Fit2Fat2Fit With Drew Manning | Wellness Mama Podcast

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Katie: Hello. Welcome to “The Wellness Mama Podcast.” I’m Katie from wellnessmama.com and now wellnesse.com, that’s wellness with an E on the end. Check it out, it’s my line of completely natural personal care products including hair care, toothpaste and now hand sanitizer.

This episode is so much fun and I’m talking to someone who has gained and lost 70 pounds and who is about to do it again. Drew Manning is the “New York Times” bestselling author of the book “Fit 2 Fat 2 Fit.” And he’s best known for his experiment that went viral online where he gained and then lost a lot of weight so that he could understand what his personal training clients and clients that he worked with were going through when they had to lose weight. Because of this, he’s been featured on everything from “Good Morning America” to “Dr. Oz.” And his experiment has become a hit TV show called “Fit to Fat to Fit,” airing on A&E and Lifetime. We in this discuss that journey and what sparked it, well, why on earth he would do it again, what the health and fitness space is lacking, you might be surprised at his answer and why on earth he would run 100 miles in 24 hours. Drew is a fascinating guy, I think you will really enjoy this episode and pull some valuable nuggets from it. So without further ado, let’s join Drew. Drew, welcome. Thanks for being here.

Drew: Katie, thank you so much for having me on. It’s a pleasure.

Katie: I’m so excited to chat with you. I’ve been aware of who you are and followed you for a long time, but I can’t wait to share you with the audience today, specifically, you’re most well-known for your rather amazing fitness journey that you took on purpose, which I think is what makes it so unusual. So, can you, for people who aren’t familiar, explain to us the journey and the story behind Fit to Fat to Fit?

Drew: Yeah, I’d love to. So, this all started back in 2011. I had this crazy idea. But even before that, you know, you have to understand a little bit about my background to understand why I decided to do this. So, I grew up in a family of 11 brothers and sisters, and we all played sports. So, I played football and wrestling from a very young age. And so, I’ve always been in shape. I’ve always been fit my entire life. And then in 2009, became certified as a trainer. And here I was, someone who had never been overweight a day in their life, trying to help people who had been overweight pretty much their whole life. And there was an obvious disconnect and I couldn’t understand why it was so hard for my clients just to do what I told them to do. I’m like, “Here’s your meal plans, here’s your workouts. You just do it, and it’s not that hard.”

And so, it would, you know, they would have hiccups along the road where they would give in to some food temptations and eat some foods. And I’d be like, ”Why don’t you just put down the junk food? It’s not that difficult. And just go to the gym like I tell you to.” And I had some clients tell me, ”You know, you don’t understand how hard it is for me or for people like us that struggle. And for you, it’s been easy your entire life.” And one of my clients was my brother-in-law at the time. And so, I took that to heart. I’m like, ”You know what? You’re right. I don’t understand why it’s so hard, for me, it seems so simple, right? Like you just eat less and you work out and you go to the gym and boom, the results come.”

And when he said that to me, I was like, “You know what? Maybe there’s something I need to do. Maybe there’s something I need to learn as a trainer.” And so, that’s where I started thinking of ideas and this idea of gaining weight on purpose. As crazy as that sounds, it was like a light bulb went off in my head and I’m like, it felt almost like a calling for me at the time. Like, maybe this is something I need to do to learn for myself to kind of understand what it’s like to be overweight. And so, I started this journey, Fit to Fat to Fit, six months I couldn’t exercise. So, that was the rules. I ate a standard American diet. I put on 75 pounds of pure fat during that time. And it was the most humbling thing I’ve ever done, and one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I learned so many valuable lessons from it. And it totally shifted my perspective of the way I view transformation and weight loss now. It’s totally different than how I viewed it back then. I just realized how wrong it was. And so, that’s kind of the story in a nutshell, and that’s kind of the idea behind why I decided to do Fit to Fat to Fit.

Katie: That’s so incredible. It’s fascinating to me. So, you said to gain the weight, you didn’t exercise at all and you ate a standard American diet. Were there any guidelines beyond that, like, did you have to actually make yourself eat certain foods or hit a certain number of calories, or did you just only choose from certain foods?

Drew: That’s a really good question. So, I didn’t have like a daily caloric intake goal of what I needed to hit. For me, my rules were, I didn’t really go the Morgan Spurlock route in Super Size Me where he ate McDonald’s for 30 days straight at three times a day, I felt like most Americans know fast food is unhealthy for us. What I wanted to focus on was everyday foods that we grew up with in the ’70s and ’80s that we think are kind of not that unhealthy for us, that maybe some of them are marketed to us as health foods. So, highly processed foods that were super cheap and affordable, really convenient, right? No preparation time. And they taste amazing. Like, I’m not gonna lie, cinnamon toast crunch was my jam. I love that, having it every single day and like these hyper-palatable foods became so good, it became so easy to over-consume these foods.

