At first blush, the phrase “body positivity” sounds like a wonderful thing.
A movement that pushes health and being respectful of your body and proud of your physique can help people eat healthier, exercise, and avoid disease, eating disorders, body dysmorphia, and more.
Unfortunately, in many ways, extremists have co-opted the publicity, and turned “body positivity” into something that’s no longer fully correlated with health and can actually harm individuals and society as a whole.
Some people say you can be perfect, beautiful, and healthy at any weight. No matter what the scale says, or how you feel, you should be proud of who you are.
Others are diametrically opposed. They believe people who aren’t in shape should be mocked and ridiculed until they’re motivated enough to start dieting and hitting the gym.
If you’ve read much of my work, you know that how much fat you carry around and how much muscle you have has real effects on your health. On the flipside of the coin, you probably intuitively know that shaming others isn’t too helpful if your goal is to motivate them to get healthier.
Here’s the home truth: “body positivity” when taken too far, can rob people of a better life.
But it’s not all bad. With a more moderate, nuanced approach, the movement can help motivate people to start taking steps towards getting healthier. And that’s exactly what I’m discussing in this podcast with Jordan Syatt.
In case you’re not familiar with Jordan, he holds several powerlifting records, has a Bachelors of Science in Health & Behavior Science, and hosts a successful mini-podcast. He’s also a thriving strength and nutrition coach (with clients like Gary Vaynerchuk), and as such, has a firm grip on some of the finer, “softer” points of coaching people from all walks of life to adopt healthier lifestyles. In other words, he knows a thing or two about helping people navigate mental roadblocks to get motivated and go from completely sedentary and unfit to lean, athletic, and healthy.
In this episode, we chat about . . .
- What the body positivity movement is the problem with extremist viewpoints
- What body shaming is and why it does more harm than good
- How you can damage someone’s health by trying to protect their feelings
- Why “love yourself as you are” isn’t helpful and limits the possibility of self-improvement
- Beauty standards and whether it’s important to maintain them
- How obese models can be both harmful and helpful
- Where the movement should go in the future
- And more . . .
So if you’re curious about the merits and downsides of the health at any size movement, listen to Jordan break it down.
8:11 – What is the concept of body positivity?
11:23 – When you say body shaming, what does that mean?
19:00 – What are your standards?
32:26 – Where would you like to see this movement go?
Mentioned on The Show:
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Mike: Hey there, I’m Mike Matthews and this is Muscle for Life. Thank you for joining me today to learn about body positivity, which sounds like a great thing, right? We should all strive to be positive about our body, regardless of where it is versus where we would like it to be. If we are. Eating well and exercising and making progress.
We should be proud of that and we should be respectful of our body and respectful of the process of what it takes to build the body we really want. And if we view our fitness through that lens, rather than obsessing over what we see on the scale or in the mirror, we can. Eating disorders or symptoms related to eating disorders.
Maybe not a full-blown eating disorder, but half like eating disorder light. That’s very common in the fitness space. For example, uh, body dysmorphia, that’s very common in other unwanted conditions. That said, body positivity is a loaded term these days. It means different things to different people. Many people interpret it in the way that I just explained, and that’s fantastic, but many other people have interpreted it in a more extreme way.
Or you could even say, I’ve co-opted it for publicity and turned it into something that is not healthy and not conducive to long. Health and wellbeing and physical fitness and have turned it into something that is harming people and harming society as a whole. For example, some say that you can be absolutely perfect in perfect health.
You can be aesthetically beautiful at any weight period. So if you weigh 400 pounds, you. Absolutely proud of that because you are healthy and you are beautiful and you do not need to change. Well, if that sets your spidey sense tingling, it should, right? Because that is patently absurd and that is doing many people at big disservice.
It is literally killing people. That is deadly advice. Now, equally absurd though, are the fitness hardos who believe that. Mocking and ridiculing. And using peer pressure on people who are not in shape is an effective way to motivate them to get into shape, to start eating well and to start exercising.
And while some people do respond to the Gary Vayner truck, why are you so effing lazy? You know, uh, piss and vinegar approach. Most people do not. Most people find that treatment degrading and intimidating and very demotivating in most people. It simply makes the process harder. And so what’s needed then is a better way, a better philosophy, a better paradigm that acknowledges that your value as a person is not represented by your body fat percentage or your body composition.
But that also allows you to view the world as it is and view your body and your body composition and your health as it is and not as you wish it. And that encourages you to work from where it is to where you wish it were, to where you want to be. And all of that is what today’s episode is all about.
And in this episode, I talk with Jordan Syk, who has a successful podcast of his. Own the Jordan Sci Mini podcast. He also has a large following on social media, on Instagram, on YouTube, and he is a longtime successful strength nutrition coach. He holds several power lifting records himself, and he has a lot of.
In the trenches experience working with everyday normal people who just want to get into good shape, who have a few hours per week to give to exercise, and who are willing to eat nutritious foods but are not willing to be neurotic about their meal planning and who want to just have a bit more muscle and a bit less body fat than the average person.
That is Jordan’s sweet spot. And in this episode, Jordan and I talk about what the body positivity movement is. The problematic parts of it in particular, and we talk about body shaming, what that is and why it does more harm than good. We talk about why the, just love yourself as you are, no matter as you are.
Philosophy isn’t helpful. And actually limits our ability to improve ourselves and more so if you are curious about the pros and cons of the health at any size or the body positivity movement. And if you’re curious, if you can take away any useful tips from it and discard the parts that are not useful, then I think you’re gonna like this episode.
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Please do consider supporting Legion so I can keep doing what I love, like producing more podcasts like. Jordan Sciat returns. What’s up man? How are you? I’m good. Thanks man. Thanks for taking the time to do this. I appreciate it. It’s my pleasure, man.
Jordan: I’m always very honored when you asked me to come on, so thank you.
Mike: Absolutely. Yeah. I was going back through guests that I’ve had in the past. Who do I want to bring back on? And your name stood out to me, so here we are. Awesome, man. Thank you. Yeah. Yeah. So we’re here to talk about body positivity, healthy at any size. I believe there may even be a. Buzzword that is not coming to mind right now.
