The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #131 - Brad Kearns
Brad Kearns is a New York Times bestselling author, Guinness World Record setting professional Speedgolfer, #1 ranked USA age 55-59 high jumper in 2020, and former US national champion and #3 world-ranked professional triathlete. He hosts the B.rad podcast covering healthy living, peak performance, and personal growth with his carefree style and lively sense of humor.
Brad's main message is to encourage the pursuit of peak performance throughout life. He promotes a MOFO Mission designed to optimize male hormone function naturally with healthy lifestyle behaviors. His signature morning regimen is an elaborate flexibility/mobility/core and leg strengthening routine, followed by a five-minute plunge into a chest freezer filled with 36F water or a wintertime plunge into Lake Tahoe to build focus, discipline and a natural hormonal boost.
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11:35 - Brad's Personal History
16:10 - are Extreme athletic Endeavors healthy?
18:20 - what historically would Mimic Triathlon type exercise?
21:50 - natural endurance vs training & over Training
25:40 - the stress of overtraining
27:45 - prioritizing sleep
31:10 - Maximizing your efforts
32:50 - being intuitive with how much and how hard to work
36:50 - impulse vs intuition
39:30 - the arbitrary nature of marathons and Triathlons
43:00 - "Cleaning Up The Mental Mess”: Take back control of your mental health and life today by listening to Cleaning Up the Mental Mess with Dr. Caroline Leaf! Each episode is packed with life-changing information and strategies, and may be what you need in your life right now! Search for "Cleaning Up the Mental Mess with Dr. Caroline Leaf" on Apple podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts!
The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #2 - Dr. Caroline Leaf
The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #83 - Dr. Caroline Leaf
45:10 - can Anybody Achieve elite athleticism?
50:40 - cardio junkies
51:10 - melanie's activity
56:10 - resistance training
57:50 - Brad's Morning Routine
1:09:30 - the morning cortisol spike
1:12:55 - intermittent variable rewards
1:15:30 - the lure of social media
1:18:45 - exercise addiction
1:23:15 - type A personalities and addiction
1:26:35 - ironman blues
1:29:15 - feeling hollow after major achievements
1:33:55 - manifesting
1:35:55 - being overly fixated with results
1:42:45 - moving on at the right time
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1:48:30 - failure
1:50:30 - Training appropriately
1:53:20 - maximum aerobic fitness test
1:56:50 - sprinting
2:02:10 - inputting high intensity in a lower intensity workout
2:06:05 - how many sprints is enough?
2:10:00 - What's fueling the sprints?
2:13:25 - emsculpt Neo
2:16:25 - muscle soreness
2:18:50 - Brad's Current MissionTwo Meals a Day: The Simple, Sustainable Strategy to Lose Fat, Reverse Aging, and Break Free from Diet Frustration Forever
Melanie Avalon: Welcome back to the Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast. Oh, my goodness, friends, I am so incredibly excited about the conversation that I'm about to have. It is a long time coming for me, so a little backstory on today's guest. I first was exposed to this guest through his work with Mark Sisson. I read so many of his books. So, Primal Endurance, Keto for Life, well, he's the narrator of Two Meals a Day, their newest book, and I also read since then the actual author's individual book, How To Improve Your Triathlon Time, and in listening to those other books he was also the narrator of them, and I must say, I am talking about Brad Kearns. Brad, you are the best. I think I told you this when I was on your show, but you are the best audible narrator I think in existence. You are just incredible. So, funny, so hysterical. But in any case, I am honestly a little bit out of my wheelhouse in today's conversation. It's a reason that I'm so excited about it. But Brad Kearns is a legend in the athletic world, which is a world I am not in. I have not actually on this show-- I haven't really done an episode diving into workouts, and athleticism, and definitely not extreme athletic endeavors.
To be here with a champion in that sphere, a Guinness World Record setting professional in speed golf, yes, that is a thing I was not aware about it. He is also the number one ranked USA age 55 to 59 high jumper in 2020, a former US national champion, and a number three world ranked professional triathlete. Like I said, I did just read How To Improve Your Triathlon Time by Brad, and first of all I was just I'm in awe, and very exhausted, and was like, "That was a lot of accomplishments." But I learned so much about training, about workouts, about how to do all of that if one were to do all of that. So, I am really excited about today's conversation, and I'm not even sure where it's going to go, but I'm pumped. So, Brad, thank you so much for being here.
Brad Kearns: Oh, my gosh, Melanie, I think that was the most nuanced, and entertaining, and thoughtful introduction. So far beyond the person who reads the sheet that I sent them, I'm fired up, and we're going for the moon today. We are going to go for a show that's going to blow people's minds. I can't wait. I do really appreciate your tremendous preparation like no other. We talk about things that we can discuss and where we can go. We're not sure where it's going to go. That's for damn sure. But we're going to have a lot of fun and thanks so much for connecting and for your interest. I really love your show. I'm glad to be part of the dream team that's been on.
Melanie Avalon: I am so excited. I must say listeners, Brad was a first. So, when I do this show, I always send the guests a very epic prep doc, which is actually only a microcosm of my prep doc. It's like the trimmed-down version, Brad was the first guest to send back notes on my prep doc, so I'm so excited. We're going to rock this. So, the first question the way I always start this show, but I'm going to actually tweak it a little bit for you. I normally say tell me a little bit briefly about your history and what led you to what you're doing today, but I'm going to tweak that to say, tell me as much as you want about your personal history because your personal history is so much of your journey and your inspiration in what you're doing. So, would you like to tell listeners a little bit about your personal, history, your accomplishments, all the things?
Brad Kearns: Especially, if you're listening at 1.5 speed or 2.0 speakers, I know some people were up there at 1.75 depending on the podcast app you have, we will get through it very quickly, and then get into the good stuff. But I think we better start with the mentioning of my audible narrations. I love doing that so much, especially, because after writing the book, you go into the recording studio, and you experience the book in an entirely different way than the person typing on the screen, and I come up with typos, and redundant sentences, and I get so frustrated, and I have to stop, and the engineers looking through the window like, "What's wrong?" I'm like, "Oh, nothing. I could have written that better." But then. I feel like if someone's going to join us for 13 hours to get through a full book, I give them some value added. So, I have the tendency to go off and do these little tidbits while I'm supposed to be narrating a book like a professional narrator.
Again, the guy's looking through the window, waving his arms like, "This isn't on the script. What the hell are you talking about?" I'm like, "Don't worry. We'll get back to the book." So, I do get a lot of positive comments from people listening to the book saying, "Yeah, that was pretty funny when you talked about your high school running story in the middle of the book, and then back to the book." Yeah, so, what's my personal history? I think the important thing that frames a lot of my message in my professional work has been this athletic experience. I was a little kid growing up in Los Angeles, I love sports, I was obsessed, I played all the sports all year round, and I got to high school, I realized I was too small to be a football or basketball player. So, I ended up running circles around the track. That's where they send those people. That led to really intense journey into high level endurance sports.
Starting in high school when I got really serious, I had some good training partners in Los Angeles. Steve Dietch, Steve Kobrine, now, you have two more listeners to your show that probably wouldn't listen to them but we trained really hard, and we competed, and it was framing my character, my personality. So, I was a very serious runner. I made to the National Junior Olympics finals, and it was so exciting to travel and compete against the top people. I dreamed of being a great competitor in college, and went off to UC Santa Barbara to compete at a division one level in cross country and track. What happened there was, I just got destroyed by the system, the machine like a football player at SC and goes and gets hurt too many times and then is spit out the back. It's pretty brutal what happens to athletes at the collegiate level. So, I experienced for the first time this disaster of wanting something so badly, and being willing to work so hard, and pushed my body so hard, and be so competitive, I could pass any guy at the end or whatever.
All those things serve to destroy me because I was overtrained and injured and sick five seasons in a row. So, that was my first reckoning to wake up to this idea that fitness and competitive success is not aligned with health or psychological health, or leading a healthy lifestyle. So, I had to figure these things out on my own as a young person that it's important to not attach your self-esteem to the outcome of your competitive pursuits because all it leads to is maybe a temporary high if you do well, or you get an ego trip about yourself or other things that are unhealthy. Then when you struggle and don't succeed, you get discouraged and sad, and all these things that make it a rocky road rather than a pursuit that should be leading to personal growth and satisfaction, win or lose, because you're fighting the battle, you're pushing yourself, and sometimes you succeed, and sometimes you don't. So, I had this great awakening in college. I appreciate all the failures and all the disappointment because it pushes you along and I form this mindset that when I was pursuing these competitive goals and doing this fun stuff, it's important to do it in a way that protects your health or recognizes it.
Melanie Avalon: So, can extreme athletic endeavors be healthy? Are they healthy?
Brad Kearns: [laughs] They're inherently unhealthy in so many ways. One of them is that you're attracting this population of highly motivated, goal-oriented driven people who want to compete intensely, and we can also bring this example into the business world, the entrepreneurial world, wherever people who are focused on going for the kill, and crushing the day, and all these things that can inherently lead to an unhealthy obsession with results to the extent that you lose sight of what's important in life, and you lose sight of the beauty of the journey aware that's all that matters, and the end result is something that is transient and not something to obsess about. So, they can be inherently unhealthy in so many ways.
In my case, I was in the endurance sports. So, the nature of the training required to succeed is very likely to compromise your health, especially, as you progress to the elite level. I told the story of my sad college running experience but the great thing is that it opened me up to this wonderful sport of triathlon, and that led to a nine-year career on the professional circuit, and it was just my dream come true of living my life and doing what I want to do. But, again, when you're trying to train for that many hours and compete at that level where, "Hey, guess what, I finished a race in an hour 48 minutes. Isn't that great?" Well, it's a lot better if you can do a 1:46. So, to try to progress with these incremental improvements in your fitness from 1:48 to 1:46, you're basically sacrificing your health to pursue these tiny improvements in a very, very narrow focus, which doesn't even represent fitness very well.
I was a guy who could go really fast swimming in a straight line, bicycling in a straight line, and running in a straight line, but I wasn't good for much else but I was built for speed. So, I was this Greyhound dog that could run around the track, but wasn't very healthy otherwise.
Melanie Avalon: Talking about it representing fitness, so, historically, as a hunter gatherer, would there ever be activities that would mimic things like triathlon type activities or really was it just short bursts running away from lions, an extreme sport endeavor? When did that start as a culture? With the Olympics, with the Greeks?
Brad Kearns: Yeah. well, I like that question how you tied it back to the ancestral experience. Mark Sisson and I've been promoting this Primal Blueprint ideal for so many years about living the ancestral lifestyle. The truth is, the hunter-gatherer lifestyle was probably easy in some cases, extremely harsh and brutal in other cases, but the nature of their fitness experience was nothing like today's modern fitness goals. I want to make that point because people have probably heard of this notion. There was a bestselling book called Born to Run, and humans are born to run, and they're the greatest endurance athletes on the planet, and they can stand up and sweat, so they can run longer distances and outlast even the antelope, and there's a great documentary on YouTube called The Great Dance. It's the first known filming of a persistence hunt ever in the world. So, now, you can see what our hunter gatherers did for millions of years. Pretty cool show.
But the distinction is that today we're training for these crazy extreme endurance events. People are out there putting in their 50 miles a week, and they're doing three marathons a year for a career spanning 20 years, or the cyclists that are riding their bicycles on these weekend long rides for hundred miles, are riding across the country, are doing things that are so extreme, and completely misaligned with ancestral health as well as anything that might have come up for the hunter gatherer was basically they walked around a lot at a very, very slow, comfortable pace, and then they ran for their lives, and they occasionally lifted heavy things, or performed great physical feats of strength, or explosive power, or endurance occasionally. So, back to the documentary, The Great Dance, the bushmen in the Kalahari pursued this antelope in temperatures over a hundred degrees for around four hours, and they finally caught the antelope, and it basically was exhausted, and collapsed, and died of exhaustion. The humans outlasted the antelope.
But the important takeaway is that, did those guys get up the next day and go for four more hours chasing another antelope? No, they feasted on the animal, and brought it back to camp, and sat around and relaxed. So, I think the problem that we have today is this chronic or this overly stressful approach to fitness goals. That's where you can compromise your health, you can throw off your hormone balance, you can trend over into a carbohydrate dependent lifestyle because not only because you're making lousy food choices, and oh, you shouldn't eat those potato chips or that ice cream, but if your exercise program is predicated on burning that level of carbohydrates day after day after day, you're going to crave those foods. So, you're going to be promoting carbohydrate dependency in two ways with bad food choices and with bad exercise choices, essentially.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, my goodness, so many things you touched on/I am so enjoying this conversation, despite being like I said not in my normal comfort zone. So, with the antelope hunting thing, I'm assuming they weren't training for that. They would just go do that.
