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episode #280

Interview with Ryan Baxter: Eat More to Optimize Health, Obstacle Course Races and Benefits of Walking!

August 21, 2023 in Podcast


This week I interviewed Primal Health Coach - Ryan Baxter! Ryan explains his journey into optimizing his hormones, overcoming thyroid issues, and improving his gut health. We also discussed the importance of:

  • eating more to become healthier
  • how to start obstacle races
  • the importance of grip strength
  • the many benefits of walking
and his one tip to get your body back to what it once was!

Brian (0s):

Coming up on the GET, LEAN, Eat, Clean Podcast.

Ryan (4s):

I guarantee that if you start eating more food, if you have a lot of weight to lose and you're eating 1100 calories, if you somehow get up to you, you end up, you know, getting up to like 2,500 calories or 3000 calories. And you, you, at the same time are doing all the other lifestyle practices that I just talked about. Sleeping and managing your stress and exercising and moving your body and all that fun stuff. Like maybe you put on a few extra pounds of Fat, but you're starting from 3000 calories as opposed to 11, 1100 calories, right? And you have a, you, if you owe a lot of weight to lose, you'd need to cut out a lot of food to get there. And you can't do that from 1100 calories, right? So you and your body's, your hormones and everything's gonna be optimized, eating enough, proper amount of food.

Ryan (48s):

And so you put yourself in this state where you're like, op, you're primed to start losing weight.

Brian (54s):

Hello. and welcome to the Get Lean, Eat Clean podcast, m Brian, Gryn and I here to give you actionable tips to get your body back to what it once was, five, 10, even 15 years ago. Each week I'll give you an in depth interview with a health expert from around the world to cut through the fluff and get you long term sustainable results. This week I interviewed Primal health coach, Ryan Baxter. Ryan explains his journey into optimizing his hormones, overcoming thyroid issues, and improving his gut health. We also discussed the importance of eating more to become healthier, how to start obstacle races, the importance of grip strength, the many benefits of walking and his one tip to get your body back to what it once was.

Brian (1m 37s):

Really enjoyed my interview with Ryan. I know you will too. Thanks so much for listening and enjoy the show. All, right Welcome to the Get Lean Eat Clean podcast. My name is Brian Gryn and I have Ryan Baxter on the show. Welcome to the show.

Ryan (1m 52s):

Hey Brian, thanks for having me. Appreciate the opportunity to be on the podcast.

Brian (1m 56s):

Yeah, thanks for coming on. First heard your episode with Brad Kerns, and Brad's a good friend of mine, so thought it'd be great to have you on on the show.

Ryan (2m 5s):

Yeah, it was, it was great for Brad to make the introduction and, and connect us. So I'm, I'm happy to be here. Brad's the, a great guy, great friend. Yeah.

Brian (2m 14s):

And I know you've done a few different Podcasts with him. Maybe for my audience, give him a little background of, you know, what you're up to day to day and, and you know, so sort of what got you into this, the health realm.

Ryan (2m 27s):

Yeah, I'll try to keep the story kind of short and sweet. Sure. Some more interest in content. But I, like I was mentioning to you before we started recording, I'm a, I'm a software engineer, so my, I'm your typical software engineer. Like you imagine this nerdy kid, right? That's, that, that was me growing up. And so athletics and, and health weren't top of mind for me for the first 20 or so years of my life. But eventually I, once I got out of college, I decided to, you know, pay a little bit of attention to it. My wife at the time, my girlfriend was, she was doing like five kss and stuff like that.

Ryan (3m 12s):

And that kind of got me interested in like, oh, you know, I would go to the gym, but I wanted to put something behind going to the gym, just like going to gym for no reason kind of seemed silly. And I was kind of just flailing around in the gym, not really knowing what I was doing. So I, I have no background in athletics. I didn't really like the idea of running, but for some reason, Obstacle course racing sounded really enticing to me. I think it was partly because it was out, like out in nature, out in trails. And there was also like, it wasn't just running, it was, it was running with obstacles. So it was, you know, there was different components of fitness involved. And so it sounded interesting to me.

Ryan (3m 54s):

I kind of dove right in, but I didn't know where to begin. I didn't have an endurance background at all. And at the, at the time I had started Googling obviously, 'cause that's what, that's what software engineers do, right? And came across Ben Greenfield. Yeah. Started listening to his podcast 'cause he was into optical course racing at the, at the time. And then he had on this guy called Mark Sisen on this podcast at the time, they, you know, Brad and him had just released a Primal endurance book. And so that kind of got me down this path of, you know, this, this sounded like a great way to train and great way to, to feel yourself and all this other stuff, and kind of dove head in and being a very detail oriented type, a type of person.

Ryan (4m 38s):

I really got into it and it worked, you know, obviously the principles in that book. And, and I firmly believe in ancestral health and stuff like that. They, they worked right? I mean, they got me, I was able to complete my Obstacle course phase. I I did really good or I did good enough for myself. But eventually as I do further and further into this, and I started going harder and harder and harder into both training and health and diet and whatnot. I went too far and got myself in a little bit of trouble. I was not eating enough to match the energy expenditure that I was putting out.

Ryan (5m 22s):

I was really into endurance. I was just ended up with, you know, low thyroid, low testosterone, couple of gut bugs, candida and c diff. And my mood was terrible at the time. I was traveling a lot for work. I was literally flying around the world, you know, several times a year. I had a young infant daughter, so a lot of life stress and circadian disruption and just, it all kind of compounded. And I kind of just like, I went to my doctor and he was like, oh, you're the spinning image of health. Like you're, you know, you're young, you're, you're super Lean, you're active, blah, blah, blah.

Ryan (6m 2s):

And I was like, well, I feel like absolute garbage. I don't know if I can swear but garbage. And he was like, nah, you're fine. You didn't want a single blood test. And so I eventually came across listening to another podcast. I came across Chris Kelly from Nourish Bounce Thrive at the time. He was working with Dr. Tommy Wood, and I connected with them and they kind of got me, you know right. The ships per se, right. And show me kind of what I was doing wrong and how maybe you could do, you know, incorporate a lot of these ancestral health practices, but still do some not necessarily ancestrally aligned physical activity.

