If you wake up in the morning and find that your tire is low, what do you do? You go with the quick fix and fill it up with air.
What if you go to your car the next day and find it’s low. Do you fill it up again, and again, and again for days, weeks, months?
Of course not. You find the root of the problem.
You find the nail, or whatever is causing the problem, to have it removed and have it fixed permanently.
So why aren’t you doing it with your health?
Most of us go to the doctor and get a prescription for pills to fix our chronic problems. We just keep going for the quick fix instead of addressing the root of it.
I can’t say every medical condition is this way, but in many cases ongoing problems like depression and diabetes needs to have the root problem examined.
Chances are you just need to shift your lifestyle. And that doesn’t mean a drastic change to your life. You can start small.
To explain much more than I can, I sat down with the UK’s leading doctor, Dr. Rangan Chatterjee.
Dr. Chatterjee is a medical doctor who decided to rethink the way we do medicine. He’s decided that physicians need to be more holistic in their approach to treating patients and help their lifestyle as opposed to just giving them a quick fix.
He has become the star of the hit BBC series Doctor in the House where he analyzes every aspect of people’s lives to help with their illness.
Dr. Chatterjee has made it his goal to simplify the way the average person thinks about healthcare.
He’s divided health into four easy pillars that allow anyone with a chronic disease to retake control of their lives.
Learn the root cause of most chronic diseases, how to let technology empower us, and the key indicator of how well you will age, on Episode 634.
Lewis Howes: This is episode number 634 with Dr Rangan Chatterjee.
Welcome to The School of Greatness. My name is Lewis Howes, former pro-athlete turned lifestyle entrepreneur and each week we bring you an inspiring person or message to help you discover how to unlock your inner greatness. Thanks for spending some time with me today. Now, let the class begin.
Jim Rohn said, “Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live.” We only get one body, one life and one body. And if we aren’t taking care of it, holistically, on every aspect of the body, in terms of how we can optimise our physical health, mental and emotional health, our stress levels, getting enough sleep, eating the right foods. If we’re not constantly being mindful of these things, then we are going to be destructive in our body and it’s going to affect our performance in our relationships, our life, our finance, all these areas of our life are going to be affected if we don’t have our health.
Dr Rangan Chatterjee is regarded as one of the most influential doctors in the UK and wants to change how medicine will be practiced in years to come. He is known for finding the root cause of people’s problems and he highlighted his methods in the groundbreaking BBC television show, Doctor In The House, which has been shown in over 70 countries around the world.
He is the author of the international bestseller, The Four Pillar Plan, which already became one of the top ten selling health titles in the past five years. And he hosts the podcast, Feel Better: Live More. It is also featured on BBC News channels, he’s done TED Talks, this guy is all over the place.
And what we talk about today is how chronic disease is actually an illusion! So, if you think you have chronic disease, it’s actually an illusion, and what the root cause of most chronic disease actually is. Why relaxing is the first pillar of good health, and why so many of us are never relaxed. And you’ll see what I’m talking about here in a second.
Also, how to use technology in a way that empowers us instead of enslaves us, and what the key indicator is of how well you will age. My friends, you will love this one! Make sure to share it with your friends, lewishowes.com/634. Take a screenshot on your phone right now and tag me on Instagram and let me know what you’re thinking, along the way.
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Alright, let’s get into this one. I’m super excited! It’s all about how do we reverse disease and reclaim your health. With the one, the only, Dr Rangan Chatterjee.
Welcome, everyone, to The School of Greatness Podcast, we’ve got Dr Rangan Chatterjee in the house. Good to see you, my friend!
Rangan Chatterjee: Thanks for having me, Lewis!
Lewis Howes: Nice to meet you today, and you’ve had a big success in the UK and all over the world, with a show that you have, called, Doctor In The House, which I’ve never seen, but I hear is incredible and you actually move in with people for four to six weeks, to help them transform their lifestyle, is that right?
Rangan Chatterjee: Yes, or transform their health, whatever their health problem is, I’m there to help them. But, as you say, Lewis, the majority of the time it is a lifestyle issue.
Lewis Howes: Yeah, it’s mostly changing their emotions, their habits, their routines. Is that what I’m hearing?
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah, absolutely. But I’m not putting blame on people, I just want to make that really clear. I’m not saying that people are doing it to themselves. I think everyone, genuinely, I think everyone’s trying to be as healthy as they can within the context of their own life, within their job patterns and their beliefs and things. And I always start out with that, who wants to be overweight, right? Who want to feel tired? I don’t thing anyone does.
Lewis Howes: No one, no one.
Rangan Chatterjee: So, I start with that premise, that everybody wants to be the best they can and then I kind of try to figure out, what is the obstacle there?
Lewis Howes: Why are people not the best they can be? Why is that? Why do you think we allow ourselves to go down and gain 100lb or attract disease or feel low energy? Why do we allow ourselves to do that?
Rangan Chatterjee: I don’t think we’re necessarily consciously allowing ourselves to do that. I think there’s two facets, to me. The first facet is knowledge is important, right? I think we have over complicated health in a huge way. And I think, when we can simplify the messages to people, I think we’ve got a shot, but I don’t think that’s everything.
I think there’s a lot of emotional baggage that many of us carry, which we use sugar, or food, or our lifestyle choices, whether it’s that we stay up late and we binge on Netflix and we don’t go to sleep, to compensate for other things in our life.
And I don’t think I really… You know, I’ve been practicing now, for seventeen years, I’ve been seeing patients for, I don’t think I really got this, maybe six, seven years ago. I really don’t I think it’s more what I experienced in my own life as a father as a husband, as a more experienced doctor. You kind of learn more things. You kind of go, “It’s not that simple, actually,” you know? It’s not quite as straightforward as giving people the information.
You’ve got to inspire them. You’ve got to connect in a way that it means something to them. And a lot of doctors say that, actually, patients don’t do what we tell them to do. Right? I don’t buy it. The reason I don’t buy it is, everybody wants to feel as good as they can.
My job is, and the job of any healthcare professional, I mean, you could expand it out beyond healthcare, right? Is, can you communicate effectively with the person in front of you? Can you do it in a way that resonates, deeply resonates, because when you do that, people want to make the change. I genuinely believe that.
Lewis Howes: You don’t just tell people, “You need to do this. You just need to do these things and you’ll get better.” It’s not as important as, “You know what, your son, who is six right now, is really depending on you to be healthy. This is going to help you live a longer life so you can see him go to school and marry someone and see your grandkids,” having more meaning behind it, is that right?
Rangan Chatterjee: Absolutely! And, you know, something’s just come into my head, that the very first day ever that I filmed the show, Doctor In The House, I was probably a bit nervous, there’s a camera on me and I know this is going to go out on primetime, and there was a family there. There were a few weight issues in the family, and I diagnosed the lady with type-2 diabetes on the first day, she didn’t know she had it.
On the very first day I said to them, “Hey guys, what would you usually eat?” And I remember the guy said to me, well, he turned around and he said to the family and said, “Hey guys, what are you having? Just the usual?” and they said, “Yeah, just the usual, please Dad.” So he said, “Come on Doc, come with me.”
So I went in his car with him, we drive fifteen minutes out of town, to a drive-through McDonalds, he spends about $60/$65 there, just for four people. But that’s not the interesting part. The interesting part is that on the way there, he turned around to me and said, “Hey, Doc, this is really embarrassing actually. I know this stuff isn’t good for us, but we do this five nights a week.”
Lewis Howes: Why? Because it feels good? Like, the idea of it just feels good, or it’s comfort food, or it tastes good?
