Are you exhausted from constantly chasing outcomes and feeling unfulfilled even when you reach your goals? The never-ending quest for external validation and concrete accomplishments can drain us of energy and leave us disconnected from our genuine desires and purpose. It’s time to break free from fixating only on the end result and redirect our attention to the journey itself.
In today’s episode, Ted sits down with Dan Go, a renowned personal fitness trainer and transformation coach, to explore a refreshing perspective on success, personal growth and the secrets behind sustainable body and health transformation.
They delve into the concept of “summiting” in life, where many individuals believe that reaching a goal is the ultimate achievement. However, Dan introduces a different perspective and encourages falling in love with the climb, the process, and the journey itself.
Dan shares invaluable insights on how to redefine your identity based on meaningful actions, emphasizing the significance of mindset shifts and their indispensable role in sustainable body and health transformations.
He also addresses the impact of social media on our perception of fitness and self-worth, highlighting the dangers of comparing ourselves to extreme representations. Furthermore, he offers practical advice on cultivating a healthier social media environment and much more.
Get ready to shift your mindset and discover the true joy in the journey towards achieving your fitness and health goals! Listen now!
Dan Go, the CEO of High Performance Founder, is a personal trainer and transformation coach dedicated to helping entrepreneurs unleash their potential. With 15 years of experience and a track record of coaching thousands of clients, Dan has helped them lose over 100,000+ pounds while establishing one of Toronto’s most successful gyms. In 2018, he shifted his focus to assisting high-achieving entrepreneurs in improving their health and building world-class bodies. Dan is driven by his passion to guide others through challenges and unlock their true potential. He firmly believes that prioritizing health serves as the foundation for overall life transformation, and he is committed to using his coaching skills and personal experiences to empower others to unleash their greatness.
Connect to Dan Go
Facebook: Dan Go
Podcast: The Dan Go Podcast
- The misconception of viewing goals as the ultimate destination
- How to create your own summits and redefine success
- The importance of falling in love with the process and journey
- Shifting your identity based on meaningful actions
- Dan’s journey into fitness
- Lessons learned from overcoming adversities
- Embracing simple principles for sustainable fat loss and health
- Navigating the pitfalls of social media fitness culture
- The influence of social media on our perception of fitness and self-worth
- Overcoming extremes and finding a balanced approach
- Cultivating awareness to create a healthier social media experience
- Managing the impact of social media on self-worth
- The key to achieving true health transformation
- And much more…
Podcast Transcription: Level Up Your Health & Performance: Rewiring Your Brain For Sustainable Body Transformation with Dan Go
Ted: Dan Go, thanks so much for coming back on the show. Good to see you, my man.
Dan: Good to see you too, thanks for having me back on, I appreciate it.
Ted: Yeah. And we were just talking about something really important. Um, you know, I complimented you for those people who are on Twitter or Instagram, they see that you've been growing your account, growing your influence. And then we talked about summiting in terms of success in life, not just business, but, and you had something interesting to say. So tell me about how you look at what you've accomplished so far.
Dan: Yeah, I actually heard this quote. It was said by David Senra from the Founders Podcast, but he got it from this rapper called Russ. And the lyric is, "I love the climb, I don't care where the summit is." And that's something that I've been playing around with in kind of like this, I guess you could say, the growth of the audience and the growth of, I guess you could say, the Dan Go brand.
Sometimes I'll get caught up in the wanting of outcomes and the overinvestment of achieving outcomes that I really forget that I'm really doing this stuff because I actually love it. I love creating content. I love creating educational stuff that changes people's lives. I love having my voice out there and doing so in a way that is authentic to myself. And one thing that we were talking about was a sense of like the summit, which is like, everyone thinks that there's like this summit, say it's like Mount Everest where they get to the summit and that's it. You've accomplished it, you've achieved the goal and there's nothing else past that.
I like to think that we create our summits and every single time that we achieve something significant, whether it's growing to a certain social media, you're growing a social media account to a certain number of followers, or maybe it's getting to a certain level of body fat. What we are doing is we're actually creating summits for ourselves. And then what we do as a result of that summit is number one, we find ourselves at the base of one mountain or another mountain, but it really has nothing to do with the summit whatsoever. You're creating new standards and new normals for yourself. And then the key is actually to understand that you're not necessarily trying to achieve anything or a finality of anything. What you are trying to do is to fall in love with the climb and to fall in love with the process and to fall in love with the journey of what you're doing.
Ted: I love this because there are a lot of people who would say, "Oh, what you're telling me is that cliche to enjoy the journey, but I can't enjoy the journey because there's this that's happening in my life and that this other thing that's happening.” And why is this lesson important, Dan?
Dan: This lesson is important because of what they expect when they achieve the thing that they are trying to achieve, right? So they think that, let's just use weight loss as an example. You think that by weighing a certain weight or being on a certain body fat percentage that when I get there, I'm going to be happy, I'm going to be fulfilled, I'm gonna be this, I'm gonna be that, I'm gonna get all of these things. You and I know, okay, like you get down to a low body fat. And you achieve it, you look in the mirror and you're like, "Awesome. And what happens? Nothing.
You don't feel... You may feel like a little iota of dopamine, but what really happens is that you realize that the over-indexing of trying to achieve this outcome and doing everything you can to achieve this outcome, it actually is empty. It's completely empty. And what we should have done in the first place was put the emphasis and the onus on the actions and falling in love and taking pride in the actions that we are doing. So I'm probably gonna kibosh this, but James Clear has this fantastic quote, and I'm just paraphrasing where he says that the things that you take pride in and the things that you're proud of are the things that you base your identity off of.
So, you can't base your identity off of weighing less on the scale. You can't base your identity off of making a certain amount of money, right? You have to base your identity off of the things that actually matter that would correlate with achieving these things in the first place. So, let's say it's like, you know, weight loss, like, I love exercising, I'm so proud of the fact that I exercise pretty much almost on a daily basis, whether I'm walking or whether I'm hitting the weights. I am so proud of the fact that I choose to put healthy and energetic foods into my body, very nutrient-dense foods. I'm very proud of the fact that I'm able to also have a lifestyle around that, instead of just being completely 100% like no processed sugars or whatever. It's like, no, I can have a cheesecake with my daughter. And I love my flexibility and my mentality towards flexibility.
