Ever wonder how celebrities and their trainers work out in real life?

Back on the show this week is my friend, coach and ABC TV Co-Star, Jay Cardiello. Jay has coached pro athletes in the NFL and MLB… and he’s also trained A-List celebs including Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Seacrest and 50 Cent (no big deal).

Today he’s here to show us how we can get physically fit by working with our minds.

Buckle up, you’re about to learn:

  • How to hire your own trainer without getting tricked
  • What to do when Ben & Jerry’s and Johnnie Walker show up
  • How celebrity trainers and the stars work out in real life
  • Why the best trainers secretly want to be fired
  • And much more…

Jay Cardiello: Mental Fitness > Physical Fitness

Abel: Jay, thank you so much for coming back on the show, man.

Abel, it’s so great to be here. And congratulations on all your success.

Abel: You, too, man. We’re cranking along, sometimes it’s an uphill battle. Let’s start with this: You were supposed to be a lawyer, as I understand it, but I’m really happy it didn’t turn out that way.

In case people didn’t hear the last time you were on the show, and if you didn’t, listeners, I’m speaking to you now: Go back and check it out because we’re probably not going to re-tread, we’re just going to let this conversation evolve.

But, Jay, can you bring people up to speed in case they haven’t heard about you? What makes you unique as a coach?

I started off as a track and field athlete.

I was fortunate enough to go to the University of Arkansas. And at the end of a cold, rainy practice, we were doing jumping drills. I was a long jumper, and I reached too far on my takeoff leg. I was doing bounding drills—those are called plyometrics today—and just like physics, I put a brake on it with a heel. My hip kept on going forward, and discs went this way, and vertebrae went that way, and it cracked my coccyx.

So 13 surgeries and two major spinal fusions later, I had to sit in a body brace for six months, but it was actually the best time. It was really an opportunity for me to see the behavioral changes that not only athletes go through, but also what laymen go through when you’re just on your back, and the only thing you do is look up.

I’m a Six Million Dollar Man, that’s what I’m saying. I’ve got a lot of metal in me.

Abel: So you had 13 surgeries; you were in a full-body cast. Skip ahead to when we starred as coaches on the ABC show together, when I was working out next to you; you know how to get it done. I think we were both in there for around 20 minutes or something like that, but you were meditating and exercising at the same time. I was doing some burpees while gasping for air and my room key flew out of my pocket. And without interrupting my workout, you just came up and left it next to me, and then, we go and shoot the show as adversaries.

But I really appreciated the fact that, not even knowing your whole story, that you show up with such a professional attitude even when things are stacked against you. Even if you were in a full-body cast before, you still came back to working out next to me and, probably, being able to totally kick my butt if we got into it.

You came back from a place that sometimes cripples people for life. Mentally, how were you able to do that? And what do you teach to other people?

I spoke about this in my TED Talk; it was actually a lesson my father taught me. We were watching football one Sunday night, and he said, “Who’s the best player in the stadium?”

I said, “A quarterback, linebacker.”

He said, “No, no, no. It’s actually a guy in the stands, and through some emotional barrier, whether he didn’t have the time, he felt he didn’t have the money, or the wrong coaches, and he was just hating life. He gave up on the journey that he was supposed to do.”

It was at that point, my dad said, “Never give yourself the opportunity to ask, ‘What if?’”

It’s a question he proposed to me to ask myself, but it was a statement that’s really stuck with me. Whatever adversity I go through—and there are days I’m really upset or days I get frustrated—I know it’s going to pass.

There has to be a mindset where you know that “This could be the last breath I take, this could be the last day that I live.” And I always tell people, “There’s going to be a time when you’re lying on your back, looking up, wishing that you had done something.” And I don’t want to ever have to ask myself, “What if?”

I live each day to the fullest.

Abel: Right. And now, you’re not a lawyer.

Now, I’m not a lawyer.

Abel: Fancy that. But you also talk in your TED Talk about the whole celebrity world, a world you’ve been living for a long time.

You understand that it’s not what’s sold by popular media. It’s this whole thing where people think they’re going to be a star. Or as a musician coming up, thinking, “I’ve been playing gigs since I was 8 years old, that was my first career.”

It’s always like, “You’ve got to get the deal! You’ve got to work with the big dogs!” But a lot of times once you get to the top, it’s very isolating.

The coaches don’t always have the best interests in mind for the people they’re coaching. They’re trying to basically come up with new crazy diets or reasons to exist and get a paycheck. So can you talk about how it actually works, this whole world that’s hidden from public sight?

A lot of people ask, “How did you get involved with celebrities?”

And the thing is, it’s hard work. But also, it was me stumbling upon the right person at the right time.

