How can disaster and setbacks help us change for the better?
Today I’m speaking with Dr. Anthony Balduzzi, a weight loss expert, and doctor in naturopathic medicine. Dr. Anthony is the founder of The Fit Father and The Fit Mother project, and has helped over 40,000 people lose weight and get healthy without following fad diets or spending countless hours in the gym.
Anthony is a former national champion bodybuilder who has used his unique blend of knowledge and experience to help men and women all over the world, in over 100 countries, to lose weight, keep it off, and perform at peak capacities.
In our conversation, we dig into the lessons he learned from trauma at a young age, his actionable advice for boosting immunity and staving off disease, the importance of reconnecting with nature, and so much more.
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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Watch a Clip From Episode 018
Key Takeaways with Dr. Anthony Balduzzi
- How a skiing accident that shattered Anthony’s body turned out to be the most transformative experience in his life.
- You decide whether pain destroys you, or helps you grow.
- Don’t run away from uncomfortable emotions and sensations in the body. Sit with them, observe them, and see what happens.
- Learn the “behavioral hooks” through which Dr. Anthony helps clients lose weight and keep it off.
- Don’t rely on willpower. Create sustainable systems, and you won’t even need willpower after a while.
- Exercise doesn’t need to take a lot of time. Find out how some of Dr. Anthony’s clients lost over 100 pounds by simply walking.
- We’re neglecting nature’s profound effect on our physiology. Breathe some fresh air, get some sun on your body.
- Learn the easiest and most overlooked nutrition routines that will improve your health.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi Notable Quotes
- “The practice of regularly observing the mind through something like meditation is the number one thing that has continued to sustainably lead me to a place of seeing everything as beautiful.” – Dr. Anthony Balduzzi
- “Pain is amazing because it gives you the opportunity to detach from your body. We feel pain. It is a sensation. When we experience pain, and we reject it, we then start to suffer.” – Anthony Balduzzi
- “Improving what you put into your mouth consistently for the rest of your life is probably going to be the most impactful thing you experience.” – Anthony Balduzzi
- “Imagine a world where we did have men that were strong, aligned, pure of heart, and that was what was guiding families and in communities. The world would effectively be a very different place.” – Anthony Balduzzi
- “Try your best. Forgive when you slip up. And if you do this constantly, you better believe you’re creating more positive momentum and those slip-ups become far less frequent.” – Anthony Balduzzi
Dean Pohlman: All right. Welcome to the Better Man Podcast with Man Flow Yoga. Today, I’ve got a very special guest. This is Anthony Balduzzi. Is it bal-duchi or is it bal-dusi of the Fit Father Project?
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: It might have been bal-duchi back in the day but it’s been bal-dusi for a while, at least in our family. You know, Italian Cs and the Zs are pretty similar but Anthony Balduzzi. Yeah.
Dean Pohlman: Okay. I kind of wanted like this really rich bal-duchi, you know.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: You can still do bal-du-tsi.
Dean Pohlman: And you have to move your fingers while you do it. Or does it?
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Sure. Extra Italian.
Dean Pohlman: Nice. So, let me tell the story of how we met. So, this was a very long courting. I spent about a year-and-a-half messaging Anthony, the Dr. A on the Fit Father Project. And I think it took about six months. But then he responded and then I didn’t notice that he responded for another four months. And then I eventually got back to him and then we set up a call and during that first call we were like, “Oh, this is a go. We got to do something.” And we planned on creating a major project together in the first phone call. So, it was fate. It took a while but, anyways, we eventually made it work.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Yeah. Well, it’s been a cool journey. And just the sneak peek is I’m really grateful that you were able to produce a private yoga program for our Fit Father members. It’s going to be amazing. So, we have a lot of good things to be here. I’m happy to be in partnership, and I hope we have a good conversation today about men’s health and anywhere else we go.
Dean Pohlman: Oh, yeah, man. We’re going to go deep. I’m going to do my best. And you’re a guy that’s open enough to do it and that’s something that I want to talk to you later on, something that I first noticed when we just met. You have this ability to look at things in life that seem mundane or normal and say, “How beautiful is that?” And for a while I was like, “There’s no way anybody’s actually like that. I don’t believe it. Like, that’s bullsh*t.” And then I started to meet more people like that and I’m like, “Oh, you know what? There’s just something special about them.” So, I’m going to ask you about that later but anyways, that’s the type of person that Anthony is, just so you know. Should I be calling you Dr. A? I feel like I’m taking away from your credibility.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: No, it’s fine. I appreciate that. You know, it’s funny. I don’t even know what to call myself but in many instances in the business, I refer to myself as Dr. A because, hey, look, I am a doctor. I know a lot about health. At the same time, I’m your friend but I kind of feel stodgy to be anything else. You know what I mean?
Dean Pohlman: Dr. A sounds friendly, though. Yes, it does.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: I’m a friendly guy so let’s use that one.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. And I’ll bring that up right now because I wanted to anyways but you have kind of an interesting story of how you made your way into becoming a doctor. You started off as a bodybuilder. I think you said at your, you know, when you were competing, you were at, what, 250 pounds or…?
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Yeah. So, let me take it back a step further because I think it’s pretty relevant before we get there is that the reason I became passionate about health and fitness as a kid is because my dad was very sick growing up and I watched him die when he was 42 years old.
Dean Pohlman: Geez.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: I was nine. It was like right before my 10th birthday. It was like a couple of months.
Dean Pohlman: What was he like?
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Having that… Well, yeah, he had cancer. He had cancer and, man, I just saw him like work his ass off to put food on the table for our family. And he got cancer and then I saw him fight for his life and eventually passed away at 42. And so, to see your parents go through health decline, decay of the body, loss of vitality and strength, it made such an impression on me as a young man that I knew I was almost compelled from that point in my life to pursue how do I strengthen and increase my vitality? How do I start to become strong? And so, it led me in my very early teens, I was in high school reading nutrition books and packing my own meals and starting to cook things, learning how to train. And I’m a pretty smart guy. I started approaching this from like a really in-depth study perspective. And eventually, as a testosterone-fueled 18-year-old man, it led me into wanting to get huge. So, as you’re lifting more, you’re getting muscle. And then I was always inspired by looking at these muscle magazines of these bodybuilders, and I was just like, “Holy sh*t, you can look like that through training?” And for whatever reason, it captured my heart.
And bodybuilding, I would say, was probably one of my first loves. And I actually picked the college I went to. I went to my guidance counselor. I’m like, “What’s the best school you think I can get into that also has an amazing gym?” And so, we did like the search and I ended up going to finding a place called the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. And when I walked into their gym, they had a bodybuilding show. It said, “Mr. Penn Bodybuilding Show.” And I looked at my mom and I’m like, “Mom, I’m going to come here to this school. I’m going to win that thing one day.” So, I go to this school.
Dean Pohlman: It’s a pretty good school. You know, it’s not typically known. I don’t think people typically think of University of Pennsylvania for the gym but if that’s what got you there, then great.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: It did. I like the gym and I spent a lot of time there in college, probably more so than I did in anything in class. And I started competing. I started becoming a competitive bodybuilder. I won my first show. I think about a year later. I ended up winning that Mr. Penn show, going on to compete at a national level after those Mr. Penn shows, lost that show, came back. Anyways, there’s a mini amateur bodybuilding career that’s happening at this period of my life and I’m learning so much. I’m getting to explore the world. Bodybuilding.com brought me out for some really cool like sponsoring things and as a young man in your 20s, you’re like, “This is sweet, man.” I’m winning bodybuilding shows. All my knowledge is paying off. And it developed in me a sense of ego attachment to the body like you would still say I was a good guy but there were some attachments that came along with this physical process. You know, I also gained confidence and there was some good stuff too.
And I decided to attend a naturopathic medical school, which is different than your traditional M.D., what you would call a medical doctor. You have DOs, which are also doctors of osteopathy. You may see those around a lot. And there’s another licensed degree in many states called a naturopathic doctor, an N.M.D. And so, I looked at the program and it basically was a medical training, really based on the principles of prevention, treating the whole person, using food as medicine. And many of these more natural approaches that when I saw what my dad went through and also just looked around too, I didn’t really jive with the current medical culture we have where it’s like you have a problem, here’s a f*cking pill for that. I mean that’s ultimately what ironically I’m helping guys fix now with Fit Father Project because look around at the number of people who are sick today, it’s like probably 60% of men over 40 are obese and on multiple prescription medications for cholesterol, high blood pressure, blood sugar stuff.
