with this recently. This isn't available to the public and won’t be for about two years. But Mind Valley is working on a huge new program, and we're training people in this one meditation. They literally feel the rush of dopamine they get because dopamine is the same reward system as engaged by cocaine and heroin. So they're sitting there doing this meditation. They're getting serotonin, which is the same as suicide and magic mushrooms. Same Lego structure, they're getting anandamide, THC. They're getting the same molecules that are getting in ayahuasca cocaine and heroin and alcohol, all in one meditation. And so what we're now having to do, it's so crazy, we're bringing people to these ecstatic states, when you read Rumi and St. Catherine of Sienna. I mean, these people were in absolute bliss. Essentially their brains were full of these endogenous drugs. And so, we’re actually learning to generate these in people's brains. What we now have to do at the end of my meditations is you have to spend a few minutes, talk people down, talking them down off this high. They are so spaced out, they can't drive a car, they open their eyes off meditation, they don't know what planet we’re on. So we spend some time doing some orienting. ‘By the way, your name is what's the name again? What time of day, is it? Which country do you live in? What's your job?’ So we have to help them back into reality because they get so far out there, in just a few minutes of meditation. We’re now able to do that.

Lisa: Without any extraneous sort of, chemicals and things that can damage your impulse? 

Dr. Dawson: No, none whatsoever. 

Lisa: I have to ask this — because and this maybe outside the wheelhouse a little bit — when you're in those sorts of states, do you think you can connect? Is there a spiritual, wouldn’t you know? Do you believe that there's a spiritual dimension to what's on the other side, when people pass away, when we die? Is that what the mystics and some of the spiritual healers are tapping into something higher? I mean, I know we probably can't measure this, although I've just read some books on NDEs like near death experiences and the scientific rigor that a couple of these amazing scientists have spent years studying. What's your take, just your personal take on these higher states and being able to connect perhaps, to something beyond us?

Dr. Dawson: Albert Einstein wrote in the 1930s, he wrote that also the big discoveries have been made in that altered state of oneness with the universe. In chapter 15 of his book Think and Grow Rich, people think that Napoleon Hill's book from the 1930s Think and Grow Rich is about money, but it's actually about spirituality. It's about letting go. Napoleon Hill says, ‘I let go of my ordinary states, I enter an altered reality. And there I commune with St. Francis of Assisi, and Thomas Edison, and Napoleon Bonaparte, and all these great figures from the past. And that's where I download all of my answers, these questions from’.

So throughout history, people have been letting go of — what I call, now in my books, I call this local reality and non-local reality. And so in meditation, for a little while, you let go of local reality, and you simply identify with the field of consciousness that is the cosmos. There's this huge information field in which we swim in it. We're like fish looking for water. When we're looking for God or spirituality, we're like the fish looking for water. We're swimming in consciousness, and our brains are not generating consciousness. Our brains are transceivers of consciousness from this universal field. They then translate this universal appeal information into what we think of as local reality. But we're making up or making it up and we change our minds. When we shift our belief systems, when we orient ourselves deliberately to non-local reality, our local reality shifts dramatically and super quickly. Our brain shift, Lisa, in one of the examples I give in Mind to Matter, I talk about a TV reporter called Graham Phillips, who has a show called Catalyst. He went on an eight-week meditation retreat. They took his whole TV crew into a lab. They did a whole work up on his brain, his body. They use the high resolution MRI to measure the volume of neurons in each part of his brain. He then learned to meditate over the next eight weeks, and they brought him back to the lab after eight weeks ran the MRI scans again and the piece of his brain that is responsible for coordinating emotional regulation across different brain regions called the dentate gyrus — it's really tiny, it's about the size of a little fingernail, but it's right in the centre of your brain. It has tentacles going all over the brain and helps regulate being upset, being irritable, being angry, being annoyed, being stressed. That, the hardware of his dentate gyrus grew 22.8% in eight weeks. When you enter a non-local reality, it's changing the hardware of your brain, and it's not taking 10,000 hours, it's doing it in just a few hours. And he then started to see very different as your transceiver, transducer changes, then it is very different results outside of yourself. 

So we are pure consciousness, we happen to be the body for a little while. We won't have a body forever. What you can do is every morning meditation. You can simply let go of local reality, you become one with non-local reality. The other cool thing there is when you come down from that space, Lisa, you are so full of love. I mean, I just cry when I come down. I walked on the beach the other day after meditation, I was just weeping with gratitude. I wrote in my journal, ‘My heart is just burning with love and bursting with gratitude’. Because you come down in the states of such ecstasy and the rest of the world in your life, and it is a world of magic. You then create that magic all around you. That's how I write my books. That's how I live my life, how I do my marriage and children and friends and everything. Well, I just can’t tell you how let's call this brain. It isn't like I'm feeling a little bit of hay brain, it is an ecstatic brain. I mean, in this exciting state, and becomes your new normal. Every day, it starts to change your physical brain. It starts to change the hardware of your brain, and then that starts to change your entire life.

Lisa: That sounds like a piece of something that I want. And I think, everybody who is listening will be like, ‘I want what that guy's got’. Because you emanate this. I've listened to many of your lectures and your talks and your podcasts and stuff, and you emanate this beautifulness — for want of a better description — it just seems to pour out of you. That is obviously the work that you've done. What I find, I was listening on Ben Pakulski, my amazing man. You're on his podcast, that was one of the ones that I listened to. He was talking about, as an athlete, and I've had an athletic background. As a young athlete, especially, and he said he was the same, we're actually running from stuff and we were fighting and we were forcing and actually probably brutalising our bodies in order to deal with something that was going on in our brains and trying to prove things. I think a lot of athletes live in that state and it's actually encouraged to live in that state, if you have a burning and I've even propagated the state and others. Where you're using the fire of anger, of being put down, of being let down to fuel your performance. And into a certain degree that works. I mean, being obviously, an incredible bodybuilder in my life that turned into running ridiculous kilometres and across deserts and so on. I don't run any more though stupidly long distances. One of the reasons is, I don't have the massive issues in my brain anymore. I have not needing to run away from something, prove something. I'm not saying that all athletes are doing this. But I do think that there is a large number of people who are handling things through expression of this sports, and how do you change that mindset? Because I still very much have that mindset. When I go to the gym, I'm there to smash myself, I'm going to punish myself, I'm going to work hard. I'm going to push through the pain barriers because that is the culture we've grown up as athletes. You work hard. If it's not hurting, then you're probably not doing it enough. How do we change that conversation and reach still these very elite levels without having that type of a mentality? Sorry for that. 

Dr. Dawson: If you aren't in flow, you will injure yourself. I remember interviewing members of American football players and these are usually very large men. They’re very large men and they're very athletic, and they can jump like a metre share, vertical jump, and they reach remarkable speeds. They can start running and running really, really, really quickly, the catching. I remember this one young man said, ‘This is my million-dollar hand’. He was going to pay a lot of money as an American football star and he said ‘I've broken my fingers, at least one sometimes two or three times every season. And I can't afford to have this happen to my million-dollar hand’. After he learned EFT, after he learned to meditate, after he learned centring, getting into flow each game, he never broke another finger. He had one injury when he was just learning to meditate and do EFT. And they said, ‘Oh, it's the Achilles tendon injuries. You'll be out of the game for at least 12 weeks or maybe 16 weeks.’ Three weeks later, he was fine. And so, athletes, first of all, when they're in the zone, when they're in flow, they injure themselves less and their performance goes up. It's that old Yerkes-Dodson law, currently referred to a little bit of stress is fine. Anyone has a little bit of stress. Now what I'm what I'm getting at right now, I mean, to you and me, if I didn't have a fair amount of cortisol and adrenaline, I'd be a really boring guest. 

Lisa: To some degree, we want that when we’re ready. 

Dr. Dawson: We want that. Absolutely, but not too much of it.

Lisa: And like we're in a flow state, I'm in a flow state right now. Because I feel like I am because I just love learning from people like you. I'm just, give me more, all the heroes and stuff, because I'm learning and that is for me, one of my flow states studying and science. That really helps me. But how do we change that conversation for athletes? So that they're not going out to deliberately hurt themselves, but still able to reach those. I remember one story if you don't mind sharing, I think it was with your niece? Was it Jessica or something?

Dr. Dawson: Yes, Jessica. 

Lisa: Do you mind sharing that story? 

Dr. Dawson: Yeah, she is the national champion at rhythmic gymnastics. She meets me out there after the rank every year. So four years in a row, she was the US national champion. But again, she was pushing herself, she was collapsing inside. She was not doing it all well. On the outside, her performances look great. On the inside, she was just suffering and she eventually just couldn't go anymore, and just had withdrawn from the sport and collapsed. So that's not sustainable. What you find for the athletes who have a long-term career usually is they've learned to pace themselves. They've learned to reach that state of flow and stay there over time, they aren’t pushing themselves. 

The other cool thing that happens, I've done a lot of work with women who are overweight or obese. They are often at war with their bodies, they have been ignoring their bodies, turning their bodies out, hating their bodies for over four decades. They don't like exercise on the whole. And it's hard for them to exercise. Like if you're heavy, there’s strain on your joints and your muscles. It's difficult to exercise, there's no great reward for exercising. So what we try to do, we don't even call that module of our program exercise, we call it joyful movement. Joyful movement. And so I say, ‘Go to the gym. Grab that maybe a 10-pound weight. And if you're just doing dumbbells and doing 10-pound weight, that's fine. If you have a goal of doing 10 reps, do as many reps as you feel good doing. Wait for the endorphin rush to kick in when you feel good. And the moment you feel bad, stop’. Now what they do is they then do eight and then they start to feel bad or stray, they stop at eight. Now they’re feeling an endorphin rush today. And maybe in the next week they feel the endorphin rush, and they're doing 11. But what has then happened is that they are associating going to the gym with pleasure neurochemicals, not with pain. And then you can't keep away from exercise. I mean, once you've learned to rejig your neurochemistry, to re-associate those exercise bands, or that piece of exercise equipment, or your kayak or your mountain bike with pleasure, rather than with compulsion and pain, then you find people are highly motivated to exercise. So we retrain them to do this. It also has the effect of listening and listening to their bodies. No longer is your body a threat and a problem. It's now something to listen to. It's a signal, ‘Hey, this doesn't feel good’. You stopped right away. So in my own workouts, if I decided to do 20 reps or something, and after 17, I'm no longer feeling good. I stopped at 17, then my body is saying, ‘Wow, 17 feels wonderful’. And then you completely change your conditioning to make that exercise a joy and a pleasure. After a while, you can't stop people going to the gym, if you use your own neurochemistry in an intelligent way like that.

Lisa: Well and you don't limit your performance when you do that? Because like, as an athlete you know that you have to endure a certain amount of pain to reach the next level, or that's what we've been told at least.  You have to high intensity interval training and better back in CrossFit and rah, rah rah. The gentle approach, I can see being super good for somebody who's never exercised and just wants to break into this field, does the same apply for elite athletes wanting to get to the best that they can be? Because you're up against the competition that are training in this way of brute force training type of way. Is that as well? 

Dr. Dawson: Yeah that too is a way of training, one way of training is the brute way of training. The other way is the supported way of training. That's a very good question. So that way works great for people who are getting into exercise for the first time. But what about people who are at that elite level? 

There is a time to push yourself and there’s a time to back off. Only you know that. No one else can really tell you what that point is. But you know yourself. Like me, for example, I do a lot of mountain biking. There are sometimes where there's a long, steep hill. I’m exhausted and I think, ‘I'm exhausted, there's a steep hill ahead. I am just kind of go for it’. And it feels so exciting to do that. But if I had a coach saying, ‘Go for it’. If I was riding with somebody, and they would say, ‘Go for it’. I was trying to keep up with them. And I wasn't listening to my body, then probably I'd injured myself. That's what I have injured myself actually, in the past. So, you tune into yourself, and no one else is something no coach knew for you. 

Are you meant to just put in that extra burst of effort? And then transcend yourself. We don't know for another person, we only know for ourselves. So it's really an interesting meditation. And again, it means being sensitive to yourself to know when to do that. The other thing is, it's not the same every day, we have by rhythm. Sometimes, we are just so in rhythm. That's the time to say, ‘I was planning on this 35-minute routine, I need to do the 55 minute routine instead.’ And you just know that day, ‘I’m so in-sync, my body wants to do that.’ You get good at reading your body and you know. I think the best lead athletes and how are some football players, the average football player in the National Football League in the US has about a 4-year career. How does someone like Tom Brady have a career that spans decades? You want these great athletes often, or great musicians or great scientists. They aren't a flash in the pan, they’re sustaining peak performance over time. I think they're the ones who are pacing themselves. 

Lisa: Yeah. And are the ones that are listening to the body. I think, with training athletes, I often say, ‘If you start, you have to sort of look at how has your day been? How much sleep did you get? Did you hydrate? Have you had a lot of stress?’ Before you decide what your training is today. Even if we've put it on your plan to do a big, hard long training session, but you had a very bad night or something went wrong yesterday, then maybe today, we want to shift that out. And it's learning to be that sort of intuitive and rather than rigid, ‘This is what coaches said, and this is what I'm doing because I have to do that.’ The give and take means that you will eventually have more performance. I think, while others also, is in the recovery phase is where you actually get the benefit, not on the training phase. Contrary to people think that when we’re actually doing the weights is when we’re getting the strength. No, it's actually in recovery. So if you're not recovering properly, and you're just smashing yourself again the next day, then you're not going to get there with those wins anyway. 

That’s just a new perspective for me to take on and maybe I'll be a little bit more gentler on mum in the gym today. She might be thanking you later, Dawson. I had her yesterday in the gym and we were doing weights. She doesn't like weight. She doesn't mind the treadmill and the bike and so on but when it comes to weights, I'm pushing her quite hard, “Come on, mom. You can do it.” Maybe I need to be a little bit more, how shall we say, sensitive. 

Dr. Dawson: Yeah, also, if somebody you trust, like for example, a teacher will challenge you. A teacher will, we mentor people, we train people in EFT, in meditation and we train trainers, we train practitioners and that certified what's called clinical EFT, using EFT with other people. We push them. We definitely say that that's a challenge and we recommend you go for it. And sometimes your coach will see a possibility in you, you don’t see in yourself. Well very often we see that this person could be a brilliant healer, they might be a bus driver or a hairdresser, and we’ll say, ‘You can do this’. And we’re experts, we know that they can. So it does take an extra lie sometimes. 

Also on the spiritual journey, take somebody that you talk to. I train thousands of EFT practitioners. I wrote the book EFT Manual, the most recent edition of the book. I've written about EFT and have done more research than anybody else in EFT and I have my own practitioner who may say to me, ‘Dawson, you need to sharpen up in this area. I think you can make a shift over here’.  So we are living past the point of needing a trainer, of needing a coach, of needing extra eyes to look at us and to guide us, very, very useful at every stage of our development. We require even people who've been doing this for 50 years, they'd love to have their own therapist and do their own inner work. Because if you think you're past needing a therapist or doing your own inner work and alluded, there's always stuff to work on. 

Lisa: That's a brilliant way of looking at it, and a very humbling approach to life. Now, I wanted to just shift gears a little bit, if I may, and talk about the bigger ramifications of changing our brain. Because when we change ourselves personally, we are also affecting our environment, our family, and then our community, and then our country, and then the world. If we're looking at the bigger picture, our world has some big major problems in it that we, and I think, we're not always focusing on the positives that are happening in our society because our media very much concentrates on just the negative. But if we all started to meditate today, and we all really adopted Dawson's approach and these other great researchers and scientists, and these people’s approach, to changing our own brains and how they're functioning in our own lives, and we're happy and nicer people, what sort of effect can we have on the environment do you think? 

Dr. Dawson: I have a whole chapter in my book Mind to Matter on this. This is a phenomenon that's been studied over the past since the 1970s, called emotional contagion. And it began when one person noticed that in her workspace, in her office environment, there are good days and bad days. There are generally days when everything seemed to flow, people were nice to each other, the work flows smoothly. And then there were a lot of bad days as well. When people were grumpy and things didn't work. She realised that the good days were when one particular person was sick and took a day off. That one person was removed to the equation, everyone functioned better. And she realised that this was a phenomenon and she named it emotional contagion. We’ve now, have applied the — epidemiology is the study of infectious disease — we've now applied this in various research studies, to emotions, and we find that emotions are contagious. 

So in one long-running studies, from guys since the 1950s called the Framingham Heart Study in Framingham, Massachusetts. And now includes five generations of inhabitants at Framingham. The researchers have found that a happy person is highly contagious, and actually produces contagion in her neighbour, and her neighbour’s neighbour, and her neighbour’s neighbour’s neighbour, who she's never even met. So when we are happy, you will literally — there’s this old saying Frank Sinatra in 1950 saying — ‘When you smile, the whole world smiles with you’. And it does, happiness is contagious. So when we do that, we're going to see a therapist, use EFT, take care of our physical bodies, love ourselves, tune into the infinite, tune into a non-local mind. It floods our hearts and our bodies, we feel so much better and we're just nicer to everyone around us. And they're nice people around them, that effect travels a long way. 

In one study, I talked about in Mind to Matter, the researchers tweak the feeds of Facebook users, just a few dozen Facebook users, for a few days to make them either a little more positive or a little more negative. Just a tiny touch, more positive, more negative. And those people then pass those certain stories along in their feeds, and others and passed further stories along in their feeds. Within two weeks, they produce emotional contagion in 600,000 other people. So we are highly contagious, our positive energy. 

I'll give you one example. Donald Trump is the previous president of the US and a tremendously polarising a triggering figure. And so, people talk about Donald Trump and I've been told so that we just lie or done something really harmful to other people, they get so offended. And so I really counsel people to stay in your heart and just hold Donald Trump and everyone in his party, in compassion, just hold. Take the people who offend you the most and hold them in compassion. Tune into their suffering and hold them in that way. When we do this, when we are as Jesus said, ‘Love your enemies,’ to go to them that hate you. Very good advice, even though it's 2,000 years old. When you do this, you're producing emotional contagion around you. You have no idea how far it's going. But as the Facebook study found, just a few people could produce emotional contagion in hundreds of thousands. So by becoming happy yourself, you walk around happy. 

During the pandemic, we all like to wear masks all the time. One study found that when I talk behind the mask, so no one can see whether I’m smiling or frowning. People can hear by the tone of your voice, if you're smiling or frowning. They can tell with a very thin slice of information, what it is. So you're just talking to somebody kindly and nicely, that's using emotional contagion. There’s one story I tell in one of my books, Lisa, that just touched me was this guy who was having a really difficult time. His wife had left him taking with him, their two kids, he couldn't see the kids and missed the kids terribly. And then he lost his job. He just spiralled downward and decided to commit suicide. He’d been suicidal for a few months, but that was the day he decided he was going to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. He literally drove to the Golden Gate Bridge. There's a parking lot there, he parked his car, that he had to cross the serious bester and crossings to get to the bridge. And as he was having chills, I tell the story because such an emotional impact. But I just think of this guy. And so he was stopped at a light waiting for the traffic light to change. He looked at the car next to him. There was a woman, an elderly woman with long grey hair in the car, also stopped at the light. As he looked at her, she happened to look at him. And she smiled, she smiled at him. Suddenly he realised life was worth living. He turned around went back to stop with suicide. You have no idea of the effect you're having on other people. We're reducing emotional contagion and other people all the time. It might be your smile that stops somebody from doing something harmful, or gives them a sense of hope about their lives. So, we support each other, we love each other. And after a while you just live in this world where there is so much love, your sensitised love. You attract loving people into your life, you attract time people into your life, compassionate people. And so now suddenly, you're in this environment that is beautiful. 

Are you struggling to deal with people who are homicidal and suicidal and nasty and mean and angry and stressed? Absolutely. And when I drive down the road, sometimes they'll be, maybe a young man and a pickup truck. And he'll be weaving in and out of traffic. They'll be angry. It'll be having episodes of road rage, and maybe have a finger. And that used to really trigger me. And now I say, ‘That guy is probably having a terrible day. He probably does not have a very good life. And I need to just love it.’ So I will just drive in my car in the slow lane. I shower him with love. Now, is that affecting him? Who knows? Is it bringing my cortisols down? Oh, yeah, absolutely. My cortisol is going down. I am now a better driver. I am now making waves to the people around me. So, we are agents of emotional contagion. I urge people in my books, go out and be an agent of conscious, positive emotional contagion with every thought you have, every word you say, you have no idea who might be affecting, and you will certainly be lowering your cortisol. But the other cool thing is, in one study I did recently, we show that when you lower your cortisol, this is people tapping and meditating for a week, they were doing this and they lower the cortisol. The cortisol went down by a huge amount, 37% drop in stat and baseline cortisol in only one week. Their immunoglobulins, which are these molecules are antibodies that attack coronaviruses, emitted lobules globulin is a y-shaped molecule that attach to the spike protein on the coronavirus and neutralise it. Those molecules in those people's mucous membranes went up 113%, more than double, in one week of tapping and meditation intensity in the retreat center. So we now know that, am I affecting the young man? I have no idea. Am I driving my own cortisol down and my own immunoglobulins up? Absolutely. I'm much healthier and I'm able to exert that influence on the world around me. So it is powerful to practice these things and be the agent of positive emotional contagion.

Lisa: That is so powerful. I've been guilty of this in the past when someone's cut me off in traffic, before I've even thought, before my prefrontal cortex is actually turned on the amygdala has gone, roar. And you're doing the bird out the window at this person, swearing at them. And then you can like now. When I was younger, I was a lot more volatile, and I come from a family of very strong people and a warrior background, if you like, from my native population. We tend to be quite, warrior-orientated. And now I am very much like that, I'm like, ‘I'm going to damage myself, if I react to this situation then I'm just hitting my cortisol up’. And one of the things, when I was studying our blood sugars and what happens with the blood sugars, how the cortisol sends your blood sugar's up and you actually put on weight — well, that was a very good deterrent from getting angry.

Dr. Dawson: Absolutely, weight gain. 

Lisa: Weight gain because I got angry in traffic.

Dr. Dawson: One study found that optimists live on average, 10 years longer than pessimists. This was a 30-year study, both men and women over the course of three decades. The optimists live 10 years longer than the pessimists. So negative emotion, its battery acid inside your body, it's corrosive, it's really damaging your organs, gives you a much shorter and much more disease-filled life than optimism. So be optimistic, be altruistic. I mean, you feel good doing all those things, you feel much better. And of course, your health is dramatically better. Your longevity is at least a decade more than otherwise.

Lisa: And you do this through not just through positive thinking, because we all know I think that just, ‘I'm going to be positive today and the network's for five minutes’. The Positive Psychology thing. What he says, right? But through meditation, through connection, through being out in nature, and through all these things, that we've just talked about the last event is the way to get us more positive responses. That's what I'm hearing. And that's where it becomes more seen. 

Dr. Dawson: Yes. Well, yes and no. There are two kinds of focuses that I've found are necessary. And I'm just putting a level playing field on the surface plane over here. One of those is being into the subconscious healing trauma. If you try and go for positive thinking, without healing trauma, it becomes the dark side, becomes repressed anger, repressed rage, and it actually will surface the subway and make itself known often as self-sabotaging behaviour, or repetitive negative thinking. So you have to do both. My initial — all my initial research for more than 10 years was with veterans with people who are traumatised, dealing with trauma. And that's great. So you need to go and deal with all that's holding you back. Then you want to go not just be at a neutral point where you don't have trauma, you’d want to explore peak states. Like imagine being in ecstasy every day, having those need and that serotonin that anonymise, that oxytocin, all these wonderful neuro chemicals flowing through your brain. And now you're hitting a peak state, you're starting your day in flow, and then you just go on from there and have a wonderful creative day. So you want to be doing both of those things simultaneously. This isn't the work of a week. This is the work of a lifetime, but it is so worth doing. Both the trauma, healing through EFT, EMDR, all these other wonderful energy therapies, and then cultivating these elevated states, bliss brain. And again, people reach these states, and they feel wonderful, as well as they're incredibly creative. And of course, their health improves as well. So both of those things. 

Lisa: Yeah. Dawson, we’re going to have to wrap it up in a moment and I want to be respectful of your time. But I would love to have you back on because I don't think we've really covered everything. 

Would you do me the honour of coming back in a month or two months, whenever your schedule, your crazy schedule allows. But I think we need to dig deeper. And I would like to actually put into practice some of these things that I've learned today and to go a little bit deeper into these things and see. And then be able to have that discussion with you and how our progress. So I think that would be a nice way to come back and actually look at a case study if you like. 

Dr. Dawson: Yes, absolutely. Love to do it. 

Lisa: Oh, so Dawson, how can people reach you? How can they find out more about your work? Obviously, your books, Mind to Matter, Genie — 

Dr. Dawson: Genie in Your Genes.

Lisa: Genie in Your Genes and Bliss Brain, your main books that you have. Where can people find you online, find out about EFT, maybe start training with you, all that sort of stuff?

Dr. Dawson: Yeah, there are three places that you can go to. To get Bliss Brain, you can go to and you get the book there, you'll see eight meditations that accompany each of the chapters of the book. And these are brief, they're under 20 minutes each, but they really help you get to those elevated emotional states. Mind to Matter is all about manifestation, about the link between thoughts and things, that’s Then the Immunity Meditation I mentioned earlier is at So that's worth doing. We actually once, we got the results of two studies in showing these big rises in immunoglobulins and a special meditation to actually help people hit those peak states. And those are at So the two books and and then the meditation is at, those are the three best places. You also get a portal there for example, because we have practitioners who work with people 24/7 live video sessions in real time. We do a lot of workshops. I do Bliss Brain workshops, we have a big one coming up that's going to be in German, French, Spanish, as well as English. Lisa, I'm just obsessed with getting people this material. And also I'm so moved by people suffering. When I see people suffering, and I realise wow, if only they had this little piece of information, their lives would be so much better. So I just, 

Lisa: You're beautiful. You’re amazing.

Dr. Dawson: Everyday obsessed with how to do that.

Lisa: Thank you so much for your service to everybody. I think this is incredibly important work. This is changing lives and I really thank you for digging really deep into the sciences and bringing this all to us. Because I'm seeing everyday people who are just completely – and in my own life. I've experienced my own traumas and so on, who have so much anxiety, so much trauma, so much PTSD, and being able to elevate a few people in your environment and change the way that you're living your life would just be absolutely fantastic. So thank you very much for your time today, Dawson.

Dr. Dawson: Oh, it's been a joy. Thank you. I look forward to our next get together.

That's it this week for Pushing the Limits. Be sure to rate, review and share with your friends and head over and visit Lisa and her team at 

Jun 15, 2021

In today’s modern world, we have seen numerous advances and progresses in the medical sciences each day. There is an even high demand for non-invasive procedures to maintain physical and mental health. In this episode, we are joined by Dr. Lew Lim as he talks about photobiomodulation (PBM). He shares his journey in studying and inventing this therapeutic procedure for over 30 years.

According to Dr. Lim, when talking about photobiomodulation, they mean the use of red and near-infrared light. This kind of light is used in low-level laser therapy. He explains how this light is absorbed by the mitochondria in your cells during the procedure. Then, it relieves pain or stimulates and enhances cell function.

Want to know the benefits of photobiomodulation in your body, specifically, your brain? Then, this episode is created for you. You will gain an insight into the biochemical processes behind this procedure. And how it shows promising results in medicine, especially, in treating certain diseases.

Here are three things you’ll learn from this episode:

  1. Discover how Dr. Lew Lim’s journey in studying photobiomodulation and how it can stimulate the brain to promote healing
  2. Learn the important role of the mitochondria in photobiomodulation
  3. Find out more about the benefits of photobiomodulation in our health and well-being

About Dr Lew

Dr Lew Lim, PhD, MD, MBA has been studying photobiomodulation (PBM) and low-level light therapy for over 30 years. In the mid 1990's he invented intranasal photobiomodulation as a non-invasive method of introducing therapeutic photonic energy into the human body. He is the founder of which brings intranasal and transcranial devices using photobiomodulation to the consumer.

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When extreme endurance athlete, Lisa Tamati, was confronted with the hardest challenge of her life, she fought with everything she had. Her beloved mother, Isobel, had suffered a huge aneurysm and stroke and was left with massive brain damage; she was like a baby in a woman's body. The prognosis was dire. There was very little hope that she would ever have any quality of life again. But Lisa is a fighter and stubborn.

She absolutely refused to accept the words of the medical fraternity and instead decided that she was going to get her mother back or die trying.

This book tells of the horrors, despair, hope, love, and incredible experiences and insights of that journey. It shares the difficulties of going against a medical system that has major problems and limitations. Amongst the darkest times were moments of great laughter and joy.

Relentless will not only take the reader on a journey from despair to hope and joy, but it also provides information on the treatments used, expert advice and key principles to overcoming obstacles and winning in all of life's challenges. It will inspire and guide anyone who wants to achieve their goals in life, overcome massive obstacles or limiting beliefs. It's for those who are facing terrible odds, for those who can't see light at the end of the tunnel. It's about courage, self-belief, and mental toughness. And it's also about vulnerability... it's real, raw, and genuine.

This is not just a story about the love and dedication between a mother and a daughter. It is about beating the odds, never giving up hope, doing whatever it takes, and what it means to go 'all in'. Isobel's miraculous recovery is a true tale of what can be accomplished when love is the motivating factor and when being relentless is the only option.


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Jun 10, 2021

There's a stigma associated with unresolved trauma. Many people don't talk about their traumatic experiences. Unfortunately, we're only taught short-term solutions like coping with stress and managing our emotions. With these short-term solutions, the root cause remains unresolved. The trauma is still present and can affect our everyday lives.

In this episode, Dr Don Wood joins us to talk about how unresolved trauma can directly affect our health. He aims to remove the stigma around unresolved trauma, and the first step towards healing is understanding the pain we've gone through. He also talks about the power of our minds from the different stories of his past patients. 

Tune in to this episode if you want to learn more about how unresolved trauma can affect your health and life.


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Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Learn how unresolved trauma can affect your life and compromise your health.
  2. Discover Dr Don's alternative ways of how he sees addiction.
  3. Understand the power of our minds and how it can do anything to protect us from feeling pain.




Episode Highlights

[05:32] What Inspired Dr Don to Start His Career

  • Dr Don founded the Inspire Performance Institute because of his wife and daughter. 
  • Dr Don shares that he had a quiet and idyllic childhood. He didn't experience any trauma.
  • His wife had a rough childhood which contributed largely to the unresolved trauma and fear she lives with today.
  • His daughter also inspired his research. She was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at 14. 

[11:10] Dr Don Shares About His Childhood

  • He remembers he used to get bad stomach pains when he was young. They would go to their family doctor for a checkup.
  • His grandfather mentioned that he has stomach pains because of the stress at home.
  • Later on, Dr Don realised that he felt the pressure in their home. The stress from this manifested as stomach pains.

[15:00] Impact of Unresolved Trauma in Later Life

  • Dr Don believes that unresolved trauma creates inflammation in the body. It compromises a person's immune system and neurotransmitters. 
  • A person gets sick and starts feeling bad because of serotonin neurotransmitters. They are affected by our guts' inflammation.
  • Unfortunately, the only things taught to us are managing and coping with the stress. We do not get to the root cause of the problem. 

[18:10] Dr Don's Career Before Inspired Performance Institute

  • Dr Don has been an entrepreneur all his life. Before he founded Inspired Performance Institute, he was in financial services. 
  • He realised that committing to Inspired Performance Institute meant studying again. 
  • To add credibility to his name, he went back to school and got his Ph.D.

[20:31] What Causes Addiction

  • Dr Don doesn't believe that addiction is caused by physical dependency. It's more about how the mind connected using drugs and survival. 
  • Because people feel bad, they find a way to stop the pain and feel better temporarily. Most of them find it in using drugs. 
  • The subconscious mind tries to find a way to feel better. The conscious mind builds a habit based on it.
  • The interaction between these two memory systems is a factor in developing addictions.

[25:39] Subconscious and Conscious Mind

  • 95% of our mind works on the subconscious survival base. The remaining 5% is concerned with logic and reason.
  • The 5% uses reason and logic to make brilliant things in life. However, when survival needs arise, the part dedicated to survival overrides the other.
  • To learn more about Dr Don's analysis of the Time Slice Theory and how it's connected to how we respond to our day-to-day lives, listen to the full episode.

[35:08] Effects of Brain Injuries on Brain Response

  • People with repeated brain injuries might have problems with logical and survival thinking responses.
  • Brain injury patients have lower blood flow in the frontal part when faced with survival situations based on brain scans.

 [36:03] Available Help for People Who Have Brain Injuries

  • Dr Don's son had three head injuries since he was young. The third one affected his communication skills and emotions. 
  • He believes that his son has functional damage to his brain. Once they discovered that, they got him into hyperbaric oxygen therapy. 
  • He started getting his blood flow into the areas of his brain that process his experiences. 

 [40:18] Probable Use of fMRI

  • Dr Don shares that fMRI can be another procedure that can help people with brain injuries. 
  • fMRI can detect abnormalities in your brain that other methods may not pick up.

[42:26] The Story of Dr Don's Daughter

  • His daughter was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. It affected her career as an actress. 
  • His daughter's condition made him realise: inflammation responds to unresolved trauma.
  • They managed to resolve her unresolved trauma that happened when she was six years old. Her mind understood that, and her negative response stopped. 

[46:01] Talking About Depression

  • In cases of depression, the person's mind puts pressure on them to do something in the past. 
  • Depression then becomes the absence of emotion. It tries to numb you from the stress in your mind.
  • When they get to the cause of what their mind needs and resolves it, their depression eases. 

[48:02] Story of Rebecca Gregory

  • Rebecca was a victim of the Boston Marathon bombing. She came to seek help from Dr Don five years ago.
  • She has PTSD. Dr Don helped her realise the connection between her response to daily life and the memory she has.
  • To know more about the process on how Dr Don helped Rebecca tune in to the full episode.

[51:43] Similarities of Dr Don's Approach to EMDR

  • Dr Don shared that he also studied EMDr
  • In his practice, he used some of the techniques in EMDr He enhanced them to become quicker and more comprehensive. 
  • Unlike EMDR, Dr Don's approach is faster and more straightforward. The patient can choose which way they would like to do it. 

[54:36] Dr Don on Talk Therapies

  • He believes that talk therapy is good. You must deal with a current problem.
  • They aim to resolve the old issues that aggravate the new experiences. 

[56:22] How Dr Don's Program Helped His Daughter

  • Crohn's disease is incurable. However, since his daughter underwent their program, her Crohn's didn't flare-up.
  • He believes his daughter's body has more energy to do maintenance and repair issues. It's possible because her unresolved trauma has been resolved. 

[56:22] How Stress Connects to Our Other Unresolved Traumas

  • The daily stress that we encounter every day might pile up and affect us in the long run.
  • They might also connect and add up to our trauma, making it harder for us to cope.
  • We misinterpreted experiences when we were young that still affect us as we grow older.
  • Dr Don shares stories of how unresolved childhood experiences may affect a person as they grow up.

[01:08:15] People Have Different Filters

  • Dr Don says that people have different atmospheric conditions they grew up in. These factors affect how they filter and deal with their everyday experiences. 
  • Our brain acts as the filter, and all of our experiences pass through that filter. The differences in how we operate upon those experiences are based on them. 
  • Dr Don proceeds to share different stories of his patients regarding the differences in people's minds.

 [01:15:06] Dr Don on Smoking 

  • Dr Don says that smokers are not addicted to nicotine. They need the sensation of feeling better.
  • The mind of a smoker associates feeling better to smoking. This link causes addiction. 
  • You can break the habit by introducing a new, healthier factor.

[01:19:17] A Better Approach Towards Addiction

  • Many approaches to addiction make the person feel useless. They surrender to never getting better.
  • Dr Don pushes a system that empowers people. He makes them realise they can overcome their addiction by understanding the cause. 

[01:24:42] How the Mind Reacts to Pain

  • Dr Don shares that the mind is powerful enough. It will do anything for you to stop feeling pain. 
  • People who commit suicide act in desperation to stop the pain they're feeling. 
  • He shares the story of the German sniper. It can represent the power of the mind in reaction to pain.


7 Powerful Quotes 

‘I really started the Inspired Performance Institute because of my wife and daughter more. Mostly my daughter than anything else.’

‘So if I had been a little frustrated with something that worked that day, or is, you know, some other thing that was nothing related to her, she could pick up on that tone change. And then, in her mind, what her mind would be doing is saying, “What do we know about men when they start to get angry?” And a whole bunch of data and information about her father would come flooding in and overstimulate her nervous system.’

‘And so when my daughter was 14, she was diagnosed with Crohn's. And they just told us that you just kind of have to, you know, learn to live with this.’

‘And that's really what led me to develop the program, is I realised that when my daughter was 16, she disclosed to us some sexual abuse that she had had when she was like six years of age that we had no idea. So my wife was, obviously both of us were devastated, but my wife was extremely, she had experienced, you know, sexual abuse as a child and thought she would never let that happen to her child.’

‘How could the body crave a substance that it doesn't know? It doesn't regulate heroin. How could it crave something that doesn't regulate? I believe it's the mind has made a connection between the heroin and survival.’

‘What's happened is your mind has been calling for an action for many, many years, that was impossible to accomplish. But your mind doesn't know that and it keeps putting pressure on you. “Do it, do it, do it.” And because you don't do it, it's using these emotions to call for the action, it stops calling for the action, it shuts off the emotions. And so now depression is the absence of emotion.’

‘I believe in a lot of cases, that's what they're doing, are trying to desensitise you to it. You know, talk about it enough, maybe it doesn't feel as dramatic. And talk therapy has its place so I'm not against it. I think where talk therapy is really good is when you're dealing with a current problem. Where I think the difference between what we do is we're able to get the talk therapy much more effective when you take out all the old stuff that keeps aggravating the new stuff.’ 


About Dr Don Wood

Dr Don Wood, Ph.D., developed the TIPP method after researching how atmospheric conditions affect our minds and impact our lives. In his search for answers for them, Dr Wood connected trauma and their health issues. He also recognised the daily stress they lived with. The only solutions provided came from medications. His experience with his family provided the determination required to develop a cutting-edge neuroscience approach.

The program has benefited individuals all over the world. The results have been impressive. Dr Wood has helped trauma survivors from the Boston Marathon bombing attack and the Las Vegas shooting. He has also helped highly successful executives and world-class athletes. Marko Cheseto, a double amputee marathon runner, broke the world record after completing TIPP. Chris Nikic worked with Dr Wood and made world news by becoming the first person with Downs Syndrome to complete an Ironman competition. 

The Inspire Performance Institute was built on this simple phrase, ‘There's nothing wrong with you, there's nothing wrong with your mind’. Some events and experiences have created some glitches and error messages for your mind during your lifetime, and all you need is a reboot.


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To pushing the limits,



Full Transcript Of The Podcast

Lisa Tamati: Welcome back, everybody to Pushing the Limits. Today I have Dr Don Wood, who is sitting in Florida. And Dr Don is a wonderful man. He is a trauma expert. He is someone who had a problem in his own family and sought about finding a solution. He is the developer of the TIPP method, T-I-P-P method. He spent years researching, and to understand how our minds affect our bodies. Dr Wood made the connection between trauma and health issues. In addition, he recognised the daily stress that people live with when they've been through trauma, and that the only solutions provided in the normal conventional world and medications. But his experience with his family provided the determination required to develop a cutting-edge neuroscience approach, a real holistic solution that provides immediate and long lasting relief for people who have been through trauma of any sort, whether it's small or large. The TIPP program developed by Dr Wood has benefited individuals all over the world. And he really wanted to create a solution that removed the stigma of trauma. Too many people are afraid to ask for help because of that stigma. And that's why he named the program around increasing performance levels. The name of his institute is the Inspired Performance Institute

I really love this episode with Dr Don Wood, he is a lovely, amazing person with a way of helping people get rid of PTSD, get rid of trauma out of their lives. So that they can get on with being the best versions of themselves. And that's what we're all about here. He's worked with everyone, from soldiers coming back from wars to victims of the Boston Marathon bombing campaign, to highly successful executives and world-class athletes. He's been there, done that. So I really hope that you enjoy this conversation with Dr Wood. 

Before we head over to the show, just want to remind you, we have our new premium membership for the podcast Pushing the Limits. Now out there. It's a Patron page so you can be involved with the program, with the podcast. We've been doing this now for five and a half years; it is a labor of love. And we need your help to keep this great content coming to you, and so that we can get the best experts in the world and deliver this information direct to your ears. It's a passion that's been mine now for five and a half years and you can get involved with it, you get a whole lot of premium member benefits. And you get to support this cause which we're really, really grateful for. For all those who have joined us on the Patron program. Thank you very, very much. You know, pretty much for the price of a cup of coffee a month, you can get involved. So check that out at That's patron P-A-T-R-O-N dot 

And just reminding you too, we still have our Epigenetics Program going. And this, we have now taken hundreds and hundreds of people through this program. It's a game-changing program that really gives you insights into your genetics, and how to optimise your lifestyle to optimise your genes basically. So everything from your fitness, what types of exercise to do, what times of the day to do it. What, whether you're good at the long distance stuff or whether you be a bit more as a power base athlete, whether you need more agility, whether you need more work through the spine, all these are just information that's just so personalised to you. But it doesn't just look at your fitness, it looks at your food, the exact foods that are right for you. And it goes way beyond that as well as to what are the dominant neurotransmitters in your brain, how they affect your mood and behaviour, what your dominant hormones are, the implications of those, your predispositions for any disorders and the future so that we can hit all those off at the past. It’s not deterministic, that is really giving you a heads up, ‘Hey, this could be a direction that you need to be concerned about in the future. And here's what you can do about it.’ So come and check out our program. Go to And under the button ‘Work With Us’, you will find our Peak Epigenetics program. Check that out today. And maybe you can come and join us on one of our live webinars or one of our pre-recorded webinars if you want to you can reach out to me,, and I can send you more information about their Epigenetics Program. Right, now over to the show with Dr Don Wood. 

Hello, everyone and welcome back to Pushing the Limits. This week, I have another amazing guest for you. I've found some pretty big superstars over the years, and this one is going to be very important to listen to. I have Dr Don Wood, welcome to the show, Dr Don.

Dr Don Wood: Thank you, Lisa. I'm excited to be here.

Lisa: This is gonna be a very interesting, and it's a long-anticipated interview for me, and Dr Don is sitting in Florida, and you've got a very nice temperature of the day, isn’t it?

Dr Don: Oh, absolutely gorgeous- low 80s, no humidity. I mean, you just like I said, you couldn't pick a better day, it's very fast. I would have tried to sit outside and do this. But I was afraid somebody would start up a lawn mower.

Lisa: Podcast life. I’ve just got the cat wandering, and so he's probably start meowing in a moment. Now, Dr Don, you are an author, a speaker, a trauma expert, the founder of the Inspired Performance Institute. Can you give us a little bit of background of how did you get to where you are today, and what you do?

Dr Don: Well it’s sort of an interesting story. I really started the Inspired Performance Institute because of my wife and daughter more. Mostly my daughter than anything else. I talked about this, is that I led this very, very quiet, idyllic kind of childhood with no trauma. Never had anything ever really happen to me. You know, bumps along the way, but nothing kind of that would be considered trauma. And I lived in a home that was so loving and nurturing, that even if I got bumped a little bit during the day, you know, was I, when I was a kid, I'm coming home to this beautiful environment that would just regulate my nervous system again. 

Lisa: Wow. 

Dr Don: So I believe that that was critical in terms of having my nervous system always feeling safe. And that really resulted in amazing health. I mean, I've been healthy all my life. And as an adult, when things would happen, I could automatically go back into that nervous system regulation, because I had trained it without even knowing it. 

Lisa: Yeah.

Dr Don: that I was able to get back into that. Well. And so when I met my wife, I realised she was not living in that world. And amazingly enough, Lisa, I thought everybody lived like, because I had no idea that a lot of my friends were being traumatised at home. That I had no idea, because everybody's on their best behaviour. If I come over, everybody's behaving themselves and you don't see it. My friends, a lot of times wouldn't share it because of either shame or guilt. I mean, my wife, nobody knew what was going on in their home. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

Dr Don: And she had one best friend that knew, that was about it. And if you met her father, who was really the bad guy in this whole thing, everybody thought he was the greatest guy. Because outwardly, he came across as this generous, hard-working, loving kind of guy. Loved his family, but he just ran his home with terror. 

Lisa: Wow. Terrible.

Dr Don: And so, oh, it was terrible. So when I met my wife, I realised, wow, this, because we got close very quickly, because I had the chance to play professional hockey in Sweden when I was 18. So we got married at 19. So very quickly, I was around her a lot, while we were sort of getting ready for that. So I got to see the family dynamic up close very quickly. And that's when I realised, boy, she's not living in that world, which is living in fear all the time. And that's why I sat down with her one day, and I just said, ‘Tell me what's going on here. Because I can sense this tension in here. I could sense that there was a lot of fear going on. What's going on?’ And she started sharing it with me, but swore me to secrecy. Like I could never tell anybody because of all that shame and guilt, because nobody really outside the home would have been aware of it.

Lisa: Or probably believed it. 

Dr Don: Or believed it. Right. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

Dr Don: And then it was again, that ‘What will people think about me? What do they think about my family?’ That's really common, when you have people who have experienced trauma like that. And so, I sort of follow along and said, ‘Okay, this will be our secret,’ but I thought to myself, ‘Well, this will be great now, because I'm going to get her out of that home’. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

Dr Don: And she's going to be living in my world. So everything will just calm down, and she'll be feeling that peace that I've experienced all my life.

Lisa: Not quite so simple. 

Dr Don: I was like, Well, how is this not helping? Like, why now? She's living in the world that I grew up in because I was very much like my father. I wasn't gonna yell at her, scream at her, do anything that would have made her feel fearful. But she was still living in fear. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

Dr Don: And if, yeah, and if I said something like, ‘No, I don't like that.’ She could tear up and start going, why are you mad at me? Yeah. And I would be like, ‘Oh my God, like where did you get I was mad at you for?’ I just said. That made no sense to me at the time. Now I understand it perfectly. What I didn't realise at the time was that people who have been traumatised are highly sensitive to sound—

Lisa: Hypervigilant and hyperaware of noise and people raising their voice.

Dr Don: Any kind of noise. And what she also, as a child, she had learned to listen very carefully to the way her father spoke, so that she could then recognise any kind of the slightest little change in my vocal tone. So if I had been a little frustrated with something at work that day, or, you know, some other thing that was nothing related to her, she could pick up on that tone change. And then, in her mind, what her mind would be doing is saying, ‘What do we know about men when they start to get angry?’ And a whole bunch of data and information about her father would come flooding in and overstimulate her nervous system.

Lisa: So then it's like they Google search, doing a Google search and going, ‘Hey, have I had this experience before?’ 

Dr Don: Yeah. 

Lisa: And picking out, ‘Yeah, we've been here before. This is not good. This is dangerous. This is scary.’

Dr Don: Yep. And that's actually what led me to the research that I did, mainly because of my daughter, though. So my wife lived with that, she developed Hashimoto’s. So she had this thyroid issue with, because she was constantly in a fight or flight state. 

Lisa: Yeah, the cortisol.

Dr Don: More flight than anything. Yeah, cortisol. And so when my daughter was 14, she was diagnosed with Crohn's. And they just told us that you just kind of have to learn to live with this. And she's going to be on medication for the rest of her life. And we'll just continue to cut out pieces of her intestines until she has nothing left and she’d have a colostomy bag. That's just the way it is. 

Lisa: Oh. And she’s 14 years old.

Dr Don: She was 14. Yeah. She ended up having for resections done, she would go down to you know, 90, 85 pounds. She’d get so sick, the poor thing. No, because she just couldn't eat. Yeah. And she couldn't hold anything down. And they just told us to have no answers. My wife did unbelievable research, trying to come up with answers and really couldn't come up with anything except this management system that they've been given her. And so, I was adopted. So we didn't know my family history. Yeah. So our family doctor was my grandfather. And I didn't know this until I was 18. 

Lisa: Oh wow. 

Dr Don: I always knew I was adopted. But my mother shared the story with me when I was 18. That he came to my parents and said, I have a special child I want you to adopt, right. Now. I guess you just knew that my parents were just amazing people. And you know, at that time, you know, unwed mothers, that was considered a shame. Right? You didn't talk about that. So that was a quiet adoption. 

Lisa: Wow.

Dr Don: In fact, his wife didn't even know about it. 

Lisa: Wow.

Dr Don: Could be my grandmother. And that's, it's interesting, the story, because I should share this too. Because what happened was, is I never understood why my birth certificate was dated two years after my birthday. And what happened was, is that my parents adopted me, like immediately upon birth. But my grandmother found out about it, his wife found out about and sued my parents to get me back. 

Lisa: Oh.

Dr Don: And so they had to go into this legal battle for two years. 

Lisa: Oh, wow. 

Dr Don: Now I remember when I was really, really young, I used to get these really bad stomach pains. And I, and they took me, I remember going to doctors, I was really young. I remember going to doctors, but my grandfather was very holistic at the time for an MD. So you know, I was on cod liver oil, and you know, all these different things like, and so what he said to me, he says, No, he's just stressed out because of the stress in the home. You have to take the stress out of this home. He's feeling it.’ 

Lisa: Yep. 

Dr Don: Right. So it's not that my parents were yelling, screaming. 

Lisa: He’s ahead of his time.

Dr Don: Oh, way ahead. But what he realised was that, because it was so hard financially for them, that had a major effect on their life. So I guess I was feeling it. And so they went out of their way to take all the stress out. 

Lisa: Wow. What lovely parents.

Dr Don: Oh yeah. So it created this unbelievable, unusual home life. And so I never had any real tension in the home. 

Lisa: Wow.

Dr Don: Well, that was, I guess, as my wife said, we were the perfect petri dishes for this because I was living what we want to be, and she was living in the opposite world of what a lot of people do live in. And so at least I knew what the model was, what we were going for.

Lisa: And when we're exposed to trauma very early in life, it has a much bigger impact on your health and everything then when it happens later in life. Is that right?

Dr Don: Absolutely. Because we've never learned how to balance our systems, so then it stays, you know, in dysregulation a lot more than it did. And that's really what sort of led me to develop the program, is I realised that when my daughter was 16, she disclosed to us some sexual abuse that she had had when she was like six years of age that we had no idea. So my wife was, obviously both of us were devastated, but my wife was extremely, she had experienced, you know, sexual abuse as a child and thought she would never let that happen to her child. 

Lisa: Yeah.

Dr Don: So now my poor wife has also got a new, you know, trauma onto her. And so that's where it really came down to, is, you know, she said to me, ‘You could research this and find out what's going on, because I have no answers.’ And that's when I started to research and I made the connection between trauma and these autoimmune issues, for example, that my wife had, and my daughter. And so what I discovered is that I believe that unresolved trauma creates inflammation in the body. The inflammation compromises the immune system and your neurotransmitters. So we start getting sick, and we start feeling bad because our neurotransmitter, serotonin is produced mostly in the gut. So the serotonin is affected by the inflammation, which was from my daughter, right? She's not going to feel good. 

Lisa: Nope. 

Dr Don: And then that just leads to a host of other problems. And it's, it's really, really sad that the only solution that we currently are using is to teach people to live and manage and cope with it. 

Lisa: I think, yeah, so we, we know, which is, which is good. You know, we're learning things, how to cope with anxieties, and breath work and all that sort of good stuff. But it's not getting to the root cause of the problem and being able to to deal with it. So when we're in a heightened state of stress and cortisol, and when we’re taking energy away from our immune system, and blood literally away from the gut, and and from a neurotransmitter production, and all that sort of thing, so is that what's going on, and why it actually affects the body? Because this mind body connection, which we're really only in the last maybe decade, or 15 years or something, really starting to dig into, isn't it? Like there's and there's still a massive disconnect in the conventional medical world where this is the mind, and this is the body. And you know, from here, up and here, and it's separate.

Dr Don: And so on and so forth? Yeah.

Lisa: Yeah. And it we’re one thing, you know. And so this has a massive effect on our health, and it can lead to all sorts of autoimmune diseases, or even cancers, and so on. So you were at this time, so you didn't have the Inspired Performance Institute at this stage? What were you doing professionally? And then, did you go back and do a PhD? And in...? Wow.

Dr Don: I've always been an entrepreneur all my life. So I was in financial services, we did a number of different things. We, my son and I, still have an energy business, we do solar energy and stuff like that.

Lisa: Oh wow. 

Dr Don: I decided if I was going to do this, I needed to go back and really study. So I went back and got by, went back to school, got my PhD. 

Lisa: Wow.

Dr Don: And, you know, to truly, to try to add credibility, number one, to what I was doing. Because, you know, people are gonna say, ‘Well, who are you? Yeah, you know, why should we listen to you? You never had any trauma and you're supposed to be an expert? Like, how does that work?’ You know, it's the same thing with addiction. You know, I help people with addiction. I've never had a drink in my life, never touched a drug in my life. Now that I say, but I know what addiction is. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

Dr Don: I don't believe addiction is a disease. I believe it's a code that gets built from pain.

Lisa: Yeah, let's dig into that a little bit. And then we'll go back to your daughter's story. Because addiction, you know, it's something I know from a genetic perspective. I have a tendency towards, towards having addictive nature, personality traits. I chase dopamine a lot. I have a deficit of dopamine receptors. And so I'm constantly going after that reward. Now that's worked itself out in my life, and in running ridiculous kilometres and working ridiculous hours, and not always in negative things. Luckily, I've never had problems with drinking or drugs, but I know that if I had started down that road, I would have ended up probably doing it, you know, very well. 

Dr Don: You’d be a star as well. 

Lisa: I’d be a star in that as well. And luckily, I was sort of a little bit aware of that and my parents never drank and they, you know, made sure that we had a good relationship with things like that, and not a bad one. Have struggled with food, though. That's definitely one of the emotional sort of things. And I think a lot of people have some sort of bad relationship with food in some sort of way, shape, or form on the spectrum, so to speak. What is it that causes addiction? And is it a physical dependency? Or is there something more to it?

Dr Don: Yeah, that's why I don't believe it's a physical dependency. Because here's the way I look at it is, people will say to me, ‘Well, if I stopped this heroin, the body's going to crave the heroin, and I'm going to go into withdrawal.’ And my response to that is, ‘How could the body crave a substance that it doesn't know? It doesn't regulate heroin. How could it crave something that doesn't regulate?’ I believe it's the mind, has made a connection between the heroin and survival. Because you have felt bad, right? Because of trauma, or whatever it is, whenever you took the heroin, you felt better. 

So I had a lady come in who had been on heroin. And she said to me, she's, ‘Well, I told my therapist, I'm coming to see you. And he told me, I had to let you know upfront and be honest and tell you I have self-destructive behaviour.’ And I just smiled at her. And I said, ‘Really? What would make you think you're self destructive?’ And she looked at me, because this is what she's been told for a year. 

Lisa: Brilliant. 

Dr Don: She says, ‘Well, I'm sticking a needle in my arm with heroin, don't you think that's self destructive?’ And I said to her, I said, ‘No, I don't think it was self destructive. I think you're trying to feel better. And I bet you, when you stuck the needle in your arm, you felt better.’ That nobody had ever said that to her before. And so I said, ‘Now, the substance you're using is destructive, but you're not destructive? What if I could show you another way to feel better, that didn't require you having to take a drug?’ 

Lisa: Wow.

Dr Don: And I said, ‘You're designed to feel better. And I believe that the brain, what happened is, is it because you felt bad, you found a resource that temporarily stopped that pain.’ And you see your subconscious mind is fully present in the moment. So when does it want pain to stop? Right now. And if that heroin stops the pain right now, then what happened was, is that system, you have two memory systems, you have explicit memory system that records all the information in real time. So it records all the data, and stores. No other animal does that. We’re the only animal that stores explicit details about events and experiences. We also have an associative procedural memory that we learned through association and repetition over time. So, because the explicit memory kept creating the pain, because we kept thinking about it, and looping through this pain cycle, you started taking heroin, then you engage your second associative memory, which learns through repetition and builds, codes, habits, and behaviours. 

Lisa: Wow.

Dr Don: Because you kept repeating it your mind built a code and connected up the pain being relieved by the substance. 

Lisa: Wow.

Dr Don: Now, your subconscious mind is literal. So it doesn't understand negation. It only understands what's happening now. And so if your mind says that substance stops the pain, it doesn't look at the future and consequences of it. It only looks at what's happening. It's only our conscious mind that can think of consequences. Your subconscious mind, which is survival-based only understands. That's why people at 911 would jump out of the buildings. They weren't jumping to die, they would jumping to stop from dying. Yeah, if they didn’t jump, they would have died right now. So even if they went another two seconds, they weren't dying now. 

Lisa: Right? So it’s really in the right now, there's really no right now. It's really in the seconds. 

Dr Don: And the very, very milliseconds of what's happening now. And there's no such thing as consequences, it’s basically survival. So now, if you keep repeating that cycle over and over using heroin, and then somebody comes along and says, ‘Lisa, you can't do that. That's bad for you. I'm going to take that away from you.’ Your survival brain will fight to keep it because it thinks it'll die without it. 

Lisa: Yeah. Makes a glitch. 

Dr Don: It's an error message. 

Lisa: Have you heard of Dr Austin Perlmutter on the show last week, David Perlmutter’s son and they're both written a book called Brain Wash. And there they talk about disconnection syndrome. So the disconnection between the prefrontal cortex in the amygdala and the amygdala can be more powerful when we have inflammation in the brain. For example, like inflammation through bad foods, or toxins, or mercury, or whatever the case may be. And that this can also have an effect on our ability to make good long-term decisions. It makes us live in the here and now. So I want that here and fixed now; I want that chocolate bar now. And I know my logical thinking brain is going, ‘But that's not good for you. And you shouldn't be doing that.’ And you, you're trying to overcome it. But you're there's this disconnect between your prefrontal cortex and your amygdala. And I've probably butchered that scenario a little bit.

Dr Don: No, you got it. But 95% of your mind is working on that subconscious survival base. It's only about 5% that's logical. That logical part of your brain is brilliant, because it's been able to use reason and logic to figure stuff out. So it created the world we live in: automobiles, airplanes, right, computers, all of that was created by that 5%, part of the brain 5%. However, if there is a survival threat, survival will always override reason and logic. 100% of the time. 

Lisa: Wow. 

Dr Don: So you can't stop it. And it's what I talked about was that time slice theory. Did I mention that when we were going? 

Lisa: No. 

Dr Don: When I did my research, one of the things that I found was something called the time slice theory. And what that is, is that two scientists at the University of Zurich asked the question— is consciousness streaming? So this logical conscious part of our mind that prefrontal cortex, is that information that we’re, as you and I are talking now, is that real, coming in real time? And what they discovered is, it’s not. 

Lisa: Oh.

Dr Don: The 95% subconscious part of your mind, it's streaming. While let's say your survival brain churns in everything in real time, processes that information, and then only sends pieces or time slices, because your conscious mind cannot handle that detail. 

Lisa: Oh, wow. So they’re filtering it.

Dr Don: Filtering it. And yeah, so as it takes it in, processes it, and then sends time slices or some of that information to your conscious mind. Right? But there's a 400 millionth of a second gap in between your subconscious seeing it, processing it, and sending it. And when I read that, that's when I came up with the idea that what's it doing in that 400 millionth of a second? It's doing a Google search, see? And so in that 400 millionth of a second, your survival brain has already calculated a response to this information before you're consciously aware of it. 

Lisa: Wow. 

Dr Don: And so the prefrontal cortex has got a filter on there to be able to stop an impulse, right? So it's the ventral lateral prefrontal cortex is sort of the gatekeeper to say, ‘Okay, let's not go into a rage and get into trouble. Let's try to stop that.’ So we have that part of our brain. However, here's where the problem comes in— You're driving and traffic and somebody cuts you off. And so your first response is, you get angry, because this person is like, ‘Oh, I want to chase that guy down and give him a piece of my mind.’ But that part of your brain can say, ‘Let's think about this. Hold on,’ you know, even though it's 400 millionth of a second later, the first anger response, then it should be able to pull that back. Here's where the problem comes in. If getting cut off in traffic looked like you had been just disrespected. During that Google search, your now, your subconscious mind has filtered through every experience of being disrespected. And so much information comes in that it cannot stop the response. It overrides it, because now it feels threatened. And our prisons are full of people who had been so badly hurt, that that part of their brain can't do that. You and I can probably do that. Right? 

Lisa: Sometimes.

Dr Don: Because we can say, sometimes? You know, you can run them down. You can leave the car. But that's where the problem comes in. Yeah, can't stop that, then that rage and all those things come in. And that affects your relationships could affect all kinds of things. And people would say, ‘Oh, you got an anger management problem. We're going to teach you to live with, you know, and manage that anger.’ What I'm saying is ‘No, it's a glitch. We don't need all that data coming in.’ Right, good response, a Google search is creating the problem.

Lisa: Like there's so many questions while hearing what you just said that, and I've experienced in my own life where with my family, where the initial response is so quick, that someone's punched someone else before they've even thought about what the heck they are doing. In the, when you said that, disrespected like this is, you know, I think when I've gotten really really angry and overreacted to something, when I think about it logically later, and a couple of times were of, like, in my early adult years, I was in a very abusive relationship. Thereafter, when I would get into another relationship, and that person tried to stop me doing something, I would just go like, into an absolute fit of rage. Because I was fighting what had happened to me previously, and this poor person, who may have not even been too bad, got the full barrels of verbal assault. Because I just reacted to what had happened to me 10 years previously. And that's the sort of thing where I felt like I was being controlled, disrespected when he went in. So that Google search is happening in a millisecond. 

