Are you trying to pack on muscle, shred fat or find your peak performance? If so, becoming a better eater helps dictate that happening. This is why I wanted to bring on Mike Doehla, the founder of StrongerU Nutrition, to discuss the real problem stopping people from reaching their physique and performance goals. The vast majority of us know what we should be doing and eating, which means the education piece isn’t the issue. The real problem is actually executing a plan to take action. Dive in with us as Mike and I break down how we can change our habits to nail our nutrition day in and day out.
Mike and I unpack the self-awareness piece that is important in navigating your nutrition journey and a handful of tools you can use to guarantee your success. We steer the conversation to the importance of tracking and understanding where your calories are actually coming from. Mike then shares a little wisdom he lives by, “Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.” The first step is knowing and understanding what you are consuming and then making unbiased changes to reflect what you want to see.
It’s known that diet culture can get you results fast, but in order to sustain these results, it’s dire you follow a system for humans that we know works: habit-based changes in your every day eating. We close out the episode diving into how you can include your close relationships in your nutrition journey. It’s extremely important that you share your goals with those close to you and surround yourself with people who are going to cheer you on throughout the process. Listen in to discover the tools, tactics and strategies you can use to become a better eater.
What You’ll Learn in This Episode:
- [04:18] Who is Mike Doehla and what is StrongerU?
- [08:48] The big problem in the field of nutrition
- [12:25] The missing piece within diet culture
- [14:39] Basic principle of self-awareness
- [18:48] Putting on muscle from an evolutionary standpoint
- [21:18] Tactics and strategies for becoming more self-aware in the nutrition realm
- [22:29] Looking at your nutrition through an unbiased lens
- [23:59] The importance of tracking
- [28:43] The downfall of snacking when fat loss is the goal
- [36:13] Looking at nutrition on a spectrum
- [37:52] Including close relationships on your nutrition journey
- [42:00] Finding your tribe that drives success
- [43:42] The big takeaway to put these tactics and strategies to work
- [45:13] Where to find Mike Doehla
James Cerbie: Otherwise, let’s jump into the episode today with Mike Doehla. Okay, excellent. There we go. We are live with the one and only great and powerful Mike Doehla from StrongerU Nutrition. Mike, thank you so much for coming on board today. Man, I’m really excited to do this.
Mike Doehla: What’s up, James? How are you? Thanks for calling me powerful. I appreciate that. I use a lot stronger than I am today, but life has changed a little bit.
James Cerbie: Yeah, those priorities take some major shifts when you start running your own business and then you start a family and it’s like, oh, I’m no longer 23 and just go to the gym for 90 minutes a day and don’t really have any other real life concerns. That was a good time, though. I didn’t enjoy that. That was a fun period.
Mike Doehla: Yeah, exactly like seven days a week, just lifting to get strong and a couple of injuries along the way. Now I’m just trying to stay as healthy as I can.
James Cerbie: That’s just the natural shift, the progression that things take. But let’s do this. So anybody who is listening, who may not know who you are, can we give them a quick rundown on who you are? What you do, maybe a quick synopsis on Stronger nutrition. And then we’ll just dive right in because we started to have a pretty good conversation off air, and we’ll just bring that right back.
Who is Mike Doehla and What is StrongerU?
Mike Doehla: Yes. So I could give you, like, a 30 minutes story, or I could give you, like, a three minute story. So I’ll try to do the three minute story. Basically a normal everyday guy working in banking and human resources, didn’t love my career, wanted to work in the fitness industry, which was what my passion was. Trying to start a small little CrossFit garage gym didn’t work out. No one cared to train with me in my cold, dirty garage. So I pivoted to online nutrition all while working, did that for 13 months, got a ton of clients by creating a system that I thought was the missing piece in the nutrition space.
People were doing flexible dieting and things like that, but they didn’t mix the community and the education and all the data. And that’s what we do at Stronger You. We try to identify what people’s problem areas with food are and then plug in solutions for those things. So in about seven years, we became one of America’s fastest growing companies on the Inc. 5000 list, strictly through word of mouth, which I’m extremely proud of, because as we all know, in this industry, a lot of people are selling lots of nonsense, and we didn’t have to do that to grow and help lots of people.
And now we’re a team of about 90 people registered dieticians, PhDs, certified coaches. There are sales people. There’s everything you can imagine on our team. Recently, we were acquired by Self Esteem Brands, the parent company of Anytime Fitness. And the big reason I did that was, it sounds weird to have a successful business and sell, but I just want to help more people. I’m okay financially. I don’t care about being like the CEO and Big dog out of business. I want to just help as many people as humanly possible, and this allows us to do that.
So that’s kind of my quick story. Just had a baby. That’s been awesome. So life is good. I just want to spread joy to everyone else.
