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TMHS 793: Strengthen Your Mental & Emotional Fitness Through the Power of Creativity – With IN-Q

TMHS 342: Cross-Training Your Nutrition & Getting Honest About the Fitness Industry with Chalene Johnson

Diet culture is confusing. With modern marketing, social media, and endless diet books, is it any wonder that people are confused about what to eat? The reality is, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to diet. Different things work for different folks, and this can even vary throughout different seasons of life.

If you’re paleo or vegetarian and that works for you right now, more power to you. But being true to your health means valuing your body more than that label and being open-minded enough to consider that your needs might change one day in the future. Personalizing your nutrition approach (and being flexible!) is key to optimal health. 

That’s why when I read 131 Method by Chalene Johnson, I knew I had to share it with you. The book doesn’t have a list of good and bad foods. Instead it’s about honoring your own body, experimenting with your diet, and eating what makes you feel good. You are uniquely you, and your diet should be too. How powerful is that? 

On today’s show, Chalene returns to the Model Health Show to help you challenge common food perceptions and stop thinking like a dieter. We’ll discuss how to become more metabolically flexible, and how to discover which foods work best with your body. If you’re ready to step away from destructive food habits and thought patterns, I know Chalene’s story will bring you a ton of value, insight, and empowerment.

In this episode you’ll discover:

  • Why Chalene begins her new book with an apology. 
  • The reason why one-size-fits-all diet approaches don’t work. 
  • How Chalene literally changed her brain health. 
  • The importance of giving yourself permission to experiment with food. 
  • How marketing has infiltrated into our culture and affected the way we raise our kids.
  • What fast mimicking is and how it works.
  • The difference between fasting and starving. 
  • What autophagy is, and why it’s so important for brain health.
  • The importance of setting a clear health objective. 
  • How fasting can help you reset your gut and immune system. 
  • The most powerful method for identifying food sensitivities. 
  • What it means to cross-train your diet. 
  • How to teach your body to be more metabolically flexible.
  • Why cheating should not be in your food vocabulary.
  • What it means to choose your hard.

Items mentioned in this episode include:

Thank you so much for checking out this episode of The Model Health Show. If you haven’t done so already, please take a minute and leave a quick rating and review of the show on Apple Podcast by clicking on the link below. It will help us to keep delivering life-changing information for you every week!


Shawn Stevenson:  Welcome to The Model Health Show. This is fitness and nutrition expert, Shawn Stevenson, and I'm so grateful for you tuning in with me today. 

It's a very special episode because I have a very special person on for you, who's in the studio with me right now, and I just got done reading her new book, and I'm just going to say it, it's epic. Alright? 

It's incredible. It's incredible, and it's so many things that I've been talking about, and sharing over the last couple of years, and she's really consolidated it into an absolutely game-changing program, which I can't wait to share. 

Even on the- I got an early edition, first of all, which is always nice. And I was reading it on the plane, and the flight attendant was just- she just came over, just seeing the cover of the book, and just started asking me all these questions. Next thing you know, we're besties. Alright? 

All because of this incredible book, so I'm really excited to talk about it, and to talk about her. But I almost had like a straight up national emergency today, and I'm going to tell you why. 

I was going to make my coffee and my wife's coffee, and I realized I forgot my MCT oil, and I was upset. Alright? You remember in Home Alone like when he's running around the house with his arms wailing and flailing around? 

I didn't do that, but I thought about it. Alright? I love my MCT oil that much. And first of all, we know why on the nutrition side. Alright? It has thermogenic benefits. 

And what's so interesting about these medium-chain triglycerides is that the particle size is such that it can actually cross over into your cell membrane. So it can literally go directly to your cells for energy. 

Whereas like if you're eating even great food, some wild caught salmon, or some sweet potato; when you eat that food, your body has to convert it into this cellular currency. 

So it's in fish currency at first, and then it has to get converted into human cell currency. MCTs speak that language, right? So right there we've got instant cell food essentially that's efficient.

And another thing, and this is huge and you're going to hear a lot more about this, is the benefits of supporting your microbiome. Alright? 

So it has antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal properties that tend towards taking out the so-called bad bacteria. Alright? So just another benefit. And of course, this is one of the things that we'll probably talk about today in supporting your microbiome. 

Alright? All those things are great, but I want my coffee to taste good. Alright? This is my number one objective. Well, not number one, it's 50/50. Alright? 

And so for me, the emulsified MCT oils from Onnit, it's something special. It's magical. I had the usual MCT oil, the clear whatever stuff, which is great. Then I had the emulsified version, and my favorite is the almond milk latte. Alright? 

I know it sounds good, alright? And so having that and it's kind of like a coffee creamer. So it's, again, in that lane of we know that people like coffee, we know that people like creamer. 

Let's add to something they're already doing and make it an easier on-ramp. That's what I really love about it. 

And so it tastes amazing and we get all those health benefits, and they're also supportive - these MCTs - of your body creating ketones as well. So if you're doing intermittent fasting, if you're doing a ketogenic approach, it's supportive of that so you get that kind of energy as well. 

So I love it very much, as you've heard, national disaster today when I realized I did not pack it and bring it along with me on the road, because every time I do. 

But I made it, it's okay, I'll see it when I get home. I'm going to hold it, I'm going to rub it, and I'm going to love it when I get back. 

So head over there, check them out, get your own, alright? That's and you get 10% off all of the incredible things that Onnit carries. 

MCT oil, they've got an incredible protein powder that my wife absolutely loves, and my son as well. Jordan, my oldest son, just goes through it. 

Listen, when you see my son, you're just like, "Oh man." That's probably just what you're going to say, "Oh man." All of these muscles, right? 

He's a big kid and what he's doing is he really loves this Onnit protein as well. So head over there, check them out, for 10% off everything. And on that note, let's get to the Apple Podcasts review of the week. 

Apple Podcasts Review:  Another five-star review titled, 'Favorite Podcast Legit,' by Lililina.

"Quickly became hands down my favorite podcast that I get excited every day to listen to episodes. It's like having your own personal health and life coach who actually cares about you.

Nothing froofy, just real, which is appreciated. The topics cover all areas of health and love, the guests interviewed. 

