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Kelly: [3:33] Adee and Michael, thank you so much for coming on The Ready State Podcast.
Adee: [3:37] Yeah, we’re so pumped to be here.
Michael: [3:38] So excited to be on, guys.
Adee: [3:39] Yeah.
Michael: [3:39] Thanks for having us.
Juliet: [3:40] We’re so excited to be talking to you both. Okay, there’s two of you obviously, so this may be a little bit of a hard question, but could you guys just give us a little bit of a background about how you both got into the overall health and fitness community.
Kelly: [3:54] And why you took on the third rail.
Juliet: [3:56] Yes, and then sort of —
Kelly: [3:58] The religion
Juliet: [3:58] The third rail that is nutrition.
Kelly: [3:59] Of human beings.
Adee: [4:00] You want to go first or me?
Michael: [4:01] Sure. Yeah. So funnily – funnily — interesting enough, interestingly enough, we started both of our companies in the same month, same year, November 2014. I started Brute Strength. Before that, I had been an athlete my entire life. I went to drug rehab. I was really searching for some way to stay fit that didn’t bore the hell out of me. And a person that I had met in the recovery community named Bryce introduced me to CrossFit. I fell in love with it. It came at a really pivotal time in my recovery because it gave me goals to strive for outside of just show up to a meeting every day. That was really, really important to me. And then I got really into it. I ended up competing and winning the CrossFit Games in 2012 and 13. I got an injury, decided to start this company. And then at around the same time, you were starting WAG.
Adee: [5:04] Yeah. And I got started — I think it starts originally, I was 16 years old and almost 200 pounds and I had the weirdest habits around food. And it’s so interesting that I ended up marrying a recovered addict because when he tells stories about the way that he was around substances, I was that way around food. Like I was very sneaky about it. I would lie about it. I would steal to get food. I would just do all these weird things. And I ended up going to a nutrition coach when I was 16 and she just completely changed my life. Like within the next five months I lost 50 pounds. And since I was 16, it gave me the confidence to get into the gym, to start working out.
And then a couple years later, so I think around like 17 or 18, I had my first boyfriend because all of a sudden boys were interested in me. And he was really into working out, and he told me, hey, like don’t follow me around the gym anymore and copy all the things I’m doing. Just go to crossfit.com, they post a workout every single day. Just do whatever they post. So I started doing that and I ended up getting really good at the weightlifting portion of CrossFit.
So I started just solely doing Olympic style weightlifting. And I did that for around six years. And because it’s a weight class specific sport, all of my experience like maintaining my weight since I was 16 years old and working with a nutrition coach and her helping me figure out how to change my weight while still actually enjoying my life at the same time, helped me move between weight classes. And I had a blog where I talked about it. And people were just interested in me helping them as well. And that kind of just took over my life.
Juliet: [6:53] So I know that we’re here — and thank you for that, both of you. I know that we’re here to talk about both of your — well, many things, but including your approach to nutrition currently. But I have to ask what was your — I mean I’m the daughter of a 15-year-old girl, and I know that nutrition and kids is sort of fraught with concern and conflict and disordered eating and it’s such a complex topic. I just have to hear a little bit more about what this person did.
Kelly: [7:19] And it feels like it’s easy to mess it up.
Juliet: [7:22] Yeah. Like how did this person approach that and obviously knock it super far out of the park with you?
Adee: [7:26] Yeah. She — I think her approach was a lot of what we still use right now, which was really helpful to me at the time. There was like no shame or judgement or blame or any type of like information like that around food. So instead it was kind of like Weight Watchers. We were just talking about where she had categories of food and you’d get a certain amount of points per category. And then she would have lists and I would sit with her and I would pick from the different lists and I would make my own meal plan. I chose my own foods. She never told me what to eat. She empowered me with the ability to make my own food choices. And she explained to me like what fit in which category. The categories were carbs, fat, protein, and fruit was its own category. And that helped me understand and build awareness around what is actually in the food that I’m eating and what does portion size look like and what does a plate fully look like.
And I also was allowed to have like treats I guess or things that weren’t necessarily fully micronutrient dense. And there was no shame around that. And just the accountability and having somebody to have real conversations about food with really helped me to be like okay, this is not a scary thing, it’s not something I have to hide, it’s not something I have to be sneaky about. And this person actually wants to help me. I don’t have to try and figure out how to do this all by myself.
Michael: [8:56] And if I may just add one more thing. Adee is the most compliant client on the planet. If she hurts her knee and she wants to work with you, Kelly, remotely, and you give her corrective exercises, she’s going to do them every single day, she’s never going to miss.
Kelly: [9:12] You’re hired.
Michael: [9:13] She is just hard wired that way. So that helped as well.
Adee: [9:17] Yeah. I mean —
Kelly: [9:18] That is interesting and notable, partly because you figured out when you were adherent and when you did what you guys both agreed you were going to do, you saw results, which must — I mean it’s interesting that food and self-soothing, Michael, obviously is a big deal. And then being a young person trying to establish your relationship with food. I’m going to bridge this for a second because you also have a track record of not just helping people change their body composition, gain weight, or lose weight, but you also have an incredible track record of having people be able to manage this at a high level where they have to fuel or they lose.
So do your top athletes, and I’m thinking about like Katrin Davidsdottir, who we were just talking about, who is just a super stud, do you find that most of us just sort of blindly get through it? We sort of eat the way we thought we were eating, or Muscle & Fitness told me to eat this way. Do you see that most of the athletes you’re working with, were they like you, that they just didn’t have any rules and they got this way, and when you start to tighten it up they get better? Or are they more sophisticated now? Why are we getting it wrong or how is it we don’t know some of the basics?
Adee: [10:29] I think that when they came, I mean and they’re still human, right? So when Katrin started working with me she was 22 I think, 22 or 23. She’s still human. She still has days where she wants to eat whatever she wants. I mean Brooke Wells is another example, where she was in college when we started working together. She still wants to party with her friends and drink. Like that’s still a thing. They definitely understood some level of the basics. But they were listening to Muscle & Fitness magazine. And Katrin, when we started working together, was eating no carbohydrates almost at all. And she had just won the CrossFit games. So I was like oh, man, we’re about to dramatically change your life. This is going to be fun. So just working on her fear of carbohydrates. But she heard that from somewhere. Like I think it was —
Michael: [11:20] The entire CrossFit community at the time was gung ho Paleo, don’t eat any carbs other than sweet potatoes.