James Cerbie: Oh, other man, just crushing it on all fronts. It’s funny. My first job was actually in banking. I was an economics, political science undergrad and took my first job at Bank of America. And I worked there for one day on the train ride home from the bank. I’ve never called my dad. I was like, hey, just a heads up. This is not going to work. Like, I’m not going to quit right now, but I’m going to figure out an exit plan because I can’t do this. This is not going to fly.
And I was very much like you where my passion was strength conditioning, exercise physiology, performance. I just didn’t really study that in school. So it took a roundabout way of eventually getting to where I am now going back to school, doing much internship, all that fun, jazz. But then very much in a similar position of, I don’t really care if anybody knows who I am. I honestly would prefer to just kind of be a silent assassin in the background. I don’t need anybody to know my name, right?
Mike Doehla: What we’re doing. This professional knew of me.
James Cerbie: It’s like, I’d be totally fine if no one ever knew my name, and they’re just like, oh, well, Rebel performance does this. That’s great. They’re helping people.
Mike Doehla: Awesome.
James Cerbie: I’ll just go live on a farm and do my thing, and no one needs to know who I am.
Mike Doehla: Yeah, it’s tough for me. I go in, like, ebbs and flows. I’m like, it’s cool if people know you because they’re probably getting some value from what you’re putting out into the world. But then there are days. I’m like, I just kind of want to fade off of social media at times, but I’m like, Man, that’s where I help people, because I’m not just going to run down the streets, giving fat loss advice. That’s kind of awkward.
The Big Problem in the Field of Nutrition
James Cerbie: Just run down the middle of the road, just throwing out note cards and sticky notes. Like, here, that’s for everybody. So the topic that I want to start with today that we had a little bit of a chat about is just helping people become better eaters. I think that’s really what lies at the core of what you guys are doing is stronger you. And part of the reason you’ve been so successful is the approach that you take, right? Because the challenge is having people be aware there’s self-awareness around nutrition and not getting lost in the minutiae and having debates about things that probably honestly just don’t really matter that much.
Mike Doehla: That’s pretty much it when I think of a problem in life in general. I always try to think about what is causing this thing and what needs to happen for it to not happen anymore. And for most of our members, it’s fat loss. For some of them, it’s athletic performance and muscle gain and things like that. But the big problem I think in the field of nutrition is how to lose fat. So people don’t understand exactly how it happens or why it happens. They don’t understand the causes of what’s going on.
They design a life that makes it incredibly hard to do. Well, accidentally, they’re even afraid, like is this nutrition advice? But telling someone, hey, I know your husband is sabotaging all your efforts. Have you tried to talk to him about it and that’s like things that a lot of other plans aren’t doing. They’re like, I don’t want to get involved. And it’s like you’re not starting arguments in a household, but if someone is trying to do better and their partner is sabotaging them, they have to have these conversations.
So that’s what I like about this nutrition stuff is really trying to be like a food Detective and seeing what the actual problem is. And how do we create solutions for those things? And as taboo as it is, it’s almost like life coaching around food. You’re not just telling people that you have to eat this number of calories with protein, fat and carb, whatever. Yet this time, some of that is very important. And the macro stuff for me, and the flexible approach is really the foundation for a lot of people because it forces education and awareness.
And that’s my big thing with it. It’s not that everyone needs to track everything forever. The problem is you have no idea what you’re eating, even if you think you do. So track it for a bit and get the reality, even if it sucks for a little bit.
James Cerbie: People don’t like simple things. For some reason, everybody feels like there has to be a complex solution for a problem when in reality, most problems have a very simple solution. But I don’t know what it is about us. As human beings that seek out the most complex, convoluted way of trying to solve a problem.
Mike Doehla: Right. Because maybe I know what it is with food, right?
James Cerbie: Maybe simple is just not sexy. Yes.
Mike Doehla: And we’ve been groomed to think that if it’s that simple, it’s too good to be true. But it’s like with food, it literally is. The problem is we eat too many calories and we don’t burn enough. I’m not saying starve yourself and work out all day long. I’m saying maybe you just need to snack a little bit less and maybe you need to go for some walks, and that might be some people’s solution. Yeah.
James Cerbie: I think those small changes, that’s where the rubber actually meets the road, right? It’s not finding some fancy new supplement. It’s just that people don’t want to hear the fact that maybe you should go for an extra walk in the afternoon. That may be a year-long solution.
Mike Doehla: Right.
James Cerbie: Because one of the things I really like about what StrongerU and the coaches that I know there, like Dean and Jeb and Son and all these awesome people, right? What’s great is that you’re not doing what a lot of people on the Internet are doing, which is just this starvation approach of I can only take away so many calories from you.
Mike Doehla: Right.
James Cerbie: So at some point, it’s really a conversation of we got to get you moving more. We got to get you more active. We got to actually burn more calories. So this whole thing can work because, like, the starvation method is just not sustainable. It’s not going to work over time.
