Bryan Boorstein is the founder of Evolved Training Systems; evidence-based programming that bridges the gap between functional fitness and physique-style training .
Bryan has spent the last 22+ years lifting weights across multiple modalities, venturing from the strength and bodybuilding world into competitive CrossFit, and then back into the physique space with a unique style.
Laurie King a nutrition coach, educational blogger, and total badass who’s passions include nutrition, women’s health, and helping women take up space in the weight room.
Both of them created Paragon Performance Training, which is aesthetics-focused workouts you can do in 30-60 minutes to feel good and look great.
In this episode, we dive into better ways to train and eat, why our society is too obsessed with excessive exercise, why people should stop being OCD on tracking everything, how you can find harmony when working towards your goals, and how coaching has evolved through the years.
Table Of Contents
- Better Ways To Train and Eat: An Introduction
- Society of Excessive Exercise
- Bryan Boorstein’s Backstory
- Other Ways To Measure Progress
- Quality Coaching and 40 Hour Workweeks
- Finding Harmony in the Coaching Business
- Changes in Coaching Over The Years
- Diversity of Programs
Connect with Bryan Boorstein
- Evolved Training Systems
- Paragon Performance Training
- Paragon Performance Training (Instagram)
Connect with Laurie King
Better Ways To Train and Eat: An Introduction
Mike: Let’s start with you Laurie. Let’s talk about what nutrition coaching is to you.
Laurie: Yeah. I actually love this question, because when I say, “Hey, my name is LCK. I do nutrition coaching,” nutrition, and macros, and that whole world of like the food stuff, that’s like the 5 to 10%. Then like the 80 to 90% is really life coaching and being there for people, or helping people rewrite narratives, especially shitty ones, or shitty self belief systems, and really helping people refine relationships with things in life.
Laurie: It’s like that might be you have a relationship that’s super poor with going to bed, so it’s as simple as an inanimate object. Maybe you travel and like you need to fulfill this narrative of like, “I’m going on vacation, so I’m not going to adhere to my normal nutrition rules,” or, “Oh, screw the gym. I need freedom.” It’s like helping people establish what existing relationships they have, whether that’s with people, whether it’s with their environment, their significant other, or just themselves, emotionally, physically, and stuff like that. Then helping them kind of break those down, addressing and helping people recognize where they might have problems that they might not even realize they have problems with.
Mike: You get a person. They go, “I know what my problem is,” and then they start telling you. You’re like, “Oh, you have no idea.”
Addressing a client’s problem
Laurie: Well, it’s like even recently I took on a client, and I think it was … first initial calls are always long anyway, because it’s like you just need to go on a deep dive on a person’s history and stuff like that. It was like 25 or 30 minutes that went by, because I looked at the clock. I was, “Holy shit.” It was like we hadn’t even talked about nutrition. It was literally just talking about in her case like she was just a super stressed individual. It was talking about like having certain people in her life pass away, and then stuff with college, and then dove into a full-time job that was super stressful. It was just like stress, stress, stress.
Laurie: No brainer, she knew she was a stressful person, but then it was actually looking at, “Oh, well cool. We understand.” The first rule of figuring something out, right, is addressing that it is indeed a problem, but then building the plan of like, “Okay. How do we get away from this? How do we start doing better? What small steps can we start implementing to kind of navigate away from that narrative?”
Laurie: For her, it was like, “Dude, you just need to emotionally unload,” right? Like we need to do a lot of journaling, a lot of meditation, and just again talking through it. Because I think with so much stuff, whether it’s nutrition, whether it’s exercise, whatever it is, we tend to bottle that up, right?
Nutrition coaching is like being a therapist
Laurie: A lot of people that have emotional eating disorders or stuff like that, it stems from a place of like it’s something that just keeps getting swept under the rug rather than, you know if you’re uncomfortable with your body and you went to your friend and said like, “Man, I’m really uncomfortable with my appearance right now. I just don’t look good in clothes,” and blah, blah, blah, well what are your friends going to do? They’re going to say, “Oh, no. You look great. It’s fine.” It’s like, well, no, let’s actually get down to the bottom of what specifically, like why are you uncomfortable in your clothes? What’s fulfilling this narrative? And so, it’s like letting people just talk about then vent about that and get it off their shoulders. There’s so much power in that. That alone is worth hiring a coach.
Laurie: Again, is it nutrition coaching? Yeah, we talk about food, but really it’s almost like some days you’re like, “Man, I feel like I need to go get a degree and become a therapist.” Like that’s what you’re doing for people is again just being their number one biggest fan, being the fuel to their flames of helping them show up as their best self, and that’s going to look different for everybody, right? Everybody has different stuff going on. Everybody has different goals. Coaching is such a powerful job, but it can be emotionally taxing because it’s like, again, people are unloading their narratives, their things that they’re struggling with on you.
Finding the balance
Laurie: Yeah. I think again it’s not about the exercise either is the biggest thing. It’s like if somebody has that narrative of like, “I have to go to the gym six days a week,” like why? Like we were talking about earlier this morning when we were driving up here and it’s like we almost feel like we’re in the art of enabling people to do less. So, like people think more is the answer. It’s like, no, better is better. How do we get you to do the … How do we find the minimum effective dose, right?
