The Corporate Escapee: On a Mission to Help 10,000 GenXers Escape the 9-5 Grind!


In this episode, Brett Trainor interviews Michael Easter, author of 'The Comfort Crisis.' They discuss the importance of discomfort and challenging environments for personal growth and health. Michael shares his journey in the Arctic and how it made him realize the impact of comfort on modern life. They also explore the benefits of challenging oneself mentally and physically, the impact of mortality on decision-making, and the truth about fad diets and nutrition. Additionally, they discuss the benefits of rucking and spending time outdoors. Michael recommends finding ways to be grateful as a daily practice. The conversation explores the idea of appreciating what we have and being grateful for the improvements in our lives over time. It emphasizes the importance of recognizing the abundance and advantages we enjoy in the present moment. The guest shares his personal experience of how gratitude has made his life better and encourages listeners to savor every moment. The conversation also mentions the book 'The Comfort Crisis' and provides information on where to find more content from the guest.

  • Embracing discomfort and challenging environments can lead to personal growth and improved health.
  • Challenging oneself mentally and physically can lead to a shift in mindset and reframing of fear.
  • The rise of comfort in modern life has disconnected us from the discomforts that are important for our health and happiness.
  • Reflecting on mortality can help prioritize what is truly important in life.
  • Fad diets often focus on eliminating certain foods, but the key to nutrition is finding a balance and being mindful of calorie intake.
  • Rucking, or walking with a weighted backpack, can provide endurance and strength benefits without the high injury rate of running.
  • Spending time outdoors and connecting with nature has numerous mental and physical health benefits.
  • Finding ways to be grateful on a daily basis can improve overall well-being and perspective.
Introduction to Michael Easter and The Comfort Crisis
The Importance of Discomfort and Challenging Environments
The Mental and Physical Benefits of Challenging Yourself
The Impact of Comfort on Mental Health
The Importance of Reflecting on Mortality
The Truth About Fad Diets and Nutrition
The Benefits of Rucking and Outdoor Fitness
The Importance of Spending Time Outdoors
Recommendation: Find Ways to Be Grateful
Appreciating What We Have

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GenX was raised without many rules and a lot of independence. We want to show you how to reclaim that freedom

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Brett Trainor (01:28.17)
Hey, Michael, welcome to the podcast. Hey, thanks for having me on. I appreciate it. It's definitely my pleasure. I've talked a little bit off air when I read your book, I heard you on a podcast, read your book and said, man, I've got to have Michael on the podcast to talk about it. I'm not sure why it really resonated with me, maybe because I'm now 50 plus and really started a couple of years ago, thinking about the second half of my life, the career, the journey, how do I make it long, healthy, prosperous, et cetera, et cetera. But it was a.

a really, really great book. And I've read a lot of books this year and last year, it definitely moved up to the top of the list. So with that out of the way. That's awesome to hear. What inspired you or why did you write the book? Was it a series of things or was it an event? What kind of led you down the path? Yeah, that's a good question. It was definitely a series of events. I mean, long story short is my background is that I was an editor at Men's Health.

magazine for about two years. I've kind of written for a lot of different magazines and my background has always been in health journalism, more or less, but not necessarily the stuff that like happens in the doctor's office, more like preventative stuff, lifestyle stuff, nutrition, exercise. And I noticed early in my career that anything that improves human health usually comes with some form of discomfort, right? If you want to get fit and improve your fitness, you're going to have to work out working out as uncomfortable.

If you want to lose weight, you're probably going to be hungry at some point. Even improving your mental health, whether that's like improving relationships or whatever it is, that usually requires some sort of discomfort too. Right. Usually have to go through something. And through my career, I had met this guy whose name is Donnie Vincent and he's his back country bow hunter, super far out guy. He makes these amazing documentaries that are essentially like planet earth, but with hunting in them. So he's not your sort of typical.

Dude. And he invited me to go up to the Arctic with him for more than a month on this backcountry hunt and because my background at men's health, I figure I can, I can do this. Like I'd been thrown into some of the world's most sort of hardcore gyms and just done a lot of stuff, right? Part of the job. But I get up there and it is like, I am way outside my comfort zone in all of these different ways. So it's like every single thing we do takes effort and it's like, if we want water.

Brett Trainor (03:52.79)
to drink and cook with, we have to hike miles downstream to get it. And the stream is flanked with grizzlies. We're carrying these 80 pound packs on our back the whole time. The weather is freezing cold and I was coming from Vegas. So it was even worse for me. Even the silence and solitude of nature can be like a little bit eerie at first. And, but only amplified over time. And I got back from this, true. I make it through whatever I get back. And.