You could do the right thing at the wrong time, but it worked because I did the right thing at the right time.

I was coaching for 10 years professionally. I was able to coach professionally because back in the ’90s, I hand-wrote every professional coach in America, whether it was hockey, baseball, or football.

Finally, the Tampa Buccaneers answered back, and said, “Yeah, come here. You’re not going to be paid.”

We have to be willing to put ourselves out there.

Mel Robbins is great. She has a thing called the five-second rule. You go five, four, three, two, one, and act on it.

Abel: Do it.

If you want to train celebrities, contact every one of their managers, agents, assistants. Be where they are. That’s how it really works.

I put myself in the right position when 50 Cent happened to be getting ready for a boxing film.

The film didn’t come to fruition, but I reached out to somebody, they reached back out to me, and I was introduced to his management. It went from there, but it was 10 years in the making.

Success doesn’t happen overnight, it’s preparation, and you have to be prepared at any time for that opportunity to arise.

It’s not just, “Oh, it happens.” Now, going into the celebrity world, people think it’s, “Oh, you’re traveling here, you’re traveling there.”

You are traveling, but it’s not your time.

I’ve been to, I don’t know, 40 countries, but I’ve never had an opportunity to view them.

It’s not about you; it’s about taking care of the client.

And we shouldn’t look at celebrities as being the end-all, be-all to this panacea for diet and exercise because if they had your knowledge and your very brilliant mind, 24 hours a day accessibility to that, who wouldn’t succeed?

If they have this accessibility to me 24 hours a day living with them, they have to succeed because their environment changes. And that’s the thing that people don’t understand.

And I got a chance to live with 50 Cent for 4 years straight, and I was tired.

You’re sleeping anywhere from an hour to four hours a day, and you’re living for somebody else.

It’s not just joy and dancing in the clubs—it’s nothing like that. It’s work that doesn’t stop.

How to Upgrade the Fitness Industry

Abel: Right. And that’s where the meaning comes. There are a lot of people who listen to this show who have their own gyms, or they are trainers, or they work in the medical profession, or they are healers. These are all jobs, as you mentioned in your TED Talk, of service. And that’s how I think of this show, too. It’s not driven by money, I just believe that the truth needs to get out there, and mainstream media certainly isn’t up to the task.

At this point, I love being able to run our own thing and being able to put what we believe into it, but we do it more as a service. Because once you learn the things that we know after being in the industry long enough and seeing how it works, you have to share it with other people. You see how out-matched we are as normal Joes and Janes walking through our day, being assaulted with all this pernicious marketing that gets inside of our heads, combined with all the addictive food.

We know that we should sleep more, we should eat more vegetables, we should do these things. And at the same time that we know that, the government talks about nutrition in a completely outdated way. You do a Google search, and the things that come up first are the fat-burning pills, and all the scams, and the nonsense.

So looking forward, you know that there are good people doing good work in the field. I might be just being an optimist here, as I often am, but it seems like the people who are doing it the wrong way are starting to be exposed, or at least, made fun of, which is great.

But how do we keep this movement honest for the people who want to get better? How do we make sure that they’re taken care of by people like you, who know what they’re talking about, who can actually help them, and aren’t just after their money?

True. I’m going to go off track, but I remember it was David Lee Roth—I was a Van Halen fan growing up—who said, “By the time people realize I can’t sing, I’ll be a millionaire.”

Now, I’m paraphrasing, but that’s what it is. A lot of people come into this industry for a quick fix. You come into this industry to be an actor, or go on a reality show, or go on infomercials, or do things for a quick fix. And it’s sad because we live in a therapy culture, and I say that, because we’re all emotional creatures, and fitness and dietitians and nutritionists play upon the emotions. That’s one thing I was getting at in the TED Talk: If you go to drug or alcohol rehab, they ask you, “Why are you here? Why did you do what you did? Why are you addicted to drugs?” And it’s a very sad thing. They don’t walk in and say, “Oh, you’re addicted to cocaine. Alright, we’re going to start you off with a non-GMO, organic, free cocaine.” That doesn’t happen. And there’s too many, “Eat this, and okay, have dark chocolate and this.”

The fact is that we really have to regress to progress, and get after people’s “why” factors of what they’re doing. And that has the possibility to change and create sustainable outcomes. That’s going to disrupt the industry.

Now, for people who are out there, I’ve always felt this way, and this is totally throwing a monkey wrench in everything, I’m a personal trainer, I’m a servant, that’s what I do. I’m in the service industry. And I say, “I’m not a celebrity, there’s no paparazzi outside waiting for me. It’s just a job we do. That’s all it is.”

