July 19, 2014
[00:00] About JJ Virgin
[05:13] What JJ Does For Exercise
[09:26] Exercises & Diets
[16:12] Relating Reps & Weight
[19:57] Why Exercise Isn't That Important
[28:09] JJ's Stress Techniques
[36:05] JJ's Skin Care Products
[41:42] JJ's Books
[44:08] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey folks, I first met today's podcast guest at a health conference where I was sitting at a table, and I looked at a person who was sitting in a chair to my left, I think it was… and then I did the double take because I realized that this woman sitting next to me had some of the most impressively toned arms and legs that I've ever seen in my life. I was even more shocked when I started talking to her and found out how she actually exercises and what she does to keep herself in such good shape. So in today's podcast, she's going to spill the beans on how she gets such amazing arms and legs and also why exercise may be a little less important than you might think, but you may have heard my guest before because she's pretty well known in health and nutrition, and her name is JJ Virgin. She's the author of among many other books, which I'll link to for you in the show notes over on Amazon. “The Virgin Diet” and some other things that she'll be able to tell you about today, but JJ, thanks for coming on the call.
JJ: Oh my pleasure.
Ben: So I guess let's just jump right in, well first of all, I'll let people know. If you want to see a picture of JJ, I will put a link over in the show notes. You can go access them at bengreenfieldfitness.com/jj, but my first question for you JJ is have you always been this fit?
JJ: So you know I just love you when I ask questions like this. I mean it'd be impossible to deal with the rest of the day. So here's the cool answer to this, and I don't know if you know how old I am, and I actually use it as a marketing opportunity because I'm fifty-one.
Ben: No way.
JJ: Yes. I actually said that I was on Onnit doing a PDF Pledge Drive, and the host was like, “No way!” I go yes, but interesting is I'm fitter at fifty than I was in my twenties and thirties, when I worked out four times longer and was counting every calorie, and everything was a struggle and hard, and I'm like “What the heck?”
Ben: So you were into fitness back in the day?
JJ: I've actually never had a time in my life when I haven't been into exercise, sports forever. I mean I remember being five in a dance class, but really. I started teaching calisthenics, this is how I date myself in my teens, and then I paved my way through college as an aerobics instructor. I became one of the first personal trainers in the country. It was me and Body By Jake.
Ben: Was that when you had leotards and the biggest we saw?
JJ: I learned those. I will admit to this, I asked for those horrible leg warmers.
Ben: Now I'm going to find another picture.
JJ: Thank god there were no camera fans back then, literally. I do have a couple of them 'cause I actually went to Japan and was one of the people who helped bring aerobics to Japan with a sports connection, and I have the picture of me in my leg warmers and my tights and my leotard, yikes.
Ben: So you were into fitness, but you say that you feel like you're more fit now? What do you say to that?
JJ: Oh I know I'm more fit now because I dialed it all in. I mean it's not one of the things. You look at this, and exercise, it's a drug. Just like I like to say food is information, so is exercise, and it can be totally therapeutic, amazing or it can be disruptive, and it all depends on the dose, and back then I was in the more-is-better phase, you know? I remember I celebrated my thirtieth birthday, I ran the four-street stairs in Santa Monica, then I went and played beach volleyball and then I went and roller bladed some insane amount, like thirty miles, and then I went and had a bunch of beer and sake and sushi. I did the whole thing, but I used to just to so much exercise, and it's interesting because now I do a fraction of it, but I know I'm fitter. I mean I'm ripped, I'm leaner. It's effortless, which is the coolest thing. The stuff I'm able to do is crazy, you know? Let's go to the gym. I go “You sure? You want to do that?” Okay.
Ben: Yeah, so what do your workouts look like right now? What are you doing that's so much different than what you used to do?
JJ: Well unfortunately back when I was in graduate in doctoral school, everything was about eating a low-fat, high-carb, vegetarian diet and doing loads of cardio, and it was interesting because as I dug into the research doing my graduate work, I went well, wait a minute. This doesn't make any sense if you follow the science, right? That's when I did my big flip over and started doing, I thought it's really all about holding onto and building muscle and doing intense exercise, but none of the teachers were teaching that. Everyone was dialed into this. If you couldn't work out, and I don't know if you have ever heard of this, it really was the undoing of all of us. If you couldn't work out for at least thirty minutes, don't bother working out. All because you won't get into fat burning. I'm like you burn fat when you're sitting on your butt. You shouldn't be burning fat when you're exercising. You should be burning sugar 'cause you're working out so darn hard.
