Transcript of Episode 68: Overcoming Orthorexia, with Kevin Rail
With Dr. Daniel Pompa, PSc.D, David Asarnow and special guest Kevin Rail.
David: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to Cellular Healing TV, episode 68. This is David Asarnow, and I am here with Dr. Pompa. Good morning, Dr. Pompa.
Dr. Pompa: Good morning.
David: Can you believe last week we were talking about 67?It’s just so hard to believe we’ve been doing this show for 68 episodes. It’s fantastic, at the same time.
Dr. Pompa: Absolutely. It’s amazing how it’s caught on. This show, we originally just said, “Ah, you know, we want to bring our message out there. It’ll help SEO.” Here we are, that many shows in.
David: It’s interesting. You look at it, we’ve got tens of thousands of podcast followers now, that are listening to what we have every single week.
Dr. Pompa: Hey David, we actually started this. Do you remember where it was, in that hotel? Of course, this was your idea.
David: I remember.
Dr. Pompa: Was that Tampa or Atlanta? Where was that?
David: It was Tampa, where I had a really bad fever.
Dr. Pompa: Yeah, okay. I didn’t know that. I was sitting outside, and we did the show.
David: Oh, wait. That was in Charlotte, the first Hangout that we did.
Dr. Pompa: Oh, okay. Charlotte.
David: Right after one of our Masterminds with a bunch of the doctors in the program, launched that. Here’s the great thing. We get to not only talk about the real truth, the 180° Solution and the things that people need to do, we also get to have special guests on. We get to hear what they went through and what changed their life. People get to hear, “Oh, I can identify with that. I’ve got things like that going on, too.” Why don’t you introduce today’s guest?
Dr. Pompa: Yeah, I almost said Dr. Kevin Rail.
Kevin: I’m okay being called Dr. I’ve got no problem with that.
David: At least on TV.
Dr. Pompa: He is—Kevin, how would you describe yourself? An exercise—
Kevin: I like to use the word tactitioner, to be honest with you.
Dr. Pompa: I love that. Especially, saw what Kevin did. Today, you’re going to hear a little bit about some of the really unique stuff that Kevin takes his people through. My wife is one of his people. I think the thing that I really love about Kevin the most is y’all out there know that I love a good story. I believe that the story, the adversity, I should say, makes the man or the woman. Kevin has an amazing, amazing story. I ask Kevin to share that story with you this morning. Of course, he will share some of his ideas. He’s going to give you some exercise things out there that we’ll talk a little bit about. I don’t know what we could give them today, but maybe you could think of something. Anyways, so hang in there. We’re going to give you some really cool—what you call neuro load. I call it neuromuscular type of exercises, some of which you’ve come up with yourself, Kevin. You’re a pretty amazing innovator. Anyways, with that said, Kevin, welcome, and I want to hear your story. First, I have to ask this question to our audience. How many of you have ever heard of orthorexia? Orthorexia? Probably not that many. David, have heard of it before?
David: No, I didn’t. When I saw that, Kevin, you were going to be a guest on the show today, I googled you and I found your website, and I started reading your story. By the way, the whole story about wanting to be a professional wrestler, I remember when I was a kid, and my dad brought me—jumping on beds, sitting there tackling each other, throwing people, body slamming—I’m reading your story and I’m like, “Hey, I remember that when I was a kid.” Then my son wanted to do that, but that’s a whole other story. I never heard about it until I went to your website and I started reading about it. I think it’s something many people probably experience. One of the things that you wrote about was eating disorders, especially for men, are not reported and misdiagnosed.
Kevin: Oh, yeah.
Dr. Pompa: Kevin, what is orthorexia, but more importantly, tell us your story.
Kevin: Okay. I’ll define orthorexia first, before we get any further. To put it simply, it’s a fixation on righteous eating. That’s the technical, scientific definition of it, if you wanted to summarize it quickly. In the big picture, it’s a flat out eating disorder. There’s no two ways around it. I have this over fixation on food, basically, is what it boils down to. Several years ago, it was July or August, I would say, of 2008. I’m 6’3, first of all. I got down to 145 lbs. I was totally ready to go down to 140 lbs. I just kept challenging myself to see if I could go farther and farther. Basically, what orthorexia is all three of us on this call right now, we’re all healthy leaders. We all live the organic lifestyle, and we’re all into it. We spread the word. We spread the message. We motivate as many people as we can. There comes a time where that road gets a little bit bumpy and the clouds start rolling in and things start getting a little hazy. What happens is you cross this line where you become obsessed. Basically, it’s great to eat healthy and worry about high fructose corn syrup and all those other things and GMOs and the whole nine yards, but you also can flip a switch and go too far, to a point where you become alienated from society, where all you do is think about food and how many calories you’re taking in, how many calories you’re burning every single day. Then you start worrying about, “Oh my gosh, if I go to this party, there might be cupcakes there. There might be alcohol there.” You start talking yourself out of going to public places and going out with friends and going to birthday parties and going to fairs and going to picnics, just because you think you have an opportunity of cheating. You get majorly guilty, and then the next day you get up earlier in the morning than normal, you work out extra, and then you cut your calories down even more. Back in 2008, the summer, I had a perfect game plan set up. I would get up at 20 to 5:00 in the morning; I’d get to the gym at 20 to 5:00 when it opened at 5:00. I had an insider who worked there who let me in early. I would do 90 minutes worth of interval training on a treadmill. I’d get off, take a shower quickly. I’d eat my oatmeal, which I had perfectly portioned out. I knew exactly how many calories was in it. I had one tablespoon of this, one tablespoon of that, a pinch of that, a little squirt of agave syrup on top. 210 calories, I was good to go. I had it memorized. Then I’d go upstairs happy, train three clients, run back home, have another small meal, hop on my bike, go for a two-and-a-half hour bike