00:04:02 Background of the guest
00:10:45 The Importance of having enough sleep
00:15:24 What are real foods and the benefits of it?
00:21:26 Taste buds can evolve
00:30:53 4 core pillars of health
00:38:19 A good habit every morning
00:39:54 Making it consistent until it becomes unconscious.
00:47:51 Lead by example to your kids
00:51:14 Benefits of walking
Links to Dr Chatterjee
- Visit the Fitter Healthier Dad website
- Subscribe or leave a review on iTunes
Welcome to the Fitter Healthier Dad Podcast, where you can learn how to improve your diet, lose fat and get fitter in a sustainable and fun way without spending hours in the gym here is your host Darren Kirby.
Darren: Welcome back to the podcast, guys. This is the number one podcast for dads in their 40s who want to improve their health and fitness. This is Episode 78, and today we are going to be joined by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, where we’ll be discussing how much better you can feel by just dropping some weight. Dr. Chatterjee has just released his new book, Feel Great Lose Weight. And his mission is to help 100 million people feel fantastic by restoring them to optimal health. And it is his belief that we have over complicated health and he wants to simplify it. Hi, Dr. Chatterji. How are you?
Dr Chatterjee: I’m really good, thanks, Darren. Happy New Year to you.
Darren: And to you indeed. It’s January the 4th at the time recording and yes, a bit of a different Christmas, no doubt, for the majority of us. But still a nice time to kind of relax and spend a lot of time with family, I think, which was very good for me personally this year.
Dr Chatterjee: Yeah, no, absolutely. It’s. 2020 has been really challenging and so many different ways for all of us, and I know for many people Christmas is very different this year. Nonetheless, I managed to switch off for a couple of days and really spend time with my wife and my two children, which is absolutely fantastic. And now, you know, in the back of the swing of things, really, because my book sells, I’m sort of doing a lot of promo at this time. Normally I’d be on the road, actually. So the last three years at this time when I’ve had a book out, I’ve been in London for weeks in press and PR. So we’re not traveling. So yeah, I’m doing it now from my podcast studio here in my garage, which it sounds great.
On one level it is great because it’s getting away from my family for a week then. But what I’ve realized today is that I’m you know, I’m doing my … And I nip inside to the kitchen to get a cup of tea or sort of make a coffee on. My kids are on me and they want to do stuff. And I said, not even finished yet. And it’s and that’s great and it’s lovely. But I realized actually that when I’m in love that I can switch off and I miss my family, I can really just get to work and so. I think I guess what I’m saying there is a boundary between work and home is something that many of us have struggled with over the past few months. And it’s certainly something that I know, I have my own challenges for sure.
Darren: Yeah, definitely. I think it’s an interesting point you raise because, you know, when we’re on the other side of the coin, like you say, when you are away from home, you have that other side of it. You kind of look forward to spending time. Your kids look forward to being at home.
And then, like you say, when you do go in the kitchen, I don’t know about you, but I feel a little bit conflicted because you know, family is very important to me and kids are very important to me. And then when the kids ask you to do something and you’re in the midst of essentially your working day. Right. And then you have to say no to them, for me really I get very conflicted with that. And I yeah, I do struggle with those boundaries.
Dr Chatterjee: Yeah, me too. And I’ve had a lot of guilt over that over the years. I’ve actually done quite a bit of work on myself and trying to figure out where that comes from. Yeah. And I certainly think that it has some of its roots in childhood and the way I perceive things growing up, I definitely have this feeling of guilt sometimes. Yeah. Which I’ve worked hard to let go of. Right. I’m a lot better than I was still there from time to time. Yeah. But yeah, I think that part of it is easy when you are away. But I think overall I prefer being in my own bed every night and I love to have breakfast with my, my wife and kids everywhere. Absolutely.
Darren: Absolutely. I completely agree. So and so for people that haven’t come across you and your amazing podcast and everything that you do around nutrition, medicine, can you give us a brief background as to how you’ve ended up to where you are today?
Dr Chatterjee: Yeah, sure. So, you know, I’m coming out to 20 years of clinical practice as a doctor. You know, I started off in hospital medicine. I thought I was going to be a specialist in a lot of exams to be a specialist and was getting a little bit frustrated with medicine, actually getting quite frustrated at how specialized we were becoming, which has its merits for sure. But I felt like I was studying the kidney. So I was going to be a Nephrologist. And I strongly felt that I didn’t want to see kidneys for the whole of my career. I wanted to see everything and how. Everything connects with, you know, how different organs have different senses, all connect with other symptoms and other organs.
That’s why I made a step to move to general practice, and did my GP exams. And there’s a couple of key things that happened really for me. One was when my son was six months old, my wife and I had just gone on holiday just after Christmas to Germany and France to stay at my friend’s place and. You know, my son had a convulsion, he stopped moving. We had to rush him to the hospital. He was there for five nights. The doctors were very worried we were going to lose him that first night. And it transpired that he had a preventable vitamin deficiency, a vitamin D deficiency, and he had what’s called a Hypocalcemia convulsions. So he had a convulsion coming from two low levels of calcium in his blood, which is because of this vitamin D problem.
And. It was one of those moments where everything changes, really, you suddenly your life in a completely different perspective. And I’ve been having my frustrations with medicine up until that point, if I’m honest. But there was a real, real clash to me, which is acute medicine. Modern medicine saved his life. So in that moment. Right. Gave him an infusion, gave him what he needed to solve the problem. They didn’t then give me any advice on, well, how long could this have been going on for? Is there any impact of not having had vitamin D or calcium in his body for maybe the last six months? And as I started reading more and more about it, I was like, well, hold on a minute. Vitamin D is a critical nutrient for your immune system and it can impact all kinds of things that your gut microbiome, your skin.
And I thought, well, maybe that’s why he’s got bad eczema, an allergy. And I really didn’t feel that the medical profession would give me much help there. And, you know, I am part of that medical profession. And when we left the hospital in France five days with my son, I made myself a file that day that I was going to get my son back to full optimal health as if this had never happened. I’m obsessed. I started reading three, four hours on vitamin D, on nutrition, and all kinds of things every single day. I was just absorbing and learning all kinds of information.