Ryan (6m 53s):

And that kinda got me down the path. And after I spent a long time trying to, you know, get my health back to where I was satisfied, I decided that I want to help other people. And so I got my health coach certification from the Primary Health Coach Institute and started health coaching people and, and sharing my knowledge and trying to help other people that are both in similar situations to me or in completely other, in different situations to me. And, you know, I've been doing that part-time now for six or so years. So yeah, that's kind of the short and sweet background in myself here.

Brian (7m 30s):

And. what year was that around when you started?

Ryan (7m 33s):

When I started to feel like absolute garbage. It was around 2016. Okay. Around then, yeah, probably got connected with Chris Kelly and, and Dr. Tommy Wood around 2016, 2017 around there. Yeah. I had just kind of finished, I had finished my last Obstacle course race for the year and was chatting with my wife and I was just like, I don't feel good. And she's like, I know you don't feel good. And So, we decided to do something about it that at that point. So yeah, starting to, starting to affect my family life and stuff like that and my work life. And that was a, a big awakening moment for me. So I at that point, you know, decided I need to do something.

Brian (8m 16s):

So you had these compounding stressors that sort of just added up over time of

Ryan (8m 23s):

Yeah, it was interesting because like, you know, I, I think if I had to sum up what got me, you know, down the wrong path was that I was consuming, I love to consume information, I love to learn. I'm a, a constant learner podcast books Yeah. Audible, you know, all that stuff. And I was consuming all this information around ancestral health and keto and paleo and Primal and, and all, all this stuff. And, you know, a lot of the people who create content, you know, they create really great content, but it's targeted towards the majority of people.

Ryan (9m 3s):

And at the time, I was not in that majority, right? Like, I was not an overweight, inactive person eating a standard American diet. I was an extremely active, already very Lean, you know, person who was already eating a very healthy diet. And I was just restrict, I was applying that information in a context that was not correct. Right. I was, I was trying to restrict, restrict, restrict and be more hardcore paleo, more hardcore keto and more hardcore intermittent fasting and blah, blah, blah, when I really should have been doing a lot of the opposite.

Ryan (9m 44s):

you know, I didn't know, you know, I didn't understand that, you know, at the time. So I, I think that would kind of sum up how I got myself into a little bit of a hole there.

Brian (9m 54s):

And I'm assuming you eventually got blood work done. I mean, obviously you didn't feel good and you said your, your doctors didn't, or your doctor didn't do any blood tests, but did you just do that on your own?

Ryan (10m 4s):

No, so when I got connected with Chris Kelly and Dr. Tommy Woodard from Nourish Balance Thrive, I, they ran like all the tests, like everything I had, all I had like the most extensive blood work done. The, the number of vials of blood that came outta my arm were, was amazing. I had urine tests, I had stool tests, I had, you know, all kinds of things that were done at at that point. So yeah, lots of, lots of blood work, And, you know, obviously it came back, it was probably no surprise to them. 'cause like when I was listening to Chris Kelly on, on the podcast, I was listening on, he was like describing the type of people that he worked with, and he was like, talk, I felt like he was talking to me.

Ryan (10m 45s):

I was like, you were like describing me to a, so I'm sure when I showed up, you know, him and, and, and Dr. Wood probably already knew exactly what that blood work and all those tests were gonna come back as. And yeah, it was, it was not necessarily a pretty sign.

Brian (11m 3s):

Yeah, I hear that And, you know, blood work now. It's like, I feel like, I mean, for one, one thing, I don't actually have like a general doctor that I go see that much now anymore. Like, I feel like taking, not to say that that's right or wrong, I think it's probably good to have a general practitioner to go to. But as far as just getting full blood panels, there's a lot of companies that have come out. I know like Merrick Health, you know, nourish, balance, thrive. Did you continue to get your blood work done through them or do you just, you know, how do you, how do you go about doing that?

Ryan (11m 39s):

No, what I mean, once I, once I got my, my, my health to a point where I was satisfied, we kind of, you know, I ended the relationship with, with neuroscience Thrive, obviously. Yeah. But I had gotten so many blood draws during that time, of course, of several years that I knew exactly what I could request on a blood panel and see what that looks like. And so I've done several Now I have a, a doctor that I work with locally that he's, he's very open to my way of thinking and, and is very acceptive of that stuff and, and is a very open-minded person.

Ryan (12m 21s):

And so I can go to him and say, you know, I want these things on this blood draw. And he's like, okay, you know, sounds good to me. Right. And part of that's because I end up, he gives me a discount on blood draw, but I end up paying out of pocket for, for it anyways. So at the end of the day, he is not, he doesn't have to bill it through insurance. It's just severely discounted. So I get my blood work now through him, but, you know, before I got connected with him, I would just request it on my own. And there's, like you said, there's several different sites now that you can go to in almost every state to request your own blood work. Yeah. And so, and I think, and I, I also think that, and I, I think that, you know, we don't need to get so extensive with our blood work.

Ryan (13m 9s):

I think you even get like a basic panel that costs, you know, a hundred, a hundred dollars maybe, which I understand can be cost prohibitive for some people. But, you know, is is also something that is within reach for a lot of people, especially if we're talking about like your health. I think, you know, a hundred dollars investment is not that bad, but you can learn a lot just by looking at that. And obviously you need someone to interpret that stuff, but, you know, the cost to get the data is, is not that and accessible. So like, you can request it yourself if your doctor won't, won't do it for you. So, yeah.

Brian (13m 46s):

And so 2016 you started to, you know, obviously, well, when did you start making changes? Like 2017 and, and maybe Yeah, 17. Yeah. Maybe take us through that journey you went from, you know Yeah. Sort of this Primal paleo to

Ryan (14m 1s):

Yeah. So I, I've, I'm still, I I would still consider myself someone who eats Primal. I've never given up on that. I, I think that, I think the ancestral health, that model, while I don't think that we should like literally go back and, and live like cavemen, I, I do think that the mismatch between our genetics and our modern environment is, has a lot to do with a lot of the health problems that we see today. So I do think that that model provides a good framework for everyone to achieve optimal health in. And it's just, you need to customize it, which is what I was kind of getting at before.

