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Podcast Ep. 4: Ancestral Approaches to Family Thriving With Colin Champ, MD

In this episode

Dr. Colin Champ is a physician and researcher who walks the talk. He not only conducts research on diet and exercise, and works with his patients to improve their lifestyle, but he’s also passionate about finding the evidence-based practices that will help him, his wife, and daughter thrive as well.

In addition to his clinical work, Colin has a massively popular and totally free newsletter where he keeps his patients and the general public up to date on the latest health science. On top of all this, he’s also the Chair of The Family Thrive’s Scientific Advisory Board. You’re going to want to tune into this one as Justin connects with Colin (FKA the Caveman Doctor) to discuss fatherhood, medical research, and ancestral approaches to health and wellness.

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About our guest

Colin Champ is a medical researcher and works at Duke University as a practicing Radiation Oncologist and an assistant professor. He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburg, MIT, and Jefferson Medical College. Colin gained popularity as the Caveman Doctor and has since published multiple articles, papers, and books based on his research.

Show notes

  • Audra and Justin founded MaxLove Project is a service organization in an effort to help childhood cancer families improve their children’s quality of life.
  • MaxLove Project works closely with the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC).
  • The Metabolic Health Summit is an international conference that aims to “revolutionize science and medicine by refocusing attention on the importance of nutrition and metabolism in treating disease, extending life, and improving human performance.”
  • Farm to Fork is an annual fundraising event by MaxLove Project to help support childhood cancer families.
  • Colin’s first book, “Misguided Medicine” touches on the skewed juxtaposition of medical progress and ancient wisdom.
  • According to Dr. David Ludwig, “The key to long-term weight loss isn’t counting calories; it’s eating in a way that lowers insulin levels, calms chronic inflammation and, by so doing, readjusts the body weight set-point to a lower level.”
  • This Scientific American article, “It’s Time to End the War on Salt,” discusses multiple findings on why cutting salt may not be as beneficial as we were led to believe.
  • In this Washington Post article, researcher Michael Joyner explains that exercise is not a key factor in weight loss.
  • In an interview with New York Times, Dr. Paul D. Thompson talks about why “endurance exercise reduces the overall risk of heart troubles but can raise the risk in the short term, especially during a race.”
  • Jeff Volek is a dietitian and professor whose work focuses on the benefits of a ketogenic diet.
  • Kevin Kelly is a writer, publisher, photographer, conservationist, and the founding executive editor of Wired Magazine. His essay, “1,000 True Fans,” discusses why quality is more meaningful than quantity when it comes to followership.
  • Virta Health partnered with Veterans Affairs to observe diet’s effect on Type 2 Diabetes. The results of the 90-day study: 98% of VA enrollees saw improved or sub-diabetes HbA1c while eliminating 53% of diabetes prescriptions.
  • There are many ways to try out a low-carb diet. More popular ones include the ketogenic diet, Atkins diet, low-carb Mediterranean diet, and more.
  • The Family Thrive’s Nourish Masterclass discusses lots of options for healthy diets: health isn’t one-size-fits-all!
  • MEK inhibitors “may provide different options for patients seeking treatment for cancer,” especially when combined with other forms of therapy.
  • Check out The Family Thrive’s Embody Masterclass to learn how to get moving as a family!
  • Brad Schoenfeld’s book, “Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy” is a “comprehensive compilation of science-based principles to help professionals develop muscle hypertrophy in athletes and clients.”
  • Beneath a Scarlet Sky” is written by Mark Sullivan and based on a true story.
  • Colin delves into the effects of blue light and melatonin production in this article.
  • Studies suggest that our sleep is greatly affected by moon cycles, regardless of where we are!
  • Interested in remodeling your home with non-toxic materials? Check out these tips.
  • These articles from The Family Thrive and Aeon challenge the societal idea that men shouldn’t cry.
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking” by Susan Cain discusses the value of introverts, silence, and the ability to listen.

Justin: We met Dr. Colin Champ several years back when he was still writing a blog called The Caveman Doctor. I mean, who couldn't love a caveman doctor? Not only was he spreading an encouraging message about getting back to eating, moving, and sleeping the way most humans have for thousands of years, he’s also doing sophisticated science around diet and cancer. Our non-profit, MaxLove Project, eventually brought him out to Children's Hospital of Orange County to give a talk on diet and cancer, and our friendship has grown ever since.

Today, Dr. Champ is an Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology and a practicing Radiation Oncologist at Duke University. He's published over 60 research articles and continues to research the impact of nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle on cancer outcomes and long-term quality of life. And you can also find his work at colinchamp.com, where you can sign up for his weekly newsletter.

I'm super excited to share this episode with you. We get into diet, exercise, and other lifestyle factors for busy families; how Colin balances health, wellness, and the typical work-life stressors; and how Colin, as a physician, thinks about medical care for his own family. Without further ado, here's my Family Thrive conversation with Dr. Colin Champ.

I think we really met when MaxLove Project brought you out from Pittsburgh to Orange County to talk at the Children's Hospital of Orange County about diet and cancer. Do you remember that?

Colin: Oh yeah, I absolutely do. It's crazy because someone who helped organize that, who worked at the hospital, actually, I had treated one of her family members actually, a couple of years. I never mentioned it to you, and she was totally cool with it. I just never thought about it, but... Yeah, and it kind of looped everything. She came to see me and she was like, Oh, I know who you are. You know, my family member. It was pretty crazy.  

Justin: Oh dang! That is so cool. I love those connections. I love those connections. And then, so you came, you gave a great talk, just to give some extra context that I'm sure you won't be surprised at the talk, we would talk with nurses and dietitians and family members who came to the talk for years after, and the talk was referred to as, “Oh, that hot doctor.” That's what the talk became known as.

But it was really cool because it did serve the intended function that MaxLove Project had, which was bringing the conversation around diet into the cancer world. In pediatric cancer, it was just like, eat whatever you want, as much as you want, and really shove it in, 'cause all we care about is calories, and so we... alright here is a physician, an oncologist, and he's coming and he's saying, “Hey, let's start to think about diet in a more sophisticated way than this.”

Colin: Yeah, and it's funny 'cause that was what, 20...

Justin: I think it was 2015.  I think.

Colin: Okay. So that was six years ago, which seems like an eternity ago, but really is not very long ago. And it's funny 'cause I feel like, since then we have really picked up speed on that message for a portion of the medical field, and then for a portion of the medical field, it's really that same talk needs to...

Justin: Just every month or so, just need to have the same talk.

Colin: Yeah. It's interesting, as much as I dislike social media these days, you pin something about diet and cancer and half the people respond, “Yeah, obviously, this is like 10 years old,” and then half the people respond and say, “What are you talking about? That doesn't make any sense.”

Justin: Yeah, it's a bit disheartening, but I can say that at Children's Hospital of Orange County, that talk was part of a kind of an awakening amongst several oncologists there that like, “Hey, we can start to talk about diet in a different way and not just say, ‘eat whatever you want, and just shove as many calories in.’” So it was cool. And up until we left, CHOC was a place that was much more progressive around thinking around food, and I'm just really grateful that you were a part of that.

And so then just to catch us up, so we would see each other at conferences like the Metabolic Health Summit, and then we invited you guys out for our Farm to Fork for MaxLove Project, so we've stayed in touch over the years. And now with The Family Thrive, we're finding ways to loop you in because not only do you have this wealth of knowledge around diet and really... to use that term again, metabolic health, and so it's exercise, it's sleep, and what are these things we can do with our bodies to improve the way they function. So parents need to know all of that stuff, but also you're a dad, and that's kind of a recent thing in your life. So we're gonna get into the dad thing, and so before, before you became a dad though, you were a doctor. So when do you remember that first inkling of like, “Yes, this is what I wanna do, I wanna be a doctor?”

Colin: So yeah, the first inkling of that was, I was working the artificial heart project during the summer in college, 'cause I was in engineering, and it was the University of Pittsburgh. I had recently passed out when I saw blood.

Justin: No way. That's when you're like, “I need more of this. I need this in my life every day.”

Colin: I wanna torture myself because I hate the sight of blood. No, no, and I came to from that, and it was just dealing with... I like the science of it, but the dealing with people part was really, really amazing. So I always loved the science of medicine, and that's why I was in engineering, but then the art of medicine was really just as if not maybe a little more important to me, so that pushed me over to say, “Hey, I can still do, I can still do this technology stuff, but I could also deal a lot more people, so let's instead, become a doctor.”

Justin: And so you didn't just simply become a doctor. I think there are probably a lot of people who might start out in engineering or some science field and say, “Hey, I want to help other people with this,” and so they go and they become physicians. But you became a physician that really pushes against the orthodoxy. So you didn't just sign up and fade into the background, but rather you were really kind of pushing out the edges. So at what point did you have the realization of like, “I'm not gonna be a normal doctor.”

Colin: I would say, so the nutrition, the lack of actual, tangible knowledge in the nutrition world and really the lack of scientific support for the dietary recommendations that we were telling people during my residency, and really how much it conflicted with what I was taught growing up culturally, what really most cultures across the world have been passing along for thousands of years, that was when it really hit a high note for me. But I must say that even going into it, I trained in chemical engineering at MIT, all of our tests were open book, they were open notes, open whatever, all of our engineering tests, that is... And really, they were fostering and promoting and testing your ability to think.

So when I got to med school, I took anatomy first and I took embryology, that was the first course, and the embryology part is just pure rote memorization. I remember going into the first test saying, “They're not gonna ask us any of this stuff, that's ridiculous, like I don't need to know it, what week is this form.” And I went into the first test and failed it, so miserably.

Justin: You’re not supposed to think here Colin, you're just supposed to remember.

Colin: Yeah, I remember calling home and being like, I'm done, this is, I'll take one more test and I’m out of med school. This is ridiculous.

Justin: Oh wow.

Colin: Yeah, I guess that was kind of the first moment and then I kind of forgot about it. Went through med school, then in residency, realizing how bad that the diet and exercise kind of recommendations and science was, and they were regurgitating the same wrong message over and over. And I'm not being overly critical. This happens all the time. Science is that we're aiming towards that right, right answer, we just don't...know it, so most of what we're doing is wrong. It was just so incredibly wrong that I realized that we really needed to just start all over again. And so that motivated me to start questioning things, obviously in the background as a resident and then more in the open now that I’m a somewhat successful researcher.

Justin: Well, really out, out in the open, because your first book was provocatively titled “Misguided Medicine,” and so you just came right out in the open. There's a ton of stuff that we're getting wrong here. Do you wanna talk about how that book kind of formed in your mind?

Colin: Sure, so that was really, when I started my blog, which was Caveman Doctor, which I didn't put my name on it 'cause I was fearful of questioning anything out in the open. And it was in the early stages of blogging and internet, and that was when we didn't have all these plug-ins where they do it for you, that was not very attractive-looking.

Justin: The old school. And The New York Times hadn't got around to outing your name yet, so...

Colin: Yeah, exactly. So, I just was writing articles that were interesting to me. A lot of them cancer-based, most of them dietary-based, especially in the weight loss world, because at that point, really all we had were a bunch of randomized studies showing that low fat, calorie-counting type diets didn't work. And this was shown again and again and again in all these randomized studies, yet on the other hand, I am learning all of these cancer randomized studies with radiation, with chemotherapy, with hormonal therapy as the gold standard of medicine. And so on one hand, I'm taking the results of these to treat patients, how I do the dose of radiation I did, the type of radiation recommended, except with the diet world, we were just ignoring all these randomized studies that were coming out.

Justin: Oh, wow.

Colin: Yeah, so that was really where I started writing about that, and then I realized how much, I realized how much collateral damage there was from that message. And that could be salt, because if you put people on a high-carb diet oftentimes they retain salt because it increases levels of insulin. So then, then they tell people who got a low-salt diet, and then when you start digging and pulling at threads, in that strand of, I don't wanna say lies, but just regurgitated to a degree, nonsense, you realize how bad the salt recommendations are and how they're not supported by the data either. And then you just keep looking, and avoid the sun, don't ever go on the sun or lather on sunscreen.

Justin: Protein will kill your kidneys...

Colin: Yeah, exactly, and stuff that we just always kind of believed, and then there's really no data to support it. And not only is there no data to support it, but there's actually data to say the opposite.

So lack of data to support something is one thing, but when you have contradictory data saying that not only is it, not only should you not do this, it's actually bad to not do it. Then you have to really start to rethink things. And then you even look at the exercise recommendations, that was another one that killed me. It was a go jogging, run for hours and hours, you're gonna burn all these calories and somehow get skinny and then, I know a handful of 50-to-60-year-old, long-time marathon runners, elite runners who are having heart attacks. Friends parents are having heart attacks, and at that point, and maybe it was just coincidental, and my family and friends there was a large number, but it really struck a chord with me that the number of people I knew that were supposedly physically fit, having heart attacks, knees were destroyed. Then you start pulling on that thread and you realize that there's this whole slew of issues that were just perpetuated over the past 30 years or so.

So that is my long-winded way of saying, I started writing each of these down and then exploring them, writing about it on my blog, and basically I came up to the top 10 medical issues and somehow found its way to “Misguided Medicine” was what a group said I should do. I think I had tweeted it or put it on Facebook, I said “Which is better?”

Justin: Yes, you did the market research…nice.

Colin: And I wrote it, it was longer. There's two editions, the first was dryer, the second one's better. And then my friend referred to it as, he liked it because each chapter could be read, each time you sat down to go to the bathroom.

Justin: Nice, I am gonna follow this as a thread through, and then I wanna ask about the writing for you because you write a lot. I'm surprised. I am on your email list and it's like, “Oh my god, he writes,” and you're a really good writer and so, okay, screw it, I'm just gonna go down this path. When did you know that you love to write?

Colin: So great question. So I was always a terrible writer, and when I started writing on the blog, you could see how I never pushed myself in that regard. And so I realized that to convey my message, and I know there's everyone saying you should do video, you should be YouTube, you should do, I just have an issue with all of these things that I see is lacking permanence to a degree. I want a book to hand my daughter and say, “I wrote this 10 years ago. It's still pertinent. Or 20 years ago, I think you should read this.”

So I realized that I thought writing was still very important to me. And then I realized I needed to get better at writing, I needed to convey what I was thinking better, I needed to do it in a creative way, and I needed to take science that was dense and make it translatable for any person to pick up and read. And I realized the only way I was gonna get better at it was, I don't like speaking in front of a lot of people, I don't like a lot of attention. We can talk about that, it's a whole different thing.

But I figured I'm just gonna write and I'm gonna publish it all online. And I'm gonna let people email me and say, “Hey, you said this, or You did this, or this is good, or this is bad,” and a free audience free critique and so that's what I did and I got, I got hate mail, I got... And this is on a lot... All over the map. “I like that you're doing this.” “I don't like that you're doing that.” “Hey, this is great.” “Hey, this isn't…” And it just, it was the best way to polish my writing and it got me to where I am today. Yeah, I'm not saying I'm this great writer, but if you compare what I'm writing now versus then it's like night and day. It was trial by fire.

Justin: Okay, so that's really interesting. There's a part of you that doesn't want attention, that is not comfortable being out in the spotlight, but then there's another part of you that's like, I have something to say and I need to get it out. Do you experience that as a battle or...

Colin: It's tough in academia, so it's very easy to be... Ignore 2020 and 2021. Prior to 2020-2021, it's very easy to be discredited or you question something you're called a quack, or you don't wanna promote yourself, but then you wanna get across an idea in the way that social media, the metrics are set up that if you don't promote yourself, no one sees your idea. So it's certainly, it's a whole conflicting, even if our ideas are novel, we’re promoting a software, promoting something external to us, so it's not us. But it's weird that you see, even in the dietary world, ketogenic or diet, everyone wants to be like “I'm the king of…” I talked about keto—

Jeff Volek was running these studies like 20 years ago when I was like when I was still in high school. We all do interesting things, but odds are, someone has done it first or laid some groundwork. It’s like the intermittent fasting gurus online. So it ends up being them promoting themselves and not actually what they should be promoting is the science or what not. And I get it. It's hard to have one without the other.

So it is a battle, it remains a battle. But really, my strategy has been to push the science, push the studies, the research, etcetera. Add some humor, make it translatable, and I know that doesn't catch everyone, but I'm not out there for self-promotion or to be shirtless on Twitter or video, doing videos of me cooking meals 10 times, it's stuff takes tons of time. I have a family.

Justin: Right, but if we do wanna do a Shirtless Colin Cooking Live Event for The Family Thrive, we're not gonna rule that out, right Colin?

Colin: I’m open to all possibilities.

Justin: Alright, so what I'm hearing is that this may be an internal battle in you, like on the one hand, you're not seeking out fame and the limelight, but, but on the other, you have stuff that you wanna put out there. What is really the decisive factor here is a commitment to science, like you want the science to get out there.

Colin: Yeah, and it's interesting, a good friend and media coach that I've worked with who's just a dynamite person, we kinda had this back and forth battle where she's saying, “You need to do this, you do more promotion, you need…” And she was totally right, to get the message out there. She's like, this message is important, so you need to look past all that stuff. The most important thing is to get it out there.

Well, then you have guys like Kevin Kelly from Wired Magazine, who, he has this thing about a thousand true fans where you just need to be yourself and be real, and... So it's funny you mentioned my newsletter, 'cause that's kind of been my... I have all this different stuff, but that's my just... I sit down and write, it's me in my office by myself or with my wife, with my daughter, and it's just the real stuff, stuff that's bugging me, stuff, that's important, and I really have been focusing on that and the readers of that have been quadrupling every day.

Justin: It's a great newsletter. Yeah, I mean, you have the kind of literary part at the beginning and then at the end, you got these bullet points of the latest science, so you get a little of it all in there.

Colin: Yeah, and so I feel like it's vindication to a degree, 'cause people are... It's funny, my email wasn't forwarding, so actually, for six months, I thought no one was even reading it. And then I realized it was disconnected, and I had like, I forget how many, like 1,200 emails waiting for me, but people like, Yeah, this is really speaking to me. This is great, and I got a couple angry people, especially 'cause as you know, I don't like politics and I’m a bit vocal about just getting politics out of lives and people thought that was the worst thing in the world, but...

Yeah, I really feel like I am speaking to people. It’s slow, this is a marathon, I'm looking to do this the rest of my life, so if I don't become overly popular in the next six months, I don't care, it's taken me 10 years to get where I am now.

Justin: Yeah, yeah, it is a life project.

So this commitment to science... Let's go back real quick to the “Misguided Medicine” book. What has changed for the better since you first wrote that book? Do you see any positive change?

Colin: Yeah, that's great. You brought that up 'cause I don't think the positives of these things are brought up a lot on social media. Yeah, there's been a huge change. So exercise world is flipped upside down. More people are lifting weights. We have a study that's on hold right now because of COVID at Duke. We're taking our women with breast cancer up to age 70 and throwing, heavy for them, weights on them, having them squat, having them do all this stuff, and you never think about.

The salt data, there was just a huge study that came out that's been flipped on its head, but I think a lot of people are questioning the whole sun, with reason, don't go outside and get burned and yada yada yada, but they're realizing, “Oh, actually maybe the sun’s good for you. We should be telling people to get out.” And then obviously the low-fat world is that, that whole thing has been flipped, the ketogenic diets getting tested with cancer, it's getting... Virta Health has started, the VA, but they're putting our veterans on these diets that have been shown to be successful in randomized studies. So I think there's a lot of positive steps forward.

Justin: One of the funny things that just came to mind, how things have changed, I think when I first started to follow you, it was in the Caveman Doctor days, so it might have been 2012 or 2013.

And so thinking about all the way back then to the present day, back then it was low-carb diets could still kill you, keto would kill you, and now it seems like the conventional line is, “Well, keto is not a miracle,” or “Low carb is not a miracle.” So we've gone from, it's gonna kill you to like, Well, okay, it's not a miracle. That's progress where they're saying, “Oh yes, of course it helps, but it's just not a miracle.”

Colin: Yeah, there's the science world and then there's what people are actually doing, and I know these terms are all vague to a degree. I like the low-carb paleo-ish, but then when they were questioning people, “What diets can you actually stay on?” That's one of the most successful diets for people is when they go on this paleo-esque diet, whereas you know the 25% calorie-restricted, low-fat diet, the adherence is terrible.

So say what you want about, what's the best or worst diet, on the same note, a diet that no one can follow, it doesn't matter how great it is, we need to adherence And people are now experimenting on themselves and see what works for them, so I think it's great, it's very positive.

Justin: So there have been these positive changes in medicine, but I imagine there's still a few things that have not budged. So what do you see that just is not making the sort of progress that you wish?

Colin: The... Yeah, so the low-fat, I mean, if you see a dietitian at most medical centers, they're gonna tell you all the stuff that you would have gotten told in 1975. So it's still low fat. It still count calories. I still do all the stuff and everyone knows you can't do... So that's been taking a lot longer to budge, which is unfortunate 'cause there's a lot of awesome dietitians out there, but it makes a lot of physicians—just being very frank here—it makes a lot of physicians scared or very hesitant to send their patients to dieticians. Yeah.

Justin: Oh absolutely. With MaxLove Project, we worked with some amazing registered dietitians, clinical dieticians, but we know that quite frankly, they're kind of rare.

Colin: Yeah, yeah, so most physicians I know will call me up and say, “Where can I send patients? I can't send them to the dietitian.” It’s a shame, So that needs to change.

Justin: Before we move on, I do wanna note that the dietary approach that you mentioned, the paleo-esque low-carb, is exactly what we promote on The Family Thrive, and so when you get on it, you can go to the Nourish Masterclass and it's gonna have all the details about a paleo-esque low carb approach, it's not the extreme keto or these other more therapeutic clinical diets. But it's like an everyday approach. So before we move on, real quick, Colin, what does this sort of eating look like in your own life?

Colin: So basically, it's all food, all real food, we cook everything we eat in the Champ household. Eggs for breakfast with some kind of vegetable, if I do breakfast, coffee with heavy cream.

Justin: Okay, okay, so you don't always do a breakfast?

Colin: No, the weekends, I usually just... I mean, you could say intermittent fast. But I just skip breakfast. And then sometimes during the week, I will skip breakfast as well, if I forgot that I have a patient at 7:30 in the morning on Friday, and I'm sitting there in my bathroom robe at 7:10. So I shoot off to work. But yeah, I try to keep it not-so regimented and kind of all over the place just to keep my body guessing, I guess, and then lunch and dinner are all always just had a ton of vegetables, then some cooked in olive oil or raw or whatever, or cooked in butter. And then some sort of fat and protein, so whether it's anything from shrimp to lamb to steak to salmon and whatever, all over the map. And then the only other things are cheese, I love cheese, as well as my cousin's sopressata, which is Italian. It’s supposed to be terrible for you, but I question that. And then red wine.

Justin: Let's just take a step back here. You are now a dad. Did you always know that you wanted to be a dad? Or was there a moment where you're like, “This is it, this is gonna be awesome?”

Colin: I always did, and the surprise for me is actually how late in life it was. But when I was in my medical training, I basically said, I don't wanna have a kid till this is all done 'cause I would not be able to be giving what I should for this.

Justin: Yeah, so you knew it was just a matter of waiting until the time was right. And so what has surprised you most about fatherhood? So you always knew, but I'm sure there have been some surprises, well.

Colin: Well number one, how much my sleep would be interrupted—still at 15 months, still happening.

