Have you ever thought about why health trends come and go?
What if I told you that today’s most popular fads and trends are actually created and exploited by a bunch of overweight 20 year olds who know next to nothing about health?
Today we’re here with Mr. Ryan Lee, an author, health entrepreneur, and father of four. Ryan is going to give us an insane inside peek into how the health industry actually works in the age of the internet and social media.
On this show with Ryan, you’re about to learn:
- The inside dirt on how the health industry really works on the internet
- Ryan’s trick to no stress nutrition
- How to get a great 20 minute workout without going to the gym
- And tons more
Let’s go hang out with Ryan.
Ryan Lee: Healing Autoimmune Disorder with Real Food
Abel: Ryan is an author and entrepreneur with a decades-long background in health and fitness, including a master’s in Exercise Physiology.
We’ve known each other for coming up on a decade now. And he’s obsessed with living the good life, which mostly means spending as much time as possible with his wife and four kids. Ryan, little known fact, is also a big time Cyndi Lauper fan.
Welcome to the show, Ryan, how’s it going?
That’s a great intro. And I just have to tell you personally, it’s been so cool to watch your journey. You just have so much happiness in your life, because really that’s what it’s about, right?
Living a life with joy, and purpose, and doing what you want.
You spoke at one of my events, and you were jamming in between speakers and playing songs. It lights me up seeing other people happy. We’re going to have some fun today.
Abel: Right on. Yah, let’s do it. Speaking of last time, which was probably around 3-ish years ago, and you were looking a little bit haggard. You’re looking so much better now, and I know you’re feeling better. Tell us what happened.
It was a few really rough years. I started my first business 20 years ago. I started as a health and fitness professional, former captain on my track team in college. Everything was good, I was fit, but things started to happen. I had my first kid, my second kid, my third, my fourth.
And they start having chicken fingers. You’re eating a chicken finger here, you’re having a little mac and cheese there.
And business was going well, and then all of a sudden, almost overnight, everything basically collapsed. One bad deal, one of our top people in the company left, took all of our affiliates, and everything fell apart.
So, from millions of dollars in revenue a month to millions of dollars of debt within months.
Right about that time, my mom was only 63, and she passed away from cancer. So I had the four kids, all of a sudden was now in debt, my business was falling apart, and my health started to suffer.
I started to gain weight. And all of a sudden, I woke up and my fingers were really stiff. I’m like, “What the heck is going on?”
And then it started getting worse and worse. It took about three months of going to doctors for them to finally diagnose an autoimmune disorder called psoriatic arthritis. It was so painful, where I could barely walk.
I’ll never forget one night, my wife and I were going out on a date night, and she’s like, “Oh, we could park here,” and the restaurant was like two blocks away.
I’m like, “It hurts too much to walk. I need to find a spot in front.”
Abel: How old were you at this point?
This was about 4 years ago, right about the time you saw me. I was kind of up and down with the autoimmune disorder.
And the doctor said I need to go on methotrexate, which is chemo.
I said, “Hell no. Let me figure out what’s going on.”
And that has been this kind of long journey. I don’t want to date myself here, but I just turned 46, and I’m back to the same weight and pant size I was in high school.
Abel: Is that right? Good for you.
I’m back, feeling amazing. I didn’t have to go on the chemo drugs. I still get some little symptoms once in a while, especially when the weather is really humid and rainy, and I feel little tightness in my joints. But overall, I run, I play tennis, I workout every day, and I’m just feeling great.
It’s been a crazy journey, but I’m feeling 20 years younger.
Abel: You’re looking younger, too. I would say you look 10 years younger since the last time I saw you, which was like four years ago.
I feel like I’ve got this new lease on life.
And I know your show isn’t just health. I know you talk about personal development and mindset. Everything is integrated. Family, your financial health, your mental health, your fitness.
And if one of those is out of sync, you’re not really going to live an optimal life. So you have to try your best to work on each of them.
That’s why it drives me crazy when I keep hearing all this, “Hustle, hustle, work till you’re dead.” But what’s the point?
The Simplicity Filter
Abel: I do feel like it was almost a different era when I first got to meet you in the early 2010s, things were really intense then. They were as intense as they had ever been, in a lot of ways.
Since then, though, it’s doubled or tripled. Everything that’s coming at us now, all of the misinformation, all of the hype, all of the stress, all the technology that’s supposed to be good for us, but that’s debatable.
What was the thing then that really made it fall apart? What weren’t you doing, or what was the the problem that you fixed?
If I had to say the one thing that was wrong, it was complexity. I made things too complex.
I had too many things, too many moving parts in my business that was causing a lot of stress. I had like eight corporations I was trying to run at once, which was insane.
And then because I had the financial stress, I was going on the road and speaking a lot. Because the way it worked, you go to an event, you speak, you sell, you pitch, you make money. And that’s what I was doing.
But it also led to difficulties with my relationships. I wasn’t seeing my kids as much, which led to this emotional thing.
And the nutrition piece was way too complex. I was eating a lot of crap, a lot of processed stuff.
So I finally started to say, “How do I run this simplicity filter on every aspect of my life?”
I sold or closed down the parts of my business that were underperforming. And I focused on just one thing: Family and relationships.
The one simple thing I did, was say no to every single speaking gig, and I knew I was going to take a hit.
But I said, “I’m going to have to figure out ways to recoup that revenue.”
So for six years I did not travel once to speak.
Not one. I just said, that was it. And for six years I didn’t speak one time.
Abel: I bet your family loved that.
