“Prioritize your sleep.” With Julie Brown & Dr. William Seeds

I think there is an immense value to finding movements that help your body feel amazing and allow you to embrace movement in a way that helps your body find a sense of peace in its own strength. I love moves that don’t necessarily involve a ton of equipment: the deadlift, a push up, and […]

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I think there is an immense value to finding movements that help your body feel amazing and allow you to embrace movement in a way that helps your body find a sense of peace in its own strength. I love moves that don’t necessarily involve a ton of equipment: the deadlift, a push up, and a body weight squat. There are so many variations on these three gems that you’ll be set for quite a while and will rarely be hindered. Grab a few dumbbells and of course your body and you’ll be set.

I had the pleasure to interview Julie Brown, Nutrition Program Coaching Manager at Life Time, Inc. Julie joined Life Time as a fitness and nutrition Professional in October 2011 and has had the opportunity to work 1:1 with members and team members alike to enhance their Healthy Way of Life experiences. She enjoys putting all of her experiences and education in practice by supporting and coaching individuals and teams to achieve their short and long term goals in nutrition and wellness.

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?

Sure thing! Like many young adults I entered college unsure of the best major to suit my passions. I thought I had wanted to be a Physical Therapist, but didn’t want to go to school for 8+ years. I grew up loving sports and exercise, so I started with a major in Kinesiology. About 2 years into my degree path I took an elective course in Sports Nutrition and quickly found a natural passion point in nutrition. I added Dietetics as a second major and finished both degrees concurrently in 5 years at the University of Arkansas. I then went on to get my Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology from the U of A and then completed a dietetic internship so that I could sit for the board exam to be a Registered Dietitian. Ironically my educational path took me 8 years to finish after all, but I wouldn’t change it.

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

At Life Time we have a weight loss & lifestyle event that is held several times a year and during my first year with the company we had an in-club winner who had initially been struggling through her 90 day experience. About 6 weeks in something clicked for her and she simply took off with her nutrition consistency and the work she was doing with her trainer. When we were celebrating her win I asked her what it was that clicked for her and helped her dig her heels in to truly change her lifestyle. She shared with me that it was something I had said to her in one of our nutrition coaching sessions: “Chris, don’t make it complicated. Just eat the rainbow as often as you can.” I was shocked — how could such a simple thing we had discussed in our coaching be the game changer for her? It truly showed me that you never know when you are going to give someone a “Lollipop Moment” that will potentially change their lives forever. (Also if you’ve never watched the “Everyday Leadership” TED talk about a Lollipop Moment I highly recommend it. It’s my all-time favorite!)

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?

Well I wouldn’t say that this was a “mistake” so much as something very humorous that happened. My very first day at work on the fitness floor at Life Time was Halloween. I was told we could dress up and that most of the team would likely be dressing up as well. I had just moved across the country and didn’t want to spend money on a Halloween costume, so I decided to create a costume from my closet. I settled on a cowgirl. I showed up on my first day and felt like I fit right in, until later in the day a leader at my club questioned if this was what I would be wearing to work each day, stating “I wasn’t sure, since you are from Arkansas after all.” It was a special moment indeed. Ever since then I have ensured that I chose much more obvious Halloween costumes.

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?

It’s humbling to think about the number of people I have had the privilege to support through various phases of their fitness and wellness journey. I would say the amount of reps I’ve had is what makes me an authority. I thrive in helping people seek a better version of themselves and I love seeing the “light-bulb moments” that people have when they are ready to make lasting change. One of the most rewarding things about my job is that I am able to work with thousands of other nutrition coaches and trainers, providing guidance and resources when they aren’t sure how to help a client they are working with. I see my own time and impact as finite — I could work with 8–10 people a day or I could work with and through hundreds if not thousands of people daily who help 8–10 people. The ability to influence that type of “ripple effect” feels like a very unique contribution to the world of wellness and it’s darn fulfilling for me as a professional.

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?

Wow. That’s a tough one. I would have to say in my personal life I couldn’t pursue my dreams without the support of my partner, husband, and best friend Barrett. He has always helped keep me grounded and also helped me push to be the best version of myself, never standing in the way of the more crazy things I’ve done, from training for a marathon during our senior year of college, to moving our little family across the country for a 100% commission job.

