Take a morning walk or jog on an empty stomach. When you score some cardio while fasting, you burn more fat and calories than the same exercise later in the day.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewingDr. Gregory Charlop.
Dr. Greg improves the lives of retired athletes and middle-aged professionals with high-performance wellness solutions. He’s a Stanford-trained telemedicine physician, speaker, author, and startup consultant. Dr. Greg is regularly featured on FOX, CBS, NBC, and Yahoo News.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?
The funny thing is, I think I first joined the wellness movement when I was around nine or ten. My parents love telling this story. I was invited to one of those elementary school birthday skating parties. You know, the ones where you skate for an hour and then head to the party room for cake and presents. Well, when it was my turn for a slice of cake, I refused. I told my friend’s mom that it was too unhealthy!
In fourth grade, I started researching artificial colors, sweeteners, and vitamin supplements. In sixth grade, I was on a local TV program arguing with our school’s principal about Nutrasweet.
Oddly enough, when I was in medical school and during my first few years in the hospital, my interest in nutrition and wellness waned. It’s a sad testimony about the lack of emphasis on wellness in our healthcare system.
Thankfully, my obsession with health and wellness returned after my friend introduced me to the concept of anti-aging medicine. After reading about it, I realized that I was born to spread the word about how proper food and lifestyle choices can turn back the clock and give us more healthy years. Now, I work with athletes and other high-performing individuals to help them stay young and prevent chronic disease.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I recently gave a lecture to some high-powered venture capitalists and startup founders from my rental car in a McDonald’s parking lot.
Here’s the story. I live in Texas now, but I had an assignment at a children’s hospital in California. On my last day of hospital duty, I was told that I had a COVID exposure. While it was unlikely that I caught the virus (I was wearing lots of protective equipment), I didn’t want to risk infecting people by flying home on an airplane. So, I decided to rent a car and drive back to Texas from California.
The trouble was, I had this lecture that I agreed to give. It was scheduled smack dab in the middle of my drive home through the desert. I was in some small town and had poor cell phone coverage. So, I decided to pull into the McDonald’s parking lot, throw on my best polo, and give my talk. I’m not sure whether anyone will remember what I said, but I’m confident they’re all telling their colleagues about their lecture from behind a fast-food restaurant!
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or takeaway did you learn from that?
Not getting a haircut before the first round of COVID lockdowns!
So, my book Why Doctors Skip Breakfast dropped in the early COVID era. TV stations around the country started calling me for interviews about anti-aging medicine, the pandemic, and athletic performance. But, I was new to TV and didn’t realize how important appearance is for television shows.
My hair was out of control, and I didn’t know what to do. Since I wanted to look professional, I couldn’t wear a hat. I tried gallons of hair gel, and the result was a disaster. It was stressful then, but now it’s funny to look back at those old TV interviews. I was Dr. COVID Hair.
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
I’m the author of one of the leading wellness and anti-aging books, Why Doctors Skip Breakfast: Wellness Tips to Reverse Aging, Treat Depression, and Get a Good Night’s Sleep. I’ve been featured all over TV and in the news. I regularly speak at health conferences. And, I have a telemedicine practice for athletes and elite middle-aged professionals. I guess you could say that I live this stuff.
My big contribution, and my ultimate goal, is to show you that you have more control over your health than you realize. Easy dietary changes, a bit more exercise, better sleep, and the proper supplements can add years to your life and more life to your years. It doesn’t take much to turbocharge your athletic performance and enhance your success at work.
I think a lot of people believe that frailty, fatigue, and brain fog are their destiny. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Vibrant health is easier than it seems.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
It sounds cheesy, but I would have to say my parents. From a young age, they’ve always supported and believed in me. They said that I should find a dependable profession and then use that as a platform to follow my dreams. I took their advice, and they were right.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
We often feel that advice doesn’t apply to us. I don’t need to worry about heart disease, I’m young, and my heart is fine. Drinking isn’t a problem for me; I’ve never been arrested. I don’t need to wear a helmet when I ride a bike; that’s for the other guys. Unfortunately, we have an incredible ability to deny risk and assume that we’re safe from our dangerous habits.
The next hangup is figuring that we’ll get to something tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes. I’m a master of this excuse. I hate going through my mail. So, I throw it in a pile and plan to open it tomorrow. That tomorrow stretches into weeks. You should see the mountain of mail I finally dealt with this week!
Finally, we rationalize that if we can’t do something regularly, it’s not worth bothering at all. For example, why workout today if we won’t be able to exercise again tomorrow? This is my favorite blockage to break because once you try a healthy habit a couple of times, you usually feel excited and want to do it more and more. I experienced this myself when I decided to eat a wider variety of vegetables. I experimented with arugula and golden beets, and now I can’t wait to try out the next exotic veggie.
