We are surrounded at all times by incredibly cheap and tempting foods that are destroying our health and lifespan.

In this episode, John discusses how to eat for maximum creative health and energy so you can keep singing and teaching for years to come.


Healthspan Solution Book

Episode Transcript

Episode 119 – Singing and Diet

Hey there, this is John Henny welcome back to another episode of the intelligent vocalist. I do so appreciate you spending your precious listening time with me. Alright, I just got my forthcoming book back from the editor and I’m doing a bit of rewrite, so I’m having to go back through it. Got a little distance from it because when you’re in the writing process, you almost can’t see the forest for the trees and you start to lose perspective on what it is that you’ve written and that goes for any creative endeavor you need to take your first stab at it, get some space, and come back to it. So I’m able to come back to with a bit more of a critical eye and I’m pretty happy with this book. I’m pretty excited. This book is focused for voice teachers. 

So singers, my next project is for you. It’s going to be a full scale course on belting and I’m creating original songs for you to sing that. Going to be able to dial you in. I’m writing lyrics that you specific vowel sounds to help with different registers of the voice. I’m really excited about that as well and that will be forthcoming. I will let you know when that gets close, but this one is for teachers and the book, the title is voice teacher influencer and I’ll come up with a snappy subtitle still working on that and this book is about empowering voice teachers, voice teachers to step up, let their voice be heard, to reach out to gain their audience and build an audience of people that want to study with you that want to learn what you have to teach in the way that you teach it. 

Very often voice teachers because we’re so focused on constantly improving and often the better a voice teacher is, the more reluctant they are to step forward because a horrible thing called imposter syndrome starts to come in and it tends to plague really smart people academics. You look around and the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know and this can become crippling and unfortunately some of the voice teachers are not criticized, not all but there are a few who are really good at the self promotion gig who just aren’t quite as good as teachers that I see who are more humble and quiet. So this is to empower you teachers and that’s my surprise. I’ve got quite a few voice teachers listening to this podcast. It’s to empower you to help you get out there with your message and work with the students you really want to work with, have your point of view be heard and to be able to create products and have a passive income. 

It’s very hard for voice teachers because unless they’re sitting behind the piano and they’re working, they’re not making money and as a voice teacher you can make a good living, but there’s so much other work that goes along with it in scheduling and all these things. So passive income kind of becomes this golden ring that voice teachers long for, but very few achieve and I want to help you do that. So I’m so looking forward to getting that out there. I will be looking for test readers very, very soon. If you would like to be a test reader, go to my website, johnhenny.com. Sign up for my email list. That is the only place where I will be announcing this where you can get an early copy of my book for free. Your all I ask is for feedback and if you so choose when the book is released to leave an honest review that’s all I can ask for. 

Now today I want to dig into something that’s really near and dear to me. If you go back to my podcast episodes 65 and 6 I talk about my journey to health and if you’re not aware of it I let myself get terribly obese. Now I’m six foot seven. However, as far as I know, well the, when I was still having the courage to step on a scale I was 370 pounds and I know I got higher than that. So I was inching towards 400 pounds. And as I got into my fifties, serious health considerations were coming into play. I was lucky enough I really didn’t suffer. I think it’s because of my large frame. I didn’t feel knee pain or back pain or any of that, but my blood pressure was getting scary high. 

My top number, I know you’re supposed to know both numbers, but the top number I can remember was 158. It was nearing 160. So they, I was being put on high blood pressure medication. I had numbness pretty consistent numbness in my left hand and foot. I was developing gout. Sleep apnea, reflux, all manner of manner of disease was starting to creep in. And I’m just, I’m so thankful that I read the tea leaves. I acknowledged the warning I was given in time and I worked with this incredible coach by the name of Ray cronies who coached me back to health and I did it. What I did was rather crazy, again, you can listen to the podcast, but in, I basically lost 150 pounds in eight months. And the rapid weight loss did affect my voice. 