Brad Kearns: Yeah. This book, Born to Run, Christopher McDougall, is a great book. It was top bestseller and there's a lot of explanation out there. Daniel Lieberman at Harvard also talks about this, where we have this magnificent genetic aptitude for endurance and isn't that great. So, we can bust out right now, if someone come over and put a gun to your head or my head, we could go walk 30 miles if we had to without getting overheated, and all these great things or cooling mechanisms are advanced and so forth. But I think we can't miss that point that when you overdo it then all of a sudden it compromises your health. Same with, hey, lifting weights is great and you get big muscles and you maintain muscle mass throughout life and that's a key marker of longevity, but there's a certain segment of the population that has gotten so extreme about the fitness pursuits that it can bring in all kinds of health problems.
Many of my peers at the high level of endurance sports and triathlon have suffered from heart problems in the years and decades after they're competing at high level because the heart is overused, overworked, it gets scarred and inflamed, and it's a really bad deal. The incidences of atrial fibrillation among extreme endurance athletes are surprisingly high where you think here's this person walking around with a six pack, they're known to ride hundred miles on their bike in one day and come back while the neighbor is mowing the lawn, oh, there goes that guy again, they seem to be a picture of health but in fact, there's a lot of bad stuff going on when you cross over that line to overdoing it.
Now, if I can ramble a little more, there's a great possibility that our prevailing approach to fitness today is framed by overdoing it. This struggle and suffer ethos that's permeating the fitness community and a lot of that's due to marketing forces, because they want you to feel like the girl on the Peloton ad, who's sweating and wiping her face with a towel, and then high fiving the person next to her because she just busted out another awesome workout. That's great once in a while but people have this notion that you have to get out there and suffer day after day after day, and that's what makes you a fit person. That's entirely false and if you really want to know what the elite athletes of the world that we just watched in the Olympics, what they're doing is they're taking exquisite care of their bodies.
They rest and recover like champs and then when they do an impressive workout and if you were to watch, if you go to the running track and watch them practice, wow, those guys are amazing. Look how hard they're working but they're well within themselves because they're elite athletes. So, they're working, relatively speaking, they're pushing their bodies less than the average person who's signed up for CrossFit or going over with their personal trainer for a 12 pack of sessions, having that strong tendency to overdo it, and feel exhausted, and don't feel like getting up off the couch at night or reaching for another pint of ice cream, all these are the symptoms that the fitness pursuits are extreme and unhealthy.
Melanie Avalon: Before reading your book on triathlon training, so, I didn't have many preconceived notions about training because like I said, I'm not doing this, I'm not training. But I definitely, if I did have a preconceived notion, it was that the training is very, very high intensity, struggling, suffering like super intense, and you just completely dismantle all of that, and you actually a really important point you make is that something that you just touched on is that the training schedule and life of these professional athletes is completely catering to their training and to their rest for the training. It's not like us normal everyday people who want to pursue these endeavors on top of our already hectic stressful lives, which just doesn't seem like a collaboration that can work at all.
Brad Kearns: [laughs] Exactly, it's too much. When I raced on the circuit for nine years in my triathlon career, I was asleep for half of my life. When I was a professional athlete, I slept 10 hours every single night, and every afternoon I would get a two-hour nap. If I didn't get my full nap, I was cranky, I felt like it affected my swim workout that night. I was like this finely tuned, delicate thoroughbred racehorse that had to have everything perfect in the stall, and get hosed down, and massaged down frequently, and everything was just right, so, I could go bust my butt at another difficult workout. Then you compare and contrast to the average person, who's been captivated by watching the Ironman on TV, and so they've declared they're going to go train for it, and so they squeeze in their swim workout at lunchtime racing away from the office, getting the swim coming back with a dripping hair, and having a sandwich at their desk and jumping right back into high stress lifestyle.
There're all kinds of stressors to the body. There's the physical stress of swimming laps, and then there's the psychological stress of dealing with a rugged, tough afternoon at work, and they all lead to fight or flight response, and stress hormone production, and getting out of balance because you're just trying to burn the candle at both ends.
Melanie Avalon: So, you and I have talked about this offline. So, again, I'm not an athlete but I guess it's not even really the same thing, but my thing in life that is so intense and the stress and all the activity is just my work and maybe what you call the rat race or the business side of things, and I am very type A, but I have to prioritize my sleep and I have to get, especially, in today's overcaffeinated society, where less sleep is somehow a badge of honor. I have to get my like at least nine hours. It's like I feel guilty about that or I feel like I'm a slacker that I like have to have my sleep. So, I think it's really important at least for me to reframe that, no that's actually important and I feel like maybe that's something that a lot of people might need to reframe in the athletic world as well with the sleep.
Brad Kearns: Oh, my gosh. We rejoiced when we share that with each other that we both-- Oh, really you, too? Oh, that's awesome.
Melanie Avalon: It's a secret. You sleep a lot too or you feel the need to?
Brad Kearns: Yeah. I seek out people. I usually squeeze into the conversation, "Do you take naps?" Because if I find someone who takes a nap, I'm like, "Yes. Awesome, it is okay," because you get programmed that more is better. I think, yeah, most recreational athletes would probably benefit from trading in to their early morning 6 AM spin class sessions for more sleep, especially with the prevailing goals being, "Hey, I want to reduce excess body fat, I want to look a little better, I want to feel more energy." Well, if those are the main goals of most of the fitness enthusiasts at all levels, you're going to do better with more sleep and less stress versus burning more calories.
Because we now know that burning calories during exercise, it doesn't directly contribute to fat loss in the way that we've been programmed to think that it does because we have an assortment of compensations, and we've talked about this offline too, the fascination with the compensation theory, the constraint model of energy expenditure, where if you go and burn a bunch of calories working out, you're going to regulate in assorted ways, one of them being an increase in appetite, especially if the workout was too strenuous. Then the other one being feeling more lazy throughout the day. This is both conscious and subconscious.
In other words, consciously, because I woke up and did my 6 AM spin class, I can park at the furthest-- the closest spot, I can take the elevator, I can have an extra pint of ice cream that night. We reward ourselves for being such badasses by being lazy slobs away from our workout patterns, and then the subconscious ways just turning down the energy expenditure, because you're fatigued in a post-fatigue state from doing the workouts. That's not to say there's not a lot of benefits for working out and we've spent some time talking about the overexercising phenomenon but I'll also put a plug in for the millions of people that deserve to get up off their ass and do some more general everyday movement. We could probably even talk about someone who wants to get into the category of fit and active if they're not in that category, how to do it correctly and safely and have fun, and not have it be exhausting.
Melanie Avalon: It's funny. I don't actually take naps because if I take a nap, I will be up all night. But I have to justify in my head, I'm like, "Okay." They say eight hours asleep but then some people take naps. Then I'm like, "Okay, if I'm not taking a nap, it's okay if I sleep more than eight hours because I'm not taking a nap." It's this whole just guilt justification thing. Just wanted to comment on that.
Brad Kearns: [laughs] For all you listening that feel the same way, guess what, we're all going to die someday. My feeling is I want to be at peak focus and productivity. We listen to these great leaders like Huberman is making these full shows about how to maintain your focus and trigger the right hormones. I come from the athletic background, where if you perform a lousy workout or have a lousy race, you're slapped directly in the face in a more intense and dramatic manner than perhaps any other career. I can't mail it in, or fake it, or BS my way up the corporate ladder, when we're talking about a race with a clock and seeing who comes through the fastest. I'm highly attuned to whether my efforts are going to maximum productivity or whether there's things that are slipping, and slacking, and all that stuff that we struggle with, especially in the age of distractibility.
When it comes to an afternoon and I noticed that I'm drifting away from the book manuscript and more toward the high jump videos on YouTube, that tells me that it's time for a nap. If I can take a 20-minute nap, it doesn't have to be a nap like you say, maybe you want to have a walk around the block, and go into nature, and get your eyes looking at distant objects, get your brain clear, and then you return with renewed focus and increased productivity, that is going to pay off far more than the battle axe who prides themselves on burning the midnight oil, and staying up late, and clearing out that email inbox, and all that stuff that we have glorified these days.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, exactly. For example, I was having a call the other night with a friend, who's also a business partner, and it was going pretty late, and she was really sleep deprived, and I was like, "You better sleep in tomorrow." She's like, "Okay. I guess, I can skip my early morning workout." I'm just like, "Yes." [giggles] I don't know. I feel people feel they have to show up for these-- They have to schedule this workout and then rather than be intuitive stick to this arbitrary schedule, and that's something you talk about a lot in the book is and it's a question like, how do you know intuition? What is intuition and what is not? I loved your visualization. Like you said that you would visualize the workout that you're about to do or whatever you're about to do, and if you could do it in your head and feel good you would do it, could you elaborate a little bit on that, the role of visualization?
Brad Kearns: Dang, listeners, I told you this girl would come prepared. I can't believe you pulled that out of an obscure book. It is one of my favorite things to share because I think it really works. I was just talking about-- We have our plans and our schedules and so, Tuesday is my planned 12-mile run, which is a difficult route going down to the bottom of the canyon, and climbing back out on the switchbacks, and then getting out onto the flat part, and then over to the train tracks, then back to my house. I get out of bed and I sit on the edge of the bed, and I just close my eyes, and envision myself completing this route that I'm so familiar with. As I see myself jogging down the street to warm up, and then turning right, and cutting into the canyon, and going down to the bottom, and crossing the bridge, as I see myself doing this, I either get a message of congruence that I can't wait to get out there and do it, and I'll skip, skip, skip at 1.75 speed or 2.0 speed to finish the route, and then I get my shoes on, and then I go actually do it.
But other days, the mere act of visualizing what's to come doesn't feel congruent. It feels like it's too much. I would pay close attention to these messages, and then I'd get out there, and calibrate again. After two miles of a planned 12-mile route, I could actually pause and ask myself, "Hey, would this maybe be a day to turn around and go home, and do some more stretching, and sit in the jacuzzi, and read the newspaper, and goof around?" Remember, this is my whole life was dedicated to training, so I had all these luxuries. But I think we can all apply this intuitive factor to what we have created as an extremely regimented world. Boy, the more you can throw that in when it comes to diet, when it comes to exercise, when it comes to your work patterns, or your career decisions, anything we have to slow down a bit and turn down the measuring and judging voices that are outside world thinking that we're going to be discarded from the social pack if we blow off too many morning workouts at the gym, where we have a nice social cohesion. It's really, really important to step up and be an advocate for yourself.
I've told this to many young athletes heading off to pursue glory at the collegiate level, when they're willing to listen. I'll say, "Look, listen to your own voice. I know it's an intense program, and the coach is highly regarded, and you're racing with all these other great athletes, but if you let go of your own voice and your own intuition, it is at your peril, because boy, we can easily get swept away into things that don't make us feel happy, or too stressful, or not aligned with the highest expression of our talents, and all of sudden we wake up and we're five years down the road into this unfulfilling job," because someone told us it was prestigious, and we were getting the wrong accolades from outside. So, it's got to feel right. I kind of drifted from visualizing my morning trail run to applying intuition to all areas of life.
Melanie Avalon: I've been thinking a lot about the intuition thing recently, because I was listening to an episode on Rich Roll, and they were talking about the difference between impulse versus intuition, and how to discern that. The guy he was interviewing it was guru something. I forgot his last name. I have to look it up.
Brad Kearns: Guru Singh.
Melanie Avalon: Yes, yes. Did you listen to that episode?
Brad Kearns: No. I never heard of Rich Roll but he sounds interesting.
Melanie Avalon: He was saying that the way you could tell-- and he said this was a neurological thing that has been scientifically studied. I need to like look up these studies. But they are saying, the way you could tell the difference between impulse versus intuition, with impulse being basically your biological innate response and more likely to be fight or flight just your gut reaction, but perhaps not in your best interests compared to intuition, which goes beyond that, and I'm not saying this very well, but it's something you should follow more.
Brad Kearns: That's exactly right. There's a difference between humans and animal. My dog has the instinct to chase after the squirrel even though she's exhausted after running for two hours. I'm not going to do that because I know I'm going to be sore the next day if I go chase a squirrel. We all have that animal instinct. Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover wants to mount the female that just walked by him on the streets in Las Vegas, but we have to use our intuition instead of just acting on instinct everywhere we go, otherwise we'd make fools of ourselves. I think it's just the higher-level human thinking and reasoning about what are the consequences of my actions of what I want to do right now to feel good and obtain instant gratification?
Melanie Avalon: Exactly. Thank you. What Guru Singh, is that you say his last name, Singh?
Brad Kearns: We can ask him when he gets on your show.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, perfect. [laughs] He was saying that every 72 hours, your brain state resets. If you have a reaction to something that you want to act on, and you're not sure if it's impulse or instinct, wait 72 hours. If you still want to do it 72 hours later, then it's likely intuition, not impulse. But that the impulse could actually last 72 hours.
Brad Kearns: Wow, that's cool. I like that.