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)
There’s a lot of low-hanging fruit out there in the health world (if you’ll pardon the pun). I love these types of easy tweaks because folks can follow them. My five favorites are:
- Drink more coffee. I saved my best for first! I love coffee. Coffee helps protect your heart, reduces your risk of certain types of cancer, improves athletic performance, boosts mood, and may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Enjoy more herbs and spices. These tasty treats are nutrition powerhouses. Go crazy and sprinkle oregano, turmeric, and garlic like there’s no tomorrow.
- Eliminate juice. Unfortunately, lots of folks think juice is a health food. It is not. Instead of apple or orange juice, eat the whole fruit.
- Practice gratitude. Be intentional about saying thank you. Be thankful when good things happen — no matter how small.
- Take a morning walk or jog on an empty stomach. When you score some cardio while fasting, you burn more fat and calories than the same exercise later in the day.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?
You know, the funny thing is that exercise isn’t all that great for weight loss. For example, a woman jogging for an hour would only burn off approximately one Twinkie’s worth of calories. If you want to burn off a large order of French Fries, you’ll have to spend all day on the treadmill! But, exercise does have many other health benefits, including improved mood (less depression), reduced risk of chronic diseases like osteoporosis, and you will live longer. While that morning jog may not have a dramatic impact on your weight, you’ll feel happier and enjoy more time with your grandkids.
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
If you want to add regular exercise to your daily routine, I applaud you! Besides adequate sleep and proper nutrition, there is nothing better for your health. While I can’t recommend specific exercises, here is some general guidance.
Be sure to pick exercises that you’ll actually do. I know this sounds obvious, but there’s no point deciding to run if you hate running. Instead, choose something you enjoy, like cycling, tennis, weightlifting, golf, or yoga. That exercise bike you hang your clothes on in the garage ain’t doing you any good.
As a general rule, it is best to try a mixture of cardio and resistance exercises. In other words, run, swim, or cycle for cardio and supplement that with some weightlifting or medicine balls. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great way to improve your health and boost your stamina. HIIT is a powerful weapon in the battle against old age.
Finally, I encourage you to get support. It’s tough for most people to exercise alone. Go out and form a socially-distant walking group. Find regular tennis buddies. Stock up weights in your garage and invite friends over. Look for an online personal trainer who will teach you and hold you accountable. At the very least, hop on YouTube and watch videos about yoga, resistance bands, or cardio exercises at home.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
We need to reframe how we look at sleep. Unfortunately, too many of us wear sleep deprivation as a badge of honor. We stay up late to write that report and then brag the next day about how little we slept. Pulling all-nighters is viewed as a sign of toughness.
As a society, we need to place more value on sleep. When we’re well-rested, we perform better at work and school. Sleep helps protect us from cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. Get enough sleep, and we’re less likely to crash our cars. Athletes perform better on the field. Some experts even believe that the reason teens are so difficult is that they’re sleep-deprived! And most importantly, sleep deprivation shortens our lives.
It’s time that we roll up our sleeves and tackle this problem. I propose that we start schools later, particularly in middle and high school. We must change our cultural view of sleep and hold it in the same regard as fitness and a healthy diet. And, we need to educate people about the proper techniques to improve our sleep.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
I love this quote from Psalms: “Do not cast me away at the time of old age; when my strength fails, do not forsake me.” I shudder every time I read it. As a society, I feel like we don’t do all we should to honor and support our elders. So many of our seniors are forgotten, without love or companionship. In addition, this quote reminds me of the frailty that may await us all.
My visceral reaction to this verse led me to create my last two startups. In 2019, I founded a real estate project to help the elderly and disabled find affordable alternative housing options. We explored possibilities like co-housing (i.e., the Golden Girls) and high-tech tiny homes. Now, my focus is on anti-aging medicine. Thanks to some recent developments from Harvard, MIT, and UCLA, we have a better grip on what causes aging and how to prevent it. Intermittent fasting, sleep, proper supplements, and modern technology can help us ward off the harmful effects of Father Time.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
That’s an easy one. Tim Ferriss. His book, The 4-Hour Workweek, was a game changer for me. As odd as it sounds, that book gave me permission to leave my linear career path and pursue my dreams. I’d love to thank him and get his take on life goals.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
You can read my latest blog posts or message me from my website:
I’m also very active on LinkedIn and YouTube
https://www.linkedin.com/in/gregorycharlop/Gregory Charlop, Wellness MD
Featured on FOX, ABC, KTLA, and CBS. Are you a retired athlete (recreational and professional) looking to improve your…www.youtube.com