Adee: [11:27] Right. So she was definitely super bought into that. Not that it couldn’t work for some people, but it was worth at least experimenting, do carbohydrates actually help you in the gym and does it help you make things easier. So it has helped for sure to like play around with works for each athlete, incorporating different things like carbohydrates. I think the main thing that makes the difference with them though is oftentimes, which I would love to give myself credit for this, but I don’t think it’s 100 percent me, getting a nutrition coach makes you feel like a full professional athlete. Where I have now someone who helps me with my mobility, I have someone who helps me with my training, I have someone who helps me with my mindset, and now I have someone helping me with my food. There’s like this switch that goes off where it’s like I’m a professional athlete now.
Kelly: [12:20] I agree.
Adee: [12:21] And it’s like —
Juliet: [12:23] That’s so interesting.
Adee: [12:23] It changes their attitude towards everything. There’s like a confidence that comes, like an attitude that comes from that, like I’m going pro, that I’ve noticed with almost every athlete that I’ve worked with at a high level.
Kelly: [12:35] Interesting.
Juliet: [12:36] Yeah, I haven’t even thought — I mean that’s such a good point.
Kelly: [12:40] I want to go pro.
Juliet: [12:40] Yeah, I want to go pro. I really do want to actually circle back around to talk about the whole carbohydrate thing because it’s such a hot topic. And I mean even outside the athletic world in like the regular people world, it’s like should I eat carbs, should I not eat carbs. But before we get to that, can you just tell us how you started Working Against Gravity, what it is, sort of the back story of it and what it is. And if you were to be someone who signed up for it, what would your experience be? That was like seven questions in one. I apologize. You guys can —
Michael: [13:12] She’s got it.
Juliet: [13:12] Each take them.
Adee: [13:12] Yeah. And then you’ll talk about the experience, but I’ll talk about how it started. So it really was when I was a weightlifter. In 2014, I was deciding to switch from the 69 kilo class to 63. And I had a blog where I was just documenting. I thought nobody was reading it, to be completely honest. And —
Kelly: [13:31] Six kilos is a lot of weight.
Adee: [13:33] Yes.
Kelly: [13:34] To change.
Adee: [13:34] So I was switching, I was dropping six kilos, and I was getting stronger at the same time. And in 2014, I don’t know if you guys remember, but in the functional fitness weightlifting space, everything was like get bigger, get stronger. I don’t care about what I look like, I just care about how I perform. Like doesn’t matter.
Kelly: [13:51] Get your bloat on.
Adee: [13:51] Yeah. And they were like people would talk about like, oh, I’m gaining body fat but it’s just because I’m working out harder. And I just didn’t totally buy into that. I was like I don’t think that makes much sense. So I was losing weight, getting leaner, and I got stronger at the same time. So like my lifts — like one example, I think I went from a 250 back squat to a 315 back squat. And people were like whoa, like how is that happening. It was very novel at the time. So people just started asking me to help them. And I was training under Travis Mash in North Carolina at the time.
Kelly: [14:26] Love Travis. He’s one of our homies.
Adee: [14:28] So yeah, I mean he is like relentless. He is just like very good at getting people strong. So he asked if I could offer nutrition coaching to his weightlifting team. And overnight I had 80 people that wanted nutrition coaching. And that was just like, oh my gosh, just like took over my life. And we got people results and it kind of just escalated from there. Yeah. That’s how it started.
Kelly: [14:58] You know what’s interesting is we had a friend who did a lot of work with women CEOs. And a lot of the women CEOs didn’t start out to start a business. They ended up setting out to solve a problem and then had to become CEOs. You know, you just happened to have this innate skill you had developed and this experience, and all your abilities and they’re like poof, go 80 people. And let’s just say it, 80 dysfunctional weightlifter people, which was not nothing. Self included.
Juliet: [15:26] So just to sort of spin off that, and Michael, maybe you can tell us what it’s like from — what is it like, what is one’s experiences of Working Against Gravity client, and sort of what’s the philosophy behind it?
Michael: [15:43] Yeah.
Adee: [15:44] It’s evolved for sure.
Michael: [15:46] It has evolved quite a bit. So if you sign up with us, you go to our website, you pay, and you are taken to a screen where you can fill out a questionnaire in our software system, Seismic. We’re going to ask you about your diet history, exercise history, age, gender, if you care to say, all of those things. And we’re going to get a really comprehensive view of who you are, what your preferences are, et cetera. That information is going to be sent to one of our administrators who’s going to look at all that information and pair you with the best coach on our staff that fits your unique needs and challenges and opportunities.
From there, your coach is going to then look at all your information. They’re going to give you a custom nutrition plan. Usually that will come with a specific set of macronutrients, so carbs, fats, proteins, and fiber. Fiber we put in there just to encourage people to eat more fruits and veggies. We also will give them some initial guidelines on how to weigh and measure, how to track their food, all of the general onboarding and how to get started actually dialing in your nutrition. That’s the first interaction that they’ll have with the coach.
From there, and like the meat of our service, is real people going out and trying to adhere to that plan that they got, and then each week coming in and checking in with what went well and what didn’t go so well. And the coach then gives very specific feedback on how they can overcome the challenges that they’re coming up against and actually following that plan. And so over the course of three, six, nine months it becomes this very, very tailored nutrition plan for that.
Kelly: [17:42] Wow.
Juliet: [17:42] And just to go maybe really simplistic, but to the extent that people don’t know what this means, what does it mean to actually count macros? And I know you kind of mentioned it briefly, but what are they and what would it mean if someone were counting them?
Michael: [17:57] It’s basically like beans. Like there are a bunch of beans in your body and you’re just removing them and putting one on the table one at a time. I’m just kidding. How would you describe how to track macros?
Adee: [18:07] Yeah. It’s also, we’ve evolved over time. It’s like it’s a way to, every single thing you eat, all the calories that you eat, are either coming from carbs, fats, or protein, or alcohol, which is kind of like an exception to the rule, so let’s not talk about that one right now.
Michael: [18:24] You drink as much as you want.
