It’s nearly impossible to be on social media without seeing someone upload a picture of their “perfect” life. Flashy cars, big houses, and always looking like you’re having a great time. But true happiness doesn’t come from doing things to satisfy external motivations.
For Jesse O’Brien, today’s guest on the show, so much of his happiness comes from being better than you were yesterday. He learned this throughout his life of growing as an entrepreneur, fitness coach, and husband and dad. Jesse found that relying on outside forces to improve your life is a recipe for disaster.
When he struggled with severe illness and injuries, not knowing what to do, he turned to the healthcare system. That led him to a decade mired in misery and pain. He decided to take matters into his hands. Jesse learned everything there is to know about health, fitness, and well-being and made himself healthier and stronger than ever.
Through his company, Central Athlete, Jesse educates, empowers, and inspires other people to not only survive but thrive in every way as they age.
In Jesse’s 2nd appearance on the show, we go over how beliefs shape your worldview and the results you get out of life, how discomfort leads to self-reflection, and why relationships are the greatest teacher in life.
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!
Use the RSS link to find the Better Man Podcast on other apps: http://feeds.libsyn.com/404744/rss
Watch a Clip From Episode 023
Key Takeaways with Jesse O’Brien
- How Jesse’s ten years of playing competitive tennis translated into his strength training journey.
- The amount of money you have doesn’t define you as a person. Seek happiness by being better in every role you play in life.
- Fulfillment and happiness often come not from getting things but from giving back to others.
- Putting yourself into uncomfortable and stressful situations is often the greatest therapy.
- Relationships are the mirror through which you see your flaws, strengths, and weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to look into it.
- Your beliefs shape the quality of your life. Learn how to adopt ones that empower you.
- Find out the 3 psychological traits that most often lead to a state of misery.
- Short fixes and instant gratification are making us mentally and physically weaker. Do this instead!
- Nature is our default setting. Go for a walk, and learn how to breathe correctly. You’ll be surprised what this will do for your well-being.
- You can get in some movement or exercise wherever you are. Don’t make excuses!
- Contrary to trendy beliefs, you don’t need to be an assh*le to be a masculine man.
Jesse O’Brien Notable Quotes
- “A fulfilling life is connected to two things. And one of those primary things is growth.” – Jesse O’Brien
- “Short fixes do not build health. It moves us farther away from health over time. And then you become a slave to that. You lose free will to a degree where you don’t have energy; your body doesn’t function the way it’s supposed to.” – Jesse O’Brien
- “Drinking the bottle of wine per night, never moving, never exercising, having social toxicity or no friends, these things degrade us.” – Jesse O’Brien
- “We need food, water, and shelter, but we also need good energy from that food. We need good restorative sleep. We need really empowering connections. We need fulfilling work. If we focus on those things first and foremost, then the rest of our lives become a lot easier.” – Jesse O’Brien
- “If I change what I’m thinking, that will change my behaviors. If I change my behaviors, that will change my outcomes. If I change my mindset or my beliefs or my values, it’ll change my life.” – Jesse O’Brien
- “Intentionally grooming the thoughts that we want to give power to versus the thoughts that we want to just surrender to, I think that’s a very, very important thing.” – Jesse O’Brien
Dean Pohlman: All right. Hey, what’s up? It’s Dean. Welcome to the Man Flow Yoga podcast. Today, I’m once again joined by Jesse O’Brien of Central Athlete. Thanks again for joining me, Jesse.
Jesse O’Brien: Happy to be here, Dean.
Dean Pohlman: Cool. So, last time we had you on the podcast, we talked a lot about my training with you as my coach. And so, this time, I kind of want to open it up and chat a little bit more about you. At the same time, I do want people to understand how good of a coach you are. So, I probably will touch on that somewhat.
But just for those of you who didn’t hear the first episode, Jesse and I met at a trade show health conference-type deal. And that was the time that I got my very low body fat percentage analyzed and I learned that I was somewhere around 4.5%. And I was like, wow, I’m so lean. And Jesse was like, yeah, but you probably got low testosterone, those sex drive, and it could lead to problems. I’m like, oh, thanks. Cool. So, that was kind of a health check for me, and I’ve just been on and off with Jesse for the last few years.
About a year ago, I started working with him directly as my coach. Those of you who have been following me on social media or watching my videos, you’ve probably noticed a significant change between– go back and look at videos from 2017, 2018. You look at kind of where I am now, and there’s about 25 more pounds there now, most of that in my hips and shoulders, I would think, a lot in my core. But yeah, that’s because I’ve been working with Jesse and following a program from him.
So, first off, I just wanted to ask, you have a very developed skill of knowing what specific exercises to give me. So, I can give you some feedback in my notes and say, hey, my shoulder’s bugging me here and you’ll give me an exercise, and then I’ll do that for a couple of weeks, and then my shoulder pain will go away. So, I’m just wondering about what is the training that goes into you being able to do that? How does one develop that skill?
Jesse O’Brien: Yeah, I actually put a post out about this recently about how I’ve kind of aggregated knowledge. And it’s my belief that theoretical knowledge is great, and then applicable knowledge is great, but nobody has a complete understanding of something. So, they have done both for long periods of time. You have to understand theory and literature and biomechanics and anatomy and physiology, but then you have to go out and apply those things because just because somebody wrote it in a textbook doesn’t mean it’s actually going to improve the case.
So, really, my most valuable lesson is just the amount of observations that I’ve had and I’ve just gained a ton of stuff in that. Like there are certain patterns you’re going to see. Like you’re going to see people going to get shoulder pain, knee pain, low back pain. And then you tinker with all these different things. You learn from Stuart McGill, who’s one of the leading experts on back pain, and how to prescribe certain exercises around that. You dabble in some of that and you start to learn about the effectiveness or lack thereof.
And so, I’ve been doing this professionally since 2009 so that gives me a good 13 years of just a lot of examples. I’m always going to be a practitioner. That’s a decision that I’ve made. I’m also an entrepreneur as well. However, one of the biggest things that I have in my repertoire right now is I have the opportunity to work with a lot of a client and I’ve done to the point of just having really great systems where I can catalog all these different statistics and things that are happening with people. I’ve got an excellent system for being able to help me develop insights around what I’m noticing with clients.
Dean Pohlman: Got it. Cool. So, you’ve been doing– and what got you started? And you used to be at tennis, I’m assuming you played collegiate tennis, which is I was thinking about that because you’re now doing, I don’t know if you were doing this before, but a lot of your videos show you doing really heavy strength training. And when you think about a tennis athlete, you think about some of the incredible endurance that you’ve seen.
If you’ve ever watched Wimbledon or you watch the Australian Open recently, you watch Nadal go through like a four-hour match and continue to play at that incredible intensity. And you don’t think of that in terms of like lifting 300, 400 pounds. So, how did you go from– or maybe that is part of it, but how did you go from tennis athlete to what you’re doing right now with strength training?
Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. So, I played competitive tennis growing up, and then I actually burnt out at 14 years old. So, after almost a decade of playing competitively, I kind of made the decision that I wanted to have more of a social life. So, it’s like Texas and California and Florida have ultra-competitive tennis communities. And so, the first competitive level in Texas is that. If you do really well with that, you level up the chance. If you do really well with chance, you level up the super chance. If you do well there, you keep kind of going up. And eventually, you get to the point where you’re not good relative to your peers, whatever level you kind of get to.
Now, the difference between tennis and a lot of other sports is that it’s an individual sport versus basketball team sport, lacrosse team sport, football team sport. So, really, what I notice is that when I lose, I am a failure. That’s the way that I kind of took things. So, that impacted me deeply.
Now, there are a lot of growth opportunities to that. But I just made the decision that like, I didn’t want to continue to pursue that. So, I moved into lacrosse team sport. So, if we lost, it’s like, oh, well, Jimmy sucks, or we lost as a team, you can scapegoat somebody else. But through that process, I wanted to get better. I had a very mechanical kind of engineering brain, almost, like if I have input A and input B, what will the outcome be? It’s very kind of like almost binary in a sense.
And so, I gravitated towards, hey, if I’m doing this specific thing outside of the lacrosse field, how is it going to impact my ability over here? The interesting thing is that I was one of the smaller people playing lacrosse, but because I had developed this rotational explosive pattern through tennis. I mean, I’ve had hundreds of thousands of shots like that. I came in with the fastest shot anybody has ever seen. It was kind of like people were allured with how quickly I could shoot the lacrosse ball. And I wanted to keep compounding that. I think it was one of the original fascinations so just started going to the country club weight room and just get on every single machine and do it as heavy as we could kind of do it and then walk out of there. That was my introduction, and I’ve just been fascinated with that.
Naturally, I’m a lot better at sprinting. Muscle endurance comes very natural to me. I am not a strong individual at all. So, I think that’s part of why I gravitated towards resistance. Training is just I’m trying to shore up something that I’m just weak at. For example, with you, you’ve crossed some of my, what I’ve developed personally in a matter of six, nine months, just your anthropometrics are different, your genetics are a little bit different. I’ve probably done 10 times the amount of work that you’ve done. You’ve exceeded me for just looking at the back squat, for example, not deadlift. I’ve got you on deadlift and strict press.