A new acronym that I saw and I, I wanted to get your thoughts on this and kind of go back and forth with you and give the listeners, I think, some good perspective on what makes sense in this. Ongoing discussion or debate and what doesn’t make sense, what’s productive, what’s not productive, what’s useful, what’s not useful?
Because I don’t know about you and I’m curious to hear, that’s why I invited you on the show to talk about it. But I think there are two sides to this. I think there are certain elements of this movement, so to speak, that make a lot of sense and that I agree with. And then there are elements that don’t make sense to me and that I don’t agree with and that I think.
Can be encouraging people to do things that are unhealthy. And so we should probably start with maybe if you want to just break down for people, what is this exactly? What is this concept, body positivity, healthy at any size and any other similar. Phrasing that is tied up in this, you know,
Jordan: it’s, there’s a lot of emotion around this topic.
There’s a a lot of like heated debate, and I think unfortunately, I’ll, I’ll start with this. The fitness industry runs on a pendulum of extremes, right? So I mean, there’s always like, everything is either good or bad, right or wrong, healthier, unhealthy, fattening, or fat burning. So like it’s usually we hear the people who are on either end of the extreme, like the very vocal, vocal extremists, and a lot of the more moderate.
Understanding that there’s gray area is drowned out by the vocal minority. And
Mike: that’s marketing 1 0 1, right? Oh, absolutely. And taking an extreme position gets attention. And if you’re gonna sell stuff, even if it’s just selling your brand, you first have to get attention. So that’s, yeah. And
Jordan: the, arguably the, I, I wouldn’t say the best way to get attention, but the quickest way to get attention is to say something very extreme.
So it’s not the best because I think long term it’s sort. It dilutes your brand, it dilutes people from trusting you. So I think the best way is more what you and I do more, more moderate approach, but it’s not the the best way to get people’s attention very quickly. I’ll start by saying I think the intent of the original intent, I’ll say the original intent of the body positivity, health at every size community was great and still is great for the original intent in terms.
Making sure people understand that they’re a valuable human regardless of their body. Fat percentage that like they’re not a lesser human, they’re not a bad person. I think a lot of the fitness marketing and a lot of like the extreme end of things has led people to. To, you know, make fun of people who might be a higher body fat percentage.
Make them feel lesser, make them feel unvaluable. And I really love the idea of making sure people understand that it doesn’t matter what size you are from the perspective of you’re still a human and you’re still valuable. I think it’s really important to understand.
Mike: So, kind of a response maybe to a, it just sounds kind of like bullying basically, that people would experience because of their body com.
Jordan: and you know, we hear this in terms of like body shaming and there’s so many confounding factors of this as well, where it’s like even things that we don’t even really pay attention to, like Instagram, for example, Photoshopping pictures. Mm-hmm. Like changing things to make it seem like your body looks a different way.
Fitness influencers only posting pictures of them at their leanest when they’re on stage in a physique show, not showing them in their off season. These are all things that contribute to, to this. I think an overall negative body image that people. Of themselves cuz they’re comparing themselves to people who are only showing one aspect and not the all-encompassing what their life is really like.
So I really think that the body positivity, community, the health at every size community, the original intent of making sure people don’t feel like they’re just a piece of shit. If we look at the research, for example, we look at the research around actually getting people to make changes in their life, to eat healthier, to become more active.
It’s overwhelmingly clear that shaming people and, and making them feel bad. Does more harm than good. There’s a very small percentage of people that it actually does work for. And when
Mike: you say shaming, what does that mean? Like specifically, what does that
Jordan: mean? Essentially being like some Saying something like, you’re a fat piece of shit.
Okay. Right. Like you’re gross, you’re disgusting, like, Shaming people like the idea that shaming people into, like making them feel bad about how they are is going to all of a sudden make them be like, you know what? I need to make a change. I think that’s a really old school mentality of being, of using shame as a motivator.
And again, outrageously small percentage of people actually do respond well to it, but the vast majority respond better to a more positive, more encouraging, essentially increasing their self-efficacy, increasing their belief in themselves. Right. And if you look at research around behavior change and.
What is a predictor of success? The better you can get someone to believe in themselves, the more likely they are to succeed, and that’s not crazy. I think logically we all understand that if someone doesn’t believe in themselves, then why would they bother trying in the first place? If someone does believe in themselves, then they’re actually more likely to do it and to keep trying even when things get tough.
So I like the idea of. Stopping people from shaming other people, making them feel terrible about themselves. The issue is what the extremists have taken these communities to and these ideas, and they, they’ve become ideologues around really extremist points of view coming to the. Resolution that some of them say things like, your weight does not matter, like your body fat does not matter that you can be healthy at every size.
Mike: Underscore every Yeah. Like,
Jordan: which is just, it’s ridiculous. And I think a lot of those people, Who say things like, you can be healthy at every size. It’s like, define
Mike: healthy. Define
Jordan: healthy for sure. Number one. Yeah. I think a lot of what’s going on is I like their intent from the perspective of, I think what’s actually going on is they don’t want people’s feelings to be hurt.
Like, I really think that’s the baseline of it. And we have to recognize when they’re really going over the top to say this, they’re really being like, they’re trying to defend people to try and be like, listen, we don’t wanna hurt their feelings. And I get that. The issue is when you are trying to protect their feelings, you’re actually.
Damaging their health because even if someone could be metabolically cardiovascularly healthy at a very high body fat percentage, which statistically is very unlikely,
Mike: even if they could or it’s gonna be short-lived. Right? Very short. Yeah. Okay. The, you know, we’re talking about a 21 year old who is basically invincible and then this person.