We’re all stars, this is a job we do. It’s the industry that I chose, and I’m happy to be here.

The point is physical therapists have to go to schooling. They have to be licensed. I truly feel, and I felt this way for a long time, strength and conditioning coaches—I love the CSCS because you have to go to a college and get a degree.

I don’t feel it’s fair that people can take a weekend course, an hour course, and at that point then, implement diets, implement protocols, implement anything without being licensed.

I am just going to say it. I think there should be licensing for this industry. I think there should be more stringent rules because number one, it’s not taken seriously. It’s more of a, “Oh, I was a personal trainer in college, and I bartended at night.” Now, there’s nothing wrong if you’re doing that to make ends meet because quite frankly, the industry pays horribly. So you do other things that may not be a parallel lifestyle that you’re trying to implement in other people. However, if you raise the standards of the industry, and get them to be licensed, make it an accredited job as opposed to a, “I’m a weekend this, and I do this in the meantime,” where people will look at it as a job or work. It’s a career.

That’s what you’re doing here is you’re giving knowledge to people. There has to be licensing, and guidelines, and you really have to step up, and say, “You’re going to enter this career, you’re taking care of someone’s body. You can really impact their health positively, instead of negatively.”

I go to hotels or apartments, and I hear these trainers saying, “Oh, yeah, what you’re going to be doing is I want you to start this fat-burner, this glutamine stuff, or doing this, or doing that.” And it’s like, “You’re not a dietician, you’re not registered.”

Or what drives me crazy is when I see trainers drinking coffee or eating while they’re training on their cell phone. If I were to go to my doctor and he were to answer his phone, that’s wrong, it’s really wrong.

The thing is if we’re expecting the best from these people, we have to make the guidelines that give them the opportunity to be the best. We’re not there. That has to change first. The groundwork has to be laid first.

Abel: Let me bring this up because I agree with you, but here’s another monkey wrench. My mom’s a nurse practitioner and an herbalist. So I was raised that way, with her in and out of the system, she had her own practice for a little while, which was really hard to do. She had a hard time charging people money for healing in a way that’s outside of the system.

But then, within the system, if you get certified in nutrition, for example, or in medicine, there were certain things with that certification that you can and can’t say, even if you know that it’s true or not. So that’s one of the tricky things, too, where I have purposely not pursued any of those certifications because I think if you can go on a weekend and get one, and it’s disingenuous, even if you have letters next to your name, you’re appearing to be something that you’re not.

I am not a strength and conditioning coach. I’m a running enthusiast who was pretty good in junior high and high school. And I know how to eat well and how to connect with people in that way, but I am not a nutritionist, I’m not a doctor.

So it’s like you have the cowboys like me, where I’m trying to help as best as I can outside of the system because the system, to some degree, is also compromised. So in understanding all of that, if people are listening right now, and they’re like, “I don’t know if there is a good trainer around me, but I do need some help learning full-body exercises, or I want to get back in shape,” how do they identify the good ones from the bad ones?

How to Hire a Good Personal Trainer

That’s a great question. One of the biggest things is to ask for a few things. Every trainer should have notes from every client. See, the big thing is that a lot of trainers don’t realize they could be sued. And if they’re sued, all their notes are going to be brought forth, and they better have documented that.

Abel: “Why was your client only eating 30 stalks of asparagus a day for 30 days, Jay?”

Exactly, exactly.

And what I do to cover my butt with everything, I send them first to a doctor to get a blood analysis because if I’m treating somebody, and they have a thyroid problem, it could be that they say, “Oh, you’re not helping me.” But if we are identifying with a doctor, I can stay out of it. I have the doctor talk to them, and they’ll let me. So I call it the triangle; it’s them, the doctor, and me.

So the person should really say, “Okay, number one: I’d like to see who you’ve trained with,” and interview them. If you want a car or a house, you invest in it, and you look at it, and you see, and try it out, you don’t just say, “Okay, I’ll train with you.” It’s not your buddy…

Abel: “You’ve got nice-looking biceps!”

Yeah! Oh, that’s a great point: Aesthetics does not mean educated.

Abel: Yeah, let’s dig into that one.

A lot of the strength coaches in the NFL and a lot of the sports scientists are guys that you wouldn’t think are in shape, but you’re not paying for them to be in shape; you’re paying for their minds.

There are people that can look at you, and look at your shoes, and proceed, and find any imperfections, asymmetries in your hip. So one thing is, ask for who they’ve worked with. And celebrities don’t mean anything… That should not give you higher certification. They’ll say, “Oh, well, he worked with so and so.” That doesn’t mean anything. It’s pretty easy working with a celebrity ’cause you’re with them 24 hours a day. You get the results.

