Finding it hard to be the most authentic version of yourself? Maybe family, friends, and everyone you love thinks you’re crazy to want to change? Are you interested in learning about the dangers of dogma, cults, and believing anything too strongly? Welcome, today’s episode is for you!

Sergei Boutenko has gone through a unique journey, from being a devoted and famous raw food vegan for more than half his life, to finally deciding to incorporate meat into his diet. In this episode, Sergei discusses that more than twenty two year journey and the reasons that led him to his current lifestyle. He also explains the benefits he has experienced from eating meat and how it has changed his life for the better.

Don’t miss this exciting episode of the We Are Already Free podcast to hear Sergei’s story and get inspired to change the things that are no longer serving you. As Sergei says later in this episode, “A brutal identity shift and receiving lots of hate is worth it because I’m here for the truth”

Some of the topics we cover are

  • Why green smoothies is still the best takeaway Sergei had from his raw vegan upbringing
  • How wild edibles helped Sergei to eat meat
  • The powerful lesson Sergei learned while living with David Wolfe
  • Why it’s so important that we choose challenges regularly
  • Near the end, the surprisingly simple thing Sergei recommends to live a good life
  • As always, there’s much more. We touch on names, which is a topic I want to dive much deeper into in a future episode.

Links to Sergei

More links and things discussed in this episode

  • From growing up in a famous raw vegan family to eating meat and feeling way better
  • Why the standard american -and global- diet is terrible
  • Ignoring the early signs of raw vegan health issues
  • Intuitive signs that we’re meant to eat all kinds of food
  • Why we all have to find what works for us
  • The lesson he learned while living with David Wolfe
  • On spending time with a blue zones Siberian tribe
  • Civilized to death – book by Christopher Ryan
  • Shameful cravings for meat as a raw vegan (dreams of biting cows)
  • Turning in to wolverine eating meat for the first time in 22 year
  • On the liver king and why that was triggering for him
  • Vulnerable sharing on estrangement from family, especially sisters
  • The madness of fighting over breadcrumbs instead of creating abundance together
  • World War 2 in colour on Youtube
  • I want abs: Sergio’s video on youtube
  • Why we need to do difficult things
  • Shaun ‘The Viking’ Zimmer’s IG video with kids in the ice bath
  • Andrew huberman’s cold immersion episode
  • We get nerdy about kettlebells

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[00:00:07.130] - Nathan Maingard

Welcome to we are already free. The podcast helping DownToEarth seekers and free people to live their truth and be the change. Connect with diverse guests who share stories of how they find freedom on their own terms, providing you with inspiration and practical direction. Have you noticed that fighting against what you don't want only creates more of it, while leaving you too exhausted to focus on the things you actually care about? Are you ready to grow a more beautiful world? If so, welcome home. This podcast is for you. Do you ever struggle to transform into the more authentic or most authentic version of yourself? Maybe family, friends, and everyone you love thinks you're crazy? Are you interested in learning about the dangers of dogma cults and believing anything too strongly? Today's episode is a good one for you, then. Sergey Botanko has gone through a unique journey from being a devoted and pretty famous raw food vegan for more than half his life to finally deciding to incorporate meat back into his diet. In this episode, Sergey discusses that more than 22 year journey and the reasons that led him to his current lifestyle. He also explains the benefits he has experienced from eating meat and how it has changed his life for the better.

[00:01:28.890] - Nathan Maingard

Don't miss this exciting episode of the We Are Already Free podcast to hear Sergey's story and get inspired to transform the things that are no longer serving you, no matter who else thinks that's a good idea or not. As Sergey says later on in this episode, a brutal identity shift and receiving lots of hate is worth it because I'm here for the truth. Some of the topics that we cover are why green smoothies is still the best takeaway Sergey had from his raw vegan upbringing. How wild edibles helped Sergey to eat meat. The powerful lesson Sergey learned while living with David Wolf. Why it's so important that we choose challenging experiences regularly. And near the end, the surprisingly simple thing Sergey recommends to live a good life. As always, there is heaps more in here. We touch on the importance of names, which is a topic I want to dive much deeper into in a future episode. I'm your host, Nathan Maingard, and my name simply means gift. As a highly sensitive person in an insensitive society, I was very nearly crushed trying to fit the mold that our society just calls being a good citizen.

[00:02:39.870] - Nathan Maingard

Now I help others like me to embody their true selves through this podcast inner life skills, coaching breathwork eyespowers, and creating empowering songs, stories, and poems. This podcast takes many hours of loving labor every week. Please consider becoming a patreon supporter. To energize this work, directly access an exclusive video recording of this very episode. Get bonus conversations with podcast guests. Even get a shout out on the podcast. Connect with a global community of like minded people, enjoy unreleased poems and songs, and much more than anything, when you pledge, you are directly manifesting more of what you love in the world. Thank you for being one of those who energizes this simple message. We are already free. Go to the show notes for the Patreon link as well as links to Sergey Botenko and more info about the things we discuss in this episode. All that and more is at alreadyfree me 24. That's just the numbers, 24. And now please enjoy this entirely uninterrupted community funded conversation with Sergey Batenko. Well, thanks, first of all for coming on, man. I mean, it's just so nice to be connected with you and really appreciate having you here.

[00:03:54.030] - Nathan Maingard

So thank you for being up so early over there.

[00:03:56.730] - Sergei Boutenko

Thanks for giving me the invite. It's been a number of years since I've been on any podcasts. My own doing, I'm sure. And kudos to you right out the gate because I listened to a couple of episodes. I love the title, I love the name, and you just have a good vibe. So I was like, how could I not do it?

[00:04:13.950] - Nathan Maingard

Thanks very much. That means a lot. So I have a well, it's not a guilty admission, but it is an admission, is that I've kind of been like a fan of your family for a really long time because back in Cheese, it would have been 2008 now, I think. I I started working for some, some people who are running a raw food superfood company in South Africa and they're still very good friends of mine today. But at some point I came across the book, I think it was Twelve Steps to Raw Food or something like that. Yeah. And I remember the story of your parents and how you were all struggling with these kind of illnesses that were inexplicable by sort of modern medicines standards. And then your parents supported you guys in healing, through eating, going like, basically raw vegan. And at the time I was like, this is the way, this is the light. This is what I'm going to do. And it kind of just didn't really work that well for very long. It was initially like, oh, this feels kind of cool, but pretty quickly started to descend into, this doesn't feel cool at all.

[00:05:20.520] - Nathan Maingard

And now where I am right now is I eat a lot of meat, I prioritize animal products, actually, because it just feels so good and tastes so good and I just enjoy it so much. So I would love to hear that's. Like a brief intro to how I am connected with your family and still just so appreciative of the stories your mom told around how she putting little signs on the back of the door to educate you guys. And just a little method she used to kind of try to support her whole family in being well. So I'd love to hear, if you don't mind, sharing a sort of story of from, I don't know, whatever comes up to you around that, like, what it felt like to grow up and heal at a very young age from some pretty naughty stuff. And then what's? Where you're at now and how that move happened, I'd love to tell you.

[00:06:04.520] - Sergei Boutenko

Excuse me, I have something in my throat this morning.

[00:06:07.750] - Nathan Maingard

Eat the frog.

[00:06:08.770] - Sergei Boutenko

So I'm gonna preface all this by saying that I no longer eat exclusively raw food. I don't think it's a surprise to anybody. I also eat meat. I also feel better now. And, you know, I've spent the last 15 or so years, ten or so years. I should really go back and do the math, but I'm trying to figure out exactly what my upbringing was. Maybe it's a coming of age, midlife crisis type of thing, but half the time I'm like, wow, I grew up in a raw food cult. And the other half the time, I was like, I was fighting the system and healthily disenfranchised and the jury is still out. I don't really know. I think modern diet, the standard American diet, the standard world diet, failed us. It failed every member of my family. It fails millions of people daily. And I think where the raw food movement came in is like, oh, this doesn't work. Let's go to the exact opposite extreme right? And for a while it works great because you start not eating all the crap, no junk food. Your food is full of enzymes and all kinds of phytochemicals and stuff, but then you get stuck in the dogma.