Melanie Avalon: It's not a fun fact. I've already applied it since listening to that, there's something I wanted to send like an email response, and I was like, "Wait, wait 72 hours." [laughs] Really practical fun fact. One of the things I loved that you mentioned was just how actually arbitrary the setup is for things like marathons or an Ironman. You said you were contemplating because a marathon is the distance. It's why it's 26 miles between--
Brad Kearns: Athens to Marathon? Yeah. [laughs] It's so funny because the Ironman and the marathon both have been glorified and branded as the ultimate achievement in the sport of running or the sport of triathlon. If you sift through the corporate marketing, you're left with an insight that I'd like to share. A lot of people disagree, especially the hardcore endurance people think, "What are you talking about? The marathon is the most amazing ultimate performance just like the Ironman." But this stuff has been pounded into our brains is something special, but these distances are arbitrary. I think that's what you're getting at. I jumped in there but the difference from Athens to marathon was the legend of the Greek messenger, Pheidippides, who ran that distance at a great speed to announce victory to the king. As the legend goes, he said, "Rejoice, we conquer," and then he collapsed and dropped dead. The actual truth is different. It was a different messenger that dropped dead after relaying the victory after running 26 miles and Pheidippides was this amazing messenger, who ran 230 miles in three days or something, anyway.
With the Ironman, it was a bunch of drunk sailors in Hawaii sitting around and trying to brag about what was the toughest event in the islands? Was it the rough water swim in Oahu, was it the bicycle ride around Oahu, or was it the Honolulu Marathon? Someone said, "Why don't we do all three and then we'd be for sure the toughest people in the islands," and that's how the Ironman was born. But the distances are so extreme for the average person. Just like you talked about juggling all these other things is that really going to play well. It's not going to play well. For most people, they're incapable of preparing properly to actually compete in races of that distance. Basically, it becomes a survival fast. If that's what turns you on and you need that element of your life, and I'm not making light of it because it is an amazing experience to watch.
I've announced races for many years and I see the faces, the incredible emotion that comes from someone's crossing the finish line from whatever they brought to the table, and the struggles, and the tribulations, and the poor health that they had to overcome to get out there and cross the finish line. But again, if you want to pursue something that has a lot of health attributes and minimal risk to your health, why not sign up for that incredible springtime 5K run that's 3.1 miles people, and prepare properly for it to the point where you can actually feel strong and run with good form, and maybe even compete if you're competitive minded. So, you can try to pass the girl in the final 100 meters, so you can get fourth place and your division and she can get fifth or whatever is fun and exciting for you. But I don't see why the longer distances are inherently regarded more highly than someone who's very competent and capable at a shorter distance and performing more like an athlete rather than just a survivor.
Melanie Avalon: The entire sport will probably look completely different if it had been different distances or different things. Actually, you just touched on what I've written down as my first question, which was, Is there a glass ceiling or--? "What would the opposite of glass ceiling be? Is there some level that you think anybody can achieve compared to only certain people can achieve elite athleticism? What do you think goes into that?"
Brad Kearns: Oh, I'm distracted now because I'm trying to think of what's the opposite of a glass ceiling. The opposite would be an atrium, an open-air lobby, and the high rise that's open to the sky. That would be the opposite. With little rungs, you could imagine little rungs to climb on, on all sides of the atrium, so you could just keep climbing. Yeah.
Melanie Avalon: Because a glass ceiling would be the thing that people can't really be on. So, the opposite is the thing that everybody can get to and few people cannot get to.
Brad Kearns: Let's break this down.
Melanie Avalon: Let's unpack that.
Brad Kearns: Yeah, that's right. Let's do it. Finally, some practical advice to take away. Let's get some marching orders here. Number one, the first thing for someone dreaming of doing their body right and becoming athletic or fit would be, we have this critical obligation these days to get up and move around more throughout everyday life. The human is not meant to sit for long periods of time, especially in a chair. If the simple obligation to get an app, or set a timer or something, and get up every 20 minutes and move around for one minute, and it could be just doing some squats right there in your cubicle if you're too busy to walk down the hall and do 100-meter walk, and then every hour, every two hours, a longer break of five to 10 minutes. Anyone who steps up and says, "Oh, I don't have time. You have no idea how crazy it is at my workplace," we will have tremendous research supporting the idea that the brain is incapable of focusing and performing in a highly competent manner for hours on end. It requires frequent breaks any way for maximum cognitive performance. So, if you can go sync that with optimal physical health and physical performance, it just means moving around more and being fidgety. I don't know if you know of Katy Bowman's work, but I was so heartened to meet her years ago and soak up all the great messaging that she has. But she also validated me just like you validated me with my sleeping habits, because I describe my work day of fidgeting and bouncing around with my laptop, where I'm on the couch, I'm at my stand-up desk, I'm at my sit-down desk, I'm outside, I'm back on the couch, and I'm all over the place all over the house making a mess in different areas and leaving stuff in my wake. But she goes, "That's perfect, that's great. The more variation, the better." I'm like, "Yes. All right." My crazy workday is validated. That's number one is just move more frequently in everyday life.
That is now being seen by many researchers as more important than adhering to a devoted fitness regimen. Apologetic Melanie early in the show saying, you're not an athlete, you're not into this, you're not into that, if you just have an active day, where you go and walk your dog around the block, or walk to the post office, or the supermarket instead of drive, or just throw in these little tidbits like my morning routine, which I'm sure we'll get to discussing, because I'm so excited about it. I could never end a show without a plug for that. But if we can just inject some daily movement, it doesn't have to be fancy or slick. That's probably number one. Then right behind that is we have to use it or lose it. We have to put our bodies under resistance load on a regular basis to maintain muscle mass and perform very brief short duration explosive bursts of physical effort. These are what cause all the wonderful flood of adaptive hormones, the building and maintaining of lean muscle mass. Doing something that's hard, but it takes a very short duration. It doesn't have to control your life and you're a slave to the gym, like the bodybuilders who are in there two hours.
I'm talking about workouts that last anywhere from even a couple minutes is wonderful up to a maximum of 30 minutes. Because if you go in and do something that is considered hard, like a set of weights going through the weight machines at the gym or doing a classroom experience, where they're pushing you, and you're getting your heart rate up, and you're using your muscles, you don't want to do those for too long a duration, because then they will cross over that boundary line to become too stressful. What we're talking about is this minimal time commitment to do fitness right. All it is, be moving more frequently, and then doing some hard stuff on a regular basis that's very short in duration, but at the same time, very explosive, and difficult, and challenging. Whoever you are, if you're a senior citizen, if you're unfit, anyone can put their body under challenge in a short time.
For some people, guess what, that might be hustling up one flight of stairs to the point where you're huffing and puffing at the top of the stairs, and then going back down, maybe doing it two or three times. But something like that is a wonderful stimulant to the metabolic function to hormone function and the things that we're desperately missing out on in daily life. Guess who's a part of this category is the gym freak that goes in there and is devoted exclusively to cardio. We know these people, they are in the gym four days a week, they got their headphones on, they're watching CNN, and they're walking on the treadmill at a comfortable pace, and that's a whole lot better than someone who's on the couch during their spare time. But if you've never put your body under that maximum load to push yourself to the point of muscle failure, you're missing out on a huge swath of the total fitness benefit potential.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, so, I guess, if you can analyze what I do, like you said, I'm not doing the crazy training. The longest I ever really sit without moving is when I'm doing shows like right now. But beyond that, I like you were saying how you move all around, and different positions, and that's what I tend to do. Then I am fasted all day. All of my "energy" is coming from the fasted state. But I think I told you this before, but I wear weights during the day on my arms. When I go grocery shopping, because I have to go grocery shopping every single day. I cannot not go to the grocery store. It's the hunter gatherer in me. I have to go to get the food. I don't use carts or anything like that. I always carry bags, I wear the weights, and it's always very, very heavy because I only drink water from glass water bottles, and I buy pounds and pounds of fruit and cucumbers every day. It's a lot of carrying heavy things.
Then I as far as the brief intense workout or movement, I tend to-- Oh, my, this is so embarrassing if people could see me. I like to play certain Taylor Swift songs and dance around my apartment occasionally. [laughs] It was like a break in the cryotherapy and sauna every day. It's lot of random stuff. I do go to the gym occasionally and walk on the treadmill, but usually that's just if I need to read a book. I'd rather read it walking than on the couch. So, that's usually how it pans out. But even with all of that, I get this guilt, I'm like, "Oh, I should be doing a workout."
Brad Kearns: Yeah. Where the heck's that coming from? I guess that fitness culture and the corporate marketing machines telling us that all manner of nonsense that they've been permeating for 50, 60 years since fitness exploded with Jane Fonda. I like how Jane Fonda recently is second guessing a lot of the moves in her original workout videos as being too dangerous. I think she's had some joint problems or something, and it's like, "Oh, okay. Well, thanks for telling us now." But yeah, you sounds like an active lifestyle and a number of hormetic stressors thrown in there, which I have a similar effect on the body as going and doing a high intensity workout. But I'd say for anyone who's missing that checkpoint of putting your muscles under resistance load and doing something explosive, the cool thing is, in minutes, minutes of exercise per week, you can have an incredible fitness breakthrough and health benefits. As long as it's something that's really super challenging and it takes you to another place from your comfort zone.
My friend, Doug McGuff, who's your neighbor, he's in South Carolina. He wrote a book many years ago called Body by Science, it's still super popular, selling well, and he talks about how a workout system that is 12 minutes in duration per week. It's one workout per week, where he does five compound movements. The difficult full body movements like leg press or overhead press, things like that. One single set to failure once a week is sufficient to promote muscle growth. Again, you're going each set to failure. You're pushing your muscles all the way on that leg press until you can't do another leg press, and then you recover for a week and come back and do it. It's ridiculously simple and short in time commitment but there's great research throughout the book that this is how the body and the muscles are stimulated to get strong and stay strong.
For anti-aging and for the people in these categories, where the number one cause of injury and death in Americans over age 65 is falling and of course related consequences from the fall, you break your hip, then you're bedridden, then you get pneumonia, then you die. It's so sad that it can be really easily corrected if we just maintain muscle strength throughout life instead of have this drifting, steady decline into sarcopenia. That's the loss of muscle mass that causes so many metabolic and health problems, and it effects your organ function, and everything is just like your hand on this dial, and you're turning it down from 10 at your peak, and then you're nine and then you're eight, and then you're seven, and all you need to do is go in there, and do something simple. I'll send you a set of stretch cords that you hang from a doorknob or a pull up bar, and you pull the stretch tubing to its extension, and then retract it. It's super difficult. It takes 30 seconds to get yourself super winded. You'll work an assortment of muscles and it's nothing to disturb your daily routine.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, actually, appropriate timing, the episode that's releasing this week-- on this show and by this week with us recording is with John Jaquish for his X3 system, which is similar minimum time investment, maximum results.
Brad Kearns: I love John. He's so brilliant and cutting-edge guy, super controversial, and he's got so many detractors, and they're going back and forth on social media, because here's this guy with this incredibly fit body, and his workout system is 10 minutes a day, six days a week, and it's like, "That's ridiculous." He must be working out in secret. I've known him. I've visited his factory. I've talked to him at length about his workout system and I've used the X3 bar for three years now. The only thing I'll say, my only critique of it is it so difficult to manage his workout routine as he describes that, it makes me tired to do a 10-minute workout. I don't do it the six days a week that he prescribes because I do other stuff like sprinting and high jumping but it is the real deal and it's incredibly effective to just put your muscles under that maximum resistance load with his variable resistance training concept and boy, you will have amazing breakthroughs in a really short time.
The cool thing is going back to the start, when you asked your question, anyone wherever you're starting, at whatever strength you have right now, you can get into the mix, become a strength training fitness enthusiast, and start making gains and building or preserving that lean muscle mass.
Melanie Avalon: So, what is your morning routine that you mentioned?
Brad Kearns: Oh, my gosh. Here I am, this lifelong athlete, I have these wonderful goals that I enjoy so much. I play speed golf. We'll talk about that. My high jumping, my sprinting, and I will say before I even answer, I've evolved from this extreme endurance athlete in my youth, where I was training all day long and racing at the professional level. Now, I would call myself an explosive power athlete. My main fitness goals are sprinting and high jumping. It's distinctly different. It's completely 360-degree different or would it be 180. 180 different than being a triathlete and being obsessed with endurance. So, my favorite sport now high jump, my event literally lasts for one second rather than two hours as I did when I was a triathlete. I'm jumping up in the air, you land in the pit in one second, and hopefully you did everything right. So, you can have a good jump.
Melanie Avalon: You're going vertical instead of horizontal. It's literally the exact opposite.
Brad Kearns: Yeah. It's wonderful to be have gone through this whole journey. Now, realizing that my fitness goals, I'm mainly trying to impress myself and my YouTube followers, I guess. I'm not out there on television and racing for the prize purse and all these things that made the triathlon experience seem so dramatic. But I still have that same competitive intensity and that tremendous passion to perform and compete to the best of my ability today. I think that's what I stand for. You can see it on my website, it says, "Pursue peak performance with passion throughout life," I think is my tagline that I chose. Because I think it's really important to maintain that competitive edge and that excitement to where you get up every day and you have something that you're pursuing in terms of a competitive goal. It doesn't have to be athletic as you relate. You have your other goals and there's something that gets you up, and gets you to prepare for these shows, and do your best, and go out there and compete in a competitive environment, but we got to have that magic going. I feel the athletic experience can be leveraged into all other areas of life if you have that going for you and you have fitness goals. So, I place great importance on that.