So, if I had a guess, I was probably eating 4,000 to 5,000 calories a day of these highly processed foods. Like I said, they were super cheap. They were super convenient. And you know, they’re way more affordable than real whole foods are. Unfortunately, that’s the way we have it in our country. And it created this vicious cycle with this dependency on these foods. And so, that’s how I put on the 75 pounds in 6 months.

Katie: A couple of things that seem striking about that one being a couple of those foods you mentioned are ones that are marketed largely to kids. So, that’s kind of sad, that we’re giving kids these foods, you know, from the very beginning, but that makes sense. I’ve often thought, you know, it’s really hard to overeat on vegetables. You’d have to actually really, really make an effort. But I also think that’s really interesting because you can learn so much from the inverse of that. So, those are the things that it took for you to gain weight. Of course, they would probably not be the things people should do when they’re trying to lose weight. How did you turn that on its head? First of all, how did you decide when you had gained enough weight and then when you were gonna start losing again and what did you change at that point?

Drew: Oh, good question. So, I decided from the beginning, it would be six months, no matter how much weight I gained. I was expecting to gain 50 or 60 pounds, but definitely overshot that and ended up getting 75 in 6 months. And the interesting thing was I wasn’t stuffing my face. I didn’t feel like I was stuffing my face every single meal. Like, every meal wasn’t a food challenge for me. I ate till I was full. And then I waited till I was starving again. And the interesting thing with these foods was every couple hours, I’d be absolutely starving and famished to the point where, you know, I needed something right away. And so, that’s what this food would do to me is created this vicious cycle of dependency, almost addiction. I always say this is almost a real food addition, for me at least, to where I had to have it. Otherwise, I felt so miserable.

And so, that was an eyeopener for me. And then as the journey went on, obviously, gaining the weight, there was also a mental and emotional piece to this whole thing. I definitely wanna throw that in there because people think, okay, you just eat more calories, you don’t exercise, you gain fat on your body. Yes, we understand that, but it affects you so much more on the mental, emotional side than I imagined. And that’s where I was truly humbled and realized how wrong I was. And so, what that looked like for me was, you know, my identity for so long was my body looking a certain way. So, I was Drew the fit guy in my mind, right? My entire life that’s who I became because I’ve always been in shape. I’ve always had, you know, a six-pack for the most part and looked lean.

And then when I was overweight, going out in public, it was so much harder than I thought it would be because I wanted to go up to strangers and explain to them why I wasn’t really overweight. And like I had to explain it, like, I wanted to explain to them, “Hey, this is just an experiment. Here’s my website. You go to…you know, here’s my before picture. This is what I normally look like,” because I was so uncomfortable because, at that time, I was so attached to my body image as my self-image. And that’s where I learned eventually to let that go. But that was so hard for me. Like, my self-esteem took a hit and my confidence took a hit for sure. And it’s something that I felt like I needed to go through to kind of see it through a different lens.

But anyways, fast forward to, you know, losing the weight six months after that, it was, I had to do cold turkey because I had six months to lose it. And so, I knew it was gonna be really hard, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be going from six months of eating that food every single day to the next day, eating vegetables and lean meats and, you know, healthy food that, you know, we’re super generally supposed to eat. It sucked so bad. Like, the food did not taste good that as good as I remember it. I had headaches. I was grumpy. I was moody. I was starving. Even though I was eating 2,000 calories a day, my body almost fought back against me to the point where it finally clicked for me. I’m like, “This is what my clients have been telling me about.”

And for me, I would just tell them, ”Look, you need to have more willpower. You need to have more discipline. It’s not that hard. Put the junk food down, put the soda down.” And for me, a personal trainer experiencing these withdrawal symptoms, as powerful as they were, I had no idea how powerful that emotional connection to food really was until I went through this experience and my eyes were truly opened. And like I said, that’s where I started to develop empathy for those that struggle with this because of what I was experiencing, and I was only eating this way for six months. And so anyways, that was a very eye-opening experience. And then like you mentioned, the journey back to fit was mostly whole foods, more of like a paleo-ish approach, five small meals throughout the day. That’s what I did back in 2011, 2012. And that method definitely works. I do something different nowadays, for sure. But that’s kind of the method I used to eventually lose the weight.

Katie: I love that you mentioned that you were able to see that through your clients’ eyes and also that idea of being perceived differently. I’m curious if anything, in that particular, like, did you feel that in those instances, like, how you were being perceived by others? Because I’ve been at a variety of different sizes over the last 14 years as I had 6 kids and thyroid disease and over the last 2 years have lost 80 pounds. And that was one of the things that really struck me was how differently I felt like I was being perceived by people. And it just, it’s hard to even put into words how different those interactions feel.

