Sleep – is it a good sign or a bad sign if someone falls asleep as soon as the head hits the pillow?
Hey Robb and Nicki, love the podcast! I’m so thankful for a level headed, no BS approach to health that includes consideration of bioindividuality (although I find the news topic and Robb’s rants are my favorite part).
Question for you. There is so much information around sleep and health, but I’m struggling to find any root cause/real health information about people who fall asleep with amazing ease.
More specifically, my husband. Every night for as long as I have known him (almost 10 years), he falls asleep within 2 to 3 minutes of laying down, head hitting the pillow. We can be in the middle of a conversation, and he’s OUT. His labs look pretty darn good, with the exception of cortisol and cortisone (we ran a DUTCH on him in May 2021, and need to run another). He’s out of balance, as most people are! But he’s 49 years old, 5’10”, 195 lbs. Fasting glucose has historically been right around 80, he eats a mostly meat-based diet, although he is quicker to grab a sourdough bagel or some plantain chips than I am. He hits the gym for weight lifting 3-4x a week, does cardio for 20 minutes on elliptical probably most of those gym visits. Has a day job that keeps him on his feet all day, but is not labor intensive (he’s a chiropractor). He DOES enjoy screen time at night. Used to fall asleep to movies, but that habit died when our daughter (now just over 2) was born. But he still gets screen exposure right up until bedtime, usually from his phone. He sleeps mostly well, usually with 8 hours of sleep. He’s usually not exhausted at the end of the day, so why is it he can fall asleep so darn quickly? I’m honestly jealous since I don’t sleep nearly as much and I’m a light sleeper anyway, but I can’t help but wonder if this is actually a good thing, or a symptom of something deeper that’s been out of balance for a long time. Thanks so much for your thoughts!
REM sleep and toddler protein
Hi Robb and Nicki!
Thankful for y’all’s insight and perspective- I’ve so enjoyed your podcast and thoughtful nuanced approach to a variety of topics.
I’ve got 2 questions for y’all:
As a historically “bad” or “light” sleeper I’ve made a lot of changes over the last several years and using my Oura ring has been a big help in the process. One thing I can’t seem to hack is my REM sleep- I’m almost never getting more than an hour for a whole night. My deep sleep tends average or above average. I’ve read all the things and feel like there’s no clear answers to improve REM sleep other than the basics— ie consistent bed time, meditation and prayer, cold room, exercise during the day, no alcohol, etc. It’s safe to say I’m pretty consistent in these places, I eat well, supplement with LMNT and sauna most evenings. My stress levels are fairly low as I work prn as a physician assistant and get to stay home with my two young boys. I’m just not sure what else I can be doing to improve REM- and part of the reasons I’m still trying to “hack” sleep is I do often wake up tired, feel like my brain/memory isn’t always up to snuff, and occasionally struggle with the “wired and tired” sensation. Context: I’m 31, 5’1” and 110ish lbs. Diet is Whole Foods but we do eat a good amount of protein and red meat. No alcohol. No rx drugs except occasionally an abortive for migraines (which I’ve had since I was 3 but have been steadily improving as I continue to work on personal health)
Any insights one improving specially REM sleep would be much appreciated!
Second question- my 2 boys are ages 2 and 4 and while I feel like their diets are fairly diverse and adequate in nutrition I worry because most of the meat they eat is “processed”. We can’t seem to get past some texture issues with meat. They’ll eat hot dogs, meatballs, bacon, sausage, lunch meat, etc for days! But when it comes to a steak or chicken thighs, no matter how I cook it, marinate it, prepare it the best I can usually get is a few bites out of each! Any thoughts or things I should be concerned about?
Thanks again for all you do!
Remote Work and Relocating
Hi Rob and Nikki,
I have tried Paleo in the past, but new bloodwork has me figuring out how to implement changes to my family’s diet. Thank you for all the work that you put into teaching us and connecting the dots with autoimmunity issues. We have two girls (11 and 9). My question is more of a broad one about the pillar of community. Four years ago, my husband took an opportunity at work, and we relocated from the Eastcoast to the Southeast. While everyone is moving here, we are considering relocating back to family/friends because he works fully remote. There are a lot of websites that compare two cities in categories such as the number of sunny days, schools, cost of living, and average commute. I wanted to know what types of thought process you and Nikki would take when looking at relocating? What are your thoughts on remote and isolated workers? Recommendations on finding community on this side of the pandemic and/or in middle age? Any tips for handling the stress of moving or homesickness? https://www.bestplaces.net/
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This is the only show with the bold aim to help 1 million people liberate themselves from the sick care system. You’re listening to the Healthy Rebellion Radio.
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Warning, when Robb gets passionate, he’s been known to use the occasional expletive. If foul language is not your thing, if it gets your bridges in a bunch… Well, there’s always Disney Plus.
Nicki: Hello, everybody. Welcome back. This is episode 148 of the Healthy Rebellion Radio. It’s sunny here in Western Montana and-
Robb: I’ve put away the piano wire.
Nicki: We are happy to see the sun. Very happy.
Robb: Indeed, we are.
Nicki: What else is new, hubs?
Robb: I don’t know, man. This is a lot of pressure. When you spend every blessed moment with all of your wonderful family, it’s sometimes hard to figure out what’s new.
Nicki: This is true. Well-
Robb: The weather is shifting, so that’s good.
