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If you’re anything like me, you’re passionate about well-being, and that includes prioritizing movement, connection, and spending time in nature. I know these activities change my life and my experience – but what’s fascinating is the science behind it. I sat down with Dr. John Ratey to discuss how human evolution shapes our needs and modern life might be affecting these natural tendencies.

Johm is a psychiatrist and author who has written several books on topics like ADHD, exercise and the brain, including Driven to Distraction, Spark, Go Wild, and ADHD 2.0. Much of his work directly relates to issues I have faced, like exercising during and after pregnancy.

Evolution and Well-Being

It was so exciting to sit down with Dr. John Ratey and Travis Macy to explore the vital role that exercise, connection, and spending time in nature play in our overall wellness. We delve into the benefits of exercise for brain health, ADHD, pregnancy, and education, shedding light on just how transformative movement can be for our bodies and minds.

We also discuss practical strategies for implementing exercise programs in workplaces and schools, recognizing the immense impact they can have on productivity and well-being. And let’s not forget the power of shared experiences in building relationships, whether it’s through activities like CrossFit or simply embracing our individual strengths and neurodiversity.

Connecting with Others for Well-Being

How can moving our bodies and connecting with others optimize brain health across our lifespan? Dr. Ratey emphasizes how important social connection and bonding with others is for well-being. He says that being more social is about five times more important than taking medication as prescribed by your doctor as you age.

He discusses how exercise promotes the release of oxytocin, the “love hormone” that makes us more altruistic and interested in connecting with people. Ratey also talks about loneliness being a major issue today, and stresses that nothing beats real human bonding, caring for others, and having people who care about you.

Moving for Longevity

In a world where our lifestyles often pull us away from our evolutionary roots, this episode serves as a powerful reminder of the profound impact movement, nature, and social connection have on our well-being. Dr. John Ratey’s insights, coupled with Travis Macy’s and my own experiences, offer actionable strategies for enhancing brain health, nurturing relationships, and fostering resilience. As we navigate the complexities of modern life, let us embrace the wisdom of our ancestors and prioritize movement, connection, and time in nature to thrive both mentally and physically.

Whether you’re an athlete striving for optimal performance or simply seeking to live a healthier life, this episode offers practical strategies to transform your habits and enhance your overall well-being.

Here are a few key takeaways:

  • The science behind why exercise and social interaction are vital for brain health, cognitive function, and well-being
  • Why spending time in nature has profound positive impacts on our hormones, physiology, and mental state
  • How implementing exercise programs in schools and workplaces can significantly improve learning
  • The power of embracing neurodiversity and finding activities that utilize our unique strengths

Listen to John Ratey’s episode

If you found today’s episode enlightening and want to hear more, make sure to subscribe and leave a review on your favorite podcast platform. Be sure to share this episode!

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Episode Chapters

  • Human evolution, movement, and modern life with Dr. Ratey. (0:00)
  • Exercise, connection, and wellness. (1:39)
  • Exercise addiction, BDNF, and brain health. (7:28)
  • Hormonal changes and exercise impact on brain health. (14:36)
  • Exercise, ADHD, and brain function. (19:41)
  • Exercise and education in schools. (26:05)
  • Implementing exercise programs in workplaces. (31:54)
  • Nutrition and exercise for endurance athletes. (35:57)
  • The benefits of nature, hunting, and connectivity. (42:37)
  • The power of shared experiences in building relationships. (50:53)
  • ADHD, neurodiversity, and endurance athletics. (52:24)

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Transcript: Dr. John Ratey

Travis Macy 0:00
Dr. Ratey, welcome to the podcast. So excited to be here with you and with us. Well, Sonya, I was so excited for this today, I got on this recording platform an hour early, I was so excited. And then I realized that we weren’t starting yet. And I had a couple other client calls to make. So I’m just, I’m pumped to be here. And Dr. AD, I got to tell you on a personal note, just thanks for your work, especially around ADHD, you know, about 10 years ago, my son was, was two or three and I was kind of coming to terms that, that he probably has ADHD and that, in fact, I do as well, which I think is a fairly common experience to learn more about it that way. And that’s when I was initially introduced to Driven to Distraction, which was your first book on the topic, you know, now getting to be a fairly old book, but you’ve written three more in the series, including the newest ADHD 2.0, which is then just a great update and super helpful and then your other books is especially start spark and, and go wild. They’ve all they’ve all really helped me I’m just super excited to talk about movement, evolution, the brain, all this stuff, and maybe my first question, you know, getting into these things is, you know, humans evolved and we were born to do a lot of these things to move to seek novelty to eat lots of different things to live communally. What are the other things Dr. ad that you think we were born to do? And and what are the some ways that we’re that we’re doing or not doing those things in modern life?