The morning routine came about because what would happen would be, I do these really difficult and challenging sprinting and jumping workouts. You can only do them about once a week, especially at my age, and then the rest of the time you're doing easier workouts, you're doing a different type of workout, maybe actually lifting weights rather than running fast, and you're balancing everything out, so you can rest and recover. But what was happening was, after these super awesome sprint workouts, go out to the track, and I'd feel pumped up, and I do great, and everything was fine. Then the next day, I'd wake up, and I could barely walk as my calves were so sore, or then maybe 36 hours later, I'd feel like crashing and burning for a nap that was not so much healthy, but more of an exhaustion nap like, "Oh, my gosh, what's going on here?" So, I wasn't recovering and adapting very well to these workouts.
The reason was because I didn't approximate it in daily life. I would rest a week, and then I'd go sprint, and do these crazy jumping things, and then rest a week and recover, and wait till my calves weren't sore. I thought, "What if I could do something that scratched the itch every day just a little bit of preparation, where I'm challenging my muscles, and I'm building their flexibility, mobility, resiliency to raise the platform from which I launch all formal workouts?" I started this thing just laying in bed. This is almost five years ago now. I started my morning routine. It was ridiculously easy and simple. At first, it took under 10 minutes, and I just swing my leg side to side, and then do a couple basic stretches, maybe some core exercise, and then what happened was I started to realize that it was a nice way to frame my day. Especially first thing in the morning, it directly contradicted what 84% of Americans do as soon as they wake up, do you know what that is, Melanie? They do the same thing.
Melanie Avalon: Check their phone.
Brad Kearns: They reach for their mobile device as their very first act upon awakening. There's a psychologist I quoted, her last name is Benders-Hadi, I think, and she said, "Once you reach for the phone and you switch your brain over into reactive mode and start flooding those dopamine pathways, you'll never recover." In other words, now you're in reactive mode and it's very, very difficult to extricate from that reactive dopamine triggering mode back into the desirable state that we start our day in which would be high-level thinking, reasoning, strategic planning, calmness, mindfulness, gratitude, all the great stuff that we talk about starting our day. But not when you reach for that phone, because boom, all of a sudden you're in the social media, text messaging, ding, ding, ding, instant gratification. So, instead of reaching for my phone, I drop to the floor and start to progress through my sequence. It's been a wonderful, life changing experience for me because it's made me more focused, and disciplined, and resilient against all other forms of distraction and stress in daily life.
Now, at least, no matter what I do with my day, and how flaky I am with my YouTube videos, instead of working on my book, I know that I start my day with something that started out modest, and now, I have to say, it's become pretty badass. It's a very involved, prolonged morning session. It started with under 10 minutes, and now it's a minimum of 41 minutes and sometimes I add on some more stuff to make it roll right into an actual workout. But every single day, it's the same exact thing. I think that's an important attribute of it, where it's an exercise and meditation because all I'm doing is counting through the sequences of each move that I do. I don't have to use creative energy or willpower to make up something exciting to do today. I know that I'm doing 40 hamstring raises, 20 frog legs, 25 of these into 15 of those into holding this position for one minute into 20 leg swings in each direction, blah, blah, blah, and I go on through the routine, and it's just like I'm on autopilot.
The more we can stack our day with those kinds of behaviors, the better that our whole life gets, because then we don't fall victim to this constant distractibility and hyperconnectivity. You mentioned that you walk to the grocery store every day, so, that's locked in, that's part of your day, and there's an opportunity cost if you don't do it, you're going to have all kinds of ways to fritter around and eat crappy food because you're too lazy. You did DoorDash instead, and so in my fitness example, if I can complete this routine every single day, then I've knocked off some obligation to move more throughout the day. I know that my day starts with movement and then for me, really important to is when I head out to the track, now my hamstrings have had their work done every single day for the last five years without missing a day. They're much stronger and more resilient than if I was just showing up there coming out of office boy working the previous six days and doing this or that workout, but nothing to approximate the challenge of the hard workouts.
Melanie Avalon: You have a YouTube video on this correct on your morning routine?
Brad Kearns: Yeah. You can go look at-- if you type in Brad Kearns Morning Routine, you'll see the first one where I was in bed and then I never realized for a while that anything you do with core exercise, if you sink into a mattress, it's way easier than doing the scissor kicks on the ground. I finally got my butt out of bed and then you'll see there was one I filmed in 2020, where the degree of difficulty escalated so much. If you're busy, you can watch the whole thing in fast motion. It's 52 seconds, I show the sequence of exercises that I do. But even since then, what I do is I carefully assess something new and cool, whether it's something that I might want to add to the routine. I actually audition it, you're familiar with auditioning from your acting career. So, I'll audition the ab roller, the little wheel that you roll back and forth, and if I like it, I will make the formal proclamation that this is now going into the routine. When I do that, I take it very seriously because remember, I make a commitment to do this every single day no matter what and I haven't missed a single day.
Now, I'm proud of it, I can talk about it in public, and it keeps me accountable. It's very deliberate and methodical because what you want to do is land in this sweet spot where the routine is doable and sustainable. I'm not here touting that everyone should start their day with a 40-minute chunk of time that they're all of a sudden taking away from getting the kids up, getting them breakfast, and getting them off to school, or whatever you're doing with your morning routine. But if you have five minutes to spare right now and I'm not kidding, if you only have five minutes, and you can turn those five minutes into-- Hey, here are the nine basic exercises of the yoga Sun salute. Why don't you do those every single morning? I feel it'll have a fantastic effect on your psychological resiliency, and your goal setting, your prioritization skills, all that stuff. Besides the physical benefits of getting up and moving first thing in the morning, it's literally better than caffeine, especially if you can do it outdoors. I'm always doing this outdoors, regardless of whether it's snowing, or raining, or whatever. I might get a cold exposure element to it as well if it's cold out there, but it's just something to do. That's a way better than reaching for the phone on so many different levels.
Melanie Avalon: So, for listeners, we will put a link to those videos in the show notes. Again, the show notes will be at melanieavalon.com/bradkearns. I guess, my morning routine is, since I do my one meal a day, eat late at night, all the dishes are done, like, washed the night before. The first thing I do every morning or afternoon, is late morning, I put on weights, play music, and dance around while cleaning up the kitchen.
Brad Kearns: Look what you made me do. Look what you made me. Dat, da, da, daa. [singing tone]
Melanie Avalon: Oh, that's often featured. Yep. I use a really heavy-- Okay. This is really silly. It might sound like it doesn't make a big deal. For my bowls, instead of using a normal bowl, I use cast iron because it's really heavy. I found that changing out my dishware to cast iron is a little miniature BB workout when you're moving it around constantly. Getting up-- I don't know. I've actually noticed a difference using it. That stuff is heavy.
Brad Kearns: Wait, are you talking about your cooking ware or your bowls to eat out of?
Melanie Avalon: My bowls to eat out of.
Brad Kearns: They have cast iron bowls?
Melanie Avalon: What is the brand? Le Creuset. I have all of their Dutch oven cast iron things, but then they have a little miniature cast iron. You are not supposed to be eating out of them. There are to hold food. I use them as bowls because when I'm eating, I'm constantly getting up and refilling the bowl because I eat so much produce and stuff. It works well. Here's a little counter, not counterpoint. Let's use a phrase. To play devil's advocate, the concepts that you were talking about entering that reactive state in the morning, what do you think about the idea that evolutionarily and biologically, we naturally do have a cortisol spike once we wake up? Wouldn't that say that that's what we're naturally meant to do?
Brad Kearns: Oh, for sure. We want to leverage that natural and desirable spike in cortisol, and serotonin, and the drop in adenosine. That's the sleepiness factor that caffeine works so well on. Caffeine blocks adenosine, and that's why it gives you that feeling of alertness. Naturally in the morning cued by sunlight, especially that's why it's so good to get outside and expose your eyeballs to direct sunlight. I'm not saying staring in the Sun, and I'm not saying it even needs to be sunny, but if you can get outdoors first thing in the morning, this will optimize the hormonal response to sunlight and give you that natural increase in energy. Yeah, even if you just walk the dogs slowly, as our dogs get older, I know how that goes, man. My dog used to be charging ahead of me. Now, I'm like, "Come on, let's go." Already, she's 14 years old, she's still going strong. But if you can just get outdoors, you are leveraging the powerful effects of circadian rhythm to wake up and feel alert and energized. Much better than staring at a screen. I think that is what you're getting at. Yeah, it's good to have that cortisol spike in the morning but it's best happening when you get outdoors.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I guess, there's a psychological aspect to it. We could have that cortisol spike naturally, biologically like we just talked about. But when you add on the layer of cortisol spiking from something psychological, like, checking your emails, I guess, it adds a different layer to it that is not natural or healthy necessarily. I love this little fun fact that I learned. Do you know why seeing a notification that you have an email or something is actually inherently very stressful or a notification on Facebook that you have notifications?
Brad Kearns: Hmm. Tell me.
Melanie Avalon: They say and I don't remember who they are. It was probably Rich Roll podcast again. They say, it's because evolutionarily and hunter gatherer days, a notification would be the equivalent of hearing a sound behind you or a tap on the back. There's something there, but you don't know if it's a threat or you don't know what it is. When we see this notification, it's this innate impulse response of like, "Oh, there's something there. I don't know if it's a threat or I don't know if it's a good thing." It's activating that every time you're seeing that you have 10 notifications or an email. I guess the difference would be waking up without that just not normal cortisol, waking up with cortisol to face your day compared to waking up because a lion is potentially in your face.
Brad Kearns: Yeah. I'm going to say that probably, there's not very many of us that need to get a little more jacked up in daily life with fight or flight type of stressors. Most people are prolonging that throughout the day. That's an interesting concept that if you're groggy when you wake up, and lazy, and unmotivated reaching for your phone, it can give you a little juice. Because you're going to get that-- Tristan Harris, the director of the Center for Humane Technology calls it, "intermittent variable rewards," which provides the biggest dopamine spike of anything because you don't know what's going to be. The number one example of this and why slot machines are so addictive is because that's what they provide intermittent variable rewards. You may win a jackpot at any time when you pull that arm, but you have no idea what's going to happen. You're riveted by the uncertainty of the input of the feedback. That's the same thing with social media stream, it's always new and exciting. Same with a ding of a text message. You don't know who it's from or what it's about yet versus going straight in and saying, "Here's Brad Kearns 10 tips for a healthy life." That's the title of the email. It's not as exciting as guess what's coming, you don't know. But that's, I guess, some interesting little tidbits.
In the case of Tristan Harris' work and the Center for Humane Technology, we're talking about guarding against this constant addiction to the intermittent variable rewards provided by social media. You and I both had great conversations with Dr. Robert Lustig talking about his new book, Metabolical. But also, I was just captivated by his previous book called The Hacking of the American Mind. He's talking about how these modern often corporate driven forces are basically hijacking the dopamine pathways in our brain and flooding them with this instant gratification from many different avenues. A lot of them from profit seeking enterprises and these come at the expense of the serotonin pathways in the brain. So, basically what we're doing is we're getting bombed with instant gratification at the expense of the sense of living a rich and meaningful and satisfying life, which comes largely through persevering through difficult challenges that you've trained very hard to be competent at to solve the problem and make a contribution to the planet.
It can be the difference between scrolling through social media or writing a book that people buy and enjoy, or preparing other content or whatever your great contribution is that really makes you feel satisfied that you worked hard and you did a good job. It's interesting thing to think about because we're so vulnerable to these, because as you describe back to that ancestral example of, we're wired to seek novel stimulation and be highly attuned to that, rather than to plug away on a manuscript. It's much more exciting to see the new video from the TrackMate that happened in Europe last week.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I do engage in that pattern all the time. When I see emails coming in, especially if I see an email and it's from somebody I know who it's from, but I don't know what it says yet, that's the excitement. Not knowing what it's going to say even if I now. Oh, that is so fascinating. I'm going to start noticing that in [giggles] myself.
Brad Kearns: [laughs] Yeah. The big picture that Lustig offered was like, "Hey, here's our main avenues." Hyperconnectivity, digital technology, social media, junk food, street drugs, prescription drugs, video games, pornography, the list goes on and on. The latter two, our friend, John Gray, the great relationship author, he has grave concerns for today's young male because the combination of video games and porn satisfies the deepest biological drives of the young male which are to compete, and control, and dominate one's environment and to seek a mate. If you can get both of those from hanging out in grandma's basement, and not even having to engage in the real world anymore to deal with a relationship drama or career difficulties, you can just crush people at the video game every night. You're basically going to choose out and just be flooded with dopamine forevermore.
