Dr. Joel Rosen: Alright, hello, everyone and welcome back to another edition of the less stress life where we teach exhausted and burnt-out adults the truth about adrenal fatigue so that they can get their health back quickly. And today we’re in for a special treat. I’m here with a colleague of mine, Brendan Vermeire. He’s the founder and owner of metabolic solutions, which is an institute dedicated to educating health professionals and clinicians with cutting-edge strategies to best serve their clients and patients.
Brandon is a functional medicine consultant, clinical researcher, board-certified holistic practitioner, Masters, nutrition coach, personal trainer, Master, personal trainer, sports performance coach, and CrossFit trainer when he’s not educating doctors and helping clients overcome their severe health struggles, Brendan enjoys things like fitness, and he’s probably going to be working out. He also enjoys anything in nature and activities that expand his heart, mind, and soul. So, Brandon, thank you so much for being here today.
Brendan Vermeire: Yeah, Joel, thank you so much for having me, my friend. It means a lot. I love getting to have these types of conversations. And I think this is where a lot of the learning and the healing takes place. I’m excited to see where we go and share all this info with your audience.
Dr. Joel Rosen: Yeah, well, thank you so much. I feel the same way. And you know, one of the conversations we talked about before getting started was we should which areas should we get into because we can go into so many of them. And I think mental health and how it relates to our audience and their fatigue and burnout, and we see such an epidemic.
So I’d like to go down that rabbit hole with you. But before we do, Brandon, why don’t you just share with our audience who may not know you and what you do just yet with your own personal experience and why you got into the area that you got into?
Brendan Vermeire: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks, Joel. It’s a crazy story. And I’ll give the cliff notes of it because I have a background in fitness nutrition. And I actually joined the Navy after high school for the seal program. Because I was my life goal when I was young. And whether that was a great idea or not, who knows. But that was the dream at the time. And I was about halfway through boot camp when they found out an inguinal hernia. So they had to medically discharge me and send me home because it wasn’t their problem. They deemed it pre-existing.
And so that was really, you know, a devastating blow for a young man trying to figure out life, you know, it’s either college or military workforce. And I chose the military that fell through. So I went back to my job, which was scrubbing toilets, a kind of janitorial work at the local health club that I worked out at constantly. And so it was kind of at this crossroads of trying to figure out well, do I go to college? And if so, what do I study, I was very passionate about fitness and nutrition. So that was kind of what was attractive. But fortunately, the Personal Training Manager at the gym that I worked at, you know, they all knew me really well, because I worked there, I worked out there I was pretty much always there. So they’re like, Hey, kid, like get certified as a trainer, we’ll give you a shot and see how it goes.
So I got certified as a personal trainer and nutrition coach jumped into that career. And honestly, I got exposed to so many really cool objectives, you know, health-related sciences, nutritional biochemistry, metabolic physiology, exercise physiology. And I just really fell in love with understanding how the body really works internally and how we can optimize that through our lifestyle behaviors, or fitness or nutrition, so on and so forth. And so that was kind of a launching point. But then, you know, here I am a little over a decade later where now I’m regarded as the leading expert and authority with like functional medicine for mental health in particular.
And the reason why mental health is such a near and dear subject My heart is I was first put on an antidepressant drug when I was 17. I was in high school, I was just doing a physical for sports. You know, there was no bloodwork no evaluation of any kind, it was just Hey, you’re, you know, seem to be a little bit depressed here Zoloft kid like hopefully, it doesn’t cause any, you know, undesirable side effects. So, you know, that was my first experience with psychiatric drugs at the age of 17. Whereas then it was you know when I was 18 and 19 that was really starting my career as a trainer and nutritionist.
I didn’t officially get diagnosed until I was 21 with major depressive disorder and ADHD. And now, I was put on three more medications of Wellbutrin, Vyvanse, and Adderall so I was on a cocktail of these psychiatric drugs. And it was actually two weeks later that I intentionally overdosed on one of those drugs and woke up in the intensive care unit. Breathing out of a tube after being in a coma for like three days. So you know, that was I wish I could say that that was my rock bottom. But it actually kind of got worse from there because I was after basically a suicide attempt in a really toxic relationship, living in a water damage tome that hadn’t had mold, and I didn’t know anything about that at the time.
So it was actually living in that environment, living in that toxic relationship, that toxic environment. That’s really where I hit rock bottom and was in that really dark place. And it’s like, well, you know, I had already tried killing myself, I didn’t really want to do that again, in the now my at the time partner, she was the canary in the coal mine and had a severe illness that nobody could figure out, we, you know, I could tell the whole story, but it’s the same story that everybody says with mold, it’s the nobody took them seriously, nobody could figure it out. Not a medical doctor, not a naturopath, not a chiropractor, nothing.
So it was really trying to navigate that time in my life that sent me on this path that I am now of, you know, psychology and understanding what narcissism is. And you know what gaslighting is, and all these kinds of more psycho-emotional principles, or methylation, or mold illness are all these things. So it was me trying to save her, it was me trying to save myself, that set me on this path. And I’ve just really run with it for years and years. And now this is what I do for a living. So I think there’s a lot of healing that takes place when you learn how to take your pain and turn it into your purpose. And I like to think that I’ve kind of done that. And so that’s a big part of why I’m so passionate about what I do.
Dr. Joel Rosen: And great, thanks for sharing that. It’s always a humbling experience to look in the mirror and see where we’ve been, but at the same time, come out the other side and know that that’s your purpose. It’s interesting. Just a quick little aside, I graduated with my exercise physiology first degree, my first two years were so crappy Brandon because I was playing for the soccer team. And I was 19. And I was away from home for the first time and going to class was an elective. I mean, not even an elective was an elective. And, and so when I finished and I graduated, I was a personal trainer for a couple of years, and I injured my back and I thought, Okay, this is what I want to do, I want to become a chiropractic physician, my whole family was our traditional medical doctors.
