Marathons, can be everything from 25 miles to 200 miles potentially. What I love so much about them is the, fitness mindset, you have to develop to complete them. Everyone on a, weight loss, journey has the same issues, it’s like – Oh, I want the ice cream in the fridge, the voice in your head is telling you to eat that ice cream, you have to learn to override that voice and don’t eat the ice cream. It’s the exact same voice that tells you that you can’t do this, weight loss, thing.
I’m talking to Brian Keane. He’s a personal trainer, nutritionist, best-selling author and ultra athlete. Today, we’re going to be talking on the topic; “Rewiring Your Mindset for Fitness.” In order for you to keep going even when your body tells you to stop, you’ve got to have a, fitness mindset.
Listen to the full interview
BRIAN KEANE: Over the past seven years, Brian has gone from working full time as a schoolteacher to one of Ireland and the UK’s leading thought leaders on all things health, fitness and nutrition. Brian is the author of two best sellers “The Fitness Mindset” and “Rewire Your Mindset.”
On top of his ever-growing social media platforms, with over half a million followers, he also hosts one of the world’s top health podcasts which is #1 on the iTunes Health Charts. He has spoken at major wellness events around the world such as Wellfest Ireland, Mefit Dubai and was a Keynote speaker at Google HQ in Dublin for their 2018 wellness event.
Among his many fitness and athletic achievements, Brian has transitioned from a professional fitness expert to an, ultra-endurance athlete, running, through the Sahara, the Arctic, and completing a 100-mile ultra-marathon.
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How Brian’s journey to a Fitness Mindset Started
Myrna: Can you share your journey from school teacher to an, ultra endurance athlete?
Brian: I started to work as a, personal trainer, for two years. I worked as elementary school teacher during the day and worked as a, personal trainer, at a gym at nighttime. Basically, I tried to get that business up and, running, and eventually, I got to the point where every time I got paid from a, personal training, client. I was like, I can’t believe I’m getting paid for this!
Myrna: We’re going to talk about a, fitness mindset but, how did you get to the, entrepreneur mindset?
Brian: I found the success clues. It didn’t really matter whether it was leaving a teaching job to overcome that fear or somebody that’s trying to lose 100 pounds of weight. We all have these stories that hold us back. We all have these fears and insecurities. When I was starting to develop that, fitness mindset, it became my whole philosophy. When it comes to, fitness, you need to have a little education on how to get in shape and it looks different for everybody.
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Nutrition and the fitness mindset
My nutritional philosophy is doing what you can stick to. What’s your goal? What foods do you enjoy and how do you find a diet that you can stick to over the long term?’ It doesn’t need to feel like a diet. That’s my whole nutritional philosophy to have a, fitness mindset. It’s the same for weightlifting.
Not everyone does, ultra marathons. Most of the people I work with do a daily step count, they hate exercise. So we go cool, you’ve got 10,000 steps today, that’s a start. I want you to do some exercise every day, so 10,000 steps that’s okay.
It’s just about what can you do in the long term or what can you stick to? I think that the, fitness mindset, is all about – here’s the basic education on how to lose weight or how to build muscle or how to get a bit stronger and here’s the, mindset, to keep it because that’s the really important thing. You talk about, mindset, on your podcast all the time; the, mindset, is what allows you to keep it and developing is what’s going to reap the most dividends over time.
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Staying the course: weight loss tips
Myrna: It’s sustainable change when you change your, mindset. It’s actually sustainable. If you change your diet or you change something external, it’s not your, mindset, then it’s easy for you to revert back to your old habits.
What are the biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to their diet? Can you share some, weight loss tips?
What are some, weight loss tips, if you want to lose 20 pounds?
Weight loss vs fat loss
Brian: I’ll surely give you some, weight loss tips, because when it comes to understanding, weight loss, or, fat loss, first thing is not confusing those two things because they’re two different things.
Weight loss, is lowering the numbers on a scale. Fat loss is reducing the amount of fat in your body.
A lot of people use those terms interchangeably, but they’re actually two different things. It is very easy to manipulate, weight loss, a lot of them fad diets – bad diets, juice diets etc. They manipulate, weight loss, because they massively restrict calories, reduce carbohydrate and as a result you will weigh less when you step on a scale, but doesn’t mean your fat levels have come down.