So now, here's the first thing, and I don't want to discourage someone who hasn't done anything from going oh my gosh, I'm going to have to kill myself here because the cool thing about intensity is the harder you work out, the less you have to do, and it's totally relative to your fitness level. For some people getting in and out of the chair ten times might be their burst, but the first thing I tell people to do is just to move more. Like I have this really fabulous little dog who is so smart and pretty, and so I take her for walks. SO that's my move more, but that is not exercise. This idea that you should be waking for exercise is ridiculous. We're supposed to move, we should to be moving an hour a day, and some of that will actually be exercise, but a lot of it won't. So the park-farther way, walk-the-dog, take-the-stairs, yes. Wear a pedometer of some sort and track this and get in an hour of movement a day.
Ben: Yeah, and I think at that particular conference that I was talking about, I think you were one of the people in the room who, like me, was spending half the time standing instead of sitting?
JJ: Yes, oh my gosh. I know, I was like pacing around because I can't stand sitting, and even when I'm doing a lot of my interviews, I will slap a headset on and pace around 'cause we sit too much. So the first thing is just to move more, but again. It doesn't count as exercise. For me, it's very easy to decide something as exercise. You must get hot, you must sweat, and it should hurt a bit.
Ben: Okay, so what would like a sample routine look like for you, if you were to wander into a gym or your home gym or whatever?
JJ: Yeah, so I have a home gym, I travel all the time and I belong to a gym 'cause I like to mix the ones. If I remember at one time, it was belonging to four gyms. I went, “This is just insane, stop it,” but I like to have a lot of variety and I like to keep things fun. So this last week, I've been travelling. So I ran the stairs, one of my favorite things to do when I travel, I'm in a hotel that's twenty stories or higher is I do the stairs.
Ben: Right, that's one of my fall backs too, except I have a twist. I have to stop it every landing and do some kind of a body weight exercise.
JJ: Oh that's so good. I mean that kind of thing, if you go to one of those hotels where they say they have a fitness room which translates into we have a broken treadmill, you can now run the stairs and do. Yeah you can do, I was at one where we were then lunging down the hallways and doing clinometric and then you can do some push-ups and dips, and there's all sorts of cool stuff that you can do. So you can easily get a workout in when you travel, even if there is no gym. As long as there's some stairs, somewhere, you got it made.
Ben: But for you, like you're cool with doing fifteen minutes of pure, basically like sugar burning and glycolytic-type of activity?
JJ: Oh that's what I tell people to do. I don't do endurance training at all. I do not do any endurance training. I walk the dog. I mean to me, if you're going to do walking, do it moderate. It's not for exercise, all your exercise should be short burst, hard. Whether its weight training or total burst out training, and that's what I do. Like yesterday I did some leg stuff, so I did lunges and squats and Pleiades and step-ups and leg presses, and then I did bursts on a stair master and an exciser.
Ben: Okay, now are you lifting heavy or do you do higher-rep, low resistance or high resistance low-rep?
JJ: I switch it all around, so if I'm starting someone out, I'm going to tell them to work on the eight to twelve range of hypertrophy and the first time they do it, do it one step but move quickly into three to four sets of the heaviest weight they can handle in good form, but once you've gotten used to doing this. You got to change this thing around, and so I switch off between three different phases. One is really, you've got a sophisticated audience, so neural adaptation, and it's the power phase. So it's three to six reps. When I was doing my graduate work, three times six. I was trying to find the best place to really build strength, and it was three sets of six. So I do three to six reps, heaviest weight I can handle. Then I will move, my default's always three to four sets of eight to twelve reps with the sixty second rest break, and then I also like to move into my longer. I'll do two sets of fifteen, twenty, twenty-five reps, and I'm always moving around and changing it up, but truthfully for me, I'm kind of at a point where I do a lot of TV and I sort of have to watch 'cause I could go. I love lifting weight 'cause you can tell exactly what you're doing and once you're measuring, you're proving I got stronger, but I also have to watch how much I am lifting so that I don't get too much teary, but that's the great thing. And especially for women because I remember way back when I first started really personal training women in the gym and I was working them out at Venice Gold's Gym. Have you ever been there?
Ben: Do you mean the one that's outside?
