Overcoming Substance Abuse, Depression, and Diabetes | Adam Sud | Better Man Podcast Ep. 068

Overcoming Substance Abuse, Depression, and Diabetes | Adam Sud | Better Man Podcast Ep. 068

In 2012, Adam Sud lived a completely different life than he does today: 

He weighed 350 lbs, had diabetes, and was at risk for heart disease. He suffered from substance abuse disorder, depression, and anxiety. And on August 21, 2012, he attempted to end his life… 

Well, his failed suicide attempt made him realize something: 

Despite the emotional and spiritual pain that coursed through him, he discovered that his life was worth living. Plus, he realized that nothing was wrong with him… and that his substance abuse was exactly what his biology wanted him to do. 

This realization led Adam to trying a series of 30-day experiments on himself to intentionally reorganize his life. And to prove to himself that he was worthy of feeling fully alive. 

The result? 

Adam kicked his substance abuse to the curb. In 5 months, he reversed his diabetes, heart disease, E.D., and mental health struggles. And he eventually became a nutritional and behavioral health expert. 

In today’s show, Adam shares his inspirational story, goes into nitty-gritty detail on how he changed the course of his life, and gives practical advice on what to do when you see someone struggling through life like he was. 

This has been one of my favorite interviews in the history of the Better Man Podcast. And I can’t wait for you to hear Adam’s empowering story. 

In this episode, Adam and I discuss…

  • Why substance abuse feels like a form of self-care for those suffering from it 
  • How to actually help someone struggling with substance abuse (and why our first instinct to help backfires) 
  • Why your environment, not your willpower or discipline, is the most effective way to elicit positive change in your life 

And more! 

Aren’t feeling fully alive or have deep-rooted traumas stifling your happiness today? 

Listen Now.

The Better Man Podcast is an exploration of our health and well-being outside of our physical fitness, exploring and redefining what it means to be better as a man; being the best version of ourselves we can be, while adopting a more comprehensive understanding of our total health and wellness. I hope it inspires you to be better!

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Show Highlights with Adam Sud

  • 3 things Adam focused on in 2012 to reverse the course of his life—at the time, he weighed 350 lbs, struggled with substance abuse, and battled mental health problems (3:05) 
  • How reverse engineering feeling fully alive saved Adam from substance abuse (and how this also reversed his diabetes, heart disease, and E.D. in 5 months) (5:02) 
  • Why thinking of overeating as full-blown substance abuse can actually change your habit before it kills you (8:09) 
  • The “Replacement” strategy that helped Adam overcome his addictions (and how to use this to build better habits) (10:54) 
  • Why is it so hard to be happy and healthy if you already know what to do? Here’s an answer from an evolutionary psychologist… (15:20)
  • The “One More Day” secret for helping yourself (or a loved one) overcome substance abuse disorder and mental health problems (30:26) 
  • The powerful “caretaker to your body” mindset shift that effortlessly drives you to make healthier choices (33:26) 
  • Don’t like the direction your life’s heading in? Here’s how 30-day experiments can give you a completely new life in mere months (36:45) 
  • The deceptive “Pleasure Trap” that tricks you into making self-destructive decisions that derail your health and happiness (40:12) 
  • The weird “Blue Zone” areas around the world filled with people over 100 years old that can reverse disease, shed fat, and lift your mood (49:43) 
  • Why you don’t need discipline to make healthier decisions (and why your environment needs discipline instead) (52:33) 
  • Know someone struggling with substance abuse? Asking this question will actually help them (55:46) 
  • Why asking for help as a man takes more strength than trying to figure it out yourself (1:18:13)

Resources mentioned in this episode: 

  1. Adam’s Website: Want to check out more of Adam’s interviews or read his research study, Investigating the Effects of Nutrition on Addiction Recovery Outcomes? Visit his website here: https://AdamSud.com 
  2. Follow Adam on Instagram: If you want to keep up with what Adam’s up to, follow him on Instagram @plantbasedaddict
Episode 068: Overcoming Substance Abuse, Depression, and Diabetes – Adam Sud – Transcript

Dean Pohlman: Hey, guys. Justine Welcome back to the Batman podcast. Today I I’m joined by Adam Saad. He is a nutritional and behavioral health expert. He has a really incredible story that he’s going to share with us. And he is now adviser to many really, really, really special people. I don’t know how else to say it, but he’ll tell you about that.

Dean Pohlman: And I’m really excited to have him on. So, Adam, thank you for joining me.

Adam Sud: Oh, man, I’m excited to be here, excited to have this conversation. Thank you so much for bringing me on.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. So, you know, and I told you before at the beginning of the call, but Adam is vegan, and so he’s going to be he’s going to be my vegan ambassador for the day. I’m going to ask him all the questions about veganism that most of us have and help us clear up some misconceptions and maybe help understand how we can do a vegan better, better.

Dean Pohlman: But your big you know, a few years ago, before you got into this, you were £150 heavier.

Adam Sud: Yeah. So back in 2012, I was at my heaviest and I was around £350 at the time. And it was quite an ordeal. I mean, I was dealing with a lot of things then. I was dealing with substance use disorder. I was, you know, a food addiction. I was dealing with depression and anxiety and several chronic health conditions that I didn’t know that I had.

Adam Sud: They hadn’t been diagnosed at the time.

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. And so there’s so many things that you were going through then. And then you decided you were going to turn things around and you focused on you decided you’re going to focus on three things, right?

Adam Sud: Yeah. So interestingly, in 2012, on August 21st of 2012, that was like my turning point. I we talk about later we’ll get into I’ll do a quick backstory here. Yeah, I suffered and struggled with substance use disorder, which is what is the accurate terminology for addiction? Mm hmm. I was abusing stimulants, I was abusing opiates, and I was abusing food.

Adam Sud: And by August 21st, 2012, my life had just become too painful a place to want to show up and be present for. Didn’t feel like a safe, secure, hopeful place to be in my future. Felt like an increasingly more unsafe, insecure and and painful place to be. And when you live in that reality long enough, tomorrow is just something you just don’t want to be a part of.

Adam Sud: So I attempted to suicide on August 21st, 2012. I survived and I checked into rehab facility. Within two weeks of that, and within the first 72 hours of rehab, I was diagnosed with type two diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, erectile dysfunction, chemically induced bipolar disorder, suicidal depression, anxiety disorder, sleep disorder, attention deficit disorder, and obsessive compulsive personality disorder.

Adam Sud: And I was put on a cabinets worth of medication for life. That was the intention. And the whole time I was being emphasized, you have got to stop using drugs. The only way for your life to get better is if you can focus every day around the attention of just don’t use again. And I don’t know why, but it rubbed me the wrong way.

Adam Sud: Mm hmm. I decided what I wanted to do when I was going to sit on an quest to do was to intentionally redesign, kind of reverse engineer the experience of feeling fully alive. What I wanted to do is be the architect of a life that felt like such a hopeful, exciting and safe place to be that by doing so, youth would be less necessary and life would be more of a place that I wanted to show up and be present for.

Adam Sud: So I spent the better part of the next year intentionally reorganizing my my caloric environment, my physical environment, my social environment with the help of therapy and other modalities. Mm hmm. Within five months, the diabetes, the heart disease, the erectile dysfunction were completely reversed. Within ten months, I lost over £100. Within a year, I was off of all of my medications, including my cigarets, my entire depressants, mood stabilizers, sleep medications, anxiety medications.

Adam Sud: And I found that I had figured out how to, for the first time ever, seemed like I figured out how to, with ease and repeatability, design a life that I wanted to show up and be present for every single day that I had been able to reestablish the loving and meaningful bonds, those valuable and meaningful bonds that give us the experience of feeling fully alive.

Adam Sud: I’ve been able to reconnect to those, and now my life felt like a place I wanted to be a part of without using. And it wasn’t through the intentional abstinence of use. It was through the intentional reorganization of my life. Mm hmm. So now I’ve been in recovery for 11 years. I went back to school to study nutrition.

Adam Sud: I started to help people use nutrition as a vehicle for reestablishing themselves and reconnecting themselves to a life that they wanted to be present for. And then last year published the very first controlled trial investigating the effects of nutrition on early addiction, recovery outcomes and treatment centers. And it’s been it’s been a wild ride.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I remember. So I just so I usually like to tell people about how we met. So I met you at Jeremy Hill’s gym. It’s called Collective The Collective, which is this really cool? It’s called a social performance club.

Adam Sud: It is the coolest place in the world.

Dean Pohlman: But it is a it is a it is a it is a unique concept for a gym. By the way, it’s not just like a gym where you go and show up and work out. This guy also trains Nflx like the top nfl.com, but he’s pointing out like that’s Josh Moran’s trainer over there. And like, like I’m just.

Adam Sud: Like, Oh, and there’s Bijan Robinson, just like, you know, pushing slides, you know?

