In this podcast, I interview Joe Chura, who used what he learned in Bigger Leaner Stronger to get healthy and fit, and improve his well-being.
Before finding my work, Joe was climbing the ranks in the automotive industry and building his own dealership company, Dealer Inspire. Unfortunately, while he was successfully growing his business, he neglected his health, and things started to deteriorate.
Between drinking a lot of alcohol, not making time to exercise, and work stress, he was more than 50 pounds overweight and developed health issues like WPW syndrome and had to have back surgery.
Once he sold his companies, though, and nearly having a heart attack, he realized how important his health was. After all, what good was all his hard work if he worked himself to death? And that’s where my work comes in.
Joe found and read Bigger Leaner Stronger and started following the workouts and improving his diet, which has helped him get fit and dramatically improve his everyday life.
In this episode, we chat about . . .
- How Joe got started in the automotive industry
- How he ignored his health and body while building his business
- His realization of how important physical health is and how he changed his routine and diet
- Making time to read
- The importance of having goals to work towards
- How to be productive while multi-tasking and the myth of the “overnight success”
- What he would’ve changed in his entrepreneurship journey knowing what he knows now
- Why he started his own podcast
- And more . . .
So, if you want to hear Joe’s story and what he learned in Bigger Leaner Stronger that radically transformed his health for the better, listen to this podcast!
Lastly, if you want to support the show, please drop a quick review of it over on iTunes. It really helps!
7:49 – Where were you before you started the program?
43:14 – As an entrepreneur, what would you have changed if you were to go back in time?
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, Mike Matthews here and welcome to another episode of Muscle for Life. Thanks for joining me today to hear an interview I did with Joe Chira. I just realized that I never asked him how to pronounce his last name, C H U R A. Shura. Chira. Sorry Joe, if I am butchering your last name, but Joe is a guy who used my bigger, leaner, stronger book and program to dramatically improve his health.
Fitness. He lost more than 50 pounds of fat and gained a lot of lean muscle and strength. And before that, before finding me in my work, Joe was consumed with building his business, which was growing quickly and succeeding. And that was very exciting, of course, but it came at a cost. His health and his fitness, and as he explains in this episode, he was drinking a lot.
He was not exercising, he was not eating well. He was overwhelmed with work stress. He was more than 50 pounds overweight and he was developing various health issues like W P W Syndrome, get to have back surgery. And then Joe got on the other end of an exit from his business and after nearly having a heart attack, he realized that he really had to focus on his health and he realized that he should not have let it get that far.
And all the financial success in the world doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have your health, and especially if you’re dead and gone. And so Joe went on a mission to get healthy and get fit, and he found my book Bigger, Leaner, Stronger. He read it. He started doing the workouts. He started applying the nutritional information, and of course the fat started melting off and the muscle started packing on.
And he realized that he had found the solution that all he had to do was keep going, and eventually he would be in a much better place. And so in this interview, we talk about Joe and his story. We talk a bit of entrepreneurial related things, productivity related things, lifestyle related things, and of course health and fitness things.
And in his case, of course, the interaction between those two aspects of his life and how he came to realize how important it is to make time for health and fitness. Also, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my v i p one-on-one coaching service because my team and I have helped people of all ages and all circumstances lose fat, build muscle, and get into the best shape of their life faster than they ever thought.
And we can do the same for you. We make getting fitter, leaner, and stronger, paint by numbers simple by carefully managing every aspect of your training and your diet for you. Basically, we take out all of the guesswork, so all you have to do is follow the plan and watch your body change day after day, week after week, and month after.
What’s more, we’ve found that people are often missing just one or two crucial pieces of the puzzle, and I’d bet a shiny shackle, it’s the same with you. You’re probably doing a lot of things right, but dollars to donuts, there’s something you’re not doing correctly or at all that’s giving you the most grief.
Maybe it’s your calories or your macros. Maybe it’s your exercise selection. Maybe it’s your food choices. Maybe you’re not progressively overloading your muscles or. Something else, and whatever it is, here’s what’s important. Once you identify those one or two things you’re missing, once you figure it out, that’s when everything finally clicks.
That’s when you start making serious progress. And that’s exactly what we do for our clients. To learn more, head over to www.by legion.com. That’s bui allegion.com. V I p and schedule your free consultation call, which by the way is not a high pressure sales call. It’s really just a discovery call where we get to know you better and see if you’re a good fit for the service.
And if you’re not for any reason, we will be able to share resources that’ll point you in the right direction. So again, if you appreciate my work and if you want to see. If you also want to finally stop spinning your wheels and make more progress in the next few months than you did in the last few years, check out my VIP coaching [email protected] legion.com/vip.
Hey Joe. Hey Mike. How are ya? Pretty good. Just busy getting ready to move and I think I’ve gotten down to what it is with sleep. If I get too busy, if I’m like going from 6:00 AM to nine or 9:30 PM with maybe little breaks like bathroom and eat some food here and there, I don’t feel symptom.
Of anxiety, but I feel like I have a hard time settling down and relaxing, and it screws up my sleep. And then I have a hard time staying asleep. I can fall asleep, but I’ll wake up every two hours. And is it time to get up? Oh, no. No. Okay. Go back to sleep. Oh. Nope. Go back to sleep. So now I’m running into that as I.
And again, busy with getting ready to move from Virginia to Florida for people listening. And then also I’m doing a round of updates to bigger, leaner, stronger and thinner. Leaner, stronger. And I really want them done really as soon as possible. I would like to have all of the new material live by the end of August.
And to do that, I have to work on those projects every day, really. And so sometimes, like yesterday, I couldn’t start until 8:00 PM I. Take care of other urgent things, whereas, those things are not urgent.
Joe: They’re just important. Mike, why is it as you get older, when you have chances to sleep in, you can’t sleep in like Sunday?
I had the perfect opportunity on Father’s Day to sleep in a couple more hours, and I was wide awake at 7:00 AM. They didn’t take advantage of it all.
Mike: I haven’t slept for more than six hours straight. I actually can’t remember the last time.