And the truth is, is that I learned so much that I thought, why do I not know this? I’ve been to one of Europe’s most prestigious medical schools. I have an immunology degree. I’ve got my specialty for six hours, my GP exams. How do I not know a lot of this? So I applied what I learned with my son. He’s now a thriving 10 year old boy. He’s really, really healthy. It’s just amazing to be around. I applied the same principles with myself and my friends and my family. We’re all feeling better than we’ve ever felt before about applying the same principles. When my patients and I find them using less medication than I’ve ever had to use, I’m actually getting to the root cause of a lot of people’s problems. So I’ve really developed through that. I’ve really got this mission and my mission over the course of my career is to help one hundred million people improve the quality of their lives. And I feel strongly that we can do that via health. You know, it’s not, it’s not about health to me. It’s actually much more than that.
The reason my podcast is called Feel Better, Live More is because what we feel best in ourselves, we get more out of our lives. We get more of our free time. We get more out of our relationships. We get more of our children. We get more out of ourselves. But health is that necessary? First step for me. And the big thing I see out there is that we’ve complicated health units. So tricky, it seems, is something we think is about deprivation and punishment and restriction. When I want to show people health is actually about compassion for yourself, it’s about fun. It’s a necessary ingredient that helps you live your best life. And it can be fun and enjoyable. And so my mission is to simplify health, but it’s also to show people that it’s not as hard as you think.
Darren: Yeah. That that invokes such a big emotion in me, because this is why Fitter Healthier Dad exists. Yes. Because your phrase of feel better, live more is so true. Because until I discovered what real health was, you know, I was an overweight city worker who didn’t really pay any attention to his health because you assume as a human that you’re bulletproof. And if you have good health, in some ways you are but there’s a phrase you don’t know what it’s like to feel good until you feel good and you know, and it is so, so true. And I agree, you know, and I think that I always use the analogy of a car and you wouldn’t ever run your car to the end of its life without ever having a warning light or ever having it go into the garage. But why do we as humans, why do we run ourselves into the ground or ignore these little warning signs that we get and just try and carry on just crying?
Dr Chatterjee: You know, it’s a great point. And what you said that I really liked was these warning signs, because for most of us, these warning signs or signals? But are we listening? You know, with death often to the noise we plow through, we will have another drink. We’ll watch, we’ll binge more about more. Netflix will get will power through that fatigue with more caffeine. OK, you know what? You know I’m a man. I’ll get through. That’s exactly right. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like, but. So many people are walking around in a haze and they don’t know how good they could feel. Yeah, and, you know, I mentioned relationships a lot because I think many cases of relationship problems, whether it’s with your partner, with your kids, are often actually health problems. Because when we’re not feeling good in ourselves. Right, we’re not, we don’t show up in a real presence and meaningful way in our relationships where Razi we know, for example, sleeps something I’m so passionate about.
We know that if you sleep, let’s say, five hours a night compared to eight hours, a part of your brain called the amygdala is up to 50 percent more reactive. Right. That’s the emotional brain. Right. So we can measure that’s up to 50 percent more active. So you’re more emotional. You know, we all know that feeling when you haven’t said, well, what you like with your partner or with your patients or you attend, said, oh, no, I’m not. Over the past few years, I have evolved my own lifestyle practices whereby I give sleep the very top priority. I mean, I block off that time and I am delighted with not letting anything interfere with as much as possible. If I sleep well, I’m a better human being. I’m a better doctor. I’m a husband and I’m a better father.
Darren: Yeah is so true. And I think it’s important that you realize and recognize what you just said, that around the other different elements, because when I speak to other dads, they don’t necessarily understand when they when we talk about fitness and health, they kind of see just those two pieces. And I see it as part of a bigger puzzle. So like you say, the emotional side of it, your mindset, your sleep, hydration, all these little really simple things that we take for granted, I believe, are all the different pieces of the puzzle, that if you put them together, you absolutely do feel amazing. And like you said, you know, you don’t then you have more energy and you are more effective, you more efficient. You don’t necessarily need to be burning the midnight oil at work or, you know, doing late night things because you feel so good. You want to get that sleep. You want to be hydrated so that you can perform your best.
Dr Chatterjee: Guess it did it. I mean, wake up. There’s nothing I like more than waking up refreshed, having a clear head, thinking bright. I’m going to have an amazing day today. Yeah, it starts the night. It actually starts the evening before for me.It starts at the timing of my evening meal actually is something I realized in my own life in the last few years is that if I eat relatively early in the evening and I’ve tried this as well, my sleep quality is much better, which then has a knock on effect the next day in of how I feel, how engaged I go out for a walk, how productive I am with my patients or at work. And so, you know, we’ve all got to figure out what works best for us. But a lot of people have this obstacle that they think health is just too difficult. Yeah, time for health. But we all do actually. In the book released last year, which is really, really popular, it was called Feel Better in Five and Everything. And that book took five minutes to do just five minutes and everything was free. And I was trying to showcase that. Look, health and wellbeing can be quick and it can be, you know, accessible to everyone. And that’s something I’m really passionate about.
Darren: Yeah, like you, I feel that I feel a similar way because there is there is a conception around health and fitness that it is expensive, whether whether you’re talking about a gym membership, whether you’re talking about food, you know, but it doesn’t have to be when you have the knowledge in this comes back to the kind of education, really. And I could go off on a tangent and I will ask you I’ll come back later on to ask you about education and specifically with children in nutrition in schools. But thinking about your book and food, obviously, food is a hugely big part of our lives from an obviously a fuel perspective for the body. But also there’s a big social element to food in the way that we socialize with our friends and family around food. But I believe that we’ve lost the understanding of what real food is. So that’s quite a big kind of topic. But what’s your view on what real foods and the kind of benefits of eating real food?
Dr Chatterjee: Yeah, you’re right, that is a big question. First of all, I think we need to define what is real food and because everyone has a different definition of that. I love the term real food. I use it a lot with my patients. They tend to understand it is set to get it. Real food, the way I see it is basically minimally processed food. It’s instantly recognizable. So meat that looks like meat, fish that looks like fish, vegetables that look like vegetables, fruit that looks like fruits. It sounds so obvious and simple, but it’s amazing how much and it is almost food. We are now consuming that. You can’t quite tell what it is or where it’s come from, right? So, and I think it’s a simple way to cut through all the dietary tribes and all that fighting about which diet is best. Go look, you may want to play around with different diets or different ways of eating, but the principle that most of us, I feel should be adopting if we can, is to eat a diet of mostly real foods. And why is that so important? Well, A, it nourishes, yes, your physical health, but it also nourishes your mental health, which a lot of people are not aware of. The food you eat absolutely impacts your mood.