Ask to talk to someone they’ve worked with, ask to see their history if there are any lawsuits filed against them, if anyone had been injured. Also ask how long they’ve been doing it, where their work history is, and investigate that. If they were fired, find out why. Also, ask them this important question: “Are you late?”

I see these trainers walk in for 7 o’clock clients at 7:05. First time you walk in, excuse, I understand. I have a son, and things happen. But continuously, you can’t because if they’re not respecting that time and your time, they’re not respecting your health.

Also, ask for free sessions, that’s a big thing. I mean you try your car, you get a free test drive. Why are you taking a workout if it’s not free to really see?

Okay, you have the knowledge, now you have to have a rapport. If he’s screaming, and you’re quiet, it ain’t going to work. They have to be able to meet you on the couch and have a discussion. And also too, if you’re picking up a weight the first time. They don’t know your body, they don’t know how you’re going to recover.

Seriously, a lot of times, I just go for coffee, we go for a walk, there’s no charge, I get to know the person because I’m not looking at their aesthetics. I want to know that the person they’re going home to, their spouse, partner, whomever it is, is going to support this process. I had a client I went to their house, and I asked, where do you work?

Abel: You moved out in the front yard on our TV show!

Yeah, sit down in my yard. That’s what it is. You invest so much in your listeners. And then, while we were on set, I learned so much about you, and your passion for your listeners like, “I’ve got to get the best education, the best people on the show to give them the information that can make things traveling through this journey called life so easy.”

You have to invest in your client and put the time in to get to know them. I know a lot of trainers who don’t know their client’s birthday, who don’t confirm the night before, who aren’t checking in through the day. The magic happens away from you, not with you.

It’s easy to have you do jumping. I can do it any day, all day with my client. But that’s why I said in the TED Talk, “Ben & Jerry’s and Johnnie Walker show up late at night for a reason.” If you’re not giving your clients a good strategy against that, you’re failing. You’re failing them and they’re just paying you.

Abel: Yeah, but there is also a chance to find someone who does great work and work with them over the long-term. By taking the chance, you can get not just a trainer, but someone who can be that pillar of support and accountability that you need, especially if you’re that personality type.

I’ve learned enough about myself to know that I’m just a weirdo who grew up in the middle of nowhere in New Hampshire. So I learned how to entertain myself and teach myself. But for a lot of people, it is so helpful to have someone there next to them, or just a text away, so that when you have a question, or when you doubt yourself, or when Johnnie Walker shows up at the door, you make the right call because you know that you’re on the hook.

Of course. And you said something… You have to be a support. If you think about AA, you have a sponsor who’s calling you at odd times during the day, saying, “You okay? How are you doing?” Why are you sending text messages? It’s better to be annoying than non-existent.

Abel: Yeah, I can vouch for that.

But if I don’t send you 12 texts, you’re going to say, “Well, you didn’t send me 12 texts.” So I’d rather say that I did it than say I missed the opportunity.

You should be communicating and sending your clients stuff—and not just workouts. Send them inspirational quotes, make them a video and say, “Hey, listen! I know you’re going through a lot today. I’m here for you, but more importantly, you’re here for yourself.”

It’s the emotional connection that needs to be made, not that you can power-clean 500 pounds, and you’re going to get that person a six-pack. I’ll get you a six-pack over at 7-Eleven, and we’ll sit down and we’ll actually talk about you. Trainers don’t want to do that. And that’s the thing.

How do you get a celebrity? Because I care about my education. And I invest, every day, in reading, and reading, and reading, and reading. That actually sets me apart from the norm—I invest in my education.

Abel: Right. You’re learning constantly, and that was obvious when I first met you on the ABC TV Show.

I thought, “Okay, there are a few people here who are clearly cast as personalities. And then, there are some major players here.” And I appreciate it that you made your approach about the mental aspect of all of this. Because yes, you can teach someone how to do the right things, and that’s actually not terribly difficult once you get all of the misinformation out of their minds.

Once you get all the brainwashing from the industry out of there, you start over, you tell them how to go about the right workouts and how to eat the right way. But then, after a few months, they sometimes, for whatever reason, fall off the wagon. It’s not worth it anymore.

So with the people that you’ve been working with on a long, or even a short-term basis, what is unique about the people who hang in there? How can we help people to the other side?

I want to take you back to a time when I was an athlete at Arkansas. When we first sit down, we have a meeting with all the new team members, and they’re coming in as freshmen. You had to fill out an identification card with your name, hometown, your best performance. And then, they had, it said “NCAA ring size.” They passed around all the hoops, and you put your finger through it, and you wrote down your ring size. It says “National Championship ring size” and you write it down. And then, it says, “Southeastern Conference ring size.” It was ingrained in my head that, “I’m going to get that, that’s where it is.”