Drew: Yes, for sure. And I definitely had those moments. I remember very clearly one time I was at the grocery store, my shopping cart was obviously full of junk food and I was checking out and there was these three women behind me and I was obviously larger at this time and I could feel the stares, a little bit of them looking at my belly, them looking at this shopping cart full of junk food. And I wanted to say to them so badly like, ”Hey ladies, I normally don’t eat this food. This is just an experiment I’m doing like normally I’m healthy.” But in that moment, I actually stopped and just let all those feelings of feeling judged sink in. I didn’t say anything to them and I just let them, you know, whether they were judging me or not, I don’t know. They didn’t say anything mean or rude to me. I just felt the stares.

And for me, that’s where it clicked. This is something that my clients are people who are overweight have to go through on a daily basis where they’re looked at differently or they’re judged. And you feel those judgments or those stares. And I’ve never felt that before because I’ve always been in shape. But here’s the thing I will say, Katie, and this, you could probably relate to this is I think men who are bigger are judged differently than women who are bigger in society. I think women have it way harder than men do. Women are more critical towards other women. And I think men can kind of get away with being husky or larger.

So, no one was ever really rude or mean to me for sure. But I did have my moments of feeling judged and that was one of those moments where I finally let it sink in instead of trying to explain to people what was happening. And that’s kind of where, for me, I realized weight loss transformation is so much more mental, emotional than people think. It’s not as simple as just eating less and working out. And that’s why I have no regrets going through what I went through because it made me a better human, made me a better, you know, person in general where I’m not that judgmental trainer anymore, looking at other people thinking, “Why don’t people just have willpower? Why don’t they just have discipline?” But that was the way I used to think. So, that’s why I say, you know, I have no regrets doing what I did.

Katie: Did you run into any unexpected stumbling blocks when you started trying to lose the weight?

Drew: Yes. And this was, first of all, the first transition of how hard it was gonna be and how bad my body, like, I thought my body would be my ally. In a sense, my body was fighting back against me saying, ”No, we want the high from these foods that you fed us for six months.” Like, my body like wanted that. And that was so interesting to me of how powerful that was. And then as I started losing the weight, here I was a personal trainer with the knowledge, the discipline, and each week I had to do a weekly check-in and weigh in. And there was weeks where I gained weight and I didn’t have any explanation for it. And there was weeks where, you know, I didn’t make any progress. And I did everything on my meal plan, I did all my workouts, of course, and I didn’t really have an explanation for other than just, you know, hey, sometimes it’s not linear like we think it is.

And I thought that was really powerful for me too, because, you know, I would have clients before say, ”Drew, I’m doing the meal plans, I’m doing the workouts. And I just, I’m not seeing the progress on the scale.” And the old me was like, ”Well, you’re probably sneaking something in here or there,” you know, doubting if they were really doing it. And here I was doing it and still struggling. And so, that was really eye-opening and powerful for me too is the weight loss is not linear. You know, you could do all the calorie counting and macro counting you want, when it comes to the scale, it doesn’t always end up the way we want it to. Especially if you weigh yourself one point in the day versus two hours later, you’re gonna be different weight. It’s always fluctuating.

And so, for me, I’m not a huge fan of the scale in general. I hate the scale, but, you know, I know our society still uses it as a form of measurement, but I think there’s way better measurements out there. But yeah, I did hit stumbling blocks and had plateaus during this journey that had a fight through. And that’s why, for me, weight loss transformation is so much more mental, emotional than people think. I wish it were as simple as just eating less and working out and then boom, magically, you’re skinny. It’s a lot more complex than that.

Katie: Absolutely. And I know from like a woman’s perspective, that’s something I remind women now, especially if you’re obsessively watching your weight, normally, if all of your hormones are even where they’re exactly supposed to be, over the course of a month, you could vary by as much as 10 pounds based on water and what you’ve eaten and hormones and all kinds of factors, and that’s not bad. That’s actually normal. And I had to learn that lesson with the scale as well, and to learn to focus on other things as well, like strength and like how much weight I could lift off the ground, not just how much weight was on the scale and things like that as other positive metrics to track while I was in the middle of that. I’m curious how those lessons translated into your training once you got back to training after the six months, did you see a difference in the way you were interacting with people or did you have more strategies to give them of why it’s not just as easy as willpower or breaking through those things?

Drew: Yes, so much, so much. It definitely changed how I approached people. So, there was a quote that I love. It says, ”No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” And for me, that’s what Fit to Fat to Fit is all about after going through this whole experiences. Yes, you could have all the knowledge in the world, you can have all the certifications in the world, understand the science of what happens in the body. But for people, most people, they don’t really care what you know, or the knowledge that you have, the credentials you have until they feel like you can relate to them and come down to their level and understand where they’re coming from. And that’s where empathy, I feel, isn’t talked about enough in the fitness industry and that’s for me, something that I try and focus on, first is come from a place of empathy and understanding instead of listening to someone like a client to respond to critique or correct or judge. It’s truly listening to understand.