Laurie: Because it’s like the reality is you could train. Both of us present day, we train four days, maybe five days a week, but it’s like we’re both cashing like the 60, maybe 75 minute mark. But it’s like you talk to either of us, you know, former life was like training three to four hours, like more is better. If I just keep doing more exercise, I’m going to be more fit, I’m going to be athletic. It’s like no, really what’s your goal, and then how do you find a better harmony of that, whether that’s nutritionally or whether that’s exercise? Because if you could work out four days a week and you could work out seven days a week and look exactly the same, why not use that extra difference of three days, like go do other things that are more productive?
Mike: I train hard. I like lift something heavy or hard three days a week.
Bryan: That’s really all you need
Mike: But four days of the week, I’m moving easy, and slow, and light, and fun, or whatever, and it feels way better ways to train and eat.
Society of Excessive Exercise
Laurie: But we live in a society, right, that like the message is like, “Oh, burn more calories.” People are always like, “Wow, I feel like you’re really against spin class or Orange Theory fitness,” or any of kind of we’ll just say that bubble. It’s like it’s not that I hate those. Again, everybody should move in a way that they love, but I hate the marketing and ideas that come with that whole area, because that’s your people that you see where it’s like, “Oh, in today’s class, my Apple Watch says I burned X number of calories, and I’m in-taking this number of calories.” It’s like our bodies are so much more complex than that, guys.
Laurie: Like yes, calories in, calories out kind of, but it’s just like stop. Stop worrying about the minutia.
Mike: If you’re in a lab all day every day, then the in and out works.
Bryan: Well, so much of that perspective of us trying to promote doing less to people is a result of the population that we’re speaking to. I mean if we were talking to someone who doesn’t exercise, then saying do less is not like the right approach, right?
Bryan: We’re all dealing with a population of people that come from an over-trained background or an excessive relationship with exercise.
Mike: I think it’s excess no matter what.
Bryan: Yeah, it’s excess in many aspects of life.
Mismanagement of energy
Mike: This is a conversation I was having with my friend, Matt Shank. Every time I talk to him it’s an enlightening experience. What we got into was it’s an excess issue even for people who aren’t exercising, because we’re looking at calories and go, “Oh, well I have too much energy,” right? Calories is just a measure of energy. Go, “Oh, I had too much energy today. I stuffed my face, so now I’ve got to go burn off this excess energy in the gym on the Gazelle or whatever, or in a spin class. Now I’ve got to burn off this energy.” But then what’s my biggest complaint? The biggest complaint is I don’t have enough energy. People are like, “I don’t have enough energy.” It’s like, well, what’s going on here?
Mike: What he and I were talking about was it’s a mismanagement of energy, what’s happening. Even with people who are sedentary, it’s a mismanagement of energy. It’s a mismanagement of energy for people who are training too much. I’d say maybe, probably less than 1% of the training population is hitting the sweet spot, and that is I eat well, but I don’t eat too much. For me, I eat as little as I can these days, and I don’t really look at the scale too much while trying to feel good and train. My body weight stabilized at a pretty, pretty healthy spot, but a lot of it I had to get over the idea of needing to look a certain way.
Identity and ego problem
Mike: Up until about five years ago, it was I was training three or four hours a day, two sessions a day, and a big part of it … I wonder if y’all have the same experience. It’s like I’ve got a gym, so everyone in the gym is looking at me. I’ve got to lead the gym. I’m got to be the example. I have a podcast, and I’m known. People have got to know that I’m training hard, because I’m telling them to train hard. I’ve got to be the example. Then one day, I go in and I can’t fucking move.
Laurie: It’s an identity and ego thing, right?
Laurie: It’s hard, because again in my world it’s like poll most people and it’s like, “Would you take nutrition advice or would you take exercise advice from somebody that doesn’t look a certain way?” That’d be really hard to be 300 pounds and be like, “Oh, yeah, but I’m the world’s greatest nutrition coach. Trust me.” Like eh.
Mike: What’s always funny though is like I’ll talk to somebody and they go, “Well, I’m doing whatever So-and-so said.” I’m like, “You mean that 240 pound bodybuilder?”
Bryan: The guy with like perfect genetics that like he touches a dumbbell and gets massive.
Mike: Yeah. That dude’s got great genetics, small joints, all that, and is on drugs, so maybe you shouldn’t. What’s the rest of his life look like? The dude’s just training all the time and sticking needles in. That’s probably not … I mean I say that because when I was growing up I was reading Flex Magazine.
Bryan: Well, yeah. Me too. For sure.
Mike: At the time I was like, “I don’t think these guys are on drugs. I don’t know.”
Chasing performance vs chasing aesthetics
Bryan: Yeah. You and I come from the same era. It was like Muscle Media, and Flex, and Muscle and Fitness, and all this stuff, the Weider principles and all those different things. Even in the bodybuilding world there’s this idea of excess, but it’s fueled by the people that are on Gear. Then you get down, kind of go below the people that are super shiny and flexing on Flex Magazine, and you look at like who are the top natural bodybuilders, and these guys are training like what we’re doing. They’re doing like four days a week, an hour, maybe hour and a half a session.
Bryan: Then you think about what you were saying regarding like two to three hours a day I was in the gym, I have a podcast, I have a gym, all these different things. You’re kind of chasing performance. Like I think I got confused in the same way when I was doing CrossFit and I was like, “I’m training all this way because I need to hit all my muscles, and I need to look a certain way, and I need to lead by example,” and blah, blah, blah. But if you’re chasing aesthetics, that amount of training is futile. It’s actually going to have the reverse effect and fuck up all your hormones and your CNS, and you’re not going to be able to progress. Your body’s not going to respond properly. But when you’re chasing performance, it could be argued-
Laurie: Yeah, you have to overload the system.