So when I work with a client, I do a few things. Number one, I have them read the book by Napoleon Hill, “Think and Grow Rich.” I ask them, “What is your purpose?”

“I want to lose 25 pounds.”

“That’s not going to get you where you need to be. Getting rid of your man boobs, that’s going to get you where you need to be.”

So we identify a purpose where it’s pulling and not pushing. And then, I have them write their mission statement before our first session begins because if they don’t know where they’re going, if they don’t have that road map clear, it’s kind of hard for me to help at that point.

I also have them practice rituals. BJ Fogg does a great job. He has behavioral changes every few weeks.

And my job with everybody is like self-actualization, following Maslow in saying, “I want to be fired. If I’m with you a year from now, and you haven’t changed, then I haven’t done my job. If I’m with you, and we’re still progressing even though we had some setbacks, okay, I’ll stay with you. But six months, a year down the line, if you’re doing the same thing that you were doing, we should really take a break at this point. And not that you need to do some soul-searching, but let’s get back to the rituals. Let’s get back to practicing that.” Because as I said, the 23 hours away from me is where the magic happens, not with me.

It’s easier to train somebody to have them sweat, that’s easy.

Don’t Focus on Fitness

Abel: It’s all about the rituals. One of the advantages of working with celebrities or musicians or people who are out on shoots, is that you’re constantly changing your environment. And so, the rituals that you set up, it’s harder, it’s a double-edged sword, of course, ’cause you’re in different places all the time. But it also teaches you the importance of setting up your own environment. For example, to use your cocaine example to keep going with that (which works with musicians on tour or in the movie industry). If there’s cocaine around, people are probably going to do it.

If you’re one of those celebrities who has trouble with drugs, or addictive foods, or something at home, when you go out on tour, it’s almost like you kind of get a fresh start.

There’s not all this stuff around you that’s pulling you back into that bad behavior. So if you want to, you can kind of engineer that carrot that pulls you to the right move. So it’s easier if you’re in a random hotel somewhere with nothing in particular to do at 6:30 in the morning, you just happened to be awake, to put in a quick workout. Whereas, if you were at home, you’d be sipping coffee, hanging out, thinking, “I don’t know what I want to do today.”

So can you help people who maybe don’t live the traveling troubadour life that we have over the years? How can you engineer that into your own life if you do have a normal nine to five?

Don’t focus on fitness, that’s the big thing.

And what I mean by this is that I learned a lot from you on set. You were even focusing on habits and behavior. What you did is you came onto the couch with them, and said, “Hey, listen: You can eat these foods, but I’ll show you a better quality.”

When you said people are like, “I don’t know how to reach my son.” “Well, pick up the video game and play with him.” And then, there’s a rapport. So the big thing that people really should focus on first is themselves. Pain and sweat does not work, it never works. I’d say, “Are we going to run a mile today?” “No, I’m not. I don’t want to run a mile today.”

So I always say, “Make your environment as if you’re lazy… “ Or better yet, if you’re high on marijuana, “Put the apples on the counter. Put the potato chips down the hall.” Because if you’re lazy, you’re going to reach for the apple, or you’re going to say, “No, I don’t want to eat.”

You’re not going to grab the potato chips. We really have to set ourselves up to have a very lazy, simple environment that takes the thought process out of it.

We always put on too much too soon: We have these New Year’s resolutions. But if you don’t resolve anything in the past, you’re not going to move forward, or by the 16th, you’re going to quit.

So I always tell people, “Who’s around you every day? Because those people who are around you are your future. If you have miserable people around you, you’re going to be miserable.”

That’s the check, and that’s what they do at these drug and alcohol rehabs, “Who are you hanging out with? Who’s supplying you?” And people don’t want to be on drugs.

The words that people say to you, you start saying to yourself. @JayCardiello Click To Tweet

So what goes on between your ears is really going to affect your emotional state. And if you can work on your emotional state, then you drop the E, and then, you can work on your motion state, which is walk. And from there, you work on your nutritional state. And then, things start going.

I was speaking with a great MMA fighter the other day, and he said, “People jump into relationships before they’re fulfilled, and that’s where so many problems happen. If you don’t work on your house, how can you go live in it?”

If you have holes in the roof and things in there, you can’t. You’re going to get wet, you’re going to get cold. Before you go out and venture into new things, make sure your mind is right. It doesn’t have to be 100%, but you have to be a work-in-progress. And that’s the biggest thing. Realize that not all the positive talk is going to change you. You’re going to have crap days—and understand that. But it’s your strategy of how you have these crap days, and how you go about getting through them and working with them.