For me, and people in my age group who had half of life before we had any internet or especially mobile technology, I can remember back to those days where everything was slowed down, and you had to entertain yourself as a kid playing outside, or even in recent times, when I'd sit down with a good book and read it over the course of a weekend, and I never do that anymore because I have too many awesome YouTube videos to watch or too much work to do, because we can be so productive now on so many levels. We've turned into these robots that are constantly tempted by instant gratification and consumption, rather than contribution. I'm trying to think of that myself and I'm sure you're in that same frame of mind as a content contributor that like, "Gee." We can listen to podcasts all day, and I've listened to tons of them. That's why I put it on 2.0 speed. But it's far more rewarding as well as more challenging, and more stressful, and difficult, and frustrating, but far more rewarding to put out my own content, rather than just to consume content all day long or even worse, be a critic and just rag on people all day long, and sit back and wait till someone else is entertaining me and flooding my dopamine pathways.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, that was something else I was reading about was that basically, in today's society, we can put our brain into a state where we constantly have information coming in 24/7, and that's not something our brains are, well, they didn't evolve. That's not the way it used to be before technology, and podcasts, and interviews, and radio, and being able to listen, and consume content 24/7. There were naturally times where the brain just was not taking in that information, and that we needed those times for the health of our brain. I struggle with feeling, like, I have to be productive 24/7, I need to be taking in information 24/7. I don't know if it's an addiction but actually, that was a question I had for you was, because in the world of addiction, people often say that they're not addicted to anything but they're addicted to exercise. So, that's a healthy addiction. Do you think exercise addiction is a thing, do you think if so, healthy or unhealthy? If somebody is getting their dopamine fix from exercise or extreme athleticism, what are your thoughts on that?
Brad Kearns: Wow. That's a heavy question, girl. It's really one that we all should reflect upon a lot. I have this personal notion that I don't want to be addicted or attached extremely to anything. The Buddhism ideal that attachment leads to suffering is something that we can probably all acknowledge. The truly most evolved people, I've had this guy, Dave Rossi on my podcast five times. He's a friend and he's really spiritual guy that came from the rat race, Silicon Valley, very successful, wealthy businessman, and then he lost everything. His story is quite incredible because he's walking his talk profoundly. He has this book called The Imperative Habit. You can find it on Amazon. He's just talking about living a really spiritual life, and being in acceptance, and not buying into these rat race ideals. Boy, right now, it's something that we all should spend a lot of time thinking about because there are people that are vying for our addictive dollar, and I don't think that exercise addiction is healthy. I think it's prevalent and, it causes a lot of pain, and suffering, and physical injuries from people that are working out too much.
But of course, if you're looking at a hierarchy and I know in the triathlon scene, a lot of a fair number of people that I came across came from the world of drug addiction, because it's the same personality behind it, and they need a vehicle for that addictive type behavior. Certainly, it's way better to channel it into something athletic than hanging out under the bridge downtown like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. But if we can continue to strive and to try to improve ourselves, I think it's a really nice idea to what would you do, like, reflect on things that you might feel you're overly attached to, and then challenge yourself and see if, "Gee, can I go out and enjoy a night on the town and drink a little too much with my high school friends that are back in town? Can I let loose a little bit if I'm a really tightly wound, highly enthusiastic, healthy liver?" Boy, we go to Paleo f(x), where you're walking around. There's 3,000 people, and all of them are really pretty hardcore into the Paleo scene in that group. Can there be some unhealthy attachment to some of the health practices? The answer is yes. The term 'orthorexia' is being bantered about now, which is an unhealthy fixation on eating the correct foods to the extent that your inability to secure the perfect meal causes you stress.
If you're traveling and you don't find the menu to your liking, does it stress you out and bring negative energy into your life or can you go with the flow and say, "Okay, fine. I'll just have this today. Because I know that tomorrow was always an opportunity to turn it around?" Or, can you miss a workout and say, "Well, it sure was fun to go see my nephew play three soccer games, even though I miss my own workout, and be in that healthy balanced state." It's something to strive for because I know anyone in that category of type A highly motivated goal-oriented driven person, these are a lot of things that we consider strengths that get you out of bed on time and kicking butt and doing things, but if they fall out of balance and I described that at the start of the show, when I talked about this kid in college, who was willing to win and wanted to be the champion runner more than anything, those things really took me down because I didn't regulate them carefully enough.
Melanie Avalon: I really wonder what the stats are on extreme athletes and history of you are mentioning having prior addictions and it's really interesting because you've mentioned the type A type people, I feel there's this addictive personality type that often is that type A type person, and that it can fall into-- It's just a matter of, I guess, what addiction personally resonates with you and it just so happens to be that work addiction is rewarded by society as is athletic addiction, whereas other ones aren't really like drugs, or gaming, or things like that. So, it's really interesting to ponder.
Brad Kearns: Yeah. I had a food addiction expert on my podcast, Dr. Joan Ifland from Stanford. I can't believe her name just flowed off my tongue like that. But she had these 11 signs of whether you're addicted or not, and its unintended use, unable to cut back, more time spent on it than you thought you might, have cravings for it or anything you might describe. Not able to fulfill other roles sufficiently, because of your-- You had to get your workout in. So, you're late to the church, and everyone was waiting on you or whatever. Sometimes, the use is hazardous. You engage in spite of knowing better, and oops, I want to stop on number nine for a second when you talk about exercise addiction because there's a lot of people that alarm goes off for that 6 AM spin class, even though their knee is sore, even though they're exhausted, even though they stayed up late, and they get their butts to the gym. If we were driving in the car with them and asking them as their conscious going, "What the hell are you doing up so early when you really didn't get enough sleep and why you're going when your physical body is not ready to absorb and benefit from the workout that you're about to do?" The answer might be, "I don't know. Everyone's going to be there. I don't want to miss it." In spite of knowing better you still engage. If you answer yes to number nine, watch out.
The number 10 is doing more than an increasing amount of use to get that same exercise high and I think addictive high, but I'm talking to the exercisers right now more so than the drug users. That's not my area of expertise. But these 11 signs go for anything that you think you might be addicted to if you're increasing more than before, and then if you're doing it for reasons other than in the case of this is Dr. Ifland's list. So, she says, if you're eating for reasons other than hunger and oh, boy, if you're addicted to eating in some way, whether it's eating healthy or whatever, a lot of times that comes into play. We're doing it for reasons other than hunger. I guess I might have this notepad I just found, this little sticky note is right next to my amazing stash of dark chocolate. As I finish reading the 11, I'm like, "Oh, my gosh." So, number 11, eating for reasons other than hunger. Oh, my gosh, yeah, I'm eating this dark chocolate because I'm the biggest connoisseur and I like to try the different brands. I'm not hungry. I'm just going for another square of the Hawaiian stuff I just ordered directly shipped over from the Big Island.
Melanie Avalon: I was wondering if that was off of memory. You have that post it note of that list?
Brad Kearns: Yeah, that's a post it note. Yeah. I don't think I can bust out because I get too much hyperstimulation to remember a list of 11 things.
Melanie Avalon: Was withdrawal on that list?
Brad Kearns: Hazardous use. I think these are more on the signs of whether or not you're addicted, and you ask yourself these 11 questions. So, it's pretty interesting. Yeah.
Melanie Avalon: Something you've mentioned in your book was ironman blues, and I was wondering if there's a withdrawal aspect, sometimes, to people with extreme athletic endeavors.
Brad Kearns: Yeah. I think there's a withdrawal for anybody who's achieved an incredible goal. A lot of times the liquidity event people talk about this in an entrepreneurial world or the corporate world, where they work, work, work, they take their company public, and the IPO comes, they're richer beyond their wildest dreams, and then they fall into a state of depression, and apathy, and things because they were so obsessed with these goals. Then once you're here, it's like, now what? It is kind of empty, sinking feeling. Now, I had a lot of frailties and inadequacies, but I've never really suffered from that. I'm glad because it really sounds like a terrible thing to just feel empty and hollow after achieving a big goal. I think it's really important to thread that needle and find that sweet spot, where you can celebrate your successes but you also have this sense that, well now I'm going to pursue something else.
There's always something more that you can do, something better. Even if you have enough money to be on the ranking list like Bill Gates, he turned his attention to becoming the world's number one philanthropists or many other people, who do great things with their wealth rather than sit around and just become non-contributors to society. I like keeping a balance where you don't get too consumed with success and revelry, but you also aren't this robot that can never take a breather and celebrate your success and appreciate it. That's why I'm so focused on the journey because along that journey, you have some success, you can celebrate the heck out of it, and feel great, and feel accomplished, and proud in all these great things. Don't get too stuck on yourself because there's always more to do and more life to live. That's my tagline. Again, pursue peak performance with passion throughout life. A lot of athletes err here, where they had their day, they had their heyday, and then the rest of their life is spent watching others perform on TV and tell stories about how great they were back when.
Melanie Avalon: I think this is something else we're similar with because I think about this all the time, and I thought it was just-- Well, I thought it was maybe just me but then I heard Joe Rogan was interviewing Dr. Anna Lembke. I have to learn how to say her name because I'm going to interview her for her book Dopamine Nation about addiction, Lembke at Stanford, I think. They were talking about this concept and it's what you just talked about of having goals and achieving them, and then feeling hollow or it didn't deliver the happiness that you thought it would. My personal experience with that because I'm very goal driven. I think goals will make me happy, and they do, and they usually pretty much make me just as happy as I think they will, and the happiness usually stays. I feel like that shouldn't be the case because there's this idea of like, "Oh, nothing will actually make you as happy as you think." I think it might have to do with, I guess, where you're coming from, "Are you pursuing goals because they're going to make you happy and you're not happy without them or are you very much content with your life as it is?" It's a journey like you said and these goals are things that will just contribute to that and expand. The Joe Rogan moment, it made me so happy because she was asking him, she was like, "These things that you pursue, do they make you happy?" He was like, "Yes." She was something to the effect of, "Do they ever not make you as happy as you think?" He was like, "No." I was like, "Okay," and she was like, "Really?" So, me, you, and Joe, maybe, I'm very, very fascinated by this concept, though of happiness and goals, and what does that mean, and the journey, and I love life.
Brad Kearns: Yeah, me too. Because I think we've possibly been on all sides of that, where you get too obsessed with the goal, you fail or you achieve it, and you have difficulty recalibrating. I think one of the benefits of getting older and going through whatever it is, the struggles and failures as well as the high points is, I like the act of getting over myself and realizing that it's not the end all win or lose. Boy, it takes some focus and discipline because I think society pushes us in the unhealthy direction. I think the mere act of pursuing a goal is where almost all the magic is. In other words, because you're going for it and you really enjoy it, it does feel good when you get there, but we also have to look back and admit that every day was a rich experience lacking that, then you have a life that lacks purpose. That's a really tough one and that's another thing that comes from consuming too much instead of contributing.
Melanie Avalon: I think you could dismantle the whole concept of failure, because the way I see it is you didn't fail, you just haven't achieved it yet. You can always just still be on the journey. The only failure would be If you'd just end it completely.
Brad Kearns: Yeah. I'm about to talk to this group of college kids. I'm taking some notes later this week. I feel there's a little bit of this vibe going on these days, where we fill our brains up with positive affirmations, we listen to the right podcasts or get Tony Robbins up the wazoo, and then we go out there. We don't take no for an answer and we keep calling the law firm to get a summer internship, and we never give up even though they said they're full. There's a lot of this disengagement from reality and from the value of lifting up the bricks, and making a wall, and putting the cement between the bricks and all these things. We want to skip over to it and we want to start a startup and take it public in the next 18 months based on pure hubris rather than the right values and ideals. I'm especially going to warn young people against that, because now we're in this age where it's the Instagram culture, everybody's glorifying whatever it is wealth, or success, or popularity, rather than just plugging away. So, we definitely don't want to be in that realm either.
Melanie Avalon: That's a really great nuance. I guess, having a certainty that everything needs to manifest at an exact way that your current present ego thinks it needs to manifest not being open to things changing and adjusting accordingly.
Brad Kearns: Well, yeah. That's what I was going to say. I blank for a second because our conversation is so riveting and fast moving. You know Luke Storey Life Stylist Podcast?
Melanie Avalon: I know him. I haven't listened to it but I know his name if that counts.
Brad Kearns: You guys would connect wonderfully. He's a true biohacker at the same level. He's all over this stuff. You guys should connect. I'll introduce you. But he explained this concept of manifesting really well. It helped bring a lot of clarity when I was trying to challenge him a little bit on like, "What is this baloney?" Some people are really resistant to it because it's like, "Oh, I'm going to manifest a guy with little bit of a beard growth, and he drives a Ferrari, and he flies private, and he wears a lot of blues and grays, and he's really nice, and he has cool sunglasses." A lot of people discount this whole game and this whole spiritual psychology realm. But he said, "Look, here's how it works. It is first you have to operate from a position of gratitude for where you are now." If you're trying to manifest shit into your life, because it'll make you happy or you're coming from a point of jealousy and you want to manifest a bigger house, because you're tired of your shithole apartment, it's never going to work, you're going to get cut off from the force, and instead the way we want to look at this is you're always coming from a position of gratitude and abundance, and seeing what you can contribute to the world.
