JJ Virgin On The Things You Must Know About Health & Nutrition
Today we are joined by a four-time New York Times best-selling author! She is a prominent TV and media personality, who has been featured as a co-host of TLC’s Freaky Eaters, and has spent years as the on-camera nutritionist for Weight Loss Challenges on Dr. Phil, also appearing on places like PBS, Dr. Oz, Rachael Ray, Access Hollywood, and the TODAY Show.
She is also a successful serial entrepreneur with a number of events, summits, organizations, and an entire line of food and nutrition products with her name on it. I'm talking of course about JJ Virgin.
Now, if you haven't heard of JJ, I have to admit that I find that very strange – but, don't worry, we are going to get you caught up to speed on this woman – or rather, this force of nature in the health and wellness industry.
In the episode, we're going to learn how she got to where she is, as well as all the health recommendations that have made her one of the top thought leaders in the space.
It's an incredible conversation packed with all kinds of insights – I learned a ton – and, as you'll hear, I definitely hit it off with JJ! I'm looking forward to what you all have to say.
In this episode, we discuss:
- What does JJ Virgin do? [3:30]
- Women in entrepreneurship [5:45]
- Where has JJ drawn her motivation and desire to help people from? [6:30]
- What led JJ to focus on the health industry? [8:00]
- The epiphanies that led JJ to understand that traditional health advice does not work [8:55]
- What has caused the current culture of obesity? [12:20]
- The importance of connecting face to face with people [13:30]
- What is the premise of JJ Virgin' philosophy on health and nutrition? [15:00]
- The importance of having alternatives [20:00]
- What is JJ Virgin's view on ‘natural' sweeteners? [25:00]
- Why do we crave sugar? [28:15]
- The right process to get off sugar [29:45]
- What is JJ Virgin's take on fruit? [32:00]
- Why you should be eating resistant starches? [33:50]
- The spices JJ and Jonathan use [36:00]
- A piece of homework from JJ Virgin [36:55]
- Why entrepreneurs need to learn a few things from the corporate world [41:30]
- Teaching as the best form of learning [43:00]
- What are some of JJ Virgin's high-performance habits? [44:10]
- What is JJ's favorite of her own products? [47:45]
- Where can you find more about JJ and her work? [49:00]
- JJ Virgin's final takeaway message [49:20]
- What inspired JJ Virgin's move to Tampa? [50:25]
Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- Mindshare Collaborative
- Our previous episode with Dave Asprey
- The Virgin Diet: Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days by JJ Virgin
- Our previous episode with Mark Hyman
- Designs for Health
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
- Freaky Eaters
The Sugar Impact Diet by J. J. Virgin
- Our previous episode on the Feynman technique
- The 5-Minute Journal
- Our previous episode with Joe Polish
- JJ Virgin's bars
- JJ Virgin's website
- Warrior Mom: 7 Secrets to Bold, Brave Resilience by J. J. Virgin
Favorite Quotes from JJ Virgin:
Introduction: Welcome to the Becoming SuperHuman Podcast. Where we interview extraordinary people to bring you the skills and strategies to overcome the impossible. And now here's your host, Jonathan Levi.
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Greetings, Super friends, and welcome, welcome to a very special episode of the show. You guys, today, we are joined by a four-time New York times, best selling author, she's a prominent TV and media personality who has been featured as a co-host of TLC's freaky eaters, and has spent years as the on-camera nutritionist for weight loss challenges everywhere from Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz to PBS Rachel Ray access Hollywood, and even the today show, she's also a successful serial entrepreneur with a number of events, summits, organizations, and an entire line of food and nutrition products with her name on it, I'm talking of course about JJ Virgin. Now, if you haven't heard of JJ, you've probably been living under a rock, so don't worry. We are going to get, you caught up to speed on this woman who is a force of nature in the health and wellness industry, we're going to learn how she got to where she is and all the health recommendations that have made her one of the top, top thought leaders in the space.
It's an incredible conversation, packed with all kinds of learnings. I learned a ton and as you'll see, I definitely hit it off with JJ and look forward to hearing what you all have to say. So without any further ado, Please enjoy my conversation with JJ Virgin.
JJ Virgin, welcome to the show. How are you my friend?
JJ Virgin: I'm awesome, and you?
Jonathan Levi: I'm doing really, really well. I'm so excited to finally meet, I seem to keep missing you at events and genius network meetings and all kinds of stuff. So I'm really glad we're going to get to know one another.
JJ Virgin: Yeah, even though it's a ways far as away, let's see you're across the world. Maybe one of these days we'll run into each other in person.
Jonathan Levi: I'm quite confident. So JJ, I'm pretty sure everyone in our audience knows all about you and your work, but for the three people out there who don't, and also, because I personally, as someone who does a lot of different stuff, I always wonder someone like yourself, who does a lot of stuff.
How do you explain what you do? Do you identify as an author? An entrepreneur? All of the above?
JJ Virgin: Gosh, that is a good one, you know, it's always like when you're writing down on your passport or something, like, what do you do? And you're like, what do I write down there? Do I just write consultant? And I'd say, you know, when you're sitting next to someone on a plane, the last thing I ever want to do is tell them what I do.
Like I never would tell them their I'm a weight loss coach, cause you're going to end up done for the whole flight. You know, it really depends on the audience cause I have three very distinct businesses, and what is for the consumer obviously, and that's the books and the TV shows and the products and the programs, and that is where I really focus on. I think I was the original biohacker Jonathan, because, you know, 25 years ago I was like going, all right, let's pull foods out and put other foods in and see what works and what doesn't work. So if that's not biohacking, I don't know what is. So there's the first one, all the different things you can do to help you lose weight and feel better fast and deage.
