Mark Dhamma: Why Fruit Juice is Fattening & The Truth about Fitness Models

The Truth about Fitness Models:

When you see a model or celebrity on a magazine cover, you’re looking at a lie.

It goes deeper than the digital defatting, teeth whitening, and de-blemishing that happens in Photoshop. Fitness models also have a few tricks up their sleeves… The trade secrets of photo shoots, you might say.

Today we are here with Mark Dhamma, a former fitness model who now coaches celebrities, executives, and athletes to optimize their health and mindset.

On this show, you’ll learn:

  • How much water to drink each day for brighter skin, more energy, and less fat
  • Why you don’t need willpower to change your habits
  • How much sleep you really need
  • How to tap into the power of your unconscious
  • And much more…


Abel: Mark Dhamma is a high-performance health and mindset coach for celebrities, entrepreneurs, and executives. He has a master’s in positive psychology and is a former men’s fitness model. Mark and I first met when we spoke on several Mastermind panels together, right here in Austin, Texas. And I’m stoked that you’re on the show today, Mark.

Well, thanks for the invite, Abel. Really appreciate it, man.

Abel: So what is it about health and human performance that fascinates you?

It started when I was about thirteen years old. I grew up in a place called Rochdale, England, and I was really into sports. I played rugby, I played cricket, I swam, I played soccer. I loved sports.

But I was overweight, and I had no idea why I was overweight. And it bothered me. People at school would make fun of me. I really didn’t like it.

And then one day I got home from school and I overheard my grandfather making a comment about my weight to my mother. Man, at school they’re making fun of me, and I come home and my own grandfather’s making fun of me. Of course, he wasn’t making fun of me. He was concerned about my weight and was telling my mum about it. I just took it like he was making fun of me.

So, I just decided, “Man, I’ve got to figure out how to get healthy.”

I started reading men’s health and men’s fitness magazines, and doing what they said. And I remember the first thing I learned was that water is good for you. I didn’t know that.

I used to drink soda and fruit juice only. I actually didn’t like the taste of water.

Abel: And fruit juice is supposed to be healthy, right? I remember growing up, it was the same thing. Me and my brothers were like, “Yeah, juice is so good for us!”

Those big cans of Juicy Juice, a whole tin of it, we’d just polish it off, and I can’t imagine how much sugar is in that... (The answer: 228 grams of sugar in 48 ounces of Grape Juicy Juice!)

I wanted to be in shape and healthy.

So bit by bit, I just started learning more, applying more. I started reading books on health and fitness. Then I started hitting the weight room and had some type of structured exercise. Believe it or not, when I started drinking the water, I actually started to see results pretty quick.

When I got rid of the soda and the fruit juice and just drank water, I started seeing results pretty quick. So, I was stoked from that. By the time I was fifteen, sixteen, I was in awesome shape. I went on to college to study sports science and physiology, and then out of college, I got into personal training. To be honest, Abel, I was just very interested from a selfish point of view about how I could be at my best physically.

I love learning, I love reading, I love applying things. So it started off as a selfish pursuit, and then later on, I started realizing I can help other people with this, too.

Abel: I love that you brought up the water thing, because I really do hear that all the time. And I think most people don’t realize where the vast majority of people are starting off.

When you’re first trying to get healthy, most people are starting from this place of either being ignorant of the way that it works, or more often, I would say, being misinformed about how health works. They’re listening to propaganda, or marketing, as opposed to truth.

But when you talk about drinking water instead of drinking fruit juice and soda – it’s incredible how quickly you can get results.

I remember one of the first blog posts I wrote that went viral was about how one of my friends in college was on the crew team, and he was going to get booted off the boat if he didn’t lose about twenty-five pounds within a month.

Within the world of fitness modeling, and in a lot of competitive sports, going up and down in weight is not uncommon… but he decided to see if he could do it and lose 25 pounds by getting rid of all of his liquid calories and just drinking water… but eating normally. Drinking only water (instead of beer, juice, soda, etc.) was the only change, and he made weight in a month just by doing that.

When you look at a typical diet, especially of a college student, there’s a lot of beer. There’s usually a lot of soda, fruit juice, and milk—tons of stuff that may or may not be bad in and of themselves. But with the amount that most people are having of these things, just making that one little tweak— drinking water instead, every single time for a month—can make some massive changes.