As health has always been an issue for me, I became excited to make better choices that Shawn talks about, and not only do I feel more energetic, happier, stronger, I've saved money, but I became even more motivated. 

This podcast is legit, and I know I can trust what Shawn says."

Shawn Stevenson:  Wow, thank you so much for leaving me that review. That hit all my heart strings, and even threw 'legit' in there. Alright? Immediately I conjure up ideals of Hammer, alright? 

And I'm telling you, eighth grade dance, alright? Legendary, okay? The circle gathered around when Hammer comes on, 'Too Legit to Quit.' It was epic. You should have been there.

If I had footage of this, it would be off the chains. But thank you so much for leaving that review. I truly, truly, truly do appreciate that. 

And everybody, listen, if you've yet to leave a review, please pop over to Apple Podcasts and leave a review for the show. I appreciate it so very much. 

And on that note, let's get to our special guest and topic of the day. Our guest today is New York Times bestselling author and overall boss, Chalene Johnson. Alright? 

This is her third time on the show, threepeat, and so this is like Michael Jordan level, you know? He did the threepeat. And she's got a brand new book, and this is a game changer. Alright? 

There are so many different recipe books, and nutrition programs, and many of them- obviously they're wonderful, and we highlight a lot of them.

There's something really unique about this, and it's something that we're going to talk about today, but it's ever-increasingly important, which is personalization of your nutrition approach. 

And I just think she just knocked it out of the park, and this is definitely a book you're going to want to have in your hands ASAP, and I'd like to welcome back to The Model Health Show, my friend, Chalene Johnson. 

Chalene Johnson:  Oh my gosh, that was amazing, thank you. So awesome to be here. 

Shawn Stevenson:  Thank you for coming to see me for a change. 

Chalene Johnson:  I know, it's crazy that you're in California. 

Shawn Stevenson:  I was with you last time. I know. I know, we've got to keep it on the low. Keep it on the low-low. Alright so I love your book, and do you have the feelings? Like your book is coming out? 

Chalene Johnson:  Way more than my first book, and I don't know why. I think probably because I'm so passionate about this change, and I also feel like in many regards, like this is my opportunity to make it right. You know? 

Shawn Stevenson:  If we can, because I've got to share this. With your book, you literally start off in the beginning of the book with an apology.

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah.

Shawn Stevenson:  And I was just kind of floored by that. Can you share a little bit about why you did that? 

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah. I think it kind of dawned on me after I had a health scare that I hadn't respected the position I was in, in a way that I needed to. 

And by that, I mean I just didn't do my due diligence when I was giving people advice on how to exercise and what to eat. I spent a lot of time going, "Well, that person must be knowledgeable. They must know what they're talking about. They've got more followers and more experience, et cetera, so I'm going to repeat what they said, and accept it as fact." 

And when I had my own health scare, I knew it was because of the way I was eating and exercising and my lifestyle, and that I had an obligation to make it right. 

Because I had thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of people following me. So if my health had been jeopardized because of my lifestyle, what does that mean has happened to other people who follow me?

Shawn Stevenson:  And so it was an apology for-?

Chalene Johnson:  It was an apology for not taking that responsibility as seriously as I needed to, and it was this is my opportunity to say, "Listen, I take this so seriously now. I want to do the research, I've done the research, and I'm willing to tell you that I've made mistakes in the past by just sharing information that I hadn't researched or I hadn't looked into the research on it."

And this is my opportunity to not only share with people the research, but also to say, "We have to stay open-minded. This is what we know today, and we're learning so much more every single day, that the worst thing we can do is say this is the only way."

Shawn Stevenson:  This is why- this just speaks to your level of wisdom and your level of care. People don't apologize, first of all, for just basic stuff. But just that big kind of public announcement and just saying, "I'm sorry. I'm taking accountability for this, and here's the work that I've done." 

It's just phenomenal. Like it just like broke down all my walls to start, and I know it's going to do that for a lot of the readers as well. And I'm really excited about that. 

Chalene Johnson:  Thank you.

Shawn Stevenson:  And so one of the things that you talk about, and just kind of this goes right in alignment with it, is you said in the book that the idea that any one diet or even any one fitness program will work for everyone makes about as much sense as one-size-fits-all skinny jeans. 

Chalene Johnson:  The non-stretchy type, yeah. It just doesn't work, it won't work. But it's crazy how we've been so conditioned to believe that. When I first started developing a way that other people could do this and customize it, everybody's been so trained to say, "Well, where's your meal plan? I want your meal plan. I want your rules." 

But at the same time, we also- if you ask anyone, people know diets don't work when we follow someone else's diet, but we're still so brainwashed, so conditioned to believe that we are going to get it wrong, so I need to do exactly what you're doing, failing to take into consideration your age, gender, dieting history, genetics, lifestyle, epigenetics, gut health. 

All of those things impact what is going to work and what isn't going to work. 

Shawn Stevenson:  That's just a smidgen of the unique things about us. 

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah. 

Shawn Stevenson:  Like stress, whether or not you have kids, you even talk about this, the finance- your financial situation. That's going to determine what you eat, too. 

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah. 

Shawn Stevenson:  You know? My financial situation, I had a lot of Ramen Noodles because they just fit in the finances, you know? And so we've got to think about those things. So nuts. 

Chalene Johnson:  And time. I mean, when I was kind of at the peak of- I shouldn't say the peak, I guess the bottom of my health-

Shawn Stevenson:  Reverse peak.

Chalene Johnson:  Right exactly, the bottom was interesting because I was getting so much praise at that time for- people would say, "I want to do what you're doing. I want to eat what you're eating." 

And I didn't realize I was so unhealthy, because you look at someone on Instagram or in your best photo, if you will, and you assume that they're healthy based on what we're seeing, but there's no way to look at a photo and see longevity, to see cellular health, or to see stress levels. 

You just can't see that. And when I was at my worst, everything I ate was as fast as possible. Like does it say there's a lot of protein, and it's fat-free? Great, then I will consume it. 

It was protein powders, protein cookies, protein snacks. Like everything was like, "Okay quick, fast, let's go," and my mindset was, "Well, that's what I saw everyone else doing, so this must be good for me." 

