Best Future You – Introduction Part 1

Dr. Shawn Talbott (Ph.D., CNS, LDN, FACSM, FACN, FAIS) has gone from triathlon struggler to gut-brain guru! With a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry, he's on a mission to boost everyday human performance through the power of natural solutions and the gut-brain axis.

My 13th book, Best Future You, will be released on Feb 1!

Until then, I’m keeping the price at $3.49 – less than the cost of a grande latte! (it’s also FREE if you’re a Kindle Unlimited member)…after that, the price goes up to $9.99 – so get it now!

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be blogging frequently about the main concept in the book – which is the idea of harnessing your body’s internal cellular biochemistry to achieve true balance in body, mind, and spirit – and in doing so, help you to become your “Best Future You” in terms of how you look, how you feel, and how you perform on every level.


Even though the title of this book is Best Future You – and its overall theme is to help you achieve your ultimate peak of health, vitality, and mental/physical performance, this book is really about how to achieve all that through balance. The one common theme that runs through every concept and each chapter is the idea that maintaining balance, specifically biochemical balance, in our body, mind, and spirit is the secret to feeling our best, looking our best, and performing our best. Unfortunately, this is not at all what we see in most of the popular “self-help” and health-improvement programs these days. In fact, most popular programs are the antithesis of balance because they focus on the complete exclusion of entire food groups (e.g. carbs or grains or meat or fat or gluten or whatever) – or the imperative that you “must” include one certain magical “superfood” that has miraculous medicinal properties. What these misguided approaches fail to understand, is that such limited approaches deliver limited results (and limited benefits for you). In contrast, Best Future You takes a more comprehensive approach, to focus on a holistic approach to reducing cellular stress, restoring both physiological strength and psychological vigor, and thus improving how we feel, look, and perform on every parameter imaginable.

Being “out” of balance is a type of stress, specifically a state of cellular stress that leads to dysfunction and eventually to disease. The list of stressors that cause biochemical imbalance and cellular stress is a long one – covered in detail in Chapter 1 – and chances are good that you’re exposed to many of them on a daily basis.

As a lifestyle expert trained in the Western scientific disciplines of exercise physiology and nutritional biochemistry – as well as being a student of the Eastern concepts of Qi from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Prana from Indian (Ayurvedic) medicine, my idea of “balance” is quite a bit different than the standard definition. For many of my colleagues, and especially among writers of popular health books, the idea of balance refers to an inexact and imprecise concept of eating better and exercising more – which is not very helpful for readers who are trying to improve themselves. Instead, my idea of balance is very precise and very focused on the concept of maintaining biochemical balance between myriad hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters, and signaling molecules that course through our blood and brain and all parts of our body on a second-by-second basis. These molecules are responsible for one of my favorite sayings that, “biochemistry drives behaviors” which describes how our feelings of energy (or fatigue), or happiness (or depression), or mental clarity (or brain fog), or even feelings of success and achievement (or failure and defeat) are driven in large part by positive or negative changes in our underlying biochemistry.

I’ve been studying how to help people “feel/look/perform their best” for my entire career – more than 20 years now. As early as my first days of high school, I can remember being interested in the relationships between what we eat, how we look, and how we feel – even before I really understood that there were branches of science that studied these areas (nutrition, physiology, psychology, etc). Being interested in health and human performance led me to pursue undergraduate degrees in both sports medicine (BS) and fitness management (BA). While in college at a small liberal arts school (Marietta College in Ohio), I tried my hand at a sport that was completely new to me – rowing, also known as crew. I had no idea what I was getting myself into as a member of the novice crew team, much of which was already populated by rowers with years of prep-school crew experience. My first few weeks of rowing were miserable – I didn’t know how to properly hold an oar or balance a boat (called a crew shell) – so I got yelled at a lot by the coxswain (the person who steers the shell, guides the oarsmen, and commands the crew). Over time, and with the support and guidance of experienced rowers and patient coaches, I gradually learned both the proper technique of rowing and the important fact that being successful in crew hinges on a combination of hard individual work and coordinated teamwork. Thinking back to those four years as a collegiate rower, I’m convinced that my crew coaches are responsible for the way that I “coach” my readers and lecture audiences to harness scientific information for their own improvement. From my inauspicious beginnings, as a freshman who had never even seen a crew shell, I progressed steadily to become a member of a multi-championship boat, 2-time captain of my collegiate team, and member of the United States National Rowing Team.

After college and my short stint on the national team, I decided to study exercise physiology and human performance at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, while paying my tuition as the coach of the novice rowing team (Go Minutemen!). Being a crew coach was one of my most personally and professionally satisfying experiences, because it allowed me to impart my knowledge to help a group of young men and women to improve themselves beyond their expectations (exactly what I learned from my own crew coaches). My experience with the national team made me realize that there were plenty of better rowers than me, so needing a new exercise endeavor, I started riding as part of the UMASS Cycling Team. As a cyclist, I experienced the same steep learning curve, where I was initially terrible and was frequently “dropped” (left behind) by the group of experienced and talented collegiate cyclists. Eventually, I gained enough experience with team tactics, race strategy, and riding in a group at 30+ mph, to be invited to be part of a cycling development program at the US Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, NY. Once again, I was able to rely on the guidance and advice of far more experienced cyclists and dedicated coaches to teach me how to improve my skills as a cyclist. As part of this elite group of cyclists, I realized as I did with rowing a few years prior, that there were plenty of riders with vastly superior cycling skills compared to mine. As such, after a couple of years as a dedicated cyclist, I decided to switch my sports focus again to a new and rapidly growing sport – triathlon (swim, bike, run).