It was great. Not that I traveled that much, but it was enough where like, my kids would always cry when I would leave.
And for exercise, saying, “Okay, I’m just going to do the same 20-minute workout each day, and that’s it. I don’t have to go too crazy and complex. I don’t need to do a whole full-year periodized program, or training for the Olympics. Just a simple 20 minute workout.”
So, simplifying that, and simplifying my nutrition. Let me just start and win the morning.
I win the morning by having something good to eat in the morning.
And for me, since I’m on the go with four kids, it was good to find a good bar. And that’s why I created this bar because I couldn’t find a good one.
Every single area of my life was simple, simple, simple.
And it’s like, “Phew.”
It’s funny, you brought up the stress, the technology, and we were talking how you didn’t have internet for eight months before we started recording here.
I’m telling you, I think there’s a shift. I think a lot of people are feeling that stress, that pressure, that strain. I think there’s a shift going back to analogue.
Going back to, “Okay, cool, I’ve got this phone. I could do everything, I could download everything. But I’m over it. Let me buy some records.”
I remember, I got rid of all my records, got rid of my tapes, got rid of my books and started watching stuff on Kindle, and now I find myself back to buying physical books.
I’m buying records again.
Abel: Isn’t that interesting?
Even my wife who loved the Kindle, she’s buying books. And you see this with a lot of people. Record sales, book sales, it’s all trending up.
And I think people are just like, “Alright, the phone can do all that stuff, but awesome let me kinda come back to analogue.” And my kids love records now.
Abel: Do they?
It’s amazing. Oh, yah, we go to the record store and buy records. I think we’re seeing a trend kinda coming back which has been fun and interesting.
Abel: That’s good to hear. Because for me, especially as someone who makes music, my music library is really important. Having the songs available to listen to whether they’re mine or someone else’s.
But then having that taken away by Apple, for example, because they totally botched iTunes so many times over the years and deleted my music from various computers, deleted music that I had bought and paid for from them—overpaid for.
I find the same thing. We literally go to thrift shops and buy old CDs and tapes.
It’s got the smell, it’s got the tactile feeling, it’s real, and most importantly, it doesn’t interrupt you all day long with crappy advertising.
And it doesn’t make you pay to listen to it without advertising, because you already paid for this music.
You’re nailing it in so many ways. It’s tactile, you feel it. You own it.
For the people watching, you can see on the wall behind me, I have a record of Huey Lewis and Michael Jackson and The Beat and The Bangle. And Apple can’t come and take that away for me.
I physically own that. I own my books. It’s an experience. You sit down, you play the record, you read the book, you feel it.
When I go into a record store or a book store, that smell, it feels like my childhood.
So I think in life in general, sometimes we need to unplug. Go for walks and reconnect with family and relationships. And here’s something crazy guys, pick up the phone and call someone. Not a text, actually make phone calls.
I think that’s one of the keys to life, is really getting unplugged.
Abel: One thing I’ve done recently that I think has really helped psychologically and emotionally is getting back in touch with a lot of my old friends from elementary school and high school. Outside of Facebook, outside of social media, outside of that whole thing.
Those platforms are literally trying to program your consciousness and your mind, against your will, without you even knowing it most of the time. Feeds are so manipulative now that it’s a dangerous place for a lot of people.
How the Health Industry REALLY Works
Abel: I think the generations that are more advanced than you, Ryan, those are the ones that really concern me at this point.
The way that people are being taken advantage of and advertised to without even knowing it, in a lot of cases. It’s really problematic, and that applies to audio, video, text, and everything else.
I remember in 2010, 2011, blogging was the thing. I was doing it. You were doing it big time.
And if you searched for something back then, you could find information usually from a professor, or someone who is just a writer or a blogger.
Now, you look something up, and good luck. Good luck trying to find anything that remotely resembles the truth.
And then you get the people—the so called influencers—some of these people just make stuff up.
Abel: And it’s often paid for.
They could be wearing a t-shirt or holding this drink and saying, “Oh my god, I drink this every morning.” But, no you don’t. You’re lying. You were paid 10 grand to say that.
And they don’t disclose it. At least back in the day, when we were kids, watching TV shows and a commercial came on, we at least knew it was a commercial. Like okay, this is a paid commercial.
Whether they sucked us in or not, and we wanted to buy the Captain Crunch, whatever, right? At least we knew.
Now, we have no idea. Does this person really like it? Do they not?
And it’s pretty easy to be a person of “influence” online now, especially in the fitness industry. Just get six-pack abs, yah, six-pack abs and you’re good.
Or be a young guy and take a picture in front of a Ferrari and all of a sudden you’re going to teach people how to be a millionaire and get rich.
Abel: Not even your Ferrari, a rented Ferrari.
Of course. Yah, you’re borrowing it from a buddy or you’re just in a parking lot standing right next to it and then you walk away. It’s crazy this stuff that’s going on.
Abel: It is. So I think there’s another thing you can do, hopefully, by helping technology work for you, or with you.
Find the numbers for old friends. Then you get in touch, like you said, you give ’em a call, you give ’em a text or an email, what have you. But you get out of that whole circus that most of these platforms that have paid advertising are putting us all through at this point.
I think that’s a really important positive thing that most of us can do. And when it comes to listening to podcasts and other things like that, I was still finding ways of downloading things to bring back to our house.
We go to the coffee shop, get some great coffee, download a couple of things. Might be podcasts, might be a video or something like that, and go back and watch it.
And when you do that, you’re not getting advertised to.