Adee: [18:25] No. No. But that’s where your calories are coming from. So it is tracking your macros is a way of also tracking your calories at the same time and making sure you’re getting a well-balanced diet, meaning each macronutrients, carbs, fat, protein, are doing different things in your body, they help you in different ways, depending on who you are, what your preferences are. And also, accounting for them accounts for total calories, which can help with whatever goals you have or performance, weight gain, weight loss.
And it builds — it’s almost like a skillset to build a level of awareness around your food. Most people eat their food and they’re like they start tracking their food, let’s say, and then they’re like oh my gosh, I had no idea how much fat I was eating or I had no idea that there was almost no protein in anything that I eat in a day. And it helps build some level of education and awareness in a world today where we are very disconnected from like what is actually going in our food and what is coming into our bodies.
Kelly: [19:27] I really appreciate that. Sorry. We hear this all the time, and a lot of our friends who have successful nutrition interventions bring that consciousness and awareness first. It’s like we just have no idea what the baselines are. And even just bringing that consciousness to it, you’re like okay, I haven’t had any water today, I didn’t eat a vegetable even though I’m plant based. It’s really shocking, right, when people just sort of have the conscious — I have to believe that that has got to be one of the most powerful aspects of the intervention. I mean obviously you guys are experts at tuning up and tuning down the small knobs. I mean you really have a reputation for that. But I mean going from 0 to 2 must be the most profound experience for people versus going from 9.5 to 10.
Adee: [20:12] Yeah.
Michael: [20:12] Without a doubt. Yeah, like if we’re going on 80-20 principle, the 20 percent of things that give us 80 percent of the results, just writing down and tracking what you’re already eating without changing a thing will have one of the biggest effects in your nutrition.
Adee: [20:27] Yeah. One of my favorite quotes of all time is, the extent to which you are unconscious of the habit is the extent to which it persists. And just being able —
Juliet: [20:35] I love that.
Adee: [20:35] To put awareness on something allows you to take action. And if you’re not aware then you cannot get results. So that leap for people is huge.
Juliet: [20:49] So one thing I will say, and tell me if you guys agree with this, and maybe you guys are tracking every single thing you’re eating, but my experience having done a ton of tracking in various different formats in my own life, is that you really do, actually you can sort of move into a post tracking part of your life where you actually can pretty much look at something and be like that’s probably this many ounces of — or whatever unit of measurement you’re using. But you can kind of eyeball everything and have a pretty good idea that you’re sort of reaching your macros or whatever sort of count you’re trying to do. Do you guys find that to be true or are you still tracking every single thing you eat? Or what’s it like for you in your own life?
Michael: [21:27] Yeah. You’re exactly right. So what we call what you just described is intuitive eating. But we look at it like intuitive eating is like the top of the pyramid and tracking and building awareness is more the bottom of the pyramid. After doing — I’ll pretend that I’m as consistent with this as Adee. She is like a Jedi and I’m her student. What we do in our own life is we go through periods where we track diligently. And I feel like that’s kind of like resharpening our blade. But then the majority of the year we’re just using those skills, eyeballing, like you said, and just really knowing what our body needs to feel the best, to perform the best, to look how we want to look.
And if we ever feel like — we just went on a big trip to Europe this past summer and we started out great, got a little out of control at the end. When that happens– and we have like negative momentum, we have the tools to really dial things back in. And that’s where we want all of our clients to get to, where they don’t need us for the rest of their lives. They have this huge toolbox that they can pull out anytime that they need.
Adee: [22:38] Yeah. It’s kind of like going to university. You spend all this time studying and reading the books and memorizing the information so that you can pass the test and get the degree, and then once you get the degree, you really only use the information that’s relevant to your life. You don’t use the other things. And you can pick up, you’ve built the discipline to be able to learn. You’ve built the ability to consume information and store it. And you can bring it back up whenever you need it. I have not tracked anything since last January when I did a 90-day Keto experiment to see what it would be like. But other than that, I haven’t tracked anything since. And it’s more just you have this — I have confidence that no matter what situation I’m in in life, nutrition is not something that has control over me. I have control over my nutrition. And that’s from building that skillset.
Kelly: [23:30] I really love that you treat this like a skill. I don’t think we even heard people say —
Juliet: [23:37] Yeah, it really is.
Kelly: [23:37] That, are you a skilled —
Adee: [23:39] Eater. Yeah.
Kelly: [23:39] Consumer of foods or not, you know.
Adee: [23:41] Well, I do it exactly —
Kelly: [23:41] And it’s easy if you’re just looking at spinach and steak. Well, then your choices are binary, right? But it’s not that easy. So I really like this idea of skill.
Juliet: [23:51] Yeah, and I mean I have to say I do exactly what you guys do. I mean I definitely have times of my life for whatever reason I fall off the wagon and I eat the cake my daughter bakes every single night or whatever. And in those times, and I’ve never heard that phrase negative momentum, but whenever I have negative momentum too, even though I’m pretty good at eyeballing, it’s also this thing I do where I go back to actually tracking and just to get myself on track. And then I’ll do it for a few weeks, and then I’m like I’m kind of burned out on tracking, think I’m back on track. And then I stop.
But negative momentum is interesting. Okay I have to go back to this thing about — well, I have multiple questions because you mentioned you did a Keto experiment, but I’m going to get to that later. I do want to go back to this topic of carbs because I will say, I think we talked about this in the pre-roll a little bit, but in our community and I think generally speaking, and this is largely among non-athletes, but I think it’s also a discussion among athletes, and especially it was specifically in the CrossFit community a few years ago, that it was like you cannot eat any carbs and that they’re terrible for you. So I don’t know, I’d love to hear what you both think about that in a little more depth. Especially when it comes to living life and also athletic performance.
Kelly: [25:03] Yeah. And let me — I’ll dovetail into that because I think it’s relevant, is that what are the differences between eating for health and eating for performance, right? Are there differences? So I think maybe you can sandwich those things together with a food analogy sandwich.
Michael: [25:19] Yeah. I love it. It’s a great question. I think it all comes down to the person’s goals and priorities. And I’ll add that most people have no idea what their goals and priorities are. They think they know what they want, but when you really get down to it, they want something different. For instance, I think people want like their highest priority is to look a certain way, but when you get down to it, the amount of effort that it takes, the amount of sacrifices that it takes to look like someone like Brooke Ence, who I’m sure you guys know, who is just absolutely shredded, looks like an action figure, they really don’t want — they’re not willing to do the work that it takes to get there.
