Ashleigh is an all around ancestral living superstar, a longtime writer, editor, podcast hostess and muscle maven based in Canada. Enjoy this wide ranging conversation about many topics of interest!

Regarding fitness goals, Ashleigh describes how she likes to get pretty good at something, then move on to a new challenge to keep things fresh and stimulating. She has disparate accomplishments from winning a bodybuilding contest, double-bodyweight deadlift, finishing a marathon, and competing in CrossFit. It’s interesting to consider how developing broad athletic competency and trying to progress from novice to competent in many areas can be more healthy physically and more rewarding psychologically than becoming obsessed with continued improvement in a narrow area of focus. Ashleigh describes how it’s a good check and balance for the ego to be working to get better on things that aren’t your natural area of expertise.

Ashleigh reflects on some of the lessons learned in bodybuilding. Most of us scoff at the extremism in the bodybuilding scene, but in the age of indulgence and excess, it’s worth reflecting on the value of following a strict regimen. After all, Ashleigh reminds us that, “moderation is difficult!” She notes that the success of carnivore and other restrictive diets is due to ease of compliance and lack of decision fatigue. We end our discussion discussing our mutual fascination with the recent emergence of nose-to-tail carnivore eating style as a legitimate strategy to heal nagging health problems and also drop excess body fat efficiently. Ashleigh has been hard at work on an awesome new book called It Takes Guts that will welcome you to the world of eating nose-to-tail animal foods. Enjoy the show and connect with Ashleigh on the Muscle Maven Podcast and on Instagram at TheMuscleMaven.

TIMESTAMPS:

Ashleigh tells about her journey in the fitness scene. She is really good at a lot of things, instead of being good at just one thing. [03:47]

When you put yourself through something really difficult, you can bring that with you in the rest of your life.  [11:09]

The reference to your bucket list is used here to talk about challenging you to try things that may not be what you’re good at. [15:39]

Sometimes being focused and disciplined and motivated can also come back to bite you. [17:23]

We do better when we have something we are striving for. [20:42]

In bodybuilding, we take the body into the extreme level. It can be an interesting mental journey. [21:15]

After Ashleigh’s body building experience, she learned it is very tough to recalibrate. {29:20]

A person needs to adopt a plan of consistency and patience when trying to shed excess body fat. [31:39]

A person on this weight loss journey often will have plateaus or regressions. They need to listen to their bodies and be willing to make changes. [35:20]

Does fasting work for some people and not others? Eliminating nutrient deficient processed foods is the first good step for everyone.  [38:39]

What does eating in moderation really mean? [42:31]

Transitioning from poor eating habits to a more healthy lifestyle can be difficult but once there, you have the good habits and don’t even miss the crappy stuff. [45:42]

After you have found good metabolic flexibility, there is no need to be worrying about the particulars. By this time, you will have learned to eat according to your appetite and awareness of your body’s needs. [48:24]

The benefits of the carnivore diet are discussed here. [49:50]

If you are going to kill animals, you should eat all of it nose to tail. The organ meats are the most nutritionally dense parts of the animal. [54:54]

The hunt for organ meats can be challenging depending on where you live, but persevere. [59:45]

There are many amazing testimonials from people who have added organ meats to their diets. [01:04:00]

