Saturday, September 26, 2015

How To Retire at 30

Note: Just discovered this in my archives - it's ~15 years old. I worked on it for a long time, super hard with back n forth edits - I was trying to get it into Men's Fitness where you earn a few grand for a short article, but it never made it in. So it makes the blog instead!

How To Retire At 30
By Brad Kearns

My first real job after college graduation was as a lowly staff auditor for the world’s largest accounting firm. Ten years later, I was retired. Not as a big shot CPA, but as a professional triathlete. What was it like to trade security, salary, and a business suit for a bathing suit? Well, when I went fast, it was great. I got to travel around the world and stay in beautiful resorts for free. There was substantial prize money and notoriety for winning races. Companies actually paid me to use their cool stuff. I could scoff at my miserable peers, slaving away for corporate America, making less money in a month than I made in 1 hour and 50 minutes of doing something I loved while people cheered.

Of course that was when I went fast. Sometimes I went slow. Or got disqualified from a eight hour race (that I won by 15 minutes) for running a stop sign. Or broke a pedal while leading another race. Or got sick, tired, or injured and had to watch someone else win. After nine years of piling up memories like those I realized it was time to hang it up. Of course it wasn’t that easy. I had to have the concept of the “R” word beaten into my head from all sides for me to take notice and do something about it.

Looking back, it's hard to blame myself. Winning is intoxicating; the confidence and sense of well-being I got from reaching the top of my profession clouded my view of reality. But gazing into the mirror and accepting my own athletic mortality was perhaps a more valuable lesson than anything I learned when I was victorious. When I was finally able to embrace the end of my career, I felt as ready for the real world as anyone who had slaved in it for the entire ten years I was avoiding it.

The second level of sell that kept me swimming, pedaling and running for ten years was my brief exposure to the real world after college graduation. Call me strange, but as a kid I dreamt of becoming a professional quarterback, not a Certified Public Accountant. The quarterback dream lasted until I was 12, when I got my first crack at tackle football. My 77-pound frame got crushed repeatedly in practice and rarely saw game time. My NFL dreams were soon replaced by delusions of running in the Olympics.

However deluded, I still hadn’t found anything to replace the power and allure of the career goal I’d had in some form since age seven. I decided to get my CPA, then go to law school, bribing the dream out of my consciousness with big bucks. What was I thinking? By the time I got my college diploma I had no idea. I decided to shun the CPA scene, especially after not impressing the on-campus recruiters enough to get a single job offer. I think it was those darn first impressions. I didn’t see the need to wear the strongly recommended business suit just for an interview; I’ll buy a suit after you hire me buddy!

So I sold frozen yogurt machines. More accurately, I drove for three months in heat, smog and traffic all over the Los Angeles basin trying to sell a frozen soft serve non-dairy dessert called Yodolo and the accompanying machine. Even though this was the ‘80's - the heyday of frozen yogurt - I didn’t sell a single unit. Motivation flagging, my boss set up a meeting with a star associate of his who was averaging 2.3 Yodolo sales a week. After a brilliant and inspiring pep talk, he then explained that his 2.3 sales per week at a thousand bucks a pop were barely enough to live on, due to the high cost of “babes and blow, man; the money’s gone before you know it.”

Soon after the pep talk, I bought a suit, crawled back to the accounting firms with my tail between my legs and secured the auditor position in downtown Los Angeles. I knew I was in trouble on the first day. Orientation was so boring that I could barely keep my eyes open; my fellow recruits were taking copious notes on riveting subjects like the firm’s retirement plan. Retirement plan....No, don’t go gently into that good night! I raged by getting serious with my triathlon training, waking at 5 AM to run before work and then swimming after work. As I pondered my future in gridlock traffic for two hours every day, my fantasy of a professional triathlon career appeared less and less ludicrous.

Intoxicated by 8 AM from freeway carbon monoxide, I spent workdays performing legendary tasks like photo copying for eight straight hours, double-checking a computer printout of bank account balances for 20 hours (somebody’s got to do it, he’s an auditor), and running errands for my superiors. I think the only reason that I had to wear a suit instead of a cap and overalls was that they were billing my time out at $65 per hour.

The last straw came on a Friday evening of Valentines Day. My two female superiors and I were working like crazy to finish a two-week audit job at a bank. My girlfriend arranged for a delivery of balloons to the bank, an event that distressed my bosses on seemingly too many levels. Highly motivated by sympathy, I brought them a small Valentine’s gift after lunch. One of them said, “Thanks, but bear in mind that this will have no affect whatsoever on your P-66 (employee evaluation).” The two Chips-On-Their-Shoulders and I finally finished around 9 PM. Dinner plans with my girlfriend were shot when the Chips ordered me to drop off a dozen file boxes at the firm’s downtown offices. The Chips rushed out and I was left , in the pouring rain, to stuff every inch of my car with these boxes.

