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  • Writer's pictureDieting From The Inside Out

Creating Lasting & Sustainable Change with Sal Di Stefano | DFIO Ep.255

About Today's Episode:

Welcome back to another episode of Dieting From The Inside Out. I am so excited about this episode! Today, I am interviewing Sal Di Stefano from Mind Pump.

If you’re somehow not familiar with it, Mind Pump is one of the most popular podcasts within the fitness, weight loss, and transformation space. Sal is known as the “wisest man within the fitness industry,” and he is all about teaching this information from the deeper side, and how to make long-lasting change.

In today’s interview, you guys are going to learn about how to go about your transformation in a deeper way for long-term, sustainable change, how to enjoy the process, and how to become the kind of person who loves to take care of themselves the right way—where you can live a happy life, not deprive yourself, and love the way you look and feel.

If you’re struggling with how to lose weight in a sustainable way, how to enjoy the process, and want to build an amazing foundation of the inner game, you will get a TON from this episode.

Let’s get into it!


00:00 Intro

02:24 Sponsors

Transcript (click to expand)

Fitness as a Lifelong Journey:

Sal believes that the only way to go about weight loss, health, and fitness is to go deep. He observes that most people who get into fitness are looking for lasting changes—which can only come about when you go beyond the surface.

He has noticed that many people have a fundamental misunderstanding about what it looks like to do this forever, noting that life-long fitness requires fundamental changes to one’s life, views, and thoughts.

Fitness is a never-ending journey, but many approach it as a destination—i.e. lose 20 lbs.

Sal admits it is alluring, and even easier, to sell fitness in a way that says “take these steps and then you’re there,” but the conversation needs to change for it to be sustainable.

Where Bottlenecks Happen:

To start, most people approach fitness from the perspective of a result that they are looking for—losing a certain number of pounds, sculpting their body a certain way, etc.

Then, they think they can tolerate all the hard changes—like workouts, not having certain foods, waking up/going to sleep at a certain time—to get this particular outcome, but they do not consider what they will have to do for the rest of their lives.

They are thinking about it in a short-term scope and aren’t asking themselves if they can do this for the rest of their life.

Sal believes that the only part you should pay attention to is your lifestyle because that is the only thing you can control. How you look, feel, and your health and wellness is a reflection of your lifestyle.

Your lifestyle is something that has to be done forever, but the process will have to evolve naturally.

As you get older, circumstances surrounding work or family can change.

Sal states that you have to accept that it’s a journey. You need to understand that the important components of the journey—exercise, nutrition, lifestyle, spiritual practice, etc.—may change over time, but this is a forever thing.

It also isn’t something that you can figure out later. You have to choose to either enjoy the process or not.

If you choose to not enjoy the process, you will necessarily hate it and thus hate your life.

Again, you have to accept that it's a forever thing. You have to choose to find value and meaning in it and enjoy it.

To define what he means by enjoy, Sal uses the example of when he met his wife: they both expressed that they liked hiking, but Sal thought of hiking as regular trails. His wife, however, enjoyed much more treacherous hikes.

He was in a situation where he was thinking “this sucks.”

The hikes were hard and scary. When his future wife asked him what he thought, Sal admitted that he had expected something different.

Her response was that this was “type 2 enjoyment.” She explained that type 1 enjoyment was fun in the moment, but type 2 enjoyment was fun when you look back and think, “Wow. I did that. That was awesome.”

Sal shares this story because when it comes to health and fitness—though you will sometimes have fun and enjoyment in the moment—you have to actively pursue enjoying the journey.

Part of learning to enjoy the life-long journey of health and fitness requires a shift in thinking about things like diet and exercise.

There has to be a fundamental change in your thinking.

For example, if you view exercise as a punishment—you won’t enjoy it.

So then why would you do it?

Because you “hate your body, or belly, or your flabby arms.”

When it comes to diet, if you view your diet as a necessary evil where you have to restrict yourself, it will always suck.

If you view it as, “my body needs to be cared for, so I’m going to the gym to take better care of myself,” exercise becomes a very different experience from when you approach it as something you are doing because you hate the way you look.

It’s the same with diet. If you look at your food and think, “I deserve to be healthy and I deserve to be taken care of,” your diet becomes that type 2 enjoyment.

This self-care approach also impacts your attitude when you have bad days.

Sometimes you will need a day off from the gym, and if you have a self-care mindset you will be able to recognize those times—as opposed to feeling like you need to force yourself because you hate the way you look.

Eventually, when you are forcing yourself to exercise and diet and you aren’t enjoying it, you will either get sick of it and give up or rebel and over-indulge.

Sal uses the example of hanging out with old friends you haven’t seen in a long time: if you are using the self-care approach, you will recognize that connecting with these friends and going out to eat at a favorite restaurant is a good thing for you in that moment; but if you are looking at your diet as a restriction, you’ll likely resist going out until you get sick of it and end up over-indulging.

Sal says that everyone gets caught up in the “how.”

How do I maximize my sleep?

How do I burn the most fat?

While that is important, you must work on the fundamental change in your thinking and enjoyment of the journey.

If you do that foundational work, you will find the optimal diet, exercise routines, etc. for yourself. You’ll figure it out because you’d be doing it for the right reasons.

Sal emphasizes that this process is not easy.

It is very easy to judge oneself because you know yourself best—all your strengths and weaknesses.

It is a conscious process. You have to consciously create new neural pathways by practicing the thought process you want.

He says this conscious process of changing your thinking is more important than the diet and exercise components.

