Welcome to the Evolution of Medicine podcast! In this episode, James sits down with Dallas Hartwig, who you’ll recognize as the co-founder of the Whole30 program and co-author of two bestselling books, It Starts with Food and The Whole30. He joins us on the podcast for the first time to talk about his upcoming book, The 4 Season Solution, and explore the fascinating role of seasons, starting inside the cell and emerging all the way through to the seasons of our lives. I think this book is really going to impact the future of our entire industry, especially regarding nutrition. This conversation with Dallas became one of my favorite podcast episodes ever, and I think you’re going to really enjoy it. Highlights include:

  • The natural expansion and contraction cycles and how they are relevant to you and your practice, and to medicine in general
  • How Dallas’s new book, The 4 Season Solution, could kill the diet book industry and help us rethink diet and nutrition education
  • The concept of “chronic summer” and why it is so important to overall health and wellness
  • How we can shift perception of change from loss to evidence of progression as we move through seasons of life
  • Why conversations about patients’ seasons of life need to be happening in functional medicine practices to help practitioners get to the root cause of health issues
  • And so much more!

Resources mentioned in this episode:
The 4 Season Solution preorder

Podcast by Dallas Hartwig

James Maskell: Hello and welcome to the podcast. I have a treat for you this week. Dallas Hartwig of Whole30 fame, his first time on the podcast. He’s talking about his new book, The 4 Season Solution, which I think is going to do something transformative for our whole industry, especially when it comes to nutrition. So we talked about the role of seasons from inside the cell, all the way through to seasons of our lives.
We talked about natural expansion and contraction cycles and how it can be relevant to you and your practice and medicine in general. And we talked about real important questions for how we see humanity. And I think you’re going to get a ton out of it. It was one of my favorite podcasts ever to do. Enjoy.
A warm welcome for the first time on the EvoMed podcast, Dallas Hartwig. Welcome, Dallas.
Dallas Hartwig: Thank you for having me.
James Maskell: So I’m really excited to jump in and talk a little bit about your new book. But I know for many people who know you, and have witnessed your work over the last decade, you’ve been really focused on obviously creating books about diet, Whole 30, and starting with food.
And I guess when I first read your new book that we’re going to be talking about here today, my first thought was damn, this might actually kill the diet book industry. And I just wanted to see what your thoughts were on that, given that you’d been a participant in it.
Dallas Hartwig: Right. Well, we should all be so lucky, right? Because the diet industry should all get cleaned up and made smaller by about 99%. I think, look, there’s a place for education around nutrition and diet, right? But the never-ending cycle of diet after diet, after diet, after failed diet, has hurt and discouraged many millions of people.
James Maskell: Absolutely agreed. So obviously, we’re in a theme this year of resilience. We just announced this 2020 is the Year of Resilience. And I know that we’re going to get deep into some of the concepts there, but I guess for everyone who’s listening to this and just haven’t come across the book, because it’s actually not even out yet. I think it comes out next month. So give us an overview of how you came to write this book and what you’ve learned so far in your career has led to a point where you wanted to create this piece into the world.
Dallas Hartwig: Sure. Well, that’s both simple and also very lengthy answer. I’ll try to keep it a little bit less lengthy. As you say, most people know me for my writing around food. But my background is anatomy and physiology and healthcare in general. I was a physical therapist for almost a decade. And so I’ve always had this kind of big picture, holistic perspective, this health matters. It’s a lot of different facets and health only matters to the point that it makes our lives better. It’s not a very interesting end point. It’s a really interesting means to an end point. And so, when I wrote my first book in 2011, called It Starts with Food. The whole premise of that was like that was just the starting point.
That’s the title of it, right? It’s just the jumping off point. What I really wanted to kind of highlight with this book was the larger world not just outside of food, but outside of really specific, constraining, tangible health and wellness behaviors. Because ultimately, and if you think about this from a sort of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs standpoint, the most interesting stuff that happens once we have met those basic health and wellness needs. And then we start to look at community and legacy and self-actualization and transcendence of the self into getting into these much more interesting, larger human and sometimes philosophical explorations.
So this book really is just the prequel to It Starts with Food. This book is the framework that’s been sitting in my head for about a decade, and now hopefully it’ll give people a new framework, a new paradigm to think about their health and wellness, not just from what to do differently, but why to do it. Because I think that’s a really big missing piece of the conversation in the health and wellness and functional medicine realms.