Dr. John Ratey 1:39
I think we, we were born to live in nature, live upside, much more than we are, you know, and that’s the one thing that you know, people we’re focusing on now, thankfully, these days is you got to get outside, you got to get that son, you know, to get you and it’s one of the reasons why we come to Hawaii because it’s hot outside. And that’s great. You know, it’s an I know, you, you You both are outside people, outdoorsman, and which is great. But I think that’s one thing. And then the big. The big news, I think is how important connection is when in our books. We always talk about connection I noticed

Travis Macy 2:27
in in the book spark Dr. Reiter, you call that connection, you call it vitamin C. And you talk about the importance of not only exercising but exercising with with someone else. humans, dogs, donkeys.

Dr. John Ratey 2:46
Yeah, ya know, the it is so important. I mean, there’s so much that we get from it. So much that makes us makes us Weller in every way, physically and mentally. You know that studies are now coming out looking at the science of it, looking at the facts of how important it is. And factually, it’s really, really important. It’s about five times more important that you you’re more social than it is for you to take your medicine as your doctor prescribed as you’re aging. You know, because it’s, it’s pretty, it’s pretty impressive how important it is to be with others and to connect with others. And that’s one of the things that we talk about in all of our add books, but also all the books I’ve written. And looking at wellness. There’s not nothing that beats the human, the human moment. And you mentioned the dogs, if you have a dog, it’s like that, I call it a dog is like oxytocin on four legs. Then oxytocin is the love hormone and the bonding hormone. And there’s nothing better than an animal that spread for guard companionship. The to be with to love and be loved by. So yeah, I mean, there’s so much we know nowadays. Doing things in the world has an effect on our bodies in our and especially in our brains. And that’s, I think that was the big news about Spark. You know, because it really was something that people sort of knew they thought they knew. They thought they understood it. They we had the word endorphins thrown around from the that’s from the late 70s. And when the Boston Marathon people began to take their blood, see what was different and their endorphin levels were higher and this is why we thought you could read Senator Ivana level. And, you know, you can run through the pain. But there’s a lot more that goes on than just the endorphins and the endogenous morphine for the endorphins are, but we have all kinds of stuff that happens when we, when we move and we exercise including we change up our chemistry very acutely and chronically. If you’re chronic exercisers, you’re changing all the machinery in your brain, all those 100 billion nerve cells are really growing and getting stronger and tougher and more resilient. And this is this is the way to look at all the cells in the body, but certainly for the brain.

Sonya Looney 5:52
I think that with relationships, I think somewhere it said that, like taking medication and exercising and quitting smoking, all takes grit, but socializing is easier to sustain. But something that I want to make a point out for high performance athletes is that a lot of times people will train by themselves because they need to execute a workout. Or maybe there’s weirdness around competition. So for high performance, endurance athletes, or maybe people who are just super busy in their lives, they don’t prioritize relationships, whenever it is the most important thing that they’re supposed to be doing. So I think for some people, it actually does require grit in order to have relationships and to make sure that those are our priority. Oh,

Dr. John Ratey 6:36
yeah. No, it no matter what, even if you’re not a high performance athlete, you know, it’s it’s an, you know, the biggest the biggest change in our, our community, or social environment these days is loneliness, you know, there. And just yesterday, read something that finally the US is talking about developing a minister of loneliness, which they have in the UK and Canada, in various countries, and certainly Japan and the Asian countries have been very aware of this. That is not just for the elderly. But that certainly you see it there. But for everyone to really take part in bonding and being with others. Yeah.

Travis Macy 7:28
I hadn’t heard that. Thanks for Thanks for sharing that. To build on what you said, Dr. Rainey about, you know, someone is exercising consistently or, or you might say chronically, they’re creating these these changes, these ongoing changes. Sometimes in in reading or in conversation, you hear about a potential negative side of this, you hear about, you know, a term like exercise addiction or exercise dependence. It my read in your book spark was was that, in your opinion, it seems that these aren’t really things that that we should worry about too much, or that we should see as you know, sort of as negatives of it. And I’m personally very curious about that. Because, you know, I mean, I, I know that I am a different person, when I don’t exercise and it doesn’t feel good. And I often, I wonder, like, people say they hate exercising, and I’m like, Man, if I do not exercise, I just, I don’t like life, I feel like a different person. And I’m surprised every day I go out and I today I jogged around with my dogs. And I came back and I just felt like a totally different person. So anyway, I’m kind of going on and on, but like, why why should we not worry about you know, sort of this, this addiction aspect that that is discussed? Well,

Dr. John Ratey 8:50
look, I think the reason why poo pooed it in, um, all of my books, is because people use it as an excuse, not to exercise, you know, I mean, anything did not exercise is what is what, I want to stick a needle in, you know, and, and say no, that’s not, it is not something to worry about. Yes, for a lot of people it is where you can get to that point. And yeah, you’re in withdrawal when you’re not exercising because you’re doing it chronically. But you do that with everything, you know, and not just exercise, you know, it’s, it’s like, whatever you’re used to doing, you change that, that changes your body and your brain a bit exercises. It’s very, you know, you see that the you see your difference. You see that you’re withdrawing like you’re drunk withdrawing from a drug, because you, you know, you’re dependent on upping all those wonderful hormones, neurotransmitters, changes in oxygen flow. that flow through your body and your brain, you don’t have that you’re going to be a different being. And if you’re used to that every day, and that gets you started and keeps you going, then when you miss it, you’re gonna feel it. And so will your family and friends and your dogs.