Dr Don: 400 millionths of a second. you couldn't have stopped, impossible for you to stop. And then people would say, ‘What's wrong with Lisa? She's just normally a great person, but where is that coming from?’ Up until now, you may not have known that. But that's what it is. And it's impossible for you to have stopped. It was the same thing when my wife and I would say, ‘No, I don't like that.’ And she would start to cry. I'd be saying, ‘Gosh, what am I doing to make this woman cry?’ It wasn't what I said. It was what I said that activated her Google search, which then flooded into data about her father. She was responding to her father, not to me. We both didn’t know that; we all thought that she was responding to what I just said.

Lisa: Isn't this always just such complex— and if you start to dissect this, and start to think about the implications of all this, and our behaviour, and our communication and our relationships, so much pain and suffering is happening because we're not understanding, we're not, we're angry at people, we’re disappointed with people, we’re ashamed of things that we've done. And a lot of this is happening on a level that none of you know, none of us are actually aware of. I mean, I liken it to, like, I know that my reactions can sometimes be so quick. Like before, my, just in a positive sense, like effect glasses falling off the beach, I would have caught it with my bare hand before my brain has even registered it. I have always had a really fast reaction to things like that. That's a clear example of, like, that permanent brain that's in the here and now, has caught it before I've even realised that's happening.

Dr Don: You know, and that's why I always say to people, ‘Did you choose to do that?’ And they'll say, ‘Well, I guess I did.’ I go, ‘No, you didn’t.’ Didn’t just happen that happened before you could actually use the logical part of your brain. And because it was so much information, right? Even though the logical part of your brain would say, ‘Well, you know, don't lash out at this person. They didn't mean that.’ It would already have happened. Yeah, I worked with a professional athlete. He was a baseball player playing in the major leagues. And I explained that concept to him. And then we were at a, one of his practice workouts, and his pitcher was throwing batting practice behind a screen. And so as he threw the ball, this guy, my client hit the ball right back at the screen, and the coach, like, hit the ground. Right? And I stopped right there. And I said, ‘Great example.’ I said, Did your coach just choose to duck? 

Lisa: Or did he automatically do it? 

Dr Don: He had no, he had no time to use exactly. The logic. If you use the logical part of your brain, what would you have said? ‘This ball can hit me; there's a screen in front of me.’

Lisa: Yeah, yeah. But you know—

Dr Don: No way logic is going to prevail, when there's a threat like that coming at you. Yeah. 

Lisa: This is why it's important because we need to be able to react in that split second, if there really is a danger and there's a bullet flying in ahead or something like that or something, somebody is coming at us from, to do us harm, then we need to be able to react with split second timing. 

Dr Don: But you don’t want that logic coming into it. 

Lisa: No, but we do want the logic coming in when it's an emotional response. Do you think like, when people have had repeated brain injuries, they are more likely to have problems with this, you know, the prefrontal cortex not functioning properly and even being slower to respond or not getting enough blood flow to that prefrontal cortex in order to make these good decisions?

Dr Don: Yeah, absolutely. And if you look at SPECT scans or brain scans of people who have had those kinds of injuries, you'll see that that part of the brain, that frontal part of the brain, the blood flow will drop when they get into those situations.

Lisa: Wow. And then they can't make a good decision. And here we are blaming them for being—

Dr Don: Blaming them for being—

Lisa: —and they end up in prisons, and they end up with hurt broken lives and terrible trauma. And, you know, it's not good if they react and hit somebody or kill somebody or whatever. But how can we fix this? And that one of my go-tos is the hyperbaric oxygen therapy. And I've heard you talk about that on a podcast with Mark Divine in regards to your son. And that is one way we can actually help our brains if we've had had a traumatic brain injury or PTSD or anything like that, is that right?

Dr Don: Yeah, my, like I said, my son had three head injuries, one in elementary school, one in middle school, one in high school. And the first one, we didn't see as big an effect. But he did have a problem. The second one, he ended up with retrograde amnesia. And then the third one, we just saw him go downhill and just really couldn't communicate very well, didn't have any energy, had a lot of anger issues and they just kept saying he's got major depression, you need to medicate them. And I was like, ‘No, I believe we've got traumatic brain injury.’ But I could not get them to give me a script for a SPECT scan or an fMRI. It was impossible. And I wasn't looking for the structure, because they'd look at an MRI and they'd say, ‘We don't see any damage.’ Well, it wasn't the physical damage we're looking for, it was a functional damage that we were looking for.

Lisa: Yeah, the blood flow. Yeah. 

Dr Don: And once we discovered that that's what it was, we got him into hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and he started getting the blood flow into the areas that he needed to process what he was experiencing. And so if you can, you can imagine how difficult that would be, somebody saying, well just go over there and do that. And you don't have the ability to process it. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

Dr Don: And so that frustration there is anger would be coming from just complete frustration. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

Dr Don: That he just couldn't do it's like, you know, you ran in somebody and you couldn't lift your right leg. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

Dr Don: Right. And somebody said, ‘Just start running.’ ‘I'm trying.’ 

Lisa: Yeah, yeah. 

Dr Don: It would be very, very frustrating. 

Lisa: Yeah, I mean, having worked with, you know, my mum with the brain injury for five and a half years, and I will tell you, man, that is so frustrating. And still, even though she's had well, you know, must be close to 280 or something hyperbaric sessions, and gone from being not much over a vegetative state to being now incredibly high functioning. But there are still some pieces missing that I cannot get to. Because obviously damage in the brain where parts of the brain cells are, have been killed off. And we, you know, I'm really having trouble with things like vestibular systems, so, or initiation of motivation, and things like that. And hyperbaric can do a heck of a lot, it can't fix areas of the brain that is actually dead. So I, you know, and we don't have SPECT scans over here, this is not available. We don't do them.

Dr Don: Yeah. And they’re hard to get here. I just don’t understand them.

Lisa: They're very frustrating, because they just are so powerful to understand. Because when you see you've got a problem in your head, that it's actual physical problem, then, you know, it takes away the blame the guilt, and you know, like, I was having this conversation with my brother, and I'm, you know, talking about Mum, and why isn't she doing this, that and the other end. And I said, ‘Because she's got brain damage, and we can't get her to do that thing.’ ‘But she's normal now. She should be doing that now.’ And I'm like, ‘She's much, much better. But in that part of the brain, I haven't been able to recover.’ It is still a thing. That is the year. That is, I am, not that I'm giving up on it, but you know, there are just certain things that we haven't quite got the full thing back.

Dr Don: The SPECT scan would show that. And you'd probably see it, or do they do fMRIs there?

Lisa: I haven't checked out fMRI because yeah.

Dr Don: Check out the fMRI. 

Lisa: I only heard you say that the other day, and I didn't, I knew about SPECT scans and I knew about. Dr Hearts and all the SPECT scans that he's done, and Dr Daniel Amen and the brilliant work on it all and I've searched the country for it. And New Zealand there's, they've got one that does research stuff down in New Zealand and I think but it's it's nobody can get access to it. And it's just, oh gosh, this is just such a tragedy because then we can actually see what's going on. Because people have been put on antidepressants. They've been put on, you know, antipsychotic drugs. Some things that are perhaps not necessary. We could have, we could have dealt with it with other other ways, like hyperbaric and like with, you know, good nutrients, and even like your program that you do that would perhaps be the first line of defense before we grab to those types of things. But—

Dr Don: The fMRI would definitely probably help you. So it's, you know, a functional MRI. Yeah. So it's going to give you blood flow. I just had a young boy come in, nine years, nine years old, having real issues. And anyway, his mum's gone everywhere, tried everything. And I said, have you done an fMRI? She says, oh we’ve done the MRIs. But, and I said, ‘’No, you need an fMRI.’ She'd never heard of it. No, I was telling her about it. 

Lisa: I hadn’t even heard about it either.

Dr Don: She didn’t want to do SPECT scans, because SPECT scans are going to put something into your system, right? So she didn't want any kind of dyes, or any kind of those, you know, radioisotopes and stuff like that. So the fMRI is the other answer to try to get that.

Lisa: Oh, okay. I'll see whether they've got that, they probably haven't got that either. I'd say, probably having Dark Ages with a lot of things.

Dr Don: There's so many things like that, that would give you answers that they just don't do, which is surprising to me. Because when you think research, I mean, you find out how effective they are, why wouldn't they do it? You know, they just won't.

Lisa: Oh, yeah, like one of those doctors who was on my podcast, and we're talking about intravenous vitamin C. And he said, I said, ‘Why is it taking so long when there's thousands of studies proving that it's really powerful when there’s critical care conditions like sepsis, what I lost my father to?’ And they said, ‘Yeah, because it's like turning a supertanker. There’s just 20 years between what they know in the clinical studies to what's actually happening in the hospitals.’ He says at least a 20-year lag. And this is just, when you live in New Zealand, probably a 30-year lag. We’re just just behind the eight ball all the time, and all of these areas of what's actually currently happening. 

I wanted to go back to your story with your daughter. Because she's got Crohn's disease, 14 years old, diagnosed, having to hit all these restrictions, and that she's going to have to manage it for the rest of her life. And she will never be well. What actually happened? Because we didn't actually finish that story.

Dr Don: Well, like I said, so she had, you know, suffered for many years with that, and she's an actress, so any kind of stress would just aggravate it. So she would constantly be getting sick, because, you know, the more stress she has, the more inflammation she's creating, and then she would just get sick and go back to the hospital. So it has really affected her career. So that's when my wife said, ‘You've got to come up with some answers.’ And so I did the research. And I really believe that it was a trauma as a child that continued. Because this is when I made the connection between unresolved trauma and inflammation. Inflammation is the response to trauma, whether it's physical or emotional. And the purpose of the inflammation is to protect the integrity of the cell. So the cell gets into an enlarged space. So it sort of puffs out, gets enlarged and hardened to protect it from getting penetrated from any kind of foreign invader. 

Lisa: Wow. 

Dr Don: So the idea behind it is, it's a temporary pause, because there's been an injury. So the idea is, we need to protect this area. So let's protect it and not let anything get into the cells while, until the danger has passed. So this temporary pause in the system, temporarily suspends the immune system, temporarily suspends the processing of the cell until the danger passes, and then the immune system can come in and clean up, right and take care of everything. The problem was, is that my daughter's trauma was never resolved. So those cells in her intestinal area stayed in an active cell danger response, in an inflamed response, because as far as it was concerned, she was continually being assaulted. 

Lisa: Wow. 

Dr Don: Because it kept looping through the trauma. Yeah. So once we took her through this program, and we resolved it so that we were able to stop her mind from constantly trying to protect her from this threat as a six year old, because your subconscious doesn't have any relationship to time. So if you think about something that happened to you when you were six, that's happening now. So in her mind, she was being hurt now. And until we got that updated, so it’s like a computer, I say your brain is a computer. Your body is the printer. 

Lisa: Oh, wow. That’s a good analogy.

Dr Don: And so if the brain has an error message, it’s going to affect the printer. 

Lisa: Yes. 

Dr Don: So in her mind, that trauma kept on looping. As soon as we got that corrected, and her mind understood that there was no memory— the memory was still there, but the activation of our nervous system stopped, the inflammation went down.

Lisa: See, that's it, like your body's calling for action. I've heard you say— 

Dr Don: That’s when it processes the emotion. 

Lisa: Yeah. So when you think back to a traumatic event in your life, and you start crying and you're reacting as if you were right there in the in, which, you know, I can do in a split second with some of the trauma that you know, been through. That means that there is a high-definition in your brain, that those moments in time are just locked in there, and causing this, the stress response, still now. And that's why you’re crying years later, for something that happened. And it's actually calling for action. It's telling you to do something. But of course, it's a memory you can't do something.

Dr Don: So action required, you know I think that’s the glitch, the error message that I talked about. So if you think about something that happened to you five years ago, and you start to feel fear, or cry, your heart starts pounding in your chest, your mind is saying ‘Run,’ five years ago, because it's seen it in real time. Now, it's impossible to run five years ago, but your mind doesn't know that. So it's going to continue to try to get you to run. And so a lot of times when I talk to people who have depression, one of the things I asked, I'll ask them is, ‘What are you angry about?’ And they'll go, ‘Well, no, I'm not angry, I'm depressed.’ And I'll say, ‘What's happened is your mind has been calling for an action for many, many years, that was impossible to accomplish. But your mind doesn't know that and it keeps putting pressure on you. Do it, do it, do it. And because you don't do it, it's using these emotions to call for the action, it stops calling for the action, it shuts off the emotions.’ 

Lisa: Wow. 

Dr Don: And so now depression is the absence of emotion.

Lisa: Right.

Dr Don: And so what is done is to protect you, it's shut down the request.

Lisa: Everything down. So you go sort of numb, numb and apathetic and just—

Dr Don: Because you can't do what it’s been asking you to do. And so it's been calling for that action for many, many years. You don't do it. And so it says, ‘Well, this isn't working. So let's just shut the system off for a while. We won't ask for the action anymore.’ And so that's why the people are depressed. And as soon as you get to the cause of it, what has your mind been asking you to do and you resolve it, then your mind stops calling for the action. And then the depression will lift.

Lisa: You had a great example of a lady that you worked with. Rebecca Gregory, was it from the Boston— can you tell us that story? Because that was a real clear example of this exact thing.

Dr Don: Yeah. So Rebecca came to see me five years after the Boston Marathon. She was three feet from the first bomb that went off. And so her son was sitting at her feet. So when the bomb went off, luckily she shielded him, but she took the brunt of the blast. She lost her left leg. And five years later, she's having post-traumatic stress, right? And she says, ‘I have nightmares every night. I heard about your program. I heard that you can clear this in four hours.’ She says, ‘Iy sounds too good to be true.’ But she says, ‘I'm completely desperate. So I'll try anything.’ And so she came in and sat down. And what I explained to her as she started to talk is, I said, ‘Rebecca, do you know why you're shaking and crying as you're talking to me right now?’ And she says, ‘Well, because I'm talking about what happened to me.’ And I said, ‘That's right. But your mind thinks a bomb is about to go off. And it's trying to get you to run.’ And I said, ‘But there's no bomb going off. It's just information about a bomb that went off. But your mind doesn't know that.’ And that, she'd never heard before. And so what we did is over the next four hours, we got her mind to reset that high-definition data that had been stored about the bombing into a regular alpha brainwave state, right, where it's very safe and peaceful. 

So she could recall it and she could talk about it without the emotion. Why? Because, now we're not going for happy, right? You know, it's still sad that it happened. But what we're trying to stop is that dysregulation of the fear, the call for the run. That stopped. And you can watch your testimonial on her on our site, and she just talked about, she goes, ‘I just couldn't believe that you could stop that.’

Lisa: But in four hours. 

Dr Don: And then now she can go out and she spoke all over the country. You know, she was a very high-profile lady who did a lot of great work in trying to help people. But she was still suffering with post-traumatic stress. Yeah, trying to help people who were experiencing post-traumatic stress. 

Lisa: She knew what it was like. 

Dr Don: She was living it. Same thing. I tell the story, it’s another dramatic one was a US Army sniper who had to shoot and kill a 12 year old boy.

Lisa: Oh, gosh. 

Dr Don: And when I first sat down and talked to him, he was just sobbing. And he said, ‘I just can't live like this anymore.’ And by the time we were finished, he could then describe everything that happened that day, including shooting. And he said to me, goes, ‘How the bleep did you do this? Like, how am I able to talk about it now? And I said, ‘For eight years, your mind's been trying to get you not to pull the trigger.’

Lisa: And you can't go back in time.

Dr Don: But your mind knows you're not pulling the trigger now. So it stopped calling for the action. It's just information now.

Lisa: And so, is this similar to EMDR? I did a few sessions of EMDR when we lost our little baby boy a couple of years ago. And in that time, when I was doing it, I thought, this isn't working. But when I look back on that traumatic event, I no longer have the response, really, to— it’s sad, but I don't, but I'm not like I was in the months after that. And I don't, I wouldn't say I'm completely, you know, out the other end of that particular trauma, there's been more since that I'm still dealing with. But it definitely did something. And I don't know what, it was a lot of eyeshifting and going home. What was it? Is it similar to what you do? Or is it different?

Dr Don: Yeah, I studied EMDR. So what we do, so that's a technique some of the techniques I use in EMDR I'll use. But I think what we've done is enhance it even more. I've made it even quicker and even more comprehensive. 

Lisa: Yep. 

Dr Don: And EMDR. How many sessions did you do in EMDR? 

Lisa: I think I did four. 

Dr Don: So yeah, so they're gonna be between 4, 8, 10? Right. We're doing one.

Lisa: Yeah. Yeah. And I wasn't sure immediately after it had done anything. But I must admit, yeah. 

Dr Don: And it does, because what it's doing is getting that memory reprocessed, which is what we're doing. But we do it much simpler, like I don't need much detail at all. In fact, I've sat with people, you know, a person said, if a woman had been raped or sexually assaulted. The last issue was to sit there and do is start describing what happened to her. So what I do is I say, we got a, we got three different ways of doing this one, you can talk about it if you'd like to, and I'm going to take you through the techniques, right, to get your mind to reprocess it. Or two, I'm just going to do strictly visually. So I have no idea what you experienced. I'm not going to know any of the details, which feels very safe. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

Dr Don: Or third, what I say is I'm going to teach you a new language, and it's called flowing. There's only one word and the flowing language, it’s flowing. So instead of saying, I walked into the room, you're gonna say flowing, flowing, flowing, every word is flowing. The advantage to that is she has to go into memory to see it and bring up the images. 

Lisa: Yeah.

Dr Don: But I have no idea what it is. 

Lisa: Yeah. You don’t need to hear it.

Dr Don: I don't need to hear it. And then I take her through basically a two to three minute technique. That's all. And at the end of that, it's updated. 

Lisa: That's incredible. 

Dr Don: And my wife used flowing with me, right? Because it was some things that were, for me, she didn't want to share.

Lisa: Fair enough.

Dr Don: Right? Yeah. And that was fine. And so I tell them, whichever way you want to do it. I said, ‘If I needed to know, I would ask.’ I said, ‘But if I'm asking, it's just from curiosity.’

Lisa: Yeah. 

Dr Don: But it's not necessary. That is radically different. Right? For people who have experienced really severe trauma. And it's very, very, you know, safe and very pain free.

Lisa: And what, so what is it, what, we have talked therapies where we, you know, go to a counselor, and we spend years sometimes working through our childhood traumas and our, whatever traumas have happened since and we don't seem to get anywhere, which is a lot of time. It might feel good in the moment that you're sharing, and being able to express yourself, but it doesn't really work. In my experience, at least. What is the difference here? Are we just reliving and actually enhancing these memories when we just talk about them all the time, and not actually deal with them?

Dr Don: I believe in a lot of cases, that's what they're doing, are trying to desensitise you to it. You know, talk about it enough, maybe it doesn't feel as dramatic. Yeah. And talk therapy has its place so I'm not against it. I think where talk therapy is really good is when you're dealing with a current problem. Yeah, current stress maybe in your marriage, whatever, and learning how to handle what's going on right now. Where I think the difference between what we do is we're able to get the talk therapy much more effective when you take out all the old stuff that keeps aggravating the new stuff. 

Lisa: Yep. 

Dr Don: So if you're in a current stressful situation, and it's been aggravated, because every time you talk about it is bringing in all the data of the old stuff, then it's very difficult to deal with. So that's, I think what we do, which is really different, and makes everything much more effective.

Lisa: Yeah, absolutely. That makes sense to me. And with, going back to your daughter, because we so we, she is now managed to get on top of her Crohn’s. I mean, Crohn’s is an incurable disease, apparently.

Dr Don: That’s what we were told, yeah, that there’s no cure for Crohn's.

Lisa: What did you do with her to actually because it's that physical thing, and there are a lot of people out there listening probably have Crohn's or IBS, or something like an autoimmune disease, or can, how did that work out with her? And, you know, why is that sort of a really amazing story?

Dr Don: Well, all I know is that after we took her to the program, she hasn't had a Crohn's flare up. So I'm not saying that we can cure Crohn's with our program. Exactly. What I do know is that after she went through the program, she hasn’t had a Crohn's flare up. So to me, there's a correlation between her nervous system and the activation of her Crohn’s. And so once we got that settled down, so Crohn's could be, may not be just from that. There could be other reasons for it. So you never know. So somebody could do our program and not have that same reaction. But what we do see is a lot of different, because when we talk about, I believe that there's imagine more like a cell phone, you plug in your cell phone at night, right? We go to sleep, we charge up, we wake up with 100% of our energy. Then how much of that energy do you have available to do maintenance. So if you've got a lot of maintenance and repair issues, you're draining a lot of energy. 

Lisa: Oh, yeah. 

Dr Don: And if your mind is looping through a lot of trauma that's pulling a lot of energy away from your ability to do maintenance and repairs. Yep. And so I talked about when I played hockey, which is a pretty brutal sport, I had six concussions, 60 stitches, and I never missed a hockey game. Now at the time, they just said, ‘You just heal fast, faster than most people.’ What I didn't realise is, I believe the reason I healed fast was because I was getting much more maintenance done. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

Dr Don: At nighttime when I slept. Because I didn't have a lot of trauma that my mind was constantly looping through. So it wasn't pulling energy away. So if I'm getting two or three times the maintenance and restorative sleep, of course, I'm going to heal faster. How could I not?

Lisa: Gosh. Yeah, that makes a whole lot of sense. Really. Yeah.

Dr Don: And that's why I've been healthy all my life, I just don't get sick. 

Lisa: So super immune system. 

Dr Don: Very powerful immune system that can fight whatever comes at me. And again, we talked about vitamin C, if ever, I feel a little tickle in my throat, or I start to feel that, I just pound in vitamin C, you know, 4000, 5000 milligrams, vitamin C, and it’s gone.

Lisa: Immune system jumps into gear, because you don't have these stressors. So when we talk about stress being so detrimental, you know, we talk about it all the time, stress is bad for us, and what you know, excessive stress, there are good hormetic stressors, where we go for exercise, or we get in a sauna, or we do cold therapy, and these are short, temporary stressors that cause cascades of changes in the body that make us stronger. But when we're exposed to chronic stress, which is like what we're talking about, traumatic events, and you know, like I also wanted to say there's not just, somebody died, someone's legs been blown off, someone's you know, been to war. These are not just those big, big, traumatic things. These are these daily little things that start to add up as well that can be traumatic stressors, can't they? It's not just the big ones.

Dr Don: That's what I wrote my second book called Emotional Concussions. So they're those bumps, right? That little concussion that you feel like, ‘Oh, I'm okay, right. Yeah, I had a bump on my head. But now I seem to be okay.’ Those add up, those little emotional concussions can add up, or can also get connected to other ones. And so you don't realise how they're affecting you. 

So I've had people come in who will say, you know, ‘I've never had any real trauma in my life, I've been fine. There's nothing wrong.’ And then all of a sudden waterworks will start when they start thinking about something that happened to them when they were a child. As an example I had a lady come in. She had been adopted by the stepfather, her mother got pregnant at 18, didn't marry the father, then married another gentleman who then ended up adopting her and having two other children. And so when she was about six years of age, the original, her natural father wanted to meet her. And her stepfather said something to the effect that ‘You were a mistake.’ And she said, ‘I hated my stepfather. I made his life agony for him.’ She'd never connected up that event. She just said, ‘I just never liked him. I gave him such a hard time all the time.’ She goes, ‘My brother and sister loved him.’ She says, ‘I just hated him.’ And it came down to that event. And so in her mind, right, once we got and we got that event resolved, and here's how we resolved it. I said, ‘Is it possible—’ So once I've got you in this very, very peaceful restorative mindset, right, then we start looking at some of this information. So when we looked at it, she was crying when she talked about she's, ‘I remember my stepfather saying that I'm, I was a mistake.’ When we look at it, when she's in this very restorative mindset, I said, ‘Is it possible that what he said, isn't what he meant? Is it possible that's a saying that people say, “Oh, that was a mistake.” But they didn't mean you're the mistake.’ 

Lisa: Yeah. 

Dr Don: Right. It probably wasn't the best thing for your mother to have a baby at 18 out of wedlock, right. However, that that had never really occurred to her that that could, because a six year old child doesn't have enough life experience to understand that statement. In her mind, ‘I was a mistake. He thought I was a mistake.’ And so as we're going through this, all of a sudden, she said to me, she says, ‘I just had this flood of energy coming into my chest right now.’ And she says, ‘You know, what just came into my mind? him sitting there braiding my hair when I was little.’ She said, ‘He was a good man, I just never gave him a break. And now I sort of see what my brother and sister saw. He really was a good guy.’ Right? So this in her mind—

Lisa: Just one event. Just that one event. One slip of the tongue, so to speak, or, you know, taken the wrong way, or, you know, an adult conversation that a child’s misconstrued, it doesn't even have to have bad intent behind it. 

Dr Don: With sometimes no ill intent. My wife had a similar situation where when she was really little. She's living in this dramatic household and gets invited to when she was like, six, seven years of age to a tea party by the mothers in the neighbourhood. And the grandmother dresses her all up nice and pretty. And she goes there. And I remember her telling me the story and crying. And she says, when she got there, the mothers as she walked in, looked at her and one of the mothers said, ‘Oh, look at this one, this is going to be a real heartbreaker. Oh, yes, this is going to be a real heartbreaker.’ My wife as a child has been so hurt already. What she hears is they see something bad in her. She grows up and hurts people. And she says she felt sick to her stomach, she just wanted to go home.

Lisa: Wow, completely at the wrong—

Dr Don: As an adult, still had that impact on her until we got it resolved.

Lisa: And so these little things that as parents that makes you go, ‘Oh, my God, what damage have I done? Just because I yelled at the kids the other day because they couldn’t have any lollies or something if I did, it’ll damage them.’ It does make you feel a bit panicky about you know, all that all the trauma that you could be causing to your kids.

Dr Don: So I'm working on a third book, like for just talking about that, on how those kinds of things after studying our program, saying, ‘How can we help parents be able to understand the impact those words?’ Because again, with the best of intentions, right, you could be saying a particular phrase or saying or action that is being misinterpreted by somebody who doesn't have any kind of experience.

Lisa: Yeah, absolutely. And it can have far-reaching effects that was way beyond what should have been. 

Dr Don: Another great example, I had a lady who again, same thing, uh, no trauma in my life, great childhood, you know, and I said, ‘Can you come up with any kind of an event that you remember that was upsetting or disturbing.’ And so she says, then she had to think about it. And then she says, ‘Yeah, I remember one day she said, I was in church since I was about six years old.’ And she says, and all of a sudden, I see her eyes starting to fill up as she started to talk and she started to choke up, and she says, ‘I was talking and my grandmother took out the brush from her purse and hit me on the head with it and said, ‘Stop talking. You're in church.’ And then the waterworks came. And she says, ‘I just realised I lost my voice that day.’ 

Lisa: Oh, wow. 

Dr Don: She says, ‘I don't speak up for myself. I don't.’ Yeah. And that had never connected to her. And she realises, ‘I just let people tell me what to do.’ She says, ‘I don't ever speak up for myself.’ And that was a revelation to her that she had never connected.

Lisa: And it was such a minor thing.

Dr Don: Did her grandmother decide to do that? No, it was just like, ‘Stop talking, you're in church,’ right? Yeah, just a little thing. 

Lisa: You're like, wow. 

Dr Don: Another one, which is really fascinating, just to show you how the subtlety of it. A gentleman telling me that his father who never really was an angry person or whatever. But there was one particular time, he says, ‘My father really hurt me. And it was shocking to me.’ He started to tear up. And as he explained it, what he said is his father hit him on the back, tapped him on the back of the head, he says, but he felt like he just whacked him like full speed. Until he realised, he said, ‘I'm thinking about it now, my father wore this big ring.’ And so when he, his father probably meant to tap. But the ring was like a shock, like a big hit. So the child, ‘You really unloaded on me?’ But he probably didn't mean to, right, and probably couldn't understand why his son was overreacting to this little tap on the head. Right? But then again, that was a situation that affected the way it was a an event that he said, his father overreacted. And he realised he probably didn't mean to do it the way he did it, but had an effect on on him. 

Lisa: And then you add to that whole works, your genetic predisposition to either having you know, the warrior gene or the worrier gene, you know, in the, whether you hold on to adrenaline and anxiety and have more anxiousness. And in general, you know, and, like, I remember, as a kid, my mum saying to me, ‘You were just such a sensitive kid. You would cry at the movies if Bambi got,’ you know, she just couldn't take me to any movie, or anything, because I was just very sensitive, always-trying-to-rescue-the-world kid, you know. And trying to atone for everybody else's misdemeanors that they did, and you know, I probably still am.  And that, you know, so you have this genetic thing that you come in with, and then you add on some of these things. So while somebody may have had a much more traumatic childhood, you can still react with that, those, you know, if you've got the disposition much more violently, or much more strongly to those as well. So we're very complex, little, little beings. It's a wonder any of us managed to do anything really.

Dr Don: Well, what do I refer to that when I start talking is your atmospheric conditions. Your atmospheric conditions, your Joe Polish, who there’s that saying is he goes, ‘I love the way you say that because your atmospheric conditions are different than my atmospheric conditions.’ So if you grew up in very dark, stormy atmospheric conditions, and I didn't, but then, of course, I'm going to see the world differently, because I'm going to filter through those.

Lisa: And you know, what Joe talks about too, as a mutual friend of ours is an incredible guy. Addiction and taking away the shame and the guilt and all of that that's associated, then the blame for and seeing people for actually what's happening instead of apportioning blame. And that stuck with me what he said about that. I think it was a film that I watched that he made. Like, let's remove some of the judgments that we have on people who are dealing with drug addictions or alcohol addictions. We may not like their behaviour, we may want to help them get out of that situation. But judging people when we never walked in their shoes, when we never had any of those experiences that that person has, how the hell are we, any of us really, able to judge other people?

Dr Don: And that's what I talked about in the program too, because what I get to, as I say, think about it, if our brain is a filter, right, and we take water, which are our thoughts and we pour the water through the filter, and it comes out clear, right? But if we pack mud into that filter, and we pour the water through it and it comes out, muddy, we say, well, what's wrong with that water? There's nothing wrong with the water, it filtered through the mud. How is it not going to be muddy, which is your thoughts? Yeah. And so if you've had a lot of packed mud into your filter, right, and your thoughts come out very dark, right and very muddy. Right? How could you not do it? 

Lisa: Yeah. 

Dr Don: So when I sit down with somebody who's in addiction, what I say to them is I said, ‘It's impossible for you to not have done what you did, based on the way your mind filters. So that doesn't— there's nothing wrong with you. There's nothing wrong with your mind. All you've done is you've had a certain set of experiences and your mind filters through those.’ And I said, ‘I've never had a drink of alcohol in my life. I've never had a drug in my life, but I've never experienced your pain. So if I had experienced your pain, and you had experienced my life, you would be sitting where I am. And I'd be sitting where you are.’ 

Lisa: Yeah. 

Dr Don: How could I have done it differently? Yeah, it's not what I say is addiction is not about character, willpower, morals, or ethics. Right. And so you take that that's what Joe and I've talked about, you take away that shame and guilt, because shame and guilt is what got them into it, and probably keeps you there. And so you take away that. So there's a young lady, Michelle, who, when I met her, she's 33, 17 years since she was 16 in active addiction. I mean, everything you can imagine. And the first thing I sit down with her, and as I say, ‘Michelle, there's nothing wrong with you. You don't have a disease. You've built up a series of codes to protect you from the pain.’ And I said, ‘You've had a lot of trauma.’ She goes, ‘Well, how do you know I’ve got a lot of trauma?’ And I said, ‘I can it in hear your voice. Your voice is shaky. And so I can hear the trauma in your voice.’ And I said, ‘What I'm going to do is show you how we're going to update and reset that so that you now can then filter properly. And then that's going to stop the need to feel better, so that's the only reason that you wanted to feel better.’ So she was smoking cigarettes as well, as well as the drugs within four days, she completely stopped smoking. She hasn't smoked, since. It's over two years, has never touched the drug since.

Lisa: Wow.

Dr Don: She had zero withdrawal. When I said the withdrawal is coming from the mind saying, ‘You better get it or we're going to die.’ So I believe the mind creates the physical pain, which they call withdrawal. Because it's saying, ‘If you don't get this, we're going to die.’ So it's going to create physical pain to make you— it’s like bending your arm up your back. Because I've talked to drug addicts who will tell me that as soon as your dealer says they're on their way to bring the drug, the withdrawal stops. Because they know they're gonna get it.

Lisa: So the brain just shuts up because you're going, you're getting it. 

Dr Don: That's in the mind, because how could the mind crave heroin? I said, if the mind could crave anything, what would it crave? Water. Or if the body could crave anything, what would it crave? Water. But we don't have waterholics, we don't have water rehab centres. That’s what people would be craving. And with you running, right? 

Lisa: You’re only craving water. 

Dr Don: But you didn't have a problem drinking too much water.

Lisa: No. And when you're, when you're in the sands, like a desert, like across lots of deserts. And there was one day that we only had two liters of water a day, you're not hungry. You're not anything else but thirsty. That's the only thing you can think about, and it's the only thing that you want. And then you know, the addiction to chocolate that I had in my normal life is gone.

Dr Don: Sure. Survival-based, your brain is survival-based, and it wants more. And so if somebody says, ‘I'm going to take away your drug.’ Your mind says, ‘But we'll die.’ It's an error message. And so that's why we'll create the physical pain to get you to go get it. And then as soon as you get it, you feel better. Right? That says nothing about your character, willpower or morals or ethics, that’s just biology and chemistry, right? And the brain is so powerful to survive, it will do amazing things to stay out of pain.

Lisa: Yeah. And this is why the evolution of how we've evolved in, you know, where our DNA has come from. And then you stick us in this artificial environment that we've made for ourselves, you know, like looking at food addictions, for example, you know, you're going to McDonald's on every street corner and fast food everywhere and ultra-processed and with our old DNA, we’re programmed to go and look for fat and salt and sugar. And that's what we’re wanting to get.

Dr Don: It makes us feel good. 

Lisa: It makes us feel good. It stops the pain, it stops temporarily, you know, unfortunately, and it's available now everywhere. And this is where, you know, we get into this whole problem with you know, obesity and all sorts of degenerative diseases and the follow on from that. And we're really just fighting against our biology, you know?

Dr Don: And when does it stop the pain? Right now—

Lisa: For five minutes.

Dr Don: When I eat that Big Mac, I feel better right now. 

Lisa: And afterwards I feel like—

Dr Don: Logically thinking about, if I continue to do this, I'm going to destroy my gut? No, because all I want to do is stop the pain. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

Dr Don: So I'm working on a smoking cessation program. And this is really, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it explained this way. But this is how I explained smoking. I'll say to somebody, ‘What do you think you're addicted to?’ Most people will say it's nicotine. And you know, nicotine is harder to get off of than heroin. Right? And I'll say ‘So you think you're addicted to nicotine?’ That's a yes. And so what if I tell you you're not addicted to nicotine? ‘I'm not?’ And I said, ‘No, you're not addicted to nicotine.’ I said, ‘What happens is that when you smoke a cigarette, the nicotine enters your bloodstream and goes to your brain.’ I said, ‘Now nicotine has almost the exact chemical compound of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine.’ 

Lisa: Oh. 

Dr Don: So when that nicotine hits your brain, your brain thinks it's acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter that's the precursor to the release of dopamine. 

Lisa: Oh, wow.

Dr Don: So what happens is your brain then starts releasing more acetylcholine to start releasing dopamine. I said what you're addicted to is feeling better.

Lisa: Yep. So God has some eggs instead because that’s a—

Dr Don: But you've trained your brain, to recognise, to associate the associative memory is what's creating the addiction. And it says, ‘When we take that, we feel better.’ It doesn't understand the chemistry that's involved. That's all you're doing. So now, you're, that your best friend that you sit with all by yourself right outside that building because nobody wants to sit with you while you're smoking, right? Now, this cigarette becomes your best friend and somebody says, ‘Well, you can't hang out with your best friend anymore.’ Right? It's like, ‘Oh, no, I'm not giving that up.’ So what you have to do is we have to create a replacement for your best friend. The reason why it's so hard to quit, is because somebody is coming along and saying, ‘Lisa, you just can't hang around with Debbie anymore. Debbie is not good for you.’ And you say, ‘But I don't have any other friends. I feel better when I hang out with Debbie.’ Yep, we've got to find a replacement for Debbie. And another way to do it. And then your brain will then create another way, right, to feel better. Wow. Which is healthier. That's how you break addiction.

Lisa: That is fascinating. So how do you do that with something like heroin though? What do you replace it with? You can't, you know, there isn't, was there—

Dr Don: Here’s the best thing is once we get that unresolved trauma cleared, you automatically start feeling better.

Lisa: because you don't have the pain and therefore you don't need them.

Dr Don: Then we work on the associative memory. So you have to go through our four hour program, we have a series of audio. So if you are an addiction, I have a 30-day addiction audio series that is basically getting your mind to reset the neural pathways of the behaviour. But it's a lot easier to do that when we don't have the pain activated. 

Lisa: Wow. Okay, and now you’re establishing new rituals.

Dr Don: Now all we have to do is work on the pathways, new pathways and start questioning, ‘Why did I use to do that? I remember I used to do that, but it didn't make any sense.’ Now your logical part of your brain can get involved and help because there's no pain involved. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

Dr Don: And now you can use that intellectual part of your brain to say, this doesn't make any sense, let's come up with a better way of doing it. It couldn't do that before when the pain said, ‘Shut up, get out of the way, we're gonna die.’

Lisa: So you're taking that whole piece of the puzzle layer away and then retraining the brain after the fact, after the four hour program. But so that is an essential part of it as well to reestablish new neural pathways and grooves in the brain to do, have behaviours that change. But without that first piece of the puzzle, all of that—

Dr Don: A variety of very, very difficult system to override.

Lisa: Yeah, we—

Dr Don: And almost sometimes impossible.

Lisa: Yeah, I’d say impossible for him for many, many people in many different situations and people are dying left, right, and centre of addictions and you know, the follow-on effects. And they, yeah, we can't stop them. 

Dr Don: And they're told that they're broken. 

Lisa: And they're useless. 

Dr Don: And they just surrender, and then understand that they will never ever be better. And you're, you know, you're a world-class supreme athlete. Can you imagine, with all the training that you did, if I was your coach, and I said to you, ‘Lisa, you're gonna have to put in this tremendous amount of hard work, but you will never win a race. You'll never accomplish anything. But you've just got to put up the hard work.’ No, I'm looking for the little medal at the end of this. I'm looking for some reward at the end of this. Yeah. And what they're telling you is ‘No, you'll never be able to get it.’

Lisa: You’ll never get it, and they take away all your power. You know, they take away all you’re disempowered, and you're like, ‘Oh, well, you're never gonna, you're never gonna do this.’ See, I mean, I never listened to any of that rubbish.

Dr Don: I don’t believe you’ve trained any human being to accomplish any goal by telling them that they can surrender to it. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

Dr Don: That they're going to just have to accept the fact that this has control of them. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

Dr Don: I, no, I'm not going to argue that they haven't helped people because they have. So, but I just say, wouldn't it be better to take the approach of, that you can defeat this? 

Lisa: Yeah. 

Dr Don: And you can overpower it. And you can take back control, because now you understand the science behind it.

Lisa: Exactly. 

Dr Don: And why it happened.

Lisa: I love it. That's my approach, you're singing from the same core sheet there. Because I, you know, like, in, whether this is an addiction, or whether this is a diagnosis for something, and you're told, there's no chance, and there's no hope, the amount of people that I get writing to me, because of my story with my mum, telling me I was written off, I was told I'd never do this. Oh, my loved one was, and now look at us go. You know, how many times have people been written off when they didn't need to be written off? Because some expert has told them that there is no hope? No, that means that you don't know. Somebody in the world that doesn't, that knows. And that approach I think, in you know, whether it's addiction, or whether it's dealing with a big health crisis or problems, you know, we've got to take this approach. 

Somebody out there, like Dr Don would, might have a solution for my problem. And it's the whole point of the show is to be able to bring those people and the messages to, to people who need it, so they can connect with those people and maybe get help with a problem. And I certainly want to get help with some of the trauma that I've been through recently, and hope to get over it. Because, you know, no matter how many, like I've always, have had a strong mindset. In some ways, I'm incredibly strong when it comes to sport and overcoming obstacles and taking on big challenges. But I am completely weak in other areas, and I know, my own weaknesses, and my own, you know, I'm very self-aware of my limitations and stuff. And we're all working on different areas of our lives. And I might be a black belt at doing this, but I'm very much a white belt at doing that, you know. And finding new information and new things that can help you improve different areas in life, I think it's just, you know, just absolutely gold. 

So Dr Don, can you tell us where can people find you? What courses do you have? What books do you have? And you know, how do people reach out to you and work with you?

Dr Don: Well, I know, I think we were gonna do something for the listeners who are listening to your show. So if you go to get G-E-T tipp T-I-P-P, that's the name of our program, T-I-P-P dot com slash Lisa, I think you'll get all the information. So it's, and then all the information on how to get the program, learn more, I think there's some offers, I think that you're doing in there as well for information.

Lisa: So that's absolutely brilliant. So, with two Ps, all the information about Dr Don's work, his courses, books, you know, we'll make sure that people can get access to that. Dr Don, thank you very much for your time today. It's been very, very valuable over the last few weeks of, you know, really been enjoying studying some of your work. And it's given me a little bit of a hope for my horizon after you know, going through some pretty traumatic things in the last five years that I need to sort of work through and you know, realising that on a day-to-day basis are half of my energy now. Like I often look back because I'm no longer doing the ultramarathons, and I don't have the energy to do them anymore. Not because of my age or anything else, I think because a lot of my energy is just going into you know, fighting a lot of demons. Yes, the trauma of losing my dad, going through what I did with my mum, losing the babies. There's a heck of a lot of stuff that's gone on in that time. And all of us are facing these types of situations. Your situation may be different than mine. But at some time in life, life's gonna come along and give you bang over the head.

Dr Don: Your mind is not okay with some of those things and it wants to— And so when people say to me, ‘Oh, I sabotage myself,’ right, or, ‘I'm doing these things and it's, it's interfering.. I say ‘You can't sabotage yourself. The brain is not designed to do anything but survive.’ And so it, some people say, ‘Well, why would I go and do this crazy thing over here that would sabotage my career or sabotage my relationship?’ And it's not trying to sabotage; it’s trying to protect you from pain. So it will go into crazy areas to protect you from the pain that looks like sabotage. And that's how people describe it. I say it's impossible. That, your brain cannot sabotage yourself. Even when people say, ‘Well, how do you explain somebody taking their own life or committing suicide?’ I said, ‘They're not trying to die. They're trying to stop the pain.’ The pain is more powerful than death. That's the way— did I tell you the story about the German sniper? 

Lisa: No, do tell me that. 

Dr Don: This, I know, we're trying to wrap up here.

Lisa: Oh no.

Dr Don: This was fascinating when I read this story. It was about the German sniper from World War II, that when they fought against the Russians, he said the Russians had almost no weapons, but they had a lot of people. So their plan was to charge at the German stations, right, and try to overwhelm them with people. You know, they were carrying sticks and shovels or whatever they had. And he says, ‘And they would—’ I remember, somebody I knew, told me about that they were a German during the war. And they said the Russians would just overwhelm them, get into the bunkers, and then just, you know, take their weapons and try to kill them. He says, so this sniper, for the Germans, he said his job was to shoot them. And he said, ‘But every time they would shoot them, another wave would come.’ He says, ‘And it was just endless, endless.’ He says, ‘And then I figured out how to stop them.’ He says, ‘I shot them in the stomach.’ He says, ‘Then what happened was, is when the next wave would come, they would see all the comrades lying on the ground screaming in pain.’ And he says, ‘And that was the bigger deterrent than to actually dying.’ And he says, ‘And that’s what slowed it down.’ This shows you the power of the mind not wanting to be in pain, what it will do to go to avoid pain. 

Lisa: And this is the desperation that some poor people get into. And that's what they're trying to do when they commit suicide is just stop the pain. 

Dr Don: Stop the pain is so overwhelming that they would rather stop the pain. They're not thinking about dying, they're thinking about stopping the pain. Because the brain won't try to die, it will try to stop the pain before that.

Lisa: Wow. And this is where the biology is just too simple in the fact that it doesn't think through the logical stuff. It just works in the here and the now. 

Dr Don: None of that stuff is logical.

Lisa: Like you see the future prediction. Yeah, there's no, the consequences of me doing this are X, Y, Z is they don't think that far.

Dr Don: They can't, because the reason logic are overwritten every time by survival. Yeah, by the survival in this exact millisecond.

Lisa: This knowledge is just powerful on so many levels. And it's just given me a new dimension of how powerful this is. And again, it's about taking the blame off people, and let's find ways to fix this. And to work through that and to help people so that we don't, so just apportion blame and you’re a person lacking willpower, you’re a person with addictions, and you are lesser than me. We all have biology, and we are all struggling on some level. You know, most of us are just better at, you know, doing the day-to-day stuff. But, yeah, I think you're a humanitarian, and the work that you're doing is really, really helping people, Dr Don. So thank you very much for the work you do.

Dr Don: Thank you. When I first met you and Joe introduced us, I saw the work you're doing, you're doing phenomenal stuff. So I was so excited to meet you and get an opportunity to share with you, you know, and work together because we’re better, have our message out there.

Lisa: Absolutely. We're both going to get messages out there. We're both got to help spread this to a few more people around the world. And this is what this episode’s done. So thank you very much for your time today. Dr Don Wood.

Dr Don: Thank you. I enjoyed it.

That's it this week for Pushing the Limits. Be sure to rate, review and share with your friends, and head over and visit Lisa and her team at

Jun 3, 2021

Do you feel like you're nowhere near your goals?

Do you want something so badly but think that it's impossible to achieve?

Having goals in life gives us a sense of purpose. Whether they're for our career or relationships, goals push us to give our best. However, we sometimes set too many goals and find ourselves stuck. We can also feel discouraged from pursuing our dreams because we subject ourselves to other people’s standards. But while our plans may sometimes seem impossible, we have everything we need. If you can stay determined and learn how to prioritise, we can have our breakthrough.

In this episode, Dr John Demartini joins us to talk about living your best life by structuring it. Learn how to prioritise and you can achieve anything. He shares the philosophy of the Breakthrough Experience, which has miraculously helped thousands of people reach their goals. John also discusses how to make decisions based on priorities, not emotions and instincts.

If you want to learn how to prioritise and stick to your top priorities, then this episode is for you.


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Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Learn about the Breakthrough Experience and how it has changed thousands of lives.
  2. Discover how to prioritise and determine your top priorities.
  3. John shares his secret to retaining Information in the quickest way possible.


Episode Highlights

[05:00] About John

  • Dr John is an educator, researcher and writer. He has spent over 48 years helping people maximise their potential.
  • John wanted to know what allows people to do extraordinary things. That's why he distilled information from great minds throughout history. He made them into practical things that people today can use. 
  • John had speech and learning challenges as a kid. At a doctor’s recommendation, his parents took him out of school and put him into sports.
  • After having a near-death experience at 17, Paul Bragg inspired John to overcome his learning problems. With the help of his mom, he eventually learned how to read. 
  • Listen to the full episode to learn more about John's inspiring story!

[15:42] How Surfing Changed John’s Mindset

  • Surfing has taught John that people are not going to excel without perseverance and commitment. 
  • John converted his determination for surfing into persistence in reading. 

[17:57] The Breakthrough Experience

  • The Breakthrough Experience is a philosophy and program changing lives globally. 
  • This system teaches you how to prioritise and structures life by priority. It breaks through limitations and helps achieve life goals. 
  • John teaches people to use any experience, even challenges. These are catalysts for transformation and progress. 
  • John has helped people learn how to prioritise to get their breakthrough experience in different areas of life. These include businesses, careers, health, relationships, among others.
  • Lisa relates the Breakthrough Experience philosophy to when her mom had a severe aneurysm.

[24:14] John Shares a Miraculous Experience

  • At 27 years old, John handled a family with a son in a three-year coma.
  • The family went to different hospitals in Mexico and the United States. However, they found none to help their son.
  • They then went to John, and he thought of a maneuver to help the child. However, the treatment also came with significant risk.
  • Listen to the full episode to find out how John helped a child get out of a three-year coma.

[33:34] Jesse Billauer’s Breakthrough Experience

  • Jesse Billauer, a surfer, decided to go to the Breakthrough Experience after a surfing accident. 
  • At the time, he was depressed because he was physically unable to surf. 
  • After the Breakthrough Experience, he learned how to prioritise and what his top priority was. Jesse became determined not to let anything stop him from surfing.
  • Jesse developed a way to surf as a quadriplegic person. He taught others how to do the same. 

[38:58] Herd Mentality in the Sciences

  • New ideas are violently opposed and ridiculed. That's why people fear going against the norm.
  • People who aim to survive follow the multitude. People who want to thrive create a new paradigm. 
  • Each person can excel at anything if they focus on that, not on others' opinions. 

[41:37] How to Prioritise

  • John made a list of every single thing he does in a day over three months.
  • He then placed multiple columns next to that list. The first column contains how much money each task produces per hour. The second column contains how much a job inspires him on a scale of 1-10. He also considered the cost and the time spent on each activity. 
  • After doing that, he prioritised the activities that made thousands of dollars. He also focused on ones that scored ten on the inspiration scale.  
  • John hired people for the low-priority tasks. This choice allowed him to be more productive in his top priorities. Within 18 months, his business increased tenfold.
  • Listen to the full episode to learn how to prioritise and about investing in your top priority. 

[56:19] How John Stays Looking Young

  • John is almost 67 years old. However, Lisa describes him as someone who looks like a teenager.
  • John doesn't eat junk. He drinks a lot of water, has never had coffee in his life and hasn't had alcohol in over 48 years.
  • Doing what you love every day also slows down the aging process. 

[58:03] Some Lessons from the Breakthrough Experience

  • Nothing is missing in you. When you compare yourself to others, you'll try to live by their values or get them to live by yours. Both of these are futile. 
  • Sticking to your values and priorities is key to resilience and success.
  • People are different from each other, but no one is better than the other. 
  • If you don't empower your own life, others will overpower you.  
  • Your mission is something that you're willing to get through any means necessary.

[1:06:38] How to Get Your Amygdala Under Control

  • The amygdala is associated with emotions and the "fight-or-flight" response.
  • Because we have neuroplasticity, we can remodel our internal system. 
  • Perceiving challenges and feeling shame and guilt trigger an autoimmune reaction that attacks your body.
  • Every time we choose to live by the highest priority, the amygdala calms down. The prefrontal cortex is reinforced.

[1:12:03] The Mind-Body Connection

  • Our psychological processes also affect our physiological processes. 
  • People are used to blaming external factors. They don't take accountability for the things they experience. 
  • John uses the example of when people get symptoms after eating unhealthy food. They don't face the fact that they brought it upon themselves. 
  • Our bodies do an excellent job of guiding us. That's why we should learn how to listen to them.

[1:18:13] The Journey to Financial Independence

  • There is nothing evil about having money. 
  • John believes that you can be a slave to money, or you can be a master of it. 
  • Nothing is stopping you from doing what you love to do.

[1:21:28] How to Retain Information

  • Teaching what you've learned is the key to retention.
  • Teaching compels your mind to organise ideas and reinforce them. 
  • Teach the concepts as soon as you've discovered them. Don't wait until you're an expert on the subject.



7 Powerful Quotes

‘I'm an educator, a researcher, a writer. I do a lot of interviews and filming for documentaries. I've been spending 48 years now on doing anything I can to help human beings maximise their potential.’

‘I love studying and learning anything I can from those people that have done extraordinary things and then passing that on.”

“I love anybody who's done something extraordinary on the planet in any field. I love devouring their journey.’

‘No matter what the teacher was trying to do, I just couldn't read. And my teacher and my parents come to the school and said, ‘You know, your son's not able to read. He's not going to be able to write effectively’ because I wrote kind of backwards.’

‘Well, I'm surfing the cosmic waves now. And in surfing big cosmic waves, radio waves that are big waves. Yes, that's the move from water waves into electromagnetic waves.’

‘And so the Breakthrough Experience is about accessing that state. And breaking through the limitations that we make up in our mind and transforming whatever experiences you have into “on the way” not “in the way”.’

‘She said that there was something that took over me, I can't describe it. It was like a very powerful feeling — like I had a power of a Mack truck. And me? I don't know how to describe it.’


About Dr John

Dr John Demartini is an author, researcher, global educator and world-renowned human behaviour specialist. Making self-development programs and relationship solutions is part of his job. Among his most popular programs is the Breakthrough Experience. It is a personal development course that aims to help individuals achieve whatever goal they have.

As a child, Dr John had learning challenges and could not read and write well until 18 years old. He has now distilled information from over 30,000 books across all academic disciplines and shares them online and on stage in over 100 countries. 

Interested in knowing more about Dr John and his work? You may visit his website or follow him on Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube and Instagram.


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To pushing the limits,



Full Transcript Of The Podcast

Welcome to Pushing The Limits, the show that helps you reach your full potential with your host, Lisa Tamati, brought to you by

Lisa Tamati: Welcome back to Welcome back to Pushing the Limits. This week, I have Dr John Demartini. He is a world renowned speaker, teacher, educator, researcher, medical doctor. He's written I don't know how many books, countless, countless books. He's an incredible, incredible man who teaches literally thousands and thousands of people every year in his breakthrough experience. The information that you're going to get in this podcast could change your life. So I've given you a fair warning. He's an amazing, incredible man that, and I've talked to a lot of incredible people but this one is really next level, he started out as a big wave surfer in Hawaii, way back in the day. Even knew Laird Hamilton and people like that. Had learning disabilities and could hardly read or write, and yet managed to overcome all these things to become one of the greatest scholars that there is. He's read over 30,000 books. He has distilled the knowledge from people right through the ages, through leaders and philosophers and stoics and scientists. He's an expert in so many different areas. He teaches people in business, he teaches people how to overcome massive challenges in their life. So I really hope that you enjoy this episode. It is going to get uncomfortable in places because we’ll talk about really being accountable, really understanding our own physiology, and just so much more. An absolutely amazing interview. So I hope you enjoy it. 

Before we head over to the show, just reminder, we have our patron membership for the podcast Pushing the Limits. If you want to join our VIP tribe, we would love you to come and do that. It's about the price of a cup of coffee a month or two. If you want to join on the premium level, we would love you to come and join us. Support the show. Help us get this work out there. We are passionate about what we do. We want to change lives, we want to improve your life, we want to improve the lives of others. And we need your help to do that to keep the show going. So please, head over to Check out all the premium VIP member benefits here, and support the show. Be a part of this community, be a part of this tribe. Help support us and reach out to me or the team.

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And as a reminder, please also check out our epigenetics program. We have a system now that can personalise and optimise your entire life to your genetics. So check out our program, what it's all about. This is based on the work of hundreds of scientists, not our work. It has been developed over the last 20 years, from 15 different science disciplines all working in collaborating together on this one technology platform that will help you understand your genes and apply the information to your life. So check that out. Go to and hit the Work With Us button and you'll see their Peak Epigenetics, check out that program. And while you're there, if you're a runner, check out our Running Hot Coaching program as well. Customised, personalised training plans made specifically for you, for your goals. You get a video analysis, you get a consultation with me and it's all in a very well-priced package. So check that out at 

Now over to the show with Dr John Demartini. Well, Hi everyone and welcome to Pushing The Limits. Today, I am super excited for my guest. My guest is an absolute superstar. Welcome to the show. Firstly and foremostly, thank you very much for taking the time out today. Dr John, I'm just really excited to have you. Whereabouts are you sitting in the world?

Dr John: I am in Houston, Texas. I'm in a hotel room in Houston, Texas, even though it shows that I've got a library. 

Lisa: Yeah,I love that background. That is a fantastic background. Really great. Well, greetings to Texas and I hope that everything is going well over there for you. Today, I wanted to talk about you, your work, the breakthrough experience. Some of the learnings and the exciting mission that you've been on for now. For 47 years, I believe. Something crazy like that. So Dr John, can you just give us a little bit of a background on you and your life and what you do on a day to day basis? Big question.

Dr John: I'm an educator, a researcher, a writer. I do a lot of interviews and filming for documentaries. I've been spending 48 years now, over 48 years, on doing anything I can to help human beings maximise their potential, their awareness potential, and achieve whatever it is that they're inspired to achieve. So that could be raising a beautiful family to building a massive business to becoming fortunate or celebrity, doesn't matter. It's whatever it is that inspires them. I've been studying human behaviour and anything and everything I can get my hands on for the last 48 years to assist people in mastering a lot. That's what I love doing. I do it every day. I can't think of any else I'd rather be doing. So I just do it.

Lisa: It's a bit of a role model for me, Dr John, because I think what you have achieved in this time, the way you've distilled information, I mean, you've studied, last time I looked on one of your podcasts, that was over 30,000 books, probably more now. And you've distilled the information from great masters throughout history into practical things that humans today can actually benefit from. Is that a good assessment of what you basically have done?

Dr John: I'm writing right now a 1200 page textbook on philosophers and great minds through the ages. I summarise it. I love studying and learning anything I can from those people that have done extraordinary things, and then passing that on. So yes. Right now, I'm actually, I just finished, I’m just finishing up Albert Einstein, which is one of my heroes. I had a dream when I was young. When I saw that E = mc² drawn on that board, I wanted to find out where that board was. I went to Princeton, and met with Freeman Dyson, who took over his position at Princeton in 1955. Spent part of the day with him and we're talking on cosmology. I wrote my formula on that same board, exactly the same place, because that was a dream that I had since I was probably 18, 19.

Lisa: Wow, and you got to fulfill it and actually love it.

Dr John: Yeah. Took me a bit of time. So what? But yeah, I love anybody who's done something extraordinary on the planet in any field. I love devouring their journey and their thinking. That's every Nobel Prize winner I've gone through and every great philosopher and thinker and business leader and financially or spiritually, to try to find out and distill out what is the very essence that drives human beings? And what is it that allows them to do extraordinary things? So I wanted to do that with my life. Most of the people I get in front of want to feel like they want to make a massive difference. They want to make a difference in the world. They want to do something that’s deeply meaningful, inspiring. And so yeah, we're not 'put your head in the product glue and let the glue stick' and then pass it on. 

Lisa: Instead of having to reinvent the world, why not? So Dr John, can you give us a little bit of history though, because you're obviously an incredible scholar,have an incredible mind. But as a child, you struggled with learning and with reading and writing.Can you give us a little, how the heck did you go from being this kid that struggled with all of that to where you are today? One of the greatest minds out there. 

Dr John:  Yeah, I definitely had some learning challenges. I had a speech challenge when I was a year and a half old to four, I had to wear buttons in my mouth and put strings in my mouth and practice using all kinds of muscles. Went to a speech pathologist. When I was in first grade. No matter what the teacher was trying to do, I just couldn't read. My teacher, and my parents would come to the school and said, 'You know, your son's not able to read. He's not going to be able to write effectively,' because I wrote kind of backwards. 'I don't think he's going to mountain and go very far in life, put him into sport.' Because I like to run. And I did sports there for a while. But then I went from baseball to surfing. I hitchhiked out to California and down Mexico and then made it over to Hawaii so I could ride big waves and I was doing big wave and stuff when I was a teenager. So I didn't have academics. I dropped out of school. I was a street kid from 13 to 18. But then right before 18 I nearly died. That's when I met Paul Bragg, who inspired me one night in a presentation. That night I got so inspired that I thought, 'Maybe I could overcome my learning problems by applying what this man just taught me. And maybe someday I could learn to read and write and speak properly.' That was such an inspiration, such a moment of inspiration that it changed the course of my life. I had to go back. And with the help of my mum, I went and got a dictionary out, started to read a dictionary and memorise 30 words a day until my vocabulary. I had to spell the word, pronounce the word, use it with a meaningful sentence, and develop a vocabulary. Eventually doing that 30 we would, we wouldn't go to bed. I didn't go to bed until I had 30 new words, really inculcated. My vocabulary grew. And I started to learn how to do the reading. It was not an easy project. But, man, once I got a hold of it, I never stopped.

Lisa: And once you started to read, you didn’t stop.

Dr John: I've never stopped. I've been a voluminous reader now. You know, 48 years.

Lisa: That’s just incredible.

Dr John: I can’t complain.

Lisa: So was it a dyslexia or learning disability? I just asked because my mum was a teacher of children with dyslexia and things like that. Was there specific ways that you were able to overcome the disability so to speak?

Dr John: Yeah, I just, sheer persistence and determination to want to read and learn. I remember, I took my first, I took a GED test, a general education high school equivalency test. And I guessed, literally guessed, I close my eyes. I said this little affirmation that Paul Bragg gave me that, 'I'm a genius, and I apply my wisdom.' And some miraculous thing made me pass that test. I didn't know how to read half the stuff that was on it. I just went with my intuition and guessed. And I tried to go to college, after taking that test and had the test. I failed. And I remember driving home crying because I had this idea that I was going to learn how to teach and become intelligent. Then when I got a 27, everybody else got 75 and above. I got a 27 and I thought, 'Well, there's no way it's going to work.' But then I sat there and I cried and my mum came home from shopping, and she saw me crying on the living room floor. She said, ‘Son, what happened? What's wrong?’ I said, ‘Mum, I failed the test. I guess I don't have what it takes.’ And I repeated what the first grade teacher said, 'I guess I'll never read or write or communicate effectively, or amount too much. I guess I'll go back to Hawaii and make surfboards and surf. Because I was pretty good at that.' And she said to me something that was a real mind bender. She put her hand on me and she said, ‘Son, whether you become a great teacher, philosopher and travel the world like your dream, whether return to Hawaii and ride giant waves like you've done, return to the streets and panhandle like you've done. I just want to let you know that your father and I are going to love you no matter what you do.’

Lisa: Wow, what a mum.