What were some other things that surprised you as you grew up and turned into a seasoned veteran of exercise and health?

I’d say doing the high-intensity exercises. I thought I’d have to go out for a long run to lose body fat, go running as far as I can for as long as I can. And then I realized, man, when I do thirty minutes of high intensity intervals, I seem to get better results, just from doing that.

I also cut down my carbohydrates. For example, when I started out, I’d have cereal for breakfast. It was usually five or six Weetabix with milk.

Abel: Is that like shredded wheat?

It’s like shredded wheat, except it has sugar in it as well. I used to pour milk over it, and then my mom—she heard that glucose powder gave you energy. So I used to pour glucose powder over it, too.

I found out that wasn’t too great. When I switched that over to an omelet, an egg-based, protein-based breakfast, I did really, really well with that. I started realizing that I was a protein type when it came to metabolic types. I guess back then I didn’t realize it was a more Paleo diet. As soon as I started shifting toward a Paleo diet, that’s when I started seeing really great results.


Abel: Isn’t that interesting? Especially as a kid, I was always the chubbiest brother, especially before I hit puberty. I just thought that’s the way it was, and I liked the food I liked. I ate some things, I drank some things, whatever. That’s the way it was. And the rest is just who you are.

But you start to realize, as you did, that how you look in feel are affected by choices you make. And you can decide to be healthy or not, even from a young age. One of the things that is being lost is that many adults don’t know how to prepare the right foods for themselves.

They don’t know how their genetics will interact with different dietary paradigms and exercise. But one of the things that I want to do with this show and everything that we do is give that simple advice that can get people from a place of eating shredded wheat with glucose powder over it to trying some delicious eggs and bacon, maybe, with a bit of veg on the side.

It doesn’t even come down to personal preference as much as having that knowledge in your back pocket and then putting it into action, and then watching your body and life transform. What are some other little things that people can do if they’re just getting started?

When I started drinking water, I told myself I didn’t like water, but I read it in the magazine that it’s healthy for you, and you’ve got to drink water. So I was thirteen years old and I said to myself, “Okay, for the next two weeks, all I’m going to drink is water. I’m not going to drink the milk, fruit juice, soda. Just water.” And then I didn’t do anything else differently, I didn’t change anything else from my diet. I didn’t change my exercise. All I did was two weeks, focus on drinking water instead. And after two weeks it was easy, actually. I liked the taste of water, and it became a habit. And then for the rest of my life since then, I pretty much only drank water.

I realized that being healthy is all about making habitual choices that take you to where you want to go.

Just creating new habits. And I just fell upon it with the water habit. I just started drinking water for two weeks. After that, water was easy. I didn’t have to think about it. All I do is grab water, without even making a conscious choice that I want water, and then I moved on to another habit.

What I tell my clients and what I always tell people who are starting out is, “Focus on one thing that you know will make you healthier, lose weight, whatever it is you want. Just focus on the one thing. And focus on that for two weeks or a month and only make that one change. Everything else, keep the same.”

A lot of people who want to transform the body and health, they attempt to do everything all at once… it lasts a week or two, and then it completely falls apart. Then they start talking bad about themselves and the negative self-talk goes on, and they give up and they totally go off the train for a few weeks or maybe months or even years, before they get up enough courage to go at it again full out… and then they feel the disappointment when it doesn’t work for them.

Abel: I think so much of that is personality-based as well. For some people it seems like just tearing that band-aid off and doing a complete lifestyle change might work, and it sticks for some people. The ones who really seem to get traction over time build that habit.

When I wake up in the morning, I don’t think about it. I’m not even awake yet a lot of times, but I’m grabbing a cup and filling it with water. That’s just kind of the first thing I do. It doesn’t take any willpower or effort. In fact, it’s almost the opposite, because now I associate it with how I feel better after.

Now my day hasn’t started unless I have my glass of water. And so you can build good habits and bad habits. And it’s not quite as scary and terrifying as most people make it out to be. The idea that, even if you don’t like water, that you would be drinking water for two weeks. Pretty simple. Not necessarily easy, but pretty simple and straightforward. What are some other examples of that?

I like to focus on one meal at a time with my clients. So if they’re wanting to transform their diet, then we may start with breakfast. Alright, for two weeks, a month, all we’re going to do is focus on having that healthy breakfast.