ride, get to the point where I was about to pass out, stop at a health food store which I really liked. I would get a banana and two of these little sesame treats and a coconut water. Then I’d get another 250 calories or whatever. I was literally on the verge of passing out when I hit that spot. I made sure that I got to that point, while riding in the 95° F heat every single day. Then all of a sudden, I was like Superman. I was like Clark Kent, jumping into a phone booth and getting recharged again. I was like bam. I was like oh, I’ve got all this energy. Then I’d fly home, which was another seven miles, take another shower, and the first thing I would do was I’d go on the computer and I’d open up this caloric expenditure website. I’d punch in all my data, all my information, my height, my weight, everything. Literally, this happened every single day in the summer of 2008, from June until the end of August. I found out that I was burning 1600 calories a day, and I made an effort to only consume 1400 calories a day. It then became my obsession to burn more calories than I was consuming. If a day went by that I was unable to do that, I would just flip out. It was like a roid rage, although I was never on steroids. I don’t buy into that stuff at all. It was very similar to that. My mood swings were up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down. I got to 150 lbs and I’m like, I’m going to 145. It just became my obsession and my goal to keep losing weight and keep getting, as I would say, lean and ripped, lean and ripped, lean and ripped. In reality, I had a massive eating disorder beyond belief, and every one of my friends and colleagues saw it, my clients saw it, everyone in town did, and they tried to allude me to it all the time. I was just like—it’s just like an alcoholic who doesn’t believe they’re an alcoholic. You’re in complete denial. It’s very similar to alcoholism. I was completely out of control. One day, I just got fed up with everyone pointing fingers at me and saying I had a problem and all this stuff. I’m like, “I’m going to show all you people. I’m packing my crap and I’m moving to New York City and I’m going to pitch this show to Spike TV, and I’m going to be internationally known. You’re all going to regret ever saying a word to me.” You start having all these crazy thoughts, too. You’re very unsettled, you’re very disheveled, and you’re all over the place. Basically, your hormones are all over the place too, because your body fat percentage starts getting so low your brain starts getting decomposed for energy. You’re just a huge, hot mess. That’s all there is to it. One minute, you’re really happy. The next minute, you’re really depressed. The next minute, you’re really sad. The next minute, you’re suicidal. I basically flatlined when I was out in Manhattan, because it occurred around September 20th or something like that. Matter of fact, Dan, I just found an old journal I had sitting back in my storage cabinet from 2008. Every day, I’d write a few things in it. I saw this journal entry that said, “145 lbs!!! So excited.” It was September 20th, 2008. “Can’t wait to go for 140.” It was literally September 20th when I completely hit the wall mentally. Yeah, it was pretty rough.
Dr. Pompa: To me, I look at an exercise guide—now you’re filled with muscle and everything. To me, this defies logic of what I would think a guy like you would want. Why would a guy like you want to get skinnier? That means less muscle. Yet, you’re working out. Why was the goal less weight? I know it makes no logical sense, but I have to ask that question anyway.
Kevin: I felt like the only way that I can achieve a lean, muscular, ripped body is by sacrificing weight. That’s really what it boiled down to. Then it just became this goal and obsession to try to lose weight, because it almost became a game to me. I’m like, “I wonder if I can get to 145. Oh, maybe I can get to 140. Wow, I wonder if I can get to 135 even.” I just kept on trying to push myself. I didn’t have anything specifically I was training for. A lot of people are, especially in our town, Dan, they’re enduros, and they do 5Ks all the time, triathlons, all these other things. Always training for something. There was no goal for me. It was just like I want to do it for fun. The fun ended up being, it turned ugly, and I got way out of control. Then I realized, and I started sifting back through my years growing up, and it all started as a child. It just went forward and forward, and it went unrecognizable until literally 2008. That’s finally when I realized what was going on, what was happening. I literally probably had this condition ever since I was five years old.
Dr. Pompa: You know what, Kevin, that’s what I wanted to talk about. I believe there’s a cause for everything. Certain stressors pop into our life, and then we end up with things later in life. Every client that I have, I always go back to when things started. That’s the key. I want you to go back to that time. However, your brother played a big role in waking you up. Tell us about that.
Kevin: Okay, well finally it got to a point—when I was in Manhattan, I went over to a client’s house who lived over by the East River. This was around that time, around September 20th or so. At this point, I was physically, emotionally, and mentally and spiritually bankrupt. I was literally ready to die, and I didn’t care. I remember working out in the mornings. I was living in this really dumpy apartment over in Edgewater, New Jersey. I had to take the bus into Manhattan every day. I was struggling big-time with my finances, with bills. I had a mortgage back in Pennsylvania that a house I rented, and I was way late on that. They were going to, whatever, foreclose on it. I was so done it was unbelievable. I remember exercising in my bedroom in the mornings. Just every time I would do a crunch—I had this medicine ball. I remember, I’d hold it behind my back, and I’d do a pull-up crunch, and I’d sit up. Every time I’d come up, I’d be like, “God, just kill me. God, just kill me.” I just kept asking God to kill me. Literally, that’s how bad I was. It was awful. Then I’d just get up, and I’d send someone an email, right before I’d go over to hit the bus stop, and be like, “Going over to Manhattan today. Hopefully, I’ll get hit by a bus that gets out of control,” or “Hopefully, I’ll get shot by some kind of gang warfare, and you’ll never have to worry about me again,” and all this stuff, “because I know I’m a big burden on you guys.” I would say messages like this to my friends. I was out there. I was gone.
Dr. Pompa: You were reaching out though.