By the way, when you operate from that stance, then you can call in whatever it is the extra wealth that you need to expand your podcast by adding another zero to the listenership and all these wonderful things that people talk about and can easily turn off people who are struggling through the day-to-day realm. But if we can all take that, that important takeaway point that if you're in a position of gratitude and abundance right now, then you can sit back and say, "Okay, what do I want the next 12 months to look like or the next five years to look like, and really plot a course where anything's possible?" All these wonderful aphorisms can come true in your own life, rather than you immediately triggering over into a negative reactionary comment when you hear people talking about manifesting the dude with the beard growth and the private jet.
Melanie Avalon: I'd love to hear your reflections, and your experience, and your thoughts on two key moments in your triathlon career that you talk about in your book. The first one was when you won the, was it the Desert Princess champion or triathlon without even realizing?
Brad Kearns: [laughs] I didn't even realize it till people were screaming at me and they put a tape up at the finish line. Yeah, that's a good transition because what we're talking about now with this enjoyment and appreciation of the journey, and not being overly fixated with result, and not being attached to the outcome, this pretty much represents the young guy, Brad Kearns, who quit the accounting firm. I was miserable at my new career. I graduated college, I took the accounting courses, I got hired by the world's largest accounting firm. I went from the beach life at UC Santa Barbara, and all of a sudden I was wearing a suit and tie and commuting an hour and 15 minutes every day in rush hour traffic in Los Angeles to work for this big accounting firm. It wasn't my calling, it wasn't my destiny. I was just thrown their spit out of the campus, the beach community into the rat race.
My intuition was telling me that, this wasn't my deal. I lasted 11 and a half weeks, and then I quit, and announced my intention to become a professional triathlete. I remember my exit interview, the guy snickered when I told him what I was moving on to. He thought I was getting headhunted by one of the clients. I'm like, "No, I'm going to be a pro triathlete." He's like, "Oh, good luck with that." He says, "You know what, you can always have your job back." I thought that was so warm and supportive, and then I realized the reason he said is because they'd spent half that time just training me. So, they'd spent all this money on this young accountant, and now he was quitting to be a triathlete. So, it wasn't all just high minded and charitable. But anyway, the fact that I was able to depart from the high rise and go out there and do something that I absolutely loved.
Every single day, I was just training, and going to the races, and competing, and my childhood dream is that athlete just to be out there and actually call myself a pro athlete, and mixing it up in this brand-new sport. Now, the thing was, the economic prospects were almost nothing. It was very young sport and only a few guys were making any money. I was going around delivering pizzas at night to try to make ends meet. I was crashing with my parents, but I was so happy to be following my purpose and doing what I love to do every day that I wasn't worried about those outside factors nor was I terribly concerned with how I stacked up against the great professionals of the world because I was so far behind them that it wasn't even a big concern. All I was concerned with was personal improvement, and personal growth, and self-satisfaction of doing something that I love to do. I'd go to the races and I'd scraped together a plane ticket, and I'd go get 17th, or 21st, or 19th, or I'd go to a little race somewhere and I'd get fourth and I'd be all excited. It was just this journey that was pure motivation and just pure joy for waking up every day, and having the privilege and the ability to go and ride my bike around. I wasn't terribly concerned with my long-term plan. I didn't have my five-year plan or even my five-month plan very carefully plotted out because I was pretty much running out of money, and just making ends meet, and doing this youthful, exuberant experience.
Then something happened at the last race of the season. This was a big showdown race, the Desert Princess as you named it, and the two top guys in the world were facing each other for the first time. It was the number one ranked triathlete and the number one ranked duathlete in the world. It was a big media event because they pitted these two guys together. No one knew who was going to win, and it was super exciting for me just to be part of the event, and be on the same starting line as my heroes who were on the magazine covers, and doing all these wonderful things. Meanwhile, without my noticing, I was getting fitter and fitter with my carefree approach. I'd go and pick off a 7th instead of a 19th or I'd come only one minute behind the best guys, even though it was a tight race, and I saw these symptoms or these signs that I was actually improving as an athlete and working my way up to world class potential.
Then I had this amazing breakthrough race down in the desert in Palm Springs, where I upset all the top guys and won the race out of nowhere. No one knew who I was, I didn't have any clothes on, I didn't have a shirt with sponsors. I was just coming across the line with my skin as my sponsor, and I've got enveloped by the media when I crossed the line, and they asked me two questions. Number one, "What's your name?" Number two, "Did you complete the entire course?" [laughs] Then I'm like, "Yes, I did. FU for asking that." But this one event, thrusts me from happy, carefree, go lucky anonymous person to a prominent name, who had just performed what some people call the greatest upset of all time, because I was so obscure, and these are the number one guys on the planet, and it will never happen again, because now the sport is so sophisticated. You're not going to see the Olympic champion get defeated by some joker, who's living with mom and dad in Los Angeles, and riding his bike around all day. But for me, it was a great breakthrough, and I referenced it now since you've asked because it was a testament to having this pure motivation and this carefree attitude, where I was purely focused on the process, and not in any way attached to the outcome.
By being in that mindset, that allowed me to stand in my center of power and be the best that I could be, and really take good care of my body, and not abuse my body with pushing myself too hard in pursuit of, let's say, material goals, or answering to the pressure and the expectation of being a professional. Of course, those things definitely came up over the ensuing nine years, where I got tossed around, and I overdid it, or made mistakes, or had business difficulties with sponsors and trying to blend the various challenges and obligations that you have, maybe racing too frequently and getting tired, and all that stuff that you can see from a pro-tennis, or golfer, or individual sport athlete has to navigate. But for that experience, boy, there was nothing like it. I'll never forget it nor will the guys that got their butts kicked by a nobody, but it does bring a good moral to the story that if you're really passionate about what you do, and just focused on the process, and focused on personal improvement you can be the best that you can be.
Melanie Avalon: That is just so fascinating to me and I was so curious to hear your experience of that. Then you talked about the moment when you realized that you were done with triathlons. Did you let somebody pass you? You said there was some guy running who reminded you of your old self?
Brad Kearns: Yeah. The very last race, what you learn, like I said before in sports is that, the results are so dramatic and so straightforward that it's very difficult to bullshit yourself or other people. I had this great run near the end of my career where I won seven races in a row, I was national champion, I was ranked third in the world, and everything was great, it was clicking off, victories all over the world, and then I got tired after the season was over, and it took me about two years of feeling completely fatigued, and never quite coming out of it, and feeling right. I was feeling a little bit off for a period of two years. Coming off of a period of two years of total binge, where I was in the Pan-Am Premier Emeritus Mileage Club. I flew all over the place, I'd go to any race, and kick some butt, and was able to earn a good income after working so hard, and working my way up the ranks. But then you do pay the price as an athlete and it's difficult to recalibrate when you're pushing your body that hard. The writing was on the wall that I was hanging around too long and I should probably move on with my life.
But it was a difficult transition to go from athlete and this novel lifestyle to even thinking about, "Oh, gee, what am I going to do next? I have to go get a job or something." "A job," said Arthur. No, it was a tough one. I hung around a little bit too long and then that final shutting of the door was when this kid caught me from behind going down a steep hill, which is really painful to run faster. Your muscles are pounding anyway. I just let this guy go and said, "Good luck. Go have a great race." By not giving chase, that was a clear indication that my competitive edge was gone, and it was time for me to walk away, and that's exactly what I did. When I crossed the finish line, I took my shoes off, threw him in the garbage can, and I was smiling because it was a clear and distinct ending. There was no unfinished business or anything like that. So, some people would ask me over time, "Do you ever longed to go back and compete as a triathlete?" I'm like, "No. Why would I do want to go back to high school and go to 11th grade math class and sit next to the boy you had a crush on?" No, I don't think so. We're over that, and we're over and done with it, and it's time to look at different horizons, and try to grow in different areas.
Melanie Avalon: You know maybe that ties into what we were talking earlier about, because you didn't win that race. But it's not like it was a failure. It was just an ending of that thing that you had been pursuing at that time.
Brad Kearns: Yeah, that's right. I think you said that before. We can look at all failure as a lesson, and then I jumped in and said, "Yeah, watch out," because young kids I think, the rest of it I was going to say it was like, there probably are ways that you can fail. For example, by lying to yourself, putting yourself into a competitive environment, where you're not deserving or you're not prepared, and then feeling all sad and discouraged that you didn't make it. It's like well, the reason you didn't make is because you didn't practice enough, and you didn't deserve it. That's a failure because you're telling the world that you're focused and intent on doing this, "Oh, I'm going to write my book, I'm going to finish it by the end of the year." Then the end of the year comes, and you didn't do it, why not? "Well, the lot of stuff got in the way and I had to take that trip to Mexico with my friends, it was a last-minute thing." Okay, well, that's a failure.
You're allowed to change your goals, and change course, and change direction. I'm also big on quitting things that don't feel right. When I was raising my kids, they're now in their 20s, young adults, but I'd said, "You know what? It's okay to quit. But let's do this in a conscious manner." We're like, "This sucks, I don't like the coach, I don't like the experience, I'm too tired. I don't feel like doing it. I'm not getting joy, I'm not getting personal growth, so, I'm going to quit." Quitting is fine. Sticking it out is when we start to develop these flawed mindsets and behavior patterns that maybe turn us into addicts, when we're adults, where we're addicted to winning, or to making money, or to being a material success, rather than a well-balanced, happy, well-adjusted person.
Melanie Avalon: I think we've had the most nuanced discussion of the concept of failure. [giggles] This has been amazing. I do have some questions. In between those two moments that you just described your-- The Princess Desert run, and then triathlon, and then that moment at the end, so, in the in between is when you discovered and something you talk about in your book is actually that the appropriate way to train. I just had some questions about some of them because there were some really great takeaways. One is something that you've been touching on throughout this conversation, but that is the focus on aerobic training to build a foundation and a base compared to anaerobic training. My questions about that is, why should we focus on aerobic training? Then second, I'm really, really fascinated by how those two types of training-- especially for people that are really interested in body composition, how those two types of training affect fat burning versus carb burning? Not just while training, but for 24 hours afterwards.
Brad Kearns: Good stuff, thanks. Yeah, the concept of building an aerobic base or emphasizing aerobic training is really directed to the endurance athlete because endurance sports is all about burning fat and burning fat efficiently, so that you can proceed at a comfortable pace for hours and hours or however long if you're going for that marathon or that Ironman that we talked about. The mistake that a lot of athletes make is training at an elevated heart rate or training a little bit too fast for their fitness level. What happens is instead of burning predominantly fat during these workouts, you transition as intensity escalates into burning a greater and greater percentage of glucose at the expense of fat. Because the faster you go, the more energy you put out whether you're rowing, or climbing the stairs, or bicycling or running. As your pace increases, you are obligated to burn more glucose and less fat. Fat burning occurs at the comfortable intensity such as walking, such as sitting at your desk, or if you're really fit, you can get on the bike and pedal, and still be burning predominantly fat.
Unfortunately, we have great research and history from the endurance sports that we can quantify this at a heart rate equating to 180 minus your age in beats per minute. If you subtract, you're 40 years old, 180 minus 40, your maximum aerobic heart rate is 140 beats per minute. That's the point where you're burning the most fat and a minimal amount of glucose. If you were to exceed that heart rate to go a little faster, a little faster, a little faster, then you start to compromise the intended benefits of the workout to build your endurance, build your fat burning capabilities, and instead become this sugar-burning trend as I talked about earlier, where you're going to be a little bit tired after the workout, you're going to be craving some Jamba juice and a breakfast scone, which is more calories than you just burned during your ambitious one-hour workout, and things have a tendency to stagnate higher risk of burnout, injury, immune suppression, illness, all that thing from pushing a little too hard when you're doing those prolonged aerobic or though cardiovascular workouts.
Melanie Avalon: How does that relate to the maximum aerobic fitness test?
Brad Kearns: The test is to track your progress at this very important maximum aerobic function heart rate. This is from primarily from the work of Dr. Phil Maffetone. If you take this 180 minus age, this heart rate, that's the point where you're burning the most fat. Our most aerobically efficient, you can measure how fit you are in that sense. It's not the same as doing what they call a time trial, where you go to the running track, and you run as fast as you can for four laps, and you stop your watch, and that's how fit you are. That's an all-out performance test. That's fine, too. But this is testing your efficiency with fat burning by regulating your pace to a very-- It turns out to be a very comfortable pace if you take 180 minus your age. The person would go to the track, and try to establish a pace that's right around that 180 minus age or 140 in our example. You're jogging, making sure you don't go too fast, even though you're well capable of going faster, and just trying to peg your pace at this 140, and then you time yourself.