Travis Macy 10:20
Dogs do for sure.

Sonya Looney 10:23
Yeah, I wanted to actually ask you, Dr. Reddy, because, you know, you’ve had some illnesses. I have two toddlers, so I’m always sick. How do you manage knowing when to exercise when you’re sick versus taking time completely off? Because this is something that I’m really struggling with right now.

Dr. John Ratey 10:37
Okay, so I’m in day six of COVID. And I have that same question. So I start the morning getting by, purposely here in Hawaii, we will have a mile away from Starbucks. But I’m there at five o’clock in the morning, getting my coffee for them to my walk back and forth, right. And so, but that’s just starts the day for me here, usually. But now, you know, a couple of days that I was just really lounging in bed throughout the day, and now I’m ready to go. But I’m still positive on my tests this morning. So so the question is, what should I do like the same with you, you know, as you’re the tail end of an illness? What should you do? Well, be smart, do it, do do as much as you feel you can. And you’re not going to overextend. And you know, but you know, what you do and when you exercise, you Jimmy up your immune system, the positive side of the immune system to help deal with whatever is bothering you, you know, whether it’s it’s a virus or you know, bacteria, but there’s, there’s really no great answer to that question. You really have to depend on your own, you know, your own total assessment of yourself.

Sonya Looney 12:11
So let’s get dorky here, let’s let’s hear about BDNF.

Dr. John Ratey 12:16
Okay. BDNF brain derived neurotrophic factor, boy, that for a long time, for many years, that was my favorite hormone, or neuro hormone, because it it still is big, because it’s so powerful. You know, it is the, it is Miracle Gro for the brain. And it really helps our brain cells with 100 billion of them, helps them to grow and stay very much on the growth side, because if they’re not, we’re not growing, we’re dying, we’re eroding. And so that’s where cells are. And so the brain especially is keen on that. So when we exercise, we release a lot of this BDNF in from our nerve cells, from the nerve cells itself, so that it’s like we’re, you know, evolution has given us this, this, this big plus, to when we’re using our brain cells, then we’re going to be able to continue to use it, use them and actually make them stronger, and grow. And so, you know, when you exercise, you’re helping yourselves grow and get stronger, get tougher, get more resilient, resilient, to stress, resilient to overuse, you know, you don’t overuse it means. That’s why the big thing when I was researching spark, that was really emphasized by a lot of the scientists that was just sort of emerging back there in the in the early 2000s. Is it the brain, you can think of the brain as a muscle? So you know, the way you guys both athletes, you train your muscles, and it’s not that you you can overdo it, but it most of the times you don’t you sort of stop when you reach reach. You know, you take it to the max, but the brain is the same way it doesn’t wear out. It gets better, gets better, gets bigger. And that’s an that’s a big part of what BDNF is. Now, one thing that I don’t know whether I did emphasis, emphasis did emphasize that in my book, but the drug companies when they’re looking for a new antidepressant, what are they measuring? These days that there’d be no more serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, they’re measuring BDNF. One medicines increase BDNF. And so because it’s not, it’s an all purpose. Neuro hormone that helps maintain our mood, helps us deal with stress helps us deal with anxiety. So it’s an antidepressant, anti anxiety agent. And as well as the growth hormone to jail part cells grow, which means to help us be able to think and remember, and be smarter. Yeah,

Travis Macy 15:46
I like that. Thanks for sharing. Building on the on the hormone conversation, there’s a great section in Spark where you’re talking about hormonal changes over time across the lifespan and brain health, both for women and for men. In a nutshell, what should we what should we what should we know about that? What’s, you know, what’s not in the common knowledge about hormonal shifts over time?

Dr. John Ratey 16:16
Well, one of the big ones is, is the drop in growth hormone. You know, I mean, the, for a while there, everybody in Hollywood and actors and athletes were taking growth hormone, you know, I don’t know whether they still are, but probably, but growth hormone is something that sort of stops, stops, elevator stops getting more and more in your system, as you hit about age 3033, something like that, it sort of comes down to a small level. And one of the reasons why we age is because we don’t have this growth hormone. And we’re not growing. And this growth hormone is general for all kinds of all of ourselves. However, when you exercise, you boosts the growth hormone, especially when you go like you guys, do, you know, you guys are crazy athletes, you know, and when you do, you’re walking up the scale ski left, like you do ski slope, like he told me the other day you were doing, I said, Jesus, then you’re maxing out like that, you get a heck of a lot of changes in your brain, including a lot of growth hormone coming out, because you’re, it’s like, your body’s responding say, well, we need this to grow, we need to grow bigger, we need to grow more better. And so that’s, that’s, you know, evolution created a pretty damn good machine, you know, that responsive to the environment, responsive to our needs. So but that’s, that’s one of the big changes in the section on women and spark was all about hormonal changes as well. And how exercise helps to regulate that the fluctuations in hormones that women have, and I think it’s, you know, it’s now coming out more and more studies showing that women should continue to exercise when they’re pregnant. And certainly right after they deliver. And, you know, to keep themselves to keep their moods stable and to get their own hormones from do much fluctuation and leading to depression, anxiety, and all the rest.