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Get Over Yourself Podcast

Brad (45s): Hey listeners, I hope you enjoy this interesting conversation with the Muscle Maven herself, Ashley VanHouten. And she is a prominent figure in the paleo scene for many, many years. She’s all over the place. Super duper fitness queen bodybuilder, power lifter, all around CrossFit, marathon runner athlete. And she’s also an excellent writer and editor. She’s behind many of the great publications that have come out in the paleo scene. And now she’s doing her own thing and it has created an amazing cookbook about nose to tail carnivore eating called it takes guts. Brad (2m 37s): How about that for a fabulous title? So check out the book. It Takes Guts. We’re going to have a wide ranging conversation starting with the, the value of the beauty of pursuing broad fitness goals, trying to get good at a bunch of stuff. Maybe even moving on after you get pretty good and taking on a new challenge and how that can be healthier than an obsession with an extreme fitness goal. We’re talking about losing excess body fat, always a popular topic, and what she learned. Some insights from the bodybuilding approach, which is so crazy. Brad (3m 10s): And so many of us just discounted out of the gate, but there’s some interesting value there when you get that disciplined and focused. And then we talk a lot about the carnivore movement, our mutual fascination, for something that you know, was discounted just as short as a few years ago. So I think you’re going to like some of those insights and that transitions into her passion for finding the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, nose to tail animal, organ foods and putting together a wonderful cookbook. So here we go with Ashley Van Houten, the Muscle Maven, check her out on Instagram and also her podcast of the same name. Brad (3m 47s): Ashley VanHouten. you are on, it is so exciting to connect with you, the Muscle Maven herself, and you’re a known person in the scene. You hosted the Paleo Magazine radio for a long time. You’re a prominent writer editor. And I have to say, I had no idea. You are also a muscle maven. And then I dunno, I got your Instagram link or something. And I’m like, look at this chick she’s, she’s blowing up, she’s blowing up the internet. So you’re into so many things. I think we’re going to have a nice flowing show where we touch on all kinds of different, interesting topics about living that paleo ancestral, healthy fitness lifestyle. Brad (4m 24s): And you know, here we go, we’re winding you up. Let’s let’s roll. Ashleigh (4m 30s): Yeah, get me ready to go. I’m very pleased to be here. I’m very excited to chat with you. And you know, I, one could argue that I am not a Muscle Maven. I am the Muscle Maven since that’s the Instagram handle, but it was, it, you know, it was a clever nickname that I gave myself when I started Instagram. And there was a little bit of foresight there and it ended up working out well, but we can get into that later if you want. Brad (4m 54s): Well, you got to walk your talk, too. So yeah. You said that a while back, you weren’t even, you weren’t the Muscle Maven that you are today. So tell me, tell me about your journey in the fitness scene. Ashleigh (5m 4s): Yeah, we’ve, I guess we’ve all about like our evolution, right. And, you know, I, I grew up, I wasn’t necessarily somebody that was like a big time athlete in school or ever kind of considered myself particularly athletic. And I think part of that is because when we grow up in school, especially we consider athletics to be team sports. Right? And I, you know, I’ve played around with some team sports here and there, but that just kind of wasn’t my strength. And so, because I wasn’t super good at soccer or whatever I was doing, I was like, I’m not really like that athletic. And when I, I guess it really wasn’t until probably later in high school, I was a swimmer and I did gymnastics and things like that. Ashleigh (5m 39s): And then I got into lifting weights because I was a lifeguard. And so I was lifeguarding at this gym. And so I got a gym membership. And so I went to the gym and I just started working out and like doing my bicep curls and like doing the things you do in the gym. And I really loved it and I always kind of appreciated muscles and strength on men and women. And so I thought I might as well kind of give this a go too. And that sort of evolved into like I got into CrossFit, which of course evolved into a bunch of other things. And, you know, I like to kind of consider myself a, a Jack of all trades a little bit, like I like to dabble and become proficient and things and then kind of move on. Ashleigh (6m 17s): So I sort of like to be kind of good at a lot of things instead of really good at one thing. And so that kinda led me through CrossFit and to powerlifting and to bodybuilding and jujitsu and just sort of all kinds of things. I just love to learn. I think that’s why I’m in the profession that you’re in, which is podcasting. Cause I just like to interview people and talk to people and learn. And, but anyway, so all that to say, I mean, I, I think I realized in retrospect that I was probably more athletically inclined than, than I gave myself credit for, but it was much more individual sports and things like that. Ashleigh (6m 51s): Like the power lifting and CrossFit and stuff. And so I sort of came into my own a little bit later in life, like kind of in my mid to late twenties instead of maybe teen years, but I just always had an appreciation for athleticism. Even if it wasn’t in myself, I just kind of love to watch feats of strength. And I like to learn about how people train and how they eat and how they live. And I’ve just always been fascinated by it. So it works out really well, but my job entails just talking to people about working out and eating. It’s pretty awesome. Brad (7m 21s): Well, your approach, I think in, in retrospect, reflecting on my own athletic career where I was very focused on, you know, a sport and becoming elite level player, it’s pretty tough. You can’t be a broad and balanced and varied athlete and you sacrifice your health accordingly. And you know, my story is about triathlon. It’s a huge extreme cost to try to shave a minute off your time when you’re already going fast. And so, you know, I didn’t ski, I didn’t shoot baskets. I didn’t do anything except go straight ahead, swimming, biking, and running for many years and you can get highly competent and we celebrate these people that are great at, at this or that sport. Brad (8m 0s): But I think there’s a huge health sacrifice. And then also when I retired and I was still a young person, 30 years old when I was done racing and I realized that I was a sorry, ass fitness specimen, because I thought like 12 pull-ups was a workout. And then I was done for the day. That was it. Because, you know, I was so used to not wanting to get tired for my next swim workout that I, you know, I regulated my energy. So there was all distributed into that narrow, narrow sport, but when you’re dabbling in these different things and, and you know, the brain is constantly stimulated by new challenges and trying to get the technique right. Brad (8m 36s): I think it’s a much more fun journey. And then also the, the fitness benefits of having the broad competency is huge. Ashleigh (8m 45s): Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s certainly, it was probably more fun than having to focus on only one sport. But I mean, I always say too, that it’s sort of like, that’s kind of my excuse for never really pursuing of the things that I was kind of potentially good at. Cause I just, I don’t, I, I believe, and from knowing people like yourself, I believe that I don’t necessarily have what it takes to be like mentally to be really, really good at one sport because I just, I don’t know if I’m willing to make the sacrifices that you have to make and I see it and I’m impressed by it. And I admire people who are that dedicated, but I just, I, yeah, I just saw sort of a different path. Ashleigh (9m 19s): I was just like, why do this one thing when I could do all of these things? And you know, you can kind of, there is an ego component that you need to get over because there are a couple of, couple of opportunities maybe that I had to, to have a little bit of glory with a couple of sports. And I was just, I just, I just would rather kind of just hang out and do a bunch of stuff and see what happens. Brad (9m 38s): Well, I guess your number one sport is a healthy, active lifestyle. So you can tackle any challenge. I guess they could come up with, you know, adventure racing might be a close comparison or, or CrossFit to where you do have to bring in all these broad athletic competencies, much more so than an endurance sport. So I guess they’re getting close to inventing sports for people that have the broad interest. Ashleigh (10m 2s): Yeah. They’ll, they’ll come up with something for me at some point I’ll probably be too old. Well, knock on wood. There’s no such thing, but I actually did do a couple of marathons though in my younger years, again, just cause I’m like, Hey, why not try everything? Even the stuff that I know I am not suited for. And that ended up being a huge learning experience. And you know, this is such a cliche thing, but it’s so true. Like you got to do the things that are extra challenging as well as the things that come naturally to you because, you know, the like, so bodybuilding was something that I dabbled a competitive bodybuilding for a while. Ashleigh (10m 33s): And I was, I was really naturally inclined to that and pretty good at it. And not to say that it was easy, but it was just something that came naturally to me, whereas running a marathon was incredibly arduous and difficult and even working hard at it. I sucked, but I did it and I learned something about myself from doing it. So, and then of course I could move on and be like, I’m never doing that again. That was horrible. But, but you know, you, you really do learn something about yourself when you put yourself through something difficult and knowing you’re going to be mediocre at it, right. Like it’s, there’s a lot of ego disillusion that comes from doing stuff and stuff like that. Ashleigh (11m 6s): And I think that’s important Brad (11m 9s): Ego dissolution coming