In January, you're just starting, and you go four laps around the track, and your time is 12 minutes and 47 seconds, which is not bad for a fat burning session. Then three months later, if you've been training well, and resting, and eating right, and getting better and better at burning fat thanks to your good workout habits, you might go and run that four laps at the same heart rate. You're trying to stick it there at 140. It might say 141, 139, 137, 139, 142. You try to keep your pace to watch that heart rate at a consistent readout. Then you might cross the line and it might say 12 minutes and 5 seconds. You became more aerobically efficient from sensible training and it's represented right there on the watch from going faster at a comfortable heart rate. This is believed to be a superior way to track endurance progress versus going out there, and going till your tongue hangs out, because there's a lot of variables that allow you to push harder on a certain day versus another day. It's not as relevant to the long-distance performance as how good you can burn fat.
Melanie Avalon: I just love this so much. If I were the type to do a lot of training, I feel this will be my thing. Because I'm all about optimizing and thinking critically about what provides the most optimal results. It's so funny. I already told you this, but I interviewed Robb Wolf this past week. I hadn't read the section in your book yet about this, and then, in our conversation, he was talking about this because he was saying that he really, really likes it, because it's one of the few things that gives you a very objective look at your improvements with performance rather than being subjective, and where you can't really tell what's doing what. I remember him talking about and I was like, "Oh, I want to know more about this." Then I read that part in your book and I was like, "Oh, my goodness, I'm so excited." I'm learning. Yeah, the quote I wrote down was that it basically, you're running faster at the same speed in a way, which is-- [crosstalk]
Brad Kearns: Running faster at the same heart rate. Same effort. Now, this is just a one sliver, one slice of the fitness pie that's relating specifically to building your endurance with your eye on endurance goals. But what I talked about earlier, that primal, that ancestral perspective of fitness has three main components. One of them being this aerobic or this low-level movement and exercise, and then we have the resistance exercise, and then we have the explosive sprinting, all out explosive performance and lasting very shortened duration. It would be best for most people to broaden the lens to trying to achieve, trying to make progress in all three of those areas. Weight training, resistance training, working your muscles, sprinting, actually moving your body quickly through space, and ideally sprinting on flat ground because you get the bone density and the genetic signaling for fat loss more so than any other activity. But if you can't sprint on flat ground yet, you can work your way up by sprinting on the bicycle, or sprinting on the stair climbing machine, or the rowing machine, and then maybe one day working up to running up the stairs for a sprint, and then eventually progressing to where you can actually go to the park or go to the football field, and run fast as a human. It's a critical human function.
In terms of return on investment, as you're looking for a time efficient exercise to provide the most fitness benefits, oh, my gosh, sprinting will have a 10 to one payoff versus going out there, and plotting every day, and jogging around the park at a slow pace. Because this is when you're challenging all the systems of the body to maximum. That's when you have the profound genetic and hormonal signaling for fitness improvement, for building maintaining lean muscle mass. There're benefits to cognitive function, there're benefits to immune function, and of course the main simplified takeaway is that, if you can get good at going fast and going hard, your performance improves at all lower levels of intensity. So, if you can sprint, guess what, the jogging is going to feel a lot easier forevermore because of your competency when your muscles are working at maximum.
Melanie Avalon: How does that compare to something high intensity interval training?
Brad Kearns: Anything that you're asking your body for high output is delivering these excellent triggers for fitness, for adaptation. But the problem, especially with that acronym, which is so popular and there's a hit workout here and a hit work out there, the problem is we abuse the strategy. By and large, the predominant amount of fitness programming-- mainstream fitness programming is putting these workouts together that are too long in duration and too strenuous for the average person to benefit from. High intensity interval training is an awesome way to condition the body, but the workout should last for 10 minutes rather than an hour. But what we see when we go into the gym is we have 8 AM is bootcamp class, and then 9 AM is step up and rope with Cindy, and then 10 AM is the spin class where you're going to go into the bicycle room and just pound the pedals for workouts that lasts 45 to 60 minutes, sometimes even longer. When you go and ask yourself to continually deliver high output or maximum output over, and over, and over, what happens is this inappropriate overstimulation of the fight or flight hormones, which are designed as we go into the ancestral experience to run away very briefly from the tiger for 10 seconds once a month. In a lot of ways, the body responds much better to that than these exhaustive, prolonged workouts, especially when they happen in a pattern.
You're familiar with the CrossFit community. Even though if you've never been to a workout, it's a sensation, and the people are very fervent, and they love it, and there's a great community aspect, and the philosophy of the broadened concept of fitness is wonderful. I have so many supportive things to say about how they mix in all these different skills and all that. But by and large, when you go to a template workout lasting for up to an hour, you are taking these people and asking them to do very challenging maneuvers in a fatigued state. That's a recipe for injury, illness breakdown, burnout, and most concerningly, attrition from sticking to the program for three years, or five years, or 10 years. For everyone listening who's had some exposure to high intensity interval training, you're very likely going to benefit tremendously from cutting the duration of your workout in half or by three quarters, and just going out there blasting a few sprints, and going home, and calling it a workout. Oh, my gosh, that's when you let all the magic happen, all the fitness adaptation happen. I mentioned Doug McGuff's book Body by Science, Doug McGuff and John Little talking about going to the gym once a week and throwing those weights around for maximum to failure, and then going and putzing around the rest of the time with easy exercise.
Melanie Avalon: Could shortening that intensity periods still be in the context of a longer slow endurance period? What I mean by that is, the way I feel it manifests for me doing "HIIT workouts" is it's when I am like I said, "You know needing to read a book." So, I'm just walking really casually on the treadmill for over an hour, but then I'll do maybe three little moments where I do an all-out sprint in that context of walking for a long time. Would that work?
Brad Kearns: Yeah, that's fantastic. The rules and guidelines can be very free flowing based on your intuition and your preferences until you're trying to qualify for the Olympics in 2024, 2028. Then we're going to have more talking with Melanie about the exact particulars of every workout. Just like you described, I think we were talking offline about how the deep, deep enthusiasts of intermittent fasting, and keto, and all the things that we're into, they get so caught up in the nuances that they're really not relevant until we're splitting hairs just for hobby's sake. The fitness enthusiast, if you can just keep this idea in your mind that it's really good to blast some explosive effort once in a while. You don't have to do that every time you go to the gym. But maybe once a week, you can try to throw some sprints down. It's fantastic. But I communicate this template all the time that the sprints should last between 10 and 20 seconds. That's the sweet spot. More than 20 seconds, you're starting to combust the cells, and cause damage, and breakdown to fuel a maximum intensity effort for longer than 20 seconds.
Furthermore, the human is incapable of delivering maximum output for more than about eight seconds, that's when the ATP-creatine phosphate system collapses or burns out. We're capable of going truly 100% for eight seconds. Then we have to recruit different energy systems and it's not truly all out. But you'll get great fitness benefits from sprinting between 10 and 20 seconds, and then taking really extensive rest intervals between them. A lot of HIIT workouts screw this up where they say, "Okay, we're going to do 10 sprints on the bicycle, we're going to sprint for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, sprint for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds." And what happens on the seventh, and the eighth, and the ninth one is the subject is getting exhausted. This incredible exponential breakdown of cellular energy is happening to fuel that fire, so the person can answer to the screaming exhortations of the trainer. It's called disassembling and deamination of the cellular proteins to fuel to provide more ATP for maximum output and it's just too exhausting. There's no reason to do it unless you're training for the Olympics in a specific event where you need to condition yourself that way.
As I said earlier, the elite athletes are not blowing out their cells in this manner, because they're super highly conditioned. For most people trying to conclude this idea here, 10 to 20 seconds is the sweet spot. Extensive rest in between each one, so that you can come back and do a second high-quality sprint on the heels of the first one, and the second, and the third, and the fourth. For most people, falling somewhere between four and 10 efforts would be ideal. If you think you're a badass, and you are super fit, and you feel great, and you did 10, and you feel fine, and you think you can do 11, guess what, let's just have you focus on going faster on the 10 that you did, or the eight that you did, or whatever. And four, I think is a pretty modest objective for anybody can go like your treadmill work out that you describe, you can throw down four sprints of 10 seconds. That's not too much to ask in your busy weekly time schedule. So, that's the bare minimum and then it's not about quantity, it's just about getting faster and faster if you continue to get fitter.
Melanie Avalon: That all-out bursts that you can't sustain for more than about eight seconds, you can do that again within the same session if you recover or what is the cap on that, what determines when you can't do any more of those?
Brad Kearns: That's where I say between four and 10 reps is ideal for almost everyone in a workout setting. If today's your sprint day, of course, you're going to warm up, and prepare, and get the body all primed, and then in this simple example of running sprints on flat ground, you're going to go six times 10 seconds of sprinting, and the rest interval would be at least 6:1. If you're sprinting for 10 seconds, you're going to rest for a minute in between each one, which seems a really long time when you're only sprinting 10 seconds. A lot of fitness enthusiasts are familiar with my example of like, "All right 10 sprints of 30 seconds with 30 seconds rest, and then sprint again, and then rest again. Oops, here comes the next sprint," and you're like, "Oh, my God, I got to do it. Here comes my seventh, here comes my eighth" and it's torture. Then what we get, this is a little bit of an aside, but it's an explanation of why this is so prevalent. It's really is distressing to me because we have attrition, breakdown, burnout, illness, and injury occurring from it.
But what happens is, when you complete a really challenging workout like 10 sprints of 30 seconds with only 30 seconds rest between, your cells are torched, you're going to feel it over the next 36 to 48 hours. The most sensitive cells are the brain cells, and you have this condition of ammonia toxicity in the aftermath of an overly stressful sprint workout that really messes with the brain neurons and makes you feel crap, and foggy, and a brain fog the day after your super hard 6 AM sprint workout. What happens here is that, when we conduct the workout appropriately, we allow the cells to replenish their energy, replenish their ATP in the rest interval, so that your fourth sprint, your fifth sprint, your sixth sprint are just as good, just as powerful, just as explosive with impeccable form as the first one. That's the sign of an effective sprint workout that you sprinted for an appropriate duration that your body can actually handle without having to burndown the cellular structures, and that you recovered each time, so that the quality was consistent and crossed every sprint.
A 6:1 recovery interval is probably sufficient. You're going to be wandering around, wondering what to do by the time the minute comes up, because again a 10-second sprint is nothing, it's minimal, and a minute rest is plenty, and then you might notice on the sixth or the seventh rep, oh, a slight tightness in the lower back or a slight increase in your perceived degree of difficulty, "Wow, that one was a little harder." When you pay attention to those signs, that's the sign to wrap it up and call it a workout because you don't want to have a degradation of effort technique or an increase in perceived exertion during a proper sprint session. What's happened is we've been socialized to this no pain-no gain mentality, a lot of it transfers over from the endurance community, endurance scene, because that's what it's all about is to suffer and try to make it all the way through the marathon. Of course, you're going to feel horrible for the final six miles to the finish line, and then celebrate it with everybody that you persevered through this torture fest. But we don't want torture fests when we're talking about sprinting, because that's not the metabolic act of the human. It's explosive, it's strong, and it's coming from a well-rested state rather than starting in a fatigued state on your ninth interval because the instructor's yelling at you to do so from the front of the room.
Melanie Avalon: That was really helpful and it helped me clarify what I think I was trying to ask, which was, is the limiting factor like muscle glycogen or is that ATP synthesis completely? What is that dependent on? What's fueling that filling up of the ATP?
Brad Kearns: If a listener would open up an exercise physiology textbook, you can see this cool rundown of the relative substrate utilization at different exercise intensities. In other words, what energy are we using. So, when we go zero to eight seconds, we're using pure creatine phosphate. That's the ATP that's already inside the cell, and it's just ready to blast at any moment. You can sprint away from the lion. It's sitting there, it didn't matter if you haven't eaten in six days. You don't even have to breathe for eight seconds. And then between eight and 30 seconds, we're drifting over into creatine. I'm blanking but it's another high-performance, high energy output fuel source. Then when we go from 30 seconds up to two minutes, we're talking about a glycolytic act, which means glucose. Everyone's familiar with that. You burn through your blood sugar, you get tired, you have a Jamba juice, you feel better after the workout.
Anything where you're trying to go hard beyond 30 seconds, you're going into these glucose pathways, and this turns out is highly stressful to the body. That's where we have the oxidative stress of burning the glucose molecule because you don't need mitochondria to burn glucose. You don't have the protective benefits of burning energy in the most clean and efficient manner possible, which is the fat burning. When you get up over an effort lasting two minutes or longer, and we're talking about going as hard as you can for eight seconds, as hard as you can for 30 seconds, as hard as you can for one minute, and then in the physiology lab, they're measuring what fuel you're using. That's what this discussion is all about. When you get up over two minutes, even though two minutes seems like a very short time, you're getting a massive contribution from the aerobic system. You're burning a significant percentage of fat, and then on up to a 15-minute race, or an hour-long race, or a four-hour long ultra-marathon, you're burning predominantly fat and a little bit of glucose.
