Chained to my desk

I’m Chained to My Desk [Podcast Episode #086]

On an average workday, how many hours do you spend sitting?

Global research shows that the average adults sits for 7.7 hours per day! That's a crazy amount, especially since we are so familiar with all the dangerous ramifications of too much sitting.

But what can you do if your job is completely sedentary? Is there a "hack" that will enable you to stay fit and healthy even though those sitting hours are going to rack up every day that you're at work? Let's find out...

Episode Resources:

Help! I'm Chained to My Desk [Full Text]

Dave: Hey. Thanks so much for joining me in this episode of the Make Your Body Work podcast. As you know, this show is all about helping you live a healthier and happier life. Today, we're talking about something ... Oh geeze, I am guilty about this ... we're talking about sitting, and specifically the term, "I'm chained to my desk."

I've got a confession to make. You know, a lot of people think because formerly I'm a personal trainer, I'm a fitness guy, that it must be easy because I'm up and just moving around and exercising all day long. I've actually, recently, I had someone ask me that.

He's like, "How many hours do you actually exercise every day?" You know what? I'm a normal guy. I actually work a desk job, you know, doing podcasts. I do a ton of interviews. I do a ton of writing. I do a lot of research -- all these activities that are desk related activities. When I get questions, such as Courtney's today, I can relate.

Again, if you're listening right now and you can relate, put up your hand. Can you say that you sit for many hours per day? Well, we've learned in the past about ideas like adopting a standing routine, having a standing desk, but I think Courtney's question and some of her statements are going to ring true for you. Listen to what Courtney had to say.

She says, "Dave, thanks for your awesome podcast. I listen to every episode. I know you've touched on this before, but I'd really like some help. I am chained to my desk at work. I probably sit for six hours per day or more. I know it's bad, but I don't see any other way around it. I tried a standing desk for a few months but ended up with really sore feet. When I look in the mirror, I can tell that I'm developing bad posture. I need to change something. Any ideas?"

Courtney, thanks for writing in. I just want to say that this is a question I get all the time. Quite often, people will write saying, "I sit for my work, and then I'm exhausted, just mentally drained at the end of the day. I don't have energy to go to the gym. I notice I'm putting on weight. I don't like the way that it's affecting my posture," like Courtney mentions.

We all know it. Sitting is not good for our health, but what can we actually do about it? Today, I've got an awesome guest. This guy, he's so full of energy, and he works with a group of people who probably sit for their work more than anyone else. I'll let him explain exactly who he works with and why he works with this group, but he has some amazing ideas, a specific one that takes virtually no time that can completely change the way your sitting routine impacts or does not impact your health. I'm really excited to introduce to you Siphiwe Baleka.

Meet Siphiwe Baleka

Dave: Hey, Siphiwe, thanks so much for joining us on the show today.

Siphiwe: Hey, thanks for having me, Dave. Man, I'm super excited.

Dave: Before we started recording here, I was just complimenting you on your swimming abilities. My audience, they've heard me talk about this before, but for people who do triathlons, I'm probably the world's worst swimmer. Watching you cut through the water ... oh, it is a thing of beauty.

Siphiwe: Well, hey, thanks. I appreciate that. I did triathlons for a while, myself. If you are the worst swimmer, I'm the worst on the bike. All that lead I get in swimming, everybody catches me in the first 30 miles.

Dave: That's encouraging. I know the bike ... Usually, people say to be a really good triathlete, bike has to be your strongest suit, just because the distance is so long. You spend the most time on the bike. That probably is my best part of the event, so guys like you, I'm trying to track you down the whole race.

Siphiwe: You know, it's my favorite part of ... I don't compete in triathlons anymore, but I did 2012 Iron Man South Africa. Absolutely loved it. It was great. I love the bike part. It's my favorite part of the entire race, but I'm like in the bottom 2% for my age group. I'm top 1% in the swim, top 15% on the run, and bottom 2% on the bike.

Dave: How good. You can't ... Well, I was going to say you can't be good at everything, but some guys are. I don't know. One thing I wanted to ask you about before we kind of dive into Courtney's question here is your swimming. Can you tell us a little bit about, honestly, why are you such a good swimmer? Tell us about your athletic background.

How Did Sip End Up Here?