And I was always the sort of outlier and I didn’t want to follow in those footsteps. So when I went back to apply to the chiropractic college in Canada, it was not even close to what my GPA had to be. So I went back and got a second degree in psychology. And I loved psychology, I almost even forgot that I was going back to get a GPA to get higher, and just go into that into the psychology background. And what happened was, I ended up not getting in a second-year after I got my degree and it was all on a roll. And it was because of a technicality I was going to school part-time. And they didn’t because I had to work at this point. They didn’t consider part-time, something to boost your GPA had to be a full time I wish I would read it read the small print.
And I thought oh, what a waste the time I spent almost a year and a half, two years getting this psychology degree. And I could have just gone to the states and taken some fast-track accelerated courses and not get a second degree but how wrong I was Brandon in terms of now when I help people and I help them with functional medicine, integrative nutrigenomic exercise physiology. I mean, I had a CSCs certified strength and conditioning specialist. So that’s a people don’t know, that’s a pretty badass, you know, certification. But this psychology was huge because it’s a huge component, of what you’ve just alluded to.
So why don’t we go down that in terms of if someone’s exhausted and burnt out? Yeah, I hear about a positive mental attitude and why it’s important. But that’s like, what’s the real, I guess? Why is it so important? How does it impact our physiology? And why do why is it an essential component to what you learned? And now what you teach?
Brendan Vermeire: Absolutely, it’s, it’s a pleasure to talk about that kind of stuff because I try and give myself too much credit, but I would say I’m pretty mentally resilient. Dude. I mean, I’ve put myself through a few things that tested me on kind of the deepest level possible. And, you know, when you look at it, it’s kind of interesting, looking at my own career from you know, the outside because it is very niched into the neuroscience of mental illness, the physiology, and you know, if you follow me on social media and kind of look at my content, it feels like it’s very more kind of the clinical medical side of mental This will help.
But if you pay close enough attention, what you’ll really see that I tried to connect is, honestly, I think the physiology, which I’m sure we’ll get more into. To me, that’s like the easy part. Like if you know what to do, if you know how to put in the right input signals and remove the wrong input signals, your tissues, whether that’s your neurons or whatever, it will start healing. But my point is, I think the psychological, psycho-emotional healing journey is so much harder. You know, that’s mental resilience, that’s mental fortitude. And that’s not something that you can find in a pill, or a therapy appointment, or anything.
That’s, that’s a journey within. And I really believe, I mean, people like you look at the fact that suicide is one of the top leading causes of death, at least for Americans speaking for America right now. It’s the 10th leading cause of death for overall Americans, it’s the second leading cause of death for ages 10 to 34, the fourth leading cause of death for 35 to 55. All times is number seven. And we know through the literature that, you know, acute neuroinflammation causes more like depression, anxiety, kind of symptomatology, long term chronic neuroinflammation leads to neurodegenerative disease.
So we know of this from epidemiological research and mechanistic research and all these different forms of research, but ultimately, the psycho-emotional side, and how do you overcome your own psychological hurdles and barriers, that’s just a different thing entirely. And you can consume all the free content on social media, read all the self-health help books, but until you really dive deep within and start digging through your own dark shit, and facing it head-on and being kind of a bit of a savage to tackle it and overcome it. Nobody can do that work for you. And that’s the hardest part.
And so, you know, that’s where it’s like, sure I do all this cool stuff. Because my goal is to make it easier for other people Sure, take these supplements makes these lifestyle modifications, it’ll at least reduce the neuroinflammatory burden that makes the psychological journey easier. But at some point, you got to be willing to face yourself and everybody would much rather distract themselves and look externally than face themselves internally.
Dr. Joel Rosen: Yeah, no, that’s a great answer. And I agree with you, I agree that health in that concept is easy. If you don’t have enough of something you need, or you have too much of something you don’t need, you need to balance those. And for our audience, that’s how our body has been engineered in terms of homeostasis, and that’s our stress response system. And ultimately, it should be turned on when needed and turned off. And we have activity and then we recover. But obviously, that’s not happening.
And I would agree with you. It’s that the intangibles, the glue that really runs the system, which is the mental component and putting all the puzzle pieces together. Just as an aside, Brandon, when I do a functional nutritional genomic assessment, I always look for the very first gene that we look for is the O x tr empathy gene, where basically the oxytocin receptor has been shown in clinical research, if there are some challenges there that that person is potentially going to potentially doesn’t mean full-blown. But potentially, and when you ask them, It’s uncanny.
Hey, like Mrs. Jones, they’re potentially going to be more of an empath or more of stimuli impacts them greater and they internalize things, they’re more willing to listen, people can take advantage of them. They don’t know how to say no, they don’t time block their time. And ultimately, they get way more impacted by the environment than the average person. And if they’re not balancing the things too much that they need, or the things too little that they don’t have.
And they have that, let alone if they are balancing the things and they have that so I always start with that. So I think it’s really important in that context. So as far as one of the things we talked about is neuroplasticity, and how the environment is almost working against us with the influencers of excited Tory things like glutamate, and histamine. So, how does the environment with the environmental exposures and specifically what kind of things will impact what actually it means to neuroplasticity? Maybe you can start there. And then how does that impact our mental health?
Brendan Vermeire: Yeah, it’s a huge question, but I think one We can give a relatively simple analogy for that, hopefully, light bulbs go off. And this changes the way your audience thinks about mental health forever. Because, you know, we personal trainer science one on one, right specific adaptations to imposed demand. That’s, that’s like the very first thing you learn as a fitness professional. And of course, it’s more in this sort of reductionistic, like, oh, if we want big biceps, we put mechanical tension on the biceps and time understand attention to create the damn, you know, but that same principle applies to every tissue in the body.