Sonya Looney 18:49
Yeah, I want to comment on that really quickly, because I mountain bikes until the day, the day before I delivered both of my children and I was back on my bike seven to 10 days after delivery. Certainly, this isn’t the case for everybody. But there’s always a lot of concern around Well, is it safe to exercise while you’re pregnant? When should you get back? Maybe you should wait three months. There’s a great book just for people listening called exercising through your pregnancy by John Klaff. And Catherine cram. So if you’re looking for information there, I just wanted to give that as a quick nod. And one more quick nod for the women is Stacey Sims is a leader in this field of hormones and women and training. So she has a book that just came out about menopause and perimenopause called next level and also roar for pre menopausal women, including all of these different conditions.

Dr. John Ratey 19:37
That’s great. So this this is all recent. Because you and I one of the chapters that I we had to cut a lot out of was the women’s chapter because it was too big. Because I was so excited because it was just beginning to we’re beginning to have this this news. A lot of it was oh, I think it might be good for you are they He could might, you know, I mean, there wasn’t the science and now we’re getting to the to the science so yeah, that mean you know that there was one there was really only one real investigator that looking at pregnant moms and exercise it he was at Case Western Reserve very you know, my my world a very famous OBGYN guy and, you know, following these moms and what their babies were like and the babies were they armed because mom exercise right up until there they like you did right you know, right on the bike. No. What about their babies? Well, their babies were longer, longer in which is something you know, and and, and they weren’t under you know, under fed by the in the womb. But but they were you know, and he followed a bunch of them into their high school years. Moms who exercise a lot and they were smarter they they were quicker to pick up information and had better memories and all that and higher when would say higher IQs but you know that was it’s still probably all speculation because you can’t idea control for that my god you know, it’s there’s so many so many things, but at least it it I find it very pleasing to use his information and make you know, rages can conclusions from from it, but because it at least it pointed in that direction. Yeah,

Travis Macy 21:57
good stuff. Sandy. I’m glad you brought up on Stacey Sims. She’s one of my favorite interviews that I’ve done and she’s she talks about lifting heavy shed and all kinds of other stuff. But we’ll get that LinkedIn in the show notes. Doctor Radio. I’m curious about your own journey with exercise. I learned that as a kid you initially took up tennis I think you thought about football. As I understand your brother was the backup high school quarterback to Joe NamUs. And you know,

Dr. John Ratey 22:28
that right now he was my brother. We were in the same league Beaver and Beaver Falls. Okay, let’s be reformed because of Joe Namath. He was at Beaver and my brother was a year ahead. My brother was first first team all county and Joe Namath second team all county

Travis Macy 22:45
when Joe is a headed nameless All right.

Dr. John Ratey 22:50
Junior Senior Joe Namath is a junior then my brother was a senior. So But anyway, I came from that tradition, you know, to Vanja everybody I played football up until my junior year you know, I was on the team. I was not very not very good I was skinny kid and you know not as not as fast as I should have been to be tight and or something. So anyway, I stopped then but I played all the sports but focused on tennis. And and later in medical school and residency, I took up squash because it was a much quicker way to get a very good work now not because I was saying all those be a good workout, but it was a good way to enjoy an hour. Very quick. Yes.

Travis Macy 23:54
Interesting. And how for you How did that tie into your own experience with ADHD? And I am probably for you as a young person. I mean, I don’t even know was that was the term ADHD? Was it in existence or was it just, you know,

Dr. John Ratey 24:10
bad gifts? That gets elected bread the bread, scolding them all hooligans, you know, they’re add kids were hooligans and what back now, not not now, but in the old days, you know, in the 80s 70s 60s. But then, we didn’t have ADD within. We didn’t think of it as anything other than you know, we knew it was something to do with the brain, but we weren’t sure. We weren’t sure about how to describe it and how to deal with it and what was the cause of it? But we do know one thing like you, you just identified yourself as having ADHD. And and you you were the paradigm that we wrote Driven to Distraction on top of that, kids would come in and be diagnosed with ADHD and look at the parents. And Whoa, yeah, they, they fit the profile. And you obviously have managed to do very well by exercising a lot. And we see this with all these many of our pro athletes or add, if they stopped, you know, if they stopped, but when they’re doing three to four hours of training a day, you know, they’re there, their brains are really fixed and focused.

Sonya Looney 25:38
I think this is a good segue just into the effects on the hippocampus and how physical activity really helps with learning and memory and how if people are having difficulty prioritizing their exercise, whatever that looks like, if you’re an athlete, or if you’re just someone that likes to, you know, move your body. This is not just for physical health. This is for learning and memory and how you perform cognitively at work and your life. Can you talk more about that? Dr. Reddy?