Works their way toward obese and there will be a period where I guess technically you could say that they are healthy, but it’s not going to last. Correct. That, that, that, that the data is abundantly clear. Right. And I think a
Jordan: lot of that is because of. Generally speaking, what happens when someone is morbidly obese or, I think the, the correct term is, has morbid
I think they’re actually phasing out the morbid. Interesting. Okay. I believe it. The terminology is stage, you know, 1, 2, 3. I’ll search it while you’re talking, but you’re talking about like very, very
Jordan: overweight. Correct. And from a lifestyle perspective, I mean, what happens to a lot of these people? I think this is one of the most overlooked points of it.
People, they’re joint’s sake, it hurts. It’s very difficult to get up when you have a significant amount of body fat that’s holding you down. So then you’re not moving, you’re not exercising your joint’s sake, and then you end up becoming more and more sedentary, which we know leads to, uh, so many negative health issues.
So I think. This becomes a major issue when we start saying like, well, I want to protect their feelings. Yes, people’s feelings do matter, but we have to be able to tell people the truth, and we have to be able to get people to exercise and to live a healthy lifestyle. There’s a middle ground here. It’s not like either shaming them.
Or protecting their feelings. It’s like we can make sure their feelings are taken into account and make sure we’re not shaming them while still encouraging them to lose body fat, eat more healthy exercise on a regular basis. And this is that middle ground that the extremists don’t like to hear and don’t like to talk about.
And this is the extremists on the body positivity side as well as on the other side, like they’re extremists. Were like, no, this is bullshit. Like I’ve had conversations with people who say, no, this is ridiculous. We should shame them. And obviously, That’s ridiculous. If you take a logical scientific approach to it.
We know that doesn’t work, so this is where good. Comes in and understanding. Cool. So we have someone who doesn’t believe in their ability to succeed. We have someone who struggled with food their whole life, someone who isn’t exercising and is significantly overweight. How do we actually get that person to adopt a healthier lifestyle?
Well, it’s not gonna be through shaming them, but it’s also not going to be lying to them in order to protect their feelings.
Mike: Correct. Yeah. And both of us, you know, our, the majority of our work is. Just trying to educate people and and teach them how their metabolism works and how body composition works, and how to improve body composition and how to do it in a way that is mostly pleasant.
Of course, restricting calories is never. Always pleasant, but you can do it in a way that is, you know, where you’re not dealing with too much in the way of hunger or cravings, and it’s very doable, and you can find a training regimen that isn’t too grueling and that you can really make into a lifestyle.
But to your point, all of that needs to be based on. The facts as we know them and reality as we understand it, not as we or, well, I guess you could say reality as it is. I mean, we’re always correct. Yeah. We’re always investigating reality and learning more about it. But there are certain things like energy balance that.
It’s just an accepted, that is a settled science, so to speak. There is, that’s a non-negotiable. There is no getting around that, and it’s important for people to understand that and to deal with reality as it is, not as they wish it were. The other thing
Jordan: that I’ll say about. I would say specifically the body positivity movement.
Again, really liking their original intent. But one, something that I’ve seen extremists do that I’m not a fan of is I’m not a fan of just telling people, just love yourself as you are. It’s never made sense to me, and this doesn’t go for just people who might have a lot of body fat. I mean, this goes for everybody just saying, just love yourself as you are.
There are a number of issues with this, not least of which being. What if you don’t love yourself? Right? Like you wouldn’t just tell someone who’s suffering with depression and say you should just, you should just really stop being depressed just like yourself as you are. Just love yourself when you just tell someone you should just love yourself, but they don’t, you’re creating a major issue now.
They feel like something’s wrong with them because they don’t love themselves or they
Mike: can’t, yeah, they can’t bring themselves to like conjure up this love cur.
Jordan: Yeah. And if you’re telling people you’re perfect as you are. Number one, no one’s perfect. And number two is, if you just keep reinforcing this table, you’re perfect.
You’re perfect. You’re essentially saying you can’t get any better. And what I think realistically, if we’re looking at this, is sort of philosophy and also psychology, one of the things that clearly shows what makes people happier in their life is a purpose in order to improve and to get better. So if you’re just saying you’re perfect as you are, just love yourself as you.
You’re taking away the possibility of improvement. Like one of the things I always tell my clients and, and just people, family members in my life, it’s like, listen, you’re great. You’re a great person, but you can also be better. And I say that to myself as well. I think when you give someone the like, listen, I love you, I, and you’re great.
And you can also improve. There’s something there that gets people excited, well, how can I get better? What can I do to improve? And I think part of that pursuit in life is something that leads to happiness. It creates purpose. It gives you something to strive for if you’re perfect as you are now. What do you have
Mike: to do?
And there’s also something to be said for standards. Something I wanted to ask your thoughts on and what are your standards? And I would say that, I mean, I have very high standards in many areas of my life, but I do strive to vote, live up to them myself. I really try not to be a hypocrite, and so naturally, I’m, I view.
Other people. I view the world through that same lens. But to your point of like if somebody is objectively reviewing, Their circumstances, let’s say. Let’s say that they were able to do it in a kind of detached, unemotional way, outside looking in, and let’s say that they’re very overweight. They are unhealthy.
At least their doctor says that, no, like we actually have some issues. So they’re not doing so well on that front, and maybe they’re not doing so well on the relat. Love front, and maybe their finances aren’t so, aren’t so hot, and they’re not making progress in their career and the way that they want to.
And not that all that would stem from obesity, but let’s just say that’s kind of the situation. Almost like disingenuous. Because to say like, no, no, no, I’m perfect. Everything is perfect the way it is. I’m just gonna love my life and try to accept everything as it is right now, because it’s almost a, and, and this is something again where I do apply as to myself, that if we’re talking about love or admiration or respect, certainly with other people, I think people need to earn that.
Mm-hmm. I think people. They deserve to be treated with kindness unless they don’t, unless they’re clearly doing something that warrants a different response. But so I’m not talking like about, you know, people should be, I think given the benefit of the doubt, and they should be, maybe it’s like the old golden rule.
We should generally strive to treat others the way we wanna be treated. But if we’re talking about now love, admiration, respect, that needs to be earned. And I think that that applies to us individually as well, ourselves. Like, and again, I’ve thought about this myself. It sounds funny cause I’m not this kind of person, but love myself.