[00:07:22.260] - Sergei Boutenko

We got stuck in the dogma. I got stuck in the dogma. And then you start blasting through those signs of less than perfect health teeth problems. There's a whole slew of them, candida, all kinds of different things. And so as an adult, I'm nearly 40 now. I just turned 38. I'm just kind of weeding through it and just figuring out what's what. Did raw food work because we're all meant to eat raw food? Or did raw food work because we cut out all the garbage and ate cleaner food? That's kind of where life is pointing me. That being said, I had a wonderful upbringing. I've probably met I don't know how many people, hundreds of thousands of people, let's say, because we toured around in vans, trucks, cars, planes, automobiles for over 20 years. And we would constantly meet people at classes. Anywhere between 50 to 150 people seem to be the norm, sometimes as big as 3000. So I got to meet a lot of people. I got to get exposed to a lot of different things. And I also got to see where mainstream stuff doesn't always lead people to happiness, to thriving, to success.

[00:08:30.960] - Sergei Boutenko

And so was that too short? Was that too general? You can definitely keep prying. I'm not trying to be secretive.

[00:08:38.770] - Nathan Maingard

No, man, it's all good. So at what point because the thing I remember was that initially it was lots of fruit. I was like fruitarian, basically. Like, lots of fruit. And I know this is a long time ago in your timeline.

[00:08:50.310] - Sergei Boutenko

No, it wasn't ever fruitarianism. We did try a lot of different things, but the approach that we ultimately ended up taking was lots of fruits, greens, nuts, seeds, and grains, which then morphed into less heavy hit on the greens. And we try to eat as balanced of a diet as we could within the realm of raw food.

[00:09:13.710] - Nathan Maingard

Well, I'm curious about that, because the thing that I remember reading about was that green smoothies was the key to the whole thing that became like, this is the secret to longevity. And I was super into smoothies at one point. I was making smoothies constantly, and I don't know, I just eventually kind of got over it. And I just wonder, what do you think about the green smoothies now? And is that still something that you recommend as a part of a whole diet, or how does that feel?

[00:09:40.250] - Sergei Boutenko

Absolutely. I think the biggest, best takeaway that my mom kind of delivered to the world was green smoothies just through her research connecting the diets of chimpanzees and human diets. I think really that's kind of where the key lies, because greens, wild, edible greens, they're all very nutrient dense. They're readily available throughout most parts of the world most times of the year, and they're vitamins and superfoods. And so I still drink green smoothies regularly. I have a couple of green smoothie challenges on YouTube for those that care to try them, and the results speak for themselves. People benefit immensely. Now, where people go wrong is they also try and be too perfect too quickly. So we've seen all kinds of things of people only making smoothies with kale for a year. When you do that every single day for a year, that's not healthy. Your body is meant to eat more diverse. Kale doesn't grow all year round. So if we were just living off the land, living off seasons, we would eat kale while it was in season, let's say nine months of the year, but then we would be forced to take a break.

[00:10:48.800] - Sergei Boutenko

But because we shop in stores and kale gets delivered there from South America or wherever it's currently in season, we tend to eat the kale. And then those micronutrients and trace amount of toxins can accumulate in our body, and small problems can ensue. The reason smoothies kind of aren't as popular anymore is, I think, because everything's cyclical. And it was a fad. People trended that way. They really did that for 15 or so years. And now there's other fads. Right now, the vegans are fighting the carnivores, as you know, probably you're well aware, and there's all kinds of other things that people are doing. But every time I return to smoothies, I only see positive benefits. And speaking for myself as well as other people, this is 50 or so retreats talking. I've just seen some miraculous things. I've seen people normalize their blood sugar in a week despite every doctor in their world telling them that that's impossible.

[00:11:52.930] - Nathan Maingard

Beautiful. So this is very interesting to me because I'm following people like Carnivore MD and I don't know all the other people who are. The big thing is around greens and oxalates. So I'm just curious to hear how does that fit in? Like the idea being that greens don't really want to be eaten and so they have defenses in place to stop that from happening too much?

[00:12:19.130] - Sergei Boutenko

That's a very good question and I'm not going to pretend to know the answer if I learned anything in my raw food journey and health food journeys that we're all still figuring out how to eat and what the best food is. And it gets exponentially more complicated because we all live on different continents and have different makeups from our history, our ancestors. And so I don't claim to know all the answers. I don't think I ever did. But just in case there's any confusion, I'm going to say it now on your podcast. I don't claim to know everything. Honestly right now what I'm thinking about a lot is wild edibles. And just kind of in a funny way, wild edibles helped me to eat meat, if you can believe that. My thoughts are still kind of a little segmented here, so you'll have to bear with me. But when I started observing nature more through wild edibles, I started noticing some inconsistencies. Like, for example, I know that greens are really nutritious in all kinds of minerals, vitamins, phytochemicals, but they're low in calories. So if you and I wanted to eat only greens and wild edibles in southern Oregon, we would be thriving May through September.

[00:13:35.010] - Sergei Boutenko

Then as September comes in, it's going to start tapering off. All the food starts to go dormant. And at that point we would be getting nervous, you and I, we'd be like, shit, what are we going to do? Are we going to migrate 2000 miles south to Mexico where everything's still growing in abundance? Are we going to store massive amounts of food under a rock or in a hole or in a cave somewhere so that we can weather the cold winter months? Or are we going to find a third way to survive? And I'm being very simplistic here, but you get the picture. And so then the third way would be to eat animals, nuts and seeds. That's kind of an undeniable fact. People can argue that, but that's what people did 500 years or longer ago. On the flip side, when we hiked from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail, we were really excited because this is the one time in our life where we splurged and we got all those dried fruits and nuts and seeds and all those delicious foods that we don't eat on a daily basis. And we were going to have a diet rich of them.

[00:14:40.170] - Sergei Boutenko

But then a couple of weeks into eating all this dry food, you start craving fresh food. And that's been my experience with meat too. If I ever go too heavy in the meat direction, there becomes a time when I start craving fresh stuff. I think that's an intuitive sign that we're meant to eat everything. And so I may not be able to scientifically convey to you why oxalates exactly are beneficial to the body, but I've seen that they are. And something in me is like, you need to eat a balanced diet. Strive for balance. Eat some meat, eat some greens. Don't be dogmatic.

[00:15:18.790] - Nathan Maingard

Yeah, I was thinking about that beautiful saying the other day. My karma ate my dogma.

[00:15:25.590] - Sergei Boutenko

That's awesome. What do you think? You're well versed. I'm still figuring this out and so I'm very curious to hear what other people have to say.

[00:15:34.410] - Nathan Maingard

Yeah, I also agree very much. I do not know. I think what I've realized is everyone knows almost nothing. And that's because it's just so much in a universe of infinite information that no matter what we think what I tend to do at this point, especially around food, is look more the ancestral kind of looking at what would my people have been eating 1000 years ago? Or, I'd say, 10,000 years ago even more effectively? Or 15,000 years ago? And the idea of at the moment and what feels good as well. So for me right now, when I prioritize animals, animal products, so eating lots of eggs, steak, bacon, like all from well sourced places, I mean, that to me is critical. How were these animals treated? What was their life cycle like? Is this regenerative? How can I get stuff that's from as close as possible? If I can choose something that's from South Africa versus well, I can only eat blueberries from Spain because I'm saving animals on the planet, there's something in that that's very short sighted and doesn't take in the whole picture. So overall, right now, the thing I feel best eating generally is meat, fruit, honey, dairy, fermented, dairy, and that's kind of mainly it.

[00:17:06.460] - Nathan Maingard

And then being flexible within that. Like, I had pizza yesterday, the day before was delicious.

[00:17:15.290] - Sergei Boutenko

Flexibility is not an easy endeavor, let me tell you, man. I think it's really easy to pretend to be flexible, but then when you're like, am I actually flexible? Yeah, that's another story altogether.