JJ: No, no, the one that's inside. It's four warehouses, it is a trip. I used to take clients on field trips there, but women were always afraid of getting big. I'm like women don't, unless you're going to start eating like a truck driver. When you have muscle, it holds everything in tighter, and then it's going to make you more insulin sensitive, so you can burn more fat and then it's going to boost your metabolism so you burn more calories all day long. Plus you're burning up your fat-storing enzymes when you exercise. So everything's guiding you to burning more fat and boosting your metabolism, you will get leaner and fitter and tighter if you work out. So that's the big thing I want to emphasize here is for women, if you're hearing this gal, I want to lift weights and I want to get bigger, it doesn't happen, and you can really control how ripped and lean you want to get. I mean it's like if you say okay, I'm kind of where I want to be, it's easy enough to maintain it, right?
Ben: Right, and do you think that a big part, to me it seems like a lot of people who tend to bulk up when they are lifting heavy, especially women. Like a big, big part of it is basically eating a very, very large number of calories.
JJ: Diet, and it's actually eating the wrong calories. Again just like exercise is information, food is information, and it is so interesting. Back in the day, I was in doctoral school in exercise physiology, and at some time I went you know, you cannot exercise enough to compensate for a poor diet, and when you do diet correctly and put it with exercise, the results are crazy, crazy, but there are simple things you can do when you're working out that can just crash your results. Like let's say you go to the gym and work out and then you go out and have one of those juice smoothies with all these fructose. Well you just blocked fat burning, you know? It's terrible.
Ben: Right, exactly. The giant, twenty-four-ounce Jamba Juice.
JJ: Yeah, I was going to say Jamba Juice and I thought it.
Ben: I can say it with the extra energy shot thrown in.
JJ: Yeah perfect, but here's the one, Ben, that blew my mind. You know everything right now, I'm working on my next book coming out, “Sugar Impact Diet” so my nose is into everything sugar and how we're hiding sugar and how we're really duping people and Green Machines is, which brand is that? Anyway, it's called Green Machine, fifty-six grams of sugar in that sucker, and you look at the Jamba Juices and the light Jamba Juices are like forty grams of sugar, you know. I mean you wouldn't go work out and then have a Coke, but that's what you're doing.
Ben: Yup, exactly, and the problem is a lot of that is fructose-based sugar, and so unless you're running on pure empty, most of that is getting converted into fats.
JJ: Yeah, you would. I mean there's just not enough room in the liver to stir all that fructose, and the more fructose you have, the better your body gets at transporting it into fat. So it just gets better and better at making fat. I don't want my body to be really good at making fat. That's not a skill set I want to have.
Ben: Yeah and I think a lot of people don't realize I mean post-workout, fructose doesn't very efficiently get converted into muscle glycogen. I mean white rice or sweet potatoes might, but yeah. Green Machines and Jamba Juices are kind of bad news bearers for post-workout.
JJ: Yeah, they're kind of the worst. It's the single worst time you could have fructose. It's after a workout, the single worst, worst time. So there's really not, I mean I'm not going to say any great time is a great time to go hit yourself with a bunch of fructose. And even fruit, you know? I think we have to be careful with it. It drives me crazy that we've got this food recommendation by the American Dietetics and Diabetics Association. I've been trending of who did this with the new my plate where they say you should have five servings of fruits and vegetables, and I'm thinking well. A banana is not the same as broccoli, and broccoli's not the same as a potato, but if you say five servings of fruits and vegetables, the average person's going to go cool. I'm going to have some apple juice, a banana, some French fries, ketchup, you know? I got this one covered, right?
Ben: Yup, exactly. Now I mean when it comes to fruit, I would say the two times that you might be able to get away with the fructose-based sugars would be you wake up in the morning, your liver glycogen stores are empty, and maybe you could put a little bit of banana in your smoothie or something like that, and then the other time, and I tell this to athletes is you've got different sugar transporters in your gut. So if you're say, like an endurance athlete out doing a really long session, which we just got done talking about, is not a good way to tone your arms and legs, right?
JJ: No, it's a great way to flab out your arms and legs.
Ben: Yeah, you can use different sugar transporters like fructose and maltodextrin and stuff like that, but that's for the Ironman triathletes out there. So you know I want to get into some of these other ways that you found apart from exercise to be able to really tone your arms and legs better, but just really quickly. You talked about lifting heavy weight, and you mentioned throwing curve balls at your body and shifting between doing high reps and low weight and high weight and low reps, but when you're doing things like three to six reps or six to eight reps, what kind of exercises are you doing?