Some of my patients. Actually, they thought they had mood problems, whether it’s anxiety, depression and amazingly, how many that I can think of, quite a few who actually had huge improvements just from breathing to real food diets. Not everyone don’t that everyone does. And there’s really good research to suggest that. So why is it so important? Well, you can’t. It’s very hard to overeat a real food meal like, let’s say a leg of lamb, some sweet potatoes and some broccoli. You don’t tend to binge and overeat real food or what I call one ingredient, foods in the new book. OK.
Secondly, you tend to feel fuller for longer, so food tends to not leave you needing to snack again one hour, two hours later. And the third reason I think we should focus on this is because when you eat things like this, you are more able to resist what I told in the book, Blessie Foods. These are these highly processed foods that have been designed by food manufacturers, which are full of fat, sugar and salt and various combinations of things like salted caramel, or if anyone heard that term in that stomach starts, it was already OK or their mouth is starting to water.
And it’s because these products are designed to do that. 50 years ago, salted caramel didn’t exist. It is an invention by food scientists to spark the release of a hormone called dopamine. In your brain. We know about dopamine. We know we get dopamine hits on social media. We know gamblers and alcoholics get dopamine hits when they consume their chosen drug or engage in their chosen behavior. Well, you know what? Food can give a state of mind hits as well. And it tends to be these really, really tasty, hyper processed or what we call ultra processed foods that have been designed to do that. What’s interesting about when you have these dopamine hits, you start to condition your behavior. Yeah. So you start to really want the same things again. So if you feel tired, you have a chocolate bar and it makes you feel good with a big dopamine.
Next time you’re tired, guess what’s been released in your brain. Guess what you’ll be triggered to do if this keeps going on and on again. What happens then is that even the smell of that food or the size of that food triggers the dopamine, which is why many people know that feeling when they go past a bakery where they get their favorite junk food restaurant from the past and they get that smell and they get that memory and they really struggled to resist it because it dopamine. So when we cut through all that and go, I’m not saying don’t ever have some of those foods, and I would always say people are entitled to do whatever they want. I’m not here to tell people what they should or shouldn’t be doing. All I’m trying to do is share information to say, listen, if you try for a couple of weeks, if you go rough the next two weeks, I’m just going to eat mostly real food, whether that’s breakfast, then I just see what happens, see energy, see what happens to your cravings, see what happens to your sleep. You can make the decision if you want to continue after that.
Darren: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Like you said, just try it. But I think the other challenge that people have now, if they are used to these foods that we’ve been talking about, the ultra processed foods, is that the palate has changed and developed such that when you have no more nutritious food, it’s almost like there’s not much taste to it, or you don’t get that big hint of sweetness or the big hint of sourness or whatever you get from that from the ultra processed foods. And therefore, the initial reaction is, oh, this is not nice. But once you’ve gone through that phase and then if you then try some ultra processed food where it’s way too salty, way too sweet.
Dr Chatterjee: I mean, what you said, that is actually very empowering because what you said that shows us that our taste buds can change. So we’ve already shown that they can adapt. Now, let’s try and think of this. If I brought in the net here a little bit. I would ask everyone, listen to this one now, if they remember that very first sip of wine or that first taste of beer. Yeah, well, I remember I’d yeah, I thought it was disgusting. Yes, it was absolutely disgusting. But then I go to university and everyone’s frankly getting hammered and fresh this week, every night. And so you drink more and you just, you know, you’re trying to fit in and you drink more and more by the end of the week. You love beer and you are fine. But we didn’t know your taste buds can evolve. And if anyone’s ever had sugar in their coffee, I used to years ago, maybe 10, 12 years ago when I started drinking tea, I was quite late to tea and coffee actually, and I’d have sugar in my tea. And then I stopped, so I can’t remember when I stopped for the first two or three weeks, it was really hard. Two weeks after, I think about four or five weeks, I picked up someone else’s work by accident and I had sugar in it and I had to spit it out.
I thought it was disgusting because it was just those few weeks my taste buds had, we said and I want to give hope to people to go listen, if you think you crave other pizzas every night and chocolate and crisps No. One, these foods are designed to do that. So you’re not weak, you know, like willpower. You can’t fight your biology. But if you really think for the next two or three weeks I’m going to clear out my house, OK? I’m going to just bring real food into the house. When I make a concerted effort, I guarantee your taste buds will start to change.
Darren: Yeah, definitely. And it’s very interesting what you said there. You know, people thinking that they’re weak or they can’t do it. I speak to so many of my clients who I work with and say, oh, I’ve got something to tell you. I’ve been generous. And I try to say to them, look, you’re no different to anybody else. We all have these challenges. We know whether it’s boredom at night or anything, and it causes you to binge, you know, and the other thing around the kind of taste buds changing and things like that, you know, we are all the same. We have all been conditioned, unfortunately, for the food that we consume by the supermarkets and our taste buds and palates have changed. So it’s just kind of recognizing really, I think, is that none of us humans like change. We all like a comfort zone. But if you are serious about really optimizing your health and I think 20, 20 was the biggest wake up call that I’ve ever seen in my life, time for people to say, actually, you know what?
We really need to start considering and making it part of our daily routine to be aware at least of what is good and what is healthy. And the other thing you know, and this is something that I’m very interested in you is a very highly qualified doctor of only in the last however many years come to this place where you’ve now understood how important food is. And it’s not just a case of kind of relying on the NHS, so to speak, for them to manage our health. And I truly believe and I’d love to get your thoughts on this, whether or not you think the NHS is sustainable in its current state where we are taking the approach where we fix as opposed to try and educate and prevent.
Dr Chatterjee: The short answer is no, I don’t think it is sustainable in this current state, and I think to really understand why not, I think we need to look at what’s really been going on. How was the NHS formed? What was the health landscape in the country when it was formed? And as adults, you know, 30, 40 years ago, the bulk of what we see were acute problems. So problems that really did respond quite well to one pill for every ill model. You know, if you came in with a chest infection, we would diagnose and go, OK, take this sensible say it three times a day for a week, and then, hey presto, your chest infection has gone and you can go back on and live your normal life. The problem now is that the health landscape of the UK has changed not just the UK, frankly, the Western world and beyond, the 80 percent of what we see now is in some way related to our collective modern lifestyles. I’m not putting blame on people. I obviously understand life is tough. It’s tricky. There’s all kinds of pressures and stresses on us. But the truth is, 80 percent of what a GP like me sees in any given day is in some way related to the way we’re living, whether it’s anxiety, depression, gut problems, migraines, insomnia, fatigue, you name it.
