Let’s take a breather and talk about the often forgotten negative aspect of fast-paced modern life: burnout.
I’m rapping again like I do on the Primal Endurance podcast! Horrors or cheers? Send your commentary to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Regarding my show about maintaining competitive intensity throughout life and how valuable that is, there is a flip side where an overly intense approach can lead to breakdown and burnout. My old friend Johnny G, fitness celebrity who invented indoor group cycling with his Spinning program in 1995 and finisher of the nonstop bicycle Race Across America in 1989, likes to say that, “only things that are natural and easy to maintain are healthy.”
If you enjoyed my show with Dr. Peter Attia, you can reflect on an interesting insight that on the heels of his three-year experiment with strict nutritional ketosis (and 24/7 glucose monitor implanted into his abdomen to generate smartphone app readout.) It’s cool to pursue crazy and extreme goals as I did when I was a professional triathlete, for growth experiences are generated when you push yourself beyond your existing comfort zone and test out the limits of your physical or cognitive abilities. However, you must implement a sensible approach that is aligned with your current age and lifestyle circumstances. Over your lifetime, it’s best to continually recalibrate your goals to keep things fresh and healthy and avoid getting into ruts or burnout situations when your life gets out of balance. People ask me all the time, “do you still do triathlons, just for fun?” No, I’ve been there and done that.
I share an epic quote from Arnold Schwarzenegger that I clipped from a bodybuilding magazine 23 years ago (while working with muscleheads at a bodybuilding supplement company, trying to convince endurance athlete to pound the same powder and recover faster.) Arnold was asked in this magazine interview if he ever yearned for the days when he was back on stage, oiled up, the most muscular man in the world? “No.” was his answer! He elaborated that because he was a healthy man, he is able to grow more easily through the various stages of life. Obviously, in his case, pursuing a succession of daunting goals like becoming a movie star (with a crippling accent that they tried to choke out of him at first), and then to enter politics in a major way when he served as the Governor of California.
I have thought about this quote frequently over the past couple of decades, as I have continually recalibrated my goals as a parent, athlete, and career person to keep things fresh and exciting and healthy. That said, is there a risk of burnout when you plunge deep into peak performance goals while you are trying to manage assorted other responsibilities of daily life, and also counting the decades going by. Indeed there is, and we must be realistic with our goals and daily routines to make sure they support health and longevity, but keep us feeling fresh and energized and competitive in a healthy sense.
The burnout factor is a possible consequence of pursuing intense lifestyle goals. [00:03:50]
How can one recalibrate? [00:07:28]
How do these questions relate to Schwarzenegger? [00:09:32]
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Welcome to the get over yourself podcast. This is Brad Kearns. I cover health, fitness, peak performance,
personal growth, relationships, happiness, and longevity. So slow down, take a deep breath, take a cold
plunge, and pursue your competitive goals in all areas of life with great intensity and passion but release
your attachment to the outcome and learn to have fun along the way. That's the theme of the show. Here we
We got to find a place to recalibrate that's healthy natural and easy to maintain but if you want to have a
little downtime after that crazy binge period of life whether it was work, whether it was athletics, I guess
that's going to be natural and okay. We just kind of work toward long-term health and balance. Okay.
Check it. . Did you know I'm known for starting my shows on the Primal Endurance podcast with some
plain freestyle rapping. It's true. I don't know why I did it the first time but then I got emails from listeners.
Hey enjoyed the show regarding the heart rate thing blah blah blah and love the rap and man. Keep it up. I
could not believe my eyes that someone actually sent me that message and I said please don't say that
because you encouraged me to keep going then it got to be a big joke. Then people are counting on it. I
skipped a few shows. They said hey, man, what happened to the rapping? That was the best part of the
show. (backhanded compliment right there.) Anyway, like to have a little fun with that sometime. These
are non copyrighted reuse of popular songs. So mind you I mean no harm love that song. run it I was
playing that over and over practicing speed golf just to get into that zone. I alerted my teenage children and
friends about this cool song that I discovered and my son's like Dad that song's like 20 years old. It just
found it. Okay. It's actually 13 years old. But anyway, nice stuff there and we're on and upward with the
But first speaking of that disclaimer my legal team and I that's Brian did some research and discovered that
it's a little bit of a gray area when you just repurpose someone's music without without the rights, but we
realized that if I'm singing over it and making a mockery of it. I escaped any legal consequences. And so
Chris Brown, please don't please don't sue me. I think you're my neighbor to and Woodland Hills man. Just
just just a hunch. There's this house that has 24-hour security guard in front talk to the guy and little bit. He
wouldn't tell me who lives there, but it was a pretty dope crib with a lot of cars and a lot of basketball hoops
visible at the top of this hill I'm allowed to go up the private dry because my friends that I grew up with
used to live there and we used to pick pomegranates there. I inform the security guard of that trivia that you
this used to be pomegranate playground, and he kindly asked me to leave after that. But at least I got
the point across. Maybe he'll share it with all his all his peeps there.