It’s not about working harder, it really is about working smarter. @JayCardiello Click To Tweet

Abel: Yes, toward a goal. I think a problem for a lot of people is that they don’t know exactly what they’re training for, what they’re eating for, what have you. Like losing 20 pounds, pretty squishy, hard to care, right?

For people who just want to be in better shape, live longer, be happier, be healthier, is there a baseline fitness level or baseline eating level that you can help set people up with? Where they have that thing that they’re being pulled toward that gives them a reason.

I’ll give you an example from my own life, and I think I’ve shared this on the show before, and this doesn’t have to do with eating because I have enough of those examples. But on Mondays, I do monster lifts, which just means I do my heavy lifts that day. I do squats, deadlifts, etc. If by the end of the day, I haven’t done monster lifts in one way or the other, then it’s pretty clear that I didn’t do it. And that’s pretty great because it repeats on a weekly clip. It’s like every Monday, don’t have to think about it. If I can’t get downstairs to the gym at our place, I have something heavy to lift here. If I’m out, I’ll find a rock. It’s just the deal. So can you set up little deals for yourself to maintain that fitness throughout life?

Of course!

Abel: What are some examples?

So I’m going to step away from even the sweat and pain thing for a second. If you go to a basketball game or a football game, do you ever see those guys warming up for a half hour or hour? They’re realistically just going to work. We forget that we’re going to watch someone go to work.

Every day, I wake up and do this. First thing I do is I wake up, I have an incantation. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s basically my mission statement. And I give a date by which I want to accomplish this. Now, do I accomplish it, 100%? No, but I’m going to be one step closer.

Right after I read that mission statement, it’s very short, it’s a few sentences, I write down five things that I’m grateful for. After that, I meditate. And to get my day started, you don’t have to jump right into this, but I take an extremely cold shower. And there’s no exercise there.

I haven’t mentioned anything about exercise, but I prepared myself to take on the day in a positive statement.

But this is what everybody does: “Aw! Oh, jeez, man! I’ve got so much to do.” Then they pick up their cell phone, and they’re stressed, and then, they hate their husband, they hate their kids, they hate the Wheatie bowl, and they’ve got to break that pattern.

If you want to prepare for life and be successful, then you have to warm up like an athlete. And that’s the emotional thing that’s going to put the mind, and then, eventually, the body in motion.

Baseline of fitness, it’s a great question, it’s just not “start walking.” Because then, if I don’t want to walk, I failed.

But you can get up in the morning and read a mission statement. Even if you’re half asleep, you’re conditioning, that’s a behavior. And then, you write down what you’re grateful for, and when you start doing that, and not just for a week, not for a month, but every day for a year. Like today, I’m grateful for the opportunity to have this interview. So now, I’m pumped up about it. My mind’s prepared, I know what I want to talk about.

But if we give gratitude and grace and are thankful for things, that’s going to set us on a track to have, not only abundance in life, but we forget that what we think about, we attract. Have you ever noticed how people who say, “I can never find the right girl, I can never find the right guy.” They’re dating someone they don’t like?

It’s because what you think, you become; but also, who you attract. So why not set your mind up to attract abundance and quality?

Abel: I love that. Yeah, that’s a very similar morning routine to me, as well. And I think people get this illusion. There’s this huge wall up between the celebs and the stars, and “average” people. But what people don’t understand, for the most part, is that when the cameras are running, that person has already warmed up.

I know this because I do it every time, before I’m recording on this show, on other shows, or whatever. I’ve already put in, like you mentioned, two or three hours of work, for the most part. And you can tell when I haven’t. Because I’m stumbling over my words, I might not be totally there, but for the most part, it comes off as professional because at this point, we know how to do that warm up. We know how important that is.

I think if there’s one skill that people can learn, it’s that. And it doesn’t have to be a cold shower. I grew up in New Hampshire, so I’ve had enough cold showers for my entire lifetime, but there are so many other little things that you can put in. And one thing that I love to do in the morning is just get the blood flowing, like a one-minute workout, just a few reps of something where you feel that little bit of sweat on your head, and all of a sudden, I’m awake. And I think a cold shower really does the same thing.

But you have to find those little things that can set you up to totally rock it that day, and checking your phone first thing in the morning is the opposite of that.

It is, it truly is. People see the end-product. They don’t know the work that’s gone in for years. They don’t see the preparation, they only see the product. There’s no such thing as an overnight success, it doesn’t happen. You don’t just wake up, and the next day, you’re a YouTube star, you’re a movie star, you’re a celebrity trainer. It’s work, it’s preparation.