Rangan Chatterjee: Honestly, at the time, I don’t think I knew, at the time I was just like, “Okay, that’s interesting,” and that would just mull over in my head, and I was trying to figure out, they know that this is not good for them, they’ve got weight problems, they’re not feeling very good, they’re thinking about maybe moving jobs because they can’t perform the way they want to perform. This chap had lost his job as a fireman and he used to be really proud to be a fireman. He wanted to get back to active service, yet he was still doing this. And it’s emotional. It wasn’t just information. Information was important, and yes, I did educate them.
Lewis Howes: But they knew that wasn’t good for them.
Rangan Chatterjee: Exactly! Right? And then you look around, suddenly, and particularly in this country, right, you see it all around the world, but the amount of people who are struggling with their health, it’s not just as simple as saying, “You’ve got to do better.” I honestly don’t think it is, because, I used to think it is, but you’ve got to tap in.
Once people have got that respect for themselves and they’re understanding of what their meaning, of what their purpose is, I find that they do start making those changes. You can call me an eternal optimist if you want, but I really do believe that.
Lewis Howes: Yeah. You said that disease is an illusion. Why is that?
Rangan Chatterjee: The reason I think disease is an illusion is basically, the way we think about disease, and whether we’re talking about type-2 diabete, whether we’re talking about depression, or whatever chronic disease you want to talk about, I think there’s a perception in society that it’s a thing. Once you cross that threshold, once you’ve met the criteria for the diagnosis, you’ve now got this thing, you’ve got this lable.
And I didn’t realise, until a few years ago, actually, that, let’s take depression, for example. Depression is the name that we give to a collection of symptoms. There’s no blood test that says, “Oh, you now have depression,” or, “You don’t,” right? I’m not trivialising this. This is a serious problem. In the UK, one in four people are going to get a mental health problem in any given year. Think about that for a minute, 25% of the population.
Lewis Howes: Why?
Rangan Chatterjee: Why? This is the point of all my work, is that collectively, the way that we are living our modern lifestyles is having a negative impact on the way that many of us are feeling. For me, it’s that simple. It’s not about blame, it’s not about saying, “You are doing this to yourself.” It’s about this whole mismatch between the way that modern, western society is set up now, compared to our genetic and our evolutionary heritage.
Lewis Howes: Being in nature, it’s healing and therapeutic.
Rangan Chatterjee: Being in nature, yeah!
Lewis Howes: I just went to Hawaii for four and a half days and left my phone in L.A. and my computer here, and had zero connection to a device. It’s amazing how the body heals so quickly from any stress or tightness or tension or overwhelm or depression feeling, or whatever it may be, you start to heal naturally.
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah, absolutely.
Lewis Howes: And if we literally just said, one day a week we’re not going to be on our phone, or one night a week, we’re not going to be on our phone, we’re going to be in nature, I think our health would drastically improve.
Rangan Chatterjee: Lewis, one of the chapters in my book is literally called that, The Screen Free Sabbath. Embrace one day a week, trying to go off your screens completely. But then, I’m also a realist and I say, “Hey, look. If one day sounds too scary, do an evening. Start with one hour.”
Lewis Howes: Don’t have it on during lunch or dinner. Don’t take your phone out when you’re eating.
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah. That’s a rule in my family. In my house there’s no phones or electronics around the table when we’re eating. It winds me up, and you say that: in February of this year I had just been travelling around doing a lot of speaking gigs. I’d been promoting my book in the UK, and I was feeling burnt out, and I remember phoning my wife and I said, “Babe, I need a holiday. I don’t care where we go, I just want heat, I want relaxation,” and we booked a last minute holiday to Dubai.
And I went with my two young kids, and my wife, and we got to the hotel, my laptop and my phone went in the hotel safe, and it stayed there all week. And it’s a different experience. I was connecting! I don’t think we realise the noise that this creates in our mind, every single day. Just how many times we look at them, there’s studies now showing, if we were communicating now and we had our smartphones on the table there, we would have a less meaningful conversation. Just from having it there, even if it wasn’t turned on. Just being aware, “What’s going on there? Am I missing an e-mail? Is something coming in?”
Lewis Howes: Is it going to buzz or a light going to flash?
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah! But can I, Lewis, a patient’s story that I talk about in my book, can I share it with you?
Lewis Howes: Yeah, sure.
Rangan Chatterjee: This is a few years back, and this is before I’d had the kind of personal experiences with my own family and my son that forced me to confront some realities about my medical training. And I was in a busy Monday afternoon, what we call a surgery, I had three or four patients waiting outside.
Lewis Howes: You were doing surgeries?
Rangan Chatterjee: I used to be trained as a specialist, I used to do kidney medicine, but I was getting very frustrated about how specialised we were becoming, in medicine, and I kind of feel sometimes we missed the big picture, so I changed…
Lewis Howes: The holistic approach, as opposed to just treating the symptom, you got to treat the whole, right?
Rangan Chatterjee: Right, you got to treat the whole. And we are missing that in medicine.
Lewis Howes: If you just treat one area, it’s not going to… It’s still going to come back.
Rangan Chatterjee: It’s still going to come back, yeah, and that’s kind of what my whole approach is about, looking at the 360° approach to health, right? But some of this is intuitive, so it was in this clinic, let’s call it clinic. So, it’s a busy Monday afternoon clinic, I’m already running behind, and this sixteen-year-old boy called Devon walks in through the door, with his mother.
And I see the letter that’s there on the file and basically, on the Saturday, this guy had tried to harm himself, tried to cut his wrists and he ended up in the ER. And he was evaluated there and basically they had discharged him, they thought he was safe to discharge, but there was a letter to say, “Come and see Dr Chatterjee,” and can I please start an anti-depressant for him? So he was there to pick up his prescription.
Lewis Howes: And you were supposed to give it to him.
Rangan Chatterjee: I’m supposed to give it to him. That would have been the easiest thing in the world to do. It would have taken a few minutes, I would be running on time, I’d get back to my next patient, and I could keep going on the treadmill of my day.
But I thought, “Wait a minute, I know this family, they seem pretty well-balanced. I’ve never picked anything up before that there’s an issue here. Why would a sixteen-year-old boy from a seemingly well-rounded, well-balanced family end up in ER? I’ve got to know more.”
So, I tried to spend a bit of time, I tried to figure out what was going on. I couldn’t quite get to the bottom of it, and I was like, “Hey, guys, look. Would you mind coming back tomorrow, at the end of my morning clinic and I’ll spend a bit longer with you?” They said, “Okay,” and so they came out the next day. It was a Tuesday morning, at the clinic, and we spent about fifteen, twenty minutes chatting, and I thought, “I think,” I thought in my head, “I think your use of social media might be negatively impacting your mental health.” Did I have a study to prove it? No.
But I said to him, “Devon, look. I think the way you’re using social media might be contributing.” I didn’t say it was the cause, I said it might be a factor. “Are you interested in reducing that?” And he was like, “Do you honestly think that’s going to help?” And I said, “Devon, I’m going to commit to you and I want to try to help you, but shall we give it a try?” So, we came up with this deal, and for one hour in the morning he gets up, but he doesn’t go on his phone.
He comes back seven days later, and I say, “Hey, Devon, how are you doing?” Now, he said, “Hey, Doc, I don’t know, I’m still not great, but I feel less up and down in the day, I’m sleeping better.” Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t suddenly cured, I’m not saying that, but he was starting to show a sign of improvement. I said, “Devon, can we extend that out a little bit?” He goes, “Alright.”
So, we move it up over the next few weeks to two hours in the morning, and two hours in the evening, before bed, where he doesn’t go on his smartphone, right? And he keeps coming back and he’s consistently starting to improve bit by bit. And I’m thinking, “Okay, this is interesting.” I mean, I don’t have any training for this, right? I was just trying to figure it out, you know? I was just trying to figure out how to help this guy.
I was also doing a bit of reading and I was reading about how our diets can in fact impact our mental health. So he comes in and I say, “Hey, Devon, what are you eating?” You know, typical teenager.
Lewis Howes: Candy. McDonalds.