Shawn Stevenson:  Oh my goodness, that's so real. And from that- and so this is just kind of like taking me back because many of the people listening have done the same thing.

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah.

Shawn Stevenson:  You know, whether it's the low-fat phenomenon, or just really focusing on you've got to get all this protein. And the protein- because it's high protein, it gives us a permission slip to eat all this like crazy processed food. 

And one of the things people also can't see is what's going on with your brain, and that was a huge wakeup call for you is when you got a Spect scan done.

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah, it was.

Shawn Stevenson:  And this is a true story, I didn't tell you this. I was texting with Daniel Amen, Dr. Daniel Amen, who's been on the show before, we'll put his episode in the show notes. 

Literally like four or five days ago and I was like, "Hey, do you know Chalene Johnson by chance?" You know, we were just talking about whatever. 

And he was like, "Very well. We're great friends," or something. And then I started reading your book because it came in for me, and then within the first few pages you talked about him.

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah.

Shawn Stevenson:  And I was like, "Oh my gosh, of course. It makes total sense."

Chalene Johnson:  And you know, we're in this great position where I had him on my podcast. It's such a great way to have access to experts, right? 

And I had him on my podcast, and I was talking to him about adult ADD, and I was describing some of my symptoms, kind of joking around about it. 

And afterwards he goes, "I'm really serious, I'd like for you to come in and have your brain scanned." And I thought, "This is going to be exciting." They're going to say, "We've never seen a brain like this before. She must be a genius. Everybody, get in here, look at this genius brain." Right?

Well, during- there's a part of the testing where you have to like really focus and concentrate on this particular pattern that they have you watching, going through it. 

I fell asleep during that part of the test. And I'm like- and then when they scanned my brain, when Dr. Amen reviewed it, he was just like, "I know you're a health professional, but this is failing." 

And it really was that day. That day was the day- not for me, because I think sometimes we make health changes because we want to look better, we want to feel better. But we always want that, right? 

We always want that, so why don't we make those changes? And for me, when I got the news that my brain was twenty years older than what it should be, and they could show me the areas where I wasn't getting blood flow, and these big giant white spots, and the toxicity, and that I was completely deficient in almost every major vitamin and mineral, that my hormones were out of whack because I had all of these things tested.

I was like, "These can't be my results. I'm a health and fitness expert. How could these be my results? And I went and sat in my car and just cried because I thought about my kids, and I thought I  don't want them having to take care of my personal needs. 

Like I don't like them to see me without my lashes on, I don't want them changing diapers because of something I've done. And like that day, like I literally made a decision to change everything. 

Shawn Stevenson:  Wow. And- wow. That was kind of like the first big domino, you know? 

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah. 

Shawn Stevenson:  You kind of knew there was stuff, but to see the visual. And you put the before and after, too. So there's good stuff that happened thereafter, but it took for a change in your mindset and how you were doing things. 

Chalene Johnson:  First, mindset. Yeah. But I also had to- I literally was like, "How does this happen? How could I be unhealthy if I'm eating clean? If I'm exercising like crazy? If I'm taking in information? If I'm learning all of these things? 

If I'm doing all these things that I'm telling everybody else to do, why do I have failing health but I look healthy? How do I make these things- how do I understand how this happened, and what am I supposed to do?" 

It's so overwhelming, it's so confusing, and I took a break from our other businesses, and Brett totally supported me, and I said, "I just have to know what's going on."

And I frankly am so grateful for my podcast because I got to get into places and talk to experts who probably wouldn't have allowed me to ask the questions I did, or worked with me, or like visiting major universities, and talking to the researchers to help me figure out how did this happen, and how do I fix it? And then ultimately how do I help other people fix it? 

Because they're not going to follow my plan. They're going to need to create their own, but I need to simplify that for people. 

Shawn Stevenson:  Yeah. Wow. Wow. I'm curious, knowing that- so you get these results- and again, the before and after scans are in the book, which is crazy. Because was it two years later? 

Chalene Johnson:  Two years, yeah. 

Shawn Stevenson:  So to be able to literally change your brain that much. Because you could see there's like a hole.

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah, there's three big holes. 

Shawn Stevenson:  And that's an indication of blood flow, circulation, nutrients reaching those parts of the brain.

Chalene Johnson:  Right.

Shawn Stevenson:  Wow. So first of all, how? Like what did you do?

Chalene Johnson:  First of all, I had to figure out that what I was doing with my food wasn't serving my brain. I was completely- if it said zero fat and high protein, I'm like, "Okay, I'll buy it. I'll eat it." I was afraid of fat, I was restricting calories, restricting calories. Mainly because my metabolism was broken. 

I didn't realize that. The more I exercised, and the less I ate, the less I got to eat, and the more I had to exercise just to maintain. So I really was suffering from weight loss resistance. It wasn't that I had a weight problem, it was that I had a metabolism problem. 

Shawn Stevenson:  Also you being in the field where you always have to look a certain way, and doing the fitness videos, which you have like a record with these. Was it like 200?

Chalene Johnson:  Guinness Book of World Records. I'm currently still the holder. I'm sure someone has done more than me now, but I still have that record, which is kind of funny because it definitely- being in that mindset of I need to look a certain way wasn't healthy for me. 

You know, I'm 5'2" so if I gain like three pounds, it looks like thirty. And there's so much pressure. I write about some of those conversations with producers where they-

Shawn Stevenson:  Oh no, you have to share this when they called Brett- this is her husband, Brett. When they called to want to speak to him and not you about something that they wanted done for the video, it just like broke my heart. You've got to share that.

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah, so I think people want to be in exercise videos. They're like, "Oh, that sounds amazing." And maybe it is for some people. For me, I always felt like an imposter, because I knew how many hours I had to exercise to just look that way, and how little I was eating. 

I wasn't dieting but I wasn't eating very much and I was exercising like crazy just to hopefully someone would think I looked the part. And I was doing all these videos, and that was always in the back of my mind, this kind of imposter syndrome.

Like, "You don't look like these other people. They're all tall, and beautiful, and lean, and it must come naturally to them. And you work so hard, don't let anyone find that out." 

