Welcome to Pushing the Limits, the show that helps you reach your full potential, with your host Lisa Tamati, brought to you by lisatamati.com.
Lisa Tamati: Well hi everyone and welcome back to Pushing the Limits. This week, I have Russell Jarrett with me. Now Russell is one of Australia's leading strength and conditioning coaches, owns a number of gyms with his lovely wife Tara, and has also worked with many elite teams from the AFL, from soccer, from golf, to tennis. He’s been around a while and done a lot of things. So you're going to really enjoy this conversation on strength and conditioning and how to optimise your fitness.
Before we go over to the show, just want to let you know that we have our BoostCamp live webinar series coming up on the first of September, it starts. It’s eight weeks long, we're going to be doing a live seminar every week. You're going to be we're going to be learning everything around levelling up your life, basically. So how to age like a winner, how to reduce your stress, how to deal with all the things that are coming at us, and are overwhelmed today's society. We're going to teach you how to tap into your biology through your neurology. So we're going to be looking at how to optimise your sleep, health fundamentals, nutrition, exercise, all those sorts of good things, as well as things like circadian rhythms.
It's going to be a really good life program, basically. So we hope you can join us over there. If you want to find out more, go to peakwellness.co.nz/boostcamp, that's boost with an -st. No, it's not boot camp, it's BoostCamp. We won't be making you do burpees during the webinar, I promise. So make sure you come and join us over there: peakwellness.co.nz/boostcamp.
We also have our flagship program running, as usual, our epigenetics. This is all about understanding what your genes are about and how to optimise your life to your specific genes. Now we use it with lots of our runners. We also use it in the corporate sector for teams and leadership teams and building strong companies. We also use it for people who are going through different health crises and wanting to optimise their health fundamentals to help them through. So if you're interested in finding out about that, just go to peakwellness.co.nz. Okay, now over to the show, with Russell Jarrett.
Lisa: Well, hi, everyone, and welcome back to Pushing the Limits. Today, I have Russell Jarrett with me. Welcome to the show, Russell. Fantastic to have you!
Russell Jarrett: Thanks, Lis. Good to be here.
Lisa: We have a mutual friend who's put us in contact, and we're very, very grateful. We're going to be sharing some good stuff around health, fitness, health optimisation, strength, and conditioning. That's your jam. Now you, Russell, can you give people a bit of background? You've got a hell of a lot of experience in working both with elite athlete teams and different sports, as well as, the general population through your gyms, and your studios, and so on. Can you just give us a bit of a synopsis on your career, if you like?
Russell: Yeah, sure. So it stretches back some 30 years now. I started like many other coaches do. You know, working on the gym floor and understanding what that environment looked like and felt like. Once I finished my physio degree, I decided I didn't necessarily want to teach. I moved into athlete strength and conditioning. That was an area which seemed to really raise my interest. I got involved in that. But back in those days, it was very much a part-time role and a part-time world. There wasn't really professional sporting teams as yet. So I had to then supplement with work in the fitness industry, and with general population.
I've always had one foot in either world, and I've worked with elite athletes in various sports in Australia for a long time. But I've also had my own business enterprises and studios or RTOs, and things like that, that I've used to provide myself with a stable career. Because one thing I have learned in the strength and conditioning world is that it's a great environment to work in. It's exciting. It's high pressure. It's always different. It's challenging. But it's unstable, and it can be volatile. Because as they say it's a results-based industry. So if the results aren't coming, for whatever reason, and that may or may not have something to do with what you do, it might not. But nonetheless, if there's a change in personnel, quite often you're part of that change.
Lisa: That's so true. You know that that's what I love. You have to be flexible, adaptable, and being able to sort of go with the flow. When you're an entrepreneur, I mean, on this, similar sort of world, different but similar. You have to make that happen, basically, if you want things, if you want to keep in business, and you have to be good at your job, otherwise, yeah, people aren't going to come back.
I want to go a little bit into your experience with working with elite athletes for starters. Because I think it interests, a lot of my— so my listeners are endurance athletes, not everyone. Everyone’s a lot of average, sort of people interested in health optimisation and being the best that they can be. My background is as an ultra-endurance athlete.
What is it that you think sets a good athlete up from a mindset point of view? Before we get into the strength and conditioning side of the equation, which is hugely important, but do you think that there's—like having worked with general population and lots of elite athletes, what is that some of the key differences that you see between the two groups, if you like?
Russell: Yeah, look, I think when people start to figure out that they have a talent, or a gift, or an ability that is above and beyond what is considered normal, I think along with that comes a strengthening in their self-belief and their understanding of what they can do. That takes time. But there are still athletes that will, by their own admission, will struggle with their own self-belief and their own levels of doubt, and so forth. They're not invincible but I think that anyone who gets to the elite level has a mental belief, a strong mental belief in their ability. They know what they can do. They know what they're good at. They're obviously passionate about it.
Then I think for the elite athletes, it's just an ongoing evolution of that ability to stay focused, stay driven, stay hungry, and stay confident when perhaps their performances are suggesting otherwise. I think that's, good athletes and people that are considered elite have an ability to persevere when others might give up. I think that's probably one of the things I noticed the most.