I mean, it sounds, I don’t, that doesn’t, that’s not the wording I would use. It’s, it’s, uh, it’s just not me. But let’s say I have respect for myself. I can say that without laughing, that passes the giggle test. But I also, I, I could say that, you know, I’ve worked to earn. And that might sound a bit odd, but that’s just kind of how I’m wired and that’s really comes from me living up to what I believe are fairly high standards.
But to your point, I’m always looking to get better and I, I mean, I even go as far as there are certain people who are. I’ll go to them and ask, do they have, just like, you know, because sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know and you have blind spots. Okay, you looking at me, my situation, what I’m doing, the goals I’m working toward, how I’m progressing toward them.
Do you see anything? That is obviously awry, like something I’m really missing. Do you see any, any area that I, you know, I could improve in? And I’m very interested and that’s one of the reasons why I’m always reading the next book and just, I’m always looking for the next thing that maybe it’s one of those unknown unknowns where I just don’t know what I don’t know.
So I’m always looking for how do I break through that next level. And uh, again, to your point, that is. A major motivator. That’s a lot of what I do in my day-to-day life is really driven by that underlying process is just finding how do I make things better in my life? How do I increase my sphere of influence?
How do I have a bigger impact? How do I make a bigger difference in other people’s lives? And the people who are, you know, immediately in my vicinity, and then kind of reaching out maybe through my work is how I’m able to impact a lot of other people and all of that. Does come down to holding high standards.
And so when I see in some of these, these catalogs, for example, for athleisure wear that come in the mail, and there are very, very obese, like very big people as models. I feel like that’s probably harmful just in terms of maintaining standards. Just as though like take Victoria’s Secret, where for a long time they had these starved out models.
I think that also is probably harmful and some of these women now that I’ve seen in some of these catalogs, I think it’s actually a good thing that I think that you have women who, they are in shape, but they look like real women and that does actually reflect health. But what are your thoughts on this point of like the standards for beauty, the standards for health, and is it important to maintain those and to not promote.
Something that is objectively unhealthy and objectively not beautiful to most people. There is a subjective element there, but most people would not look at a very obese person and say, oh, that’s beautiful. We need to carve a statue of that. You know what I mean?
Jordan: Mm-hmm. Yeah. So there’s a lot of heated debate around this topic.
I’ve seen both sides personally. I’ve given this a lot of. And I think a lot of it depends on how the company is depicting it. So for example, personally I have no issue with seeing like a mannequin or in a magazine that is like, it has a lot of body fat. And candidly, I actually. I like it from the perspective of thinking about someone who may have a lot of body fat.
Looking at that and saying And being encouraged. Being encouraged, and that’s what I, I really like that because again, going back, so much of my philosophy and my coaching methodology is based around self-efficacy, increasing people’s ability to believe in themselves, and I think a lot of people, Who might not have gotten started yet with fitness.
They look at the models, they look at the mannequins, they look at everything in their mind, they’re like, I’m never gonna look like that. And even someone who might be more realistic, it’s hard for them to imagine them ever getting to that point. And it’s even hard for them to imagine just getting into exercise clothes, period, just getting into the gym period.
Never mind losing a hundred pounds. So I actually, I really do like the idea. Putting people and showing people who are a significantly higher body fat percentage, who have a significantly higher body fat percentage in those clothes. Because I do think that it will get some people who have been self-conscious to, who haven’t been motivated to, to say like, you know what, like.
That person’s on the cover of that magazine doing it, and that person is also exercising. That person is sweating like that person is working. They’re working to be better. Sort of like the same thing when I see someone in the gym who has a very high body fat percentage, like I, I know a lot of people, they would make fun of that person.
I’m like, fuck yeah, let’s go. Like, I love seeing you in here. For me, it’s the same thing, and I think unfortunately, There hasn’t been that like, Hey, we’re gonna take someone who has a high body fat percentage and put them on the front of a magazine. Now, if that magazine is saying, Has just that person there in that clothing and is saying like, this is healthy.
That’s a different issue. And if they’re perpetuating saying like, your body fat level doesn’t matter, well now we have a separate issue. But I do support the idea of showing people of different sizes in their marketing simply because I very much believe in, and I know having had conversations with people who’ve struggled with this, being like seeing that.
Gives me the confidence to go to the gym myself, to put myself in those clothes, to get myself to the gym and sweat because I saw someone else doing it. And we know this from, if you look at the research around self-efficacy, one of the easiest ways to improve self-efficacy is through something called social modeling, right?
So when you see someone else doing what you want to do, but you’re too scared to do it gives you the confidence. Say, you know what? Like, screw it, that person did it. I can do it. So I think it’s all about how they’re promoting it. If they’re saying, having a high body fat does. At all negatively affect your health.
I’m like, all right, screw off. Now. You’re just trying to pander to a certain audience. But if you’re showing a person with a higher body fat percentage working hard and trying to improve to improve their health, well, I’m all
Mike: about that. Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense to me and, and I think of in the case of something like Victoria’s Secret, where they’re just selling sex appeal.
That, again, I understand for a long time. They were showing women that some of them were very attractive. Some of them, even for my tastes, were a bit skinny. They looked like almost malnourished because they probably were, and there were some extreme kind of regimens these girls would go through to look that way.
So I understand that that is also, I don’t think. If we look at standards of beauty, and especially with probably younger girls who grow up thinking that that’s how you have to look. And then because they don’t look that like that naturally and living Healthly being active, eating well, they’re not on the other end of the spectrum, they’re not very overweight and, but then they feel like they are inadequate, similar to what you had mentioned on Instagram or if you go scrolling around.
And what you don’t understand is that half the pictures are photoshopped. And in the case of men, a lot of the guys are on drugs and. If we’re talking about guys comparing themselves, but even in the case of women where they’re, and they’re probably more impacted by that kind of stuff, just cuz there definitely is more pressure and it could be a social thing, it may even be a biological thing, but there’s certainly more pressure for women to be beautiful, I guess you could say.
