The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #89 - Abel James
Abel James is a New York Times Bestselling Author, Musician, and Online Creator. He’s host of the award-winning Fat-Burning Man Show, rated as Apple’s #1 Health Podcast in 8 countries with over 50 million downloads and 2000+ 5-star reviews.
A “Coach to the coaches,” Abel has worked with thousands of people across the world to optimize performance, mindset, health and longevity. Abel is named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness by Greatist and has been featured in documentaries, ABC TV, Entertainment Tonight, People, WIRED, South by Southwest, and hundreds more.
His new book of irreverent poetry, “Designer Babies Still Get Scabies,” a #1 International Bestseller in Humor, is available now.
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7:05 - Abel's personal story
9:05 - low fat diet failure
12:15 - wild diet
14:30 - GMOs
17:25 - autoimmune conditions
18:35 - the problem with GMO corn
19:10 - lab grown meat
20:20 - the perception of morality and Sustainability of plant based meat
22:00 - vegetarianism
23:55 - biohacking to combat modern deficiencies
25:35 - tracking biomarkers
27:10 - fortification of processed foods
30:05 - how to find a sustainable diet
34:00 - free meals or "cheats"
35:10 - intense exercise with IF
41:00 - Tapping into glucose
42:45 - DRY FARM WINES: Low Sugar, Low Alcohol, Toxin-Free, Mold- Free, Pesticide-Free, Hang-Over Free Natural Wine! Use The Link DryFarmWines.Com/Melanieavalon To Get A Bottle For A Penny!
44:30 - Real Time Data On a CGM
46:46 - EMF and Wi-Fi
52:25 - wi-fi Calling Vs. Cellular Connection
53:25 - Paranoia about health concerns
54:15 - Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
59:05 - Radon Gas
1:01:10 - recovering from poisoning
1:09:00 - Miracles
1:10:10 - the placebo effect
1:10:10 - writing designer babies
1:17:10 - Modern Content Creation and Consumption
1:22:50 - FEALS: Feals Makes CBD Oil Which Satisfies ALL Of Melanie's Stringent Criteria - It's Premium, Full Spectrum, Organic, Tested, Pure CBD In MCT Oil! It's Delivered Directly To Your Doorstep. CBD Supports The Body's Natural Cannabinoid System, And Can Address An Array Of Issues, From Sleep To Stress To Chronic Pain, And More! Go To Feals.Com/melanieavalon To Become A Member And Get 50% Off Your First Order, With Free Shipping!
1:25:45 - Facebook groups
1:28:20 - Sustaining Relationships
1:28:50 - Disconnecting From Social Media
1:31:20 - balancing time on social media
1:34:10 - censorship on social media
1:39:00 - Political "Conspiracies"
1:44:55 - Eating Crickets
1:45:10 - The Fluffernutter Story
Melanie Avalon: Hi friends, welcome back to the show. I am so incredibly thrilled, honored excited about the conversation that I'm about to have. It is with truly a legend in the whole holistic health. I'm going to put a lot of adjectives but paleo, keto, fat burning diet, that whole world, this man is a legend. He is the host of the award-winning top iTunes show, it's even been the number one health podcast on iTunes, and that is the Fat Burning Man show. He's also a New York Times bestselling author of a fabulous book called The Wild Diet: Get Back to Your Roots, Burn Fat, and Drop Up to 20 Pounds in 40 Days. He is also a musician, he's an online creator, and he has a new book of a different topic called Designer Babies Still Get Scabies: A Small Book of Mostly Silly Poetry, based on true stories, mostly, well, I'm just going to say who I'm here with. I am here with Abel James, a man who pretty much needs no introduction. Abel, thank you so much for being here.
Abel James: Melanie, thank you so much for having me in that wonderful introduction.
Melanie Avalon: Well, I will say so I had obviously been listening to your shows, and I was really familiar with The Wild Diet, but then you sent me your poetry book, and I didn't anticipate this. I feel I got a really good sense-- I mean, I don't know you that well, but I learned a lot about you through reading your poetry, which by the way was hysterical. You had a lot to say through it. I'm actually really excited in this conversation, I feel it's going to go a way I probably didn't initially anticipate when we first connected, just because I have a lot of things I want to ask you about. I'm excited.
Abel James: Yeah, those are the best types of conversations.
Melanie Avalon: Awesome. With that in mind, though, I'm still going to start with a very basic question. Most of my audience is likely very familiar with your work. For those who are not, for those who might not know about your own personal story, could you tell listeners just a little bit about your personal story, and what led you to first the whole Fat Burning Man thing, and then where you are, I guess currently, with all of that.
Abel James: Well, I grew up in the middle of nowhere. At a young age, I became allergic to almost every antibiotic out there. My mom, who was a nurse at the time in traditional Western medicine, didn't know what to do with me and my younger brother, who the same thing happened to. We got really sick when we were infants and basically, we're pumped full of all these different drugs. To this day, I still can't come near a lot of them. For a long time, health has kind of been a survival strategy to some degree, because I knew that if I got sick, it could get really bad. I went through life. My mom went into holistic medicine, started her own practice, did the speaking circuit, wrote a few books about how to incorporate herbs into clinical practice. So, I was raised in this hippie-dippie mom going out in the woods making tinctures and balms type world in New Hampshire. Then, of course, being a type A, go-getter personality, which will probably sound familiar to you and a lot of your listeners, I wanted to prove that I was better than that.
After I went to college, and for the first time in my life, I had really good health insurance with my job that I got. I wanted to use that insurance as much as I possibly could. I was going in every two weeks and testing urine and blood, and learning how to read the charts and trying to prevent heart disease and high blood pressure and other things that have run in the family. With this doctor, basically by following his advice for 18 months, and this isn't a direct result, there were other factors at play. But I put on 25, 30 pounds, I had high triglycerides. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was middle aged, even though I was in early 20s, not even mid 20s at that point. I was falling apart. I lost everything in an apartment fire, so I had nothing material to my name. When I went through that, I was at rock bottom, like, “What can I do that's under my control?” after following what appeared to be advice that was not working from a health perspective. My face was fat and puffy, I was clearly low on a variety of different vitamins and minerals. I've been eating as low fat as I possibly could, starving myself to some degree, but putting weight on even though I was still running 30 plus miles a week. I got mad enough when I hit that rock bottom, that I put all my energy into researching, “Okay, how do some people get down to 3.5% body fat?” How do some people in their 60s still compete like Olympians?” I really put my thinking cap on and my nose into the books for a few years there.
Once I learned everything that I did that what my doctor had been telling me was in some ways resulting in me being less healthy than my peers because I was trying harder to be healthy, that just infuriated me so much that once I started following advice that worked and foundational principles of health that really honor nature instead of trying to trick it in some way, all of a sudden, I got the body that I wanted, my athleticism back, I was feeling great. I felt like someone who should in their mid-20s, and I just wanted to do something with that. I didn't want to work some frivolous job, or one that was just after money or something like that. I did everything that I could to try to be a part of spreading alternative ideas, which shouldn't be alternative, because they're so foundational to our health.
Melanie Avalon: I love that so much. Oh, my goodness, you sound just like me with getting really excited about the health insurance and all the testing. It's like whenever I'm picking my plan, even still, each year, I'm like, “Okay, which plan is going to let me do the most testing, all the stuff that I want to do?” Okay, I love that so much. Originally, you were on the, like you said, this low-fat diet. Was it whole foods based at all? Or was it just low fat?
Abel James: Yeah, it was. Never my life if I had been like a soda drinker, or someone who goes out and gets junk food, with some rare exceptions, but I'm not someone who goes and gets like a six pack of soda or goes to fast food on a regular basis. That's just never been true. I was always trying to be healthy. I was drinking a lot of food that didn't appear to be processed, like orange juice with pulp in the morning. Pulp, for whatever reason, made me think it was less processed. [laughs] It'd be things like that, where it's like I was going for the whole wheat bread, not the white bread, because whole wheat is healthy, but not necessarily for the truly hippie-dippie, sprouted sourdoughs and really old school stuff where there are traditional ways of going about this.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, gotcha. One of the things that I love that you talk about in The Wild Diet is you talked about how you had a new realization of food, and you finally were able to lose the weight without the previous restriction that you had. Now, that The Wild Diet like-- as you, “prescribe it” now, for listeners who aren't familiar, what ended up being the basic tenets of that? Is it a high fat, like keto diet? Do macros matter? Is it the demonization of things like wheat and soy? What ultimately ended up being the key, is it one thing? Is it multiple things?
Abel James: I'm not sure that it's one thing, there are definitely a combination of things, but it's what I heard repeated throughout literature that I read for the past 100 years, or in medical journals sometimes or in old wives’ tales other times, or just traditional knowledge. I think there are foundational principles like sticking to whole foods in the true sense of the word, and honoring nature, like I said before, instead of trying to work against it, and also valuing the idea that we're an ecosystem, each one of us. Our bodies are made up of bacteria, viruses, our gut microbiome is a circus, that we're just only starting to understand that that really, in many ways drives our health. It's really, by treating the body with respect, that we start to make progress. I'll just share one quick story from the book.
I was very fortunately able to write this book when I was traveling around the world to some cultures that were very foreign to us at the time being Westerners. Being in Indonesia and in Thailand, and looking at the portion sizes, there's one quick story that I'll summarize. This one friend that we made. I believe it was in Bali. Basically, I asked him like, “Why do you think Americans are so overweight, compared to people in your culture, where you're from, or people who you've come across? He'd been someone who also had had come to the States and then come back, so he had some experience on both sides. He said, “Well, here, we might have a quarter of chicken, a little bit of rice, and a handful of veggies, that'll feed a whole family. In America, you eat a whole bucket of chicken yourself.” I can't really think of a better way of summing up some of the glaring problems, which were totally out of alignment with where we came from.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, 100%. One of the things you talk about in the book, and it's something that I'm really fascinated by, and it's because it is so nonchalantly dismissed by people who I perceive to be really brilliant, GMOs. You talk about those in the book. I'm just really fascinated by them, because I do wonder the extent of the effect that they can have on our body, especially things like the gut microbiome and all of that. What are your current thoughts on GMOs?