Justin: Yeah.

Colin: That was a big surprise. And really, we're at a very young age right now, but I will say, so it's very intense, but it has really made me rethink in a very positive way, kind of where I am, how I view things in life, and really just stopping to put... Making everything so goal-oriented, and everything has to be... And we're told everything has to be instrumental, right. You do this because of this, and it's pretty nice to, you know I'm stressed out about x, y or z, and my daughter's like, thinks playing peak-a-boo is the most amazing thing in the entire world, and I'm just like, “Man, alright, I need to step back and just play a little more…”

Justin: Oh, Colin, I love this word instrumental, it's one of my favorites because you're right, so much in our lives, it's simply instrumental. I'm going to this job to get the money, and I'm doing this, this thing in order to achieve this other thing, and unfortunately, we're taught to treat other people in instrumental ways, you know, I'm interacting with this clerk at the store in order to get stuff. It’s not an intrinsic relationship, and it even... 'cause as I said before, we hopped on this, I've been doing a lot of work around emotions and emotional processing. It's even the case that we fall in love and have the long-term partners for unconscious instrumental reasons. We're often trying to get something that we didn't get in childhood. You know, “Can you love me in the way that I never got?” But when you have a kid, there is something that just busts through all that and it's like this thing, this is the most intrinsic relationship in the world, it's like... I love this simply because it is.

Colin: Yeah, you can have goals set up, it’s Saturday,” I'm gonna do this, this, this,” and then she wakes up and says, “Nope, you’re not doing any of that, we’re just hanging out.”

Justin: Can you just give me some love and attention? And that's it. Then it's all good. My god, yes. Yes, I love that.

So that has been a surprise in fatherhood. Yeah, I wanna reflect on that. I think I might have had an inkling about that when my kids were young, but I didn't wait until my PhD. We scheduled Max, 'cause Audra had to have a C-section, so we scheduled Max to be born the day after my oral defense for my first PhD, and then we scheduled Maesie to be born about a month before I was gonna graduate, and I knew that I would have my dissertation done by then 'cause I had to have it done a month before so my advisors could look at it...

So I scheduled it, but I was just... I look back and so much is a blur, and so I really have an appreciation that you're present enough to really see how important that is. It strikes me that I might have missed out on a lot. But even at this age, Max is, Max just turned 14, Maesie will turn 11 soon. Learning about emotions and emotional health and the emotional connection, like my relationship with both of my kids is more amazing than it's ever been, and so I do have a feeling or a sense that even if you mess up, there's always time for repair, and there's always time for just giving that unvarnished love and attention.

Yeah. Alright, so you're a physician. How do you approach medical care for your wife and your daughter differently? Because you've seen how the sausage is made, and so you know all the stuff going on behind the scenes, somebody like me are just like, “Hey man, like whatever the doctor says, Go for it.” Yeah, so how do you approach this?

Colin: So there's two sides to it. I'd say the one is, it's been a definitely a very anxiety-provoking part of my life now that we're getting older and I have a child. It's easy, if you have a personal medical issue or, like a couple of years ago, my appendix exploded, so I had to get an emergency surgery for that, and you don't think that much of it. But when my wife—and we had a very hectic birth, a couple of trips in and out of the hospital—when it’s her, it kills me. And when my daughter has any issues, it kills me too...

It's very different, it's very hard to... I don't know, I don't know how to... It's like a knife twisting in your stomach. It's tough to deal with. I need to work with that.

Justin: Do you feel... Do you ever feel like “I'm a doctor. Let me take over, like can I just…”

Colin: I’m a Radiation Oncologist!

Justin: Alright, so you’re the other way.

Colin: Maybe that’s it. In medicine I’m helpless for a lot of other things. And my wife had extremely high blood pressure very acutely and had to have an emergency C section, and she had postpartum eclampsia, it was just like I was worthless besides just being worried, worried sick.

Justin: Well, so I'm assuming you experience that in a much more high-stress way, because you know what could happen. For somebody like me, it's like, “Oh, that sounds bad, but I don't really know what's gonna... I don't know all the things that could happen.” And you, you've seen it.

Colin: Yeah and that was enlightening. The other really enlightening thing was, so when your wife gets pregnant and you go to the OB, there's a million different OBs, you go to these groups and you meet all of them because you don't know who's actually gonna deliver. So it's really... Some of you love some of them you don't... So that's a little hairy 'cause you don't know who's gonna be there the day you deliver. The guy that delivered our daughter was amazing. So we got extremely lucky.

But it really ingrained, again, I brought this up before, but the art of medicine versus the science.  We met 12 different people and they all had such very different views on the same thing. So for instance, you know our diets, so I didn't want her to do the glucose tolerance test because we checked it at home, and I said, “If you give her 150 or 250 grams of...her blood glucose is gonna go through the roof, you're gonna tag her, you're gonna say she's done.”

So the one doc fought with us, the one doc was just like, “You guys are difficult, that I know people like you,” and that was very frustrating. Whereas another doc who was great said, “I totally get it, you're checking blood glucose at home, can you just do five days in a row, can you check your blood glucose and then show me those results?” And we did, and they are all perfect. And she said, “We're good now.” And that was amazing. And.... But she also was...lived a very active lifestyle. I think she was like, “Hey, these are fit people.” This is great. Whereas the other doc was like, I’m the doc.

Justin: Checkin’ off the boxes. Yeah, “Can you just let me check off this box, dude?”

Colin: That was very interesting and it just shows you there's... Especially look around all this, there's so much like science talk, and the problem is in medicine, there's so much that goes into how you view the science. So… I’m not saying...

Justin: Interpretation.  

Colin: Yeah, yeah, exactly. We got so many different opinions from people that you have to remember that we're only humans analyzing these results or this data, and depending on your background, how you were raised, your culture, or all these different things, you're gonna view that data very differently. And so you kind of experience that firsthand when you go into see the doctor every couple of weeks and you get a total different response on telling them the exact same thing.

Justin: Oh man. Yes, yes. This all, this all feels so familiar. We're lucky now with Max has been in relatively good health, except his tumor recurred, but we've been on a MEK inhibitor and it's been super just smooth and chill, and so we haven't really had a lot of these experiences lately, but I know that, yeah, we're... It's like this is the third different person that I told this story to, and I'm getting three different reactions here. I can imagine...

So you mentioned that your wife has the same sort of lifestyle approach that you do, and so I imagine your daughter doesn't have a choice, and so she's in this with you guys, so what does that look like? How does your whole... So you've talked about the diet. How do you approach nutrition for your daughter? And then what does exercise and what are some of the other lifestyle things that you do that might be a little weird to other people?

Colin: So with our daughter, she eats everything we eat... So, well, she eats a lot more avocados, 'cause she just loves avocados, and some of the food we give her ends up on the floor. Besides those shortcomings, yeah, we’ve fed her duck, buffalo, calamari... We don't give her any sweets, we ah, she ate a piece of 87% dark chocolate only 'cause she grabbed it out of my wife's hands and just downed it in front of us. So she eats it all and we’re lucky she loves it. I'm hoping that will continue. My wife had pulled pork, my wife made pulled pork last night and she loved it.

She eats spicy food. If we give her fruit, it's usually berries, we'll give her some bananas and things, which I don't eat a lot of bananas, I don't eat a lot of tropical fruits, or we'll throw in some tropical for her, that would maybe be the one difference. And then obviously, we don't give her wine or coffee.

Justin: No wine or coffee yet. Alright, wait until she's at least three or four.

I imagine you don't have to worry about exercise for her because she just moves. I'm sure she's in a perpetual state of motion. What does it look like for you guys though... How do you approach your own physical activity?

Colin: So right before COVID, about two months left to go, so we worked out at Duke, the gym at Duke, the undergrad gym. It was great. I felt like I was 20 years younger, like I was back in college.

Justin: Playin’ hoops with the kids.

Colin: I’m the creepy old guy that’s there. We worked out there, it was actually awesome 'cause Julie was very far along, very obviously pregnant. She stopped squatting and we do heavy compound movements and so she didn't do everything. We were smart about it, but she would go into the gym and be deadlifting with this very obvious baby in her stomach.

Justin: Oh my god.

Colin: It was cool because I noticed some of the older people in the gym, some of the older faculty were looking at her and they would shake their head like, if she's doing this, I should be doing... She has a baby in there...

Justin: Yeah, get to it.

Colin: I remember the one guy that works the gym, super cool guy was... He didn't realize she was pregnant, 'cause we would roll in with coats on or at ever, and then the one day he was like, “You’ve been pregnant all this time?”

It was cool, but we bought a bunch of weights for the home garage knowing that once the baby came, I wasn't going to the gym. She couldn't do a lot of the stuff in the gym, she had a C-section, we didn’t know at the time. So we got a bunch of patted jump blocks, we got trap bar deadlift, we got a bar, we got a bunch of bumper plates, kettlebells, and filled our garage up. We're lucky we did, because then COVID hit.

Justin: Oh man.

Colin: We couldn't even...

Justin: Yeah, there was a shortage of weight lifting equipment, right?

Colin: Yeah, it was nuts 'cause we actually tried to get a little more and there was a huge waitlist. So that was great, and actually, we liked it. I play old-school music in the garage, I blast it. With our daughter, we don't blast it when she's in there, but we would put her in there with us.

She's in her bouncy chair, now she stands at the top of the steps watching me work out. We had this little jail thing we put her in, so she won't fall down the steps. She like, watches and she claps and she jumps up and down. And when I throw the weight, she thinks it's the funniest thing in the world. So she watches everything we do, she eats well, we're giving her her life, life lessons at a very young age, and my wife does all the same stuff.

Justin: So in our Embody Masterclass on The Daily Thrive, we talk about the importance of having your kids watch you work out. So... What do you think about that?

Colin: Yeah, it's 100%. When I think back, I grew up in the ‘80s, so there wasn't—gyms weren't that big back then and exercise was more jogging. But my family was extremely active, and I remember my dad played in all these softball leagues, he would go play basketball, and I just remember thinking he had the largest biceps in the world. And to this day, I still think he had these massive, massive biceps.

Justin: Like Popeye. Or no, Popeye had the forearms, but...

Colin: Yeah, and I remember thinking like, that's just normal. Everyone's that active and everyone works out, and then I remember basketball was big. I played in college, and I thought I was pretty good in high school. My dad would still always crush me, he’d block me out, he was real physical.

Justin: He’s got the old man's strength.

Colin: Exactly, and it really left an impression on me, and my older brother who’s three years older than me, was always in the lifting working out, so he was someone I really watched. He introduced me to... It's funny, I just mentioned to him, there's a good Brad Schoenfeld textbook on hypertrophy that I just read, and I was saying how, “Man, we were really... We knew this stuff decades ago.” And he's like, “Well, yeah, we read the right people,” and he introduced me to the right people, so... Yeah, that wasn't as big of a head start, he’s three years ahead of me, but he's a big reason why I was physically active from a young age, so now we're adding 10 year... A 10-year start on that, so hopefully, I hope it pays dividends.

Justin: Alright, so you guys got to diet, you got the exercise, lockdown, what are some of the other lifestyle things?

Colin: Sleep. I do, I sleep eight hours a night. No matter what. And then in the winter, I actually, I'll do nine hours of sleep. And granted my daughter will certainly wake us, like last night, she woke us up, but I think people underestimate the importance of sleep. I can't work out like I am if I can’t sleep, I can't work as productive as I can if I don't sleep.

Justin: So what are some sleep-related behaviors that you do to make sure that you're gonna be able to sleep as well as you do?

Colin: I don't watch any... I mean, I don't watch much TV anyway, but I don't watch anything at night that's gonna keep me up. The last time I watched anything at night, and it was the Super Bowl, and I could not sleep...

Justin: No way, you were just so pumped up like the old man, Brady.

Colin: I used to, I used to legit not be able to watch Steeler games 'cause if I got ticked off, which I often did, I couldn’t sleep. So I try to read at night, I read a lot of non-fiction, which gets hard at night, 'cause I fall asleep, so I try to find better fiction books, [“Beneath a Scarlet Sky”] I read recently, that's actually non-fiction, but it's a pretty good read.

So I try to read books at night and I try to not... Our lights in our house are all dim, they're all like Edison bulbs, they're not maybe the most energy-efficient, but they're all very dim, and then we have LEDs upstairs that are, they can go any color. So I make them red at night, so there's no blue light, there's nothing...

Justin: So for listeners who don't understand that, so the red light, you mentioned blue light, how does that help you sleep?

Colin: So blue light tells your brain that it's daytime and it cuts off melatonin production, which really makes sense, right when it got dark out for the last bajillion years, it would basically signal to our bodies that night was here, and so your body starts making melatonin and melatonin makes you tired. Only since electricity did we have actual blue lights shining in our faces keeping us up, we had fire and things like that, but again, these aren't blue lights, so devices will basically signal in your brain that you should be alert, you should be awake. So if I use devices, and I've gotten so, so used to it that I have, I have blue light filters on my computer and everything, but if I watch a lot of electronics at night, I just won’t sleep well... Well, anyway..

Justin: Even if it's like a Kindle book or something?

Colin: I don't read, I’m uhh, old school, I need the tangible book in my hands. I don’t know about Kindle though, that's a good question. But movies and videos and things don't often turn out well, yeah, and there's a physiological...

Justin: Did you see the study that came out a month or so ago about the moon cycles and sleep?

Colin: No.

Justin: Alright, so what they found, I will send it to you, I think it was like a nature study, what they found is across cultures, it doesn't matter if they're semi-hunter gatherer out in the Amazon or if they're in Tokyo or whatever, that we humans get less sleep at night when the sun is around its full moon than other times in the month, and it doesn't matter if we're being flooded with city lights or in the jungle, that we have just evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to have this cycle of sleep that we get slightly less sleep when the sun is around its full moon.

Colin: Ah, that’s interesting... Yeah. I’ll have to check it out.

Justin: Alright, so sleep, diet, exercise, anything else? Are those like the big three?

Colin: Those are the big main ones, and then you said about the weird stuff, we're... Our mattress is latex, we don't have like... We try to avoid plastic.

Justin: So kind of a non-toxic approach to how...

Colin: Exactly, everything, like our sheets are like all cotton, we redid this old house in Pittsburgh, we brought a pretty cool 100-year-old house to its glory and we used like, water paint, everything was non-toxic. All the paint, it was like non-VOC. We had a whole list when we put it for sale, like the wiring, the... We avoided caulking and all that, I don't think anyone else cared.

Justin: Like look at this masterpiece we put together. What is Zillow saying? I don't care.

Colin: So we're pretty big about that and then... Yeah, it's just funny 'cause people call this stuff like biohacking and I'm... A lot of things, it's just like... It's actually opposite of that... It's like doing what my 96-year-old grandfather did.

Justin: Right, yeah. One of the simplest ways, when I got into this stuff and I started to follow you and a bunch of other people around 2013-ish. When I eventually... When we started to develop programs for the MaxLove Project and we were thinking, “How can we make this information as easy as possible?” Just saying look at what your great-grandparents did,  look at the whole thing when they went to bed, how they slept, how they move, how they ate and just do that, because that's like hundreds of thousands of years of information there.

Colin: All the stuff that we've had, it's so valuable that we've had thousands of years of trial and error. We can't... We can only do the studies we can do now, but a lot of this stuff has been through literal millions of people, thousands and thousands of years, so there's a lot of answers in that data.

Justin: Okay, my next thing for you to geek out on then with this ancestral approach to health is male tears, male crying. 'Cause I just read this article the other day on the lost art of the manly cry, and it's all because I'm like going way deep into emotions. And apparently, for the vast majority of cultures around the world—for as far back and recorded history as we can go—male crying was something done openly, done for a wide range of things. And it was just a part of life.

And then, according to this article, at the beginning of the Industrial Age, urbanization, as people went from their small little villages into these big cities and we basically live with strangers, and instead of working in the same thing that your father and your grandfather did, you're now going to a factory or the office, that male emotions, or really all emotions, just had to be clamped down because it wasn't good for the factory, it wasn't good for office culture, and then also you're not as free. You don't feel as free to share your emotions when you're living amongst a bunch of strangers, and so I was really… I was thinking like, “Okay, this is, this is the next part of the ancestral health movement is crying.”

Colin: I mean, it's totally reasonable as a man to cry—like I cried when the Steelers lost the Superbowl. When my dog dies, it's gonna be a sad day. No, you bring up a good point. I think... I've been reading a lot on corporate culture, and I think there is this like... I actually was just talking to my buddy about this, there is this like, you can't show any emotion, you can't joke, you can't...you just have to be this amorphous blob of nothing and then you get home and you're like, “Oh my god, I need to…” It's a bizarre... Yeah, it's a bizarre thing to try to block just normal human highs and lows of interactions.

Justin: Yeah, yeah, so... Alright, I am gonna be awaiting a big Colin Champ study on tears in a few years. Alright, so we're coming up against time, so I wanna just really briefly talk about, first of all, has anything had to dramatically change? Any self-care routines dramatically changed since you've become a father, and if so, how have you made it work?

Colin: Yeah, the sleeping has been the big one, and we just really... I make sure I get that sleep, and if she keeps us up for an hour, I'm sleeping in or going to bed earlier the next night, and that's really just been... In the beginning, it was so...she was up so much, it was just killing us, so that's been a huge change, and then the instrumental thing has really just—I'm really trying to not, especially on my... Once the work day is over on the weekend hits... I'm just trying to not have every second of the day accounted for and have it with a goal-oriented activity, which really has defined my last many years of my life.

I think it's gonna be very positive, I just... I don't know, I try to think back on my childhood and the things that made me happiest. The goals are part of it, but that's not all the things I think back on, and I'm 40 now, I'm not gonna look back when I'm 60 be like, “Oh, the best part of being 40 was when I did this at work, or published that review article.”

Justin: Oh my god. Yes. You're speaking poetry to me. Alright, so the final regular question, before we get into the three questions we're asking every podcast guest. First Colin, what is at the edge, what is what is really new and challenging in your own personal growth and development, like what's the thing that you're really trying to work on right now?

Colin: Yeah. I don't wanna keep talking about the same thing too much, but it's really being okay with not having everything measured, or not measuring myself with these outcomes. Just enjoying life and it's everything... And this isn't... My field is by no means special, this is everywhere now. It's pervasive, but for me, it was study get a grade, study get a grade, study get a grade. Okay. College degree. Studying grades. Studying grades, okay. Got my MD then residency. Then it's published papers, how many papers could be published? I’m almost 60 now, so if I keep going, actually can get to 100 and then it just... It never ends, and it's like the treadmill of consumption, but the treadmill of goal... I don't know.

See, so it's easier to do it and be like, “No, this is healthy. This isn't actually pathologic, it's healthy because it's my career.” So it's balancing and... And I work for a nice place, so I've worked for stressful places in the past, so it's not them even, it's not like they're driving me. So it's making my boss happy, obviously taking care of my patients to the fullest, that goes without saying. But taking care of my family to the fullest, and me as well, and that's why I sleep is support at, because I know that if I'm not healthy, my family can't be healthy, my job can't be healthy, so it's just categorizing all those things in my head and figuring out a strategy where I can make everyone happy enough, but still be whole inside.

Justin: Awesome, well, we're excited to follow you on that journey. Alright, so let's get into the last three questions we ask everyone, these are like kind of quick fires, so the first one is, if you could put a big post-it note on every parent's fridge tomorrow morning, what would that post-it note say?

Colin: It’d say fast and slow.

Justin: Fast and Slow. Okay, well, so I'm gonna need a second post to note just to describe what that means just...What does that mean?

Colin: Every day, tt's comprised of fast and slow moments, it's not... If it's all slow, nothing gets done, if it's all fast, you wanna pull your hair out. The day is: get up, relax the cup of coffee, finish your book, hang out with your daughter, get a workout in, boom—fast. Go to work, you grind it out for eight hours, it's just... The day is up and down, and to roll with the punches, and...

Justin: Roll with the punches.

Colin: It may take a while to figure that out, that life and your day is walking intermixed with lots of sprints.

Justin: And make room. Okay, so make room for the fast and the slow. Alright, nice. The last quote that changed the way you think or feel.

Colin: One I heard recently, I heard a Mark Twain one recently, but I can't remember it. I've heard one recently about smart people not necessarily being wise or something like that.

Justin: Ah... Oh, I resonate with that so deeply, spending as much of my life in academia as I have, and this move to The Family Thrive for me, I'm now starting to think of myself as a recovering academic, and so I just look back and so it's like, “Oh my god, I know so many smart people, I've come across so many really smart, smart people... How many of them were wise?” Oh boy, I'll tell you, I definitely could count them on one hand and I wouldn't use up all the fingers. Let's just say that.

Colin: Yeah, and I'm still in academia, and you see it all the time, and it's fine, everyone doesn't have to be, have to be wise, but then maybe we shouldn't only turn to those people to be wise if they're actually not.

Justin: Right, but oh my gosh, I just feel like it would be so much better if academia made more room or had some sort of incentive to be wise... I don't know, there's no incentive I feel.

Colin: The problem is, to piggyback on that, the problem is, there's a book on this and I can't think of the name, but it's like the introvert knew or something like that, but the most, the loudest people generally, they're the ones that climb to the top or they're the ones whose voices are heard at meetings. Whereas like the wise sagey, like dorky, whatever people are sitting in the back of the room brainstorming what the plan should be, and their plan is obviously mastermind, masterful, but then the loud, unwise, whatever.

Justin: And I'm sure they're also saying like, “I am not going to get in the middle of this viper nest here.”

Colin: Yeah, and so-and-so from the university of whatever, who's an academic must be blah, blah is heading this committee. And then oftentimes, you'll see that, like on the news or on... And then you'll see people that work with them being like, “Oh god, this is a disaster.”

Justin: Yeah, yeah, well, but it all goes back to incentives, and so the incentives are publishing and grants and grant money, and so neither of those require wisdom, they require strategic thinking, they require being smart, they require a bunch of things, but none of them really require wisdom. I mean, of course there are why people who do that stuff, it's just not a requirement. And it's not part of the incentives. Yeah. Alright, so the last question we wanna ask all of our guests, because as you know, especially when you have young kids, you can have a rough day and let out a sigh that sounds something like this, “Kids…” And so we all know that it can be stressful and exhausting, but we wanna end by celebrating kids, so Colin, what is your favorite thing about kids?

Colin: They remind you nonstop to keep playing.

Justin: Mmm. Play, yeah.

Colin: Yeah, the longest day, Friday, I was stuck in an hour of traffic, it was like 7 o'clock at night, I got home, and I jumped through the door, my daughter's playing peekaboo. She's in the peekaboo phase. It's just like, alright, I can’t complain.

Justin: Love it. Colin, thank you so much for this interview. I think we got a lot out of it. We definitely wanna have you back.

Colin: I’d love to. Thanks for having me.

Justin: Alright, man, take care.

Colin: Thanks, I appreciate it.

Justin: Hey, you like what you're hearing so far, this podcast is just one of the many ways we're supporting your Family's Thrive journey, head over to thefamilythrive.com and sign up for our email list so you can learn all about The Daily Thrive Community app. we're launching soon.

The Daily Thrive will have everything you need to live your best life as a parent: fresh daily articles from expert researchers, doctors, therapists, and dietitians; live events from cooking classes to emotional health practices; and deep-dive workshops with top experts on the topics that matter for family thriving. Head over to thefamilythrive.com, and if you sign it before we launch, you'll get a free 90-day trial on us.