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah, typcial teenager. Sixteen-year-old, processed junk food, and I drew him a little picture, I said, “Hey, did you know, Devon, that actually when your blood sugar is going up and down throughout the day because of what you’re eating, that’s not just a blood sugar problem, that’s not just an energy problem. When your blood sugar is falling rapidly two hours after you’ve eaten, let’s say, a bagel, that’s an alarm sign to your body, and your stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, can also go up and that can impact your mood.
“He’s like, “Really?” I was like, “Yeah.” So I drew it out for him, so he got it, and he said, “Well, what can I do?” I said, “Well, Devon, look. Why don’t I help you understand how you can stabilise your blood sugar throughout the day with a bit more protein and healthy fats.” He would take with him things like nuts to snack on and bit by bit he came back and said, “I’m starting to feel better.”
Then I didn’t see him for ages, and I come into my surgery one day, into my clinic, and there’s a letter waiting for me, and it’s his mother and it said, “Dear Dr Chatterjee, I just want to thank you, Devon is like a different boy. He is happy at school, he’s engaging with his friends, he’s joining clubs at the weekend. I just want to thank you.” And in that moment, then, I just thought, you know, I know the science now, of what went on there, but I didn’t need to know it back then.
I just thought this is a sixteen-year-old boy that could have been labled with depression, at sixteen, who could have been put on an anti-depressant and that was five years ago, at least. He would have still, he could easily have been on that medication, still today, five years later. I know he’s still doing well, and I’m not saying that works in every single case, but what I am trying to say, and back to the original question is, why do I say disease is an illusion?
We could have said, “You have depression. That is just something you have got and here’s your treatment for it.” And I’m saying, for him, his lifestyle choices that he often didn’t realise he was making, he didn’t realise the impact, he just made some quick changes in his lifestyle and he’s transformed his health. So he, arguably no longer has depression.
It doesn’t mean he can’t slip back again in the future. And this is what I mean by, “disease is an illusion.” I feel that’s my job as a doctor. I’m privileged to be able to tap in to what’s going on, and that boy, if there’s a fork in the road where he could have gone down one path. What does that do to your psyche if you know, “Oh, hey, okay, I’ve got depression. That’s why I’m like this. There’s nothing I can do.”
Lewis Howes: Just being a victim of this, yeah.
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah, you know, Lewis, I like to be respectful and compassionate guy. I’m not saying there are not people out there who benefit from this stuff, or from medication, I’m not saying that. I’m just saying, it’s too easy to say, “You’ve got something,” and give a pill. And I think 80% of the time, we don’t need to do that.
And on my show I manage to make something like a condition like type-2 diabetes, in inverted commas, “disappear” after 30 days. I helped a lady with fibromyalgia pains, who had been under doctors for ten years, be pain free after six weeks. A thirty-year history of back pain, gone, and an opiates and sleeping pill addiction, or certainly, dependency, gone! When we actually identified, what’s the root cause of this.
Lewis Howes: What’s usually the root cause of these people? Is it an emotional attachment that they’re holding onto? Is it what they’re eating and their lifestyle choices? Is it trauma that they face, that they’re holding onto? What is it usually? Or do you see a pattern?
Rangan Chatterjee: It’s a combination of things. I certainly would say that I think there is an emotional pattern in pretty much every case.
Lewis Howes: Really?
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah. I really do.
Lewis Howes: Any case of disease, essentially?
Rangan Chatterjee: No, sorry, I’m not saying in any case of disease, I’m saying in the sort of… Look, I think I need to really be clear. I’m talking about chronic disease, as opposed to acute disease. So, an acute problem, like a pneumonia, right? You’ve got a pnemonia.
Lewis Howes: You’ve got to clear it up.
Rangan Chatterjee: Very simply, you’ve got the overgrowth of a bug in your lung, we identify that bug, and we give you a treatment, an anti-biotic that kills that bug and then you don’t have that disease any more, right? Okay, I get that. That’s an acute problem.
Lewis Howes: So, you still prescribe medication to things like that?
Rangan Chatterjee: Absolutely. But a chronic disease, so let’s take type-2 diabetes, is so common and widespread. Let’s just think about that for a minute. That happens when you pass an arbitrary point on a scale. Right, so, here in the US, your HPA1C, which is a blood test which says your average blood sugar for the last three months. Right, if you’re 6.5 or above, we say you’ve got type-2 diabetes. If you’re 6 to 6.5, you have something called prediabetes. No, sorry, here’s it’s 5.7, but the point is, if it’s just below that at 5.6, we say you don’t have anything.
Lewis Howes: You’re fine.
Rangan Chatterjee: You’re fine. But you’re not fine! This is a continuum. You’re very close. And so, what I’m just trying to get the point across is that, something doesn’t magically change when you go up point one and you’re now in…
Lewis Howes: Prediabetes range.
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah. This has been building up for ten years. And I want us to be picking this up one year into it and saying, “Hey, look. You don’t have prediabetes yet, but you’re going to get it within a few years.
And my approach really, Lewis, is about four key areas of health. I find that what I do with most people comes down to what I call the four pillars of health. That’s what I did on the show, that’s what I outlined in my book, because, I think when we can simplify health down, people get it. And I cover connection and I cover emotional health, but I do it under the umbrella of, “relax”.
Lewis Howes: Relax?
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah, okay, so just to back up. My four pillars of health…
Lewis Howes: So, that’s the first pillar, relax.
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah, and there’s a reason I started with relax, because…
Lewis Howes: Because when we are tight and stressed, that’s when we cause dis-ease, right?
Rangan Chatterjee: Absolutely.
Lewis Howes: The more tight we are for the longer amount of years, we build something up in the body that has symptoms, negative symptoms, right?
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah. And can dictate our choices. If you’re feeling stressed, you’re not having any time to yourself, you will find it harder to make healthy food choices. You will find it harder to have the motivation to work out and get your body moving.
Lewis Howes: When the brain is a rollercoaster you’re causing dis-ease, dysfunction in your body, right?
Rangan Chatterjee: Absolutely, and it’s interesting, the publisher first said, “We should start with food,” and I said, “No, no, no, I want it, look, everyone will expect me to start with food. We undervalue relaxation.”
Lewis Howes: Peace of mind.
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah! We undervalue relaxation in society, and when we’re talking about health, everyone’s talking about food and movement. Now don’t get me wrong, they’re important. But I give equal priority to food, movement, sleep and relaxation. And I think that’s what makes my approach a little bit different, is that I say, “Look, you don’t need the perfect diet, you don’t need the perfect workout regime, you need to do enough in each pillar.”
And I think that’s what leads to the changes that not only work in two weeks. They’re still going to be working in two months, in six months, in twelve months, in two years. We can all go on a crash ten-day diet and fell better. All of us could do that, I could do that, but will that change my behaviour? I’m not so sure.
Lewis Howes: Yeah. And as an athlete, you know, we always talk about being in the zone, being in the flow, and the only way to get in the flow is to be relaxed. Because if you’re playing basketball and football and you’re running tight like this and tense, you’re not going to be able to flow at any moment and move and be agile, so you must be able to be relaxed, in order to achieve peak results in your sport.
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah, so I totally agree, and that actually reminds me of a story that I talk about in the fourth chapter in Relax, I say, “We all need a daily practice of stillness.” And I define what that is, and in that chapter I talk about flow and I talk about athletes. And I talk about Tiger Woods, actually, and I will always remember, as a kid growing up, I would just idolise that guy and think it’s just amazing what he’s doing, and he’s getting all kinds of people interested in the sport and just with his brilliance at the time.
And I remember a lot of people used to criticise him, and I remember in an interview he said once, on a Sunday, on the back nine, “I can’t hear the crowds. I don’t know all that emotional commotion that’s going on, I’m in the zone.” He’s in flow state, right? He is literally just in the moment and zoned in.