Kevin: Yeah, I was reaching out in a disturbed way, but I was doing it. Then I went over to Manhattan this one day, in the middle of the afternoon, it was right around that time frame, and I was standing on the handrail of the East River. It was cooking. There was a lot of rain before that. It was in December, I think, and it looked like chocolate milk. It was really hard and it was really high, and there was this big concrete drop-off going down to it. I was looking down at that water, and I said to myself, “I wonder if I could survive if I jumped in the water.” It wasn’t like I was suicidal, but I was to a point where I just didn’t care about living anymore. I was in this gray area where everything was flowing, and I just didn’t care. I’m like, “I don’t care if I make it out alive. I want to find out if I can do it, thought. If I can do it, then I can do anything, and I can turn myself around,” and all this stuff. I had weird thoughts like that flowing through my head all day long, right up until the time I went to bed. It was really hard to do. Right at that point when I was about to jump off, my friend Jessica called me from back in Pennsylvania. She was one of the recipients of one of my disturbing emails. She’s like, “What’s wrong with you?” She started nutting up on me, and I was all, “Ahh.” I said, “I don’t really need to be around anymore. You guys would get along without me.” She just started crying and she started screaming, and she’s like, “Think of how your mother would be if you left,” and all this stuff and everything else. She made me feel guilty, and I hate feeling guilty. She talked me off a ledge. I sat down on a chair. I talked to her for a little while, and I was like, “I’m coming back to PA tomorrow. This is enough. I’ve got to get out of New York City, first of all.” When I came back home, my brother had come up from Washington DC. He throws this pack of information in front of me. On top it said, “Orthorexia Nervosa.” He points at it and he goes, “You have that.” My brother and I, we’ve never really saw eye to eye that well. We get along, but he’s always been sarcastic to me, and a bit of a nut breaker, if you will. He was being sarcastic with me. I’m trying to keep it PG here. He throws that paper on the table, he’s like, “You have that.” I’m like, “What are you talking about?” I got in this little argument with him, and I looked at him. Although he was being sarcastic, he was 100% on the money. I looked at this paper, and it said, “Orthorexia Nervosa.” I read all the way through it, and then I started writing this article on eating disorders when I was working for this one company. I had to do research on it. Combined with what it said on that paper, and all the research I had done from CDC and all the other websites out there on eating disorders, I wrote this article, I put it out there, it got accepted, and then it got put out into cyberspace. I realized I had 90% of the symptoms of eating disorders, plus one, probably. Finally, it struck me. I was like, “Oh my gosh.” The big aha moment finally hit me. I realized, I was completely, 100% eating disordered and I needed to turn things around, or I was going to just pass out and die. One of the symptoms when you have an eating disorder is your body fat gets so low that your organs just start shutting down randomly, with no rhyme or reason, no questions, nothing. You’ll be sitting there talking and I’ll be talking to you, and then all of a sudden, my liver stops like that and I’m gone. That’s what happens. That woke me up, finally. That’s when I started making my transition, right there.
Dr. Pompa: Okay, we’ll talk about your transition. Let’s go back to age five. What were the stressors that caused it?
Kevin: My father was old school and he was old fashioned, big time. He grew up on a farm, and he was all about, not exercising per se, but staying healthy and staying fit and always doing chores around the farm and stuff like that. He tried to make me and my brother do that as we grew up. Of course, we’re kids, and we’re resistant, and we want to play Atari. We didn’t want to go out and pick rocks out of the garden. That’s a bunch of crap. We were at odds with our parents growing up. One thing that stuck in my head is he was always—he would joke with us sometimes, and he’d say, “Oh, you guys have potbellies. You’ve got to get rid of that pot belly.” Jokingly. I took that to heart. You’re five years old. How impressionable is a five year old? It’s like a puppy. If you kick a puppy, a puppy’s going to think you’re an idiot its whole life when it grows up. It’s not that my father was an idiot, but he was just trying to instill good habits in us. As a child, that’s not how you think. I’m a very emotional person, and I attach to things more than the average person does. At five years old, I’m thinking, “Oh, I can’ have a pot belly. I don’t want to disgrace my father. I don’t want to let him down.” It was always like—I made sure I exercised all the time and I worked extra hard with every single thing I did. Sometimes, I’d sit at the table at school, when I was eating lunch, and I would suck my stomach in the whole time I sat there. I was afraid kids were going to look at me and point at me and laugh and say I had a pot belly. I’m serious, that went on for years. Sixth grade, seventh grade, eighth grade. I would literally sit upright and I would suck my stomach in and I would eat really slow and really weird. No one ever really noticed it or said anything to me about it, but it happened, and it was going on. It all started when I was five. Those habits just kept on accumulating as I got older and older until finally, 2008, they all culminated. That’s how it all kicked off.
Dr. Pompa: Wow, that’s amazing. Just thinking of that, it just shows you how, as humans, how frail, sometimes, we really are. We look back at our childhood, and it’s amazing what comes out of it. That was a stressor. That was something that set up a mindset that now has affected you years later. Anyways, okay, so how did you transition out, man? There’s people watching this, I promise you, that they’re going through this. Somehow, some way, they’re relating to this conversation going, “Oh crap, maybe this is me.” A lot of the clients that I see, Kevin, they get there for other reasons, too. They get there because they were so sick. Then they start getting fearful about certain things, and it sets up these patterns. I’ve seen this so many times, different ways. How did you get out?