But then if you fast forward to now where it’s showing very different types of where Victoria’s Secret is showing very different types of bodies. Again, I don’t see that as a bad thing at all, but, 10 years from now if 80% of the models are obese. And so now if, if you’re talking about pendulums swinging hard, right?
So if the pendulum, again, what the standards, what should we aspire to, if that goes from this kind of extreme, very skinny, all the way to. Well, anything and everything is beautiful and the standards have now loosened to the point where it almost like, it’s almost as if there is no more standard anymore.
You can just look however you want and you can tell yourself you’re beautiful and you are beautiful. That, that, to me, those smacks kind of the self-love thing where it’s like, Is that really gonna work? I don’t think so. I think again, like there are biological, we are biologically programmed to find certain aspects of the body and certain looks attractive.
And no matter how we may try to do mental gymnastics to change that, it’s just not gonna work. It’s probably easier to just be in good shape and take care of your body. And just naturally be able to think, maybe not beautiful again, that’s not the word I would use, but for myself. But to go, Hey, I take care of myself and I don’t look bad.
There we go. Like, that’s enough for me personally. You know what I mean?
Jordan: I completely understand what you’re saying. I think for me, I’ve never been good at like the marketing advertising side. Like I’m just, I’ve been coaching since I was 14. Like it’s just my default thought process is how do I get more people to take care of their body, to feel comfortable enough to go into the gym, to feel confident enough to actually like start working out whether it’s at home, whether wherever it is, and.
What I am happy to see is that I’ve noticed people who otherwise might not have felt confident enough to start working out have now begun the journey of getting healthier because they feel more comfortable. To work out to put these workout clothes on because of that.
Mike: Yeah, yeah. No, no, I, and that totally makes sense to me, and I think that’s great.
And I guess what we can hope for is that you had mentioned that the original intentions are along these lines, and the original purpose was to create that result. And it certainly is. Hopefully though. The movement and the messaging doesn’t get co-opted by the radicals. Correct. On the fringe. Correct. Who are very vocal.
And it’s the silent majority. Cliche. Right. So when you have a minority, but if they make a lot of noise, they can make themselves appear to be more formidable and more numerous than they actually are. And a lot of people who are in the middle who are not worked up about it, they just don’t realize. How many people there are like them who are thinking, eh, something’s off about this, but you know, who am I to speak of?
But you have a lot of people though that don’t realize that collectively they could squash the unproductive, screeching, and kind of stick to the good. Kernel of actual useful information and, and really push that forward. Yeah, absolutely.
If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my sports nutrition company Legion, which thanks to the support of many people like you, is the leading brand of all natural sports supplements in the. So if you were king, where would you like to see this movement go? And like if you were in charge of the messaging of it, are there any like obvious just in your experience having worked with many people who were maybe positively or negatively impacted by maybe some of the more extreme?
What do you think in terms of how this might be able to be, how can we magnify the good and maybe suppress the bad?
Jordan: That’s a, that’s a really good question, and the first thought that came to my mind were an influx of messages that I’ve received probably over the last 18 to 24 months from people. They really got sucked into the extremist end of the health at every size and body positivity movement who messaged me.
They said things to the effect of, and I’ll never forget this. I remember one woman particularly, but this happened a number of times where they told me they struggled with their weight, their whole life, and the, uh, ideology of health at every size and the body, the extreme body positivity movement, it caught their eye, it short term acutely.
Made them feel better about themselves. They got like vacuumed like sucked into it. And this one woman specifically told me that she gained more weight than she ever had because everyone in the community was just saying, you’re great. You’re awesome as you are. Like, eat what you want, however much you want.
And she was like, great. Like I have a community of people. Who are telling me this, and that’s fine. And so she kept doing it. She kept doing, she gained more weight. She got to the heaviest she’d ever been. She was going to the doctor, like her blood pressure was through the roof. Her joints were aching, like she was the unhealthiest she’d ever been.
And finally she came back and she messaged me. She was like, I really got sucked into that community. And oh my God, it ruined me. By the time she messaged me, she had lost about 20 pounds. She was back on track. She was feeling great. But that message, that one message, but the collective messages really reinforc.
In me, sort of what I said earlier around the idea of. When you have something to strive for and something to improve that will lead to more happiness, that will lead to better health outcomes, physically, mentally, emotionally. And I really do think that, again, the intent of those communities is good to make people feel loved and to help.
Uh, like you, you don’t want people’s feelings hurt. But unfortunately, I think when you take it to the extreme of trying to protect people’s feelings at the expense of the truth, you end up doing more harm than good. And I would love to see a more middle ground approach. Like I would love to. Communities in which I think of it like this in terms of a relationship.
The people who I know who have the best relationships, and I’m, I’m speaking about romantic relationships right now. The people who I know have the best relationships are always saying their partner makes them better and their partner makes them want to be better. And I see this with romantic relationships.
I see this with friendships. For example, for me, with my fiance for sure, Jiu-Jitsu, my community in jujitsu, like everyone I, I train with. They make me want to be better. And what I see in a lot of these communities, the extremist communities around health at every size and body positivity, is, it’s really just encouraging.
You’re great as you are. Do whatever your body, do whatever you want and you’ll be fine. Which is a very harmful message. So I would like to see more of it, a trend towards, listen, like we’re all valuable. There’s no need to shame anybody. There’s no need to guilt anybody. There’s no need to try to hurt anybody’s feelings.
But if we’re really going to be as each individual and as the collective community be, We have to figure out a way to tell the truth, to be honest with people, to help them become a better version of themself so that they feel confident enough in themselves to take the right action and the right action isn’t starving yourself.
The right action isn’t working out. 12 times a week, the right action isn’t taking unhealthy measures in the other direction. The right action is taking healthy steps to literally taking more steps every day, becoming more active, including more fruits and vegetables, staying hydrated, not giving into every whim and every desire.