Dean Pohlman: Right. Yeah. So like, there’s, like, you know, there’s, there’s NFL athletes, there’s NBA athletes who are just hanging out, working out, and you’re like, dude, what is what is he just doing here? Working out? So anyways, I met Adam there and, and he told me you were you were really excited about your getting his paper published. And it was kind of like the culmination of in many ways it was like a culmination of the last ten years.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. So that’s, that’s really awesome. And as you were kind of going through what you were just saying with sort of you’re kind of introducing yourself, there were two things that really stuck out to me. But, you know, most people I think, would say, like I had issues with food, I ate too much food. But you restructured you kind of reframe that as like, this is substance abuse.

Dean Pohlman: Like, this is not just eating too much food. This is like this is substance abuse. This is like, you know, and I also like how you you know, you shifted the the mindset of I just have to avoid drugs, too. I need to figure out how I can live a full life. And I as you were saying that, I was also thinking like, well, how can they you know, I’m sure that you’re I’m sure that treatment centers know what they’re doing.

Dean Pohlman: And I understand they’re like, okay, we need to avoid drugs. But at the same time, they’re saying avoid drugs, but then they’re also giving you drugs. Right. They’re like saying like, you have to be on drugs for the rest of your life. Not to say that like, you know, not to say that you probably you know, they were probably very helpful.

Dean Pohlman: But, yeah.

Adam Sud: I think, like it’s so important to understand that, you know, when I checked into treatment, I was an incredibly disregulated state, you know? And in fact, a lot of the medications that I was given in the short term allowed me to be able to approach behavior change in an effective way. My issue with a lot of what you see in treatment is that those medications are prescribed to an individual with the intention of them using it forever.

Adam Sud: Mm hmm. And that can be detrimental. We know that there is long term side effects for a lot of these medications. So in the acute onset of these conditions, they can be beneficial.

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm.

Adam Sud: But there has to be an intentional approach to saying what this is, is an opportunity for you to be able to start to organize other tools into your life. And if you organize them appropriately and you approach them accurately, what’s going to be able to take place is over the course of time, we’re going to be able to appropriately remove these medications.

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm.

Adam Sud: And I think that that that approach is a much more valuable approach. I understand how difficult that approach is because of the amount of care required to to facilitate the need of behavior change to that degree.

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm.

Adam Sud: But that’s something I just I did not want to be on medications forever. I, you know, I at the time, I got really angry.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah.

Adam Sud: Anger’s a great motivator. It’s a great motivator for short term change. Really lets you know, Hey, you’ve got something that’s important to you that you want to do. I tell people negative consequences don’t motivate long term change, but negative consequences do is they let you know that there’s something really important in your life, something incredibly meaningful in your life that is being threatened.

Adam Sud: Mm hmm. And what you have to do is you have to identify with that loving and meaningful and important thing or things are in your life and use those as motivation for long term change. Mm hmm. Let them direct you towards what you need to do, not what you need to not do. Right. A lot of a lot of recovery is like, stop doing that.

Adam Sud: Stop doing this. Avoid this, Avoid that. Well, that’s great. But if you’re not also being directed towards accurate replacement, it’s just a passive action. It doesn’t really it doesn’t really incentivize change in an effective way.

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. And I don’t want to compare changing habits to to addiction. But, you know, part of when you look at habit change, you’re not you know, the best way. It’s really hard to just eliminate the habit. You know, it’s really hard to start to stop doing a bad habit. It’s really hard to stop. It’s well, it’s not really hard to start doing a good that if the habit is effective, it’s really hard to stop it just because it’s kind of like an automatic behavior.

Dean Pohlman: So instead of eliminating it, what you the better strategy is to figure out how can I figure out a replacement behavior? How can I how can I look at the action that I take in this habit and replace it with a similar action that leads to a similar result, but doesn’t have the negative long term health effects of this quote unquote bad habit?

Dean Pohlman: One question that I really that I have that I’m you know, I’m curious about, and this is something that I really like exploring on this podcast, but it’s how did you go about thinking how to reorganize your life? How did you how did you rediscover your values? What was the process for that?

Adam Sud: So that’s a really great question. And I really love talking about this topic. About a year before I went into a treatment facility, I had the opportunity to hear a man named Rip Esselstyn give a lecture. And Rip Esselstyn is a New York Times bestselling author. He’s actually the son of Dr. Caldwell. Esselstyn is one of the premier, very, very famous cardiologists.

Adam Sud: He was actually the cardiologist, along with Dr. Dean Ornish, who helped Bill Clinton reverse his cardiovascular disease. And he had written a book called Prevent Reverse Heart Disease, and they’ve been featured in a film at the time called Forks Over Knives. And he’s from Austin. And I got dragged to this thing by my dad. You know, I was I was three or £50.

Adam Sud: I was I was a mess. And my dad was just like, maybe this will help. Maybe. Maybe this will inspire him. And to be honest, I’d never heard of Rip Esselstyn. I didn’t know who he was. They didn’t want to know who he was. I sure didn’t want to know what a plant based diet was, but that’s what he was talking about.

Adam Sud: He was talking about the intentional use of a specific dietary protocol that could allow people with ease and repeatability to to tackle some very difficult things in their life. Primarily, he’s talking about cardiovascular disease and obesity, but it also related to diabetes, health. And at the time, I didn’t know that I was sick. I mean, let’s be clear, it was pretty obvious I was, but I was in a pretty, pretty big state of denial.

Adam Sud: And so when I was receiving these diagnoses from this doctor, it was almost like I was transported back to this retreat where, here’s a reality, man. I was eating 5000 calories of fast food a day for about two weeks. Once that ended, that would only end because I would get enough stimulants that I could abuse for about another seven days straight without sleeping or eating.

Adam Sud: And to put it into perspective, my main drug of choice was Adderall, and the average prescription for Adderall is about 20 milligrams For every 24 hours I was doing a minimum of 450 milligrams, upwards of a thousand milligrams a day for seven consecutive days. Wow. So my life was simply one form of self-abuse followed by another simply in the attempt to, with the greatest ease and repeatability, escape a life that was too painful a place to be that I didn’t want to be a part of.

Adam Sud: So a sitting in that chair and I heard all this stuff and it was like, Wait a minute, hang on. I clearly have no idea how to eat in any kind of self-care manner. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know any other way to do it. The only thing I could remember was I heard this guy say, This might do it for you.

Adam Sud: So I said, I’ve got nothing to lose here. Why don’t I just try this thing out for the next 30 days? I said, You know, I. I don’t know anything about mental health at the time. I certainly didn’t know anything about addiction. And focusing on those things was really difficult for me because it didn’t seem like A plus B equal to C, but with nutrition it really did.

Adam Sud: If I did this and I added that, I would get this result. And that’s the kind of system that I needed. And the other thing that took place was I came across a guy name is Doug Lyle. He’s an evolution area psychologist, An evolutionary psychology speaks to the psychological and motivational architecture that kind of drives human animal behavior.

Adam Sud: So he answers a very, very important question, which is why, if we know what to do to be happy and healthy, why is it so difficult to do it?

Dean Pohlman: Hmm.

Adam Sud: Evolutionary psychology really does answer that question pretty effectively. And so what I wanted to do is build a system of change upon plant based nutrition and evolutionary psychology and move forward with that for simply 30 days and just be like, I’m just going to run this experiment. All I want to know is if I do this thing, will it help me?

Adam Sud: Will my life become better? After those 30 days? I want to figure out if it shows a positive result and figure out how to do the same thing with a little bit greater ease and a little bit greater repeatability. MM You mentioned about habit changes, simply not the removal of your old habits, but the replacement of your old habit with a new habit that gets you a similar result.

Dean Pohlman: Mm.

Adam Sud: That’s true. The factor that’s going to allow you to sustainably keep that habit in your life is the degree of ease and repeatability that the new habit has. It has to cost you as little time and energy as your old habit, or you’re going to go back to your old habits more often than you want. It’s simple evolutionary psychology.

Adam Sud: Every instinct in you is trying to get the most amount of pleasure for the least amount of pain and least amount of energy. You have a psychological and motivational architecture that is trying to get the most for the least. So if your new habits are just too much time and energy, you’re going to feel overwhelmed. You’re going to feel stressed.

Adam Sud: So I had to figure out how to do with ease and repeatability. So that’s what kind of drove me towards. I didn’t know what to do. I found a system that was basically just like, eat, you know, rice, beans, greens, veggies and fruits. I figured out a way to do it where it took me no more than 10 minutes per meal to make it.

Adam Sud: I lived in that environment long enough and as a result of living that in that environment, I noticed my health returning and I said, Oh, that’s really motivating. Day one is inspiration. You got to put in some time and energy in order to get motivated. You got to see. It’s got to get a sense that what you’re doing is, is leading you in the direction that you want to go.

