Zac Potter, founder of Lion's Heart Health, is an Atlanta-based Health & Wellness teacher and author leading a whole health journey that starts from the heart. With 15+ years of training in Yoga, Weightlifting, Track & Field and Gymnastics, he meets you where you are in your health journey while focusing on balance, function and progressive performance in the pursuit of your best physical self. Zac believes firmly that our physical fitness journey is powered by something deeper—our "why"—and that health is best approached as a way to love ourselves—and others—to our fullest potential.
This episode we discuss
🌈Bringing Your Heart and Love Into Fitness
🌈Functional Strength that Supports Your Life
🌈Posture and Rehabilitating Weak Muscles
🌈Finding Internal, Sustainable Motivation
🌈Healing from the Heart Outward
Connect with Zac
Beginner Yoga Video
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My name is Zac Potter and I am an athletic trainer health coach and yeah, just a teacher, seeker.
Can you tell me the story of how you became interested in wellness in general? . When was your interest in wellness sparked?
So mine was a little more philosophical. I've always been strangely an extremist. I really want to know the end of something. And when I was in high school, I was kind of an extremist the world is pointless. I was kind of, kind of an atheist extremist as little nihilistic I would say. And I was like, this is all stupid. I'm going to smoke cigarettes and, you know, crap my body out and have fun while it lasts.
That sounds like a lot of teenagers, right.
That sounds baleen in no time, you know? Cause I'm like I'm making poor decisions. I'll probably end up dead, you know, who cares? So I was kinda in that mentality early on. As I continued to research, continue to grow in knowledge and I would go to the library and I was like, you know, What if I totally just try this other path of self-improvement, what if I kind of looked at things from a different perspective?
And when I was in high school, I was like, you know what? And I had like long hair and I wore all black and I was like, I'm going to just cut off my hair and just wear a normal shirt and I'm going to start working out and I'm going to become an impeccable shape and try to just go the opposite direction.
I'm going to start to do self-improvement. I'm just going to go the opposite direction and let's try this. And I started going down that, and it was just one thing after another of understanding how the more we learn and improve ourselves, the more we can enrich ourselves, the way we experience this life, and then also enrich others.
And at first, I was intrigued by the fact that. The healthier, we become the more ability we have to have endorphins and the stronger endorphin response that we can have. And I was like, you know what? I want to kind of get high off of being healthy. I want to feel good. I want sweat to pour out of my pores.
I want to feel strong and feel bigger. And I started to go that direction for my highs, seeking more wellness and understand that it kind of ripples in so many areas of life.
Did you kind of approach it as an experiment and you weren't sure whether or not you were going to stick with it or like it better than how you were living before?
It was an experiment. I had gone one direction. I had an epiphany where, you know, what if I just kind of turn this other page? And it kept on unfolding. Yeah. And I was totally ready if this was dumb, this was dumb, but it kept unfolding and showing itself. Cause it's just the pursuit of being your best. It really is. It's something simple and old and I had to discover it. Cause that was kind of being a rebellious kid.
Do you think in hindsight that you might have also been a little depressed? Cause a lot of teenagers struggle with depression because they're going through so many hormonal changes and then it is a little difficult at first to start looking at the reality of life.
Not everything's great and teenagers are very rigid sometimes with their sense of justice and what is fair. And I think a lot of teenagers struggle with depression.
Yeah. I was definitely deal with my depression. My specific one was I was looking at how we were destroying our ecology and we were continuing to have war on this planet.
And I was just frustrated that we hadn't got it and so long. And I was being told to, to go and get a job, you know, like go become part of the system that is not going the right direction from my eyes. You know, of course, you know, from those eyes, you're always like, well I would fix it all. You know, it made me very depressed.
I was sad. And from that kind of heaviness that I had on my heart, I did go and I took many medicines. I ended up taking Prozac. I took Welbutrin. I took a Effexor. I went through quite a few as I was trying to find out, you know, what is going to balance me chemically. And it strangely I wasn't expecting it.
But when I started working out, all of a sudden I could just feel the mood difference. After these workouts, I just felt way more balanced. And I was starting to realize that something about me. I just think that I might have to be kind of physical.
I might be a physically natured person, and if I'm not physical, I'm like an animal in a cage and I get sad.
That's so interesting because it's very rare that you hear people highlighting benefits of exercise that don't have anything to do with physical appearance. I mean, you hear it sometimes among people who maybe aren't specifically working in fitness, but usually what people sell to get people into the gym is your body's wrong here.
We can make it right, but there's so many other benefits to exercise and not everyone's body is going to respond the same way. So, so sometimes people will start working out because they came in to quote unquote, fix their body. And when they don't get the change, they were hoping for, it feels like, Hey, what's the point.
But if we maybe have looked at all the other benefits that are almost guaranteed, I mean, maybe not, everyone's going to feel exactly the same way, but. Mood improvements. Some people maybe will still need their other medications. It really depends on where you are with your anxiety and depression, but I think it would be very helpful for that to be presented that this is about totally improving your ability to do what you want to do with your life.