Dr John: That was an amazing moment. When she said that, my hand went into a fist of determination. And I said to myself, ‘I'm gonna match this thing called reading and studying and learning. I'm gonna match this thing called teaching and philosophy. And I'm going to do whatever it takes, I'm going to travel whatever distance, I'm gonna pay whatever price, to give my source of love across this planet.’ I got up and I hugged her. And I said to myself, ‘I'm not gonna let any human being on the face of the earth stop me, not even myself.’ I got out of my room. And that's when I decided with her help to do the dictionary. That was an amazing turning point.

Lisa: And I can feel it, the emotion and what a wonderful mum you had. I mean, what a perfect thing to say when someone's down.

Dr John: It was the most. If she hadn't said that, I might’ve come back to surfing. I might  be a surfer today.

Lisa: Which would have been a good thing as well, probably because surfing is great.

Dr John: It didn’t make money in those days. I'm in the mid 60s and 70s, early 70s. But,, now, the guys I served with, Laird Hamilton and-

Lisa: Wow. He's a hero is amazing. 

Dr John: Both Ben Aipa, Gerry Lopez, and these guys, those are the guys I served with. And so those guys went on to be incredible.

Lisa: I wasn't aware of that.

Dr John: I lived at the same beach park in Haleiwa, where Ehukai Beach Park is, near Pipeline, between Rocky Point and Pipeline. Laird Hamilton was dropped off by his mother there and lived there on the beach. I lived up on where the park bench was. We lived right there and I saw him on the beach each morning. He was seven, I was 16. He was going on seven, I was almost 17. We live there at the same place and Bill Hamilton saw him out there and grabbed him and took him in and trained them on surfing and found his mum and then married the mum. That's how I became. I hung out with those characters.

Lisa: Legends. You became a legend in this direction and they have become a legend in a different direction.

Dr John: Well, there's a book out called The High Surf by Tim Baker. That’s from Australia. He wrote a book on people that rode big waves. And he said, 'I'd like to put you in there.' I said, 'Well, I didn't go on to be the superstar in that area like these other guys.' He said, 'But I want you in there because you became a legend.

Lisa: Became a superstar.

Dr John: Yeah

Lisa: Do you think that there's, you know, I come from a surfing family. My brother's a big wave surfer in New Zealand. I've tried and failed miserably, stuck to running. I was better at it. But do you think there's a correlation between the mindset that you developed as a surfer? Because going in those big waves is scary. It's daunting. It's frightening. It's challenging. It's teaching you a lot. Is there a lot that you took from that for this journey that you've been on?

Dr John: Yeah, I didn't surf anything more than 40-foot waves. So I think that was about as good as about as big as you get back in the 70s. At 70s is when I was-

Lisa: Oh, just a mere 40, it’s okay.

Dr John: Well, 40-foot waves was the biggest thing out in outer reef pipeline was the big thing. They hadn't had tow-in surfing yet. That was just, that wasn't begun yet. So there was that idea, we had to catch those waves. That was not easy because they're too big to catch. you got to have big long boards, and you got to really paddle to get into those waves, and it's usually too late. But I think some of those, I used to surf 11 hours a day sometimes. When you're really, really committed to doing something, that's... Einstein said perseverance is the key to making things happen and if you just stay with something. So, if you're not inspired to do something, enough to put in the hours and put in the effort, and you don't have somebody that you can bounce ideas off of, kind of mentoring you, you probably are not going to excel as much. But I did that. And then I just converted that over into breeding 18 to 20 hours a day, feeding once I learned to read, so I just and I still voluminously read I mean, I read every single day.

Lisa: That is incredible. And so you've taken that big wave mindset a little bit over into something else. So obviously, everything you, do you do to the nth degree, we can probably agree on that one.

Dr John: I'm surfing the cosmic waves now. And in surfing big cosmic waves, radio waves that are big waves. I move from water waves into electromagnetic waves.

Lisa: Wow. Now, you run something called The Breakthrough Experience, which you've been doing now for 40 something years. This is a philosophy and a system and a program that really changes lives and has changed lives all over the planet. Can you tell us a little bit about what you've distilled from all this information that you have in your incredible mind? And what you teach in this course, and how this can actually help people? Today, right now listening to this?

Dr John: Well, the breakthrough experiences, sort of my attempt to do with what that gentleman did to me when I was 17. I've done it 1121 times into that course. I keep records, and I'm a metric freak. Every human being lives by a set of priorities, a set of values, things that are most important.

Lisa: Podcast life.

Dr John: Welcome to it. I thought that was off, but I didn't quite get it off. But whatever is highest on the person's values, priorities, whatever is truly deeply meaningful to them, the thing that is spontaneously inspiring for them to that they can't wait to get up the morning and do.If they identify that and structure their life by priority, delegating the lower priority things and getting on with doing that, they will build momentum, incremental momentum and start to excel and build what we could say is a legacy in the world. And so, the breakthrough experience is about accessing that state, and breaking through the limitations that we make up in our mind,  transforming whatever experiences you have into 'on the way' not 'in the way.' So no matter what goes on in your life, you can use it to catalyse a transformation and movement towards what it is that you're committed to. And if you're not clear about it, we'll show you how to do it because many people subordinate to people around them. Cloud the clarity of what's really really inspiring from within them, and they let the herd instinct stop them from being heard. 

I think that The Breakthrough Experiences is my attempt to do whatever I can, with all the tools that I've been blessed to gather to assist people in creating a life that is extraordinary, inspiring and amazing for them. And if I don't do whatever it takes in the program, I don't know when it's going to be. I've seen six year olds in there write books afterwards. I've seen nine year olds go on to get a deal with Disney for $2.2 million dollars. I've seen people in business break through plateaus. I’ve people have major issues with relationships break, too. I don't know what's gonna be. I've seen celebrities go to new levels. I've seen people that have health issues that heal. I mean, every imaginable thing, I’ve breaking through. I've seen it in that course. And it's the same principles applied now into different areas of life. In any other area of our life, if we don't empower, the world's going to overpower something. And I'm showing I want to show people how to not let anything on the outside world interfere with what's inside.

Lisa: And you talk about, it's on the way, the challenges that we have to look at the challenges that we have and ask how is this going to actually help me get wherever I am. And this is something that I've managed to do a couple of times in my life really well, other times not so good. But where I've taken a really massive challenge, I had my own listeners, I had a mum who had a massive aneurysm five years ago, and we were told she would never have any quality of life again, massive brain damage. We know that's not happening on my watch. I'm going to, there is somebody in something in the world that can help with her. And this became my mantra that I was going to get back or die trying. That was that total dedication that I brought to her because of love. When you love someone, you're able to mobilise for the last resources that you have. And that nearly bloody killed me as far as the whole effort that went on to it, and the cost and the emotional costs, and the physical and the health and all the rest of it. It took me three years to get it back to health, full health. She's now got a full driver's license back and a full independent life back and as my wonderful mum again. And that was coming from a state of being in a vegetative state, not much over a vegetative state at least. Hardly any higher function, no speech, no move, be able to move anything.

Dr John: That’s a book there. That's a book or a movie.

Lisa: It's the book.

Dr John: That's a book and a movie for sure.

Lisa: Exactly. And this is very powerful. Because I saw this and when you're in the darkness, everybody is telling you there is no hope, there is no chance. And these are medical professionals who have been to medical school, who have a hell of a lot more authority than you. You just go, ‘No, I am not accepting it because that alternative means death, basically, decline and death in being in an institution. And that is not what I'm going to answer. I'm going to find somebody who can help me’ and I did. I found hundreds of people, actually, and this is what tipped me into doing what I'm doing now, is finding world leading experts to give me the next piece of the puzzle for her and for the people now that are following me so that I can help empower people, not to be limited by the people who tell us we can't do something. It's because that means basically they don't have the answer. Not that there is no answer, is my understanding. And they were right. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. But I did it and my mum is alive and she's well, and that book. I really want to empower people with a story. I see that same like they're obviously your passion. What you went through with your learning problems when you were young and your mum standing beside you has actually propelled you into this lifelong journey that I find absolutely fascinating because that passion, and I can see that passion in you, is still very much alive 48 years later because you're doing what your priority is.

Dr John: I'm definitely doing what I love doing. It's interesting that your story reminded me of something that happened to me when I was 27. If you don't mind, I'd like to share this. So I graduated from my professional school. I had a bit of a reputation there of being kind of the taking the cream of the crop clients, patients that were turned down everywhere else. I just tackled it, see what we can do with it. And I got a family from Mexico, with a son that fell three stories off an apartment complex onto the ground on his head. He went into a coma, been in a coma for three and a half years. And the mother, they assumed he was dead a few times, but there was still a breath. There were still something. It wasn't a strong breath. You couldn't see it but you could put a mirror in front of you and get a little bit of breath out there. So he wasn't dead. And he had decerebrate rigidity. So his whole body was so rigid that when I saw him, you could lift up his feet and his whole body would rock. It was so stiff. His hands are like this. A classical decerebrate rigidity. And he had gone to, throughout different hospitals in Mexico, where he was from, and nobody checked them. They came to America, they went to the Medical Center in Houston, which is the largest Medical Center America. And they got rejected. No one would accept it. There's nothing we can do. They went out to the professional school that I'd gone to. And they said, ‘We can't do anything.’ But we know this interesting character. West Houston, if there's anybody that would try something this guy might try, who knows? And they sent him to my office. I remember when they came in, they carried him wrapped up in a white sheet, and laid him on the armrest of the chairs on my office. I looked out there and I saw this Mexican man and woman and seven or eight other kids in a family. I'm in this. At first, I didn't know what this was, this thing wrapped up in this sheet. They came down my hallway and I saw him going down the hallway. And like, ‘What on earth is this?’ Then they unveiled him in my exam room. And there was this 58 pound tube in his nose, coma case that was so stiff. It was ridiculous. I mean, he had gauze on his chin and his hand was rubbing on it and to protect the chin from having an ulcer. It had an odor to him in the head. It was just nothing. Just stare. He just sat there. But the mother and father said, ‘No, he's still alive. Please help.’ So I didn't really have much to do an exam with. So I got him, we took him in and did a film of his spine and his skull from the history. We found his foramen magnum, his skull was jammed down on a spinal cord and his spinal cord is up in his foramen magnum. This opening in the bottom of the skull. And I thought that night, when I was developing those films, and I looked at that I thought, 'I wonder what happened if I lifted that skull? If I've got that off? It could? Could something happen?' And I was scared because you just don't do that. He could die just instantly. I sent them over to this health food store to get him some liquid vitamins and minerals and amino acids to try to get nutrients in him because they're feeding him beans and rice with liquid. It was just crazy. So the next day came in. We had four doctors on a preceptorship visiting my office, one doctor that was working for me, one assistant, the seven or eight kids plus him and the mother and father in this little room. It was packed. And I said to him that I saw that on the film something that might have make him, help. I don't know, I can't guarantee it. But if we, if I did a particular manoeuvre, it might open up the brain function. And the little woman held on to her husband and she said, 'If he dies, he dies. If he lives, we rejoice. But please help us. We have nowhere else to go.'

Lisa: Yeah. Wow.

Dr John: She said that there was something that took over me, I can't describe it. It was like a very powerful feeling, like I had a power of a Mack truck in me. I don't know how to describe it. And I had this manoeuvre that we could do this, what they call the Chrane Condyle Lift, that can actually lift the skull up the spine. And I said to myself, if I'm not willing to have him die in my hands, I can't raise the dead with my hands as a little quote that I learned from an ancient healing philosopher. And I thought, 'Okay, we're, I'm going to take the risk, and just see what happens.' Because, I mean, I don't know what to do. I'm just gonna do it. Because I mean, they've got no place to go and I only took a rip. As I lifted that skull with this powerful movement. He came out of his coma. He came right out of the coma. He screamed, and this whining noise you couldn't. It was not coherent. It was just this whining sound.

The whole family went on their knees, they were Catholic. They just went to their knees and prayed. I was blown away. I saw the four doctors one of them ran down the hallway and vomited, couldn't handle it. The other just stared. And here's this boy squirming on the table. I walked out to let the family be with the child for a minute and just sat with one of my doctors. We sat there and just cried. Because we knew that the spinal cord expressed life in the body. But we didn't know what would happen if we took the spinal cord, it just scanned off. Theoretically, it could kill you. But there was some still life in the spinal cord. Anyway, this boy went on to gain 20 pounds up to 78 pounds. We took him off the tube, we got him to move, we had everybody in the family take a joint in his body and move his joints to remobilise him. Sometimes I think we probably tore some ligaments doing it. But we got mobility. And this boy came out of it. And I have a picture here with me of the boy actually graduating from high school.

Lisa: You’re kidding me? Why is this not an? What is not? Why have I never heard the story? 

Dr John: I don’t get to share it too often. I didn't many years ago. I haven't practised in a long time. But all I know is that that was a moment that you just, it's probably like you had with your mum when you saw incremental progress.

Lisa: Yeah. Just grind.

Dr John: And I think that that's a metaphor. That's a metaphor. It doesn't matter where you've come from, doesn't matter what you're going through, doesn't matter what you've been through. What matters is you have something that you're striving for. And are you willing to do some incremental movement towards that? What else just said is, he's got a diagnosis. Diagnosis means through knowledge, supposedly, but it could also mean die to an agnosis. You don't know. Even the doctors don't know. But the reality is,  he came out of the coma. And I had over the next few months, I had some amazing cases of a boy that was blind and couldn't walk, and all of a sudden see and walked again. I had a boy that was paralysed quadriplegic, was able to walk. I mean, I had some amazing stuff happen. When you're willing to do what other people aren't willing to do, you're willing to experience when other people don't get to experience.

Lisa: Yep, it is just so powerful. And I'm just absolutely blown away from that story. Because, I mean, I know with my mum who was only in a coma for three weeks, and had stroke and so on, and in the specificity and the things that I've had to deal with. The whole vestibular system being completely offline, she has like a rag doll, having to read, programming her from being a baby, basically, to being an adult, within that three year period with a body that is now like 79 years old. And the doctors going like, your brain can't change that much. And in just going, I'm going to keep going. I'm only listening to people who tell me I can do something, I'm not listening to anybody who tells me I can't do something. And this is something that I've really integrated into my entire life like as an athlete, doing stupidly long ultramarathon distances. I was always told you can't do this, and you can't do that. It's impossible. And I was like, 'We'll see.' I'm going to throw everything in it. And that was my passion at the time have now retired from doing the stupid distances because I've got other missions on in life. But whatever it is, is always the big mission. And then everybody comes up against people who tell you, you can't do it. This is one of the biggest limiting things that I see.

Dr John: That's what Einstein said, greatness is automatically pounded by mediocre minds. 

Lisa: Wow.

Dr John: I had a boy, a boy attend my breakthrough experience, who had a surfing accident and became arms and legs not working, He could move his neck. He got a little bit of function slowly into the hand that was about it, just a tiny bit. And I remember a man wheeling him in and having them kind of strapped to a wheelchair. I knew the father and I knew his brother. There were doctors who were colleagues of mine. And they brought him, they flew him literally from Los Angeles over to Texas to come to the breakthrough experience. I remember him looking straight down really depressed, suicidal, because he was a surfer and he was on his way to being a great surfer. If he couldn't surf, he didn't want to live kind of. I remember getting on my knees and looking up at him at this chair, and I said, 'It all determines inside you what you decide. I don't know what the limit you have in your body. I don't know what you can repair. I don't know what you can do. I don't want to say you can't. But all I know is that if you're going to, you're going to have to put everything into it. You're gonna have to have no turning back kind of attitude. There's got to be a relentless pursuit of your master plan to serve.'

His name is Jesse Billauer. He made a decision at the Breakthrough Experience that nothing was going to stop him from surfing again, nothing. He is really, in the room was absolutely applauding him. The before and after in that weekend was so astonishing that it was tear jerking. Well, about 17 years ago, 16 half years ago, I had the opportunity to get, I was living on the Gold Coast of Australia. I had many homes in New York and different places. But I had one in the Gold Coast of Australia in Aria, lived in the penthouse of Aria. And all of a sudden, I found in my entrance of my penthouse, which you only can get into with my key somebody from downstairs, put it in there like mail, a DVD video of a surfing movie, called Stepping Into Liquid. And when I pulled that up and put that in there, there was Jesse Billauer, surfing.

He found a way of using his head muscles, and designing a special vehicle, a transport system, a surfboard. He had to have somebody take them out into the water and push him. But once he got on a wave his head movements were able to ride and he was riding like 12 foot waves, which is 20 foot face waves. He was doing that. And he was an inspiration. He became friends with Superman who had quadriplegia and they became friends and he created a foundation to do something but he taught people how to go surfing as a quadriplegic. So when the wise big enough to house take care of themselves, you've proven that in your book. What little I've done in my life compared to some of these kind of stories is just astonishing what I see sometimes people do. I mean, mind blowing stuff that people, that determination to overcome that are absolute inspirations. Inspiration is a byproduct of pursuing something that's deeply inspiring and deeply meaningful, through a challenge that people believe is not possible. That's inspiration.

Lisa: That's how we grow as a human race. We have these amazing people that do incredible things. And these stories, I mean, these are stories that aren't even out there in the world, in a huge way. There are hundreds of these stories and thousands of these stories and miraculous stories. These are the things that we should be talking about. Because why are we not studying the outliers? Why are we not? When I look at my book, or my story, which I share publicly and not a single doctor that had anything to do with my mum ever asked me, 'Well, how did you do it?' Nobody is interested in why she has not taken the normal path as long gone. Nobody has asked me what did you do? People do. My audience want to know why. The people that follow me, etc. But nobody that was involved in that case. And I see that over and over again. 

Dr John: It's forcing him to face their own, you might say, belief systems about what they've been taught. There's an educated awareness by the herd and then there's an innate yearning by the master. The master transcends the herd, if you will. You can be a sheep or a shepherd. The shepherd is the one that goes out and does things that the sheep are not willing to do. But then once they do it, they'll rally around it. They are there watching you to be the hero instead of becoming the hero.

Lisa: Wow. And why is it in the medical fraternity that there seems to be a very big herd mentality, like no one is scared to step outside of their norms, and they get slammed. I see this in academia and in science as well, where people who have brilliant ideas and hypotheses and studies and so on, they just get slammed because it's outside of the current paradigm. 

Dr John: William James, one of the founders of modern psychology, said 'To be great…' And Emerson followed in suit, 'To be greatest, to be misunderstood.’ William James basically said that the majority of people fear rejection from the multitudes because that was survival. People that are into survival follow the multitude. People that are in thrival create a new paradigm. At first they're going to be ridiculed. They're going to be violently opposed to Schopenhauer and Gandhi said, but eventually becomes self-evident. And you're either following a culture or building one. The people that do that build a new culture. They build a new culture of idea. Emerson said in his essays on circles, 'We rise up and we create a new circle of possibility. And then that becomes the new norm until somebody comes up and breaks through that concentric sphere with another circle.' It's like the four minute mile. I had a gentleman on my program the other day who is striving to be the fastest runner in the world. He's got bronze and silver medals, but he hadn't got the fastest running. And he's not stopping. He's working sometimes eight to 13 hours a day on this project. I believe that the way he's so determined to do it, and how he works on it, and he doesn't need a coach telling him what to do. He just does it. He's inspired to do it. He'll be the fastest runner, he won't stop till he's the fastest runner in the world. And that’s determination, that to be great at that one thing, find that one thing that you really target like a magnifying glass, on that you become the greatest at that thing. 

Mine was human development, human behaviour. I want to have the broadest and greatest width of information about that. That's my one thing. But each individual has something that they can excel in, if they just define it, and give themselves permission at it, and say, thank you but no thank you to the opinions. The opinions are the cheapest commodities on Earth that would circulate the most as a use value. There’s ton of those. But those opinions aren’t what matter. It's not you comparing yourself to other people, it's you comparing your daily actions to what's deeply meaningful to you, and the highest priority actions daily, that’s what it is.

Lisa: How do you, this is a problem that I face, get to a certain level of success and achievement, and then you start getting lots of offers and opportunities and so on, and you start to lose the focus. You get distracted from the things that are happening in this day and age where the internet and everything that ends up like I get the shiny object syndrome. And say, 'Oh, this is an extremely interesting area of study, and I should go down that path. And then I go down that path, and then I go down that path.' It is adding to the whole picture of a general education. as someone who studied as much as you have, you've obviously encompassed all of these areas. But I think what I'm asking is, how do you find out what your highest priority is? And how do you get a team around you, so that you're not limited? I think there's a lot of business people that are listening to this, me included in this, who has struggling to get past a certain ceiling because the area of genius is one thing that they love and excelling at, and you'd like to spend all of your time doing that. But you're stuck in the groundhog day of admin and technology in the stuff that you hate. And not busting through because financially, you can't delegate to people. You also got to find people that are a good fit for you who can do the jobs, and then also have the finances to be able to break through to that near next level. Can you talk to that about?

Dr John: Yes, absolutely. When I was 27 years old, I was just starting my practice. I was doing a little of everything, anything and everything, just to get the thing cranking. I had one assistant that I hired. But I realised I was doing way too many trivial things. And that'll burn you out after a while if you're doing stuff that's not really what your specialty is. I went to the bookstore and I got a book by Alec McKinsey called The Time Trap. I read this book. As I read it, I underlined it and extracted notes like I do. I decided to put together a little sheet for it. I'll share that because it was a goldmine. I made a list of every single thing that I do in a day, over a three month period, because each day I had sometimes different things to do. But I wrote down everything I might be doing in those three months in a day. I just wrote them all down. And I don't mean broad generalities like marketing or this type of thing or radiographs or whatever. I mean, the actual actions. The actual moment by moment actions I do in those categories. I made a list of those and it was a big list. And I looked at it. Then right next that list, every single thing I did from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed, everything —  home, personal, professional. I wanted to know what my day looked. I want to be an honest, objective view of what am I actually doing with my day. Because if I want to create my life the way I want, I've got to take a look at what I'm actually doing because if I'm not doing things that give me the results, no wonder I'm not getting there. 

I made that list, and right next to it, in column number two of six columns is how much does it produce per hour. Which is a measure of actually meeting somebody's need as a service and people willing to pay. How much is that produced per hour? And that was humbling because there are whole lot of stuff that I will do without pay. I was minoring in majors and majoring in minors. I was doing all kinds of stuff that was just cost, no return. I stopped and I looked at that, and that was humbling, and frustrating, and a bunch of stuff went through my mind. I mean, I just, but I had to be honest to myself, what does it actually produce? I extrapolate. If I spent two hours on it, what is it per hour? Cut it in half. If I spent 30 minutes, I’d double the number to get an idea what it is per hour. There's a lot of stuff that was not making anything and there was a few things that were making a lot. 

The third column I wrote down, how much meaning does it have? How much is it that makes me inspired to get up and do it? I can't wait to do what people can't wait to get. Those are the things I want to target. So I looked at it on a one to ten scale, how much meaning it was. I made a list on a one to ten scale of every one of those items, how inspired am I to do that? And there's a lot of stuff on there that was not inspiring, that I didn't want to do. I thought, 'Hell. I went to ten years of college for this?' I made this list and I put this one to ten thing. And then I prioritised the tens down to the ones. I prioritise productivity down from the ones that made thousands of dollars an hour to nothing an hour. I just prioritise them. And then I looked. There were some that were overlapped, where the thing that was most meaningful and inspiring match where it’s most productive. I prioritise that based on the two together. And that was really eye opening. Then I went to the next one because I realised that if I don't delegate, I'm trapped. Then I put what does it cost? Every cost. Not just salary, but training costs, no hiring costs, parking costs, insurance costs, everything. What is the cost of somebody excelling at doing what it is I'm doing at a greater job than me? What would it cost? On every one of those items? The best I could do? I had to just guess on something, but I definitely did the best I could. 

And then I prioritise that based on spread, how much it produced versus how much it cost. Then I put another column. How much time am I actually spending on average? The final column, I wrote down, what are my final priorities with all these variables? I did a very thorough prioritisation system there. I sliced those into ten layers. I put a job description, I put a job description on that bottom layer, and hired somebody to do that but bottom layer. It took me three people to get the right person because I had to learn about hiring. I didn't know how about, hiring. I finally got the first person there, and that was free. That allowed me to go up a notch. And then I hired the next layer. What I did is it allowed me to go and put more time into the thing to produce the most, which was actually sharing a message of what I was doing publicly, with speaking. Public speaking was my door opener. I just kept knocking out layers.In the next 18 months, my business tenfold in increase in income and business. I had 12 staff members and five doctors working for me in a 5000 square foot office from under 1000 square foot original office in 18 months. Because I said goodbye to anything that weighed me down. Anytime you do something that's lower on your values, and anytime something hone your value value yourself and the world values you when you value. It's waiting for you just to get authentic and live by the highest values, which is your ideological identity. The thing you really revolve around you. Mine was teaching, so I call myself a teacher, right? So whatever that highest value is, if you prioritise your day and fill your day with high priority actions that inspire you, it doesn't fill up with low party distractions that don't, because it's now you're allowing yourself to be authentic. And it doesn't cost to properly delegate if you get the right people, and you go on and do what produces more per hour, it doesn't cost it makes sense.

Lisa: That's the hard part, isn't it? As is growing.

Dr John: You do your responsibilities. Go do the thing that knocks down the doors and goes and does the deals and then go and let them do all the crazy work. Like when I was 27, that's the last time I ever wrote a check or did payroll or looked at bills. I never looked at that again. Because that's a $20 an hour job and I could make way more speaking and doing my doctrine. So I thought, 'I'm not doing anything that's going to devalue me ever again in my life.' I've never gone back. 38 years, I've never gone back.

Lisa: So systematise. This is a thing here, where I have a bit of a problem, a bit of a chaos, right?

Dr John: I'm an ignoramus when it comes to anything other than research, write, travel, and teach. I'm useless. I'm not. I do jokes and say when I'm having I want to make love with my girlfriend. I tell her. I put my arms around I said, 'If I was to organise and have Hugh Jackman or Brad Pitt take care of lovemaking for you on my behalf and things like that, would you still love me?' One time if she said, 'No, I will still love you more.' I'm joking. That’s a joke. But the point is that if you're not delegating lower priority things, you're trapped.

Lisa: And this is the dilemma, I think, of small businesses is giving that mix right and not taking on people before you can go to that next level.

Dr John: But you go. You go to the next level by taking them on if it's done properly.

Lisa: If it's done properly, because I've-

Dr John: You want to make sure. That's why I have a value determination process on my website to determine the values of people I hire because if they're not inspired to do what I need to delegate, that's not the right person.You gotta have the right people on the bus, this column says. I have to be clear about what I can produce if I go and do these other things. And me speaking it, and doing the doctoring on the highest priority patients was way more productive financially than me doing those other things. So once I got on to that, I put somebody in place just to book speeches, and just to make sure that I was scheduled and filled my day with schedules with patients, it was a updated day and night. I've never gone back to that. I only research, write, travel, teach. That's it.

Lisa: That's my dream. I'm gonna get there.

Dr John: I don't do it. What's interesting is I became financially independent doing that because of that. I learned that if I don't value myself, and I don't pay myself, other people aren't going to pay me. If they're waiting for you to value you add when you value you, the world values you. You pay yourself first, other people pay you first. It's a reflection, economically, there. And that's what allowed me to do it. Because financial independence isn't for debauchery and for the fun life, in my opinion. It's for making sure that you get to do what you love because you love it not because you have to do it.

Lisa: And having an impact on the world. But if you're stuck doing the admin and the technical, logical stuff, and the crap that goes along with the business. You're not impacting the world like you want to be impacting.

Dr John: Weel, the individual that does the administration is impacting the world through the ripple effect by giving you the freedom to do it.

Lisa: Exactly.

Dr John: If that's what they love doing. That’s not what I love doing. But there are people that love administration, they love that stuff and love behind the scenes, I love doing that. Finding those people. That's the key.

Lisa: Finding those people. I's given me a bit of encouragement because I've been in that sort of groundhog days I had to get through the ceiling and get to the next level of reach.

Dr John: I finally realised that the cost of hiring somebody is insignificant compared to the freedom that it provides if you do your priority.

Lisa: If you get your stuff right, and know what you…

Dr John: Because the energy, your energy goes up the second you're doing what you love doing. And that draws business to you.

Lisa: Absolutely. I mean, like doing what we're doing. Now, this is my happy place. 

Dr John: We’re both in our element. This is why we're probably going to slow down. The point is, when you're doing something you love to do, when you're on fire, with kind of an enthusiasm, people come around to watch you burn. They want to see you on fire. 

Lisa: I mean, they do, they do. And I've seen that in times in my life where I've been preparing for a big race or something, and I need sponsors. I just go out there.  At the start, I didn't know how to do a sponsored proposal, I didn't know how to do any of that fancy stuff. I just went out there and told the story. And by sharing the story, people were like, 'I want to get on board with this. That's exciting.' People would come on in and and when you don't know, one of the things that I've found in life is the less you know, sometimes the more audacious you are. When you actually have too much knowledge sometimes about the implications of what you're doing is when you can actually limit yourself.

Dr John: Yeah. Because you get in the herd instinct running on all the limitations. When you're inspired by something and there's no turning back. Everybody deep inside wants to be like that. So when they see something like that they want to engage. But you want to invest in inspiration, not rescue desperation. That's a basic law. Invest in inspiration, not rescue desperation. Nobody wants to rescue desperation unless they're compassionately in desperation and they're feeling hurt themselves. But if you take somebody and you show them what's possible, when Elon Musk goes out there and he has three explosions in a month on the way to Mars, they don't make any. He doesn't give up, he just goes, 'We're going to build another one.' There's no, 'Okay. It's a billion dollars. Let's spin 5 billion if we have to, but we're going to Mars.' Setbacks are nothing more feedback. That's the person who's inspired.

Lisa: Yeah. And that perseverance. I’m thinking that.  You know the title of my book there is Relentless for a reason because you have to be like, no matter what, in that journey, there were months without progress. There would be months when we would see absolute nothing. And that was with all day every day working on it then seeing nothing. People would come to me and they'd say, 'Why are you putting her through this torturous regime every day? Why don't you just leave her be? Make her comfortable.' I don't do comfortable. Comfortable is not part of my vocabulary. Comfortable is 'We're going to die.' We can be comfortable for an hour in the evening, while I'm watching Netflix. That's the rest of the day.

Dr John: That's what I say about breaks. I say my job is to make you feel comfortable being uncomfortable. 

Lisa: That's comfortable being uncomfortable. 

Dr John: I’m gonna make you comfortable being uncomfortable. Because unless you are outside your comfort zone, it's not gonna, there's no stretch. there's no stretch. Just like in bodybuilding, if you don't push yourself a little further. I started out doing this year. The last year I started out doing 25 push ups, I went to 50 push ups, went to 75 push ups, went 200 broke 100. And I just kept adding another one. Just doing, trying to go and get my push ups up.

Lisa: And on that point, how have you stayed looking still like a teenager? What is it that? Is this the knowledge that you have that you just don't seem to age for a while?

Dr John: I was 17 when I started, I'm almost 67 now. All I did is that, means I only added 5. 1-2-3-4-5. So every decade was just one number. So I've only added five, five numbers to my age, since I was 17. That's the way I look at it. 

Lisa: Well it looks like that. Are there some secrets to that? What is it that keeps you looking in?

Dr John: I don't live to eat. I eat to live. I don't pig out, I don't binge. I don't eat junk, I make sure that I'm eating performance. If you have something deeply meaningful that you want to do on a daily basis, you refine your diet into something that gives you performance. That's that's it, and I drink a lot of water. I haven't had coffee my whole life. I don't, I haven't had alcohol in 48 plus years.  I've got a pretty simple life.

Lisa: Pretty simple life. 

Dr John: And I’m doing what I love every day, I love what I'm doing. And that makes a difference. You don't age as much. Your cytokines, your inflammatory responses are down. You don't have distress. You have your stress, you have armies, and you move forward when you're doing something you really love to do every day.

Lisa: Wow. So no stress, good diet, none of the bad stuff.

Dr John: I’ve delegated all my stress to other people. You know, Hugh Jackman, they got the stress. They're the ones that gonna have to go through all that gyration and make love. I'm joking. I delegate stress to other people who would love to take it.

Lisa: Yep. And that's, oh, man, there's just so much gold in that. So what are some of the stuff as that you do, you talk about in the breakthrough experience? Talk me through a little bit of the process that you get people to take and so in a way, how can help people can join the breakthrough?

Dr John: One of those is owning the traits of the greats. I always say at the level, the essence of the soul, which is the real authentic self, you might think. Nothing's missing in you. But the level of your senses, things appear to be missing in you. And sometimes we compare ourselves to others. We put them on pedestals, we put them in pits, we put them above us or below is greater or lesser than us. We don't have an equal sign. So there's no equanimity and equity in there. Well, and as long as we do, we're going to inject their values and try to live in their values, which is futile, or project our values and try to get them to live in our values, which is futile. And all that futility, energy is what drains people.  When you actually start to do something that is authentic to you, and are more objective, filling your day with high priorities. Think about when you really got, really knocked it out of the ballpark, and you stuck to priorities in the day you come home, you're resilient, you can handle anything. But if you put out fire and just had nothing but low priority stuff during the day, and you felt like 'Man, I never got to what was important today. What a day.' You're a bear when you come home, and that runs your immune system down. So,owning the traits of the greats finding out what it is around you, the heroes and villains around you own them. So you're not thinking, 'Oh, I need to be like them, or they need to be like me.' Just own it all. Give yourself to realise that if you're admiring somebody it's because you're too humble to admit what you see in them inside you, it's not missing, it's there. You haven't seen it. Become aware of it in your own form in your own value system. Don't compare yourself to them. Compare your daily actions to what you value most and stick to priority.

Lisa: And so when you start to think that someone else, because we do this all the time. We're comparing ourselves, you meet someone on the street and you're like, 'Oh, they're better looking than me either. They're richer than me. This or that.' Doing that act actually diminishes what you feel.

Dr John: But they don’t have a better life than you. That's what's so funny. I've met a lot of celebrities, a lot of impacting people, probably three or four thousand of them now. They're just human beings. And we think, 'Oh, my God. They got this great glitzy life.' No, they don't. I know some celebrities that can go outside without the paparazzi. They have to go flying into an island to hide somewhere. They have challenges that you probably don't want. But the reality is, they're not better. They're just different. And that's the realisation. They have a different set of values. They have a different set of 'successes and failures.' And if you compare yourself to them, you're going to minimise yourself. But if you actually go and find out what you see in them inside you in your own form. Otherwise, you're going to do what Einstein said. You're going to be a cat trying to swim like a fish and beating yourself up or a fish trying to climb a tree like a cat beating yourself up. Honour that you're a cat. I'm a professional speaker, I honour that I don't try to waver from what I know I'm here for.

Lisa: Yes, I love that. It's like understanding your genetics. I teach genetics and epigenetics, and that's a part of it. Understanding who you are owning who you are, instead of trying to be someone that you're not. Looking at the bad and the good, and the ugly, it is what it is, and how do we make the best of us.

Dr John: No matter what,  no matter how ugly you are in the world, there's somebody out there that is going to love to look at you.  That’s what’s funny. I was in Antarctica, I live on a ship as you know. We sailed down to Antarctica. There were penguins along I mean, as far as you can see is penguins. And I've watched the penguins. There were some really gimpy looking penguins that weren't that attractive. But I found if I waited there and watch long enough, another gimpy penguin found them and they made it with them. It was lovely. And then there was this really flaring debonair penguin, right? There's that perfect tuxedo on. There's this beautiful penguin, there was a penguin for everybody. I could see all my friends and their personalities in these penguins. It was quite interesting. So it's in the eye of the beholder, beauty. The same thing, we tend to think, 'Well, they've got a better deal.' No, they don't, they have a different deal.

Lisa: They have a different deal. Yeah. It's about you finding your priority, living your best life, living your optimal performance, and not getting yourself in the way and not letting other people control. 

Dr John: What that is. If you don't empower your own life, people overpower you. Rose Kennedy had a mission statement. I actually was given a book by a woman who was a patient that her father gave her the book and her father got that book from the Kennedy family. So this was handed down from the Kennedy family to a father to a daughter to me. And in there, I was going through this book, and it was on magnetism. It's amazing book. In there was a handwritten note by Rose Kennedy. It was our mission statement. And it said, 'I dedicate my life to raising a family of world leaders.' That's her mission.There's a mother. And I've had mothers come up to me and said, 'Well, is that enough?' And I go, I read that to them. Anytime I have a mother that's thinking, 'Oh, I should be a businesswoman. I should be this. I should be that.' They really, really want to raise kids. But they're comparing themselves, and think that's not enough. I read that to them. Because she created world leaders as a mother.

Lisa: And that’s a ripple effect, isn’t it? That's the ripple effect that…

Dr John: Because her heart was there. Her heart was a way to be a mother. And we sometimes go, 'Oh, well, they're doing this so I should be doing this.' Anytime you hear yourself saying I should, I ought to, I'm supposed to, I got to, I have to, I must, or I need to, you're living under the imperatives of other people that you've subordinated to. You're injecting values, which is clouding the clarity of your own mission. Giving yourself permission to get your mission back and saying thank you, but no, thank you to options, who you are, and give you no truth to who you are. That's what’s liberating. Being unborrowed visionary, not a borrowed visionary.

Lisa: One valuable bomb after the other I think and this conversation, and it's just so empowering. Because you as human beings, we have this imposter in the head that's telling us we're not good enough. We aren't this, we aren't that. And we also have the subconscious that's running the ship. So we downloaded a whole lot of stuff when we were young that we didn't. When did you choose your beliefs? When did you choose your value system? When did you choose that you are going to be limited in this way or that way? Was probably before you even were able to understand how the people get into that subconscious and start to reprogram. Because a lot of people listen to this guy, 'Yes, yes, yes, I want to be like that.' And then …

Dr John: The thing is they set up a fantasy. Saying that as long as you have a fantasy your life becomes a nightmare. You got to set a real objective, something you're willing to embrace pain and pleasure in the pursuit of. If you're not willing to embrace both pain and pleasure, support and challenge, ease and difficulty in the pursuit of it, it isn't your mission because that's the sign of the mission. You're willing to do whatever it takes. Travel whatever distance, pay whatever price is, as that happened to me. So if you're looking, if you're in your amygdala, you're going to want to avoid predator and seek prey. Avoid pain, seek pleasure in the hedonistic pursuit, which is immediate gratification and short term outcomes. Person attend the executive centre has an executive vision. And they have a strategic planning, they want to think it through. When you go and run massive marathons, you sit down and go, 'Okay, what's the diet? What am I? What's my workout? What are the obstacles? What happens if I get too hot? What happens?' You think of everything and prepare. You have foresight and people with foresight get ahead. And people that live in hindsight, are always reacting. Number one thing to stops that is giving power to other people that you put on pedestals. We're not here to put people on pedestals, we're not here to live in their shadows. We're here to stand on their shoulders, as Newton did. So our job is to whatever we see, and other people own the traits of great. That's what I do in the breakthrough experience. What is it I admire about them? And where do I have it until it's quantitatively and qualitatively equal. So they're no longer up on this pedestal, and I'm no longer minimising because if I set a goal that matches their values, I'm going to beat myself up. You have self critical statements inside your head. That's not a bad thing. That's letting you know you're pursuing something that's not you. That's a feedback. The second you get on to what the navigation you, you don't have that. I've demonstrated that on thousands of people, the second they get on to them, they get tears of gratitude, they know what it is, that disappears. That's a homing device to try to get you to set real goals with real objectives that are deeply meaningful and quit trying to be somebody you’re not. 

Lisa: Wow. So what about things like your amygdala you talked about the amygdala and your prefrontal cortex and your view executive function. What happens with people who have, I had Dr Austin Perlmutter on the show, Dr David Perlmutter. He's written a book called Brainwash. He talks about the separation between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex of the connection that the conversation isn't going backwards and forwards. And in people with brain injuries, for example, or with a lot of inflammation because they've been eating wrong foods are exposed to toxins. So there's an actual physical thing. How can people get their amygdala under control? Because we have so many people, whether it's from a brain injury or from bad foods, or whatever, living in this amygdala state where they're in a reactive, immediate gratification, make the short term decisions not looking at. This is affecting us worldwide. This is not only on the individual level, but also…

Dr John: Even some leadership levels. People are doing it. We have neuroplasticity, you know that. Neuroplasticity allows neurogenesis. They can reactivate neurogenesis and we can remyelinate with our oligodendrocytes, we can remyelinate that internal system. They ask them sites and oligodendrocytes are sitting there building and destroying he seems remodelling his house. Yeah, yeah. Now, every time we live by the highest priority, the highest value, the prefrontal cortex starts getting mileage and the neurogenesis and the neurons going from the prefrontal cortex with glutamate and GABA, the regulators of the amygdala, calm down the impulses and instincts, the amygdala they cause us to have these fantasies and nightmare states, these distractions.

So the second we start to go back to priority, the blood glucose and oxygen starts going up in the forebrain and starts myelinating that air, the brain, and we can neuro plastic to do if we stick to priority. But what we do is we're subordinating and fearing rejection and holding on to fantasies as a result of that, that aren't matching what we really are committed to. And we think we know ourselves, but we don't. Getting clear about that's why I have on my website, the value determination process to get clear about what you really value. Because most people, if I ask people, how many want to be financially independent, every hand goes up. And then I say, Well, how many are financially dependent? All the hands go down. I said, you really don't have a desire for financial empowerment you think you do, you have a desire to spend money on immediate gratifying, you know, consumables that depreciate in value, that's what your life's demonstrating.

You need to face the fact about what your values are, and know what those values are, if you want to really achieve what you say you're going to achieve. So a lot of people don't really have that they say they want something, but that's not really what their life's demonstrating. I want to know what their life's demonstrating they're committed to and structure their life around that. That's what upgrades the myelinisation on the forebrain.

Lisa: Wow. And so it's not just the foods that we’re eating.

Dr John: Food’s part of it! Inflammatory responses, but a lot of the inflammatory responses are associations made in the brain on things that are supportive or challenging of your body. So if you perceive something challenging you, you'll have a kind of an anti effect on it you'll have a you know, I always say that if you've got shame and guilt or whatever you're going to literally have an autoimmune response attacking parts of your body. Your body And brain is doing that it has this capacity to do that and, and the little microglial cells are actually part of the immune system, they're actually doing that to help apotosis to destroy cells in the brain that are being used if you don't usually lose it. And if you're looking for immediate gratification, you get a quick fix, because you're unfulfilled, you'll, you're not going to spend the energy on glucose and oxygen, and blood up in the forebrain, because you don't need it. That's why you have to set the priority, fill your day with the highest priority actions on a daily basis and rebuild your brain.

Lisa: Well, and that filters down onto all of these other levels, the physical levels, the order of many systems.

Dr John: Self-image changes. your momentum starts to build up, your confidence goes up, your self worth goes up your space and time horizons expand, you automatically start walking your talk instead of limping your life and your amygdala calms down. It's myelinisation and the forebrain pick it up. Welcome to the executive.

Lisa: Welcome to the executive  the one that the adults back in the room and the kids.

Dr John: The adults are not the wild animal. Yeah, what's interesting is, is the executive function that forebrain has fibres ago to V-5, V-6 in the visual cortex and activate vision. And he goes down into the decision makings for strategic planning, and it goes to the associative motor functions to get spontaneous action. And it calms down the amygdala, the nucleus accumbens and the palate, and that calms them down and gets them ready for an inspired action.

Lisa: Wow, I'm not I'm just absolutely mind blowing and your knowledge of the brain and how that all that all works. Because this is the I mean, I've been, you know, deep in the study, obviously, with brain injuries and repair and in the short term thinking problem that we have in society in general. And in my own life, I've seen it, you know, I see, you know, when I go and do things that I don't want to be doing, because I'm looking at it out of balance state, I’m stressed for some reason, and so you go and do something that you go, ‘Why did I do this?’ You know, and it's understanding this whole interplay of the body and the mind, that is just so powerful. And for people who have diseases or autoimmune diseases, or, you know, cancers, and what is your take on how much the mind actually affects your bodily systems in given what we've just talked about?

Dr John: I wrote 1000 page text on the mind body connection, which is a, you know, what the messages of the body kind of thing. And through perception, the ratios of perception, impact through perception going into autonomics, the autonomic nervous system, if you have a perception, you've got more support and challenge your parasympathetic comes online, you get more challenges where your synthetic comes online. Yeah, those create neurotransmitter ratios, those create epigenetic impacts, because they literally cause kinase and phosphatase, responses and acetylation and methylation. Yep. And these, these are basically changing our physiology creating symptoms in our body. And most people don't take the time to look at applied physiology. I've been focusing on applied physiology since I was 23. Wow, and studying exactly what exactly is that cell? Do? Yeah. So I take a cell and I look at every receptor, and I look at every neurotransmitter and every modulator and hormone and and you know, and I look at those neuro regulators. And I look at what triggers those what parts of the brain what what autonomic component, what hypothalamus component, you know, what, what transmitters are involved in that. And I look at that, and I look at what are the symptoms that are coming out of that. And then I look at the combination of symptoms that we call a condition. And there's no doubt in my mind, there's psychology sitting inside there, no doubt in my mind, watching that and paying close attention that I wrote this big textbook on that just for that reason. And then what happens is people are so used to not wanting to take accountability for their own thing. They want to blame some outside source, and they want to look for some sort of solution, the bug and the antibiotic, right? The evil spirit and the Saviour kind of thing. And they're all dissociated, they're not taking accountability for their perception, decisions and actions in life. And I'm more about educating people on what their physiology is doing. Yeah, for instance, if a person goes in binges and pigs out which most everybody's done at least once. When they do, they wake up with kind of puffy eyes, nasal congestion, a little bit of a headache, a little nausea, stomach cramps, maybe some diarrhea the next day. Well, you go to the the allopathic physician, and he's gonna say, Well, you've got an antacid, you need. They give you six pills, and I and all your body was doing is creating the normal physiological response when you pigged out. 

Lisa: And then you're going to add all of these problems to it.

Dr John: But the thing is that those symptoms are health. That's a healthy response to a pig. If you're a pig, you're gonna get that response. Yeah, if you don't eat that way, you don't have those symptoms. So the symptoms are feedback mechanisms. guiding us to an authentic life where we have self governance. That's the mission. 

Lisa: And when we get when people get into this downward spiral of eating the wrong stuff, and then they have more cravings for the wrong stuff and you know becomes a mess. And they don't, when you don't understand the whole how the physiology works, and they don't even link together that the headache today was the headache last night. 

Dr John: They're looking for the immediate gratification pill, wherever you're at, and the pharmaceutical industry loves to make the cash. Their medical reps are out there selling it. And you know what, I it's not bad or good. It's just that if you educate yourself, and you have options, and you're aware, you now realise you have the power to make a difference in your own life. That's the last resort. I haven't had a medication in my body for 49 years. Wow. No aspirin, no drugs, nothing. I don't take anything. I drink water. I haven't needed it. I don't have a headache. The only time I ever had a headache when I was doing bark mulch one day spreading bark mulch and I then got inhaled all this dust, and I got a headache. But my body let me know that. But if you listen to your body, it's guiding you very wisely. Eat wisely and fill it with wise things. And think about how you want to feel your life. If you feel it prioritise your life and do something you really love doing with the people you love doing it and make a career doing it and get paid for it. And eat wisely to live, not live to eat. You'd be surprised what your body is capable of doing.

Lisa: Yeah, and how long it can live and how well it can live and you're living proof of that.

Dr John: I’m still cranking. When it happened to me tomorrow, but I'm still cranking it out. I still got more energy than most people and 30 year olds that can't keep up with me.

Lisa: No. In the brain power is not diminished. You know, because this is what a lot of us fear. I don't fear it because I know what to do with it.

Dr John: The purpose of losing the purpose of losing your mind with Alzheimer's is just to be able to say that I don't know my kids anymore because you want them to move out.

Lisa: That might be a good point. You got it. You got it. You gotta laugh.

Dr John:  That's a strategy to go. I don't remember my kids. No, no, no, no.

Lisa: Unfortunately, it's not. And we can see this coming 20 years out and you still talk to people on a daily basis who are facing this and their family and they don't think they have any power except the drugs.

Dr John: I was contacted by Bronnie Ware, who's out there in Australia, on the Byron Bay Area. And she wrote a beautiful book on you know, the five regrets that people have as they're getting ready to die. And most of them are because people weren't authentic. They did a job they didn't want to do with people they didn't want to do. And were afraid of people rejecting them. And their whole life was basically living and learning and excelling. And that's what that's what kills people. And then what happens? They got Monday morning blues, Wednesday, hump days, Thank-God-it's-Fridays and week friggin ends. And then they go in and they do and then blow it on some vacation to escape. And then they're in poverty. And then they're distressed and then their life went by. If you're not doing something you love doing and getting remunerated and handsomely paid doing what you love you missed out on your life.

Lisa: Yeah, absolutely. And there is nothing evil about having money. I think this is another thing that we subconsciously think people who are wealthy must be bad. They must have done it in a way. And we think that on a subconscious level.

Dr John: I've been a bad person my whole life.

Lisa: You must be terrible.

Dr John: I was 27. I'm a bad person. No, what I found is that I made a commitment that I was going to master finance just like any other field. And I, you know, I read about 1400 books on that topic. And so I'd learned how to do it. And I started to save and invest and started doing things. And then I worked my butt off, I got a little ass because I worked. Yeah, and I've been serving and serving and serving and serving seven days a week. So I have no problem doing that. And I'm a believer that, you know, if you can be a slave to money, or you can be a master of it. If you're slave to you're gonna work your whole life for it. The people that say, well, all you I don't want money, it's bad and evil. They work their whole life for it. Yeah, I want it working for me, I make more money off my investments, than I do working doing anything else. I'd rather have it working for me. And so I can then decide what philanthropic thing I can do with that. I can do a lot with that.

Lisa: This is the power of having financial independence. Not that I've got there yet. But it's been able to have a bigger impact. You've been able to do more with your life. And this is the frustrating thing that so much talent in the world and so much people with big visions and skills are limited because they didn't have the resources to do it. And that’s it.

Dr John: Are any of you like, 'You don't empower somebody to overpower you.' I made a commitment to empower. I'm working on ideas that serve people and wake up genius. Yeah, I wanted to create a new national business globally, which I've done. I wanted to be able to have financial independence, which I've achieved. I want to have a global family. My partner lives in Turkey. Yeah. Wow. Right now. She just left. Just the other day just left. She's on her way to Turkey right now flying. Yeah. And she's magnificent. She's one of the top singers, actresses and models in the world. So I mean, you can have exactly what you set your mind to do. And I'm a believer that you can have influence and you can have a vital body and you can be inspired and create an inspiring movement for people. There's nothing stopping us from doing what it is that we would really love to do, except us not willing to do the actions to get there. 

Lisa: Yeah. And getting the knowledge and getting the teachers and getting the books and getting the mentors and, and we have access to it all now. We have the damn internet. Like, why? Well, we just have access to anybody who says to me, 'Well, I can't go and how did you do that with your mother, you're not a doctor? I don't need a doctor, I don't need to be in here.'

Dr John: Mere onlining. You start digging and start researching.

Lisa: Exactly. And you can become an expert on your particular field pretty quickly. If you're really dedicated to doing that.

Dr John: I learned a long time ago when I was in my 20s that if you spend 30 minutes a day on a particular field, studying it intensely, at the end of seven years, you can be at the cutting edge. Wow. If you do an hour, no, an hour a day, you could do it in four years. If you did it two hours a day, two and a half years if you did three hours a day and do it under two years. Wow. And I did I demonstrated that in astronomy. I demonstrated that in dentistry in my field of neurology. I demonstrate I prove that. And so I'm absolutely certain you can intensify time sometimes intensity gives results.If you intensify your actions in a shorter period of time, you can get the same results quicker than most people think

Lisa: How do you retain that information? Because that was one of the problems that I've been you know dealing with I'm processing so many books, so much information, so many podcasts, so many things all the time then in a lot of it keeps falling out the other side of my I like to say it goes in on ear and comes out the other.

Dr John: I give it out as fast as I could. The sooner you give it out, the moment you get it, give it out, teach it the faster the faster output with input, the more the retention. It’s a basic law. So if I'm reading something I, I used to get up at two o'clock in the morning, do yoga up till two thirty speed read four to seven books by six thirty. I used to just read, read, read. And then I would go to jog and I go and clean up and I go to class and I go to clinic. And then I come back home at seven and I taught from 7 to 10 PM. 10 PM I went to bed and got up at two and I did it again. Wow. Each night. Each night that night, I would teach what I read that morning. And I planned out like what I was going to read I planned out my teaching. And I had classes every night people came to there and paid me. You know, while I was a student I was 23 years old made over $100,000 a year just teaching every night. And now that is a result of just the faster I get it, the faster I give it out. And that catalysed a retention and an integration of information. And so keep using it, you use it you don’t lose it.

Lisa: Don't wait till you're an expert. And you know, don't wait two years before you start teaching. Just get an idea right now.

Dr John: Teaching is the fastest way to learn it. It organises your mind and present in order to present it to you. You have an accountability, like put a deadline on it and teach it that's that's how you learned.

Lisa: Yeah. And that's forcing yourself to retain it.

Dr John: It's like saying, if you just saved money, you'll get ahead if you wait until you have extra money you won't. You never wait for you just you always pay yourself first I learned a long time ago. Don't wait until you have extra money. Just pay it. And watch how more money comes to you. When you manage money wisely you get more money to manage. That's the law. 

Lisa: Dr John Demartini, you are a legend. I've learned so much today. And in this one hour session with you. It went to places that I wasn't expecting because you know I've studied your work. I know what you do. And yet this absolutely blew me away, actually meeting you face to face to feel your energy, your passion, your compassion for humanity is just next level, it's really made my day. In fact, I'm gonna go and change some things up I think because you spoke to me with some of my frustrations that I'm dealing with in my personal life. And I know that people that are listening to this will be like putting this on repeat. So thank you so much for your dedication to, to the work that you do. I know you could just sit back and relax now and not do anything, but you haven't. And then you never will, I don't think because you just have a passion for humanity in helping with their suffering in changing people's lives. So thank you so much for doing all that.

Dr John: Thank you for but some people think I caused the suffering.

Lisa: Well, I do I agree you probably do in the short term while we're getting the change. 

Dr John: I have people they go, 'You’re going to make me accountable?'  I said, 'Yeah, you want me to punish you, I'm making you accountable. Let's go, that's the suffering.'

Lisa: You haven't done a little one pill for me?

Dr John: If you feel that your life was suffering that you love, it's inspiring

Lisa: It is absolutely. Strength comes from struggle that's on my boxing club wall. You know and that is the more you have to fight against something the more challenged you are by something the more you are forcing yourself to learn, to grow, to develop, get stronger. That is one of the roles of the world, so you better be comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

Dr John: That's it. Thank you.

Lisa: Brilliant.

That's it this week for Pushing The Limits. Be sure to rate, review, and share with your friends. And head over and visit Lisa and her team at

May 27, 2021

Have you ever tried to copy a role model before? Chances are, results didn't align with your goals. Our bodies are different on so many levels and in so many different ways. The path to optimising your body and health varies from person to person. Our health type is crucial when it comes to learning how to manage stress and building our immunity!

In this episode, Dr Cam McDonald joins us to talk about how different health types deal with the different phases of the stress model. He notes that certain classes need to focus on different stages. When building immunity, people also need to listen to their bodies' needs.

 If you want to know more about how to manage stress and build immunity based on your body type, then this episode is for you.


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Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Understand the different phases of the stress model and how to manage stress optimally based on your body type. 
  2. Learn the ways your body type responds to stress, fasting and immunity.
  3. Discover the key pillars of building a robust immune system. 




Episode Highlights

[04:39] Understand How Stress Works

  • Stress is anything that takes our body away from homeostasis. 
  • The stress cycle includes recovery so your body can learn from the experience. However, prolonged exposure to stress can cause lasting damage. 
  • Many things can be considered stress. Exercise, work, undersleeping, and relationships are examples. 
  • Resilience requires exposure to stress. Learning how to manage stress is essential to building strength. 

[09:17] The Alarm and Coping Phases

  • The first two stages of the stress model are the alarm phase and the coping phase. 
  • The Alarm Phase is when we become neurally alert and anxious to pick up helpful information. 
  • The Coping Phase is when our body adjusts to cope with the situation. This stage can mean higher blood pressure and blood sugar levels to sustain our energy. 
  • During the Coping Phase, your body focuses on giving you fuel instead of fighting infections. Hence, immunity is usually lower during this phase. 
  • Listen to the full podcast for an in-depth explanation of the two initial stages of stress.  

[16:09] The Recovery Phase Helps Make Us Stronger

  • The third phase of the stress model is the Recovery or Exhaustion Phase. 
  • This phase is a crucial part of stress. Our bodies need time to grow and learn from previous strains. 
  • Once in this phase, your body can now tackle all the viral infections. It can replenish your nervous system. 
  • This phase is why you feel tired after a long day's work. It's your body's way of telling you to relax and recover.

[19:03] Resilience and How to Manage Stress Optimally

  • Suppose you're always in the coping phase of higher blood pressure and blood sugar levels. This exposure can lead to the body shutting down completely. 
  • If you recover correctly, you can take on stress again. 
  • Resilience is about the ability to take the time to recover and learn lessons. It's not about how much you can take. 
  • Having a better mindset, awareness, and mindfulness can help improve your immune system. 

[21:16] Different Body Types Respond Differently 

  • People have different responses to stress. Naturally, the way we manage stress is also different. 
  • People are different on a physical, mental, and even behavioural level. 
  • How we develop in the womb determines which organ and hormone are dominant. 
  • For example, lean individuals tend to spend more time in phase one of stress. Their ability to handle stress is generally lower.
  • Also, the temperature is essential for this body type. Staying warm is difficult, so cold areas can raise their stress levels. 

[30:05] How Guardians or Connectors Respond to Stress

  • Guardians or Connectors tend to have more muscle mass prolactin levels. Their instinct is to protect other people. 
  • When these people are stressed, they conserve energy and store as much as possible. 
  • Guardians or Connectors usually get stressed from social disconnection.  
  • When they do morning high-intensity workouts, they can put on more weight. 
  • People who have a heavier build tend to put on weight when stressed. Hear Dr Cam's explanation on how to manage stress for this body type in the full episode!

[37:28] How Activators Respond to Stress

  • In contrast, Activators have naturally high adrenaline levels. They constantly look for uncertainty, variety, and competition. 
  • For this body type, being limited and trapped stresses them. Activators need to expel and use energy continually. 
  • Recovery is then crucial for this body type. They must keep looking for high adrenaline activities. 

[45:06] How Fasting Affects Your Body

  • People should fast depending on the body type. 
  • For leaner individuals, it's ideal to have shorter fasting periods. Guardians can handle more extended fasting periods. 
  • Activators will need to reduce their activities if they want to fast. They can instead take on more calming exercises instead of high-intensity ones.  

[48:30] Building Blocks of Immunity

  • There are three main pillars to building a robust immune system. These are sleep, environment, and movement. 
  • In general, all body types need 7 to 9 hours of sleep to recover. 
  • Next, personalise your environment according to your body type so you can heal better.
  • All body types need movement and exercise. Learning how to manage stress optimally involves knowing when and how to exercise.
  • Listen to the full episode to hear some ways activity can be different based on your body type.  

[57:16] Listen to Your Body to Learn How to Manage Stress

  • Your body is always looking out for your best interests. 
  • Listen to your body and acknowledge when it's time to rest and recover. 
  • When you start taking care of your body, your immunity will naturally improve. 


7 Powerful Quotes

‘And so if you prolong that, or put the wrong kind of stress on somebody, then it creates damage. But then the really cool thing about the stress cycle is that if you recover, then that your body learns.’


‘What happens in your resistance phase? It essentially assumes that you are being chased by something very urgently. You need to get away from like a saber-toothed tiger essentially.’


‘And one of the biggest problems just to expand this to one final timeline is that you do this for 10 years. Yeah. And your body says I need you to stop completely. And that's a heart attack.’


‘So what's so fascinating about how we develop and how we grow as individuals from the womb, and we've discussed this on previous podcasts as well, is that we have certain stresses that will be more stressful for us than for other people.’


‘And so what we know is the type of things that stress this person is cold. Firstly, if they're very, very cold, their body doesn't have the muscle or the fat tissue to stay warm. And that really drains their energy levels.’


‘So this individual, they have more hormones like prolactin, and they are more likely to be insulin resistant. They have a slightly slower thyroid as well.’


‘So those leaner, more delicate bodies will go within themselves, they'll try and be alone, so that they can create certainty, because certainty in their future creates safety for them and warmth as well.’


About Dr Cam 

Dr Cam McDonald has spent the last decade furthering his knowledge and skills to promote accessible health. He's a dietitian and exercise physiologist. He has a long-standing personal passion for health, genetics, and environmental influences. His goal is to support all people to live up to their full physical potential.

Cam has a firm focus on people becoming more aware of themselves. He wants them to know their natural strengths and optimal behaviours for the best health. He is an informed speaker who has a passion for fitness and the inspiration to do something about it.

Want to know more about Dr Cam's work? Check out his website or follow him on Instagram and Linkedin. You can also reach him through email ( or phone (0411380566).


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To pushing the limits,



Full Transcript Of The Podcast

Welcome to Pushing the Limits, the show that helps you reach your full potential. With your host Lisa Tamati, brought to you by

Lisa Tamati: Welcome back to Pushing the Limits. Today I have another super interview with Dr Cam McDonald, who you may recognise from previous episodes that we've done. Now, Cam McDonald is the ph360 CEO in Australia. And he's one of the world's leading experts in personalised health and the use of genetics and epigenetics. He really understands when it comes to individuals being able to understand the strengths of the unique biology, and how it gives them an exact pathway to better health in a way that makes it easy for them. He's a leader and educator, a scientist, motivator, and he is a crusader on a mission is what Dr Cam is. And he is a wonderful guy. 

