Episode 157 | February 26, 2019

The Virgin Diet with JJ Virgin

A Personal Note from Orion

It’s the harsh, sad truth: we live in a consistently toxic environment, where the damage is caused by everything from chemicals in the carpet we walk on to the milk we drink. And all of these toxins have a great impact on our body, causing the kind of internal chaos that prevents you from losing weight, sleeping right, or even feeling normal

Luckily there are many ways that you can be proactive about your health, and find the foods, routines, and lifestyle choices that minimize your exposure to toxins. Because when you change your habits, you change your life.

My guest today is an amazing public speaker, a media personality and a four-time New York Times bestselling author. You may have heard of JJ Virgin as she’s well on her way to helping a billion people get healthy. Tune in to learn how she teaches clients how to lose weight and master their mindset to help them maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle.


About Today’s Show

Hello and welcome to Stellar Life podcast. I have with me a celebrity nutrition expert and a megastar, JJ Virgin.


Yes, you are.

Okay, I’ll take it. I’ll take it.

She’s an amazing public speaker, a media personality and a four-time New York Times bestselling author. Her books include The Virgin Diet and The Sugar Impact Diet. She has worked with performance athletes, CEOs, and A-list celebrities from around the world. She teaches clients how to lose weight and master their mindset to help them maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle. Hello! Welcome!

Hello. I’m still trying to recover over the megastar thing. I was on the floor. I got back up. I’m back in my chair.

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So everybody starts with what you do which is nutrition and how you help people. We’ll get to that but before we get to that, what were you like as a child?

I think I was kind of a big brat. A bit of a brat and maybe even a little bit of a bully but in a good way because what I couldn’t stand seeing were kids getting pushed around on the playground. If I saw that, I went in, and intercept and took the blows. I think there’s an interesting test called The Color Code test. What they do is they have you go back and take this test as if you are a kid. Their whole premise, this guy, Taylor Hartman, his whole premise is, “We are still that person.” And I have to agree because when I look back as to how I was as a kid, I was totally into dance but the fitness side of it, back then it was called calisthenics. I was totally into nutrition. I got into it at the age of 12. I was working with people, kind of being the diet police way back then and teaching dance in high school. I’ve always been doing this stuff.

That’s amazing. Reading your bio, I’ve learned that at one point you discovered that mainstream way is not really the way and you discovered new ways to teach nutrition and health to people.

Here’s what’s really helpful is, if you actually get paid which when you think about it like, “Shouldn’t this always be the way it is?” Just think about how the world would change if you got paid on the results from the transformation that you created rather than the activity, right? So, me, Body By Jake and Mark Sisson of Primal Kitchen and Mark’s Daily Apple, we were the first personal trainers that we know of. Mark and I were actually just together kind of talking about that, so funny, and this was lots of years ago. I became a personal trainer because I was running an aerobics studio, and someone wanted me to come to their house—that’s how I became a personal trainer, but there weren’t any really.

I had an overbooked clientele really quick. In fact, I graduated from UCLA, all my friends were going out to get jobs, and I was making five times their starting salaries doing this personal training thing, but no one was going to pay me if I got them worst. Most of the people at the time were coming in to lose weight and what I was being taught at school was that if you want to lose weight, you had to create a 500-calorie deficit every single day. You have to count your calories and count your activity to create this. What I discovered, because the majority of my clients were 35 plus women, what I discovered fairly quickly was that didn’t work. Sometimes it worked but not always. In fact, I took a group of women to a retreat in Santa Barbara. It was awesome because I controlled everything. I knew exactly what they were eating, how they were working out, and so if it was a math equation like they presented this to be, it would’ve been very easy for me to get them to lose two pounds on a week by just this calorie deficit.

The reality was some people lost weight, and some people didn’t lose weight, and some people even gained weight. That’s when I kind of went, “I’m just going to blow up this whole thing and dig in, try to figure out if it’s not about calories….” and while they do count, where they come from counts more, there’s a big difference between eating 1000-calorie with some sugar or 1000-calories from fat or protein. I was like, “Alright, let’s figure this out and see what gets in the way of you losing weight? What can cause you to gain weight?” That’s where I made that big shift to them. In fact, I didn’t even know I was known for this and I started to see it quoted everywhere that, “Your body isn’t a bank account; it’s a chemistry lab.” Because it really comes down to what is it that you’re doing, how you’re behaving, eating, sleeping, thinking, moving that is going to either better at burning fat or better at storing it. I know what I want to be better at and I’m pretty sure you do too.

Yeah. I love that story. What I do now is I do life coaching for women. I help them in finding self-love, finding confidence, and also finding their soulmate. But before that, I used to be a personal trainer as well. Similar to your experience, there was a variance. Some people got it, some people didn’t, and some things worked for some and some didn’t work for others. For me, the biggest component was teaching them mindset. I was really into NLP and influence at that time and while I was stretching them on the bed, I used to put embedded commands.

That’s so awesome.

It really helped them shift. But being previously in the fitness industry myself, the more I look into nutrition, the more I look into fitness, it can be really confusing and overwhelming and there’s so much information. How did you create The Virgin Diet? It took a lot of years I bet of researching and refining but what’s your process like?

