Category Archives for "fitness"

Why most people fail at their health and fitness goals

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Most people will set a goal and then they do their best to make it happen, only to fail miserably. Goals only work when you do them right. On episode 564 of the 40+ Fitness Podcast, we discuss goal setting done right.


Let's Say Hello

[00:02:07.010] – Allan

Hey, Ras. How you doing?

[00:02:08.880] – Rachel

Good, Allan. How are you today? Oh, no.

[00:02:13.980] – Allan

Well, anyone that's on my email has kind of got a really deep dive update from me. And there's that drama from those emails is not over. It's continuing and it probably will continue for a while, but I'm working past that and looking forward. But we've just had so much weird stuff happen. We're having a drought in Bocas del Toro, which is happens, it's like the second time it's happened while we were there. So it happened about almost three and a half years ago. It's happening again. If we don't get rain, we don't have water. It's just that simple. We're on an island and it'll collect up water, but then when that water runs out, it's out. We've gone too long without rain. And the city was real cool about continuing to run the pumps after the water ran out, so they filled our tanks up with mud and we had to hire some guys to come out and clean the mud out. And then we bought some water. So we have some water that we bought and the city's trying to run around with trucks and fill people's tanks, but of course, everybody needs some water.

[00:03:15.160] – Allan

So it's literally just this thing and then the timing of it. We're headed to the States as we're recording this for my daughter's wedding, so we're not even there and someone's running it for us. And so it's kind of like, just put her in a spot, but we're going to do what we can to help her manage remotely. But it's just kind of one of those things you're like, okay, just keep kicking me, just keep kicking me. I'll get up. I'm going to keep getting up.

[00:03:38.660] – Rachel

Goodness gracious. What chaos.

[00:03:40.950] – Allan

Yeah. How are things up there?

[00:03:43.210] – Rachel

Less crazy than what you've got going on, but yeah, we're good. We're just closing out the year. Fall is going to turn to winter, and our race calendar is open, so just getting ready for the holidays is all we got. And Mike's surgery, of course. Yeah, everything's just fine.

[00:04:00.780] – Allan

Excellent. Excellent. All right, so you're ready to talk about goal setting?

[00:04:05.350] – Rachel



I'm calling this episode why Most People Fail at Their Health and Fitness Goals. Even if you know how to write a goal using the smart formula, which I'll talk about in a moment, it's very hard to write goals that are going to get you where you want to go unless you're very, very good at setting a goal that is going to work for you. So one of the main reasons that people really struggle with their health and fitness goals is they're just not setting the right goals. They're not thinking through the self awareness piece, and they're not really getting to know what actions are going to give them the best results. So there's always going to be that struggle, am I doing the right thing? But for many of us, we do know the right thing. We know exactly what we're supposed to do or what we need to do to meet our health and fitness goals. It could be, I know that carbs are not going to work for me if I want to lose weight, so I need to eat less carbs. We know that. Or I overeat because I have these little binge parties of snacks that I hit when I get home from work and I'm stressed.

I know I need to do less of that, or I know I haven't really been training as hard as I could or as much as I should, and therefore that's what I need to be doing. And so most of the time and I talk to clients all the time, they're like, I know what to do. I know what to do. I'm just not doing it consistently. Okay. So this won't necessarily solve that problem, because when you set a goal, what you do has to be consistent. That's how the goal becomes a habit in the doing of a goal that makes your habits, that makes your lifestyle. So just realize this won't fix the first problem of motivations and other things. But once you're ready to start setting some goals, you do need to set the right kind of goals. And that's where the Smart methodology or Smart acronym came from. So smart stands for specific, measurable attainable, relevant and time bound. But I propose that the reason people still suck at setting goals is they're missing one letter. So you can call these smart goals two A's or you can put an A at the end and call it a smart A goal.

Okay? Whichever way you want to do that acronym SMAART or Smart A, I'll leave that up to you. But there is an A that we need to consider when we're setting goals, and that's where most people go wrong. Okay? So if you're not familiar with the smart goals, I've covered this before, it's been quite a while. So I'm going to do a recap on that of what smart goals really are.

So a smart goal, the S stands for specifics. So with a goal, with a smart goal, you have to be very specific about what the goal is going to do, what you're trying to do. It needs to be a very specific thing. It can't be, I'm going to improve my health. Okay, that's so nebulous. What, are you going to have better blood markers? Are you going to lose weight? You're basically going to be able to breathe better, have a better Vo2 max? Are you going to avoid toxins and eat healthier food? So you know, you're building yourself with really good quality nutrients? Health is a nebulous thing. You can't just say, I'm going to improve my health, or you can't say, I'm going to improve my fitness.

What, are you going to get stronger? Are you going to get faster? Are you going to be able to run further? Again, fitness in itself can't be a goal because it's just not specific enough. You need something like, I'm going to improve my Vo2 max or I'm going to improve my power output or I'm going to improve my squat. And so you see at that point, you've basically found something that is more specific. So people will set those specific goals, I will lose weight.

And then it has to be measurable. Weight seems to be kind of an easy one, right? We're going to lose weight. I can measure strength by looking at my three rep max or one rep max on a lift. I can measure my increase in speed and endurance by finishing the 5k faster than I did before getting a personal record. So measurable is something where, you know, okay, this is how I'll know I succeeded at this goal. So I measure that goal. I'm like, okay, here's my measurement criteria and I'm specific with that of what I'm trying to measure. Okay? Attainable means it just needs to be within your reach, within reason.

If I said I'm going to get into the NFL. I'm 56 years old. Probably not going to happen. I don't know of any 56 year olds that came back to the game after just playing through high school and were suddenly these crazy athletes that were able to get back into the NFL or the NBA or any professional sport for that matter. And so that just isn't reasonable or attainable for me to think I can do those things.

So attainable is usually something that's just outside of what you have now, but you know, with reasonable effort over a period of time, you can get there. Okay? So no, you're not going to name an actor, actress or whatever that you think has really done a good job with the way they look and the way they are. You're not going to get there. But if you're looking to look better next month, next week, next quarter, you can do that and you can set some measurable things that you'll do to get there. But it has to be within the realm of reality. OK? Attainable.

Now relevant is a really important one that a lot of people skip over.

But I think this one is actually maybe of all the ones in the smart part, this one might be the most important. And the reason I say that is relevance is relevant to you. It's relevant to what you care about. And if you've followed me for any amount of time at all, you know that I'm a big proponent of you having a very big why and a vision. So goals should really just be mile markers to your vision. If it's outside of that, then you're going somewhere else and that's not good. So I'll give you a perfect example of this. I was doing CrossFit and I was enjoying it. And they got into a segment where they started really stressing strength. The coach programmer was really pushing on strength. And I love that. I mean, I love strength. It was only when they did the strength and then they were trying to do the dynamic stuff with the metcons that I started having some issues with CrossFit. But we would start doing deadlifts. And deadlifts are kind of like my Christmas, okay? So I walk in, I see that the water of the day, the workout of the day is deadlifts.

Man, I'm like, cool, this is going to be a good day. And so as I started going, I was like, I want to just increase my deadlift strength. I want to see how strong, actual strong I can get in the deadlift. I started doing that and one day I was doing that workout, doing the deadlifts, and I got really heavy and I surprised myself with how well I did on that lift that day. Now that was the first part of the workout. Later in the workout my back went out and I was in a ton of pain. And then it hit me. I let my ego get in front of me and I was focused on the deadlift and I was focused on that as a goal. But that had nothing to do with what I actually wanted out of my vision. Definitely didn't want to be sitting in the gym a mile from my house with my back killing me and I had to figure out a way to get home, walk home a mile with my back out. Not a cool day, not a cool day at all. But I only say that because that deadlift goal that I set for myself of just getting strong, strong on deadlift, it lacked so much of this.

I mean, it was specific. I wanted to get strong on the deadlift. It was measurable because how much did you lift? It was attainable because I was doing it. It wasn't relevant. It wasn't relevant to who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. It didn't jive with my vision. It was something else. So make sure that your goals are relevant to your vision and then they are the mile markers. When you hit that goal, you know you're moving in the right direction.

Okay, so the T and smart goals is called time bound. And basically time bound just means you set a time parameter for this vision. Could be 20 years from now, it could be 50 years from now. Time bound means it's next month or next quarter. It's literally like just that close. So you can say, I'm going to go to the gym at least 15 times this month and that's your goal. Okay. You could say, okay, by a certain date I'm going to reach a certain weight or a certain gene size or something. I'm going to fit in my skinny jeans by say, December 31. Okay, that's your goal.

And if you're doing the Crush the Holidays challenge, a doable goal, but at the same time it's time bound because you're saying by this date I will do this thing and so that time bound kind of puts a little emphasis on this. It's not like I will fit in these skinny jeans by whenever. There's no immediacy to it. There's no, okay, I got to get this done. It's just not there. So it does need to be time bound so that your measurement makes sense so that you're seeing the results in real time and again, if it's attainable within that time bound, perfect. Okay, you're good. So that's it for smart goals. It sounds really, really good. It sounds like it should work, right? You set the goal, you go and you charge and you start doing all this stuff and it doesn't happen. And you're like, what happened? Why did I fail at my health and fitness goal? And I can tell you the reason why most people fail at their health and fitness goals is they're setting their goals on the wrong things. They're setting their goals on the things they cannot control. So you can control what you do.

You can't control what you do, guys. Okay, so hear me out. I could cut out all bread, all carbs, and my goal is to lose 20 lbs during the month of November, cutting all that other stuff out. I'm going to do all this stuff, and I'm going to lose 20 lbs in November. Fine. My goal is to lose 20 lbs. But I can't make my body lose 20 lbs without action. So the goals are written about the outcome, not the actual actions that have to happen. So if I set my goal to lose 20 lbs and maybe it's great, I start doing a few things. I lose a pound the first week. I'm like, okay, that's good, but that's not anywhere close to 20. I mean, I just did 1 lb in a week. How am I going to do this? And maybe the second week, I lose five. I'm like, oh, great. Now I'm at 6 lbs, but I'm almost halfway through the month, so this can get tough. And then maybe I lose another 6 lbs. I'm like, okay, this is great. I'm 13 lbs down. I got seven to go for this last week. I'm going to push through, and I don't make it.

I failed at my goal. Now, I could be very happy that I lost a 17 lbs or 15 lbs or whatever, or maybe that last week I just crashed and I didn't lose any weight or heaven forbid, I put weight on. But the point being is you just can't make certain things happen because there's biological things that you don't have control over.

So the last letter in the smart goals or the smart A goals is action. What are the actions that you intend to do? And then it puts all the pieces in place. So a specific goal, if you want to lose weight and you realize it's the carbohydrates are your worst enemy, then a specific goal would be I'm going to limit my carbohydrates to 25 grams net so I can have plenty of fiber, and that doesn't bother me. So net grams of carbs, 25 grams, that's specific. It's measurable because I can look at the foods I'm eating. I can give an estimation. And so therefore, I know each day this is the number of grams of net carbohydrates I probably ate. It's attainable predominantly because I know I've done it before. It might be hard, but it's attainable.

People are doing it every day. So it's not like I'm doing something crazy. That's not in the realm of possibility. I can't do it if I put my mind to it. Relevant. Okay. I know that the carbs have caused me issues in the past, and so from a relevance perspective, I know they're going to help me lose weight. So if my intention is to lose weight, because my vision is for me to weigh less, to have more energy, all these other things, then I know this is a stepping stone in that direction. This is a mile marker. So this is really relevant to where I want to go. If I'm losing weight doing this, then it is definitely sending me in the direction I want to be, which is to weigh less and be healthier. Okay. It's time bound. I'm like, okay, every day for a month, I'm going to be like this and see what happens. Okay. Because I can control my actions. I can't control the outcome. Okay. But it's time bound. I'm going to try this way of eating for 30 days and see what happens. And again, all these circles around the fact that my goals are actions, actions I can control.

They're not outcomes that I don't control. So I'm rewriting this acronym to be SMAART or SMART A. Okay. And I want you to remember that when you set your goals, they need to be smart goals, but they need to be actions first. Things you can control. Okay. So as a general recap, I think it's pretty clear there are things that are outside your control. There are things that you just can't do. They're not going to happen. But for the things you know you can do and you want to do and you want to make sure you stay on task, set smart goals, specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time bound actions that you know you can do and you'll be successful.

Post Show/Recap

Post show with Rachel.

[00:17:45.710] – Allan

Welcome back, Ras.

[00:17:47.320] – Rachel

Hey, Allan. This is really timely and I'm sure you planned it this way, but this is the time of year to start talking about goals. And I love that you've added action as a new component to determining what your goals are.

[00:18:00.730] – Allan

Yeah as we go into the end of the year, a lot of people are looking at their weight and their health and they're saying, okay, this is the year. 2023 is going to be my year.

[00:18:08.970] – Rachel


[00:18:09.340] – Allan

And then in their head, they immediately go to the things that we always think about. And a lot of times that's just weight loss. And so they'll say, okay, over this next year, I'm going to lose 25 lbs.

[00:18:22.090] – Rachel


[00:18:22.540] – Allan

And the problem with that is that's not really 100% within their control. And we all know that we ate a certain way when we're younger. We did a diet and it worked. And then now we do that same diet and it's not working. I don't understand. The diet worked before and it's not working now. And the reality of it is you can't control your weight. It's not something you can just set and it happened. You've got to do certain actions. And so most people will set what I call objective goals, like what they want, the outcome of the work that they do. They want that outcome. But that's not how this works. Like, if you are in a business, you say, okay, what do we want to do? Well, we want to double our revenue. Okay. You're not buying your own stuff, so who's going to do that? Okay, so it's like, okay, we're going to have to advertise more. We may rise our prices. You see how there's actions that you can take that will help maybe make your revenue go up? Well, this is no different. You can't control your weight, but what you can't control is your actions.

[00:19:21.880] – Allan

So you can say, okay, I'm going to stop drinking as much alcohol. That's an action within your control.

[00:19:28.450] – Rachel

Yeah, perfect.

[00:19:29.260] – Allan

So you set the goal. I'm going to have only two glasses of wine on Friday and Saturday nights. That's four total glasses of wine for the week. And that's your new goal. That's what you're charging for. And I'm going to do this for the whole month of November. You could sit there and say like that, you could say, I'm going to make sure I get my 10,000 steps or I complete my circles on my Apple Watch every single day. It's specific. You're hitting that mark. It's measurable. Because again, you got the number, you got the circle full. It's actionable. I mean, it's attainable because you've probably done that many steps or done that before. And it's relevant because, you know, increasing your activity level is one of the things that you'll be told that you should do if you want to lose weight. So you're doing all the right things, and it's time-bound because you said for this month or by this time. And so you say you're going to do those things. You might say, I'm going to go to the gym at least 15 times next month. Okay. And you just sit there and start ticking them off.

[00:20:33.260] – Allan

Two, three, four, all the way to 15. And you're successful at your goal because it was in your control. So making them action. I said the word action, but really, maybe a better word would be actionable. It's something you can do. It's not the outcome that you want.

[00:20:49.890] – Rachel

Sure, that sounds great.

[00:20:51.690] – Allan

And that's really where all this comes down. And why I want to add that A to it is because people will write the goal, I'm going to lose 25 lbs, and then the weight's not coming off the scale. And it's so demotivating because you just don't feel like you have control. It's like, I know what to do, but it's not working. But the thing is, if you set goals to be consistent in the doing, your chances of it happening just went up astronomically.

[00:21:17.140] – Rachel

Yes, you mentioned my other favorite word, consistency. And you got to keep at it, doing something every day to improve your chances of reaching your goal.

[00:21:26.770] – Allan

And that's the core of it. And if you tune in next week, I'm going to talk about some things that I think will blend right into this conversation where you're like, oh, wow, now I get it. Now I understand why this weight is not in my control, but my actions are, and that's why this is so important. So stay tuned for next week. It's a very interesting conversation, and I know you're going to get a lot out of it. If you like this episode, you definitely want to listen next week. So anything else you want to cover before we go?

[00:21:55.030] – Rachel

No, this is great. Looking forward to next week already.

[00:21:57.700] – Allan

All right, we'll talk to you soon. 

[00:21:59.730] – Rachel

Take care.

[00:22:00.400] – Allan

You too.


The following listeners have sponsored this show by pledging on our Patreon Page:

– Anne Lynch– Ken McQuade– Margaret Bakalian
– Debbie Ralston– John Dachauer– Melissa Ball
– Eliza Lamb– Judy Murphy– Tim Alexander
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Thank you!

Another episode you may enjoy


November 1, 2022

A fun new look at yoga with Emily Sharratt

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Emily Sharratt is an editor, writer, and qualified yoga instructor. She has been teaching for over seven years, as well as having a regular practice for almost 20. Her teaching method encompasses a wide range of yoga styles, from Vinyasa Flow to Yin. And she considers the final relaxation the most important part of class.

On episode 562 of the 40+ Fitness Podcast, we discuss her new book, Yoga Animals


Let's Say Hello

[00:02:12.940] – Allan

Hey, Ras, how are you doing?

[00:02:15.090] – Rachel

Good, Allan. How are you today?

[00:02:17.130] – Allan

I'm doing good. Crazy busy, but good.

[00:02:21.340] – Rachel

That's good.

[00:02:22.990] – Allan

Yes, we've got our daughter's wedding coming up. In fact, I think this episode I will actually probably be on an airplane to Mississippi where my daughter is getting married. And yes, it's going to be kind of insane the first part of the end of this month and the beginning of the next one because I'm just putting so much into trying to get the Crush the Holidays Challenge thing done. I'm really excited about the structure of it this year. It's a little different than it was last year. All new videos, everything is all new. So I'm like completely almost recreating it from the ground up and it's going to be a lot better than it was last year. So I'm hopeful we get enough people in there. We get a lot of people in there because it's a really good challenge. If you have struggles during the holidays of eating too much, I call it eating season. If you have trouble with eating season. This is a way for you to not lose ground during the holidays by keeping you focused for most of it and then working on Mindset every day, finding something within ourselves that's going to help us get stronger mentally so we can get stronger physically and healthier and all those other things.

[00:03:35.380] – Allan

So you can go to 40plusfitness.com/crush and sign up for the Crush the Holidays Challenge. And then of course the retreat. That's going to probably be almost be planning that probably every day all the way until it goes live in May. But just trying to put some structure to it, understand it so that when it comes time to put it out there and market it that people know what it is and it's not going to be like your. Look, there's a ton of different types of retreats so it's almost everything under the sun. But it's not a boot camp where I'm going to beat you to death with exercise and stuff for five days. There are exercise sessions that are optional, but I encourage people to come. And then we're going to do some movement, we're going to do some things. A lot of that outside, but the other part of it is that we're going to have Mindset discussions and I'm trying to make it as accessible as possible. So I'm going to try to do a broadcast of the first session. So the first session, well, not really the first 1st session, but the sit down session is a Mindset.

[00:04:40.830] – Allan

So we start working through Mindset. And so about an hour and a half, we'll have a live session and I'll have it available online for free. Or you can upgrade to the recordings if you don't happen to be able to listen live each day when it's going to happen, which I think will probably be something like nine to 10:30 or something like that. But a lot of people can't just be online every day or watching zoom every day during those hours. So if you can't, there will be recordings and that will be really cost effective for you to get those. And each day there'll be a thing you're working on with Mindset. I'm going to do a workbook so the whole course thing will have a workbook for you to work through. The people that are here, we're then going to go into it. So there's implementation that happens after the lesson here. If you're at home, you're doing that on your own, but if you're here, we're walking through it.

[00:05:35.950] – Allan

so that's that. And then they'll probably there will be, be a VIP level for the people that are here. The VIPs will get to stay in Lula's, but we only have six rooms. So that's going to be limited to six people in the VIP unless someone is nice enough and two people that know each other or are okay. So we'll just go in and we'll both go VIP together and maybe work out something on that since they're sharing a room, but it's going to be limited to 6 VIPs and they'll get more so they'll have more access to me with some deep dives. They're going to get some awesome additional workout stuff that we'll do each afternoon. They're good to see parts of the island and things we'll do outside that the others won't get to do. And I'm going to throw in a couple of other little cool things to help them with their wellness over the course of that week. But that's starting to line up. I'm going to structure it and get it all organized, but still pretty new. So if you're interested in the retreat, I need to see an interest list.

[00:06:40.750] – Allan

Or at some point I'll just say, okay, I'm doing this for myself and that's not going to be fun to have six empty rooms here in Lula's and nobody here for me to go say, okay, it's time for the morning walk run. It's just not going to be that cool. So I need to see if there's some interest, and if I see that, then I'll go ahead and really get this thing pushing forward. But you can go to 40plusfitness.com/retreat and that will take you to the retreat interest form. You just put your name and your email and that lets me know that, yeah, there's people that are raising their hands saying, I'm definitely interested in the Bocas portion of this, or even if it's just, okay, I may not be able to do the Bocas thing because of travel and passports and all that. You will need a passport, but those things, maybe that's outside the realm of what you want to do or can do. There will be a broadcast of it and recordings if you need those as well. So a lot of moving parts with the wedding. It's also getting into busy, starting to get into busy season here in Bocas with our national holidays.

[00:07:43.320] – Allan

So it's just bang, bang, bang, bang.

[00:07:45.810] – Rachel

Of course. It sounds very busy, but exciting too.

[00:07:49.020] – Allan

Yeah, a lot of new stuff and getting out of some old stuff, which is still very sad, but everything has its chapter to turn the page and move on. So how are things up there?

[00:08:00.690] – Rachel

Great. Mike and I just spent the weekend in Detroit. He and I ran a 1 mile and a 5K race on Saturday and then I ran the half marathon on Sunday and a bunch of our running friends from our run club here did the full marathon on Sunday and it was just a beautiful weekend in Detroit. So we had a great weekend. I'm exhausted from all the running around, but seeing the city was wonderful. It was nice to get away.

[00:08:27.700] – Allan

Good, I'm glad to do that. All right, so are you ready to talk yoga?

[00:08:33.040] – Rachel



[00:08:57.710] – Allan

Emily, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

[00:09:00.370] – Emily

Thank you.

[00:09:02.890] – Allan

I saw the title Yoga Animals and I was like, this is perfect. This takes everything about yoga that would keep someone away from yoga and literally just kind of makes it happen. I've gone to yoga and I can tell you I'm one of the least mobile human beings on earth because I fancied myself as a bodybuilder when I was younger. So my lifting style and the things I did were not functional. They were to build bigger muscles. So I lost a lot of mobility by not being mobile when I had the opportunity to be mobile. Twenty-five years of a sedentary job did its damage as well. And what I like about the idea of these poses being named after animals is when you really think of it that way, instead of some Esoteric name or Indian name or something, it just opens it up. And I'm like, I could see parents or grandparents in their living room doing these poses and their kids just kind of like saying, wow, this is cool, I can do this peacock pose, or I can, there's a ton of different ones out there, but they just all sound fun. And particularly when you say it's an animal, I'm going to do the cat pose or I'm going to do the downward dog or the upward dog.

[00:10:27.060] – Allan

You know, all those poses just sound fun when they're put that way. And so, like, when I did do yoga, it's like I was in a room with a group of people, they were all much more accomplished than I was. The instructor would actually get up and walk over and, like, push down my hips to try to get my legs in the right position. And so it's just kind of one of those things where I knew I needed it, I needed the mobility, but it was just even for me, as someone who was generally fit, it was intimidating.

[00:10:58.600] – Emily

Yeah, I mean, we have tried to move away from that, pushing people down, things like that. It's a little bit old school, but yeah, to say the animal first thing, I think the storytelling element to yoga is a big part of its appeal. I mean, maybe in some cases it's also a bit off, but in a debate, people might prefer the kind of exercise a bit more straightforward. But for me, the storytelling was definitely what kind of enticed me in. And it's why a lot of the movement might overlap with Pilates. But for me, pilates will never quite have the same appeal because it feels a bit more like I'm sitting down or getting on my mat to do the exercises. To do my physical exercises and doesn't have that element of story which I love so much in yoga. Personally speaking. Anyway. But I think it's true of children as well. Children really engage with yoga in a very immediate way. My own children do as well. It's kind of nice to see.

[00:11:56.160] – Allan

Now, one of the things I liked about the book was that you had illustrations in there just to kind of give us an idea of what the pose or the movement looked like, which was really cool. And there were over 30 poses, 32 poses from the wild. Again, it's just something that just draws me into that to enjoy that. But you had those illustrations and I had written down the name of your illustrator, but those are really good and made it a very beautiful book.

[00:12:23.670] – Emily

Yeah, absolutely. Well, actually, there are two illustrations to the book, so there's one who did this stunning, very kind of very realistic, but also very artistic animal drawing to match along with their name, as we say, that's Jade Mosinski. And then the other Jade, the other illustrator, also Jade. Her name is in here somewhere. I hope it's in here somewhere. Jade Wheaton. And she did the kind of step by step illustrations which were really what we were very careful to get right, because obviously they're quite minimalistic in their style. But when you're thinking of people practicing from home without a teacher there supervising and making sure everything done safely, it felt extra important to make sure. So there's quite a lot of me standing back and saying, could you just slightly tweak this? And then sometimes saying, we can't find any photo references online. Could you please do it for them? Whoops. It is in the midst of yeah, in the midst of a lockdown, sort of being at home and getting people to photograph me. Taking this as step by step, it's not so much the finished poses, which you can always find photo references for, but it's the step by step to get into them all.

[00:13:38.100] – Emily

The kind of little bits to match along with my illustrations. That was my instructions. So, yeah, I hope they are useful for people. We certainly took care to get them right.

[00:13:50.200] – Allan

Yeah. And I think that's what's really good about this is you have full descriptions, so even if you didn't have the illustrations, it would work. The illustrations just kind of enhance for those of us that are not visually impaired. It really does enhance our ability to see what that looks like, which allows us to emulate it a little bit better.

[00:14:09.820] – Emily

Yeah, true.

[00:14:11.660] – Allan

So why is yoga a great movement practice?

[00:14:16.910] – Emily

Well, I'm a firm believer that there is a yoga practice for everyone. And I have spoken to a lot of kind of friends and family and people who are a bit skeptical of that notion. They say no, but like you said, almost, I'm really inflexible. You'd be surprised how many people you get saying I couldn't possibly come to your yoga class, so I'm really inflexible and I think that's exactly why you should come to my yoga class. Yes, but then equally you get people who say, oh, they struggle to kind of sit still with you, maybe to get to the meditation side of things. I really believe that you can customize your own yoga practice to suit yourself. And for me, that's kind of fundamentally what yoga is. It's the practice of checking in with your body, with yourself daily and seeing where you are on that given day, in that given moment, and providing yourself with what you need. So for me, my yoga practice is very different from day to day, but maybe some days I just want to sit and do some breath work, a bit of meditation, some very gentle structures kind of achieved for in my body.

[00:15:23.790] – Emily

Some days I might want something more dynamic or something more playful or silly, especially if I've got one on both of my kids kind of crawling over the map. Then it takes on a different tone and I just really believe that. It's a bit like when people say they don't like reading and I say, oh, you found the right book. I kind of feel the same way about yoga that they need to define the practice that suits them and it can look completely different from anybody else's and that's the beauty of it. And I think what makes it really special and maybe different from most other exercise forms I can think of.