[00:17:30.350] - Nathan Maingard

Yeah, I think we're just like pugs compared to wolves as a species right now. I think the modern human is a very like, badly bred, badly fed, domesticated version of a wild animal. And so for any of us to find vibrance and health is kind of amazing when we do. Actually.

[00:17:56.230] - Sergei Boutenko

I think there's a little secret to humans that we can run on all kinds of different fuel. I mean, clearly we can run on garbage that we get from junk food stores for longer than we should. That's a really beautiful thing. The body is like, just imagine if you could just put whatever kind of fuel in your car you wanted. You didn't have gas this week, so you went and just poured some water in there and then poured some apple juice in there when you got to the next spot. And I think you're absolutely right. We all have to observe ourselves and see how we feel. What makes us feel the best we can have external stimuli tell us, like, you should do this, you should do that. But ultimately, if we don't do the tests on ourselves, we'll just never know. And that happens, by the way, in every movement, whether that be the raw food movement or the carnivore movement or whatever. At least I've observed, right? We used to travel from coast to coast in the van, teaching lectures, and we'd go to the East Coast, and raw food people there would be like, don't eat fruit.

[00:18:58.870] - Sergei Boutenko

Fruit causes candida. It'll turn into alcohol in your body and it'll poison you. Okay, we're not going to eat fruit. So then we'd go to the West Coast and they'd say, don't eat vegetables. They're all hybridized, they're all GMO. Nothing's natural about it. They all turn into sugar. You're just not going to if you go in that direction, you're going to be letter I. Okay, no fruit, no vegetables. What else? Okay, we got nuts. Well, nuts have enzyme inhibitors in them, and they'll definitely kill you. It's not natural to eat nuts. We don't have Gizzards, haven't you heard? Next thing you know, we're trying breath Aryanism, but we're in Los Angeles at the time where the air is dirty, and so we have to hold our breath. And you can only do that for I could only do that for about a minute, so then I had to just relax. And the same thing with carnivore, you know, some people eat fermented, raw meat only and swear that that's the thing, and other people only eat whatever. So what are you going to do? You observe. Back in the day, David Wolf, who was he was one of my earliest influences on just being alternative.

[00:20:09.710] - Sergei Boutenko

My mom sent me to live with him for a week in Southern California, and he said something that I've never forgotten. He said, Listen to everything, like a CD. Listen to the tracks you love, skip the ones you hate. And so, David, if you ever listen to this podcast, thanks for that. It's been serving me in life very well.

[00:20:28.970] - Nathan Maingard

I definitely got to get David on the podcast at some point. That would be fun. He's a wild one, that he's a wild one indeed. Man, I love that. Yeah. Interestingly. We were just talking about I had a coffee earlier today, and I don't generally drink coffee. I do when I feel like it, but even today, drinking it, I was a bit like, whoa, I can feel that caffeine. That is intense. And that we were talking about how this guy says coffee is terrible because it's a seed and it's that thing. And then someone else was like, no, it's the best thing since it's the elixir of life and someone else. And I'm just like, wow. And then I think of, like, my lady Carly. She follows some Italian grandmas on Instagram, where they are just all in their eighty s. Ninety s, and they're all just making pasta, constantly shimmying around the table, having a great time. I'm like, no one really gets much more than 90 years, no matter how healthy all the stories people have. And yes, of course, how we eat over time is going to dictate. How do we feel getting up to that kind of age?

[00:21:34.430] - Nathan Maingard

What kind of diseases are we setting ourselves up for in old age, et cetera. But at the end of the day, if we are happy and whole and hearty and have a sense of belonging and enjoying being with people and eating overall whole foods in a way that feels good for us, rad like, do that thing.

[00:21:55.910] - Sergei Boutenko

I think you're not wrong there. Absolutely. So where that takes me is in 2013, my mom and I and my sister, my mom was off, like, researching centenarians and blue zones and stuff. And so at that point, she was still convinced me is not a good idea. And we were going to go film some stuff in a Costa Rican one. We were going to go to Ecuador, but then we realized there's a pretty big blue zone in eastern Siberia, and where, of course, russian. We speak Russian. This was a blue zone that wasn't really written about much in books. And so we're like, Fuck it, we're going to go there. We got special permission from the government because these people are like they're essentially like native tribes, and so you can't just show up with a camera and start filming them to get some permission. We went out there, and we probably interacted with 40 or so people that were up there in age, you know, 90 plus the oldest lady we talked to was 107. And her, I was like, wow, you live with your kids. How nice. She's like, they live with me.

[00:23:03.610] - Sergei Boutenko

Very active farmer communities where they work really hard, from sun up to sun down in the summertime, that's 24 hours a day, 23 hours a day. In the wintertime, it's only, like, three.

[00:23:17.470] - Nathan Maingard


[00:23:17.940] - Sergei Boutenko

And the interesting thing about them is that when their kids move to the city, their life expectancy decreases by 20 years instantly. So if they live to be, like, 90, if they live to be, like, 102, let's say their kids living in a bigger city will be 80 when they die. And so I was like, Holy shit, in one generation. And so everybody in our family had different things that we observed different what's the word? Different. We all kind of thought they got there for different reasons. My mom thought it had to do with the water. What I personally observed is that they lived close to the land. They followed the sun, got up and went down. They didn't overeat simply because when you live close to the land, it's really hard to get excess calories because you're just working and burning a lot. And then also fresh air. They were essentially like camping. A lot of people didn't have any electromagnetic frequencies around them. There was no power lines overhead. And the quiet that you would hear at night was deafening. It's like no place I've ever been on Earth, because there's just nothing around you.

[00:24:32.970] - Sergei Boutenko

You're in the middle of the tiger, and if you yell, nobody's going to hear you. And so I thought that was kind of interesting to your point.

[00:24:45.130] - Nathan Maingard

That's a wonderful story. I love that. So I actually have ancestry. I haven't explored it really much at all, but I believe Siberian and Latvian and Polish ancestry that I know of. So my family fled those areas in the early 19 hundreds. Some persecution of the Jews at some point. I don't know the details, but and then my great grandparents on my mom's side, they met on the ship sailing over to South Africa to get away from persecution. And anyway, that's a whole nother story, but that's good.

[00:25:21.080] - Sergei Boutenko

They went to South Africa, huh?

[00:25:22.730] - Nathan Maingard

Yeah, man.

[00:25:24.390] - Sergei Boutenko

So I'm just curious, how have you been able to track that through other family members, or is that something that you've researched independently?

[00:25:32.420] - Nathan Maingard

No, just hearing stories from my mom and my grand a little bit. But I would like to actually look into that more. I think one of the sad things for me about being, I guess, I don't know, civilized Westerner or something, is that my lineage is so kind of shattered, in a way. And I think of tribal indigenous people as having the opportunity to follow a lineage and to feel, like, really connected to something I remember. Have you read the book civilized to Death by Christopher Ryan?

[00:26:08.030] - Sergei Boutenko

It's definitely come across my table, but I haven't read it now.

[00:26:11.610] - Nathan Maingard

Yeah, it's an intense read and fun. I love the book so much. It explained a lot of things to me that I had thought of. But he brings it all together beautifully. And he talks about one period in archeology or in history, so archaeological history, where they're looking at what was changing over time. And I think it was in Europe, and there's like a 10,000 year period at some point where no new tools were invented. It was like nothing changed. And he says people are a bit stumped about it, of why wasn't this stuff happening to shift over that time? And his theory, which I love, is that things were actually just good people had enough, they were content they didn't feel the need. They were migratory, they had abundance, and they didn't need to invent anything. It was like and I was thinking, imagine being in year 6000, where for 6000 years your ancestors have pretty much done the same thing year after year, moved through the same seasonal patterns, had a relationship with the same pieces of land as you moved through them. And I just kind of there's a part of me that when I think of that, it deeply yearns for.