up, coming at mile 20 and completely dissolving into dust at mile 26. But Hey, you still finish, which is really impressive. And I wonder what, what did you learn with that, that ordeal that was so out of your comfort zone? Ashleigh (11m 25s): Yeah. So it’s, I have to give credit to my stepdad for this one. So my stepfather was a nationally ranked, triple jumper and track athlete in his younger years, really, really accomplished. And he’s six foot six, like just a giant dude and he’s since passed away, unfortunately, and we were very close, but he, he actually brought it up to me. The first marathon we ran together and I was, I think, 19 the time. So I was just in university and he kind of brought it up as something we could do together. Ashleigh (11m 58s): Literally just for fun as like a challenge. I think maybe he saw that I was maybe bored or a little aimless or something, and he’s like, let’s do this together and let’s train for it. And I’m like, should we maybe start for an hour? Like, he’s like, well, what’s the fun in that if you’re going to train for a half, you might as well train for the whole thing. I don’t know. You can tell me if that’s ridiculous advice or not, but I went along with it and we trained together and we ran our first one. You might, I don’t know if you’re familiar with it. We ran Mount Desert Island in Maine. It’s a, it’s a small, like, there’s usually only a couple of hundred people that do it. Ashleigh (12m 29s): And it’s incredibly challenging cause it’s very hilly and we’d been training all summer and it was in October. And so it was like flurrying the day that we did it, it was just, it was just terrible. And I was the, it turns out I was the youngest one to finish. I was 19 at the time. And I also learned looking back, there’s reason why the best runners are not 19 years old, right? Like this is a sport that lends itself to a little bit more maturity, but we did it together. And so essentially I basically just learned that with dedication and consistency, you can accomplish things that you don’t think you can accomplish. Ashleigh (13m 1s): You can push yourself through pain pretty significantly. And that, you know, it’s one of those things where when you put yourself through something difficult, it just, you can bring that with you in the rest of your life. So when I’m doing other things that aren’t athletic that are difficult, I can like, remember back to this opportunity that I had to really challenge myself and test myself. And I’m like, man, if I can do this, then I can do this. And that’s, that’s really what it was because I actually ended up writing. Cause I’m a writer too, as well as a very mediocre runner. Ashleigh (13m 32s): I wrote a, I wrote a article for the national newspaper in Canada, The Global Mail. It’s like they have like a full page sort of like personal essays thing. And I wrote about this experience because it was a really important experience that I, I had with my stepdad. It was a bonding really cool thing that we did together. But it was also this lesson in, you can take a lot of, a lot of positivity out of doing something and challenging yourself, even when you know, you’re not going to win, right? Like it’s one thing to work really hard at a sport or at a something if you know, like you’re gonna get all this glory at the end or you’re gonna make a bunch of money or you’re gonna, you’re gonna win. Ashleigh (14m 10s): Right. And that’s why Olympians are like, I would shave off 10 years of my life if I can win a gold medal. Right? And I was working really hard, just barely finish something. And it was a really good lesson for me, for somebody who, who maybe in the past, hadn’t really challenged myself a lot in things where I would end up sucking at it. Right. You do, you just tend towards things, you know, you’re going to be good at it. And you keep working on your strengths and that’s how human nature works a lot of the time. But in this case, we worked really hard to kind of suck at something and it was okay. Ashleigh (14m 40s): I learned from it, I got stronger as a result of it. And it was this amazing experience that I did with my stepdad. So yeah, that’s kinda how it went down. Brad (14m 50s): And then you proclaimed that To be a bucket list item and moved on to another goal, which is also interesting. Cause I think there’s also some lessons to being learned. I’m reflecting on the day, I decided to, you know, depart from the triathlon race course and move on with my life. And for me it wasn’t that hard because I was sort of getting my ass kicked rather than winning. So it’s a really graceful way to exit, you know, an a, an obsessive competitive goal situation. But I think it takes a lot of, you can get some personal growth too from, from moving on rather than, you know, dragging through something that, Hey, you, you, you, you said you sucked at it. Brad (15m 28s): I wouldn’t say you sucked if you finished a marathon at age 19, but you know, it was, it was, I think the, the bucket list approach probably deserves a plug here too. Ashleigh (15m 39s): Yeah, absolutely. And again, I just kind of always look at any of the physical goals that I’ve ever had as, as learning experiences, because you learn about your body, you learn about, you know, what you’re good at and what you’re not good at, what you enjoy. You learn about different sports. Like I wrote a lot about my bodybuilding experience specifically because there’s such an interesting culture around it that a lot of people from the outside don’t see, and some of it’s weird and gross and some of it’s funny and some of it’s entertaining. And so it’s just, you know, I think it’s like that journalist part of me that just wants to like, know what’s going on all the time. Ashleigh (16m 13s): And so that’s, that’s what a lot of the athletic stuff was for me. It was like, I get to learn about myself. I get to learn about a sport. I get to acquire new skills. And, and I think I start to, I start to move on when I feel like I’m plateauing and not learning anything anymore. Like I was sort of that way with CrossFit too. I know a lot of people, this is where like the real true athlete part comes in. Like there are a lot of people who are just never happy with the weights they’re lifting or how fast they can run or whatever, so they can be elite. And they’re like, but I can go a little bit harder, a little bit better. Ashleigh (16m 43s): And with me, I was like, Oh, I got a muscle up. Good, done. Oh, I can like deadlift twice my body weight. I’m good. I don’t need to go any heavier. Like that’s, that was kind of my mentality. I’m like, I’m good enough. And I, I hope that doesn’t sound like settling or being, you know, somebody who doesn’t want to work that hard. Cause that’s not really the case, but I just, I think, I think it was better for my mental health certainly. Right. Because it’s very easy to get sucked into these kind of competitive sports and, and see everybody else. And there’s always people that are better than you and it can stress you out. And I just, that’s not the approach I took. Ashleigh (17m 13s): I was just like, if I go down that route, I’m never going to be happy. So instead I’m going to set my own goals. I’m going to enjoy myself. And then when I’ve reached them, I move on. It’s just kind of how I do it. Brad (17m 23s): That’s a beautiful message. I love it. Especially today because we’re so caught up in social media culture, consumerism, measuring and judging everybody by, you know, superficial accomplishments and, and display of affluence and all that nonsense. And I think, you know, I, I too, I think learned the hard way as an athlete that, you know, my greatest strengths of being focused and disciplined and motivated what also come back to bite me and be my greatest weaknesses because I, I wanted it too badly. Brad (17m 60s): I pushed myself too hard. I tried too hard. I got frustrated. I made bad decisions rather than, you know, kind of taking what your body gives you. And also preserving that, that, you know, that mentality of feeling, you know, challenged and fulfilled and making progress and not, you know, not kind of buying into the nonsense that upping one notch is going to lead to more happiness. Ashleigh (18m 26s): Yeah. I think, I think one of the biggest distinctions for me always with goal setting was, and of course it takes everybody their own time to get there. But it’s knowing when the goal you’re setting is truly an intrinsic goal versus something that someone else is putting on you. And what you said to sort of the social media side of it. And I do a little bit of health coaching also on the side, I’m a Primal Blueprint Certified Coach, of course. And, and one of the things that I, I come across a lot is people coming to me with what may be unrealistic goals, but more importantly, their goals that someone has arbitrarily chosen based on stuff they’ve seen other people accomplish. Ashleigh (19m 5s): Right. And I always kind of questioned these and I questioned them with myself too. Like the woman who just wants a six pack and I’m like, okay, well, like I get it, I get it. I’ve done it too. And I liked having a six pack for the two weeks that I had it before I moved on because it’s not healthy, but you know, everybody wants to look good and that’s great. And everybody wants to be stronger and have goals. And that’s great. But if you’re only setting those goals because you see pretty people on Instagram achieving them, that isn’t going to be enough for you to enact the behaviors and the consistency that you need to achieve those goals. Ashleigh (19m 39s): Right? So it’s like, I’m not telling anybody just settle and don’t try that hard and you don’t really need to get healthier or whatever, but you just really gotta get super clear on what those goals are and make sure that they’re ones that you want and that you don’t just feel like other people are putting on you. You know? Brad (19m 58s): Oh my gosh. I think it’s a difficult balance too, because we do have so much luxury, convenience, comforts. We can get rolled into just being a spectator in life. So, you know, I’m, I’m a very enthusiastic and very promoting of finding a competitive edge, some competitive intensity to get you up in the morning and have, have some drive and some purpose and some focus and then not overdoing it. So boy, you can straddle that line and