And I feel like if you truly listen to understand, you can definitely relate to their struggles so much better. And then I feel like they’re more willing to listen to you once they feel like you do care about them and that you do understand where they’re coming from, at least, instead of just judging them. And so, for me, it has to do with more help on the mental, emotional side. So tips, tricks, hacks to help them feel more fulfilled with who they are now, while they’re working on a better version of themselves.

So, yes, there’s a physical aspect to weight loss and there always will be. It does come down to, you know, eating less calories, of course, and moving your body more. But I feel like on the mental emotional side, that’s where people struggle to live that consistently. And their perception of health and fitness is so skewed that they think that they’re only successful if they get the results. So, I’m only successful, I’m only gonna do this process of eating healthy and exercising if I get the results and that’s where we have it backwards.

So, if I could help them with simple tips, tricks, and hacks to shift their perception, that helps them fall in love with the process despite the results, the results end up taking care of themselves over time as you live the lifestyle consistently and as you come from a place of self-love versus self-hate because if you love yourself, you’re gonna wanna treat yourself right. You’re gonna wanna feed yourself healthy food. You’re gonna move your body every day because it feels good to you. Not because there’s a reward at the end of it and a promise of possibly being skinny or having a six-pack one day, that’s where we have it backwards in the fitness industry.

People are willing to put up with a process for a period of time as long as those results come in within that time, if they don’t come within that time, we think, well, what’s the point? You know, and there’s no results here, so why even try. You know, I could get the same results from eating unhealthy food and living an unhealthy lifestyle, and that’s where we have it backwards. So, if I could help people shift their perception of that through these mental and emotional tips, tricks, and hacks, and what I mean by that specifically, and what I’ve seen work for me and so many other people is things like meditation or some practice of mindfulness, of being present in the moment. So, that you’re more aware of what you’re putting in your body and why you’re putting it in your body and then also positive affirmations.

I’ve seen it work really well for people where they start to believe in themselves. They start to have that self-confidence that they know they never really had before and then the gratitude journal. And then what the gratitude journal does is it helps them to wire the brain to look for things that they’re grateful for in this present moment where things aren’t perfect, their body isn’t where they wanted to be, but they’re still grateful for things every single day. And they’ve trained their brain to look for those things, to be grateful for them. And then they’re more fulfilled during that journey instead of saying, well, one day when I get this body, one day when the weight loss comes, one day when I have this much money, and then I’ll be happy, then I’ll love myself, but that’s not how it works. You waste so much of your life at war with yourself, hating yourself, beating yourself up more and you realize your whole life you’ve lived that way. What if you tried something different and tried self-love first and foremost and learn to be fulfilled during that process, even though things aren’t perfect right now. And that’s kind of what I try and do now is help people shift their perception of what success looks like in health and fitness.

Katie: I love everything about what you just said. And I go that from my own experience. I had that same script and filter for so long that if only I was a certain size or looked a certain way, then I would be happy. And it wasn’t until I realized I could actually just choose to be happy and accept myself now that all of those things started changing. And I think because it shifted my whole perception, it wasn’t…I’m fairly believing you can’t hate yourself healthy. And I was trying to deprive myself and force my body to do what I wanted it to do.

And when I shifted from that mindset of deprivation and punishment to nourishing and loving and all of that, it completely changed my relationship, not just with food, but with myself and other relationships in my life. And the weight loss was a result of that. It wasn’t the goal anymore. And you’re right. I think I love that there are people like you who are addressing those levels for people because, certainly, my experience was that that was absolutely the key. It wasn’t just a part of it. It was the key to actually any of those shifts happening for me, at least.

Drew: Yeah. And that’s beautiful. And I’m so glad that you are a voice for that and helping so many other men and women of your followers, help them to shift that perception. I think that’s really what it takes. It’s a huge shift in perception because we’ve been so ingrained in the health and fitness industry of like, okay, to be successful, here’s a diet you do, and here’s an exercise program you do. And if you stay consistent with this, then you’ll get this body. And then with that body, you will become all come happiness. And people will say how much they love you and then you’ll start to love yourself. And that’s just a false promise and same thing with money. Like, oh, once you have this much money, all your problems go away. And we know that’s a myth because we know people who are super-wealthy that are miserable. We know people that have six-pack abs that still hate themselves and still think they’re not good enough.

And so, that’s kind of what the goal is. And that’s…it’s kind of going against the culture of the diet industry though because that’s what people will think they want. But that’s why there’s such a mental, emotional component to this transformation that is way overlooked because we want to simplify it and quantify it and make it all about, you know, getting and reducing calories to get this type of a body to then fit into society. Well, it really comes down to asking yourself, why? Why do we want that? Why do we want to, you know, lose the weight? Why do we want to have a certain type of body? And you need to ask yourself that question, why? Why do you really want that?

