You get by with a little help from your friends.
Returning to the show is long-time listener Kenny Stanford, cofounder of Grit Fitness down the road here in Texas. Kenny reimagined the gym as a place where friends help friends, and grown-ups get to have recess. Started on a shoestring budget, Kenny built his thriving business in just a few months with a surprising and unconventional approach to fitness.
On this show with Kenny, you’ll learn:
- Why nutrition is the most important part of fitness
- How to use (or not to use) your “cheat meals”
- How Kenny start a thriving gym on a shoestring budget
- What happens when you quit eating Subway
- And much more
How to Build a Gym That People Want to Join
Abel: Thank you so much for coming back on the show, Kenny. There’s a ton to catch up on. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you’ve been up to?
Let me start by saying that I own a small gym in West Columbia, Texas. We’ve got 1,800 square feet. We run about 160 members, but it fluctuates—we lose a few, we gain a few. I try to keep as many as I can.
I started it with $5,000 on a credit card. We went up to the fitness equipment place, and we got as much stuff as we could. We maxed out my credit card. But we had a built-in member base. I looked at the numbers, and I said, “Okay, with rent, paying the electricity, and paying for this equipment on the credit card, here’s how many members we need.”
I was looking into the future, and I was like, “I want to set the prices to where, if this thing does grow some, that I don’t have to bump the prices up.” I wanted to be fair, so I looked at all the pricing in the market and I set my prices.
A lot of people were like, “Hey, that’s too expensive,” because we were charging quite a bit more than what my sister-in-law was charging.
But I was like, “Hey, look, if we’re going to grow this thing, and if it’s ever going to be anything that people are proud of and want to be a part of, I have to charge a fair price.”
It’s funny, some of the people who complained, they had issues with it, but they kept coming. And then they saw that we were going to match that value or exceed it. I tried to exceed the value of what they paid.
Abel: It’s a different business model.
Most gyms know that more than 90% of people will never come, or will come once or twice, and they just buy a bunch of expensive equipment that often doesn’t do anything, but looks fancy, so that more people buy gym memberships. You’re not doing that. It’s different.
No. I’ve been in that situation and I’ve been that guy, who was like, “What is happening right now?”
I felt like I was buying a car and she was just trying to sell me a gym membership. I already wanted the membership, but there were 40 pages I had to sign. I think an underwriter came in. They took blood from me and I had to do a urine sample. Obviously, I’m joking, but it was crazy.
And not only that, I ended up getting burned by it. I wanted out of the thing. In my opinion, it was their issue. And I never got out of it. I paid it off. I only used it for 4 months, but ended up paying it out for 2 years.
Abel: Jeez. So, how do you not get burned out on fitness with something like that, right?
Yeah, absolutely. A lot of the people who come here have very similar stories.
And so back to the beginning, when I was making this place, I thought, “I want to look at it from, what do I want in a gym? What would I want if I was going to a gym?”
I’m not a fitness guru.I'm a regular guy who wants to work out in a safe, clean environment with my friends. Click To Tweet
That, literally, was the base model for our gym. And so I just tried to make every decision based around, “What would you want in a gym? How would you want to be treated as a member of a gym?”
That’s something that we take pride in: If you’re not coming here, we have a system with our coaches, where if you’re not here for a week, you are going to get a message, a text, or a phone call from one of our coaches saying, “Hey, why are you not coming?” It’s not this guilt thing. It has nothing to do with that.
It’s like, “Hey, we care about you. And if there’s something going on, we want to know if we can help or we just need to know if you’re not going to be here. We want to know that you’re okay.”
We only have a handful of people who have been like, “You know what? I went there for a month and that’s just totally not for me.” It’s a very, very small percentage of the people who actually started with us.
Abel: But that’s good, too. If you’re running a gym, a business or anything, you want that percentage.
Like me, as a musician, I know that it’s not for everyone, no matter what style I’m playing. You just need to make it the thing that you think is best for the world.