The six-mile trip took 45 minutes. Our firm’s temporary parking garage was a quarter-mile away from our new offices. Each trip along the outdoor walkway to the office building left me and the cardboard boxes drenched. On my final trip, the dolly hit a bump and the boxes and contents went flying all over the puddle-filled sidewalk. Cramming everything into what was left of the rain-soaked, tattered boxes, I headed straight for the office of one of the Chips, dumped the soaking boxes and headed back out into the rain.

Monday I called my boss to give him two-weeks notice. He couldn’t schedule me for a week and a half, so when the meeting came I announced: “I’m quitting Friday.” “Friday the uh, fourth of April?” “No, Friday.”

Eight months later, as a struggling, unknown rookie pro, I upset #1-ranked duathlete (Kenny Souza) and #1 ranked triathlete in the world (Scott Molina) in the same race for my first pro victory. That and other highlights surpassed anything I had ever imagined. So did the financial, physical and emotional hardships I endured over the course of my career. Dreams may not always end up as you want them to, but that isn't the point. What’s important is to chase them with all your might.

November 1986 Desert Princess World Championship Duathlon Series race #1: No clothes, no sponsors, no competition on this particular day...

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Runnin' in the 50's at 50!

You may know I turned the big 5-0 back in Feb, so I want to challenge the aging process with some track&field efforts. Placer High School just installed a brand new track, which I broke in today with a 400-meter effort in 59.8 seconds. Not an easy effort to do solo, although my dog Stu was there to trip and faceplant me at the finish line.

This YouTube is from 400m attempt #2, trying to improve my time, but landing at 60.18 instead -ouch!


Back in March, I cleared 5'3" (1.60 meters) in the high jump, qualifying for USA Masters Track&Field All-American standard and (unofficially, not from a meet) matching a tie for 12th on this year's outdoor list. Here is a 5'2" clearance from March on video. Here are the 2015 USA National outdoor rankings for old guys. Next up for me is the World Speedgolf Championships in Chicago, Oct 19-20. I am looking to improve upon my 20th place finish in the pro division last year in Oregon. 

I am inspired by other longtime friends who are still performing magnificent athletic feats. Here some of them (at right in photo) are pictured after an epic pool basketball battle versus three high school varsity superstar athletes (at left in photo) from Northern California. The old guys pictured are also preparing for the annual Extreme Sports Camp, a weekend battle royale in 11 different sports to crown the best jewish or goyim athletes in west Los Angeles over age 40.

Another guy who is defying the laws of aging and gravity in assorted water sports, from competitive curling, to skeleton to wake surfing is Ray "Big George" Sidney, Prime Minister of Lake Tahoe. He makes the very difficult sport of wakesurfing to look easy, even with a dog involved, on this video: Big George Wakesurf's Lake Tahoe

Hopefully those of you in the advancing age groups are starting to think more and more about delaying the aging process and reducing disease risk factors that have become all too common in modern society. Check out this post, Brad's Primal Style Anti-Aging Tips, for an overview of the primal philosophy and a detailed discussion of my diet, exercise and lifestyle routines. 

Diet, Exercise, and Lifestyle Tips For Longevity and Peak Performance

Following are details of my personal diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits, and an overview of the principles of the Primal Blueprint and the evolutionary health movement. In 2008, I started working on The Primal Blueprint book and movement with Mark Sisson. I immediately transitioned away from the Standard American Diet (SAD) high in complex carbs to a Primal eating pattern that is comparatively very low carb and high in healthy fats. Emphasis is on natural, wholesome plant and animal foods that fueled human evolution: meat, fish, fowl, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Concurrently, I ditched my lifelong emphasis on endurance training to pursue more broad and health-promoting fitness activities, featuring more intense, explosive workouts that optimize hormones and delay aging. 

