Host: Welcome to the Lifelong Wellness podcast. I’m your host Wes Malik. Today's guest is Hitoshi Hirano, who is a world traveler and a director and filmmaker who is taking the art of direction of artists and applying that to coaching people in real-life situations. That's what will be talking about on today's podcast. Hitoshi, welcome to the show!
Hitoshi: Thank you, Wes.
Host: Let's start off with the first question I have for you. When you coach your clients what kind of methods do you use?
Hitoshi: So just to boil it down to a few words and sentences, I use my film directing experience and what that means is doing take after take after take. And I rely on my client’s instinct of how to improve a certain scene in their life. The first stage with the rush scene, the way it was when they were having problems with an argument with a customer or with their parents or whoever and just let them play it out as it was, and then I give it another shot, and they try to change it. If they struggled and I give them hints as a director and then we do it over and over again until they have the right answer on the gut instinct level. And then I just let them go back to their daily lives and try it out. If it works, then great, if it doesn't then come back and we do it again until they’re satisfied.
Host: As a world traveler and someone who currently lives in Russia you know is very focused on filmmaking and reviewing films, there's a common comment we hear that's “Life imitates art” or “Art could imitate life”. It's a discussion that a lot of people have. Kind of feels to me that you’re bringing art into people's lives or using the same methods that you're directing art to direct people's life in order for them to live a better and more well life and a healthier life. It's a very interesting concept. How did that occur to you? How did this come into your mind?
Hitoshi: I'll let the secret out. I didn’t create this method all by myself. A well-known life coach by the name of Alex Mandossian was my mentor. Based on my experience as a film director, he created this coaching method, shaped exactly for my own purpose. He developed this coaching method because he thought it was right for me and so I took it and I ran with it.
Host: As a filmmaker studying film, what films do you think that portray wellness and betterment? And what characters come to your mind from film that we can take inspiration from?
Hitoshi: I would say films that have to do with urban life, about people who are busy on the run. I think that working in offices. You know like for an instance, a good film to talk about is “When Harry Met Sally” for instance. Those kinds of films really portray modern people and the conflicts in our daily lives. I ideal clients, to you know, they identify with those kinds of characters.
Host: Do a lot of people identify with the characters they watch in movies?
Hitoshi: I don't really talk about that very much with my clients, no. They sometimes tell me their favorite films, but I don't really pursue that. For me, life is more interesting than the film. Life has much more affiliation to it than film does. The film is very controlled, manipulated whereas life has all kinds of subtleties, shades to it and so life is really much more interesting than film for me.
Host: How can we, ourselves, do something like this in terms of wellness, well-being, and trying to live healthier and better lives? Without a coach or of course with a coach, how can we take inspiration from art around us or films around us?
Hitoshi: Yes, of course, you can watch films and use that as a manual. Everybody has their own bent, their own preferences so I can't recommend any film that everybody has to watch. Everybody has to follow their own taste. On the other hand, you can't just copy somebody from the silver screen because it's artificial. You have to believe in your own instincts. Just live your life and feel what is right for you. I mean, you can't copy somebody else's life.
Host: In the pursuit of living a healthier life, I know personally you are very conscious of that and you lead a healthy life as well. My question is, what are you doing now to improve the quality of your life?
Hitoshi: Yes, I have had food allergies all my life and I can really take good care of myself and so those food allergies came back interventions. That's why I'm taking care of myself now, especially with my diet.
Host: Did you have these food allergies since you were a child or did they develop over time?
Hitoshi: Yes, I have them all since I was a child and that they haven't gone away. I had stubborn food allergies. Alston ever since.
Host: Tell us more about it. What kind of allergies? How did you first find out about them?
Hitoshi: I first found out about them when my mother took me for blood tests and pin pricking on my arms and then they find out which ones are severe and which ones are mild. And then they start giving these vaccinations, which didn't work. And so I just muddle along in life and ate whatever I wanted and then it just became worse and worse.
Host: How did it affect your life?
Hitoshi: Sometimes it makes me miserable because I have swells all over my body. My whole body sometimes turns red as a lobster and the itching is terrible.
Host: And now, what steps are you taking to control that or fix that?
Hitoshi: Eliminating all foods that cause allergies, sticking by this strict diet, and I have to keep at it until my symptoms go away and it will take months and months.
Host: A lot of people have gluten allergies, are allergic to certain types of food, nuts, peanuts, etc. It's getting more and more common. Is that something that you are affected by?
Hitoshi: I am affected by gluten, that's for sure. Yes. But what I understand from the natural care doctors is that if you stick by a strict diet and eliminate things like gluten, certain nuts, etc., and the allergy goes down, then you can start introducing gluten little by little but it will take time.
Host: You’re in the countryside of Hyderabad, India right now in a wellness retreat and that sounds very exotic. Tell us a little bit about it.