Lisa: Perseverance. Do you think there's a difference between— is the most important thing talent? Or is the most important thing, a never quit attitude and I'm gonna keep fighting a fighting sort of attitude? What do you think's more important?
Russell: I think there's a combination there. I think it's different for every person. I think there's definitely athletes that are extremely exceptionally talented: Michael Jordan, NBA, Tiger Woods in golf, Michael Schumacher in F1. These kinds of people are supremely talented. They're just playing on another level. I think for those people, they probably don't suffer the same levels of doubt or stress than others might.
Now, on the same environment, you've got people who are not that talented. So there were people that that played in the same team as Michael Jordan, right? So there was a guy from Australia called Luc Longley, who was one of the pioneers of Australians into the NBA. Luc Longley was a seven-foot centre, who played a couple of seasons with the Chicago Bulls. Now Luc Longley, and he'll tell you this, was in no way shape or form as talented as Michael Jordan. But he still managed to play in the same team, at the same level, and win championships alongside Michael Jordan.
Now, it's not talent that got Luc there. So it's got to be something else. Obviously, he had some talent. But he obviously had incredible desire, hunger, dedication, perseverance. He had some ingredients that he combined with his talent to allow him to play at the highest level. So I think it's different for every athlete. Some athletes do their thing because they're in extremely talented environments. They're just freaks at what they do. Then there's other people that you look at in all sorts of sports, and they don't—
Lisa: —work your ass off.
Russell: Yeah, they don't look that athletic. They don't look amazing. They don't do extraordinary things, but they just keep going and they hang in there. They find a way to play at the highest level. It's quite extraordinary.
Lisa: Yeah. I mean, that's certainly my background, I absolutely had no talent as a runner. Absolutely none. Just for sheer bloody-mindedness got sort of pretty good at it. I think, that's why, for me to ask the question because for me, talent is, if you've got it, then you're bloody lucky. But even if you haven't, if you're one of those people listening that goes, ‘You know, I haven't got any genetic abilities and talents and stuff, but I really want to do it.’ Well, don't give up on your dream.
I remember going to Millennium Stadium in Auckland with the Auckland University doing VO2 max testing and all that sort of stuff. They said to me afterwards, like, ‘If you're a young athlete coming to see whether you'll be good at endurance sports, we’d tell you, don't give up your day job. You're actually below average, below average.’ Small lung capacity, very low VO2 max. I said, ‘Well, lucky, nobody told me that back then. Because then I wouldn't have gone on to do the stuff that I did.’ That's the point now that just because you don't have the talent doesn't mean you can't. You might have to work your way around things, you might have to work twice as hard as the guy next to you. You have to be prepared for that battle. But I think you can.
Okay, so you've worked in the AFL, cricket. What other sort of sports have you worked with? And what do you see as differences between the sport arts as well? Any sort of insights?
Russell: Yeah. I've spent some time in the AFL, with Cricket Australia, I've worked with netballers, basketballers, tennis, and golf. Look, physically, all of those athletes differ because they adapt according to what their sport requires of them. So footballers have exceptionally high levels of fitness capacity, strength, endurance, agility, power. They're very well-developed and well-rounded athletes. Then you've got golfers who essentially are not always very athletic, although the sport is getting better. But they have incredible levels of coordination, incredible levels of concentration, incredible levels of focus. Because that's what their sport requires. So I've been lucky to work in different sports.
Yeah, you're right. I always see these little nuances between different sports and what they bring to the table. Footballers, generally have really high levels of pain tolerance, because to play at that level, it's quite uncomfortable. Whereas golfers have incredible levels of concentration and mental resilience. Because you can stand over a putt, which might be four feet long, but that one shot over four feet might be worth a million dollars.
Lisa: Wow. Yeah.
Russell: So you better make sure that you've got incredible focus, and that your internal dialogue is very calm and very measured. Because if you're standing over that putt worth a million dollars, and you're like, ‘I don't know, if I can do this,’ and your heart rate is pounding, you're not in a good position to make that putt.
Lisa: Wow. That's a good insight.
Russell: Yeah, isn't it?
Lisa: It is because, I've often looked at golf and thought, ‘Why the hell are they so high pay when you've got some triathlete, or Tour de France winner, it gets, a pittance in comparison.’ And you're thinking, the training and the dedication and these dangers and all of that. You think that. So it's interesting to see that there is a different lot of things at play and it's the brain. I mean, I watched Docker last night, I love neuroscience. There was a great one just on Netflix, actually, and it was looking at how the neurons in the nervous system work. It was looking at a boxer and all the stuff that's going on in the brain. It was like, wow, there is different types of coordination, fitness, reaction, emotional control, all of these things play into this game that we are, whatever sport you're into, and into life in general and staying healthy.
One of the things that I found interesting, they were talking about ultramarathon runners having the blood sugar levels of a diabetic and I was just like, ‘Really? Is that why—?’ Because I've been monitoring my blood sugar levels over the last couple of years, and I'm going, ‘What the hell! They're extremely high at times.’ I'll be doing like an interval training session and fast, evening hours and I was up at nine and a half and I'm like, ‘Oh, my God, I'm diabetic.’