James Maskell: Absolutely. It’s called The 4 Season Solution. And when I read it, the thing that stuck out to me was this concept of chronic summer. And I would love for you to just dive into that because I think a lot of people listening to this podcast are either in chronic summer themselves or are seeing patients that are in chronic summer.
And I think that if you could unpack that for our audience, it’ll give real context to why this book is so important.
Dallas Hartwig: Sure. So I’ll do a little primer necessary here. The title is The 4 Season Solution, and it’s titled that because ultimately, we all live in a very cyclical, biological, oscillating world.
And if we don’t acknowledge that, we really miss a lot of the human experience. So what we really need to get better at doing is honoring those rhythms in ourselves and in the world around us, such that we can be more harmonious and be more oscillating ourselves. The world as we’ve built it, the modern civilized digital world is a very binary, black and white, on-off world.
But that’s not how we are as creatures. So we have kind of gotten stuck as a civilization in this summer mode, this mode of bright lights, long days, short nights, sleep restriction, chronic stress, lots of movement, lots of stimulation.
It’s a very adrenaline- and dopamine-driven way of existing. And what that means is over the course of long periods of time, we end up getting overstimulated, under-recovered, frayed at the edges, frazzled, and that shows up in all kinds of chronic disease from anxiety and exhaustion. Everything from insulin resistance and insomnia to depression, to all manner of cardiovascular diseases. Like this theme of chronic stress as we know underpins most chronic disease. And what I do with this book is help the reader to understand that that chronic stress is designed into the fabric of civilization.
And that is really good for productivity and expansion and industrialization. It’s really good from a civilization level standpoint, it’s really destructive and exhausting and depleting from an organism level. And if you can think about for a second, kind of close your eyes and remember, or imagine the feeling. At the end of the summertime, let’s say, late August in the Northern hemisphere, and it’s been busy. There’s been travel, there’s been barbecues and block parties, and there’s been kids home from school or whatever. And usually about that time, sometime around Labor Day, I’m totally ready for the fall. I’m ready for things to slow down.
I’m ready for earlier sunsets, earlier bedtimes. And that feeling of being just overstimulated, of being on the go all the time is effectively the feeling of what it’s supposed to feel like in the summertime. But we do that in civilization year-round, decade after decade after decade. So chronic summer then is basically an inappropriate extension of the summer experience into our entire lives that comes at great cost.
James Maskell: That makes so much sense. And one of the things I got from your book is that these cycles are happening…obviously, the most obvious is the year cycle that we all live in, but ultimately these cycles are happening over a lifetime and even inside the cell or inside the body many times each day.
Dallas Hartwig: Yeah, this is an expansion contraction cycle ultimately, and you can divide up into quadrants and call it spring, summer, fall, winter. But this is a cycle of expansion and contraction. And that occurs to your point, at the cellular, with circadian clock genes.
It occurs in virtually all organisms on earth, most cells in the human body. This cycle is something that we have to honor. And if we don’t learn to do that, it will come at great cost. And that can be something we know about, for example, we know about the sleep cycles that occur in roughly 90-minute increments.
We know about ultradian rhythms. My good friend and colleague, Pilar Gerasimo, writes extensively about ultradian rhythms that occurred during the daytime. There’s the obvious daily rhythm, the diurnal rhythm, and there’s the seasonal rhythm across the course of a year, and there’s the sort of seasons of our lives. And all of those things mirror that same expansion contraction cycle.
And we as both very hungry, greedy human organisms and also as a species have dramatically over expanded in terms of our focus on exploration, consumption of resources, acquisition of resources, this expansive summer type mode. And I will argue that the same need for rest and recalibration and contraction that’s necessary for us at the end of summer is necessary for us as we reach the midpoint of our lives and as also necessary for us on a species on a global level, because we have certainly over expanded and civilization does really well there.
I was reading an article just recently about Michael Pollan’s upcoming book, Caffeine, and he’s asking the question whether a caffeine is good for humans as individuals, as organisms, versus being good for the civilization, the society. And I think those are interesting questions that I think really echo a lot in my own book. So, yeah, this is something that is dramatically unaddressed in even the functional medicine realm, where we’re really thinking about it from systems biology perspective. But much of this oscillation is under-addressed and perhaps lost altogether.