And I was preparing for a series, and my husband Brett got a phone call from the producer, and the producer said to him, "Hey, I'd like you to have a conversation with Chalene about her body. 

We just really think this program could do so much better sales-wise if she could just drop weight. Drop a few pounds, get really lean, get really tight, look really inspirational for women."

And I wasn't on the call. They called my husband, and I remember him being like just kind of out of it after the call and I'm like, "What's going on? What's wrong?" 

And he finally had to share with me what they said, and I just felt like my blood rush. Like I felt like I was standing there naked, like so exposed, like my secret is out.

See? It was like all the confirmations that you don't belong here. But also I wanted to prove to people that I did belong there, so I wanted to drop those few pounds, and I went crazy.

So I exercised even more, I was probably exercising four hours a day. To  prepare for that video series, do you want me to tell you what I was eating?

Shawn Stevenson:  Yeah.

Chalene Johnson:  It's horrible. Sugar-free Jell-O, Diet Coke, and 100-calorie popcorn. I survived on that and four hours of exercise, and even with that, I mean #LeakyGut. #DestroyYourBrain. So please don't follow that diet program. 

So I show up to film these videos knowing that's what I've been eating, and knowing I've been exercising for like four hours a day, and meanwhile I lost like six pounds maybe. 

And I walked in, and they just kind of looked me up and down, because that's what they do before you go on camera. They're doing that because they want you to look good, so it doesn't come from a negative place, but it feels very- I just was so uncomfortable standing there going, "Did I lose enough? I know they're not happy with my body already. I know they don't think that I look the right way."

And I'm just standing there in this little tiny bra top and tiny shorts, and I'm a 45-year-old grown ass woman being judged by people.

And then they were like, "We're really happy. You look great. You've never looked better." And I just held it together to film a series, but I knew- I couldn't even focus.

I was hanging on by a thread. My emotions were up and down, I had no energy, my hair was falling out, my muscles had lost all their shape, I couldn't think, my brain fog- like I just couldn't even function. It was so hard to get through those videos.

But meanwhile, the praise- because I posted one photo on Instagram. And see, this is where the apology comes from, because now I contributed to women who were like, "#Goals. I want to know what you're doing. Tell me what you're doing."

And I lied. I lied. I said, "I'm following this program. I'm working out thirty minutes a day, and I wasn't, because I didn't want anyone to know. I wanted them to believe.

And here's the thing. I did believe other people could follow that food plan, and people could exercise for thirty minutes a day and get those results, but I knew it wasn't working for me.

Shawn Stevenson:  Yeah, it wasn't malicious in any sense.

Chalene Johnson:  No, but it wasn't working for me, and I just thought I was broken. And when I share that story, so many women are like, "Oh, such a relief. I thought I was the only one who was broken."

And it wasn't that I was broken, my body wasn't broken. I was mistreating it. 

Shawn Stevenson:  Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness, thank you for sharing that.

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah.

Shawn Stevenson:  That story, because you know, it really did hit me. Like so many people are struggling with this, and also just even the imposter syndrome. You know? 

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah.

Shawn Stevenson:  In our lives in some form or fashion. 

Chalene Johnson:  I still get teary eyed.

Shawn Stevenson:  Oh, I'm sorry.

Chalene Johnson:  It's okay.

Shawn Stevenson:  Like you know, "I'm going to be found out. All those other people are that thing, but I'm not, and I'm in that alignment with them." And it just does a number on our psyche.

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah.

Shawn Stevenson:  And to hear- not the most tragic part, but one of them, is that public confirmation which feeds into you doing that behavior.

Chalene Johnson:  And I see it. I see it so much now. Like in social media, I see people, they get excited when they see a fitness influencer get super lean. 

I always say, "You just don't know," and I'm speaking from personal experience, "how they got there, and what's going on, and how trapped they are, and most importantly you don't know anything about their health from looking a person's super lean physique." You really don't.

Shawn Stevenson:  Yeah, we've got to talk about this now. Just there's a difference between fitness and health.

Chalene Johnson:  Thank you. Amen. Yeah, and you know, you really- I feel like I got here late to the game, you know? Because I think you've been at the forefront of this, and I really have to commend you because just starting to listen to your podcast really opened me up to some of these experts, and ideas, and the thought of health versus the look of fitness. 

Shawn Stevenson:  Right. Yeah, but of course, this is the beautiful part is that there are levels to this, and many of us have the story, but some of us kind of get stuck in certain chapters for a while, you know?

Chalene Johnson:  Yes.

Shawn Stevenson:  And when I first started my clinical practice and just working with patients over, and over, and over throughout the day, if I was doing something, you're doing it.

Chalene Johnson:  Yes.

Shawn Stevenson:  You know? Like if I'm a vegetarian, you're a vegetarian. If I'm Paleo, you're Paleo. The crazy thing is I've spent years doing each thing, so five years vegan, two years raw food, two years Paleo, three years intermittent fasting. 

All these different things I experiment, like go ham with them. And thank goodness, thank goodness for me it wasn't personal. It wasn't me.

Well, it was. It started with me because I realized that different things were working for me at different times, and I realized like, "I can't get attached to this thing that worked before because it can just keep leading me- my body is giving me feedback."

And I had this big revelation, this was about maybe eight years ago, and I realized in my practice that every one of these people needs something different, and it's my job to pay attention, and to help them to uncover that. 

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah.

Shawn Stevenson:  You know? And that's when everything changed. And so even in your book, you're working and giving people this guidance to find that for themselves, because ultimately that's what your best diet is, is for you.

Chalene Johnson:  Right, yes. And it's finding that balance because as I started testing this- so initially once I really was feeling different, and I was able to exercise a normal human amount, and I was eating food, all kinds of food.

And once I figured it out for myself, I'm like, "Okay, so how do I start testing this with other people? It needs to be unique to them." 

So I first started with 100 people, and then we started testing it with a bigger group of 300, then 500, then 1,000, then 5,000, and eventually 25,000 people we tested it with, and the one thing that was most eye-opening to me is that people still- it doesn't matter how smart the individual is. 

You can be a neuroscientist, and they still don't trust themselves when it comes to food because we've set people up for failure for so long that even when we give them some leeway and you can try this or try that, they'll say, "But I need to know exactly what to do." 