But you know who else is in flow state? My five-year-old daughter, or my seven-year-old son, when they’re colouring a book, or building lego blocks, they’re in flow state. I could talk to them, and they’re not being rude and ignoring me, they’re just completely immersed in the moment, and we can learn from those kids.
And that’s the thing about technology, why it takes us out. We start to get distracted. I love tech right? The whole relax pill, a big feature of that is, how do we use technology in a way that it empowers us and helps us, rather than enslaves us? I think, for many of us, unfortunately, technology is like a, it’s just got…
Lewis Howes: We’re slaves. We’re slaves to it. It was a year and a half ago when I realised, I thought to myself, “Has there ever been a day in the last fifteen years since I had my cellphone,” I think I got my cellphone when I was seventeen, and I was like, “Have I ever had a day when I didn’t have my cellphone on me?”
And I couldn’t think of a moment, one day, when I didn’t have it on me, and I was like, “That’s kind of a crime,” like I feel like that’s a really bad sign that I’m addicted to something, if I do it every single day for fifteen years. And I started sleeping with it right next to my head, and next to my desk, and my bed, and I was always checking it, and I was like, “Something’s got to change,” and that was when I took my first trip without it and I left it here.
It was so relaxing and relieving to not be chained to a technology. And then I did that again recently and it was, again, another reminder, and I was like, “I want to do this at least once a year for a week.” And do these Sabbaths, like you talk about. Even just going out to dinner without it. Leaving it at home, like going to the movie and not taking it with you. Whenever you go out, one night a week, two nights a week, just leave it at home and not feel like it’s so freeing, you can just fully connect.
Rangan Chatterjee: It’s like a holiday. You feel like you’ve had a holiday, just three hours without your phone. It all comes down, and I think what’s crazy, for me, Lewis, is that in 2108, we have to talk to people, or I feel, as a medical doctor, I need to write 25% of my entire book on relaxation. Because I think, if you go back 20 years. I don’t know, maybe it’s a romantic viewpoint of the world before, but let’s say you’re a standard family, right? People come home from work.
Lewis Howes: You have dinner together.
Rangan Chatterjee: You have dinner together, right? And then, after dinner, if you’ve got kids, you might put them to bed. If you don’t, I think people would maybe go sit on the sofa and put the TV on, there wouldn’t be the option of, “Can I keep working on my business? Can I catch up my work e-mail so my day is easier tomorrow?” You didn’t even have that opportunity.
So, I think relaxation almost, it would naturally be there in the evenings. I think because we’ve got this amazing technology where we can literally talk to someone with a video 5,000 miles away, which is incredible, but it also means that, if we’re not careful, it’s going to take over us. And I actually think we’re the generation now, social media and technology is pretty new. I don’t know, how old is Facebook? Twelve, thirteen years?
Lewis Howes: Twelve years, I think.
Rangan Chatterjee: Twelve years, right? Okay, think about something which over 1 billion people on the planet have, or I can’t remember the latest figure.
Lewis Howes: Two billion.
Rangan Chatterjee: Two billion, right? It’s just incredible, did not exist twelve years ago. And so, I think we actually need almost like, we talk about good sleep hygiene, rules to help you sleep. I think we need good technology rules. What are some good practices around technology that are going to help us. Nobody’s going to get rid of tech, nor should we get rid of tech, it’s here to stay.
Lewis Howes: Create boundaries for yourself, yeah.
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah. And in the sleep portion of the book, one of my recommendations is what I call a “no-tech-90” before bed. You know the whole idea, can you switch off all modern tech, 90 minutes before bed.
Lewis Howes: Even TV? Or do you mean, just relax?
Rangan Chatterjee: No, I don’t incude TV in that, and I explain why. And also, I think there’s two factors with the technology. One, I think, the blue light that we get from it. So, one of our sleep hormones is called melatonin, we get that when it gets dark, right. Blue light, we only see, in nature, in the morning, or maybe in the early afternoon. We don’t see it in the evenings.
But when you’ve got that phone next to your face, that is blue light, that is telling your body it’s daytime, that’s the sun, time to wake up, right? But the TV is typically a lot further away from you than your phone. Our phones are, like, here, aren’t they? And so I think TV’s okay, but again, if you’re going to watch a violent thriller before you go to bed…
Lewis Howes: Watch out, you might have some bad dreams and some bad sleep.
Rangan Chatterjee: Watch out, yes. So one factor is the blue light, but the other factor is that emotional commotion. I had a patient recently. He’s, like, a forty-two-year old busy executive. He has had three and a half [hours] sleep a night, for about twenty-five years. He’s tried everything, like, literally everything. He’s been to the sleep clinic, he’s been investigated, he doesn’t have what we call a primary sleep disorder.
I think that’s the thing about sleep that I think a lot of the public, and maybe a lot in my profession, don’t realise, is that in my seventeen years of experience of seeing patients, people who struggle with their sleep, the majority of them are doing something in their daily lifestyle, that they don’t realise is affecting their ability to sleep at night.
So, it’s not about giving them something to take, it’s about identifying what’s going on in their lifestyle. And this guy, three and a half hours sleep a night, I’m not kidding you, within five weeks he was sleeping seven hours a night, because food impacts your sleep.
Lewis Howes: Absolutely, sugar…
Rangan Chatterjee: Sugar impacts your sleep, but he was a complete workaholic. He would, literally, after dinner, he’d be back on the computer. He felt he had to be on call until ten thirty, eleven o’clock.
Lewis Howes: It’s hard to slow down.
Rangan Chatterjee: It’s hard to slow down, and he couldn’t do a no-tech-90, so I said, “You know what?” We started off with a no-tec-20. And he started to feel the benefits and then he wanted to make the changes. So, this is the whole point with my approach, like with Devon, that sixteen-year-old boy, I want to set the bar so low with people that they feel that they can do it. When you do that you feel good, you feel motivated. You feel, “Yeah, yeah, I can do that.”
A prime example would be, I’ve got this thing called a five minute kitchen workout, in my movement pillar. Probably one of my favourite suggestions, is the five minute kitchen workout. Where did this come from? This comes from this whole idea that a few years ago, I kind of realised that strength training, now I know you’re an athlete, but strength training is very much undervalued. Again, it’s society. Once we hit thirty, we start losing muscle mass, each year. And our muscle mass is one of the biggest predictors of how well we’re going to be as we age.
Lewis Howes: Really?
Rangan Chatterjee: Absolutely! And some people call it the number one predictor of how well you’re going to be, is your muscle mass.
Lewis Howes: So it’s important to build muscle mass?
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah, particularly after the age of thirty, so, arguably, we associate working out with teenagers and twenty-somethings trying to look buff and good in the gym and look good when they go out. Arguably it’s more important as you get older, is to train your strength.
Lewis Howes: What does it help with? It helps predict the longevity of your life?
Rangan Chatterjee: Longevity, and how well you’re going to age. It’s one of the strongest determinates.
Lewis Howes: Because why? What’s the reason why?
Rangan Chatterjee: Okay, we think of muscle as dumb muscle, right? So, if we were going to shift this table, and push it or lift it, we need our muscle, it just serves a mechanical function. In the last few years we’ve realised muscle is probably the forgotten organ. It’s an active organ, it regulates hormones in your body.
Lewis Howes: It burns fat.
Rangan Chatterjee: It burns fat, it sends out immune system messages called cytokines to other parts of the body. It’s not just dumb muscle, it helps with all kinds of things, and we neglect it. And I think, as a doctor, I used to give this advice to people, it’s like, you know, “Strength training is really important. You’ve got to join a gym.”
They come back a few weeks later, and I said, “How are you getting on with that?”