And so my point being This is why I talk more in terms of input signals, if you want healthy tissue, you have to give it healthy input signals, if you want unhealthy disease, dysfunctional tissue, you put in unhealthy signals, right. And so then with I think, what makes mental health a little bit more confusing and challenging, you know, where it’s like your liver or your heart, it’s an organ, it doesn’t have sentience, right. It’s just tissue, it pumps it does its thing. But when we’re talking about your brain, this is kind of the house of your soul in a lot of ways. It’s, it’s the temple of sentience itself. So then we are kind of met with this duality of Well, there’s the psychological side of it, and more than mine to the body, but then there’s the physiological of the body to the mind. And it’s going both ways.
So we have to change the psychological input signals through your psycho-emotional environment. But we also have to change the physiological input signals through our literal physical environment. So when you start considering this is, you know, arguably, I’m sure like some, you know, conventional-minded doctors might, you know, get upset about this. But if we think about, kind of simplistically, the analogy, if you think about your brain as a forest, okay? acute inflammation is healing, right?
Acute inflammation is how we fight off pathogens, and we remodeled tissues, but chronic inflammation or inflammation that’s just brewing out of control. It’s just like a forest fire that’s burning out of control. So if you think about your brain as that forest, and you think about a chronic forest fire, that’s really what’s going on in most people’s brains that are living a modern lifestyle, right? We’re so disconnected from our natural roots. We don’t get enough nature, we don’t get enough sunshine, we don’t get enough movement. We don’t get enough good sleep, or hydration or nutrient-dense foods, social time. social isolation is a huge one. So when you look at all of the just facts about the modern lifestyle, it is so disruptive to our neurology to our neurochemistry and our neuroplasticity, which is the formation of new neural networks period. So our neurons are constantly changing the way that they’re wired to basically learn new habits, belief systems, behaviors, skills, so on and so forth.
So this is why, you know, geriatric patients with dementia are encouraged to do puzzles in exercise because that stimulates neuroplasticity and neurogenesis and it delays the neurodegeneration. But we can apply that same very true validated ideology to just learning how to re-sculpt our brain. So if you think about neurogenesis and neuroplasticity as like new trees and plants growing in the forest, and they’re growing together and changing the way that they’re connected, versus neuroinflammation as that chronic forest fire, it kind of becomes a balancing act of how much neuroplasticity neurogenesis versus how much neuroinflammation and excitotoxicity like you’re talking about with glutamate, so then when you start looking at what kind of factors are going to cause an imbalance with that, that scale or that that balancing act of homeostasis in the brain?
We start looking at like, insulin resistance and hyperglycemia drives neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration. You know, now they’re starting to call Alzheimer’s type three diabetes, or, you know, you look at all the oxidants and the toxic and the metals, the Phalates, and parabens and environmental toxins or mitochondrial dysfunction or stress being probably the most obvious big one stress being a primer for the immune system of the brain, nutrient insufficiencies pathogens. So basically you start looking at the standard modern American lifestyle, and diet, let alone the sociological psychology of living in the matrix world where everything censored and propaganda and all this social isolation nonsense.
Like, we don’t even really stand a chance from a neuro neurological, psychological mental health perspective, because we are just fighting this crazy uphill battle. But then all the while we have so much control over this, we have so much control over those input signals. But this is why it’s so important to understand this stuff conceptually because Once you realize you mostly have control of the vast majority of those input signals, you can start making those changes with your lifestyle, your environment, your social environment to start giving your body more of what it needs. So we can grow new brain cells in, you know, new neural connections that make you feel better.
Dr. Joel Rosen: Yeah, it’s true. And I love that you say that you ultimately have control because you do have control. And a lot of the times when I did a lot of the funk Neuros stuff in the house where you would balance the hemispheres do eye movements, do proprioception activity, or doing cerebellar work. We had a saying, Brendon, it’s like, it’s, it’s kind of like a catch 22 It keeps us in business because the environment has impacted neural plasticity and the brain. And I wouldn’t say that’s the good news. But we have a starving crowd if you will. But the bad news is they’re starving.
The bad news is that they have brain challenges. And it becomes super impactful. Because if you don’t realize it’s happening, or you don’t realize the physiological impact, or most importantly, you don’t realize you have control over it, you have that triple whammy for sure. And the other thing I wrote down is, is the word disconnected. I think this connection is such a huge problem, especially with everything you said, with all the stuff that’s going on, we spread ourselves so wide. And you know, I have I’m as guilty as everyone I have 17 windows opened up in the background, and I’m, you know, I’m micromanaging, all of those things.
But each one of those things keeps my disk connected in each of them. And then I’m not connected in any of them. And I find that to be true in just being present. You know, being present when you talk to someone turning off your phone, being fully engaged in what they’re talking about. Just listening and hearing what they say. And being a soundboard for them. How often does that happen? It just doesn’t happen anymore in today’s day and age.
And So anyway, so as far as an act, as far as your, what do you see as the best way to now circumvent that or, or empower someone now that they know, hey, you have total control over this? And yes, it’s beyond the point of it’s, it’s just ominous. It’s there all the time. But you have control, Mrs. Jones? So how do you teach that? Brandon, what do you do for someone to know that we understand that mental health is such a big component? How do we empower that person?
Brendan Vermeire: You know, it can, it can sometimes be a really hard thing because I think a lot of people, as you said, are very disconnected from the world around them. You know, we’re so plugged in and connected to a million things all the time. And yet we’re so disconnected from ourselves, we’re so disconnected from our heart, let alone being connected to others. And of course, you know, the quarantine and social isolation and everything going on with COVID are not helping any of that it is making it that much harder.