Nicki: The weather is shifting. We got a lot of community time this weekend. We had dinner with some wonderful folks on Saturday evening, they invited us to their home. We met them at the Bison Ranch, kind of the Wheel of Pain… What was that called?
Robb: Yeah, it was the Wheel of Pain for the Bison Roast, yeah.
Nicki: Wheel of Pain event. We mentioned that back in October, I believe, when that took place.
Anyway, we met a wonderful couple there who had recently moved to the area from New Jersey, originally from Russia. And just amazing folks. We got treated to Russian shish kabobs. Just wonderful, wonderful food and great conversations.
Robb: And some great stories from people that know what’s up.
Nicki: Yeah, actually. That was really interesting as well. We’ve had both in real life conversations, and then also we have a person in the Healthy Rebellion who is from Bahrain, and shared what it was like growing up there.
And even today, you still don’t talk about all things-
Nicki: Openly. You have to be very selective about who you share anything political with, because these countries were… And basically this harkens back to what we spoke about in the last episode with the RESTRICT Act.
People who have lived through these types of authoritarian governments, they’ve lived it and they’re terrified that it could come here. And clearly, a lot of people are pushing back against this RESTRICT Act, so hopefully it does not pass, at least in its current shape.
Robb: Yes. And it’s interesting… Not to drive this episode off a cliff, but a big deal in the United States, a topic of discussion, is immigration. And what’s interesting to me around that… Somewhere else I’ll share my thoughts on immigration.
But I think that the most vibrant, effective people that are in the United States are oftentimes new to the United States. Came here, left everything and built a life from scratch. And I have some friends out of the Cuban community from Cambodia. Now we have friends from the former Soviet Union.
And the stories are heartbreaking and also inspiring. And they are as if the same person is telling the story, merely set in different circumstances. In which, a government and a process begins to pit the people against one another, and it creates arbitrary lines for one to hate each other, like the Star Bellied Sneetches story.
Nicki: Dr. Seuss, yeah.
Robb: It’s where Theodore Geisel was so goddamn prescient.
But, it’s interesting. And I do think that it’s fascinating that the people who… Somebody who we should listen to, perhaps more than almost anyone else as an American, are these new Americans. The fresh, off-the-boat, just got here… And, “Why did they come here? What’s their perspective?”
Nicki: Who have lived in these types of regimes, I guess would be the word, and understand what that means for people. Like the ability to trust, not just your fellow person, but as a parent, being able to trust your child because of the way that the schools did-
Robb: The indoctrination.
Nicki: The indoctrination, brainwashing and whatnot. It was a very, very interesting conversation.
Robb: Yeah. Yeah.
Nicki: Anyway, we definitely got some great community over the weekend, so thankful for that. Thankful for the sun today. I think that’s it for our-
Robb: And more community coming up with the Old Salt Festival.
Nicki: Yes, yes. I wanted to share, there’s another… I know last week, we shared a couple of upcoming events. This is another one that we wanted to put on folks’ radar in case anybody’s hankering to come to Montana in June.
So, this is the Old Salt Festival. It’s going to be held at the Mannix Ranch in the Blackfoot Valley near Helmville, on June 23rd through 25th. It’s a Montana celebration of ranching, wild landscapes, while also highlighting the importance of rebuilding a more regionalized infrastructure for processing livestock and providing nourishing animal-based foods to our community.
So, I will put a link to this in the show notes. Diana Rogers will be speaking at this. So she will be there, along with Nicolette Hahn Niman and a couple other folks. It sounds like there’s going to be a lot of live music, 14 different bands. A 40-foot cook fire and grand meals centered around local beef, lamb and pork, prepared by some amazing chefs.
So if you want more information on that, please check out the show notes to this episode and you’ll see all of those details, as well as a link to get tickets.
Robb: We would be going, but we have family coming to town that week, so we will not be able to do this one.
Nicki: Yes, unfortunately, unfortunately. I think that’s all of the events for now. What have we got for a news topic?
Robb: Can you open that tab right next to the one we have open at the end?
Nicki: I sure can.
Robb: Yeah. So this is from the Journal of Climate and Atmospheric Sciences titled, Comparable Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Animals in Wildlife and Livestock Dominated Savannas. So, it’s a really great paper. Well, it’s great in that it supports my bias. So, there you go.
And Diana and I talked a lot about this in Sacred Cow, but we used other materials besides this paper. This paper is quite expansive. It’s a short communication here, but it’s a long-running, and will be continuing analysis, trying to look at a comparison of basically a pastoralist environment with cattle and the greenhouse gas emission story around that. Versus, a wild environment with really a similar amount of biomass in the form of zebras, and eland, and giraffe, and whatnot.
And what we find is that the greenhouse gas emissions are very comparable. Actually, the natural environment has somewhat larger greenhouse gas emissions than the curated pastoral process.
So what’s interesting… And I posted on social media about this. Is that folks have so much carbon tunnel vision on this story. They’re so focused on this greenhouse gas emissions part of the climate change story. It’s this tyranny of metrics. Like, “This is something that we can measure.”
Although, when you look at this paper, most of what the paper is, is explaining how incomplete their analysis is. It’s such a complex topic and we’re never going to know the full accounting of the story. Which also is part of the problem around climate change writ large.
Because we continually, day after day, discover, “Oh my God, this is a massive vector for methane. This is a massive vector for carbon dioxide.” And we keep layering these things on. And we’ve so terrorized ourselves into thinking that we need to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from all sources at all costs, that we start making dumb decisions. Like the Green Party in Sweden suggesting that they should eradicate reindeer there. Fortunately, this was shot down. In the hopes of doing their part to mitigate climate change.