And the guys in their 30s who aren’t there yet are setting themselves up through like stress, poor living, not living in accordance with natural law. You get there when you’re 40, just tack on some kids ten years and some stress and like it’s not hard to see how many people get into this situation. So, I don’t know. At this point, it kind of seems like this turned into the story of Anthony life rant but I guess we’re almost at the end. So, I go to naturopathic medical school and my life has changed. It’s changed in many ways through what I learn and how connected I get to the healing arts. But, two, because in the very final year of medical school before I graduate, I go on a skiing trip with one of my friends, a buddy, and we are getting after it. We’re both very good skiers and we’re just bombing this day. And I had an intuition that I needed to slow down and not mess with it. And my buddy, Barrack, did too. We didn’t say anything to each other. Day charges on and there’s like this one run I was going off that has a little bit of like a slope down. It’s like something very skiable but if you’re taking it really like heavy and hot and you jump a little bit, you can float for like 15, 20 feet. It’s kind of like leaping off this little hill at high speed.
And so, I do this and on the bottom, as I land, I absolutely eat sh*t. Just everything destroyed flying down the hill. I end up slamming into a tree at about 30 miles per hour, shattering my femur, breaking my arm, and almost dying on the spot. I get evacuated out of there. I go through this reconstructive leg experience where they had to build back my leg, rod, screws, lengthening surgeries, all this and through this process to loop back to what you were asking about why I see everything is beautiful. This is part of my purification process of this death of my ego and detachment from my body because I had to. As I went from this cocky 20-year-old elite bodybuilder kind of dude down to a broken man in his 20s and 30s body kind of destroyed in the rebuilding process, it led to deep spiritual awakenings that I believe were the best thing that has ever happened in my life and has really led to the blossom of all this. And all this is happening at the same time we’re building Fit Father Project. Yeah. So, basically taking what I learned in medical school and helping guys lose weight. Yes.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. So, I want to dig into that death of the ego a little bit. What was going on? I mean, what was going on in your head? What did you have to go through in order to go from, “I am an extremely attractive bodybuilder with muscles on muscles. My self-image, my self-worth is wrapped up in my body, how I look, how powerful I feel.” And you had to go from there to, “My body is not what I thought it was.” I mean, what did you go through? What strategies did you use to work through that? I would love to know about like what’s the deep work that went on.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Sure. It’s the deep work that can truly happen in every moment, which is feeling, feeling everything that naturally arises and experiencing that, and kind of being with it and trying to understand it. So, here’s what I’ll share. You can see how the unfoldment happens. At first, you wake up in hospital bed and your sh*t is all shattered and you’re just trying to figure out what even happened and trying to piece it together. Over time, as you progress in having the leg, you’re inherently confronted with limitations. Immediately, you can fight it but humility will find you like when you can’t get up off the toilet by yourself. You can’t move. You have to pee in a cup because your leg is so f*cking shattered you can’t move it. So, humility finds you in these intense experience. And that starts to soften this grasp that we have on these things we’re attached to. Now, the next thing I want to share is pain. Pain is amazing because it gives you the opportunity to detach from your body. We feel pain. It is a sensation. When we experience pain and we reject pain, we then start to suffer.
There are two people with the same kind of amount of hurt leg. One can be suffering tremendously more because of their attachment to the pain and all the thinking that comes around with that. Whereas you can also observe pain much as like people do in meditation when you sit and you observe the movement of the breath naturally. And when you start to observe either the breath or the constant sensation of pain, then in many ways you’ve just been gifted, if you’ve had a tremendous injury, it starts to awaken you to the fact that you are not the body. You have a body but you are not the body. You can observe it. And I’ll tell you this, as a man who spent more time in pain in bed than anyone I may know at my age, you can also do amazing things with your mind to completely not experience that pain, like in a deep state of meditation, with the mind withdrawn from the sensation in the body and just sitting into the experience of being itself. There are times where I can experience no pain for prolonged bits, and this is during that intense period. But also like I got to figure this stuff out through my own direct experience of closing my eyes and also just like the things that arose and enforce out of that.
Now, for people who don’t, this would be now a little bit of unsolicited advice, but for people who aren’t gifted these intense, powerful experiences that almost make you choose between the path of growth or more attachment and suffering, I do think the practice of regularly observing your own mind through something like meditation is the number one thing that has continued to sustainably lead me to a place of seeing everything as beautiful. Because, ultimately, when you start to no longer attach to all these things we’re attached to like for many years I was insecure about how my nose looked like physical insecurities or things we attached to, those also can be observed and anticipated. When we observe our regular habitual patterns, all the kind of mental scripts that are running and we come to the realization that we are observing them, they come and go. We are still here. We are not those things. It can create a psychological distance, a healthy observer observed effect, which can loosen the bonds that chain us all.
Are we not limited effectively by our own attachments to our own kind of past bullsh*t and maybe what our beliefs are? In many ways, yes, these things can imprison us. But also, when released, I feel like you can experience life as this flow of absolute beauty. Many people have that as an experience they have here. This is kind of what’s been real for me, though.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. So, like two things came up. So, it sounds like to me when you were in that experience, when you were experiencing this pain in a way, it sounds like it was an easy choice. You can stay attached to the pain. You can stay attached to it.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: “I can’t believe I’m in pain. Why are you here? Why is this happening?” Yes. Denial of exactly what is. And the only present reality is that I am here and this is the sensation of pain. It is here too. No rejection. Acceptance.
Dean Pohlman: And kind of what I’m also feeling or intuiting is that you could cling to the expectations of what your body was and have that pain or you could choose, okay, this is different but there’s no pain in this. You know, that’s kind of what I’m feeling.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Yes, for sure. For sure. Yes. And what’s also really amazing is when you get your body and your mind out of that state of fearful attachment, you actually bring your body into a state that it’s able to heal faster. A happy, relaxed like accepted body is way, way better at healing, one that is in a sympathetic stressed state, I mean, when I’m trying to be stressfully active.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. I had a friend whose name is Chris Bocklet. He was a former major league lacrosse player. I think it was an all-American collegiate lacrosse player. And he had a terrible skateboarding accident or longboarding accident, serious head injury. And his mom came to the hospital and she encouraged him to meditate. And she’s a super positive person. Anyways, his name is like one of the nicknames people have for him is like Big Chris Energy. This idea of Big Chris is just a super happy guy who does summer lacrosse camps for kids. He’s an awesome guy. But combining his positive mindset with practicing meditation, he was able to recover way faster than any of the doctors expected him to. And it’s such a cool story because it kind of flies against the face of what you hear about from traditional prognoses, what you’ll hear about from doctors like, “Ah, he’s going to be out eight weeks,” or you hear stories about, “Oh, you’ll never walk again,” and then they use that as fuel, too.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: And we adopt these beliefs as ours oftentimes. And that’s the one only real mistake made is we have a culture that means that we accept these kinds of limitations. And I also think there’s a lot of – and this is something I really value from naturopathic medicine. I think that traditional medicine because it’s made so many advancements can be very prideful at times. And I think if we think we have this body figured out at this point based on our applications of pharmacology and surgery, then we are so silly and prideful. There is so much more to this body than we understand. And a lot of it’s likely in the frontiers of electromagnetism. And we have this electric spine, and how that governs the nervous system governs all the functions and how the mind interfaces with all of that. Like just look at the stories, we hear from all these other things of humans using the power of the mind to do incredible things, whether that’s people doing the Tummo meditation that they do in there, like steaming off snow in the Himalayas or like a Wim Hof style guy who uses concentrated breathing in like a meditative state to achieve big physiology changes to all the other amazing, fantastic things. The mind is the frontier.
And I think we have a very much like a doctor-patient I’m outsourcing my healing abilities kind of like subtle culture right now in medicine, whereas I believe the medicine of the future when we understand more and people are able to like rise is going to be one where individuals feel personally empowered with simple and basic foundational things living in accordance to natural law to be able to maintain their own health. It’s crazy. But I also see we have a system that’s driven largely by profit as well. It’s no mistake that we’re trying to push pills on people.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. It’s interesting. I had this conversation with – so my coach runs this company called Central Athlete, met him here in Austin, but I had him on the Better Man Podcast a few weeks ago or depending on when this goes live, whenever that is. And this is something that we’re talking about how doctors, at least in their traditional sense in the West, their job is not to help you with your lifestyle. It’s to treat acute pain. It’s to treat acute symptom. And he was getting at it’s up to the kind of the frontline fitness professionals to start working on teaching people how to live healthy lifestyles. And the doctors are, obviously, they’re very important but they are not there to train you about lifestyle. They are there to help with acute things.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: They don’t have the time. The model doesn’t work for it. And, honestly, most MDs need a sh*t ton more training in the fields of nutrition because that’s not how their school is designed.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, exactly. And that’s the other thing. And I’m very sympathetic to doctors in general because my dad is an oncologist. I’m in health and fitness world. So, when I see people saying like, “Doctors are out to get your money and Big Pharma. Just watch,” I’m like they’re doing the best they can with the models that they’ve developed. And this is also what most people expect. Most people expect to be able to get a pill to treat their symptoms. They’re not going in thinking…
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: 100%. It’s feeding itself.
Dean Pohlman: Yes. They’re not going in thinking, “Okay. Teach me what to eat, teach me how to exercise, teach me how to change my mindset. How do I manage stress?”