And I think the older you get, the wiser you get, the more you realize it’s about health and feeling good. And yes, you would like to have those results of having a good body. But if you had to choose between having a good body but feeling miserable or not having the best body but feeling super healthy, I think as you get older, you have kids, you have grandkids, it is way more about health.

Katie: Absolutely. I think those have been the lessons for me in this journey is, first of all, how important that mental and emotional component is and secondly, how personalized health and diet are for every single person. And I think, like, so many people figure out the thing that works for them, and they’re so excited. They wanna tell everyone, but they figured out the thing that works for them. I think there is a level of experimentation and learning to actually work with your own body and figure out those things. I do think there’s also probably some universal things that are helpful across the board. And I’m curious if you have any things that you would put in that category of obviously with personalization and the mental emotional taken into account, but when it comes to just the diet and fitness side, things that you find especially helpful?

Drew: Yeah. So, first of all, I’m a huge fan of everyone having a tool belt, and in that tool belt, a lot of tools, and those tools can be things like paleo, keto, vegan, vegetarian, like different ways of eating. And I’m like you, I don’t feel it’s good to turn one of these ways of eating into a religion, which is, you know, people come dogmatic because they do get good results. They wanna tell their friends about it and preach about it. And then they look at other foods or other ways of eating as bad or sinful in a way. And that’s where it can become very unhealthy.

So, for me, you know, what I’ve seen work for a lot of people is, you know, obviously, a whole foods approach, whether you’re doing paleo, keto, vegan, whatever. If you are mostly eating whole foods, I think everyone in the diet industry can agree that’s probably genuinely healthy. And whether you restrict carbs or fats or certain food groups, yes that can work, but it doesn’t work for everyone, right? And for some, it can be damaging and harmful. It just depends on the person. You know, it’s very individual. I’m a huge fan of the ketogenic diet, not for weight loss or fat loss. You know, there’s every diet works, if you restrict your calories, you know, for the most part, when it comes to weight loss or fat loss, but there’s so much more to health than that. And so for me, that’s why I like the ketogenic diet is because my mental clarity for my brain is like night and day.

You know, when I eat mostly carbohydrates, I just tend not to feel as sharp. You know, my brain isn’t as sharp. My cognitive function isn’t as good. My mental clarity isn’t as good. But when I’m in a strict state of ketosis, I love the feeling of not having to eat five, six, seven times a day. And I love the way my brain feels on keto. And my digestion is so much better because I’m not a slave to food of having to prep five or six meals throughout the day, which is what I used to do. And yes, that’s still got me to look a certain way, but it isn’t like all the prep work that went into, it didn’t fit my lifestyle. And now, you know, I’m a dad, I have 2 daughters that are 9 and 11 and I don’t have time to meal prep and bring my food with me all the time. And so, for me, it’s easier from a lifestyle perspective to fast, to do some type of intermittent fasting where I’m eating a once or twice a day.

And I feel really good eating a lot of vegetables instead of a ton of fruit but doesn’t mean I’m strict keto all the time. I love to cycle in and out of ketosis, which is, you know, I think if you look at it from an evolutionary perspective, humans were designed to run off with two different types of fuels, both glucose, and ketones. And there were periods of feast and famine where there was an abundance of food. And then there was a scarcity of food and you had to be able to survive. And that’s the way our bodies were designed by having a backup system like ketosis to be able to burn our fat as energy in the form of ketones.

And so, I love keto as a tool in our tool belt that can be used from time to time. Yes, for weight loss and fat loss, but also reducing inflammation, not being a slave to food anymore. And I feel like, you know, our society is so ingrained in this, you know, eat from the minute you wake up and eat to the minute you go to bed and all day long, snacking five, six, seven meals a day. Whereas I think, you know, from a health perspective, it is generally healthy accepted in the health and wellness culture to fast every once in a while. And that’s why it’s practiced by every major religion, not so much to lose weight, but just for overall health, cell regeneration, anti-aging, there’s a lot of health benefits to it.

And so, I use a mix of intermittent fasting, cyclical keto but mostly based off of whole foods. But, you know, from time to time, I have two young daughters. We like to eat pancakes, you know, or I’m gonna eat birthday cake on their birthday and not feel guilty about it. So, that’s kind of my approach of what I think works for me. But I’m a huge fan of people that can do a whole foods vegan approach and be super healthy, same thing with paleo. I think in general, as long as you’re eating whole foods, for the most part, you’ll probably be okay from a health perspective.

Katie: Yeah. I’ve landed very much in a similar place that sounds like you have. And my approach is that I don’t do anything every day. I don’t want the body to ever be able to adapt to anything and get used to it. So, I don’t eat the same way every single day. I don’t work out the same way every single day. I don’t even take vitamins every single day. I wanna keep mixing it up just to keep the body adapting. And you’re right, we’re meant to run off these different fuel sources. And so, letting the body have the opportunity to do that at different times makes so much sense. And I also, if my research is correct, you are about to take on a big experiment, can you fill us in on that?