And to your point, I think it’s really dangerous, especially when it comes to health, when you have advertising that is not disclosed, which is just all over the place, and there are barely any repercussions for.
Even Keto as a keyword. One of the reasons I assume it took off is because it was a cheaper keyword to buy on the internet for marketers than other words.
Abel: Like paleo or like gluten-free or even Atkins, because it had been around for a long time. But Keto, it’s a new word. So they can just pump it everywhere, turn it into the biggest fad ever, and then sell all of these products around it.
So can you tell us a little bit how that works, because I don’t think most people understand.
How it works, in terms of trends?
Abel: Trends happening because they’re paid for, because these words are cheap to buy and advertise.
Yah, that’s exactly what happens, especially with ads on some of these social media platforms.
There are ads you can buy on search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. But mostly Google. Or social ads on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube.
And there are a lot of really smart marketers who like to kind of hack stuff. I know we talk about hacking our body and brain and all that. They hack money.
They hack business and marketing.
So they’ll say, “Okay well, there’s this trend.”
Well people always want to lose weight, right? People can never be too thin or too rich. So they’re like, well, what’s the next thing?
Okay, well, it’s still the kind of low carb phase, but Paleo is maybe on its way out, or it’s not as hot as it used to be.
What’s this thing? Keto. Ok, keto, going into ketosis, let’s brand that.
And then what happens is, these marketers come in. If people only knew how it really worked. It could be two or three guys that are 23 year old guys who could be 350 pounds, and they usually are by the way.
Not that I’m judging. But big dudes with beards in a dark room, and they go to these events. And then what they do is they’ll call up a supplement company, and they’ll find some product, whatever it is. It could be mostly crap and filler, and they’ll call it the “Keto” something. Keto Fat Flush.
And they put that label on and they’ll get the freaking crap pills for 2 bucks a bottle.
And then, they’d call it The Ultimate Keto Fat Flush product, and they’ll sell it for $59 a bottle.
And they’ll be able to buy ads on Facebook and they’ll say “Well, it cost me a dollar per click, but I know for every 10 clicks I’m selling 10 bottles. So it cost me 10 bucks, but I sold 10 bottles at $59. So it cost me 100 bucks, but I made $6000.”
And then they take all that money, and all of a sudden you’re seeing them everywhere with all these fake testimonials.
And you want to believe everyone. So they make a lot of money really quickly, but then it falls apart because it doesn’t deliver on the promise. And the customer support is terrible because they don’t really care, it’s just a churn and burn.
And they close that down and they do the next thing. Just like they did with the supplement on Dr. Oz years ago.
Abel: I remember that. Was it the raspberry ketones he was talking about?
Yes, the ketones and then there was something else. And people were making millions on these crappy pills that had an extract of one thing, but it only had like a speck of it in it and it doesn’t even work.
And that’s the way the industry works.
And now it’s Keto, and soon it’ll be something else, who the heck knows.
It’s all manipulation, and that’s why I just stick to real food, and eat good stuff.
If you want to have a freaking Kit Kat once in a while, go have a Kit Kat, you’re not going to die.
There’s a lot of people who try to scare you, saying, “I could never do this.”
People might disagree with me, but I think the minute you say, “You can never, ever eat this again.” Now you’re playing defense all day.
If someone says you could never ever drink beer again because it has sugar and all of a sudden you’re going to become a fat, obese slob, if you drink one beer.
Now, you’re going out with your friends, your old high school buddies, everyone else has a beer and you can’t have one, and you’re just sitting there, and you’re upset. And what’s the point?
So, everything in moderation, including moderation.
So, yah, that’s how it works.
Welcome to internet marketing, my friends.
Abel: It’s a dangerous world, especially, if you’re not aware of even a little bit of how it works.
It’s gotten so pernicious. I never would have predicted where it’s gone.
How about you, are you surprised?
Thankfully, I think they’re starting to get stricter now. With Amazon it was really bad because people can easily put a product on Amazon, a supplement, and call it anything.
Abel: Fake products.
Yah, come up with a name, put a label on it. But now Amazon, I believe, is starting to set the barrier to entry higher. Now, you have to pay a couple of thousand bucks just to be in there in that category.
Abel: Oh is that right?
Yah, they’re starting to change it. So, it’s at least starting to weed some of that out.
But if people ever went into Facebook, private Facebook groups for e-commerce people, or how to make money in supplements, their heads would explode if they saw some of the stuff that goes on.
Like, “Oh, $2 a bottle for a supplement is too much. I need to buy it for a dollar.”
“I bought it for a dollar. Can I sell it for $89?”
But does it work? “I don’t know.”
I had one guy that I did a coaching call with. I swear to you, Abel, he said, “Oh I have this great idea for a hair product. It’s a supplement. It’s going to help you grow back your hair.”
I said, “What is it?”
And he listed these four ingredients.
I said, “Well, that’s interesting. What’s the research? What are the studies behind this?”
He goes, “Oh, I don’t know.”
I say, “What do you mean?”
He goes, “Well, I looked into the four ingredients and they all seem like they would work.”
I said, “But what about if you put them together, is there any contraindications working together?”
He goes, “I don’t know.” He said, “But I see other people selling stuff like that so I can too.”
This is a person who wants to put out a product.
And I said, “Look, I can’t help you.” And I refunded his money.
I’m like, “I can’t help you. Ethically, I cannot do this,” and I said, “And you shouldn’t do it either.”
I don’t know if he ever did or not, but these are the type of people advertising to you.