Bryan: It could be argued that you have to learn so many different things and you have to be so efficient at so many different things that there’s a necessity to do the two to three hours a day.
Every diet works
Laurie: Equally in the nutrition space, same thing. It’s like if your goal is fat loss, every diet works, whether keto, carnivore, intermittent fasting. They all create a caloric restriction, and that’s why they’re successful. It’s like it doesn’t matter how you eat, but eat in a way that you can be committed to it, you can be adherent and consistent, and that’s really all that matters. Then certainly there’s subsets too of like don’t be following keto, which is like a super high fat, low carb diet and reversely be doing high intensity exercise. You need to also eat the way your exercise requires.
Laurie: It’s just like there’s so many moving parts, but people come from a space of this isn’t stuff you learn in school or this isn’t … you’ll never get a crash course of like, “Hey, this is how to eat. Hey, this is how to exercise for your goals,” and stuff like that. What happens is every few months nutritionally some new diet comes out, right? Keto was the super big thing. I feel like it was like intermittent fasting, then it was keto, now we saw a slide towards carnivore. Like what’s going to happen?
Mike: You know what I call intermittent fasting? Skipping breakfast. All of a sudden, people love intermittent fasting, because I think for a long time we were told breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and people were skipping breakfast. I remember being like, “You can’t skip breakfast. You’ve got to eat breakfast.” Then intermittent fasting came along and I go, “Oh, this is clever.” It can be good, but yeah, it’s skipping breakfast. People are like, “I’m intermittent fasting occasionally.” It’s like you just skip a meal every once in a while.
Bryan: I’ve been doing IF, like six hour eating window, for like seven years, and it’s my jam. I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way.
Mike: A new one got laid on me by Ryan Frisinger recently. Do you know Ryan?
Mike: He’s in Austin. He was just talking about eating only when the sun is up.
Mike: Yeah. Your daily rhythm. If y’all think of what it is-
Mike: Circadian rhythm, yeah. We were talking about that being probably the most important. Like any time I run into somebody who has some type of health issue, their circadian rhythm is out of whack. If you can get that back in line, then everything just starts lining up really see.
Laurie: I mean welcome to shift workers. That’s why so many shift workers are so fucked. They’re a very hard population to work with, because it’s like if you look at literature and you look at research for shift workers, it’s like 90% of the health problems arise because people will be like, “Well, for three days I work over night,” but then they try to go back to a quote unquote “normal” person’s schedule of like, “Oh, I wake up at 6:00 in the morning. I go to bed at 8:00 or 9:00 PM.” It’s like dude, shift work’s great. We need you. You’re a super pertinent part of the population. But it’s like if you commit that life, you need to keep it consistent. Like seven days a week, you hold that schedule of whatever it is, 7:00 to 7:00 or whatever.
Find systems that are slightly flexible
Laurie: That’s where it gets you too. It’s like you just have to find systems that are slightly flexible. Because again, so many people operate off of the, “Well, if I’m watching my food or if I’m doing the nutrition thing, it has to be perfect and it has to be so type A.” It’s like well what happens is at some point, you just popped a little Mentos in a Diet Coke and you shook it up. Then at some point it’s going to go wild.
Laurie: For so many people, it’s just like it’s great that you can eat a certain way Monday through Friday, but if by Saturday you have to blow it out of the water, that’s not helpful. It’s like it might be more helpful for you to loosen up during the week, or figuring out if you’re like a moderator type personality or you’re an abstainer. If you’re an abstainer, you just can’t fucking do it. If chocolate’s your thing, like just don’t ever have chocolate.
Mike: Tell me about these personality type.
Laurie: Yeah. A moderator is exactly like it says. You are able to moderate. You are able to bounce back and forth. Nutritionally, this would be the person where it’s like if I’m looking through your cupboards, like maybe you have ice cream in the house. Maybe there’s-
Laurie: Chocolate bars, stuff like that. Because again, it’s like it can be there and you’re like, “Cool. Hey, I see you,” but you’re not trying to eat it every day. It’s like if you feel like it, maybe you have it.
Laurie: But like an abstainer personality, that would kill them because they would be the person where they’re going to get home and be like, “Fuck, there’s ice cream. I’d better eat it.” They’re going to be the person where like they need … Basically it’d be like keep your house super squeaky clean. If ice cream’s your shit and you really want it, okay, there’s obstacles in the way. It’s like you have to get in your car, you have to drive to the store, you have to drive back, and then you can have your ice cream. Because then you’re going to be more successful.
Making the best choice the easiest choice
Laurie: I know like Ben House, I’m a huge fan of him, and so he talks about the idea of, how do you make the best choice the easiest choice, and so he was talking about how at the Flow Center retreat that he has in Costa Rica, like same thing, if you wanted some sort of delicacy, you had to get on a bike, go for a 25 minute bike ride, obviously go pay money for a thing, go back, you know, and so it was like everybody, as a result, because all of the shitty choices, they just don’t exist on this retreat that he built.