JJ: So I very rarely do what I call vanity exercises, bicep curls or tricep extension, and it's so funny 'cause people will go oh, you must to a lot. First of all they think you must work out a lot. I'm like no, actually no, and then they go you must do a lot of arm exercises, and they go really? No, I have divided the body into four segments 'cause it never made sense to me to see people doing back and bis one day, and shoulders and tris the next 'cause you already got the shoulders the day before. So what I divide it into is upper body pushing, and here are my big power moves. You want to do as unstable an environment as possible in anything that you do. So standing rather than sitting. You know we're too bolted to the floor, sitting on a ball, lifting the foot up, doing free-weights or cables. I rarely use machines. So upper body pushing would be things like push-ups with veering angles and alternating arms and feet on the ball, that kind of thing, and then overhead presses, dips. Those are my favorite. Maybe a chest press off a ball, those are my favorite types of upper body pushing.
So that's using chest, shoulders, triceps, and then upper body pulling or things like pull-ups and bent-over rows and one-arm rows and upright rows and cable rows, and then hips and thighs. The only thing that I do, and again 'cause I had. I tore my ACL when I was on point ballet at seventeen which is so silly 'cause I'm six feet tall, as you know. So the idea that they put me on point, I wanted to do it 'cause it was such a strength move, but kind of stupid. Anyway, so I had a total knee replacement 'cause it was ridiculous. I put it off for so long. So the only thing that I do that's kind of a single lever thing is I do leg curls, and I think leg curls are a great thing to do, but for hips and thighs, lunges, squats, step-ups, Smith squats, ball wall squats, Pleiades, and then I will do leg curls, or I like to do using the ball where you elevate the hips and do ball pull-in and it's great for hamstrings and glutes.
Ben: So you're not using a body building approach at all, of like stacking different forms of bicep curls or different forms of tricep extensions and stuff like that.
JJ: Honestly, every once in a while I throw in what I call a vanity trio which is some triceps, biceps and a diagonal raise for shoulders, but I really do very, very little about it. I do all big movements, I don't do any of the stacking like five different exercises for biceps. It's amazing that even once a month, I did a bicep exercises. Because I'm doing pull-ups and I'm doing bent-over rows. I'm doing everything that involves that, but it's going to get my metabolism kicked way more, use my core, you know? The best core exercise, although of course one of my body ones is power core, but let's face it. The best core exercises are squats and bent-over rows and pull-ups and push-ups. Those are core exercises because if you don't engage your core, you're going to fall over.
Ben: Yeah, exactly. Interesting, so you've got this exercise system set-up, but I really suspect from the things that I see you write and talking to you and from your books that exercise is probably not the top of the totem pole for your arms, legs and body in general. So what would you say? I mean you've talked a little bit about food and moving more, but what are the thing would you say are kind of neglected when it comes to going after, getting amazing arms, legs or toning your body?
JJ: So really how your body looks, your fitness is really just going to be a symptom of how you're taking care of yourself, and the top needle-mover for looking and feeling better is really going to be how you eat, and the information out there, the general information of the public is just so twisted and wrong that makes me insane because it has people snacking all day long and eating this high-processed carb diet, so it doesn't make any sense. One of the most important things that we neglect is the whole idea of restoration and recovery, and central to that is sleep. And if I had to pick one thing that people walked out with and said, “I'm going to do that,” that would change everything else, it would be to focus on sleep 'cause I find so many people steal from sleep and they say, “What's the least I can have?” In reality, what you should do is allow yourself for a week to wake up just to go get yourself in bed at a normal time 'cause we need to sleep during the circadian rhythm.
So go to bed, power down an hour before sleep. Go to bed between ten and eleven, see what time you wake up 'cause you should wake up without an alarm feeling refreshed, and you shouldn't be aware of waking up throughout the night, and do that for a week and you'll say, “Wow I need X amount of sleep. Like I know I do best around eight, eight-and-a-half hours of sleep, and when I get less than that like the average of seven to nine hours, but if I sleep seven I start feeling bad. I can't get away with it,” and when you are a short sleeper, when you are not getting what you need. You are more insulin resistant, your cortisol is higher, you've got ghrelin elevated and you've got, with the stress hormones, you're also going to get serotonin and dopamine down. The whole takeaway from all of that is that you're going to end up hungrier, better at storing fat, especially around your waistline, under stress which means you're breaking it down at muscle, craving more sugar because your serotonin’s up higher. So you could be working out great, but if you cannot access for your anabolic hormones because you're under stress and you aren't giving your body time to repair and recover because sleep's when you really should be raising your growth hormone, you've got a problem. Right, so and then you're not going to have it work out either.
Ben: I'm curious for you, for sleep, 'cause you're obviously a successful person from a career standpoint and you're travelling and you've got a lot on your plate. Do you have specific things that you do to help you sleep better, especially when you're stressed out or when you're travelling?