That’s why I knew if I was going to build a health company again, we’re going to be 100% transparent. I’m going to answer every single question, I’m going to list all the ingredients, I’m going to be on video and we’re going to do our own fulfillment, handle all of our own stuff, and be real and honest.
“This is what it is, this is how we make it, this is everything.”
And I want to try to raise the bar, no pun intended on my super-bar. I want to raise the bar and have everyone else do the same thing.
I’m hoping to drive them out of business. Not that it’s more for me, but at least to protect the consumer, because people just don’t know.
Abel: One of the interesting things you brought up is the margins, especially when you’re talking about supplements or even bars, protein bars, superfood bars, or what have you.
The people who you’re talking about, who just own the internet right now, who own social media right now, they’re literally trying to get a bottle of supplements for less than $1 dollar from China, usually.
They don’t really know what’s in it. They don’t know if the active ingredients are in it.
They don’t know and they don’t care.
Abel: Right. And they’re selling it on Amazon, saying that it’s something else, sometimes. And since they’re so good at knowing how Amazon works, and how to rise in the rankings, they can just do that.
Alyson and myself, we started our own line of health supplements. In the past few months we’ve been getting it off the ground. And our margins are nothing like that. With real food, with real things, the margins are very small.
Abel: And it doesn’t really leave anything for advertising everywhere on the internet.
If you’re selling a real thing, you’re making a little bit of money, and hopefully breaking even.
But for anyone who is a creator, especially in health, there is a model where you can be your own sponsor, if you make a good product and you deliver on that promise over time.
And that’s what we’re trying to do. But that’s challenging, especially when the margins are so much smaller.
So how do you see a way forward for the people who are doing it right?
I hear you. The margins on our bars are tiny. Even the first 50K – 100,000 bars, we’re not making any money because we’re just trying to turn them over and sell.
Here’s the way that you do it, you have to think long term.
So you have to think, okay, whatever the product is, whether it’s a supplement or a bar or even let’s say in the beauty space it’s skin care, it’s something that people consume or put on them and use it every day or every week or every month and replenish, you’re in the retention model.
So while your margins are thinner, you’re going to have to hope that they stick with you longer. Especially if you’re doing paid traffic you might lose money on the first sale. We do.
When we do advertising, we lose money for every bar we sell, but we know that a certain percent are going to re-buy once and twice, and so it’s all about the lifetime customer value.
And then if they like you and trust you, and you put out good stuff and you deliver what you say is in the bottle or in the cream, then you can create more products.
And with a line of products, and they might try one or two, and now all of a sudden their average spending goes up each month, so now you could start to have some profit.
But it’s much different than the cheap dollar supplement, get ’em in once, make it really hard for them to cancel and fight the charge-backs, and then you shut down. That’s a different model.
I’m all about long term. You can create your own brand and product, but it’s got to be good.
Years ago, it used to be that you can create a crappy product and have a year or two where no one even really knows. Now, thankfully, at least with social media, people start to be like, “Oh this person’s scamming. I don’t like this. Their product’s crap.”
So at least it kind of cuts it back a little bit, but some of these marketers move so fast. They do. They’re up on the latest trend. I’m sure there’s another trend coming down the pike that people are already picking up on.
Abel: Oh, of course, cheap keywords, right? It astonishes me.When my book The Wild Diet came out back in 2015 before the ABC TV show, within 3 days there were three fake copies of The Wild Diet on Amazon outranking me. Even though my publisher was Penguin Random House, the biggest publisher in the world, they were outranking me.
The fake author, I think his name was Adel Jones or something like that, and they took a stock image of a dude in almost the same position as my biography shot.
And I don’t know how many people have bought this stuff, but I remember I looked into one of the books that they were selling, pretending to be me, and there was a recipe for like a quail or something like that, and it said, “put it in the oven for 25 minutes at 180 degrees and then serve it up with carrots.”
And I’m like, “You’re going to kill everybody with this. Amazon, take this down immediately.”
Four years later, or whatever, it’s still up there. Amazon is doing nothing about any of this, and I don’t know how many people are thinking that’s me. I mean, this is real stuff happening.
It is, it’s happening and people don’t realize it. You just have to be a smart educated consumer and reach out to companies.
If you’re interested in buying something, reach out to their customer support and see how quickly they get back to you, things like that.
Abel: That’s a good point.
Because if it says, “Hey contact us any time,” send them an email and if they don’t respond to you, alright, they don’t care. And most don’t. So just be smart.
Abel: A lot of those people who are making money with paid traffic and those high margin products, they’re not going to spend money on what you just talked about.
They’re not going to spend money on customer support or their customers. So that’s actually a pretty good way of telling by getting in touch with them. See if there’s anything that comes back.
The customer support is usually they hire one person overseas, sometimes in the Philippines for like $3 – $4 an hour, and that’s it. We have a whole team here in the actual space. Most people don’t do that.
We spend more money on customer support than we do on marketing. And that’s really how it should be.
Abel: It should be.
You should be taking care of people and you should be taken care of as a customer.
Abel: Well, you’re feeding these people, right? You’re literally feeding these people.
Not that you should do anything bad if you’re selling a book or an online course or anything. We have the one overall philosophy in our business, which is: Just do the right thing. Treat people how you’d want them to treat your own mom and dad and your brother and sister, or your kids, or your spouse.
The whole “customer’s always right,” sometimes they’re wrong. But still, have empathy, listen to them, treat them with respect and still do the right thing, even if they’re not entitled to a refund, even if they ate half the bar and say, “Can I send it back?”