Right. You can make a strong case that our lifestyle plays a role in all of them to differing amounts depending on the person. But we’re not trained as doctors. What to do about that? OK, this may surprise people, but we are not trained in nutrition and lifestyle as doctors very much trained to diagnose. And then we’re typically given protocols whereby once you’re diagnosed, let’s say you don’t know that this is a migraine. These are your drug options for your migraine. Right. And what I’ve realized is and I teach a lot of doctors and I’ve created a course called Prescribing Why some medicine that’s been accredited by the Royal College of GPS and taught a few thousand health care professionals as well. And we keep improving because it’s getting more and more popular because doctors are not trained for this. But I mentioned to my granddad, well, you could have ten people coming to see you with a migraine, and that could be 10 different causes for one person. It could be a strategist.
And if you help them address their stress, it might reduce that migraine for somebody else. It may be that they’re reacting to one of the foods that they’re reaching out to help them address that for someone else. Maybe they’ve got tightness in their neck from stress or work related, actually, a bit of help that might reduce the pressure. I mean, there’s all kinds of different reasons and so is the NHS to say, let’s make something. The NHS has been designed around treating illness. Yeah. Hasn’t been designed around promoting health. And we’re trying to do more and more of that now. But actually the system, the way it’s set up, isn’t set up for the appointments that we have as GPS. They’re not set up to help promote health and wellbeing. And that’s why, yes, I had that experience with my son. Mm hmm. But there were a couple of other things. And, you know, I didn’t do this BBC one prime time series for two years called Doctor in the House, where I went into people’s homes for four to six weeks.
People who had chronic illnesses, type two diabetes, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, and every single family, I’d help them either completely reverse their symptoms or get dramatically better in just six weeks, all using lifestyle change. I was so fortunate as well to show the UK public that we had about five million people watching every week. Right. That whole variety of different conditions can be improved by small changes to our lifestyle. Yes, that’s what I am passionate about. And that’s what in every book I write, including this new one, which, yes, is around, loosely speaking, you know, around weight loss. But it really isn’t actually. It isn’t. It isn’t. I mean, it’s called feeling great to lose weight. It’s to try and help people who are looking to lose weight. Yeah, but the truth is the principles are universal and will help anyone, myself included. It’s about physical health, mental health, emotional health. And above all, it’s about making it simple so that people don’t get bamboozled. Yeah. People go, yeah, you know, I can do that. I can actually do it. I’m going to give it a shot.
Darren: Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s so important because there is a conception that it is all too complicated and it’s not achievable for the average parent or the average father. And when you break it down, it absolutely is. And I think to come back to the point you made earlier in the interview about, you know, if you look at all of the diets out there, they all come back to standard principles. And when you start to eat a nutritionally well, I call it nutritionally balanced diet, the kind of whole dieting thing goes away because you you like you say you feel fuller for longer. You have more nutrients in your body. So you feel better so you can do more. So you move more. So your energy expenditure more. And it’s just so big it’s almost like a big snowball effect, isn’t it?
Dr Chatterjee: Yeah, absolutely. And the beautiful thing about the snowball effect is. Is that you can answer wherever you want. So why what I mean by that is. I talk about these four pillars of health, right, movement, sleep and relaxation, and I’ve always said that these are the four core pillars. Four pillars are actually not only these pillars, they have the most impacts on your health and well-being in the short term. In the long term, they’re also four pillars that you have a fair degree of control over. I think that’s very important because I could come and talk to you about air pollution, how problematic that is for our health. But actually, there’s not that much that we can individually do about that. So I always prefer to focus with my patients, but also my readers or podcast listeners with the things that they can do that they can own themselves. And I say those four pillars are equally important and they all feed each other. Now, you can answer that. We’ll review if you may be someone, but a lot of people say it starts with food, right? It might do for some people and for many people, myself included. Yes, it did start with food. Going to a healthy diet made me feel so much better. And it led to me moving more. It led to better sleep. Let’s set all kinds of what I call knock on effects. But I’ve got patients who didn’t start with food.
They started moving a little bit more and more each day, improved their self-esteem, their self worth, how they felt about themselves, which led to them cooking healthy meals in the evening and getting more sleep. Some people stress is the big issue. If they can reduce their stress, sleep better when they sleep better, they don’t crave as much sugar and they want to eat well. So I’m saying for people listening, why I don’t want any of this to put you off. I want you to know, what I’d love is every single person who listens to go, OK, what should these four pillars do? I need the most work because most of us know for me it’s stress, right? The truth is my diet and my movement is pretty good because I have not been working on it for years. I’ve made small changes that are now being built in and instilled. Why don’t you think about it as much? But I’m going to get more impacts from actually doing something around my stress each day that I am trying to improve my diet by five percent or so.
I think I can show one thing that I do that I think for dads listening would potentially be. So my last but last year was not about habit change and about all these five minute interventions. And I would share this story really connected with people. And it’s basically this idea, first of all, how do you make a habit? But how do you make a deal? How do you set a new behavior into a long term habit? That’s rules to follow that we don’t follow.
Ok, let’s break it down. OK, rule number one, it’s going to make it easy. Want to make it easy. You need to make it easy because. We over rely on motivation when we want to make a change. So at the start of January, as we’re recording this sky high. So some people are going to say, I’m going to go for a jog, but one hour, three, four times a week. And you know what? They do it the first two weeks of January. They will do its third week of January when real life gets in the way and the motivation starts to wane and it’s dark and it’s raining. So I don’t want to do it right. The thing is, we don’t plan for that. And we should add, Professor B.J. Fogg causes motivation, the way the science shows and motivation goes up and motivation comes down. Yeah, you can be damn sure that your motivation will go down. Yeah. So the scientific research would say plan for that. If you make it easy to do either when your motivation is low, you’re still going to do that behavior if it’s easy, whereas if it’s hard to do, you’ll only do it when motivation is high. Yes, that’s rule number one.
