Wanna laugh your arse off? Then you've gotta check out comedian...I mean comic, Eddie Pence. Eddie is a long-time client of mine and he's funny to the bone. Not only will this funny-man make you buckle over in laughter, but he knows how to take care of his health quite impressively; and he shares just how in this interview. I had the opportunity to speak with Eddie recently, and get the low-down on his healthy habits. Read on as we discuss losing weight, staying in shape, eating well and quiting sodas; and the secret to falling on your rump day in and day out, but having the ability to get back up. It's all in here. But most importantly, Eddie discloses the Chinese dish that goes best with Coca Cola.
Dr. Campos: I am here with Eddie Pence stand up…comic? Is that right?
Eddie Pence : Yes.
DC: Writer, actor, producer, director, and just all around…
EP: Good American
DC: Yes. And we're here today to talk about health. Before we start, Ed, tell me, what are you doing right now?
EP: Right now I'm trying to get a film produced. It's called, Tuck Johnson Professional Porn Star.
EP: I made these little two-minute shorts that I put on the internet; and I got a couple million hits, so I wrote a screenplay.
DC: Are they still up?
EP: Yes. They are on my website: www.eddiepence.com.
So in order to get funding, we're trying to shoot a ten minute short to pitch it. We're shooting it next weekend, and we've got a bunch of great people in it, like Ed Begley, Jr., a couple of people from Reno 911, and some people from The Office.
DC: Nice. Sounds exciting. What else is happening? Are you writing?
EP: Yes, always trying to write, and perform as much as possible.
DC: Now, I've seen you perform. It's a very physical act: a lot of dropping on the floor, a lot of falling. You really pound your body. So how important is your health to your line of work?
EP: Uh, very important, if just for the recovery factor. It's one of the reasons I work out as much as I do, you know, so I can endure the work that I do; especially as I'm getting older, things take a little longer, they hurt a little more, stuff like that.
DC: How did you start doing this physical type of comedy?
EP: I just grew up watching the Three Stooges and Charlie Chaplin, or old Buster Keaton films. I just always liked physical comedy and I wanted to do that.
DC: You're kind of an athletic guy. I mean I know you. We've had a relationship for several years. I know your lifestyle. You're an athletic guy. You're an active guy. What kind of stuff do you do to stay fit?
EP: I hike Runyon Canyon every day. We hike about three miles every day. And I go to the gym about three or four times a week. I do a circuit of weights—not a lot of heavy weights, but high reps. I try to burn 1,000 calories a day.
DC: So a thousand calories per day is your parameter—it's good to have parameters.
DC: How do you know you've reached a thousand calories?
EP: Well, if I go to the gym and do an hour of cardio, at least on the machines, it'll say I've done a thousand calories. I do a half hour on the treadmill. I do a very low impact cardio workout for my knees and my back. I'll put the treadmill on the highest incline and I'll just walk for thirty minutes. And then I'll do the Stairmaster for another thirty minutes. That's a thousand calories.
Then on off days I'll do the hike—that's about four or five hundred calories. Then I'll just go to the gym and do a half hour of cardio, and that'll be a thousand calories.
DC: Now, we're neighbors, so I've seen you going up to Runyon Canyon for years. But doing this track that you're doing now, is that fairly new?
EP: I've been doing that for about a year, year and a half. Mostly because we noticed our dog was getting fat. We wanted to hike him more, so I just incorporated that into my workout.
DC: Have you found a difference between doing that type of exercise than going to the gym?
EP: Not really. I just like to be outside. And it's like your actually moving, going somewhere as opposed to staying in place. I enjoy the hike more. The gym is just like…work. So you get it over with, you just can't wait to be done. The hike I enjoy, it's like being…
DC: In the great outdoors.
DC: Trekking up those sand dunes.
EP: Hiking in the smog.
DC: Yum. You do this with your wife?
DC: Tracey Pence? Real estate agent extraordinaire?
EP: Yes. Buy a house from her…or sell one…with her. Yes.
DC: What's your water intake like? I notice you're drinking water. I'm drinking coffee—the dehydrating substance of the planet—and you're drinking water—elixir of life. Do you drink a lot of water?
EP: That's all I really drink. I drink about eight to ten glasses per day.
DC: That's great. Do you notice anything from that?
EP: Well, I used to drink a lot of soda. I never drank soda as a kid, ever. But then I got to college and I started eating a lot of pizza and Chinese food. And Coke goes really well with Pizza and Chinese food.
