Health Epidemic – Richard Harris
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Guest: Richard Harris
Release Date: 1/31/2022
Welcome to Trulyfit the online fitness marketplace connecting pros and clients through unique fitness business software.
Steve Washuta: Welcome to the Trulyfit podcast where we interview experts in fitness and health to expand our wisdom and wealth. I’m your host, Steve Washuta, co-founder of Trulyfit, and author of Fitness Business 101. In today’s episode, I have Dr. Richard Harris. You can find him at Dr. Harris, MD on Instagram and all of his links.
He is the host of strive for great health podcast. And he joins us to talk about health epidemics in America and the West. So we talk about a little bit of everything. It’s a culmination of all of this month’s conversations, we go over burnout, we go over root causes of diseases, metabolic health, obesity in general nutrition issues, and then sort of the macro issues with the medical system that he sees and what he would potentially change. It is a great conversation.
I really enjoyed Dr. Harris’s perspective and hope to have him on again, with no further ado, here’s Dr. Howard. Dr. Harris, thank you so much for joining the Trulyfit podcast, why don’t you give my listeners a background bio on what you do in the medical and health community?
Richard Harris: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for having me on the podcast by training an internal medicine physician and pharmacist. And now I do something completely different. Because training teaches you to prescribe pills. And that’s it. No nutrition, no fitness, no sleep, no mindfulness, you know all the things we know that there’s data on.
I realized there had to be a better way. When you start to look at things, you see that people are on more medication now than ever, and there’s more disease now than ever. Clearly, medication is not the answer. It’s not the root cause. And I started to look at the root cause. And so I wanted to go about helping however I could to get to the root cause of all these issues.
Now I do telehealth through two different companies, I do consult, so I’m working with companies to help make sure healthcare sucks less. And then I also do invest. So I put my money where my mouth is investing in companies with social impact, or companies trying to make a difference. And finally, the last thing is I do media. So podcast speaking, online courses, I just tried to get out there and promote this message to whoever will listen, of hey, there’s a better way, a way that actually promotes health in a way that’s preventative and not reactive.
Steve Washuta: Well, thanks for what you do. Because that takes a lot to sort of step outside the box and someone who would hear your background and go, Oh, this guy’s in pharmacy, and then he went to med school, they might just assume that you are prescribing medicine and moving on with your day, and not taking the time to really change what needs to be changed in the system.
We had Dr. John Puth. Will and Dr. Vimal George on recently those episodes will be released before yours. And they talked specifically about the same thing. One of the books, Dr. George’s books is called Health in flames. And he talks about how the same quote you just mentioned, we’re supposed to have this technologically advanced society and medically advanced society, yet we have more diseases than ever before.
Why is that? Why aren’t we looking into that? And I think it takes it takes a village, it takes all of us it not only takes the people in the medical community, but it takes the general population to care about their health and Institute the proper things in our day to day lives as well. And so in January, uncovering what I consider societal epidemics, basically, the same thing, a lot of your podcast covers everything from metabolic health to burnout to root causes of diseases, which we’ll talk about obesity, type two diabetes.
Rather than just kind of unpack one of them thoroughly today, I think it would be better for us to just kind of touch on a bunch of them and get your thoughts on them. So let’s dive right in here. Dr. Harris. What is a clinical definition or your definition of metabolic health? What exactly is wrong with it today in our society?
Richard Harris: Sure. So if you look at metabolism at its root, it is the process of your body doing everything it needs to do for you to survive throughout the day. Right? It’s all the reactions, it’s all the things making energy, making hormones, removing toxins. All of that goes into metabolism. And so we typically think about metabolism only with food. And yes, that’s an important aspect of metabolism.
But it’s not the only thing that metabolism does. Food provides us the building blocks for the structures that help us do what we need to do. And so when you look at metabolic health, we focus on a lot of these different things. What are your hormone levels, your testosterone, your sex hormones, your estrogen, what are your thyroid hormones looking like? What about your adrenal hormones, right? Those are very important for our overall health.
Then we look at things like what’s your nutrient status because one of the things that’s wrong with Our current society is we eat very calorie-dense food that is nutritionally very poor. And so if you don’t have the right cofactors, then you are not going to be able to create the proper building blocks. And that’s going to lead to disease.
So if you have a bunch of calories, and then the nutrients aren’t there to digest those calories and convert those calories into what they’re supposed to be used for, that leads to problems. And then you look at brain health, do we have the proper structures in place that allows our brain to function like we need it to your brains, 2% of your bodyweight gets 20% of your blood flow, highly, highly metabolic.
So these are the things we look at when we look at metabolic health. And there’s a profound dysregulation in metabolic health in this country. In fact, one study last year showed 63% of hospitalizations to COVID. Were due to poor metabolic health. Think about that 63%. That’s a dramatic difference in our country in the timeline of this if we actually have proper metabolic health.
Steve Washuta: What does it take from a general population standpoint, perspective, to start down that road of making sure that isn’t the case? And those numbers look better? What can we do?
Richard Harris: First of all, you got to know your status, right? And one of the things that I did an episode on was the term healthy because people misuse that term all the time. I was sitting next to a guy on the plane and just talking, he goes, Oh, your doctor, he goes, Yeah. You know, besides being diabetic and obese, I’m healthy. And I was like, wait, what? And it just started jogging my mind of all the times I’ve heard people use healthy and not correctly.
The first thing is you have to know your status and be honest with yourself. If you’re obese, you’re not healthy. Can you be obese and beautiful? Yes. Can you be obese and healthy? No, we need to separate the cosmetic aspect of it from the actual fundamental health aspect. And I think society has done a very poor job. And it’s kind of melded them together. But there is a health problem there. Just like with diabetes.
