Christopher Kelly is a computer scientist, pro mountain biker, certified Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and graduate of the Kalish Institute. His wife is a food scientist, and together with Dr. Jamie Busch they run the functional medicine practice Nourish Balance Thrive.
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Christopher: Very much so, John, absolutely.
John: Yes. Christopher is a computer scientist, pro mountain biker, certified functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner, and graduate of the Kalish Institute. His wife is a food scientist. And together with Dr. Jamie Bush, they run the functional medicine practice Nourish, Balance, Thrive. Fire Nation, I got through that on one take with a mouthful of words, as you can see right there. And Christopher, I’ve given Fire Nation just a little insight. So share more about you personally and expand upon your biz.
Christopher: I’m a computer scientist. I’m an analytical mind, and I love solving problems. And most recently, my focus has turned to helping people feel better by running lab tests. So everybody knows you can to go the doctor and get blood drawn. Well, there are a whole bunch of other tests that you could be doing, and they tell you how well you’re performing. And that’s what I spend all of my time looking at these days is helping people feel better and perform better and sleep better and be more entrepreneurial.
John: Man, if we do all of those things, Fire Nation, if we sleep better, if we eat better, if we do all of these different things, then, of course, we’re going to become better entrepreneurs because we need to treat our body the way that we want to treat our businesses. Body first, business second. And Christopher, that’s really what I’m excited to really dive into today because you’ve had quite the journey to get to where you are right now. I mean, you’ve had the ups. You’ve had the downs. We’re going to talk about a couple of stories specifically. But before we get into all that jazz, I like to start with what I call the one minute mindset.
I want to ask you five questions, Christopher, and you’re going to take about a minute each to kind of allow us to get some insights into your mind. So Question 1, ideally, what do the first 60 minutes of your day look like?
Christopher: The first thing I do every morning is check my heart rate variability. This is a measurement that you can take with a chest strap. And it gives you a number, and it tells you how ready you are to train. And as a pro mountain biker, this is really important information for me. I know what I’m going to do that day based on this one marker. And it’s also just a moment to take to yourself. A little bit of mindfulness. And then, ideally, I would follow that up with a session on head space, which is something I love and recommend to everybody who works with us. And then my other big thing at the moment now is sauna.
I’m absolutely in love with near infrared sauna. It’s just such a great way to warm your body and feel energized and kick start your metabolism. It’s an absolutely fantastic way to start the day. So that would wrap up the first 60 minutes I think. And basically, anything without an internet connection. The last thing I want to do is look at my inbox for the day because that’s kind of how you get the wheels spinning and the anxiety building. And I think it’s better just to start the day in a kind of more relaxes manner.
John: I totally agree. And I love the fact that you brought up head space. It’s actually an app that I use and something that I’ve been recommending on Entrepreneur on Fire. So the fact that you are putting your stamp of approval on that, Christopher, is huge. Now, let’s be honest here. Entrepreneurs, we have our weaknesses as well. So what is your biggest weakness as an entrepreneur?
Christopher: I think it’s deciding which things are important, which things I should be focusing on. So any problem that needs solving is something I want to spend my time on. So I could easily spend the whole day or the whole weekend or even the whole week working on some nice to have feature on my website. And that would be really fun for me. That’s kind of what I do. But I’m just not sure that it’s always the best decision. So it’s not always the thing that’s going to take my business to the next level, put food on the table, that type of thing. So it’s really that decision making. What’s important right now is probably my greatest weakness.
John: Well, what’s your biggest strength?
Christopher: The strength is also the focus. So if I’ve got someone like my wife or the doctor to really sort of point me in the right direction, so I’m part of a team. And when we get together, and I just devote that same focus to a particular problem, I’m kind of quite unflappable. I will stay at that problem until it’s done. And it will get done.
John: Well, Christopher, you said it, not me. The word focus. I mean, that is just a word that’s been with me from Day 1. I’ll never forget the day that I found the acronym for the word focus. Follow one course until success. What do you think?
Christopher: Absolutely. There are so many almost like shiny things to me at the moment. You look at podcasts and webinars and this and that and this other thing that you could be doing. And of course, it’s all so tempting and so attractive to anyone that’s excited and starting something new. And it’s just not the way to get things done. You need to pick one of them, the most important one, and then just focus on it.