Ryan (14m 45s):

You need to apply the right context or take a look at the context of which you're living, your goals, et cetera, and customize it to fit that, that approach. Right. So basically what I did is, instead of trying to, a lot of, a lot of the work that I've done since that time is really just trying to figure out what the right approach is for me and my goals in that time. And my goals have shifted over the course of the years, used to be very heavy into endurance stuff as I was saying, but now I'm less so into endurance and kind of occasional endurance, but more like into strength training. I've gotten really into grip work and stuff like that.

Ryan (15m 26s):

So, but regardless, a lot of what I did was literally, there were supplements involved and like, especially for some of the gut stuff to kind of kill off the candida and c diff and stuff like that. There were some supplements that I took for a while to, to try and correct that stuff. But 95% of the things that I did was literally just trying, you know, like sleeping, like getting my suc rhythm back in line. Like, you know, like, you know, trying to limit the type of travel that I was doing, eating more food, eating, you know, carbohydrates, eating, just eating more, right? Like still ancestral, you know, a whole food diet, which I think is, that's why I like to say is like, we started a Whole Foods diet and we go from there.

Ryan (16m 14s):

So, you know, single, single, single ingredient fruits and, and just eating more of that stuff like that was probably one of the number one things that I, I had to do just to match the energy expenditure that I was putting out from exercising. you know, stress was a big thing for me. It still is a battle for me. I, I think that there's one thing that I struggle with, it is stress. And so I've, I've learned to, meditation has been a big thing for me. Journaling has been a big thing that I've incorporated into my life since then. you know, different things around sleep. I think I still, you know, I wouldn't say that I am like a sleep guru or anything like that, but I get good quality eight hours of sleep every night.

Ryan (17m 2s):

And, and that is important to me. And I, I prioritize that. And so, you know, like there's nothing, I don't have a, I don't have a, a, you know, some kind of fancy thing that I did to, to fix my health or like sexy thing that's gonna sell a million online books. It was just like, I need to better align the, the concepts of ancestral health to the context in which I was trying to perform and live my life and, you know, so I just had to switch things up a little bit. Right.

Brian (17m 34s):

Yeah. And I know one of the things you talked Brad about was consuming more. Maybe walk us through that. I have actually gone through that myself. I believe you put, you, you added about what, 700 calories on?

Ryan (17m 48s):

Yeah. Yeah. So it's kind of interesting 'cause I just, interesting, we're gonna talk about this 'cause I just finished up a cut or I'm finishing up a cut right now, and I've, I've dropped a, a whole bunch of weight because I had to, I had to make weight for a, a grip competition, so, oh wow. I kind of went back in the other direction over the past few months. But I think, I think the, the, we've been so ingrained around when you want to become healthy, what do you do? You restrict food, right? You just restrict, right?

Ryan (18m 29s):

It, it seems universal no matter what diet you believe in or if you follow a diet at all. Like, it's like, what do you wanna do to lose weight? Well, you gotta restrict something, right? And, and, and to a degree, right? The way you lose weight is you eat less calories, right? I mean, you have to, you have to balance that, that calorie. As much as people hate calories and calories out, like at the end of the day, you somehow need to manipulate that, that formula so that you're, you're burning more than you're expending. And there's various ways to do that. And I, I 100% agree that there is a million nuanced things about that, like hormones and timing and types of foods and all this other stuff plays a role. But at the end of the day, like we're just, we're trying to manipulate that form a little bit.

Ryan (19m 14s):

And so I think that people get so stuck into that mindset that they constantly use that as, as the way to, to lose weight, right? And they're always restricting and always, always, always eating less, less, less. Right. And that is appropriate for some people at sometimes. And then other people, I think they, they might benefit from going in the other direction. I I recently wrote a blog post not too long ago about why you should, before you begin trying to lose weight, why you should eat more food before you do that.

Ryan (19m 56s):

Right? And people online will talk about, well, you know, you'll hear on Instagram the whole concept of reverse dieting, speeding up your metabolism, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I think maybe some of that is true. I think that some people can eat so little that they eventually slow their, I mean, it happens, right? Metabolic adaptation is a, is a proven thing in the research. You will slow your metabolism as you eat less and lose weight. And that's just a natural side effect of, of losing weight, right? That's going to happen. But I think the magic behind eating more food for most people is that they, they end up, they put themself in a spot where they're, they're not trying to lose weight from eating a very small amount of food, right?

Ryan (20m 43s):

So like you're, you're already in a spot where you're like, I'm already restricting and the scale's not going down and blah, blah, and I just need to cut back more and more. And then eventually you can't go any further. Like you can't eat, you know, if you're already eating one meal a day and you're not at the body composition you wanna be at, what are you supposed to do? Like Right. Ask yourself like you star yourself. Like you, you have to go the other direction eventually. Right? And so I think that we're, we're, you know, when you eat more food, I think one of the benefits there is you get, you're get, you're providing your body of the signal of abundance. And I also think you're providing your, your mind, your psychology with a, a signal of abundance as well. And both of those things work in tandem to be like, okay, your body can calm down a little bit and get outta this stress state of always being both mentally and physically, always being low on energy and always trying to restrict and, and having that in your mind and in your body.

Ryan (21m 35s):

Like it's, your body doesn't want to starve, right? Like, it, it's, it's seeing that and it's like, I'm not, you know, I'm gonna hold onto this Fat 'cause this person's not eating anything and we need to survive because we don't know where our next meal's gonna come. And so like, I, I feel like, you know, that that plus that physiological change in eating more food and then also I think it gives people more energy, So they have more energy to move and workout and exercise and stuff like that. And that kind of allows 'em to burn more energy, right? And like, it gets 'em to the point where maybe they're putting on a little bit more muscle or they're just in general being more active. They're, I mean, it's also well proven, like if the more you restrict yourself, like the less just fidgeting that you do, like, you know, the slower your eyes blink, you know, if you're talking about like, people are like bodybuilding levels, right?

Ryan (22m 25s):

So like, I feel like you, you need to put yourself in a spot before you start to cut out calories where you are eating more food than you possibly can imagine. Right? And that might seem hard to wrap your head around if you are someone who has a lot of weight to lose at the moment. But I guarantee that if you start eating more food, if you have a lot of weight to lose and you're eating 1100 calories, if you somehow get up to you, you end up, you know, getting up to like 2,500 calories or 3000 calories and you, you at the same time are doing all the other lifestyle practices that I just talked about.