Laurie: He talked about too, when he came to America for a couple days, he was so overwhelmed because you walk in the grocery store and the transaction isn’t like, “Hey, I want breakfast cereal,” it’s like you walk into Wal-Mart and here’s 2,000 types of breakfast cereal, you know? Over stimulation level 5,000. But again, it’s like they’ve built such a cool space in Costa Rica, like that shit doesn’t exist. It’s like when you open the fridge, it’s full of fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, you know, it’s full of just meat and healthier options, so I think that’s such a big thing that you have to understand which personality you are, because otherwise just in your kitchen alone, you’re going to set yourself up for total success or total failure.
Laurie: So on the coaching side, that’s one of the first things is like, “Cool, okay, so hey, welcome, I’m excited to work with you. Let’s go Marie Kondo your kitchen, your pantry, your freezer. Because, again, you have to know which personality you are or you’re doomed to fail from day one.
The stuff that works isn’t sexy
Laurie: So, fun question, did you work with a coach, like how did you get from basically that space? Because it doesn’t happen overnight, right? And that’s the funny thing that’s like-
Mike: No, it was years.
Laurie: People think, “Oh, I paid $200 or $300 for a coach. Tomorrow I’m going to be shredded, I’m going to have all these good habits.” And it’s like, no. The way I always explain it, it’s almost like you … we just bought a plot of land, so we need to put down all the bricks, foundationally, and then over time it’s like … you have to learn habits over time. I would be such a shitty coach if it was like, “Man, okay, so you suck at X, Y, and Z, so today we’re going to do this … ” And it’s like people can’t handle that. People can handle one to two things, so it might be like “Hey, so you don’t drink water. So we’re going to start with drinking water.”
Mike: Just drink water.
Laurie: Hey, I noticed that you don’t eat a single vegetable, looking over your food logs. Maybe we should start with that. And so it’s so funny, because nutritionally it’s not sexy. The stuff that works isn’t sexy. You look at social media, and it’s like you need this sexy carb cycling protocol or you need to eat food in a certain window. No, it’s like mother fucker, it’s the most boring, just basic bitch stuff, like that’s the stuff that gets the job done.
Mike: Yeah. I want to point out, like you were saying how long did it take, and it’s … Brian, you said restraint. There’s no restraint for me. Like I don’t have to-
Bryan: You don’t even want it.
Bryan Boorstein’s Backstory
Mike: So Bryan, tell me about your journey. What got you to this point? You’re 36, and I noticed that a lot of men that are around our age, there’s a … it’s like, “oh, I’ve got to dial this shit back.” What was the … from doing crazy workouts all the time?
Bryan: Yeah, so I started training when I was 15 to get better at basketball and compete with bigger kids, and it was super simple programming. It was 5×5 or 3×8 or whatever for three different movements, push-pull legs, and then a push-pull legs a couple days later, and that was it. Like I worked out six movements twice a week, and that was awesome. It gave me great results the first few years. So then I went through the bro split thing, like the Flex magazines, where I was doing way too much volume with a chest day, a back day, and a arm day …
Bryan: So I did that through college, but I never did two hours. It would just be … We just did that style of splitting it up. But it was whatever. It fit life well, because you only had to go in and do one muscle group, so it was easy for college. And then after college, a few years later, I found CrossFit with Anders, and CrossFit consumed me and became my kind of competitive outlet for so many years, and then around 2015, middle 2015, I went from competitive CrossFit immediately into a men’s physique thing, and I started training bodybuilding style again. I never let my body recover from what it had gone through with all the CNS destruction and the adrenal fatigue and stuff through CrossFit, so-
Bryan: It took me years. So this story basically is that I went from competitive CrossFit in 2014, making regionals team, to 2015 immediately going into men’s physique comp where … okay, we were doing paleo, Anders and I were doing fucking paleo while we were doing CrossFit. Right? Which is, obviously as we know now, the dumbest shit ever. So we’re doing paleo and CrossFit, and I go right from that into men’s physique comp where we’re cutting calories-
Mike: So paleo zone, five times the fat, um no.
Bryan: We were literally like, “has Anders told you that our meals were a pound of ground beef with cheese and avocado on top?” That was a meal for us.
Mike: Oh man.
Bryan: And then we did that three times a day. So that’s what we were eating and competing in CrossFit.
Laurie: So disclaimer for people that don’t know: if you’re playing a glycolytic sport like CrossFit, you need carbohydrates. So paleo tends to be very very low in it, because I think, what, like sweet potatoes? Because that’s really your only-
Bryan: Yeah, you really don’t get any carbs. Fruit.
Laurie: You’d have to freaking hustle on paleo, and so just disclaimer.
Bryan: So I go into the men’s physique comp, calories are getting cut, cardio is up, weight lifting, blah, blah, blah. I shred down to 180 pounds at 4% body fat or something. Stand on stage, flex, I finish that comp and my body just dumps. Like I was running on adrenaline 100%. So this is where I came up with a lot of the philosophies-
Garbage thyroid function
Laurie: From a body perspective though, it’s like your thyroid function was probably garbage. Which, your thyroid naturally down regulates when you diet, like that’s supposed to happen. And so that’s the thing. People will diet, but then they don’t know to bring food back up. They don’t know to bring fat and carbohydrates back up to help that restore. There’s been studies where it shows, hey, even though you dieted five or six months ago, your thyroid function is still shit. Like it’s a very slow process. But same thing, like, I would have loved to have seen blood work for your testosterone levels because they were probably poop.