DC: (Laughing) That's disgusting!
EP: I know. It's horrible. So that's my nasty habit that I picked up in college. And then a year and a half ago I decided I don't want to drink soda anymore—I was drinking like two or three sodas a day. I didn't drink diet [soda]; I'd just drink the regular sodas.
DC: Yeah, that was probably a lot better for you actually.
EP: Yeah, that's true. But I figured I'm taking in an extra five of six hundred calories a day just drinking sodas. So I stopped, and now I just drink water. And I dropped like 15 pounds in the first month…and it never came back. And I didn't change any other part of my diet or exercise. It happened just from that, stopping sodas.
DC: Wow! Yeah, soda packs on the pounds. It's one of those things that people drink as their staple, as their regular regimen of beverage. Crazy.
EP: Yeah, I'd go to a restaurant and they'd have free refills, and by the time I'd left the restaurant, I'd have had three or four Cokes.
DC: (Laughing) Great for the teeth, too. Okay, so I gotta know: What Chinese dish goes best with Coke?
EP: General Chow's Chicken.
DC: That's so gross.
EP: Yeah, it's awesome!
DC: What about your dietary practices? Have any special way of eating, any special regimen you follow?
EP: I kind of eat whatever I want, but I don't eat a lot of food to begin with—I just eat small amounts.
DC: Very interesting. You eat several meals a day?
EP: Normally. Sometimes I'll have one meal, then I'll have granola bars throughout the day to keep me from being hungry. But then when I go to dinner I don't gorge myself. I'm just not a ravenous person. I just eat small amounts of food.
DC: What kind of foods do you eat?
EP: I like chicken. I like steak.
DC: So you're a meat-etarian?
EP: Oh yeah, I love meat—ribs, all that. But I've had a love affair recently with watermelon.
DC: Just read that there's a compound in watermelon that gives the same effects as…
DC: Yeah, Eddie! That's right in line with your Tuck Johnson character—method acting.
EP: Yes, Tuck Johnson eats watermelon. Brilliant.
DC: Would you say you have a well-balanced diet? Are you pulling from all the food groups?
EP: I eat a lot of pasta. I take in a lot of protein. I could probably take in a little more vegetables. I do eat a lot of salads, but there's not a lot of nutritional value in a salad.
DC: Soup Plantation?
EP: Yeah. The only problem with Soup Plantation is there's no protein there.
DC: That's right. Do you eat a lot of protein?
EP: Yeah, I try. If not, I'll take in a protein supplement, like a protein shake.
DC: Which one do you like?
EP: I like Muscle Milk, because it tastes better than all the other ones for some reason.
DC: Compared to which ones?
EP: Met-Rx…uh, a few other ones; I've forgotten their names. I've tried like two or three other brands, and they're just…terrible tasting. But Muscle Milk seems to go down easier.
DC: What's your flavor, man?
DC: You drink this every day? Or only when you work out? What's your Muscle Milk routine?
EP: If I have them stocked I'll usually have one for breakfast, you know, with maybe a granola bar. And I'll usually drink one after I work out, just to give my body some protein, you know.
DC: You take vitamins or supplements?
EP: A daily multivitamin; fish oil; saw palmetto for my hair.
DC: What's wrong with your hair?
EP: It's falling out?
DC: Has the saw palmetto been helping?
EP: Uh, I don't know.
DC: Where did you get this tip from?
EP: Well, saw palmetto is for your prostate.
DC: That's right.
EP: Your prostate puts out that form of testosterone that makes your hair fall out.
DC: I did not know that.
EP: So it's supposed to control that. DHT? Or something like that.
DC: Oh, great. And have you noticed any differences.
EP: Well, it hasn't gotten any thinner.
DC: How long have you been doing this?
EP: Uh, a few years. What else do I take…? Well, my wife and I are trying to have a baby.
DC: Yes. (Editor's note: Eddie and Tracy are now pregnant)
EP: So I'm taking a little extra folic acid. And that's pretty much it.
DC: Now, why are you doing the fish oil? For general health? You heard it was good for you? How did you get turned on to that?
EP: Oh, just for general health. Because I don't eat a lot of fish, so…
DC: Smart. I think everybody needs to take that—it's a must. We get so little omega 3s in the typical western diet—especially the Chinese food and Coke diet.
DC: So you've been a client of mine for several years. How long's it been now?
EP: Since 2002, I think.
DC: And what brought you in to chiropractic? Why did you start coming to see me?