And oftentimes, that starts with your pain. That’s why I started this show and this whole health thing.
We had some initial success, I think, because of the way that we were cultivating the culture: to be this place where friends come.
We love fitness, we love being healthy, and we want to encourage anybody and everybody, like, “Hey, you can do this.”
What Happens When You Quit Eating at Subway
My parents actually own a restaurant that I manage. And I was eating sandwiches every day… “healthy sandwiches.”
Abel: The food pyramid, baby.
I was doing the best as I could. You know what’s funny? My buddy was talking about this yesterday. We actually used to look at Subway as our healthy option.
Abel: Right. That’s the marketing.
And I actually lost a lot of weight eating Subway. Now, I don’t attribute that to anything that Subway does or puts in their food. It was me restricting my calories.
They serve 6-inch and foot-long. I was eating a 3-inch sandwich and I was taking off the top bun.
Abel: That part was smart, taking off the top bun.
Abel: Because that crap isn’t even bread. I lived in an apartment above a Subway for a while and I was nauseous for 2 years.
Yeah, that’s terrible. So, yeah, Subway was our health food.
We had about 20 to 25 members, and they all bought it. They all did it, and we had insane results. The membership skyrocketed.
We went from having between 20 and 40 members to over 100 in less than a month. And it’s because we started to fill in that gap.
Yeah, you can work out six days a week and still not get the results you want. It’s found in nutrition.
I know in your book, you actually talk about how, “Listen, you don’t have to work out six days a week. You don’t have to work out for an hour when you do work out. Give yourself 10 or 15 minutes at a time, and just really hit it, and get it knocked out.”
What is your experience, as far as fitness goes? I know you were a marathoner. Would you call yourself that?
Abel: I don’t know if I would take “marathoner” on as an identity because I did it so much differently than other people.
Well, let me ask you this. What’s your best marathon time?
Abel: Best marathon time was somewhere around 3 hours and 20 minutes, which is not amazing, but it was in the top 3% of the Austin Marathon for that particular race. I was running with the 3-hour group for a while.
But my cousin ran it in 2 hours and 18 minutes. I think that was at Boston.
So it’s like, you may be a fast human, but my dog is way faster than you, way faster than you’ll ever be. And so being incrementally faster and faster is a fun idea, but at some point, you reach that sweet spot, where you’re like, “I’m having a good time.”
For me, I was mostly running as a meditation, as a way to process a lot of things that I was going through at the time, and I loved it for that. And it was also a chance for me to listen to music for 3 or 4 hours while I went out for a long hike or a long run.
Like you, you’ve set up your business and your approach to fitness more like play, as a social thing. I try to do the same thing with my life. Fitness is something that makes you feel good. It’s a favor to yourself.Fitness is something that makes you feel good. It's a favor to yourself. Click To Tweet
I’ve been a musician playing gigs for 25 years now. It’s a weird world, but there is nothing on earth that will make you feel as good. No substance or thing, will make you feel as good as you feel right after your workout, when you’re just glistening with sweat, all the endorphins are flowing.
That’s something that is so worth it. But I’ll tell you, it doesn’t take 90 minutes a day, or 3 hours a day, or 4 hours, or 18 hours, or whatever.
Today, I worked out for 7 minutes, including the warm-up and cool-down, which is just one of the things you have to do if you want to feel good. You don’t want to all the time, but you have to if you want to feel your best later.
And as I was saying before, nutrition isn’t something that’s optional. Our inner 8-year-olds can believe that we can be entitled to eat ice cream, potato chips and chocolate chip cookies, and all this stuff, all the time. Or that we have a budget that’s built into our lives as humans, guaranteed by the culture and society that we live in. But that’s all marketing spin and nonsense.
So when you start to simplify things, then it’s easier to do them every day. And then in this order, eat veggies (and some fruit in there, too, and fresh foods), a little bit of meat, and healthy fats. Stay away from toxic oil and sugar for the most part, and processed food.