Just because you’re perfect as you are because you’re great. But you can always be better and I would love to see that message spread
Mike: more. Yeah, I love that. And it makes me think of something in a book called The Magic of Thinking Big by, uh, Schwartz, I believe David Schwartz. And I’m not big on self-help book self-development because, uh, I have read a lot of them in the past.
And then I got to a point where I was. Seeing the same ideas rehashed, and so that isn’t even in my reading. I read like on a genre rotation that I kind of move through. And so it’s not in there. I have like a be smarter slash better genre, but usually it’s not a self-help book per se. Mm-hmm. But this is one that I actually really did like and I often recommend and.
In it, the author shares a little anecdote. He probably made ’em all up, which is fine. Uh, but he shares a little anecdote of somebody basically talking about how at the time they weren’t making money and they lived in like a cheap apartment and, you know, eating cheap food, but they didn’t view themselves strictly as they were at that time, because if they only looked at themselves as, you know, broke and barely able, Just living on subsistence income, kind of barely able to keep the wolf from the door.
That they would be very discouraged. They would, if they really just objectively looked at themselves, they would see a nobody and they would be nobody. Be a nobody forever kind of thing. Instead though, what they decided to do is to look at themselves as the person they were going to be, as the person that they were working to become.
And I believe this was like in the business kind of context. So you know, I, they saw themselves as an executive and they were gonna. Living in a nice house and they were gonna be able to take care of their family. And so I just think of that in the context of fitness. So if somebody’s in a bad place now and they’re with their health and their fitness, they don’t have to just view themselves as they are now.
And to this point that you’ve been making of, we can. Change, we can make progress. And that’s really where happiness comes from, right? Is I, I think most of it just comes from making meaningful progress towards significant goals that are tied to meaningful purposes. But being able to envision, okay, here’s the person that I can be, here’s the person that I can become, and then working toward that, that’s always been useful for me at
There’s no question. And, and there’s a, a tremendous amount of research showing. When you feel like you have a purpose, you’re happier. And we can even, this transfers to the workplace as well. One of the most, arguably the most, the greatest determinant of happiness in the workplace is feeling like your job has purpose and also being able to see the purpose, like the end result of your job.
Right? So if we look at people in the workplace who generally speaking their job, I don’t know, like plugging in data, right? They plug in data to a spreadsheet. A lot of the time these people will have a low level of happiness in the workplace because maybe they work in a really big company and they don’t see the effect that their job has on the company as a whole, or the people that they’re working with, the clients they’re working with.
Whereas the highest levels of workplace happiness always come from people who see the direct result of their. On the people that they’re helping. And we see this out of the workplace as well. We see this with people in life, the happiest people. Oftentimes it, it has little to do with how much money you make, has little to do with a lot of like these superficial things and much more to do with your purpose in life.
And you are, you are striving to improve in some way. So some people do derive happiness from improving in terms. Their career, how much money they’re making other people, the effect that their career is having on the people they’re working with. We see this with religion, trying to become better with whatever your religion is trying to be more to live a, a better life, a more purposeful life.
We see this in every aspect of the world, and I think by, by taking that away from people with the intent. To not hurt their feelings. We end up oftentimes taking away their not ability, but we take away a reason to strive to be better. And when you take that away, you unknowingly take away a lot of potential happiness and purpose that they could have.
Mike: if they are, Operating in that way in regards to their health and fitness, it is inevitably going to spill over into other areas of their life. Absolutely. There’s, there’s just no way that if I, I think of the person you had spoken about or reached out to you about how unproductive it was to buy fully into the radical health at every size people.
Then again, if somebody is caught up in. Just because of how close our physical health is to our identity. And I think that’d be another discussion, but I think it’s actually, I think it’s healthy and productive to not over-identify you with just your body. And it’s certainly not the shape of your body, but the proximity is what it is, right?
So if somebody with something as intimate as that has latched onto this philosophy that. It’s stagnant, but maybe, almost even apathetic, like kind of, there’s nothing that really can be done. This is just the way I am, so I’m just gonna accept it kind of thing. Then it’s gonna be hard for that person to take the exact opposite.
Mindset in their work, for example, or their relationships or their social obligations or anything else? I would think absolutely.
Jordan: I mean, we see this all the time in people who maybe they’re not happy with how their body looks, maybe that they’re have a very high body fat percentage and a lot of times, You know, I have people in my family who are like this and close friends who are like, well, I’m not gonna start dating yet.
I’m gonna wait until I lose weight to start dating, to go on a dating app. And it’s because they don’t feel confident enough in how they are now in order to begin that process, which it delays their ability or their, uh, it delays the, the opportunity for them to meet someone else who could help them get better.
I think it’s stemming from them not feeling. Confident enough in who they are because of the way they currently are. So yeah, we see this all the time. It’ll affect their ability to get the confidence to go to the gym, to get the confidence to go apply for a job, to get the confidence to ask someone out on a date.
I mean, it seeps into every aspect of your life. What I’ve found interesting about this is a lot of this stems from like the process of getting and being healthy. It’s d. And it requires a lot of discipline. It requires a great deal of doing things when you don’t want to do them. And what that really boils down to when you think about it, is making a promise to yourself and keeping that promise.
And this is one of the things that I find very interesting is when you make it a habit. To keep a promise that you made to yourself, whether it’s exercising regularly, hitting your calories regularly, whatever it is. When you make a promise and keep that promise, you become more confident in yourself, and that seeps into other aspects of your life in which you take more chances, more difficult chances.
You take greater risks because you are becoming more confident. But when you make a promise to yourself, maybe you wanna exercise more, eat better, whatever it is, and you break that promise, well now you don’t believe in. Because you’ve broken promises to yourself, and if you think that doesn’t seep into other aspects of your life, you’re outta your mind.
Mike: rational response. If it were somebody else, it would be irrational for you to continue placing your trust in them if they continually break it or let you down, if they don’t, absolutely keep up their end of one bargain after another. Yeah. Eventually you are going to conclude that this person is just too unreliable to deal.
