Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Health Hacks Podcast Producer Talks About The Hottest Health Show On The Internet

Kevin-Kennedy Spaien discusses health, podcasting and the new media

I recently told you about a brand new project I joined called the Health Hacks Podcast. The Executive Producer of the show is my blogging friend Kevin Kennedy-Spaien (remember when we referred to him as Mister Tut?) asked me to join the Health Hacks Posse to talk about health, diet and fitness in a weekly show. Oh what fun this has been so far!

If you have missed these incredible podcasts, then go listen to them:

Episode Beta
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4

New shows are always available on Wednesdays at

Kevin was kind enough to give me a few moments of his very busy schedule to talk about the hottest health podcast show on the Internet today (of course, I'm a bit biased!):

1. I'm pleased to welcome to the "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" blog today a friend and fellow podcaster, Kevin Kennedy-Spaien. I met Kevin in 2005 through his Health-Hacks web site and he recently asked me to join him in a new project called the Health Hacks Podcast. As the Executive Producer of this up-and-coming new podcast, what did you expect from starting such a unique and entertaining way to talk about health?

Thanks, Jimmy. I expected to bring a certain much needed resource to the people. In a word, Motivation. There's so much information available on fitness, diet and health...almost an embarrassment of riches. So why are people still not with the program? Why is America currently on a trajectory toward universal obesity by the year 2058?

My answer is motivation. Look at people who are successful--they've got it. Something piqued their interest and they discovered their entree to the world of fitness and health. Maybe it was an ad for Tae Bo, Maybe it was Sweatin' With The Oldies, or square dancing at the YMCA as a kid. Perhaps it was even reading about the Atkins metabolic advantage on web sites like the "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" blog.

But you know what? Something sparked that interest in those people and they learned that healthy habits make you feel even more enthused and motivated. My goal is for us to be one of those enabling paths. We use smart words, humor, original ideas from real people and energetic music to create a 20-30 minute blast of thoughtful inspiration each week.

2. The Health Hacks Podcast includes a wide variety of voices in the field of health, diet, fitness and nutrition. Tell my readers a little more about the featured contributors and why they were chosen to be the inaugural "posse" for the Health Hacks Podcast.

The first group of contributors to join the Podcast Posse were people I've interacted with in the past. Of course you and I have been pals since we both started our sites at around the same time. How could I not invite one of the most outspoken and enthusiastic writers on any kind of diet to participate?

Reinhard Engels, I came to know through the No S diet forums while I was working on a story about that plan. I was impressed by all the systems he developed to help him in his own life, and I wanted to help get that message out to the world.

I've been very lucky that you and he shared my vision for using the power of the spoken word to spread the message of health, fitness and motivation. Where did I get that vision? Chris Brogan.

Chris has catapulted to pretty major status in the Web2.0/New Media industry during 2006. I became aware of him through his writing at, a Technorati 100 blog. One day he signed a post with "Add me as a myspace friend." So, I did.

I mentioned to him that I often quote his work at my blog and asked him if he "wanted to cross-pollinate." He went and checked out HHDC and then asked me to team up with him and two other Executive Producers in building a podcast network around his show "Fat Guy Gets Fit" and the other properties Career Mom Radio ( and The Great Big Small Business Show ( After he showed me this world, I fell in love with the idea.

3. Are you open to having more voices join the conversation? If so, how can interested individuals go about sharing their insights and experiences regarding health with the Health Hacks Podcast?

Always. Always, always, always. The easiest way to send us a quick idea is to call our comment line at 978-416-BE-OK (that's 978-416-2365) which is free if you call from someone else's phone! The other way is to send an MP3 to If we can use it, we will.

Don't feel that you need to conform to a diet or fitness perspective we've already discussed. We are looking for new and different ideas based on empirical knowledge. All we ask is that you be respectful of the dietary paths of others. Oh yes, and iTunes has us listed as a G-rated show, so don't be a potty mouth (I struggle with that one, myself!).

Try to give a tip or some kind of immediately actionable item in your submission, so people have something tangible to take away from your story. Also, make sure to put your passion in your voice!

4. You said on a recent Health Hacks Podcast that you are still searching for the right way of eating for you and that you are attempting to put the best parts of all the diets you have been on to create your own "Frankendiet." How's that going for you? Share what you are doing and what kind of success you have seen so far.

Well, it's not so much about finding the perfect diet for me, it's more just a pure experiment to see what could be done about bringing a "concordance" to the different things we'd been discussing. I've now lost about 8 pounds, and a pants size. I need to get a new belt as well, as I'm still loose on the last notch.

5. As a former low-carber, why did you feel the need to quit livin' la vida low-carb? What was it about the low-carb lifestyle that made you stop doing it altogether?

I'm not certain that I'd call myself a former low carber. Former Atkins, perhaps. I still firmly believe that useless carbs are the worst kind of sabotage we can inflict on ourselves. However I and many others no longer believe that BDK is the only way... I think even Dr. Atkins towards the end softened his stance on BDK being necessary to low carb weight loss.

And, of course, the very, very smart Dana Carpender is still my idol.

6. Are there any lessons you learned from your low-carb experience that will stick with you for the rest of your life?

I'm old enough to remember when the low-fat craze began. I vividly remember people going around saying "Did you know that popcorn and potatoes aren't really fattening? It's all the butter people use that's the real problem."

Fast forward to the point where I became obese a few years later, and then the point a decade after that when I discovered Atkins. I very quickly learned a few things at that point.

1. Don't blindly trust conventional wisdom.
2. Don't trust the FDA to be completely impartial and devoid of political influence.
3. Different things work for different people, mostly (but not entirely) due to their own personal psychology.