You know what’s so cool is that now with the internet, this is like the most confusing situation, it’s crazy. But back then, it really wasn’t. I’ve always learned things by testing them on myself, testing them with a group of clients while I’m studying the science. The challenge is for a lot of the things we’re doing, there’s probably no double-bind, placebo-controlled studies but there are pathways. When you get down to it, if you really start to study hormones and biochemistry, all the answers are there. The first thing that I wrestled with is like, “Okay. If it’s not about just calories, what is it?” I started messing around with macronutrients with food.

Again, it’s what should you eat, how much should you eat, and when should you eat it because it was pretty clear you shouldn’t be eating a big meal and going to sleep. I also saw that women, when they skipped breakfast—because I know there’s a whole lot of stuff about intermittent fasting, I’m a huge fan of it—but I also saw that when women skip breakfast, they tend to just fall off the cliff. What I found was it’s way better for us to eat a little later breakfast but a lot earlier dinner. The big takeaway that I’ve really seen is there is no single diet that’s best for everybody. If you really look at what The Virgin Diet is at its core, it is you going through a process to get back in touch with how you feel when you eat things. When you look at a lot of the diets out there starting with Weight Watchers, they disconnect you from how you feel and how food’s making you feel to go, “Okay. I need this many points. You need to eat this time, this time, this time, this time.” I remember it used to be, “You eat breakfast, a snack, lunch, a snack, dinner and oh my gosh, a snack.” God forbid, you go to bed a little hungry. I was like, “But what if you’re not hungry? What if you don’t want to eat this thing?”

The big powerful thing here is we’ve got to figure which foods work for us and we’re all different and which foods don’t. Where The Virgin Diet came from was I was going around the country teaching this workshop to doctors called Overcoming Weight Loss Resistance. That came from me being on Dr. Phil for two years and he had his book. The last chapter in the book was weight loss resistance. My buddy, Dr. Tom Diaz actually helped him with that chapter. That was all about insulin resistance and I thought, “Well, that’s a part of it but what about stress? What about what goes up with your adrenals? What about gut? What about gut microbiome and food intolerance? What about toxicity? What about menopause and all of the stuff going on there?” As I start to really unpack that, I realized the starting point for all of this was food. I was doing a lot of food sensitivity testing with doctors and I noticed that it was always the same food showing up. I thought, “You know, what we’ve got to give people are quick wins.” Because the big challenge I see out there in the weight loss world is people have just given up. They just figured, “You know what, I’m getting older. These are my genes. It’s just too hard. It’s too confusing.” I knew that in order to get someone to really get into this, I had to show them that they weren’t crazy, that it wasn’t hopeless, and that it could work for them.

One of the cool things is if you are eating foods that aren’t working for you, that you’re intolerant to, it creates a host of problems; gas and bloating, joint pain, headaches, fatigue. But one of the big things it does is create inflammation. When you pull these foods out, you can quickly see a shift, and that quick shift gets you back in the game of going, “Wow! Maybe things can be different for me.” Because unless you believe this- and I know this is your platform- if you do not believe you can, if you don’t believe that’s possible…—we got to get them back to the possibility thinking. The Virgin Diet wasn’t something I sat at my desk and dreamt up. It was really something that I was going through the process of figuring out how people could lose weight. Because I just see weight loss as being at your ideal weight just because it’s one of the things of being healthy. An ideal weight is different for everybody but I was just looking for those clues and that clue that made the fastest impact was changing these foods that were hurting you.

If you are eating foods that you’re intolerant to, it creates a host of problems; gas and bloating, joint pain, headaches, fatigue, but most commonly, inflammation.

Alright. Those are what? Gluten-free, sugar-free, and dairy-free?

Again, they’re different for everybody. First, I started with testing. People would come into doctors’ office while I was teaching and working with them and I would do little assessment. People were coming in because they were hurting, bloated, tired, skin problems, food cravings, couldn’t lose weight. We would run this food intolerance test and they would come back three weeks later. We would look at what foods were hurting them, pull those foods out, and they’d have amazing results. Then I thought, “You know what, I hate waiting three weeks. Why don’t I just tab and take the test and I’ll pull the most common foods out anyway.” Then I found, we actually don’t need to do the test at all because the best test is you pulling the food out then coming back and re-challenging and go does it work for him or not. I don’t really care if a test says something works for me.

If I feel crappy when I eat it, who cares? Gluten is a huge one. Who knows, is it the gluten? Is it the fact we genetically engineer it in this country? Is it because we are spraying glyphosate all over it? It’s probably all of the above but it’s definitely not a healthy food here. Obviously, dairy is a big problematic food here. Now, if you’re having the right cows that were grass-fed and then they got it wrong and then they fermented it, that’s one thing but that’s not what people are doing. Gluten and dairy were huge ones. Corn because corn is very similar to gluten too. Wheat, it’s also hugely genetically-modified crop. Soy, ditto, a big genetically-modified crop that can cause a lot of shifts. The gluten, dairy, soy. The sad one was eggs which I’ve always felt this is one of those great foods but the promise we are what we eat/ate, and when you look at what’s happening to these factory chickens and the eggs, they’re just crappy. What I have found was a lot of people, especially autoimmune people, had trouble with eggs. Now it doesn’t mean forever.