It isn't necessarily about changing your body. When you first had that epiphany, when did you start thinking, oh, this is something what I could, this is something I could do for a living. I could share this feeling with other people.
So it actually kind of started happening natural and that way kind of going with our passions.
I found myself sharing and expressing with people how much physical fitness changed my mood and just made me feel, more balanced. And the more I express this in the fun hobby that we can focus on on our abilities and what can I do in a very healthy way of not a comparative way where I can't do that because I promise you no matter how fit you get, you can get on YouTube and you can watch somebody 10 times fitter than you.
And you can feel horrible that you can't do a fingertip handstand pushup. You know, so no matter where it is, you can always get caught in that trap or you can get in that healthy mental posture, which I like to use analogies between physical health and mental health. But you can get in a healthy posture mentally and say, you know what, I'm fascinated with what my body can do.
Look at what I, I can do now more than what I could do instead of always looking at what's in front. And it's a really beautiful thing to do. It's an exercise of gratitude and it's a fun adventure, to start to pursue, I could do this. I didn't even think I could do that. And I think it's a healthier route instead of I want to look like this person, you know?
Right. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. And then there's people who maybe don't have the same level of physical ability period. That's not usually showcased like people who are wheelchair bound or have some other health condition that affects their mobility, but very frequently physical activity for someone who's in a wheelchair is also going to be really crucial to them feeling their best. But you just don't always see that showcased.
It's not always showcased. Cause it is, I guess it's statistically the minority, but to me it's just as special. And in those cases, it doesn't matter where you at, where you're at, it's about where you're going. So even if you are, you know, disabled in your lower back, The blessing is look at the upper body I have.
And no matter what it is, we can find adventure and play with just whatever the movement is we have with our fingers. Then we can start to grow and open up our wrists. And to me, it's about getting in healthy hygiene, just like no matter where our teeth are, we can choose to have hygiene with our oral or we can not.
And we have to forgive ourselves back to the heart, just like everything starts the heart. We have to forgive ourselves when we have neglected any area of our life, but we need to move forward and decide to try to lean into these healthy hygiene patterns, these habits. And to me, that's important. It doesn't matter where you're at.
It's about getting to these healthy hygiene hygiene habits, because they do have a reward we all here. When people take these habits over time, they say, You know, this is rewarding. So we have to find our own path, but I really love leading the path of healthy, physical hygiene habits.
Yeah. I love the way in your book you explain the foundations of health it is crucial to think about motivation in a way that's internal and that isn't influenced by outside things. Cause like you said, if you're caught in comparison, there's always going to be someone ahead of you or who maybe is stronger than you.
It's more helpful to focus on yourself, but that can be really hard to do. In this Instagram centered type of society we're in right now, how do you help your clients find what motivates them? And what's meaningful to them.
To me and what I do specifically with my clients, a lot of my clients do come from a same reason.
They've chosen that this is a healthy path and they want to, they've made this choice that they want to do regular healthy hygiene habits. And I lead them through being their best self within agility, within strength, within endurance. And it is a, I guess, a moving forward of a discipline to a degree.
Now I do think there's two pairs and I'd love for, for any of the listeners to really understand that there's these two energies to work with. You have one which is going to be what's fun and you need to find, I mean, you don't have to, but you will have a richer life if you find physical activities that you enjoy and that you can do, and really scheduling them into your life and learning and approaching them with good heart posture, not comparing yourself too much, but these are these fun things now for every bit that, that can't.
Get all of it. Imagine like if the toothbrush and how many teeth it does get to, I do think we have to have that the same thing that most of us don't enjoy brushing teeth. We just do it because you're supposed to do it. So looking at the areas that we might be missing, maybe we never get our hamstring stretched out in there and having that healthy hygiene habit that tough love discipline itself and say, you know what?
I gotta love myself. And I'm gonna take care of my hamstrings in this mix too. So I kind of, I like to link those two, let's find the sports and things that are our passions, whether it's dancing, fighting, whether it's just walking going on trails, biking, there's so many things and we do want to do that, but you might find that there's a key area of health that really gets you.
And that's an area of discipline that I think that we have to build a fire and that fire comes from our desire to love ourselves. And that is the thing we have to take a pause and be like, am I ready to love myself? And that can be kind of hard and sometimes we've got to go there and I like to use yoga and meditation to go there too.
And that's where I really like to bring in the yoga part. When we go into our yoga meditations and our breath work.
Now, when did your interest in yoga arise? When did you first realize that was going to be part of your health hygiene?
Happened about what was it around five or six years ago? I was training a lot in the Atlanta area and I was doing a lot of strength training and I did like mobility. I understood it was very necessary and I did my basic stuff, but I was like, You know what I need to partner up with somebody that's a really great Yogi and understands yoga.
Cause I'm realizing the benefits. And I love recommending it to my clients, especially if they're not very flexible. And I enjoyed taking the classes myself and I kept on looking for people and I was like, Zac, why don't you she'd just be that person. So I was like, you know, let's go, go ahead. Let's sign up for yoga classes.