Ryan (23m 7s):

Sleeping and managing your stress and exercising and moving your body and all that fun stuff. Like maybe you put on a few extra pounds of Fat, but you're starting from 3000 calories as opposed to 11, 1100 calories, right? And you have a, you, if you have a lot of weight to lose, you would need to cut out a lot of food to get there. And you can't do that from 1100 calories, right? So you and your body's your hormones and everything's gonna be optimized, eating enough, proper amount of food. And so you put yourself in this state where you're like up, you're primed to start losing weight. And that's, that's, so that's from like the general population point of view. But I think as an athlete and for those of us are very active, and Brad speaks very, you know, eloquently about this, is like, you want to basically eat, recover, and train right?

Ryan (23m 58s):

And then repeat that, right? And so if you want to, if you're looking for optimal performance, you need to fuel that performance, right? And I've seen huge performance gains in myself, both from a strength point of view, cardiovascular, aerobically, I've hit more prs and stuff like that, just eating as much food as I can possibly eat. Like I was eating and, and whole Foods carbs, like, you know, up upwards of 3,400 calories, over 400 grams of carbs a day and just, just eating and eating and eating and eating. And my performance was, you know, I've never seen better performance out of myself.

Brian (24m 41s):

How was the adjustment for that? 'cause 'cause I did something. Well, not quite like that, but you know, I, I've been into, you know, fasting, you know, fairly low carb for, for quite a while, many years. And I didn't, I can't say that I had like this like feeling of like my health was going down, but I think I, you know, the more I learned about just, you know, health in general from certifications or just from like this podcast, I just, I've interviewed Jay Feldman a few times and, and obviously talked with Brad a bit about it and Brad started implementing more food into his, you know, he comes out with a book, two meals a day, and then he starts adding on a movie.

Brian (25m 27s):

But, you know, same thing, I mean, we change our views. So this, I mean, I have an intermittent fasting journal, which I thi I still think I'm not like totally down on on some of that stuff. I think it can play a role. I think fasting can play a role in people's lives. Yeah. I think you just have to use it strategically, right? But in, at my point where I was doing, I've been low carb and fasting for a while, years and years, I just felt like, especially with my activity level in general, I just felt like I, I, you know, when Brad started going down that road and I actually listened to your interview, I was like, you know, I'm gonna give that a go and just add in a third meal. And that third meal is about six to 700 calories. Interesting is I, I put on weight initially, but I was just talking to Brad about this on, on my last interview with him, not that long ago, but my weight actually just came back to the normal level with adding 700 calories.

Brian (26m 19s):

So I'm eating more, but my weight stayed the same. It did jump in inri initially and then it came back down. Is that something similar that happened to you?

Ryan (26m 28s):

Yeah, I, I think my, my journey was a little bit, so initially, yes. So initially I, I basically added 700 calories over the course of a year. And I had a, a dexa done when I started and a dexa done when I was when, at, at a year later. And I was virtually the same body composition, so I didn't gain or lose Fat.

Brian (26m 55s):

Okay. Same weight. Were you or did the weight,

Ryan (26m 58s):

I think this, I I can't remember the exact scale number. Okay. It was, it, it had to be relatively the same. I, I, you know, within a couple pounds. So I was around, I started around like, I think it was like 9.6% body Fat, and then a year later I was 9.9% my, which is within the, the error margin of the DEXA scan anyways, so, you know, virtually the same. So yeah, I, I ate more, but didn't see any additional Fat gain since then, though when I originally done that, I, I pushed it further. I, I kept eating more and I kept, because my ultimate goal after that was like, I really wanted to put on some size.

Ryan (27m 43s):

Like I'm, I've always been a, a real Lean, you know, endurance athlete. Like, you know, I have, you know, I have muscle in my body, but I don't have like, you know, a lot of muscle, right. And being a guy is like, oh, you could always get more muscle. Right? Guy doesn't want that. Right? And so I, you know, I'd never spent any time seriously pursuing that goal of just like, I want to build some, some mass in my body. And I, so I continued to push it and eventually the scale responded, like it did go up, you know, I got, you know, I think, you know, start to be, begin, start to end, I probably put on 14 pounds or something like that. Hmm.

Brian (28m 21s):

Which is probably not easy to do. What, what, what did you, what, what weight did you go from? It's

Ryan (28m 26s):

Not, not, I think like, like 150 pounds up to like a hundred sixty four, a hundred sixty five pounds around there. Okay. I topped out at in January. And so it was, it's not comfortable to eat that amount of food. It is not, when you are, when you are, when you are keeping it restricted within Whole Foods, it's not easy. Yeah. How much, 'cause the, the volume of food is massive. It's massive. Like try to eat 400, 400 grams of carbs from potatoes, white rice and fruit and vegetables. Like, it's, it's, it's a full-time job.

Brian (29m 6s):

What was a typical day like? Were you, was it within like three to four meals you would try to get it in or?

Ryan (29m 12s):

Yeah, so I, I, my stomach is like very, like, I can eat and eat and eat. So it's, I, I have like an unusual advantage of that. And like, fiber doesn't particularly bother me either, so I can really go to town on it. But I would get up, you know, typical day. It was usually within, it would be three meals and then like a dessert, right? So typical day would be, I'd get up, I'd have my, you know, my breakfast would be a big plate of vegetables, just sauteed vegetables, three to four eggs, some smoked salmon. I'd have a banana. And then I would also have, I can't remember some amount of white rice added to that. Like purely just, I, I don't really like white rice But.

Ryan (29m 53s):

it was just like, I need carbohydrates and that's where I'm getting calories from. Just throw white rice onto that. It was like the solution to that. And then lunch would be, again, a lot of vegetables, leftover protein from the night before. Generally fish, steak, chicken, pork, whatever. I focus on animal Proteins for myself. And then I would have a bowl of a gluten-free oatmeal with blueberries and strawberries on top, some honey and maple syrup in there. And then dinner would be, again, protein, vegetables. And then us, I'm, I love sweet potatoes, so I'd have sweet potatoes almost every night, and some squash butter around squash, acorn squash, something like that mixed in.