And then from that, I actually, before that, I really was doing practice development for docs, so I have a company that helps doctors, health experts, health influencers create a bigger impact out in the world, and then we have a new one coming up. It was the, I didn't mean to start this business, which is the same thing with Mindshare, it was, I didn't mean to start this business, but I needed it for myself. And so I now have a seven, eight and nine figure women's mastermind club that I didn't mean to start, I started with a friend, but we wanted a place to go. So there you go. Now we have that too. Yeah.
Jonathan Levi: I love that. And there's definitely not nearly enough support groups for women in entrepreneurship. I mean, I was in EO, lotta guys.
JJ Virgin: Yeah, well, it's the stats and you know, here's the thing, I think we should be all together in my mind share community, it's actually 70% women because the statistics in functional medicine are 70% women, but it's, I find having the blend and the balance is better, but there's just certain things that we do differently as women so it was kind of fun, it's fun to go to things like, you know, genius network and mastermind talks and Archangel where there's a good mix or genius hey, there's not a big mix, it's a lot of dudes, women let's face it, but then it's, it's great to have our time just to talk about what's a little different when women approach business cause we have some different things we do.
Jonathan Levi: Absolutely. Now I want to ask you a tough personal question, but I generally find, and I don't know if you've found this with entrepreneurs who have had the kind of impact that you've had, and this has been in my life as well, that the desire to help people comes from a personal struggle.
Is that true in your case?
JJ Virgin: You know, it's interesting. So it's actually, so I'm adopted and what I've discovered that there's two things that I do without it been thinking about it, you know, Dan Sullivan would call it your unique ability. One of them is putting on events. I love having parties and putting on events more than anything but that actually it goes back to the first one and the first one is building community, and I think growing up, I never felt like I really should in with my family. They're fantastic people, but being adopted, I was so different from them and what's kind of funny is when I found my birth parents, I have a father who's a self-made massive entrepreneur and a mother who is a scientist. and I was like, there you go. It is insane how everything just came together. But I think all of these things, the core of all my businesses is community and creating connections. And so I think it was just that deep seated wound, um, film McKiernan says, you know, gosh, I'm going to totally destroy this quote, but it was something about, you know, right next to your greatest wound lies your greatest gift.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah, totally. No, I feel the exact same way and then what drew you to specifically diet and nutrition?
JJ Virgin: I was always very athletic and in the wrong sports for me. I was doing dance, ballet dancing actually kept dancing too and gymnastics, which I'm six feet tall. These are not the right sports for six feet tall. It's like, where was the basketball and volleyball, which I was doing too, but more of point ballet and and gymnastics so, you know, nutrition just fits straight in with that. And I grew up in Berkeley, which was a very health-conscious focused community.
Jonathan Levi: Very cool. Go bears, by the way.
JJ Virgin: Go bears while I was a Bruin so GoPro
Jonathan Levi: fair enough.
JJ Virgin: Yep. There you go. But you know, growing up that way, I was very, very interested in nutrition and health and what could help me be a better athlete. So that was where that all came from. I mean, age 12, that was just what I became obsessed with.
Jonathan Levi: Amazing. And at some point you realized that the traditional diet shocker, the traditional American diet not powering your body, or you were doing a lot of coaching as well and you realized that this was not helping the people that you were coaching. Tell me about that epiphany.
JJ Virgin: You know, I feel so vindicated because uh, time magazine, special had just came out and I bought it and it was the science of weight loss. And literally it's all these things for the last 30 years I've been saying to people, looked at me like I was, you know, at horns, Yeah.
So here's where it came from. I was, it was me body by Jake and Mark Sisson, first couple of personal trainers that I know of anywhere in the world, you know, before then they were coaches, right? And I knew pretty quickly that no one was going to pay me to get worse, but what I was being taught in graduate school, which was eat less exercise mower, you're fat really, really low do loads and loads of aerobics.
Was making, especially the clientele I had, which were men and women that were 35 plus, a lot of the men were 45 plus it was trashing them. And I would go to Gold's gym in Venice, and Gold's gym in Venice, the Mecca of bodybuilding, people looked amazing and they weren't doing any of the things we were learning to do in school.
They weren't doing cardio, they were doing, if anything, they only did high intensity interval training. They did loads of weights, heavy, they didn't need a vegan or vegetarian diet, they ate fat and I'm like, all right, huh? I'm looking at how great they look, I'm looking at how crappy the people following the recommendations look, and the professors teaching it, and I thought, you know, head-scratcher, I'm not going to get paid and be successful if I teach people how to get worse. So I went back into the libraries and in, you know, actually had to go to the library. There was no Google back then. So there wasn't the stacks that UCLA and the biomed library, and lo and behold, we didn't use to recommend this.
We used to recommend low carb, we used to recommend, like, if you look at the Eastern European trainers and you look at any athlete, unless they're a marathon runner, any sports out there, this whole thing is around high intensity interval training. Not long so distance cardio, so I switched it up and I started doing things differently.
And I started talking about how our body isn't chemistry or a bank account. It's a chemistry lab that we have to look at how things, and back then there was no exercise endocrinology, but I knew that something had to be going on that when we lifted weights, all of a sudden it was like, it was changing our interest rate of our body.
We burn more calories, we burn more fat, we were leaner, we didn't lose it if we went away for a week, you know, if you stop doing cardio exercise within a month, you've lost all those shifts. In resistance training that's not the case. So that's where I really started to make the changes I realized that while calories count, it's really where they come from counts more.
Now we know it's not just where they come from, it's also when they come in that counts, right? I think that's some of the most interesting new research is, is not just hacking what you're eating, but hacking when you're eating it. And, uh, You know, it's just, the proof is in the pudding. You can do any research out there and prove just about anything.