All of these food intolerances are all a sign of leaky gut so you heal your gut, you can go back and eat high quality pastured eggs rotated into your diet but immediately we pull them out. Gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn and then peanuts which are not a nut, they are a legume. One of the crops that tend to be moldier have something called an aflatoxin mold and then I had to put sugar in, this is kind of funny. At first, I started with those six and then I was doing this online with the at that time, I’d have a couple hundred people in a little trial, and then do it and then refine it. What I found was that people when I pulled out the gluten and the dairy and the soy, they start eating loads of sugar. I was like, “Alright. Well, what do we know about sugar?” Fructose makes your gut more permeable, that’s one of the things it does.

Artificial sweeteners disrupt the gut microbiome; they actually make you more glucose intolerant than resistant. I was like clearly there’s a lot of issues with GMOs in sugar because corn syrup comes from corn and corn is GMO, so that was where the sugar had to come out. That’s why I actually wrote my second book was because people were like, “I’m so confused. Can’t I have honey?” But those were the first seven. The great thing about that is it’s in the 80-20 rule. 80% of the people are going to feel a lot better pulling those out. They may find that they do okay with a little bit of organic fermented soy rotated in or pastured eggs, but I find that majority of people do way better when they pull gluten and dairy out, and corn too, and they lower their sugar impact. It’s like a game changer. Those other ones initially and then we see how you do because we go back and challenge you.

I am right now gluten-free and dairy almost free. Sometimes I sin. I’ll have a piece of cheese but not really. Like, I’ll take a taste, but I want to get a pizza for example. Sugar, I like sugar. Sugar’s my friend. I know it’s not my best friend; it’s not very good for me.

It’s your mean girlfriend.

A mean girlfriend that I love to hang out with because she’s so entertaining.

And she talks behind your back and stabs you.

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For my coffee, I would use a monk fruit sugar. I don’t like stevia because I don’t like the aftertaste of it, but one monk fruit sugar works amazingly for me.

Monk fruit’s great. Don’t call it sugar, it’s monk fruit. It’s very similar when you look at monk fruit and stevia, what they are are herbs with a sweet taste. If you mix the two together, you can actually offset a little bit of that stevia. Or get the Riboside A without it but monk fruit and stevia to me are both pretty similar because what they really are are sweet herbs. They actually have health benefits. What you need to be careful with is any of what I call the legal sugars which are erythritol, xylitol, malleolus, monk fruit, stevia as well. Xylitol can give you gas–I call it the room-clearing gas effect. Some people can handle it, I can’t handle it. But any of those, you see which works for you but what’s really important there that doesn’t give you a hall pass on those. Here’s why: When you eat sweet, what do you want?

More sweet.


And more sweet, a little more sweet.

And more sweet. It’s like, “Woohoo.” Everything lights up. You want to use these and taper off of them. The first thing that I always teach people to do because, in the typical diet world, people say, “Okay, stop eating all these things.” Now they don’t tell you what other things to eat so the problem is they’ll go, “Stop eating the pizza. Have some broccoli instead.” I’m like that’s ridiculous. No one’s going to trade the pizza for broccoli, but they could use some nut cheese and there are some amazing nut cheeses out there. They could take a paleo tortilla of some sort or portobello and make a mock pizza and that would be their first swap. Or if they’re having pasta, use something like lentil pasta with some nut cheese and marinara. The first thing I have you do is swap. If you’re putting sugar in your coffee or worst that you’re putting artificial sweetener which is the devil, it’s way worse than sugar.

Why is that?

Because the artificial sweeteners disrupt your gut microbiome. We have more bacteria than other cells in our body. This bacteria, what we’re finding is that it really changes everything. It can actually make you gain weight, store more calories as fat. It can change your ability to tolerate and handle sugar so it can raise your blood sugar and make you more insulin-resistant and impacts your mood, your immune system, how well you absorb your nutrients, so it’s really important. What happens when you do artificial sweeteners is they actually could get in there and mess that up big time. They can make you more glucose-intolerant, they can impact your mood, they can make your gut leakier. There is not one positive thing to be said about our artificial sweetener so much so that if you were someone who was, say, hooked on Diet Coke, I would tell you to go have a coke.

Now fortunately, there is CVS where you can have stevia as a transition thing but I’m always looking for the cornerstone of how do we take you from a D or F on your diet, it’d be the red light, and how do we move you up, get a couple of grades up. If you were drinking a Diet Coke, better is Coke–I know that sounds shocking–but way better is Zevia. But better than that is to get some sparkling water in a glass bottle and then use some of the little drops that can make that taste like the soda or you can use some lemon or lime. I always look at how I move people along the path to get them an A in their diet. If someone’s getting a B or a C in their diet, I’m not going to take them from eating pizza to broccoli with ghee on it overnight.