[00:15:54.820] – Allan

Yeah. And what I like about it is not only are we building mobility with that we need, but you can also use yoga to build strength. I've been in a yoga class that was all about stamina, kinda weird, but it was yeah, we moved a lot, we held some poses, but we moved quite a bit. So it was an intense little workout, body weight workout. And that's the other thing that's really cool about it is yeah, you'll need a mat probably, and you might want a yoga block, but that's your investment about it. So it's something anybody can afford to do.

[00:16:35.510] – Emily

Yeah, I agree. And that's helpful to have. But as a push, you could practice your yoga with a towel. It's just something to stop you from slipping, especially if you are doing kind of a bit more of a cardiovascular session. It might get a bit sweaty and depending on what's cushion if you're kind of holding for longer. But really it is a very kind of low requirement and something that you can practice on your own. So you don't need gym membership, you don't need personal trainer, you don't need any, generally speaking, would recommend that people do attend some classes, whether it's in person or online, just so they get a bit of a sense of how to practice safety. They have some kind of guidance when they're starting. But yeah, it is incredibly flexible in that way, practicing any corner that you can find a little bit of floor space for yourself.

[00:17:35.740] – Allan

I think one of the reasons that yoga has taken off, I remember 20 years ago, people talk about yoga and it's like, oh, that's that woo woo stuff. It's left the woo woo, and it's now mainstream for sure. And I live on an island, and I could tell you I can't throw a rock and not hit a yoga instructor. But one of the other things that I find very valuable about yoga is that it was really centered on understanding and feeling your body. There's a meditation aspect to it. And you mentioned breath work. I'd like to talk about breath work and what that looks like and why that's important.

[00:18:20.660] – Emily

So, again, in terms of you go back to yoga's roots, breath work is really fundamental. It's one of them. I won't go into all the details of that. I'm not the expert to do so. But there are various kind of limbs of yoga of which physical yoga is only one. So the yoga that we're talking about here really is the practice of having yoga is only one limb of a full yoga practice, and breath work is one. So it's come back there in the fundamentals, but if you just take it in maybe a more kind of media accessible level for those of us who don't have the background in the spiritual scriptures of yoga, it's something that, again, that I think everybody needs. And there's a breath work practice for everyone and for every scenario. And it's something that you don't need to do as part of full yoga practice, especially once you've got into the habit. So I think people often are like, I don't need to be taught to breathe. I've been doing it for blah blah numbers of years. But you'd be surprised how many of us don't breathe. That for what we think of as that yoga breath, that diplomatic breath, right.

[00:19:27.070] – Emily

Kind of down into the lower abdomen, of course. And then when you say that, when you're teaching new students, I say, I do appreciate that your air is not actually going into your belly, but that kind of effects of inflating your belly as you apply the diaphragm and the time it gets fished out, those deep, full breaths. We do them when we are born. We're kind of born being able to do them, but we unlearn them. And I think we can get into especially we have very stressful lifestyles. You get some shallow upper chest breathing and we need to be taught again just for our general health. But it's amazing what it can do for kind of mood regulation. And like I say, it's something that when you've got into the practice of it, first of all, your general breathing is better, but you also have something you can take with you into other aspects of your Life. So. It's something I've used in childbirth. I've used some parenting. Very regular, calming breath. I try to model as well. If I've got a stress of work situation going on, it's that kind of a hard reset, turning yourself off and on again, that you go, okay, let's go back to the basics.

[00:20:47.800] – Emily

And you notice that you feel calmer. You feel more in control. Your heart rate gets slowed. It's a really incredible practice. And there are loads and loads of different yoga breaths which can be used in different ways. Once you've been doing yoga for a while, some of them will start be sort of dropped in quite casually into a yoga instructor sort of parlance. But as I say, it's not even necessarily you don't need to know the names, but how they make you feel is really quite striking. And they're useful tools for all of your life.

[00:21:25.310] – Allan

Yes. And as you mentioned, with kids and stress and things like that, this is actually an off switch to your nervous system going into this fight or flight. So most of us in what's going on today and everything that's going on in our lives spend a lot of our time in this fight or flight mode. And so taking this time to really check in with your body to breathe in deeply, which, again, we have to relearn because we stopped doing it. Stress breathing is chest breathing. And when you sit down and start breathing into the abdomen and you really get those deep breaths, it just slows everything down inside your body. And as a result, you're stressed less. And so it's a huge tool for you to manage your stress. And the cool thing is you can do it anywhere. My boss would call me on the elevator on the elevator up to my boss's office. Because it was almost always bad news. That's corporate life. But it was almost always bad news. So I would just do box breathing in the elevator, just going up to my bosses so that I didn't go in there in a complete fight or flight mode.

[00:22:37.230] – Allan

So I could go in there as calm as I could get. But it was a tool. And so this is a tool that you'll learn as a part of a yoga practice. And you've got that built into the way that you set up these programs, which is quite dynamic. Now, as you look at these poses, the animal yoga animals, you use a mix of vinyasa, flow and yen. Can you talk about what those are? Because I think we get thrown these foreign words.

[00:23:04.050] – Emily


[00:23:04.630] – Allan

And so it just kind of seems like okay. I don't even know what that means. Can you just talk about what those two things are and the value of each?

[00:23:13.170] – Emily

Yes. So, vinyasa I Think It Literally Needs To Be kind Of Put In A Certain way. But Actually The Way I Use It is that It's a flow rather than yin, which is more static and I'll go into more details about yin a minute. But in a yoga session you're quite often hear the instructor say if you'd like to take a Vinyasa and that's the little they mean. That's a sequence in the middle of a sun salutation where you basically flow through top of a plank, down onto your front, up into a cobra or an upper facing dog and then down facing dog. So that's just kind of wrestling through very quickly and people say you like taking a vinyasa now if you want to rest, you can come straight down with facing dog. Really essentially what we're using vinyasa for is a flow of poses strong together and one of the benefits one of the uses for it is that getting the kind of cardiovascular side of things into your yoga practice. Getting the breath going a bit faster. Getting the heart rate going a bit faster. Growing through more quickly. Getting everything moving around the body more quickly.

[00:24:26.220] – Emily

It has a bit of a dance like feel to it as well. So there's just pleasing to the brain in that way and then yin is not part of the traditional yoga system but it's something that is becoming increasingly popular now. I think part of yin is actually what you were just talking about there with the breath work is about a kind of hard reset of an early system. So what you're doing is you're holding a pose for longer. So you might take a gentler variation of the pose to begin with because our tendency from our modern lifestyle is to kind of muscle into the most extreme version of the pose and then hold but that's exactly the opposite skin. That's not what you're supposed to do, you're supposed to be accommodating yourself, maybe using props. We probably use more props in yin than other forms of yoga. So you can have a bolster or a blanket or cushion for like that. You get yourself supported in a pose and they're really only kind of a handful of pose that we really need to routinely in where it's more appropriate. And then you suddenly you hold and you come to your breath and come to look at yin.

[00:25:36.900] – Emily

It might look like nothing very much is happening at all because somebody is surrounded by all these cushions and they're not gonna talk. But actually it can be really challenging because first of all, once you're holding it for longer you start to notice areas of discomfort in the body but also in the mind. That's where your mind starts to get a bit chatty and so it's a really useful practice for flexibility just on a physical level because it's where you can really access those deep muscles and practice the art of properly letting go. It's very good, I would say, on a psychological and emotional level. Again, to kind of give yourself this break and to send this message to your nervous system. There is no urgency. There's no rush. We're resting here. We are not in any danger. We're just going to go deep inside and soften and see where it takes us. And of course, I would always say, and I'm sure any yoga state, if it gets too much, if you're really in a certain way, you're in pain. We don't want pain. But if you're in extreme discomfort, of course you can always come out.

[00:26:43.840] – Emily

This is not being enforced, but it's really interesting to see what comes up, both physically and emotionally. All sorts of things can come up. You might see people have a little cry in a yoga session, yoga session when they emerge from the pose, because it's just released all sorts of things that we hold in these pockets of tension in our body. So that's the kind of difference. And my personal yoga practice and the yoga that I teach tends to include a mixture of both. I might sometimes teach a session that's much more yin based, for whatever reason, or much more kind of restorative yoga, or I might teach them more than one. But equally, sometimes in classes, I incorporate elements of both. Certainly in this book, I incorporate elements of both because I think the mix is really nice and really kind of beneficial for us. And it's what I find the most effective myself.

[00:27:31.990] – Allan

Now, as I went through the book and I was just looking at some of the different poses, I was like, okay, well, that one looks like I could do it. That would take some practice. And I think that's why we call it a yoga practice, because there's some of these I'm like, there's no way. I think that's what's cool about the way you set up the book is now you also give us a structure for how we can put these together, focusing on the ones that we can do and then trying the ones that maybe are right on the edge of our capacity so that we improve. So this is something that can be progressive over time. As you get into your practice and you get better, you can add some of these other more difficult elements. And I think that's great. Can you walk us through the structure? Because you set up a structure, starts with breath work and ends with your final relaxation. So you start in a very nice, wonderful place, and you end in a nice, wonderful place, and there's a lot that happens in between. Can you walk through that?

[00:28:37.540] – Emily

Absolutely. Talking about the structure of the book with the publishes, I said, this is how I plan this is how I literally plan every class that I do. You start with breath work and you end with relaxation. And actually, I would always start with a convincing meditation as well as time allows. So that was part of my training. But for me, this structure is how you kind of say you kind of hit up the key points because it doesn't have a yoga. But for me, you have the option by following through this structure in the book to see what I can do. The most fully rounded yoga session. And you say you don't have to do everything. I think if you do everything, it would take quite a long time. So great if you've got the time to dedicate. But the way I would kind of plan if I forgot half an hour to an hour to myself and I want to do a yoga session, I would always try and start with just some quiet time, just to kind of check in with myself and my body. Some breath work needs to overlap. So again, I find the breath work really helpful way to just get into my body and kind of out of my mind and set the tone for the rest of the session.

[00:29:53.800] – Emily

And then I would do that on the floor. So I would have always come through from my breath work. I've been through cat cow, which is a really nice way of warming up the back. And again, like you've done before with that piece of sedentary lifestyles and sitting at computers on bones. That's probably the first place that we're like. Yes, you need to kind of warm up through the spine and it takes you from facing dog and up to standing. I would always start off my leg sessions quite early on with some sun salutations because they're like a way of warming up the whole body. You might get the breath, you might do some slow, some that's fine as well, but you're warming up all the muscles that prepares you for any other stretching or strengthening you're going to be doing. Maybe get the heart rate up a bit, maybe get the breath a bit faster. And then from some sun salutations, I would move to a standing sequence because it's kind of a natural progression, I suppose. You're still standing and still on your feet, so you move to a standing sequence which might also, depending on the day, it might also go fast or more slowly.

[00:31:00.750] – Emily

It includes some poses that..But the warrior sequence I've got in here to kind of link from Stanley poses and then again, while you're on your feet, you might do a Stanley balance pose. Balance is a kind of famous part of yoga and people get a bit hung up on it, but it is again, this is a way of checking you with where you are at a given day. It's a good way of improving strength and getting the two sides of the brain working together, which is kind of really important for us at all ends of our lives. Then for me, then, when I come down to the floor, so I might start off with a seated twist. We've got half a little bit of fishes in the book. And then got Deer Pose, which is a nice yin, really gentle pile twist option. And then I would move to my forward fold section of the plan. And so there are a couple of really classic portfolios that aren't included because they don't really fit within the animal theme. But you could have like a Paschimottanasana, which is a seated forward fold the legs together is quite famous for a wide legging one.

[00:32:00.630] – Emily

Here we've got butterfly and cow space. So they're good hip openers. They're kind of getting a stretch opening into the back of the body. A folding inwards. For me, forward folds are my personal challenge, I've got really kind of strings safe. So it was a good moment kind of checking in and seeing how I'm feeling about that today. And then you see some hip openers on the ground. So we've got Swan and a lizard, actually and one legged pigeon, frog actually we've got a good few hip openers so it's a good place to come and see them from when you don't forward folds. And then I would move onto my back bends. So they obviously are kind of reverse of the forward folds. You're opening up the front of the body. It's very important that you kind of carefully engage the core, the lower belly to protect the back. So people can be fooling themselves into the back ben because they look really spectacular and might feel really good at the moment, but you have to see the caution. So we've got Seal, we've got locusts actually is a good kind of gentle opener. Camel is a stronger one.

[00:33:13.180] – Emily

And then I move into some inversions and arm balances. So we've got Dolphin, feathered peacock, pro and crane famous ones. Balances blindfold. We've got a good few of these arm balances and inversions. And then I would always do after these, I would always do fish as a nice counterpost. Much chest safe now. And then we start to move to more restorative ones that's kind of cooling it all down. So we've got Rabbit and crocodile and then again, not animals but corpse pose savasana. We would always wind up a class and like I say, it doesn't really matter to me how long or short the session is. I would always make sure I have that kind of cooling down and that calming time, even if you end up for a minute, I think it's really important. So in the book I kind of talk you through a guided relaxation where you're relaxing to pass the body in turn. There are various different kind of formats you can take. But the kind of key thing is lying in illness, pulling your body down, kind of coming back to that breath. That's kind of how I would structure a class.

[00:34:30.790] – Emily

And that's how you can work with the book as well that you can kind of work through and you can shoot maybe one forward fold rather than all of them. One back bend, one hip hop and one inversion and or arm balance. Or as I say, if you love those, you can try them all. The kind of option there to do a nice router session, several. And you can go back up and do something different each time.

[00:34:54.450] – Allan

Yeah. I think it's pretty easy to see that this is going to run you through a full body thing. You're going to be connected to your body as you do these things. And we're really talking about building strength, building stamina, mobility, pretty much all of it at this point. And then again, just bringing yourself down at the end for that final relaxation. Now, I know from the book that your favorite pose is the one legged king pigeon.

[00:35:26.890] – Emily


[00:35:27.700] – Allan

Okay. Which I would aspire to, but that's a long ways off. I'll just say I can't do it. I'm just saying I can't do it right now.

[00:35:38.490] – Emily

It's a work in progress. Yeah.

[00:35:40.840] – Allan

Now let's talk about we talked about mobility, strength and all, but for a lot of us that are sedentary, I mean, office jobs, we're sitting at our desk now. We've got our smartphones. And so we're down there and it's becoming somewhat what a big problem where people's shoulders are starting to round down, their necks are craning forward, and we're just losing posture that we would have had before if we were doing the things our ancestors did of moving around, foraging, hunting, all the things we would do. We don't do those anymore. Now we're keyboard warriors and we're phone warriors. And so that's what we're doing and it's messing with our posture. If we wanted to put together a few of these poses that we could do on a fairly regular basis to kind of offset some of that posture problem, what are some exercises that we could do and what do they look like?

[00:36:36.340] – Emily

So I'll just say, as a general rule, that whenever you're doing yoga, if you have an instructor there, you'll hear repeatedly drop the shoulders down back, drop the shoulders away from the ears. Because as you say, it's just so common place that the shoulders creeping up and back is rounding. But if you wanted to just practice, if you want to take a couple of minutes and just practice a few of these, I would definitely start on all fours as possible with cat cow. The instructions are all there in the book, but it's really coming from that position of all fours. And you move the spine through its range. It's kind of range of spinal flexion and you get really nice delivery rounding into the shoulders in tap. But then you also get the counter movement in cow and just. You know. As I said before, as soon as you do it, I think 90% of us are going to think. Oh. Yeah. You really noticing where the discomfort is back bend is really good for countering that rounding. But as I mentioned before, it's important to make sure you're engaging the core that you're connecting with

[00:37:36.450] – Emily

Your kind of core muscles, your muscles, you're protecting the back. You're not just really it feels like an itch or to scratch and you might fling yourself into it because it feels initially very good, but you don't want to cause any injuries, especially if it's not a fitted or movement. So when working with any of the backbends, and like I said, Lotus is actually a really nice, gentle one, you can do lotus in a more extreme way, but when you're just used to follow the instructions to do it in the book, it can be really gentle. It's a way of working all the muscles in the back in a gentle way, but it's really good for strengthening. So I think strengthening your back as well as opening countering, the rounding is important, but you want to make sure the back is strong. We want to kind of keep the muscles strong, especially as we get older. So you have to say cat cow and Lotus, seal or maybe in the book you go from Sphinx to seal. Sphinx is a gentle version as well. So it's where you come onto your front and you have your elbows under your shoulders and forearms parallel and then sprawling through the collarbones.

[00:38:46.150] – Emily

Drop the shoulders away from the ears and that can be a really nice gentle one just to kind of hang out in. And then finally I'd say maybe crocodile, which is an alternative way to take your final relaxation, but it's prone rather than on your back, so that can be quite a nice one as well. Opening into the back body in a really gentle way. But even if you're just sitting at your desk and you do a few shoulder rotations each way, shoulder, shoulders, up and down. And I know it's really hard, but keep working on kind of lengthening, lifting up from the crown, sending the tailbone down, just to try to make it that you don't have to think about it, but to begin with, you will have to think about it a lot. I think it's really important because it can, of course, later in life, if we're not kind of really thinking about that posture all the time.

[00:39:34.570] – Allan

Yeah, I think it's pretty easy to see that all these names, they sound fun. Crocodile, dog, cow or cat. These are all fun. And so if you're doing this, and you start doing this as a practice and you've got kids or grandkids around, they're going to come play with you too. And I think that just makes us a really special thing that you can share with them. Because one, it's getting you healthier, it's teaching them and they're seeing a great example of someone who's trying to improve themselves and you're just building a better relationship with the people around you that are enjoying this with you. And again, the book does a really good job of explaining how all these movements and poses work so you can just start working your way through it getting better and better because again, it is a practice. There's probably I'm sure there are lots of people that are in yoga that can do all the poses in there and not have a problem with them. I'll tell you, right, I'm not one of those people. But it does give me something to aspire to as I know that, okay, I have a mobility issue and this is a pose that's going to help me deal with that.

[00:40:45.370] – Allan

Or I have a posture issue and these are some poses that have been put together that I can go through and do in a reasonable amount of time. I mean, the posture poses you talked about, literally, you do a warm up and you sit down. I would encourage breath work and then you get into some of these and really do a lot for your posture and probably less than 15 minutes, including your warm up. So really easy and accessible. And the book makes it clear what you're trying to do and where you're trying to go. So I really appreciate that.

[00:41:19.460] – Allan

I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

[00:41:29.740] – Emily

I would say it's finding a form of movement that gives you pleasure. So whether that's the over, whether it's completely different. For me, I was somebody who never enjoyed PE or gym class or whatever at school and I wish that yoga or something had been an option. I wish there had been more options, basically because it was very much about kind of committed to sport, which is not my personal thing. And it really put me off exercise for a long time. So finding something that gives me pleasure, it's not a chore, I might still have to kind of remind myself to do it, but it's something that I always feel kind of better for and I know through perhaps I always feel better for doing. I would say personally, for me, it's important that it fits within your life. So, I mean, by all means, like I say, it gives you pleasure to kind of go really out of your way and go to a friend who's really into figure skating and she goes very far across London in order to do her figure skating because there aren't that many race, but that's fine. But for me, I do a lot of walking because it fits in.

[00:42:35.250] – Emily

I build it into my life and it means it never gets neglected because it's literally how I get from A to B 9, 10. I walk most of my day. I go to work, I drop my kids to nursery. I walk to the train station. I walk everywhere. I also personally, for my kind of well being, a connection to nature. So that's also a big part of this book and how I kind of access what I wanted to talk about in this book was how I think we can feel in our modern lives very cut off from the natural world. But I do account for a lot of popularity of yoga with being that it is about reconnecting to nature in nature's most immediate representative, which is yourself. So you are not set of nature, you are part of nature. And it's reminding yourself of that and reasserting that. And so maybe it's not a yoga practice for everybody, but maybe it's just stepping outside, taking some deep breaths, going to the park. For me, that's a really important part of it. And do yoga outside. So much better. So, yeah, I'd say those are my three personal strategies.

[00:43:49.780] – Allan

Thank you. Emily, if someone wanted to learn more about you, the things you're doing and your book Yoga Animals, where would you like for me to send them?

[00:43:58.170] – Emily

The best place for that is my Instagram account, which is at EmilyTreeYoga. You can also find out more about the book from the publishers. But yeah, so the Instagram account is a good place to go. And there is a YouTube session online that I did go with the book. So I will apply that link.

[00:44:21.240] – Allan

Okay. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/562. And I'll be sure to have links to the book, to Emily's Instagram and to that YouTube video. Emily, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

[00:44:36.280] – Emily

Thank you. Lovely talking to you.

Post Show/Recap

[00:44:44.140] – Allan

Welcome back, Ras.

[00:44:45.750] – Rachel

Hey, Allan. What a neat book. I really would love to get my hands on a copy to see the different animal named poses and what they look like. I personally enjoy yoga, and I have my athletes do yoga on occasion. I wish I did it more often. I need to make it a more regular practice, but I love it. That book sounds wonderful.

[00:45:06.550] – Allan

Yeah, well, I'll name a few more about the cat cow and things like that. Some of these, you'll know, like, you'll know, downward facing dog and upward facing dog. And then there's things like the bee breath and the lion, the camel, the dolphin.

[00:45:23.790] – Rachel


[00:45:24.610] – Allan

The peacock, the rooster, the fish, the rabbit, the frog.

[00:45:29.070] – Rachel

Don't know any of those.

[00:45:30.450] – Allan

Butterfly, I would say. I didn't know half of these either. They resembled other stretches and things that you see out there. I think a lot of us what was weird to me is she didn't do one that I use a lot. And it's the bird dog. Yeah, I use that for core training. Whenever I'm training someone, I like to have that as one of the exercises in the core training because it does so much. I was surprised she didn't have that one in there. But anyway, yeah. And then besides having the exercises in there explaining why you're doing what you're doing. And then how to do it. And having some images of you in that position or moving through that flow. It's just pretty clear and there's a structure to it. Which is what I actually found very exciting about this. Was because you go to a class and then they're just going to say. Okay. Next we're going to do this. And if you don't have a background in yoga, because she's done yoga for over 20 years.

[00:46:30.100] – Rachel


[00:46:30.730] – Allan

And then she's been teaching for seven. So for her, it's second nature to put a workout together and put a yoga workout together, similar to I can sit down and put together a workout, you can tell me what's going on with you and any injuries, and then I can help you put together a workout. That's the skill set that you develop. But she gives you the structure that she uses for you to basically use to start. And so you can say, okay, I need some breath work. I'm going to do something. Sun salutation seems to be something that's non-negotiable in her workouts that's going to be in there. So you kind of go through that process and then it's standing and the different movements and flows and then into the relaxation at the end. But it gives you that structure saying, okay, I can pick and choose. So it's not like a buffet where you just load your plate with everything. You pick a protein, you pick a vegetable, a couple of vegetables, and then pick a starch and then maybe pick a dessert, which we'll just call the relaxation at the end. But you kind of get the idea that makes it very easy for you to go through.

[00:47:35.830] – Allan

And it's a gorgeous book, by the way. I was fortunate enough to be able to get a hard copy while I was traveling through the United States and were able to have it here. So it's something I'm definitely going to incorporate in my mobility work. So in addition to some of the other things that I do, some of these poses are going to be really good for areas where I'm not as mobile as I need to be. And so I'll probably go through that book and I may not follow her structure, but I will definitely incorporate some of those exercises and movements into the mobility work that I am doing already.

[00:48:14.010] – Rachel

That sounds wonderful.

[00:48:15.280] – Rachel

Yeah. I prescribe different yoga videos for my athletes because as runners, we just get so tightened up, especially those of us that don't stretch regular basis as we should. But doing a yoga video, it's very relaxing. And like you discussed, it really does help you to practice your breathing and get deeper breaths in because like you mentioned too, we tend to breathe in a really shallow, inefficient way, especially the more stressed and anxious we get. And taking those deep breaths like you had mentioned is just so relaxing. It just resets the whole system, and that is super helpful for relaxing your muscles after a workout or a run. Like what I do with my athletes.

[00:49:00.510] – Allan

Perfect. All right.

[00:49:02.550] – Rachel

Anything else you want to talk about?

[00:49:03.940] – Rachel

No. Great book. I'd love to get my hands on one.

[00:49:07.110] – Allan

All right. So again, if you're interested in learning more about the retreat and being on the interest list, go to 40plusfitness.com/retreat. And we're doing the Crush the Holidays. It's going to start November 20, so sign up, shuts off November 19. So don't miss your chance to get out there and do that. There's all kinds of prizes and things that happen along the way to include referral, prizes and those types of things. So get in early, get active in the group, get active in what we're doing, and Crush the Holidays.

[00:49:37.680] – Rachel

Sounds great.

[00:49:38.800] – Allan

I'll see you next time.

[00:49:40.180] – Rachel

Take care.

[00:49:40.870] – Allan

You too.


The following listeners have sponsored this show by pledging on our Patreon Page:

– Anne Lynch– Ken McQuade– Margaret Bakalian
– Debbie Ralston– John Dachauer– Melissa Ball
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Thank you!

Another episode you may enjoy


October 25, 2022

The seven circles model of health and wellbeing with Chelsey Luger and Thosh Collins

Apple Google Spotify Overcast Youtube

Chelsey Luger and Thosh Collins grew up actively engaged with their indigenous cultures. Chelsey from North Dakota, and thus from Arizona. Seeing the deep need for health advocacy, they are actively speaking and teaching across North America. Chelsea is a writer and health advocacy it. She is the cofounder of well for Culture. Thosh is a photographer, board member for the Native Wellness Institute and a cofounder of well for Culture.

On episode 561 of the 40+ Fitness Podcast we talk about their book, the Seven Indigenous Teachings for Living Well.


Let's Say Hello

[00:02:15.190] – Allan

Hey, Ras. How are things?

[00:02:17.200] – Rachel

Good, Allan. How are you today?

[00:02:18.970] – Allan

I'm doing pretty good. I had a very productive weekend.

[00:02:23.260] – Rachel


[00:02:24.410] – Allan

And just came out with a lot of different things that I want to do going forward because I'm closing the gym, which is a sad part. But then I decide, okay, I'm going to make good out of that one way or another. I'm working on some things there that I'm not really ready to talk about until after the gym is closed and I get that chapter closed. But as you're listening to this, you missed this. But this week, the special week, we're recording this in the group, the Facebook group we have, which you can get at 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/group. Our challenge this week is called the Braveheart Challenge, and it's about facing a fear, something that you're afraid of, and it's stretching yourself outside your comfort zone and going outside your comfort zone, I've said this before, I don't always live it, but I say it is. That's where things happen. That's where you get better. That's where you improve. That's how you change, is getting outside of your comfort zone. So that's what this week is about. And several people over time have said, well, look, you live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

[00:03:29.440] – Allan

You got a bed and breakfast there got equipment and stuff there. You should do a retreat. And I agree with them. Yeah, I should, but I always have talked myself out of it for one reason or another. But I'm announcing that we're going to do a 40+ Fitness Retreat. On the last week of May here in Bocas del Toro. And so both of our daughters will have been married by that time we'll come back, and we're going to have a one week retreat here in Boca del Toro. The thing is, I can't do it with a lot of people because it just functionally wouldn't work right now. It's not like we have this auditorium or place that we could really host it at this moment. So I got to limit the number of people. So it's probably going to only be about 30 people, and then we'll have to cut that off at some point. Sure, there are a lot of other things I'm going to talk about, and the best way for you to keep up with what I'm doing is to go to 40plusfitness.com/retreat and yes, I'm going to ask you for your email so I can email you the stuff that's going on.