So everyone has this kind of convoluted idea of what happens when they achieve their goals. But the reality is that it's completely empty. And I'm not saying that achieving it won't change your life because it probably will. But we want to put the focus of ourselves in the emphasis on the things that actually matter. And I know it's this whole cliche of like, okay, enjoy the journey and just trust the process or love the process or whatever. But this is actually more so a sense of like, you have to actually take pride in and focus on the things and the actions that you're taking more so than these outcomes and put your identity on these rather than on a certain amount of weight that you weigh or the amount of money that you make every single year.
Ted: A couple of things come up for me when you share that. One is that I'm getting lean again right now. You and I, we both know all the fitness influencers. We take our best photos and put them up, of course, but we cycle throughout the year. It's normal to do that unless I think there's like Mario Tomic who has kept it 10% body fat for like, however many years, but most of us cycle, and there's nothing wrong with that.
But when you're lean, for someone listening right now, you're still going to have problems in your life. And you might enjoy seeing yourself in the mirror. And certainly, I'm enjoying seeing the change that's happening in my body right now, but I'm still going to have problems. It doesn't make the problems go away.
And the other thing that comes up, and I love this conversation because you and I, we both coach clients. We're both passionate about this. And we both, like when you put up your testimonials from your clients, just like I do, you're like, "Hey, this person lost this and did this." And we might hint at better energy and they're more present with their family. But we lean heavily on the superficial stuff because we know that's what attracts people initially.
How do you coach your clients when they get with you and start making progress and they see the change in their body, but then they've been there for a little while and just like that new purchase, you get a new watch, new car, new house, it's cool, but it just becomes your house or car. It doesn't matter if it's a Ferrari, the brand new Ferrari, it doesn't matter if it's a Honda, it just becomes your car after a while. How do you coach people on this identity shift?
Dan: I first try to ask them about the things that they are proud of that have nothing to do with how much they weigh. That is the first thing. Um, because a lot of times people will be like, "You're okay. What are you proud of?" And they're going to be like, "Oh, I'm proud of the fact that I lost like 10 pounds in the last three weeks." "When I'm proud of this and I'm proud of, like, you know, the fact that I'm able to fit into my new pants."
And what we try to do is we try to kind of shift that conversation towards like, "Okay, so process-wise, you know, the things that you're doing, what exactly are you most proud of?" And I'll use an example from one of my clients. So, I was asking him the very same question, and you know, I framed it in a way like, "Aside from losing these last 10 pounds, aside from this energy that you're feeling, what are you proud of?" And he was like, "Um, okay, well, I'm proud of the fact that I can delay gratification. I can think about this thing that I want to eat that I used to eat in order to like really just, um, you know, just kind of remove or numb my stress."
And then I can point myself and delay that to a point where I'm using walks right now in order to deal with my emotions, in order to deal with my stress. Another one that he said is like, "I'm working out every single day, and I love it." And one thing I say, and one thing I ask as a clarifying question is like, "How does that make you feel?"
And the reason I ask that is because it's one thing to be like, "I'm doing this action." It's another thing to actually re-engage the way that they feel as a result of doing these actions. And the reason I say this is because you and I know that getting in shape is very much like compound interest. It's like invisible, right? You can't see it, and you can't even feel it when it's happening. But what happens as a result is that you lose sight and you're not able to zoom out.
So when I asked him, I was like, "How are you feeling?" He was like, "Oh my God, like after every single workout, I feel just more clear, I feel less anxiety, I feel more energetic." And then I'm just like, "Well, have you noted these things down?" And you're like, "No." And these are the things that people take for granted when they do something like this.
So we always have to bring it back to like, number one, what are these actions that they're proud of? Number two, how does the way that you feel as a result after doing these actions, to remind them of like, we always look for these reasons why, right?
It's like we always want to know what the why is. And yes, you want to get healthy for your family, you want to do this and do that and whatever. But we also want to say, like, okay, and these little pockets of these actions, like, what is the why behind that? And that's usually the feeling that they're getting.
And this leads me to the last point, which is like, we get people to, let's just say, track their calories, we get people to workout, we get people to walk, we get people to just take care of their health. What we are doing is very tactic-based, right? And for you and I, we work very closely with our clients, we're like, okay, so this doesn't work for your lifestyle, so let's adjust and let's do this, right? And we make all these little micro adjustments.
That is the tactical part of fat loss. What we have to really focus on is the mental aspect of fat loss. It's the mental side of getting lean. It's the changing of the mind and the changing of the identity. Because I'll tell you this, like, hey, guess what, Ted, like, if you gave one of your clients a six-pack and you magically waved your wand around him and you, like, gave him a six-pack, how fast or would they be able to keep it or would they actually lose it within a couple of months? And what would you say?
Ted: Yeah, of course. I mean, because if the habits, the way I think about it is they have habits that made them overweight. So if you go for lipo or wave a magic wand or whatever it is, they still have the habits so they end up defaulting. They might train a little bit harder and eat a little cleaner. But eventually, they're gonna fall back, and they're going to be right back where they were, most likely maybe even worse.
Dan: Yeah, exactly. So, you can't take the old you into, let's just say, this new level of health, right? So us as coaches, our job is tactical, but it's also mental. I mean, I would say it's, I hate to use ratios, but I would say it's probably like 60%, 70% mental and then like 30% tactical. Because like, guess what, we all know how to get in shape.
Almost all of us, except there are little nuances to it, right? And that's the stuff that we, we jump into and, you know, we're like, okay, so if a person's on, like, a caloric deficit for, like, a prolonged period of time, you know, we have to give them, like, a break away from the deficit. This is the stuff that people don't necessarily get. These are, like, the nuances, but true body transformation and just, like, true health transformation comes from the changing of the mind in relation to how it perceives nutrition, workouts, sleep.
