Avoid “all or nothing” thinking! We live in the age of immediacy. Today, the prevailing mindset seems to be: “I want something. I want all of it now. How do I get all of this as soon as possible?” With the amount of information available, it is hard to appreciate the value of patience. There is also an obsession with perfection overnight. This can be incredibly harmful thinking when it comes to making changes- in how you eat, implementing a new workout routine, and fostering or nurturing relationships. If you are committing to changing your behavior you must accept the fact it will not happen overnight, and enjoy the journey.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Vincent Esposito. Dr. Esposito is a graduate University of Bridgeport College of Chiropractic. He is a board-certified chiropractor in the state of New York, and has a Master’s of Science degree in Human Nutrition. In addition to working with privately with others, Dr. Esposito is a co-founder of Evok Health and co-host of The Art of Eating Podcast. He is also in the process of writing his first cookbook.
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?
Sure! I grew up in New York City, the son of Italian-American parents, so as you can imagine food was a major part of my life from an early age. I used to watch my mom cook daily, but never actually got in the kitchen myself until I was much older.
Fast-forward, and I’m at college playing baseball, trying to put in extra work to be as good a player as I can be. I tried to make good decisions when I could, always creating new salads when they had options available, but I gained weight anyway. Between my freshman and senior years, I went from 170 lbs. to 195 lbs. I also started developing some gut issues I never had before. Friends of mine and I would joke how the college food would just “run through you,” so I figured it was normal and did not think twice about it. Little did I know at the time, it was consuming a lot of poor quality foods and carbohydrates that were readily available, not thinking about the consequences.
When I went to chiropractic school, it was the first time I lived alone, which meant it was finally time for me to learn how to cook. Knowing only what I’ve learned in (mostly) traditional Italian cooking, I began making bulky meals filled with pasta, couscous, and other simple carbohydrates. I noticed those same digestive problems from college were not going away.
The silver lining over those first two years of chiropractic school was that I was able to teach myself the basics of cooking. I challenged myself to cook all my meals in under an hour, as I had to spend most of my time studying and staying on top of my classes.
During those first two years of chiropractic school, I dove deeper into anatomy and physiology, learning how the gut works and the intricate biochemistry that allows our bodies to run like well-oiled machines. I thought learning the musculoskeletal and neurologic systems would have been most interesting to me during my time in school, but over those first two years, I discovered my true passion was biochemistry, and, more specifically, how you can alter it through nutrition and lifestyle factors.
This led to me deciding to pursue a concurrent Master’s degree in nutrition, where I was able to dive deeper into those topics and learn from truly gifted people on these topics. I recognized this was my true passion, and something I wanted to pursue as a career.
Gone were the simple carbohydrates: the pastas, the breads, the white rice, etc. I did away with dairy (although I was never too fond of it and rarely consumed it to begin with). I began replacing simple sugar with honey, coconut nectar, and pure maple syrup (used sparingly). I began to consume more greens, vegetables, and whole foods. I eliminated all processed foods. I stopped buying conventionally raised produce and meats, and transitioned to organic and locally raised foods. I focused on being more plant-based, limiting my meat consumption to only 2–3 times per week. I began preparing all sauces and condiments from scratch, so I knew exactly what was going into the dishes I was preparing.
Lo and behold, things began to change. Over about a 6-month span of consistently sticking to these habits and fine-tuning them as I learned more, I was able to drop twenty pounds! The digestive issues I was experiencing for the better part of six years were gone within the first 2–3 weeks!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
It has taken turns I never would have thought, that’s for sure! It’s funny though, in college, a close friend of mine and I were really into sports and talk radio. We wanted to start a show through the school’s radio station, but our schedules never worked out. I was on the baseball team, and he played football and ran track. We did end up starting a blog though as a second option.
But late in 2018, I got the urge to start something in the audio realm. I did not have any experience, and I knew that I could not carry a show by myself. I was lucky enough to meet one of my girlfriend’s best friends from college, who happen to graduate naturopathic school the same time I finished my chiropractic degree, and decided to give her a call and see if she was interested.
February 2019, we got our podcast, The Art of Eating, up off the ground, and we have had so much fun doing it! I would have never gotten the urge if it wasn’t for my friend from college, and I think of the show as a spiritual successor to the blog, even if it has nothing to do with sports!