[00:04:36.030] – Allan

So as I start to develop this, because this was just to sit down this weekend and scratch out on a piece of paper, what does this look like? If I do a retreat, what do we do on Monday, what do we do on Tuesday, what do we do on Wednesday? Kind of thing. So I mapped it out for the whole week. Now you're going to travel down here, it's two days down and two days back, so you're going to take off a little more than a week. That's why I wanted to put that out there. A lot of times people say we're doing a retreat next month, and you're like, I don't have time to book airfare and get there next month or two months, and you might even have a passport. So get your passports in order, get on this list, 40plusfitness.com/retreat. I'm going to go first come, first serve, and I'll reach out and I'll say, Are you interested? And if they say they are, okay, here's what it is, and you've got to be on this list because I'm not going to open it up to the public if I know there's people that are interested now.

[00:05:26.950] – Allan

So get on the list, then I'll know you're interested. I'll send you the information as it develops, and then when we're ready to take signups, you'll be the first to know and be one of the 30 people. That will be what I hope is the first annual 40+ Fitness Retreat.

[00:05:42.270] – Rachel

That sounds awesome.

[00:05:43.480] – Allan

Yeah, that's what I've been working on. And I'm also going to redo the Crush the Holidays Challenge.

[00:05:49.480] – Rachel

Oh, cool.

[00:05:50.790] – Allan

Not ready for that yet. I just started on that, so I was kind of brainstorming this retreat, and then I'm brainstorming, and I'm starting to work on getting things together for the Crush the Holidays Challenge. So I've been putting all that together. So that's been a very creative, busy weekend, but I'm doing it.

[00:06:06.760] – Rachel

Awesome. That sounds really exciting. How fun.

[00:06:09.880] – Rachel

Yeah, it would be a beautiful place to have a retreat. That sounds awesome, Allan.

[00:06:14.590] – Allan

Yeah, it'll be right after our busy season. A busy season here runs all the way through Easter, which this year is in April, and then we can finish out our Easter rush, go do the wedding with our daughter Summer, and then come back and have a retreat here with some of our best friends at 40+ Fitness.

[00:06:33.700] – Rachel

That sounds awesome.

[00:06:35.220] – Allan

So how are things up there?

[00:06:36.930] – Rachel

Good, good. Just getting ready for the upcoming holidays. Thanksgiving's around the corner, my favorite eating day of the year. And so we're starting to make our plans for the holiday, and I haven't given an update in a while, probably to the listeners, but as you know, my husband has been battling kidney cancer, and we just found out that his surgery date will be December 8. So he'll have his surgery that he'll lose his kidney that day, and then he'll have some recovery time right before Christmas, so that kind of works out for our family. It'll be nice, a nice, relaxing December for us. So I just want to let you know that that's coming up, and we're pretty happy about it.

[00:07:17.830] – Allan

Yeah. And then he'll be able to go into January and February with the ice fishing and the hunting, and he'll feel a lot better then.

[00:07:24.360] – Rachel

Yeah. Where he's actually making plans. Ice fishing will be great.

[00:07:29.560] – Allan

Yeah. Good for him. I'm glad he's getting this done, and it's working out well for him.

[00:07:35.940] – Rachel

Yeah. Finally. Good news.

[00:07:38.160] – Allan

All right, well, you're ready to talk about the seven circles?

[00:07:41.230] – Rachel



[00:07:43.090] – Allan

Chelsey, Thosh. Welcome to 40+ Fitness.

[00:07:46.760] – Chelsey

Great to be here. Thanks for having us.

[00:07:48.720] – Thosh

Thank you for having us.

[00:07:49.690] – Allan

So your book is called The Seven Circles: Indigenous Teachings for Living Well. And there's so many good things I can say about this book, and we're going to get into some of those. But I think one of the things that really kind of struck me was there's a saying out there about, like, one of the biggest curses is to be the smartest person in the room. And you guys put yourselves in situations where you are not the smartest person in the room. And you did it many times, talking to some really intelligent and people who have just been around and understand the Indigenous life, and they remember the lessons from their grandparents and their great-grandparents, and they shared that with you. And you took all of those great learnings and melded them into something that is beautiful.

[00:08:37.990] – Chelsey

Well, thank you. I'm so glad that that's what you got out of it. And indeed, one of the first things that we always like to acknowledge is that our knowledge is not our own. We grew up in our communities. We grew up amongst our elders, amongst spiritual leaders and political and cultural leaders, and who have just been so generous with their knowledge. And so we just feel really grateful to be able to share it in a new way.

[00:09:05.020] – Allan

And I think the other thing that's interesting is both of you are from different parts of North America, so you bring your own kind of dynamics to it. But you didn't just stop there. You reached out across all the spectrum of what's out there and acknowledged that there's not, like, one teaching, there's not, like, one thing that permeated everything. But you found these threads of commonality, and you kind of use them to stitch up what this whole Seven circles thing is all about. It encompasses bits of all of them, but not any one of them really dominates the way that you approach this, because you saw wisdom across the spectrum.

[00:09:46.690] – Chelsey

Absolutely. So there are seven different areas of our health and of our lifestyles that we feel our ancestors really exemplified in their lifestyles and that Indigenous teachings continue to find unique ways of explaining. And so while much of the wellness conversation is focused specifically on food and fitness, which are two very, very important pieces of it, and those each are a circle, there are also these other pieces that we've identified. And the main point is, though, that all of these are so interconnected, you can't remove one from the other. And when we created the seven circles of wellness, we were seeing that almost every other wellness model or book was organized by lists or by pillars, without necessarily visually connecting these. And so we just found it really important to actually show this model where they were all visually connected.

[00:10:48.400] – Allan

Yes. The word I like to use is matrix. It was really a tight model because I think people know that, as if you have a bad food day, you're probably not going to sleep very well and suffer some other health consequences. So it really does show how all of these work together, Symbiotically, to build a model of health.

[00:11:08.360] – Chelsey


[00:11:09.300] – Thosh

Yeah. And you mentioned that we're from different parts of the country, and my people come from what is now known as Arizona. I was born and raised on the Salt River cuca community. It's a reservation right outside of what is now known as Scottsdale Phoenix area. And a lot of what we put into seven Circles, as Chelsey said, is what we learned from in our community is what we are raised in, and some of it is knowledge and information that we are putting back into practice that we've only heard mentioned and that hasn't been practiced. And that's really happening all across Native communities, native American communities in the United States and also First Nations communities in Canada. We have aspects of our precolonial indigenous life ways that we have revitalized and preserved and are applying it today and to help us to be in thriving health and to reclaim our health. And that's what the seven circles are. Sleep, food, movement, ceremony, sacred space, connection to land, and connection to community and people. So in all seven of those areas, there affect our spiritual, physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. And so we see that those are the seven aspects that have allowed our people in precolonial times to live in thriving hell, to survive the harsh climates that they did, and to really thrive and to pass down the knowledge and information to our generations today.

[00:12:33.180] – Thosh

So we believe it's a model that's certainly suitable for all people from all walks of life to utilize. It's sort of like a template. And people can use whatever cultural context that we raise in to zoom in out these areas, to find out how they can bring balance, restore balance and harmony with their overall health and see themselves connected to the land and connected to the community around them.

[00:12:55.170] – Allan

I do want to dive into a few of these circles while we're on here. We can't obviously get into all of them. That would be a very long episode. But there are a few that I want to touch on because obviously I can't get off of a podcast without talking about movement because I'm a personal trainer and I'm also a nutrition coach, so I can't leave a call without talking about nutrition and food. So there are some others I want to talk about. But there was one thing you brought up. This is a quote that was in the book. And I want to read this because I think this is really important for someone to understand what this model does for you. Okay? “Engaging with the Seven Circles of wellness is not a crash diet or new year's resolution. This is a sustainable, long-term everlasting cycle of seeking health and wellness that you have already been participating in, whether you know it or not.”

[00:13:45.110] – Chelsey

Yes, absolutely. There are so many people out there who are practitioners of health, who are exemplifying wellness and demonstrating leadership in these different areas. But it's just that sometimes we're not seeing that. We're not giving ourselves credit for the way that we're keeping our home and the way that we are taking care of our family members and the way that we are getting good rest at night, really on a good routine with our circadian rhythm. All of these different areas of our I mean, there's dozens of things that people do for their health that they're not even realizing are really important. And so if they can continue to do those and in addition, find a modality of movement or a way of connecting to a good way of eating that works for them, then we're looking at a really nice, balanced lifestyle. And sure, we're going to fall in and out of balance in all of these different areas on pretty much a daily basis. I have a bad cold right now. I have gotten pretty bad sleep the last couple of nights, but I'm not going to sit here and beat myself up over it.

[00:14:56.820] – Chelsey

All it is, is just acknowledging, okay, I see that I have a cold, my health is out of whack, and I know that it's a cycle and that there are steps I can take to get back to that place. And when I have those seven circles in front of me, it becomes very easy for me to identify which of those areas am I neglecting and can I once again address so that I can feel some semblance of balance again? So it's just a constant cycle. It's in and out. It's ebbing and flowing. And we're all participating in that.

[00:15:30.360] – Thosh

Yeah. And we like to share that. Viewing these changes like a change of relationship to food or finding a modality of movement that works for them, we encourage everyone to see this, to view this as these are life ways. It's a way of life that you're finding it. You're constantly evolving. You're constantly learning. And that there's no finish line. Right to healing and health and wellness. That it's never a finish line to where finally you get your A1C down to a manageable range. And then you think.

[00:16:00.600] – Thosh

Oh, I can eat whatever I want now. Or I've gotten my PR deadlift to a certain number and. Oh, that's it. I can just stop training that from there. I've accomplished that goal. And we always try to encourage everyone that we are constantly evolving. And we look at all these aspects. These are a way of life in whatever way we choose as far as our sleep habits to modes of stress relief such as meditation or food waste or whatever modality movement. It should be something that we could adhere to, it can adhere to for longevity. How long can we do this? It should support that, I believe.

[00:16:36.310] – Allan

The way I look at it, and this is some of my background, I was an auditor, so of course this is the way I'm going to look at it is this sort of like a self audit, like you're looking at your life from these seven prisms, these seven directions. Because that's the model's kind of built in a circle around you. And you literally go out, look and say, how is my movement practice? Am I doing the best I can for myself there? How's my food? How's my sacred space? And so you kind of can look at yourself from that holistic way of saying, okay, I'm doing well, here I could do better there. This is not, at this point in my life, all that important relative to some of these others. And so in the book and this is not a test, because I know when you write a book, you wrote this maybe a year or two ago, but you gave an example, and I think it was a really good example, and I'm sure you could come up with something similar. Like, you talked about a man who was 40 years old and where he was in his life at that point.

[00:17:33.330] – Allan

And then you flashed forward to when he was an elder, which I would guess was probably in his 60s or 70s, and everything had shifted in his seven circles, but he was still living the right life because he was still true to where he needed to be. Can you kind of talk about how that works for someone? Because there are folks that listen to this show that are in there somewhere in their 30s, but there's in their 40s, some are in their 70s and 80s. So for someone who's looking at how to apply this to themselves, can you kind of give us some examples?

[00:18:08.060] – Chelsey

So a life of wellness is not something that we only find in our youth. And that's why I absolutely love the concept of your podcast in the first place. I just have to say that because isn't it unfortunate that the idea of 40 plus fitness is novel or unusual to so many people, but in reality, we can continue fitness and healthy eating and connection to land and all of these different circles until the day we die and our ancestors exemplify that, and we can reclaim those practices today. So, yeah, in the example that you're talking about in the book, we share a scenario of a man, you know, that when he's 40, he's really thriving in you know, I don't remember the exact example,

[00:18:57.780] – Allan

That's what I said, but it's not a test. It's not a test.

[00:19:01.160] – Chelsey

He's really thriving, I think, in movement because he's getting his exercise and he's thriving in sleep because he's getting his good 8 to 9 hours of sleep every night. He's neglecting his connection to land a little bit because he's having trouble finding time to get outside. He's neglecting his sacred space a little bit because he's got young kids and it's been really difficult to keep his yard trimmed and to keep his house tidy and stuff like that. But he's aware of that and it's in his mind and he's working toward it. Those are just some examples. And then by the time he's an elder, his food circle has really grown and is really healthy because when he was 40, he started to learn how to plant and how to grow food. And so by the time he was of elder age, he was not only in the habit of that, but he was an expert and a person who others would come to for guidance in how do I re-establish a relationship to food. And so that just shows that we have different seasons of life. We're going to show and exemplify wellness and health in different ways in those different seasons.

[00:20:08.530] – Chelsey

And it's okay that that changes as long as in general we are aware of these seven circles and we're doing our best in those different areas and allowing them to grow and change.

[00:20:20.680] – Allan

Now, the way I think that happens, and you can correct me if I'm wrong is that's a part of the fact that this is a cycle and the cycle is learn, engage, optimize. Can you talk a little bit about how that cycle works and how that allows us to continue to be good at what we're good at and then be aware of where we need to grow?

[00:20:42.560] – Thosh

Yeah. And that's what we've outlined is that as you mentioned, learn, engage, optimize. And learning is that phase of life where learning to implement these new life ways we are exploring, we are talking to people, knowledge keepers. We're maybe reading the scientific evidence associated with each of these circles right here that teach us a little bit more about that and then engages. We are being proactive with implementing this. We're implementing all these practices. We're seeing what works. It's the trial phase. We're seeing what works. Maybe if someone is incorporating different methods of fasting and they are trying different what does it help you to fast for an extended twelve hour window or do you have a small four hour fast? Are you cutting off eating at a certain time? They're discovering, they're discovering various modalities of movement. Maybe they're discovering different things on the land like learning to forge some food, plant, hunt, fish exploring these things right here and finding community, finding a community to be a part of to do these activities with that support this way of life. And then to optimize as they've already discovered that you've done the work and you've discovered what's working.

[00:21:50.160] – Thosh

You're able to experience the benefits of these changes in the lifeways. You're able to experience, you're able to even report changes just anecdotally on how you feel or maybe even it's reflected in all of their biometrics. Maybe their insulin sensitivity improved, maybe their cortisol went down. Maybe their LDL HDL levels have improved because they've incorporated more exercise and changing the way they're eating and maybe experiencing less stress because they found some modality of stress reduction meditation of some sort. So that's that optimize section right there and now they're able to teach that and share and be able to incorporate others into that journey so they can learn as well.

[00:22:31.630] – Chelsey

Yes, and the key too as well is that at the end of the optimize there is no end. So I'm sure you know this very well is the more you know, the more you know, you don't know. So the beautiful thing about that optimize section is now because you've been learning and engaging and practicing all these different areas for so long, you're like, okay, now I want to know even more about this, this, and this. And I want to really hone in and really become an expert in these areas. And after the optimize section, the learning continues.

[00:23:06.460] – Allan

Yeah, and we're changing too. That's the other thing that's going on as we get a little older, the things I did when I was 40 or 30 or 20 aren't in my best interest right now. So it's a relearning of what is it like to be in the mid 50s and how I should train, how I should eat, how I should live my life. And all those different Seven Circles is just you have to be looking at them and understand that you get older, you have to change your ways to fit your new living environment.

[00:23:36.070] – Chelsey

Yeah, absolutely.

[00:23:37.500] – Thosh

We love that. That's your interpretation of that, too. And that's what we would hope for, because we know people probably see us on 40 she's in 30s. People probably see, oh, this is maybe something only for young people. Well, and I'm glad that you were able to view the utility in all cycles of your life, all stages of your life. And that's what we hope for. And that's why Seven Circles isn't a circle, it's circular. Just like everything in our world moves in cycles and circulars, even down some very molecular level that we are made up of. Everything is in cycles, everything is circular. And so we're constantly evolving, and we just each new phase of life, we're finding out how can we adapt this modality to serve our needs here and there.

[00:24:15.750] – Chelsey

Yeah, and I know for ourselves, like, something that's really important is like, we recognize we're in an early season of our marriage, for example. We've been together for ten years and married for three, I think. And we're in an early season of parenting. We have a one year old and a four year old. We know that there are going to be so many changes and shifts in our lifestyle, but rather than viewing it, which unfortunately, so many Americans view when I'm 80, not even just 80, people think that when they're 30, they can't be fit anymore or they can't exercise anymore, or they can't be healthy anymore in the same way. What we see is not that we can't do these things, but that we're going to be doing things differently, and that it's not better or worse, it's just different. And that's great.

[00:25:12.040] – Allan

Now you have one of the seven is movement, and you had a statement in there that movement is not fitness. And I think the reason that that resonated with me is because fitness has kind of become this look. Do you look fit? Do you have that thing? You see the CrossFit? Who's the fittest man and who's the fittest woman on earth. And I'm like, no, they're just the best exercisers. And to me, fitness is like fit for task. And so as you say something so if I want to grow my own food, well, I'm going to have to get down and touch the earth and I'm going to have to get back up as I get older, I don't want anyone to be put on by me. So when I'm 105, I want to be able to wipe my own butt. And so there's this kind of these things that you go through and say. So when you say movement is not fitness, can we kind of dig into that a little bit?

[00:26:12.600] – Thosh

Yeah, absolutely. Movement, we like to use that term because when you do say fitness for people that haven't yet adapted any sort of like movement routine into their life, that can be intimidating for some people. And we find that too, because our work is in within our Native American communities where we are experiencing lots of collective grief and historic trauma. Sometimes that prevents people from moving and then from there we see the prevalence of certain health disparities, which lack of movement is not the symptom that goes deeper than that. But what we see is that maybe some have not discovered movement in a way that appeals to them. Maybe the fitness gym culture is intimidating for many people and I can understand why. I can certainly see why. So we say movement because what we do, what we believe is it encompasses everything from swift walking to dancing, free movement, weight training, functional training, yoga, CrossFit, any sorts of conventional sports, combat sports, working with the horses, canoe culture. There's movement that comes in many different, many different modalities and we always share with people. It's important to discover what's the movement that you're going to be continued to be excited for and that you're going to continue to experience benefit.

[00:27:31.260] – Thosh

You're going to improve muscle metabolism, you're going to improve cardiovascular health, neurogenerative health, and you're going to allow that release of anxiety and stress through all the fuel good neurotransmitters that become present once you start to exercise and put yourself in a little bit of discomfort. We encourage everyone to discover what modalities, one that excites them.

[00:27:53.660] – Allan

Now, as you got through the model and you get into the point where we're looking at optimizing, and I think for a lot of people, they want to know, OK, why is this important? And you went through in each section a section that said, how this section heals? How this.. So in movement heals? There were dozens, so we don't have time to list all of them, but give us just a couple of examples of how movement heals.

[00:28:19.010] – Chelsey

Well, one thing that's a big one for me is mental health. So movement helps, it's a guaranteed boost of endorphins, it's a guaranteed ease of anxiety. For me, I know that when I step into the gym to lift some weights or when I get onto my yoga mat to do some stretches and Pilates, I will experience that boost in mental health that I might need for that day. And it's a way of feeling accomplished. It's a way of feeling like you then I see it almost as a clearing of space in my mind because I've moved my body and I've got my blood flowing and I've got my energy up. Okay, now I can go and be a better mom. I can be a better practitioner of my work. I can get these emails done, I can do these annoying logistical things. I can clean my house. Movement is a big one for mental health.

[00:29:18.040] – Thosh

Yes. And we share that the seven circles, they're all interconnected, meaning that they also overlap so many times. If you are looking at food waste, like the circle of food we have that if you zoom into that, that can be broken down as farming the land. And that's something that where I come from, people in Arizona, that's what we did in pre colonial times is we farmed the irrigated, various melons, various varieties of beans and squash and corn and they forged. So that we meant taking many steps, thousands of steps per day on the land, foraging, hunting, all that kind of stuff. And so if we overlap that circle of food and movement, we will see right there that also comes into play as the circle of community because we are on the land doing things with those that we love. So, like in our family, for instance, we have one and a half acres that we grow food on and it requires us to get out there with our tools, our shovels and picks and everything and go to work. And I like that aspect of it because I'm able to do that and I have motivation and empower to do that because I also exercise for these sorts of life ways.

[00:30:27.930] – Thosh

Like my own personal fitness regimen is to support me, to be doing things on the land that are going to support my lifestyle, such as acquiring a food, doing stuff with family, being able to maneuver on the land. And so there's how we see how movement heals us because we are allowing to be out on the land to do those things, to produce food there to do with people. And it's nutrient dense food and it's cultural significance sustainably sourced. And so the way I see it is that movement should complement all these other aspects of your life. It should make those easier. And that's why I believe that each movement modality or each movement practice will vary from person to person.

[00:31:07.610] – Chelsey

Yeah. And then of course, there's so many of the scientific benefits and the medical benefits as well of movement which are just myriad and touching back to what Thosh mentioned there about community. Like I know even as a family, as a little family of four. Movement is at the center of our recreation. It's at the center of the fun and the joy and the laughter that we have with our two little girls. And we hope that it will continue to be in many ways, it's at the center of our marriage as well. Because while there are lots of sure, sometimes we like to go on date night and go out to a restaurant, but at least as often we like to do, you know, maybe we'll go on a hike together or we'll do some weight training together in the gym. And it's a great way of bonding and having goals and a shared interest in something that goes beyond the superficial. So movement is just such a powerful tool for connecting family and marriage and community and connecting to the land and getting better sleep at night. And it really is medicine. Movement is medicine.

[00:32:18.630] – Allan

Now, I can't leave the movement conversation without talking about the seven basic movement patterns that you had in the book because I do think these are kind of important because everybody is going to have their favorite. My co host, Rachel, she's a runner. She'll keep running and she runs and runs. She also lifts weights and does other things. I'm more of the weight lifter, but I also kind of have my endurance bits, just not like her. So I think people will gravitate to the things they like the best, which are often the things they end up also being the best at. But can you talk about the seven basic movement patterns?

[00:32:53.660] – Thosh

Yeah, and that's something that we just kind of learned from functional training and just from other trainers we've worked with and just our own learning of learning about and what's the best way for us to move the body and that's one thing we learned about is incorporating squat movements, hip hinge movements, lunging, pushing, pulling, rotating in a gate, such as you mentioned running. My thing is I love to sprint. I don't have that much time these days to run distance. I did growing up because I come from a community of runners historically, where people were runners, and we still do today. I just don't have a whole lot of time with our children as young as they are in our work, as busy as they are. So I like to get my cardiovascular endurance in through training on the heavy bag or getting in some sprint intervals. But we always share with people is that if you're looking for just overall longevity and you're looking for just functionality that we can look to structuring your regimen around, maybe I'm doing a circuit where I'm incorporating a lunge movement, a hip hinge movement, and then maybe I'm doing a rotate movement.

[00:33:54.790] – Thosh

And then the next one I'm doing pushing, pulling, and then maybe incorporating a squat movement and maybe I'm ending it with a jog around on the block or whatever, but we always also encourage that. Look at your session. Are you doing are you straight training today? Are you training for power? Are you training for muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance? And I believe that those are good, sort of good little templates to kind of abide by and to help someone who may feel overwhelmed, especially on social media or seeing all these different types of workouts and people who are not as aware of the body at a physiological level may feel overwhelmed at what to do. But I think that the seven basic movements and very specific system of power agility, strength, mobility, flexibility, speed, endurance I think that it's quite simply putting those together and that's a really simple template to kind of keep us on track.

[00:34:49.840] – Allan

And it does sound kind of intimidating if you're not from this space. So I totally get that as well. But that's where your learn, engage and optimize cycle really kind of comes to play. It's like, okay, I'm going to learn more about strength training because I know I'm not as strong as I need to be or I know that my mobility is not as good as it needs to be. So I need to learn more about how to be more mobile. Maybe it's a Pilates class or a yoga class or just some stretching that you're doing off of a video you see on YouTube. But you're learning, you're trying, you're engaging and then you're optimizing. So it may seem big, but they say, how do you eat an elephant one bite at a time, take that bite and try it and then move on to the next one.

[00:35:35.890] – Chelsey

Exactly. What I love is self empowerment. I love the concept of we can teach ourselves to be our own experts. And as beneficial as it has been for me, and as much as I love the fact that I can go on YouTube and copy step by step thousands of different workouts that are out there and available to us and that is how I've built my own movement practice in many ways is by using the Internet and by using books and by going to classes. At the end of the day, there's also going to be a time where I am waking up in a hotel room because I'm at a conference and I've got 20 minutes and I need to move, otherwise I'm not going to get any movement in for that day. And if I have spent a lot of years and a lot of time learning these seven basic movements and having some idea in my head of this arsenal of very basic workouts that I can do without necessarily needing equipment and without necessarily needing a video or a trainer in front of me. Then that makes me that much more likely to engage in a movement practice on a daily basis.

[00:36:42.790] – Chelsey

Or if I'm in the airport and I've got 20 minutes and I'm sitting there at my gate? What can I do without having to break into a full sweat and have my equipment with me? But can I do at least something? And so those are those spaces where I think so many of us could benefit from is incorporating movement throughout our day in a seamless way. And I think that that's where the seven basic movements really helps people.

[00:37:08.440] – Allan

OK, the next one I want to work on is food. Obviously, as a personal trainer, nutrition coach, I have to talk about food. And I'm going to come back to sacred places because I do want to talk about that. Now, you had something in the book. It's one of those things that sometimes you're reading and you're reading something and in your head it's like they're saying something deeper and it's not what's in the words, it's what the words represent. You know what I mean? And so you were saying that you started talking about the term colonization and I was like so I started thinking about them, like, yeah, fast food colonized our main streets and avenues and then processed food, colonized our grocery stores and almost take them completely over. We're at this point where in all this happened not to benefit the people, it was for profit and growth. It's sort of like your stories, your history. We're being colonized now and we're not even where it's happening.

[00:38:06.190] – Chelsey

Yes, that's what we always say for sure is that Indigenous people aren't the only people who are being impacted by colonization, by colonization of the land and of our food systems and of water sources and the infiltration of a sedentary lifestyle. Like, everybody is impacted by this. Today, one in three Americans are diabetic and more than that are on their way to being diabetic in the next ten years. I mean, these numbers are scary and they are staggering. And we are obviously all being impacted by this system. And it's really up to us as individuals and as families to take it into our own hands to try to find some way to improve our relationship to food once again and to take that as seriously as we take going for our annual doctor checkups and any other piece that we do for our health.

[00:39:07.920] – Allan

Now, in the book, you did share seven actions that we can use to strengthen our relationship with food. Could you get into those?

[00:39:16.010] – Thosh

Yeah. Again, we always use a lot of historic reference and when we look at how did our people, as Indigenous people, how do we acquire food? They're really all people across the world. How did they acquire food before the industrialized era, before globalization, before the commodification of resources? How did we acquire food? And that was one is that our people had forged people forged food. People hunted and fished. People had grown food people had planted. Even before industrial agriculture, cultures around the world were farming. They were farming. And that's what we look at with a lot of our native cultures right here in what is now known as the United States is that that's how we acquire food. And in a spiritual sense, our people had always eaten with gratitude. We always had spiritual practice associated with our food waste. So there were ceremonies of giving thanks when the food was harvested, whether it was the plant, whether if it was an animal, even if it was seeds that we planted or we forged from the land. There was always words that were recited to give thanks for that food source because we've always seen ourselves not separate from what they call nature, but a part of the land.