Ryan (30m 40s):

And it's like, you know, like just the amount of potato and squash is probably around 350 grams potato squash, you know, you know, so it's, it's, you know, a a half a cup of oatmeal was at, at, at dinner, at lunch, you know, I, I can't remember it was maybe like 200 grams of, of white rice in the morning with breakfast plus the banana. And, and then dessert was another big bowl of berries, you know, maybe a couple small pancakes with that before bed. And then, and then I would just go to bed. Yeah. So that, that was kind of like my typical day when I got, when I really got up there in calories.

Ryan (31m 25s):

But they were like massive meals and you could probably find some pictures of that stuff on my Instagram. Okay. Of what that, what that looks like at some point. So yeah, just visually you can see that, yeah, there's a lot, a lot of food. Oh,

Brian (31m 38s):

Okay. And now you And now you're in a bit of a cutting mode,

Ryan (31m 40s):

Right? Yeah. So in January I, I, I decided like, okay, I'm, I'm, I'm feeling to, at this, at this point, I've put on enough weight, I'm starting to get, you know, a little uncomfortable with the weight. I, you know, I wasn't overly, I had no signs of like detrimental health effects or anything like that. Like this entire time I had my blood drawn, And, you know, everything, metabolic health, everything still looked normal for me. So I had no signs that anything was wrong or whatever. I just starting to be uncomfortable and like eating that much food for that period of time just kind of gets boring and tiring and like, it's a lot of work. And like you're always thinking about, you know, I gotta eat this food and lot of chewing.

Ryan (32m 20s):

Yeah. So I decided it was time to switch things up, so I decided I'll, you know, I'll cut down a little bit. So I, but initially like to lose, you know, 10 pounds or so was like nothing because like I was just cutting out stuff that I didn't even really want to eat. Like the white rice for breakfast. Like I don't want that, you know, I live without that. Just cut that I didn't, and I just made smaller portions. Right. And it was still like, I wasn't, I still felt full because before I felt stuffed and Now I just felt full. Right? Right. But I dropped like 10 pounds. Like, it was, it was nothing like, it wasn't even, I didn't even blink an eye on it, you know?

Ryan (33m 1s):

And then after that I was doing, I had some grip competitions that I wanted to compete in. And basically I was looking at the weight I was lifting and then the weight classes and stuff like that. And I was, I was around like 155 pounds and I, the weight, if I got down to like 1 54, I could compete in a lower weight class and like have a much better advantage in the competition. So I was like, okay, I'll drop, I'll drop the weight because it's, I'm pretty much there anyways. And it shouldn't be that hard. Right. So eventually I have to, I have to lift after we get off this podcast actually.

Ryan (33m 42s):

But I, I waited in this morning at 1 47, so I got, I'm, and I'm not gonna go any lower than 1 47. I'm purely here at 1 47 just because I wanna make weight, make sure I make weight for that. And then I'll, I wanna go up because it's honestly, it's affect, I see it in my performance in my, in the gym. Yeah. And I don't need to lose any more weight. So, you know, performance is more important to me. And also I can, I'm right on that edge where I can start to see some of the effects of not eating enough. Like for me, my sleep gets a little wonky every now and then. And I know that's from not eating enough my mood, I can get like a little lethargic in the afternoon and stuff like that. I just don't have the energy.

Ryan (34m 23s):

So I start, I'm starting to see some of those signs where I'm like, ah, I'm right on the border here, like not eating enough food for the amount of work I'm putting out. So I need to go up in calories a little bit after this. But yeah.

Brian (34m 36s):

And I, I know you mentioned that in that blog post about maybe eating more calories, you also mentioned eating like adequate protein, which is obviously important. And then, you know, getting in enough steps for the day and, and, and doing some type of Resistance training like three times a week. I think those are like good principles right there.

Ryan (34m 56s):

Yeah, I I think one of the things that I like to, I, I think is important and I think is a real thing, is like this, this concept of metabolic fluxx. Like I want you to, I want you to pump as many calories through the system as possible so you can fuel your activity and eventually the activity you, I wanna bolster the calories but also bolster the activity. 'cause I want that extra food that you're eating to go to a good use. Right. And by good use, I mean like, you know, going outside and walking and moving around, stuff like that. But also like, I want you to put on some Lean mass. Like if you're gonna gain some weight from eating more food, I want most of that to be from Lean mass. So I want, you know, the Resistance training, you know, at least two times a week, preferably three times a week, four times a week would be good.

Ryan (35m 42s):

And, and those don't have to be like, it doesn't have to be like insane, you know, 30 minute sessions like, you know, just 30 minutes, a couple, you know, a couple sets, a couple lifts and you should be good. But like, that's enough to get most people to, to add some muscle to their body, which is like immensely important. Like I, I think, I think it's starting to become very, you know, more pronounced the, the impact that muscle has to our health and, and But. it can't be overstated. How important is to, to add as much muscle mass to your body before you get to, you know, 15, 60 years old, regardless of how much Fat you have. Like muscle is always, you could not lose a pound of Fat and muscle's gonna improve your health no matter what.

Ryan (36m 27s):

you know, like that's, that's how impactful it's that. So yeah, I think, you know, when you're, if you're, you're going to go down this, this journey of eating more food, I don't want you to, I don't want your butt to look like a couch cushion. Like you, you need to be moving. You need to also be incorporating the other stuff that we, you know, doesn't get a lot of airtime, which is the sleep and stress management and then like, going outside for walks and, and then exercise, you know, and having, having a good exercise routine, which is a mixture of both cardiovascular work as well as strength training, you know, three to four times a week or something like that. And then getting your 10,000 steps a day. I know the 10,000 steps rule is like a, just this fictional thing.

Ryan (37m 8s):

But, it ends up, you know, honestly the research tends to play out where you're hitting between seven, 10,000 steps and that seems to be the sweet spot. you know? So I know it's, it's not that 10,000 step rule is just some marketing thing that came outta Japan, I think. But it ends up, that ended up being pretty accurate if you if you follow it.

Brian (37m 27s):

Yeah. Yeah. I was, I, I I should start tracking my steps. I really don't, I go for a lot of walks with my dogs and I also walk when I golf a lot, I was like, I gotta start tracking my steps because I don't like to carry my phone on with me a lot of times when I'm on walks. So, you know, I just gotta buy like a little counter or something.