it sounds like your journey of jumping from one thing to the next and becoming, let’s say a novice at powerlifting and then going in there and learning the moves. Brad (20m 35s): That’s kind of a nice way to keep you in the right, in, in the right frame of mine there. Ashleigh (20m 42s): Yeah. And we all, you know, we all struggle with it, right? Like I go through periods where I’m like, I don’t really have much going on and I kind of want to just like create this goal out of nowhere because I’m bored. And like you said, I think human beings do better when they have something we’re striving for. But I guess it’s just finding that. Yeah. Like you said, this sort of balance between this is getting me up in the mornings. It’s energizing me. This is exciting. I’m getting something from it versus this is causing me anxiety and stress. And I, I care about this more than the other things in my life. Ashleigh (21m 12s): And you know, it’s, it’s a tough balance. Brad (21m 15s): So what about that bodybuilding scene? I’m kind of curious about, about it. Cause I think a lot of us are looking from a distance. I’m looking at the Flex Magazine in the store and seeing the extreme distortion of the, the human shape by driven to you by drugs, dehydration, and a lot of oil and lighting and all that weird stuff. But I also, I had Michelle Camina on a, on a podcast, she’s a bodybuilder in Hawaii and she was giving some interesting commentary about the diet part of it and getting cut up for competition. Brad (21m 50s): And, you know, beyond that reactionary response that most people have like, Oh, those guys are crazy. That’s ridiculous. You know, there’s a segment of the population that knows how to manipulate all the factors necessary to get that female six pack, which is pretty, pretty rad. Even if it’s not sustainable, it’s, you know, possibly something to learn from that when we’re all plunged into decadence, luxury consumption, lack of discipline, lack of willpower and lack of motivation. Brad (22m 21s): So yeah. I’d love to get some insights from, from taking, taking the body to the extreme level. Ashleigh (22m 27s): Yeah. It does seem like we are just as human beings, we’re so much better at extremes than moderation, right? Like we’re so good at like going on an all inclusive vacation and like eating, like we’re going to die tomorrow. And then we’re so good at when we have this crazy goal in mind picking like following the super, super strict regimen because as long as it’s laid out and we don’t have to think about it and we don’t have to make decisions all day long, we can almost do anything. Like I’ve talked about this with regards to diets, right? Like we can talk about paleo and carnivore and Keto and like carnivore is not a difficult diet to follow people. Ashleigh (23m 2s): Think that that’s super extreme, but it’s like, you just eat meat. That’s very easy. If you’re dedicated to it, you don’t have to think you don’t have to plan your meals or decide or count your macros. You just eat meat all day. Great. Whereas if I told you, like, I just want you to find the ideal whole foods, you know, nutritious diet for you, let’s start with paleo and then adjust accordingly. It’s like, that’s a, that’s a map. That’s a big undertaking because we’re all different. We have different goals and desires and needs and whatever. So it’s a lot more work. Ashleigh (23m 32s): So anyway, it’s not as difficult as people think to follow a crazy bodybuilding diet. You just really have to, you have to want to do it. Right. And you know, I didn’t go, I didn’t make it to the professional level mostly because again, as we’ve been saying, I kind of just, you know, I made it, I rose pretty quickly in the competitions that I did. And there was kind of this conversation where it’s like, all right, if you want to, if you want to do this pro thing, you’re going to have to like really make this your life. You’re probably gonna have to start taking some extra curricular supplements is not interested. Ashleigh (24m 6s): So I kind of, at a certain point, it was again like I’ve reached this plateau. I did pretty well. I learned a lot. I don’t really want to do what it takes to hit that next step. So I kinda, I didn’t, but with that said, I have had very interesting glimpses into the, into the world. And I do think bodybuilding can certainly attract some dysfunctional attitudes around and exercise. Right? Like I’m not going to pretend that that’s not true, but I also think it’s shortsighted to say that everybody who does bodybuilding is crazy or, you know, has eating disorders or whatever. Ashleigh (24m 41s): I mean, it sucks. That’s not accurate. It’s just any, anything like this seems extreme to the outside world. Like I had friends telling me that I was crazy cause I ate paleo because I die if I didn’t have carbs. And I’m like, there’s so many things wrong with that statement. I don’t even know where to go with you, but everything, everything that’s unfamiliar to you seems weird. Right? So we just kind of need to have a little bit more of an open mind about all of these things with that said, yeah, women having six packs for the most part is not natural and it’s not sustainable and is super fun and cool for a couple of weeks. Ashleigh (25m 11s): And then you need to figure out how to move on. So it’s, it can be a, it can be a, an interesting mental journey because you’re, you’re going through this process it’s happening very, very gradually. And so you don’t see the changes maybe as drastically as other people see it. And then sort of one day you wake up and you can see all these muscles that you could never see before. And it’s fantastic. And you take all the pictures and then the competition’s over. And there’s generally speaking, unless you get a really good coach and you know, this going in, there is zero support or information for what you do when the competition is over. Ashleigh (25m 51s): And this is serious because that literally, if you think about it really in the process of what it takes to get to a competition. The competition is sorta like three quarters of the way through your process. Like there’s stuff that has to happen after, and no one talks about it. And I think you probably know as a competitive, former competitive athlete or you know, that the competition, when it’s over, there’s a lot of stuff that happens mentally afterwards, right? When you’re like, okay, well now what you have that you kind of coming down from your like adrenaline rush and you maybe get sort of sad or kind of depressed, or, and then you got to like hurry up and find the next thing to do because that’s sort of how our brains work. Ashleigh (26m 26s): And so a lot of people, I would say the more tricky part is what to do after the show, when people don’t know how to reverse diet and they have their sort of deserved binge and then they see themselves kind of blow it up and they’re freaking out and you get this weird body dysmorphia that maybe you didn’t have before. So there’s a lot, there’s a lot going on there. I mean, I, I like to tell people about the actual day of the competition because backstage of a bodybuilding competition is such a weird zoo. It’s such a trip like everybody’s back there. Ashleigh (26m 58s): Like you said, just painted in this like sticky, disgusting paint. So you can see your muscles better. You’re all wearing like just uncomfortable, tiny bikinis that have to be like glued onto your body, literally glued onto your body. People are like waiting backstage, like pouring honey directly into their mouth to pump up their muscles before they got on stage. But the fun thing for me, like I loved it. Like, I, I really loved every aspect of it. I didn’t have most of the issues that are very common, especially with women coming out of it with like body dysmorphia or issues or gaining a ton of weight back or even hormonal or metabolic issues. Ashleigh (27m 39s): Because I, I had a very good coach and I really did things I think in a relatively intelligent way, but it, it’s just, it’s such a weird, fascinating, crazy experience. And I just enjoyed every minute of it. Cause I thought it was fun. It was like, I was just like, it was like, I was there like undercover to watch how this industry works, you know? And I think because I got into it also older. So I was like in my late twenties when I started, instead of a lot of people are doing this when they’re 20, 21 now. Ashleigh (28m 9s): And I think because I was a little bit more kind of sure of myself and a little bit less, like I really didn’t care. Like I wasn’t doing it to try to be cuter. I was like doing it just to see what I could accomplish. So I wasn’t, I wasn’t as tied to the outcome. And I think being more relaxed about it actually made me do better because I was just like, Hey, I don’t, I don’t care what happens with this competition. I worked really hard for the past four months. I got a friggin six pack. Like I already won. I don’t care what happens. And so you go out there and you have fun and you smile. And the judge is like that. And then I ended up winning. Ashleigh (28m 39s): So it was, it was a really cool experience. I definitely caution. Like I have a lot of girls who will come to me and they’ll be like, I saw that you, you did it. And I’m kind of interested in, I’ve always been sort of scared about it. And I’ve had some sort of, you know, issues with working out in the past. What do I do? And I’m like, I definitely caution people again, if you’re, if you’re doing it because you think a six pack is gonna make you feel better, I can tell you, that’s definitely not what happens. It’s cool. And it’s fun, but it doesn’t change who you are. And if you kinda have, you know, if you have some self esteem issues going in having a six pack for two weeks, isn’t gonna fix it. Ashleigh (29m 15s): But it was, it was a very cool kind of interesting experience for sure. Brad (29m 20s): So you had some difficulty afterward, like recalibrating or is that that’s a general sense and bodybuilding, I remember hearing, I used to work in the supplement business and we served a lot of body builders as well as endurance athletes. They had the same supplement needs for more protein and recovery stuff, but apparently they just crash out for, you know, six weeks after the, after the Arnold classic and just be sleeping and gaining like 30 pounds of whatever