Dr. Pastore interviews his former patient and long-time friend Raul Ibanez, retired MLB All-Star Player. In this conversation, they discuss longevity in professional sports, dietary sensitivities and nutrition, and his training post-retirement.
Dr. Pastore: I am beyond honored today that a very dear friend of mine is joining me for this podcast, and that dear friend is the great Raul Ibanez. Raul's illustrious career in major league baseball started back in June of 1992 with the Seattle Mariners.
Raul played with the Kansas City Royals, he played the Philadelphia Phillies where he secured a world series reign back in 2008 batting 304 with four doubles, a [inaudible 00:00:27], and 4RBI. He played with Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and the New York Yankees where he set some extremely impressive records.
He became the first player in major league history to hit two home runs in a post season game he did not start. He was the first player to hit two home runs in the ninth inning or later of a post season game, which was remarkable and I was watching those games.
And this is my personal favorite. He's the oldest player to hit a post season walk off home run period and the oldest player to hit two home runs in a post season game. I mean, this is an incredible athlete.
Raul hit 305 in his career. Remarkable. And home runs? Holy cow. 305 career home runs, 1,207 runs batted in. On top of that with all these bragging rights, leave it to the Sports Illustrated questionnaire where they gave out a questionnaire about just a bunch of tips on players. Questions about players. 290 major league baseball players, over their careers ... different times they played past and present, voted Raul Ibanez the second nicest man to ever play the game.
I was mad by that result. I love Jim Thome who was number one. But I actually screamed when that came out to my wife. I disagree. Raul clearly is the nicest guy, and super smart at that. His knowledge of baseball, his knowledge of health and fitness is second to none. I always felt that Raul was someone who approached his sport and his craft as if it was a military exercise.
Raul, you played 19 seasons of professional baseball. Remarkable. If we look at the numbers, players who were drafted in '92 included one of the greats, Derek Jeter. He retired in 2014.
You actually had a later date and a longer career than the great Derek Jeter. So the reason I'm mentioning this ... I want to segway to a lot of young players would always come to me and say, "I want to age like Raul. I want to be as fit and healthy as Raul."
What do you attribute your longevity to in major league baseball?
Raul: Well, thank you so much Dr. Pastore. You know that we've been friends for a long time and I have this incredible admiration and respect for you. Not just professional where I think you're the brightest and the best at what you do in the world, but as a human being. It's just so much more important. So thank you.
Yeah. I think that it starts with the passion, and the drive, and the love of the game, and trying to play as long as you possibly can. At an early age, I had a strict coach named Lou DeNeen who is ... he's currently the strength and conditioning coordinator for University of Alabama. The Crimson Tide basketball ... for their basketball team.
And Lou said to me, "The one emotion that I never want to feel, Raul, is regret." And he said, "It's a very powerful emotion." He may not know this to this day, but that really struck a cord with me. That was my main objective was that I never want to feel regret. When it's all over, when it's all said and done, I want to know that I did everything in my power to do the best that I can be.
Success is not becoming the best player on the planet. Success is becoming the best player that you could be. That's what success meant to me. Did I get everything out of all my God-given abilities and all my God-given talent? And did I over turn and uncover every stone and try to find the best way to stay on the field as long as I can?
So I know we're going to dig deeper and go down this rabbit hole here, but I think it starts with that.
Dr. Pastore: Wow. That's pretty profound. And that's great about ... I love the Crimson Tide and I love what their organization has done. I've met several of the people involved in that organization when I've been lecturing.
I'm actually moving more into lecturing pro sports since I retired from practice. And thank you for the kind words, Raul. I'm so humbled. I don't know what to say. I stand on the shoulders of my own giants and heroes that I've had the honor of studying with and learning from to be the best I could.
But that's very profound wisdom that you've portrayed there. One of the things that I think alludes a lot of people that are pursuing anything particularly in sports is how challenging it is. And you're going to have to dig deep with those days. You could be as fit as possible but there's these days where you have to dig deep.