Dean Pohlman: My deadlift is set, and my shoulders hurt when I do strict press. So, yeah. Okay, cool. Got it. So, for you, it’s addressing something that didn’t come as easily to you. And you enjoyed the challenge in that.
Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. I mean, I feel like a fulfilling life is connected to two things. And one of those primary things is growth. And so, because I felt like I had somewhat of a deficit of strength, I gravitated towards trying to make that more one of my strengths. People who get fulfillment for how much is in their bank account, what type of cars in their driveway, the things that they get, those aren’t things that inherently make us have a fulfilling life. I believe that one of the true aspects of people having fulfilling life is growing in some way, shape, or form.
I’m learning more skills as an entrepreneur. I am getting more physical skills that I can do with my body. I’m developing my communication skills as a professional speaker and also as a husband. Like, inherently, these things are really kind of the inspiration for life. And I think the second bucket to that is not getting but giving, giving back to people. Those two things, growth and giving, are critical aspects of a fulfilling life.
Dean Pohlman: Okay. So, I’m going to ask you a question that’s going to lead to another question, and it’s related to what we’re talking about right now. Do you consider yourself extroverted or introverted?
Jesse O’Brien: Yeah, that’s actually shifted over the years. So, I very much was an extrovert. I was kind of known as the glue that held my friend group together, someone who would call this buddy over here and this buddy over here and help pull everybody together. And I got energized by really getting people together.
Now, I think it’s a byproduct of what I do because you have a certain amount of clients. I talk with them on a monthly basis. And I have to be very cognitively aware and mentally acute in the situations. And I’m really doing a ton of critical thought. I actually notice like my metabolism just goes through the roof, just like the amount of energy that my brain is requiring to do all that.
So, I think, a byproduct that’s kind of just naturally shifted me to feel more introverted is that I come home and I have a hard time maybe speaking with my wife. She’s like, how was your day? Good. What did you do? Good. She’s like, I think you really need to be by yourself for 30 minutes. And so, I kind of like go, just going to stare at the wall.
Dean Pohlman: Go sit in your chair.
Jesse O’Brien: Sit in my chair and get my brain to come back online, but I tend to prefer honestly, now to be kind of alone as much as possible because I feel like I’m just bombarded with a lot of stimuli, people, events, and I don’t need to seek anything out. So, I don’t know if that’s a part of me maturing, if it’s a part of just my lifestyle, my career right now, but I feel like I’ve moved from extroverted to more introverted in the last five, ten years.
Dean Pohlman: Got it. You’re on a lot of calls a day. I mean, generally, how many hours are you spending on the phone or in conversation?
Jesse O’Brien: I mean, I do 80, 30-minute consults on a monthly basis. So, if you divide that by on a weekly total, that was at 20, so 24-week. So, average it out, you got like four hours per day that I’m talking to people. It’s a lot.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I have two calls, and I’m like, I had a very social day today, so I’m going to need some time to myself. The reason why I was asking about that is because this kind of team that I’m noticing is people who have time to think or who might be more introverted, not necessarily a prerequisite, but it seems to be part of it. But people who have the time to think about these things, like you mentioned, the importance of you realize the importance of giving and the importance of growth and your overall fulfillment, which is a huge part of what this podcast is about.
But last week, I had on an author, Austin Current, who wrote The Strength of Resistance Training. I think, or something along those lines, a fellow DK author. I asked him, he’s like, yeah, I’m introverted, but when we’re going one on one of these calls on this podcast, he’s able to speak at length to all of these different thoughts and all of these different processes and beliefs that he’s clearly developed through a lot of introspection. And you talked about this crazy canoe endurance event that you did. I think you said 112 miles, or what was it?
Jesse O’Brien: 262 miles from the headwaters of the San Marcos River all the way to Seadrift, Texas.
Dean Pohlman: So, I was only 150 miles off, but you did this crazy endurance event. And during that, you started to think about life a lot. So, my question for you is like, has it been events like these or instances like these in which you’ve been able to get into the mental space to really think hard about these things? Or have there been other avenues or other activities that have done well for helping you to create clarity in your thoughts, in your goals, in your overall life mission?
Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. I have a lot of thoughts there. I mean, it’s definitely a lot of different things. So, I kind of compare the Texas waters so far that can you race as I did. I mean, that’s just a very intensive form of therapy on yourself. It’s just you, there with your thoughts in the woods, with a small amount of physical duress. It’s like uncomfortable the entire time.
Imagine sitting up in an uncomfortable seat for 100 hours, essentially what you’re doing while paddling a canoe. So, you just get to know yourself and you think about all these things and you’ll just spin them in these loops to eventually kind of like figure it out, to jump out of that loop, and you kind of settle a lot of business in your head or go run a marathon or an ultramarathon through the desert. You really get to know yourself as you’re uncomfortable and you’re starting to kind of start with these things.
You get limiting thoughts, it starts to bubble up and you start to kind of address these things and knock them out, but the pain gets so bad eventually, you come to these things and you learn about who you are as you start to express yourself. It becomes a very spiritual experience. But I’m a big believer in walking, being outside in nature. Ideally, I say unloaded and unplugs and I’ll put on like a big heavy backpack or anything like that. Get rid of your cell phones, just you and sun, nature. You’re just walking. And those are my most insightful moments, not where I’m sitting down, trying to brainstorm, or having kind of like a group powwow, trying to think about some creative ideas.
These things naturally just kind of bubble up. This is our brain’s default mode, is to let our mind wander, to daydream. And I’ll come home and I’ll journal some of those thoughts. Sometimes, I’ll have some very just interesting insights, everything from things about my relationship with my mother to how I treated a coworker two weeks ago to this new business service I want to create. And a lot of times, I’ll just dump those ideas and I’ll come back to them when I feel like I can actually get that more focus in on those things, but I get a lot of work done, like driving the car, walking the dog. Those are all really good places. They kind of give you that mental space.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. And I’m thinking, you have two kids now. Gosh, it’s been a while since I’ve spoken about your kids and our failed playdate, but what are their names?
Jesse O’Brien: We’ve got River who is a little bit over two years, and we’ve got Finn who just turned eight months a couple of days ago.
Dean Pohlman: Okay. Got it. So, you’ve been a dad for two years, give or take. And what are some of the biggest changes that you’ve gone through or that you’ve noticed? And how have you worked through those, more importantly?
Jesse O’Brien: My relationship with my wife has changed the most as two little creatures…
Dean Pohlman: I feel that hard.
Jesse O’Brien: Yeah, I feel like you almost have to– You’re not building from square one, but it’s almost like a different relationship in a lot of respects. I mean, you have these two little creatures, arguably, that she loves more than she loves me, and you have to learn how to navigate that. Plus, she’s sleep deprived. Her hormones are all over the place. So, volatility in mood, emotional regulation, those things are just completely out the window.
And so, I have to learn to be a compassionate partner and to see and understand what she’s going through without letting it trigger me. And so, that has, in case, things have triggered me and I haven’t been as compassionate. So, our relationship has been one of the biggest teachers for me in terms of just being a better person. Again, moving back into the progress or growth piece, it has helped me become a better communicator. It’s helped me understand my own flaws and my experiences that happened when I was in childhood that I’m bringing into the relationship.
That’s been the most difficult thing. I mean, really, all the stereotypes and the clichés are right about being a father. I mean, it gives your life so much meaning. It’s almost like your life begins when you have kids. I look forward to just the small things, just watching River at soccer practice, watching Fynn get his two bottom teeth, and eat solid foods. These tiny little developmental milestones are awesome. But the relationship, it’s been a stress, and either the relationship breaks and two people move away or it gets proverbially stronger and you kind of like what we do with your voluptuous body with weight training, it gets stronger, and hopefully, this will break down.
Dean Pohlman: Thank you. Yeah, I hear that a lot. I mean, two months into fatherhood, I wrote a blog. And I think a big part of that was like, yes, just sleep deprivation. But surprisingly, it’s not a thing that I think is talked about a lot. It’s like this completely changed relationship that you have with your wife. I’m finding the words difficult right now how to describe it, talking with you. I mean, you have someone who– it’s like you get them back, but you never get them fully back, and they’re only back when they’re not with the kids. It’s like, hey, wifey.
The best analogy I can give is, like, this is probably– I don’t know how, hopefully, Marisa just doesn’t hear this part. It’s like we’re about to have sex, but she’s looking at the baby monitor. I’m like, no, me time. Look at me. And that’s like a perfect metaphor for the relationship. It’s like, yeah, you’re important, but also, there’s this other thing that I have to constantly think about. So, yeah, it’s tough.
Jesse O’Brien: As soon as the kids are born, I think the feminine kicks in and their brain just has now attached to this new human being. They can never fully relax anymore. I used to look at parents, a lot of times, mothers in their 40s and 50s, and I’d be younger and I hadn’t gone through this part of my life, and I would look at them with judgment and be like, man, I never want to be like that. They’re anxious and they’re like, I can’t relax.