John: Yeah. Being a military guy, I say that there are plenty of weapons of mass distraction out there. And we just need to avoid those distractions. So Christopher, what’s a habit that you wish you had?
Christopher: Walking more. It’s that simple. It sounds kind of trivial, and some people are going to say, “What’s he talking about walking more? Walking is something I do all the time.” But for me personally, and I think I’m not alone, just finding the time to walk is quite difficult. I spend a lot of time at a desk, and some of that time is standing. It’s a standing desk. But the rest of the time I spend on my bike because I’m cycling. So I’m also in a seated position. And I’m sure for some people listening, they’re the same. They spend time in the car commuting and then maybe time at work sat at a desk. And when they get home, they probably sit down again.
And the walking just falls off the table quite quickly. And there’s no escaping the fact that humans are upright bipedal organisms that need to move their body in this walking movement. And you just have to do it if you want to be healthy.
John: Are you currently standing up right now?
Christopher: I am actually.
John: Nice. I’ll say that I did the first 400 Entrepreneur on Fire episodes sitting down just because I didn’t really know any better. It had never crossed my mind. But then I started hearing about the standing desks. And it just clicked. I’m like why would I be sitting down? I want to be standing up. I want to have energy. I want to be able to move my arms. I mean, I’m French, and I want to expand the diaphragm and be able to really project into the microphone. And the last 500 episodes now, because I’m at episode 904, have all been standing. And I can’t even picture doing a seated interview now all kind of hunched over and crunched over like that.
And then to your point of walking, I totally agree. It’s something that I saw was way out of my periphery for so long. So now, every day, the first thing I do at 5:20 a.m. is a 35 minute power walk really getting oxygen in as I’m going through. And it’s been a game changer for me. And Christopher, you have a lot of really cool things going on right now. But what’s the one thing that has you most fired up right now?
Christopher: It’s quite a big thing. It’s biochemistry is the one word answer. But just understanding the way in which our body works is just so, so important to everyone. There’s a whole instruction manual out there, and I’m not sure it existed maybe even when most of us went to school. There’s a whole body of information out there that you can learn about how well your body works and how it works, the things that it needs. When you look at each cell, what are the things that each cell needs in order to perform at its best? So if that cell is a neuron, and you’re worried about your focus and maybe brain fog, then what are the nutrients that neurons need to do what a neuron does?
You can go and learn that stuff, and you can help yourself think more clearly. And that, for me, is just so exciting. And I can’t get enough of it.
John: So Christopher, let’s shift our focus now. I want to really start to analyze your entrepreneurial journey. You’ve had the ups. You’ve had the downs. But what I really want you to focus on right now is what you would consider your worst entrepreneurial moment. Take us there to that moment in time and tell us that story.
Christopher: I think it has to be sat at a desk, a hedge fund in Walnut Creek, which is a rather affluent part of California, on a really sunny day. The sun is beating down on the window, and I’m sat there with just the most horrendous brain fog and fatigue. Like, I can’t even think straight. I can’t even look at the monitor for long enough to write any code or do anything productive. And I’m just so tired. All I really want to do is crawl underneath the desk and take a nap. It’s the only thing that sounds like a good idea to me. And it always came post lunch. So I’d eat far too many carbohydrates, particularly refined carbohydrates for lunch.
And then this cloud would descend on me. And at first, I didn’t even really make the connection of what was causing it. And that was the worst moment. And that was the bottom. And I feel like I really had to hit rock bottom before I really started taking this solution seriously or really started searching for the solution seriously.
John: The carbohydrate brain cloud, Christopher, descended upon you every single day. Do something for us right now. What were some of the specific foods you were eating that you feel were really the worst culprits there, and now, what are the foods that you eat that just don’t have anything to do with brain clouds?
Christopher: So the worst way that I knew to start the day was with something like oatmeal. So, just pure carbohydrate, no protein, no fat. You’re on that sugar rollercoaster from the moment you start the day. And it’s a complex carbohydrate, so it’s going to take a little bit longer for those to break down inside your body. But it’s all going to end up as blood sugar in the end. And then you’re on this roller coaster. So 10:00, you’re feeling starving hungry. You can’t wait for lunch. Maybe you’re starting to get a little bit angry, a little bit impatient with your colleagues. And lunch comes around, and maybe it’s a big, fat sandwich and some more carbohydrates and maybe a soda.