It is very apparent to me how comfortable my modern life is at home. Because I had gone from this environment where literally every single thing took challenge, challenging, everything took effort, everything was uncomfortable to this one now where it's like, Oh, everything like we've just totally removed uh, discomfort from our lives and challenge and having to put in effort. So this, this like dichotomy between these two environments became very apparent to me, right?

but humans used to live in these uncomfortable, challenging environments like I was up there and faced in the Arctic for all of time. Until then I wondered like, okay, how has this tip into comfort that we've taken, especially over the last hundred years, like all of this stuff in our lives now, it's less than a hundred years old. Climate control, the fact that we spend 11 hours a day engaging with media.

the fact that we have an easy and effortless access to food on and on and on. The fact that we have cars, we don't have to do much to get our, I mean, just everything, right? So I wanted to know how that's changed us really. And so I started traveling the world. I met with people like researchers at Harvard, doctors at the Mayo Clinic, special forces soldiers, went to Bhutan and met with Buddhist leaders. I was in...

Iceland meeting with geneticists, like just all over and read a bunch of studies. And from that, I started looking at the commonalities between like, what are these discomforts that we've removed from our lives that were really important for our health and happiness. And so in the book, I sort of distilled them down and I tell the story of the importance of handful of specific discomforts that I've identified through this journey I took up in the Arctic.

Brett Trainor (06:10.206)
Yeah, that's what I, one of the things I really enjoyed about the book, it was kind of parallel, right? You had your, your journey of the 33 days up there. And by the end, I'm like, is he going to pull the trigger? You had me going, but with all this science, that's kind of interwoven across from fitness to mental to diet and kind of all the things that we, we think about, at least I think about how do we balance it and avoiding the fat of the day diets and they don't work. And that's what I kind of really appreciate is you just cut it down to the.

bottom line, right? It's not about what's good or bad. But when I read the title, like the comfort crisis is comfort that bad for us, right? There's modern communities that probably makes our life better. But I think where you went was kind of exploring that balance, right? When is too much comfort no longer good for us and actually maybe detrimental for us. So, you know, how did you come up with the title and the comfort crisis, right? I mean, I get it read the book makes 100%. But as people are thinking about it, like,

listening from my living room with my AirPods in to this interview, right? So how did you approach that balance? Well, the title is funny because, you know, I'm working with my publisher and so it's like a Zoom call with like five of us. There's me, there's my editor, there's like the book's marketer. So it's a, you know, a room of people and we're thinking what's a good title? And my editor came up with that. He liked it. He thought it hit the points that we needed to. At first I was like kind of iffy about it.

But when I threw it out in the world, people were like, oh, okay, I get it. I get what the book is about. So I think that was a good sign, right? There was no confusion, sort of clear. But I was gonna say in terms of finding that balance, yes, like all these comforts we have in our lives, they're freaking amazing. I mean, you're outside of Chicago, I'm in Las Vegas, we're having this conversation, talking about ideas, not to mention Vegas is going through a heat wave, it's like 115 right now, my house is 70 degrees.

Right. And I got a food, I got a pantry full of food. So like all this stuff is great, but the problem is, is that we never offset it. So humans are essentially, we evolved to always seek comfort because that used to keep us alive in these uncomfortable environments where we didn't have enough food. So we'd feel this discomfort of hunger and that would tell us to go eat. And when we would eat, we get these shots of dopamine that reward us. Right. That's why there's such a thing as comfort food, right? Right. So it'd be really comforting.

Brett Trainor (08:35.21)
We avoid exercise because burning extra calories in the past, we would have died off, right? If we just liked to exercise and on and on and on. But now that we've engineered our world to be comfortable, we still have these drives that tell us, oh, just do the most comfortable thing. And it's removed us from these things that keep us happy, right? Happy and healthy. Yeah. The happy healthy, I think is the portion. Cause when I was the early stage and I'm drawing a blank, my apologies on the sports performance.

guy, right, was talking about the masagi and testing the limits. And then it just frees your mind for other areas. I'm thinking, I don't know if I'm going to push a boulder underwater for a mile or whatever it is. So maybe talk a little bit about that, that journey, because I do think we all want to get better at what we do. And we don't necessarily always tie the physical challenges with the mental benefits of, of that process. Totally. So as part of this, I meet this guy whose name is Marcus Elliot.

And so a couple of things on his background, he's super far out guy. He used to go to Burning Man, like back in the day, he got himself through college, uh, counting cards. So he's just kind of far out character. Uh, but he also went to Harvard medical school. So he's also very, very smart and he decides he's not going to be a doctor. He's going to be a sports scientist. And his goal is to really insert a lot more science into sports science. Cause when he got in the game in the early two thousands, it was pretty rudimentary. It was like.

We're going to just change your sets and reps as you work out and we'll see what happens. He applied like a lot of different biometric stuff and long story short is now he's the top sports scientists in the game and he integrates all this AI and big data and is figuring out a lot about injuries, et cetera, et cetera. So I told you all that. So, you know, that he's this super brilliant sort of data centric guy, but he also knows that what really improves humans and that ranges from business leaders to.

athletes to any random person can't always be measured. So to get to those intangibles, he does this thing called misogi. And the idea is that once a year, he's gonna go out and they're gonna do something physical in nature that is really hard. Now he defines, there's two rules essentially. Rule number one is make it really hard and they define really hard by you should have a true 50% chance at failure.

Brett Trainor (10:59.182)
It's like, how often do we do things where there's truly a 50% chance that we're going to fail? The human brain hates the idea of failure. We always choose things that we know we can be successful at. And so this puts you out of that comfort zone. And then the second rule is don't die. Yeah, that was one of my favorites. That's really good advice. Yeah. And then they have some guidelines too. And the two guidelines are that it should be sort of kooky.