“Okay, go ahead. It’s fine.”
Just do the right thing. Think long term and take care of people, and that’s it. It’s pretty simple.
Abel: Then you’re growing a business, and hopefully a good one, not just making quick money off of tactics.
Long term, man. You have to start thinking long term, and it’s hard to do that because everyone wants the fast money. No one wants to get rich slowly. They want to get rich quick.
Abel: But let me ask you this, was it more money that got you out of your problems recently? It doesn’t seem like it. Seems like spending less money, almost, and I might be reading in between the lines here.
Well, the problem was our business model was broken.
That particular business relied on other people marketing us. Basically, our company was the backend nutrition company for all these big online fitness professionals.
It was great, because we only paid them commission when they sold something. So when they’re going out, they’re spending all their time and effort on their list in promoting us, so it’s almost like free money for us, which is great when they’re promoting. But it’s not great when they stop.
And all of a sudden we had millions of dollars in inventory and we can’t sell it.
So that was one thing I learned about business. And you know what? In life, too.
You can’t rely on other people, you have to take control. – Ryan Lee TWEET
Abel: That’s a good one.
So, in business, you have to take control of your marketing. In life you have to take control of your health, your nutrition, your relationships.
Your ability to unplug and go for a walk and listen to some Abel James. Chill out like you are in control.
You can’t rely on other people to do it for you. That’s life. And it was a big life lesson for me.
Ryan’s 20 Minute Workout
Abel: Along those lines, you mentioned a workout that you do. Were you working out before then, when you were having health problems or was this something you started again? And what does it look like?
I’d always worked out, like from the time I was 12. I’ve always worked out in some way, shape, or form.
Abel: You were a sprinter, right? You were a runner?
Yah, I was a sprinter all through high school and college. I had a good career and school records. I was a pretty good sprinter. But my workouts as I started getting older started becoming less sporadic.
Some days it’ll be, “Alright, I’m just going to do like 20 pushups.”
It just wasn’t consistent. And some days, I’d go to the gym and lift weights, and some days I wouldn’t.
So, then I said, “I just need to find the most effective, efficient workout because my joints were bothering me, so I didn’t want to start sprinting again.
So, can I just share my workout, what I do?
Abel: Please do.
Okay. It’s called “The Wild Workout with Adel Jones.” No, just kidding.
So, it’s really simple. I wanted to combine some low intensity cardio stuff with some strength training.
So what I do is I go on the treadmill and I set it at the the highest incline, I do this in my house, highest incline, and I walk at about 4.1 miles an hour, so it’s like a fast walk.
Do that for exactly two minutes, press stop, jump off, carefully of course, 8 pull-ups, 15 pushups, 20 abdominal crunches with different types of abdominal exercises.
Back on the treadmill. Two minutes, hop off, 8, 15, 20. I do that for eight cycles.
It takes about 24, 25 minutes, done. That’s it.
Abel: Are you resting at all in between?
Abel: The exercises or just going straight from one to the other?
Treadmill, pull-ups, push-ups, crunch, back on.
So, I’m doing pushing movements, I’m doing pulling movements, I’ve got some of the cardio benefit at the high incline, it’s good for my lower body, I’ve got the abdominal stuff and then I do some stretching and mobility stuff as well, after. Just like foam rolling.
And that’s it, that’s all I do.
And by doing that, the workouts are part of it and obviously the nutrition is the other, and that’s how I’ve been able to transform my health, but that’s it.
And I always tell people, “You have to do what works for you, what fits into your lifestyle, and you enjoy.”
If you like yoga, do yoga, if you like CrossFit and it’s working for you and you’re not pulling your shoulder out of your socket, do CrossFit.
Seriously, if it works for you and you enjoy it. If you like playing tennis, play tennis.
Anyone who says, “This is the only workout to do and this is one.” It’s wrong.
If you like hiking, go hike. And you know, nutrition’s like 90% of it, anyway.
I could do these 20-minute workouts, and wash it down with three Big Macs and I’m not going to get fit. But it’s really more about doing what you like and the consistency of it.
Just being consistent. And for me, it’s at least five days a week that I do that workout. The other days, I’ll walk, I’ll play tennis, I play basketball with my kids, just staying active.
Every time I do conference calls, I put my headset on and I walk.
And sometimes I work for 45 minutes. So, that’s it, that’s my deal.
You have to find what works for you.
Abel: If you were flying to California taking that speaking gig, like some people who might be listening, how would you fit the workout in then or what would you do then?
It’s the highest priority. I just spoke at a big event in Toronto a couple of weeks ago, and I looked and I made sure the hotel had a gym. That was it. I brought my sneakers.
And I always get up early in the morning. I get up at about 5:45, 6:00 in the morning.
First thing I do, go downstairs and I got my workout in 20 minutes, done. If I’m traveling and there’s no gym, I’ll just do it without the treadmill. I’ll do push-ups.
You can actually hang off a door, it sounds crazy, but usually the the bathroom door in a hotel is pretty solid, go as close as you can to the joints, and hold on to the top.
Open the door, hold on to the top and pull-ups sliding up against the door, and do your crunches.
Abel: I’ve done things like that. I think at our size, we can handle that. Maybe not for the taller folks who are listening.
Well you have to bend your knees. Yah, if you’re like 5’8″ and under you’re good. And just find creative ways to do stuff, do push-ups against the bed, do a pushup with your feet on the wall. Your body is still your best training tool.
And everyone thinks you need weights and all this stuff and you really don’t.