Bryan: I did have blood work done-
Mike: That’s the other thing, I get messages from people all the time, they go, “I’m in my mid-30s, I’m being told I need to go on testosterone, but I don’t want to stick myself with a needle two times a week for the rest of my life.” I’m like, good, you don’t have to. You don’t have to do that. That will make you feel better ways to train and eat now, or you can take years … take the time that I took and really figure out … but I did a whole lifestyle change. And here’s the thing is most people aren’t willing to do that.
Laurie: Well, so it’s a two part system-
Mike: I stopped working as much, I started … I stopped … I turned my lights off when the sun went down, I do a lot of stuff where people look at it and go, “you’re fucking crazy, like I don’t know how you do that.” Or you can keep living the life you’re living, do it the same, and pump testosterone and-
8 months of recovery process
Bryan: So my process too me, it was a super low testosterone level. So I got tested a week before the physique comp, and it was like 190, which is really, really low for-
Bryan: So I was 190 going into the physique comp. I finished the comp, I couldn’t even walk up stairs. I had no energy. I took two weeks off from the gym, which is the longest time since I started in 1997. So the longest time I had taken off from the gym at once, two weeks, and then it took me eight months of training twice a week. So, to bring it all back, I went back to the routine I started with I was 15 years old, when I was just training twice a week, full body.
Bryan: And it took me eight months of doing that before my body normalized and my testosterone got back up to a reasonable level and my hormone and blood panel looked good. So, at that point, in early 2016 when I started feeling better, that’s when I came up with the approach to training that I currently use with the Evolved Training Systems and Paragon, and all the other individual programming that I do, which is more of this hybrid mix between bodybuilding with a little bit of functional fitness and very minimal cardio, for the most part. It’s a lot of walking and a lot of lifting weights, and then individualized as needed from there.
Bryan: So it’s been three plus years in development, and it’s the way I train myself. I go about an hour, maybe 70 minutes, like she said in the beginning, four days a week. It’s what I program for all my online programs, so that’s the evolution.
A hybrid style vision for a gym
Mike: Yeah, I’d like to see a lot more CrossFit gyms … I work with a lot of coaches, about a third of them are CrossFit gym owners, and we get into conversation a lot of times and they’re like, “I’m burning out.” I’m like, what do you think is happening to your numbers? Are your members sticking around longer than the 18 months? Because they may be getting burnt out because they’re doing the same thing you’re doing. So, it’s a tough thing, because there’s CrossFit gyms everywhere. So, you’re down the street and all of a sudden, your programming doesn’t look at sexy. I’m not pushing myself to the brink every workout, and that’s what I want!
Bryan: The results are better ways to train and eat without doing that.
Mike: Yeah, what do you think about that, an entire gym trying to implement something that’s a little less aggressive?
Bryan: Yeah. My ultimate vision is to create a gym in which that is the case, where the programming is more reasonable and is a little bit more of this hybrid style approach. And I don’t necessarily think that the class structure is the best way to implement that, just because I think it needs a little bit more individualized, and there needs to be some serious education as far as … you don’t have to be lying on the ground like a dead animal after every workout you do. Like you should probably walk away from the majority of your workouts and feel like you could hop right on a computer and start jamming out some super intelligent stuff.
Attraction is more on chemistry
Mike: I’ve found when it comes to attraction, a lot of it is coming down to more of chemistry than anything. And pheromones, hormones all these things, and I notice that I could even see how somebody smiles, and I go, wow, that’s a forced smile or a stressed smile … I can see the stress in somebody’s face, and I’m like, that’s not attractive. I used to wonder, like … that girl is so hot, but something is not clicking. And then I get talking to her, and I go, this isn’t, something is not clicking here. But then a lot men override that with “she’s hot.”
Laurie: She’s got a nice ass, it’s fine.
Bryan: No, but I agree with that too-
Mike: Chemistry is huge, and if you’re out of balance and you’re stressed out and all this kind of stuff, that is going to end up creating way more trouble than … being two percent less body fat is not going to make that better ways to train and eat.
Bryan: Someone’s level of attraction isn’t dependent upon physical appearance beyond a basic point, just like the happiness you have is not improved upon by wealth up past a certain point.
Mike: Well, I mean, you’ve got to look good up to a certain point.
Bryan: Right, like you have to have enough wealth to cover your STGD bill and your fucking rent and all that stuff, but yeah, up to a point and then you create your own happiness..
How men and women are judged
Mike: Well, here’s something I’ll throw out for the guys out there. This is an idea I’ve been playing around with for the last couple years. I’m not the only one to originate this idea, this is conversation about relationships, and women are judged … their status is judged on how sexy they are-
Laurie: One hundred percent.
Mike: And men are judged … but then women get, the conversation is that women get really mad about that. But then men are being judged on their financial success.
Bryan: Yep, yep.
Mike: So women are doing all sorts of things to try to stay sexy, but men are killing themselves trying to make money. And it goes both ways.
Bryan: Yeah, for sure, absolutely.
Laurie: Well, I mean, from the time you’re born though, as a female, it’s like you’re an object. Like, that’s a glorified thing. Where it’s like, a lot of times when we talk about women in society, as in, oh, she’s super smart and she’s super intelligent and all these qualities, it’s like the first qualities that come out of somebody’s mouth is she’s really attractive, she has great hair … so that’s very interesting. So I think one day when I have kids, I’d be terrified to have a female, because you have to talk different ways.