And so, one, this paints a picture that the natural world is not qualitatively different than what the curated pastoralist ranching world is, with regards to greenhouse gases.
And then we have to remind people that this is a biogenic process. When we’re talking about this particular scenario, we have atmospheric carbon dioxide, which becomes part of a plant, which is consumed by an animal that may get released via cellulosic fermentation in the form of methane, through a burp or a fart. Apparently more of a burp than a fart, because of the technology we talked about a couple of weeks ago.
Or, it may get integrated into the protein or adipose tissue of the animal, and then that gets released as carbon when that animal either dies or is consumed by something else. But then it’s back in the atmosphere and it is part of a carbon cycle.
And this is part of the reason why this insanity around focusing on greenhouse gas emissions and being completely blind to all the other stuff going on. The ecology stabilization that properly managed animals provide to grasslands, the microclimate influence, where it actually creates more rainfall, it sequesters more rain. You get a diversified microbiome in the soil, and on, and on, and on.
There was a really cheesy piece that popped up… And I went ahead and shared it on social. But it was a vegan woman being interviewed by Pierce Morgan, who I just can’t stand. I don’t know if I can’t stand him or his jowls more. But she said, “We shouldn’t eat animals, because farming and fishing are the primary driver of climate change.”
And this just patently falls. It’s just bullshit. I don’t know, “The vaccines are safe and effective.” It’s like, “Well, maybe there’s a chance of that.”
With this statement about farming and fishing being the primary vector of climate change, if you’re assuming that to be greenhouse gas emissions. They account for, at most, 5%. And I’m not saying there’s not problems with either one of them. That’s an entirely different story. We are overfishing certain areas, and we probably need different technologies and thoughts about how we manage that, and all kinds of different stuff.
But if we’re just talking about climate change, this person goes on to a show, makes this claim. And for most people, and under most circumstances, that is accepted as statement of fact, and it’s simply not.
And again, my point has been all along with this, that if we’re operating with poor information, then we’re going to make really terrible decisions in what we decide to do. There’s all kinds of resources that could be put into things that will actually help the environmental situation, provide food, provide economic infrastructure, and actually move the needle favorably.
Nicki: Excellent. Okay. We are moving on. The Healthy Rebellion Radio is sponsored by our Salty AF electrolyte company LMNT.
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Nicki: Really cool. Really, really cool. Folks, you know where to go to get your electrolytes. You can find them at DrinkLMNT.com/Robb. That’s DrinkLMNT.com/Robb.
And as Kendall mentioned, the subscription box. You buy three boxes and get the fourth box free.
Again, that URL is DrinkLMNT.com/Robb.
We’ve got three questions for you today, two on sleep, and then a final one that we’ll do there at the end.
So this first one is from Tiffany. She says, “Hi, Robb and Nicki. I love the podcast. I’m so thankful for a level-headed no BS approach to health that includes consideration of bioindividuality. Although, I do find the news topic and Robb’s rants are my favorite part.”
“A question for you. There’s so much information around sleep and health, but I’m struggling to find any root cause or real information about people who fall asleep with amazing ease. More specifically, my husband. Every night, for as long as I have known him, almost 10 years, he falls asleep within two to three minutes of laying down, head hitting the pillow. We can be in the middle of a conversation and he’s out.”
“His labs look pretty darn good with the exception of cortisol and cortisone. We ran a DUTCH on him in May of 2021 and need to run another.”
“He’s out of balance, as most people are. But he’s 49 years old, 5 foot 10 inches, 195 pounds. Fasting glucose has historically been right around 80. He eats a mostly meat-based diet, although he’s quicker to grab a sourdough bagel or some plantain chips than I am.”
“He hits the gym for weight lifting three to four times a week, does cardio for 20 minutes on the elliptical probably most of those gym visits. He has a day job that keeps him on his feet all day but is not labor-intensive. He’s a chiropractor.”
“He does enjoy screen time at night. He used to fall asleep to movies, but that habit died when our daughter, now just over two, was born. But he still gets screen exposure right up until bedtime, usually from his phone. He sleeps well mostly, usually eight hours of sleep. He’s not exhausted at the end of the day.”
“So why is it that he can fall asleep so darn quickly? I’m honestly jealous, since I don’t sleep nearly as much and I’m a light sleeper anyway. But I can’t help but wonder if this is actually a good thing or a symptom of something deeper that’s been out of balance for a long time. Thanks for your thoughts.”
She’s just wanting him to have something wrong. It’s the jealousy poking through.
Robb: Tiffany, I think that there’s a profound case of ass chap going on here.
I pinged Doc Parsley this question, hoping he would get back to me before we rolled. And unfortunately, he has not yet. I tried to go to a higher power, because I really was stumped on this. I can’t think of anything else.
What would be interesting, if he was doing an Oura Ring, or an HRV, like the Morpheus training platform or something like that. You get a little bit more insight into the allostatic load and how much stress the person is under. The Oura Ring actually tracks sleep. I think we might have an Oura Ring question later.
But I was back and forth about the Oura Ring, because none of these things are perfect. I would lay in bed and read, and the Oura Ring would penalize me because it thought that I had sleep latency. It thought it took me too long to fall asleep. And so I would take it off and then put it back on just as I was actually getting ready to go to sleep.