And so if that person is you, then that’s a tough place to be in. But I would think that, again, that’s actually a, it’s a rational response. And so the question is how do you resolve it? Do you resolve it by trying to think the right thoughts? No, no, no. You resolve it through action. Exactly. Right. You resolve it through actually keeping promises, like you’re saying, even if we just start small.
Even if it’s, if we’re talking about diet, if it’s maybe just eating a, a bit less non-nutritious calories, maybe making a little swap for some vegetables, like that’s it. And if it’s exercise, if it’s just maybe a 20 minute walk once a day, like that’s the promise that I can keep kind of the mini habits approach.
That is how you build that bridge across the chasm that is, like you’ve said, is, is claiming a lot of maybe, well, it actually unfortunately is claiming a lot of lives. Mm-hmm. But in a very literal sense. But it’s also, it’s claiming a lot of, I guess, lived experience you could say. Like people are not living nearly as well as they could otherwise.
Jordan: And in terms of those habits, you’re saying starting small, it’s so important. If you try and take someone and have them do something massive, like, all right, you’re gonna go from literally never exercising to training five times a week like that will work for a very small percentage of the population.
The vast majority, they won’t be able to maintain it. I’ve always found adding a habit, a small habit, as opposed to taking it away, tends to work better. So, for example, when I’m starting with someone, I’m not gonna say, No more donuts. I’m gonna say, let’s just make sure you get one fruit in today. Like anything else, cool, but keep the promise to yourself that you’ll have a full apple, or you’ll have a serving of watermelon, or you’ll have whatever it is.
Let’s just make sure you get this one thing in. And by, you know, virtue of adding in more nutrient dense food and lower calorie, more nutrient dense, more filling foods, higher fiber, whatever, often they end up eating less as a result of it, but equally, if not more important. They’ve now just kept the promise to themselves.
They’ve kept it, and it wasn’t easy to do, but it was easier than say, like going from binging all the time and, and overeating and just eating all these highly palatable foods and just the majority of their diet being highly processed. Instead of just taking all of that away, just, Hey, add this one thing in.
Something I’ve done for a lot of people, especially during lockdown. Just having them get a certain number of steps, not even just a step count, but saying like, Hey, I, if you have staircase in your house, just make sure you walk up that staircase five total times today, or 10 total times today. And we’ve progressively increased that volume over the course of people being locked down in their home.
So people who might have started off with three total times walking up their steps ended now like 50 times. Throughout the day, they’re walking up and down their steps, getting a lot of steps in. They feel more confident. Their cardio’s up, their endurance is up, their confidence in themselves is up. When before three times in a day was very, uh, overwhelming.
Now, 50 times in a day is like, they’re crushing it and they feel great, and now they’re like, when this is over and gyms are open, I’m gonna go because I feel confident myself. It’s just those, like you said, just those small steps to keep a promise to yourself, that can really make a huge difference.
Mike: I like that a lot.
And that, that’s some good advice for anybody who needs to hear it regarding lockdowns, depending on where you’re at. Like, I’m in Florida right now and I gotta say it’s nice that, uh, how laid back everybody is here. It’s nice. So depending on where you’re at, right? So if you’re still in a very locked down, You don’t have a gym to go to, or you’re just not able to live your life the way that you normally would.
I think that’s some great advice is are there some mini habits, so to speak, or to use BJ Fogg’s terms, some tiny habits that you could start picking up that are not going to. Necessarily transform your health and fitness like walking stairs. That is certainly going to help for sure. Actually. I mean, if you’re doing 50 runs a day, you’re actually burning a bit of calories and that is good cardio.
That’s, I would say would be certainly effective cardio, but that’s pretty cool that they start with something small and that has now convinced them that once the gyms are open, they’re actually ready for it. So if anybody. Currently not feeling ready to go to the gym. And maybe that’s because they can’t, because it’s closed or because it’s, it’s open, but there’s just a, you know, a psychological block there that doing something very simple like that, just make it, it could be again, yet.
Walking stairs. It could be just walking outside, it could be doing some body weight stuff. You know, start with five pushups a day. Cool. And then over time, can you turn that into 50 a day or couple pushups and a couple air squats a day kind of thing, until again, you just feel confident enough that if you do commit to, I think this is the key, right?
So it’s like once you reach that point to where you feel. If you do start going to the gym, you are going to be able to keep that promise to yourself. You’re not setting yourself up for another failure that’s gonna make you feel terrible.
Jordan: Correct. Yeah, that’s exactly right. And we see this all the time, like if you’ve ever like coached people in person, like I see this all the time with people.
They come in and sometimes I would be coaching someone in person. It’d be their first like introductory session and I could tell by their body language, by how they spoke, by how they moved, like. They were anxious and they were very nervous to be there. So instead of me working out with them in the middle of the gym floor in front of everybody, I’d take ’em to a corner.
They’d take ’em to one corner like downstairs, and I’d bring a couple dumbbells and it would just be a workout in the corner. So like very few if anybody could see. And over time, the more confident they got in themselves, they were like, Hey, you know, could we go try like that machine, or could go to the squat rack or whatever it is.
I didn’t do it the first time we worked out and not the second or the third usually. Maybe it took a month, two months, three months to get to that point. The more you do something and the more confident you get, then the more risks you’re willing to take. It seems like it should be common knowledge. To me, it seems like it.
We should understand that the more you get comfortable taking a risk, then the better you’ll get at taking risks and the more confident you’ll be in yourself to struggle with the consequences, right? Like even if you take a risk and you fail, Well, at least you took the risk. At least you tried. And you see the worst case scenario, like you go to the squat rack and then who knows?
Like maybe, uh, like we set the pins up so you’re safe, but maybe, who knows, maybe you fall over the first time you squat and the, it makes a big, loud clang and people look and maybe you get red in the face and you feel embarrassed, but you’re like, cool. So, That was it. Like that was the worst case scenario.
So then you get back and you keep going, you keep going. I really, I see this with the scale, like there’s been such a huge demonization of the scale as this evil thing that you should never use because the scale, it’s only a number. I’m like, that’s right. It’s. It’s only a number, so ideally we should get to a point where you can weigh yourself and remember it’s only a number and not smash it with a baseball bat because it’s a number you don’t like.