So I just use that as an arbitrary example to say like people don’t often know what their goals actually are and we help them figure them out. We don’t believe that carbs are good or bad. We believe in helping each person find what makes them feel best at any given time. And we see that as something that evolves for every single person. Personally, we’ve done a lot of experimentation. And I think it’s fair to say that one of the best that we’ve both ever felt in our entire life was on this Keto experiment. In terms of mental clarity, I feel like that’s a real thing even though it sounds so woo.
Adee: [26:48] I totally hated that saying before we tried it.
Michael: [26:51] Yeah. It felt like this sort of film was lifted from my mind. I was a little bit clearer and a little more focused. I also had — I didn’t know I had any stomach issues but all of a sudden it felt a little bit better in there. And on the other side of things, I don’t feel like it’s that sustainable for me and my life. I come from Louisiana, where there’s not a Keto thing for 500 miles. I love sweets from time to time. And we also in our nutrition philosophy, we have to consider what is practical over a long period of time. And so Keto for us, having almost no carbs at all, has also become another tool in our toolbox that we can just go back to if we feel like we want to shake things up or we want to train for a specific goal. But that’s a long way of saying we don’t think that carbs are good or bad. We like to find what makes people feel best.
Adee: [27:53] And there’s like so many little nuances to it because people forget vegetables are carbs.
Kelly: [27:58] Doh.
Juliet: [27:59] Go figure.
Adee: [28:00] And people just forget. They just —
Kelly: [28:01] Fruit is a carb.
Adee: [28:03] Fruit is carbs. Vegetable is carbs.
Juliet: [28:06] Wine.
Adee: [28:07] Yeah. Wine. Well, yeah.
Michael: [28:08] Cashews.
Adee: [28:11] Yeah. Cashews. Or yogurt, you’re going to have a lot of carbs in it. Dairy, depending on what kind of dairy you’re having.
Michael: [28:16] Avocados can ruin your day with carbs, man. I had no idea until Keto.
Adee: [28:23] And so people just forget that carbs doesn’t necessarily mean void of micronutrients. If you’re filling your carbs with Sour Patch Gummies and processed sugar, it’s a different story. So it really depends on what exactly that it is we’re talking about. But we don’t think carbs are the enemy. And what we really, really our mission is for people to feel in control of their nutrition while also enjoying your life at the same time. And I think people underestimate sometimes that food also is connected to joy and life experience and bonding with people. and how many life experiences is connecting over food. So carbs are a big part of that. They’re just abundant in the world.
Michael: [29:06] And we’ve also seen in a very high percentage of people that we’ve worked with that are coming from not necessarily Keto but a very low carb Paleo diet, when they are working out consistently, when they add in more carbs and have a moderate amount of fat, they lose fat very, very rapidly. And I think there’s this fear in a lot of parts of the nutrition world that are just really afraid of carbohydrates.
Kelly: [29:36] We were at a big international summit and sitting down at the dinner table, and this person was really heavy fat forward, no carb, but massive amounts of fat. And this woman sat down next to Juliet and she’s like your arms are jacked. And how do you get that 12-pack, what’s going on with that. And Juliet’s like I can’t eat 50,000 calories of fat. And the woman’s like what, you know what I mean. Juliet’s like that coffee you have is 1,400 calories of fat.
Juliet: [30:08] Yeah. I’m like if I have 1,400 calories of fat and then three meals, I actually will get fat.
Adee: [30:16] Of course.
Juliet: [30:16] Go figure.
Adee: [30:17] I think people forget that. Fat is so calories dense and it’s so low volume. So you can get so much so quickly. So people forget that.
Kelly: [30:27] I have a couple of follow up questions. This is really crucial and will speak to the excellence of your nutrition strategies and your whole life’s work. Can you be a WAG athlete and eat popcorn?
Adee: [30:40] Yeah. Definitely.
Juliet: [30:43] Well, so over the years Kelly and I have been on like — we’re not even nutrition experts but people will ask us how do you guys eat or whatever. And for years I would say to people, Paleo plus popcorn.
Michael: [30:54] Nice.
Juliet: [30:54] Because I was like popcorn is literally my favorite food. By the way, it does cause me some digestive distress but I’m willing to accept that in exchange for my love for popcorn.
Kelly: [31:02] It’s really a conduit for salt.
Juliet: [31:02] But I’m always like, does this diet include popcorn because if so, I’m in.
Adee: [31:06] Yeah. It does include popcorn.
Kelly: [31:09] Do you feel like men and women — is this your strategy you coach both men and women. Are men and women, do they have different needs, do they respond differently to different sort of interventions. In your experience working with this vast, vast crowd of people, working with health and again body composition changes to health to performance, are there differences kind of globally to men and women or are we unique animals?
Michael: [31:37] You should be ashamed of yourself for asking that question. There are no differences in men and women.
Adee: [31:42] Yeah. What are you even talking about, Kelly?
Kelly: [31:44] Juliet’s always like you can eat — I can eat a bag of cookies and I weigh the same thing the next day. I don’t feel great. But I weigh the same thing. We’re not the same.
Juliet: [31:51] Yeah. He can eat a pint of ice cream and weigh the same. And I eat a pint of ice cream and I’ve literally gained 10 pounds. Not one pound, 10.
Adee: [31:59] I mean there’s definitely some differences.
Michael: [32:01] I mean one of the things that comes up for me immediately is that women from my perspective tend to be way better at adhering to the program.
Adee: [32:10] Yeah. Well —
Michael: [32:11] Men have a really hard time.
Adee: [32:13] Like psychologically there’s differences.
Michael: [32:15] That’s what I mean.
Adee: [32:16] And this is just — we are being so general here. There are exceptions to the rule. I mean Cole Sager is an exception to this rule. He is like the most compliant. He will listen to anything I say. He asks questions but he is not like the average male who signs with us. I think it’s why most nutrition programs in health and wellness are like 70 percent female, 30 percent male in general, is that most males, they kind of come to you but they already know what they want to do.
Kelly: [32:52] No.
Michael: [32:53] They already know everything.
Adee: [32:55] So there’s like a little bit of — especially there’s a little bit of I want to do things my way. And so the approach of how to coach, they need to know a lot of why and a lot of — and there’s women like this too so it’s not like it’s just mean. But they need to know what are we doing, what’s the plan, where is this going, how long is it going to take, why are you making this choice. And also, I think we should try what I want to do.