Podcast Ep. 4: Ancestral Approaches to Family Thriving With Colin Champ, MD

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Podcast Ep. 4: Ancestral Approaches to Family Thriving With Colin Champ, MD

Justin connects with Colin (FKA the Caveman Doctor) to discuss fatherhood, medical research, and ancestral approaches to health and wellness.

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50/50 mixes of powerful veggies and starchy favorites

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In this episode

Dr. Colin Champ is a physician and researcher who walks the talk. He not only conducts research on diet and exercise, and works with his patients to improve their lifestyle, but he’s also passionate about finding the evidence-based practices that will help him, his wife, and daughter thrive as well.

In addition to his clinical work, Colin has a massively popular and totally free newsletter where he keeps his patients and the general public up to date on the latest health science. On top of all this, he’s also the Chair of The Family Thrive’s Scientific Advisory Board. You’re going to want to tune into this one as Justin connects with Colin (FKA the Caveman Doctor) to discuss fatherhood, medical research, and ancestral approaches to health and wellness.

Type image caption here (optional)


About our guest

Colin Champ is a medical researcher and works at Duke University as a practicing Radiation Oncologist and an assistant professor. He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburg, MIT, and Jefferson Medical College. Colin gained popularity as the Caveman Doctor and has since published multiple articles, papers, and books based on his research.

Show notes

  • Audra and Justin founded MaxLove Project is a service organization in an effort to help childhood cancer families improve their children’s quality of life.
  • MaxLove Project works closely with the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC).
  • The Metabolic Health Summit is an international conference that aims to “revolutionize science and medicine by refocusing attention on the importance of nutrition and metabolism in treating disease, extending life, and improving human performance.”
  • Farm to Fork is an annual fundraising event by MaxLove Project to help support childhood cancer families.
  • Colin’s first book, “Misguided Medicine” touches on the skewed juxtaposition of medical progress and ancient wisdom.
  • According to Dr. David Ludwig, “The key to long-term weight loss isn’t counting calories; it’s eating in a way that lowers insulin levels, calms chronic inflammation and, by so doing, readjusts the body weight set-point to a lower level.”
  • This Scientific American article, “It’s Time to End the War on Salt,” discusses multiple findings on why cutting salt may not be as beneficial as we were led to believe.
  • In this Washington Post article, researcher Michael Joyner explains that exercise is not a key factor in weight loss.
  • In an interview with New York Times, Dr. Paul D. Thompson talks about why “endurance exercise reduces the overall risk of heart troubles but can raise the risk in the short term, especially during a race.”
  • Jeff Volek is a dietitian and professor whose work focuses on the benefits of a ketogenic diet.
  • Kevin Kelly is a writer, publisher, photographer, conservationist, and the founding executive editor of Wired Magazine. His essay, “1,000 True Fans,” discusses why quality is more meaningful than quantity when it comes to followership.
  • Virta Health partnered with Veterans Affairs to observe diet’s effect on Type 2 Diabetes. The results of the 90-day study: 98% of VA enrollees saw improved or sub-diabetes HbA1c while eliminating 53% of diabetes prescriptions.
  • There are many ways to try out a low-carb diet. More popular ones include the ketogenic diet, Atkins diet, low-carb Mediterranean diet, and more.
  • The Family Thrive’s Nourish Masterclass discusses lots of options for healthy diets: health isn’t one-size-fits-all!
  • MEK inhibitors “may provide different options for patients seeking treatment for cancer,” especially when combined with other forms of therapy.
  • Check out The Family Thrive’s Embody Masterclass to learn how to get moving as a family!
  • Brad Schoenfeld’s book, “Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy” is a “comprehensive compilation of science-based principles to help professionals develop muscle hypertrophy in athletes and clients.”
  • Beneath a Scarlet Sky” is written by Mark Sullivan and based on a true story.
  • Colin delves into the effects of blue light and melatonin production in this article.
  • Studies suggest that our sleep is greatly affected by moon cycles, regardless of where we are!
  • Interested in remodeling your home with non-toxic materials? Check out these tips.
  • These articles from The Family Thrive and Aeon challenge the societal idea that men shouldn’t cry.
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking” by Susan Cain discusses the value of introverts, silence, and the ability to listen.

In this episode

Dr. Colin Champ is a physician and researcher who walks the talk. He not only conducts research on diet and exercise, and works with his patients to improve their lifestyle, but he’s also passionate about finding the evidence-based practices that will help him, his wife, and daughter thrive as well.

In addition to his clinical work, Colin has a massively popular and totally free newsletter where he keeps his patients and the general public up to date on the latest health science. On top of all this, he’s also the Chair of The Family Thrive’s Scientific Advisory Board. You’re going to want to tune into this one as Justin connects with Colin (FKA the Caveman Doctor) to discuss fatherhood, medical research, and ancestral approaches to health and wellness.

Type image caption here (optional)


About our guest

Colin Champ is a medical researcher and works at Duke University as a practicing Radiation Oncologist and an assistant professor. He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburg, MIT, and Jefferson Medical College. Colin gained popularity as the Caveman Doctor and has since published multiple articles, papers, and books based on his research.

Show notes

  • Audra and Justin founded MaxLove Project is a service organization in an effort to help childhood cancer families improve their children’s quality of life.
  • MaxLove Project works closely with the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC).
  • The Metabolic Health Summit is an international conference that aims to “revolutionize science and medicine by refocusing attention on the importance of nutrition and metabolism in treating disease, extending life, and improving human performance.”
  • Farm to Fork is an annual fundraising event by MaxLove Project to help support childhood cancer families.
  • Colin’s first book, “Misguided Medicine” touches on the skewed juxtaposition of medical progress and ancient wisdom.
  • According to Dr. David Ludwig, “The key to long-term weight loss isn’t counting calories; it’s eating in a way that lowers insulin levels, calms chronic inflammation and, by so doing, readjusts the body weight set-point to a lower level.”
  • This Scientific American article, “It’s Time to End the War on Salt,” discusses multiple findings on why cutting salt may not be as beneficial as we were led to believe.
  • In this Washington Post article, researcher Michael Joyner explains that exercise is not a key factor in weight loss.
  • In an interview with New York Times, Dr. Paul D. Thompson talks about why “endurance exercise reduces the overall risk of heart troubles but can raise the risk in the short term, especially during a race.”
  • Jeff Volek is a dietitian and professor whose work focuses on the benefits of a ketogenic diet.
  • Kevin Kelly is a writer, publisher, photographer, conservationist, and the founding executive editor of Wired Magazine. His essay, “1,000 True Fans,” discusses why quality is more meaningful than quantity when it comes to followership.
  • Virta Health partnered with Veterans Affairs to observe diet’s effect on Type 2 Diabetes. The results of the 90-day study: 98% of VA enrollees saw improved or sub-diabetes HbA1c while eliminating 53% of diabetes prescriptions.
  • There are many ways to try out a low-carb diet. More popular ones include the ketogenic diet, Atkins diet, low-carb Mediterranean diet, and more.
  • The Family Thrive’s Nourish Masterclass discusses lots of options for healthy diets: health isn’t one-size-fits-all!
  • MEK inhibitors “may provide different options for patients seeking treatment for cancer,” especially when combined with other forms of therapy.
  • Check out The Family Thrive’s Embody Masterclass to learn how to get moving as a family!
  • Brad Schoenfeld’s book, “Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy” is a “comprehensive compilation of science-based principles to help professionals develop muscle hypertrophy in athletes and clients.”
  • Beneath a Scarlet Sky” is written by Mark Sullivan and based on a true story.
  • Colin delves into the effects of blue light and melatonin production in this article.
  • Studies suggest that our sleep is greatly affected by moon cycles, regardless of where we are!
  • Interested in remodeling your home with non-toxic materials? Check out these tips.
  • These articles from The Family Thrive and Aeon challenge the societal idea that men shouldn’t cry.
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking” by Susan Cain discusses the value of introverts, silence, and the ability to listen.

In this episode

Dr. Colin Champ is a physician and researcher who walks the talk. He not only conducts research on diet and exercise, and works with his patients to improve their lifestyle, but he’s also passionate about finding the evidence-based practices that will help him, his wife, and daughter thrive as well.

In addition to his clinical work, Colin has a massively popular and totally free newsletter where he keeps his patients and the general public up to date on the latest health science. On top of all this, he’s also the Chair of The Family Thrive’s Scientific Advisory Board. You’re going to want to tune into this one as Justin connects with Colin (FKA the Caveman Doctor) to discuss fatherhood, medical research, and ancestral approaches to health and wellness.

Type image caption here (optional)


About our guest

Colin Champ is a medical researcher and works at Duke University as a practicing Radiation Oncologist and an assistant professor. He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburg, MIT, and Jefferson Medical College. Colin gained popularity as the Caveman Doctor and has since published multiple articles, papers, and books based on his research.

Show notes

  • Audra and Justin founded MaxLove Project is a service organization in an effort to help childhood cancer families improve their children’s quality of life.
  • MaxLove Project works closely with the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC).
  • The Metabolic Health Summit is an international conference that aims to “revolutionize science and medicine by refocusing attention on the importance of nutrition and metabolism in treating disease, extending life, and improving human performance.”
  • Farm to Fork is an annual fundraising event by MaxLove Project to help support childhood cancer families.
  • Colin’s first book, “Misguided Medicine” touches on the skewed juxtaposition of medical progress and ancient wisdom.
  • According to Dr. David Ludwig, “The key to long-term weight loss isn’t counting calories; it’s eating in a way that lowers insulin levels, calms chronic inflammation and, by so doing, readjusts the body weight set-point to a lower level.”
  • This Scientific American article, “It’s Time to End the War on Salt,” discusses multiple findings on why cutting salt may not be as beneficial as we were led to believe.
  • In this Washington Post article, researcher Michael Joyner explains that exercise is not a key factor in weight loss.
  • In an interview with New York Times, Dr. Paul D. Thompson talks about why “endurance exercise reduces the overall risk of heart troubles but can raise the risk in the short term, especially during a race.”
  • Jeff Volek is a dietitian and professor whose work focuses on the benefits of a ketogenic diet.
  • Kevin Kelly is a writer, publisher, photographer, conservationist, and the founding executive editor of Wired Magazine. His essay, “1,000 True Fans,” discusses why quality is more meaningful than quantity when it comes to followership.
  • Virta Health partnered with Veterans Affairs to observe diet’s effect on Type 2 Diabetes. The results of the 90-day study: 98% of VA enrollees saw improved or sub-diabetes HbA1c while eliminating 53% of diabetes prescriptions.
  • There are many ways to try out a low-carb diet. More popular ones include the ketogenic diet, Atkins diet, low-carb Mediterranean diet, and more.
  • The Family Thrive’s Nourish Masterclass discusses lots of options for healthy diets: health isn’t one-size-fits-all!
  • MEK inhibitors “may provide different options for patients seeking treatment for cancer,” especially when combined with other forms of therapy.
  • Check out The Family Thrive’s Embody Masterclass to learn how to get moving as a family!
  • Brad Schoenfeld’s book, “Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy” is a “comprehensive compilation of science-based principles to help professionals develop muscle hypertrophy in athletes and clients.”
  • Beneath a Scarlet Sky” is written by Mark Sullivan and based on a true story.
  • Colin delves into the effects of blue light and melatonin production in this article.
  • Studies suggest that our sleep is greatly affected by moon cycles, regardless of where we are!
  • Interested in remodeling your home with non-toxic materials? Check out these tips.
  • These articles from The Family Thrive and Aeon challenge the societal idea that men shouldn’t cry.
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking” by Susan Cain discusses the value of introverts, silence, and the ability to listen.

Enjoying this? Subscribe to The Family Thrive for more healthy recipes, video classes, and more.

Justin: We met Dr. Colin Champ several years back when he was still writing a blog called The Caveman Doctor. I mean, who couldn't love a caveman doctor? Not only was he spreading an encouraging message about getting back to eating, moving, and sleeping the way most humans have for thousands of years, he’s also doing sophisticated science around diet and cancer. Our non-profit, MaxLove Project, eventually brought him out to Children's Hospital of Orange County to give a talk on diet and cancer, and our friendship has grown ever since.

Today, Dr. Champ is an Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology and a practicing Radiation Oncologist at Duke University. He's published over 60 research articles and continues to research the impact of nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle on cancer outcomes and long-term quality of life. And you can also find his work at colinchamp.com, where you can sign up for his weekly newsletter.

I'm super excited to share this episode with you. We get into diet, exercise, and other lifestyle factors for busy families; how Colin balances health, wellness, and the typical work-life stressors; and how Colin, as a physician, thinks about medical care for his own family. Without further ado, here's my Family Thrive conversation with Dr. Colin Champ.

I think we really met when MaxLove Project brought you out from Pittsburgh to Orange County to talk at the Children's Hospital of Orange County about diet and cancer. Do you remember that?

Colin: Oh yeah, I absolutely do. It's crazy because someone who helped organize that, who worked at the hospital, actually, I had treated one of her family members actually, a couple of years. I never mentioned it to you, and she was totally cool with it. I just never thought about it, but... Yeah, and it kind of looped everything. She came to see me and she was like, Oh, I know who you are. You know, my family member. It was pretty crazy.  

Justin: Oh dang! That is so cool. I love those connections. I love those connections. And then, so you came, you gave a great talk, just to give some extra context that I'm sure you won't be surprised at the talk, we would talk with nurses and dietitians and family members who came to the talk for years after, and the talk was referred to as, “Oh, that hot doctor.” That's what the talk became known as.

But it was really cool because it did serve the intended function that MaxLove Project had, which was bringing the conversation around diet into the cancer world. In pediatric cancer, it was just like, eat whatever you want, as much as you want, and really shove it in, 'cause all we care about is calories, and so we... alright here is a physician, an oncologist, and he's coming and he's saying, “Hey, let's start to think about diet in a more sophisticated way than this.”

Colin: Yeah, and it's funny 'cause that was what, 20...

Justin: I think it was 2015.  I think.

Colin: Okay. So that was six years ago, which seems like an eternity ago, but really is not very long ago. And it's funny 'cause I feel like, since then we have really picked up speed on that message for a portion of the medical field, and then for a portion of the medical field, it's really that same talk needs to...

Justin: Just every month or so, just need to have the same talk.

Colin: Yeah. It's interesting, as much as I dislike social media these days, you pin something about diet and cancer and half the people respond, “Yeah, obviously, this is like 10 years old,” and then half the people respond and say, “What are you talking about? That doesn't make any sense.”

Justin: Yeah, it's a bit disheartening, but I can say that at Children's Hospital of Orange County, that talk was part of a kind of an awakening amongst several oncologists there that like, “Hey, we can start to talk about diet in a different way and not just say, ‘eat whatever you want, and just shove as many calories in.’” So it was cool. And up until we left, CHOC was a place that was much more progressive around thinking around food, and I'm just really grateful that you were a part of that.

And so then just to catch us up, so we would see each other at conferences like the Metabolic Health Summit, and then we invited you guys out for our Farm to Fork for MaxLove Project, so we've stayed in touch over the years. And now with The Family Thrive, we're finding ways to loop you in because not only do you have this wealth of knowledge around diet and really... to use that term again, metabolic health, and so it's exercise, it's sleep, and what are these things we can do with our bodies to improve the way they function. So parents need to know all of that stuff, but also you're a dad, and that's kind of a recent thing in your life. So we're gonna get into the dad thing, and so before, before you became a dad though, you were a doctor. So when do you remember that first inkling of like, “Yes, this is what I wanna do, I wanna be a doctor?”

Colin: So yeah, the first inkling of that was, I was working the artificial heart project during the summer in college, 'cause I was in engineering, and it was the University of Pittsburgh. I had recently passed out when I saw blood.

Justin: No way. That's when you're like, “I need more of this. I need this in my life every day.”

Colin: I wanna torture myself because I hate the sight of blood. No, no, and I came to from that, and it was just dealing with... I like the science of it, but the dealing with people part was really, really amazing. So I always loved the science of medicine, and that's why I was in engineering, but then the art of medicine was really just as if not maybe a little more important to me, so that pushed me over to say, “Hey, I can still do, I can still do this technology stuff, but I could also deal a lot more people, so let's instead, become a doctor.”

Justin: And so you didn't just simply become a doctor. I think there are probably a lot of people who might start out in engineering or some science field and say, “Hey, I want to help other people with this,” and so they go and they become physicians. But you became a physician that really pushes against the orthodoxy. So you didn't just sign up and fade into the background, but rather you were really kind of pushing out the edges. So at what point did you have the realization of like, “I'm not gonna be a normal doctor.”

Colin: I would say, so the nutrition, the lack of actual, tangible knowledge in the nutrition world and really the lack of scientific support for the dietary recommendations that we were telling people during my residency, and really how much it conflicted with what I was taught growing up culturally, what really most cultures across the world have been passing along for thousands of years, that was when it really hit a high note for me. But I must say that even going into it, I trained in chemical engineering at MIT, all of our tests were open book, they were open notes, open whatever, all of our engineering tests, that is... And really, they were fostering and promoting and testing your ability to think.

So when I got to med school, I took anatomy first and I took embryology, that was the first course, and the embryology part is just pure rote memorization. I remember going into the first test saying, “They're not gonna ask us any of this stuff, that's ridiculous, like I don't need to know it, what week is this form.” And I went into the first test and failed it, so miserably.

Justin: You’re not supposed to think here Colin, you're just supposed to remember.

Colin: Yeah, I remember calling home and being like, I'm done, this is, I'll take one more test and I’m out of med school. This is ridiculous.

Justin: Oh wow.

Colin: Yeah, I guess that was kind of the first moment and then I kind of forgot about it. Went through med school, then in residency, realizing how bad that the diet and exercise kind of recommendations and science was, and they were regurgitating the same wrong message over and over. And I'm not being overly critical. This happens all the time. Science is that we're aiming towards that right, right answer, we just don't...know it, so most of what we're doing is wrong. It was just so incredibly wrong that I realized that we really needed to just start all over again. And so that motivated me to start questioning things, obviously in the background as a resident and then more in the open now that I’m a somewhat successful researcher.

Justin: Well, really out, out in the open, because your first book was provocatively titled “Misguided Medicine,” and so you just came right out in the open. There's a ton of stuff that we're getting wrong here. Do you wanna talk about how that book kind of formed in your mind?

Colin: Sure, so that was really, when I started my blog, which was Caveman Doctor, which I didn't put my name on it 'cause I was fearful of questioning anything out in the open. And it was in the early stages of blogging and internet, and that was when we didn't have all these plug-ins where they do it for you, that was not very attractive-looking.

Justin: The old school. And The New York Times hadn't got around to outing your name yet, so...

Colin: Yeah, exactly. So, I just was writing articles that were interesting to me. A lot of them cancer-based, most of them dietary-based, especially in the weight loss world, because at that point, really all we had were a bunch of randomized studies showing that low fat, calorie-counting type diets didn't work. And this was shown again and again and again in all these randomized studies, yet on the other hand, I am learning all of these cancer randomized studies with radiation, with chemotherapy, with hormonal therapy as the gold standard of medicine. And so on one hand, I'm taking the results of these to treat patients, how I do the dose of radiation I did, the type of radiation recommended, except with the diet world, we were just ignoring all these randomized studies that were coming out.

Justin: Oh, wow.

Colin: Yeah, so that was really where I started writing about that, and then I realized how much, I realized how much collateral damage there was from that message. And that could be salt, because if you put people on a high-carb diet oftentimes they retain salt because it increases levels of insulin. So then, then they tell people who got a low-salt diet, and then when you start digging and pulling at threads, in that strand of, I don't wanna say lies, but just regurgitated to a degree, nonsense, you realize how bad the salt recommendations are and how they're not supported by the data either. And then you just keep looking, and avoid the sun, don't ever go on the sun or lather on sunscreen.

Justin: Protein will kill your kidneys...

Colin: Yeah, exactly, and stuff that we just always kind of believed, and then there's really no data to support it. And not only is there no data to support it, but there's actually data to say the opposite.

So lack of data to support something is one thing, but when you have contradictory data saying that not only is it, not only should you not do this, it's actually bad to not do it. Then you have to really start to rethink things. And then you even look at the exercise recommendations, that was another one that killed me. It was a go jogging, run for hours and hours, you're gonna burn all these calories and somehow get skinny and then, I know a handful of 50-to-60-year-old, long-time marathon runners, elite runners who are having heart attacks. Friends parents are having heart attacks, and at that point, and maybe it was just coincidental, and my family and friends there was a large number, but it really struck a chord with me that the number of people I knew that were supposedly physically fit, having heart attacks, knees were destroyed. Then you start pulling on that thread and you realize that there's this whole slew of issues that were just perpetuated over the past 30 years or so.

So that is my long-winded way of saying, I started writing each of these down and then exploring them, writing about it on my blog, and basically I came up to the top 10 medical issues and somehow found its way to “Misguided Medicine” was what a group said I should do. I think I had tweeted it or put it on Facebook, I said “Which is better?”

Justin: Yes, you did the market research…nice.

Colin: And I wrote it, it was longer. There's two editions, the first was dryer, the second one's better. And then my friend referred to it as, he liked it because each chapter could be read, each time you sat down to go to the bathroom.

Justin: Nice, I am gonna follow this as a thread through, and then I wanna ask about the writing for you because you write a lot. I'm surprised. I am on your email list and it's like, “Oh my god, he writes,” and you're a really good writer and so, okay, screw it, I'm just gonna go down this path. When did you know that you love to write?

Colin: So great question. So I was always a terrible writer, and when I started writing on the blog, you could see how I never pushed myself in that regard. And so I realized that to convey my message, and I know there's everyone saying you should do video, you should be YouTube, you should do, I just have an issue with all of these things that I see is lacking permanence to a degree. I want a book to hand my daughter and say, “I wrote this 10 years ago. It's still pertinent. Or 20 years ago, I think you should read this.”

So I realized that I thought writing was still very important to me. And then I realized I needed to get better at writing, I needed to convey what I was thinking better, I needed to do it in a creative way, and I needed to take science that was dense and make it translatable for any person to pick up and read. And I realized the only way I was gonna get better at it was, I don't like speaking in front of a lot of people, I don't like a lot of attention. We can talk about that, it's a whole different thing.

But I figured I'm just gonna write and I'm gonna publish it all online. And I'm gonna let people email me and say, “Hey, you said this, or You did this, or this is good, or this is bad,” and a free audience free critique and so that's what I did and I got, I got hate mail, I got... And this is on a lot... All over the map. “I like that you're doing this.” “I don't like that you're doing that.” “Hey, this is great.” “Hey, this isn't…” And it just, it was the best way to polish my writing and it got me to where I am today. Yeah, I'm not saying I'm this great writer, but if you compare what I'm writing now versus then it's like night and day. It was trial by fire.

Justin: Okay, so that's really interesting. There's a part of you that doesn't want attention, that is not comfortable being out in the spotlight, but then there's another part of you that's like, I have something to say and I need to get it out. Do you experience that as a battle or...