I'm now like, listening to that yesterday, now I'm like, ‘Ah, ultramarathoners trained their body to respond with huge amounts of blood sugars, and they're very insulin sensitive.’ So actually, the opposite is actually happening. But if you just took that at face value, you just took that 9.5 measurements on blood glucose, you'd think, ‘Oh, my god, she's got diabetes.’ So it's a really interesting world. Or when you're recruiting, you're doing a big, heavy weight, the neurons as what you're training, not just the muscle fibers, isn't it?
Russell: Yeah. In fact, with a lot of strength training, and that's what people find, especially people who are new to strength training, they actually develop new levels of strength quite quickly. If you take a beginner, and they've never done weight training before, strength training before, you can actually get them quite strong within two to three weeks. They'll notice a difference in two to three weeks. Now, that's not a physiological adaptation in the muscular system. That is a physiological adaptation in the nervous system. So their nervous system adapts and changes much more rapidly. So that's why you see that rapid increase in strength.
Lisa: At the start.
Russell: At the start. That's right. Then after a couple of weeks, the muscular system also changes and starts to catch up.
Lisa: Wow. Is that also why you have a little bit of a plateau after your initial gains? And you're like, ‘Ah, this is great, I'm gonna keep improving,’ and then you don’t.
Russell: Exactly. So the nervous system changes rapidly. Then the adaptation to the stimulus of that starts to slow, and then you get more physiological adaptation in the muscular system. So, over time, the process of getting stronger is a combination of those two systems constantly being stimulated and constantly adapting to the changing stimulus.
Lisa: Wow. What sort of changes Is this making our body like from a health and well being and in longevity and anti-aging sort of stuff? I'm heavily into actually, resistance work, weight training, it doesn't have to be heavy, heavy stuff. But you have to be doing weight training as far as I'm concerned. So I'm coming from an endurance athlete background, that's not, that wasn't, certainly wasn't the conversation until our company, we're very big on the strength, we're big on the mobility, we're big on the not overdoing the running, not doing the high mileage models and ignoring the strengths, which is, the world that I sort of grew up in, when I was, learning as a young athlete, ultramarathon running.
There wasn't a guidance for starters. I remember ignoring strength and conditioning completely, and the strength side of it. Now realising, that's actually the base gains, the biggest weight changes, like isn't weight loss, the biggest metabolic changes, the biggest form changes for runners, strength trainers, the stability, the lack of injuries, like all of these things are just huge parts of that puzzle, even for endurance athletes.
Russell: Yeah, you're absolutely right. Going back maybe a couple of decades, strength training and endurance athletes, they didn't really talk to each other. It really wasn't part of the picture.
Lisa: Yeah. Detrimental to don't do weights if you're a runner.
Russell: You're absolutely right, there was a segment of the endurance world that believe that if you're lifting weights, that you could damage or inhibit your ability to run or do endurance sports. We know better than that now. We know that it is absolutely possible and actually recommended to combine endurance training with the appropriate level and type of strength training to benefit endurance athletes, no doubt.
Lisa: Yeah, it's a great insight.
Russell: When endurance runners, runners or cyclists or triathletes, when they get stronger, provided it's done in the correct fashion, as you say, it actually has benefits to their running technique, to their running form, to the minimisation of injury, to their ability to recover. Everything improves when you're stronger.
Lisa: Yeah. And anabolic as opposed to the catabolic nature of our sport, which is tearing stuff down all the time instead of rebuilding. We need— on that point as well, the whole ‘I'm going to bulk up’ mentality, it takes quite a lot to actually bulk up and there’s different types of strength training to reach different types of goals. And the other aspect I wanted to ask you about like I do genetic testing and epigenetics, and understand the different sort of genetic combinations. If I put someone who is strength-based by genetics, and I put them into super long-distance endurance training, I'm going to be mismatching their genetics.
How that worked out for me in my life was I did ultramarathon running when my genetics are actually built around high-intensity sort of medium weights in shorter episodes, or shorter duration is actually what my genetics want. I decided to do ultramarathoning because I decided to do it. But I didn't know that, actually, from my genetics, it's actually really important to be doing some weight training. It's actually important that I don't overtrain as in the long distance.
Now, my active career time is over. So I've gone now for longevity and things that are more important to me now. I've found that I'm a lot healthier, a lot fitter. My hormones are in better balance because I'm doing what's in line with my personal genetics. It doesn't mean I can't even run an ultramarathon again. I can. But I shouldn't be doing them back to back if I want to live a long time and not break myself.
Do you see that? I mean, you were— without going deep into the embryology and epigenetic side of it, but you got your ectomorphs, your mesomorphs, and your endomorphs as a broad categories. The endomorph population really, really benefit from strength training. Like it's really important. It's counterintuitive, especially for females and the population, because they think they’re already bigger, stronger people. And they think that when they go to do weight training, that's going to make them like really massively bulky. What would you say to that? Have you come across that experience at all? Look, I'm in the weeds here. But—
Russell: No, you’re right. Certainly, people are more predisposed to certain activities, which is essentially what we're saying. So I'm an ectomorph. But my body shape and my body composition is more ectomorphic. I'm quite slight, narrow shoulder. I don't weigh much. But I do still strength train. But what we're saying here is that because I'm not sort of genetically gifted or predisposed towards strength training, it also means that I'm what we call a slow gainer or a non-responder. For me to put muscle on my body, for me to get stronger, I've got to do a lot of hard work and I've got to eat a lot of food. Because it's really hard. My body does not want to get bigger. But if I put a pair of shoes on a winter run, my body is very happy. So you're absolutely right.