Now today we are going to be talking about the stress response, what happens in the body when you are under stress. We're also going to be talking about how that pertains to your specific health type or your body type with your specific genetics, and how different people react in different ways to stressors, and how genetics actually makes a 50% contribution to this whole thing. We're also going to be looking at resilience and stress management and how to build a better, more resilient, stronger you. So I hope you enjoy this episode with Dr Cam McDonald. 

If after listening to this episode, you're keen to do the epigenetics program, which were steeped in and have been using for a number of years now with our athletes and with corporates and with individuals wanting high-performance people dealing with very difficult health journeys, then we'd love you to check out what we do here on over to and push the button ‘Work With Us’ and you'll see our Peak Epigenetics program here, you can either jump on a live webinar with us, we have one every couple of weeks, or just reach out to us or just sign up for the program, it will be life changing for you. It will help you optimise every aspect of your life: not only your your food, and your exercise, which everybody wants to know about and what's right for you, but also everything to do with your mood, behaviour, the brain function, what social environments you'll do well and what physical environments you do well, and we touch on some of these topics in today's episode. So head on over to, under the ‘Work With Us’ button, you'll see that there. 

Before we head over to Dr Cam, just reminder that we have our premium membership for the podcast Pushing the Limits open now, we would love you to come and join our VIP tribe. We've been going now for five and a half years with this podcast and it is an absolute labour of love. And we really need your support to keep us on air, to help us spread the information from these world leading experts to you. So if you like what the whole podcast is about, if you can spare just a few dollars a month, that's really a cup of coffee or two a month, depending on what level you want to join us at. We would really appreciate that, and for your troubles, of course we have a lot of premium member benefits for you there over on that URL. So that's patron, P-A-T-R-O-N dot 

And lastly, before I head over to Dr Cam, please check out my new longevity and anti-ageing supplement. I've co-founded a company here that is doing NMN supplements with Dr Elena Seranova, a molecular biologist. And this is a, NMN is a very powerful compound that some vitamin D, vitamin B3 sorry, derivative that helps upregulate the sirtuin genes and improve longevity and autophagy and lots of great things in the shell. So if you want to know a little bit more about the science behind the NMN and why you should have it, then please check out our website at That's N-M-N

Right, over to the show with Dr Cam McDonald. 

Hi, everybody and welcome to Pushing the Limits. Super excited to have you with me here again today. I have a repeat offender on the show Dr Cam McDonald, who's coming on for how many times is this? Number three, I think, Dr Cam? 

Dr Cam McDonald: I think yeah, it is number three. Yeah, we've done a combo, we've done a solo and now another solo.

Lisa: Yeah. Today we're going to be talking about resilience, stress and immunity, and how to personalise your protocols and your lifestyle interventions for your particular genetic type to increase your resilience and immunity. So Dr Cam, where should we start with this big topic? It's a big, it's something that everyone's talking about at the moment as immunity and lowering stress levels.B ecause when we're stressed when we got lots of stress hormones running through us all the time, which I think you and I probably both do, to a certain degree with our jobs and our lifestyle and our genetics. How do we manage that on a day to day basis? And how do we personalise that and understand that in regards to our own sort of body make-up and health types? 

Dr Cam: That's a great opening question, Lisa, that is as broad as your life. So probably, I reckon the best way that we would start with this is, is just by defining these things like stress and resilience and even immunity. So I guess stress can be defined as anything that takes our body away from homeostasis. So we're calm, we're cool, we're collected, we're lying in bed. Waking up and putting your feet on the floor actually creates a stress on our vascular system. Our blood has to start moving harder, because it's now moving against gravity, that creates a little bit of a stress that's taken us away from that resting state. And so if you prolong that, or put the wrong kind of stress on somebody, then it creates damage. But then the really cool thing about the stress cycle is that if you recover, then that, your body learns. So it goes, alright, I've got damaged here. And I'm now going to learn about that, and in my recovery, I'm going to get stronger so that that same stress, when I get exposed to it again, doesn't affect me as much. 

And so I guess some examples of stress might be, exercise is a stress. We don't think about it that way, we think what's positive exercise is positive. Yeah, but exercise is actually a stress. It makes us feel, it actually puts a demand on our body. And you will know, running your ultramarathons, that your body is not in its best health at the 90 kilometre mark. It is at its best, they'll probably before the race starts, and then your body is exposed to a prolonged period of stress. But then you do that your body then rests and recovers and you get stronger so that you can get up and do it again.

But then there's other stresses, you know, like our workload, and being underslept, and eating the wrong food, and being in relationships, that great stress. All of these things put a demand on our body and our mind. And this tells the body that there's some sort of emergency. And so in that emergency, we have to take action, we have to cope, which we can expand on. And then we have, then we get very tired and we get exhausted. And then that's when we need to recover. So for me, a stress is really anything that takes us away from that rested state. 

Lisa: Yep. 

Dr Cam: If it's short, and the right kind of thing, and then we recover, we get stronger. If it's prolonged, and there's no recovery, then it can help us deteriorate and lead to very poor health and lowers our immune system as well. And then when it comes to resilience, resilience is about being exposed to stress, but being able to handle it. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

Dr Cam: And so, when, it's different to recovery in that you're getting stronger resilience, as in you are in the stress. And generally if you have, I like to think of resilience as having resilience juice. You've got a certain amount based on your capacity to tolerate stress. And so you know, the training that you've put in, the mindset that you have, gives you more juice so than in any given stress, you can tolerate a better and push forward. And I'd have to say that resilience, or stress is essential. And so we have to have stress to grow. Therefore, we must have resilience to be able to tolerate that stress so that we can continue growing. If we run out of resilience, we don't want to expose ourselves to stress ever. But this doesn't allow us to grow then. So this is where I see those two things into playing. And then the immune system is one of those things that you can have an underactive immune system that isn't mounting a good response. Or you can have an overactive immune system, which has actually been attacking your own body, autoimmune conditions. And so we're really looking when we're talking about immune health, we're talking about that sweet spot right in the middle where we're aggressively fighting things from the outside, but protecting our own tissues and organs at the same time. So I reckon that's a place to start. We can go from there. 

Lisa: Yeah, that's, he just done, he did that so well. So I think so stress, resilience and immunity are all interlinked. And we need a certain amount of stress. And we talk about hormetic stresses, and how good they are for our bodies because they cause a cascade of events. When I hop into the sauna, it's  hot and I'm sweating, and that's causing a response in the body. I don't want to be in there for three hours, though, because that's going to kill me, probably. But a small, short, sharp shock can often be helpful in creating a hormetic stress. So what we're trying to do is avoid the chronic stressors, the sort of stuff, excuse me, that builds up over time and the stuff that's going to be negative for our mindset, and our ability to cope. 

So when we have our stress response, Dr Cam, what actually happens in the body? So—I don't know—someone cuts you off in traffic, or you get a nasty email from your boss or something like that, or you have a fight with your spouse or, what's actually going on on a physiological level?

Dr Cam: Yeah, awesome. So there's a really beautiful model that talks about the stages of stress and design by Hans Selye. And this has stood the test of time, and it's definitely the way that we need to understand stress. So we have our—it's a four-stage model, with the first stage being homeostasis, when you just chill out, like you're sitting in the car, there's no real stress, you're just driving along. What happens when you get cut off, or the boss yells at you, or says', I want to see you in’... probably the boss saying, ‘I want to see you in my office in 10 minutes in an hour, even better’. 

And so what happens in that first stage of stress is you become neurally alert. Alarm stage, it's called. Essentially, all of your senses will become more alert to say, ‘What's going on here? And what kind of information do I need to pick up from the environment to make sure that I'm going to be okay'? So you go to alarm phase, it's like, ‘What's going on? what's happening’? And so that's where we get anxious, which is worrying about the future, it's like what could possibly be coming in our future. And so that alarm stage, and another way to think about it is you're standing on the start of a 800-metre race. So you've got that, that nervous energy, the gun hasn't gone off yet, all in your brain. Yeah. So that's alarm stage one.

Alarms, sorry, and then we go into resistance stage two. Resistance stage is where we are now in the fight. We're now in the boss's office, defending ourselves. We are 500 metres through the race, where our body, it's now no longer a matter of ‘I've got to be alert to the environment', but rather, ‘I've now got to get in and fight. And I've got to cope'. And so this coping thing is something that we're doing all of the time. So, and in the, the great example, obviously, would be yourself in a long-distance run. Your body has to cope with all of the stress of continuing, when your body wants to stop. And genuinely it says, ‘I want to stop. This stress is not fun, I want to stop, please'. 

The same thing goes for your—you've had a bad night's sleep for five nights in a row. And now you've got a front up at work. And you have to cope with the tiredness. And so that coping is resistance stage two. What your body does to cope in stage one, our nervous system becomes aware in stage two, our blood pressure goes up, our blood sugar levels go up. Now, blood fats go up. Everything that's going to support energy release in the body, and making sure that we can maintain a very high level of energy, they are going to be the systems that go up. And so you know, because when you're 500 minutes to a ratio of blood pressure, if it drops, you won't have enough blood to pump around your body. 

So in order to cope, it has to keep your blood pressure up. If you're tired and underslept your body in order to cope with the workload, it needs to have a blood pressure that's going to allow you to stay awake, you need to have blood sugars that give you fuel, you need to have blood fats that give you fuel. 

And so in stress, your body breaks down muscle. 

Lisa: Can’t avoid. 

Dr Cam: And turns that into carbohydrates for your brain, and it breaks down fat tissue and turns it into fats for your body, your blood pressure goes up. And so now we have this. Essentially, if you have a 500-metre race, it would look, I haven't made the race, it would look like you have sort of diabetes and high blood pressure if you want to take a snapshot of that race.

Lisa: And I'm done that in the middle of things. And it’s like, the individual training sessions and I took, I remember taking my blood sugar. I've been fasting for 18 hours, did an interval training session, took my blood sugar and it was at 9.5 and I had a heart attack. Like, what the hell!

Dr Cam: Exactly. Hopefully you didn't have a heart attack.

Lisa: No, I don’t. 

Dr Cam: But you know, looking like a profile, your profile would have. So this is what's so important is that exercise, that under sleep, it makes your body cope. And blood pressure isn't bad, blood pressure is keeping you awake. High blood sugars aren't bad. They are providing fuel for your brain. Blood fats are bad, high triglycerides aren't bad, they are keeping your body fuelled. And so we see these things as bad things but in fact, they are our coping mechanisms. Without them we wouldn't be able to get through the day.

Lisa: Right, in the short term. 

Dr Cam: in the short term. And this is the problem is that you'll then persist with this. But before we get there, what happens in your resistance phase? It essentially assumes that you are being chased by something very urgently you need to get away from, like a sabre-toothed tiger, essentially. Yeah, and so on. Your immune system goes, ‘Well, I don't have the energy to tackle these bacteria, to mess with this virus. I just need to make sure that I can supply as much fuel down to my bones and my muscles as I can so that we can get out of here. And then I'll worry about my bacterial infections later’. 

And so while we're in this coping phase, your immune system gets suppressed, it goes down. And this is why, in some autoimmune conditions, they actually use very strong immune suppressants and reduce the immune system because the immune system, in stress, depresses. And so in coping phase, if it's really short happy days, because your body can tolerate that, that's what it's designed for. But then it's been 12 weeks of low sleep, lots of coffee, which increases your alarm stage, pushes your blood pressure up, you're working really hard so you’ve got that mental stress as well. And then, over a prolonged period of time, your body hasn't had a chance to recover. And so then you then go on holidays.

Lisa: And what happens? Yeah, you get sick.

Dr Cam: You get sick! And you think that this is your body being even more sick, we think I'm sick. So therefore my body is even worse than it was at work. But what's happened is that you've just delayed your immune system to turn on, even though your body was just as sick, probably more sick. What happens now in stage three is exhaustion phase or recovery phase.

Lisa: Right. 

Dr Cam: And so your body, in order to gain growth, like get stronger from a workout, you know, you take a muscle to temporary fatigue when you're lifting weights. And what happens? Your muscle gets exhausted, can't lift another weight, it then rests for 48 hours, and it comes back stronger. So this exhaustion phase is actually really important. But what happens when you get sick, your body, your brain, it's like, as you turn off work, your brain finally dials down that internal stress, that reason to cope. And so now you don't have to cope anymore. And so all of your recovery mechanisms now increase.

And one of the best ways for your body to recuperate as quickly as possible is to lie flat on your back for a week. So I'm gonna make you incredibly sick. I'm going to tackle all these bacterial, these viral infections. I'm going to recover your body; I'm going to try and replenish your nervous system. And I'm going to do that as quickly as possible. And so I'm going to drive a lot of symptoms that help our bodies slow down, so that you do take some rest. Because our body is speaking to us!

Lisa: ‘I’m gonna knock the crap out of you!’ 

Dr Cam: Saying, ‘Hey, you've been going too fast for too long, you need to rest and recover. I'm going to make that happen now, I'm going to make it hard for you to get up'. Your body is actually on your side. And we see this even at a day to day level where if you get tired throughout the day, so you wake up in the morning, you've got some really important stuff on, you have some coffee that puts you even more alert and coping your system. You’re then pushing hard all day long. You're on your best behaviour at work. Yeah, you then get home and your brain switches off. Yep. And you're not yet sick. But your brain is so exhausted that it switches off, at least the prefrontal cortex does. 

Lisa: Yeah, and then you become a horrible person.

Dr Cam: Your control, you become this person who hates their family, all of us don't understand why.

Lisa: Irritable, shifting. Hey, guys last night–

Dr Cam: Exactly. We all do, I think I've stepped out of a few of those myself. And so we have this short-term experience of stress, and then recovery, which is exercise. Short-term stress, recover, get stronger. Short term stress of day to day, you know, but it's probably a bit longer than what our body would like. We get stressed, we have to recover, we have to recover with rest. And if we don't get that rest, then it'll express itself through shortness, we won't have that tolerance that we had at work. Because we don't have that as much cope on, we're exhausted. Yes.

Lisa: Wow, that's just really, that’s so pertinent to what I did last night. Got very shitty, had to go for a very long walk. And because I had a hard, stressful day, and this exactly what happened, you know. I had a bit of a meltdown, and then came home and got my shit together. But I know I should do, I know I should go for a walk.

Dr Cam: Exactly, exactly. And one of the biggest problems just to expand this to one final timeline is that you do this for 10 years. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

Dr Cam: And your body says I need you to stop completely. And that's a heart attack. You know, it's like you've been coping for long enough, your blood pressure has been high enough for long enough, your cholesterol has been high enough for long enough, so much that it has created damage because there's been no recovery. So now I'm going to stop you for six months. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

Dr Cam: Because it's been so long since we stopped last time. And so the key part of this stress piece is you can expect any stress, but it's about the recovery that is most important. If you recover appropriately, you get stronger, and then you repeat that stress again. And this is where the resilience comes in is because if you see stress as a positive, even stress at work, and you have like a really tough day at work, you go, ‘Whoa! I've learned how my body responds in stress. I'm gonna learn, or I now know how to deal with that situation better’. That resilience mindset right there, that allows you to actually lean into those lessons, recover, and actually get a lesson for next time as well. 

But if you've got a mindset that this stress is killing me, then you don't fully recover, and your mind will actually create more stress on top the next time you experience the same thing as well. And so this is where that resilience base in that mindset is not just physical, is how much can you tolerate? How much can you cope physically before your body cops in? But also, how much—how you’re shaping your thoughts around this stressful experience as well. So and just having a better mindset and more presence and more awareness and more mindfulness, essentially, will actually improve your immune system, because you don't go into the same level of stress, because you've got a mindset that is able to… Yeah, exactly. 

Lisa: You can see things coming sort of thing and in trying to try to hit it off in the past sort of thing before that, because we you know, we all, I think for years and years, I hear people say, ‘Oh, stress, you know, stress is bad for you, or you're going to have a heart attack'. If you keep going at that rate, that type of talk that you hear, but you don't understand, really, the mechanisms that are at play in this game, and what's actually happening. And the situation with our lives at, presently, you know, what we've got, you know, COVID in the world, which has caused, as a society, a huge amount of stress, and uncertainty and all these sorts of things. So now is a particularly important time to work on these tools and to be able to, you know, build our resilience. 

And one of the things I wanted to mention there was that, if you're, as you know, hard charging type A personalities, got a lot of stress hormones anyway. You have, you know, when I was younger, this especially was like, just toughen up, just go harder and just deal with it. And if you're tired, work bloody harder instead of going the opposite. And that works for a certain amount of time, until it doesn't, and then you burn out. And, you know, so let's look at now, how different health types you know, because Dr Cam, as everyone knows, hopefully you listened to the podcast is the CEO of ph360. This is a genetic program that we look at the epigenetics and how your environment is affecting your life and your health. So let's look at how do, and why do, different people react differently to the same stressor? You know, why can somebody have something horrible happen to them, and get up the next day and carry on, and the other person's down for the count? You know, what were the realisation coming in?

Dr Cam: Yeah so, what's so fascinating about how we develop and how we grow as individuals from the womb, and we've discussed this on previous podcasts as well, is that we have certain stressors that will be more stressful for us than for other people. For example, you look at a sumo wrestler, right? A sumo wrestler, if they get pushed by a 60-kilogramme, 15-year-old boy, they're gonna go, ‘Oh. That's not a stress at all. In fact, it tickles a little bit'. Versus then you look at him that 15 year old boy push an infant, that's very, very different to the experience of stress. And so obviously, that's a quite an extreme example, but I wanted to make the point or even if another 60 kilos, 15 year old person, they push them, it creates a different type of stress. So physically, we're different. Mentally, we are also different as well. And behaviourally, we genetics determine over 50% of our personality, or at least 50% of our personality. And so how we respond to different things is built into our biology as well, and into our genetics. 

And so what we see is that different people will actually appear in these phases of stress differently as well. And so a person like us, so we've got, we've got Crusaders on the census in the pH360 model. Essentially, the wedges are a quick background. So how we develop in the womb determines which organs and hormones are going to be dominant in our body. Those then contribute to how our body shape and size actually develop. 

Lisa: Yep. 

Dr Cam: So we have some individuals that develop from the layer of the embryo that is more predominant in the nervous system, so the nervous system gets more fuel, the musculoskeletal system and the digestive organs, they get less fuel. And so we end up with a body that has less muscle, less fat, less bone, generally a very fine delicate structure, and hormones that make them—and our nervous system that's very heightened, and hormones that make them very heightened as well, lots of noradrenaline, dopamine. 

And so when we look at a very lean, delicate individual. When we think about how they're going to tolerate stress, if they get left out in the jungle, we know that their ability to tolerate that stress is going to be lower because they have less reserves on their body. They have not as much time before they starve because they're fat tissue and muscle tissue just isn't as great as somebody with a much more substantial body. And so these things are being determined very early on in their life. 

And so when we talk about stress for this individual, their nervous system is the thing that protects them from stress, because they don't have big, strong muscles that are gonna help them fight. They don't have a big reserve. They have a very hot nervous system. And so they spend a lot of their time in stage one stress. When they go into stress, they immediately start thinking about the future, and where is my certainty in the future coming from. So they're much more prone to be anxious in a stress, because as soon as their environment gets disrupted, they, they start processing neurally to escape. They have to think their way out of trouble. And the things that stress them...

Lisa: They can't fight their way out, so they have to use their brain.

Dr Cam: They have to make a sweet recovery station up in a tree somewhere where they're safe from predators, and set some traps because they don't want to be in hand to hand combat, like they need, really need to be strategic about it. And so what we know is the types of things that stress this person is cold. Firstly, if they're very, very cold, their body doesn't have the muscle or the fat tissue to stay warm. And that really drains their energy levels. And so temperature is huge. So if you put this person in lots of air conditioning, it actually makes them stressed. This is why we have so many people in offices, stressed by sitting in air conditioning, or while wearing three or four scarves. Because temperature is so important to be controlled, but they can't control it, they actually need external heat to control their temperature. 

We also know that their nervous system is more heightened, because the way that they protect themselves is to be in stage one most of the time. So they need to essentially be on high alert. So any noise, people doing random things. And when I say random things, lots of people around them, people are a little bit unpredictable. So their brain is alert to unpredictableness or  unpredictability I should say. And so we have cold, we have lots of noise, we have lots of people, people touching them, watch all of these things is going to overload their nervous system, which is the thing that they need to be safe. Yeah, and this creates an enormous amount of stress. As a result, this person is going to need to spend more time in the warm by themselves. And this is because that allows them to dial their senses down and come out of stage one. Because any noise, any cold is like an alert to their body saying this environment is not safe. 

And when it comes to how they can manage stress, their mind is very, very important. If they can calm their mind, and also have very, very clear dot points on what they're trying to achieve, and very clear outcomes and guidelines, that brings a whole lot of peace to their brain. Because if they're working with known rules, ‘I have my rules. And if I apply this rule, then my future is now certain. And I don't have to worry about the future anymore, because I'm following the rules'. And so everything for their body is very neural inside, how do I create certainty? How do I reduce the amount of mental alertness that I have? And you need to reduce the amount of mental stimulation. 

So this will often come along with long, slender bodies with less muscle tissue, less fat tissue. And in order for them to feel best, they need to have a very clear mind, a calm mind with a very calm environment. And so, you can see though, they would spend a lot of time in stage one constantly checking out the environment. 

Lisa: Yeah.

Dr Cam: And that itself can be very exhausting. And so if they're in an environment where they're constantly on like in a really crowded place, or in a nightclub or a festival where there's lots of people and lots of noise, it will, they'll be in cope, just trying to manage all of the nervous stimulation and they'll become exhausted quite quickly because their physical resilience is not as great. They get drained very easily because their nervous system gets tired very easily. Whereas it's very different for other people.

Lisa: So let's for the slender, slight built, not much muscle person, let's go to the opposite end of the scale and look at someone like a Guardian or a Connector, who has a lot of muscle mass, a lot more predisposition to having more adipose tissue and so on. And they've developed in the womb with a lot of energy going into the digestive system. 

Dr Cam: Yes, that's right. 

Lisa: Yeah. Can you explain the opposite end of the wheel? So what are these people going to, when is it going to be stressful for them? And how do they cope with stressors?

Dr Cam: Yeah, perfect. So this individual, they have more hormones like prolactin, and they are more likely to be insulin resistant. They have a slightly slower thyroid as well. We know subclinical hypothyroidism is very common for these individuals. These are bodies, which are much more like a sumo wrestler, they are bigger, stronger, the most amount of muscle, the most amount of fat tissue, they can accumulate it, they don't have to. They have the strongest bone structure. And essentially, all of these hormones set up, and these metabolic environment sets up for conservation of energy and to protect other people. Prolactin is actually a very protective hormone, it's I need to protect other people. And they respond very well to connection. And so when you've got a body, so the first body that we spoke about is actually quite selfish, I need to look after myself first. 

Lisa: Yep. 

Dr Cam: Versus this body, the way that it's built psychologically, and behaviourally, due to the hormones and it has in the genes that are playing out, they will be very protective and very nurturing of the people around them. Why are they able to do that? It’s because they have this capacity, they have prolactin and insulin and growth hormone, and IGF 1, all of these hormones actually help you become bigger. For any given circumstance, if this person has more fuel, they will put on more weight as a result of that same amount of fuel. They will conserve better, they will add mass better. And so when you've got this really strong body, very substantial body, you are able to protect others and not be at risk of draining your own energy levels, because you have so much more. And so what happens here is, when this person goes into stress, it's when other people look like they're in stress, the people that they care about them closely. If those people are in stress, their nurturing protective hormones fire up and go up, and they go into a worry state. And then they start worrying about everybody else. 

And so, but what's really interesting about this, evolutionarily, this body, when the community experienced stress, their body would go into conservation. Because if everybody was experiencing stress, it means the food supply was about to run short, or we're about to go to war, or about to move camp, and we're not certain about our food supply. So the way that I'm going to manage this is I'm going to gain as much weight as possible, so that when the famine does come, I'm going to be able to support everyone and not have to wait. So it becomes this incredible famine protection. 

And so what we see when this person goes into stress, they want the opposite. They conserve energy, they actually go into exhaustion phase, they rest and recover more, they eat more food, which puts them into rest and recovery. They do less exercise, because if they use energy when they're stressed, they think, oh but what is everybody else going to have. And so their body instead of going into hyper-alertness and hyperactivity, and use all of your energy to think this through, this body actually goes into laziness, into cravings of food. 

And often the stresses that are created, it's not the temperature, this person is very well-insulated. It's not the nervous system, because this body can really tolerate a lot of physical stress, stress and strain, and mental strain, for that matter. It is disconnection from the family. If they feel disconnected from the people that they’re close, if they see stress in their family, they will feel like the community is threatened. And that will create stress for them. If they're eating very high sugar foods in fact, it represents a stressful result all if my blood sugars are high, then I must be stressed and therefore I need to conserve more. And so the body is able, so that actually creates a stress as well. Doing very, very high intensity exercise in the morning can be a stress for them. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

Dr Cam: Because this is when prolactin levels are highest when nurturing is going to be most well executed by this person. I guess you wake up in the morning and you nurture the people around you. If you're out there burning all of this very high intensity energy. It actually sends the stress levels, the cortisol levels higher, which is a coping hormone. Yeah, that's stage two. And then this person—they will actually experience a higher level of cortisol for the next few hours, which then makes them insulin resistant and helps them store weight. It's like, ‘I’m spending all my energy and running around in the morning, then there must be something wrong with my family because I'm not looking after them’. 

Lisa: And so he put on weight when they do high intensity. 

Dr Cam: And it's so fascinating. We'll notice we have people all the time who do 12 weeks of a boot camp first thing in the morning, exactly what they're told, and they don't lose weight, or they gain a little bit of weight. 

Lisa: Yep. 

Dr Cam: And so this person gets stressed from that social disconnection, first and foremost. And then they can actually live faster to quite well, they're very, very good at it. But when they do get stressed, instead of going into stage one, and more alertness, they don't have to be alert, because they've got resilience. They go into late stage two, they go on to cope. But they also crave, and they use less energy, and they conserve. And so without late stage two and stage three is where they enter into the stress cycle. It's, they don't go through this big worry of the future. They go more into reflecting on the past and feeling down, and their energy levels come down as well, which is the recovery state. 

And this is why they're able to gain and grow. Because in recovery, you grow and you gain. In stress you spend and you wither. But as these guys grow and gain in stress, and that's because they enter the stress stages at a different place. 

Lisa: And they so that's why for the slighter build person actually will lose weight when they're under stress and... 

Dr Cam: And bone. Osteoporosis is... Exactly, yes.

Lisa: And the heavier person will actually put on weight when they're under stress, because the same stress hormones, but they come in in different stages, and for different reasons in that person's life. And so the person who's of a heavier build and a heavier bone structure, they are going to be craving more of those bad foods when they're in a stressed out site. So they'll be searching out for the, you know, the deep fried. Because from an evolutionary perspective, that's what's happening, isn't it? We’re driven to find those high caloric, high GI foods, which were very scarce back in the day, and unfortunately, they're not so scarce now. And so that becomes a real problem for this group of people. 

Dr Cam: Yes. 

Lisa: And then let's look at the third one. The mesomorphs. I’m sort of, I'm a little bit of mesomorph, a little bit ectomorph. But more muscular, high intensity people who do well under that. What's happening in their bodies?

Dr Cam: Yeah, cool. So just to give a bit of a summary right now, essentially, what we've got is different bodies in stress will go towards their safe zone. So those leaner, more delicate bodies will go within themselves, they'll try and be alone, so that they can create certainty. Because certainty in their future creates safety for them, and warmth as well. Versus and so they will crave to provide warmth, they'll go for warm foods, and for high sugar foods that supply their nervous system. Versus the Guardian will go towards safety in, the heavier that I am, the safer my community is. Because I'll be able to protect them for longer. And so if I go for these low end, like if I don't do much exercise, and if I eat lots of food, the brain will actually motivate them to do exercise and eat lots of food. That then creates weight, weight creates stability, stability, creates safety for the community. 

And so when we go to the activator, the activator is that the pure, the body that's developed predominantly with their muscular skeletal system, their adrenal glands are very, and their sex organs are developed. And so they are higher in adrenaline. And it's very sensitive to testosterone. And this makes them, when they are thinking about their best form, it’s uncertainty, is high adrenaline, which makes them feel good also, a competition, and winning. Variety also creates uncertainty as well. 

So this body is searching for variety, uncertainty, competition, a bit of risk in order to feel normal, which is very different to the other bodies as well. And so with the things that create stress for them, is the feeling of being trapped. The feeling of being limited, because they like to break out, they like to be free, they like to be in charge. And they don't like to be told what to do. They don't like rules. So anytime that there's a rule in place, they'll be irritated by that look to break it out. And they have to, they have because I have this big adrenal outflow, they get all of this energy just generate very, very quickly and it must come out. And so the thing that creates stress for them is when that energy can't get out, so why don't have someone that I can express with. Or I can't move my body. Movement is actually the way that they can use a lot of this energy as well, because their musculoskeletal system is all tied into their dominant development. 

And so when we're talking about this body in stress, it actually kind of likes a bit of stress, because adrenaline is there. And winning is kind of stressful as well, the thing that's going to create problems for them is that if they can't step into this space, they can't step into competition, they can't step into a bit of risk, they are told exactly what to do. They also have more oxidative stress as well, when they do things. They do things at high intensity. And so the body that gets developed out of this is shorter, more muscular than typical. If you look at the top 10 crossfitters on the planet, particularly in the guys, that's a really good depiction of a shorter, muscular, fiery, short and... Exactly. That body is exactly what we're talking about right here. Love a bit of challenge, love a bit of competition, CrossFit is made for this environment, made for this body. 

And so what we need to do for this body is not stop it from experiencing stress, because it actually will move towards that in order to get its adrenaline, we actually need to make sure that it recovers appropriately. And so what happens for this body is like it'll be walking around in their day. And they'll say, ‘Oh, hey, we've got this new thing over here, do you want to do that'? They go, ‘Yes, I'm gonna do that'. And then they're at work, and they got all these new projects. ‘Oh, yes, I'll be part of that. Yes, I'll be part of that'. Because their adrenaline is– 

Lisa: It’s starting things. 

Dr Cam: …’I’m gonna do this, I love this!’ Exactly. So they go high intensity into action, because they've now got so many things stacked up, and they're happy to drop one thing and then move straight to the next. That means that they never get a break from their adrenaline. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

Dr Cam: And so when that happens, they get more oxidative stress, their joints start getting very sore, they get pent up and frustrated, and they can just become quite exhausted. And so they enter into stage two with their stress response. So they don't, they don't think about the stress, they don't think about worry, and what's going to happen in the future, they don't go through that alarm phase, they go straight into fight, like I'm going to cope with this, I'm going to get into a fight, I'm just going to take action. And so immediately, they go from doing nothing to doing everything very, very quickly, very high intensity change. 

And so when that happens, they need to expel their energy. And they, the way that they can expel their energy is by verbalising it and just talking it out. And they've got to have someone who doesn't argue back. And I'm at fault with this many times with my partner, she's an activator, and to express and I want to just sit there and listen like I should, but rather I fight back. But this, essentially, these bodies generally, they need to expel energy. It can be verbal, but the best is physical exertion. If they do really high intensity physical exercise, it will make them feel a whole lot better. But it only goes for 20 to 30 minutes, and then they have to stop. Then they have to stop completely and turn their adrenals off. And one way that you can do that is by lying on your back for 15 minutes, which actually turns off the outflow of ACTH, which is your adrenocorticotropic hormone. It's the one that comes from your brainstem. It says, ‘You should release adrenaline'. 

And so if you lie flat on your back, it allows this body to fully recover. So this body is going to naturally step into stress, it's actually a timebase, is to be in a bit of stress. But what they miss out on is recovery spending time with fun people, calm people. Spending time light, like just absolutely resting, stopping throughout the day, and just allowing their body to calm down. That's actually what this body needs. 

And so when we're talking about managing stress, the first thing we need to do for this body is not make sure that everyone's okay like and make sure their social circles, okay, it's not make sure you've got all the rules and the processes of time alone, while you have for the other couple of bodies. Now for this body, we need to make sure that they exert their energy and then eat regularly. So because what eating does is it puts them into a stage three of recovery. And so if they're eating six meals per day, they're putting themselves into many recovery sessions throughout the day because their body has to digest. And what happens to this body when they don't eat is they get very hangry. This is the hangriest body. And so we have this situation where they're acting frustrated or intolerant. And it's not because they're not a good person. It's because they haven’t eaten. And if they eat, then all of a sudden they feel so much better. And they deal with things in such a different way. The same thing goes after exercise. And so we have very, very different strategies. We've only spoken about three type generals, where there are six and then everybody's individual within that. But these give you the major, major types of variations that you see based on how we develop and how our genes work.

Lisa: Just a quick question on that, and the activator, on the mesomorph ther. In regards to autophagy, because we—I think we briefly talked on this last week, but I did a whole session on autophagy with Dr Seranova. And, you know, intermittent fasting is a big thing. But how do we—how does an activator do it then? If they want to get the benefits of autophagy, but they can't go without food for long periods of time when they need six meals a day, which is the opposite of what you would advise for someone on the endomorph side of the wheel? 

Dr Cam: Yeah. 

Lisa: How are we getting—do autophagy going without causing the hangries? And without...

Dr Cam: Yeah, great question. So the first thing and I guess you can apply this question to all of the groups, like the longest, leanest group are going to do the least well with lots of fasting because they've got a metabolism that just needs lots of fuel to stay up and about. And if you make them fast, for too long, they actually get very, very tired, which is a little bit destructive. The, but short fasts, no problem, you know, like a meal or a day. 

But generally, it's still providing some carbohydrates is going to be important throughout their day. But they can get away with it. But it's just going to be for a shorter period of time. The more substantial body can deal with fasting for extended periods of time. And so their body is actually set up to benefit significantly from fasting. Yeah, the third version that we've spoken about the high intensity, high oxidative stress type individual, if they are going to be engaging in using lower food intake or fasting to stimulate autophagy, then they want to be reducing their activity at the same time. And they want to be practising some really calming activities, because they need to make sure that they can dispel the energy or not dispel the energy through like a calm activity, as opposed to relying on the high intensity activity or not be stressed in the first place. 

So they need to get themselves into a very calm place, environment, with less competition with less things that they can say yes to, with things that allow them to essentially not use their adrenaline energy to jump into things. They need to kind of create a fairly blank environment so that they don't get stimulated by things so that they don't have this requirement for extra energy. So that's essentially we just need to consider the other components to it. 

Lisa: Yeah, that really sort of puts it into picture because you want the autophagy you want the cleaning out of the broken proteins and the stuff that you know, that makes us live longer when we do that on a regular basis. And you know, stopping in tour and upregulating your ANPK and all of that sort of stuff. But I was still a bit of a mystery in my head. But how do I do that when I'm an activator, activator Crusader, I'm on that cusp. So for you know, I get it that people on the Guardian side, they can go without. But for me, you know, that's always been. So if I'm going to do a fast, I need to make sure that I'm in a really non-stressed out situation and calm, which doesn't happen very often. Let's move now just briefly, we will wrap it up shortly. But immunity, we're in, in relation to all of this stress responses and so on. What's happening on a biochemistry level when, when we're under the stress in, right now with COVID. And all the other winter coming down here in the Southern Hemisphere, we don't want to get sick, we want to make sure our immune system’s on fire. What can we do to improve our immune system in regards to these different body types?

Dr cam: Yeah, perfect. So, and the most important thing here is in order for our immune system to come on, then we have to get into stage three and homeostasis. That may—the stages that we need to be in in order to stimulate our immune system. And so what that means, we have to put ourselves into recovery. And so one of the most profound things that we can do straightaway where all of, most of our recovery happens from the day, our mental recovery and our physical recovery is sleep. We need to make sure that we get enough sleep. There are different things that create sleep for different people. But seven to nine hours is recommended for everybody. And it's very, very important that we get that sleep to stop it. So that's the first piece. 

The second piece then is every part of our environment is creating stress. And so we need to make sure that we understand what's happening in the environment and how that's going to affect different people so that we can recover from that stress appropriately. And so if we were to go to the three groups once again, and I'll just preface this by saying that every single person's journey to an improved immune system is actually fully personalised. And it needs to be tailored specifically to you. And this is something obviously—that we work with you on Lisa with ph360, we got personalised immune protocols that actually allow you to do that and get all of this stuff that I'm about to address in principle, but for you specifically. 

So we have—if we were talking about the donor, reverse, or from last time, we talked about the activator, and the activator connectors versus a bit of Crusader in there too, that top left of the circle. Essentially, we're going to be looking at what are the things that remind—bring safety to this body movement will support that. So if we do exercise, a high intensity exercise for this individual, and then we have full recovery, what we know from one bout of exercise, you can get increased immunosurveillance, that is your immune system is now more alert to the environment, rather than waiting for bacteria and virus and ready to pounce on them stronger. 

We also know that if you're exercising regularly for eight to 12 weeks, you will see less chance of getting an infection, less chance or lower amounts of severity and lower amounts of time sick. So just being physically fitter, has a profound effect on that. However, if you're a Guardian or a Diplomat, and you're doing high intensity exercise in the morning, it actually adds to your stress load. Yeah, so but if you do it in the afternoon, then that's going to really improve your immune function and your recovery throughout the night. So exercise is a stress, it is a particularly potent way of enhancing your immune system. And the same goes to sleep as well. Sleep, just one poor night's sleep can ruin 70% of your immune response. And so having enough sleep, really important. Making sure that you're moving in a way that's appropriate for your body at the right time, very important. 

And it's even more important for the activators. Because they're their body is so requiring the release of that pent up stress. Then when we start talking about, if we start talking about guardians, then just to talk about a couple of different sort of topics, the Guardians and the diplomats or even the Guardian, specifically here, they need a really connected social environment. And if they're experiencing a lot of stress socially, like they're isolated from their family, they disconnected from the people that they really believe are very close. Or if there's a lot of infighting and arguments and all that sort of stuff in the family home while they're in lockdown, for example, yeah, that social stress is going to create a whole lot of stress for this individual, put them into cope and then downregulate their immune system. 

And you'll know this as well is that if you're in a, you know, stressful work, relationship or social relationship, you don't feel at your best and your immune system is actually being decreased with time. But it's even more for the guardians and the connectors key. And we have, you know, that the senses and the Crusaders, they're very neural in the way that they stress. And so body type. Yeah, exactly the lot of bodies often more delicate. And so some movement is going to be great. But ultimately, sleep is going to be important. Social is not going to be as important for this individual, what's going to be really important is that they can actually calm their nervous system to bring them out of stage one stress, if they're doing meditation regularly, if they're going for slow jobs, either have an evening or have a morning, or they're doing stretches and yoga, that actually calms the nervous system very well, which then takes them out of stress one at stage one and stage two, which allows their immune system to come back on. And so we have these different priorities. We've got, you know, movement for the more mesomorphic bodies, we've got social connectedness, movements also going to be very important here too, as is food. 

And then we have the neural calmness and environmental calmness of warmth is going to be very important, but then we get into food, food, you know, it has all of these incredible little compounds that specifically drive your immune system to pick up or push down or to be able to, melylike, you need enough protein to build your immune system. Generally, you need, you need your you know, the right fats to control inflammation, you need the antioxidants to help reduce some of the damage that's going on when we're finding all of these bugs from the oxidative stress. And so activators are going to need lots and lots of antioxidants for that reason because they experienced more oxidative stress. 

Guardians are going to be better served to do some fasting and the fasting will really support them in bringing their blood sugar levels down, helping them go into recovery, really supporting their digestive system, controlling their blood pressure in many cases as well versus—and so, versus the the sensors and Crusaders are going to actually need a bit of carbohydrate. I’m going because the carbohydrates provide mental calm for them. Because if they don't have carbohydrates, their brain can go into a stress state to provide fuel breaking down protein turning into carbohydrates, with lots of cortisol. And so the compounds that you need specifically are individual. But we have these general principles that govern what different people need. And this is why, if you know, you say ‘I'm going to improve our immune system through this generic program, right here’, there's a very good chance, it's not going to be appropriate for you. And so you really need to understand what your body needs so that you can get the best benefit. 

And most people will benefit from low calorie intake for a few days, at least, you know, activators, any five days of no protein, no fats, fats versus guardians will actually do very well on broth only, fluids only, non-caloric fluids only for 10 days. Whereas the diplomat will need 10 days of just fruits and vegetables, but very little protein, very little fat as well. So there's a different protocol for different individuals. But the lower calorie really helps to reset the immune system in many ways. And there's been some lovely research by Professor Longo on that stuff around fasting and how it stimulates stem cell production of your immune cells. 

So if you're taking care of the whole body, you're understanding, you know, what kind of environment you need to be, what kind of movement is going to be appropriate, what kind of social environment is essential, then you put the right types of foods in as well, you're going to see a whole system wide increase in your immune system. And then the studies that we ran last year, we looked at very detailed immune markers. And we saw significant change applying the protocols that are found in pH 360. We show significant change in the immune aggressivity and readiness in 10 days. So you can really change these markers very, very quickly. And really, the only thing that we have is a strong immune system. That's that's the thing. That's what vaccines lean on as well. Yeah. It leans on your ability as a non response. Yeah. And this is why vaccines are effective as effective in some individuals with suppressed immunity. So we definitely, we need a strong immune system, irrespective of what path you take with this. 

Lisa: Yes, absolutely. And that's just so important right now, and to understand the nuance between the different types of detoxes, and the different types of ways of dealing with the different body types is just so, so crucial. And autophagy and cleaning out, and it's like taking out the garbage regularly. I can put in all my antioxidants and all my good vitamins and all my good nutrients. But if I'm not taking the garbage out on a regular basis, and doing that appropriately for my body type, and then you know, you're going to have suboptimal performance and suboptimal immune system. And yes, so stress, resilience, immunity, huge pieces of this giant puzzle that we're all trying to put together. And we're very complex. It's not, it's not easy, it's not easy. But giving this framework to the whole thing with the different body types. I've never seen this in any other system that that I have learned and or researched or read about where it's actually personalised, you know. 

And that's why I think it's so powerful, because you can read a book on fasting and go, Well, I'm going to do that. But you need to know how to do it best for your body. And that's, you know, and how to detox for your body, and how to do all this. Dr Cam you’ve been brilliant today, again, as usual, a mine of information, and just brilliance. So thank you very much for jumping on again, I really appreciate your time, and the work that you do. And if anybody wants help with understanding what health type you have understanding this specifically to you, then that's what we do, please reach out to us. I'll have all the links in the show notes. But just head on over to, hit the ‘Work With Us’ button, you'll see our peak epigenetics program. And this is the sort of people that we're working with Dr Cam, the CEO of ph 360, in Australia, and he's one of our great teachers. And this program is really, really beneficial for people who are wanting to optimise the genes, not just for stress and immunity and resilience, but also an optimal performance in every area of your life. 

So thanks very much, Dr Cam, anything to add today before we hop off?

Dr Cam: Yeah, I will say one thing and that is your body is always on your side. Som and the thing that we think is that our body is fighting us or not cooperating with us or essentially our response to stress, whatever we think in our brain doesn't really matter what's going on in our body. And the information we take from that is very, very Very important. So when your body is genuinely tired, it's saying, ‘Hey, I don't have quite as much energy as what this activity requires, I need rest’, it's actually speaking to you and saying, ‘I need rest’, I'm saying, ‘Oh, my body sucks, I'm going to get better at not being tired’. Yeah, and I'm just going to have more coffee'. Your body is not deficient in caffeine, it's, it's actually deficient in the appropriate recovery for it. 

And the biggest realisation that I had is that your body is always trying to do the best for you. And if you start listening, you'll find that that stress-recovery cycle is far easier to manage. And we didn't even get into resilience, which I'd love to talk about another time. Yeah, know how—when you're in that state of that balance between stress and recovery, you are able to mount an attack on anything that you want, from a very, very strong place. And so the—know that your body is always, always on your side, start listening to it more. Because you'll start getting keys into when you need rest, when you can push. There's a bunch of things that you can do around that. But I just want to really get you to start listening a lot more, because that's where this can, this can all start. 

Lisa: And I think you know, especially for some of the audience, who are athletes and hard charges, and people that you know, go go go, it's all very well and good. But just remember, you still made of flesh and blood. And you need to respect the biology. And there are times when we can push outside the norms and do crazy things and amazing things. But then afterwards, you need to go into that recovery phase, and you're not bulletproof like you think you are. And there was one a good analogy, you know. Your body will give you a little tap on the head saying, ‘Hey, I need a raise, or I need something from you, and if you ignore it', then it will be a real hit on the shoulder, ‘Hey, I need a rest'. And next time it will be a mech truck that comes in flattened shoe. And it will be something major. And we don't want that. So listen to the little tests. Before you have to get a mech track to put you on your back.

Dr Cam: Absolutely. Just being a little bit fatigued after two hours of work is a little whisper in your ear. It's Yeah, very, very good to listen at that point. Absolutely.

Lisa: Yeah. And I'm going to do that just now go and go out for a walk in nature for 15 minutes and digest this wonderful information that you've given us today. So thank you, Dr Cam, really appreciate it.

Dr Cam: Thanks for having me on. It's great to be able to talk about this stuff.

Lisa: Well, I hope you enjoyed that episode with Dr Cam McDonald. He really is a mine of information. He is brilliant at the way he brings things across. He does it far better than I ever could. So I hope you enjoyed that session. If you're interested in doing the epigenetics program, we will discuss everything and learn everything about your specific set of genes and how they can be optimised through the right lifestyle interventions, the right diet, the right exercise, and everything that we've just talked about in this interview, then please head on over to Hit the ‘Work With Us button and you'll see our Peak Epigenetics program. Go over there, check it out. If you've got any questions, please reach out to our Happy to jump on a call with you want me, or one of my colleagues can jump on a call, explain more about what it's all about and how it all works. So make sure you do that. 

And thanks very much for listening again, we really do appreciate your time and attention. We don't take it for granted. And we love you. Thank you very much for all the help you've given this podcast.

That's it this week for Pushing the Limits. Be sure to rate, review, and share with your friends and head over and visit Lisa and her team at

May 20, 2021

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Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Understand that the function of mitochondria is not only to produce energy but also to enhance cell growth and healing.
  2. Learn about the effect of butyrate and antibiotics on the mitochondria, as well as the diet and activities to boost mitochondrial performance.
  3. Find out more about the function of the mitochondria in regulating stress, blood glucose and ageing.




Episode Highlights

[06:33] What Is the Mitochondria?

  • The mitochondria are bacteria classified as anaerobic organisms.
  • Humans have a symbiotic relationship with the mitochondria. With their help, we can survive outside water and air.
  • Mitochondria also have their own genome. You inherit them from your mother. 
  • The communication between the nucleus and the mitochondria is imperative to our health.

[11:00] The Function of Mitochondria

  • In theories of ageing, mitochondria produce free radicals damageing our DNA.
  • The mitochondria release mitochondrial peptides when activated by oxidative stress.
  • These mitochondrial peptides are messages sent to the nucleus to signal it to heal your body.
  • When the mitochondria are stressed, it also activates the unfolded protein response (UPR). The UPR either gets rid of bad protein through autophagy or fixes them.
  • Tune in for more details about how the mitochondria initiate growth and healing.

[17:05] Damage in the Cells

  • The body tries to get rid of dysfunctional proteins. 
  • You need to be careful of the amount of antioxidants you take. Taking too much may inhibit your body's response to bad proteins. 
  • You should take your body through a cycle. 
  • You go through an autophagy phase where you clear out the bad cells.   
  • Then, you go through the growth phase, where you induce more toxic stress. In doing so, you can initiate growth and healing. 

[19:32] Mitochondria Permeability Transition Pore (MPTP)

  • This pore is a gate that opens and closes the mitochondria.
  • As you grow old or when you are in worse health, it stays open longer. Then, it allows bad stuff to go in and out more often.
  • Melatonin keeps the pores closed most of the time.
  • Spermidine also induces mitochondrial biogenesis by restoring this pore structure.
  • Antibiotics like minocycline may have some very significant benefits to your cell health.

[23:14] The Effects of Butyrate on the Gut Microbiome

  • Your microbiome is most affected by butyrate.
  • To consume antibiotics and probiotics, you first have to keep butyrate in your microbiome.
  • Higher levels of butyrate may also help the cell, specifically the mitochondria. It improves aerobic metabolism.
  • High butyrate also regulates your PGC-1α gene to improve your aerobic endurance.
  • Sick people usually replenish butyrate by doing rectal suppositories. To know more about the full effects of butyrate, listen to the full episode.

[32:33] Relationship Between the Function of Mitochondria and Gut Microbiome

  • Butyrate increased the PGC-1α and NPK in the mitochondrial level. 
  • As a result, your oxidative capacity is restored, and the mitochondria become healthier.
  • After inducing autophagy and getting rid of the bad stuff, Dr Yurth restricts the food consumption of her patients. Then, she will use spermidine at a higher dose.
  • At this stage, the mitochondrial peptides released will induce the nucleus to have a healthier genome.

[36:57] The Effects of Melatonin

  • Melatonin also affects the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (MPTP). 
  • Interleukin-1 beta (IL1β) causes damage to mitochondria. High dose melatonin blocks IL1β.
  • Melatonin also creates a homeostatic reaction in the mitochondria. It’s therefore anti-cancer. 
  • High dose melatonin also restores your circadian rhythm. When you should take it depends on your genes. 
  • 20 mg is a high dose of melatonin. This dosage is for people with cancer. 

[42:18] The Importance of Mitochondrial Peptides

  • Mitochondrial peptides like the SS-31 helps the endoplasmic reticulum to be healthy. 
  • Exercise helps induce mitochondrial peptides. 
  • MOTS-c as a drug is an alternative for people who can’t exercise. 
  • You can also produce MOTS-c when you exercise. 
  • MOTS-c helps with glucose metabolism, fat loss, turning white fat to brown fat, and overall metabolism.

[44:44] Why Brown Adipose Tissue Is Metabolically Active

  • When babies are born, they need something to keep them warm. Brown adipose tissue is functional for heat production and burns calories.
  • White fatty tissues are more common as you get older. It only coats your organs and provides little benefits.
  • Butyrate can convert white fat to brown fat, which can help you boost your metabolism.
  • Fat is also metabolically active. Men who are fatter convert their testosterone into estrogen.
  • Dr Yurth emphasises that a good diet and quality exercise is worthless without looking at hormones. Listen more to learn about how hormones affect your metabolism.

[54:20] Regulating Blood Sugar

  • As your blood glucose rises, you will feel temporary stress which is good for you. However, long-term high levels of glucose in your blood are damageing.
  • Dr Yurth mentioned the benefits of continuous glucose monitoring (CGM).
  • Go for a walk after a meal to regulate spikes in your sugar levels.
  • Chromium and cinnamon help maintain blood glucose. However, the positive effects rely on genetics.
  • A recent study revealed that eating protein before carbohydrates shows a lower blood glucose and insulin level.

[1:00:36] Enzymes and Breaking Down Proteins

  • Evidence shows that the dysfunction of the metabolic process starts in bile acids.
  • In treating neuromuscular weakness or building muscle, you should focus on your digestive enzymes. Integrate mass proteases and lipases into your meals.
  • Dr Yurth reiterates the importance of keeping your gut microbiome healthy through consuming butyrate. 
  • Good bacteria such as probiotics, which are anaerobes, will not survive the colon site.
  • If you don’t have a healthy gut lining, your immune system will see probiotics as foreign materials. This can cause a histamine response.


7 Powerful Quotes from the Episode

‘I'm gonna make the case that actually every single disease, from cancer, to cardiovascular disease, everything related to ageing, osteoporosis, everything comes down to mitochondrial dysfunction.’

‘I’m just a big advocate with diet, and with exercise, with everything, everything's done cyclically. Because we want to go through phases all the time where we're getting rid of bad stuff and then regrowing.’

‘We’re able to use the butyrate for fatty acid oxidation and actually improve aerobic metabolism.’

’As you're learning, the gut is everything. And now we're learning it may even be imperative to the mitochondria.’

‘I think what it's going to come down to when we look at this mitochondria, it's not going to be trying to figure out what is my perfect dose of antioxidants. It's gonna be figuring out how do I get that mitochondria with the pores, letting the good stuff in and letting the bad stuff out?’

‘What it's really trying to get across is just, you know, sensible stuff, we just did a thing you know, about just taking a walk after dinner, right?’

‘That little bit of stress, like I said, what you know, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.’


About Dr Elizabeth Yurth

Elizabeth Yurth, MD, is the Medical Director and co-founder of the Boulder Longevity Institute. This institute was established in 2006. Dr Yurth is double board-certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Anti-Ageing/Regenerative Medicine.

She also has a Stanford-affiliated Fellowship in Sports and Spine Medicine. Here, Dr Yurth specialises in Sports, Spine, and Regenerative Medicine. Additionally, she also has a dual-Fellowship in Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine (FAARM) and Anti-Aging, Regenerative and Functional Medicine (FAARFM) through the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M).

Dr Yurth serves as a faculty member in SSRP (Seeds Scientific Research and Performance) with 25 mastermind physician fellows. Here, she allows herself to stay abreast and teach others in the emerging field of cellular medicine.

An active athlete herself, Dr Yurth has worked with numerous sports teams at both the collegiate and professional levels. At present, she works as a consultant for high-level athletes from across the country. She aims to aid them in recovery and optimise performance.

Dr Yurth resides in Boulder, Colorado, with her husband and five children.

To know more about Dr Yurth’s work, visit Boulder Longevity Institute and connect with her on Instagram


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Post a review and share it! If you enjoyed tuning in, then leave us a review. You can also share this with your family and friends so they can learn more about mitochondrial health and include butyrate in their diets.

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To pushing the limits,



Full Transcript Of The Podcast

Welcome to Pushing The Limits, the show that helps you reach your full potential with your host, Lisa Tamati, brought to you by

Lisa Tamati: Lisa Tamati your host here at Pushing The Limits. Super excited that you're here with me again today. Thanks for tuning in. I do love and appreciate your loyalty. And I would love to hear from you. If you've got something to say about the podcast, you’ve got some comments and questions about some of the topics that we have raised, please do reach out to us. We love hearing from our listeners. And if you can give us a rating and review if you're enjoying the content, that really really helps the show. 

We've also got our Patron VIP premium membership now open. If you love our show, if you love what we do, what we stand for our values, our principles, the work that we put into this podcast, which we've been doing now for five and a half years, without any money or any—just for the love of it and for the passion of it. If you want to help support us and keep us going and want to get a whole lot of premium membership benefits, then head over to I would love you to join our VIP tribe. That's For the price of about a coffee a day or a little bit more, you can be involved. There's two tiers in there, with different levels of premium member benefits. And we would love you to join us there. So if you can please do. 

Now today's superstar is Dr Elizabeth Yurth. And if you follow the podcast, you might have remember that name because she was on just a few weeks ago. And she is now one of my favorite teachers. I have been learning from her at the Bone Longevity Institute of Human Optimization Academy. And she is a brilliant teacher, and a brilliant orthopaedic surgeon and longevity expert. And she offers the world's most advanced research-based health care. And it's all customised to you. And the information that we're going to share with you today—today's topic if you like, is all around mitochondrial health. Now we do deviate a little bit because as we do in these conversations, we go off on a few tangents. But it is really all about understanding what your mitochondria are, why you need to know about it, how to keep them healthy, because these little bacteria if you like, and these little powerhouses of our cells are absolutely crucial to health and longevity. 

And Dr Yurth says that the mitochondria, she thinks, are at the very basis of all diseases. So when these little guys go awry, that's when diseases come into play. And everything from cancer, chronic fatigue, to all of the diseases right across the spectrum can be affected by mitochondrial health. So we do a bit of a deep dive into that today. So I hope you enjoy this session with Dr Elizabeth Yurth. She's a lady who walks the talk. She's an incredibly amazing person, athlete, orthopaedic surgeon. She loves this. She breathes it the way she loves, as you know, in complete alignment with what she also teaches, so make sure you check out all her links in the show notes. Right. 

Now before we go over to the show. Just want to also let you know about our NMN, our supplements. They’re longevity and anti-ageing supplement. We are into longevity. We are into health span. We are into increasing our lifespan and healthspan. So if you want to get into having—to boosting your NAD levels in your body, we've recently done a couple of episodes with Dr Elena Seranova on this topic, then head over to And grab your NMN supplements over there to get your longevity regime underway. 

And in today's podcast, we talk a little bit about this. We talk also about spermidine, which we've also mentioned in other podcasts. There are some amazing compounds out there that are going to help us stay healthier and longer. And there's a lot of techniques and things that we can actually engage in. We don't have to be passive bystanders to our ageing, we can do things about it, we can slow it down, and even reverse it in some places. So I hope you enjoy this episode. So do check out my Longevity Supplement over at And enjoy today's show with Dr Elizabeth Yurth. 

Lisa: Well, hi everyone and welcome back to Pushing The Limits. Super excited to have another wonderful guest that we've actually had on before and back by popular demand. That was a very, very popular episode. So I have Dr Elizabeth Yurth with me. Hi, Dr Yurth, how are you doing?

Dr Elizabeth Yurth: Lisa, thank you for having me again. I love being with you. 

Lisa: Oh, it's just that, our last episode was just so full of information that I've had it on repeat going, for me, because there's so much in there and so many people have written and have been asking questions. So I want to get started by saying if after this interview, you want to talk to Dr Yurth and one of her team at the Border Longevity Institute, you can do that even when you're in New Zealand or Australia, you can do teleconsults. And yeah, so if you are facing some difficult health problem, and you really want some help, make sure you do that. And we'll have all the links in the show notes and so on. And before we get underway, there is a Bold Longevity of—what is it called, optimisation? 

Dr Yurth: Human Optimization Academy, right? Yeah, from the Border Longevity site, or just go to and sign up. But you guys have definitely signed up for that we actually are trying to really put together tons—and all the information you guys need to try. And you'll have one place where you can go get all of these things that we talked about, and all the things that Lisa talks about, and really be able to learn about them. Because as we know, doctors don't really learn this stuff very well. So you guys have to do it yourself. And so we're trying to give you a place to do. It's coming from a very experienced...

Lisa: Yeah, and if you want on the latest, so make sure And I'll put that in the show notes too guys, so you can find it. 

Now today's subject is mitochondria, one of Dr Yurth’s favorite subjects. Okay, for starters, what is a mitochondria?

Dr Yurth: What's really so cool about mitochondria, right, is they're actually they were actually their own little bacteria. So they invaded us back when we were threatened to kind of moving from an anaerobic to an aerobic environment. So when we went from sort of anaerobic organisms to actually living in air, we couldn't do it. And so these little bacteria got into the cells, and they formed a symbiotic relationship, so that we could survive outside of water and air. And so they were responsible for us being able to move out of the ocean and into an air or an aerobic environment. Well, they're actually their own little organism. Right? I mean, that that is weird, right? That we have this essential part of our cell. Now our essential part of survival is actually its own organism. 

And it was a one celled organism, it gone to formed a symbiotic relationship, it allowed the bacteria to survive living inside ourselves. And if we allowed ourselves to survive, so amazing. And that's why they're so unique is that they actually contain a whole genome that is separate from your nuclear genome, right? So they have a mitochondrial genome that's completely different. And it's only inherited from your mother. So that mitochondrial genome is not inherited from your father at all. It's probably one of the reasons your mother's health at the time, because even though the mitochondria has its own genome, that genome is impacted by things you do. So if I have a baby, and I'm super unhealthy, I've altered that mitochondrial genome. And then I've transferred that mitochondrial genome only from me—the dad was great and doing everything right—to my children. So that's one of the...

Lisa: So that’s the epigenetic…. Because I'm just about to go through IVF, as I said before, very interesting for me. So even though I'm going to have an egg donor...

Dr Yurth: You wanna make sure she’s healthy, right? 

Lisa: Yeah, she's just—she is, and we've got her on everything. Her DNA is coming into the egg, but actually, my mitochondria will be a part of this baby, if we have one.

Dr Yurth: So you will alter—so basically, she's, you're going to be, the baby will have her mitochondrial DNA. But because you will be growing this baby, you will be altering that mitochondrial DNA by epigenetic influences that you're doing, right. So now you're going to be changing some of that DNA structure, or the genome of that mitochondria by things you're doing. The mitochondria, so even though it's coming in, and again, you want her to come in with this great mitochondrial DNA in the first place. Right? So we want this good genome in the first place, which is why you do want her to be healthy and fit and all those things. And younger.

But then you know all about the epigenetics, and so you're going to be potentially altering some of that, too. So that's one of the really amazing things. Now, what we used to think is, all the mitochondria did was do oxidative phosphorylation, and make energy, make ATP. And that's what they did. They were our energy powerhouse. That's all we ever learned, right? High school was like, ‘Oh, the powerhouse of the cell’. 

So we now know, they do a whole lot more than that. So they're not just responsible for aerobic metabolism, and making ATP. So they're not just energy production. And in fact, there's the communication back and forth between the nucleus of ourselves and these mitochondrial DNA that's imperative to health. Well, I'm gonna make the case that actually every single disease, from cancer, to cardiovascular disease, everything related to ageing, osteoporosis, everything comes down to mitochondrial dysfunction.

Lisa: Wow. So this is pretty–

Dr Yurth: It's imperative and, and you're gonna start reading more about this, is that the key to fixing our health is going to be fixing the mitochondria. And we've already figured out like, you know, you I know you're big into NAD that, improving NAD and I know you have a product that does that. And that is— that's critical, right? To mitochondrial health. We know that's critical to mitochondrial health. But there's more to that story. And the big thing is that is that piece of communication, that mitochondria sends messages out to the nucleus, and the nucleus sends messages back to the mitochondria.

Lisa: Okay, so what are these messages that they’re sending backwards and forwards? And why does this have to do with the function of the mitochondria itself?