Mike Doehla: It’ll be a great fat loss approach. But what happens later, how sustainable is that? Can the average person do that? No. So when you’re thinking about how to lose fat, if you look at the energy balance equation, you look at all the parts that you can manipulate. It’s not just eating less food. It could be a lot of other things on the other side, specifically the movement, the workouts are great. I think everyone should lift and move and do cardio and stuff like that. Eat protein. These are the things.
The missing Piece Within Diet Culture
It’s not just starving yourself. And that’s where I think the diet culture stuff is coming from because people for much of their life. If we’re talking about struggling eaters much of their life, they were psychologically dieting. They weren’t actually dieting. They were forcing starvation on themselves because things were happening somewhere else in the week that were pumping up those averages. And what I love about what we do is we politely call BS on the story. People tell themselves. We go over why this stuff works, why it matters, and what the causes of excess calories, where they’re coming from and how they happen in a world where people aren’t even aware of it.
And that, to me, is like that’s the golden ticket for everyone to realize where this stuff happens.
James Cerbie: It’s just kind of grabbing that one little snack here, grabbing that one. People just don’t realize how much that adds up over the course of a week over the course of a month, over the course of six months, just being aware of that thing happening.
Mike Doehla: I’ve had clients tally up how many times they would just randomly reach for things. And I had a seasoned member that was hundreds of weeks into the program working with me, and she tallied it up, and it was like dozens and dozens of moments per day. And she said, Holy shit. I didn’t even realize how many times I would grab something. I said, that’s the thing we have to do to build awareness there. So how can you design your daily eating around not doing that as much?
James Cerbie: Yes, it’s actually funny. The conversation that we have a lot with a lot of our clients and athletes and people is very similar. It’s just slightly different in the sense that in the fat loss realm, we’re trying to keep you very self-aware of not having all these moments of continually grabbing and snacking and just blowing your calories up without realizing it. Most of our people are drastically under-eating based on their output. And so we’re having to talk to them about cautiously being aware of, hey, like, make sure you have a snack between these two meals because you’re 1000 calories under where you need to be just to kind of sustain your baseline and be okay.
Mike Doehla: Right.
Basic Principle of Self-Awareness
James Cerbie: But the basic principle there is the same as we need to have that self-awareness built in to set up things on your phone. Just a reminder. It’s going to Ping you at 10:00 am.. Hey, have a shake and a banana and a tablespoon of almond butter, whatever it is.
Mike Doehla: Right.
James Cerbie: Just that one simple adjustment. I don’t have to get more supplements. I don’t have to try to really crazily change how many meals you’re eating or how much calorie is within each meal. It could be as simple as, hey, let’s just have an extra snack between these two meals, and then we’re going to be back on the trend line we want to be on.
Mike Doehla: Yeah, we had someone the other day asking about her son. Her son wanted to gain weight and be more athletic. He was about 19, and I think the advice this individual was hoping for was a little bit more prescriptive. Like, hey, he should do this at this time, do this and then do that at 19. Like, all this kid needs to worry about is to work out hard and consistently and eat enough protein and calories, and you’re probably going to be good. And a lot of that advice to do that easier is kind of the opposite of what we tell a lot of fat loss members.
They maybe shouldn’t snack as much. Maybe they should delay a meal, so they have more food later when they’re more susceptible to overeating. But this kid, he’s just got to pack it in, start to finish in the day. Otherwise, it’s like the people that can’t lose weight are like, I need 1200 calories, but I can’t lose it’s almost like the people that aren’t gaining. They’re like, oh, I eat 30. 00, 50. 00 plus when they start tracking it’s like 1950. And I had all the time back in the day.
I’m like, no, I’m crushing food. It’s like, no, man, you ate two decently big meals and they were like, super clean, so they were like 900 calories.
James Cerbie: Yeah, I was definitely in that camp at one point. I’m eating so much food than you actually run the math on. That’s a nice part, right? People lie. Math doesn’t lie, numbers don’t lie.
Mike Doehla: The body and results tell the story. That’s it. Yeah.
James Cerbie: If he’s anything like I was when I was 19, he just probably needs to be perpetually eating, because I think back to when I was in College playing baseball and I always was trying to put on a little bit of extra weight. I played probably right around 195 to £200, and I really wanted to be more 205 210. And I think back to how I ate. I was just drastically under-eating. You have to think about what a day was like at that point, you’re walking around campus all day with the backpack, going to classes.
You probably have you rocking all day. You have a team lift at some point for an hour, and then you probably have a three plus hour practice. If you don’t have a game, you’re never not actively doing things. So I just should have been perpetually shoveling calories down more or less from the day time I woke up.
Mike Doehla: The time I went to bed and that’s exhausting, man, like, eat to sustain performance and build muscle, I think for me, is harder to do that than it is to eat for fat loss.