Abel James: Well, philosophically speaking, they weren't created to improve our health. That's not really debatable. If you look it the way that a lot of this technology develops, it's more of a following the bottom line. Not that I'm anti capitalism in any way, that's definitely not my point. But when you look at most of the foods that we're eating, most of the foods that are subsidized, they're the same ones that have made us fat and sick many times over, over the decades. Also, if you look at just following corporate interests or government regulations, how long were we eating margarine, thinking it was healthier than butter? How upside down has the food pyramid been? For how many decades until we start to take more responsibility ourselves to try to understand who has our best interests in mind?
As far as GMOs go, genetically modified organisms, and if you read my book, Designer Babies Still Get Scabies, this is one of the main kind of themes behind it, is when we try to outsmart nature, we get ourselves into trouble. We get into trouble before we realize it, before we publicly acknowledge it, or before anyone ever fesses up, which they never do. The corporate interests and the government never seem to fess up to the horrible atrocities of killing children, giving people cancer, just the toxins running rampant from the runoff of these giant GMO monocrops is not in any way in our best interest. Now, could we tinker with nature, using science to improve outcomes and to improve our lives? I believe we could. The problem is, you need to have 110% trust in the people who are doing that and in the process if you're going to follow that path. I, for one, do not have a small amount of that trust in most of the people and organizations who are in power right now, driving GMOs, driving monocrops. If you just look around at the state of our health, 73% of people I just read are overweight or obese in America. That is so obscene of a problem that I think we just can't look around and be like, “Hey, guys, we got it all figured out. Let's keep following the science.”
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, 100%. If you think about it, we have all of these autoimmune conditions today, you were even talking about when you were growing up, and you were basically reacting to everything, I feel like what's going on a lot there is our immune system is reacting to the things that we're putting into our body. When it comes to food, I can see how, especially with things like GMOs, where the plant is genetically changed to perhaps have more natural pesticide potential-- or things are changed in it to make it more resilient, whatever it may be, there's so much more potential for our immune system to just not accept that.
Abel James: Yeah. One example that I share in the book is just kind of a caricature of this whole thing. With GMO’s BT corn is essentially a process that starts manufacturing the pesticide in your gut. If you look at how old margarine is, if you look at how old GMOs are, I want them to be proven 100%, for safety and for health, before we start producing [laughs] pesticides in our own gut. That's only a side effect, because it's designed to do that inside the guts of the insects that eat it, that destroy the crops. The problem is when you eat that corn, the same thing happens, or when you eat those different derivatives of corn, which just wind up in almost all of our foods, and a lot of the animal feed as well. Animals shouldn't be eating this, and you shouldn't be eating animals that eat this, either.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, the note I have written down from that section in your book is you said, basically, “it makes the stomachs of the bugs explode,” which is very concerning, or even something like lab grown meat, for example. I feel you would have to be so perfect. Your immune system would have to accept it as meat. I feel like if there was something just slightly off, your body might be questioning, what is this substance?
Abel James: Also, why? Last I checked, a grass-fed steak or chicken parmesan, all tasted great. Why do we need all of these manufactured, monkeyed with, ridiculous Frankenfoods in order to survive? We never have before, and I don't think that we need to rely on these unproven technologies which are very damaging to life in general and health of people and the Earth, overall. We don't need any of these things to survive. There are far better methods I believe, which are more focused on regenerative agriculture, on growing an entire ecosystem in your farm, instead of just one crop. Right now, we're just doing things so wrong, that we can't keep doing them more wrong in order to progress, if that makes sense.
Melanie Avalon: I think the travesty of it is that-- because you asked why, why would we possibly need things like lab grown meat? I think so many people perceive that as being the most sustainable thing or the most moral thing. I just recently interviewed Robb Wolf for his book, Sacred Cow. I love him, I love his work. That book really opened my eyes into how much I think we just have it wrong, because I think it seems for people shopping at the store, “Oh, if I buy plant based or like a plant alternative to meat, then that's what's most sustainable, and that's what supporting my health and the environment.” I just think that's probably not the case.
Abel James: Yeah, well, I thought so too. When I was a teenager, I went really hard into being vegetarian and even vegan for a bit. But the more research that I did-- and my brother now has a farm in upstate New York, and my dad's side of the family had a farm. When you actually look at nature, it's just not quite so simple. I wish it were that if you could just stop eating meat that the world would heal itself of all of its problems. The problem is, what are you eating when you're not eating meat? And if you're eating corn, soy, or any monocrop in general, you're damaging the earth. It doesn't matter if you're damaging it more or less than people who are eating meat or choosing to live that life. You also could be putting your health at risk if you're not really on point when you go vegan or vegetarian, on making sure that you're spackling the gaps in your nutrition and not deficient. It's you can do it, but it can be a challenge. Most people who are kind of newbies to this as I was, just follow marketing more than truth. If you want the truth of it, being vegetarian can absolutely be great for the earth. Being paleo, keto, Mediterranean, or whatever else can also be great for the earth, it's all about sourcing your foods, and really focusing on the production point of that food as a place itself that heals the earth, or at least doesn't damage it and treat it as a way that's extracting resources.
We live in the middle of nowhere in Colorado in a largely agricultural valley. What was here before that was mining, and a lot of the modern farming treats the earth like mining, where you're extracting resources, and you're damaging it, and even now, more than 100 years later, there's still just these runoff ponds and lakes of toxic waste from all of these operations for more than a century ago, that are killing people, that are killing animals, that are destroying the environment. We need to really look farther ahead with all of this. Anyone who's trying to say that, that their lab is going to solve all of the world's problems, I think we have to look at that with a bit of scrutiny because most of our problems haven't been solved by labs. As much as I love, self-testing and experimentation, biohacking and advances in technology we really need to honor what we know works. These people who are into the fancy biohacking pills and gadgets, gadgets and all this stuff, have you had enough water today? Did you get sun? Did you get good sleep? Did you go for a walk and strengthen your muscles? If you did all those things and you're adding the fancy stuff on, that is awesome. If you haven't done those foundational things first and you're chasing after the magic bullet, as so many of us do, that really leads us into problems later.
Melanie Avalon: 100%. It's almost ironic because I'm really steeped in the “biohacking world” obviously. This is the Biohacking Podcast, and all the things but actually, my perspective when I come to it is that I honestly, I wish I never had to do any “biohacking” thing ever again. The reason I do these things is because most of them are actually an attempt to combat the modern environment and hack it to return back to the original state. Things like blue light blocking glass, it's because I'm trying to combat the overexposure of light, or things like infrared sauna for detox is getting the benefits there. All these things because I just want to return to my natural state of things. I do love the things that can be learned from it.
Abel James: Yeah, I did a lot of those things today by the way, and I'm standing over EMF and it's like, I've got my tracking ring on. I'm into it too. It's very tempting to be carried away by the magic bullet newfangled, whatever it is, technology, lab-grown meats, Soylent. Whatever it is. It's more about the holistic process of all this, like you said, so for me, it's so cool. It was four degrees this morning, I think, for me getting out in the sun, I would love to in between interviews get a few rays, but I hit the infrared light panel, because that is in some ways a substitute, that makes you feel good and you warm up and gets your cells and mitochondria going in the morning. That stuff is really useful and important, I think. Also, the self-tracking piece is just-- you don't want to turn yourself into a nutcase, which I can do if I get too obsessed over it. But when you can track temperature, sleep, heart rate variability, heart rate in general, not just like in a snapshot, but over time, the implications of that are so incredible for your own personal health, and taking responsibility for it that it can show up in awesome ways in your life. For me, it's easy to get carried away drinking and partying when I'm hanging out with friends or playing music or whatever. But when I'm wearing a tracking ring that shows me what it does to my heart rate the next day, [laughs] ooh, I'm going to lay off a little bit.
Melanie Avalon: Is it Oura ring that you're wearing?
Abel James: Yeah.
Melanie Avalon: I just interviewed the CEO, Harpreet.
Abel James: Oh, Harpreet?
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. He's so nice.
Abel James: Awesome. Yeah, he's great.
Melanie Avalon: He's so great. It's funny, you just touched on this, but I think it might listeners will probably think, “Oh, if Melanie has one thing, it's an Oura ring.” I actually didn't, I just got it for the first time and it was because of what you just said about-- I don't want to be overanalyzing all the time, every single moment. The thing I love about Oura is, I love the way it talks to you, like the way it phrases things. I feel it's really trying to support what you're doing as far as like your sleep cycle-- are you an early bird or a night owl?
Abel James: I could go back and forth, but usually early bird.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, I'm so jealous. I want to be that so bad.
Abel James: Not if I stay up late.
Melanie Avalon: I'm hardcore, a night owl. It's like my Oura ring totally knows that, so it never suggests that I go to bed super early. I really love it. Okay, I have a super random theory that I want to throw by you, that I just thought of recently and I would love to know your thoughts on it. It ties into, because you talked in the book about fortification of wheat, all the vitamins that are added to foods, processed foods. You talk about how utterly important vitamins and minerals and being nourished from our food is, I'm wondering, this is so random, so please pardon the tangent rabbit hole. A lot of my listeners practice intermittent fasting, or they practice pretty strict whole foods, paleo-type diets. They'll often say that they get this sense where they're just never quite satisfied with the foods. Then they'll go and eat something conventional like flour, or cake or cookies. Then, they finally feel full for the first time, in that moment. I used to think it was because either they were restricting, so it was a calorie thing or it was a stress-type response, so it was helping with that. I'm wondering if people are just so nutrient depleted that maybe when they eat-- and I'm not advocating eating like flour and wheat and things like that. I'm wondering if when people take that in a huge hit in processed form with all of those added vitamins, if maybe it like, fills up one of those depleted vitamin things. That's a really random theory.