James Maskell: Yeah, I guess if I’m thinking about your classic functional medicine patient, a 50-year-old woman who’s stressed and burnt out and is exhibiting a range of symptoms that relate to all the things that you said, ultimately, it sounds like we’re needing to have a different kind of a conversation, possibly in those sessions then just how do I get my body back to a point to be able to run a full speed again?
Dallas Hartwig: Yeah, that’s often the question that patients ask, but I don’t know if this necessarily the right question or at least the right question for us as clinicians. Because lots of times people, especially as they age, try to get back, use the phrase get back, get back to where they were, get back to their old beach body or their old work productivity or their old energy levels.
And not that that’s not a worthy thing to aspire to and to work towards, especially when you have chronic disease going on. But there’s also I think probably some thread of the cult of youth, the expectation that we’re going to be just as good in our fifties as we were in our twenties.
What happens is change. What happens is evolution. What happens is adaptation to our lives and we shouldn’t behave, and we shouldn’t even feel physically the same in our fifties as we did in our twenties, because we’re in a totally different season of our life. If you think about the way you feel in your body on that first warm spring day, when you can hear the birds and the sun’s really warm and the breeze is really warm and there’s some flowers coming up. That energizing, titillating experience in your body feels really different than it does in September or October when it’s cooler, when you’re slowing down, when you’re staying close to home a little bit more.
Like it’s a totally different sort of visceral, sematic experience in your body. And that’s normal. And that’s good. And I’ll argue that the same thing is true across the seasons of our lives as well, that we don’t necessarily perceive change as loss, but we see it as evidence of progression. And again, this is not to normalize people who are unhealthy, who don’t feel well, but it is to say sometimes we get chasing the fountain of youth confused with just being healthy and progressing into the next season of our life.
James Maskell: Absolutely. Yeah. I think that seasonal concept is one of the things I just witnessed in reading the book was just seeing how those seasons play out even in my own life where I grew up in England and obviously there’s a lot of things that are cobbled with everyone’s growing up. But suddenly the first 15 years of my career in being in functional medicine, I could describe as a massive hustle, right? Putting a hundred thousand miles on my car, visiting so many medical practices. Then starting a business and starting multiple businesses. Then the Functional Forum. Then turning that into all different things, doing that crazy tour around the country. And ultimately at this point, feeling like I’m not burned out, like I’m still super passionate about where I see this is going.
But ultimately, like I feel a draw to mentor other entrepreneurs, I feel a draw to share what I’ve learnt. I feel a draw to continue to bring connections and everything that I gained into the summer into the industry, but just not at the same frantic pace that it went for the last 15 years.
And when I read your book. I was just like, oh, I’m not burning out. I’m just honoring the natural progression of what it means to live in alignment with the seasons as it relates to my whole life, which I’d never really considered before reading it.
Dallas Hartwig: Yeah, absolutely. What I’m hearing you say is that…because you and I are close to the same age and I’m having a similar experience whereas I’m into my forties I’m thinking about legacy and mentoring and leadership and giving back and community and connection. And of course, that’s a shared passion of yours and mine.
And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that you and I are becoming increasingly interested and passionate in the community, leadership, legacy, mentorship aspects of things in these recent years. Because if you think about the way a lot of the ancient societies used to be structured, when people, let’s say you and I, young men. When we are in our early to mid- to late-twenties, and even into our thirties, we have energy and vigor and zeal, and we can go out and do the stuff. We can be successful. We can really apply ourselves and pour our hearts and souls and energies into big projects like you just described. And that’s exactly what we should be doing then. And we should just be working our asses off in those times because that’s the season of our life to do the thing, to apply ourselves maximally, to really like turn on all the jets really and really do it.
Whether that is applying ourselves to raising a family or a career or a community service project or life’s work, like whatever that is. That’s the time to do it. But there is also a time to start shifting and there’s a subtle directional shift, and that’s why I referenced the expansion contraction. There’s a subtle directional shift that starts to happen for people usually in their early to mid-forties where they start to think about and wonder like am I on the right track? Am I doing the right thing here? What’s next? Is this all there is? How do I give back? Some of those kinds of things.
And those natural questions that arise I think are a biological indication of some sort of psychological, experiential shifts because after we’ve done that hard success-driven work for a long time, civilization would have us just buckle down and do it harder and search for the next raise and try to make VP or partner or whatever so that we can have the house in the Hamptons and the boat and the blah, blah, blah.