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Correct. That’s what guys like you and me are out here trying to do. And before we move on to that because I think that’ll be fun to start to get into some specifics on the health stuff, I do want to say this as well. I have the utmost respect for all doctors that go into professions, regardless of what type of letters are behind people’s names. And I’ll say particularly the MDs, I’ve had a series of MDs that have like saved my body in my life. So, I’m grateful too. And I also really do appreciate that I’m a man who’s really figured out how to keep this body besides injuring myself in crazy accidents, keep this body in fantastic health in accordance to what I believe are the natural laws of how we should manage our bodies. It’s amazing. All right.
Dean Pohlman: 100%.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Let’s keep on going.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. And let’s see if we come back to the medical system later on. But I wanted to ask you as in your expertise as the Fit Father Project mastermind genius, whatever we want to call this, what are the biggest components of getting healthy, of losing weight that guys would not expect? You know, you talk to a lot of guys in their 40s, 50s, let’s say even 60s, and they’re like, “Yeah, I just need to lose weight. So, I’m going to start jogging, I’m going to start lifting weights again, and that’s just going to melt the fat right off.” And people just, they understand so little about how weight loss works. So, I just want to know from you what are let’s say three of the biggest components to living a healthier lifestyle to losing weight that guys would not expect.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Gotcha. Well, first off, I’ll say it’s pretty interesting because I think there are some humongous misconceptions out there, like the idea that particularly as you age that you can out-exercise a bad diet or that exercise takes priority over nutrition. So, maybe some people do that. And still there are people we meet through our programs that really, truly believe they could just go like run more or do stuff and just not change nutrition. They’d be frustrated at losing weight. Yeah. At the same time, there are so many people, particularly in the United States, that have been through the diet wringer a million times. They know that nutrition is the key. Like, they know that it’s really important. The problem is it is incredibly hard or has been for most people up to this point in their lives to create a sustainable nutrition plan.
Dean Pohlman: Yes. Sustainable.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Like one they could actually stick to, right? I mean, they’ve tried keto for some time, maybe some plant-based for some time or whatever the hell it was. You know, even if you get something like Weightwatchers or Nutrisystem, right, we’ll ship you food for the next four weeks. “Oh, you lost weight. Who would have thought?” Are going to buy my damn boxed food for the next 40 years? You have no habits on how to like maintain this stuff. Okay. And that’s not to be disparaging to anyone who’s struggling with this. Most people are struggling with this, which means it’s a really common and hard problem. And the reason it’s common and hard is because we are so damn busy in today’s day and age that it’s hard. It’s oftentimes if you don’t have the habits to find a way to create new habits amidst the chaos of your life. If you have kids, it makes it even more complicated with all the logistics involved with that. And we have a lot of emotional baggage around food and food also tastes good. People use it for stress relief. Many, many things. Now, that all sounds like a freaking mess. How do you start to unpack that?
Well, the way we think about unpacking that and teaching people and helping them make change is this very simple fact. Every day we wake up, this is an opportunity like our life is in these sectioned units. We have this kind of day and we have the ability to make that day like positive and productive towards our goals of losing weight. And that means that we’re going to need to do some things in the categories of moving our body, taking care of nutrition, etcetera, etcetera. How do we actually make that process like sustainable, smooth, fits your lifestyle, actually enjoyable? If you check these boxes, you’re golden. And now you also got to make it simple.
Dean Pohlman: Repeat those four ones for me again.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Yeah. I would say 100% has to be sustainable. It has to be smooth, which is very much sustainable. If there’s too many friction points, you’re not going to stick with it.
Dean Pohlman: Just be able to do it. Yeah.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Yeah. You have to be able to do it, which means simple to play it but it actually has to be enjoyable. And this is the one that I think most people miss is that it has to be enjoyable. It has to be in respect to the rhythms of our life. So, let’s get into this. One of the first things we do on our Fit Father meal plan is we have people decide what their meal timing schedule is. When do you eat? Just like how the body is built like we got like a bone structure, right, that then the muscles hang off of? This “when” question is the structure of your entire thing. When do you eat? Are you the kind of person who enjoys breakfast or you wake up really early for work? Then maybe you might want to do something like this. Breakfast, early. Lunch, noon. Afternoon, mini-meal at three. Dinner at 6, 7. Okay. We call it like a 4×4. Or you’re someone who’s not hungry for breakfast and you want to do some intermittent fasting. You skip the first meal. You have the first meal maybe 11 or noon. Maybe you have that snack at three. Dinner at four. Or if we even have like mealtime schedule setups for people who work like night shift, third shift, whatever.
Point is you decide on that. That gives you the scaffolding and structure because this is really important for a couple of reasons. One, every new day, regardless of what you did yesterday, these are like behavioral hooks that you can go onto, especially if you make your first meal of the day a consistent meal one. We help people do like maybe it’s one of our like awesome smoothie recipes with a bunch of like protein and good stuff in there, berries, cacao, whatever, that kind of thing. Maybe it’s some eggs and some fruit, maybe it’s some overnight oatmeal, like make that first meal of the day anchored in sustainable. Psychologically, what this is doing is setting yourself up for sustainability. You’re not snacking in between. You have discrete meals, and you’re starting to slide in what your go-to meals are here. What we typically recommend for most people because we need to keep it enjoyable is that you have your meals really dialed in the first one to two meals of your day, very consistent meals that are not hard to digest. So, something like that smoothie or like that. And then at dinner, you could have far more variety.
In dinner, we teach different kinds of concepts but this skill of reworking your nutrition from what it was, which is maybe like inconsistent breakfast, order out quite a bit, snack all the time, particularly on bad stuff, eat too late at night, not drink enough water, and probably have stimulants. What I just described here to move that to something that is like clean, regimented, healthy, still tastes good, takes time. But what we found is you can do it in 30 days but you can do it in 30 days if you really frickin focus on it. And like one of our magic sauces of our wire program is so effective is we put guys, everyone in community so they’re like they get thrown in on their day one into the community of guys that are working on it. So, they’re seeing guys that are like 400 days down the line. They’re seeing guys that are starting on the same day as them. And there’s a lot of camaraderie to this because, look, this is a full team effort to change these foundational habits of what you put in your mouth.
And I’ll tell you this, and of all the personal development bullsh*t that you could invest in, and I’m saying bullsh*t because it’s helped me a lot in life, I’ll take that back to personal development stuff. You improving what you put into your mouth on a consistent basis for the rest of your life is probably going to be the most impactful thing you experience. It’s going to be either driving inflammation or health, energy, and vitality. It’s either going to be putting you down these one or two different paths and you can turn it around.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. So, two things to that. First off, I love the phrase you use, creating behavioral hooks because that is the foundation, at least in my understanding of behavioral science. Maybe because I haven’t gone deeper yet but my big understanding and what I try to promote is this idea of creating behavioral hooks. So, what do you mean by creating behavioral hooks? Because I’d love to dig into that.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Well, okay, how about this? A behavioral hook is something that is going to help us more likely that we take the next good behavior or it leads us to this, to what we want to do, what we set out to do. And I think something like standardizing your first meal of the day is such a powerful behavioral hook in itself and many other things, because, one, you wake up, you have your first decision you need to make is you’re nourishing your body with something you have completely dialed in you don’t need to make any choice about. Like, this is something that is like a ritualized hook that just goes right in. You don’t have to exert thinking and willpower and it sets you up also for more momentum as you move throughout the rest of the day and have a good healthy breakfast. Your likelihood of eating a healthy lunch is a lot better than if you mess something up, had a muffin, had a coffee, whatever. It sets your momentum. It’s like each new day, boom, it casts you out into your day with one or two different states.
The other cool thing why you might also consider it a hook is let’s say we had a day with our nutrition that we just totally blew it. I mean it was a stressful day at work. We went to like the office party. We ate way too much sh*t that we shouldn’t have. Our stomach f*cking hurts. We had indigestion again. We go to bed. The next day we wake up, one of two things can happen. We can change the momentum of what just happened last night and move it into a new positive direction with a behavioral hook or we can allow this to devolve into a, “Oh, I feel like sh*t,” and boom, boom, boom. This is exactly what negative momentum is. And it happens to people’s health all the time. You fall off the diet. If you fell off a diet for one day but you hop back on, you’re good. If you fall off the diet and then it leads into this snowball of like complete crash and burn, which happens to so many people, then you’re just yo-yo dieting constantly, right? Maybe your plan was not sustainable from day one, so it was natural that you were going to crash.
But either way, you need to have something that can kick you out of that funk because you best believe for the rest of your life there is going to be things that might throw a bump in your routine. You could be going along and your parents get sick and they die. And that adds a stress to your life. When these things happen, how do you have this kind of like just general daily health system that guides you along and makes it more likely that you eat better food? So, we’re talking about behavioral psychology applied in the field of like, I don’t know, practical nutrition to make it more sustainable.