But you know, it really is like that movie, The Matrix-like we are all just so plugged in. And first, we have to wake up. And it is just like Neo in the matrix. It’s a very unpleasant awakening where you open up that tube and you’re looking around of oh my gosh, machines run the world and everybody is asleep and they don’t even know it. And they’re living in this fantasy. You know, kind of dystopian dystopia virtual reality thing. I like that movie. Ready Player One, that’s another one that’s kind of cute, and maybe a little bit less dark than the matrix. Nonetheless, I tried to bring a little bit of fun to this topic.
I mean, for one thing, can still function without fun. But, you know, when you’re talking to Mrs. Jones, or whoever it is, I find a lot of times these people they’re so lost within themselves. And I think they need they need a wake-up. But they don’t need that harsh wake up to this dark cynical reality they need to realize that you can choose like the natural world of nature and animals and mindfulness and presence in bliss with the universe and go watch that sunset. Or you can choose that dark, scary matrix world. And it’s Which one do you want to plug into? Right?
I mean, how much of our mental health would improve if we just disconnected from the internet for a week and when camping or laid on the beach in Hawaii or whatever it is, right? And of course, I know vacation and whatever might not always be feasible, but the point is, you know you have control over what You’re putting in your body of control of how you move your body have control over the rest you give your body you have control over what you’re feeding your mind. Are you consuming mainstream media that’s making it doom and gloom and everything?
So this is where we have to kind of gently pull them out of that sort of slumber. And what do you want for yourself? And how can we start creating that beautiful life experience right here right now? And I find a lot of it is disconnecting from a lot of bad stuff. And let’s start reconnecting with the good. But this is where, of course, too, I have to point out that, as I’m sure you can appreciate in our industry, functional medicine and Integrative Health, everybody kind of wants that quick fix instant gratification. Addiction is a very real thing. So it’s, you know, what lab testing do I do?
What’s the protocol to make that go away, like what drugs cover up those symptoms are what supplements, you know, treat that root cause anything to avoid having to do the real work, which is actually changing the behavior, changing the environment, changing the lifestyle, changing the belief system, right. And that’s where the real work is. Because Sure, there are some great psychiatric drugs, and like, just because I’m functional, I’m not anti pharmaceutical, I think there are some really awesome psychiatric drugs that are currently available that are coming down to the pharmaceutical pipeline.
I think they’re great to kind of sometimes. And there are all sorts of natural things like psychedelics is a huge area of research. And I think that’s an amazingly powerful therapeutic tool. But you can do all the pharmaceuticals or supplements or drugs or whatever. But if you’re not doing anything to change the belief system in the environment in the lifestyle, you’re still just fighting an uphill battle. So really mastered the fundamentals. And some of that can help along the way.
Dr. Joel Rosen: Yeah, awesome, awesome answer for sure. And unpleasing awakening is so true, in terms of, you know, people have that the I want to plant the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, wake up, and everything’s done. But the reality is, is that it’s going to take work. And that cognitive dissonance was a really big word for me when I first learned that, and I remember the professor saying, the cognitive dissonance had a little bit of a, an asterisk on it, it said, you know, Misery likes company, as long as the company is miserable as well. And ultimately, what happens is, I believe what happens is, people have an inner feeling of I know this is wrong when they do a behavior.
So they can either change the behavior and be congruent with the inner feeling. So that turmoil goes away, or they rationalize it, oh, it’s not really that bad, and they continue doing it. And that’s the unpleasant awakening that we’re talking about. And bringing back the progressive overload to impose demands. If you’d go too quick, too fast with whatever behavior change you’re doing. That’s what they call a withdrawal, or you’ve built up a chemical tolerance. And you’ll have some major challenges. It doesn’t have to be unpleasant. But you have to be able to start that process.
And ultimately, look at the end goal, and reverse engineer, and multi-steps, and not start with that end goal. And I think people’s eyes are bigger than their stomach, and then they quit before they even begin. And the last thing I’ll say, too, is with stress, and overwhelm, and plasticity, that frontal lobe almost doesn’t even fire anymore. And it’s just bombarded with cortisol, you’re in that primitive brain. And the amygdala is already characterizing that stress event when it really wasn’t even that stressful, and it creates way more stress than it was. And they don’t have that sequential planning.
Brendon, in terms of Okay, Mrs. Jones, what would you be doing if this wasn’t a problem? And they look at you like, What kind of question is that? I mean, I have, I’m looking at the back, like, with the problems that I’ve been, I’m looking ahead to that I don’t even know what that would be. And I think that’s key in terms of if you didn’t have this problem, how are we going to benchmark your improvements, not from moving away from the things that you have, but moving towards this thing that you don’t have?
So you can keep that in perspective? So maybe, talk about that in terms because I think that’s really what you’re saying, too, is that being able to give and empower the people that are really suffering goals or outcomes or specific measurable milestones that they need to start to embrace versus the pain or the micromanaging. Does it make sense what I’m asking you?
Brendan Vermeire: Yeah, absolutely. I think that was all really well said my friend cuz and I love you know the name of your podcast and everything because you know stress is a very well-established risk factor for developing mental illness and neurodegenerative disease. And you know, through the emerging literature, we’re starting to now understand how chronic HPA dysregulation causes this priming effect on the body and this priming effect of the center of the immune system. So then if there is some sort of immune challenge, whether it’s a stealth infection, like Lyme or mold, or it’s a virus, or whatever it is, boom, it’s the immune system is primed and ready for a much more exaggerated robust inflammatory response.
And so when you factor in how stress chronically stressed everybody is, plus how nutrient insufficient they are from depleted soil and processed food, and then they’re diabetic and they’re overweight, that’s all boosting inflammation. You know, this is why the current virus ripped through America, the way it did in America’s so metabolically unhealthy and unfit and overweight and stressed out and all these things in so this is where, you know, we have to change behaviors. And to your point that and again, this is the deeper and deeper I get into this and some of the cases I work with. Yeah, like I wish I had a medical license, I could prescribe certain things just to take the edge off, right, which is ultimately what the drugs are for, but now we’re in this overreliant sort of situation.