James Cerbie: I’m in total agreement. I think that when we start talking about very high level performers, high level training, which will be probably a little bit beyond what we’re doing. A rebel, right, because we’re helping busy humans that have a lot of other jobs and priorities and things in their day. It’s like, hey, we got 60 to 75 minutes. Let’s get in. Be efficient, make sure we’re getting the most out of the session to help you hit your goals. If you’re talking to one top 1% of athletes in the world, I think that eating is far more difficult than training.
I actually think the training is the fun part, but having to eat enough food to sustain your training is miserable. That’s just my two cents, my own experiences.
Mike Doehla: It’s uncomfortable, the biggest. And I’m not even talking like a bodybuilder, but the bigger people I know, like, the more muscular people I know; they eat to exhaustion just to sustain that performance and muscle. And it’s tough, man, why don’t you see that many jacked people? Because the effort and time that that takes, it is like to me, it’s like one of the most honorable things in fitness. To me, it’s harder than someone running a marathon. It’s crazy to see what needs to be done to build muscle like that
Putting on Muscle From an Evolutionary Standpoint
James Cerbie: Yeah, you basically are a professional eater who then just works out a lot. But it’s also funny from an evolutionary standpoint. When we think about putting on muscle, the body really doesn’t want to carry muscle. It takes an extreme effort for you to convince your body from a physiological standpoint. Hey, we should carry around a lot of this really extra expensive, potentially worthless issue. That’s going to take tons of calories that you probably don’t have access to. You just have to forage all the time. Muscle from an evolutionary standpoint, you need just enough, and then we’re good.
Mike Doehla: And I love that topic because it is. It’s like, a lot of people are like, oh, I want to lift, but I don’t want to get too big. It’s like, listen, your body does not want you to get too big. Don’t worry. It’s going to take some time. But you’re right. And I love the way you word it. It’s also how I explain it to people. Sometimes muscle is expensive, it takes more calories. It causes more weight on the body. So then your whole system is expending more.
So it’s good if you want to have a slightly higher metabolism and burn extra calories. But your body doesn’t know we’re living in this world. It doesn’t know that your human brain wants to just carry muscle because you want to look better. Yeah.
James Cerbie: You want to look like Chris Hemsworth?
Mike Doehla: Yeah, man. Dude, he’s a monster. What is he 6”3’ 6”2’? I don’t know.
James Cerbie: I mean, he’s just, like, the total package, right? He’s a beautiful man. He’s Jacked. Thor is an awesome character. Let’s be honest, you ask any human on the planet Earth, and every single one, man or woman is going to be like, oh, yeah. Chris Hemsworth is a beautiful person. It is what it is.
Mike Doehla: You know, it’s really funny. The other night before we went up to bed, I had one of the Thor movies on as I was feeding the baby, like, half paying attention, and Krista walked in, my wife, and I was like, no, get out. Thor’s got a shirt on.
James Cerbie: Let’s not set that expectation level.
Mike Doehla: Yeah, I didn’t want any exposure to the snacks.
Tactics and Strategies for Becoming More Self-Aware in the Nutrition Realm
James Cerbie: So if we want to circle back on this main idea here that we started the conversation with this self-awareness. What are some really good places for people to start just working on this on their own? Obviously, this is where the value of a coach comes in because they’re going to be able to be the unbiased third party who calls you on your stuff and helps you realize the things that you just don’t realize. But for people listening, they want to start being more self-aware of this, whether they are trying to maybe slim down, lean out, lose a little bit of that coveted weight that we had a lot of people put on or the people they’re like, hey, I’m trying to put on another 510 pounds of muscle, et cetera.
What are some good tactics strategies for them to start becoming more self-aware in this realm?
Mike Doehla: Yes. So first I think we have to, like, humans are incredibly biased. We don’t want to see the reality of things, because sometimes that does make us feel wrong and make us feel misled. We have a lot of time going down a certain route, so we don’t want to question it. But I always like to think of when I’m trying to find something out about myself. I try to pan out, and I think if I wasn’t me and I was my friend, what is the advice I would give myself?
And for some reason, the advice we usually give ourselves. It’s so biased because it impacts our feelings. So if we look at ourselves and we say, what is the advice that my friend would give me? We can start to poke holes in our arguments, which is I’m hardly eating, but I keep gaining weight. I’m really trying hard, but I’m gaining weight. It’s my metabolism. It’s this. And if we look at the science, it’s typically not a metabolism or health issue. That’s like a tiny, tiny percentage of people.
Looking at Your Nutrition Through an Unbiased Lens
It’s usually people that just don’t know something is happening. So when you pan out and you look at it in an unbiased manner through a clear lens, you can start to see what these little accidents are. And we typically know what they are. For most people, it’s the snacks. It’s mindless eating. It’s the weekend eating. It’s the alcohol. It’s not tracking or acknowledging healthier foods because they’re healthier. But we know that that doesn’t supersede caloric content just because it’s labeled by someone as a healthier food.