That’s a very powerful observation because I just feel like, even for myself, when I got into, “Okay, I’m going to cut all three.” I think the reason why I still have sugar every once in a while, is that there is this psychology of, “I feel a little deprived.” What happened to me is I went to—I’m from Israel—I went there for five months and I was around a lot of yummy food and my mom’s cooking. All the instances that are bad for you. I had pizza, I had cakes, I have everything. I just had no control over what I ate. It was a working vacation, I was there for five months, I was still working. But there is also the emotional connection.

Well, you went home to mom. Every time I go home, I say, “Mom, I need a pecan pie.” And I was like, “You know what, just stop it. Stop it.”

Artificial sweeteners disrupt your gut microbiome and affect how well your cells absorb nutrients from the food you eat.

It’s interesting because I made a shift with my family. But for me and myself, I gained weight. That’s why I went like, “Okay. No sugar, no gluten, no this.” And I saw a big difference also in the way I feel. I like what you said about you can’t just go cold turkey. But there are also some people that for them, going cold turkey might be the best thing.

I got to tell you, I love what my buddy Dr. Hyman says that sugar is our number one recreational drug of choice. I think we can learn to use it responsibly, but it just depends if it’s a trigger for you or not. For me, I’m not a sweets person. Chips with salt? Forget it. Or a popcorn with salt, I’m like nose down, face in the popcorn bucket. You got to know your triggers. But I still think that if you’ve trained your body to be a sugar burner which so many people have—I mean, the way we teach people to eat now which breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner—eating lower fat, higher carb is basically me turning you into a sugar burner. If you take someone like that and you go, “Alright, we’re going keto and we’re going to do some intermittent fasting. We’ll start now.”

“It’s going to be great.”

They’re going to just absolutely crash and burn. Now if you put them in like a spa place for two weeks where they could scratch the walls, they’d be okay. What you need to do is what I think of as priming. That’s what the tapering part of the sugar impact diet says. It’s, “Don’t just go from eating the high-sugar impact diet which you may think that you’re not doing, but if you’re having straight marinara sauce and ketchup and fruit juices, you’re getting a lot of sugar.” We get a lot more than we realize. You’ve got to taper and train them to become aware. The difference is it will take you two to three weeks to do that and set you up for tremendous success versus you try to do this for three days and you will absolutely blow-up fail.

And then the worst part is when you fail, you will kick your butt so bad, you’re like, “Oh god. I knew I couldn’t do it.” And then you get this whole feedback loop of, “I’m a failure.” All this self-talk that we do, that’s just as terrible. I know everybody wants it right now, they want the results but boy, if you do the taper transition pieces of this and set yourself up for success, it’s amazing. This is what I would ask you, Orion, what are these foods that you feel deprived? What are they?

Pizza and pizza. Pizza, pizza, pizza. A lot of pizza.

Pizza. It’s a big pizza.

When I think about nut butter pizza which I tried, I’m like…

Well, not nut butter. That’s disgusting.

No, not nut butter. Nut cheese, sorry.

Okay, there is the most amazing, I wish had this back in the fridge but there’s a new nut cheese out that there’s a couple of them that are mind-blowing. Cappello’s has an incredible gluten-free crust. I would say just be open to that possibility that there are actually some incredible options now. Five years ago, I would have said, “You are hosed.” But nowadays, there are some amazing options out there or even if you did a little goat cheese pizza because I find a lot of people can handle goat cheese where they can’t handle cow’s milk. But with one of these gluten-free crusts,   some incredible ones out there. Give it a go. You have two pieces of that with a salad.

I will do that.

If you feel like you can never eat pizza, you’re going to sit down, and when you do if the pizza, what are you going to do?

Just look at it and cry.

Well, you’re going to eat a load of pizza because you’re like, “I’m not going to get to eat this again, so I better eat the extra large.” But if you gave yourself the permission, “How do I make an amazing pizza that’s healthy because it’s possible?” because my husband, the pizza’s a big thing for him so we had to figure it out.

Cool. That’s cool. I love it. I love how innovating you are because…

I’ve been doing it for a long time. You got to figure some stuff out.

Yeah, for sure.

I even know how to make nachos. That’s been my latest one. That’s crazy good. You’d be amazed at what you can make nowadays. We didn’t have this option even five years ago. When Virgin Diet came out, it was so hard. It was hard even to find coconut milk back then.

Really? Wow.


I live in Southern California. We have an abundance of organic, grass-fed, farmers market.

Right. I know. I live in San Diego. I grew up in California, but I traveled around for PBS doing the book. The people were like coconut milk, they can only go to the Asian market, get it in the can. I was like, “Oh, boy.” We are lucky.

Wow. There are so many questions I have for you. I want to circle back to your mention of glyphosate and how to deal with those type of toxins. What I do every day, almost every day when I remember, I take my Restore and I take my CytoDetox.

Oh, you use CytoDetox. That’s a great product. It’s fantastic. Here’s the thing, glyphosate is just one of the issues out there; there are so many issues. I always hate to talk about it because people are going to be like, “I’m just going to go in a path of ruin that has bars or something.”

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I know it’s very sad but let’s talk about it because people need to know.