Dean Pohlman: And you can also think about it like a domino effect, though, right? If you do something good at the beginning of the day, then, “Oh, I’m going to do something else good.” It kind of sets up everything else. So, you talked about negative momentum. There’s also positive momentum. Like, if you make a good decision…
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Like both sides.
Dean Pohlman: Yes, exactly. It works both ways.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: We’re always in one or the other, right, brother? And so, every new day, we have the ability to shift ourselves a little bit more. And also, that momentum, I think, is also in different domains because you can have either a positive or negative momentum maybe in your work life or your relationship or your health. But I think the health one’s so fascinating because it fundamentally changes the way your body feels and your like stress responses so it affects everything else.
Dean Pohlman: Right, everything.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Invariably. Right? There’s no one who doesn’t feel like all the other areas of their lives are improved the second they lose 40 pounds and get off medications. We see it. Guys are in the program like, “Dude, I thought I was just here to lose 20 pounds.” I didn’t know I’d like completely revitalize my life and I’m like I love my wife again.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. Oh, my gosh. That’s so cool. So, and then the other thing I want to point out is you mentioned people are just so busy. So, if you want to think about how hard it is to create change, I want you to think about all the different things you currently have going on in your life, the stress that you have with your work, the stress that you have with your family, the stress that you have with your individual relationships, the stress that you have trying to be a little bit healthier. And now I want you to have all of that stress, and I want you to add something else on top of that. That’s why it’s so hard because willpower is really limited. So, introducing even little changes is hard to do because you’ve already got so much stuff going on.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Yes. Systems, though, systems give you the structure. If you commit to a system, you don’t need to use willpower. It almost like outsources that willpower into like a scaffolding that you can just always return to. And then your only thing is continuing to try your best and also forgive when you slip up. Try your best. Forgive when you slip up. And if you do this constantly, you better believe you’re creating more positive momentum and those slip-ups become far less frequent. You actually start to change your self-identity at a very deep level as you be more consistent. So, there’s a lot of psychological rewiring.
Dean Pohlman: We’ll get into that, too, but I like that you said every day is an opportunity. I had Kelly Starrett was on my first guest on here. And he said, “You don’t win at fitness. You don’t have a day. You don’t do your workout and have a meal and then, ‘I win. I’m done. I won. I’m the champion,’ like you do it again the next day.” Like you don’t win at marriage. You don’t have like an, “Oh, I had a really great day with my wife. I won at marriage.” No. You just like do the best you can every day. It’s a new opportunity every day.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: It’s almost like fitness is a verb, not a noun. I know it is a noun but like these things are verbs. They’re to-dos.
Dean Pohlman: Yes. Right.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: They’re actions. They’re ongoing. They’re not discrete entities unless you did fitness for a day.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. I mean, any good wedding talks about love as a verb, not as a noun, right?
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: That’s good. Yeah.
Dean Pohlman: All right. So, we talked about one thing. What’s another huge thing that guys don’t understand when it comes to losing weight, creating healthy change?
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: All right. Fine. Here’s the other thing. I think the other thing we’re here to manage is to keep the state of your nervous system is either going to be in a stressed state or a more relaxed state. Optimal health is created by having what we call a parasympathetic nervous system dominance. We have the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches. Sympathetic gets keyed up when we are stressed mentally or physically, and it’s very helpful. It changes the metabolism tremendously to liberate sugar, to get ready to get after it, but it also puts more strain on the heart. We want to have this acutely when we play sports or do things or maybe just get scared by our kids or something like that. But what we actually want is parasympathetic dominance. And the reason I bring this up is because I would say prioritizing sleep and really restoring proper circadian rhythm is something that all men who want to live healthier need to start prioritizing almost as much as nutrition.
And what I believe this means is like maybe keeping your stimulant use in check, ideally cutting it down a little bit. Working on creating more boundaries and a healthier, easier, more relaxing way to go to bed, which I mean, I think is probably like less phone and stimulation from screens like wind that sh*t down and try to get to bed in time, get the lights off, whatever, like do something relaxing for yourself or taking a shower and whatnot. Sleeping better but also getting out in the sunshine in the morning, getting some sun on your skin in your eyes, the best form of Vitamin D, I know we supplement it. It comes from what is produced in the system.
Dean Pohlman: Easy for you Mr. Scottsdale.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Yeah. No, this is… Okay. Point absolutely made. Wherever you are, get some sun into your eyes. This is why I’ll share this. Look, our human bodies, we tend to forget this because we kind of live in these houses now and we’re disconnected. We feel like we’re disconnected. These bodies developed intimately with nature. And do you know what f*cking runs nature? The sun, the life cycle, and the dark cycle. And so, it has a profound effect on our physiology. During the light in the morning, when the light gets into our eyes, it activates our brain. The eyes have nerves. It goes straight into the brain. The eyes are almost like the brain. They’re the extension of the brain. And so, when we get light that goes and activates these areas, it actually produces serotonin, which makes us feel good. What the hell are all these like what do we think we’re prescribing millions of prescriptions of? The serotonin-increasing drugs for people who have mood disorders.
But, look, what I’m trying to make a subtle point here as a good naturopath that we have a natural pharmacy inside of us but it gets activated when we live in accordance to, I would say, is natural law for our bodies, which means we should get some sun. I know it’s not always possible but at least some sun in your eyes can make you feel good. And you start to improve also your breathing throughout the day. Start to get a more relaxed way of breathing, start to breathe your nose a little bit better. The breath has such a fundamental effect on your nervous system, probably more directly than almost anything that we really do have. You know, you can hyperventilate yourself with breathing so you can relax yourself with deep breathing. So, when you are relaxed, you breathe deep. When you are stressed, you breathe. It works both ways. And I think this is important because when we look at our bodies for typically thinking about like exercise output and foods that we put in and maybe a little bit of a sleep conversation.
And what I’m suggesting is that there’s also this idea of like your nervous system balance like how you’re breathing, like breath is everything. You can go without food for a while but like the better humans breathe and they’re supposed to breathe through their nose is like ideal and for health. It is so important for health. It will help you live longer if you learn how to be a good breather. Good, relaxed breather, certainly less than ten respirations per minute. You get there and you’re relaxed. Look at those heart rate variability things, that will increase when your body’s in a more parasympathetic state, which ends up making you more creative or relaxed, keeps the stress off your heart. So, I think that’s another thing. We haven’t mentioned any high-intensity exercises yet. I’m frickin telling you that like wake up, drink water first thing in the morning, run through whatever meal schedule setup you have, get some sun, and walk. Walk as much as you can. Like, if you did that, don’t get me wrong. I’m a guy who loves exercise. I would 100% prefer that you put exercise in there as well if that’s something you’re into.
But I’m just saying that baseline plan of just drinking some more water, following the meal timing schedule setup, getting to bed on time, and getting some sun in your eyes in the morning, you’re going to feel so much freaking better. We’ve literally helped guys lose 100 pounds without touching a dumbbell or a treadmill, literally just walking. And it’s like we hear these stories. They’re just absolutely true. Like to lose weight, you do not have to exercise but this human body does require daily activity and that is a difference. Exercise is vigorous. It improves your strength, your fitness, your stamina, your performance. It has tons of cognitive benefits, and it keeps your body like durable into old age. But the human body effectively can be fine with just gentle movements for long health, lots of walking. And I would say that probably the fundamental core stretches that are presented in yoga and in your programs like that’s the truth.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. That’s an awesome answer. So, I want to reply to a couple of things. First off, the nasal breathing. The first episode we did on the Better Man Podcast, I had Brian Mackenzie, who is like the breath expert. I was fortunate to have him in my book, Yoga for Athletes, and that episode we just go so deep into the power of breathing through your nose and controlling your breathing and all of the things that come from that. Because, obviously, it doesn’t just have an effect on your physical well-being but it also changes the way you start to think. You start to be more…
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Those two things are completely tied, right?
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. You start to be more aware of your thinking. You start to be more aware of just what am I doing right now?
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Doesn’t that bring you into more of a meditative state?
Dean Pohlman: Oh, yeah.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Just like we’re describing, the state of being an observer. You’re aware. You’re aware that you’re aware. You’re not sucked into the mire of the matrix because we’re attached to all these things. We’re running around like crazy. You’re like, “Wait a second,” like space, awareness.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. So, if you’re looking to get inspired about nasal breathing, go check out the first episode. And the second thing I wanted to say is this idea of parasympathetic nervous system dominant. And I wanted to talk about my most popular YouTube videos, which are sexual videos, videos on sexual health. And I think people come into this thinking, “Oh, I got to get stronger. If I just get stronger, if I get a stronger core, if I get stronger hips, then I’m going to get a stronger erection and I’m going to have more sex and more sexual vitality.” And I’m like, “Yeah, that’s like maybe one-third of it,” but the other part of it is just slowing the f*ck down and breathing and relieving stress and getting out of your fight-flight-freeze state and just getting out of that sympathetic nervous state.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Sure. And like I want to add one more thing to that.
