Keepin It Real – With Gary & Nicole, Episode 2: Chatting About Paleo and Exercise

See below for the full transcript of the show:

Gary Collins:  This is Gary and Nicole here with “Keeping It Real,” episode two, where we’re going to be talking about Paleo and working out. A very interesting subject, don’t you think, Nicole?

Nicole Hellendoorn:  There’s so much to talk about. Let’s get right into it.

Gary:  I agree. We were talking previously, before we started recording this, about Paleo, CrossFit, using kettle bells, and other exercise techniques that people are getting into and getting injured. What’s your perspective on that as far as your beliefs on how the Paleo, CrossFit, kettle bells, well actually people lump kettle bells in with CrossFit, but actually kettle bells were around well before CrossFit.

Nicole:  I think CrossFit’s great, personally. I have taken maybe three classes ever in my life. I am not much of a heavy‑lifting type of person. I do do kettle bells occasionally on my own. I’ve taken classes. I do think CrossFit has a lot of things right. There’s some interesting pieces lately about where CrossFit is going as an organization and if its growth is at the risk of people not being as safe as they should be.

Anytime you’re getting into any exercise routine whatsoever, your current fitness level, your coach, and your environment play a huge factor. I think that people get really excited about something like CrossFit, because it creates such a sense of community and has such a strong identity at this point, but they might go a little too crazy and do too much, too fast. That’s probably where the injuries are coming from.

I was talking to my chiropractor the other day. She was saying that they’ve seen a huge increase in people injuring themselves with kettle bells and CrossFit. I don’t think that that’s CrossFit’s fault, honestly. I really don’t. I think that people are getting really excited. Their numbers are of attendees are going up.

Coaches can’t watch everyone all the time. If someone doesn’t know proper form or they’ve never worked out before, then their chances of hurting themselves, no matter what type of exercise it is, go up exponentially.

This not a CrossFit thing, because I’ve only ever been to three classes. In general, with working out, there’s not enough emphasis on before‑care and after‑care. Proper stretching. What to do when. If you’re sore, how to handle it. Foam rolling. I don’t think there’s enough emphasis on how to foam roll properly and alleviate any muscle adhesion. There are things you might get while working out that could eventually lead to injury.

I think people just get excited. It’s great that they’re really excited about fitness, trying to work out, but if you go too hard, too fast, too soon, you’re probably going to hurt yourself. There should be more of an emphasis on good management techniques ‑‑ the stretching, the foam rolling, that kind of thing. That’s my spiel.

Gary:  It’s the statement of walk before you run. With all my clients, I always emphasize walking in the beginning. They look at me like I’m crazy. I go, “Trust me on this one. Just walk 30 to 45 minutes a night.” They’re going to see a pretty big difference. We’re trying to get your body in tune, and get your muscles and joints prepared for working out.”

I have done quite a bit of CrossFit. I don’t do it any more now, and I don’t think I’m going back, because in my case, I have a major back injury that required a lot of surgery. There may be more surgeries in my future.

People go, “God, Gary, you’re supposed to be healthy.” I go, “No, it’s an injury.” It’s an injury I sustained in the military a long time ago. It just manifested itself. With the CrossFit lifts, I found that I couldn’t do most of them to anything where I felt like it was worth it. I tried some of the lifts. I went through the whole gamut of everything in CrossFit, all of the routines. At least I think I went through all of them.

I’m torn. I love CrossFit and the sense of community. I like that fact that they really push the Primal lifestyle. It has such a good vibe to it. It’s the friendships that are developed there. It gets you motivated. Part of the problem, though, like you said, it’s growing so fast that you get trainers in. In a weekend, you can’t learn to train someone. It just doesn’t happen. I’ve been in exercise for decades. Being able to teach someone takes a lot of experience.

That’s a good point. We didn’t talk about this, but the rule is, it takes 10,000 hours in something to become an expert, bare minimum. I’m trying to think what book that is. It’s a very well‑known book and author.

Nicole:  It’s called the 10,000 Hour Rule. I don’t know who…(laughing)

Gary:  We’ve heard it several times. The author obviously didn’t create it. Even Paul Chek talks about that a lot. It’s true. When you have people who are new to fitness and new to training in general, a lot of trainers are new to CrossFit as well. That’s my problem with some of it. It’s growing so fast that you’re getting a lot of inexperienced trainers out there.

