Achieving truly balanced well-being can be something of a challenge to most people because without guidance, most of the time, it’s hard to know exactly where to start. If you break it down, there are core elements to balanced well-being that you can look at as sort of a reference point, to try to locate yourself, and chart your journey going forward. Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen dive into the first three elements of a journey towards balanced well-being. It’s all about the starting point. Jason and Whitney teach you these core elements so you know where to begin, and you can take the reins from there!
Sign up for free copies of “You Are Enough” and “Blissful, Balanced, and Badass” eBooks here: https://www.wellevatr.com/You-Are-Enough-Opt-in
Listen to the podcast here:
7 Steps To More Bliss, Balance And Well-Being (Part 1)
I received an email from somebody who had signed up for one of our free resources on Wellevatr. For anyone who has not visited our website yet, we have a lot of free resources, eBooks and video trainings. What do we have besides eBooks?
Also incredible blog posts. We’ve got dozens of deep, resourceful blog posts as well. I would consider that free content.
There’s a lot of value-add on the website. She had heard us in a summit that we had been part of, the Happiness Summit.
“Make Happiness Your Bottom Line”
She downloaded our eBook, You Are Enough, which is one of my personal favorites. If you’re reading this thinking, “That sounds good,” that’s on our website. She was writing to us because she loved an eBook that I forgot we had because it was a bonus. It’s a hidden resource. We do have two eBooks. We have You Are Enough and we also have Take Charge!. Those are two eBooks on the frontend, but on the back-end, you also offered a little bonus freebie, which is Blissful, Balanced & Badass. I had completely forgotten about it. She emailed us and said, “I love this eBook. I felt like you were talking directly to me.” The eBook’s subtitle is 7 Steps to Strip Away the BS, Elevate Your State of Being, and Light up Your Life With Love. You have to sign up for the You Are Enough eBook first and then we’ll send you an email. The second time we email you will be this bonus. We were trying to load it up. Jason, when did you write this eBook? Remind me of the process because I completely forgot about it. It’s not a Wellevatr eBook. It’s a special Jason Wrobel eBook.
In 2017, I was doing a rebrand of my website, a complete redesign. I was in the launch mode for my website, JasonWrobel.com. As I was concurrently redesigning my website and launching my online course, My Healthy Hustle, I wanted to offer a brand-new opt-in gift on my website to get new email subscribers. Give people also a flavor for where my brand was heading, which was not just being a chef, but also to incorporate mental wellness, exercise, productivity, resourcefulness, planning and the seven pillars of wellness as I see them.
Technically, you had six pillars in here. It was food, fitness, relationships, mindfulness, productivity, organization. What’s the seventh then?
As you’re reading it, the whole point was I wanted to give people a flavor of my research and my focus, which was moving and expanding beyond food into other avenues of wellness and becoming more of a lifestyle focus rather than a food focus. We’ve talked about this in the identity episode about when you put a title on yourself like a chef or coach or wellness expert or whatever, people have a deep association, especially if you’ve reinforced that over years of producing content. This was my attempt around late 2017, 2018 to start to rebrand myself as an overall lifestyle and a wellness expert, a coach or person that can support others rather than, “He’s just the chef.” We’ve talked about that. This eBook was the first foray into I suppose, rebranding, reconditioning people to say, “He has resources on exercise, productivity, mindfulness and mental health. Yes, he’s still going to give us recipes but it’s not just going to be about that.” That was the whole purpose and intent in writing this book. Honestly, I still use it as an opt-in gift. It’s still something that’s going on.
People are getting it when they sign up for Wellevatr.
I genuinely forgot that we had offered it as a bonus of a bonus from our resources on Wellevatr because I had only been exclusively using it on my website to get opt-ins, grow my list and give people a flavor of my new brand and the new direction of my teaching. First of all, I love that our people are downloading it. Second of all, I want to touch on a point that is to me as a writer and a communicator. Whenever I do my writing, I am always trying to make it feel conversational as if it feels like that person is in the room with me and we’re having a conversation like you and I. To get that feedback on a piece of writing that I’ve done is meaningful to me because rather than being written at or spoken at, to have it be conversational and flowing and feel like I’m in the room with her, that means the world to me as a writer. That’s what I try to aim to do as a writer. Thank you for sharing that.
She requested that you did an audiobook version of it. I thought that was good feedback as well. I told her, “Why don’t we talk about it on the podcast because it might take some time if you decide to turn it into an audiobook.” We could at least touch upon some of the points in this episode to give people a little taste of what they’ll receive in the book.
These pillars are relevant to what we like to talk about with our Wellevatr teachings. It’s not one particular dimension of wellness or lifestyle transformation, but it’s a multidimensional, multifaceted approach, which is certainly our collective approach to want to help people change their lives here with our brand.
I’m curious who made this eBook because it’s visually pleasing?
Our mutual friend, Nathaniel Solace. He’s a wonderful player in the transformational world and a wonderful designer. He is also a great creator and producer of online courses. He has online courses, does retreats and supports other creators, coaches and transformational leaders in optimizing their message. He not only designed this eBook with me, he also designed the MyHealthyHustle.com website. I love that website and I want to relaunch it. I want to refresh and relaunch. If people want to use the code Wellevatr, you’ll get 20% off your enrollment. It’s a six-week online course, My Healthy Hustle, which I created. It’s video-driven. You have homework, prompts, PDFs every week, and have email access to me.