This thing they do outside. So one year they walked an 85 pound boulder underwater on the Santa Barbara channel, like 10, 20 feet underwater for five miles. So one guy would dive down. They'd walk like 10 yards. The next guy would dive down and after five miles and five hours, the boulders at the other side, but they do all kinds of crazy stuff. And the reason for that is so you can't compare it to anything else. Cause a lot of times in modern life, people will seek out.

challenges based only so they can kind of comparison chop against the next person. It's like, for example, you know, Oh, my neighbor ran a marathon in three hours. Well, I'm going to run a marathon and I'm going to do it in two 58. Right. So this, you want to remove the comparison chopping cause this is for you. And then the second guideline is don't tweet Instagram, Facebook brag about Masogi again, because this is.

for you, this isn't so you're not going out and doing something so you can boast about it. It's like, you want to learn some internal things. Kind of like the first rule of fight club. There is no fight club. Exactly. And the idea, what he's trying to get to is that as humans evolve, we had to do real physically challenging stuff all the time. And this was without safety nets. And these things could often be perilous if we failed.

So for example, let's say we had to go on a, we're running out of food and we had to go on this big epic hunt, or we have to maybe get from point A to point B, but we have to cross this mountain pass and there's a storm rolling in, or it could be tigers in the bushes. And, but nowadays we've totally removed this sort of stuff from our life. Right. So nowadays failure is, I was giving a presentation and I misspelled the word on slide number five.

Brett Trainor (13:10.582)
And my boss gave me this look that just crushed me. And that, that really upsets us. Right. Cause we don't have any, we don't have any sense of like really getting out there and putting ourselves out there. So by doing this, what happens is people get to a point where they think, Oh man, like I'm not going to make it. I can't do this thing, whatever it is, you know, this walking a rock underwater, like there's no way, but they keep putting one foot in front of the other and along the way you start to see, okay,

I sold myself short here because I thought my edge was here, but now I'm past that edge. And if I sold myself short there, like where else am I possibly selling myself short in life? And it also reframes that idea of what we consider failure now, right? It's like then when you go into that office meeting, you're like, man, I did some pretty epic stuff over the weekend. Like this thing I have now, this presentation is not that big of a deal. Like it reframes fear for people.

Yeah, I think that's so important. And it's funny when I was reading the book, I was thinking back unintentionally, right? A lot of everything I've done or even followed kind of what you were talking about was, was unintentional. And in my life, I've run one marathon, right? Never wanted to run that distance again. Haven't run that distance again. Did one, one triathlon, which most people it's not a big deal, but I'm not a very good swimmer. So that challenge, not to the level that you're talking, but I mean, over the course I did the

the Murph challenge with, which is the CrossFit workout once a year where there's no way in God's green earth, I was going to do 200 pull-ups the first time. But I mean, so unintentionally I did that, but now I get, I see the bigger picture of why that makes sense. And then even taking a step back and thinking about how we're raising our kids. And we take

almost all of the risk maybe out of, or in the learning it's something, because we don't want them to fail. And right. There was enough in life that'll teach them failure, but I mean, is it a disservice? I know I'm jumping a little bit, but that's where my mind went to when I was thinking about this is we're probably not doing our kids a huge favor by sheltering them from these types of challenges. Right. A hundred percent. So when you look at, so the other thing that Masogi is getting to is the idea of right of passage. So in all cultures around the world.

Brett Trainor (15:25.046)
throughout time, there've usually been rites of passages. Now, rites of passage, the idea is that we have a person who's usually a young person who was at point A in their life. They're not quite as competent as we need them to be in order to sort of go forth and carry on the tribe, right? So we need to get them to point B. Now, to do that, there was usually a big epic physical trial in nature. So they would send this person out into the wild to either...

go on a hunt or just to survive for a week without food and water, that sort of thing. Could be up to a month as there was a walkabout in Aboriginal tribe. And along the way, what happens is that person learns a lot about themselves. They pick up a lot of important skills, but more importantly, they learn they have this mental switch they didn't realize was there and they come back to the tribe and they are improved for it and they're ready to move on to the second phase.

of their life, really. I mean, they're a new person. So Joseph Campbell talks about this in the hero's journey, right? It's like separate from the comfort of normal life, go into this trying middle ground. Hopefully you succeed. And then you are a totally new person, right? I mean, you are, you are a new person. You see this even in the military with hell week, right? We take these recruits, we put them through hell, they come back and what happens? They're a new person. And we signify that by giving them the ranger tab, tab or whatever it is, you know?

And nowadays kids don't have to do that. So what's the right of passage, right? It's, I don't know. Yeah. I couldn't think of it one, anything of significance through my life as it would define that. And right. And then if I'm leaping, you can tell me if that tie in the concept, but that comes back to the mental and the framework, right? If you put some of these bigger challenges and then, you know, the things that maybe it's driving depression these days or some of the mental health issues are really things that are not that big in nature, but yet.

