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044. Fighting Diseases of Ignorance with Howard Jacobson

By on February 26, 2019


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Howard Jacobson, PhD, is Chief of Behavioral Science (aka Chief Habit Nerd) at WellStart Health. He’s the host of the wildly popular (in his home) Plant Yourself Podcast.

Howard is co-author, with Josh LaJaunie, of Sick to Fit, and contributing author to T. Colin Campbell, PhD’s WHOLE: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, and Garth Davis, MD’s Proteinaholic. His work has also been featured in Fast Company and the Harvard Business Review online.

Howard is lead instructor at the WellStart Health Coaching Academy, and co-author of the Coaching for Performance chapter of the American Management Association’s Book of Knowledge.

In his free time, Howard runs, practices Russian martial arts, gardens, and plays far-too-competitive Ultimate Frisbee.

Howard earned his BA from Princeton University, and his MPH and PhD from Temple University.

He lives in Pittsboro, North Carolina with his wife, and sometimes with his adult children. (Fly, kids, fly!)

Key Points from the Episode with Howard Jacobson:

  • As Howard went through his career, he had a feeling that making money meant he was selling out, so he does a lot of things for free.
  • His podcast, Plant Yourself, has a huge following, and shares the vegan lifestyle with thousands of listeners.
  • WellStart Health – a digital platform and care team to reverse chronic disease. Can you use behavior change to lead to better health outcomes and get people to put those new habits into their lives in a meaningful and sustainable way.
  • Millions of people have tried and failed to do better, and Howard uses a really brilliant analogy to illustrate why. If a six year old who has never played the piano before sat down to play a complex concerto, they will fail. This isn’t surprising. Yet we are essentially doing that with totally different ways to eat where we go in without clear knowledge, guidance or resources and don’t seem to have the same understanding when we struggle. Instead, we go to a place of frustration and a mentality of, “This will never work for me. It’s too hard.”
  • In Western society, we carry trauma and push ourselves to just move on, which really means the trauma stays within us, stuck there. In other cultures throughout time, there were processes to move through trauma, whether ceremonies, rights of passage or forms of therapy so people could truly move on. We don’t do that, and the trauma continues to cost us as time goes on, and it compounds with each successive trauma. Howard has chosen to face his rather than deny them, and that’s part of the work they do at WellStart.
  • Howard went into a podcast episode he did during a water fast he was on, which lead him down a mental path that came from releasing a lot of inhibitions as he faced lots of feelings. The episode went through a lot of thoughts around his father, and losing his father to cancer when Howard was just 24 years old.
  • He said he was really angry about it, which came from losing his dad to what he saw as a disease of ignorance. He realized this after digging into the research when his father was sick to find a way to save his life.
  • What he learned was that there are many diet-based changes that could have prevented and could help fight the cancer. Lacking that knowledge is the driver of this feeling of the loss being unnecessary and due to ignorance.
  • The knowledge was out there, but it was relegated to a very small academic world rather than the norms of the world at large.
  • While he was angry about the loss of his father, he used the time to reflect on who his father was, what he meant to Howard, and the ways his father would have grown and improved as a person had he had the chance to.
  • We have all lost people too soon. We have all seen towering figures shrivel and die unnecessarily, as Howard put it. And it’s been decades since his father died, so we shouldn’t still be able to say that this is still happening from the same ignorance.
  • He would like to see all doctors trained in lifestyle medicine, which, essentially, none of them are today. And the doctors should be upset about this situation.
  • We need to get this knowledge to a place where it’s accessible to all, not just people in the small group who know today, or to those who live with access to the tools you may need, like a Whole Foods store.
  • He asked really pressing questions around the sustainability of what we are doing in healthcare and agriculture/the environment. Things have to change, but will they change because we change them before it’s too late or will it change because it comes crashing down and we have no choice.

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032: How to Live Free with Sara Quiriconi

By on December 4, 2018


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My guest for this episode is the amazing, inspiring Sara Quiriconi. Founder and creator of the Live Free Manifesto, Unfck Your Body Series, and author of the just-released Living {Cancer} Free, Sara is a 15-year cancer survivor who is living proof that you can move through anything. A warrior, healer, creator, and determined soul, she travels the world filming, interviewing, experiencing, sharing, and creating online content and in-person conferences to inspire others to live a life of choice, freedom and intention.

