Brainless Health: Simple Health Habits for Smart People
Episode 579

John Patton, Author, Brainless Health

Brainless Health: Simple Health Habits for Smart People

In this episode, I am privileged to host John PattonJohn is an excellent communicator. He is also the author of the book “Brainless Health: Simple Health Habits for Smart People”. In our conversation, John breaks down the ways people are brainless when it comes to health. He shares funny yet inspiring anecdotes, statistics on health, how he dealt with COVID, some preparations we can do to keep our body healthy, and more. This is a very interesting conversation and one we enjoyed, so please tune in.

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Brainless Health: Simple Health Habits for Smart People

Episode 579

About John Patton

John is the Director of Public Affairs of the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD). Before that, he was the Executive Director at the ProVention Health Foundation. He founded Fairhill Marketing and was the Chief Marketing Officer at Firefly Communities LLC.

John is also the author of the book “Brainless Health: Simple Health Habits for Smart People”. This book was born out of his desire to shoot straight with the general public about what they could do to reduce their risk for diabetes, cancer, heart disease, as well as steer clear of wheelchairs and oxygen tanks by applying simple habits to their daily life. He speaks in plain English and draws on real-life stories and examples that make the science of public health relatable, practical and possible.

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Brainless Health: Simple Health Habits for Smart People with John Patton, Author, Brainless Health was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best audio automated transcription service in 2020. Our automated transcription algorithms works with many of the popular audio file formats.

Saul Marquez:
Welcome back to the Outcomes Rocket, Saul Marquez is here and today I have the privilege of hosting John Patton. He’s a career communicator and marketer. And after 20 years of private industry work, one of his non-profit public health clients asked them to lead their communications department. John became fascinated with the organization’s work to prevent chronic diseases. Ten years later, he is still working for that organization and helping the CDC reach Americans at risk for chronic disease. His new book, Brainless Health, was born out of his desire to shoot straight with the general public about what they could do to reduce their risk for diabetes, cancer, heart disease, as well as steer clear of wheelchairs and oxygen tanks by applying simple habits to their daily life. He speaks in plain English and draws on real-life stories and examples that make the science of public health relatable, practical and possible. And so who wouldn’t want that in their lives? I know. I definitely do. And so it’s my pleasure to welcome you to the podcast. John, I’m so privileged to have you here with us so much.

John Patton:
And I do appreciate the last comment. But who would want that in their life? I believe that when you have health, you have real well-being and when you have a being that, well, you have success in life. I mean, conversely, if you don’t have health, it’s going to be hard to achieve much in life, relationally or professionally, certainly not physically. So it is something that everybody should want and I think they do. And so my hope is to help them get there in simple ways.

Saul Marquez:
I love it. And you know, John, I had a guest on the podcast several years ago say our nation’s wealth is its health, and you’re going to help us dive into that further and how important it is today, especially with COVID and everything that’s happening even more important than ever. Tell us before we obviously dive into Brainless Health, your book and the work that you do with that and things that we could apply to our daily lives. What inspires your work in health care?

John Patton:
You know, like you said in the introduction, I really came into this field of public health and health care by accident, working with a client. And as I learned more about them, I just caught the passion for what they were doing and the fact that we can actually, through lifestyle interventions, lifestyle change, lifestyle behavior, can really impact the health of ourselves and of our country. And so I’ve worked with physicians. I work with public health folks, state health departments, county health department and the general public. And so it’s really light. My fire helps me get out of bed in the morning are the stories of people who actually take control of their health. It’s not all bootstrapping and just personal responsibility and making a new resolution, essentially using the resources that are available in public health. A lot of programs and projects out there that they can use as resources, but also each other and their communities. But ultimately, it is their will to change their life and change really generations behind them.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, it’s inspiring work and say you’ve taken a personal approach to it, you know, just simple habits that we can use to improve our health. Tell us a little bit about the book and your work and how it’s adding value to the ecosystem.

John Patton:
Brainless Health was something that was the title of the book came about because I kept coming back to the fact that we’re were really brainless things, meaning not dumb things, things that you don’t have to think about to put into practice long before COVID people have been washing their hands. Now, that’s brainless. Our mothers and fathers, daughters, wash your hands. We can avoid all myriad diseases just by doing that alone. People will say all the time that they are they’re sick and they caught something, you know, the other. And that’s true. And it could have just come from some real simple germs they were carrying around and transmitting. So these things like that, the government doesn’t like to use the word exercise. They like to say physical activity. Well, physical activity is Catala. It’s not an intuitive kind of word choice. And it can mean a lot of things that come in your house to be physical activity. But it’s not going to help your pre diabetic state. It’s not going to reverse your numbers. You need to exercise. We all know what that means, whether we like it or not, need elevated heart rate and exercise and sweat. And so those are the kind of things that I put in plain English. I tell fun stories about my own life because I made a transformation inspired by many other people in my life. And I really I really think it’s time that we shoot straight with people, stop giving each other an out. And just because a salad might cost more than a couple of cheeseburgers, does it mean we have an excuse to to order the two of us?