Dr. John Ratey 26:05
Sure. That’s the that’s the first chapter in Spark, you know, the school in Naperville. That, you know, really is a paragon of what a school system might look like, where you have 3% of the kids being overweight, only 3% 33%. And then probably 38 39%. Now in the United States, and only not not many at all of being obese, because they have an active program every day where they focus on getting kids fit, also that they score among the highest in the world in terms of their test scores. Now, it’s an upper middle class community with lots of emphasis on learning. But yet the other comparative places aren’t doing as well, or aren’t doing nearly as well as, as the kids from Naperville. They exercise for 45 minutes a day, they eventually or Harvard monitors and got their grades by spending a certain amount of time in their cardiac training zone per week, which is one way to make it equal now, going forward, people are trying to use this method in some schools, the athletes have a hard time getting into the cardiac training zone, because they’re well trained. So it’s it’s really something so they really have to get exhausted, or they can’t get there. And they get to be in gym class, which is

Travis Macy 28:04
based on heart rate training.

Dr. John Ratey 28:05
Yeah. All right. So anyway, yeah, I

Travis Macy 28:09
that was one of my favorite parts of the book spark talking about, like you said that Naperville case. And then also, I think it was a different school where someone working, especially with kids who had what would traditionally be described as behavior challenges, you know, bringing in treadmills and other apparatus into the classroom and just how much that improves things. You know, it’s super, super inspiring, and something that, you know, really like that should be part of all classes, right, especially as we as we see more emphasis on test scores, and all that slits, like, you know, gym classes is often the first thing that gets cut. I mean, man, if if I was in charge of school, I’d say more recess and more gym for everyone.

Dr. John Ratey 28:51
And then they show that that that improves test scores, I mean, sort of natural history kind of experiment, is the country of Finland. Now Vinland, two characteristics about it that are important one there, it’s more homogenous. So though there are plenty of immigrants these days, too to that they really valued teachers, they pay them well, you have to be really, you have to prove that you’re going to be a good teacher, education wise and all that. But they have the focus on the kids. And in in elementary and junior high school. Every class is an hour long, 45 minutes of learning, and 15 minutes of play or exercise. And so why am I talking about Finland? Well, when you look at all the comparative tests from country to country, Finland is always in the top five. And why No, I mean, why, you know, how did that happen? Well, I think it happens because the kids are prepared to learn, compete with the the Asians a lot. And I spent a lot of time in Asia. And they love spark. I mean, it’s just Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Korea, I’m still working very much with the Koreans and the Japanese. Why? Because it’s science. And you know, I tell people, they believe in science, you know, I mean, here in this country, you guys know, that it’s a question of belief. What do you believe this? I believe that and that’s what we’re gonna do, you know, it’s over. That’s what science is? Well, it’s not my science, or people would say or, you know. And, and, but but not not in Asia? No way. So. So I’ve spent an awful lot of time there. Because people really want to know, and they want to they’ve, they’ve incorporated it very much into their schools schooling. Every time. Two times I’ve been to Korea recently met with the Minister of Education. I mean, it’s that kind of importance, you know, to talk about exercise. Initially, it was about raising test scores. And this past year when I was there, we were talking about bullying, and using exercise as a way to decrease bullying. Because it it does do that it decreases the impulsivity induces cohesiveness, and connection and can really help with the bullying trend. And apparently, that was a big deal. And in Korea,

Sonya Looney 31:54
taking all this and scaling it outside of kids is, I think that this is kind of a radical claim. But I think that workplaces should pay for the first hour of the day to be exercise, whatever that looks like. So Dr. Reddy, you lectured for our class in the MAT program last semester, and I wrote a paper, but the proposal saying that the first hour of the workday for this one business, the employees should get to go, they could go outside for a walk, they could go to the gym, they could do whatever, but they get paid for that hour. And because of that hour, they’re going to be more efficient and more creative, and better, better employees, and they’re going to be sick less so that it’s a worthwhile investment to pay for that first hour of the work day. So that the employees can be better. And it was actually implemented, and it’s actually working. So how do we like how do we create law large scale of this because we have the science, we have this information, we have this work you’re doing. America certainly needs people to be moving their bodies more and one excuse people have is I don’t have time because I have to work or I have all these things?

Dr. John Ratey 33:05
Well, yeah, no, it’s a matter of the priorities. And, and, and making the time and creating the time. You know, I think I think the world has changed since then much from COVID, you know, since COVID. So that things are really looser and more flexible, and perhaps less efficient. But that could be the time should be the time that we then make a change to say, okay, implement your kind of program, you know, the first hour of the day to be exercising. How do you do it? Well, you have to get you have to get the Congress you have to get the president you have to get people in great seats of power to bless it. And to not just bless it, but continue it. You know, Michelle about it, let’s move. Right when spark came out, she they came into the White House. And I thought this was going to be great because everyone in his kitchen cabinet, were exercisers every, every person. They did, you know just would you sit in our you know, get paid for it. I mean, they swam, they ran they played racquet, sports, whatever, they were all into it, you know, some some competitively but you know, his various people that he had advising him and running departments, but he but they never really got behind it to to you know, with Michelle, let’s move. I was there with everybody coming in and having programs and obesity one ad was one, it was a big one. And there was all these different programs and everybody was looking for money. Because you had to sustain the program. And you had to sustain the there. You know, the the whole nonprofit, that we’re doing things and so and there were too many of them. There was no unified group. It was not unified. Asia is unified. They say, we’re gonna do this, they do it. You know, and if schools change, here we have that the change comes quick. Yeah, that we’re here we have 50,000 school boards. So you know what? That, you know that what that means? You guys?