Adam Sud: By day 30, I was incredibly motivated to repeat that experiment. I like that this is amazing. I’ve lost like £40. My blood pressure is normalized. My blood glucose is like, I mean, oh my gosh, I’m starting to come off medications. I’m so motivated to run this experiment again. And I just kept running that experiment for ten months. It was phenomenal.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. So what were the big change? You know, you talked about the physical changes that you noticed before. You talked about you were talking about the intentional reorganization of your life. And, you know, to go from this place of I don’t want to live anymore to okay, things are getting better now. What what kind of realizations did you did you go through in terms of like recognizing, hey, my life is worth living?

Dean Pohlman: Like this is important to me? Was it just that you were now becoming healthier and weight loss or like what else were you discovering in that process?

Adam Sud: So to answer that question, we have to actually go back to the, the day that I tried to suicide.

Dean Pohlman: Mhm.

Adam Sud: So that was like as I mentioned, that was August 21st of 2012 and it’s really important to recognize that up until that point, you know, I had a very difficult childhood. I was bullied, I mean terribly bullied, um, physically, emotionally I was, I experienced a lot of criticism about my body from my parents, not intentionally. It was just kind of like the way that they communicated.

Adam Sud: Mm hmm. And so I spent a significant amount of my life feeling like my body was in a safe, secure place to be. Feeling like sometimes in the presence of my own home wasn’t a safe and secure place to be, even though I had the greatest parents in the world. And certainly being at school didn’t feel like a safe and secure place to be.

Adam Sud: In fact, it felt like a very dangerous place to be. And so I discovered drug use in high school because drug use seemed to solve almost every one of those problems with unbelievable ease, unbelievable repeatability, and incredible, incredibly profound ways. I was able to gain unbelievable confidence with the use of stimulants. I was able to stop being bullied and harmed by giving away some of my stimulants to the kids that were beating me up.

Adam Sud: And it allowed me to lose weight and have a physical appearance that made people attracted to me, made my parents excited about me. I was able to engage in study habits in a way that seemed to make my parents proud. So it seemed to it seemed to solve some of the most overwhelming problems I’d ever faced. And this is really important when you’re living in a life that is painful, when you’re living in a life where when you wake up, it doesn’t feel like a place that you want to be a part of, that you want to be present for.

Adam Sud: That seems like a scary place to be and drug use. Any kind of drug use or behavior like gambling or sex or whatever it is, seems to pacify the passage of time. So that your life can be something you can deal with. You have to understand for that person that their youth looks and feels exactly like self-care. It makes complete sense.

Adam Sud: Unfortunately, you’re going to reach a point in time where that that that substance or that behavior starts to disorder your life. And that’s where substance use disorder comes in. So, yes, people abuse substances all the time. That doesn’t mean they’re suffering from a disorder. Substance use disorder is characterized at the point where the use has become so overwhelming that it is disordered.

Adam Sud: Your ability to live in a healthy way, either at work or at home or in multiple facets of your life are important. So by the time I was in college and dropped out of college, it had become a full blown disorder. And for the next ten years it would continue to disorder my life. And this is really an interesting and tricky thing because from my perspective, from from my psychology, it looks and feels like, Oh my gosh, this was the greatest thing I’d ever found.

Adam Sud: It fully made me and my life feel for the first time like this was this was the way it’s supposed to be. Now all of a sudden it’s leading me in the wrong direction. That doesn’t make sense. Hmm. You have no idea how successful this was. How could what was once the greatest solution in my life b b becoming the most overwhelming problem I’d ever face.

Adam Sud: And it’s too difficult to let go of. It’s very difficult to talk about it, because right now at this time, I was over £300. I lost jobs. I was starting to live like a hoarder. People were noticing that I wasn’t a person they wanted around. So at this point, if I was to say, Hey guys, also, you should know I’m also really struggling with drug use.

Adam Sud: The fear is if they knew that that might be the last straw that says, I don’t want anything to do with you, I don’t want to have anything to do with you, So you intentionally hide it. There’s a stigma, there’s a shame, and enough of that life becomes something you just don’t want to be a part of. And that’s what happened to me and what I thought I was trying to do on August 21st, 2012, was I thought I was trying to end my life.

Adam Sud: And I remember what it felt like when I intentionally overdosed. I remember the feeling sitting on the couch. You know, I’ve been abusing substances for over ten years. Overdoses wasn’t something I was new to, but this felt distinctly different. I felt like I was I felt like I was going to kind of throw up. I felt sick. I got all sweaty and I tried to stand up off my couch in my tire, right side of my body, cramped, feel like I got stabbed in the right side with a hot knife as I buckled over black just rushes in.

Adam Sud: And I had never I’d never experienced anything like that. And I’ll tell you, that was the most painful moment of my life. And I don’t I’m not using painful as a descriptor for the physical experience I was that I just laid out for you. I meant emotionally and spiritually painful. I truly believed I was spending the last second of my life completely disconnected from everything and everyone that had ever meant anything to me.

Adam Sud: And not because they didn’t want to be there for me, but because I made it impossible for them. And I woke up on the floor of my apartment in a puddle of vomit and a pile of fast food garbage. And over the course of the next hour, I kind of realized what had taken place, and I got flooded with immense relief.

Adam Sud: And that relief was a really profound experience for me because as most people look at suicide, I truly thought what I wanted to do was end my life. But the relief that I was experiencing in that moment was all the evidence that I needed to say. There. Are there are something or some things about your life that are so important to you, that are so meaningful to you, that you’re relieved you’re still a part of it.

Dean Pohlman: So you had a near-death experience? Absolutely. Near-death. It was caused by yourself, but like you had a near-death experience. So like a whole world, there are things that are important.

Adam Sud: And it really spoke to the to the reality of what suicide is. And I’m going to say this with with 100% confidence that there isn’t a single person who suicides that does it because they want their life to end. They do it because they want their pain to end. If they could solve their pain with ease and repeatability, they would.

Adam Sud: I know a lot of people who who seek suicide as a solution are facing things far worse than I am. And so I so I completely understand why. The idea is I’ve got to do this. I don’t have any other way of getting out of I can’t do another day like this. A suicide is not someone wanting to end their life, is someone wanting to end their pain.

Adam Sud: And so that was kind of this moment where I realized, holy shit, life is not my problem. Life is an incredible thing. I have a I have unbelievable things that I could still be a part of if I choose to, to really change how I move through the world. It’s my relationship to pain that I suck at. I’ve got to figure out how to do that better.

Adam Sud: I’ve got to figure out why do I feel like my life is such a a villainous, adversarial experience for me? I’ve got to figure out how how do I make my relationship with my self, my body and my self, both physically and emotionally, feel like a safe place to be instead of a constant battle? How do I feel like I have people in my life that feel like a safe place to be instead of a constant battle?

Adam Sud: I’ve got to figure out how do I find a purpose that I can share with people within a community of shared respect, that I want to show up and be present for every single day? And I’ve got to figure out a way so that my future feels like a place I want to be a part of. If I can do that, the pain that I experienced for whatever reasons, on any given day, whether it’s something traumatic that happens or whether it’s just, you know, an argument that I have, it won’t be a thing that I want to escape.

Adam Sud: My life won’t be something that I want to escape. I’ll be willing to say, yeah, you know what? That that sadness makes sense. And I’m willing to feel it because, man, tomorrow I am so excited for that. I want to be there for that full, loving, connected life. And I’m willing to be with this. Whatever it is right now, I’m willing to have it.

Adam Sud: I’m willing to figure out how I can go from letting those things cause disorder in my life to helping them make sense in my life. And that’s really what the whole journey was about.

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm.

Dean Pohlman: So you you kind of woke up with this desire for purpose absence, and you realized that there were people and things in your life that were that were valuable. Who were the people in your life that you were like, Oh, these are like these people. I need these people or These people need me. Or what was like, Yeah, it was so.

Adam Sud: My dad and I, we didn’t get along when I was in high school and that’s my fault.

Dean Pohlman: It’s tough admitting that. It’s really tough, by the way. It is to step in and say it’s really tough to take responsibility for your parents when you’re a kid. Yeah, like it’s like it’s really hard to do that.

Adam Sud: I never I never had the courage to ask him why he felt he needed to show his love for me through criticism. Maybe that’s all I knew. You know, I never thought maybe him saying, criticizing how I studied, criticizing how I, you know, my way criticizing all these things was a way of saying, I’m afraid things might go poorly for you if things don’t change.

Adam Sud: And you mean the world to me. And I was very wrapped up in myself and I never asked him that question. And as a result, then I’m not saying I should have known how, but I am saying that that’s a big factor. As a result of that, my dad and I were adversaries and at the end of my drug addiction, I blamed him for everything and he never gave up on me.

Adam Sud: Well, he and my mom and my my brother and sister, they never once looked at me and said, yeah, that’s it. That’s the last straw. You’re done. See you later. In fact, when I survived suicide and realize what had happened, the first thing I did was pick up the phone and I called my dad and I asked for help.