Now, I see how they got to that point. I can at least understand, like being a mother and all those experiences and how they end up in this kind of like agitated, anxious state, I mean, I’m kind of generalizing here, of course, but I think a lot of that is due to the attachment that they carry emotionally to care for the kiddo that never turns off right. So, what you’re noticing about you and Marisa, that never shuts down. It’s always somewhere in your head. I think that’s probably what we’re feeling.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. And that’s another big thing is like the differences between the father and the mother, like I care about my son. I love my son. I love hanging out with my son. I want to be with him. I want to watch him grow, all of those things. But Marisa cares about him in a different way. So, we’ve had to have conversations where was like, you don’t care about him because you’re doing this. I’m like, no, it’s not that I don’t care about him, I care about him differently than you do. Like I have different ways of caring about him, whereas she might be totally not happy but totally willing to– I’ll skip two meals for you. It’ll be breakfast, and I’m like, Declan, just hang out on the ground, like he could be six months, and I would just pop him on the ground. I have to make eggs. I’m very hungry, Declan, I won’t be able to take care of you unless I make food for myself.
And so, it’s just like a different– to what extent is our assumption about male versus female true? I think that entirely depends on the individual, but there are definitely differences. And you’re not going to be able to have a conversation to arrive at the same conclusion, but hopefully, you can have a conversation and respectfully say, okay, well, this is how I care and this is what I’m thinking. And then the partners can say, well, this is how I care and this is the extent to which I go. And being able to respect those differences and say, okay, we’re both caring for our child as much as we can or as much as we know how. So, I don’t know if you have that experience.
Jesse O’Brien: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I can relate to the food thing. Amanda will just like, I haven’t eaten in eight hours and I just never get time alone. And I’m like, well, I don’t know what to tell you. I mean, I would have just made food and let the kid deal with it. But I think there are traditional roles in the family that lead to this.
So, typically the male is the one who is the breadwinner, gets money. Typically, the female is more of a caretaker. And obviously, that’s definitely changing these days. But I think there is kind of some root in just human biology, like we’re more providers, they’re more caretakers. We provide financial things, but before that, we provided safety because– I hope I don’t get cancelled with this comment, but we are stronger than females. Females have about 70% of the contractile potential of male. So, each of an average female and each of an average male of average height and average weight, the female has about 70% of the contractile potential.
So, from a biological perspective, I think it’s very natural that we’ve kind of like moved into this model where you’re there for safety, you’re there to provide financial means. You don’t have to bear the kids so you wouldn’t have the opportunity cost of leaving work for one to two years or something like that, which would disrupt your career. Females take care of their safety in a different respect in terms of constant caretaking. They take care of their emotional well-being. They attach, they’re the first thing to attach to the baby that dives into attachment theory. And mom coos, baby coos back. Baby giggles, mom giggles back. And they form this kind of connection through mirroring and that grows over time. So, typically, females are more bonded to their kids than males, generally speaking.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I don’t want to make this entire conversation about men versus women as parents. But I grew up in a household where my mom was very focused on her professional career. I’m trying to remember, I think she still made dinner most of the time, but we were in daycare. We were in daycare both before school, and I think after school as well. So, both mom and dad were at work early. Mom wasn’t staying home until nine o’clock and then going into work.
So, my understanding of traditional gender roles is coming from this background where they’re very much in post. So, now, I’m kind of in this position where I’m reconciling the reality of biology’s influence on gender roles versus the individuals. Like how does each individual apply? Or how does each individual fit into their own role? And it’s kind of like this constantly developing consideration. So, yeah, that’s something that I think about and I don’t have a clear answer, but it’s definitely something that I’ve thought a lot about, so.
Jesse O’Brien: Yeah, I mean, people have the right to choose exactly the way they want to have families in this day and age. I think if we did this 10,000 years ago, there would be less optionality. Males needed to go get and procure energy in the form of food. Females were there to provide safety while the males were away to the more vulnerable threat. I think there’s a huge biological aspect.
Now, we have to recognize just what like diets or this kind of a similar juxtaposition with diets, like eat meat. No, don’t eat meat, you’re burning down the world. I think there’s a similar thing kind of going on with gender roles. It’s like, no, the reality is that we couldn’t choose 10,000 years ago, but we can choose today. We can choose like if you want to stay at home and you want Marisa to be the breadwinner, like you guys can do that. But I think that would have been a lot more difficult to do in a more indigenous or ancestral community back 10,000 years ago.
But people will try to completely divorce biology out of it and not recognize how biology has impacted things. You have to say it, like what happens when a mom bears a kid and she takes time off from work? That does lead towards different sorts of opportunity costs and it does feed into gender pay gaps, that very thing right there. It’s not the only thing that feeds into it. So, I think there’s just interesting things, but if people want to do it in a different way, they completely can. There’s nothing at all wrong with that.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. I think those are all good points. So, I change topics a little bit. What led to your general lack of confidence in Western medicine? So, give us some context here. I don’t really know what context to give here, honestly. And I’m not bringing this up to say, like Jesse hates vaccines. Like that’s not at all why I’m bringing this up. I’m bringing this up because there is, I think you and I think a lot of us understand that there are better ways to treating ourselves than going to a doctor and saying, give me the pill.
So, I’m just curious, and my position is kind of more of both, like, hey, I’m going to try and do this but also try and do this. And I’ll try to combine the best aspects of both. And if I get into emergency, it’s like, yeah, we’re going to a hospital, screw the essentialist, we’re going to the hospital. But I’m just curious, what led you to, and I think you had a post on this topic. There was an email that you sent out on this topic.
Jesse O’Brien: I think so.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah.
Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. So, I mean, to provide some context, I think it was a set of different circumstances. So, I came into a household that was very, very Western medicine based. And I had a pretty healthy childhood, I would say. I think the only thing that I really had was, I struggle with strep throat. I got some really high fevers. I actually hallucinated so bad from 106-degree temperature that I remember the dream that the sun was chasing and I was running away from the sun.
What was really happening is my dad was chasing me around the house trying to catch me. I tried to open up the window to get out and run away from the sun, hence, jumping out the window, and he caught me before I did it. I had a really bad strep throat, but other than that, it was pretty good. First thing that happened, I was maybe 17, and I had some pimples at the time. So, what do you do? You go to the skin doctor. So, I go to the dermatologist and I’m like, hey, I’ve got a couple of pimples. So, she prescribes me minocycline, which is an antibiotic.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I was on that.
Jesse O’Brien: So, I take that. And I keep taking that. So, 17, 18, all the way until, I think, I’m maybe well through college. So, I’m probably like 21, 22, I take it for good five years. That’s the first thing that happens. Second thing is I have some heartburn. I go to the gastroenterologist, and he’s like, this was multiple times going. I got endoscopies, I got colonoscopies. They put the camera up your butt.
So, I guess, a lot of those, and then eventually, they’re like, you just need to be on Prilosec, which is a PPI, proton pump inhibitor, and essentially decreases stomach acid. So, I was like, cool. So, now, I’m on minocycline and I’m on Nexium for the rest of my life. Then I notice that my toes have caught over and I start walking on my toenails. So, I’m doing a lot of running at the time. And so, I go to an orthopedic surgeon. I was like, hey, what do we do here?
And before I kind of go down that road, I was born to this real world where that’s what you do. You go to the doctor, we simply have something going wrong. And there’s the highest level of trust. So much trust, there’s not even a question. You don’t get second opinions. That’s the world that I came into.
And so, I get a surgery. So, they cut the tendons of toes 2, 3, and 4 bilaterally, so both feet, and then they reattached them to the top. As they’re doing that, one of the tendons pulls off the traction device. They can’t reattach it. So, now, it just totally doesn’t work. And then they drill pins all the way through the metatarsals to where it meets the foot. And I do that on both feet. I’ve got the pins in my toes for five weeks, and they pull them out. And then over the course of the next five days, my toes go right back to where they were. It was by far the most painful thing I had ever done. I’m a side sleeper, well, you can’t sleep on your side when you have like Wolverine talons underneath the covers because they get caught. I sleep on my back with my little Wolverine feet outside of the covers.
So, after that, I was really getting into health and fitness and nutrition. And I started to understand that with nutrition, like the things into your body influence your health. I started to think about things and I’m on a proton pump inhibitor for the rest of my life and a minocycline. And I get sunburn every time I go outside. I don’t have a solid poo anymore. And I have a botched surgery on my feet.
So, based upon my experience, over the course of time, I got very disillusioned with Western medicine. And through those experiences, I came to the belief for myself that this– essentially, with like GI issues and acne and stuff like that, they’re treating these kind of like somewhat chronic issues with this– essentially, they’re just kind of trying to get rid of the symptoms, but they’re not addressing why this is happening. It’s talked about a lot.
And so, we have to recognize where Western medicine just crushes it. They have the best acute care model in the world. If you get into a car accident, you want to be in the United States. You will have the best trauma care that is out there. If you cut off an appendage, if you get some sort of chronic infection or acute infection, like you want to be in the United States.