“Ah, Doc, you know, I don’t have time. And I can’t afford they gym and work’s too busy.” And, again, I never thought, Lewis, I never thought, “These guys aren’t doing what I told them,” I thought, “Okay, the advice I’m giving them is not resonating, it’s not connecting with them in a way that they feel that they can do it. I’ve got to do a better job.”
So, in that moment, it was with a patient, I came up with this five minute kitchen workout. Now, look, there’s plenty of other great workouts out there, I’m not claiming to have… you know, if you’ve got another one you like doing, do it, you know? This not saying I’ve come up with some unique approach, right? But all my tools are to do with what I’ve seen work with people, with real people with busy lives, busy jobs, busy families.
So I would say, “Okay, look, there are these five exercises,” I’d get my jacket off, I’d hit the deck and I would teach them how to do it. Like a press-up for example, press up on the floor is actually a pretty tricky exercise. It’s a bit easier to do it on the desk, but I’ve got seventy-year-old patients who do it against the wall, right? You can even do it against the wall. So I would teach these people how to do these five minute kitchen workouts.
And if you said to someone, “Have you got 45 minutes, three times a week to work out?” They may say no, but then they don’t go and do it. If I say, “Hey, have you got five minutes a week?”
“Is that all you want, Doc?”
I’m like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Five minutes twice a week.”
So I start that and I talk about this in the book: I got this couple in their sixties who came to see me recently. I thought they would benefit. And they were sceptical, I’m telling you, they were really sceptical. But, I didn’t take no for an answer, I still had the jacket on, up against the wall, teaching them how to do it, and they said, “Alright, Doc, we’ll give you a go.”
So they went home and I gave them a follow up in four weeks, and they came back and I said, “How are you guys getting on?” and they were like, “We love it, we’re doing it. We started off in the kitchen,” and now they do it six times a week upstairs, as their evening bath is running, on their upstairs landing, they’re knocking out this five minute kitchen workout and actually, often it’s ten minutes.
So then, from doing zero strength training, they’re now doing six times a week, ten minutes, upstairs, but I only said they had to do ten minutes a week, right? Because they feel good, they started to get the benefits and I’ve got countless stories like that. But anybody can do it, any ability level. You know, people like the gym, I love the gym, right? Great, but there’s a lot of people out there, that if we say you’ve got to go to a gym to stay fit, that’s an obstacle.
Lewis Howes: “Well, I’m just never going to get fit then.”
Rangan Chatterjee: Never going to do it, so I’m all about…
Lewis Howes: Simple ways to do it.
Rangan Chatterjee: Simple ways to do it. That’s my whole approach, man.
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Alright, now let’s get back to the conversation.
It sounds like to me there are two things that medical school does not do, that if they did, the world would be mostly healed, or way better off. One is, teaching doctors about nutrition and lifestyle, and understanding about not treating the actual symptom, but actually treating the root cause of the actions that people are taking, the thoughts, the beliefs behind all this.
And number two, teaching doctors how to effectively understand and relate from their point of view and communicate like you said, in a way so that they can start taking these actions. How come medical school, they’re not teaching what arguably sounds like, to me, the two most important things to change people’s health?
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah. Very, very good point. Obviously there’s two factors there. I think the first thing we’ve got to recognise is that these modern healthcare systems, look, I’m born and brought up in the UK, so that’s my bias, but I’ve come out to America a lot and I don’t think it’s dissimilar here. These healthcare systems were set up in a different era.
They were set up in an era where what people went to see their doctor with, was an acute problem. You’d go with a pneumonia, with a chest infection. Fix it, right? So the whole system of these ten, fifteen minute appointments was set up in that era. Because modern medicine worked in that era. It responded well to that.
You go in with your problem, you get your diagnosis, you get you pill for that ill and you take it for seven days or whatever, and the problem goes. The problem is, the health landscape of the entire western world, but arguably whole world now, has changed dramatically, where it’s the bulk of what we’re seeing, is in some way related to our modern lifestyles.
I don’t think healthcare systems have kept up, I don’t think medical school has kept up and I think it’s almost like we’re trying to hold on to the way it’s always been without recognising, “Look outside that window! It’s different out there!” The world has changed. Now, even technology, we spoke a lot about technology, that’s only, what, fifteen, sixteen years old. Or social media, twelve years old. Let’s say, Facebook at least.
Surely we need to understand these tools of how social media might impact our health. We don’t need to wait for the big ten year study. We’ve lost a bit of common sense. You know, I feel I can make a statement, like, “How to make disease disappear,” right? It’s a pretty bold statement, right? What I mean by that is, just to really try and challenge people’s idea of what disease really is.
I get it, some diseases do need proper medical treatment. I don’t dispute that. Modern medicine has given me fifteen years with my father that I would not have got without life-saving modern medical treatment. So, I’m all for modern medicine, but we shouldn’t apply, if that works for acute disease, we shouldn’t apply that same sledgehammer approach to these chronic diseases that have actually got lifestyle as a root cause.
Last year I was thinking, “Okay, I’m showing these great results with these families on television.” So, in the UK, about 5 million people watch each show and I kind of thought, “Well, if 1% of people who watch this, make a change in their life, well, I’ve just affected 50,000 people.” If 10% do that, half a million people. And now that show has got to seventy different countries around the world, I’m thinking, “That’s great! But how do I really create change?”
I can keep talking about the lifestyle and nutrition thing, about doctors, or I can do something about it. So I spent six months creating a new course, the very first course in the UK called, Prescribing Lifestyle Medicine, and it’s been accredited by the World College of GPs and I just ran that January.
Lewis Howes: That’s cool!
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah, we had nearly 200 docs attend, 95% of people said they would highly recommend it to their colleagues, so we’re really, really pleased that we’re actually now… Because those 200 healthcare professionals and docs, they can go back into their world and they can help all their patients, right? And we weren’t teaching them, and here’s the point that people miss, Lewis, right? It’s not even about teaching in-depth nutrition, although I think that would be a good idea.
We still have a position in society, whether warranted or not, people often come to check with their doctor, what’s the deal here? I think, for many years, people would have been better off going to see a really good personal trainer. Or a really good nutritionist, than coming to see a medical doctor for something like type-2 diabetes.
And I don’t say that with any pride, right? I say that I’ve met some fantastic other healthcare professionals who have got really great knowledge, who can help their patients, but if we don’t know at least the broad base of this stuff, we’re going to say, “Oh, no, you’ve got to take this medication.
So, I think, what we taught is a new framework. How do you plot, how do you see that patient, with all their symptoms and then, very quickly, within a few minutes, because ultimately, that’s what the healthcare system is at the moment. Yeah, I’d love if all doctors had an hour with their patient, but I also recognise that that’s not going to happen for a while.
So, we’ve come up with this framework, where, within ten minutes, people can come up with an understanding of what’s going on and give them a lifestyle prescription that’s based around these four pillars, actually, that I talk about in the book. It’s that simple, that the idea is taking off. I could have made it six pillars, seven pillars, eight pillars. But I tried to, and as I said, the whole social connection piece, the whole emotional health piece, I bring up under the whole relaxation piece. So like, eat a meal, round a table, one meal a day, around company, if you can, around a table.
Lewis Howes: With no devices.
Rangan Chatterjee: With no devices. This sounds like soft medicine! Hey, I’m telling you…
Lewis Howes: Soft medicine works!
Rangan Chatterjee: I’m telling you! I didn’t know until I did Doctor In The House and I go [live] with these families, that it’s not common. What was happening in probably every dining room in the UK, and I’m guessing around in the US, thirty, forty years ago, now we have knocked out our dining rooms, we don’t have tables, we’ve got widescreen TV’s and one family, well, many families, but one family I was with, they never sat down and ate together.
I watched them eat their meals, everyone’s on their devices, people are around the living room, some people are watching TV, some people are on Facebook while eating. Just by saying, “Hey, guys! Once a day, do you think, when you guys are together you can maybe have no devices and sit around together?” They were like, “Yeah, sure. What’s the big deal?” I tell you, they told me, on screen, “This is transformative.” They started to connect with the people around them.