There were some side effects to it, but my blood pressure went from 158 to 118 within a week or two. I mean, it was absolutely rapid. And the sleep apnea almost immediately disappeared. And the numbness went away almost rimmediately and my energy levels, everything came back so quickly. And as a singer and a voice teacher you need your energy. You need your health you have to interact with people. And so much of your interaction is your emotional energy and you need this vitality. When we watch people on stage, these people need to be vital in bursting with life. And somebody, you know, limping out from gouts and just sweating profusely, which I was often doing at 370 plus pounds, even when it wasn’t all that warm and huffing and puffing. It’s just not what audiences are really looking for. 

And you need this vitality and you need this health. And it really starts with diet man, food in my lifetime, I am now in my fifties, and when I was a child fast food was this rare treat that you got, it wasn’t all that cheap. You know, McDonald’s was the one before believe it or not, before McDonald’s came along and Ray Kroc, who then franchised it and created this behemoth of a fast food industry, burger places were kinda dicey. And it was kinda tufts with leather jackets and they’d play that rock and roll music and there’d be smoking and motorcycles. And it was, wasn’t really a family environment for the time back in the 50s, and then came McDonald’s. And the other thing McDonald’s did is it made it a family destination and it created a system where the food became cheaper and cheaper and faster and faster. 

And so now you can for less than an a typical hours wages drive up to a window I mean, for less minimum wage for less than an hour’s worth of minimum wage in this country, you can drive up to a window and you will be handed far more than a day’s worth of calories through this little window. Now this was, this is something we’ve never really had before until very recent history. Before this revolution if you go back to the early 19 hundreds, the vast majority of the family budget was spent on food. Food was incredibly expensive. And going back before that, now nourishment and starvation was the greatest obstacle we had to overcome. I mean, you did not have people with these chronic diseases of obesity except for Kings. They were the diseases of Kings because they were the only ones that had this plenty always available. 

And that’s why there was, you know, men who had money, they would, they would gain weight. And these rather stout men were attractive because that was a sign of power and wealth where now we live in a country where food is so inexpensive that it’s actually the overconsumption and the overnutrition that we’re dealing with is a disease of the poor, which has never been in our history. And we are eating foods that we did not evolve to eat and these processed foods. Oh my gosh. Now as I talk about this, here’s the disclaimer. I’m not a nutritionist. I’m a voice teacher, so I can only talk from my experience. So please don’t take my experience as medical advice. I say nothing I say here is his medical advice. But in my experience and dealing with this, the food was so plentiful and it’s so hyper palatable now. 

It is so tasty that it’s very hard to stop eating it. Our brains when confronted with this blast of sugar and salt and fat, our brains just go on overdrive. I mean bacon, which is just a bomb of sugar, salt and fat and French fries. These things are so incredibly delicious and the brain takes in this, this burst of fat and sweet and the brain’s going, wow, this is a calorie source because our brains still think that we are starving and malnourished. We need to constantly seek out calories. So when it finds calories, your brain just goes eat, eat, eat, and it’s very hard to stop eating these foods. Now, in the last 50 years, the food industry has truly become an industry and they are constantly devising ways to hack into us. We are hackable. This is a constant theme that I keep going on here but please don’t be so arrogant to think that you are not hackable. 

You are being hacked all the time and your behavior is being driven by people who know exactly what they are doing and the food industry knows what they are doing and there are certain amounts and combinations of sugar, salt, fat that become very, very hard to resist and you are being exploited. And the food industry, what they want you to think is the solution is moderation and to exercise. Well that’s common sense, right moderation and exercise. because if they can get you to thank, you know what, I just need to eat this fried chicken sandwich or these fries or this chili burger in moderation. I can control myself and then I just need to exercise. That’s the lie that they want to keep you going with because it rarely, rarely works. This food you are going to over consume it. It is going to make you desire more and you cannot outrun a poor diet. 