OVERVIEW of primal lifestyle tips (details follow)
  1. Eat Primally: Ditch processed grains and sugars in favor of nutritious primal foods, especially healthy, natural fats.
  2. Go Keto: The ultimate sophistication of low-carb dietary practices is the recently popular ketogenic eating strategy. Great for fat reduction and disease protection. 
  3. Move Frequently: Walk around more (especially taking breaks from prolonged sitting), try a standup desk, and do structured cardio workouts at a very comfortable pace of 180-minus-age in heart beats per minute (e.g. 180-50 year old = 130 maximum heart rate for an aerobic session.)
  4. Go Hard: Include regular brief, high-intensity strength and sprint workouts. Helps preserve muscle mass, optimize hormone function, reduce body fat, and delay aging.
  5. Sleep/Relax: Minimize artificial light and digital stimulation after dark--disrupts healthy hormone function. Prioritize adequate sleep and awaken full of energy. Nap whenever you need to. Discipline yourself to take downtime from constant digital stimulation and hyper-connectivity.
  1. Ditch grains and sugars: Nutrient-deficient that accelerate aging and promote fat storage and disease. Sugar and grains are cultural mainstays but science now validates that this stuff will kill ya. 
  2. Ditch refined vegetable oils and processed boxed/packaged/frozen foods: Pro-inflammatory, causing free radical reactions, accelerated aging, and cancer. Canola oil and other vegetable oils (and processed foods made with them) could be the worst thing you eat!
  3. Emphasize primal foods: Meat, fish, fowl, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts & seeds. Very low carb (no sugars or grains) and high in healthy fats by comparison to Standard American Diet (SAD).
  4. Flexible: When you become good at fat burning instead of dependent upon regular high carb meals as your main source of energy, your meal habits can become more sporadic. Intermittent Fasting optimizes fat metabolism, enhances cellular repair, and delays aging. 

The Primal Blueprint philosophy counters the "diet" concept of prescribed meals, calorie counting, and a regimented schedule. Caloric intake and meal choices can vary wildly each day, and you become expert at burning stored body fat. Meals are predominantly fat and stimulate minimal insulin response, keeping energy, blood sugar, and appetite stable all day, even when meals are skipped/missed.

My eating routine: I either fast until 12 noon or later per ketogenic eating strategy, or prepare a macronutrient-balanced super nutrition green smoothie w/full fat coconut or almond milk, Primal Fuel powder, avocado, assorted pre-frozen greens (spinach, kale, celery, beets, chard), a bit of frozen berries, and assorted supplements for athletic performance and recovery including MCT oil, creatine, L-carnitine, sea salt, and probiotics. Check out my smoothie video and get it going!

Sometimes I'll have a late breakfast of hard-boiled eggs and walnuts and Primal Kitchen mayo or just some 80-90% dark chocolate busted out around midday. Afternoon or evening features large salads with vegetables, meat, nuts and olive or avocado oil dressing, giant stir fry's with assorted organic leafy greens and other vegetables, and the highest quality grassfed meats or wild-caught fish, such as Lone Mountain Wagyu beef. Total elimination of all grains (wheat, rice, pasta, corn, and all derivatives), sugars/sweets and sweetened beverages. Okay, a little leaking here and there with occasional popcorn or corn tortilla fish tacos. If I want extra carbs I make these fabulous sweet potato discs. Beverage of choice is water or homemade kombucha. Snacks of assorted nut butters, and lots of 80-90% dark chocolate. Read about how I choose only the highest quality bean-to-bar dark chocolate.

My estimated macronutrient profile:

~66% fat: Naturally raised meat/fish/fowl/eggs, coconut products, avocados, nuts, seeds and their derivative butters, oils of avocado, olive, and coconut, and high cacao percentage dark chocolate)
~20% protein: 0.7g/lb of lean body mass is the goal. Easily accomplished from eating primal style. 
~14% carb: Under 150 grams/600 calories per day is the critical Primal goal, while under 50 grams per day is the critical keto goal. The 150g standard is easily accomplished when all grains and sugars are eliminated. Keto entails getting your carbs from veggies and putting aside fruit, sweet potatoes, and the like during those focused periods. I estimate my daily carb intake ranges from 20 grams to 150 grams with no specific pattern except for naturally increased carb intake in and around strenuous workouts. 

If you wonder if you are eating too many carbs, chart what you eat on a notepad for a day or two, trying to measure or estimate quantities as best you can, then visit and input your data. It will generate a nice report with macronutrient and caloric breakdowns. 

Re - the Keto Reset: There are outstanding health, disease protection, and fat reduction benefits to be had from becoming highly fat adapted through frequent fasting and adherence to a very low carb intake standard with meals. Personally, I have no desire to adhere to strict keto guidelines every day, but many days I do by default, and believe it's a good practice to complete an occasional focused period of ketogenic eating lasting for six weeks. Mark and I reached New York Times #4 ranked bestseller with our 2017 book, The Keto Reset Diet. We also offer a comprehensive online course to learn how to go keto the right way. 

For the past 10 years, I have modified my fitness regimen away from years of narrow focus on endurance, especially the extremely health-destructive chronic cardio training regimen that I followed as an elite triathlete for 15 years. Today I have a more balanced, far less time consuming regimen featuring comfortable aerobic workouts (i.e., slow jogging in the morning or evening on golf course), regular brief, high intensity strength training sessions at home with bodyweight, heavy weight, or resistance cords, and a high intensity sprint workout once every 7-10 days.