Yes. I’m going to say it in terms of weight loss resistance because that’s my area of fascination. But what I discovered, as I started to really dig into searching for what is causing us to gain weight? Because if you look at the steps, and I think a lot of it is sugar, but it could be all of it, is that we are like exploding and not in a good way. Back when I was growing up, there’d be one overweight kid in school. Now it’s one in five are obese. I mean, that obese. There was never obese kids. Now we’ve surpassed the level of people who are obese versus just overweight. If you look at the two-thirds of the country now are overweight or obese, more obese.

That means 30 pounds or more overweight and then we’ve got the morbidly obese people which used to be a rarity and now we’re not. It’s not that thin people are weirdos. We know sugar is a big part of that and artificial sweeteners which I see as a toxin but it’s not just that. If you look at the rising levels of cancer, the rising levels of diabetes, one of the things we know about diabetes that’s so interesting is that toxin store in our body fat. When they store in our body fat, our body actually cools down the temperature and hold on to the fat because if those toxins are free circulating, they’re very damaging. Your body tries to store them away. They’re fat-loving, so they store them away. As you lose weight you actually start to free up of toxins which is why everything we do, we need to be always detoxifying.

That’s why also people feel foggy sometimes.

Yeah, they feel crappy as they’re losing weight. That’s because they’re not getting those toxins out. That’s why these things like these juice cleanses make me insane because they actually make you worse, not better. Because you need protein to escort the toxins out of your body.

Really? Wow.

Yes, juice cleanses are just stupid. It’s amazing to me that we have juice cleanses and artificial sweeteners. These are two really dumb things and agave syrup–that’s another dumb thing. These are three dumb things out there. But juice cleanses, if you look at how we detoxify, the first thing we have to do is free-up the toxins, get them out of the fat cells so they can get out. Because if you are overwhelming your system, you can’t regularly detox because you are not getting good protein, you’re not sweating, you’re not having good bowel movements, you’re not peeing enough. You are going to store these things or you’re just getting more than your body could handle which we were never meant to handle the amount of toxins that we have in the environment now, it’s absolutely ridiculous, so then you store them.

You do things to help free them up. What all of those phytonutrients from plants can do really is help pull them out, that’s great but it doesn’t get them out of the body; it just pulls them out of the cells. That’s only good if then in the next phase is that you have all of the amino acids available to be able to grab hold of them and get them out of the body. Fiber is so key here because fiber acts like that absorbent sponge and it’s supposed to be soluble and insoluble to grab ahold of the toxins that are soluble, and the insoluble increases the trends of time to get them out. You need all of these things. When you really look up what—because I thought that people have diabetes because they’re overweight—actually what they found was it wasn’t them being overweight the cause of diabetes, it was the toxins in the fat in the people who are overweight that caused diabetes.

Look at cancer; cancer is a disease of toxicity. It is so flipping clear. Meaning one of the things are all these crazy estrogens we have in our milk, we have girls having periods at 12. Girls are not supposed to have periods at 12 or 11. They’re supposed to get their periods at 15, so it’s because of all of these xenoestrogens, the plastics that we have in the water bottles. Nothing makes me crazier than seeing someone use water bottles, freeze them, and then drink them. I’m like, “You just heated that, froze it, you’ve got all phthalates and all the parabens just going into your water.”

Juice cleansing is not good because of the artificial sugars and lack of nutrients. Drink green juice instead.


Yes. First of all, don’t drink out of water bottles. But if you have to, definitely don’t drink out of one that’s been frozen. But the challenge is they’ve also been in hot shipping containers, hot warehouses, so you’ve gotten a lot of those phthalates. Here’s the deal, we got to do the best we possibly can do to eat organic, especially the dirty dozen from ewg.org but what do we know? You can’t avoid it. You can’t avoid all of the outgassing from the carpet and the walls. I just was in San Francisco, Denver, Boulder, Minnesota, all over the place in the last 10 days. I’m staying in hotels. I’m getting out gas from the carpets, I’m getting all the weird cleaning fluids and there’s not way around that.

You can try to eat organic but hey, you can only do so much. You’ve got to be detoxing on a regular, daily basis. The obvious first place is eating a higher fiber diet which is great for weight loss too because it helps you stay fuller longer, and helps get things moving through, and feeds the good gut microbiome that helps you burn fat not store it, so that’s number one. Lots of green drinks that help free up everything. Sweating, so exercise, infrared sauna. I’ve got the Sunlighten Sauna that I just love. We watch a lot of movies in there and then lots of water, dry brushing but then CytoDetox is an amazing thing. What else can you do? Glutathione, CytoDetox, liver support like milk thistle…

Restore is really good.

Yeah. I’m not familiar with that one. What’s that one?

It’s supposed to help your gut from absorbing the glyphosate and all the horrible things. I found out about it at the Bulletproof conference.

I don’t know which company that is. Dave is one of my very best friends. He walked my mom down the aisle.

Oh my god. So cool.

That’s a really important thing is I only drink at-home Bulletproof beans. In fact, I travel with Bulletproof Keurig cups because one of the big pesticide-laden crops and moldy crops is coffee. I stick with Bulletproof beans because I know Dave is obsessive about this stuff. I can trust him. It just lends it to—I don’t want to get everyone freaked out and scared—it just means that you really have to be on detoxing every day. I love cleanses because it gets you kind of focusing on rebooting, but the reality is you do a cleanse to get some good habits in place that you then carry forward with you. Like the dry brushing and the CytoDetox, and fiber and greens, and all that.