Abel James: Yeah. Well, I think that's the best-case scenario. I do think that happens. I think that's best-case scenario, though because when you look at the included vitamins, they're synthetic, for the most part, and they're in a form that a lot of us don't absorb readily. There's just not that much in it. I think yeah, if you just pound a lot of food at once, there's a good chance that you're going to be hitting something. It could even be salt, could be calories. For me, if I go too low in carbs for too long, this is why I'm not a giant fan of long-term extended keto, for most people anyway, I feel run down, out of juice. I don't feel like myself and hitting even just one sweet potato later, I do feel like myself again. It could be a variety of things. It could be vitamins and minerals there. For me, especially when you look at the flours, the more processed it is, the more it messes me up. I don't know if it's the preservatives that they add, the dough conditioners, the aluminum. There's so much stuff there. It could even be the synthetic form of the vitamins if your body doesn't recognize them and use them well, that's going to hurt you more than it helps you.
Anyway, yeah, I think that's an interesting theory. When we try to make these formulated biscuits for animals, which they've done in zoos, or when we try to make these formulated biscuits with synthetic vitamins and minerals that are supposed to keep us healthy or whatever, that has never worked before. It's never worked in the zoos. It's a horrible-- I read about this in my book. It's made gorillas and apes in general very overweight, trying to eat these things that are formulated to get all of their nutritional needs because we don't know what we're doing. We want to think as formulators and scientists and humans in general that we know everything. Clearly, we do not. Nature in some ways does but it's a trickier way of going about this and I think it's important to follow our intuition. When I eat the more processed stuff, it tends to make me hungrier, not just that-- I do get that for maybe an hour or two of fill-up, but then after that, it's like, my hunger really ramps up for the rest of that day and then sometimes even for a few days.
Melanie Avalon: Actually, also in that same world, because you do have a really extensive section on mindset in the book, but you do advocate-- so you have like The Wild Diet and the tenets of it, but then you do advocate like a 90/10 approach or free meal. How do people navigate finding the diet that works from them, not feeling restricted? What do you find with all of that?
Abel James: Yeah, the more dogmatic you get with this, the more rules you create, the more rebels you create, is one way that I think about it, because that's definitely true with me. If you give me a fundamental principle, like if I know why I should drink water, or what happens when I don't drink water, and stay hydrated, especially living up here at 8000 feet, you get in trouble pretty quick. I don't know, it's some amount of following intuition, but you also have to know that it's worth it for yourself to put all these things into action. Easier said than done. I'm sure for you, Melanie, and for me as well, it's like when you just do this for a while, there's a temptation to think that you need to do all of these things perfectly and that's impossible. There is no perfect. For me, I would love to keep doing my runs, which are usually six or seven miles up to 10,000 feet on the mountain. Like I said, it's all iced up right now. You can't do that. You have to adjust your sports, you have to adjust your training, a lot of us are locked inside, walking is illegal, or whatever. You have to make these adjustments.
With the people who I've coached over the years, I've found it's really not about coming up with all these new, fancy things. It's more about trying to navigate around the crazy curveballs that life throws at you, because it's really hard to keep up with your strength routine, or your workouts when it's illegal to do that. It's really difficult to eat well, when there are no greens growing around you and you have no access to them. In many ways, I think it's important to know that life will give you the cheats, you don't have to force them. Also, it's a mental health thing too where there are some people, especially working in the creative fields, a lot of us are very obsessive, maybe OCD, maybe bipolar, but in many ways, psychologically, we need to be careful. If you try to go super hard and deprive yourself for too long, and then you fall off the wagon, and then you binge, that up and down process is really what damages us over time. If you can try to treat it more of as like a cruise mode, which I think when you're doing things like intermittent fasting, it makes it a lot easier, to maintain, or just shave weight off when you want to. But if you're more cruising toward longevity, if you think about it that way, instead of the short-term gains, or losses or whatever, that's really a way that you can navigate through life, because you're going to get the cheats, you're going to get the curveballs, and you're going to get all of the setbacks and injuries too. You're going to have to have a plan for how to navigate those.
Melanie Avalon: I love that so much. In a way, if you had the cheats as part of the plan, then they're just further a rule in the plan.
Abel James: Yeah, it gets a little weird. I like having free meals or free days, or just sometimes you go on vacation, I didn't exercise in a serious way for two weeks. It was great, but that is not going to be my day-to-day plan. It's important to view this though, I think in cycles, that's how our body operates. Once you start seriously tracking yourself, you'll see that. With my body temperature tracking that, it's so interesting. I have three days of really low body temperature, then it goes way up for five days, usually, then it comes from slamming back down. Unless I don't get enough sleep, or I catch a bug or something like that, then I see the temperature starts to creep up, my heart rate and heart rate variability is compromised. I lay off, I focus on the sleep and being able to preempt all of that is incredibly useful.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I'm always really impressed by Oura. Like you said earlier, it doesn't let you get away with anything. It's like it knows. It's like if I drink a little bit too much wine in the morning, I'm like, “Oh, it knows.” [laughs] I'm so glad you brought up the exercise though. I'm dying to hear your experience and recommendations when it comes to all of that, because when it comes to exercise, I like to just make my life exercise. I wear weights during the day usually. When I'm doing housework or errands at the store, things like that, it's like turning it into a sort of muscle-supporting activity. Which, side note, I never-- even when I was living in California for 10 years, I don't see people just wearing weights around at the grocery store. You think more people would do this?
Abel James: Especially in California, you think so, yeah.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. Actually, I don't think I've ever seen anybody. When it happens, it's going to be really exciting moment.
Abel James: Yeah, you can start a trend.
Melanie Avalon: I know. I keep putting it out there, I'm putting it out there though for years, and it's still not picking up. In any case, especially on The Intermittent Fasting Podcast, we get so, so, so many questions about supporting different, especially like endurance-type activities, marathons, things like that, can they be done with something like intermittent fasting? Or, do people need to fuel, eat before activity? We get so many questions about how to best support, especially more intense, like either endurance-type activities, or really intense like CrossFit type, high power output things?
Abel James: Right. I think it's important to see all of these things as tools, not as the answer in and of themselves. You can overfast, I've done it. You can have too much intermittent fasting, you can do it the wrong way. Same thing with all sorts of exercise. You can over-recover, you can overtrain. When it comes to fasting, it's something that I think, for the people it works for, is amazing. Most people aren't willing to kind of make that jump because it seems so scary. Or, you're worried as you as you raise this point many times in your book of being accused of having some sort of eating disorder. Or, if you're not eating, it's extremely uncomfortable for other people. They're like, “Oh, my God, I'm eating and they're not eating, what is going to happen here?” When it comes to like running marathons, I did Krav Maga for a couple years when I was in Austin, which is like martial arts, which can get really intense if you're sparring or just like--
Melanie Avalon: Oh, wow, I was going to say that's really intense. Yeah.
Abel James: Yeah, CrossFit style workouts or level of intensity within a few different types of workouts like that. I, these days, do train fasted almost all of the time, for my runs, my strength workouts and things like that. I'm not training to compete right now. Or maybe ever again, who knows. If you are training to compete, and you're looking for an edge, then it can be extremely useful, I think, to have some carbs. Also, carbs aren't the worst thing in the world, and your body is able to go through them, and in fact, does well, burning through them when you have a certain amount that's right for you. In terms of grams, for most people, I would say, more like 50 to 150, or even 200 plus, some people who are exercising a lot, who have a ton of muscle, can do 400 plus grams of carbs in a day, no fasting and still be super shredded. There're definitely different ways of going about this.
All that said, for my current training, especially looking at the world out there, where you don't really have the option of having competitions right now, for most people in most sports, there are two ways of going about this. You can try to go harder and faster and go for shorter times, and basically eat that sweet potato or suck on that sugar goo or whatever it is, that ups your performance to do so. Or, you can train fasted at the end of the day, when you don't want to train, when you're at your lowest point, essentially of energy in the day, and get through that workout as a way to toughen you up. Why are we doing health in general? For me, like I said at the beginning, it's really a survival strategy. When things have gotten really hairy in my own life, when the truck is broken down, I literally had to walk through the desert and stuff like that, like, it was not ideal in terms of situation. You didn't just eat a sweet potato and walk into the gym with your fresh gym socks on. When life really throws you those curveballs, you are sleep deprived, you haven't eaten, you're in trouble, usually.
I think that's an important way of applying some level of training too where you're making it hard on yourself on purpose, in order to persevere through that. I wouldn't recommend that for everyone. I wouldn't recommend that you just try fasting for 24 hours, and then going for your personal record. That's not the way to go about this, you do have to treat it one step at a time. But the hormetic kind of way of looking at training can be really useful, especially in times like these.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I love that so much, because we often get questions from people wanting to know either how to lose those last five pounds or burn the stubborn fat. One of the things I've always said is, if you set up a situation so that literally your body has to burn fat at that moment, which pretty much to me looks like what you just said, which is like you do while you're fasting at the end of your fast and then doing the workout. I mean, it's got to turn somewhere.
Abel James: Yeah, and what's crazy about that, I know you've worn a CGM, continuous glucose monitor, and I have as well. One of the things that surprised me so much, was how well my body was able to tap into glucose when it needed to during my workouts. Then after the workout, I could almost eat whatever I wanted, as much sugar as I wanted, within reason, without my blood sugar really being compromised. But if I tried to do that, after not exercising all day, or even before my workout, my glucose response was totally different than post workout, like totally different. I can't remember exactly what it was. I tested this by drinking a whole thing of coconut water, which is like 15 grams of sugar after my run. This is probably like 4 or 5 PM my first meal of the day, after I think I ran like seven or eight miles. I had that full thing of coconut water, I think I had two slices of sourdough bread, and then I ate four homemade cookies. My blood sugar didn't go above-- I think it was 140. It stayed below, and it goes up to 130 or 135, even 140 sometimes just during workouts. It's really incredible the body's response to all of this.