But yeah, if we can, at least if we were reviewing one of your case studies, and we talked about that of maybe this person needs a drug just to help get over that hump a little bit. Because changing behaviors, that’s a long-term thing. And with my background in nutrition and fitness coaching, which had a heavy dose of behavior modification, client-centered coaching, I feel that’s a really grossly missing piece. In functional medicine, we don’t really do a whole lot with trying to help induce effective behavior modification. But think about what we’re talking about.
Like, wait for a second, didn’t you say that neuroplasticity is how we create new behaviors? Well, yeah, exactly. learning new skills, learning new belief systems, learning new behaviors, we’re changing the way that your neurons are communicating with one another, to encourage or discourage certain behaviors. And so this is why one of many reasons why it’s such an important concept to understand. Because part of it. So back in the day with personal training, all right, you know, most clients where they want, they want to lose weight. All right. So how do you measure progress?
Because we have to have some sort of measurement that’s going to be objectively showing us? Are we making progress or not? Do we need to change your program or not based on progress? Oh, okay. Well, I want to weigh myself on the scale. Okay. Well, we all know, most of us know that the scale is a really crappy way to measure progress in weight loss. So this is what got me in the lab testing, I was like, no, we’re not using the scale in weight to measure progress. We’re using blood chemistry because I guarantee you that your internal biomarkers are going to change long before the scale changes long before the way your clothes fit long before you feel like you’re in a better place. Mentally, those biomarkers are going to be the most sensitive way to measure progress along with body fat, or vo to testing and some of that cool stuff.
But the point being, we have to have some sort of objective feedback that gives our neural limbic system, the sense of reward for our effort, the brain is wired in, evolved through the millennia to encourage us to develop neural networks that lead to reward because reward leads to survival, longevity, you know, you’re thriving, not just surviving. So at a very primitive level, our body is wired to go in the direction of what feels like a reward. So think of it like this, if you’re trying to lose weight, and you’re weighing yourself on the scale every day expecting it to go down to pound every week, or whatever.
And it’s not where you’re expending all of this effort, you’re going out of your way to go to the gym, you’re working hard in the gym, you’re restricting yourself in the kitchen, and you know, restrictive dieting and whatnot, that’s unpleasant. Your body doesn’t want to do that. So then when you step on the scale, and it tells you Oh, actually, you gained a pound this week, they freak out, and they lose themselves psychologically. But part of that is why would the brain encourage you to keep doing that if you’re not getting what seems to be a reward? So a big part of success is understanding this.
And understanding behavior modification takes time, and we need an effective way to assess progress both objectively and subjectively. And usually, the metric that people won’t like how my jeans fit or the number on the scale or whatever, that’s a really poor way to measure progress, we need to find something else that shows us, hey, you are making progress. There’s that reward for your neural limbic system. Now our brain is going to create the neural networks to encourage that behavior modification that then turns into a habit that you don’t have to think about.
Dr. Joel Rosen: Awesome. I mean, I already wrote down here on my page, part two, because I want to get into biomarkers and but what I really love about what you just said, there is behavior modification, with positive reinforcements, with seeing the big picture, but measuring yourself with the small, winnable, achievable momentum that really moves the needle, because a lot of the times to Brandon, it’s, you’re right, they’re not even looking at the important markers that will dictate or indicate improvements. They’re looking at the 30,000 view foot level. And I tell people like it’s almost the analogy of when you go for an X-ray, I think there has to be like 70 to 80% bone diminishment to appreciate it on the X-ray.
So what’s that, that’s telling you that at 69, or whatever the number is, it’s not seen? And then all of a sudden, I cannot believe it out of now here, I just have low bone density. It’s like, no, it’s been building up for a while. And ultimately, you’re looking at macro things, missing the shades of gray along the way. So it’s an awesome, awesome thing that you’re talking about. So as far as some of the important biomarkers, because I do feel that those biomarkers are important. You mentioned how insulin and glucose will drive up neuroinflammation, ultimately, heart rate variability, and that’s a measure of stress that you could look at.
The challenge though, with some of my clients was okay if I give them too many things. Now they’re on My Fitness Pal or chronometer, and they tracking their calories. And then they’re looking, it’s like, oh, it’s too much already. So how do you balance because that seems to be the theme of our podcast today is the Cinderella Goldilocks zone of not too little, and making sure you have enough stress that impacts your body, but not too much stress that it overwhelms you. Same thing with data tracking or biomarkers? Or how would you go about setting up, a protocol or a program for that person who wants to see those shades of Gray’s along the way? And they’re looking at certain biomarkers?
Brendan Vermeire: Yeah, you know, there’s the way that I like to assess progress myself. But then, of course, we always have to cater to the psychology of the client or the patient. So what resonates with them of how do they want to track progress? Now, a lot of the time, as I said, they typically are going to pick something that’s probably not really a great metric for tracking progress. So we kind of have to reverse engineer and motivational interview them to finding something that maybe is going to be a little bit better. So like with, you know, back in the early stages of my career with personal training, nutrition coaching, of course, they’re like, I would ask them that, like, how do you want to track progress?
And they’re like, well, the scale, obviously, because I want to lose 50 pounds in the next two months, or whatever I’m like, Okay, so here’s why we’re not going to do that. I have a better idea. Like, how about we use vo to testing so we can see that you’re getting more aerobically cardiovascular fit, you can take in more oxygen to burn, you know, fat, which is kind of what you want, right? Or how about we use, you know, very sensitive blood work. Now with that, usually, with like lab testing and biomarkers, I don’t want the client to be worried about the minutiae, right, like I don’t need them worrying about the details, I need them focused on the behaviors and mindfulness and staying in tune with themselves and being in tune with their biofeedback in their body. So a lot of times, it’s kind of like, well let need to track the bloodwork and the biomarkers, because then they get hyper-focused on the stuff of like, in that leads to silly behaviors.