That’s amazing. Do you take any powders with you when you travel to add in the water to strengthen your immune system?

It’s so funny. I take so much stuff with me, it’s ridiculous.

What do you bring when you travel? Because I travel a lot and I find it really challenging.

I travel at least half the time. I have my entire life set up so that I can have the same life wherever I am. I travel with my NutriBullet blender. I use my own shakes that I created that are from bone broth protein spiked with branch and amino acids and then I add in more fiber, the gut fiber. I have bars that I have created so I take those. I make myself these complete supplement packages with all the stuff in it. I travel with all of that. I travel with eye masks, earplugs. I have Dave’s glasses to help with the time shifting but I just can’t stand them. I lower the lights. What I do is I also have lavender with me. When I get to a hotel room, every single place I go I’ve got everything set-up the way it is at home. The minute I get in there I lower the lights, I lower the room temperature, I take a hot bath, I do all of my sleep stuff. I’ve got my whole schedule set-up wherever I am, I kind of keep it the same. That’s my secret.

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Those are the TrueDark glasses for anyone that wants to know.

Yeah. They’re amazing.

I use them often. I use them every once in a while, because like you, it can be a lot. But if I feel like my brain is getting overstimulated, I’ll wear them. I also have the Irlen glasses to help me with calming down my brain which I also don’t use a lot, only when I drive because the lights on the road are too overwhelming for my brain. We talked about a lot of things. I want to go into the topic of gut feeling, gut healing.

You got me, I don’t know.

Gut feeling about your guts.

Oh well, that should be. The gut feeling should be a thing because your gut is the seed of your emotions.

But apparently, there are neurons that are connected to your brain.

It’s your biggest producer of serotonin. It’s a big, big deal. That’s why I like literally controlling your gut microbiome and making it healthy can help with depression and moods. It’s pretty cool. Again, I kind of learned all this stuff. I have 40 graduate doctoral courses. I was jumping around. I went to six different graduate schools trying to find stuff but most of it I learned through going to functional medicine conferences and then testing it out on my client and myself. I also did it for somebody, but I was trying all this stuff out because there are so many things you see in studies.

I’m like, “But that doesn’t do anything. It doesn’t work.” It’s funny when we first started working at food sensitivity, leaky gut wasn’t even a term. No one was calling it, it was intestinal permeability, and no one was talking about the microbiome. I remember I had a client, Suzanne Summers’ stepdaughter who came to me and a doctor referred her over and said, “She needs a cheerleader.” I’m like I am the last person to be a cheerleader. I’m not that, “Go, Leslie.” I’m like, “Put the cookie down.” But I sat down with her. Her diet’s great, she’s exercising, she’s fine–just can’t lose weight. I’m like, “Huh.” When I talked to her, she had some intolerance, she has an issue with eggs. It was kind of great because if she ever wanted to go to sleep, she’d eat eggs and she’d fall asleep. We pulled some of that out, we fixed the food intolerances, but she really wasn’t eating enough; she was hardly eating. She was exercising and she was sleeping. I was like, “Alright, what is really going on here?”

What was crazy was she had gone to all of these functional medicine doctors in LA with this complaint about her stomach. I knew it wasn’t food intolerance because we’ve fixed this. No matter what she ate or didn’t eat during the day, she’d get more and more bloated and so they kept giving her probiotics which is making it worse because she had small intestinal bacterial overgrowth which wasn’t a thing back then, no one was talking about it. I was like, “Huh.” I was trying to figure out what the heck to do with this girl who kept getting more bloated especially when you gave her probiotics. I’m like, “Well, I’m not going to give her probiotics that’s for sure. They make her worst.” As I started to dig into this, I did a stool test on her and I started doing a bunch of the antimicrobial stuff, all this antibacterial stuff on her and boom, she started to lose weight. It’s just crazy when you start to look at the gut, I think we’re going to start to realize that’s really where you’ve got to go first because that depression could just be an issue with leaky gut, the joint pain.

I’ve seen so many people with chronic osteoarthritis and it just flips around the minute they get the food intolerance out and start healing their gut again. You reacting to foods happens because your gut is more permeable than it should be. Your gut becomes more permeable than it should be, toxins play a big role there. In fact, when I see people super hyper-reactive usually it’s a detox issue.  But gluten makes your gut more permeable by triggering the release of something called zonulin that increases intestinal permeability.Fructose does or artificial sweeteners do, a lot of the pain medications do. A lot of people with arthritis will take pain medications to deal with arthritis that makes your gut leakier, that makes them have more pain, that means they need pain meds. First, one of the takeaway steps here is to figure out your food intolerances, start doing the things that can heal your gut which is eating more antioxidant-rich vegetables, eating soothing things like freshly ground flaxseed meal and fish, glutamine powder is amazing for healing the leaky gut.