It's one thing to know that insulin is going to have a better response post workout, it's one thing to know that theoretically, but when you actually are able to track it, it's incredible. It really does help inform the way that I work out and fuel and the rest of it, when you're able to back it up and track it to some degree, which thankfully, we can just do it for usually a small amount of money instead of hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions of dollars like it used to take. You needed to be an Olympian or professional athlete to have a lot of this tech even a few years ago. When you're able to look at that and have the interest in it, it's incredible what you can discover. Also, tortilla chips were the thing that spiked my blood sugar more than anything else. Tortilla chips.
Melanie Avalon: For different people, it's most likely different the foods that have the biggest effect and the biggest spike. Yeah, wearing a CGM, oh my goodness, so addicting.
Abel James: Yeah, I know.
Melanie Avalon: So eye opening to talk about-- we're talking about the real time being told how things affect you. It's like you can't escape it. You're like, “Oh, okay.” For listeners who are not familiar, continuous glucose monitor, you wear it on your skin, and it monitors your interstitial fluid to monitor your blood sugar levels in real time. Or, there's a 10-minute lag, apparently, but pretty much real time. Actually, I'm really glad you said that as well. I was just listening to an interview on Peter Attia’s podcast with, I think Gerald Schulman, something like that, I'll put a link to it in the show notes. It was the deepest dive I've ever heard into insulin resistance and what is going on there. He was putting forth the idea that really insulin resistance starts in the muscle because we have this potentially huge storage capacity in our muscles to uptake blood sugar, or uptake sugar, but when the muscles start becoming insulin resistant, then we just can't take up the carbs, basically. I really didn't appreciate the role of exercise, especially muscle depletion of glycogen and things like that, and managing insulin and health and all that until I feel like more and more recently, I'm starting to appreciate it.
Abel James: Yeah, I had to because I was running marathons, and I knew what bonking felt like. [laughs] Anyone who's done keto a little too long, also knows that feeling. I think actually, yeah, when you bounce up against the edges of this, when you really challenge your body, that's what forced me into being interested in nutrition, because I wasn't all that interested in it until I just discovered what a biochemical marvel the body is. If you just do a few things the right way, in the right timing, honoring the cycles of nature and all of that, it's incredible how our bodies respond if we just get out of our own way. we try to mitigate some of the damage, like you said, coming from modern tech, like I'm wearing blue blockers right now as well. I think it's important to recognize that the technological environment that we're in, and all of the electromagnetic radiation and interference and all these things flying through the airwaves right now. Our bodies are not used to being bombarded with 140 different Wi-Fi networks at the same time. That hasn't been well studied, but the research that I've looked into indicates that tech and just modern devices in general can be extremely damaging to our bodies or mitochondrial function, even our insulin sensitivity, or if your sleep is compromised, your health is going to fall apart. That's honestly one of the reasons we moved out of, we had lived--
I met my wife in Austin, Texas, and we lived downtown for many years. That's one of the reasons we left, is just looking at all of those different Wi-Fi networks where we were staying, I'm like, “The sleep has not been good. Let's try going up to the mountains.” Lo and behold, it does for us in most cases get a lot better when we go out to the middle of nowhere or we go out into nature, where you're not being bombarded so much. If some people want to dismiss it as pseudoscientific, I would encourage them to actually look into the literature, because there is a lot to be said about your brain growing tumors in response to the radiation it's exposed to, and it doesn't have to be from a nuclear reactor or anything, it can literally be from a cell phone.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, actually, also this week, I interviewed Mercola for his book, EMF*D.
Abel James: Oh, man. He's amazing.
Melanie Avalon: Listeners, if you want a deep, deep, deep dive into EMFs, that book has a lot.
Abel James: Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman also has done some great work there because she herself got a brain tumor.
Melanie Avalon: Who is it?
Abel James: Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman.
Melanie Avalon: Ooh, I have to look her up.
Abel James: Yeah, she's awesome. I believe that book came out, like more than a decade ago called Zapped, I want to say.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, that's her book?
Abel James: Yeah.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, cool. Okay. I'm going to go read this. I'm so jealous of you in Colorado.
Abel James: I know.
Melanie Avalon: I know. Well, I really want to move to Alaska because I love like cold, like Wim Hof does. [laughs]
Abel James: You don't have to go that far.
Melanie Avalon: I know. I'm extremist, sometimes I'm like, “Alaska.” But yeah, maybe Colorado would be better.
Abel James: The bugs are [unintelligible [00:42:12] mosquitoes are the size of hawks.
Melanie Avalon: Really?
Abel James: Oh my God.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. Even if I just pull out my phone, if I were to pull it out right now and look at the Wi-Fi networks. there's like a million and it's upsetting to me. One of the things in EMF that he talks about is how it literally affects the intracellular calcium balance of ourselves. I think that has really widespread effects on really just everything. In my apartment, I have all the crazy things. I have an EMF canopy and I have EMF-blocking pajamas, and everything's hardwired. But I do think I should probably move somewhere else.
Abel James: Yeah, you‘ve just got to do the best you can. I'm not going to say that it's a perfect utopia living out in the middle of nowhere. I did grow up in that type of environment, I'm used to it. It's definitely not for everybody. I think the point is try to do the things that you can, like you're doing, to mitigate some of those things that are around you, even if it's just one simple thing that I do is notifications are off from my phone, aside from maybe text messages. I don't keep it on my person and we're usually at home. Also, on most of these phones, I've done it on an Android and on an Apple, you can turn off the Bluetooth, if you want, you can turn off the cell basically, but continue to make calls over the Wi Fi. If you have a steady Wi-Fi connection with your phone, then you can-- I have a couple of meters that measure the radiation coming off your phone. When you turn that cell antenna off, it's a small fraction of what it was before. You're still getting some juice, but man, I plan to put out a video or two of just some of the radiation bouncing on that device, because it's pretty compelling. I've been turning off the cell antenna whenever I can for the past couple of years, at least. Can you feel a difference? It might be a placebo effect. But I do tend to feel better, at least psychologically when that stuff is mostly off. You don't have to be perfect. We're not wearing aluminum clothes and hardwiring everything out here either. We have Wi-Fi going most of the time, but you can also do things like turning it off at night, you can just get a cheap little timer to plug your router into and we've done this-- we do it sometimes, and that'll turn your router off at night. When it's not broadcasting next to your head all the time if it's close to your bedroom or whatever, that can help improve things.
Just do what you can and try to get that EMF-blocking underwear, wear the blue blockers and just do the best you can, but also being too freaked out about it, also doesn't help. I think the point is, it's not as safe as most people think it is, so we do need to treat it with degree of scrutiny and then see it as some amount of risk, but I don't think Wi-Fi is going to kill all of us or these other radiations that a lot of people are freaked out about. I think it's important to know if they're safe or not and get the heck out of there if you don't think they are. But I think there are a lot of things to be worried about and we shouldn't get too deep into any one of them because it's really easy to be paranoid and overly worried about a lot of things and that also affects our health. So, we do have to look holistically at all this.
Melanie Avalon: You think with testing with your meter, the cost benefit of running the phone off of like Wi-Fi and using Wi Fi compared to the cell, that it's probably better to err on the side of the Wi Fi?
Abel James: Yeah, I would say so. It's just you need to dig into settings, I think a little bit, whether it's Android or Apple, to enable the Wi-Fi calling thing. Also, I don't like Bluetooth headphones, I don't totally trust them, but using speakerphone or using a little dongle and plugging into that, all my stuff still is headphone jacks, because I'm a dinosaur, and I refuse to give up. Plugging in the old-fashioned way and getting it away from your brain can also be a big win. Standing back a little farther from your computer, putting your computer up on a surface, and maybe standing, so it's not on your lap. There are just little things that you can do to just-- I see technology as a little bit of a hot potato. [laughs] I think we can all be reasonable about it and not freak out too much.
Melanie Avalon: I love that. I think it's such a good mentality. Especially speaking to the paranoia, I think oftentimes people fall into different health conditions and then you just get sucked into these rabbit holes. It's because you are trying to feel better, and you want to do the right thing to feel better, but it can be really, really draining. I think especially a lot of people with gut issues will fall into the SIBO rabbit holes, and it can be really, really overwhelming and like you said spark paranoia, and then I think people often get really intense fears of food because they don't know, like, they're going to react to things or if what they're doing is helping or hurting. Yeah, it's so hard to find that balance of being okay with your choices, and still making the healthiest choices. Question, I was listening to your interview, I was introduced to you by Cynthia Thurlow, who is fabulous. I love her.
Abel James: Yeah, she's wonderful.
Melanie Avalon: I was listening to your interview on her show. Something I really identified with because I went through this as well, but you had an experience with carbon monoxide poisoning.
Abel James: Yes, it was brutal. I read that in your book, poof. This is about a year and a half ago, my wife and I had just moved to Colorado pretty recently. We were staying in a rental house that basically, they had promised to keep up, but had not followed the regulations. They didn't install carbon monoxide detectors but said that they did. The place had high ceilings, and they also didn't basically take care of the furnace, which ran the radiant heat, as well as heating the whole house, because of the way that was vented, and the way that the house just wasn't quite taken care of. While my wife and I were sleeping, we were poisoned by carbon monoxide that basically escaped from the furnace and vented up into our room. Carbon monoxide, for those who aren't familiar, which I really wasn't as familiar as I should have been before all this happened. It's odorless, it's silent, you don't really know that it's there. When you breathe it in, it displaces the oxygen in your system. You essentially start starving yourselves and then your organs and your nervous system of oxygen. You don't really know that it's happening because as it's happening, it's inhibiting your mental function.
Essentially, what happens when people start getting too much of a dose of carbon monoxide is you slowly lose consciousness and you slowly go to sleep, except you die if you stay asleep for too long. That happened to us and our dog. We just got a very concerning dose that took us many, many months to recover from. I couldn't move my head to the left or the right for a good month. I couldn't drive, it was really hard to move. It was hard to think when I tried playing guitar, which I've done professionally for decades. I couldn't. I couldn't do the things that I knew I could do. That was one of the most scary parts of my life. The worst part of it was seeing what my wife, Alyson, and what our dog went through, just kind of-- it was a really close call.