Now businesses know this, Amazon and Netflix know this person when it’s a One-Click ordering about five or six years ago, profits went up by three hundred million dollars a year. Why is that? Well, before you had to know, you had to go to the checkout, then to the basket, then the next team put your card details and then your expiry date. That’s four or five steps to take each step as a reason to back out and not make that purchase. Yes, they made one click ordering before you blink. Something’s arriving the next day. They make it easy. Yes, you do it. Yeah, they do that to get you to buy more products.
We don’t apply that when it comes to our health. We think I need a big January reset this year. I’m going to throw everything out of the cupboards. I’m going to get dumbbells. I’m going to go jogging four times a week. I’m going to stop using technology for one hour before bed if we get my sleep sorted. Yet we just saw ourselves up to fail safe. And the second step is you really want to think about where you’re going, where are you going to put that new behavior into your life? Yes. So often we don’t think about that. We think I’m going to work out, I think when or or when in the day is not going to go. And we know that every single behavior needs a trigger. Once I had this recording with you today, my trigger was a Google Calendar notification saying you have an interview to record with Darren Kirby. OK, that’s my trigger. Yeah, that’s a pretty good trigger. Another trigger is your memory. Yeah. Oh I remember. Three thirty. I want to talk to Darren. Well that does work. It’s just the most unreliable trigger that exists and that’s the trigger many of us use for behavior change. The very best trigger, Darren, is when we stick on the new behavior onto existing habits. Yes. That has been shown to be the most effective way of actually setting up and getting that behavior to stick in the long term.
And that’s what I’d say. Every morning I make coffee in the kitchen. Yeah. And I’m a bit, you know, I like my coffee. So I weigh out my coffee when I pull in the water into the French press … And I put a timer on the four to five minutes in those five minutes, I don’t go on my phone. I don’t go and email, I don’t go on Instagram. I do a workout in my kitchen, in my pajamas. Right. Sometimes it’s body weight. I’ve also got a dumbbell in my kitchen since I use a dumbbell. Yeah, I don’t have time for the gym. I’m a busy guy like many people. Listen to it. I’ve got two young kids. I want to try and spend time with my wife. You know, I have an elderly mother who lives nearby who needs looking after. I’m a busy guy, but I stay in pretty good shape. Yeah, I don’t go to the gym. I do a five minute workout every single morning and I don’t think I’ve missed a day in three years. Yeah, I’m not missing a day. It’s not because I’m more motivated, but anyone listening because I understand behavior change and I’ve set it up where it’s very hard for me to fail that dumbbell.
But I actually have to trip over that dumbbell to get to my coffee. Yeah. So I didn’t put it away in the cupboard. My wife and I used to have discussions about this, about why we could put it. And I said, listen, by the way, I’m unlikely to do so. I think it’s in our interests that for me to look after myself is that if it’s visually that triggering, that is a simple thing. Darren, every single person listening to this right now. Yeah. Oh, well, this is a habit I have every morning. Cup of tea or a cup of coffee. What can you stick onto that? Yes, you know what I mean. And I’ve used up so many patients, a lot of guys in their 40s I’ve used this with and it’s been completely transformed for them. And actually, if you want to go, you know, if you want to set workouts and feel great. That’s why I put together the three what I think are the very best whole body exercises that one can do. Yeah. Take minutes to do. Yeah. And it’s, you know what I mean. And I say I put my pajamas in my pajamas because if I have to get changed. Yes. I just go. I can’t be bothered today. I’m going to get home more emails.
Darren: Yeah. I absolutely love that. I think it is so, so important to set yourself up for success. And I completely agree with what you’re saying. You know, I put something in the way so that you actually can’t walk past it without doing it. And I think psychologically it’s been proven that men are the least resistant to kind of change and obstacles. And they don’t like it when they want something new. They want something gadgety and they want something quick. If somebody puts something in their way, that means that they have to do something like the Amazon scenario will have to do five clicks. They’re less likely to do it. If you put a physical object, then obviously you’ve got to step over it or pick it up to do something. So, yeah, I completely agree. And I think it’s and the other thing is, is kind of just doing that one thing might do that one thing, make it consistent so that it becomes unconscious.
Dr Chatterjee: I love that. And what I want to really hammer home that point as well. You know what? At this time of year, you go on your Instagram feed and you can see 20 different things that you should be doing and you can get motivated. I want to do that and would do this one, do that. So I hold on a minute, you know, and I think you’ll see that in the past I’ve tried to do too much because. Oh, that sounds great as well. Pick one thing. Maybe it’s not what I said about a body weight workout in the kitchen or keeping a dumbbell by the kettlebell in your kitchen. Why do I say kitchen? Because a kitchen is a place that we tend to pass through several times a day, particularly now when people are working from home. You know what? Here’s a little twist on that Darren. Keep a dumbbell in your kitchen. Right. And every time you go into the kitchen on a daily basis, let’s say it’s put the kettle on or grab something from that, from the fridge, one of the five bicep curls on each arm. Yep. Super. We say we’ll take you about fifteen seconds because what happens then? It’s like tooth brushing or tooth brushing was not a habit when we were three years old or four or five. Right. We need our parents to keep reminding us and stand over us and keep telling us we need to brush our teeth. Of course. We still do that now with all kids. Right. But at our age, it’s become a habit. It’s become a habit. We have cultivated it as a habit. We made it easy.
So it happens a set time in the morning and in the evening when you go into the bathroom. For most people, the toothbrush and the toothpaste are there. You don’t need to mess with a lot to get the brush out. We don’t go into that downstairs cupboard, so. Well, let me get some toothpaste. You’ve made it easy. That’s why it’s a habit. We can apply the same toothbrushing principles to every other aspect of your life. And all you do is do a two or three minute workout in your kitchen and your pajamas every morning for the next two weeks. I guarantee it will start to feel better about yourself. You’ll start to notice your physique changing a little bit. You’ll just feel stronger, a bit more powerful. And that itself will lead to you wanting to make more changes. So I always thought small, be consistent and just watch. You will start to make more changes, not because I’ve asked you to know you want to.