Now, this acute care model, when it’s applied to chronic disease, does not work at all. And I think we can see that from what’s happened with COVID. If you look at just the statistics with how we’re doing, Israel and the United States are doing horrible. And you compare us to kind of a, not a Third world, it’s like a developing country, India is doing far better than we are in terms of deaths and whatnot. And so, we’re treating a lot of these things, I think, in the wrong way.
And so, my belief is that a better way to look at this is what’s described as biological medicine, which includes Western medicine is one of the tenets of biological medicine, but it also brings in aspects of naturopathy and homeopathy and Ayurvedic medicine and herbalism. And it’s essentially taking all these different aspects and it’s trying to say, okay, how can we improve the body’s physiological state as best as possible? Biological medicine doesn’t treat disease. Really, what it’s trying to do is it’s trying to improve some of its physiology as much as possible.
I mean, we can even knock on naturopaths to a degree, like naturopaths now are essentially like green allopaths. Allopath is essentially what Western medicine is, where allopathy means the opposite of. So, you have an infection, we’ll give you an antibiotic. You have a virus, we’ll give you an antiviral, it’s the opposite of.
So, naturopath has just been kind of the same thing. They’re just kind of giving like more botanicals that has an opposite effect of that in the body, but it’s kind of just like a very similar thing. Who’s to say that a pharmaceutical is worse than some sort of botanical or whatnot? Like, who knows? So, I think we need to evolve our model of care. The problem is it’s so deeply entrenched in our society. Now, it’s locked in with systems and money.
There’s something called the Flexner Report, which talks about essentially like why we have the medical model that we do today. And before, there were thousands of homeopathy clinics, thousands of naturopathy clinics. After the Flexner report, in about two years, those numbers had dropped down to like below 30 homeopathies. So, there are a lot of interesting things when you start to learn about these things.
And so, the more that I was like, hey, this isn’t natural for a 22-year-old to have the surgery and have horrible foot issues and to be never poo solid, to be on Nexium, to be on minocycline for so long. Like, I just don’t subscribe that we need to be on medications for the rest of our life, for the majority of people. And here I am, a fit 22-year-old healthy body fat percentage, I take my health seriously and I’m already on this road to being on 10 pharmaceuticals, like the average American is over 65. I mean, that’s just not right.
And so, what are the things that start to move me back towards health as opposed to away from health? And I would say the number of pharmaceuticals that you work on would indicate that you’re moving farther away from health. We come out of the womb. How many pharmaceuticals we’re on? None. I mean, we come out in somewhat of a pristine state, 99.99% of the time.
So, that explains my disillusionment with our current model of care. I mean, by 2030, 50% of us will not just be overweight but obese. Almost 17.9% of our GDP is spent on health care alone. We don’t have health care statistics that are better than Cuba. Our infant mortality is on par with Uzbekistan and Ukraine. We’re not doing a great job.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I think that’s a great description. There’s a lot that I want to speak to. But first off, I just want to say I can sympathize a lot with this. I don’t think I’ve spoken about this before, and my disillusionment comes from a knee surgery that I had. So, when I was 16, I had knee surgery because I thought, okay, the problem is the knee, the knee is the problem, fix the knee, won’t be a problem, yes, surgery. And it was never something, and kind of like you, you don’t question it. You don’t get a second opinion. It was just my dad is an oncologist, so hospitals were just, yeah, we did hospitals. And we trusted doctors, and not that I’ve been steered wrong that often.
I don’t think that doctors have like this. A lot of people, especially in the health and wellness industry, I think they look at doctors, like doctors are just trying to make money, which is crazy. If you ever actually have a conversation with a doctor, they’re just focused on, okay, I’m going to treat you and I’m going to treat you the best way that I know how, and then I’m going to move on because I got this other person to treat and I have 85 different people that I have to treat today, and I’m trying to save everybody’s life and do the best that I can.
So, this idea that doctors are just out trying to make money is just– I mean, you can argue your point without doing that. So, first off, that, but when I was 16, anyways, I had knee surgery because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. And even after the knee surgery, I had what’s called recurring patellar subluxation, which means that my kneecap would come in and out, and it would partially, but sometimes, it would take a little bit of bone with it, but mainly what usually would happen, the tendon was strained. So, I would have second-degree tendon strains. So, the tendons would pull out, they would loosen, and then I’d have to wait for them to tighten back up, do the PT, which I had no idea what the PT was doing because I was like, why are these exercises so easy? Can’t you give me something harder? And the attempt was to strengthen and increase the mobility of my hips and ankles. I didn’t know that at the time. I probably just wasn’t listening.
And then when I started learning more about my body and I started really getting into yoga and that kind of as a modality for learning more about my body outside of the traditional strength training and conditioning avenues that I had grown up with as an athlete, then I started to learn more about the importance of your hips and the importance of your ankles and the importance of your core as it functions with your knee. And then I actually went back to my doctor, my surgeon, and I wasn’t quite at the point where I was like, you shouldn’t have operated on me. But I did say, you know what? I think that a lot of this has to do with just believing in your health or like believing. And he’s like, oh, I don’t know about that, but sure.
Jesse O’Brien: Yeah, and to that point, I mean, whether it’s like the belief actually makes you better or it creates a placebo effect, I don’t think it actually matters. I mean, placebo effect is as strong as hell and it’s just the power. I mean, I think to some degree, we’re talking about belief here. And you can believe that we’re inherently flawed and we need pharmaceuticals in order to thrive. Or you can believe that most of the time the answers are within us. It’s destructive habits, drinking the bottle of wine per night, never moving, never exercising, having social toxicity or no friends, like these things degrade us. Over time, our body, our minds, our spirits break down.
And if I can choose one of these, I’m going to choose this one because it promotes self-efficacy. This one flattens my self-efficacy that only a doctor has the answer. I don’t have any answers. I think that’s very disempowering. And I completely agree with what you’re saying about the doctors. This isn’t the doctor’s fault. This is the system that the system was built in a certain way because it solved the problem.
And now, this system that’s in place doesn’t want to change. It’s no longer providing the same solution that we need. And so, it needs to change, but it’s not going to change unless you really have a lot of people speaking out because it’s so entrenched with money and systems and the current educational system, and everything else is a conspiracy theory and a pseudoscience.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, well, I still think that also, the reason why it keeps working is because people keep going to it and believing that, hey, I’m here because I have this. Oh, okay, I just need to take this pill and I’ll get better. I need to take this medication and I’ll get better. And so, until everybody says, I want to live a healthy lifestyle and I want to do all these things, there’s still going to be a ton of people going to doctors with the expectation that they will get a treatment plan and that they won’t have to make any changes themselves. Or maybe they have the intention to do changes, but they don’t understand the systems or they don’t understand the processes effectively implementing those lifestyle changes themselves. And so, they fall back on, okay, well, I can take this pill twice a day or whatever it is.
Jesse O’Brien: And I think to that point, we’re inherently wired that way. It’s like we want…
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, it’s human nature.
Jesse O’Brien: Yeah, it’s human nature. We want to do as little as possible. I mean, do you really want to spend all that time rehabilitating your knee? If you can just get a surgery and it’s like more of a passive input, you don’t have to do a lot of it. Or if I could just take a pill, Nexium was the most effective thing I’ve ever done. Literally, I had heartburn that I struggle with every day. I take the pill, never have heartburn again. I didn’t realize that I was going to have deficiency in B12 and B6 and magnesium and vitamin D as a result of that, I didn’t realize I was going to have diarrhea for the next 10 years because I took all that. I didn’t know any of that.
And so, this is why I feel like the role of a coach is one of the most important roles in our societies right now because it’s our job to educate, empower, and inspire our clients to keep doing the things that they need to be doing, to say, hey, I know that that rehabilitation technique didn’t work, but I promise you, if you try a different one and you keep opening your minds, like your knee is going to get better, and nine times out of ten, you’re probably not going to need that surgery. We need to continue to do that because the more we educate people that, if we keep boosting people’s physiology and their physiological expression, they’re going to get better nine times out of ten. And most of the time, people jump out of it before they actually make the change and they just go back into big pharma to get that easy, quick fix.
But you get on a lot of those short fixes, it does not build health. It moves us farther away from health over time. And then you become a slave to that. You lose free will to a degree where you don’t have energy, your body doesn’t function the way it’s supposed to. And I work with some very, very sad cases where they’re completely disempowered and they don’t know a way out.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. I mean, that also brings up the thought of the people embracing the victim mindset without even realizing it. They’re like, oh, that might work for other people, but it doesn’t work for me. Like, oh, I tried that, it didn’t work for me. People latch on to this, oh, I’m special. They don’t look at it as I’m special first. First, they look at it as, oh, it’s not going to work for me. Oh, that doesn’t work for me. Oh, I tried that once, it didn’t work for me.
And they just kind of get used to this idea that, oh, that works for other people, but it doesn’t work for me. But yeah, maybe they’re just not in the right environment or they’re in dirty environments where people just reinforce that and they say, oh yeah, that sucks. I guess it isn’t for you.