Drew: Yes. Thank you so much for letting me talk about this. So, this is… Oh, man. So, this is probably like the second or third podcast that I have talked about this on. So, I did Fit to Fat to Fit back in 2011 and I was 31 years old. My metabolism was different. My hormones were different for sure. I turned 40 this year on December 27th. And over the past year or so, I’ve been planning to revisit this journey, but as a 40-year-old. I know it sounds crazy. Why would I do this again? I’ll explain why I’ve decided to embark on this journey again, called it Fit to Fat to 40 this time around. For me, it’s about a couple of things. One, my message has become so clear over the years since I did Fit to Fat to Fit back in the day in 2011. And my message is one of empathy.

And I want to shine the light on people who struggle with transformation, people who struggle with weight loss, who feel they’re judged by others as lazy or less than because of the way they look, because of their body shape. And my message is to spread empathy, to let people know that empathy is something that’s missing in the fitness industry. And I wanna be a voice for that. And so, Fit to Fat to 40 is the vehicle to catch people’s attention because, of course, it’s crazy, of course, it’s risky. And, of course, there’s gonna be an entertainment factor to it. But for me, like I said, this message is very clear of what I feel like I wanna spread this time around. I feel like I have so much more to say this time around. And I think empathy is something that could be a driving force, especially in the fitness industry for change to shift our perception.

But this world in general, look at 2020 what it has done to us as a society, it’s caused so much division. I feel like empathy is something that we lack in this world, which causes hate, which causes judgment, which causes more fear and worrying. And I feel like if we could learn to develop empathy for others, we could make some big changes in this world. So, that’s the first reason I’m doing this again, is to push for the message of empathy and the importance of empathy, especially in the fitness industry.

The second reason is because I’m turning 40. Obviously, my metabolism is different. My hormones are a little bit different. And I want to give people in that age group a hope for change that we don’t have to blame our age for our health. And I feel like we can take hold of our health together as a team because what will happen as starting August 27th of 2020 through December 27th, which is my birthday where I turned 40. And, you know, I’ll be gaining the weight. That’d be the weight gaining phase that people can follow along and be very engaging and educational.

There’s a lot of opportunities to show people from a medical perspective, from a health perspective, what’s happening on the inside of my body as I am living this lifestyle. That will be broadcasted across all the platforms. And then come January of 2021, I think so many people just wanna be done with 2020, as far as their physical health, their mental health. I feel like it will be that perfect time where everyone can come together as a team, as a community. And I can say, ”Hey, let’s do this together. Let’s not only lose this weight together. Let’s shift our perception of what success in the weight loss industry looks like.”

And I feel, like I said, my message, everything we’ve talked about on this podcast, Katie, is exactly what I wanna get across to people so that they understand that it’s not just about getting your body to look a certain way. It’s not just about losing weight and losing fat. I want people to realize that they are more than their body. They have more to offer this world and their physical body. And it’s time that we, as a society, stop placing so much value in judgment on others who might not look the same because I feel like healthy can look different on everybody. It doesn’t have to be 5% body fat and what you see on Instagram. And I feel like it’s time that we make some changes in this industry. And for me, Fit to Fat to 40, me doing it a second time is that vehicle or can be that vehicle.

Katie: I will make sure I have links in the show notes so everyone can follow along with this journey. And I love so much about what you just said about empathy. I think that’s a great metaphor for life and a reminder to all of us, anytime there’s something that comes easily to us, that is a perfect opportunity for empathy and love and to help others in that area. But it does, it starts with the empathy. And I love that you’re bringing that into the fitness world because as someone who has also been on both sides of this, I have felt that pressure, especially in gym environments of like, why can’t you just…this is so easy. And from the side of how hard it was, I’m looking at them going, “Look, dude, you’re done. You have abs, why are you even here?” Because it comes easy.

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Another journey that I think you have done recently that I would love to hear about involved running a hundred miles from what I understand. And I would love to hear you explain the reason why you undertook that.

Drew: Yes. And thank you for letting me talk about this. So, here’s the thing. I’ve never been a runner. I’ve never run a marathon or half marathon my entire life. I’ve always hated running because I grew up playing sports. Running was kind of the punishment of the sport. Like, you had to run if you miss a tackle, you had run if you messed up. And so, I’ve never enjoyed running. And then fast forward to about last year around this time or around May of last year, my brother invited me to run 100 miles with him because he had just listened to the book, ”Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins. And if you haven’t heard that book or listened to it on Audible, I highly, highly recommend it.