Dr Yurth: Well, there's, as the body goes through the oxidative phosphorylation pathway, that Krebs cycle, that cycle that makes energy, right. And we know that we create these free radicals. And that's been one of the big theories of ageing is this free radical theory of ageing, that mitochondria produce all these free radicals, as free radicals overwhelm the body, they damage cells, and we get damaged tore into our DNA? Hmm.

Lisa: So we all thought that antioxidants would be the answer, recommended…

Dr Yurth: Right. We just take a bunch of antioxidants into the mix, and you're going to be great, because now, all those free radicals, you're not going to have any damage. The problem is that we know that there's been this—the mitochondria has a very, has a way to handle this oxidative stress. So there's a few things that happen. Obviously, stress is really critical to the mitochondria’s health. So as it creates these free radicals, and and it's rust by things, it actually produces what are called mitochondrial peptides. So it has its own genome, right, that's now been activated by this stress. And it creates these—its own peptides that no other structure in your body can produce. So it's producing these little chains of amino acids. 

And there's quite a few being developed now or that or that we were learning about, but the sort of the three main ones that we kind of have a pretty good knowledge about right now are something called MOTS-c. There's another one called humanin, and another one called SS-31. And those are what—the SS-31s, and a group of them are called small humanin-like peptides or SHLPs. Those peptides, so once the mitochondria is stressed, it encodes this DNA to say, ‘Oh, you need to go out there and tell the nucleus to do some good stuff’. 

So these mitochondrial peptides now go outside of the mitochondria, and they tell the nucleus to to heal things and get stronger and do better. And then that sends messages back to the mitochondria. So that stress, that oxidative stress actually, it's just like, you know, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Lisa: And actually it’s a fact on this.

Dr Yurth: It’s really a fact that mitochondria health, that these medical peptides are imperative to health. In fact, humanin which were first developed actually was looking like a cure for Alzheimer's. And it may be really—well, it may be actually very, very baffling here, but very, very helpful in dementias and a lot of other diseases. We know that higher levels of humanin, people who live to be a hundred and above have much higher levels of humanin, so we know that these mitochondrial peptides, the higher they are, the healthier you are. No mitochondrial stress. If I just impound my body with antioxidants all the time, then I'm actually probably doing some damage. So cancer, right, so where—now again there, I can also overwhelm, right? 

There's also another response, the mitochondria have, it's called the UPR, unfolded protein response. So as the mitochondria are stressed, and these damaged proteins that are produced when we're under stress, right, we get damaged or proteins, that's where we're kind of linking that to Parkinson's and Alzheimer's and some of the plaques that form...

Lisa: The tau proteins and things. 

Dr Yurth: Yeah, yep. When the mitochondria is stressed, it actually sends messages out to the nucleus to activate what's called the UPR, the unfolded protein response. A little protein response actually takes these bad proteins and it strings them back out and makes them normal. Or it says, ‘These guys are so damaged. Let's just get rid of that mitochondria and initiate basically autophagy or mitophagy, eliminates the bad mitochondria that are too damaged. There's too many damaged proteins. We've overwhelmed the unfolded protein response’. Now it initiates this response to kill off the bad mitochondria. 

See, if I'm just now taking a ton of antioxidants. Maybe I've blocked this response to get rid of all these bad proteins. Right. And I'm actually inducing more of these bad, abnormal proteins that are going to cause damage. 

Lisa: I've talked on a couple of episodes with Dr Elena Seranova about—who is a molecular biologist on autophagy. And I think we talked about it too last time. So that's getting rid of the damaged proteins in the cells or in the mitochondria itself, getting rid of it. And we talked about fasting last time and how critical fasting is for autophagy in getting rid of these bad proteins and clearing things out. 

So if we—so you're saying we can overwhelm this protein, and what do you call unfolding... 

Dr Yurth: Unfolded protein response, UPR. 

Lisa: Yeah, we can overwhelm it with too many antioxidants and actually stop it...

Dr Yurth: Stop the UPR from being activated. So now we don't actually kill it, we don't actually—either fix the damaged protein or get rid of the cells that are too damaged.

Lisa: Wow, okay. And so in this is this two-way communication between the mitochondria and the DNA, this is the nucleus of the cell. This is all within the—if we picture a big, nice fat round cell, and inside, you've got thousands of mitochondria per cell. And you've got the actual nucleus, which has that nice double helix, you see in the graph– 

Dr Yurth: Where all the DNA is.

Lisa: –where the DNA, your code for life is– 

Dr Yurth: Right. 

Lisa: And these are talking backwards and forwards to each other to keep the health of the cell good. And then when we do autophagy, or mitophagy, we're getting rid of the damaged parts of the proteins that have been damaged through—is this through, so the damage that occurs in the cells is happening because of DNA breaks? And what are toxins and things like that, right? 

Dr Yurth: Exactly, these reactive oxygen species that you know, they're starting to damage the DNA too much inside the mitochondria and creating abnormal proteins. Right? So now we've created these dysfunctional proteins that are going to do damage, so the body tries to get rid of them. And it's not, I'm not gonna say there's no place for antioxidants, right? But what you have to be careful of, is sort of cycling through phases where you're off of your antioxidants, and maybe inducing more autophagy, right. So we now want a little more oxidative stress to induce this healing response to give the cell some stress, and then maybe going on antioxidants for a little while to make sure that we don't ever have too many.

Lisa: Yeah, if you've gotten a lot of antioxidants, or sorry, or oxidative stress, because maybe you're exercising a heck of a lot or you've had an infection, or you've got something other high stress... 

Dr Yurth: You eat like crap, or you're fat or… Then you might need extra antioxidants. And just to support the baseline of your functional health. But even those people, right, need them off and on, they should not be constantly. They should do phases, right? They should cycle it. I'm just a big advocate with diet, with exercise with everything, everything's done so quickly. Because we want to go through phases all the time, where we're getting rid of bad stuff, and then regrowing and getting rid of bad stuff and regrowing. Right?

It’s just like cleaning your house. You got to get rid of all the crap, but then you're gonna…

Lisa: Bring the new groceries.

Dr Yurth: Yeah, right. It's get cluttered again. And then you got to go clean it all out again, and things get cluttered again. Yeah, I mean, that's the world's clutter wouldn't happen, but it does, right. Even the most pristine non hoarder person, there's still clutter that happens, and you still have to do your spring clean outs.

And that's—so I like to think about the body in the same way, you know, going into the spring clean outs where you go through a big autophagy phase where you're fasting, we're using hydro spermidine, where you're using things that will help to really clear out all the bad cells, all these damage, mitochondria that are producing too many reactive oxygen species, right? And then going through growth phases, where where I'm now maybe I'm inducing a little bit more toxic stress, I'm exercising harder, I'm lifting more weights, I'm running more, right, I'm inducing more oxidative stress. Maybe I'm eating more calories during that time. Now there's more oxidative stress cells a little bit stressed that actually initiate some growth and some healing. Right. And then I can do the same thing over and over again.

But there's really interesting new research leads when you kind of look at ‘Okay, well, how does this all make sense’? So it's probably going to come down more to this. This is what's called the MPTP or mitochondrial permeability transition pore. And what they've now found is that that's probably where we need to focus is this little pore is letting stuff in back and forth through the mitochondria. So the right amount of things get through. So we know this little pore opens and closes. As we're in worse health, or older, it stays open longer, allowing more bad things to go In and out. So it's designed to open periodically, closed periodically. So for brief periods. 

So what a lot of focus now is on anti-ageing. And mitochondrial health is focusing a little bit on this mitochondrial transition pore. In fact, there's a really cool study just came out where they're actually taking out these mitochondria and actually changing the pore structure for treating cancer. So they can actually make the pores in these cancer cells more permeable, so they can get drugs with a little nanobot that's poking holes in the mitochondria. 

But on our home base, is what we really would rather do is keep these little mitochondrial transition pores closed most of the time, let them open periodically. So there's some interesting things that do that, melatonin does that? Oh, so higher dose melatonin seems to work primarily on this pore to actually regulate keeping it closed more often. So it’s spermidine, that's one way spermidine induces cellular or mitochondrial biogenesis is by restoring this pore structure.

Lisa: And we're big into augmenting spermidine. I've just got my first shipment, I'm working on getting that down here guys. 

Dr Yurth: Spermidine is kind of amazing. Because it really is so good for mitophagy, getting rid of bad mitochondria, but also mitochondrial biogenesis probably because it does focus a little bit more on this pore. Making more mitochondria, right. Right, make more mitochondria, we need more mitochondria. 

The other thing interesting, I don't know how many of—how you or your listeners have looked at things like minocycline, right? Antibiotic, we always think antibiotics are bad, right? Yeah. Well, interestingly, minocycline and doxycycline. And minocycline is a little bit better, probably actually has a very nice anti-ageing effect, used periodically, to actually close off these pores, and let the cell kind of develop and grow more than mitochondria grow more. So minocycline has a really distinct effect on the mitochondrial transition pore as well, for this permeability pore. So there are a few simple things that you can use, and I like. 

Lisa: And it doesn't want your good microbes and stuff when you take them.

Dr Yurth: You know, definitely antibiotics have the downside of changing the gut microbiome. And we know that there's downsides to that, which is why you're not going to stem minocycline all the time. But like anything, it appears to have some very significant benefits in our cell health. So by doing that, maybe twice a year, doing like a 10-day course of minocycline, you can actually restore cell health. Now, after that, do you have to really work on gut health? Probably depends on how bad your gut is. So if my gut is super healthy, it's probably gonna regenerate, divide, right? Otherwise, it would, I have a lot and I know you're really interested in some gut microbiome stuff. Because you're gonna be a really—you're gonna see a really big connection coming up here soon between the gut microbiome and mitochondria even. But we know the gut microbiome is most affected by butyrate. 

So using tributyrate, which is sort of pre-butyrate that can turn to be right in your intestine. So if I had somebody on an antibiotic, do I throw—I'm just gonna throw probiotics into the mix? Well, no, because the probiotics aren't gonna survive. So what you have to do is first throw butyrate into the mix. Remember what the good bacteria in our gut do that we eat fiber? The anaerobic bacteria. Turn that fiber into butyrate. Butyrate has all these far reaching effects. Number one, it's imperative for the colonocytes, the colon cells to be healthy, that's what they—that's what they use for energy is butyrate. So they're different from your other cells, they use butyrate for energy. So when they use butyrate, for energy, I have these nice healthy colonocytes, they create a nice anaerobic environment where my anaerobes can thrive. And they can make more butyrate. And you have this nice cycle.

But butyrate has some really interesting effects. There was a great study for your distance runners using butyrate to increase performance. Because higher levels of gut butyrate also seemed to help the cell, the mitochondria, and actually produce you actually, were able to use the butyrate for fatty acid oxidation and actually improve aerobic metabolism by having higher levels of butyrate. 

Lisa: Was it like yeah, the athletes with keto. Yeah, because butyrate is like, isn't butter got butyrate in it? Or am I? Butyrate, butter. 

Dr Yurth: Oh, butter. So butter does have butyrate in it, yes. So you can even increase butyrate by eating a whole lot of butter. You'd be—so your medium chain triglycerides, the short chain fatty acids do have butyric acid in them. The problem with when you eat butyric acid, when you eat butyrate, it doesn't really reach this lower intestine very well. Okay, and so even though it has some benefits, probably some other places, you really have to get the gut bacteria. And so the only way to really get butyrate to the lower intestine is either to take a pre-butyrate form, which is I like tributyrin, one has research behind it, or to use it rectally. So that's the other thing you can do is use it rectally. 

Lisa: Okay, then that gets direct into the colon and then can get the right to the cells there. 

Dr Yurth: Yeah, and this actually has a genetic—do you remember your PGC alpha gene? So when you get hired to get butyrate, you actually upregulate PGC alpha. And that's one of the things that improves aerobic endurance in your long distance athletes. You can actually—they did a study with butyrate on improving endurance in sort of your distance runners, your higher level endurance athletes, and besides, it's significant improvements. Also in race horses. Same thing. 

So butyrate does affect mitochondria in other places, including skeletal muscle, and around that. So there is this big connection that we're just learning about between the gut microbiome and mitochondria. So if I'm going to put somebody into minocycline. I'm going to also make sure I have them on tributyrate so I'm keeping that nice anaerobic metabolism going. I'm making sure I'm getting butyrate to myself. Now I've repaired the mitochondria. I've given it another source to work better. And I'm going to have overall better endurance, better health, better aerobic metabolism. Better Vo2max.

Lisa: Yeah, wow, that's just crazy. So butyrate—but if we just taking butyric acid or in through butter or that type of thing. Brother just arrived in the background. It’s all good. Podcast life. At least the cat’s not running from down as well. 

So butyric acid, when I take it in the form of say medium chain triglycerides or butter and stuff, it's not going to help my colonocytes and my colon, but I still get through to the mitochondria and help.

Dr Yurth: Yeah. I mean, there's significant benefits to it, but you really want to replenish the butyrate in the lower intestine, where you really need that for overall health. You really have to either do it rectally, or take it as a pro butyrate or a pre-butyrate form or tributyrin–

Lisa: Tributyrin. I'll put that in the links. 

Dr Yurth: You know what is interesting, my patients who have the worst, now are the sickest, like I take care tributyrate. I have no problems with it. I'm fine. I feel good and most people. But if you're sick or not well or have a bad gut and you take it, you'll feel pretty miserable. Because you actually can't turn it into butyrate very well and it actually causes a lot of GI distress. So some of those really sick people the only way to replenish butyrate first is to do a rectal suppository. So you can get rectal suppositories of butyrate right. You do like a high dose, like two grams of a rectal suppository, butyrate, replenish the butyrate then you throw like a spore probiotic or probiotic and now I've created this nice anaerobic environment I've replaced the good bacteria. Now actually they do fine as a maintenance with the tributyrate now that I've restored the gut health.

For people who are not well, and I'll tell you, if any of you patients or your people, you talk to your clients, you talk to them use him take tributyrin, and they get they're like, ‘Oh, I'm nauseous, I can't take it’, or ‘Gives me diarrhea’, but it's because they have a bad gut and you've got to work, you know, right? Yeah. So tells you, right, that you need to replenish the butyrate. And again, the only way to do is rectally.

Lisa: Can you buy that as a consumer without a doctor who's until….

Dr Yurth: But there is a company and I don't know that, here in the US that's called MitoZen. That does make a pro-butyrate, it's a suppository. It's a two-week course, you have a high dose butyrate and it's actually pretty cool as a spore biotic mixed in. So I use that product a lot. It's on the pricey side like all this stuff. But I really find like a two week course of it. People do pretty well. All you do is two weeks of it, and then you can get them into the oral much less expensive form. The rectal butyrate smells bad. One of my patients, like ‘All my dogs are following me everywhere’. Other people—when you're doing I don't think other people can smell it on you but you can kinda smell it when you do it. It’s kind of like urine. Some people don't like the smell of, I don't mind the smell of that, but some people say they don't like the smell of that either.

Lisa: Okay, men and tributyrate, so if he’s not really sick, so if they’re really sick. So if you've got something like Crohn's disease, or IBS, or something–

Dr Yurth: Those people you wanna do the rectal, and they do amazing. I will tell you, they do amazing. There's a big stage just coming out with Crohn's being a mitochondrial disorder, too. It's got mitochondrial disorder, but IBS, your SIBO patients, you put them on the rectal butyrate, two weeks so that they do absolutely amazing. Honestly, it's incredible how well they do in a lot of illnesses. I mean, it's been our go to for a whole lot of different disorders. And it's amazing how well it works. As you're learning the gut is everything. And now we're learning it may even be imperative to the mitochondria.

Lisa: So how does it connect with mitochondria? So that piece here I've sort of like, haven't quite got in my head. How does—like you said, mitochondria are the basis of health, because they are the ones that are producing the energy for the cell, talking to the nucleus, they're causing this cascade of different events in the cell. They're actually producing ATP, which is our energy. So if you look at things like say, as you get older, your EGFR goes down, your function of your kidneys, in other words, starts to deteriorate. And this is, as an ultra endurance athlete, we smash the crap out of my kidneys with rhabdomyolysis a hundred times. I've had real battles getting my EGFR back up and managed it to quite a good degree, but it's still a problem. And as we get older, we sort of lose about 1% a year they say, of kidney function. 

So then it’s just another example of it's actually the mitochondria that in this case, and the kidney cells that are not able to do their energy production to do what the kidney cells should be doing. So how can we reverse that train and get our kidneys working in this case, or our brain or in another case, or heart cells? All of these areas are affected by the mitochondrial function. And how does that link connect to the gut situation?

Dr Yurth: So it connects to the butyrate because what butyrate does, at the mitochondrial level, is increases PGC-1 alpha and AMPK. And so you're, you're inducing on a genetic basis, a better oxidative capacity, right? So you're restoring the oxidative capacity to the cell, the mitochondria healthier. And so it's really working—the butyrate and searching fatty acids are really working on a genetic level, probably primarily at PGC-1alpha, I think we'll probably find more and more because this is very new. But it looks like that PGC-1 alpha is where it's happening is a very distinct effect on mitochondria. And then the AMPK through the ACC pathway. 

So basically, I think, if you think about it, probably from your training and everything, think about it as an epigenetic influence changing genetic output, right. So that's probably where the short term fatty acids are working in terms of mitochondrial health, I think there's going to be more to that story. You're right, kidney disease brain to these, everything comes down to we have to have mitochondrial health. So exactly what you said, first, have a healthy gut, let's replace the butyrate. Because we know that that's important for those pathways, then, what we have to do is go through phases where we really induce mitophagy. That's where you're fasting and your spermidine comes in, right. So we've got to basically induce, get rid of all the bad mitochondria. So that's gonna induce mitophagy right. So get rid of all the bad stuff. 

And then we want to do more of a build up phase. So what I'll do is all patients go through different courses, 6-12 weeks of really kind of more real time food restrictions, and using spermidine at a higher dose, and I'll get them sort of clean slate right. Now I want to regrow and that's where I want to actually regrow in. So I'm gonna have them now, get a little bit less out of eat a little bit more a little less calorie deficit, I want to create a little bit of oxidative stress because now I'm going to induce those humanin-like peptides, those mitochondrial peptides, my MOTS-c, SS-31, the small humanin-like peptides, humanin itself. So we know that those are so imperative for ageing, and that when those peptides are released, they induce your nucleus to have a healthier genome. So now I'm going to have everything else be healthier, because it's going to send messages back to the mitochondria, mitochondria is going to be healthy, but then that's gonna get overwhelmed after a while. So then we go back into our, you know. 

So when you think of things that way, always that sort of breakdown-cleanup, breakdown-cleanup, kind of an easier way to live right? Don't get bored. Always live in this super restricted capacity.

Lisa: Especially with calorie restriction and things.

Dr Yurth: Yeah, like caloric restriction and right eating very low calories. Yeah. 

Lisa: It makes you miserable too. 

Dr Yurth: That’s right. And so when you can tell—when you tell people listen, I want you to do this for 12 weeks, and then we're gonna let you kind of, you know, have a little me, I'm not gonna tell them go eat cake, but we're gonna be able to, you know, do a little bit more and go through growth phases. And people feel better, and they look better and they have more muscle mass, if you're always in that AMPK state right, that break down, but not really break down state but that more longevity stat, more catabolic state more, yeah. Which is good for longevity, right? But when you look at those people, they always look so healthy. I'll look at someone's people. And you're like, I mean, sometimes they don't have much muscle mass, their hair is thinner. So we do want to go through these phases where we allow the body to kind of grow a little bit, right, especially if you want some muscle, we know that muscle is imperative to health. 

And thenI think we're sort of in the long term now they've got the mitochondria in this good homeostatic balance state where I've gotten it, but how do I keep that reactive oxygen species as low as possible? That's going to be where you look at them. That mitochondrial transitional pore, where, how do I keep that balance? And I think that's where maybe a lower dose spermidine every day, like one or two tablets every day of spermidine but I love melatonin for that purpose. 

Lisa: I wanted to come back to melatonin. So I understood like melatonin—I was a little bit hesitant to take melatonin because it can change or can fix your circadian rhythms and so on. But after listening to you a couple of times talking about melatonin, why is it not a problem then? Do we take it at nighttime? And what sort of dosages do we need to take? 

Dr Yurth: It’s interesting. I mean, we will dose—so for my osteoarthritis patients who have, for instance, high levels, most patients who have diffuse arthritis, or degenerative discs have very high levels of a cytokine called interleukin 1 beta. Interleukin 1 beta is very damaging in mitochondria, that's probably one of the reasons you get cell death and, and your chondrocytes all die off. So one of the things we know blocks interleukin 1 beta is higher dose melatonin. We also know that that's very anti-cancer, right? Probably for the same reason it's creating this balance, this homeostatic reaction in the mitochondria. So I actually like, in those patients, high dose melatonin, a high dose melatonin sounds interesting. Unlike the lower dose melatonin, it sometimes actually has more of a stimulating effect. But it actually does help restore your own circadian balance at a higher dose. 

I have a lot of people who take it in the morning, because if they take it at night, they actually are stimulated by it. If you take in the morning, they're sleepy at bedtime, and they sleep through the night. While I'm working with your own. Your super charismatic nucleus and tinea, we're kind of brain level, a kind of balance you back out.

Lisa: So what sort of level is like, I'm at the moment, just me personally, anecdotally, I'm taking a five milligram dose of melatonin at night time to optimise my sleep. And is that a low dose? Is that or is that a high? Yeah, what is the high dose?

Dr Yurth: So high dose is like 20 milligrams. We use the high doses in our people who have osteoarthritis primarily, cancer, we use high dose melatonin, especially your breast cancer patients will use high dose melatonin. So we'll use that, you know, as a trigger adjunct. Not always, you really have to kind of work with people, there's people who do great take in at night. One of my sons does great, it's 20 milligrams of melatonin at night. Sleeps through the night and wake up early in the morning. Me, I actually take it in the morning. If I take it at night, I'm wide awake all night. But if I take in the morning, I have a really nice, good sleep with good deep sleep on my Oura ring. I get a good  hour and a half of deep sleep. So it seems very different in different people and how it's interacted. And I'm sure that has to do a lot with kind of genetic, what are your clock genes? So I think that that probably has a little bit of a genetic influence. And I do have people who just don't follow—can only tolerate very low dose. You know, but we're finding more and more reasons to be very cautious with oh, you don't really want to take more than three to five milligrams of melatonin. Yeah, really finding that the higher doses seem to have a very advantageous effect on...

Lisa: Without putting your body clock out. You're super right.

Dr Yurth: Actually, potentially really benefiting your body clock, your circadian rhythm, which is critically important. And right now, that's one of the sort of easy things we can do that we know is going to be working. And as I said, I think what—it's going to come down to when we look at this mitochondria, it's not going to be trying to figure out what is my perfect dose of antioxidants. It's gonna be figuring out how do I get that mitochondria with the pores, letting the good stuff in, letting the bad stuff out? 

Yeah, in the right sequence because we know that, for instance, cancer cells that port stays open all the time. There's this very imbalance in this other mitochondria are really getting all this stuff all the time. So we know that a huge factor to health is trying to restore this normal port. I think that we're—there's a drug that's coming out. I can't remember the name of it. Yeah, I can't remember the name of it, but that will probably be actually really, if we can get it will be actually really interesting. It's actually coming out for the treatment of ALS. But that looks like it might be really helpful for that pore. 

Lisa: They’re shutting the mitochondrial pore. 

Dr Yurth: Yeah, I mean, if that will be something we can get. I don't know. But we'll find more things. Like I said, I think minocycline is a really nice thing to go to, like twice a year, I'll use a 10-day minocycline course, really benign. 

Lisa: Minocycline. How do you spell it?

Dr Yurth: So, minocycline, M-I-N-O-C-Y-C-L-I-N-E. Cheap antibiotics. I mean, it's like a $10 antibiotic. Right. And that has, but it has really—and it's been looked at in the anti-ageing field for a while, but we kind of weren't so clear of its effect on the mitochondria. Well, now we actually have found it's actually working on this pore, to actually balance out and keep the pore closed more, which is what you really want. When we're young, the pore is not open as much as it does when we’re old, there's less bad stuff coming through the mitochondria.

Lisa: So itis getting porous, isn't it? So basically, the membrane is getting porous. 

Dr Yurth: Exactly, that's probably where—like some of the mitochondria peptides like SS-31, which was the cardia lipid membrane, which helps them that endoplasmic reticulum inside the mitochondria to be healthy. So that's why peptides like that are so beneficial.

Lisa: Yeah, yeah. And there's lots of, you know, we can't get these fancy peptides, unfortunately, that easily. The caveolae pan is an enzyme that is a very important enzyme for us. It's a stabilising enzyme, isn't it? So, we want more of this and this is what one of these peptides is right. And so hopefully, there's going to be more research around that and more drugs even coming out around that.

Dr Yurth: Yeah, and remember that one of the ways we induce some of these mitochondrial peptides is exercise. Right? MOTS-c is a little bit of stress for our body, right and so it reduces the mitochondria to produce some of these mitochondrial peptides. MOTS-c which is kind of considered exercise in a bottle because you can actually give at least mice you can give them MOTS-c— basically this mitochondrial peptide and it acts just like exercise.

Lisa: Exercise hermetic.

Dr Yurth: Yeah. So it's very cool. Of course, it's very expensive and... But way cheaper to go exercise, but it's a nice thing to offer people who can't exercise for some reason. Like, you'll have an injury or elderly people who are just so sarcopenic and trying to get them to do anything until you build a little bit of muscle is almost impossible. So things like that are going to be really nice in that realm as peptides like MOTS-c. 

There's a whole company here that is actually just working on these mitochondrial peptides as drugs for treating things like this. Right now, we know that one of the best ways to produce MOTS-c is to exercise, stimulates your mitochondria to be a little stressed. Mitochondria produces more MOTS-c. MOTS-c helps with glucose metabolism, it helps with fat loss, it helps with turning white fat into brown fat helps. It helps with kind of overall aero metabolism.

Lisa: Just briefly on that. What is white fat versus brown adipose tissue, you know, brown fat? And why is brown metabolically active? 

Dr Yurth: Yeah, so you know, white fats what—that fat we get as we get older and you know, it's really doing nothing beneficial. Brown fat is what little kids have, right? Brown fats—we look at babies or you look at little kids and they have that little chubbiness. Well, that's usually brown fat. Why? You know, maybe boys made fun because I'm always cold and so I'm way overdressed. My kids, but little kids don't get nearly as cool. We don't have to like them quite so bundled up as we do, because they're really covered with brown fat, which is metabolically active, that's what it was designed for. And when you're born you have this brown fat, you can stay warm. I mean, really, we were meant for survival, right? These babies who are born, they need something to keep them you know. Also there when you were caveman and you were just laying there in the cave, you survived. 

So brown fat is metabolically active, it's helping for warmth and heat production. It's actually burning calories. White fat is what we get as we get older and we just eat too much and we sit around too much. And all it does is coat our organs and do nothing beneficial. So brown fat actually you can convert white adipose to brown adipose, so you can turn it into metabolically active tissue. Then you're actually going to be able to burn more calories and you'll be way more metabolically active. You actually want brown fat. You can convert white fat to brown fat. You know, and that's probably does come down to—that's one of the things that when you looked at butyrate it was one of the places that butyrate actually worked was actually helping to convert more brown fat and white fat. So there was a big problem putting people on butyrate can really help with fat loss using butyrate and if you're overweight people who are all have metabolic their guts are horrible. Yeah, uterine those patients can really help with fat loss. 

Lisa: I just had Dr Austin Perlmutter on you know, probably… And he was talking about the white fat cells, the visceral fat cells having not a consciousness but they have an ulterior motive to keep themselves alive. So they seem that all these—make you hungrier, send out inflammatory compounds and so on to make sure that they stay alive. They end up killing the host in the end. But like a cancer cell, they although they have their own agenda independent of what was actually healthy for your body. So they don't want you to do fasting. They don't want you to do any of these things, because they're not going to get knocked


Dr Yurth: Yeah, I mean, fat is metabolically active too. Remember it converts—fat cells have—they convert testosterone to estrogen. So men who are fatter will start converting all their testosterone into estrogen. So it's one of the places that that we have, you know, aromatase is inside fat cells. White men tend to have bigger breasts, and you know, is that fat cells actually are converting very mostly into this bad estrogen. So even your testosterone, you put them on testosterone, a lot of them just convert it to estrogen.

Lisa: Wow. So that's independent of your innate genetic pathway for your hormones. 

Dr Yurth: Fat cells have aromatase. Fat cells have aromatase.

Lisa: Oh, wow, that's—I didn't realise that. I mean, I thought your genetic pathway was your genetic pathway. And you'll be converting your testosterone to estrogen is more if you have that genetic predisposition.

Dr Yurth: It's certainly genetic there. But yes, that fat guys have breasts, right? You look at breasts because they're very estrogenic. And so if you try and get—if you take some of your overweight males, and you put them on testosterone without using things to block estrogen or getting rid of fat first, then you just keep making more estrogen, making more fat. They’re making it worse, right?

Lisa: So okay, so it's not just to do with your genetic pathway, but also to do with how much fat you have. And the more fat tissue the more estrogenised you’ll be. That's in the new—okay. So that's why. Because you see, a lot of young people nowadays are thinking over probably growing up with less quality food than what we grew up with in our generation, seem to be more estrogenised and have more of these issues, and the actual body shape, the phenotype, the way it secretes, is this more estrogenised than past generations?

Dr Yurth: We're seeing a lot of twenty-year olds who come in, who have high estrogen levels, low testosterone levels. I think drugs have to do with that, too. I mean, here in Colorado, we have legal marijuana, which is unfortunately not very good for testosterone. 

Lisa: Oh, wow. I didn’t know that either. Marijuana is not good for testosterone. 

Dr Yurth: It's not good for testosterone levels at all. And then our food, right, bisphosphonates all these things that are so we're seeing this you know, these really young guys with testosterone levels that that you're a god awful.

Lisa: And then estrogen levels higher than the...

Dr Yurth: Estrogen levels that are high, right? 

Lisa: Yeah, I just did my estrogen levels and my—I know mine are low because I'm going through menopause and so on. And I was looking at my husband's and I was thinking, ‘Oh, it was about…’

Dr Yurth: You do start good to see that right. You start to see that these men—these older man look like woman, it switches. Yeah. You know, and they start taking on more female build, right? They get the bigger breasts and bigger bellies and they start getting this more female build to them. 

Lisa: I mean, I've had lots of things so that it's not it's you, going the other way and there's testosterone is good and bad. Yeah, that is what you see in older and older men is that tendency to go and eat. It's really really hard to get testosterone replacement therapy or hormone replacement therapy for men or—for woman a little bit easier. They've seen you know, the doctor seems... I am willing to give it to woman but well, this integrated medical fraternity for bioidentical hormone replacement? And, you know, it's so easy...

Dr Yurth: It kind of kills me because I get this—we're putting together this course called what to fix for us to kind of help people. In this journey of getting healthy, what do I do? Because I'm overwhelmed. And as I was putting together, I was like, ‘Okay, well, you start with exercise’. And that's it. No, actually, you kind of have to start with hormones. Because if I take somebody who has no testosterone, and no hormones, they have no progesterone, so they can't sleep, they have no testosterone, this is both men and women. So you know that their joints hurt, because there's progesterone receptors on joints, they've no testosterone. So trying to get them to go into the gym, and is impossible. 

So for me to say, follow a good diet, do exercise without replacing hormones. It's really kind of not right, right. I mean, as I was putting together a talk, I said, you know, actually, the first thing I do is get these people hormone stabilised, because then I'm going to go to motivate another, their testosterone levels are good, they feel more motivated, they're going to build muscle, they're going to lose fat, they're going to feel like they can actually exercise, you know, they’re making progress, they can sleep. And that starts young.

And so to listen to, you know, your story of people not being able to get access to these things, and just, you know, it is almost criminal in my mind. To just say, you know, well just eat better and go exercise. Well, you can’t get it like that, right. You can't, right. You can't get out of bed much less go to the gym.

Lisa: And I know you'd like in my life, you know, when I was doing ultra marathon running and doing absolutely ridiculous amounts of training, I got fatter, because my hormones were going out of whack and my adrenals were totally, yeah, and fluid retention, and so on. And so, it's so counterintuitive, and now I train, it’s still hard, but it's short. And I'm not knocking the crap out of my hormones, and I'm on hormone replacement therapy. And, and I can get leaner on a 10th of what I was doing. So it's not all about exercise. In that case, I should have been skinny before and I shouldn't be so now.

Dr Yurth: Yeah, it's not, you know, I mean, obviously, exercise is critical, but not—you don't have to be doing extreme exercise. What I’m really trying to get across is just sensible stuff. We just did a thing about just taking a walk after dinner, right? The metabolic control of taking a walk after... Nobody does it. But it makes a huge difference in fat storage. And so there's some simple things you can do. You know, we always talked about all these big, you know, cool things and that are amazing. Yeah, peptides and hyperbaric and all that cool stuff. But there's some really simple things that cost nothing.

Lisa: So let's talk about that briefly. Because the blood sugar levels we're talking about in this case. So regulating your blood sugar is absolutely crucial. And nobody like—when I talk to the average person around me and clients and so on, that I'm working with, none of them have even ever taken their blood sugar once. Or maybe the doctors done at once every year and they don't understand the—and this is what I take constant glucose monitors. I mean, I want to get one, one year.

Dr Yurth: Pricey. But they're cool.

Lisa: Exactly. Yeah. Again, it's always a matter of where to put my results first. Constant glucose monitors give you that feedback of where your blood sugars are, what's causing them to go up and it's not just food by the way, it can be your emotions and your stress levels and so on and get like—I've been taking—I you know, prick my finger 10 times a day just to see where I'm at and to keep an eye on it. 

Funny story: I thought I was getting, I was becoming diabetic, right? Because I was getting up in the morning and my blood sugar levels were very high. And I was like, ‘What the hell you know, I'm really slim’. What's going on? And I've been through a very stressful time and I thought maybe that's it. I've been doing in the morning cold showers and then Wim Hof sort of breathing. I was getting my blood sugar levels high, which is fine for the…

Dr Yurth: ...short periods. Fine, right. And again, those of those little stresses mean is that what about the mitochondria? Right? That's one of the things that causes mitochondrial biogenesis is that cold shower for the same reason. That little bit of stress, like I said, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. And that's what that cold shower, the cryo does or you know, just taking that two minute cold shower. It creates that little shock response to mitochondria like ‘Shit!’, and they start producing more mitochondrial peptides which creates more mitochondrial biogenesis. So, you are right and just like the blood glucose going up, these little temporary stressors are good for us. It's the big long stressors that aren't.

Lisa: Yeah, and so regulating our blood sugar is really porting and understanding what does that and I just found out that doing that tumor breathing in the morning and stuff does. And that's fine. It's a great old story. So that's for a specific reason. And for my cortisol levels to go up in the morning isn't a bad thing, because that helps… etcetera, etc. But I did panic thinking that I was hitting towards diabetes. ‘I don’t want to see peptide tiers? Because I must have type one because I can't even type two’. And it's just a funny story. 

But when you're measuring these things, you can actually see what things are doing. Yeah, like you might eat a banana thinking a banana is a healthy food, but it seems your blood sugars right through the roof. And when you know that you're going to avoid bananas. You know?

Dr Yurth: I mean, I think they're going to be sort of a critical piece to understand because, you know, it is hard to figure that out. I mean, there are things that like, in certain people, you can't figure out why their blood sugar is out of control. It could be very specific activity or something like that. That's doing it. So I do love the CGM. I wish they weren't so expensive. I wish there was some access to them. You know, it was not so pricey, because, you know, again, that's like $400 a month for the CGM. 

Lisa: You can't afford it, and so many people.... And we could be like, this is like, for me from a regulatory perspective wouldn't that be great if we did this prevention stuff. And then we wouldn't have so many people with diabetes, because diabetes is the entranceway to cardiovascular problems, and urine, and all the rest of it. This is why blood sugar levels are really, really important. 

So one of the things that Dr Yurth did recently was to challenge everybody listening out there on Instagram, when you've had your evening meal, or your big, big meal at lunch is big, to go for a 20 minute walk after, a 10 minute walk even. And that will actually slow the release, so you won't get that big sugar spike. And so I've started instigating that as well.

Dr Yurth: It’s so easy, right? And it's really nice and peaceful. My family took everything to drag them out. But you know, it was like, because of COVID, my kids are done at home. And you know, and but we don't talk, we don't see each other. And actually these little walks at night, were such a nice thing. I say that I got them to do for the week, and then we're done. 

Lisa: But there are a couple of other things that we can do to lower our blood sugar levels. What do you think about things like Vanadyl and cinnamon and chromium and these sorts of things that can actually lower blood sugar levels as well, just to help you…. 

Dr Yurth: They can work really—honestly I used them a ton. I tell people just to use you liberally you can use it until, you know. I think chromium works on some people really well. And some people not so well, there's probably a bit of a genetic basis, or just if you're depleted it kind of basis to that. So that can be really helpful for glucose maintenance too. I do think people forget about cinnamon, put some on your coffee, put some on your oatmeal, but you know, you know it. 

And then I just did a little Instagram thing yesterday, because there's a very interesting study that came out from American Diabetes Association of eating your protein before your carbs. So if you've got a plate with broccoli, and a little piece of bread, and some grilled chicken, what they did was they took people and they had them for one week, eat the protein first, actually at the car person, their salad and their bread first and then the protein. And then they measured blood glucose and insulin levels at 30-60-120 minutes. The next week, they did the opposite. They ate the chicken first. So the protein first and then the carb, the impact was 40% difference in blood glucose and insulin levels at 120 minutes. And the people went just by eating the protein…

Lisa: That makes sense, right? Proteins a little harder to break down. 

Dr Yurth: So you start the digestive process and you know, yeah. Very simple, right? So if you're going to eat some carbs, if you're eating and remember carbs, even your vegetables, that you're gonna have lot less glucose impact and insulin impacts simply by eating the protein first and then in the carb. Or if you want to have something—I mean, what do we do right here in the US, at least we eat our salad first and then you know, hey, then we're eating the breadbasket. And then we eat our chicken last. Switching that around, so even if you're gonna have your little bread, your little ciabatta roll or something, you eat that after you finished your protein, and eat that last there was much less glucose in that.

Lisa: Wow. And then this is also true for fat and sugars. And I mean, not that we're advocating but if you having Coca Cola or some terrible drink my bed versus—which you shouldn't, I'm not saying that but—versus having an ice cream. Because the fat is in the ice cream, it will slow the response to the sugar compared...

Dr Yurth: Exactly, right. You’re actually, right. You're better off eating something like fatty sugar loaf than you are just eating a Coke. Which is why Coke is so bad for you. It's just so bad. Yeah, those are just easy things, right? 

Lisa: Oh, yeah. I'm never—I'd sort of—what about enzymes like a lot of people are dealing with not having enough betaine, hydrochloric acid. Not enough digestive enzymes from the pancreas. And some of this is genetic. And some of this is age related, not breaking the proteins down and so on. Is there a rule of thumb without having tests and testing for all your pancreatic enzymes and so on.

Dr Yurth: There's some evidence that—maybe like the gut, a lot of things start with dysfunction and bile acids. In fact, one of my friends who's a physician, or medical practitioner, that takes care of a lot of very sick ALS patients, really has a belief that things really begin with the dysfunction of the bile level, you know, the bile acid level, and that we really do need to focus on that more. And I love betaine, you know, and I will—in any of my patients who are sick, or who have kind of more neuromuscular weakness, things like that, or I'm building muscle, I will always focus a little bit on, even if you're not testing digestive enzymes, I'll focus on actually having them use a digestive enzyme. So using just the sort of mass proteases and lipases and using that with their meals, because I do think there's a piece of that we are way overlooking in a lot of people. And that may be the start up of a whole lot of diseases. Is that that level?

Lisa: Yeah, yeah. That makes sense to me. Because when you look at the protein levels, a lot of people or you know, working with a lot of athletes, of course, you're stressing yourself—a lot of repair and so on, having enough protein in the body…

Dr Yurth: Having it low in a lot of people, right. 

Lisa: And you're given a new globe and are very important for longevity. And it's not always related just to what you've eaten, but the right function. But having optimised protein breakdown, so the amino acids, so a lot of—I think I've mentioned this before, but I had Dr David Minkoff on the show who's a really amazing doctor. And he has a product called Perfect Aminos that I've got a lot of my athletes on. And that just breaks down within 20 minutes into the body into the amino acid. So if they've got problems with absorption, they can't digest steak very well, they can at least get these perfect tomatoes, and they can get through and do their jobs specifically within a 20 minute time period. The recoveries that I've seen from injuries just from taking the Perfect Aminos blend has been fantastic. 

I had a ripped hamstring performance and just your injury for five years and couldn't—oh, we have to have surgery and so on. I was on the Perfect Amino for a few weeks, and it was gone. So this is a big piece. Because if you're not absorbing your proteins, you're not going to be repairing a heck of a lot.

Dr Yurth: Curious to see how many people to—if you actually just went back that butyrate gut microbiome level, how much then that would sort of downplay into the—I think you probably want to tap on both—but I do wonder how many people you might, if you if you get the gut, the microbiome healthy again. And again, you guys are just throwing probiotics in the mix is not gonna work, you've got to get the colonocyte healthy. The only way that I do that is to fix butyrate. For please remember that remember nothing else. I see all people throwing tons of probiotics, I see doctors all the time say, ‘Oh, just take a probiotic’, the good bacteria, the anaerobes can't survive. Unless there's butyric acid, that for the colonocytes to have a nice healthy colon. So you're just throwing things in that aren't going to survive. You've got to fix butyrate and then you can throw the probiotics in if you want. But I do wonder how much—if you fix that how much the digestive process would correct or not? I don't know.

Lisa: Exactly. probably Yeah. Right. Make sense? And you know, the probiotics just as a last thing before we wrap up, so now we have to go. But the probiotics, they can have a histamine response, can't they? I’ve compared to a couple of clients who have put on probiotics. And then I've actually had an adverse reaction to probiotics, because they're histamine levels of…. What's going on there? Is our spore based probiotics in that case, better?

Dr Yurth: Yeah, that's probably a little bit better. But I think what you're doing again, is if you don't have this healthy gut lining, right, and you're now throwing a bunch of bacteria into an immune system, remember that all your immune systems are in the gut, serotonin levels are off, everything's off. The anything you put in is going to be being seen as a foreign thing and you're going to create an immune response or histamine response but not immune, basically an autoimmune response. Just because your body's seeing this stuff right now is a foreign invader because you don't have any—it's not it's not a normal environment for it yet. So you gotta quit. environment for it so that you know you have this nice—you don't want this where you want that gut bacteria in the, in the gut. So if I have bad claws, sides and it's leaking out of my gut into my bloodstream, not where they belong, right? They create this histamine immune response, right? 

Just think of your colonocytes as you want this nice thick layer of cells, they're all bound together really tight. And the only way you can have healthy colonocytes is to have high butyrate levels, right? Wow, it's a really interesting study that came out that people who had good butyrate levels actually were more popular. So even came from a pheromone perspective. We can sense that those people are healthier. So you actually are actually liked better if you have higher butyrate levels?

Lisa: Wow. Okay, another reason to take butyrate inhibitors. So butyrate either, as tributyrin, as a pre-butyrate, right? Or rectally would be really better for two for two weeks if you can afford it, and you can get that. Which I'm gonna do…

Dr Yurth: A good way of doing it. It's just people don't like suppositories. But it is a better way of getting it there initially.

Lisa: Hey, whatever it takes, you know? Gonna stick something up your bum? Do it. I do use ozone every couple of days. So for me it doesn't work. 

Dr Yurth: You’re used to it. 

Lisa: Yeah. Dr Yurth has been absolutely amazing again today. This conversation went in directions I had no idea and I'm…

Dr Yurth: That's right, Lisa. We just go here, there. But that's kind of—but that's a cool thing. 

Lisa: Yeah, that's a really cool thing. And people please go to or the Boulder Longevity Institute. You will also find the direction there. And that's the education arm of the Boulder Longevity Institute. And it's free at the moment so go and hurry up, get in there, get the courses, get the information from Dr Yurth. She is really, I mean I've come, I've worked in, had on my podcast, hundreds of doctors and scientists. You are one of my favourites. I just have to say, because I just learned so so much from the academy and the work that you're doing and even on your Instagram and stuff. I just love watching that every day. 

Dr Yurth: I appreciate that. Thanks, Lisa. You know what you're doing because you're amazing too. I love being on your show. Thanks.

Lisa: We'll have you back again and we'll keep people coming with this great information. So thank you very much, Dr Yurth.

Dr Yurth: All right. Stay well. Bye. 

That's it this week for Pushing The Limits. Be sure to rate, review, and share with your friends. And head over and visit Lisa and her team at

May 13, 2021

Challenges, obstacles and painful experiences — these are just some of things life throws our way when we least expect them. But no matter where you are in life right now, remember that you can push past the hard times. You can learn how to rise above life’s challenges. And if you feel lost, here’s a little secret: help others. Being of service to other people can help you find strength and a way out of your problems.

In this episode, Robert Joseph Cappuccio, widely known as Bobby, joins us to share his inspiring story of defying hardships and helping others. It’s easier to succumb to self-sabotage and addiction. But you have the power to make your experiences an opportunity for change and hope. Bobby also shares the importance of helping others, especially as a business owner and leader.

If you want to learn how to rise above trauma and be inspired to become a force of good to the world, then this episode is for you! 


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Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Discover how to rise above adversities.
  2. Understand the importance of intention and knowing who you serve.
  3. Learn the difference between internal and external customers and why you need to start focusing on the former. 




Episode Highlights

[05:49] Bobby’s Childhood

  • Bobby was born with deformities. He was adopted by a man who had cancer. 
  • After Bobby’s adoptive father passed, his adoptive mother entered a relationship with a cruel man.
  • Bobby experienced all kinds of abuse throughout his childhood on top of having Tourette’s syndrome. 
  • Doctors had to put him on Haldol, which damaged his brain. 
  • Yet, Bobby shares that these painful experiences helped him resonate with others and thrive in his industry. 

[12:48] How Bobby Got to Where He is Today 

  • Bobby initially wanted to become a police officer for special victims. 
  • He almost passed the written and psychological assessments, but there was an issue because of Tourette syndrome. At this time, he started working at a gym. 
  • Bobby worked hard. Eventually, he caught the eye of the gym owner, Mitchell. 
  • Mitchell became like a surrogate father and mentor to him.
  • Listen to the full episode to hear how Mitchell shaped Bobby and put him on the path to success!  

[20:31] Complications from Abuse and Empathy

  • Some adults tried to intercede for Bobby when he was being abused as a kid. However, he avoided their help because he was scared of being harmed further.
  • You can't just leave an abuser — it's difficult, and even simply attempting can hurt you.
  • We should understand that abuse can affect anyone. 
  • Confident and intelligent women may be particularly susceptible to abuse because they find themselves in a situation they didn’t expect. 

[28:58] How Abuse Isolates People

  • Abusers progressively isolate people by creating enemies out of strong alliances. 
  • This can make someone lose their sense of self, making them more vulnerable and dependent on their abusers. 
  • Assigning fault or blame to those being abused will not help anyone. 
  • If anything, that stops people from coming forward. 

[30:34] Help Others to Help Yourself

  • Bobby learned how to rise above his traumas and negative emotions. 
  • His mentor taught him to look beyond himself.
  • It was only by helping others find a way out of their problems that Bobby found a way to help himself too. 
  • He started to focus on helping people who were going through something similar to what he went through.

[33:32] Focus on the Intention

  • While working as a trainer, Bobby focused less on the transactional side of training and more on the transformational. 
  • He wanted to help people find what they need at that moment and give them the support they need. 
  • By focusing on his intention, he was able to get high rates of retention. 
  • For Bobby, helping others means understanding their goals and wishes. 

[36:12] Bobby’s Promotion

  • Bobby’s exemplary performance led him to a promotion that he didn’t want. He was scared of disappointing Mitchell.  
  • He did poorly in managing his team of trainers, which is when a consultant sat him down and gave him advice. 
  • Mitchell also had Bobby stand up and speak in team meetings. 
  • You need to know who you work for and who you serve. When your perspective is aligned with your work, you will bring that to every meeting and interaction. 
  • Are you taking care of the people you need to be responsible for? Hear how Bobby figured out his answer in the full episode! 

[43:14] Lessons on Leadership

  • Companies often adopt a top-down mentality where bosses need to be followed. However, a company should not be like this.
  • Companies are made up of people. Your business needs to care for your valuable customers, both internal and external. 
  • Treat your team members with the same level of tenacity, sincerity and intention as your external customers.
  • You can accomplish a lot if you hire the right person, set clear expectations and understand each individual’s motivations.
  • Through these, you can develop the team’s capacity and channel it towards a common vision.

[51:19] On Recruiting the Right People

  • David Barton hired Bobby to work as his head of training. 
  • Bobby asked David what two things Bobby should do to contribute the most to the company.
  • David wanted Bobby to be a connoisseur of talent and to train them, train them and train them again. 
  • Bobby brought this mindset throughout his career, and it’s served him well.
  • Don’t be afraid to hire people who are smarter than you.


7 Powerful Quotes from This Episode

‘When you know that there's somewhere you want to go, but you don't know exactly where that is. And you don't have complete confidence in your ability to get there. And what a good guy does is they help you go just as far as you can see.’

‘We form and calibrate and shape our sense of identity in the context in which we navigate through the world off of one another. And when you're isolated with a distorted sense of reality, and you lose your sense of self, you become highly incapacitated to take action in this situation.’

‘So I started focusing on things and a mission and people outside of myself. Who's going through something similar to what I have gone through, even if it's not precisely the same situation? How do I help them find their way out? And by helping them find their way out, I found my way up.’

‘I never saved anyone; you can't change anyone but yourself. But the reason why he called me that is anytime someone would think about joining the gym...I approached it from a transformational perspective.’

‘And your job is to create and keep your internal customer by serving them with at the very least with the same tenacity, sincerity and intention that you are serving your external customer. If you don't do that, you're going to be shit as a leader.’

‘I think the only people who don't have impostor syndrome are imposters. Because if you're fraudulent, you wouldn't engage in the level of self-honesty, and humility, and conscientiousness, to go, “Am I fraudulent; is there something that I’m missing?”’

‘Anything I've ever accomplished, it's totally through other people. It's because I hired people that were a lot smarter than me.’


About Robert

Robert Joseph Cappuccio, or Bobby, is a behaviour change coach, author, consultant, speaker and fitness professional. He is a trainer of trainers and at the forefront of the life-altering and ever-evolving industry of coaching. 

For over two decades, he has been advocating and pushing the industry-wide and individual shift of perspective in development. Behaviour change is rooted in a holistic approach, not just goals to health and fitness. With his vision, he co-founded PTA Global. It has now become a leader in professional fitness development. 

No matter how successful Bobby seems, it didn't start this way. His childhood was filled with neglect, abuse and traumas that could lead anyone on the path to drinking and addiction. Bobby is no stranger to hardship and challenges, but he uses these experiences to connect and relate to others, using his past hardship as a way to help others. Bobby is also the former head of training and development at David Barton Gym, former director of professional development at the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), content curator for PTontheNet, development consultant for various companies including Hilton Hotels, Virgin Active, Equinox, David Lloyd Leisure and multiple businesses nationally and abroad. 

With his forward-thinking mindset and work ethic, Bobby champions practical programs that help both corporate and industry personnel, including individuals, get what they truly want. He advocates the process of change mixed in with the mantra of ‘you can be free to play’. 

Interested in Bobby’s work? You can check out his website and listen to his Self-Help Antidote Podcast!

Reach out to Bobby on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram


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Post a review and share it! If you enjoyed tuning in, then leave us a review. You can also share this with your family and friends to offer them one way to rise above their trauma.

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For more episode updates, visit my website. You may also tune in on Apple Podcasts.

To pushing the limits,



Full Transcript

Welcome to Pushing the Limits, the show that helps you reach your full potential with your host, Lisa Tamati, brought to you by

Lisa Tamati: Welcome back to Pushing the Limits, your host Lisa Tamati here, and today I have a fantastic guest all the way from America again, this man goes by the name of Bobby Cappuccio. And he is a world-famous fitness professional. He trains a lot of the trainers that are out there. But Bobby has an incredible story that I really want to share with you today. So, Bobby was born with a severe facial deformity. And he also had deformed legs, and he was given up for adoption. His mother couldn't care for him, and he ended up being adopted by another man. But he had a very, very abusive rough childhood. He also developed Tourette Syndrome at the age of nine. In all this adversity you'd think like ‘oh my gosh, what sort of a life is this guy going to live’? But Bobby has had an incredible life. He's a fitness professional, as I said, he's worked in many gyms. He was the founder and co-owner of PTA Global, which does a lot of the professional fitness development. And he has devised his own strategies and ways of educating people. And his programs are just second to none. When I told my business partner, Neil, that I just interviewed Bobby Cappuccio, he's like, ‘Oh, my God, he's a legend in the space.’ So yeah, he was really a bit jealous that I got to speak to him. So I hope you enjoy this interview. It's some rough topics in there. But there's also some really great gems of wisdom. And the funny thing is what Bobby is just absolutely hilarious as well. So I do hope you enjoy it.

Before we head over to the show, though, just want to let you know that we've launched a premium membership for the podcast. This is a patron membership so that you can become a VIP member of our tribe, help support the podcast. This podcast has been going now for five and a half years. It's a labour of love, I can tell you. It takes up a huge amount of my time and resources in both getting these world-class gifts for you, and also in study and research so that I can talk really, and interview very well all these crazy, amazing doctors, scientists, elite athletes and performers. So if you want to support us in keeping the show going, and like what we do in the world, and you want to keep those valuable content being able to be put out into the world, we'd love your support. And for that, we're going to give you lots of member, premium member, benefits. So, check it out at That’s That’s P-A-T-R-O-N dot Lisa Tamati dot com.

And I just also wanted to remind you about my new anti-ageing and longevity supplement, NMN. I’ve co-worked together with molecular biologist, Dr. Elena Seranova, to make sure that you get the best quality NMN there is now. I searched all over the world for this stuff, when I learned about it, and researched about it, and how it works and what it does in the body, and there is a huge amount of science on it. A lot of it's up on our website, if you want to do a deep dive into all things NMN and the NAD precursor, then check it out. It's all about longevity. It's all about slowing down the ageing process and even reversing the ageing process.

So if that's something that interests you, and you want high performance, you want help with cardiovascular health, with neuro protection, with metabolic disorders, then this is something that you should look into as well. So check that out at, that’s, and go and check that out. The supplements have been so popular that I haven't been able to keep up with orders. So on some of the orders, there is a bit of a backorder. But bear with me while we will scale up production. But go over and check that out at Right over to the show with Bobby Cappuccio.

Lisa: Hi, everyone, and welcome back to Pushing the Limits. Today I have another very, very special guest and I was recently on this gentleman's show and now we're doing a reverse interview. I have Robert Cappuccio with me. Robert, welcome to the show.

Robert Cappuccio: Oh, thank you. When you say you had a very special guest, I thought you were bringing someone else on.

Lisa: You are a really special guest.

Robert: Had a lot of anticipation like who is this person? What a surprise!

Lisa: Well, you're a bit of an interesting character. Let's say that, throw that.

Robert: Just the microphone.

Lisa: No, I'm really, really interested to hear your story and to share your story with my audience, and to give a bit more of a background on you. And share gems of wisdom from your learnings from your life, because you've done some pretty cool stuff. You've had some pretty hard times and I'd like to share those learnings with my audience today. So Robert, whereabouts are you sitting at the moment, whereabouts are you in the States?

Robert: Okay, so at the moment, I'm in a place called Normal Heights, which is probably a misnomer. It's not normal at all. But it's a really cool, funky neighbourhood in San Diego.

Lisa: San Diego, awesome. And how’s lockdown going over there, and all of that sort of carry on?

Robert: Oh, it’s great. I mean, on St. Patty's day, I've got my skull from our own green. I've just had a few whiskies. So far, so good.

Lisa: This is a very interesting interview.

So can you give us a little bit of background? Because you've had a very interesting, shall we say, difficult upbringing and childhood. And I wanted to perhaps start there and then see where this conversation goes a little.

Robert: Is there any place you want to start, in particular? How far back do you want to go? Do you want to start from the very beginning?

Lisa: Please go right at the very beginning, because you're intro to your backstory is quite interesting from the beginning, really isn't that?

Robert: Okay, so I was born, which is obvious, in Manhattan, and I moved to Brooklyn early. So I was born, rather deformed. I was born with a significant facial deformity. And my lower extremities, my legs, quite never— like, if you saw my legs now, they're great. I have a great pair of legs at this moment. I'm not going to show you that because that would be a little bit rude. But my legs were kind of deformed and contorted. I had to walk with braces for the first couple of years of my life.

I was given up for adoption. I'm not exactly sure, I have the paperwork on why I was given up for adoption, but I'm not really certain about the authenticity of that story. And I wasn't adopted for a while. So as an infant, I was parentless and homeless and really not well-tended to. I'm not going to get into why I say that because it's pretty disgusting. And then I was adopted. And then my adoptive father, this is kind of interesting, he had cancer, and he knew during the adoption process that he was probably not going to make it. He wanted to make sure that I found a home because nobody wanted to adopt me. Because when they came in, I was physically deformed. It's like, ‘Oh, this baby’s, it's broken. Something's wrong. Do you have a better baby’? And when he saw that, he thought, ‘Right, I've got to give this kid a home.’ So he passed.

He passed when I was two. I didn't know him for more than a few months. And I hardly have any memory of him at all. My mother who adopted me, to be fair, she's developmentally disabled, and so she was a single uom with not a lot of skills, not a lot of prospects, terrified. And she basically, I think she met a guy when I was five, who I don't know if there's a diagnosis for him. He was mentally disturbed. He was a psychopath. I don't know if clinically he’s a psychopath, but that's pretty much how it felt.

Lisa: You were a child experiencing this. Yeah.

Robert: Yeah, I'm not like, I'm never sure in what direction to go with stuff like this. Never sure what’s valid, what's relevant. I spent my childhood in stressed positions, being woken up in the middle of the night with a pillow over my face, having bones broken consistently, and a series of rape, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and just every sort of trauma. Like imagine when I was nine years old, I was diagnosed, on top of that, with Tourette Syndrome. So I was physically deformed, going through shit like that at home. And then on top of it, I started losing control of my bodily functions. I started exhibiting tics, I started exhibiting obsessive compulsive behaviour. At some point, it was uncontrollable, like lack of control of my impulses, of the things that I would say, vulgarity. At some point, the doctors just thought that perhaps I was Scottish.

Lisa: And you’re funny as well.

Robert: And they put me on Haldol, which damaged my brain. That and the fact that, it's estimated, I've had at least over a half a dozen major concussions within my childhood —

Lisa: From the abuse.

Robert: — half a dozen to a dozen massive concussions. Yeah.

Lisa: Absolute horrific start into life.

Robert: When I was 10, I started binge drinking. And I thought this will help, this is a solution. But you know what? It's not. It's a little bit weird when you start a story off like this, because in some sense, it's not me being delusional, or Pollyanna, because I tend to think that I'm a little bit of a realist, sometimes too much, sometimes to the point of walking a fine edge between being hopeful and being a cynic. But I have to say that a lot of things that I experienced when I was growing up, turned out to be quite beneficial. It’s shaped me in a way and it helped me engage in certain career paths and certain activities that I don't think I really would have sought out, had this stuff not happened. So it's not like me, delusionally trying to create like all silver lining about stuff, it was shit. I understand the severity of what I went through. But I also understand where that led me. And I understand the good fortune that I had of running into certain people that resonated with me, and I resonated with them, largely in part because of my history. I don't think I would have related to these people had I not come from where I came from.

Lisa: So you’re talking like people along the way that were, ended up being mentors, or teachers or friends or helping you out and through these horrific situations? Is that what you're meaning, sort of thing that would actually helped you? Because I mean, given a background like that, if you were a complete disaster and drug addict, and whatever, nobody would blame you.  You didn't have a good start in life, whatsoever. I mean, look at you now. Obviously you don't have any facial deformities, and you don't exhibit, right now, any of that stuff that actually you were and have been through. So how the hell did you get to where you are today? Because you're a very successful person, you have a very successful and a very strong influence in the world. What, how the heck do you go from being that kid, with brain problems and concussions and Tourette’s and abuse and rape and all of that, to being the person who comes across as one, number one, hilarious, very crazy and very cool?  How the heck do you get from there to there?

Lisa: Just listening to, I can tell that you're someone who's highly intelligent, perceptive and an amazing judge of humour. So thank you for that. I think a lot of it was quite accidental.

So I had thought when I was younger, that I wanted to be a police officer, originally. And I wanted to be involved with special victims, even before that was a TV show. Brilliant show, by the way, one of my favourite shows on TV. But even before that was the TV show, I thought, if I'm going through what I went through, and it's very hard because I had Child Services in New York City, they were called ACS. They were at my house consistently. But the problem is, I believed at a young age that my stepfather was nearly invincible, like nobody could touch him.

Lisa: You were powerless against him. Yeah.

Robert: And when they came to the house and like, look, I had broken bones, my arm was in a sling. A lot of times, I broke my tibia. They won't take me to the hospital because they thought they would suspect stepdad of doing it. I couldn't even walk. And these people were sitting down, said, ‘Well just tell us what happened.’ And I somehow knew that, at a critical moment, my adopted mother would falter. She would not have my back. She would rescind on everything she says.

Lisa: She was frightened too, no doubt.