[00:27:21.490] - Sergei Boutenko

It interesting. Okay, so back to the Siberia thing for a second. While we were there, we got some of the friends that we made, took us to a museum where they were showing us like prehistoric tools that people used. And the funny thing was, right behind where the museum was, there were people plowing their fields with the same exact tools.

[00:27:42.170] - Nathan Maingard


[00:27:42.680] - Sergei Boutenko

So I think that there's maybe some parts of the world where that is still true, where life is good enough, that progress is unnecessary. Maybe you could say it's an interesting thing. Yeah. Why do we always want the new iPhone? I don't really know. Seems like the other ones work just fine.

[00:28:06.490] - Nathan Maingard

I hear you on that. I have a pretty new iPhone. I resisted for about five or six years, but it slowed down. That's what happened. I got tired of how slow my iPhone was.

[00:28:18.100] - Sergei Boutenko

I'm not shaming anybody for having new iPhones. I'm just asking myself the question, why?

[00:28:23.650] - Nathan Maingard


[00:28:24.270] - Sergei Boutenko

I had my last one for seven years until it finally took a crap. And then you got to play the game again.

[00:28:30.950] - Nathan Maingard

Got to spin the roulette wheel of technology. Oh, man.

[00:28:35.810] - Sergei Boutenko

So I have something about meat that I'd like to tell you if you want to listen. Something I only figured out during COVID So if you want to get a little conspiratorial, we can talk about that again. I still need to go back and do the math because it was either 2007 or 2011 so bad. But in the later stages of my raw food eating, I started getting cravings for meat. And it was like a source of panic and uncertainty because like, what the hell? I'm not supposed to be craving the dark stuff. But I would dream about it. I would literally have vivid dreams where I would I was hunting and I would jump on a cow and bite it in the neck. And I was like, I'd wake up, I'd be like, holy shit. Anyway, I didn't act on it. And then we came back from Southeast Asia. We were touring over there and I brought something back with me and I got really, really sick. I had a fever of 104 for like two weeks. Maybe like twelve days. Just under two weeks. I was on my deathbed. I thought I was going to die.

[00:29:47.630] - Sergei Boutenko

Kept being sick. Went to the doctor. The doctor was like, you're sick, here's a bill. Didn't do anything. For me, a naturopath good friend of mine. Anyway, after that was over and the fever finally broke, I went into this vertigo cycle where I had vertigo for about six weeks. Couldn't, couldn't drive, couldn't ride a bike, had to walk everywhere. And at the end of that I ended up at a 4 July barbecue that one of my friends was hosting and he was cooking lamb, chicken and beef. And at this point, I had not touched meat in 22 years, was a raw food vegan for 18 of those. And I was like, you know what, I'm just going to do it. And everybody told me, you're not going to feel good, you're going to be sick. You're going to eat this poisonous substance. You might even die because you're too pure. Anyway, I ate some meat. I ate three kinds of meat that day. And I started feeling like wolverine instantly. I had like a surge of protein in my body and I was like, Ah, everything. I don't, I don't know if it was like, this is maybe a little anecdotal, but the vertigo went away.

[00:30:55.750] - Sergei Boutenko

I started instantly feeling better and that surge of energy lasted for at least a week before I ate meat again. So that was kind of my coming back to reality sort of AHA moment. And the interesting thing about that was I'm pretty sure that sickness was SARS One because it was an unidentified respiratory virus that ended up being a long haul. And I went back to the same doctor during all this crazy last three years to kind of check in about that and he was like, yes, I think it was SARS COVID One. So I think I had some I don't know, it was just kind of an interesting to me, it signified that my diet was lacking when that happened because my immunity was low. And then through the act of eating meat, I believe my body was like, this is the way you need to go.

[00:31:58.230] - Nathan Maingard

Do you feel or would you share a little about the story of moving? Because obviously, as you said, you had these stories, you're going to die. It's poisonous, you're too pure for this. And so the circles you were rolling in, I guess a lot of them were quite well dogmatic. And what happened for you through that process of transformation, of becoming someone different who now ate meat within a circle where everyone knew you to be someone who didn't.

[00:32:24.830] - Sergei Boutenko

A bitter ass shedding of identity.

[00:32:27.250] - Nathan Maingard

Holy shit.

[00:32:33.010] - Sergei Boutenko

I'm definitely still shedding. Not probably, I'm definitely still shedding and trying to figure everything out. In a weird way, living through COVID actually disenfranchised me back towards the health, health direction. It's not that I've abandoned healthy eating. This has been part of my life indefinitely, though it has morphed and changed over time where and now just try and look at things more full picture. Like if I do a what happens if I do. B, what happens? But yeah, just a brutal identity shift. Lots of hate, lots of positive comments, too. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter though, because I'm in it for the truth. I just want to know how to be a better human. And if people want to follow any of my teachings, I just want to share the truth with them, even if it's uncertainty. And I don't always know what that is, but if I'm honest about it, it's like Mark Twain says, the truth will set you free. If I'm honest about it, then there's no problem. Where dogma becomes a problem is when people start lying about it, when people start covering shit up. Like most recently with the Liver King, turns out he wasn't just eating liver.

[00:33:54.010] - Sergei Boutenko

And actually when that happened, it was triggering in a way, because I saw that a thousand times in the raw food movement, somebody would come on the scene and start spinning a story, a beautiful story, only to discover that that wasn't true. And we're probably guilty of it too. Maybe that's just polarizing. Stories are attractive. When somebody makes a really big, bold claim, it's exciting. We want to follow it. I want to follow it. But then generally in life, I've learned that it's if it sounds too good to be true, it is. And so I don't know if I answered that. Please feel free to pride some more. But shedding identity was brutal and beautiful at the same time because you realize you're not. There were times when I would identify with my trail name was Durian Mango. My identity was wrapped into, like, fruits and vegetables and health. But people are like, onions, dude, we're we have so much more to us. Nathan just one or two different things. You know, in my youth, I was a skateboarder, and then I shed that identity, and there's been plenty of other ones over the years, but the raw food one was definitely the biggest one, and I'm still navigating it.

[00:35:13.030] - Nathan Maingard

And within your family circle, has that been because you said your mom at one time was still being like, fruits and vegetables? Raw food or veganism is the only way. And how has that how has your transformation been a part of your family's transformation?

[00:35:30.330] - Sergei Boutenko

If I'm being perfectly frank, it wasn't good for the family. We definitely fought a lot and disagreed a lot. And actually in recent years, we've been more and more estranged. And I'm trying to make sense of why that happened, because we were so close growing up and most recently on a hike. And I was kind of preparing in preparation for this. I was like, why did that happen? And I got this little maybe it's this. And that was when sometimes when musicians travel around in a van for 20 years together, they get oversaturated with each other and then the band breaks up. And so maybe that's kind of what happened with us, but definitely as we became more adults, my sister and I, we were raised kind of in that alternative circle. And then as we became adults, we started reaching further outside the bubble, and then our opinion started to differ. And by the end right now, basically there's no end right now, everybody thinks something differently. And I don't even know what most people what my sister thinks on certain subjects, or my mom or my dad, but that's not really my business.

[00:36:39.870] - Sergei Boutenko

My business is me.

[00:36:43.490] - Nathan Maingard

I hear you. I have a deep resonance with that. I'm currently estranged from my sister. We haven't spoken in quite a long time, which is wild to me because she was the first person in my life that I really felt fully safe with. As a she's five years younger than me, but when I was sort of, I don't know, becoming a bit of an older teenager, and she was just trying to, you know, 1213 years old. We just started to have these really deep conversations, and she was like, we could go and just meet in this place, in that field beyond right and wrong, as Romy says so beautifully. And I always kind of just assumed that that would be the case, that we could disagree on stuff, but it would be okay because we're just exploring the relational space that is not currently the case. I have been denied access because of differing opinions on various things. And it's sad to me. To me, it seems like a symptom of, I don't know the terminology that's appropriate, but of work culture, or of the polarization that has been engendered by modern social media, where it's where opinions and identification with opinions becomes more important than collaboration or connection.