Saul Marquez:
Not all the time, at least now. I love it, John. So tell me, I mean, I love to hear a good story. I mean, tell me about your transformation.

John Patton:
Well, I tell you, you know, I had a very stressful job as CEO of my own company for fifteen years, and I. Stressed out all the time, I mean, in an excited way, sometimes it is certainly an anxiety so many business owners would know. And so as a result, it kind of took that McDonald’s jingle, you deserve a break today to heart. So every day after work, I would take a break. I would have some ice cream and has some alcohol and have whatever sit on the couch, relax, try to unwind. And then the next day it was it was kind of the same. I didn’t wake up with with a jump on my staff. Instead, I was sluggish and I just said, wait a minute. There was a famous guy named Bill Phillips who said I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. We’ve heard that repeated many times. Hopefully people have and is a visual truth to it. And so I said, you know, let me try health. Let me try avoiding some of these things or cutting back in a moderate way and see if I if I’ll survive without that second piece and also if I’ll actually thrive, if I’ll feel better and sure enough, will change started to take place. And I’ve never looked down. And so it’s fun to build these simple habits into other ones, like you stare the escalator and typically on the side of the escalator and bunch of stairs. And the question is, you know, which are you going to take? And if your brain has been, you know, automatically programmed, I see stairs, I take them, you’re going to benefit.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. Now, that’s good stuff. I appreciate you sharing that, John. And, you know, I didn’t know that the government didn’t like to use the word exercise.

John Patton:
It’s a word that they’ve done a lot of testing. As you can imagine, the government saw that data and so they tested and people don’t like that word. It doesn’t resonate with them. And I understand exercise is hard, and yet the benefits are amazing. And typically, people push through exercise and make it a discipline of daily three or four times a week habit. They actually the hatred goes away. They start to like it. They like how they feel. They feel like they’ve accomplished something and it really can stick.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, no, I’m with you there, John. I mean, I’ve tried different things. I’ve worked with try to work out by myself or with the trainer. And for me it just I have to use a trainer. And, you know, the COVID things have been really interesting because I’m now fully virtual with my strength trainer. And I took a break and man, I gained seven pounds and I lost muscle mass. And you just have to find that sweet spot for you. Right.

John Patton:
And for me, I had to hire a trainer, you know, and testimony, because that just underscores the fact that we need to join hands with those around us. It really comes down to accountability and inspiration and encouragement. I love to see people find people to walk with in the neighborhood. They catch up, they build a friendship and their exercise. I love to go to the gym for that very reason. I see people there. I, I am inspired by what they’re lifting or how long they’re running or the angle of their treadmill. And so I get motivated to kind of join with them. So I agree is great. Is home fitness equipment is and if you can use it fabulous. I support that.

Saul Marquez:
Certainly convenient. It’s certainly not the end all be all just you know, despite the infomercials on TV make it look like.

Saul Marquez:
Well yeah. And you know, the one of the things that I’ve learned through my training is my trainer says because I’ll be like I’m not feeling the best today, but I’m in, I’m in. He’s like, why do you have to feel good every time before you train? I’m just like, wow, that’s a good point.

John Patton:
Just do a great point. Just do it right. That is exaggerated.

Saul Marquez:
And it’s like, well, I’ll drive to the gym sometime and I’ll be like going. I only have twenty minutes and I say, well that’s a lot better than zero minutes.

John Patton:
I mean, you know, it’s not ideal, but we’re going to do with it. You know what I can. So good to years of it.

Saul Marquez:
Hey, so tell me about the book and what is it about the book, Brainless Health that is different than all the other things out there? And if possible, help us take a couple of tidbits from it, maybe a hook.