Graduating with honors and a BFA in Boston, Sara became immersed in the corporate world and succeeded in Art Direction and Graphic Design for the first eight years of her adult life. However, her immense passion to heal your self through fitness, healthy eating, and exploring the world led her to leave the corporate world in 2013 to commit to educating others on the benefits of well-being and traveling. She fell in love with yoga for its self-healing properties and has been practicing since 2008.

After years of struggling with Eating Disorders and alcohol addiction, Sara’s determined to share the message of Living Free. Through empowered choices and actions, to LIVE FREE is to never settle, and to embody a determined mindset, warrior spirit, and passionate heart raising you to become the highest level and most evolved (and ever-evolving) version of you.

Formerly known as one of Miami’s top fitness professionals and sought after private instructor for celebrities, Sara’s shifted her focus from teaching and coaching these days to producing, hosting and art directing high-quality content in the wellness, fitness and travel market.

Sara is now is a co-producer for creative video content specializing in the wellness and travel sector. She is a Certified Yoga Instructor, Health Coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and shares her knowledge as a regular contributor to MindBodyGreen, Manduka, and theYogaOutlet. Further, Sara is a proud ambassador for Manduka Yoga, PUMA, GoMacro, YogaOutlet, and LVE! Swimwear, and affiliations with The North Face and Zico Coconut Water, and is represented by the Vegan-based modeling agency, JSW Model Management.

Key Points from the Interview with Sara Quiriconi, The Live Free Warrior

  • Sara, who just released her first book, Living {Cancer} Free, shared her journey to get to the knowledge in the book, including battles with Cancer literally and cancers figuratively. She aims to help people live free from both.
  • Sara’s story started with the kind of identity crisis many suffer from during their teenage years. She had a sense of who she was inside, who she was turning into, and the person she needed to pretend to be to be liked. That battle and disconnect had a toll on her, and lead to the start of her eating disorder issues, including Anorexia and Bulimia. This was one way she was able to exert control over at least one area of her life.
  • As Sara got older, those battles expanded into problems with alcohol, which is almost the opposite issue from the eating disorders because this was about losing control and being reckless whereas the eating issues were about controlling her life.
  • Sara enrolled in college in Boston, and struggled there, deciding to leave the school and return home after a year. This ended up being a potentially-life-saving decision as it was at home that her mother pushed her to get a strange lump on her neck looked at. It was found to be a cancerous tumor, and Sara was quickly diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. She began a 10-month program or radiation and chemotherapy.
  • While her drinking during treatment stopped for the most part, she still battled with her eating disorders, including going to the gym as much as she could to purge through excessive exercise.
  • Interestingly, during her battle with Cancer and despite her continuing to make destructive decisions around food, Sara enrolled in a local community college to keep learning and growing, which I found to be such a beautiful break from the turmoil in the rest of her life. Knowledge has always been an important part of her life, and she decided it was important to keep that going.
  • Sara pointed out a really interesting fact about Cancer. Only 5-10% is genetically-driven. That means 90-95% of Cancer could potentially be avoided. While this simplifies things a bit (you could still avoid a genetically-driven Cancer if you find a way to keep a gene from expressing itself, for example), it’s a really powerful statistic to keep in mind and to think about what you are doing in your life that may be bringing cancers into your situation. This is about being 100% responsible for our lives, being the CEO of our lives, which is what Living Free is really all about.
  • After beating Cancer, Sara returned to school full-time, pursuing a degree in design, and went into the advertising world doing design. She also returned to drinking and kept making dealing with her eating disorders. She described it as a calm after the storm where she was left suddenly having to face all the emotions she had to push past during treatment. It was sort of a trade off between the control of the eating disorder and the loss of control of drinking, alternating one one day and the other the next.
  • When it all hit her during the pause after treatment in this limbo of “what do you do now,” she realized she needed to do something different with her life. This was another point of the conflict between who she is, and she was meant to be.
  • Sara shared a quote she’s been using in her email signature about being the CEO of your life, which we mentioned before. She stresses the importance of how this puts responsibility for your actions squarely on your shoulders. And how you should not feel guilty about that or scared of it. If you fall down, it’s up to you to get back up and learn from it so you can keep getting up in the future. Those choices are yours to make. Having that freedom to choose is empowering if you own it.
  • Sara lost her job in the Great Recession, which forced her to seek a less expensive workout option to purge with, which is how she was introduced to Yoga, which she initially did not like but noticed was the first time she allowed herself to feel. Part of that was not having the metrics to show her how much she had burned off like she would on a piece of cardio equipment at the gym, and partially because she didn’t take the first instructor she had. This was a good chance to learn that you should follow your sense of fit with anyone you turn to as an expert, and so she tried other instructors until she found someone who really clicked for her. After that, she discovered a real love for Yoga, the control it brings and the way breathing and opening the body worked her in a way she had never been challenged before.
  • After several years as a student, she began teaching Yoga, and eventually left her day job to do it full-time.
  • As Yoga played a bigger role in her life, she started to get a clearer sense of what Living Free was really about, culminating in her 14-point Live Free Manifesto. A few of them are: Never Settle, Quality of Quantity, You Have the Power to Choose Any Life That You Desire.
  • We got into the strong influence the fear of the past and future have over our present moment. The only thing we ever have is right here and right now (obviously this is something that’s right up my alley with Do a Day)
  • The way Sara finally cut out drinking was to discover the Why behind her drinking, face that, and then she was able to just stop drinking in an instant.
  • We talked about the importance of Play – having a space where we allow our light to shine through, especially as adults. We should let the child in us come out occasionally and just play. It can make space for creativity, rejuvenation and levity – all things we need in life.
  • Sara shared a really important initiative she’s doing to provide healthy care baskets for people battling Cancer called the Cancer Care Package. We talked about how people get gifts, which is great, but they’re unhealthy things that would actually feed a tumor’s growth (like candy). You can get the small and large versions of the baskets from Sara’s site.