Jesse O’Brien: I think this environment is important. Again, going back to the power of belief, you can train yourself to believe that things that you’re doing are building you up as opposed to pulling you down or just the habits that you’re doing aren’t just like keeping you where you are. If you truly believe that, like every single time I do a bicep curl, every single time I eat a nourishing meal, I believe that I’m putting some sort of input into my body that’s growing me, that’s making me better. I feel very fulfilled eating the foods that I eat and going to the gym versus the paradigm shift is that, oh, depriving myself again because I had salmon for lunch. And I’m, oh, my gosh, I’m dreading going to the gym. I just would rather sit on the couch.
Those two things are going to make a massive difference in the outcomes that happen every single time. Joe Dispenza talks a lot about the power of belief if you ever intended and then dove into his work. Tony Robbins talks a lot about this stuff as well. I think it’s a powerful stuff. So, again, it’s a coach’s role. It’s your role, Dean, to continue to inspire people to make these changes. And it’s like, I know you’ve tried everything, Billy, but I promise you, if you keep trying it, you’re going to find the right thing and you get them to truly believe this. Over time, they have a completely different outcome.
And I mean, if we’re talking about pain, they’re realizing they’re evolving the team out now. You seem to realize that psychology plays an important role. So, there are three psychological traits that have been proven to enhance pain sensitivity subjectively within people. First one is catastrophizing. You set your tone, you’re like, oh, here I go again. My whole world is over. I stub my toe. Now what? My car is going to break down. I’m just a terrible human being. So, catastrophizing is one of them.
Low self-efficacy, right? Nobody can help me but the specialists and no way you can help me. Like there’s nothing that can be done. I’ve tried it all. They’re very disempowered, and catastrophizing, low self-efficacy, and hypervigilance. Hypervigilance is people who have this extremely high knowledge and awareness of their body, like, oh, my fifth metatarsal, when it’s laterally abducted 13 degrees, creates decentralization of pain for my sciatic nerve. I’m like, bro, I don’t know what you just said, but I think you know too much, and it kind of creates this arousal in the nervous system. So, I think there’s a lot more that goes into just thoughts and beliefs.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. I mean, I want to end that part by offering some sympathy to the people who are in those situations where they’re in that mindset because change is really hard to do. Even if you’re in a really bad place, it’s hard to make changes. What Jesse and I are trying to do is we’ve been– I don’t think everyone realizes, but I mean, Jesse and I have had injuries. Both of us have been in dark places. I mean, I’m sure when you were starting your business, you were like, holy crap, is this going to work? Like, am I going to be able to support myself? Like, I’ve been there, too.
And I guess, we’re believers because we’ve seen the success and the ability of this mindset. We’ve seen that we’ve had problems that we’ve been able to go through the traditional route of figuring out a solution of sticking with the plan and noticing, hey, things have gotten better. So, that helps build confidence.
And you can work on that with small things. If you’re into, if you’ve read like Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg or Atomic Habits, James Clear, which is both really popular books, if you can make yourself feel successful, you don’t have to start a $10 billion company. If you just do something that shows, hey, you started something and you did what you wanted to do, even if it’s super small, then that helps build this feeling of confidence and success and that helps you to be able to make these more significant changes in your life, so.
Jesse O’Brien: Yeah, and to that point, we’re byproducts of our belief system. So, one thing I really try to work on with people is we try to understand. It’s like, what do you believe? Tell me about your belief structure. What are your guiding frameworks? Because the things that we believe are going to influence our behaviors, our behaviors are going to influence our outcomes. Change your outcomes, you change your life. You want to change your life, change your beliefs. It all starts right here.
Dean Pohlman: All right. So, Jesse, I’ve got one more question that I want to ask you before moving on to part two, our rapid-fire questions. By the way, if you’re watching this in video or if you noticed a little bit of a tone change in the audio, that’s because Jesse and I are finishing up this discussion, this podcast at a later date from when we started. So, just wanted to say that for transparency’s sake. But one more question I want to ask since we talked a lot about medical care, we talked a lot about the healthcare system contributing to a generally poor model of self-care, but something we may or may not have touched on was just how many people are on medications. And, Jesse, I’m assuming you kind of share this belief with me but when I talk to people who are in their fifties, sixties, seventies, who are on medication, and they kind of expect to just be on it forever, and they say, like, “Yeah, but I’ve got these side effects where I’ve got weird side effects or some of them in particular like I can’t get an erection anymore.” I’m like, “You’re like 52 and you can’t get an erection because you’re on these medications.”
So, my ultimate advice for them is, “Well, you kind of need to work toward getting off those medications,” right? Obviously, I’m not a doctor. I don’t have that training. I don’t pretend to but I do have this general idea that we need to do our best to get off of regular medications. So, Jesse, I know this is something that you’re probably interested in as well. So, I’m curious to ask you, what advice would you give people who are on medications and to want to get off them?
Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. I got a lot of thoughts and opinions there. Everything just gets very, very complicated when we’re on a lot of pharmaceutical interventions. These are things that the body does not recognize. These are new chemical derivatives that have been created by the pharmaceutical industry. And there is a lot of magnificence to what they have created but it is not a sign of optimal health. And so, the first thing that I think is interesting is that the top five causes of death are heart disease, cancer, and then the third one is going to be medical malpractice. Okay. And who cares about the other two? So, I think that’s an interesting thing to understand. 2016, 251,000 people lost their lives because of medical malpractice. That’s going to be pharmaceutical contraindications to a surgery gone bad. And my best analogy for this is so Declan, your son, was born and he is born analogous to… Sorry. Have you ever been to like the headwaters of a river or some sort of headwaters before?
Dean Pohlman: I would assume so. Yeah.
Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. So, what is that water like? Is it dirty? Is it brackish or is it kind of pure, clean? Like, what did you notice about that water?
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. It’s beautiful. It’s clean, it’s flowing. It’s moving.
Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. I mean, you can almost drink it. It’s so pure. And that’s essentially the state in which your son Declan was born. He was born with this kind of pure physiological expression, right? And 99.99% of time, that’s where we are born. And throughout life, we have maybe traumatic adverse events that happened in our childhood. So, we break our arm. So, we have tonsillitis through middle school. We get on a proton pump inhibitor because we have acid reflux at 18 years old. And all these things start to happen. There are these insults to our physiology. The problem with the pharmaceutical industry is that let’s start with the good thing is that the good thing is that it takes away a lot of the pain and discomfort. So, if I have heartburn, you take Nexium, which is a proton pump inhibitor, you aren’t going to have heartburn anymore. If you’ve never had heartburn before, it’s one of those uncomfortable things to have perpetually. So, that’s a beautiful thing but the problem is that it’s just treating the symptom. Why does that individual have gastroesophageal reflux disease? Why do they have heartburn? There needs to be an investigation around that.
So, when people get into this habit of plugging holes so dealing with all these symptoms, it gets very, very, very complicated. And what they’re essentially doing is they’re blunting their natural physiological expression. So, my perspective is that it’s going to take a lot more time than just taking a pill to get rid of the symptom because you have to investigate why do I have this issue. Am I eating too fast? Am I eating the wrong types of foods? You know, do I have low or high hydrochloric acid, stomach acid in my stomach? You know, there’s a lot of things you can investigate with that one specific case there. And eventually, you will be able to figure it out and put a plan together where you’re able to move back towards an optimal set of physiology. The problem is, is that the majority of people just don’t want to do that. But there are a subset of people who do and will want to focus on the things that will really optimize and restore their health. So, the pharmaceutical industry is exactly what us as consumers demand. We want immediate results. We don’t want to do the work.
So, there’s no surprise as to why the healthcare system in the pharmaceutical industry exists. But it needs to be very clarified. Like, this is not how you restore optimal function and optimal health. And I think through just, I mean, the last 50 years, there’s a lot of evidence to support that we really don’t have a clear understanding of how to optimize our health. By 2030, 50% of us will be not just overweight but obese in the United States. That means that normal, healthy from a body fat perspective, people are going to be the minority. I think that’s really, really a fascinating thing to see how far we’ve gotten away from our genetic and physiological roots.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. That’s concerning to think about. And something I’m thinking about also is the, yes, our medical system has evolved to treat acute symptoms or it’s meant to treat, you know, it’s when, okay, we need to treat this, we need to treat this part, we need to treat this part. And I kind of like to imagine it as like a system of the levers and pulleys. And if you push something in, then something else like goes up. So, like, okay, let’s treat this system. But as you treat that then like, “Okay. Well, this is going to happen now.” And so, doctors have the job of kind of saying, “Okay. Well, if we do this, then this is going to cause this to spike. So, we’re going to give you this. We’re also going to give you this but then we’re going to give you this to mitigate that.” And then it’s kind of like this game of, okay, to the point that people are I can’t remember how many medications the average person is on. I think above 60. But I read something that said the average 60-plus-year-old or 65-plus-year-old or whatever just has this unbelievable amount of medications to kind of counteract all these different symptoms.