Siphiwe: Huh, that's a great question. Well, I was born and raised out in Chicago, and I was raised by my father. It was just me and my dad. I always like to mention my dad because we don't always hear the stories about single fathers. Played a lot of sports when I was a kid.

I mean, back then, I could leave the house in the morning, and as long as I came back when the sun was setting, it was fine. We'd be playing every kind of sport possible. We'd be inventing sports. I mean, we were doing obstacle courses before Ninja Warrior got, and Parkour got, famous. We were doing all of that in our backyard. Learned how to swim and joined the swim team when I was seven. I was a state champion by the time I was 10.

When I was 12, I had this Seminole, profound moment where my father took me to see my uncle who had won a gold medal in the 110-meter high hurdles in the Tokyo Olympics. I remember, he put the medal in my hand, and it was real gold. I mean, it was heavy.

I remember them saying, "If you want one of these, you've got to pick a sport, and you've got to commit to it." I'm 12 years old, and they're like ... You know, the average age of an Olympic swimmer is 19, 20, 21 years old or something like that. We're talking about a 10, 12 year commitment from a 12-year-old. I'm small. I mean, right now, I'm 5'8", 145 pounds. I liked playing football. That was my favorite sport.

I knew I'd never really be big enough to play college football, let alone professional football. I played basketball and baseball and tennis and ran track, but I picked swimming mostly by default because I was already a state champion. I did commit to it.

I think the thing that set me apart was, you know, everybody was taller than me. Everyone was bigger than I was. My thing was, get all the little details right, and you got to want it more. I was never a ruthless competitor, like win at all costs, but I just wanted to win. I had this big heart, where I was going to do everything I possibly could to win the race, but be a good sport about it as well.

In order to be good at anything, you must pay attention to the little details

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From Olympic-Hopeful Swimmer To Long-Haul Truck Driver

Dave: Well, that's cool. Your whole business now is surrounded by people that are sedentary. Can you tell us, how did you go from being this like high-end swimmer, and go from that to being a place where you even considered the idea of sitting?

Siphiwe: Well, I swam through college, and then when college was over ... I didn't do anything for the next 15 years. My goal in swimming had always been to qualify for the U.S. Olympic swimming trials. I missed that by eight-tenths of a second back in 1992. At that point, I didn't want to do any swimming.

I didn't want to do any sports. I didn't do any physical training, nothing like that for the next 15 years, and ended up becoming a long-haul truck driver. By that point, I was sort of an average Joe, and didn't really realize what was going to happen to me, to my body, being on the road. Didn't think too much about it.

I started truck driving. I think I weighed like 140, 145 pounds. Two months later, I had gained 10.7% of my body weight. That was the moment I got scared, and I realized I had to take care of myself while I was out on the road. That kind of set off this whole chain of events leading up to me publishing a book on how to stay healthy on the road and how I've been able to help these truck drivers.

Dave: How old were you when you started your truck driving career?

Siphiwe: Oh, geeze. I was in my mid to late 30s.

Dave: Okay, yeah, so you're at that time, that's what I was wondering, when metabolism starts changing. Some of us, like I'm a skinny guy like yourself by nature, but all of a sudden, sort of that genetic factor ... It doesn't really help us out as much as it used to, and we can start to put on weight, or start putting on weight faster than we used to.

Siphiwe: Well, you know that for me, the biggest factor wasn't necessarily my age, it was the fact that in truck driving, particularly in America -- and I'm sure this is probably the same for a lot of drivers in Canada as well -- you're there to make money, which means you're driving when the freight dictates. Sometimes you're driving in the day. Sometimes you're driving at night. Sometimes you're not driving at all. But the changing schedule is throwing off your circadian rhythms.

In addition to that, the average truck driver, long-haul truck driver, is not getting six hours of uninterrupted sleep. This results in accumulated sleep deprivation. Accumulates every day, every week, every month, every year that you drive.

The problem with that is a lot of your hormones, and even the hormones that regulate metabolism, and things like serum leptin and serum ghrelin, they're produced in your sleep. When that production cycle is thrown out of whack and interrupted, what's happening to long-haul truck drivers, and what happened to me, is we literally lose the ability to regulate metabolism, to regulate hunger properly.