Being careful with words
Laurie: Bryan and I were talking about this with our Facebook group where there are certain words or certain vocabulary that I’m very careful to use with clients when talking. I don’t ever want to say to client, “You look really thin” or “You look really skinny,” it’s like reverse, let’s go the other way of, “Wow, you look really strong, you look really confident,” kind of going the reverse way …
Laurie: I bumped into somebody the other day, and I’m probably the only female who would take this this way, but I bumped into somebody, and she was like, “Man, you look great, you look really tiny these days,” and I deflated like a little balloon. I fucking love lifting. I love being in the gym, so to me, I was like, oh, tiny is not a word I ever want to hear to describe myself. But so many other women want to be tiny, want to be lean, want to be toned. Oh, but those words…
Mike: I try to stay away from any type of … congratulating someone on looking any certain way. I stopped doing it with women and losing weight at one point where I … I didn’t have an experience, but I just had a realization one day where I think I saw someone else do it, it wasn’t me. Someone said something to a woman, like, “Oh, you’re looking-”
Mike: “It looks like you lost some weight, look good.” And they’re like, “oh, I’ve been sick and I haven’t eaten very much … ” And I’m going, oh, she just got a dopamine hit off of being sick and not eating very much, what’s that message to her?
Bryan: It’s instilling that mindset.
Other Ways To Measure Progress
Laurie: Well, and that’s why scale stuff with people, and the whole monitoring your body weight and stuff like that, that shit gets so fucked because it’s like, if you’re really looking … say somebody goes from 200 pounds to 150 pounds, that is not a linear … if you plotted that every day, it’s just like … it’s going to go up, it’s going to go down, it might stay on the same plateau, and then it’s all over the place.
Laurie: But people get conditioned to believe, “oh my god, stepped on the scale and it didn’t go down. I’m such a failure, I fucked up, I need to be a little more restrictive or I need to do more cardio or … ” Stuff like that. So it’s like, fuck guys, stop weighing yourselves. Fucking take the rectangle, take the square, whatever, break it with a hammer, stop weighing yourself. There’s so many ways to measure progress that don’t involve that. Take pictures-
Mike: How do you get testimonials without weight?
Laurie: First of all, don’t even get me started, because before and after transformation photos are my worst fucking nightmare. I hate them, I hate companies that endorse them. I get it. It’s really cool to reflect on … you looked like this, now we’re like this, but again, if we’re talking a public space on, say, Instagram, let’s say again, somebody has a picture where they went from 200 pounds to 150 pounds … yes, that’s awesome, I’m sure they look better ways to train and eat, they feel better, but what about the people … that sends the connotation that the 200 pound person also wasn’t great. You’re only better when you’re smaller is the message that gets sent.
It’s all about the comparison game
Laurie: So think about for your people where … what if they’re looking at your 200 pound picture and that’s them. What messages are other people receiving? Again, it’s all about the comparison game. Or even if you’re working with one coach and all that coach spams is transformation before and after … Yeah, some people can make a couple changes and see really drastic changes and then reversely, if somebody has treated their body like a dumpster fire, they’ve tried every diet under the sun, they could try the same exact things and they’re not going to have that transformation.
Laurie: So it just starts this spiral of, oh, well I’m just not doing this good enough or I’m not good enough because of this. And it’s just fucking shitty. So transformation pictures … I hate them with every fiber of my being. Pictures are a great way to measure progress, but if that is your marketing and your business is just spamming transformation photos, go fuck yourself and get out of the industry. I fucking hate it.
Laurie: Before and after photos and … again, as a coach, you’re always playing clean-up on somebody else’s stuff, right? So people … I primarily do macro-based coaching, which is having people track how much protein, carb, and fat they eat. So people, they try to hire you, and they’re like, “well, I want to achieve results, but I’m really burnt out on tracking. I had a really bad experience… ”
Get away from being too OCD about numbers
Laurie: And so it’s like, cool, tracking isn’t bad, but you just had a bad experience with it. You had a coach that was getting you to be too OCD about numbers. I’ll see people all the time where they’re trying to perfectly hit their macros to a single digit, and it’s like, fuck dude, your food has so much diversity even just if you eat broccoli fresh versus frozen. Your macro app is not perfect, so we’ve got to get people away from that OCD, type-A tendency of … fuck, like…
Mike: It’s funny, I’ve had people … this is my favorite Instagram post: “I adjusted my macros down 10 grams of carbs, and I finally broke through the plateau and lost… ”
Mike: People are hilarious.
Bryan: If you weigh your meat before cooking or after cooking.At the end of the day, just be consistent with the way you do shit, and it doesn’t really matter. If you measure it cooked, great. If you measure it raw, great. Just always do it the same way so you can make adjustments and then everything is cool.
Laurie: There’s so much to be said for … yes, track, yes, weigh, measure your food, that’s awesome, but also loosen the fucking grip, people. Your type-A people are the people that are going to self-destruct at some point. Because, again, it’s like, oh, well, I had 1/10 more of an apple today, I fucked it up. Like, goddamn, there’s so much bigger to the picture, Susan. Chill.
Quality Coaching and 40 Hour Workweeks
Laurie: So at some point in my life, I had 130, 140 nutrition clients. Disclaimer for anybody that does coaching, normally most people it’s like, 50 is really pushing it on clients. Because it’s a lot of emotional investment, it’s just a lot of caring.
Mike: I’ve coached a lot of coaches.