And then when it comes to exercise, just minutes a day, but you need to break a sweat, at a minimum.
You need to break a sweat, and then after you do, your work, to some degree is done. It’s about reaching this threshold, where your body says, “Adapt. Get stronger. Get more fit.” You want to hit that a few times a week, I would say.
But that takes more intensity and discipline than it does just slogging along in cruise mode. That’s what you want to avoid.Adapt. Get stronger. Get more fit. Click To Tweet
I think that’s where we actually help a lot of people because you mentioned that it’s hard. We help people get into a routine because we have set class times. That’s the way the gym works. It’s a set schedule and why the people that have found success here.
We help people get into a routine. While you don’t need to work out an hour every single day, that’s what we encourage, because we know that sometimes it’s a lot easier when you just get into that routine.
And I get it, sometimes that can be a bad thing and we need to break routine, but if it’s a good habit and you’re in a good place, that’s what we want to do.We want to shut down the bad habits and pick up some good habits. Click To Tweet
The biggest thing that I’ve gotten from doing this diet the way that I’ve chosen to do it is the discipline aspect.
When you take control of something in your life that you’ve never, ever, ever had control of before, man, you get empowered to another level.
I remember the first time that I started waking up every day at 5 AM to work out. It’s that feeling again.
It’s like, “I do have control. I can control what I eat. I’m in control.”
You show up at a kid’s birthday party and you’re like, “Well, all they have is cake and pizza, I guess I have to eat it.” No, you don’t. You really don’t. You can, ya know.
What is The Wild Diet?
This is the comeback that I’ve come up with. If you breakdown what The Wild Diet is, and I think you do it on the first page of the book…
Well, what is ‘The Wild Diet’? You tell us.
Abel: I explain it differently every time. Especially, these days.
It’s nutritional defense. It’s what you should have learned, if the world were a good place, about how to be healthy.
But since the world is a cesspool of misinformation and shady characters who are trying to take your good intentions, and then just run them straight to the bank, often at your expense.
I wanted The Wild Diet, as a book, to be the only thing you would ever need to navigate the world—whether you want to be fit, if you want to avoid disease, feel your best, perform at your best. It’s good nutritional defense.
That’s what it is and you don’t really need anything else. I simplified it on purpose.
If you read my first book, it’s an academic review that I wrote at an Ivy League school about evolutionary biology, technology and the human brain, and how all of that relates to music.
There is a lot of precision, I’ll say, in the words that I used to write that book and to create this way of eating.
But it’s a philosophy and it’s meant to be a lantern that leads you through this crazy world, that hopefully, will be just as relevant decades from now, as it is today.
I didn’t come up with this way of eating, our ancestors did. This is the way that wild humans are supposed to eat. This is the way of eating that nature intended, which is working.
If you do use technology, it’s using technology and science to work with nature, not against it.
So philosophically, that’s what it’s all about.
But I would like to ask you, what is The Wild Diet?
Well, when people ask me, my answer is simple because that’s what “The Wild Diet” is, it’s simple. I just give them the definition, the actual definition of “wild.”
I will let them know, “Hey, ‘wild,’ meaning not processed junk, it came from the Earth, and it’s good for you.
And then ‘diet,’ just meaning the way that you eat.
I can tell who has read the book and who hasn’t, because the ones who have read the book, instead of saying, “Yeah, well, it’s not for everybody,” or “What about this?”, they come to me and they say, “Thank you so much for introducing us to this. We’ve lost 10 pounds. We’ve lost 20 pounds. We sleep better. We feel better.”
Abel: Yeah. It has to be one of the only diet books ever that starts off just crapping all over diet books.
Yeah, it’s great.
Abel: It’s a little bit of a joke and there are lots of hidden jokes in there that’ll also be funny later.
So yeah, I would much rather write 1 book about diet, ever, and have people go super deep into it.