Or maybe you figured out that the sugar in the soda is not really the greatest thing, and so you switched over to diet soda, but your brain still gets that sweet taste. And then you get this hump, and maybe you feel better. But then in the afternoon somewhere, you hit this crash again. And then, for me, I would go out and train. So I’d be out on my bike. I wasn’t getting fat. This wasn’t about gaining weight. I stayed lean. But then again, I would come home, and I would just eat more carbohydrate, more pasta, more bread, all this kind of stuff. And it was never ending. And I just wasn’t giving my body what it needs to be as healthy as it can be.
And now, it’s almost the exact opposite. So the mornings now look for me a decent amount of protein like 30 grams. I think that’s 4 ounces of protein. And then something like bone broth. It’s really high fat breakfast. And then lunch is things like canned sardines are great. Really convenient and salad leaves. And then dinner is more high quality, grass fed protein, tons and tons of vegetables, and loads of really good, healthy, saturated fats, which sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s true. Saturated fat is healthy. It’s back. You just need to do some reading. Everybody has been wrong for quite a while.
John: My mentor who I respect more than anybody else in this health and fitness space is Sean Stevenson. He has a great podcast called the Model Health Show. And his word is it’s so wrong that we’ve named fat fat because it just automatically has this bad connotation. It should be called energy because that’s exactly what it is. It is energy for your brain, Fire Nation. So take a big old scoop of ghee and just plop it in your tea in the morning and stir away. That’s some great stuff. And I love how people used to say, “John, oatmeal, it sticks to your ribs.” Like that was a good thing. Sticking to your ribs was a good thing.
Well, it’s also sticking to your love handles and to your booty and to other places that you don’t want it to be sticking to because it is that straight blood sugar. And Christopher, how can we as entrepreneurs expect to work when we’re eating those kinds of foods that are giving us this kind of brain cloud? And I know I just posed that question to you. But obviously, there’s no answer. You can’t. But Fire Nation, that’s what I want you to be thinking about. What are you putting into your body that’s going to be helping you not harming you from creating your best work? And Christopher, let’s do a little bit of a shift. Let’s talk about an ah-ha moment that you’ve had, a light bulb that turned on, about an epiphany.
Obviously, this way that you’ve changed your method of eating is a huge one of those. And you’ve had plenty in many other different areas. So you can choose one that you’ve already talked about, and we can go into more depth, or maybe you have another one in mind. It’s your call. It’s your story. But I want to just stress tell us that story. Take us there.
Christopher: You know, the ah-ha moment for me was understanding that nobody is invested more in my health than I am. So, not your mom, not your wife, not your doctor. Nobody cares about this problem more than you do. And when you understand that, and when you realize that you need to take charge and make an investment in the short term for something that might only yield dividends in the long term, that’s when the magic starts. So that was the ah-ha moment for me. I’d spent so much time in a doctor’s office, and I had great PPO health insurance. But it wasn’t really helping me.
And understanding that I need to take control and actually do the research for myself and find out what tests I needed to do to solve the problems that I had. And the problems, they weren’t that many. If you can get your gut working properly, and you can get your liver working properly, and you can get your hormones balanced, then some really great things are going to happen with your health. But if you let those things slide, then you don’t really know how the symptoms are going to manifest themselves.
So the ah-ha moment for me was if you could get these few things in shape, then things like brain fog and fatigue and insomnia, weight gain or weight loss, all of these myriad of problems that everybody know as being common or even normal, in some cases, you can fix all of those things by just getting just a few things in line.
John: Nobody is invested in your health more than you are, Fire Nation. Think about that. Take control. Start reading the right books. Start listening to the right podcasts. There have been a couple of books that I highly recommend that have come out of late. The Calorie Myth is a great one. I’m not sure if you’ve read that, Christopher. I can guarantee you would love it from what’s coming out of your mouth right now. It’s just phenomenal. It just opens your eyes about this lie that we’ve been hearing for so long about how grains and breads need to be part of your diet for so long. Well, let’s kind of wrap this section up, Christopher.
Why don’t you take us home with your overall epiphany that you had and really what you want our listeners, Fire Nation, to take away just from the cloud clearing, so to speak, in your life.