Colin: It's tough in academia, so it's very easy to be... Ignore 2020 and 2021. Prior to 2020-2021, it's very easy to be discredited or you question something you're called a quack, or you don't wanna promote yourself, but then you wanna get across an idea in the way that social media, the metrics are set up that if you don't promote yourself, no one sees your idea. So it's certainly, it's a whole conflicting, even if our ideas are novel, we’re promoting a software, promoting something external to us, so it's not us. But it's weird that you see, even in the dietary world, ketogenic or diet, everyone wants to be like “I'm the king of…” I talked about keto—

Jeff Volek was running these studies like 20 years ago when I was like when I was still in high school. We all do interesting things, but odds are, someone has done it first or laid some groundwork. It’s like the intermittent fasting gurus online. So it ends up being them promoting themselves and not actually what they should be promoting is the science or what not. And I get it. It's hard to have one without the other.

So it is a battle, it remains a battle. But really, my strategy has been to push the science, push the studies, the research, etcetera. Add some humor, make it translatable, and I know that doesn't catch everyone, but I'm not out there for self-promotion or to be shirtless on Twitter or video, doing videos of me cooking meals 10 times, it's stuff takes tons of time. I have a family.

Justin: Right, but if we do wanna do a Shirtless Colin Cooking Live Event for The Family Thrive, we're not gonna rule that out, right Colin?

Colin: I’m open to all possibilities.

Justin: Alright, so what I'm hearing is that this may be an internal battle in you, like on the one hand, you're not seeking out fame and the limelight, but, but on the other, you have stuff that you wanna put out there. What is really the decisive factor here is a commitment to science, like you want the science to get out there.

Colin: Yeah, and it's interesting, a good friend and media coach that I've worked with who's just a dynamite person, we kinda had this back and forth battle where she's saying, “You need to do this, you do more promotion, you need…” And she was totally right, to get the message out there. She's like, this message is important, so you need to look past all that stuff. The most important thing is to get it out there.

Well, then you have guys like Kevin Kelly from Wired Magazine, who, he has this thing about a thousand true fans where you just need to be yourself and be real, and... So it's funny you mentioned my newsletter, 'cause that's kind of been my... I have all this different stuff, but that's my just... I sit down and write, it's me in my office by myself or with my wife, with my daughter, and it's just the real stuff, stuff that's bugging me, stuff, that's important, and I really have been focusing on that and the readers of that have been quadrupling every day.

Justin: It's a great newsletter. Yeah, I mean, you have the kind of literary part at the beginning and then at the end, you got these bullet points of the latest science, so you get a little of it all in there.

Colin: Yeah, and so I feel like it's vindication to a degree, 'cause people are... It's funny, my email wasn't forwarding, so actually, for six months, I thought no one was even reading it. And then I realized it was disconnected, and I had like, I forget how many, like 1,200 emails waiting for me, but people like, Yeah, this is really speaking to me. This is great, and I got a couple angry people, especially 'cause as you know, I don't like politics and I’m a bit vocal about just getting politics out of lives and people thought that was the worst thing in the world, but...

Yeah, I really feel like I am speaking to people. It’s slow, this is a marathon, I'm looking to do this the rest of my life, so if I don't become overly popular in the next six months, I don't care, it's taken me 10 years to get where I am now.

Justin: Yeah, yeah, it is a life project.

So this commitment to science... Let's go back real quick to the “Misguided Medicine” book. What has changed for the better since you first wrote that book? Do you see any positive change?

Colin: Yeah, that's great. You brought that up 'cause I don't think the positives of these things are brought up a lot on social media. Yeah, there's been a huge change. So exercise world is flipped upside down. More people are lifting weights. We have a study that's on hold right now because of COVID at Duke. We're taking our women with breast cancer up to age 70 and throwing, heavy for them, weights on them, having them squat, having them do all this stuff, and you never think about.

The salt data, there was just a huge study that came out that's been flipped on its head, but I think a lot of people are questioning the whole sun, with reason, don't go outside and get burned and yada yada yada, but they're realizing, “Oh, actually maybe the sun’s good for you. We should be telling people to get out.” And then obviously the low-fat world is that, that whole thing has been flipped, the ketogenic diets getting tested with cancer, it's getting... Virta Health has started, the VA, but they're putting our veterans on these diets that have been shown to be successful in randomized studies. So I think there's a lot of positive steps forward.

Justin: One of the funny things that just came to mind, how things have changed, I think when I first started to follow you, it was in the Caveman Doctor days, so it might have been 2012 or 2013.

And so thinking about all the way back then to the present day, back then it was low-carb diets could still kill you, keto would kill you, and now it seems like the conventional line is, “Well, keto is not a miracle,” or “Low carb is not a miracle.” So we've gone from, it's gonna kill you to like, Well, okay, it's not a miracle. That's progress where they're saying, “Oh yes, of course it helps, but it's just not a miracle.”

Colin: Yeah, there's the science world and then there's what people are actually doing, and I know these terms are all vague to a degree. I like the low-carb paleo-ish, but then when they were questioning people, “What diets can you actually stay on?” That's one of the most successful diets for people is when they go on this paleo-esque diet, whereas you know the 25% calorie-restricted, low-fat diet, the adherence is terrible.

So say what you want about, what's the best or worst diet, on the same note, a diet that no one can follow, it doesn't matter how great it is, we need to adherence And people are now experimenting on themselves and see what works for them, so I think it's great, it's very positive.

Justin: So there have been these positive changes in medicine, but I imagine there's still a few things that have not budged. So what do you see that just is not making the sort of progress that you wish?

Colin: The... Yeah, so the low-fat, I mean, if you see a dietitian at most medical centers, they're gonna tell you all the stuff that you would have gotten told in 1975. So it's still low fat. It still count calories. I still do all the stuff and everyone knows you can't do... So that's been taking a lot longer to budge, which is unfortunate 'cause there's a lot of awesome dietitians out there, but it makes a lot of physicians—just being very frank here—it makes a lot of physicians scared or very hesitant to send their patients to dieticians. Yeah.

Justin: Oh absolutely. With MaxLove Project, we worked with some amazing registered dietitians, clinical dieticians, but we know that quite frankly, they're kind of rare.

Colin: Yeah, yeah, so most physicians I know will call me up and say, “Where can I send patients? I can't send them to the dietitian.” It’s a shame, So that needs to change.

Justin: Before we move on, I do wanna note that the dietary approach that you mentioned, the paleo-esque low-carb, is exactly what we promote on The Family Thrive, and so when you get on it, you can go to the Nourish Masterclass and it's gonna have all the details about a paleo-esque low carb approach, it's not the extreme keto or these other more therapeutic clinical diets. But it's like an everyday approach. So before we move on, real quick, Colin, what does this sort of eating look like in your own life?

Colin: So basically, it's all food, all real food, we cook everything we eat in the Champ household. Eggs for breakfast with some kind of vegetable, if I do breakfast, coffee with heavy cream.

Justin: Okay, okay, so you don't always do a breakfast?

Colin: No, the weekends, I usually just... I mean, you could say intermittent fast. But I just skip breakfast. And then sometimes during the week, I will skip breakfast as well, if I forgot that I have a patient at 7:30 in the morning on Friday, and I'm sitting there in my bathroom robe at 7:10. So I shoot off to work. But yeah, I try to keep it not-so regimented and kind of all over the place just to keep my body guessing, I guess, and then lunch and dinner are all always just had a ton of vegetables, then some cooked in olive oil or raw or whatever, or cooked in butter. And then some sort of fat and protein, so whether it's anything from shrimp to lamb to steak to salmon and whatever, all over the map. And then the only other things are cheese, I love cheese, as well as my cousin's sopressata, which is Italian. It’s supposed to be terrible for you, but I question that. And then red wine.

Justin: Let's just take a step back here. You are now a dad. Did you always know that you wanted to be a dad? Or was there a moment where you're like, “This is it, this is gonna be awesome?”

Colin: I always did, and the surprise for me is actually how late in life it was. But when I was in my medical training, I basically said, I don't wanna have a kid till this is all done 'cause I would not be able to be giving what I should for this.

Justin: Yeah, so you knew it was just a matter of waiting until the time was right. And so what has surprised you most about fatherhood? So you always knew, but I'm sure there have been some surprises, well.

Colin: Well number one, how much my sleep would be interrupted—still at 15 months, still happening.

Justin: Yeah.

Colin: That was a big surprise. And really, we're at a very young age right now, but I will say, so it's very intense, but it has really made me rethink in a very positive way, kind of where I am, how I view things in life, and really just stopping to put... Making everything so goal-oriented, and everything has to be... And we're told everything has to be instrumental, right. You do this because of this, and it's pretty nice to, you know I'm stressed out about x, y or z, and my daughter's like, thinks playing peak-a-boo is the most amazing thing in the entire world, and I'm just like, “Man, alright, I need to step back and just play a little more…”

Justin: Oh, Colin, I love this word instrumental, it's one of my favorites because you're right, so much in our lives, it's simply instrumental. I'm going to this job to get the money, and I'm doing this, this thing in order to achieve this other thing, and unfortunately, we're taught to treat other people in instrumental ways, you know, I'm interacting with this clerk at the store in order to get stuff. It’s not an intrinsic relationship, and it even... 'cause as I said before, we hopped on this, I've been doing a lot of work around emotions and emotional processing. It's even the case that we fall in love and have the long-term partners for unconscious instrumental reasons. We're often trying to get something that we didn't get in childhood. You know, “Can you love me in the way that I never got?” But when you have a kid, there is something that just busts through all that and it's like this thing, this is the most intrinsic relationship in the world, it's like... I love this simply because it is.

Colin: Yeah, you can have goals set up, it’s Saturday,” I'm gonna do this, this, this,” and then she wakes up and says, “Nope, you’re not doing any of that, we’re just hanging out.”

Justin: Can you just give me some love and attention? And that's it. Then it's all good. My god, yes. Yes, I love that.

So that has been a surprise in fatherhood. Yeah, I wanna reflect on that. I think I might have had an inkling about that when my kids were young, but I didn't wait until my PhD. We scheduled Max, 'cause Audra had to have a C-section, so we scheduled Max to be born the day after my oral defense for my first PhD, and then we scheduled Maesie to be born about a month before I was gonna graduate, and I knew that I would have my dissertation done by then 'cause I had to have it done a month before so my advisors could look at it...

So I scheduled it, but I was just... I look back and so much is a blur, and so I really have an appreciation that you're present enough to really see how important that is. It strikes me that I might have missed out on a lot. But even at this age, Max is, Max just turned 14, Maesie will turn 11 soon. Learning about emotions and emotional health and the emotional connection, like my relationship with both of my kids is more amazing than it's ever been, and so I do have a feeling or a sense that even if you mess up, there's always time for repair, and there's always time for just giving that unvarnished love and attention.

Yeah. Alright, so you're a physician. How do you approach medical care for your wife and your daughter differently? Because you've seen how the sausage is made, and so you know all the stuff going on behind the scenes, somebody like me are just like, “Hey man, like whatever the doctor says, Go for it.” Yeah, so how do you approach this?

Colin: So there's two sides to it. I'd say the one is, it's been a definitely a very anxiety-provoking part of my life now that we're getting older and I have a child. It's easy, if you have a personal medical issue or, like a couple of years ago, my appendix exploded, so I had to get an emergency surgery for that, and you don't think that much of it. But when my wife—and we had a very hectic birth, a couple of trips in and out of the hospital—when it’s her, it kills me. And when my daughter has any issues, it kills me too...

It's very different, it's very hard to... I don't know, I don't know how to... It's like a knife twisting in your stomach. It's tough to deal with. I need to work with that.

Justin: Do you feel... Do you ever feel like “I'm a doctor. Let me take over, like can I just…”

Colin: I’m a Radiation Oncologist!

Justin: Alright, so you’re the other way.

Colin: Maybe that’s it. In medicine I’m helpless for a lot of other things. And my wife had extremely high blood pressure very acutely and had to have an emergency C section, and she had postpartum eclampsia, it was just like I was worthless besides just being worried, worried sick.

Justin: Well, so I'm assuming you experience that in a much more high-stress way, because you know what could happen. For somebody like me, it's like, “Oh, that sounds bad, but I don't really know what's gonna... I don't know all the things that could happen.” And you, you've seen it.

Colin: Yeah and that was enlightening. The other really enlightening thing was, so when your wife gets pregnant and you go to the OB, there's a million different OBs, you go to these groups and you meet all of them because you don't know who's actually gonna deliver. So it's really... Some of you love some of them you don't... So that's a little hairy 'cause you don't know who's gonna be there the day you deliver. The guy that delivered our daughter was amazing. So we got extremely lucky.

But it really ingrained, again, I brought this up before, but the art of medicine versus the science.  We met 12 different people and they all had such very different views on the same thing. So for instance, you know our diets, so I didn't want her to do the glucose tolerance test because we checked it at home, and I said, “If you give her 150 or 250 grams of...her blood glucose is gonna go through the roof, you're gonna tag her, you're gonna say she's done.”

So the one doc fought with us, the one doc was just like, “You guys are difficult, that I know people like you,” and that was very frustrating. Whereas another doc who was great said, “I totally get it, you're checking blood glucose at home, can you just do five days in a row, can you check your blood glucose and then show me those results?” And we did, and they are all perfect. And she said, “We're good now.” And that was amazing. And.... But she also was...lived a very active lifestyle. I think she was like, “Hey, these are fit people.” This is great. Whereas the other doc was like, I’m the doc.

Justin: Checkin’ off the boxes. Yeah, “Can you just let me check off this box, dude?”

Colin: That was very interesting and it just shows you there's... Especially look around all this, there's so much like science talk, and the problem is in medicine, there's so much that goes into how you view the science. So… I’m not saying...

Justin: Interpretation.  

Colin: Yeah, yeah, exactly. We got so many different opinions from people that you have to remember that we're only humans analyzing these results or this data, and depending on your background, how you were raised, your culture, or all these different things, you're gonna view that data very differently. And so you kind of experience that firsthand when you go into see the doctor every couple of weeks and you get a total different response on telling them the exact same thing.

Justin: Oh man. Yes, yes. This all, this all feels so familiar. We're lucky now with Max has been in relatively good health, except his tumor recurred, but we've been on a MEK inhibitor and it's been super just smooth and chill, and so we haven't really had a lot of these experiences lately, but I know that, yeah, we're... It's like this is the third different person that I told this story to, and I'm getting three different reactions here. I can imagine...

So you mentioned that your wife has the same sort of lifestyle approach that you do, and so I imagine your daughter doesn't have a choice, and so she's in this with you guys, so what does that look like? How does your whole... So you've talked about the diet. How do you approach nutrition for your daughter? And then what does exercise and what are some of the other lifestyle things that you do that might be a little weird to other people?

Colin: So with our daughter, she eats everything we eat... So, well, she eats a lot more avocados, 'cause she just loves avocados, and some of the food we give her ends up on the floor. Besides those shortcomings, yeah, we’ve fed her duck, buffalo, calamari... We don't give her any sweets, we ah, she ate a piece of 87% dark chocolate only 'cause she grabbed it out of my wife's hands and just downed it in front of us. So she eats it all and we’re lucky she loves it. I'm hoping that will continue. My wife had pulled pork, my wife made pulled pork last night and she loved it.

She eats spicy food. If we give her fruit, it's usually berries, we'll give her some bananas and things, which I don't eat a lot of bananas, I don't eat a lot of tropical fruits, or we'll throw in some tropical for her, that would maybe be the one difference. And then obviously, we don't give her wine or coffee.

Justin: No wine or coffee yet. Alright, wait until she's at least three or four.

I imagine you don't have to worry about exercise for her because she just moves. I'm sure she's in a perpetual state of motion. What does it look like for you guys though... How do you approach your own physical activity?

Colin: So right before COVID, about two months left to go, so we worked out at Duke, the gym at Duke, the undergrad gym. It was great. I felt like I was 20 years younger, like I was back in college.

Justin: Playin’ hoops with the kids.

Colin: I’m the creepy old guy that’s there. We worked out there, it was actually awesome 'cause Julie was very far along, very obviously pregnant. She stopped squatting and we do heavy compound movements and so she didn't do everything. We were smart about it, but she would go into the gym and be deadlifting with this very obvious baby in her stomach.

Justin: Oh my god.

Colin: It was cool because I noticed some of the older people in the gym, some of the older faculty were looking at her and they would shake their head like, if she's doing this, I should be doing... She has a baby in there...

Justin: Yeah, get to it.

Colin: I remember the one guy that works the gym, super cool guy was... He didn't realize she was pregnant, 'cause we would roll in with coats on or at ever, and then the one day he was like, “You’ve been pregnant all this time?”

It was cool, but we bought a bunch of weights for the home garage knowing that once the baby came, I wasn't going to the gym. She couldn't do a lot of the stuff in the gym, she had a C-section, we didn’t know at the time. So we got a bunch of patted jump blocks, we got trap bar deadlift, we got a bar, we got a bunch of bumper plates, kettlebells, and filled our garage up. We're lucky we did, because then COVID hit.

Justin: Oh man.

Colin: We couldn't even...

Justin: Yeah, there was a shortage of weight lifting equipment, right?

Colin: Yeah, it was nuts 'cause we actually tried to get a little more and there was a huge waitlist. So that was great, and actually, we liked it. I play old-school music in the garage, I blast it. With our daughter, we don't blast it when she's in there, but we would put her in there with us.

She's in her bouncy chair, now she stands at the top of the steps watching me work out. We had this little jail thing we put her in, so she won't fall down the steps. She like, watches and she claps and she jumps up and down. And when I throw the weight, she thinks it's the funniest thing in the world. So she watches everything we do, she eats well, we're giving her her life, life lessons at a very young age, and my wife does all the same stuff.

Justin: So in our Embody Masterclass on The Daily Thrive, we talk about the importance of having your kids watch you work out. So... What do you think about that?

Colin: Yeah, it's 100%. When I think back, I grew up in the ‘80s, so there wasn't—gyms weren't that big back then and exercise was more jogging. But my family was extremely active, and I remember my dad played in all these softball leagues, he would go play basketball, and I just remember thinking he had the largest biceps in the world. And to this day, I still think he had these massive, massive biceps.

Justin: Like Popeye. Or no, Popeye had the forearms, but...

Colin: Yeah, and I remember thinking like, that's just normal. Everyone's that active and everyone works out, and then I remember basketball was big. I played in college, and I thought I was pretty good in high school. My dad would still always crush me, he’d block me out, he was real physical.

Justin: He’s got the old man's strength.

Colin: Exactly, and it really left an impression on me, and my older brother who’s three years older than me, was always in the lifting working out, so he was someone I really watched. He introduced me to... It's funny, I just mentioned to him, there's a good Brad Schoenfeld textbook on hypertrophy that I just read, and I was saying how, “Man, we were really... We knew this stuff decades ago.” And he's like, “Well, yeah, we read the right people,” and he introduced me to the right people, so... Yeah, that wasn't as big of a head start, he’s three years ahead of me, but he's a big reason why I was physically active from a young age, so now we're adding 10 year... A 10-year start on that, so hopefully, I hope it pays dividends.

Justin: Alright, so you guys got to diet, you got the exercise, lockdown, what are some of the other lifestyle things?

Colin: Sleep. I do, I sleep eight hours a night. No matter what. And then in the winter, I actually, I'll do nine hours of sleep. And granted my daughter will certainly wake us, like last night, she woke us up, but I think people underestimate the importance of sleep. I can't work out like I am if I can’t sleep, I can't work as productive as I can if I don't sleep.

Justin: So what are some sleep-related behaviors that you do to make sure that you're gonna be able to sleep as well as you do?

Colin: I don't watch any... I mean, I don't watch much TV anyway, but I don't watch anything at night that's gonna keep me up. The last time I watched anything at night, and it was the Super Bowl, and I could not sleep...

Justin: No way, you were just so pumped up like the old man, Brady.

Colin: I used to, I used to legit not be able to watch Steeler games 'cause if I got ticked off, which I often did, I couldn’t sleep. So I try to read at night, I read a lot of non-fiction, which gets hard at night, 'cause I fall asleep, so I try to find better fiction books, [“Beneath a Scarlet Sky”] I read recently, that's actually non-fiction, but it's a pretty good read.

So I try to read books at night and I try to not... Our lights in our house are all dim, they're all like Edison bulbs, they're not maybe the most energy-efficient, but they're all very dim, and then we have LEDs upstairs that are, they can go any color. So I make them red at night, so there's no blue light, there's nothing...

Justin: So for listeners who don't understand that, so the red light, you mentioned blue light, how does that help you sleep?

Colin: So blue light tells your brain that it's daytime and it cuts off melatonin production, which really makes sense, right when it got dark out for the last bajillion years, it would basically signal to our bodies that night was here, and so your body starts making melatonin and melatonin makes you tired. Only since electricity did we have actual blue lights shining in our faces keeping us up, we had fire and things like that, but again, these aren't blue lights, so devices will basically signal in your brain that you should be alert, you should be awake. So if I use devices, and I've gotten so, so used to it that I have, I have blue light filters on my computer and everything, but if I watch a lot of electronics at night, I just won’t sleep well... Well, anyway..

Justin: Even if it's like a Kindle book or something?

Colin: I don't read, I’m uhh, old school, I need the tangible book in my hands. I don’t know about Kindle though, that's a good question. But movies and videos and things don't often turn out well, yeah, and there's a physiological...

Justin: Did you see the study that came out a month or so ago about the moon cycles and sleep?

Colin: No.

Justin: Alright, so what they found, I will send it to you, I think it was like a nature study, what they found is across cultures, it doesn't matter if they're semi-hunter gatherer out in the Amazon or if they're in Tokyo or whatever, that we humans get less sleep at night when the sun is around its full moon than other times in the month, and it doesn't matter if we're being flooded with city lights or in the jungle, that we have just evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to have this cycle of sleep that we get slightly less sleep when the sun is around its full moon.

Colin: Ah, that’s interesting... Yeah. I’ll have to check it out.

Justin: Alright, so sleep, diet, exercise, anything else? Are those like the big three?

Colin: Those are the big main ones, and then you said about the weird stuff, we're... Our mattress is latex, we don't have like... We try to avoid plastic.

Justin: So kind of a non-toxic approach to how...

Colin: Exactly, everything, like our sheets are like all cotton, we redid this old house in Pittsburgh, we brought a pretty cool 100-year-old house to its glory and we used like, water paint, everything was non-toxic. All the paint, it was like non-VOC. We had a whole list when we put it for sale, like the wiring, the... We avoided caulking and all that, I don't think anyone else cared.

Justin: Like look at this masterpiece we put together. What is Zillow saying? I don't care.

Colin: So we're pretty big about that and then... Yeah, it's just funny 'cause people call this stuff like biohacking and I'm... A lot of things, it's just like... It's actually opposite of that... It's like doing what my 96-year-old grandfather did.

Justin: Right, yeah. One of the simplest ways, when I got into this stuff and I started to follow you and a bunch of other people around 2013-ish. When I eventually... When we started to develop programs for the MaxLove Project and we were thinking, “How can we make this information as easy as possible?” Just saying look at what your great-grandparents did,  look at the whole thing when they went to bed, how they slept, how they move, how they ate and just do that, because that's like hundreds of thousands of years of information there.

Colin: All the stuff that we've had, it's so valuable that we've had thousands of years of trial and error. We can't... We can only do the studies we can do now, but a lot of this stuff has been through literal millions of people, thousands and thousands of years, so there's a lot of answers in that data.