And I went to Peachtree yoga, which was an amazing facility and did a 200 hour. And I love their thing. They have 200 hours that you are working with individuals, you are learning about yoga. You are correcting yoga, postures, you're learning what posture is and all of the postures that can branch from it and just really decided to grow in that area and learn so much more that I wasn't expecting so much about breath work that I didn't realize about different bond does that can help with reproductive health, with sexual health with breathing there's all these areas that I was like, oh.
I didn't even realize that that makes so much sense. So, and I included some of these they're called bond. Is there some of these bonds that we can do inside ourselves muscularly within the book as well. But that was yoga was a beautiful thing that I got about four years ago. And I've been integrating it ever since now.
One of the foundations of health that you included is physical alignment and posture. Were you aware of that before you started your yoga practice or did it become more clear that that was a foundation of wellness once you started practicing? Well, previously from my more weightlifting and gymnastics and CrossFit experience, the way that I was educated was that everything moves still from a very stiff posture.
And we must maintain this in our deadlift and where, what is it to be hunched over and too much flection or to be overextended? Where is a neutral posture? And I learned a lot of this all in the sagittal plane is a very. You know piece of anatomy and alignment, and then yoga really opened it up to show me all the movements and possibilities the body can go through.
And then as I continued in self-education, I really integrated that into understanding that we have a strong, neutral posture, but most of us are going to be in fluid variations throughout the day. And you want to be your own self. You want to be loose. You want to be free. You want your body to be your best vehicle that is aligned, that everything is centered and you can express your emotions and move fluidly from an even posture.
See, that's one of those things, like, I don't know if other people feel this way, but it feels like the point in life when it would have been easy to develop, good posture is behind me. It feels like, and even as my mother tried to correct my posture, it just didn't seem crucial. It seemed, I don't know. It just seemed like they were nitpicking, but I can see, especially with all the computer use I do now that it would've been nice.
So work on those habits. And I could feel that I have muscles that probably are weak to an odd extent, because I'm just not using them from constantly being in a slumped position. What do you look for when you're trying to find a trainer who has experience in strengthening weak muscles that are probably going to eventually lead to you being vulnerable to injury or not having a functional level of fitness?
So functional fitness, as in you could get hurt, lifting up a grocery bag or something, just the kind of injuries that sound odd to young people that are normal for older people, because. They have muscles that just are not really supporting them as they age. How do you know who is qualified to help you?
Because there seems to be so many different ways to become a certified trainer. What would you recommend people look for when they're trying to find someone who can really help.
It's really tough because there's so many variations of certifications and a lot of them are written tests, which you're going to get.
And they might be very in depth of a written test, but they do lack someone instructing and saying, you know, this is their shoulder and this is how it should set. And both individuals looking at it. Now, anyone got, that goes actually goes through chiropractic school or anyone that's a physical therapist or studies kinesiology.
These are going to be where you can really trust right from school. They've had enough practice. After that it's a little hit and miss, if they have yoga instruction, cause that's a long 200 hour, they usually understand what neutral posture is because everything's moving from it, right. With a standard trainer certification, CrossFit level one is a great introduction, but it's not going to go to the same detail is very difficult to get a CrossFit level, two certification.
So they have to really know a lot from there. I would really focus on somebody that you're getting good recommendations from that that this really shows good posture and health in front of you.
They're not the trainer that is hunched over visibly telling you how there's a degree of, of knowledge versus practical habit. But I feel like. It's not the knowledge that you want. We want the knowledge, but we want to build the habit. So we want somebody else that has built the habit to be ingraining the habit on us.
I do see a lot of people who are trainers, who are very muscular, but who don't seem to be enjoying, they don't seem like they feel free in their body. Like they're still struggling with a lot of pain, which maybe is from a previous injury. But my fantasy of course, is that you can strengthen the muscles surrounding your weak joints and become pain-free.
Is that just a dream or is that obtainable for a lot of people?
That's not a dream. That's actually usually the case. There's always outliers and things where that's not really the case. There might be a small problem, but in general, if you strengthen the smaller muscles, you're going to be able to rehabilitate yourself.
Usually this does take place from what I've witnessed. If you want a real change, you want to go through a season where you really focus on it, basically get all into it. Like, you know how we'll get into a certain hobby. You want to get into it basically for a good six weeks, couple months, really get into yoga or strength, training, Pilates.
There's several paths you can choose, but really getting into them. After that, it's more of a maintenance. You're just keeping that hygiene. But if you come in there and you've never been done it before to try to just do the maintenance, usually you're not going to see the profound results because there's a lot of work that needs to be.
Would you say Pilates is one of those practices? That's about strengthening the smaller muscle groups.
Yes. Pilates. And I would say Pilates instructors usually are pretty good at letting you know where your posture is and being able to rehabilitate that posture as well. So Pilates and yoga, Tai Chi is another one that are all very good at alignment and mobility.