Long story short, I'd be happy to talk about some of the recovery that we did there. For anyone out there, please just make sure that if you're renting place, certainly if you own a place, RV’s, cars, wherever you are, make sure that you have a smoke detector, and a carbon monoxide detector. They're usually only 15, 20 bucks, you can get them combined. If that thing's running, make sure there's a fresh battery in it, or that it's hardwired. Once you do, if that alarm goes off, get the heck out of there, get your family out of there. We actually travel with a lot of these testing devices. We went way over the edge because of fear and pain and just how visceral that experience was, with ordering so many different air testing devices, radon gas detectors, combustible gas detectors, carbon monoxide detectors. We've been testing all this stuff, and it's incredible. It's really incredible. We've been to a few other houses where we stayed since, and the ones with gas ranges, with gas ovens, almost all of them have some level of carbon monoxide that’s seeping into your apartment as you're cooking, or even as your furnace is running, the hot water heater is running. Make sure you have these detectors. I wouldn't wish that experience on anyone.
Melanie Avalon: For me, I was in an apartment in LA that had an old-school oven with a furnace and everything. I didn't realize that the entire time I was living there, every single time I was using the oven at night, it was leaking carbon monoxide.
Abel James: Really common, by the way.
Melanie Avalon: For me, it probably wasn't the intense dose that you and your wife experienced. Instead, it was just an insidious, slow drain on me. It's like losing your vitality, and just not knowing why.
Abel James: It takes away like all of your higher functioning, and you're like, “What is happening?”
Melanie Avalon: How long were you in that environment before you realized what it was?
Abel James: It was a few days because without the detectors, at first, I thought maybe we were both getting really ill, or there was something leaking into the water because there had been trouble with the hot water with all this, and the well also. We didn't know, but it was extremely confusing. I wish I had known a little bit more about carbon monoxide or even radon. Radon gas is extremely common. Another one of those invisible ones and it won't put you out of commission right away or kill you like carbon monoxide will, but it will give you cancer. Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer. It just naturally kind of seeps out of the ground in certain areas into your house if it's not well ventilated. Even the house where we're staying right now, it doesn't have a central air system, it does have radiant heat to heat us, it doesn't have air conditioning or anything.
When we left the house for the holidays and went to my wife's family's folks down in Arizona, we weren't here for a little over a week and everything was sealed up whereas normally we have some windows open. With everything sealed up, the radon levels went from totally safe, to it's going to give you cancer levels, essentially, within just a few days. When I came back, and I looked at the levels that were on the meter, I was like, “Holy wow. Let's open some windows, this is not good.” I didn't realize how quickly that could happen. It happens at an incredible amount of houses, especially if you live anywhere in the West, there's certain areas where it's a lot worse than others. Radon detectors are more expensive but also, if you can afford it, I would just test all this stuff. You want to assume that the world is safe. I don't want people to be paranoid about it. Just a little bit of this tracking business that I'm talking about, like with your own body. If your temperature starts to go up, and then it consistently goes up the next day, it's not a good time to go for your super hardcore workout. If you're feeling off and you're at home, and you don't know if it has black mold, or if you don't know if it has carbon monoxide, radon, all these other things, that's definitely something that you don't want to be an oversight, because I also get hammered by black mold when I was in college, and that took me out of commission for a good month and I couldn't go to class or anything. That was really rough, but I didn't know what it was.
This happens to a lot of people, a lot of people, and it's really easy to think that you have everything dialed in and you've thought of everything, but a lot of times the things that get you are the ones that you're willing to overlook, or just don't really know about yet, so you don't know to have your guard up in that way.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, 100%. The apartment that I was in with the carbon monoxide also had black mold. My apartment I'm in now, so many things have happened in this apartment. There was a flood in it, and that led to mold. Then, they of course had to fix the ceilings and then they painted and I had to stay here and the fumes. Oh my God, like wiped out. Wiped me out. Then, I got robbed actually this year in this apartment as well. I'm actually really grateful that that happened because it made me realize just how important security is. Now I'm so on the security and actually because I ended up getting SimpliSafe, and they actually have a carbon monoxide-add on as well. I was like, “Yes.” That's a good way to go. Yeah, I would love to hear because you talked about how you guys did recover from that. One quick question about it. Do you think when people do go through these experiences, can they completely recover? Or, do you think that damage does occur and maybe you can never quite get back to what you were? I know that's a dismal question.
Abel James: Yeah, that’s feels like a stab in the gut a little bit, because I went through this up and down for a while. Also, seeing my wife and what she went through and health wise, we really took a big hit for six to eight solid months. We were sick. We were very much suboptimal. I didn't know. I really didn't know, if we'd ever come back, it didn't feel like I would. When that happens, when you get injured, or-- the closest thing I can compare it to is, I had a concussion, a couple of concussions that were really bad when I was younger, that's the closest thing I can compare it to. You come back from a concussion, usually, but if you have enough of them, it does start to do permanent damage. Especially when your nervous system is involved. I don't know how many mulligans you get. I think you get like one or two good concussions that are kind of free, they might not be totally free. But man, if you're living in a place that's dosing you up with carbon monoxide or black mold, or your cells aren't getting oxygen for a long period of time over time, yeah, I think it can cause serious damage. But also, do we just get damaged as we age? How much do you want to submit to, “I'm getting older and my body's falling apart?” Or, how much do you want to submit to, “I'm the sum of my past injuries.” I'll speak to the music piece because that combined with the physical strength and running and stuff like that, that kind of helped convince me that you can come back from almost anything, which is-- like I said, I was not able to play simple things on guitar or even piano that I could just play in my sleep. That continued for months. Also, you lose your conditioning. If you're in good physical athletic condition, and then you stop working out, you become deconditioned pretty quickly. That happened to me in music and in physical training.
I tried to come back too hard too fast a couple times, and that really set me back like I couldn't get out of bed. My nervous system was really struggling. I was just experiencing a lot of pain, and just lack of mental energy after I expended too much too soon. When you are coming back, know that it's more about consistency than trying to push yourself too hard because you'll get setbacks that way. The more compromised you are and the harder you try to push it, it'll backfire sometimes, so just honor that. That was my piece of humble pie.
Then, I started practicing again. I started playing music on a regular basis. I was going through my physical strength exercises with no weights at first, then I slowly added the weight back on, which came back quicker than I thought. Then, I basically got back to or even exceeded where I was strength-wise before the injury within a year probably. I haven't done everything from a musical perspective as I did in the past. But whatever I'm training up now, whatever I'm practicing, I can play, I can play again, and that's more a result of coming back from the injury and realizing that you're really the sum of your habits more than anything else. If I didn't play guitar for a couple months without the injury, I would also be totally deconditioned. I couldn't play at that time because I was still a little bit dosed up and damaged. It convinced me from musical physical strength perspective-- even doing interviews, I didn't know if I'd ever-- I used to record eight-hour long interviews in a row, sometimes more than that. Sometimes, I do that two days in a row. I didn't know if I'd ever be able to stand for one again. I came back slowly. Now, I think I did eight or nine the other day and I've been doing that for many weeks on end now.
I don't want to say back to normal because it's a different normal. I think it's better now. I'm more intentional for the skills that I want to develop and keep in my life. Definitely more humble and grateful for even being here. I see life as a different thing and you don't want to be wasting your time. You want to be involved. A lot of people want to get the FU money and then just do whatever they want. I think, especially after going through all this coming back, the thing that I missed more than anything was helping other people. I was still getting emails from people asking questions like, “How can I get my health back in line? “I'm trying to do this thing.” “I want to compete.” “I'm carrying all this extra weight.” I just couldn't help anyone, I could barely even help myself, and I just missed it so much I missed-- I hated not being there for the people who I thought I should be there for. That was such a loss.
It put me in a completely different frame of mind, and my wife has come back too and our dog came back, it took time. Then it took installing the habits that you want, again, so that you can get your chops back, whether that's your daily meditation, playing music, or acting or prewriting, sketching any of that stuff, just put it back in your life, and see how you recover, not immediately, but see how you recover within the next few months. I'd be surprised if you didn't get back to where you were or even exceed it, especially if it's something that's not physically competitive. I do think that there's something like-- these professional athletes who blow out their knee, some of them never come back in the same way. I think it's important to recognize that when that happens in your own life, that's okay. But then, maybe you're just training for a different reason, instead of like training to compete, like I said before, for the best time to be the strongest ever, or just competition in general, train for longevity, train for your mental health, train for whatever reason you want to in your daily life, that that gives you meaning. It doesn't have to be something that comes with all these stars and all of these awards at the end, and all of these banners or whatever. A lot of times, the best things you'll do in your life are the small simple things. If you're willing to do those, and you're able to after you come back from an injury like this, I think you really can come back from almost anything.
Then there's the spiritual way of looking at this is, are we our bodies? Or, are we something more, and does that something more have power over our bodies to help them heal, to help them create whatever life you want to? Miracles have happened in my own life and in front of my eyes. I believe that the placebo effect isn't something that we should just brush away. It's something that we should try to harness with our own faith and spirituality. I'm not a diehard adherent of any religion. We don't really show up that way, but I think it's important to put some meaning behind this and try to think about why we're all chasing after health to begin with.
Melanie Avalon: I love all of that so much. Yeah, it's so true. Maybe if a person experiences a health issue or physical injury, even if they don't ever exactly get back to 100% on a cellular physical level of where they were before, they can get new things that they never would have received on the mindset side of things, and the growth and the new habits and the priorities and the gratitude. I think for me, and all my challenges, I would not have this show or I would not be doing what I was doing if I hadn't experienced health issues that made me want to just find answers and just read all the things and find the people and share what I learned and what I experienced with others. I think everything definitely has a purpose and amazing, good things can come from it. I love that you said, yeah, the placebo effect, I'm fascinated by it. It's the perfect example of how our mind and our thoughts and perspective of everything can literally affect ourselves on a cellular level. I love it. Switching topics a little bit. Like I said, you did release Designer Babies, your poetry book. What made you decide to write this?
