Is it to have more energy, to do better at work, to have a more active love life or find a partner, or to feel better about yourself when you look in the mirror? Wanting to lose weight to be healthier is simply not a compelling enough reason to stay the course. I’ve done this too long and have seen time and time again that the people who have a specific goal and a crystal clear ‘why’ are the ones who will keep going when it gets hard. You must get to the real why and possibly admit something to yourself you have kept repressed regarding your weight. There is no shame in just simply wanting to feel and look better naked. In my experience, that reason far outweighs people’s desire to lower their risk for heart disease.
So many of us have tried dieting. All too often though, many of us lose 10–20 pounds, but we end up gaining it back. Not only is yo-yo dieting unhealthy, it is also demoralizing and makes us feel like giving up. What exactly do we have to do to achieve a healthy body weight and to stick with it forever?
In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Do To Achieve A Healthy Body Weight And Keep It Permanently” we are interviewing health and wellness professionals who can share lessons from their research and experience about how to do this.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Roger Martin.
Roger is a former pharmaceutical industry executive who left corporate America to co-found RockBox Fitness, a national franchise of kickboxing fitness studios. His passion for fitness, music, and wellness have been brought together in this fitness concept that serves people looking to lose weight, get in shape, and have fun doing it. His most important company value is fun, and he feels that keeping your approach to weight management and fitness fun and engaging is the key to long-term success.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up in the Northwest in Spokane, Washington. It was a wholesome place that had a true four-season climate. I was fortunate to able to learn to snow ski on the mountains in Washington and Idaho, and then waterski on the lakes in the summer. I played basketball, baseball, and ran track and field. I would say I was downright mediocre at all those things! What I did have a natural talent for was music, so I applied that talent to playing guitar and played in bands throughout high school. I also had a passion for martial arts. Not that I ever took lessons, but I was a super fan of Bruce Lee. My bedroom wall had posters of Bruce Lee and various Rockstar instead of Michael Jordan or other athletes like a lot of my friends had on their walls.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
Like most young people, I vacillated between career goals. One year I would want to be a doctor, the next a lawyer, then later a business magnate. All the while I really dreamed of being a Rockstar playing guitar in front of stadiums full of fans. I ended up going to business school and then into business and growing a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry. But those endless hours watching Bruce Lee movies and playing live music came full circle in my current business venture.
While I was having great success in the pharma space, I really wanted to pursue something in the health and fitness market. Pharmaceuticals are about treating a disease but not necessarily curing it. Health and fitness is about CURING the disease and permanently bettering your life. That resonated with me more than pills and medicines.
It wasn’t until my mid-40s that I made the pivot and followed my real passion and co-founded RockBox Fitness. We figured out how to combine a love for boxing and kickboxing along with that amazing feeling you get when you attend a live rock concert. Lights flashing, loud music, a charismatic lead singer (in our case, a lead instructor with a headset mic), and an incredibly fun, empowering communal experience that leaves you feeling energized. So, to answer your original question, even though I have spent my career in business, Bruce Lee and Eddie Van Halen were my two biggest career inspirations. Crazy but true.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
I would be remiss if I didn’t say my dad. Whether it be my pharmaceutical career or this crazy journey of franchising RockBox Fitness, he has always encouraged me to pursue my dreams. Sometimes he wouldn’t totally understand it (like when I almost dropped out of business school to move to Hollywood to try and make it as a musician), but he would always encourage me.
As a parent of a 20-year-old daughter and a 17-year-old son, I work hard to do the same. Everyone deserves a champion in their corner and somebody who believes in the dream even when most people think you’re crazy. To anybody reading this article, I would suggest purging the naysayers out of your life. And if you can’t purge them (sometimes its family) at least limit your exposure to their negativity. I’m living proof that no matter where you are in life, you can pivot 180 degrees at any time and do something completely different. The only rules in life are self-imposed 99% of the time.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
I’m not sure this is funny or unique, but I feel the biggest mistake I made continually early in my career was always feeling my point of view was the right point of view. I am proud to have grown and matured into a very collaborative leader who works to empower his team, but in my 20’s and early 30’s that was not so much the case. But I can tell you when that changed.
I was adept at proving my point in group discussions and meetings by undressing other people’s ideas using data and statistics. Not only did my view have to be seen as the right one, but the opposing view had to be seen as factually incorrect. Thank goodness I had a wonderful boss and mentor who took me aside one day. In the calmest and most caring way she said, “You know Roger, you can prove your point without having to prove someone else wrong.” And after that comment she just walked away. I stood there and it hit me like a lightning rod. I, of course, now know that my behavior was rooted in insecurity and the need for affirmation early in my career, but I will never forget her comment and the way she said it. I’m sure other people had tried to tell me the same thing, but surely it was a case of the teacher appearing when the student is ready.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
“The best time to plant a tree is….20 years ago. The second-best time is today.”