[00:38:00.850] - Nathan Maingard

It's like, well, if we differ, then you're an enemy and you're doing violence upon me. I just thank you for sharing a little bit about that for me. I can only speak. It's a fucking hard place to be in. It's one of my favorite people in the world, and I don't get to hang with her right now. It sucks.

[00:38:18.430] - Sergei Boutenko

May I ask how long it's been? How long it has been?

[00:38:23.970] - Nathan Maingard

We've been estranged now for a few years. We haven't spoken in we haven't had communication that felt like a two way kind of meeting of equals for pretty much this entire year and actually quite a while before that. But she drew a boundary kind of beginning of the year, she's like, don't contact me. And I don't know, I'll let you know when I'm ready. And at this point, it seems even less likely that she'll be ready anytime soon.

[00:38:51.210] - Sergei Boutenko

I'm very sorry to hear that. My sister actually similar thing happened. Our views diverged. I don't really know what happened, but it's been over a year since we've talked and it's rough. But what that kind of taps into for me is, again, back to the raw food lifestyle. I noticed early on that a lot of people were fighting over, like, crumbs. Right? It was like the Bible all over again. Like, you're not interpreting the word of God correctly, but I am, so follow me. And not that happened over and over again. And I always was like, why are we fighting each other when we should be fighting Pepsi Cola or, like, Monsanto, why the hell are you telling me I'm not eating enough fruits and I should be eating more? And I'm telling you, you should be eating more vegetables. And the pandemic sort of opened my eyes again to that. Maybe you shouldn't scrap all of that, Sergeant, because unity and community, you must find it. You must find common ground with people, regardless of who they are, what they eat, because it sure seems like the other guys, the Coca Cola, the big brands, they're the ones, like, if we make them fight, they'll all drink more Coke.

[00:40:17.590] - Sergei Boutenko

Some people just get wrapped up in that mindset. Sometimes they're family members. And you diverge, recognizing what I just told you. I don't want to be the guy that my way is right and your way is wrong. So as hard as it is, I just have to let my sister go through her process and hope that one day we will reconnect and listen to her and love her, and until then, just love her from a distance.

[00:40:43.710] - Nathan Maingard

Yeah, man, exactly. I could say that word for word for myself would be as true and acknowledging my pardon, it that it was something that she was experiencing that felt really important to her, and she brought it to me, and I didn't respond in the way that she wanted me to. And if I had taken a breath and just been like, hang on a moment. Can we just talk about this when it's not late at night and I'm not exhausted and we could just have this conversation in a calm away and for whatever reason that but then I think I'm five years older than her in this case. I think she's always looked up to me a lot. She always turned to me for advice and for opinions. And I think a lot of the advice I gave her when I was younger was terrible advice, because I was a teenager trying to navigate a reality that I had no context for really, how to do it responsibly. So, yeah, I guess the saddest part for me is I would love to do this processing with her. I would love to sit down and just be like, tell him what's going on.

[00:41:42.880] - Nathan Maingard

What is the stuff that you what are the stories that you have about me? And maybe they could serve me and also being a better person to see the shadowy parts of myself that I don't want to look at. And that's hard for me to look at without someone else reflecting it. But all I can do. There's a beautiful saying that I heard on someone else's podcast where she said the only thing any of us can do actually, is get right with ourselves. That's literally all any of us can do. And I hold that to me. I think about it a lot, and I practice embodying it a lot.

[00:42:15.850] - Sergei Boutenko

Dude, thank you for that. It's a good reminder. The only thing we can do is work on ourselves. Indeed. That's literally the only thing we can do. It's kind of empowering when you think about it.

[00:42:28.860] - Nathan Maingard


[00:42:29.420] - Sergei Boutenko

You don't know what to do. Work on yourself.

[00:42:31.950] - Nathan Maingard

Yeah, exactly.

[00:42:33.710] - Sergei Boutenko


[00:42:34.430] - Nathan Maingard


[00:42:34.820] - Sergei Boutenko

It's I really hope that you get the chance. I hope that, you know, your sister comes around and she tells you what's wrong with you. I hope you get to listen, and I hope I get that chance too.

[00:42:45.270] - Nathan Maingard

Yeah, man, I wish that for you as well. I wish that for all of us.

[00:42:50.950] - Sergei Boutenko

We're also coming out of, like, a wartime scenario into another wartime scenario, and people are just spinning. I'm spinning. It's been tough. And I always wondered, like, if you go on YouTube and you plug in World War II in color right, and you just start watching people, it's fucking crazy, dude. People are smiling and laughing as they're taking bricks and moving them, like, trying to unbury their homes that have been bombed in the rubble. And I always thought, like, that's bone chilling. Why the fuck are they smiling? Their entire lives fell apart. And then the pandemic happened, and I think I learned why. And it's because the camaraderie that comes with hard times brings us back to our ancestral tribal roots. We just find people that are in our tribe and we reach and we grab them and we pull them close. And when wartime ends and that kind of dissipates and people start going back to their own lives, I think it's like, posttraumatic stress. I think we really like that group that we've made. And I've realized now things are kind of opening up and whatever, that I'm just like, wow, I have to remember what this is all like.

[00:44:14.020] - Sergei Boutenko

Because the pandemic was a lot of things, but it was also tight knit community for me. Like, people coming together, some of us that were resisting some of the mandates and stuff, we really formed a tight knit community. And now it seems like we're kind of floating around, like, what do we do now? The things that we cared before about. Do we still care about those things or do we care about new things? Somebody talked to me, please.

[00:44:42.570] - Nathan Maingard

Yeah, I guess it's a very natural thing for humans, but we are tribal by nature, and so people often talk about I think the word cult has unfortunately been negatively appropriated in a way by this idea of like, oh, you don't want to be in a cult. But what people forget is that we are all in a cult, because the root of the word cult is cultus, which means culture, is to be in a culture. We are all in a culture. And I think the worst cult that anyone could ever be in is to believe that the society's consciousness as it is right now has the interests and the health and the well being of its people as its priority, because that's not what I've witnessed as the truth. Just observing. Like, oh, if you follow all the rules, basically, if you go to school, you go to university, you eat the food they tell you to, you go to the doctors that you watch the news, you just do the things that everyone tells you to. Your likelihood of getting very sick, very unhappy, and dying young and unwell is much higher than if you there's something in that of like that's the cult that we default into in our society unless we choose differently.

[00:45:58.650] - Nathan Maingard

And so I think the term that I've come up with for myself is choose your cult wisely.

[00:46:07.910] - Sergei Boutenko

Yes, I think you're spot on. I think we're all in a cult, whether we realize it or not to some degree, right? And we have to absolutely choose wisely. It's absolutely critical, because, like you said moments ago, we only get 90 years or whatever, and I'm halfway through that. I better start choosing even better than I did before.

[00:46:32.910] - Nathan Maingard

Let's get into that a little bit. I'd be curious just for the listener to sort of be thinking, well, what the hell do I do now? So with your nearly 40 years of life on this planet, and also having been someone who's been involved in something that's very, like, was very strict and stringent around, this is how we're supposed to be to have a good life. And and one of the things you expressed to me when we were chatting a few days ago was around moderation. So I'm just curious, what is the thing or what are the things that you would say to someone who is looking for that balance within themselves? What are some of the things that have helped you in your own journey?

[00:47:08.330] - Sergei Boutenko

Well, moderation, moderation and more moderation. And of course, moderation has to be done in moderation, which is, like, the most difficult part of moderation. Listen, in 2015, I was working on a project, a documentary I was making called I Want ABS. The title describes exactly what it was about, and so I started working out. I hired some trainers, and I was just like, I here's my goal. I want to be in the best shape of my life. I don't want it to consume my entire life. I-E-I still want to be able to work and hang out with friends, and I want to do it in a healthy fashion. I'm not interested in taking steroids or anything, so there's a million ways to do it. Some people would say I did it completely wrong. But I've never felt better. I was eating a diet rich in animal products as well as fruits, vegetables, nuts. I just kind of was eating the epitome of a balanced diet, working out an hour a day, five days a week. I've never felt better. I literally have never felt better than I did then. And that was my AHA moment in that respect.