Hitoshi: I found out about this from another patient when I was in the United States and he is from Hyderabad and he told me about this wonderful beautiful place. It's full of flowers and shrubs and trees by a beautiful river and that is very affordable. And all you do is you just eat raw fruits and vegetables every day and you have these oil massages, mud therapy massages, and herbal baths every day and you just relax and take this diet. So everything is fresh but there isn’t a lot of diversity in the food because we were trying to heal our diseases and we don't want to be extravagant.
Host: What is the normal daily diet at this Wellness Center consists of?
Hitoshi: In the morning we have fruits like melons, watermelon. Each patient is different depending on their ailments but some people have cooked chickpeas with sprouts that carried some things like that. Other people are strictly raw fruits and then during lunch, we have skewered vegetables as well as raw fruits. Just add some spices and it's mildly spicy but they don't add any salt and any oil at all, which is very different from what you usually have.
Host: That's what I love about India, they are really into their food. They’re really into it.
Hitoshi: They are. There a lot of regional variation. It’s a joy to try each region’s different cuisines. They have really beautifully landscaped area full of gardens, flowers, and trees. They are just by the river so there's a breeze and it's very reasonable. It's like $10 or $15 a day, including everything. That's why I encourage everybody to try. There’s nothing to lose.
Host: It’s incredible! And it sounds like you're having a very good time there. And is helping you out? Is it helping your allergies and your health?
Hitoshi: I forgot to mention one thing and they encourage fasting. I went through a 21-day honey water fasting. That means every day only honey water and pure water throughout the day.
Host: Did you eat anything?
Hitoshi: During that 21 days I ate nothing. I just had that honey water plus massive doses of water.
Host: How did you feel during that?
Hitoshi: I didn't feel weak or dizzy until the very 20th day or so. I felt pretty energetic, actually. It was not a big issue. I didn't suffer or anything like that.
Host: Did you exercise?
Hitoshi: I did walk around a lot. It's a big territory so you get to walk around and admire all the flowers and shrubs and the riverside. It's a very relaxing place. And the big plus is that I lost a lot of weight.
Host: It’s fantastic! How much weight did you lose?
Hitoshi: I think I lost around 10 kg.
Host: Wow! That is fantastic! You look in great shape as it is. Our audience won’t be able to see that but you look great right now. You look very fresh, you look fantastic and I'm sure that the resort or the retreat is doing wonders for you. You have been traveling and living in many different parts of the world and you've interacted with many different people. You grew up in the States, you were born here and moved to Japan when you are very young, and the Japanese society and the community there. The eating habits are different, the lifestyle is different and they live very long lives there and it’s attributed to their diet. And then now you moved to Russia where you studied Russian studies and filmmaking and that's where you live and they also have a different lifestyle. So you have been exposed to many different cultures and many different ways that they approach wellness and healthy living. And I was hoping we could start one by one, starting with Japan. What you learn there and how people are there.
Hitoshi: Alright, the big plus about the Japanese is that they don't eat a lot of sugar or fat, compared to North Americans. They (Japanese people) weigh less sugar and weigh less greasy stuff. So that's a plus, but then they use tons of soy sauce and everything so they have a very high salt intake. That kind of cancel each of the healthy options away.
Host: So they have a good and the bad both. High sodium content not very good for your blood pressure, of course. But they eat a lot of fish, a lot of rice.
Hitoshi: That’s right and the quality standard of fish is very high in Japan. They don't eat frozen fish there and the raw fish is very fresh.
Host: That is very healthy and good cholesterol and it's got great fat and great vitamins and minerals for your body. That's why they live longer. And moving to Russia, what's the kind of diet or lifestyle that people have there?
Hitoshi: The traditional, typical diet is not good for the body. It’s high in fats, like high red meat. Since winter is long, they don't eat a lot of fresh vegetables until recently, but they eat a lot of pickled vegetables.
Host: When you are living in these different places all over the world, did you adapt to the way they lived or did you continue your own type of lifestyle or type of eating and activities?
Hitoshi: I always tried to be varied. I have a little bit of Japanese-specific type of food, a little bit of American type of food, and a little bit of the local food like the Russian food. I dabble in everything.
Host: What do you think is the healthiest culture in the world?
Hitoshi: Well, probably like the Okinawans, for instance. Or like in the North American vegan is very popular nowadays and that’s very good for their health, too. The thing is that your food has to come from the soil without any fertilizers. I think that is the key to having a good diet.
Host: So organic?
Hitoshi: That's right.
Host: What are your health tips for our audience, of course, you have experience with allergies and you have experience of different cultures, you coach people on how to live a healthier life through your directing abilities. What are your tips for our audience?
Hitoshi: Like for an instance Japanese have a diet that is appropriate for them, Europeans for them a different diet. Some races cannot have yogurt or milk. Like in Southeast Asia, a lot of people cannot assimilate yogurt or milk or cheese because they never had cows in their culture so they get diarrhea or something if they eat cheese or milk. One thing is you have to control your stress level because that's a major factor in creating illness. Another thing is to look at the labels of what you buy at the store because most food nowadays is loaded with chemicals. If at all possible, go to a health food store and buy the things that are organic that don't include chemicals in the food. I think those two things are the most crucial things anybody in North America should heed attention to.