The other thing is, is get the actual testing to see where you are, you know, can you do 10 Push-Ups? If you can’t do 10 Push-ups, you’re metabolically in a very bad place. What’s your waist circumference? If your waist circumference is too high, that means you have a lot of central body fat.
That’s metabolically unhealthy? Do you have abnormal blood lipids, blood cholesterol, which means something’s wrong with your metabolism? Is your CRP high, you know, a marker of inflammation, that means something’s wrong with your metabolism is your homocysteine elevated a marker of methylation and B vitamin status? That means there are some issues there are your blood sugars elevated? That means there are metabolic issues.
So there are some really quick, convenient ways that you can get this tested to check and see, hey, is my metabolic health good? Or are there some problems here, and then we can talk about what we need to do? If we see these problems.
Steve Washuta: I’ll also add something and obviously, feel free to comment if you disagree, or if you agree, but no, vanity and health are two different things. So you mentioned obesity, but on the other end of the spectrum, there are people who might look great on their Instagram, but their labs are horrific.
Maybe they’re on anabolic steroids. Maybe they are not eating right, they’re not eating enough. They’re starving themselves. So there, they don’t have the calories and the nutrients in them. So I think in today’s age, we also associate, you know, vanity with health. And that’s not the case. And the last thing, because you were mentioned some markers and labs, and you could speak to this much better than I can. But I personally believe that labs are very important to compare to yourself more so than the ranges that give you meaning.
If I had labs that had maybe something was off the range at 19. But every six months, I took my numbers and they were the same and then 36 Something is different. Well, that should, you know, put a light bulb over my head, something is wrong. But you know, not every one’s numbers are the same. And you know, the spectrum they give you to look at doesn’t necessarily mean that something is right or wrong. You have to compare your labs to yourself.
Richard Harris: Yeah, you’re 100% correct here. Number one is you can be skinny fat. We see that all the time. Just because you’re quote-unquote, thin doesn’t mean you’re healthy. Right do just because you have a normal BMI doesn’t mean you’re healthy. If you’re getting four hours of sleep a night, chugging Mountain Dew every day, and you’re stressed all heck, I don’t care what anything else says you’re not healthy. Right? Because we know that that is a maladaptive state that there are things at the cellular level happening that are dangerous for you. And the second thing you bring up is a really great point.
Unfortunately, medical school does not teach us how to evaluate labs. It doesn’t it teaches you to look at a reference range and say, Oh, everything’s in the reference range, so everything must be fine. Well, these are population data, right? So just because the population average is around a certain number doesn’t mean that That number is optimal for you. And I see that all the time, I’m more, I worry more about how someone is feeling than what the actual lab says. Because there’s a lot that we don’t know, with labs, and there’s a lot you have to interpret.
For instance, I’ve seen this numerous times, testosterone, I’ll see a guy who’s got a testosterone level of 200. And people start to freak out, like, Oh, my God, you know, it should be 600 800, right? You need replacement, and I start talking to the guy, and he has no symptoms whatsoever, he feels fine, he has plenty of muscle mass.
And I’m saying, Okay, I’m not gonna treat this lab, I’m gonna treat the person. What if he has a really active testosterone receptor? What if his DHT receptors are 10 times more active than the average person, then that physiological low testosterone is there for a reason, it’s there as compensation because of some other downstream activity.
These are not things that we can readily check. So you have to think when it comes to labs, the other thing you have to realize is, is that the risk starts at the ends of the reference range. For instance, let’s say blood sugars, if you go into most Doc’s, you have a blood sugar of 97, they’re going to tell you that’s normal, fasting blood sugar, 97, that’s normal.
Because it’s in the reference range, the reference range goes up to 100. But what we know is looking at data, if it’s above 95, you already have a three times risk of developing diabetes once your fasting blood sugar gets above 95.
So you know, integrative medicine, Doc’s holistic medicine, Doc’s, what we’ll do is we’ll look at the optimal range, and then see if we’re at the high or low end of the reference range if we’re having any issues that could be related to that lab. Or we’ll know what the data says and say, hey, you know, you’re in the quote, unquote, normal range, but you’re still at the high end, that’s a risk. This is something we need to mitigate.
Steve Washuta: Yeah, I love that. I love what you said about asking people how they feel, and not just looking at the lab. And that’s very important and treating the symptoms if they’re there looking for the symptoms, and not just looking at the reference range. I think that’s important. But during that talk, you had mentioned something about, they didn’t teach you that in medical school. And I wanted to kind of unpack that a little bit. What do they teach you in medical school that you believe is important, and you think they’re doing a great job? We’ll do one good, one bad. And what do you think they do a bad job of that you wish they would integrate more of them.
Richard Harris: So there are two different arms to medical care, there’s acute care, and there’s chronic care, acute care, this is the best place in the world for acute care. If I’m in a car accident, and I need a trauma surgeon to save my life, there’s no place in the world, I’d rather be in the USA. For sure. I’ve seen some amazing things, some amazing work done. People who are on the brink are brought back time and time and time again.
We are great at acute care. And they teach you that very well in medical school. We are terrible at chronic care. Because chronic care, the way it’s taught now all stems from the penicillin model. When penicillin came out, it shifted the way prescribers thought and researchers thought, now it became oh, we need to figure out a pill for the ill. If there’s a problem, let’s find a medication to solve it.
And then we stopped looking at root cause we stopped looking at other things that we knew were healthy. And back in the day, doctors gave people exercise prescriptions, they gave people food prescriptions, before insulin came out. You know what the doctors gave people for diabetes, they put them on keto. Same thing for epilepsy. If you had epilepsy in the 19, the early 1900s, you got put on a ketogenic nutrition plan.