JJ: I have a total sleep strategy, and no matter where I am 'cause half the time I'm on the road, I follow the same thing is that I have about an hour before bed, it is power down time. The biggest thing that you can do to create problems for yourself is to like look at e-mail before bed because it never fails. It's like something you can't do nothing about but now is going to stress you out, right?
Ben: That one e-mail always shows up that you really weren't planning on.
JJ: Exactly, but the other thing is when you're looking at light like that, it also fires up your neurons. So no iPads, no cellphones, none of that, a technology-free bedroom. Cover any lights like your alarm clock. If you have one, it should be down low. Hopefully you don't even use one, and then I have a routine that I do and it doesn't matter where I am. I have that routine of powering it down, taking a bath, preparing for my, do my writing step for the next day and my intentioning for the next day.
Ben: So you find that a bath helps quite a bit with sleep, like when you're travelling?
JJ: Hugely, yeah because when you hear your body up, one of the things that happens is you sleep is you cool down. I bring the temperature down in the room, I take the hot bath and then it helps me cool down, accelerate my cool down. I also take some Magnesium, I take some Gabba and Theanine, so I take a bunch of what I call, and we’re actually coming out with something called sleep candy. A bunch of nutrients that help with sleep. It's perfect for sugar isn't it? And this is one of the big things. I read a good but not great book because if I get into a great book, I will absolutely stay up all night and read it, but if it's a good book, I read a couple of pages and I'm like done, and I go to sleep and that's it, wherever I am. And I've also been careful about 'cause I'm not a good time zone changer, so if I have to get up somewhere for a conference, if I'm going back east and the conference starts at nine, I generally come in a day early, and I start switching my time zones at home. So I'll start getting up a little earlier at home 'cause otherwise, I'll just be wrecked.
Ben: Yeah, those are great tips. Okay, cool. So we got sleep, what else?
JJ: Well sleep, I mean you brought it up when you said sleep, you said stress and of course it's so clear because one of the biggest keys of stress is having poor sleep is obviously a stressor to the body, but when you're stressed, you also have poor sleep so it's a catch-22, but you know? I think one of the biggest things that exercise does is a core benefit, and when I say that, it's not endurance training 'cause endurance training actually creates more stress on your body, but when you do high intensity interval training, burst training and resistance training which is just a form of burst training, really. You teach your body how to handle stress better, you know? You're going to stress then recover, stress then recover, and really when you look at the most successful people in life, whether that's the success of raising an awesome family or having a huge career, whatever that success is, there are people who have higher stress resilience, higher stress tolerance 'cause I've seen people at such a mental game, you know? They get so stressed out about something, and I'm like a year and a half ago, my son was run down by a car and left for dead in the street and I'm the sole financial support of my family, and I had a huge book launching from the ICU that I did as a New York Times best seller. To me, once you go through that, people talk about some of their stress bouts, and I go that is no big deal. No one's in a coma, no one's dying. It's all fine, you can handle.
Ben: Obviously that's a pretty big part of your story, and it's such an amazing story. Which one of your books would somebody be able to read about that story?
JJ: Actually that will be a book at some point. I'm going to write my book with my son. He's been on Sanjay Gupta's show on CNN. Of course people are like, “You know you shouldn't talk about this. People will think it's some kind of miracle.” I'm like, “Well it is.” Get fish oil in your kid is the takeaway, right away, and he's about to be on the doctor's show, depending on when this airs. July 17, he'll be on the doctor's and Joe Mercola did a thing on him.
Ben: Okay, I'll find some resources.
JJ: Find them, there's a bunch out there, and then we did the grantvirgin.com 'cause everyone wanted to know. I think the real takeaway for that to take away for all of us is take responsibility for your health. Give them knowledge, get the network and don't accept what someone says to you because they told me to let my son die, and that's an extreme example, but every day we have situations where people say, “Oh, you'll never be able to do X again,” right? Or you just have to accept you're just getting older, so you're going to have headaches and gas and bloating and more body fat. It's like BS, don't listen, right?
Ben: Yeah, I hear you. I found the CNN story too, so I'm going to put this on the show notes for people. When it comes to stress, you talked about some of the things you do for sleep. Do you have a few little tricks that you use to decrease stress when you know you're kind of under a lot of it?