In our current society, it tells us that they are, is that, is that too big a leap? Or is it? No, no, a hundred percent. So there's got, there's this guy I talked to whose name is Mark Siri and he's a psychologist does a ton of research. He's up at the university at Buffalo and he's been researching this concept called toughening his entire life. And when he started researching and psychology, the research basically suggested that if something bad happens to a person, something really trying and challenging that it's just bad. And that's that. But he.

Brett Trainor (17:47.85)
He thought about it and he's like, well, why do we say like, I don't really think that's true, right? So he started doing this research and he's basically found that more or less having a ton of really bad challenging things happen to a person is not good for their mental health. But at the same time, the people who've had no challenges in their life, they have equally bad mental health compared to the people who've had a ton. So there's this sweet spot, it's a U-shaped curve. And the reality is, especially with the rise of helicopter parenting in the 90s,

when we started just taking all challenge out of kids life, a lot of kids are at that end where they haven't had challenges. And so their mental health is suffering and the data backs that up 100%. I mean, you even think about a professor at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and kids get really upset like when their ideas are challenged. And it's like, well, of course you would because you've never had like a real challenge in your life. If I call you on an idea, it can be upsetting to you.

You know, so we really need like, we know people thrive on challenges and over time we just keep removing them. So it's like, we need to, you know, I mentioned that challenges in the past could be, you know, there's a tiger lurking in the bushes. It's like, how do we reinsert these metaphorical tigers back into our life? Yeah, I know it makes sense. And I'm assuming based on your experience up in the Arctic, that 30 days, 33 days was your kind of your right of passage, if you will, or whether I'm sure you've challenged yourself more than

the average American at this point, but just kind of curious, did you find you're a different type of person when you came back from that journey? Oh, a hundred percent, a hundred percent. Yeah. And I mean, I'll give you, I could go on for days, but one example is I asked my wife, like, do you think I've changed? And she goes, yeah, you're like way harder to rattle. And I'll tell you why that is because people have

If you are, if you are relatively well off, even middle-class or above in the United States of America, probably a lot of your problems are first world problems, not saying people don't have real problems that, you know, medical stuff and whatever, but we have a lot of first world problems and by going up into the Arctic for more than a month, like when I came back, the first stop we have, we're at this crappy little airport in this town called Pekotsebu. I mean, this is like a shed, but it had hot running water. So I like.

Brett Trainor (20:06.242)
go up to the sink and I flip it on, I just don't even think the water is hot. Now I hadn't experienced hot running water for more than a month when that water hit my hands. I mean, I had the biggest grin on my face of all time. And so it like reframes by doing something like that, it really reframed what a problem is to me and gave me a lot more gratuity for how good we have it today. Cause we can totally forget all that, right? Like the fact that we have hot running water at any time is unbelievable.

I mean, in the grand scheme of time and space, the fact that we have like climate control and have rules over our head, it's unbelievable, but you forget that. Cause we never have these moments that press back against us. So for me, it was like, I just kind of didn't really have much to complain about once I got, once I got back, you know, and even something like the stuff that people get annoyed about. It's like, Oh, my employee was a little bit late on this thing or that thing, or some.

person cut me off in traffic. It's like, who cares? Like just fix it. You don't know. I mean, fix it, but you don't need to get worked up about it. And that colors the rest of your day. Right. Yeah, for sure. And maybe I'm just lucky because I tend to be the half full type of person and realize that there's things could be a lot worse, but you know, my wife and even some of my daughters tend to be more of the others worry about the little thing. So how do we, obviously all of us can't go with 30 to three day trek.

up and experience what you did. So what's what is the happy medium? I mean, I'm actually at maybe specifics or just some examples of how we could start to challenge ourselves to reframe that or challenge our kids maybe I'm sure that's probably two different concepts. But right, so yeah, push to that. You know, how do we just get better a little bit doing this on a day to day or on an annual basis? Well, I think the idea of Masogi is great because

My 50% is not your 50%, is not your 50%. So what is something that you can come up with and just take a single day, don't have to train for it. What's something you can do where you think you have a true only 50% chance of making it that you can see if you can do, just go out and see. Like let's say that you've never run more than three miles. It's like, well, do you think you could run five? And if you are like, well, yeah, maybe probably.

Brett Trainor (22:29.558)
Well, what about six? What about seven? If it's seven, you're like, Oh man, I don't know if I could do that. Well, go find out. Yeah. It'll take you like two hours out of your day, three hours out of your day. But along the way, you're going to have these periods where they're like, nope, can't do this, got to turn around. Like, but by putting one foot in front of the other, you're going to learn a lot about yourself, see that you were probably selling yourself short. And then the question will come up. Where else am I selling myself short?