Kevin: For me, it was a long process. First of all, I want to say this to all the people out there. The male population is very underserved when it comes to eating disorders. It’s shocking to know that there’s as many people out there, as many men out there, in my opinion, that have eating disorders as women. They just don’t know it or they don’t realize it. It’s a macho thing. I denied it for years. I’m like, “Oh, men don’t have eating disorders. That’s a bunch of crap. I don’t believe it.” In reality, once I put all the pieces together and thought back in hindsight, it was absolutely true. Men have it just as much as women. It’s just that we don’t come forth and say it, because we’re afraid we’re going to be judged or looked at weird or people are going to say things to us, like, “Oh, you have an eating disorder,” and laugh at us or something like that, but it’s not the case at all. It’s just like people who are afraid to go to a gym because they think everyone’s going to stare at them and look at them. That’s not the case at all. If you feel you have an eating disorder of any kind, you need to just come right out and say it and come clean with it, and you’ve got to find a circle of people that you know and trust to talk to about it. I’ve spoken to you about this before, and that’s usually the question that I get from students and everything. “How did you recognize it, and what did you do about it, because I might know someone who does.” It’s always the “might know someone who does” is actually them, I can tell by their eyes, but you know how it works. What I did is exactly that. I have a very good network of close friends back in northeast Pennsylvania that always have supported me and have helped me. They’re big into organic food and eating and spirituality and the whole nine yards, but they know how to do it right. They all basically cornered me. Basically, I guess it was an intervention, if you will. They said, “You look absolutely sick.” They said, “You look like you have rickets.” My eyebrow went in the air, and I went, “Rickets?” I’m like, “Last time I heard the word rickets was on an episode of Little House on the Prairie, I think, years ago. I’m like, “Does that even exist anymore?” My friend’s like, “Yeah, you look like you have rickets. Your cheeks are all sunken in. Your eyes are black and blue. It looks like you got beat up. It looks like you haven’t slept in weeks.” They basically came out and told me, “It’s your eating habits. You’re got to change it, or you’re going to die.” Basically, all that happened at the exact same time. My brother handed me that paper, and I was writing articles and doing the research, and it all happened exactly at the same time.
Dr. Pompa: God was looking -inaudible-.
Kevin: Exactly. God just dropped all this stuff right in my lap at the exact same moment. I was like, “Oh my gosh.” Then I started thinking about hypocrisy. Dan, you can probably easily attest to this, how many hypocrites and charlatans there are in our industry, fitness and wellness. One thing I pride myself in is being a straight-up gunslinger. I practice what I preach every single day of the week. I walk the walk and I talk the talk. If I’m sitting here with a massive eating disorder and I’m writing articles on eating disorders and telling people how to get help and how to get changed and fixed and all these other things and I’m not doing it myself, then I’m a hypocrite. It was partially that that really propelled me forward. Then I started worrying about my mom and everything, because my father passed away when I was 19, from cancer, which was also a big motivator for me to start my whole, super-healthy trend. I just took it one day at a time, and I realized, I’m going to disappoint a lot more people if I die or kill myself than if I stick around. I just decided, I’ve got to make this happen. I’ve got to change. One day at a time is all it took. Literally, I just got up in the morning, and I’m like, “I have to accept the fact that I’m going to gain some weight.” The hardest part is, a lot of it is an image disorder. It’s dysmorphia. You look in the mirror and you say to yourself, “Oh my god, I need to get rid of this fat on my side,” but you’re just pinching skin. You have to basically accept yourself for who you are and what you are and what you will become. That’s usually the hardest thing that anyone in the whole world has with anything at all. I just took it one day at a time, and I was like, “I need to start increasing my calories.” I had a support system of five to ten people deep that I could text or call or just knock on the door, any hour of any day. If I didn’t have that support system, I wouldn’t have been able to do it alone. I would’ve had to absolutely get into a clinic. I’ve spoken to people at some of my talks before about eating disorders, and they came afterward and told me, “You’re so motivating,” and stuff. “I had an eating disorder myself, and I had to go to a clinic and everything. Did you go to a clinic?” I was like, no. They gave me a little back story of their situation. I’ve spoken to people whose situations were one tenth as bad as mine who had to go to clinics for six months, eight months, ten months. Most people are pretty shocked that I didn’t go myself. Now that I look back at it, I’m pretty shocked as well. It was a daily grind to get back into the swing. It took me probably a good year and a half before I got to what I would consider a more normal weight. I went from 145 to 195 or something like that. Right now, I’m about 190 I’m hovering around.
David: That’s amazing.
Dr. Pompa: Yeah, Kevin, I have to ask this question, because you’re in the industry too and you know a lot about this, because you experienced it. Do you see the opposite happen, where you see a kid who is ultra skinny, and then all they want to do is put muscle on? It becomes this obsession. Obviously, that can lead to even steroids, but let’s say it doesn’t. It just can become this obsession. Honestly, it’s like when I was a kid, I never wanted to be that skinny kid. That interested me in exercise. Fortunately, it didn’t get to be the obsessive thing, but I have my one son, he just doesn’t want to be looked at as the skinny kid. He’s got my genetics. He just wants to put on muscle. I worry about that. I worry about him. Do you see that as a problem? Do you see it the other way, meaning that lose weight, do people go obsessive gaining weight?
Kevin: I think people go both directions. I think obsession is a big thing when it comes to body image and aestheticness and all those other things. High school kids, I remember several years back, when—what was that supplement called? Everybody was doing it MuscleTech was the big thing. You’d go to gyms, you’d see kids, 15, 16, 17 years old, just shaking these shakers up and slamming these MuscleTech stuff left and right, every time you’d turn around. All they’d think about was getting bigger, getting bigger. It was all they could think about. That is actually called bigorexia, so there is a name for that, too.
Dr. Pompa: I’ve seen that. I’ve seen this habit. Steroids, all the way to where it literally dominates their life to where they are this odd person—like, who are you, and what have you become?