JJ: Yeah, when sometimes you feel like you want to crawl out of your body, yes. I know we all get those, oh my gosh. It's brutal. There's a couple that work really well for me. Music works really well for me. It's just a mood shift immediately. So music is one that I use a lot. If I am home, I use my dog. What can I say? My dog, you know? It is impossibly stress when some little dog runs up to you with their tail wagging like you were the greatest thing on the planet, right? You know that's for dogs versus cats 'cause my cat will look at me and just blow me off, but the dog is like, “You're home, oh my gosh, you're so great,” right? So the dog absolutely helps, watching something that is just hilarious. YouTube is another biggie, so if you have a favorite comedian, that's great, and then hugs, sounds so corny but I go and grab one of my teenage boys. You have to do a sneak attack on teenage boys.
Ben: Yeah, I know. It makes perfect sense. You get that oxytocin release.
JJ: Exactly, exactly, so all those things really are oxytocin releases. You get them when you pet your dog, you'll get it when you'll laugh, you'll get it when you'll hug, and music for me is such a good way to just break out of that like silly stuff. You know, I mean the other thing is we just had a really stressful business event happen, and I'm looking at them going, “Worse things have happened than this,” you know? It's like I look at it and go, especially with what's happened with Graham. No one's in a coma, no one's dying, I can handle this. I've handled bigger than this, this is all fine, and the other piece really is to have a strong network of friends, even if it's just one or two that are like your lifeline. I think nowadays, we feel so disconnected, and everyone's tending to text or e-mail. It's like pick up a phone and download it to a pal, helps a ton.
Ben: Yeah, interesting. Okay, so I think that just a quick reality check for people, we just talked about music, pets, friends, relationships, snuggling, but we're talking about how to get amazing arms and legs. So these are the things that fly under the radar that I think a lot of people don't think about versus doing another set of bicep curls or tricep extensions, and these are the things that fly under the radar that make a big difference.
JJ: Oh well think about it, if you're stressed out, you're not going to have a great body because when you're stressed out, you are going to raise stress hormones. That's going to impact to impact your thyroid. If your thyroid is not working well, all your anabolic hormones are not going to work well. You cannot build muscle if your thyroid is not working well. Now you're going to lower your testosterone, and you're also not going to have the energy you need to go into the gym. Your blood sugar is going to rise higher, you're going to have higher fasting insulin, plus you're not going to have the energy you should, and you're going to interrupt your sleep which means you're not going to have elevated growth hormones. I mean so if you just run down the cycles and go wow, if I dial in and if I work on, it's not about reducing your stress 'cause in most situations, we probably can't reduce our stress. We can reduce, we can change the way we handle it, and change our perception of it because I believe for stress is a mental event that we are bringing into our body, so it is becoming physiological. It is your perception of it that creates the stress.
So you deal with the stress, you deal with the sleep, you dial in your diet and you work out to the level that you need to create the impact, but it's a lot less than most people are doing. What I see, Ben, is that most people are either exercising too much or not exercising at all. I rarely see people doing, going in there, hitting it hard, and giving your body the recovery it needs. I mean if you train really hard, you shouldn't be able to go back, and you might have to take three days in between that body part, you know? But it's the dose and the restoration and the recovery is more important.
Ben: Yeah, are there any other tips that you'd give people that you think kind of tend to fly under the radar?
JJ: Let's see, tips? Yeah. I think we underestimate the importance of hydration because if you are even mildly dehydrated, I'm talking one or two percent dehydrated, your stress hormones go up. So that's a big one. I also look at just overall nutrients, and you cannot get what you need from your food alone, and so it does become very critical to take just basic. The first thing that we tend to do, we all want to take a great protein supplement or something to help our body burn fat, but in reality your body should be god at all that stuff if you're doing things correctly. So diet comes in key, then making sure if you're thirty or older or under stress that you're taking some good digestive enzymes, most people need help breaking down fat and protein, but they don't need help with breaking down carbs faster. So I use this digestive enzyme that breaks down fat and protein but slows carbohydrate absorption.
Ben: You just take that right before you eat? Do you use that like before every meal, you use an enzyme?
JJ: Every meal, but shakes. I do shakes every single morning for breakfast. I'm currently using a really cool de-fatted beef protein shake that is amazing 'cause I don't use whey at all because whey makes you fat.
Ben: Is the beef one, is that designed for health?
JJ: Yeah, Designs For Health has is, and I've actually worked with them to formulate my own one with other stuff in it, but they have.
Ben: It's a beef protein shake?
JJ: It's de-fatted beef protein.
Ben: Now that doesn't make your smoothie taste like hamburger does it?