That was how we used to treat people. And that all changed in that model. And so nowadays, we still teach that model. I’ve been through two doctorate level programs, zero nutritional education, zero education on fitness, you’re just taught a workout, zero education on mindfulness, zero education on herbal therapy. And that’s what we need to further enhance zero education on cooking.
The kitchen, the kitchen can either be a place of healing or a place of harm. And there are so many health benefits in cooking not only just the food, the data shows that families who cooked together feel closer to each other kids actually have better grades in school if the family cooks. So there is more healing in these other aspects of medicine than what we were taught in school which was just all drugs and surgery, which is great acute care not so great chronic care,
Steve Washuta: And how we deal with that on our end. Dr. Howard from like a personal trainers perspective and why it’s difficult is because if Dr. Harris decides to put my client on Lipitor, let’s say, and then over the course of three months, we do you know a deep dive into his nutrition plan and we start exercising more and we do a whole lifestyle change unless The physician is going to taper my client off and then eventually take them off.
We don’t know which variable is working. And then if the medical establishment assumes it’s the variable of the medication, it just doesn’t work. And I think an issue here is, it’s a blessing and a curse. Doctors go through so much medical school and residency, my wife is a physician. But the general population sees physicians as omniscient.
Whatever the doctor says is final, the doctor says, I just need to take this pill, I’ll be fine. And then they don’t look sort of at the introspectively at what they can do to also help them help themselves. And I think people like you are hoping, you know, to change that way.
Richard Harris: Yeah, you bring up a great point here, if I put someone on a medication, it’s usually a last resort, or I need some do something now, right there is enough danger or risk there that I don’t have time to wait. So I’ll do something now. But I give them a plan on how to come off that medication. So I say okay, we’re gonna start this now.
But here are the metrics I want to see in three months. And then here’s the plan to start tapering off this. And you bring up a really good point about statins, I hate statins hate them. If you look at primary prevention, meaning preventing a first-time heart attack, which is why most people are taking statins, the absolute risk reduction meeting, you know, what percent out of 100. So for reduction of a heart attack with statins is somewhere around one to 2%.
So that means that 98% of people who are taking them, it’s not going to stop from having a heart attack. And then if you dig further, the number needed to treat which is if I treat 800 people, how many of them are going to be saved, right, for example. So in this case, the number needed to treat is almost equivalent to the number needed to harm.
We’re harming as many people with statin therapy as we’re helping. And you know, the harms are extreme muscle wasting, we’ve seen that in muscle necrosis, where the muscle tissue just dies, increased risk of developing diabetes, which means we’re worsening people’s metabolic health. You can also get brain fog, sometimes it’s severe, severe cognitive impairments withstand liver injury. So these medications are not innocuous.
They’re not, you know, just safe for everybody. And so you have to look at is this person really needs this, in the first step should always be a lifestyle, because that’s probably what’s causing that to be high. And then you have to look at complementary things. If you have slightly high cholesterol, and you have a CRP, that’s one and your homocysteine is like seven completely fine, you are very low risk. Very low cholesterol just doesn’t get sticky on its own.
It has to be an environment that is inflammatory. And that’s how it gets sticky. That’s a whole nother conversation for another day. But the whole point here is, is that we often reach for medication first, when most of the time, it shouldn’t be that way we should dig into, like what you guys do, which is somebody’s lifestyle. And you say, Oh, they’re eating McDonald’s three times a day, probably why their cholesterol is abnormal. Let’s tackle that first.
Steve Washuta: Yeah, I think it comes from just a macro approach, mindset-wise, is that there are no solutions. There’s only trade offs. If you’re taking this medication. What is it doing? Right, is it and that is both? Obviously, the medical industry is is on the hook for that they have to be able to explain to their patients, hey, look, there’s side effects here.
This is not a heal-all pill. And what exactly is happening in the body? I think explaining that to the patient is important. Right? Again, this is well beyond my understanding. But I assume, you know, if someone’s taking Lipitor, let’s say or some sort of statin, that what is going on? Is it that they’re slowing down those enzymes that are stopping those fatty acids or whatever from being absorbed, well, then, then, does that mean those are valving? Like turned in through gluconeogenesis into glucose? And that’s why they’re having diabetes? I don’t know.
Maybe that’s why but regardless, there, there are externalities. And you know, there are things happening after we take these medications that I think people have to understand. There’s just there’s no final solution.
Richard Harris: Correct. And if a doctor was putting you on a med, ask them why to ask them how long I’m going to be on this. Ask them what parameters are you monitoring to see if there are medications working? What’s the schedule to get me off of this? Right? A lot of times people on that are diabetes medications or blood pressure medications are told that they’re going to be on in the rest of their life.
Yeah, well, why is that? You know, so what is it that I’m doing that’s going to make me be on this medication the rest of my life? Is there something else I can do? And these are the types of things that I talk about in the podcast, and I teach about, and that’s to show people that there are viable alternatives that have great data behind them.
This is not just, you know, us pulling stuff out of thin air, no, everything I do is data-driven. In fact, if you listen to my podcast, join my Facebook group, I give you access to every single clinical trial I’ve read. Wow, every single one. So you know that I’m not just pulling this out of the air. Here’s all the evidence that I’m making the recommendations and the decisions I make for my patient’s life, for my life for my family’s life.
Steve Washuta: So before we get into maybe a little bit more science and go into the next topic, I think this is a good time to bring in something else because it seems like you’re like patient care experience, let’s call it that is really thorough, is really great. And that’s not the case all throughout the medical community.