Dean Pohlman: Please do.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: The nervous system controls the tone of the blood vessels, how relaxed or how constricted they are. That’s its job basically. And the breath is the air that comes into the lungs. And then the heart’s job is to pump blood up so it like runs right through the lungs and sucks in all his oxygen, then shoot through the rest of the body. So, it’s all connected, right? This breath is giving us the oxygen. And when it’s calm, the heart is relaxed, shooting blood, oxygenated blood, beautifully through this system without the stress and strain that we get from constriction, sympathetic tone, higher blood pressures. And that’s going to keep you alive for a long ass time because the things that kill people are cancer and heart disease and other things, too. But primarily, these are the things that we’re seeing, heart disease being vastly the number one, cancer being largely because we do a lot of things to not take care of our immune system. And we also have a lot of chemicals and bullsh*t and other things that are triggering all sorts of different kinds of cancers because we progress as a society and there’s a lot of crazy stuff out there right now.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah.
Dean Pohlman: I’ve read a couple of interesting books on cancer, tying it into suppression of certain emotions and behaviors, like if you’re doing too much for other people and not listening to yourself, is there Western-backed data behind this? Probably not. But it’s interesting theories, and I’m kind of interested to see what the science will tell us when they start to do these actual studies, at least standards by our…
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: You’re there.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: I buy it.
Dean Pohlman: You’re there.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: 100%. I’m already there, but like…
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, it’s pretty cool. All right. Give me one more thing, and if it so happens to be identity change, fantastic. I’ll just ask you the next question after that, but what’s one more thing that goes into losing weight, living healthy lifestyle that guys wouldn’t expect?
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: All right. Well. I think that it’s really good in terms of exercise to get, and I want to talk about exercise for a second to round this out. I think it’s really good for guys to target to get two to three vigorous exercise sessions per week, kind of like that. That’s a really good target. You certainly can do more if you’re loving it and you are like in every day, and that’s kicking as*.
But if you’re not, I think a couple of pulses of vigorous, high-intensity exercise unlocks the fountain of youth in our genetic code, in our mitochondria. And you can also get a lot of strength in cardio work all in one. So, I think that’s something that’s really powerful about your kinds of workouts because your workouts hit on three things. This is how I’ll describe it, but they hit on strength in their poses. They hit on mobility and basically flexibility and a proper alignment and postural stuff, number two. And number three, I think, as it goes longer, they become more cardiovascular as you’re creating more contractions in the big thigh muscles, and heat is building in the body.
And combining those things into one workout, very efficient, I recommend it, which might be different than how I certainly trained when I was a bodybuilder, where you obviously do have discrete periods of strength training and discrete periods of cardio, and they’d be two separate things. And not to say that you can’t still do cardio days on your own because I would mention that I think that’s a very fantastic idea.
But we do with these Fit Father workouts as we combine, we do some kettlebells, you get a pair of kettlebells or dumbbells, you can use both. And we combine the foundational moves that people need to be strong in as they age, which is swinging and activating the hips, so swings for starters – kettlebell swings, dumbbell swings. Get those glutes firing, get the core engaged in and sync with the glutes as they fire, obviously important, also burns a lot of calories so super solid. Right up into rack squats, I mean, this is a front-loaded squat. It works in so many parts of your body, overhead pressing, rows, and push-ups.
And you do this, you’ve activated every plane of the body with load but lighter load because you’re just starting to train and you’re starting to lose weight. It’s important to use the right amount of loads to build up the connective tissue strength as you go. And also, maybe if you have all the injuries, it’s easier to lift lighter sometimes.
Anyways, you do these workouts a couple of times per week. Exercise does not have to take a lot of time. Like legit, you could do these workouts in 30 to 45 minutes, three times per week, and you’re telling me you’re busy and I understand you are, but I feel like everyone who sincerely wants to lose weight can probably find 30 or 45 minutes three times per week in their life to get this in, or something like this.
Dean Pohlman: Right. And when you find that you don’t have the mobility to do these exercises, you go do some Man Flow Yoga to help supplement.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Yes, 100%. What I would do on my off days between these two poles? Once, let’s say we did two of these types of workouts per week, maybe on Monday and maybe on Thursday or Friday, in between, I’d be doing Man Flow Yoga consistently. And if I’m feeling very sore, maybe more of one of the more restorative sessions, and I’d be doing cardio. I think as you age, low-intensity cardio has its place for overall health, longevity, well-being, not necessarily prolonged like marathon running triathlons. That actually can damage the heart. So much cardiovascular output and stress, the heart enlarges, not ideal, but low gentle cardiovascular activity will keep you healthy into old age.
So, what I recommend, fall in love with walking, and ideally, fall in love with walking outside because this would probably be my third thing I wanted to actually add where I think it’s a huge misconception or third or fourth, people need to get back to spending more time in nature. We need to breathe fresh air and we get it from the outside. We need to be near trees and grass and all these things. It’s like it’s where species came from, and we feel good.
And I also want to seriously urge everyone here who hasn’t, is look into the research on earthing and grounding. What they found is when you put your feet on the f*cking ground, and there is a great book by a guy named Clint Ober on this, the earth has a negative electronic charge. It has electrons floating through. It’s full of metals. It’s struck by lightning. There’s electromagnetic radiation and all outside. And when we connect our bodies to this, it reduces inflammation. The Tour de France, Team USA, back when Lance Armstrong was all doing that, they use earthing mats in between all of the times when they were doing it because it improves recovery and wound healing time and all the stuff, it reduces inflammation.
We talk so much about reducing inflammation from foods and from supplements. We’re taking curcumin. We’re doing our fish oils. We’re trying to avoid inflammatory foods. And I think that’s super important. You don’t want to put inflammatory stuff into the body, but also then we’re like, let’s take a bunch of antioxidants and stuff like this to neutralize free radicals. Or what I’m suggesting is, yes, have your fruits and vegetables, these colorful things that you’ve happened to tolerate. Well, good for your health.
But we can also get inflammatory benefits from just being with the earth. And even if you don’t even go there, even if you’re not the kind of person to take your shoes off or whatever, I’d urge you to, just breathe some fresh air, walk outside, feel the sun, and find your peace. There’s so much research, and you just want to take a walk. Your blood pressure goes down, your sympathetic nervous system tone goes down, your circulation improves for many hours after the fact. Who’s not happier by taking a beautiful nature walk?
Dean Pohlman: Right. Yeah. So, I want to add one quick point to that, and then I want to shift gears a little bit and ask questions about a– I want to push at your squishiness, so to speak. But I do want to say taking your shoes off just because I’m assuming we have a lot of people who do Man Flow Yoga listening to this podcast. So, I get a lot of questions about people who have feet pain when they’re doing certain exercises. Guys, if you’re wearing shoes all day, that’s your answer. The reason why your feet hurt is because you’re wearing shoes all day. So, get your shoes off, take them off at your desk if you have to be at a desk, move your feet, bring your toes toward your shins, point your toes, do some yoga poses that force you to actually move your feet. And that’s going to help out with foot pain. But you got to be comfortable barefoot. It’s just you got to work toward that somehow.
All right. So, I wanted to ask you. So, you were nine when your father passed. You grew up. Obviously, your mom did a fantastic job. And I just want to know what did you notice to be different in your experience growing up with just your mom? And how did that change who you are today?
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: I think it made me very self-directed. Even before my dad passed, I have early memories. I’ve always been someone who liked to improve. I just remember wanting to be faster when I was younger, and on recess, going and practicing my sprints. You know, I just think it has been a part of a drive that I had in me. And I think after my dad passed, it was like you lose a lot of guidance. There’s this void that’s almost created in terms of what a father figure oftentimes represents for young kids, which is supposed like maybe some guidance and some kind of protection. This is a direction, like I got you. If it’s good parenting, this is what I’m trying to describe.
And for me, I think in that, my mom stepped up tremendously to fill a lot of that. But she’s also got two kids recently widowed, like man, she was scraping it together. And she’s so much better for it. I think that getting confident at something by beginning passionate about something, which is at first, trying to get stronger. And the fact that I could take that energy that I was feeling and direct it into something specific, yeah, I’d say that’s the answer, paired with the fact that I believe I was a pretty self-directed being from an earlier age than that. And I really just kind of like went for it.
And I think there was a switch in high school. I remember when I was writing my college admissions essay, I wrote about how the passing of my dad was the best thing that ever happened to me, and that’s where I got my mentality to, in the course of those, maybe, let’s say like eight years because I started to change the way I was thinking about it because it was like I started to perceive it as possibilities, like power, like understanding, like new future, almost like his life in many ways was like a gift to me to bring me into this new life.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. I mean, you just had so many– you talk about the best thing that ever happened to you, but obviously, that was a tragedy that happened. And then your body was destroyed in a skiing accident. So, you’ve had multiple of these…
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Those are the two big ones.
Dean Pohlman: … extremely powerful incidents that happened.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Yes.