Joe: Yeah, I know when we talked about this on my podcast, kids, man, I swear my beds in my house are ranged in this way, where my son comes in my room, I leave my room in the middle of the night, go in the guest bedroom, he comes in there, my wife comes in there.
Throughout the whole night, we’re switching beds like three or four times. Like sleep is horrible and he’s nine years old. I’m like, When is this gonna end? At some point, I can’t imagine when he is 21 and he is still laying in bed with us. But it’s fun for now. We’re trying to embrace it, but man, it’s definitely hard on the body not getting the sleep.
Mike: Yeah, I hear you. Last night. My daughter, she’s three. She has not committed to sleeping in her bed just yet, and so she wanted to try it last night. So my son actually laid with her. Okay. She’s asleep, and I could then sleep in my bedroom with. My wife, but I knew, I’m like, Eh, there’s no way. It’s Romy. She’s not gonna make it.
So I was like, Eh, I’ll just go to the basement where I also just don’t sleep well ever for no good reason. I don’t know why the basement is cool. You would think it would be a great place to sleep. I do not sleep well there never once. So I’m like here we go. I know what’s gonna happen if I sleep in the bed with my wife, like Romy’s gonna come or she’s gonna have to go.
And that’s exactly what happened. Unfortunately, there was a thunderstorm last night so that didn’t help. There was 0% chance it was gonna work. Zero.
Joe: I came home from the Cubs game last night went out with some people from my company and came home, saw my son in my bed. Didn’t even attempt it.
Just went straight to the guest room. I’m like, I know what’s gonna happen. It’s not worth it. .
Mike: Anyway. Let’s talk about you. Let’s talk about your fitness story. Also, the context of your story is interesting and a bit different than a lot of the success story interviews that I’ve done. And so why don’t we start with a little before and after snapshot of where you were at with your health and your fitness before you found me and my work.
And that’s not to take credit for it, just to give people some context and then where you’re at now and. Let’s rewind to where you were at, what was going on, what you had tried, what problems were you trying to overcome?
Joe: Yeah, sure. So I was an athlete through most of my life through high school, and then after high school, I quickly found out I was gonna be a father when I was 19 years old, so not.
Far after high school and at that point I needed a job. So I got a job at the Ford Chicago Assembly plant building, the 1998 Ford Taurus on the assembly line. So I was in the trim department and my job was to put on seat belts and door rubbers and do all of these things and. As I was working there, being an athlete became less and less important because now it was entrenched with having a job and at the same time I was trying to put myself through school and over the years I gained weight.
I became outta shape and my body was probably like, What are you doing? I’m used to. You burning a ton of calories and like many folks, as you get older, it gets tougher. Especially if you’re not active, you’re not eating right, you’re going to the bars, drinking beer after work. There’s always a reason to do something after a hard day of labor, especially if you were an athlete, cuz you were used to eating a certain amount of food.
Mike: Even just the volume your body was used to getting a certain. Volume of food every day. And I’ve worked with and just heard from many people over the years who experienced exactly that, where they probably were eating 3000, if these are guys, 3000, 3,500, 4,000 calories per day on average. And they were so active they didn’t know about energy balance.
They just knew that they were always fit, eating that amount of food. And so then when their activity level plunged, food intake did not go with it.
Joe: I was so skinny as a kid that I was taking weight or like crazy. I could not gain weight. I was almost embarrassingly skinny. I would double up on T-shirts and I played basketball and I didn’t have really much strength.
And then in college, I started gaining muscle again because I went very quickly from high school to college to being a father. I only spent like a semester at college, and then I went really this unorthodox path in life. Fitness was not a priority. My priority was trying to get stability to provide for my child who is a baby at the time.
So that kind of led me into this unorthodox path of working on the assembly line, finishing school, and then have been in the automotive space most of my life. Did some other stuff at Ford Motor Company after 10 years left to become a car dealer. And that was even worse in terms of having time for fitness and time for myself.
But then it got. Worse on top of that in 2011 when I started a digital marketing company and really was just focused on my business, and I’m sure we’ll dive into some of that. And then I created a software company on top of that and everything became about keeping the business afloat, running a business, employees trying to spend any free time I had with my family, which was very little at the time.
So my health just took a complete backseat to everything. Over the years, I had a few different ailments. Actually in my early twenties I had what was called w PW Syndrome, and it was an accessory pathway in my heart. And when I was playing softball in my early twenties, I almost fainted and just would constantly become really dizzy.
So I ended up having surgery for that. They call it an ablation where you’re actually awake for this mic and it’s, you’re laying out of bed and there’s electrophysiologists and they have catheters. Your neck and in your groin trying to find this extra pathway in your heart that’s making your heart race essentially.
And it was one of the scariest moments in my life and my heartbeat was being controlled by a computer. And I’m like 20 years old. I just at the time had my daughter.
Mike: I assume you had to be awake, like you didn’t have a choice.
Joe: Exactly. Yeah. So I’m watching this all go down and they’re controlling my heartbeat through machines, and it was just absolutely insane.
And you’d think that would wake you up to say You have to be healthy now. That really wasn’t because of anything to do with being unhealthy. It just happened to be so that I had this genetic issue where I had this heart condition. So I had that. Fast forward 10 years later, it seems every 10 years something happens.
I had back surgery when I was 30, so I had herniated discs from working on the assembly line and from playing basketball when I was younger and I played basketball. I played with some people that had become NBA athletes in Mount Carmel High School in Chicago. One of my talents was being able to jump high.
So I was in a dunk contest when I was young and just was that athlete, but that took a toll on my body later. So I had back surgery in my thirties. So I had all these ailments at the same time. Creating this company, and again, health and fitness was not a priority. I gained a ton of weight. I was just feeling sluggish.
I drink too much beer. Everything was just going south in terms of health and fitness and it never became a priority until I sold my companies in 2018, Mike, and when I sold ’em, I really looked at myself and did an inventory in stock of my life and. I said, What good is all of this? If I’m not going to be around for my family and my kids, I neglected them enough over the course of the last 10 years, building a business is, and if I die of a heart attack from stress and being obese and being not in shape, then what the hell was the point of it all, man?
