TBBPodcast #7: Blue Mind with Dr. Wallace J. Nichols @wallacejnichols #BlueMind

In this podcast episode I interview Dr. Wallace J Nichols. Since I've spent most of my life in and around water this was a really cool experience for me and a super interesting interview. We talk about the neurophysiology of the impact of water on our mental and physical health and about the power of nature. Here's a little more about J:

Dr. Wallace "J." Nichols is a scientist, wild water advocate, movement-maker, New York Times bestselling author, and dad.

He takes a slow, collaborative approach with leaders in businesses, government, non-profits, and academia to inspire a deeper connection with nature and inventive solutions to pressing issues.

J knows that inspiration comes sometimes through adventures, or simply by walking and talking. Other times through writing, images, and art. Science and knowledge can also stoke our fires.

But he also knows that what really moves people is feeling part of and touching something bigger than ourselves.

His research and expeditions have taken him to coasts and waterways across North, Central and South America, to Asia, Africa, Australia, and Europe where he continually finds that the emotional connection to waters of all kinds--rather than force of finacial gain--is what keeps his colleagues and collaborators working hard to understand and restore our blue planet.

J. is a Research Associate at California Academy of Sciences and co-founder of OceanRevolution.org, an international network of young ocean advocates, SEEtheWILD.org, a conservation travel network, GrupoTortuguero.org, an international sea turtle conservation network, and LiVBLUE.org, a global campaign to reconnect us to our water planet. 

He has authored and co-authored more than 50 scientific papers and reports and his work has been broadcast on NPR, BBC, PBS, National Geographic and Animal Planet and featured in Time, Newsweek, GQ, Outside Magazine, Fast Company, Scientific American and New Scientist, among others.

Nichols earned his Bachelor's degree in Biology and Spanish from DePauw University, an Master's of Environmental Management in Environmental Policy and Economics from Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment, and his PhD in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Arizona's School of Renewable Natural Resources where he received both a Marshall Fellowship and a Fulbright Fellowship. In 2010 he delivered the commencement address at DePauw University where he also received an honorary doctorate in science. In May 2014 he will receive the University of Arizona's Global Acheivement Award.

He advises a motivated group of international graduate students and serves as an advisor to numerous non-profit boards and committees as part of his commitment to building a stronger, more progressive and connected environmental community. 

J. lives with his partner Dana, two daughters and some cats, dogs and chickens on California's SLOWCOAST, a rural stretch of coastal mountains where organic strawberries rule, mountain lions roam and their motto is "In Slow We Trust". The Nichols chose to settle down in this area after trekking the entire 1,800 kilometer coast from Oregon to Mexico. "We like it here", Nichols said.

Lately J and his team are working on the Blue Mind Collective, merging the fields of cognitive science and aquatic exploration, and sharing their findings across many diverse sectors of society with the goal of increasing appreciation for healthy oceans and waterways. His book Blue Mind will be published in summer 2014 by Little, Brown & Company.

You can get a copy of his book Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do here.

And as always you can post your questions below or send me a comment on twitter @drgregwells. Thanks for listening!

For more info on how to Be Better you can also sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Produced by Mike Thompson.

Posted on October 24, 2014 .

TBBPodcast #6: Sleep Expert Dr. Charles Samuels

This week's podcast features Dr. Charles Samuels from the Centre for Sleep and Human Performance. I'm writing my new book right now and as I'm investigating the factors that are most important to us to be healthy and to perform better I'm learning more and more about how critical sleep is.

Our busy work schedules and home responsibilities leave us with less time to get proper rest. We sleep 20% less than we used to. 70 million Americans have a diagnosed sleep disorder – and that’s just the people that actually went to the doctor to get diagnosed. In Canada, one in seven people – or 3.5 million - suffer from insomnia. That’s bad. 

So we need understand sleep and to learn how to sleep better. That's why I asked Dr. Samuels (bio) to join us on the show today.

Here's the podcast recording:

Here are some of the links that we discussed on the show today:

The Centre for Sleep and Human Performance

The National Sleep Foundation

Here's a cool app you can use to track your sleep:

Sleep Cycle

And as always you can post your questions below or send me a comment on twitter @drgregwells. Thanks for listening!

For more info on how to Be Better you can also sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Produced by Mike Thompson.

Posted on September 26, 2014 .

TBBPodcast #5: Obesity Expert Dr. Yoni Freedhoff

This week's podcast features Dr. Yoni Freedhoff (Bio here). I wanted to talk about obesity and overweight because this is one of the most significant challenges that our world is faced with. I'm writing my new book right now and as I'm reading the research on body composition and health I'm totally frightened at how bad this epidemic is and what it's doing to our bodies and our minds.

58% of Canadians and 68% of Americans are now overweight or obese and the rates continue to climb. The numbers are similar in other countries. We also know that overweight and obesity increases the risk of metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. I've also read research that shows that obesity and depression are linked in both directions (obesity might contribute to depression and depression contributes to depression).