Michael: [33:22] For instance
Juliet: [33:23] And also, what about me?
Michael: [33:26] For instance, on occasion I will go to her and I’m trying to change up something about my nutrition. I have a WAG coach and have for a long time. But occasionally I’ll ask her a question. And if it doesn’t jive with something I read on T Nation like six years ago, I may dismiss it.
Adee: [33:45] Yeah, you’re like I know more about that than you. Yeah.
Kelly: [33:48] Keep lifting that weight, it’s going to be great. You don’t need a coach. It’s totally fine.
Juliet: [33:53] Okay. So I know that you guys are well known for working with a lot of high-level athletes and we’ve talked about some of those. Does that — are the people that are using your program mostly serious athletes or is it mostly regular people? And it sounds like compliance is a big thing, but is there a certain type of person or stage of life where people find you and have the most success?
Michael: [ 34:19] Yeah. the most common are 25- to 40-year old people that are into some sort of fitness or sport. And they tend to be people that are like really into that thing. So a lot of CrossFitters, cyclists —
Adee: [34:35] Spartan racers.
Michael: [34:35] Distance runners. Whatever their sport or mode of fitness, they tend to be people that are optimizers and really willing to put in the work over the long term.
Adee: [34:45] Yeah. Like people who let’s say they’re not even into a sport, but they’re the type of people who enjoy a challenge. The people who do best on our program, they already come into the program with the understanding that you have to work hard to get results. And they’ve seen that in some other capacity. Like I have to work. People tell me I can’t do something, oh, watch me. I’m going to work my butt off and I’m going to do exactly what you say that I can’t do. In sport, it’s like a super easy way to learn work ethic because the harder you train, the more effort you put towards it, it’s like so tangible to see I’m getting results. So those people thrive in our environment because a lot of it is, we are empowering you to do the work for yourself. We are not going to hand hold for you. We’re not going to tell you exactly what to eat and we’re also not going to make this easy for you, for good reason, I think.
Kelly: [35:42] There’s — I feel like we talked a little I think about being a parent and having nutrition. And certainly, something Juliet and I worry about, giving all our food neuroses to our growing daughters. You know, counting, control, playing around with macros, fasting. We’re like are our kids going to have a normal relationship with food because I cover myself with grass-fed meat every night and it’s weird, right? One of the things I really appreciate about you, you said you got this power, this superpower, as a teenager, and I feel like there’s a lot of health interventions that should start with our young people much earlier. We begin these conversations when they’re too late. Do you — is it appropriate, the WAG, for — because I know there’s a lot of parents out there that are saying hey, I’m really worried about my kids not eating foods, not being — having the fuel and the micronutrients. And I’ll use as an example, the weird food fetishes we see at youth sports, which is insane.
Juliet: [36:44] Get ready, you two, get ready.
Kelly: [36:44] When we go to volleyball. We go to the swim meets and I’m like your kid just swam a 20 second race and you just gave her a 1,500 calorie Jamba Juice.
Juliet: [36:51] Costco muffin.
Kelly: [36:53] And a Costco muffin. We’re like whoa.
Michael: [36:54] Recovery.
Kelly: [36:55] Yes. Do you feel like — because I really feel like it was a superpower for you to have this at age 16. That’s really remarkable. And I wish someone had talked to me. I used to eat like four bagels at break and hot chocolate. And I’d be asleep in class and all puffy and I didn’t know why. You know, trying to gain weight. When should we be initiating these conversations, especially around performance and nutrition, with our youth athletes?
Adee: [37:22] Yeah. What we do, we don’t work with anyone lower than 16, and I think it might just be because I was 16 when I started doing it. So that’s probably why the bias is there. I think you can — we don’t have kids yet, so my answer’s going to be totally potentially wrong. And let’s like chat again in four or five years. Or we can keep an ongoing conversation about this. But what I wish that my parents would have done at the time is have these conversations with me as soon as I am able to make food choices for myself. Like I am 4 years old and I’m picking and choosing what types of food I can have.
I think we don’t give kids necessarily enough credit that they are strong. We don’t assume strength in them and we kind of like are worried about our own neuroses already and we’re already worried about us putting it on them. So it changes the way that we talk about them and then they automatedly feel the weirdness. So they start feeling weirdness around food long before they even understand. They feel that energy. Like I’m worried about what I’m going to say so I’m just going to have this weird energy around talking about food. And then I feel like they feel that. Like oh, there’s some strange, there’s some weirdness around whenever ice cream comes out so I‘m going to actually — it must be important, so I want more of it.
Juliet: [38:48] Right. Yeah, I mean Kelly and I feel like — and we’re always — by the way, we’re in the same boat as you guys, we say the same thing. People say, oh, you guys are doing such a great job as parents, and we’re like, yeah, check back like — give us another 10 years when our kids are adults.
Kelly: [39:00] And we’re paying for their therapy.
Juliet: [39:00] And then we’ll see if like — let’s see where they are when they’re like 27. Did we do a good — we’ll know a lot more then. But Kelly and I always feel a little bit like man, if we can send our kids off to college and they at least know that they should sleep a certain amount, even if they don’t, and they sort of independently decide to exercise and independently decide to eat some vegetables, we will have won as parents. That’s sort of our — and I think it’s super interesting to think of it as a skill. I actually am going to send you guys a copy of what I believe to be the only book you should read as new parents called Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. And it’s because it treats sleeping for kids as a skill.
Kelly: [39:41] A skill.
Juliet: [39:42] Just like nutrition is. And that it’s a skill to be taught and valued in a certain way.
Kelly: [39:48] And practiced.
Juliet: [39:49] And practiced. And I think nutrition is the same way with kids. I mean I think what you guys are saying is exactly it. And you know, I think that that’s the best we can hope for, is that we sort of teach our kids that this, you know, it’s important to eat some vegetables and have sort of a mixture of foods and some carbs and protein involved.
Kelly: [40:08] Whey protein shake, gummy bears.
Juliet: [40:08] And maybe sleep a little bit.
Kelly: [40:11] In there.