And I think it’s a problem. I’ll give an example of my wife, as a pediatrician, someone may walk into the appointment, they’re 15 years old, and it’s just supposed to be sort of a well-child check. And they go, Oh, how you feeling? It’s like, well, my teacher thinks I have ADHD, my mom thinks I’m depressed. I’m just having sex for the first time. And I sprained my ankle. Well, you know, I only have 15 minutes with you, my nurse saw you for four minutes.
Now I have 11 minutes to deal with four major issues, that’s not going to happen. I got to pick two. And then and that hope, hopefully, we’ll book an appointment, you’ll come back two weeks later, which you probably won’t. So you know, there’s a problem in the medical industry, I believe with the amount of time that patients have to be in with their doctor. And I guess that starts, you could expand on this with insurance and how it works because people have to see so many patients in order to turn a profit.
Richard Harris: Correct. Now, the name of the game in internal medicine and primary care is volume, because insurance companies don’t reimburse that much per visit. So you have to do it via volume if you’re taking insurance. Now, there are some places around that that have found unique, innovative ways to circumvent that, it’s still kind of rare.
The other issue is that you’re seeing a lot of consolidation in healthcare. And this is the first year in recorded history that most physicians were employed by someone else. So it dropped below 50% For the first time. So now you had previously entrepreneurs, running their own business, doing what they thought was best for the patients now being controlled by organizations and insurance. And there’s data that shows that who’s suffered from this, the patients, that medical outcomes are worse with all this consolidation.
So one of the things that we practice that we preach is, as a patient, you have to be your own advocate, you have to seek out answers. And, you know, I always tell people don’t just listen to me, listen to people like Mark Hyman and Jeffrey bland, and Chris Kresser, James Denecke, Latino, Ben Greenfield. These are all people who have amazing platforms, and they put amazing information out there, human lab in his podcast, I mean, there’s so much great information out there, where you can start using this, and figuring things out about your body and start healing yourself and not being completely dependent upon your physician.
Steve Washuta: Yeah, I think that’s a great point. There’s, there are not really many excuses. I understand people claim a naivety sometimes to these things, but it’s it’s our job to research these things and, and then bring these questions to our physician and say, hey, you know, I know you’re putting me on this medication, I heard this medication causes X, Y, and Z. Do you you know, could I potentially instead go on this sort of routine? And avoid that? Or do we have a plan to taper off? Like, you know, Dr. Howard obviously does with his patients. So, you know, we’re talking about diseases here and the root causes of diseases. Do you have like a list that isn’t like the seven root causes of diseases? How do you define this?
Richard Harris: Yeah, that’s, that’s a great question. So that was actually how I started my podcast was, I wanted people to know that there is a, a common root cause for these things, and sometimes they overlap. And so this is why you have to do a little digging. But in a nutshell, the seven root causes of chronic disease our number one dysbiosis, which is abnormal gut health, our gut bacteria control everything, our mood, our hormones, our digestion or metabolism, our immune system.
There was a really cool study that was done I think it was two years ago that said, when the virus comes in, the gut bacteria will notify the immune system that hey, man, there’s a virus over there. Y’all better go get it. I think that’s really cool. Yeah. And that’s how intrinsically linked our health is with our gut health.
The next one is toxins. We live in a very toxic environment and that’s physical toxins like you know, Roundup. billion dollar lawsuit there for cancer. Like the all the plastics, you know, BPA, we’ve seen that but now there’s bps, and a whole bunch of other ones that are doing better. There’s the products, sunscreen, what are we seeing right now with sunscreen recalls why they contain benzene one of the most cancer-causing agents that we know of.
So we live in a very toxic environment. Environmental Working Group, I tell everyone who will listen, if you go to Environmental Working Group, check out your household products, see what they say about them and find alternatives that are a lot less harsh. The next one is hormone dysregulation. Our hormones are under attack, if you look at fertility rates in this country, they’re in the gutter. Absolutely in the gutter, which is quite terrifying, because we have a very old population.
If you look historically, that’s one of the reasons why societies have collapsed is because they weren’t able to replace the young workforce. And so our hormones are sex hormones, thyroid hormones, are severely dysregulated and others inflammation. And some inflammation is good, right? If I break my arm, I want immune cells to come there, heal it and, and regrow the broken parts. But chronic inflammation is bad. And that’s when the immune system begins to attack itself. And we’re actually seeing now one in five Americans has an autoimmune disease up from one in six a few years ago. So autoimmunity is increasing.
How many people do we know now that have lupus or have rheumatoid arthritis? Or who have thyroid issues? It used to be those things are rare. Now everybody knows somebody who has one of these things. And a lot of that’s related to our lifestyle. Genetics. Of course, that’s a part of it. It’s only a small part, though. We’d like to say that nature loads the gun nurture pulls the trigger.
So your genes tell you what could happen your behavior, say what’s going to happen. And so yes, we do have genetic risks for things. But we can moderate or even negate those risks based upon what we do. Stress. Stress is so insidious because number one people don’t think they’re stressed. Then I’ll have them do their HRV. Their HRV is like two, right? SAnd so I’m like, Yeah, your nervous system is really, really stressed, that’s not good. And then there’s physiological stress. Then there’s mental stress because they do the same thing.
If someone angers you on social media with a mean, tweet, your body starts enacting the same physiological pathways as if you need to run from a tiger. Yeah. So that’s a big problem. So all of that stress causes very maladaptive things in the body. Then the last one we alluded to this earlier is nutrient deficiencies, it’s estimated that up to 90% of Americans are deficient in at least one nutrient.