Because that’s the way that I wrote it: to put a lot of intention into it rather than churn out a new diet book every year or so.
That’s why we have the problems that we have right now. That’s why we’re in this situation, where everyone’s confused because there’s all of this stuff out there, billions of results for diets of all different kinds, and 95% of them are absolute garbage and bologna.
I wanted the title to be kind of a joke… Obviously, my publisher wanted me to call it “The Wild Diet,” but as soon as you open it up, you realize that this is not a diet book, this is a lifestyle, this is a philosophy, and this is something that you can do for the rest of your life.
It’s not like you’re following me or “The Wild Diet” as a trademarked thing. You’re practicing freedom.
And this is our own little space. I chose the word “wild” very intentionally, because the word “nature” has been trashed. There are a lot of connotations there. And wild has its own problems, but at least, it’s something that’s supposed to represent the innate power of nature, the innate power of the unknown in a lot of ways.
It’s combining the unknown and giving a good nod to that, with the best of what we know of science and technology. And that’s how we can get through all of this, because it’s only getting crazier and it’s happening fast.
So what you’re doing, building the social aspect into fitness and health for people, is what really gets the majority of people to stick with it. Because it’s hard to do it on your own.
I’m a little bit of a freak and I’ve been a performer for a long time, so I am almost always in a different place. It’s hard to have a place where I go regularly. These days I can kind of do it on my own, but I’ve learned over the years, that if you want to commit to something and get a lot better, there’s almost no other way of doing it than to do it with somebody else.
Now, it could just be a mentor, it could be someone who is close to you, who is guiding you, who knows a little bit more. But even better, if you can go to a place, where you show up a few times a week and you get to play with your friends, that’s what we need.
And we talked about that a lot the last time you were on the show, recess for adults.
We don’t even take breaks any more. We don’t take vacations. We’re working all the time, even though we hate our jobs. It doesn’t make any sense. Let’s be humans again.
What to Do About Cheat Meals
Yes. I want to dive back into something that you were talking about and something that I had mentioned earlier… I want to hear from the man. You wrote the book. You gave us the information. What does your diet look like? What’s your perspective on cheat meals?
I know how you lay it out in the book. And again, you’re all about freedom, so you left it open enough to where people can make their own decisions. And the way that I read it because I’ve read it several times, is “Well, what is the cheat meal for me?”
So the way that I’ve looked at it this year is, “I don’t want to put anything in my body that contradicts my values and what I believe is good for me. I don’t want to purposely put junk in just because I like it.”
I just want to hear your take on it because I’m sure you cheat. What do you cheat with and where do you draw the line?
Abel: Well, if you read the book and my work closely, I say, “Free meals are something that can help and you can have them.”
And you’d be surprised with what you can get away with, especially if you’re younger or you’re physically active, that sort of thing.
When I was younger, and more physically active, and was trying to bulk up, for example, man, I needed some of those free meals.
But I’ll say this, when I first started, I wanted to see if I could get away with eating junk and I could. I noticed that if I was eating cereal with milk versus—and this is while I was running a lot—a donut or a cinnamon bun that I would get at a hotel or something like that, in the morning, at one of those buffets before my workout, there wasn’t a big difference. They were almost the same thing.
These health foods, like this whole wheat toast with peanut butter versus a Danish, I’ll take the Danish every time.
I experimented with that a little bit, but it got old fast. And it only lasted a few months, maybe a year, until my tastes truly changed.
And I think as soon as your tastes really flip, something else happens physiologically in your body, and fast food doesn’t smell good to me. It smells rancid.
Dr. Pepper doesn’t taste good to me. It tastes like chemicals. But people who were addicted to Dr. Pepper, used to love it, and then, they followed “The Wild Diet” for a few weeks, and after that detox that you were talking about, all of a sudden, it tastes like poison to them.