I mean, don't they refer to ... I've had a couple of guys call the 'season of major league baseball.' [inaudible 00:05:19] luckily as you have been being in the post season so frequently. They call it the grind. It's so intense. We're changing time zones, you're going from a game that may have ... what, 19 innings sometimes? [inaudible 00:05:36] I'm kidding, but there are these really long ... And you just came off the street. Congratulations on an amazing season with the Dodgers.
Raul: Thank you.
Dr. Pastore: Yeah. Super long game there. Is there another level of mental strength in addition to physical strength you need when you're facing that? I mean, think of Raul ... talk about those two posts ninth inning home runs you did. Where does that extra gear come from when it's like a 12th inning and all that's on you?
Raul: Well, I think that's why the discipline is so important. And it's the discipline and the drive and the internal dialog that you have with yourself. And trying to silence the voice of reason in your head while you're playing. The voice of reason that says, "You know, you should probably stop on this last [inaudible 00:06:27] right here because even though you have somebody behind you spotting you, you should probably spot." And when you get up and you get the lightheaded dizzy feeling ... and having the discipline and the drive to continue pushing through that. Or the discipline to eat correctly.
You know, once I met you and you transformed ... especially in the latter part of my career once we met. Once I met you and you transformed that way that I ate and taught me how to eat, and told me what I should be eating personally ... not what was good for my teammates, but what was good for me personally. That totally transformed it. But you have to have the discipline and the willingness to live that way.
I mean, I remember walking over to my pantry and my wife Tery's like, "What are you doing?" I go, "All of this crap that I eat, it's gotta go. I can't eat it." She said, "Well, we don't have to stop eating it." Her and the kids. And I go, "I'm not telling you to. But whatever I've been eating, I've got to stop doing because Doctor Pastore told me I need to stop doing that."
So I think it ties back into the discipline and the diligence of doing everything in your power to maximize your ability. And then when you push yourself that way, when you push yourself in how you eat, when you push yourself in how you train, when you push yourself in how you sleep, when you push yourself by sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber if need be ...
When you push yourself that way, you almost feel like you deserve success. And you almost feel like you're in an advantageous position when the going gets tough. When the September rolls around, when the grind of the extra innings ... you almost feel like you're built for that. And that's how you should [inaudible 00:08:02].
Dr. Pastore: That's incredible. Wow. So it was really never a surprise. You were preparing for that ahead of time. Wow.
And Raul, talking about one of my favorite topics ... nutrition in sport, right? I think it's still so misunderstood. And thank you for saying in your words what my mantra was. I always believed one person's food can be another person's poison. I know I'm being dramatic with that, it's not an actual person. But if it's affecting your life in so many ways, maybe we can think of it that way to use that nomenclature.
I've also always preached we are all biochemically unique. I would never have said the diet that works for Raul Ibanez would work for Raul's wife, or my wife, or some other ball player. That is a huge mistake. So I've had so many issues with the food pyramid, the MyPlate, anytime they came out ... I get that we have to have global recommendations. I still think the could be better. But in sport, it really takes that fine tuning.
Now I know the answer here, but I hope you don't mind me asking it. Can you talk a little bit about how your career changed when you started following a path of eating a specific way for your body?
Raul: Oh totally. I'm glad we got here.
So 2009 after the post season, after the World Series, I'm on anti inflammatories second half of the year. I'm having surgery. I can barely walk down the steps the day after the World Series. You know, you're on pure adrenaline and anti inflammatories.
I go and have this surgery, come out, do the rehab. And the director of rehab says, "Well, you should be good by now." My physical therapist says, "Well, you should be good by now." But I still can't run 40 yards. Right around the 40 yard mark when I'm sprinting, the pain gets really intense. I can barely keep going.
So through a mutual friend I find out about you, Doctor Pastore. So I do the blood work and then you check me out, and you call me back when the blood work comes back. And I'm in my bathroom at home in Florida. And you go, "You know, you have an allergy to gluten and dairy, and you have this, and you have this." And you start going down the list of stuff, and he's like, "And if you stop eating these things, you're going to feel significantly better."
