In our fast-paced society, it seems as though time has become a hot commodity. The truth is that no matter how you look at it, there are 24 hours in a day and the way you live your life is more about how you spend your time than the excuses you make as to why there is not enough of it. Your day, week, month, is made up of a series of choices of how you choose to spend your time.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Caleb Backe.
As a personal trainer and health & wellness expert for Maple Holistics, Caleb Backe combines his professional and leisurely passions into an authentic and enlightened authority in the wellness industry. Maple Holistics is a company dedicated to producing cruelty-free, sustainable, and natural personal care products, and educating consumers on the importance and benefits of this lifestyle is where Caleb Backe steps in. Backe has been featured for his expertise in countless publications including Huffington Post, Forbes, and Livestrong.
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?
I always loved playing sports growing up in New York and that passion developed into an interest in the fitness industry. As I got older and learned more, I noticed that there was a significant gap between the healthcare industry and the average person. I decided that I wanted to help people better understand their bodies and the many ways to practice self-care for a healthier lifestyle. Eventually, I spent a few years studying chemistry, anatomy, physiology, sociology, psychology, nutrition, and alternative medicine so I could have a better comprehension of the many factors which make up human health and development. Learning about all of the minutiae that makes up a healthy person astounded me, especially in light of the recent interest in alternative therapies in America. This newfound understanding and knowledge was undoubtedly a catalyst for where I am today.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I think one of my favorite stories from my career is how I got involved with Maple Holistics. I started helping my friends with their workouts when I was still fairly young and on my way to becoming a personal trainer. One day, an old childhood friend of mine came by and wanted me to help him meet his fitness goals. Little did I know that this friend would go on to become the CEO of Maple Holistics, where I am now a health and wellness consultant. I treated him like any other client but it taught me that if you’re passionate about what you do, people will notice, and spreading your philosophy will become that much easier.
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?
I remember when I first got started with yoga and I fell in love with it almost immediately. My only problem was a bit of overconfidence and a lack of flexibility. I thought I had graduated from the beginner course, so I moved on to a more rigorous class. Apparently, I wasn’t ready, and one monkey pose later I pulled both my hamstrings simultaneously. It was definitely a humbling experience, but I learned from it and I got back on the mat a few weeks later. I think the most important lesson for me was that learning about something and doing it in practice are remarkably different. It also taught me that health and fitness is not all about what you can do but how you do it. The way I see it — and the way I teach it — is that exercise is a chance to connect with your body and understand your limits. That means honoring your body and pushing it just enough to grow. Your personal health journey is not a competition of who can get to monkey pose first.
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?
Integrative health and holistic wellness are in no way new terms in the alternative medicine realm, but as far as mainstream medicine goes, these terms might raise a few skeptical eyebrows. My goal both as a fitness instructor and health & wellness expert for Maple Holistics, is to educate people on these practices and lift the stigma surrounding holistic living. I hope to help people understand themselves on a physical and emotional level, and utilize this understanding to honor the home that they live in — their bodies.
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?
I am forever grateful to my physical education teacher Mr. Simmons who showed me the ins and outs of fitness at a young age and helped ignite my wellness journey. His approach to physical education was education first and he taught us the hows and whys of different exercises. This is the approach that resonates with me to this day, and fuels my holistic health outlook. I always appreciated the need to do certain workouts, but Mr. Simmons was able to explain to us why they were good for our body and I found myself fascinated by these inner workings.
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?
Not Enough Time: In our fast-paced society, it seems as though time has become a hot commodity. The truth is that no matter how you look at it, there are 24 hours in a day and the way you live your life is more about how you spend your time than the excuses you make as to why there is not enough of it. Your day, week, month, is made up of a series of choices of how you choose to spend your time. With that in mind, shouldn’t living a healthy lifestyle come top of the list?
That’s Just Not Me: It’s human nature to perceive yourself in a certain light, and sometimes block yourself from opportunities under the guise that “it’s just not me”. Some people view a healthy lifestyle as being the kind of person who wakes up at the crack of dawn for a 5-mile jog followed by a protein shake and a vegan toasty. Other people view it as being the kind of person who only eats salads. If you have a particular visual of “the kind of person who lives a healthy lifestyle”, it’s time to let it go. Healthy doesn’t look a certain way. It’s the manifestation of living your best life, and it looks different for everyone.