The way I kind of present the main dimensions, the foundations of physical fitness, what are these main dimensions that we can look at to see am I out of balance, is strength as one how much sheer force do we have? And endurance, how much can we continue to exhibit this force with our cardiovascular systems and then agility and mobility, meaning that how can we position our body however we want smoothly and cleanly. So usually individuals will find themselves, and this is if I'm going to bring it all together I'm going to really bring the balance of the foundations, learn the foundations and find your balance in them. So often individuals who find themselves either very strong and not very flexible well, or they can't run very well.
So now we can have heart problems when we're very strong and we can deadlift a lot, but we're not very mobile. We might get injuries and we don't have cardiovascular our heart is being strained by them. Or maybe we're not that strong. Maybe it's our endurance that is up, but we're not very mobile and we keep endurance, but we have endurance with a poor posture and we run super slow like that.
And we're ingraining a poor posture, but we keep going, but we have issues with tightness and aching muscles because of poor posture or maybe it's more the agility, we're super bendy and flexy, and we can just touch your toes, but we don't have the actual muscular strength to do a pushup.
And we're actually starting to get some problems with joint stability the density of our bones, especially with females, if they lose that musculature. So usually what happens is we'll, we'll be kind of less than one of them, or we'll have a strength in one of them. And it's really important to figure out where is your strength?
It's relative. You don't have to compare yourself to an athlete, but within yourself, you usually know what type of event you would rather compete. If you had to, would it be a strength of it? Would it be an endurance event or would it be like a flexi bendy type event?
I remember those annoying physical fitness assessments they used to make you do in grade school, where they would measure your flexibility and measure your strength. The best I ever was able to do with climbing that rope was I was able to get off the ground. So I had that much upper body strength, but that was literally it. Like, I could never get beyond that. It always blew my mind to see people who could get from the floor to the roof of the gym and no time flat. And these weren't athletes, these were just students who, played when they felt like it and just happened to have that type of strength. So some people just are naturally predisposed to have more ability in certain areas.
100%. And I will say, since you brought up school, I want you to know I took those tests too.
And I was so anxious. I was so bad at it. It was just a horrible experience. I just didn't want to be there. I knew I sucked.
Everybody was going to watch me fail in all these ways. It was the worst thing ever. Kids can be kinda rough, you know, and it's like, and I think we need more teaching about caring and loving and virtues in school, but that's a separate topic.
But you know, I felt that too, and we're here adults and I had to go through an adult phase where I kind of re encountered wellness and was like, okay, let me try a push up from a completely different heart, you know, a different mindset than when I was being judged previously by people. So I really do recommend to, as we look at fitness, it's about how you step forward into it and it can change the way the movements even feel.
But I do believe certain people have more of a strength in one than other, and that's why it's important to kind of find out, celebrate your strengths, but find your weaknesses and work on them.
Oh yeah. That makes it, that's a really, really good point. I know that some practices can be gentle if you don't have an aptitude. Right? So if you decided to start out with yoga, as long as you're not comparing yourself to other people, pushing yourself into painful positions, it could be a great place to start. And I've heard the same about Pilates since it's basically always been about rehabilitation, but it feels so, so, so difficult.
Maybe you can't get hurt doing it, but it feels so intense. Where do you recommend people start? How comfortable do you need to be with being uncomfortable? Not necessarily in pain, but just feeling like, oh, this is hard. I don't want to do it. Is that something that everyone is going to have to walk through or is there a mindset that you can take on to get around that?
I think everybody goes to a different path, but I feel like I deal with the same stuff every day with, you know, something I have to kind of pump myself up to. And certain things are easier and there is mental posture, but with it, with somebody just getting started you can always try yourself. And here's two lanes.
Two is a singular fitness and group fitness. And this is a big division of finding which type of person you are. Some people can work out by themselves. They don't have a problem. They can schedule it a certain time. They don't want a bunch of people around them and they do great in that environment.
Other individuals don't do so well by themselves. They can't get motivated. They can't really push themselves. They thrive in a more social environment. They're literally going to get a better workout if they even psychologically, even if they're meeting via zoom and they're going to meet their friend at seven o'clock and they're going to do a class on zoom, something like that, it just makes you more psychologically engaged.
So you have to kind of figure out which one is yours. If you're new and you're doing it. Watch some some yoga videos you can try on, on my website, which we will have linked for you, but I've got some yoga videos. You can try out yourself. If you want to try some mild yoga, try YouTube, you can just search around, figuring out what you like, start with anything that says beginner.
And if you have to do it social though, you just have to do it, you know, go out and take a walk, charge yourself up and, you know, get in the best mindset. You can just have to jump sometimes.
That really makes sense. And it's really helpful to be self-aware and know. Do you want that social environment? Do you not? Some people are kind of neutral, but there are a lot of people who are on either end of that extreme. And they're just not going to be able to be consistent if they feel like they get irritated every time they have to go into a group exercise environment, you really have to know yourself and set this up in a way that works for you.
I like that in the foundations book, you also address setting up a routine, setting up an environment that supports you, really things that require self-awareness so that all of this becomes part of your life in a way that suits you as an individual.
A hundred percent that was really important. We have in the book, I basically take people through a series of steps. There's a few major areas. And the first step is, is that we want to find our, why, you know, it all begins from there. And then we go through the next step is, is get screened. Let's see if you have any kind of a issue, you know, below the scenes or within your alignment, how are we in, in alignment with our posture?