EP: I played football in high school, and I hurt my back. I first saw a chiropractor in 1991 in Virginia. I could only see him for a couple of weeks, because football practice started again. He wanted me to not play football for a few weeks, but I couldn't do that.
DC: You'd never get that from me, Eddie. I'm more for trying to find how we can get you back on the playing field.
EP: Yeah, I couldn't not practice. He did help me, though. You know, I didn't go long enough to see a massive improvement. But, anyway, I had low back problems for about a decade and a half. There were ups and downs, ups and downs…
DC: What kind of problems did you have?
EP: You know, after walking around for a little while I'd get bad pain in my lower back. If I was really active, my back would go into spasms a lot. It would come and go. I would have good days and bad days, you know, like any back pain. And then it got real bad, and my friend Brian knew you. And so I went in 2002 and…
DC: The rest is history.
EP: The rest is history.
DC: You know that when Brian actually talked to us about you, he told us that you had been sleeping on the floor—you couldn't sleep in your bed, with your new wife—because the pain was so bad. Was that a nightly thing, having to sleep on the floor?
EP: No, not every night. But some nights it was so bad, I would have to sleep on the floor.
DC: Not good for the marriage.
DC: So how has chiropractic helped you?
EP: Well, it took away my back problems and then you introduced orthotics. I was kind of skeptical about that, because I didn't know how much my feet would affect my lower back. But apparently it affects it a lot.
DC: So we got the orthotics and what happened?
EP: My low back problems kind of…disappeared. I mean, every once in a while I do something that might throw it out of whack, but I've been generally pain free in my lower back for the last two or three years.
DC: That's awesome. Now there was an incident where you played in a flag football league and you didn't wear your orthotics for a game, and you played, like, for an hour? With no orthotics. Do you recommend that?
EP: No! No. I wore my orthotics every day since I got them and the one day I forgot to put them in my cleats and I played for an hour without them, and the rest of the week was lost…
DC: What happened?
EP: The next day it started out, I thought I was just sore from playing. And then the pain just got more and more intense in the back, and it got to the point where I just couldn't get comfortable. I couldn't sit down. I couldn't stand up. I couldn't lie down. The whole time it just felt like somebody was punching me in the kidneys.
DC: Not good.
EP: No. And it happened on a Sunday. You're not in the office till Tuesday, so I spent the next 48 hours in complete pain.
DC: You know Ed, you could have called me. Hey, everybody reading this, I do emergency visits. You can call me. That's what I'm here for.
EP: Well, I don't like to put people out. I figured I could handle 48 hours.
DC: OK, next time, call me. But anyway, so you suffered for 48 hours, and it took us a little work, but...
EP: It took about three visits.
EP: But, I mean, I could notice a remarkable improvement after the first visit. Hey, I could touch my toes afterwards.
DC: You've been seeing me pretty regularly over the years; what's your chiropractic regimen, and how does that fit into your overall health regimen?
EP: I try to go once a month, you know, unless I have a problem or something is knotted up on me. But I try to maintain everything, so once a month.
DC: Other than the pain removal, any other benefits you've noticed from regular chiropractic care?
EP: Yeah, I've been pretty healthy, you know? I'm a relatively healthy guy…I mean, I get food poisoning every once in a while, but that's my own fault.
DC: (Laughing) Chinese food and Coke.
EP: Yeah, yeah…
DC: That's going to be the title of this interview…
EP: Yes, Chinese food and Coke, which I highly recommend. But, no, I just consider the chiropractic a part of my regular keeping fit, along with working out, you know? It's just a part of trying to keep my body young.
DC: Well, it probably allows you to drop on your butt like you do on stage every night. You probably weren't doing much of that around the time you were sleeping on the floor.
EP: No, no, I wasn't. Or when I did, I really paid for it later. You know, I feel my body aging, but I definitely feel younger than my age because I take care of myself.
DC: I would definitely confirm that. That's definitely true, you look very youthful. You look great. Um, do you know any chiropractic skeptics?
EP: Thanks. Yeah, my dad's a big skeptic. But he's from West Virginia, so anything that you can't pull out of the ground, he's skeptical about.
My wife Tracey was kind of skeptical when I tried to get her to come see you a few years ago, but we finally got her in there, and, you know, it helped her.
DC: Yeah, and she's been coming ever since. She's in my video.
EP: Yeah. My dad is skeptical, and it's too bad because he's got pretty bad sciatic pain.