Now, with females, yes, there are people that are going to respond better to endurance work, and respond better to strength work. But I guess what it comes down to is, how do you then combine that predisposition to what it is that your goals are, to what it is that you enjoy doing, and to what it is that your body responds to? That's the I mean, if I had the answer to that Lisa—
Lisa: That’s your secret sauce.
Russell: Yeah. If I had the answer to that, Lisa, I’ll be making a fortune.
Lisa: Well, that's right. That's why I study epigenetics. It’s really key or we work with different platforms but then technologies and stuff. But what I get out of it is that gives me the black and white information and then as a coach, then I can help you piece together the right combination. So if I've got someone who's like me or is more suited to shorter, high-intensity CrossFit style workouts for the one a bit of description, and they want to do ultramarathons, then I’ll tailor their programs or our company will tailor the programs to fit that so that they can still do their goals but without wrecking their body. And that will be a lower mileage program than what it would be for you if I was training you who is an ectomorph, who can take more of the distance.
I think what's also important to understand is that strength training pretty much is important for everybody in some way, shape, or form. Especially as we get older and like when we hit our 40s and we start losing muscle mass naturally like that's what happens. This is where I see lots of runners especially our you know becoming like beef jerky, for lack of a better description, sarcopenic, losing muscle mass, then losing bone mass, and they may be cardiovascularly fit. They're not going to die of diabetes and being overweight, but where they run into troubles is with stress fractures and osteoporosis and lack of muscle. And that can kill you just as quickly as well.
I mean, a lot of people die of osteoporosis and breaking hips. You break a hip when you're above 60 and you're in trouble. That can lead to death. The stats for that is worse than it is for cardiovascular disease. That's just pretty scary when you start unraveling the whole bone. So it's really important for me to have people who aren’t just endurance junkies, if you like, understanding, especially once I've hit the 40 and above that they get into that weight training, that they get into some strength training of some sort, at least.
Russell: Yeah, with all my general population clients, if they are, if they are above the age of 50, I recommend to all of them strongly that some part, small to significant, but some parts of their weekly exercise routine has to include some form of relatively heavy strength training. Because if you want to look at one form of exercise that can improve your quality and length of life, it's strength training.
Lisa: We’re on the same page. Yeah, and that's, you know, me coming from an endurance background saying that. And this is super important for a woman to hear as well, because I think women have a natural tendency, ‘I don't want to get bulky. I don't want to get muscular.’ I can tell you now ladies, the more muscle you can maintain in your body, the better, the better your basal metabolic rate is, your human growth hormone. When you do strength training, you're going to up your levels of human growth hormone, which is going to help with your anti-aging, which is going to keep you younger, which is going to help with all of these different areas of cognitive, as well as physical, as well as sleep as well— every area of life is impacted. If you're doing heavy weight training, you go to sleep better, I’ll tell you that much.
It's not just cardio, cardio, cardio, I think is the message that I'm trying to get across here. That's very important. Everybody should be doing a certain amount of cardio. It's absolutely crucial that we sweat, that we get our heart rate up and we do all that stuff. But it's the combination. In every decade where you go through, you basically need a new approach, I'm saying. You know, the ratios. We all need cardio. We all need strength training. We all need mobility as the other part of that conversation, which is your Pilates, yoga, foam rolling, all that sort of good stuff. Then it's the ratios that become different as you age. Then how heavy are you lifting and what body type do you have.
If you're a big, strong endomorphic body type, I can put some heavier weights through your joints, that's going to be good for you. If you're an ectomorph, I'm going to put some lighter weights, but I'm still going to put weights for you.
Russell: I did a podcast with Craig Harper the other few weeks ago, you've been—
Lisa: A couple times. Yeah man, he’s awesome.
Russell: I said to Craig, ‘What I say to people all the time, “If you train well, if you train well, and if you train consistently through your 20s, 30s, and 40s, then your 50s, 60s, and 70s will be a whole lot easier.”’
Lisa: Hell yes. This is gold man. Because the older you get, the more you have to focus on this. And the more you have to train, not volume-wise, but the more you have to focus on this and get that combination right because it becomes more and more important, not less and less important. And what I see when the over 50s, and 60s, and 70-year-olds is that they go, ‘Oh, I'm older now I don't have to do as much.’ That's the opposite of what you should be doing. I'm older, therefore I can get away with less therefore I have to do more in the right context.
I have, you know, a story. People who listen to my podcast know about my mom's journey. And she had an aneurysm five years ago, and she is at the gym five days a week. This afternoon, we'll be at the gym. We'll be doing weight training, and cardiovascular work, and coordination work, and yoga. Those are all parts of her rehabilitation. Now it's relative to her age; she's 79 years old.
Unfortunately, I didn't know all this back in the day. So I missed the boat in her 40s, and 50s, and 60s. And we've started in her 70s and coming back from a massive rehabilitation project, like, five years in now. God, I wish I had known what I knew then now. Like what I knew, what I know now, I don't, didn't know then because she would be in so much better shape. So now, I have to work that much more strategically in order to keep her where she is and to keep her moving forward into her 80s, and 90s, and hopefully beyond that. It's doable.