And to, and then it's on us and it's also on the client to be able to facilitate that transition from wherever they are into changing them into an entirely different person.
Ted: Yeah, it's, I think it's easier for a client who's getting results and happy with the process and open to hearing something like that because then they become, they're feeling better, they're seeing results, they're like, hey, how do I keep this up? Okay, so this identity shifting, okay, tell me more about that. But for someone listening who's not, who's like, no man, just tell me the tactics.
What would you say, like, I tried my best to share about that too, but what have you found that really helps people in your content creation? Like, how do you help people see that if they're not working directly with you?
Dan: I think it's a couple of things. So, number one, I believe that social media fitness makes the whole process of getting in shape so much harder and so much more complicated. And there is also a lot of fear that is tossed around when it comes to getting in shape as well. So, I know this fitness influencer, you probably know him as well.
We can talk about this outside of this podcast, but this guy's, like, going to Lululemon and being like, oh, yeah, the clothes are making you fat and making you unhealthy and like, oh, BPA this and BPA that and then he's going to, like, and the chemicals in the clothes, right? And all of his social media is just pure fear-mongering of things that people don't have to fear.
And I'll tell you this, no one has really ever gotten themselves into shape long term by using fear and by beating themselves up and by feeling shame. Maybe some, maybe a small percentage, but most people, it is about having a better vision for your body, it's about keeping things simple. And from my perspective, it's like, give them hope, you know, like give them hope that it doesn't have to be this complicated.
So if you see my stuff on social media, it really is all about number one, it's like 18 to 90% trying to keep things as positive as possible. And also 18 to 90% trying to keep things as simplistic as possible. Not being like, you need this macronutrient ratio and you need, like, you know, all this kind of stuff. Like, no, no. Like, for most people, no one's going to actually change their bodies for that. And something I realized with my audience, my audience are not bros. They're not broettes, okay?
They're not trying to get into the nth degrees of body fat. These are regular people. These are average people who, some of them are like, what is a macronutrient? I don't even know what is, you know, what is fiber? Like, for us, we're sowing the weeds that we're like, how do you not know this stuff?
And I like to say that I want to make fitness and getting in shape as accessible as humanly possible to this underappreciated subset, which is around, like, 90, probably like 95% of the population, which doesn't know about the weeds of the stuff. So every single part of my, I guess you could say, my content is really just to simplify fitness for them, is really to push the things that actually matter. When it comes to fitness, it's like, you know, the four pillars, which is like, you know, eat nutrient-dense foods, do some form of movement or exercise three days a week, you know, lifting is like, you know, having a retirement plan for your body, uh, you know, drink water. Um, and, and it may be, like, some people may look at that and be like, well, like, yeah, duh, you know, whatever. But the reality is, is that most people, at least from my experience, they have not necessarily even heard that because so much of social media is like fighting each other on these little minute details that don't even matter.
You know, so, so for me, it's, it's really just like embracing the idea of simplicity, making fitness as accessible as humanly possible, and I get people all the time that people don't even work with me and they're like technically basically DMing me all the time. I've lost like 10 KG. I've lost like, you know, 20 pounds and just going on your social media channel or whatever, and guess what? Like, I'm not telling people how to calculate their calories and not telling people how to get the right amount of protein per gram or whatever it is, I'm literally telling them like, okay, so if I had this average person in front of me, what would I say to them? And then that's what I say.
Ted: I think an important point that you're bringing up is making sure that a person who is listening or let's say is actively paying attention to people on social media, trying to get in better shape, making sure you're getting the right message for you. Because I don't know the influencer who you're talking about.
But I've had someone on the show earlier. I mean, the show's like nine years old now, I think, back in the beginning, who came on and said, make sure that you go to a natural spring to get your drinking water because that's super, it's crucial, crucially important for your health. And maybe you can make an argument about it, but asking someone who's running a business or spending a lot of time in their career and they have a family and their children need attention but you can't be there because you got to drive an hour to the natural spring to fill up like however many water bottles to bring it back for your entire family because if you don't, you're never going to be healthy.
And I was just like at the time, I don't know, I don't know how I reacted to it, but it's a point that I remember and I'm just like. You have to be careful who you're listening to. Do you have a follow-up there?
Dan: 100% so I did this video, and it's about the reasons why social media is messing up our health. And the reason I put that video out is because there are a couple of things that are wrong with social media. And you know what? I'm not past the irony of the fact that I'm growing on social media and I'm like, you know, on it and I'm doing it. I'm not past that irony whatever or whatsoever. I hope I'm bringing a different voice to it.
But there are so many things that are wrong with social media fitness. So many things. And one of them is context. So, you know, you'll have someone that has had like, let's just say, like six to six percent body fat giving advice on how to eat and giving advice on how to work out, and he's giving advice to the person who is trying to get at 6% body fat, but that the normal person that looks at this you know, is like, this is like, they're not even thinking it's unrealistic.
They're actually thinking like, this is what I gotta do, right? I gotta like restrict every part of my life. Or on the very opposite side, oh, I'm just gonna eat cheesecake, and I'm just gonna eat Snickers bars because like flexible dieting, right? Like, we get the extremes on fitness when it comes to social media. And these are the things unfortunately that actually get the most play.
Right? So like the guy who has the chiseled abs or the girl who actually has the chiseled abs who can't necessarily even have a period or hasn't had a period in the last like four months. Right? So, we don't understand the context of like what these people are going through.
So, number one, it's like, you and I know this as well, maybe not a lot of people know this, but a lot of the people that you see on social media probably using drugs. If they're, if they're like super, you know, if they're and they have like just like the most craziest genetics that you've ever seen, there is somewhat of a good chance that they're on PEDs or maybe they have good genetics. Well, guess what?
Like the secret to having six-pack abs, one of them is actually having a great set of parents, right? Or actually the person who has six-pack abs or the girl who has six-pack abs, whatever, we don't know that they're dealing with an eating disorder or body dysmorphia. So when we see these things on social media, we see these things as actually known as the availability bias.