Justin: Okay, my next thing for you to geek out on then with this ancestral approach to health is male tears, male crying. 'Cause I just read this article the other day on the lost art of the manly cry, and it's all because I'm like going way deep into emotions. And apparently, for the vast majority of cultures around the world—for as far back and recorded history as we can go—male crying was something done openly, done for a wide range of things. And it was just a part of life.

And then, according to this article, at the beginning of the Industrial Age, urbanization, as people went from their small little villages into these big cities and we basically live with strangers, and instead of working in the same thing that your father and your grandfather did, you're now going to a factory or the office, that male emotions, or really all emotions, just had to be clamped down because it wasn't good for the factory, it wasn't good for office culture, and then also you're not as free. You don't feel as free to share your emotions when you're living amongst a bunch of strangers, and so I was really… I was thinking like, “Okay, this is, this is the next part of the ancestral health movement is crying.”

Colin: I mean, it's totally reasonable as a man to cry—like I cried when the Steelers lost the Superbowl. When my dog dies, it's gonna be a sad day. No, you bring up a good point. I think... I've been reading a lot on corporate culture, and I think there is this like... I actually was just talking to my buddy about this, there is this like, you can't show any emotion, you can't joke, you can't...you just have to be this amorphous blob of nothing and then you get home and you're like, “Oh my god, I need to…” It's a bizarre... Yeah, it's a bizarre thing to try to block just normal human highs and lows of interactions.

Justin: Yeah, yeah, so... Alright, I am gonna be awaiting a big Colin Champ study on tears in a few years. Alright, so we're coming up against time, so I wanna just really briefly talk about, first of all, has anything had to dramatically change? Any self-care routines dramatically changed since you've become a father, and if so, how have you made it work?

Colin: Yeah, the sleeping has been the big one, and we just really... I make sure I get that sleep, and if she keeps us up for an hour, I'm sleeping in or going to bed earlier the next night, and that's really just been... In the beginning, it was so...she was up so much, it was just killing us, so that's been a huge change, and then the instrumental thing has really just—I'm really trying to not, especially on my... Once the work day is over on the weekend hits... I'm just trying to not have every second of the day accounted for and have it with a goal-oriented activity, which really has defined my last many years of my life.

I think it's gonna be very positive, I just... I don't know, I try to think back on my childhood and the things that made me happiest. The goals are part of it, but that's not all the things I think back on, and I'm 40 now, I'm not gonna look back when I'm 60 be like, “Oh, the best part of being 40 was when I did this at work, or published that review article.”

Justin: Oh my god. Yes. You're speaking poetry to me. Alright, so the final regular question, before we get into the three questions we're asking every podcast guest. First Colin, what is at the edge, what is what is really new and challenging in your own personal growth and development, like what's the thing that you're really trying to work on right now?

Colin: Yeah. I don't wanna keep talking about the same thing too much, but it's really being okay with not having everything measured, or not measuring myself with these outcomes. Just enjoying life and it's everything... And this isn't... My field is by no means special, this is everywhere now. It's pervasive, but for me, it was study get a grade, study get a grade, study get a grade. Okay. College degree. Studying grades. Studying grades, okay. Got my MD then residency. Then it's published papers, how many papers could be published? I’m almost 60 now, so if I keep going, actually can get to 100 and then it just... It never ends, and it's like the treadmill of consumption, but the treadmill of goal... I don't know.

See, so it's easier to do it and be like, “No, this is healthy. This isn't actually pathologic, it's healthy because it's my career.” So it's balancing and... And I work for a nice place, so I've worked for stressful places in the past, so it's not them even, it's not like they're driving me. So it's making my boss happy, obviously taking care of my patients to the fullest, that goes without saying. But taking care of my family to the fullest, and me as well, and that's why I sleep is support at, because I know that if I'm not healthy, my family can't be healthy, my job can't be healthy, so it's just categorizing all those things in my head and figuring out a strategy where I can make everyone happy enough, but still be whole inside.

Justin: Awesome, well, we're excited to follow you on that journey. Alright, so let's get into the last three questions we ask everyone, these are like kind of quick fires, so the first one is, if you could put a big post-it note on every parent's fridge tomorrow morning, what would that post-it note say?

Colin: It’d say fast and slow.

Justin: Fast and Slow. Okay, well, so I'm gonna need a second post to note just to describe what that means just...What does that mean?

Colin: Every day, tt's comprised of fast and slow moments, it's not... If it's all slow, nothing gets done, if it's all fast, you wanna pull your hair out. The day is: get up, relax the cup of coffee, finish your book, hang out with your daughter, get a workout in, boom—fast. Go to work, you grind it out for eight hours, it's just... The day is up and down, and to roll with the punches, and...

Justin: Roll with the punches.

Colin: It may take a while to figure that out, that life and your day is walking intermixed with lots of sprints.

Justin: And make room. Okay, so make room for the fast and the slow. Alright, nice. The last quote that changed the way you think or feel.

Colin: One I heard recently, I heard a Mark Twain one recently, but I can't remember it. I've heard one recently about smart people not necessarily being wise or something like that.

Justin: Ah... Oh, I resonate with that so deeply, spending as much of my life in academia as I have, and this move to The Family Thrive for me, I'm now starting to think of myself as a recovering academic, and so I just look back and so it's like, “Oh my god, I know so many smart people, I've come across so many really smart, smart people... How many of them were wise?” Oh boy, I'll tell you, I definitely could count them on one hand and I wouldn't use up all the fingers. Let's just say that.

Colin: Yeah, and I'm still in academia, and you see it all the time, and it's fine, everyone doesn't have to be, have to be wise, but then maybe we shouldn't only turn to those people to be wise if they're actually not.

Justin: Right, but oh my gosh, I just feel like it would be so much better if academia made more room or had some sort of incentive to be wise... I don't know, there's no incentive I feel.

Colin: The problem is, to piggyback on that, the problem is, there's a book on this and I can't think of the name, but it's like the introvert knew or something like that, but the most, the loudest people generally, they're the ones that climb to the top or they're the ones whose voices are heard at meetings. Whereas like the wise sagey, like dorky, whatever people are sitting in the back of the room brainstorming what the plan should be, and their plan is obviously mastermind, masterful, but then the loud, unwise, whatever.

Justin: And I'm sure they're also saying like, “I am not going to get in the middle of this viper nest here.”

Colin: Yeah, and so-and-so from the university of whatever, who's an academic must be blah, blah is heading this committee. And then oftentimes, you'll see that, like on the news or on... And then you'll see people that work with them being like, “Oh god, this is a disaster.”

Justin: Yeah, yeah, well, but it all goes back to incentives, and so the incentives are publishing and grants and grant money, and so neither of those require wisdom, they require strategic thinking, they require being smart, they require a bunch of things, but none of them really require wisdom. I mean, of course there are why people who do that stuff, it's just not a requirement. And it's not part of the incentives. Yeah. Alright, so the last question we wanna ask all of our guests, because as you know, especially when you have young kids, you can have a rough day and let out a sigh that sounds something like this, “Kids…” And so we all know that it can be stressful and exhausting, but we wanna end by celebrating kids, so Colin, what is your favorite thing about kids?

Colin: They remind you nonstop to keep playing.

Justin: Mmm. Play, yeah.

Colin: Yeah, the longest day, Friday, I was stuck in an hour of traffic, it was like 7 o'clock at night, I got home, and I jumped through the door, my daughter's playing peekaboo. She's in the peekaboo phase. It's just like, alright, I can’t complain.

Justin: Love it. Colin, thank you so much for this interview. I think we got a lot out of it. We definitely wanna have you back.

Colin: I’d love to. Thanks for having me.

Justin: Alright, man, take care.

Colin: Thanks, I appreciate it.

Justin: Hey, you like what you're hearing so far, this podcast is just one of the many ways we're supporting your Family's Thrive journey, head over to thefamilythrive.com and sign up for our email list so you can learn all about The Daily Thrive Community app. we're launching soon.

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Justin: We met Dr. Colin Champ several years back when he was still writing a blog called The Caveman Doctor. I mean, who couldn't love a caveman doctor? Not only was he spreading an encouraging message about getting back to eating, moving, and sleeping the way most humans have for thousands of years, he’s also doing sophisticated science around diet and cancer. Our non-profit, MaxLove Project, eventually brought him out to Children's Hospital of Orange County to give a talk on diet and cancer, and our friendship has grown ever since.

Today, Dr. Champ is an Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology and a practicing Radiation Oncologist at Duke University. He's published over 60 research articles and continues to research the impact of nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle on cancer outcomes and long-term quality of life. And you can also find his work at colinchamp.com, where you can sign up for his weekly newsletter.

I'm super excited to share this episode with you. We get into diet, exercise, and other lifestyle factors for busy families; how Colin balances health, wellness, and the typical work-life stressors; and how Colin, as a physician, thinks about medical care for his own family. Without further ado, here's my Family Thrive conversation with Dr. Colin Champ.

I think we really met when MaxLove Project brought you out from Pittsburgh to Orange County to talk at the Children's Hospital of Orange County about diet and cancer. Do you remember that?

Colin: Oh yeah, I absolutely do. It's crazy because someone who helped organize that, who worked at the hospital, actually, I had treated one of her family members actually, a couple of years. I never mentioned it to you, and she was totally cool with it. I just never thought about it, but... Yeah, and it kind of looped everything. She came to see me and she was like, Oh, I know who you are. You know, my family member. It was pretty crazy.  

Justin: Oh dang! That is so cool. I love those connections. I love those connections. And then, so you came, you gave a great talk, just to give some extra context that I'm sure you won't be surprised at the talk, we would talk with nurses and dietitians and family members who came to the talk for years after, and the talk was referred to as, “Oh, that hot doctor.” That's what the talk became known as.

But it was really cool because it did serve the intended function that MaxLove Project had, which was bringing the conversation around diet into the cancer world. In pediatric cancer, it was just like, eat whatever you want, as much as you want, and really shove it in, 'cause all we care about is calories, and so we... alright here is a physician, an oncologist, and he's coming and he's saying, “Hey, let's start to think about diet in a more sophisticated way than this.”

Colin: Yeah, and it's funny 'cause that was what, 20...

Justin: I think it was 2015.  I think.

Colin: Okay. So that was six years ago, which seems like an eternity ago, but really is not very long ago. And it's funny 'cause I feel like, since then we have really picked up speed on that message for a portion of the medical field, and then for a portion of the medical field, it's really that same talk needs to...

Justin: Just every month or so, just need to have the same talk.

Colin: Yeah. It's interesting, as much as I dislike social media these days, you pin something about diet and cancer and half the people respond, “Yeah, obviously, this is like 10 years old,” and then half the people respond and say, “What are you talking about? That doesn't make any sense.”

Justin: Yeah, it's a bit disheartening, but I can say that at Children's Hospital of Orange County, that talk was part of a kind of an awakening amongst several oncologists there that like, “Hey, we can start to talk about diet in a different way and not just say, ‘eat whatever you want, and just shove as many calories in.’” So it was cool. And up until we left, CHOC was a place that was much more progressive around thinking around food, and I'm just really grateful that you were a part of that.

And so then just to catch us up, so we would see each other at conferences like the Metabolic Health Summit, and then we invited you guys out for our Farm to Fork for MaxLove Project, so we've stayed in touch over the years. And now with The Family Thrive, we're finding ways to loop you in because not only do you have this wealth of knowledge around diet and really... to use that term again, metabolic health, and so it's exercise, it's sleep, and what are these things we can do with our bodies to improve the way they function. So parents need to know all of that stuff, but also you're a dad, and that's kind of a recent thing in your life. So we're gonna get into the dad thing, and so before, before you became a dad though, you were a doctor. So when do you remember that first inkling of like, “Yes, this is what I wanna do, I wanna be a doctor?”

Colin: So yeah, the first inkling of that was, I was working the artificial heart project during the summer in college, 'cause I was in engineering, and it was the University of Pittsburgh. I had recently passed out when I saw blood.

Justin: No way. That's when you're like, “I need more of this. I need this in my life every day.”

Colin: I wanna torture myself because I hate the sight of blood. No, no, and I came to from that, and it was just dealing with... I like the science of it, but the dealing with people part was really, really amazing. So I always loved the science of medicine, and that's why I was in engineering, but then the art of medicine was really just as if not maybe a little more important to me, so that pushed me over to say, “Hey, I can still do, I can still do this technology stuff, but I could also deal a lot more people, so let's instead, become a doctor.”

Justin: And so you didn't just simply become a doctor. I think there are probably a lot of people who might start out in engineering or some science field and say, “Hey, I want to help other people with this,” and so they go and they become physicians. But you became a physician that really pushes against the orthodoxy. So you didn't just sign up and fade into the background, but rather you were really kind of pushing out the edges. So at what point did you have the realization of like, “I'm not gonna be a normal doctor.”

Colin: I would say, so the nutrition, the lack of actual, tangible knowledge in the nutrition world and really the lack of scientific support for the dietary recommendations that we were telling people during my residency, and really how much it conflicted with what I was taught growing up culturally, what really most cultures across the world have been passing along for thousands of years, that was when it really hit a high note for me. But I must say that even going into it, I trained in chemical engineering at MIT, all of our tests were open book, they were open notes, open whatever, all of our engineering tests, that is... And really, they were fostering and promoting and testing your ability to think.

So when I got to med school, I took anatomy first and I took embryology, that was the first course, and the embryology part is just pure rote memorization. I remember going into the first test saying, “They're not gonna ask us any of this stuff, that's ridiculous, like I don't need to know it, what week is this form.” And I went into the first test and failed it, so miserably.

Justin: You’re not supposed to think here Colin, you're just supposed to remember.

Colin: Yeah, I remember calling home and being like, I'm done, this is, I'll take one more test and I’m out of med school. This is ridiculous.

Justin: Oh wow.

Colin: Yeah, I guess that was kind of the first moment and then I kind of forgot about it. Went through med school, then in residency, realizing how bad that the diet and exercise kind of recommendations and science was, and they were regurgitating the same wrong message over and over. And I'm not being overly critical. This happens all the time. Science is that we're aiming towards that right, right answer, we just don't...know it, so most of what we're doing is wrong. It was just so incredibly wrong that I realized that we really needed to just start all over again. And so that motivated me to start questioning things, obviously in the background as a resident and then more in the open now that I’m a somewhat successful researcher.

Justin: Well, really out, out in the open, because your first book was provocatively titled “Misguided Medicine,” and so you just came right out in the open. There's a ton of stuff that we're getting wrong here. Do you wanna talk about how that book kind of formed in your mind?

Colin: Sure, so that was really, when I started my blog, which was Caveman Doctor, which I didn't put my name on it 'cause I was fearful of questioning anything out in the open. And it was in the early stages of blogging and internet, and that was when we didn't have all these plug-ins where they do it for you, that was not very attractive-looking.

Justin: The old school. And The New York Times hadn't got around to outing your name yet, so...

Colin: Yeah, exactly. So, I just was writing articles that were interesting to me. A lot of them cancer-based, most of them dietary-based, especially in the weight loss world, because at that point, really all we had were a bunch of randomized studies showing that low fat, calorie-counting type diets didn't work. And this was shown again and again and again in all these randomized studies, yet on the other hand, I am learning all of these cancer randomized studies with radiation, with chemotherapy, with hormonal therapy as the gold standard of medicine. And so on one hand, I'm taking the results of these to treat patients, how I do the dose of radiation I did, the type of radiation recommended, except with the diet world, we were just ignoring all these randomized studies that were coming out.

Justin: Oh, wow.

Colin: Yeah, so that was really where I started writing about that, and then I realized how much, I realized how much collateral damage there was from that message. And that could be salt, because if you put people on a high-carb diet oftentimes they retain salt because it increases levels of insulin. So then, then they tell people who got a low-salt diet, and then when you start digging and pulling at threads, in that strand of, I don't wanna say lies, but just regurgitated to a degree, nonsense, you realize how bad the salt recommendations are and how they're not supported by the data either. And then you just keep looking, and avoid the sun, don't ever go on the sun or lather on sunscreen.

Justin: Protein will kill your kidneys...

Colin: Yeah, exactly, and stuff that we just always kind of believed, and then there's really no data to support it. And not only is there no data to support it, but there's actually data to say the opposite.

So lack of data to support something is one thing, but when you have contradictory data saying that not only is it, not only should you not do this, it's actually bad to not do it. Then you have to really start to rethink things. And then you even look at the exercise recommendations, that was another one that killed me. It was a go jogging, run for hours and hours, you're gonna burn all these calories and somehow get skinny and then, I know a handful of 50-to-60-year-old, long-time marathon runners, elite runners who are having heart attacks. Friends parents are having heart attacks, and at that point, and maybe it was just coincidental, and my family and friends there was a large number, but it really struck a chord with me that the number of people I knew that were supposedly physically fit, having heart attacks, knees were destroyed. Then you start pulling on that thread and you realize that there's this whole slew of issues that were just perpetuated over the past 30 years or so.

So that is my long-winded way of saying, I started writing each of these down and then exploring them, writing about it on my blog, and basically I came up to the top 10 medical issues and somehow found its way to “Misguided Medicine” was what a group said I should do. I think I had tweeted it or put it on Facebook, I said “Which is better?”

Justin: Yes, you did the market research…nice.

Colin: And I wrote it, it was longer. There's two editions, the first was dryer, the second one's better. And then my friend referred to it as, he liked it because each chapter could be read, each time you sat down to go to the bathroom.

Justin: Nice, I am gonna follow this as a thread through, and then I wanna ask about the writing for you because you write a lot. I'm surprised. I am on your email list and it's like, “Oh my god, he writes,” and you're a really good writer and so, okay, screw it, I'm just gonna go down this path. When did you know that you love to write?

Colin: So great question. So I was always a terrible writer, and when I started writing on the blog, you could see how I never pushed myself in that regard. And so I realized that to convey my message, and I know there's everyone saying you should do video, you should be YouTube, you should do, I just have an issue with all of these things that I see is lacking permanence to a degree. I want a book to hand my daughter and say, “I wrote this 10 years ago. It's still pertinent. Or 20 years ago, I think you should read this.”

So I realized that I thought writing was still very important to me. And then I realized I needed to get better at writing, I needed to convey what I was thinking better, I needed to do it in a creative way, and I needed to take science that was dense and make it translatable for any person to pick up and read. And I realized the only way I was gonna get better at it was, I don't like speaking in front of a lot of people, I don't like a lot of attention. We can talk about that, it's a whole different thing.

But I figured I'm just gonna write and I'm gonna publish it all online. And I'm gonna let people email me and say, “Hey, you said this, or You did this, or this is good, or this is bad,” and a free audience free critique and so that's what I did and I got, I got hate mail, I got... And this is on a lot... All over the map. “I like that you're doing this.” “I don't like that you're doing that.” “Hey, this is great.” “Hey, this isn't…” And it just, it was the best way to polish my writing and it got me to where I am today. Yeah, I'm not saying I'm this great writer, but if you compare what I'm writing now versus then it's like night and day. It was trial by fire.

Justin: Okay, so that's really interesting. There's a part of you that doesn't want attention, that is not comfortable being out in the spotlight, but then there's another part of you that's like, I have something to say and I need to get it out. Do you experience that as a battle or...

Colin: It's tough in academia, so it's very easy to be... Ignore 2020 and 2021. Prior to 2020-2021, it's very easy to be discredited or you question something you're called a quack, or you don't wanna promote yourself, but then you wanna get across an idea in the way that social media, the metrics are set up that if you don't promote yourself, no one sees your idea. So it's certainly, it's a whole conflicting, even if our ideas are novel, we’re promoting a software, promoting something external to us, so it's not us. But it's weird that you see, even in the dietary world, ketogenic or diet, everyone wants to be like “I'm the king of…” I talked about keto—

Jeff Volek was running these studies like 20 years ago when I was like when I was still in high school. We all do interesting things, but odds are, someone has done it first or laid some groundwork. It’s like the intermittent fasting gurus online. So it ends up being them promoting themselves and not actually what they should be promoting is the science or what not. And I get it. It's hard to have one without the other.

So it is a battle, it remains a battle. But really, my strategy has been to push the science, push the studies, the research, etcetera. Add some humor, make it translatable, and I know that doesn't catch everyone, but I'm not out there for self-promotion or to be shirtless on Twitter or video, doing videos of me cooking meals 10 times, it's stuff takes tons of time. I have a family.

Justin: Right, but if we do wanna do a Shirtless Colin Cooking Live Event for The Family Thrive, we're not gonna rule that out, right Colin?

Colin: I’m open to all possibilities.

Justin: Alright, so what I'm hearing is that this may be an internal battle in you, like on the one hand, you're not seeking out fame and the limelight, but, but on the other, you have stuff that you wanna put out there. What is really the decisive factor here is a commitment to science, like you want the science to get out there.

Colin: Yeah, and it's interesting, a good friend and media coach that I've worked with who's just a dynamite person, we kinda had this back and forth battle where she's saying, “You need to do this, you do more promotion, you need…” And she was totally right, to get the message out there. She's like, this message is important, so you need to look past all that stuff. The most important thing is to get it out there.

Well, then you have guys like Kevin Kelly from Wired Magazine, who, he has this thing about a thousand true fans where you just need to be yourself and be real, and... So it's funny you mentioned my newsletter, 'cause that's kind of been my... I have all this different stuff, but that's my just... I sit down and write, it's me in my office by myself or with my wife, with my daughter, and it's just the real stuff, stuff that's bugging me, stuff, that's important, and I really have been focusing on that and the readers of that have been quadrupling every day.

Justin: It's a great newsletter. Yeah, I mean, you have the kind of literary part at the beginning and then at the end, you got these bullet points of the latest science, so you get a little of it all in there.

Colin: Yeah, and so I feel like it's vindication to a degree, 'cause people are... It's funny, my email wasn't forwarding, so actually, for six months, I thought no one was even reading it. And then I realized it was disconnected, and I had like, I forget how many, like 1,200 emails waiting for me, but people like, Yeah, this is really speaking to me. This is great, and I got a couple angry people, especially 'cause as you know, I don't like politics and I’m a bit vocal about just getting politics out of lives and people thought that was the worst thing in the world, but...

Yeah, I really feel like I am speaking to people. It’s slow, this is a marathon, I'm looking to do this the rest of my life, so if I don't become overly popular in the next six months, I don't care, it's taken me 10 years to get where I am now.

Justin: Yeah, yeah, it is a life project.

So this commitment to science... Let's go back real quick to the “Misguided Medicine” book. What has changed for the better since you first wrote that book? Do you see any positive change?

Colin: Yeah, that's great. You brought that up 'cause I don't think the positives of these things are brought up a lot on social media. Yeah, there's been a huge change. So exercise world is flipped upside down. More people are lifting weights. We have a study that's on hold right now because of COVID at Duke. We're taking our women with breast cancer up to age 70 and throwing, heavy for them, weights on them, having them squat, having them do all this stuff, and you never think about.

The salt data, there was just a huge study that came out that's been flipped on its head, but I think a lot of people are questioning the whole sun, with reason, don't go outside and get burned and yada yada yada, but they're realizing, “Oh, actually maybe the sun’s good for you. We should be telling people to get out.” And then obviously the low-fat world is that, that whole thing has been flipped, the ketogenic diets getting tested with cancer, it's getting... Virta Health has started, the VA, but they're putting our veterans on these diets that have been shown to be successful in randomized studies. So I think there's a lot of positive steps forward.