Right around the same time, I graduated from UMASS with a master’s degree in exercise physiology and took a job with a corporate wellness company. In this new role, I split my time between developing multi-million dollar corporate wellness programs for Fortune 500 companies and training for triathlons (eventually holding a professional license and getting trounced by some of the top triathletes in the world at the time, including a young Lance Armstrong). I loved designing corporate wellness programs and helping thousands of people become healthier and live fuller lives – and I enjoyed even more making myself a guinea pig for different training regimens and racing strategies that I would experiment with on the professional triathlon circuit. However, after several years in both of these roles, corporate wellness and professional triathlon, I felt that something was missing in my knowledge base, so I decided to go back to school to study nutrition.

I studied nutritional biochemistry at Rutgers University, where my work was funded by competitive research grants from the American College of Sports Medicine, American Institute of Nutrition, Reebok, LifeFitness, and a variety of other public and private scientific grants. Studying the biochemistry of the body enabled me to delve into the “how and why” that various lifestyle interventions exerted their effects (including diet, exercise, stress management, and many others). For example, what molecules in the body are responsible for muscle growth, or bone loss, or appetite, or athletic performance, or energy levels, or any of the other aspects of health that we might be concerned with? Now I felt that I finally had the tools to help people get better from the inside out – right down to the cellular, molecular, and biochemical level.

Upon completing my PhD, I now had a broad educational background and lots of ideas that spanned many aspects of health (sports medicine, fitness management, exercise physiology, and now nutritional biochemistry), but I also had a burning desire to “build something” that could help people to harness some of these ideas and easily include them in their lives.  This led me to a career in product development, starting with “functional foods” at Nabisco Foods and spanning nearly 20 years with many different international companies and academic institutions to my current passion running my own boutique product development company (EQQIL, Inc.) with a range of “balancing” products in circulation with companies around the world.

As a product developer, I need to understand not only the scientific aspects of particular ingredients and formulas, but also the business and market implications, such as cost, profit margins, marketability, and many others. This led me to study business, innovation, and entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where over several years, I completed both the Entrepreneurial Masters Program and the Advanced Certificate for Executives in Management, Innovation, and Technology ACE in MIT). Studying entrepreneurship after so many years of studying science enabled me to understand one very important fact – that being that “science” can’t help anyone unless it reaches the market in a way that people can easily plug into their lives.

Across those years, I’ve started and sold several different health-focused companies; developed a range of top-selling products (foods, supplements, and cosmetics) and programs (exercise, weight loss, and wellness); written and edited hundreds of articles and books; and given dozens of scientific presentations all over the world. I’ve been fortunate to help educate a wide range of elite-level coaches and athletes in a variety of sports, including at the US Olympic Training Centers (middle and long-distance runners as part of the US Track & Field Association’s Performance Enhancement Team); the US Ski and Snowboard Team (during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games); professional basketball (NBA – Utah Jazz); professional soccer (MLS – Real Salt Lake); and international sports organizations in Canada, England, and Singapore. The scientific conferences are fun and interesting because they contribute new knowledge to the world, but it’s the products and programs that I’m most proud of because they can actually help real people to exert positive change in their lives.

None of this could have been possible without me being exposed over the years to a series of dedicated and inspiring coaches and mentors, as well as a natural curiosity about perfecting the coordination of body, mind, and spirit to help us achieve our best. This is what I hope Best Future You can be for you – a virtual coach to guide your curiosity and help you become the best future version of yourself.

Aside from my intellectual and business reasons for doing the kind of work that I do, I have a very personal reason for my work and for writing this book (my twelfth). I want to be always be striving to be the best version of myself. This means that I’m a better student and teacher, that I have a better outlook on life, that I have more stamina and resilience to stress, that I’m a better athlete, a better husband, and a better father. You get the idea – a better (future) version of my current (present) self. The whole idea of this book is to help you become your “best future you” – the best version of yourself. You might be interested in something like that because the best version of yourself might be more energetic or focused or happier than you are now (you’d feel better) – or you might have a complexion that is more youthful and radiant or a slim and toned physique (you’d look better) – or you might become leaner, stronger, and confident (you’d perform better).

Thanks for reading – tune in next time for another installment…

Shawn M Talbott, PhD, CNS, LDN, FACSM, FAIS, FACN
Nutritional Biochemist and Author


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The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance, and Reclaim Your Natural Energy
Killer at Large – Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat – an award-winning documentary film exploring the causes and solutions underlying the American obesity epidemic
The Cortisol Connection – Why Stress Makes You Fat and Ruins Your Health (Hunter House)
The Cortisol Connection Diet – The Breakthrough Program to Control Stress and Lose Weight (Hunter House)
Cortisol Control and the Beauty Connection – The All-Natural Inside-Out Approach to Reversing Wrinkles, Preventing Acne, And Improving Skin Tone (Hunter House)
Natural Solutions for Pain-Free Living – Lasting Relief for Flexible Joints, Strong Bones and Ache-Free Muscles (Chronicle Publishers – Currant Books)
The Immune Miracle – The All-Natural Approach for Better Health, Increased Energy and Improved Mood (GLH Nutrition, 2012)
A Guide to Understanding Dietary Supplements – an Outstanding Academic Text of 2004 (Haworth Press)
About the Author

Exercise physiologist (MS, UMass Amherst) and Nutritional Biochemist (PhD, Rutgers) who studies how lifestyle influences our biochemistry, psychology and behavior - which kind of makes me a "Psycho-Nutritionist"?!?!

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