What do we need to do about that? Then I want us to look at our fitness, like we were talking about. So what, what are my passions to do? Where am I at physically? Am I imbalanced? Am I super strong, but I don't have endurance. Just kind of, where am I at? So I can plan whether I'm already good or if I need to work on something, let's get that and get a workout routine started.
Next part is you don't have to do them in this order, but let's look at our diet. Let's examine it. You know, let's see what's going on. And let's find a healthy relationship with our food that benefits us long-term and then the fifth thing is it's actually all kind of connected as the lifestyle is looking at what you were just saying is looking at what is my week, and how does that pertain to my goal?
And that's where it all really, really begins is what do I want in life? And ask them, seen that question, which I tell you. And I don't know how many times you have to do this occasionally too. I think it's healthy. Sometimes. I like to sit back. Yeah. All right, Zac, what do you want? What do you want in your life?
And really get in touch with that, like breathe, what do I want? Cause you know, you get juggling so many things. What is it really that you want? I like to recenter and just start to rebuild back from a good foundation of what I'm going to do now this week. And I like to chart it out, but sometimes I'll let it go chaotic too.
But I think it's good for it. One season where every once in a while to kind of reset and look at, you know, what do I want and how does this week, how has it taking me closer to that?
I think that's really helpful. I mean, I know I was just talking to somebody actually today who reminded me once again, you know, you have to weigh out what works best for you and listen to your intuition.
And that is a recurring theme for me, learning to listen to my gut, learning, to listen to my body, learning, to allow my internal wisdom to lead. So much of the training we get and the socialization we get tells you, you can't trust yourself. You can't trust your own judgment. You always have to find some outside source to tell you what to do, how to do it, and why. Even that tension you were feeling as a teenager that you felt like you saw, hey, as a human family, we have bigger fish to fry. And everybody's telling me to worry about getting a job, right. You're told from childhood what is supposed to be the big thing on your radar. And if you say, I don't know, I feel like there's something else we should be looking at.
Everyone tells you, you don't know what you're talking about because you're a child. And then this just continues. So many times you feel like, you know what you want to do with your life, but you can't find some outside source that says, you're right. This is a good idea. Go do it. And for a lot of people, that's where it stops.
If they can't find someone to say, oh yeah, you're okay. This is okay. We can validate this for you. A lot of people don't feel comfortable trusting themselves because they've been trained not to. That's a real barrier for a lot of people. When you ask what's important to you and what do you want?
That can be a really hard question to answer. If you're not used to asking yourself these things.
I agree a hundred percent. And I believe there's a duality between our independent self and the piece that we are in this garden. Whether you look at this from a completely more atheist perspective where, you know, we're all a part of a biological system, well, it's still an ecosystem.
And we're one part of that. Or if you look at it in a more spiritual perspective where we are part of a garden, the life is here, love is exchanged, it's given, it's received. And we're part of this equation and how are we part of the responsibility of unity. So I think it's this balancing game that we have to learn and we have to figure out how that plays.
How does our individual mixed with our, our unified soul and how are they supposed to work in on a Tuesday, you know? And that is, that is a journey that I think that we all have to, I guess we don't have to confront, we can kind of roll through, but I think that we can have a richer and more conscious and fully aware experience if we do confront these different areas of our life.
And I think that's part of us being able to heal as a world.
So much of what you write is centered on the heart, not just the physical functions that the heart has, but also the metaphorical heart, maybe the more poetic heart. Do you see that wellness is something that everyone could tap into to become the most loving version of themselves? Are those two things connected to you, and why do you think that is?
To me, they're they're directly related. I feel like if we're taking care of ourselves, we're loving ourselves. I think it already is there. Now. I think there's a lot to do with intent. You know, if our intent is to not love ourselves, we may be providing in one way, but we're not aligned in our heart.
To me, to love yourself is to invest in your health and wisdom to me, is that the healthier we are and the stronger we are the more we develop ourselves, the more we have the potential to love others as well. And it's just a fact, we don't have to do this, but the stronger we are, the more we can wield our strength for love here in this world.
So to me, our health in all dimensions is deeply connected with love. So that is, that is something I hope that individuals connect more into, to take care of yourself is to love yourself. And the more you take care of yourself, the more you can love others. And that if you want to love your family, if you want to love others, one avenue of many, but one avenue is to take care of yourself cause they love you and they don't want to see you hurt.
I think the intent is crucial. So is it possible that two people could be at the same gym and one person being there and working out is a manifestation of their love for themselves and the other person doing the same physical activity it could be a manifestation of punishment and the absence of love for themselves.
I do. I agree, a hundred percent and one person is a lot happier than the other person. And I don't want to be the person that's chasing something that will never be caught. And I do have this, this almost gut feeling that the person that is, is working out in high stress in a negative emotion set is probably at a higher risk of disease getting you, there's just something about the stress you can feel versus the person that peace with themselves.