it is, fluid and fat and just kind of having to have a huge downswing after that cover shot, which is totally understandable. Ashleigh (29m 53s): Yeah. Yeah. I mean, a lot of it depends on your, your mentality and your diet going into it. Like if you’re going to do this, you’re going to have a very restrictive diet, right? Like there’s very few people walking around at single digit body fat, right. Especially women. And so a lot of it depends on yeah. If you, if you don’t have a plan for, after for how you in a healthy way, bring your calories back up, incorporate foods back in that you haven’t had for months and all those kinds of things. A lot of people like they have this like, okay, I’m done. Ashleigh (30m 25s): I can celebrate. And they binge and they eat the worst possible food, like food that you wouldn’t even necessarily even eat normally. But you’re like, I have been so restrictive for three or four, however many months. So I’m going to go crush all those food. Your body’s not used to it. So of course you’re going to sorta bloke back off. And like you said, you’ve been dehydrating. And then you put all this like salt or, you know, processed carbs in your body. And a lot of times, I mean, some people do actually gain like 20, 30 pounds and like a couple of weeks, most people don’t actually, they just sort of eat some crap. They feel a little bloated. Ashleigh (30m 56s): They look at themselves in the mirror and think, Oh my God, what have I done? And you kind of go into this spiral and then that’s like the rest of your you’re just you’re done. But I think it’s really about it’s about planning. Like anything if you plan for, okay, I’ve worked really hard. I did this competition to this photo shoot. Now I’m going to have one day off where I eat some burgers and fries and cake, and then I’m going to go back onto a normal, reasonable, healthy diet where I start incorporating stuff back in. And I, you know, you have to have a plan. You can’t just say, I’m going to eat crazy restrictive for four months, do this big competition. Ashleigh (31m 30s): And then just see what happens. Like that’s human beings don’t do well with no direction or planning. Right. So yeah, you have to, you have to have that in place. Brad (31m 39s): Well, I guess to transition to a topic of probably prominent interest to all of our listeners and all the world that we’re we’re working in is that reduction of excess body fat seems to be the number one goal, probably on the questionnaire for anyone in the ancestral health scene and in the world in general. And so I wonder if there are some takeaway insights for someone who’s never going to dream of getting into bodybuilding, but you know, those success factors that you put into play and how they can compare and contrast to the, you mentioned with the carnivore diet, as the example of just limiting options, limiting decision fatigue, limiting the application of willpower, these things seem to be huge drivers of success or failure in things like trying to shed excess body fat. Ashleigh (32m 30s): Yeah. I think, I think what I like to tell a lot of clients or even friends or people who are asking me about this is probably some takeaways in terms of losing fat for the normal population is consistency and patience. With whichever plan you try. Like if it’s going to be keto for you or if it’s going to be paleo, or if it’s even going to be just, if it fits your macros, it’s going to take you longer than you think it should. If you’re trying to lose 20 pounds of fat or 10 pounds of fat or whatever, it’s going to take you longer than you think it will. Ashleigh (33m 1s): If you plan for two months, it might take you four and you have to be okay with that. And most people give up right at that point where this was supposed to take me four weeks. It hasn’t worked. I give up when, if you had kept going for another two, three weeks, you would have seen the, the progress that you wanted. So again, especially for women, because our bodies like to hold onto fat, like we don’t lose gain as easily, generally speaking as men do. So we have to have a plan in place. You have to stick to it consistently. You have to trust the process and you have to be patient. Ashleigh (33m 33s): And I mean, I think another thing that I had to come to terms with being sort of a smaller woman is we have less wiggle room in terms of like leniency with like our calories and our choices. Just being honest. I’m not, I’m not saying that you can’t lose weight and, and not be super restrictive. Like you can still have things that you enjoy. You don’t have to cut anything completely out of your diet. But like for somebody like me, if I want to lose body fat, if I have a cheat day on the weekend, I can completely undo the work that I did all week. Ashleigh (34m 5s): Or if you’re even doing the, like, I’m going to eat healthy, but have like one little treat a day like that one little treat could be the difference between me losing a pound of fat this week and not right. So smaller people. And this is a problem. I feel like with a lot of the way we, we position and show food sort of in North America. Like, for example, if you and I go to a restaurant and we order entrees, we’re getting the same amount of food. Right, right. Like, you know, I could be there with my 200 pound partner and he’s going to get the same food, the same amount of food that I ordered if we order the same entree and I’m half this size. Ashleigh (34m 39s): And of course, I’m not going to be the person to say, there should be like, women’s size portions at a restaurant. Like I would kill somebody if they came up with that idea. But it’s like, we, we don’t have any concept of like portion sizes and what’s appropriate for our bodies. And neat. Like if I sit down with him, I’m gonna eat the same amount of food he is. If it’s in front of me, so, okay. I’m ranting now. But I think that like some of the key points, some of the key takeaways are whatever your plan is, you have to just trust the process. Be patient, be consistent. There is no such thing as like the magic pill or the quick fix. Ashleigh (35m 12s): You’re gonna lose seven pounds in a week. It’s not sustainable. It’s not healthy. You have to really be dedicated and want it. And it’s going to take you awhile. Brad (35m 20s): Do you think success comes in sporadic manner sometimes where you have a breakthrough that you are like, you you’re, you referenced just missing out on that chance because you’ve worked hard for a few weeks and then a breakthrough could occur where it goes in a stairstep manner rather than, you know, I mean, we know that like the calories in calories out equation is, has so many variables to render it entirely irrelevant. So what is like, what has worked with your clients too, in terms of getting, getting those results and, and keeping them, you know, years down the line. Ashleigh (35m 57s): Yeah. I mean, I think you can have some of the sporadic stuff, but I think a lot of it is like the beginners progress that people see, like when they first start caring about the food that they eat or they first go into powerlifting and they shoot their deadlift up by a hundred pounds, cause they’ve never done it before. And then you get this plateau. But I think one of the things that I have noticed and I’ve had to deal with the most with clients has been doing the work of really creating a personalized plan for individuals, empowering them to listen to their bodies and their brains when something isn’t working and be willing to adjust. Ashleigh (36m 36s): So I did just say trust the process and be patient. However, one of the things that I’ve noticed with folks who are coming to me that have found a plan that works and very often these days it’s keto, because that’s just sort of a big, a big movement right now. So somebody who’s overweight, they started doing keto, they cut all the carbs out of their diet. They lost a bunch of weight and they’re like, this works for me super into it. I’m keto person, I’m keto for life carbs are the devil. And then at a certain point, they start to have either plateaus or regressions or they’re having issues or not feeling good. Ashleigh (37m 11s): And there’s, they’re unwilling to make changes. They’re so rigid because they had the success in the past. And like, this has to be it, this has to be the answer. I can’t, I can’t adjust and evolve from here. And so what I usually end up doing with people like that is, you know, very slowly and patiently and we work together, we kind of start uncovering like, okay, well, what are the issues that you’re having? And could this be because you’re being too restrictive over here or, you know, could there be an issue where maybe if you incorporated some healthy carbs back in, sometimes around your workout, maybe you’d have a bit more energy, you know, whatever. Ashleigh (37m 46s): We kind of work on stuff like that. But if you become too rigid, stuff works until it doesn’t right. And you have to be willing to listen to yourself and trust yourself. I have so many clients who are like, you know, I’m just, I’m scared. Like, can you tell me, can I eat some strawberries? Like, you know, and I’m just like, I think that you’re smarter and you know more about your body and how it works. Then you give yourself credit for people just want to, you know, trust the latest thing. Because again, you see people on Instagram and it worked for them and they dropped a bunch of weight and I get it. Ashleigh (38m 17s): But I think people just, just, it takes longer. It’s more work to come up with this personalized approach that works for just you, but it’s so worth it when you figured it out. And then you can empower yourself and know, and like listen to your body’s signals and listen to what your body is telling you. And then you have so much more freedom and flexibility and power in your life. When you go that route, Brad (38m 39s): Where does fasting relate to these personal designs? Is it work for some people and not for others? Ashleigh (38m 48s): Yeah, I think so. I mean, I think I I’m like big on the, it’s more complicated for women train because I just think that it is, I think that our hormones are so much more complicated and I, I, with my podcast, I focus a lot on speaking with functional physicians that work with women specifically in women’s hormones, because there is just so much more