Mike: My experience is 40, if you’re not doing any marketing. If you’re not doing the other stuff in the business, and everything else is being handled and you’re just coaching-
Mike: Forty is plenty. I … There’s all sorts of different coaching models out there, so I’m not a fan of any single way of doing it, but I don’t want anyone coaching more than 20 hours a week. Because once you break 20 hours a week of coaching … this isn’t everybody. Some coaches can do more … at that, I think the quality if the coaching goes down. The ability to be present with the client goes down.
Laurie: Oh, 100%.
Mike: It’s just, I think there’s a problem, culturally, with 40 hour workweeks in the first place. Eight hours a day is an issue.
Laurie: I agree.
Mike: I get way more done than the average person in about five or six hours of work a day. If we averaged out the year, maybe I was working full weekends and shit like that, but I think there’s, in the coaching industry, it’s exploding right now. It’s exploding. There’s many reasons for that. We have more wealth on the planet than ever before. People have more disposable income, people are hiring coaches.
Why people turn to coaching
Mike: People gravitate towards coaching because they are … so many reasons why. People are having more autonomy and they’re more sedentary than ever and there’s more choice than ever and having someone come in and add context to their life. And so I see more people wanting to hire coaches and I see more people wanting to be coaches, and I think that if you’re a coach, one of the biggest opportunities you have is to get your shit straight. Get your shit together, because most coaches don’t have their shit together yet.
Mike: And so they’re stressed out and then they’re trying to help clients who are stressed out-
Bryan: Get your shit together.
Mike: We’ve got to lower the volume on all this shit. Let’s get your shit together and then we can go from there. I mean, I’ve done the same thing. Been running the gym … I had a thousand … I delegated to other coaches, but we had a thousand athletes in training programs online at one point, and it was just like more, more, more. And I woke up one day, and I was like, why are we-
Laurie: Because there’s no ability to scale-
Mike: Doing this. Why are we doing this? And now I have way more enjoyment working with fewer clients. I’ve got just a few one on one clients, and I’ve got a bunch of people in a group program. Yeah, it’s like, oh, it can be easy.
Finding Harmony in the Coaching Business
Laurie: So, for me, that moment in time was the big “ah-ha,” was … okay, with coaching, there’s not ability to scale, if that’s your only business is just coaching with people, it’s like your rates either have to go up or you have to take on more clients. That’s your two options. So it was like I almost felt trapped because you were like, I don’t want to be working with this many individuals. Yeah, I want to help people, but more isn’t better. In context, we talked about earlier, quality is always … that needs to … how do you find the harmony of that?
Mike: Do you still think about it that way? I either have to charge more for fewer clients or I can have more …
Laurie: I think present day, what I’m more settled towards, I’m trying to not put all my eggs in a basket. So, when you ask me what I do, I do nutrition coaching, so yes, I have clients, but I also educational blogging, I get on the internet.
Laurie: I love getting in pub mat or nerding out over topics, whether it’s women’s health, whether it’s thyroid issues, whether it’s just basic stuff like protein needs or … like, our Paragon program has provided really stuff because I kind of got away from the exercise side of stuff, and it was very food and nutrition-exclusive, and it’s like, oh, that opens the door back up to that. So I love doing educational blogging and then out third component is providing a program for people where it’s like, do you just want to look good? Cool, there’s five kazillion programs out there, find the one that works for you.
Self reflections and what do we really want
Laurie: I feel like I’m finally at a place at 29 where I can go travel and if I don’t train, it’s not the end of the world. I remember being in the midst of being a gym full of regional and games athletes and I forced myself to take a rest day, and that wasn’t a thing in the gym. We trained seven days a week.
Laurie: I was coming back from having shoulder surgery, and I felt physically like dog shit, I felt mentally like dog shit … I need a break. I remember getting texts where it was like, “Hey, how come you’re not at the gym?” And I was sitting in my car bawling my eyes, and that was the coming to Jesus moment … I can’t do this anymore. I need to find a better way. So it was actually … my option was like, I’m just going to jet pack out of … it was in a different city in Texas, so I just moved to Austin and it was like a clean slate. What type of life do we want to build? What do I want my life to look like?
Laurie: If you want to train five kajillion hours a day, do it. But then you have to act appropriately, where it’s like, if you train that much, you might not get to care about aesthetics, because you need to fuel yourself to recover, and you need to be taking measures-
Mike: Or have a job where you’re advancing your career-
Bryan: Or a family or any sort of fun, outside of the gym.
People want to have it all
Mike: I think that’s one of the most common things is that people … they want to have … they want to make the money, you know, have the career. They want to train five hours a day.
Laurie: They want to have abs for days.
Mike: They want to have all of it, right? They just want to have all of it. And it’s like, well, these probably don’t all fit together. Or, this happens a lot with coaches I see, it’s like I want to go to the games and I want to be a great coach and I want to run my gym and I want to do this. And I’m like yeah.
Laurie: Pick one in that scenario. Really.
Mike: Yeah, pick one. Be great at one.
Laurie: The person that does everything does nothing well. So pick one to two priorities
Mike: Of course, people think of, well, what about Chris Spealler or Jason Khalipa?
Mike: Those people are outliers.
Bryan: I mean, the best coaches-
Mike: They also showed up at the right time in the right place-
Laurie: Oh, 100%.
Mike: I’ve got the same experience. People will go, “Don’t do what I did.” I fucking … there was some dice being rolled and the universe was looking out for me in a lot of ways. But don’t do it like I did it. The same with a lot of these guys. It looks like they did it all, but they’re not coming from where you’re coming from.