Darren: Yeah, and that is such an important point you made about having the dumbbell in the kitchen and having that awareness, that conscious awareness that when you go to make a cup of tea, do five bicep cows or kettlebell swings or whatever. And when you compound that over five days and say you have, for example, three cups of tea a day when you do this, that’s thirty calls a day. If you do five on each arm, compound that over a week, that adds up to a huge amount. And I think, you know, when you’re talking about your five minute workouts, that is incredible, isn’t it? When you really break it down and you think of it like that is absolutely incredible. When and this whole misnomer, I believe that’s been instilled to us by the gym industry and that is we must work out for an hour. No, you don’t need to work out for an hour and not at all.
Dr Chatterjee: Yeah, I agree. Listen, if someone is listening to this on. They love working out for an hour, that is that is all great, everyone. I don’t think Daryn nor myself are trying to say stop doing that. I think what we’re trying to say is certainly what I’m trying to say is that don’t let that be an obstacle. Five minutes is enough, but you can get a lot done in five minutes. Let’s say you listen, you don’t like working out an incredible workout. OK, here’s a simple one for you. Pick a whole body exercise. Let’s say a star jumps, right? Yep. So most people can do star jumps. So they’re physically able OK, do a WRGA, time it for 30 seconds and then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat that five times. You are just you just on a five minute interval workout. No equipment, no fuss. Got your heart rate moving, got a better insulin sensitivity, you know, works out your muscles in just five minutes. It doesn’t need to be hard. And when you make it hard actually that becomes an obstacle to actually doing it.
Darren: Yeah, it does. And I completely agree with that because particularly now, if you’re in your early 20s and you don’t have the responsibilities of a family and everything else, nine times out of ten in the days when we used to come home from work and everything else, there will be some kind of situation whether that’s, you know, a kids club that needs to be got to or whether that’s, say, a drama in the house or something else. And unfortunately, at that moment, the last thing you’re going to be doing is working out. So that all gets thrown out the window and that’s it. Work out. It’s gone for the day. Whereas if you take the approach that you’ve just outlined, it can still be done. You have five, 10 minutes later on in the evening.
Dr Chatterjee: Yeah. And the thing is wide and everyone’s got to set up their life in a way that works for them. I know if I went well, I don’t need a reminder to make coffee in the morning. I don’t need a calendar notification. I don’t need my PA planning the days saying and you must remember to make coffee. Yeah, that is an automatic behavior that I do. Therefore, it is the perfect time to stick on a new habit. And that’s what I’ve done. And I know if all I have done is those five minute workouts. Even if the day gets stressful enough, I don’t get time for lunch, I know what I’m worth asking myself five minutes myself, and it makes me a better dad. It makes me a human being. And here’s the other thing which I’m really passionate about. My kids often see me do this stuff like so they often join in. Yeah, right. And then if anything is known, obviously it’s it’s a dad’s podcast of one thing I’ve learned in 10 years of being a parent. But probably the biggest lesson
I’ve learned that kids don’t do what they do, what you tell them to do. They do what they see you doing. Yeah. What if I want my child to be active and surprise that health and well-being? Well, it’s a model of that behavior. If I watch that behavior, yes, I get the benefit. But they say we’ve got this little thing where in the evening, just before dinnertime, we’ll need a positive change in the kitchen to have a better boogie together. Yeah, well, we’ll do what we’ll do like woman squats. It’s just a thing we do. Before dinner, I sit by myself and then my son and my daughter, who’s now eight. She said, This reminds you of that? Oh yes. So we don’t see why squats, how we do our squats together. Yeah. And something happens. I feel different. But then you’re connecting with the people around you. You’re with your kids and you’re modeling, I think, really great principles and behaviors that we want to instill in our children.
Darren: Yeah, I love that. It is so important that you make such an important point. The fact that kids don’t do what you tell them to do, they do what you do. So you lead by example. You know, when I got into triathlon, I didn’t force my kids to do it. But both of them have done the little mini triathlons because they’ve seen dad doing it. I know all kids want to be like their parents. Right. And so if you want your kids to do certain things, if you just lead by example, naturally, they will just want to follow it because it’s almost like that kind of acceptance. They want to be accepted by the parents. And I don’t mean that in a pushy kind of, you know, adverse way. And it’s just kind of instilling healthy habits. And kids grow up not knowing what goes on in the world and not knowing how to act in manners and everything else. And if you show them how they believe it’s supposed to be, they would just naturally follow.
Dr Chatterjee: Yeah, no, I absolutely agree. I think it’s you know, I think it’s so important. And if someone listens to this Darren and they’re struggling with motivation and is struggling with self-esteem and it and it feels overwhelming sometimes a lot of people don’t feel motivated enough to do things for themselves. Yeah. It often comes down to self-worth on a core level. Maybe a good starting point is to go, well, maybe I’ll do this to my children to start with. Maybe I’ll do that. He does it in the morning. I was coffee. I’ll do it just before dinner when the kids are around. I’ll do it for my kids. That’s OK. Stop whatever motivation you need to get started because. Starting is the key when you start, you start to build momentum, get going, do something no matter how small, and the momentum will start to build and you’ll want to do more.
But don’t please don’t procrastinate. It goes well. And he said, I need to figure out what is the best five minute workout today. I’m going to get all the magazines. I’m going to read up for the next three weeks on what is the best five minute workout. So what is the best dumbbell? I should say because I’ve been there. Yeah, no. Maybe that Kerstein one’s a little bit better. That review says that, you know what? That’s all just about for most things that most people need. Of course, not at a high level, that they’re fine. Just get something and get cracking.
Darren: And I think it comes back to you’re one of four pillars and that’s movement. You know, take out this whole exercise thing, move. And I often say to people, walking is highly underestimated. You know, we assume that we have to go and smash our workout. You don’t walk ten to fifteen thousand steps a day. And that has so many benefits of physical, emotional energy perspective.
Dr Chatterjee: Yeah, I give a lot of corporate wellbeing thoughts to companies. And I often say I say you’re going to take my top tip for well-being. Now I’m. Second, what does that say, go for a 15 minute walk every lunchtime without your phone? Yeah. Is that it? Yeah, it’s the most low tech intervention there is. Yeah. It’s one of the most impactful things to do. I’ll tell you why. And it’s even more relevant now that we’re all stuck at home and we’re not getting out or commuting. Well, not everyone, but most of us. A walk at lunchtime, I did, you know, if you want to listen to something, anything great, but without looking at your phone and doing emails and Instagram whilst your walking is so impactful, what does it do? First of all, you get natural light exposure right up. One of the most underrated ways to sleep better at night is to expose yourself to natural light in the day, even on a cloudy day outside, you get probably, you know, about 20 times more light exposure than you do in a brightly lit indoor environment.