Once that’s been conscious, and they’ve just got into a habit of having, like you said, some eggs, bacon, and veggies or something, they would be like, “Okay, what’s the next easiest thing?” What’s the lowest-hanging fruit that’s going to have the biggest results for you?

Maybe it’s working on their lunch, make sure they’re getting a healthy lunch for two to four weeks, and eat whatever you want the rest of the time.

Maybe it’s the sleep. I’m big—really, really big—on sleep. Maybe it’s getting to sleep at a certain time. Or maybe it’s turning off electronics at a certain time, so you actually feel tired when it’s time to go to sleep.

There’s many, many little things you can do to improve your health, and it’s just about doing one thing at a time, and seeing the whole process as more of a marathon, rather than a sprint.

And then really having self-compassion, and giving yourself a break, and realizing that, “Yeah, you know, okay, I might make a mistake here and there. That’s fine, I’m human. As long as I keep at it, focus on it, soon enough, it’s going to become a habit, and I’ll move on to the next little change for me.”


Abel: So as you grew up, you started to get a handle on being physical and taking control of your body composition when you were in your teens. As I did as well, kind of in a similar way, but I fell off the wagon in my 20’s. When you went from a normal person to joining the world of fitness models and people who are at the elite level, what did you notice is the most striking difference?

Is there something they know that regular people don’t? Is it a simple matter of how you’re living your lifestyle? Is it giving up the things you love, making sacrifices? What did you notice?

I noticed a few things. First, and this is extremely powerful for anybody who’s willing to make a shift, whatever it is, and that is the identity you give yourself.

I knew early on that I wanted to be a fitness model, because I always read these magazines as a youngster, and that helped me, that inspired me to do something about my weight. And I was like, “Yeah, I want to be a fitness model!” And then I actually gave myself the identity of a fitness model.

I thought, “Well, I’m going to be in fitness model, so I am a fitness model right now, I’m just a fitness model in training.”

And I saw the world through the lens of a fitness model. So I’d ask myself, “Would a fitness model eat this?” No, then I’m not going to eat this. “Would a fitness model work out right now?” Yeah, they would, so I’m going to work out. It’s Christmas Day: “Would a fitness model work out on Christmas Day?” They would work out on Christmas Day, so I’m going to work out.

I started taking on the identity of a fitness model. So I started making those decisions. And I really encourage that for anyone. Maybe it’s not a fitness model—maybe it’s an athlete that’s powerful, or maybe I’m a fit dad, I’m a fit mom. You keep telling yourself that, you’re going to believe it, and then you’re going to start making decisions that are aligned with a fit dad, or a fit mom.

So one of the things with fitness models is, they just do the right habits more consistently than everyone else. And they generally have a plan for everything.

They’ve got a training plan; they know exactly what they’re doing training-wise. They’ve got a nutrition plan; they know exactly what they’re doing nutrition-wise. And they’ll keep everything ticking over at a certain level. They’ll stay in okay shape the majority of the time, or actually, it’d be really good shape the majority of the time. And then if they have a shoot in a week or two, that’s when they’ll start doing drastic measures like cutting water before the shoot.

So they’ll stop drinking water. Some of them will drink wine, so they’ll look more dehydrated in the morning. They will dehydrate themselves, so they look more ripped.

If they’re a little bit too heavy before the shoot, which I’ve done before, they’ll be on the treadmill doing high-interval sprints every day until the shoot. And I remember—I would never do this now, this is back when I wasn’t as educated as I am now on optimal health—but I remember dieting for this one shoot. Dieting for a couple of months for it, then I’d dehydrate myself, I’d have a really hot bath the night before and not drink any water, have a bit of wine the night before, so I’m super dehydrated. Then on the day of the shoot I’d have a Coca-Cola because the sugars make my muscles pop out even more.

So I looked amazing, but I felt terrible. Absolutely terrible. Most of the time, after a shoot, most fitness models feel terrible. They need to just rehydrate, eat, sleep, rest up, and hopefully not get sick.

Abel: Many years ago, the first time I heard about this world of what people were doing to make weight, or to look great on stage, one of my friends was in perfect fitness model shape—super low body fat. When I saw him before that weekend, I’m like, “Jeez, I mean, he looks like Superman.” But you could tell his eyes were a little hollowed out, like his soul was gone. But his body looked good.