So when we see these things on social media, we think these things are normal. We think that these people are just walking around the world, just the average person walking down the street. No, they are actually at the—I call them the billionaires of fitness because these guys are at the level of what fitness is for a guy like, you know, myself, who keeps my body at around 15% body fat, you know, and it's totally cool with that.
I know coaches who do the same, and unfortunately, they are super smart coaches, but because their bodies are normal and because they have average genetics and because they're, you know, let's just say in shape for the average person, people will look at them and say, "You're too small. I'm not listening to you," or "You're at 15% body fat, I'm not listening to you," even though they may have, let's just say, an advanced degree in nutrition or whatever.
So, the problem with social media is that, number one, it's like we don't know the context. We see the extremes, and we think that this is normal. And at the same time, you know, guess what? People are willing to say and do whatever in order to facilitate a better brand, in order to get people to buy their products. And in order to—I'm not gonna say scam and fool or trick these guys, but basically, they're masquerading their advice for what they do for their bodies as advice for regular average people who have businesses, who have families, who have dogs, who have lives, you know? So that's probably what is wrong with social media fitness at this very moment. I don't see it changing whatsoever. And, personally, for me, that's why I post the way that I post. It's actually the reason why I started out on Twitter in the first place, because I wanted my thoughts to be more, I guess you could say, prominent than the way that my body looks.
Ted: Love that. Yeah, and I think you're doing a fantastic job, and I think the tide—I don't know if it's—I would say it's turning a little bit. Of course, when you were talking, I immediately thought of this TikTok reel that also went viral on Twitter. I don't know if you saw it or not, but it was a day of eating carnivore, and the guy—did you see that video?
Dan: I just saw a day of eating, like, whatever, and then I'm just like, "Oh my god, these videos suck." Like, I just see all of them. Like, all these videos suck. They're horrible, yeah.
Ted: Absolutely. And this one was terrible because in between the—I think it was a pound of ground beef with the entire stick of butter for breakfast—he had a test, a raw testicle pop like a lollipop, but it was a raw testicle, and it's just like, it's just pure entertainment, you know? It's disgusting. And like you said, people are—we know that attention equals—it could be, it could not even be about money.
I know people who have a lot of followers that they don't do as well as you might think financially, but it's for the attention. And then like you said, other people are just doing it because it works to sell things.
What would you say to someone who is drawn to those extremes when it comes to social media, but it hasn't led to results in their own life because it's so extreme? Like, how do people make a shift. Certainly, by following you, by following me, but beyond that, what would you say?
Dan: The very first thing is like avoidance. If you find someone that's posting things that don't necessarily make you feel good about your body, unfollow them. Even if it's me or someone else, if my advice makes you feel worse, then don't follow me. Okay? If someone keeps posting six-pack abs and stuff that makes you feel bad about yourself, instead of inspired, get away from it. Unfollow. And the other thing I would say is that you have to be aware because when you get on social media, you're walking into a slot machine, you are walking into a casino. That's something you have to understand. You have to have the awareness that every time you walk into Twitter or Instagram or whatever, you're literally walking into a mental casino. And these things are designed to draw your attention, make you feel certain things, and make you want certain things. And it is with awareness comes change.
So if every time that you log onto like, you know, whatever it is, like Twitter or Instagram understand that the people that you follow or the way the game is rigged is going to be rigged in the way that is going to try to draw your attention, that's gonna try to make you feel certain things. So have that awareness first. And then if you're like some people just like entirely get away from the game as well, even though like, you know, I grow on social media and I'm putting content out there, like if social media is not necessarily conducive to you having a healthy framework around yourself or when around like nutrition or workouts, I would say just like avoid it. You're probably going to get like healthier as a result of like avoiding social media fitness, most likely.
Ted: Such a crucial point there. How do you manage it? You're growing on social media, your business is based on social media. That's mine too. It's where we get our clients from. How do you personally manage it? Because I know you have fallen into the same trap where you're like, okay, I'm going to get on social media, do this thing really quick, and you're like, what was I even here to do? I'm reading a thread about some esoteric book on stoic philosophy, and it's something very esoteric. How do you personally manage working on social media but also keeping a healthy relationship with it?
Dan: To be honest with you Ted, like not well right now, like definitely not well. Like I do have like a great sense of like self-worth. But again, you know, one of the things like I always look at things in terms of like guarding myself. Cause let's be, I mean, like we have a very unique situation where the way in which we earn money is actually by creating content on social media. Being a business owner, the engagement and the, I guess you could say the likes and the engagement that is part of the whole aspect of like tracking your numbers and seeing if it's moving in the right direction.
So, I don't really want to give any advice on how to, I guess you guys say like, how doing this, because like I really, if I'm being completely honest, this is like a work in progress for me.
So, a couple of things that I am doing in order to kind of just like make social media healthier is like from an awareness perspective, it's like, again, knowing that I'm walking into the ultimate social, like the ultimate slot machine, the ultimate casino, like you never know what you're going to get.
Ted: Great analogy.
Dan: And what you are going to get is like dopamine releasing, activities that are just going to make you addicted to like scrolling. So that's like the very first thing.
The second thing is like trying to separate myself. So, this is just more tactical for myself and maybe tactical for you. Like, you know, we schedule our posts. I use like this thing called hypefury. So, for me, in order to engage with the people who are engaging with me, I actually try to keep it on hypefury. And I actually just try to keep the engagement. I can comment back to people from there. Rather than being on Twitter.
The other thing I do is I actually use this thing called Freedom. It's an app on your phone. And basically after like 4 PM all social media, all email, Reddit, YouTube, whatever it is, it's blocked. And the other thing I'm doing is also like putting my phone in a kitchen safe and just like setting the time to go off for like, you know, the next day.
And these are again, these are tactical things.
The most, the thing that is actually going to make the difference in the long term is both tactical, but also recreating my mental relationship with this. Why? Why am I addicted to hearts and likes? And why do I always like check my social media for these types of things? What is it in me? Yes, like it is the game. But what is it in me that seeks these things in the first place? That is where I'm going to get the most change. So, one of the things I'm doing is like, I'm literally like journaling my relationship with social media. And I'm not going to say that I'm like going to get away from it. Like this right now is like the lifeblood of what I'm doing. It is like where I'm making my income and also where I'm making an impact.