Yeah. So, like kind of just getting back to the question, other than trying to get to the, you know, I realize you’re not a doctor and I don’t want people to take this as medical advice but, I guess, do you have any general guidelines that you’ve utilized with people that you work with or if it happened to you, what would you try to do in that situation if you’re trying to reduce the amount of medications you’re on?
Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. So, the answer to your question is four. Four is the average amount of medications that an adult in the United States is currently on. So, more than 131 million Americans take at least one prescription drug on a daily basis. So, a rather curious thing. So, I mean, some guiding principles for myself are to treat the human being and not like a lab test. So, a lot of times people might have things that might be outside of a particular range but if it doesn’t present any sort of symptoms with the human being, I don’t know that it is necessarily problematic. Some people tend to trend higher or lower with certain things. So, that’s one thing. I think another thing is to do some investigation as to why we think something might be out of balance. Is it our diet? Is it our stress? Is it lack of water? Is it lack of movement? Is it a virus? Is it a heavy metal burden? There’s a lot of things that can be investigated. And if we’re willing to spend the time to focus on where the issue might be coming from, I think that’s going to give much greater insight into how we’re going to work back towards long-term optimal function.
It’s a difficult thing to do because you have to be or you have to work with a very qualified professional who understands how human physiology works in a systems approach. So, if we just look at just the thyroid or just the pancreas or just the lungs in isolation, we miss out on the greater context of things. And I’ll give you an example. So, I have a client and their father passed away, a 68-year-old, dropped dead of a heart attack. And his father was grossly overweight, didn’t take care of himself. He drank and he was 230 pounds, 6’2” or 3”. He’s a big, big dude. And so, this individual, he really took it upon himself to not let that happen. He exercises. He has an engaged family and social life. He watches what he eats, he hydrates, but he has this complex around his lipids in his heart stuff. So, because of that, he noticed higher and higher cholesterol levels by going to his lipidologist and general practitioner. And so, he’s taking a statin and typically you want your cholesterol between 160 and 180. That’s an optimal place to be.
And they have gotten him to a point where he’s on a statin and his cholesterol now is so low, it’s in the 90s, which from the perspective of lipidologists is like a great thing. He’s like, “Oh my gosh, we got it so low.” But cholesterol sits upstream of all these other things downstream mechanistically, estradiol, testosterone, DHT. These are all very important hormones, DHEA, pregnenolone. And so, when you blunts the raw ingredients up top so the cholesterol up top, right, it affects everything downstream. So, after a while, he starts to really battle with depression, lose his muscle mass, feeling some melancholy. He gets his testosterone levels checked and they’re completely flat lines. So, he gets on TRT. Okay. Then he starts to notice that his hematocrit, hemoglobin starts to flirt upwards and that’s when he starts to get concerning. So, he starts to essentially donate blood, bloodletting, which is the antiquated version of this. Then he starts to feel fatigued. So, he goes back to the hematologist and he’s now anemic.
So, I just want to paint a picture of how one thing leads to a lot of different things. And from my perspective with this individual, what it is, is poorly managed stress is what he has not taken upon himself, and that has both a mechanistic and a causal relationship behind addressing lipids. And so, there’s a lot of this where there’s one symptom, right? There’s one initial thing, one aberration with somebody’s physiology, which is really, from my perspective, poorly managed stress, cholesterol, LDLs have been elevated as a response to that. And now he’s on four different medications. And then there’s honestly five and six, right? There’s Ambien because there are some sleep disturbances and then there are some anxiety. And so, there were some sort of like benzo in there as well. So, that’s six medications from one poorly managed issue. And so, I want to applaud Western medicine for where it’s good. It is like acute trauma, right? Akin to a car accident, heart attack, open heart surgery, appendix burst like, man, do I want to live in the United States when that happens? But it is not good at treating chronic disease.
You can’t take this acute model, put it on to this chronic model. It does not work. And I think that is so clear in the evidence. But there is industry and power that is really just locking this into place. From my perspective, the pharmaceutical industry is in bed with the CDC. There’s a lot of things that really want to keep the power that is. And so, doctor’s primary tool to work with is pharmaceuticals. Like how often do you talk with your doctor and they really work with you with how are your strategies for managing stress or how we’re going to adjust our diet or talking about how important your social network and your environment is for making certain movement and hydration and nutritional and even sleep decisions is. That’s not talked about. And that’s where the answer is, is if we obey these natural laws, laws that human beings have had to obey for millennia, which is we wake with the sun, we go to bed when it goes down, we eat close to the ground. So, we eat tubers, meat, nuts, seeds, berries. We eat seasonally.
We live in a tribal community so we’re meant to not live in an apartment by ourselves where we’re meant to have close contact to a moderate group of people. We’re supposed to hydrate ourselves. We’re supposed to have fun every single day, and that helps manage stress. All of these things, if we obey these natural laws, it’s my belief that 80% to 90% of what ails us will dissipate.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. No, there’s a lot of good points there. Yeah. I think part of that is we need to get away from looking at our doctors as they tell us how to live a healthy life because that’s really not what they’re there for. They’re there to tell us, “Hey, this is an issue. This is how I would treat it,” and then that’s good information for us because we can take that and figure out, okay, like this is an issue. So, let me look at those five or six areas of my life. What am I eating? You know, am I drinking enough water? Am I exercising? Do I have a general sense of purpose in the world? What’s my stress like? What are my social connections like? You know, if we can look at those areas, then figure out, “Oh, wow. You know what, I’m eating barbecue every day. Maybe this is something.” And that’s not to say that people with autoimmune disorders or other chronic or long-term diseases don’t need a specific treatment. But for a lot of us, the answer is, yeah, it’s just looking at lifestyle and figuring out how to make those changes.
Jesse O’Brien: That’s why a big passion of mine, Dean, is professionalizing the coaching industry because I hear this. And even in your own language right now, it’s like, “Well, I’m not a doctor.” You kind of qualify yourself as less than. But you and me, from my perspective, we are on the frontlines of this proactive healthcare movement and our messages are arguably way more important than doctors. Every fiber and cell in my body believes that. Doctors, I am not at all trying to downplay the significance of a doctor’s role in our life but really it’s sick care, not healthcare. You and me around healthcare, about proactive healthcare, not preventative, which I think is somewhat bastardized within conventional wisdom but proactive healthcare. And we sing these tales of what this looks like. It’s incredibly intellectually simple to understand. It’s incredibly difficult to implement behaviorally in a long-term way that really manifesting in positive changes within somebody’s internal physiology.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. I guess I’m encountering resistance to – I feel like I have to say that because my dad is a doctor, and I’m scared of him listening to this podcast to saying, “Dean, you can’t talk about that.” So, yeah, you know what, you have pointed out a belief system that I have that is potentially giving me inhibitions about giving people wellness advice, so.
Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. Let’s stay on that. Why can’t you talk about breathing fresh air, drinking filtered water, moving your body, flexibility, going for walks every day. What harm?
Dean Pohlman: You’re totally right. I think there’s just like this, you know, when we used to watch before YouTube and like when exercise videos were like much more, not everyone could go out and like make an exercise video, right? And what do they have at the beginning of each exercise video? Talk with your doctor before exercising, right? I don’t know if the generation before me, if Gen Z is as accustomed to this as I am but you and I grew up in this world of talk with your doctor, consult a medical professional before making a decision. Just maybe think of a T-shirt that said, “Talk with your doctor before doing this exercise.” Something along the lines of, “Don’t listen to them just like go do the exercise,” or like, “Go live your life or go do something,” but yeah.
Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. And I was indoctrinated with the exact same message and really fear to like bleed into other people’s practices. And I really lived by that code for a long time but it really blunted my authenticity. I have a lot of things. Like, if I understand one thing, I understand physiology very, very well. I understand how human being’s physiological expressions should function optimally. And I understand hormesis, how physical stress, which is negative, creates this adaptation where we compensate so the stress doesn’t keep kind of hurting us. I mean, that’s what exercise is, right? And so, I do some bicep curls and my body is like, “Okay. This guy’s going to probably do a bunch of bicep curls all the time so I need to adapt. I need to develop the tendon strength, I need to grow larger muscles, I need to even develop better oxygenation of this specific site.” So, I understand these things very well and I see people in the gym make these. I see the rate of adaptation. You know, I see somebody come in and squats 200 pounds and then I see how long it takes them to squat 500 pounds.
Regaining your health is so similar to that. If you’re going to do it the right way, the things that really build health, it is really going to take concerted effort and it’s not going to happen quickly overnight. So, you have to take a look at things like it’s females at 40 years old, males at 50. Those are the ones who walk into my office and they really have, you know, they’re the ones on pharmaceuticals. They have no libido, poor energy, and it took them likely two to three decades to get to that point. And so, it’s this little line that I hear and I think it’s somewhat true but for every year you’re in the proverbial fire so living outside of these natural laws, it takes about one month of concerted effort to kind of unwind that. So, say hypothetically, for 30 years you were living kind of against this genetic code. It’s going to take you about three years to really restore your health at the bare minimum. And honestly, it’s a lifelong effort to continue to work back towards the headwaters of that proverbial river.