Right. So something like that is I think super easy to do. I mean, simple, but not easy. Yeah. I think it's a great idea. And you said annually or every six months or yeah, I think like annually is great. Darned spot at least. Yeah. Ideally it's like out in nature. And, you know, one thing that I talk about too, in the book is that I talk about this, I started thinking about this because we were hunting up there and the idea that we're very removed from the life cycle.

in the U S right. And this goes from our food system to our funeral system. Like we just don't acknowledge that, you know, this ride we're on is going to end. And so to learn more about that, I traveled to Bhutan, which is right by Nepal and India. And Bhutan is interesting because it is one of the least developed countries on earth, but they also regularly register among the happiest places. Right. So in the West, we think that like, man, if I just get more money,

get a new car, get a bigger house, man, I'm going to be happy. It's like, well, these people don't have all that. And yet they're, they're kicking our butt and happiness, frankly. And part of the reason there's a variety of reasons for it. But part of the reason is that they are very cognizant of the fact that one day they're going to die. So people in Bhutan are told instructed to think about their death at least once a day. So I go.

I go there and I met with an Oxford trained economist who sort of studies happiness there, also some Buddhist leaders. And the takeaway was we should probably be trying to be a lot more cognizant of the fact that yeah, this ride is going to end. And it seems to center a person's life. And it sounds a little bit woo-woo, but at the same time...

Brett Trainor (24:39.85)
They've started researching this in the United States. So there's research that's been conducted everywhere from Stanford to the University of Kentucky that basically says when people start to think about their death, although it's uncomfortable at first, right? This is the most uncomfortable thing you could think about. 100%. Yeah. It also centers you. All of a sudden you realize, okay, what is it? You start to focus on what is going to be most important to me. And it usually tends to not be, oh, I need to buy that Rolex, right? It's like...

What is actually going to matter in the end? And this changes your behavior in such a way that moves the dial on happiness. Yeah. I think that's such a great idea. And yeah. And when I read that in the book and I think it, I can't remember who it was, but said, man, we're all dying right now. Every one of us were one step closer to death every second. We're like, Whoa, yeah, that's right. I think of it like that. But yeah, if you, if you're thinking about, yes, how am I going to make the most out of the next 10, 20, 30 years? Or if you're young, maybe 80 years. It does.

completely reframe the importance. You know, I told you off air that I'm going through, because I'm older, I'm starting to reframe and say, hey, what do I want for the second half of my life? It's completely different than just going through the motions of the corporate jobs sometimes. And so like I said, better late than never, but yeah, I can absolutely see the advantages of it. Right, it's gonna be uncomfortable, right? When you think about it like that, but- 100%. And I think even thinking about it from a business perspective, I know on my own,

work, you know, like I'm an independent contractor for a bunch of different magazines and this book is all independent stuff. And it's made me really rethink what jobs am I going to take and why, what decisions am I going to make and why is that? Am I chasing a number just to get a number? What is the meaning behind this? Why am I spending my time this specific way? Right? So I think that can really, in terms of an organization, it's like, if you take that into, at an organizational level, I think that can make some changes

that move the dial, not just financially, but also in terms of how are you and your employees, are they excited, are you excited to come to work? Are you making the decisions that matter? Or are you caught up in the swamp of minutiae, right? It's like, it sort of just cuts the minutia.

Brett Trainor (26:52.914)
Yeah, no, absolutely right. And it's, we go through the pandemic and everybody's been remote work for 18 months now, and some are forcing folks back into the office. And I think there's going to be a lot of people rethinking what do I want out of a job or career now that I've had this balance. And so I, it's going to be fascinating in the next couple of years, how this plays out. I mean, I've got my perspectives, but I think, yeah, it's going to, like I said, it's going to be interesting. Yeah.

Now I did want to cover just maybe we can combine and you can, you can help me break it out between the fitness and nutrition, right? Because I learned a lot through those two pieces of what we thought we knew about fitness, right? I learned about rocking, which you can maybe get into this, but I think the nutrition aspect of it too, right? Because we've grown up or at least I have through the fad diets, right? Through keto and macro nutrients and everything, but

You know, you kind of cut through that crap a little bit and say, at the end of the day, man, let's look where we started, why we're dying, why we're not dying. And, you know, is it actually the food that we're eating or the quality? So I know that was a really broad intro to this, but I'd love to just get your perspective on nutrition and fitness and how they kind of. Yeah. Well, I'll tell you, first of all, like who I really, who really changed my mind about a lot of this stuff. There's a, there's a guy named Trevor Casci.

And I don't even think he's 30 years old yet, but he graduated college when he was 18. He had his PhD in biochemistry, I think by the time he was 22, doing cancer research. The guy's brilliant, like off the charts, brilliant. And just a deep thinker. And he transitioned to, he'd always been interested in fitness and nutrition and he decided to start a nutrition company. And he's just kind of gone down the rabbit hole, but he has a really smart way of clarifying things.

So I spent a lot of time with him for the book. I went down to Austin and yeah, I lived with them for a handful of days. Now, I think what's interesting about nutrition and you mentioned fad diets is most of them basically just say, okay, here is the list of foods that are good and here's the list of foods that are evil. If you just eat these ones and not these ones, you'll be, you'll lose weight, right? Yeah. Every single fad diet works or else no one would have, they would have never gotten popular.