[00:48:16.840] - Sergei Boutenko

Just find what balance means for you. For me, it meant not overeating, not eating late at night, taking a big at least 13 hours break in between my last meal of the day and the next meal in the morning, exercising. Exercise was huge. I thought up until that point that I knew about exercise, but I didn't know anything. Going to the gym, actually getting lifting heavy things and sweating gives you the best mental clarity, gives me the best mental clarity that trumps everything else. And so my eyes were open. You guys can go and watch that movie on YouTube if you want, but my eyes were open to the power of moderation. And life is a big old puzzle, and there's lots of puzzle pieces through that. I saw how important moderation is, but the implementation of getting all those pieces in perfect order, in perfect moderate order, is the difficult challenge. How do you regulate your exercise and your diet and your sleep and not gossiping with your friends? How do you get all those pieces in alignment, your love life, your partner, in order to get the most out of life? The short answer is, I don't know.

[00:49:36.810] - Sergei Boutenko

I'm still figuring it out.

[00:49:39.110] - Nathan Maingard

I was waiting for the punchline. I was like, this is it. I'm about to get the download of all downloads.

[00:49:44.150] - Sergei Boutenko

I just got you. I left you hanging. But I think when we do difficult things I'm not breaking any new ground here, but when we do difficult things, that gets us out of our heads, that gets us out of self pity. Gets me out of self pity, and then we are able to set our sights on something bigger, something more important, and that helps us to be more moderate when we're in our heads and pitying ourselves. I just want to eat pizza and ice cream all day long and sit on the couch and feel sorry for myself. One thing I've been doing lately is I've been getting out of bed cover off, and then I force myself to walk into the backyard where it's 20 degrees and dunk in a cold plunge when it's still dark outside. And that is super fucked up.

[00:50:32.250] - Nathan Maingard

But I was going to ask you about Ice Buzz. I was like, I don't know, because anyone who listens to this podcast is probably like, dude, stop talking about Ice Buzz. But I find, like, everything you just said around doing difficult things, getting out of the head, getting into the body, consistency, what was the other one? Was moderation and all of those aspects to me, they come together and all connect in one present moment experience, which is getting in that fucking ice bath.

[00:51:03.010] - Sergei Boutenko

It's not easy, is it?

[00:51:04.630] - Nathan Maingard


[00:51:05.140] - Sergei Boutenko

Especially when you leave your beautiful wife in bed. She's like, don't go, it's so warm. And you're like, why the hell am I doing this again? Because Joe Rogan told me. But I tell you what, when you submerge your head in darkness, cold, icy darkness, all that little noise that's like, you're not good enough. This, that, and the other, it just vanishes. And you're like, okay, I'm alive. I'm going to keep doing that and see what happens. Little tests.

[00:51:38.190] - Nathan Maingard


[00:51:38.780] - Sergei Boutenko

A little test. Challenge us and help us be better. Help us be human.

[00:51:47.330] - Nathan Maingard

That's brave. I watch there's a lovely guy, Sean the Viking Zimmer, on who I connect with on Instagram. And he was one of the early guests on the podcast. And he shares these videos regularly that I'll see if I can share one in the show notes as well, as well as all the other videos that you've been talking about. I'll make sure there's links to those. But he shared one where he's in Canada and he goes out. It's early in the morning, it's snowing. There's snow everywhere. And he goes and he, like, bashes snow off the top of his ice bath and then pulls the lid off and then breaks the thick layer of ice. And I'm just like I walk out here, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping. I'm like, oh, I guess I'll get in my ice bath this morning. And it's way easier on that. I mean, there's still that moment of standing next to it and being like, this is it. And then it hits so hard. But it's not the same.

[00:52:37.330] - Sergei Boutenko

I don't think you're right, actually. I'm going to push back on that. I think when it's super cold and icy, it's theatrical and it looks dangerous, but it's actually way easier. I think when the hardest is when the outdoor temperature is close to the water temperature, maybe a little higher. So let's say it's like 36 Fahrenheit just above freezing. Personally, for me, it's way more difficult to climb in that water when the water is slightly colder than the air versus when the air is below freezing and you climb in the water, it actually feels warmer. I think that you and the tropics, I think you're actually showing all of us up.

[00:53:15.470] - Nathan Maingard

That's an interesting one. I don't know. Have you heard Andrew Huberman talk about cold immersion at all?

[00:53:24.350] - Sergei Boutenko

No, not lately. I do like the guy, but I haven't heard yet.

[00:53:27.410] - Nathan Maingard

He's got a great I think it's two and a half hours. I haven't quite finished it yet, but it's literally pretty much the whole thing is about cold immersion. And he just breaks it down so beautifully. And he talks about the wall. He's like, I'm going to call it a wall. So what you're doing is he said, basically the time thing is cool when you're starting, but it's not a great way to keep growing resilience, because eventually you'll have the water as cold as you can get it, and you'll be able to sit in it for ages. So it becomes like, how are you going to keep increasing resilience when you reach that point? He said the thing to actually focus on is this idea of resistance, which is the wall. And he said what that actually is, is your adrenaline spiking. The fear that there is I don't want to do this is the adrenaline coming up. And so he's like, actually decide, how many walls do I want to climb over in this experience? So, for example, you wake up in bed with your beautiful wife. It's it's all warm and cozy. She's like, don't leave me.

[00:54:19.510] - Nathan Maingard

And that if you get out of bed at that point, you've just climbed a wall like you just got over, you did the thing you don't want to do or part of you doesn't want to do. And so then he's like, decide three, four walls, five walls. And sometimes that could take you you just get in the bath for two minutes and you're like, cool, I've got over, like, four walls already. Sometimes that might be six minutes or ten minutes where it really is more about and he says, no, that when you feel that resistance rise, and you choose to climb over that resistance and continue and experience that release on the other side. That that is the growth of resilience. That is you doing the thing. And it's not about time. It's about that resistance and then meeting it and going over it.

[00:54:59.250] - Sergei Boutenko

Smart fella. Dude. Andrew Huberman, thank you for all that you've done. Yeah, absolutely. On that note, too, it's not how long you go in cold water. I think that's one of the tricks is right, because myself, my inner human, wants to be like, not only do I want to climb in that cold ass tank early in the morning, but I want to spend three minutes in there. And that thinking is problematic. The fact that you climbed in the tank, period, you've already won. The other is bonus. And there's a very big temptation for some reason, to spend three minutes in there. And then when you hit the three minute mark, why not five? And then maybe I'll just eat breakfast in the cold plunge. I think I need to remind myself somehow, once and for all, that just getting in the tank is the win. The rest is just bonus. You can sit in there as long or as little as you want, but just by getting in, you're already out of that self pity mindset, and you've set yourself up for the day to do hard and good things.

[00:56:08.790] - Nathan Maingard

Well said. I love that.

[00:56:11.380] - Sergei Boutenko

Maybe you have some advice from me because I'm looking for it. From you too?

[00:56:16.550] - Nathan Maingard

No. To me, this conversation is, like, what helps me. It's just a reminder that's what I carry, actually. I will tell you a story that's really been helpful for me. So when growing up, my parents as disregulated nervous system disregulated people doing the best they could in a broken society, the feeling that I experienced from them was that I wasn't enough, that I'm not enough. I'm failing. I always make mistakes. I need all the stories that I was running from that out of conscious and subconscious level. So, like, at a nervous system level and at the inner voice level. And so what I discovered is that that critical voice, they're like, nathan, you're not doing well enough. You fucked it up again. You suck at this. That voice does not get me into ipods. I can't use that voice. Come on, suck it up. Get in there. Like, be a man. Whatever the story, I just won't do it if I'm using that voice. And the voice that I do use and that I've been developing now for a few years, actually, through plant medicines, through breath work sessions, through all the work that I've been doing to get well, to be well in myself, is a whole different voice.