But ultimately, we habituate or we train people to try to squeeze more productivity and success out of our decades. And I think it’s unhealthy and unsustainable. And I think that the numbers around people’s mental health struggles really bear this out. But we’ve got a couple really good decades of intense, hard, exhausting work, focused work, and then we should be starting to think about changing course and giving back and community.
And one of the things that I find most interesting about this seasonal approach is that there are archetypal neurotransmitters and hormones that go along with each of the seasons. And so, if you think about spring as excitement and novelty and titillation and anticipation, it’s such a dopamine-driven season.
And summer is such stress-driven, in this case, adrenaline-driven season. And that’s normal in the context of a relatively short, quite intense application of resources, to do whatever the thing is, to be successful at the challenge. And then fall is all about connection, coming home. Roots, family, community, legacy, leadership, the whole kind of giving back that generosity experience. Right. So, we have in the US, we have Thanksgiving as a holiday in the fall. And so that concept of connection and generosity is a huge piece of fall. And that’s typified by the serotonin, which is known as the kind of love, bond, and connection neurotransmitter.
And then going into winter, then winter is deep healing and restoration and rest and sleep and sort of the ultimate contraction. And that’s melatonin. That is also analogous then to the dead of night when you’re sleeping.
So what you’re really talking about is the experience of the serotonin, community, connective, cooperation, generosity idea. And I think that’s a really fascinating thing to see arise spontaneously in people at certain ages, because I don’t think that it is coincidental. I think there’s a very natural biological shift that goes on there.
And I think in society there’s a really large mismatch between what we intuitively and biologically yearn for, and what society, civilization, consumerism expects us to do. And I think that produces a huge amount of discord and unhappiness and stress and chronic disease in people.
James Maskell: Yeah. It really echoes what I’ve heard from functional medicine doctors over the years where if you’re a physician and you make the switch to functional medicine, at the beginning you’re just doing allopathy with different tools, right? Where you’re still thinking single cause, single effect.
Hey, there’s a problem here that I can read on these labs. Maybe it’s a slightly different lab and I’m going to use supplements and I’m going to deal with it. And then over time you start to really think into more of a holistic approach and you really start to get clear on the systems biology. But then when you see these ninja doctors that have been doing this for sometimes years and decades, a more of a conversation is like hey, what’s going on in your world? What’s happening in your life? And that’s where the initial conversations are, because I think there’s just certain intuition from doctors that getting into that stuff and really getting into those kinds of conversations with patients is ultimately going to yield more in a shorter period of time than any lab tests could ever share with you.
And when I read the book, I was like that’s why, because a lot of times we just need to have a conversation about the seasons of our lives and not necessarily how to get back to peak performance.
Dallas Hartwig: Yeah, absolutely. I think that really what you’re describing is the art side of functional medicine or of healthcare in general, but really what’s missing in society at large, and you and I have talked about this extensively over the years, is meaningful connection. So we know that physicians who have more meaningful connections with their patients, who exhibit more empathy, who take more time, who have more conversation, have better clinical outcomes with things that don’t quite make sense at first glance.
I think that really what we’re getting to is that connections matter most. And again, you and I have had hit this one for sure. And one of the aspects of the oscillations that occur and that you write about in the book, because I talk about food and I talk about movement and I talk about circadian rhythm and sleep and I also talk about connection.
And there is an expansion contraction cycle in that connection component of our health and wellbeing as well. And in the summertime, summertime so to speak, kind of with quotation marks. In the chronic summer, we behave in a very summer kind of social way, which is large number of connections, many new connections, relatively superficial. There’s a lot of expansion of our social world, but there isn’t a lot of depth and intimacy. And in the same way as behaving in a chronic summer way in terms of sleep, we’re basically running at a chronic sleep deficit. Behaving in a chronic summer way with our social connections also leaves us with deficiencies of deep, meaningful, intimate, vulnerable connections, what I call anchor connections.
And those re-emerge in going into the fall. And so in the same way that you reconnect with your closest family and your closest friends in the fall after having not seen as much as them over the summer, especially if they live somewhere else, that reconnection feeling is the feeling that so many of us yearn for.
And as we wake up to the idea that the reason that we have so much social disconnection and loneliness and isolation and the reason that we have such a disrupted circadian rhythm and sleep, chronic sleep restriction or chronic sleep deficit. And we have these dietary problems and we have problems with our movement and our exercise programs, or lack of such.