Then after that weekend, I saw him again and he had gained, I think it was, twenty-five pounds in a weekend. And of course, most of that is water weight, the way that your body reacts to that sort of treatment. But he said the thing that his body craved was rice cakes—he ate a whole bag of rice cakes and just the weirdest, kind of most disgusting food that you wouldn’t imagine put all the weight back on and more. And then he was heavy again, and then dieted back down, and then did another shoot later in the year. And that’s how it goes. All year! He’s going from just being starved, to a little bit too heavy for what he wants, but great compared to anybody else.

So what I’d like most people to realize about this is: Number one, there are definitely tricks that get people to the front of a magazine or for a fitness model shoot that, in real life, don’t really work like that. If you’re carb-depleted with low body fat and you drink Coke, and you have muscles that those carbs can go to, that can make you look bigger, but it’s still bad for you!

Yeah, it’s still bad for you. I was fitness modeling for, I don’t know, seven years or so. And then after a while I was just like, “This is dumb. I just don’t want to do this anymore.”

Dieting down, I feel terrible. I just feel terrible while I’m dieting down. Cut your calories on purpose, and working out extra, cutting calories, feel terrible. And feel terrible after the shoot, for what? For one shoot, for a couple of hours, or something.

I just realized, “This just isn’t good for my body. This isn’t why I got into training.” I didn’t get into training to make myself feel terrible.

Abel: Well, this is totally a leading question, but isn’t it easier to stay at that happy homoeostasis? The amount of effort that it takes to stay at your maintenance weight compared to being at that super low body fat?

It’s zero effort. Now I pretty much stay at the same weight. If I want to cut down, I’ll just cut down what I’m eating a little bit, and train a little bit harder. If I want to bulk up, I’ll just eat more—that’s it, I’ll just eat more!

Abel: But you don’t worry about eating fat vs. carbs, or getting fat, because you’re eating the right way?

That’s a really good question, Abel. I used to be the guy who measured all the food, so I’d have some old weighing scales, some really high-quality ones, and I’d put the food on, and I’d dial in the scales what the food was. Like chicken, and it’ll tell me, it has this amount of protein, this amount of fat, this amount of calories. And I used to measure all my food out and know exactly how many calories, and the truth is, it worked.

By doing that, and following a strategic plan of how I was manipulating my diet—carb cycling, calorie cycling, all these things—they definitely, definitely worked. I think of it now, like a type of 80/20 principle, to get the last 20 percent of my physique by doing this carb cycling and monitoring my calories, it would get me to the last 20 percent.

If I just wanted to be 80 percent good, which still looks great and feels way better, I don’t need to do any of that. I simply follow a Paleo-style diet. If I want to lose a bit of body fat, the first thing I’ll do is increase my exercise. I’ll just increase my exercise volume. That’s usually it: I’ll just increase my exercise volume and eat the same.

So if I was like, “Oh, I really need to lose a bit more,” all I would do is reduce my calories a little bit. And what I mean by reduce calories is not measuring it. I’ll just be like, “Okay, I’ll just put one-fifth less on my plate.”

That’s it. I’ll just put a little bit less than I usually do on my plate, and that works. I’m like 6 foot 2 inches, 220 pounds, and I haven’t really been eating as much as I probably need for the past year. I’ve just been eating, been losing weight, then putting it on. Now, okay, I want to feel good, I want to make sure my body’s well fed. So now I’m just eating more. I’ll just put a fifth more food on every plate and eat a little bit more. I’ll put on weight. Will I put on some body fat? If I do, I’ll either increase my exercise intensity, or just eat a little bit less.

What I like to communicate to my clients and everyone who’s listening is, it can be really, really simple. You need to put on weight? Eat more. You want to lose a bit of weight? Okay, well, increase your exercise intensity first, and maybe eat a little bit less, too.


Abel: I love that we’re talking about this, because I have people on the show—some people say, “Calories don’t matter!” They go to completely one side of it. But as you know, especially when you start to get into the elite level, it definitely matters to some degree.

Now, calories are not all created equal, but if you’re starting with the right foods, like you talked about, if it’s lots of fibers, veggies, if it’s not too high in carbs, and you’re eating nutrient-dense food, then there is an effect of eating more and less that you can see in your own body. But if you’re still eating bad food it’s a crapshoot anyway.