So I had been training my butt off for however many years. I had been doing everything in my power. And now I've got this man that's a genius at his craft, and you're telling me I can't have gluten and dairy? I thought for a second ... I looked at the phone and I was going to throw my phone out the window. What does that mean? How is that going to help me run past the 40 yard mark?
And you began to explain it to me. And within five days of eliminating gluten and dairy from my diet, I could run 100 yards sprint. I was sold at that point. I was completely sold just by eliminating that. And needless to say, vitamins and incorporating all the other nutrients that I needed.
But the five days after the gluten and dairy, I couldn't believe it. Every morning I was having piles of gluten and I had no idea. I had no idea what gluten was. I was like, "What is gluten?" So I had to get on the internet and find out.
So thank you. Thank you for that.
Dr. Pastore: Oh God, no. That's not why I asked the question. I'm so thrilled about that.
One of the things, Raul, that I found so interesting in my career ... my academic career and more so in my practicing career working on great athletes such as yourself was the misunderstanding ... the inability for great athletes to have the tools that show them what they're consuming drastically affects the inflammatory cascade. So the bulk of the human immune system resides in the gastrointestinal tract, and if you have a negative relationship to something you're consuming on a regular basis, boy you really spelled it out for us. Piles of gluten.
And your immunologically reacting to it ... that creates a pro inflammatory storm that can affect everything. If your toe's hurting you, it's going to make your toe worse. Your knee worse, hips worse, back worse. And again, not only did I know this from academics ... but working with a lot of professionals in my field. Knowing doctors that were going out there prescribing Mobic, prescribing all these anti inflammatories.
Would then call me up and say, "Why do I need less for an athlete? Why when you just did this one little thing?" I said, "It's really not one little thing. You are identifying a major system reaction to get something they're consuming. And it could be anything."
You know what was always interesting, Raul? Was some of my favorite cases were the cases where it wasn't an obvious food. Meaning in the media, people have ripped apart gluten and dairy. Being a Celiac disease person myself, I go, "Go for it. I can't eat it anyway."
I've personally seen top athletes that react negatively to [inaudible 00:13:03] or pro athletes that sunflower seeds were killing them. They had mouths full of canker sores, and guess what? I'm reading the results in my home office on a Saturday. I'm scheduled to talk to the ball player on a Monday. I'm watching the game ... and they're crushing sunflower seeds in the dugout. The camera pans to them and I go, "Oh my God, I gotta call this person right away."
Obviously I can't get them during a game. But it's that type of interesting thing that one person's food can truly be another person's poison. But then I think what's interesting in your case, Raul, and please correct me if I'm wrong. It was reported by ESPN on your career.
You were being interviewed. I think you were around 41 at the time. You said something really interesting about food choices of what you didn't react to. And without picking on any industry ... just you saying, "I feel this way," that has value. You said, and again please correct me if the statement's wrong ... you could feel a difference if you ate grass-fed meat versus more conventional farmed meat. Is that a correct statement?
Raul: 100% and that was one that I took in our home, in the Ibañez home, you know Terry, my wife, she does not pull any punches so she will call me out on it and she used to make fun of me cuz she'd make something and I'd go, "That wasn't grass-fed beef." The next morning, I'd say, "That wasn't grass-fed beef you used." And she was like, "Give me a break!" She was like, "Oh, what, are your ankles sore?" Because I'd wake up with stiffness in my joints and my ankles and I think after a while, once we met and once you taught me, I've learned to be really, really in tune with how my body felt.
So, and along those lines about the ankles, I remember, at age 33, I'd wake up in the morning after long games, little dehydrated from the night before, I'd wake up and I could barely walk to the bathroom in the morning cuz my ankles were so tight, my joints were so tight. From the moment that we met at age 37, I never felt that way again. My inflammation went down, my strength went up, and my pain and just achiness, I began to feel better than I did at 34, 35. This is 100% factual, I'll put my hand on a stack of Bibles, so, and I never understood it, right?