Russell: Yeah, it is. It absolutely is. The understanding in the general population, in the general community, the understanding of our strength training is still poor. It's getting better because people like you and I are out there banging the drum saying, ‘Get strong. Lift heavy. Do your weights. You're not going to blow up. You're not going to give bulky. It's going to give you nothing other than a better, a better body that works better, moves better, feels better, functions better—’
Lisa: —and dies later.
Russell: Exactly. Well, yeah, I mean, we haven't, we probably haven't come up with the anti-aging drug. But I think weight training is pretty close.
Lisa: Yeah, absolutely.
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Lisa: This year another aspect that I've been really deep in the weeds on lately is hormones. A study under Dr Elizabeth Yurth, and she's a longevity doctor and orthopedic surgeon in America, brilliant lady, love her to pieces. I just did one course with her and it was like what to fix first. She was like, ‘I'm not going to tell you to do the right diet or the right exercise program. The very first thing that I'm going to get you to do is optimise your hormones.’ Your hormones need to be— if you don't have testosterone and estrogen in the right levels in your body, and human growth hormone, and all the other hormones, and the right combination, and the right thing, then you are not going to be able to exercise.
She said, ‘If I tell someone who's severely overweight in their 60s who hasn't trained before just to go to the gym and start working out and their hormones are in the gutter, they're not going to be able to. They don't have the motivation. Because hormones are related to motivation. They don't have the ability. They don't have the energy, all of these aspects.’ So optimising our hormones is a really important piece of a puzzle. I think this is a new conversation that’s starting to open up. This is not about whether you know, like, we're not talking about, you know, illegal anabolic what bodybuilders or whatever have traditionally done.
This is about optimising your hormones as you age and we start to lose, drop our testosterone, you guys especially in the late 40s, 50s start to really notice a big drop. If we can actually optimise that. That leads you know— like I do hormone consults and stuff. This needs to be done under doctors or people that are specialised in this. But if you can get that right, then you're going to have the energy to go and do the right exercise and you'll be more likely to eat right as well. Because you won't be having this downward spiral because if you get your hormones wrong and you start to feel lethargic, you start to have less energy, less cognitive ability, and, and, and, and, and.
For me I'm actually like, ‘Right, how do we optimise people’s—?’ Or, ‘Let's have some conversations around this.’ Because to date, it's either been, okay woman, maybe hormone replacement therapy. Okay, if they're going through menopause or something like that. For guys, it's only the bodybuilders who have been getting testosterone.
I'll tell you now, men, if they get their testosterone levels checked, and if you can work with a good doctor, and that's a big if, trying to find the right one to work with. And get them optimised for your age and for where you're at so that you're actually— because then you will age a lot slower. But it needs to be done carefully because you go the wrong way and you can end up with cancer. So you need to understand your innate pathways and all that.
Without getting into that conversation, but just getting into the fact that hormones are absolutely crucial. And we can do things to boost our testosterone naturally: weight training. And women, you need testosterone as well. That's where your estrogens come from, for starters. They come from progesterone, to testosterone, to estrogens. And men when you do, so the more weight training you do, and the more, you'll have more human growth hormone and more testosterone available to you. And doing things like sauna and things also huge, huge. Like you do three days of sauna, you're going to have a 1600%, I think it is, increase in human growth hormone for the next couple of days.
Russell: You're absolutely spot on. About two years ago— my wife is 51.
Lisa: Wow. She doesn't look it.
Russell: Has always been really good with her diet, really good with her training, always strength trained, always been a strong lady, and fit. About two years ago, started to feel unwell, started to be, kind of a little unmotivated with regards to exercise. But she still kept fighting through it. And she goes, ‘I'm just going through a flat phase.’ Anyway, long story short, started putting on a little bit of weight, which was unusual because her diet was very good, her training was very good. In 12 weeks, she put on 12 kilos without explanation.
Lisa: It’s menopause.
Russell: Exactly. So got hit fair and square between the eyes by the menopause bus. But she went to three different doctors, and none of them were prepared to explain, or assist, or advise, or refer. They all said to her, ‘You know what, for your age, you're in pretty good shape. I wouldn't worry about it too much.’
Lisa: Ah, this makes me so—
Russell: Then one guy, one doctor looked at her and said, ‘Oh, you're an attractive lady. What are you worried about?’
Lisa: It's not about attractive lady. It's about optimisation. When will the doctors start to understand that it's not about the disease? It's not a disease model that we should be following. It's a prevention model. It's optimisation. That’s the change that's going to happen. I can see it coming. Keep going.
Russell: She finally, we made some phone calls to some friends. We did some research. She stumbled across an anti-aging doctor in Melbourne who was in his mid-90s and was still practising.
Lisa: That says something about him already.
Russell: Right. And he sat with her for, I guess, an hour and a half. And he explained to her what he did and how long he’d been doing it. And he said, ‘No one will tell you this.’ He goes, ‘No regular doctor refers to me or believes in what I do.’ He then met her for sort of an extended consult in which she did three blood tests over the space of six hours. He then managed her hormone profiles and prescribed her some medication and some testosterone. She lost, without changing her diet, without changing her exercise, she dropped 10 kilos in 10 weeks.