So it was striking that balance where I can help people walk through it, but also give them permission to experiment and to figure out what feels best, and not to get all caught up in the numbers.

And if you have great results doing this, please know we're going to have to change that because eventually you won't. You know?

Shawn Stevenson:  It's so good. So good, because we're working on- first of all, there's just kind of a template we come here with a little bit, a little genetic tendency towards being somebody.

Like for me, we've got the what, why, how person, there's different personality types. Some people literally just want to know, "Just tell me how. Just tell me how to do it."

Chalene Johnson:  Give me the rules.

Shawn Stevenson:  I'm more of a why and what person. Like if I hear what it is, it infatuates me. And so speaking to those folks, and also we do all of it.

And I saw that in the book, I was just like, "I see you right now. You're giving people permission."

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah.

Shawn Stevenson:  You know? Because I can't just tell you, "Here, do this. But I'm going to give it to you. I'm going to give you this guidance, but you're going to need to do a little bit of work, which is going to work for everybody to uncover these things for you."

Chalene Johnson:  It's why I put a glass of wine on the cover. You know? And my publisher was like, "Wait, this is a health book and you want a glass of wine and a salad on the cover?"

I'm like, "Yeah, I'd also like a big chunk of chocolate too if we could do that." You know? I want to push the envelope because nothing is off limits, and it's crazy to me that as adults the number one question people will say is, "Can I eat this?" 

Which is something your eight-year-old should probably ask you, but a grown person is asking us these things. Like, "Can I eat this? Can I eat that?"

And I always say, "Once you have the knowledge and the understanding of how it's going to affect your body, you're not going to want to ask someone else for permission. You'll know with certainty, with and confidence, and nothing is more freeing than knowing if something is good for you or not."

Healthy for you. I shouldn't say good for you. Healthy for you, if it's working for you. And there's also things that you can't necessarily eat right now, maybe because you're healing your gut, but down the road you may be able to. 

Shawn Stevenson:  Right.

Chalene Johnson:  You know? And that peace, and giving people grace, and helping people understand that when it comes to our health, we've got to stop thinking like a dieter. Like the all or nothing, I'm on or off. 

It drives me crazy when I hear people say, "I want to try your 131 Method after my vacation." It's like saying, "I'm interested in parenting after my vacation."

No, health is something you just do it. And there's going to be imperfect days, and days that you can improve upon, but you're not on health or off health. It's a journey. You know?

Shawn Stevenson:  So real. So real. Oh my goodness. I want to talk about this, something else that you said in the book that really stuck out for me. 

But basically when we work and we struggle in a diet, we tend to think that it's us. Like you mentioned earlier, like there's something wrong with you. You were broken or defective.

And you've got these cool little side notes in the book, and then also you have a side note saying that this isn't just for me to give you side notes. This is for you to write your notes. 

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah. 

Shawn Stevenson:  And in an episode I did with my buddy, Jim Kwik, he talked about- 

Chalene Johnson:  Love him. 

Shawn Stevenson:  Because even we've done these at conferences, and he'll have- like you divide your paper in half, and you write the note, but then you'll write immediately how does this apply to you? Or what can you take away from this little nugget that you just got?

Chalene Johnson:  Right.

Shawn Stevenson:  But you said in one of those notes that practically from birth we are conditioned to believe we are flawed. So can you talk just a little bit about that? Because it's just like- it really struck me.

Chalene Johnson:  Gosh, it's just everything. You know, we want to change our kids, we want to change our hair color, we want to fix everything that's uniquely us. And so we've been conditioned to believe that somebody else is perfect, other people are perfect, and we need to aspire to be like them. 

So therefore we need to adopt their diet, we need to follow their exercise regimen, and if I do, well then I'll be more like you, instead of realizing we were perfectly created by God. 

And we need to honor that, and by honoring that, it means like honoring your health. Like your health is such a gift, and we've moved so far away from our own biology, and so far away from what we were designed to do, what we were designed to eat, and how we were designed to live. I mean, everything. 

And I'm realistic, I realize we're not going to get rid of our phones, we're not going to change- we're not all going to grow our own fruits and vegetables and raise our own grass-fed cows.

But there's a lot more we can do to kind of back away from what's been forced down our throats in terms of marketing, and just realize like, "Oh, we do that just because it's been marketed to us." 

Like think about our kids. Like when you and I grew up, we didn't have a pre-breakfast snack, and then breakfast, and then a snack after breakfast, and then lunch, and then a snack after lunch, and then go to your sports, and then have a cupcake because you played soccer, and then go home. 

We just didn't do that. That's just marketing. 

Shawn Stevenson:  Yeah, absolutely. It's crazy. It's crazy because it's kind of the strange umbrella that's like over our culture. You know, just those ideas that are out there. And we don't question it, you know? 

Chalene Johnson:  Right.

Shawn Stevenson:  And this is what I love about the 131 Method, which we'll talk about, is kind of just how we naturally work as humans and the cyclical nature of things, which we'll get to in a second. 

First though, what is 131? Because first- I've been hearing about this for like a year, because I know you were doing a lot of testing with folks, and I've just been doing my thing in my lane, but I was like, "I'll find out eventually. I'm sure she'll tell me." 

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah.

Shawn Stevenson:  And I didn't know the book was coming, so can you share what it means, and then we'll go from there?

Chalene Johnson:  For sure. Yeah, the first one of 131 is your one thing that you want to work on right now. It's like the domino effect. 

If you think about when someone comes into an ER room, you figure out like, "Okay, where is this person injured and what's the most important thing for us to fix first?" 

So that's your one thing, that you're personal objective, and that changes as you get healthier. 

The three is three weeks of kind of testing an approach to your eating, to your nutrition, and you're testing it knowing that you can change this and phase it so that that homeostasis doesn't kick in, so that you don't get caught up on like, "Well, I'm keto for life, or I'm Paleo forever." 

Whatever it is, you want to figure out like, "Okay for a season, let me see how this works for me, balance my hormones," whatever your objective is. That's the three.

And then the final week is for fasting and re-fueling, but not fasting for weight loss. It  is fasting for cellular health, it is fasting for brain health, it's fasting to help you really re-build your gut microbiome. 

