If you want to know how to go from stressed out of your brain, brain fog and fractured sleep to feeling of calm, boundless mental clarity and deep, refreshing sleep, then read on...
This is the second of a two part series where I reveal my coaching secrets. I'm giving you the inside track on what it takes to optimize someone's health from the inside out.
You can read the first part here, but to briefly recap:
- My client Nick had been leading a life of sex, drugs and rock and roll as a way of managing the stress of building multiple businesses. So he reached out to me for help
- This lifestyle eventually caught up with him (as it always does) and he reached out to me for help.
- Prior to coaching we did a blood test to identify exactly what his health challenges were.
- The blood test results revealed a host of challenges, including digestive inflammation, liver issues and a possible parasite infection.
In this article I'm going show you exactly what Nick and I worked on to transform his health.
Why I do blood testing before any coaching
Most men can dramatically improve the way they look and feel with nutritional and lifestyle changes, but without a blood test it can be difficult to know what these changes need to be.
Testing a client’s blood is an amazing tool to know exactly what is going on at a cellular level. If we have that information, we can be much more specific when designing the most appropriate nutrition plan.
It also helps us identify underlying problems that we may not have otherwise discovered. This is why most of my clients take a blood test before we do any coaching.
Now, back to Nick's test...
You are what you absorb
Your gut is the gateway to the rest of your body, and it’s where all food must pass through. The gut is the foundation of your health and typically the first issue I address with my clients.
Your microbiome, also known as gut flora, is key to your digestive health. It is the combined genetic material of microorganisms lining your stomach and intestinal walls. The microbiome found in our stomach is delicately balanced and is vital to optimal health.
The gut microbiome is needed to maintain hormonal balance, digestive and central nervous system function. It is only when there is an overgrowth of the microorganisms – or a particular strain that is pathogenic – that problems occur.
Processed food, high sugar consumption, chronic stress and excessive alcohol intake can all lead to microorganism overgrowth and digestive inflammation.
I imagine you’re familiar with the term, “You are what you eat.” Well, there’s a saying in nutrition that goes, “You are what you absorb.”
That means you can have the best diet in the world, but if your digestive system is inflamed, then you’re unlikely to to break down and absorb nutrients from it.
For instance, digestive inflammation can lead to low stomach acid. Stomach acid is critical in the breakdown and absorption of food.
Low stomach acid can also reduce your immunity, making you more susceptible to infections. This is because stomach acid is critical for killing pathogens.
This may also explain why Nick had a parasitic infection. So, how do you know if your gut is inflamed?
You get stinky farts, brain fog, bloating, gas and trips to the bathroom that result in watery stools/diarrhea.
To improve his gut health, I encouraged Nick to focus on two main areas:
1. Chewing his food
2. Changing his diet
One of the first questions I ask new clients is: “How do you chew your food?” Often, they tell me they chew quickly.
Chewing your food properly is critical. Wolfing food down activates the sympathetic nervous system, i.e. 'fight or flight’ response, which leads to poor digestion and absorption of food.
All signs – both from his blood test and how he felt – pointed to Nick being in a highly inflamed state, not only in his digestive tract, but his body as a whole.
Thus one of my main goals in healing his gut was to bring down this systemic inflammation.
Inflammation and chronic illness
Why is it important to reduce inflammation? Systemic inflammation is the underpinning of virtually all disease states.
That’s why being obese is terrible for your health, as it promotes massive systemic inflammation.
Typical symptoms of inflammation include waking up in the middle of the night, sore joints, brain fog, fatigue and depression.
The simplest and most effective way to reduce inflammation is through your diet. As the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, famously said:
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
In Nick’s case, this meant focusing primarily on whole foods and eliminating takeout food, soda drinks and sweeteners.
For example, greasy takeout foods are typically cooked in vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower and grapeseed oil. These oils are full of omega-6 fatty acids, which can result in chronic inflammation and lowered sperm motility.
Soda drinks are sky-high in sugar that can trigger chronic, low-grade inflammation.
You’re not out of the woods with diet sodas either, as the sweeteners they contain, such as aspartame, are neurotoxins (i.e. harmful to the brain). Your immune system recognizes these artificial sweeteners as foreign invaders and attacks them, resulting in an inflammatory response.
It was also important for Nick to avoid gluten because he showed signs of leaky gut.
Through a protein known as zonulin, gluten can damage the intestinal lining and open up tiny spaces in it, allowing space for undigested food and bacteria to enter the bloodstream.
Leaky gut can lead to autoimmune conditions such as inflammatory bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease and thyroid Hashimoto’s (a condition where your immune system attacks the thyroid) – as was the case with Nick.
Holding you accountable
Despite multiple health challenges, the first months of our work together concentrated primarily on diet.
There’s no point in introducing exotic supplements and lifestyle hacks if you can’t master the basics of nutrition.
This is why people who go on fad diets often gain the weight back. Why? Because they didn’t grasp a basic understanding of calorie intake, food choices,
If you’re serious about increasing your energy, getting refreshing sleep and boosting your sex drive, I can’t stress how vital it is to be held accountable for your food choices.
Changing your diet is a big deal and can involve a lot of upheaval and stress. Not to mention all the energy you need to expend cultivating new habits and behaviors.
Nick logged his food choices in My Fitness Pal (a food diary app) and I encouraged him to be as honest as possible. This way I could hold him accountable.
Whenever he didn’t make the right choices, it was my job not to scold him, but to help him understand what he could do better next time. That’s how we create sustainable change.
This may involve opting for a salad at a restaurant instead of fries, or preparing more meals in advance.