Despite all these brutal statistics the answer and solutions are right in front of us. They're hard to do but they are simple and anyone can do them. To get some insight into the solutions I asked Dr. Freedhoff to join us for this week's Be Better Podcast.

Here's the podcast recording:

You can check out Dr. Freedhoff's award winning blog at http://www.weightymatters.ca/ or follow him on twitter. If you like the podcast you can also get his new book The Diet Fix: Why Diets Fail and How to Make Yours Work.

Click here to subscribe to The Be Better Podcast on iTunes.

Thanks for listening. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below or on twitter @drgregwells and @yonifreedhoff. For more info on how to Be Better you can also sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Produced by Mike Thompson.

Posted on August 1, 2014 .

TBBPodcast #4: Olympic Champion Rosie MacLennan

Hi Everyone! In this week's podcast I interview Olympic Champion Rosie MacLennan. Rosie won Gold at the London 2012 Olympics in trampoline. She's an incredible athlete with some fantastic insights into what it takes to overcome challenges and how to get to world-class. Here's the podcast recording:

Here's Rosie's Bio:

As the youngest of four, Rosannagh (Rosie) MacLennan often tagged along to her older siblings’ trampoline lessons. When she was 7, Rosie could no longer just watch from the sidelines and she finally got her turn on the trampolines at Airborne Trampoline Club. When her brothers’ feet started hitting the roof, all four kids switched to Skyriders Trampoline Place where Rosie continues to train.

At age 11, Rosie began competing internationally and was the Canadian National Women’s Champion in 2005, 2009 and 2011.

At the 2007 World Championships in Quebec City, Rosie earned a spot for Canada at the Beijing Olympics alongside longtime friend, synchronized trampoline partner and fellow Olympian Karen Cockburn.  At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Rosie qualified for the finals and finished in 7th place.

Highlights of Rosie’s journey towards the London 2012 Games included winning a gold medal at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, a second place finish at the 2011 Trampoline World Championships in Birmingham and first place at the Olympic test event.

At the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Rosie received a score of 57.305 for her final routine. With her score, she reached a new personal best and earned Canada’s only gold medal at the Games.

Rosie is grateful for the critical support provided by her sponsors Springfree Trampoline and CAN Fund that allows her the opportunity to pursue the sport she loves.

Rosie is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto with a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and Health. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in exercise science at the University of Toronto. Even off the trampoline, she remains active through some of her favourite sports like skiing, snowboarding, wakeboarding or dancing.

Produced by Mike Thompson.

Posted on June 18, 2014 .

TBBPodcast #3: Olympic Champion Adam VanKoeverden

Hey everyone. In today's podcast I interview Olympic and World Champion Kayaker Adam Vankoeverden. Here's the podcast recording:

Adam started kayaking at the Burloak Canoe Club in Oakville in 1995 when he was 13 years old.  Not a terribly gifted athlete, Adam started kayaking on the advice of his mother who saw an ad in the local newspaper for a recruitment drive which read “Future Champions Wanted”.  At first the Burloak Canoe Club was just a great place to go after school, soon it was before school too, it wasn't long before the Canoe Club felt like home.  Kayaking allowed Adam's strength as an individual to shine, and gave him the chance to develop as an athlete. 

Adam was Canada’s lone double medalist at the 2004 Athens Olympics at the young age of 22. Adam captured a gold medal with a victory in the K1 500m event one day after racing to a bronze in the K1 1000m. He was chosen as Canada’s Closing Ceremonies flag-bearer, and the 2004 Lou Marsh Award winner for Canadian Athlete of the year. In 2008 Adam carried the flag for Canada into the bird’s nest stadium at the summer Olympics in Beijing, China. Adam aspired to be the first kayaker to ever defend a K1 500m Olympic title. But after breaking his own world-record in the heats, Adam was beaten in the final by his good friend Ken Wallace from Australia, to take the silver medal.  Adam was given a Guinness Book World Record for the fastest 500m ever in a Canoe or Kayak.

Another good friend, triathlete Simon Whitfield remarked that since he had chased down a German for gold in Sydney, and Adam chased down an Australian for gold in Athens, that it seemed like there was some kind of sweet poetry in those same two countries claiming gold in their two events in China.  

Adam was the World Champion again in 2011, this time in the 1000m event, winning by a huge margin of over 3 seconds.  The commentator on Eurosport Live suggested the gap between 1st and 2nd could be timed "with a calendar".

Adam is an athlete ambassador for Right to Play, and the David Suzuki Foundation, as well as a National Spokesperson for Colon Cancer Canada.  He has spoken on behalf of the World Wildlife Fund and at countless schools on the importance of healthy and active living, community involvement, and his experiences as a Canadian Olympian. Adam graduated Valedictorian of his class in 2007 from McMaster University, with an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology.