Juliet: [40:11] Anyway, that was just more of a statement. When Kelly mentioned gummy bears, I will say that having been in the CrossFit space for a really long time and following all sorts of nutrition things, I will say that I do, and I just wanted to get your thoughts on this, I’m not trying to be controversial. But I will say that I know a lot of people who are counting their macros who are like great, I have 40 more carbs, now I get to eat my bag of gummy bears every single night. You know, and I’m assuming you guys are always trying to, and know that you are trying to advocate for people sort of biasing real food. But sometimes it does seem like in that counting environment people are like great, got this much left, I’m going to do this. I don’t know. I just wanted to get your thoughts on that because it’s just something I’ve seen in the counting of things space.
Michael: [41:00] Yeah. Totally. That’s something we call if it fits your macros. And there are certainly people that join our program that eat that way. And we’ve always been — I don’t know if we created this or not.
Adee: [41:15] Real food fits your macros. Yeah.
Michael: [41:17] So we started this hashtag of saying real food fits your macros.
Kelly: [41:22] That’s great.
Juliet: [41:22] That’s so great.
Michael: [41:22] You can certainly hit your macros with any food. And there’s an argument to be made that at the end of the day you will look the same if you’re eating it with nutrient dense whole foods or gummy bears and ice cream from a body composition standpoint. But long term, and the way that we feel along the way, that’s just not something that we believe in at all. We constantly encourage people to eat as many whole foods as possible. And we also believe that if 80 percent, 90 percent of your day is full of those foods, then you choose to eat a little bit of ice cream or a few gummy bears at the end of every day, that doesn’t ruin the beginning of your day.
Adee: [42:06] I also, just to add to it, I think what you’re talking about is generally a phase that people go through. And sometimes being a great coach is when to say something, and sometimes it’s when not to say something. And sometimes you’ve just got to let people go through this phase because a lot of it is like, oh my gosh, I have this freedom, right? I have this freedom. I don’t have to villainize gummy bears anymore. I can actually enjoy them and just like allowing them to just like run free for a little bit. Have the donut, enjoy the ice cream. It’s like fun for a minute. I think it’s a phase that does get old eventually and eventually they’re like all right, I don’t really want to do this anymore. I kind of just would like rather —
Michael: [42:49] It’s kind of disgusting.
Adee: [42:49] Yeah. You kind of get over it after a while. And you’re just like I’d rather — I’m realizing, okay, I can have 40 carbs with the gummy bears or I can have this humongous salad that’s this exact same amount of calories and the exact same and it makes me feel way better. I think sometimes it’s just a phase which comes from a mindset of this food is good and this food is bad, and therefore, if I eat the bad food, I am a bad person. And we just — I think sometimes it’s okay to let people just like explore and be like I’m going to work on what we can work on right now and this person is going to have the gummy bears whether I tell them to or not, so right now we’re just not going to tackle that. We’re going to work on some other strategies first until they’re coming to — you know, the lessons you learn for yourself are the most powerful lessons versus the lesson someone told you you should learn. So I think —
Michael: [43:44] This is wisdom. It’s great.
Kelly: [43:45] You are a Jedi.
Juliet: [43:48] You’re a Jedi.
Kelly: [43:49] Thank you, Jedi. Thank you.
Juliet: [43:49] Okay. So full disclosure that I have been a WAG client before and it was really fun. But one of the things you guys do, which I think I’m sure other programs do this but at least it was the first time I ever did it, but it was as part of your weekly check-in you have to actually submit photos of yourself in addition to a weight check, which is what most programs do. Can you talk a little bit about why that’s important and —
Kelly: [44:15] And do you do that with everyone?
Juliet: [44:15] And what the reasoning behind that is? Yeah.
Adee: [44:19] So we have evolved over time. We do highly, highly encourage it. It’s not 100 percent mandatory. We don’t let you know that it’s 100 percent not mandatory just because there is some level of value for the majority of people that are joining our program. You don’t have to. We actually have a new feature in our software that’s coming out within the next — I mean if you know anything about software, you have no idea when the feature’s coming out. But at some point in the near future, where you can toggle things on and off. Especially if it’s triggering for people. We do encounter that.
So but for a majority of people, having the photos, one, they regret not taking them. They’re like I have made all this progress and I don’t have the ability to appreciate myself and when you’re with yourself every single day, it’s harder to notice change. And then all of a sudden you’re like I’m not making any progress and I’m so frustrated and this isn’t working. And then your coach sends you your first photo compared to your most recent photo and you’re like oh, like dang, I look so different. And it’s just harder when you’re seeing yourself every single day. And it’s a marker of progress, first.
And then the number on the scale, we want people — just like we want people to conquer the whole good food versus bad food mentality, we want people to conquer the ability of the scale to affect how you feel about yourself. It’s just one piece of data that gives you information about what’s working, what’s not working, how can we actually achieve the goals. If you’re trying to lose weight, not having the number on the scale is a really hard thing. It’s a harder thing to do. It’s just a piece of data that can allow us to notice trends over time. So we’d rather do the hard work of helping you mentally conquer seeing that number versus avoiding the number altogether. So that’s like mostly why we do that. But yeah.
Michael: [46:20] I think there’s one more really important powerful effect of taking photos. We learned about this thing called the Hawthorne effect recently from our mentor Evan. And the Hawthorne Effect was done at some kind of plant that made widgets. And they told the plant workers, the factory workers, that someone was going to be coming in to mess with the lights. And when that happened, the production of widgets went through the roof. Widget is like code for arbitrary product or service.
Adee: [46:54] Oh okay. Cool.
Kelly: [46:56] Widge.
Michael: [46:57] Widge. The production went through the roof. And the reason that they found was that whenever human beings might be watched or someone is watching over their shoulder, they will work harder. And we do that in any area of life. And so in our service, we know that we’re going to have to check in with this person. We’re going to have to write a little summary, they’re going to know if we did a good job or not. One of the most powerful things is that they’re going to see with their own eyes if we’re telling the truth. Like if we look a little bit leaner, they’re going to know that we probably adhere to our program or maybe we need to adjust it. But there’s a really powerful form of accountability when we know someone’s going to see us without a shirt on, or very little clothing, enough to see our belly and our arms and our legs. It’s very, very motivating.
Adee: [47:54] And it’s like a moment. Like a moment. My moment was when I was 16 years old when I went to the nutritionist’s office and she goes I need you to get on the scale. And I was like I looked around and my mom was there. And I was like does she have to be here when I get on the scale. And she was like yeah, she’s not going anywhere. So I got on the scale in front of my mom. And my mom seeing the number, it completely changed my mom. I was on the hook. I was feeling the shame and guilt and I didn’t want to feel that anymore.