That 10%, that’s 33 million people 10% Have a nutrient deficiency severe enough that it’s causing a chronic disease. So if you look at like vitamin D, overall, it’s 42% of the population is deficient vitamin D, magnesium, 45%, omega threes, somewhere between 40 to 60%. So all of these key nutrients we are severely deficient in and that’s leading to disease. And so when you see an integrative medicine provider, or functional medicine provider or holistic provider, we’re going to look at these seven things, and see which one or combination of them is causing your chronic issue.
Steve Washuta: Well, that’s a fantastic way to look at it. And it seems so obvious, right? It makes perfect sense, that, that this is the problem, and this is what it’s stemming from. But I think the where the issue lies is it’s not easy. And it takes time on both the practitioners and, and on the patients and to be thorough, and to be patient. No pun intended. And they have to take a lot of steps in order to get from point A to point B, but it’s again, this is these are lifestyle changes to get you in the right place.
When some when Dr. Harris is telling me, okay, we’ve looked at your lifestyle, your stress, you’re driving to work in the heart of traffic, maybe it’s best that you just take the train, it’s going to cost $10 more, but we figured out we can take that away from you, you’re not gonna have as much stress, we noticed what you’re eating for lunch. And, you know, you walk down to Chipotle every day, you think you’re eating healthy, but you have no idea what oils are cooking with and what they’re using.
Let’s bring your own lunch, we noticed that you only exercise once a week, we’re going up that to twice and so on and so forth. But then Dr. X says ah, I just really think we need to you know, start you on Lipitor. Well, some people take the easy way out and they don’t want to have to deal with that. So I think it is you know like you talked about it is imperative that we in the general population, take control of this and not look for the easy way out and work with people like you who were thinking slightly.
I don’t know how I can say this because it doesn’t sound like it is but somehow it’s outside the box to worry about your, your look at the body from a wholesome approach as far as nutrition and stress and all these other things now, can you? Is that commiserate what you just explained with your patient experience? So when a patient comes to you, you’re actually looking down that checklist before you give some sort of diagnosis or prescription?
Richard Harris: Yeah, absolutely, I’m looking at all of these things. Because here’s the thing, if you don’t have them, all the right information, you can put someone on a treatment that could hurt them. And that’s what you don’t want to do. And like you mentioned earlier, because of the Amazon model of everything People just expect they’re gonna walk in, they’re gonna get a diagnosis that day, and they’re gonna get cured that day. Yeah. And that’s just not how it works. You know, it takes 25 years for your brain to develop fully 25 years, your body moves in a timespan of weeks, months, and years.
Even if you start doing the right things, and you don’t feel magically 100% In two weeks, I say stick with it, it takes 30 days for your body to realize what the heck is even going on. Because you have to think about it, your body’s just not going to whimsically adjust to every single change momentarily.
Because it’d be very expensive to do. So we have to change gene expression which takes time. And you have to change the gene products, that would be like you’re making cars, and all sudden you want to make planes, well, okay, you can do that, it’s probably going to take you a long time to make that shift from making cars only to making planes only. And that’s the same thing that happens in your body.
So I tell people to give anything that you’re doing 90 days minimum, bare minimum. And then you could be someone who has what we call a resistant thermostat. Some people’s bodies are very resistant to change, very resistant, some people’s bodies accept to change a lot easier. This is why some people can get on a wellness journey. And they’ll shed that unwanted body fat, they’ll feel great, they’ll look great. They’ll get rid of their issue in like three weeks.
Other people will do all the right things and you know, five months down the line, they’re like, man, I’ve only seen a small improvement. But that’s because we’re all different. We’re all different. And we can’t expect to have someone else’s results. Because you don’t have their genetics. Don’t have their environment. Don’t have their lifestyle. Have no idea what’s happening 24/7 in that person’s life, and they may not tell you everything that they’ve done. Yeah.
Steve Washuta: Yeah, that’s that’s really important. Actually, that last piece you just said, us as personal trainers, have health history forms and intake forms that we take. And our clients write down what medications they’re on, past injuries they have, and things of that nature. But it’s funny what they leave off, Dr. Harris because they’re not leaving things off, to hide them. It’s things that they don’t think matter.
They’re not leaving off that they let’s say, have a toddler, and they only sleep five hours a night, they’re not leaving off that maybe some random injury that they occurred 1015 years ago, which they don’t think as a big deal, which is a big deal to me, right? Maybe they broke their ankle. And they think it’s not a big deal. But now I know from my end that they might have been compensating.
Now we have to have synergistic dominance and muscles because of their compensation. So it’s important to dig into all of the small things. My wife, I don’t know if this is how you do too. She calls it what else? When she’s in the doctor’s office, maybe that is a medical thing where she keeps saying what else? What else, What else to really bring all the information out so that you have a full picture. Because what you know matters as a professional might not be what the general population understands matters.
Richard Harris: You’re absolutely correct. I see it all the time. People are like, Yeah, I’m stressed. Everybody’s stressed. No, that that matters. That’s your health. Well, I’m not sleeping, I’m Team no sleep, nobody gets enough sleep. Well, that matters. Right? The people you’re around, this is a huge thing. And we’re seeing more and more data come out about our social connections.
Actually, in fact, the worst thing for our health, most people think it’s smoking. It’s not It’s social isolation. The worst thing for our health by far. And that loss of purpose. You want to know why so many people die right after they retire. They lose a sense of purpose. Like literally their body just gives up. And they think about the social isolation and not being able to do what they used to do. So I say that to say this. One of the things I ask people to do is audit their friends circle.
Who are you hanging around? Are you hanging around people who are all negative? You’re going to be negative, guess what negativity does to you? It reinforces inflammatory genes. Guess what gratitude does? For you, it enhances longevity genes. So it actually fundamentally changes the way our cells work just by who you have in your circle.