That's interesting. There are so many things that we don't know yet when it comes to nutrition when it comes to the human body. And I think that's going to become clearer later, that intention affects everything. There are some small studies to indicate that just what someone thinks about an activity changes, how their body responds to an activity. You could tell a group of people, this thing you do for work every day, it is exercise it counts. And you'll see more benefits in that group that you tell that.
And the other group that thinks, oh, this is just work. It doesn't count a workout has to occur in this one setting and they won't see the same level of benefit. So I would imagine that starting with mindset is crucial and skipping that step, or at least not bringing it along in the process could make it hard to get to where you're trying to go, and make it a painful process emotionally.
New year's resolutions and the pursuit of a certain type of body can just become another source of harm instead of a healing source that it can be. If you go in with a different spirit.
A hundred percent, a hundred percent. I think that I think it all starts from the heart. And I think the more we get in touch with our heart, the more we can move from good intentions and start to feel a passion, a connection an obligation.
A lot of people get up and go to work because they know they have to for their kids, but often we don't have the same connection of how much we love ourselves to get up and go to the gym to go up, to get to the yoga mat. So I think that when we root these things, because when we get when I get up and I go brush my teeth, I don't think about it.
I've already made this decision. And I think when we get into the heart of, this is what I need to do to take care of myself. And once I, once again, you can make it a fun thing. A lot of these are fun, but as a whole, when you're like, I'm going to be healthy because I need to do this for myself and I'm going to do it.
It's just to me, it's the right posture to move from and you can grow and you can add to that, but that is a foundation to start to move from.
Some of these habit-building things are tricky because it's been forever but I'm sure trying to convince us that brushing our teeth every day was important was a hard sell because it's not entertaining. And there's still a lot of people who, even though they do brush their teeth every day, they still don't do it the way the dentists say you're supposed to. They definitely don't do it for the two minutes. They don't rotate to different parts of the mouth. How do you gently help yourself? Focus on the parts of wellness that are not fun.
A great example to me is physical therapy. I know so many people who at different points went in for physical therapy because they have a chronic nagging pain because of something that's not going to get better, right.
Degeneration between your discs, or maybe you've got excess scarring from an old sports injury. And if you want to feel your best, you have to continue doing your physical therapy exercises. But almost everyone finds those exercises really, really boring. They're not meant to be fun.
They're effective. What do you need to do around that? I mean, you've spoken to it, but it still feels a little elusive.
So that is, that's a deep heart posture. Let's go to the pragmatic, the practical. I love the strategy of hookah habit with a habit. Alright if you already have something that you do, what you do is you say, you know what, when I do this, I'm going to do that.
With physical therapy, one of the things I do with my clients because all of my clients it's pretty much everybody has something they should be working on a tighter area or an injury that has happened from the past. So when we first start our workouts, we do a warmup and we focus on any kind of rehab prehab.
And in all the workouts, that I cue, when I do them, I have online workouts as well on my website, I say, we're about to get warmed up. This is now the time that you can do that five-minute prehab rehab that you need to do anyway, and I say it just go ahead and do it.
And then we're going to get our jog in and we're going to do that. So hooking a habit, wherever that is, there's often a thing we already naturally do, and we can do those things that we don't want to do, or it can be more fun. Like every time we go underneath this doorway, we're going to do a pull-up and we can't do a pull-up you do hanging shrugs, you hang and you just shrug your shoulders three times before, you know, it you'll be doing hanging tucks before, you know, it you'll be doing pull up negatives and it just continues to progress.
Oh, I love that since I can't do pull-ups that there's an, there's an in-between for a while. That was a goal of mine. And then I gave up because of a lot of things, gendered things I've been told about cis-gendered women and upper body strength. I was basically told, just forget it. You're never going to do one, but I've seen other women do it.
So surely it's possible.
A pull-up is an extremely hard feat of strength and yes, some people are natural warriors and they just do it because they were born like that. But in general, a pull-up is a very hard area of strength. If you're like determined, I'm going to do this thing. You can be able to do a pull-up.
It's not going to be easy. You know, it'll be less than a full-time job. I guarantee you, it will not be 40 hours a week. It will be way less than that, but it might be closer to five or six hours a week, you know, you might have to put in some hours, but it's totally possible.
Okay. Okay. That's good to know. That sounds very realistic. I also want to talk about your book of poetry. So you have one book of work. That's like a textbook level, university-level book on the foundations of health. And then you also have a book of poetry. What inspired you to create the book of poetry?
I really believe that everything going on in this world all comes down to individuals, making choices from their hearts. I believe that we have a bunch of humans that are a bunch of hearts and our problem, our very foundational problem is us not seeking love or not understanding wisdom or being in the scars of unforgiveness. I think it's all these heartfelt things is the basis of what we might do intellectually and physically.
So this is a belief I have, and there's usually in most religions, they have this and a certain figure will tell you that, you know, you still need to abide by these laws of conduct and love and things like this, but they're all a little different, but still in the core of it, we have to love, they all say that we're supposed to love.