This episode will be a bit of a taste of My Healthy Hustle because we’re going to talk about this eBook, which you can go download for free. I’m going to read the first page of the eBook. I don’t think I’ve ever read it myself. “You’ve probably been sold the idea that personal transformation is tough, that it’s a long, hard, arduous, painful road with lots of bumps, bruises and bottomless pits along the way. Yes, life will test you, of that there is no doubt. It’ll test you to see how much you want to grow to evolve and to claim the mantle of the life you were meant to live. It’ll test you to see how many French fries you can eat in one night. My beautiful friend, you’re going to get your ass kicked a few dozen times until you figure out that it doesn’t have to be hard all the time.”Food represents many layers in a person's psyche. Click To Tweet
It’s interesting too because getting uncomfortable, the theme of this podcast, is much about personal transformation. It can go either way where some people are afraid of how hard it’s going to be. They’re like, “I don’t want to get uncomfortable. This is going to get uncomfortable.” Things get uncomfortable, whether you want them to or not. I was coming up for me as I’m reflecting over this and it’ll test you to see how much you want to grow and part of growth happens when you get outside your comfort zone.
That’s one of the basic tenants of why we chose to do this podcast and what we encourage people to do, which is go into the dark cave where the thing that you fear lives because they’ll find out that maybe when you get inside the cave and you face it, it’s not as scary as you thought it was. Where the idea of something being scary and confronting when you get into the reality of facing that thing, the fear dissipates because you chose to face it.
Let’s go into the first section, which is about food. It starts by saying, “Food, it’s such a ferociously passionate topic for people. We have many associations with our food choices. Food provides us with not only physical nourishment but also emotional comfort, a sense of connection with people and a feeling of community and unfortunately often a substitute for real human connection.”
We touched upon this a little bit when we talked about it in The Five Addictions. For me, food represents many layers in people’s psyche. There’s the actual pleasure, the chemical release of having the substances and the compounds in the food have a reaction in your body and affect your neurotransmitters, blood sugar, hormones, physical being. On a cultural and spiritual and emotional level, food has many other meanings for people as well. One of the biggest things that I’ve noticed in my sugar addiction, which I’ve touched upon, was that when I started to feel lonely, disconnected, longing for someone, feeling like I wasn’t being filled up with love in my life, I was using sugary foods and heavy foods as a substitute for the connection that I wanted to be filled up by something. What I was wanting to be filled up with was love, connection and feeling vulnerable with another human being.
I’m fascinated by food and food will always be something I certainly will teach on and coach people with. I know that you’re also super passionate about food, Whitney. That’s one of the first things that united us as friends and colleagues. It is multilayered and multifaceted in what it represents for human beings. I don’t know how much pleasure say our dogs or our cats get from the meeting. It seems like they do get some pleasure, but we use it for many other reasons, to connect with family and neighbors and community, but we also use it as a crutch. We also use it as an addictive mechanism as well. Looking at our collective relationship with food is an incredibly important and one of the most important parts of a wellness regimen. It has to be.
You say, “Too often we fought, we fly through our meals, never tasting or savoring the food. We have one hand on our forks and one hand on our cell phones. As a society, we are losing the art of presence during meals.” I often wonder how many people take photos of their food because this is something that you and I often do, Jason, photos or videos. We do this because it’s part of our work as content creators or we’ve made it part of our work with Instagram in particular and for me with TikTok. I do a lot of capturing things with food. My aim is always like, “How quickly can I take a picture or capture a video so I can put my phone away?” I’m also working on putting my phone away for the meal that I’m having with somebody else or even myself. I suppose if I’m sitting by myself, being on my phone doesn’t serve me.
In general, I’m trying to spend less time on my phone, but it is challenging. I am curious and if you, the reader would love to share this with us on social media or leave a comment on the post at Wellevatr.com that goes with this episode, how many people reading, take pictures or videos of their food? Is it something that social media content creators or influencers do, or is it something that a lot of people do? What’s the purpose of it? Every once in a while, it’ll be like, “Let me send a photo of this to my friend to tell them how good the meal is.” Maybe they’re on Yelp or some review platform, blogging, whatever. Does the average person take a lot of pictures of their food?
They do. Having done the pretty regular speaking tour for the past years, where I go on the road a lot to do conferences and festivals and whatnot, I’ll have non-influencers, people that are not using social media, mailing lists or any of the digital marketing as a platform for their business. They’re a person who on social media sharing their life. I’ve had a lot of those people come up to me and be like, “You have to see this picture of this amazing salmon that I cooked with this arugula salad.” They’re taking pictures because they’re proud of what they made in their home kitchen or say how artfully they plated it. This happens more regularly than you might think. They would come up to me and say, “I need to show you a picture of this amazing lentil ragu that I made or this salmon steak or this smoothie.”
That makes sense if they’re making a meal that you would want to take a picture. I’m thinking also of taking pictures when you go to a restaurant or something like that. That’s what I had in my mind but that’s a good point. I suppose people probably do take a lot of photos of the food that they create.
Because they’re proud of it, they’re like, “Look what I did.” They don’t want to do it professionally, but they’re proud of the artfulness. As an example, my doctor, Dr. Alan Green who helped me with a lot of my neurotransmitter issues and my brain health, my mental health. He has taken trips to different countries to learn from the chefs in those countries. He’s a medical doctor. He’s entrenched in his business, but he’s passionate about food that even at some of our appointments, seeing my doctor, he would show on his phone, he’s like, “Look at this Pad Thai I made from scratch.” I’m like, “Dr. Green, that’s good.” We would geek out on food, me and my doctor. He loves it because he’s passionate about food.
He went to Thailand to learn from Thai chefs how to make Thai food. To your point, there are probably more than a few people out there who are foodies. They’re not doing it professionally. They’re not like us. They’re not food bloggers or people in the wellness industry. They love food and they want to be creative. For some people, food is a meditation. In the busyness of their work-life or their family life or their responsibilities, people have told me on more than one occasion that spending time in the kitchen making a meal from scratch and capturing it and feeling proud of their creativity, it’s a meditative release for them. That’s also another layer of the food conversation as some people have a therapeutic relationship with food.