Just if you envision this spectrum or this continuum, you are recruiting different fuel sources based on what you're asking your body to do. The explosive fuel sources take a long time to replenish and recover. Same with the muscle fibers and all that. That's why if you're going to go do eight second sprints, you need not do those more than once a week because the body needs a lot of recovery time. Whereas if you're out there jogging for an hour every single day, you're using mostly the slow twitch muscle fibers, and you're burning mostly fat, and the human in fact can go back and do that every single day without too much trouble. I should clarify stuff we talked about way back when, if you go out there and let's say, you hike for an hour every day or you're hiking the Appalachian Trail for the summer, that's by and large an extremely healthy exercise endeavor. Because you're not pushing yourself too hard. And where we get into trouble with that endurance training, when I talked about that chronic approach to endurance training, it's when we exceed that maximum aerobic heart rate that 180 minus age by doing these slightly too difficult jogging sessions, or bicycle riding sessions, or things that dip into the glucose energy reserves day after day after day. That's when you want to go to Ben and Jerry's at night.
Melanie Avalon: Thank you. That was exactly what I was asking. That was incredible. Speaking of the muscle fibers, I think I was telling you about this I did the Emsculpt two days ago. I'm really fascinated by that. Each session is the equivalent of 20,000 bicep or triceps curls.
Brad Kearns: Oh, that's a lot.
Melanie Avalon: I don't know the exact correct phrasing but she said it does it at a level that surpasses what your brain subconsciously limits your muscle's ability to do. Is it even more effective?
Brad Kearns: It's interesting, just the whole philosophical idea that you can hack, fitness is really interesting. I think we're going to see more and more of that in the future. But I just had this thought like, a lot of times I've talked to the athletic world and say, "Hey, you're probably doing this too much, you're probably doing too many intervals, you're probably going to the gym too frequently." A lot of people, this is a source of important reflection, because there is that enjoyment factor. There is that adrenaline rush that endorphin buzz that you get after doing a workout of those 10 sprints of 30 seconds with only 30 seconds' rest. It's not to be discounted, but it is contradictory to the proper model of how to get the body fit. With your example, if you can do something that's as good as 20,000 triceps curls with probably less injury risk, more time efficient, we might want to reflect on the relative importance of getting that instant gratification of logging all your workouts versus what does my body really need to get strong, and fit, and healthy.
Melanie Avalon: I've been wanting to do it, and then I interviewed Terry Wahls, and we weren't talking about this Emsculpt for cosmetic purposes or whatever. But she was talking about e-stim, which is muscle stimulation for people with MS, and also, I think they're looking at it for the astronauts for NASA for preserving muscle. She was just lauding the benefits of it for metabolic health. I was thinking about it more and I was like, "Oh, this is actually, probably a very healthy thing to do a session." The way it works is you do four sessions a week apart, and apparently, it's building more muscle fibers. Like I said, it's doing the equivalent of all of those curls without really any injury. Oh, it's so cool. It does the stimulation for a little bit, and then it does this weird tapping thing, and they said that it's breaking up the lactic acid. It's just a very interesting process. Although, it did make me feel a little odd, little bit nauseous.
Brad Kearns: Well, you've worked your muscles hard. You might feel a little bit odd.
Melanie Avalon: I'm not really that sore. She said, I might not even be sore at all, but in the in between and that rest state that the seven days in between the sessions, muscle recovery, should I not be really using them or still challenging them? I know you haven't researched it intensely.
Brad Kearns: Well, I can certainly comment about what muscle soreness is. Muscle soreness is damaged muscle fibers in the process of repair. They're inflamed, the soreness is the indication, the central nervous system saying, "Hey, please don't use these until the soreness goes away." I'm a really strong advocate for not adding additional stress to the muscle when it's sore. The sore muscle needs to recover. In fact, there's a lot of great leaders right now that are arguing convincingly that you should strive to not get sore when you work out. I love that one. I get sore all the time and it's so frustrating because I'm in there lifting heavy weights. Maybe I haven't been in a while. I've been inconsistent, I've been sprinting too much and not in the weight room enough, and then I'll go do my deadlifts, and then I'll be sore, and that'll interfere with my sprint workouts in the ensuing days. I'm trying to figure this out.
But this notion of working in a manner that's safe enough for you don't get muscle soreness, it really makes a lot of sense to me. Because muscle soreness is basically, you're diverting the resources for protein synthesis to repair the muscle rather than to make it stronger or to grow it in the case of people that want to get bigger muscles. I'm trying to get stronger muscles. So, I want protein synthesis and recovery period to be making me adapt from the workout stimulus rather than repair the fricking damage that was caused. I think activity and increasing blood flow and circulation is now the cutting-edge healing protocol to speed recovery. In the old days, we used to sit on the couch and eat food. I thought that was the ultimate way to recover from hard exercise. Now, it turns out there're ways that you can get into the gym, get the blood flowing, maybe do some foam rolling, maybe do some light cardiovascular exercise, dynamic stretching, things like that, that'll be good for your muscles even if they're sore, even if they're recovering before a big effort coming up, rather than sitting and being inactive. So, that's a nice breakthrough that we have in fitness now where this active recovery concept is really taking hold.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. Like I said, she said, I might not get sore at all. I was just tiny baby bit stiff yesterday, not too terribly bad or anything like that, especially for 20,000 bicep and triceps curls. I'm really curious to see how it goes. Well, this has been amazing. I did want to ask you about one more thing if you still have time, which is where you are now at the very beginning, it was a while ago, now you're talking about how after your exit from at least the really intense competition aspect of athletic endeavors. You're like, "What am I going to do after this?" So, clearly, you've done a ton of things. But what is your MOFO mission that you're doing now?
Brad Kearns: [laughs] I am just trying to be that ageless wonder, and keep my athletic mindset, my youthful mindset, and find outlets for it all the time. I've been obsessed with high jumping now for almost two years, and it was this fun event in track and field, where you jump over the bar, it's pretty simple. I've always enjoyed doing it even back in high school when I was this skinny runner guy and I was terrible at high jump. I didn't have any power. I was just this slight individual that was good for running circles. But for some reason, I was captivated by the incredible complexity of the technique. It's the most complex track and field event because you have to transfer energy from the horizontal plane to the vertical plane on a curved approach. The high jump approach is, you don't just run straight at the bar and try to jump over. You have to do a shape to your approach where you turn your body sideways and jump over the bar pointed sideways. So, it requires a lot of technique, it requires a lot of speed and power, and then once you're in the air, you got to bend like a pretzel, like a gumby over the bar. All these disparate physical skills, I feel are really nicely lined up with longevity, overall health, vitality, and nothing of the sort from the stuff that I had to endure.
When I was training so hard for triathlon, these overuse injuries, and the fatigue, and exhaustion, and the endocrine disruption, and the immune system disruption, that was nothing I'm interested in anymore. The workouts are short duration, they're powerful, they're explosive, they're fun, and I mix that in with pursuits like speed golf, and basically as offbeat as you can possibly imagine. The cool thing is I'm so excited about these that I might as well be back on the professional circuit racing on ESPN for the big dollars when I'm by myself hopping the fence into the local high school facility to try to jump over the bar. When I clear that bar, I let out a scream of delight that's just as joyful as when I was doing my sport as a big time professional. That's, I think, the thing I like to share with people is like, "Go out there, find something that lights you up and take it seriously." I'm not talking about just a breezy, drifting through comfortable life and never really pushing or challenging yourself. I want to strive for peak performance. But at the same time, I'm not full of myself and I have the perspective that I'm just in an empty high school stadium jumping over a bar as an old guy, and who cares if anybody's watching or not. I'm having fun and I'm personally fulfilled.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, that is absolutely amazing and so inspiring. It actually speaks to something I think about a lot and it ties everything full circle as far as motivation, and purpose, and goals, and the question of like, "What are you doing it for? Would it still light you up if nobody was watching?" I think that's a really telling question.
Brad Kearns: Yeah. That's going back to that story of the rookie professional triathlete. I was just lingering in the back of the pack, and having so much fun, and feeling so emboldened by moving from 21st place to 17th place, and we have to avoid this obsession with comparing to others, and being jealous and envious, and just focus on the highest expression of our own personal individual talents, and calling, and not really care too much what other people think about that.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, which can be super hard in our social media world, where it's all about everybody's watching, and this episode is going to be, I just thank you like such a foundational, helpful episode full of information about a topic that is obviously so important. I think listeners are going to learn so, so much. Was there anything else you wanted to touch on? I know we could talk for another 10 hours but was there any other big thing that you wanted to put out there?
Brad Kearns: We're just teeing up part two. There's plenty more fun stuff but hey, let's see what feedback we get. I commend you for being so prepared and the questions were so thoughtful. It sounded like a really enjoyable conversation even for me. I didn't get bored. So, that's great.
Melanie Avalon: I do have one last question-- one last question. Is it true that you've visualized your exact time of finishing but you're off by one second?
Brad Kearns: Yeah, that was crazy. Going back to that manifesting concept, it was through my good friend, Johnny G, who's a fitness celebrity. He was the creator of spinning. He invented indoor cycling, and he took me through a visualization process for the first time, where we carefully envisioned every step of the race, and then he threw out this crazy time that I knew was beyond my capabilities or what anyone thought, even the best pro could do on that course. But I went along with it. I played along with his journey that he was taking me through. With the candles lit and the music playing, I said, "Sure, sure," and I said the timeout loud, and then when I crossed the finish line, it was one second away from the time that he had me verbalize and visualize.
I think you could probably reference times in your life too, where you have this clear dream that's verbalized and may be written down, if you're a person who's good at goal setting and writing things down, and then it comes true, and you're so shocked and surprised. But maybe we shouldn't be so shocked and surprised that we have way more control over our destiny than we think, if we can get lined up and like Luke Storey reminds us, "Be in gratitude and be in appreciation for your current state of things, and then write down like, hey, here's where I'm headed, [laughs] here's what's going to happen in the coming year, here's the goals I'm going to pursue and operate from that standpoint," rather than bringing in this fear, and anxiety, and things that are so prevalent today for many of the same reasons that we talked about with the negative aspects of social media and comparison culture.
Melanie Avalon: That just blew my mind. Yeah, I wrote down that you visualize two hours, 38 minutes and 47 seconds, and then it was two hours, 38 minutes and 46 seconds. I'm dying to know. Is it possible that it actually was what you visualize? Are they ever off by a second? Could it have been the exact--?
Brad Kearns: Oh, for sure. Yeah. Maybe I was one second behind the starting line because someone got in my way. The point is made, like, if you put that suggestion in your mind, it's powerful. If you're listening right now and you're scoffing, thinking whatever I don't buy into that stuff, you're absolutely right. That was me for a while when it came to the beard, stubble, and the private jet, and the whole ridiculousness of people manifesting their wildest dreams. Not being plugged into that or just looking at the superficial example that you can kind of caricaturize, that's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about believing in yourself, not getting discouraged, but thinking positively and taking control of your thoughts, rather than being a victim is what I'm all about.
Melanie Avalon: Well, that just leads perfectly to the last question that I ask every single guest on this show, which is just because I realized more and more each day, like, we just talked about how important mindset is. So, what is something that you're grateful for?
Brad Kearns: I am grateful for this kickass show of record length, and diversity, and nuance. I'm grateful for Melanie to put out such incredible content, and also to be in the age where we have the possibility for this because I know you've had a Hollywood career, and I grew up in Los Angeles Hollywood scene, and I remember you were either on a network television show or nothing. There was no outlet for people like you or people with a different voice or a different perspective, because it was so streamlined and organized by the giant powers. So, I'm grateful for the world of podcasting. How about that and this show in particular, specifically.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I am so, so grateful. I hadn't thought about it in that because I am constantly grateful just about this show and everybody I get to talk to you and people like you. But I hadn't thought about just the timing of it. If I had been born at a different time that this would not really even be a possibility. But thank you. Thank you so, so much. I am so grateful for everything that you're doing. It is so incredible, so amazing. I think it's really important information for so many people, and you're just hysterical, and a really genuine human being, and I'm just so grateful to have met you. We will put links in the show notes to all of the books, all the things we talked about. Is there any other links you would like to put out there? I know you make some products. What would you like to share, how can listeners best follow your work and any links you'd like to put out there?
Brad Kearns: Oh, my gosh, if you go to my brand-new website, bradkearns.com, you will be regaled and entertained by all the crazy videos, and you can link yourself away, and go listen to The B.rad Podcast, especially go search for my episode with Melanie Avalon. It was a great interview. Start there, start there and go deep from that point, that entry point.
Melanie Avalon: That was our first conversation Well, besides emails leading up to it, but it was super fun. Well, thank you, Brad. I milked so much of your time, and I am so appreciative, and you're the best, and I can't wait to talk to you more in the future.
Brad Kearns: Keep it up, Melanie. I'm a huge fan.
Melanie Avalon: Likewise. Have a good day.