Food, Life, and Work with Randall Cook

Welcome to episode 102 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we discuss our relationships with food, life, and work in the second half of our conversation with Randall Cook.

Original Recording Date: 10-29-2020

Topics – Food, Life, and Work

04:07 – It’s All Part of the Practice

  • Randall is a coach. He does not treat people but rather coaches them (and helps people help themselves).
  • It starts with gaining clarity on what people want out of engaging with Randall.
    • Many want to lose 10 pounds, for example. While this is a goal, it is not the destination. There is usually something behind that people want.
    • Goals should align with your vision for the life you want. Staying focused on a goal can make you obsessed with reaching it to the point where you forget why you are chasing it.
      • John shares a good illustration of the difference between a goal and a metric used to represent a goal. Is your goal just a metric?
    • Randall has some detailed questionnaires which allow for objective assessment of where a person is.
      • As an example, one of the questions is "how often do you buy your food?" Buying less often while good for budgets may not be so good for nutrients.
  • After going through the assessment together with a client, Randall works with the person to determine 1-3 things to change (no more than 3). When trying to make changes to your life and your habits, it can get overwhelming very quickly.
    • Changing too many things at once may cause you to hit a trigger you did not realize existed.
      • 46:20 – Food is a big trigger for people. Also, food can be very emotional.
        • Randall gives the example of a professor who wakes up thinking about making coffee.
        • John shares a story about a specific kind of tea reminding him of his mother.
        • For some people turkey could remind them of fights around the Thanksgiving table, while it may remind others of being at home.
        • Without an acknowledgement of food associations, people cannot successfully change their eating habits.
        • Randall mentions his struggles with soda.

16:46 – Food Choices Aren’t Right or Wrong

  • One of the biggest things for Randall was realizing his food choices are not right or wrong. But, think about whether that choice will help achieve the goal you want.
    • You can get trapped in a cycle of feeling remorse after eating something you feel you shouldn’t and unconsciously seek out ways to make yourself feel bad.
    • Get clear on what you want out of your life, and then understand what the food you eat will do to you.
    • When Randall got sick, there were days where he would sit at work and accomplish nothing because his brain just was not working / he could not think straight.
      • The afternoon slump is real, but with the wrong choice you can push it to all day.
    • Think about what you want from your food. Randall does not believe there are wrong choices.
      • He shares the example of using donuts and coffee to cope with high stress near the end of his time at the architecture firm and paying the price as a result.
      • John mentions using conscious choice rather than operating on autopilot.
      • If you want your food to provide energy or help you perform optimally, you must become aware of what it does to you.
        • Millions of chemical reactions happen inside our bodies at any given second, and the way they affect us is different for everyone.
        • One way to gain insight here is to keep a food journal – what you eat and when you eat it, what you drink and when you drink it, how you feel during the day (i.e. document energy slumps with specific time of day, other side effects like a cough or an itch).
        • When someone starts working with Randall, he asks them to fill out a 10 day diet log, the kind of exercise they did, how they slept, how bowel movements have been, etc.
        • Part of what Randall looks at is the variety of foods. The average person may only eat about 10 different foods on a regular basis.
        • Looking at this data should present a pattern that can be manipulated carefully.
      • 58:53 – Randall had to go to a holistic doctor at one point. This person identified 5 foods causing him problems – egg yolks, beans, casein, gluten, and solanine (compound found in nightshades).
        • It’s really hard to find food without one of these in it. For example, at Chipotle Randall could have lettuce, rice, and the pork.
        • Limiting foods like this is mentally taxing, and Randall needed support from his wife to stay vigilant.
        • To a large degree, Randall still avoids those foods. He shares different ways he has been able to adapt food choices to eat as cleanly as possible.

29:09 – Foods to Avoid, Tactics to Embrace?

  • Milk in the US is pasteurized (all enzymes killed that would help with digestion) and homogenized (put through tiny filter that slices up all fat cells).
  • Organic food is better for many reasons. You are only as healthy as the food you eat, which is only as healthy as the food it eats.
    • Cattle in the US are typically fed very poor diets to fatten.
  • The amount of fat you need in a diet depends on you (genetic heritage, health, digestion).
    • Fat has two purposes – storing energy and isolating toxins the body cannot dispose of
  • Our choices of what to buy at the supermarket can create a gap in dietary needs.
  • 1:07:49 – Things We Can Do and Eat to Sharpen Mental Acuity
  • There is how much food you eat and what you eat. Too much food means the body has to devote more resources toward digestion.
  • You are trying to manage blood sugar level (insulin). When under a lot of stress, the body converts protein into sugars and spikes insulin.
  • Healthy fats are helpful if you are not under stress.
    • Randall shares a hack with coffee and MCT oil which allows the body to help digest the coffee and boost brain function at the same time.
    • John and Randall talk about the idea of Bulletproof Coffee.

36:59 – Taking Control

  • Getting control of your health starts with awareness…awareness of the choices you’re making and the effect they have on your life. Until you have this, you are basically throwing darts at the wall.
  • As you change your diet, eating habits, and sleeping patterns the body will change. And its needs will change.
    • If you’re eating the same way in a few years as you are tomorrow, you probably aren’t helping yourself as much as you might think.
    • Randall mentioned when he saw the holistic doctor he relied on that doctor to "fix it." He was not given the tools to fix it on his own.
    • Randall’s goal as a coach is to give people the tools they need to take control of their lives so they don’t need him any longer.
    • You can do this on your own, but it’s challenging to do without the power of outside eyes.
    • This reminds Nick of the episode on Inner Game of Stress from several weeks ago.

40:51 – Easing Decisions about Food and Closing Thoughts

  • Do your research on restaurants. You cannot wait until you pull up to a drive through to start the research.
    • Most companies have ingredients listed to avoid food allergies which can be found online.
    • Panda Express, for example, has gluten in just about every dish. The teriyaki chicken sauce is made with flour, but you can order it without the sauce. Many people do not want to modify their order.
    • Randall was a picky eater as a kid and did not like to modify his order even then, which still affects him when placing an order today.
    • Put in the work to research restaurants in the area you are likely to visit and what you can eat from them so you don’t have to decide when you drive up / walk in.
  • Optimal grocery shopping would be twice per week for produce. Randall says it’s important to keep grocery shopping a low stress endeavor. If needing to make a second trip in a week would add stress, the return likely is not worth it.
  • When you start getting stressed, you stop digesting food.
    • Don’t watch something stressful before you eat.
    • Don’t watch something too exciting before eating (i.e. something that spikes adrenaline).
  • Digestion starts in the brain with the mental acknowledgement that you are about to take in food.
    • If you are busy watching something, reading something, etc. you may not even taste your food. You may not as a result be producing all the enzymes needed for digestion. The more focused you can be with eating the better.
  • It all starts with becoming aware that there is a problem and then wanting to change it – whether it is career or health.
    • This cannot be forced.
  • Feel free to contact Randall via his Facebook page, on Instagram, or on his website.

Contact us if you need help on the journey.

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