Ryan (37m 47s):

Yeah, yeah. I mean, the ordering is probably the most in uninvasive type tracker. I, I, I can imagine other benefits too. Okay. But also not, yeah. 'cause it's just a ring like wears on our finger, right. So, you know. Yeah. Not really bothersome. And it has a bunch of other things. It tracks also. It's costs, it costs a couple hundred dollars, so there's that. But yeah,

Brian (38m 8s):

I've never, I've never used the Oura ring. I've used the whoop, do you like the Ora ring? Okay.

Ryan (38m 12s):

Yeah. I like the Oura ring. Okay. I, I think it, it's, it's great. It, it is great for sleep. Although I can nitpick a little bit about that too. Yeah. It's But it does, you know, it does fairly well. Tracking your steps. Just so anything else, it does really good with H R V and resting heart rate and stuff like that, which is important for me. I, I pay attention to that stuff for myself as an athlete for recovery and things like that. So, and it also, the new one has a blood oxygen sensor into it and incorporated it too, so you can track that as well, which is nice. I think it's well worth the investment. I've, I've had one since they first came out, so I've been using it for several, several years now.

Ryan (38m 57s):

I think it's, I think it's great. But I, I, I do like the, one of the number one things I look at with my clients when we first start working together is like, okay, I want to know how many steps you're taking. And I realize steps is just, you know, I'm just using it for a proxy for how many times you're moving, you're moving your body throughout the day, you know, it's not the best thing, but for, you know, it's not the most, I shouldn't say it's not the most, it's not the most accurate thing, but nothing is a hundred percent accurate. So I always tell my clients like, I, we're just gonna look at this just as a proxy for how, how often you're moving. And if I, you know, a lot of people I see coming to me like they're taking two to 3000 steps a day. And whether that's a hundred percent accurate or not, it doesn't matter. Like you're still, it could be off by a couple thousand steps and you're still not moving enough.

Ryan (39m 38s):

Right. you know, so you're not even in the ballpark yet. So like, we know we have work to do. And so I I, I harp on them on my clients. Like, I, I'm a huge fan of, I, I walk, I love walking. It's like my, that is my downtime. And, but I think the benefits of walking are not just from, like, I, you went outside and burned some calories. It's just, if you're outside walking, you're in nature, you're getting some sunlight, you're, you're moving your body. you know, maybe you're listening to a podcast, you get some education at the same time, or you're just not listening to anything and you're relaxing and letting your mind calm down, which is probably even more important these days. There's just so many benefits to walking that like, I mean, family time, like I go for walks with my kids and my wife and time to talk with 'em and like the, the benefits of just moving your body like that is just far outweighs you know, any inconvenience I think is one of the most important things you can do.

Brian (40m 35s):

I agree. I agree. Do you have a dog?

Ryan (40m 38s):

I do not have a dog. I just have kids. Kids are enough. Young kids are enough for me.

Brian (40m 42s):

Yeah. Yeah. I hear you. How old are they?

Ryan (40m 46s):

My son is six and my daughter's nine.

Brian (40m 48s):

Okay, that's

Ryan (40m 49s):

Great. Yeah.

Brian (40m 50s):

Yeah. So do you have any Races on the horizon or are you done doing your, your Races?

Ryan (40m 54s):

No, so I'll, I'll, I'm gonna do a grip competition here. It's virtual, so I'm gonna do it as soon as we, we end the podcast. And then no rush, obviously have plenty of time. But I'm gonna do that. And then actually I'm gonna race next weekend. I have race an Obstacle course race I'm doing, and then I have one more planned for September

Brian (41m 16s):

Actually. What, what if people wanna get into Obstacle course racing, what, what, what advice would you give to them and, and is there a good, you know, place to do that?

Ryan (41m 29s):

The advice, I would give the thing, the number one thing that people struggle with the most in Obstacle course racing is their grip strength, right? So there's a lot of, like, this is a simple example, like doing the monkey bars, right? Like most Obstacle course Races have some variation of monkey bars. And so you have to, you know, everyone knows what monkey bars are. They swinging across monkey bars as a kid, right? You ask the average adult to do that today. And I guarantee they probably can't, they can't complete that task. Yeah. Like they did when they were a kid. And lots of people, it's the limiting factor is their grip. They can't hold their body up in the air, right? They can't support their, their body weight with their hands.

Ryan (42m 9s):

And so the number one thing that I would have people work on, because you could walk an Obstacle course race, you don't have to run. So like, you don't have to run if you don't want to. So everyone, most people can walk the, the thing that people, everyone's gonna struggle with is their grip. So, you know, the, I think the simplest exercise that I was just is, well the first thing, if you're not strength training, you need to start strength training. Because when you're strength training, you're gripping things and holding onto them. And that's going to help probably number one, just as a byproduct of, of doing strength training. But probably the easiest, most grip type of exercise that that's most accessible to people is just hanging from a bar, right?

Ryan (42m 52s):

So if you imagine going to the monkey bars, and maybe you can't do the monkey bars, but you know, at, at the playground, your local playground, you just go up to the monkey bars and, and start a timer and then, and hang from there and see how long you can hang for, right? And your goal is to improve that time over, you know, over the course of, of, of several weeks. So you can find a, pull a bar at your gym or whatever and just, you know, at the end of your workout you go and hang for a little bit. The other thing you can do to improve that that's simple is just grab a couple dumbbells and there are kettlebells and walk around and carry them. Do some farmer's caries. They can be single arm farmer's caries, they can be double arm farmer's caries, it doesn't matter.

Ryan (43m 31s):

Just walk with some weight in your hands. And then the other simple thing you could do from a grip point of view, and this is getting a little bit slightly more advanced, but still very accessible, as long as you have your, you have a gym at home or a gym that you go to is just get some plates and you pinch them between your hands. So instead of like, you know, you just pinch 'em like a lobster or a crab or whatever, right? They're called plate pinches and you just walk, do your farmer's carries, pinching the plates together and see how long you, you grab.

Brian (43m 59s):

I remember doing those. You, I haven't done those in forever, but those are tough. Yeah, yeah. Oh yeah,

Ryan (44m 4s):

Yeah. You grab 25 pounds for most people is gonna be incredibly challenging. Yeah. So yeah, that, that's, that, that would be, there's a ton of other grip exercises that I could go over with, but that's, that's where I would start for, for most people.