If my kids have heard me say that once, they have heard it a thousand times. So many of us keep waiting for that perfect time. That perfect alignment of the stars to try something new, start a venture, or change our lives for the better. Why does every diet start on Monday?? Why not start right here right now. Push the cake away and start now. That new business venture will not be better in six months, in fact it could be harder because of competition. Massive action trumps everything. Done is better than perfect every day of the week.
Time has killed so many dreams and so many plans. Whatever it is you are thinking about doing, especially dieting, and getting in shape, start today! If you fail tonight by overeating, you start right back tomorrow morning, not next Monday. I just cannot stress this principle enough.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
Our national expansion of RockBox Fitness is exciting for so many reasons.
The number one reason people quit their fitness routine is boredom. We have addressed that with a 50-minute workout that feels like you just attended a Foo Fighters concert and burned about 1,000 calories. And you feel amazing when you leave because you have accomplished things you didn’t first think possible. We help people break their own beliefs and grow beyond their comfort zone, but all in a safe and supportive environment. It is one of those things you kind of have to experience for yourself, but I can confidently say it is truly different than anything else out there. And the fact that more and more people can participate and change their life when a RockBox opens in their city is beyond exciting to me.
For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field?
I am a certified personal trainer, along with a certified nutrition coach through NASM. Having co-founded RockBox Fitness, and opened 34 locations to date, I have trained and successfully coached thousands of people on their nutrition and fitness.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about achieving a healthy body weight. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. How do you define a “Healthy Body Weight”?
That answer is not as straightforward as some claim. BMI, or body mass index, has been an insurance standard and CDC reference for decades. BMI is a ratio between your weight and height. If you have a BMI over 25, you are considered overweight, and over 30 is obese. The issue with BMI is it doesn’t take into consideration muscle mass. If you have a lot of lean muscle, you could have a BMI above 25 or even 30. I have friends who are body builders, and they have to pay the highest life insurance premiums because their BMI registered them as obese.
A lot of fitness professionals, and I personally, feel that body fat percentage is a much more accurate way to ascertain if someone has a healthy body weight. Tools that measure body fat take into consideration not only height and weight, but also gender, age, lean body mass and water content. It is starting to become the new standard for objective measurement of overall health.
A healthy body fat percentage for a woman is less than 30%, and for men it is less than 25%. That is not ideal, but it is generally considered healthy. I prefer when my clients work toward achieving body fat percentages of 20–25% for women and 15–20% for men. That is fit and healthy, but not so lean you can’t enjoy life and have a nice meal and a glass of wine occasionally.
That’s a long answer, but the standard is changing for how we evaluate health and wellness.
How can an individual learn what is a healthy body weight for them? How can we discern what is “too overweight” or what is “too underweight”?
I would bring it back to body fat percentage. People have different bone structures and genetic make ups that make it challenging to put an exact number or even range on the weight scale. Once a person has their body fat analyzed, it will be easy for the fitness professional to calculate what a healthy weight would be for that individual. Then at that point, weighing yourself every morning has been proven to help you stay on track with your fitness and nutrition goals because you are measuring progress. ‘What gets measured gets attention’ is an adage in business, and the same goes for health.
This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to expressly articulate this. Can you please share a few reasons why being over your healthy body weight, or under your healthy body weight, can be harmful to your health?
I like this question because being truly underweight can be just as damaging to overall health as being overweight. 70% of our population is overweight or obese, but there is still a part of the population that is medically underweight and should seek to add lean muscle.
Being overweight negatively affects so many areas of your life and health. Your readers only have so much time in their day, so I will keep this brief, but I could write a book on this (actually, I am in the process of that now!). For starters, heart disease, the number one killer in the U.S., is directly related to excess body fat. Not correlated. Directly related. The same goes for having a stroke. These are serious complications of being overweight. Add to that, diabetes type II, arthritis, digestive problems, sleep apnea, sexual problems including infertility for women and impotence for men, and even certain cancers occur at a much higher rate in overweight people.
I believe, and there is strong research to support this, that the psychological impact is as harmful as the biological one. Overweight people suffer more from depression and anxiety, they can feel shame and self-loathing, and isolate themselves from social interactions. And this negative spiral feeds upon itself causing some people to emotionally eat more, thus gaining more weight, resulting in more shame. We don’t have to agree or support it, but the fact is our society discriminates against overweight and obese people. This is true in the workplace, school, social situations, and even family.
