“5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing” With Dr. William Seeds & Jonathan Jordan

So many people are stuck. They made choices that pointed them down a path (often influenced by parents or what society deemed they should do). Like me, maybe they invested in education and careers that ultimately aren’t right for them now. And they’re afraid to make a change. What would it say about them if […]

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So many people are stuck. They made choices that pointed them down a path (often influenced by parents or what society deemed they should do). Like me, maybe they invested in education and careers that ultimately aren’t right for them now. And they’re afraid to make a change. What would it say about them if they quit being a corporate lawyer and became a chef for instance? We worry too much. We only have one life. Chase your happiness. Try and fail. It’ll be ok!

As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jonathan Jordan (“JJ”). JJ is an award-winning Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, Equinox Group Fitness Instructor and Fitness Blogger. He offers his clients personalized fitness programs and nutritional advice to coach them towards healthier, sustainable lifestyles. Formerly a partner at a billion dollar publicly traded consulting firm, he understands the physical and mental challenges that busy professionals experience on a daily basis. His comments and advice have appeared in U.S. News & World Report, Shape, Prevention, Oxygen, LiveStrong.com, Law.com, American Council on Exercise Certified News, Delicious Living, the Fitbit Blog and the MyFitnessPal Blog. And he’s a contributor to fitness apps including ClassPassGo and Garmin Coach. His blog JJ Fit 24/7 and Instagram offer practical, effective and free videos, advice and tips each week.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?

For the first 15 years of my career I was a management consultant working crazy hours, traveling all the time and basically being tied to a desk, computer or a cell phone. I was really good at my job and was very successful in terms of promotions, awards and earning money. But I wasn’t happy so I drank a lot and ate like garbage to manage my stress. I just kept thinking if I achieved the next thing (the next job title, the next big client, the big corner office) I would be happy. But every time I got it I was still stressed and miserable. More so even. But in all that time I always had a personal trainer. And while I was a terrible client (late and hung over with a bad attitude) I still clung to exercise as a way to try to take care of myself. One day when I had had enough of my drinking I got sober. And I quickly realized that if I was going to stay sober I would need to make a change. And one morning while at the gym I looked at my trainer and asked if she would help me start a career in fitness. And that was it. I put all my energy into changing my situation and getting the education and certifications I needed. Within six months I was a new trainer at Equinox and after just one year there I was the highest producing trainer at my club in San Francisco.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

It turns out that just by changing your career and your surroundings you’re still the same person with the same issues. I CRUSHED it my first year as a trainer. I got promoted in record time. I grabbed every certification. I worked crazy hours and weekends. I viscerally wanted to succeed. To be the best. To prove that this former desk jockey could hang with the younger fitness crowd. That I could build my business fast. All my insecurities from my childhood as an overweight, gay kid in the South floated to the surface. But I “won”. My management even gave me trophy in front of the entire team for “Highest Producing Trainer of the Year”. And I was miserable. So yet again I had to make some changes, find some balance and take some of my own advice. I shifted my focus from proving that I was best and started to focus my energy on my clients and being of service to them. Everything changed for me when I started to care more about the quality of my work over the quantity of cash and prizes I received.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

This is embarrassing. When I first switched from sitting at a desk to standing on my feet all day I thought somehow I would have a super human metabolism. I figured because I was a rockstar trainer I could eat anything I wanted and still be lean and healthy. I was working long hours and when I would walk home each night I would pass by an ice cream shop. And every night I would go in, order a HUGE cookie sundae and eat it on the way home. And then I’d have dinner. A few weeks of that I started to get a little pudgy. I quickly knocked that off. And it inspired me to get a nutrition certification so I could help my clients not only move more but eat smarter. Exercise without proper nutrition and regeneration habits won’t get you very far. So it was a good lesson.

Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?