Calories only really matter when you’re eating the right food, and you’re doing it in the right way. Don’t try to hit your macros with Twinkies. But I hope, in you talking about this, it takes away some of the mystique about weight loss. Because some people think that they are this way—they’ve always been overweight, they’re always going to be overweight. When you’re in the circles that you’re in, you understand that it’s a process.

For people who have a harder time losing weight, or they’re eating the right foods, they slash their calories a bunch, and they’re still not getting results, what are some things that they can do to reach the next level?

Well, first thing I like to see is how much have they slashed their calories and how long has that been going on for. Because as you know, if you slash your calories too much, then it can start messing with your hormones.

It can start messing with your testosterone and other type of hormones in your body—especially with women, estrogen. And if your hormones get messed up, that’s going to affect how much body fat you lose. It’s going to affect your muscle mass. That can slow down your whole metabolism, so your body just isn’t burning that many calories anyway. And so I’d check that out.

Another thing I’m really big on is sleep. A lot of people forget about sleep in the equation, and studies show that if you’re getting anything less than six hours of sleep, you’re more likely to be overweight. Anything less than five hours of sleep, you’re more likely to be obese. And so sleep quality is very important. I’ve had clients before, and all we’ve done is focus on the sleep, getting really high-quality sleep, and they’ve lost body fat.

That’s because while you’re sleeping, you’re actually burning fat, but also your hormones get optimized while you’re sleeping. And your body rebuilds—it builds muscle and gets your body working properly, moving forward. So sleep is a big one.

  • Are you getting enough sleep?
  • Are you going to sleep around 10:00 p.m., 10:30? Or maybe, at the latest, 11:00?
  • When you go to sleep, is your room black? Is it dark? It’s completely blacked out?
  • Are you getting enough sleep for your body?
  • How much sleep do you need? Well, most people tend to need around eight hours of sleep. A good way to figure out how much you need is by getting to sleep at 10:00 p.m. every night for a week and not putting an alarm on, and seeing what time you wake up. If you’re getting seven, eight hours, nine hours, and you’ve done it for a week, we’ll look at the average, and you’re going to start to get an idea of how much sleep your body actually needs.

A lot of people don’t realize, because they’re always using alarms, and wake up with an alarm after six hours of sleep and maybe feel groggy, but after a coffee and slap in the face, feel alright and ready to go. And they’re like, “Well, I don’t need much sleep. Six hours, I’m fine.” Whereas if you let your body tell you, if you sleep in until your body wakes you up, you’re going to have a better idea of how much you do actually need.

Abel: It’s getting so much easier to track sleep. Actually, when I was on the ABC show, they all started using Fitbits, and so that’s when I started using it as well. Mine’s the Charge HR. So I mostly use it for sleep tracking, and also just to kind of see how active I was that day, see if that relates to sleep. My wife has one as well, and one of the things I noticed is there’s a big difference between the amount of time that you’re in bed, and the amount of time that you’re actually sleeping. A lot of people don’t realize that you might not remember how poorly you slept on a given night (even if you were unconscious).

No matter how good the situation is, I’m still a relatively light sleeper most of the time. And if I’m in bed for eight hours I’m getting seven, and if I’m in bed for nine or ten hours, I might be getting eight, seven, nine. It really fluctuates a lot, and it fluctuates depending on how well I’m eating, what my stress level is, and how I’m training.

When you look at my data, I typically get seven hours and fifteen minutes to seven hours and forty-five minutes of actual sleep a night, no matter what I do. That’s the average that it comes out to every week. My wife, though, gets at least half an hour, forty-five minutes more than that, and seems to really need that. And I think that’s a perfect example of how people need to pay attention to their bodies and realize that we’re all individuals.

Hopefully you’re not telling yourself the story where you’re like, “I’m one of the people who never needs sleep, I can just push it and push it!” The typical type A vampire. Have you seen epic crash-outs from some of your clients who have acted that way, and then it went sideways?

You can usually see it in the body: “I’m not stressed out, I really don’t need much sleep.” Yet they’re overweight, they really look so tired, they’re telling me they can’t lose any body fat. They’ve been working out, exercising, they’re eating good, and yet they’re not losing any weight. And you’ll be like, “Oh, okay,” And then I said, “Well, how much sleep?” “Oh, well, I don’t need much sleep.” “Okay, well, what do you drink throughout the day?” I know people who’ve had like six espressos and a Rockstar drink.

Alright. In Hollywood as well, there’s other things that people take. Some executives, to keep themselves going—and I can speak to that too, some illegal stuff that they take.