Dean Pohlman: True. Yeah. And I just want to cap that off by saying if you are looking at this and thinking, “Oh, man, I’ve got such a long way to go,” you’ve got your entire life to do this. This isn’t just like, “Oh, I got to do it in three months.” You know, this is something that if it has been, as Jesse was saying, if it’s been three decades, it’s been 30 years, this is going to be a three-year journey for you to turn around and look at where you’re going and where you are right now and say, “Oh, you know what? I feel much more confident about my health,” but just getting started and taking steps that you can and doing what you feel motivated to do instead of forcing yourself into something. Anyways, I want to move on to part two, unless there’s anything else you want to add to that, Jesse.
Jesse O’Brien: Stay healthy, my friends.
Dean Pohlman: That’s the next t-shirt. Make healthy cool. All right. So, rapid-fire questions and these are my rapid-fire questions. I don’t know what else to say. So, Jesse, what do you think is one habit, a belief, or a mindset that has helped you the most in terms of your overall happiness?
Jesse O’Brien: That’s a great question. I think one of my guiding belief systems is that if I change what I’m thinking, that will change my behaviors. If I change my behaviors, that will change my outcomes. If I change my mindset or my beliefs or my values, it’ll change my life. And so, it all starts with everything up here. And so, intentionally grooming the thoughts that we want to give power to versus the thoughts that we want to just surrender to, I think that’s a very, very important thing. A lot of people get really wrapped up into, should I do this, should I not do this? And they give this thing that maybe don’t have that much power of actually shifting. They give it a lot of attention and they get anxious and they get all worked up about certain things. So, also choosing to control the things we can control and surrender to the things that we cannot would be maybe another way of putting that as well.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. That’s great advice. The fun part is doing it consistently. What’s one thing that you do for your health that you believe is overlooked or undervalued by others? Just one thing. Doesn’t have to be “the” thing.
Jesse O’Brien: Walking. I always have to go back to walking. Walking is so simple. People are like, “I don’t have…” You know, there’s this movement right now that really victimizes people who take care of themselves saying that’s kind of healthy and fit. Lifestyle is a privileged movement. You know, people who are white, people who have higher socioeconomic status, they have the privilege to eat healthier. They have the privilege to move. Walking is the most democratic activity you can possibly do. So, you can say, “Screw the man, I’m going for a walk. I’m not going to my $300 gym.” Anybody is able to walk and I think walking is the best form of exercise for every single person on the planet. And if you’re super motivated, maybe you’ll do some bodyweight workouts so you’ll go into a gym. But that’s all extra credit. The foundation is easy aerobic movement. That can be biking, that can be swimming, that can be hiking, or walking. Walking is so easy to do.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah.
Jesse O’Brien: Do you dread to go for a walk the same way like if you’re doing like 315 back squats for max reps or something like that? You might get a little bit of like anxiety before you take yourself to that level of discomfort but going for a walk, it’s restorative, right? It’s engaging. We’re out in the neighborhood. We see neighbors. We breathe in fresh air. You know, you’re with Declan and Marissa. It’s an enjoyable experience. There are so many health benefits. We circulate blood. We move. We get outside. It changes up kind of our brain chemistry for the day.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. I mean, no, totally. I agree with you. I do want to say, I mean, obviously, if you don’t have time, I mean, this goes without saying but if you don’t have time to do that, then yeah, I can see why it can be looked at as a privilege. Or maybe you don’t live in a nice neighborhood where like you literally can’t go outside and walk around there. But yeah, I hope that if you do have that ability, if you have the time to go for a walk and you’re somewhere safe, then I hope that you can take that opportunity.
Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. And there’s also people talk about micro-dosing exercise is another really interesting thing. Okay. I’ll go with you and say, “Okay. We’re in a bad part of town. We don’t feel comfortable walking outside,” or maybe we don’t get off work until late and it’s dark and then we don’t feel comfortable and we’re a female and we don’t feel secure, man, what’s wrong with some split squats or some sit-ups and some side planks? You know, that’s a great form of exercise, 10 minutes just put it together in any format that works. Five split squats per leg, five sit-ups, 25 seconds cycling per side. Do that for 10 minutes. Don’t stop moving and boom. I think that’s an excellent form of exercise. You don’t need to have a Ph.D. in exercise biz to understand that that’s better than plopping down on the couch.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. I mean, finding that motivation to do it or not even having to find a motivation but making the decision to do that is, yeah, it’s tough to do. Yeah. I think the big thing there is trying to notice the immediate benefits of it instead of doing it like I’m just doing this because it’s healthy, I’m doing it because something I should be doing. It’s doing it. And then noticing, “Hey, like, I feel good about myself after this. Oh, I feel the burn in my muscles and I feel satisfied that I did something.” Or maybe you’re doing exercises in a way that helps with your mobility and you’re like, “Oh, you know what? My back doesn’t feel so stiff anymore or my shoulders feel a lot better,” but it’s a whole another conversation.
Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. On that point, and to come back to one of the first questions, which is what belief or mindset shift is most powerful? Everything I do, I believe, whether it’s necessarily true or not, for the most part, is just nourishing my body. So, when I had breakfast this morning, the chicken and the duck and the blackberries that I had, I was like, “I’m so thankful for eating this. This is great nutrition. It’s vitamin C. It’s healthy amino acids. This came from an ethically sourced duck that I bought at the Mueller’s farmer market. It’s going into me and it’s building my muscles. It’s building my vitality. It is giving me energy for the day. This walk that I’m doing, I’m thankful to be out there. It is moving my blood. It’s making me a better human being. I’m more patient.” And so, each thing that I’m doing, I believe really, really materializes in a renewed sense of who I am. It makes me feel like a really good, strong individual. And so, I believe there’s really two ways this is oversimplified. I have two primary ways of looking at life. There is the conventional way, which is essentially how much can I get away with before it bites me in the butt? How many cheeseburgers can I eat? How long can I not exercise? How many pharmaceuticals to let things really go south?
And then you have the other way of looking at life, which is how can I optimize my life? How can I live as long as possible with the best health span and just live the most badass life? And that comes by honoring ourselves first, by taking care of ourselves, the things that we need as a human being. We need food, water, and shelter but we also need good energy from that food. We need good restorative sleep. We need really empowering connections. We need fulfilling work. These are all things that we need to focus on. And if we focus on those things first and foremost, then the rest of our lives becomes a lot easier. If my goal is to really give back to people, it’s counterintuitive that I have to not give to people first. I have to give it to myself first so I have the most energy to be able to give to everybody else. Prioritize myself first. Everything else will be better.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. Well said. What’s the most stressful part of your day-to-day life?
Jesse O’Brien: The most stressful part is definitely I have a very high drive and motivation and I have the tendency to take on more than I probably should. More than I should. Not probably more than I should. And that results in what I feel like is the balance between my work and my family life or my personal life or just having the opportunity to kind of like restore myself and have time to myself. That’s in balance. And so, I’m so heavy on the work that it feels like Groundhog Day at some times. And can’t get everything done for the week so I got to wake up early and do stuff on Saturday and it’s always having something hanging over your head. And as an entrepreneur, I’m sure you can kind of relate to this is the to-do list is never done. There’s always something we can do better. And there are endless ideas of what you’re trying to think about. Do we act on that? Do we put it on the future to-do list? And so, that’s always running in the background of my brain. And my biggest challenge as a healthy human being is learning how to relax my nervous system.
Dean Pohlman: What’s the driving factor there? What’s the guilt you feel? What’s the fear? What’s the voice in your head that keeps telling you to keep going when you know you should stop?
Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. I mean, the first thing is that I’m a yes person. I say yes to a lot of things and I’m just now teaching myself how to say no. But I’m a very curious individual. And so, just by nature, I want to learn things. I want to understand things. I’ve got my hands in multiple pots. And so, while I am a health and fitness entrepreneur, I also have a cryptocurrency mining operation and I have like a digital mapping cryptocurrency thing. I have all these like little, tiny projects that I do. I’m interested in real estate. I’m interested in paleoanthropology. There’s just a lot of things that I’m intensely curious about. And so, I tend to get a little too deep into some of these things. But the fear, if there’s a fear behind it, the fear is that I’m not going to live up to probably what I think my primary reason on this earth is, and that’s to just have an existence that is as unique and I guess spend the time exactly the way I want to spend it. And I feel like if I don’t activate a lot of opportunities, then my life, like, I rather my life be like bad things happen then like I have like general apathy or like I just feel kind of like blah. Like, I don’t care if it’s good or bad. I just want things to happen. I want action. And so, I think it’s fear of just not really living my life to its fullest.
Dean Pohlman: When did that start or is there something that caused that or that’s just how you’ve always been? I’m trying to dig deep here. I’m trying to get you to say something.
Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. I think in my twenties, I just realized we create our lives. You can really live your life by design if you believe that. And that belief I planted that seed and through a lot of like personal growth work, I’ve been able to really build this belief system. And the belief system is really the power to the small degrees of success that I had. It also is my biggest nemesis at the same time because it’s got me overly involved.