And it's just making sure that I have the right perception every single time and not letting likes determine my identity, not letting the things that I post and the reactions that I get determine my level of happiness, not letting the income that I make determine my self-worth. And it's doing these things, but being introspective about these things that are going to allow me to actually just bring a different perception or a different frame every single time that I have to find myself on these platforms.
Ted: And Dan, as an entrepreneur, and being in fitness, obviously you're passionate about taking care of yourself. How do you, and you help - the name of your business, High Performance Founder, Fit Founder on Twitter - how do you manage business growth, family fitness? How do you manage those three important spokes of the wheel of your life?
Dan: Yeah. So, we talked about different summits, right? And one of the things that just happened in my life is just our second daughter was born and she's about seven weeks old now. So, before she was born, life was all hunky dory, you know, I mean, like, I love going to the gym.
So, this is something that I love doing because I see it as like an escape from like what I'm doing. So, my perception towards like my exercise and my workouts is completely different from the person who's like, I got to do this in order to lose weight or I got to do this, you know, because I feel like I got to do this. Like for me, I'm like, I need to do this for my sanity now. This is like my church, you know, or whatever it is.
This is where I, I mean, like I'm spiritual, not necessarily religious, but this is where I go to like necessarily pray to myself and just get away from people, you know?
So, my perception of the gym is like very different in that sense. And I've honed that in by kind of getting to the point where like working out eating a certain way is like personal hygiene, you know, so I use this like example.
So, you have a client and when a client goes on vacation and they're working with you, they're working out eating, right? What, what usually happens when they go on vacation, right?
Ted: It depends on the client, but I know what you're getting at. Typically, the environment changes and therefore the relationship to their routine changes and the habits that they have in that specific context changes. And it's more free going and there's less stress and more excitement. So overeating, drinking more.
Dan: Yeah, but do they stop brushing their teeth?
Ted: Hmm. Interesting. Yeah.
Dan: Right? Yeah, do they stop brushing their teeth? Do they stop taking showers?
Ted: Hopefully not
Dan: Hopefully not, like, unless they get so drunk they're like, "whatever," but hopefully they still do these basic levels of hygiene. And that's where I've gotten fitness to this point, where it doesn't stop
I just find a different way to do it. I just find a different way to get it done because it's like brushing my teeth to me at this very moment, right? But then, you know, a new baby comes along, I'm hitting the gym probably like two times per week, not as much as I used to, not getting as much sleep. My diet is kind of going to, you know, let's just say, shit. I won't say shit, but let's just say it's like below my standard. It's not really something that, you know, it's not really...
I'm finding myself snacking more and having my appetite increase and like all this kind of stuff. So right now, there's a different summit, and I still have to, like, create for social media. I still have to run my business. I still have to talk to clients, and obviously, I have to raise my family.
So, with new summits or new situations, you have to create new solutions, and you have to be willing to adapt to these new solutions and understand that the only constant in life is going to be change.
So the thing that I know about the best humans on the planet, the most successful ones, regardless of whatever situation they're in, they adapt. You know, they may not adapt quickly, but the quicker that they are able to adapt and be able to be strategic about the things that they need to do, the more successful they're going to be.
So now for myself, it's like, okay, so what workouts can I do that can get me inside and outside of the gym in like 30 minutes flat? Right. That's it.
Usually, I spend like 45 minutes to an hour, like how can I get inside or in and out of the gym? 30 minutes flat, boom. Alright, let's do that. The second thing is like, okay, so what is causing me to snack incessantly or mindlessly, so to speak? Well, it could be the fact that we have these foods laying around wherever they are. So why don't we put these in a place where I'm not going to be able to access them, right?
And lastly, it's like, okay, well, if I can't get the quantity of sleep that I need, which is the amount of hours that I need, what can I do about the quality? You know, what can I do to increase the quality of my sleep and do something about that?
Actually, it led me to just a side note, it led me to this incredible discovery of just like increased sodium intake for, uh, for sleep. I mean, like before, I've done such crazy things to my sleep, which is like mouth taping and all this kind of stuff, but really, like one of the bigger pillars was actually increasing my sodium intake. So, I actually don't even go and wake up in the middle of the night and go pee.
Ted: How much sodium do you have for that?
Dan: I think like, well, I do these LMNT packets, there's like these, it's not necessarily the sodium, it's about the electrolytes. So, I believe they have like a thousand milligrams of sodium, they have maybe a thousand milligrams of potassium and some magnesium in there.
And I just like do this like once every single day. And that is enough. And for me, I realized that number one, probably I wasn't getting as much sodium in my diet due to the fact that I was eating fairly clean, right? And fairly, I wouldn't say no carb, but you know, somewhat low carb.
And also most likely I was not getting hydrated enough from the water that I was drinking. So, if I'm not getting enough electrolytes, what's going to happen is that water is going to come in and come out.And doing this one little change was, was like the thing for me.
So anyways, like it is really just like, you know, for me, it's like. The life is ever changing. I have these habits. I have these things that these standards that I'm holding myself to. And if life changes, then I have to adapt to this change of life. I'm not going to try to change the change that's happening, but I'm going to have to adapt very quickly or else. I know that like there's a, there's a little like little inside Dan inside of me, it's just like this former fat kid that just wants to like come out, you know, so I'm always aware of that.
So I always have to strategize and adapt to the situation. So I would say like, that's how it is. It's like number one, I get it to a point of personal hygiene where it's like, I got to do this. Uh, number two, it's like, Hey, guess what? When things change, you know, be willing to adapt.
And don't feel sorry for yourself. Don't be a victim. Be willing to adapt. Don't wish things were a different way. Be willing to adapt.
Ted: Dan, you mentioned the little version of yourself and how you're overweight. And there's a great story that you've shared on both Instagram and Twitter about your journey and something I've had you on the show before. But something I never asked you about is you and I share a commonality that's unusual coincidence, if you will.