One thing I like about this book too is that every section ends with a superhero action step. For food, you said, “Take the time out to savor the ritual of making a meal for yourself and your loved ones,” which may or may not include a picture of your food. “Truly practice being present to every element of making the meal from the buying of the produce to the washing of the vegetables to the preparation and finally to the physical and emotional sensations of taking the nourishment into your body. Practice presence with nourishing yourself. It is one of the most subtle yet powerful acts of love.”
Too often we sit down with the meal with our phone or some other device of distraction and we don’t even remember what it tasted like. All of a sudden, we look down and the bowl is empty and it’s like, “I don’t even remember what this tasted like.” More than anything being present, whether or not you want to close your eyes, but taking in that first bite of food and being super present to the texture, the flavor, the smell, the mouthfeel. There’s an appreciation and a depth that you experience by savoring a meal with that level of presence. You’re honoring the experience that way. You’re honoring the food. You’re honoring whether it’s a person at a restaurant that made the meal over. You’ve taken the time out of your day to prepare this meal for yourself. It’s an honor. To me, that level of presence with food can help train us to be present during the conversation, moments with our child or our loved ones. This presence practice with making and savoring at least that first bite is great training.
It also helps you tune in to when you’re full. Sometimes we eat way too much and we get an upset stomach, we feel bloated or we’re taking in more calories or macros than we need. That can lead to a lot of frustration. Tuning into why you’re eating what you’re eating? That’s always fascinating. The more that you can step back and examine your food choices teaches you a lot about your mental state.
I also feel that there’s a deeper level of satisfaction when you are genuinely hungry and you eat versus boredom, loneliness, stress, anxiety eating. When I genuinely feel hunger and hear my stomach growling or feel like, “My body is telling me a clear signal that it is time to nourish myself,” the level of satisfaction and fulfillment from that meal is much greater. When we eat, it’s because we are hungry and not for any of those other emotional reasons or societal pressures. To me, I want to feel that level of satisfaction, that appreciation for a meal. It’s like, “The flavors seem to burst and exploding your mouth in a completely different way.” As opposed to, I feel like sometimes we’ll have eaten and then we’ll get a call from our friend like, “Do you want to go out for ramen?” It’s like, “I just ate but I want to see you. I’m going to go out and eat again.” You’re not hungry. The meal is not that satisfying.
Since you mentioned Pad Thai and also we’re talking about the quality of food, there’s this new restaurant called Love that opened up in West Hollywood, Los Angeles. It’s an organic vegan restaurant. Technically, everything’s plant-based, non-GMO and a great majority of their ingredients are organic as available. It’s interesting because it’s similar to a lot of vegan Thai restaurants that I’ve been to, but the prices are much higher. For example, a lot of their dishes are $18 there. Whereas you could find them for $11 at a comparable restaurant. When I finished eating my meal, I ended up speaking to one of the owners at the restaurant. She was saying that the prices are because much of it is organic and she’s having high-quality ingredients. She’s careful about what types of oil she uses, which is rare and talking about how much that bumped up the price and then the level of service you get at her restaurant is much better than a lot of comparable Thai restaurants. This place is a fusion. They have Japanese food, too.
It was interesting to think about this idea of wanting to get inexpensive food too. People get used to convenience food, fast food, cheap food. When you pay attention to how things are made and who’s making them and the love that goes into them, this place is nice because they have a beautiful environment that’s unusual for a restaurant of its category and great service. You feel like you’re at a higher-end restaurant, yet people on Yelp were criticizing the prices. I saw mostly positive reviews on Yelp, but I brought it up to this co-owner. She was saying, “A lot of people are frustrated with the prices.” That broke my heart a little bit thinking, “Here she is trying to do the right thing and create a great experience for people where they want to be present and everything’s beautiful and it’s presented in front of you with much love.” The name of the restaurant is called Love and the service is great. They’re taking the time to train their staff and they present these incredible dishes in front of you with high-quality ingredients. You’re paying an extra $7 and yet some people get outraged over that. It’s fascinating how people respond to their food in such unique ways.
First of all, the analogy that I love to bring up regarding how we treat our bodies is, of course, a car reference, an automotive reference. It’s easy for me because I’m a car guy. Let’s say your body’s a Ferrari. You treat your body as a Ferrari and it’s this beautiful vessel, this thing that you’re investing in this thing that is valuable to you. You’re not going to go and put 87 octane fuel. You’re not going to put the lowest grade fuel. Some states have 93 octanes. You’re going to put the absolute most premium fuel in your Ferrari, your human body. To me, I look at spending higher prices on food as an investment in my long-term health and vitality.
The reality also is that if we look at the financial and political dynamics of food, the reason that food is cheap is it’s the illusion of inexpensiveness. The subsidies on genetically modified crops and feed crops, corn, wheat, soy, oats, the government subsidize meat and dairy and feed crops. When businesses are using meat and dairy and feed crops that are subsidized by the US government, that’s not the actual price. That’s the price reflective of the subsidies subtracted from those foods. If those were the actual price, McDonald’s or Burger King at all would not be at those price points. We’re not paying the real price for those foods. We’re paying the subsidized price thanks to the government.
When you see an $18 dish of organic, non-GMO, locally sourced Pad Thai ingredients, this restaurant owner is mindfully bucking that trend and saying, “No matter what, I’m going to get the highest quality ingredients possible.” Those are not subsidized. Those farmers are hopefully making a living wage. In the dynamics of the political and socioeconomics of food, not only the amount of money it takes to even open a restaurant, which is in Los Angeles, hundreds of thousands of dollars. To me, having worked in the food business understand it. I go in knowing that, and it doesn’t mean I’m giving a restaurant a pass if the food or the service is bad, but I know the blood, sweat, tears and money equity that’s going into that for them to open.