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Weight loss from Fat reduction
Whereas, fat reduction, on the other hand, is that you’ve got what’s called a calorie deficit that your body has to take some of that stored fat and burn it for fuel. When it comes to, weight loss, there’s only one thing you really need to understand – it’s how calories basically work. If you consume too many calories, more energy is added to your body. Your body takes that extra energy and stores it as fat, the same thing works in reversing a calorie deficit.
If you consume fewer calories, your body doesn’t have enough from food. It has to go into storage body fat and use that for food. So, when people know that it’s really about finding what dietary system works for and what you like to do:
- People will do a, keto diet,
- Some will go, plant-based diet,
- Others will go for clean eating,
- Some people will count their calories,
- and a few people will find other plans that works for them.
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Jumping In: Planning Your weight loss
I’m all about the basic science of, nutrition, when it comes to calories and then finding a nutritional plan that you can stick to over the long term. When it comes to, weight loss tips, it’s about sustainability and finding what you can do over the long term. If you want to go a bit stricter with this, you don’t have to count every calorie, you don’t have to do any of these things, you just have to make a little more of a conscious food choice.
What am trying to say here is understand that, weight loss, and, fat loss, are two different things, just figure out what you’re tracking. However, I recommend that anyone who’s obese or overweight should track, weight loss, because it’s easier. You don’t have to track fat, you’re better to just step on a scale and see, but if you’re somebody that just wants to feel a bit better and drop a dress size or two or just have your clothes getting a bit looser, you need to track body fat.
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Building mental toughness and a fitness mindset
Myrna: One of the things that you have done is not only you’ve gone from school teacher to, personal trainer, but you’ve developed, mental toughness, because you’re now an, ultra endurance athlete. How does somebody build mental toughness, and a, fitness mindset, to achieve some of their, weight loss, or, fat loss, goals?
Brian: When it comes to, mental toughness, I think breaking down the misconceptions around it is probably the most important thing before you go into the tips. One of the, mental toughness, issues I had was realizing some people were born mentally tougher and some people were just mentally tougher as opposed to realizing that it’s something that you develop over time.
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Mental toughness and fitness
It’s like a muscle-like, what I call your, mental toughness, muscle, the more you exercise it, the more you develop it, the stronger it gets. When it comes to, mental toughness, they’re kind of two sides of the same coin with self discipline (i.e. when you exercise that muscle and get stronger) over time. When it comes to developing, mental toughness, what I normally ask people is “Can you anchor your day in two or three things that will support you moving forward?”
Successful people do what they have to do regardless of how they feel or think.
You can develop that, mindset, anybody can develop that, mindset, over time. It’s one of my brain tattoos. Another way to put that is you’re not always motivated for fitness, right? But do it unmotivated until you feel motivated. What I mean is you do it until when becomes natural.
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Running for fitness
I don’t really enjoy, running, that much, but I run a little every day just to keep that, mental toughness, muscle ticking. I’m sitting here thinking of the, mental toughness, of running a marathon over 100 miles, and maybe after 25th miles you’re broken down. You can’t seem to go anymore, but you put in a one foot in front of the next and your foot feels like rubber yet you keep going.
Myrna: I don’t know if you have read the book “Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins or the book “Finding Ultra.” Finding Ultra was about a 40 year old guy who was having problems walking up the stairs and then he transitioned to become a plant-based, ultra endurance athlete. It was so fantastic reading about his journey to becoming an, iron man, and, ultra endurance athlete. Of course, David Goggins talked about the, fitness mindset, in his book “Can’t hurt me” he kept going on his marathon runs sometimes, running, on broken legs – developing the, mental toughness, to keep going at all costs.
This is the exciting part of this interview, you don’t like, running, yet you run 100 miles ultra-marathons. Tell us about that.
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Marathons are the metaphors for life
Brian: Marathons, can be everything from 25 miles to 200 miles potentially. What I love so much about them is the, fitness mindset, you have to develop to complete them. When you’re running an earth, marathon, like it’s the biggest metaphor for life of all time.
Even a normal, marathon, is difficult for the average person. You get tired; you don’t want to continue. The pain is unbearable, the voice in your head is telling you to stop, but you just have to learn to override that voice and put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward.