What was the. And that’s when I started to really regain a control on my health. And I started with one step and felt like no matter what I did, it really re revolved around my diet.
Mike: Yeah. And in terms of specific details, before and after, what does that look like? That can be numbers of course, but there also is the qualitative side of things where if your body’s not feeling.
Life is not nearly as good. It still amazes me. I was telling my wife the other day, It’s ridiculous that you can sleep well. Take sleep right for weeks or months on end, every single night, and then one night of bad sleep, and you just feel like 50%, half of your cylinders just are no longer firing.
One night of not even terribles, just like you. Slept six hours and it was a little bit shitty and it’s amazing to me. It’s such bullshit.
Joe: It’s so true. So before and after, I got to the point where I was almost 250 pounds and I got down to 1 95 and. I tried initially in 2018-ish. I tried the keto diet and it was at the end of the year it worked, but I knew it wasn’t a sustainable diet and I gained some of that weight back.
Not all of it, thank God. And as far as like how I felt, I always felt like sluggish and just heavy because I was, but. What I realized is that when I hovered anywhere near 210 pounds or above, I was just really lethargic. I was just felt really gross and heavy. So I knew my place was like that 1 95 to 2 0 5 to two 10 max range, and hopefully I’m on a path to get to one 90 or so.
That’s really my goal and I feel like I’d. Lighter. I’m doing some endurance races and some long distance stuff that I just feel like I need to be a little lighter for. That your niece. Thank you. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. That from a quantitative perspective, that was the kind of weight gain before and after.
And of course with that, a significant loss of body fat. And the other huge thing is I’m just a kind of a nut in terms of looking at. My fitness through Apple Health and through Garmin and just using different fitness trackers, and what I found is my resting heart rate decreased substantially during those years.
It was in the eighties, maybe seventies, and now. I’m like at 50. It’s crazy. And one of the biggest correlations, and I’m sure you’ve seen this and I’ve heard you talk about, is alcohol consumption. And you look at when you’re drinking alcohol and you’re resting heart rate during those evenings that you’re drinking, when you’re sleeping is significantly higher, 20, 30% higher than it would be normally.
If you think about all alcoholism and people that drink every day, just imagine what that’s do in your body constantly and why people have heart attacks and heart issues is because you’re not given your heart any rest. You know it’s beating harder to try and get that kind of poison out your body’s.
Mike: Yeah, alcohol has a stimulatory effect. It has a sedative effect initially, and that’s obviously what people experience when they’re trying to wind down, okay, now they’re asleep, but then the pendulum swings the other way and it has that stimulatory effect. If I were to drink at night, I probably would wake up every 30 minutes cuz my thing again, if I’m gonna have bad.
It’s almost never time to fall asleep. I’ll fall asleep fairly quickly, but I’m gonna wake up like after every sleep cycle. That’s a bad night’s sleep, or maybe after every two sleep cycles. So if I were to drink a , that’s the insidious part of it is if they don’t know that, and if maybe they don’t even have an increase in wakings, but that stimulatory effect can disrupt just your body’s natural.
Phases of sleep that it goes through. And so then you can be in bed for eight hours or longer but not feel rested and not know why.
Joe: Yeah, no, totally. So that is something I found out as a big contributor and that was a significant. Improvements in my before and after, and same with blood pressure.
Like all of it correlated and all of it went together. When I started reducing alcohol consumption, started eating better, started working out more. It all kind of fit hand in hand, which is a real big benefit. You don’t have to work on weight loss and then work on your cardio health. They go hand in hand, which is really.
Mike: Totally. And so it’s 2018, you decide you’re gonna focus on getting fitter, getting healthier. I’m assuming it’s around then that you came across me and my stuff.
Joe: Yeah, it was right around that time. And what I like about what you preach, Mike, and the education that you provide is very practical. Very pragmatic.
And what I found in the keto. Diet and definitely watching my peers do it. When I did it, I was testing my blood like four times a day cause I’m a freak like that. And I was just making sure I was in ketosis. But many people don’t know that, they say they’re doing the keto diet, but they’re not in ketosis and they’re eating things like lean chicken breasts that can knock you outta ketosis.
And all of a sudden you mix that with bacon and all the other crap. Now you have a bad diet. Yeah,
Mike: I’ve talked about that, that originally, this the ketogenic diet’s a really a medicinal diet. It was created to help people who have seizures, but the proper keto diet, again, as it was originally conceived, is not.
High protein, high fat. It was low protein, very low carb, very high fat. If I remember correctly, protein intake was supposed to be no more than 20% of daily calories, I think. And just because, like what you just said is there is an insulin response to protein. A big bolus of protein actually produces a similar insulin response to a bunch of carbs.
Joe: But just imagine you’re eating all that fat and you’re not in ketosis because you’re eating too much protein, , you’re suffering for nothing.
Mike: I would say even if you’re doing it right and you’re staying in ketosis, the real benefits of that diet in the context of healthy living are unknown.
Meaning if you exercise regularly, especially if you have a combination of exercise, you do some strength training, and you do some cardiovascular exercise, and you make sure that you are getting. Micronutrients that you should be getting. So that means eating a variety of nutritious foods, maybe even supplementing in addition, just to make sure there are no holes.
And if you have your body composition in a healthy range, you don’t have to be Jack. Obviously if you get too lean and it’s unhealthy, but you don’t have to have a six pack per se to be healthy. And if you’re managing your stress properly and getting off sleep. So if you’re doing all of those things, I don’t think that it is evidence based to say that.
Oh yeah. If you do those things and do the ketogenic diet, you’re gonna supercharge your health to the next level. What you could say is, if you take somebody who is your average American eating very poorly, no exercise, doing everything wrong, and you put them on a ketogenic diet, you’re gonna see some improvements.
But how relevant? Is that really to a lot of the people listening, not very relevant. And even if you took those people and you said, Okay, you could do it that way. You could just get rid of all of these foods that you like to eat basically. And maybe there are some additional benefits bringing down inflammation levels that could be associated with ketogenic diet.