Abel: How common is “performance enhancement” in Hollywood? Drugs in sports, modeling and movies have come up in a couple of interviews lately.

Yeah. I know of a couple of cases of people I personally know, and I was like, “What? Like, really?” I was shocked, because it’s just not in my world. I don’t even think that stuff exists in my world. I’m talking about like high-quality coffee reviews. What’s the highest quality review? That’s about as far as I go in terms of stimulants.

You know what I mean? Yeah, it’s real. I spoke to people, they’re tired, so they thought they’d do a line or something to pick them up and keep them going. And that’s what people do when you’ve got a high-stress job, and you’re an entrepreneur and you’re an executive and you’ve got a lot to do. I believe it’s common, man. I know a couple of people who definitely do. And as you say, there tends to be no smoke without fire.

Abel: It is so important for the average Joes and Janes out there to understand that the celebrity world, the Hollywood world, a lot of times when there are millions of dollars on the line and aggressive filming deadlines, there’s wonky stuff going on behind the scenes. And that’s not realistic for most people to apply to their own lives. Or even when I was on an ABC show, coaching a guy down for fourteen weeks. He’s on national television—that is incredible accountability that is impossible to create in real-life.

What else can we learn from the world of modeling?

Again, I would just like to say, it’s actually really, really simple, okay. Really simple. Drink enough water each day. That’s a great first step for anyone, including these Hollywood executives that are taking other types of performance-enhancing drugs to give them energy. If you make sure you’re hydrated in the first place, you’re going to have more energy. A lot of them are taking coffee and all types of things, and are constantly dehydrated, so they’re going to feel tired.

How do you increase your energy levels? Help yourself lose fat? Well, make sure you drink enough water. Step one. How do you know how much water to drink? An easy little formula I like to use is take your weight in pounds, cut it in half. So I’m like 220 pounds. Cut that in half, 110. Make sure that’s the minimum amount of water you drink per day in ounces. So the minimum amount of water to drink, for me, would be 110 ounces a day.

Just take your weight in pounds, cut it in half, turn it into ounces, and make sure that’s the minimum amount you drink per day.

That one thing is going to help you lose body fat, it’s going to help your skin brighten up, and it’s going to give you a lot more energy.

Other things to remember: It’s all about your environment. Willpower is finite. Willpower does not last. We know that from the studies on willpower, we know that from positive psychology studies on willpower. Meaning you may have willpower first thing in the morning when you’re nice and refreshed, but after a long day at work, when you’ve had to make so many decisions and you get home, your willpower is unlikely to be as high. So if you’ve got junk food in the house, you’re more likely to eat it, whereas if your house hasn’t got any junk food in it, and all you’ve got is healthy options, then you’re more likely to eat the healthy options.

The truth about fitness models:

Willpower is finite. It’s all about your environment. @MarkDhamma Click To Tweet

I tell my clients and other people wanting to get in shape to make sure the environment you spend the most time in is just full of healthy options. That’s it. Make sure your car’s full of healthy options, make sure your home’s full of healthy options. Make sure when you get to work, your desk is full of healthy options, because I know there can be a lot of temptations at work.

People bring in chocolates, people bring in cakes. It’s someone’s birthday, “here’s some doughnuts.” And so work is a little bit harder to control, but you can take control of your desk and make sure you’ve got healthy options there.

The fact is, the easier you make it on yourself by making your environment a healthy environment, the better. Make it easy to work out. You have your gym kit all nicely laid out or ready in a bag whenever you need it; you’ve got one in your car, you’ve got one in your home. You have it all planned out. The easier you make it for yourself, the more successful you’re going to be. As soon as you start relying on willpower, the more likely you are to fail.

Abel: That’s why it’s better to rely on identity, like you said before. You were a fitness model. That identity worked for you. Fat-Burning Man seems to work well for me. Is there anything that people can do in their own lives to give themselves an identity that’s not quite as squishy as, “I’m a healthy person now.” Is there anything that you’ve seen work?

Yeah, it can be anything. Like I said, I’ve had clients before and they wanted to be fit so that when their sons and daughters got older, they could still play, run around with them, still play ball with them, still mess around and be good, not just be overweight and can’t really get involved. So they’ve taken on identities as the fit dad, like, “Oh, I’m the fit dad.” What would the fit dad do?