Kevin: Yeah. Interestingly, most of the time in that age group, it is about looking good and impressing chicks. 15, 18 years old, guys are out to impress chicks. Let’s be honest here. They want the fancy car. They want the nice hat on backwards and sideways, grill in their mouth, and the whole nine yards. They want the big muscles to match. It can become an obsession, all the way up to steroids. That could be a huge problem. It’s definitely there. Usually, on the eating disorder side of the story, where deprivation is the case, it has nothing to do with food at all. Zero. It has everything to do with inside issues, like feelings of inadequacy. It’s being bullied, being overlooked or looked down upon. I had all those emotions growing up. When I look back on it, that’s exactly what I did. I channeled my aggression of anger or disgust or hatred or whatever into exercise and into fitness and into eating and so on so forth, and cutting my calories. It was always like, “I’ll show them. I’ll do extra reps. I’ll show them. I’ll get ripped. I’ll show them. I’ll become a fitness model. I’ll show them. I’ll have my own TV show.” It just went on and on and on. The list just keeps going. That all started occurring to me as I started eating more food and getting my brain level back to where it should be. Literally within after about a week or so of increasing my calorie intake, my brain function started to come back and get better again. I guess when you start feeding the brain, it works wonders, huh?
Dr. Pompa: The brain needs fat, man. You bought into something that we don’t buy into. I know you don’t do it now, but you bought into caloric restriction. I hate that word. Low fat. I hate that word, too. The brain needs fat, man. You were literally starving your brain. It really is remarkable when you hear the extremes. A lot of it I’ve read, I’ve heard, it is about control. You find this one area. You said, “I wanted to just do this,” that you can control this area. How much do you think it is just simply about this one area of your life that you’re able to control, because other areas, you aren’t able to control? Is it just about these wounds that we get as a child?
Kevin: I’d say it’s 99% about control. That’s a good point you brought up, because it always boils down to that in the end. I don’t have any control of what’s going to happen at work today. I don’t have any control of what’s going to happen when I get my car. I’m not going to have any control of what happens when I walk into the bookstore to buy a book. However, I can control every single morsel of food that goes in my mouth and every single drop of liquid calories I consume. I can eat lavishly. I can eat hungrily. I can eat like a prince or a pauper or a queen or a champ, or I can cut my calories any which way I see fit. One thing I don’t have control over is if someone’s going to laugh at me or say I have big ears or call me a name or something today. However, I do have control of what I’m going to eat the rest of the day. If someone makes fun of me and calls me a name, I can restrict my calories and I can get on my bike and I can do 50 miles today and feel good about it. It’s almost like self-medication. That’s how I looked at it.
Dr. Pompa: That’s where the I’ll-show-them thing comes from, right?
Kevin: Exactly, yes.
Dr. Pompa: I’ll show them. David, you probably have some questions. I’ve been so intrigued I’ve been dominating the questions.
David: A few. Here’s the thing, and I think you’ve said it multiple times. Our love of our self, whether or not someone’s going to say something, call us a name or say that we’ve got a funky-looking shirt on or whatever, it doesn’t really matter. It’s how we react to it. Here’s a question that was going through my mind while you’re telling your story. Okay, you’ve got this group of five people around you. You realize that there’s a challenge. It’s interesting, part of your control is being able to turn it off as well, and make it, “Okay, now I’m going in this direction, and I’m going to get my life back and I’m going to change.” How did you change your exercise pattern when you started eating more? Did you continue exercising like you were before?
Kevin: That’s interesting. I have not missed a day of exercise since September 30 of 2007. I found out Jack LaLanne exercised 57 years straight, 2 1/2 hours a day. I said to myself, “Wow, that’s impressive.” One day I decided, “I’m going to exercise every single day the rest of my life for a minimum of 30 minutes.” It could be as light as walking. It could be stretching. It could be yoga, but it has to be something. That’s just going to create a brainwave to always stay physically fit. When I made the switch, I basically just did this. I just cut a lot of my cardio out or down significantly. That was the big thing. That was the big calorie burner. It was also a big muscle burner, because I was so low in body fat percentage, I was just eating my muscle mass. I look at old pictures and video footage, and my arm is just a bone with a ball of bicep here, and then striations in my arm. I look like something out of one of those Batman movies or Superman movies, one of the evil people or whatever. I was really, really, muscle, bone, and striations. However, it just didn’t look right. It looked unhealthy. I just turned the switch very slowly, and I turned the volume up slowly, and I started weaning out the mass amounts of exercise. I only worked out maybe an hour, hour and a half a day at first. Then eventually, it just got down to an hour. Then I completely just transitioned over to weights for a while, and did light cardio and stuff like that. As I started gaining weight back, I just started feeling better. My brain was the biggest thing that was bothering me. Like I said, I was on edge all the time. Up and down, up and down. Then once I started including more calories and started allowing more fat in my body—and I know all about fats. I know how beneficial they are and everything, but at that time, I was like, “Fats are the most calorie-dense of the three macronutrients, so I’ve got to keep my fat intake low.” I was like, low fat this and no fat that. I wasn’t buying low fat stuff. I just wasn’t eating food with a lot of fat in it, for example. Yeah, it was just a gradual weaning out of the long high intensity workouts, and I just came back to basics. I started doing more compound exercises and more weight training that’s going to be more conducive to putting on bulk and mass. That’s what I did. I just slowly did it, though. Like I said, it literally took me a year and a half to get comfortable with that?
Dr. Pompa: Yeah, so okay, look. I said at the top of the show that I believe out of every adversity comes somebody’s purpose. Matter of fact, oftentimes the bigger the adversity, the bigger the calling, the bigger the adversity, the better someone actually becomes. It’s been my life, and I see it in your life, Kevin.
Kevin: Thank you.
Dr. Pompa: You’re an amazing trainer. I’ve been in the gym my whole life, so I can see the guys who are really doing some unique work and doing some great work. I saw that about you, so when my wife approached me and said—actually, to be honest with you, I had been encouraging her to get a trainer. She always does the same thing in the gym, and I’m always like, “You’ve got to mix it up!” She was one of those people I said, “You need a trainer. You really do. You need someone to take you to the next level.” “Who should I get?” I said, “That guy right over there.”
Kevin: That tall bald guy over there.