JJ: Well yeah, it's kind of like putting a steak in a burger, no it's not. You know what, when I first started it, I went I've got to figure out a way to talk about this for people who won't freak out and stop listening, but it actually tastes like whey protein. It tastes like a milk shake, but it doesn't have all the issues with whey, you know? Whey raises insulin as much as a couple of pieces of white bread, actually more, and so many people react to whey 'cause food intolerance is really my major specialty and umbrella. So I don't recommend whey or egg white protein, oh egg whey protein, horrible, and soy protein if boys lowers testosterone so that makes no sense, and thyroid function. So this is a great way for people who don't want to go the plant-based route, that really want to have a better amino acid profile 'cause it's got the amino acid profile of egg whites. It's an incredible thing, and it does not taste like you just threw a steak into your blender. It's not like a rocky mood.
Ben: Some people think of that when they hear beef protein powder.
JJ: I know, I was trying to find how do we, what do we call this, that we're not saying hey, have my meat shake. You know, clean and animal protein, so that's what it is. But yeah, grass-fed, doing a shake is a great thing and then all the other meals, I make sure to take enzymes. And then another one, of course, obviously good essential fatty acids. I take a lot of Omega-3, it's the reason my son's alive. He had them in before he hit his head 'cause it protects your brain if you do. Hit your head and you never know when you're going to hit your head, and antioxidants are huge because whenever you exercise, obviously endurance training is really bad there because it creates a lot of oxidative stress because you're breathing heavier for a long period of time. But you are going to create some oxidative stress and you are raising stress hormones, some antioxidants can help keep that under control especially vitamin C there for cortisol.
Ben: Now one thing you said about hydration made me think about the importance of hydration for the skin quality, and I'm curious if you use specific skin topples. There are all sorts of thing out there like collagen reducers and skin lighteners and toners and stuff like that. Do you use any of those types of things as far as topical beauty treatments?
JJ: Are you kidding? I'm fifty-one.
Ben: Or if you do one of your favorites?
JJ: It’s so funny, Dave Asprey threw that one at me too. I'm like, “You really just asked this?” Well I'll tell you what for skin, obviously the single most important thing you can do to upgrade skin is get the sugar and the sugar impact 'cause it's not just the sugar. It's really the impact of carbohydrates 'cause all carbohydrates, except for fiber, turn to sugar in your body. So it's really reducing those with fructose being the worst and artificial sweeteners 'cause both of those are very aging substances, and having a good gut, things like fermented foods, probiotics. So you can't ignore diet when you think of having great skin. Obviously you got to be doing loads of the rainbow of non-starchy vegetables, good cultured foods, and a lot of good healthy essential fatty acids. You want to have good moist skin, digest your fats well, and if you want to have great collagen, digest your protein well. So you've got to start there 'cause you could put all the topical crap on in the world, and then you're eating all this sugar, and you're not digesting your protein or fat and forget you'll have rotten skin. That's the bottom line because your skin really is going to show how well you take care of yourself, along with of course stress and getting good night's sleep. Having said that, I'm like the skin care junkie of all time.
JJ: Oh yeah, so I use this collagen mask that comes from Korea that my girl, Dr. Sussane Bennet, imports and called Purigenix.
Ben: Okay, I've read her. She wrote the allergy makeover book?
JJ: Yeah, “The 7-Day Allergy Makeover” I will hook you up with Sussane. You should definitely know about this. It is the most amazing stuff, and I use it.
Ben: And what'd you say it's called?
JJ: It's called Purigenix, P-U-R-I-G-E-N-I-X. I use that, and I actually use a couple of different MLM companies stuff. I use Neurium and I use ageLOCK and I use this crazy spray from this crazy anti-aging scientist that I really have no idea what's in it, but it works really well for all hooked on it.
Ben: I'm opening up this Purigenix, and it's automatically playing. Okay, I'm going to bookmark this one for folks who are listening in, Purigenix. Okay cool, now you said the other one was ageLOCK.
JJ: I use New Skin's ageLOCK. I mean these are MLMs, I'm not kind of an MLM fan, but there's two companies stuffed. Neurium, this Neurium skin care stuff and then AgeLOCK by New Skin, amazing, and then I use Retin A. I mean Retin A works incredible, and then I use this great soap from Thorne, this clay soap from thorn that's great. Literally, I'm such a judge.
Ben: I didn't know Thorne made a soap.
JJ: They do, they bought this skin care line, but it kind of falls under the radar. It's Thorne Organics, and it's this brown clay. And then I use a clarisonic for cleaning, and I know I use some other stuff in there, but those are the biggies that I do.
Ben: Okay, sweet. I just took a bunch of notes for people.
JJ: Oh you know what else I use that I loved is I use, so you know Kevin and Annmarie Gianni?