So we just have to look at what is actually happening. And when we identify that without this biased viewpoint, we can start thinking about, what are these blockades we can put up? So it doesn’t happen anymore. And it’s typically a lot easier than people think, which I think is really awesome and eye opening.
James Cerbie: So for me, I’m a pretty hyper analytical person. My wife gives me crap about this all the time. Actually, she’s like, how do you leave so much emotion off the table in certain decision making situations? And that’s just my training and my background. It’s actually something I’m working on. I’m trying to bring more emotion and things to the table, but for what I do, it tends to be really, actually a good thing. It’s a good skill, right? That Jackal and hide nature. One of the things I tend to try to recommend people to do is in an attempt to make this process as objective as possible to leave your emotions and the lens that you’re going to put on things.
The Importance of Tracking
Just get it on paper, right? Track it, write it down, write down the actual measurable things that are taking place, and then you can just look at it and say, oh, these are the numbers. This is what’s staring at me in the face. It’s no different than in business, right? In business, I can sit here and say, oh, man, sales are great. We’re converting like crazy. And then you do the math and you’re like, oh, we’re converting like, 0.5%. That’s not very good. That’s exactly right.
Mike Doehla: Everywhere in life, we look at data. And there’s a saying that I saw on a guy’s laptop when I was on a plane. It said, I don’t know where it came from, but it said, without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.
James Cerbie: And I was like.
Mike Doehla: Oh, my God, I’m stealing that. I’m going to tell that to everybody. And for, like, four years, I’ve been saying it all over the place, and it’s the same thing. We look at data everywhere. But when it comes to food and how much you’re eating or how we’re eating, we want to run from it. And why is that? Is it that people don’t want to know? Info aversion,right? If we don’t track it and we don’t know what we weigh, then it’s not real. But it is real, because like we said, if the body and the results are going to tell the story of what’s actually happening.
James Cerbie: It’s one of those ignorance is bliss moments, right? Because change is hard. It’s really hard. And if you’re going to be forced to actually look at the data, this is what the data says and come to terms with that. I think it’s what happens next that really scares people. The concept of having to then make changes based on the data you’re looking at, because that’s what’s hard. We’re comfortable in our way. We have our routines, we have our habits, we have our patterns. And the thought of having to change all of this is scary.It’s really imposing.
Mike Doehla: Yeah. It’s intimidating for people because people could have been that person for 1020, 30, 40 years. So they think that to get to the next step, they have to be a completely different person. And that’s what I always want to tell people. You don’t have to be a completely different person. But you do have to identify the behaviors of that person you don’t want to be anymore and how to change those things. And it does take the data and the internal dialogue that says, Well, okay, how do I do this?
Because for a lot of people, it literally could just be 300 to 500 expendable calories a day. So this first step is where those calories are coming from and what isn’t worth having anymore. Or how can you replace them? How can you spend your caloric money a little wiser? It’s not that difficult once you find it. But I’m finding that our industry is still arguing things that are seven layers past what we need to do. We still need to get people to buy in on how fat loss works, because the loudest people in the room, you know, who I’m probably talking about are telling everyone it’s still carbs and insulin and you have to fast and do all this.
Mike Doehla: It sounds awesome because it gives people a reason why they are where they are. Well, I haven’t done that. No, it’s not that you haven’t done that. It’s that you’ve been consuming too much and haven’t acknowledged it yet.
James Cerbie: Yeah, this ties into I’m a really big fan of Nassim Taleb’s writings, antifragile, and his whole. I don’t remember the name of the three book series, but it’s really good. And he talks about a concept there called Via Negativa or Via Negativa, and it’s the power of subtraction. And he just basically spends a good chunk of the book talking about how we spend a lot of time with humans, always trying to focus on what we need to add? He’s like, when in reality, the biggest ROI opportunity is usually taking something away.
Mike Doehla: Right?
James Cerbie: He’s like, we have this very intervention bias mindset, whereas we’re probably better off if we try to figure out what we can just remove from the equation as opposed to trying to add in a whole bunch of stuff on top of it? And that is the case, right? As humans, we tend to figure out what extra things do I need to be doing as opposed to what small things can I just remove?
Mike Doehla: I love that, because it is so damn true. It’s like we look at, like, what am I not doing? What do I have to plug in? It’s like, wait, pan back out. What is the thing that you might be doing wrong? And I talk about this, like, my father in law, Bob, it’s hilarious. He’s like, I don’t even eat. I’m like, no, Bob, you consider eating when you sit down. I said, I see you standing up and eating for some reason. It’s not registered. Great. I use him as an example.