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
I’m still making them! But I think that’s the point of right? It is the best way to learn going forward! I will say, when we first started the podcast, our first recording was terrifying! I’ve always hated public speaking (and still do). I remember, even though we were just recording stories about ourselves, I was sweating on a Skype call with my co-host. It was uncontrollable, I started fidgeting. I could not believe how nerve-racking it was!
Even though I knew no one would ever hear the recording, it felt like there were thousands of people listening. This happened for our first 5 or 6 episodes, all of which we scrapped and rerecorded before we launched the podcast. When we finished and listened back, we decided it sounded awful, and we had to invest in better recording equipment.
By that time, we started to find our own voice and developed a more conversational tone. We both laugh at each other throughout recordings now, and it’s more apparent how comfortable we are in front of an open mic compared to when we launched.
I think the lesson though is to not be afraid to try new things. So many times, whether it is myself, a friend, a loved one, or someone I work with, the first few weeks of making a change is the hardest. But if you have a goal or dream in mind, treat it like a learning experience, and don’t beat yourself up about making mistakes. There’s peaks and valleys on every journey, so enjoy the ride!
But we still have the original audio file, and we have flirted with the idea of releasing it as our 100th episode!
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?
So I am a doctor with a Master’s degree in Human Nutrition, and along with my background in sports and fitness. I had the privilege of working under my strength and conditioning coach in college as part of the work-study program. I learned so much about rehab, proper training techniques, scheduling, and recovery. Working with him is what propelled me to apply to chiropractic school in the first place, as my initial goal was to get into sports rehabilitation.
However, I think why I can resonate with those I work with is because I had my own health struggle, and I understood that drastic changes overnight are not going to be sustainable. It took me about 6 months to lose the weight and fix my own gut issues. Even now, whether it is on the podcast or working with others, I pride myself on giving advice or information I would use myself if I were in their shoes. I also give those I work with open access to me, so if they want recipes, advice, or help reading a nutrition label on the fly, we can be in contact quickly, and you can get the answers you need.
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?
Both of my parents have been greatly supportive through my process, as I still am trying to figure things out. They have both been behind me getting out there, making a name for myself, and following my own path. I went to college with literally no direction whatsoever, other than knowing I was going to play baseball. I think giving me the freedom to test the waters and come to a conclusion myself was important for me to find my own purpose and drive.
Also, I am really lucky to have an incredibly encouraging inner circle and girlfriend, all of which are especially supportive, even if they like poking fun at my interviewing skills from time to time. All of them have reached out in one form or another for advice, and I’m happy to answer any health and wellness questions they might have.
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?
It might sound counterintuitive, but we live in an age where there is too much information. When it comes to figuring out the best choice or choices for a healthy, nutritious lifestyle, information is at our fingertips 24/7. The sheer amount of content available is simply impossible to keep up with for any individual. This is even more evident in the health world, where key words like “diets,” “eating clean,” or “wellness” are plastered everywhere. I think this is making it harder than ever for consumers to discern what it worth trying and what is not without some direction.
The second is trying to do too much too quickly. This is where crash diets fall short. They restrict way too many things too quickly, and often times they are simply unrealistic and not sustainable long-term. Often, many crash dieters do not end up even reaching the desired end result, and gloss over the fact that these diets do not work long-term. In fact, studies show dieters tend to gain even more weight over time! Instead, aim to change the paradigm by creating long-term, sustainable health practices that can be built upon in the months and years to come.
Finally, not having a clear, defined plan with appropriate goals can really stunt progress. Especially from day to day, if you are not planning things ahead of time, or at least have a schedule and planned out grocery list, it is very easy to fall behind. The reality is, it is virtually impossible to consistently eat right if you are constantly eating at restaurants or ordering in. You are going to have to get in the kitchen yourself if you want to make changes that will stick long-term.
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.)
First: Keep a food diary! This is seriously one of the simplest things you can do, but it makes a HUGE difference. Writing down everything you put in your mouth will make you less likely to pick up that candy bar in the office or bag of chips at the gas station. Often, many people forget about these snacks, and they could be a major reason for being unable to lose weight or improve their health! Maintaining a food diary and being honest with yourself (because you will only hurt yourself if you don’t) helps provide the motivation to say “no” to those empty calories that are inhibiting you on your journey to better health. Did you know that if you have a food sensitivity, it can take anywhere from 24–72 hours to have symptoms? I don’t know about you, but I can’t tell you what I ate three days ago. Logging what you eat allows you to track and retrace your steps. It also gives your healthcare provider useful information he or she can use to alter and customize treatment plans to get you the best results possible.