If you have negative people in your circle, and you want to get healthy, get rid of them. You don’t need that energy around you. And we are so also energetic beings. And this is a little bit esoteric, but you take on the mental and physical energy of the people around you. You feel great when you’re around a bunch of other happy people. Yeah, it’s true, right? One of the reasons why a lot of us like going to the gym is because you’re a bunch of around a bunch of other happy people at the gym. It feels good, the energy feels different in a gym.
Because you’re around a bunch of people pushing themselves with purpose and goals, that feels good. But then you go around a hospital, you know, you ever walk into a hospital and you just feel sunken, like, it just doesn’t feel right. And that’s because of the energy in that place, the harmonics, that actually make a difference physically, mentally, and socially.
So that’s one of the things I tell people is to audit your social circles, and get around people who are breathing life into you, people who are goal-oriented people who are strong in purpose, because all of that makes a difference for your health as well.
Steve Washuta: That’s great information, I couldn’t echo those thoughts more. And I would add to it that while you’re auditing your friend’s circle or social circles, you should also compare the importance of your job and money to that social setting. And if there’s too much in one direction or the other, that’s typically not a good thing, right? We there’s a lot of studies on it.
In order to avoid burnout, typically also, you want a job that has both agency and purpose, if you feel like you’re just showing up to a job every day and getting yelled at. And your the job isn’t doing any good, you’re going to quit that job. So it’s something to look into. Because a lot of people, there’s two sides of this coin, you know, the grass isn’t always greener.
But sometimes it is. And if you’re stuck in a job where you feel like I have no autonomy, I can’t make any decisions ever. Which it happens in the medical community a lot, right? If you’re a, let’s say, a physician, and they’re just sending people through your door all day long, and you have 30 patients a day, and you don’t feel like you have the opportunity to change that. But at least hopefully, as a physician, you feel like you’re making a difference.
That’s why you stay in the job. But for those people who don’t have either of those things, regardless of the money you’re making, it’s time to get out because you’re pulling down your health, which in turn kind of spirals out of control, then you have family issues and you’re not working out then you’re not sleeping well. And all of these things kind of snowball out of control.
Richard Harris: Hmm, yeah, you bring up a really good point. One of the things we see a lot with burnout is we live in a very consumer-centric society, which is a very dopamine-driven society, which is more got to have more. And so we will stick in a job because it’s a status or position or the money’s Great.
How much money do you really need? No data shows beyond a household income of $75,000. There’s no increase in utility. Now utility in economic terms is happiness. Right, so maybe you can have a nicer car. Okay, so you can afford a Beemer instead of Acura or something right? Does that really make you happier?
Steve Washuta: Well, I think the problem is in that same study, Dr. Harris, it does show that people will still find sort of relative happiness compared to other people, meaning, you’re right about the 75,000 being like sort of that baseline utility happiness, but it’s, it’s still like a Keeping Up with the Joneses thing, right? So if you live on a street, and even if everyone else is making 45,000, and you’re making 55,000, you will be happier than someone else who lives on a block when they all make 75,000.
Because you’re now the richest man on that block. Even though you’re making less money than the person on the other block, you’re comparing yourself to everyone else. I think that is a problem because we see happiness, sometimes through the guise of how happy we are comparatively speaking to our neighbors, which is wrong.
Richard Harris: And social media has made that very, very wrong. Because now you can. Now people feel like they know celebrities and movie stars, right? And they feel like they’re on the same cohort. And so now it’s like, oh, you know, I don’t have a Birkin bag, or I don’t have a Rolex or whatever. But you don’t need that to be happy.
Does your watch tell time? Because that’s really its function. Right? Do you have a bag that you can put yourself in? That’s really its function. And so this is something that is the reason why gratitude is so necessary to be happy for what you’ve got.
And another reason why I think travel is so necessary is that one of the things that I’ve seen and when I hear people say Talk disparagingly about the US. I asked them, have they ever lived anywhere else? And almost all of them say no. And if you talk to people who’ve come here from other countries, what do they always say? You guys have no idea how good you have it here. Yeah, none. I’ve lived in other countries, I’ve visited other countries, you know, being a minority or a woman.
This is the best place in the world to be, by far as freedoms as far as what you can do. As far as security and safety, and that, I know that I’m not going to be, you know, just rounded up and harassed or thrown in jail or something like that, just because of the color of my skin or my accent or something like that, right?
We have to take into account that we have a lot to be grateful for the fact that I can flip a light switch, and the lights come on, you know, in many places the world that doesn’t happen, like you have no idea if you flip a light switch if the light is going to come on, that I have water that I can take a hot shower.
You know, it’s the simple things in life that we need to be grateful for, and realize that we have so much that I can pick up the phone and call my mom, you don’t need people to wish that they could do that. You know, I need to be grateful for that. Then I have a wife who comes home and loves me and tells me that and gives me hugs and I have a dog who adores me. All of that is part of the human experience.
You cannot have the true human experience unless you practice gratitude. When you practice gratitude, not only think about the things that you’re grateful for, think about the things that you’ve done to help other people and how they’re grateful for that you need to have both, because you need to realize that you have some stuff in your life to be grateful for. And you need to realize that other people are grateful that you’re here too. And that’s a very powerful combination.
Steve Washuta: Well said, and I think alluding to what you hinted on before, social media does ruin that a bit and make that more difficult to do I forget the name of the book. But basically, they talked about how there used to be two versions of us. It used to be the Richard Harris who went to work and showed himself as one person. And then there was the Richard Harris, who was at home with his wife and his dog and whoever else around his friends and his neighbors.