For me, I’m coming in knowing this person’s sacrificed much to open this restaurant. If they made a commitment to not rely on subsidized unhealthy foods but make a commitment to organic, non-GMO local ingredients, I want to support that and I’m glad to pay the extra money. There’s an education component, Whitney, that also goes in where people don’t understand the dynamics and economics of our food supply nor what it takes to even get a restaurant open in the city like Los Angeles. Props to anybody who’s in the food business on a restaurant level that is hard backbreaking work on every level. I have massive respect for that.
On the topic of non-GMO, our friend Max Goldberg has an incredible newsletter called Organic Insider. The edition of this newsletter is about how COVID-19 aka the Coronavirus is affecting organic business. It was super fascinating. I haven’t read it in detail yet, but I’ll give you the summary that I scanned. He interviewed a bunch of leaders of organic companies to learn how the virus has impacted their business. It sounds like it’s impacting them in a positive light. Because of people’s purchasing decisions, they have seen a surge because people are prioritizing their health and the safety of their lives. We see a lot of people buying more toilet paper and hand sanitizer and washing their hands, but they’re also buying a lot of shelf-stable foods.
One of the people that he spoke with makes powdered cookie mixes. People are buying that. He spoke to the president of Dr. Bronner’s and they saw unit sales of their sanitizer internationally go up 600%. I love Dr. Bronner’s. I love this input from Vani Hari, also one of our friends and she runs a great brand called Truvani. I know we might even have a discount code for Truvani. Both of us do some work with Truvani and they have phenomenal high-quality products. I love that she said this, “Companies are getting caught gouging customers during a time of need. Not only is this wrong, but it’s also the opposite of what responsible, trustworthy companies should do. That’s why at Truvani, we’ve decided to offer our products on sale.
People are buying more than ever and we feel like it’s up to us to make it easier for people to get the supplements they need with a discount.” I don’t know how long their sales are going on, but they’re great company. That touched me, reading that and showed me how dedicated they are to health. The chief merchandising officer at Thrive Market, which is another great company where you can get incredible pricing on all healthy foods. They are seeing a lot of people stock up on things as well. They’re building inventory on immunity cleaning and pantry staples. They’re also committed to not engage in surge pricing. It’s a wonderful piece that he did. I don’t know if it’s publicly available. Organic Insider is a subscription-based newsletter, but it’s 100% worth it. If you’re looking for information about organic living, organic foods, he is my number one source because he is in the know. The founder of Trader Joe’s passed away. This is also a bullet point in his newsletter. Did you see that, Jason?
I didn’t see that. I used to work for Trader Joe’s. That was an interesting period of my life.
Trader Joe’s is a great place to get organic foods as well. A lot of non-GMO foods doesn’t have to be organic. I went there and did some stocking up of my food supply in case we go into a difficult period and we’re not able to get out to the stores due to this virus.
I want to comment on the stocking up because if the reader has not seen or heard this yet, the first live episode we did about our thoughts on the energetic physical social dynamics of the Coronavirus. We go in-depth on that.
There’s a post up at Wellevatr.com on it too. If you want to read it and watch it.Move a muscle, change a thought. Click To Tweet
Since then you’ve gone to Trader Joe’s and stocked up and I’ve gone to Costco. One of the things that I found super encouraging, first of all, whether or not a quarantine does happen in Los Angeles or anywhere near us in Southern California or perhaps have another earthquake, I realized that my preparedness in case my power goes out or the water goes out or something happens with the government and whatever. I realized I didn’t have more than say six days’ worth of food. It’s like, “What if I go and get some non-perishable stuff and stock it up in the garage?” I have a shelf set up in the garage, “To make sure I have three weeks or months’ worth of food.” I bought a lot of stuff. The cool thing though, I wanted to say because with a friend of ours Vince Lee. We did a video about vegan food at Costco. There are many options at Costco. It’s mind-blowing. I was scouring and with my mentor Michael, we walked every single aisle and the amount of organic non-GMO plant-based options, the amount of superfoods they have there, it’s incredible.
What are some of the highlights, things that you’re like, “I can’t believe they have them here?”
Organic unsweetened oat milk, it’s phenomenal.
By who? Is it a Costco brand?
It was the Kirkland Costco brand because they have a private label.
Even Trader Joe’s has oat milk.
It’s hard to find unsweetened sometimes. This was unsweetened organic, non-GMO oat milk. They had giant 2, 3-pound bags of Manitoba Harvest Organic Hemp seeds. They had organic blueberries, organic strawberries, frozen and fresh. They had four different vegan superfood organic protein powders there. They had coconut oil. They had Sacha inchi seeds.
All at good prices? Was it a good value?
Phenomenal prices and that’s the point I wanted to make. One of the barriers or the concerns that people have, and I understand it’s warranted because organic, non-GMO food is not subsidized by the government or any corporate entity that it is more expensive. When you go to a place like Costco, not only is the array of options and availability mind blowing to me but knowing what I pay retail for a sixteen-ounce bag of hemp seeds, the price per pound when I go there and buy a 2 or 3-pound bag, it’s for double or triple the volume, I’m paying the same price I would pay for a pound at the retail level.