Dean Pohlman: And I’m thinking to myself, I’m asking this rhetorical question, did you think that you needed those experiences to be where you are today? Would you have gotten here? Maybe you would have gotten here a few years later. Or like, what do you think?
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Yeah, I mean, two of the most formative inflection points for that, for sure, like did I need that experience? I don’t think I had a choice. I think this was my life path. We all had our life paths that we were set on. I was born into a family that was kind of, in many ways, destined that his dad would get cancer and you die. And so, that’s almost like I’m the arrow. That sh*t’s loaded. Fire. I’m sailing. Did I need the leg thing? I created the leg thing for myself. And here’s what I mean by that. That day that I was skiing with my buddy Berrick earlier in the day…
Dean Pohlman: How old were you?
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: 20, I was at the tail end of medical school, sometime in my mid-late 20s. I am flying around this curve on this hill, and I kind of launch off the normal course of the ski run and kind of fall into a mogul field. And I hit hard and I kind of just catch myself. And I was like, oh sh*t, that could have been really bad.
So, I almost had a near-crash, and my hamstring was a little bit tweaked from that and I was like, I should probably slow it down. I truly feel in many ways that I was gifted, this warning sign in many ways. And I look back, I had a warning, I had a strong intuition. But this is where my ego and my idea of an invincible, hard-charging young man, nothing can go wrong, just f*cking get after it, created the situation that I had 100% warning for.
So, I don’t know. I mean, it kind of feels like in many ways, like I had an opportunity in that first moment to slow down. I definitely wouldn’t have gone through everything I did. I chose it. But I also feel like in many ways, although it’s been destructive physically, it’s been the most spiritually liberating experience in my life. And I wouldn’t trade it. Take my leg.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. By the way, I asked Dr. Anthony if he plans on going skiing again and he said absolutely. So, he’s still going to go skiing, in case you’re wondering. He is…
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: I have gone twice. And I didn’t ski as fast.
Dean Pohlman: And you did the bunny hill?
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Yeah, for sure.
Dean Pohlman: That’s it. So, you became a dad recently. Congratulations. I was able to see you five days after you had your daughter.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Yeah.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, that was awesome.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Was it?
Dean Pohlman: I think, yeah.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: I saw you before.
Dean Pohlman: I saw you before. I thought I saw you– I’m pretty sure I saw you after.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: You same me five days afterward in Arizona, yes. Totally correct. Yeah, you did.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. And you told me– sorry, I’m revealing that you’re, I was going to say a crybaby, and now I’m saying, no, Dean, that’s not what this is anymore.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: I cried, too.
Dean Pohlman: You had the emotional capability to experience the moment. I say my subconscious brain says crybaby because I’m just jealous that I’m not open enough to do that. I wasn’t open enough to feel that way, but…
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: It’s the beauty of every moment, brother. That’s what you’re referring to. That’s what I cried about. The moment my daughter was born, my wife, Paige, decided to do an unmedicated birth, run by midwives.
Dean Pohlman: Oh, wow.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: So, we’re in this room. My wife is in a runner’s lunge on the bed, screaming, like hulking down. And this baby’s about to shoot out of her, and it shoots out and there is blood everywhere. Like, I grabbed the baby kind of, and it was the most beautiful shellshock of my entire life. And I just burst out crying.
Dean Pohlman: Wow.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Just at the beauty of creation of new life, of how horribly gory it is, which makes it hilarious. It’s just like, life is messy. We’re shooting out this placenta. There’s blood everywhere. Baby’s covered in sh*t. There’s crying. He got his cord around the neck. It’s amazing. Well, if I don’t want it to be any different than it is, I see the beauty in it. And I want to say that, again, because I think that’s true. If I don’t want to be any different than it is, I see the beauty in it. And I think we walk around many times and create attachments to our perceptions that things should be different than they are.
And that creates the separation because now, there is a subject who judges an object and it’s made a normative judgment, but it’s not necessarily true. It’s just something that we have had this immediate response to, but like when that starts to soften through all these practices we talked about, then just things are beautiful. The expression of all of it, it’s f*cking amazing.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, that’s awesome. So, to see the beauty in things, see them for what they are.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Yeah. Yes, for sure. And not want them to be any different because it is a part of you that wants it to be different. That’s the problem, not the thing.
Dean Pohlman: That’s okay, yeah.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: And it does. It’s a habit of the mind. It’s all it is because it can go away. And when it does, you also lose a lot of that mental chatter because that mental chatter is constantly going around, like evaluating whether or not things are liked or not, and like– you know what I’m trying to say.
Dean Pohlman: The mental chatter is a friend of mine. I know him very well or her. I don’t know if it has a gender. I don’t. I haven’t asked it what its pronouns are, so I don’t know.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: I don’t recommend continuing to talk to it.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I don’t want to get to know it better. All right. I have one more question, then I want to go on to my Part 2 of this. So, beyond your goals of Fit Father Project with obviously helping dads and men become healthier, what is the grander vision? Obviously, health is the reason why I started The Better Man Podcast because mental yoga is a great vehicle for helping people with their physical health by starting to have the awareness to look into their mental health as well. But beyond improving physical well-being, what’s the vision? What do you want to see adopted by more men, by more dads?
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Well, the vision that I have, the level of clarity I have around it right now is that we have the Fit Father Project and we have the Fit Mother Project. And what we have is, is a vehicle for helping transform people and then bring them into community. And I think the community thing is what’s so exciting about, for me, a favorite part about our business. Like, our programs are great, and it’s so cool to see someone make a transformation, but what’s really meaningful is when they are kind of now a part of like, we call it the Fit Father Brotherhood or the Fit Mother Sisterhood.
And I think the community is going to be continuing to be so, so important into the future when we’re basically around people with shared values who are positive and we’re all like working on doing something, which in our case is very pure, helping each other live healthier and be encouraged throughout the journey of it. And what I see as amazing is starting to empower those communities much more to go do good. Because when we’re healthy and we’re full of energy, naturally what flows out of us is energy is that of service.
Like you can only consume so much, like, at a certain point, you get indigestion. And I mean, like literally, mentally, spiritually, digestively, whatever, consume, consume, consume enough. There’s a certain point where it becomes pathological in it just to realize. We have energy we serve, so our thought is this, like let’s start financially backing our community members to go do good out in the world and actually set up percentages of our revenues to basically fund this whole thing.
And we’ll see what happens. We grow this, and I think it’d be really amazing. I have a vision of many fit fathers and fit mothers all around the world, creating change in their communities and being a part of something broader. I’d like to bring more health to households. I mean, generally, that is, I believe it’s through the parents at this point. I mean, kids don’t have the ability to make real food decisions or even the cognitive capacity. In most cases, there are some people in high school that take charge of it, but in most cases under 18, people have no idea how to eat, what to eat.
So, helping healthier families and parents is going to make sure that we’re also doing some preventative medicine, not just triage. And I’ll stop there, but I think it’s centered around these companies right now. I’m grateful to be at the helm of them. Didn’t expect to be exactly anything like it really is. And we’ll see where it goes.
Dean Pohlman: That’s really cool. That’s awesome to hear. As a business owner, I commend you on creating that. That’s really cool.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Thanks. I kind of feel like it’s been created through me, which is interesting. It’s not something like I’d necessarily– and this is what I’ll say as I’ve gone through one of the biggest changes in my personality from my 20s to my 30s after this spiritual process with my leg and all that stuff, is that I run my life based off of intuition and feeling far more than logic and thinking. And I have the capacity to do both, I’ve done it a lot.
But a lot of things I just try to go off of like intuition, but only because I feel that at least with myself, with my stand in myself, I’ve purified my heart. I know that I’m working towards truth in greater good. And I know that the purity of my feeling is there. And so, by that case, I can fully trust my intention. And it came down to going through a process of learning to tell the truth and be honest all the time, to forgive past sh*t that I might be holding on to about myself. You do this stuff, I believe your intuition becomes powerful and you don’t have to spend as much time making life this complicated. There’s a flow that can happen. Personal philosophy, I’m speaking for my direct experience. It’s true to me, though.
Dean Pohlman: That resonates a lot with me. I’ll say this last part. But for a while, I think there was maybe like a two or three-year period where I just kind of grew really. I just didn’t believe in the self-development movement. I was like, I’ve read all these books. I read all these books. There’s no new ideas. People take the same ideas and put them into different context. There’s nothing there for sure.
And why do I still feel the way that I feel? Why am I angry? Why do I have shame? Why do I not feel the way that I want to feel? I’ve been doing all these things to be more successful, to be more fit, to try and be a better husband. And yet, I’m still like, why am I not where I want to be? And my answer to that was because all the logic in the world doesn’t matter if it doesn’t translate into your emotional brain. And so, what you said with moving away from logic and being able to…
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Into feeling.