Either one of two things happens: Either we don't get the signal that we're hungry and we need to eat, so we skip a lot of meals -- and when you skip meals, your metabolism goes into starvation mode and it just stores fat -- or we don't get the signal that we're full and we need to stop eating.

We're eating constantly because we feel hungry all the time. The root of the problem that I experienced was this occupational hazard of: wow, the hormones that regulate metabolism are all out of whack now.

The way you eat is affected by the way you sleep. Proper rest is essential for good food choices

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Sedentary Jobs are Everywhere!

Dave: For anyone who's listening to this, maybe you're not a truck driver yourself, but Siphiwe, when I was reading about what you do, right away, I thought, "I get messages from my listeners all the time, so I know that there are listeners who have similar problems in their life due to work schedule." Nurses, anyone working in the medical field, is a huge one that has that circadian rhythm throwing off. Or even, you talked about ...

I love the words that you used ... you said truck drivers don't get six hours of uninterrupted sleep. I get a lot of business people who write in to me and talk about their sleep and that stress is waking them up in the middle of the night, and they're getting that uninterrupted sleep. What you just described, yeah, it applies to truck drivers, but it applies to a huge percentage of the population.

Siphiwe: Yeah, and also the sedentary factor. I mean, there's a lot of people that aren't truck drivers or in the transportation field that are sitting at their desk all day in front of a computer, or for whatever reason, they're sedentary.

There are several hormonal changes, some that are related to sleep, some that are related to stress, and what happens when your body releases cortisol and how that affects your metabolism and promotes sort of weight gain, and especially weight gain in the gut area, or visceral adiposity.

Yeah, this is something that it touches on a lot of people that need to lose weight. The idea behind the book was we actually found ... I developed a system that was working with the truck drivers, okay, who have all of these other challenges. I mean, they live in a box. They don't have access to a kitchen. They have food storage issues.

I mean, they're not carrying normal-size refrigerators on their truck where they can store food for a week or a month or something like that. They're not getting to the local organic farmer's market. At the same time, they're driving this big piece of equipment, a tractor on a 53-foot trailer, so they're not able to go off the main interstates and highways too well.

Getting to a gym is just not going to happen. The truck drivers have all of these severe restrictions and challenges that a lot of other people don't have. Other people have these advantages that truck drivers don't have.

We found a solution that was working for the drivers with all of these challenges, and then we realized -- hey, if it'll work for long-haul truck drivers, which in the United States is the most unhealthy occupation in America, it could work for anybody.

Dave: Yeah. Siphiwe, when you were talking about the disadvantages of truck drivers, I completely agree. Right away, I thought how many different industries those same disadvantages do play in, though. I'll give you an example. I have a friend who's a business consultant, and I remember the first time I went to visit him in his apartment.

I opened up his fridge, and the fridge A) it wasn't turned on, and B) there was no food in it. It was actually full of his shoes. I remember being like, "John, where's your food?" He said, "Oh, I don't eat at home because I'm at work for all three meals, and so I'll just get food from a restaurant or they'll bring it at work."

It's the exact same thing, that no access to fresh food or to home cooking, and then no time to go to the gym, and then sitting all day. Again, we're talking about a huge problem, truck drivers, but so many people.

How to Adapt to Your Environment

Siphiwe: Yeah. We have to learn how to eat for our metabolism. The truck drivers, for example, I can't give them solutions like, "Okay, you've got to bake chicken and steam asparagus," because they're not going to do that in their truck, a vast majority of them.

The drivers, they're still going to be eating out the vast majority of their meals every day. I had to figure out: how do I teach them to eat for their metabolism in these environments? How do you make the best choice available to you at that time? How do you choose food not on a situational convenience and habit, but what is this going to do for my metabolism? And then making that learning process a simple step-by-step process so that they're not overwhelmed.

Because you look at most diet and nutrition plans, what do they do? They give you a meal plan or a shopping list or a menu and say, "Eat like this, Dave," which represents sort of the end goal, the end result where you need to be. Let's call that step Z. Well, what if you're at step D? You need to know what the next step is.