But, you know, I was seeing hundreds of clients and then thousands through online and you know, able to prove my hypothesis.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah. I mean, the medicine works. Unlike the medicine that we've been fed for 40 years.
JJ Virgin: Well, clearly, if it worked, we wouldn't have a now, I mean, it is so turn of the century 0.5% obesity now in the us 40% obesity and people like it's our genes. I'm like, well, no, no, no, because it's been a hundred years. Your genes are the same genes. They're same genes. I think they say it's 3% you can blame on genes with obesity, which is really encouraging actually, because that means we've got control. So obviously what's the difference? Well, it's toxins, it's what we're eating, you know, it's this crappy toxic food, but also a lot of the toxins out in the environment and then technology that are just doing a sin, you know, we're not moving, we've got a lot of EMS, we've got a lot of toxins in the food, water, air, everything else, and then we've got just. Terrible food and a stressed out lifestyle and poor sleep.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah, it's everything it's, you know, I think you also have been podcasting for a long time about health and that's kind of the same three or four things. It's like, are you sleeping well? Are you exercising? Are you eating real food? And then one that I'll add that I want to give credit to Rob Wolf for which he added into his book it's also, do you have the social connections that are causing you to be emotionally healthy enough to do the other three sleep well, eat well and exercise.
JJ Virgin: Yeah. So big. That's why, honestly, like everything I do is about building communities and building wheel communities where people actually meet each other face to face, I know that's kind of shocking nowadays, but you know, you can't release oxytocin over the airways.
Jonathan Levi: Totally true. And I've been so inspired by all the events that you and Dave and Joe Polish are doing. And I'm like, man, we need to get our community face to face and actually get people learning from one another in person.
JJ Virgin: And here's the thing I see with all that. I've really flipped the way I do events now, because I realize we can learn anything online now. And it is fantastic, but what we can't do online is create those deep connections that only happen in person. We can't play, you know, so my events always have these elements, things that foster deep connections, things that foster a lot of play so that people really get to know each other, and then they can share ideas and feel that connection, everything else. Sure we put some learning in there too, but that's the least important piece of it, I think the most important piece of it is creating those deep connections and great relationships.
Jonathan Levi: Absolutely. You know, it's, it's like that Maya Angelou quote, people will very quickly forget what you taught them, but they'll never forget how you made them feel.
JJ Virgin: Right.
Jonathan Levi: I love that. So give me the high level, I don't want to ask you to summarize the entire Virgin diet, but give me the high level so I understand, I mean, it's from the sound of it, very similar to a paleo or a caveman type thing. How do you identify the differences?
JJ Virgin: It actually isn't, it's not. You know, it's funny when I wrote that diet, I decided to be totally diagnostic. Now, personally, I loved when my buddy Mark Hyman termed it Piegan I was like, did you trademark that? Oh my gosh. But I loved the idea of, you know, should we be eating? I think we should be eating clean animal protein. And that's the big distinguisher I get so frustrated by the studies that show problems with animal protein when they're looking at factory animals. That's a totally different food. You cannot compare farmed salmon and wild salmon, you know, factory cows with grass fed and finished cows. You can't compare them. They're different foods. So it's just ridiculous but I chose to be diagnostic on this because both the diet books that I wrote are actually, I wouldn't have called them diets, I wish I could've called them journeys. I have a very different philosophy on diets. I think diets should be something that you do short term for a therapeutic outcome to learn something about yourself, to make a change. And then when you do that, you look at what did I learn from this? What do I need to carry into my everyday life?
You bring it into your everyday life, you stabilize your eating plan, and then you go, what do I need to work on next? And you work on, I'm a Gary Keller obsessed person, but you work on one thing at a time because what do we do wrong? We go, Oh my gosh, I'm overweight, I feel like crap, so I'm going to start sleeping better, I'm going to exercise, I'm gonna eat better, I'm going to start meditating, I better drink more water, I'm gonna increase my fiber, I'll take some supplements. You see the ridiculousness of it, right? Instead of just going, all right. Let's work on one thing. I think I have too much sugar in my diet, all focused on that, or I need to start moving I'll start working on exercise. So with the Virgin diet, it purely was built and it can work for a vegan can work for a Pegan, it can work for paleo, it can work even for keto, it's really put together to help you uncover your hidden food intolerances. What I did, and my doctor friends were like, This is ridiculous.
Like all you did was take an elimination diet and make it simple and sexy and I'm like, exactly, that's all I did.
Jonathan Levi: That's why it works.
JJ Virgin: Because I looked at this. What happened was, I was going into doctor's offices I was working with a company called Metametrix and another company called designs for health.
And they put together lab testing that would spit out product recommendations. So I was teaching doctors how to use that in their practice. One of the tasks was a food sensitivity test. And so I got the chance to look at hundreds of food, sensitivity tests, and you know what, success leaves clues the same foods would always show up.
And it was always, the top ones were always dairy and eggs. Always. The next ones were soy, corn and peanuts. Now a different test is gluten, so you couldn't you'd see weakness tests, but you wouldn't see gluten. But I was testing that separately. And obviously, even though sugar, isn't something that you would create a, um, this type of a food intolerance to an IgG food intolerance too, it creates leaky gut because frutose like gluten makes the gut more permeable. And if you, I learned early on, cause I just had six foods at first, gluten dairy, eggs, corn, soy, and peanuts, and I was having people pull those foods out and they were adding sugar in. So I was like, okay, we'll put sugar is one of them long ones too.
But the whole reason I did this was that I saw that those were the most likely offenders, you know, 80, 20 rule, and if we taught people, I used to have them come into the office, do the test, wait three weeks, see the results, pull the foods out. And then I thought, well, this is silly. They need something to do while we're waiting for the test results, which took three weeks.