Second: Have a plan and understand why you want to change. Outline each day, week, and month, and set smaller goals to reach at each checkpoint. You must have a practical, easy-to-follow plan to guide you on your journey. Without a plan, it becomes too easy to fall back into old habits quickly. Whatever your motivation is, write it down and use that propel you through those harder days. This motivation will help you implement and sustain the positive changes you are making.
Third: Avoid “all or nothing” thinking! We live in the age of immediacy. Today, the prevailing mindset seems to be: “I want something. I want all of it now. How do I get all of this as soon as possible?” With the amount of information available, it is hard to appreciate the value of patience. There is also an obsession with perfection overnight. This can be incredibly harmful thinking when it comes to making changes- in how you eat, implementing a new workout routine, and fostering or nurturing relationships. If you are committing to changing your behavior you must accept the fact it will not happen overnight, and enjoy the journey.
Fourth: Plan your meals ahead of time! Creating a meal plan will minimize stress and help keep you on track. Many people just follow cravings to tell them when to eat. Instead, start tuning into your body, and plan when to eat around that. This may seem strange, but look at food as a tool for healing. Most people do not think this way at all, and instead just follow their cravings. We get wrapped up in the clutter and business of the day and end up picking some food up or ordering in last minute. Instead of looking at food as an afterthought, start to think of food as nurturing. Take charge of your health. It is not a burden or something that gets in the way. Plan ahead. Understand what the day or the week has in store and plan your meals ahead of time so you do not fall behind. This kind of awareness and forward-thinking is critical to making progress in your journey to better health.
Finally, learn how to cook! You don’t need to become an Iron Chef, but the fact is cooking is a skill necessary for survival. I have been cooking for myself for about five years now, and I made some food initially that I would never make again. But you know what? I tried, I learned, and I got better. After about a year of setting my smoke alarm off in my studio apartment (to be fair, it was very tiny), I finally started getting the hang of it, and it has become one of my favorite things to do today. If you have never cooked before, I encourage people to try out a food delivery service that properly sources their ingredients. For example, I used SunBasket when I was learning to cook, and it greatly improved my ability overall in the kitchen.
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?
For me, I think daily exercise promotes discipline. I am up a little bit after 5:00AM every morning to get my workout in. Whether it is high-intensity circuit training, strength training, yoga, or Pilates, I make sure I am up and doing something at least 5–6 days a week. I think if you are able to stick to a workout regimen on a day-to-day basis, you will be more mindful of other health decisions you make throughout the day, including the foods you choose to eat.
Exercise and sweat can help detoxify as well. In fact, the body has four primary methods of detoxification: pee, poop, breath, and sweat. If you are well hydrated, you should be peeing, and if you are eating proper amounts of fiber, that should take care of the poop. I would hope you are breathing as well. This leaves sweat. You should aim to sweat at least twice a week, which can be accomplished a variety of ways. Vigorous exercise is an obvious choice and I encourage this at least 2–3 times per week. That being said, other ways to sweat can include hot yoga, Epsom salt baths, sex, using a sauna, and others. If you live in a hot climate, that’s great! But unless you go outside and start sweating you will not be making the best of your situation.
Studies have shown immune system strength is directly influenced by how physically active we are. One study followed a small group who performed a 12-week exercise regimen program following chemotherapy, and the study showed signs of significantly enhanced immune function. Regular exercise increases the activity of natural killer cells and beneficial T cells, which are critical components of our immune system. In other words, the more we exercise, the more weapons we have to fight against disease and illness.
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
I’ll do you one better and give you seven. After working for a head strength and conditioning coach for two years, you pick up on a few things. The most important, however, was coaching and teaching proper form. All athletes underwent FMS screenings, and it is used a tool to determine the relative injury risk of the athlete. The lower an athlete scores on the screening, the greater the risk of injury.