[00:40:24.780] – Thosh

We are a part of this interconnected inextricably connected network of living organisms. As human beings, we are part of that. And we have these foodways that we engage in right there. So there's those four foodways right there. There's the hunt, fish, porch, grow, give thanks. And then today we've added the grocery store. Like shopping smart, being able to navigate the grocery store and find out what foods are right for you that are within the grocery store, what foods are there that you want to support? Maybe some people are conscious consumers and they want to reduce their eco footprint. Maybe they want to support ethically sourced foods so that's where they can make those choices, in the grocery store. And then cooking, getting familiar with cooking if they haven't already cooked before. And we encourage everyone to learn to cook. We love to cook. We're always cooking several times a day in our home. From our cultures, it was always looked at as cooking was like a ceremony that you're supposed to be having a good heart and a good mind as you're preparing this food right here and you're serving that food with love and it's going to nourish people.

[00:41:24.910] – Thosh

And then the other is for breastfeeding, right? And I'll let her talk about that too. Is honoring, acknowledging breastfeeding is the first food of the baby. And that's something that's a big part of our cultural upbringing as native people.

[00:41:36.720] – Chelsey

Yes. And with breastfeeding, we always say we support and encourage any way that a parent is able to feed their baby. So whether they prefer formula feeding or pumping or breastfeeding, it's really up to them. But in general, what we've observed is that those who do want to breastfeed don't always feel safe or comfortable or are given the time and the space to do so in relation to their career in their workplace. And so breastfeeding as a part of those seven actions means just like not only to be a breastfeeding mother, but to support breastfeeding mothers in being able to feed their baby that way if that's what they choose, because there are so many nutritional and emotional benefits to it.

[00:42:17.140] – Thosh

In the way we see it, it's the baby's first food. And that's what gets a child set on a path to eating nutrient dense, whole food. And we always honor the beginning in our cultures, we honor the beginning of that.

[00:42:29.440] – Chelsey

Yeah. So those are the seven actions that folks can take to restore what we say is the relationship to food. And what we know is that not everybody is going to do all seven of those. It's okay if you're not a hunter. It's okay if you're not growing a field of corn, beans, and squash in your backyard. Some people simply don't even have the space for that or the technology or the knowledge that they have to do that. And that's fine. What we hope is that there's at least one in those seven that everybody can connect with. And we know that, for example, we can all center gratitude in our relationship to food. We can all view food as a lifegiving entity that nourishes us spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, and viewing it beyond what it has become, which is sort of this commodification and just this object that lives on a grocery store that has no life outside of that. Really, once we reestablish that relationship to food, we can begin to center it in a way that promotes the improvement of our health.

[00:43:35.860] – Allan

Yeah, well, they process the life out of it. So closer you are to where it's coming from, the better. And so hunting and foraging and growing your own is definitely going to serve you a lot better than being beheld in what the grocery stores and the food industry wants to serve today.

[00:43:54.260] – Chelsey


[00:43:56.960] – Allan

So let's go back to sacred Place, because we've talked about home basically making it a good place for you. And a lot of times we talk about our home gyms. That's always fun. You guys have a home gym as well. You turn your garage into a home gym, but it goes deep. And also we talk about toxins because if we're bringing certain cleaners into our home, obviously that's not serving us. But the term sacred space and the way you use it is a lot deeper than just physical.

[00:44:26.060] – Chelsey

Yeah. So we encourage everybody to view their home as a sacred space or any place where they spend a lot of time really in your office. And what that means is it's not religious. It means having reverence for that space. It means recognizing the ways that your surroundings impact the way that you feel and the way that you're able to perform your duties as a human being. When our space feels right and when our space feels important and put together and that it makes sense, then the whole world around us is making more sense and we're able to again move forward and carry on and do the rest of our duties. The first thing that Thosh does when he steps into that garage gym, as he sweeps it out, he wipes down the surfaces. He makes sure that things are in order before he takes the tears it up and then does his really intense training session in there, and then and so on and so forth. And so, you know, sacred space is making your home a place that facilitates well-being

[00:45:34.060] – Thosh

yeah, anywhere where we learn, where we eat, where we live, where we laugh, where we love, where we do any of these things together, not just solo, but together with people that we love. These are sacred spaces because they contribute to our overall health and wellness, our feeling of connectedness, our feeling of being empowered. And for us, that's what sacred is as native people, when we're using English language, the word sacred, that's what it means to us. Anything that really is important that contributes to essentially our health and wellness. And one of the first things I do in the morning, too, especially in the summertime, the warmer times season, when the sun comes up earlier, is that when I get up, like around five or 530, the first thing I do is open the windows to the living room and intentionally let that morning glow in, the morning light in. And I'll sit there and let that come into my eyes and to kind of help me get started for the day and visualize the day. And sometimes, if I'm not too much in a rush, which I'm working on, I'll do my meditation if my coffee steeps, but sometimes I'll have my coffee and I'm just visualizing the day.

[00:46:35.010] – Thosh

I'm thinking about how I want this day to go, and I'm visualizing everything being executed in that laying down at night again. But I let that sunlight come in. And that's what we do in our home now. We let the sunlight come in. And that's what a lot of our spiritual leaders in our communities have always told us, is to make sure that we let the sunlight come in and let the healing come in. Do positive things in your home, have laughter, play beautiful music of good high frequencies, also sing in the house, have family time, prayer time, ceremony time in the home. And it invites a really positive energy into the home and contributes to our health and wellness.

[00:47:09.640] – Chelsey

What I encourage the listeners to do is think about a person in your life whose home, when you visit that home, or maybe it's from your childhood, maybe it's one of your grandparents, when you walk through that door, you're just at peace. You're just, wow, like there's something rich here. There's something that feels very comforting and just very inviting about the presence and the way that that person keeps their home. Is there a smell? Is it because of the way it's arranged or the colors that are used, or because there's so much natural light, or there's this great smell of food cooking or something like that? Think about that home and try to emulate that. And one thing that you'll notice is it's not necessarily going to be the biggest home. It's not necessarily going to be based on a specific location. It could be anywhere. It could be any size of home. It's really just about the love that goes into it. So we encourage folks to just put love into their home.

[00:48:09.190] – Allan

I think, as you were saying, that one of the things that struck me was I thought about my grandmother and grandfather's house and how safe I felt there. And I'm like if you had measured my cortisol level when I was at grandma's house, right there, you're already got a health benefit just by having that feeling when you're in your place.

[00:48:30.260] – Chelsey

There you go. And you know what? And I do think that some of this, just like anything else, I think that sacred space is one of those pieces of health that inevitably is actually going to improve as we get older. Like, I haven't quite figured out that formula yet for just how inviting and how great my grandma thelma's house felt. Like, I'm still trying to figure that out, and I'm definitely getting better at it as I get older and learning to incorporate these different elements. But, yeah, I think that it is a piece of our health and of our wellness that makes so much more of a difference than what we even realized.

[00:49:05.100] – Allan

Yeah, and I like how you took it beyond just the physical now that we're into the space that we're in with Facebook and Twitter and all of that, and you talked about our digital spaces, and I will say that that was one of the core takeaways from your book that I have incorporated. I have not logged onto Twitter since I read your book.

[00:49:25.460] – Chelsey

Wow, that's awesome.

[00:49:28.390] – Allan

Can we talk just a little bit about digital spaces before we

[00:49:32.810] – Thosh

yeah, totally. That's something that we are learning with and it's something that's very I think it's going to be a complex relationship with everybody based on some people like yourself and us. Part of our work requires us to be on social media to an extent, to share these ideas, to share about the book, you know, to create a more awareness about indigenous life ways for our own communities, and to share these other messages for people outside of our communities. And so we've always seen social media as a tool, but with any tool, you have to have boundaries. And we believe that now we're in that age where social media is required, that we have to facilitate a healthy relationship with social media because it has the means to negatively impact our sense of wellbeing, with what we're seeing on there, with our activity, that we are engaging with certain people. And we have to filter, we have to limit what we are seeing on social media because it could make us angry. It could trigger things, especially in the heated social political climate that we've seen to not be able to get out of in this country, in recent years.

[00:50:36.790] – Thosh

Social media is one that we have to regulate our input. What are we seeing? What are we hearing right here? How does it make us feel? We need to assess that and determine what do I need to unfollow and do I need to create a schedule for myself? Maybe I'm only on social media one to 2 hours a day. Maybe I only post two, three times a week. Maybe I go on social media fast for one week, for 30 days and I don't check into that. And I'm being present. I'm being present with my own self, my own thoughts, my emotions. I'm being present with those that are within my space, that I work with, that I go to school with, that I live with, that I love with being present right there because we are seeing that. And there's scientific evidence too. There's a plethora of studies that come out that have shown that we get a dopamine release even when we receive a notification and that that can create that addiction there social media addiction, we know is a real thing right there. And so the science is there. The emptiness, the feeling of loneliness and emptiness that became exacerbated during COVID-19.

[00:51:33.270] – Thosh

And people were left to really only connect during the virtual world to the virtual world. Now that we're out of that lockdown, people are stuck in that behavior pattern and more addicted than ever. So we see that social media is something that we certainly have to be conscious of our interaction with it. We have to create these boundaries with it. And it's going to be different from everybody for sure.

[00:51:52.500] – Chelsey

Yeah. And that goes for technology in general too. You know, even something as simple as cleaning off your desktop if it gets messy or organizing your emails in your inbox, that can give us that same sense of peace and being able to move forward and clearing that space in your mind so that you can complete other tasks. We need to clean those spaces just like as we need to clean up our table or make our bed in the morning. And those are actions, those are wellness practices just as much as getting in the gym or cooking a healthier meal.

[00:52:23.200] – Allan

I'm going to ask you each one at a time, these questions because I've asked all my guests this since nearly the beginning. So I'll start with you Thosh. I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest, and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

[00:52:40.390] – Thosh

Three strategies to get well and stay there? I think the first thing I always go into is the mind and I always share with people what is the vision you have for yourself in the future, even tomorrow, ten years, 30, 50 years down the line? Who do you want to be in that time? How do you want to think? How do you want to feel? And how do you want to act during that time? So I always share with people to have that vision of yourself, what is being well mean for you? What does that feel like and what actions do you have to take in order to become that? And I always share with people, we have to visualize it, know where we are going, and every day, every day we have to do something that's helping us to get closer to that. And we have to have things that keep us accountable because we all get off track. We all get off track. We have to have some method or mode to keep us accountable. Some sort of system that keeps us on track with our mission. We have a mission that we've created in life that has to do with health, has to do with family, it has to do with school, career, whatever it is.

[00:53:50.080] – Thosh

We have to stay on that mission there and to visualize how that's going to be and to make every day to step into that. So that's the first thing I encourage everyone. The first strategies, have a vision for yourself. Have a vision for yourself. And the second strategy is to find what modalities, what lifeways are going to assist you in that. And then that's where the learn, engage, optimize comes in there. Learning things, engage with it and then learn to optimize it so it gets you closer to that vision that you have of yourself right there. And then the third I would say is make sure that these are life ways and practices that you could adhere to. They're sustainable for the long run. They're not something that I'm just going to do this until I get at this weight or I'm just going to do this until my, you know, A1Cs at this. It's a continuation. We're always evolving, we're always healing and evolving from something. And so I believe that that's what it is. Have a vision for yourself, find out how you're going to do that and then make sure it's something that we can adhere to I would say.

[00:54:49.020] – Allan

Okay, thank you. Chelsey. I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest, and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

[00:54:59.660] – Chelsey

I would say the first thing would be to look within and to create a wellness practice and a lifestyle that is true to yourself as an individual. And don't worry about competing and don't worry about being the best or what your neighbor is doing or what's trendy really honestly try different things in food, in movement, in these different areas of health that feel authentic to you, that you can incorporate as sustainable practices. And don't be afraid to be an individual when it comes to those things. So that's number one is really be authentic to yourself. The second one that I would say is surround yourself with a support system and also be a support system because community is so integral and family is so integral to our health practices. We can't put that on the back burner. We truly have to find folks and to align ourselves with friends and relationships and to also be a role model for people like our children or like our nieces and nephews and others who look up to us. Sometimes we get so frustrated, I think, with things that are out of our control. Sure, you can't change society, but you can impact the way that your family is operating.

[00:56:28.200] – Chelsey

You can really make a difference on a daily basis with those things. So that's number two is community. Let's see here. The third wellness tip that I would offer is to expand your mind outside of anything that you've already seen in mainstream wellness and really taking a deeper look at all of these different areas of our health that might be impacting us and being open minded all the time and the lifelong learner to different ways that we can optimize and improve our lives. Taking in teachings from elders, from youth, from parenting, from hardship, from all of these different areas of life that help us grow and create resilience. Rather than looking at those things in life that we try to avoid because we can't avoid them, we're human. Let's embrace those areas of hardship and those areas of struggle and growth as things that teach us. So that would be my third is in just really expanding the way that we think about health and wellness far beyond the typical and just opening our minds a little bit more.

[00:57:45.520] – Allan

Thank you. Now, the book is beautiful. And there were images in the book, you're photographer Thosh, right? But you didn't take all the pictures because you're in some of them. But there's some beautiful pictures and some wonderful stories. Like, I just had an image in my head as I was reading and you're talking about hunting with your daughter strapped to your back bow and arrow and just a whole family there. And the fact that I know when my daughter was about that age, she'd be screaming her head off and I'd have no chance in heck getting her just beautiful stories about how you guys are trying to live this and use this and teach this. And so I encourage people that are kind of looking for just kind of the excitement and encouragement and motivation to make changes in their whole life, not just their health and fitness. To check out your book. If somebody wanted to learn more about you and your book, The Seven Circles, where would you like for me to send them?

[00:58:39.260] – Chelsey

Thank you so much. Yeah, we would love for them to visit our website wellforculture.com, which includes a lot more about what we do and it has links to every other place where you can engage with our content. I would say we're very active on Instagram. My handle is chelsey.moves and Those is thosh.collins. And then we also have our shared page, which is at wellforculture. So those areas where you can definitely, easily and quickly connect with us. And if you visit Harper Collins website, which is our publishing company, you can find our book, the Seven Circles indigenous Teachings for Living Well. It will also be available via audiobook. We narrated our own audiobook and it is available through pretty much any retailer you can think of. And we encourage people to make their own choice there and to support whichever book seller they feel best about supporting.

[00:59:31.870] – Allan

Great. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/561, and I'll be sure to have links there. So, Thosh and Chelsea, thanks so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

[00:59:43.690] – Chelsey

Thank you for having us. It's been so fun to be here.

[00:59:46.230] – Thosh

Yes. Thank you, Allan. We enjoy this conversation. Thank you for your interest in our work. We really appreciate that.

Post Show/Recap

[01:00:00.710] – Allan

Welcome back, Ras.

[01:00:01.960] – Rachel

Hey, Allan. That was a really neat interview. And, you know, you and I do talk a lot about the importance of sleep and food and movement, but we don't often talk about the sacred space, the connection to land, a connection to community. There is a lot to our lives that need a little bit of balance. So this is pretty important to have a sense of community and to be social and take care of, to have some pride as to where you live and whatnot.

[01:00:27.040] – Allan

Yeah, my whole journey, when I started, I was doing a self audit. I guess this way you could say I was sitting on the beach in Mexico and just doing my crap, but it was a self audit nonetheless, and it was, okay. I'm only doing well in one space, and it's not even really an important space. My career was great, but my health, my fitness, my connection to people, my connection to the world, all this stuff, it was just broken. And so a lot of people talk about, you know, you need to be broken before you can be fixed. I was completely broken, and it took me a long, long time to do this and get an understanding of what I could do to make myself better. And so it's a process, and it's a process that you have to be real with yourself, you have to be honest with yourself. And The Seven Circles is a really good model as you go through the book and say, okay, how am I doing on social connections? And how does that fit in with who I am today? So one of the things that I'm excited about is community.

[01:01:36.300] – Allan

And so we've got the Facebook group, and I've got clients and I've got friends and all that. Well, then, now we've got weddings that we're going to. And so I'm entering a phase with the daughters getting married and everything, where now I'm going to work on connecting and that social thing. And so it's just that back and forth of saying, okay, what's the most important things for me? And then making sure you're not leaving some of these things behind that are important. It's easy for us to sit at our desks and it gets cold and it's dreary outside and so we're going to stay in the house and bundle up and not get out, you know, and so that's that's a problem too.

[01:02:23.520] – Rachel

oh it is.

[01:02:24.570] – Allan

So it's just looking at those as just a consistent reminder to prioritize and understand we have to be doing something almost all the time, doing something in all seven of those areas, but at the same time looking at where we are in our lives and say, okay, this one is more important than that one.

[01:02:45.790] – Rachel

Yeah, well, we go through these phases in our lives, right? I mean, when the kids are young, your kids are your priority. My kids are older and almost out of the house at this point. So now you can focus on some other things, maybe. Well, taking care of Mike as he's struggling with his cancer and taking care of my family. I have a run club that I participate with, so I'm busy with my friends and making sure that we have those social connections. But just like they said, there's one of I can't remember which one who said it, but they said it's not about having a diet or a New Year's resolution. It's a lifestyle change. And the part that really hit me, though, is that it's constantly evolving and we're constantly learning. And just like you said, we need to take the time to have that self check, that self audit. And where are we today? Are we doing good with our food but not with our family? Are we getting good sleep but not enough movement? It's a balance. It's a balance between a lot of different things.

[01:03:47.060] – Allan

Well, the reality of it is this, okay, so if you imagine you're driving down the road and they tell you, have your hands at ten and two, okay, you can take your hands off the steering wheel, the car is still moving forward.

[01:04:02.140] – Rachel

That's right.

[01:04:04.540] – Allan

You can be doing this good or you can be doing everything bad. It's up to you, but you're doing it. That was one of the core things out of that quote that I said, was, yeah, you're doing it, but even if you're not doing it, you're still making a choice to not do it. So you could take your hands off that steering wheel, the outcome probably won't be very good. A non favorable outcome, absolutely. But you kind of get the idea is that you're still moving, you don't have a choice. Your life is still going on and that aging curve is still happening. And your time on this planet with the people you love is still limited. So the time is still happening, the movement is still happening. Everything's still moving. And if you're not engaged in making the most of that, that was a choice. It's still a choice. And so since you know that now, just take a few minutes. This book is pretty good about like I said during the self audit, there are tools out there, but this is a really good one and it's Matrix, so you really can kind of dig down.

[01:05:14.370] – Allan

Why is my sleep suffering? I'm under a lot of stress. I'm not moving enough. I'm not getting enough sunshine to set my circadian rhythm properly. I'm on computers in the middle of the night again, messing up my circadian rhythm because I can't be in my own head and just lay there and enjoy that space. You're doing something. Whether you choose to think you're doing it, you're still making that choice. So this is a good opportunity for you to look for that, find the balance. And find the balance that's right for you now, right? Yeah. It could be different a year from now. A six month period of time when both of our daughters are getting married. A lot of travel, probably not as much sleep. Might eat some things that I wouldn't normally eat because that's what my daughter chose to have as the meal at the wedding. It is what it is. Rehearsal dinners and all that other stuff. And daddy daughter dances and all that.

[01:06:19.990] – Rachel


[01:06:21.260] – Allan

So it's a different time for me right now. Closing a gym and my daughter is getting married and then about to launch something that scares the crap out of me. It's a thing. So just realizing where your focus needs to be and staying focused on the things that matter most.

[01:06:39.120] – Rachel

Yeah, that's great. Sounds like a great book.

[01:06:42.280] – Allan

It is a good book. And it's written from a perspective. Again, this isn't something. The stuff is what they came up with. I mean, obviously they built this model, they built the seven circle model. And so that is something, but it's driven off of what they call wisdom from their elders. This is not new stuff, guys. This is how we've always lived. We've just gotten away from that connection to how we are supposed to live. It's real food, movement, sleep, connection, connection, all seven of them. If you really think about it, those should be they are major components in living a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. When I talk about wellness, you noticed I didn't just say health and fitness. There's the other stuff, the happiness, the joy, all that, all that has to be there. At some level, you're going to have moments in your life that are not as joyful as others. And that's just a check. It's like, okay, am I prioritizing and doing the right things for what matters most for me? If you are, then good. If you aren't, then you've got some work to do.

[01:07:56.920] – Rachel

That's right.

[01:07:57.450] – Allan

And guess what? We always have some more.

[01:07:59.070] – Rachel

Always. We are always evolving and learning, too. Give yourself a little grace as these things get out of balance and come right back in balance.

[01:08:10.380] – Allan

Yeah. So, as a general reminder, we've started this month with asking you for a review. So if you can get on your app what you're listening to right now, and leave the podcast a review, it's going to help us grow. And what we want to do is make this fun. So we're going to draw one of the reviewers, and in November, I'm going to send you some stuff. Okay? I'm going to send you some cool stuff. So go to your podcast app. I've got a tool that lets me see those reviews and I appreciate I read every one of them, even the bad ones. They teach me something like a self audit, but you're honoring me, so I love them. Even if it's bad review, it's good. It works out either way. But leave us a review and honest review, and I'm going to pick one winner each month and send you something cool. I'll read your review on air, and then I'll send you something cool. And then again, another reminder. I am looking to put together the first 40 Plus Fitness Retreat. Again, I hope it's the first and there's more, and it's going to be here in Bocas del Toro the last week of May.

[01:09:11.610] – Allan

I think it starts the 29th. You can go to 40plusfitness.com/retreat, and that's the only people I'm really going to talk to. I'll tell people it's happening. But if you want to be in the know and you want to make sure you're one of the 30 that gets to come here and do this with me, you need to be on that list. Again, I'm not going to send you anything to that list directly, but I'll make sure, you know, as I decide and start planning and getting things together, you'll see it come together and I may even ask your opinion on some things. So if you want to help me make this the best thing ever, then I'm all ears. Or I guess eyes, because I'll be reading the emails, but that will be a list. And I'll email you what's going on and you can respond back. I might ask, like I might ask some questions, some surveys, just to make sure that I make this the best event ever. At least the best event I've ever done.

[01:10:04.240] – Rachel


[01:10:05.110] – Allan

Yeah. So, yeah, 40plusfitness.com/retreat.

[01:10:09.490] – Rachel

Sounds great, Allan.

[01:10:10.990] – Allan

Okay, well, Rachel, I'll talk to you next week.

[01:10:13.570] – Rachel

You better. Take care.

[01:10:14.980] – Allan

You too. Bye.


The following listeners have sponsored this show by pledging on our Patreon Page:

– Anne Lynch– Ken McQuade– Margaret Bakalian
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Thank you!

Another episode you may enjoy


October 4, 2022

How to go from couch potato to endurance athlete with Hilary Topper

Apple Google Spotify Overcast Youtube

No matter where you are, you're never too old to get off the couch and get some amazing things done. Hilary Topper shows us how in her book, From Couch Potato to Endurance Athlete. Join us as we discuss her book and she shares some wonderful tips and advice.


Let's Say Hello

[00:02:14.390] – Coach Allan

 Hello Ras. How are you doing?

[00:02:15.960] – Coach Rachel

Good, Allan. How are you today?

[00:02:17.960] – Coach Allan

I'm doing all right. A little shaken, not stirred.

[00:02:22.210] – Coach Rachel


[00:02:24.370] – Coach Allan

I'm on vacation in Puerto Vallarta, and so I landed on Monday and got an Uber, which is a little bit of an ordeal because they don't want them at the airport, so you have to leave the airport and go somewhere else. So the Uber picked…

[00:02:37.190] – Coach Rachel


[00:02:37.400] – Coach Allan

That's fine. It's not that far, but Uber picks me up. We're driving back to the hotel, and this dude just runs out in front of the car. Our Uber almost hits him. If it would not be like a neighborhood kind of area with the resorts and all the houses, he would definitely hit this guy because he just ran out in front of us. And then he's yelling frantically, there's an earthquake in Spanish, but he's young. There's an earthquake. I'm like, okay. And so the car literally was bouncing up and down, sideways to sideways.

[00:03:06.670] – Coach Rachel

Oh, my goodness.

[00:03:08.890] – Coach Allan

I did that for about five minutes, and then they're standing out in the road, standing around. So then finally, people start moving out of the road. My driver's like, okay, let's go. He drives me to the hotel, and of course, everybody at the resort, they're all out and on the street.

[00:03:23.330] – Coach Allan

And I walk in, and they're like, you can't go inside right now. It will be a little while. They said 5 minutes, but it ended up being, like, 45 minutes. So we're standing out there, and this woman is just distraught. A lot of people seem more emotionally affected by this. Everybody's got their emotion things and their buttons, so something scares them, and suddenly, again, a lot of things flare up in them, and it's personal.

[00:03:47.910] – Coach Allan

But this was not that her husband was stuck in the building because he was not capable of walking down the stairs.

[00:03:58.850] – Coach Rachel

Oh, no.

[00:03:59.500] – Coach Allan

And she was. So she walked down the stairs and told the staff that he was up there. They sent two guys up. So she had already at this point, when I got there, she had already been standing out there for over five minutes. Another 15-20 minutes goes past without him coming down.

[00:04:21.290] – Coach Allan

So she's just beside herself. I kind of took from her mannerisms and the conversation that she saw me as someone who was physically capable, and she wanted me to go in there and bring her husband down.

[00:04:35.390] – Coach Allan

So I walk up to the guy. I walk up, and the guy's like, we're not letting anyone in the building. And I'm like, okay. And then I said, is there anything going on there? Because a guy and I said, yeah, we got two guys going up there. Okay. So I go back to her, and I say, okay, look, the two guys are okay. They're just not down yet. But it was just kind of that moment when you sit there and you say, one, I would never want to do that to my spouse, and two, I would not want to be the spouse that couldn't help my significant other get where they needed to be.

[00:05:09.290] – Coach Allan

Okay, so when we start talking about fitness and we start talking about all this stuff, the reality of it is you've got to be fit to be the person that you want to be, and you got to start working on that now.

[00:05:23.090] – Coach Rachel


[00:05:24.830] – Coach Allan

These folks were probably not even in their 70s.

[00:05:29.570] – Coach Rachel


[00:05:34.770] – Coach Allan

I saw him yesterday at the pool. He's fine, but he could walk along the edge of the pool supporting himself by the side of the pool. So even in pool water that was up to almost his chest, he still needed to support himself with the side of the pool, and she had to help him get out of the pool.

[00:05:53.490] – Coach Rachel


[00:05:54.750] – Coach Allan

So one rail, and then her to get out of the pool. And I'm just like, dude, I know you're old. I know this is a struggle, but you got to get stronger. You got to get stronger. You can't put your wife through that again. I didn't say that out loud. That was one of those internal thoughts that you kind of have as you're sitting there.

[00:06:10.740] – Coach Allan

Just don't do that. I don't want to do that. So if you're thinking about reasons why you need to do this, that. You might have to take care of someone else or you definitely don't want them to have to take care of you.

[00:06:27.190] – Coach Allan

On that same kind of note, I'm on the summit that's about optimal health and longevity, it's going to be coming out in about a week from now and this episode goes live. If you'll go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/optimum, that's going to take you to a sign-up page to view that. It's like 21 health and fitness experts talking about ways to improve your health, to improve your longevity. And I'm on it, so it's got to be awesome.

[00:07:01.330] – Coach Rachel

Sounds great.

[00:07:02.440] – Coach Allan

So 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/optimum. And it's going to kick off in about six days from now. I think this goes out the 4th, so it's going to come out on the 10th. I don't know what day my episode is. As soon as I know that I'll let you know. But it's free and it's some great content. If you're looking at improving your health and longevity, go check it out.