Adam Sud: Within the second of him answering, I didn’t want a moment to go by because I was afraid I was going to be able to say it. So I asked for help and I said, You know, Dad, I need help. And what he said, I’ll never forget, I don’t know if this is exactly the way that he said it, but I know what I heard.

Adam Sud: He said, Adam, I love you. I love you whether you’re using or you’re not. And I don’t know how to do this thing. I don’t know how to solve it, but I want to be with you to help you figure it out. I cannot tell you how profound and powerful that statement is, because I know this for a fact.

Adam Sud: People who I’ve worked with, people who are struggling with substance disorder, I’ve struggled with substance use disorder, I’ve worked with people who have mental health disorders more so when it comes to the people in our lives that matter more so than solutions to our problems, we just want to be reminded that we’re not going to be forgotten by the people who matter the most to us.

Adam Sud: That if we choose to get help, they are not only excited for us, they’re saving a place for us within that circle of family, within that circle of friends that we’re not going to let you go and that we’re hopeful for you. That is a very powerful that gives you the that gives you the permission to then say, oh, I don’t know what I’m doing, and it’s gotten really bad and I just need can we figure this thing out together?

Adam Sud: So my dad And then to be fair, Rip Esselstyn, who I actually am now very, very close with and he kind of helped me along with the nutrition aspect through his work and then through some brief conversations we had together. And and now I have the good fortune of of being a lecturer for his retreats. And, you know, I’ll tell you this, if you were to listen to my entire story, it would sound as if I did the whole thing myself.

Adam Sud: And that’s just fundamentally untrue. The reason why I’ve been so successful is because I’ve had a circle of people. When things got bad and I wanted to give up, they asked me to try one more day. They said, I know, listen, if I were going through what you were going through, I’d probably want to give up too. Can you do one more day for me?

Adam Sud: That is, I’ll tell you, substance use disorder or mental illness, it thrives in isolation. It gets its ass kicked if you’ve got community. And that is a very powerful thing for me. I had an incredible and I still do have an incredible community.

Dean Pohlman: Wow, that’s amazing. Thanks for sharing that with me. That was that was intense. Give me a give me a minute. So there was a stigma. You felt this stigma that if you were to reach out, that it would make you unworthy of love.

Adam Sud: Yeah. Yeah. I already felt and you know that that that’s a projection from from self, right? Right. I felt I was unworthy. I felt like my body was an adversary. That it always wanted the worst for me. I felt like people were adversaries. They were always trying to point out the worst in me. And that’s because, you know, I experienced a lot of that.

Adam Sud: I got bullied really badly. I, I had communications with my parents that I didn’t interpret properly. I had a world that was becoming a very, very isolating place to be. You know, you grow up in a society, in a culture like Western cultures, that that that put on a pedestal a certain persona. Like if you’re if you look like this and you act like this, you’re great.

Adam Sud: And if you don’t, you’re not blaming I’m not blaming the world for that, but it’s a part of it. And so I had been tell you, it’s like recovery is a daily search. It’s an act of remembering who you truly are before the world convinced you differently. And I had to start to realize, hey, you know what? I don’t know when it happened, but someone got me to believe that my body is actually a problem when in reality my body is the greatest physical ally I’ve ever had in my entire life.

Adam Sud: Every second of my life, my body has tried to organize itself around health and survival. How can we how can we possibly do the best with whatever you give us, even if it’s a double cheeseburger from McDonald’s, what’s the best we can do with it? That’s literally the body’s entire intention is to keep you alive and care for you.

Adam Sud: My surviving suicide was an ultimate expression of We are never going to quit on you. We have been fighting you for fighting for you since the day you were born were the greatest ally you ever had. If you could just remember that we are here for you and get into alignment with us. Just watch what’s possible instead of trying it out, compete my way, instead of trying to outcompete my diseases.

Adam Sud: What if I could become a caretaker, Occupy a caretaker role where my job is to care for lovingly care for a body whose entire intention for existence is to do the best it can for me, then every act isn’t an act of restriction. It’s an act of abundance and caregiving. It is an intentional affirmation of recovery. And that’s what I use nutrition and movement for, was to be a finally be an accurate caretaker for my body.

Adam Sud: And as a result of seeing the transformations that were possible, it sort of became this example. If I hang on a second, I used to think that I got sick because my body was a problem, that I was a genetic mistake or whatever. But really that was the most appropriate response. My body should have to the choices environment that I was living in.

Adam Sud: What if the same goes for my emotional responses to life? What if my anxiety and depression aren’t a pathology? What if they make complete sense? What if they aren’t a problem to be corrected? What if they are a signal to be better understood and listened to properly for the first time in my life? And so I approach therapy from that perspective instead of trying to insult my signals of anxiety and depression with medication, what if I tried to listen to them safely?

Adam Sud: That very difficult thing to do on your own. And I didn’t do it on my own. I was in a lot of therapy. I did about 5 hours of group therapy a day for for three months. Wow. But that’s what I figured out how to do. And nutrition was like, this example is like, guess what? You’ve never been broken.

Adam Sud: Everything that’s happened to you is the appropriate response to an environment that doesn’t suit your needs. Every response that you’ve had in life is a response to viewing the world around you as something other than what it actually is. That’s just a phenomenal opportunity for me.

Dean Pohlman: So this is just my interpretation and maybe you can clarify, but it sounds like, you know, as you’re going through all these different shifting your paradigms, basically questioning the way that you think about things, what was it that was it that you questioned? One thing you realized you had that 30 days and you’re like, Oh, what if I did that?

Dean Pohlman: Did that? Was that the momentum that gave you like the ability to start questioning all these other things or like, well, that’s exactly it.

Adam Sud: Yeah. Because I was actually quite, I was quite a difficult person in therapy for the first 30 days. I hadn’t seen a win yet. And you needed.

Dean Pohlman: It. You needed a win.

Adam Sud: I needed a win. I needed to see that this effort was actually going to generate something positive in my life. Those first 30 days were really like a series of, you know, weekly experiments with nutrition to see that if I could just change one aspect of my aspect of my environment and radically change it, which was my caloric environment, what could take place if I was willing to be comfortable being uncomfortable, radically shift my environment in one specific way?

Adam Sud: Would I respond to that environment with positive change? And that’s exactly what happened. That gave me permission to say, Hey, guess what? If this kind of change was possible by changing this aspect of your environment, what changes possible? If you change other aspects of your environment, your social, your psychological that gave me permission to say, you know, this is going to this probably can be really hard, but look what happened when I was willing to be comfortable being uncomfortable for those past 30 days.

Adam Sud: Let’s run a new experiment for another three days. I never told myself I got to do this for the rest of my life. And I think that actually benefited me. Yes, I said, what I want to do this year is run a series of experiments, short term experiments, where I can gain valuable information, valuable data, and suggest it.

Adam Sud: Maybe this is actually beneficial for me. It seems like for the first time I figured out how to care for my body. Seems like for the first time I figured out how to how to be safe with feeling. Seems like for the first time I figured out how to be safe with other people. Let’s do it again. I want to find out if that’s true.

Adam Sud: I’m motivated to find out. Is this actually what’s happening?

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. So for so now, like, I mean, you kind of answered my question, but for people who are struggling with whatever it may be, maybe they’re struggling with with similar situations with substance abuse, maybe it’s you know, maybe it’s food addiction. Yeah, Maybe it’s, I don’t know, chronic stress of some sort. What are your tips for people to do these little experiments for themselves?

Dean Pohlman: Do you have like I don’t know if you have, you know, the Adams framework for experimenting on yourself, but like, what are some some guidelines you can give people?

Adam Sud: So first and foremost, if you’re a person who’s dealing with that sort of end stage disordered experience where whatever you’re struggling with has become so overwhelming that it’s disordered, your ability to show up and live life in a healthy way, The most important thing you can do is call it professional. Find out what is the next most necessary step for you.

Adam Sud: Maybe it’s a treatment facility, maybe it’s an intensive outpatient facility, maybe it’s a partial hospitalization program. That is the most important thing, is to actually talk to someone who can assess what’s going on in your life and give you the first, most important step for care. That’s number one. If you’re that person who’s past that stage and you’re really trying to figure out how do I do this, or if you’re a person who hasn’t gotten to that stage and you want to correct the trajectory of your life right now, I find that one of the most valuable things is understanding.

Adam Sud: Why does it make sense that you’re struggling with what you’re struggling with? Why is it not an indication of you being a weak person who lacks discipline and willpower? Why is it the appropriate psychological and biological response that you’re having to a life that feels too hard?

Dean Pohlman: Is that it is this kind of repetitive appeal?

Adam Sud: Is this this is this is rooted in Doug Lyle’s work.

Dean Pohlman: Doug, like.

Adam Sud: The he wrote a book called The Pleasure Trap, and he gave a TED talk by the same name. He has a website called Esteem Dynamics that really talks about evolutionary psychology and why it is that humans behave the way that we do. And I’ll actually give you an example of this. This is really interesting. So when we talk about substance use, when we talk about food or drugs or even sex gambling, what we’re talking about is a dopamine response.