Therefore, learning how to master these movements, through coaching, will limit your chances of injury. The seven movements include a deep squat, hurdle step, in-line lunge, shoulder mobility exercises (to increase and maintain healthy range of motion), active straight leg raises, push-up (with proper core activation), and a bird-dog.
In my experience, many people begin an exercise regimen but stop because they get too sore afterwards. What ideas would you recommend to someone who plays sports or does heavy exercise to shorten the recovery time, and to prevent short term or long term injury?
A proper dynamic warm-up and cool down stretch are really important. It is vital to maintain proper movement patterns and flexibility after a workout, match, or game. Stretching often, even between workouts, is a great way to mitigate soreness going forward, especially if you sit at a desk all day at work.
Proper hydration is also crucial, and often overlooked. The average human body is made up of 60% water. Water is essential, yet is not emphasized enough how important it truly is. Water serves a number of functions in the human body. It is needed to make blood, and is part of the fluid that cushions our joints. Cerebrospinal fluid, which encases and cushions the brain and spinal cord, as well as provide a medium to transport nutrients, needs water. Water is part of digestive juices and bile. Water is added to waste products in the kidneys to properly eliminate them. It provides nourishment to our cells and it helps maintain proper body temperature. If you begin working out more often, you are going to need to increase your water intake due to increased amounts of sweating. I recommend the amount of water needed per day is equal to half your body weight in fluid ounces. In other words, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink 75 fluid ounces of water daily.
Also, if you’re worried about soreness, arnica gel is a fantastic natural remedy! I’ve used it personally and it really helps me recover from those more intense workouts. Make sure to work with a healthcare provider when using this product.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
I recently read the book True Prosperity, by Yehuda Berg. The book is not about health, fitness, or nutrition at all, but it had a profound impact on my outlook overall. The idea behind the book is sharing your “light.” Much of the book talks about discovering your own light, and putting together a strategy to best share it with others.
I think the book put a lot into perspective for me. It reminded me that I do have knowledge and information I can share with others. It is just a question of finding the best ways to share it so that it can be maximally beneficial. The great part about working in the wellness space is that I have the opportunity to be part of another’s health journey. I find that to truly be a privilege, and I’m still floored by some of the results people can get when they put their minds to it.
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. 🙂
I think a movement about taking the time to understand where our food comes from would have the longest-lasting impact. Living in a massive city, there is a huge disconnect from farm, to store, to table, and I’m really happy that there is now a movement towards responsibly-raised, organic, grass-fed foods. I think if others were aware of the journey their food takes before it reaches the table, it would dramatically alter what and how we eat.
I personally choose to buy the best quality foods possible because I have seen how conventionally raised animals and produce are treated. That is what pushed me to buy organic produce, as well as the best possible animal products, when I choose to buy them.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
One quote that always stuck out to me is from Walt Disney, who said, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” This hits home for a couple of reasons, first is you learn more from failures than successes. However, you can’t fail and learn unless you give it a shot in the first place. When I was having my own health issues, I stopped making up excuses and got out of my comfort zone. Did I make mistakes? Absolutely, but it made me better going forward. I never would have learned though if I never tried.
Secondly, this is really important when it comes to self-improvement because it is not an overnight process. Everything happens in increments. Making small improvements that you can build upon, each day, each week, each month add up over time. If you have a goal, and are committed to reaching it, you can get there if you are patient and ride out the peaks and valleys. It might not be easy, but it is absolutely worth it once you commit to learning and enjoy the process. Also, understand that not everything is in your control, and that’s OK. However, the things you do have control over, like what you eat, how much you sleep, how much you move, and how much effort you put into the important relationships in your life, will dictate your success on your health journey.
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 🙂
I would love to meet Kobe Bryant. He was my idol growing up. I tried to model everything, from my work ethic, to what motivates me, to building discipline, to my jumpshot (still working on that by the way) after him. I used to watch all the Lakers games that I could, and I went as far as to watch almost all of his interviews and even press conferences. I think now, even after his playing days, he still has that drive and motivation, but uses it in a variety of different industries. He really resonated with me growing up, and I would love to pick his brain if I had the opportunity.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Sure! You can find me @insideouthandw on Instagram or by email at [email protected]. We also have a blog we update regularly at evokhealth.com.
Additionally, you can find more information about my personal practice at insideouthealthwellness.com, and you can listen to our podcast and check out our online courses at evokhealth.com.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!