You could do that, or you could take this flexible dieting concept and you could do it that way as well, and you could lose the weight. And I would say that objectively speaking, the health outcomes, if you were to look at whatever biomarkers you wanna look at, are gonna be very similar. There’s probably not gonna be any major difference, even with glucose response, insulin sensitivity.
The person is almost certainly going to enjoy the flexible dining approach a lot more, and so that alone I think is a strong argument for not doing the keto diet. If you’re gonna suffer through it, it’s not worth it.
Joe: 100 percent. It’s just like the clerk restrictive diets that someone’s Yeah, I’m going on this diet.
I only can eat a hundred calories a day and yeah, I lost like X amount of weight.
Mike: I’m gonna take some hcg hormone as well. Yeah.
Joe: It’s no shit. You lost weight. You’re in a clerk deficit.
Mike: Yeah. You had one chicken breast a day.
Joe: Like how was it That was your, Some of this stuff is such common sense. So going back to what you have in your book and the things that you talk about, it’s very pragmatic, right?
You can eat whatever you want within reason, and looking at that and looking at your macros, making sure you not have enough protein, that’s it. For me, I like tracking initially through my fitness, pa. Because I wasn’t eating the same lunches or dinners. Now if you eat the same lunches or dinners, there’s no need to track the same breakfast I would have every day, which would be a smoothie.
I’d fill it with vegetables and fruit and protein powder. I’d take about 50 grams of protein. Or so, and then I would have my lunch and then dinner, and then I would have a snack. That’s pretty much how I did it, and really within those parameters, I ate whatever I wanted. So if I wanted a burrito, like that was fine, as long as I tracked that at that time and made sure it fit within my macros and the thing that I concentrated on, which really helped.
Get ripped. From my context of being ripped, obviously there’s a big scale, but for myself, my before and after was making sure I had enough protein, making sure that I could build the muscle, especially the amount I was working out, that I wouldn’t have a deficit in my protein.
Mike: And what were you doing for your training?
Joe: It’s evolved over time. So initially, what’s funny, Mike, is that the house that I’m living in now, which is in the Chicagoland area, I had built this really awesome weight room and I didn’t even use it for like years . And finally we hired a trainer just to come to the house and more than anything, the trainers there just to wake us.
And get us up and going. And for my training, I would do strength training primarily following pretty much exactly what you have in your book. I would do that five days a week. And over the years now, I supplemented that training with other things. So I still do that in the morning. And that’s at five 30.
And I’ll do that five times a week. And then during lunch or lunch time-ish, I’ll go do an jujitsu class. And that’s something I want to bring up to the audience here is that one really. Important thing for me to stay in a great mental space when in regards to fitness is to create goals. And my goal for the year was to win a jujitsu tournament.
It is to win one. So because of that, now I line up jujitsu classes to. Really help me practice to achieve my goal. And so no matter what your goal is, or if you’re running a 5K race, or if you’re doing a Spartan, whatever that is, if you wake up every morning with that intention, I that is very helpful.
Versus Okay, I just gotta wake up to work out. And especially if you can do ’em with peers or your spouse, whoever, it’s just very beneficial. So I’ll do that around lunchtime and then at night. I’m also training, this year happens to be unique that I took on a lot of personal goals. Training for a Spartan Ultra race.
So that’s when I do my running. And then on the weekends I’ll do long runs and I don’t really take much of a break on Saturday and Sunday. I don’t do strength training on Sunday. I don’t do jujitsu. Other than that, I’m going now. I didn’t start their mic. It has been a journey. I started off just doing my workouts in the beginning of the day for.
It’s really important still to play offense at the beginning of my day. Much like many people listening to this podcast, you’re working, you have things flying at you all day long. Typically what I found is if I don’t work out first thing in the morning, then I either don’t work out or I don’t have an effective workout and my day gets derailed.
That jujitsu workout that I do at noon doesn’t happen and that my run doesn’t happen, and there’s this trickle down of facts. So getting the most of the mornings is vital to me. So 5 30, 6 30 am I’m working out and then I’m starting my day. And the cool thing about that is when I’m done working out, I have this great space of two hours to get stuff done before I start my workday.
Mike: Yeah, I’m the same way. That’s one of the reasons why I train. I don’t train that early. I’ve done not that early, but I’ve done around six, get to the gym around six, and I liked it for the same reason. I didn’t like that I did notice a drop in my performance versus later in the day like it was noticeable regardless of pre-workout.
Regardless. Pre-workout meal, but I liked that it was done and it was just a good way to start the day. Now it’s a little bit different, so I wake up at 6, 6 30, depending on when did I go to bed. I’m usually in bed 9 45 to 10 15 and also, How did I sleep? If I’m sleeping fine, I’ll be in bed for eight hours, but I consistently do that now.
Whereas when I was younger I didn’t have to cause I just slept better and I seemed to need less sleep then. But I’ll get up and then I like to read first thing in the morning. So I’ll go sit in my infrared sauna. I’ll read for 45 to 60 minutes, maybe a little bit longer than drink some espresso, have a some fruit, just some pre-work.
I’ll get to the gym about eight or eight 30 and I the earlier, cuz then I would go from there to work and I feel like I’m getting an earlier start on my work, but the consistent reading is also important to me and I need to make that time. And I prefer to do it first thing in the morning.
I usually will do a bit more reading at night, but I find that it seems to be more productive early in the morning when I’m fresh, as opposed to at 9:00 PM after I’ve been going all day. So that’s what I do now.
Joe: Hey Mike, what are the things that you’re in the morning, typically,
Mike: I’ve shared this before, so I have two different kind of genre rotations that I work through, right?
And I’ll read one or two books in one of these genres, and then I’ll move to the next Rinse and repeat. Before I read a book, I always look for a book summary. So Blinkist works for that. Insta Read works for that. Most of them are on blankest. The summaries are not very good. I would not recommend just reading a summary versus reading the book, but what I’ve found pretty consistently is if I don’t like the summary, if I read through it and it doesn’t stimulate me at all, if I’ve made no highlights and I’ve done this intentionally where like a book sounded interesting, go read the summary.