Host: Staying away from processed food, I guess, and things that come in packages, right?
Hitoshi: That's right, like corn sugar or glyphosate. It’s almost impossible to have glyphosate nowadays, but if at all possible try to be aware of those things when you purchase things in the store.
Host: Hitoshi, you touched on a very good point. Our lives a very fast-paced; work, children, you know after-work activities, family. It can cause stress and a lot of people suffer from ailments because of stress. How do you coach your clients? What advice do you give them if they’re experiencing things like that?
Hitoshi: You see the reason why I asked them to go through their scenes in life is so that they can slow down and become conscious of what they are doing. Because their lives are so fast-paced that they don't give a second thought about what they're doing. They’re on like autopilot. So what I want them to do is think about each moment in their lives, what they're doing, and reflect on it. And if they can reflect on it, they can correct themselves and then behave better towards other people and feel better inside. That's why I'm doing this coaching.
Host: How long you been coaching people like this?
Hitoshi: Almost a year so far. So I’m still a novice.
Host: Is it people in Russia or worldwide? What is the process?
Hitoshi: I would say the majority are from North America and some Europeans that speak good English.
Host: And if we want to get in touch with you, how can we get in touch with you?
Hitoshi: Go to my site. It is https://www.hollywoodcoachingmethod.com/.
Host: You’re also on Facebook?
Hitoshi: I'm also on Facebook. I have a Hollywood Coaching Method Facebook page as well. I show scenes from films about couples, about relationships and how that can aid you in solving your problems. I mentioned, I introduce films that might be of practical for people to watch and learn from as well as I take excerpts from health magazines and publish them so that people can use that as a reference as well.
Host: Is there a relation between living healthier and living well and the relationships that we have with other people around us?
Hitoshi: I think so. I think people who are happy in their lives have great relationships. They probably tend to not sit in front of the TV set all day, and they’re active and they enjoy their jobs, and they don't use food as a substitute. They don’t eat junk foods because they’re miserable. This I think is all interconnected.
Host: Do you see a lot of that when you coach people?
Hitoshi: There are some people. Everybody's different. Not everybody pinches on food or TV or the internet but everybody has their own specific problems. That's why I can't broadly categorize that.
Host: I love to be on junk food when I’m feeling. I won't say what I'm feeling when I'm feeling. I love to be on junk food, though. It’s one of my huge weaknesses. I think it's a common thing amongst a lot of people. I think I’m not the only one?
Hitoshi: Yes, you are right. A lot of people use it because they are feeling empty inside or because they’re feeling stressed. I tried to direct people to understand that they're doing it unconsciously and take action.
Host: How do we take action on it?
Hitoshi: My version is that think of the consequences. Do you want to go on with your life pinching on food and face the consequences? Or do you want to change it so that your consequences will be more bright rather than ending up in the hospital?
Host: Tell us about your work. Are you still actively making films or are you working on a project?
Hitoshi: Yes, I’m working on a project now. I've been invited to do a video film in Sardinia. It's an island off the coast of Italy and I'm going to be dealing with people that live over 100 years old there.
Host: Really? What an interesting subject.
Hitoshi: It’s one of the blue zones.
Host: And what is a blue zone?
Hitoshi: A blue zone is a term that a New York Times writer thought up about the five major areas around the world where people live over 100 years old. There are five blue zones, one in Okinawa, one in Sardinia, one in Caria in Greece, one in California (a Mormon community), and one in Costa Rica. I’m interested in blue zones and I want to do a video film about one of the blue zones and that's Sardinia.
Host: That is so interesting. So you’re going to be interviewing and talking to those people?
Hitoshi: Exactly and I'm going to be creating a drama story out of that.
Host: The concept of the blue zones is highly intriguing and I'm sure you learn a lot. I think we should talk to you once your project is done and talk about your findings, actually. I think it would be a great follow-up to this interview.
Hitoshi: Yes, I would love you to watch the film before our interview. I would love to send you the film. The project is just at its inception point. I want to be spending about three months just living with the people and interviewing them and they come with a story.
Host: What a great life you lead. You get to visit exotic places, meet so many people and learn along the way and discover different things. It’s fantastic, very very exciting.
Hitoshi: Yes, that's why I never want to work in an office from 9 to 5 because that would constrict my movement, my lifestyle too much. So I chose my freedom.
Host: Okay, well I wish you the best of health in Hyderabad in India. I hope the rest of your trip goes very well there.
Hitoshi: Well thank you very much. I am enjoying my stay here and I do encourage people to find out about this place because as I say is very affordable and is relaxing. One of the major things that they treat here is obesity. If they just want to shed their weight without really trying hard then this is a great place to do it and it's easy on the wallet as well.
Host: That's very important. Mister Hitoshi Hirano, thank you so much for spending time with us on the Lifelong Wellness podcast. It was an absolute pleasure talking to you.
Hitoshi: It was an absolute pleasure for me too, Wes.