Christopher: I think it’s really that message that don’t wait until the house is on fire before you call the fire brigade. That’s not a really great way to behave with your health. Make the investment now. It will be worth it, trust me. I know, like most people, they wait until they show symptoms. But the question is how many cells have to go wrong before you start experiencing that as symptoms? There are trillions of cells in our body. And how many of them have to be malfunctioning before you notice that as insomnia or brain fog or weight gain? And the answer could be trillions. You don’t wait until your house is on fire.
Find out this information now and get on it right now.
John: Way to take it home. Fire Nation, I hope you’re absorbing all of this because the time is now. It’s not tomorrow. It’s not next week. It’s not the next time you feel fatigued or tired. It’s truly right now. And Christopher, we’ve still got a lot to talk about today. We’re about to enter what I like to call the lightening round. But before we do, let’s take a minute to thank our sponsors. Christopher, welcome to the lightening round where you get to share incredible resources and mind blowing answers. Sound like a plan?
Christopher: It sounds great.
John: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Christopher: Well, I mean, there’s all the obvious stuff like I’ve been worried that I’m not going to have health insurance anymore. And I’m worried I won’t earn any money and all that kind of stuff that you’ve heard 1,000 times before. But the crucial part for me was not having the right idea. So I’ve wanted to be an entrepreneur and start my own business for as long as I can remember. And I never had the right idea. I never had anything that I was quite this fired up about.
John: I love that answer personally. It’s the exact same one that I had for so long. I knew that I wanted to do something. I just didn’t know what it was. So, Fire Nation, just keep exposing yourself to the right things, to the right podcasts, books, whatever. It will come. And Christopher, what’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Christopher: Focus on the things that you’re good at. So especially in training, in cycling or weight lifting or cross fit or whatever it is that you do, a lot of coaches will say you need to work on the weakest link. For me, I’m an endurance athlete and kind of skinny, maybe a little bit weak in some people’s eyes. And so you could then say well, you need to be lifting weights. You need to be working on your sprints or this kind of stuff. That’s nonsense. There’s no way that I’m going to change my genetics. I’m always going to be kind of a skinny, slow twitch guy. And if I spend my life working on sprint intervals, I’m just going to be miserable. I’m still going to be a half ass sprinter at the end of the day.
And I won’t have any fun doing it. So I think the same is true in starting a business and an entrepreneurship. You want to take the things that you do best and just do those. And everything else, get somebody else to do.
John: So you mentioned cross fit. I have a cross fit joke for you. Are you ready?
John: How can you tell when somebody does cross fit?
Christopher: I don’t know.
John: Don’t worry. They’ll tell you. Christopher, do you have a personal habit that you believe contributes to your success?
Christopher: Definitely. And I think it’s the meditation. And I know we’ve already talked about his, but I talk to the people I work with all the time. And it’s just so important. And the things that I’m realizing are our bodies go wrong, in many cases, because of stress physiology. So people have too much stress. They have work stress, and they have dietary stress that we talked about, financial stress, relationship stress. So you’re never going to escape this. And even if you did, I talk to retired people and the kids have gone to college and, in theory, they have nothing to stress about and yet still, they worry about things like the neighbors are coming over for dinner, and the house is not tidy and that type of thing.
So they just, humans, that’s what they do. They invent stress in the absence of stress. So the only thing you can do is improve your resilience. And the best way I know to improve your resilience to stress is through guided meditation. And it’s been so, so helpful for me personally. And I don’t think – I’m wondering now is it something a skill that you can acquire? And then once you have it, you can use it without practicing it every day. Does that make sense? So like learning to play tennis, and you can put the racket down for six months, but it doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten how to play. It’s the same thing.
John: No, I agree with that. It’s definitely something that I think that is a skill. And the more you go into it, the more I found I needed even less guidance. So when I was on a chair lift just a handful of days ago by myself, I could actually do it without the needing of the guidance. But of course, I always do love going back to improve myself every single day when possible. Christopher, do you have an internet resource like Ever Note that you can share with our listeners?
Christopher: I do. It’s a bit of a techie, nerdy one. So my website is something I built myself, and I still spend quite a lot of time programming. Python is my language of choice. And there’s one cloud computing platform called Heroku that has just been totally revolutionary for me. And it’s kind of technical. So if I make an analogy, people will be able to understand it better. Imagine if you’re like a world class carpenter, and you’d spent the last 20 years assembling your perfect shop that included all of the tools that you would ever want to use when you’re doing your woodworking. But then, you had to scale that.