David Goggins’ story is so powerful. He’s very well-known in this space as, you know, one of the toughest guys on in the world for his mental toughness and his discipline that he has. And so, after reading that book, I was motivated to do something, but I had never thought in a million years, 100 miles would be that thing I would attempt to do. So, we actually attempted to do it last year, but I only trained for six weeks for it. I didn’t really know. I didn’t really, I wasn’t really prepared. And I went out there and try to run 100 miles in 24 hours and failed, but I got 80 miles done in 24 hours. And what that said to me was, one, I never imagined I could do 80 miles. And two, I thought, what if I actually trained for this? Is this something that I could possibly pull off? Because people, you know, not everyone does marathons, but marathon is a very common thing, 26.2 miles, which is difficult still in itself, 100 miles is like beyond that. I feel like, for your average person, like, that’s impossible. There’s no way I could do that.

And we all have these self-limiting beliefs that we grew up with thinking that’s not for me. People do that, yeah. I’ve seen people do that, but I can’t do that. That’s not for me. Like, we have these self-limiting beliefs that keeps us from even trying. And so, the fact that I went out there and tried and failed still for me was a success because I wanted to then see if I could actually do it. And this year, I trained for it a little bit differently, a little bit. I had some help from some professionals this time around to, you know, help me train for something like this. And after training hardcore for 7 months, I was able to pull it off and run the 100 miles in under 24 hours, which, you know, I didn’t break any records and it like, I’m not gonna become an ultra-marathon runner by any means, but I wanted to do it to say that I did it to show me and others that if you put your body and mind to something, even though we have these self-limiting beliefs of things that seem so impossible to us, that you can still do these impossible things. It’s just, we’re too scared.

We’re too scared to go outside of our comfort zone because we live in a world of comfort. You know, we have air-conditioned houses, we have warm water in our showers and we have food whenever we want it. We have Uber eats. We have restaurants, we have grocery stores, we have soft carpet in our houses. We have soft beds. We have all these comforts that make us feel comfortable. And for most humans nowadays, we’re conditioned to stay in that comfort zone because we’re not sure what’s gonna happen. There could be danger. There could be risks, but if we stay in our comfort zone, we will never know what we’re fully capable of. And so for me, this 100 miles was something that was like the impossible marker, like, you know, going to the moon or something like that.

And for me, you know, training for it for seven months was a testament to how amazing our bodies are and how amazing our minds are. And we’re stronger than we think we are. And we can do harder things than we think we can. And it starts with doing small things. It’s not like at one day, I woke up and ran 100 miles. It starts with little things like maybe today I’m gonna take a cold shower, which sucks. And it’s way out of my comfort zone. And I know it’s gonna be uncomfortable, but maybe if I could train my mind to do that for 60 seconds, maybe then I could train my body and my mind to maybe exercise 5 days this week, you know? And then from there, it builds…you build up that confidence and you start to condition yourself and believe in yourself that you can do harder things. And then before you know it, maybe it’s 100 miles or maybe it’s like, maybe for you or for someone listening, it’s a 10K or a 5K or it’s like hiking some amazing hike that seemed too hard before, it could look like anything.

For me, I just chose the 100 miles, but that’s what I wanted to show people. And that’s why I did it. And fortunately, it worked out and, you know, I don’t plan on running anytime soon because I just did this in June. But I wanted to say that I could do it. So, that’s kind of the story in a nutshell.

Katie: I love that. One of our family mottos is we tell our kids, you were made to do hard things and now they turn it around on me whenever, like, it’s cliff jumping or something that scares me, they’re like, ”Mom, you were made to do hard things too.” But I love that explanation and why you did that. I’m curious, are there things like that you’ve mentioned you have two daughters that you try to make sure that you teach them and impress upon them early?

Drew: Yeah, as far as getting out of their comfort zone and doing hard things?

Katie: Yeah. And also, maybe speaking to that piece also about self-acceptance and I know body image things can be a tough thing for girls. I remember being that age. Are there ways that you’re helping them navigate those things?

Drew: One hundred percent. I just did a post maybe last week or two weeks ago. I think it has the most engagement I’ve ever got on a post. And it was titled, ”How to Talk to Your Daughters About Their Bodies.” And for me, it’s so important to help train them from a very young age, both me and their mom. We’re not married anymore, but we’re both on the same page about body positivity and teaching our girls that it’s not so much about what their body looks like. It’s about what their bodies can do and achieve. And instead of complimenting them on how beautiful they are, like if they’re gaining weight or losing weight, you should not talk at all to your daughters about weight or about their body image. It should be all about health and strength and treating our bodies kindly with respect, loving our bodies, loving other people’s bodies. And it should never ever be about weight loss or fat loss or making it about diets or anything like that.

Yes, I obviously am in this industry and they see, you know, whether I’m doing keto or sometimes I’m fasting, but for me, it’s not about weight gain and weight loss. And for me, you know, we actually had a whole sit down conversation with me and my ex about my new journey coming up and how are we gonna talk to our daughters about that because they’re gonna see me gain weight. They’re gonna see me eat all the junk food. They’re gonna wanna eat the junk food with me, for sure. And, you know, I don’t wanna deprive them and keep them super strict where they can’t touch a processed carbohydrate for the rest of their life. But at the same time, I want them to understand what I’m doing and why I’m doing it and how our bodies are amazing things that can do these amazing things.