Adam Sud: And I know dopamine gets thrown around is this kind of buzz word of like, oh, don’t do anything that triggers dopamine. No, no, no, that’s never going to take place. Dopamine is a phenomenal neurochemical neurotransmitter. It is a unique pleasure. Chemical meaning it doesn’t just give us the excited euphoria of pleasure. It gives us the sense it’s a reward, pleasure, chemical.

Adam Sud: What that reward is about is giving us a feeling that we have statistically increased our likelihood of survival. And I’m going to show you how and why this kind of guidance system helps us figure out how to survive specific environments. So what’s important to understand is that we have spent about 99% of our story in a very specific environment.

Adam Sud: That environment is not the environment that we’re living in today. We evolved in an environment of scarcity, competition, danger and expense. Okay? So if we you and I, were to travel back in time 100,000 years ago, we would pre-date the invention of agriculture. We’d find ourselves in a tribal village. And in fact, that is actually the environment that our psychology and biology does the best with is in a tribe of about 50 to 100 people, where within that tribe we’re in a group of about ten other people, 5 to 10 BE That’s our click within the tribe and in this tribe, the tribal elder might come up to us and say, Hey, Dean, Adam, your

Adam Sud: job today is to go into that unexplored area of wilderness and find food for us that we can eat and survive on. You and I go, Hey, chief, got you. So what we’re about to do is something very specific we’re about to go into an environment where calories are not guaranteed, and in fact, they’re very scarce. And if we don’t get to them first, something else might.

Adam Sud: So that means the environment of scarcity and competition. Some of those other organisms that are competing for these calories might be dangerous for us and the terrain might be dangerous for us. So now it’s scarce, competitive and dangerous. It’s also very expensive. Biologically. It’s going to take a lot of time and a lot of energy to do this.

Adam Sud: So a scarce, competitive, dangerous and expensive. So we have to be efficient and we have to have some kind of mechanism within our psychology and our motivational architecture that helps us to figure out what’s the right move to make. We go out into the wilderness and we come into a clearing. And for the sake of this argument, let’s just say that these two foods exist next to each other.

Adam Sud: We see a blueberry bush, right? And we see a plantain tree. And now remember, the tripartite motivational system that drives behavior is pleasure seeking energy conservation and pain avoidance. We want to get the most amount of pleasure for the least amount of pain, the least amount of energy. So we look at these options, we see the colors. We know this food because the blueberries are lower to the ground and cost us less energy together.

Adam Sud: We’re going to try those first. And because there is calories in blueberries, we’re going to get a lift in our dopamine circuitry that lift in the dopamine circuitry is an indication that this might be a good move to make. Seems like there’s calories there. It seems like it’s going to help us survive till tomorrow. Maybe we should do this.

Adam Sud: It causes very little energy to gather them. Great. I start gathering them and then you you look to your right and notice some of the plantains have fallen on the ground, and you pick one up and you bite into it. And in fact, there is about ten times as many calories per bite. And the lift in the dopamine circuitry is equal to that increase in calories per bite.

Adam Sud: You go, hang on a second, Don’t spend another moment gathering those. This is clearly the right move to make. Every instinct in you is telling you with unbelievable accuracy this is a much better choice to make to give us more calories for less time and less energy. We gather them, we bring them back, and we’re successful. That dopamine circuitry was a guidance system that helped us figure out with unbelievable, unbelievable accuracy and unbelievable efficiency what was the right move to make to be successful in environments of scarcity?

Adam Sud: The next thing that happens is we are zapped forward in time to present day. We find ourselves in Times Square. We what’s happened over the last 100 years that there’s been an incredible shift in the caloric environment to are now there are far more calories per bite than have ever existed in human history. And the ease and repeatability and abundance of those choices, it’s greater than it’s ever been in human history.

Adam Sud: And our motivational psychology, our motivational architecture has no understanding that the shift has occurred and is still operating and guiding us as if we lived in an environment of scarcity. So we bite into a bag of potato chips or we bite into a cheeseburger. Every instinct in you goes, Holy shit, this is fantastic. If ever you had the opportunity to do this again, this has to be the right thing to do.

Adam Sud: How fantastic is this? That dopamine left goes so far outside the bounds of the normal human experience. You are just lit up. This looks and feels like a very successful thing to do when in fact it’s self-destructive. And what happens over the course of time is anytime. Expose yourself to a supernormal stimulus, a stimulus that is outside the bounds of the typical human experience.

Adam Sud: Your receptors are going to defend themselves against that intense stimulus. They’re going to they’re going to double their their sensitivity. So now, in order to get a lift, that feels like a normal thing to do, like a healthy thing to do, you have to eat foods that are super rich. You have to eat that McDonald’s cheeseburger. You have to eat those potato.

Dean Pohlman: Chips at a higher standard of what.

Adam Sud: You set, a higher standard. Your receptors have defended themselves. They’ve lowered the bar. And this is about the time when you realize, oh, my gosh, I can’t seem to stop eating this stuff. I’ve gained weight. Maybe you’re developing some chronic disease conditions. You go, Wait a minute, I know what I need to do. I need to start eating healthy again.

Adam Sud: I need to go back to what is more representative of our natural history or natural behavior. I need to eat whole intact foods and you do it. There’s less calories per bite in these foods. And what happens? The lift that you feel feels wrong.

Dean Pohlman: Mm.

Adam Sud: Your entire motivational system has been spun 180 degrees around a problem that you cannot figure out. Every instinct in you has been designed to get the most for the least. But when you do that in the modern environment, you are making choices that fool the system and you end up into what Doug Lyle calls the pleasure trap, which is when I know this is the right way to go.

Adam Sud: But this feels like a better decision. It’s I should go through that. I should go this way. He gives a really great example. If you were to go outside at night and you had your porch light on what you’re going to notice is that moths are attracted to this light. And the reason for that is because they are designed by nature to use the brightest lights in the sky.

Adam Sud: In fact, celestial objects are they’re designed to use them for navigation. But when the brightest light in your sky, in the sky is not your porch light, they get fooled, They hit the light and they flutter down. They hit it again. They hit it again. And here again. Eventually they’re going to die. And what has happened is by messing with the environment, by introducing a supernormal stimulus, a stimulus that is not supposed to be there.

Adam Sud: It is not representative of that animal’s natural history, natural behavior. That animal now runs the threat of making decisions that it thinks and feels are incredibly successful when in fact it’s self-destructive. It is not that animal’s fault that it was driven to do that over and over again. The environment was so shifted that every instinct in it was fooled into thinking it was doing something successful when in fact it was self destructive.

Adam Sud: That is what we’re seeing with drugs, with alcohol and food, the environment that we live in is so shifted away from what is healthy for our psychology, that our psychology is making motivational decisions, thinking and feeling like it’s doing really successful things when in fact it’s not. The solution shouldn’t be How do I avoid those foods the solution to be?

Adam Sud: How do I design a personal environment that looks like the life I want to live so that I can recalibrate my dopamine receptors? In fact, the recent enticing of your dopamine receptors is about a four month journey. However, 80% of that journey occurs in the first two weeks. If you can just make the choice that looks like the life you want to live, it looks like the healthy choice.

Adam Sud: If you can do it for two weeks, you will make most of the four month journey within the first two weeks. That is a very valuable thing to understand.

Dean Pohlman: Hmm.

Adam Sud: So first I help people understand why it’s actually reasonable that you think and feel like what you’re doing is successful when in fact you’re self-destructing.

Dean Pohlman: So we need to understand that. Two things. We need to understand that because of our environment, it’s incredibly difficult for you to do the healthy thing.

Adam Sud: It’s going to feel very hard.

Dean Pohlman: And then second, because of how easy it is to those things, there is because of how easy it is to get. That’s well, that’s part of it is it’s so easy to get those things that it makes it even harder to do that for anything. But also, there’s nothing wrong with you. This is nothing wrong. Biology is supposed to work.

Adam Sud: Makes complete sense as a society.

Dean Pohlman: We look at, we look at we, you know, whether consciously or subconsciously, we look at people who have who are, you know, who are participating in substance, who do have who are overweight, who have issues. We look at that. It is we’re kind of subconsciously kind of programed to look at those things as this is a character defect, Like there is something wrong with this person.

Dean Pohlman: I don’t want to associate myself with this person because or I’m less likely to associate myself with this person because they are unhealthy. There is something wrong with them when in reality they are doing exactly what their biology is telling them to do. It’s not a character, so not a character. So at all, a big part of this is understanding that there’s nothing wrong with you.

Dean Pohlman: You are doing what your biology wants you to do.

Adam Sud: Yeah, you have a psychologic goal and motivational architecture that is designed to seek out the most for the least every single time. When you do that in the modern environment, it’s going to it’s going to probably lead you in a direction you don’t want to go, but you’re going to think and feel like it’s a good thing to do.