It's almost like everybody already knows in your instinct. Love is the answer. It's hard to get people to disagree with love being the answer. So with, with this deep connection and belief that love is the answer and that our path to any kind of health is going to be healthier hearts. I really wanted to write a book and share my knowledge about what I've learned from my experience just as a human seeker.
And what I understand about love and wisdom and gratitude and unity, to start a conversation, a deeper conversation to start to, to bring our focus towards these as a people. And 2020, I've been wanting to do this for a while and I've been writing 2020 was really a tough year. And as everything escalated, I was like, I need to go ahead and write this just for my own sake.
I want to put out what my thoughts and my understandings, what I've learned from others about love is, and I started to do it and I just know I've always been a creative writer and I've done some side poetry and things like that. I was like, you know what, no one wants a textbook about love. Let's make like a pocket poetry book about the different colors, the different aspects of virtue. Like if I was going to make an elemental table of what we need, the vitamins, this world needs, what would this elemental table look like? So I'd been putting that together and I put that together in a book of poetry and graphic pictures where we just kind of go through these different elements of the healthy heart and virtue from a more poetic artistic standpoint because one would say you can't define love.
You know, that's a very, you're not allowed to, that's part of the title is we never even try even artistically. That's not good. We should be trying to figure out what is love so we can love. So I take us through a journey and I have these different areas where questions are the key, and we are asked certain questions, which everyone's going to have a different answer, but it's an area of heart, which, which area do you need to, to reignite?
Or what area do you need to forgive? Where's the area that you need to let go of? What's the fear we need to face these kinds of classic questions, which I see like classic exercises, like a push-up you can never go wrong with a pushup. You can never go wrong with asking, what do I need to let go of in my life today?
I like that idea of being the answer to your own questions. And there's a section where you address the forgiveness, really not necessarily being about letting just any kind of toxic person into your life, but setting boundaries so that you can be heart-centered and also protect yourself and stand up for yourself.
So there's a lot of people who have trouble being open-hearted because they've been through so much, or maybe they're still in a situation or in a country that continues to abuse them. It takes a lot of strength to be able to keep your heart open when you keep feeling like the traumas, just keep on coming.
So what are some practices that you've seen other people have used to be able to keep that space healthy, no matter what's happening around them.
Some kind of a centering practice is really important. I've seen many people go different paths. The path that I choose, I go on a daily walk. Sometimes I go in a very light jog.
I try not to get out of breath or go faster or beat a time. I try to use the thing to go internal. So I use that to say, how are you feeling today, Zac? What do you need to let go of where do you need to receive? So I basically take myself through just like a conversation, a centering with myself.
Sometimes I'll do breath work where I don't go outside. And I just sit down with myself and I take deep breaths and I kind of scan like self-clean sometimes the questions that I'll ask are very verbal. Sometimes it's just the way it feels. I just am feeling in different areas of myself. If I do a breath practice, it might take five or 10 minutes, sometimes 15. If I do a walk, I might go for 10, maybe 20 minutes. Depends. But I do it every morning as hygiene from my heart. So whatever that is, some kind of a space you make, a safe space you make for yourself that you can get into and really check yourself, clean the filter out, whatever it happens to be.
That sounds like a moving meditation.
Yeah. So jogging or walking is a moving meditation. And you can do that. You do not have to be sitting still to meditate, any kind of repetitive motion. And walking is one of the easiest ones, but there's a variety of paths where we do repetitive motions and we get into a place where we go inside while the motion continues.
That's why a lot of people, a lot of people, a lot of people find running like boring. I'm like, no, you don't just watch each step. You like zone out, you go into a trance and you go inside. So that's, that's where I go in the morning. And a lot of people are already meditated. They've been doing it for years.
They didn't know. They just thought they love jogging and they think about a lot while they jog.
I think I started to hear that from a lot of people who said that their job was their time and they needed it for their sanity, but depending on how densely populated their city was at the beginning of the pandemic.
People were encouraged not to go out and jog. And then people realized, oh, this was a crucial part of my mental health care. Like, this is why this was never just about moving my body. It obviously was helping them manage their stress. And that was a time for them to really decompress. Yeah. I don't think everybody recognizes their coping tools sometimes for what they are, which is also nice.
And that, that tells you that you can intuitively have a stress management tool, a tool that puts you in a trance-like state or a flow state, even with nobody telling you, oh, this is the way for you to do it. So that's nice to know that if you trust yourself, you may find the perfect form of meditation for yourself.
Almost no guidance, or maybe you just need to remember what that was for you.
I agree. I love the concept of using intuition and it's an old concept of listening to that voice and you have to open your ear and you have to get connected with that voice that wants to guide you towards your best self in different areas.
And it'll have a little, little sprinkles of wisdom if you just kind of let it go. And you're like, oh wow, I'm meditating now. I didn't know that.
Yeah. Oh, that's awesome. I love also in foundations, you mentioned as the number one tip or the first tip on the list for finding the dietary pattern that works for you was again, to listen to yourself.