Dean Pohlman: Into feeling.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: It’s logic, from thinking to feeling, two dimensions of our experience, and they’re both very much there and I think they both have their use cases, feeling kind of like has that bit of acceptance too. Thinking is either creation or it’s analyzing or cutting something into like understanding. Feeling in a way is just kind of like being with what is. That’s how there’s something perhaps that’s emerged like that feeling of shame or guilt or whatever that was, or just feeling like what exactly this pain is or what this direct experience right now is.
So, feeling, I think, is slightly closer to the experience of just straight being than thinking is. Thinking has more activity to it. You need the activity. We deploy it tactfully. But then there’s this other time where you can go into the peaceful experience of being, you don’t need to just only live one-dimensionally through faculty of thinking.
It was really cool, I think there was some kind of interview with Eckhart Tolle. He wrote this book, The Power of Now. And he was there on some kind of podcast or thing I saw with David Blaine or was somebody talking about how David Blaine could hold his breath underwater for 10 minutes. And Eckhart totally retorts, “That’s amazing. I definitely can’t do that, but I cannot think for 10 minutes.” And I was like, “Wow.” It was just a cool answer. It’s just a cool answer that how many people can say they’ve explored the dimensions of the mind or just the ability to have that kind of peace. And the answer is we’re very busy.
Things are constantly drawing us outside in terms of our do. We got to put food in our kids’ mouths, we got to grow our businesses, we got to pay the bills, like the motion of the doing, a big part of what we’re here to do, we got it. The cycle moves. But the dimension of, I feel like the deeper dimensions that you could experience along the way of the peace and the feeling can be there as well. And I think if you do both, then you have a long, happy, productive, and I would say, like blessed life that has that kind of energy behind it.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, well, that feels good to me. I was going to say that makes sense to me, but I thought I should say it feels good.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: It can make sense and feel good.
Dean Pohlman: It does. Yeah, it’s both. All right. Part 2, what do you think is one habit, a belief, or a mindset that has helped you the most in terms of your overall happiness?
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: The first thing was realizing that the belief is I am not a victim of anything. I went to this lecture in college when I was studying psychology, and it was about the number one trait that was correlated with happiness, it was some visiting professor from Harvard or some crap like that. And they said it was self-agency, how much you feel like you are the creator and not the effect of things that happen in your life. That’s what makes people happy.
And I was like, sh*t, okay, that seems like I’m a kind of simple guy in the sense that I want, like, what really moves the needle? And like let me focus on that one thing and get after it. So, I’m like start to build more self-agency about where do I feel like I’m a victim in my life or what’s not out of control? And listen, there are circumstances that happen. It could be broken leg, it could be brain cancer, it can be whatever. It could be like that Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, kind of he’s in the Auschwitz concentration camp. That’s outside of his circumstance. Well, he’s there. It’s not like he has that agency, but his relationship to– we always have agency.
So, I think that realization, and then the second realization of happiness was, I think, a deeper spiritual one, it’s just being with what is, like no rejection of what is, as you purified your heart, and quite frankly, the process of accepting what is purifies your heart too. And what I mean purifies your heart, I’m talking about anything that we feel like we’re holding on to that doesn’t feel like, I don’t know, any of that sh*t that like we feel like that we still need to work on.
Dean Pohlman: And if you could just clarify for me, what were the practices? Just really quickly, sum them up. I think we already talked about them, but some of the practices that helped you get to that.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Yeah, first off, I think, be honest with them. Like, maybe write them down, describe them as best you can. If they are discreet, they’re not always discreet. They could just be general sense of feeling. But oftentimes, they have triggering or precipitating events or something that makes them such a deep impression in the mind. So, getting clear on what they are.
And I think being with each of them without rejection, you must probably spend time, you can almost heal them each as friends. You could approach if they are discreet in situations like this, not just general feeling. This is my approach. I wouldn’t even say this initially like psychological advice, but I don’t see why someone wouldn’t try to do this in their own experience, right?
Dean Pohlman: Yeah.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: But I think sit with each of them, see them, feel what arises. There oftentimes is like an emotional release. I think I’ve had probably, since I’ve gone through a spiritual process, I don’t know, maybe five big cries, like huge emotional releases that have happened on many different times over the course of several years. But like when you have, and this is just maybe my own personal experience, they have been rare for me in the past, but you have a big cry or something that truly moves you to such a deep level or something that you feel like you finally released. Those are powerful things to go with.
I think the crying is the body’s way of releasing stored emotion and energy in that, and being able to feel deeply into whatever it is. It doesn’t always have to be a sad cry. I think of my five big cries, three of them were cries of absolute joy and ecstasy, like the beauty of existence. And maybe that sounds a little existential, but yeah, I think– is this not all kind of the practice of observing the mind and observing the activity of consciousness itself? I know we probably took this whole thing in a way more leftfield than just like weight loss. I do apologize if that is the case. And if someone’s listening is like this, dude, I like this guy, but now, this is going to be complete bullsh*t land. I’m just here to share the truth of my experience, and all of my health and fitness information stand is valid regardless if you’re into any of this.
Dean Pohlman: Thank you for the disclaimer. Totally unnecessary, but I think, anyways. What’s one thing you do for your health that you think is overlooked or undervalued by others?
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Hydration and easy to digest foods first thing in the morning. So, I think one thing is like…
Dean Pohlman: What do you eat for breakfast?
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Well, huge quality of like when I get up, you must rehydrate with the highest quality of water you can get your hold of, which means clean and pure water, maybe has some minerals as well added in there, but just some good water, get a lot of it. It should be refreshing and nourishing for your body. We need hydration first, and it actually starts to gently wake up the GI tract, especially if you drink the water as a bolus and you actually really kind of chug it. It stretches your stomach a little bit, would actually cause the colon with this something called the gastrocolic reflex to start moving poop through the tube. For good human health, you want stuff moving through the tube, so the water.
And then I think another– I’m a huge proponent. I know we don’t exactly always do this in our programs, but having something that’s easy to digest first meal in the day and I think this could be some kind of shaker smoothie which is blended so it’s easy to digest. It gives you a lot of rich in micronutrients. This is what you want that day, something that is rich in micronutrients, vitamins, minerals, something that’s going to keep your blood sugar levels stable. It has some healthy fats and some protein. And maybe it also has some other good things like fruits, berries, whatever you might want to put in there. But something like that or actual fresh fruit, a mono fruit meal, one type of fruit, eat it because ultimately, this stuff wakes up your GI tract so phenomenally. Is that a smoothie right there?
Dean Pohlman: Dude, smoothie is my superpower. I’m serious.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Okay, there you go. So, smoothies there. But also, I don’t want people to sleep on a mono fruit meal. One type of fruit, have it. Fruit wakes up the human digestive tract incredibly well. And I know there’s so much debate out right now about what humans should eat, like are we carnivores? Do we have the teeth or dentition of herbivores? From what I’ve read and where I fall in the camp is I think humans are primarily frugivores. I think we eat a lot of fruit, not fruit nuts. And I mean, that’s not to say that we can’t do meats as well, but I do think fruit should be a big part of a human diet.
And if you can do it by itself first thing in the morning, it’ll help you get a really good bowel movement. And I think getting a good poop in the morning and early throughout the day is a very overlooked part of human health. If you do not have a healthy digestive system, one that doesn’t feel gassed and bloated and one that regularly moves sh*t through you, then you do not have optimal health. And it’s challenging.
There are a lot of people that have immune disorders that inflame the GI tract. Many foods are inflammatory, but if you want to live as long as possible, you got to get your GI tract right. There are many ways to do that. There are lots of people who are talking about how to do that. Just want to maybe emphasize that as a point which also comes down to finding your regular go-to foods that work for you, the ones that you like, the ones that are delicious, the ones that you know your body feels good on, and then really just get consistent with those.
And for dinner, that’s what we like to have a little more play. Dude, you’re going to order takeout on an occasion, like, sure, Uber eats some food and like you’re on a weight loss plan, but once in a while, you have your ability and you can try to make it healthier. And we actually plan in, what we call them free meals, not cheat meals because cheat meals create a frame that you’re doing something bad. Free meal complies, the idea is like you have a pre-planned meal, and guess what happens? Guys, go have your free meal for dinner. They love it. They crush it.
Next day, they feel like sh*t. It’s like, dude, I can’t believe I feel this bad after eating three pieces of pizza and two beers. Like, do I really want to do this again? And then seven days later, they have the next free meal and maybe they make a different choice or maybe they don’t. But it’s so cool that it actually helps to train you. It’s like a carrot and a stick, what used to be what you wanted, ends up being the stick once you clean up your body, like the indigestion you feel after bad meals, but also sometimes just the fact that you enjoyed it.
It’s like, dude, I had a couple of burgers last night, definitely have a few extra pounds. I’m going to drink some more water, I’m going to go sweat, and I’m going to get back on it. And your weight will normalize. It’s not like you get 3 pounds of fat overnight for a free meal. You probably don’t even gain much of any fat, just one calorie spike like that.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, man, I want to respond to some of those things, but the only thing I’ll say is my wife definitely is not a fan of my morning poops because while we’re trying to take care of Declan, I’m like, all right, got to go. She’s like, ah.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Yeah, for sure.