So what I always like to do, kind of not letting them see some that so that way down the road, 234 months, whatever, when we do that retest, I can show them very black and white, like, Look, your glucose went from 120 to 90 and your insulin went from 12 to seven and your triglycerides and you know, whatever. So just some of those basic metabolic parameters. And then, of course, you know, this is almost a simplistic metabolic health. But if we kind of think about something more complex, like mold illness or lime, or let’s say autoimmunity, right, like tracking their antibodies to make sure the antibodies are going in the right direction.
So I think it needs to be a conversation with the client or patient kind of mutually agreeing on what are the metrics we most care about. Now that’s the objective with like biomarkers and lab testing, but subjects Actively, I use a questionnaire in my practice where essentially, they fill it out to denote how satisfied they are with each area of their life, you know, their financial satisfaction, their interpersonal, their romantic, their, you know, kind of physical, so on and so forth.
And I like using that, like every six months or so. And I don’t let them see the original. So that way, when they redo it, they can see like, Oh, look, you scored that you’re much more happy and satisfied with all these things. So that way, like, let’s say the scale hasn’t moved at all. But we have all these biomarkers that have gone in the right direction, their subjective fulfillment with their life has gone in the right direction. So it’s like, what are we really trying to accomplish here? Do you know what I mean?
Dr. Joel Rosen: Yeah, I learned that early cuz I like I, when I graduated with my first degree, I was a personal trainer. And, and I was frustrated by how selective amnesia these put these clients were in terms of their results and not appreciating them. And it’s not so much they don’t appreciate them. They’re just, it’s not being a guest. inhaled and, I guess, impactful on their life. And I think that’s really important. Because a lot of the time, I already know, before I work with someone, it’s gonna be a hard thing. And I’d say to get their results, and that’s because they don’t know what they want, right?
They know what they don’t want, but they don’t know what they want. And I think it’s really important. So what I’ll do is I’ll have them start with sort of the blueprint of here’s your, your major susceptibilities. And here’s how the environment overlaps with that, then here’s all of this past, I guess, past measurable questionnaires in terms of your perception of stress. And, and we can change your perception of stress, or your major life events so that you’re not being an ostrich and putting your head in the sand.
And like you said, just avoiding them. I mean, if you Those are going to come back, if something’s not being extinguished, it’s going to come back and be set ablaze. And then ultimately, as you said, figure out what those areas and I like four areas, Brandon, I like self-health. So whatever that’s defined as family and it doesn’t have to be immediate family, but support systems. And then Community and Social, which is a is now a pillar that’s not that’s been just crumbled to the ground with everything that we’ve been through. And then the fourth one is just their, their purpose or their higher calling, or what gives them energy when they wouldn’t have to get paid at all.
And they would do that. So then that way, they can benchmark their improvements to that. And then you could put in those biomarkers of Hey, your insulins at 13, we need to get it at you know, less than one or less than three, so that we can know that we’re making progress. But I’ll worry about that. I love that you said that. I’ll worry about that. Mrs. Jones, you stop micromanaging, you could be in the front seat with us. And you could be you know, making sure that you where the drive is, is comfortable, and it’s going the way it should. But we don’t want to give you that stress of the minutiae of having a balance.
So that’s, that’s awesome information that you said there. So as far as tools, I know that I’ve used now, it’s like a breathing device that you clip to your ear, I forget the name of it, but it helps with synchronizing your heart frequency with your breath. That’s awesome to be quite honest with you. And the interesting thing is, I’m completely neurotic. I have like a CGM thing on here right now. And the more I do that, with the breathing, the better my glucose control is, which is quite amazing.
And then ultimately, I have something called the brain tap, which is amazing for helping with getting your wavelengths to change from a stressful beta wavelength to a more Delta or theta wavelength. But do you have any hacks or suggestions in terms of tools that people can do to slow down that mental activity?
Brendan Vermeire: Yeah, you know, these days, there’s so many cool gadgets or things and ultimately, I am going to advocate for whatever is going to help that individual gain mindfulness in their meat suit in their soul in stay connected within. So I’m a little bit cautious about some of the gadgets and gizmos because sometimes I think it can be kind of externally pulling in almost distracting, but it depends I personally I’m not a gadget guy. I don’t want to track data every single day. For example, I’ve been having some blood pressure issues myself lately and I was starting to monitor my blood pressure neurotically and it was messing with my head. It was making me stressed and fearful.
It was like all I could think about and whatever. And it’s like, Okay, stop measuring calm down that stress response. And also my blood pressure looks great. So, you know, sometimes if we hang on too tightly to that external data, it almost is counterproductive. But it’s very contextual, it depends on the situation. So you know, if wearing that aura ring helps you track your sleep and your HRV. And that makes it a little bit more mindful, then great do that. Or if some people like to food journal to develop more mindfulness towards nutrition, or whatever it is, I personally, want to try to get them in tune with themselves. So you know, whether that’s journaling and making note of how their symptoms are changing, or what did they do differently?
Or what are they grateful for? So I tried to do more mindfulness-related practices. But hey, you know, I think HRV is cool. I think those continuous glucose monitors are really, really cool. So obviously, like a diabetic, for example, they obviously just have never learned the life skill of knowing how to really keep their blood sugar under control. And it’s not always their fault. Sometimes it’s just a skill that they don’t yet have that continuous glucose monitor, it’s probably gonna help them develop a lot of mindfulness towards their nutrition, and they can track their blood glucose, to be able to learn that new skills. So it’s like training wheels.
Sometimes you need the gadgets and gizmos in the data as that training wheels provide that external feedback, but the goal, nobody wants to ride a bike with training wheels forever. So at some point, once you’re ready, you take those training wheels off and go by feel.