You don’t. Oh, so here’s a cool workout that I’ve done in a hotel to break it up. We always go to North Carolina to see my wife’s family.
I said, “Let me try something different.”
So they have, it was, I think like an eight floor hotel. I find the emergency stairs, I go in the stairwell, walk up a flight, do five pushups on the landing, walk up another flight, five pushups, walk up another, all the way up to the top, down, do that a couple of times.
Man, so now I’m getting my cardio, I’m getting some lower body stuff, I’m getting some strength training in 15, 20 minutes, good to go.
Abel: Do you find that that when you started working out like that, that in some ways, made it easier to eat right, because you had momentum?
That’s the word, momentum. The hardest part, it’s like a fly wheel, the hardest part is getting started. Getting that momentum.
Once you get momentum, and you’re working out and you’re feeling good, it’s amazing, it helps so much.
But the key, it’s really you have to start your morning routine right. Whatever it is for you, in the morning, you have to get that routine dialed in and consistent. And what happens is you win the morning. You take that momentum into the afternoon.
Like okay, you know what? I feel good. I had something good in the morning. I got a quick workout in.
Now, for lunch, I don’t want to have a Subway 12″ turkey thing with all this crap on it.
So then you’re like, “You know what? I should have a better lunch. Let me have a salad with some good lean protein.”
And now you carry that momentum into dinner and if you do that, my whole philosophy is, I love the 80% rule.
80% of the time, eat really good clean stuff. The other 20%? Go crazy…
I love the movies. When I go to the movies I don’t care if it’s a wild diet, paleo, keto or not. I’m having some friggin’ popcorn.
I’m like a Pavlovian dog. I have to have some popcorn. And to tell me I could never have it again, we’re going to have some problems.
So eat right. Do the right thing 80% of the time. And 20%? Enjoy it.
And it’s a lot about planning. If you know you were going out tonight with your old high school buddies and you guys are meeting at a pizza place, and you know they have pizza and beer, and you like beer and you like pizza. So maybe you eat even cleaner during the day.
Okay, you know what? I’m going to make sure my breakfast and my lunch is going to be spinach with sardines and water all day. Have a really good workout.
So then at night, you know what? I can have a slice of pizza or two slices of pizza and have a beer and not feel so guilty about it and fall off the wagon. Just plan ahead.
Why You Shouldn’t Replace Vegetables with Cream Cheese & Bacon
Abel: That’s what it’s all about.
One of the worrying things for me is hearing so much about keto, and how great it is for all these people who are doing it, is the amount of foods that it kicks out forever and the way that a lot of people are bragging about how keto they are by peeing on sticks or getting blood testing.
Meanwhile, the pee stick companies and the blood testing companies are making a killing on this. And all the keto companies are making a killing.
But meanwhile people can’t eat popcorn. They can’t have that beer. They can’t have that pizza. Because they’re keeping it less than 20g of carbs a day.
Will it help you lose weight? Absolutely. So will not eating anything for a long time. Lots of things will help you lose weight.
So will living in the desert and starving yourself. So will cutting off your arm.
Abel: Right. Learning how to eat well. Learning how to eat in a balanced way, I believe, requires popcorn from time to time; requires beer perhaps from time to time.
I like the way you think.
Abel: This is our life, right?
Abel: This our sanity. How could you ever give all of this stuff up forever because someone says that you can’t eat any carbs, including vegetables? A lot of people have given up vegetables.
I’ve heard people, especially on social media, they were like, “I’ve given up The Wild Diet to go keto and I’m having great results.”
And it’s like, “So you’ve just given up vegetables? Is that what you’re doing here? How is that working for you?”
I’m substituting it with a big slab of bacon.
Abel: And just a whole bunch of cream cheese, just by the block.
You should see the comments we get on Facebook because our bar has dates.
If you look at the ingredients, it has dates, spinach, kale, almond butter, cashew butter, strawberries, blueberries, cherries. So we have carbs in there and they’re like, “Too many carbs.”
But it’s real food.
You need carbs. If you have zero carbs, you’re in big trouble. So just eat.
And maybe people don’t like popcorn but everyone has something they can like.
They have their thing. Maybe it’s potato chips, maybe it’s a chocolate bar, or whatever. I’ll tell you what mine is, soft baked chocolate chip cookies.
Gooey chocolate chip cookies out of the oven. Oh, that’s crack to me. So I have it once in a while. But I don’t have a dozen a day.
You know, use common sense. But eat right most of the time and enjoy that. That’s the key to life.
And if you lost some weight with keto, that’s great, but you’re probably not going to be able to keep it off if what you’re doing is not sustainable.
It’s not a sustainable way to live. You’re not living like that for 30 years. You’re not.
And any time you go “on a diet” you come off a diet and then you start eating crap. And then you’re going to gain the 50 pounds. And then you’ll look for the next thing.
Abel: How do you eat? You probably don’t call yourself paleo or keto or wild or anything like that.
I call myself a human freaking being.
Abel: Yah, you’re just eating food.
Yah, let’s eat. The human diet.
I have my bar in the morning with a glass of water. I’ll have a coffee or a latte later. I have a really good salad for lunch. My favorite salad, people think it’s disgusting. I freakin’ love it. A big bowl of greens, lots and lots of greens with sardines.
Abel: Ooh, sardines.
Sardines and greens. Ooh, Abel. It the greatest.
Abel: You are from the Bronx, aren’t you?
Well, I’m Jewish. That’s like my soul food. Sardines packed in olive oil.