Abel: Instead of using kids as an excuse not to work out, which so many people do, right? They’re like, “I’m a dad, so I can’t work out.” No, instead say: “I’m a fit dad.”

Yeah, athlete, fit dad… whatever you want it to be. Whatever you want it to be that works for you, do that. And the key is to tell it to yourself, tell it to yourself often, smile when you tell it to yourself, allow yourself to believe it, and you will become that.

Abel: Yeah, on the ABC show I was coaching Kurt—he’s a 48-year old grandpa. His nickname was Grandpa Meanie, our mantra when we filmed the TV show was, “Grandpa Meanie never gives up.”

So if it was eating a salad when he didn’t feel like eating one, or going for a walk, or whatever it was that was hard at the time, that was the little thing that seemed to really get him through some tough moments. I think everyone has that bit of meaning that they can apply to their own lives and identities. I think the fit mom, fit dad, fit grandpa, grandma, whatever it is—that works so well.


You can find me at, and on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @MarkDhamma.

What I’m working on is really focusing on mindset. So, how to be happy, how to be confident, how to be super motivated. My master’s degree is in positive psychology, so it’s all about optimum mental performance. I look at that in terms of fitness and health, but I also look at it in really enjoying life.

Here’s a lesson I learned in my twenties I was a fitness model. I was in fantastic shape, and I thought when I started the journey at thirteen, I thought, “Man, if I was just in really great shape, I’d be so happy. Life would be awesome.”

And then I got into really great shape, and for a part of it I was depressed. I was not happy at all. I was an angry young man, wasn’t happy. And then I figured, “Man, I’m in great shape, but I’m still not happy.”

I thought, “Well, it must be because I don’t have any money, so I’ll start making money.” Right? That’s what I thought. “Okay, so I’ll start making money.” So I started making money, found ways to make money and things were a little bit better, but at the end of the day, I was still unhappy.

I was unhappy, I did have bouts of depression, I was still angry. And I was like, “Man, I’ve got a good body and I’ve got money. I’m in my twenties, I’m meeting lots of women, and I’m still not happy.” So then I realized that the real key to life is this: Your mindset. Your mind, understanding your mind, learning to take control of that and direct it the way you want it to go.

Abel: Mindset is the trickiest one.

The trickiest one. That’s what I started focusing on, and now I share tools with people on how to really take control of their mindset as well as their health, so they can really be at their best, both physically and mentally.

Abel: It can be as simple as getting your water in, eating clean, doing that high-intensity exercise as opposed to punishing yourself over and over again. You can just play like a kid again and bring joy to all of this, because that’s what will bring longevity to your life.


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Here’s a shout out for a Wild Diet success story that just came in. Harley says:

I’m excited and hopeful for the first time in a long time. My wife brought your book home to me. 3 weeks ago I weighed in at 390 lbs. I’m 48 years old and that scared me.

Staring at almost 400 pounds seemed like a death sentence. I have no health issues but that’s a ticking time bomb. I knew it and my wife knew it. I am using your program with pig-headed determination and it’s working. I have had no sugar, processed foods, or carbage in 3 weeks.

I’m down 22 pounds in 3 weeks!

Thank you for this program, Abel.

Congrats, Harley! Keep it up, man. If you want to live for a long time, you have to put the right food on your plate. And the longer you do that, the easier it gets.

If you’d like to try The Wild Diet yourself from the device you’re listening on right now, check this out. We just updated our online 30-day program with some of the best meal plans we’ve ever put together.

In this plan, we share 30 days of mouth-watering meals that are designed to help you drop fat with real food.

Here’s what you have to look forward to:

  • You don’t need to slave on a treadmill for hours. Lose weight by exercising less with our quick, Wild 7 Workouts.
  • We’ll show you how to reprogram your metabolism and go from a sugar-burner to a fat-burner, leading to rapid weight loss.
  • You don’t need to obsess yourself with eating 6 meals a day. You simply eat when you’re hungry.

No ridiculous workouts, calorie counting, or gloom required!

If you’re ready to start shedding stubborn fat while eating delicious food, just click on the link to get our 30-day program for a limited-time discount right now!

See you there.


How do you make sure you get enough sleep and water? What did you think of this show? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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  1. Abel~ on this show you mentioned you use a fitbit for monitoring your sleep. Which model do you feel is the best for this??

    Allyn House Largo Fl

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