Travis Macy 35:57
Yeah. Well, Sonya, I like the program. If I ever hire a real employee here at Macy consulting, that program will be mandated. And I’m already carrying it out myself. And I would tell you, it’s definitely helping me. Dr. Reddy, speaking of obesity, metabolic syndrome, etc. You say at one point in the book go wild, if you’re gonna take one thing away from this book, it’s don’t drink sugar water. And in other words, you know that we think of course, soda, you even go so far as to say juice, et cetera. Just period, don’t don’t drink it. Don’t Don’t let your kids drink. And man, I try to keep that stuff away from my kids. But why? My question here is, is a little bit more specific to to athletes, you know, there was a trend five to 10 years ago, in endurance sports about high fat, low carb fueling, and some people found that worked very well, maybe especially in longer, slower events, like ultra marathon. Other people, and in even my own personal experience, I went pretty far into that. And for me, it wasn’t a good fit. And I think I was just, I was under fueling, you know, you hear of red s, right? relative energy deficiency syndrome, and just kind of, you know, this idea that, like, someone’s working really hard. And again, we’re talking probably at a level of training, that’s not sort of the general population, you know, this is people who are focused on a lot of training, probably performance, you know, people have had pretty bad experiences with it, we’ve now seen at least kind of in, in the high end performance, area of endurance athletics has shifted to like, hyper carbohydrate fueling, so you have, you know, at the professional level, people taking in over 100 grams of carbohydrate per hour, which, which is a lot, you know, we’re talking 400, even 500 Plus calories per hour of carbohydrates, you know, basically with the idea that the engines running so high, you give it a ton of fuel, and you’re just burning through all this and, you know, performing and running, skiing, whatever, really fast for a long period of time. What do you think about this Dr. AD, like, you know, is, is there a risk to taking in this much sugar, sugar water people or, you know, it’s often taken in through, you know, these high performance sports drinks? Is it okay to take it in when you’re training really hard? But then maybe not at other times? Do you have any thoughts on this? I mean, I know, it’s kind of a specific sort of question here.

Dr. John Ratey 38:39
It is very specific, but I yeah, I would, I would think, why not? You know, if you’re, if you’re burning it up, the hope the whole point of what we say in the book is for the general population, it’s not, not for it’s not for this specifics. But you know, because just in general, all the soda and soda water and Gatorade, even for a while was all about, you know, I carbohydrates, too, but yeah, and people didn’t know that, you know, and now that now it’s become known. And so people are moderating that whole thing. And, but, but yes, if you’re, if you’re running the engine is, you know, supermax, then you know, you gotta be you gotta feed it and if you got to use carbs, and you use carbs, now, you know, what you like the long distance slower, ultra marathon people, they, they want to be using their, whatever fat stores they have. So they like to get ketotic or their, their body’s fat to fuel. And so they make a point of, of really reducing their carbohydrates, but again, you’re talking about less than point 5% of people, you know that. And we were talking about the 99. Yeah.

Travis Macy 40:11
Yeah, yeah. Thanks. No, that’s, that’s, that’s helpful. I, I appreciate that. I will because I listened to that the other day, I was driving up to do my ski mountaineering training. And I hear that, you know, no sugar water, and I’m looking over and I got these two, like, you know, bottles of soft flax of sugar water that I’m gonna go drink while I’m out there trade and

Dr. John Ratey 40:32
No, but you’re burning it, and you need that fuel to get it. So it’s so individualized, the way we the way we eat the work we need, you know, and all that. So, but there are general rules.

Sonya Looney 40:51
So I want to change gears and talk about Biophilia. After the lecture, I heard there’s two teams. I wanted to make one that said I love BDNF and the other one that just said bio philia. So can you tell us you’re

Dr. John Ratey 41:04
ready? Yep, Biophilia. Oh my God, that’s, that’s what we started talking about being in. Being in the wilderness, being in the wild being in nature, where they were born in nature were natural, you know, animals, living in nature, that’s where we evolved from, that’s where we are most comfortable. In and should be. And that it is, nature has so many benefits for us. We don’t even you know, can’t even when when you go out for a walk in the woods, it’s so much different than walking on your treadmill. So much different. And, and because you commune with, with your, your natural surroundings, and it changes your hormones. You know, they Asians of men, Japanese particular, something they call coats, forest bathing, Shimron, Roku, meaning they go into nature and bathe themselves in nature. Because most of them living in Tokyo, rat race world and best basin, never, never a moment to stop and they go out into nature. And what happens is their blood pressure drops, their sugar level drops, their cortisol level drops, all the things that you want to get to in when you’re looking to be well. And so the there’s just a lot of good information and people people are tuned to it now, which is interesting, as many now almost, I don’t know, about seven, eight years ago, I went to a thing in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where people were talking about wellness and offering this program and that program. And there was somebody was training guides for sure. And Roku, you know, nights in Cambridge to have people take people out into nature, and enjoy the benefits of being out. And commuting because there’s, you know, we have data, we have numbers, we measure stuff and and yes, there’s big benefits to doing going into the book