Abel James: It was a coping strategy. I didn't think the world was going in a good direction a few years ago. I don't know when exactly it was, but it just felt things were getting better for a minute, maybe in like the early 2010s. It was a really exciting time, as I'm sure you remember, in alternative health and all of these ancestral health movements and paleo and wonderful books coming out and all this stuff, and people getting the message, losing weight, getting their health back, performing again, whatever. Then it's just things get hairy. The top down, powers keep calling this progress, where it's like, I don't know, who's steering this thing? You look at our health and the lack of free speech, that's-- the lack of free expression on platforms and the censorship and shadow banning has been happening to us for years. It's gotten way worse, though. To some degree, when that started happening and I realized that I couldn't say some of my beliefs without being taken down from the internet or existence or attacked, [laughs] I wanted to funnel it into art maybe, to help cope and to help, like make sense of a lot of this stuff.
I've written music and songs and poetry for a long time. It's one of the ways that I process the rough stuff in the world and process feelings and trauma. Also, it allows you to encapsulate these little memories. I've always loved experimenting with different media, in different forms of communication, different forms of getting the word out there. On my podcast, Fat Burning Man, with my Fat Burning Man pants on, I'm not swearing, I'm making it family friendly. I'm talking about things that are, for the most part, nonpolitical, and I'm not trying to hopefully be too overbearing with my belief systems or anything like that. Whereas in this book, if people wanted to go a little bit deeper, and hear some of my perspectives, which is some of them are true and true stories or whatever. Some of them are just kind of like fun little creative exercises, think pieces, or whatever. But I didn't really intend to put out a poetry book or a book like that, it more just-- I woke up in the morning, and these little rhymes would come out. I realized that I could get away with saying a lot more if I were able to rhyme it, so I decided to do that.
The response to putting out that book was really interesting, because it did extremely well internationally although it's been banned and unavailable in certain countries. The people who have been able to get it have really enjoyed it for the most part, it seems like they get the jokes. I thought it might kick the hornet's nest, because I do go out on a limb and say some maybe politically unsettling things in there or personally unsettling or whatever. I hope it's like a little bit of a grownup version of Shel Silverstein or Roald Dahl, who were massive influences on me when I was coming up. I think you can put a lot of meaning and a lot of kind of processing of emotions in a few well-thought-out words and stanzas and songs. That's what I tried to do. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Melanie.
Melanie Avalon: No, I loved it. Where the Sidewalk Ends was my favorite book growing up, and I got senses of that. I was wondering if that had been one of yours influences growing up because I got a lot of that vibe.
Abel James: Totally, in more than one way because Shel Silverstein, and I didn't know this when I was a child. He was one of my favorites. My whole family just loved-- We had a couple of his records and just listened to him all the time. He was a very talented songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist as well. He wrote A Boy Named Sue. He wrote a lot of songs for Johnny Cash and country superstars and all sorts of stuff. He's one of those people who had a number of different careers. Also, he was an incredible cartoonist, and his draftsmanship was on point. He actually put in the time and skills, he wasn't a faker. That really inspires me. It's interesting though, because you look a lot of these people's careers and Where the Sidewalk Ends is just incredible. I do think it's a shame that for as many people who know about that, they're not really familiar with some of the deeper or more mature work that he put out later.
Melanie Avalon: I was not familiar with any of that. Wow.
Abel James: He wrote for Playboy for years. He was a wacky, wacky dude, a lot of his writing and his cartoons. I believe he did political cartooning for a long time, as well. I'm just fascinated by that because why do artists create? I don't know, but they do. There are a few who really stand out. Even if some of the work appears frivolous, I'm not sure that that it's as frivolous as it appears.
Melanie Avalon: I am personally fascinated by language, words, vernacular, everything. I'm just obsessed with it, probably to a very intense degree. In your book, some of them are long, but then some are very, very short. I love things like that, where it's super short, but you relay so much in that tiny little amount, like the one Watch for Dinosaurs. [laughs] It's only a few lines. You need to know the title to know what happened in the few lines that happened. I thought it was brilliant. Listeners, get that. Also, I started to have really random questions about it. Did you choose the typewriter looking font as a commentary on not being technology?
Abel James: Kind of. I wanted to play to our weaknesses a little bit. If you look at The Wild Diet, that's a wonderfully traditionally published book, we used a big publisher, and there's the hardcopy, and the dust cover and all this stuff, and it's got nice pictures on the inside. Then self-publishing this book, we wanted to play to our weaknesses, so it's just got one silly cartoon on the front with a lot of symbolism in it that my wife did, and then just a super simple typewriter-type font, because I think especially in this modern Instagram, Snapchat, TikToky type world, it's all just like flash bang, instant gratification and it does the work for you. It's a lazy way of consuming content. It's that reality TV, quick editing, right in your face type style, obnoxious commercial. I wanted this book to be a little bit-- It's got a moat around it. If you want to get to what I wrote, then you have to do the work and read it. I'm not using any flashbangs, I want it to be in your words, in your voice, it's meant to be read aloud and kind of make you more of a participant as you're going through the content in the book, instead of force feeding you everything, if that makes sense.
Melanie Avalon: Wait. I've never thought about that before that when it's in the written form. Yeah, you become the person who materializes it into its manifestation, you're not looking at a finished product. Oh, wow, that is so cool. Yeah, you have a lot of poems in it about social media, and that whole world. Personally, social media is partly the bane of my existence. I don't know. Like my sister, she's so confident. She's the selfie type, and all the selfies and all the pictures, and it just really stresses me out a lot. I know I'm a creator, an actor, I love creating things. I know my audience loves it. I love sharing the information, so it's this constant struggle of like how to engage with social media, in a healthy way for both me and my audience. How do you do that?
Abel James: I've taken a year off a few times from social media, and the internet, actually. That gave me a lot of perspective on what it's for, and what it's not for. A lot of people are being taken advantage of, by the way that technology and social media operates now. I think we're all familiar or most of us are familiar with the mechanisms of that, but we're still falling prey to it. Taking time away, though, made me realize, “Well, why do you log on? Are you bored?” No, I don't want to log on if I'm bored. I don't want to like hop on social media for that reason. What is it? What's the most meaningful thing that's come out of social media? Well, after running multiple online businesses for a decade now, social media is almost useless for our business, it makes almost no income, it drives almost no purchases. That's largely because we don't really do paid traffic. A lot of people do and that's their business, that's okay. Okay, so it's not, it's not really for making money. It's not because we're bored. What is it? It's for connecting with people, that was the original promise. That's how I go on now, is I see every single basically, social media platform as a simple AOL Instant Messenger type app, because none of them are more innovative at this point. None of them are doing anything interesting or new or cool in my mind. We don't really need anything more than AOL Instant Messenger was like back in the 90s, when I chatted on it with my friends in elementary school and stuff.
I'll hop on, I will check the messages that people have sent to me and sometimes the comments, and I'll respond to them, and try to get that connection off of social media as quickly as possible and onto email or phone or virtual connection, or even meeting in person, and then doing our work that way completely outside of social media. With some rare exceptions, I don't look at the feed, I'm not looking at notifications generally, I'm looking at messages. I'm looking at people, I'm trying to find the people there, the real ones. There are a lot of fake ones, especially when you're a big influencer, you've got these big accounts or whatever, you get all sorts of crap sent to you. You have to sift through like, “What is going on here? Is this a real person? Is this a foreign government trying to take advantage of us? Or, are they trying to hack us here? Is this an actual good guest for a podcast?” Whatever else, navigating through all that takes a lot of mental energy, and navigating through the hateful comments, which come from, I don't want to say that they're cowards, but there are a lot of things that have been said to me and I'm sure you and many of us out there, often anonymously on the internet, that would never be said to us in person.
I think that's very unnatural for us as humans and as social beings. We have to understand that we're in dangerous waters anytime we log on, because that's kind of the mentality. They're 13-year-olds just posting stuff for shock value and hating on you for shock value or whatever. There are serious haters out there too, but they're generally suffering a lot more than the people who are creating. There's a lot to wade through. I think if there's a way to just not be on social media that works for you, do that. Do that. Then connect with your friends, your real friends, not Facebook friends. Connect with your friends and your family and the people who matter to you in a meaningful way outside of social media, because almost nothing meaningful happens on social media. There are no useful conversations most of the time, people aren't really learning anything anymore. In order to learn, we need to go deeper. You don't get that from scrolling through feeds or scrolling through photos. If you're interested in catching up with how someone who went to your college, one of your friends or roommates or whatever, how they're doing and what their family's up to, look up their name, don't scroll through your feed until three days later, you come across something that they said or posted. Don't use feeds anymore. Use all these platforms to find people again and try to humanize these connections.
Melanie Avalon: So much of that resonated. Actually, the exception for me where I have found a lot of value is my own personal Facebook group that I have for my audience. I think the format of Facebook groups, despite what might be going on with Facebook censoring and all of that, that aside, I think the format is more conducive to conversations and because I don't really have even rules for the group, except you have to be kind, you have to be open to what everybody says, and then you can't just randomly promote content, like you have to have conversations. I've found it to be a really, really wonderful place. But I have had to, at least for me, work on how do I engage with it still timewise in a healthy manner? When I first started, I was like, “Oh, I can read every post and every comment.” Now, I'm like, “Nope.” You don't have to engage with absolutely everything. Actually, one of my favorite short poems that you had was, Please Don't Call Me An Influencer. Can I read it, it's only two lines.
Abel James: Yeah, please.