Abel: Sardines are good for you, too.
I’d chop it all up. It is one of the healthiest foods on the planet.
Abel: Well that’s like a typical Caesar Salad, the way it’s supposed to be made.
Yah, the anchovies. But I don’t even like Caesar Salad with all that dressing. I use the olive oil that the sardines are packed in as my dressing.
So, I chop it all up, that’s my lunch and then for dinner I eat usually around 3 O’clock, I’ll have another bar and then at dinner I eat whatever I want. That’s it.
And a lot of times, because now I’m really loving salad, I’ll have another salad. I’ll have a big salad, maybe with a piece of salmon or tuna or chicken or something because, I like the vegetables. It tastes good. I like it chopped up.
Abel: It makes you feel good, right?
It does and I also like honey mustard, I’ll put a little honey mustard in it. Is it as healthy as extra virgin olive oil?
No, but it tastes freaking good and it makes me want to eat more salad. So 80% of my salad is good, 20% alright, not the greatest, but so what?
Abel: You have to be good to yourself. You have to give yourself permission to like what you like.
Yah, even with the salad. You know what I have sometimes with it? Some Pringles. Why not? I like a crunch.
Abel: I bet you get a lot of crap from the guys around you. Did they bust your chops, especially when you were trying to get healthier or were they pretty supportive?
Well, you know what? They were pretty supportive. I mean once in awhile if we go out to eat, I still eat at restaurants that I really like. When you go to a nice restaurant sometimes they do a really good salad.
Like, a big salad and they’ll put all this good stuff and they’ll have like cranberries in there with walnuts and like a big piece of salmon.
And they’ll be like “Oh, you’re getting a salad?”
I’m like “Yah.”
Abel: It’s like, there’s a whole lobster on this salad.
And they get a big heavy steak and potatoes with two beers and then afterwards they’re like, “Burrp.” And I know they’re going to feel it the next day.
But people have been really supportive with me on my mission, and I don’t judge others. Like, if you want to eat that and that makes you happy, you do you.
I don’t like when people say, “Oh, you shouldn’t be eating that.” I would never.
If they asked me for my advice, I’ll give it to them.
Maybe they’ll say, “Oh, you’re not drinking?”
Because I hardly ever drink. I just don’t like drinking. Once in a while I’ll have a beer, but I don’t drink wine, I just don’t like it.
So, people have been pretty supportive and when someone hasn’t seen me in like a year, they’re like “Oh my god!”
It’s funny, you don’t realize it. For some people who may be 20, 30 pounds overweight, you don’t realize it.
And then I remember my pants were starting to get tight. I was getting up in waist size and my pants were getting tight, I’m like, “Are these pants shrinking?”
You almost live in a denial because it creeps up very slowly until all of a sudden you’re like, “Oh, man, something’s wrong.”
But it’s more about health than weight. If you start eating right and you’re exercising, the scale is one indicator but your pants and your clothes, the way they fit, that is really the indicator that you’re getting fit and the weight comes off by itself.
Abel: Yah, your shape starts to change first, usually before the scale does anything and then people are like “Oh, my gosh, are my pants getting bigger?”
Your body composition changes. Especially if you’re doing some strength training because maybe your weight automatically doesn’t change but your body composition does, your percentage does.
So, if you go from 20% body fat to 18% body fat, but you’re the same weight, your body does change and all of a sudden your pant size goes down, even though your pounds didn’t drop.
The body fat percentage is really the thing. But people always want, you know, they want the six-pack abs, but to get six-pack abs you have to get your body fat under like 10% for a guy, maybe 15% as a woman, which isn’t that easy to do.
Another thing people don’t realize, when they see people on the cover of Men’s Health Magazine and Women’s Health and they’re all ripped, I know a lot of those models, they diet for weeks and weeks and months and limit all their water and everything up to that photoshoot. They don’t look like that.
Abel: Before they’re photoshopped.
Oh, yah. They do not look like that 24 hours a day, 365 days.
You could find someone today, right now, I guarantee any Men’s Health model right now on the street, tell them to take their shirt off, they will not look like what they look like on the cover.
They diet specifically for that photoshoot and people think they look like that. Oh, “get lean in six weeks.”
You’re not, it’s unrealistic to have a look like that unless you’re a professional fitness competitor. It’s really, really, really hard. It takes a lot of dedication to get that.
But, if you’re someone like me, like mid-40s, 50s coming up soon and you just want to feel better and you want to keep a lean weight and have a healthy heart and have energy, just 80% baby.
If I wanted to get lean like someone on the cover of Men’s Health, it’s 99%.
Abel: That’s true.
Then you can’t have the popcorn. You can’t.
Abel: Right and it gets harder over time. If you’re coming closer to your 50s, it’s going to be harder than your 40s and than 30s and that sort of thing. To get to those totally ripped body types that everyone’s talking about.
But most of the women who I’ve talked to don’t find that to be the most attractive look, so you have to ask yourself like, “Why is that the ideal?”
Is that really what our ideal as a culture should be, as men or as women? I don’t think so.
It’s not realistic.
Abel: I don’t think so. If those people who are there don’t even look like that, then that’s a problem.
Ryan’s Kids’ Reaction to the New Diet
Abel: Let’s switch gears a little bit because we’re coming up on time. How did your kids react to the way that you started eating when you changed your diet?
They’ve been eating even better with me. They like it.
And it’s funny. When you’re in it all day, you and your loved ones don’t see the changes on a day-to-day basis. But what they’ll do is, now when we look back at a family picture from two – three years ago they’ll be like, “Wow, Daddy, you were big. You look so different.”