So that is, an ongoing theme. And I think that is underemphasized, not even underemphasized. Usually, that's not the advice that people will give you that maybe want you to be dependent on them. But then there are other people out there like you who are offering wellness services, healing services, coming from a more helpful place than just come on in and get dependent just give me your money type, type of situation. You've seen that vibe at other places where it's like, I want the best for you, but you can only get there with me and you can only get there this way. And you can only, which is never true. You know, there's so many different ways to get to where you want to be.
So I like that framing and encouraging people to check in with themselves as they're going through this process.
A hundred percent. I think I always want people to not need me anymore. I want them to learn these habits so they don't have to come to me, especially I love training people when they first begin, because I love teaching these fundamentals to people, getting them started developing patterns, and then watching them kind of go off on their own and seeing them as they progress.
It's amazing, but I love teaching these basics and I do think that that first basic is getting in tune with your heart. We all know the negative messages that can get in our head. And that is a skill part of that art of leaning towards that warm thing that you have witnessed to give to bear fruit.
There's a certain voice that has led you ways. And after the words you felt better, and that is the voice we have to learn to hear the voice of and the others we have to understand them . They tell you that you're not good enough that tell you, you don't deserve it to tell you you're never going to make it.
Those, the voices that we need to know that are liars, you know, there's the ones that need to, to go away . So I think it's about learning to, to lean into the right messages that are internal.
Yeah, I will say that even though there's more than one way to get to wherever you want to go, that the fastest progress I've ever had with feeling like my strength was improved, my balance was improved, was always with a trainer and that could also be my learning style or my fitness style having somebody there, even if I know how to correct my posture on a machine, will I do it? I don't know. I know I'll do it. If there's somebody there watching me, but if it feels easier to do it the wrong way, I might do it the wrong way left to my own devices.
So I know it's been very helpful for me, but it's good to be aware of how you are going to function at your best when it comes to what type of guide do you want on your fitness journey?
A hundred percent of you have a tutor with you. You're always going to be in better hands. And then I, myself, I will train harder if I have someone training me because I have somebody, there's an energy there. There's so many different layers of commitment that had happened when somebody is there and we're beating together to work on me. So I highly, highly recommend that in all areas, within counseling as well, to go ahead and connect with a mentor and finding a person that if you do need things to talk about with mental health, there's nothing to be ashamed of.
It's just like if your hamstrings are tight, feel free, find somebody you can talk to and start to work it out. Maybe you don't use it all the time. But create those bridges in all areas. So I'm very big into having mentors and tutors in different areas of your life.
I find that a lot of people who are either doing coaching, doing training, they also get that service from someone else.
So it isn't. It isn't something that you say, oh, I never need this anymore. I'm done. I'm perfect. Now it could be helpful at any point.
It can be at any point and another great one is once you get your basics to find a friend that does too and connect, and that's where I love working with another person, that's on the same level of me.
And we kind of push each other in a healthy way and finding somebody that you have a good vibe back and forth. Because if you go ahead and say, I'll meet you there at the gym or wherever you're going to do at that time, you're going to commit, you know, if we're going to meet at zoom at 6:00 PM, I'm going to be there.
And I really want to make sure that I give my best and they give their best. It's fun.
Yeah. Yeah. I love that the emphasis on time and the vibe is important because I've been mismatched before. When I was running a lot with someone we get along we're friends, but we always feel competitive around each other.
That's how we play together. And whenever we work out together, one of us gets injured. So you have to be aware, you have to pick your workout partners carefully.
I would love to close out with a little bit of the book of poetry if you have a part that you feel called to read.
I'll read the, a loved one wisdom one. And I want to add the will cause I really think those are the three pieces of fire that, that move to, to let things really happen and manifest and beauty and love in our lives.
So. All right. Are you ready? Here we go. This is from defining love.
Love the aim of all lessons and purpose of life. Learn and move in these dimensions. Uproot, earthly strive. Thought than action. Love is purely a verb to give and receive is satisfaction. Life's healing herb, seeing wants, and need love, protects, and provides through thoughts and deed love nurtures and guides.
So that leads off the love chapter and the leading poem for the wisdom chapter:
Love is the goal, but wisdom is the way the path to understand what to do and say. The greatest skill of life's game. Take note of its priority. The strategy of highest gain. Your choice is true authority. Wandering upon life's gears wise eyes will see. Balancing real and ideal what's best for you and me.
So that leads off the wisdom chapter, and we go into different elements of wisdom and then the will, which kind of unifies three of these powerful elements.
If wisdom is the way will is the walk, it's time for work. No more talk. This is the hour to find the power. Rise, courage, persevere, brave past all fear. Focus sight, build might for love's great fight.
Stop wandering. How another excuse doesn't allow the time to act is now.
That's the perfect way to wrap. That's really beautiful for people who maybe aren't going to have a chance to look at the show notes what is the best way for people to follow your work and where should they go to grab a copy of the books?
The best place to go is
and you can buy the books there. And you can learn more if you are just getting started. I've got some great tools because I want to provide leadership and tools. So the book, one of the books is available on Amazon and the other book is just available through the web is a website.
So you can either see me on Amazon or through the website, but come and check me out.
Awesome. Thank you so much for coming on.
Thanks for having me.