Brian (44m 18s):

And the other, yeah, go ahead. I'll mention,

Ryan (44m 20s):

I'll mention one other thing is because it just pops in my head. There is this, and it's fairly cheap and accessible. So you can go, go to on Amazon and type in Fat rips, F A t oh yeah, G R I P Z. And there are these things that go around dumbbells or the barbell and they add several inches to the bar. And so you can't get your hands around them as much. So you can do all the same exercises that you would do with a dumbbell or a barbell, but your grip is the limiting factor because of how thick the bar is. And so for men, there's, they're different colors and they correspond to different thickness. But men, I would start with the blue ones. For females, I would start with the black ones and that be, it cost like 20, 25 bucks on Amazon.

Ryan (45m 3s):

That would be another good way to increase grip strength. And I will say that grip strength is important for everyone, not if you're just doing Obstacle course racing. 'cause go look up the research to how grip strength correlates to longevity and you'll, you'll understand why that is.

Brian (45m 19s):

Yeah. And is there a certain, or, I mean I actually just Googled Obstacle course Races in Chicago. You got me motivated. Maybe I'll sign up for one. I've never, I've never done one, but you know, it'd be fun. Is it, there seems like there's quite a bit, there's a Spartan racing and the Tough Mudder is, is there a certain group organization that you go to or?

Ryan (45m 38s):

Yeah, un unfortunately a lot of the, a lot of the different companies have gone outta business since Covid. So Covid was a tough time for everyone obviously. But Obstacle course racing seemed to be particularly affected. I don't know what it's like with triathlon or others, things like that. But you know, these, the smaller Obstacle course race organizations really struggled post covid and a lot of them had gone out of business unfortunately. 'cause some of the smaller ones were some of the cooler ones. But, so I've obviously Spartan's the, the number one, they're, they're the biggest and they, tough Mutter used to be a sep separate brand, but Spartan acquired them.

Ryan (46m 19s):

So really tough. Mutter and Spartan are the same. Although the race, the way they do their Races are very different. They're very different style Races. So, but either one of those is, is a, is a good jumping off point. Obviously, you know, I would don't go like, you know, full on, you know, half marathon distance, like stick to the five K to begin with. That'd be enough for most people. I really encourage people they have different, Spartan has different options where you can do like a, actually Spartan even has a three K version now, but I wouldn't, I wouldn't necessarily start there 'cause it's really short and intense. But they have a, Spartan also has like a stadium Stadium like brand or whatever.

Ryan (47m 5s):

Like they race inside of like, you know, football stadiums or, or major league ballparks and stuff like that. Which is really cool, especially if you're a, a sports fan. So like, I really like the Red Sox, so it's really cool to go when they come to Fenway Fenway Park to go do the race in Fenway Park. That's really a lot of fun. It's also, if you're not a fan of like trail running and stuff like that, you're running inside a concrete jungle. So it's Right. It's more accessible for people. That's good. I think Savage is another good brand of Obstacle. Course. Races, you can find 'em. I think they're only out kind of east of the Mississippi though. Okay. So West Coast people might not see that There's the Obstacle course Racing World Championships, which obviously sounds very intimidating, but if you ever get a chance to check that out, that'd be That's awesome.

Ryan (47m 56s):

I, I've done that a few times and that's like the pinnacle I think of, of Obstacle course racing obviously. And it's, it, the environment, the fans, everything about it is just, they take, they basically take all the best obstacles from around the world and they bring it to this one spot. And so you get really to see what the best of the best look like. But yeah, I would say, you know, Spartan Savage are probably the, the biggest brands. Yeah. They

Brian (48m 24s):

Tough Mudder.

Ryan (48m 25s):

Tough Mudder as well. Yeah. Tough Mudder is fun if you wanna do it with a group of people. So I've done a couple Tough Mudders with like a bunch of friends and that can be, because there's some, there's some obstacles in Tough Mudders that you can only accomplish with several people. So like you have carry this giant log, right? So like, it's fun to get together a bunch of people and, and go and do that. And so that can be fun. A fun group activity.

Brian (48m 50s):

Well, you got me going now. Now I'm,

Ryan (48m 54s):

I really encourage people to, I mean, I encourage people to find something that it, they, some activity that is, that allows 'em to express their physicality in some way. I don't care if it's stops course racing. It could be golfing, it could be, I got into skiing, you know, this past winter, which is kind of weird 'cause I live in New Hampshire. It's the first time I ever skied. But, you know, kite boarding, you know, something, something that, you know, have

Brian (49m 17s):

You ever done slack lining?

Ryan (49m 19s):

I have been on a slack line. Okay. I, I completely am horrible at it. I I, I need something to hold onto. Right. But

Brian (49m 28s):

Yeah, it's very difficult. Yeah. Yeah. I think I first did it, I was like in Israel and I was like, wow, this is pretty cool. And then I think I did it one other time and I have some room in my backyard, so I did put it up, but I've realized that I needed to put up some, you know, you got the slack line that you walk on, but I needed to put the other line up on the, the guide

Ryan (49m 46s):

Road. The guideline.

Brian (49m 47s):

Yeah. Because yeah, yeah, because yeah, that's the only way to I think start.

Ryan (49m 52s):

Yeah, same here. Same here. Yeah.

Brian (49m 53s):

Unless you have someone there, you know, I wasn't gonna ask my wife to like, be there,

Ryan (49m 59s):

Hold my hand. Yeah,

Brian (49m 60s):

Exactly. Hold my hand. Help me across this. Yeah, I do agree. I think having these little things, you know, I think for me, like I, I mean I've been lifting for a long time. I mean, I do other things. I, I love golf, but like yeah, I think it's good to have things in your calendar to work towards and, you know, things like these Races could be a good place to start.

Ryan (50m 20s):

Yeah. I, I think, you know, don't, it's intimidating. These things can be intimidating, like going and, and doing, but there's always, you know, another person there that's in the same boat as you. Right, right. And like, and you can always find, if you find someone to do something with you, like do it as a group. It's, it's so much fun. Yeah. Like I, I also like, I also like these types. One of the, I think one of the things that I discovered about Obstacle horse racing that I really loved that was a benefit that wasn't my initial motivation for doing it at all was the community. Hmm. you know, a lot of people talk about how, you know, the, the best thing about CrossFit was the community aspect of it. And I think one of the best things about Obstacle horse racing is the same thing as the community aspect of it.