Of all the doors now open to Adam, he notes the most important are the doors of schools, and sees his opportunity to affect positive change in Canada's youth as his "most rewarding obligation" as a Canadian Olympian and public speaker.

You can check out Adam at his website www.vankayak.com.

Produced by Mike Thompson.

Posted on March 14, 2014 .

TBBPodcast #2: Ultrarunning Legend Ferg Hawke

Hey everyone. In today's podcast I interview one of the world's best Ultrarunners Ferg Hawke. Here's the podcast recording:

Ferg Hawke is a leading international ultra-distance runner, residing in South Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. Check out this article on Ferg in Runners World.

He has placed second in the Badwater Ultramarathon twice (2004, 2005), to Dean Karnazes (2004: 27:30:20; finished second by 8 minutes) and Scott Jurek (2005: 26:33:00; finished second by 1:57). His 2005 time is the ninth best time ever in the history of the race. The Badwater Ultramarathon is a 135-mile (217 km) ultramarathon through Death Valley in mid-July, starting at Badwater Basin, the second-lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, 282 feet below sea level, and finishing 8300 feet up Mount Whitney. With a cumulative vertical ascent of 13,000 ft (4000 m) and a cumulative descent of 4,700 ft (1400 m), and temperatures reaching 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54 degrees Celsius), it is considered by some people to be the most difficult footrace in the world.

He holds the second-best time by a North American in the Marathon des Sables, a staged 150-mile ultramarathon race through the Sahara Desert, in Morocco: 2002, with a time of 22:51:03 (the record is held by Eric Deshaies of Ottawa, Canada: 2007).

His introduction to endurance events came with triathlons. He served on the Canadian National Triathlon team in 1991, representing Canada at the World Triathlon Championships in Surfers Paradise, Australia that same year.

He has competed in several ultra-triathlons, including the Ultraman World Championships in Hawaii. The Ultraman is a three-day endurance triathlon consisting of a 6.2 mile swim and a 90-mile cycle on day 1, a 171.4 mile cycle on day 2, and a 52.4 mile double marathon on the final day. The course circumnavigates the Big Island of Hawaii and is considered to be one of the most challenging triathlons in the world. At the 1999 Ultraman World Championships he finished third overall, with a combined time of 23:41:16.

He is the subject of a documentary film, "The Distance of Truth" (directed by Robert Letson under the name of 'Meno'), available at www.thedistanceoftruth.com, and has been featured in numerous television, radio, and print articles.

Produced by Mike Thompson.

Posted on March 14, 2014 .

TBBPodcast #1: Adventurer Ray Zahab

Welcome to the Be Better Podcast. In our first episode I interview Ray Zahab about Running the Sahara and overcoming obstacles.

Click here to subscribe to The Be Better Podcast on iTunes.

On November 1, 2006, former "pack a day smoker" Ray Zahab and two friends, Charlie Engle and Kevin Lin, both accomplished runners, set out on an expedition to cross the Sahara Desert by foot. 111 days and 7,500 kms after leaving the coast of Senegal, Africa they completed their journey by stepping into the Red Sea.

This epic expedition had the trio running an average of 70kms a day without a single day of rest. National Geographic tracked the expedition by web, as well as the documentary film 'Running The Sahara', produced by Matt Damon and directed by Academy Award winner James Moll, was created in an effort to raise awareness for the drinking water crisis in North Africa. After witnessing and experiencing this water crisis in North Africa, Ray decided to leverage his future adventures to help raise awareness and funding for causes, like this one, that he supports and believes in.

In 2008, Ray founded impossible2Possible (i2P) (impossible2possible.com) an organization that aims to inspire and educate youth through adventure learning, inclusion and participation in expeditions. Youth Ambassadors are selected from around the globe then participate, at no cost, in all aspects of the expedition, from logistics and running to creating educational content and team support. All of the i2P Youth Expeditions have included various challenge based initiatives through an Experiential Learning program, in which thousands of students participate as active 'team members' during the expeditions, from classrooms all over the world. This program and its technology is also provided at no cost to the students or schools participating. Since its inception, i2P Youth Expeditions have included 7 grueling expeditions; Baffin Island, Tunisia, the Amazon, Bolivia, India, Botswana, and Utah. The programs and expeditions are 100% free of cost.

He continues today with life as an adventurer and as a volunteer with impossible2Possible. 'Running The Sahara' would begin a lifelong journey of discovery. A journey of learning that some of the largest barriers to success are the ones we put upon ourselves. By breaking these down, Ray has learned that we are all capable of achieving truly extraordinary things.

You can learn more about Ray by visiting his website at www.rayzahab.com and by visiting the website for impossible 2 Possible at www.impossible2Possible.com.

Produced by Mike Thompson.

Posted on September 7, 2013 .