Melanie Avalon: For listeners, it's “Please don't call me an influencer, nothing even rhymes with influencer.” I thought that was brilliant. I was like, “Oh, he understands,” all of the stuff that that goes on there. Did you watch The Social Dilemma when it came out? One of the biggest takeaways from that that I think a lot of people took was something that I had already been doing. It's something you already touched on, but it was the massive relief and freedom that you feel when you turn off all the notifications. That has had one of the biggest effects on me. Listeners, it might not seem like a big deal. I learned recently why this is so distressing. There's an app, and then you see the little number and the red circle saying that you have notifications, it's the equivalent from an evolutionary perspective of being tapped on the shoulder and not knowing if it's something that wants to eat you, you feel like you have to address it. It can instigate the fight or flight response. I was like, “Oh, that makes so much sense.” Going on my computer and turning off all the little red notifications, turning off all alerts, I make it so that I have to personally go engage with something and see if there's notifications, like it's not going to just pop up in my life. I loved that.
You were talking about the importance of real connections. That is something else that I've really, really experienced is, especially in this world, like you said, being an influencer, there's so many brands, there's so many people, it's hard to know what is real. It's overwhelming. They say that how many relationships can we actually sustain in our brain? Isn't it like 300?
Abel James: 150, supposedly.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, it's not many.
Abel James: Or, those are like real connection, Dunbar's number. It's not in the thousands, that's for sure, like most people's Facebook friends, right?
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. We can only literally sustain a certain amount of real relationships in our head. That's something that's super important to me is finding those real relationships and maintaining them and forming an actual connection in group. I'm dying to know, so when you went off social media, you went off completely for like a year?
Abel James: Yeah. I had a team who was helping to keep everything going. I think we did have some members of our team, if there were questions coming through there, basically, I'd be responding to a couple of things here and there. But I was not on these platforms as a consumer in any way logging in, or whatever. It's not like I was doing it super hardcore. It was more just like we only had-- let's see the first time 20 gigabytes of upload and download internet when we were living in the Smoky Mountains. No streaming, I was still doing my video streaming show, so that ate up all of our data and more, so I couldn't watch YouTube or really use social media or video streaming. I just didn't miss it. It's like when you don't have Instagram, you don't use Instagram and you have all of that time back. [laughs] When you don't have any of these platforms, you have all of that time back and all of that mental energy of being tapped on your shoulder and all these people messaging you. Like you said, every time there's a new notification, you kind of go, [gasp] “Is that a threat? Am I going to be eaten by this tiger?” When that goes away, it's like all of a sudden, you write a book, or a couple books, you create a podcast. That one year later, let's see 2017 or 2018, when I wasn't using Instagram and social media, I created over 400 different virtual reality experiences, music videos, adventure tours, we traveled to maybe two dozen different states just going on these different road trips and all this stuff. I didn't miss social media at all. I saw so many friends, I saw so much family, there were so many hugs and real connections with people and good times. Why would I ever want to log on again?
Now, that said, I do log on, sometimes. If it weren't for our Facebook group, which we've had, for 10 years now, if it weren't for that, I have really seriously thought about getting off Facebook altogether many, many times and all these different networks. Where I am though, is I'm still waiting a little bit for the alternative because what I don't want is people who are out there who do need help or want to connect, or could benefit from what we create, I don't want to lose them. I want to be there if they're looking for us on Facebook and Instagram and whatever else. I don't want to disappear completely. I personally do not want to spend my time there. Balancing that is really difficult, but I do believe that as soon as there's a viable alternative, or a few viable alternatives to Facebook and Instagram and TikTok and whatever, they'll come and eat their lunch the same way that Myspace disappeared and Friendster and all of these other ones that were everything back in the day. Pets.com. Someday, Facebook will be Pets.com I do believe, because they've just burned too much trust, I really resent honestly having my group there because I know that we're not able to say all the things that we want to say, and really communicate with each other in a fully transparent way. It's still useful. Yes, we can share things and communicate to some degree, but I'm waiting for some alternative where we can actually say things that we believe in, no matter what word it is, no matter what medical subject it may be about, we need to be able to ask questions, and communicate.
Right now, we just can't do that, honestly, on any social media platform that I'm aware of. Even I don't know, maybe Parler or some of the ones that are branding themselves as free speech centric. I don't know. There are a lot of promises out there, but when the winner is clear, we're all going to flock there because I don't trust YouTube, I don't trust Facebook, I don't trust Instagram. I never will again, either. They've burned our trust so hard so many times, that I just can't wait for some really positive platform with people behind it who are good people instead of these-- well, the Zuckerburglars is what I call them in my book. We don't need all these billionaires surveilling us anymore and trying to take advantage of our connections with our families and trying to mine our photos of our grandmother for data that they can sell to advertisers. We just don't need that anymore. We all need to figure out a way to build something better. I've talked to a lot of people who might be, and whenever the winter is clear, we're going to get the heck off of Facebook and go to wherever the party is better.
Melanie Avalon: Do you think that that next thing would be something platform-wise similar to Facebook, but it would just be run by “good people?” Is that the difference, like the people running it?
Abel James: Well, that's the thing. Facebook copied, they really didn't invent any features. Most of the social media companies and their inventors are thieves. Well-compensated thieves who have better legal teams than the people who are smaller than them. Imagine if there were a social media network or some sort of platform that weren't run by a monster who is taking advantage of you. I would log on to that for sure.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, gotcha. Have you experienced really intense censorship of the content that you've created? You mentioned YouTube.
Abel James: So much so that I'm really careful-- I'm sure it frustrates some people that I speak generally, because I'm not using certain words that I know will trigger the algorithm or do something, even on other people's shows. Yeah, that's been true since honestly, 2014, but it got a lot worse in 2017 and 2018, where literally, we would upload things that would be disappeared, and that's happened many times with written word, with audio, not so much with audio, but definitely with video. There have been instances documented by us, by the people around us of some really wacky business going on. Which at this point, at first people are just like, “Oh, you must be some sort of crazy conspiracy theorist type influencer. That's why you're being censored,” or whatever. It's like, really? Let's take a look at my work and my track record and see where I'm coming from. I don't know, maybe I am crazy. Maybe we're making all of this up. I don't think so. Once you experience not being able to say words online at the same time that you're not able to visit your family or go outside or go to conferences, if you're prohibited from communicating with people, that is a serious, serious problem. It's a serious problem.
It's one that we'll have to make better, but it's really hard to navigate around to be perfectly honest, because I would love to say explicitly, exactly where I stand about a lot of the things that are going down in the world right now. But I don't feel comfortable doing so, as many people do not feel comfortable doing so online, I feel like that's part of the plan, is to take away our ability to express ourselves and really think deeply about things and explore ideas together. That is all being taken away. Unfortunately, I think it's part of a dark plan, but it's totally not going to work because you can't keep good ideas down forever. Whoever is censoring things and trying to keep some ideas propped up, and other ones from never, ever seeing the light of day, whoever is pulling the strings up there, that's way too much work and they're not smart enough to outsmart all of us forever, because humans are just way too beautiful and connected and psychic, I think, in a lot of ways. Some people have superpowers, and you can't take all of those away from everybody. You can try to make us all go online and censor us for a while. I believe the ideas will only get stronger during this time because-- it's been almost a year now and I can't even tell-- hundreds, maybe thousands of people over the past year, I've connected with who are new friends, old friends, family, just people, in Thailand, in Indonesia, in South America, in Peru, Colombia, it's just amazing, what we're able to do. If we're not on the record, publicly appearing all the time, then you can kind of say whatever you want. You might be surveilled about it, but we can still say whatever we want, we can do whatever we want, for the most part.
My main point of all this is for mental health, it's super important not to get too caught up in the consumption side of this because if you do go into just consuming content online, you are being manipulated, you are being indoctrinated, brainwashed, whatever you want to call it. Most of the platforms are out there on record saying this that, yes, they're going to say that certain ideas stand and other ones do not, that certain people are able to have platforms and other people are not. If you're not one of the chosen ones, then basically you're going to be scrubbed from the internet, which has happened to a lot of our friends. It’s like Mercola is still out there. Josh Axe had his Facebook page taken down. I think it's back up. I know Robb Wolf has talked a lot about censorship. He was censored so much that I didn't even see anything for him for a year even though I was following him on all these different platforms, because I hadn't even realized what was going on. It's pretty sinister, but if you're willing to just operate around it, we all chose to be here at this time, for whatever reason, then we can adapt and we can let it make us stronger, and hopefully be thankful for it in retrospect, because they're dropping the ball big time, and they're not going to get our trust back.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I know it can seem conspiratorial, but it's happening.
Abel James: Yeah, exactly. It sounds conspiratorial, but that doesn't mean that it's not happening, and if it's happening, is it a conspiracy? Yes, it is. It is conspiracy.
Melanie Avalon: Not related to this, related to political things, I was constantly finding that because I was looking at different “political conspiracies” right now. People will attach the word ‘conspiracy.’
Abel James: They don't know what it means.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I was thinking about the power of that word because all you have to do is-- so if a person has an idea and they voice this idea, if you attach the word ‘conspiracy,’ then it just dismisses the credibility of the idea. Then I was thinking what you just said, I was like, but what if that's the actual truth? Is it still a conspiracy, then? Well, technically, maybe.
Abel James: Yeah, but It's not a theory. It's an actual conspiracy. [laughs] When people say the word ‘conspiracy theory,’ or the phrase, they're saying it in a way that it could never exist. That a conspiracy is something that could only ever be a theory. The original use of that word means that, the theory is the critical part of that, you take the theory away and this is a conspiracy. That's exactly what it is.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, it's just so powerful. Even for me, the past few weeks, I've been working with like a third-party established PR company, because we wanted to do branding and stuff like that. They were brainstorming content with me. I was like, “Okay, well, can we write things about intermittent fasting and all this?” They're like, “No, we can't really talk about anything health related, because then you won't rank in Google News.” I was like, “Um, okay.”