going on there and not to say that it’s always completely different for men and women. Like a lot of times things are, we’re more similar than we think, but I think with this kind of stuff, with fasting and with carb manipulation and stuff, I think there is a lot of evidence that it’s just more complicated for, for women. Ashleigh (39m 25s): I personally have never really been much for fasting just because also I recognize I don’t really need it. Like I, I think that there are certainly benefits for longevity and for just resilience and metabolic flexibility, but I just, it’s not something that I’ve ever really felt the need to do on a regular basis with that said, I have done the work of becoming what I believe to be metabolically flexible so that I can, you know, if I go a week without eating carbs, I’m fine. And if I go 24 hours without eating, I’m fine. And then if I decide to eat some carbs, I’m also fine. Ashleigh (39m 56s): So that took me a while to get to that point, right? Like I’ve had to play around with a lot of stuff. I had to beat keto for awhile. I had to gradually work on the fasting to get there. And like, for example, this, this spring, you know, while we’ve all been kind of dealing with the pandemic and quarantine and self isolation, things like that, I started incorporating daily intermittent fasting in a way that I had never actually done before, but I did it because I wasn’t going to the gym anymore. I was moving a lot less. Ashleigh (40m 27s): I was recognizing that my energy needs were changing. And so I decided to experiment with it a little bit. And so I’ve done this sort of compressed eating window where I basically eat lunch and then kind of an earliest dinner. And that’s it. And I wasn’t doing that before. Like when I worked out and I go to the gym and I bust my ass every day, I was eating breakfast and happy to do it, but it was, it goes back to, again, I, it was self experimentation. It was listening to my body. Like I was waking up and I’m like, look, I’m just not as hungry. Cause I’m not running around as much. And I’m recognizing that my body’s needs are changing. Ashleigh (40m 58s): So, I mean, I think there’s certainly a place for fasting for a lot of people. But again, I like to consider the things like keto and fasting and carnivores and all of these things as tools. They’re not a lifestyle necessarily. It’s not a rule that anyone needs to follow forever. I think that these are good tools to have in your toolbox to be able to pick and choose and play with as needed. Brad (41m 21s): Yeah. Another tool I guess, would be to eliminate nutrient deficient processed foods and have that be in your toolbox, you know, forever. And then I think starting a certain healthy baseline were possibly in our group here, guilty of over-analyzing and being, you know, maybe, maybe putting too much emphasis on diet. Dr. Cate Shanahan tells me that numerous times when I’m consulting with her about my own peak performance and my blood work and all that. Brad (41m 53s): And you know, if I get too far down the road, she goes like, well, maybe there’s other things besides diet that matter here and diet your diet’s fine. Oh, wow. What an amazing insight. So I think a certain percentage of the listeners to the show for example, are so tight and have such, you know, extraordinary selectivity and, and, you know, are doing a great job that it’s, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s no big deal if you switch it up and have breakfast now and, and don’t have it during, during quarantine. But I think I’m also kind of alarmed at the rationalizations and the cop outs that people verbalize. Brad (42m 31s): It was saying things like everything in moderation, Hey, what’s the big deal. I’m going to enjoy a little treat here and there. And I mean, I did a show talking about the fatty popcorn boy, which was me, where I was enjoying, you know, popcorn in a celebratory manner with family gatherings, I’d make this great popcorn and put a Persian lime olive oil on the top and extra salt. And it was so delicious. But since I don’t eat that stuff very regularly, you know, I enjoyed the heck out of it so much so that it became sort of a habit. Brad (43m 1s): And all of a sudden, you know, here comes seven pounds of extra weight on me that I’ve never noticed in my whole adult life. I’m like, what’s going on here? Oh, I’m the fattyPopcorn boy. Right. A little bit. So I don’t know how that directly relates to your story, but I think, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of constant reflection necessary to make sure that, you know, we’re, we’re going with the flow and using our intuition and those skills besides just being robotic about it, I guess. Ashleigh (43m 29s): Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, moderation is very difficult. Like I said, that’s why it’s, Brad (43m 34s): Besides, besides the fact that, you know, it could put you in a, in a lull. It’s pretty difficult to do anyway. Ashleigh (43m 42s): It’s very difficult to do. And it also is such an arbitrary term and it means different things to different people. And balance is the same thing. Like those words are almost basically meaningless because to me, moderation is again, being able to like eat carbs one day and not eat carbs the other day. And to some people, moderation is eating ice cream four times a week. And for some people, moderation is having cake on their birthday. Like it doesn’t mean anything. So I think, again, it goes back to your particular goals, your particular set of sort of challenges your physiology. Ashleigh (44m 14s): And like at the end of the day, it is true that some people can get away with a lot more than others. And we just have to know these things about ourselves. We have to know what the triggers are. Like my big thing with deciding about like suboptimal foods is always about, you know, life is, life is a life is. And if you love cookies, you really, and it doesn’t make you sick or whatever. Like you shouldn’t never eat cookies again. Right? But I will eat stuff that I don’t even really like, cause it’s in front of me. Cause I, you know, we’re all, whatever the chips are in front of beneath the chips, I don’t really like chips. Ashleigh (44m 47s): I can go the rest of my life. This might be crazy. I could go the rest of my life without eating pizza and chips and French fries. If I could eat sweets all the time, like that’s what I love. I love sugar. So for me, it’s about like setting up your lives, that you don’t have these sort of temptations that aren’t even really worth it. You know, I don’t tell people that you can never eat anything you enjoy ever again. But when you have crap in a house you’re going to eat crap. When you go to places and enable the situation where you’re just sort of eating convenience foods and stuff like that, like it’s going to happen. Ashleigh (45m 19s): Cause we’re all the same. Like nobody is, is above that stuff. We’re all, you know, tempted by these things. So just figure out what really makes you happy. What really matters to you, what your goals are. And then you can set these behaviors in these patterns in place to enjoy your life and achieve the aesthetic or performance goals that you want. Brad (45m 42s): Yeah. And I think transitioning from something that’s, you know, something that’s unhealthy into healthy habits is really a, it’s a matter of repetition and endurance and doing something over and over until all of a sudden you don’t miss it anymore. Or you’re accustomed to, you know, making the right choices in the grocery store. And I think, boy, it’s so hard to make that, to make that bridge because we’re usually just, you know, at the, at the influence of our environment and whoever’s around, or some friends came over and they liked to drink. Brad (46m 21s): So I drank a ton last night and you know, those are, those are the most powerful influences we have. But if you have a habit that overrides that some of these things that we’re concerned about, that’s, that’s pretty awesome. And it’s not that hard, but for some reason, you know, we get, we get stuck at that point where it hasn’t quite made it into the category of habit, like brushing your teeth or, you know, locking the front door at night or all these things that we don’t worry about. And for me, I referenced my morning stretching, flexibility, mobility routine, cause just for the heck of it, this is now three and a half years ago. Brad (46m 56s): I said, you know, I’m going to do something every morning to, you know, help, help get my muscles more prepared for the sprint workouts. Cause I get so sore and stiff afterwards. And it’s been like one of the greatest life changes I’ve had in my adult life is that no matter what, every day I do this thing, I don’t have to think about it much. It’s very regimented. It’s 20, it’s 35 hamstring kick outs, 20 frog circles, 20 the other direction, blah, blah, blah, all the way down to the end. And boy for someone who goes with the flow anyway, and I answer to myself and I’m self employed and all those things, it’s a great anchor for me. Brad (47m 30s): And it feels like the same thing can be applied to diet, exercise, even communication skills, whatever it is. Right. Ashleigh (47m 38s): Yeah. Absolutely. I wanted to ask, actually, when we were talking about fasting, do you, are you fasting these days regularly? Yeah, I think Brad (47m 49s): It’s kind of been on a similar journey to you where there’s been so much trial and error and writing books about keto. Of course, you’re obligated to prick your finger and measure the blood ketone levels, which I did every day for months and months while Mark Sisson and I were working on The Keto Reset Diet and I got scar tissue on my middle finger to prove it back then. But I think again, like once we break through to the other side of that world of metabolic flexibility, then you’re, you’re, you have so much power to, to thrive without worrying about the particulars. Brad (48m 24s): And so now I think that the next great breakthrough, the number one bestseller here it is, I’m gonna, I’m gonna lay it on you is, you know, just eating according to your appetite and being really in close touch with your, your, your true needs and your true satiety point rather than stuffing your face. Like I used to do as a triathlete, I’m still working through, you know, that, that