But now there are three, there’s a Richard Harris, hopefully not you, but the average person, there’ll be a Richard Harris, who shows who he is in his online persona. And because you’re allowed to build up these online personas, because we don’t have the, you know, the people there right in front of us.
We can act a little bit differently. You’re not seeing facial cues and mannerisms. We can type whatever we want. Some people find it sort of cathartic as an outlet. I can be angry online, I’m never angry, right? Yeah, there might be people who you believe are trolls and are angry all day, they could be the nicest people in real life.
This is just this persona they crafted and it’s unfortunate, it’s tearing out our society now. And we’ve seen Jonathan heights book. We’ve seen all these issues with suicide rates being you know, basically, almost exponential at this point, especially for young women having to deal with social media.
I think it’s important to, you know, as we say this, we’re podcasters. So it seems like, you know, it’s like, I’ll do as I say, not as I do, but at least with the podcast, we’re speaking and we’re connecting, and we’re working with people and I can see your facial cues and mannerisms. And we’re not, we’re not. And we’re talking through things, right. We’re not talking at each other. And I think that’s, that’s what’s going to sort of bringing us back to more of homeostasis to care about these things and to lessen the root causes.
Richard Harris: Yeah, absolutely. There’s data that shows the more you use social media, the less happy you are with your life. So and depending on the study, you read, some people spend up to two hours a day on social media. You want to be happier and healthier. But the Instagram down, but the Facebook down, do it at routine intervals. So I have a time I have social media time.
Alright, well, I spend only a certain amount of time on social media a day. And part of that is posting. Part of that is looking at other people’s content that I like their content, right. And as a content creator, you’re right. Someone might say, Oh, you guys are hypocrites. You guys are out here creating content, I think breaks. I’m on a podcast break right now. Every so often, once I start to feel it, I say you know what, I’m done. No more content for me until I start to feel recharged again. And that is so important because you can burn out from creating content.
Content burnout is a real thing I had that happened to me before I almost walked away from the podcast completely. And then I realized is you know, every four months or so I probably need to take a break from podcasting and creating content to allow myself to not have to be in the digital world all the time. And there are so many things here to unpack but the most important thing is that we do need that social connection that real a connection. That doesn’t happen online.
Steve Washuta: Yeah. And I think the next step may be, is for the medical and health communities who have this like you called it sort of this Amazon packaging, or we call it in the in our community is just like scalability.
That’s what everyone’s looking for, I need scalability, I need to build a program to say, 10 days to make your glutes bigger and send it to everybody. It’s like, well, you know, if you have a 63-year-old woman who’s never worked out before, you have a 24-year-old bodybuilder or they both using your 10-day program to build their glutes, because if so it’s not going to work for both of them. So we need smaller, but more personalized health communities, right, where it’s like, Dr. Harris has maybe I don’t know, 20 patients instead of 200. And I work with those 20 patients, too. And Dr. Harris sends me his people when they need personal training.
And Dr. Harris sends them to, you know, what, some rd when they need nutritional counseling outside of his scope of practice, or outside of his understanding, and then he sends them to the psychologist when he thinks they’re too burnt out. And but there’s not this model of just constant, you know, burn insurance, scalability, more and more, more, more, more. And until it gets that way. I, you know, I feel bad for the general public. And I guess that’s going to lead to my next question. You know, you present really great information and answers here. But are you optimistic that this is the direction we’re heading?
Richard Harris: I think so. I think that during the pandemic, it has opened people’s eyes to a lot of things. And that is, number one, that the government doesn’t have my best interests at heart. Number two, these corporations don’t have my best interests at heart. If that it’s up to me, to protect myself.
Because I think that people put a lot of that burden and a lot of the onus on other people, in the past physicians or whoever is some type of provider, maybe their fitness instructor, maybe their chiropractor, whoever they were seeing, right. And it now we’ve come to realize and what the mess is out there that, you know, my time with you is very limited.
What are you doing with the other 23 hours in that day? And how are you using that time, and then I think people are now being more open. Because there’s actually a lot of really good holistic data that’s come out of this, like the study I mentioned earlier, about 63% of the hospitalizations for metabolic disease, you know that one of the strongest risk factors for hospitalization with COVID was actually anxiety disorders. It’s like 30%. You know, obesity was 30%. So obesity and anxiety disorders.
Now one study was equivalent for risk of hospitalization from COVID. And so people are starting to see that, okay, these things matter for my overall health. And they’re not just tied to this one thing. Like, if I have an anxiety disorder, it’s not just my anxiety, that’s the problem, it means that there are systems that are dysregulated and that I need more than just an anxiety medication or, you know, CBD or ashwagandha, I need to exercise I need to make sure I get good sleep, I need to audit my social circle, you know, and so we’re starting to see that people realize that health is not just one behavior, it’s a collection of behaviors, thoughts, and actions, and that it really takes all of those together.
Then it doesn’t take that much time, I did an audit of my time spent on healthy behaviors. And this includes cooking, and I’m a bit of a biohacker. So I have a lot of healthy behaviors, a lot of things that I do, I spend about 12% of my time on my health. That’s waking time, that’s not including sleeping, you know, if I if it was including total time in a week, it will be a lot lower, but I’m talking about waking hours, there are 120 or so ish waking hours in the week, I spend about 12% of those on my health. That still gives me a lot of time to do a lot of other things.
Steve Washuta: Yeah, and I think the hard part is starting. But once you’re there, and once you’ve developed those habits that you talked about 90 days in, and now you’re just in that phase of keeping it going. It’s it’s really not that difficult. You don’t even think of them I’m sure most of the things that you do. Dr. Harris, on a day-to-day basis that you’re considering those 12 hours, you do not sort of rolling your eyes before you have to do them.
