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  • Writer's pictureDieting From The Inside Out

Andrew Coates on Re-writing Narratives, Dealing with Negative Self-Talk, & Success | DFIO Ep.271

About Today’s Episode:

In today's episode, I interview a friend of mine—Andrew Coates.

He's a wealth of knowledge, is one of the GOATs of the fitness industry, and I am so grateful that he came on the show to share some of his knowledge with you all today.

We get into a LOT in this episode, like, why most people fail, why so many don’t make it to their transformation goal, the commonalities of the people who have the most successful transformations, mindset, and more!

There’s a ton of great information here and I hope you all really enjoy the episode. Let’s get into it!


Transcript (click to expand)

Catching Up With Andrew:

Andrew is in a place where he feels fulfilled with a variety of projects. He chooses this type of terminology purposefully because he finds that many people wear “being busy” as a badge of honor.

Andrew finds that most people tend to be very good at filling their time with small tasks to make themselves feel productive, but they distract themselves from the big picture that leads to growth—both on a personal and professional level.

An example he uses is people being too busy to cook and prepare meals. He recommends auditing what makes you so busy. If you spend a lot of time on social media, seem to be all caught up on your favorite TV shows, or are just filling your schedule with busy work—you have great a place to start.

Where to Start When You’re Busy:

Andrew states that we—as humans—are post-rationalization machines. We build a narrative around the way we already are.

Andrew believes that everyone is an “emotional buyer.” Buying is not limited to strictly the financial sense, but every choice you make is buying—and convincing others of something is selling.

All of our decisions—the food we eat, the people we spend time with, etc.—are emotionally driven and propped up by stories and narratives that are rooted in cultural and familial beliefs and influences.

These things are your default beliefs and attitudes—which you need to question, rather than blindly accept. Ask why.

Asking why opens the door to changing behaviors.

It’s not that you can’t enjoy simple things—like if you have a favorite TV show—but again, you need to be mindful and audit what you are doing and how you are spending your time.

Look at the volume of wasted time.

It’s easier to sit in your rationalizations than to challenge them, but a massive key to success is challenging those stories and re-writing those narratives.

Andrew encourages listeners to read Atomic Habits by James Clear to set a solid foundation.

Re-writing Your Identity:

Starting out, you have to get a very clear picture of what you want, then, it’s simply a matter of reverse engineering it.

Andrew really likes the exercise of envisioning yourself in 5 years and asking, “If you continue to do what you're doing, would you be healthier? Would you be happier? Would you feel better? Would you be at maintenance or would your health decline?”

This humanizes the future you and helps you realize that future you is beholden to the decisions you are making now. Humanizing the future you makes you much more likely to give yourself empathy.

Then, ask yourself, “What would I like to be? What are my hobbies, activities, and interests?”

How do you reverse engineer that? What do you have to do in order to achieve it? What behaviors do you need to do on a fairly consistent basis?

Next, identify the bottlenecks in your immediate life to the things that you need to do to be who you want to be.

It comes back, once again, to challenging your narratives.

The person who has the most control over your choices and your outcomes is you. You need to take ownership.

Even people or things who may truly interfere, once you have taken ownership and challenged those narratives, you will find a way to go around—you’ll either find solutions or will simply continue making progress in spite of the interference.

Andrew uses the example of being a working parent of two young children.

Many parents are busy—juggling home and work—and feel they don’t have time for themselves.

However, there are those out there—with young kids and full-time jobs—who make it to the gym, prepare their meals, get enough sleep, etc., because they want to be healthy for their kids and their careers—they have made those things non-negotiable and part of their identity.

Once again, you have to change your narratives and beliefs about why you can’t do something—they can be changed.

Jared finds that people are inclined to simply believe everything they think rather than challenge those thoughts—which is why we self-sabotage.

Negative Self-Talk:

Andrew states that we don’t see our true selves in the mirror when it comes to the physical realm—and we don’t necessarily believe the kindest things about ourselves and our abilities.

We engage in a lot of negative self-talk.

That negative self-talk is a constant emotional beat down. It’s akin to having an abusive relationship with yourself.

What would happen if you removed that negative self-talk, if you could make that self-abuse go away?