And you need that to help set your circadian rhythm. That’s the first and second reason we all know it is good for our physical health. We get blood pumping around. The body is good for your mental health. It helps improve your mood and your wellbeing before it helps you be more creative and more productive when you get back. Why it’s so if you’re working hard and you can’t solve the problem in trying to solve for a 15 minute walk, come back as a part of your brain called the default mode network. That only kicks into gear when you stop focusing on something. And that part of the brain does many things, but it also helps you solve problems and be more creative.
So that 15 minute walk each lunchtime has so many knock on benefits. And again, the people listening. If you’re unsure where to start, ask yourself would that be me? Could I make a commitment to myself the next two weeks, every lunchtime before I have my lunch, let’s say, or just before I get back to my office desk? Can I get for a 15 minute walk around the block? Yeah, and, you know, maybe get an accountability partner, maybe tell one of your friends, hey, we do this. Let’s let’s what’s up? Each other reached out to it and motivated each other. Let’s go do it every day for the next two weeks. And then in two weeks you can assess how you feel. Yeah, we will know the benefits yourself. You won’t need me to tell you that you will feel those benefits.
Darren: Yeah, definitely. And I would definitely advocate actually going out without listening to anything. And I recently started to do this. And the gratitude that you have and you feel for the ability to walk outside, to be in fresh air, to be in nature, to appreciate nature. And some people listening to this might think that sounds a little bit rude, but just consider for a minute that there are large parts of the world where you cannot do that in war torn places, in all places like that, you know, lock down everything else. And to actually be grateful for the fact that you can walk, you can breathe fresh air, you can be nature has a profound impact on your mindset and your happiness within. And I think that’s really, really important.
Dr Chatterjee: Yeah. I think it’s such a lovely point to make, Darren. And. You know, we can say we will, but the truth is that gratitude has got a lot of science behind it as well. You know, yes, the Buddhists have been talking about being grateful for about six years. But like with many of these ancient practices, we’re now getting modern science backing up what humans have intuitively known for a long period of time. You know, a simple daily practice of gratitude helps us with our physical health, our emotional health. It helps us feel better even two or three months later. Some studies have shown it’s pretty incredible. What it could do can help you sleep, just that feeling of shifting your attention from your negative to the positive. So it is something I love. I think that’s a really, really great set for people just to be appreciative that you can walk in relative safety. And, you know, if you are lucky enough to do that, like I can and you can Darren Kirby. Yeah, that’s a wonderful thing to be grateful for.
Darren: Absolutely. Absolutely. So before we finish up today, the question that I was going to ask you at the beginning, but I think it’s right to ask you now, and that is as we move forward, obviously, into 2021. And obviously we still have this huge threat to our health. Is my belief that our diet and our food is a fundamental element to dealing with this pandemic. But one of the things that I believe that’s been lost, particularly for children in the education system, and that is the education around food and nutrition. And obviously, like we’ve just been talking about with leading by example, if we as parents and adults can lead our children and educate them as to what nutrition is, that will help. But what kind of role do you think or what do you think needs to happen in the education system to enable that for our children?
Dr Chatterjee: Yeah, I mean, this is a topic I’m very passionate about and actually broke a section on this in the book, including some sample letters that people might want to use, okay. To send to their headmasters or head teachers. This is potentially a slightly controversial topic. But I do believe it’s I, I think there’s no place anymore for junk food or unhealthy food of any sorts to be served on school grounds. I don’t see why I take that approach at the moment. In the UK, one in five children start primary school overweight or obese by the time of secondary school. That is one in three kids, OK, by the time of secondary school, stargaze third of children in this country are overweight or obese. How can we possibly think any more? It’s OK to serve crisps, chocolates, and fizzy drinks in school premises. My belief is that the school grounds well, school persay should be the model educationally. Yes, behaviorally, yes. But also nutritionally. Yes. Why should that not be the base standard that we accept? This is not about being a nanny state. This is not about telling people what they can and can’t eat. Children outside school, their parents, they can decide for themselves with full autonomy what they want to put inside their mouth. I’m simply saying, once you enter the school gates, we should just make it universal that we don’t serve junk.
And that, I think, would benefit the kids because actually the kids will not only have better physical health, they concentrate more. We know your concentration is linked to what you’re eating. Yeah, it would be more engaging. Every teacher would want more engaged students. But also and I would face this if you’re trying your best to raise healthy children, do understand what good food is. A lot of your efforts can be absolutely sabotaged by the school to the point where actually if your child wants to make healthy choices, they’ll actually end up. Almost being a social outcast, that they won’t engage in the chocolate fizzy drink culture in some schools, not all schools. I guess that, you know, I’ve been looking around secondary schools recently because my son well before when I could go when we were allowed to hear the amount of money by a vending machine selling. Yeah. Yes. And I suppose one of the headmasters about that, I think, you know, it’s important to give children choice, but I understand that the headmaster, I believe. Was genuinely believing that it’s important to give children choice. I always see the best in people. What I think there’s a big misunderstanding there about what choice really is, most research scientists will now tell you that most food choices are subconscious.
There is an illusion of choice. What if there’s crisps and chocolate bars and fizzy drinks? That is an illusion of choice. I mentioned hormones before. I mentioned dopamine. The environment will determine a lot of our behavior. We know there’s some studies which show that if a school doesn’t allow snacking or eating in corridors and in classrooms, the BMI goes down by 11 percent. Yeah, that’s not changing anyone’s individual behavior. It’s the same as a rule. There was a set place to eat. We can’t just eat wherever you want. And so this is quite a long winded answer. But what do I think happened? I think kids need to be taught how to cook at school. I think it’s a fundamental life skill that is as important as math or English. Yeah, I think we should be teaching nutrition at schools. What I think most importantly. Children get their sense of what is right and normal about the world from what they see at school and that schools have a very important role to say, no, we’re only going to serve healthy, nutritious food here. Yeah, and I find it incredible that in twenty twenty one, me saying something that is considered to be controversial, I find it truly baffling.