Lisa: Yup. That’s an extremely important story. Russell, I hope the hell that she's sharing that out in the world because I have to get her on and share that in depth.
Russell: There's a lot more to that story. That's the brief version.
Lisa: I want the full version. You should get your wife on my show.
Russell: Lisa, it really upset me and it really made me frustrated, as I'm sure you've been through the same process. I've heard your story about your mum. It just made me really upset that our medical profession is so— not all. I don't wanna generalise, but a large percentage of conventional doctors are so far behind. They’re so far behind.
Lisa: They’re so far behind, and this is changing. I mean I'm reading a book at the moment called The Future is Faster than You Think by Steve Kotler. Unbelievable what's going to happen in the healthcare space. The data that's coming, the AI and all this sort of stuff, it's exciting because it's putting the power back into our hands because we'll be able to have the diagnostic tools. At the moment, I'm frustrated and frightened too because this stuff I know about I want to get from my mum or for myself and I can't get them, peptides and all this sort of crazy awesome stuff. I'm a biohacker, I experimenting the hell out of myself.
I’ve just been, I'm going through menopause. I'm 52, I've gone through menopause. I started on a product called NMN which I’m now importing to New Zealand and I work with a molecular biologist in this area. And this is an anti-aging longevity supplement that Dr David Sinclair, who wrote the book Lifespan, you have to read that book if you haven't. So I've been on that now for seven months— eight months. I've reversed my own menopause. I was already aware. I'm already on TTA. I'm on progesterone. I'm on estrogen. I already am optimising. I understand my genetic risk factors so I'm on all over that because I don't just do this willy-nilly. People, if you want a hormone consult, I can do that. That's what I do now.
I'm the leanest, fittest, I'm not fit in the ultramarathon sense, I couldn't go out and run a 200k race like I used to be able to. But I wasn't fit then. I was fit in that one thing, but I wasn't— I didn't feel athletic. I was overweight. I was puffy. I was hormonal. I was up the walls. My body was in overtraining. Now at 52, I'm leaner than I've ever been, I'm stronger than I've ever been, and I've got more energy than I used to have.
When I went, you know, the last few years have been pretty rough. I've had a rough life, with mum, losing my dad, and losing my baby, and spit some shit towards their way. And still, you know, like, okay, I've been through the wringer and I've had a few things along the way. But this is why it's so important. Because you're going to get that from life. It's gonna come, sooner or later, you're going to get smashed in the face. The more stronger you can make your body so that it bounces back if you have an injury, or sickness or a virus or whatever, the better.
I mean, I've just been through shingles the last four weeks, which has been bloody awful. But now I'm back, and I'm training, and I'm back into life, and I'm optimising. That’s not surprising because the stress levels that I've been through and exposed to are the reasons why my body was hammered. So you can't always avoid these things. These things are still going to happen to you. But if you're strong and resilient, and you've got the right nutrients, and you've got the right training, you will bounce back 100 times faster.
I've got a mate up here who is 60, I think he's 65 years old, and he's a kitesurfer. Legend of a bloke. He’s been a waterman. And he’s just had a hip operation. Within two days he was out walking. Within three hours of the operation, he was up. And I see him all day, every day. Now he's on the bike. Now he's down there watching the waves. He can't get out there yet, but he's walking every day. Like, that guy's gonna come back and bounce back like nothing because he is fit and he's just raring to go.
That attitude, it doesn't matter that he's 65. He's a kickass athlete. You want to watch them kite surfing, I’m in awe of him. He's out there for three, four hours and the biggest scariest, like stuff I would never touch. I don't know where to start. This guy’s just killing it or up our mountain skiing. You don't have to accept that, ‘Oh you're now 50. So it's time for you to settle down and get a bit more sedentary. And you probably put on some weight, and you're— that’s just life.’ No it isn’t!
Russell: No, that's right. You're absolutely right. I've got it reminds me of one more little story. I had a lady who sat with me in my office about six years ago. I'll paint you the picture. Early 40s, quite overweight, very unathletic, very inexperienced with exercise, very intimidated by the gym, poor nutrition. Like the classic sedentary person. Anyway, we started talking and I managed to convince her to just gently start something. I made some adjustments with regard to her diet because it was horrendous. She started eating better, drinking less sugary drinks, eating more fruit and vegetables, meats, eating less processed food, started training, then started feeling better, losing weight, started getting more excited by the process. Three years later, she competed in an event in Central Australia called The Big Red Run.
Lisa: Oh, yeah. I’ve done that.
Russell: Yeah. Well, there you go. She covered, what was it, 160 something kilometres in four days.
Russell: Just, this was a woman, when she sat with me, she couldn't run. She wouldn't be able to run more than 500 meters without stopping. In three years, she did the Big Red Run. In one day, she had to cover nearly 80 kilometres.
Lisa: Yeah, that one kicked my ass. I ended up with a back injury and didn't make it. So I know how hard that one is. Like rain, it’s hot—
Russell: It’s amazing. She literally reinvented her body in three years.
Lisa: In her 40s. Not 20s.
Russell: Yeah. In her 40s, yeah.