All of these arrows are pointing in the direction of spending too much time in this summer mode, and as I argue in the book, the therapeutic shift. And also the deeply intuitive shift is towards a restorative and contractive fall and winter kind of mode. So that’s where I think most people really need to go from a therapeutic standpoint.
And that’s a model that can be applied clinically with functional medicine physicians and other practitioners. It can also be a model that can be very easily applied by an individual in their own life. Because it’s not rocket science. This is simply recognizing the natural patterns in the world, in the biological world, and saying, oh, I feel I need to honor those in my life. And you can still live a quote unquote normal life. Like you don’t have to become a homesteader or move to a commune or go live in the woods somewhere. This is something that you can successfully do in the modern world, but it needs some kind of parameters and some structure put around it.
Otherwise, you feel like you’re chasing feelings and intuitions, but without any kind of organizing framework, and this is the organizing framework for that.
James Maskell: Is this the right time to announce my commune?
Dallas Hartwig: Yes. You don’t have to go in a commune, but you certainly could.
James Maskell: Watch this space. I guess I want to just talk into what we started with a little bit, which is talking about this diet book thing, because let’s just take two kinds of people that come into the office that I’m sure people will resonate with that I know are happening in client care, and just explain it from your seasoned solutions.
So one is the person who goes vegan because they watched a TV documentary and it’s amazing for a few months and then it’s not so amazing. So that’s one. And then the second one is someone who has gone keto, hasn’t eaten a vegetable in three months and lost a ton of weight and felt amazing and is now like hang on a minute, something’s off. Talk through those two people and how that relates to the seasons. Because I think this is something super, super profound for every practitioner who’s listening. Because I know that you’re seeing these people in care and I know that this is the end of the diet book and I’m super excited for you to jam on this.
Dallas Hartwig: For sure. Thanks. So the way I see the nutritional world and certainly the diet book industry, is that there are a huge number of perspectives and opinions, many of which are really well supported by science, but that’s really difficult to make sense of because if you look at the research, you can find a low fat, relatively high carb, and perhaps low protein vegan or vegetarian approach to be really effective for certain physiological parameters. There are adaptations to take place to a nutritious diet in that style.
There’s also really significant physiological adaptations that take place when you severely restrict carbohydrate, even if you’re going so far as to restrict certain types of dietary protein, and you’re getting into kind of a ketogenic diet kind of approach, or just a low carb, high fat approach. And then there’s physiological adaptations that take place there as well. And there’s all manner of variations, right?
The diet wars have been going on for decades. And I think those are really clear and elegant way to understand these apparent incongruencies. And what I see is a human body that’s incredibly capable and adaptable and has been for our entire evolutionary history. And we’re so good at taking what’s available to us and adapting and thriving in that context. And at different points in human history at different seasons, at different places on earth, we had many, many different sorts of dietary inputs and we got pretty good at using most of them successfully. And in most temperate climates, we’re going to have a pretty significant variation seasonally across the course of the year in what food was available. And because this is pre agriculture, right?
And so before we stabilized food supply with agriculture, we ate whatever was available locally, at different times of the year. And it varied quite significantly. So what I see in the modern nutrition realm is a lot of confusion about what the correct dietary approach is for humans. What’s the healthiest human diet?
A question that thousands of researchers have asked and come to probably just as many different conclusions because you can have a patient who walks in the door, who’s been vegan, who has improved biomarkers and all these different areas for the first three months, six months, maybe a year. And you can also have the similar thing happened with someone who’s gone into like a meat and fat, ketogenic or low carb, high fat dietary approach can have significant changes as well. So what gives?
Well, what I see happening there is that you have patients who have self-selected into a seasonal way of eating that has a finite, short-term, positive adaptation associated with it. It starts to go away if you extend it artificially long.
So to your point, the same thing happens with both the person who’s on an extended time period of a vegan diet or extended time period of a keto diet, is that things are really good for a while and adaptation and change happens and we can extend it. And then they’ve maybe have to kind of tweak things or do it a bit harder or do it a bit more extreme to kind of squeeze out some additional changes. And then things stop getting better. In fact, they often start getting worse. And so what really happens there is that you have people improperly extending their dietary strategy beyond the season where it belongs. So if you look at a sort of a spring type diet where there’s fresh vegetables and some meat and seafood available and oils, like it looks like a very much like a Mediterranean kind of diet.
