I started working on my dream movement. It is called The MAN UP Community and is a community of men all looking to become the healthiest version of themselves. I am learning more and more each day about the power of community. When there is a common goal much greater than each individual’s goals it’s extremely powerful stuff. I wanted a community of men who were looking to not only become the healthiest version of themselves but also the best version of themselves. I wanted to give these men all of the tools necessary to get healthy and be around long term for their children and families but at a price that is too good to be true. I had a vision that even the lowest paid workers would be able to come into the community and improve their health. I wanted them to have all the support and accountability needed to make real changes in their lives and it is certainly happening. My mission is to impact the lives of 1,000,000 men before my time is up and I am absolutely up for the challenge!
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Priest. Jason is the founder of Dad Bod Health and is a registered nurse, personal trainer, health coach and fitness nutrition specialist. Jason is extremely passionate about health and wellness and was featured in Men’s Health for his own body transformation. As a father, Jason always tries to lead by example and he is on a mission to change the lives of 1,000,000 men so they can become the leaders of their family in every aspect. Jason is also a contributor at Future Sharks and Thrive Global and is the host of THE Dad Bod Pod podcast.
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?
Absolutely! I actually started my career as a registered nurse working in an intensive care unit and recovering post-operative heart surgery patients. During this time, I witnessed many sad things as you can imagine but one thing that stood out was the large number of young people who were having heart attacks. I knew that heart disease is the number one leading cause of death in our country but I had no idea how many young adults were being impacted by this. I would later go on to battle some of my own weight issues after my mother passed away at the age of 49. I ended up 60 pounds overweight and it was almost as if it happened overnight. I realized I needed to take massive action or I was going to end up like one of the young adults who I had previously performed chest compressions on. I finally decided to go all in on my health, dropped 60 pounds in 9 months and became extremely passionate about fitness. I then became a personal trainer and fitness nutrition specialist and would later be featured in Men’s Health for my transformation story. After I realized how passionate I was about health and fitness I decided I wanted to help other men get healthy too and that is what lead me to starting my company Dad Bod Health.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
For sure! I would say the most interesting thing that happened to me was based around my borderline obsession with what I call physique manipulation. There was a period of time before I became a Dad when I would go to the extreme when it came to fitness and nutrition. I have tried some very unsustainable diets and some very intense workouts to figure out how it would affect my physique. I was fascinated with the fact that different nutrition plans and different types of exercise can have such a profound impact on our bodies. There are lots of very interesting things I experienced working in the ICU but challenging my body to the extreme was certainly an interesting time in my life.
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?
It’s funny you should ask! My wife and I were actually talking about this the other day. When I first started working night shift in the ICU it was very difficult to get used to being awake all night. It was a huge adjustment and there was a period of time when several of my nurse colleagues would take turns taking power naps while the rest of the nurses would keep an eye on our patients. One morning I was taking my power nap and a cardiologist was rounding at 4am. I was the nurse for one of his patients who was in for a routine overnight procedure and happened to be very non-compliant. He wanted nothing to do with any of the nursing staff which obviously made my job more challenging. The cardiologist went in to check on him and when he came out, he asked me if the patient had been doing his incentive spirometry which is a device utilized to help with deep breathing and prevent potential pneumonia. I nodded and told him he had been doing well and thought nothing of it. The cardiologist then brought the device to me and said next time I might want to actually take it out of the package before I informed him that his patient was using it. I was downright embarrassed and quickly realized that lying to physicians or anyone for that matter was not going to get me very far in life. It is funny to laugh about it now but I believe that story has helped me become the honest man I am today.
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?
I believe I am an authority in the fitness and wellness field due to the vast amount of knowledge and experience I have across numerous areas of health. I started my career working as an RN in an ICU. I then went on to become the Director of Nursing at a long-term care facility. After that I worked in corporate wellness and became a personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist and health coach. When you combine all of my work-related experience as well as the passion I have for my own health and fitness it is easy to see how I can contribute so much. After going through my own body transformation and losing 60 pounds, I have also gained a great amount of empathy for those who are struggling with their health. I believe my knowledge and experience combined with my compassion for helping others and my strong desire to make an impact on the world has led to my credibility as a go-to source in the world of wellness.
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?
For sure. I could list off several people in my life such as my mentors, business partners and friends because they have all impacted my life in different ways. But the person who has helped me most along the way is my wife and best friend. She believed in me when even I didn’t believe in myself. Prior to starting my business, I was very unfulfilled because I knew I could provide much more value to the world. I wanted to start my own business for a really long time but never believed in myself enough to make it happen. When I finally decided to start my business, my wife was by my side the entire way supporting me and encouraging me. She knew I was destined to do big things when we got married almost 15 years ago and has believed in me ever since. We all experience self-limiting beliefs at times but even when I doubted myself the most, she was the one person who has always believed in me.
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?