You lost your mother at a young age. Your brother was murdered. Everyone who listens to my podcast for a while has heard that story about me. How has that factored into you going into fitness and what you do today?
Dan: Sure and I'm also, I mean, like even right now, like just a couple of days ago, uh, we just found out that, uh, that my uncle committed suicide.
Ted: Sorry to hear that.
Dan: So yeah, it's, uh, I don't know, still going through it right now. I'm still trying to figure this one out. And I don't think it's like anything that you figure out to be honest. It's just something that you end up coming to terms with and you live with.
Now. The thing that those things or those situations have taught me, especially like when the very first one, the very first domino was like losing my mom. And I'm going to say this like probably when you start off with like your first death is losing one of the most important like the most important person in your life. I mean, I'm not going to say it puts all other deaths, you know, to shame, but it was I probably dealt with the hardest thing upfront.
And before she was, you know, before she passed away, I was like really into fitness, but I never really kind of saw it as something that I would do for the rest of my life or, you know, wanted to do. And when she passed away, because she passed away when she was about in her low to mid 50s, it made me realize something. It's just like, if life can get taken away from you, like that's like so fast.
Why am I doing something that I hate? Why am I working a job that I don't even like, that I don't even look forward to? And this is not to say that, you know, fitness doesn't turn into a job, because you and I know Ted, it's like, we're in the fitness field, but sometimes like this feels like a job. It feels like it's just something that you do, you know? And it's okay for that to happen.
But again, like I wanted to derive some sort of, some sort of meaning out of like the things that I was doing. So, what that what that whole situation taught me was like, hey, guess what? Life's not promised to us. So why not do something that you actually believe in? Why not do something and take the, take the leap? And to a lot of the people, it may seem like flippant right now. It's like, oh, you, you became a trainer. It's like, no, but this was like.
Before Instagram was even created. This is actually like before the internet. And back then fitness was seen as a side hustle. It was seen as something that you do on the side is it is not seen as a career whatsoever. And I had this cushy nine to five job that I was working and I hated it.
Ted: What were you doing, Dan?
Dan: I'm not going to say the company, um, but it was working for a bank. And what I was doing was, is I was called basically like we had this, like this call center where we basically cold call people and try to sell them loans at like 25 to 30%. And that's like all you're doing. Cause they, they usually, they had these credit cards with like these high, these high interest credit cards.
And then my division was like, let's call these guys and let's get them on like a $10,000, you know, 30% loan or whatever it is. Every single day that I got back home from there I was like, I don't want, I can't even talk to people about the work that I do. I hate this. This is, I feel disgusting, but it was like the most money that I was making at that time. It was not even the definition of golden handcuffs. It was like a golden prison, you know?
And I thought like, Oh crap. Like. you know, I'm making dollars and I got like freedom and like all this kind of stuff. And, but at the same time, it wasn't freedom and I hated it. And I was just like, I don't want to do this, but how else am I going to make money? So, when my mom passed away, I was just, I just looked at what I was doing. I was like, I was like, F this, I'm so done with this.
I remember walking or being with a friend. And then we were actually on our way to work out together at the gym, and I was like, damn, like, this is after my mom passed away. I was like, I just don't know what I'm going to do. And we're like, OK, well, let's go down to see our friend who was working at the DVD store. This is like way back then when DVDs were around. And then at that store, we see my friend run out, he's like, you know, what's up.
And he was like, yo, I just got this new DVD because we were basketball fans, and I just got this new DVD of, you know, the Chicago Bulls' championship and their dynasty. And, uh, it was like a documentary about it. And I remember I was like, I don't know, for some reason, I feel drawn to buy this right now, you know?
And I remember buying it. I remember going to the gym with my friend, came back home, and I watched it. And then for the subsequent next two weeks, I watched it probably like 10 times over and over and over and over and over. And one of the things that really struck out to me was Michael Jordan's mentality. And I just loved his mentality towards winning, towards visualization, towards doing something that I actually loved.
So, lo and behold, our company is moving, and they're like, okay, we're going to move to this new town. It's about, for me, it was going to be probably an hour-long commute as opposed to a 30-minute commute. And they're like, we're leaving. You guys can come with us and move with us, or you can take this small-ass severance. And then I was like, damn, like, what do I do?
And I was like, okay, you know what? And this was a decision I made. I was like, I'm going to go for this. And then I remember when I made that decision and I decided to leave the corporate world, my family and my friends were just like, what are you doing, man? Like, dude, you are going to fail, and this is going to be one of the worst decisions that you're ever going to make in your entire life. And then I thank them for that.
I thank them for saying that because that actually drove me after watching all these Michael Jordan documentaries, just like, you know how Michael Jordan in the new documentary is like, and then that's when I took it personal, you know, like he said. So when they told me that, I was like, alright, well, thank you for the fire. I appreciate it. And I never said anything to them. Never tried to fight them on it.
And I was like, I'm just gonna pour everything I got into this, into being a trainer and being successful as a trainer. I don't know how I'm gonna do it, but I'm gonna, I'm gonna do it until I die kind of thing, and I gotta figure it out or I'm gonna die trying.
And then, uh, lo and behold, you know, we're on this podcast right now. We're talking to each other. Um, and, uh, you know, obviously I'm skipping a lot of steps and I'm truncating everything, but like, you know, I basically just said F it, and I'm gonna do this and figure it out, and then I did.
Ted: I think it's such a common lesson with tragedy. It gets you to reevaluate what's important here. I have one life. I don't even know if I'm gonna be alive tomorrow. Most likely, I will be, but you're not 100% sure. And if that's the case, and you're doing something that you hate, and you're not at least working towards something different, yeah. I've shared my story, so I don't need to share it again, but I had a similar situation too.
Dan: Yeah. I was gonna say, do you mind if I throw something in there?
Ted: Of course.
Dan: The most important thing that I learned when my mom passed away and with every single death that has ever happened is the idea of emotional transmutation, right? It's like, you feel this super strong emotion, and it feels like it's going to engulf you, and it feels like it's never going to stop.