While underweight people are not discriminated against as much, or if at all, in our society, it doesn’t mean they can’t also have that same negative self-talk and frustration and shame. Of course, some underweight cases are caused by eating disorders and can be extremely harmful to someone’s health, and even lead to death.
Biologically, underweight individuals can suffer from nutritional deficiencies which can result in anemia, osteoporosis (even at a younger age), fertility problems, and a weakened immune system. Being underweight can be signs of other diseases as well and if someone has lost weight rapidly or cannot gain weight, they should seek medical help and get full blood work done to ensure there is no underlying disease.
In contrast, can you help articulate a few examples of how a person who achieves and maintains a healthy body weight will feel better and perform better in many areas of life?
So, all of those undesirable things I spoke of in the prior question, well, when you are at a healthy body weight, your risk factors for every single one of those diseases and afflictions are lower. Some are almost non-existent in people with a healthy weight.
Studies show that healthy weight individuals are happier, make more money in their career, have more active sex lives, and have a higher self-image than their overweight counterparts. On average, healthy people make 28% more money than unhealthy people. This could be related to having more energy, a better self-image, and not being impacted by the societal judgement about their abilities, which overweight people incur.
I want to ensure your readers know that the best reason to seek health and a weight appropriate for your body type is because you want to do it for yourself. By no means am I inferring that you should lose weight to please someone else, conform to societal norms, make more money, or have a richer sex life. The data just supports that these are the outcomes of being a healthy weight. It is almost like you get all these bonuses and benefits in addition to a sound, healthy body that leaves you with plenty of energy to do the things you love.
Ok, fantastic. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share your “5 Things You Need To Do To Achieve a Healthy Body Weight And Keep It Permanently?”. If you can, please share a story or an example for each.
Health, fitness, and wellness should be a lifestyle and journey, never an ‘event.’ My recommendations are built around permanently changing habits so the change sticks.
- Have an honest conversation with yourself and figure out why you want to achieve a healthy body weight. Is it to have more energy, to do better at work, to have a more active love life or find a partner, or to feel better about yourself when you look in the mirror? Wanting to lose weight to be healthier is simply not a compelling enough reason to stay the course. I’ve done this too long and have seen time and time again that the people who have a specific goal and a crystal clear ‘why’ are the ones who will keep going when it gets hard. You must get to the real why and possibly admit something to yourself you have kept repressed regarding your weight. There is no shame in just simply wanting to feel and look better naked. In my experience, that reason far outweighs people’s desire to lower their risk for heart disease.
- Once you have a definitive reason clearly outlined, determine the weight and/or body fat percentage you need to achieve to hit your goal and fulfill your why. Then turn it into a S.M.A.R.T. goal and write that goal down (i.e., I will weigh 160 pounds on February 1, 2022). Post that notecard on your bathroom mirror AND on your refrigerator. If other people see it, all the better. Publicly committing to a goal raises the chance for success.
- Invest in a health coach, boutique fitness membership, personal trainer and/or a nutritionist. People spend money on things that are important to them. If you are going to permanently change your weight and health, then you are really changing part of your identity. Healthy, fit people spend money on their health and fitness. They happily invest in the coaching and programs that support that lifestyle. I’ve met enough people carrying Louis Vuitton purses or driving 100,000 dollars cars who tell me they can’t afford a boutique gym membership or a health coach. They can, they just don’t value their health enough to invest in it. That is not criticism, it is fact. We vote with our dollars, and if you want to change your life, you need to change what you value. Fitness and health are no different. Godspeed to those people who can buy a big box gym membership and get themselves there four days a week and actually put in a hard session consistently without any push or help. That’s not most of us. The majority of us need that push and community with accountability to keep us consistent.
- Meal prep once or twice per week. Find recipes you enjoy and make those meals in batches of three and four meals at a time. Most of us consistently eat the same six or seven meals week in and week out. You don’t need crazy variety in your diet if your meals are a healthy mix of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Find the meals you like and meal prep them every Sunday evening. Rinse and repeat.
- Journal. This is the one that seems to be hard for a lot of people, especially your readers who are busy and live full lives, but there is huge power in journaling your experience. Capturing your wins, your losses, and certainly your gratitude daily on paper makes it real. Because of the sense of permanence in those written words, we are more likely to make better decisions the following day knowing we will be writing it down that following evening. Journaling your wins, losses, and gratitude is like an accountability contract with yourself. Again, it is part of changing your lifestyle and embracing a new identity of a person who makes promises to themselves and then keeps those promises.