And our bodies are temporary, right? Your body, like you said, you’ve been through different phases of your journey where your body’s probably looked differently after having six kids versus before. And there’s all these ups and downs. And for me, talking to my daughters about that is really, really important instead of just making it about weight or body image and it’s all about health and being strong. And then from there, you know, on the physical side, you know, we try and do things together as a family that, you know, where we stay active, whether we go on a bike ride, whether we go on a hike, whether we go swimming, we love to be outdoors and do things outdoors.

And I remember any time my girls struggle with something like where they’re frustrated at themselves for not being able to accomplish something like their first time, I show them videos of when they first finally did the monkey bars when they were about three or four years old, where I had to hold them and be with them every second of the way. And then finally I got them on video where they could do the monkey bars by themselves. And that would be months later, of course, you know, it wasn’t like the first day they were able to do the monkey bars. But I showed them that video to remind them that, hey, do you remember doing the monkey bars and how long it took you to be able to do this by yourself? This, whatever you’re doing is very similar where you’re not gonna be good right away, but that’s okay. You’re gonna get stronger. Your body’s gonna become more efficient at doing it. And before you know it, it’s gonna be like riding a bike, you know, now you don’t even have to think about it. And you’re just so good at it. And so, that’s kind of how I talked to my daughters and I hope I’m doing the right thing. Like, I hope…I’m just doing the best I can. And it’s a fun journey to be on. I love being a dad, two daughters, a girl dad. And I feel very blessed.

Katie: I love it. I think we’re definitely gonna have to do a round 2 after your next experiment and I would love to have you back on in to do a whole episode just on parenting and mindset and entrepreneur side because I think that’s a topic in and of itself. But as we get toward the end of our time, a couple of questions I love to ask. The first being, if there is a book or a number of books that have dramatically impacted your life and if so, what they are and why?

Drew: Yes. Okay. So, I’m glad you said books, plural, because it’s hard to narrow it down to one book. ”The Four Agreements” definitely helped me to not take things personally and not make assumptions about other people. I feel like a lot of our society lives in that space of judging others, taking things personally from social media posts. The second book would be ”Daring Greatly” by Brené Brown. She’s helped me so much to let go of this guilt and shame culture that I grew up in with the very strict religion that I grew up with that I’m no longer a part of anymore, but had a very unhealthy relationship with myself and hating who I was as a kid because of guilt and shame. ”Daring Greatly” was a great book for that.

”Ego is the Enemy,” great book to learn to let go of your ego, especially in situations that caused you to suffer and relationships that’s changed my life. And one more would be, ”Loving What Is” by Byron Katie. And that has helped me to let go of certain situations that I can’t control because I think so many times we suffer when we try and control the uncontrollable. And, you know, we can’t change that and learning to let go of that. It’s really hard to do but has really helped me become free. So, those are a few as far as mindset and personal development goes, there’s dozens more, but I’ll probably stop there.

Katie: Those are all amazing. I love all of those and I’ll make sure they’re all linked in the show notes. If you guys have not read them, I highly recommend all of those recommendations. And then lastly, you may have already touched on a lot of these throughout the interview, but if you kind of looked at your life and did an 80/20 of all the things that you do in a given day or a given period of time, what would you say are the 20% of things that provide the greatest positive results in your life?

Drew: Probably my morning routine, it’s about maybe 10, 20 minutes long, and it consists of meditation, positive affirmations, and the gratitude list. And that right there sets my mood, my mindset for the rest of the day and sets the tone. Like, if I sit in attention if I find things I’m grateful for and I’m able to breathe and be present at the moment and believe in myself and have a positive view of who I am. I feel like I show up as the true, authentic version of myself. Whether I’m being a dad, whether I’m being a business owner, whether I’m, you know… In all my relationships in my life, I feel like I can show up the best version of myself if I get that morning routine in, which is hard sometimes as a parent because it’s not always perfect and your kid might have a nightmare and that might throw your morning routine off for your kid needs you. So, I am forgiving of myself if I’m not perfect, but that right there, if I can stay consistent with that, for the most part, it just…it helps me be so much more present and authentic throughout the entire rest of the day.

Katie: I love it. Drew, this has been such a fun interview. I can’t wait to follow along with your journey and I will make sure that all those links for the show notes, wellnessmama.fm so you guys can follow along as well. Thank you so much for the time. This was wonderful.

Drew: Thank you, Katie. And I would love to come back on. So, looking forward to it.

Katie: And thank you, as always, all of you for sharing your most valuable asset, your time with both of us. We’re so grateful that you did, and I hope that you will join me again on the next episode of ”The Wellness Mama” podcast.

If you’re enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.