And I know that can scare some people, but we offer four- or I teach four different styles of fasting, none of which you have to do if you don't want to. You can just continue what you did for those first three weeks for the fourth week. 

You've got all this freedom, you know? Because not all populations should be fasting. But there's a way to fast, like fast mimicking, the work of Dr. Valter Longo here at USC. 

His work has really profoundly changed what we know about the body's ability to heal. And when you look at some of the research he's done around fast mimicking, meaning you're eating but the body believes you're fasting, and that's some pretty powerful stuff.

So that last one of 131 is to fast and re-fuel, but again, a customized approach which might mean eating during your fast. 

Shawn Stevenson:  Yes. And you share also- there's a specific story I remember, somebody didn't even do that part, and just employing these insights, and the strategy, and asking these questions regardless of what approach you take ultimately for yourself, by following the guidelines you're going to get amazing results. 

But I love that that's included, because this is like a part of my life. 

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah.

Shawn Stevenson:  And I do- everything that I do has a purpose. Like I've been doing this for so long that I don't want to do anything just because.

Chalene Johnson:  Right.

Shawn Stevenson:  And so those benefits with the fasting, whether it's intermittent fasting, whether it's a longer kind of structured fast, that word- I'm so glad you said that, can scare people.

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah.

Shawn Stevenson:  But it shouldn't because this is one of the things that humans have been doing forever. 

Chalene Johnson:  Right.

Shawn Stevenson:  But I think it's also the pleasure monkey in our head like, "I'm going to miss something." 

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah.

Shawn Stevenson:  And you also give options. So we can continue to eat, but the fast mimicking is something really interesting as well. Can you share just a little teeny little bit about fast mimicking for us?

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah, for sure. For me personally, the first time I was introduced to intermittent fasting, all I knew were the rules. Like, "Okay, start eating at this time and stop at this time." I'm like, "Okay, got it." 

I didn't look into like why am I doing this other than to help me lose body fat? What's happening in my body? What's taking place and why do I want to do this?

So I didn't even understand really from a metabolic standpoint how it was working, therefore I wasn't doing it correctly. I wasn't intermittent fasting. 

I thought I was, but I was also eating small amounts of food that were probably pretty high in carbohydrates, and I didn't realize how that was affecting my blood sugar levels, I didn't realize that was kicking me out of ketosis.

Because I was still starving so I'm like, "Okay, starve yourself," but starving and fasting are different. And so fast mimicking, what we do know is that in order for the body to generate or trigger autophagy, which is the body's way of killing and recycling, if you will, dead and broken cells, which is so powerful.

In order to generate that, in order to create the increase of human growth hormone, in order to have all those benefits that come with fasting, the primary thing you need to focus on is making sure that you are basically depleting as close as possible your glucose and glycogen stores.

And there's ways to do that. In fact, the research that I just mentioned- and he's doing human studies too, Dr. Valter Longo, where they're looking at, and they have proven that they can keep people in ketosis and generate autophagy, even in cancer patients which is pretty remarkable, while eating a very specified diet that's pretty high in fat, still low in calories, but it's about keeping those glucose and glycogen levels in check. 

And I think most people don't realize what they're eating, unless you do a little bit of tracking, and you understand what the objective is. Like what is your objective? 

That's the first thing I start with in the book, is like is it appropriate for you, first of all? If you've got an eating disorder, not even diagnosed, you think you might, that could be a wrong population to- you probably don't want to fast, and so we have options for that person.

If you're a breastfeeding mom, and just certain populations where you've got to take food with your medication, it's probably not a good idea. But for so many people, if you understand what it does for you, and the stem cell increases, stem cell production, and just how amazing you feel.

How it just completely can reset your gut. And it's the refueling after the fast that is so powerful in changing our immune system. Like you literally can change your immune system by learning how to rebuild. 

I always say it's kind of like starting over in a relationship. You've got this really good guy, and you don't realize you've been mistreating him. Well, that's how most of us treat our gut health. 

Shawn Stevenson:  Wow. Oh my gosh, I've never thought about it like that. And it's so crazy because you know, you've got this whole- you want to be in love, you want to be in a good relationship, then maybe your microbiome- but it's not your microbiome, maybe it's something you ate hurt you, and you blame the microbiome. 

And then you start having some issues in trusting and taking care of-

Chalene Johnson:  We are taking this analogy down that hole. 

Shawn Stevenson:  The microbiome that you get. 

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah.

Shawn Stevenson:  And then you're unhappy at the end of the day. We keep going from microbiome to microbiome.

Chalene Johnson:  You didn't know what you had. 

Shawn Stevenson:  You didn't know what you had until you lost it.

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah.

Shawn Stevenson:  So it's crazy, and I love the fact that you're highlighting supporting the microbiome, and just how much stems from that. You know? And I love that.

Chalene Johnson:  Your gut. Like I mean, I didn't know what that word meant three years ago. I didn't know what that meant. I'd heard the term 'leaky gut,' and I had no idea that related to me. 

In fact, when I started trying to unravel how I got here, the first integrative medical doctor I said, "How is it possible that I eat and drink these healthy shakes, and I eat these protein bars, and I'm eating salads, and I'm getting all my As and Bs and Ds and Ks. How is it I'm deficient in all of these areas?"

And she said, "Clearly you have leaky gut." And then we went through the checklist, and holy cow, I had no idea. I had no idea that being bloated, I know it's TMI but having gas, that those things weren't normal until I started eating the way I need to eat. 

And now I know what it feels like. I didn't know what it felt like to feel good all the time. 

Shawn Stevenson:  It's like literally life changing. It's a revelation because- man, I'm just putting myself in those shoes. Even for folks that are listening that you tend to run at a really high level.

When something happens, maybe you get a cold or something, you're just like devastated. Like how do people- like you're driving down the street, you see people smiling and holding hands, like look at them. They don't understand how good they have it. 

But when you come out of that for any of us, when you actually start to feel great, because I didn't know what that was like. Because it's not just the physical what you see, as we talked about the difference between health and fitness, but just how clear you are. 

How things just kind of come together better in your life and in your thoughts. Your energy levels, obviously.