Brett Trainor (29:06.742)
The problem is, is they only work for a handful of time. Most people will see some weight loss on a fad diet, whether that's keto, which basically says carbs are evil, don't eat carbs, whether that's low fat, which basically says fat is evil, don't eat fat, or even something like vegan, which is foods that are from animals are evil, don't eat foods from animals. So what happens is people will lose weight sort of quickly, but then they'll usually jump off after about five weeks. And so what happens in...

at week five, what happens is people start to get hungry. Once you start to lose weight, your body turns up your hunger signals. It starts doing all these things to try to get you back to your weight. Because in the past, losing weight as we evolved was like a warning sign. It's like, uh-oh, we gotta fix this problem. So the question is, all right, fad diets work, but we can't follow them. It's like, well, why the hell can't we follow them? Because of the hunger thing. So let's try and solve for that. And when you look at the research, people today,

only 20% of eating is actually driven by real physiological hunger. That's like, yeah, we have a food, we have food everywhere. Food is a quick and easy escape from stress, boredom, et cetera, et cetera. All these things that we just, we just eat all the time. Like we eat so much more than we used to in the past. And this is really the driver. So I argue in the book, it's like, we need to learn to live with the

discomfort of hunger and we need to figure out what is real hunger? Because nowadays we're eating for reasons that aren't real hunger, right? So one way, obviously you're gonna have to eat at some point too, right? So I also argue that we should be thinking about foods that help us stay more full longer. Now it's possible to lose weight eating junk food, but the real problem is that you'd eat so little of it because it's so calorie dense, right? And it's also kind of.

Not great for your health. So I argue that we need to eat foods that keep us fuller longer. And those tend to be the foods that humans have been eating for thousands and thousands of years, stuff like potatoes are the most filling food based on a handful of studies. Also things like lean meat, vegetables, grains. I mean, this is the stuff that kept humans alive forever. But now in fad diet culture, it all gets positioned as like, Oh, evil. This is the meat is the problem.

Brett Trainor (31:27.734)
like, Oh no, you can't eat potatoes. Like those are going to make you fat because some weird study. It's like, let's use common sense here. You know, there's a reason that people really started gaining weight in the fifties because we just added all this ultra process crap and that stuff is very easy to overeat. So it's like, just fall back on. Did your great, great grandfather eat it? That's probably good for you. If not, then it's probably not.

No, it's so true. And when you think about fat diets, well, now our bodies are hyper-engineered to live off of keto only. And, but you're right. Our bodies probably did adapt to the foods that kept it alive the longest, right? The fullest. Yeah. On processed food.

And I think he had another stat in there talking about how we all, as it may be Americans, I don't know if it's global, overestimate the amount of calories that we're actually eating in a day. If we're not actually writing it down, I think it was the guy you just mentioned talked about, hey, track everything, right? If you don't track it, you're going to be surprised at how much you're overeating. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that's the problem. I mean, the human brain always defaults to more food. I mean, that made sense for...

millions of years as we evolved. It's like if we had an opportunity to eat, made sense to overeat because then we would store that extra on our body as fat for when we would inevitably face a time where we couldn't find food. Nowadays, we don't have those times where we can't find food, but our brain is still saying, hey, eat a little more than you think. And people have no idea how much they eat. And to your point about those studies, it's like when you look at people who have a healthy weight, so...

gauged by BMI, they tend to underestimate their calorie intake by about 400 calories. But the most important point is that people who are overweight underestimate by more than 800. That's crazy. So it's not some that you had like some sugar or that you had some whatever. It's really like you have no idea how many calories you've taken it. That's almost a full meal, right? A full dinner at 800 or 1000 calories, right? It's not so under wow.

Brett Trainor (33:33.886)
Yeah, I thought it was interesting too. I read it. I don't think it wasn't in the book, but your World War II, you didn't do the study obviously about the hunger that they did on the soldiers to understand. Was it soldiers? Where they starved them to see what their bodies reacted. That was, I can't imagine, but it was fascinating that the data that came out of that. Yeah, so what they learned from that, this was during World War II. And what was interesting is they're actually conscientious objectors to the war, but they wanted to help the country somehow. So these guys

said they would starve essentially for a year. The idea behind the study is that starvation killed just as many people in Europe as did combat. So they wanted to figure out, okay, how can we prevent starvation and how do we bring starving people back from the brink? So.

They started studying, they starved these 40 some odd guys. And what they found from that is that when you start to lose weight, your body pulls all kinds of tricks to keep you alive. So it'll drop your metabolism. So you're burning fewer calories per day. So your calories go further more or less. It'll even drop your body temperature because that saves calories. It'll also force your brain to start obsessing over food. It'll jack your hunger hormones up. So really,

I mean, this is why fad diets are tricky because you just have this list of foods and then your body goes, okay, I'm going to lower my metabolism. I'm also going to tell you to eat a lot more. So if you're not figuring out how much am I eating per day, like you're just going to inevitably eat more and fall back up to your, where you started or above, right? Cause that was the number of those guys that binge ate afterwards and put on more weight than where they were before they starved. And so again, it's kind of debunked some of that. Hey,

not starvation diets, but those fasting for too long. And I'm sure there's benefits to fasting, but I don't want to go too far down that path because we could probably have another half hour. But, and I do want to be respectful of your time, but I do want to touch on kind of the fitness aspect, right? Cause we've kind of got the mental, we talk about the diet. I mean, to me that just to summarize the diet, right? It's calories in versus calories out, right? Create that deficit and maybe it's the 20 rule that, hey, once you get that under control, then you can maybe optimize the types of calories that you're getting.