Lisa: That is just gold. What an incredible story. And even for me, you don’t have to— I had a lady on the podcast a couple days ago: Cindy O'Meara, nutritionist. She was teaching me stuff about numbers, and preservatives, and shit. And I'm like, ‘Oh, my God, you know. And that's even like a—’ But I didn't have any idea of that level of information and how they feed them on plastic bacteria and put it in our food. I'm like, ‘Wow, this is just horrific.’ But she said to me, ‘You don't have to go out and do everything today.’ Just decide, ‘This week, okay, I'm going to eat a little bit more organic. This week, I'm going to go and switch out for my, you know, something organic, better chocolate.’ If that's what you're into, and you want to eat chocolate, then you don't want to be having the cheap and nasty. Go and find a good one.
You know, so it's just, in other words, taking tiny steps and every day that we make those little wee changes and those little wee steps, don't overwhelm yourself, because then you'll chuck it in. You don't have to be perfect. It doesn't mean you can never ever have an ice cream again. It doesn't mean that. It just means that you're making these incremental changes in your life, and slowly you start to get better. We're all on this continuum of change. And I’d bet you don't need 100% perfect to train, 100% perfect. I have days when I have a ‘F-it day’ and you know stuff. Because I've had a bad day and I know I've done it. And then I'm like, ‘Okay, well, you know that this happened. We'll get back on the bandwagon.’
Russell: Yeah, yeah, look, you're absolutely right. We're not saying to people that you need to eat like a monk and run marathons like David Goggins, not saying that. We're just saying, as you rightly pointed out, just small adjustments over time, identifying, okay, if you're unfit, if you're not eating well, what are two or three things that you could change today that would not feel like we're making your life incredibly uncomfortable? What are just three things that you could change?
Eventually, you change them. You realise that it wasn't that hard. You realise that you feel better for it. So then you start looking for what else can I do? What else can I change? You know, what else can I optimise? Then over the process of three years, this lady completely changed and completely optimised to the point where you would consider her somewhat of an elite athlete.
Lisa: Wow, this legend.
Russell: Yes. It's a great story. But it just shows you, with dedication, with discipline, consistency, all those words, that they're not necessarily easy or pleasant, but they're irreplaceable, and they're critical.
Lisa: Yeah. And education.
Russell: Yeah. You can't achieve anything in life, whether it's physical or financial, or anything without dedication, discipline, and consistency.
Lisa: Yeah. And don’t over— then the big piece of the puzzle is don't overwhelm yourself. Just take it one step at a time. I'm studying cryptocurrencies at the moment because I can see the writing on the wall. This is what's coming at us is a complete new system, right? And I’m like at the moment, in that phase of like, ‘I don't get any of this.’ Like, you must have been talking Latin to me. But I know if I keep reading, if I keep listening, if I keep on, I will start to pick up the terminology. I will start to understand that I know the process of learning.
I know that's how I learn languages. That's how I learn medical stuff. That's how everything I don't understand at the beginning. I don't worry about the confusion. I just let it wash over me. And then my brain starts to create these patterns of recognition. Then I start to get, ‘Hey, I understood what that person says,’ and ‘Oh, I’m a little bit clever.’ Then you're away and you're off to the races. Because then you start to become curious, then you start to become passionate. Then you're like, well, then it's up to you. Like how far you take that one. And that's how you do it. You don't go, ‘I'm going to sit down here and I'm going to study cryptocurrency for five hours today because that's what I'm studying.’ That will blow your mind, you know? But if you just take that little bit.
Russell: Absolutely. Lisa and I think as I age, I'm 53. As I age—
Lisa: Same as me.
Russell: Yeah. I'm trying to become more aware of where are my weaknesses, and I don't mean physical. Because my physical— because I've been exercising for 30 years. Physically, I'm in good shape. My blood pressure is fine. My body composition is good. My strength is good. It's all fine. I'm trying to keep my mind strong. Because my, I guess my internal fear is, at what stage in my life will I cognitively start to decline? I know it's probably going to happen. But I'm trying to keep my mind strong.
Lisa: You don't need to, it doesn't need to. This is my area, man. Yeah, we’ll have the talk offline. Yeah, there are lots of things. Like having brought my mum back from a massive brain damage, like she had hardly any higher function, I do understand what it takes to keep the brain going. You'd be doing a lot— I don't— because you've got a good diet and all that sort of thing, and you're exercising, those are two massive factors for brain function, you're much less likely to get Alzheimer's and so on. And with a bit of sauna and things like that, then you can lower the risk. And then you understand what your genetics and your predispositions, and then you can understand what to do to mitigate it, then you hop and things like that, like the hyperbaric which is the corner of my room, that type of thing, that will keep your brain function going.
We don't— I don't, I don't see Alzheimer's or any of those things. Because I have so many things in my war chest, if you like, with my tools that I can pull out. For example, my husband has a genetic, three times risk of the normal for developing Alzheimer's. So I bought him a sauna. I chuck his back into the hyperbaric. I watch it. I make sure he's getting good fats in his diet. I try to keep the beers down. That's the biggest struggle I've got with that one. He's training, and he's running 100 miles, and he's doing all these good things. So I don't see it even though he has a three times risk, genetically speaking. I can control that risk by a large degree, by the diet, by the exercise by the right interventions. So we're not passive.