Chalene Johnson:  Energy. Insane. 

Shawn Stevenson:  It's a huge thing.

Chalene Johnson:  Sleep. Mood. 

Shawn Stevenson:  And you're digesting your food, like everything is just working well. We take those things for granted. 

Chalene Johnson:  And I've heard that. It's like we know that, but then we also think we can out-smart it. You know? We also think that it can't have that big of an effect until you really become aware, and you rebuild your gut.

And I also like to tell people that just because it's on someone's healthy list, or someone's allowed food list, doesn't mean that it's right for you.

An example for me, was I had really had tremendous improvements, I felt so good, I knew that I was healing my gut, but yet I still was having some issues, and we could not pinpoint it. 

And just of irregular, and still having mild bloating sometimes, and then eventually I narrowed it down to quinoa, which is great for so many people, but for me it's not. 

You know? So I always tell people it could be kale or it could be something that's incredibly processed junk food. You just don't know until you get healthy, and then that's why the fasting and refueling is so powerful, because then you can isolate like one thing.

You're like, "I really think it's eggs," or " I really think it's," whatever, fill in the blank. And then you know, and that's so much more powerful than sending away for a kit that's going to tell you about your food sensitivities. 

It's much more powerful and it also is a deterrent. So if you've ever got the flu or food poisoning, whatever it was you ate just before, you're like, "I never want to see it again. It's disgusting. I don't care what it was."

Once you start to become aware of what makes you feel bad, you're like, "I don't want that food. You don't have to tell me not to eat it, I don't want it." You know?

Shawn Stevenson:  Yeah. Literally got a story, just happened right before we got on the plane. My son Braden, he went to school, and they send little pictures- again, like this is stuff we didn't get. You know?

Like they're sending pictures throughout the day of like what is he doing?

Chalene Johnson:  Wow. 

Shawn Stevenson:  I don't- I'm just going to say, I don't care. You know? Is he writing a script? I don't know. But like I guess they chopped up some fruit. I'm like, "Okay."

But I'm thinking it is that, like they had- it was like a lot of fruit, the kids sharing, that kind of thing. But he had a bar, and I'm not going to throw the company under the bus, but it's very simple.

It was like two or three ingredients, very like minimal processing, and he had the bar, and then maybe like twenty minutes later, he didn't feel well. 

And you know, he was like- literally I had to pull the car over, you know. He was like, "Daddy." Because we were about to go pack because we've got to get to the airport. And I'm just like this would be the worst case scenario.

Chalene Johnson:  Oh, on the plane.

Shawn Stevenson:  No, if he throws up in my car. Alright? 

Chalene Johnson:  Oh yeah, you're not worried about the plane or the passengers.

Shawn Stevenson:  Yeah, I'm not even there yet. 

Chalene Johnson:  Just your car, okay.

Shawn Stevenson:  It was going to be in the morning. And so- but we made it home, and so needless to say the next day or whenever it was, when he was feeling better, maybe it was two days later, and he had an option of having that bar, guess what he didn't want? 

Chalene Johnson:  Right, yeah. So powerful.

Shawn Stevenson:  You know, it was because it was that thing, and he had that mental association. He's had those bars fifty times. 

Chalene Johnson:  It's so crazy. 

Shawn Stevenson:  Yeah. 

Chalene Johnson:  And it's a cool thing because- like I was talking to your wife today, and we were talking about how there's discipline, but you don't need discipline and say, "I don't want this food," if you already know there's a negative association with you for that food.

And that's just a much more powerful place to come from instead of a list of rules, instead of someone saying, "Here's all the foods you have to eliminate," you making the right decisions on what you want to test, and what you suspect is giving you fits. 

That's so much more powerful and then you don't have to rely on discipline, you're relying on intuition and your knowledge, and that's powerful. 

Shawn Stevenson:  It's more powerful than any test of your allergies, of these seventy things you can't eat now.

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah.

Shawn Stevenson:  Because and I know for a lot of folks who conjure up like, "How could this be bad for people? How could that?" Every single food has some issues potentially, and every food has some potential benefit.

And it's just understanding that- like you mentioned quinoa earlier, there's like these- they're called saponins, like these soap-like sugar molecules that can like rub some people's gastrointestinal tract the wrong way. For other people, not a problem. 

It's amazing, it gives them health, but it's these small things that you have to pay attention to for yourself, and the only way you can do that is just to pay attention and to experiment. You know? 

Give yourself permission, and that's what you did. 

Chalene Johnson:  It's so great to be an expert at you.

Shawn Stevenson:  Yeah! 

Chalene Johnson:  That's the thing. 

Shawn Stevenson:  The ultimate. It's the ultimate. So I want to talk to you about my favorite aspect of the 131 Method, and we'll do that right after this quick break. So sit tight, we'll be right back. 

Alright, we're back and we're talking with New York Times bestselling author and real life superhero, Chalene Johnson, and before the break I wanted to talk about my favorite aspect of the 131 Method, and it is paying attention to the cyclical nature of life itself, and how we ideally are going to kind of shift and pay more attention to being more cyclical with our nutrition.

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah.

Shawn Stevenson:  And I believe you call it diet phasing, so let's talk about that. 

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah, diet phasing. It just was a realization in speaking with all these experts that  we have this natural ability to want to stay alive, it's what our bodies want to do, is keep us alive and keep everything the same. 

So homeostasis is what often will result in people gaining weight because they're like, "Wow, I just went keto and I lost all this weight, and I'm going to stay keto because I told everyone I was keto."

But then they start gaining weight and they can't figure out what's going on. Same thing with exercise. "I've been doing the same exercise program, and I lost all this weight to start with, and now I'm still doing this exercise program and I'm eating the same, but I'm gaining weight."

And realizing it's very much like something we've accepted in terms of fitness, and that is just you've got to cross train, you've got to change things up. You've got to have cycles to your training so that you're always improving, you're always kind of keeping the body guessing.

And then taking a look at what our ancestors did, you know? The food that was available in the winter wasn't available in the summer.

Shawn Stevenson:  They were forced to.

Chalene Johnson:  They were forced to phase, and so that's how we have been designed to thrive. And guess what's really fun about phasing? Is that next thing you're really excited about eating is right around the corner. 