When you, I hit 39, 40 and I'd see the guy next to me at 24 or 25 and he'd, it'd be September and he's like, "Gosh, I'm exhausted." And, of course, it'd give me an opportunity to do a little back and forth bantering, give him a little something, but the level of inflammation, not just with how I was eating, but with grass-fed beef compared to regular grain-fed or corn-fed beef was significantly different. Look, you and I are not into, I have no vested interest in the grass-fed beef industry other than to tell you that I felt significantly better and to this day, it's what I consume 90% of the time.
Occasionally I'll go to, really, 95% of the time, occasionally I'll go to a really nice steak house and I'll see a bone-in rib eye or something and I'll take a crack at it.
Dr. Pastore: Yeah.
Raul: Cuz at this point I don't want to feel inflamed, but, gosh, I really do like bone-in rib eye. So I'll occasionally do it, but it was a significant difference and it sill is.
Dr. Pastore: Yeah, and there's so much data out there and I kind of wanted to lead that way for one simple reason. You and I have no vested interest in anything like that, of course, what I wanted to mention was the quality of the fats and the quality of the food it really can't be debated. There's someone I admire tremendously throughout my academic career, we've been friends, we've kinda communicated via email, once on a phone. I invited him to give a lecture which ended up being an award-winning lecture for him. I'm talking about the great Dr. Loren Cordain who retired as a professor out of Colorado State University where he was for many years.
But Loren wrote a paper that was just remarkable comparing, scientifically, what is in conventional beef versus what is in grass-fed beef and when you're working with an athlete where you're using your, obviously, as the example, your whole physicality, that's your life. You have to not be sore, you have to. If you're 33 and you're feeling pain and then I know you're gonna be calling me at 40, I wish I'd knew, at 42 that's a real big deal for you to be in optimal, least amount of inflammation is possible.
So nourishing yourself with anti-inflammatory foods after you subtracted what you immunologically react to is basically a prescription for longevity in sport. Somebody had to sound bite me. Of course, fixing a clinical deficiency, right? That's urgent. If you have an [insent 00:17:47] that has anemia due to a milk allergy, which is how we learned about how dairy allergies or food allergies cause deficiencies, really comes out of, sadly, what we know about infancy and children growing up with that type of allergy.
The solution, by conventional thought, is well, they'll grow out of that. You were proof, at 37 when we, that is not the case. And what was so great and fun for me in my career, not only because you're such a, I just so admired what you could do and the ability you did have as an athlete, on top of that, just being a phenomenal, wonderful human being to be around, then to watch this just continue. Excellent.
That year we worked together, if you don't mind me mentioning, the joy to watch you get to 20 home runs by June of 2009 was just astonishing. To watch you playing with the Phillies while we were working together and go 5 for 5 on a Cinco de Mayo game and be player of the game and just, I love that. I loved watching that. It, the word on the street with the Major League Baseball, meaning professional players from all teams, were coming into my office just constantly saying, "I wanna be like this guy."
It wasn't, "I wanna be like Mike." It was, "I wanna be like Raul." That was, honest to God, the entire saying in my practice and it was, you were a really a poster child for my work and I humbly, form the bottom of my heart, thank you for that. And it made the younger guys who didn't want to give up the Eggo Waffles and drinking all night and doing what young guys may do with a big contract, you made it a lot easier, no pun intended, to swallow and digest what we needed to do.
We needed to get to work. We needed to have disciple. We needed to identify what is your relationship with your diet. I always wanted to know, Raul, when, yourself included, when someone's sitting across from me, I was just fascinated, the fascination and the love of what I did didn't go away. What was Raul's relationship on an immunological level to what he was eating? And could that have had a negative effect, not just on inflammatory pathways, but on deficiency pathways. What I have known is, going back from pediatrics, a child will [inaudible 00:20:22] is more prone to anemia.