Justin: One of the funny things that just came to mind, how things have changed, I think when I first started to follow you, it was in the Caveman Doctor days, so it might have been 2012 or 2013.

And so thinking about all the way back then to the present day, back then it was low-carb diets could still kill you, keto would kill you, and now it seems like the conventional line is, “Well, keto is not a miracle,” or “Low carb is not a miracle.” So we've gone from, it's gonna kill you to like, Well, okay, it's not a miracle. That's progress where they're saying, “Oh yes, of course it helps, but it's just not a miracle.”

Colin: Yeah, there's the science world and then there's what people are actually doing, and I know these terms are all vague to a degree. I like the low-carb paleo-ish, but then when they were questioning people, “What diets can you actually stay on?” That's one of the most successful diets for people is when they go on this paleo-esque diet, whereas you know the 25% calorie-restricted, low-fat diet, the adherence is terrible.

So say what you want about, what's the best or worst diet, on the same note, a diet that no one can follow, it doesn't matter how great it is, we need to adherence And people are now experimenting on themselves and see what works for them, so I think it's great, it's very positive.

Justin: So there have been these positive changes in medicine, but I imagine there's still a few things that have not budged. So what do you see that just is not making the sort of progress that you wish?

Colin: The... Yeah, so the low-fat, I mean, if you see a dietitian at most medical centers, they're gonna tell you all the stuff that you would have gotten told in 1975. So it's still low fat. It still count calories. I still do all the stuff and everyone knows you can't do... So that's been taking a lot longer to budge, which is unfortunate 'cause there's a lot of awesome dietitians out there, but it makes a lot of physicians—just being very frank here—it makes a lot of physicians scared or very hesitant to send their patients to dieticians. Yeah.

Justin: Oh absolutely. With MaxLove Project, we worked with some amazing registered dietitians, clinical dieticians, but we know that quite frankly, they're kind of rare.

Colin: Yeah, yeah, so most physicians I know will call me up and say, “Where can I send patients? I can't send them to the dietitian.” It’s a shame, So that needs to change.

Justin: Before we move on, I do wanna note that the dietary approach that you mentioned, the paleo-esque low-carb, is exactly what we promote on The Family Thrive, and so when you get on it, you can go to the Nourish Masterclass and it's gonna have all the details about a paleo-esque low carb approach, it's not the extreme keto or these other more therapeutic clinical diets. But it's like an everyday approach. So before we move on, real quick, Colin, what does this sort of eating look like in your own life?

Colin: So basically, it's all food, all real food, we cook everything we eat in the Champ household. Eggs for breakfast with some kind of vegetable, if I do breakfast, coffee with heavy cream.

Justin: Okay, okay, so you don't always do a breakfast?

Colin: No, the weekends, I usually just... I mean, you could say intermittent fast. But I just skip breakfast. And then sometimes during the week, I will skip breakfast as well, if I forgot that I have a patient at 7:30 in the morning on Friday, and I'm sitting there in my bathroom robe at 7:10. So I shoot off to work. But yeah, I try to keep it not-so regimented and kind of all over the place just to keep my body guessing, I guess, and then lunch and dinner are all always just had a ton of vegetables, then some cooked in olive oil or raw or whatever, or cooked in butter. And then some sort of fat and protein, so whether it's anything from shrimp to lamb to steak to salmon and whatever, all over the map. And then the only other things are cheese, I love cheese, as well as my cousin's sopressata, which is Italian. It’s supposed to be terrible for you, but I question that. And then red wine.

Justin: Let's just take a step back here. You are now a dad. Did you always know that you wanted to be a dad? Or was there a moment where you're like, “This is it, this is gonna be awesome?”

Colin: I always did, and the surprise for me is actually how late in life it was. But when I was in my medical training, I basically said, I don't wanna have a kid till this is all done 'cause I would not be able to be giving what I should for this.

Justin: Yeah, so you knew it was just a matter of waiting until the time was right. And so what has surprised you most about fatherhood? So you always knew, but I'm sure there have been some surprises, well.

Colin: Well number one, how much my sleep would be interrupted—still at 15 months, still happening.

Justin: Yeah.

Colin: That was a big surprise. And really, we're at a very young age right now, but I will say, so it's very intense, but it has really made me rethink in a very positive way, kind of where I am, how I view things in life, and really just stopping to put... Making everything so goal-oriented, and everything has to be... And we're told everything has to be instrumental, right. You do this because of this, and it's pretty nice to, you know I'm stressed out about x, y or z, and my daughter's like, thinks playing peak-a-boo is the most amazing thing in the entire world, and I'm just like, “Man, alright, I need to step back and just play a little more…”

Justin: Oh, Colin, I love this word instrumental, it's one of my favorites because you're right, so much in our lives, it's simply instrumental. I'm going to this job to get the money, and I'm doing this, this thing in order to achieve this other thing, and unfortunately, we're taught to treat other people in instrumental ways, you know, I'm interacting with this clerk at the store in order to get stuff. It’s not an intrinsic relationship, and it even... 'cause as I said before, we hopped on this, I've been doing a lot of work around emotions and emotional processing. It's even the case that we fall in love and have the long-term partners for unconscious instrumental reasons. We're often trying to get something that we didn't get in childhood. You know, “Can you love me in the way that I never got?” But when you have a kid, there is something that just busts through all that and it's like this thing, this is the most intrinsic relationship in the world, it's like... I love this simply because it is.

Colin: Yeah, you can have goals set up, it’s Saturday,” I'm gonna do this, this, this,” and then she wakes up and says, “Nope, you’re not doing any of that, we’re just hanging out.”

Justin: Can you just give me some love and attention? And that's it. Then it's all good. My god, yes. Yes, I love that.

So that has been a surprise in fatherhood. Yeah, I wanna reflect on that. I think I might have had an inkling about that when my kids were young, but I didn't wait until my PhD. We scheduled Max, 'cause Audra had to have a C-section, so we scheduled Max to be born the day after my oral defense for my first PhD, and then we scheduled Maesie to be born about a month before I was gonna graduate, and I knew that I would have my dissertation done by then 'cause I had to have it done a month before so my advisors could look at it...

So I scheduled it, but I was just... I look back and so much is a blur, and so I really have an appreciation that you're present enough to really see how important that is. It strikes me that I might have missed out on a lot. But even at this age, Max is, Max just turned 14, Maesie will turn 11 soon. Learning about emotions and emotional health and the emotional connection, like my relationship with both of my kids is more amazing than it's ever been, and so I do have a feeling or a sense that even if you mess up, there's always time for repair, and there's always time for just giving that unvarnished love and attention.

Yeah. Alright, so you're a physician. How do you approach medical care for your wife and your daughter differently? Because you've seen how the sausage is made, and so you know all the stuff going on behind the scenes, somebody like me are just like, “Hey man, like whatever the doctor says, Go for it.” Yeah, so how do you approach this?

Colin: So there's two sides to it. I'd say the one is, it's been a definitely a very anxiety-provoking part of my life now that we're getting older and I have a child. It's easy, if you have a personal medical issue or, like a couple of years ago, my appendix exploded, so I had to get an emergency surgery for that, and you don't think that much of it. But when my wife—and we had a very hectic birth, a couple of trips in and out of the hospital—when it’s her, it kills me. And when my daughter has any issues, it kills me too...

It's very different, it's very hard to... I don't know, I don't know how to... It's like a knife twisting in your stomach. It's tough to deal with. I need to work with that.

Justin: Do you feel... Do you ever feel like “I'm a doctor. Let me take over, like can I just…”

Colin: I’m a Radiation Oncologist!

Justin: Alright, so you’re the other way.

Colin: Maybe that’s it. In medicine I’m helpless for a lot of other things. And my wife had extremely high blood pressure very acutely and had to have an emergency C section, and she had postpartum eclampsia, it was just like I was worthless besides just being worried, worried sick.

Justin: Well, so I'm assuming you experience that in a much more high-stress way, because you know what could happen. For somebody like me, it's like, “Oh, that sounds bad, but I don't really know what's gonna... I don't know all the things that could happen.” And you, you've seen it.

Colin: Yeah and that was enlightening. The other really enlightening thing was, so when your wife gets pregnant and you go to the OB, there's a million different OBs, you go to these groups and you meet all of them because you don't know who's actually gonna deliver. So it's really... Some of you love some of them you don't... So that's a little hairy 'cause you don't know who's gonna be there the day you deliver. The guy that delivered our daughter was amazing. So we got extremely lucky.

But it really ingrained, again, I brought this up before, but the art of medicine versus the science.  We met 12 different people and they all had such very different views on the same thing. So for instance, you know our diets, so I didn't want her to do the glucose tolerance test because we checked it at home, and I said, “If you give her 150 or 250 grams of...her blood glucose is gonna go through the roof, you're gonna tag her, you're gonna say she's done.”

So the one doc fought with us, the one doc was just like, “You guys are difficult, that I know people like you,” and that was very frustrating. Whereas another doc who was great said, “I totally get it, you're checking blood glucose at home, can you just do five days in a row, can you check your blood glucose and then show me those results?” And we did, and they are all perfect. And she said, “We're good now.” And that was amazing. And.... But she also was...lived a very active lifestyle. I think she was like, “Hey, these are fit people.” This is great. Whereas the other doc was like, I’m the doc.

Justin: Checkin’ off the boxes. Yeah, “Can you just let me check off this box, dude?”

Colin: That was very interesting and it just shows you there's... Especially look around all this, there's so much like science talk, and the problem is in medicine, there's so much that goes into how you view the science. So… I’m not saying...

Justin: Interpretation.  

Colin: Yeah, yeah, exactly. We got so many different opinions from people that you have to remember that we're only humans analyzing these results or this data, and depending on your background, how you were raised, your culture, or all these different things, you're gonna view that data very differently. And so you kind of experience that firsthand when you go into see the doctor every couple of weeks and you get a total different response on telling them the exact same thing.

Justin: Oh man. Yes, yes. This all, this all feels so familiar. We're lucky now with Max has been in relatively good health, except his tumor recurred, but we've been on a MEK inhibitor and it's been super just smooth and chill, and so we haven't really had a lot of these experiences lately, but I know that, yeah, we're... It's like this is the third different person that I told this story to, and I'm getting three different reactions here. I can imagine...

So you mentioned that your wife has the same sort of lifestyle approach that you do, and so I imagine your daughter doesn't have a choice, and so she's in this with you guys, so what does that look like? How does your whole... So you've talked about the diet. How do you approach nutrition for your daughter? And then what does exercise and what are some of the other lifestyle things that you do that might be a little weird to other people?

Colin: So with our daughter, she eats everything we eat... So, well, she eats a lot more avocados, 'cause she just loves avocados, and some of the food we give her ends up on the floor. Besides those shortcomings, yeah, we’ve fed her duck, buffalo, calamari... We don't give her any sweets, we ah, she ate a piece of 87% dark chocolate only 'cause she grabbed it out of my wife's hands and just downed it in front of us. So she eats it all and we’re lucky she loves it. I'm hoping that will continue. My wife had pulled pork, my wife made pulled pork last night and she loved it.

She eats spicy food. If we give her fruit, it's usually berries, we'll give her some bananas and things, which I don't eat a lot of bananas, I don't eat a lot of tropical fruits, or we'll throw in some tropical for her, that would maybe be the one difference. And then obviously, we don't give her wine or coffee.

Justin: No wine or coffee yet. Alright, wait until she's at least three or four.

I imagine you don't have to worry about exercise for her because she just moves. I'm sure she's in a perpetual state of motion. What does it look like for you guys though... How do you approach your own physical activity?

Colin: So right before COVID, about two months left to go, so we worked out at Duke, the gym at Duke, the undergrad gym. It was great. I felt like I was 20 years younger, like I was back in college.

Justin: Playin’ hoops with the kids.

Colin: I’m the creepy old guy that’s there. We worked out there, it was actually awesome 'cause Julie was very far along, very obviously pregnant. She stopped squatting and we do heavy compound movements and so she didn't do everything. We were smart about it, but she would go into the gym and be deadlifting with this very obvious baby in her stomach.

Justin: Oh my god.

Colin: It was cool because I noticed some of the older people in the gym, some of the older faculty were looking at her and they would shake their head like, if she's doing this, I should be doing... She has a baby in there...

Justin: Yeah, get to it.

Colin: I remember the one guy that works the gym, super cool guy was... He didn't realize she was pregnant, 'cause we would roll in with coats on or at ever, and then the one day he was like, “You’ve been pregnant all this time?”

It was cool, but we bought a bunch of weights for the home garage knowing that once the baby came, I wasn't going to the gym. She couldn't do a lot of the stuff in the gym, she had a C-section, we didn’t know at the time. So we got a bunch of patted jump blocks, we got trap bar deadlift, we got a bar, we got a bunch of bumper plates, kettlebells, and filled our garage up. We're lucky we did, because then COVID hit.

Justin: Oh man.

Colin: We couldn't even...

Justin: Yeah, there was a shortage of weight lifting equipment, right?

Colin: Yeah, it was nuts 'cause we actually tried to get a little more and there was a huge waitlist. So that was great, and actually, we liked it. I play old-school music in the garage, I blast it. With our daughter, we don't blast it when she's in there, but we would put her in there with us.

She's in her bouncy chair, now she stands at the top of the steps watching me work out. We had this little jail thing we put her in, so she won't fall down the steps. She like, watches and she claps and she jumps up and down. And when I throw the weight, she thinks it's the funniest thing in the world. So she watches everything we do, she eats well, we're giving her her life, life lessons at a very young age, and my wife does all the same stuff.

Justin: So in our Embody Masterclass on The Daily Thrive, we talk about the importance of having your kids watch you work out. So... What do you think about that?

Colin: Yeah, it's 100%. When I think back, I grew up in the ‘80s, so there wasn't—gyms weren't that big back then and exercise was more jogging. But my family was extremely active, and I remember my dad played in all these softball leagues, he would go play basketball, and I just remember thinking he had the largest biceps in the world. And to this day, I still think he had these massive, massive biceps.

Justin: Like Popeye. Or no, Popeye had the forearms, but...

Colin: Yeah, and I remember thinking like, that's just normal. Everyone's that active and everyone works out, and then I remember basketball was big. I played in college, and I thought I was pretty good in high school. My dad would still always crush me, he’d block me out, he was real physical.

Justin: He’s got the old man's strength.

Colin: Exactly, and it really left an impression on me, and my older brother who’s three years older than me, was always in the lifting working out, so he was someone I really watched. He introduced me to... It's funny, I just mentioned to him, there's a good Brad Schoenfeld textbook on hypertrophy that I just read, and I was saying how, “Man, we were really... We knew this stuff decades ago.” And he's like, “Well, yeah, we read the right people,” and he introduced me to the right people, so... Yeah, that wasn't as big of a head start, he’s three years ahead of me, but he's a big reason why I was physically active from a young age, so now we're adding 10 year... A 10-year start on that, so hopefully, I hope it pays dividends.

Justin: Alright, so you guys got to diet, you got the exercise, lockdown, what are some of the other lifestyle things?

Colin: Sleep. I do, I sleep eight hours a night. No matter what. And then in the winter, I actually, I'll do nine hours of sleep. And granted my daughter will certainly wake us, like last night, she woke us up, but I think people underestimate the importance of sleep. I can't work out like I am if I can’t sleep, I can't work as productive as I can if I don't sleep.

Justin: So what are some sleep-related behaviors that you do to make sure that you're gonna be able to sleep as well as you do?

Colin: I don't watch any... I mean, I don't watch much TV anyway, but I don't watch anything at night that's gonna keep me up. The last time I watched anything at night, and it was the Super Bowl, and I could not sleep...

Justin: No way, you were just so pumped up like the old man, Brady.

Colin: I used to, I used to legit not be able to watch Steeler games 'cause if I got ticked off, which I often did, I couldn’t sleep. So I try to read at night, I read a lot of non-fiction, which gets hard at night, 'cause I fall asleep, so I try to find better fiction books, [“Beneath a Scarlet Sky”] I read recently, that's actually non-fiction, but it's a pretty good read.

So I try to read books at night and I try to not... Our lights in our house are all dim, they're all like Edison bulbs, they're not maybe the most energy-efficient, but they're all very dim, and then we have LEDs upstairs that are, they can go any color. So I make them red at night, so there's no blue light, there's nothing...

Justin: So for listeners who don't understand that, so the red light, you mentioned blue light, how does that help you sleep?

Colin: So blue light tells your brain that it's daytime and it cuts off melatonin production, which really makes sense, right when it got dark out for the last bajillion years, it would basically signal to our bodies that night was here, and so your body starts making melatonin and melatonin makes you tired. Only since electricity did we have actual blue lights shining in our faces keeping us up, we had fire and things like that, but again, these aren't blue lights, so devices will basically signal in your brain that you should be alert, you should be awake. So if I use devices, and I've gotten so, so used to it that I have, I have blue light filters on my computer and everything, but if I watch a lot of electronics at night, I just won’t sleep well... Well, anyway..

Justin: Even if it's like a Kindle book or something?

Colin: I don't read, I’m uhh, old school, I need the tangible book in my hands. I don’t know about Kindle though, that's a good question. But movies and videos and things don't often turn out well, yeah, and there's a physiological...

Justin: Did you see the study that came out a month or so ago about the moon cycles and sleep?

Colin: No.

Justin: Alright, so what they found, I will send it to you, I think it was like a nature study, what they found is across cultures, it doesn't matter if they're semi-hunter gatherer out in the Amazon or if they're in Tokyo or whatever, that we humans get less sleep at night when the sun is around its full moon than other times in the month, and it doesn't matter if we're being flooded with city lights or in the jungle, that we have just evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to have this cycle of sleep that we get slightly less sleep when the sun is around its full moon.

Colin: Ah, that’s interesting... Yeah. I’ll have to check it out.

Justin: Alright, so sleep, diet, exercise, anything else? Are those like the big three?

Colin: Those are the big main ones, and then you said about the weird stuff, we're... Our mattress is latex, we don't have like... We try to avoid plastic.

Justin: So kind of a non-toxic approach to how...

Colin: Exactly, everything, like our sheets are like all cotton, we redid this old house in Pittsburgh, we brought a pretty cool 100-year-old house to its glory and we used like, water paint, everything was non-toxic. All the paint, it was like non-VOC. We had a whole list when we put it for sale, like the wiring, the... We avoided caulking and all that, I don't think anyone else cared.

Justin: Like look at this masterpiece we put together. What is Zillow saying? I don't care.

Colin: So we're pretty big about that and then... Yeah, it's just funny 'cause people call this stuff like biohacking and I'm... A lot of things, it's just like... It's actually opposite of that... It's like doing what my 96-year-old grandfather did.

Justin: Right, yeah. One of the simplest ways, when I got into this stuff and I started to follow you and a bunch of other people around 2013-ish. When I eventually... When we started to develop programs for the MaxLove Project and we were thinking, “How can we make this information as easy as possible?” Just saying look at what your great-grandparents did,  look at the whole thing when they went to bed, how they slept, how they move, how they ate and just do that, because that's like hundreds of thousands of years of information there.

Colin: All the stuff that we've had, it's so valuable that we've had thousands of years of trial and error. We can't... We can only do the studies we can do now, but a lot of this stuff has been through literal millions of people, thousands and thousands of years, so there's a lot of answers in that data.

Justin: Okay, my next thing for you to geek out on then with this ancestral approach to health is male tears, male crying. 'Cause I just read this article the other day on the lost art of the manly cry, and it's all because I'm like going way deep into emotions. And apparently, for the vast majority of cultures around the world—for as far back and recorded history as we can go—male crying was something done openly, done for a wide range of things. And it was just a part of life.

And then, according to this article, at the beginning of the Industrial Age, urbanization, as people went from their small little villages into these big cities and we basically live with strangers, and instead of working in the same thing that your father and your grandfather did, you're now going to a factory or the office, that male emotions, or really all emotions, just had to be clamped down because it wasn't good for the factory, it wasn't good for office culture, and then also you're not as free. You don't feel as free to share your emotions when you're living amongst a bunch of strangers, and so I was really… I was thinking like, “Okay, this is, this is the next part of the ancestral health movement is crying.”

Colin: I mean, it's totally reasonable as a man to cry—like I cried when the Steelers lost the Superbowl. When my dog dies, it's gonna be a sad day. No, you bring up a good point. I think... I've been reading a lot on corporate culture, and I think there is this like... I actually was just talking to my buddy about this, there is this like, you can't show any emotion, you can't joke, you can't...you just have to be this amorphous blob of nothing and then you get home and you're like, “Oh my god, I need to…” It's a bizarre... Yeah, it's a bizarre thing to try to block just normal human highs and lows of interactions.

Justin: Yeah, yeah, so... Alright, I am gonna be awaiting a big Colin Champ study on tears in a few years. Alright, so we're coming up against time, so I wanna just really briefly talk about, first of all, has anything had to dramatically change? Any self-care routines dramatically changed since you've become a father, and if so, how have you made it work?

Colin: Yeah, the sleeping has been the big one, and we just really... I make sure I get that sleep, and if she keeps us up for an hour, I'm sleeping in or going to bed earlier the next night, and that's really just been... In the beginning, it was so...she was up so much, it was just killing us, so that's been a huge change, and then the instrumental thing has really just—I'm really trying to not, especially on my... Once the work day is over on the weekend hits... I'm just trying to not have every second of the day accounted for and have it with a goal-oriented activity, which really has defined my last many years of my life.

I think it's gonna be very positive, I just... I don't know, I try to think back on my childhood and the things that made me happiest. The goals are part of it, but that's not all the things I think back on, and I'm 40 now, I'm not gonna look back when I'm 60 be like, “Oh, the best part of being 40 was when I did this at work, or published that review article.”

Justin: Oh my god. Yes. You're speaking poetry to me. Alright, so the final regular question, before we get into the three questions we're asking every podcast guest. First Colin, what is at the edge, what is what is really new and challenging in your own personal growth and development, like what's the thing that you're really trying to work on right now?

Colin: Yeah. I don't wanna keep talking about the same thing too much, but it's really being okay with not having everything measured, or not measuring myself with these outcomes. Just enjoying life and it's everything... And this isn't... My field is by no means special, this is everywhere now. It's pervasive, but for me, it was study get a grade, study get a grade, study get a grade. Okay. College degree. Studying grades. Studying grades, okay. Got my MD then residency. Then it's published papers, how many papers could be published? I’m almost 60 now, so if I keep going, actually can get to 100 and then it just... It never ends, and it's like the treadmill of consumption, but the treadmill of goal... I don't know.

See, so it's easier to do it and be like, “No, this is healthy. This isn't actually pathologic, it's healthy because it's my career.” So it's balancing and... And I work for a nice place, so I've worked for stressful places in the past, so it's not them even, it's not like they're driving me. So it's making my boss happy, obviously taking care of my patients to the fullest, that goes without saying. But taking care of my family to the fullest, and me as well, and that's why I sleep is support at, because I know that if I'm not healthy, my family can't be healthy, my job can't be healthy, so it's just categorizing all those things in my head and figuring out a strategy where I can make everyone happy enough, but still be whole inside.

Justin: Awesome, well, we're excited to follow you on that journey. Alright, so let's get into the last three questions we ask everyone, these are like kind of quick fires, so the first one is, if you could put a big post-it note on every parent's fridge tomorrow morning, what would that post-it note say?

Colin: It’d say fast and slow.