Lewis Howes: Started to talk about the things that are upsetting them, talk about the things that they’re proud of, and having communication.
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah, absolutely, and just to go back to your second point, about medical schools, right? So, I think, yeah, our training needs to update to reflect the 21st century. I think we’re stuck in the 20th century. I think we are applying 20th century thinking to 21st century problems.
But communication, we finished off that day with a role play. And I said, “Look, let’s take Brian, for instance.” Brian’s coming in, he’s got a new diagnosis of type-2 diabetes, this can roll two ways. What tends to happen is, knock, knock, now Brian comes in.
“Oh, come in, Brian. How are you doing? Look, your blood results have come back. You’ve got a condition called type-2 diabetes. Now, this could increase your risk of a heart attack, having a stroke. Sometimes it could cause blindness as well. Some people end up kidney dialysis. Don’t worry, we’ve got some great medications that can help you,” right? And we go through that, then as Brian’s walking out, “Hey, and if you can lose a bit of weight as well, that would be really helpful.” That’s what’s happening at the moment.
Contrast that with, knock, knock, “Hey, Brian, come in. Hey, Brian, look. I’ve got some news for you, okay? You know those blood tests you did last week? Well, things have come up.”
“Okay, what’s happened, Doc?”
“Well, you’ve got a condition called type-2 diabetes. Do you know what that is?”
“Is it something to do with blood sugar.”
“Yeah, you’re absolutely right, it’s something to do with blood sugar. But let me explain to you what that is. This has been building up in your body for about ten years. This has not just happened overnight.”
“Yeah, yeah. My dad’s got it.”
“Because your dad’s got it, doesn’t mean you’re going to get it. Would you like me to explain to you what you might be able to do to simply stop the progression and maybe start reversing this?”
“Is there anything I can do, Doc?”
“Yeah, yeah, there’s plenty! Are you interested?”
“Yeah, yeah, tell me.”
And so then I take these four pillars outlined in the book and we go through them and we go, “Okay, let’s choose one place to start.” Let’s say the five minute kitchen workout, for example, right? Look I won’t go into the whole thing, Lewis, but can you see the difference?
Lewis Howes: Sure, yeah.
Rangan Chatterjee: That person’s going to go out, on consultation one, thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’ve got this problem, it’s serious, I’ve got the medication, and also, an afterthought is, I can do a bit with my own lifestyle.”
Lewis Howes: But the medication’s got to help.
Rangan Chatterjee: But the medication’s got to help, the Doc was talking about the medication first, so really, in their head, it’s like, “Yeah, I’ve got the medication now, that’s going to sort me out. I’ll keep doing what I’m doing.”
But the second guy, Brian’s going to go out a different way, this time and going to go, “Wow! There’s stuff that I can do about this! And he’s going to help me, he’s going to help show me what I can do about this.”
I know this sounds trivial, but this is genuinely what is happening out there and the next question, Lewis, is can you teach communication skills? I think you can to a certain degree. But I think, instead of looking for straight-A students in Med school, I think we should be assessing, “Has this person got empathy? Has this person got an ability to communicate?” I think, honestly, the number one skill of any healthcare professional is not how much science and knowledge they know, it’s can they communicate? I really believe that.
Lewis Howes: Yeah. Because if you can’t communicate what you know, then it’s kind of worthless.
Rangan Chatterjee: It’s worthless. It doesn’t matter how much you know up here, if you can’t make it relevant for the person in front of you.
Lewis Howes: Right. You can’t get results.
Rangan Chatterjee: You can’t get results, and you’ve got to use different language with different people. If they are living on a council estate or a high rise and they’re on social security benefits, you may need to communicate these ideas in a different way with them, than somebody who is the CEO of a big company and can afford a personal trainer three times a week.
Because they both deserve the right to good quality, health information. They both deserve the right to be healthy. I feel really strongly about that. We know, if you live in a poor area, you have worse health outcomes. It’s the same here as it is in the UK.
And I want to try change that, and I’m really proud that the recommendations I make on my show, and the recommendations I make in this book, Lewis, that you’ve got in front of you, right? The majority of them are free. Health can be that simple.
Lewis Howes: Yeah. Is there anything in your health that’s lacking?
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah. I think there’s a certain irony off trying to go around the UK, trying to travel around the world to spread your message to empower as many people as possible to be the architect of their own health, but in the process, you often sacrifice your own health.
Now, if we take this four pillar approach, because I would love this four pillar approach to take off. I’d love every person listening to this, right now, Lewis, to think about their own health and go, “Which of these four pillars do I need the most work in?”
Lewis Howes: Yeah, relaxing, eating, moving, and sleeping.
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah, because, most of us intuitively know. I say, “Start that. Pick one small thing and start that.” If your diet is already good enough, you know what?
Lewis Howes: Are you getting enough sleep then?
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah. Don’t stress about that little bit of sugar you have each week when you meet your friends. Your diet is probably good enough. You’re going to get more bang for your buck, by switching off your phone an hour before bed and getting more sleep, right? If I apply that to myself, on that four pillar approach, I’m struggling with relax.
Lewis Howes: Really?
Rangan Chatterjee: At the moment, I’m really, I’m struggling to switch off, I’m in the middle of, I’ve created this brand new course for doctors, I’m trying to see my patients, I love my wife and my two young children, I want to spend time with them.
Lewis Howes: You’ve got your book, yeah.
Rangan Chatterjee: I’m travelling round the world to promote this book that I genuinely believe, I know from the feedback in the UK, that it is transforming the health of tens of thousands of people and I’m getting that feedback, which is the most incredible thing. These guys aren’t having to go on my waiting list and come and see me in clinic, these guys can just read these tools, apply them and change their health.
Lewis Howes: And start feeling better.
Rangan Chatterjee: And feel better, yeah. I’ve got people coming off medication and stuff like that, but if I apply it to myself. I tell you what, Lewis, I’m going to commit to you.
Lewis Howes: Right. What are you going to do to relax?
Rangan Chatterjee: I am going to commit to the daily practice of stillness, okay? I’m going to make sure. I’m going to commit to five minutes of meditation for the next seven days. I’m going to show you how and say, “I’m going to do that,” okay?
Lewis Howes: For the next seven days. When was the last time you meditated?
Rangan Chatterjee: The last time I meditated was six weeks ago, maybe? And it was just a one-off.
Lewis Howes: Five minutes a day. Seven days.
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah. Feel free to…
Lewis Howes: I’ll check in on you.
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah, you check in on me. I think, the reason I’m choosing that one, is because that’s the one I struggle with. It would be easy for me to talk about gratitude and use that one, but when I’m at home I do that. I’ve got this little game that I play with my kids every night at the dinner table. Actually, I learned that, do you know Charles Poliquin, the strength coach, you heard of him?
Lewis Howes: I have heard of him, yes, yes.
Rangan Chatterjee: I learned it from him, actually. He told me he does this with his daughter. And during our dinner, we go round the table, and we have to say, “What have I done today to make somebody else happy? What has somebody else done today to make me happy? And what have I learned today?” And if I’m honest, I thought, “Oh, this is going to be really, really good for the kids. It’s really going to help them.” This is pretty good for mum and dad as well, actually.
Lewis Howes: Yeah, exactly!
Rangan Chatterjee: So, it would be a cop-out for me to say I’m going to do that one, because I already do it, so, yeah. I’m going to try and do this and I’ll let you know how I get on.
Lewis Howes: Try?
Rangan Chatterjee: I am going to do this!
Lewis Howes: Five minutes a day.
Rangan Chatterjee: Five minutes a day!
Lewis Howes: For just seven days.
Rangan Chatterjee: Seven days.