John Patton:
Sure. Well, you know, it’s funny, as I began to ruminate on this idea, I went to the store, I went online, I started to look at the health books and, you know, by and large, good marketing. They’re all trying to find a little niche. They’re trying to find a specialty, whether it’s health or tumeric or plant based proteins. I mean, fill in the blank, you know, the no green diet. It’s just amazing to me. And I think probably, I don’t know, 90 percent of them are probably spot on. The problem is virtually impossible for the average American average human being to follow. I mean, you can start to measure your food, weigh your food, you know, count your steps, log everything on a thousand different apps on your phone. But it’s going to take some real focus. And then you’re trying to be disciplined about actually. Shopping to the Right. food and going to the gym or exercising is just a lot. They would go into that if you weren’t training for some Olympic event, it might prove too difficult. And so I said, well, golly, are there any books out there that just drive home the things that can really, really prevent a world of hurt in a simple way? Give me an example. We jump in our car, most of us, we drive to the grocery store. It’s around the corner. Maybe just a five minute drive. We don’t buckle up our seatbelts. Well, we get into a wreck either the or we’re in a wheelchair or we have some traumatic brain injury. I mean, it’s just painful for all the six hundred thousand plus deaths due to cosied, twice as many are attributed to vehicle accidents or death. So this is painful statistics out there. And we can just strap on your seatbelt and you’re good to go. You know, people go to the beach all the time, no sunscreen. They get burned all the time. Well, sunscreens, killing people, you know, every single hour in this country is highly preventable. And sunscreen, you know, is something called a hat. I mean, that’s brainless. Little hat in your bag for having a car, you know, and sadly, all these years later, we’re still smoking. I mean, this is the most insane habit known to man. It is just given what we know now, back in the day, we didn’t know. Okay. Ignorance is bliss, maybe. But today there’s no excuse. And on top of that, there’s seven thousand ways to to quit from the quit lines to chewing gum to the patches, I mean, ad nauseum. And so for people to continue to pollute their body, it’s just it’s just really crazy. So things like just knowing and I extend it, I say it’s on fire. Don’t put it in your mouth like it was a cigar or joint or a pipe or whatever. I mean, just let’s let’s make it brainless. Let’s not try to split hairs. So so those are some of the things in the book. But, you know, I think it’s important, too, to just talk about the need for relational health. We talk about the you can still write somebody a letter. It’s good for you. It’s good for them just because we’ve got social media and phones. Yeah. I mean, it’s really something we forget. We’ve been doing it for centuries. And then all of a sudden we stop because we’ve got these technology tools in our hands. But people love to get a letter and then just staying in touch, especially during clothing, making sure reach use that cell phone as a phone, actually call somebody. And, you know, we’re really a bright new day and can encourage you.

John Patton:
And relational health and physical health are really connected out of a job, you know, and I’m laughing because it’s so dreamless Right. like you and I get why you called it brainless. But the fact is we don’t do it and we could we do a lot of these things, but there’s things on the list that maybe we’re not doing. And so I personally love writing. Thank you cards and then sending them out. And it does a lot for me personally, Right.. But the other day I got a card from a good friend that I work with and I’ll tell you what, it made my day. It was awesome. And he’s big into typewriter’s. So he buys like these like ancient typewriter things. And he just like typed a letter, sent it to me and I thought it was so great. Like, it just like showed me that he took time out of his day to just acknowledge and appreciate me. And it made a big difference for me. So it kind of reinforced my love for doing that for others. But just such a great example that you’ve given us here, as you think about what you’re doing, John, to improve outcomes and make people’s lives better, what’s something that you could point to as an example of that?

John Patton:
So one area that I work in, in public health is around diabetes prevention, also cancer prevention and heart disease, stroke, arthritis. The diabetes has an incredible program this year, 88 million people alive in America right now with pre diabetes. Their blood sugar is just there at the borderline of developing a deadly disease and diabetes. And yet it can be completely reversed. So one in three Americans can actually need to pay attention to this. 90 percent of them don’t know their pre died. It’s just a really powerful thing. Nine out of ten of those 80 million Americans are completely unaware of their condition. And so they can find out very simply with a blood test to get their doctors at their health check ups and visits. Are they done any tests in place and get your blood drawn to the special thing and see test. So there’s a program out there that the government’s developed called the National Diabetes Prevention Program. And it’s nothing more than kind of a group chat. Once a week they go through a curriculum. There are no drugs involved. And yet this program is twice as effective as the leading pharmacological solution of the leading. Description, drug solution. So, you know, is that kind of stuff that we provide the providers to physicians to refer their patients to this program? We do it through national campaigns, is direct to the consumer to say, hey, check out this. And then there are the ones like Right. is programs and things that people can do that are going to elevate their movement and even impact the mental health of it.

Saul Marquez:
Some great examples there. You know, we all run into setbacks and I’m sure you’ve had your share as an entrepreneur and business leader in health. So would you want to share set back with us and what a key learning from it was?