People don’t know that I wrote every coach in the NHL, NBA; you name the league, I wrote it back in 1999, and one team answered back. There were a lot of handwritten letters. It wasn’t like today where you can send thousands of emails in one shot. So that’s the preparation that I put in. I knew if I wanted it, I would have to work. It’s not a different kind of work that they put in. But here’s a big thing:

If you want to be successful at an industry, find out who has been successful. Then model them.

Watch them on YouTube, you’ve got free information there. Then, figure out what they did wrong, and avoid that, and you’ll expedite your way to success.

Expedite your way to success. @JayCardiello Click To Tweet

That’s what I did! I watched thousands of Tony Robbins tapes, I watched thousands of Tim Ferriss tapes, I watched thousands of everybody out there. And they talked about what they did wrong. So you just avoid that.

Abel: Also, if you guys want to see what it looked like when I first started this show, then check out my YouTube channel: Fat-Burning Man. Go back to the first videos that I ever put out. And I don’t want to say that it’s a train wreck, but I cringe every time I watch myself talk years earlier, when I was first getting started.

I think for people who want to get better, this extends to fitness, to health, to everything, the ones who finally figure it out, you see them walking down the street, and they’re in shape, they’ve got the swagger. You’re like, “That person figured it out. I want to know what that person knows.” Usually, what they know, I found, is that the tiny little things they do every day are what wind up as being that.

People ask me how I wrote a book, or how I wrote several books, and I’m just like, “Well, the real answer is I’ve been writing for at least 10 minutes a day, pretty much every day, since I was 15.” ‘I read a book then that said that’s what geniuses did. That’s what Einstein did. That’s what, basically, every great scientific thinker did. Everyone knows about Da Vinci’s notebooks, and that sort of thing, but when I was 15, I read that that was something that smart people did every day, so I said, “I’m going to do that, too.” And eventually, I’ve written a half-dozen books now. But that’s how it really happens, these tiny little things add up.

So coming back to that workout that we had next to each other when we were on the show, which wasn’t on the show, by the way. This was off camera on a morning before we started shooting. But I think a lot of people would assume you being a pro coach working with people in the MLB, the NFL, that you’re in there crushing it like The Rock working out four hours a day and staying in awesome shape. What was it? Like 20 minutes, that’s your workout?

It is 20 minutes, and that’s how it really is because I’m not going to be tested, I’m not going to be doing a bench press when I walk around New York City.

“Hey, how much can you bench press?”

“I don’t know.”

I’m going to be tested on my mind, I’m going to be tested on confrontations, contracts. I’m going to be tested on people disagreeing with me, a cab driver! And getting in a state of mind where you don’t react, getting in a state of mind where you use words that are going to be giving and helpful, and ask the right questions to provide resolution. That’s what’s going to work. So that’s what I focus on, and it is 20 minutes, and I’m going to throw this out.

I’ve set myself up to go after the chin-up world record in 60 seconds. @JayCardiello Click To Tweet

If I do it, I do it. If I don’t, I don’t. I’m up to 46 in 49 seconds. It’s just I’ll go to the gym sometimes, and I’ll do as many chin-ups as I can, and I’m done. At that point it’s like, “Awesome!”

And then, I’ll go do my gratitudes, then I’ll do my stretches, then I’ll do the meditation, and I’ll do my incantation, I’ll take my ice cold shower, and I’m good. People don’t think of it. They think, “Oh! So much hard work!” Yeah, it is to get going, but once you’re there, it’s pretty easy. And we all know, we all know what to do to be healthy. We just don’t want to do it.

We want to point and blame, but the most real thing you could do is just look in the mirror, and say, “Man! I gotta change my mind!”

Abel: Yeah, yeah. And you can do it. The good news is that once you “get there”… I’m using air quotes right here because you never actually “get there,” but once you get to your maintenance weight, it is so much easier to stay in shape, or stay fit, than it is to get back to being fit, to lose weight. That’s the hard part. That’s the hard part for a lot of people who are losing the weight.

As long as you nail the habits, you can stay there, and it doesn’t take that much work, not nearly as much as people would think. So that workout that you just mentioned, the pull-up, is one that I do once or twice a week, and it’s just two sets of, some days it’s 15 pull-ups with different grips. But I do two sets of 15 to 30, depending on how I’m feeling. And then, it’s like “Check! Workout done. If I want to do more, I can. But that’s just fun, that’s gravy, baby.” But having that one little win is so important.

Of course, of course! It’s almost like that with Tim Ferriss. He just goes in there and gets it done. I want to do something that can create a big rapport with people. I’m open about it? Yeah, the divorce thing is out there, I went through it. And I have gratitude, and I’m very blessed for it. Here’s the thing: I looked back, and I have a whiteboard in my house, so that’s where I do all my creative stuff at two in the morning. And I thought, “What could I have done differently?” And I didn’t prepare.