Summary seems lame. Read the book. Yep. It was lame. And so after several rounds of that, I’ve now just accepted that if I read the book, I will get something out of it probably. I’m gonna probably pick up a few things that are interesting that I can add to my grist file. I call it for just random ideas for writing and thinking, whatever, but it’s just not very productive.
Like takeaways per page are just low versus a. Where I like the summary and it’s clear to me now I’ve made highlights, I’ve already gotten some things out of it. Then I go read the book and I get even more out of it. And so that’s how I choose books because I can only read so much. I’m never gonna finish my to be read.
I have lists on Amazon that go forever. It’s just not gonna happen. So I’m just trying to get the most out of that time. Like when I was younger, I would just follow my interests just randomly. Like all of my reading was whatever I wanted to learn about, I would just go. A bunch about that until I felt like my itch was scratched and I would move on to the next thing.
And that’s fun, but not goal oriented. And so where I’m at with my life right now, I have very specific goals. And so I read mostly in service of those goals. And for example, my work genre rotation is marketing slash persuasion. I guess you could probably put sales in there as well, but it’s usually marketing, persuasion stuff, and then business slash work slash leadership.
Then health and fitness, then art, creativity, writing, and my personal genres are biography history. So the personal are just stuff that I just like and I feel like maybe makes me a better person, whereas the work stuff is what I’m reading to try to build my businesses faster and do better in my work. So personal is biography slash history.
I just call it be Smarter slash. I guess you could say it’s self-help slash self development. I don’t read much self-help, self development because I find a lot of it very derivative and you read enough of those books and you just come across the same basic concepts again and it is just not very productive.
I’d have to pull up my Amazon list to. Give some examples of what’s on that, but it’s not your typical gym Quick Brain Tricks book or whatever. Again, I don’t find that stuff very helpful. And then I have fiction slash literature slash poetry, and then I have financial slash just miscellaneous, so there are sometimes just random books that I feel like reading that go into that bucket.
I move from the work. Over to the personal, back to the work, over to the personal. Again, read one or two books in each of those genres and read a bunch of book summaries along the way to find books that are actually worth reading. And that’s it. Summaries I get through a lot, probably, I don’t know, 50 to eight.
I don’t even, I’m look, trying to look right here. Yeah so far this year I’ve gotten through maybe 50 or so, so it’s probably gonna be a hundred plus by the end of the year, and then books probably will be, 20. Also, because I am a slower reader probably than most people. Not because my comprehension is slow, but because I spend a lot of time in the dictionary, and I’ve talked about this and written about this as well, I spend a lot of time looking at words in the dictionary and clarifying definitions and coming up with sentences and checking my understanding of words.
So if I come across a word, and if you were to ask me, All right, Mike, what is the definition of this word in this context? Give it to me quickly. Don’t sit and stumble around for a minute and then come up with a very vague invented, trying to extrapolate from the context type of definition. I like to be precise with my understanding.
So if I can’t quickly give a precise definition to the word, I’m gonna check it. I’ll do my best. So I’ll say, Okay, this is how I would define that word, and then check it. And I would say it’s probably a coin flip 50 50, right? Versus. Wrong. And so I’ve developed a good sense for words and for my vocabulary and my understanding, and so I think that’s very productive.
And again, that’s a tangent we probably don’t need to talk about right now. I have written about it and spoken about it previously. If people go to legion athletics.com and search for, probably read, I’ll pull it up while I’m talking. It’ll come up. I don’t remember the title of it, but I. My little system and why I put the time in, because if I were to be less rigorous about it, I could get through more books, but my understanding of the material in those books would be worse.
My retention would be worse. It would be like a virtue signal, like a status signal. I read 40 books last year, okay. Can you remember anything from any of those books? Can you do any, Has anything changed in your life because of that? If No, to me, that’s a complete waste of time. If a year goes by and I have not made any significant changes in how I think or behave, that’s a red flag to me, and that’s one of the reasons I put time.
And I’m, again, very specific about how I read and what I choose to. Because I want to be always improving, and for me, I just think that is the correct estimation of. What it takes to continually improve and you have to also be willing to challenge your beliefs and blah, blah, blah. Again, there’s a whole nother discussion that could be interesting.
But yeah, that’s a long kind of rambling answer to your question.
Joe: A tip for those folks too that don’t feel like they have the time to read is one, you obviously can make time for whatever you wanna make time for, but if you are trying to work out and read and you have a limited amount of time, listen to an audiobook.
When you’re running or when you’re working out, just make an audible note. You can say, Hey, Siri, create a note and then make a note of whatever point that you wanna document. As soon as you’re done with it, the book will continue on and if you keep doing that and all of a sudden at the end of the book you look at your notes, you’ll have pages of notes.
So I found that pretty helpful.
Mike: I used to do that as well. I would listen to audiobooks when I drove, and I would also though I would have the Kindle. So I read on my phone. I use Amazon’s ecosystem, so I would have the Kindle book as well. And then what I would do is I didn’t try making voice notes and I really like though that.
With Amazon’s Kindle books, you can make all of your highlights and all of your notes, and then you can easily just export all of them. And I have a whole thing I do with all that as well. And so what I would do is if I’m reading and there’s a word I want to check, I pause it and I would use voice search, define blah.
And if I have to dig through the definitions, I would just wait until I’m coming up to a red light, like use judgment to not drive like an asshole, right? Or maybe I’m at the red. Okay, look for the word also highlights. If I liked something, then maybe I’d listen a little bit further, but if there were two things, then I would pause, wait for when I can flip over to the Kindle book, make my highlight, make note.
It was obnoxious in that it’s more enjoyable, obviously, to just sit there and listen, but it was more productive. And so I used to do that, but now I don’t drive as much. And I also found. I just like to read more than I like to listen to anything I just prefer to read and not that’s a great reason to stop doing it, but I just started using the time that I would normally listen to audio books to either do vocabulary flashcards, and that’s like a whole different thing that I do, and it.
Takes a bit of time, it takes probably an hour a day. So I do that usually when I’m driving to the gym, just glance at my phone, Okay, what is that word? Blah, blah, blah. And then I do it while I’m working out in between sets. So by the time I’m done with my workout, I have my flashcards done. And then otherwise, if I have time where I would listen to something like when I do cardio, although half the time I save work calls for cardio.