This is something that takes a long time to develop and understand how everyone’s different, how to work with different individuals. They just put everyone in a box. No pun there. CrossFit gyms are called a box. That’s what I mean. They try and run everyone through the same routine. They tried it with me as well at one point. I had to stand back and go, “I can’t put and do squats with weights over my head. My back does not allow my hips to open properly. I have fusion. There’s no way my lower back is going to move enough and arch enough for my hips and pelvis to rotate.”

The look I got back was like, “What? No, just do it!” No! I’m not going to hurt myself again doing it. I actually ended up injured at the end of the last bout I did. My back was part of it, but it was other things. Have you gotten very many clients with injuries coming from CrossFit?

Nicole:  No. I do coach a lot of women. I know a lot of women who love CrossFit, love lifting. I do believe that women should lift weights. It’s important for our bone density as we age, but in general, they’re not the type of people that are CrossFit gung‑ho. That’s what you were saying.

What’s important is for you to be your own advocate. You need to know yourself, your limits, your body your fitness level. Any gym, not just CrossFit, any gym that you go to, know your coaches and know your gym. You’ve got to do your due diligence. That’s your responsibility. You have to be your own advocate. You have to know what’s going to work for you and what’s not.

Gary:  I didn’t want to sound like I was picking on CrossFit. You’re totally right.

Nicole:  No, no, no. We both agree that CrossFit’s great. I think it’s great. I love the sense of community. I love what they’re trying to do. They’ve gotten more weight into people’s hands than anything else over the last 20 years, which is phenomenal. I agree with all of that. I just think that people need to calm themselves down a little bit, take it down a notch, and know what they’re getting into when they start a routine like that, any routine.

I say this to my clients all the time. It’s important that you find a form of exercise that you enjoy to a point. You may not love it. There are people who don’t love to exercise. I get that. I’ve been there. I still struggle with it. You have to find a form of activity that supports your goals and your likeness. You have to do something that you’re going to enjoy to a point. If that means that all you do is walk, great. Let’s make sure you’re not pronating. Make sure you have supportive shoes, whatever it is.

I don’t get a ton of CrossFit clients. I do get a lot of yoga, Booty Barrel, ballet, Pilates, Piloxing type things. As women, usually, in general, it’s a different set of objectives with working out than you’ll see with a lot of male clients.

Gary:  That’s for sure.

Nicole:  In general. There are exceptions to every rule. I know a ton of women who lift heavy, CrossFit, whole nine yards. They’re amazing. In general, when are you’re talking to men, they are a lot more concerned with bulking, lifting heavy, being stringer, building up their shoulders. With women, unfortunately, a lot of them are still fixated on the number on the scale. All they care about is fat loss, so they’ll do aerobics or something like that.

I do try to steer them to a place that’s a little bit more weight‑training centered a couple times a week. Body weight, at least, at least use your body weight.

I myself, I’m a Pilates, cardio, high intensity interval, with weight, all mixed together, all at once. I need all of it, all at once, high intensity. It runs the board, but I do try to get a lot of women to not be so intimidated by weight, intimidated by a CrossFit style workout, or intimidated by high intensity.

Gary:  But Nicole, if I’m a woman and I lift weights, I’m going to look like the Hulk. I can’t lift weights!

Nicole:  You mean like this? (Nicole posing)

Gary:  Like you! Just ripped, just guns blazing all the time.

Nicole:  All the time. Guns out, guns out.

Gary:  I did a search on YouTube on Nicole and guns. It was you walking down the street in various places, just flexing. You can’t help it. If you got the guns, you got to show them, right?

Nicole:  It’s something I’ve struggled with. As you guys have seen on my website, I talk a lot about having always been built athletically, feeling like I have very broad shoulders as a woman, and always wanting for a long time to be small. I wanted to wear cute clothes and have a slight frame. That’s never going to happen. It’s not how I’m genetically built.

I tell people all the time that there is a certain structure you’re going to be somewhat stuck with. You can always change your body depending on how hard you want to work, but if you’re the type of person that wants to do a basic three to four day a week workout routine, you’re going to have to accept some things about yourself, and push yourself in a way that’s comfortable for you that’s going to yield results.

I’ve never had anyone who started lifting weights and got bulky. It’s not possible for women. Our hormonal profile is different. If you do start bulking, you might have higher testosterone than the standard deviation for women. Nothing wrong with that, that’s something your endocrinologist can solve.

Gary:  Very rare.

Nicole:  Very rare. Yeah, exactly. From that perspective, usually they enjoy it. It’s nice to wear a tank top and have toned shoulders. That’s what I tell people all the time. There’s been a lot of progress made for strength training with women over the past five years.