Brett Trainor (35:41.762)
But don't make this more complicated than it needs to be. But you know, the last part, then you got into the kind of the fitness, right? And rucking was a new term that I learned, but yeah, maybe again, what I don't want to say best practices or what would you come out of time with men's health to the time writing the book, an average American, how do I approach my fitness to optimize what I'm doing on a daily or weekly basis?

Yeah. Well, I think so I was at men's health for a lot of years. So I had talked to a lot of experts in fitness and wobble, all that stuff. And you know, what I think is interesting as I wrote this book is that we even try and make exercise comfortable, right? It's like the gym is perfectly air conditioned. We're on this like track to nowhere on a treadmill. And even when we lift, we have these machines that like make our movements on this track. And we have these pads and we put our arms on. So it was very bizarre in the grand scheme of time, but when we were in the Arctic, so I eventually.

end up shooting a caribou and to get the meat back to camp, it's uphill five miles along the Tundra. And so I have to pack like a hundred plus pounds of this animal in my backpack and walk back to camp. Well, this was by far the hardest thing that I have ever done. I mean, in my life, full stop, you know, and it got me thinking. So when you look at

why the human body evolved the way it did. There's this famous study from 2004, it's called the Born to Run Study. And it basically found that the reason that humans are built the way we are, with our, you know, we walk on two feet, but we can also really efficient at cooling ourselves. We had all these adaptations that helped us run long distances in the heat. So other animals are a lot stronger than us. They're a lot faster than us, but we're really good at going a really far distance slowly.

So what we would do as we evolved is we'd do this thing called persistence hunting, where we would kind of slowly, but surely track the animal down, eventually it would overheat and then we'd spirit. So, okay, we're born to run. But I'm also thinking as I'm carrying this animal back, it's like, well, okay, you run down the animal. Well, what the hell do you do after you do that? You got to carry the thing back to camp and it is heavy, right? So it made me wonder, okay, well, what's the, what role did caring have in our evolution and why we're built the way we are?

Brett Trainor (37:57.362)
And so when I got back, I followed up with some researchers at Harvard, the people who actually did the born to run study and learned that caring was just as important for us as we evolved. And it's also probably the physical activity that we did most often, because also with gathering, it's like we go out, we get a bunch of heavy stuff, it's food and we take it back to camp. But a lot of people today still run, right? Jogging is a thing you see people do all the time, but how many people for a workout pick up something heavy and carry it for a long distance?

Not many, right? No, no. And I told you, I think I'll fair that I actually bought a 50 pound weighted vest to a couple of months ago. And my wife's like, you look like an idiot. Right. But I'm like, look, if I don't want to run as much as I used to, I mean, if I put the extra weight on there, it would just gotta be a better workout. I didn't look at the science. So I was super excited when I saw your research or your reporting on that. But yeah, we're, we're saying you're ahead of the curve. So I did find.

One group of people who still carry as like a form of to get themselves really, really fit and that is special forces trainings. So in special forces training, rucking, which is walking with a weighted backpack is like the main form of training. Now the beauty of rucking is that it gives you the endurance benefits of running, but without the injury rate. So running's injury rate is anywhere from 20 to I think 70% in any given one year period.

And that's because we have a lot of messed up movement patterns just because the way we now live. But it also gives you a lot of the strength benefits of lifting. So one of the guys that I met, whose name is Jason McCarthy, he runs a company called go rock, he said it's basically lifting for people who hate the gym and cardio for people who hate running. And it gives you those same benefits. Yeah, exactly. And I even met with researchers at the Mayo clinic who are now prescribing rucking to their patients because a lot of people can't run, everyone can walk.

But walking isn't really that hard enough and there's no strength element. So if you just have people rock, you can get a lot done. In a little bit about a little bit of time. And it's, I mean, it's something that we evolved to do, right? Carry weight across distance. It's very simple, very good for us. Yeah. And harder than it seems. Yes. Yes, it is. I'm just curious. Maybe just to follow up to that with, um, cause I used to be in the gym all the time, but I've kind of, you know, more of to, Hey, I'm, I'm outside every day.

Brett Trainor (40:22.05)
you know, try to get out at lunch to break up the day. And it's, it's all outside activities, but it's also all pushups, pullups dips. I mean, is that enough right from a workout standpoint? I guess if you push yourself hard enough just to do bodyweights, or is there more benefits to the actual getting in the gym as well and doing more traditional type of weight lifting, I'm just curious from your perspective. Yeah, I think it depends on your goal. I think there's.

benefits to everything. Like if you're, if you're really trying to push performance, I think you probably need to get into the gym. Like I view the gym personally as this kind of boring, sterile place where I can prepare myself to go do epic shit outdoors better, more or less. So I kind of think about it that way. For me, the reward of working at a gym is not that I get to go work out in a gym more. It's that I get to go be better when I go.

do interesting stuff like that. But I do think just for general health, like body weight stuff, totally enough for the average person. I think that the fitness industry, with the influence of bodybuilding, there's this idea that more muscle is always better. It's like, no, it's not. Like people today are so heavy. And even if it's in the form of muscle, that's not that great either. Like it still puts a lot of excess stress and strain on your body just in different ways. Right. So I do.