Dr. Pompa: That’s a lot of trainers. We live in Park City, Utah. Kevin had said it somewhere in the show, here, that we probably live in the most fit community in the United States of America. Kevin, would you agree with that?
Kevin: Actually, I believe it’s been documented that Summit County, which we live in, is the fittest county in the United States. I heard that at a talk I went to. I do believe it’s true.
Dr. Pompa: We joke and say, “Is he a one sport a day person, or a three?” They go out, they bike, they run, they hike, or they ski. Literally, three sports a day. The people around here, they can pull it off. Typically, they’re young entrepreneurs, and their lifestyle, somehow. Anyways, there’s a lot of great trainers. I said, “There’s the guy.” I could tell you knew what you were doing. With that said, obviously, it evolved into some amazing stuff. You take that intensity and you put it into something good now. Obviously, you’re over that. Maybe you never get over it. Maybe it’s like alcoholism. Could you fall back in it? Let me start with that question. That’s a really good question. I said you’re over it because I’m looking at you.
David: It’s something you have to fight every day.
Dr. Pompa: Do you still struggle with some of these thoughts, man? Does this come back into your head?
Kevin: It’s a daily struggle. I definitely wanted to touch on that point before we close down on orthorexia. Once you have it, it’s like celiac disease or it’s like alcoholism. It’s with you 24 hours a day, and it’s always in the back of your head, chirping at you. You get a bad day or something bad happens, and you immediately start gritting your teeth and you start clenching your fists, and you want to do this long workout, and you want to jump on the bike, and you want to go for miles, Then it’s almost like your head starts going back in that direction of, “Oh, I’ll show them. I’ll do this, or I’ll do that, and I’ll get extra ripped or extra lean.” Then the difference is, I now have it in more control, where I can stop myself and say, “Wait, stop.” Then I think back of what happened and where I came from and who I would be disappointing if I went back to 145 lbs again, and I don’t know if I’d make it out this time if I went back down there. I think of the long-term ramifications, and I’m able to stop. I’m basically able to control it now. Is it gone? No. It’s never going to be gone, ever. I go to a party and I see cake and I see all these things, and one of the telltale signs of orthorexia is you start sorting things out as soon as you get to a party or if you’re invited to someone’s house for dinner. You start making alterations to your meal. If someone says, “Oh, I’m going to have pork loin for dinner,” your brain starts thinking, “I wonder how it’s prepared. I wonder if it’s in butter, if it’s coconut oil, if it’s got grease, if it’s got sauce, if it’s got marinade, if it has gluten, if it has high fructose corn syrup, if they have organic, if it’s not organic, is it hormone free? All these thoughts just swirl. It’s always there. It never leaves. However, I’m more accepting now of when people cook me a meal, I’m not going to pick it apart like I used to. I’m going to be very accepting of it, and I’m very flattered that someone would go out of their way to prepare a meal for me. It’s more important to have food on the table and survive than it is to have nothing. There’s so many people who do have nothing or even more than me. I feel selfish at times to even think about my little situation of, “Oh, does that have high fructose corn syrup or GMOs in it?” It’s always there. It’s a daily battle, but I have it in control now. I just had my oatmeal this morning, but I have a system set in place. I get out a certain amount of this and a certain amount of that and I make it and whatever. That’s the end of the story. My eating habits, they’re still pretty rigid, but I eat more calories, obviously, now, or I wouldn’t be able to gain as much weight as I have. I have it dialed in a lot better now, and I’m in more control. You never heal.
David: Let me ask you a question. Because of this, could you train for a triathlon or an iron man, or would that set you off on a pattern?
Kevin: I probably wouldn’t do it, just because I can’t stand the idea of swimming that far an long. I can swim one lap in a pool really gracefully, and then halfway through the second one, I’ll just die. I’ll be like, “Oh my god, get me out of this pool.” I probably could do it, but I would approach with caution. I don’t know, David. That’s a good question. I never really did think about that.
Dr. Pompa: My feeling is don’t do it. When David asked the question, I thought to myself, “I think that’s a bad idea for you.”
Kevin: It might be. It might just be a bad idea. I don’t know.
David: I asked the question because there’s people who are listening that may be going through the same thing. They, all of a sudden, someone challenges them to do an iron man. What does that mean? Does it set them back off? Who knows?
Dr. Pompa: I think it’s a great question, but I think it’s like an alcoholic to the bar. I don’t know if that’s good. That’s an odd thing.
Kevin: I think that’d be case-dependent, to be honest with you.
Dr. Pompa: Yeah, you’re probably right. Anyways, so here’s the thing. I know you struggle with it every day, but intellectually, you go, “Okay, 195 lbs at 6’3, 6’4, I look better. Why the heck would I want to go back down to 145? Doesn’t your brain just sort it out that way? It’s like, “My gosh, I look so much better. Of course I’m going to stay with this. I would never do that.”
Kevin: Honestly, I think the weight is an afterthought, until you start losing the weight. At first, it wasn’t about the weight. It was about lean and ripped. For me, it was like, I want to get lean and ripped like Bruce Li. Bruce Li’s one of my all time favorite people in the world. I’m like, “Oh, he was three and a half percent body fat. I can get to three and a half percent body fat, no problem.” You know what? If you went back in 1968 or 1970, before he died, and analyzed Bruce Li’s lifestyle, you’d probably find out he had a massive eating disorder as well.
Dr. Pompa: I was thinking that.