In my professional life I have had a myriad of leaders who have provided guidance and advocated for me at critical moments in my growth. I truly wouldn’t be where I am today without their support — a big shout out inclusive of forever gratitude goes out to Nick, Ryan, Natasha, Amber, Cliff, Tom & Kevin.

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?

Oh absolutely. This question is one that is near and dear to me.

  1. Making real change is hard, it take a ton of reps to create a new routine. As humans we instinctually flee from change, especially that which requires us to endure pain or hardship. Fear of change is a real thing. Making changes that often involve moving more or fueling our bodies differently can cause massive shifts in our life and many people haven’t truly embraced the suck that is making a lifestyle change. It’s going to be hard before it feels good, so mindset is crucial for success. You can’t come into it allowing yourself to think you will fail, because if you do you will. You must come in fighting to win, looking for every resource to help you be successful. If you truly want change you have to be willing to dig your heels in and fight.
  2. We often lack the community to support us through the change. Making change doesn’t take place in a bubble. Your office will still have birthday celebrations and donuts in the breakroom, your kid’s will still have pizza parties with their friends, and your friends will still want to have a happy hour after a busy week. You have to work within your worlds to ensure people know what commitments you’ve made to yourself and your health so that you can stay on track no matter what the temptation might be. You might find that there are certain people in your life that you spend less time with if they are unable fully support the journey you are on. It can also be powerful to find new people outside of your current circles to support your season of change. You can often find this through social media communities and/or at your local fitness center. Seek other like-minded individuals who are making similar changes, as their support and ideas for how to navigate difficult situations will remind you are not alone in your quest to make lasting change.
  3. You might have to ask for help. Yikes. Most of us don’t like to be vulnerable, let alone make it known to others that we might not be able to do it all by ourselves, but I can assure you NO ONE got healthy exclusively by themselves. You might need direction on what to do to get started, so hiring a trainer or coach could be key. You might need help with your family support, after all you can’t play Uber driver for your 3 kids and their after-school activities while also trying to be at your 5:30pm workout class. You may need to ask your spouse for help with meal prep or house cleaning — you don’t have to be a super hero in all areas of your life, but you do have to be willing to admit you can’t do it all. Doing so will take a load off of your “perfection-seeking” shoulders and allow you to fully focus on the things that you are spending your time and attention on.

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.)

So most people don’t find living a healthy life to be intuitive, but I think once you get started it becomes quite intuitive over time. Here are a five things that might not be top of mind that will help you get started on your healthy way of life journey:

  1. Practicing gratitude daily. There is an exceptional amount of power in taking a few minutes each day to reflect on at least five things that you are grateful for. I find this best practiced in the morning to start my day, then I can spend the day ahead looking for my gratitudes for tomorrow’s session.
  2. Creating a bedtime routine. This simple practice not only sets you up for a great night’s sleep, but it allows you to set up for a strong tomorrow as well. Be sure to power down your electronics (ideally) 60 minutes before bed, turn down the lights, set out your clothes for the morning (both your workout gear and your clothes for the day), and take some time to prepare lunch for the day ahead for you and your family. And if you want you can even get your coffee pot set up an easy push-button start on the flip-side. Whatever your routine is craft it and refine it until you can stick with it for the long haul.
  3. Documenting non-scale victories. So many people focus on the numbers the scale provides and lack focus on their improved stamina, daily energy, better fitting jeans and ease climbing the stairs or getting up of the floor. Taking stock of and celebrating these important changes can help you remain focused on your journey rather than simply seeing a “goal weight.”
  4. Schedule your grocery shopping. There always seems to be immense focus around scheduling meal prep time to create nutrition success, but I always start one step back with scheduling a consistent grocery shopping time in your weekly schedule. Taking time to carefully craft your list (organized by department & store flow if you are extra detail-oriented) allows most people to enjoy the process of grocery shopping rather than being stressed out by this week’s trip to fill your fridge. Go with a plan and stick to it to optimize your shopping time and budget. Once you have this in motion it becomes a synch to get your meal prep on.
  5. Find a bottle or cup that you love to drink water out of all day long. You’ll hear about the importance of drinking water everywhere you turn, but it can be truly tough to make this a lasting change until you find the perfect delivery method for your necessary ounces. Try out a few and figure out what sticks. The process might seem silly at first, but once you find your winner you’ll know it was worth the trial and error. And always keep that favorite water-drinking vessel within arm’s reach throughout your day. It will take a little practice to keep up with it at first, but before you know it that cup or bottle will be attached to you just like your phone.