Robert: She was frightened. I don't think she had the emotional or intellectual capacity to deal with the situation. That's all I'll say on that. But I knew once they left, I just knew they couldn't do anything, unless I was all-in. And if anything went wrong, he would kill me. So I would have to just say that, ‘Well, I fell.’ And it’s like, there's no way a fork, like I would go into camp and I would have stab wounds in the shape of a fork. And people are like, ‘What happened?’ And I said, ‘I was walking, and I tripped, and I fell onto a fork that went through my thigh and hit my femur.’ It's like, okay, that's just not possible. But I kind of knew. And I kind of felt like nobody's coming to the rescue. And I thought, if I was a police officer, and I was worked with special victims, maybe I could be the person that I always wished would show up for me. But then, there were issues with that. So I think I got like, out of a possible 100 on the police test. I did fairly well. I think I got 103, there were master credit questions. And I thought, right, yeah, I'm going. And then I took the psychological and by some weird measure, I passed, that seems crazy to me now. It kind of seems problematic. I think they need to revisit that. But then when I took the medical, and with Tourette's, it was kind of like, ‘Ah, yeah.’ It was a sticking point. So I had to petition because otherwise I would be disqualified from the employment police department.

And during that time, I started working in the gyms. And when I was working the gyms, I kind of thought, there's no way I'll ever be as intelligent as some of these other trainers here. I'm just going to make up with work ethic what I lack in intellect. I would run around and just tried to do everything I could. I would try to clean all the equipment, make sure that the gym was spotless. But again, kind of like not like having all my wits about me, I would be spraying down a machine with WD-40. And what I didn't account for is, the person who was on the machine next to me, I'd be spraying him in the face with WD-40 when he was exercising.

Lisa: They still do that today, by the way. The other day in the gym and the girl next to me, she was blind, and she was just spraying it everywhere. I had to go and shift to the other end of the gym, is that right, cause I don't like that stuff.

Robert: I mean, in my defence, the members were very well-lubricated. And so, people would go upstairs, and like there is this fucking trainer just sprayed me in the face. And the owner would say, ‘All right, let me see who this guy is. What do you talk? This doesn’t even make sense? Who hired this guy?’ We kind of had like the old bowl, the pin. And like you could walk up top and look down into the weight room, and there I was just running around. And there was something about someone running around and hustling on the gym floor that made him interested. He's like, ‘Get this kid up into my office. Let me talk to him.’ And that forged a friendship. I spoke to him yesterday, by the way. So we've been friends for like three decades. And the owner of the gym became kind of like a surrogate dad. And he did for me what most guides do and that is when you know that there's somewhere you want to go, but you don't know exactly where that is, and you don't have complete confidence in your ability to get there. And what a good guy does is they help you go just as far as you can see, because when you get there, you'll see further. And that's what Mitchell did for me. And he was different because I have a lot of adults.

So I grew up with not only extreme violence in the home, but I grew up in Coney Island. I grew up living on the corner of Shit Street and Depressing. And there was a constant violence outside the home and in school and I got picked on. And I got bullied until I started fighting, and then I got into a lot of fights. And you just have these adults trying to talk to you and it's like, you don't fucking know me. You have no idea where I come from. You can't relate to me. When you were growing up, you had a home, you were being fed. You were kind of safe, don't even pretend to relate to me. And he was this guy, who, he was arrested over a dozen times by age 30, which was not why I chose him as a mentor. But he had gone through some serious shit. And when he came out on the other end of it, he wanted to be somebody other than his history would suggest he was going to be, and he tried harder at life than anybody I had ever met. So one, I could relate to him, I didn't think he was one of these adults who are just full of shit. I was impressed at how hard he tried to be the person he wanted to be. So there was this mutual respect and affinity, instantly.

Lisa: Wow. And he had a massive influence. And we all need these great coaches, mentors, guides, surrogate dads, whatever the case may be, to come along, sometimes in our lives. And when they do, how wonderful and special that is, and someone that you could respect because like you say, I've had a wonderful childhood. In comparison to you, it was bloody Disneyland, and so I cannot relate to some of those things. And I have my own little wee dramas, but they were minor in comparison to what you experienced in the world. So how the heck can I really help you out if you're a young kid that I'm trying to influence. And not that you have to go through everything in order to be of help to anybody, but just having that understanding that your view, your worldview is a limited, privileged background. Compared to you, my background is privileged.

Robert: Well, I don't think there's any ‘compared to you’. I think a lot of my reaction to adults around me who tried to intercede — one, if your intercession doesn't work, it's going to get me hurt, bad, or it's going to get me killed. There have been times where I was hung out of an 18-storey window by my ankles.

Lisa: You have got to be kidding me.

Robert: Like grabbing onto the brick on the side of the building. I can't even say terrified. I don't even know if that encapsulates that experience as a kid. But it's like you don't understand what you can walk away from once you feel good about interceding with this poor, unfortunate kid. I cannot walk away from the situation that you're going to create. So it was defensive mechanism, because pain is relative. I mean, like, you go through a divorce, and you lose this love and this promise, and somebody comes along, ‘Oh there are some people in the world who never had love, so you should feel grateful’. You should fuck off because that's disgusting. And that is totally void of context. I don't think somebody's pain needs to compare to another person's pain in order to be relevant. I think that was just my attitude back then because I was protecting my existence. I've really changed that perspective because, like, my existence isn't threatened day to day anymore.

Lisa: Thank goodness.

Robert: So I have a different take on that. And I understand that these adults were well meaning, because I also had adults around me, who could have probably done something, but did nothing. And I don't even blame them because my stepfather was a terrifying person. And the amount of work and energy, and the way the laws, the structure, and how threatening he was, I don't blame them. And me? I’ll probably go to prison. But I don't blame them for their inaction.

Lisa: Yeah, and this is a problem. Just from my own experiences, like I said, this is not even in childhood, this is in young adulthood, being in an abusive relationship. The dynamic of the stuff that's going on there, you're frightened to leave. You know you are going to be in physical danger if you try and leave. So, I've been in that sort of a position but not as a child. But still in a position where people will think, ‘Well, why don't you just go?’ And I’m just like, ‘Have you ever tried to leave someone who's abusive? Because it's a very dangerous thing to do.’ And you sometimes you’re like, just, you can't, if there's children involved, even, then that's even worse. And there's complicated financial matters. And then there's, whatever the case may be or the circumstances that you're facing, it's not cut and dried. And as an adult, as a powerful woman now, I wouldn't let myself be in a position like that. But I wasn't that back then. And you weren't because well, you were a child. See, you're even more.

Robert: I just want to comment on that a little bit. And this is not coming from clinical expertise. This is just coming from my own interpretation experience. I think, obviously, that when a child goes through this, you would think, ‘Okay, if this started at age five, what could you have done?’ But a lot of times we do look at, let's say, women who are in severe domestic violence situations, and we say, ‘Well, how could you have done that? How could you have let somebody do that to you’? And I think we need to really examine that perspective. Because powerful, confident, intelligent women might be especially susceptible.

Lisa: Apparently, that’s the case.

Robert: Because you have a track record, and you have evidence to support that you are capable, and you're intelligent, and you find yourself in a situation that you didn't anticipate. And I think it's easier to gaslight someone like that. Because it's like, ‘How could I have had a lapse — is it me?’  And it creeps up on you, little by little, where you doubt yourself a little bit more, a little bit more, and then you become more controlled and more controlled. And then your perspective on reality becomes more and more distorted. So I think we have to be very careful when an adult finds themselves, yes, in that position, saying, ‘Well, why didn't you just leave? How could you have let yourself very easily?’

It can happen to anyone, especially if you have a strong sense of confidence and you are intelligent, and because it becomes unfathomable to you, how you got into that situation.

Lisa: Looking back on my situation, which is years and years ago now, and have no consequences to the gentleman that I was involved with, because I'm sure he's moved on and hopefully, not the same. But the fact that it shifted over many years, and the control shifted, and the more isolated you became. I was living in a foreign country, foreign language, unable to communicate with my family, etc., etc. back then. And you just got more and more isolated, and the behaviour’s become more and more, more radical ways as time goes on. It doesn't stop there. Everybody's always lovely at the beginning. And then, as the power starts to shift in the relationship — and I've listened to a psychologist, I’ve forgotten her name right now, but she was talking about, she works with these highly intelligent, educated women who are going through this and trying to get out of situations where they shouldn't be in. And she said,  ‘This is some of the common traits. They're the types of people who want to fix things, they are the types of people who are strong and they will never give up.’ And that is actually to their detriment, in this case. And I'm a very tenacious type of person. So, if I fall in love with someone, which you do at the beginning, then you're like, ‘Well, I'm not giving up on this person. They might need some help, and some, whatever’. And when you're young, you think you can change people, and you can fix them. And it took me a number of years to work out and ‘Hang on a minute, I haven't fixed them, I’ve screwed myself over. And I've lost who I am in the process.’ And you have to rebuild yourself. And like you and like your case is really a quite exceptionally extreme. But like you, you've rebuilt yourself, and you've created this person who is exceptional, resilient, powerful, educated, influential —

Robert: And dysfunctional.

Lisa: And dysfunctional at the same time. Hey, me, too.

Robert: And fucked up in 10 different ways.

Lisa: Yeah. Hey, none of us have got it right. As our mutual friend, Craig Harper would say, ‘We're just differing degrees of fucked-up-ness’.

Robert: That would be spot on.

Lisa: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And totally, some of the most high functioning people that I get to meet, I get to meet some pretty cool people. There's hardly any of them that don't have some area in their life where they've got that fucked-up-ness that's going on, and are working on it, because we're all works in progress. And that's okay.

Robert: The thing you said that I really caught is you lost your sense of self, and the isolation. And that is what abusers do, is progressively they start to isolate, and create enemies out of strong alliances and allies. And when you lose your sense of self, and you're so isolated — because as much as we want to be strong and independent, we are highly interdependent, tribal people. We form and calibrate, we shape our sense of identity and the context in which we navigate through the world off of one another. And when you're isolated with a distance sense of reality and you lose your sense of self, you become highly incapacitated to take action in this situation. And you develop, I think what Martin Seligman, called learned helplessness. And I think assigning fault or blame or accusation either to yourself or doing that to somebody else, not only does that not help, it stops people from coming forward. Because it reinforces the mental state that makes them susceptible to perpetual abuse in the first place.

Lisa: Yeah, it's so true. So how did you start to turn around? So you meet Mitchell, Mitchell was his name, and he started to be a bit of a guiding light for you and mentor you, and you're in the gym at this phase stage. So, what sort of happened from there on and? So what age were you at this point, like, your teenage years, like teenagers or?

Robert: I met Mitchell  when I was like 19 years old. And what he allowed me to do, and it wasn't strategies, he allowed me to focus outside of myself. Because every emotion, every strong emotion you're feeling, especially in a painful way, resides within you. So if you feel a sense of despair, or you feel disgust, or loneliness, or isolation, or any type of pain, and you would look around your room and go, ‘Well, where's that located? Where's my despair? I searched my whole desk, I can't find it’. It's not there. It's not in your outer world. It's your inner world. And what he gave me the ability to do is say, ‘Okay. I grew up physically deformed. And despite everything I was going through, my physical deformities were one of the most painful things’. But the irony, more painful than anything else because you could see me out in the shops and go, ‘Okay, this is a person who has been severely physically sexually abused, who's suffered emotional trauma’. You could see that as I walk through the aisles, because you say, ‘Okay, this is someone who doesn't look right. This is someone who —', and I can see the look of disgust on people's face when they saw me physically. And then there’s nowhere to hide, you couldn’t mask that. I started thinking, ‘Well, what about people who feel that about their physical appearance and they don't require surgery? What are they going through? And how do I focus more on them? How do I take a stand for that person? What's the areas of knowledge? What are the insights? What are the resources that I can give these people to be more resourceful in finding a sense of self and finding their own way forward?’

Lisa: Being okay with the way that they are, because it must be just—

Robert: People are okay with the way they are, seeing an ideal version of themselves in the future. And engaging the behaviours that helps them eventually bridge that gap, where their future vision, at some point, becomes their current reality. So I started focusing on things and a mission and people outside of myself, who's going through something similar to what I have gone through, even if it's not precisely the same situation? How do I help them find their way out? And by helping them find their way out, I found my way up.

Lisa: Wow, it's gold. And that's what you ended up doing then, and within the gym setting, or how did that sort of work out from there?

Robert: Well, I became a trainer. And in the beginning, I was like an average trainer. But I became, what Mitchell called, like the person who saved people. I never saved anyone; you can't change anyone but yourself. But the reason why he called me that is, anytime someone would think about joining the gym, if they would sit down with someone, they approached it from, ‘Well, what can we do? Can we give you a couple of extra months? Can we give you a guest pass to invite some —‘. They approached it from a transactional perspective, where when I sat down with these people, I approached it from a transformational perspective. ‘What did you want most? What do you want most in your life in this moment? And what hasn't happened? What missed? What was the disconnect? Where have we failed? What did you need that was not fulfilled in your experience here and how do we give you those resources? How do we support you going forward?’ And it was also like, ‘Look, if you want to leave, we totally respect that. You've given us a chance to help you. And obviously, the fault was ours. I never blamed anyone. But if you had the chance to do it again, what would have made the difference? And give us that opportunity’. It’s like, ‘Oh, this person is like a retention master’. It's not that, my focus wasn't in retention, it was the intention rather, to relate to the individual in front of me. 

Lisa: I’m hearing about the actual person and their actual situation and their actual wishes and goals, rather than, how can I sweeten the deal so you don't leave?

Robert: Precisely, and that had some unintended consequences, because it put me in a bad situation, because I got promoted against my will. And I didn’t want to get promoted. And I thought, ‘I'm just getting a reputation for being somewhat good in my current job. And now they're going to promote it to my level of incompetence. And now I'm going to disappoint Mitchell, he's going to find out this kid's actually an idiot, he's a fraud — ‘I was wrong.’ And the one person who believed in me, I'm going to lose his trust and his faith, and that's going to be damaging.’ So me being promoted into management led to a series of unpredictable events that shaped my entire career.

Lisa: Okay, tell us about that. Tell us about it. So you were pushed out of your comfort zone, because you just got a grip on this thing, the crazy worker.

Robert: So Mitchell had a consultant, and his name was Ray. His name still is Ray, coincidentally. And he said, ‘Yeah, I think you should promote Bobby, just a small promotion to head trainer. Not like fitness manager, just head trainer’. And when they approached me, it was almost like they told me like, I had to euthanise my pet. It was horrible. I was not excited about this. I was like, ‘Oh, thanks. But no, thanks. I love where I'm at.’

Lisa: Yep. ‘I didn’t want to grow.’

Robert: Well, they had a response to that. They said, ‘There’s two directions you can go in this company, you could go up, or you can go out’. And they fired me that day.

Lisa: Wow! Because you wouldn’t go up?

Robert: They’re like, ‘You've chosen out. And that's okay. That's your decision’. And I was devastated. Like that my identity is connected to that place. And on my way out the door, Mitchell's like, ‘Come into my office.’ And he’s sitting across from me, and he kind of looked like a very muscular, like an extremely muscular version of Burt Reynolds at the time, which was very intimidating, by the way. And he puts his feet up on the desk, and he's leaning back, and he's eating an apple. He says, ‘You know, I heard a rumour that you're recently unemployed. And so I would imagine, your schedules opened up quite a bit this week. You know, coincidentally, we're interviewing for a head trainer position. You might want to come in and apply because you've got nothing to lose’. What a complete and total cock. And I say that, with love, gratitude, gratitude, and love. So I showed up —

Lisa: Knew what you needed.

Robert: I remember, I showed up in a wrinkly button-down shirt, that is not properly ironed, which was brought to my attention. And I got the job. And I was the worst manager you've ever met in your life because first of all, my motivation was not to serve my team. My motivation was not to disappoint Mitchell. And that was the wrong place for your head to be in, if you have the audacity to step into a leadership position. Whether you tell yourself you were forced into it or not, fact of the matter is ‘No, I could have chosen unemployment, I would have done something else. I chose this. Your team is your major responsibility.’ And that that perspective has served me in my career, but it well, it's also been problematic. So I had people quitting because for me, I was in the gym at 5am. And I took two-hour breaks during the afternoon and then I was in the gym till 10 o'clock at night, 11 o'clock at night. I expected you to do the same thing. So, I didn't understand the worldview and the needs and the aspirations and the limitations and the people on my team. So people started quitting.

I started doing horribly within my position. And then Mitchell brought in another consultant, and he gave me some advice. I didn't take it as advice at the time, but it changed everything. And it changed rapidly. This guy's name is Jamie, I don’t remember his surname. But he sat me down and he said, ‘So I understand you have a little bit of trouble’. Yeah, no shit, man. Really perceptive. ‘So, just tell me, who do you work for?’ So, ‘I work for Mitchell’. He said, ‘No, no, but who do you really work for?’ I thought, ‘Oh. Oh, right. Yeah. The general manager of the gym. Brian, I work for Brian’. So nope, who do you really work for? I thought it must be the fitness manager, Will. So, ‘I work for Will’. He’s like, ‘But who do you work for?’ And now I'm starting to get really irritated. I'm like, yeah, this guy's a bit thick. I don't know how many ways I can explain, I've just pretty much named everybody. Who do you reckon I work for? He said, ‘No, you just named everyone who should be working for you?’

Lisa: Yeah, you got that one down.

Robert: ‘Have a single person you work for? Who are your trainers?’  He said, ‘Here, let me help you out. Imagine for a second, all of your trainers got together, and they pooled their life savings. They scraped up every bit of resource that they could to open up a gym. Problem is, they're not very experienced. And if they don't get help, they're going to lose everything. They're going to go out of business. They go out and they hire you as a consultant. In that scenario, who do you think you'd work for?’ I was like, ‘Oh, I'm the one that's thick. I've worked for them’. Because in every interaction you have, it made such a dip because it sounds counterintuitive. But he said, ‘In every meeting and every interaction, whether it's a one-on-one meeting, team meeting, every time you approach someone on the floor to try to help them, or you think you're going to correct them, come from that perspective and deliver it through that lens’. And things started to change rapidly. That was one of two things that changed.

The second thing that changed is Mitchell believed, because he would listen to self-help tapes, it inspired him. So he would have me listen to self-help tapes. And he believed that oration in front of a group public speaking was culturally galvanising. And in a massive team meeting where we had three facilities at the time, where he brought in a couple of hundred people for a quarterly meeting. He had me stand up and speak. Oh, man. I know you've done a lot of podcasting and you do a lot of public speaking in front of audiences. You know that experience where you get up to speak but your brain sits right back down?

Lisa: Yeah. And you're like, as Craig was saying the other day, ‘It doesn't matter how many times you do it, you're still absolutely pecking yourself.’ Because you want to do a really good job and you go, ‘This is the day I'm going to screw it up. I'm going to screw it up, even though I've done it 10,000 times. And I’ve done a brilliant job. Then it’s coming off.’

Robert: If you’re not nervous in front of an audience, you've got no business being there. That is very disrespectful. I agree with that. I mean, this is coming from, in my opinion, one of the greatest speakers in the world. And I'm not just saying that because Craig's my mate, and he gives me oatmeal every time I come out to Melbourne. I'm saying that because he's just phenomenal and authentic in front of a room. But I had that experience and I'm standing up brainless in front of the room. And as I start to realize that I am choking. I'm getting so nervous. Now this is back in the 1990s, and I was wearing this boat neck muscle shirt that said Gold's Gym, and these pair of workout pants that were called T-Michaels, they were tapered at the ankles, but they ballooned out. You know the ones I’m talking about? And I had a lot of change in my pocket. And all you hear in the room, as my knees were shaking, you can hear the change rattling, which wasn't doing anything for my self-confidence. And just instantly I was like, ‘Right, you're either going to epically fail at your job right here. Or you are going to verbatim with intensity, recite word for word, like everything you remember from Dennis Waitley’s Psychology of Winning track for positive self-determination’. Sorry, Dennis, I did plagiarize a bit. And I said it with passion. Not because I'm passionate, because I knew if I didn't say it with fierce intensity, nothing but a squeak will come out of my mouth,

Lisa: And the jingle in the pocket

Robert: And the jingle in the pocket. And at the end of that, I got a standing ovation. And that’s not what moved me.

Lisa: No?

Robert: What moved me was weeks ago, I was clueless in my job. I got this advice from Jamie on, ‘You work for them. They are your responsibility. They are entrusted to you. Don’t treat people like they work for you.’ Now I had this, this situation happened. And my trainers avoided me a month ago when I got promoted. But now they were knocking on my office door, ‘Hey, can I talk to you? Would you help me’? And it just clicked. The key to pulling yourself out of pain and suffering and despair is to focus on lifting up others.

Lisa: Being of service.

Robert: That was it. I thought I could be good at something. And what I'm good at is not only, it's terrifying before you engage in it, but it's euphoric after, and it can help other people. I can generate value by developing and working through others.

Lisa: This is like gold for management and team leaders and people that are in charge of teams and people is, and I see this around me and some of the corporations where get to work and consultants stuff is this was very much this top-down mentality. ‘I'm the boss. You’re doing what I say because I'm the boss’. And that doesn't work. It might work with 19-year-olds who have no idea in the world.

Robert: It reeks of inexperience. You think you're the boss because you've had certain qualities, and that's why you got promoted — do what I say. You are a detriment to the company — and I know how many people are fucked off and calling bullshit. I don't care. I mean, not to toot my own horn. Like anything I've ever accomplished, I've learned I have accomplished through hiring the right people and having a team that's better than me. But I’ve been in so many management positions, from the very bottom to the very top of multiple organizations I've consulted all over the world, you are only as good as your team. And to borrow from the late great Peter Drucker, ‘The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer. And your most valuable customer’s your internal customer, the team that you hire. Because unless you are speaking to every customer, unless you are engaging with every customer complaint, unless you are engaging in every act of customer service on your own —' which means your business is small, which is fine. But if it's a lot, you're not ‘— you could scale that, it is always your team. And your job is to create and keep your internal customer by serving them with, at the very least, with the same tenacity, sincerity and intention that you are serving your external customer. If you don't do that, you're going to be shit as a leader. And honestly, I don't give a fuck what anybody thinks about that. Because I have heard so many opinions from people who are absolute — they've got a ton of bravado, they beat their chest, but they are ineffective. And it's extraordinary what you can accomplish when you know how to be, number one, hire the right person. Number two set expectations clearly — clearly, specifically. Number three, understand what motivates each individual, as an individual person and as a team, and then develop that team's capacity individually and collectively to channel that capability towards the achievement of a common vision, of a common monthly target. Period.

Lisa: Wow. So that's just, that’s one whole lot going on in one.

Robert: That is leadership in a nutshell.

Lisa: Yeah. And this is the tough stuff because it's easier said than done. I mean, I'm trying to scale our businesses and grow teams and stuff. And number one, hiring the right people is a very big minefield. And number two, I've started to realize in my world that there's not enough for me to go around. I can't be in 10 places and 10 seats at once. You're getting overwhelmed. You're trying to help the universe and you're one person, so you're trying to replicate yourself in the team that you have, and provide the structure. And then you also need those people where you're weak, like I'm weak at certain aspects. I'm weak at technology, I'm hopeless at systems. I know my weaknesses. I know my strengths, so.

Robert: I resemble that comment.

Lisa: Yeah, In trying to get those people where you, that are better than you. Not as good, but better than you. And never to be intimidated because someone is brilliant at something. They're the ones you want on your team, because they are going to help with your deficits. And we've all got deficits and blind spots and things that we're not good over we don't love doing. And then trying to develop those team members so that you're providing them and treating them respectfully, looking after them, educating them. And that takes a lot of time too, and it's really hard as a smallish business that's trying to scale to go from there wearing a thousand hats. And a lot of people out there listening will be in similar boats as ours, like, wearing a hundred hats and trying to do multitasking, getting completely overwhelmed, not quite sure how to scale to that next level, where you've got a great team doing a whole lot of cool stuff. And then realizing the impact that you can have as tenfold or a hundredfold.

Robert: Absolutely. And I'm not really a good business person, per se, like I've owned a few businesses myself, I've worked within quite a few businesses. And I think what I'm good at, and this goes back to another person that I worked for shortly after Gold's Gym. So Gold's Gym was sold, that's a whole story you don't need to get into. This is an interesting guy. I was doing consulting, I was just going out and doing public speaking, I had independent clients. And I crossed paths with an individual named David Barton. This is someone you should get on your podcast. Talk about an interesting individual. And David Barton had the one of the most unique and sexy edgy brands in New York City. And that's when you had a lot of competition with other highly unique, sexy, edgy brands. And he was the first person — he coined the phrase, ‘Look better naked,’ it was actually him. That's the guy. It was on the cover of New York Magazine. I mean, he was constantly, like his club in Vogue, at Harper's Bazaar, he ended up hiring me as his head of training. And his company at that time in the 1990s, which is quite the opposite of the mentality, the highest position you could ever achieve in his company was trainer. It was all about the training, and it made a difference culturally, and it made a difference in terms of like we were probably producing more revenue per club and personal training at that point than almost anyone else in the world, with the exception of maybe Harpers in Melbourne. So this is how far me and Craig go back actually.

Lisa: Wow. It’s that right.

Robert: Yeah, because we had found out about each other just a few years after that.

Lisa: Some of that Craig Harper.

Robert: Craig Harper, yeah, when he had his gyms. So we were introduced by a guy named Richard Boyd, a mutual friend who's like, you got to meet this guy, because he's doing what you were doing. And it all started when I went into David Barton gym, and I just thought, this is a different world. This is another level. Am I in over my head? So again, it was that doubt, it was that uncertainty.

Lisa: The imposter syndrome. 

Robert: But I did. Yeah, and I think we all have, and I think the only people who don't have imposter syndrome are imposters. Because if you're fraudulent, you wouldn't engage in the level of self-honesty, and humility and conscientiousness, to go ‘Am I fraudulent, is there something that I’m missing’? Only a con artist never considers whether or not they're fraudulent, it's ‘Does that keep you stuck? Or does that help you to get better and more authentic, more sincere?’

So I had the presence of mind to ask David a very important question. And I said, ‘David, if there was like two things, or three things that I can do in this company, exceedingly well, what two or three things would best serve the member, the company as a whole, and of course, my career here with you?’ And David leaned back and he did one of these dozens of things he gave me, literally. And he sat there for — it must have been like five seconds — it felt like an eternity and I'm thinking, ‘Oh my god, that that was the stupidest question I could possibly ask. He probably thinks I should have this whole, like sorted out. After all, he hired me, or am I going to get sacked today?’ And then I was like, ‘I can't get sacked. My house just got ransacked by the FBI’. That was a totally different story. He comes, he leans forward. And he says, ‘Two things. Two things you got to do. Number one,’ and a paraphrase, but it was something very similar to, ‘I want you to be a connoisseur of talent, like a sommelier is a connoisseur of wine. I want you to hire interesting, and great trainers. That's number one.’ And he just sat there again. And I'm like, I think it was a power move. Looking back, it was a power move.

Lisa: Using the silence.

Robert: What’s number two, David? And he said, ‘Train the shit out of them. And when you're done with that, here's number three, train them again. Number four, train them again. Number five, train them again.’ And that stuck with me. And a year later, I wound up leaving David Barton, and I come back to work with him periodically over the course of many years, and I personally loved the experience every time. We’re still good friends today. And I went to NASM, and I became a presenter, senior presenter, and eventually I became the director of professional development for the National Academy of Sports Medicine. And I brought that with me. And trust me, there was times when I was quite a weirdo, because I thought quite differently than then a team of educators and clinicians. But it helped, and it served me well, and served me throughout my life. So I am shit at so many aspects of business. But I am really good, and probably because I'm very committed to recruiting people with the same level of insight, precision, intuition and sophistication that a sommelier would approach a bottle of wine.

Lisa: Oh, I need to talk to you about my business at some point. I need the right people because I keep getting the wrong one.

Robert: That, I'm very confident I can help. When it comes to recruiting and selection and hiring and training and development, that is my world.

Lisa: That’s your jam.

Robert: And because anything I've ever accomplished, it's totally through other people. It's because I hired people that were a lot smarter than me. It's funny because that's another piece of advice I got way back in my Gold Gym days, where one of the consultants was in the room and said, ‘You'll be successful to the degree that you're able and willing to hire people that are more intelligent than you’. And Mitchell quipped, ‘That shouldn’t be too hard for you, Bob’. Okay, yeah. Thanks, Mitchell. Yeah.

Lisa: Oh, yeah, nice, friend. You need those ones, don’t you? Hard case ones.

Hey, Bobby, this has been a really interesting and I feel like we probably need a part two because we haven't even touched on everything because you've had an incredible career. And I just look at you and how you how far you've come and there must have been so much that you haven't even talked about, have been all the really deep stuff that you went through as a child —

Robert: No, I've told you everything. There's nothing else.

Lisa: But how the hell did you actually turn your mindset around and how did you fix yourself and get yourself to the point you know where you are today, but I think we've run out of time for today. So, where can people engage with what you do and where can people find you and all of that sort of good stuff?

Robert: Okay, well, I just started my own podcast. It's decent.

Lisa: Which is awesome because I've been on.

Robert: So if you are looking for, like one of the most dynamic, interesting and inspiring podcasts you've ever encountered, go to The You Project by Craig Harper. If you still have time after that, and you're looking for some decent podcast material, go to The Self Help Antidote, that is my podcast. And I'm on Facebook. Social media is not really where I live. It's not where I want to live. It's not where I like to live, but I'm there. I'm on Facebook. I mean the rest of the older generation, yeah, piss off kids. And I'm on Instagram. I'm occasionally on LinkedIn, but not really. I will be on Clubhouse because I got to find the time

Lisa: What the hell is Clubhouse? I'll never come along.

Robert: Clubhouse — you know, it’s funny, I'm going around talking about Clubhouse. I'm promoting Clubhouse. I don't even know exactly how to use it. I don't know what it is. But I've been invited on it a couple of times to join in and to speak in a seminar. I'm like, “This is amazing. This is a game changer. I love it.” I don't even really talk about, but I'm intending to get on Clubhouse. It's one of those things where, it's like you see someone across the room. It's like, I don't know who she is or what she's about, but there's chemistry.

Lisa: We'll have to look in the Clubhouse.

Robert: I just realized, I'm way too excited about Clubhouse but anyway yeah.

Lisa: It's the beginning of a love affair, you always get over excited at the beginning.

Robert: It’s going to burn out quickly. I will wind up using all the social media platforms.

Lisa: So Bobby, so The Self Help Antidote is your podcast. It's the best way to connect to you. You’ve got a website, too, that people can go to?

Robert: Okay, I'm constructing a Self-Help Antidote website. My website developer is moving a lot more slowly than I thought. I'd have to sack them.

Lisa: Welcome to my world. Everything moves slower in the world of, the new world today.

Hey, Bobby, thank you so much for your time. Thanks for sharing so openly and vulnerably about your past, your childhood, some of the dramas that you went through, and I love your sense of humour. I love what you stand for and how you help people, and you help teams be the best that they can be. And I really appreciate you and I'm very glad that Craig has connected us and Tiffany. Thanks, guys. You guys rock. And we'll get you back again, alright then.

Robert: Thank you so much, Lisa.

That's it this week for Pushing the Limits. Be sure to rate, review, and share with your friends and head over and visit Lisa and her team at

May 6, 2021

Becoming a championship medalist — or an Olympic medalist — is an ambitious goal that many athletes dream of. But are we training the right way? In reality, training to be an Olympic runner is more than just stretching your physical limits; it's also about your recovery, mental strength, environment and so much more.  

In this episode, famed Olympic runner Rod Dixon joins us to talk about his journey in becoming an Olympic medalist and his victory at the NYC marathon. He shares why creating a strong foundation is crucial, no matter what you’re training for.   

If you want to learn from and be inspired by one of New Zealand’s greatest runners, then this episode is for you!


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Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Discover the necessary foundation an Olympic runner used to create a solid training base.
  2. Learn to believe in yourself and avoid being influenced by others.
  3. Understand how to build a strong mentality to handle self-doubt and hesitation.


  • Gain exclusive access and bonuses to Pushing the Limit Podcast by becoming a patron! You can choose between being an official or VIP patron for NZD 7 and NZD 15 per month, respectively. Check out the different benefits of each in the link. 
  • Rod’s KiDSMARATHON is a running and nutrition educational programme organised to help children in the United States and the world! Check out his website.
  • Connect with Rob: LinkedIn

Episode Highlights

[05:01] How Rod Grew Up with Running

  • Rod shares that his brother John was a significant part of his running career. John helped coach Rod while Rod was young. 
  • He fondly remembers his time growing up and always running from place to place. 
  • His father used to explore and travel around Australia by bike, while his mother played basketball and did gymnastics. 

[11:42] Early Years of Training 

  • Learn by doing. You can run the same race twice, but don’t expect a different result when you do everything the same. Run differently.
  • Rod grew up loving cross country racing, especially the beach races through dunes. 
  • It was during this time that he was inspired to reach for the 1968 Olympics. His brother, John, immediately put him on a training regimen. 
  • Once you have a goal, you need to know how to reach it and what you’re prepared to do for it.
  • Multiple amazing runners inspired Rod to keep going for his goal. Tune in to find out who!

[19:13] Approach to the Foundations

  • Get the timing right first, not the miles. The foundation is to start with running long and slow. 
  • Rod's brother, John, also helped keep a logbook of his training. This enabled them to narrow down what to improve and work on. 
  • Athletes don’t get better from training; improvement comes from rest and recovery. 
  • Learn to prioritise your health. This will bring more results than just pushing yourself too hard on your training all the time. 
  • Know that there’s a period for different types of training. There will be times when you’ll need to set your foundations and conditioning right first. 

[25:20] Rod’s Journey Towards Becoming an Olympic Runner

  • Getting acclimated to an area is essential to planning an Olympic runner’s training regimen. 
  • With the help of John, Rod realised he was a strength runner. This knowledge became crucial in planning for his races.
  • When you train with runners, it will be a race. Train with marathon runners, and it will be a long and slow run. Choose your training partners based on your needs.
  • Rod’s training with runners helped him learn more than just racing. His nutrition improved, too. 
  • Listen to the full episode for Rod’s exciting account of his Olympic journey—from qualifications to his training! 

[36:47] Handling Self-Doubt

  • Rod shares that he also had bouts of self-doubt. During these times, he would look for his brother John, his mother and his grandmother. 
  • Ground yourself and just run, not for training but to clear your head and be in the moment. 
  • In a lot of things, confidence matters more than ability. The more confident you are, the more it will bring out your ability.  
  • Don’t be influenced by bad habits. 
  • What matters is finishing the race. Finishing in itself is already a win. 

[42:02] Life as a Professional Athlete

  • Training effectively resulted in Rod becoming an Olympic runner, medalist and breaking records. 
  • Rod shares that he works full-time in addition to taking on small jobs to balance the costs. 
  • Tune in to the episode to hear the ups and downs of being an Olympic runner and a professional athlete. 

[50:07] Transition from Short to Long Races

  • After his experiences as an Olympic runner, Rod wanted to focus on cross country and longer races.  
  • Once you have your foundations, you will need to adjust your training for long races. It's not going to be much different from what you're already doing. 
  • Rod shares that he had to work towards the NYC marathon through conquering half marathons and many other experiences. 
  • Build on your experiences and learn to experiment. Rod discusses his training in the full episode! 

[1:04:47] Believe in Your Ability

  • When preparing for a big race, you need to protect your mindset and remember that running is an individual sport — it's all about you. 
  • Don’t be influenced by others. Learn to pace yourself and run your own race. 
  • A race starts long before you set your foot on the track. Listen to the full episode for Rod’s recounting of the NYC marathon. 

[1:21:23] Build and Develop Your Mentality

  • People will often hesitate when they face a hill. When you’re in this situation, just keep going. 
  • Sometimes, some things won’t happen the way you want them to. But certainly, your time will come. 


7 Powerful Quotes from This Episode

‘John would tell me. He said, ‘You know, you've run the same race twice expecting a different result.’ He said, ‘You've got to run differently.’ 

'He said, 'You know, you set a goal, but I won't tell you how to do it. So, you've got to figure out what you're prepared to do. And I think, [it was] then [that] I realised it was my decision making and I had to focus.'

‘You don't improve when you train, you improve when you recover.’

‘Just remember to learn by doing.’

‘I just thought this [the race] is about me. It's not about anybody.’

I learned all that in my road racing. That sometimes, you just can't run away from people, but you can find out their vulnerable moments. And when they would come into a hill, they would hesitate because they’d look up the hill. And that's when you try.’

'My mother had said that sometimes, things won't happen the way you want them to. Sometimes, you know, you're watching this, but your time will come at another point or another time. And I realised then what she was saying when I had one that was my defining moment. It just took longer than average.'


About Rod

Rod Dixon is one of the most versatile runners from New Zealand. For 17 years, Rod continuously challenged himself with races. His awards include a bronze medal from the 1972 Olympic 1500m, two medals from the World Cross Country Championship and multiple 1500m championship titles from the United States, France, Great Britain and New Zealand. But most importantly, he is well-known for his victory at the 1983 New York City Marathon.

Now, Rod is passionate about children's health and fitness due to the lack of physical exercise and nutrition among children. Through KiDSMARATHON, he helps thousands of children learn the value of taking care of their bodies and developing positive life-long habits. The foundation has since made a difference in many children’s lives. 

You can reach out to Rod on LinkedIn


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For more episode updates, visit my website. You may also tune in on Apple Podcasts.

To pushing the limits,



Transcript Of The Podcast

Welcome to Pushing the Limits, the show that helps you reach your full potential with your host, Lisa Tamati, brought to you by

Lisa Tamati: Your host here, Lisa Tamati. Great to have you with me again. And before we head over to this week's exciting guest, just want to remind you, we have launched our premium membership for our patron programme for the podcast. So if you are loving the content, if you're enjoying it, if you're finding benefit in it and you want to help us keep getting this good content out to people, then we would love your support. And we would love to give you some amazing premium membership benefits as well. Head on over to That's P-A-T-R-O-N, and join our exclusive membership club, only a couple of dollars a month. It's really nothing major. But what it does is it helps us make this content possible. As you can imagine, five and a half years of doing this for love, we need a little bit of help to keep this going if we want to be able to get world-leading experts and continue to deliver such amazing content. So if you can join us, we'd be really, really appreciative of it. Head over to

And a reminder, too, if you are wanting help with your health, if you're wanting to up your performance. If you're a runner, and you're wanting to optimise your running, then please check out our programmes, we have our Running Hot Coaching Program, which is a package deal that we have. We make a personalised, customised programme for your next event. Whether it's a marathon or a 5k, it doesn't really matter, or a hundred-miler, we're up for that. And we're actually programming people for even much, much bigger distances than that. So if you want to come and join us over there, we'd love to see you at That's personalised, customised running training programmes that will include everything, from your strength programme, your mobility work, your run sessions, your nutrition, your mindset, all of those sort of great aspects, you get a one-on-one session with me. You get video analysis of how are you running and how can we improve your actual form, plus your customised plan. And if you want ongoing support, then that's available as well. So, check that out at

We also have our epigenetics programme, which is all about testing your genes, understanding your genetics, and how to optimise those genetics. So, eliminating all the trial and error so that you can understand how do you live your best life with the genes that you've been given? What is the optimal environment for those genes? So right food, the right exercise, the right timings of the day, what your dominant hormones are, what social environments will energise you what physical environments, what temperatures, what climates, what places? All of these aspects are covered in this ground-breaking programme that we've been running now for the past few years. It's really a next level programme that we have. So check out our epigenetics programme. You can go to, that's epigenetics, dot peak or just hop on over to my website, if that's a little bit easier, at, and hit the work with us button and you'll see all of our programmes there.

Right over to the show now with an amazing guest who is one of my heroes, a hero from my childhood actually. Now I have Rod Dixon to guest. Rod Dixon, for those who don't know who he is, maybe you were born only in the past 20 years or so, and you really don't know. But if you're around when I was a kid, this guy was an absolute superstar. He is a four-times Olympian; he won a bronze medal at the 1972 Olympics. He's a runner, obviously, he won in the 1500 meters bronze medal. He's won multiple times championships and cross-country running, and who really one of his biggest successes was to win the New York City Marathon and absolute mammoth feats to do back in 1983. So hope you enjoy the insights that Rod Dixon is going to provide for you today. If you're a runner, you will love this one. But even if you just love interesting, amazing people then check out this interview with Rod Dixon.

Lisa: Well, welcome everybody. Today. I have an absolute legend with me on the show. I have Rod Dixon, one of my heroes from way back in the day, Rod, welcome to the show. It's wonderful to have you on Pushing the Limits. Thanks for taking the time.

Rod Dixon: Lisa, thank you. I mean, of course, I've known about you and read about you but this is our first time, and it's come about through the pandemic. So, some good things have come out of this.

Lisa: There’s definitely some good things come out of it. And I've definitely known about you sort of pretty much my entire, since I was a little kid. So you’re one of my heroes back in the day, so I was like, ‘Oh, wow’. And the funny thing is, we got to meet through a friend in America who just happened to know you. And I was talking with them, and they're like, and I'm like, ‘Can you introduce me?’ Via America we've come, but to get you to Kiwi, so wonderful to have you on the show, Rod. 

Rod, you hardly need an introduction. I think people know sort of your amazing achievements as an athlete and runner are many, and we're going to get into them. I think one of the biggest, most incredible things was winning the 1983 New York City Marathon. And that iconic image of you with your hands in the air going, and that guy behind you not such good shape. That's one of the most famous images there is. But Rod, can you tell us a little bit about your story, where you came from, how did that you were such a good runner? Give us a bit of background on you.

Rod: I think, Lisa, I started… I was born in Nelson, and living out at Stoke, which is just not far out. And my brother, John, three years older, he went to Stoke Primary School. And so, I was in a centre, I think. And my mother came out to check on me. And there’s a young Rod, and he sees, and he said in the centre, ‘I'll go and take my shower now’. And that was my chance to then put all the things that I've learned of how to climb over the gate. And I climbed over the gate, then off I went. My mother got the phone call from the Stoke school. ‘Where is your son, Rodney?’ He said, ‘Oh he’s at the back, hanging in the sand’, and she's, ‘No, well, he's down here at the Stokes school with his brother’. Because we used to walk John down to school and walk and go and meet him to walk him back. And so, I knew that way. And here is my chance, so I think, Lisa, I started when I was four years old, when I ran out.

Lisa: When you are escaping? And your brother John. I mean, he was a very talented, amazing runner as well. And actually, he's got into it before you did. Tell us a little bit of his story,  because he was definitely been a big part of your career as well. Tell us about John a little bit.

Rod: Yeah, well, my mother's family were from Mishawaka. They're all farmers. And fortunately, they were tobacco farmers, hot guns, and sheep and cattle. And so, we would be over with the family a lot of the time. And of course, a big farm, and John would always say, ‘Let's go down and catch some eels’ or ‘Let's go chase the rabbits’. And so we're on, outside running around all over time. And I think, then we used to have running races. And John would say, ‘Well, you have 10 yards and say, for 20 yards, 50 yards, and see if you can beat me down to the swing bridge.’ And I would try, and of course he’d catch me. So, there was always this incredible activity between us. And my dad was a very good runner, too. And so, we would go down for our, from the north we’ll go down to the beach for swim. Pretty well, most nights we could walk and run down there. So we would all run down. And then we would run along the beach to the estuary, and run back again. 

And then my dad, of course, he would stride out and just make sure that we knew our packing order. Slowly but surely, you see John waited for his moment where he beat dad. And I think, dad turned around and came back to me and he said, ‘I won't run with John, I'll just run with you’. So, I knew what the story was that I had to do the same, but it took me another couple of years before I could beat my dad. So, running was very much an expression, very much part of us. We’d run to school, we’d run home. I would deliver the newspapers in the neighbourhood, most of the time I would run with dad. So, and then at 12 years old, I was able to join the running club, the Nelson Amateur Athletic Harriot and Cycling Club. There’s three or four hundred in the club, and it was just incredible because it was like another extension of the family. And so we would run on farms and golf courses and at the beach or at the local school, sometimes the golf cart would let us run on the golf club. So, there was this running club. So the love of running was very part of my life.

Lisa: And you had a heck of a good genetics by the sound of it. You were just telling me a story,  how your dad had actually cycled back in the 40s, was this around Australia, something like 30,000 miles or something? Incredible, like, wow, that's and on those bikes, on those days. And what an incredible—say he was obviously a very talented sports person.

Rod: I think he was more of an adventurer. We’ve got these amazing pictures of him with his workers in those days, they have to wear knee high leather boots. He’s like Doctor Livingstone, explorer. And so he was exploring and traveling around Australia, just his diaries are incredible. What he did, where he went, and everything was on the bike, everything.. So, it was quite amazing, that endurance, I think you're right, Lisa...

Lisa: You had it in there.

Rod: ...there’s this incredible thing and genetically, and my mother, she played basketball, and she was very athletic herself and gymnast. So I think a lot of that all came together for us kids.

Lisa: So you definitely had a good Kiwi kid upbringing and also some very, very good genetics, I mean, you don't get to the level that you have with my genetics that much. We're just comparing notes before and how we're opposite ends of the running scale, but both love running. It’s lovely. So Rod, I want to dive in now on to a little bit of, some of your major achievements that you had along the way and what your training philosophies were, the mentors that you had, did you follow somebody and started training? Who were you— so, take me forward a little bit in time now to when you're really getting into the serious stuff. What was your training, structure and stuff like back in the day?

Rod: Well, it's very interesting, Lisa. This was after did, in fact, incredibly, he was working, and with Rothmans, and he would travel the country. And he would come to the running clubs to teach the coaches, to impart his principles and philosophy with the coaches. And my brother being three years older, I think he tended to connect with that more so, as younger kids. And but we were just pretty impressed, and Bill Bailey used to come in as a salesperson, and he would come and we'd all go out for lunch with Bill and he would tell stories. And we were fascinated by that, and encouraged by it, and inspired by it. So, I think what John did, as we started, John will get to Sydney in 1990. And he noticed that young Rodney was starting to — our three favourite words, Lisa, it’s learned by doing. So I would learn from this race and I would adopt something different. I would try. When I knew, I mean, John would tell me, he said,  ‘You've run the same race twice expecting a different result.’ He said, ‘You've got to run differently’. And I would go out train with John and then he would say, ‘Okay, now you turn around and go back home because we're going on for another hour’. So he knew how to brother me, how to look after me or study. 

And so really, as I started to come through, John realised that maybe Rodney has got more talent and ability than I do. So, he started to put more effort into my training and that didn't really come to us about 18. So, he allowed those five, six years just for club running, doing the races, cross-country. I love cross country — and the more mud and the more fences and the more steep hills, the better I ran. And so that cross country running say I used to love running the beach races through the sand dunes. And I love trackless, fascinated with running on the grass tracks because of  Peter Snell and yeah Murray Halberg. And also too fascinated with the books like The Kings Of Distance and of course, Jack Lovelock winning in 1936. One of the first things I wanted to do was to go down to Timaru Boys High School and hug the oak tree that was still growing there, 80 years old now, Lisa because they all got a little oak sapling for the end, and that is still growing at Timaru Boys High School,

Lisa: Wow. That was so special.

Rod: There's a lot of energy from all around me that inspired me. And I think that's what I decided then that I was going to take on the training, John asked me, and I said yes. And he said, ‘What do you want to do?’ And he said, and I said, ‘Well, I just listened to the 1968 Olympics on my transistor radio’ — which I tell kids, ‘That was Wi-Fi, wireless’. And I said, I want to go to the Olympics one day. And he said, ‘Right, well, they know you've made the commitment’. Now, obviously, during the training, John would say, ‘Well, hold on, you took two days off there, what's going on? So, that’s okay’, he said, ‘You set a goal, but I told you how to do it. So you've got to figure out what you're prepared to do’. And I think then I realised it was my decision making and I had to focus.

So I really, there was very, very few days that I didn't comply — not so much comply — but I was set. Hey, my goal, and my Everest is this, and this is what it's going to take.

Lisa: And that would have been the 19, so 1972.

Rod: No, 1968.

Lisa: 1968. Okay.

Rod: So now, I really put the focus on. Then we set the goal, what it would take, and really by 1970 and ‘70 or ‘71, I made the very, my very first Kewell Cross Country Tour. And I think we're finishing 10th in the world when I was just 20. We realised that that goal would be Olympics, that’s two years’ time, is not unreasonable. So, we started to think about the Olympics. And that became the goal on the bedroom wall. And I remember I put pictures of Peter Snell, Ron Clark and Jim Ryun and Kip Keino on my wall as my inspiration.

Lisa: Your visualisation technique, is that called now, your vision board and all that. And no, this was really the heyday of athletics and New Zealand, really. I mean, you had some, or in the 70s, at least, some other big names in the sport, did that help you — I don't think it's ever been repeated really, the levels that we sort of reached in those years?

Rod: No, no. know. It certainly is because there was Kevin Ross from Whanganui. He was 800, 1500. And then there's Dick Tyler, because he went on incredibly in 1974 at the Commonwealth Games, but Dick Quax, Tony Polhill, John Walker wasn't on the scene until about ‘73 right. So, but, here are these and I remember I went to Wanganui to run 1500. And just as a 21-year-old and I beat Tony Polhill who had won the British championships the year before. So we suddenly, I realised that —

Lisa: You’re world class.

Rod: First with these guys, I can — but of course, there were races where I would be right out the back door. And we would sit down with it now, was it tactics, or was it something we weren't doing in training, or was it something we overdid the train. And we just had to work that out. It was very, very feeling based.

Lisa: And very early in the knowledge  like, now we have everything as really — I mean, even when I started doing ultramarathons we didn't know anything. Like I didn't even know what a bloody electrolyte tablet was. Or that you had to go to the gym at all.  I just ran, and I ran slow and I ran long. And back then I mean, you did have some—I mean absolutely as approach what’s your take on that now like looking back and the knowledge we have now that sort of high mileage training stalls. What's your take on that?

Rod: Well, John realised, of course I am very much the hundred mile a week. John realised that and the terrain and I said, ‘I don't want to run on the right job. I just don't like that.’ He said, ‘Okay, so then, we’ll adapt that principle, because you like to run on the cross-country and mounds all around Nelson’. Yeah. And, and so we adapted, and I think I was best around the 80, 85 miles, with the conditioning. There would be some weeks, I would go to 100 because it was long and slow. And we would go out with the run to the other runners. And the talk test showed us how we were doing.

At 17, I was allowed to run them, Abel Tasman National Park. And of course, the track was quite challenging in those days, it wasn’t a walkway like it is now. And so you couldn't run fast. And that was the principle behind bringing us all over there to run long and slow. And just to get the timing rather than the miles.

Lisa: Keep it light then, the time is for us to use it.

Rod: So, he used to go more with time. And then after, we’d come to Nelson and he would give John time. And John would, of course, I would have to write everything down in my diary. And John would have the diaries there. And he would sit with Arthur and I would go through them. And afterwards, we would give a big check, and say that ‘I liked it. I like this, I liked it. I like to see you doing this’.  And because we're still the basic principles of the period with the base as the foundation training, as you go towards your competitive peak, you're starting to narrow it down and do shorter, faster, or anaerobic work and with base track. And John, we just sit straight away, you don't improve when you train, you improve when you recover.

Lisa: Wow, wise.

Rod: Recovered and rest and recovery.

Lisa: Are you listening, athletes out there? You don't get better training alone. You need the rest and recovery, because that's still the hardest sell. That's still the hardest sell for athletes today, is to get them to prioritise the recovery, their sleep, their all of those sort of aspects over there. And like you already knew that back then.

Rod: And I said once again, just remember to learn by doing. So, unless you're going to record what you've learned today, you're not going to be able to refer to that. Sometimes John would say, ‘Ooh, I noticed today that you didn't do this and this. Bring your diary over.’ And on those days, of course, it was a blackboard and chalk. And he would write the titles at the top. And then from our diary, he would put under, he would take out, and he'd put under any of those headings. And then we'd stand back and said, ‘Now look at this. There's three on this one, nine on this one, two on this one, six on this one.’ We want to try and bring the lows up and the highs down. Let's get more consistency because this is your conditioning period. We don't need to have these spikes. We don't need to have this roller coaster. I want to keep it as steady as we can because it's a 8, 10-week foundation period. So those are the ways that we used to be. And John just simply said, he would say, when you wake up in the morning, take your heart rate. Take your pulse for 15 seconds, and write it down. And then he would say ‘Look, the work we did yesterday, and the day before, yesterday, I noticed that there's a bit of a spike in your recovery on Tuesday and Wednesday. So instead of coming to the track tonight, just go out for a long slow run’.

Lisa: Wow and this was before EPS and heart rate monitors, and God knows what we've got available to us now to track everything. So what an incredible person John must have been like, because he also gave up pretty much his potential, really to help you foster your potential because you obviously genetically had an extreme gift. That's a pretty big sacrifice really, isn’t?

Rod: He was incredible. And I just saw him yesterday, actually. And he used to live in the Marlborough Sounds. And of course, now that moved back to Nelson and so it's wonderful. I mean, I would always go down there and see him, and I used to love—well, I wouldn't run around — but I was biking around, all around the Marlborough Sounds, Kenepuru Sound. and I do four- or five-hour bike rides in the head. He says to me, ‘What was your big thing?’ And I said, ‘Well, I saw three cars today, John, for three hours’, and he said, ‘Oh, yes, and two of those were in the driveway’. It was amazing. I just loved down there, but now he's back here we see each other and talk and we go through our bike rides, and we go for a little jiggle, jog, as we call it now.

Lisa: And so he helped you hone and tailor all of this and give you that guidance so that you boost your really strong foundation. So what was it, your very first big thing that you did? Was it then, would you say that for the Olympics?

Rod: I think qualifying — no, not qualifying — but making the New Zealand cross-country team, The World Cross Country Team at 1971. I think that was the defining moment of what we were doing was, ‘Well, this is amazing.’ And so, as I said, 1971, I finished 10th in the world. And then then John said, ‘Well, what are you actually thinking for the Olympics? Are you thinking the steeplechase or the 5000 meters?’ And I said, ‘No, the 1500.’ ‘Why?’ And I said, ‘Oh, Jack Havelock, Peter Snell, John Davies’, and then, he said, ‘Good. You're committed, so let's do it’. Okay. Of course, once I have announced that, then, of course, I got all the — not criticism — but the suggestions from all the, ‘Well, I think Rod's a bit optimistic about the 1500. He hasn't even broken 1’50 for the 800 meters. He hasn't yet been broken 4 minutes for a mile. He wants to go to the Olympics. And I think he should be thinking, and John said, ‘Put the earmuffs on.’

Lisa: That is good advice. Don’t listen to the naysayers.

Rod: Off we go. And then slowly, but surely, I was able to get a lot of races against Dick Quax and Tony Powell, and Kevin Ross, in that. And then I remember, in Wellington at Lower Hutt, I was able to break the four-minute mile, then I got very close in a race to the Olympic Qualifying time. And then of course, you look at qualifications. And a lot of those runners didn't want, they already realised that they hadn't got anywhere near it. So they didn't turn out for the trials. So John gave up any idea of him going to the Olympics. And he said, ‘I'm coming to Auckland to pace you. And this time, you will stay right behind me. And when I move over and say go, go’. And so because we've done a couple of these earlier in the season, and ‘I said that I can sprint later.’ And of course, I missed out at the time, but this was it. And so, he said, ‘Our goal is for you to win the trials and to break the qualification’. And he made it happen. He said, he ran in one second of every lap to get me to 300 meters to go.  When he moved over, and he said ‘Go!’ I got the fight of my life and took off.

Lisa: You wouldn't dare not, after that dedication order. And you qualified you got–

Rod: I won the trials and qualified. And Tony Polhill had qualified in his and he had won the national championship. So he qualified when the nationals and now I've qualified and won the trials. So, they actually, they took us both incredible. He was an A-grade athlete, I was a B-grade athlete. You got everything paid for, be in your head to train.

Lisa: Yes, I know that one. And so then you got to actually go to the Olympics. Now what was that experience like? Because a lot of people, not many people in the world actually get to go to an Olympics. What's it like? What's it like?

Rod: So we went to Scandinavia, and to Europe to do some pre-training. And on those days, we used to say, ‘Well, no, you got to acclimatised’. I mean, nowadays you can kind of go and run within a few days. But in my day, it was three to four weeks, you wanted to have  —

Lisa: That's ideal to be honest.

Rod: Yeah, if they were right.

Lisa: Yeah. Get their time and like that whole jet lag shift and the changing of the time zones, and all of that sort of stuff takes a lot longer than people think to actually work out of the body. So yeah, okay, so now you're at the Olympics.

Rod: So here we were, so and John gave me a written for a track that schedule every day, and this was a training, and he had bounced with knowing that I was going to be flying from London to Denmark. And then, we're going to go to Sweden, and then we're going to go to Dosenbach. And so he expected in all the traveling, all the changes, and really a lot of it was I was able to go out there pretty well stayed with that. Now again, I realised that that wasn't going to work. And but what he had taught me, I was able to make an adjustment and use my feeling-based instinct, saying, ‘What would John say to this?’ John would say this because those all that journey, we'd have together, I learned very, very much to communicate with him. Any doubts, we would talk, we would sit down, and we would go over things. So, he had trained me for this very moment, to make decisions for myself. Incredible.

Lisa: Oh, he's amazing.

Rod: Absolutely.

Lisa: That’s incredible. I'm just sort of picturing someone doing all that, especially back then, when you didn't have all the professional team coaches running around you and massage therapists and whatever else that the guys have now, guys and girls.

Rod: It was the two days he knew that I would respond, it would take me four to five races before I started to hit my plateau. I found early in those days that — see, I was a strength trainer to get my speed. I came across a lot of athletes who had speed to get their strength. And so, what I wrote, I found that when I would go against the speed to street, they would come out of the gate, first race and boom, hit their time.

Lisa: Hit their peak.

Rod:  Whereas, I would take three, four or five races to get my flow going. And then I would start to do my thing. My rhythm was here, and then all of a sudden, then I would start to climb my Everest. I've been new. And so John said, ‘These are the races that the athletic, the Olympic committee have given us. I want you to run 3000 meters on this race, I want you to run 800 meters if you can on this race. If you can't run 800, see if you can get 1000. I don't want you running at 1500 just yet. And so, then he would get me under, over. Under, and then by the time that three ball races, now it's time for you to run a couple of 1500s and a mile if you can. Then, I want you to go back to running a 3000 meters, or I want you to go back out and training’.

Lisa: Wow. Really specific. Like wow.

Rod: He was very unbelievable. Also to that at that time, I had these three amazing marathon runners, Dave McKenzie, our Boston Marathon winner, Jeff Foster, who is the absolute legend of our running, and a guy called Terry Maness. And John said to me, ‘Don't train with quacks and all those other guys. Run, do your runs with the marathon runners’. You see, and they would take me out for a long slow run. Whereas if you went out with the others, you get all this group of runners, then they’d all be racing each other.

Lisa: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Don’t race when you're training

Rod: Your ego. With the pecking order, when you ran with the marathon runners, there was no pecking order.

Lisa: It's all about pacing and —

Rod: And of course, and I would eat with them too because I learned how to eat because they were better eaters than me. I would eat more carbohydrates and more organic foods because it was the long run. I learned to do that. It was interesting because Jack pointed out to me said, ‘Now you see those two guys that were at the track today. And they were doing, and you are quite overwhelmed because they are your competitors and they were doing this incredible workout’. And I said to them, I said, ‘Woop, that what I was up against’. And Jack said, ‘Put it behind you. I want you to come to the dining room with us tonight, and we'll try and see if we can sit with them or near them.’ And I’m sure enough, there they were over there and they were talking. And they were pushing their food all around their plate and they weren't eating much’. And Jack said, ‘Look at you, you've eaten everything, and you're going back for seconds and thirds. If they're not replacing their glycogen, they won’t be able to run very well in a couple of days because they're not eating right’. So that gave me the confidence. Oh, I'm eating better than them. So they may have trained better. And sure enough, you didn't see them at the track. And the coach had taken them off because they were obviously racing too hard, they were racing their and not recovering.

Lisa: Recovering. Yeah, so don't be intimidated. Because it's very easy, isn't it, when you start to doubt your own methods and your own strategies, and you haven’t done it right, and so-and-so's got it better than me, and they're more talented. And this is — all that negative self-talk, and you found a couple of guys to go, ‘Hang on, you've got this part better than they've got.’ What a great sort of mentoring thing for them to have done, to put you in that sort of good headspace. On the headspace thing, how did you deal with the doubts? Did you ever have lots of self-doubts? I mean, I know I certainly I did, where you don't feel good enough. Like you're what am I doing here? The old imposter syndrome type thing? Did that ever rear its head in your world? Or were you able to focus and...?

Rod: No, absolutely, Lisa. I mean, I would often, fortunately, I could go to John with any question. There is nothing, no stone left unturned. He was amazing. Because he sensed it too, by the way, that being that brother, playing and training. And he was very, very connected with me because he would train with me, and he would sense things. And he'd say to me, he said, ‘Oh, you’re a little bit down today, aren’t you?’ and he said, ‘What's happened?’ There are like bit of a bullying going on in school and this or that, or ‘That girl won't talk to me anymore, and I love her’ and that stuff.

Lisa: Yeah, yeah, all that stuff.

Rod: And so he was like Marian, my mother. She was very, very on to me, too. She would sit with me and talk with me. And her mother, my grandmother, amazing, amazing people. And I will say this, right now, when my mother was 95 years old, she asked me to come and sit with her on her birthday. And she held my hand. And she said, ‘You can call me Marian from now on’. And I said, ‘Wow, this is fantastic’. And that was my mother's gift to me because I've always called her mother. I never call her mum. No. Always ‘mother’. And that relationship with my mother was very, very powerful, and it came through in my running. And John would now and again have to kind of toughen me up a little bit — that was incredible balance. So I never had anything that I had, I took to bed with me, I never had anything that I would go out.

Lisa: Get it all out.

Rod: I would say, sometimes, if you're running through the Dan Mountain Retreat. And he said, ‘I know what you get yourself wound up’. He said, ‘Stop, take your shoes off, and hug a tree.’