Bryan: I think when you’re a really good athlete too, and you try to coach people, it often times leads to a clouded perception of what actually works.
Changes in Coaching Over The Years
Mike: Yeah. People come a long way though. I was talking about this the other day. I remember when I got into CrossFit in ’07, I saw a huge opportunity, and I go, hardly anyone knows how to weight lift in this thing, but they’re doing snatches and cleans and jerks and I go, oh, fuck … and I did, I traveled around the Southeast, I was living in Tennessee, and I did weight lifting clinics a lot in ’08, ’09, ’10, ’11 …
Mike: But now when I go into a gym, it’s like they actually are pretty fucking good, so this is where I see the industry going as a whole is movement coaching has become a commodity. Some are better ways to train and eat, but there’s a gym in your town where somebody can coach you really well. And it’s going to get better and better and better, and it’s going to become more and more of a commodity.
Laurie: Well, and it’s the accountability because I can’t tell you how many people will buy a product of mine and they’re like, “yeah, I read it, it was great,” but … you can know all the information in the world … there’s podcasts about everything, there’s books about everything, you can go to school for stuff that’s … everybody knows how to eat healthy and yet you’re either fat or you’re not. Right?
Mike: Right, like I know I shouldn’t be eating this doughnut … fuck it, I’m eating the doughnut.
Laurie: Yeah, it’s accountability, it’s mindfulness, it’s awareness, and that’s why coaching … you give a shit about it, if you want to look a certain way or you want a certain outcome, you just have to-
Stepping up your game as a coach
Mike: You have to up your game as a coach too. I mean, 10 years ago, coaching was movement and this is what you should eat. Turn in your diet log, and we’ll make a tweak and then go on about your way, and then fuck the rest of your life. Now coaching, you guys are doing it, which is more get into the rest of your life and see what’s going on.
Laurie: Totally. And I think you’re seeing a shift in the nutrition space, because it used to be, like, everybody just wanted a meal plan. And I’m like, “Get me a meal plan, just tell me what to do… ” And it’s like, well, that doesn’t account for if you have a birthday. There’s not going to be fucking birthday cake on your meal plan. If you want date night with your-
Mike: You don’t know my meal plan.
Laurie: Got a really good RD over there.
Laurie: But how do you teach people how to fish? How do you teach people … if you’re traveling in an airport, good luck following that meal plan, because what if there’s only three restaurants and none of them have your tilapia, green beans, and you know, whatever the fuck, man. It’s teaching people how … teaching people nutritional education, because we sit in a desk for 12 to 18 years. We don’t learn how to do stuff like taxes, nor do we learn how to actually eat for the body we want. We don’t … same in the exercise space again, it’s like if you want to look a certain way, you don’t learn that information.
Getting people active in and outside the gym
Laurie: A lot of it is just teaching people to give a fuck, to be honest. It’s no different … I remember, I posted something the other night where it was like, just getting people to be active. And it’s like, don’t obsess about how many steps you get throughout the day, but generally we don’t want to be a potato, we don’t want to … go to the gym for two hours means nothing if the rest of the day, the other 23 hours, like, you’re sitting on your ass, immobile, not doing anything.
Laurie: So it’s like getting people to be mindful and aware of … are you active outside the gym? Hey, well, it’s 8:00, I’ve sat at my computer because I was working that big work project, oh shit, I haven’t been very active. Cool, I’m going to stop what I’m doing, I’m going to go take my dog for a long walk, and it’s little things like that … that’s the difference … successful people do things a little bit differently, so you do have to give a fuck. So teaching people to … that’s a very important life skill is just being aware of the type of life you live, and is it aligning with the way you want to look or is it aligning with the way you want to live life? And then you’re building the plan to get there.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah, I’ve seen some of my biggest progress in movement from a playing … just going, throwing frisbees, surfing, paddle boarding, or, you know, just going for a jog, dancing-
Bryan: You don’t bike? I’m a big fan of biking.
Diversity of Programs
Laurie: It’s just good to have diversity too. Obviously Bryan and I, we have a program that’s all oriented around bodybuilding and lifting, but … do other things too. So, for me, on Saturdays, there’s something called ATX Sprint Squad in Austin, so literally, it’s exactly what it sounds like: for an hour, you get together on Saturdays, there’s 50, 100 people, and we just do little sprint workouts for that hour, and it’s freaking awesome.
Mike: Oh, that’s cool.
Mike: It’s at a park?
Laurie: So it’s at Zilker Park, so you get the downtown view, and, like, it’s just freaking nature. Like, people are running barefoot … seriously. It’s a big population. But it’s so cool. It’s not even about the exercise, it’s … the entire thing is a conversation. It’s where I’ve met all my friends. So it’s like, oh my god, this was so cool.
Laurie: So even if somebody’s goal is like, “Oh, I just want to be shredded, I want great aesthetics … ” Well, you have to enjoy it too, so it’s getting back to that, how do you find the harmony of working towards your goals? Because you don’t ever show up at a certain arrival point. It’s not like you wake up and you’re like “Well, made it, cool. I’m done.” No, you’re on planet Earth the rest of your life, so you’re constantly just returning this better ways to train and eat. So, same thing. How do you find that harmony of doing the things you love while also working towards your goals and enjoying the process? That’s what coaching is all about.