Travis Macy 43:44
go wild. You know, building off as being in nature being in a natural state, you and your co author are quite encouraging on eating meat in that book. I think it says something like eating meat is a fundamental fact of the human condition. And you go so for so far as to say that hunting it turns out, there’s actually this empathetic component because to be successful in hunting, you know, the hunter has to think like an animal. And in this this resonated I shared on the podcast that hunting deer and elk is one of my interests and and one way that I like to get meat if I can. It really resonated with me what that tells us more about that. Well, why did you guys talk about that in the book, the hunting the meeting, etc.

Dr. John Ratey 44:34
Well, big A big reason for that, too was the hole. That phobia that we sort of grew up in many. Back in the 80s and 90s. We were taught to be phobic about fat that that was really bad for us. And then meat in general was bad for us. And yet we we evolved as meat eaters have, you know and and it’s so it’s part of our evolutionary past. So it’s, you know, and today we have so much of everything in terms of foodstuff, you know, everything. So we don’t need to pile into Burger King, you know, every day and, you know, gorge ourselves on meat. You know, you go, you’re talking about elk hunting, my writing partner for the book, Deke Deke Manning he grew up in Alpena, Michigan, and worked part time as a meat cutter. So he was when he moved to Montana, he was a prime partner, for everybody going shooting elk, because he could he could he could take apart the elk. Yeah. You don’t have to worry about our neck, they’re gonna get it out of the

Travis Macy 46:00
the hard work right there.

Dr. John Ratey 46:04
So you know, but it was interesting. So, yeah, yeah. But But yeah, we grew up that way. And we need it. You know, it’s full of all the nutrients you could want, but especially these animals that you’re talking about the deer and the elk that aren’t, you know, force fed, and all the other stuff that we do with so much of our meat sources these days.

Travis Macy 46:33
So no, I enjoyed that part of the conversation you talked about, you know, Angela, to arranging or even more, so Sam, and they go out into the ocean go all over the world and their bodies by accumulate all these minerals and stuff from everywhere. And then when you you know, when you eat that a lot of that’s going into your body.

Dr. John Ratey 46:49
Right, right. And that’s the danger of eating farmed salmon, salmon too often, you know, we know about that. But yeah, when you think about the salmon traveling halfway around the world, you know, and in their journey, and they’re picking up all kinds of different bugs and things that they’re eating on the way and you know, it provides some of the best sources of nutrients for ourselves. Now, one of the things that I wish, you know, people always ask me, Well, what would I add to the book, that would be a chapter on connectivity being connected. And oxytocin. Oxytocin is the love hormone, the bonding hormone. And when we exercise, we get a dose of that we get an uptick in our oxytocin levels. So it makes us more altruistic. It makes us more interested in connecting to people. And it makes others more interested in connecting to us. You know, it, we send out vibes that were connectable and so when you that’s why you see, in all a lot of sports now, you guys are individual sports people. But if you were, you know, a cyclist or a runner, or you know, swimmer, you would be on a team, you would have you know, look a look at CrossFit that explosive new relatively new entry into the exercise world. It goes communal

Travis Macy 48:46
people love it, because you’re in it together.

Dr. John Ratey 48:48
Absolutely. Their bet they get friends they never had. And they and they’re true to their time to their Well, anyway, to their their rod,

Travis Macy 49:03
right, the workout of the day. Yeah, everyone in that’s cool. Everyone’s doing the same thing. Hopefully, you know, maybe they’re adapting it to their own ability level or whatever. But yeah, it’s not my thing. But like, a number of my coaching clients do it and I get it, you know, I can see how that energy like you said that vibe. It’s powerful.

Dr. John Ratey 49:23
Yeah, so it really, it’s, it’s so needed today because just we were talking about the loneliness factor. If people are so lonely out there, you know, with our little devices or phones and everything and have the option of being automatically connected to everybody everywhere. You know, but a lot of times people aren’t connected at all, you know, they’re, they’re being fed digitally, everything, you know, but yeah, so no real bonding, no real people worrying about you, you worry about others and caring for others. You know, that’s a number one thing that we could do for each other. And what’s important is, is just that my grandson’s eighth birthday was on Friday, and I wrote him a card and saying, Okay, you’re eight now. Your big job is to learn how to be a very good friend. That’s, that’s what you need to be a good friend. And you will have good friends. And that is some of the most important thing I didn’t go into paragraphs. But that’s what I love it.