That’s where I want people to be. That’s where I want people to go, is be free of that, whatever that is.
And I’m not saying I know what it is. I don’t think people in the industry even know what it is, but they know what its effect is. They know that when they put wheat into something, it makes you hungrier and it hurts your gut. It does something to you that they want, so you buy more and often you get fatter.
For me, the older I get, the more I realize how important defense is.
And so I see it that way, where if you’re out on the road, you don’t really know who’s cooking your food. And I’ve spent almost all my life on the road, in one way or another. You’ve got to be careful. It’s damage control mode. You’re fueling.
I’ve got a truck that takes diesel, if I decide to put regular gas in it, because I’m low, it doesn’t work out. And that’s how I see it.
If sometimes I “cheat” or eat freely… I don’t call it cheating… I eat freely from things that are prepared with real food “The Wild Diet” way.
And so I eat my fair share. I ate 3 cookies last night. Now, they weren’t huge. They were little cookies. This is one of the tricks. Alyson and I makes a ton of things, we have little spoons, we have little bowls.
It might surprise people to know that one of my biggest treats is cereal. And I’ll have oats in it, or I’ll have quinoa, or buckwheat, or something like that. It’s usually a little bit sweet, and I put it over my Greek yogurt, or it could be some sort of kefir, or something that’s dairy or coconut based.
But I basically make myself a sundae, except all of the ingredients in it are fresh, are real. I know what they are and I don’t feel hungrier after I eat it.
If I go out, and I try anything, and it makes me hungry, then I do my best to not eat that.
I have a few foods that I like to enjoy: Beans, bean-chips, popcorn. There are some salty, crunchy things that I enjoy and I try to stay away from the bad fried oils, GMOs, corn oil, soy, a lot of other just super low quality stuff.
We almost always bring food on the road, and quite a bit of it. We’re on the road for over 10 days, just this past month and we ate out 3 times. So it saves a ton of money.
A lot of times will lose a little bit of weight, which is awesome, because I was drinking the whole time, too. I was having a great time, and so that’s part of it.
I will say, if I know that I’m going to enjoy a bit of wine or some gluten-free beer with friends, or vodka, or tequila, or something like that, I try not to cheat with food. I try to eat really clean, so that I can have my fun in other ways.
It’s important to never give up your freedom. Don’t be obsessive about any of this.
Really, I’m a picky eater, because I have super high standards, and people will make fun of you for that. I used to be the type of person where you just put anything in front of me and I’d eat it. There are some dogs like that, then there are other dogs who sniff it first and find out what it is, and I want to be the second kind.
And it’s important that you train that skill, because we’re going to need it. It’s going to be harder and harder to tell, once they start growing beef legs in labs, that start being sold at Subway and McDonald’s and all these other franchises… That is not far away.
I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re already eating a lot of meat that is mislabelled. It’s not the thing that you think it is.
It’s a messy world. You have got to practice good defense. You have to put your shields up. When you go outside, have super high standards for what you eat.
I look at it this way, if you’re on the road and you have nothing to eat, but you do have a couple of packets of coconut oil or something like that, you could literally just have that.
I’ll have a coconut, or avocado, or just not really eat anything, or I’ll put heavy cream in my coffee, and it’s wonderful. You’re running on clean fuel.
And especially the older that I get, the more I realize how important it is to not overeat. You can do some serious damage, especially if you overeat often or regularly. That’s when the damage happens, when you’re redlining from a blood sugar perspective. And certainly, when you’re eating a bunch of toxins, it’s like you don’t feel good after that.
If you don’t feel good 10 minutes, 2 hours, or a day after you eat, then don’t eat that next time… if you don’t want to feel that way.
It’s not like I get stricter, but I get more precise with the things I choose to enjoy and I trust the world a little bit less.
Yeah, absolutely. I like that.
Abel: What else you got?
I put out to our members on our Facebook members-only group… I let them know that I was going to be talking to you today, and if they had any questions. And so I wanted to pitch some of their questions to you and get your take on them.