mindless over stuffing of calories because I really truly did need them the next day back when I was training six hours a day and I don’t need them anymore, but I still might overeat just because it’s one of my behavior patterns, but I I’ve had good success with that, but I’m not like wedded to any strict pattern, but I will say Ashleigh, like one of the things that’s really influenced me dating back to, I guess, April 19, when I first was exposed to a podcast from Sean Baker and Paul Saladino was this carnivore argument. Brad (49m 18s): And it just really punched me in the face and caused me to reevaluate my longstanding beliefs and my, my rigidity about what was healthy and what wasn’t. And just, just the pure idea that maybe you don’t need plant foods to survive. Maybe they don’t need to be the centerpiece of everyone’s diet because that was the only thing we agreed upon with the plant based community. And then you had the paleo and the keto but everyone said, Oh yeah, eat your big salad. And you’re a big winner. And now these guys are coming out of nowhere, but with tremendous credibility and research behind them. Brad (49m 50s): And so, you know, I use this carnivore emergence as a way to engage my critical thinking skills and my open-mindedness. So it was sort of like an exercise for me to open up and consider an alternative point of view. I tried to do the same with someone who’s banging the vegan dogma into my, into my brain, but that one’s a little harder to absorb, Hey, don’t eat the way that humans have eaten for two and a half million years. Cause this is cooler and morally superior. I couldn’t really go there. Brad (50m 20s): But with carnivore, I think the point I was making is, you know, I’ve made a shift and it’s a distinct shift from going around and, and rummaging through the grocery store to find as much plant matter as I could and coming home and stirring it up in a big pan, which was, you know, my lifestyle for a long time. I was trying to be the healthy eating guy. And so now I’m sort of in a carnivore-ish dietary pattern where I get most of my calories from the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, like pasture raised eggs and the organ meats, I’m doing better and better with that. Brad (50m 53s): And you know, just good choices and all in all in all realm. But boy, that’s been a kind of an eye opener for me. So I thought I would, I would share that. Ashleigh (51m 2s): Yeah. I mean, I, it’s funny, I just spoke to a Paul Saladino for my podcast too. Cause you know, I it’s, it’s funny too. Cause like looking back, you know, I agree with what you were saying about one of the common threads with all of these healthy diets. Cause always like plant based. It’s just how much protein, how much animal protein you add from nothing to a lot. But I always looking back, you know, when I was a hundred percent paleo and very, very much into the paleo world, I was always more what I would describe as meat-based like protein based paleo. Ashleigh (51m 35s): Like I was the, instead of the big ass salad with like a sprinkling of protein on top, I was like the hunk of meat and then maybe some vegetables on the side. And that’s just the way that I, I sort of naturally was I was attracted to that. Like that’s just what my body craves. And then when I learned about carnivores and again, I’ve kind of experimented with that a fair bit and I still consider carnivore to me to be like a tool, almost more of like a reset kind of thing. Like maybe if I had a bender of a weekend or if I just find myself sort of edging up in my portion sizes and I’m kind of eating too much, I need to like reset that satiety signal. Ashleigh (52m 11s): One of the things I’ve found to be the case. And I know that we’re all individual and so different people have different experiences with this, but for somebody who does tend to be a quantity eater, I like to eat a lot. And who often times has trouble, especially when I’m stressed, turning off like, like stopping when I’m supposed to stop eating. Right? Like it’s a very common thing. If we, especially, if we have food that we liked or that we’re just mindlessly eating, we’ll eat more than we need to. And I’ve really found that the carnivore approach as like a reset, a temporary reset, worked really well for me because I don’t think that there is a macronutrient that, that satisfies you more explicitly than protein. Ashleigh (52m 52s): And you know, people talk all the time. Like I could eat a massive steak or whatever, but when you’re eating only meat, every time you’re hungry, you have to really be hungry to sit down and cut up a giant steak and eat it. Or if you’re eating a bowl of ground beef, even it’s delicious, you’ve got some great salt on it, whatever your body is going to tell you, like, okay, you’ve had enough. Like you don’t tend to massively overeat animal protein the way you can even on a ketogenic diet. Right? Like I had that problem when I was doing keto and not to say I did it perfectly, but I can still overeat fat pretty easily pretty quickly. Ashleigh (53m 25s): Right? I just found that the current of our approach, it really worked for me again as a, as a temporary sort of thing. But one of the things that I kind of pushed back with folks like Sean Baker and Paul, and like, you’ll see like the Chris Bell’s of the world and stuff. I remember last year at keto con when we were all allowed to gather in places together. And I was kind of giving them a hard time because it’s like what a lot of people think about carnivores they think about In and Out burger and steaks. And I’m like, you can, you can do a lot more with carnivores. Ashleigh (53m 57s): Again, it’s all kind of up to your own preferences and your physiology, but like you should be trying to get as much of a variety as possible even when you’re just doing carnivores. So you should be eating all kinds of different animals and different parts of different animals and different ways of preparation, because you want to have variety. You want to have different texture. You want to get all the amazing vitamins and minerals from different parts of the animal and different animals and things like that because yeah, you can just get forward. If all you’re doing is eating steak. I mean, steak’s delicious, but that gets boring. Ashleigh (54m 28s): Like you get like tastes fatigue and texture fatigue. So when I do it, you know, and I haven’t really eaten like strict carnivore for more than maybe four or five days, but I’m eating seafood and shellfish and organ meats and you know, I’m eating like pork rinds and stuff like, cause I want to crunch and someone kind of really playing around with it, but I very much like it as a, a temporary tool. Brad (54m 54s): Well, speaking of organ meats, tell us about your exciting project that you’d been immersed in. Ashleigh (54m 59s): Yes. Very, very excited. My big project this year is I’m a cookbook. It’s a nose to tail cookbook, but really specifically it’s about organ meats And when I was coming up with this idea, I had just, you know, over the past couple of years, as I’m sort of evolving in my journey through paleo and healthy eating and learning about nutrition, I was starting to just become more and more interested in organ meat. And I think a lot of it is about certainly nutrition, but also there’s a really big conversation that kind of ebbs and flows in our industry. Ashleigh (55m 33s): But it’s really big right now about the ethics and the sustainability of eating meat. And I think that it’s sort of a no brainer that if you’re going to kill animals to eat them, that you should honor that animal by eating all of it and that you can also enjoy so much greater health. If you’re eating the actually nutrient dense parts of the animal and that’s throughout history throughout every culture and throughout all of human life, we have eaten the entire animal. And in fact, when we followed our actual sort of instincts, instead of what, you know, the grocery store tells us to eat, we were going for the organ meats first. Ashleigh (56m 12s): I mean, that’s what hunters did. They would, they’d cut out the heart and the liver. And they eat that really dense nutrient rich stuff first and the muscle meat, you know, it was leftover and they’d eat it. And then I think through, throughout this process of learning about organ meats and making this cookbook, I also really learned that you can, you can enjoy it. It doesn’t have to be something that you sorta, you know, choke down because it’s good for you. And you have your like one ounce beef liver a week and you kind of just get it in. Like you really can’t, I’m not a chef, you know, I’ve, I’ve experimented a lot and I’ve worked really hard over the last year, cooking all kinds of crazy stuff. Ashleigh (56m 46s): And I’ve learned how rewarding it is to make something maybe that you’ve never made before. It’s delicious, it’s nutritious. You make the people around you happy and they eat it and it’s not scary. It’s just so arbitrary, you know, that we think organ meats are extreme and weird. It’s completely arbitrary just because it’s unfamiliar. That means it’s extremely weird and it’s not, it’s, it’s another part of the animal you’re already eating. I mean, it’s, you know, so I’m just trying to encourage people to kind of have an open mind, open mouth, you know, enjoy, enjoy some, some different things and see what doors open to you, you know, when you’re kind of open minded, willing to try some new things. Brad (57m 24s): Yeah. How do you think this happened, Ashleigh, where it’s, you know, it was an ancestral centerpiece. So for so long it was, you know, the, the ultimate, I mean the, the hunters grabbing the bounty and animals in the wild, when they bring down their kill, they go right for the liver, the most nutrient dense food ever measured. So who was in charge of transitioning us over into the steak and hamburger world? Was it McDonald’s ,Burger King, Carl’s jr. Brad (57m 57s): The rise of fast food or where did we sort of depart from ancestral traditions? Ashleigh (58m 3s): Yeah, I mean, I feel like it was in my research. It sorta seems like all of the above, but also, you know, when we sort of moved from even certainly hunter gatherers, and then we moved into this kind of traditional agriculture, and then we moved into this really industrial factory farming kind of situation. And