They’re almost easy at this point, whether it’s the cooking or the exercising or the meditation or whatever it is just it just becomes a normal part of your routine. I think this gets into another whole conversation that’s probably not right for this podcast, but a lot of it is just the time, right? If you if you have a family, and it’s a little bit easier if you have a supportive, significant other and you have kids that you have to raise You have to get your stuff together. And, you know, we’re obviously seeing that delay in people’s lives.
A lot of it’s because of, you know, fiscal reasons people don’t think they have the money to start down that path. So they’re pushing that further and further away. But unfortunately, what happens is, then they’re so hyper-focused on their careers, they get to a certain days before you know it, you’re 37. All of you, all you’ve done for the past 15 years is focus on your career. That’s all you care about. Now you’re unhealthy. You don’t you haven’t developed all these other things. We talked about that lead to avoiding the root causes.
Richard Harris: Yeah, absolutely. And a couple key tips here, number one habit stack. So whenever I do my infrared therapy, I’m meditating. Right? Whenever I’m cooking, I’m listening to Audible books. So I have goals with these things. But I try to stack things together as much as possible. In order to mostly make the time I use the most efficient.
A tip I have for people with families is to get your kids involved. If you want to start meditating, have family meditation time, if you want to start exercising, have family exercise time. And they may complain, and they may moan about it. But guess what, if they start exercising, or meditating, they’re gonna feel better. And then they’re gonna start liking doing it.
Because what do we ultimately want, if you talk the most, we want to feel good, we want to feel energized. And these are things that unequivocally help with that. And so once you break it into your routine, it doesn’t take that much time, you know, family exercise time, 20 minutes, okay, family meditation time, 10 minutes, our family cook time we’re in the kitchen together, you want your kids to perform better in school, get them in the kitchen with you.
There’s data that shows that I’m not just making this up. This is actual physical data that shows that kids perform better if a family cooks a day together and eat together. So there are things that you can do. And you can stack these types of things together, you can loop them together, you can have it stack to make it fit into your schedule. And the other thing is, you have to make it a priority. Your priorities are never in conflict, you have the time.
If you look at the data on people how much TV people watch, or how much social media people watch, or Netflix, right? If I went audited, someone who says I don’t have times Netflix account, I bet you I can find the time. All right, well, maybe exercise while you’re watching Netflix, or pause the Netflix show halfway through, say, Okay, I’m gonna treat myself to Netflix, I’m gonna pause halfway through it, I’m gonna do a five-minute meditation.
Steve Washuta: I think I think the biggest problem with that, and that’s, that’s fantastic information. But what I see with my clients, and I try to convince them is their priorities aren’t in sync with their honesty about who they are and what they’re good at. So that’s what let me unpack that a little bit. For instance, I’m a morning person.
So it’s very important for me that if there’s something difficult in the day that I don’t want to do, I have to do it in the morning. Because come six o’clock, I turn into a pumpkin, my brain doesn’t work. All I can do is the very simple tasks, I can fold laundry at 7pm. But I can’t do a podcast at 7pm. So I think it’s important for people not to lie to themselves and say, What am I good at? What am I not good at? What am I what am I the most productive in the day? So I can optimize those things. And really play to your strengths and your weaknesses.
And if you have a partner, you do the same thing. If somebody is better at one thing than the other, you have a bunch of tasks to get done once you can’t do them together, let the person who’s better at handling those tasks handle those tasks. And I think a lot of my clients lie to themselves and go, Oh, I’ll do that at 6pm. Well, are you going to do that at 6pm? Is this something you should have done at 5:30am?
Richard Harris: That’s a really great point. People say, Oh, man, you went to pharmacy school, you got an MD you got an MBA, you must be really smart. I got I’m not smarter than anybody else. One of my gifts from God, I had two main gifts from God’s number one friend circle, I’ve always had amazing friends. He blessed me with the ability to make great friends and great contacts.
The second thing is, I know myself really, really well. I talked to myself, I asked myself tough questions. I’m honest with myself about my abilities and my limitations. When you are honest with yourself about that, that’s when you can really do anything. Because that conversation will make it so that you place where you need to place what you need to do. And I’m the same as you. I used to be an evening person.
Somehow I flipped into a morning person. So I have to put the hardest thing first I have to get anything I want to get done that needs to be done before 7pm After 7pm I’m just done. Like totally done. And I’ve oriented my schedule around that now.
And that’s how I’ve been able to really grow during the pandemic is because I’ve optimized my optimal time to get things done. It’s between for me at about 11am to 7pm That’s my optimal time to get things done. And so that’s usually the time that I work, even my PRN jobs. That’s the time I usually work the afternoon shift because I know that’s my optimal time. And so being honest with yourself will allow you to have these conversations and really steer you towards success.
Steve Washuta: Dr. Harris, this has been a wealth of information. Where can the listeners find more about you your podcast and anything else? That is Dr. Harris?
Richard Harris: Sure. My website, it’s for one of my businesses called great health and wellness, it’s the GH wellness.com. That’s the best place to go to find me. I’m active on Instagram and LinkedIn, for whatever reason, those are the two platforms I chose. And that’s Dr. Harris, MD. And my podcast is strive for great health podcasts available wherever you get your podcast from. If you like what you heard today, this is what the podcast is about if you didn’t like it, don’t listen to my podcast.
Steve Washuta: Thanks for joining us on the Trulyfit podcast. Please subscribe, rate, and review on your listening platform. Feel free to email us as we’d love to hear from you.
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