Sonya Looney 50:52
I think one of the things that is sticky and wonderful about something like CrossFit, or team sports, or even mountain bike stage racing, this is the example I’m going to use in a mountain bike stage race you our pros and amateurs race together, they’re not in the same category, but you’re with the same people every day for about six days. And you’re usually you’re you know, you’re you’re going through the motions, you’re eating dinner together, you’re going to race or meetings together. And whenever you go to an event like that, the things outside of that don’t matter. So like what you do for work, or like your history, like all those things just don’t matter. And it sounds like the same thing is for CrossFit, you are there meeting somebody because you have similar values and similar interests, so that you can connect in a way that is different than you will connect if you’re just out on the street. And number two, you are, you are undertaking the same challenge together, the speed might be different, the reps might be different, you are both going through something or you’re all going through a shared experience together that builds relationships and bonds that I don’t think can be built in the same way outside of that context. So I think that that is one of the main reasons that CrossFit is so so powerful, and team events and, and things like mountain bike stage racing.

Dr. John Ratey 52:07
Well, you know, back, whenever one maybe it’s certainly not the way it used to be. But I mean, the cycling people there the what was it the indoor cycling?

Travis Macy 52:24
Like track cycling? No, no,

Dr. John Ratey 52:26
no, no, no, just just anyway. So talking about oh, spin

Travis Macy 52:30
bikes, like, spin class. Yeah.

Dr. John Ratey 52:35
But 15 years ago, or so 20 years ago, maybe when he was really hot. It was really odd. But it was very interesting. They did not new people, they had their spin group and that was it. Not Want to have two people, I’m telling you, it was really amazing. To see that happen, because they were so bonded with one another, you know, and they had come up together, or whatever. And after they got to a certain number, they did not want to expand, they did not want anybody new. And I thought oh, this is pretty weird, you know, but then the understanding that they were so into each other and then they went out for meals they got together you know they shared experiences. And then that’s what you see in CrossFit too.

Travis Macy 53:29
Yeah, spin bike tribe. Nice. Yeah, no.

Dr. John Ratey 53:32
Running truck. Come on running tried bike. Yeah. Oh,

Travis Macy 53:35
yeah. No, there’s a treasure treasure. Great. i You guys are both like one of my previous guests. Megan Hartman set the record for the Guinness World Record longest spin class. They they did 24 hours plus. And there were these guidelines. Like you could only you could stop for like two minutes every hour, you know, so people could use the bathroom. But anyway, that was That was wild. My final question Dr. rady, as we wrap up here is just that back to the ADHD stuff. You know, if someone’s listening to this, let’s say they’re navigating this journey, and maybe it’s themselves maybe it’s their kids. They’re just maybe they’ve known about it for a long time. And they’re an expert of themselves. Maybe they’re just getting into it. They’re learning about neurodiversity. They’re learning about your co author Hollowell thinking a poem he says no brain is the same and I just love that because it speaks to you know the individual experience like we are we’re all unique. You talk about that this variable attention stimulus trick kind of a new angle on you know, this ADHD discussion stuff you know real quick like what what should people know how should you you know, how can you encourage them on their own their own journey of like, you know, the great highs, the superpowers you know, the wonders, but maybe also some of the challenges.

Dr. John Ratey 54:55
Oh, the challenges are great. So the, you know, the reason why we were We’re looking for new, you know, new new name for the disorder big for ADHD if the disorder, right, it’s a disorder and and so we were trying to normalize it and say, look, it’s a trade, it’s just their differences, and everybody has a different amount of their attention. And it’s very, very. And, you know, in fact, we say that ADHD people might have too much attention rather than too little. It’s just that they can’t stay focused with it. Until they give something exciting, and then they’re boom, you can’t run away from that. It’s one of the reasons why you probably were a successful endurance athlete, because you got into it, and you weren’t gonna let go for anything. Because it just said, you kept you kept you at it. And, you know, you get hyper focus, and you get good at it. And you feel great. Because you’re, you know, you’re learning how to do it, you’re getting better at it. You’re feeling good. Oh, your hormones are sky high. And so you have your own sort of Nirvana experience. And it’s not just about endorphins. It’s part of the story. You’ve

Travis Macy 56:27
spent some time in my head doctor at

Dr. John Ratey 56:32
it’s an every every person story who gets into, you know, I mean, that’s, that’s really what it is. Michael Jordan wouldn’t have been Michael Jordan if he really didn’t like basketball, or didn’t like moving. I mean, he loved he craved it. You know, I mean, you know, you, yeah, he was gifted, but my God, he was also, you know, someone that just never stopped, never stopped.

Travis Macy 57:02
I really enjoyed this. Thanks. Thank you both for spending the time together. Any doctor? Is there a place that people should should should find you and your work on

Dr. John Ratey 57:10
the web anywhere? Um, I mean, I have a website that I haven’t done much of within the past eight years or so. But

Travis Macy 57:19
it’s still there works and went to it. I think it’s great.

Dr. John Ratey 57:24
I have some good stuff on it.

Travis Macy 57:25
So on your final thoughts?

Sonya Looney 57:26
Yeah. It’s just really fun to get to chat with you. And I think this conversation was wide ranging with a lot of things for everybody. So thanks so much for coming on. And I highly encourage everybody to check out your books and your work because it’s really cool stuff.

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