Dr. Adam Perlman So many of my patients and friends and family have struggled with being overweight and have tried various fad diets and approaches to losing weight. I get asked about different diets and whether they work or not. I know you shared with me that when you were younger you were overweight and how you were able to lose that weight and keep it off. What was the secret? What was the journey like for you?
Brian Durbin MEd, CSCS of Synchronicity I was young, I was 19 and I’ll never forget getting on the scale and I got on there and it’s 276 pounds. So I was 6 foot 3 inches and I had been playing football and I remember thinking “Whoa, this has gone too far. . .” I wasn’t playing sports any more and I thought, I have to reel this in. So I started reading data about what happens if you don’t lose the weight and it scared me. So, it was that point that I started putting in small, little changes that involved exercise and nutrition, trying different things, learning new information, all along the way, it was just experimentation and learning. What works, what doesn’t work.
Adam So many people have this scenario where, you used the words “it scared me!” I often wonder how we create that sort of epiphany for ourselves, that inflection point in our lives, where we decide to do something different.
Brian I get bored incredibly easily. I am not going to be the guy who has the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That’s not going to be my thing, but if I find some article about some crazy fruit that comes from Africa that has this health benefit, I will definitely add that into my diet for a few weeks. So I try to keep things fresh and that has been a really big help to me.
Adam It reminds me of the Duke Wheel of Health. What I like about the Wheel of Health is that it looks at all these different areas of health and well-being, not just nutrition or exercise, but the concept of rest, professional development, spirituality, which could be interpreted as purpose and meaning in your life, along with connection and relationships. Often we can be a little too tunnel vision with our view of what a healthy lifestyle is or what well-being truly feels like and the Wheel helps me think more broadly about various aspects in my life, some of which maybe healthier than others. The Wheel helps me focus on different areas.
Brian As an example, how are exercise and relationships related? On the surface it might not seem like they are, but when you go “wow, aerobic exercise actually helps with my anxiety levels, lessening my chances of depression, my self-esteem and then you go, how does that actually play out with the way I communicate with people? Or how I make time for things and how I prioritize my life. Everything is interrelated.
Adam I’ve heard you talk to about just being grateful for things like my heart that continues to beat and grateful for the breath that I can take. This has helped me, as someone who has struggled with trying to be perfect vs excellent which has led to unneeded suffering at times. I also think of someone, as we often do, scan the environment for threats, which at one point worked well for us. Now a days the threats are a text message we didn’t like or an email that had the wrong tone and letting ourselves get trigged by that. That is something personally that I have worked on, not only for myself but as an example I want to set for my kids. We have five children as you know and how do we teach gratitude to them? I think it starts by stopping and feeling gratitude ourselves, on a daily basis, right?
Brian Just feel your heart beat, right, feel your heart beat and feel the appreciation for that. None of us asked to be here. I mean, I don’t remember asking, but I’m here. Can you feel appreciation just for that? Just for the heart beat and the chance to be here. Whether it is hard times or good times, can you feel appreciation for that? Blending that with Rumi, especially his Guesthouse poem, about feeling these things, bad, good, they flow through us, can we let them flow through us without labeling them as good or bad? That is how we can experience gratitude just for the gift of life.
Adam The mind body connection is really interesting. I have seen that many times with my patience. It doesn’t mean what they are experiencing isn’t real, somehow other aspects of the way they are thinking or feeling is influencing their physiology.
Brian I studied biomechanics in school, which is really just physics of the body. It’s incredible, because you can watch somebody change their body when they start talking about something uncomfortable. You can start to see neck muscles start to contract. You can see recoil, tightness in the arms. The things we maybe are not aware of, right? Depending on what’s going on in our minds is manifesting in our bodies. It’s quite incredible.
Adam Yeah, it is a struggle. So many people get hung up on perfection. They think “I should have a purpose, I heard this on a podcast and now I’m going to buy the Dalai Lama’s book.” It really starts with small changes. I use to put three sugars in my coffee. I think the first thing I did, is cut it down to two.