You and I have talked a lot about this. You have an amazing book, Healthy, Organic, Vegan on a Budget. I want to reinforce that you can find ways to save a lot of money. Not have to go out to that sounds such an old school hell and gone outside to find at local Costco. I even talked to my mom in Detroit, she’s like, “We have tons of organic vegan, plant-based superfood options at the Costco in Detroit.” It’s not a Cali thing. For people wanting to eat more organic, non-GMO food or stock up for emergency supplies, go get a basic membership at Costco. You save a ton of money.
You can sign up for Thrive as well because you can get that delivered to you. I don’t know if they do it internationally, but that’s another option if traveling is a concern if maybe there isn’t a nearby Costco. There are amazing memberships that will give you wholesale prices on organic food. It’s worth looking into. Let’s go back to the eBook because we touched upon food so far. The next category in the book is about fitness and your section starts with, “Move a muscle, change a thought.” Jason says that’s one of his favorite quotes from his mentor and good friend Ron. “Until you heard that you had never considered fitness to be anything more than a mechanical activity to achieve the body you wanted. Your relationship to fitness from your high school days of track to dabbling in yoga and weightlifting has primarily been ego-driven. You were working out because you weren’t feeling good enough about yourself but reframing your relationship to fitness made all the difference.”
For me, it was a massive shift in this thing that I was doing because I thought I had to look a certain way or be a certain weight. There’s an aesthetic of being muscular, ripped or strong as a man in society. Subconsciously that was fueling, especially when I was doing competitive sports like track or basketball, this idea of being the best and beating everyone else, deep competitive mindset, but transcending those things. There’s nothing wrong with those things, but for me, I never realized that for my mental and emotional wellness that I could approach fitness differently. If I could use it as a mechanism to feel more connected to myself, feel more mentally balanced, feel more emotionally, then that to me is a deeper motivation.
To me, that’s a more sustainable motivation because whenever I win a basketball game or win a track, you get that euphoria but it fades pretty quickly and then you want to win again. Martina Navratilova, one of the greatest tennis players of all time said, “The moment of victory is too short to live for that and nothing else.” On some level chasing the aesthetic appeal of six-pack abs, big muscles or for men and women, whatever the aesthetic in the mind is or winning at a team sport, the gratification of those things I don’t think lasts long. You’re constantly chasing something.
It’s not always what you think it’s going to be. For me, I remember when I started going to my hot yoga studio, which I’m a member of for years. I was drawn to go there because my friend told me that was the way that she got in the best shape of her life. I’m thinking, “I already liked yoga. I already enjoyed hot yoga.” She was like, “I went to classes for 30 days and I have a flat stomach,” which has been a goal of mine for so long. It’s like, “How can I flatten my stomach?” I have taken countless hot yoga classes at this incredible studio and they involve cardio, weightlifting, crunches, Pilates, Barre ballet type moves and all these different types of fitness and yoga combined plus the element of hot yoga. I thought I was going to get these incredible physical results.
I think about it almost every time I go to class because no matter how consistent I am with those workouts, I’ve never gotten a flat stomach from them. Part of that is because for my body, in particular, food plays a bigger role than fitness. I tend to slim down more if that’s a goal of mine when I’m mindful of things like sugar. That’s part of the reason that I tried out the vegan keto diet and wrote the book about it. I had tremendous results from that more so than years of working out. It was this eye-opener. Similar to what you’re saying, Jason, I went into a lot of my fitness classes hoping to get physical results. Sometimes I’ll ask myself, “Why am I continuing to go to class despite the fact my body isn’t looking the way that I thought it was going to or it’s not getting the results that I was promised, the marketing or my friends was saying that worked for her?”
To your point, Jason, it is much about the holistic side of it. It’s impacting me mentally, physically and emotionally and I get a sense of community going to work out. I feel rejuvenated not from the fitness but the meditation at the end of class and the sweating because it’s a hot room. Being around people that I’m getting to know and the bonding I have with my teachers and the other students. There’s a whole experience to it. Something is motivating me much more than the ego-driven side of it, which is important. Maybe the ego leads you to do an exercise, but then you find out much more than the benefits are more than you anticipated.
Going back to the why, am I working out or engaging in a fitness routine because there was a part of me that believes once I get to a certain number in my weight, my bust, my waistline or my booty gets to be a certain size, then I’ll love myself. Once I get to that point, then I’ll feel desirable, respected, womanly or manly. Once my biceps are a certain size, I can bench an amount of weight or squat an amount of weight. We’ve talked much about the hang-up with numbers and self-worth in our society. To a large degree, I don’t know that a lot of people are aware of what’s motivating them. They think maybe there’s a surface level motivation. “I want to be in shape, but I want to feel better.” I know for me that if I’ve dug into my motivations around a lot of things in life, what I think is the surface level motivation is never what is subconsciously motivating. For a lot of things that I feel I’ve been motivated by, whether making seven figures a year, be able to bench this amount of weight, be able to dunk in a basketball game or drive this car, whatever it is and it’s something external.
It’s always been a subconscious but then it was made conscious motivation that once I can do be or have that thing, then I’ll feel good, desirable, successful, but enough for what? Is it for love, approval, acceptance? As humans we’re all chasing the same things, but the question is do you want to be chasing those things or can we somehow cultivate approval for ourselves? It doesn’t mean we’re not going to strive to lose weight or feel better or get in shape, but not this carrot in a stick situation of, “I’m not going to love and approve of myself until I get there.” There’s always going to be a there. There’s always something else to chase. My relationship to fitness was, you’re not manly enough, your manhood isn’t developed unless you’re this big, tough whatever thing that society and culture tell you should be. If you don’t look like one of the guys on the cover of Men’s Health Magazine, you’re not a man. It was like, “This doesn’t have to do shit with masculinity at all.” This is the same thing. Whether it’s Cosmopolitan or Men’s Health or a billion other media enterprise saying, “You’re not man enough or woman enough unless you look and act and be like these people.”