Forget physical fitness, this is mental fitness because mental fitness is what creates sustainable outcomes.

You should go to a relationship counselor before you get married. You should go to a financial adviser, you should go and get worked on with a therapist to make sure that your decision you’re making is forever and not undone three months out.

People can understand this because sometimes, people say, “Oh, chin-ups. I don’t know, it doesn’t relate to me. I like eating bacon.” But we can all understand relationships because we want to feel satisfied with them. So before you give to another person, make sure you’ve given to yourself, and make sure you’re fulfilled, and that resonates in anything.

Whether it’s fitness, prepare your mind. Whether it’s the diets, make sure you’re prepared for this. Make sure you’re prepared for the struggles. And you do your job interviews; if you have an important phone call, people just pick up the phone and dial. You should prepare an hour. “Who’re you talking to? What’s their background? Create a rapport with the person.” People don’t do that, and I’m guilty of not doing it, and there’s a cost for it. So if you’re going to enter into a fitness program, be prepared. And that starts first with your mind.

Abel: That is one of the biggest secrets, I think, that you can take away from the world that you’ve lived in a while, and me as well, as a musician, mostly, is the people who are very successful are doing it every day. And they know that it’s worth it, and they have advantages. They might have someone like you there at their beck and call, but thanks to the glory of the Internet these days, which is another double-edged sword, you can be there for them, once again, right? Or I can.


Abel: They can now listen to this show any time. The challenge is, you have to force yourself, if you’re just an average person, to pick and choose the right bits of media or the right people, the right virtual people around you to spend your time with. That’s how I think of it. And then, that way, you’re spending your time with Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss, and it doesn’t matter if you know them personally because they’re giving you a download of everything that they’ve learned.

Do the little things and prepare. Preparation is the big secret taken from the world that you live in, to everyone else. It’s invisible. Most people don’t talk about it. It’s not sexy. Everyone has their weird little routine that they have to do before their thing, but I would say that would be the biggest takeaway from this show.

Do that thing that totally lights you up every day. Prepare for that thing that you’re nervous about and visualize it ahead of time. And Jay, you can tell them that it’s going to go so much better. So maybe someone has a talk coming up, maybe they are doing a big presentation at work, you just did a TED Talk. Any advice that you’d like to share with people who have a competition, a sporting event, or something, how can you best mentally prepare for something big that’s coming up?

Every day is a big competition.

The biggest competition every day is yourself. And that’s the enemy that’s going to bring you down. It’s not the man across the ring, it’s not the woman across the desk who’s going to get the job, it’s you.

It really is what you put in your ears, who you hang out with, and what you tell yourself. And I don’t listen to music when I work out, I listen to the Jim Rohns to the Joel Osteens are in my ear while I’m working.

Abel: You can do it, Jay.

Yeah! When I’m on the train, that’s when I read. So any time that I’m alone is a time that my mind can actually get in there and disrupt my positive journey. So, I make sure when I’m alone, that’s where Ben & Jerry’s and Johnnie Walker can show up. I judge a man not by the size of his TV, but by the size of his library. Read, sleep, and last, give, because that’s a big preparation thing that people don’t realize because when you give to others positively, when you give to others in need, that’s the way you prepare… because everybody’s in the service industry. We all are. I’d admit that. So be prepared by giving.

Where to Find Jay Cardiello

Abel: Before we go, can you tell folks where they can find you, your TED Talk, and a little bit more about what you’re working on?

Instagram or Twitter at @jaycardiello or go to my website, jaycardiello.com. The TED Talk is live here. And what I’m working on is to be a better me because being a better me, I can give more to others.

Abel: Jay, it’s a pleasure to have you on. I really appreciate the work that you’re doing, and the unique perspective you bring to this world of nutrition and fitness. And I’m honored to call you a friend. So thank you so much for coming on the show and you’re welcome any time, man.

Oh, I’m going to go have some bacon, and put some butter in my coffee mug.

Abel: Do it! Enjoy. Cheers!

Before You Go…

One of the most important things you can do to shed fat and keep it off is not a workout routine or a diet plan.

What you hear about yourself is what you believe and what you believe is what you become. So, it’s time to surround yourself with a positive support system. Join our Fat-Burning Tribe, and find out what it’s like to feel amazing again.

You’ll get step-by-step monthly meal plans with mouth-watering recipes, a library of workout videos, and an active private Facebook group where you can chat with me, Alyson and thousands of other Tribe members around the globe.

Are you up for the challenge? Join here: bit.ly/2hMdHzp

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