Some many fitness professionals only focus on one aspect of wellness. Personal trainers tend to only coach exercise. Nutritionists only focus on diet. Massage therapists and physical therapists only focus on recovery and regeneration. Over the years I’ve culled together certifications and hands-on experience to offer my clients a truly holistic view of wellness that includes movement, nutrition and regeneration. All three of these pillars of wellness are equally important in today’s high-paced, technology-centric world.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Throughout my journey over the past 10 years I’ve worked consistently with the same personal trainer, Marcia Robles. While I was a miserable consultant drinking too much she didn’t give up on me. She helped me at least take care of myself for the hour we were together. And when I had the dream to become a personal trainer she was right there with me helping me and coaching me. And even today, though I’m a big shot personal trainer in my own right, we continue to work together. She continues to challenge me, to hold a mirror up to me and to mentor me. Everyone needs a Marcia Robles in their corner. I credit her with much of my success and I try to pass along her kindness by mentoring others along my way. Giving back is fulfilling.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

Every day we say to ourselves “I’m going to do XYZ.” Whether it’s avoiding alcohol, going to the gym or meditating for one minute. We know we need to yet we often say “forget it”. Why? Why do we refuse to take the medicine we know we need and actually want?
We think to have an impact we have to do the thing perfectly. We think a one minute meditation isn’t good enough, that we should do more. So if we can’t be perfect we may as well not do it all. Which isn’t true.
Our minds are cluttered by the barrage of input from our phones, computers and the world around us. We live in a constantly connected 24/7 world and our brains simply can’t keep up with the input. So we’re constantly reacting and rarely able to step back and check in with ourselves.
This may sound overly simplistic but we are under slept and under recovered. Our daily stress compounded with not enough sleep (and poor quality sleep) leave us sleep deprived which fosters poor choices and more stress. It’s a vicious cycle.

Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)

Put down those mobile devices; they may be ruining your life. The artificial blue light emitted by popular devices triggers our sympathetic (“fight or flight”) nervous systems. Our pulse increases. Our bodies release stress hormones. Basically we’re in a state of constant overdrive and our parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous systems cannot keep up. This leads to weight gain, gastrointestinal issues, cellular damage, illness/lowered immunity, lowered brain functioning/productivity, disordered sleep, anxiety and depression. It’s petrifying.
Fix those sleep habits or your brain and body will consistently suffer. Only 2.5% of the population has a sleep need less than six hours per night. The average person needs 7–8 hours of QUALITY sleep. Sleep deficiency diminishes our cognitive function, physical health and metabolism. It leads to inflammation, memory and concentration difficulties, increased hunger and cravings for sugar and poor physical performance. It has also been linked to depression, suicide and risk-taking behavior.
Start to do something about your chronic stresses one at a time. Thanks to today’s fast-paced, technology-centric world coupled with sedentary lifestyles, we are bombarded constantly with low and high levels of mental, physical, emotional and physiological stress. These chronic stresses are inhibiting our bodies’ natural self-repair mechanisms that fix broken proteins, kill cancer cells, retard aging and fight infections. We are the most overweight, under active generation in history existing on diets of processed foods and suffering from damaging mindsets. We’re walking around under-slept like zombies and are beating the $@#!*% out of our adrenal glands.
Adopt a simple meditation and mindfulness practice in as little as 1-minute/day. Many of us know we should probably meditate more to help reduce stress, improve brain functioning and even to reduce pain. But like lots of good intentions we forget, get frustrated or just flat out don’t know where to start. Here’s a little secret: you can meditate for as little as one minute a day and you don’t have to do it perfectly. With an open mind, patience and consistency anyone can begin to benefit from this mindfulness practice.
When things get out of whack, pause and pivot. As a corporate and private personal trainer, massage therapist with my own studio, group fitness instructor, nutrition coach, corporate wellness consultant, blogger, writer and occasional model (::hair flip::) I have a lot of demands for my time and attention. I love what I do and it’s easy to let my work life and business take over and eat up all my spare time leaving little to none for the other parts of me. Several times over the years while building my little JJFit Empire I’ve found myself overwhelmed and off balance and had to reset and reprioritize my projects. In those moments learning to pause, think and change what’s not working is crucial.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?
Our bodies (our joints, our muscles and our fascia) are designed to move, not sit hunched over a desk all day. Besides packing on excess weight, our desk bound lives lead to pain and immobility that over time can cause injuries and disease.
Exercise releases endorphins which helps lower stress which not only calms us down, but also improves our health at the cellular level.
Exercise makes you smarter and more productive. Clinical research indicates that getting up from your desk for a vigorous workout improves brain functioning and productivity by increasing BDNF (Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor) which is Miracle-Gro for the brain