Dr. Joel Rosen: Yeah, no, that’s an awesome answer. At the end of the day, I’m totally in alignment with you, it’s all about the results, and having lifestyle changes that support your being in that Goldilocks zone. So it’s actually part of your lifestyle. So I would totally echo that with you, for sure. I like the idea, however, again, of not micromanaging those biomarkers, but having a paradigm shift of those biomarkers. So the paradigm shift is how many people you and I work with that are chronically ill or depleted and have no quality of life that come and see you and say, Hey, Brandon, the doctor says my blood tests are normal, that has to change, right? That because of the paradigm that they’re not normal, but we’re not looking at the right thing.
So perhaps we need some better surrogate markers that we don’t have to micromanage on a day to day, but we set up the metaphorical or literal dashboard of our health. And it’s put in with different numbers that are quantitative that are qualitative, that don’t need to be measured every single day with the importance of are you getting closer to the defined set of things that will make you happy and your health in your you know, so I think that’s awesome information. As I said, I could talk to you forever about this as far as, as far as any specific I know, you’re big into exercise yourself. As far as how big of a role is that?
I’ll say this first I was really big into exercise. And it was one of the reasons I actually burnt out, you know, obsessive-compulsive and too much. And I recently said, You know what, I gotta just get back into shape. So I went from just recently I was at 20%. And now I’m at 14% body fat. My goal, my goal is to get down to 10% I’ve never been 10%. But I hired someone to help me with it. It was really interesting. I said, you know, it’s been tough. I haven’t been able to get down there. I know what I need to do. I’m just not doing it. And one of the things they said to me is like well, we find that when you want to lose body fat and if you want to get to 10% you would have to eat like someone that is 10% and I thought oh my gosh, I’m not eating like someone that’s 10% so that made a big impact for me.
It made me that much more decisive when I’m tracking my macros because it makes me aware of that but as far as for you. What’s been your secret to longevity and health and staying at a weight that you’re healthy with or happy with or oscillating up and down depending on your goals. What are some of the how do you console consistently? And what are some of the tricks of the trade for your success from practicing what you preach?
Brendan Vermeire: Yeah, you know, I think just like anything, you get better with time, you know, it’s a skill and as you master the skill set and you just ingrain that into your soul because it’s kind of funny how when I first became fitness nutrition professional, my health got worse, not better because I exposure to some of the science. So, I used to count all my macros weigh all my food, count the calories and macros and log all the food and journal my exercise. It was all very neurotic and obsessive and that caused a lot of stress. And a lot of it back then was fueled out of basically self-loathing and self-hate.
You know, I didn’t like myself. So it was this intense regimen to try to turn me into something I liked better. Whereas like, you contrast that to where I am today, like a decade later, where everything I do is out of self-love and self-respect. So that’s the more important takeaway is the paradigm shifted from what I’m doing is motivated out of self-hatred and loathing to now what I’m doing is out of self-respect, and self-love, and you can’t love and you can’t practice, like self-love without self-respect. And you know, like, oh, I’m gonna indulge in all this crap food because I love my No, no, no, no, that’s, that’s something else. You have to practice self-respect. If you respect yourself, you do what your body is needing.
And you know, that doesn’t always mean working out. Right. So that’s the thing I rest more now than I ever have in my life. I work out less now than I ever have in my life, I used to train a lot and train hard. But again, it’s learning how to listen to my body and give it what it’s calling for, whether that’s extra sleep, or extra calories, even though Oh, no, I’m not supposed to eat more calories. Well, that’s what my body is calling for.
And this is that level of mindfulness and intuitive eating intuitive exercise, intuitive living, that it takes time to gain that type of intuition. And, and it is a long journey. But I think by implementing a lot of things and paradigm shifts that we’re talking about in this conversation, anybody can do it, I really do believe that.
Dr. Joel Rosen: Yeah, you know, it’s, it’s amazing. So many things are going off in my head. But ultimately, I look about that congruency or the resonance of understanding your body at the cellular level. And, and what happens at the cellular level, which you mentioned earlier, really does happen at the 30,000 views, foot level. And like any relationship, if it’s gonna be successful, if there’s a communication breakdown, that’s where I think David Sinclair talks about communication breakdown is basically aging.
That’s what aging is, is when the body break breaks down in its communication. And ultimately, what it comes down to is, science is showing that it’s not the brain or the gut, or the nervous system, or the immune system, it’s all the same. And I think the more you know, yourself, the more you understand, everything’s communicating, and you’re living in that perfect amount of sympathetic parasympathetic balance, which is super key. And, again, I hope that you’re you’ll agree to come back again, to another podcast, because and soon because I want to get into that rabbit hole of understanding self-love, and your personality trait, what’s it called the anagram or enneagram. Yeah, so I just did that.
The other day, it was really interesting, I had a consult with a potential client, and she told me straight up, your personality does not meet my personality, and like, Okay, and then she’s like, you’re probably two or three. And I’m this. And I’m like, I had no idea what she was talking about. So I took that course. And it was like being hit over the head with a baseball bat because you do as a health provider. And we talk about that, that more empathic potential, where you cut your nose off to spite your own face. And there’s a lot of issues with that. In fact, you’re not holding integrity when you think you are.
And that was an aha, like, I thought I was being selfless, I was being helpful for other people, but really at the expense of myself, which is being selfish for myself, or selfish for not getting healthy, whatever, however, you want to mention it. So I think that’s huge. And I would love to explore that with you a little bit further. If we have another time to go through that. But any words of wisdom on that in terms of how you feel about that, or as far as being able to take that information and use it constructively versus because it is painful, right? It’s a painful thing to look at is flawed.
And you’re right, people just don’t want that uncomfortable behavior change. It’s easier to convince themselves that it’s not a problem until it is a major problem. But I guess what’s the way to overcome that fear or that that you know, that harsh reality of the things we don’t want to approach because they’re painful, but at the same time? They’re halting our progress?