I just had another interview with another fellow Australian this morning, Kirsty from Kultured Wellness, lovely lady. And she had a dad that she talked about. He was 65, starting to cognitive decline. She changed his diet to keto, she started getting more exercise, doing all that sort of stuff. Now he's 75 and he's back teaching. And then he's fully functioning again. You don’t need— you can't just go to the doctor and they'll give you a magic anti-Alzheimer's pill. There's nothing there yet. They are working on stuff. They've got some things that can slow things down. But don't rely on that. Bet on the lifestyle, and intervention, and this training, and the diet, and all of those sorts of things that you can control and you might not even develop it.
Russell: Yeah, well my goal is with my training, exercise and nutrition, is to self-manage my health. Because I just feel that if I can avoid interaction, If I can avoid the need to be a part of the medical system, then I'm okay.
Lisa: I'm desperate to be apart, away from.
Russell: I don't want to have to rely on a doctor, or a hospital, or a treatment, or a drug. I don't want to. I want to self-medicate through exercise, nutrition, reading, learning, being outdoors, sunlight, all of this stuff. I want to self-medicate for as long as I can.
Lisa: That's the one. That's the one. If we have an accident we’ll be very glad for their brilliant abilities, plastic surgeries. Not saying that they're brilliant, absolutely brilliant. What we're falling down is in the chronic disease management.
Russell: Yeah, but I also feel, Lis, that it's my responsibility to manage my own health. I don’t— It's not up to the doctors and the nurses. I want them to be looking after truly sick people who are injured, or unwell, or have cancer, or— I don't want to give them like, ‘Don't look after me. I'll do it myself.’ If one day, I fall over and break a leg or do something stupid, then I'll need your help. But until then, I'm happy for them to look after people that really need them. And I'll look after me.
Lisa: Yeah. And this is, even from a macro perspective, we’ll wind it up in a second, but I’m loving this, but the social, you know, from an economic point of view, if they understood that if they were educating people, then there would be less load on the health system. I mean what's coming at the health system, as far as diabetes, when you look at our teenagers and our children who are already obese, who are already pre-diabetic in some cases, who have all sorts of hormonal issues, and what's coming 20 years down the line when they reach their 40s and 50s. Oh, Crikey, we're in for a hard ride, then. From an economic, macro-economic standpoint.
Even in the slight, you know, the latest COVID situation, started again, but why is there not a bigger conversation around boosting your immune system so that if you do happen to get it, that you're at least able to cope? Because people with comorbidities that are least likely to come out the other side, or to come out with some serious— not always, it’s a part of it's a genetic thing. But also, let's be proactive again. Let's take your vitamin D on full load. Let's look at the, you know, magnesium and vitamin C's at the school. It's a simple, easy things that we can do to boost our immunity, it's lower stress levels, it's try and do all of it. Then we might, if we are unlucky enough to get hit with it, maybe we'll be able to come out the other side without, you know, dying or having some long-term consequences. Hopefully. Where is that conversation?
Russell: Well, sadly, Lis, we're not having that conversation. The simple reason for that, and I don't want to sound sceptical, but it possibly may, there's no money in healthy people. But there's a lot of money, there's a lot of money to be made, when your population is unwell and sick. And unfortunately, we're fighting big, big organisations that make a lot of money when people are unwell.
Lisa: Yeah, that's just the truth. When you're on a, even a blood pressure medication or something like that, that you're on for life, that's a hell of a lot better than them giving you something that actually might fix it and you’re off it in two weeks’ time. That's why there's no money going into antivirals, medications and things because you'll be on it for a couple of weeks, and then it's over. So they can't really make money. Well, they can't make money out of repurposing drugs that are off-patent. You know, get into the bloody weeds on that stuff.
I think what's important for us to do is just to shine a light on the positive things that we have been through and be proactive. And be aware that there are forces at play that are not always got your best interests at heart, not to just accept whatever is dished up to you. Go and do your own research. Go and talk to this. Listen to the scientists. Listen to people who are really educated in the space. That’s not me and it's not you.
But I listen to the people who are at the top of this game, and then I make my decisions over what I do. We won't always get it right. But make your own mind up and be responsible for your own as best you can. There'll always be a left-field thing. The shingles came out of me even though I'm on all the right things and doing the right things. Because probably I've got too much stress in my life. And I take accountability for that and trying to mitigate that which I'm trying to do.
Russell: My summary to all of that is with your own health and what people are telling you to use or take or consume, you got to do your own due diligence.
Lisa: Always, always. Hey, Russell, you've been absolutely magnificent. I want to have you back on. I'd love to talk to your wife about her journey too at some point because yeah, really excited to meet you to have you on the show. It's been a real honour. Another you know, like-minded person, keep fighting the battle. Right?
Russell: That's it, it’s been great. I really appreciate you having me. Thank you, Lisa.
Lisa: Where do people go to if they want to find out more about you, what you do?
Russell: The best place to just go to my website where you can understand what I do, what I've done, who I work with, and how you can connect and it's just www.russelljarrett.com.au
Lisa: www.russelljarrett.com.au. We'll put that in the show notes people. Check it out and we'll see you on the other side.
That's it this week for Pushing the Limits. Be sure to rate, review, and share with your friends and head over and visit Lisa and her team at lisatamati.com.