To put that step Z in front of you and say, "Well, there you go. Get like this," and you have to manage all that change ... Maybe it's a whole new set of foods that you're not familiar with. Could be a whole new set of cooking utensils. Could cost you a whole lot more. Have to learn a whole new bunch of recipes, and the first three times you do it, it doesn't come out right, and you got to eat this stinky food.

There are all of these challenges that can be overwhelming for someone to make all these changes. And so what happens? You get frustrated and you quit. Meanwhile ... and a lot of these nutrition and diet programs and stuff, they never actually took the time to analyze your own nutrition profile to find out, well, what are the nutrition mistakes that you are making?

What's the number one thing that you eat regularly that's doing the most damage to your metabolism? And fix that. See, even if I give you a list of all the good foods that you should be eating and you eat all of them, but you never figured out what was doing the damage and you keep eating the food that's doing the damage, you're still doing the damage.

I take the approach in the book, 4-Minute Fit, when we cover the nutrition, right, here's a simple system. Here's an easy way for you to log your food, analyze it, find out what's doing the most damage in a step-by-step process for fixing it. That's what I call making a smart, strategic change. Instead to change everything randomly all at once, change one thing strategically that's going to give you maximum results.

Trying to change many things at once can lead to frustration and quitting. Take baby steps for success!

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Dave: Siphiwe, you are so right on. I remember, when I first became a personal trainer and started building meal plans for people, I remember exactly that. I was this guy that thought, "I'm going to change everyone's lives," and I would do exactly the mistake that you talked about. Here's a perfect eating plan. This is how I eat. You're going to change your body. And they come back and be like, "I couldn't do this. I hated your meals, and it was way too much work."

The whole baby steps, we're on the same page. This leads so well back to Courtney's question. She says ... I love the phrase she used. She says, "I'm chained to my desk at work." You know even from that statement that she's not ready to jump to step Z, as you put it. She's somewhere in the middle and needs sort of her next step. I guess my question for you is: how do people figure out, what is their next step?

What is the 4-Minute Fit Program?

Siphiwe: Okay. So, that's why we did the book, 4-Minute Fit. I'd say you know how to figure out your next step by 4-Minute Fit, and then actually go through the process. Here's the number one, I'd say, mistake, or the first question I would ask, which is this: are you turning your metabolism on before you start your day? Let's start there.

If your goal is weight loss, you want to burn fat. And you want to do this while ... As long as you're up working, you want your metabolism working for you. That's the first place I would start, is when you wake up, before you start your day, are you turning on your metabolism?

You have a choice. You can go through your day with your metabolism on low, or you can go through the day with your metabolism on high. That's your choice. If you want to lose weight and burn fat, you want it on high. The question is how do you turn on your metabolism?

This is where even the title of the book, 4-Minute Fit, comes from. Because over the last three or four years in implementing my 13-week program that I have for drivers, nutrition and fitness program that I developed while I was out on the road, it worked for me. I hacked my own metabolism.

And then I broke down what I did into steps that I could replicate and teach to any driver. We implemented this program at the trucking company in Springfield, Missouri -- it's called Prime Inc. -- and we had drivers go through this program. They were losing a phenomenal amount of weight, Dave. Average weight loss in 13 weeks was 19.6 pounds, or 7% of their body weight-

Dave: That is huge.

Siphiwe: ... which was significant ... Yeah. I mean, it blew our minds, basically. The medical community was telling me, if you lose 7% of your body weight, you reduce your risk for what's known as metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of 60 medical disorders, including 12 cancers.

But we had drivers that were following the program ... That was our average. We had drivers follow the program exactly the way I designed it. They were losing 30, 40, 50, even 60 pounds in 13 weeks without skipping meals.

When we looked at the data, because I was using a lot of digital health devices ... The funny thing about it, you're a triathlete, so you know how as triathletes, we love our gadgets.

Dave: Sure do.

Siphiwe: Right? We love all of our performance meters and our cadence meters and our heart rate monitors and all the data we can get. I was like, "Wow, there's all of these great devices out there that are used in the athletic world.

Why not use this and treat driving as an athletic performance and find out what's happening to my body as I go through my 11-hour driving shift, the same way as I find out what's going on with my body when I'm doing an Iron Man Triathlon?" We used all of this digital health equipment. Got all this data. We looked at it.