The biggest thing that can cause leaky gut is stress, it immediately makes your gut more permeable, so tapping can be great, you can lower your cortisol by 27% with tapping, I always shout out Nick Ortner on that one. And then starting to really work on your gut microbiome which is such a new science; we don’t know what the best gut microbiome is. I think we define it whatever it is for you; it’s different for everybody. But once you’ve gotten through that, start to eat some probiotic foods and fermented foods and really work on that as well.

I started loving kimchi lately.

I’m a supertaster. In my perfect world, I would love yoga, and kimchi, and kale. I don’t like any of that. I wouldn’t sweat but that would be my perfect world.

I think because my story of kimchi started when I lived in Japan. I studied Japanese and my classmates were Korean and Chinese. Korean ladies always used to invite me over for a meal and so I develop a taste for it and then I kind of forgot about it. Now that it’s a superfood, I’m like, “Oh, kimchi. Let’s eat it. I like it.”

That’s a funny thing. I lived in Japan too.

A long time ago.

But I never got that. I didn’t eat the ginger either which is great for your gut. Ginger is an amazing one for healing your gut.

I love ginger. It’s one of my food sensitivities and I still eat it. Also, chocolate, and I still eat it.

Well, remember though, food sensitivities can change. When you do a food sensitivity test, it doesn’t mean forever. That means what you’re reacting to right now, there’s a couple of different ways we can become intolerant to the food. One could be genetic and that’s someone who is through celiac issues with fructose, lactose but then you also can develop this which is way more common, way more common due to leaky gut. Now that does not mean that it’s a forever; it just means that you have to heal your leaky gut. It’s also the reason that we need to rotate foods into our diet because if you look at what we tend to become sensitive to is the foods we eat all the time, over and over again. Ideally, you’re eating seasonally, locally, organic, and rotating those foods in so that you don’t develop this.

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With all the years that you’ve been helping probably millions of people heal their body, what did you learn about the mindset of dieting?

It’s mindset overall. The mindset of dieting is like, “Oh my gosh.” We’ve still got to flip that because the mindset of dieting needs to just be over. We have to have a mindset of health. When you really look at life because I wrote a book called Miracle Mindset, we retitled to Warrior Mom, and it really came down to my son. I almost lost my son. It was the mindset training I’d gone through that saved my son. But when you really look at it, the most successful people aren’t the people who’ve been given the easy life, everything’s come easily for them. The most successful people when you really look at it have gone through some stuff, but they’ve gone through it and they’ve gotten better.

They’ve learned how to show up when the odds are against them, when they need to have real resilience, and you can develop that. That’s what’s really cool. It’s just like when you read the book, Think and Grow Rich, and you discover that it’s really how you think that’s going to impact whether you’re successful or not, whether you’re wealthy, whatever that means to you or not, it’s now where you came from, the privilege you’ve had, the schools you went to, it’s how you think. It is the same with weight loss. Here’s the deal, we could genetically be at a higher risk for weight regain or for obesity or with certain medications or whatever, but it is how you think about that, how you think about yourself, and how you believe yourself to be worth it because the biggest thing I heard when I was asking my community is if they weren’t where they wanted to be with their health, people didn’t feel worthy.

That’s step one. It’s to put yourself first and to have those tools in place for how you show up in the world, for how you handle when someone says something creepy and mean to you. What you do when you don’t get the job you wanted or you failed the test or the guy dumped you, how you learn how to handle all of these things because they’re going to happen to all of us. I don’t look at how someone behaves when everything’s going well as a mark of their character; it’s how they behave when things are just the worst of the worst that matters.

I had a conversation with a friend of mine a couple of weeks ago and he told me, “One thing that I admire about you is that I saw when you hit rock bottom. I saw you crash a few times. What I like about you is how you rise up.” People shouldn’t look at how many times you failed or fell, they should look at how many times you stood up and faced life.

Yup. It only matters when you get back up. When I think about it, it’s one of the things I teach. I always work with mentors and coaches. It’s probably my big secret to success. I won’t hire a coach who hasn’t failed a lot. It is what I look for. It’s like, “Have you fall down? Have you skinned your knees? Did you get back up? How many times?” You look at some of the most successful people and they have gone through some stuff. You stepping back up and showing over and over again, that’s really why you are where you are.

This is where you are now and I just want to know two things. One is why you do what you do, and where are you heading with your mission and your legacy?

It’s interesting why you do what you do changes dramatically over the years. I’ve always been obsessed with health, nutrition, and fitness. First, I want to help a million people get healthy–that was my big dream. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, I just knew that’s what I wanted to do. The next thing I know I’m on Dr. Phil. Well, Dr. Phil and the viewership at the time of 30 million people an episode, I was like, “We’ll cross that off the list, we did that.” I was like, “Okay, we can think bigger.” What really excites me in life, I really don’t know anybody out there that goes, “You know what, I think I really want to eat crappy and feel bad.” No one wants that. Everybody wants to show up as their best self, they just start to lose hope. I really believe that if people knew better, they’d do better and it’s a lot easier than they think and that they really need to find that mentor/coach that they resonate with. For some people, it might be you, for some people it might be me, and some people it might be Dave. My real-life mission is to impact 1 billion people but do that through helping at least 10,000 other health experts and doctors. That’s really where I spend a lot of my time now is in coaching other health experts and doctors on their message and bringing it out to the world. That’s how I intend to leave the big, big mark and of course, being a good mom.