Now, if I could just throw a sound bite, a Major League Baseball player, an NFL player, an NHL player allergic or reactive to a food could they be deficient in something else? And the answer always was, in my practice, yes. I would see release pictures, Raul, where they would have low levels of collagen producing substances, hydroxyproline, hydroxylysine, maybe they were lower than normal in the essential amino acid lysine, L-lysine, which is a very important nutrient, and I know in my head, oh, my goodness, that ends up being the building block to collagen. No wonder they had so many surgeries on their shoulder. Could this play a role? Anyone who would deny that nutrition plays a role, they should just not get involved in working with athletes because you can't deny the connection.
And I'm seeing, are you seeing now, Raul, since you are both sides, playing, making changes, being a leader of teams, working with Los Angeles and the major role you have and the success. You got, every time I turn around, you guys are in the play offs with the Dodgers. It's, congratulations on that.
Raul: [inaudible 00:21:39] A lot of that credit goes to the people that are above my pay grade. And our [inaudible 00:21:44] manager and staff and players, but thank you.
Dr. Pastore: Well, yeah, you know, everyone says that I've known also the tips you've given them, either in hitting or running or everything has just said Raul's the man. You should know that as well. Are you seeing younger players getting it more, Raul, from when you were 37 to now?
Raul: I think it's much more prevalent. When you talk about strengthening and conditioning program, the trainers, everybody, in Los Angeles, for instance, it's a collaborative effort. It's everybody together and we take a more holistic approach to dealing with our players and our people and our personnel. Our nutrition in the, everything that we do, even on the Minor League side, and, again, this goes, this credit goes to Edgar Friedman and [Arhon Zaidi 00:22:33] and Gabe [Kapler 00:22:34] that was there before who's now the Philadelphia Phillies' Manager who, he understands nutrition extraordinarily well.
But, even on the Minor League side, the way that we feed our players, it's all organic. We try to include grass-fed beef and so as far as the industry goes, it's much further along now, obviously, than it was 8 or 9 or 10 years ago when you and I started working together. And I think that the younger players do understand it because or it's already in the locker room. So it's already there, this is just how we eat. This is how we eat and in Philadelphia, to their credit, they did that as well on their own where they eliminated soft drinks from the locker room there for a while.
So even when we went on the road, they eliminated the soft drinks and the candy. It wasn't quite as advanced where, you know, myself and it was, at one point it was a dozen other guys on our team, we were having meals flown in. They would freeze dry em, fly em in, heat em up so that's how we ate before, during, and after the game. Now, it's much further along and all major league clubs are aware of the importance of nutrition and how it affects your diet.
One thing that I really want to mention in that you taught me about food was you told me food is a drug. And how you use food, it can affect you adversely or it could affect you positively. And that was another epiphany type moment for me because I remember thinking, yeah, it is a drug because if I drink 12 cups of coffee, I feel a certain way. Or if I eat five bowls of cereal that are really sugary, it makes me feel a certain way and so even from that perspective just kind of this principled approach, even if I didn't know all the stuff that you taught me, for me, the gluten and the dairy and staying away from - I was one of the sunflower seeds guys, right?
I was one of those guys, so just to stay away from those things, but also knowing that sugar, extreme, sugar never affected me positively, I think, before a game. I always tried to stay away from that and it was, you taught me about the, cuz I wasn't eating enough complex carbs before the game. I remember calling you and going, "Gosh, it's like the fourth inning and I'm starving. I'm starving out of my mind." And I did love coffee before and during the games, loved it, but, and you said, "Baked sweet potato. It's a difference maker."
And so I was like, "Okay." It was one of those moments, again, where I'm like, "All right, I guess." And it totally transformed the second half of that season for me. I stopped getting hungry, I stopped, almost going hypoglycemic during the game because of that. So even simple fixes like that had a transformative effect on performance.
Dr. Pastore: Absolutely and it's, and that's where you really have to know your athlete and fine tune for that athlete to make sure that they're getting the right nutrients that they need. I've always found, especially when I started from Michigan University studying human nutrition, I was so blessed to have one of the most phenomenal sports nutrition and protein researchers. I couldn't believe, Raul, how many young athletes I would see because MU is just a great baseball farm system. I'd see there's a lot of MLB players that came out of that farm system. But I would see so many young athletes that weren't even hitting their protein requirements. And we're talking about young, in their 20s. Then I'd look over at track and field and I'd see some of the women having very similar problems.