Lack Of Support: Perhaps one of the only valid blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives is a lack of support from the people around us. Accountability can be a huge factor in sticking with any program, and a healthy lifestyle is included. It’s much harder to make good choices when others around you are not, or worse, mocking you for your decisions. When embarking on a journey of better well-being, make it a priority to surround yourself with people who support you and want to see you succeed.
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.)
Daily Movement: Many people fail to workout or do basic exercise because they can’t commit to the time that’s swallowed by hitting the gym. If you want to make a lifestyle tweak that will dramatically improve your well-being, it’s this: daily movement. As little as 10 minutes of movement (that means just moving — walking, taking the stairs, a yoga flow, whatever you choose) can help release endorphins, get your heart pumping, and have you on your way to a healthier you. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t even need to break a real sweat! Obviously, it’s important to also include some more rigorous exercise into your routine, but generally speaking, it doesn’t take what many perceive as a “full workout” to gain the health benefits of movement.
Meaningful Connections: One of the most fundamental ways to improve your well-being is through creating meaningful connections. In a world where likes and comments determine your self-worth, there has never been a need for real, human connections like there is today. It seems that the very platforms designed to help us connect with each other are creating the biggest disconnections of all. As a result, we are seeing massive spikes in depression, loneliness, and other mental health issues. One small lifestyle tweak to overcome this loneliness and combat certain issues caused by social media is to embrace more face-to-face connections.
Mindfulness: Embracing mindfulness is a lifestyle tweak that anyone can do to improve their well-being. A benefit of mindfulness is that it helps us to reduce our stress levels, if only because we are more consciously aware of our stress and its source. This technique works like a muscle. The more mindfulness your practice the more easily you’re able to step into the present. It’s proven that mindfulness not only benefits your mental health, reducing anxiety and depression, but also has physical protective qualities such as lowering blood pressure.
Feel Your Feelings: We live in a “brush it off and rub some dirt on it” world where showing your feelings is akin to showing weakness. What many of us don’t realize is that when you suppress emotions, you’re harming your well-being. Not only are these suppressed feelings likely to resurface in full force but it will be a case of the straw that broke the camel’s back. You might explode over what may seem like a trivial matter, but the truth is that it could be months’ worth of suppressed negative feelings bubbling to the surface. When you harness the “feel your feelings” mentality, you give yourself the space you need to deal with emotions as they come, making for a more balanced, resilient, healthier you.
Practice Gratitude — It should come as no surprise that practicing gratitude can have a myriad of benefits for your health. Not only does it contribute towards a more positive world view, but it can enhance your overall well-being. In fact, recent research indicates that being grateful not only improves your own health but also the health of the recipient. Those who feel appreciated enjoy better quality sleep. This means that expressing gratitude can cultivate a healthier community. So, if you want to make a small lifestyle tweak to improve not only your well-being but also the health of those around you, look for ways to express gratitude in your day-to-day life.
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?
Improve Energy Levels: One of the main, yet often overlooked, benefits of exercise is an increase in energy levels. Skeptics make a strong argument, “If I’m releasing so much energy in my workout, how can it possibly be increasing my energy levels?: However, research consistently reveals that the opposite is true and numerous studies have found that exercise is an energy booster for both healthy people and those suffering from medical conditions, including chronic fatigue syndrome. Daily exercise is a powerful tool to increase your energy levels and help you to refocus when you’re feeling sluggish.
Build Muscle & Bone Health: When paired with an adequate protein intake, daily exercise can build muscle and increase bone density. Not only does exercise prevent the breakdown of muscle but it helps to keep your muscles strong and healthy which in turn supports your bones. What’s more is that exercise also boosts bone density which means that asides from weight loss, daily movement can help to strengthen your overall frame reducing the risk of a myriad of physical illnesses including osteoporosis.