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?

Certainly! Improved energy is the most important thing that comes to mind. So many people think that exercising will cause them more fatigue, but it’s quite the opposite. Those who move more through exercise will also be surprised that they’ll be inspired to move more and sit less often at work — it’s actually great! And people who get more activity and exercise typically sleep more soundly.

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

I think there is an immense value to finding movements that help your body feel amazing and allow you to embrace movement in a way that helps your body find a sense of peace in its own strength. I love moves that don’t necessarily involve a ton of equipment: the deadlift, a push up, and a body weight squat. There are so many variations on these three gems that you’ll be set for quite a while and will rarely be hindered. Grab a few dumbbells and of course your body and you’ll be set.

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?

Oh so many of us have fallen victim to the soreness that comes with that “first workout back at it” after a hiatus. I have three keys that help when you find yourself sore beyond your wildest dreams:

  1. Just keep moving! Your instinct will be to take more rest days when you are super-sore, but that is the opposite of what you should be doing. Even if you have to throttle your workouts back to simple stretching & foam rolling or your favorite slow burn yoga class your body will thank you!
  2. Prioritize your sleep. Your body cycles & regenerates growth hormones while you’re catching your ZZZs, so don’t skimp on your rest when you are kicking off a new workout routine.
  3. Glutamine, collagen, fish oil, & Magnesium. This crucial supplement regimen is something I keep in my pantry and often find myself sharing with clients and friends alike. This group of anti-inflammatory supplements are a game changer when it comes to reducing soreness and improving muscle and joint health.

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

Wow. That’s a tough one; there are so many great ones out there! When I reflected on this question one book jumped to the top of my mind, as I find myself referencing often within my work: “The One Minute Manager,” by Kenneth H. Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. It’s an important life lesson told through an engaging story: be solutions focused! So many team members and clients come my way with issues that feel insurmountable and I have the privilege to help influence the way they think to (hopefully) see beyond the problem itself and seek a solution that will work for them. I try not to focus on teaching them every solution, but rather the methodology to seek solutions. That is the main point of the book — for every problem you encounter, seek to find 2–3 possible solutions. While they might not all pan out, it’s the process of seeking solutions that in turn helps them truly start to grow, slowly discovering their way towards a growth mindset.

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 would start a practice of sharing gratitude. I know there are a lot of leaders who advocate for this, and sadly there aren’t enough people who practice it regularly. This is more than just a journaling practice — it starts to shift your mindset and allows you to be focused on seeing positive aspects of your world everywhere. It’s a game changer! It takes just minutes a day and over time (when practiced consistently) it fundamentally changes who you are!

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

So maybe 15 years ago I made picture frames with motivational quotes in them for some of my clients for Christmas. I enjoyed the project so much that I made one for myself that I still have. It’s in a gold frame & it says “We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act but a habit.” It’s a quote credited to Aristotle. I love this quote and appreciate the importance it places on consistently performing a habit to create the “excellence” we seek in our lives. Habits are exceptionally powerful, so they are most often the focus of my coaching.

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 🙂

Wow. I’m a huge fan of Rachel & Dave Hollis. They speak such positive messages to the communities they support it would be amazing to meet them and spend a little time learning from them in person. I’m also a fan of Tony & Lisa Bilyeu! Their work on Impact Theory and the Quest brand is inspiring! These two dynamic duos are crushing it out there and any opportunity to learn more from them would be simply incredible.

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

I’ll be honest I don’t post a ton of content around nutrition and fitness, but if you are interested in following my life a little bit I’d love to have you join me on my journey by giving me a follow at @juliebrownrd on Instagram.

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