[00:07:27.510] – Coach Rachel

That sounds great. Congratulations Allan. Sounds like a fun summit to be involved with.

[00:07:31.920] – Coach Allan

Yeah, the interview was great. The host, Yoli, she's cool and it was a really good conversation and I shared some tidbits. I actually even shared that story. So you'll have probably a little bit more information than they even had. But it is that kind of that concept of let's not get old-old, let's get young-old. Okay?

[00:07:55.770] – Coach Rachel


[00:07:56.720] – Coach Allan

So how are things up there?

[00:07:58.540] – Coach Rachel

Well, we've done a lot in the last week, Allan, since I spoke with you last, my life turned upside down and since righted itself again. But we had COVID again enter our home actually for the first time. My son and husband were away on the weekend traveling and they brought home COVID. I caught it and it was really kind of interesting.

[00:08:22.680] – Coach Rachel

My son felt like a cold, fluid kind of feeling. He didn't have it too bad and the doctors didn't think he needed any additional treatments or anything. I got it even more mild. I only had a sore throat, so I'm grateful to have such mild symptoms for this weird disease.

[00:08:41.230] – Coach Rachel

But my husband got hit hard. It hit him hard. And it's because as I've mentioned to the listeners in the past, he's right in the middle of taking chemotherapy and immunotherapy for kidney cancer. So his body was already pretty frail because of the chemo to begin with. And so when he got COVID, it just knocked him right off his feet. So his oncologist gave him the Paxlevid that a lot of people are taking and it worked really fast. It's a five-day regimen and within a couple of days he felt back to his normal chemo self.

[00:09:17.950] – Coach Allan

Yeah, he went from a .5 to a 1.

[00:09:21.150] – Coach Rachel

Yeah, exactly. Chemo is no joke either. He's had good days and bad days, but fighting cancer and COVID at the same time, it was a huge nightmare. He was just in a really bad space, and it was really scary for the both of us. But since we've made it through, all three of us are feeling healthy again, pretty much back to normal. And we had a visit with our oncologist. He's doing fine. He's back on his chemo regimen as usual, so that's what we're doing. So it was crazy, but now back to normal, and it's good to be through it all. Thank goodness it's over.

[00:09:59.490] – Coach Allan

Yeah. And let Mike know I've got him in my thoughts.

[00:10:02.990] – Coach Rachel

Thank you. I appreciate it.

[00:10:04.900] – Coach Allan

All right, well, are you ready to talk to Hilary?

[00:10:08.120] – Coach Rachel



[00:11:11.830] – Coach Allan

Hillary. Welcome to 40+ Fitness.

[00:11:14.600] – Hilary

Thank you so much, Alan, for having me.

[00:11:17.260] – Coach Allan

Now, today we're going to talk about your book, From Couch Potato to Endurance Athlete. And I think many of us can kind of relate to that couch potato life and how difficult it is to basically get out of that get out of that couch and make some things happen. So I really appreciate the opportunity to talk to you today about this book because it talks about your story of how you did this.

[00:11:42.680] – Coach Allan

This is not something you did when you were 20 or 30. You were over 40 years old. So you're speaking our love language, doing this, when you're not the young buck out there doing these things. And you didn't just play around. You're a triathlete. So this is some pretty cool stuff.

[00:12:03.370] – Hilary

Yeah. So I started running at 48, which, I mean, for me, my motivation was I was working all the time. I had my own business, small business. I was putting in those 60, 70, 80 hours a week. I was going to cocktail party after cocktail party, and I needed to change my life. I wasn't happy, even though the business was doing really well. I wasn't happy.

[00:12:32.790] – Hilary

So I needed to make a change. And I joined New York Sports Club and I hired a personal trainer. And my first entree into this sport was to step onto a treadmill. And I looked at this thing and I was like, wow, I don't know what to do, could somebody help me? So I asked a couple of people and they turned it on for me and I started walking and that was my first step into it. And then from there I started to run a little bit and gradually it took several months but I ran a mile. And then I took it outside and I just took it little by little. It's like one step in front of the other, basically.

[00:13:19.990] – Coach Allan

Yeah. There's a runner's mantra that's just put one foot in front of the other until the race is over. Now, there was one thing in your book that I have to ask because people put Easter eggs in their books all the time and I love finding these things. You're going to have to tell me this story about you crashing Woody Allen's New Year's Eve party.

[00:13:43.510] – Hilary

So I was 17 years old and my friends and I, there were two of us and so there were three altogether. We saw an article in the New York Post and the New York Post, it said that Woody Allen was having this New Year's Eve party, was the year 1979, and he was having it at the Harkness House in New York City.

[00:14:09.150] – Hilary

We did some research and we found out that Donald Bruce White was the caterer. And I called up the Harkness House and I said, can I tour around the facility? I want to make a surprise party for my parents 25th anniversary. And they said sure. So they took the three of us and we toured around and we got back on the train back to Long Island and we started drawing out a schematic of the whole entire place. Like where the kitchen was, where the party would take place, where the shower room was.

[00:14:45.710] – Hilary

And that December 31, the three of us, we dressed up as caterers with our clothes under tinfoil trays and we walked into the Harkness House and said we were with the cater. They let us in and as soon as the coast was clear, we jetted down to the basement and we hid there for 8 hours.

[00:15:07.860] – Hilary

Now if this happened today, it wouldn't have happened, right? But back then it was a little bit less secure and we stayed there for 8 hours. And then as soon as we heard the party start, we changed our clothes, went upstairs to the party and we met and mingled with all the famous people of the day like Mick Jagger, Robin Williams, Mia Farrow, Diane Keaton, I mean, you name it, everybody was there. And it was so exciting for us.

[00:15:41.040] – Hilary

And what happened was at midnight, we're having champagne and caviar with all these celebrities. I don't know why they didn't say, like, who are you? Nobody ever asked us who we were. But at the end of it, we went downstairs. I kissed Woody Allen's cheek and said, thank you, Mr. Allen, for inviting us. He looked at me like, who is this woman and who are these kids and what are they doing here?

[00:16:10.340] – Hilary

And we left our clothes downstairs in the shower room. We left. We were screaming down 5th Avenue. I mean, it was just insane. And we got to my friend's apartment on McDougall Street and we went up there. He was in college. The two of us were in high school at the time.

[00:16:31.360] – Hilary

We went up there and I called the New York Post right away, and they said, well, how do we know that this is true? And I said, well, clothes are down in the shower room. So they checked it out, and the next thing we know, we had a cover story on the New York Post saying, “Teens Crash Woody's Bash.”

[00:16:50.980] – Hilary

And we were also in Newsday and a local paper. And there was a famous we still love this one station. It was an alternative station called WLIR Radio. So we were on there too, and that was our story. And that's basically how I became a publicist. Because I figured if I could do it for me, I could do it for other people.

[00:17:13.240] – Coach Allan

That's pretty cool.

[00:17:15.070] – Coach Allan

Now, you had a concept in the book that I think was really critical for a lot of people because they see something in front of them. Like maybe they want to do a 5K or maybe they want to do a bike thing, bike race. There's a concept you had in the book called The Back of the Packer, and I think this is really important. Can you explain what that is and kind of the mindset that it gives you when you kind of accept that reality?

[00:17:41.250] – Hilary

Yeah. I mean, there are so many of us who are Back of the Packers. I mean, these are people who will never, may never podium unless they're the only ones in their age group. They have the possibility of being swept off the course. There's always that possibility. If you can't make it within a certain amount of time, you get swept.

[00:18:04.850] – Hilary

And the thing about being a Back of the packer is that I think also in my book, one of the people I quoted said Back to the Packers, have more fun. And in a way, we do, because we take this as a competition against ourselves and not so much other people. I mean, yes, in the beginning, you get intimidated. You feel like… One of the things that I write about in the book, I talk about Becky, a friend of mine, and she was a marathon runner. I was intimidated by her because she was a marathon runner. I thought she'd be better than me, she'd be faster than me, she had more endurance than me. And when we ended up running together, we were the same pace. I think that we need to kind of get that out of our heads that it's a bad thing to be a Back of the Packer because it's not a bad thing.

[00:19:11.330] – Hilary

We have fun doing what we do and we love it just as much as the elite or Middle of the Packers. And again, we just really compete against ourselves.

[00:19:24.650] – Coach Allan

Yeah. There is a lot more talking going on in the back of the pack than there is in the front, I can tell you.

[00:19:32.130] – Hilary


[00:19:33.160] – Coach Allan

Now, you practiced a method. I've had Jeff Galloway on the show before, and I actually use his method a lot with my clients and coaching. Can you talk about his Run Walk Run Method that you use?

[00:19:47.010] – Hilary

Yeah, Jeff, actually he was my coach for the 2016 marathon. I was first introduced to it a couple of years before, but I really didn't get it right until he started coaching me. And when he coached me, he taught me that the shorter I run, the faster I will run. So if I'm running 5 seconds or if I'm running 10 seconds and I'm walking 30 seconds, I'm going to run those 5 seconds of those 10 seconds much faster than I would normally do if I'm not doing the run-walk.

[00:20:28.220] – Hilary

So maybe I'll do it at a minute mile and then I'll walk at a steady, easy pace. And since then, I did the marathon using his method. I did 15-second run, 30-second walk the entire way. And that's exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to stay around 14 minutes miles.

[00:20:57.190] – Hilary

And after that, I guess it was back in 2017, I started working for Jeff as one of his program directors and I started teaching the method because I wanted to give back to people here on Long Island. And we also started as a beginner group. We started at 5 seconds, and then we went to ten, and then we went to 15.

[00:21:22.730] – Hilary

And even today with a lot of my, I have runners who are elite runners, I have beginner runners, I have Middle of the Packer of runners, and we're all doing the same exact thing. We're all going at it easy, 15-second run, 30-second walk for our long runs, and we run together. And the thing about it is, as you said before, with the Back of the Packers, you get to really talk to people and you get to really know who they are and all about them. And these people that are part of my WeRendurance group are some of the closest friends that I have. I mean, I just absolutely love these people. And they've been my groupies on my book tours. They've been coming to every one of them. It's really very nice.

[00:22:16.120] – Coach Allan

Cool. Another key aspect of Jeff Galloway's run, walk, run is that for that 15 seconds, even though you're running faster, you're not redlining. You're pushing yourself right up to a point. You're not letting yourself get winded. So that 30 seconds off is just a really good break to let everything kind of slow down the heart rate go down a little bit, and then you're in a good position to go again for those 15, again, just right up to the line, and then you're off. And that's why choosing 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds each, just finding your interval is really important because you'll just know, okay, if I run about this fast, I'm not going to redline, and then I can ease back.

[00:22:55.730] – Hilary

Once you do the magic mile and you determine what and the magic mile is basically running around the track four times and then determining what your speed is, and you could either take walk breaks or not take walk breaks, you could just run it out. You take that time and you put it into a formula, and you could actually determine what your race pace is, what your long training runs are, and that type of thing. And that's really helpful. I've got these people who some of them are, like, running seven minute miles using this method. It's incredible. So it's not just for slow people. It's for anybody who wants to put that recovery break into their runs.

[00:23:50.230] – Coach Allan

Yeah. Now, another core aspect of this is that you didn't play around. You've had coaches, you've had teams. You've kind of always had this support network. Can you talk about what that means to you and how you went about that?

[00:24:04.460] – Hilary

Yeah. When I first hired a coach, I didn't want to hire a coach. My friend Becky said, we have to hire coaches. We don't know what we're doing. We have to hire coaches. And so I called up a friend of mine who I knew was an iron man, and I was so impressed with her, and I asked her if she would coach me, and she said, I'm really not qualified for that, but you could call my coach. And I did. And I hired this guy, Coach Ritchie, for the first year, and he really taught me everything about triathlons.

[00:24:42.310] – Hilary

And then the following year after that, I ended up switching coaches, and I went with somebody who was a little bit more supportive, coach Danielle. Coach Danielle, I have been with her since 2015. I still hire her every month to coach me, even though I'm a qualified I'm also a USA Triathlon Coach. I still have my own coach. That's important to me to have a coach. And I've been working with her, and I definitely have seen significant improvements. She was a pro triathlete, and she's just a wonderful person. So she just really makes me feel good about what I'm doing.

[00:25:31.970] – Hilary

And that's what I think a good coach is that balance between feeling really good about what you're doing and structuring your workouts.

[00:25:42.260] – Coach Allan

It's kind of hard to call your coach up or to visit your coach. And when they start asking about how this particular workout went and you don't really have an answer because you didn't do that workout, you don't want to say that. So it holds you accountable and kind of keeps you moving forward.

[00:26:00.730] – Coach Allan

Now, there was another concept, and you didn't really write about it so much as you demonstrated it in most of the stories about a race or something you were going to do. Like, you talk, there's chances of you being swept because you were going to time out. There are times when things are just not working out well for you because of the conditions, but you always seem to have this internal drive to stick it out.

[00:26:30.130] – Hilary

Yeah, it's interesting. I've been doing a lot of book tours, and people have been asking me about that. The other day I was asked, you had a horrible year this year. How did you keep going? What's your drive? How do you get yourself to do this? And I guess for me, when I was a child, I always felt like I was being put down, even by my parents, by my teachers. I never felt like anybody was encouraging me.

[00:27:04.080] – Hilary

So I had to reach within myself to get that encouragement. And for me, when somebody says to me, you can't, or if I feel like I can't do something, I make it my business that I can do it. It's almost like a crazy motivator. But that motivates me to keep going, even though the obstacles are against me.

[00:27:29.320] – Hilary

I was swimming a 5.5 mile swim. It was supposed to be 5.5 miles from Fire Island to Bay Shore. It's a pretty long swim in open water, and the water, the currents were, like, ridiculously choppy and big wakes. I couldn't even see. And I asked my son to be my kayaker, but I didn't really understand the race, and I didn't realize that I really should have had an experienced kayaker with me. He had only gone on, like, a little pond that didn't have any kind of current, so he didn't really know how to deal with it.

[00:28:13.700] – Hilary

We ended up getting drifted. We drifted way, way off. We were about a mile, a mile and a half off course, and the volunteers had to come get us and direct us back to where we were supposed to swim. And the swim time cut off was 4 hours. And the crazy thing was that my garmin stopped working for like, an hour, an hour and a half. So I'm thinking that I have all this time to get in reality, I was so close to the end. I was the last one. The boats were following me in, but I did it. And even though my arm, it stopped working. I couldn't even get my arm over my shoulder at one point. I was exhausted. I mean, I crossed that finished line, I can't even do this, but I did it, and it felt so good.

[00:29:19.630] – Hilary

I think that's the driving thing is when you finish these races, you feel so good. You feel so high, you feel like you've got this, you've got the whole world on your shoulder. It's just wonderful.

[00:29:35.460] – Coach Allan

Yeah, it sounds like what you're doing is you're kind of tapping into this inner rebel that you have. You're finding your inner strength, and for you, that's as a rebel, and you just say, well, no, if I think I can't do this, well, I'm going to prove myself wrong. If someone else tells me I can't do this, I'm going to prove them wrong.

[00:29:55.490] – Coach Allan

Hillary, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest, and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay?

[00:30:04.220] – Hilary

Well, I would say for me, it's be consistent. Just be consistent. Just get out there, do what you need to do, right? You have a schedule, stick to it. And that's one thing a lot of people don't do. And for me, I find that it's become almost an addiction for me. So at 04:00 in the morning, I'm up, I'm ready to go, and I'll either swim, bike, or run right? So one would be consistent.

[00:30:39.420] – Hilary

Two would be to eat right and to drink water and to really try to get those macronutrients in. You don't feel like don't stray from that. Like, once you start eating junk food, you really feel it when you're training. Not good.

[00:30:58.860] – Hilary

And then the third thing I've been trying to do and this may sound a little strange, but I've been trying to meditate, really just relax my mind. Even though I feel like when I'm working out and when I'm training for triathlon, it's my time, it's me time. I still feel like I need to just take that stuff out of my head and just relax and meditate. And I take ten minutes or whatever a day just to calm everything down and feel good.

[00:31:35.070] – Hilary

And that helps. It really does.

[00:31:38.450] – Coach Allan

Thank you for sharing that. Hilary, if someone wanted to learn more about you and learn more about your book, From Couch Potato to Endurance Athlete, where would you like for me to send them?

[00:31:47.600] – Hilary

Sure. If you would like to get a copy of the book, you can buy it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or any of the Barnes and Noble retail stores out there. You can just ask for it.

[00:32:01.010] – Hilary

To get in touch with me. I have two blogs and also a podcast. My blog is hilarytopper.com. It's Hilary with one L, and my other blog is atriathletdiary.com. And that was how the book actually formed, was from that blog. And you can get in touch with me from either one of those blogs. Even if you just type in my name on Google, Hilary Topper. I come right up and you can get in touch with me. And my email, I think, is up there, too. So it's Hilary@hjmt.com.

[00:32:38.730] – Coach Allan

Thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

[00:32:41.410] – Hilary

Well, thank you so much, Allan. I so appreciate you having me on the show.

Post Show/Recap

[00:32:54.030] – Coach Allan

Welcome back, Ras.

[00:32:55.660] – Coach Rachel

Hey, Allan. What a fun interview. And right up my alley to couch potato to endurance athlete. I absolutely love it. Hilary sounds like a neat lady.

[00:33:05.510] – Coach Allan

Yeah. And one of the kind of cool things about her story is that if you think you can't, then you can't. And if you think you can, then you can. And it's the Ford quote. And the whole point being is your brain, your mindset, is going to take you where you go. And so when she decided she was going to start doing things, she just started doing things, and then she realized, okay, I'm not great at this, but I enjoy the process and I enjoy doing. And so she kept pushing herself a little bit and pushing herself a little bit. And I couldn't fathom swimming over 5 miles.

[00:33:44.740] – Coach Rachel

I know. That is crazy.

[00:33:47.430] – Coach Allan

And she didn't just swim the 5 miles because she got off course. She literally swam probably seven or 8 miles when she was only planning on swimming that. Now a story she didn't tell was, I guess apparently you wear a wetsuit and you're swimming that long, there's a whole lot of chafing going on. And we know that as runners going, well, it's a wetsuit. I couldn't even imagine. She changed everything. And she was not a spring chicken when she did it.

[00:34:19.520] – Coach Rachel

Well, no, and that's what I absolutely love. There's actually a lot of endurance athletes don't really get started until our 40s and 50s. And she mentioned that she started running at the age of 48. So just sit for a second. 48. You're right, that's not a spring chicken. And not that 48 is old. I'm 51 and I certainly don't feel old, but it is absolutely later in life. And you don't have to be a collegiate athlete or you don't have to have run track in high school or something to enjoy different activities, different sports in these later years.

[00:34:56.300] – Coach Rachel

And the fact that she's done so well, especially in the triathlon as well as the swimming, is incredible. I mean, there's a lot of older athletes out there. There's something to be said for getting started a little later in life.

[00:35:10.850] – Coach Allan

I wouldn't call this an instructional manual. She puts in some little tidbits in there that would definitely help you as you're going through this process. She gives some really good tips, but the book is really a motivational tome. I mean, it's really built around, okay, here's what I did, here's what my struggles were, here's how I overcame them, and here's what I accomplished. And here's what I learned.

[00:35:37.970] – Coach Allan

If you're sitting on the couch and you're thinking, I really need to do something, this is probably a great book to get you thinking, wait, this woman just did that. And she's not that far removed from a similar couch,

[00:35:55.010] – Coach Rachel

For sure.

[00:35:55.740] – Coach Allan

And she had all this stuff happening, too. She had a career, she had a family. She had all the things that you think might be holding you back. She's making the time, and she's getting it done.

[00:36:08.820] – Coach Rachel

I think that's wonderful. I think a lot of people look at, like, the Olympic athletes. They're all young people. They're in their teens and 20s

[00:36:17.720] – Coach Allan

There are a lot now that are hanging around. Tom Brady is still playing football at 43.

[00:36:24.330] – Coach Rachel

I know. Yeah.

[00:36:25.880] – Coach Allan

Things are changing, and they are building a capacity, and they're keeping that capacity longer. And so those should be your inspirations to say, an 80 year old man is climbing Everest. I got no excuse.

[00:36:40.750] – Coach Rachel

For sure. But the second misconception, too, is that we're all Boston qualifying or Triathlon Kona attending athletes. And you guys spent some time discussing being in the back of the pack, and you can find so much strength as well as enjoyment in these sports without having to stand on a podium. It's not that we're out there to win. We're out there to accomplish something. And even if it's competing against ourselves, getting a PR, or just doing something we've never done before, there's so much excitement to that. And no, you do not have to be super fast, super strong, super anything. You just need to get out there and do it.

[00:37:26.140] – Coach Allan

Yeah. In a lot of those races, like the New York Marathon, the Boston Marathon, they have lotteries. They allow a certain number of runners that don't qualify, wouldn't qualify, Back of the Packers, if you will. So if you have aspirations to say, well, I'd love to go to Boston and run the Boston Marathon, you can put your name in. Just put your name in. You never know.

[00:37:47.580] – Coach Allan

And as they get slots and they grant you a slot, then book your airline and go. Or just book your airline in the hopes that happens, and then just enjoy Boston during that time of the year.

[00:38:01.730] – Coach Allan

I think that's the core of it is just she has the right mindset to know where she is in the world and know that, okay, she's getting the joy out of just knowing that she's pushing herself to do something, and when she completes it, no one can take that away from her.

[00:38:20.030] – Coach Rachel

Absolutely. This is a great motivational book. It sounds like a good read.

[00:38:24.090] – Coach Allan

It is good. All right, well, Rachel, I'll talk to you next week then.

[00:38:28.140] – Coach Rachel

Sounds great. Take care.


The following listeners have sponsored this show by pledging on our Patreon Page:

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Thank you!

Another episode you may enjoy


September 27, 2022

How to get strong and lean with bodyweight training – Mark Lauren

Apple Google Spotify Overcast Youtube

Arguably the #1 expert on getting super strong and fit using only bodyweight exercises, Mark Lauren puts it all together for training sessions that take 9 minutes. We talk about his new book, Strong and Lean: 9-minute daily workouts to build your best body—no equipment, anywhere, anytime.


Let's Say Hello

[00:02:43.690] – Allan

Ras. Hello!

[00:02:46.410] – Rachel

Hey, Allan, how are you today?

[00:02:48.230] – Allan

I'm doing okay. Obviously we record this a couple of weeks ahead, so I'm actually in the United States while we're recording this, and I will be on my way when you're listening to this, I will either be back in Bocas or I'll be on my way back to Bocas. So I've been enjoying the oysters. I'm in a part of the country where that's the thing and so I've been eating the heck out of those and I've had a good bit of Brussels sprouts as well.

[00:03:15.410] – Rachel

Oh, good. Put it when you can.

[00:03:18.870] – Allan

Yeah, I'm doing what I can, but it's all good. I'm feeling pretty good. Rested. Time with families, some rest time. It's been good.

[00:03:28.500] – Rachel

Wonderful. That sounds great.

[00:03:30.520] – Allan

How are things up there?

[00:03:32.410] – Rachel

Good. Now that we're back from our big trip, I've got time to catch up on things, and I just realized that it was two years ago, Allan, that I earned my personal training certificate through NASM, and you invited me to be a part of your podcast. So kind of celebrating a two year anniversary, and I'm really excited.

[00:03:50.130] – Allan

Good. Yeah, I saw the picture on Facebook, and so you obviously got that, and you've since gone on to get your runners coaching certification. And I'm sure there's a lot more ahead because, as you said in your post, we have to get our education, and as a result, it means spending the time, spending the money, investing in yourself to make this happen.

[00:04:14.270] – Rachel

It does. NASM has a couple of classes I'm interested in taking, but so does RRCA. They've got a level two class, and there's another running course that I'd like to take, which teaches us about endurance and ultras and those types of things. So pretty excited to get my name on the list to get on these classes.

[00:04:33.410] – Allan

Good. Enjoy that.

[00:04:34.780] – Rachel

Yeah, thanks.

[00:04:35.900] – Allan

All right, are you ready to talk to Mark?

[00:04:37.880] – Rachel


[00:04:38.740] – Allan



[00:04:39.970] – Allan

Mark. Welcome to 40+ Fitness.

[00:04:42.630] – Mark

Hey, thanks for having me.

[00:04:44.070] – Allan

So your book is called Strong and Lean: Nine Minute Daily Workouts to Build Your Best Body. No Equipment, Anywhere, Anytime. And I have to say, in going through the workouts and what I know of some of the exercises because I've used them before, and some of them that as I was going through, of course, I got to get on the floor and try a couple of them out. This is a workout that you could start as a beginner, and it's a workout that will serve you even if you were the most advanced athlete. You're going to get a great workout, and it's just nine minutes, so it's really kind of fabulous.

[00:05:21.460] – Mark

Yeah. Thank you for that. Yes. Basically, I'm the author of the book You Are Your Own Gym the Bible of Body Weight Exercises, which published back in 2010 and sold a whole bunch of copies around the world, over a million. But the program in that book, I was just out of the special operations community when I wrote that book, and my understanding sort of a typical person's needs. I was totally not in touch, let's put it that way. And I was training guys to jump out of airplanes and scuba dive, et cetera. That program was I would say it was complex, and it was unnecessarily difficult. So over the next ten years, really, and I think this is always sort of like the learning progression. You figure out what's essential and what's not. Really, this program is a process of me sort of getting rid of all the unnecessary things and sort of distilling everything down to the bare minimum and the absolute essentials that get you the most for the least and making it as simple as possible and then of course, building in progression so you can continue to advance.

[00:06:25.990] – Allan


[00:06:27.130] – Allan

Now, one of the concepts that you got into early in the book which I was kind of fascinated by because it wasn't the way I've ever thought about it but once you got down that train of thought I was like Mark's absolutely right, is locomotion. Can you talk a little bit about locomotion and why that is fitness.

[00:06:47.830] – Mark

Right? So there's a couple of ways to describe it and the first way is when we work out what we're trying to achieve is the best possible overall gains. We're trying to get the best gains in overall performance. Right? And one of the problems with exercise a lot of times and I realized this long ago, especially as a special ops guy, etc. is that exercise, whatever it is that you do, you only get good at that thing. Like maybe you're lifting weights and you're getting stronger in the gym but in a lot of other ways you're getting less athletic. That tends to be a problem with a lot of different things. So I was really trying to figure out what is it that we actually need so that we can specifically focus on it and get the most benefit out of our training, out of our energy. And what I finally realized is the common denominator for all activities is locomotion. And then I think a really good example of the importance of locomotion can be seen in how infants and children learn to move. Right? It's all about locomotion. They begin in a backline position and then they begin to base.

[00:07:55.890] – Mark

The first thing they really learn is to stabilize their head which is spinal stabilization. Once they can stabilize their head they start doing arm and leg movements, right? So basically hip and joint movements start to develop and that's the simplest form of locomotion. That's basically single joint locomotion. So when I move my arm from one point to another point that's a form of locomotion. It's simple though, right? And then we start to combine those different hip and shoulder movements until eventually what do we have? We have a weight shift to one side or the other and that's the first example of rolling. Basically, now you have locomotion that involves your tire body moving and then let's say eventually you get to a frontline position and just some random combinations. You eventually learn to build up to a crawling position and now you have again a slightly more complex locomotion where you then learn to crawl, you then learn to build up. You learn to basically weight shift and take your first step so that you end up in a single kneeling position and then you eventually build up to a standing position. So the things that the athletic ability that we develop first in life is basically spinal stabilization, single joint movements, and then we learn the developmental movements, which is how to transition between lying, kneeling and standing positions.