Kevin: Yeah, so great guy. Love him to death. However, it became my fixation in life. As David was saying before, when I was growing up, I was like, “I want to be a professional wrestler. I’ve got to gain weight, gain weight.” It was all about gaining weight back in the day, when I was in high school and stuff. Then early college years, early 20s and stuff like that. I found out that I’m not designed to gain mass amounts of weight. I’m not going to do steroids, because that’s ridiculous. I’m like, “What other options do I have?” Then I realized, you know what? I’ve got broad shoulders. I’m tall, lean. I’ve got more of a fitness model type body. Let me just exploit that. Then I did it one summer, and I’m like, “Oh, I really like this lean, cut type physique that I’m building here, and I’m just going to stick with that from now on out.” Basically, it just started like that. I just exploited my strengths. I always tell people, “Try to work on your strengths,” and that’s what I did. I just took it too far. Then, all the old things started rolling in from when I was five on the way up. Being emotional that I am, and being attached to certain things. It all just culminated and added all together, and that’s what it became.
Dr. Pompa: We really appreciate you sharing that story. We have so many healthy people that follow us. Maybe they should reach out to you. I don’t know how they could reach out to you, but offer your website, whatever you feel comfortable offering, that someone who’s watching this that’s going, “Oh my god, that’s me—” how do we reach out to you, Kevin?
Kevin: You can find me on Facebook, first of all. Just Kevin Rail. That’s R-A-I-L. Secondly, you can look up my website at ActofNutrition.com. That’s Act of, not Active, Nutrition dot com. You can also shoot me an email at [email protected] That’s [email protected]
Dr. Pompa: Write that email down and hold it up. People get all—you give them too many things, and—really, if someone’s out there struggling with this, I really want them to reach out to you, man. Not that you’re the end all solution for that—
David: I got his website here. ActofNutrition.com. Is that correct?
Kevin: That is. My contact info’s on there as well.
David: Okay. ActofNutrition.com, if anyone can read my handwriting.
Dr. Pompa: Again, not that you’re their end all answer, but I think reaching out to someone that’s experienced it is the first stop. That could be the first step, and then go from there. Thank you so much for sharing that. I promised this at the top of the show, that out of that comes great things. That was my point earlier. You’re an amazing trainer. You do stuff that I believe is so important, as far as exercise goes. Number one, I talk about diet variation on the show and how important that is and how that works with our adaptation. Exercise variation. Every time I see you with someone, you’re doing different things. Nobody varies exercise like you. I’m also understanding of how the nerve system works with exercise. Neuromuscular load, neuromuscular reeducation, is something that I used to fix spines in my early days as a structural correction specialist, right? I completely knew. You put a lot of these things together. Just give them a quick thing of what you do and why it’s so different than the average workout program.
Kevin: The way I see exercise, it shouldn’t be about how much you can bench press and how much you can squat and how much you can dead lift and how much weight you can lift to impress your friends. All those movements are fine and dandy, but they’re very linear. They’re like one motion. Biceps curl, for example. All you’re doing is flexing your arms. It’s like drinking a beer. It’s boring, first of all. Yeah, it’s going to build your bicep, but so what, it’s a muscle. Look at those guns through the shirt. Awesome. In life, you’re going to be doing flexion all day long with bottles and stuff like that. Big deal. Big whoop. That’s no big deal. Anybody can do it. In reality, your body is more like a glob moving around the earth, because you’re always moving in circular patters and three-dimensional movement patterns, whether you’re biking or running or scaling a hill or rock climbing or getting groceries out of a car or putting a toddler in a crib or situating rocks in your garden, you’re always moving around in a three-dimensional type pattern and three-dimensional way. Why wouldn’t you want to improve your fitness ability to improve your abilities with all the stuff of daily living that you’re doing outside the gym? That’s the key thing. What I do is I focus on strengthening the body in a way that’s going to help you with all the activities you do outside the gym, because that’s where your love and passion is anyway. When I start training someone for the first time, I don’t just say, “Oh, meet me at the gym at whatever,” I say, “Why don’t you meet me at the gym lobby first,” and I have a consultation, which I like to call an interview. I literally interview people before I train them. If I don’t feel there’s chemistry or I don’t feel I’m a good fit for them, I won’t take them on as a client. I want to know what they do outside the gym. I’m like, “What makes you happy? What do you do outside the gym?” “I play tennis and I swim and I do triathlons and all these other things, and I want to make sure that my strength levels are up,” and so on so forth. I’m like, “Good, so you told me you run, you bike, you swim, and you play tennis, all of which are rotational movement pattern motions, for a repetitive amount of time.” What I do is I collect all the data from what they’re looking to do. I calculate what injuries they have and what they can’t do. Then I formulate workouts based on what’s going to improve their capacity with all those things they do outside the gym, whether it’s a rock climber or a rugby player or whatever. Then I build my workouts around that. I think about the movement patterns that they do, and then I think about how I can apply that to exercise movement patterns. Then I either create them on my own or I just put combinations together of different movement patterns and what I like to call three-dimensional movements that have a lot of neurological load, as you call it, neuroscience something that you referenced to before. Something that has a lot of neurological load means that you have to think a lot when you’re doing what you’re doing. A lot of things I do involved cross-body motions of the arms and legs. For example, a log roll with a push-up is something you do in a plank position on the ground. You lift your one arm in the air, so your body forms like a T. Then you do a complete reverse plank, you put your hand on the ground, and then you roll all the way back around to the other side and you go right into a push-up. Then you pop back up and you roll the other direction. You’re just on a three-dimensional movement pattern where you go complete log roll plus a push-up, so you’re working pretty much your entire core, your chest, your arms, your legs, all rolled into one movement pattern. That’s just one little small piece. Then sometimes, I’ll add a walk-down, where you start from a standing position. Then you do a squat. Then you put your hands on the ground, walk out, do a push-up, then do a log roll, do another push-up, walk back up, walk back down. That’s, I call it a series, or a journey. You’re doing a whole series of movement patterns like this, back and forth, in a beautiful, graceful, motion. It’s not just all the core muscles are working and the chest and the back and you’re getting all this muscle recruitment, but you’re also getting a high amount of neurological load, because you’ve got to think to yourself, “What am I doing next?” I’ve got to lower myself down, I’ve got to think about the position of my hands and my arms and my legs, put your hands on the ground a certain way, and walk forward with your hands. Then you roll a certain way. You’ve got to keep your hips up. You have to be thinking about it the whole time, as you’re exercising. What that does is it also improves your neurological load as well, meaning it improves your brain function. I like to enrich the function of the brain, as well as the body, when I do exercise, personally, and with people that I train. I want people to be not only physically fit, but I want them to be mentally fit, as they age and as they get older. It doesn’t matter what the age is, if they play a sport, it’s very good to improve your concentration and your mental ability. That’s where I come in with the whole exercise thing. That’s my take on it. That’s going to improve every aspect. Another thing that’s really good about that is kids that are in middle school through high school, we’ve lost touch with PE, as you are well aware. The biggest aspect that’s missing is there’s no PE class. If it is, it’s pretty lame. If they learn these movement patterns where they have to think about the position of their hands and their feet and they’re crossing the midline of their body, the left hemisphere and right hemisphere of the brain are constantly working. It actually improves test scores and it improves brain function. I try to bring all of this together. I have clients of all ages, and I make sure that my high school aged clients do a lot of this three-dimensional type movement patterns that has a lot of neurological load.