Justin: Fast and Slow. Okay, well, so I'm gonna need a second post to note just to describe what that means just...What does that mean?

Colin: Every day, tt's comprised of fast and slow moments, it's not... If it's all slow, nothing gets done, if it's all fast, you wanna pull your hair out. The day is: get up, relax the cup of coffee, finish your book, hang out with your daughter, get a workout in, boom—fast. Go to work, you grind it out for eight hours, it's just... The day is up and down, and to roll with the punches, and...

Justin: Roll with the punches.

Colin: It may take a while to figure that out, that life and your day is walking intermixed with lots of sprints.

Justin: And make room. Okay, so make room for the fast and the slow. Alright, nice. The last quote that changed the way you think or feel.

Colin: One I heard recently, I heard a Mark Twain one recently, but I can't remember it. I've heard one recently about smart people not necessarily being wise or something like that.

Justin: Ah... Oh, I resonate with that so deeply, spending as much of my life in academia as I have, and this move to The Family Thrive for me, I'm now starting to think of myself as a recovering academic, and so I just look back and so it's like, “Oh my god, I know so many smart people, I've come across so many really smart, smart people... How many of them were wise?” Oh boy, I'll tell you, I definitely could count them on one hand and I wouldn't use up all the fingers. Let's just say that.

Colin: Yeah, and I'm still in academia, and you see it all the time, and it's fine, everyone doesn't have to be, have to be wise, but then maybe we shouldn't only turn to those people to be wise if they're actually not.

Justin: Right, but oh my gosh, I just feel like it would be so much better if academia made more room or had some sort of incentive to be wise... I don't know, there's no incentive I feel.

Colin: The problem is, to piggyback on that, the problem is, there's a book on this and I can't think of the name, but it's like the introvert knew or something like that, but the most, the loudest people generally, they're the ones that climb to the top or they're the ones whose voices are heard at meetings. Whereas like the wise sagey, like dorky, whatever people are sitting in the back of the room brainstorming what the plan should be, and their plan is obviously mastermind, masterful, but then the loud, unwise, whatever.

Justin: And I'm sure they're also saying like, “I am not going to get in the middle of this viper nest here.”

Colin: Yeah, and so-and-so from the university of whatever, who's an academic must be blah, blah is heading this committee. And then oftentimes, you'll see that, like on the news or on... And then you'll see people that work with them being like, “Oh god, this is a disaster.”

Justin: Yeah, yeah, well, but it all goes back to incentives, and so the incentives are publishing and grants and grant money, and so neither of those require wisdom, they require strategic thinking, they require being smart, they require a bunch of things, but none of them really require wisdom. I mean, of course there are why people who do that stuff, it's just not a requirement. And it's not part of the incentives. Yeah. Alright, so the last question we wanna ask all of our guests, because as you know, especially when you have young kids, you can have a rough day and let out a sigh that sounds something like this, “Kids…” And so we all know that it can be stressful and exhausting, but we wanna end by celebrating kids, so Colin, what is your favorite thing about kids?

Colin: They remind you nonstop to keep playing.

Justin: Mmm. Play, yeah.

Colin: Yeah, the longest day, Friday, I was stuck in an hour of traffic, it was like 7 o'clock at night, I got home, and I jumped through the door, my daughter's playing peekaboo. She's in the peekaboo phase. It's just like, alright, I can’t complain.

Justin: Love it. Colin, thank you so much for this interview. I think we got a lot out of it. We definitely wanna have you back.

Colin: I’d love to. Thanks for having me.

Justin: Alright, man, take care.

Colin: Thanks, I appreciate it.

Justin: Hey, you like what you're hearing so far, this podcast is just one of the many ways we're supporting your Family's Thrive journey, head over to thefamilythrive.com and sign up for our email list so you can learn all about The Daily Thrive Community app. we're launching soon.

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Justin: We met Dr. Colin Champ several years back when he was still writing a blog called The Caveman Doctor. I mean, who couldn't love a caveman doctor? Not only was he spreading an encouraging message about getting back to eating, moving, and sleeping the way most humans have for thousands of years, he’s also doing sophisticated science around diet and cancer. Our non-profit, MaxLove Project, eventually brought him out to Children's Hospital of Orange County to give a talk on diet and cancer, and our friendship has grown ever since.

Today, Dr. Champ is an Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology and a practicing Radiation Oncologist at Duke University. He's published over 60 research articles and continues to research the impact of nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle on cancer outcomes and long-term quality of life. And you can also find his work at colinchamp.com, where you can sign up for his weekly newsletter.

I'm super excited to share this episode with you. We get into diet, exercise, and other lifestyle factors for busy families; how Colin balances health, wellness, and the typical work-life stressors; and how Colin, as a physician, thinks about medical care for his own family. Without further ado, here's my Family Thrive conversation with Dr. Colin Champ.

I think we really met when MaxLove Project brought you out from Pittsburgh to Orange County to talk at the Children's Hospital of Orange County about diet and cancer. Do you remember that?

Colin: Oh yeah, I absolutely do. It's crazy because someone who helped organize that, who worked at the hospital, actually, I had treated one of her family members actually, a couple of years. I never mentioned it to you, and she was totally cool with it. I just never thought about it, but... Yeah, and it kind of looped everything. She came to see me and she was like, Oh, I know who you are. You know, my family member. It was pretty crazy.  

Justin: Oh dang! That is so cool. I love those connections. I love those connections. And then, so you came, you gave a great talk, just to give some extra context that I'm sure you won't be surprised at the talk, we would talk with nurses and dietitians and family members who came to the talk for years after, and the talk was referred to as, “Oh, that hot doctor.” That's what the talk became known as.

But it was really cool because it did serve the intended function that MaxLove Project had, which was bringing the conversation around diet into the cancer world. In pediatric cancer, it was just like, eat whatever you want, as much as you want, and really shove it in, 'cause all we care about is calories, and so we... alright here is a physician, an oncologist, and he's coming and he's saying, “Hey, let's start to think about diet in a more sophisticated way than this.”

Colin: Yeah, and it's funny 'cause that was what, 20...

Justin: I think it was 2015.  I think.

Colin: Okay. So that was six years ago, which seems like an eternity ago, but really is not very long ago. And it's funny 'cause I feel like, since then we have really picked up speed on that message for a portion of the medical field, and then for a portion of the medical field, it's really that same talk needs to...

Justin: Just every month or so, just need to have the same talk.

Colin: Yeah. It's interesting, as much as I dislike social media these days, you pin something about diet and cancer and half the people respond, “Yeah, obviously, this is like 10 years old,” and then half the people respond and say, “What are you talking about? That doesn't make any sense.”

Justin: Yeah, it's a bit disheartening, but I can say that at Children's Hospital of Orange County, that talk was part of a kind of an awakening amongst several oncologists there that like, “Hey, we can start to talk about diet in a different way and not just say, ‘eat whatever you want, and just shove as many calories in.’” So it was cool. And up until we left, CHOC was a place that was much more progressive around thinking around food, and I'm just really grateful that you were a part of that.

And so then just to catch us up, so we would see each other at conferences like the Metabolic Health Summit, and then we invited you guys out for our Farm to Fork for MaxLove Project, so we've stayed in touch over the years. And now with The Family Thrive, we're finding ways to loop you in because not only do you have this wealth of knowledge around diet and really... to use that term again, metabolic health, and so it's exercise, it's sleep, and what are these things we can do with our bodies to improve the way they function. So parents need to know all of that stuff, but also you're a dad, and that's kind of a recent thing in your life. So we're gonna get into the dad thing, and so before, before you became a dad though, you were a doctor. So when do you remember that first inkling of like, “Yes, this is what I wanna do, I wanna be a doctor?”

Colin: So yeah, the first inkling of that was, I was working the artificial heart project during the summer in college, 'cause I was in engineering, and it was the University of Pittsburgh. I had recently passed out when I saw blood.

Justin: No way. That's when you're like, “I need more of this. I need this in my life every day.”

Colin: I wanna torture myself because I hate the sight of blood. No, no, and I came to from that, and it was just dealing with... I like the science of it, but the dealing with people part was really, really amazing. So I always loved the science of medicine, and that's why I was in engineering, but then the art of medicine was really just as if not maybe a little more important to me, so that pushed me over to say, “Hey, I can still do, I can still do this technology stuff, but I could also deal a lot more people, so let's instead, become a doctor.”

Justin: And so you didn't just simply become a doctor. I think there are probably a lot of people who might start out in engineering or some science field and say, “Hey, I want to help other people with this,” and so they go and they become physicians. But you became a physician that really pushes against the orthodoxy. So you didn't just sign up and fade into the background, but rather you were really kind of pushing out the edges. So at what point did you have the realization of like, “I'm not gonna be a normal doctor.”

Colin: I would say, so the nutrition, the lack of actual, tangible knowledge in the nutrition world and really the lack of scientific support for the dietary recommendations that we were telling people during my residency, and really how much it conflicted with what I was taught growing up culturally, what really most cultures across the world have been passing along for thousands of years, that was when it really hit a high note for me. But I must say that even going into it, I trained in chemical engineering at MIT, all of our tests were open book, they were open notes, open whatever, all of our engineering tests, that is... And really, they were fostering and promoting and testing your ability to think.

So when I got to med school, I took anatomy first and I took embryology, that was the first course, and the embryology part is just pure rote memorization. I remember going into the first test saying, “They're not gonna ask us any of this stuff, that's ridiculous, like I don't need to know it, what week is this form.” And I went into the first test and failed it, so miserably.

Justin: You’re not supposed to think here Colin, you're just supposed to remember.

Colin: Yeah, I remember calling home and being like, I'm done, this is, I'll take one more test and I’m out of med school. This is ridiculous.

Justin: Oh wow.

Colin: Yeah, I guess that was kind of the first moment and then I kind of forgot about it. Went through med school, then in residency, realizing how bad that the diet and exercise kind of recommendations and science was, and they were regurgitating the same wrong message over and over. And I'm not being overly critical. This happens all the time. Science is that we're aiming towards that right, right answer, we just don't...know it, so most of what we're doing is wrong. It was just so incredibly wrong that I realized that we really needed to just start all over again. And so that motivated me to start questioning things, obviously in the background as a resident and then more in the open now that I’m a somewhat successful researcher.

Justin: Well, really out, out in the open, because your first book was provocatively titled “Misguided Medicine,” and so you just came right out in the open. There's a ton of stuff that we're getting wrong here. Do you wanna talk about how that book kind of formed in your mind?

Colin: Sure, so that was really, when I started my blog, which was Caveman Doctor, which I didn't put my name on it 'cause I was fearful of questioning anything out in the open. And it was in the early stages of blogging and internet, and that was when we didn't have all these plug-ins where they do it for you, that was not very attractive-looking.

Justin: The old school. And The New York Times hadn't got around to outing your name yet, so...

Colin: Yeah, exactly. So, I just was writing articles that were interesting to me. A lot of them cancer-based, most of them dietary-based, especially in the weight loss world, because at that point, really all we had were a bunch of randomized studies showing that low fat, calorie-counting type diets didn't work. And this was shown again and again and again in all these randomized studies, yet on the other hand, I am learning all of these cancer randomized studies with radiation, with chemotherapy, with hormonal therapy as the gold standard of medicine. And so on one hand, I'm taking the results of these to treat patients, how I do the dose of radiation I did, the type of radiation recommended, except with the diet world, we were just ignoring all these randomized studies that were coming out.

Justin: Oh, wow.

Colin: Yeah, so that was really where I started writing about that, and then I realized how much, I realized how much collateral damage there was from that message. And that could be salt, because if you put people on a high-carb diet oftentimes they retain salt because it increases levels of insulin. So then, then they tell people who got a low-salt diet, and then when you start digging and pulling at threads, in that strand of, I don't wanna say lies, but just regurgitated to a degree, nonsense, you realize how bad the salt recommendations are and how they're not supported by the data either. And then you just keep looking, and avoid the sun, don't ever go on the sun or lather on sunscreen.

Justin: Protein will kill your kidneys...

Colin: Yeah, exactly, and stuff that we just always kind of believed, and then there's really no data to support it. And not only is there no data to support it, but there's actually data to say the opposite.

So lack of data to support something is one thing, but when you have contradictory data saying that not only is it, not only should you not do this, it's actually bad to not do it. Then you have to really start to rethink things. And then you even look at the exercise recommendations, that was another one that killed me. It was a go jogging, run for hours and hours, you're gonna burn all these calories and somehow get skinny and then, I know a handful of 50-to-60-year-old, long-time marathon runners, elite runners who are having heart attacks. Friends parents are having heart attacks, and at that point, and maybe it was just coincidental, and my family and friends there was a large number, but it really struck a chord with me that the number of people I knew that were supposedly physically fit, having heart attacks, knees were destroyed. Then you start pulling on that thread and you realize that there's this whole slew of issues that were just perpetuated over the past 30 years or so.

So that is my long-winded way of saying, I started writing each of these down and then exploring them, writing about it on my blog, and basically I came up to the top 10 medical issues and somehow found its way to “Misguided Medicine” was what a group said I should do. I think I had tweeted it or put it on Facebook, I said “Which is better?”

Justin: Yes, you did the market research…nice.

Colin: And I wrote it, it was longer. There's two editions, the first was dryer, the second one's better. And then my friend referred to it as, he liked it because each chapter could be read, each time you sat down to go to the bathroom.

Justin: Nice, I am gonna follow this as a thread through, and then I wanna ask about the writing for you because you write a lot. I'm surprised. I am on your email list and it's like, “Oh my god, he writes,” and you're a really good writer and so, okay, screw it, I'm just gonna go down this path. When did you know that you love to write?

Colin: So great question. So I was always a terrible writer, and when I started writing on the blog, you could see how I never pushed myself in that regard. And so I realized that to convey my message, and I know there's everyone saying you should do video, you should be YouTube, you should do, I just have an issue with all of these things that I see is lacking permanence to a degree. I want a book to hand my daughter and say, “I wrote this 10 years ago. It's still pertinent. Or 20 years ago, I think you should read this.”

So I realized that I thought writing was still very important to me. And then I realized I needed to get better at writing, I needed to convey what I was thinking better, I needed to do it in a creative way, and I needed to take science that was dense and make it translatable for any person to pick up and read. And I realized the only way I was gonna get better at it was, I don't like speaking in front of a lot of people, I don't like a lot of attention. We can talk about that, it's a whole different thing.

But I figured I'm just gonna write and I'm gonna publish it all online. And I'm gonna let people email me and say, “Hey, you said this, or You did this, or this is good, or this is bad,” and a free audience free critique and so that's what I did and I got, I got hate mail, I got... And this is on a lot... All over the map. “I like that you're doing this.” “I don't like that you're doing that.” “Hey, this is great.” “Hey, this isn't…” And it just, it was the best way to polish my writing and it got me to where I am today. Yeah, I'm not saying I'm this great writer, but if you compare what I'm writing now versus then it's like night and day. It was trial by fire.

Justin: Okay, so that's really interesting. There's a part of you that doesn't want attention, that is not comfortable being out in the spotlight, but then there's another part of you that's like, I have something to say and I need to get it out. Do you experience that as a battle or...

Colin: It's tough in academia, so it's very easy to be... Ignore 2020 and 2021. Prior to 2020-2021, it's very easy to be discredited or you question something you're called a quack, or you don't wanna promote yourself, but then you wanna get across an idea in the way that social media, the metrics are set up that if you don't promote yourself, no one sees your idea. So it's certainly, it's a whole conflicting, even if our ideas are novel, we’re promoting a software, promoting something external to us, so it's not us. But it's weird that you see, even in the dietary world, ketogenic or diet, everyone wants to be like “I'm the king of…” I talked about keto—

Jeff Volek was running these studies like 20 years ago when I was like when I was still in high school. We all do interesting things, but odds are, someone has done it first or laid some groundwork. It’s like the intermittent fasting gurus online. So it ends up being them promoting themselves and not actually what they should be promoting is the science or what not. And I get it. It's hard to have one without the other.

So it is a battle, it remains a battle. But really, my strategy has been to push the science, push the studies, the research, etcetera. Add some humor, make it translatable, and I know that doesn't catch everyone, but I'm not out there for self-promotion or to be shirtless on Twitter or video, doing videos of me cooking meals 10 times, it's stuff takes tons of time. I have a family.

Justin: Right, but if we do wanna do a Shirtless Colin Cooking Live Event for The Family Thrive, we're not gonna rule that out, right Colin?

Colin: I’m open to all possibilities.

Justin: Alright, so what I'm hearing is that this may be an internal battle in you, like on the one hand, you're not seeking out fame and the limelight, but, but on the other, you have stuff that you wanna put out there. What is really the decisive factor here is a commitment to science, like you want the science to get out there.

Colin: Yeah, and it's interesting, a good friend and media coach that I've worked with who's just a dynamite person, we kinda had this back and forth battle where she's saying, “You need to do this, you do more promotion, you need…” And she was totally right, to get the message out there. She's like, this message is important, so you need to look past all that stuff. The most important thing is to get it out there.

Well, then you have guys like Kevin Kelly from Wired Magazine, who, he has this thing about a thousand true fans where you just need to be yourself and be real, and... So it's funny you mentioned my newsletter, 'cause that's kind of been my... I have all this different stuff, but that's my just... I sit down and write, it's me in my office by myself or with my wife, with my daughter, and it's just the real stuff, stuff that's bugging me, stuff, that's important, and I really have been focusing on that and the readers of that have been quadrupling every day.

Justin: It's a great newsletter. Yeah, I mean, you have the kind of literary part at the beginning and then at the end, you got these bullet points of the latest science, so you get a little of it all in there.

Colin: Yeah, and so I feel like it's vindication to a degree, 'cause people are... It's funny, my email wasn't forwarding, so actually, for six months, I thought no one was even reading it. And then I realized it was disconnected, and I had like, I forget how many, like 1,200 emails waiting for me, but people like, Yeah, this is really speaking to me. This is great, and I got a couple angry people, especially 'cause as you know, I don't like politics and I’m a bit vocal about just getting politics out of lives and people thought that was the worst thing in the world, but...

Yeah, I really feel like I am speaking to people. It’s slow, this is a marathon, I'm looking to do this the rest of my life, so if I don't become overly popular in the next six months, I don't care, it's taken me 10 years to get where I am now.

Justin: Yeah, yeah, it is a life project.

So this commitment to science... Let's go back real quick to the “Misguided Medicine” book. What has changed for the better since you first wrote that book? Do you see any positive change?

Colin: Yeah, that's great. You brought that up 'cause I don't think the positives of these things are brought up a lot on social media. Yeah, there's been a huge change. So exercise world is flipped upside down. More people are lifting weights. We have a study that's on hold right now because of COVID at Duke. We're taking our women with breast cancer up to age 70 and throwing, heavy for them, weights on them, having them squat, having them do all this stuff, and you never think about.

The salt data, there was just a huge study that came out that's been flipped on its head, but I think a lot of people are questioning the whole sun, with reason, don't go outside and get burned and yada yada yada, but they're realizing, “Oh, actually maybe the sun’s good for you. We should be telling people to get out.” And then obviously the low-fat world is that, that whole thing has been flipped, the ketogenic diets getting tested with cancer, it's getting... Virta Health has started, the VA, but they're putting our veterans on these diets that have been shown to be successful in randomized studies. So I think there's a lot of positive steps forward.

Justin: One of the funny things that just came to mind, how things have changed, I think when I first started to follow you, it was in the Caveman Doctor days, so it might have been 2012 or 2013.

And so thinking about all the way back then to the present day, back then it was low-carb diets could still kill you, keto would kill you, and now it seems like the conventional line is, “Well, keto is not a miracle,” or “Low carb is not a miracle.” So we've gone from, it's gonna kill you to like, Well, okay, it's not a miracle. That's progress where they're saying, “Oh yes, of course it helps, but it's just not a miracle.”

Colin: Yeah, there's the science world and then there's what people are actually doing, and I know these terms are all vague to a degree. I like the low-carb paleo-ish, but then when they were questioning people, “What diets can you actually stay on?” That's one of the most successful diets for people is when they go on this paleo-esque diet, whereas you know the 25% calorie-restricted, low-fat diet, the adherence is terrible.

So say what you want about, what's the best or worst diet, on the same note, a diet that no one can follow, it doesn't matter how great it is, we need to adherence And people are now experimenting on themselves and see what works for them, so I think it's great, it's very positive.

Justin: So there have been these positive changes in medicine, but I imagine there's still a few things that have not budged. So what do you see that just is not making the sort of progress that you wish?

Colin: The... Yeah, so the low-fat, I mean, if you see a dietitian at most medical centers, they're gonna tell you all the stuff that you would have gotten told in 1975. So it's still low fat. It still count calories. I still do all the stuff and everyone knows you can't do... So that's been taking a lot longer to budge, which is unfortunate 'cause there's a lot of awesome dietitians out there, but it makes a lot of physicians—just being very frank here—it makes a lot of physicians scared or very hesitant to send their patients to dieticians. Yeah.

Justin: Oh absolutely. With MaxLove Project, we worked with some amazing registered dietitians, clinical dieticians, but we know that quite frankly, they're kind of rare.

Colin: Yeah, yeah, so most physicians I know will call me up and say, “Where can I send patients? I can't send them to the dietitian.” It’s a shame, So that needs to change.

Justin: Before we move on, I do wanna note that the dietary approach that you mentioned, the paleo-esque low-carb, is exactly what we promote on The Family Thrive, and so when you get on it, you can go to the Nourish Masterclass and it's gonna have all the details about a paleo-esque low carb approach, it's not the extreme keto or these other more therapeutic clinical diets. But it's like an everyday approach. So before we move on, real quick, Colin, what does this sort of eating look like in your own life?

Colin: So basically, it's all food, all real food, we cook everything we eat in the Champ household. Eggs for breakfast with some kind of vegetable, if I do breakfast, coffee with heavy cream.

Justin: Okay, okay, so you don't always do a breakfast?

Colin: No, the weekends, I usually just... I mean, you could say intermittent fast. But I just skip breakfast. And then sometimes during the week, I will skip breakfast as well, if I forgot that I have a patient at 7:30 in the morning on Friday, and I'm sitting there in my bathroom robe at 7:10. So I shoot off to work. But yeah, I try to keep it not-so regimented and kind of all over the place just to keep my body guessing, I guess, and then lunch and dinner are all always just had a ton of vegetables, then some cooked in olive oil or raw or whatever, or cooked in butter. And then some sort of fat and protein, so whether it's anything from shrimp to lamb to steak to salmon and whatever, all over the map. And then the only other things are cheese, I love cheese, as well as my cousin's sopressata, which is Italian. It’s supposed to be terrible for you, but I question that. And then red wine.

Justin: Let's just take a step back here. You are now a dad. Did you always know that you wanted to be a dad? Or was there a moment where you're like, “This is it, this is gonna be awesome?”

Colin: I always did, and the surprise for me is actually how late in life it was. But when I was in my medical training, I basically said, I don't wanna have a kid till this is all done 'cause I would not be able to be giving what I should for this.

Justin: Yeah, so you knew it was just a matter of waiting until the time was right. And so what has surprised you most about fatherhood? So you always knew, but I'm sure there have been some surprises, well.

Colin: Well number one, how much my sleep would be interrupted—still at 15 months, still happening.

Justin: Yeah.