So I had them pull the foods out after they took the test. And then when they came back, we started challenging back. And then I realized, you know, they actually don't need to do the test at all because they're getting actually better results by being their own health detective by really connecting the dots, which is so important to do is to say, how do I feel when I eat this food?
Does it make me feel better or worse? Do I have energy or is it making me inflamed and tired? And so that is the whole premise is we're own personal health detected. You're going to go through, you're going to look at all of your symptoms, you're going to measure yourself because what you measure and monitor, you can improve, and then you're going to pull these foods out, you're going to swap them for other foods, it was really hard six years ago to swap cause there wasn't a lot of options now there are, but we make simple swaps that most people like better, and then they add in some gut healing foods and things that help heal your gut, like getting rid of stress or at least learning how to manage it.
And then at the end of those three to four weeks, you go back and you test one by one. And what I find is, most people at the end of three to four weeks ago, I don't ever want to eat gluten again. I had no idea what it made me feel like, or I don't ever want to touch dairy again, you know, but now it's a smart decision and it's so empowering because when you just pull a food out, because someone told you so, and you don't have any proof that makes you feel like crap, you're like, Oh, I'll just have a cheat day today. But when, you know, when I eat this, my joints are swollen. I feel crappy for three days. You're like, you know, I mean, if, why would you do that? Now you know, better and you've got better substitutes, so you don't do it.
Jonathan Levi: I love that. And what I love about the whole thing is you emphasize easy as, and also path of least resistance, like if you know what the actual cost of eating that muffin is going to be, it's just easier not to eat the muffin. It's more enjoyable to skip the muffin.
JJ Virgin: Right. Especially if you have some other suggestions that you start to eat, that you go because we're creatures of habit. So if you got up every morning and you went to the coffee place and you got the skim latte, you know, the skim sugar-free latte with the healthy morning muffin and you just, by the way, Doused yourself with sugar and gluten and dairy, right? And all of a sudden you went, Oh, you know what I could have instead? I could have a, an Americano with the little steamed coconut milk. And instead of that, I will just have a little smoothie instead with some bone broth protein. If you did that instead, and you go, I feel so much better. Like this was no big deal.
You know, all of a sudden you've replaced it. If you don't replace it, and I learned this, I was on this show with TLC called freaky eaters, and people would have the weirdest habits like they were totally stuck on one type of food they had been for like 20, 30 years. And what we found is if we did not replace that with something, then they would just get worse.
So you just have to find replacements. You can't just say, Hey, no more of that, have fun, see ya, bye. Right?
Jonathan Levi: It's so true. And you know, as I get older, I've realized just how powerful habit is. I mean, I read power of habit years and years ago, it was like, Oh, okay, cool. But realizing like, if you want to ingrain something, just latching hang onto your existing habits. So I got into the habit, like most people do of drinking coffee in the morning because I like having that bitter with my omelet and I realized I don't want caffeine every morning. Easiest thing in the world is three days a week, I switched to decaf. Maintains the habit, maintains the ritual, maintains the everything, but then I can cycle off of caffeine and think of how many times, you know, I really, really, really like my shrimp with pasta.
So just switching that to zucchini noodles, keeping the habit and keeping the ritual and keeping like you have this sense of normalcy makes such a difference.
JJ Virgin: Yeah. I mean then you kind of go, wait, this is actually better. That's the funniest part is you go, Oh, I like this better. And within a little while, that's generally what happens the first time you might go, Oh, I don't like this as well, but by time three or four, you're like, this is better. It's fine. And you forgot all about it.
Jonathan Levi: Oh, yeah. And I know you're not a big fan of dairy, but when I was on keto, keto pizza is just better than normal pizza because it's like almond flour and all cheese and it's, you know, like what's not.
JJ Virgin: Yeah. It's like, I remember I was in Chicago and we went and got a low carb pizza. They made this low carb pizza with sausage as the crust I kid you not. I was like, Oh my gosh, this is like, it was, this must have been, I don't know. I mean, I don't know how anyone could be more than a tiny little sliver of this pizza, like sausage crust
Jonathan Levi: what's not to love, right?
JJ Virgin: I know! What's not to love sausage crust pizza. Oh my gosh. Like throw some bacon on top and we would have had like, it would have been Nirvana.
Jonathan Levi: Right.
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Now I wanna ask you, because I've been toying with this a lot lately. What's your take on, and you know, some people who are on an all natural diet will happily eat honey or agave nectar, some people will eat Stevia, what's your take on that? Are you anti sweet because of the insulin response or how do you feel about so-called quote unquote natural sweeteners?
JJ Virgin: So what's the difference to your body, if you eat, first of all, agave is horrific. It's highest concentration of fructose, unless you just had Crystalyn fructose and your body fructose makes fat.
It goes straight to the liver, it does cause some intestinal permeability on the way, but the problem is it doesn't raise blood sugar, which sounds awesome until you realize, if you don't raise blood sugar, you don't raise insulin. So your body thinks I didn't have anything, so it doesn't trigger any satiety.