Lewis Howes: See how that feels. What’s the next thing for you? Are you moving enough? Are you doing strength training?
Rangan Chatterjee: Yes, I’m here in L.A. I’m staying with a mutual friend of ours. I went for a workout with him this morning, actually.
Lewis Howes: That’s good!
Rangan Chatterjee: I don’t want it to sound as though I am perfect. I’m not. I’ve got a busy life, like a lot of people, but my dad passed away almost five years ago to the day, that was, along with my son’s illness, one of the most significant shifts in the way I think about things, and I do prioritise my health, so I’m pretty on it with my food most of the time, my movement, I kind of prioritise sleep, so… But it was a long process. Five years ago we were having this interview here, I wouldn’t have… I was struggling. I think if I can commit to that, that would actually give me so many health benefits.
Lewis Howes: I bet it would, yeah. And are you doing your digital detox at night, or twenty minutes before bed?
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah, I’m pretty good at that, when I’m at home. It’s always harder when you’re travelling, because of jet lag and this kind of thing, but I do switch off in the evenings. You know, I’ve got a slot, in the evenings, come 8:30 or 9 o’clock, I’m out. You won’t get me on my phone. You won’t be able to, I won’t be looking at e-mails. I am winding down, I’m creating my bedtime routine, because I know that when I sleep well, I perform much better, I’m a calmer person.
Lewis Howes: There’s some people that talk about sleep and say don’t sleep. “Sleep is for those who are weak,” and, “Just stay up and work harder to get results,” but really, if you want to perform at a high level, you’ve got to be able to allow your body to recover. Your mind, your muscles, and if you don’t, you’re going to be very deprived of energy.
If you don’t have energy every single day, you’re not going to be able to perform. So that’s why sleep is becoming more important for me, and I’ve been getting up at 5:30am. I am not a morning person at all, but I started three weeks ago, getting up at 5:30, to see what it would be like, and to start conditioning myself to hopefully go to bed earlier, because I was getting up earlier.
And I’m lifting, working out at 6:00am and it was hard the first week to break the habit of going to bed before midnight. I’m usually, like, at twelve thirty, one o’clock, one thirty, fall asleep type of guy. I’ve always been that way. It’s just hard for me to fall asleep, but when you train really hard at 5:30, 6:00am, you’re tired at night and you move your body and you sweat and you’re lifting and you’re pushing your muscles, you are tired, and ten o’clock rolls around and I’m ready to pass out. And it feels so good to go to bed at 10:30 and wake up at 5:30 ready to go.
Rangan Chatterjee: This is how I shifted my pattern a few years ago. I would have told you, back in my college days, I’m a night owl. Yeah? I’m no longer. I feel sleepy at 9:30. But I get up at 5:30, and that’s my new pattern. And I’ll tell you, in September last year, I was in Iceland lecturing at this medical conference with a guy from California called Dr Satchidananda Panda, who is one of Time Magazine’s Top 50 Scientists, and we went out for dinner.
And I said to him, I said, “You know, people talk about night owls and larks, but what happens really? When we remove modern living and we get out into nature, how did this work on an evolutionary level?” He goes, “It’s interesting that you say that, because it’s like, when we take people out of the lab, we take them and we put them in camping, away from their devices. You’re just back out in nature.
“Actually, this big thing of night owls and larks, it all gets compressed. Everyone’s got roughly the same bedtime. Maybe it’s half an hour, forty minutes difference, but it’s not this…” Maybe you can stay up or you could have stayed up till 12:30 because you’re growing a business, you’re on your screen, the blue light is keeping…
Lewis Howes: Drinking coffee.
Rangan Chatterjee: Drink coffee, yeah, but once you take out the lifestyle choices, actually what is your natural bedtime. So I actually say, it’s hard at first, but you’ve got to give these things a chance to bed in and see.
Lewis Howes: Yeah. It’s funny, whenever I used to go camping as a kid, I remember feeling that same way, but you’re like, you know, you’re making the fire, you’re putting the logs together, you’re hiking and then it’s dark at 6:30 or at 7:00 or whatever, and around ten o’clock it’s like, “These stars are beautiful, and everyone’s starting to slow down and you’re like, “Hey, let me get in my sleeping bag and fall asleep.” You’re not thinking, “Oh, I’m going to be up till 3:00am,” no, you’re tired.
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah, exactly.
Lewis Howes: You’re in nature. You’re not connected to your devices, like you said.
Rangan Chatterjee: Exactly, and think, what does that mean? Because people might listen to this and go, “Well, that’s great, but I don’t live in nature, I don’t camp. I’m busy.” I think what it means is, use nature, use that evolutionary idea as your template. Try figure out what it is that you can do to mimic that as much as possible. And you don’t have to be perfect! You won’t be perfect. It’s too damn hard.
Lewis Howes: Just do your best, yeah.
Rangan Chatterjee: Do your best and, the approach I take, you’ve got these four pillars. There’s five suggestions in each one. Not prescriptions. As a doctor I never ever told anyone what to do. As a human being, you just got to empower them with information and give them a helping hand. For example, I’ve never told a patient to give up smoking, or that they need to give smoking. And that may surprise you.
And the reason is, if I have explained, and I’m confident that they’ve understood me that what smoking is doing to their body, but they turn around and say, “Doc, you know, I get it. But I get so much enjoyment out of it.”
Lewis Howes: It makes them feel good, it’s a good habit. Yeah.
Rangan Chatterjee: It’s like, who am I, as a human being, what right do I have in that moment to say, “No, you must give it up!” That’s the approach I’ve always taken, and I think that’s one of the reasons I get good compliance from all my patients is, in this book, there’s twenty chapters.
Each chapter is a possible solution. It’s a suggestion I make. Nobody’s going to do all twenty, right? I say, do a little bit in each one. Some people will do well if they just do two things in each one of those pillars. I’m not expecting perfection. It’s not about the perfect diet, the perfect gym routine.
Lewis Howes: And it’s exhausting, too.
Rangan Chatterjee: It’s exhausting!
Lewis Howes: Perfect diet for years? It’s really hard to do.
Rangan Chatterjee: It’s exhausting. I mean, you’re going to stress yourself out, like going out, you’ll never be able to go out with your friends. It’s always going to… You know?
Lewis Howes: You’ll create your own disease by doing that.
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah. It’s about balance across all four. The other thing is, if you don’t like one of the suggestions I make, don’t do it. I don’t want you do it. If that doesn’t resonate with you, if you don’t think, “I can do that, in my life, in my family setting and the concepts of my shift patterns at work,” do you know what? I’ll say, don’t do it, move on to another chapter.
Find one that jumps out of the page to you, and I think, I don’t know, Lewis, you’ve had a lot of authors on this, right? I think that’s what makes this approach a little bit different. I’m not telling you what to do, I’m just trying to offer you real, achievable solutions that I have seen work over the last seventeen years.
Lewis Howes: Yeah. You talk about medicine being an art and a science, and this is part of that, I’m assuming. It’s like, figuring out what works for you and taking out a few things and adding something else for a different stage of your life, it’s an art.
Rangan Chatterjee: I’m not a scientist. And people say, “You’re a doctor, you are a scientist.” I say, “Hey, hold on a minute. I am a doctor. My job is to try my best to help the person in front of me in as harmless a way as possible.”
No study in the published research tells me exactly what I do with that patient. It guides me, but it doesn’t tell me. I’m not a slave to research. And what I mean by that, is, in my profession we talk about evidence based medicine. People misunderstand evidence based medicine. Evidence based medicine is the combination of three things: the research evidence, patient preference and clinical expertise. It’s where those three things meet in the middle, that’s evidence based medicine.
If it was just research evidence, you could teach a monkey to be a doctor, just follow this protocol and everyone will get better. You know what? We’re more complex than that. There is an art in knowing how to apply the science that you know, with that person in front of you.