You’re not getting results. For me, I was reflecting on that in my yoga class is sometimes I feel shame. I go to a yoga studio in Beverly Hill and it is pretty much what you would imagine. It’s full of your stereotypical, I don’t know if anybody is a model. I’m sure a number of them are social media influencers. Maybe they are models, but most of the women are in phenomenal shape and they’re young, beautiful and wearing nice clothes. They’ve got a lot of that appearance going on that you associate with Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, Hollywood. The reason I go there is that I love the teachers at this studio, but I would prefer not to be surrounded by people that seem a bit absorbed in their appearance. Maybe that’s my perception.
My point being that for me it’s tough to be around women like that because I started to wonder, “Do I look good enough? Do I fit in here? Are my clothes at the same level as theirs? How do I look in my tight pants and the fitness tops that I’m wearing? I don’t have a flat stomach and I have curvy hips. Maybe my breasts aren’t the same as these women. I don’t do Botox or anything.” I don’t have that perfect figure. I don’t think most women do. It’s that when you live in a city like Los Angeles, especially if you’re going to a high-end fitness studio and Beverly Hills, you’re in the concentration of “perfect looking people.” I’m sure men have this too.
What I’ve had to work through is a lot of like, “I’m going to go there and be me and own me and work through any shame or fears of judgment around how I look. Also, not beat me up for not having a flat stomach.” Part of what I’ve had to process over time is, “Why didn’t I get in as good shape as my friend? I’ve been going to yoga for years and I don’t have those results that she said she got in 30 days.” We’re sold this constantly in marketing, whether it’s magazines or even the websites, the marketing that fitness studio put out there. They always show fit, attractive people. We see this on Instagram and all these different media outlets promoting a certain aesthetic. If you don’t get those results, you start to think, “What’s wrong with me?” You start to wonder, “Am I not doing a good enough job? Am I doing something wrong?”
This came when a conversation with a friend of mine and she was speaking bluntly. I might not sound sensitive and perhaps it wasn’t, but she was like, “None of my friends that do yoga are in that greatest shape. I don’t think it makes much of a difference.” Part of her point was, here you are doing all of this fitness work and your body is still not perfectly physically fit. It shines the light on how we had this idea that if somebody works out a lot that they’re going to get great results. I’m a perfect example of somebody working out consistently for many years and I don’t have that flat stomach. I’m somebody who, if I wanted a flat stomach, it’d have to come from food and probably some fitness as well. Working out alone does not get my body that flat toned stomach and toned body and all that stuff that a lot of people think they’re going to get when they go into exercise.
This is fitness and exercise and our relationship with our body, in general, is such a wonderful mechanism to understand ourselves more. It’s a great tool for self-realization for many reasons for what is it? What is the genuine real, deepest motivation behind it? If people are willing to look at themselves on a deeper level, those things will come up. They did for me and that was my whole point in this eBook. I was writing that section about how can we reframe or refocus our relationship to fitness, not just in ego at core competitive mindset, but maybe on a deeper level for spiritual growth too? Fitness as a mechanism for spiritual and personal growth.
You set in your superhero action step, “Whatever it is, be adventurous, be courageous and move your body in a new way you’ve never done before. The change will do you good in many ways.” You were encouraging people to try something that they hadn’t done and find what feels good to them so that they can feel good physically, mentally and emotionally.
I say that because maybe if a person is, going to the gym five days a week, but they don’t like it, then on a certain level it’s like, “Why don’t you change it up?” Maybe if you were to go on a hike or go rock climbing or go swimming or try a bike. We’re creatures of habit, human beings, and we get stuck in a routine where we think we ought to be doing things. I want to get six-pack abs or a big booty or a big butt, whatever the thing is aesthetical. I need to go to the gym and lift weights five days a week. It’s this driven grind mentality that everyone’s like, “The rent is due, let’s go, come on everyone hustle.” That mentality sometimes can come at the sacrifice. That grind, hustle driven mentality can come at the sacrifice of joy and connection. If we’re not feeling joyfully connected to ourselves, but our exercise and fitness routines, it’s a good time to experiment and try something that might make you feel more joyful while you’re getting a good workout.
That is the perfect segue into the third section of the book, which is about relationships. It starts with this opening page, which says, “Everything is a perfect mirror in your life. Everyone you choose to have in your life is showing you some important things about yourself, should you choose to notice them. This can be maddening, especially if we feel frustrated, hurt, wounded or abandoned by someone. Yet, if we can cultivate true loving awareness in these moments, we can see a part of ourselves in the other person we are getting triggered by. There’s a theory that the things we get triggered by in our closest relationships are showing us the deepest unresolved parts of ourselves that need more love, attention, acceptance and healing. Truly, I think our relationships can be our greatest teachers.”
That still rings true and relevant as you’re reading it back to me, Whitney, because one of my deepest wounds is abandonment. I wrote that with this idea that having a perception of being abandoned by someone. I have descended a lot to do victim consciousness at times of they abandoned me, let me go, let me down, hurt me. As I’ve stepped back and done some healing around my abandonment as an example of this idea of people mirroring things or offering you opportunities to get to know yourself or heal more, in a lot of situations, especially as an adult, particularly where I felt abandoned by someone, I spun the question. I ask myself, “How did I abandon me in that situation?” In every single situation, I’ve asked that question of perceiving this person let me down. This person abandoned me.
