Living

Strengthen your body, strengthen your mind, says body-building neurosurgeon

Dr. Brett Osborn is tired.

Not physically tired, mind you.

After all, this bodybuilding neurosurgeon takes his conditioning as seriously as anyone you’ll ever meet. Thus, he’s never wanting for energy.

No, what the muscular 44-year-old doctor from West Palm Beach says he’s tired of “is all the misinformation that is out there about health and fitness.”

This misinformation includes, but is not limited to:

• The real causes of preventable diseases.



• Slowing down the aging process.



•  How what you ingest affects you on a cellular level.



• The best exercise- and science-based ways to transform your physique and health.



•  The brain-body connection.



So Osborn did something about it: “For the past decade, I’ve been writing down everything I thought the general public needs to know — but doesn’t.”

The project culminated earlier this year with the publication of Get Serious: A Neurosurgeon’s Guide to Optimal Health and Fitness.

In his entertaining, authoritative style, Osborn breaks down his vast science-based knowledge of exercise, nutrition, dietary supplements, genetics, hormones, aging, disease, the brain and more.

“I wanted it to be a coffee table book on health that people refer back to throughout their lives,” he says.

LIFELONG ‘EXTREME’ ATHLETE

A South Florida native whose father was a chiropractor, Osborn has always been fascinated by how the human body worked.

And by pushing its limits.

“I was the kid who was always skateboarding, dirt-biking, climbing and doing other daredevil-type things,” he recalls of his youth in North Miami and Hollywood.

Having mastered barefoot water skiing in childhood, Osborn says, “Every year as a kid I’d ask my parents: ‘Can I get a motorcycle this year?’ ’’

While others might view these kinds of challenging pastimes as unnecessarily risky, for the 5-foot, 7-inch divorced father of three, “Testing myself physically and mentally is how I relax.”

In fact, one of the tenets in Get Serious is the need to constantly engage oneself in physical activity because doing so actually promotes brain health. As Osborn explains, with each new physically challenging endeavor, new neural connections are formed.

That’s why he sees no irony in commuting from the Wellington house he shares with his girlfriend and their 2-year-old daughter Makenna to any number of local hospitals — where he’s an on-call trauma neurosurgeon — via his cherished Honda two-wheeler.

DRAWN TO BODYBUILDING

When Osborn discovered weight-training as a high schooler, he took to it immediately.

“As I gained more understanding of how weightlifting and resistance-training affected both my physique and physiology, I used it to maximize my abilities in other areas,” he explains.

Again, the brain-body connection was, and remains, always at the fore.

It’s what has enabled him to expertly operate on thousands of brains and spines.

It also spurred him to to earn a secondary certification in anti-aging and regenerative medicine (A4M).

“That’s a sub-specialty of my neurosurgery,” Osborn explains. “But, when practiced by a properly trained physician who understands all of the science — and isn’t trying to ‘sell’ anything — it can be tremendously beneficial to certain patients.”

In other words, under the right clinical conditions — that is, if both lab testing and real-life symptoms warrant it — Osborn advocates the judicious use of bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

“Right now, the only way medical science can slow down the internal aging process is with exogenous agents,” Osborn explains.

But, in the next breath, he cautions anyone considering HRT “to be extremely careful about choosing a doctor who has expertise and experience in this field.”

So, how important is optimal hormonal balance to one’s overall well-being? “I check my own hormone levels every six weeks,” Osborn notes.

PRACTICING WHAT HE PREACHES

As one book reviewer wrote of Osborn, he’s “a walking billboard for his own program.”

Not to mention, time management.

Osborn awakes long before sunrise to get in his daily strength and/or endurance workout. While these sessions are not exceptionally long — “Overtraining defeats the purpose,” he explains — they are always intense.

At least two or three times a week, he’ll also make the 100-mile round trip down to North Miami to spend time with his two sons (Jack and Ellis) from his first marriage.

But he’s not trying to “convert” anyone to his approach to health and fitness.

Rather, he simply wants the correct information out there — so people can do with it what they will.

He recently appeared on the Today show to provide insight into recently released studies that suggest regular exercise is linked to a reduced risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.

“Just more confirmation of what we’d long suspected,” Osborn notes.

Always in search of new challenges, in October Osborn will attend the Extreme SEAL Experience in Chesapeake, Virginia. It’s a week-long civilian training camp run by retired U.S. Navy SEALS.

The program promises attendees,“No matter your age, we’ll push you 10 times farther than you think you can go.”

Sounds like the ideal way for a man like Osborn to unwind.

Osborn’s take on aging well

“Get Serious” about your health with Dr. Brett Osborn

Available at either amazon.com or drbrettosborn.com.

On healthcare in the United States: “Our current health care system fosters disease, not health.”

On the causes of disease: “All diseases have an inflammatory component.”

On stimulating genetic responses: “Genes are capable of being turned on and off like switches in response to various environmental stimuli.”

On the benefits of weight-training: “Activated, contracting muscles are the body’s furnaces.”

On diseases of aging: “Chronic exposure to excess free radicals (oxidation) and inflammation causes age-related disease.”

His six pillars of strength-training: Squats, overhead press, deadlift, bench press, pull-ups, chin-ups.

On protecting brain health: “The acquisition of a skill slows brain aging.”

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