So if I have to make calls, it’s probably gonna be on the bike, an upright bike. However, if I don’t have any calls to make, I’ll either read more. Or I’ll find podcasts or interviews that I want to listen to, and I’ll just do that and then I’ll make notes in Google Keep is what I use for that. Which I use as just a catch all.
Like I don’t want to try to remember anything, period. If something occurs to me, oh, we should. Ask the advertising agency if they’ve looked into advertising in fitness apps. I’m not gonna try to remember that. I’m gonna put it in my Google Keep, and then I process that once a day, and then I do a deeper process once a week.
Again, like I don’t want anything in my mind, even personal stuff. Oh, I didn’t have. Coins when I went through that toll, I need to make sure I stay on top of that cause I’m moving to Florida and I don’t know where that mail, if that’s ever gonna get to me. I don’t want to find out. Two years from now there’s like a warrant out for my arrest because I didn’t pay 50 cents driving through the fucking pole into the Google Keep It goes.
Joe: There’s something to be said though, for successful people and multitasking in this way. Normally, I wouldn’t say multitasking is a great thing, right? You should focus on something, but if you can run, like I ran a half marathon and I was in like four business meetings, if you can do those things where you’re not thinking about one of the tasks that you’re doing, I do think.
Productive. So one of the things when I was talking about working on the assembly line that I got through school was in between building cars, the 19 98 4 Taurus, I would go and read 15 to 20 seconds of a text of my college textbooks, and I retained so much information. I’m not naturally this brilliant guy, but I graduated magna cum lot.
I got one B in theology. That’s my only class. I got a B and the rest were a’s. That’s how I retained information. I would read a little bit. I would go back and think about what I read, and I would do it over and over again. 72 cars per hour, Mike, and it kept me focused and I would retain just an incredible amount of info, but it was just like I was a human robot.
So I’m like, Okay, I’m gonna be a human robot and at the same time I’m gonna process things like a robot and it.
Mike: There’s research on that. I’ve read some books and book summaries on learning, and that’s a tip that stuck in my mind that is that cramming does not work. It does not work. It is much smarter to take very small.
15 to 20 seconds at a time is not necessary. Obviously you just made it work because you had to do it that way. But it is much more effective to learn in smaller chunks and then especially if that gives you time to reflect on what you’ve learned and to find associations in your. Other information which helps information stick.
And then you had mentioned making notes, meaning that you are thinking with this and sometimes I don’t know about you, sometimes my notes are just random thoughts, like something that’s just interesting to me. It may not be interesting to anybody else. It’s just, eh, it’s kinda, I’ll put that down.
And then other times it’s more practical. It depends on what I’m reading. Ooh, this is how we could do that with Legion, or We should try this, or, it just depends what I’m reading and I guess what mode my mind is in at the. Yeah, that’s right on.
Joe: Again, I would highly encourage anyone who is in a job where they can find any time to try and do something like that.
Now, if you’re thinking you’re in a conversation with someone and you’re reading like, that’s not smart, right? So have some common sense, but you can certainly do two things at once. Assuming the one thing doesn’t require a lot of thought.
Mike: Yep. Like chores walking a dog.
Joe: A hundred percent. And it’s a metaphor for life.
It’s a metaphor for what we’re talking about because these small incremental steps add up to the outcomes that you wanna achieve, right? No different than anything. Like you built Legion, you didn’t do it overnight. Certainly people might see that, but you know what a grind it’s been. You know what? It’s the grind it is to write your books, but it’s the small incremental periods of you writing, you researching, and then all of a sudden you.
Published work. You have an amazing company, you have a ton of followers. All of this stuff happens. It takes years and years, yet it feels like it’s overnight.
Mike: Like you just said. It can appear to be overnight, especially in the case of business and marketing. And that could be marketing a brand or a personal brand if it’s gonna break through, if it’s gonna reach that critical mass.
Really actually becomes self-sustaining, becomes profitable, and the systems become scalable. There’s a point where a lot of people start learning about it and it appears Oh, you’re everywhere now, and you went it from nowhere, and just because of the optics of. Stuff like media, for example, it can appear because I’m getting more mentions in the media that, oh, things must be blowing up.
Or, because we are working with more influencers online who have overlapping followers, then the people see, Oh, this person’s talking. This person’s talking again, creates that illusion that everyone’s talking about, Oh wow, it happened overnight. One, that’s not always the case because for example, just because you’re getting.
Mentions in the media, that doesn’t necessarily correlate with success, any metric of success, but you’re working to create that. I mean that it’s just good marketing, but that also doesn’t necessarily mean things are going great. It’s funny because I’ve experienced a bit of what you’re talking about.
I have a book deal with Simon Schuster and people think that’s so cool. And I understand. I’m not putting anybody down for thinking that. . But to me, what’s more difficult is selling. I’ve sold a million and a half books as a self-published author, and I don’t care. I don’t take myself seriously. I’m not even saying that to brag.
I’m just saying that’s what it is. That is much more interesting. If I just objectively look as a marketer and as somebody who likes books and publishing, that’s the story. I’d wanna know more about the dude who gets a big book, deal with a big publish. Man, that happens all the time. You get a good agent and you just have to have a good platform, and you have to be a good salesperson and you have to, Good concept.
Sure you have to do things well, but it is much, much harder and rarer to do really well as a self-published author. And so similar with Legion. Now that Legion is, we’re doing more in the way of influencer marketing and we’ve gotten some bigger name people on board. It’s interesting to me just how that has been more impressive to many people than building, let’s say email lists with 600,000 subscribers and high open rates and things that from a business standpoint are way more valuable and way harder to do as well.
Joe: Yeah, building an audience is the hardest thing, like you were talking about before, you have this deal with Simon and Scher, but you had to create 10 books, Mike, for the last decade, right? So it’s I always think about an iceberg, right? So much of it is below the surface, but you don’t see it.