Once we get that [inaudible 00:26:15] that I'm still preaching the mantra of complex carbs simultaneously, you'd see athletes not getting their target carbs to make sure that they had the right energy. And then there were some athletes where you'd see a flip response. They'd have such an exaggerated response to carbohydrates that they felt better on a higher on a higher fat, medium protein, much lower carbohydrate diet. So it was kind of, and how did I learn that? I wasn't guessing, obviously, I was analytics, learning exactly how they'd perform on court. You heard it, too, the first place winner and the second place winner of the Tour de France, are on ketogenic, low carbohydrate diets. So they're not even consuming carbohydrates over 5%. Does that mean that should be done throughout Raul Ibañez? Oh, hell, no.
You were starving by the fourth or fifth inning, that's why, again, it's biochemical individuality, knowing that person. You were more prone to a hypoglycemic event and thank you for sharing that. And, Raul, one thing I wanted to mention to you about how important it is for fine tuning, you might find this interesting, not naming names, but it's kind of out there in the media.
There's a great, well-known PhD that preaches and understands and adorns ultra endurance exercise. And for years he was the following, he wrote the textbook and was following the textbook of carb loading, not sweet potatoes, the refined pasta and eat the white rice, and all that stuff cuz you need your carbs before these big ultra marathon events. Being fit, he was actually diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. And then started changing his life, changing the tide, lecturing against his prior recommendation, writing new recommendations, and it was all over the media in his realm of ultra endurance athletes to talk about identifying what the individual's load would be. Like you said, sugar before games, there's a massive difference between you eating bowls of sugary cereal versus you having a sweet potato, which has all those phenomenal antioxidants, phytonutrients, as well as slow burning complex carbohydrates encapsulated in the natural fiber of that plant. And I should say, and this is a secret that's now being revealed by me, you were one of the main, if not definitive inspirations for me inventing and developing the plant protein, Modus professional plant based protein.
Raul: Wow. Thank you. That's awesome.
Dr. Pastore: It's absolutely the truth. You were on my mind constantly while in the lab, because I needed to rebuild an athlete, be completely hypoallergenic, beat any competition of an adjacent product, making sure that it was definitive in branched [inaudible 00:29:01] amino acids, total amino acids, free-formed amino acids, proteins, plenty of fiber to make sure an athlete is healthy, recovering, being fortified and not missing out just because they can't consume dairy products as you had. Thank you for that, Raul. If I didn't meet you, I don't know I would have ever been able to get hit with the genius lightning bolt to make that product, so I thank you for that.
Raul: Thank you. Thank you. I'm sure that your multiple PhDs had something to do with that [crosstalk 00:29:35]. But you would have thought of it either way.
Dr. Pastore: What I'd love to ask you, if you don't mind, Raul, is now that you're kind of on the other side, right, and obviously very physically fit, you were a part of the grind for many years, nineteen seasons. How has your fitness and nutrition changed, if at all, now that you're working in a different realm of major league baseball?
Raul: Well, with the travel it's a lifestyle, right? It's not a diet. I have gotten more involved as of late in experimenting with the ketogenic type diet. I do like the intermittent fasting. [crosstalk 00:30:14]. I do like eating that way, because I enjoy the challenge of going, can you go another hour? Can you go for [inaudible 00:30:23]let's see if you can push it tomorrow to 30 minutes further? I enjoy that challenge. And I enjoy the discipline of having to maintain something like that. But I think overall I still try to eat very similarly. Pretty much the only different is with the carbs. I've pretty much totally eliminated them. Anything that's not a complex carb, anything that's not a vegetable... I would still indulge when I was playing in let's say gluten free pasta, one day, but now I really don't.