And when people take photos at the beginning, of course we don’t want people to feel shame and guilt, but once in a while, having those emotions, it triggers you into action. And if it’s pushing you into action, it’s a motivator to change your life because you have to confront where you are and you’re unhappy with it, then sometimes it’s really good for people a lot of times.
Kelly: [48:51] That’s great.
Juliet: [48:51] Yeah. And I mean I will just say that, controversial, and I’ve even thought about writing a blog post about this, but I basically have weighed myself every single day of my adult life. And I realize that’s not for everybody and that there are a lot of people that have disordered eating issues. It’s 100 percent not for them. But for me, I’ve been basically plus or minus about eight pounds my entire life, you know, maybe sometimes within a ten pound window, just depending on how I’m training or how I’m eating or how stressed I am or whatever. But I really think that that’s been a huge part of my own personal lifelong weight management because I immediately get feedback. Like we talked about earlier, if I eat a half of — if I eat an entire box of Girl Scout cookies, it is immediate that I see it —
Kelly: [49:35] I’ve never seen that.
Juliet: [49:35] On the scale the next day. No, I don’t do that. But I’m just saying whatever, I fall off the wagon like everybody else and I like to occasionally eat crappy stuff.
Kelly: [49:41] You are sensitive. You are sensitive.
Juliet: [49:42] Immediately I see a change, right? So I see — so I’ve immediately gotten feedback about my either good or bad choices. But I think what you said, what resonated with me is it’s more for me about the trends. Like you can kind of tell if I’m tracking it on a regular basis, it’s like uh oh, I’m plus three and it seems to be a trend that I need to zip up. And so I zip it up. So I’m always kind of like this fluctuating, but it’s in this pretty small window for most of my adult life. Like obviously not — having kids is sort of an exception. But I don’t know. Anyway, I’m a fan of it. And I realize it’s fraught with — it’s not for some people.
Kelly: [50:21] You know, anecdotally —
Juliet: [50:21] But for me anyway, it’s been good.
Kelly: [50:23] I’ve heard Fred Rogers weighed himself every day and would eat a little bit less or swim a little bit more. And he had a weight that was like this is his check-in weight. Mr. Rogers did that. Which leads me to an interesting question because one of the things that I really respect about both of you is that you are users and you have deep psychological sort of instincts around this based on your own experiences, but also, your athletes. So here’s the question. This may be triggering. But I love to ask my friends this. Did you ever have a favorite weight? I don’t think I’ve even asked anyone on this season. But I ask all my athlete friends, did you have a favorite weight?
Adee: [50:57] Like a body weight?
Michael: [50:58] Wow, this is vulnerable.
Kelly: [50:58] Yeah.
Michael: [50:59] We’re going there.
Adee: [51:00] I’m triggered. I’m triggered for sure.
Kelly: [51:03] You don’t have to. Don’t tell me. You can keep it to yourself.
Juliet: [51:03] I’m triggered right now.
Michael: [51:06] Yeah. It’s easy for me. The 2013 games I was 190, I was in by far the best shape of my life. And even to this day, when I get there, that’s when I feel most confident. I’m not like, I don’t know, bodybuilder lean by any means, but I’m lean enough where I think my confidence is maxed out. I feel very light on my feet. And that’s my weight.
Kelly: [51:31] The background of this is the context is that we see a lot of athletes, when something doesn’t go right for them, they default to their first training experience methodology where they had success or they had their first breakout. So they go back to their squat program or Gayle Hatch or the thing that got them the first success. They default back to those exercise behaviors. And I think I see the same thing sometimes come through in nutrition. I was eating this way in 1987 at this moment where I was my most powerful self, I must repeat that experiment.
Michael: [52:07] Right. Tell the A to B experiment or model.
Adee: [52:08] Well, there’s also — I think I made up this quote but I might have stolen it from somewhere. So I’ve Googled it, so I’ve tried to find where it originated. But I feel like I made it up. So if anyone listening has heard this before, please, I would love to give credit to who it is. But I say a lot, what saved you no longer serves you. And just because something worked for you in the past doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you now. Especially with training and nutrition, so much about you has changed. Especially at the beginning of when you train, you build this base that you just don’t need to work that hard anymore. You just don’t have to do as much as you get older to improve your fitness. It’s more like you’ve figured out what works or you can use the minimum effective dose more when you’re deep and more advanced in your training. It’s the same with nutrition. You kind of — and things tweak, your hormones change, you’re aging, different things like that. But the A to B model for this.
Kelly: [53:12] Say that non stolen quote one more time. The original. Say it.
Adee: [53:16] What saved you no longer serves you.
Kelly: [53:19] I love it.
Juliet: [53:20] Yeah. I love that.
Kelly: [53:20] Okay. Now tell us the AB formula.
Michael: [53:22] Yeah. Because the choice point is just like this. You can’t go back.
Adee: [53:23] So like the A to B model is, there’s a funnel, like a triangle, so it’s like wide at the beginning and then it ends at a point. So A starts at the widest end of the funnel. B is the closing, like where the two lines come together. And that’s your path to success. So A is where you start, B is the goal that you want to get to. And as you’re trying to head towards B, most people think it’s like a straight line. Straight from A you’re going straight to B, and that’s just how life works. It obviously doesn’t work that way. So you’re going up and down the whole way. It’s just like this rollercoaster all the way on the way to B.
And this funnel is what is called the Zone of Optimal Behavior, meaning you want to be inside the funnel if you’re going to be heading towards B. Anytime you get outside of the funnel, you’re no longer heading towards B. And the example that my mentor, her name’s Annie Hymen Pratt, she gives when she explains this is basketball. So when you’re starting at A, the amount of behaviors that can still help you get towards B is wide. You can do so many different things that can make progress for you. So in basketball, you’re a kid, just like playing with the ball is getting you closer to making it to the NBA. Then as you move closer and closer, the behaviors start to narrow. And you have to actually join a team. You have to actually practice. Then you get to high school, you have to start exercising. You can’t just move in the right direction and still be getting better at basketball. You have to do more. Your things have to get narrower, skills have to get more precise. And as you get all the way close to B, you have to start caring about your PR. You can’t get a DUI and stay on an NBA team. All these things really start to matter. And it gets narrower and narrower if you really want to make it to the NBA.