Dean Pohlman: But I’ll just tell her.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: I’m glad you got a nice morning poop, though. That’s good. Honestly, like, I’m really happy for you. Congratulations.
Dean Pohlman: Thank you. Yeah, I’ll just have to tell her, like it’s really important. Dr. Anthony says so.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: 100%.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. Do you have a set time for a regular stress relief activity? And what do you do?
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Yeah, I would say yes. I’d say before I had put anything in my stomach for the day, I meditate. And that’s in the morning. And I think like it’s very helpful for me to meditate on empty stomach. When the body is digesting and you could feel the gurgling and the system is more active, your meditation is a lot less effective. And you’ve just had some water…
Dean Pohlman: What type of meditation do you do?
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Well, this is my office right here and this room behind me is like the TRX Band stuff. It’s a small room that has a meditation chair, a bookshelf, and a little massage table. I go to that chair and I sit on that chair. It’s like a straight back chair. You want to sit with a straight back spine.
I’ve done a lot of meditating, like thousands and thousands and thousands of hours. So, I would say that one thing that is really true is if you want to get deeper into meditation, you sit with a straight spine. That could be in a chair, but it also could be in a more traditional meditation posture with legs crossed, whatever. The spine is straight. In alignment, everything’s kind of stacked. And then you just start to observe your breath. Like, the coolest thing about the breath is that it’s just there. No matter of like without conscious control, it’s going to go, and if you can just be with the breath that starts to get the mind into a meditative state.
And then there are some other things that you begin to explore about using different, maybe a sound or some kind of mantra or something to focus on as you meditate to, to concentrate the mind. Those are also valuable. But I think the key really is just the second you’re sitting with that straight spine, you start to observe the breath and just feel that.
And then the mind is going to be active throughout there and just return to the breath. And you practice that, it sometimes can be hard for some people at first. Some people can slide right into a meditative state. It sets your entire mind, body, spirit up for a productive day. I’ll then go have a breakfast that I enjoy and get to work and get some sun in the morning to sometime around the time maybe you want to have in the breakfast. So, yeah, I’d say that. That’d probably be the answer. And I also think going outside a little bit, like in between workouts, I’ll go outside, put my feet on the grass, take my baby out there, put her in the sun for a second.
Dean Pohlman: And then take her out probably because you can’t keep a baby in the sun for that long. Yeah, I have photos of me holding up my five-and-a-half-pound child, like, here, have some sun. Okay, that’s enough.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Yeah, exactly. The skin is so sensitive.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. Do you regularly reflect or analyze yourself? Like, do you sit down once a quarter or once a week and think about what you could do better? What’s going on that’s good?
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: I used to. I did for maybe 10 years. And those are probably 10 of the most productive years of my life, I would say. I was really building the business, going through medical school. Now, I would say no, and it’s not to say it doesn’t reflect, but it’s a constant reflection of kind of like being itself. I don’t have as much of a quarterly regimentation anymore where I definitely used to have, like quarterly meetings.
Dean Pohlman: Oh, wow.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Life will reflect on actions, kind of these things. I just felt like the same thing that applies to nutrition, if you can just put some simple structure in your life like that, it gets the skeleton for you taking consistent right action. And that’s what gives results, consistent right actions in that direction.
Dean Pohlman: Well, it sounds like you’re doing that stuff on a daily basis anyways.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Yeah, exactly. It’s more flow. It’s like in the moment for that as well. And I’m really just in, and also trying to make those gaps between feedback of when I feel like things are out of alignment, make those very small, like try not to do, like no big drifts anymore into crazy town, just a crazy town.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, that’s a solid goal. What’s the most stressful part of your day-to-day life?
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: At present, still working on healing my knee. I don’t know, it’s just like I wouldn’t call it necessarily stressful. It’s kind of physically stressful, just like having an inflamed knee, I still have one more surgery to get rod and screws out of this leg. And also, it’s kind of unfortunate, but I have a piece of bone, like a jagged piece of bone. It’s about an inch long. It’s sticking out of the side of my femur, right into my quad and my hamstring. So, every time I stand, it stabs the leg. So, it’s an artifact from the last surgery, we’ll shave that sh*t down.
Dean Pohlman: Wow.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: I’d say that, right now, it’s been kind of crazy just going with the leg stuff and also having a newborn. My wife and I just laugh all the time. We just look at us, like we’re on the couch with the newborn. I got the brace on the leg and the crutch, just kind of loving it.
Dean Pohlman: That’s great. I mean, that’s great that you can laugh at it now. I think my wife and I will laugh at that later.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: And I trust that it’ll heal, yeah.
Dean Pohlman: But while you’re in it, you’re like, oh, god, we’re dying. All right. So, last big question here. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing men and their well-being right now?
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Man.
Dean Pohlman: Big one.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Yeah, no kidding, big question. Normally pretty quick to talk.
Dean Pohlman: Well, your answer is going to be super dramatic, if that helps.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: It’s got to be.
Dean Pohlman: If that helps any.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Yeah. I don’t know. I’ll say like it’s probably the same answer as what’s plagued men through all time, and it’s probably what I would call spiritual disconnection. And what I mean about that is disconnection from living in accordance to the natural laws that govern our bodies, disconnection with the interior of our being, these deep feelings, emotions, desires. It’s disconnection from our experience of higher power, God, source, whatever.
And I guess I don’t feel like I want to put this on people, like you have to believe or see things the way I do. But I would suppose that would always be the answer, that would be the answer today. It would be the answer many years ago. What drives either kind of greed, oppression, anger, shame, violence, other than these deep hurts that we’re continuing to play out in this constant human drama? It’s taken on new forms of the new regimes, rise and fall of countries, same human drama kind of unfolding.
And I think that’s because, imagine a world where we did have men that were strong, aligned, pure of heart, and that was what was guiding families and in communities, like the world would effectively be a very different place. It would have to be coming from a very different soil than what we have now, which is take scarcity maximized for self-gain. And these are natural impulses that obviously have settled in deep into culture in the minds of people. So, I think there’s a lot of work to be done, and I think that’s why we’re here individually, collectively.
Dean Pohlman: I mean, well, your answer didn’t disappoint.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Okay, cool.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. I mean, there were a lot of answers in one thing. It’s a great point. All right. What’s the best way for people to learn more about what you do, to check out the Fit Father Project, to learn more about everything there is about we just talked?
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Okay, well, I’ll share this. Like this conversation went really deep personally and maybe in my own philosophy. And I appreciate you who like having a space for us to have this. Didn’t expect to have this type of conversation. The conversations I mostly have, and pretty much all that’s on our YouTube channel, on our websites is health and fitness straight up, like mix of the research, how-tos, workouts, nutrition advice, the more granular stuff that’s like on the health side. Fit Father Project, you can Google that, you can type in FitFatherProject.com and the domain.
You can also check us out on YouTube. I would recommend the website. We have a cool free meal plan and free workout that’s like basically gives you our starting sauce and you can see what we’re all about. And we also have a cool podcast if you want to get inspired by guys who were losing a ton of weight and getting fired up, like we got a podcast there as well. So, just search Fit Father Project, wherever you like to check stuff out, and we’ll pop up.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. And depending on when this podcast has been released, we do have that– basically, Anthony came out to Austin, Dr. Ray came out to Austin and watched me record workouts for three days and sat on the couch in my office. So, we brought in…
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: All that’s true.
Dean Pohlman: We brought in some of his success stories from the Fit Father Project. We had a few guys from the Man Flow Yoga community come in and we created a yoga program specifically for Fit Father Project. So, that is something that I’m pretty proud of. It also has a bit of a different teaching style because I’m actually teaching somebody, it’s not me doing the workout and following along, but I’m actually guiding somebody through the workout. So, anyways, I’m really proud of that program that we created together, depending on which community you’re with. I hope you can check it out. And yeah, I want to thank you for going deep, answering my questions.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: You’re welcome.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, that was awesome. This is the whole reason why I started this podcast, obviously, passionate about health and wellness. I want you to be able to move well. I’m interested in you having the ankle mobility for a great squat, but there’s a deeper level to that stuff. So, I’m glad that you were able to go there with me. So, thanks a lot.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Nice. Thanks.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. All right, guys. I’m terrible at outros. Hope you have a great day and hope to hear you or check in with you on the next episode or wherever you see me next. Thanks again, Anthony.
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: Bye.[END]
- Fit Father Project
- Fit Mother Project
- Dr. Anthony Balduzzi on LinkedIn | Instagram | YouTube
- BMP 001 – Why Breath is the Most Critical Component to Your Health with Brian Mackenzie
- BMP 002 – Better Mobility, Better Life with Kelly Starrett
- Central Athlete
- Weight Watchers
- Wim Hof
- Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever! by Clinton Ober
- The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
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