And then when we analyzed: why were the drivers losing so much weight? it was not what we thought. Yes, the average person, they would say, "Oh, well, they sit all day and they're lazy and they eat too much, so you got them to move more and they ate less." It was like, "No, that isn't what happened." In fact, the average amount of calorie change was only 70 calories by the end of the program. That's like less than half a cookie.

Dave: 70 calories ... You're talking about intake? So they took in 70 calories less, that's it.

Siphiwe: Yeah. The change in calories was only like minus 70.

Dave: Okay.

Siphiwe: That's like nothing. Okay? It wasn't the calories that was responsible for the weight loss. And then we looked at like ... I mean, most people have heard, "You want to lose weight, it's calories in calories out.

Research Results: How Truck Drivers Were Losing Weight

You got to move more, eat less." Because the theory, the old, what I call the pre-Galilean sun-revolves-around-the-earth theory of weight loss, okay, was you lose weight by ... you got to burn more calories than you consume. You can either calorie restrict, or you can exercise more and longer, or do both, and that's how you're going to lose weight.

Well, we found out that the drivers were actually moving less. We had all these devices monitoring their activity. Came out that the drivers went from 103 minutes of activity to just 88 minutes of activity.

That includes walking, dollying down the landing ... you know, just your normal activities throughout the day. They were moving less, and they actually got 833 less steps. Now, I'm scratching ... As a personal trainer, classically trained, I'm scratching my head. I'm like, "Why are they losing all this weight?"

When we looked at the data, we saw that every driver that lost weight, they did three things simultaneously. You did this throughout the program, you lost 7% of your body weight.

You had to gradually reduce your carbs by a minimum of 10% while increasing your protein by 5%, but the key was you had to get four minutes of vigorous or high intense activity. That was the key.

When I looked at all the data and all these ... We had timestamped data. What I found was, if you did four minutes of vigorous activity before you start your day, literally engaging your fat-burning system at its highest capacity, then you'd be burning fat at an accelerated rate for the next hour or two or three.

All you had to do at that point was keep feeding your metabolism, or keep giving it work to do. That just means eating, but the key was you had to eat the right thing. You had to eat ... and the right thing is protein. We can get more into that. I would tell ... What was her name? Courtney?

Dave: Yeah, Courtney.

Siphiwe: I would say, "Hey, yeah, you might be chained to your desk once you get to work, but did you turn your metabolism on before you got to work so that while you are chained, your metabolism is still working, and you can just keep feeding it at your desk?"

Effective Morning Exercise: You Only Need 4 Minutes!

Dave: Which seems like such a simple thing. When you say four minutes ... Because, I'll tell you, Sip, I'm a morning exerciser. I love it. But I know there's a lot of people who the idea of exercising before work is ... you're asking them to do a huge chore.

Siphiwe: No, we're not, actually. It's funny because when I ... Touchstone Books, which is a division of Simon & Schuster that published the book, and we were talking about titles, and they were like, "4-Minute Fit." I was like, "Wait a minute. Four minutes. 60 seconds.

That's, what ... Oh, 200 ... Let's call it 240-second Fit, because there's never been a fitness program that's measured in seconds. Okay? So, let's do that." Here's my thing. You can get the benefits of a one-hour workout in four minutes if you know what you're doing. I mean, would you spend $15 on something you could get for a dollar?

Dave: Of course not.

Siphiwe: Why exercise for 60 minutes when you can get the same benefit in four minutes if you do it right? Now, everybody that you ask, "Well, why aren't you exercising?" the top two answers: don't have time, and I'm not motivated. Okay? Don't have time, and I'm not motivated. Here's my thing...

First of all, four minutes, you can't use time as an excuse anymore. Not motivated? That's no longer an issue because Dave, you know what? Truth be told, every single day, people do a number of things they don't want to do, they don't like doing, and they're not motivated to do, but they do it anyway.

Dave: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Siphiwe: Particularly when it comes to their job. Right?

Dave: Totally agreed. You know, and if I can just jump in here, one thing I want to say as a bonus to this is physiologically doing some intense exercise first thing in the morning, for sure, that revs up your metabolism and gives all the benefits that you spoke of.

In addition to that, psychologically -- again, as a morning exerciser -- I know, and for myself and with my clients, we all know that when we exercise first thing in the morning, it sets us up for a string, a cascade of better choices all day long.