I don’t expect clients to turn on a dime and change their diet overnight. What we do aim for, though, is small, incremental improvements each week.
The way I achieve this is by encouraging my clients to focus on what they did well, as opposed to the one time they ‘fucked up.’
When you reframe your mistakes as opportunities for growth, instead of beating yourself up, you cultivate a positive mindset. This approach not only helps you make better food choices, but also transfers over to all other areas of your life.
Focusing on the few occasions you messed up can derail you for weeks on end, because you make yet more poor food choices to cope with the guilt and anxiety.
Changing your perspective is as close to magic as it gets –
You see, the more you focus on what you did well, especially when it comes to nutrition, the better you feel about things and the better choices you make.
It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Once I felt confident Nick was sticking to his diet, we tackled his parasite issue.
White blood cells are the backbone of the immune system and fight off foreeign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. Most people don’t realize, however, that there are different types of white blood cells, each serving a separate purpose.
Nick had two white blood cell markers – basophils and eosinophils – that were elevated well outside the normal range, indicating a chronic infection/intestinal parasite.
Parasite infections are more common than you think. If left untreated, they can lead to fatigue, joint pain, brain fog and depression.
Research also suggests that parasite can affect sex hormone production (i.e., lower testosterone) and dramatically affect sexual behavior.
And what do parasites do? They feed off their host.
I’ve had clients who never felt satiated and would eat thousands of calories in one sitting – because something else was stealing the nutrients. But thankfully, after a parasite cleanse, they could eat a meal normally and feel full again.
It’s often important to identify exactly what type of parasite is present. This is because many parasites are extremely resilient and are resistant to specific drugs or treatment protocols.
Thus for Nick we did a stool test, known as a gastrointestinal map, to identify the parasite. Once we figured out what it was, we were able to come up with a specific treatment protocol to get rid of it.
Some people – albeit rarely – have chronic viral infections such as Epstein Barr (glandular fever) and Lyme disease that require a different approach.
But based on Nick’s symptoms and the rest of his blood test, I didn't suspect a viral infection was present.
It’s hard to convey everything Nick and I worked on together over six months. In fact, it would take me several articles to do so.
Nonetheless, a core component of our coaching was working on Nick’s mindset.
In the first part of this series, I described Nick’s hard-charging, guns blazing personality. This meant that he would go balls to the wall, training five days a week, or go keto and cut out all carbs.
These extremes never resulted in lasting change. In most cases they were counterproductive, because they left him feeling mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted.
Part of my job was to help Nick change his perspective and take a more moderate approach to things.
When driven, hard-charging guys hear the word ‘moderate’, they want to run for the hills. This is because they often think that doing less work is somehow weak or lazy.
Doing as little as possible to get the result you want is optimal. If you’re always charging forward and never take time to rest, you will eventually crash and burn – as was the case with Nick.For example, he got annoyed with himself at the start of January because, like everyone else in the holiday season, he ate a lot of sugary treats.
Up until that point, though, he had been extremely consistent and diligent with his diet. Therefore, I encouraged him to relax and not be so hard on himself.
You can’t enjoy the fruits of your labor if you’re always at war with yourself. And after all, a week of holiday food isn’t going to undo months of good work.
Another thing that I worked on with Nick was helping him simply to relax. You see, when you’re a driven and ambitious person, everything is goal-oriented.
Nick became so preoccupied with the end goal that he’d forgotten to do things for the sake of it. Therefore, I recommended Nick do things without any specific goal in mind.
Now that doesn’t mean you wander off aimlessly into the wilderness, never to come back. It simply means doing activities without fretting over the outcome.
He went for walks in nature without his phone, took time to read books while savoring barista-style coffee,
It was hard for him at first to relax and do these things, but after consistently doing them for several weeks, Nick felt much more balanced and relaxed.
Which is what most of us are searching for anyway, right?
On the surface, these things may not appear to have much to do with ‘health optimization.’ You can have a perfect sleep schedule, ideal diet and world-class exercise routine, but if you’re constantly stressed, then it won’t count for much.
Before and after
After six months of coaching we do a second blood test to compare results. I was extremely pleased to see Nick’s second set of test results.
To recap, the screenshot here is his first test that shows the main health concerns.
The report calculates the likelihood of a health concern using an algorithm that considers multiple biomarkers. For instance, it determined that Nick had a 100% probability of intestinal permeability (i.e. leaky gut) due to two separate markers.
The screenshot below are the health concerns from his second test:
As you can see, the health concerns this time around are dramatically reduced. He still has some gut issues to work on, which we’ll most likely address with supplementation.
It also looks as though his kidneys are not working in the way that they should be. This is despite the fact he drinks a lot of water (hydration is vital to kidney function), so we need to investigate why this is.
There’s nothing that truly concerns me in comparison to his previous test, although, his kidneys are still not functioning optimally.
This is despite drinking plenty of water – which helps flush waste products from the body and support kidney function.
The kidneys perform multiple functions, including filtering out waste products and toxins from the blood, as well as helping maintain blood pressure.
Therefore, we need to do everything we can to support his kidney function, both with supplementation and lifestyle adjustments. As I said before, you’re not going to fix all of your health problems overnight.
The neat thing about these reports is that it allows you to compare your results side by side. So here we have a comparison of Nick’s biomarker from the current and previous blood test.
Context is everything and there are more markers in the optimal range, which means that the trend where we want it, i.e. upward.
Nick has seen the positive effects of coaching, both in personal life and in concrete numbers from the blood test, so he’s decided to work with me for another 12 months, and I'm super excited about it!
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