But the thing that he’s talking about is when you get outside of the Zone of Optimal Behavior, a lot of people, it’s called a choice point, so you either have to decide to get back inside the Zone of Optimal Behavior, and like start heading towards B again, or choose something different. Because if you’re outside, you can’t make progress anymore. And most people want to go backwards. But there’s only forwards. You can’t go backwards. You don’t get to stop working out because it used to work for me if I would just go to the games and practices and I would still get better at basketball. But it doesn’t work anymore. Like you have to keep moving forwards. I think people just exactly like what you’re saying, they’re like that used to work for me, why isn’t that working for me anymore.
Kelly: [55:59] Amazing. So great.
Juliet: [55:59] Yeah. I am a 47-year-old woman and I can tell you even seven years ago if I just had two bad food days I could like zip it up and be back in two days or something, right? And now it’s like things don’t happen as quickly, I could say the older and older I get. So the same —
Kelly: [56:21] Out of your Zone of Optimal Behavior faster.
Juliet: [56:22] But you know, the same principles of course apply. But my body’s reaction to it isn’t the same. It’s not the same.
Kelly: [56:31] What are you guys, what are you two working on?
Juliet: [56:33] Yeah, what are you looking forward to?
Kelly: [56:33] What are you excited about? What’s coming down the pike that’s getting you like let’s talk about macros? I mean what’s getting you fired up about doing this still?
Michael: [56:42] So work wise what we’re most excited about I think — well, the thing that we’re always really excited about innovating the actual coaching model that the way that we help people adhere and comply to the program. But what’s new and fresh and really exciting is training new coaches and helping them start online businesses. So we have — we’ve trained over 40 of our own employees on the same iterative coaching program, our coach certification.
And a couple of years ago we started being inundated with requests from former clients that said, oh my God, my life was changed with this, I want to do this with other people, how can I do it. And so about a year, year and a half ago, we started to sell our coach certification, the same exact one that we use with all of the coaches that we’ve trained. And we started to train them. People are loving that. And then what they need next is, okay, I know how to coach someone but what software do I use, how do I market myself, how do I actually start an online business.
And so now we’re starting to help people do that as well. And so we allow them to use Seismic, the same service that — or the same software that we use to communicate with our clients. We help them with marketing and sales. We teach them how to get their website up and running. And it just feels like a culmination of all of the different skills that we’ve been developing over the past six years combined. Well, 12 combined. And yeah, it feels really exciting to see a new level of impact that we get to have on people.
Juliet: [58:30] Yeah, I mean it becomes exponential, right, doing it that way. You know, you guys are two people and then you have your people. but if you can grow it in that way, it’s endless. So that’s amazing.
Kelly: [58:40] Adee, what about you?
Adee: [58:42] I always love iterating on the actual coaching program. It is so much fun for me. I’m in the Facebook group with the members. He will attest, we get like hundreds of feedback survey responses every month. I go through every single —
Michael: [58:59] How many pages was that? I feel like the last one was like 70 whole pages on a google Doc. She just devours it.
Adee: [59:07] Yeah. I read every word that every single client says and I log in my brain how often is that coming up, is that something we can actually do. And I really love just hearing what our people want and what’s working for them and what’s not working for them. And we’re not perfect. When you were like, I was a WAG client, I usually ask what year were you, you know. If it was 2014, I’m like ooh, we’re so much better now, I promise.
Juliet: [59:38] Oh my God, it was like 2017 or 18. It was not that long ago.
Adee: [59:41] Better. Better.
Juliet: [59:41] It was recent. I had a great experience.
Kelly: [59:44] You do sound exactly like Juliet. I love it. Thank you so much for spending so much time with us. It is such a pleasure. We’ve hung out a little bit. We are in the same family of athletes and coaches our whole life. And it is just a total pleasure to hang out with you.
Juliet: [1:00:00] Yeah. Huge fan of what you guys are doing.
Kelly: [1:00:01] I can’t wait until we can actually hug it out someday.
Michael: [1:00:04] Yes. Remember hugs?
Juliet: [1:00:06] Wasn’t that nice?
Michael: [1:00:09] Yeah, there’s that thing that —
Juliet: [1:00:10] Or like a dinner party? That was nice.
Kelly: [1:00:11] Coaching in person. Not behind a plastic bubble. I don’t know if you saw that, it’s so sad.
Adee: [1:00:16] Yeah. When you get your nails done now, there’s a glass wall.
Kelly: [1:00:20] Whoa.
Juliet: [1:00:21] Oh yeah, see we don’t even have — that’s not even open yet for us. So my nails are looking really janky.
Kelly: [1:00:25] Where do we find out more?
Juliet: [1:00:28] Yeah. How do we find more about you guys?
Kelly: [1:00:28] How do people become WAG clients?
Juliet: [1:00:30] And become a client.
Michael: [1:00:30] A couple ways to follow us. One is we have a podcast called The WAG Podcast, which are conversations just between the two of us. They’re 20 to 30 minutes with actionable steps at the end of each episode. We put a lot of effort into that.
Kelly: [1:00:45] And that’s WAG. Obviously, Working Against Gravity. But The WAG Podcast is what you call it?
Michael: [1:00:49] Yeah. Exactly. Yeah, it’s literally called The WAG Podcast. And if you want to look up our different programs, you can go to workingagainstgravity.com. And then I am very inactive on social media and you can follow my inactive account @michaelcazayoux. And she’s @adeecazayoux.
Adee: [1:01:13] Yeah. My maiden name was difficult. And then when we got married, I got an email from a lawyer that we were working with and he was like you’re the only person I know that has a complicated last name that got a more complicated last name.
Kelly: [1:01:27] And I would also point everyone, Working Against Gravity is their Instagram account. And you have a ton of great info and snippets of your podcasts there and all the links there. So if people are looking to follow you on Insta, I think it’s a great place to start.
Michael: [1:01:41] Thank you. Guys, this was super fun. We’re so honored to be on your show. Thanks for reaching out.
Adee: [1:01:46] Yeah. Next time you’re in Austin, let us know because we’ll have a newborn, so we’re probably not going to be traveling for a while. But —
Kelly: [1:01:54] Oh, for sure.Back to Episode