Darren: Yeah. Yeah, I agree. And I think a lot of people will take it from the standpoint of trying to demonize obesity. And that’s not what you’re saying. You know, you’re trying to say that in order for children to grow and thrive in the way that we’d like them to, we have to fill them with the right food, nutrients or whatever. And I’ll come back to the car analogy again. You wouldn’t put Diesel into a Formula One car and expect it to win a race. And therefore, why do we allow highly processed fat, sugary foods to be ingested by our children and then expect them to concentrate in class?
Dr Chatterjee: I’m definitely not. If anyone does read the new book, feel great about losing weight and is a compassionate approach to weight loss. It is absolutely the opposite of fat shaming. It is about being tied to ourselves without understanding what those root causes are and helping people understand their behaviors better. Yeah, it’s not about that. It’s about, you know, the environment is one of the biggest determinants of health. You know, the truth is it was only in the 1980s that obesity rates started going up. We didn’t suddenly become the first generation of humans ever to be lazy and gluttonous. Our environment changed the world around us, changed. We took our if we if you go back at a time machine to get our great grandparents and bring them to 2021 Sixty five percent of them would also end up being overweight or obese, like in the population, we are products of our environments. We can’t change that all the environments but two environments. I’m passionate that we should be changing the hospital environment and the school environment.
Darren: Yeah, I can completely agree. I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s and and I think we are in a fairly unique time in history where we have platforms. Ordinary people like me have a platform now to kind of share this information, to help people understand if they so choose. So it’s been an amazing interview. Thank you so much for giving me your time today. I really, really appreciate it. But before we wrap up, what five things do you think we could give to the listeners today to take away that they could implement into their lives?
Dr Chatterjee: I mean, I’ve got to say, maybe let’s think of five cents, OK, so eat more real food. Maybe some of you can’t, which is try your best, maybe have a two week trial of that and see how you feel to keep accessible or a dumbbell in your kitchen every time you pass through it, do five bicep curls on each arm or some kettlebell swings. And if you want to keep a record in your kitchen, yes, it really, really works. If you look at how much change really, really works, my kids, me and my wife, we’ve all got all right. And we take off every day. It’s how we help to motivate each other with all the behaviors that will be tip number two, September three. I think this is very important for guys who often can be not so good at staying in touch with their friends. Yeah, and it’s a big problem because male mental health problems are going through the roof. They were pre pandemic. And just from what I’ve seen, I shudder to think what the stats are now in terms of mental health.
And for guys, I would say make seeing your friends sorry, make talking or connecting with your friends a priority. Quite often we’re eating away snacking on sweets or biscuits or not because we’re hungry, because we’re lonely. It’s a lot with men. And I know this with myself. You know my wife. It made a lot of friends at the school and see moms regularly. And I was busy working and all my friends from YouTube live miles away. And I really have a close group of friends.
But I’ve realized during this pandemic that a quick call to one of my mates is five, 10 minutes. And so I don’t want to snack anymore. It was just a hole in my stomach. It was all that needed. Filling up with tip number three, number four for dads. You know, I think this is a really important step. It’s something I try to prioritize undistracted time with your kids. What quality is more important than quantity? And my experience and I think there’s some research to back this up. So even 15 minutes when you’re on the phone in another room, so you’re not kind of hanging out with your cat, but also checking your email. I’m not criticizing. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. The 15 minutes of undistracted time with your kids will be so valuable for you and for your children. And my final tip would be to prioritize sleep. It literally raises up everything else in your life. In all my books, there’s a lot of simple tips on how you could do that. I will say that ninety nine percent of people who struggle with that sleep, are doing something in their lifestyle that they don’t realize is impacting their sleep yet. They’re all sleep disorders that need treatment like obstructive sleep apnea. But for the vast majority of people, it’s a lifestyle issue. And there are some tips in this podcast. No natural daylight in the day. Yeah, right. Keep your caffeine to the morning and really try to have a switch off in the evening for an hour or two before bed. I think so. Seven important things.
Darren: Amazing. There are very great tips there. And I for one, you’ve made me realize that most I spend time with my kids. I don’t spend dedicated time with them. So I for one, am going to implement that into my life. So yeah. Thank you very much. It’s been amazing. Like I said, really appreciate your time coming on today. So how can people connect with you? Where can we go and get the book and all that good stuff?
Dr Chatterjee: A new book Feel great to lose weight pretty much available everywhere on all the online retailers and all the supermarkets if people are interested. Look, I’m pretty active on social media, so. Facebook and Instagram @drchatterjee which is D.R.C.H.A.T.T.E.R.J.E.E, Twitter. You can always ask me some questions. Probably the best place is my weekly podcast called Feel Better, Live More. Very Lucky. It’s the most listened to health podcast in the whole of Europe now. And it’s one of the favorite things that I do each week. Every Wednesday we release long form conversations about anything health, relationships, mindsets. Literally. The episode released on New Year’s Day is going viral. It’s about this lady, this ninety three year old lady who was in Auschwitz. Right. And she’s ninety three now talking about her experience and talking about what she’s learned. And I’ll tell you, if you think something is tough in your life at the moment and you’re struggling. Have a listen to that episode that she helps us put everything in perspective on the wall, the forgiveness, the empathy, the compassion with which she speaks. It is really quite something, and I just want to leave you with this from it, but she says, I’ve been to Auschwitz but what I can tell you, the biggest prison. Is the prison we create in our own minds? Wow, it’s so, so powerful. So, yes, they’re the places that would me, but also my weekly podcast.
Darren: Yeah. It is fantastic. And I really love that you’re doing the bite sized versions as well now because I love your long form and I really love the short bite sized ones as well because they really help.
Dr Chatterjee: And actually the other thing which people might be interested in if they go to my website, I’ve just recorded a five part video series of three video series on sleep. I should know the url but you can research drchartterjee.com as a pop up, but not starting to pop in your email address. And there’s five free videos on sleep that if you’re struggling, they may help you. So, yeah, there’s some places if anyone’s interested.
Darren: Yeah, absolutely. Check it does come up with a pop on your website. I was there earlier on today and all the books are listed on there as well. So guys go and check it out. Yeah. Thank you so much for coming on again. I really appreciate your time and I look forward to speaking to you again in the future.
Dr Chatterjee: Yeah, me too. Take care mate. See you later.
Darren: Thanks for listening to the Fitter Healthier Dad Podcast. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please hit subscribe. And I would really appreciate it if you could leave a review on iTunes. All the things mentioned in the episode will be in the show notes and a full transcription is over at fitterhealthierdad.com