We have some pretty serious obstacle course racing athletes here, and so they had some questions about how to fuel specifically for a race.
How to Fuel Yourself for The World’s Toughest Mudder
We’re doing The World’s Toughest Mudder this year, me and a group of the guys here at the gym, and one of the guys wants your opinion on, “How do you prepare before the race and then how do you fuel at the race?”
Do you have any suggestions or tips. It’s a 24-hour race. Obviously, we’re going to have to be consuming something. What is your opinion on that?
Abel: Well, I’ll start right here. What you want, just in terms of expectations, isn’t to be the biggest you’ve ever been, if it’s a race. You want the best power to weight ratio. Leaning down before competition is a great idea.
For me, the past couple of years I’ve been around 170 to 175. I’m a little bit lower than that right now, but when I was doing marathons, I was like 148.
That makes you a ton faster, if you can drop your body fat or even drop your muscle mass, but maintain the same strength. That’s going to give you a huge advantage.
So that will mean also, that you need to eat a lot less on the course. It’s like you can have that “wiry, old man, I’ll run a 100 miles” strength and stamina. And that’s a different type of training. That’s what I try to go for.
Because the other side, and I’ve done this too, is when you’re running, mile after mile, and when you start getting cramps at mile 16, or you’re a little low on energy, you squeeze this packet of pure sugar into your mouth, that also has a blast of caffeine, and a bunch of other things.
And you can just keep on gunning it, but like in all those race car movies, when you hit the nitrous super hard, you hit the turbo mode, you’re going to blow your engine at some point. It’s not good for you. It’s doing damage.
You might be faster. You probably will be faster. I’ll be honest about that, but it’s not worth it.
And so you can fuel with all those sugars, and all that stuff that’s marketed to you, but I would say, “Okay, so first, you want to be hydrated.”
The thing that kills most people, is not being hungry, but being dehydrated.
How long is the race?
The one that we’re talking about specifically, this one’s a 24-hour. We’re trying to go as far as we can in 24 hours.
Abel: I wrote a blog post about when I did my Krav Maga belt test which wound up being 7 or 8 hours long. I have a blog post that outlines what I ate that day, and some of the supplements that I experimented with, and other things like that.
But I’ll say, “You want to hydrate first.” Think about that first.
I take trace minerals. There are some that you can just pour into filtered water. It makes it taste a lot better, but also if you imagine drinking from a spring, where it’s been filtering through rock for a long time. Our water should have minerals in it, and it’s been stripped from most of it.
There’s a lot of nutrition and electrolytes in that, too. You can get the pills that are basically trace mineral electrolytes, but you want to focus on magnesium, sodium, and potassium. You have to keep all of that in balance or else you’re going to feel off.
And then from a sugar perspective, if you’re not eating much sugar, then you shouldn’t need a ton, but it’ll help. Sugars and starch, I’ll always go for sweet potatoes, maybe the day of, maybe the day before, but they’ll fill you up fast. They’ll fill you up faster than white rice, or oats, brown rice, quinoa, things like that. If you feel like you need the carbs, then that’s a great option.
Also, if you’re going for 24 hours, you don’t want the fiber either. So instead of having greens, maybe a green juice would be great. I use that as a recovery drink a lot of the time.
Obviously, you don’t want big things in your stomach. So normally, I would say vegetables, fruit and fiber are a great thing to have because most people are sedentary. But if you’re rocking out for 24 hours, it’s all about getting quick access to that fuel. So you can dispose of a lot more sugar than you otherwise would.
Having something that’s like a veggie fruit juice cocktail or something like that to give you some quick energy might help. But you don’t want to load up on fructose.
You can overthink anything. It’s just like, you’ll pretty much eat the same way.
You’ll want to have even higher standards for what you eat, because if you’re out there, and you’re eating pizza, and Snickers, and what have you, you’re going to be inflamed, and that’s going to make you slower, and more likely to get injured.