Colin: That was a big surprise. And really, we're at a very young age right now, but I will say, so it's very intense, but it has really made me rethink in a very positive way, kind of where I am, how I view things in life, and really just stopping to put... Making everything so goal-oriented, and everything has to be... And we're told everything has to be instrumental, right. You do this because of this, and it's pretty nice to, you know I'm stressed out about x, y or z, and my daughter's like, thinks playing peak-a-boo is the most amazing thing in the entire world, and I'm just like, “Man, alright, I need to step back and just play a little more…”

Justin: Oh, Colin, I love this word instrumental, it's one of my favorites because you're right, so much in our lives, it's simply instrumental. I'm going to this job to get the money, and I'm doing this, this thing in order to achieve this other thing, and unfortunately, we're taught to treat other people in instrumental ways, you know, I'm interacting with this clerk at the store in order to get stuff. It’s not an intrinsic relationship, and it even... 'cause as I said before, we hopped on this, I've been doing a lot of work around emotions and emotional processing. It's even the case that we fall in love and have the long-term partners for unconscious instrumental reasons. We're often trying to get something that we didn't get in childhood. You know, “Can you love me in the way that I never got?” But when you have a kid, there is something that just busts through all that and it's like this thing, this is the most intrinsic relationship in the world, it's like... I love this simply because it is.

Colin: Yeah, you can have goals set up, it’s Saturday,” I'm gonna do this, this, this,” and then she wakes up and says, “Nope, you’re not doing any of that, we’re just hanging out.”

Justin: Can you just give me some love and attention? And that's it. Then it's all good. My god, yes. Yes, I love that.

So that has been a surprise in fatherhood. Yeah, I wanna reflect on that. I think I might have had an inkling about that when my kids were young, but I didn't wait until my PhD. We scheduled Max, 'cause Audra had to have a C-section, so we scheduled Max to be born the day after my oral defense for my first PhD, and then we scheduled Maesie to be born about a month before I was gonna graduate, and I knew that I would have my dissertation done by then 'cause I had to have it done a month before so my advisors could look at it...

So I scheduled it, but I was just... I look back and so much is a blur, and so I really have an appreciation that you're present enough to really see how important that is. It strikes me that I might have missed out on a lot. But even at this age, Max is, Max just turned 14, Maesie will turn 11 soon. Learning about emotions and emotional health and the emotional connection, like my relationship with both of my kids is more amazing than it's ever been, and so I do have a feeling or a sense that even if you mess up, there's always time for repair, and there's always time for just giving that unvarnished love and attention.

Yeah. Alright, so you're a physician. How do you approach medical care for your wife and your daughter differently? Because you've seen how the sausage is made, and so you know all the stuff going on behind the scenes, somebody like me are just like, “Hey man, like whatever the doctor says, Go for it.” Yeah, so how do you approach this?

Colin: So there's two sides to it. I'd say the one is, it's been a definitely a very anxiety-provoking part of my life now that we're getting older and I have a child. It's easy, if you have a personal medical issue or, like a couple of years ago, my appendix exploded, so I had to get an emergency surgery for that, and you don't think that much of it. But when my wife—and we had a very hectic birth, a couple of trips in and out of the hospital—when it’s her, it kills me. And when my daughter has any issues, it kills me too...

It's very different, it's very hard to... I don't know, I don't know how to... It's like a knife twisting in your stomach. It's tough to deal with. I need to work with that.

Justin: Do you feel... Do you ever feel like “I'm a doctor. Let me take over, like can I just…”

Colin: I’m a Radiation Oncologist!

Justin: Alright, so you’re the other way.

Colin: Maybe that’s it. In medicine I’m helpless for a lot of other things. And my wife had extremely high blood pressure very acutely and had to have an emergency C section, and she had postpartum eclampsia, it was just like I was worthless besides just being worried, worried sick.

Justin: Well, so I'm assuming you experience that in a much more high-stress way, because you know what could happen. For somebody like me, it's like, “Oh, that sounds bad, but I don't really know what's gonna... I don't know all the things that could happen.” And you, you've seen it.

Colin: Yeah and that was enlightening. The other really enlightening thing was, so when your wife gets pregnant and you go to the OB, there's a million different OBs, you go to these groups and you meet all of them because you don't know who's actually gonna deliver. So it's really... Some of you love some of them you don't... So that's a little hairy 'cause you don't know who's gonna be there the day you deliver. The guy that delivered our daughter was amazing. So we got extremely lucky.

But it really ingrained, again, I brought this up before, but the art of medicine versus the science.  We met 12 different people and they all had such very different views on the same thing. So for instance, you know our diets, so I didn't want her to do the glucose tolerance test because we checked it at home, and I said, “If you give her 150 or 250 grams of...her blood glucose is gonna go through the roof, you're gonna tag her, you're gonna say she's done.”

So the one doc fought with us, the one doc was just like, “You guys are difficult, that I know people like you,” and that was very frustrating. Whereas another doc who was great said, “I totally get it, you're checking blood glucose at home, can you just do five days in a row, can you check your blood glucose and then show me those results?” And we did, and they are all perfect. And she said, “We're good now.” And that was amazing. And.... But she also was...lived a very active lifestyle. I think she was like, “Hey, these are fit people.” This is great. Whereas the other doc was like, I’m the doc.

Justin: Checkin’ off the boxes. Yeah, “Can you just let me check off this box, dude?”

Colin: That was very interesting and it just shows you there's... Especially look around all this, there's so much like science talk, and the problem is in medicine, there's so much that goes into how you view the science. So… I’m not saying...

Justin: Interpretation.  

Colin: Yeah, yeah, exactly. We got so many different opinions from people that you have to remember that we're only humans analyzing these results or this data, and depending on your background, how you were raised, your culture, or all these different things, you're gonna view that data very differently. And so you kind of experience that firsthand when you go into see the doctor every couple of weeks and you get a total different response on telling them the exact same thing.

Justin: Oh man. Yes, yes. This all, this all feels so familiar. We're lucky now with Max has been in relatively good health, except his tumor recurred, but we've been on a MEK inhibitor and it's been super just smooth and chill, and so we haven't really had a lot of these experiences lately, but I know that, yeah, we're... It's like this is the third different person that I told this story to, and I'm getting three different reactions here. I can imagine...

So you mentioned that your wife has the same sort of lifestyle approach that you do, and so I imagine your daughter doesn't have a choice, and so she's in this with you guys, so what does that look like? How does your whole... So you've talked about the diet. How do you approach nutrition for your daughter? And then what does exercise and what are some of the other lifestyle things that you do that might be a little weird to other people?

Colin: So with our daughter, she eats everything we eat... So, well, she eats a lot more avocados, 'cause she just loves avocados, and some of the food we give her ends up on the floor. Besides those shortcomings, yeah, we’ve fed her duck, buffalo, calamari... We don't give her any sweets, we ah, she ate a piece of 87% dark chocolate only 'cause she grabbed it out of my wife's hands and just downed it in front of us. So she eats it all and we’re lucky she loves it. I'm hoping that will continue. My wife had pulled pork, my wife made pulled pork last night and she loved it.

She eats spicy food. If we give her fruit, it's usually berries, we'll give her some bananas and things, which I don't eat a lot of bananas, I don't eat a lot of tropical fruits, or we'll throw in some tropical for her, that would maybe be the one difference. And then obviously, we don't give her wine or coffee.

Justin: No wine or coffee yet. Alright, wait until she's at least three or four.

I imagine you don't have to worry about exercise for her because she just moves. I'm sure she's in a perpetual state of motion. What does it look like for you guys though... How do you approach your own physical activity?

Colin: So right before COVID, about two months left to go, so we worked out at Duke, the gym at Duke, the undergrad gym. It was great. I felt like I was 20 years younger, like I was back in college.

Justin: Playin’ hoops with the kids.

Colin: I’m the creepy old guy that’s there. We worked out there, it was actually awesome 'cause Julie was very far along, very obviously pregnant. She stopped squatting and we do heavy compound movements and so she didn't do everything. We were smart about it, but she would go into the gym and be deadlifting with this very obvious baby in her stomach.

Justin: Oh my god.

Colin: It was cool because I noticed some of the older people in the gym, some of the older faculty were looking at her and they would shake their head like, if she's doing this, I should be doing... She has a baby in there...

Justin: Yeah, get to it.

Colin: I remember the one guy that works the gym, super cool guy was... He didn't realize she was pregnant, 'cause we would roll in with coats on or at ever, and then the one day he was like, “You’ve been pregnant all this time?”

It was cool, but we bought a bunch of weights for the home garage knowing that once the baby came, I wasn't going to the gym. She couldn't do a lot of the stuff in the gym, she had a C-section, we didn’t know at the time. So we got a bunch of patted jump blocks, we got trap bar deadlift, we got a bar, we got a bunch of bumper plates, kettlebells, and filled our garage up. We're lucky we did, because then COVID hit.

Justin: Oh man.

Colin: We couldn't even...

Justin: Yeah, there was a shortage of weight lifting equipment, right?

Colin: Yeah, it was nuts 'cause we actually tried to get a little more and there was a huge waitlist. So that was great, and actually, we liked it. I play old-school music in the garage, I blast it. With our daughter, we don't blast it when she's in there, but we would put her in there with us.

She's in her bouncy chair, now she stands at the top of the steps watching me work out. We had this little jail thing we put her in, so she won't fall down the steps. She like, watches and she claps and she jumps up and down. And when I throw the weight, she thinks it's the funniest thing in the world. So she watches everything we do, she eats well, we're giving her her life, life lessons at a very young age, and my wife does all the same stuff.

Justin: So in our Embody Masterclass on The Daily Thrive, we talk about the importance of having your kids watch you work out. So... What do you think about that?

Colin: Yeah, it's 100%. When I think back, I grew up in the ‘80s, so there wasn't—gyms weren't that big back then and exercise was more jogging. But my family was extremely active, and I remember my dad played in all these softball leagues, he would go play basketball, and I just remember thinking he had the largest biceps in the world. And to this day, I still think he had these massive, massive biceps.

Justin: Like Popeye. Or no, Popeye had the forearms, but...

Colin: Yeah, and I remember thinking like, that's just normal. Everyone's that active and everyone works out, and then I remember basketball was big. I played in college, and I thought I was pretty good in high school. My dad would still always crush me, he’d block me out, he was real physical.

Justin: He’s got the old man's strength.

Colin: Exactly, and it really left an impression on me, and my older brother who’s three years older than me, was always in the lifting working out, so he was someone I really watched. He introduced me to... It's funny, I just mentioned to him, there's a good Brad Schoenfeld textbook on hypertrophy that I just read, and I was saying how, “Man, we were really... We knew this stuff decades ago.” And he's like, “Well, yeah, we read the right people,” and he introduced me to the right people, so... Yeah, that wasn't as big of a head start, he’s three years ahead of me, but he's a big reason why I was physically active from a young age, so now we're adding 10 year... A 10-year start on that, so hopefully, I hope it pays dividends.

Justin: Alright, so you guys got to diet, you got the exercise, lockdown, what are some of the other lifestyle things?

Colin: Sleep. I do, I sleep eight hours a night. No matter what. And then in the winter, I actually, I'll do nine hours of sleep. And granted my daughter will certainly wake us, like last night, she woke us up, but I think people underestimate the importance of sleep. I can't work out like I am if I can’t sleep, I can't work as productive as I can if I don't sleep.

Justin: So what are some sleep-related behaviors that you do to make sure that you're gonna be able to sleep as well as you do?

Colin: I don't watch any... I mean, I don't watch much TV anyway, but I don't watch anything at night that's gonna keep me up. The last time I watched anything at night, and it was the Super Bowl, and I could not sleep...

Justin: No way, you were just so pumped up like the old man, Brady.

Colin: I used to, I used to legit not be able to watch Steeler games 'cause if I got ticked off, which I often did, I couldn’t sleep. So I try to read at night, I read a lot of non-fiction, which gets hard at night, 'cause I fall asleep, so I try to find better fiction books, [“Beneath a Scarlet Sky”] I read recently, that's actually non-fiction, but it's a pretty good read.

So I try to read books at night and I try to not... Our lights in our house are all dim, they're all like Edison bulbs, they're not maybe the most energy-efficient, but they're all very dim, and then we have LEDs upstairs that are, they can go any color. So I make them red at night, so there's no blue light, there's nothing...

Justin: So for listeners who don't understand that, so the red light, you mentioned blue light, how does that help you sleep?

Colin: So blue light tells your brain that it's daytime and it cuts off melatonin production, which really makes sense, right when it got dark out for the last bajillion years, it would basically signal to our bodies that night was here, and so your body starts making melatonin and melatonin makes you tired. Only since electricity did we have actual blue lights shining in our faces keeping us up, we had fire and things like that, but again, these aren't blue lights, so devices will basically signal in your brain that you should be alert, you should be awake. So if I use devices, and I've gotten so, so used to it that I have, I have blue light filters on my computer and everything, but if I watch a lot of electronics at night, I just won’t sleep well... Well, anyway..

Justin: Even if it's like a Kindle book or something?

Colin: I don't read, I’m uhh, old school, I need the tangible book in my hands. I don’t know about Kindle though, that's a good question. But movies and videos and things don't often turn out well, yeah, and there's a physiological...

Justin: Did you see the study that came out a month or so ago about the moon cycles and sleep?

Colin: No.

Justin: Alright, so what they found, I will send it to you, I think it was like a nature study, what they found is across cultures, it doesn't matter if they're semi-hunter gatherer out in the Amazon or if they're in Tokyo or whatever, that we humans get less sleep at night when the sun is around its full moon than other times in the month, and it doesn't matter if we're being flooded with city lights or in the jungle, that we have just evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to have this cycle of sleep that we get slightly less sleep when the sun is around its full moon.

Colin: Ah, that’s interesting... Yeah. I’ll have to check it out.

Justin: Alright, so sleep, diet, exercise, anything else? Are those like the big three?

Colin: Those are the big main ones, and then you said about the weird stuff, we're... Our mattress is latex, we don't have like... We try to avoid plastic.

Justin: So kind of a non-toxic approach to how...

Colin: Exactly, everything, like our sheets are like all cotton, we redid this old house in Pittsburgh, we brought a pretty cool 100-year-old house to its glory and we used like, water paint, everything was non-toxic. All the paint, it was like non-VOC. We had a whole list when we put it for sale, like the wiring, the... We avoided caulking and all that, I don't think anyone else cared.

Justin: Like look at this masterpiece we put together. What is Zillow saying? I don't care.

Colin: So we're pretty big about that and then... Yeah, it's just funny 'cause people call this stuff like biohacking and I'm... A lot of things, it's just like... It's actually opposite of that... It's like doing what my 96-year-old grandfather did.

Justin: Right, yeah. One of the simplest ways, when I got into this stuff and I started to follow you and a bunch of other people around 2013-ish. When I eventually... When we started to develop programs for the MaxLove Project and we were thinking, “How can we make this information as easy as possible?” Just saying look at what your great-grandparents did,  look at the whole thing when they went to bed, how they slept, how they move, how they ate and just do that, because that's like hundreds of thousands of years of information there.

Colin: All the stuff that we've had, it's so valuable that we've had thousands of years of trial and error. We can't... We can only do the studies we can do now, but a lot of this stuff has been through literal millions of people, thousands and thousands of years, so there's a lot of answers in that data.

Justin: Okay, my next thing for you to geek out on then with this ancestral approach to health is male tears, male crying. 'Cause I just read this article the other day on the lost art of the manly cry, and it's all because I'm like going way deep into emotions. And apparently, for the vast majority of cultures around the world—for as far back and recorded history as we can go—male crying was something done openly, done for a wide range of things. And it was just a part of life.

And then, according to this article, at the beginning of the Industrial Age, urbanization, as people went from their small little villages into these big cities and we basically live with strangers, and instead of working in the same thing that your father and your grandfather did, you're now going to a factory or the office, that male emotions, or really all emotions, just had to be clamped down because it wasn't good for the factory, it wasn't good for office culture, and then also you're not as free. You don't feel as free to share your emotions when you're living amongst a bunch of strangers, and so I was really… I was thinking like, “Okay, this is, this is the next part of the ancestral health movement is crying.”

Colin: I mean, it's totally reasonable as a man to cry—like I cried when the Steelers lost the Superbowl. When my dog dies, it's gonna be a sad day. No, you bring up a good point. I think... I've been reading a lot on corporate culture, and I think there is this like... I actually was just talking to my buddy about this, there is this like, you can't show any emotion, you can't joke, you can't...you just have to be this amorphous blob of nothing and then you get home and you're like, “Oh my god, I need to…” It's a bizarre... Yeah, it's a bizarre thing to try to block just normal human highs and lows of interactions.

Justin: Yeah, yeah, so... Alright, I am gonna be awaiting a big Colin Champ study on tears in a few years. Alright, so we're coming up against time, so I wanna just really briefly talk about, first of all, has anything had to dramatically change? Any self-care routines dramatically changed since you've become a father, and if so, how have you made it work?

Colin: Yeah, the sleeping has been the big one, and we just really... I make sure I get that sleep, and if she keeps us up for an hour, I'm sleeping in or going to bed earlier the next night, and that's really just been... In the beginning, it was so...she was up so much, it was just killing us, so that's been a huge change, and then the instrumental thing has really just—I'm really trying to not, especially on my... Once the work day is over on the weekend hits... I'm just trying to not have every second of the day accounted for and have it with a goal-oriented activity, which really has defined my last many years of my life.

I think it's gonna be very positive, I just... I don't know, I try to think back on my childhood and the things that made me happiest. The goals are part of it, but that's not all the things I think back on, and I'm 40 now, I'm not gonna look back when I'm 60 be like, “Oh, the best part of being 40 was when I did this at work, or published that review article.”

Justin: Oh my god. Yes. You're speaking poetry to me. Alright, so the final regular question, before we get into the three questions we're asking every podcast guest. First Colin, what is at the edge, what is what is really new and challenging in your own personal growth and development, like what's the thing that you're really trying to work on right now?

Colin: Yeah. I don't wanna keep talking about the same thing too much, but it's really being okay with not having everything measured, or not measuring myself with these outcomes. Just enjoying life and it's everything... And this isn't... My field is by no means special, this is everywhere now. It's pervasive, but for me, it was study get a grade, study get a grade, study get a grade. Okay. College degree. Studying grades. Studying grades, okay. Got my MD then residency. Then it's published papers, how many papers could be published? I’m almost 60 now, so if I keep going, actually can get to 100 and then it just... It never ends, and it's like the treadmill of consumption, but the treadmill of goal... I don't know.

See, so it's easier to do it and be like, “No, this is healthy. This isn't actually pathologic, it's healthy because it's my career.” So it's balancing and... And I work for a nice place, so I've worked for stressful places in the past, so it's not them even, it's not like they're driving me. So it's making my boss happy, obviously taking care of my patients to the fullest, that goes without saying. But taking care of my family to the fullest, and me as well, and that's why I sleep is support at, because I know that if I'm not healthy, my family can't be healthy, my job can't be healthy, so it's just categorizing all those things in my head and figuring out a strategy where I can make everyone happy enough, but still be whole inside.

Justin: Awesome, well, we're excited to follow you on that journey. Alright, so let's get into the last three questions we ask everyone, these are like kind of quick fires, so the first one is, if you could put a big post-it note on every parent's fridge tomorrow morning, what would that post-it note say?

Colin: It’d say fast and slow.

Justin: Fast and Slow. Okay, well, so I'm gonna need a second post to note just to describe what that means just...What does that mean?

Colin: Every day, tt's comprised of fast and slow moments, it's not... If it's all slow, nothing gets done, if it's all fast, you wanna pull your hair out. The day is: get up, relax the cup of coffee, finish your book, hang out with your daughter, get a workout in, boom—fast. Go to work, you grind it out for eight hours, it's just... The day is up and down, and to roll with the punches, and...

Justin: Roll with the punches.

Colin: It may take a while to figure that out, that life and your day is walking intermixed with lots of sprints.

Justin: And make room. Okay, so make room for the fast and the slow. Alright, nice. The last quote that changed the way you think or feel.

Colin: One I heard recently, I heard a Mark Twain one recently, but I can't remember it. I've heard one recently about smart people not necessarily being wise or something like that.

Justin: Ah... Oh, I resonate with that so deeply, spending as much of my life in academia as I have, and this move to The Family Thrive for me, I'm now starting to think of myself as a recovering academic, and so I just look back and so it's like, “Oh my god, I know so many smart people, I've come across so many really smart, smart people... How many of them were wise?” Oh boy, I'll tell you, I definitely could count them on one hand and I wouldn't use up all the fingers. Let's just say that.

Colin: Yeah, and I'm still in academia, and you see it all the time, and it's fine, everyone doesn't have to be, have to be wise, but then maybe we shouldn't only turn to those people to be wise if they're actually not.

Justin: Right, but oh my gosh, I just feel like it would be so much better if academia made more room or had some sort of incentive to be wise... I don't know, there's no incentive I feel.

Colin: The problem is, to piggyback on that, the problem is, there's a book on this and I can't think of the name, but it's like the introvert knew or something like that, but the most, the loudest people generally, they're the ones that climb to the top or they're the ones whose voices are heard at meetings. Whereas like the wise sagey, like dorky, whatever people are sitting in the back of the room brainstorming what the plan should be, and their plan is obviously mastermind, masterful, but then the loud, unwise, whatever.

Justin: And I'm sure they're also saying like, “I am not going to get in the middle of this viper nest here.”

Colin: Yeah, and so-and-so from the university of whatever, who's an academic must be blah, blah is heading this committee. And then oftentimes, you'll see that, like on the news or on... And then you'll see people that work with them being like, “Oh god, this is a disaster.”

Justin: Yeah, yeah, well, but it all goes back to incentives, and so the incentives are publishing and grants and grant money, and so neither of those require wisdom, they require strategic thinking, they require being smart, they require a bunch of things, but none of them really require wisdom. I mean, of course there are why people who do that stuff, it's just not a requirement. And it's not part of the incentives. Yeah. Alright, so the last question we wanna ask all of our guests, because as you know, especially when you have young kids, you can have a rough day and let out a sigh that sounds something like this, “Kids…” And so we all know that it can be stressful and exhausting, but we wanna end by celebrating kids, so Colin, what is your favorite thing about kids?

Colin: They remind you nonstop to keep playing.

Justin: Mmm. Play, yeah.

Colin: Yeah, the longest day, Friday, I was stuck in an hour of traffic, it was like 7 o'clock at night, I got home, and I jumped through the door, my daughter's playing peekaboo. She's in the peekaboo phase. It's just like, alright, I can’t complain.

Justin: Love it. Colin, thank you so much for this interview. I think we got a lot out of it. We definitely wanna have you back.

Colin: I’d love to. Thanks for having me.

Justin: Alright, man, take care.

Colin: Thanks, I appreciate it.

Justin: Hey, you like what you're hearing so far, this podcast is just one of the many ways we're supporting your Family's Thrive journey, head over to thefamilythrive.com and sign up for our email list so you can learn all about The Daily Thrive Community app. we're launching soon.

The Daily Thrive will have everything you need to live your best life as a parent: fresh daily articles from expert researchers, doctors, therapists, and dietitians; live events from cooking classes to emotional health practices; and deep-dive workshops with top experts on the topics that matter for family thriving. Head over to thefamilythrive.com, and if you sign it before we launch, you'll get a free 90-day trial on us.

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