And I’m like, “Fuck this, this is just silly. I’m having you do all these chucks and jives to get this thing to work.” But, it does provide some insight, REM sleep, other sleep phases and whatnot.
When we look at this stuff, if you are looking, feeling and performing well, and you generally are rested, and you generally feel good, I think that’s great. And I think your husband is probably one of these people that… Clearly you guys probably have a great relationship, because there’s not some intermarital stress that’s freaking him out.
And either he has a good, well-curated life, or he is really, really good at compartmentalization. Because he’s clearly not taking a bunch of work, or rumination home with him, that’s keeping him awake and all that type of stuff.
Nicki: That’s a really good point, because I know a lot of people, their head hits the pillow and then they review their day, and they’re thinking through all of the things, and they can’t just shut off.
And so, maybe he is really good at compartmentalization. However you say that.
Nicki: It’s certainly better. Falling asleep immediately when your head hits the pillow is certainly better than the alternative.
Robb: Because I remember years gone by, where I literally could hear the gears in Nicki’s head just…
Nicki: Running a gym was very stressful for me. I would lay down and then think about all the things, and…
Robb: Where you’re reviewing the previous day and you’re halfway scared of the next day. Yeah, it was a lot.
Nicki: That line of work was not in alignment with my natural disposition, so it did provide a lot of stress.
Robb: You were very good at it, but it was just not… Yeah. Yeah, I agree.
Nicki: So maybe he loves his job, he’s good at it, he’s got systems in place that make it run smoothly. I mean, maybe that’s a part of it, like he can just shut off at the end of the day.
Robb: Yeah. I can’t think of anything mechanistically that’s amiss here.
It could be that this will change as he gets older. Sometimes that sleep latency thing becomes a problem later on. Sometimes people have an easy time falling asleep, a more difficult time staying asleep. It doesn’t sound like that’s particularly a big issue either.
But if Kirk Parsley pings me back and is like, “Oh my God, this guy’s going to die in a week.” Then I’ll contact you directly. But I can’t think of anything that is amiss here. I think that this probably speaks to some of his bio-individuality. And also, to some degree, the guy probably has…
You clearly are a wonderful person, and he probably has a wonderful life, and that makes it easier to go to bed.
Nicki: There you go. Okay, let’s-
Robb: Which is also why I sleep so well. Such a wonderful life.
Nicki: And why I didn’t sleep so well for so long, running a gym.
Robb: Because you live with an asshole.
Nicki: Ah, I sleep just fine now. Okay.
Robb: Are you sleeping with a difference person?
Nicki: All right, our next question is also sleep related. This one’s from Kathleen on REM sleep. And then also a second part on toddler protein.
“Hi, Robb and Nicki. Thankful for y’all’s insight and perspective. I’ve so enjoyed your podcast and thoughtful nuanced approach to a variety of topics. I’ve got two questions for y’all.”
“As a historically bad or light sleeper, I’ve made a lot of changes over the last several years, and using my Oura Ring has been a big help in the process. One thing I can’t seem to hack is my REM sleep. I’m almost never getting more than an hour for the whole night. My deep sleep tends on average or above average.”
“I read all the things and I feel like there’s no clear answers to improve REM sleep other than the basics, i.e. Consistent bedtime, meditation and prayer, cold room, exercise during the day, no alcohol, et cetera.”
“It’s safe to say I’m pretty consistent in these places. I eat well, supplement with LMNT and sauna most evenings. My stress levels are fairly low, as I work as a physician assistant and get to stay home with my two young boys.”
“I’m not sure what else I can be doing to improve REM. And part of the reasons I’m still trying to hack sleep is, I do often wake up tired. I feel like my brain/memory isn’t always up to snuff, and occasionally struggle with the wired and tired sensation.”
“For context, I’m 31 years old, 5 foot 1 inch, and 110-ish pounds. My diet is mostly whole foods, but we do eat a good amount of protein and red meat. No alcohol, no prescription drugs, except occasionally an Abortive for migraines, which I’ve had since I was three, but have been subtly improving as I continue to work on personal health.”
“Any insights on improving specifically REM sleep would be much appreciated.”
So, let’s answer that one first before we dig into the other one.
Robb: Yeah. I mean, it sounds like she’s done a pretty thorough investigation into the things that can influence sleep.
I will say, the evening sauna can be really challenging, because it raises your body temperature. And I personally find it very difficult, anything past about 4:00 PM, if I do a legit sauna session, I have a hard time sleeping that night. Part of the process for you going to sleep is a decrease in body temperature, and I’m just especially sensitive to that. That’s why jujitsu was always problematic when I did night training and whatnot.
I will say that both Nicki and I have been wearing… I’m kind of a broken record on the Morpheus platform. It’s interesting, because you get up in the morning, you do an HRV reading, and then you input your sleep data. I’m not doing a sleep tracker, so I have to manually input it.
But it’s interesting, because we’ll… We dad a little bit of squirrely stuff. I had kind of some gut funkiness and I wasn’t entirely sure why. And I had one day that I was 16% out of 100% recovered. It was red, and horrible, and I felt like absolute dogshit that day.
Sometimes I’ll be 98% recovered. I should be able to go out there and get after it, and I don’t actually feel that great. And on other days I’m 75% recovered and I actually feel kind of good.
But, it is interesting. Nicki and I have noticed if we don’t get enough electrolytes, if we are underfed… For me, if I eat something weird, that’s a little bit out of spec for me, I see it in that HRV, that allostatic load. The stress load ends up manifesting in poorer sleep.