Okay. So what we're going to talk about was maintaining that competitive intensity throughout life and
recalibrating goals and it comes to mind some questions. So I'm going to just post some questions at the
start and one of them is wondering about this burnout factor that lingers in the background and it is a
possible consequence of pursuing really intense and devoted lifestyle goals. You hear about hard-working
business folks hitting that point of burnout and just frying themselves and having to go on the sidelines for
an extended period of time and is it is it a consequence of working too many hours in living out of balance
during the time when they were fully into their.com startup mode or what have you same with dietary
goals, like diligently counting your macronutrient intake every single day and in putting everything you eat
into an app to spit out the pie chart of just how many carbs, protein, and fat that you consume that day and
we actually recommend people do this at the outset to see where they stand if they're pursuing a goal like
ketogenic diet or trying to escape carbohydrate dependency and become fat adapted by ditching grains,
sugars, and refined vegetable oils and getting under that magic number that's promoted by the Primal
Blueprint of consuming a hundred fifty grams of nutritious calories from carbohydrate per day or less. And
so how do you know how many carbs you're consuming and write them down for a couple few days get
into the rhythm. Realize that your oatmeal, orange juice, toast, and cereal is going to put out, you know,
250 grams of massive carbohydrate dose when you don't want to have more than a hundred fifty in a day.
So learning that stuff but staying with that for two years straight or gosh Peter Attia is a good example, one
of the world's leading longevity physicians. He'll be on a show soon. He was in strict nutritional ketosis for
three years without interruption. He had a glucose meter implanted surgically; implanted into his abdomen
to give him a 24-hour glucose readout and he was talking recently on The Joe Rogan podcast. I'm going to
ask him more about this concept about how now he's kind of a little bit more. He's kind of indiscriminate.
He reaches off across the table and cleans up his kids' macaroni and cheese at mealtime and maybe that's a
possible consequence of being so strict and so deep into the keto thing that you just can't sustain that. My
good friend, a very wise man, Johnny G, the creator of this spinning indoor cycling program. He gave a
great quote a long time ago that I repeat as often as possible and he said only things that are natural and easy
to maintain our health. So if you reflect upon your current dietary patterns or your exercise routine,
In where you're going to CrossFit four days a week and you're so into it and the other day that you don't go
you do high-intensity interval training with your trainer. And then you go on a four-hour hike every
weekend and you're in this groove and you're going forward and you feel great but is it natural and easy to
maintain? I would argue that for many of us. it's not particularly. People in the endurance scene who went
all-in for so many years like myself and people ask me. So do you still do triathlons just for fun? And my
answer is hell no! No disrespect to the sport. It was a wonderful time in my life. But I have absolutely no
desire to get out there and swim and bike and run and suffer like I used to. I had much more fulfillment
and satisfaction from producing a race and having that incredibly complex and physically and mentally
arduous challenge of putting all the moving pieces together and allowing other people to pursue their
competitive passion and triathlon vastly more rewarding than continuing to toe the line when I went all-in
as an athlete and went so deep into that experience that I really needed a natural bouncing effect.