John Patton:
Certainly so. It’s real timely. It’s a great question. Thank you. Because I’m just two weeks out of being diagnosed with positive COVID results. Yeah, it was a real surprise. A pretty healthy guy trying to walk the talk. And when it came knocking on my door and it was really a setback. It was something. Yeah. Uniquely different than a disease illness than a virus I’ve had before. It takes you out. It’s almost like mourning. The exhaustion is incredible. It has the fever and the chills, the blazing headaches. I mean, that was all pretty brutal, but the shortness of breath was really the scary part, not being able to get oxygen into your lungs. I’ve never experienced that before. And obviously that’s that’s a key component. And so, you know, that was that was a big, big hit. And it also has a little impact on your mental health. You guys are pretty down and depressed, more than typical, just not being at home and stuff. And that’s been the case with a number of sightings and research. So those are some things the listeners can kind of prepare for. But also the room learning that came away from it is that we need to not just protect ourselves. Like stay inside. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. That’s all good. And we need to do that. But we need to prepare to prevent it. We need to batten down the hatches. And we were talking earlier and I said if a hurricane is coming or going to hit land, everybody flies into prevention mode. We’re going to put up the walls on our houses, on the windows. And that’s how we need to approach this. We need to make sure that we are, even if it’s just for the next few weeks, cutting out the junk of a diet to fuel our bodies with nutrients, get some really good food in our bodies, and then take a walk, get some air in those months, treat the lungs like a muscle and stretch them and give them lots of oxygen and healthful kind of behaviors. So, you know, I tell you, now that I’m over it, those are the very things I’m doing. I’m not licking my wounds and sitting back. I’m actually getting even more prepared in the event it comes calling again.

Saul Marquez:
Well, I think that’s number one. I’m so happy that you’re OK. Brutal that you had to go through that. But the takeaway for all of us and to learn from John’s experience here is what are we doing to prepare ourselves? You know, how are we fueling our body? Are we running? Are we walking? Are we being active, washing hands? All of these things are important. And, you know, if it does happen to be that we get infected with covid, then the stronger we can make our bodies, the better will be. And obviously, John’s here. We’re having a conversation. So he’s done a great job of taking care of himself. It’s an inspiration for us to take care of ourselves. And so, John, what are you most excited about today with your work and things going on in health care?

John Patton:
ll, you know, I got to say, I’ve been a shameless plug for your work. I’m most excited about folks like yourself that are allowing me a voice and a venue to get the word out about how they can really effortlessly protect themselves. There are a lot of things that come out of the blue. Some cancers just fall out of the sky. Nobody knows how you get them. But there are a lot of cancers that are preventable, certainly diabetes, certainly other diseases and conditions like high blood pressure. There are real ways to reduce our stress and reduce our risk for these deadly diseases without even thinking. And then if we want if we got extra time on our hands and we want to study up on tumeric on gluten, that’s fabulous. Go for it. Red meat. That’s great. You know, dig into those very interesting areas and they may help you. But, you know, in the meantime, make sure you’re wearing your helmet. You can take a bicycle ride sparkling, you see thrown on your sunscreen, take in a little mini vacation, especially during these times of covid when we’re all a little more stressed out, a little more cooped up. You know, we’ve got to to really make sure that we’re taking care of our mental health, our emotions and our relationships above it.

Saul Marquez:
John, you know, you definitely do a nice job of keeping it simple for all of us to think about our health. And as we wrap up our chat today, I love to ask you to leave us with the closing thought and then the best place for the listeners could get in touch with you and learn more about the program you’ve laid out in your book.

John Patton:
Super well, I appreciate that question, because it really even as simple as I try to make it, there’s still a lot of chapters in my book. And so when I boil it down, it’s really fueling your body and moving your body in. That’s the deal. If you feel it properly, you’re going to be able to move it properly. If you move it properly, it’s going to cycle back. You’re going to need some more fuel. And if you do those two things, just those two things, watch what you put into your body and move your body. It doesn’t mean run a marathon. It means walk to the end of the driveway and get your mail. It means walking around the grocery store two or three times, looking for four different things or very different grocery store where you don’t know everything exists, you know, things like that. Just make sure you move moving, get out and get a walk in. So feel it and move it. And I really think you’re going to be amazed at the impact it’s going to have. And then as far as getting in touch with me, it’s rainless health. Dot com is the website. You can find my book there. You can email me there. My email is just John Passell at this health dot com. But, you know, just shoot me questions. I work with business leaders. I work with physicians. I work with people from the general public that are trying to hold down three jobs and still get health into their life. So I no questions. Two simple and bring this.

Saul Marquez:
I love it, John. Well, listen, I appreciate your approach. I like keeping things simple. And the message here is fuel it and move it and many more inside of the book. So make sure you guys check out John at Brainless Health Dotcom. And John, just want to say thank you again for spending time with us.

Saul Marquez:
Well, thank you Saul so much. Keep up the great work. You’ve got a lifelong fan.

John Patton:
Thanks, John. All right. Take care.

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Things You’ll Learn

  • Good health means success in life.
  • Program your brain to take small healthy steps every day.
  • Relatable and practical tips to be healthy