So eat super clean and fuel up as much as you can. When I’m going hiking or on something that’s pretty gruelling, I always take packets of, instead of sugary goo, I’ll take coconut oil, coconut manna or coconut butter. It’s basically just pulverized coconut that tastes so good and it’s got a little bit of sugar in it, but not too much. It’s nice and sweet, super filling. It’s, I want to say, 200 calories, and you can just kind of suck it right down, but it’ll fill you up for almost a whole meal when you’re on the road.
Little packets of nut butter, things like that, or if you want sugar, honey isn’t bad. Some of those sugary ones are starting to get more natural. Just stay away from the ones that are obviously bad for you, that are advertised on television.
Basically, don’t eat anything that’s advertised on television, is another great rule to follow.
I like that. From a digestion standpoint though, that’s one of the things that I think the guys are nervous about. You mentioned stay away from fiber. Is that the biggest thing to stay away from? The other stuff is obvious, the packaged junk, nothing on TV, I get that.
Obviously, there are choices that we can make that would not be optimal, even though they’re wild. So fiber is probably the biggest one?
Abel: Well, you don’t have to completely avoid fiber, but you don’t want to have a full belly.
Because you’re going to be full of nerves, too. You’re not hungry in the same way when you’re really pushing yourself. You eat more for energy. You won’t want a salad. You might want a banana though.
You’ll be surprised by the things that you crave. Bananas are awesome. Bananas and nut butter. That’s a high energy food that also has some potassium in it. Sweet potatoes, avocados is a nice one because they’re rich in energy. It could be that sugary type energy, but it also has quite a bit of fat, too.
And so if you’re mostly fat adapted, and you’re not redlining for 24 hours, which you just can’t anyway, you’re going to be burning fat most of the time and you’ll want some sugar to replace it, the extra energy that you use when you do those hill sprints, or when you go over something that’s really hard, or when you do something that’s very fast.
But for the most part, you just want to keep on chugging and eat the way that you normally do, minus the fibrous stuff. Oats are okay. I like oats when I’m racing, too. It seems to work pretty well for me. Not everyone, though.
Everyone tolerates carbs a little bit differently, but if you’re running for 24 hours, then you can definitely have some.
Why Can’t I Eat Gluten Anymore?
Okay. Yeah, I like that. Here’s another question that we got, that was not necessarily race related or anything like that.
They mentioned they didn’t notice any sort of issues or gluten intolerance before the Wild Diet, but after they did the Wild Diet pretty hardcore for 30, 60, or 90 days, and they added some gluten back in their system, they started to find some issues.
What are your thoughts on that?
Abel: A lot of people blame me for that, in a joking way, but I’ve asked a few doctors on my show that question, “What do you think is happening?”
And the way that I see it, and this is an oversimplification, as always, is your body is damaged by hyperpalatable foods, by chemicals, by wheat, and gluten, and various things from the inside out. And so your intestines, the way that you absorb food, if they’ve been blasted with processed food for a while, basically the tips of some of the biological machinery that we have gets sheared off, gets damaged, and it opens up your blood to having foreign substances in it too, and then it’s a whole disaster.
Now, when you start to heal that, when you stay away from not just the gluten in modern wheat and the gliadin, but also the dough conditioners, and the aluminum, and the other weird stuff… And the bleach that they put on it when they treat the flour.
You take those things away, you take away MSG, Monosodium glutamate, which is an excitotoxin, and basically neurotoxic to your brain, all of a sudden, your brain works a little bit differently when it’s not blasted with all that stuff. You have a brain in your gut also. That’s affected.
Something changes. Like I said, Dr. Pepper doesn’t taste good anymore.
Rancid oils at the fair, or just by a fast food place, or at a truck stop, it makes me feel a little nauseous, it’s not appetizing. That’s not what you want.