Raul: A lot of that has to do with not being able to afford that caloric intake and part of it because your activity goes way down right? Even now, I'm training, you train when you can, so it's 30 minutes, 45 minutes, some days an hour, hour and 15 minutes, but just some days it's a 15, 20 minute workout. So I don't wanna put any of it into my body. But I also feel way better with the intermittent fasting. I love the ... you turned me on to this years and years ago, the Bulletproof Coffee. Bulletproofing your coffee, I remember you telling me that coffee ... because I was saying gosh, I love coffee and I drank it during a game and it makes me feel fantastic during the game.
Sometimes I count ceiling tiles at night, but it's okay because during the game I feel really sharp and really alert and present and aware. And you said, "Don't apologize for drinking coffee, it's got 300 micronutrients," and you started going on, and [inaudible 00:31:50], "Oh great, it's a free pass from Dr. Pastore to drink as much coffee as I want." But no, including the fats in the morning, and I'm actually doing it right now. Makes a huge difference.
But I love it. I don't think it's changed that much, with the exception that in the last six months I've ... and as a Cuban married to a Puerto Rican lady, who's a phenomenal stuff, I've eliminated rice from my diet, and so ... it doesn't mean I'll never have it again, it's just what I'm doing right ...I feel great. I feel great doing it.
Dr. Pastore: That's perfect. And that's ... it should change, right, you're not...It's kind of like, I remember watching, I was a big fan of the Knicks growing up and, fan of all the New York sports teams, and I watched some Knicks retire and they started just blowing up because they kept the same exact caloric intake when they were running like mad on the court, and then, obviously, they would go, wow, what happened there? We actually, I'm not naming names, we had a mutual friend that, recently retired from baseball, [inaudible 00:32:57] the picnic question, so we got the nutrition part.
I'd love to know how you're training changed, because what this friend said to me was, "Doc, I don't even want to look at a weight resistance training for at least six months, my whole life was strength training". And you know, I had to respect that, right, it's kind of like, even me, I waved the white flag and said "I'm done with textbooks, I need to walk out of graduate school one of these days." You have to stop and change things up. Have you noticed baseball during your time playing, versus now, what you do to keep your physical strength, Raul, how has that changed, if at all?
Raul: Yeah, it's huge, right? I sympathize with the sentiment of that player, because you've been doing your entire life. And all of a sudden you get to squat, right? And you get to the bottom of a squat, and when you're doing it, when you're playing, there's a little voice in your head that says "Get it up. Get it off your back. Get up". And, now when you retire, the little voice says "Get it up, do one more. Get the weight off your back". And the other voice, the voice of reason, goes "Why? Why exactly am I doing this?" And that's the God's honest truth, that's the internal dialogue. But, I still like to do multi-joint movement, compound movements. I'll do things that I didn't do before, like I didn't do a lot of overhead pressing, you know, clean-type movements, but they are, the Olympic, what's the overhead Olympic lift? Because the shoulder stuff I didn't do as a player. I kind of ventured into hat world a little bit because it was different and it's new.
I've gotten into cycling, I still squat, but I mainly belt squat. My good friend Brian Hennessy in Philadelphia, a strength coach, the squat max, it's called Squat Max [inaudible 00:34:45]it's the best belt squat in the world. He's just a friend, and I'm just telling you that this is the best site, so squat heavy, without shearing your spine, and without damaging your knees. The weight is centered below your body, so it has no shearing of your spine.
So I still lift heavy, but I mix it up. I do, like, body weight exercises, push up, pull up, because it makes me feel fit. It makes me feel, it's nice to be 46 years old and go bang out, you know, twelve or fifteen pull ups. It's a good feeling. So I like that as well. But I've also ventured into cycling-
Dr. Pastore: Wow!
Raul: Not the guys that block the street, when you're driving. I don't do that, I do it on trails. No offense to those guys, no offense. But I do it more on trails and it's a great way to see the world, especially down here in South Florida. [crosstalk 00:35:41] Great way to see the world. Clear your mind. I'll drive past these marinas, it's a beautiful view. I really like that. And I've always been a fan of Brazilian Jew Jitsu. So-
Dr. Pastore: Wow!