Nope. It beelines down to the liver. And by the way, the more fruit just you eat the better your body gets at doing this so this is problematic too. So there it is in the liver and it's ideally going to. Be transformed into glucose and stored as glycogen, but there's not a lot of space in the liver, which is why we now have an epidemic of fatty liver is all this fruit toast and the idea of going to a health, food store and some things saying it's healthy because it has agave is absolutely criminal. It is garbage it's the worst the very worst of all our artificial sweeteners next up is agave but realize like, what is the difference to your body between say honey and table sugar once it gets into your mouth? The answer is nothing. Nothing at all. Now in honey, if you're getting local, organic, raw unfiltered, honey, and you want to use maybe a half a teaspoon for the homeopathic effect for allergies, hey, okay. But if you're trying to kid yourself saying it's all natural, it's not sugar I literally was at an event last week and Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, and someone says, Oh, I just don't believe it's sugar. I'm like, It's not a belief thing, it's a biochemistry thing. Just look at the label and read the grams of sugar. It doesn't matter what you believe. Like you can believe it's good or bad, but you can't believe it's not sugar because of course it's sugar. Well look at what it is. It's sugar. That's what it is. And so when it gets into your mouth, now it's going to break into glucose and fructose, right? So glucose will go raise blood sugar and trigger insulin and fructose will go create some intestinal permeability, and then go to the liver. That's it. So, you know, you might have the raw sugar, you might have Brown sugar, which is just colored sugar and you have white sugar, but when they get into your mouth, they're all going to start doing the same things. Now, there might be some that are lower in fructose, like coconut sugar, but the bottom line is you want to get these things out of your diet.
There's never a reason to add sugar. Just don't add sugar. Now I will use allulose, which is the non sugar sugar, I'll use Stevia, I'll use xylitol erythritol, I'll use Monkfruit, and my favorites in there would be Monkfruit Stevia allulose but you still need to be careful while these are not going to have the blood sugar and insulin response, they still will pick up your taste buds. And when you eat sweet, you crave sweet. So that's what we're trying to get away. Like, you know, why do we have sugar cravings? Well, number one, sugar is the number one, recreational drug of choice. I stole that from Dr. Mark Hyman. I love that phrase. So that's it it's a drug, we know it. I mean, they gave rats, morphine lit up the pleasure center of their brain, they gave him Oreo cookies did the same, they gave him the choice between the two and they chose the Oreo cookies. It is a drug. I mean, it is a drug, right? So we know that so there's one side of it. We've got the drug part, we've got the genetics of some people.
And when I was on the freaky eaters show, I definitely saw this. There are people who have, cause we tested their genes by the way that have more of a sweet taste or a sweet tooth, the more sweet they eat, the more sweet they want and they crave sugar. And then we get it from stress. If you are under a load of stress, lowering your serotonin, you're going to crave more sugar or we get it because we're insulin resistant and now our body can't get the sugar into the cells and once it gets the sugar into the cells, it can't get it out. So all of a sudden you're eating and you're still hungry and so you're craving sugar. So there's a variety of different reasons that we do this. We can turn it around fairly quickly, but by continuing to eat any kind of sweet, you just keep yourself going, ooh. I'll have more of that. Like you never eat a little bit of sweet and go, okay, I don't want any more of that. That's not how our body's designed. We're hardwired to seek it out so we can survive the famine and, you know, Steph herself with fruit all summer during the long days, when we sleep less, we're more instant resistance. So we can store a bunch of fat so we can live through the winter.
Jonathan Levi: Right. And the, the real kicker, I loved what you said about how we crave more sweet. We recently did an elimination challenge with, uh, our private mastermind and we brought someone in who's an expert with helping people get off of alcohol and they're branching out and the irony is a lot of people came and said, you know, my elimination this month is going to be all sugars and he goes, well, here's the problem is when you eliminate something, the more willpower you exercise, the more you'll crave sweet. So it's this double whammy. Once you've become addicted to sugar, if you try and get off of it, you're going to crave sugar more than you would if it was alcohol or whatever it is.
JJ Virgin: Well, that was the sugar impact diet. After I wrote Virgin diet and I never thought this was going to happen cause I honestly, genetically don't have a sweet tooth and don't really like sugar, I've gotten myself off of it. And once you get off of it, you're like, Ugh. Right? So I get all of these questions after the Virgin diet.
Well, can't I have artificial sweeteners? They've got no calories. I'm like, Oh my gosh. You know, it's like, okay, so we'll slam those can't I have honey? It's all natural. So, then I thought, all right, I need to write a book on this. And the big thing that we do wrong when we're trying to get off sugar is quit it. It's just go cold Turkey. When you're already set up as a sugar burner, you are used to using sugar as a primary fuel source you're eating every couple of hours, you can't lose weight off your waist and then you're going to try to pull it out, your blood sugar is going to crash, you've still got the cravings, so you've got to do a whole tapering and transitioning move while you're retraining your taste buds to have success with this. The worst thing you can ever do is just go, I'm going cold Turkey. If you're going to do that, you really should go over to a place like Betty Ford and Betty Ford cause I used to live in the desert.
Betty Ford, the big alcohol center there has got sugar everywhere, because as they pull you off the alcohol, what did they give you in place of it?
Jonathan Levi: Right?
JJ Virgin: It's ridiculous. God help you if you had give you any supplements. No, no, no. We'll just give you sugar and coffee.
Jonathan Levi: Incredible. So what does that look like?
I mean, what I'm trying to get at is should I stop drinking my Stevia in my coffee? Cause that's really my only guilty pleasure.
JJ Virgin: It depends. I don't think a little sweet is a problem. If it's not triggering you to want more sweet. You know, if it's triggering you to want more sweet, if you had a bad diet, that's one thing.
But if you're having a little bit of Stevia or monk fruit, or allulose in your coffee and it's not triggering anything, then you're fine.
Jonathan Levi: Right, right. And what's your stance on fruit? I assume fruit is okay?
JJ Virgin: It depends, you know, the biggest thing I'll tell you about all food and diets is it depends. Anyone who tells you that there's one diet for everybody is not looking at the research.
I was going to do a podcast rant on why you should be eating breakfast, and I, I was like, but it depends. Some people should, some people shouldn't. So, you know, it's like, you can't ever say there's an absolute and on fruit, if you're insulin resistant, if you've got hypertension, if you're diabetic, I would say no fruit until you fix your metabolism.
