Adam Bernard: “Use your tech, but don’t let your tech use you”

Use your tech, but don’t let your tech use you. I’m a bit different in that I don’t own a smartphone. While I know that kind of life isn’t for everyone, if you do own a smartphone it’s important to remember YOU should be the one in charge. If you’re jumping at every notification of […]

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Use your tech, but don’t let your tech use you. I’m a bit different in that I don’t own a smartphone. While I know that kind of life isn’t for everyone, if you do own a smartphone it’s important to remember YOU should be the one in charge. If you’re jumping at every notification of a new email, a new text, or a new post, your phone is in charge. Delete, or silence, as many apps on your phone as possible, and take back control. You’ll feel way more at peace, and find much more of your time is suddenly your own again.

Often when we refer to wellness, we assume that we are talking about physical wellbeing. But one can be physically very healthy but still be unwell, emotionally or mentally. What are the steps we can take to cultivate optimal wellness in all areas of our life; to develop Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing?

As a part of our series about “How We Can Do To Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Adam Bernard.

Adam Bernard is a veteran music journalist, lifelong martial artist, and cancer survivor. His memoir, ChemBro: Embracing Beastmode to Beat Cancer, details his journey of battling cancer while simultaneously training for his 5th degree black belt.

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 was a good kid. Grew up in Connecticut, near the NY border, and since my dad was a commuter I very quickly learned my way around NYC, which I consider a second home.

I loved sports, although I didn’t hit my growth spurt until very late, so team sports weren’t an option — I was literally a foot shorter than most kids! Being short also meant dealing with the occasional bully, which is where the martial arts came into play. My parents signed me up for classes when I was seven years old. I learned how to handle a bully, and now, 35 years later, I’m a fifth degree black belt in Kempo, and I teach both kids and adults.

The other side of my life is writing. Being that I couldn’t be involved in team sports I felt the next best thing would be to be as close to them as possible, so I wrote about sports through college. After college, however, I pivoted to music journalism, and have spent the past 20 years interviewing artists, covering concerts, and listening to as many albums as humanly possible. What I really enjoy is covering indie artists. Being someone’s first interview is always a thrill, and I love helping someone shed their 9 to 5 so they can work on their craft full time. Because of this, I’m most at home at cramped, sweaty indie music venues with sticky floors and terrifying bathrooms. I joke that my “good” pants are the jeans that have had the least amount of alcohol spilled on them by strangers.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

Honestly, there isn’t one single moment, or person, that inspired me to pursue my career. I’m an only child, and I’m very self-driven. Once I put my mind to something, I’m going to make it happen.

The being said, I had some fantastic professors at Hofstra University who helped me hone my craft.

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 can’t give credit to just one person. As I mentioned, I had professors who were amazing, but I also think everyone I dealt with along the way played some small role, whether it was helping me book a big interview, or giving me an opportunity to write for a publication.

I believe life is made up of a lot of little steps, and while in the end it can look like a giant step was taken, it was really the culmination of a whole lot of smaller things adding up.

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?

Mistakes? I’ve made a few. Hey, we all have, and I think something that’s really important is realizing that, and not being too hard on ourselves when we mess up.

I’d say one of my biggest mistakes when I was younger was flying off the handle when something wasn’t going my way. Ari Gold was a fantastic character on Entourage, but no one should actually act that way in real life.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I’m so glad you asked this question!

The Art of Peace by Morihei Ueshiba, who is the founder of the martial art Aikido, had a huge impact on me.

The book is filled with short, but important, life lessons that were written down by one of his students, and it really put me in a great state of mind.

I copied a few excerpts from it, and have them on my fridge, so I see them every time I eat, which is often!

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

Can I share two? The first is from the aforementioned Art of Peace.

“There are many paths leading to the peak of Mount Fuji, but the goal is the same.”

Basically, people can have similar goals, but go about trying to reach them in different ways. I love this quote because it shows us that we can be alike even in our differences. I think the realization of this can help us be more accepting.

The second quote is from Jack Kerouac — “Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.”

In other words, do your own thing, be your own person, embrace your individuality.

Those two quotes kind of go together.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

What I’m most excited about for 2021 is the prospect of doing some one-on-one mentoring/guidance for cancer patients. I’ve been talking with an organization about this, and I can’t wait to pay it forward as a cancer survivor and help others in their battles.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. In this interview series we’d like to discuss cultivating wellness habits in four areas of our lives, Mental wellness, Physical wellness, Emotional wellness, & Spiritual wellness. Let’s dive deeper into these together. Based on your research or experience, can you share with our readers three good habits that can lead to optimum mental wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

1. Use your tech, but don’t let your tech use you.

I’m a bit different in that I don’t own a smartphone. While I know that kind of life isn’t for everyone, if you do own a smartphone it’s important to remember YOU should be the one in charge. If you’re jumping at every notification of a new email, a new text, or a new post, your phone is in charge.

Delete, or silence, as many apps on your phone as possible, and take back control. You’ll feel way more at peace, and find much more of your time is suddenly your own again.

2. Exercise in some way, shape, or form.

I’m the guy who wrote an entire book about how working out helped save my life, so you kind of had to expect this one. Seriously, though, exercise is really important for mental wellness, so find a form of exercise you enjoy — lifting at the gym, martial arts, yoga, heck you can start just by walking — and make it part of your daily routine. You’ll feel better, be able to do more, and the constant sense of accomplishment will cultivate a positive mind state.

3. Have conversations with friends.

I feel like it can’t be a coincidence that every time I have a long conversation with a good friend I end up feeling great. Whether it’s over coffee, over a drink, or over the phone, speaking with a friend is just straight up good for us!