We have a lot of great role models, like Michelle Obama. No one would say that she’s not feminine, but she’s got very toned, amazing arms. She’s known for that. Actresses like Jessica Biel, who’s known as a paleo follower, who also does a lot of resistance and weight training, very sculpted, very muscular, toned body, definitely not super‑tiny in a petite, diminutive way. She’s got muscle on her, which is, I think, amazingly attractive.

We’ve come a long way with women in strength training. It’s great! I’d like to see that continue.

Gary:  Who are these people? I’ve never heard of these before now.

Nicole:  [laughs] Michelle Obama, seriously? 50th birthday?

Gary:  Whatever. I’m a guy. I don’t pay attention to any of that stuff. You know me. I’m more of the dirty guy. I had to take a shower just to get on this thing. I’m more of a caveman kind of guy.

Nicole:  Gary, why am I blowing out my hair if you’re not even showering?

Gary:  Hey, you’re lucky! I rushed to make sure so I didn’t look totally grubby. That’s what makes it a good balance. It’s a representation of different clients you’re going to be exposed to if you want to get into this industry and understanding them all.

I work out with men and women both. It’s different goals. It’s understanding that women have this already built‑in belief that they can’t lift weights, and guys have a built‑in belief that they have to lift weights. It’s a weird dichotomy.

I have to switch guys off to, “We need to use body weight, use some natural motion exercises. You will build muscle, and you’ll look a lot better if we do it right. Women, I’ve got to get them to lift a bit of weights to make sure they’re getting some resistance training in.

Yeah, it’s a balance. That comes with years of experience of being in what I do and being a former athlete. Yeah, I was Special Agent. I did all this investigation stuff in the food industry and all that. But I was always an athlete first, and I’ve always trained people. I started training people 20 years ago.

Today, it’s just not CrossFit, in general. CrossFit is at the forefront. I’ve read a lot of articles on injuries because of the fact that they’re getting a lot of new people, a lot of new, inexperienced trainers. It’s always been in the exercise industry.

Heck, you go to any gym. 90 percent of the trainers in there didn’t know anything about exercise just two months ago, until they got their certification. There’s lot of trainers that have zero athletic background or nutritional background. It’s obvious in the beginning, because they don’t know what the heck they’re talking about. That little certification does absolutely nothing for you.

It comes with experience and working with people and working with different types of people. If they stick with it, they eventually learn. The 10,000 hour rule comes in again.

That’s one of the things I tell people, not only working out, but in general, especially with the things I write about as far as nutrition and how to implement more of a Primal ancestral health regime into what you’re doing ‑‑ make sure where you’re getting your information from is from an expert. Make sure they know what the heck they’re talking about.

You wouldn’t go to a financial advisor who never went to college ‑‑ I shouldn’t say that, they don’t need to go to college to learn that ‑‑ has no background in finances and has never had a checking account. You don’t want to go to that person. They’ve just got a certificate. Why would you do that with your health?

That is a huge problem right now. You’ve got a lot of inexperienced people trying to lead the charge and leaping beyond where their experience is. That’s where a lot of CrossFit injuries are probably coming from. It’s on both sides. The client and the trainer are very inexperienced. You put those two together? Not a good formula. Actually, a good formula for injury is what you’re going to end up with.

Nicole:  It’s like with anything else. Of course, you can seek out advice, but you have to make the best decision for you. Like I said, you have to know yourself and take that responsibility on. Do your own research and figure things out.

Unfortunately, because we haven’t prioritized that sort of due diligence in terms of wellness, I’m actually interested to see…Going back to the men versus women thing. These are now the first few generations that we’ve had that have grown up playing sports, the same sports for both genders at the same level.

I’m interested to see how that type of behavior evolves where fitness isn’t just an afterthought where you go to some gym, you sign up, you pay 20 bucks, 24 hours, whatever it is, some chain gym, and you do whatever. No one knows what you’re doing, and you don’t have any experience. You might hurt yourself.

I think that there are is going to be a lot more knowledge put behind sports medicine, exercise, kinesiology, body mechanics. That should all tie in to ancestral health, clean eating, paleo eating, whatever you like to call it. I think that the next couple generations that are coming up ‑‑ probably early teenagers now ‑‑ should, hopefully, have a much better handle on what’s correct form, what they should do to exercise and what that means.

We are still dealing with a lot of people who never grew up being very active and never had a fitness routine as an adult. They’re new to things. They want to get in shape or they want to lose weight or whatever it is. They’re jumping in. They’re excited because they see all these amazing results from other people that are more experienced.