Raul: So, it's a great cardio thing. As of late I've been traveling a lot so I've been out for a few months now, but I'll get back in now during the off-season. And it's finding different ways to challenge yourself. The Brazilian Jew Jitsu gets the technical aspect that I used to think about hitting a baseball all the time, and it pours it into that. So it's almost like a moving meditation, yoga, type of feeling afterwards. But, it's nice too, because there's, you know, if you're getting choked out, again there's...I like anything that challenges you internally to tap, or not to tap out.
Dr. Pastore: Wow!
Raul: I like that internal type of push and drive that's going on on the inside. So I think condensing the workouts into smaller...some days it's heavier for shorter periods of time, and some days it's a metabolic, cardiovascular where I'll just do a circuit, nonstop. And the big thing is, you want to challenge yourself, you want to push yourself, but you don't have to kill yourself. So-
Dr. Pastore: Yeah.
Raul: I find it, that training that way, it brings me joy, and at the end of the day, feel healthy, and you feel joyful ,that's what it's all about.
Dr. Pastore: That's what it's all about, yeah. Wow, that is so remarkable, how you have such diversity in your training, and what you're doing, post-season, Raul. Again, it's a testament to everyone who knows you, how you've just been so disciplined in everything that you've done. That's awesome.
Dr. Pastore: And Raul, what I'd love to do, I have an important question now that I am 49. And I'm watching all the guys I used to [inaudible 00:37:31] are slowly retiring and now I'm seeing their kids. And you know, it's always exciting to see, we look at genetics, right? The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Do you have any advice for the young ones out there that admire you and have a hero worship for you and want to grow up and play ball. Any advice for those young people?
Raul: I think again, to bring it full circle, I think it begins with a passion, and the drive, and the belief of what you think is possible if you always operate from a belief and a mindset that something is possible, you're going to treat it, you're going to practice, you're going to train, you're going to think of it in different terms than if you operate from a mindset that it's not possible anyway, so what's the point.
Raul: But I would say that you plan, if you wait 'til you're 30 to plan for 40, it's too late. So, I think that you begin at an early age, nutritionally, begin at an early age. Even with the young kids, you know, sugary drinks...you've seen all of my kids, or four out of five, Luka wasn't born yet. But you've seen four out of five, we did bloodwork for all of my kids, and it was life-changing, game-changing. These were game-changing events and life-changing events for each of them. My kids will still, not in a obsessive way, but they'll still look at the label on something. You know, they learned how to read labels early on in their life. And that I can directly attribute to you. They didn't love getting the bloodwork done, they love the needles part, but I think if you're an aspiring athlete, you have to understand the correlation between, it's more than just practice your craft. And it's more than just strength training.
I mean, there's, to take a martial arts type of mindset. When we were kids, it was Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee or Mohammed Ali, who would win in a fight? And now we know that any mixed martial artist, and the UFC, top 20 guy, will take down any of those icons, right? It's because they've taken in information, and they've taken in knowledge, and discipline from every aspect. So it's not enough anymore to just be an athlete, to just learn how to hit, run, throw, catch. It's the gym, it's the psychological component, learning how to breath properly. It's the nutritional component, learning how to eat properly. That's a discipline and a way of life and it's been proven that if you create good habits in one area, there's a trickle and cascading effect, that's it going to trickle down int he rest of the areas of your life.
So I think becoming open to everything, not just one thing and understanding the correlation that food has on your body, and the inflammatory markers that are detrimental to what you're doing. So, let's say you're a young aspiring athlete and you're training, and you're training three hours a day, and you're doing your thing and then you go and wash it down with fast food and you eat a pile of french fries, and you drink two sugary drinks. At the end of the day you just pretty much nullified everything that you did.
Dr. Pastore: Everything
Raul: So, making sure that you take the holistic approach and understand everything.
Dr. Pastore: Wow. Great advice Raul. Raul, my dear friend I can't thank you enough for spending time with me. You're such a wonderful human being. I wish you and the Dodgers organization continued success and again, thank you so much for being with me today.
Raul: Thank you Dr. Pastore.