Brendan Vermeire: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’d be a pleasure to have a part two anytime my friend and you know that that’s where I was saying earlier. that inner work is easily the hardest. And I think as I just touched on, you know, really getting brutally honest with yourself and asking yourself, what is it that’s motivating me Is it because I don’t like myself. And that’s why I’m doing this diet or this functional medicine program or that protocol or doing this or doing that we are we kind of distract ourselves externally chasing all these things to disguise ourselves and convince ourselves that we are doing something good for ourselves, all the while avoiding really facing ourselves.
And so when you actually look within and recognize, wow, I’m not really doing any of this out of self-love or respect, you got to start digging into why, you know, and you pull that thread, you’re gonna start digging into your unresolved traumas from the past, which is a whole other subject to get into. But ultimately, why why why do you not think you’re worthy enough? Why do you not think you’re lovable? And that really gets into your conditioning from the past, if somebody else made you feel unlovable somebody made you feel unwanted, somebody convinced you that you’re not worthy, and you’ve been telling yourself that same narrative for decades, and you didn’t even know it?
It’s not even your voice that’s on repeat in your soul, it’s somebody else’s voice. So you have to go digging way back into your past and figure out who made that inner child version of yourself feel that way? And how can you change that narrative and kind of heal that inner child, and then you can grow into the adult that you’re, you know, kind of meant to be?
Dr. Joel Rosen: Yeah, such words of wisdom, I can’t remember what the story was, but I’m going to butcher it anyway. So Buddha was sitting underneath the tree and one of them, the town, critics kept saying how bad Buddha was, and not the real deal. And this guy was the real deal. And then so he went to go visit Buddha and telling Buddha how terrible he was, and how awful he was. And Buddha didn’t say anything. And then the critic was saying, Well, why why are you not saying anything? And he said, Well, listen, let me ask you a question. If you give me if I gave you a present, and you refuse to accept it, who does that present belong to? And he said, Oh, it must belong to you still?
And he said, exactly. Right. So that’s the point is we don’t have to accept the the the gifts or the atrocities or we don’t have to accept that. So it’s part of the strategy as well, too, in terms of identifying it be, you know, changing the narrative, see, not having to accept it. And, you know, ultimately, those are huge. Those are really huge. Thank you so much for being here. So one of the questions I always ask in parting is, if you were to know or have the sage-like information that you have now for the younger, I always say the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Brendan, who went through some challenges.
And it’s kind of like one of those butterfly effects. If you could change it, you wouldn’t be here because this is what gave you your scars of beauty to be able to do this. So it’s a sort of a loaded question. But with that being said, without anything changing, what would you have told the more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Brennan, the sage, like wisdom advice for health or from getting further faster, or just having a more fulfilling shot, you know, just growth curve? What were those words of wisdom be?
Brendan Vermeire: You know, little boy, Brandon, he was a cool kid. And it is a little sad that you know what he went through. But what he turned into I think is okay, and I’m pretty content with myself these days. But you know, if I could I think about that a lot. I think about it often. And I think about you know, if I could go sit with a little kid Brendon for a while, you know, I’d pat him on the back and so on. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Lighten up.
Don’t take life that certainly doesn’t pay any attention or mind to what anybody else is doing or saying. Do what feels right deep in your gut. Have fun and really enjoy the beautiful journey of life even with the really painful parts because it just adds more vibrance to the beauty and makes the sunshine that much brighter. So you know, just some kind of ancient wisdom sort of things to steer that kid straight, you know?
Dr. Joel Rosen: Yeah, that’d be great advice, especially the patting him on the back and letting him know to pat himself on the back. Because I find people don’t do that enough with small little victories. They’re very quick to tell about their flaws. And you know that words of wisdom about, hey, if you talk to other people, the way you talk to yourself, you wouldn’t have a lot of friends, right? So you have to change that talk. But I like that’s an awesome answer. So how do my audience that is not aware of necessarily your work of art and what you do? How do they learn more about what you do?
Brendan Vermeire: Oh, sure, I appreciate that I’m not too hard to find on the internet. Instagram is kind of my main platform. And that’s at the holistic Savage. And I just put tons of good free, functional medicine, mental health stuff kind of content out there.
The business same as metabolic solutions, we’ve got the institute and self healer groups and stuff. So business, same metabolic solutions, but the holistic savage on Instagram is where I just pump out all the free content. So that’s fun.
Dr. Joel Rosen: Yeah. Awesome. And I’ll put that in my show notes. But give us the elevator sort of commercial on what is the holistic savage? And how did it get that name?
Brendan Vermeire: Yeah, you know, I have gotten some pushback on that from some people, because some people, you know, will choose to take offence to anything, even if it has nothing to do with that. So, but originally, I thought it was kind of funny, when I first came up with that, because why I created that as my username. So savage these days is used in pop culture to be like, cool, badass, you know, kind of thing. Obviously, there’s a very egregious use of the word, you know, in America in the past, and that’s not at all what my handle is referring to.
But actually, there’s an even older origin, Servoz, and French, which means wild in so really, what it meant for me is unleashing your wild side, because I think humans have become very disconnected from our more primal roots. And I really think the more that we return to symbiosis, return to nature. Return to a more primal way of living a more wild and free way of living. I think that’s where a lot of the bliss and harmonies so that was kind of the inspiration behind it. Is that returning to your authenticity, returning to that wild side and having fun with it, so
Dr. Joel Rosen: Oh, that’s awesome. Well, that’s great. Thank you so much for being here today. And I definitely going to take you up on part two. And I just wish you future success with everything that you do.
Well, thank you so much, Joel. It means a lot and I had a lot of fun today, my friend.
Dr. Joel Rosen: Matt, thank you up. Well hey, you to see up here.
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