we also moved from small local butcher shops to big box grocery stores. And when that happened, organ meats generally are a little bit more delicate, so they’re maybe more difficult to ship. Ashleigh (58m 34s): They’re more difficult to store. There are sometimes more labor intensive to prepare. And so they’re more difficult cuts of meat. And when we were moving to this, like mass produced kind of animal protein meat supply system, and then also these larger big box stores, they just didn’t really have the capacity to handle a lot of these , more like delicate, hard to manage organs. And so it was almost sort of more of a marketing push. It’s like all these big slabs of muscle meat that are easier to deal with transport and use and cook. Ashleigh (59m 4s): That’s the better stuff. Anyway, that’s tastier, that’s easier. That’s better. And so that’s sort of what started happening and all of these kind of smaller local mom and pop what’s your shops that would harvest their own animals and sell everything those started going by the wayside. And then, yeah, I mean, we like to do things that are easier and so cooking a steak is maybe easier than cooking sweet breads. And so there you go. And it just sort of fell out of favor and they became kind of specialty cuts and sort of interesting stuff that you wouldn’t do at home. Like maybe you try some sweet breads at a, a restaurant that were fancy and prepared for you, but you don’t know how to do that at home. Ashleigh (59m 38s): That’s crazy. And so that’s kind of what happened, but, and it’s unfortunate because people are really missing out on some delicious stuff. Brad (59m 45s): So how did you get going on this? Where, where were your resources and information, and then, you know, where do you get the stuff in Ontario? How did you, how did you become all in, on this, on this matter? Ashleigh (59m 57s): Yeah, I mean, it’s happened over a couple of years. I mean, I I’ve always been open minded and trying this stuff. So it had like, you know, when I first I grew up in Canada and then I, I graduated university and I moved around a lot. And for a long chunk of time, I was living in New York and you can get anything in New York. And I remember that at a certain point, I was like living really, basically in Chinatown. And so I was spending a lot of time going to like awesome dim sum some places and just sort of restaurants that to them, it, wasn’t weird to have organ meats and different things and chicken feet and gizzards and stuff like that. Ashleigh (1h 0m 31s): And I was never scared of it because it was always just like a new experience because, and this is what I try to encourage other people to try new things, because there’s such a low risk here. Like, what are you going to lose out on? Like, you try a piece of liver. You don’t like it you’re exactly where you started, but if you do enjoy it and you do feel better when you eat it, then you’ve opened up this whole new kind of avenue for yourself. Right. So I was always willing to try these things and I started just kind of increasingly got more into it. And then when I was buying most, I buy most of my meat here in Ontario from a local farm. Ashleigh (1h 1m 3s): And so I kind of was just experimenting with different things. Like there was bison and there was buffalo and there’s deer. And, and then I was noticing the results of deer heart and there was, you know, different stuff. So I really just kind of was like slowly picking and choosing things and trying stuff. And I was getting into my head. I have all these, you know, cause in this industry, I know so many people who’ve written cookbooks. I know this isn’t a normal bubble that I’m in. I just happened to know a bunch of people who have had these great cookbook successes. And I was thinking to myself, I’m like, I feel like I have an idea here. And I feel like I have the passion to do it. Ashleigh (1h 1m 33s): And you know, maybe it sounds super niche, but I feel like keto was niche a couple years ago too. And there’s a million keto cookbooks out there. So I’m like, maybe I’m on the cusp of something. Maybe this is going to be interesting to people. I definitely think it’s useful information. I think with people there’s, there seems to be sort of like a mild kind of a influx of people, like learning about hunting right now, like with this whole COVID thing and people learning that they need to be maybe more self sufficient. People are learning about hunting. People are learning about being again, being sustainable. Ashleigh (1h 2m 3s): And if you’re going to eat meat, let’s do this in the most ethical, reasonable way possible. And so, yeah, I basically just kind of started like playing around with, with the recipes and things like that. And it takes a little bit of a little bit of work. Like I will tell anybody, no matter where you are in North America, there’s different depending on the state or the province, some things are easier or more difficult to get. So like here in Canada, things like <inaudible> are pretty easy and you can get stuff like you can eat horse here and you can eat like some things that maybe in the States seem a little bit weird, but you’re going to have to like make friends with your local butcher. Ashleigh (1h 2m 38s): Like there are always specialty butcher shops. There are like ethnic markets, like African and Caribbean and Asian markets where they have all like all kinds of different animals and cuts of meat. So go around and ask and like ask questions and go to your farmer’s market and talk to the farmers there and just sorta do a little bit of the work. And maybe it can be a little intimidating for people. Like I remember asking some local butchers for some like especially rare ingredients and getting kind of some weird looks, but you got to persevere because it’s not weird. Ashleigh (1h 3m 9s): It’s not weird to ask for liver or heart or kidneys or whatever. And you just have to be okay with doing a little bit extra work and searching and really hunting and gathering your food, but you can find it. And there’s a lot of really good online purveyors at this point too. Like I don’t have any affiliations with any of these, but I know that, you know, us wellness meats offers a lot of organ needs and premixed sort of like liver pates and things like that for people who just want to kind of dip their toes in and companies like Bel Campo in the States that, that distributed nationally, that they have organ meats and stuff like that. Ashleigh (1h 3m 44s): So you can also do a little bit of research online and get some stuff to play with as well. What’s the name of your book it’s called? It Takes Guts and it’s, it’s literal and figurative because yeah, you do. You have to be a little gutsy to, you know, start this journey cause it can be a little intimidating and a little scary and you need guts to make a lot of these recipes literally, but it’s worth it. It’s worth it. Like it has been such a rewarding experience for me. Ashleigh (1h 4m 14s): It’s for my health for empowering me in the kitchen. And it’s just been so much fun. And I, it, my hope for other people who, who buy the book and who try it, they just have fun. Like just, you know, you don’t want eating something you do every day. For most of us, you don’t want it to be miserable. You don’t want to feel like you’re restrictive and settling and just eating what you have to because it’s healthy. You want to enjoy the process. You want to enjoy what you meet. And I think that this is just kind of an exploration of that and it’s been super fun for me. So I hope it is for other people too. Brad (1h 4m 44s): Well, the healing stories are pretty amazing where people are adding these unique elements to their diet. Probably never had them before in their whole life or even supplementing. I mean, Ancestral Supplements, the customer healing stories are just blow your mind where, you know, curing illness and dealing with nagging conditions. And all of a sudden they’re turning around with the onset of taking liver capsules or other organs and targeting specific conditions and just upping the upping their game in the diet is a huge thing. Brad (1h 5m 15s): I think it’s, I’ve had my own personal benefit and it takes some effort cause you’re, you gotta go source your things, but once you find your, your go to places, then it’s pretty easy. I mean, I’m, you know, I’m never without a big chunks of frozen liver because I found them in the store and then I’ll buy six amount of time. So I don’t have to worry about it for the next three months. Ashleigh (1h 5m 36s): Yeah. And the other good thing about especially liver, but a lot of these nutrient dense organ meats is that you don’t have to eat 10 ounces a day to get the benefits like you, like you said, you can have like, you know, a little chunk, couple ounces of beef liver once every couple of weeks and you’re getting what you need. Right. So you don’t, it doesn’t have to be like this crazy, huge overhaul. I think sometimes people think that like, all I do is eat organ meats and it might look like that. Cause I’m cooking a lot of recipes for this, this book, but no, you don’t have to eat. You don’t have to eat organ meats all the time. They’re that nutrient dense that you can just it’s it’s essentially like a food supplement. Ashleigh (1h 6m 10s): Really Brad (1h 6m 11s): Fantastic. Ashley. This is, I mean the best book title I’ve heard in years, it takes guts, go find it listeners. It Takes Guts to buy it. It Takes Guts to open it up. It takes guts to order the stuff, but then you break through the other side. I learned a lot of great insights from you. It’s a great catch up. We’ll we’ll do it again. But that was Ashley van Houten people. Thanks for being on the show. Ashleigh (1h 6m 34s): Thank you so much for having me. Brad (1h 6m 37s): Thank you for listening to the show. We would love your feedback at getoveryourselfpodcast@gmail.com. And we would also love if you could leave a rating and a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts, I know it’s a hassle. You have to go to desktop iTunes, click on the tab that says ratings and reviews and then click to rate the show anywhere from five to five stars. And it really helps spread the word so more people can find the show and get over themselves because they need to. thanks for doing it!

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