Adam Sud: Now, if you take that same person, you put them in a very different environment, like let’s say a blue zone. In a blue zone is an area around the world. This was a book written by a man named Dan Buettner. He’s a National Geographic explorer. He wanted to reverse engineer longevity in the 1980s. He out and he discovered five they call them blue zones because they circled them on a map with the blue marker when they found one.

Adam Sud: These are populations around the world that have the highest percentage of centenarians, people who live to be 100 or older, who also have the longest years, live without disability and the lowest rates of chronic disease. And what he found is that every one of these blue zones has four core principles that are exactly the same. Every single one of these blue zones eats a plant predominant diet.

Adam Sud: They’re not vegan, they’re not plant exclusive. But a plant predominant diet mean they have a very high fiber intake of 50 grams or more per day. Every one of these regions or populations of people move their body every single day. In fact, there are villages there, towns that are designed in such a way that movement is encouraged and attractive.

Adam Sud: They also interact in a community every single day. In fact, you have to be a part of it all. You have to be a part of what the goings on in the town around you and you have to have a belief in something beyond yourself, which doesn’t mean God necessarily, but that you are part of a bigger goings on, a.

Dean Pohlman: Sense of spirituality.

Adam Sud: A sense of spirituality, a sense of being connected to something greater going on. Now, if you were to take any individual and put them in a blue zone, what’s going to happen is that environment of that blue zone is so accurately designed to encourage longevity that they will start to experience the effects of it. Their diseases will start to reverse, their body weight might start to come down, their sense of connection will increase, their mood will increase.

Adam Sud: And you’ll go, hang on a second. I thought I was weak. I thought there was something wrong with me. No, the environment you were in was designed unintentionally by you, but designed very well to encourage all of the things you were struggling with. Same thing happens when you take some blue zone and you drop them in Western. You start to experience all of the symptoms that a Western environment encourages.

Adam Sud: And it’s not because overnight they lost all their discipline. It’s not because overnight they lost all their willpower or all their self-control. It is exactly the response that should happen to an environment that looks exactly like the one that we live in. You the reason why you do so well is if I guarantee you if I went to your house, it would look like your environment was intentionally organized to suit the life you want to live and that the options that are counter to that rarely ever make it into your home.

Adam Sud: It may come in every once in a while. Like you might have a birthday celebration. You bring home a slice of cake. That might happen every once in a while, but it’s rarely going to enter into your environment. You have a intentionally cultivated environment that encourages the behaviors you want with ease and repeatability. That’s not coincidence. You’re no more disciplined than the person next to you.

Adam Sud: Your environment is more disciplined than the person next to you. That’s why you do so well.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I think that’s an awesome point and that’s willpower is finite, but you can do a lot of things to make it. You can do a lot of things to your environment to make it so that you don’t have to rely on willpower. And that’s the that’s the big difference. Discipline people might date. They don’t necessarily have more willpower.

Dean Pohlman: They have taken more steps to make it so that their environment encourages and encourages, encourages the activities, the behaviors that they want to do that they know are going to help them.

Adam Sud: And that is exactly what I’ll tell people, is make it easy to do the healing thing instead trying to become a more disciplined person, design a more disciplined environment. Your self-control will always be less necessary if your environment doesn’t require you to depend on it. That makes sense. If your ability to be successful depends on your opportunity and ability to outcompete your environment, your success will be short lived.

Adam Sud: Yeah. If your success is a result of how disciplined your environment is, your success will be as long lived, as long as you live in that environment.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. Yeah. I’m a these are these are really familiar concepts to me because of certain books that I’ve read. Like, I’m, I’m really big into behavioral science. I haven’t read that little book yet, so I need to.

Adam Sud: Blow your mind. You’ll love.

Dean Pohlman: It. Yeah, I absolutely love it. But like the ones that I read these certain books on repeat, like I read Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg. Yeah, I read that.

Adam Sud: And atomic habits.

Dean Pohlman: Atomic habits make out the other one. Yeah.

Adam Sud: That is rooted in evolutionary psychology, That is rooted in the idea that it is actually the environment that encourages the personality to have new habits, right? He lays out the formula that habits are a function of a personality plus its environment.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah.

Adam Sud: That if you change the environment, the personalities, habits and pathways will change, that it is far less a result of that person changing much more a result of that person changing the environment.

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. So those are I’m going to have to dig into those other books. But yet Atomic Habits is an is another one. Those are the two I recommend.

Adam Sud: Atomic Habits has been on the New York Times bestseller list for, I think the past two straight.

Dean Pohlman: It’s sold like 20 million copies.

Adam Sud: It is one of the best books I’ve ever read on The Science of Habit Change. Yeah, it’s incredible. Valuable.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. I mean, like literally every other sentence, you’re like, I need to underline that.

Adam Sud: Yeah, I know, I know. Right. You’re done. You’ve highlighted the entire book.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, it’s. He’s an amazing James. Charisma is an amazing writer. He’s just really good at.

Adam Sud: It’s very good.

Dean Pohlman: So I know we started this talking about I wanted to talk about a, you know, a vegan diet, but I’m realizing now we just are not going to have time to do that.

Adam Sud: So I gladly come back and talk about that. Perfect.

Dean Pohlman: We’ll come back on and do that. There are still more questions that I want to have. Yeah, one big one, really big question that I want to ask, because, you know, you may not be going through substance abuse or you may not be on a self destructive path, but there is a very good chance that you see somebody who is someone who you love is on itself to up to path.

Dean Pohlman: And as somebody who has been there, I want to know what are the things that people do Well intentioned but make it worse.

Adam Sud: Yeah, you know, number one, if you’re in the if you’re witnessing someone who is struggling with substance use disorder or struggling with, you know, some kind of behavioral health disorder, I understand why this question that I’m about to suggest seems like a valuable question to ask that person. What you’re going to want to ask that person is how we get you to stop.

Adam Sud: I know that seems like a valuable question to ask. It’s actually really not. In fact, it’s actually quite harmful because it’s important to understand that from that person who’s struggling from their perspective, their use is what makes their life tolerable. Their use is is what gives their their life on a day to day basis the slightest sense of safety and survivability to suggest that what they need to do is remove that from their life is a very terrifying and potentially harmful thing to suggest to that person.

Adam Sud: Of course you don’t want them to continue doing it. You understand the trajectory that that takes place as a result of their continued use. You know that in 5 to 10 years this is going to have dire consequences. It’s an extraordinary thing that this person is going through. But to them, what they’re trying to do is care for their pain, to soothe the passage of time and relieve their ability of being present in their life.

Adam Sud: The reason why they don’t mind that it has consequences in ten years, because at this point in time, their future is in a place they want to be a part of Anyways, What you want to say to this person, what you a much more valuable question is how can we figure out why your use makes sense? How can we figure out help you figure out why?

Adam Sud: For you, your use is a very reasonable psychological and biological compulsion. Why for you does it look and feel like self-care? That’s the internal question that I want you to start to occupy if you’re witnessing somebody.

Dean Pohlman: Hmm.

Adam Sud: If this person could do it differently with ease and repeatability, if they could overnight reconnect their life to a life they feel safe and secure without the need of substances, they would do it. They would so understand that the best thing you can say to this person is I love you.

Dean Pohlman: Hm?

Adam Sud: I love you. Whether you’re using or you’re not. I love you, whatever state you’re in. And if you ever need me, I might be able to help you figure this out. But I’ll at least be with you. Mm hmm. That is a very valuable thing to do. And of course, you want to assess the risk involved in having them around you.

Adam Sud: Like it’s not always safe to have that person around. So you can set boundaries. And in fact, it’s important to set boundaries. This can be done by phone call. This can be done by text. You don’t have to be physically with you if you think they’re not a safe person to have around, but to let that person know that it is them that they care about, not their problems that you’re worried about solving is a very valuable thing to do.

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm. Okay.

Dean Pohlman: So letting them know that you love them and then you’re and say.

Adam Sud: I don’t know. I don’t know how to solve this. Okay? I might not know the best thing to do, but I can help you find out what’s the next step to take. What’s a number to call? What’s this? That or the other? If you need a ride, I would. I’ll call an Uber for you. A call, an Uber for you to take you to that place.

Adam Sud: I will be a person who will care for what is needed in your life. Now, you might like I said, if they’re not a safe person to be around at that time, or if they’re in compromising situations physically, being present with them may not be the right thing to do. But there are ways to be present for their needs.

Adam Sud: This is really important. People who are addicts, they’re not criminals. They’re humans in pain. People who are struggling with mental illness like depression or anxiety. They’re not sick. They’re humans in pain. And people who are suicidal are not crazy. They’re humans in pain. And maybe if we could stop trying to define and see them by what they struggle with, it will be easier for us to listen to their needs.