And so, things like that I think are interesting in that, you can start pulling out a variable. Like, maybe you need a little bit more sodium. Maybe you need some more potassium. Maybe you would benefit from some phosphatidylserine before bed, because it helps to suppress cortisol.
But what’s interesting about it is, you get a reasonably objective view of your recovery process, the sleep. Clearly she’s tracking this with the Oura Ring also, but it might kind of help triangulate in on what’s going on. It just might provide that other kind of angle on this stuff.
A similar deal, some of this stuff may be a little bit genetic too. Like, different people have different kind of sleep architecture and sleep patterns. Or some norms that most people fall within, but some people are a little bit further outside the norm. That really deep sleep is great for physical recovery, whereas the REM sleep is a little bit better for cognitive recovery.
Nicki: I was going to ask, she doesn’t mention exercise and I’m assuming she does. She’s doing all these other things that are very in alignment with an ancestral lifestyle.
But, does doing physical activity increase REM sleep? Would you have more REM, or not sure?
Robb: I’m not totally sure on that. I think in general, exercise, good circadian entrainment generally improves sleep across the board. And I would be surprised… This is kind of a Google search away, but I would be really surprised if properly timed exercise, properly dosed exercise, appropriate circadian exposure and all that. I’d be shocked if it didn’t broadly improve sleep, including REM sleep.
Nicki: Okay. So Kathleen, that might be something. And maybe you’re already doing multiple workouts or whatever a week, but that’s something that popped into my head. Something else to turn over.
Robb: And she said she’s doing meditation and whatnot, which we’ve seen that plays such a significant role in overall sleep.
Nicki: For sure. Yeah.
Robb: Yeah. So again, I wish I had something more.
Nicki: It could be the sauna. If that’s a go-to-
Robb: If that’s a consistent thing, yeah.
Nicki: She says she does it most evenings. Maybe swap that out, if you can, for earlier in the day.
Robb: Morning if possible, yeah.
Nicki: Yeah. And see if anything changes with that adjustment.
Robb: A lot of times what people will mention, if they do a really early sauna, they’re like, “I’m tired the rest of the day.” And it’s because the sauna’s kind of depleting.
Nicki: But then you don’t want to do it before bed, because it heats you up. And so, even though it’s depleting, you’re too hot to really get-
Robb: My sweet spot on sauna is about 3:00 PM. Ideally, I’ve worked out, I’ve done a bunch of the other stuff I need to do, I’ve done my cognitive work. And then if I can do a sauna around then, then it gives my body time to cool off, I can eat dinner. And then usually, I’m like the first question, where I-
Nicki: Yeah, you fall asleep pretty quickly.
Robb: Yeah, I’m out.
Nicki: You read for a while. Well, it sounds like the previous question, her husband-
Robb: He doesn’t even get to the reading, yeah.
Nicki: He couldn’t even finish a conversation before he is totally out. I mean, you’ll read sometimes for 30, 40 minutes in bed before you fall. But then, when you turn off your light and put your book down, you’re out.
Robb: I’m done. Yep.
Nicki: Yep. Okay, this is question two from Kathleen.
“Second question, my two boys are ages two and four. And while I feel like their diets are fairly diverse and adequate in nutrition, I worry, because most of the meat they eat is processed. We can’t seem to get past some texture issues with meat.”
“They’ll eat hotdogs, meatballs, bacon, sausage, lunch meat, et cetera, for days. But when it comes to steak or chicken thighs, no matter how I cook it, marinate it, prepare it, the best I can usually get is a few bites out of each.”
“Any thoughts or things I should be concerned about?”
Robb: If ground beef works, and things like meatloaf, and making your own meatball type things? Our girls arguably do better generally, with hamburger than steak. Although, if we get a really good steak and it’s cooked just right, they will lay some lumber on it.
Both of them eat shrimp, so we’d probably eat shrimp preferentially as a protein above all other-
Nicki: She loves shrimp. Yeah.
Robb: Sagan, a little bit. Neither of them are super big fans of other fish, unless it’s part of cioppino, or soup, or something like that.
Nicki: They both eat a slow cooked pot roast quite well, because it’s super tender if it’s been slow cooking most of the day.
Robb: And something that we did… And we probably overly did this. We cut the meat up small for the kids. And I forget where we read this, but it just makes-
Nicki: For texture issue, for sure. If you do steak, just really cut it quite small.
The other thing that our kids like… And we didn’t know about this when they were younger. But there are these big salt flakes called Maldon Flakes and they are amazing on steak. And so, the girl… I mean, we will just literally sprinkle that on.
So, I’m thinking salt. I’m also thinking sauces, because sometimes… Like, Sagan loves Cholula. Zoe can’t stand it, but Sagan will put Cholula on-
Robb: Damn near anything. Yeah.
Nicki: Any kind of protein. Maybe there’s something like that, like a sauce, or a barbecue sauce, or salt, or some kind of seasoning that they might gravitate towards.
Robb: Nicki makes a pistachio pesto and the kids will smash that. It’s delicious and it’s got to be pretty nutrient dense between the basil and everything that’s in it.
Nicki: It’s just a standard pesto recipe, but instead of pine nuts or any other nuts, I use pistachios. I actually got this from Jon Boone, a friend of ours here who’s a black belt at the SBG here. So it’s just literally pistachio’s, basil, olive oil, salt and lemon juice.