Dr. Pompa: Yeah, sorry, something kicked on here behind me. I’m sorry. I had a question. One thing is, is people—you went through this movements on your website. Do you have video of that? Do you have some videos that people can watch? Hearing you do it, they’re like okay—can they go to your website?
Kevin: I’m about to start building the video library. As we speak, I’m doing some test runs right now. I’m going to be adding them all onto YouTube and stuff, and they’re going to be available through either YouTube or Vimeo, I’m not quite sure yet. I’m going to start adding all that stuff in in the upcoming year, starting this summer.
Dr. Pompa: Yeah, that would be amazing. Look, I can tell you this right now. It had such a transformation effect on my wife. It really did. A lot of her neuromuscular stuff was off. She really never did sports as a kid. You’re right, the linear motions helped her to a point, but really, a lot of your work really has transformed her, even as an athlete. The difference of her on a bike this year versus the year before have been amazing. I actually threw her keys the other day, and was like, wham! She nailed it. I was like, “Okay, that would’ve bounced off your head in the past.” I can just see functionally how much better she is. Of course, her physique has also changed. You do amazing work, Kevin. You really do. Again, it doesn’t surprise me that that type of amazing work came out of your diversity. You have your six things here—we have to wrap the show up, but you have these six things that you talk about, these motions, right? Tell us a little bit about that.
Kevin: The six things?
Dr. Pompa: Yeah, it’s like these six things you gave my wife. She comes home and tells me all of these things. The six ways the body moves, or six movements—
Kevin: Oh yes, yes, yes. Okay, so basically, the body has six postures. That’s what it was. You’ve got vertical, which is standing up. You’ve got horizontal, which is lying on your stomach or back. You’ve got flexion, which is bending forward, which is flexion of the spin. You have extension, which is going the other way. Then you’ve got brachiation, which is hanging from a bar. Then you’ve got inversion, which is hanging upside down from a bar. When I train her—that’s another thing. I try to keep all those postures in mind when I train people. The key thing is, if you can work out, each one of your workouts, you should try to get as many of those postures involved with your workouts as you can. That’s going to create the closest thing to a superhuman as you can find. It’s going to create a nice flexible, supple, strong body with a strong core, and there’s no two ways around it, if you keep those principles in mind. One of the things I love to do is hanging from a bar. The true definition of brachiation is swinging from limb to limb or branch to branch like a monkey. That’s the true definition of brachiation. Just hanging from a bar is counted as brachiation as well. When you hang from a bar, you can reset your shoulders and you can reset your spinal column and stuff. People that sit at a desk all day and have rounded shoulders like this, the best therapy they can do is just grab a bar and hang from it 15 seconds a day, to start out. It’s a simple thing.
Dr. Pompa: I agree. When she came in and told me that, I’m like, “Yeah, that’s all true.” We used to utilize that in spinal correction. It’s a lot of the same principles. Neuromuscular reeducation is the key. You’re reeducating the nerves, the muscles, to really adapt a new position. You’re like this all day, don’t do anything to neuromuscualarly correct—
David: Are you talking about hanging like this or upside down?
Kevin: Brachiation is just hanging from a bar. Inversion would be flipped over upside down hanging from a bar with inversion boots on. Yeah, that’s the difference.
Dr. Pompa: Kevin, man, I hope a lot of people go to your website and just see what you’re up to, because it’s amazing stuff. Obviously, you’re changing lives because your life was changed. We appreciate you sharing your story. It does, it always takes a lot of guts to just talk about what we’ve been through, but I believe it is the adversity that makes the man. It makes you, man. There’s no doubt. You’d never be able to affect the people you affect if you didn’t go through that.
Kevin: I appreciate it. Thanks, Dan.
Dr. Pompa: I learned something in Africa, when I was there. They had a saying. Basically, your authority in life and whatever you’re in, it comes from the victory God gave you in your adversity. It’s not all the study. It’s not all the things that we think it is. It’s the victory God gives us. It is from the adversity that our authority comes from, and you move and walk in that authority, no doubt, Kevin, because of your adversity, so thank you for that.
Kevin: I appreciate it. I would like to say, it’s been a pleasure being on the show today. I really appreciate the opportunity. If any of you out there have any questions at all, if you even think you might have an eating disorder or situation or you know someone who does, just please feel free to reach out to me. If you forgot my contact info, just contact Dan, and he’ll get it to you ASAP.
David: ActofNutrition.com. Thank you, Kevin.
Kevin: Yep, you got it.