[00:09:18.040] – Mark

And that's really where the foundation of athletic ability is developed. You need spinal stabilization and you have basically control of weight shifting. So then when you learn to walk or run or sprint, you have rhythmic side to side weight shifting through coordinated hip and shoulder movement and a little bit of rotation around the spine. And that's something that you use everywhere. Think about it. Like when you throw a punch or if you throw a ball, you have a lateral weight shift with coordinated hip and shoulder movement and rotation around the spine. And the examples of that are endless. So really, like if I'm trying to get you the best possible results in overall improvements of performance with the least amount of energy, it makes sense for me to design my exercise programs so that you improve the skills needed for locomotion.

[00:10:09.010] – Allan

Okay. Now a lot of us, when we think about exercise, it's typically going to be we're going to be doing weights of some sort in the weight room, in the gym maybe, or at home, or we're going to be running. Those are the kind of the two primary paradigms. When you say exercise, that's where most people's heads go. Why is that not the best way for us to approach this?

[00:10:31.450] – Mark

I think you can run and I think you can lift weights. I actually do both of those things. I think that you just have to have an understanding that you should do those things in a way so that you get the best possible overall results and you don't become too specialized. Right? So for example, there's a lot of guys at the gym with really big muscular bodies and they're really strong in the gym. But to be totally honest, if you were to take them on a long hike or for a short swim, they wouldn't make it, right? I think when it comes to truly fitness, which I define as preparedness, being fit just needs to be prepared. You're ready. And I would say fitness is about general preparedness. So when you do those things, you want to do them in a way so that you don't become worse at the thing that you need most, which is locomotion. So if you were to lift weights, combining it maybe with a little bit of running and walking especially would not be a bad idea. So really, I think you can do those things. They're not bad, and if you enjoy them, I tell people absolutely continue doing them.

[00:11:37.480] – Mark

But I think what we really need is we need an understanding of the fundamental athletic skills that you have to maintain in order to have a long, healthy, strong life. I think longevity depends largely on the strength of our foundation, which is made up of those fundamentals that I've mentioned. So you have to systematically train. You have to basically train your posture. And what does good posture means? It means basically being able to maintain a neutral spine, basically a long spine that's in the middle. You want to maintain all your joint functions, especially for your hips, spine, and shoulders. Right. You want to learn to move your arms and legs around a neutral spine and to be able to control weight shifting. And as long as you systematically develop those fundamentals, then really that lays really solve the foundation for you to do anything else, such as running, such as weight lifting. And that's what my nine minute programs do, so they're a great compliment in addition to being a standalone program.

[00:12:41.430] – Allan

Okay, now what do you think about machines then?

[00:12:44.530] – Mark

The problem with machines is really I talk, for example, about posture and weight shifting, right? Like weight shifting really is balance, but it's balance in motion, which is what we need. The problem with machines is, sure, you're training different joint functions, but a lot of times you're only training joint functions on the sagittal plane, which is basically forward, back, up and down movements. You don't have lateral movement, you don't have rotation, you don't have circumduction, which is making circles, and you have absolutely no need for balance or the ability to maintain a neutral spine while you're performing these functions. If you become really strong on these machines, but you're unable to maintain a neutral spine or good posture while you're exerting force, you're going to be more prone to injury, and your performance just will not be optimal, especially if you have poor posture in conjunction with the inability to control weight shift and basically poor balance and coordination. So there's a lot more to strength than just being able to exert force. There's fundamental athletic skills that we have to learn, and machines won't do that for you.

[00:13:51.740] – Allan

Yeah, and as you said earlier, if you practice something, you get good at it. So we get good at lifting on that particular machine that doesn't necessarily relate to real world strength.

[00:14:01.700] – Mark

I mean, that's exactly it. Adaptation tends to be pretty specific. That's why we have to be very clear about what it is that we're trying to develop.

[00:14:08.350] – Allan

Okay, now you've talked a little bit about posture, but let's dive in a little bit deeper. You sort of defined it, but let's redefine posture. And why is that so important to functional movement?

[00:14:20.490] – Mark

Okay, so first of all, posture mainly refers typically, it refers mainly to the alignment of your spine, right? And the spine is really that's your nervous system. I mean, it's not your actual nervous system. It's a part of your skeletal system that on which your nervous system depends. Right, so we have to protect our nervous system. Posture is the alignment of the spine and the place where so here's a good question. We talked about posture. We said that it's the alignment of the spine. And we often talk about good posture. And a lot of times we know that good posture tends to be when you're straight, right? Or your spine is relatively straight, it's neutral, meaning that it's in the middle. So why is the middle the right place for you to be? Right? That's the question. And the reason is that when you're not an flexion, you're not an extension, you're in the middle. That's where your safest. Because think about it, when you're at an extreme range of motion, like take any of your joints, if you're at an extreme end range of a joint's function, that's where you're most likely to get injured, right?

[00:15:33.510] – Mark

If you're in the middle, that's where you're safest because that's where you have the most room for error in the middle. It's a little bit like if you are standing way up on a little platform up in the air, where do you want to be standing on that little tiny platform? You want to be in the middle, right? So all these joints, you want them stacked on top of each other and neutrally aligned, meaning in the middle. So one, it's the safest. Two also is that the transfer of energy is going to be best when everything is neutrally aligned in the middle. When you have a long, straight, neutral spine, which you see typically for most sports, athletes do really well. They're doing that because it's safe and the transfer of energy is easiest like that. So it's about efficiency and safety, really.

[00:16:25.220] – Allan

Okay. Now, in the book you went into a little bit about motivation. Can you talk about your opinion about motivation? Because I think a lot of people get into working out and they just really struggle to keep after it when anything gets in their way and kind of bust their bubble. Can you talk about motivation?

[00:16:43.820] – Mark

Yes, motivation is so I don't get into cheerleading. And I think really the best way to motivate people is the way our behavior develops. It's about cost versus benefit. And when there's a behavior that is low cost, meaning low energy or low energy and low time, and the benefit of the reward is high in comparison to the cost, then that behavior tends to get repeated, right? And the reverse of that is also true. So if you have a high cost, certain behavior requires a lot of energy and a lot of time, and then there's a small reward, then the chance of that behavior continuing goes way, way down. And that's just simply understanding how we function as humans. And it makes a lot of sense. So I think one of the biggest problems in fitness is actually doing too much. And doing too much causes you to do too little, if that makes sense. Because in the beginning, in order for you to adapt and get results, you actually need very, very little because it's a new form of stimulus. So usually what we do is we go to the gym, we drive 20, 30 minutes.

[00:18:05.060] – Mark

Then you're using a bunch of machines doing strength training for, let's say, 30, 40 minutes. Then maybe you're doing some cardio and then you're driving home, let's call it an hour and a half, even if it's just an hour. So the cost there in time is pretty significant, especially if you're doing it three to five times a week. The cost of energy is super high. Right. And it's much more than you need. So there's a really high cost and time and energy. Then you're probably super sore for the next five days. We've all experienced that we did too much. Probably ten minutes would have been totally fine. So now the behavior was high cost, you're getting punished for it. And the results are not really they don't justify the cost. So the behavior tends to stop. That's a big part of the design of these nine minute exercise programs, actually, in the beginning of these nine minute so Strong and Lean comes with four six week cycles. And the nine minute workouts in the beginning, they start easy, actually. And you'll be surprised that in the beginning, you actually need very little to make good progress.

[00:19:13.310] – Mark

And doing more doesn't accelerate your progress. It just makes it less likely that you're going to stay consistent. So, again, the way this exercise program is designed is with an understanding of how we adapt and how we function.

[00:19:27.190] – Allan

Yeah. So let's dive in a little bit more into the program because a lot of aspects of it, one being nine minutes, I think that's something that just about anybody can free up nine minutes. Well, a little bit longer with a warm up and a cool down. But in general, we're talking less than a total of probably 15 minutes to be ready to get this done. And we're doing it like three times a week. Two or three times a week. Right. Can you just talk about the program and how it's put together and how people would progress through it?

[00:19:56.370] – Mark

Sure. So, like I said, the book has four six week cycles. In the first cycle, you're training just three times a week, monday, Wednesday, Friday. And the workouts require nothing but floor space. You're doing each 9 minute workout consists of three exercises that are repeated for three rounds. So basically, each exercise is allocated 1 minute. So you're doing three exercises for 1 minute each, which is three minutes, and then you're doing three rounds of that, which is nine minutes. But doing an exercise for a minute straight, like, let's take an example that everybody's familiar with. Like, to do a straight minute of pushups is actually very difficult. Right? So you could actually probably take some easy variation of the push up and then just do 40 seconds of it, rest 20 seconds, then do the next exercise for 40 seconds, rest 20 seconds, and so on. Right? And that's how the program structured, where there's a work interval and a rest interval and then it goes on to the next exercise. And as the weeks progress, the work duration increases and the rest intervals decrease. And those changes in intervals make a big difference. The first exercise is always a floor exercise designed to improve your posture, which will work your upper back, your core or your hips.

[00:21:21.320] – Mark

The second exercise is a mobility exercise. And then the third exercise is a standing exercise that improves your ability, basically standing movements that's going to be more your legs, your spinal erectors to work, weight shifting. As the cycles progress, you go from three times a week to four times a week and eventually five times a week. So the overall training volume increases. And additionally, starting in cycle three, we have nine minute circuits specifically designed for strength training. So they're a little less mobility based and more focused on strength. And those have a pushing exercise, a pulling exercise and a leg exercise where you have the option to also hold a weight and those get really tough. All these programs have progressions built into them and systematically cover all the fundamental athletic skills that you need to perform optimally and to develop a good strong body.

[00:22:21.500] – Allan

And what I like is after the first workout, the first workout, of course you have to introduce a whole bunch of exercises, but after that you really only roll in one kind of new thing at a time. So they're learning something new, they're doing something a little different. So there's some variety in there. But it's not overwhelming that there's 300 exercises that you're going to do all given to you and you're just trying to figure them out as you're doing them, you'll learn them, you'll get better at this stuff and then they start progressing. And I like how a lot of these are set up to progress. And then I guess the premise would be you go through the four six week cycles and then you can just go back and repeat week three, week four, and you can just make that a cycle that's going to give you some periodization and it's just going to allow you to continue to progress.

[00:23:09.730] – Mark

Right, exactly. So, yeah, just trying to make everything as simple and easy as possible, honestly, to get people the best possible results with the least amount of time and effort. So after the first workout, I never introduced more than one new exercise. But each new workout you'll get one tip on how to perform one of the exercises better. So there's gradual learning and introduction of new exercises. And at the end, if you complete all four six week cycles, then at the end of that book, we say that you can continue to repeat cycles three and four indefinitely. I have a subscription platform, mark lauren on Demand, which is a suite of apps for iOS, Android, Roku, et cetera. And there I actually have five cycles, and the training can continue there as well.

[00:23:53.780] – Allan

Okay, cool.

[00:23:55.750] – Allan

Like I said, it's really good. And the thing about it is the book has good demonstration pictures to show you the movements, and you're performing them as the guy. A lot of pictures. A lot of pictures there. And the descriptions of the movements are really good. One of the things that I kind of pride myself with is some of my clients are blind. And coaching a blind client that can't look at a picture, look at a video and describing the exercise, that's not an easy talent. But it's something you also seem to have with the way that you describe each of the movements in the book. So kudos for that.

[00:24:32.680] – Mark

Thank you. I really appreciate that.

[00:24:34.370] – Allan

Mark, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest, and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

[00:24:42.490] – Mark

To stay well? So me being a fitness guy, I try to really clearly define everything. And I already said that I think fitness, it's about preparedness, it's about general preparedness. And I think general preparedness is really about the fundamentals. If you think about fitness as a whole, you could break it down into usually you hear three parts. You hear about food, nutrition, movement, and recovery, right? Those are the fundamentals of life. Like, if you don't have those, you will not survive. So I really think fitness is about doing those things really well. I think fitness is about doing the basic, most common things really well and continuing to learn how to do them better. And I think a big part of wellness and fitness is valuing and caring about the right things. And I think a lot of times, especially by marketing and our culture, were sort of seduced by shiny, complex things. But the real value, the things that really make us healthy and happy and fit and prepared are the basic, common, day to day things. And so my expertise is in the movement part of fitness. And again, there I think it's about the basics.

[00:25:54.850] – Mark

It's about basically those fundamental athletic skills that you learned earliest in life. I think it's my job to refine them, to clearly define what those things are so that we can improve them, refine them, and maintain them. Because think about it, what is it that you lose later in life? You start to lose your posture. Joint functions go away, and then our ability to control weight shifting goes away, and we start to fall, and we become insecure about getting up and down off the ground, like you're no longer able to get down and get up off the ground so easily. Right? So my fitness program, largely on the movement part of fitness and well being, is really about maintaining those basic fundamental skills that are always being used so you can move well into old age. And then if you want a strong, beautiful body that you have the joint alignment needed to basically be able to take the stress to build muscle and to burn all those calories. So, simply put out, I think it's about valuing fundamentals.

[00:26:55.810] – Allan

Thank you. So, Mark, if someone wanted to learn more about you and the programs and the book Strong and Lean, where would you like for me to send them?

[00:27:04.690] – Mark

marklauren.com has obviously all my information. I have instagram marklaurentraining. My book is available at any major bookseller and also Amazon.com. Yeah, I think it's the main places. marklauren.com, I have Facebook, Instagram, and I actually just started TikTok page a few days ago.

[00:27:27.050] – Mark

You got to do what you got to do.

[00:27:28.800] – Allan

You got to do what you got to do. Mark, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

[00:27:31.990] – Mark

Hey, I really appreciate you having me on here.

Post Show/Recap

[00:27:43.170] – Allan

Welcome back, Ras.

[00:27:44.670] – Rachel

Hey, Allan. This is yet another book I need to add to my bookshelf. I love nine minutes.

[00:27:51.710] – Allan

Yes, he is one of the fittest people I've seen in a long, long time. And he demonstrates all of the exercises in the book. And part of what I know is when you have a photographer taking pictures and you're doing it, you end up doing multiple, multiple reps. So you're doing the reps and you perhaps trying to hold yourself in some of the positions for the pictures so that you get a good image of the bottom position or the top position. So I know some of the work he did to just even do this book was just fantastic. So very fit guy. And body weight.

[00:28:31.020] – Rachel

That's great. And I love body weight. I know that it gets a bad rap and a lot of fitness circles, but body weight movements are so important. And I can tell you that they've helped me a ton with staying healthy and strong for running. So I can't say enough good things about it.

[00:28:47.080] – Allan

Yeah, I like moving heavy weights. But he's right when he starts talking about locomotion being one of the core components, strength and control, locomotion. And so the exercises he has in the book are not necessarily they're not power movements and they obviously don't require any equipment. But I can just tell you, you can get really strong. And the exercises he has in there are varied. So the first time he's adding a whole bunch of exercises and then it's like each training after that, he's just adding one new exercise. So you're not having to learn a whole bunch of exercises. What happens is through the course of doing the training, you're incorporating different movements. And so this is a cycle thing, basically a periodized process. And at the end, you'll have a very balanced program for full body strength and control. And you'll be locomotive. I mean, you'll be able to do a lot of things you can't do.

[00:29:53.360] – Rachel

Now, what I love about it is that one, it's simple. It's simple and it doesn't take that much time, but it delivers a big bang for the buck. And I think that's what we need in our lives, especially all of us that are really busy with other jobs and child responsibilities and school and work and all the things. I mean, nine minutes, or like you said, 15 with a warm up and a cool down. 15 minutes, that's not that hard to squeeze that into a day and get a big bang for the buck.

[00:30:22.150] – Allan

Yeah, if you can't squeeze 15 minutes, then you're not committed to this. This is just not going to happen. 15 minutes is nothing. Three times a week, that's 45 total minutes. You spend more time than that on the toilet.

[00:30:42.430] – Rachel

Social media and binge watching our favorite TV shows and whatever. Yeah, we could definitely.

[00:30:51.070] – Allan

This is a good way if you do feel that you're just so time strapped. And like, I can't work out because I'm 06:00 until 11:00 every single day. And I'm like, no, probably not every single day, but you can get in 15 minutes.

[00:31:05.590] – Rachel

And the other thing, too, it doesn't sound like he requires a lot of weights or bands or any equipment. So this is also something that can go with you. You're traveling right now. I was traveling a little while ago when we're not home or can't get to the gym or like up here in Michigan. I'll be snowed in pretty soon this winter and can't go anywhere. It would be great just to have some simple, quick body weight movements and it's enough to keep it going.

[00:31:31.300] – Allan

Yeah. And the investment in this book is a lot cheaper than buying yourself weight equipment and a stationary bike and all the other stuff that you would have. And because of the nature of what he's doing, it's not so hyper specialized like he was talking about, where you're just building strength in a range. So I have strong legs from doing squats and I have strong chest from doing presses. That's great. But some of the exercises he has are going at angles that you would never be able to accomplish on a bench. You're pulling and pushing in very different ways. So it's a lot more balanced than I think a lot of people can do if they're just going and doing the exercise. Particularly if you like the machines and you're spending all of your time on the machines.

[00:32:17.830] – Rachel

Well, it's interesting you mentioned that, too, because right after I listen to this podcast, I had to run up and buy some softener salts for a water softener in our house. The bags are 40 lbs. It's an awkward carry. So I'm doing the farmer's carry, trying to get them from my garage down to the basement. But you need that stability. You need that foundation of a strong posture, a strong back strong abs in order for my arms to dangle 40 pound bags of softener salt and not fall over, fall down the stairs. So it was just really timely that having that foundation of strength is a great place to start.

[00:32:55.790] – Allan

Yeah. Like I said, he's super fit. So don't think you're beyond what he's doing in this book, because I can tell you, you're not. Professional athletes would struggle with some of these movements at first until they learned them and got good at them and built the strength to hold themselves and have the right posture and do the things they needed to do. And so none of this is going to be easy. If you're doing it right, it's all going to challenge you and it's going to make you stronger and better.

[00:33:24.740] – Rachel

I love that. That sounds really exciting. This is in my Amazon box already.

[00:33:30.010] – Allan

Good. All right, well, Rachel, I'll talk to you next week.

[00:33:34.000] – Rachel

Great. Take care, Allan.

[00:33:35.550] – Allan

You, too.

[00:33:36.420] – Rachel

Thank you.


The following listeners have sponsored this show by pledging on our Patreon Page:

– Anne Lynch– Ken McQuade– Margaret Bakalian
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Thank you!

Another episode you may enjoy


How to own your power to serve, fight, protect, and heal with DJ Vanas

Apple Google Spotify Overcast Youtube

In his book, The Warrior Within, DJ Vanas teaches us from the perspective of North American indigenous people how to better care for ourselves so we can serve and protect those around us. On episode 554 of the 40+ Fitness Podcast, we sit down and talk about this and the book.


Let's Say Hello

Because Rachel is on an off-the-grid hike for 8 days, we won't be having the normal hello session on this episode.


[00:04:05.590] – Allan

DJ, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

[00:04:08.410] – DJ

Thank you for having me, Allan. Happy to be here.

[00:04:10.760] – Allan

Now your book, The Warrior Within: Own Your Power to Serve, Fight, Protect, and Heal, it kind of appealed to me, the one there's, the guy thing. But there's plenty of female warriors out there, so ladies don't tune out because this is for anybody that serves. And if you're a mother, if you're a grandmother, if you're a daughter in some capacities, you are serving, you are fighting and you're protecting just as much as any man or anybody else. So this is everybody and I really want to start telling you there's something you had in the book. And I'm like if I was going to say what is this book about and why this book is important, I would say this and this is from you. Anything that makes us mentally stronger and more true to ourselves is worth investing time and effort. And so reading a book, learning these lessons that you bring forward in the book, that's a great investment.

[00:05:06.610] – DJ

Yeah, well, that's why I wrote it. That's my hope. That was my goal, is to make sure that what I wrote was worthy of everybody's time, focus and attention. We live in a busy, hurry up world and I wanted to share the things that I know have impact, that I know can move the needle on the dial, getting to that level of life that we want to get to where we're a better version of ourselves, we're stronger, we're more resilient and we're more able to serve the people that we love and are with everyday.

[00:05:37.330] – Allan

And that's one of the topics I kind of want to get into early on here, is that I think when we become parents, particularly when we become parents, I think it's just something in your head just because quick, I'm a different person, I got to do something different here. But a lot of people also choose careers where they're serving as a teacher, as a firefighter, as a policeman in the military or even just being a leader in your community.

[00:06:02.530] – DJ


[00:06:03.080] – Allan

I think a lot of us get so involved in that that we miss one of the most important things and that's actually taking care of the warrior first.

[00:06:14.110] – DJ


[00:06:15.040] – Allan

Can you talk about self care and why that's so important and how we can make that paradigm shift?

[00:06:21.610] – DJ

It's critical and I'm glad that you're bringing this up. And by the way, that list that you just fired off. All those people are populated throughout the book. Those examples, those real world impact moments of how these principles show up in the lives of educators, firefighters, people in health care. When we talk about this warrior concept, and again, it transcends race, gender, age, stage of life. So I want to make sure that that's clear. But I put very directly in the book, you cannot be a warrior when you're falling apart. It just doesn't work. Intentions, you can dismiss them. It's execution that matters. And when we talk about this in practical terms, it comes down to self care, taking care of the vessel of all this great service, which is us. And you are the only you that you will ever have or be in this lifetime. We have to act accordingly. And sometimes we wait for other people to take care of us. We wait for it to be convenient and never will be. We wait for something to intervene, to really pull us into that self care mode. And sometimes that thing that pulls us into it is a health crisis.

[00:07:28.690] – DJ

And that's the reality is we need warriors who can sustain in the good fight every day, serving other people well, having a good impact. What we don't need is martyrs. And martyrs are the ones that just go till they fall apart, stand back, look at the debris field and say, how the heck did this happen? And I work with these people and I love them, whether it's a firefighter or educator or people serving in the military who are given their heart day in and day out, but they're not holding anything back to keep developing and protecting themselves. And that is unsustainable.

[00:08:04.690] – Allan

And the worst part of it is we don't get to choose when we fall apart. It's going to happen when it's going to happen. So you might be most needed at that moment when you're most unable.

[00:08:17.230] – DJ

And that's the reality. And that becomes extremely painful for people who have dedicated their lives to impacting others in a positive way. We don't know when it's going to show up. Sometimes we get some indicators, but we really don't know when to make that change until something crisis level happens. And that's one way to learn. I don't recommend it. I went through that same experience myself. Yeah, it was an awful experience, but it also made me a born again advocate for self care. Because I know if you keep doing that over and over again, drawing from the well without putting anything back, not only is your warrior spirit going to be depleted and drained, but you are going to go into a place where you don't want to go, which is that complete apathy, burnout health crisis. And there are better ways to do things in life. And you can learn from my painful lesson when you read the book on how not to wait, but to take care of yourself. Every day in our tribal communities, we talk about medicine. I mentioned that in the book too, as something that goes beyond a pill or a vaccine.

[00:09:22.600] – DJ

Medicine in our tribal communities and our traditions was anything and everything that kept us healthy, mind, body and spirit. So it could be spending time with family, spending time alone, it could be getting enough sleep, exercise, funny movies, hobbies, outdoors, whatever it is. That's your medicine list. We have to incorporate that daily because also tribal, we look at medicine, it's not something we go to when we're already sick and out of balance. It's something we incorporate into our lives to keep us healthy and strong.

[00:09:51.550] – Allan

Now, when we hear the term warrior, I think, and you said this in the book very well, people think of this really strong, almost invincible, against the odds, us against the world, or against the army or against whatever. And we don't realize how much when you actually look at real warriors in action, how they're not ashamed or afraid and they have the courage to ask for help.

[00:10:26.950] – DJ

Yeah. And that's a tough lesson to learn because the reality is you have to ask yourself a question how bad do you want to serve others? And if it is a deep drive, that passionate drive, then you have to set yourself up for long term success. And that's part of that self care idea. And yes, warriors are strong, but they are not invincible. I write in the book very clearly, warriors are not bulletproof. In our tribal traditions, our warriors fought against incredible odds. They were out matched technologically, they were lied to, it every turn. They had all these different obstacles and they still found a way to rally and deliver what they needed to for their people, to protect and defend their people. And if we're going to do that in our roles today, we have to take care of ourselves in the best way we know how. And a lot of that includes support from the outside because we over emphasize this warrior role where it is somebody who always has the right answer, is always strong, never afraid, doesn't deal with pain, doesn't need any outside support or encouragement. And that's all garbage that gets us into hot water quicker than anything.

[00:11:40.750] – DJ

Warriors are strong, but they struggle at times. Warriors are brave, but they deal with fear. Warriors are courageous and action oriented, but they also fall down at times and need help. That's totally okay. As I said, you have to think bigger picture. We all need that. We're all human beings. So that's important to include in our resource list. Yeah.

[00:12:04.500] – Allan

Now, I know from experience in the military, and you can see this in movies, it's a little bit more overdramatized of okay, get on the radio and call in support. It's a pretty common thing in a lot of movies where someone had that drama of we're getting overrun. But in real life that can be something as simple as just asking your spouse to take care of the children for 20 minutes or so for you to just go have a mental health break it's knowing when you need that and asking for that help and not being afraid to communicate that I'm being vulnerable with it. But just saying. Hey. I can't do this on my own right now. I need your help. And that trust that you put in the person that's helping you, well, they're probably a warrior in heart too. So it's a symbiotic thing where you're letting another warrior come in and be there for you just like you're going to be there for them later.

[00:13:01.450] – DJ

That's it. And there's strength and vulnerability. That's the other thing I've learned as I've gone along on my journey is being able to think through a different lens, realizing that sometimes the ultimate strength is actually asking for help, saying, hey, I'm not doing this right, I need some outside support, I need a different answer. That takes great courage and that's sometimes we're all worse than me when we don't exercise that. But just being able to reach out and get that support, that is critical because the way that we're wired, it's really bizarre because the moment that we're going through struggle is the time that we need support the most. But it's also the time where we are most likely to withdraw and go into our bunker, go into our own teepee and just lock everybody else out. And I always share with people, I was taught traditionally we're a lot more like bees and ants than we are like eagles. We need each other. We're better when we're with each other. Or let me clarify that with the right people we become very important to eliminate that. But we become more resilient, we become stronger, we become more brave, we become a better version of ourselves based on who we're surrounding ourselves with at the time.

[00:14:15.050] – DJ

That's why it's critical that we're not only selective be picky on who you tribe up with, who you associate with as a fellow warrior because if they're out there doing that good work at times you're going to lean on each other. And I take great comfort in knowing I'm surrounded by that caliber of folk. The men and women that are in my life that I know will be there for me just as I am for them. That's how you become brave as a group. That's why I say in the book warriors never fought alone. Why? Because that's dumb. You are going to severely limit your capacity to deliver anything good into this world when you try to go solo or lone wolf, it just doesn't work. It looks good on TV or in the movie, but in reality it doesn't work like that and it gets us into trouble more often than not.

[00:15:04.270] – Allan

Even rambo usually has a little bit of help

[00:15:07.930] – DJ

a little bit.