If you look at the summertime, it’s a very plant rich…it tends to be higher in carbohydrates because there’s more fruit present. And there’s perhaps a little bit less dietary fat just simply by availability of fresh food. So then the summertime looks like the sort of plant-based kind of diets or perhaps going into a vegetarian or even vegan approach.
Fall looks like a nutrient dense whole-foods omnivorous kind of paleo type diet. And which is, again, moderate in both carbohydrate and fat. And then winter looks like a carbohydrate restricted, low carb, high fat, or perhaps even ketogenic approach. And so what we have here is this beautiful opportunity to gain all of the physiological benefit from each of these dietary strategies that does have strong research behind it for certain parameters.
And we can get all of those adaptations and those benefits, and then we can leave them behind in their season and go on to the next seasonally appropriate fair. So what I think the question here is, well, which one of these diets is the right diet. And the answer is all of them, or none of them, depending on how you mean that question. So it’s both…I can’t think of it…like a T. Colin Campbell and a Gary Tobbs are both right sometimes. The proponents of all these diets are right. There are good things that happen for a finite period of time, and we need to know when to say, okay, yes, we’ve had that for a season. Let’s move on to the next season.
James Maskell: I really appreciate you sharing that, and I’m really excited to share this on my podcast because ultimately, I’ve been waiting for someone to share something along these lines for this long. I mean, I was at the mindbodygreen conference in 2014 when there was like Frank Lipman on one side and Joe Kahn on one side and Mark Hyman in the middle. Like vegan versus paleo, who’s going to win? And that conversation has been so boring for the last six years.
Dallas Hartwig: For sure.
James Maskell: So annoying, because ultimately, being on one side of that just feels like kind of the most egregious example of just the problems that we see in the world where no one can agree and everyone’s steadfast in their beliefs. When I heard you say this for the first time, like back in September when you were talking to me about this book that was going to come out, I was just like I could see sending this to vegan people and to paleo people and to keto people and people to hear what you just said in the last 10 minutes, and go, “Yeah. That’s not only right, but that’s just like obvious.” And that ultimately, when I said this could be the end of the diet book, it’s because it’s not that the diet book trend is going to end or that it’s not important to have awesome vegan recipes for summer or awesome ways of eating keto in a healthy way.
But that ultimately, these were seasonally appropriate and that it just makes so much sense given the fact that we have mainly evolved in climates where it did change. And ultimately, gives you finally a solution for, well, how did the Innuits live to 80 years with only one source?
Or how did these tribesmen in South Africa live where. The only eating honey in certain periods of time. And it’s because of the adaptive response. And it’s because things change over time. And all of those questions that I’d always had, like how can all these people be simultaneously wrong and right? It just hit me as like, oh yeah, obviously there’s seasons.
Dallas Hartwig: Yeah. I think that’s really what it comes down to is that we tend to get really tribal with our perspectives. And science isn’t an inherently, kind of tribal way of viewing the world because we have an idea and we research it and we start to really believe it and we turn a hypothesis into a belief and then we are forced to or we feel compelled to convert the nonbelievers.
But ultimately, what we should be doing, I think both as individuals, lay people and clinicians as well, is seeking to always question our own beliefs and question our own premises. And that’s I think where all of the leaders in the nutrition realm, everyone’s got an opinion. Everyone wants to be right.
And we argue and argue and argue, and we had these public debates. And to your point, it’s so boring because really what it comes down to is there is research on all of these things. No one, in my opinion, no one was ever harmed by doing a three month long keto diet or a three month long vegan diet. I think there are really significant harmful things that happen when you take one of these approaches, any of these approaches, and extend it beyond its seasonal appropriateness.
So it’s not that one is safer or one is more effective or one is ideal. It’s that they’re all good in their time and they’re all bad out of that time.
James Maskell: Absolutely. And I would love it for our community to be ahead of the game and helping people to understand this and implement this. I mean, I know that you’re a thinker and you spend a lot of time reading and taking in ideas from different parts of the literature, the medical literature.
Whose work would you say that you stand on the shoulders of, that has informed this perspective and who do you recommend for our community to turn their ears up to, to maybe who they haven’t been listening to, if they’ve resonated with this concept?
Dallas Hartwig: It’s a good hard question. I’m so these days isolated in my own little world from a philosophical standpoint. Most of the research for this book was done in quite a few years past in terms of the physiological and nutritional underpinnings. I always draw heavily on my kind of early foray into the nutritional realm.