If it’s like you say only a number, then we should get used to being able to step on it, recognize it as a data point, and. Make that a habit without attaching so much emotion to it.
Mike: Right. Just as income and savings and net worth, they’re just numbers. Correct. But they can be useful if they are understood in the right context.
Jordan: Yes, exactly. If you invest in the stock market and you see like a dip in the stocks one day, if you understand it, you’re not gonna freak. Like, you know, over time, like depending on what you’re doing, the stock market has gone up over time. And so, you know, like a single day in the stock market doesn’t determine your net worth.
It doesn’t determine what’s going on with your stocks. It doesn’t mean you should pull outta your stocks. It’s like, You keep going because you know, it’s just one data point. It’s the same thing with this like yeah, the data point matters, but really what matters more is the collection of data points over time.
Not any one data point. Yeah. And
Mike: it’s key to not emotionally catastrophize one single data point, which is I, it just seems to be like, it’s kind of hardwired, I guess. It’s a tendency that we can probably all do better. Just being aware of, and I know certainly in business, I would say naturally I wasn’t inclined toward that type of thinking necessarily, but in business it has certainly happened where especially as numbers get bigger and as staff gets bigger, so more people are counting on the numbers and things can happen and it’s very easy to.
Immediately envision this worst case scenario and get lost in like how bad it could be. But, but I believe actually was this, fuck, this might have been in thinking fast and slow, I don’t remember which book, but a, a kind of pop psychology book that I read where basically people, and this is all of us, we tend to overestimate.
The chances of certain bad things happening, like the chances are actually very small, but we just, we humans tend to, if we don’t really look at it objectively, we’ll tend to take those small chances of something going wrong and blow them up into, you know, thinking that it’s, there’s a 70% chance when it’s like actually a 2% chance.
And then on the flip side, we also contend to overestimate. Chances of of things going well as well. So that’s something that I’ve had to. I guess just learn to deal with in business. And it also helps though that prism, so to speak, or that lens is useful for fitness too, because the individual workout doesn’t really matter that much in the scheme of things.
The individual weigh in doesn’t matter that much in the scheme of things. Even a week doesn’t matter that much, especially when we’re looking at this as a lifestyle. So it is helpful to be able to take the bigger picture and understand that we don’t have to be perfect with any of this. We just have to.
The most important things kind of mostly write most of the time, right? And so long as we do that, we can get to our goals probably about as fast, maybe as 80% as quickly as perfect, which is really not even possible anyway. It reminds me of speeding. You know, I’m sure you’ve heard the, it’s just the cliched anecdote against speeding where it feels like you’re getting there faster.
But if you actually like look at the numbers by driving 10 to 15, even 20 miles over the speed limit, you won’t actually get there that much faster. Like instead of, you know what I mean, instead of 30 minutes, it’s uh, 35 or maybe 40 minutes, but there’s just that emotional response to going faster. That type of response, that type of emotional response.
I think, can I see that in fitness? I see that in finance, for example, of people wanting to do extreme things or overreacting to temporary negative things. That when a more productive response would be to try to maintain perspective. Yeah,
Jordan: I agree. And, and sort of going back to what you were saying a few minutes ago, one of my favorite quotes is, uh, to the effect of most people radically overestimate what they can accomplish in one year and dramatically underestimate what they can accomplish in seven.
And I’ve heard the, uh, I’m sure you have heard this as well, like the most overnight successes take like seven to 10 years. You just don’t hear about them until like they’ve put in enough work where all of a sudden you hear about them and you think it was an overnight success. But really they’ve been grinding for the last decade.
And I see that this is one of the major reasons I see people failing with their fitness is because, you know, we’ll say on on January one, they make a resolution that they’re gonna lose. I don’t know, they’re gonna lose 50 pounds in the next year and they’re gonna do all of this stuff and then by February one.
They’ve not lost nearly as much weight as they think they should based on the arbitrary number that they outlined on January one. So they think, they think they’re
Mike: failing the Instagram post that they saw? Yeah, the photoshopped one, the,
Jordan: the transformation photo that was photoshopped or just like the, the transformation photo that’s, The outlier, the person who lost an unbelievable amount of weight in a very short period of time, which you have no idea what they did to do that.
You don’t know like how restrictive they were. You don’t know if they’ve been able to maintain it since then, but you see that one post and then you’re like, well, I should be able to do that. And then 30 days into your own lifestyle change, you give up because you’re not anywhere near where you think you quote unquote should be based on your complete, unrealistic expectation of progress.
Mike: Totally agree. Totally. Well, we could probably keep going for hours, but I think we’ve done a good job. I mean, I, Hey, I, I’m happy with the discussion and I appreciate you taking the time again to share your thoughts. I always enjoy listening to you talk about this stuff because you have a lot of, Experience that I don’t have, which is cool.
I have the experience, I have, I’ve worked with a lot of people, a lot of people virtually, but some of the more, I’d say softer parts of coaching and some of the psychological stuff. It’s fun to talk to somebody who has a lot of experience with that in particular. So thanks again for taking
Jordan: your time and thank you for having me on.
I always love these discussions, so.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah. And let’s just wrap up with where people can find you, find your work, if there’s anything in particular you want people to know about. I mean, you mentioned, well, actually no, that was before. Before we went live. That you have, I believe it’s your inner circle.
I’m sure that people should, if they liked this discussion, they’re gonna like what you have going on there. So Yeah. Where can people check out your stuff? Yeah, I would
Jordan: say don’t buy anything from me until you actually look at a lot of my free content. My podcast, the Jordan site mini podcast is where I’m spending a lot of time right now.
So I’d love to get you on that so we could have another discussion on there. But uh, that’s definitely the main place to see me.
Mike: Awesome. Yeah, I’d love to do it. You just let me know and we’ll make it happen.
Jordan: Awesome man. Thank you. This was a
Mike: blast. I appreciate you. Absolutely. Same. All right. Well, that’s it for this episode.
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