Everyone on a, weight loss, journey has the same issues, it’s like – Oh, I want the ice cream in the fridge, the voice in your head is telling you to eat that ice cream, you have to learn to override that voice and don’t eat the ice cream. It’s the exact same voice that tells you that you can’t do this, weight loss, thing.
When you let the negative voice in your head win
You have to learn to master and control that voice in your head and you get better at that over time as you consistently move forward on whatever journey you’re doing. For me, it was so. What happened to me (probably the best story), I can give here was in 2019. I ran through the arctic circle in a, marathon, of about 230 kilometers. The tip is north of Sweden, it was minus 40 degrees the coldest I’ve ever experienced.
There was one point where (I have a photo up on my Instagram), where my eyelids froze over because obviously you’ve got water in your eyelids and it was so cold. My eyelids froze that I couldn’t blink properly and it kind of gives you an idea on the conditions. But, 86 kilometers from the end of that race, my Achilles tore so that the tendon at the top of your ankle just above your ankle and now the likes of David Goggins, and hearing these people helped me massively, because they’ve been through these conditions.
We talked about the race where he was pooping himself and had to strap up his foot with stress fractures. I would read a lot of those books, listen to a lot of those podcasts in the lead up to these events. When my Achilles tore 86 kilometers from the end in the arctic, it was a case of well – “I’m not coming back to finish this and do this again”. I’ll be like if I don’t do it now, I’m not coming back and for me, I had a little of self-awareness, that I think everyone needs to bring to their own mindset. For me, I’m not able to give myself a, plan B.
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Never Have a Plan B when developing a fitness mindset
I can’t give myself an out because from experience to somebody that’s quit races and backed out of things and pulled out of things, if I give myself an out, I generally take it when times get tough. When I went to the arctic, I had no, plan B, my goal was I either finish this or get to the Arctic Circle line which is 230 kilometers from where I started or I get shipped out on a helicopter. I was like, it sound crazy now, but I had to make that commitment to myself before I go now.
Not everybody has to do that, but having some version of no, plan B (like somebody else’s no, plan B), is you don’t buy your favorite foods while you’re starting on a, weight loss, journey until you get to a certain point where you can reintroduce them. it’s all relative in terms of how somebody would apply that into their own life. For me, developing that, fitness mindset, was just putting one step in front of the other and keep moving forward.
Anyone can develop that, fitness mindset, over time, that no, plan B, mindset. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, whatever that is, you’ve lost 100 pounds and you’re trying to lose 150, but you’ve gone up 10 pounds. What do you need to do now that’s going to help you get back on track? It might be taking a break, and it might be going forward. It’s relatively based on the goal and you use that. You develop that going forward and you use the failures feedback. It’s never just a success.
The Fitness Mindset: Book
Myrna: Tell us about your books “The Fitness Mindset” and “Rewire Your Mindset”
Brian: Rewire Your Mindset, is an extension of the, Fitness Mindset. The Fitness Mindset, is the book that I could give to people that would help them with their, fitness, journey. This is how you get in shape and how you stay in shape. It’s a short book for people who don’t really read books.
Rewire your Mindset, on the other hand was the book that I didn’t feel like I could go to the grave inside me. That was the book I needed to put out on paper. If something ever happened to me, I wanted my daughter to be able to read it. I wanted to get this book out of me, it was my legacy book. They were written in two completely different frames of mind.
The, fitness mindset, gets them up and running with their, fitness; rewire your mindset, cements it. They’re like – Oh! my God I am in the right place now, I’m a believer.
Rewire Your Mindset, it’s very much all the misconceptions and beliefs that you have so you can take ownership back in the decisions you make. I split it up into, health, wealth and, fulfillment. Like the four quadrants, these are the areas of your life that need the most work. Rewiring your mindset, so that you can get out of your own way effectively”. I love the quote, it’s normally attributed to the Buddha, but I don’t know who it’s from.
Your biggest enemy live between your two ears. Buddha
The whole book is about rewiring the way you see things so that the enemies in between your two ears can go after the body. You can go after the dream job you want, you can go after the family relationship you want, you can go after the things that make you feel fulfilled. In my case, it’s ultra endurance events and spending time with my loved ones and my family. Other things that make me feel fulfilled and light me up inside is conversations like this one!
Myrna: As we wrap up Brian, it’s been an incredible conversation with you. I love your energy and physique. Congratulations on your podcast. What’s the name of your podcast?
Brian: Brian Keane podcast.