What would change in your life if you changed the way you talked to yourself about yourself?

Stopping Negative Self-Talk:

Andrew says it starts with recognizing that you are engaging in negative self-talk. Oftentimes, people engage in negative self-talk so often that they don’t even realize it’s happening.

You have to question it. It starts with awareness and recognition.

You also need to be kind and patient with yourself while you work on it.

You need to learn to recognize your shame triggers, like a mother who makes snide comments about your weight. That same mom might be great when it comes to career advice—but not for your health and fitness.

Learning to recognize these shame triggers will help you not bring up specific topics around certain people.

Building awareness around your negative self-talk—and your shame triggers—allows you to set boundaries.


Your non-negotiables tie into your identity. You need to build an identity around the behaviors you want to foster.

Creating these identities takes time.

For Andrew, his workouts are non-negotiable. He has been very dedicated to strength training workouts for a long time, but he really struggled with doing low-intensity cardio.

Reading is also non-negotiable, but his time is limited so he listens to a lot of audiobooks—even though he really enjoys reading.

Knowing that he doesn’t enjoy cardio and struggles to find time to read, Andrew started reading while riding the recumbent bike. He found it much easier to get his cardio in and now has time for the reading that he enjoys. It’s something he looks forward to now instead of struggling with it.

Andrew says you have to be careful about your non-negotiables because many people will set unrealistic goals—like a New Year's resolution to stop eating all sugar, for example.

This unrealistic goal is used to prove the narrative that they couldn’t do it.

So often, people set themselves up to fail and simply revert back to the way they were before—until they once again become emotionally uncomfortable with being stuck.

Nutrition is also a non-negotiable for Andrew.

He outlines a very realistic method for improving your nutritional habits by putting all the food you eat into metaphorical buckets.

Bucket 1: All the foods you eat and enjoy that are relatively healthy

Bucket 2: Mediocre food that you eat out of convenience (these foods aren’t things you actually enjoy)

Bucket 3: Non-negotiable treats that you love (oftentimes people think these are the things they have to give up)

Do everything you can to remove the bucket 2 items from your diet.

Focus on eating the bucket 1 foods that you enjoy and that make you feel good.

And have your bucket 3 treats every once in a while.

A caveat is that you have to be an adult with this—you can’t only eat your bucket 3 foods and you have to eat reasonable portions. It’s okay to have some pizza on the weekend, but not every night.

By building in things that you get to look forward to, that you love—the real treats—you’re much more likely to say no to the impulsive crap along the way.

Be mindful of your total calorie intake (if you’re tracking), but focus on the healthy foods you love and increase your intake of the vegetables you enjoy.

Misguided, Dangerous Narratives in the Health Industry:

Andrew goes on to talk about the narrative in the fitness space that the relationship between you, your body weight, and your health is poor. That just because someone lost fat—or is leaner—it doesn’t mean that they are healthy.

While it’s true that you can’t know what is going on in another person’s life and there are small portions of the population who are a “normal weight” or underweight who have disordered eating and poor relationships with food, there is a much larger portion of the population that is overweight—or obese—and unhealthy.

Andrew finds this narrative to be disempowering for those who are overweight and want to change their lives because these fitness/health professionals are telling them they are healthy and they are fine—when that person who wants to change doesn’t feel healthy or fine.

He advises listeners to question whether those voices really have your best interest in mind.

Some of the professionals that preach this message do have a lot of good information, but you need to be mindful because there are many who are simply playing into a demographic and attempting to build a brand.

Andrew's Upcoming Conference:

Andrew is putting on a conference on October 13-14, 2023 that is going to knock your socks off with the speaker list, which includes names such as: Don Saladino, Luka Hocevar, Dr. Gabrielle Lyon, Dr. Sam Spinelli, Dean Somerset, Lee Boyce, Bryan Krahn, Muscle Doctor Jordan Shallow, Logan Dubé, Hannah Gray, Krista Scott-Dixon, Kelsey and Dennis Heenan, and (barring any scheduling conflicts) Christian Thibaudeau.


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Post-Production by: David Margittai | In Post Media

© 2023 Jared Hamilton



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