You just see the top and all of a sudden, after a while, like it all start peeking out and that’s life, man. Everything. I don’t know, one thing or one person that has been successful overnight. It appears that way, but it’s just not a reality. And that, going back to what we’re talking about, it’s health, it is getting fit, it’s getting in shape, it is training for a race.
It’s, trying to compete in a tournament in your forties. Like it’s all these things that are not gonna happen overnight.
Mike: If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my v i p one-on-one coaching service because my team and I have helped people of all ages and circumstances lose fat, build muscle, and get into the best shape of their life faster than they ever thought possible. And we can do the same for you.
What are your thoughts on you look back on your journey as an entrepreneur neglecting your health? What would you have changed if you were to go back? And the reason why I’m asking that is maybe your answer is just Oh, I would’ve put more time into my health. But I’m curious, just having at least a bit of firsthand experience, how would that time have worked?
Because I’m assuming that you were working basically all of the time. I still work a lot. I probably average 60 hours a week right now. In the past, it’s been even a bit higher, 55, 60 right now. I’m working seven days a week all day, and after dinner on the week nights and putting in probably a solid.
10 to 12 hours on the weekends right now, because again, I’m trying to churn through some of the stuff that I just want done right away. But in the past I was working even more than that. Like Saturdays were an all day, 10 to 12 hour day. Sundays were half days and blah, blah, blah. And I always made time for the workouts, but.
I could also say that’s part of my job. What are your thoughts on that? Do you think if you, going back, if you would’ve made time to keep your fitness in a good place, that would’ve then meant that you wouldn’t have made it as far, And if that’s the case, would you say Nah, I still would’ve done it the same way because I’m in a pretty good place now.
Joe: It’s really a good question. I haven’t thought about it cuz I don’t think much about the past cuz I always take a sense of whatever happened to get me to the place now where I can make decisions.
Mike: But I think it’s important to take lessons.
Joe: So the one lesson that would correlate a bit to that question would be this idea of Being more present.
So I would spend my mornings working, my afternoons working. I would physically go into an office and I would come home and I wouldn’t be present around my family. I’d be there, but I would be thinking about work. Cuz again, I created a hundred million plus. Company from nothing. I was bootstrap and I was worried about everything to do with the business, so I didn’t have time in my mind at the time, I didn’t have time to do anything else, but that they would go to sleep.
My family would and I would work until my laptop died. That was my regimen for years. Like it took multiple years. Now here’s what I would’ve changed. That work ethic is not sustainable to most. So when I started growing the company and I had employees, they would emulate me and I would never take off. So I’d be on vacation, but I’d be working the whole entire time, and they would see that.
So they never thought it was okay to take vacation, and consequently, some of them got burnt out. I would go back and change that. I would make it evident to them that it is okay to detach. I would detach. Or at least not make it as obvious as I did that I was never detaching. Cause it’s easier said than done, you still have bills to pay.
Cash flows still an issue.
Mike: You’re scheduling emails to go out at 10:00 AM instead of 10:00 PM
Joe: That’s a real thing, I, I would’ve done that cuz. When you send something on a Sunday morning at 5:00 AM people are like, Oh shit. There goes my Sunday and I would rock people’s Sundays because something wasn’t going right, or I was upset about something, or, whatever name it, like shit happens, right?
So that’s something I would’ve changed. Now, if I would’ve changed that, would I have created more space to work out and to be more healthy? Probably, and now what I’m telling my team and what I’m trying to emulate and show by example is like no matter where you’re at in your finished journey, no matter where you’re at in your health journey, you can start to make these small incremental steps.
And guess what? You can make time for it. At the time I thought you couldn’t. You can, and you just have to make it a priority. And that priority, you gotta look at it as it’s your life, man. Like you will not survive. Like I would’ve had a heart attack. I would’ve died. Like I’m convinced I would’ve if I would’ve just kept going down that path and not pausing and saying, Okay, what am I doing this for?
So I highly encourage anyone listening to this to reflect on where they’re at, what’s important to them, and make time. I don’t care if it’s even. Going for a walk or looking at what you’re putting in your body, reduced your drinking. Like start somewhere. And then what happens is, Mike, you start to get these small winds and they compound themselves and you get what I call the power of streaks.
And if you can go a few days without doing something that turned into a bad habit or you start to create a good habit, you start to build on these streaks. And I think that’s the momentum that a lot of people need. So that’s what I would tell my younger self. Yeah.
Mike: Yeah. No, I think it’s good advice.
Hey, this discussion, this has been a lot of fun. And why don’t we wrap up with what you’re doing now. With your podcast and this is something new for you, that is probably fun. I’m guessing because you’re not doing it to try to make money or build. You’re doing it like, sure you wanted to succeed, but you’re doing it because you just want to do it.
Whereas I’m sure. With your work. And I can relate to this, certainly it’s the case with me where sometimes I get to work on stuff that’s fun. Sometimes I have to do a lot of work that’s not fun. I would rather not do any of it. . I would rather just sit and research and write books and do nothing else sometimes.
But, you do it in service of this point. It’s not just me and my personal goals, but like you, I have now 40 plus people and they all depend. Doing a good job on things even that I don’t want to do.
Joe: And a podcast like what I found out, it’s a, it’s tough man. It’s a labor of love.
There’s not this great ROI or I’m not even looking for that to your point. But at the same time, it’s a lot of work. And basically what I’m doing now is I had created just to Take a step back quick. I created the podcast. It was a derivative from a yearly event I have called a refuel. I created it for my employees back in 2017 to give inspiration to them, to get them out of the day to day grind of work and to really allow them to refuel and reflect.
And I bring in. Pretty cool speakers that would inspire them. And consequently it started giving them the spark. You can’t hear words and just change your life, but it would give them a little spark to put them on a different path in their life. And we had 10 to 12 people run the Chicago marathon the first year after hearing some of these speakers talk and give them inspiration and hope.
So I built up. That event said this last year, I had 10,000 people virtually watching this event live. I had Tony Hawk there, Jesse Itzler, just some amazing, really good people and speakers, and I raise all the money for this event I give to charity. So I raise $85,000 Mike in this time period for this virtual event.