Adam Sud: And then we’ll see that all of their needs make complete sense. Mm hmm. I really want to help change the narrative around substance use disorder and mental illness instead of seeing it as a personal failing and as a disease process, but see it as a reasonable response to a life. This person doesn’t want to be a part of a biological drive to feel safe and they’re doing it in an environment that is fooling their system, that is compelling them to repeat behaviors that look and feel exactly like the right thing to do when in fact they’re not.

Adam Sud: This person does not know why they can’t stop doing it. But I guarantee you they want to. If their life could look different, they would do it. That’s important.

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm.

Dean Pohlman: So I’m going to ask this question in. I want to try to address like let’s say we’re looking at someone in our life who’s like, they’re living an unhealthy lifestyle and they’re they’re they’re gaining weight. They’re you’re concerned about their long term health. They’re not maybe they’re not substance abusing. Maybe they’re not you know, maybe they haven’t gone to the extent that you’re talking about.

Dean Pohlman: Like, walk me through how do I how do I talk with somebody who’s like, hey, like, you know, you’re you’re 40 or £50 overweight. You know, you’re you’re not that old right now, but you’re going as you get older, you’re going to get heavier and heavier. You’re living on it. You know, I’m really concerned about you being around in your fifties or your sixties.

Dean Pohlman: Like, how do you how do you address that? Like, what’s the best way to, you know, express love and support?

Adam Sud: So I have never found, like the one right answer to that question. And there’s very there’s various avenues could take for me and my situation. I found that having someone willing to be a participant in your journey with you is a very, very valuable thing. If you say, Hey, listen, you know, you don’t even have to bring up that they’re overweight, but say, Hey, look, I’ve decided I want to try for 21 days or 28 days, however long I’m going to do it.

Adam Sud: This thing, whether it’s I want to walk two miles a day or I want, you know, two meals a day, I want them to be, you know, paleo or plant based or whatever it is. I want to do this thing and I don’t think I can do it alone. I think I need your help to do it. Mm hmm.

Adam Sud: What you’re saying is they might be valuable to your life. Will you do this with me? That is a very encouraging, very uplifting offer. Rather than saying I, See a problem in you that I want to come and fix, say, Hey, I haven’t figured out how to do this. I think if we did it together, I could figure it out.

Adam Sud: Will you help me? I found that to be very valuable for me in my life when I’ve helped other people. And I helped my actually, my identical twin brother was about £280 after I got sober and he had type two diabetes. And I said, Hey, buddy, I really want to do this thing. I want to start getting into like CrossFit and stuff in L.A., but I can’t do it alone.

Adam Sud: And I really think you might like this lifestyle when you come live with me, live my life. So help me do this as well. Live this plant based lifestyle with me. He ended up doing it. He reversed his diabetes in six weeks. He’s lost 100, £100 as of today. Wow. But I made it equally about me as it was about him.

Adam Sud: I said, I want to help you, you know, reverse diabetes if you’d like to. But I also think it would be great for me if you came live with me because I’m early in recovery. I want to do that. I want to keep doing well. And I think both of our lives could get better if we did this together.

Adam Sud: It was kind of like a mutual offer.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. I mean, it’s it’s just so interesting that our our first urge, our first instinct when we want to help somebody, is like, the wrong way to do it. We’re like, This is what you’re doing wrong, and you need to fix it. Like, which is like essentially saying like, you know, that’s exactly what what doesn’t work. So it’s yeah, I think it’s so interesting that like, you know, given I don’t know, given our understanding of, you know, our biology, this amazing thing and so much of what, you know, so much of what what developed works really well for certain things, but apparently, like our biology did not develop very well when it comes to helping

Dean Pohlman: people too well, Like our first instinct is like, let me convince you why you’re wrong. Like, which is like if you try to have an argument with somebody right, Like, that’s the worst way to win an argument. Don’t try and convince them they’re wrong.

Adam Sud: You can either be right or have friends. It’s up to you. Right. So that actually goes back to evolutionary psychology. So if we were to go back to that village setting, we were in that group of five people. Mm hmm. Subconsciously, you have a ranking. We do this today. Subconsciously You have a ranking of all the people in that group.

Adam Sud: And that ranking is to let the level of importance and value that they bring to the group. Meaning, how much do they keep everyone? Every other one of us alive. How much value and knowledge they have that’s unique to them, that keeps everyone else alive longer. So you have a ranking. So if we’re in that group, you know, this person might think you’re a one.

Adam Sud: This person thinks you’re too. I don’t know what you did to this guy because he thinks you’re a four, but you must have pissed him off at some point. This person thinks you’re a three. Okay, now what happens is this person who’s a four or this person that thinks you’re a four, you come into the group, you go, Guys, guess what I figured out how to do?

Adam Sud: I figured out how to lose weight and eat more. What’s going to happen is that guy who thinks you’re four is going to feel real threatened because what’s happening is you might be bringing knowledge to the group that makes everyone else’s life better and will raise your status amongst that group to a higher number if that happens. If something were to happen to the group like an attack or a weather event, more people are going to spend more of their energy keeping you alive because you’re more valuable the group than everyone else.

Adam Sud: So the number one thing this person is going to do is is not going to make you wrong. What he’s going to do, He’s going to try to make that knowledge look worthless. So he’s going to attack that knowledge. Oh, but what about this? Or oh, what about. They don’t want to know. They’re just needed to make it look like this.

Adam Sud: Knowledge that might threaten the order is worthless to everyone else. If they do that, they maintain that status they maintain. So that is what happens with someone comes in and they go, Hey, listen, you know, I’ve been doing this thing and I’ve lost £50. You should do it. Someone at the table is going to go, Well, that’s dangerous or that’s dumb.

Adam Sud: Or What about this? Or I heard Lectins or I heard blah blah, blah, blah, blah. They don’t care. There is a subconscious drive to maintain a sense of psychological and physical status within the group, and that’s what they’re defending against. So the best thing you can do is say, Hey, guess what? I don’t really know if this is going to work, but I heard about this thing and it seems to make a little bit of sense and I want to try it.

Adam Sud: I don’t think I can do it alone. I think I need you to do it. You’re now giving status to that person across the table who you’re actually trying to help. You’re giving them status amongst a group and saying, if if you don’t help me, I might not might not be able to do it. They want to demonstrate to the group that, yeah, in fact, they’re the person who can it possible.

Adam Sud: They’re going to have a psychological drive to prove you right. That’s a valuable thing to take advantage of.

Dean Pohlman: Cool. So instead of saying, Hey, you’ve got an issue, we want to fix it, you say, Hey, like, you know, I’m really busy during the day. I want to start walking more, but I just. I don’t think I could do it alone if I’d if I didn’t have some accountability. So, yeah. Will you do this walking thing with me?

Dean Pohlman: I’m going to. Yeah, I’m going to.

Adam Sud: Because I don’t think I can do it. Because I don’t think I can do it unless you help me. If you say, Hey, guess what? You know, I notice you’re gaining weight. It’s because you’re not walking enough. What is happening is what’s happening is their sense of status is being threatened. And so they’re going to defend themselves by making your offer look stupid.

Adam Sud: They’re going to go, That’s ridiculous. I it’s not because I’m not walking. I like it like this. This is how I choose to live my life. I’m completely fine. There’s nothing wrong with me. How dare you? How dare you threaten my status? That’s what they’re going to defend against.

Dean Pohlman: Hmm. Okay.

Dean Pohlman: That’s. That’s. That’s really good to know. I think. I think most of us can. So, I mean, gosh, I was thinking of a stupid, stupid plug for mental yoga by saying, like, hey, like, you know, invite your friends to do mental yoga because you don’t you shouldn’t be alone.

Adam Sud: It’s a great point for you. Say, hey, look, you know, I look, you know, I don’t know any.

Dean Pohlman: Type of fitness, but they like that to promote manual yoga, like, like to, you know, whatever. But like any workout you want to do, like, get your friend involved.

Adam Sud: If I’ll tell you, there’s two phrases that can actually be very convincing, it seems. And for now I’ll use it. I’ll use it in this example of Man for yoga for now. Hey, so listen, I heard about this thing called man Flow Yoga. I don’t really know if it’s any good. I don’t know if there’s any value seen as, like.

Adam Sud: It might be beneficial, though, it seems. Means you’re not convinced. And, you know, for now, I’d really like to give it a try. Means you have no intention of doing this for the long term, would you? I don’t think I could do it without someone. I think I need your help. Would you like to go? You know, let’s just go find out if this thing is actually any good.

Adam Sud: What you’re saying is I’m not here to threaten your lifestyle by saying if you don’t do man flow yoga, you’re not doing life, right. In fact, you’re questioning the validity of man flow yoga. You’re asking this person to come and see this this thing actually valuable. They’re more likely to go with you if you have a sense that this you’re not really sure about it seems like it might be a good idea.

Adam Sud: Not really sure. Want to try this for now? They’ll come with you.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. I’m thinking of a soul mate. My dad gave me this example, but he. He hadn’t exactly. He had an executive, and he’s a he’s an oncologist at the Cleveland Clinic. He’s vice chair of operations there.