Lisa: These guys is just so like, what astounds me is that your mom, your brother, these good mentors and coaches that you had were so advanced. And this is the stuff that we’re talking about now, like, I'm telling my athletes to take your shoes off and go and ground yourself every day. And go hug a tree and get out in the sunlight and get away from the screens and do all these basic sort of things. But back then there wasn't that, like, there wasn't all this knowledge that we have now, and they obviously innately just nurtured. It sounds like you had the perfect nurturing environment to become the best version of yourself.

Rod: Yes, I think so, Lisa. I was very, very, — and wonderfully, even in the club, in our running club, get this, our chairman of our running club was Harold Nelson, 1948 Olympian. Our club captain was Carrie Williams, five times Australasian cross-country champion. And they took time to run with us kids. They didn't all go out and race. The club captain and Harold would come down and talk with us kids and we would run. And then, I remember Carrie Williams, when he took us for a run. And he said, ‘Right’. He said, ‘Now there's a barbed wire fence in, there's a gate’. And he said, ‘We've got the flag there and the flag there’. He said, ‘You got a choice of going over the barbed wire fence or over the gate’. He said, ‘Come on, you boys, off you go’. And of course, 9 out of 10 went over the gate. And a friend of mine, Roger Seidman and I, we went over the barbed wire. And then he said, ‘Why did you do that?’ And I said, ‘Because it was shorter.’ And they turned to the others, and he said, ‘I like his thinking’. And he said, ‘You've got to have, to jump over a barbed wire fence, you've got to have 100%, you got to have 90% confidence and 10% ability.

Lisa: And a lot of commitment. That is a good analogy.

Rod: Things like that, all started to, there's this big, big jigsaw puzzle. And all those pieces started to make sense. And I can start to build that picture. And when I started to see the picture coming, I understood what they were telling me. And once again, learn by doing — or another word, another thing that John had above my bed was a sign, ‘Don't be influenced by habits’.

Lisa: Wow, that's a good piece of advice for life. I think I might stick that on my Instagram today, Rod Dixon says.

Rod: And, of course, wonderfully, all these I've carried on with my programme that I did with the LA marathon, and bringing people from the couch to the finish line now. And when I was going through, we're putting through, I started off with five or six hundred. But I got up to over 2000 people. And basically, it's the matter that I used for my kids’ programme is, ‘Finishing is winning. Slow and steady. The tortoise won the race.’

Lisa: Well, that's definitely been my bloody life history, that's for sure. Finishing is winning and the tortoise wins the race. Yeah, if you go long enough, and everyone else has sort of stopped somewhere, and you're still going. That was my sort of philosophy, if I just keep running longer than everybody else, and whatever. Let's go now, because I'm aware of time and everything, and there's just so much to unpack here. I want to talk about the New York City Marathon because it was pretty, I mean, so you did the Olympics. Let's finish that story first, because you got bronze medal at the 1500 at the Olympics. Now, what was that like a massive, life-changing thing to get an Olympic medal? You did it four times, the first time?

Rod: I mean, my goal, and I remember, I've still got a handwritten notes of John. And our goal was to get to the sideline at the first heat. And if you can qualify for the next thing, would we give you this, that, if you're there, this is what we've worked for. And of course, and I remember 1968 again, when I was listening to my transistor radio, to the 1500 meters with Keino and Ryun, Jim Ryun, the world record holder, Kip Keino, Commonwealth champion from Edinburgh in 1970. And here he was, this incredible race, and we were absolutely going in there, listening to it, and it was incredible. And to think they said that four years later, I'm on the start line, and beside me, is Kip Keino.

Lisa: Yeah, it'd be, it’s pretty amazing.

Rod: And then the next runner to come and stand beside me was Jim Ryun, the world record holder and here I am. And I'm thinking because I don't pick it out, when we got the heats, well you've got the world record holder, silver medallist, and you've got the Olympic gold medallist in my race, and only two go through to the next leap. So I'm going for it but I never, I wasn't overwhelmed by that because John has said to me, our goal is, and I wanted to please John by meeting our goal, at least get to the next round. Well, history has shown that Jim Ryun was tripped up and fell and I finished second behind Keino to go through to the next round. And then and then of course, I won my semi-final. So, I was in the final, and this was unbelievable, it’s no doubt is –

Lisa: It’s like you’re pinching yourself, ‘Is this real?’ All that finals and the Olympics. And you ended up third on that race, on the podium, with a needle around your neck on your first attempt in a distance where the people sent you, ‘Yeah, not really suited to this tribe’.

Rod: And what was amazing is that just after we know that we've got the middle and went back to the back, and after Lillian came in into the room to congratulated me and Bill Bailey. And they said, ‘You realise that you broke Peter Snell’s New Zealand record’. And I was almost like, ‘Oh my god, I didn't mean to do that’.

Lisa: Apologising for breaking the record. Oh, my goodness. I'm sure that's just epic. And then you went on to more Olympic glory. Tell us from...

Rod: So at that stage, we went back to… New Zealand team were invited to the Crystal Palace in London for what they called the International Athletes Meet. And it was a full house, 40,000 people, and I didn't want to run the 1500 — or they didn't actually have a 1500 — they had a 3000, or two mark, this right, we had a two-mark. And that's what I wanted to run, the two mark, and that was Steve Prefontaine, the American record holder, and he just finished fourth at the Olympics. And I went out and we had a great race — unbelievable race. I won it, setting a Commonwealth and New Zealand record. He set the American record. And that was just like, now, it was just beginning to think, wow, I can actually run further than 1500.

Lisa: Yeah, yeah, you can. You certainly did.

Rod: So we got invited to go back to Europe at ‘73. And so we have the called, the Pacific Conference Games in ‘73, in Toronto. So, I asked the Athletic people, ‘Can I use my ticket to Toronto, and then on to London?’ Because I had to buy—may they allow me to use that ticket. And then Dick Quax and Tony Polhill said they were going to do the same. And then we had this young guy call me, John Walker. And he said, ‘I hear you guys are going to England. And could I come with you?’ And I said, ‘Yeah’, because he didn't go to the Olympics, but he ran some great races, we thought it was heavy. And he said, ‘Now do you get me the ticket?’ And I said, ‘No, you have to get the ticket’. And he said, ‘Oh, how do I do that?’ And I said, ‘If you, can't you afford it?’, and he said, ‘Not really’. I said, have you got a car? He said, ‘Yes’. I said, ‘Well, sell it’. And he said, ‘Really?’ So he did. And my reasoning is that, ‘John, if you run well enough, you'll get your tickets back again, which means you'll be able to buy your car back again.’ And that was John... 

Lisa:  Put your ass on the line and forward you’re on, because this all amateur sport, back in the day. And it was hard going, like to be a world-class athlete while trying to make a living and  how did you manage all of that, like, financially? How the heck did you do it?

Rod: Well, before I left in ‘73, I worked full time, eight hours a day. I did a milk run at night. I worked in a menswear store on a Friday night. And then of course, fortunately, I was able to communicate with Pekka Vasala from Finland. And he said, ‘We can get you tickets. So the thing is, get as many tickets as you can, and then you can cash them in’. Right. But then, so you get the ticket, of course, there you wouldn't get the full face of the ticket because you were cashing it in. But if you got enough to get around. And you did get expenses, double AF and those rows you're able to get per diem, what they call per diem. Yep. But by the time you came back, you kind of hopefully, you equal, you weren't in debt. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

Rod: Well, then you go back and comment for the Sydney Olympics. Very good friend of mine allowed us to go do shooting and we would go out every weekend and then sell with venison. Yeah. And that was giving another $100 a weekend in, into the kitty.

Lisa: Into the kid. And this is what you do, like to set, I mean, I must admit like when I represented New Zealand, so I did 24-hour racing and it's a ripe old age of 42. Finally qualifying after eight years of steps. And I qualified as a B athlete, I did 193.4 in 24 hours and I had to get to 200. I didn't make the 200, but hey, I qualified. And then we didn't even get a singlet, we, and the annoying thing in my case was that we qualified for the World Champs but they wouldn't let us go to the World Champs. And I've been trying for this for eight years before I could actually qualified. And I was desperate to go to the World Champs and then just on the day that the entries had to be in at the World Champs athletics, New Zealand athletic said, ‘Yes, you can actually go’ and I'm like, ‘Well, where am I going to pull $10,000 out of my back pocket on the day of closing?’ So I didn't get to go to the World Champs, which was really disappointing. So I only got to go to the Commonwealth Champs in England and got to represent my country, at least. Because that had been my dream for since I was a little wee girl, watching you guys do your thing. And my dad had always been, ‘You have to represent your country in something, so get your act together’. And I failed on everything. And I failed and I failed, and failed. And I was a gymnast, as a kid, it took me till I was 42 years old to actually do that and we had to buy our own singlet, we'd design our own singlets, we didn't even  get that. And that was disappointing. And this is way later, obviously, this is only what 2010, 9, somewhere, I can't remember the exact date. And so, so fight, like you're in a sport that has no money. So to be able to like, still has, to become a professional at it, I managed to do that for a number of years, because I got really good at marketing. And doing whatever needed to be done —  making documentaries, doing whatever, to get to the races. So like, even though I was like a generation behind you guys, really, it's still the same for a lot of sports. It's a hard, rough road and you having to work full time and do all this planning. But a good life lessons, in a way, when you have to work really hard to get there. And then you don't take it for granted.

Now, I really want to talk about the New York City Marathon. Because there’s probably like, wow, how the heck did you have such a versatile career from running track and running these,  short distances? It's super high speeds, to then be able to contemplate even doing a marathon distance. I mean, the opposite ends of the scale, really. How did that transition happen?

Rod: Yeah, I think from ‘73, ‘74, I realised that John Walker's and then Filbert Bayi and some of these guys were coming through from the 800,000 meters. And so I knew, at that stage, it was probably a good idea for me to be thinking of the 5000 meters. So that was my goal in 75 was to run three or four 5000 meters, but still keep my hand in the 1500. Because that was the speed that was required for 5000. You realise that when I moved to 5000, I was definitely the fastest miler amongst them, and that gave me a lot of confidence, but it didn't give me that security to think that they can't do it too.

So I kept running, the 800s, 1500s as much as I could, then up to 3000 meters, then up to five, then back to 3000, 1500 as much as I can. And that worked in ‘75. So then we knew that programme, I came back to John with that whole synopsis. And then we playing for ‘76 5000 meters at the Montreal Olympics. Pretty well, everything went well. I got viral pneumonia three weeks before the Olympics.

Lisa: Oh my gosh. Didn’t realise that.

Rod: Haven’t talked about this very much, it just took the edge off me.

Lisa: It takes longer than three weeks to get over pneumonia

Rod: And I was full of antibiotics, of course. It might have been four weeks but certainly I was coming right but not quite. Yeah. So the Olympics ‘76 was a disappointment. Yeah, finishing fourth. I think the listeners set behind the first.

Lisa: Pretty bloody good for somebody who had pneumonia previously.

Rod: Then I went back to Europe. And then from that point on, I didn't lose a race. And in fact, in ‘76, I won the British 1500 meters at Sebastian Coe and  Mo Crafter, and Grand Cayman, and those guys. So, then I focused everything really on the next couple of years, I’m going to go back to cross-country. And I'm going to go back to the Olympics in 1980 in Moscow, this is going to be the goal. And as you know, Lisa, we, New Zealand joined the World Cup. And we were actually in Philadelphia, on our way to the Olympics, when Amelia Dyer came up to John Walker, and I said, ‘Isn’t it just disappointing, you're not going to the Olympics’. And I look at John and go...

Lisa: What the heck are you talking about?

Rod: No, and we don't? New Zealand joined the boycott. So at that stage, they said, ‘Look, we've still got Europe, we can still go on, we can still race’. And I said, ‘Well, I'm not going to Europe. I'm not going to go to Europe and run races against the people who are going to go to the Olympics. What? There's nothing in that for me’. And I said, ‘I heard there's a road race here in Philadelphia next weekend. I'm going to stay here. I'm going to go and run that road race. And then I'll probably go back to New Zealand’.

Well, I went out and I finished third in that road race against Bill Rogers, the four-time Boston, four-time New York Marathon winner, Gary Spinelli, who was one of the top runners and I thought, ‘Wow, I can do this’. And so, I called John, and we started to talk about it. And he said, ‘Well, you really don't have to do much different to what you've been doing. You've already got your base, you already understand that your training pyramid’. He says, ‘You've got to go back and do those periodisation… Maybe you still got to do your track, your anaerobic work.’ And he said, ‘And then just stepping up to 10,000 meters is not really that difficult for you’. 

So, I started experimenting, and sure enough, that started to come. And in those days, of course, you could call every day and go through a separate jar. I had a fax machine, faxing through, and then slowly but surely, I started to get the confidence that I could run 15k. And then I would run a few 10 milers, and I was winning those. And then of course, then I would run a few races, which is also bit too much downhill for me, I'm not good on downhill. So I'll keep away from those steps to select. And then I started to select the races, which were ranked, very high-ranked, so A-grade races. And then I put in some B-grade races and some C. So, I bounced them all around so that I was not racing every weekend, and then I started to get a pattern going. And then of course, I was able to move up to, as I said, 10 mile. And I thought now I'm going to give this half marathon a go. So, I ran the half marathon, I got a good sense from that. And then, I think at the end of that first year, I came back rank number one, road racing. And so then I knew what to do for the next year. And then I worked with the Pepsi Cola company, and they used to have the Pepsi 10K races all around the country. And so I said, I’d like to run some of these for you, and do the PR media. And that took me away from the limelight races.

And so, I would go and do media and talk to the runners and run with the runners and then race and win that. And I got funding for that, I got paid for that because I was under contract. And so I was the unable to pick out the key races for the rest of the set. And then slowly but surely, in 82, when I ran the Philadelphia half marathon and set the world record — that's when I knew, when I finished, I said, ‘If I turn around, could you do that again?’ And I said, ‘Yes’. I didn't tell anybody because that would be a little bit too —

Lisa: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Praising yourself.

Rod: So I just thought I'd make an honest assessment myself. And when I talked to John, he said, ‘How?’ and I said, ‘Yes, I couldn't’. And he said, ‘Well then, we’re going to look at that’.

Lisa: We got some work to do.

Rod: He said, ‘What we will do in 1982, you're going to come back and you're going to run the Pasta Marathon in Auckland, and that was going to be my trial. And Jack Foster was trying to be the first 50-year-old to break 2:20. So, I got alongside Jack and I said, ‘Now this is my first marathon. What do I do?’ And he said, ‘I see all these runners going out there and warming up and I don't want to run 29 miles...

Lisa: For the marathon? I need to do some extra miles warmup.

Rod: ‘Use the first mile as a warmup, just run with me’. I said, ‘That'll do me’. So, I went out and ran with Jack and then we time in, started down to Iraq, and we're going through Newmarket. And he said, ‘I think it's time for you to get up there with the leaders’. He said, ‘You're looking at people on the sidewalk. You're chatting away as if it's a Sunday run. You’re ready to go’.  I said, ‘You're ready?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, go’. And so, alright, because this is Jack Foster.

Lisa: Can't leave him.

Rod: 1974 at 42 years old. Jack said, ‘You can climb Mount Everest,’ I would do it. Yeah. So, I got up with the leaders and join them and out to Mission Bay. And on my way back, and I was running with Kevin Ryun, he who is also one of our legends from runners. And Kevin, he said, ‘We're in a group of four or five’. And he said, he came out, he said, ‘Get your ass out of here’. I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘You're running too easy. Make you break now.’ So I said, ‘Yes. Kevin’.

Lisa: Yes, Sir, I’m off.

Rod: So I ran one that and then that was when I talked with John, that was going to be the guidelines that maybe not another one this year, but certainly look at 83 as running a marathon at some point.

Lisa: How did you work the pacing? Like going from such a shorter distances and then you’re going into these super long distances, where you're pacing and you're fuelling and all that sort of thing comes into it. Was it a big mind shift for you? Like not just sprint out of the gate, like you would in, say, 1500, the strategies are so very different for anything like this.

Rod: Certainly, those memories of running with the marathon boys in 72. And I went back to Dave McKenzie and Jack Foster and talked to them about what it takes. And then, John, my brother, John was also too, very, very in tune with them, and he knew all the boys, and so we started to talk about how it would be. And he said, ‘So I want you to do, I want you to go back to doing those long Abel Tasman runs. I want you to do those long road aerobic runs, and just long and slow.’ And he said, ‘I don't want you going out there with your mates racing it. I want you to just lay that foundation again.’ And he said, ‘You’ve already done it’, he said, ‘It's just a natural progression for you’.

So it was just amazing, because it just felt comfortable. And at that time, I was living in Redding, Pennsylvania, and I would be running out or out through the Amish country and the farms and roads, they're just horse and cats.

Lisa: Awesome.

Rod: I had this fabulous forest, Nolde Forest, which is a state park. And I could run on there for three hours and just cross, but I wouldn't run the same trails. I mean, you'd run clockwise or anti-clockwise, so. And then, but I kept — I still kept that track mentality and still did my training aerobically but I didn't do it on the track. Fortunately, the spar side, they had a road that was always closed off only for emergencies. And it was about a three-mile road. And so, I asked if I could put a little pin markers with some tape, and I knew that there was 200, 400, 600, 800. And I would do my anaerobic work in this trail, not going to the track point. And then I would do the odd time trial at the track, but that was only maybe once a month, I would do any track work. And if I was doing it, if I did, wanted to do 2 by 1 mile, I do one mile, counterclock and one mile clockwise. And I could run within about 10 seconds either way.

Lisa: Wow. So, you really got your pacing down. And then, when did you set your sights on doing the New York Marathon?

Rod: It was interesting, Lisa, because in ‘82, I actually went to the World Cross Country. And I realised that I ran ‘71, ‘73, 1980. And I realised that if I was going to run marathons, I got to get back to my cross-country mentality.

So, I went to the World Cross Country in ‘82, in Rome. And I remember we always just sit around and Fred Lebow, the legend of New York City. Of course, he had heard about my marathon on in New Zealand, and he said, ‘It's time for you to run New York’. I said, ‘I don’t think so. I don't think so.’ Because Boston, London, and San Francisco all wanted me to run a marathon then. I wanted to go and have a look at the course. So Chris Brasher brought me into London. I had a look at the course, I quite liked the course in London. San Francisco was fascinating, because I love the hills, but I didn't like the downhill, so.

Lisa: Yeah, yeah. It was a no-go there.

Rod: And Boston was too much downhill from Heartbreak. So really, I looked at New York, and I thought New York was going to be probably my best marathon course. I had to connect to it emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally. So, it was ticking all those boxes for me. So, ‘82, at the World Cross Country, I said to Fred, ‘Look, Fred, I will commit to running New York. But it won't be this year, because we've got 40 more races this year. I will look at 1983, and if I run one, I'm pretty sure to be New York’. And he said, ‘Well, how do I put that all together?’ And I said, ‘Well, I'll tell you what, if I have a medal here at the World Cross Country, be it first, second or third, I will run the New York Marathon’. And I thought to myself, I'm just saying that. Wow. I mean, I'm out again to the finishing third. I was coming out into the finishing, there’s somebody standing right in the middle of the finishing, and I thought, ‘What the hell are you're doing there?’. And as I got closer, it was Fred.

Lisa: You're coming out.

Rod: And I said, it would be 1983, Fred. So, I made the commitment to him then. I said, ‘I will come to New York Marathon in ‘82 and watch, and get a feeling of what is it all about and course notes’. And that was when Gomez and Salazar had this unbelievable race and right down to the finish line. And I remember I went out, ran on the Central Park the next morning, Monday morning. And I came across the finish line and I stood there — and of course, it was so weird, but it’s like a visual warning.

Lisa: Yeah, yeah, visual.

Rod: And I look up and I go, ‘This is me, I can see myself here’.

Lisa: You're visualising getting yourself ready.

Rod: And it was funny because I know Arnold, Arnold would say, when I said Arnold, and I stood there and I get, ‘I’ll be back’.

Lisa: I'll be back. And you were definitely back. So the following year, you spend this year preparing solely for New York?

Rod: Yes, I came back to New Zealand and, and I did a few, I think it was called the pastor series of races, we did a few road races. And that was about mainly to come back to New Zealand for summer training and preparation. And then when I went back, I said, by this stage I had my whole schedule, and this was the first time in my life, they said, that I actually had a programme designed for one race. And that was going to be, no, these races here in between were part of that journey.

Lisa: Build-up races.

Rod: Over a hundred races. And so, and John said, ‘If you're going to be serious about this, you've got to train. No distractions, you focus’. And what was incredible is when I committed to that first day, I felt, and I said, ‘Been hugely influenced by Sir Edmund Hillary in my life and set the Mount Everest —’

Lisa: Yeah, that’s your base camps.

Rod: Yeah. And so here I was now, for the first time my life, kind of like blinkers on.

Lisa: Tunnel vision. One thing. You gotta get up this mountain.

Rod: Going in and writing that diary every day. And it didn't become obsessive, but it became very, very much my goal orientation. And what was, I could see each month is that I was going up the mountain. I was climbing up. I wasn't having those fallbacks, and I just kept going and the blocks would building that improvement.

Lisa:  Ugh, you must have incredible endurance, man. Yeah, and you've got a decade or more of actual base behind you now and experience at racing at this high level, and everything was sort of coming together.

Rod: It was. It was incredible. And the time trials. And I remember I said to my brother, John, I called my brother, ‘You've got a 3000 meter time trial for me here.’ But I said, ‘I wanted run the mile’. And he said, ‘What's your reasoning?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know, John. Everything is right. Everything is done. I've done it. I've got all the texts, everything, all the ducks in a row’. And he said, ‘So what's the draw?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know. It just goes back to ‘72, I guess. It goes back to the Magic of The Mile. It goes back to snow. It goes back to Bannister; it goes back to Lovelock’. I said, ‘It's all part of my journey’. And he said, ‘Good boy, go out and run that mile. So, I went to the biker High School track. I had my mate come with me. And I said, ‘I’ll warm up. And when I'm ready, I will let you know. And you click the watch. Don't get me splits. I'm just going to go out there and run feeling base’. Now, I said, ‘I’ll come back’. And I said, ‘Don't call out the time, I will come to you, and that's when you tell me the time’.

I went out there and I did everything as I would have done in the 70s. And I came, and I ran. And I felt just right. And I came across the line, and of course, I came over to him and I said — he said, ‘What do you think you ran?’ I said, ‘I ran very close to it 4’1, 4’2, I think. Maybe. Yeah’. And he said, How about 3’58.6? Well, I said, ‘That’s it. Nothing has to be done’.

Lisa: Sub 4 minute and you're preparing for a marathon. So that's just insane. So we're going to have to wrap up in a few minutes. So we're going to get to the actual bloody — the day of the race. And I was really reading one of your articles, and you were talking about you didn't go the elite athletes’ limos that they put on. You went in the public transport, what was all that about?

Rod: Well, all those years, with the runners, and very few of them I would go. What was this teaching? It’s only a race, it's not the end of life.

Lisa: It could have changed the side.

Rod: And I will bet, because I went to the Expo, and I saw the enthusiasm and I saw everything going on. And I just was fascinated by all these people. And I just did my first marathon, really international marathon, and I was fascinated. And Fred said, ‘Well, the limo will pick you up’. And I said. ‘No. I’m going out on the bus’. He said, ‘Oh. You can’t go on the bus’. I said, ‘I’m going’.  And I did and I liked it, because there are coffee drinkers and bagel eaters.

Lisa: On the way to the marathon.

Rod: And I just listened to this and I laughed all the way out.

Lisa: And they had no idea who was sitting next to them, really. That's classic. So, did you do that to protect your mindset really?  So you would not see the other guys? Or just because you wanted to be one of the crew and see?

Rod: I just thought, this is about me. It's not about anybody.

Lisa: Yeah, that's a good lesson for everything guys — just block out everybody else and do your thing. So now you're at the start line of the New York Marathon. How did the day go? We know the outcome, but spoiler alert.

Rod: They were there. Of course I actually set my time, my goal at 2009 laps.

Lisa: Yep. Same for me. I just can’t.

Rod: So I put my information down, I didn't have watches or anything. And so, I did my 5-mile split, my 10-mile split, my 13-mile split, my 18- mile split, and my 23-mile split. So those were my splits and that's what I kind of wanted to go through. And it was, once again, Lisa, don't be influenced by others. So, I went out there, running my race within a race. And I stayed with these splits, and it was amazing. The first five mile, I went through within two seconds.

Lisa: Wow. You had such a expertise now at this — yep.

Rod: 10 miles, I was two seconds, and of course, you look down and you look at the clock and you go, ‘Whoa’. So you getting a shot of adrenaline every time.

Lisa: You’re setting your mark. Yeah.

Rod: The leaders were ahead of me. But I had to blink it, I didn't care.

Lisa: You didn’t care.

Rod: Once again, don't be influenced by others. Run your own race.

Lisa: So such gold lessons you're sharing here.

Rod: And it is just amazing and that's how it just progressed. And of course, coming off the Verrazano Bridge onto the First Avenue, and the roar of the crowd was just incredible. I mean, every hair on my body stood out, it was so exciting. And so I could see the leaders out and I was slowly catching some of them. And then, of course, I knew where the leader was because of the lead car with the flashing lights. So, I couldn't quite see him, but I could see like where he was and people were calling out, ‘Oh, you’re two minutes behind’.  I go, that's not two minutes. ‘Oh, you only 20 seconds behind’. So you can't be influenced by–

Lisa: No, don't listen to them.

Rod: Once again, back to my goals. And then I came, I remember about 20 miles, I came around with quite, and it was starting to rain now. And I was where I created three pair of shoes, a very slick shoe, an intermediate, and a fur wick leather shoe and I went for the intermediate. Given it was going to rain hard. What was happening is when it starts to rain in New York City, the oil is on the road.

Lisa: Very slick. Yeah.

Rod: Quite slick. And the white lines are even more, it was like ice. So, I had to be very careful where I was going. And of course, you'd see the road and you'll be running and you’ve a bit of a pothole and you go down. So I was very careful. And I came around one corner and I just slipped a little bit and felt my hamstring twinge. So, I had to slow down, short my stride, and wonderfully, I was able to just do some acupressure. And a couple of times, I didn't quite get it but I got one with just, you could feel the whole release. Oh my gosh.

Lisa: That was lucky. That doesn’t usually happen, you usually like struggling for, like, ‘Aw aw’.

Rod: And then, of course, at that point 20 to 23, that little, short roads, and of course, I’d come around a corner looking up and there's nothing there. So, out of sight out of mind, and then I'll come around another corner, and just see them and they'd go around the corner. And then once we got into Central Park, it was a bit more open and I could see him.

Lisa: You can see where he was. Were you at second place at this point?

Rod: Yes, I was now on the second. And now I'm not very good at math. I wasn’t good at math. At school, I got 23%, the teacher said he gave me 3% because I spelled my name right. What I do understand is that I'm getting the times and where he is in the miles, and I think I'm going to run out a distance here, I’m catching him at three seconds.

Lisa: So, he's 20 seconds in.

Rod: He's got to slow down. And I thought well, I can't really rely on him slowing down. So what else can I do? And I thought to myself, I've got to start running the shortest route. I've got to start running my tangents. And so the good thing is what I did see is that he was still — and in those days they had the blue line for the mountain — it was in the middle of the road. And he was —

Lisa: He was running the blue line.

Rod: So, I realise that I've got, in my mind, I have another 30, 40 corners. And if I could pick him up one- or two-seconds.

Lisa: One meters, two meters, yep.

Rod: This is the minute hand. Don’t try and go any faster, stay within your rhythm. Don't think anything more than just running the tangents and running and staying within your ability. And then slowly but surely another corner and I can see us catching. Slowly, and then there’s a bit of a rise up to Columbus Circle. And I noticed, he was in the middle of the road which is the apex of a high steep low. And I sat down low, and I kept my arms more short on my stride, leap more into it. I didn't look like a runner; I'd look like a mountaineer. And I got up into Columbus Circle and into the park, and here he was, he was only 100 yards ahead of me. And so, then I realised, I wonder if he is actually waiting for me to catch him before he speeds out.

So, I was kept and I realised he was still in the middle way and here's this nice turn, right turn. I went down through the apex and as soon as I got along his peripheral, I ran as hard as I could, so that he got the shock.

Lisa: He got a shock because you were like just suddenly and powerfully going past him.

Rod: Yes and he wasn’t looking around either, too. I mean, motor racing, they have side mirrors so they can see what's going on behind.

Lisa: Yeah, yeah. You guys can’t.

Rod: Now again, I would always go around the corner and just glance back, I want to know what's going on. So he wasn't looking around, he wasn't really running the tangents. So, I realised that these are pluses for me, and it’s the game of plus and minus.

Lisa: And you're just like — like I love this mentality of like what can I do in the situation where I cannot go faster? What can I do to stay, because a lot of people would break at that point, like he's 100 meters ahead of me. I’ve only got the sun, not going to make it. And you've got that negative self-talk going on. You obviously you're like, ‘Ooh, what can I do here?’ So your brain obviously goes to where’s the around-the-obstacle solution here? What can I do? That's brilliant.

Rod: So, I learned all that in my road racing that I knew that sometimes you just can't run away from people but you can find out their vulnerable moment. And when they would come into a hill they would hesitate because they look up the hill and that's when you try and get five or six ahead of them, while they try to figure out. Then you do those things and then so, I would always, if I got 100 yards or 50 yards on a runner, I’d say, ‘Right. Now settle back down again. You got that quite easy. I did that and I spent 20% of my energy to get back, I’m going to make you spend 80% to get it back’. So, I've let them come back up to me and then I would go again and that would mentally —

Lisa: Bust them.

Rod: So, I was able to play with things.

Lisa: That’s gold.

Rod: And when I sometimes I’d be running and I would say, ‘Okay I’m going to run this. They’re expecting me to run this tangent but actually I’m not going to do that because that tangent takes you up a little bit of a hill. I'm going to go a little bit longer around here but it's not as steep so I can maintain the speed better rather than slowing down then speed up.’

Lisa: Wow, you’re the master at strategy, yay.

Rod: They would come with me and then I’d go back and they come with me. And I realised they’re doing exactly what I want them to do — they're running my race, you're not going to get my race.

Lisa: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Because you've got this all sussed for your particular set of talents and skills. And so coming down that last, but there were, you’ve got them in your sights now, what was that feeling like? Did you have that feeling ‘I’m going to do this. I've got this guy’ and did you break him as you went past him?

Rod: Well I think, I knew that everything I’d been thinking and doing and planning on running was, they got me to this point. Now I’ve got to kind of shock him or give him something that can affect. If you watch the tape, when I do go past, he threw his head back. Now, I didn't see that but I sensed he got a fright. And then of course, the next turn, it’s 150 meters, but I was running scared.

Lisa: Psychologically, you’ve broken someone.

Rod: Was he going to come back for me?  I just had a lot slight glance, we did the right turn and I could see that, and I saw the finish line, I said, ‘He’s not going to get me between here and there’. And of course, I’m full of adrenaline, that this is amazing.

Lisa: You’re just over. Coming he's got that psychological brokenness of seeing you slide past where he's led the race the whole way. That’s harsh. That’s harsh.

Rod: I turned around, I looked at the finish line, I said, wow I’m the first person from Verrazano Bridge to here.

Lisa: Wow. Amazing.

Rod: So of course, across the line and I went down on my knee and of course, kissed it down.  And I said, ‘I was here this time last year saying I'll be back’.

Lisa: Yeah. And here you are, you’ll be back. And did that change your life? Like to win New York's just pretty like, next level really.

Rod: To put the disappointment of ‘76 into perspective, the disappointment at the 1980 boycott, and I just, and I realised, and really, Marian, my mother, had said that sometimes things won't happen the way you want them sometimes. You're watching this, but your time will come at another point or another time. And I realised then what she was saying when I had won New York, that that was my defining moment, it just took longer than other people.

Lisa: Wow. That's a pretty big defining moment, not many people get to have a life like you've led, Rod. And I do feel like we probably need a bit of a second session because we haven't even gotten to the work that you've done, which is I really want to share about the kids marathon project and all the other stuff, the couch… What's the name of the couch programme that you had?

Rod: After the finish line? Yeah.

Lisa: Yeah. That’s the one, yeah. And to share a little bit of that and the work that you've been doing since then because I think that would be an important topic in themselves. But we're going to have to wrap it up to that for today. I've got a mum out there that’s like banging around, giving me signs that I need to go and take her out. So, get her to her training.

So Rod, thank you so much for your time today for your insights, your wisdom, and sharing such an exciting ride. I think the listeners have been going up on the up and downs with you the whole way. And say hi to your amazing brother, John, I think what an incredible person to do all that with you. So, thanks very much, Rod.

Rod: Thank you for your inspiration to me too, by the way.

Lisa: I haven't done anything.

Rod: Yes, you have. I can feel it. I can sense it straight away.

Lisa: It's amazing. Very, very different athletes with very, very different skill sets and very different genetics. But we both love running and we both understand the power of running to change the world. And I think we can probably very much align on that.

Rod: Absolutely we do, Lisa. Thank you for your time and I've enjoyed every second. Every second.

Lisa: Thanks, Rod.

That's it this week for Pushing the Limits. Be sure to rate, review and share with your friends and head over and visit Lisa and her team at



Apr 29, 2021

Sleep is the time for our mind and bodies to reset, regenerate and repair damages that may have accumulated during the day. Undoubtedly, this is a part of our daily routine that is important and can impact our health. Sleep affects our emotional well-being and mental ability, as well as our physical health and energy levels. If you want to face the day with your best self, a good night’s rest is what you need. Thus, we need to learn how to optimise our sleep.

Unfortunately, millions of people worldwide suffer from sleep problems, including snoring and sleep apnoea. These disturbances in your nightly rest prevent you from making the most out of your sleep. Furthermore, you most likely don’t have the tools or knowledge on how to optimise sleep. Frances Anderson is with us today to share her story on how she decided to create a solution for sleep problems after not being able to find one for her snoring.

Listen to this episode of Pushing the Limits to hear more about Frances’ tips on how to optimise sleep. 

Visit the Patney website for more information on Frances Anderson, her story and her products.

Use the code: Lisa for a 5% discount on Patney products for a good night’s sleep!


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Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Find out how changing your pillow can give you a better, deeper and restful sleep.
  2. Learn how sleeping disturbances like snoring and sleep apnoea can negatively impact your health and everyday performance.
  3. Discover what you and those around you can gain from knowing how to optimise sleep.




Episode Highlights

[04:58] The Story Behind Frances Anderson

  • Frances has always been a snorer since she was younger. 
  • Her snoring worsened as she grew older and progressed to sleep apnoea.
  • This condition impacted her health and emotional well-being. 
  • She tried looking into ways on how to optimise sleep, but none of them worked.
  • Taking matters into her own hands, she developed the sleep positioner.

[11:26] What Is the Patney Sleep Positioner?

  • The Patney Sleep Positioner is a special pillow with a particular shape and design.
  • Its latex properties contribute to its durable and hygienic characteristics.
  • It supports your jaw, head and shoulders while sleeping.
  • This pillow promotes good sleep posture and opens up the airways. 
  • It’s designed in a way that prevents your head from dropping down.

[15:27] The Negative Impacts of Snoring and Sleep Apnoea

  • The deep sleep phase is vital. This is why our sleep shouldn’t be interrupted during this phase.
  • Disturbance of your sleep occurs when you wake up gasping for breath. 
  • These disturbances negatively impact your cognitive abilities and may cause neurodegeneration down the road.
  • It can also affect your partner’s well-being as their sleep gets interrupted too. 
  • In turn, your relationship may get strained. Both you and those around you end up tired throughout the day. 

[20:35] More on the Patney Sleep Positioner

  • The Patney Sleep Positioner has a 86% success rate. 
  • Patney has a 30-night money-back guarantee. 
  • The product has been tested in the WellSleep Centre at the University of Otago.
  • The pillow helps people who snore or suffer from mild to medium sleep apnoea. 

[23:28] True or False: Big People Are Snorers

  • This is a fallacy; Frances herself falls within the 58 kg size bracket.
  • 25 to 30% of sales to women fall within the same size bracket.
  • Men who buy the pillow include those who are 5.9- to 6-feet tall, weighing 80 to 100 kg. 
  • 42% of Patney Sleep Positioner sales are to women, 58% of sales are to men.
  • After menopause, 60% of women snore. 

[27:38] Is the Patney Sleep Positioner Unique?

  • While there are similar products, the Patney Sleep Positioner has been patented in multiple countries.
  • Each pillow is individualised for the buyers.
  • The pillow considers the user’s weight, height and shape to give them the best support for sleep.

[29:35] What’s the Story Behind the Name ‘Patney’?

  • Patney is a made-up name that stuck when Frances was brainstorming.
  • Frances’ mother is named Pat. 
  • Her grandson called her Patney once, and it stuck. 
  • The brand name became a tribute to Frances’ mom who passed away from dementia.

[31:03] What’s Your Approach to Life?

  • Frances wanted a non-invasive solution to her problem. 
  • The goal was for it to be non-invasive, comfortable and effective in  preventing episodes of snoring and other sleep problems..

[36:45] Will It Help People With Asthma?

  • Patney has had customers with different medical conditions.
  • However, they have not conducted studies on these yet.
  • People with a cold or the flu report that the pillow can help open up airways.
  • There is anecdotal evidence that it may help.

[38:30] Why Do You Think Some Don’t Find the Pillow Successful?

  • Sometimes, there are more complex health issues than just snoring.
  • Some just can’t get used to using the pillow.
  • Others might have more serious sleep apnoea. If this is the case, Frances advises that they go to a sleep clinic.
  • Listen to the full episode for more information on the Patney Sleep Positioner and how to optimise sleep.


7 Powerful Quotes from This Episode

‘So it's opening up their whole airway. Because when we’re snoring, you know, we have a normal pillow [and] we’re snoring, what's actually going on [is]—there we are tipping our chin forward onto the chest and blocking off these airways.’

‘And so what often happens is people get woken up by their own lack of breathing, and they've been constantly pulled out getting into that deep sleep phase, which is just absolutely crucial if you want to avoid neurodegeneration.’

‘If you're not sleeping well and getting good quality sleep, you're really going to age quicker. You're really going to damage your cognitive abilities, your memory. And you know, neurodegeneration is a likely chance of it happening further on down the road.’ 

‘But it's also a relationship issue too. You know, you've got the clinical issues with habitual snoring and sleep apnoea. But you've got relationship issues, too, that there's more than one person involved with this.’

‘But we knew we had a product that was going to solve a problem. And that problem was habitual snoring and mild to medium sleep apnoea.’

‘Without good sleep—all of those things: you can be eating perfect, you can be exercising perfect. But if you’re sleep’s out, you're not going to get the optimum out of your body.’

‘So it’s a wellness product, absolutely… While it was developed for snoring, you don’t have to be a snorer to use it.’


About Frances

Frances Anderson, the founder and Managing Director of Patney, had suffered from snoring for most of her life. 

She has experienced the negative effects caused by interrupted sleep and consequent fatigue. Frances could see the detrimental impact snoring was having on her health and her relationships. But it wasn’t until Frances’s husband told her one morning that she had scared the life out of him during the night because she had stopped breathing; this comment meant she was heading for sleep apnoea.

She had tried various anti-snoring products, including surgery, without success. So she decided to take things into her own hands. She set out to solve a problem that she and millions of other people experience. 

Fast forward to today, the Patney Sleep Positioner pillow is no longer a dream. With the product being non-invasive, comfortable, and individualised, it is proven to control snoring for thousands of customers.

Connect with Frances and learn more about the Patney Sleep Positioner on her website. You can also send her an email at or find her on Instagram.


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Post a review and share it! If you enjoyed tuning in, then leave us a review. You can also share this with your family and friends so they can know how to optimise sleep. 

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For more episode updates, visit my website. You may also tune in on Apple Podcasts.

To pushing the limits,



Full Transcript of The Podcast

Welcome to Pushing the Limits, the show that helps you reach your full potential with your host, Lisa Tamati, brought to you by

Lisa Tamati: Lisa Tamati, your host of Pushing the Limits. Welcome back again for another excellent episode. I hope you're going to enjoy this one. I have Frances Anderson, who is the founder of Patney pillows, to guest today. You may think, ‘What? Sounds really weird’. But this is a very important topic. This is all about sleep optimisation, how to stop snoring, looking at sleep apnea and helping improve your health through correct sleep. 

So, Frances is the founder of a company called Patney pillows that has sleep positioners. And this has all been clinically tested to help people with snoring, and this is an episode around sleep optimisation basically. So I do hope you enjoy this. If at the end of this interview, you're interested in trying out one of Frances's pillows, you can use the code ‘Lisa’ at checkout for a 5% discount on the actual product too. I don't usually do episodes where it's all based around a particular product. But this invention is pretty unique in the world. And it is helping people with their health and their sleep. So I'd really like you to listen to this and get some good information if you're dealing with anyone who has snoring, anyone who has sleep apnea, if you want to optimise your sleep, then this is the episode for you. 

I'd also like to refer you back to a couple of other episodes that I've done around these topics. One are with James Nestor, one with Patrick McKeown and one with James Morris: two on breathing, and one on sleep apnea. If you're interested in further finding out more about optimising your sleep. There's also one with Dave Liow, on the science of light and how that affects your sleep. So make sure you go and check out all those podcasts as well in the back catalogue. 

Before we head over to the show a reminder we have launched our premium membership group, our VIP group. If you want to come and join us at the pushing the limits podcast if you want to support us getting this great content out and we would love you to come and join our membership group, our patron group. It's only a few dollars a month. You know, really is a cup of coffee a month to be involved, and we have a lot of member benefits and we would love you to check it all out. You can go to patron, P-A-T-R-O-N for all the information on that. 

And another reminder to check out my latest and greatest longevity and anti-ageing supplement NMN, which stands for nicotinamide mononucleotide. Now this is a supplement that helps upregulate the sirtuin genes which are longevity genes in the body. Without going into all the science. If you want to check out the episodes that I've done on this with Dr. Elena Seranova, a molecular biologist, then check those out on the podcast as well. And if you want to find out about this longevity and anti-ageing supplement if you're like me and you're getting on in, but long in the tooth, and you want to make sure that you slow the ageing process down and that you optimise your your health and your vitality and your lifespan then head over to, And I highly recommend going and reading the book Lifespan by Dr. David Sinclair, a Harvard Medical School researcher. That is why I got into this. So if you want to know and do a deep dive into the science behind NMN and upregulating the sirtuin genes in autophagy, and know all about the sort of stuff that's going to help you live a longer, healthier life, then please go and check out all those resources. Right, now over to the show with Frances Anderson. 

Lisa: Welcome back to Pushing the Limits today. And I have an amazing, lovely guest. And we've actually got a bit of a backstory. We already recorded this interview and then I went and lost it all on my computer somehow. Don't ask me how. 

So Frances Anderson, thank you very much for joining me again. Very embarrassing situation when you go and delete an entire interview. So I know you probably want to throttle me but, today we're going to be talking a little bit about your story and this amazing invention. I want to call it invention that you've made. Now Frances is the founder of the Patney pillow or sleep positioner. And this is going to be an episode all about optimising his sleep and why snoring is bad for you and all of that sort of good stuff. 

So welcome to the show, Frances again. So I think we'll start with a little bit of a backstory. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and then why you got into this, making this invention?

Frances Anderson: Well I'm the snorer, it's as simple as that. I had tried all sorts of things, including surgery, and that lasted about as long as it took the swelling to go down, so that wasn't effective. And I've tried most things and they just didn't solve the problem. And it got to the stage where I was beginning to get sleep apnea, so stopping breathing and my husband, one morning said to me, ‘You frightened the living daylights out of me last night, you stopped breathing. You got to do something about this.’ And so I sort of walked away and thought, ‘I don't know,’ What am I going to do, I’ve tried everything’.

And so I set about trying to find a solution for my snoring. And that took a little bit of time. I have to say it's not a great thing to try and invent something to sleep on, at two o'clock in the morning you're busy trying to design this thing, how the hell do you stop snoring. So eventually I did and then I felt that I'd solved my problem and carried on working like everybody else in my normal job and then a couple of friends said, ‘Can I have one’? And at that stage I thought I was the only female that snored. 

Lisa: Let's dig into that little bit for a second. A lot of people have issues with snoring and for me that's sort of acceptable. Sort of it's like one of those things, I mean sort of, ‘Yeah, you snore, so who cares’? For women it's a little bit more embarrassing and like you thought you were the only woman who snored, and you're a tiny lady, very slim and, you said you struggled with snoring even in your young years, like in your teenage years. How did that make you feel?

Frances: Well I first knew that I snored at 13 when I went to boarding school. And of course you're in dormitories, and got horribly ostracised, and found I found that incredibly embarrassing. But also incredibly stressful because I didn't know how to solve it. And you know it's fine for people to say, ‘Stop snoring’, but how? So I went to the boarding school years and but still the snoring was a problem, but as I got older it became kind of a more of a problem and but I inherited from my mother, so it's probably not quite right that I thought I was the only female that there was that snored. My mother did and she was a chronic snore and with the knowledge we have now, obviously she had sleep apnea or really bad sleep apnea. And my problem, she died of dementia, and they are now looking at links between dementia with—sorry, with chronic snoring or sleep apnea, you're starving your brain of oxygen. Because it can stop breathing as much as 100 times an hour. So sleep apnea is huge. 

Lisa: And we've done a—I've got a backstory with us too with my mom having sleep apnea after her stroke and I think she probably had it before it even, and doing a sleep assessment and realising that her SpO2 levels were down at around 70% at their worst time in the night, and that she was stopping breathing hundreds of times a night and actually knocking off her brain cells at a point we you know after the aneurysm which he didn't have a heck of a lot left. 

And so this work came on my radar then and getting a sleep apnea assessment and realising that she was in deep trouble and having to have a CPAP machine and this is a problem that, as you know, not really well understood people sort of think snoring is just annoying. It's not just annoying, it's disrupting the sleep of the partner, obviously, in the bed which has its own health consequences for that person as well, or the other people in the dormitory in your case. But it is also really damangeling your health and there is a huge correlation now between Alzheimer's and dementia and neurodegenerative diseases and sleep apnea. This is—hence doing this podcast because it is a very important health topic. 

Snoring is not just a pleasant thing and it's not just overweight old men that snore, Which is the common sort of perception. And we had a couple of experts on the show breathing experts, James Nestor and Patrick McKeown have both best-selling authors of breathing books, Breath and The Oxygen Advantage. And they talk about, you know, just how important the breathing is to the whole health and, you know, nasal breathing and in the talk of how important that piece of the puzzle is. And, you know, they go so far as to tape the mouth shut at night, which I do, actually, in order to help with the nasal breathing, which is optimising my breathing. I don't have sleep apnea, I don't snore. But that helps optimise if you like. 

So you managed though, without doing, having a CPAP machine, to get on top of your snoring. And I think a lot of people would be interested in this because having a CPAP machine is brilliant. And thank goodness for them as I don't think my mum would be here now. But they're also very intrusive. A lot of people just won't comply with them. You've got this big mask over your face. And it's a very important machine. And the invention that you've made, the sleep positioner that you've made, doesn't replace CPAP. CPAP has its place. We need those. But for certain people this can help. 

So you managed to—what is the sleep positioner? What is the special pillow that we're talking about?

Frances: Yeah, well, it's interesting. It took me four years to actually bring it to fruition. While I solved my own snoring within a few months, I had only just made it out of retail materials. So to commercialise that I needed to have a molded product. And so that took even more time to be able to then move it into latex. And we chose latex because of the properties. Because it's antibacterial, antifungal, anti-dust mite, it's temperature neutral, and it’s got a long life to always make from the rubber from the rubber trees, it’s close to memory foam which is made from petroleum. 

Lisa: Yeah, I didn't know that. That's amazing. 

Frances: So we wanted a natural product. And when I got in touch with the manufacturer, I thought I could just show them the drawings, and they could whip me up a mold, and hey, we'd have our pillows. But no, I had to say instead about trying to cut latex and build it into a shape that could be molded. And I learned that I could only do that with a scalpel. And I saw—I had made about 60 of these and my trialists would have a gallery session and let me know, said there are wedges on all sorts of exotic and make it the right shape. So eventually then we went and got the bulk made. 

So the pillow is about—we call it a pillow because—sorry, we call it a sleep positioner. But in pillow is short for your life. So it looks nothing like your normal pillow. And some people get a bit of a surprise when they see it because it's a slightly different shape. But then your normal pillow doesn't solve snoring. So obviously has to be a particular shape and design. If I said to stand up straight, you find your chest comes up and out a little bit when you do that. And so there's a shoulder pad. And so the shoulder pad lifts your chest so that you can breathe right through your nasal cavity right down and into your lungs. So it's opening up your airways, like you do when you stand up straight. And then the main body of the pillow has a magic spotlight, if you like, called the sweet spot. And by positioning yourself here, in this shoulder pad, we can control the snoring.

Lisa: So it's opening up their whole airway so—because when we’re snoring, you know we have a normal pillow and we’re snoring, what's actually going on there? Are we tipping our chin forward onto the chest and rocking off the airways? There's probably a number of reasons, people who are overweight or have a big circumference of the neck, bodybuilders and so on. They have a lot of pressure going on to the airway just from the size of their necks. So is there you know is this is this really just it's repositioning that whole airway so that it's opened up. That's the whole premise behind it.

Frances: Yes, it is. It's about good sleep posture, and about opening up your airway and it's for both back and side sleepers, and sort of half tummy sleep on it. But it's not for pure tummy sleepers. And so the shape of the pillow supports the jaw when you sleep on your side, and on your back. And of course, keeping yourself in that nice position so that you can’t easily drop your feet down. The whole thing is to prevent the feet from dropping down and cutting off your airway. And getting—ike people who wake themselves up in the night. They sometimes hear themselves snore. Yeah, but they've actually stopped breathing, and they’re hearing themselves actually gasping for a breath..

Lisa: Wow. So they've actually been working out and saying, well, you know, on the podcast that I've done around sleep and breathing, when we, when we sleep, we need to get into this deep sleep phase, which as we get older, gets more and more difficult. We have not, you know, non-REM sleep and REM sleep. And we have different levels where we're in a deep, deep sleep where we're actually paralysed and unable to move, and their body does it in order to, we have all these dreams, otherwise we'd be living them out. But when we're in this really deep unconscious state, we're completely unaware of the position of our body and what we're actually doing and what's actually happening with our circulation and our breathing and, and so what often happens is people get woken up by their own lack of breathing, and they've been constantly pulled out of or getting into that deep sleep phase, which is just absolutely crucial. If you want to avoid neurodegeneration, you need that deep sleep.

So when you're being pulled out, and you're in only getting into a shallow state of sleep, and then being pulled out again, as you have to gasp for air and wake yourself up, the body is waking yourself up, so you don't bloody suffocate, basically. And it does it very well, but it is stopping you getting that really restorative, important deep sleep happening, which is really going to have effects on things like your emotional state, your ability to deal with stressors, your ability to function properly, basically, during the day. 

And as time goes on, then it can affect your memory. And then it can affect, you know, the whole neurodegeneration side of things where you're not cleaning out the tau proteins that they talk about in relation to Alzheimer's. And we're doing this, there's something called glymphatic cleaning at night. And you know, I'm not an expert on sleep, I'm going to get Dr. Matthew Walker, I hope, on who can explain this way better than me. But there is this brainwashing effect that's going on when we're in certain levels of sleep, and it's the glymphatic system. And if we're not getting that really deep, you know, continuous sleep, we're not getting that. And so we're not cleaning out these damaged proteins, if you like, and they start to accumulate in the brain. And these can lead into neurodegenerative diseases. And I've probably butchered that from a science perspective. So, but you get the whole point. 

If you're not sleeping well and getting good quality sleep, you're really going to age quicker, you're really going to damage your cognitive abilities, your memory, and you know, neurodegeneration is you know, unlikely chance of it happening further on down the road as you experienced with your dear mum. So this was really crucial for you because you didn't want to go down that same path having seen your mum go down there.

Frances: No, absolutely not. But it's also a relationship issue too. You got the clinical issues with habitual snoring and sleep apnea. But you've got relationship issues, too. There's more than one person involved with this. There’s generally two people involved with this.

Lisa: The one is the sufferer. 

Frances: Oh it’s the sufferer. And so it's really important to try and resolve this for your partner's sake. Because while you're not sleeping well, and you will find that he'll be tired in the daytime, really tired sort of mid-afternoon, falling asleep at night,before bedtime, if you like. And it also, just that general well-being that fuzziness in the head and and such like. But your partner is also suffering from sleep deprivation. They're the ones that have been woken on a regular basis while you supposedly sleep through. 

And you know, there's that lock in the morning that says, ‘Here's your star rating from a’... Generally the partner that has to go to the spare room, because they're the one that's being disturbed. So they're having to go and get into a cold bed somewhere else in the house. And or, you know, people don't necessarily have a spare bedroom and they're sleeping on a couch to try and just actually get some sleep. So it is, it's a social problem within your own home. And, you know, it creates arguments. 

Lisa: It definitely does. 

Frances: It’s very disturbing and, and you've got two people feeling very tired during the day. So it is important to get both parties to get a good night's sleep. And so now and again, you may store a little, but just turn over and you know, reposition yourself on the pillow and you're satisfied again. And so we have an 86% success rate, which we're really proud of. 

Lisa: Yeah, absolutely. 

Frances: And you know, we've sold thousands of these now. So we know our statistics are right, because we give a 30-night money back guarantee if somebody is not happy. So we know for a fact that we have the same 86% success rate. But also we didn't go into this blindly there and just you know, hit the back with a second session. We put it through the Otago University, the WellSleep Center, at Berlin Hospital in Wellington. And a wonderful lady, Dr Angela Campbell who was in charge of that study. And it came out really, really well there too. In fact, we wouldn't have commercialised it if we didn't put all these resources into it, if we didn't believe in our product. But we knew we had a product that was going to solve a problem, and that problem was habitual snoring and mild to medium sleep apnea. We don't advertise it as a product that's going to solve serious sleep apnea because those people do have a serious condition, 

Lisa: It can be a neurological thing. So in the case of mum, it's actually brain switching off in the wrong times in the night. Yeah, you know, so we can’t affect that. However, you know, like, even in a situation like with mum, I get up at four in the morning to check on her. And often she's taken the mask off, because she's had enough of it. And her argument to me is ‘Well, I'm not sleeping properly. You know, like, I'm not in the deep sleep at that hour. So it's okay.’ I’m like, ‘Mum, when you're asleep, have no idea what level of sleep you're in. And why would you think that in the early morning, you are not going to have sleep apnea, whereas at midnight, you are? This will be an extra backup system for me.

Frances: We do, we get people that buy the pillow because they know that they whip off this CPAP machine during the night. And so some people sleep with the CPAP machine and the Patney when they whip that CPAP off, they still have some protection for the rest of the night,

Lisa: Because neither—you know, like, even the CPAP machine isn't 100% coverage, you know, like it's blowing air down into your lungs, which you know, has its own certain amount of problems. You can't nasal breathe really when you've got a sleep apnea machine or at least mum can’t. And it dries your mouth out, and it does all these, it's not very nice having this you can't turn over very easily et cetera, et cetera. So it's, it is a little bit difficult having one of these. But in combination, and this is the perfect, you know, situation to be able to have it as a backup. If she does take it off in at least hopefully her chest is more open. Hopefully she'll breathe better, if not 100% perfect.

Frances: I mean, we talked before about big people being the snorers. Yeah. That's a bit of a fallacy. I believed that too. But no, I'm 58 kgs. Yeah. So I'm not a big person. And probably 25% to 30% of the sales that I make to a woman in that size bracket. So our problem is narrow airways. 

Lisa: Yes. 

Frances: But then if I look at it, the male, my male customers, majority of them would be five foot nine up to six foot and be in that 80 to 100 kg bracket. So they're not huge. They're not huge men. And they’re not overweight. You know, the big fellas, I don't see that much of. 

Lisa: Really? 

Frances: Yeah. But also, you know, if you're looking at females in particular, 42% of my customers are female, and 58% male. So that's quite a big number of females.. And also, after menopause, about 60% of women snore. But yeah, something else to look forward to ladies here. 

Lisa: Yeah, we're in the middle of it. Thanks very much. It's awesome fun, this menopausal thing. So when your estrogen levels drop, and there's a big correlation between menopause and then worsening cardiovascular outcomes and so on. I wonder if part of that has to do with the sleep issues that come along with that, or whether it's because of the drop in the estrogen, which is particular for the heart. It's probably a combination of many things. But as your health starts to deteriorate because you're not getting good sleep, then you get things like, when you're not sleeping well, like shift workers for a start. 

For example, you know, I've been dealing with this issue with my husband as well, he's doing shift work, shift workers die earlier. But that's pretty much a given. They are more prone to diabetes and cardiovascular, metabolic disorders and cardiac neurodegenerative disorders. If they're doing shift work where they have to be awake at night, they tend to be more overweight, they have problems with their appetite regulation, their hormone situations, all of these things are affected by sleep. So okay, that's for shift workers. And we need our shift workers because they keep the country going when we need them to be. But they need extra help. And then they also—we need to realise that, okay, so that's what's happening if you have to stay up all night, and your Circadian rhythms are all out of whack. And the rest of us get to sleep normal sort of hours. But if we're not sleeping well, again, this is going to have all of those knock-on effects. 

And this is why I think this episode is really important. I don't usually do an episode with something on a particular product. But I think that this is a product that I've found that is actually going to help change people's lives. And therefore, it's really worth doing a whole episode on this because it's something that's easy to try out and see whether it works for you and see if it improves your thing, because it's the basis of all health is sleep. 

As a health coach, as a running coach, before I deal with what exercise I'm going to get you to do or what nutrition I'm going to get you to eat or what times a day and all that sort of thing. I have to look at your sleep first. Your sleep is the basis. Without good sleep, all of those things, you can be eating perfect, you can be excising perfect, but if your sleep’s out, you're not going to get the optimum out of your body. So I think this is actually at the base. This is the thing we need to sort out first is your sleep. And a part of that is making sure that you're not snoring. And so I think trying their Patney pillow is a really good thing to have a go ahead if you are dealing with this. 

And I haven't seen this type of product anywhere else in the world. I mean, I haven't searched the world. I'm sure there's somebody else maybe in the world has come up with something similar. But is this pretty unique?

Frances: Yeah, it is. We have actually paid into it and several countries and the major countries, because it is quite unique. I suppose the other thing I should tell your listeners about or your viewers about is that it's actually individualised. As far as we know, we are one of only three commercialised individualised pillows in the world. And so the pillow is unique to the user. And so we have an algorithm and we're developing that further and further all the time to determine what weight and size, well the size doesn't change. But what weight the pillow is, in the depths of it. So we compression test them, we know exactly what height it is. And so we measure that to the customer. 

So we ask our customers some basic questions like, do they have a broad, very broad, average narrow shoulder. And if you cut them other questions like that, they don't need to measure themselves, all they have to do is compare themselves to their peers who are their height, roughly their height or weight. So we've been able to do that. And that is incredibly unique. 

So our biggest customers being two meters tall and 170 kgs, so a fairly big boy. But we can cater for bigger still. And for everybody underneath that they're smaller, slightly about 4 foot 6 and about 45 kgs. So from the teeny, tiniest little lady who did snore, and through to the biggest fellows so we can cope with any body shape. In particular, we get a lot of tradies, strummers, sportspeople in particular, who have built up a lot of muscle around the necks or shoulders.

Lisa: Bodybuilders have issues with this. 

Frances: We can deal with that though. So it's quite a unique product.

Lisa: Now I want to dive into a little bit the story of the name because this was a very cute story. It's called the Patney pillow. When I first talked to her I thought your name was Patney. You said it, but it's not quite right is it? Tell us about the story behind this.

Frances: My surname is Anderson, so very Scottish surname. Patney is a made-up name. My mum's—because my mum was a major snorer, and I inherited it from her. We were trying to think of what we would call the pillow. And so one day, one of my grandson—not my grandson, my mum's grandsons—walked into the house. Her name was Patch and he called ‘How you going Patneyneckers’? And she grabbed hold on for calling her that. The Patney stuck. And the grandkids used to call her Patney, and so we thought well what better name for the company and the product. We’ll call it Patney.

Lisa: What a lovely tribute to your mum. It's a cute name so the Patney pillow and it sort of sticks, rolls off the tongue quite nicely. And you know, this is the thing like you lost your mum to dementia. You were fearful that that was the track that you were going to be going on, and therefore you came up—and this is what I love the number eight wire mentality of you like, ‘Okay I've got a problem no one else can fix this for me I've had surgery I've tried every other thing there is around, I'm gonna fix it myself’. Are you very much like that, is that your approach to life?

Frances: Well I get all the things yeah. It has to be non-invasive, that was the other thing that was really important to me. Because I had tried a lot of invasive products like surgery and found that that didn't work. And so for me, it was really important that it was non-invasive. 

It’s interesting we did a survey before we commercialised and asked people what was the most important thing about a product that could stop snoring and the partner said, ‘Stop snoring’, that was the most important thing, that they would stop snoring. We had a list, then it was ‘Comfort and such’ like. The snorers said ‘Well comfort is the most important thing’. For the partner, they didn't give a toss about comfort. They just wanted it away and if it's a torture chamber, I don't care you know. It's non-invasive, it's very comfortable and it has to be both for me that was for sure.

Lisa: Yeah and you know I sent you a photo of my husband using his one and you know he's loving it. He stopped snoring and that's you know improved my sleep knowing and improved the marriage because I'm not hitting him in the middle of the night waking him up because he's snoring like a trooper. And I'm worried, like your husband like when he would be snoring in and he would stop breathing and that would terrify me because I'm like, you know ‘When are you going to take a breath, are you gonna take a breath?’ And then you're like this the whole night you know worried that they're not gonna breathe. So I think it's just fantastic. I don't have to worry about that now. Now he just does the occasional sort of *snoring noises* and then when he's turning over and that's about it and then he goes back and he's good. 