Dean Pohlman: Gotcha. Yeah. I can definitely relate to that. Yeah. I don’t want to say my experience. I just want to say I can definitely relate to that, taking on too much, writing down an ambitious to-do list for each day, and then getting to the end like, “Oh, I did like half this,” or then you get like halfway through the day, you’re like, “Oh, I haven’t done any of this yet, but I’ve been working the entire day. How did that happen?” But, yeah, I’d love for there to be 30 hours in a day. I think like 30 hours in a day would be nice and then you could actually sleep 9.5 hours and, you know. Anyways, what do you think is the biggest challenge facing men and their well-being right now?
Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. I feel like societally men are being taught to subdue their natural biology to a degree. They’re told to be agreeable and to back down and to not maybe be as assertive for to – there’s this whole thing about toxic masculinity, which I definitely agree but it’s kind of taking the baby out with the bathwater and it’s kind of saying, “Well, don’t be masculine at all.” It actually kind of feminized men. Not only are we being culturally and societally feminized, I think we’re physiologically being feminized. And I forget the statistic but it was something like by 2050, we’re really moving towards the entire population, moving towards infertility. Just my own subjective experience with my peers, one out of every two of my friends has a difficult time getting pregnant, whether it’s the female or the male with a lot of like xenoestrogens and plastics and things that are in our food and water. It has certain effects on the hormonal system in the body that really leads to non-optimal or dysfunctional states within our physiology. So, not only are we being kind of told not to kind of like be a man in certain instances, I think we’re also being feminized as well.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. I had Ryan Michler from Order of Man on the podcast a few, however long it was ago. But yeah, we kind of touched on that and the idea is you can be masculine and you can be a d*ck but you can also be masculine and it’d be great, fantastic for everybody. So, you know what, I think the idea behind toxic masculinity is just dudes being assh*les. Like, it doesn’t mean that just being masculine in general is as bad. Yeah. I mean, we also live in a time or at least many of us live in situations where violence is just like I’ve never been in such. Probably in my life, I’ve been in fewer than five situations where violence has been like this is what you need to do. In those situations, you’re just so I just grew up with the kind of inundated by the message, “Don’t be violent. Don’t hit back. Or like in these situations, just de-escalate.” In some of those situations, I needed to be violent. You know, I spent time abroad and something that was really interesting to me. I lived in Turkey for about a year is people get in fights. There’s violence but like you don’t end up getting arrested and then having to go to court and decide whether or not you go to jail for 3 to 6 months. You get in a fight and it’s over with and it’s done.
You know, here you’re scared of getting in a bar fight or you’re scared of getting in a fight because if you punch a guy and he tells, then you could end up in jail or you could end up and these are things that, you know. We need to be able to use violence when necessary. But also there’s a huge fear of the repercussions of violence and that prevents us from kind of leaning into a lot of that. Not saying that it’s, you know, I’m saying this right as all of the Will Smith-Chris Rock thing is happening. God, I don’t want to take me out of context but, yes, not all masculinity is bad. Do you do regular stress relief? Do you have a regular stress relief activity or is it more so just living a lifestyle that gives opportunity for stress relief?
Jesse O’Brien: This is my biggest opportunity for improving my own health. And the one thing I do is do some form of deep breathing every day. But I need to build upon that practice, whether that’s intentional meditation in the morning or if it is prayer.
Dean Pohlman: Following along to the Breath series from Man Flow Yoga once per day?
Jesse O’Brien: Ooh, shameless plug right there.
Dean Pohlman: Sorry.
Jesse O’Brien: But the fastest way that we can bring our nervous system back to a state of balance is through breathwork. You know, our nervous system we do tough things with it every single day. We have tough conversations. We have to do deep work. We work out. But in order for the rubber band to, if the rubber band’s our nervous system, to really have a big effect, we have to be able to stretch it and we have to allow it to relax. If it’s always stretched out, it’s going to have issues long term. And so, you need the yin to that yang. And I feel that I’m always kind of stretched out. And so, over time, my ability to adapt to stress gets less and less and less and less. And so, in terms of our original conversation around health, this is kind of my lesson at 50 years old, I’m 35 right now, this will become a problem if I don’t learn how to work less, find balance outside of my work. And so, it’s something that I have a lot of work to do.
Dean Pohlman: Gotcha. Well, thanks for your honesty there. So, I’m going to wrap up but before that, I do want to say so we have been working with Jesse in Central Athlete for the last couple of years now. I think about a year ago, we actually created a weight training program specifically for people using Man Flow Yoga, which was incredibly successful. We have done two rounds of that. I think I want to say like more than 50% of those guys have continued to train.
Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. They keep on doing it.
Dean Pohlman: And this is like a major commitment. This is not like a $5 a month thing. This is like a couple of $100 or more per month where you’re working with a Central Athlete trainer. I’m blanking on like Chris, right? Yeah. Where you’re working with one of the Central Athlete trainers and actually designing a custom program for you. But these guys are working out three times per week and they’re seeing really great results blending this with Man Flow Yoga. So, if you have heard me talk about the importance of doing the stuff that I do in Man Flow Yoga but also to really for optimal results for if you’re really looking to, if you’re trying to lose more weight or if you’re trying to build more muscle, then combining this with strength training, combining this with the resistance training is my go-to recommendation. And we have a program that we literally designed for this purpose with Central Athlete. And Jesse is the guy behind this. So, definitely check that out if you’re interested. Jesse, what are some other ways that people can stay up to date with you and learn more about Central Athlete?
Jesse O’Brien: Yes. So, checking out our Instagram, Central Athlete, going to our website CentralAthlete.com. But I want to just touch on one thing there and really just thank you, Dean, for initiating this, because you kind of poked me a couple of times and eventually I was like, “Okay. We’ll try to get something going here.” And this has actually brought up something really interesting that we didn’t really recognize. But a lot of the people that came in through Man Flow Yoga, they were males, they were a little bit older and they didn’t have a ton of confidence with themselves in the gym. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how much to lift. So, they didn’t really ever get super invested in it. And so, what we realized is that then coming in with this yoga foundation where they had learned degrees of flexibility and mobility, and then we start to challenge those range of motions with more intense loads, we saw really good effects in these spots in their bodies like shoulders were feeling better, they were feeling more functional, but also they started to notice really good body compositional results as well was another thing.
And after that, they got this really positive feedback because you started getting compliments. They were feeling confident in the gym. People are noticing some of the shifts in their demeanor and kind of how clothes were fitting. So, this is turning to a really interesting thing where particularly Chris has found it. His specialty now or what he wants to go after is taking people who don’t feel super comfortable in the gym and kind of walking them through this process of kind of like this beginner weight trainee and kind of building upon that foundation. And so, at each stage of the journey, he’s finding not just something else with movement but also with nutrition and lifestyle and all these things that both of us are talking about. We just have kind of the in-person or the one-on-one coaching aspect where we get to work in this very specific manner and building upon this great foundation that they have developed in Man Flow Yoga. So, I just wanted to thank you for introducing us to something that both Chris and I really, really enjoy, and it resonates with us.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. That’s awesome. I’m glad it’s working out. And just to kind of touch on if you’re listening to this and you are one of those guys who just has not felt comfortable going into a gym and think about what we do with Man Flow Yoga, which is workouts you can do at home. It makes a lot of sense. You know, if you don’t want to go into a gym, you work out at home. If you don’t want to do weights because you don’t know how much weight to do or how to do the exercises then here, let me walk you through this workout and tell you all the techniques that you should be doing, what you should be feeling, what you should not be feeling. But yeah, I think it’s really cool that I’ve gotten to the point with a lot of people who do Man Flow Yoga that they’re willing to listen to me say, “Hey, you should go try weights,” and then them going and doing it when before I don’t know if they would have done it. So, anyways, Jesse, thanks for being a great resource for that.
Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. And this just gives them that extra level of support where we can really teach them what you’re talking about with the nitty-gritty detail. So, this has been kind of a great kind of team-up type thing. So, we appreciate this whole interaction.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. Sweet. All right, guys, I’m going to wrap it up there. Jesse, thanks so much for joining me.
Jesse O’Brien: Thank you, Dean.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. That’s all I have to say. So, guys, make sure you check out Jesse. Check out what he’s doing with Central Athlete. And again, if you are intrigued by the program that we’ve developed, weight training with yoga, then be sure to check that out. Jesse, as always, thanks for the conversation. I’m looking forward to sending you messages complaining about my assigned reps and sets, and I’ll talk to you soon. Guys, thanks for checking in or listening to the Better Man Podcast and hope to see you on another episode soon.[END]
- Jesse A. O’Brien
- Central Athlete
- Jesse O’Brien on Instagram | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter
- Central Athlete on Instagram
- Science of Strength Training: Understand the anatomy and physiology to transform your body (DK Science of) by Austin Current
- Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything by BJ Fogg
- Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
- Ryan Michler
- Order of Man
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