[00:57:26.020] - Nathan Maingard

And this is the reparenting, or repatriating, as someone said recently on the podcast, which I love repatterning. And this voice is much more like, hey, little buddy, I know this is super hard, and I know that you're a bit scared right now, but I'm with you, and we've done this before, and you do hard things. I know that you want to do this as much as I do and remember how good we feel after we do this. And remember why. Because we want to sharpen the world and we want to have a beautiful life. We want to help people and be in service and be authentic. So, like, let's do this thing. Are you scared? Take another breath. Soften. Let's just stand here for a moment. Let's get into it. Okay? Let's take one more breath. Let's get in the water. Come on, I'm with you. Let's do this. And that voice is what gets me into the ice bath. It's the kind older brother or it's the kind parent inside my own head talking to the little me who's like, I don't want to do this. I'm scared. It's going to be hard, it's going to be painful.

[00:58:19.770] - Nathan Maingard

And it's like developing that kind voice is what keeps me getting back into the water.

[00:58:25.600] - Sergei Boutenko

And how do you snap into kind voice if you're a negative voice? Do you have any tricks for, like.

[00:58:30.850] - Nathan Maingard

That'S a great question. I think just over time, consistently practicing it, and also just that I can't get in the ice bath if I don't use it. When I've made the decision to get in the ice bath, I kind of just automatically switch into that. Because I've said, I'm going to do the ice bath, so I go stand next to it and now I'm there. And especially actually having other people around. So, like, having a friend with me or doing it in a circle or as soon as there's just even one other person there, I'm like, well, and that's also a little positive ego of like, well, now someone's watching. Like, I've got to do it. So then I have to use the voice that's going to get me in. Because exactly.

[00:59:12.670] - Sergei Boutenko

I found personally that when I throw shit out on the Internet for accountability, there's nothing more motivating. Nathan that when you tell your audience, hey, I'm going to get six pack ABS in the next four months. Band, you better get those apps, otherwise somebody's going to be writing you hateful emails all day long. Thank you for that. Interesting.

[00:59:33.960] - Nathan Maingard

Yeah, thank you. That's great. And I love that you bought up weight training because I was a surfer in my teenage years, and that was like my temple, man. Surfing just gave me everything that I needed that I wasn't getting anywhere else. A sense of oneness, a sense of flow, a sense of strength and agility and skill was amazing. And then, unfortunately, I got into some pretty hard drugs as a sort of 1718 year old, and it just sapped my vitality. And then I started getting chronic pain and my body and neck spasms, all these things. Anyway, so I haven't actually surfed now for quite a long time, but I never really did anything else to replace it. I did some yoga here. They did some pull ups and push ups. I was always, like, trying little things. But this year and towards the end of last year and then really this year, committing to kettlebells, consistent training with, as you said, lifting and moving hard, heavy things around. Oh, my word, what a difference.

[01:00:33.370] - Sergei Boutenko

So we got that in common, too. Man I swing kettlebells daily.

[01:00:36.980] - Nathan Maingard


[01:00:38.010] - Sergei Boutenko

Yeah. I got certified through IQs last January, and in the summer months, every Sunday we do something called kettlebells and coffee at my place. We have an acre in the front yard. And so we basically get and get meet together at 830 in the morning, whoever wants to show up, friends, family, community. We swing kettlebells for an hour and then we drink coffee and shoot the shit. It's awesome. They're a tool. It's very easy for me to want to be dogmatic about kettlebells, too, but kettlebells are a tool. Wild edibles are a tool. And sometimes you use a hammer and sometimes you use a crowbar, but there's an application for each one of them. And kettlebells are awesome. I'm so happy to hear that you're doing it. Are you working with, may I ask, or what kind of kettlebells are you working with?

[01:01:31.950] - Nathan Maingard

So, just first, to preface, I have had no training with kettlebells. I just watched a lot of videos on technique and then started doing it myself and I have felt really good with it. It's been months now and I just feel better and better. Like, I've getting some more advanced swings in with throwing and flipping and just really having a lot of weird fun with it. But just hearing you say when you said you got certified, I was like, I want to do that. But the ones I'm using are just from I just bought them. I can actually show you. Hang on, you'll probably be able to tell me some cool things about hang on a second.

[01:02:04.840] - Sergei Boutenko


[01:02:06.390] - Nathan Maingard

So this is a 35 pound, which is 16. I've been using that for the last few months and then recently I've moved on to as well, using 210 kilograms as an alternative, which is fun. I do really like using one. Anyway. So this is the hell.

[01:02:28.350] - Sergei Boutenko

Yeah. That looks like kettlebell. Kings kettlebell, maybe.

[01:02:31.810] - Nathan Maingard

I mean, it's just a local, it doesn't have any brand name on it or anything, but I'd love to get a competition one at some point. Yeah, I've heard the competition ones is like a whole different experience. Having a chance yet, though, it is.

[01:02:46.970] - Sergei Boutenko

Simply let me tell you why, if I may. A competition kettlebell maintains the exact same shape and size as it goes up in weight, and so the shape doesn't change, but the density changes. The reason that's good is as you grow muscle, you clean, you jerk your kettlebell, you get stronger, you move up to the next weight and nothing changes. That's not a bad kettlebell, what you have in your possession, but the ones that are, like, small and then go up, you want to avoid those because as you go up your movement, your form will change. And you don't want that. You want to solidify work on a good form, solidify it and then just keep it there.

[01:03:25.250] - Nathan Maingard

Cool. That makes so much sense to me. And they are all different sizes, so the 210 kilos are, like, much smaller. And actually, even the handles are different shapes on the two that I bought. And I was like, that's not great. That feels super weird. Yeah, exactly.

[01:03:41.300] - Sergei Boutenko

And there's a if and when you go that route. Shameless plug for this company called Pro Kettlebells. They're new out of Seattle. Man, if I had to do it all over again, I would replace my entire army of kettlebells with them because they've changed the shape. They're still round, they still maintain the same size, but they have peaks and valleys. And the peak, if it lands wrong, you can tell. You're like, oh, that hurts. And so it's like a training wheel, almost, where it inspires you to get your form correctly and land in the pocket instead of the peak.

[01:04:16.370] - Nathan Maingard

Just look those up, dude, that's awesome. I don't think I can. If I pay the delivery fee to South Africa on a kettlebell too, that's going to hurt.

[01:04:27.850] - Sergei Boutenko

That's even true for here. The shipping on kettlebells is more expensive than the kettlebells. Like I said, it doesn't really matter. At the end of the day, it's getting in the gym that matters. And the kettlebells are just a tool.

[01:04:42.510] - Nathan Maingard


[01:04:43.610] - Sergei Boutenko

Tool that Russian farmers used to brag with. Right?

[01:04:48.540] - Nathan Maingard

Yeah. So there's a beautiful thing a friend of mine recently said, which it's called stacking the Allies is what he called it. So he's like, basically it's the things we do that we combine that when we stack them, the things that are good for us, and we stack them and they have exponential results. So my sweetheart Kylie and I, because we found this really beautiful flow in the morning, and we were thinking we call it breath Bath and bell. So basically, you do a nice breath work session, have an epic ice bath and then swing the kettlebell. And there's a whole reasoning for the flow of it and, oh, man, we could go deep dive into this. But just briefly, there's been some research that shows that when we do strength training straight after an ice bath, it massively, positively impacts our testosterone levels, which is something that both men and women.

[01:05:46.670] - Sergei Boutenko

Posted actually decreases muscle growth. Correct?

[01:05:49.120] - Nathan Maingard

Exactly. Yeah, exactly.

[01:05:54.270] - Sergei Boutenko

Ever since I heard that on a podcast, I was like, I got to do it. And then I haven't yet because I'm scared because when I hit that ice bath again, I'm just like, I'm not working out right now, dude. I'm going to go drink a hot cup of tea in the shower.