And he's very much like, because I, you can imagine in my household I'm the biohacking queen, right. I've got every gadget known to man. And I come home with all of these things for him to try and he's like, ‘Okay here we go again another thing that I'm going to have to add to my daily routine and regime of what Lisa is telling me I've got to do, you know whether it's from hyperbaric to ozone to you know shaking machines and all sorts of infrared light things that you stick up your nose’. And he's always like my guinea pig but he's taken to this like a duck to water. 

So I was stoked because I did think he might go, ‘Nah, not doing that’ because you know very much he does that on occasion and ‘I'm not doing it’ you know. I tried to get into the mouth taping thing, that was never in a bar of that. But this is at least something that he's actually adopted. So sorry poor husband he's not here...

Frances: Yeah it reminds me of a story when I had trials when I was back in the prototype stage, and so I've given out these prototypes to the testers and I thought back about four days later to follow them to see how they were, how he was going. And he wasn't there but his wife was there and she said, ‘Oh’ she said ‘I had a terrible night's sleep the first part’. I said ‘What didn't work?’ She said, ‘No I've listened to him snore for 20 years and I thought he was dead’. So I was like, ‘What’s happened?’ ‘He's not doing it!’ Yeah, that upset you.

Lisa: Because you can get actually quite used to that sound a little bit it becomes quite comforting in a weird strange way. It's a bit like that white noise apps that you have. You turn on the white noise to help you sleep sometimes, a little bit like that. But yeah, you slept pretty quite, quickly if they’re not snoring. 

So Frances, where to from here for your company? We're going to share the links and so on in the show notes. But can you tell everybody, where can they find out? Where can they reach you, there is a 30-day money back guarantee on this sleep positioner if people want to try it out, where can they find you?

Frances: They can find me on That's P-A-T-N-E-Y dot com. And there's a wealth of information on our website about how to use. There’s not a lot of testimonials, there's blogs. And there's the story there too. But obviously, we will be offering some special through Lisa as well, too. 

Lisa: Yes, we're gonna have a discount code. And we will organise that afterwards. And I'll put that in the show notes too, guys. So if you want to try this out, if you're dealing with snoring, if you're dealing with someone who is snoring, try it out, it's risk-free. Give it a go, it might change your life.

Frances: I think the other important thing too, is you don't have to snore to use it. 

Lisa: This is the point.

Frances: Absolutely not. And we get a lot of people who their partner has one. And they've come back to us for one for themselves simply because it just opens up your airways, gives you good sleep posture and breathe easily through the night. And so a lot of people buy it because for more about wellness, as opposed to just snoring. So it’s a wellness product. Absolutely. As well as, while it was developed for snoring, you don't have to be a snorer to use it.

Lisa: A question, and this may be outside the remit of it, but would it help with people with asthma? Because when I was severe asthmatics, especially as a child, I used to sleep like half up, because it would take—would be less pressure on the lungs. Have you had any experience in that realm with asthma at all?

Frances: We've had people with different medical ailments, if you like, like reflux and aspirin and things like that. But we haven't done a study on that to say, ultimately, we get a lot of anecdotal evidence of it. But also people where they've got a really big cold or flu, they find it helps open up their airways as well too, during those years. So I can't say you know, from a medical perspective, that it's going to help. But because it does put you in that very good sleep position, and it does maintain an open airway, it may well help with. Like I said, we have anecdotal evidence.

Lisa: And I think, when you're trying out new things, especially when it's you know, something like a pillow, it takes a little bit of getting used to, isn't it? You'd need a couple of nights for sort of I know with Haisley, he—the first night he was like, ‘Not sure not sure’. And then after that, after a couple of nights he got used to it. And it's the same with mum’s CPAP machine. I've tried to change the mask that she wears so that it's less invasive, but she actually just wants to go back to the thing that she knows, you know, so it is very much a habit-forming thing. And once you push through that initial sort of pushback that you get when you try anything new that can help. 

So what do you think—I mean, I think an 86% success rate is huge. And the 14% would just be people who aren't willing to push through that little difficult phase or just don't, you know, aren’t willing to try it. I bet you get a lot of partners buying them and then the person won't even try it out.

Frances: Yeah, the odd one. I mean, there's a myriad of reasons why, you know, that 14%. If I said it was 100% nobody would believe me. Yeah. Nothing, nothing is 100%. So we believe that you know, 86 is pretty good. 

Some people have quite complex health issues. And there's more going on than just just the snoring. Some people will, they just can't get used to it. And some of the perhaps the older folks, you know, find that a little bit. But majority of people, it's fine. And we can’t solve everybody's problems. Sometimes plain doesn't solve the snoring problems. And they get their money back, and so there's no loss. We've tried it and for some reason, it doesn't work. There's some people who I believe have got serious sleep apnea. And I advise them to go to a sleep clinic and actually get there what's causing their problem, their snoring to be actually diagnosed and and sorted.

Lisa: Especially if it’s neurological—absolutely obstructive sleep apnea, and then there's neurological reasons for it like mum’s. Like where the brain’s been actually damaged, the brain stem’s damaged, and we can't fix it. And I've just had mum at the sleep clinic last week assessing her data because they record her data every weekend. Unfortunately, she hasn't improved everything else and your brain sort of come right but that aspect hasn't. So she can't ever get off that machine. We need it for life. And thank goodness we have access to that. So there is things, but she can still benefit from this pillow, especially when she takes it off in the middle of the night. 

So I think all of these aspects—I really encourage people to go and listen to the episodes with Patrick McKeown and James Nestor. To understand more the whole, ‘Why our jaws even have developed differently than our ancestors, the different reasons for that the foods, the breathing, the nasal breathing, all of those aspects are also very crucial, important pieces of this particular puzzle. And I also did a episode on sleep apnea with James Morris, who used to own all the eating clinics throughout New Zealand and was very instrumental with us and with mum’s situation. So those are—if you're interested in this topic, make sure you go and check out those episodes as well. And try out the Patney pillow just go and order one find out. See if it works for you. If it doesn't send it back.

Frances: Well, you talk to us first.

Lisa: Yeah, find out, ask Frances all about it. See if it's going to be for you. Try it out. And then yeah, see how it goes and give us some feedback.

Frances: But the other thing is too, that if somebody does have a question, we’re only fire ways to telephone. And we've got lots of tips and tricks anyway. Because of course, we don't know what your bedroom environment is like, we don't know how old your mattress is, things like that. But we can overcome those problems as well. 

Lisa: Yeah, brilliant. Thank you so much, Frances, for being somebody who thinks outside the box. And, one number eight wire mentality. I've got a problem. I'm gonna fix it. Now I'm going to fix it for everybody else, because this is exactly how I am too, and that's how I've come to do when I do. Have a problem, fix that. Okay, now I can help other people with it. So thank you very much for your time.

Frances: Thank you, Lisa. Thank you.

Lisa: Hi, again, it's me. I hope you enjoyed that interview with Frances. I actually got the code wrong. It's actually a 10% discount. If you want a 10% discount on the Patney pillow, then use the code ‘Lisa’ at checkout. I said 5% in the intro, but I got it wrong. It's actually 10%. So thank you very much Frances for the discount, and go over there and try it out now.

That's it this week for Pushing the Limits. Be sure to rate, review, and share with your friends and head over and visit Lisa and her team at

Apr 22, 2021

Failure happens to everyone; we will experience it at some point in our lives. Despite our sacrifices and hard work, we may not achieve what we set out to do. It is, however, important to approach failure not as the end of a journey but as a crucial lesson. And it doesn’t matter how many times you fail—physical, emotional and mental resilience will take us one step forward towards our eventual success and victory. 

Laura Penhaul joins us in this episode to share the story of her expedition across the Pacific Ocean. She describes the preparations she undertook, from planning the expedition to gaining financial support. Laura also talks about the importance of breaking down the journey and being clear with team dynamics in the expedition’s success.  

If you want to know more about the makings of strength and mental resilience in a person, then this episode is for you.


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For my other two best-selling books Running Hot and Running to Extremes chronicling my ultrarunning adventures and expeditions all around the world, go to


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Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Gain valuable insights through Laura’s journey and expedition across the Pacific Ocean.
  2. Learn about mental resilience and adaptability in dealing with failure.  
  3. Discover the importance of team dynamics in the success of Laura’s expedition.




Episode Highlights

[05:12] Laura’s Background

  • Laura worked in elite sport for the Olympics and Paralympics for more than 14 years. As a physical therapist, she was able to see people through their journeys as athletes. 
  • In the face of adversity, Laura found two types of people: those who bounced back from it and those who gave up because of it. 
  • She was inspired by those who wanted to thrive and make the most out of life. 
  • She never experienced rowing before, but she was searching for a challenge. Ocean rowing was something she found ideal. 
  • The expedition gave her a lot of learnings. 

[12:58] Gaining Confidence

  • Reach out to those who have done what you want to do or to those who have expertise. 
  • Laura had to break down the journey and prepare for it: planning the possibility of the route, gaining logistical and structural support, planning out the time frame and preparing the team. 
  • She expected to finish in a year but didn’t. It took four years of planning before they could carry out the expedition. 
  • She had to learn from her failures, figure out her blind spots and reach out to other people for help. 

[16:12] Gathering Financial Support and Sponsorships

  • At first, Laura could not ask for money to support her journey.
  • She reached out to people who worked in business and sponsorship. They helped her shape her deck, brand and business model. 
  • She also reached out to Mark Beaumont, an elite expedition athlete. She learned from his experience and failures. 
  • With Mark’s help, Laura could have a structure for the timeline, budget and sponsorship. 

[20:06] Physical, Emotional and Mental Resilience 

  • Optimise your own elite performance. 
  • Break down the journey and plan everything. Being prepared makes you feel confident when dealing with the unknown. 
  • Have the courage to step away from comfort and the norms. 
  • Push outside of your comfort bubble to reach your full potential. 

[25:40] Going Beyond Your Comfort Zone

  • Laura considers herself a calculated risk-taker. 
  • She does not leap blindly and makes sure not to leave any stone unturned. 
  • It’s not a failure if you learn from it. 
  • Have the physical, emotional and mental resilience and robustness to bounce back and ask where and why you went wrong. 

[29:36] Dealing with Failure

  • You can prepare everything and still fail.
  • There are things you can’t control. Be adaptable and flexible in your performance.
  • During difficult times, the strength of Laura’s team was able to support a struggling individual.
  • Different perspectives help you see things you can and cannot control. It can prevent you from being ill or injured.

[34:42] Team Dynamics

  • Compared to individual sports, being in a team is difficult. 
  • Expeditions bring out the best and worst in people. You won’t know unless you are in the situation. 
  • Laura wanted her team to be cohesive and transparent. She always confronts an issue and steps forward to speak about it. 
  • A performance psychologist helped them understand the differences in each other's personalities, which helped make their journey a success.

[44:05] Keeping Mindfulness in Moments of Struggle

  • Leveraging each member’s strengths and differences can end up holding the team together rather than pulling it apart.
  • When you are struggling, you may show a part of yourself that is cynical and selfish. 
  • Remember: we are all working on our character. 
  • In extreme circumstances, the bad side of ourselves could come out. Dealing with it is part of resilience and teamwork.


7 Powerful Quotes

‘There's people that can go through the same type of thing. And yet one person wakes up, being so thankful that they're alive’ they're now going to make the most of life. And then somebody else that wakes up and they're like, they wish they didn't wake up’.

‘How can I put myself in a situation which is completely unknown, that's kind of gonna make me want to give up? And I want to understand what it is we draw on when we can't give up [and] we've only got one option’.

‘It's all about perspective, isn't it? And it's all about the context that you're in. And this is the thing that I get really passionate about is, I want to optimise people's own elite performance’.

‘It is not a failure unless you don’t learn from it. And leaping sometimes is exactly what you need to do, and it's just not being scared to fall, like just knowing that, you know what, if it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. It's got you one step further. And one step closer to finding what the next thing might be’.

‘You kind of just got to crack on and then there's no going back, you can't row backwards, sort of, it's only about having the confidence to step into taking on the Pacific’.

‘You've got to understand that there are things you can't control. So you've done everything you can control. And now the rest is up to the gods, basically. And you're going to have to be able to be adaptable and flexible’.

‘The girls hated confrontation. They weren't used to giving and receiving feedback. That was always felt like a personal threat. I just had to put myself in the barrier first. I be like, “Right, cool, okay, if you're not going to give it and you're going to say everything's rosy when it's not, I’ll pull it out”’.


About Laura

Laura Penhaul is one of the world's most respected physiotherapists. She helps train many of the top athletes in Olympic sailing and the Paralympics. 

Laura is known for her nine-month, 9000-mile crossing of the Pacific in a rowboat. She managed a team of four women known as the Coxless Crew; she was the expedition's team leader and organiser. The expedition is featured in a documentary called Losing Sight of Shore.

Connect with Laura through Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.


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Post a review and share it! If you enjoyed tuning in, then leave us a review. You can also share this with your family and friends so they can learn more about stories of strength and mental resilience.

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For more episode updates, visit my website. You may also tune in on Apple Podcasts.

To pushing the limits,



Full Transcript Of The Podcast! 

Welcome to Pushing the Limits, the show that helps you reach your full potential with your host Lisa Tamati, brought to you by

Lisa Tamati: Hi everyone, and welcome back to Pushing the Limits once again. Today, I have another world-leading, actually world-record-holding, superwoman. Now, this lady is Laura Penhaul from England, and Laura is one of the world's most respected physiotherapists. She helps train many of the top athletes in Olympic sailing and in Paralympics with people with disabilities. She's done an awful lot in high-performance sport. But what Laura is really known for is that Laura did a 9,000-mile crossing of the Pacific in a rowboat, you heard that right. Right across the Pacific. Nine months it took and she was the team leader and organiser of this whole expedition. She got four women together to do this epic event. And there is a documentary out called Losing Sight of Shore.

And today we discuss this mammoth expedition that Laura undertook. The funny thing is that Laura hadn't even been a rower before she took this on. But because she had worked so much with high-performance athletes, people pushing the limits of endurance, and people with disabilities doing crazy things. She wanted to understand what is it that makes some people so resilient and strong, and other ones want to give up when they're faced with a trauma. And she thought, 'I don't need to wait until something drastic happens in my life, and my health has taken off me or my mobility, or I have an accident or I have something to wake up. I can actually take on some mammoth task so that I can start to understand what it actually takes and what resilience and strength is all about'. And she felt like she didn't have the right to be leading and guiding other people if she didn't have that experience herself. So she set off on a mission, what she thought would take them a year to do for a status to organise this expedition across the Pacific.

And they knew that taking it four years of preparation, we go into the, all the details of putting together such a high-performance team, it's a fantastic interview. She really is a superwoman. I'm in awe over here, I can't imagine being in a 29-foot boat for anything more than about two hours, I reckon, before I'd start going nuts, so she's pretty impressive, this lady. And before we head over to the show, just want to remind you, we've launched now, our patron program for the podcast. So if you want to become a premium member of our podcast tribe, if you like, we'd love you to come and join us here on over to And we'd love to see you over, the, it's all about keeping the show going. We've been doing it now for five and a half years each and every episode takes me a long time to put together to chase these world-leading experts, to do the research that I need to do, especially when it's dealing with scientific topics, and a test takes an awful amount of time.

And to keep it going we need your help. And we wanted to give you lots of benefits too so people who do get in behind the podcast and help us provide this super valuable content to everybody get a whole lot of exclusive member benefits. So we'd love you to check it out. Go to for more information on that. And on that note before we just hit over to Laura, I just want to remind you about my new longevity and anti-ageing supplement NMN Nicotinamide Mononucleotide. You would have heard a couple of times in the podcast I had Dr Elena Seranova and we're going to have her on more often. She's a molecular biologist and tells us all about the ways that we can help with anti-ageing. And one of those things is by taking Nicotinamide Mononucleotide, which is a very, very powerful supplement. It's an NAD precursor that helps up-regulate the sirtuin genes, helps provide a bigger pool of NAD to every cell in the body and helps on a very, very deep level. The ageing working against the ageing process and who doesn't want to know about them if you want to find out all about it and all the science behind it, please go to Right, now over to the show with Laura Penhaul.

Lisa: Well, hi everyone, and welcome to Pushing the Limits. Today I'm super excited. I have an amazing, amazing guest for you. I really do find the most incredible people and this lady is a superwoman. So welcome to the show. It's really, really nice to have you Laura. Laura Penhaul is sitting in Cornwall in England. Laura, how's your day going? Well, you're not going.

Laura Penhaul: Oh I was gonna say yeah no, it's been great. Do it. Yeah, it's now eight o'clock in the evening. So yeah, no, it's all good. It's been a beautiful sunny day.

Lisa: Oh lovely, lovely. So Laura is an amazing person who does expeditions and as a physio, Laura, can you give us a little bit of background? I want you to tell your story in your words, give us a bit of a synopsis about what you do and what the critical things. I mean I've done a bit in the intro so, but I really want your words, if you like.

Laura: Yeah, no props well, firstly, yes. Thanks, Lisa for having me on the show. It's been an honour because I think you're a superwoman more than me.

Lisa: Hell no.

Laura: But no I mean yeah, my background is I worked in elite sport, in Olympic and Paralympic sport for over 14 years. Sort of went to Vancouver, London, Rio, Tokyo cycles. And yeah during that kind of journey, and that was as lead physio in different sports, whether that was downhill skiing, whether it was with British Athletics Paralympic team. And more recently, I was with the British sailing team. And during that sort of journey as a physio like, the role that we have, as physios, physical therapists are very much kind of, you know, you're seeing somebody through a journey. And like when I worked with them and we've worked with patients in trauma, worked versus kind of, you know, in spinal cord injuries, and then straight to Paralympic sport, I've been surrounded by people that have been faced with significant adversity.

And it's sort of, it's always along my journey of my career, have I been fascinated by understanding the person in front of me and kind of going, there's usually two types of people when they've been thrown a massive curveball, like an RTA or road traffic accident, or something horrendous, that is completely changed their life for the rest of their life. Those two, there's people that can go through the same type of thing. And yet one person wakes up, being so thankful that they're alive, they're now going to make the most of life. And then somebody else that wakes up and they're like, they wish they didn't wake up.

And as a physio dealing with those two people, you've got to have a very different approach. And in the, kind of—to me, understanding that person that wants to give up and actually being able to change their mindset and facilitate, go shoulder to shoulder with them is really powerful. And then those people that do wake up and want to thrive, like they're the ones that have inspired me to do more stuff, because I'm like, why do we wait for adversity? Why do we wait for something to be a curveball before we then, like, start to go, ‘Oh, my God, I need to make the most of life like I’m fit. And I'm healthy. I need to make the most of life because clearly stuff could happen in an hour’s time.

Lisa: At any time.

Laura: Exactly. So that's kind of what then drove me to start to do more and more personally, and kind of a bit of exploratory expedition space. And then the real, so that led me to ride the Pacific Ocean, which is kind of you know what, we're talking about.

Lisa: You said it again, you just rode the Pacific Ocean is, I just dropped it as a, to yeah, and then I rode the Pacific Ocean. So you were into sailing and into rowing and into all of that sport, as prior, this was your thing?

Laura: No. Well, that's the thing, no wasn't in all honesty. I was, I'm kind of a jack of all trades like I love anybody, any athletes, anybody that I work with, I want to understand them. And I want to understand the sport, the environment that they're in. So when I was working with skiers, I went off and did a ski season. I learned to ski when I, and I'm somebody that, yeah, I love to do different sports and outdoors, the sort of outdoor environments. And if I was working with marathon runners, I was like, I can't fully treat them if I don't understand, if I haven't run a marathon like, to me, I need to experience what they've experienced, even in a small way to kind of get a glimpse of the environment.

So I would run a marathon, same with triathletes, and, you know, not to the extent of your, sort of did a half Ironman, and then the point was the Paralympic cohort when I was working with them. I was like, this is an area that I can't untap you know, yeah.

Lisa: Yeah.

Laura: I can do it, but I can't understand what it is to be a Paralympian.

Lisa: Yep.

Laura: However, how can I put myself in a situation which is completely unknown, that's kind of gonna make me want to give up. And I want to understand what it is we draw on when we can't give up you know, we've only got one option.

Lisa: Yep.

Laura: So I kind of, that's what I was searching for, for a couple of years of searching for something that was going to be out of my comfort zone completely and was going to be a challenge on multiple levels.

Lisa: Sure must have been.

Laura: Yeah, yeah, exactly. And I guess at the time, I was doing, sort of, triathlons. I was enjoying them. But anything that was cycling, running, swimming, I felt like this would be expected and I kind of would already be a bit familiar with it. So when I suddenly heard about ocean rowing, I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is ideal'. I've always wanted to row but never did it. Then never got a chance to, so I'd never rode before. I've never lost sight of shore. Like, you know, I've never been out at sea properly, never sailed or any of that stuff. Well, a bar like going on a few trips. But yeah, not a sailor by anyway, shape or form. 

So it was, I was, and that just connected, you know, when something, an opportunity comes up and you're like, ‘This is exactly what I've been looking for'. And it was a proper light bulb moment. And the thing for me, it's the one time in my whole life that I've been so focused, like, ‘I have to make this happen'. Because I know, in my heart of hearts, I know what I'm going to get out of this is going to be huge.

Lisa: Wow.

Laura: And that basically is why starting point with it, it was kind of, I didn't know how to row, I went from being a marathon weight of like, something stupid, like 58 kilos up to, I had to go up to 72 kilos to grow on mass, you know, to be not skinny, because we lose a lot of weight out there. I had to put a team together, whereas, in my personal sport, I was doing quite individual sports. So, you know, I had to work out the team cohesion, the whole team dynamics, and recruitment. I had to figure out what the boat was, get it built, like then set up this as a business, you know, so. So yeah, so the whole journey it was, I mean, now on reflection, there's so many learnings from it. But I absolutely thrive from the self-awareness piece, how much I've learned about myself, and the different perspectives. And you know, approaching that row, my approach is very much like, this is all brand spanking new. So if I can approach it with a blank canvas, if I can have a real adaptive mindset, and if I surround, if I've now gone on the other side of the table, rather than surrounding athletes, if I surround myself with the relevant expertise, how far can I get? And how far can I really experience that athlete?

Lisa: Yeah, sorry, just my brother's just come in the middle of the podcast it’s all right. There. Come on Mitch, get around the other side. Yeah, this is podcast life for you. Didn't tell your brother you’re recording.

There was so much here that I wanted to unpack. Because there was like, you just skipped over a ton of stuff. Number one, you had no idea. So what gave you the confidence, what was the little voice inside you saying, ‘I can do this’, when you're in a completely unknown sport? Like what was it that made you think, ‘Oh, yeah, I can ride across the Pacific on a row across the Pacific, you know, for nine months, and that all worked out well'. You know, how did you even come up with a concept for something so audacious?

Laura: Well, I mean, it's all about small pieces, isn't it, and kind of reaching out to those that have done stuff and those that you respect and have the expertise. So it was basically breaking it, breaking the journey down. First of all, one is that route even possible? So initially, somebody had asked me to be part of the Indian Ocean, and they were putting a team together and then I evolved it into the Pacific. And then somebody, I was like, well, actually, originally, it might have been the new ocean wave race, which just goes from San Fran to Hawaii. And I was like, well, that's not the Pacific. That's a third of it, like so if I'm going to say I'm going to row the Pacific. I want to row, can I row all of it?

Yeah. So it was then reaching out to somebody from a logistical point of view and a support structure point of view saying, ‘Is this even feasible? And what would it look like?’ And when they said, 'Yes'. I was like, right, okay. So that's route can get involved, this is what it's going to look like. We're going to need to start, we're going to need to replenish, but it's doable. But it's going to take this time frame. And then it was kind of like right, in order for me to get prepped and the team to get prepped, what's the time frame that it's going to take to do that? Let's be realistic. And I wasn't realistic. I was naive, I thought it would only take us about a year to get to the start line. And hell no. It took four years to get to start, like four years.

Lisa: Four years. That’s massive.

Laura: Yeah, so it was. But interestingly, there's so many parallels, you know, like working in Olympic sport, everything's in four-year cycles for the Olympic cycle. And so there's so much that I learned through that process of, I thought I was only going to go in a year's time. That didn't happen. We didn't have the funding. I didn't got the team, the boat wasn't finished, you know, it was like, right, I need to go again. I need to reset. I need to sort of keep the ball rolling. But I need to learn from what failures have had here. And how do I overcome them?

Lisa: Wow.

Laura: The second year, I didn’t quite have to win I thought it was but it's all that sort of stuff. You go, yeah, you can give up why it's such a clear vision with it. And the question in my head was, ‘There's going to be an all-female team that is going to do this at some point. Like, why can't it be me? And I'm sure that will happen in my lifetime'. So what am I missing? What are the things that I can't see? That's in my blind spots. And that's where I started to reach out, to pull in different people to say, right, ‘This is the problem I've got, how can you help me’? How can you see and it was that reaching out for help with the right expertise that got us to the start line? It wasn't me. It was the collective bigger support team around us.

Lisa: How did you even, like the resources and the money in the financial and the sponsorship, when you didn't have a—I mean, you had a backstory as a high-performance expert, and helping other people in training and so on. But, you know you didn't have, you weren't—there were no huge amount of resources behind you. How did you—I know what I had to go through to get to the races that I did. And that was probably a heck of a lot less than what you had to go through. How did you face that? And what did you learn on the business side of the journey, the marketing, all of that sort of stuff?

Laura: Yeah, I mean–

Lisa: Selling the idea to people.

Laura: Yeah, the money. It kind of—it’s exactly that. I think it's showing the belief, like the absolute dogged determinedness, that this is going to happen, and you know, like, I put in my own swag to it. I paid for the boat built in the first place. So I'm like, I'm gonna do this, like, do you want to be part of it or not? But I want to do this regardless. Yeah.

Lisa: So basically, how I did too.

Laura: This is not my approach. But you know, I mean, I say that, but let's face it, I was useless at kind of asking for money, like, you know, it's great, you're doing it for charities. But to ask to support me, and like our journey. I was crap. You know, I'm a physio, I like to help people. I don't like asking for help. You know, at the time, I was very much in that poor sort of leadership style. And that's a big, that was a big learning point. But then reaching out to people that do work in business and do work in sponsorship. And they were the people that then helped me to shape sort of your sponsorship deck and how you need to brand it, what's your, you know, the colours, the language, all of that type of stuff.

Lisa: Wow.

Laura: And I loved it because I mean, I love learning. So suddenly, I was entering a snippet of a different world that I knew nothing about previously. Same with like the PR side of it, I had no idea but that was great fun, and, and the business model itself, like yeah became a business and I thought it was all about the physical and that was totally not it was 10% of like the project. And then yeah, so like you say, setting up a business no Scooby-Doo about and so simplicity was reaching out to people that had been successful had done it before. And the likes of, you know, Mark Beaumont, that we've talked about before like Mark. Mark is somebody that's an elite athlete, expedition athlete, he'd actually at the time rode the Atlantic, and unfortunately, they nearly died at sea. So I'd reached out to him to learn from his experiences from the actual failures, more, I don't want necessarily the successes, but, and he then was great at providing me with a bit more of the structure for you know, the timeline, the budget that this, that in the other room.

Lisa: Wow.

Laura: How you sort of need to get the sponsorship. And yeah, so I think to me, it's about as you know, if you hold, if this is a new space and you hold an ego thinking you're going to, then you're never gonna get anywhere.

Lisa: You’re gonna get your ass kicked.

Laura: Yeah, basically, just whereas for me, yeah, well, I don't mind. I don't mind saying I don't know something. I'm happy to ask why and how and who can help…

Lisa: You can be very humble, we can tell that five minutes of talking to you, you know.

Laura: Thank you very much.

Lisa: And how did you get a team together? Because you get four ladies, you rode the Pacific and people were talking like nine months and a rowboat unsupported, like from California to Cairns, wasn’t it? It's great. Yeah. There's a documentary out on it. If people want to find out we'll work out with it with the link sir. And how they can get hold of it perhaps afterwards. Four ladies in a rowboat, rowing across the lake. I mean, to the average person who doesn't know anything about rowing? It sounds absolutely insane. And I, like, I said to my husband, I was interviewing this morning and I said I couldn't last 24 hours in a rowboat. I probably couldn't last four hours in a rowboat. How do you comprehend nine months like that for me? Is, I mean, I've never done anything on that scale, of that long. You know, like, the longest thing I ever did was run through New Zealand which was a sustained effort over 42 days. And that well nearly bloody killed me, you know. But that's not nine months, you know, little logistics and all that. Wow.

Laura: Yeah, but you know what, I've been, flipping heck, you know. 40 odd days that you're running the lengths of New Zealand, like that is insane. So you could have...

Lisa: That’s a hell lot easier than rowing.

Laura: It’s not though! I mean, it's all about perspective, isn't it? And it's all about the context that you're in. And this is the thing that I get really passionate about is, I want to optimise people's own elite performance, like, not comparative to anybody else, like, what's your—so what you're really is your achievement of like, 42 days and everything else you've achieved is huge. Whereas somebody else's 42 days of running, will be running a marathon like that will be—it's about that gap analysis, like, where you'd got yourself to, to then be able to take on the 42-day sort of challenge. Like that was a big old leap, but you're already like, sort of—your experiences, and you'd prepped yourself for that.

Lisa: Yes, years and years.

Laura: Yeah, and where is somebody who's on a couch, but then is setting their sights of running a marathon. That's their 42 days, like, that's their elite performance for them. And the row for us? Yeah, it was a big old leap, but it was fundamentally, it was broken down. Like I think sometimes you must have found this with the run, you're talking about there and everything else. You've got to break it down, like you certainly in the preparation phase, you've got to plan every inch and every sort of crook of it within its life so that you don't leave any stone left unturned. You feel like you're best prepared, that gives you confidence, to then have capacity to deal with the unknown when you're faced with it. So to me, that sort of, I always wanted to leave, like, at least 30% of capacity in my headspace to make sure I can react to when I need to.

Lisa: You can handle it.

Laura: Exactly, and deal with the unknown. If I mean, if we'd gone on that row in that first year, Jesus Christ, like most of it was unknown, like that. I was so naive, it was ridiculous. But by the time you know, it's four years down the line, I felt so confident in actually we've trialed the boat, we've done 72 hours, we've done a couple of weeks. We've done team testing, we've done routines, we've done steep depot, we've done the training, we've done the site support, you know, all of those, every aspect of it. I feel like we took out and then it was a case of right, well, then we just need to do this on a day and day out. And then however long that's gonna last for it's just sticking to routines, which you know, the same in whatever you do.

Lisa: The more you do the more it becomes normal.

Laura: Exactly. And then it's kind of like, Well, actually, once you lose sight of shore, whether you're out there for five days, five weeks, five months, actually doesn't make much difference.

Lisa: You’re in this shit anyway. Too far from home anyway, you've lost sight of shore!

Laura: Yeah, you kind of just got to crack on and then, you know, there's no going back, you can't row backwards, sort of, it's only about, you know, having the confidence to step into taking on the Pacific. And for us, you know, yes, we rowed the Pacific literally, but to me, it was the essence of everybody's got their own Pacifics to cross like...

Lisa: Yes. 

Laura: ...our film’s called Losing Sight of Shore because it's about having the courage to lose sight of shore, like, have that sort of courage to just step away from the comfort, step away from the knowns. And like, Oh, my God, you know, that's where life just opens up and expose.

Lisa: Because you know, I had Paul Taylor, who's a neuroscientist, and ex-British Navy guy, and exercise physiologist on the show last week, and he's talking about the small bubble where you can live in or the big bubble. And the big bubble is where we all want to be, you know, where we’re reaching our potential and we are filling and where are all these amazing things that we could do. We know that that bubble was there. But we're all scared living in this little comfort zone. And how do you push outside because that outside is risk of failure, and in your case risk of dying. You know, there was so much that you put on the line physically, mentally, financially, emotionally, relationships, you know. You name it, you put it on the line for this one thing, and that is living in that big bubble and scaring the crap out of yourself and doing it anyway.

Most people have this tendency to want to be comfortable in and I see this as a massive problem in our society today is that we are all cozy and comfortable and sitting on the couch watching Netflix and we are warm and we don't push ourselves for the gloom we don't push yourself. And this leads to disaster when it comes to resilience and being able to cope because you're been through this amazing adventure and expedition and you've risked everything, you must have an inner confidence that is just—and I know that you won't have it in all areas of life because this is certainly specific. And I know how that works because I'm really good and some things and really crap in others and I'm still working on my mindset in this area and that area or whatever, we're work in progress but you when you've lifted up your horizons to that big, nothing must daunt you in a way. Like he must be like, ‘Okay, whatever is coming at me, I can probably handle it'. Because you know, inside you have that resilience, which is so important.

Laura: Yeah. I mean, I think you're right. It's about context, isn't it? Like I—you know, I'm a risk-taker, but I'm a really calculated risk-taker, right.

Lisa: Yeah.

Laura: Exactly. So kind of the Pacific seems like it's ridiculous, and it's life threatening. I mean, I didn't leave any stone left unturned. I had military guys helping us to make sure we'd sort of not left stuff unturned. We went through survival practice. We, I mean, there was everything and the amount of sort of, you know, routines we had on the boat, leashes, and kind of safety equipment was next to none. Because I was like, the risk we've got is getting separated from the boat. So I'm risk-aware, really risk-aware. And, and kind of, and make sure that sort of don't leave any stone unturned so then I feel confident to go forwards. I wouldn't just leap into it like blindly.

Lisa: Yep, you shouldn’t.

Laura: Yeah exactly.

Lisa: Because you will die.

Laura: Yeah. But I mean, it's no different if you watch, I don't think like, you know, you watch Alex Honnold, climbing free solo, you know, the El Cap, sort of the climb, if anybody’s seen that film. I mean, it's phenomenal. And anybody would, you know, you watch it. You're like, ‘Oh, my God, that's insane. He’s free climbing that like, what if he just slipped’? What if this? What if that? But look at his meticulous approach to it.

Lisa: Yeah, one hand wrong.

Laura: Exactly. But then his meticulous approach, he hasn't just woken up that day one, right. So I'm going to climb up, you know, sort of freestyle at this thing. He's like, he's been off top-roping with it, he is kind of lead climbed it. He's, kind of, known every single holding place he's written it, he’s drawn it, he’s visualising it. And he's only done it when he feels completely ready, prepped. And that actually, there's no move in that that is going to be a risk. So, therefore, he's a calculated risk-taker. And it is extreme when you watch it, but the preparedness is totally there.

Lisa: I couldn't do it. I didn't put the parachute on as I'm halfway down. You know, you do learn from that, you know. I remember going out into the race in Niger, which was 353Ks across one of the most dangerous landscapes in you know, places on Earth, countries on Earth. And we were meant to have food come from France, and it didn't arrive. And I wasn't prepared. I didn't have my own stash, I didn't, my husband at the time, my ex-husband there. He did, you know, like, and when you're doing things like that, and you end up with food poisoning, and you're, you know, vomiting and shitting your way across the Sahara. And you realise, you know, you could have avoided that. That’s sort of a big lesson and do your preparation better, you know. Don't be so cavalier with your, ‘I am going to go and, you know, run 100 miles, and I haven't even trained for a marathon yet'. No, no, you know, and I had to learn those things the hard way because I had a tendency just to dive in. And this is all exciting. And let's do it.

Laura: But then you learned that didn’t you?

Lisa: Yeah, but it's not a good way to learn in the middle of the Sahara. It’s better to learn previously.

Laura: Yeah, that is sure. But yeah, I mean, you still but you learn and I think that's one of the biggest takeaways, of whenever we talk about failure and stuff. It is not a failure, if you, unless you don’t learn from it. And leaping sometimes is exactly what you need to do, and it's just not being scared to fall, like just knowing that, you know what, if it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. It's got you one step further. And one step closer to finding what the next thing might be.

Lisa: Yeah.

Laura: So yeah, just it's having that like you say, that the sort of the robustness, the resilience or whatever it is to bounce back to kind of jump back up to ask the questions. ‘Well, why didn't that work? And let's try it a different way', or learn from it and do something.

Lisa: Yeah, like you said, You reached out to Mark and he'd had, you know, nearly died and had actually failed in that particular expedition, done lots of other crazy stuff, but you know, and that one and it is those things like you are risking failure and you have to understand it from the outset. That you can take care of all the things you can prepare. You can get everything and you're still risking because, if this was easy, everyone would be doing it. And you have to be okay with the—this is something I try and get my athletes to understand. When you're actually done the work, you've done the boulder, you've done the—all the hard stuff that you knew now standing at the start line, that's actually to have time to celebrate and go, you know, ‘I've done the hard work. Now it's up to whatever's going to come my way'. And like you say, being able to adapt and to have the flexibility to take whatever's coming at you, which isn't always easy, but you have to sort of give up those—I think the consequences of what if, what if, what if, because if you’re constantly asking yourself, for ‘What if I don't make that time?’ You know, say you're running a marathon, or I want to do it in under three and a half hours, or whatever the case may be, and then you're so like, ‘Oh, no’, and then it takes you three hours and thirty-two and you know, ‘I'm a failure’, you know, like, hang on a minute, no, hang on. That's not how it works.

Laura: Yeah.

Lisa: Yeah, you've got to understand that there are things you can't control. So you've done everything you can control. And now the rest is up to the gods, basically. And you're going to have to be able to be adaptable and flexible. And that was one of the things in your website, talking about adaptive, being adaptive in your performance. And I think that's a really good thing because we cannot control like… You can be having a bad day at the office and get up and you feel sick and your immune system’s down and you've got your period and you've, you know, whatever the case may be. And you weren't bargaining with that, you know, so you have to be able to work, ‘I need to still go because there's no way back. How do I deal with it’? You know?

Laura: Yeah, and I think it's a really valid point. Because I mean, even in the row halfway through, and it's in the films, it's not kind of confidential stuff. One of the girls, like, she just completely changed her personality, right, because that was exactly the problem. She thought she could control the boat. She thought, you know, she was a rower. Out of all of us, she was somebody that actually had rowed since she was a kid and stuff. She thought ocean rowing was, you know. She didn't want to lose the passion. Unfortunately, yeah, it killed her passion. She didn't know then, she lost the sense of identity, all of that stuff.

Lisa: Oh yeah, real tough.

Laura: Yeah, awful. And, but because she was trying to control the boat, you know, like, the current, the wind was against us, like, those are things you cannot control. It’s a one ton boat, not one person is going to be able to control moving that in the direction you want it to go in. And so, but it was the collective of the team that enabled us to be able to rally around and understand, first of all, recognise the change in personality, it was a behaviour, it was yeah, there was something underlying. It was not her—well, it was, but there was something emotional that she couldn't verbalise straightaway. So hence, she just changed her personality type.

Lisa: Wow.

Laura: And then it was like the strength of the team to be able to rally together to support that. So kind of come at it from the right approach that she was able to share it, to then collectively go, we just need to see a different perspective on this stuff. And I think that's where, you know, a vast dynamic sort of team, you know, a diverse team sorry is what I meant, has got so much strength in it, because you know, what, when you see it through your own lens, there's only sort of one way. Whereas if you've got some diversity there, I just think it brings a different perspective. And suddenly, you're able to see, you can't control the uncontrollable, you know, you can only control the controllables. You can't control what's out of control.

And those things are the weather that is, you know, yes will prevent being ill or injured. But that might well happen. That, you know, is what it is. And if the boat sort of fails, but you whatever, then those are only three things that are going to be out of our control. And if anything happened there, then I wouldn't be. I would have been upset, I would be upset, but I wouldn't be throwing my toys out the pram because it isn't something we could control. And if the row didn't happen, we didn't finish because one of those three things, that is what it is.

Lisa: Yeah, it is what it is. And you've done your utmost. And I mean, I've failed on different expeditions and things that I’ve done, like really fallen on my face, you know, with, you know, documentary crews there have captured all on film as you just absolutely completely faceplant. And, you know, and it takes a long time to get up again, and it knocks the crap out of you. And, you know, but it's part of that, okay, well, this is the game wherein, you know, we’re pushing the limits, and sometimes, you know, you are human and you don't have the resources or one of the things that I find really, really I'd love to and I think this probably needs its own podcast is the whole team dynamic thing. I mean, it's one thing to be a solo athlete that does things, you know, but it's a—couple of times when I've had to be in a team situation. I find it really, really tough because you were reliant...

I did one in the Himalayas, and we're trying to do the world's highest marathon ever done. And I was with a guy who was a mountaineer and used to altitude and very at home in that space. And I wasn't. And I don't—I've done a couple of things at altitude and sort of survive by the skin of my teeth. I'm an asthamtic and I don't really do well on the mountains. So take on, you know, the world's highest mountain. Good idea. And we'd be in shape. And I got sick. I got altitude sickness, and I couldn't even start my body. I couldn't even tie my shoelaces. 

But the worst thing was that he changed. The person that he was down here was not the person that he was up there, and, it ended up being quite nasty, and quite, detrimental. And he's not here to defend himself. So I'm not gonna say anything too much. But it wasn't a nice situation to be in — I did not trust that if I was in the shutout there, that we would work together as a team to get through it. I felt like, now, he wouldn't do that. 

And then so now I'm like, very, very always aware of if I'm teaming up with people like we've got at the moment, this weekend in my hometown, that Oxfam 100, it's 100-kilometre event where lots of just normal everyday people are doing 100Ks, which is like amazing, walking, and they're doing it in, you know, teams of four, and the staff are going to go through... And there'll be people that are, you know, expeditions bring out the worst and bring out the best in people. And you don't know until you're in the situation with them, which way are they going to go, and which way you're going to go. I mean, I can become, I've been a really horrible person on some of my, you know, with my crew on different occasions where I've just lost my shit because I'm in so much pain, sleep deprivation, motions are up the wazoo. And you just, you know, you're snappy, irritable, you know, just horrible. Afterwards, I’m heading to go and say, ‘I'm very sorry'. You know?

So how did you deal with that over nine months like that on steroids? Like the dynamic—four women—everybody's having their highs and lows at different points in there. How did you cope with that? I mean, you're obviously,  you've mentioned the one person and how you helped pull together, it takes incredible leadership to keep a team like that together for nine months, no matter how wonderful you all are.

Laura: Yeah, that I mean, don't get me wrong, you still have arguments and stuff, but it was all in the preparation. And it was, we knew I mean, so it is a 29th version rowing boat, right. So it's kind of the size of Greg Rutherford's, it's got the world record for the long jump, right? So it is, kind of, his long jump is the size of our boat. So it's a really small space. And then when you're cramped into the cabin, there's two of you. And if it's stormy, then all four of you are either in that or two in each cabin. So it's a tight, confined space. So it was really clear from the outset that this team had to be, we had to be cohesive, we had to be really transparent. And something I was particularly pedantic about was, I never want to leave a permanent issue. Like if there's an issue, we need to confront it, we will have to step forward into it. We can't, I don't want any bitchiness like, there was, that was always been, sort of my approach to most things. Like, I can't stand the whole talking to other people, rather than talking to the individual that you've got an issue with. You just need to step into that as much as it might feel uncomfortable.

And I guess, working in a performance context, we're scrutinised on a daily basis, you know. We're kind of everybody's asking you why what are you doing, you know, type stuff, you've got to justify, you feel like you're under a spotlight all the time. So you start to feel this kind of separation, you know, look kind of right. No, this is they're asking me that because of the person in front of us or the, you know, the end goal, that's what it's about. It's got nothing to do with me personally. We're just trying to optimise what we need to do. So when, my, I pulled this, the sort of the team came together, a lot of it, I was like, how do we stress test this, like, we have to stress test it because–

Lisa: Hell yeah.

Laura: –exactly. And that's where I, you know, I started working with Keith, the performance psychologist. I reached out to him so I was like, there's got to be more depth to this, you know, we need tools we need to I need to know what I'm going to draw on when I'm wanting to give up like, what's going to be my go-to’s, I'm going to, I need to know how I can respond and react to different personalities and stuff and how they're going to react to each other.

So Keith was the absolute rock to the success of our journey, in all honesty. I worked with him for four years and I still worked with him. I still work with him, sorry, to this day. And Keith, sort o—he enabled us to sort of understand the differences in our personalities from the basics of just doing psychometrics and stuff, but pretty in-depth ones. And then analyzing that a little bit more and playing it out in different scenarios, and then really forcing us to kind of do the round table. Yeah, because—and the girls hated confrontation. They weren't used to giving and receiving feedback. That was always felt like a personal threat. Yeah. So I just had to put myself in the barrier first. So I be like, ‘Right, cool, okay, if you're not going to give it and you're going to say everything's rosy when it's not, I’ll pull it out'. ‘So this is what's not going so well. And this is not going so well. Right now give it back to me, hit me’, like because then as soon as I've given it they're happy to give it back to me because I think I'm being—yeah exactly. That's fine.

And then I would show them that I was learning from it because I was. And there was— I— they would call me, I would have Laura number one, Laura number two, my personalities. And they—I didn't realise that until sort of, you know, going through the row and they're like, ‘Oh my god, it's Laura number two'. And Laura number two is somebody that when she starts getting, like, tired, hungry, all of that gubbins and, and sort of just a bit over it, I start getting really assertive. I'm very tunnel vision, and my empathy just goes. Whereas normal time, like I've got heaps of the empathy, until it gets to a point…

Lisa: Yeah, yeah. So like me.

Laura: And so they’d be like, all right, Laura number two. Because we then had a language that was a little bit disconnected to the personal and it made a bit of fun of it, then we sort of were able to sort of take a pause, hear it and stuff.

But we had loads of loads of methodologies that we built, we'd worked on to try and get to that point. And that was sort of to the point with there, though, is that is not to say we didn't have any arguments, because we did like, I mean Nat and I, in particular, completely different personalities. She is like a, she's a beautiful character. She is Miss Mindful, she is in the moment, and she is just totally there. She's talking about the sky and the sea and the colours. Whereas I'm Miss Planner. Like I'm already in Cannes, I'm thinking about fear, I’m planning, and what do we need to do, what do we need to sort out? So, you know, when we did the team testing before, this was during selection of the team. I remember when I met Nat, I was like, ‘Oh, god, no, we are poles apart. There's just no way', you know because I was trying to see it through. I was only seeing it through my own lens of who I was getting a rapport with.

But I brought her onto the team testing weekend, which was, I'd gone to some ex-military guys. And I said, ‘Look, we need to be tested. I need to see what we're like when we're cold, we’re hungry, really sore, in pain. You need to physically push us. You need to mentally push us'. Well. And so we did like a 72-hour sleep depot type thing, you know, in the Brackens in Wales, yeah. On reflection that was like, yeah, that was it was great fun and obviously hated it during. I remember, like during it, sort of Nat in particular, as a personality that stood miles out because when she came on to it, I was thinking oh she can come along. But she's, I don't think that I’m going to be selecting her. And then Nat was the one that, you know, she might not have been the fittest. But even when she was struggling, and she was in pain, she had a sense of humour. When I was starting to struggle, she made me laugh. And I was like, ‘Oh my god, there's not many people that can do that while I'm in that space'.

Lisa: Yeah.

Laura:  And I'm like, this isn't just about me. But for the comfort of the team, like we need that. Because otherwise, I will make this too serious. I will. When it gets into it, it will be too boring and serious. I need a sense of humour in this. And she is, she's got it in abundance. And she kept us at the moment.

Lisa: Wow, yep.

Laura: As well. Like, I needed that mindfulness when we're out to sea because otherwise, I wouldn't have remembered half the things that went on and I wouldn't have recognised and seen it.

Lisa: Isn't that amazing? So looking at the strengths and differences can actually end up being the thing that holds you together rather than pulls you apart.

Laura: A hundred percent.

Lisa: And I just think in this space I have to connect you with Paul Taylor, he will love you. He's a resilience expert that I was mentioning before and yeah, I think it when you have characters and I've started to do this just with for myself even now I have these different characters, you know, there's the good me and there's bad me and the good means like Wonder Woman, she can do anything and she's amazing. 

And he has all these character traits that you know I aspire to and want to have and that side of me and then the other side's a real bitch, you know, she's a horrible, cynical, selfish person and those are both of me. And I know when you put this on—Paul talks about doing like cartoon characters and putting speech bubbles on them and actually giving them life and because it puts you outside of these characters that are fighting in your head, and you're trying to be that good one you want to be, but when you're hungry and cold and freezing, and you haven't slept in three days, and you're struggling somewhere, and God knows where. And you just want to go home and cry and hide under the covers and get mummy to give you a chicken soup. Well, you—it puts it outside of you, and it helps you see what you're doing. 

And even in daily things like, you know, I've been rehabilitating my mum now for five years, seven days a week. And you know, beginning first three years, it was like eight hours a day. So it was just, it was full, full-on. And then even longer than that in the first year. And I catch myself sometimes being so short and irritable because I'm like trying to multitask and trying to run my businesses and she's waiting for me and you know, like, you just find yourself snapping at somebody when you just feel like, you know, that asshole is sure is present, you know, and you're just like listening to yourself going, ‘How the hell do I get a grip on this?’

We're all human. And we're all working on this. And, you know, I go to my mum and I put her in bed at night time and a cuddle. And tell her, I say, 'You know, I'm sorry for being a bitch today, Ma. I’m sorry for snapping at you'. And she's so lovely. She's like, 'Oh, that's all right'. Like, you know. But we have moments where we're just not nice, and when you're in these extreme circumstances fad, the ones that come out, and this is a part of the dynamic thing that I find really, really fascinating in that whole resilience and teamwork, and how do you bring it all together? So, you know, we're going to have to wrap up this one, because I've really enjoyed talking to you, Laura. But I really would like to have you on a couple of times, because I think there's much more to this actual story because we haven't even got to talking about well, what was it actually like to row? How did you, you know, do, what did you actually do on a daily basis? And how do you plan for such a thing? And how do you have such a big project and deal with it? And so I'm really glad that we've made this connection, and I'm very, very keen to have you on the show again, if you, because we've really just been part one, I think.

Laura: Let's see… No, I’ll be honoured to come back on. There’s so much I think we connect with in, and we can talk about for sure, especially in that headspace how we can be… What we've both learned from the experiences that we faced and continue to learn, I think is always an exciting journey.

Lisa: Yeah.

Laura: Yeah, I'd be honoured to come back on it. It’s been great.

Lisa: That would be fantastic because I think also the work that you've done with Paralympians and, you know, people that have worked with disabilities and trauma, we haven't even unpacked that either. Because I think that, you know, we can learn a heck of a lot from people that have gone through, you know, all these dramas and so on, me, I learn every day from Mum, like, her mindset is just like, incredibly strong, resilient. And so I'd like to unpack some of that stuff as well. So Laura, thank you very much for your time today. I think you're a rock star, where can people find you? And where can they get involved in what you're doing? And, you know, do whatever you got available? Because you've got some really good lessons to share with people. So tell us where we can find you.

Laura: Yeah, I mean, on usual social media, sort of, the Instagram or Twitter or LinkedIn, just @laurapenhaul. And that sort of, you know, P-E-N-H-A-U-L is my surname. So yeah, reach out to that we've also got our endurance book. So where we've sort of added science behind, kind of some of the endurance sort of focus is on GCN, which is a Global Cycling Network website, or our podcast is Endurance as well, which is where's Mark Beaumont, which I co-author on.

Lisa: So I'm very keen to meet and hopefully get on the show as well. Yeah, hook me up there.

Laura: Yeah, Keith will get you on that as well. I think you've got a lot to add and share their experiences for sure.

Lisa: I'd love to. That would be an absolute honor. Laura, you're one hell of a strong woman. I can't wait to see where you go and in the future in what you know, what you take on. God forbid is probably going to be big, and thank you for sharing. I think you have such great knowledge to share with people and you have a duty to get that information out there because this is the sort of stuff that helps people. So thank you very much for your time today Laura.

That's it this week for Pushing the Limits. Be sure to rate, review, and share with your friends and head over and visit Lisa and her team at




Apr 15, 2021

When people think about today’s guest, tenacity is probably the first word that comes to mind. Everything she accomplished today stems from her unwavering self-belief and deep understanding that you must also take care of yourself. Through this perspective, she has taught herself and countless others how to overcome challenges. And like her, we’ve encountered countless adversities. We’ve all been in a place of anger, frustration, guilt or sadness.

How do we begin to accept and love ourselves and learn to grow from it?

In this week’s episode, Kim Morrison joins us to teach us all about self-love. She shares how she questioned human existence and purpose after a life-changing event and what we should be asking ourselves whenever we go through intense emotions. Kim also tells us how to overcome challenges and trauma, and discusses different helpful processes like hypnosis.

If you want to find out how to overcome challenges, achieve self-love and accomplish your goals, then tune in to this episode!


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Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Find out how to overcome challenges.
  2. Discover the things you need to work on and achieve self-love.
  3. Learn about goal setting and the importance of aligning it with your values.

Episode Highlights

[05:57] A Little Bit About Kim

  • Kim grew up in New Zealand. She’s married to Danny Morrison, a former cricketer and fast-paced bowler.
  • Their world turned upside down when they lost a sister to suicide. They then lost their house and a lot of money that they had invested.
  • Seeing her husband go through a world of emotions made Kim question what makes humans tick and why we struggle and go through such tough times.
  • This led her to write several books around essential oils and started her passion for plants, aromatherapy, and connection to nature. 
  • Lately, she has been interested in mind work like neuro-linguistic programming and hypnosis.

[10:09] What She’s Learned in the Past Years

  • You are the result of the five people with whom you spend the most time.
  • We can have a significant event happen in our lives that causes us emotional trauma. Depending on our filter system and body physiology, it then affects our behaviour.
  • A fascinating thing Kim found out is that the meaning we put into our early childhood can then affect what our lives become. 
  • When you have awareness around it, you can undo this.
  • What happens to you does not matter. What matters is your reaction and perception of it.

[18:44] How Trauma Affects Us 

  • Humans are made up of 50 trillion cells, and every one of those cells is communicating.
  • Unconsciously, so much is happening in our body because of homeostasis.
  • It takes time, effort, energy and real work on how to overcome challenges presented by trauma.
  • You must seek professional help. There’s also a lot of free services out there. 
  • You need to take the time to take care of yourself.

[24:02] How to Overcome Challenges 

  • Most people’s excuses for why they do not work on themselves are time and money, but those are not true. In truth, it is about whether or not you make yourself a priority.
  • Own up to your emotions with power instead of having a victim mentality.
  • To have a friend who is a good listener, or to be that friend, is one of the best fast-track pathways to self-care.
  • Lastly, to learn how to overcome challenges, you need discipline. 
  • Life has its highs and lows, and if we can come to accept that, then that is self-love. To heal, we have to truly feel our emotions.

[33:35] The Reticular Activating System and Goal Setting

  • The reticular activating system is a part of our brain that stores memories. It has filters and a whole belief system.
  • We receive 2 million bits of information every day, but we only have access to 136 bits.
  • Sometimes, your goal does not match your value. 
  • You have to have your goal aligned with your top three values. To do this, you need to do some work.
  • What we believe, perceive and focus on is where our energy goes. If our goals aren’t aligned, we look for excuses to not accomplish them. 

[43:23] The Hypnosis Process

  • Hypnosis is about tapping directly into the unconscious mind.
  • When someone uses hypnotic language, it puts us into a subconscious trance.
  • Your mind can then go on a journey, and we can tap into the heart space. It allows us to bypass the critical factor and create change.
  • When you come out to the other side, you see possibility and opportunity instead of negativity.
  • Breath is the essence of life. When we go into a state of hypnosis, we are letting go of the breath and accessing our energy.

[50:37] Our Perception of the World

  • Everything we have ever experienced is just a belief or a perception; it is never the truth.
  • If we imagine the world from someone else’s perspective, we gain more understanding.
  • Every time you feel yourself going into a place of anger, frustration, guilt, or sadness, ask yourself, ‘For what purpose am I feeling this?’ or simply ask, ‘Why?’

[56:47] On Negative Thoughts

  • As negative thoughts enter your mind, ask seven whys. 
  • We often have two characters in our head, one who is positive and another who is negative. 
  • If you ask the seven why’s to those characters, you will find out that both have the same purpose – to protect you.




7 Powerful Quotes from this Episode

‘And the thing I love about it is that when you realise it and have an awareness around who you are and what you've been doing, the world becomes your oyster, and we stop blaming; we stop becoming the victim, we stop being in denial, we stop making excuses for our life. And we actually take accountability, responsibility and ownership for every single thing.’

‘And I say that with a disclaimer, that it's really important that in these times of worry and fear and stress and overwhelm, that you seek help. If you're feeling like your world is closing in, you're not your own coach; you’re not your own best coach; your partner's not necessarily the best coach or mentor for you through these times, neither are your parents. So sometimes we need professional help.’ 

‘Often, as we talk it to someone that's listening, truly listening without trying to fix us. When you're listening, we often talk through the process out loud because I believe all humans have all traits. And all humans have all resources within them to help heal themselves. But sometimes we just need to hear it.’

‘And if we could just understand that it's at our darkest times, we actually are revealed. Your strength comes through your courage, your determination, your tenacity, your resilience is what shows up.’

‘So we know that life is ebb and flow, high and low, in and out, dark and light. If we can come to accept that, then that is self-love.’

‘So the important thing to realise is that you have to have your goal aligned with your top three values. And if it's not aligned with any of your top three values, you're going to need some integration work to bring it up there if it's something you really want. Because otherwise, that's where the excuses come in.’

‘Just keep your mind stimulated with possibility. Because it's through the possibility we have grown, and through the growth we become way more powerful individuals. And with that, we start to then look at our higher purpose, and what legacy are we going to leave in this life.’ 


About Kim

Kim Morrison is a speaker, author, facilitator, health and lifestyle educator, self-love expert and entrepreneur. She set the world record as the youngest female to run 100 miles in less than 24 hours in 1983.

Kim has been an Aromatherapist for 27 years. She has diplomas in Holistic Aromatherapy, Sport and Remedial Therapies, Fitness Leadership and Homeobotanical Therapies in Melbourne and New Zealand. She is also a qualified Personality Trainer and completed studies in nutrition, reflexology and counselling. In 2009, Kim launched her company, Twenty8 Essentials.

To learn more about Kim, visit her website. Check out her podcast and connect with her on Instagram as well!


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Post a review and share it! If you enjoyed tuning in, then leave us a review. You can also share this with your family and friends so they can learn more about how to overcome challenges through self-love.

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To pushing the limits,



Full Transcript Of The Podcast

Welcome to Pushing The Limits, the show that helps you reach your full potential, with your host Lisa Tamati, brought to you by

Lisa Tamati: Welcome back to Pushing The Limits with your host Lisa Tamati. Today I have the lovely, dear friend, Kim Morrison, to guest. Kim is an absolute sweetheart. She's a speaker. She's a six-times author, a facilitator, health and lifestyle educator, podcaster herself. She is a self-love expert. And there's so much more to come than meets the eye. She's an absolute gorgeous woman inside and out. Tenacity is probably the first word that comes to mind. In her journey and all she’s accomplished today have all stemmed from her unwavering self-belief and her deep understanding that you must also take care of yourself first and foremost. She recently wrote a book called The Art of Self-Love, which I encourage you to check out after you've listened to this podcast. Kim is also, she’s an entrepreneur, she owns the company Twenty8 Essentials with essential oils. She does a lot of mentoring, especially with women's empowerment. She has her own podcast. She's also a world record holder as the youngest female to run 100 miles in less than, in 24 hours. So she's a very amazing athlete and mother. She's also the wife of Danny Morrison, the famous cricketer, and she's just an absolute legend. She's been through a lot in her life, and she shares in this episode a lot of her learnings along the way so I do hope you enjoy the episode with Kim. 

Before I head over to the show, just want to let you guys know we've just launched our premium membership for the podcast. If you love Pushing the Limits, if you love what we stand for, if you'd like to support the show and get a whole lot of extra benefits as premium members, and the list is long on the extra benefits, then I would love you to hop on over to That's and become one of our VIP members. One of our premium members that supports the podcast and the work that we do, and helps us keep getting this great content out there and get a whole lot of benefits, as you know to be a part of this exclusive club. So we're really, really stoked to get that up off the ground and we really appreciate your support. Of course, if you give us a rating and review for the shows too, that would be absolutely fabulous, and share it with your family and friends. We put a lot of effort into this. Sometimes some of the guests we have, top scientists, top doctors and researchers. It takes often many weeks to prepare for an interview and a lot of study, a lot of reading, a lot of books and also chasing celebrity guests and people that are of note that are hard to get hold of. So if you want me to be able to keep doing this work, I’d really appreciate your support over at

And while we're on that note, if you're into interesting reads, please check out my three books I have Running Hot, Running To Extremes which both chronicle my adventures running around the world doing lots of crazy stuff, succeeding, failing, having lots of fun and experiences and disasters along the way. So if you like a good novel, well, not a novel, they're actually autobiographies. But if you'd like good running stories and adventures then please check those out. And my latest book, Relentless: How a Mother and Daughter Defied the Odds is available on my website as well as on Amazon and IngramSpark and all the audiobooks and all of those sorts of places as well as Book Depository. You name it, it's out there. That one’s called Relentless and it's the story of bringing my mum back after a massive aneurysm left her with hardly any higher brain function, in a diagnosis where the medical professionals were telling me there was no way back for her at the age of 74, the brain damage was just too massive. They were wrong. This book is about empowering people. This is what this whole podcast is about. And what my whole life is about is taking control of your health, being preventative, educating yourself, and looking outside the square and connecting with the right people and, doing all that sort of stuff. So I'd love you to go and grab that book. And please share it too with your friends. If you like the book, get them to buy a copy too and help support the book. Getting it out there, and reviews and ratings for the book are really helpful too on either