So again, another avenue is exploring these sauces that might make the steak or chicken more appealing.
Robb: And then, try to goose that edge of the less processed meats, making them a little bit more appealing.
But then, at the end of the day… I know that there’s all this stuff in the media about processed meats, and nitrates, and whatnot. I am super underwhelmed by the literature on this, in negative health consequences and whatnot.
Quote, “fresh meat” is more nutrient dense. It does provide more nutrition. When meat is cooked ahead of time, you lose a lot of the potassium, you lose some of those benefits that you would otherwise get from meat. But it still is providing light years better nutrition than we get from almost anything else.
And if they’re doing some berries, and some nuts here and there, and they tolerate all that stuff, they’re going to be fine. At the end of the day, they’re going to be fine. They’re not going to be losing out on any of this. And I know that dieticians would freak out…
But an interesting thing to do with this is, you just log their food in something like Cronometer and look at what they get in a day. Like, they do some Teton Waters hotdogs, and they do… Like, we found a local-ish, Washington State-
Nicki: Oregon. The sausage, are you talking about?
Robb: Yeah, the sausage. And our girls love that stuff. But if you were to put that into Cronometer and look at the nutrition you get out of it, and then you step back and you’re like, “Okay, dietician, what do you recommend in its place? Oatmeal? Cream of wheat? A bagel? Bread?” And you compare it, it’s like, that other stuff is dogshit by comparison. So, you’re not going to be shorting the kids by any means.
And adequate protein is so important for kids. Just their growth and development. They still get B vitamins, they still get folate with these other things. Yes, they get more from liver. Yes, they get more from a steak than they do from a hot dog or whatnot, but those nutrients do still exist in there. And they’re in much more bioavailable form than they generally are from plant-oriented stuff.
Nicki: And another thing that we encouraged our kids early on, is to do what we call combo bites. So sometimes we’ll have some rice, or some potatoes, because they tolerate that just fine. So we’ll have a little bit of that with dinner, or kale salad, or whatever sides we’re having with the protein.
And sometimes it tastes better to have the bite of chicken with a little bit of rice on your fork, and so you have it together. So it’s just another thing to maybe experiment with.
Robb: And I guess one final thing along that line. So if you are familiar with Wired to Eat… I talked a lot about palate fatigue, and that we seek out novelty. We can use that both ways.
You can limit palate experience, so that we have a tendency to not overeat. And then we can increase palate options to make it easier to eat. So when people find it difficult to eat like, 40 grams of protein in a sitting., If they got 20 grams of protein from steak and shrimp or steak and chicken, then it’s far easier to eat all of that than it is eating the full 40 grams of protein from just one item.
And I know it’s a pain in the ass, but if you’re cooking, if you can cook a couple of different things. And then they’ve got a little bit of bacon, a little bit of steak, a little bit of shrimp, they’re usually much more likely to eat a little bit of each one. And then in aggregate, you’re getting a lot more protein down their hatch.
Nicki: Cool. All right. Our final question this week is from Sisi on remote work and relocating.
“Hi Robb and Nicki. I’ve tried paleo in the past, but new blood work has me figuring out how to implement changes to my family’s diet. Thank you for all the work that you put into teaching us and connecting the dots with autoimmunity issues. We have two girls, 11 and 9.”
“My question is more of a broad one about the pillar of community. Four years ago, my husband took an opportunity at work, and we relocated from the East Coast to the Southeast. While everyone is moving here, we are considering relocating back to family and friends because he works fully remote.”
“There are a lot of websites that compare two cities and categories, such as number of sunny days, schools, cost of living, and average commute.”
“I wanted to know what types of thought process you and Nicki would take when looking at relocating. What are your thoughts on remote and isolated workers? Recommendations on finding community on this side of the pandemic, and/or in middle-age? Any tips for handling the stress of moving or home sickness?”
Robb: Man, good question.
Nicki: Really good question.
Robb: So she included a link to this, BestPlaces.net. And there’s also City-Data.
Nicki: Mm-hmm. Another place where you can kind of compare.
Robb: Yeah. You could pull up Phoenix, Arizona, versus Scottsdale, Arizona, or whatever. And they’ll-
Nicki: Or versus Montgomery, Alabama, or something. Yeah.
Robb: Right. Right. And it goes into crime, and cost, and days of sun, and temperature extremes and everything. And that’s definitely a consideration.
Montana, and Kalispell specifically, would’ve been way down the goddamn list for me, because of sun. I lived in Seattle for a number of years, and goddamn it was a grind the whole time I was there. It was not a good fit for me for a host of reasons. I was going through a lot personally, and-
Nicki: Hadn’t figured out your dietary situation, so you were really still really stick.
Robb: I hadn’t figured out what I was up to. Yeah, my dietary stuff was really challenging. So, I think that that’s all big stuff.
We moved here because of this jujitsu organization that we are a part of, which is called Straight Blast Gym. And not all the gyms are run as well as the one here, but they generally have an ethos of, they actually want to be successful. And to be successful, you can’t just treat people like a limb being thrown into a wood chipper and blast them out the back end.
Nicki: And I think a lot of people will understand the CrossFit analogy, and we’ve talked about that a ton. But jujitsu has a name that everybody’s familiar with. CrossFit, most people by now are familiar with it. But, all gyms are not created equal.
So there’s some CrossFit gyms that really work to bring people in, have them attain some sound, functional positions before they’re loaded. There’s a whole process to getting a person, before they’re doing Fight Gone Bad, or one of these named workout of the days.