They say that a lot. “You look different now.”
Abel: They can see it now, right?
Yah. And now they say, “Oh, Daddy, you really love salads don’t you?”
Abel: That’s cute.
And I’ll tell you, that was part of the inspiration for creating this new company and do this new bar. And my kids love the bars.
My daughter, who’s a competitive tennis player, she takes them to all her tennis matches, gives them to all the tennis players. They all have ’em. That’s like their routine now.
My kids, every morning they have the bars, they always take them with them to school. So the fact that they love the bars and they’re proud of what their dad has built, and building a company with integrity, and they love the way it tastes.
It’s just cool to be able to share that with them. I am so frickin’ blessed. And they love the whole ’80s record stuff too. So, double bonus.
Abel: Just like eating fruit bars and listening to records. But your bars, looking at the ingredients, are basically what Fruit Rollups should have been in a perfect world, right?
What Fruit Rollups could have been. Yah, if they had some greens and some almond butter. Exactly. I actually never even thought of it like that.
Abel: You’re welcome.
Yah, thank you. But the problem is, if Fruit Rollups created these they’d have to charge three bucks a Fruit Rollup instead of two dollars for a box of 10, or whatever it is… Five bucks for a box of 10.
Unfortunately it is a little bit more expensive for some of that stuff, but you always try to find ways to eat better.
We just did a survey this morning of our entire list. And I asked people, “Where are you in your health, 1 to 10? Give me a number.”
And then the other question is, “How come you’re not at a 10? If you’re not, why aren’t you there?”
And one person wrote, “I’m on a fixed income, and it’s too expensive to eat well so we have to eat fast food.”
And I get it, but you know what? If you think about my lunch, what I said, a bowl of lettuce. So you can buy the big container for about five bucks, and you could probably have four or five salads out of that.
So that’s about a dollar a salad. And a can of sardines is about two bucks.
So you’re looking at about $3.
So, it’s more expensive to go to the burger joint, because when you go to the burger place and you get a burger and fries and a drink, you’re looking at five, six, seven bucks.
I’m talking $3 for a salad.
So, it’s really not more expensive to eat well. You just have to be resourceful, and you have to look and find the right thing.
I mean, Costco or Sam’s Club or something, you could get a big thing of organic spinach for like five bucks. And that could be lunch for the entire week. Really.
Abel: Or Bachelor’s spinach, all that frozen stuff. It’s just a giant two pound bag of organic veggies, just throw it in a smoothie or a stir-fry or whatever. It’s so much cheaper than eating out.
It really is. And that’s a biggie when you start to eat at home versus eating out. Because even eating out, things that you think are healthy are not.
If you actually look at the caloric intake of a salad. If you go to some of these TGI Fridays, or whatever those places are, you get a salad. You’re like, “Oh, I’ll have a salad.” And then you’ll see, 1500 calories for a salad?
Abel: Should’ve gotten the cheesecake.
Like, what the heck? Because they put croutons on it, and fried noodles, and all this stuff. And to make things taste good in restaurants they put so much butter and so much salt on everything.
Abel: Hidden sugar too.
Yah, you’re much better off eating at home.
And so if you could eat at home, or at least pack something with you. Like we said earlier, just planning ahead. It takes all the pressure off.
Now some people like to do intermittent fasting. And I get it, and if that’s your jam, cool. I couldn’t do it, I was frickin’ starving. All I did was walk around like an animal looking for food.
I’m like, “I’m so hungry.”
So for me, the bar is good because I eat, it’s a 140 calories, seven grams of fiber. I walk out, I’m confident I’m not going to be like a ravenous animal.
Abel: This is after your workout, or before?
No. I actually work out a little bit later now. So usually sometimes 11 in the morning, sometimes not ’till three or four in the afternoon, it just depends. Because what I found is that I am mentally the sharpest in the morning.
Abel: Yah, me too.
Even though the workout’s only 20 to 25 minutes, I don’t want to waste that mental sharpness on something that I could do in my sleep.
So I’ve been booting the workout to later in the day, and it’s better for my business and I still find time. It’s only 20 minutes. And sometimes I do the workout at night after I put my kids to sleep.
Abel: Well especially when you can always tell yourself it’s only 20 minutes, it makes it a lot easier to find a slot for it, right?
When you have that, that you know it’s only going to be 20 minutes, I know exactly what it’s going to be. I listen to an audio book, sometimes listen to a little Abel James. The soothing vocal tones of the Abel James podcast.
Abel: Oh yah.
And the fact that I can do it at home, so I don’t have to spend 15 minutes going to a gym and showering and all that stuff. Just get it done.
It does, it takes so much pressure and stress off, and that leads to sticking with it.
Abel: Right on. Ryan, thank you so much. Your perspective is so unique. You have so much experience in places that very few people have ever seen. And I really thank you for being so generous with your time and your knowledge.
You’re just a swell guy. We’ve known each other a while, and I really like your perspective, not only to business but to health and life in general. So kudos to you, and you’re welcome back any time.
Well, I appreciate it. And thank you so much for having me on. And you know me. I’m a fan of what you do and how you show up every day in life and in business and in relationships and everything.
And you’re doing it, and I’ve always loved the fact you’ve done this and been in this world, and led and done it with integrity. Which not a lot of people can say that. So I’m always going to support you and what you do. So thank you.
Abel: Thank you so much Ryan. Really appreciate that.
Before You Go…
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