This is actually a topic that I love because the power of the mind is so fascinating. The 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know and integrating it into our lives are:
- Our expectations as an immediate gratification society. We live in a world where we can get just about anything immediately. I believe a common road block to people taking action is the desire for fast results and realizing that it doesn’t work that way. Far too often I see people become overwhelmed with their health which leads to them seeking out fad diets and extreme measures in order to get quick results. Nobody gains 50 pounds overnight and they certainly won’t lost 50 pounds overnight. But the overwhelm they experience after not feeling good for an extended period of time leads to these attempts. I see people all the time giving up very early in the process because of this desire for immediate gratification.
- A misconception of how hard the process of getting healthier actually is. It does not take a drastic overhaul of your health habits in order to start feeling better. But one thing I see often is people convincing themselves that if they don’t have hours to spend in the gym each day or if they don’t want to spend 4 hours on a Sunday doing meal prep for the week it isn’t worth trying. Most people don’t realize how good their bodies are designed to feel. When a person starts to get a little more active, drinks more water and makes some healthier choices, their body will reward them very quickly in the way that they feel. But the misconception of the actual time required to make healthy lifestyle changes prevents many people from taking action. It comes down to keeping the promises and following through with the micro-commitments you make to yourself.
- Self comparison is the biggest thief of joy. I believe a major road block to people getting started on their fitness journey is comparing themselves to others. When people do this it creates a negative thought process in their minds and can lead to the delay in taking action. A person doesn’t need to look like an Instagram model or a cover model in order to get healthy. Far too often I see people compare themselves to others when in reality it’s about becoming the healthiest version of themselves. Everyone’s body is different and there are no cookie cutter solutions. It comes down to figuring out what is best for your own body and embracing the challenge. I have lived the overweight life and the fit life and I am here to tell you both are hard. But in order to create positive change in your life you must choose your hard wisely.
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.)
I believe there are four core pillars of health and my 5 lifestyle tweaks that will dramatically improve one’s wellbeing will include each one. These are 5 things that have helped my life significantly and have also made a major impact in many of my client’s lives.
- I will start with fitness because this is the one most people lack in their lives. But here’s the thing. Getting active does not require a huge time commitment. Many people spend hours each day scrolling social media or watching Netflix. The bottom line is this. Mentally, the thought process behind walking 3 times per week for 10 minutes is exactly the same as walking 5 times per week for 30 minutes. However, most people don’t believe walking 3 times per week for 10 minutes will accomplish anything so it prevents them from taking action. But establishing this routine mentally is crucial to a person’s long-term success. Many of my clients who have initiated this process in the past have increased their intensity and duration very quickly after buying into the process. Believing in yourself and keeping the promises you make to yourself is how you build momentum and momentum is extremely powerful when it comes to your health and fitness.
- The next core pillar of health is nutrition which is a complex topic but I will also include water intake here. I cannot overemphasize the power of water. Last month I hosted a challenge in my MAN UP Community which is a community of men all looking to become the healthiest version of themselves. Our goal was to aim for half our body weight in ounces with water each day. The feedback I received after this challenge was mind blowing. I had men tell me they had significantly higher energy levels. Some of them told me they were able to completely cut out soda and energy drinks from their lives and many of them reported much better portion control with their meals. Most people don’t drink enough water and don’t realize all the amazing benefits they are missing out on. The bottom line is when you make the shift from drinking very little water to becoming a full-time water drinker it will have a major impact in many areas of your health and wellness.
- Obviously with nutrition there is a lot I can cover in this lifestyle tweak, but for the purpose of this article I will provide a tweak that has drastically improved my life as well as many of my client’s lives. That is the emphasis I place on the consumption of healthy fats. Most people do not eat enough healthy fats. These are foods like salmon and other fatty fish, avocados, nuts and seeds, olive oil, etc. These foods have a ton of value but most importantly they provide sustained energy and brain fuel and can also help with weight loss because they keep you full longer. Adding more healthy fats into your life and reducing some of the junk food or unhealthy carbohydrate sources can have a profound impact on your health and well-being.
- The third core pillar of health is sleep. Most people simply don’t make this a big enough priority and therefore don’t get enough. Our bodies are meant to sleep somewhere between 6.5 and 9 hours. Ultimately that is close to one third of our lives that we are supposed to be sleeping. This was another challenge I hosted in my MAN UP Community and the feedback I received was extremely positive. When I finally dialed in my own sleep and started sticking to s strict sleep schedule it impacted many areas of my life. When we don’t get enough sleep there are several things that happen. One of them is increased levels of a hormone called cortisol which makes it very challenging to lose weight. When a person tries to run on fumes all the time, they will also be much more likely to rely on sugary beverages and caffeine filled energy drinks for quick bursts of energy which then can lead to further issues with their health. The bottom line is it all starts with sleep. By making sleep a bigger priority and sticking to a strict sleep schedule it can have a trickle-down effect on the rest of your health and fitness.