Balance Mental Health: It should come as no surprise that one of the main benefits of daily exercise is the boost of endorphins it gives you. Exercise results in changes in the brain that regulate stress and anxiety making it an integral component of balanced mental health. Interestingly, a small study revealed that this is true regardless of the level of intensity of the exercise. This means that there really are no excuses for not making the most of a daily exercise routine. Even if it’s just a 10-minute walk around the block or rolling out a yoga mat while you watch TV, it can make a positive impact on your overall well-being.
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
Burpees: I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t have a love-hate relationship with the dreaded burpee, but you can’t deny the fact that it’s a critical full-body exercise. Burpees provide your body with an effective bang for your buck when it comes to cardiovascular and muscle strength. If you struggle to complete consecutive jumping burpees you can easily moderate this move to be more accessible for your needs.
Jumping Jacks: You might cringe at the cliche, but jumping jacks are a tried-and-true exercise. This light impact move is great for pretty much all ages, especially when you start incorporating various moderations. Plyometrics such as jumping jacks are a great addition to any workout as they help with coordination while getting your heart pumping.
Planks: The foundation of a physically healthy body is a strong core. The plank is an ideal daily core exercise because it not only targets your abs but also your back muscles. When both your abs and your back muscles are strong you create a solid structure to improve stability, maintain mobility, and aid in proper posture — all essential components of overall well-being. The plank is also another great move with a range of variations and modifications, so your daily movement is never boring.
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?
The two main focuses post-workout should always be stretches and sustenance. Stretching speeds up the recovery process and ensures that your muscles get the attention they deserve through active rest. At the same time, you need to nourish your body with lean proteins and replenish your glycogen stores with complex carbohydrates. With this in mind, two slices of whole grain toast with some organic almond or peanut butter can go a long way in supporting your recovery post-workout.
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?
I try to avoid using the word diet, other than when referring to making healthy eating choices. With this in mind, the only diet that I would recommend would be intuitive eating. Based on the intuitive eating philosophy, you become an expert of your body’s needs and signals when it comes to food. There are no impositions on what to avoid, when to eat, or what your plate should look like. The only rule is to understand your body and nourish it accordingly. By ditching the idea that food is good or bad and focusing on how food nourishes your body, you’re primed to make healthy food decisions that deliver essential nutrients to your body.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
“The Rules Of Life” by Richard Templar made an indelible mark on my life and is a book I try to share with many. It provides you with an easy-to-read personal code for living your best life. As the title suggests, it’s filled with one-liner rules for life which are expanded and explained so you can better understand just how insightful each rule is. Some of the rules may resonate more than others, but one of the rules that really struck me, especially when it comes to living a healthy, balanced lifestyle was Rule 5. The rule is to “Know what counts and what doesn’t”. Templar encourages readers to not mistake the trivia for what is really important in life. This rule has been a guiding light in my own life, and constant reminder of what it means to prioritize well-being.
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. 🙂
My idea of a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people is in no way novel. I believe that embracing a plant-based lifestyle would not only bring goodness to us as humans but also to the creatures with whom we share our beautiful planet. Creating the least amount of harm through a sustainable lifestyle should be first priority for many, and the truth is that it doesn’t have to look a certain way. A movement in which everyone commits to one small step towards a peaceful lifestyle can start with something as seemingly insignificant as choosing lentils over lamb.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
Zig Ziglar famously said “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude”. This quote is the key to optimizing your well-being. It not only teaches the important lesson that everyone has to start somewhere, but it also emphasizes the fact that the way that you look at things largely determines your success. There are numerous studies proving that positivity and positive reinforcement is more effective than the opposite, yet we so often tell ourselves that we can’t, and it becomes our self-fulfilling prophecy. Change your inner voice and you’re likely to reach great heights on your well-being journey!
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 🙂
If I was able to have a private breakfast with a big name who inspires me, it would have to be Tony Horton. Besides for his fitness series, Tony’s passion extends to motivational speaking and even a hair and skincare line. I feel that we have a great deal in common, down to the belief that what goes on your body is just as important as what goes in it — something that Maple Holistics actively hopes to educate consumers about. Committing to health as a lifestyle is Tony’s entire approach, and it resonates with me more than I can express.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!