Rob Wolfe, who’s a dear friend, and also a real mentor to me early on. His very same perspective on an evolutionary biology or paleo type diet has been influential for the entire trajectory of my career. He’s from standing on the shoulders and I always tribute to him or attribute my start there.
But in more recent years, it’s mostly been me stepping back from what individual people are doing and looking for bigger trends, bigger patterns. And so the latter part of this book looks at those kind of larger patterns in society. And it’s kind of a strange kind of book in a way, because it’s in a lot of ways deeply steeped in science and circadian biology and nutrition and movement science.
And then it also waxes philosophical, so it bridges those two worlds. I guess I don’t have a really short sweet, elegant answer there. Because I do kind of just wander from a sort of eclectic influence perspective.
James Maskell: Well, look, I’ve been deeply immersed in this world for 15 years, like I’ve definitely come across these kind of concepts of seasonality before. But ultimately, I really feel like this is the first time that I’ve seen it displayed so clearly. And even in the book I see from the ultradian rhythms all the way up to the way that we see our lives. This is almost like a unified thesis for being a human in a certain way and what it is to be a human.
Dallas Hartwig: Yeah. I’ve thought that and struggled from a self-conscious perspective to say that, because it sounds to me, it sounds very sort of self-aggrandizing. But to me, I love noticing all of the patterns, in life and on different timelines and in different areas of our lives and different parts of the world and different cultures. Like I love seeing the commonalities and I think this book does bring together a lot of those common patterns, whether you’re talking about the way we socialize or the way we sleep, or the way we move, or what food we eat. And also whether we’re talking about our youth or young adulthood or middle adulthood or later adulthood.
I think there’s some fascinating lessons for all of us in observing how the world turns and how we as a small part of a very big system behave because we’ve lost connection to the natural world. We’ve lost connection to our own intuitions and slowing down and quieting and being able to learn to hear those intuitions.
And then once we hear them, even more importantly to learn to trust them, that’s kind of a lost art. And that’s what I’ve been doing myself these past few years where I’ve been much quieter and introspective and more present at home than I’ve been in years past. And it feels deeply healing and restorative. And I think there’s an opportunity for many of us to live lives that feel more healing and restorative and like we’re in alignment than we ever have before.
James Maskell: Absolutely. Well, beautifully said. So when is the book out? How can people get their hands on it and how is it going to be available?
Dallas Hartwig: The 4 Season Solution is released on March 10th. It’ll be available in print format as well as audiobook. And you can get it anywhere books are sold, including Amazon and Barnes and Noble. So there’s lots of opportunities there.
James Maskell: Yeah, absolutely. And I know a lot of practitioners and in our community have lending libraries. And I would recommend to all of you to get it and think into it, because ultimately, there are people who are practitioners who are listening to this and people who are listening to this who are in different stages of their lives.
And I hope that this can be a…one of my goals for my career has been to unify this community that is very unified in the way they think, but ultimately have certain ways in which they act. They’re reflective of the world that we live in, that there’s like a paleo camp and a vegan camp and a functional camp and an integrative camp and naturopathic camp.
And ultimately, it’s been my vision to unite and that’s why we’ve created the show and the meetup groups and that kind of thing to really build community and help for people to come together. And ultimately, I feel like this could be like a foundational document for this collaboration because I feel like it solves a lot of the things that we’d been warring about. And I look forward to even celebrities in our space that have made a business out of being on one side of another to read it. Because I hope that ultimately, they see the unique responsibility that they have to be able to hopefully be a bastion for collaboration and for overcoming divides and all the things that we see in society.
James Maskell: So I look forward to everyone listening to this. I really look forward to your feedback. And I feel like in the context of the year of simplicity and the year of resilience, that ultimately, this is a real addition to a conversation about what real resilience is. And I really appreciate you one, taking time to come up with something so profound. And two, sharing about it on the podcast. So thanks so much for being part of the Evolution of Medicine podcast. I mean, this really is the evolution of medicine, evolutionary concepts inside medicine, and how it affects our lives.
Thanks so much for being here as part of the podcast. I’ve been with Dallas Hartwig, who is an author and functional medicine leader, among many other things. My name’s James Maskell. I’m the host. Thanks so much for tuning in. Please share this with someone that has told you many times about the importance of whatever dietary theory they espouse, whatever team they’re on, and I hope that this can bring some harmony to divided nutritional communities. Thanks so much for being here and we’ll see you next time.


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