Do you have a specific type of meditation practice or Yoga practice that you have found helpful? We’d love to hear about it.

While this isn’t meditation, or yoga, I really love lifting weights. There’s something special about getting stronger, creating goals, reaching those goals, and being able to see concrete evidence of hard work paying off — either via being able to lift heavier, or by seeing results in the mirror.

Thank you for that. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum physical wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

1. Find the workout plan that works for you.

I love CrossFit, and the martial arts. I have friends who love yoga. I have other friends who love running. Find your thing, and make it happen.

I know some people can feel a bit intimidated when they’re just starting their workout journey, but I’m here to tell you — you’re gonna be alright. I’m a fifth degree black belt, but I started as a white belt, just like everybody else. Heck, when I walked into a CrossFit gym for the first time I had never done a dead lift, or an overhead squat. Now I’m pretty darn good at both.

We all start at the beginning, so if you can only pick up a 5 lb dumbbell, use the 5 lb dumbbell. That’s the first step to using the 10 lb dumbbell. Before you know it you’ll be picking up the 50s!

2. Ween yourself off of junk food.

I know, some folks feel this is impossible — there’s so much fast food, soda, and candy in the world, and it’s all so cheap! Ah, yes, it’s cheap monetarily, but it comes at a much higher cost to both your health, and your mental wellbeing (being in poor health makes you feel bad).

My advice is to ween yourself off of these things, and find not just one, but numerous tasty replacements. Fun fact — once you’re off the garbage food, your taste buds appreciate so much more! This is probably because you’re giving your tastebuds something other than salt and fat.

Oh, and about salt and fat, always read the nutrition labels of products. Just because something is at a health food store, or labeled “vegan,” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you.

3. Ignore the scale, embrace the mirror.

I can’t even tell you how many people I’ve given this advice to. I understand that some people have weight goals they want to hit, but the results you should be looking for when exercising are in the mirror. If you’re building muscle, feeling great, and looking great, what’s the number on the scale matter?

Personally, I don’t own a scale, so I only get weighed when I’m at a doctor’s appointment. While I’ll admit I get hyped when I hit a new high (gains, baby!), it’s never my goal. My goal is to be healthy, and I find that in the mirror.

Do you have any particular thoughts about healthy eating? We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, 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 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

I feel one of the biggest blocks people have when it comes to eating healthy is they think everything is going to be bland, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. As I noted earlier, once you stop eating junk food, your taste buds really open up, and you know what healthy foods have lots of? Seasoning!

Fun fact — salt is an acquired taste, so once you’re off of it, you don’t like it nearly as much. This means once you’ve cut your salt intake down, a whole world of flavors becomes available to you!

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum emotional wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

1. Limit your time on social media.

Social media can be a great place to see photos of your friends’ kids, pets, concerts, and life achievements. It can also be a place filled with vitriol, hyperbolic rants, and shouting matches that go on for days.

I try my best to limit the time I spend on social media, and when I’m there, no matter how much I want to write a reaction to someone’s rant, I pull myself back, and let it slide. There is nothing to be gained from arguing over the internet.

On Twitter I’ve muted a bevy of words that always spark intense negative emotions, including a plethora of political names (from both sides), in an effort to create a mostly positive environment.

If you have social media apps on your phone, it might make sense to delete them, or at the very least mute them (is that a thing?), and only visit those sites when you’re at your computer.

2. Eliminate anger from your life

Something that I’ve learned over the years is that anger is a wasted emotion. It does nothing but make a situation worse.

Anger is frustration without thought, and while frustration can be constructive, anger can only be destructive.

Whatever you’re trying to achieve, it won’t be achieved through anger.

3. Surround yourself with positive people.

Toxic people will always bring you down. Positive people will always, at the very least, listen to you.

I’m not saying only keep people around who share your views and opinions. Quite the contrary, keep your circle of friends as ideologically diverse as humanly possible. That said, a positive mindset should be the overarching umbrella all those friends fall under.

Do you have any particular thoughts about the power of smiling to improve emotional wellness? We’d love to hear it.

Well, I’ll say this, in the warmer months I walk to the gym, and there are a bevy of folks I now know simply because I smile, say good morning, and am generally nice to people.

Having more friends in your life has to be good for one’s emotional wellness!

Finally, can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum spiritual wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

I view my emotional wellness as my spiritual wellness. I believe they’re completely interconnected. Being at peace emotionally equates to my version of spirituality.

Do you have any particular thoughts about how being “in nature” can help us to cultivate spiritual wellness?

I’ve had some really bad experiences in nature, including being caught in a massive hurricane while camping (it was the last time I would ever go camping), so nature, as a general thing, is something I’ve been at odds with.

Something simple, however, like taking a walk (with your cell phone muted) can be really good for clearing your mind, and letting new ideas in.

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.

Something that I’m really trying to instill in as many people as possible is that the hurdles we face in life are meant to be jumped over, and with a positive mind state, and a warrior spirit, we can get through pretty much anything.

I’d love to help more people to find this within themselves.

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 🙂

Vanessa Hudgens.

If you read my author bio on Amazon, or the back of my book, you’ll see it says I’m still waiting for Vanessa Hudgens to reply to one of my tweets.

Hey Vanessa, what’s a guy gotta do to get a cup of coffee with ya? LOL!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

People are welcome to connect with me via Twitter at @AdamsWorldBlog.

I also have a website —

Finally, my book, ChemBro: Embracing Beastmode to Beat Cancer, is available everywhere. Here’s the Amazon link —

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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