[00:15:09.730] – DJ

It's still mostly him. But that's that imagery, though, that gets us into trouble. And we do that too. Even in our native communities, we over romanticize that warrior role and make it inaccessible. And it's like that warrior role isn't about perfection. It's not about having all the right answers. It's about being strong enough to get yourself up when you get knocked down and continue to serve other people to the best of your ability. But warriors cry. They make mistakes, they stumble, but what they don't do is quit. And so that's the deciding factor there in that dynamic.

[00:15:44.710] – Allan

Yeah. Now, as a personal trainer, I come across people and there's two basic excuses that I get from people when they come. And probably the one that I kind of poopoo away and say, okay, that's not really true, is the motivation part. And I'm like, you'll be motivated when you want to do this more than you don't want to decline. When that balance happens, the motivation will come. But the other one I can somewhat agree with, at least from a perspective of experience, of understanding, when you think, okay, I just don't have enough time in the day to do the things I need to do for the self care, for the this or for the that. And you put something in the book, and I think it comes back to that phrase you used a minute ago, being picky. Yeah. Can you talk about kind of the mindset of what you put in the book about how we can look at time management to make sure that we have the time to do what we need to do?

[00:16:46.690] – DJ

Yeah, great question. First and foremost, there is no time for anything in this world. There's no time to eat, to pray, to play, to work out, to hang out with our families. There's only time for what we make time for, and that is it. If our health and wellness are not at the top of that pyramid, I'll tell you what we've also probably experienced everything we're trying to do may fall short because how realistic is it to go into this world, into this life, into this warrior role and want to deliver 100% of who we are and what we can do on a half charge battery or less? I mean, that's like plant carrot seeds and hope when coconuts grow. That's pure wishful thinking, and it's not reality. And the thing is, with time, it's non renewable. That's the other thing that makes it so precious, is we have to put it not towards everything, which is the temptation of the world we live in, but towards the right things. And if we never learn to delineate which is which, we doom ourselves to chaos. And one of the biggest challenges is learning not just what to say yes to.

[00:17:50.210] – DJ

We're good at that. It's learning what to say no to so that we have clarity of purpose we're able to concentrate our power and focus on the things that really matter because to not do that, we're dividing and conquering ourselves, which is the worst thing a warrior can do in battle. We're spread too thin and my gosh, do we feel it. We feel like too little peanut butter on too much toast, going a million different directions and not doing well in any one of them. So time management is absolutely critical in a busy world, and saying no to certain things, I know, can be painful. But the good news is you're saying yes even louder to the right things. And we're the ones who have to do that.

[00:18:29.780] – Allan

Yeah. And that's important. Everybody is going to pull on your time if you let them.

[00:18:35.740] – DJ

That's true. We live in a world where everybody and everything wants a piece of your time and they'll take little bites here and there and it's almost like you're swimming with piranha. Eventually you got nothing left and you don't know where it went. So that's why you got to get out of that pit or that pool of water and be able to operate on your own and be conscious about the choices you're making.

[00:18:57.010] – Allan

So about nine years ago I did a Tough mudder and then I was going to try to do a Spartan about four years ago or so and I tore my rotator cuff and so it's kind of that setback. And I was training for another Tough mudder that was supposed to do and not much time. It's pretty soon coming up here and I hurt my back and I didn't hurt any training. I don't know exactly how I heard it. It's not cute, but you said something in the book. The phrase you use is what to do when the wolf comes. And it's like, okay, I'm 56 years old. Occasionally I'm going to have some form of injury. It's kind of almost part of it, I'll tell you. Mentally, it's tough. How do we deal with setbacks properly? Because I think all of us are going to experience them as we go. It's never just the happy sailing, everything is good, I'm winning all the battles kind of thing.

[00:19:53.370] – DJ

Yeah. And it feels great when we're winning. Right. But the guarantee is the wolf will come and the wolf is that really huge setback, that heartbreak, that loss, that devastating pain, where we really are kind of reeling and wondering how do I keep moving forward at this point? How do I even stay afloat at this point? And a big part of that comes from who we surround ourselves with, like what we were just talking about, who we tribe up with, who our fellow warriors are. We need to be able to identify that and it's better to know what that looks like before you go into that moment than trying to figure that out when you're there. So that's the first one. The second one is really having a strong relationship within yourself. To be able to ask yourself questions when you're going through emotional turmoil that comes with loss, pain, setback is being able to kind of have a self interview where you're able to talk to yourself. And when you're able to do that and sit down with your emotions, I know it can be scary, but I promise everybody listening. You will not ignite on fire.

[00:20:56.900] – DJ

You will not melt down. You will not die. I know it's scary to do that, because dealing with those emotions makes us more resilient and enables us to get through them versus running away from them, which I know is a temptation. I mean, I've done that in my life, too, where you run away from the bad feelings as long as you can. They still catch up with you. They just catch up with you when you're exhausted now and not in a good position to deal with them. So it's better to face it and deal with it. But being able to ask questions like, are these thoughts useful? Because a lot of times, man, we all do it. We ruminate, we kind of go over the same turf over and over again. We're not making any progress. Why did this happen to me? How is this fair? Why does the world work? Like, we start going through this Rumination process that doesn't serve. The second thing is we can start asking ourselves questions like, what story am I telling myself about what just happened? We all talk about are all familiar with PTSD. Post traumatic stress disorder.

[00:21:56.720] – DJ

But there's also a thing called post traumatic growth. Which there's a lot of great researchers who are working on this now. And one of the big takeaways seligman is one of them who identifies that one of the most important questions we can ask is. What am I telling myself about this story or what I'm going through right now? And is it a story of doom gloom? It's never going to be the same. I'll always be broken or have a wound, or is it this is a learning experience. Yes, this is hard. I can do this. I can do hard things, and I'm going to be better for it and be able to help other people maybe deal with their stuff, too. Same situation, two different stories. But we're the narrator, we're the director, the producer, the actor, so we can recreate it. And then the other question is, is this story real or is this just fear showing up? Am I just really in pain right now? And if so, that's okay. You need to take care of yourself. But when we're able to do that, we're able to assess where we are and then how to move forward.

[00:22:59.230] – DJ

We can't do that if we're just in panic mode or stay stuck in the paint.

[00:23:05.620] – Allan

For me, it was looking at it from the Holistic of this thing really defined me. And it's like, no, this is critically important. I'm not a professional athlete. I'm not getting paid to do this event. I was doing this event because it was fun and it was motivating and the training to know that, okay, I got to build myself stronger than I need to be, to be who I am today, to do the event the way I want to do it. And I was going in that direction, but when I think about it from the longer term, it's like, okay, no, that event, that point in time, doesn't define me. It's upsetting that I won't get to do it, but I still get to be me. I still get to have the future that I'm going to have. I still get to be the warrior tomorrow.

[00:23:58.450] – DJ

That's it.

[00:23:59.480] – Allan

And it won't do me any good to hurt myself worse today for the sake of something that isn't nearly as important as what I want tomorrow.

[00:24:08.110] – DJ

That's it. And you live to fight another day. This is such a great point, Allan. It doesn't define us. That one moment doesn't define us. It's really crazy to me, and not because we're all guilty of doing this, you run into one bad moment. You completely dismiss the track record that you build in your life, in your career, on your journey to get to that point in the first place. We took completely forget it. And that's one of the things I talk about in the book, is recognizing when you exercise courage, when you show discipline, when you face fear head on, is recognize those moments of bravery. Recognize those. Don't forget them. Don't blow past them. Because what happens is we're just looking forward all the time, which is important to look forward, but we never look behind us to see what it took to get here. And the reason why that's so important is when we remind ourselves of who we are and what we've done in the past, when we encounter that fear again or that setback, we can look at that reservoir of courage, and we can draw from it. We can say things like, I've been here before.

[00:25:10.690] – DJ

I've done this. I can handle this. I did it before. And actually, what I went through before was even worse, and I'm still doing this. So it's a process. And the other thing is, with the setbacks, we learn a lot about ourselves. One of the stories I tell in the book was about training for the Wing Open boxing tournament my senior year at the Air Force Academy. And I trained, I worked my guts out, and I broke my nose twice. The second time was two weeks before the tournament, and I broke cracked an eye orbital. So I was done. I was out. I was devastated. But I never looked at that as a defeat. I looked at it as a disappointment, but I never looked at it as a defeat. Just like, what you're saying with your injury, you can only do so much. And at that point, if you fall short, we can beat ourselves up for it or we can honor all that it took to get to that point in the first place. It's not always going to work out in our favor.

[00:26:07.510] – Allan

Yeah, absolutely.

[00:26:09.910] – Allan

DJ, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

[00:26:19.570] – DJ

I love this question. This is a journey where all works in progress, but if we have that as a goal, and basically I would summarize that as kind of being the best version of ourselves and we're constantly evolving, we're constantly transforming, or at least should be. But the way that I see that is, again, having a personal dialogue, having a personal connection, and constantly taking an assessment of where you are. Are you happy with where you are? And if not, what are you doing to progress in that area? So it's kind of like a heat seeking missile going towards a target. There's infinite micro corrections to get to the target, and that's part of life we have to constantly be assessing. Am I doing well in this area and this area? Can I work on this area a little bit here? I'm doing pretty good, but it's a constant assessment and it's an internal thing externally. Again, we have to surround ourselves with the right people. I can't stress environment enough. I had an elder tell me this years ago. He said our spirits are like sponges. They soak up whatever they're around. And we get to define what that is.

[00:27:27.370] – DJ

Are we listening to an eight hour news loop or are we hanging out with our friends who give us encouragement? Reading books that inspire our minds, going through health practices that strengthen our body and minds. We get to determine what we're surrounding ourselves with that's also critical to our success. And then the other thing is celebrating. Celebrating the wins. Gosh, we don't do that nearly enough and we wonder why we condition ourselves just to kind of be humdrum and just on to the next thing. It's like we need to learn to celebrate, do the victory dance. We had songs when warriors would come back from battle to celebrate that victory. We wanted it to be something that people remembered. And how often do we achieve great things in a moment and we just totally blow past and go onto the next thing? How can we be inspired to go onto the next thing when we're not even honoring this thing? It just doesn't work. So we need to learn to celebrate, reward ourselves. Give yourself a break. A pat on the back and make it appropriate too. You don't want to do a good workout, good 20 minutes workout, then have a full chocolate cake.

[00:28:42.630] – DJ

Yeah, it's like you got to balance it out. But even sometimes I find. For me, some of the best rewards I give myself is just permission or kind of an acknowledgment that in that moment I delivered. Just to be able to actually recognize that that's one of the best feelings. It's not about buying something or going somewhere. It's about being able to sit with yourself and have that internal conversation where you hear your own voice telling yourself, you did a great job there, you really delivered, you brought it, and that feels awesome. I mean, we need that. But however you celebrate, we need to do that more because we want to condition ourselves for the next success and the next. We don't want to condition ourselves to go into Burnout faster.

[00:29:27.770] – Allan

Perfect. DJ, if someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about the book, The Warrior Within. Where would you like for me to send them?

[00:29:36.530] – DJ

Please go to nativediscoverycom. That's my website and it's got all the information on what I do, who I work with, information about the book and where you can get it. It will be available everywhere, also as an audiobook, but really excited to put it out into the world and strengthen the people that read it and appreciate that.

[00:29:58.810] – Allan

It's got a lot of great insights. So thank you for sharing and thank you for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

[00:30:04.700] – DJ

Chimmy Gwetschniji. Thank you very much, my friend, for having me.

Post Show/Recap

[00:30:15.270] – Allan

Hey, Ras.

[00:30:16.410] – Rachel

Hey, Allan. That was an interesting interview with DJ Vanas. I'm curious to know it sounded like he was a Native American.

[00:30:24.000] – Allan

He is, yes. And very much in the service area, military and now service to people. This is written from a very different perspective of caring about people and being the light for others, the example for others. That's very important to him and with his culture. And so yeah, going through the book you really get a sense that he's a lead by example person.

[00:31:01.250] – Rachel

That's so neat. It was really interesting. There's a lot of good things in your interview, but why don't we talk about having the courage to ask for help? I know that I struggle with that sometimes it is hard to ask for help. I don't want to be a martyr or anything, but I just sometimes feel like it's just better if I get things done when on my own. And I do want to help. I want to be a good mom to my kids. I want to be a good wife to my husband and a good daughter to my parents. And sometimes it just gets overwhelming.

[00:31:34.030] – Allan

Yeah, this is just my opinion, so I could be completely wrong and if I am, just ignore me. But I think men have a difficulty asking for help when it comes to physical things and getting things done on that side. A lot of men will say, okay, I'll fix it myself. And I don't mind. We'll spend a whole Saturday fixing something they could have paid a mechanic $50 to fix, but they just want to do it themselves, and so they will sit there and go through that time and expense of figuring it out to solve that problem. Now, women on the other side, I think it comes to more of the emotional trying to get help with the things that a mother should be good at or a sister or a daughter should be good at. They don't want to ask for help there. But the reality is, regardless of what your hang up is, it's really important to recognize when asking for help will move the needle.

[00:32:40.680] – Rachel


[00:32:41.990] – Allan

And we've talked about big rocks and little rocks and all that. Sometimes your big rock is to ask for help.

[00:32:48.410] – Rachel


[00:32:50.150] – Allan

If you're thinking, okay, I could lose the weight myself, what you're saying is, okay, I lose 1 lb a month doing it the way I'm doing it, and I want to keep doing that. I'll get to my goal weight in three years. That's great if you stick with it for three years, whereas maybe just hiring a coach could get you there in a few months or six months. Same thing. If you want to run a five K, you could start training for the five K, but you might tell yourself, okay, well, we're getting close to the end of the season. They're going to do some fall runs up until Thanksgiving, Christmas, then it gets too cold here, and then it'll be March, April before I'd want to run again. So I'll train for a 5k in April.

[00:33:39.450] – Rachel

Yeah, right.

[00:33:40.320] – Allan

Okay. And knowing that most of that training is going to have to be done on the treadmill, or you could hire a running coach, and you could be running that 5K by November. You can be doing the turkey trot easy. And so just thinking in terms of how much a trainer will help you move the needle is a big thing. The other thing is asking for help elsewhere, and I think this is another area where I think women might have a more difficulty is to say, okay, you're the primary caregiver for children. You're the that, and you want to start training. Well, you can't be mom and train at the same time. And now maybe you're lucky enough to be in a place where they have a daycare at your gym, and you can drop the kid over there, and they can sit there and see mama working out over there, and they can watch their videos and things like that in the little play area, and that's cool. But if you don't have that, then you got to ask for help. Help. I need you to watch the kids for an hour each day while I do this training.

[00:34:45.330] – Allan

Because it's not entirely fair for you to say. I got to wake up at 04:00 in the morning so I can get my training run done so that the training done. So then I can come home and be mom and then go to work and come back and be mom and get everything done for house and home and do it all over again the next day. If something as simple as, look, I need you to get the kids ready for school four days a week, three days a week, and I got the other two. You can get three training days in each week. And for a lot of us, that's enough to move the needle.

[00:35:19.170] – Rachel

Oh, for sure, yeah. It's important to communicate with your spouse or whoever else you have in the household about trading that time off. I'll watch the kids this time so you can do your thing while we'll try it off, where you watch them, where I can go do my thing. And same thing with the chores. If you can't keep up with house chores, you split it up. It's just a matter of communication. But when you do hire a coach, you could, like you said, move the needle, but I don't have a clever way to say it, but the coaches have already done all the hit and miss. They've already done all the research and have seen experience. They can cut you right down to the bone of what you should be doing to move that needle the fastest. When I first started running, I was just learning as I went. But I did hire a coach just recently. The spring I ran a marathon, I was aiming for a PR, and I hired a coach who got me that PR. And so even her techniques, her knowledge, her experience got me to where I wanted to be.

[00:36:24.070] – Rachel

And I'm a running coach. I should know all this stuff, and I do. But sometimes you just need somebody else to hold you accountable, to do the right things at the right time. There's just a lot of value to it.

[00:36:37.070] – Allan

Yeah, and I did that with strength. I can train myself. I've done it before because I had to do it before. When you work 90% of the time, you're traveling 90% of the time. To put that in context, you're home three days a month. Oh, gosh, okay, so home three days a month. And there's no way for me to hire a trainer at the time because there were no online trainers, and specifically were no online trainers that were used to coaching people over 40. The only online trainers I knew were the ones that were like the nutrition coaches for getting yourself ready for contest prep or posing coaches who are getting people ready for their posing for a contest, a fitness or physique contest. And so there really wasn't anybody that was going to say, let's make an old fat man on fat. So that's what I needed, though. I needed something like that. So I went and got certified. I started spending time, I started making sure I stay in hotels with certain amenities, gyms and things like that. And I was able to do that. But I did put a stop. I made it something I had to get done within a certain amount of time, all those kind of things.

[00:37:46.550] – Allan

But when I hired the strength coach, I thought, okay, yeah, this will help me get a little stronger than I was before. No, I got as strong as I had ever been, even as a high level high school player, football player. I was squatting more at 51 years old than I was in high school wow. As an offensive lineman. So that's what my strength coach was able to do for me. And it was little things. It was these little things that he was able to just put into my thought process that pushed me a little harder, a little faster. And even at my age, I was trying to be the voice of reason. It's like there's no reason I should put that much weight on the bar, but I had done just a little less than that weight the day before, a few days before. So I was like, well, let's go. Let's see what happens. And I mean, I would push myself. It's not that you need to be the strongest person you've ever been. It's not that you need. But if you really need to move the needle on something to realize a coach is going to make that happen, that change will happen easier and better.

[00:39:04.220] – Allan

If you have someone there that understands what you're going through, can push you just hard enough and keep you in the game and doing it. So you're not making excuses to not do it. And there's all those things the coach brings. Like I said with my clients, it's like it's direction or guidance. It's support, and it's accountability, and that's what a good coach will bring you. But again, you have to ask for help if you want to go it alone. You might get there, but it might take you a lot longer. It took me over eight years, almost nine years to fix myself, and that was me doing it alone.

[00:39:48.010] – Rachel

Well, the interesting thing about a coach, too, Allan, is that we have the laser focus on what our athletes goals are. We don't have the same distractions that they have. They've got work and they've got family, and they've got outside obligations, and so it's easier for them to change their balance or to skip a workout or something. But as a coach, I'm looking at my athletes every single day. I want to see what they're working out. I will push them to do things, and I know when they do have crazy things coming up in their lives, we'll adjust. But again, we have that laser focused on what their goals are and can get them there. And then two, we've said in the past, you need to have some skin in the game, and when you hire a coach, you're paying for that service, and you're going to take full advantage of what you're paying for. So you get a lot of accountability and motivation just from that as well.

[00:40:45.650] – Allan

You sure do.

[00:40:47.410] – Rachel

Great. Interview.

[00:40:48.560] – Allan

All right. I will talk to you in a few minutes, but everyone else will talk to you next week.

[00:40:54.930] – Rachel

Take care.

[00:40:55.960] – Allan

You too.

[00:40:56.880] – Rachel



The following listeners have sponsored this show by pledging on our Patreon Page:

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Thank you!

Another episode you may enjoy


How to balance work, family, and fitness with Art Trapotsis

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Having time to be excellent at work and spend time quality time with family is hard, throw in fitness and it can seem impossible. In his book, Everyday Athlete, Art Trapotsis shows us how to find that balance. 


Let's Say Hello

[00:03:26.310] – Allan

Hey, Ras. How are you doing?

[00:03:28.190] – Rachel

Good. How are you today, Allan?

[00:03:30.150] – Allan

I'm doing all right. I'm doing pretty good. Of course, I'm getting ready to get on an airplane to travel back to the United States for four weeks or so. It's about four weeks to spend time with family, and then I'm going to take an actual vacation. This one actually by myself in Mexico, so I'll be gone for about five weeks. Traveling around and seeing family and doing this and that. But I did drop the tough mudder. It wasn't in the cards for me this time, and I've accepted that. But that just means I could spend more time with my mother.

[00:04:05.890] – Rachel


[00:04:07.210] – Allan


[00:04:08.950] – Rachel

Great. Trade off. Perfect.

[00:04:11.290] – Allan

How about you?

[00:04:12.620] – Rachel

Good. Same thing. I'm actually getting ready to get on a hydroplane myself. That's how we're going to get to Isle Royal in about a week or so, and we'll have eight days on the island, so I will be unplugged for about eight weeks. I'm looking forward to that.

[00:04:28.060] – Allan

Yeah, that's going to be exciting. You just mentioned before we got on the call the weather is changing a bit, and so plans are changing, and it's kind of evolving thing as you get going and imagine even being on the ground, you kind of have to have that concept of we need to be able to pivot when it's time to pivot and roll when it's time to roll.

[00:04:48.250] – Rachel

You have to be flexible. Some of the days that we're going to be out there might have longer hikes than others. We have a limited food supply. We're packing in what food we have, packing out all the trash. So, yeah, you got to be flexible and be ready for weather changes, landscape changes, animal changes. We don't know what to do.

[00:05:09.720] – Allan

Just remember, you only have to be able to outrun Mike. You don't have to be able to outrun the bank.

[00:05:15.430] – Rachel

So true.

[00:05:18.070] – Allan

Although he probably still runs a little bit faster than you.

[00:05:20.450] – Rachel

He is he's very speedy,

[00:05:22.400] – Allan

but he's got more meat on his bones. Go get it

[00:05:25.930] – Rachel

right? Yeah. Just looking forward to it.

[00:05:28.910] – Allan

Well, are you ready to have a conversation with Art?

[00:05:31.190] – Rachel



[00:06:11.210] – Allan

Art, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

[00:06:13.640] – Art

Thank you so much for having me, Allan.

[00:06:15.590] – Allan

So your book is called The Everyday Athlete: How to Balance Work, Family and Fitness for Life. And there's a lot to unravel in that title for a book, and we're going to do some of that today. But this is a big thing. It's really hard for me to explain because I know I'm a coach and so by the time someone is coming to me, they've already somewhat hot committed, if you will, to say, I'm going to do something for my fitness, I'm going to do something. And they're listening to 40 plus Fitness. So we're somewhat there. But the whole balancing thing, a lot of us missed that.

[00:07:01.190] – Art

Yeah, I initially thought that there were three sort of separate buckets with work, family and friends and then fitness. But one theme that kept emerging when I was doing research for this book and interviewing people was that without fitness, it's really hard to succeed in the other two areas and to feel balanced. So fitness is sort of interconnected with everything else that we do in life. And we can't just think of it as a silo that we put on hiatus when we're focusing on work or family.

[00:07:33.150] – Allan

Yeah, I actually did that when I was younger. I think we all, a lot of us, fall into this trap. We get into our late twenty s and thirty s and we're like, okay, I'm putting in the hours and I'm getting promoted at work. And so it's almost like the more I pour of myself into my job, the better my career goes. And now you're competing with everyone else at work and you're winning those competitions because you're putting in the time. And so I ended up at 37 years old, sitting on the beach in Mexico, by all accounts fully successful. I'm a vice president of a Fortune 500 company and my life is wonderful. Except I know I had fallen out of a volleyball game the day before I went to play sand volleyball and it was four on four, it wasn't even twos. And I played one game and I subbed out. And I'm thinking to myself, I never would have subbed out in my entire life. I would have been the last guy to sub out. I would have done it just to let people play. But I would not have subbed out because I needed to.

[00:08:39.310] – Allan

But I did. So the next morning I'm sitting on the beach and I'm like, why am I so pathetic? I've got all this great stuff at work, but I didn't have it at home. I didn't have it in my health and fitness. And so it really was that disconnective balance that I was so one sided. And I fought that for eight years. I'm like, how do I rebalance? And it took me eight years to figure it out. And for me, what it was was this idea that everything that I had been successful at in my life, I committed to. And the only way I was going to find balance was if I equally committed to all three things.

[00:09:18.470] – Art

Did you feel unbalanced during those eight years?

[00:09:21.210] – Allan

I did. But I kept trying. You know. It was like this Yoyo thing where it was like gravity almost and I kind of equate it to I don't know. I've seen movies where two planets are coming together and you got the gravity going one direction and the gravity going the other direction. And I would start getting pulled one direction. And then all of a sudden work would be there. I'd turn to face work and I'm back the gravity well, yes. And another year later, yeah, I got another promotion. I worked so much harder, and then I write back being spit back out, like, wow, that didn't work. I'm still not fulfilled. And so, yeah, it was a really hard thing to do because it meant breaking a lot of who I was down and saying, okay, why am I the way I am? And then it meant breaking up relationships, it meant cutting back at work, and it meant finding the time to do those things and really just figuring it all out.

[00:10:21.800] – Art

Yeah. So I was a competitive cyclist earlier in my life, and when I got a real job, went into the real world, got married, started to have a family, and became less competitive. But I noticed that there were quite a few folks in my circle of friends that were still remaining competitive with cycling, and I was wondering how they were doing it. So I started to interview some local masters athletes to put on my blog. And as I spoke to more and more people, I became really fascinated because I was like, oh, there's quite a few folks who sort of figured out how to manage all three aspects of their life. And I started to weave together some common themes and create this book, The Everyday Athlete. And one of the big things that came out of it was time management. I mean, just learning to be flexible and taking advantage of available time when you get it to sneak and exercise whenever you can, even if it's just a 30 minutes run or weight lifting session. It doesn't have to be some massive two to four hour endurance ride, which is sort of the norm if you're a cyclist or any endurance world.

[00:11:39.230] – Art

So that was one of the themes that came out of the time management piece.

[00:11:42.830] – Allan

and that was definitely part of it. And to me, again, it was about the committing to the fact that I had to have that balance or I wasn't going to be complete. And then from there, everything just sort of started falling in line because once you truly commit to something, you have to do it. You don't have a choice anymore. And I knew I was at that point, I knew I knew I was. You said something earlier, though, that I think is really important, and it was that if you don't have fitness, it's maybe even impossible to really be fulfilled or balanced in those other areas. And for me, the biggest part of that is what exercise does for us, and not just physically for our bodies. Because I think people know, okay, well, if I exercise and burn more calories, that makes weight loss or weight control a lot easier. But really the special sauce with exercise is what exercise does for the brain. Could you talk a little bit about why that's so important? Because, again, if it's going to make everything else better, I'd like to know why.

[00:12:45.000] – Art

Well, there's a lot of data to support that. The fact that fitness in your life creates a ripple effect. So you go out for a 30 minute walk at lunch during your work day. You come back and you feel a bit more productive, and there are chemicals associated your brain that sort of stimulates more engagement at work with whatever it is you're doing. In the book, I referenced a book called Spark which talks about they perform some studies with students who had a break or perform physical fitness during the day. And those students were better students over the course of the year because they were just more engaged and they've learned better. So I sort of extrapolated on that and took that into the workplace.

[00:13:34.430] – Allan

Yes, you actually have programs at your workplace that people can exercise and take time off. And you're really flexible with all that because you know as an employer actually pays you for them to be that way.

[00:13:49.590] – Art

Yes, we installed we moved to a new facility about three years ago, and one of the layout pieces was, okay, we need to put a gym in here to make it as easy as possible for people to get some exercise. So we've got showers, we've got a gym. We created a wellness program with monthly activities that are totally voluntary. Nothing is forced upon anybody, but they're pretty fun. Just in a couple of months ago, we had our annual walking challenge where if you have a Fitbit or an iPhone or something, recorded your steps and it became sort of a little bit competitive. But it also was kind of fun because now you see people going out at lunch and getting in their steps and walking with their colleagues and recording it on the weekends, and all those folks just seem a bit more engaged when they get back to the office.