The turnaround for me was they never abandoned me. Life has never abandoned me. God, spirit, the universe hasn’t abandoned me but there have been times where I’ve abandoned myself in the sense of I didn’t speak my truth, I didn’t ask for what I wanted. I didn’t say what was on my mind or my heart at the moment. I told a lie or told someone why I thought they wanted to hear. In those moments, I’ve acknowledged that in certain relationships I’ve abandoned myself. It’s easy to feel like we’re victims. It’s easy to feel like other people are doing things to us. Believe me, even in our relationship having dated and also been friends and business partners, you and I have had friction. We’ve had times where there was massive tension and anger and pain and let down. I let you down. I showed up 45 minutes late for a show we were supposed to do and have do apologize like, “I messed up. I’m sorry.”Our relationships can truly be our greatest teachers over time. Click To Tweet
In moments of rather than blame and putting the onus on someone else, it’s like, “How did I mess up? How did I abandon myself? How did I let myself down? How did I break my word to me?” Often it has nothing to do with that other person. It has to do with our relationship with ourselves. We show up in a relationship with whatever wounds, unintended baggage or unresolved things within ourselves and they color the relationships we’re in. I wrote that simply because I wanted to start taking more responsibility in my life and encourage other people to do the same. It doesn’t mean that people don’t intentionally hurt us. Sometimes that does happen. People that are intentionally mean or do intentionally hurt us. In a lot of situations, the real healing begins when we ask better quality questions instead of why did I get abandoned, let down or hurt? How did I abandon myself? How did I let myself down? How did I show up in a way that wasn’t honoring, loving or respectful of me? To me, that’s a higher quality question that can unlock way more answers.
If you’re interested in learning more about relationships, we had an episode that came out about On Being Single and the shame of not being married or being a parent and people’s perception of us. We have at least another episode or two about relationships mixed in. You want to hear more about Jason speaking on this and me speaking on this, perhaps our guests as well. It’s come up in conversations with guests. The superhero action step for relationships is the first one I’ve seen with two pages. This is quite lengthy for the topic of relationship. You said, “It’s to ask yourself where you were holding back the love in your life from yourself or your loved ones. If you are withholding your love, ask yourself why? Is it because you are afraid of being hurt, being seen or being truly vulnerable? Are you afraid of your love not being returned or reciprocated to you? Is it because you are in judgment and have accepted yourself fully? Identify the roadblocks you have placed between you and unconditional love, then work to dissolve them. You can dissolve them through radical acceptance of what is letting go of expectations, assumptions, and demands, and working to heal your pain, trauma and fear.” Jason recommends a therapist or coaches support you with this. “Remember this, your heart and mind once opened can never return to their original dimensions. Keep opening my beautiful friend. You’ve got this.”
I feel like I’m writing it to myself too.
You can relate to the woman that reached out and complimented you. This goes both ways.
As you reading it back, it’s potent because I want to do a separate episode on this and this was the first time I realized this and it might have been an offshoot of the conversation during the Ayahuasca episode. The revelation that I had after my Ayahuasca experience of feeling like I have to earn love from people or prove myself worthy of love. I had a layer reveal to me that I was not consciously present to at least, and now I am, which is that I can do a better job at receiving love from people. I feel like I’ve been much more comfortable giving love, giving gifts, giving compliments, showing up, being present. Someone that I met that I’m started dating brand new, she’s generous with her words, physically affectionate. That’s my number one love language. She’s generous with compliments. She’s a generous person. There was a moment where I’m like, “Whoa, am I having trouble receiving? I feel like I’m having trouble receiving it. What is this?”
It’s a permutation of, “I haven’t proven that I’m worthy of this. How can she be showing up? I haven’t proven I’m worthy. Why would she do this? Can I trust this? Is this okay? Is this issue playing a game on me? Am I on a prank show? What’s going on here?” Interestingly enough, in terms of this section on relationships in love, I’ve identified this part of my psyche that feels like if someone’s that generous with me, that it’s hard for me to receive because I don’t feel like I deserve it or I feel like I have to do something to get it. When it’s given that freely, but I thought I had to do something to get us. It’s like, “No you don’t.” Part of my nervous system is still in this whole paradigm, this whole program of, “You didn’t prove that you deserve this, why would someone give this to you? There must be something wrong here.”
Except what about when you’re a child and you receive unconditional love from a parent? You don’t have to do anything to prove your worthiness as a child. Your parents love you and want to take care of you. You have to do nothing to get their love. However, it’s also possible and you’ve spoken a lot about this is, sometimes we feel like as children we have to do things to get our parents to love. I’m generally speaking or maybe specifically speaking at times, some parents or maybe in some cases, all parents may consciously or unconsciously expect something of the child. Maybe there’s a resentment like, “I do much for you. Show me that you appreciate it.” For much of our developmental years, we don’t even know how to give back to our parents properly, but we may have an energetic guilts.
Our parents are doing much for us and we need to prove our worth to them. I wonder, Jason, if that is part of your mentality, especially for you and your fears of abandonment. Did you feel like you had to earn your parent’s love, your dad’s love? We’re you always trying to strive for that? This could go to a deeply therapeutic session here, but something to reflect on and also to the reader is thinking back to the roots because childhood is a time where we do receive many of us, not all of us because not everybody has the privilege of receiving unconditional love from their caretakers, unfortunately. Many of us get unconditional love when we’re young because we’re unable to give anything back. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on our parents and caretakers, our human means as well. Not being a parent yet, but I imagine that there’s a lot of resentment you might feel towards your children. We even feel this way about our animals sometimes.
All jokes aside that moment of like, “I don’t want to have to take care of you. I have to do my whole schedule around you. I don’t want to take you for a walk. I don’t want to go out and buy expensive food for you.” When we start to feel resentful of taking care of things, we’re in relationships or our children. In those moments, we can have a lot of compassion for our caretakers. My big point in bringing this up is the other side of the coin is, I know your mother loves you deeply, Jason. She’s given you unconditional love. That’s my perception. You didn’t have to do anything to get your mother’s love. She has loved you. I imagine since the moment you were conceived and since you were born and you didn’t have to do anything to win your mom’s love. Why do you need to do anything to win anybody’s love?