And I remember when I was in depression after my mom passed away, crying every single day, every single day. And then I remember there's a little voice in my mind that just popped up and was like, well, you know, these emotions, they can either consume you, or you can use them. And mind you, at the time I was this high school dropout doing this job that I hated.
And I never really thought thoughts like that, but then this thought came up. And then I realized that, you know what? Yes, you have to be there and allow these emotions, and allow yourself to feel these emotions, but we can also use these emotions to our advantage. And we can also transmute them into something greater.
And you know, not every single time, but the times that I felt the most tragedy and the times that I felt like things were never going to get better and almost like things were rock bottom, those were actually the biggest pivot points in my entire lifetime. And they basically fueled me to reach new heights.
Ted: How has that affected your approach to coaching your clients? So many of our clients, they're dealing, maybe they're dealing with something like what you went through or what I went through. Maybe it's a divorce, maybe it's a business failure, maybe it's that they sold their business and they feel empty afterward because that identity that they had wrapped up in their business is gone.
And the drinking drinks with little umbrellas in them on the beach, it just led to that point. How has those experiences affected the way you coach your clients with some of the more emotional challenges they face?
Dan: Well, I think you, you know, again, you and I have so much, like, kind of, we run very parallel in the sense that our job is not necessarily, it is about tactics, but it's very much about emotional management. It is very much about emotional management.
And the first thing about this is like, number one, probably like 80% of the answers that you get out of your clients, most likely bullshit, ego, most likely not going to be the truth as to like what they are actually going through, as to like what is actually going on, and they don't even know what is going on. So, the best way to get the best answer is actually to ask the right questions. And there comes a level of like just curiosity with that. And what I mean by that is like, instead of just being like, oh yeah, well, you know, just got stressed out and like, you know, I ate a whole bag of chicharrones and whatever and you know.
You know, laying that fall by the side, it's like, wait, okay. So what are you stressed out about? Okay. Like how did that make you feel cool? And you know, why, you know, why exactly did you feel like you needed to turn to the chicharrones? What were you trying to accomplish? Okay. You're trying to like numb an emotion. You're trying to like not feel that anymore. Right. Or they won't say that you know that, but they won't say that. But what we do is like peel the onion of what they are doing. And the very first, the very first step of change is awareness. And that is only if they are like open to awareness.
So even with myself and like the coaches or the coach that, you know, is, uh, is working with me, our biggest thing is like peeling the onion, is not taking like surface answers and trying to see exactly where the behavior came from in the first place. And we are not trying to like heal whatever is needed to be healed in them.
We're not, but what we are trying to do is we're trying to shine a light on the shadow of like, you know, what is the shadow? What is like your, what is your, here's the thing. It's like, everyone wants to be like positive, you know, like, Oh, everything is all positive and everything is all cool. Well, guess what? Like all of us have shadows.
And the ones who are not able to shine a light on their shadow and be aware of it, those are the ones that actually lean into the shadow behaviors more. So we need to shine a light on the shadow. This is why we do what we do. This is why we try to ignore or try to kind of like avoid these situations with food, with drugs, with alcohol, whatever it is. And all we're trying to do is like have them be aware of the shadow. Right.
I'm not going to say I'm like Carl Jung, and I'm like trying to get them to like, you know, or I'm trying to take them through a psychology session, but this is not even psychology. This is just like, hey, let's be curious about you. And let's have you work through what you are doing with just curious questions. And then it's not for us to say this is what's happening. It's for us to allow them to see exactly what is happening and have and be a guide that allows them to like work through it.
Ted: Powerfully stated there. And I think someone listening right now who maybe hasn't had that level of coaching might not appreciate what you just said. But as someone who's done this for a very long time, like you have, if you're listening right now, what Dan just said is what you're missing. It's why the diets and the exercise don't stick.
And until you, again, like you said, Dan, it's not like lay down on the couch. Now tell me about your childhood. It doesn't need to be that deep, but it's about gaining that awareness about the behaviors, what's happening. That's triggering them and then helping you to see that. And we all have, I know you have many coaches you've worked with. We work with some of the same coaches for us to grow our business. And we all have blind spots. And I just don't think there's, I think coaching it's the secret to fast.
I don't want to say effortless success, but it's less painful success, a less painful path, and it's because you don't get trapped in those shadow behaviors and indulging those behaviors. And just like you, there's a great Carl Jung quote, I'm probably not going to get it right, but it's until you make the unconscious conscious, you're going to keep doing it, and you're going to call it destiny.
It's going to rule your life, and you're going to call it, well, this is just who I am when in reality you weren't a person who scrolled Twitter until Twitter was invented or drove a car until you learned how to drive a car. But now you're a person who just drives a car to work every day. And yeah, you tell me you got something to say there.
Dan: I was gonna say like, anytime that someone says, "That's just the way I am," right? Number one, they don't realize what a disservice they're doing to themselves. Because the word “I am” is a word of identification, is the phrase of identification. So, and then what you are also saying is that you are incapable of change. So I was listening to this podcast. This has nothing to do with fitness, but... there was this red pill dude. And he was talking to this other podcaster. And it was kind of like a little bit of a debate. And then basically she says, it's like he has this idea of like, "I'm just gonna have a hundred children, and I'm gonna have like, you know, multiple wives and do all this kind of stuff." And then she's just like, "Well, like, you know, why can't you, you know one like how is that going to affect like your daughters and your kids? It's like they gotta deal with it." That's what he said.
And then she was like, "Well, can't you see yourself like, you know, just giving yourself to one person, to one woman, you know, for the rest of your life?" And he's like, "I tried that in my 20s. That's just the way I am. You know, I'm not going to try to change myself."
And, and, and then honestly, it's like, that is more so not necessarily something that's baked inside of you. That's something that you're choosing in terms of like not changing. So, the whole idea of like, "That's just the way I am," it's, it's kind of like, no, that is probably the excuse that you're making. That phrase is the excuse that you're making for not being willing to adapt or, or try to even change in the first place.