So you needed to do woodworking in some other part of the world and somewhere else. And there’s no way that you could replicate that shop that you work at home in like quite the same way. And Heroku makes that possible for software engineers. So it gives you your tool as the environment that you’re used to working in away from your desktop computer. And it allows you to scale your website gracefully and effortlessly as the traffic grows. So it’s just an amazing tool. So if you’re not technical, maybe you could take this information, and if a developer comes to you and says, “Hey, we’re going to use Heroku to use this,” you’re like, okay, game on. It sounds good.
John: I love the analogy. Christopher, what’s one book that you would recommend for our listeners and why?
Christopher: I think it would be – I’m going to stick with the computer science. I mean, I’m sure you know lots of health and fitness books. There are so many great ones out there. But I’m going to talk about Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham because I think it’s a bit more appropriate for the entrepreneurial world. And it’s a book about people that love computers. And that sounds kind of weird. But we live in a computer age. It’s like everything round us is now a computer. And in a couple of months’ time, the Apple watch will be out. And then even your wrist watch is a computer. So these people, the computer programmers, they own you. They control.
They define your world. And the thing that makes them unique is they don’t think like other people. They’re not motivated by the same things. So that’s where the word hacker comes from. They’re not motivated by money. They’re motivated by the love of what they do. And so, you need to understand that when you’re working with these people. If you’re hiring a developer to build your website or to build you some new feature, you need to know how that person is thinking. You can’t just throw more money at that guy and expect him to perform better because he won’t. If he’s good, he’ll be motivated by other things.
Hackers and Painters, I think, is a really great book for understanding how computer programmers think.
John: Well, Fire Nation, I know that you love audio. So I teamed up with Audible. And if you haven’t already, you can get an amazing audio book for free at eofirebook.com. And Christopher, this next question is the last of the lightening round, but it’s a doozy. Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world identical to earth, but you knew no one. You still have all the experience and knowledge you currently have. Your food and shelter, taken care of. But all you have is a laptop and $500.00. What would you do in the next seven days?
Christopher: I would start a podcast, and then I’d start networking. So when I start – I have my own podcast. It’s the Nourish, Balance, Thrive podcast. And when I started it, I thought it was all about creating content. I thought if I build this content, people will come, and they’ll read it, and they’ll listen to it. And that will bring traffic. But I understand now that the true value of the podcasting is meeting the people that have been on the podcast. So I’ve had experts from all over the world talk about nutrition and physiology and biochemistry, all kinds of things that are really fascinating to me. And people love that stuff.
But what I have now, and I realize, is this network of people that I can ask questions. And not only that, you get to spend an hour with the world’s leading expert on some obscure part of physiology that otherwise you would have no access to at all. I couldn’t just get the world’s leading expert on something to give me a one hour coaching lesson, a little educational piece, one on one for no money. It’s an amazing thing. And then those people are just like your network. It’s incredible. The networking thing I think is huge for building a new business. It’s just all about who you know.
John: Unbelievable. And Fire Nation, he is sharing the exact reason that podcasting is so powerful and absolutely the network, the relationships you build, priceless. Christopher, let’s end today on fire with you sharing one parting piece of guidance, the best way we can connect with you, then we’ll say good bye.
Christopher: It’s look after yourself. Think about your diet and your rest and your exercise and your stress reduction. These things are crucial to your longevity and your performance and your health. And you’ve really got to take care of that stuff. And it gets complicated kind of fast. So if you need help with it, then find someone like me that’s really passionate and educated and has connections. And I can help you with that stuff. So nourishbalancethrive.com, I can do a free consultation for you. We can figure out what’s going on for you. We can use the labs to do that. And I get great results every time.
John: Fire Nation, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You’ve been hanging out with Christopher and JLD today. So keep up the heat, and head over to eofire.com. Type Christopher in the search bar. His show notes page will pop right up with everything that we’ve been talking about. His recommended book, resources, of course, his podcast, Nourish, Balance, Thrive podcast. His website is right there, too, by the same name. Get that free consultation. What more can you ask for?
And Christopher, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. And for that, we salute you, and we’ll catch you on the flipside.
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