Siphiwe: Yeah, because you feel accomplished, and might even say triumphant.

Dave: Totally agreed.

Siphiwe: I mean, who doesn't want to start their day feeling accomplished and triumphant?

Morning exercise allows you to spend the rest of the day feeling accomplished and triumphant

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Dave: What does that look like, then, for the average person? Again, Courtney, she asks ... She says, "I'm sitting at my desk." You came back and said, "You can do four minutes, get your metabolism in a great place." What would that actually look like? What's that four minutes of exercise look like?

What Type of Morning Exercise Works Best?

Siphiwe: I try to make it real simple because it's like I'm giving one marching order, one command, for everyone. Here it is. It's any movement you can do at maximum intensity. You know that if you're doing it right, that you're breathing so hard you can barely finish a sentence.

See, everyone is at a different fitness level. Everyone is at a different level of conditioning. Everyone has a different body makeup. You may have an injury, an ankle, a knee, or a hip. Okay? How am I going to coach everyone, right, when everybody's different?

Dave: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Siphiwe: What we found was it doesn't matter what the exercises are. It doesn't matter what the movement is. It's not complicated. It's not like, "Okay, today I got to do arms and back, and tomorrow I got to do core and legs." No. It's four minutes, any movement you can do, maximum intensity.

Because the goal is, it's not how long you work out. It's not how many calories you burn. It's, how great of a demand can I place on my fat-burning system to turn it on? For Courtney, or for anyone, you're just standing in ... You're shadowboxing. You're hopping. You're doing squats. You're doing knee raises. You're running in place. You're doing jumping jacks... If you've got an injury to your right leg, stand on your left and shadowbox. Doesn't matter what the movement is as long as you are going all out and breathing hard.

Dave: What I was just going to ask you ... I love those examples because I was going to ask you, for a truck driver who probably isn't at a gym -- you know, they might be at a road stop somewhere -- what are the sorts of activities that they do? You just gave some perfect examples. No equipment required. Anyone can do it. Doesn't matter about injury history or experience exercise. Anyone can do this.

Siphiwe: Yes. Anyone. With the truck drivers, I tell them, "Hey, right there on the side of your truck." Right? If you're opening the door to get in your truck to drive, aren't you already outside your truck? Yeah. Aren't you already standing? Yeah. Okay, you're ready to work out. If it's only going to be four minutes, you don't need any equipment.

You don't need to change clothes. All you got to do is any movement you can do, maximum intensity. It fits into your routine. My business clients and my executives, I'll talk to them and I'll say, "Okay, you brush your teeth in the morning. Right?" Most of them, I hope, say yes. Okay?

I'll tell them, I'm like, "Okay, you're not brushing your teeth because you get off on how the bristles feel on your teeth. Okay? You're not brushing your teeth because you just love the taste of the foam and the fluoride and the toothpaste on your tongue." Right? No.

In fact, probably, you learned to brush your teeth some point early in life, and you didn't enjoy it. It was a chore. Your parents probably had to make you do it. Right? But at some point, it developed into a habit. Why? Because of consequences. You realized, "Man, if I don't brush my teeth, I might have stinky breath, and I'm not going to be able to get a date." Okay?

Dave: Totally.

Siphiwe: You made a habit out of something you don't particularly enjoy doing, but it's good for your health. I'll tell my executive clients, I'll be like, "Hey, look, let brushing your teeth be your trigger. After you brush your teeth, then you probably take a shower. Right?" They're like, "Yeah." I'm saying, "In the space between brushing your teeth and taking a shower, do your four minutes.

Because you're going to take a shower anyway, so get this done, get it out of the way, turn your metabolism, and then go start the rest of your day." This is already built into your routine. It's only an additional four minutes. You make it something you do automatically simply because you're a grown person and you have the responsibility to take care of yourself.

Dave: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I love the fact that there are so few barriers to entry for this practice. You know, when you talk about exercise in general ... Say someone is completely sedentary and you say, "Hey, you need to start exercising." Doctor says, "You need to start exercising or you're going to have a heart attack." That person, instantly in their mind, there are so many barriers.

Siphiwe: Yes.