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012: How One Man Rose Up to Change a Culture with Josh LaJaunie

By on July 13, 2018


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Josh LaJaunie was born and raised in South Louisiana hunting, fishing, drinking, eating, playing football and getting fat. Ultimately, he found himself tipping the scales at over 400 pounds, and trapped in a culture that celebrated big eating. Since breaking 400 pounds, Josh has changed dramatically.

Josh LaJaunie

He has lost over 200 pounds, developed a love for running, and is now exclusively plant-based, plant-powered and an aspiring athlete who has completed not just a lot of running races, but many ultra-endurance races – a feat that never would have even been in consideration for the old Josh.

He has since dedicated himself to helping others get control of their health and has literally inspired tens of thousands of people. He has been on The Rich Roll Podcast (RRP #63 and RRP #152), Live Today with Megan Kelly, Plant Yourself, and Runners World (both their podcast and the cover of the magazine).

Josh shares his amazing journey with all the Day Doers out there in episode 11 of the podcast.

Key Points from the Show with Josh LaJaunie

  • Josh LaJaunie, having grown up in the deep South, was merely going along with the culture–including all of the food choices within it–that he was surrounded by. Doing that made him fit in, but also meant he was dangerously obese and headed faster and faster toward health threats as his weight continued to increase.
  • As he started to have successes in his life with the pursuit of more education, he found himself contrasting his pride in his accomplishments with a desire to be equally proud of himself physically. He decided to draw a line in the sand and invest in making a physical commitment to match his academic commitment, and started exercising with purpose and intensity.
  • Through the physical journey, he started to realize that the food choices of the culture he was so engrained in were working against him and those he loved, and found himself waking up to the need for greater change.
  • He adopted a plant-based diet, took up running, and started to see real change, eventually losing over 200 pounds. It was hard for those around him not to take notice, and for his love for them to allow him to sit idly by and not try to help them, too. That’s where Josh LaJaunie, the man on a health mission, came into being.
  • Josh has not only lost and kept off a tremendous amount of weight–he’s lost more weight than most adult males weigh themselves–but has become a prolific running, having conquered short distance events right up through the ultramarathon distance events he finds he enjoys most. This from a man who, by all accounts, probably would not be alive today, or at least would be staring death in the face. Instead, he’s thriving.
  • Today, Josh is committed to helping others learn the simple power of plants and running so they can save their lives, too, and works across a number of methods and channels to give people the tools they need to do just that.

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