Gary:  That’s curious to see, too. You’re right. This generation coming up right now has been exposed to the least amount of exercise because all of your PE programs have been cut out of the majority of schools for budgetary reasons. The nutrition in grade schools and even high schools is deplorable.

I know where they get the food. It’s the same food they send to prisons and the military. I know. I was in those. Not in prison, but I used to go to prisons, and I’ve been to quite a few and seen what they eat. It’s the same food. I’ve seen the boxes, actually. I remember the boxes in the military, and what they would say on them, and I know what they say on the ones in jails. It’s the same box.

For the most part they have proven ‑‑ I’ve seen some articles on it ‑‑ that same food is in our school system. Yeah, it’s going to be interesting to see, as they grow up, the need for this information. Are they going to have more education and understand it better, or is it going to be worse? We won’t know for probably 20 years.

Nicole:  Obviously, I agree that there are cuts in fitness education and nutrition education in schools, but since the adults are more aware, it’s more in the households. I think that kids are playing more sports, at an earlier age. You have your AYSO soccer. I think kids, overall, are more active. On the whole, are generally more active, although it’s not through the traditional school PE programs. I think it’s more sports, after‑school sports. It’s being more towards competitive athleticism.

Because of the age demographic of 25‑ to 50‑year‑olds, the rise of Whole Foods, more Trader Joe’s, more knowledge around nutrition, people are starting to feed their kids better and give them a little bit more emphasis on what proper nutrition is. I think that there is greater awareness overall, I just don’t think it’s through the traditional structures of school.

Gary:  The information is more accessible than it has been. That is for sure, and that’s by just watching how the paleo movement has grown exponentially huge. This last year was a massive growth.

Nicole:  Oh, yeah. Have you seen the teenage bloggers? There are some of the teenage bloggers who are making these amazing paleo, grain‑free. They care about their food, they know about their food, and they’re making a blog about it. That’s super‑amazing.

I met this girl at the Taste of Paleo Festival, which takes place, this year in September, in Huntington Beach. This past year, I met a girl there. For her high school project, she was researching GMOs, their affect on our diets, what paleo was, and she did a whole 30 reset for her senior project. I worked with her on it, and it was amazing. It’s like, “Wow! Children are the future, you all. They get it.” [laughs]

Gary:  Yeah, that’s excellent. I actually just wrote an article on GMOs for a magazine called “Brink of Freedom.” It’s a brand‑new online magazine.

Nicole:  Is that the “NRA Quarterly”? [laughs]

Gary:  No, it’s by a former military man. He created this for people into self‑sufficiency. It’s a great place to go. You’ve got to pay for the subscription. It’s, I believe, or just look up “brink of freedom.”

Nicole:  Just Google it.

Gary:  Just Google it. You’ll see me on there, if you pay for the subscription.

It’s becoming more aware, and I was interested to see that there are a couple other articles in there already on GMOs. The teenagers are definitely starting to grasp it a little better. They’re also bombarded with so many other things. As far as me and you, we’re trying to get a clear message out there so people can understand.

That’s what my writings are all about. I try and keep everything simple, straightforward, and say, “You don’t need to have a ton of information. Just get the basics. Don’t go nuts on this stuff.” Human evolution has been going on for millions of years, so don’t think there’s this complexity to working out and eating. We did it naturally on our own, without any books, apps, and videos.

We figured it out. It wasn’t that difficult. It was part of survival, so don’t get too wrapped up into it, as far as the information and bouncing around. Find something you find is reliable ‑‑, plug ‑‑ and that you can get your information from, and someone you trust, and someone you like. It’s not only that, because you can find this information in many places.

A lot of it it’s personality, and the person who you want to get it from. You just have to like them and trust them. Just because someone’s going to follow me, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to follow you, and vice versa. It has nothing to do with our information, because we teach a lot of the same things.

Nicole:  It’s a completely different vibe. [laughs]

Gary:  It is. It’s just two different things of what you like, as a personality, for someone teaching you. If you think I’m a real jerk, then just go to Nicole, and hang out with her. If you don’t like her, you come over my way, or you go somewhere else. That’s the thing. There are choices, but that’s where you have to do your research.

Nicole:  That makes it hard, though. Honestly, just to get back to the topic of actually working out, I was in love with my workout when I was in San Francisco. It was called Burn, and it was amazing. We would do pilates, intervals of cardio, and weights. All of it, all at once, 55 minutes, one and done. Best workout I’ve ever had. Best shape I was ever in. Hands down, amazing.