Similarly, with jujitsu. Some of them do, they have a foundations class like the Straight Blast Gym does. And they’ll teach you all of the positions of jujitsu. And, “Here’s how you get out of this position. Here’s your escape from this position.” It allows you to work hard and just get a feel for it before you get thrown into the deep end with a class of people of all levels, where people are going a little bit harder.
But to Robb’s point, we had moved from Reno to Texas. And then 18 months later, we moved from Texas to here. And so, that’s a lot of moves in a short period of time with two young kids. And clearly, we’re very thankful that we get to work remote and we were able to make those decisions.
But you mentioned being in middle-age, the older you get, the harder it is to find community and to feel connected to people. And it’s a big deal. You don’t want to leave an area where you have years of social connections. They’re hugely valuable, right? Like, “Who can watch your kids when you want to go out on a date night?”
You have all of these things that you have in an area where you’ve lived for a significant period of time. And to Robb’s point, we both do jujitsu in Texas, the girls has started jujitsu, and the Straight Blast Gym program for kids is also phenomenal. And so, that was important to us, both because we enjoy the sport. But also because we knew… Also having run a CrossFit gym for years. The community that you can get in a gym, especially a gym where… Not like your standard-
Robb: 24 Hour-
Nicki: 24 Hour fitness, but a gym like a CrossFit or a jujitsu school, where you’re with the same people all the time. It cuts the… I don’t know what you call that. But, it cuts the time down. We’ve been here now, two years-
Robb: Two years. And it’s like we’ve been here 10 years.
Nicki: Yeah. Yeah.
Robb: The quality and depth of community that we have. And we did… Just as an aside, part of the reason why… There was a Straight Blast Gym in Texas. It was very good. They’re wonderful people. The main community that we had in Texas-
Nicki: Was from there.
Robb: Was from there. But also, most of our family is-
Nicki: On the West Coast.
Robb: On the West Coast, and kind of Northwest.
Nicki: And really, the climate was not for us. That was really the big thing.
Robb: Yeah. But we did move back here to at least be a reasonable drive away from family. This was during the height of COVID and we like, “We don’t want to be a 35-hour drive away from family. A 6 or 8-hour drive is reasonable.”
So, we did in part move… We didn’t move directly back to family, but we moved much closer to family. And we knew that there was a really well established jujitsu scene here. And we were a little bit gambling that we would plug into the scene and things would work out, but it by and large has.
Our good friend John Welbourne, the other day he called me and I got to catch up with him. And he’s appreciated jujitsu for many, many years, but he also teased me about it. He’s like, “Oh, these guys are lazy. They just go slow.” And everything.
Nicki: “They’re just rolling around in pajamas.”
Robb: And then, John has really gotten in and started doing some jujitsu himself. And I just had a giant grin on my face. He was like, “Man, if you’re depressed and you need some people to hang out with, fucking go join jujitsu. Because you’re going to get a bunch of hugs, and you’re going to get a workout, and then you’re going to get more hugs.” And like, “Man, I get more hugs… I’m not even comfortable with it all, but I just do it because these Brazilians are huggers.”
And it’s kind of true. It’s like cheers minus the alcohol, at the event. You go in and people are happy to see you and you’re happy to see them.
Nicki: You do some hard work and you suffer with each other, so there’s bonds that are created. It’s a very physical thing. There’s a lot of touching in jujitsu, because you’re wrestling, you’re grappling.
But that also… I don’t know, it definitely allows you to cut a lot of time off of the get to know you phase of things.
Robb: Yeah. And I don’t know how true this stuff is, but there’s some soft science out there that, “You need X number of significant touch points in a day.”
Nicki: Eight hugs a day or something, is that… I heard that.
Robb: It’s something like that. You get all of them at jujitsu.
But I would say also, a well run CrossFit gym could provide most all of that too, where you get to know the people. Both these activities are hard. And the fact that they’re hard means that the people who stick around are pretty good people, by and large. They’re kind of tough. They’re mentally tough and they’re making the decision to do that, versus just sitting down and watching TV, or directly going to the bars. Maybe you go to the bars after the jujitsu or CrossFit.
But, it’s just different. And so, I can’t understate the importance of that stuff. And-
Nicki: Especially… And her question relates to remote work. Again, in middle-age, where do you meet people? As a child, you meet people in school. In your college age, you meet people at university, going to parties, all that stuff.
Once you’re a grownup and you have kids, you have a routine. And if you are working in an office, or on the job with other people, there’s that camaraderie that comes with being together with people over extended days, et cetera.
As a remote person, you have Slack, or whatever other team communication app you’re using and it’s not the same.
Robb: It is to real social interaction what junk food is to real food. It feels like the real thing, and it can fill some gaps occasionally, but it’s not-
Nicki: It’s not the same.
Robb: All of it, it’s not the same.
So I really highly recommend investigating jujitsu, CrossFit, maybe something like yoga. But I’ve never seen yoga communities, personally… I’ve been into yoga before. Go as deep as this stuff is, because it’s so much more of an individual type of thing in your head.
Nicki: Yeah. You’re kind of in your own head and you’re on your own mat. There’s not the shared suffering that happens in either CrossFit or jujitsu.
Robb: Not the same way.
Nicki: Not the same way.