JJ: Okay, so Annmarie Gianni has got the killer sunscreen 'cause I'm really phobic of most sunscreens, and I think we should get the sun but I use it on my chest. So I use her sunscreen, and then I use.
Ben: What's that one called?
JJ: It's Annmarie's skin care, it's either Annmarie Gianni's skin care or Annmarie skin care, so I use some of her cleansers and toners and then I use some of her scrubs. I have all of her stuff that I throw in my travel bag, and then I use her toner, her cleanser and she's got a coconut oil moisturizer that kicks it.
Ben: That's just incredible.
JJ: So her line's kind of my foundation line. I knew I was like, “I'm forgetting something,” and that's what I was forgetting.
Ben: Okay, cool. I just took a flurry of notes for people. Alright, so if you're listening in, go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/jj, and I'll try and collect this all and get it for you over there. Cool, well this is super helpful, and again like everything from lifting heavy and doing multi-joint exercises versus isolating the arms and legs to de-stressing and sleeping more to having a little dog that you can walk around.
JJ: Or you can have a big dog.
Ben: Or a big dog, yeah. We have a big dog.
JJ: A big dog is a big poop and little dogs are little poops.
JJ: I like to take a little bag with me, not a big one.
Ben: To taking care of your skin, all sorts of stuff that you can do here to get amazing arms and legs, and I'm glad that we were able to kind of tap into JJ's mind to learning this stuff because I've been wanting to ask her this for you guys for a long time. Now you have books, and I know one of your big one's is “The Virgin Diet” JJ, but what would you, like for people who are listening in and really want to get dialed in some of the stuff that we've talked about that maybe you've mentioned. Books, etcetera. What would be the best book of yours that you would recommend people read?
JJ: So I have three books right now, and of course I have sugar impact diet coming out in November that I'm so fired up about, but I actually have a book on arms that talked about stress, sleep, diet, skin because no point in having great arms and then you have funky skin, and the exercise is not six weeks to sleeveless and sexy. A little sleeper book, the first one I did, but I would say is you really need to follow the diet. It sort of should come after “The Virgin Diet” 'cause you should be following the Virgin Diet first. Put this in second, it will give you what to do, but exercise-wise, it really goes into burst-style training which we didn't talk about and then resistance training and which specific exercises to do, complete with the photos. So there's that, and then I also have these 4×4 workouts that I created for people 'cause I got so sick honestly, Ben, of people telling me they didn't have time to work out. I'm like, “Seriously? Make time, fifteen minutes,” and so I created these fifteen minute exercise videos, and what they are is it puts in upper body pushing, upper body pulling, hips and thigh and power core, and then I use the hips and thigh as burst, and then I put in some flexibility at the end, so you just circuit train it and get it all done in fifteen minutes, and those are at JJ's Fit Club, I think it's still the link we're using so you can get those. So that will make it easy 'cause that is one of my pet peeves when people tell me they don't have time to work out, it makes me crazy, right?
Ben: Exactly, that's why I have a pull-up bar installed in the door of my office.
JJ: Yeah, you get and exerciser. I mean I have an exerciser in driving so I throw it in the car.
Ben: Exactly, cool. Alright, well I will take all that down and put it over in the show notes, so head over to bengreenfieldfitness.com/jj to check all this out, and JJ, thanks so much for coming on the call today and sharing this with us.
JJ: Thank you, my pleasure. You threw me the skin curve ball. That was fun.
Ben: Yeah, that was awesome though. I think that was the largest amount of skin tips that we squeezed into two minutes ever on this podcast, so that was perfect. Alright, well cool. Thanks for listening in folks, and until next time. This is Ben Greenfield and JJ Virgin signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com.
That's JJ Virgin pictured above.
I first met JJ at a health conference in New York. I looked at the person seated in the chair to my left, and then I did a double-take as I realized that this woman sitting next to me had some of the most impressively toned arms and legs that I've ever seen in my life.
I was even more shocked when I found out how she exercises.
She's going to spill the beans on how she got such amazing arms and legs in today's podcast, in which you'll also find out why exercise may be less important than you think.
Resources we discuss:
Finally, if you want The Purigenex Intensive Collagen System that JJ talks about in the podcast, it has only been sold to plastic surgeons, doctors and medspas for the past 5 years. But this transdermal collagen mask and serum is being made available exclusively to Ben Greenfield Fitness Subscribers for $300 below the doctor price with FREE overnight shipping! Check it out here. You can also get the Age Reversal Serum she talks about here.
Do you have question about how to get amazing arms and legs, and anything else JJ and I discuss in this podcast? Leave your comments below!