Trying to find that down here in OC is so much harder than you would think. Even though people work out here more, and there are more studios and more variety. Finding that little niche thing that I loved in San Francisco has been nearly impossible here. It’s crazy.

I go to a place now that I do like very much I found, called Body Evolution, here in Laguna Hills. It’s the closest thing I found. We do a high‑intensity circuit, we weight lift, we do body weights, we plank. Then we get on the reformer, and we do our leg work with our pilates, arm work with pilates, and do a lot of the core stuff.

I feel like I’m totally getting the cardio, the heart rate, the point of exhaustion, where I almost want to dry heave. Then the pilates, lengthening and core building. Which for me, that’s my ultimate recipe for fitness. You’ve just got to find your thing, and it can be really, really hard, but once you find it, you’ll want to go all the time. You’re going to be pretty much addicted.

Gary:  I even talk about that in my book, as far as finding a gym, and find the place you want to be. It’s so important for working out. It’s this huge mental aspect of it. I’ve gone to gyms that I absolutely hate. Like you, I went to a new area, I was living in a new place, and I was trying gyms out. You will go less frequently, if you do not like the place you’re going. Period.

If you love going, sometimes people have to pry you out of there before you end up passing out. You’ll work yourself out to death. You’ll go twice a day, three times a day. That’s what you want. You want to go.

Nicole:  You want to want to go. You want to set the habit, after a few weeks of going.

Gary:  Let’s face it. Working out is not pleasure all the time. It just isn’t. You don’t go in there and run around screaming and hollering how happy you are about working out. Some days, you want to get there and get it done. There are other days where you’ve got to force yourself to go. But if you find a really good atmosphere and a place to go, you’re going to go, no matter what. Even on that crappy day, you’re going to go.

That’s the key, as well. That’s what CrossFit offers, in that sense…

Gary:  There we go. It’s still recording. We’re back, for those people who may have missed us right there. The call had dropped out real quick.

I think it’s a good place to wrap up anyway. I think we’ve pounded this topic into the ground well enough that people now know a little bit more about working out. Maybe people are getting started, and some of the pitfalls they’ll run into. If there was one piece of good advice you could give someone starting to work out, what would it be, Nicole?

Nicole:  Know yourself. Know your gym or your method, whatever method you’re going to be. You have to know yourself to know what you’re going to like. Don’t stick with something you don’t like. Find something you do. Trust me, there’s something for everybody. If you have problems, hit us up. Gary’s email…

Gary[email protected] Nicole?

Nicole:  [email protected] We can find you something, I promise. There’s something for everybody.

Gary:  I agree, and I think that’s the best piece of advice I would give to. In a place you don’t like, switch. That’s the thing. If you’re not enjoying yourself, switch it up. Whether it’s the gym, the exercise you’re doing, just change it. Do something else.

Nicole:  The group sharing places, like the Groupon and Living Social, those have a lot of great deals that don’t require a lot of money or commitment. That way, you can try something before you really commit to a membership there, which is awesome.

I also think you had a very valid point. Just start moving more. Stand and sit less. Move more. Just go for a walk every night. If you have to take the dog out for a walk, take the dog out. If it starts out with you just doing push‑ups and sit‑ups in the morning, when you get of bed, with your body weight that’s a great start. Don’t go too hard, too fast.

Gary:  You also brought one last point, and that was there are a lot of cheaper ways to go. Don’t go out and just blow a bunch of money…

Nicole:  Or lock yourself in for a year.

Gary:  …join a gym, lock yourself into something.

Nicole:  Just try something. Give it a chance. Experiment. It’s like dating. [laughs] You’ve got to explore all your options before you commit. You don’t want to spend a ton of money in that process, either, but you’ve got to figure out what’s going to work for you.

Gary:  Yeah, a topic for another time. That’s it. We leave it at anything is just don’t spend a bunch of money in the beginning, until you know you like it. Just keep it cheap, keep it basic. Figure it out, and then you make that next leap.

I appreciate it, Nicole.

Nicole:  As always.

Gary:  We will be talking soon, and have many more topics for you people. Make sure to follow us. The YouTube channel, I always post this on the blog at, but it’s YouTube/primalpowermethod, is where the videos are hosted. Make sure to check us out.

Nicole:  Yes, and any topics, suggestions, or questions you guys have, we love to hear from you in the comments, because we will address them in our next show.

Gary:  Yup, or email us. Either or, we’re around. We answer them. Nicole, have a good one, and I will chat at you later.

Nicole:  Have a great weekend. Bye.

Gary:  Bye.

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