The Downfall of Snacking When Fat Loss is the Goal
I’m like, Bob likes to just stand up and eat. And then he says he didn’t eat because eat for some people equals a meal. And a meal equals sitting down with a plate quietly, maybe with your family. And that’s not the case. Like, the way we eat now. I think there’s research now that’s showing, like, 50% of Americans’ calories are coming from snacks. Most people aren’t sitting down at a kitchen table with a plate of Doritos people eat out of these packages and their brain just subconsciously doesn’t register it as a meal.
That’s why when you track it, you’re like, oh, man, I have to come to terms with this.
James Cerbie: Yeah, it’s funny you mentioned, I think a couple of thoughts here. You mentioned the very loud voices on the Internet, which we are all aware of. Part of the reason I despise the Internet. If I could, I would delete my social media tomorrow. But like you said, it’s that balance, and that’s where I can reach and maybe help people. But it’s just basic physics, right? It’s just conservation of mass. If you eat this thing, it doesn’t just disappear, like it’s there. And it’s the most rudimentary basic Physics 101 that everybody probably learned as a freshman in high school.
But for some reason it just doesn’t register, and I don’t understand it. It blows my mind.
Mike Doehla: It is kind of weird. And I use an example often. I say, starving mammals lose weight, right? Like when in nature, have you seen a mammal under eat and stay the same weight you haven’t. And humans are the same thing. If we’re not overeating, why are we still holding this mass? It is that simple, but it’s hard to get through to people because people again, they don’t know what’s happening. So the story they’re telling themselves is actually true to them. And that’s a hard thing is how do you show people who are certain nothing is going wrong, that something could possibly be going wrong.
James Cerbie: Especially when they don’t want to hear it.
Mike Doehla: Yeah, right. It’s hard. And like, I’m a big customer service guy, right? Stronger you is like world class customer service. So every time I want to say how this stuff goes, I’m like, oh, man, am I going to offend or upset or disrupt our customer service numbers? Because I need to tell someone the truth and it’s all in the delivery, right? Like, I used to overlook this stuff. So if you’re a coach and you’re having trouble communicating to someone that they might not be doing what they think, knock the pins over and talk about the things that people usually overlook.
And most of us, at some point in our lives, we probably didn’t always track or know what we ate. We used to overlook this stuff, like I dabbled in the paleo diet. I used to Fry chicken and coconut oil and thought it was healthy. What I would tell someone I ate healthy. And if I didn’t lose fat, someone like us now could be like, Dude, do you know how many calories you’re taking in? My God, it’s tons, right? It was like a block of coconut oil, and it cost me, like, $12 every meal. It’s insane.
James Cerbie: The other thought I had here, circling back to where we’re talking about these more simple things. We’ll put air quotes. They are simple in conversation on a whiteboard. They are not simple in action. But one of the things we talked about off air was I spent two and a half years working towards the PhD in integrated physiology, very down in the weeds, studied aging, health and longevity. And one of the reasons I decided to walk away is that it’s not that we don’t know what works. If you actually dig into the literature and you speak to people whose job and profession is to study this stuff, they’re all going to tell you the same thing.
If you eat good food and you exercise and you sleep and you’re not a stress ball all the time, you have some family, friends and community, you’re going to crush it right outside of some weird genetic abnormality getting run over by a bus or mauled by a lion. You’re going to do amazing. So even in research right now, the question isn’t what works because we know what works. The question is, what drugs and interventions can we create so people don’t have to do these things? I just don’t believe in that as a methodology.
I don’t think that we understand human physiology and metabolism to the degree to where we’re able to have interventions like that without there being some type of ramification, we just don’t, right. You can think of the library analogy. If human physiology is a massive library and there’s this one library you could walk into, and it contains everything that there was to know about human physiology. So that would include physics, chemistry. You’re pretty much on this. And at that point, how many books do we actually currently have from that library?
Is it 5%? Is it 15%? I don’t know how many it is, but I know it’s not 100. And I know we’re nowhere near close to 100%. So it’s like we have these things that we know work and have worked for thousands of years, because that’s how nature has created us. And then there’s the humans who say, well, we’re going to create these things in a lab to try to subvert what nature has created. And these always come with complications because we don’t know how the interactions are going to play out. At the second, 3rd, 4th, 5th level.
Mike Doehla: You nailed it. The big thing is like, what are the big rocks? It’s like how much someone eats, what the food is, what is their fitness? What is their sleep stress hydration community? These are the problems that people face. That, like what has to happen for someone to lose fat is they need to eat a different way. Right. But what supports them eating a different way, their lifestyle. So, again, we can spend 20 more years trying to study the perfect methodology or internal mechanism that does X, Y and Z.
But why waste that time? Why don’t we develop systems for humans to follow the things that we know work like who in nutrition coaching is having or helping people have conversations with their partners? Because that’s an effect on the food they eat. These are the things coaches need to be doing these days, not just talking the nerd stuff, right? You got to talk about the human stuff. And I think that’s a big missing piece in the industry. And why when we started strong review, I’m like, we got to touch on that thing because it’s not people not knowing what to do.