Ryan (51m 2s):

Yeah. 'cause when you get there and you go to a race, you know, if you're struggling on an Obstacle, like someone I've helped numerous people. Like I, I've just stopped and I've been like, okay, you know, I'll help you. I'll boost you over this wall or try it this way or you know, like, you know, everyone is always there to support you. And probably the, the best example of this is I did an, an ultra distance Obstacle course race was a a 50 K Obstacle course race. And they made you wear this special bib that indicate that you were doing the ultra distance as opposed to everyone else. And so whenever I walked by someone and I had that bib on, they were like, oh, go get 'em, you know, great job, keep going.

Ryan (51m 42s):

you know? 'cause they know that you're gonna be out there for, I was out there for like 13 hours, you know, so you're gonna be out there forever and doing the obstacles. And when you come up to an Obstacle with the bib on people just step aside and be like, go ahead, go ahead, go through and stuff like that. So like, the community aspect and like I, I, I have fun training with other people that do Obstacle course racing. Like I, I have a, a buddy who has a bunch of land and he's literally built an Obstacle course in his backyard. And so like a bunch of us go there. you know, I try to go there every so often to just hang out and, and train and, and just, you know, shoot the shit with, with everyone else. And, and I think community is, is so big.

Ryan (52m 25s):

It's so un under unrelated. And I think that's again, speaks back to this ancestral health point of view. Like we, we evolved in tribes and we need a community. And the past several years have been, you know, some of that has been taken away. And I think we have a hard, we're having a hard time coming back from that and readjusting and there's some convenience to not being around people and people enjoying it for a while. But I think we do need to have this community, we do need to have people, we need to have people we talk to and, and see face-to-face and have fun with. And, and I think, you know, physical activities like doing a race or, or whatever, you know, kiteboarding or golfing or, you know, I don't know, you know what a pick playing tennis, you know, you're doing this with other people and I think that is a hugely un under un underrated piece of, of those activities and, and having that in your life.

Ryan (53m 20s):

So I, I think that's important too. Yeah, I agree. I, I totally agree. And

Brian (53m 26s):

I always ask this, we'll, we'll finish up with this question. What's the, what is one tip you give someone that's maybe looking to get their body back to what it once was 10, 15 years ago? I'm sure we've hit on a lot of different tips today, but maybe what, what one thing would you give someone to start with?

Ryan (53m 42s):

I said it earlier, I said walking is my favorite pastime, my, my favorite activity to do. And I think that walking is the number one thing that you can do. And it, it's just like I said, like I said before, it, it's not, it, yeah, you burn a little bit calories doing it, but like, it, it can improve your sleep, it can improve your stress if you do to other people. You could do, it's improves your social connection like we were just talking about. And you have all the, the be and the vitamin D And, you know, being out in nature and Right. I just, the, the, the benefits, the list is endless, right? It, it impacts every other aspect of your health, sleep, stress, body composition, you know, hormone balance, all that stuff is all impacted by just going for a walk outside.

Ryan (54m 29s):

And it, it's accessible to everyone. You just need a pair of shoes and as long as you can, can move your legs, you can go outside and do it. And yeah, it's, I think that is the number one thing that I would, I would tell people to start with. It's not sexy. I'm not gonna sell a book about it. I'm not nothing. But I really do believe that is, it's the most, one of the most important things you can do.

Brian (54m 52s):

Yeah. I'm, I'm there with you. I agree. It's probably one of the things I look forward to the most. Like even when I travel without my dogs, I still go, I still enjoy those walks. I mean, that's fun. I like doing it with, with my dogs. But yeah, it's like you get into that habit of just doing it and it just, you know, first thing in the morning, that's what we do. So Yeah.

Ryan (55m 12s):


Brian (55m 13s):

Yep. Sure. All, right? Where Ryan, where's the best place your website? Is it rj b health.com.

Ryan (55m 21s):

It's actually coach, so, oh, oh,

Brian (55m 23s):

There you go. you know what? I didn't even see that. Yeah,

Ryan (55m 25s):

I played a little trick on everyone. Yeah. So it's, that's cool. My website is rjb Health Coach. Okay. Not not.com. So that's my website. The best way to keep up with all the stuff that I'm, I'm doing and putting out there, especially if you're not a social media person, you can sign up for my newsletter. So if you go to that website right on the top, you'll see a newsletter link and you just pop in your email address there. I'm a firm believer putting out free content and I try my best to do it once, at least once a week, every, every week throughout the year. So I'm not gonna spam you with a whole bunch of stuff. I usually send out a blog post, a short newsletter, and a video every week.

Ryan (56m 5s):

Most of that information, if not all of it, is actionable stuff that you can put to work every single day and is free and I'm not gonna charge you for it or anything like that. So if you want to keep up with all the things I'm doing and get some what I hope is quality information, that's where I would send you. If you are a social media person, you can keep up with me there. My health coaching Instagram handle is rj b health coaching r j b health coaching. I'll send this all to you so you can throw it in the show notes or whatever. Yeah, I will, my, my personal ins Instagram, if you, if you wanna see health coaching related stuff, but some personal stuff is Ryan Jason Baxter as well.

Ryan (56m 47s):

Okay. And then you can, you can Google my Google r j b health coaching or, or my name and you can find me on Facebook and all that fun stuff too, all the places. But yeah, those are the, those are the two places I would send people to

Brian (57m 2s):

Ryan. Well this was great. Thank you for coming on and I definitely will put all your contact in the show notes so if people wanna reach out or follow you or or sign up for your newsletter, they can do that.

Ryan (57m 13s):

So Yeah, no, I appreciate you having me on and if, like I said, if anyone has any questions or anything, feel free to direct message or reach out. Happy to chat. Don't, don't be shy.

Brian (57m 23s):

Thanks Ryan.

Ryan (57m 24s):


Brian (57m 26s):

Thanks for listening to the GETLEAN E Clean podcast. I understand there are millions of other Podcasts out there and you've chosen to listen to mine and I appreciate that. Check out the show notes at Brian Gryn dot com for everything that was mentioned in this episode. Feel free to subscribe to the podcast and share it with a friend or family member that's looking to get their body back to what it once was. Thanks again and have a great day.

Ryan Baxter

Husband. Father. Software Engineer at VMware. Health Coach.


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