And I pull fructose out altogether and the sugar impact diet when you're in your transition place, I have fructose out of the diet because I don't want you to be good at moving fructose quickly to the liver and turning it into fat. And I've got to get the fat out of the liver. I've got to get a decongestant.
Now, if you are insulin sensitive, if you don't have an issue with belly fat, if your blood pressure's normal, if you've got good blood sugar control, a piece of fruit or two a day, fantastic. Not juice that is just unwrapped fruit turned into a soda and not dried fruit, that's just fruit turned into candy, definitely not jams or syrup's, oh my gosh. You know, especially Apple juice concentrate, that's got more fructose than high fructose corn syrup. So don't kid yourself that like, you know, these all natural jams, like jam has just, just sugar. It's just sugar. So we just have to make sure we're eating fruit and I have people put those in their smoothies, you know, I love blueberries and raspberries, all the berries with lots of fiber tend to be my favorite fruit and green bananas because of the resistance starch, which I know most people are like the super ripe bananas. But if you actually get greener bananas and freeze them and put a little bit into your smoothie, you can bump up the resistant starch in your smoothie, which is kind of cool.
Jonathan Levi: Really interesting. I haven't heard that trick before.
JJ Virgin: Yeah, so it was interesting. I'm just redoing the sugar impact diet now for our online program and changing some of my recommendations as to where I classified foods and if you take potatoes and I learned this from my buddy, Dr. Alan Christianson, and then I did a segment on Dr. Oz where potatoes are the new diet food. And if you take potatoes, boil them and cool them down, you elevate the resistant starch in them. And Greenup bananas have this too, you know, this, the ripening and it gets the more sugar, isn't it? And then same with any fruit. And then of course, lagoons have it, and oatmeal has it if you're doing oats, of course, you've got to make sure you're getting gluten free ones. And I tend to stay away from grains in general, but when you're eating resistant starch, it basically resists digestion, and it can improve transit time and increases your bulk of your stool, it helps with blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity, it helps with satiety. It improves thermogenesis, improves fat burning and improves mineral absorption, improves your immune system, it's used by the gut microbiome as food, and it produces short chain fatty acids to help you burn fat. I mean, it's like this amazing stuff.
Jonathan Levi: Wow.
JJ Virgin: Yeah.
Jonathan Levi: I had no idea.
JJ Virgin: There you go, my work is done here.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah. I mean,
JJ Virgin: Now, I hate boiled potatoes. So, you know, personally, I don't really like boiled potatoes, although we just made a, my son was over, who is so funny. He's, he's a Bulletproof inspired athlete. He's really close buddies with, you know, Dave Asprey's walk my mom down the aisle at my wedding. So Dave's price goes over to Dave and Lana's house since close buddies with them, but he made a very cool little casserole for super bowl sunday with grassfed beef, it was like a Shepherd's pie, but with Yukon gold potatoes and just a ridiculous amount of grass fed butter. I'm like honey, but we let it cool down, right? So we ate it cold so we'd have the resistant starch, but that's the only way I really liked boiled potatoes. Otherwise they're kind of gross.
I personally roast to them and then I just let them cool and I eat them that way. They're yummier.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah. I'm the same way. Little roasting, little paprika does the job.
JJ Virgin: Right? Yum yum lot of sea salt.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah. So good. So good. My sister-in-law makes the best. I mean, just the paprika, salt, pepper, you really don't need more than that.
JJ Virgin: No, you don't. I mean, that's the thing when you get your taste buds back, when you haven't dulled them down with all the crappy sugar, you really realize that, you know, grassfed gee and sea salt and a couple other spices I love Rosemary. Just, that's all you need. You don't need a bunch more than that. My son would argue garlic, but you know, that's it.
Jonathan Levi: There's a saying in German, garlic and onions are good in everything.
Says the little girl, as she cuts them into her hot chocolate,
JJ Virgin: Oh.
Jonathan Levi: Now, JJ, it would be remiss if I didn't ask you about all your other superhuman things, because I generally find that people who think as much about health and living a life of quality, always have some really good hacks. So, first thing I want to ask you is on this show, we love to assign homework. Is there any homework that you would like to assign for our listeners to do before next week's episode?
JJ Virgin: Ooh, homework. I really believe that we should focus on making a decision to make one change and only one change. I think the biggest mistake that we make in life and business and everything is we just try to take on too much stuff at once and I'm talking to entrepreneurs, I do it, we all do it. Like I have to carry around a little journal where I write down all my ideas and they're now not now, not ever.
Because some of them are fantastic ideas I should never, ever do.
Jonathan Levi: Right.
JJ Virgin: Ever. Right? And some are great ideas and maybe in 10 years, I'll want to do them and some, I need to incorporate into what I'm doing now. So what I would recommend is I just did a dump of a ton of stuff. And as you're listening, you know, the thing that you stood out and went, Oh, I should really be doing that.
And just pick the one thing and put it into your journal and make that decision that you're just going to get that thing going and not just for a week, like that is going to become a thing that you do and that might take you this whole idea it takes 21 days to instill a habit, you know, that great urban legend of well, it may take 21 minutes, but it probably takes more like four months, you know, whatever it takes. I find the best way to really get those habits into place is just to keep journaling about them so they're front of mind every single day that I'm doing them. Right? So whatever it is, like one habit that I think is very important that I never used to recommend and it makes so much sense now. Back when I was starting out as a trainer, I used to take people's scales out of their house and I only would let them weigh in when I came in and you're only allowed to weigh in once a week and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Well, the research shows the exact opposite though when you weigh in every single day, you tend to maintain your weight better. And it seems so obvious. It's like the big duh now, because a lot of damage can happen in a week. So that's one, I would say that's one that I instilled as a habit that just now is one that I do every day so whether it's adding resistance starch, it's cutting, starting to work on getting your sugar out. Sugar impact diet is figuring out your food intolerances, it's adding more water in it's working on your sleep, like pick the thing and just make that decision that you're going to own that and tell you really have it as part of your life, because it's the thing you do, right?