So some healing is happening… The way I see it, is you’re going to a place of higher sensitivity. You can taste more, and I think that’s because you’re avoiding things that are super hyperpalatable. You’re avoiding that hyper-stimulus, if that makes sense.
Yeah, it does make sense. Then, let me ask you this… This is what I get asked a lot. When you talk about, “It doesn’t taste good anymore,” so I’m going to ask you, Abel, “Abel, at the fair, whatever your favorite fair food used to be, you can say you would taste that and it’s not something that would excite you anymore?” That’s what the food does, right?
Abel: Yeah. Oh, it’s built for it.
Well, you know my favorite fair food was always the Italian sausages that they were frying up with those onions. Oh, man. With mustard, that stone ground mustard, that was always my favorite.
But then, of course, there’s the fried dough. And we would have fried dough every year up in the Northeast. I know that there are funnel cakes and all sorts of basically the same thing. But any fried dough. It’s also pizza. It’s also most of the food that we eat today. It’s Subway, too.
I haven’t had something like fried dough in many years… If I go to other countries, I might have a bite of whatever their equivalent of fried dough is, or I might try a little bit of something exotic, if I’m in Asia, or whatever. It’s not like I avoid all fried food always. I might try a little bit of it.
But the way that I see it now, I have had my fair share of almost every food there is. It’s not like there’s fried dough that I haven’t tried.
It’s like, “But this guy has the best fried dough!” Come on, right?
It’s like, “You have never tried French fries like this.” Yes, I have.
At some point, the box is checked, and now I’m much more interested in not ruining myself. I’m much more interested in not ruining my palate.
I remember the way I felt after going to the fair, too.
I remember the way I felt when we didn’t have much money growing up, and so, we hardly ever ate out. And one of my first times eating out, I think when I was around 7 or 8 years old, we went to this greasy diner, George’s Diner.
I ate a bunch of greasy breakfast sausage, I think, and some hash browns, and all this other fried stuff. It was great. I was going hog wild. Then I barfed immediately in the diner bathroom, because all that food, all that grease.
My body was used to eating the real foods that my mom and dad were preparing for me at home.
Just don’t forget that. Your body is still the same as it was then. That’s the same thing as a cheat day. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Don’t believe that you’re different from everyone else and the rules don’t apply to you—they apply to everyone, and sometimes, it smacks you in the face.
It’s always best to practice, like you said, “Discipline during your everyday life,” and that will really help.
We’re coming up on time, do you want to end with one more question?
Yeah. I think that wraps it up.
Abel: Sweet, man. Well, Kenny, it’s been fantastic talking to you and a lot of people can learn from your journey, because what I want people to take away, is not just that the Wild Diet as a concept or as a lifestyle works for health.
Hopefully, what I try to tell people gets through: “This is your life. Practice freedom.”
Because there are a lot of people, especially marketers, who are trying to take it away from you, and they’re trying to take away your own free thought.
When you cloud everyone’s mind with all this misinformation—in health and fitness, or otherwise—it’s just so disheartening for someone like me, who has a lot of the answers, and has said them so many times, and the answers are out there.
And not that I have all the answers, but just like sufficient answers that could help a lot of people from a health and fitness perspective.
But there is so much more there, once you put that into action. It’s like you get more energy, you get a second wind.
You start practicing freedom in other areas of your life, and all of a sudden, you don’t just have your own gym, you’re building a new one, starting up these five other ones. And also, you’re probably in the best shape of your life, and that’s how I feel.
It’s like you start checking these other boxes, instead of eating fried dough. It’s like, “No, I got a six-pack like 7 or 8 years ago or something like that. I don’t really care, but I don’t want to get less fit than I am now. I’d like to keep that and keep developing these other skills, build other businesses.” Right?
That’s the thing that’s really exciting, that’s what you’re doing now, and I can’t wait to see what you do next.
So thank you so much for coming on, man.
Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. It was fun.
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