7. A central theme of your segments on the Health Hacks Podcast has been getting more exercise into your life. You have done it by parking two blocks from your workplace and walking as well as taking the stairs to your desk. Are you doing any other kind of organized exercise? How much time daily do you think you have invested in your fitness routine since you first began this renewed commitment to physical activity?

It's hard to say. In real terms, about 20 minutes a day, but it has carry-over effects into the rest of my life. As I am getting fitter, I do more incidental walking and movement than I used to. Also, my improved metabolism is helping me burn more calories even when I'm sitting still.

My biggest prior weight loss, was associated with riding a bike for 20-30 minutes a day, but that isn't an option for me at this time.

8. Although the Health Hacks Podcast is still on a few weeks old, what has the response been like? What do you hope to see happen with the show by the time 2007 rolls around? In other words, define your idea of success for the Health Hacks Podcast.

Well, the show has been looked at by people from "real radio" with an eye toward syndication, but we were told that while the show is excellent overall, and the audio quality is OK by podcast standards, it isn't quite up to "broadcast" level. We're a new company (Grasshopper New Media) and we don't have the moolah (yet) to buy all of our people professional recording rigs and hire engineers. Personally I'm the under-the-hood guy for our show right now and I spend over 20 hours a week putting everyone's raw audio together into a finished package.

But really, I don't much care if we are listened to on the web, the radio, or even tin cans and string...What I do care about is just getting the message out and especially getting regular people like your readers and mine, to share their personal stories of struggles and triumphs toward fitness.

By next year, I want to see us with sufficient sponsorship to ensure this can be sustainable in the long run. I want to see people think of the Health Hacks Podcast as a sort of "This American Life" of health reportage. Further, expect to see more shows added to the GNM health channel, especially video- the wave of the future. Anyone who wants their own health show is free to pitch it to me because we're actively looking to have seven different shows for seven days. On down the line why not 24/7 programming, if it is sustainable?

9. You have an interesting job for someone who is so interested in health. Tell my readers what you do for a living and how that impacts your weight and health.

My day job is working for a major educational company. You'd know the name. It is a two hour commute each way from my home and back. This has cut a huge amount of time out of my life for fitness, as well as forcing a more sedentary lifestyle on me. This also lead to dietary "compromises" and "shortcuts". After a few years the weight started to creep back on, then a major depression and boom! All my weight loss I had worked so hard for was gone.

I realized I had to do a few things. First, stop BSing myself that I wasn't really depressed and get some help. For me, that meant medicine. Next was to find both dietary and fitness systems that I could shoehorn into my life, since my life couldn't be changed. That is still evolving even now, and as people tune in to our show, they will get an opportunity to learn with me as I explore ways of overlaying a healthy mindset over a chaotic and increasingly UNhealthy world.

10. THANK YOU again, Kevin, for sharing just a smidge of what's going on in your life and with your amazing new Health Hacks Podcast show right now. Do you have any parting words of wisdom and encouragement to share with the faithful "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" blog readers?

Share what you learn with others. Do it by yourself, or with others, just help spread the word that improved health is something anyone can earn. All it really means is taking simple deliberate steps towards an improved quality of life, not that you need to end up living in a gym and looking like a challa stuffed into a Speedo.

Be sure to tune in to brand new episodes of the Health Hacks Podcast on Wednesdays by clicking here.

9-28-06 UPDATE: Kevin blogged about his interview with me at his web site today. He said he is getting a HUGE response from people interested in being a part of the Health Hacks Podcast. COOL!

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Blogger low carb tennis guy said...

Hey, Jimmy. Good interview, but I have a couple of questions. What does "BDK" mean??? And how can you be a "former Atkins", but not a "former low carber"??? Thanks.

9/27/2006 1:06 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Hi, this is Kevin again.

If I could, I'd like offer a response to Low Carb tennis Guy's questions.

First, I'll answer his second question. Dr. Atkins was not the only person to develop a low-carb diet. William Banting was promoting a LC plan his doctor developed back in the 1800's. Today there are many low carb plans, most of which differ in small ways. If you include "controlled carbohydrate" diets then you can even lump in the South Beach diet and other similar plans.

One major difference between the plan developed (as a work in progress over decades of gradual evolution) by Dr. Atkins and many of the other plans is the "Atkins Metabolic Advantage", a physiological response triggered by a near absense of carbs. It is more commonly known as Ketosis, but Dr. Atkins, in his later years, favored the term Beneficial Dietary Ketosis, or BDK.

The reason for the new term is that many DOCTORS (gasp!) didn't realize that there is a difference between ketosis and a very harmful but completely unrelated condition called ketoacidosis. These doctors would tell patients to avoid the Atkins plan like the plague, out of ignorance.

Now the problem with ketosis is that while it makes your body burn fat rather than other fuels, it can be really hard to trigger ketosis. Moreover many LC dieters found they could lose significant amounts of weight without reaching ketosis.

I, myself had much trouble reaching ketosis, and was blowing a fortune on ketone test-strips, even though I was losing weight at a good clip. I did find, though, that while Atkins stressed that you wouldn't need to conciously limit your food intake that didn't work for me.

You see, in theory, he had a great idea. Atkins was relying on the hunger/fullness mechanism to kick in, which is likely to happen because fats and proteins are filling. However, a certain portion of americans (like me) had such a screwed up way of eating (thanks, McDonald's!) that we no longer really understood these concepts of "full" and "hunger".

So, anyway, I found that I did need some external control on portion sizes, which is why I now pair low-carb dieting with the No-S diet (and the Shangri-La diet, but using oil, not sugar).

I still support the Atkins diet both in theory and, for those it suits, in practice. Look at Jimmy- who can argue with that kind of success?!

For more great info on different Low Carb diets, please read Dana Carpender's excellent "How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet And Lost 40 Pounds".

9/27/2006 1:52 PM  

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