That’s so sweet. This is where you’re heading with your business, that’s beautiful. What are your daily rituals? How do you maintain that mindset? You wake up every day and you are like, “Okay. This is my legacy, this is what I do, this is my mission. I’m a go-getter. I’m going to go and do it.” Do you have any daily rituals or any tools that help you be more focused on your mission and more driven?

I’m playing around with, right now I just got JLD’s, The Freedom Journal. My husband and I are actually going to mess with that tonight and start playing with that. I’m a big journal-er but what actually happened, I was so lucky at the age of 30. I had a client, I was a personal trainer, she was a massively successful business woman and she said, “You know, I’ll teach you how to be successful.” Because I was like, “I want to impact more people.” I literally sold my business and moved into our house. It was like the Karate Kid. I remember going in there, moving in and thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to learn all these amazing things and I’ll be so successful, and I’ll help millions of people.” She started by putting a rubber band around my wrist and having me snap it whenever I had a self-limiting belief, whenever I was critical, whenever I was judgy.

It’s totally like Karate Kid; wax on, wax off.

It was completely it. I was like, “When am I going to learn business?” She was like, “You’re not ready.” What’s interesting is that is all such a part of me that I don’t ever have to think about. I’ve so tightly managed my environment to stay away from negative people, negative news, negative readings. That is a bit controlling, but I think it’s really how you frame your day. Waking up, getting a pen to paper on where you’re grateful. I’m very aware of my bigger vision and mission of why I’m doing it but then I’m always innovating to keep it fresh and new. I see a lot of people who get bored with what they’re doing and lose that spark. I’m more excited about what I’m doing now than I have ever been, to be honest with you. I just wish I had more time. It’s like, “Why do we have to sleep?” But I’m super excited about it.

I think it’s just when you’ve got a really clear goal which people always say, “How do I get clarity and figure out my purpose?” I go, “You just have to start moving.” I think I want to help a billion people get healthy by helping healthcare professionals. Who would have ever done this? I’m going to write this book on food intolerance. It wasn’t a thing.

You’re in the billions now, huh? My god.

You start with that spark and then it becomes a fire.

Wow, beautiful. You gave us a lot of tips, but I have another question. What are your three top tips to living a stellar life?

Three top tips to living a stellar life. Surround yourself with people who are even more stellar than you. It’s like being the weak one in the room. I have a buddy, a stellar buddy, Philip McKernan and he wrote this book, One Last Talk. He says, “Next to your greatest wound lies your greatest gift.” I realized I’m an adopted kid, I had never really connected with my adopted family and I have been creating this family and I was like, “Wow, that’s so cool.” That’s the first part is that piece of it for creating a stellar life. The next thing is I think it’s just a continuous work of self-improvement and really figuring out where you need to go next. Just like detoxification, your own personal therapy journey never ends.

There’s always something to be working on but you pick one thing at a time. I love the book The One Thing because I think what we do that sets us up to fail—and I’m just going to use diet as a metaphor. On January 1 we go, “Alright. I’m never eating sugar again. I’m not going to eat gluten. I’m going to do my intermittent fasting. I’m going to drink more water. I’m going to eat more fiber. I’m going to make sure I’m getting 8-9 hours of sleep. I’m going to exercise every day.” And then by January 2nd, you’re like, “F that. I’m not doing any of that.” What I really look at in terms of myself is what is the one thing that I need to really kill it on and then it becomes a part of me. Because when you really look into this tip three, we are really defined by our habits. That’s so awesome because we can fix this. I can’t make myself taller or shorter, I certainly can change my hair color, but I can’t change a lot of the stuff that we might want to change but I can change my habits. When you change your habits, you change your life.

Yes, beautiful. Where can people go and find you and get your books and learn more from you?

If you go to jjvirgin.com it will direct you to the podcast, books, all sorts of stuff. We are a content-generating machine because I was determined that no one will ever say, “I can’t afford to get your book about that.” There is no shortage of information, I think people have a shortage of action. I’ve got all the information for people to take action on.

Oh, beautiful. Well, this was a delightful conversation. I really appreciate you and I appreciate what you’re doing in the world. Thank you very much.

Aww, thank you.

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About JJ Virgin

JJ Virgin is a media personality, 4-time NY Times-bestselling author, and sought-after speaker whose fast-paced, entertaining style inspires and educates. She brings not only her knowledge of science and nutrition, but her depth of personal experience and compelling life story.
JJ is a natural-born motivator who empowers people to take charge of their health and their lives. She speaks about simple action steps anyone can take to improve how they look, feel, and think. JJ’s blend of accessible advice and tough love is something listeners will remember and apply long after the auditorium empties.
She’s been speaking for 25 years to audiences of all sizes, including corporations, healthcare professionals, and women’s conferences. JJ has shared the stage with notables like Arianna Huffington, Mark Victor Hansen, Jack Canfield, Suzanne Somers, Dr. Joseph Mercola, Dr. Daniel Amen, Brendon Burchard, John Assaraf, Robin Sharma, Seth Godin, and T. Harv Eker.

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