So you had in the book with Donnie, right? He's not going to win any marathons, but man, put him outside. He kicked the crap out of anybody else that, you know, you're going to drop out there. Right? Yeah, exactly. Exactly. But I think that your idea of getting outside is really key. And I have a whole section on this in the book about what doses we need in nature and why, and the mental health benefits behind that, like we spend 95% of our time indoors now and that.

is definitely one of the reasons why mental health problems are skyrocketing. We're spending less and less time outdoors every year. So it's like, we need to figure out ways to, and I guess to back up. So one of the messages of this book is my takeaways is that today we so often look for like, what's the one silver bullet? Yeah. But it's look, our lives have changed so much.

Brett Trainor (42:37.33)
over the past hundred years, like we really need to be doing and finding ways to integrate a lot of these ideas I talked about in the book in a way that works for us. I'm not suggesting people totally overhaul their life, but it's like, what are things I can do where I can hit a few different things. So your example of like, I'm going outside. And I'm rocking and I'm doing some body weight stuff, bam, you just hit three things in one shot, you know.

Yeah, and the outside aspect and you get into the book in nature as well and the importance of it. And yeah, when I read that stat, I'm like, holy cow, 95% of our time is indoors. And I'm like, I get it. Right. I mean, how do we get people outside, get outside the, the value. And I had no scientific rationale for Ford. It just made sense. Right. I think we're happy. I'm happier when I get outside, if I'm stuck inside all day, it's awesome. So.

Again, I want to be super respectful of your time. Thank you for doing this. But I do have one question that I asked all my guests and that is, what is one thing that you would highly recommend? It could be personal, professional. What's top of mind right now? I think we covered quite a few today, but I'm just curious if there's something else that we didn't touch on that you'd recommend. Yeah. I think we talked about a few, but I think one for me is like find ways to be grateful. Now for me, it was having this trip that sort of

force me to realize how good I have it. I think we need these moments that force us to realize how good most of us have it today. Now that's not saying the world is perfect and we shouldn't stop like trying to improve our situations, but there's this idea I talk about in the book that basically you can think of as problem creep. The human mind is designed to essentially be a heat seeking missile for problems. But as we, our lives have improved so much over time.

We just keep seeing these like little minutiae things that are just like not a threat to us at all as problems. So it's essentially the science of first world problems. We are really good at identifying problems. We're not good at looking back over 10 years, 50 years, 100 years, 200 years, 2 million years and being like, oh my God, I have it so good. We're just terrible at that. So I think we need these moments that show us, hey, things are pretty good now.

Brett Trainor (44:48.934)
And I should be appreciative because once you're appreciative and grateful for everything you have, I think at least in my own experience, it's made my life so much better because I can just like savor kind of every moment. Yeah. No, I think that's, that's really good advice. And you're right. Even thinking back 20 years, cause I think our, my generation is at least is the last one that's kind of bridging the gap. And you said technology a hundred years, but you know, in seventies, really eighties, we didn't have a ton of it. So there was a lot of outside and a lot.

did have TV, but you know, six channels, right? So we lived in both worlds, but see the advantage of it. So maybe that's part of what the poll is with at least my generation or a few folks saying, hey, how do we become definitely more appreciative and grateful for what we have? Your life will be so much better. So that's a perfect note to end on. And again, I highly encourage folks to pick up the book. We talked quite a bit.

Check out the rest of Michael's writings on his website. And if people want to follow you, obviously we'll add the book to the show notes, but where else can people find some of your other content? Yeah. So the book is called the comfort crisis. It's available everywhere. I write for men's health and outside, and I have a bunch of stuff on my website and that's at Easter You can just go there. I got a newsletter too, that I send out like ideas that are kind of a little more in depth. So yeah.

You can find higher. If any of this resonated with you guys and I highly encourage you to check it out and by the way, he, Michael narrates his own audible book. So if you're more audible than you are hard copy, I think it adds to it when the author does the narration. I know it can be a pain in the ass, but we appreciate her. I appreciated it. Yeah, for sure. And if my voice has annoyed you on this podcast, then I suggest you get the print copy because you'll have eight hours of me, John in your ear.

Yeah, but it's good. It adds, I think it adds especially the dimension when you're talking about the, the track up in the, uh, the ARC ticket, I think just adding that personal touch, man, I felt for you when you were carrying that, that weight out there. Like, I guess I can't complain about those hundred air squats. So anyway, like I said, my, I could probably talk to you for a couple of hours on this, but I really appreciate you spending a little bit of time and yeah, we'll catch up with you in the not too distant future. Yeah, that was super fun. I appreciate you having me on is great.

Brett Trainor (47:09.07)
All right, thanks. Have a great rest of your day. Yep, bye for now.