Dave: I don't have any exercise clothes. I don't have shoes. I don't have a gym membership. When I get a gym membership, I don't know what to do when I'm there. I'm not going to enjoy it. I need to buy a water bottle. Anything that could possibly come up becomes a little barrier, and all of those littler barriers add up into a big obstacle. This idea of brush your teeth, then move your body for four minutes, then hop in the shower, it sets that stage for a healthier day, and there's almost zero barrier to do that.

Siphiwe: As a personal trainer, right ... I mean, you're familiar with the fact that the key to adherence to a new fitness program is it's got to be convenient.

Dave: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Siphiwe: That's what I strove to do. What's the most effective, least time-consuming way to get results? What's the minimum effective dosage that will turn your fat-burning system on at its highest level so that you can be burning fat throughout the day? This is what all the data shows. And I'm not the only one that knows this.

I mean, you're familiar with Tabata protocols. The idea and the concepts and the science behind high-intensity interval training, that's been around for 20 or 30 years. Now we're really applying it, and I think the missing element was, okay, just like we practiced nutrient timing, let's practice metabolic engagement timing. I just made that up.

Dave: On the spot. You're quick.

Siphiwe: Yeah.

Comparing High-Intensity vs. "Normal" Exercise

Dave: What would you say then, Sip, for people who maybe are already exercising? Courtney, she didn't specifically write about what her exercise routine is, but say she's already exercising. Would you still recommend do this four-minute high-intensity training first thing in the morning, and then if you're already going to go to the gym, go to the gym as well?

Siphiwe: Absolutely. I'd say everyone should be doing this and make it a habit, particularly if you're a sedentary job, or you're already overweight or obese and your goal is to lose weight, because here's the thing. If you already have an exercise routine that is, say, 30 or 40 or 60 minutes, chances are, you are what? Pacing yourself so that you can finish the workout.

What happens is, you may get in a great workout that makes you sweat, makes you feel good, you worked hard, but you never specifically created the highest demand for fat burning that you possibly could. Maybe your entire workout was at a moderate or a moderately high level, but never this vigorous, intense level. That's the missing element.

This is one of the reasons why people can go to the gym every day and maybe do strength training, which doesn't necessarily engage their fat-burning system, or do moderate cardio, which doesn't train their fat-burning system at these high levels.

In addition to that, studies show that once you get past, I don't know, 40 minutes or 60 minutes of moderate exercise, you start stimulating the production of serum ghrelin, which is the appetite hormone. You may burn an additional 2 to 300 calories, but every study shows you're going to eat an additional 2 to 300 calories as well.

The key question is: every single day, am I training my metabolism, am I training my fat-burning system, to reach its highest level of intensity? If the answer is no, then yes, you need to do this.

The 3 Most Important Action Steps You Can Take

Dave: I love it. That's very, very clear. Again, I completely agree with everything you just spoke of. I do want to recap for the listeners here. You said that there are three things that are the sort of simple action steps from your book. One is this four-minute fit first thing in the morning, and then can you recap your two others that were nutrient related?

Siphiwe: Yeah. The three things that we found that the drivers did, if they did these three things simultaneously, they all lost an average of 19 pounds in 13 weeks, or 7% of their body weight.

It was -- you have to gradually reduce your carbohydrates by a minimum of 10%, increase your protein intake by 5%, and then the key was -- every single day, you have to get at least four minutes of vigorous activity, high intense activity. I'll add to that, Dave. That's the minimum effective dosage.

The maximum effective dosage was 15 minutes. If you can do four minutes, great. Now, strive to get 15. If you want to get maximum results and reach sort of a maximum fat burning or a maximum level of fitness, you want to work your way up to 15 minutes. Then at that point, we discovered there's a law of diminishing returns. Okay?

You're going to put in time and not get much from it. Then again, you could also get into the realms where you're starting to produce serum ghrelin, which is going to make you want to eat more. People love my program because I limit your exercise to 15 minutes.

Make Your Body Work Takeaway

Dave: I was just going to say, that's really encouraging or very motivating to know that Sip says I can't work out for one more minute. I hit my 15-minute mark. I've got to stop. Sip, you know, I feel like we could probably talk a lot more about the details and the science behind your book, but obviously I would like the readers to experience that for themselves.