The emphasis of this series is how to maintain an ideal weight for the long term, and how to avoid yo-yo dieting. Specifically, how does a person who loses weight maintain that permanently and sustainably?
You need three things to make your weight loss permanent. Fitness, nutrition, and accountability are the three pillars that work synergistically together to make the change stick. At RockBox Fitness, we built an entire 6-week and 12-week body transformation program around these three pillars.
You need a fitness routine that you enjoy and raises your heart rate to at least 70% of your maximum rate (that goes down as you age) for 20 minutes or longer. You need to enjoy the workout that you do because you need to engage in exercise at least three times per week. There are 168 hours each week. We all need to dedicate at least 1.5 of those hours (1%) to our fitness. The key is it must be fun for you. If not, you’ll fall off and halt your progress.
The second pillar is nutrition. This can be as simple as a portion-controlled meal plan that contains all the macronutrients (protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats) you need to power you through your day. Planning makes all the difference in nutrition adherence. If you can find 90 minutes on a Sunday evening to meal prep at least 50% of your meals for the week, you have set yourself up to succeed. That way when you get hungry after a hard day at work, you have a healthy, pre-made whole food meal. Always better than standing in front of the pantry eating a bag of chips while figuring out what you want to make for dinner.
I would argue the most important pillar is accountability. This could be a health coach, a workout buddy, an accountability partner, or a structured program like we have at RockBox where you must check in and measure your progress with your coach on a weekly basis. We all know that when we have specific goals, write them down, publicly commit to them, and seek a coach or accountability partner the success rate goes up exponentially. There is no reason to go this alone. There are amazing programs available that will breed accountability into your program. Group fitness brings that community aspect that takes accountability to an even greater level, without the judgement.
What are a few of the most common mistakes you have seen people make when they try to lose weight? What errors cause people to just snap back to their old unhealthy selves? What can they do to avoid those mistakes?
This goes right back to accountability. If there is not a built-in accountability measure, be it a workout buddy, an accountability partner, a health coach or similar, it is all too easy to fall back into unhealthy patterns.
How do we take all this information and integrate it into our actual lives? The truth is that we all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
I have found that people have been bombarded with so much information and fad diets that most do not really know what to do regarding nutrition. Seeking out the guidance of a certified nutrition coach or dietician is money well spent. They can make things amazingly simple to follow and provide the resources needed to keep it between the lanes. I also cannot stress enough how important meal prepping is to long-term success. Very few people have the willpower to make something healthy when they are exhausted after a long day, but if it is pre-made and just needs to be heated up for two minutes, chances are they will make the right choice.
On the flip side, how can we prevent these ideas from just being trapped in a rarified, theoretical ideal that never gets put into practice? What specific habits can we develop to take these intellectual ideas and integrate them into our normal routine?
I have had hundreds of clients be successful in losing 30–40 pounds and be able to keep it off. The main reason why is they continually do three things. 1) They weigh themselves every morning and track it in a journal, on a sheet, or their phone. 2) They meal prep every week to ensure at least 50% of everything they are going to eat that week is already made and ready to eat. 3) They move their body with some intensity at least three to four times per week. Walking is fine, but the pace needs to be brisk. Weight bearing exercise is preferred because of the myriad benefits it provides.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
This is a loaded question because I am living it and doing it. RockBox Fitness was created to impact people nationwide, and soon worldwide. People who try RockBox get hooked and realize that having fun and working out intensely are not mutually exclusive. We immediately insert them into a community of people just like them who are working to change their lives for the better and are committing to a healthier future. We provide a simple, easy to follow nutrition plan that they can live with and allows them to lose weight as they desire. And we hold them accountable by assigning a coach who monitors their weight and body fat on a weekly basis and works with them in a private manner to ensure they are meeting their progress goals. It goes right back to those three pillars of fitness, nutrition, and accountability. I can honestly say that if I had not already started this venture five years ago, I would be writing this answer describing a place like RockBox Fitness that would offer nutrition and accountability in a super supportive environment. RockBox is not the only choice for people seeking weight loss, and I would recommend that people just find the right place that offers all three pillars, so they have a solid game plan to make real progress. Of course, I’m a little biased that our solution is the best.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
Without a doubt that person would be Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. I have unending respect for that man as an entertainer, an athlete, a businessperson, and a father. He is at the top of his game by employing an unbelievable work ethic (midnight weightlifting sessions galore!), a sharp business mind, and probably the most genuine and authentic approach I have ever seen. If you can set it up, I would certainly pay for lunch!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
They can follow us on Instagram @rockbox_fitness and on Facebook as well. People looking to open a franchise and change lives in their local community can check out our website at RockFitness.com.
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.