Abel James: Yeah, they took us off of Google. We had millions of people coming to our websites, and poof, they took it. Similar with a lot of platforms, you're not allowed to-- it's like, I don't even say the V word. I don't even use the C word. I don't use a lot of these words that are-- but that doesn't stop you from not being able to exist. They still try to scrub you for some reason. If you're in health and have been talking about it for a long time, then you're just not able to talk about it, but all the politicians are and all of the Bill Gateses and billionaires are able to talk about whatever they want to, but we're not. I don't know, I just think that that's-- I didn't vote for that. Especially, we're in unique positions as people who have been creating in the world of health for a long time, you and I and a lot of the people around us, but who wants that? Do you really want us gone? If you do, why? I'd love to know.
Melanie Avalon: I don't want to jinx it. Something I was grateful for and am grateful for thus far is--
Abel James: The bait and switch?
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, and just like you said, people just basically disappearing with all their content. I think my audience is at a point where it wasn't big enough for it to be taken down, but it was still substantial enough to have a substantial audience. Knock on wood. I wasn't super intensely affected, but I saw so many people that I respect, like you, Robb Wolf, things like that really getting hit hard.
Abel James: Why? That's a question that I've never gotten an answer to from any platform out there. I feel if you're going to take away our free speech, and literally take away our words, and our ability to communicate with our communities, our families and all the rest of it, you're taking words out of our mouth, and making us disappear. They need to be held responsible for that, every single word that they try to inhibit, especially someone who has a public platform. If they're trying to prevent the public from seeing someone's work or what they have to say, how is that okay, in any way? Who is deciding? How long do we let this go on until we really start to get serious about this? Yes, Rob, and I, and you and a lot of other people out there will continue creating, no matter what, I'm pretty sure. At some point, the platforms really do need to be held accountable for trying to disappear people from not just the internet, but from public consciousness in general, from the world, because if Rob and I and all these other people aren't able to go to conferences and speak like we have been for many, many years, and we're also not allowed to speak anywhere online, like I said, that's a big problem. I'm not just kind of, or hopefully people don't think that I'm just crying about it and complaining as someone who creates on these platforms. I really feel the most pain when I try to log on and check someone's channel for what they've uploaded recently, and it's gone. Someone who I've trusted for many years, someone who's a doctor or researcher or is legit, has been disappeared once again, from one of these platforms. Why? Probably because they were trying to help people be healthy. But you're not allowed to help people be healthy anymore, you're only allowed to talk about how sick everyone is and how bad everything is, and how the only answer is going to come from the top-down government that solves all of our problems.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, it is, like you just said. It's really fascinating that it's a lot of the health topics that are censored.
Abel James: You'd think that they would matter more than ever right now, but nope.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, it's really, really disconcerting. Like you could tell, it was like black and white. I used to Google certain health topics and everything that would come up, especially because the people talking about it most were people like Robb Wolf and stuff like that. Those are the type of sites that would come up or like Josh Axe, and now it's five main helpline, five main sites that you have to keep clicking or go back to Google Scholar, which is--
Abel James: It doesn't mean that the information there is true, because it's not. I look those things up sometimes and I'm just like, “Wow, how are they not completely legally liable for all this misinformation that's right here on the front page of Google?”
Melanie Avalon: I know. It's crazy. Okay, two really quick, rapid fire questions for you.
Abel James: Yeah. Do it.
Melanie Avalon: Just from reading your book, the poetry. Have you eaten crickets?
Abel James: Yes, I have eaten crickets, and I do not recommend it.
Melanie Avalon: [laughs]
Abel James: You’ll be picking legs out of your mouth for half an hour. It's grim.
Melanie Avalon: Okay. I was just really curious. Second was, I'm dying to know if the fluffernutter marshmallow story is true? Is that really how you wooed your wife?
Abel James: [laughs] Oh, well, that's one of the stories that I guess is mostly true. Where the fluffernutter is kind of symbolic, but she also literally didn't know what a fluffernutter was. When we first got together. I introduced to her. I was raised on fluffernutters, to some degree, they were at least out there part of the public thing. But also, I'm from New Hampshire. it sounds like, she's from California, Arizona, and she just didn't get the fluffernutter memo.
Melanie Avalon: I'm dying to know, was this fluffernutter, was it the paleo version, or was it--?
Abel James: [laughs] Yeah, there's not really a great way to recreate marshmallow fluff that I've learned, peanut butter is absolutely one of the best. It's so good tasting to almost every animal out there. I don't know why it's a little bit bad for us, but it is. Then marshmallow fluff, of course, is terrible for us. It represents to me, I had to put on a little bit of a show on the dating scene, and we all do, I think. It's referencing the fluffernutter to me symbolizes BS. You have a peanut butter sandwich and then you put this ridiculous marshmallow fluff stuff inside of it. The peanut butter sandwich is real, the fluff is not, if that makes sense.
Melanie Avalon: I've never had one. now I'm thinking about if I should.
Abel James: [laughs] You should probably have. Like I said, marshmallow fluff is not in any way good for you. You should probably have a vegemite sandwich and a marshmallow fluff sandwich before you croak, it's a good bucket list thing.
Melanie Avalon: I do wonder because there's a lot of keto marshmallow collagen-- keto collagen recipes, but I wonder if there's any fluff versions of that. I'm going to have to--
Abel James: I don’t know. If I eat sandwiches these days, it's going to be an open face sandwich for the most part. It would be hard to make a fluffernutter. But one of my post-run favorite little treats is a piece or a couple pieces of toast with peanut butter on one side, and then cream cheese on the other side. For whatever reason, I really like that. That's kind of like a fluffernutter.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, I have to ask, what type of toast do you do with the grains?
Abel James: Yeah, that's a great question. We've experimented with a bunch of different kinds, but my wife almost always has a sourdough starter going in the kitchen. She'll make up some loaves sometimes. Oftentimes, we'll go for-- I'm not really like brand loyal, but there are a handful of companies out there that make sprouted and sourdough breads with ancient grains, like red fife wheat and legumes or millets, sometimes it'll be spelt-- I'm not completely gluten free all the time. I appreciate the ancient grains, and we'll cook with them sometimes. It's going to be an old-school toast. It's not generally either going to be one of those more recent, highly processed gluten-free breads. You can find a lot of those out there, some of the paleo breads are okay, but I don't know, they taste like baking powder, baking soda or something, a lot of them and they're really expensive. A lot of times we just like making our own bread or getting the-- Also Ezekiel, some of those really hardy health food store breads that have been around for a long time, some of those can be useful, too. I like the feeling kinds of breads more than the really kind of crusty or white flour type French breads.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I really love hearing you say that. Actually, recently in my group, somebody posted about bread, and they were saying that they wanted to know if they were alone in that they brought back bread after not having it for a long time and they felt fine. Then they were saying that, like, was it possible that maybe they could have bread in their life and the comments, there were so many comments of people experiencing the same thing. It was really interesting.
Abel James: Also, it's about finding the right food producer or company for you because, like I said before, there is something in modern bread that really messes me up. I don't know if it's the dough conditioners or whatever, but there's something that does have a negative effect in traditional flour for me in modern wheats in general. These old school wheats and old school grains, where the bread is prepared in the old-fashioned way going through every step that it needs to go through the fermentation or the sprouting or whatever it is, those things can really work for some people and as long as-- the point is that you shouldn't be overdoing it on breads are living off of breads and having cereal for breakfast, and then a big ol’ hoagie for lunch, and then pasta for dinner. That's the real problem. I think if you're having some toast every once in a while, sourdough, and some-- we like making our own pancakes, I think you can have a lot of fun with your carbs but we definitely tried to kit carbs with fiber, or with some like whole source of carbs, like less easily digested so you're not getting the high glycemic effect on your blood sugar of just eating a whole bunch of white bread.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I love that. Well, thank you so much. This has been absolutely incredible. You said you had a lot of time and I milked it completely.
Abel James: It's great. I'm so happy that I had the time today.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, no, this has been absolutely incredible. For listeners. I'll put links in the show notes to the books. Definitely get The Wild Diet, definitely get the Designer Babies, the poetry. It's so amazing, so incredible. This is an ironic question, but as far as all the social media stuff, how can listeners best [laughs] follow your work?
Abel James: I'm still out there, believe it or not. Yeah, if you want to find my podcast, that's called Fat Burning Man, and my website is fatburningman.com. We have more than almost 400 episodes there for free with transcriptions, and all that. Then Fat Burning Man across social media channels, or Abel, James, A-B-E-L, James, you can usually pull me up, usually. [laughs] The easiest place to find me is definitely going to be fatburningman.com. Then the books are called, as you mentioned, The Wild Diet, Designer Babies Still Get Scabies and our other company called Wild Superfoods, and we've got a new app called The Wild Challenge just about ready to come out. We've got a lot of spinning plates, but if you want to find us, we're there.
Melanie Avalon: I love it. For listeners, I will put links to all of that in the show notes. Again, the show notes will be at melanieavalon.com/wilddiet. It's funny, I've been thinking this whole time, I always put a full transcript in the show notes, but I'm like, “Do I need to like edit this transcript so it doesn't get censored?” [laughs]
Abel James: I was pretty good. Ironically, they usually don't let you talk about censorship or shadow banning. It's like demoted as soon as you say those words. [laughs] How many words-- my list of words that I'm avoiding is so long at this point that I'm partially giving up. I'm not giving up on the main ones, but some of the other ones that I look out for or whatever.
Melanie Avalon: Do I have to know what these words are?
Abel James: Yeah, well, we can talk offline, maybe.
Melanie Avalon: Off record. [laughs] All right, well-- oh, wait, sorry, the last question that I ask every single guest on the show and it's just because I realized more and more each day how important mindset is surrounding everything. What is something that you're grateful for?
Abel James: Every kick in the butt is a step forward. After a while, not immediately, but after a while, I'm thankful for the setbacks and the rock bottoms in my life. Like I said, it takes a while.
Melanie Avalon: I love it. Well, thank you so much. I am so grateful for your work, for what you're doing, for absolutely everything. I look forward to the future and the future platforms. I'm sure I'll see you there on those future platforms.
Abel James: Absolutely. We'll keep on truckin’. Melanie, thank you so much for having me.
Melanie Avalon: All right. Thanks, Abel. Bye.
Abel James: Bye.