Ray crone eyes. The gentleman who coached me has this thing called a cow remoter and it’s this contraption, huge oxygen tank and it goes over his mouth and he breathes into it and it can accurately tell him how many calories he is burning in an activity. And he walked the Sears tower wearing this contraption all the stairs and he burned the equivalent of three and a half Oreo cookies. That’s it. And if you sit down with some Oreo cookies, I promise you are going to eat more than three and a half. And I can, I’m also pretty sure you’re not going to climb the stairs of the Sears tower or an equivalent amount of physical exertion to burn o those calories. But yet that’s what we’re told. We’re constantly told moderation and exercise. And the other thing that they will do is they will fight every effort for industries to step in with healthier alternatives. 

Plant based meat substitute. They don’t want the meat industry to want the word meat used. Almond milk, oats, milk the dairy industry does not want them to be able to use the word milk, right They want to protect what it is that they have. I switched to a whole food plant based diet and the reason that I referred to it as a whole food plant based diet is people will ask me, am I vegan Well, technically yes, but here’s the problem with a vegan and vegetarian diets, they are potentially the most unhealthy diet in the world. Sugar is one of the worst things you can put in your body. It is basically the food version of cocaine. It is so hyper processed, there’s nothing good left in it other than empty calories. And it’s not good on your body. The excess oils that you can have and the salt, and this is what the food industry does. 

The ones that want to make money or health conscious Americans who decide, well, I’m going to go vegetarian or vegan, they create these meat substitutes to taste like the junk foods that they’re leaving behind. And what do they do, to replace the flavor of meats They add sugar, salt, and fat in massive quantities. Right now, beyond burger is the big thing. And in this country, Burger King, I was running a campaign with the beyond burger and yes if you are concerned with animal welfare, you are certainly making a better decision getting a beyond burger than a beef burger. There are arguments for the environment and global warming or climate change that getting eating less meat will help there. But don’t fool yourself that this is healthy food, okay It’s just a less junky junk food. 

You really have to watch this. Now what I did is I went to a whole food plant based and I consume little to no sugar. There’s a little bit of sugar and Sriracha sauce. I allow myself Sriracha sauce. I consume very little oil, almost none. I consume no white flour, no white rice. Once I lose weight, I allow myself occasional cheat days. But here’s the thing, I almost never take advantage of them. I think I’ve allowed myself in the almost two years since I lost the weight four cheat days. And even then it was just some sushi, had not have pizza, had not have a burger, had not have fries. And when I go to these foods, I was miserable for about five weeks. I’ll be honest, really miserable. But once the five weeks passed, I went uh okay. 

The cravings are dying down and this plant food without salt is actually tasting better and better to me. And then it took about five to six months and I completely preferred my new diet and I no longer miss those foods at all. And there are certain foods, the, and I apologize if you really enjoy this product and judging by the lines that I see because there’s one right next to where I go grocery shopping. Many people do, but the smell of chick-fillet makes me sick. It’s I can almost just smell the grease and I just want to go to these people in line and just tell them, please don’t do this to yourself. You know I see children just eat, going to Starbucks and consuming, my gosh, we weren’t allowed co-caffeine when I was a child and I know things change. 

But these sugary fat laden drinks that Starbucks have come up with to serve to children that have as many calories as a big Mac and fries it’s just mind blowing. And I’m seeing increasing levels of obesity in children. And the fact is nobody, if, if you took your child to the liquor store to buy cigarettes, you would be considered the worst parent in the world. Yet we now have more people dying of obesity related illness than, than smoking. And smoking keeps dropping year after year and obesity is on the rise. Now. I am not here to fat shame anyone please. And this acceptance of who we are at this moment in our lives and this greater acceptance. It is a beautiful thing. We need to no longer feel ashamed and there are performers that get on stage and they are able to be vital and they’re able to give great performances and they are not skinny. 

But for me as I entered my fifties that the, it wasn’t even about my body acceptance, it really became about my health. If you are struggling right now with your weight, with your food choices, I want to tell you something that clicked for me. I tried so many times to lose weight and I tried so many diets and all kinds of self control and beating myself up and as I would look afraid to get on the scale and just buying larger and larger pants sizes. I mean, my gosh, I’ll never forget when I went to the big and tall section of a department store to get a nice sports coat and I was too big for anything they had in the store. I was too big. I, they could not fit me. And that’s those moments where you go to try on clothes and you think you’re a certain size and you just have to keep getting bigger and bigger sizes. 