It's that one thing over time that will make such a big shift and then you do the next.
Jonathan Levi: I totally love that. And that was one of the main reasons I wanted to launch a mastermind group to go with this podcast because I realized we were hitting people with 15 lessons every single week, week after week.
And there's never enough time to stop and focus on one thing. And that's what we do in the mastermind. We stop and we focus for a month and then we carry on the challenge for months and months and months after that, like the one thing right now is we're all learning how to meditate and we're going to do that until everyone nails it, you know?
JJ Virgin: Oh, that's so awesome. That's fantastic. Yeah. So, I mean, it's like, look at it. I made a list of all of these healthy habits that you should have. And with this whole plan, which I haven't done yet because we got too many other things. So it's, it's sitting in my not now, but at some point it's going to be a thing that I have people do where they just can go through and say, all right, water intake, fiber.
You know, mindfulness practice, whatever that is for you, right? Sleep. And you just go through and it doesn't matter if one takes you five months or five minutes, you just go through until you have them all resolved and then you go back and revisit in case one slipped. But those are the things and if you do it as a group, we know that if you do something in a group, if you have a great community, if you have a coach, if you make a proclamation publicly, right?
And everybody has to weigh in and especially if you game-ify it in that mastermind group, I mean, it's that you're killing it. That's so awesome Jonathan.
Jonathan Levi: Thank you. Thank you. I was heavily inspired by a lot of the stuff that I see other genius network members do so you deserve some credit there as well with all the groups that you're running.
JJ Virgin: Well, I love running these groups. I never, you know, it's like, they're super fun to, I love going to groups and being in groups and running groups. So it's just, I think for all of us, when you look my unmarried to a, a corporate guy, I can't believe it actually, but he's, uh, he's kind of a rogue corporate guy, cause he's a sales guy, a big whale Hunter so they're sort of the rogues of the corporate world, but they have meetings all the time. I'm like, Oh my gosh, like he's right now poor guy in Minnesota. Poor poor guy. Yes. Wow. It's you know, negative temperatures and like have fun. Bye. I'm sitting in San Diego SIA, but he has all these meetings all the time and all these trainings all the time.
And as entrepreneurs, we're not going to get called to go do a meeting or a training or anything else we have to, like for him, they invest so much money in his training and meetings, and we've got to do the same. I started to look around and I can totally track my success with getting great coaches, joining groups, right?
Going, getting more training. And so, you know, if you're an entrepreneur going, Oh, well, I can't afford that. No, really actually can't afford not to, and so I love that you've got a podcast and a mastermind group to go with it. That is really smart to do. So all of you guys in this super smart that you're in this, because this is one of the key metrics for being more successful.
Jonathan Levi: I so appreciate that. I so appreciate that. And yeah, it's been really fun and I think I'm getting as much out of it, if not more than the people who are actually in the group, because it's so motivating, like the accountability is, is so big.
JJ Virgin: Makes you stretch too. Back in high school, I was a tap dancer. And one of those, like I was looking at, you know, what are the things people don't know about you? Well, I was runner up to Ms. Haight Ashbury and I got beat by a trainee. So there's one. And the other one was, I was in my talent in that thing was tap dancing. I actually was a Broadway level tap dancer, but I got to the point where my tap dancing teacher had nothing left to teach me so she had me teach. And when you really look at it, if you want to become excellent at what you do, it's teaching that makes you excellent. It's coaching, right? So this is what stretches you. What requires you to really know your craft. I mean, it's easy to do it, it's so much harder to teach it.
Jonathan Levi: So true. and that's one of the strategies that we teach in our accelerated learning courses, the Fineman technique. If you can't simplify it well enough to teach it to anybody, you just don't understand it well enough and by teaching it, you will begin to understand it well enough.
JJ Virgin: Yup. Yep. And especially, gosh, I'm in the science field and all of these doctors and I'm like, uh, you know, fifth grade, fifth grade can't use those terms. No one will know what you're talking about
Jonathan Levi: I love that. JJ, tell me a little bit about your high performance habits. What is your daily routine look like? You mentioned hydrating, obviously diet and exercise are huge. What are some of the things that you do to be at your best performance?
JJ Virgin: So I travel a ton. I travel at least right now, I'm in between places cause I'm moving into to Tampa, Florida, but at least half the time I'm traveling. So it is, this is what's super important is when you have these habits, they have to be everywhere you were. I remember standing in line, I was at an event and I was standing in line and this woman standing in front of me, like kind of looks at me sheepishly because she has this big muffin in her hand.
First of all, a muffin's a cupcake. Let's be honest. Look at what it's wrapped. So she's got this big thing in her hand, right? And she's ordered some ridiculous, like mocha thing. And she looks at me and she goes, Oh, I only do this when I travel. And I'm like, well, how often do you travel? She goes, Oh, you know, one to two weeks a month, I'm like, uh huh. Wow. Yeah. If you said once a year, all right. You know, but like, wow. So whatever these habits are, they need to go with you wherever you are and what I make sure that I do, especially as I travel is I'm always making sure that I've got my sleep nailed. So I've got the hour before bed is my power down hour.
Super important, I pull out my journal, I always very journals, but right now I'm doing the five minute journal. So at night I'm doing the, you know, what went well today and what would have, um, made today better. But I have my power down time at night where we dim the lights, cool the house, I take a hot bath, all of that stuff, I read a good, not great book in the morning and I am a big quality sleeper and I track my sleep so eight to nine hours of sleep every single night, and then in the morning I do my journal, I always have, yeah, I have Bulletproof beans, I only drink bulk of coffee if Dave is making it for me.