And that’s why I’m passionate that medicine is art and science. Some people say that’s controversial. I’m happy to stand head to head with anybody and go through that, because I’m there in the trenches, seeing patients. And, you know what? Research is great, but it’s not everything.
Lewis Howes: Yeah. What’s your biggest fear as a human? Not as a doctor, but as a human.
Rangan Chatterjee: My biggest fear is not being as good a dad as I want to be. The best. Honestly, the thing I think about is, “Am I being the best dad that I can to my children?”
Lewis Howes: Why do you think that?
Rangan Chatterjee: Because I think I’ve got… I’m on this mission to try and help as many people as possible, I travel a lot, I go round a lot, the country, or travel internationally to lecture, to get this message out there, and I think, “Am I spending enough time, quality time with the children? Can I justify this because it’s for the greater good? Does that negate me not spending enough time with my children?”
I mean, I’m probably being really harsh on myself with that, Lewis, because I think I’m a good dad. I certainly prioritise time with my kids. I’m very hands on when I’m there. You know, I’m here in L.A. doing this with you, my kids are on vacation at the moment, so they’re at home without Daddy.
And it’s probably my issue, it’s my own personal baggage, I guess. I guess you probably might be expecting a different answer. I don’t know where that came from. You put me on the spot and that’s what comes out, man.
Lewis Howes: What do you think would make you the best dad you could possibly be?
Rangan Chatterjee: I think the first thing is, like when I’m here now with you, is to be present and to be focussed and actually not think about what’s going on at home, just go, “No, I’m here, I’m spreading an important message, be present with this. Don’t feel guilty, because it doesn’t serve me, being here, it doesn’t serve them,” but I think the thing which I’m really trying to do at the moment, Lewis, is, when I am home, spending quality time with them.
And what I mean by that is, time without my device. I’m making a conscious effort now, to either switch my phone off, or put it upstairs, and actually be with the kids and do something with them and be present with them. Because I tell you, if you can do that for one hour a day, that is worth ten hours being there with them when you’re constantly distracted, and you’re not with them. It is amazing, it’s incredible.
And I remember reading in, I think it was, the Tim Ferriss book, Tools Of Titans, I think there’s a chapter with Seth Godan and he talks about this idea of spending two hours a day, without a screen, with your child, and he was pretty harsh, and I think he said if you haven’t got time for that, you’ve got to really, seriously question things, and I thought that was a bit of a harsh truth, actually.
And, again, I’m being harsh on myself, Lewis, because I think I am a hands on dad. I think I do spend quality time with them, but I’ve really shifted to make it keeping my devices away, because I think I get distracted, like all of us, when the device is there and, hey, I tell you what, man, kids call you out on it. They know. I mean, my daughter…
Lewis Howes: Yeah. “Get off your phone, Dad.”
Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah, no, actually sometimes I’m good at not going on it, I don’t want them to see me going on it, but my daughter will say, “Daddy, you’re not listening to me.” And, hey, I’ll tell you what, when you’re being called out, and this is when she was four, when you’re being called out by your four-year-old daughter, that hits you hard and you go, “Okay, alright, she’s right.” So, yeah. I think phone free time every day with your children, I think it’s golden man.
Lewis Howes: Yeah, that’s powerful! This is called, The Three Truths, a question I ask everyone at the end. So imagine this is your last day, many years from now and you choose the day you want to leave this Earth. It’s your final day and you’ve done everything you want to do, but you have to take everything with you that you’ve created. All your books, all your work, all your messages, you have to take it with you as you go.
But you get to write down, on a piece of paper, your final thoughts, your Three Truths, the biggest lessons that you want to leave behind to the world, to humanity, to your friends, these Three Truths that the only thing people would have to remember you by is this. What would you say is your Three Truths?
Rangan Chatterjee: I think this is the sort of thing that would constantly change, depending on your age, and if I would come back in five years, I’d probably say something different, but right here, right now? I’d say number one: treat every single person you meet with compassion and respect.
I think number two: don’t take yourself too seriously. I think the final one, probably reflective of our conversation, is: don’t mistake electronic transactional communication for real life, meaningful, human connection. The electronic world is not the real world, and so, prioritise real, human connection.
Lewis Howes: Yeah, those are great. Yeah. I want to acknowledge you for a moment, for your evolution as a doctor, because you went into this profession with a certain type of teaching and training that got you only so far, and then you decided that you wanted to learn more, to help actually heal people from the inside out as opposed to just prescribing something for a temporary benefit.
And your ability to be with people for weeks at a time and sacrifice to learn about lifestyle and different approach to humanity and the health of all of us, is really inspiring. So I want to acknowledge you for constantly showing up and putting out things that everyone can take on, these simple ideas, and start practicing. It doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are, or where you live in the world, we can all do certain things to help make disease disappear. So I really acknowledge you for all that.
Rangan Chatterjee: Thanks, man, I really appreciate that, Lewis. And I just want to, you know, from me back to you, just, I live five and half thousand miles away from you, but you know, I’m on the train to London, often, listening to your podcast, the stuff that, the magic you’re creating here, is travelling round the world and it’s having an impact on, you know, people all over. So I just want to thank you for that, it’s incredible.
Lewis Howes: Appreciate it, man. Appreciate you. If you guys haven’t got a book, yet, make sure to get the book. It’s called, How To Make Disease Disappear. Go check it out, you can get it right now, online, in bookstores, all the places that you can go. Where can they follow you online specifically, on your website or social media?
Rangan Chatterjee: My website is drchatterjee.com, but I spend a lot of time on Facebook and Instagram, which is @drchatterjee, D.R.C.H.A.T.T.E.R.J.E.E. and Twitter is @drchatterjeeuk, but I think Instagram and Facebook is probably where I’m at.
Lewis Howes: Okay! Cool, @drchatterjee. Awesome! Let us know what you guys thought of this, let us know the idea you liked the most, from this episode and Tweet Dr Chatterjee and myself and let us know what you think. Final question for you, is: What’s your definition of greatness?
Rangan Chatterjee: My definition of greatness is, it’s probably a little bit to do with the Three Truths I gave you, really, it’s, there’s over seven billion people on this planet and everybody genuinely is equal, or should be. So, for me, someone who is truly great is somebody who treats every single person, that they communicate with, that they connect with, with deep compassion and respect. That, for me, is what it truly means to be great.
Lewis Howes: Dr Chatterjee, thank you so much, appreciate it, man.
Rangan Chatterjee: Thanks, Lewis.
Lewis Howes: There you have it, my friends. If you gained some valuable wisdom today, about how to reverse disease and reclaim your health with Dr Chatterjee, make sure to share it with your friends, lewishowes.com/634.
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And to reflect on this for a moment, guys, if you’re not setting up the habits and routines to optimise your life, I mean, gameify your health. Really. Just create a lifestyle eating plan. Don’t go on different diets where you’re constantly up and down, just create a lifestyle change, where this becomes the go-to that you have throughout your life.
It’s going to take some time. It might take a month or two or three months to figure it all out and figure out what works for you and you may have to adjust things over time as you evolve in your body and in your lifestyle. But really set yourself up to win.
You know, I’m getting up at 5:30am, which I don’t want to do. I want to sleep until noon, if I could. Really, I love sleep, but going to bed earlier and getting up earlier has been a game changer for me and it gets me started, it gets me knowing I completed something positive for my body and for my health in the morning early.
That way, when 7:00am comes around, I’ve already completed something really challenging for my health, it makes me want to eat better throughout the day, it makes me want to go to bed earlier, so I can sleep more. All these things add up, and will help you in your life. So, make sure to start doing these things to set yourself up to win.
If you enjoyed this, again, share with your friends. As Jim Rohn said, “Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live.”
I love you so very much, and you know what time it is: It’s time to go out there and do something great!