It’s just, it’s heartbreaking. But the thing that Ray said to me was, you’re not broken. The food is if you are struggling right now if you are not feeling your best when you go on stage, if you’re trying to get through it, a teaching day and you’re just exhausted and fatigued and then you go home and you eat food as a reward and when you finish the meal you don’t feel good about what you just ate and you want to beat yourself up. It’s not you, it’s this food. It’s an industry that has created food to trap you. We, if you look at evolution as a mile, modern farming is maybe just the last few feet of this mile. And then this explosion of process, cheap food. It’s just the last inch or so. I mean this is not what we evolved to eat. 

Our bodies don’t know what to do with it. And then when you consider the microbiome, the bacteria within your gut that we now know is so essential to our health, you create poor bacteria, colonies by eating bad food. If you can get your diet cleaner, your whole body will, will change and your, your bacteria is going to create more energy and more health for you. I want to recommend a book Ray Cronies and his partner Giuliana Heather. They have a book coming out in December. It’s called a healthspan solution. I will put a link to it on the show notes. Just go to johnhenny.com/119, but this isn’t as much a diet book as a book on just getting healthy. And I want to make this not about losing weight, that that’s going to be a result of you getting healthier. 

But I just want you to have health. I want you to have energy and I want you to have vitality. Now you don’t have to do this plant-based. Very quickly, Ray has devised this brilliant model called the food triangle. And at the top of the triangle there are plant foods with, with little to no calories things like onions and greens like kale, celery, mushrooms, very, very low calorie density, but with tons of nutrition. And on the right side of this triangle, as you go down, you have plant foods of increasing density. You start getting into the starchier vegetables, winter squashes into potatoes and, and beans or lagoons. And then you finally get into the really heavy calories in nuts and oils. And then on the left side, you start at the top of the triangle with the low calorie vegetables as you go down, that’s the meat side. 

And you have increasing levels of caloric density from, you know, very lean meats to then starting to bring in fatty or meats in it. The bottom, you start to get the processed meats and the, the plant products such as the dairy and the cheeses and creams and all that. If you stay on the right side and stay closer to the top of the triangle to lose weight and then you start and when you’re at the weight you want to be, you add then in more of the lagoons and potatoes and grains and oats, whole grains, that’s the whole food plant based side, little bit of nuts and you can add fruit but a little bit of nuts cause they’re really good for you and seeds but not too much cause they’re pretty calorically dense. You’ll find health if you decide to stay on the meat side, you’re going to go more into the traditional Cheeto diet which is very, very popular right now. 

So you have your asparagus and your mushrooms and your greens and then you will add the whole or the very lean meats. And that’s where you lose weight. And then you can carefully go a little bit down that triangle, but you don’t, you don’t want to get into those processed fatty meats and cheeses. However, at the bottom of the triangle, that’s where the weight gain is. That’s where the fast food industry is. That’s where the food addiction, if you want to use that word, which we’re not really always sure what it means, but that’s where it is. And that’s where we have processed grains, right well white flour, and then fatty meats, which would be and cheeses, lasagna. All right where you have cheeseburgers on big fluffy white rolls. That’s where we gain weight. You know, steak and cream, spinach and potato, that’s in bread, garlic bread. 

Oh my gosh. I remember going to his wonderful steakhouse and just gorging on that and yeah, it was fun. But Oh boy, was it just destroying my health. So however you want to structure this, stay towards the top of the triangle for your health. I just want you to be healthy so you can keep listening to me babble. You, you’ve got you, you owe it to people. You, you owe it to your family and your loved ones and you, you owe it to the people that enjoy your music in your singing with it needs your teaching and need your guidance. You need to get healthy. You are not broken. But man, this, this food, there’s Frankenstein food they’ve, that they’ve created is completely broken. I want to thank you for listening today. 

You want more information about me. Go to my website at johnhenny.com and please sign up for my email list. I will be looking for those test readers for my upcoming book and until next time to better singing. Thank you so much. Bye bye.