DC: So how do you explain to somebody who is skeptical that you do chiropractic regularly?
EP: I tell them I go once a month and it took away my back problems completely. And my dad goes (grumbles), “I don't know about that.” And then he'd rather just go and get pain meds and cover up the pain…and make the problem worse, I guess.
DC: Why wouldn't you choose that route?
EP: Because I have done that route, and it doesn't work. It just makes things worse.
DC: Yep, definitely. So what are your sleeping habits like?
EP: I'm a comic, so I don't have normal sleeping hours. I go to bed anywhere from midnight and 3 am. And I wake up anywhere between 10 am and noon.
DC: How many hours would you say you sleep a night?
EP: I get seven to nine hours a night.
DC: That's great. Do you do any sort of mental health practices? Meditate or things to keep you mentally sharp?
EP: I was doing hypnotherapy for a while.
DC: Really. Tell me about that.
EP: Well, my wife Tracey recommended a hypnotherapist she knows, Lisa Cefalu, in the Valley. So I went to her because I sometimes suffer from depression. I take antidepressants, too, but I wanted to see if it could help me. I'm always trying out other ways to supplement therapies and things that I'm doing, so I thought I'd try it. And it worked wonders for me.
DC: It helped?
EP: Yeah, it's great. I highly recommend it.
DC: Really. And Lisa?
EP: Yeah, I recommend her, too.
DC: Yeah, me too. She's great. Do you do anything on your own, like meditate?
EP: You know, I tried meditating, but it's so hard with a Jack Russell terrier in the house.
DC: (Laughing) Especially that Jack Russell terrier.
EP: Yeah, especially that Jack Russell terrier. But what I find helps me best is if I exercise every day. You know, if I go to the gym, or I take that hike at Runyon Canyon, that usually flushes me out. That's usually my meditation…exercise.
DC: I know that you're doing a lot of editing and writing and that sort of stuff—using your brain a lot. Did you know that omega 3 fatty acids and B vitamins are great for keeping your mental functions sharp?
EP: Well, I've heard that fish is brain food, so I figured fish oils must be pretty good.
DC: Absolutely. It's a good regimen you're doing; I'm so glad your doing that. Now, I know you don't drink and I know you don't smoke—you're a pretty clean dude…
EP: No crack.
DC: Good, good, I'm glad you've got that under control. Are there any other ways you stay away from toxins…and if you do ingest occasional toxins, what are they, and how do you rid yourself of them?
EP: Well, I guess there's nothing worse than the air we breathe in Los Angeles. (Laughs)
DC: I hear the air in Mexico City is even worse.
EP: Well, I'll never go there, so…I guess the only toxins I take in are things that I might eat, you know, fried foods and stuff. But in order to flush that stuff out, you know, I just drink a lot of water. And to keep it flushed out, I just try to sweat a lot, like when I work out; you know, I'll do a steam room or sauna, just to get a good sweat in.
DC: That's great. And you mentioned that you stopped drinking the soda. I mean, that's huge. That's such a huge thing to do for your health and your body. I commend you on that.
EP: It was rough for the first couple of weeks because…well, when you're eating, you just want a Coke, you know? But now I've gotten used to just drinking water. You know, once you get used to the habit, it's easy. I don't really miss [the sodas].
DC: Awright Eddie, gimme a quick plug for chiropractic.
EP: Do it! I highly recommend it. I highly recommend chiropractic because…I can touch my toes. I couldn't touch my toes for years. And the orthotics…go for them, too. Thank you, Nick.
DC: Thank you, buddy.
So there you go—General Chow's Chicken. Who would have thought? Chinese food and coke. It's a good thing Eddie is now on the healthy track, and I strongly endorse his habits. Regular exercise, cutting the soda, good nutrition, eating small portions, supplementing with vitamins—it really is that easy. And listen to Ed when he tells you to "Do it!" with regard to chiropractic. It has helped him keep to his busy comedic schedule, allowed him to fall down on the stage (and get back up) every night, and has given him back the ability to touch his toes; but it's definitely kept him off the livingroom floor, and his wife is carrying the goods to prove it (it's a boy!). So whether you're in comedy or something less hysterical, healthy living will keep you doing it longer and better. Take it from a funny guy who takes his health seriously. Thanks Ed.
-October 28, 2008
The Six Keys to Optimal Health by Dr. Nicolas Campos
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The Six Keys to Optimal Health by Dr. Nicolas Campos