Jonathan Levi: I love it.
JJ Virgin: I am super duper spoiled, so, and fun little fact, the first event he came to with this coffee was actually Mindshare. We were at an event and I go, you should bring coffee. Bring coffee over to mine. Sure. It'll be super good. And so he was in the back of our little event, we had a hundred people there, maybe 80 people there making coffee, right in the back, so funny and we ran out of coffee and all the doctors through, like, it was like a crisis. It was hilarious. So anyway, I always have my coffee in the morning, I always do my journal in the morning, and then the first part of the morning is my brain time, because that is when that's money time for me.
That's when I am the best thinker in the morning, I'm definitely a morning person, not a night person. I work out at different times throughout the day, and I do different types of workouts too one of the benefits of traveling, but I always block it out every single day so that I have it. And the other one of the other high performance habits I do that I think people don't think enough about is I, and I was listening to someone talk about this.
And I went, Oh, I do this every day and I didn't even think about it. I always connect with a few people every single day and the other thing that I like to do, and I got a shout out to someone who I think is the master of this beyond all masters is our buddy Joe Polish is the other thing that I like to do is connect, make a couple connections at least every week, but ideally, you know, on a daily basis. So I love connecting up people and seeing how they're going to be able to collaborate together.
Jonathan Levi: Those are amazing, really, really good habits. And I love that you, you were not gingerly with them. You gave us as many as, as you have.
JJ Virgin: Food and supplements are obvious, but you know, they're like, and if I'm home, I do my sauna too.
Jonathan Levi: Oh, let's go. Now, what's your favorite of all the Virgin lineup of products by the way? I asked Dave the same thing and he's like, I think it's the coffee, honestly, all the products and supplements that you guys sell?
JJ Virgin: I have a paleo brownie collagen bar That is a lifesaver for me because I literally like I have a I have a whole line of bars these things save me when I'm traveling because you know you can't sit on a plane and pull out your NutriBullet and make a shake Right? So I you know I started every day with one of my paleo bone broth protein shakes with my extra fiber, I do a ton of supplements but those bars saved my butt Like cause I mean there's sometimes when I'm traveling if I can't trust the food I eat bars So and I've got one that's a collagen bar that I just adore That's amazing So those would be my like desert Island food there
Jonathan Levi: That's awesome And we will definitely link everybody up to all those bars I've had them at genius network They're absolutely delicious So
JJ Virgin: yes I know I'm going to where they're like you got bars and like you know like what I travel with cases of bars people
Jonathan Levi: Yeah I love it I love it So JJ we have just about run out of time I do want to ask where do we send people to learn more and get in touch with you
JJ Virgin: Easiest is JJvirgin.com That's where everything starts If you are a health entrepreneur then Mindsharecollaborative.com is the other one And all the rest of the stuff is JJ Virgin Keep it simple
Jonathan Levi: Awesome And we will put all of that in the show notes The last question that we always ask though if people take away just one message and they carry it with them for the rest of their lives what would you hope for that message to be
JJ Virgin: It's the one that I wrote about in my book warrior mom and it was kind of the mantra that carried me through all of it When I literally published I think you know published the Virgin diet bedside to my son in a coma fighting for his life and What I kept going with is I had a great mentor when I was 30 years old who would say don't wish it was easier make yourself better And I kind of interpreted it to make yourself stronger And I know that we're never better than when we're challenged And the bottom line is that we are stronger than we think
Jonathan Levi: That's a fantastic message to end on Thank you for sharing it JJ I want to thank you I so enjoyed chatting with you and I know our audience has enjoyed it as well I'm really glad we finally got to connect
JJ Virgin: Yes me too I look forward to hanging with you in person hopefully sometime in this year
Jonathan Levi: Absolutely I'll be at the March genius meeting If you happen to be going
JJ Virgin: I won't I will be in Tampa I'm doing this big move now It's kind of taken off over my life
Jonathan Levi: Oh no what prompted the move
JJ Virgin: I started working with Garrett Gunderson and then really looking at finances and really looking at lifestyle and also realizing that a lot of what I do now I need to be in New York and Europe And it just made more sense to be East coast located rather than West coast located as my home base
Jonathan Levi: while you're preaching to the choir because I was telling Dave one of my favorite things about him is he Got out of Silicon Valley It's very rare to meet another entrepreneur who escaped to California. So yeah.
JJ Virgin: Well people are leaving in droves right now so yep, So I'm following I just spent some time with my buddy Mark Sisson and kind of taking some takes some notes from his playbook and following out to Florida.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah Yeah I assumed to be the only one of all the entrepreneurs who moved to a place that has higher taxes than California but I think I did it wrong.
JJ Virgin: Huh, well that's uh that wouldn't be my intent but there must be some reasons.
Jonathan Levi: Totally JJ, thank you It's been such a pleasure.
JJ Virgin: Thank you, appreciate it.
Jonathan Levi: All right, Superfriends, that is all we have for you today but I hope you guys really enjoyed the show and I hope you learned a ton of actionable information tips advice that will help you go out there and overcome the impossible If you've enjoyed the show please take a moment to leave us a review on iTunes or Stitcher or drop us a quick little note on the Twitter machine at go superhuman Also if you have any ideas For anyone out there who you would love to see on the show We always love to hear your recommendations. You can submit on our website or you can just drop us an email and let us know that's all for today guys . Thanks for tuning in.
Closing: Thanks for tuning in to the Becoming SuperHuman Podcast. For more great skills and strategies or for links to any of the resources mentioned in this episode visit www.becomingasuperhuman.com/podcast. We'll see you next time.