Obviously, there’s a lot of people that don’t. But even when people know exactly what to do, they still don’t do it. So there’s a problem. How do we fix that?
James Cerbie: Yes, the problem is not information. I think that if I were to go pull 100 random people off the street and pull them on, hey, how do you think you should be eating? I wouldn’t bet most of what I own that the vast majority of those people are going to get me in the ballpark, right? They’re not going to crush it and be 100% correct. But I guarantee they’re going to be in the ballpark. Well, I should probably drink less soda and eat more chips and have less fast food and Cook more of my own food and probably just eat a little less food.
In general, it’s not an information based problem. It’s a human behavioral, action based problem, and that problem exists whether or not you’re trying to lose weight or whether or not you’re trying to gain weight.
Mike Doehla: And there’s a time where you meet someone who wants two different things. They want to be fit and healthy, but they also want to do all those other things that cause them to not be fit and healthy. So how do you level with those people? Do you tell them you want to jump in the pool but you want to stay dry? You can’t. There’s no wetsuit in this world. Like, what are you going to do? Where’s that balance? And I think a big part of the scare for these people is they think it’s going to be harder than it is, right?
Looking at Nutrition on a Spectrum
They think going back a few minutes, they think that they have to change their entire life, and that’s not it. When we look at this stuff on the spectrum, on one end, you have the person that just wants to crush chicken breast and lift weights all day. On the other end, you have someone that just wants to eat chips and sit on a couch. No one has to be on either of those spectrums. You can be somewhere in the middle, and that is the balance that everyone has personally, and they can only be the ones that figure out where that is.
Coaches can guide, but people have to accept, like, where do I want to be on this spectrum? Because the balance of where you should be in terms of weight, maybe it’s a balance of what’s healthy, what’s realistic and what you’re satisfied with based on your entire lifestyle.
James Cerbie: One question I do have here is how you guys like to approach this as StrongerU is. We’ve mentioned how important when we’re talking about making these nutrition based habit changes, changing the way people eat, helping people be better eaters, their significant others, their partners, their loved ones and their friend group are all going to have an enormous impact on that environment in which these people are trying to eat. That can be really hard to navigate, like having that conversation with a significant other or being surrounded by six of your best friends who don’t really care about this anymore.
And they just want to pound beer and eat chips and nachos and do all this stuff. That’s where this gets really hard, right? How do you even begin to broach that conversation with somebody like, well, I don’t want you to leave your friend group because that would be worse than that. A terrible alternative. But how can you begin having conversation with your friends to get them on board to support you?
Including Close Relationships on Your Nutrition Journey
Mike Doehla: And the changes that you want to make a big part of this is asking for it. I think a lot of people, I don’t know. They show up to dinners and then everyone’s ordering stuff, and they almost resent their friends because the friend might not care about their particular diet. So it’s like you just have to talk to them about it. And when a friend or a partner is encouraging you to do the opposite of what you want to do to become healthier, you can’t take that personally because it’s not them judging your decision.
It’s them hoping that life doesn’t change for the whole group or the whole party. And that’s the hardest thing for people is having difficult conversations. Like, think about that, right? Like a husband and wife go out to eat every Friday, and they always got Mexican food. And there’s queso and chips and burritos and margaritas. When you say to the husband, hey, do you think we can go somewhere different so I can get a healthier meal? And he looks at it as if you’re taking something from me.
You have to like, there’s that balance, right? It’s maybe not just ripping it all away at once. Maybe it’s creating these similar foods at home in a healthier way. So I think it all starts with the conversation. And that is often the missing piece, because a lot of people, they don’t think it’s other people’s problem. But when you’re on a just call it a diet, a lot of people around you are kind of on that diet as well, but it’s just a conversation. It’s like, hey, this is important to me.
You know, I love you. I want this to work for both of us. Can you help me in this journey? And a lot of times people are pleasantly surprised. And other times without sounding like a marriage counselor, you could realize you’re with the wrong person if they are completely in disagreement with what you want to do for yourself, you have to have an even more difficult conversation about that.
Finding Your Tribe That Drives Success
James Cerbie: Yeah, that’s where you maybe have to start realizing have you surrounded yourself with the right types of people? Because I think when you are surrounded by the right people, you almost don’t even have to. You don’t really need to even ask for it, right? You just tell people, hey, this is what I want to do, and they immediately jump in to support you. Hey, this is fantastic. It’s awesome. What can we do to help? How can I help you accountable? The best friends I’ve ever had. And then the best friend networks I’ve seen that’s the mentality that’s the attitude.
Regardless, they will proactively call you out if you’re not doing the thing that you committed to them that you’re going to do, right?
Mike Doehla: Yeah.