So problem with an event though, and I’m sure you can relate, is once you have it the next day, after the day after that, there’s. It’s like you’re on stage and now you’re not. Right? And I would get this kind of depressed feeling, so I’m like, how do I carry this momentum forward? So I created a podcast called, Not Almost there.
The title is from when I ran the Chicago Marathon in 2015, Mile 13. This guy holds up the sign, not almost there. And it just crushed me. Like he’s right. I’m not almost there and I just got crushed the whole race and I really figured out at that moment it was mine over matter. I was doing really well for me up until that point, saw that sign crush me the rest of the race.
And that’s just a metaphor for life, right? I thought when I was younger, That if I sold businesses and I was successful and I was a millionaire, then I would just be happy. And that’s not true, man. Like you get to the top of the mountain and you look at it and I’m like, Yeah, I have financial stability. I have a great family.
I have this stuff, and I just wasn’t fulfilled. So my fulfillment comes in helping others achieve their fulfillment and not almost theirs. My podcast was created on my 26th episode now, and it’s just bringing guys like you on to talk about. Here’s actionable steps in life that you can take to better yourself.
We’re having our first event, August 21st, called Go. I have a rich role coming out Cedric King. I have Jordan Buroughs, who’s a wrestler, and it’s gonna be this weird kind of match up of inspiration, but activities, there’s gonna be a 5K adventure race, some martial arts training. Some yoga and some live music.
It’s all my favorite things in one day and , we’re gonna make a day out of it, so I highly encourage people to check it out. You can look on my website, anonymous there.com/go. I alluded to earlier, I’m training for a Spartan Ultra Race in Tahoe at the end of September. And a jujitsu tournament that I’m going do.
I haven’t picked the tournament yet. Luckily there’s a lot of ’em after that, so I don’t risk getting heard before my Spartan tournament. So I’m just really focused on that. And the parting advice I would say to someone is, find something you wanna do and train for it. Don’t look at things as just like working out.
Workout out to train to do something and accomplish something with someone else and have a shared experience because that will be so much more gratifying and you will wake up with a different sort of purpose.
Mike: And a quick little tip to that point is even just having a good workout partner can help with that, especially if you are far along in your fitness journey.
I think of myself, there’s basically no muscle and strength left in my genetics. I’m exaggerating, but there’s very little left muscle. I don’t know, maybe I could gain another few pounds and it would take years and I would have to do a lot of lean bulking and. Work very hard in the gym, which I wouldn’t mind, but I would mind more that I just would have to be I like the physique I have right now.
Anybody who follow me on Instagram I’m not super shredded, but I’m pretty lean and I like how I look. I like this look. And so if I were to go from let’s say nine or 10% body fat to 15 or 16%, which is what it would take really to make progress simply because I’d have to eat a lot of food to be able to do that.
Sure I could do it, but without a strong, To your point, without a strong goal, like why am I doing this? I would just be like, eh, I just don’t like how I look. I don’t like how I feel. I’ve done it before. I don’t like how much food I have to eat. I’m always full. I’m not enjoying my meals. I it get to that point where you just feel gross.
And everybody has that. There is a threshold. It’s not even about body image per se, and you’ve experienced this and I have as well. It’s just a feeling. Anybody who has done a good long lean bulking period has reached that point probably where you just feel gross . It’s not about just having two eye body fat.
It’s all the foods you’re eating, you’re, again, you’re always full. You’re force feeding yourself. That’s how it feels, and you’re just like, Ugh. So I’m just like, Eh, it’s not worth it, Especially when I’m happy where I’m at. And in my training I have a bit more strength. I’m working back towards some previous prs.
However, I weighed 10 or 15 pounds. When I hit those numbers, which was close to the 3, 4, 5 benchmark, three plates on the bench, four on the squat, five on the deadlift, I basically was there on the bench on the squat and I was working there on the deadlift. And then I had hurt my SI joint. Nothing extreme, but it set me back.
And then I was sick of lean bulking and that was the end of it. I weigh again 10 or 15 pounds less now. And so that’s a lot in the realm of strength. And so we’ll see if I can get back to those numbers. And I like training by myself because I do my flashcards and I. Through that. I don’t really wanna sit in my chair for 45 minutes and do flashcards.
I would prefer to multitask that. However, I certainly enjoyed my training more when I had a good training partner. He ran off to Europe to chase after some girl, unfortunately. So not surprising that a woman one out on that bargain. But anyway, having a good training partner makes a difference.
Joe: On that note, I work out with my wife that kind of talked about my schedule earlier. I work out with my wife five days a week in the morning. She’s training for a Spartan race as well. Nice. She’s doing The Beast, which is half the Ultra, which is incredible. It’s gonna be very tough, but I also think it’s important to have a goal for you. Like each person should have their own goal, maybe have a shared goal with someone else, and then have a family goal.
And that’s what I’m working towards. So like our family goal next year is to ski the Swiss Alps, like as an example. It’s just every year kind of building on that.
Mike: That’s great. That’s great. Not almost there. That’s the podcast. And then dot.com and then slash go. And yeah, thanks again for taking the time.
Yeah, thanks Mike. Thanks for. All right. That’s it for this episode. I hope you enjoyed it and found it interesting and helpful. And if you did, and you don’t mind doing me a favor, please do leave a quick review on iTunes or. Wherever you’re listening to me from in whichever app you’re listening to me in, because that not only convinces people that they should check out the show, it also increases search visibility, and thus, it helps more people find their way to me and learn how to get fitter, leaner, stronger, healthier, and happier As.
And of course, if you want to be notified when the next episode goes live, then simply subscribe to the podcast and you won’t miss out on any new stuff. And if you didn’t like something about the show, please do shoot me an email at mike muscle for life.com. Just muscle o r life.com and share your thoughts on how I can do this.
I read everything myself and I’m always looking for constructive feedback. Even if it is criticism, I’m open to it. And of course you can email me if you have positive feedback as well, or if you have questions really relating to anything that you think I could help you with, definitely send me an email.
That is the best way to get ahold of me, [email protected] And that’s it. Thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you.