Sal points out that studies have shown that people who want to lose weight and only go to therapy have a higher success rate than people who hire nutritionists and sign up for classes.

Even though the therapist doesn’t know about diet and exercise, they are working on the root of the issue. They succeed because they go deep. It’s not just “looking better-being more fit-we’re done.”

Sal says you just need to look at the success rate—or failure rate—of weight loss.

Millions of people will lose weight this year, and 90% of those who lost weight will gain it back within a year.

Every time you try to lose weight and fail, you are closer to never trying again.

He says this is why the message of obesity being a disease that we don’t have control over gains popularity—because it makes sense when you lose and gain over and over again; when you have really tried, but it never seems to work.

Sal apologizes to the listeners out there who have experienced this because he recognizes that many people in the health and fitness industry do not explain fitness in the right way.

He believes the primary reason for this is that fitness fanatics do not realize they are talking to non-fitness fanatics.

Messages like “get up and do it anyway,” or “food is just fuel,” are not effective for non-fitness fanatics.

The fitness industry is good at convincing people of the latest diet and exercise programs, but very bad at communicating the eternal aspect of health and fitness.

The Man Who Loves to Walk:

Jared references a post Sal made that went viral, where he said, “The man who loves to walk will walk further than the man who loves the destination,” and points out that all the magic is in the process—and that the habits are what keeps the success going forever.

Sal notes that the post came from old wisdom and goes on to say that the key is to ask yourself “how do I become the man who loves walking,” or, in other words, “how do I become that person who enjoys the process that leads to better health, better fitness, better wellness?”

It certainly means doing it for the right reasons, as discussed earlier, but it may also mean finding the right activities that bring you joy—and not necessarily the activity that is the “most effective.”

Understanding that, for your quality of life, you may not need a six-pack and for your lifestyle, it may not be reasonable.

He goes on to use the example of when a person sees a billionaire entrepreneur, and thinks, “oh, I want that,” but in reality, they don’t want to do what that entrepreneur has to do. They just want a billion dollars.

It’s the same when you see the “perfect body.”

You realistically may not want to do what has to be done to achieve that ideal—and that is okay.

It is okay to not truly want something like that. What’s not okay is to not understand that it isn’t something you truly want.

Pursuing something you don’t truly want will only prevent you from improving your quality of life.

The journey needs to start off appropriately to continue appropriately. If you are doing nothing right now, that could mean taking a 15-minute walk once a week.

Remember, the timespan is forever.

You need to start with something that is realistic for you and build from there.

Should You Let Go of All Outcomes:

Sal says that you need to be aware of all outcomes from the changes that you are making.

Weight loss is only a piece of the puzzle. Things like sleeping better or walking consistently for 6 months and finding you really enjoy it—those things are results.

You need to pay attention to everything, not just weight. Eventually, your body will reflect all the changes, but weight alone is not the whole story.

Pay attention to the entire thing—how you feel, your attitude, consistency, etc.—and you will find the outcomes from this process are there. Weight loss and the body looking different will come with time as you go through your journey.

Sal goes on to say that he has worked with certain clients who he instructed to not track their weight at all because they were body-obsessed and he knew that focusing on other metrics would be better for them.

These clients were often surprised when they finally did something like a 60-day weigh-in that they lost—or didn’t lose—much weight, but they felt better, their clothes fit better, they lost size, learned to enjoy the process, etc.

Jared has encountered many people who think of themselves as only body fat and muscles, and they neglect to acknowledge their mental and spiritual needs. They forget about the other facets and believe that all that matters is how they look.

Sal believes that this is because we have attached exercise and diet to how we look and maybe some extreme health markers like heart disease and cancer.

He goes on to talk about how improving your health—exercising and eating right—is the best antidepressant.

It provides some meaning to your life and it promotes personal growth because of its life-long nature. There is lots of acceptance learned from exercise—learning what you are bad at and learning to improve.

Sal goes on to say that even if you could take a pill that gives you all the same physical benefits—you lose weight, build muscle, and look great—but you won’t get nearly the same benefits as someone who went through the process of exercising, learning, and the lifelong journey of health.

You could climb Mt. Everest or you could get dropped off at the top by a helicopter—it’s the same view, but only one of them changes you fundamentally.

Jared finds that people often want to do everything in the least amount of time, but always points out that you have to live in the house that you build.

If you are building under stress, chaos, and deprivation, now you have to live there—but what kind of house do you want to live in?

Sal finds that there is a false belief that exercising and eating right will be harder and suck more than not doing those things.

If you compare the two, exercising consistently and eating in a way to be healthy is far easier.

It is easier to move, to have good relationships—it's easier to think.

In addition, you avoid some diseases and issues that come from being overweight/obese and having a poor diet.

He asks the listeners to consider a person who is 100 lbs overweight, and then to think about if this same person were not overweight, but had to exercise 4 days a week—which one of those is harder?

Sal says there is a misconception that we can avoid hard challenges, but the truth is that it’s coming anyway. It's much easier to exercise and eat healthy than to be sick and unhealthy.

Being sick and unhealthy is not something that just “happens later.” It’s harder right now, and exercise and diet changes how you think.

Ask yourself, do you want to walk around feeling worse and having a more negative filter on the world? Do you want to have fewer inspirational ideas and be less innovative? Do you want to have less patience, empathy, and understanding? Those things are harder today.

It’s not "pay now, get the results later."

If you are listening (or reading this) right now, your day would be a little better if you got up and did some form of physical activity than if you didn’t.



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