So back to that question. Is there this burnout factor in the background of anything big time that you do in
life? And is there a consequent rebound effect such as spinning out and not even doing a bare minimum of
exercise? After putting 10 years on the professional circuit, traveling around and going crazy and doing
very little else with your life, I would say there probably is some of that 's just kind of a natural
human instinct to rebound and recalibrate and maybe it's okay, but we want to kind of eventually swing the
pendulum back to the middle where we maintain a commitment to health and fitness, especially if you're an
old-time athlete and you went all-in back in the day and hone that competitive intensity, that focus, that
discipline and now you're a sorry sack of shit that's getting old and gray, and gaining visceral fat around the
abdomen and all that stuff. So we've got to find a place to recalibrate that's healthy, natural, and easy to
maintain but if you want to have a little downtime after that crazy binge period of life whether it was work,
whether it was athletics. I guess that's going to be natural and okay, but just kind of work toward long-term
health and balance but I would argue just like Winston Churchill says, "pity the poor souls who live in the
gray twilight knowing neither victory nor defeat," right? We want to go for it in life and have that
wonderful growth experience win or lose of putting yourself on the line and pursuing daunting peak
performance goals. We just don't want to stay into the dungeon below the grey twilight where we're totally
out of the picture. Okay, that makes sense. And what do you think is there this natural rebound effect?
That's part of human nature. Is it? Okay and then how do we get back to healthy balanced and sensible?
One guy who has done it pretty well seemingly is Arnold. Yes, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Say what you
want about him and his politics and his goofy news stories and getting in trouble for this and that, but the
guy's had a pretty impressive path through life of coming from Austria, over to Venice Beach, getting the
Mr. Universe thing going, and then deciding that he was going to be a leading Hollywood actor lead role
player. Not just a character guy with big muscles, but actually take on Hollywood and make the biggest
grossing movies out of nowhere. And then in the middle of that, he decides he wants to run the state of
California and run for governor, win, and make his efforts there. At least you can say he takes on big
challenges. He has big ambitions and he's focused enable, especially the point of the story to redirect and
pursue something else with those attributes.
Pointed in a different direction but the same guy who was in there working his muscles obsessively was
now learning how to campaign and win a prominent election. So this is now 23 years ago. I was working
for a performance Nutrition Company famous for serving the bodybuilders the powder and the other fuels
that they needed to get big muscles. So I was in this environment but I was trying to market and sell this
stuff to endurance athletes who had the same recovery needs as bodybuilders, even though they weren't
trying to get big muscles. So I was in this environment there's bodybuilding muscle magazines all over the
place, you know muscle building guys cornering me in the bathroom and asking me if I was hitting up on
the same accounts. They weren't threatening me to not do that fun times. But anyway, I randomly picked up
this magazine and there was an interesting interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger. And this was the
bodybuilding guides getting into bodybuilding related questions and so forth, but it was a wide-ranging.
You and this quote this discussion that he had hit me so hard that I cut it out and laminated it and taped
it on the wall of my office for like I said 23 years ago. So here's the question from the muscle magazine
interviewer. Do you ever yearn for your professional bodybuilding days when you were 250 pounds ripped
and at the center of hardcore bodybuilding? Do you miss those days? And Arnold said "no" every time. I
don't know. I'm weird. But every time I read that I just crack up that was his answer. Like it's just so pure
and you know cut to the chase there, man. So the dutiful interviewer says why not and Arnold says well
"Because luckily I am a very healthy man." Should I try that in the Arnold accent? That's a perfect sense to
do it. He's asking for it right? "Luckily. I'm a very healthy man. So when you are healthy, you can grow
more easily in and out of stages of life. Although I have fond memories. I don't yearn for those moments
when I was a little kid and Austria playing with a toy truck. I grew out of that stage. I think wanting to be
the most muscular man in the world and to be on stage all oiled up proving that I am the most muscular
man was another stage that I went through. You can compare it to a soccer player wanting to kick the most
goals. It's a stage you go through and it's a great thing. I love bodybuilding and wouldn't change a thing.
But those goals are for younger people the trick is to be able to adapt and move on to use what you've
experienced in previous stages to advance in life and to do something else. That's challenging. I don't want
to get stuck in the same rut for a long time. That's not my personality. I have to grow continuously. I'm
curious about new things. I absorb them like a sponge. I love to take on risks. Six projects everyone thinks
are impossible. I mean there was only so much to do in life. And I only have one life I might as well jump
in there live life to the fullest and be the best I can be. "
Thank you, Arnold, for keeping that going in my mind for 23 years. Hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for
listening to the Breather show. Oh, yeah.