- The fourth core pillar of health is stress management. This is one that often gets ignored and those who don’t adequately manage their stress will eventually experience further issues with their health. Stress is a major contributing factor to heart disease which happens to be the number one leading cause of death in the United States. There are many ways to go about managing your stress. Things such as getting more active, gratitude journaling, meditation, spending time in nature, etc. can all help but they must be consistent. Personally, in my own life I have made this a major emphasis over the last year and it has literally changed my life. I stick to a strict sleep schedule and I fill out my gratitude journal every morning as soon as I wake up. Then before I do anything else including checking emails, texts or other messages I immediately get up and meditate for 10 minutes. This sets the tone for my day and allows me to be proactive and dictate my day versus being reactive and allowing the day to control me. This simple shift has helped me drastically reduce my stress levels and has led to better mental clarity and improved health and wellness overall.
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?
I’m glad you asked! I actually talk about this often because I get asked all the time how I am able to stay so consistent with my fitness routine. The number one reason I go to the gym is for mental clarity. Without it I would have increased stress and anxiety and would not be anywhere close to the best version of myself. The number two reason I go to the gym is for energy. Many people say they don’t exercise because they are too tired but without exercise, I would be much more tired in my day to day life. When people commit to a fitness routine, they typically realize this almost immediately. In fact, one of the most common things I hear from clients is how amazed they are at how much more energy they have simply by getting more active. Another reason I go to the gym and the third benefit aside from weight loss is for better quality sleep. When I am not working out regularly my sleep quality suffers tremendously and I do not feel like I am able to get into deep sleep very often. I feel that if people are focused on going to the gym just to lose weight it generally doesn’t last. But when they buy into fitness as a lifestyle so they can experience all of the amazing benefits that exercise has to offer, they are much more likely to stick to their routine long term.
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine and has not been working out prior, I generally recommend a multi-faceted approach. In my opinion the best approach is including resistance training, cardiovascular exercise and stretching/flexibility. Resistance training can be with free weights, machine weights or even resistance bands. Resistance training can help prevent osteoporosis or bone loss and also has many other benefits including core strength which can help keep a person’s back healthy. Cardiovascular exercise is great for heart health among other things but I like to change it up with both steady state cardio as well as interval training or HIIT. Interval training is great for burning body fat while maintaining muscle mass. Stretching and flexibility are also very important and can help prevent injuries as a person ages but they must be consistent just like any other form of exercise.
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 key factor here is starting slow and building some muscle memory before increasing the weight a person is lifting. The amount of repetitions plays a huge role here and can help a person ease into resistance training which will help prevent some of the delayed onset muscle soreness. Another important factor is staying adequately hydrated and making sure to consume enough electrolytes especially when sweating a lot or exercising outdoors.
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?
Absolutely! I am extremely passionate about nutrition and this is an area I feel many people often over complicate. I realize it can be overwhelming when trying to figure out what you should be eating and what you shouldn’t. But the key is becoming more informed about the foods you are eating which includes consistently reading labels. Personally, I follow a diet that includes lots of lean protein and healthy fats with more of a moderate amount of carbohydrates. But the carbohydrate sources are extremely nutrient dense and I watch my portions closely. I have my clients follow a very similar diet and I would say the closest diet to what I follow is the Mediterranean diet. I consume lots of fatty fish, avocados, nuts and seeds, eggs and olive oil along with a good variety of green vegetables. Most of my carbohydrate sources include sweet potatoes, black rice, quinoa and whole grain products. I don’t focus on macronutrients and I don’t count calories. But it took me a while to figure out what my body responds to best. I feel more people should focus on including more nutrient dense foods in their life and limit junk food while paying close attention to there portion sizes. It comes down to listening to your body and viewing food as fuel. Once a person can make this mindset shift, they typically have a ton of success in the nutrition department.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
This is a tough one because there are many books that have made a significant impact on me. But one I read recently that stands out was Maxout Your Life by Ed Mylett. It was a very short and easy read but extremely impactful. For an entrepreneur such as myself I am always open to learning new ways to maximize my potential as a business owner and a person in general.
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. 🙂
I am glad you asked this question because recently I started working on my dream movement. It is called The MAN UP Community and is a community of men all looking to become the healthiest version of themselves. I am learning more and more each day about the power of community. When there is a common goal much greater than each individual’s goals it’s extremely powerful stuff. I wanted a community of men who were looking to not only become the healthiest version of themselves but also the best version of themselves. I wanted to give these men all of the tools necessary to get healthy and be around long term for their children and families but at a price that is too good to be true. I had a vision that even the lowest paid workers would be able to come into the community and improve their health. I wanted them to have all the support and accountability needed to make real changes in their lives and it is certainly happening. My mission is to impact the lives of 1,000,000 men before my time is up and I am absolutely up for the challenge!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“Change your mind and you’ll change your life”
This was a quote that I never really paid much attention to until I was getting ready to start my business. There was a time when I was doubting myself and had a ton of self-limiting beliefs. When I finally embraced the power of the mind and the importance of mindset in general my life literally changed.
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 🙂
It would have to be Andy Frisella. He is one of the most genuine people I have ever been exposed to and it is obvious that he truly cares. His wisdom is far beyond his age and the hard work he has put in to accomplish the things that he has is extremely admirable.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
The best way to follow me on social media is probably through Instagram. I am very active in my Instagram stories and try to provide a ton of insight on how I live a healthy lifestyle.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!