James Cerbie: And another piece in this, too, is I think what can get hard sometimes is that your significant other or your friends feel resistance because they feel like they’re going to be getting left behind, right. It’s like you’re doing the thing that they’re afraid to do. You’re making progress, you’re moving forward. And so they’re just going to desperately try to hold you and pull you back down to wherever their level is, don’t you? How dare you go and make yourself better?
Mike Doehla: You just stay down here with me and we see that, right? I mean, you see it when I don’t know, a celebrity who may be a little heavier loses some weight, and then they get like, this Twitter backlash because they left the club. They’re no longer representative of that group, and they get weird and resentful. And there’s part of this thing. It’s like the crabs in the bucket, like, you’re not climbing out. I’m going to pull you right back in. That’s, like, the most messed up thing you can do.
Why is that saying so true? Where everyone wants to see you do well, but never better than them. We all need to just be a little bit more supportive, someone that wants to be healthier when you don’t is okay. They’re not judging you. They just want to help themselves, and they’re going to need your help as a friend or a family member. And you can’t ignore that.
James Cerbie: I think that’s where that community component of this coaching becomes so important. I know that something you guys really prioritize as stronger to you is getting that community strong, because that way, at least members have that to fall back on. They have that to lean on. They have that support group there to help them. I feel like that is such another big component that people miss out on is having a group of people on a similar journey to you. And you have an environment where a rising tide is going to help raise all ships.
Mike Doehla: I love it. That’s like, my big business advice, right? Like, have a community so your people can hang and chill and learn from each other because you don’t know what’s out in the real world for them, they might not have that support. Maybe they only have one or two people in their entire network that supports what they want to do. But at stronger you, there’s tens of thousands of people that can say, hey, I’ve been there. I’ve done that. You got this. Here’s what you need to do.
And it is people like Rag on social media, and I’ve been guilty of it myself. But there are real connections on social media. Some of the most important people in my life. I met on a news feed like, that’s crazy. But that’s real. That’s the world we’re in. And people shouldn’t ignore that, because most dieting journeys or fitness journeys are extremely lonely. And that’s one of the missing pieces. When I think of all these diets that don’t work, part of it is because there is no community.
They’re lonely. Yeah, that bucket. Barnes and Noble might work if you do it. But when you shut the pages and you don’t follow the advice, there’s no one there to help you. And that’s why they’re never like when people are like, Are you afraid this app is going to replace you or this book? And I’m like, no, because these books don’t provide what human coaching does. That’s what people need in that community for sure.
James Cerbie: Mike, I love it. This has been a fantastic conversation. Let’s wrap this up with just two more little bits. I think the first one that would be good is for someone that’s listened to this. What is the one really big thing you want them to walk away from to go actually take into the world with them. If they listen to this episode, what should their one big takeaway be?
The Big Takeaway to Put These Tactics and Strategies to Work
Mike Doehla: I would just say, honestly, track food for a few weeks. As annoying as it may sound, when you download an app like MyFitnessPal Cronometer, Lose It, whatever. And you start planning your day ahead of time, keeping the food simple, which when I say simple, I mean, not these crazy recipes and casseroles and chilies and stuff like that. You could honestly see what’s always been happening. And when you learn what is happening, you can identify the things to change. So as annoying as it sounds, as frustrating as me telling people to just go track your food and track it accurately, even weekends for a little while, you’re going to see what has been going wrong and you’re going to know what to do.
So I know a lot of people think they’re tracking, but I would challenge them, and this is going to sound a little extreme. But if you’re not seeing results and you’re certain that you’re doing what you’re supposed to, how much of a bet would you place on that? Would you bet your life? Would you bet $1,000? Would you bet a million dollars? Would you bet your home? And when you give people those caveats, they say, oh, you know what? I probably haven’t done what I think I’ve been saying I’m doing.
So always address that; always look internal. And that’s how you get results. That’s how you change when you acknowledge something needs to be changed.
James Cerbie: I love that, man. And then for people listening that want to find out more about you or stronger, you Where’s the best place for them to go to make that happen?
Where to Find Mike Doehla
Mike Doehla: Yeah, my personal social is @mikedoehla, and I’m sure you’ll have it spelled so that’s cool. I wish there were less letters in the name because there’s a lot of waste in there and then StrongerU @StrongerU or strongeru.com.
James Cerbie: Beautiful. Perfect.
Mike, thank you so much for coming on, and this is fantastic. I really enjoyed it. Everybody listening, hope that you guys got a lot out of this as well. Be sure to go throw Mike a follow. Check out StrongerU.
We’ve done a lot of cross work with them in the past, having clients carry over and they do such an awesome job in this nutrition realm. Guys are always the first recommendation for us when we have people like, hey, we need a little bit more in this nutrition coaching than what we currently have.
Mike Doehla: I appreciate that. Thank you for having me, James. This has been awesome.
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