Now I'm not saying this whole thing to say like, "Oh, you should be married to one person and whatever. Everyone's got different preferences. I don't want to like, you know, get into that conversation," but that specific phrase and when people say things like, "That's impossible," like, dude, like, come on. I just like changed the way you guys are talking to yourselves. That's the first, actually, that's one of the biggest steps is like change the words that you use to communicate to yourself. There was like one guy on my Twitter just recently. I asked him like, "What's something that you removed from your life that has made the biggest impact on it?"
And then one guy said, "Got rid of refined sugar." Another guy commented under him is like, "That's impossible. I did that for like four months and then, you know, whatever, whatever. I'm just like not going to comment and be like, 'Don't ever say that to yourself. Come on now.' You know, like we're better here." But, but anyways, like these types of words that we use and these types of phrases that we use, these are literally like hypnotizing ourselves into thinking like, you know, these are truths when they're not.
Humans are entirely capable of change. They're entirely capable of changing their beliefs and changing who they are. So we have to be very careful with saying these types of things to ourselves.
Ted: Critical point, especially like if you've gone through some of the tragedies, you change, and we all will lose our parents if we live long enough. That's the natural path of life for all of us, and you will change.
And it's such an important point, a great reminder. I love how you explained it. It's one thing to say, "Hey, I'm going to jump out of this building right now with no parachute because my mind is mind over matter." No, but it's about what you can choose to do or not do, like giving up sugar. And I love what you said. It's not about that red pill guy, and you're judging him on his choice.
What you're pointing out is his rationale for it, which is, "I can't change," just like the guy who can't cut out sugar for more than four months. It's not about sugar. It's about his inability to change. And I will never cut out sugar 100 percent, but it's not because I can't do it. It's because I do it intentionally and in a controlled way. So great point.
If you're listening right now, what are you saying about yourself, your ability to change, your ability to get in shape? I mean, it brings up a whole other conversation because a lot of people, I don't know about your clients, but a lot of people don't believe they can see their abs, for example, and you and I both know if you get into a calorie deficit and stay there long enough, every single person, period, providing you're lifting some weights, it makes the whole thing easier, although you don't necessarily have to, but everyone can do that because it's possible. It may feel impossible if you don't have the right strategies, just like growing to half a million people on Twitter like you have might feel impossible to yourself just a few years ago, and you only had a couple thousand. But it's a possibility. It doesn't, someone said it, if it doesn't defy the laws of physics, then it's possible, right?
Such a great reminder, Dan. And speaking of that, I feel like we were just getting rolling here, but I know both of us have busy schedules and priorities. I use Hypefury too, gotta get back to the grind, but I really enjoyed this conversation, Dan because you're bringing a perspective from someone who's worked with people for a very long time. And you've probably struggled like I have when you give your clients good advice and they weren't able to stick with it. You're like, why is this happening? Why do these people do this?
And it's because of everything that you mentioned today. So thanks for being that person who isn't putting up viral clips of eating testicle pops on a full day of carnivore eating because you would probably get even more followers potentially if you did something like that.
Dan: Yeah. I mean, I've been in the game long enough where I know that if I do certain things and if I did certain things, I could blow it up and I can get to Liver King status. Yeah, but there is this thing called integrity. There is this thing, actually, I would say it's a combination of integrity and authenticity. I want to keep my integrity and I want to look at myself in the mirror and be able to like myself. And also, after you've worked with so many clients of different backgrounds and lifestyles, man, if you did that, it would be doing such a disservice to these guys and girls, you know, or whatever they identify with. We would be doing such a disservice to them by trying to go to the extreme side. So, I don't know if it slows down the growth, then so be it. I feel like I have enough. It doesn't mean that I'm going to stop growing, but it's just like, speed is not as important as quality.
Ted: And as you said earlier, enjoying the process, which is hard to do if you're lying to people, à la Liver King style. You gotta live with yourself 100%. Yeah.
Dan: You gotta live with yourself. Yeah. There is, okay, so we can talk about this all day, but it's like, you can see the people that do stuff on social media and you can tell that it's not all there, you know? So yeah, social media is like this extension of who you are. It's not who you are, but it's an extension of who you are and an extension of your thoughts, your innermost thoughts, and your innermost beliefs.
It is on us, especially for us who are creating on that platform or these platforms, to be responsible with that and to make sure that we're doing right by the person who's listening to us.
Ted: Powerfully stated, Dan. Thanks so much for coming on the show today. Really appreciate you, Dan. And thanks for taking the time to do this because this is the conversation, at least for me, it's harder to have on Twitter in this type of way to get this deep. So, thank you so much.
Dan: Yeah. Yeah, I thank you very much for having me on and also having this conversation. Yeah, it's definitely not about the X's and O's. I'm glad that we can kind of just pitch back and forth on the thing that actually matters most, which is this mental side and this inner game side of fitness and health.
Ted: 100%. And listen, if you aren't following Dan and you're on social media, which Dan gave you advice about earlier, whether you should be or not. But if you are on social media and you're not following him, you've got to. You can find him @fitfounder on Twitter, and you can also go to his website, www.highperformancefounder.com, and make sure you check out Dan's information. He's one of the best, he's one of the most prolific content creators who's putting stuff out there that will actually help you. Any other place that you'd like anyone to go who resonates with your message today?
Dan: Uh, yeah, uh, I send out a newsletter. Right now, I'm aiming to make this the most impactful health and fitness newsletter on the planet. So that's at www.danfounder.com. That's my personal website, and just click on the newsletter. And, um, or click on the newsletter link, and yeah, we have like 105,000 people right now. So, we'd love for you to join. We're building a really cool community right now. So, yeah, join the newsletter and we'd love to see you there.
Ted: Danfounder.com. If you missed any of these links and you don't want to pause and rewind, we'll have them on the show notes for this episode. So be on the lookout for that. And Dan, like I said, thanks again. Thanks so much for your time today.
Dan: Yeah, I appreciate it. Thanks for having me back on, man.
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