And also, the celebration of achievement. That’s huge with both CrossFit and jujitsu also. It’s like, people are stoked for you when you figure out a thing. Or if you’re struggling with something and one of the upper belts helps you, and you work it, and work it, and work it, and then you get it, and then you get some good feedback.
There’s the community piece, but then there’s also just the self-improvement piece. That I think also, as an older person, we don’t… How often do you learn new thins? I mean, people learn new things in middle-age and beyond, clearly. But, new physical things? I don’t think it’s as common as it is as a kid.
Like, Sagan is all into learning cartwheels and handstand and stuff right now. So as kids, you play a lot more, you’re always trying new physical activities. “Oh, let’s try ice skating. Let’s do this. Let’s climb a tree. Can you climb this tree?” There’s all of that going on.
As grownups, the stuff we learn tends to be more cognitive-
Robb: Kind of work related.
Nicki: Yeah, work related. “I learned a new computer program.” Or, “I learned how to do this thing in Excel.”
But the physical learning… And Glassman used to talk about this too, how important it is for the brain to learn new movements as we age.
Nicki: I don’t know, we kind of derailed that, I think. But at the same time, we were still on point.
Robb: Yeah. And maybe I will do… I’ve written some pieces about what a good gym looks like, but I don’t think I’ve really updated that in a long time. I could certainly put a fresh coat of paint on that.
Nicki: You could do one with a lens of jujitsu, also. Because I know in the past, it’s mainly been a lot of CrossFit.
Robb: Yeah, but the overlaps are very similar? “Do they have a beginner’s program?”
Nicki: “How many women train there?”
Robb: “How many women are there? How many old people are there? Do they have a morning, noon, and a night class?”
There are gyms that are… Unfortunately, the folks never learned to run a gym successfully. They’re really in this kind of competition mindset. And so, all that matters is everybody competing. And if you want to compete, that’s great. But-
Nicki: And that’s the perfect place for the 20-year olds that want to go and just get there-
Robb: Get after it.
Nicki: Get after it. But again, as a female, or a male in your 40s and beyond, you’re a professional, you are a parent. You don’t want to get injured. You want to learn something new and you want to do some hard work, but longevity in the sport, or in the whatever activity you choose, is important. Nobody wants to get injured.
And so again, that’s where finding the right place matters. You don’t want to sign up at a place where the average age is 20. You want to sign up at a place where, in a class, 25% or more are women. 50% or more are-
Robb: Over 40.
Nicki: Over 40. And you’re going to get some great training, and I think there’s just a better appreciation for longevity.
And our coach, John Frankl would always say, what you want to get out of training today… You want to train, but your main goal is that you can show up and train again tomorrow. Because that’s how you get good, is showing up day after day.
If you go in and you get injured today, you’re not coming back tomorrow. And you might not come back for a couple of weeks, and so then your longevity in the activity is limited.
Robb: Yep. Yep. So we kind of touched on the family piece. You mentioned potentially moving back closer to family. I think that’s a really non-trivial thing, especially as we head from…
Like, I’m 50. I’m not actually middle-aged unless I’m going to be really fucked old.
Nicki: You’re 51.
Robb: I’m early old-age or something, or very, very late middle-age.
And I think that stuff matters. Time with parents, time with grandparents, if there’re still around. There’s an expiration date on all of that, and all of that is really important.
But either way, I think that finding a jujitsu, or a CrossFit type experience that works, that is well run, I think that’s super valuable.
I did provide a link to this book called Strategic Relocation, and it goes down the rabbit hole pretty deep. It gets in and looks at the global level of where you might want, or not want, to be. And then it really focuses heavily on the United States, and it gets into, “Are you near a nuclear-“
Nicki: “Active volcano.”
Robb: “An active volcano, or a military base?” And different things like that. And it talks about that broader resiliency story, and where one might want to be.
But even within that context, it’s like, “If you have to live in a population center, here’s some things that you should be thinking about to be able to minimize some of your downside risk.”
And that was some of our decision in ending up here. Both Texas originally, and then more here, because this area plays favorably. If the world gets a little bit squirrely and sideways, this area, according to that… And it makes a lot of sense to me. Plays well in that regard.
So, I don’t know how important that is to y’all, but it’s an interesting book in any case.
And just as an aside, it is unavailable on Amazon now.
Nicki: Oh really?
Robb: Yeah. You can get it other… Kind of like first aid survival websites and stuff like that. It’s in stock-
Nicki: You can’t even get it used on Amazon?
Robb: It is unavailable on Amazon.
Robb: It’s very interesting, yeah.
Nicki: Sisi, hopefully that was helpful. I’m happy to answer any other questions on that topic. I don’t know, anything else, hubs?
Robb: No. And the folks that we mentioned at the outset of the show had listened to an earlier show, and they ended up in this area in part because of the podcast and listening to us talk about this area.
And so, we really do take this stuff seriously and try to put some thought into it, because I know it’s big decisions and whatnot. So, appreciate the questions and appreciate the extended community that y’all provide for us, because it is important.
Nicki: Cool. I think that’s all for this week. I hope you all have a fabulous Easter weekend if you celebrate Easter. If this episode was helpful for you and you want to share it with friends or family, please do. And thanks for joining us.
Please check out our show sponsor LMNT for any and all of your electrolyte needs. We’ve got a flavor for every taste bud. You can grab that at DrinkLMNT.com/Robb. That’s DrinkLMNT.com/Robb.
Have a wonderful weekend and we will see you all next week.
Robb: Bye, everybody.
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