[01:06:10.310] - Nathan Maingard

Honestly, try like, the experience. Plus you're also doing something called pre cooling. So often the limitation, because our bodies, our muscles don't have much of a ceiling in terms of getting hot. So as soon as they reach that temperature, where they don't want to be any hotter than that, we can't do any more exercise. But it doesn't mean that we have overworked our muscles. It could even be that there's a lot more capacity there. And so if we pre cool by something like an ice bath, we can actually go more towards our limit in terms of a workout and have more gains from strength and stamina, et cetera. And you also warm up really nicely, like if you start doing some nice squats. And what's the one where you like squats and cleans, even, or just something that gets you moving but not too fast, you heat up super quickly and then it's just the best experience. And then plus the dopamines going from the icepot and the adrenaline without spiking the cortisol. So you've got like, focus and intensity and clarity and happiness, and then you're doing a kettlebell workout. It's pretty epic.

[01:07:13.690] - Sergei Boutenko

And so talk me through it. You jump out of your cold plunge tank and then you just like, high tail it to the gym and grab your kettlebell or what?

[01:07:21.610] - Nathan Maingard

Yeah, obviously it's not freezing and snowing outside here. So we've got a beautiful deck that we go and stand on. But basically so the first thing is just starting with obviously a little warm up, get the body moving and ready to stretch it out and everything. And then doing some breath work, which is oxygenating cleansing, detoxing, waking up. And then from there, moving into the ice bath. And then from the ice bath, it's actually taking a few minutes, getting out and breathing slowly, keeping things calm, feeling the intensity, not avoiding the intensity of the cold or the achiness that happens, and staying with that for at least a few minutes until generally when I've started shivering a little bit. Then I'm like, okay, cool. I've done as much as I can in terms of staying calm, allowing my parasympathetic to activate brown fat activation, et cetera. And then from there, I'll walk over to the kettlebells and start up a kettlebell workout.

[01:08:14.200] - Sergei Boutenko

I'm going to do it. You inspired me. I'm going to try.

[01:08:17.340] - Nathan Maingard

Right. Let me know how it goes. I'd be so excited to hear.

[01:08:21.100] - Sergei Boutenko

I'll send you a picture for accountability's sake.

[01:08:23.640] - Nathan Maingard

Yeah, exactly. That's it. You've committed to it on the Internet.

[01:08:26.760] - Sergei Boutenko

So I've committed to it on the Internet. Here I go again.

[01:08:31.490] - Nathan Maingard

All right, well, listen, I just want to ask you one more question. Related? Well, I ask every guest this question, and the question is, what do the words or when you hear the words we are already free, what comes up for you?

[01:08:44.760] - Sergei Boutenko

What comes up for me is that all this stuff that I've made up in my head about, like, all the barriers that I have are unnecessary. They don't exist. I've created them out of nothing because we are already free. I think it's very complicated and simple at the same time. That's just it. There's nothing else to say. We are already free. Just go get it. Me. Swing it.

[01:09:14.690] - Nathan Maingard

I love that. Thank you, brother. And where do people find you to look up more of your good work?

[01:09:20.530] - Sergei Boutenko

Mostly on YouTube, I think would be a good direction. Butenko films on YouTube, I have a lot of wild edibles content, as well as a bunch of other variety content out there. I'm on Instagram. You can go to my website,, and you can also pick up my book if anybody's watching this. I have a book about wild edibles. It's pretty damn good, and I'm proud of it.

[01:09:44.330] - Nathan Maingard

Perfect. Thank you. And I'll share all of that in the show notes as well, so people can easily just click through and find that and yeah. Thanks again for coming on. It's been such an enjoyable conversation. Really appreciate connecting with you.

[01:09:55.900] - Sergei Boutenko

I had a blast. Nathan, nathan. Nathan nathan nathan.

[01:09:59.960] - Nathan Maingard


[01:10:00.630] - Sergei Boutenko

Right. Okay.

[01:10:01.860] - Nathan Maingard

Thank you. I often wish I had a name. Thanks.

[01:10:05.810] - Sergei Boutenko

You can always change it.

[01:10:07.280] - Nathan Maingard

Yeah, sure.

[01:10:08.080] - Sergei Boutenko

I don't recommend that, though. John Steinbeck says that in his book east of eden, which is one of my favorite books. He says that people who use nicknames or changed their names never learned how to live with the name that they were given. And when read that, I was like, Holy shit. Because for most of my life, I've been Sergey. But in my youth, kids made fun of me because Sergey has the word gay in it, and they're like, oh, you're gay. And I didn't even know what that was at the time, but I was made fun of it. So I changed my name in my youth to Sergi, which kind of, in a way, almost sounds even more in that direction. And when I read that in Steinbeck, I was like, wow, I need to regain my name. And so he helped me to see that Sarah gave my name.

[01:10:57.970] - Nathan Maingard

Well, thank you for sharing that story. So I went by Nate for a really long time, because while my sister, for whatever reason, started calling me Nate many, many years ago. And then when I became a professional, I started playing music as a kind of profession or heading in that direction. I was like, Nate main guard. It just sounded so cool and so hipped. But then over time, as I did some of my work and my internal healing, I realized, wow, the name Nathan, which means the gift that God has given, specifically Nathaniel Nathan, the gift that God has given, but Nathan still means the gift. And I realized that the word Nathan is much softer. Nathan has a softness and a flow to it with Nate is very abrupt, and I have a willow that bends.

[01:11:45.980] - Sergei Boutenko

In the wind versus a branch that breaks.

[01:11:48.710] - Nathan Maingard

There you go. Exactly. And I had that same realization, and I love that you shared that about naming, because it's been so powerful for me to reclaim my name and be like, wow, I feel it's good to be Nathan. It's good to own. That what that feels like. So thank you.

[01:12:03.350] - Sergei Boutenko

Thanks for having me on your show, Nathan. I really appreciate it.

[01:12:06.380] - Nathan Maingard

Such a pleasure, Sergey. You as well, brother. Really just such a joy. I look forward to the next one.

[01:12:11.290] - Sergei Boutenko

Let's do it.

[01:12:13.930] - Nathan Maingard

Thank you again to Sergei Botanko for your presence on the we are Already Free podcast. You can find links to Sergey, plus many of the things we talk about at Alreadyfree Me 24. That's just the numbers. 24. That's also where you'll find a link to Patreon, where you can access the full video version of this episode, plus bonus conversations with other guests, get a personal shout out on the podcast, and many more. Lovely. Goodies. As a thank you for supporting thank you so much for valuing this podcast as much as I do. Please reach out if I can be of service. My contact is in the show notes. As always at alreadyfree me 24. Thank you for being here with me, dear listener, together we are remembering that we are already free. See you next week.


  1. Vanessa

    Really interesting and great to hear such transparency. But Mark Twain stole that quote off Jesus 😉

    • Nathan Maingard

      hah, I thought it sounded familiar :D. Thanks, Vanessa! Any other takeaways from the episode? Thanks for being here, all the best

    • Sergei Boutenko

      Hahaha, you called my bluff, I mis-quoted Jesus and assigned it to Mark Twain. Mark Twain has another quote I love, something like: “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

      • Nathan Maingard

        Haha, people are sharp these days 😉. Lovely to have you here, brother! Love the new quote 😁

  2. Mark Heckman


    • Nathan Maingard

      Thanks, Mark! Any particular takeaways you resonated with?

  3. Natasha

    Great choice of guest. It was interesting (& a bit sad) to hear his life update after the Raw Family, as I had heard of them back in 2007 or so. Balance & moderation without dogma… great takeaways 🙂

    • Nathan Maingard

      Thank you, Natasha, glad you resonated with this episode. It’s one of my favs for sure, what a lovely dude he is! Yes, very sad to hear about his family. Family’s are hard, right! And yay for the balance and moderation without dogma takeaway, that’s always a great reminder! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, it makes my day 😊


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