[00:14:40.520] – Allan

Yes, sometimes a little bit of competition can really spark some interest and get people doing a little bit more. That's awesome. Now you hit a concept in the book that one, I know it's going to resonate with Rachel kind of big because this is something she does. But you titled the book Everyday Athlete. And so we're not just talking about the person who's competitive or thinking about going masters, Olympian or something. This is just the person that wants to be able to hike on the weekends like something beautiful. They want to be able to ride their bike, play tennis again, or just do things, be a great grandmother, just that awesome person that keeps up with grandchildren at the zoo. Can you talk about the value of calling yourself an athlete?

[00:15:29.220] – Art

Yeah, I think that there are so many hurdles in the way of folks finding a way to get the fitness in their life. And I think and I propose this in the book, that if you think of yourself as an athlete, you're training for a 5K or 10K or a marathon or something. And if you just started to think of yourself as an athlete, then you start to adjust your behaviors a little bit. Oh, I think I'll go to sleep a little bit earlier tonight. Maybe I won't have that extra piece of cake. But also it becomes just more ingrained in your daily life. You think about your whole day with your meetings and your eating schedule and sleep schedule, like, oh, there's also a component there that involves me getting some exercise, and I need to do that because I'm an athlete. And I think getting over that hump of thinking yourself an athlete can really just make fitness more ingrained in how you are as a person.

[00:16:25.860] – Allan

Yes. The way I really ramped myself up was that my daughter was a CrossFit coach, level one CrossFit coach. And so I was looking back at her, she's 20 years old, and I'm thinking, that was me at 20 years old, I was an athlete. And then I'm thinking to myself, well, why wouldn't I be thinking of myself as an athlete today? Why would I be a spectator in my daughter's life going forward? And I wasn't comfortable to retire the cleats, if you will not done. I wanted more. So I said, okay, I'm going to train to do a tough mudder, and I'm going to do it with my daughter. And by committing to doing it with my daughter, it went well beyond that. I didn't want to just do it. I wanted to not hold her back. I wanted her to be able to run her race, and I want to be able to keep up with her. And I wanted us to finish that thing together, and I didn't want to be wrecked doing it. It was, okay, well, I have something now that I'm training for. And when I started the training, it's like, well, okay, I do have to feed the machine.

[00:17:30.290] – Allan

My body is a tool to do what I want to do. And if I do the right maintenance with it and I do the right training, it will respond, and it will reward me with a beautiful experience with my daughter. And it did that whole concept of I went back to being an athlete, and there are times I'll tell you, I still struggle with that because I can't do it all the time. I can't be that athlete all the time. Even LeBron James, he has an off season. And so in the book you talked a little bit about off seasons. We're not going to play basketball every day all year. We're going to have off seasons. Can you talk about why having off seasons is important?

[00:18:10.310] – Art

Yeah, I mean, there's a concept called periodisation where over the course of a year you slowly build up and develop what we call sort of base fitness. And as you approach your event, if you have an event in your calendar, you might convert some of that base fitness into more intense workouts. So you're kind of building the pyramid and the top of the pyramid is your event day. And when you reach the top, there's always a necessity to take a break. And if you have, let's say, two events during the course of the year, you want to filter in some rest time. It could be a week or two weeks. But eventually as you get around to, let's say, the winter season, if you're a cyclist, you might want to consider taking off a full month and just sort of not stopping exercise, but scaling back the volume, the intensity. And then that also resets your brain. Okay, I don't have to be on every single day of the week or every week to get workouts in. I can back up a little bit and it recharges you for the next season. So you don't have to go hard all year long at some point.

[00:19:20.620] – Allan

And I think that's really important. There's a balance to that. Like I said, that's what this book is really about. If you know, it's like, okay, well, Christmas time and Thanksgiving time is when I'm going to be spending time with family. And I don't want to be spending even though I could, I don't want to spend 4 hours every day training and not be able to drive over the house until 02:00 because that's when my training runs going to be done. Everybody's going to be there at noon and here I come straightening up at 02:00. And that's not really cool. So I'm taking that off season and saying it's okay. It's okay to relax, it's okay to enjoy these other things. And then that recovery that refresh it's across not just your body but your brain and everything. You can go into your next season, your on season, and start really pushing for higher and higher goals.

[00:20:10.730] – Art

Yeah, it's okay to give yourself a break and be gentle with yourself. You don't have to drive yourself into the ground all year. So you mentioned the holiday season and for me, like, that's the time where I sort of push aside some of those longer training sessions and focus more on the family piece and spending time with family during the holiday period.

[00:20:33.480] – Allan

Yeah, and family of the three, to me that's the hard one. Now I don't know why work, for some reason or another, was like I said, that little black hole that just sucked me away from everything else in life. But once I got back to the family part and I see it a lot with my clients. Particularly those that are the caretakers. And particularly when we're in this sandwich kind of generation of where someone's were still taking care of our children while we're taking care of our parents and that pull on us to be there for our family all the time just seems to be something that can kind of really derail the fitness and even sometimes our careers. How do we get around the family? Not like break up with the family, but how do we make that work when the family has such a huge draw on us?

[00:21:28.130] – Art

I think it starts with communication and basically expressing to your significant other and to your family members, like what you value and what's your priority to you. So if getting in the run on the weekend is really important to you, then you don't sit down and say, hey, honey, I want to go out and do a huge ride this weekend. I'll see you later. It's more like, hey, what does the family want to accomplish this weekend? We have some commitments here, some chores here. Can we carve out a little bit of time for me to go off for a run? And I think having that communication is so important because if it's not there, then the other department will always feel some sort of resentment or you're leaving them hanging with the rest of the family activities to organize and create. So the communication is like the first piece and there's a lot of little things we can do to improve communication, like having a family calendar and sort of sitting down and saying what I just said, where you look at the weekend, what do you want to accomplish and what do you want to do for fun and do you want to have the family dinner?

[00:22:39.590] – Art

So that is a really important piece in our household.

[00:22:43.170] – Allan

Yes. I think the way you put it in the book was really great was that you had little kids. This is not like you're talking about just send the teams off to spend time with their friends and you go do your run. This was okay. We've got little kids. One of them has got to go to this practice. One of them has got this game. And so it's like, okay, based on the times available, I'm going to have to get up and from six to nine I'm going to go do my ride or my run and get that done. So then I'm done and then I can take this one to the game. And then while we're at the game, you can take and do your run and then we meet back. And now we're together as a family having our dinner. And we made everything happen that needed to happen and we had the balance between us and the conversations between us and the trust that, yeah, she's going to follow through, I'm going to follow through because it's not just, I'm going to get my running. It's like, you know, I think I'm going to go play some golf with the guys.

[00:23:39.640] – Allan

I got a call. No, we commit. We do the right thing. And that communication and trust means that they're willing to give because you're willing to give. And in the end, if you're not taking care of yourself, then you're not really going to be 100% for your family. As we mentioned earlier, how key fitness is to all the other dynamics.

[00:24:00.120] – Art

And sometimes it isn't even about the other person. Let's say also going out for a run or getting in some fitness. It could be done wanting to disconnect by doing some gardening or meeting up with some friends for coffee. It's whatever it is that your significant other things of is like, disconnecting and re-energizing them. So I think it's just having a respect for whatever your partner feels like they need to do to stay balanced.

[00:24:28.290] – Allan

Yeah, my wife would be the I'm going to go spend some time with my friends kind of person. She's not going for a run, but I totally get you there. But yeah, we're different people, and we have different needs, and with the respect we have for each other, that we just we make it work. But I don't have the little kids. It's just the two of us, and our only little kid is Lula's, our bed and breakfast.

[00:24:51.590] – Art

Well, I'm just checking in that your partner has some time carved out for themselves, like, oh, do you need some time to disconnect and do what you would like to do?

[00:25:03.670] – Allan

Yeah. All right. It does. Understanding that and as I said before, I didn't have that balance, and I didn't have that skill because I think the communication between a significant other is a huge skill that a lot of us go into marriage without really ever having. We go into relationships without really having and or practicing. And once you kind of practice that skill, it's very powerful.

[00:25:29.530] – Art

Developing the emotional IQ.

[00:25:32.510] – Allan

That's it. Yeah, that's the word right there. Now, one thing I always recommend, and a lot of other people recommend, is do something you enjoy. So if your fitness doesn't have to be, okay, I got to get you in the gym, I've got to do three sets of eight on that leg press, and then we're going to move over to this machine, and we're going to do three sets, eight. For a lot of people, that's intimidating, scary, and they're not going to enjoy it. And if they're not going to enjoy it unless I'm there asking them to do the next set, they're not going to do it. So a lot of people encourage, just do something, enjoy. So it's like, take a group class, take a Zumba, go out and join a running club or a walking club or a biking club. Why is this group training? Why is that so valuable? What's the draw? And why are so many people interested? And why is it so much more fun, I guess would be the question is what are all these values that group classes do that we wouldn't do ourselves?

[00:26:30.170] – Art

Well, part of it has to do with the motivation piece. Sometimes it's just really challenging for you to get your own butt off the couch and then to go out and do that ride. But if you know that there's five or six people waiting on the coffee shop for you to also go for that ride, then it just gets you a little bit more of an edge to get out there and do that. And in our area where I live in our neighborhood, we have weekly group rides. There's something going on every day of the week and it's super motivating because, you know, on Monday, if it's a recovery day, there's a recovery ride. The folks around here are called the Muffin Ride because it meets up at a coffee shop after the Muffins. And I think that that's got a lot of folks in our area off the couch and motivated. And many of them have events on the calendar now where they're doing centuries 100 miles rides. And these are folks who were not engaged that level of athletic fitness just a few years ago. So the group ride or whatever group activities you want to do, it goes a long way from foundation.

[00:27:38.040] – Allan

Now, a lot of people will look at that and they'll say, oh, well, I'm going to go try to ride with people that are doing 100 miles races and more. And it's like, well, I physically can't do that right now, so if we're going to go do a training ride, see you, they're going to leave me in the dust. But you also mentioned a concept that you call the no drop mentality. And so occasionally some of the groups that you train with will use this or have this. Can you talk about what that is and how that could help someone who's maybe just a little intimidated to get started?

[00:28:12.450] – Art

Yes, the no drop ride. So when you get dropped on a ride, it means that you've fallen off the back of the group and basically have been left for dead and no one's waiting you and you're riding by yourself. So there's number rise throughout the week or the month where we announced a no drop ride. Words basically at the top of the hill, we'll wait for everyone to gather and you never felt like you're left behind. There's always someone looking out for you and it's at a pace that usually everybody can hold and it really lowers the barrier to entry because it's like, okay, let me show up as a no drop ride. I know I'm going to make it all the way home on this 25 to 30 miles loop, and I'm not going to be left to figure out how to get home. So with that, we've actually drawn in quite a few newbie cyclists and they've loved it. And over the years they've gotten better and they've gone on to some of the harder group rides that become very competitive. But I love the no drop rides. My favorite one to do, especially on Sundays.

[00:29:14.970] – Allan

Yeah, the concept, to me, it's two sided and the two sides, this one is as a group, I think it's just really great that you're having this inclusivity of saying we want to introduce more people to the sport, to this thing. And the way we do it is by making them feel more comfortable and more included. And I can tell you, in a gym environment, a lot of people feel intimidated. They walk in there and they see the big guys over by the free weights. They're kind of like, I'll just hang out over here by the treadmill, don't mind me. But the reality is a gym environment, most gym environments are no drop mentalities. The guys you see over there are those heavy weights. They're happy to see you there. They won't walk over and tell you and welcome you, but they're glad to see you there because by you paying a gym membership, you're helping pay for that equipment they're using too. And so most gyms are going to have a no drop mentality. They're not going to let you fail just and laugh at you. They're not going to do that. They want you to be successful.

[00:30:13.640] – Allan

They want you to be long term gym members just like them. And eventually you might be over in those free weight areas and they'll be glad to help you in any way they can. But then there's the other side of this equation, and that's the mindset that you bring to the game. I know if I got into a ride, I'm not keeping up with you. There's no way. And I don't mean that as a slight. What I mean is I can't lose my battle, my sport, by competing with you. I'm competing with myself at this point in my life. And so my comparison is to Allan yesterday. I want to be as good or better than the Allan I was yesterday. And it's not just in sports, it's just not fitness. It's family, it's work, it's everything else. What am I doing today to be better tomorrow? And so I think if you look at a no drop mentality, not only is important if a group has it and makes you feel comfortable, it's kind of building in yourself that I don't actually care if I get dropped. I'm not comparing myself to the best riders in this group.

[00:31:24.200] – Allan

And if I do get left behind, then I'll figure it out. But I'm going to come back and I'm going to get better and so at some point, I might be that good, but I'm not going to compare myself to them. I'm going to compare myself to who I was yesterday.

[00:31:38.690] – Art

There are so many folks that I've ridden with and went running with, and I was involved with triathlon over the years that started off very intimidated. Didn't want to put the spandex on the Lycra, but.

[00:31:57.390] – Allan

It just shows how great you look. Maybe you don't feel like you do. Yeah.

[00:32:03.160] – Art

No, but I think it takes someone to say, here, let's go for a short ride on the bike path. That's just get you comfortable on the bike or the run or even a swim. And then, hey, let's show up on the 20 miles no drop ride this weekend, and we'll go together. And over time and I've been doing this now for over 25 years, many of these folks are much stronger than I am now. And they just developed it's like their inner competitive cyclists came out, and now they're phenomenal athletes. So it's been a pretty fun process to do that.

[00:32:42.410] – Allan

Well, as we said earlier, I think everybody has an athlete in them. Our human body was built to be athletic, to hunt, to fish, to forage, to move, to play. We were built for this. And so it's there. It's just a function of bringing it out. And it starts with the mindset, it starts with the doing. And if you can find these groups and find the way to do the training where you feel comfortable, but then you push that comfort zone, then you get better. And I think that's one of the keys. And what I really liked about your book was it just kind of pulled that altogether to say, if you want this balance, it's within your grasp. And it's not just a concept of having it all, which I think is what a lot of people think balance is, but it's the understanding, the compensation with all of them to fit them together in a way that fits your lifestyle.

[00:33:38.130] – Art

Yeah. And also that it's a journey. You're not going to have balance every single day of the week. It's something that we're always moving towards. And even the folks that you think have life completely dialed in, they don't. They're always trying to figure it out.

[00:33:56.350] – Allan

But they're instagram famous.

[00:33:59.310] – Art

Exactly. So we're all in the same boat. I've interviewed over 100 folks through this book of all walks of life. And every single person I interviewed, no matter how successful they appear on the outside, or how successful they appear as far as athletic prowess, everyone struggles. Everyone. So I think if we can keep the fitness piece in our life, as we grow our families and build our careers, it will make us at least feel like we have life in check. And that's what my proposal is in the book.

[00:34:38.380] – Allan

Yeah. And I would say, being over 40, if you can reintroduce fitness into your life, it's going to enhance those other things just as well.

[00:34:48.730] – Art

I totally agree. There's quite a few folks who were competitive in high school, or maybe not even competitive. They just did some sort of sport in high school. Maybe they played in college. And then there was nothingness in their late 20s or even into their 30s. And then they feel like, okay, I need to get back into doing something. And when they do that, it's like a switch turns on and the rest of their life starts to fall in place.

[00:35:19.210] – Allan

And it's not even that you are an athlete when you were younger. Because I remember I was 29 when I ran an ultra 50 miles ultra. And I was standing in the morning meeting, and they have these briefing the day before briefing. And so we're sitting in the briefing room and I'm standing next to this really old guy. I mean, at the time I'm looking, I'm like, okay, he's ancient. He was 68 years old. So we started talking and I started looking around. I'm like, everybody here is way older than me. And like, what's going on? What bizarre world am I in? And he said, he says most people don't actually even ever start running until they're in their 40s. Most ultra athletes were not really necessarily even athletes when they were younger. They got into their forty s and running was a way for them to destress and get in shape. And then they just kept adding miles. And here we are lining up tomorrow for a 50 mile run. And I just thought that was so compelling. And then you see the results of the run. It was a twelve hour cut off.

[00:36:24.710] – Allan

There were 28 of us that started the run. I think 18 of us finished. And the guy who came in first was 29, and I was 29, and I came in next to last. And then when I finished, they're on the radio and there's one guy left and like, is he going to make cut off? They're like, it's going to be close. And then they said his name. And I'm like, that's that 68 year old guy. I was standing next to a briefing yesterday. So I'm standing at the finish line watching this guy finish this race. And so this is a guy who didn't start running until he was in his forty s. And here he is competing with himself, but competing in the 50 mile run. And he finished it just under time. And so at that point, I knew anything is possible. You can come back at any age and you can do this at any time. So it's not that you had to be an athlete. The athletes there, it's always been there. And it's just a function of pulling it out and using it now, using your fitness, because it's going to enhance everything.

[00:37:27.550] – Art

Well, one thing that I'm glad you just told that story. Because one thing that resonated with me in one of my first triathlons, I was maybe around 25 years old and there's a couple of older categories that started in a way behind us, about ten minutes behind us. And in any triathlon usually put your age on the cap. So with a marker you can see the age of the person. So here I am in the final leg of 5K, 25 years old and I'm going to a pretty good clip, maybe like a six minute mile pace or something. And up comes behind me is this gentleman and he's fast and he's blown by me. And I look at his cap, it says the number 47. I'm now 47. I see his number 47. I was like oh wow. He actually started like eight or ten minutes behind me. And the thing that resonated with me was when we got to the finish line, his wife was there and two of his kids were there. And I just thought this is amazing. And that's what really motivated me over all this time, my career and family, that you can keep doing this, you can keep doing it, still be competitive and have the whole thing.

[00:38:46.520] – Art

So that resonate me. And I just love that you kick my butt there.

[00:38:52.390] – Allan

Good, good. And hopefully he's still running, but hopefully he's still doing that.

[00:38:56.700] – Allan

Art, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest, and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

[00:39:04.890] – Art

That's a great question. So number one, I think consistency, try to do something multiple times a week. I'm going to say at least five times a week. That's one thing. Number two, I'm gonna say this now because I have a lot more years of experience on my belt. Sleep. Sleep is so important because then you're ready to go the next day 100%. The third thing is having the ability to disconnect. And when I say disconnect, just disconnect from work, disconnect from your phone and just letting your mind sort of recharge. And you can do that in a form of meditation, reading a book. But I think that's really important to just overall wellness.

[00:39:53.410] – Allan

Thank you. I love those. Thank you. Art, if someone wanted to learn more about you or learn more about your book Everyday Athlete, where would you like for me to send them?

[00:40:03.370] – Art

You could go to artrapotsis.com and you could also find me on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. If you search for the Everyday Athlete.

[00:40:15.490] – Allan

You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/553 and I'll have a link there for that book and for your website. So thank you Art. Thank you for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

[00:40:26.600] – Art

Thank you so much, Allan. It's a lot of fun.

Post Show/Recap

[00:40:36.350] – Allan

Welcome back, Ras.

[00:40:37.990] – Rachel

Hey Allan. Art I think might be my new best friend. There's so many great things in your interview but the first thing I wanted to mention was a quote and I don't know if I got it exactly right in my notes, but I believe the quote was, without fitness, it's hard to succeed in the other areas of life. And I just wanted to take a minute to recognize how important it is to be healthy and to be fit in your day to day life. It's so important.

[00:41:07.130] – Allan

Yeah. I missed this myself. I got well into my career and I was in a sedentary job, so I had all the fitness I needed to be an accountant, but I didn't have the fitness to be the other things that I wanted to be in my life. And so as my health was declining, I recognize that my performance was going to decline during the longer days. And sitting at the desk all those days and all that, I was not at peak. I mean, I was doing enough, and it was enough to be where I was. But I think about what all the other things I could have accomplished in my life if I had the energy and the stamina and the capacity to do those other things, and I didn't, but I didn't even recognize it. It's kind of one of those things that you're sitting in this water and you don't really recognize the temperature of the water. I'm not going to say what that comes from, because people get mad every time I say it. No, I don't do that. But the whole point being is we lose sight of our own surroundings because we're so in it.

[00:42:19.230] – Allan

And so if you find yourself not thinking outside of your environment, you might think what's going through is normal. This is just what we all normally hurt. We all normally can't do things we all normally break, and that's not true. There's a big variation of the aging curve, and we get to make some decisions, and we get to make those decisions each day. But yeah, we won't perform as well if we don't take the time to train and get our body as strong as we can get it.

[00:42:51.100] – Speaker 3

Well, that's a really good point right there, Allan, is that when we're young, we have used on our side, and it seems like, being that I'm 51, I can look back and say that the younger people, including my younger self, we had energy to spare, we had some level of fitness to spare, and then as we age, that level of energy is not the same. I would always say if I could bottle the energy my kids had, I would make millions. But the fact is that as we age, things happen. And you guys discuss too, the balance, having balance between work and family life and fitness. If you think of those three things, those three major concepts, family, work and your health and fitness, it is hard to be an expert at everything all at the same time. But there comes a day where you really do have to focus on that health and fitness level, because if you're not healthy, it makes everything so much harder. Work becomes harder. Running around with your kids or grandkids is immensely harder, and then you're missing out on some really wonderful activities.

[00:44:02.580] – Allan

Yeah, it's really important.

[00:44:05.310] – Rachel

But the other thing, the reason why I really do love Art, and you mentioned it as you were talking, is that, yes, I do love calling my clients athletes. I love to think of myself as an athlete, even though I am not Olympic level. I'm not contention for anything super like an elite or professional athlete. But when you do think of yourself as an athlete, your perspective on everything changes. When I go out for a run in the morning, if I don't get enough sleep, I don't have quite as much fun in my run, or I can't go quite as far as I want. And if I'm training for a race, sleep becomes even more important. And the same thing is with my food. If I eat poorly over the weekend, I can't have my long run. It's just I don't do it quite as well, and it's not as enjoyable. So once you start thinking of yourself as an athlete, things do change.

[00:44:55.850] – Allan

Yeah. I spent so much of my early life kind of doing the flip flop of use the word early on when we were talking, before we came on as academic, thinking of yourself as an academic, or thinking yourself of this, and you tend to get this tunnel focus. At least I did. And so it was like, yeah, when I left high school when I was in high school, I was an athlete. That's all I thought of. I didn't think of high school as even an academic pursuit. It was something I had to do to be on the football field, the track, the tennis court. I did those things, but I was an athlete. That's why I was in high school. And then I got into junior college, and it was like, okay, well, now I have to be an academic, and I have to just be an academic. And so I was so focused on the academics that when I then had to make a pivot in my life, it was like, I've been working so hard in one area, I didn't want to do that anymore, and I pivoted all the way back to athletics.

[00:45:58.980] – Allan

In fact, the reason I went infantry in the military was they showed all these videos of all the things I was capable of doing. And when I passed the Azab, the score, my recruiter said, do anything. You can literally do anything in the army you want to do. And so I just told him, I said, Drop everything that says engineer, mechanic, anybody that fixes or does anything with their brain. Just turn that one off. They came up with field medic, arterial surveyor, which was math, and then infantry, and they showed the infantry guys, and they're all just running around all the time. And I'm like, that's what I want to do. For two years, quite literally, it was signing up and just saying, what can I do for two years to earn some money for college? And I did two years of infantry. And I'm not going to say it didn't use my brain power, but it didn't use it to the power of thinking of academics. It was, I'm learning everything I can about this field of study, which is how to kill people, but physically I was focused on being the brood, being the most physical person I could be.

[00:47:14.850] – Allan

And then I left out and went back to college. And in college, it was probably the only time I felt like I had balance because I was except for family, because I was got married and so I was basically at college lifting and then work, and there's rinse and repeat every day and there was no other time. So quite literally, yeah, I was taking a full load, working full time and getting in the gym 2 hours every day. That was my entire life. And so I've never until about now been in a position where I've said, okay, I can manage to balance. And so I understand the challenge of all of this. I'm fortunate now that the kids aren't home. So there's not that. There's my wife, my dogs. They are my home and my family right now. And then I'm going to go visit family. I'm beginning the research of where the gyms and all the towns that I'm going to be at. I know there's a YMCA in my mother's town, and it's like $5 a day to work out there. Maybe cheaper if I pay by the weeks off the sea. At least it was the last time I was able to work out.

[00:48:28.100] – Allan

The last couple of times I've been there, it was closed because of covid, but that's kind of where I'm looking at, what can I do to keep my fitness on track? And I'm realizing cardio might be a better option for me during this next month. I'll just have to look at it. But I'm more in a position now to have balance than I ever have been in my entire life. That's where I'm at. And not everybody can do that. But the closer you are to balance, the better all of this fits together so that you don't feel like you're losing anything, you don't feel like you're giving anything. It is a compromise and there are going to be points in time. As Art said, when you're training for something or there's a family thing or there's something going on at work, that you need to focus on a project, but you need to think about the after the project or after the thing, because you got to get back to more of that balance. And if you don't do that audit, that self audit, it's very easy to lose sight and find yourself again, very one sided.

[00:49:34.010] – Allan

I know I have a tendency toward that, so I'm going to spend a lot of time with family. For me, also, being an introvert, that energy is energy spent, but I still need to be able to focus on clients and focus on my health. And I know what's going to happen as soon as I come back to this island, my being a lone, fitness, going on long walks thing is going to happen.

[00:49:59.350] – Rachel


[00:49:59.850] – Allan

So I'm going to need that. So just looking at how I'm going to maintain balance, particularly during these changes, is really important. I think that's kind of a message I took away from that, for sure.

[00:50:10.170] – Rachel

And I think part of having that balance or finding that balance is also being flexible. I know that when my kids were younger, I would get them up for school, go do a quick run, make sure they got on the bus, and then I could finish the rest of my day. And just like you said, now that my kids are college age, I don't need to worry about whether or not they get on the bus. I can schedule my runs at any time. When you travel, you're going to find some time to do walks in the morning and enjoy the cities that you get to visit. And it's a lot of change, but you could still make that a priority wherever you are in life and whatever responsibilities you have, and it is really important to focus on that, because I like to tell my clients this, too. You can't pour from an empty cup. You need to take care of yourself before you can take care of other people. And so if that means a quick ten minute walk or a ten minute run in the morning, you're going to feel energized, and you're going to feel a little less stressed and a little more happy, and you'll be able to be more patient as a parent or with a loved one.

[00:51:16.220] – Rachel

So it's just really important that you are flexible and try and squeeze in whatever fitness you can whenever you can.

[00:51:23.050] – Allan


[00:51:24.250] – Rachel


[00:51:24.840] – Allan

All right, well, since Rachel and I will both be traveling this next week, and she won't be able to carry the recording gear in her equipment because she just doesn't care that much weight, and she also wouldn't be able to connect to Zoom, there's probably that as well. But we're not going to be recording hello sections for the next two episodes. We're actually going to record our after show sections right now, so there's no reason for us to say three hellos when it's the same day, it's ten minutes apart. So I just realized we will skip the hello sections in the next two episodes, but we are going to record our afterthoughts for each of those two episodes in just a few minutes. So, Rachel, I'll talk to you in a few minutes, but everyone else, I will talk to you next week.

[00:52:12.450] – Rachel

Take care.

[00:52:13.460] – Allan

You too. Bye.


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