I want to wrap up, though, with what's called a Make Your Body Work Takeaway. This is just to make the show super practical. I think I know what you're going to say, but what is the one action step for anyone like Courtney who says, "I don't move enough. I'm like a truck driver. I sit at my desk or sit where it is. I need to lose weight"? What's the one thing that they should begin doing?

Siphiwe: Okay. Your show is Make Your Body Work ...

Dave: That's right.

Siphiwe: ... so I'm going to keep it in that format, and I'm going to say: make your metabolism work.

Dave: Nice.

Siphiwe: You do that ... Again, start your day by moving with maximum intensity for four minutes, any movement you can do. That's the number one ... I mean, imagine you had all the ingredients to bake a cake. You mixed them. You put them in the oven. You come back 40 minutes later. Are you going to have a cake? Not if you didn't turn the oven on.

Dave: I love it. Sip, ah, I loved your energy, and I love the simplicity of your message. Very practical and very easy for people to implement. Thanks for that. I know people are going to be interested in connecting with you, learning about your book. Can you tell us, where can they reach you?

Connect With Siphiwe

Siphiwe: Okay. You can get more information about the book and order the book and connect with me if you go to, so that stands for Make Your Body Work.

We created a special landing page for your podcast and for your listeners. Right? Again, that's 4, that's the number 4, There's a link to the book, but there's also a link to some free content that I developed with one of my partners, Progressive Commercial Insurance, where you can find out more about me.

We have some exercise videos there, so you can see what 4-Minute looks like. A lot of great material there. We tried to make it as simple as we can for a person to get the book, say, "Okay, here's step one. Here's step two. Here's step three," and go out and do it.

Dave: Awesome. For the listeners, I'm going to put a link to the book, and also to Sip's personal website and a couple of the resources that we talked about in this podcast, all on the show notes. You can go to and you'll find all of that. Definitely check it out. Sip, honestly, it was a pleasure. Thanks so much, again, for being with us today.

Siphiwe: Thank you for having me, Dave. Man, it was great.

Dave: Siphiwe, thanks again for joining us today. Thanks for your energy. Most of all, thanks for your practical suggestions. I love what you said at the end of our interview, it's: make your metabolism work. You gave us a really practical suggestion.

Fire up your metabolism first thing in the morning. Push your body four minutes, get your metabolism going, and then you can feed your metabolism all day long with healthy foods, as we discussed as well. For everyone who tuned in today, thanks for being here.

Again, this show, it's for you. If I didn't have you guys listening, if I didn't have you writing in to me, there would be no Make Your Body Work podcast. I'm really, really grateful and just really want to serve you better.

If you have any questions that you'd like answered on the show, if you have any suggestions for the show, always email me - Like I said, I love hearing from you.

Get Your Free Copy of Can't Lose

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been really excited to announce that my new book, called Can't Lose, just came out. Right now, it's available on my website. It's still available for anyone who wants a free copy. You can go to All I ask is that you pay shipping and handling, and I'll mail you out a copy right away.

I'd love, most of all ... The most important thing from this book is that it instills an action plan in your brain that makes sense for your unique lifestyle. That's what I'm looking for as a little bit of accountability or a little bit of homework.

I'm not trying to give you work to do, but really the purpose of the book is to help you make change. As that step of accountability, I'd like to say -- everyone who listens to, there's an audiobook you can get, or who reads the actual physical book that you get in the mail, what is that one action step?

Whether it's an action step, sort of your gold nugget from each chapter, maybe it's ... There's 14 chapters in the book. Maybe it's three of the chapters that really resonate with you. I'd love to hear from you. What is that action step that you're going to take? How are you going to change your life? What's your goal in doing that? As always, email me --

Next Week’s Episode

Next week, I'll be back with another great episode of the podcast, and this one's awesome. It's actually the first time I've ever had a personal friend of mine on the podcast. This guy, he's been one of my closest friends for almost 20 years. He's an amazing personal trainer and health and fitness coach, and he's actually my accountability buddy.

I'm really excited for me to be able to introduce him to you. We're going to be talking about comparing ourselves to others in terms of fitness, what we should be able to do performance wise, but also in life in general. This is one you are not going to want to miss. That's it for today. Can't wait to see you here again next week.

Thanks for joining me today!

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