My routine:

  1. Morning Routine in bed every single day: This is the only thing I do every day no matter what. I launch from this baseline and it has really helped with injury prevention at my intense workouts. 
  2. Morning Cold Plunge: Three-minutes at 33F in a chest freezer filled with water. This has recently become a fantastic inclusion of my morning routine! Cold therapy delivers an assortment of hormonal, cognitive, and cardiovascular benefits. It's the best way to start an energizing day. I also plunge for a few minutes right before bed to lower body temp and facilitate a good night's sleep. After the morning session I'll do a set or two of hex-bar deadlifts and maybe some pull-ups to help rewarm. Read about the comprehensive benefits of cold therapy. {Link to MDA "Definitive Guide to Cold Therapy"}. 
  3. Jogging: Either a short morning jog of 20 min or evening golf course jog for Speedgolf practice. The critical component is the heart rate is at or below 130 beats per minute (180-age formula). This means a very slow (over 9 min/mile pace), very comfortable exercise session that doesn't stress me. I can easily run faster with minimal strain, but getting into a pattern of medium-to-difficult paced runs, instead of truly easy runs, can lead to fatigue, burnout and hormonal imbalances. Read how I doubled my testosterone from clinically low (after months of too much running at slightly excessive heart rates), to the 99th percentile for males 50+ and 95th percentile for males in their 20s!
  4. Strength Training: These brief, high intensity sessions last 10-20 minutes and happen 2-3 days/week. In my advanced age, I've drifted away from formal workouts that last too long and making me too tired in the days afterward. Instead, almost every day I do a bit of strength-related efforts, whether its 100 decline Spiderman pushups and a set of deep squats and deadlifts (maybe 10 min total time requirement). A couple days a week I'll do a more ambitious workout such as I do 200 Spidermans along with a few sets of deadlifts, squats, stretch cordz, pullups, or ankle band work. Everything is at home within easy reach so it's no trouble to get a little work in. The longest I'll be in an actual workout mode is only 20 minutes. Go hard and get it done before you overstimulate stress hormones. In contrast, being in the gym doing machine circuits for an hour is too stressful, making you tired and craving sugar in the aftermath.
  5. Sprinting: Sessions ~3x/month, consisting of warmup, 10 minutes quite challenging technique drills that elevate heart rate, and main session of 1 x 400m, 2 x 200m, and 4 x 100 meters at the running track. Sometimes I'll combine (fewer) sprints with high jump practice of 20 x explosive high jumps, or a golf course practice session where I'm running 3 x 500 yard hole all-out while playing (training for Guinness World Record attempt, practice going great right now!), or do my drills and then an all-out one-mile effort instead of the shorter sprints. Some rare sprinting footage.

Sleep and sufficient rest, recovery and downtime from the hectic pace of modern life could be the number one priority for health and longevity. Research shows that if you are sleep deprived it compromises your ability to burn fat, essentially negating your diligent dietary transformation efforts and fitness accomplishments. 

The number-one priority in this area is to avoid excess artificial light and digital stimulation after dark. Get your screen work and entertainment done early in the evening, and reserve the last hours before bed for winding down in a dark, quiet, mellow setting - socialize, take an evening stroll, read a book, take a cold plunge! Download f.lux if you insist on working on computer after dark. Wear yellow lens sunglasses and use orange "bug light" bulbs to minimize indoor light after dark. Minimizing light exposure will trigger Dim Light Melatonin Onset, a genetically programmed response where we become sleepy soon after dark in alignment with our circadian rhythms and prep ourselves for a good night's sleep. 

Introducing excess artificial light and digital stimulation after dark suppresses melatonin, elevates stress hormones, increases sugar cravings, and compromises optimal cycling through all phases of sleep. This in turn compromises immune function (healthy intestinal flora flourishes at night, while you sleep; as does cell repair and recovery from stress of daily life). Lights Out - Sleep, Sugar, and Survival, a fantastic book on the subject, recommends we all sleep 9.5 hours per night in the winter, and can get away with 8 hours per night in the summer. If you like catching up on email or Netflix at night, remind yourself that excess evening light and digital stimulation = stress hormone spike = sugar cravings = fat storage. 

I'll also take an afternoon nap of around 20 minutes any time I feel my energy and cognitive performance flagging. I wake up feeling refreshed and focused for resuming work. I guarantee any heavy hitter out there that my down time is more than made up for with improved productivity for the rest of the work day. 

My goal in sharing this information is to garner awe from my fan base as well as inspire and hopefully assist you with achieving personal health and fitness goals. Please contact me if you have any questions or further interest!