For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?

A mobility program to address overly tight muscles and stiff joints from sitting. 5–10 minutes/day of stretching, especially the hips, thoracic spine and shoulders can do wonders for reducing pain, improving posture and getting your body ready for a workout.

Cardio, whether it be on the treadmill, elliptical, row erg or outside walking is a must for general health, managing body composition, managing stress and a strong heart and lungs. Most people would benefit from a mix of low, medium and high intensity.

Complex, compound strength moves like squats, deadlifts, lunges and horizontal pulling/rowing use multiple joints and therefore more muscles. These are more efficient and burn more calories so are best for folks looking to maximize their time. The one exception would be core. Everyone needs a strong core but we focus too much on flexion (sit ups) which can be tough on our vertebrae. I recommend fewer sit ups and more core stability/anti-rotation exercises like planks,

In my experience, many people begin an exercise regimen but stop because they get too sore afterwards. What ideas would you recommend to someone who plays sports or does heavy exercise to shorten the recovery time, and to prevent short term or long term injury?

Properly preparing the body for movement with a simple mobility program that includes a dynamic warm up with core and glute activation work wonders for injury prevention and reducing workout-related pain. And spending a couple of minutes post-workout foam rolling and stretching your problems areas (for many that includes pecs and hips) will noticeably reduce soreness the next day. Beyond that, getting proper rest and sleep is the key to minimizing recovery time and avoiding overtraining.

There are so many different diets today. Can you share what kind of diet you follow? Which diet do you recommend to most of your clients?

Diets don’t work. And research confirms that even if we were successful at adhering to a popular diet (like low carb or low fat) there is really no significant difference in terms of results. So I created this guide to provide my clients and followers with a framework and tools for eating to their body composition goals that still allow them to enjoy their lives. This is how I got off the diet merry go round and achieved true and sustainable lifestyle change. My coaching methods have helped hundreds of clients reduce their body fat, get strong and become healthier and more energetic. Ditch the diets and learn a practical and effective way to approach eating for safe, long-term results.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

My father used to read the book The Giving Tree to me as a chile. It’s the story of a selfless tree who achieves happiness by being of service to a little boy she loves. She doesn’t get rich. She doesn’t get famous. She lives a humble life. But she is ultimately happiest through selfless acts. In a world where it’s easy to chase cash and prizes it’s important to remember what matters most and to be there for our fellow humans.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

So many people are stuck. They made choices that pointed them down a path (often influenced by parents or what society deemed they should do). Like me, maybe they invested in education and careers that ultimately aren’t right for them now. And they’re afraid to make a change. What would it say about them if they quit being a corporate lawyer and became a chef for instance? We worry too much. We only have one life. Chase your happiness. Try and fail. It’ll be ok!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

Lately my partner and I have been saying to each other “everything is figureoutable”. And it’s true. So much of what we worry about never happens. If we are taking care of ourselves and practicing pause usually the simple solutions will come. But if we’re running around underslept and overstressed like rats on a wheel simple problems will seem like insurmountable obstacles.

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 if we tag them 🙂

Honestly, I think Madonna is the most fascinating and inspirational person in the public eye. She has managed to stay relevant and true to herself for decades. Plus, look at her. Her journey has been fascinating. Madge, if you’re ready I LOVE YOU! 😉

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

I am an avid Facebook and IG user.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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