Adam Sud: Oh, he probably knows Caldwell Esselstyn Rip Stagg because he was the cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic.

Dean Pohlman: Oh, wow. Okay.

Adam Sud: He’s retired for for a while now, but I guarantee you he knows who he is.

Dean Pohlman: Okay. Yeah, probably does. And he told me about an exact thing they had where his boss came in and she didn’t show them a video and say, this video is important. You guys need to watch it and like, let’s do it. And she she brought up a video and she said, hey, like, I saw this video. You know, I’m not really sure what I think about it.

Dean Pohlman: I want you guys to watch it with me in like, let’s like, yes, about it.

Adam Sud: She went in and said, I’m not here to show you the right way to do it. She said, I saw this thing. Not sure about it. Seems interesting. Let’s look at it together.

Dean Pohlman: Ninja. The Ninja. What’s it called? Like the ninja technique in Tiny Habits. He talks about like, this is like the ninja way to do. Yes. Instead of being the group leader, you come in and you implant the seed.

Adam Sud: Exactly right. You give everyone else the opportunity to say you might be the one who could figure out why this is valuable, because I’m not sure about it. Maybe you’re the one who could tell everybody why this is a good thing to do. Then all the value gets added to you. But really you just want the group to do better.

Adam Sud: Mm hmm. Your intention is not to be the one who’s the brightest person in the room, but to be helpful.

Dean Pohlman: Well, people eventually start getting suspicious of you, if you like, you know.

Adam Sud: Because if they do it and it adds value to their life, what they’re going to want to do is they’re going to want to use that this new gained value to gain since a status within the groups are going to they’re going to likely do they’re going to go, guys, I’ve been doing this thing, check this out. I’ve lost X amount of weight or I’ve added this amount of strength or I’ve noticed this, this, this, and this.

Adam Sud: They’re going to own it as something they discovered. If you can discover value that adds value to the people around you, that is a way to increase your self esteem. That is a way to go to a group of people and say, seems I might know how to make things easier and healthier and happier for people. I want people to think of self esteem not as your ego or anything like that, but rather Douglas talks about it as an internal audience.

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm.

Adam Sud: Your self esteem is an internal audience that is responding to you as if it were the world that, you know, watching you do what you do. So if you go into yoga and you do mambo yoga and you lose £10, you gain strength, you gain mobility, the world goes, Holy shit, How did you do that? I’ve tried yoga before and I couldn’t do it for ten days.

Adam Sud: You’ve been doing it for six months. I want to know how you did that. You now have to offer the group. And if you offered it to them, if they ever asked, if asked of it or asked you for it, you would give it to them with unbelievable accuracy. It would make their life better and would raise your sense of esteem within that group.

Adam Sud: That is how you raise self esteem.

Dean Pohlman: Got it. I think it’s worth mentioning, you know, as we’re saying, like, here’s something here’s a strategy that you can use to help yourself and help other people. I think it’s important to mention that the same the same principles of change apply here as they do too. If you want to implement, change yourself. So you need to make sure that it’s an easy, relatively easy enough to do.

Dean Pohlman: You want to make sure that like it’s something that they actually will want to do and it should be a short term thing, right? It should be something like, Hey, I want to try something for I want to try this little thing for 14 days. It’s like, Hey, I want to change my life forever. Now I’m going to try it.

Dean Pohlman: I’m going to start working out every day. I’m going to eat three vegan meals every day. I’m going to meditate every night. Will you? Me? No.

Adam Sud: No, no. In fact, in fact, your brain can’t conceptualize beyond about four weeks. So if I was to say two, four weeks. Yeah. So if I was to say to you, Hey, I need you to eat a plant based diet for the rest of your life, what’s happening inside of your mind is your mind is trying to conceptualize the time, energy and resources necessary to complete that task, and it can’t.

Adam Sud: So it’s getting pretty frustrated. But if I was to say to you, Hey, I want you to eat oatmeal every morning for the next seven days, what’s happening is your brain is like, okay that’s probably like a container of oats, probably takes like 10 minutes to make oatmeal every morning. I know what I could add to it to make it enjoyable.

Adam Sud: I We can do that now. It’s safe.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah.

Adam Sud: That is a much more valuable way to approach change is to say even if you change, you’re looking to do it for yourself. Not sure if this is going to work out in the long term. Let me do this thing the next 7 to 14 days and see what opportunity is possible. If this is a part of my behavior pattern, I’m just going to add this little bit this time.

Adam Sud: Then run the experiment again with another additional change that’s easy to do and easily repeatable. And then over the course of time you’re going to get a sense that says, seems like I might have figured this thing out. Seems like this way of doing it might make my life a little bit more enjoyable, a little bit more easy, a little bit more safe and secure and hopeful.

Adam Sud: Let’s keep going. Let’s just keep this experiment going. Hmm.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. These are awesome tips. Those are going to be really helpful for people. All right. So we’re going to have to come back to do the the actual discussion on on veganism.

Adam Sud: Let’s do that. That’d be great.

Dean Pohlman: But I do want to do our part two rapid fire question is girls sweet also like this was this is one of the best interviews I’ve had in a long time. So yeah, I appreciate that. I hope that people got to get a lot out of this. And in particular, I think the the behavior change and also the tips on how to, like, ask other people to join with you.

Dean Pohlman: Thank you. All right. What do you think is, one, habits, belief or mindset that has helped you the most in terms of your overall happiness?

Adam Sud: Small, incremental changes to my environment.

Dean Pohlman: Hmm. Okay.

Dean Pohlman: That is a that’s a great answer. And it’s unique. What is one thing that you do for your health you think is overlooked or undervalued by others?

Adam Sud: Simplicity. I am not going out trying to purchase elaborate, intricate and specialized opportunities to purchase my health back. I am making simple, specific changes to my environment that encourage health over time.

Dean Pohlman: Hmm.

Dean Pohlman: What’s the most important activity you regularly do for your overall stress management?

Adam Sud: Love my wife.

Dean Pohlman: Okay. Good answer. What is the most stressful part of your day to day life?

Adam Sud: Most stressful. Part of my day to day life is feeling like there’s never enough time to do the things I love the most.

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm. Yeah, I hear that. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing men and their well-being right now?

Adam Sud: Okay. I Really think that the biggest challenge facing men and their ability to be well is the belief that they have to have it figured out alone.

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm.

Adam Sud: I think men, just like women, are very much tribal creatures. We need a group. We need our brotherhood. We need a community to figure things out. And there’s nothing less. There’s nothing that removes your. Your manhood by saying I figured it out with that person.

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm. Okay.

Dean Pohlman: Do you wanna go into that a little bit more?

Adam Sud: Yeah. I think that we’ve been sold a societal story that you got to figure it out on your own, that men don’t ask for help. Hmm. Okay. Yeah, we’ll figure it out. I got this. I got it. Don’t worry. You know, it’s. You know, I can deal with it. I can take care of it. I’ll figure it out.

Dean Pohlman: Well, thank God we have Google now. Jesus. Yeah. Pretty hard. 20 years ago, like, Oh, do I look up?

Adam Sud: But my feeling is, man, if you don’t have to do it alone, why would you?

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm.

Adam Sud: If you can figure this out with the support of somebody who truly wants to see you do well, has your best interests at heart. There is nothing that about that that makes you less of a man.

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. And as we talked about today, when you do need help with something, that’s an opportunity to connect with other people. There’s an opportunity there.

Adam Sud: Yeah. I’ll tell you, there is power in acceptance. There is strength in forgiveness. And there is unbelievable potential when we can lay our egos aside and realize how much strength it takes to actually ask for help.

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. Wow. Okay. Amazing conversation. I know that I will direct people to to go follow you on Instagram, but where else can people keep up with you and what you’re doing?

Adam Sud: Yeah, I have a website. Adam said dot com. I’ve got interviews on there. If you want to see some older interviews. You can read about my research study investigating the effects of nutrition on addiction recovery outcomes. And you can book me as a speaker. You can look into my consulting services and yeah so my Instagram plant-based addict, my website.

Adam Sud: Adam sitcom.

Dean Pohlman: Cool. And yeah, I think next time we’re going to talk about some of your consulting because that that that seems really impressive.

Adam Sud: It’s pretty cool stuff.

Dean Pohlman: What you mentioned me seem pretty cool, so, you know. All right, man. Wow. Amazing interview. Thank you so much for joining me. It was awesome.

Adam Sud: My pleasure.

Dean Pohlman: Guys, if you’re listening, I hope this inspires you to be a better man. And I hope to see you on another episode soon.


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Tired of doing a form of yoga that causes more injuries than it helps prevent? The cold, hard truth is men need yoga specifically designed for them. Well, here’s some good news: You can start your 7-day free trial to Man Flow Yoga by visiting https://ManFlowYoga.com/join.

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