When I perceived that my father abandoned me that story and the meaning I created as a young child, not understanding the dynamics of my mom and dad’s relationship, not understanding what was happening with him in terms of his addiction or his mental health challenges, as a child, I had no grasp of that scope. There was an overcompensation mechanism I believe I created at a young age, which was, if you are the entertainer and you’re making everyone in the room laugh, smile and happy, which is one of the reasons I started acting at such young age and being the life of the party. I still have this reputation of like, “Jason brings much joy and laughter and he’s high energy.” I’m often the emcee or the host or like, “Jay-jay was bringing the party?” The reality that most people do not know is there’s an element of overcompensation and protectionism that was created at a young age psychologically. If I’m entertaining, if I’m creating laughter and joy and being the life of the party, then I won’t be abandoned again.
It was a protective mechanism that if one parent left, what would happen if the other one left? I have to be the bright light in the room. I have to be the entertainer, the source of joy, the source of laughter because God forbid this other one leaves me. To me, it was a protective mechanism for sure. That still colors my intimate relationships in the sense of don’t leave me, don’t abandon me. I have to be the brightest light in the room. I have to be the light of your life or I’m going to be left. After my dad left, I created a defense mechanism that I can’t let my mom leave. I was still young enough. I didn’t trust that she wouldn’t. If she leaves, I’m dead. It’s a death thing. For a child, if neither one of my parents are around, who’s going to feed me? Who’s going to love me? Who’s going to protect me? At a young age, I decided that proving myself worthy of love and affection was guarantying my survival. That’s as deep as I can go. That’s a deep-seated thing that still affects me. I’m aware of it and I still need to work through it in the sense of romantically, if I’m the most generous, if I’m making her laugh if I’m the best lover, if I’m protecting her as a man “ought to in our society” she won’t leave me.
Women experience the same thing. Women are trying to prove themselves, “Am I pretty enough? Am I sexy enough? Am I doing enough? Am I making meals or taking care of the kids or doing the chores? Do I understand their love language? Am I going to follow through and speak the perfect language to them on and on?” There’s much pressure and Jason, it’s a wonderful opportunity that you’re in to examine this and the worthiness that can come up. I don’t know how much I’ve experienced that. It’s given me some things to reflect upon, but when I hear you say that, it’s helping me understand the dynamics that I’ve been in. I’ve dated a lot of men with worthiness issues and I don’t know if that’s who I am attracting or if that’s something going on with the masculine culture and the age range of men that I’ve been dating.
It’s come up in sabotaging relationships that have been long term. It’s also come up in never being able to have a depth within a relationship or dating. I’ve dated guys that I’ve been interested in and I’ve wanted to be with and thought that they were wonderful but because of their worthiness challenges, they weren’t even able to be in a committed relationship. They didn’t feel good enough to be in it. I’ve seen it in many different ways and with women as well as comes up a lot. It’s interesting to reflect on your life and your experiences and your dynamics and seeing how this comes up often and look at it as a lesson. An opportunity to reflect and why you feel that way, which is great that your book prompts that.
I also think too that observing how I’m showing up has been interesting too. I’ve noticed that after a lot of the therapy and the Ayahuasca ceremony and the compounding of a lot of this inner work that if I reflect on how I would show up in dating a lot, it was an offshoot, the protective mechanism from childhood. “I’m going to wow her. I’m going to be the brightest light. I’m going to be the most generous. I’m going to make her laugh. I’m going to be the best lover.” On dates I’ve been on, I don’t give a shit. No. I find myself being there and being like, “Be yourself. Don’t try and wow her. Don’t try and be generous. Don’t try and make her laugh. Don’t try it all.”
How’s that working out for you?
It feels much better and it feels much lighter. I realized that the old way of thinking I had to be a certain way to win her over that whole thing of I’m going to show up trying to be my best version of myself to impress her. Wow her, whoa her, which is a common thing in dating in our society. I’m going to be, and I’m not going to try and make her laugh or try and show her like, “Let’s go out to the most expensive restaurant.” I’m not trying to be the shiniest diamond in the case anymore. Honestly, that feels relieving and feels like much pressure and heaviness has been removed because I’m at a point where it’s like, “I’m either your flavor of ice cream or not. I’m not going to dump almonds and sprinkles in hot fudge and coconut whipped cream and gold dust and unicorn farts to try and make you like the flavor of ice cream I am.” It’s either you dig in or you don’t.
That’s what I mean. I feel like there’s a sense of liberation. I’m finally getting to at 42 of here I am as I am. The best version I know how to be imperfect, flawed, searching, working on myself. You either dig it or you don’t. Either way, I don’t give a shit. I’m not saying that in genuinely whether or not I’m finally starting to get to the point of whether or not I have your approval, attention, satisfaction does not make my life better or worse. Whether I have it or not, does make my life better or worse. I’m finally starting, Whitney, to taste that sense of emotional liberation for the first time. It’s massive for me.
We have only made it halfway through the book. We’re going to do a part two. This is part one, the halfway point. If you are super eager to dig in, you can go and download this eBook. When you go to our homepage at the top corner, there’s a podcast button, click that. You can also use a search engine like Google and type in, This Might Get Uncomfortable, and some of the keywords from this. In this case, it’d be like Blissful, Balanced & Badass. If you type that in, you will find the show notes quickly and you can also find links to it on social media. We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for you to get all of this. If you ever have questions you can privately message us on social media.
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