You don't have to put your identity into a food, and I think so many people do that. They just want to put a stake in the ground and say, "Well, I'm vegetarian, or I'm raw vegan, or I'm Paleo, or keto," or whatever it is. 

And I think what's probably the best way for all of us to approach this is this is what's serving me right now, but then phasing your diet allows you to not have to experience that weight plateau or the weight gain that often comes when we try to do the same thing day after day, week after week, year after year.

Shawn Stevenson:  It seems so Captain Obvious, you know? But when you're saying this, I'm even thinking about how we put ourselves into these boxes, and it creates so much dissonance between us too. 

And we can't just talk about the majority of things that work for all of us, you know? Because we're just like, "Paleo for life, fool." Just throwing up our own little- like what's that you're claiming? You know?  "I'm keto." Well, you don't this.

Chalene Johnson:  Right. 

Shawn Stevenson:  And so it's just opening ourselves up.

Chalene Johnson:  And it's not fun to be around those kind of people either. The ones where you're like, "Oh boy, you know they're going to start talking about their whatever."

And it feels kind of judgy, and then most of us, we just don't want to be wrong. Right? Like I don't have a dog in the fight, I just don't want to be wrong. I want to know what I should do. 

And so we hang on dogmatically to these labels or way of eating, when really if we just approached our diet from the standpoint of like, "This is what's right for me right now."

Shawn Stevenson:  So first of all, big shout-out to all the different frameworks, because all of these frameworks are valuable. You know? Paleo, vegetarian, raw food.

Chalene Johnson:  True.

Shawn Stevenson:  All of these things have great value in that they give us structure, they give us these things to pay attention to, but what we're really trying to- especially with your new book is to communicate is to not put yourself in a box that may be hurting you.

And also something that might not allow for you to experience enjoy a greater level of health or to accomplish whatever your one - with the 131 - whatever your one goal is, because of a diet dogma.

Chalene Johnson:  That's right.

Shawn Stevenson:  Now again, not to say that they're not valuable, which I subscribe to many of those things.

Chalene Johnson:  Sure. 

Shawn Stevenson:  But we need to really listen to our inner guidance system first and foremost. 

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah, absolutely. 

Shawn Stevenson:  I love that cross training too, with cross training your diet.

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah, it's like we've accepted that from a fitness standpoint, like we just know you've got to cross train, you've got to phase your diet, you've got to- even just thinking about how athletes train, and they do it in cycles. 

Everything happens- everything happens in cycles. Our sleep happens in cycles, our hormones happen in cycles, think about farming. Everything happens in cycles when it comes to life, and that's how we were meant to thrive.

It just makes sense. It adds order and it's so freeing to have that approach. You know? I think so many of us, we don't know that we are smart enough to figure this out. We really are, and we have permission to.

Shawn Stevenson:  Absolutely. Yes, oh my goodness, I love it so much. And by the way, so you do incorporate and encourage in part of the protocol that not just diet phasing, but macro phasing. So talk about that a little bit. 

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah, so in each one of the phases, there are three phases in the 131, and each phase is designed specifically to target one mode of health so that ultimately what we're doing is rebuilding your gut health, helping to fix your metabolism, helping you to understand how your body works so you can really have the most energy and feel your best.

But you also have to experiment with these things with some structure. So the third and final phase, we do something that's called macro phasing, which is- if you're familiar with carb cycling. 

It's not carb cycling, it's literally macro phasing so that you teach your body how to be metabolically flexible so that you can have days where you're eating more carbohydrates, and then days where you're maybe cutting down on carbohydrates, eating a diet that's healthy in fats, and then a day that's like really lean and filled with tons of greens, and vegetables, and fruit. 

And when you teach people through the process of these three phases, by the time you get to that third phase, you can do that, and your body knows what to do with that energy source, not just store it as fat.

And so we call it macro phasing, and that requires a little bit more structure. You kind of have to know what you're eating, and I think sometimes people are like, "I don't want to count. I don't want to know, I don't want to track."

And I agree, I think we can get too obsessive about that, but from time to time you've got to look at your bank account. You can't just spend. You know?

And every time somebody does that, myself included, I try to do it as I suggest in the book, at least once a quarter I'm going to spend a couple weeks just tracking because I'm always way off when I do that. 

I'm like, "Oh my gosh, I didn't realize I really let things slide." We all do, so it's no different from just checking in on your bank account every once in a while. You've got a finite amount of energy, and by doing a little bit of tracking using a simple app like My Fitness Pal, you just kind of know, "Okay, here's where I'm at."

But I don't want people to get caught up in like- you probably know people like that, they're like, "Oh, I'm one gram over," and they're just miserable to be around.

It's like, live. Like this is life and your body is going to balance everything out for you. 

Shawn Stevenson:  Yeah, it's what it does.

Chalene Johnson:  That's mindset. It's so much more freeing to look at food as fuel and your friend and medicine. It can fix it. 

Shawn Stevenson:  Absolutely. Because stress, even though it has zero calories, it can really cause some issues with your body, and how it's even dealing with that food when you're so obsessive about that one gram, or whatever the case might be. 

So it's just finding that balance, but these are all things that we have to coach, we have to talk about, because we've been so conditioned. It just depends on the person's story.

Because some people listening are just like, "I wouldn't be that upset about going over." Some people are.

Chalene Johnson:  Some people are.

Shawn Stevenson:  And that's just one way of being, and it might have served them. Because we tend to do things that do work for us, but then we get so attached to them that they cause dysfunction.

Chalene Johnson:  Right.

Shawn Stevenson:  And that's what, again, what I really love about your approach, is like looking at these things, let's talk about them, and here's some delicious food as well. 

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah, exactly!

Shawn Stevenson:  You know? So all the information about the protocol itself is in the book.

Chalene Johnson:  Yes.

Shawn Stevenson:  But I want to talk to you while I have you here, I want to definitely cover this, and this is something you mentioned, I think it's so important, that there are going to be setbacks, to expect them and prepare accordingly.

And this is something I think a lot of us don't get because we're looking at, "We're going to start next Monday." "We're going to start when we get back from the vacation." "I'm going to do this thirty days." "I'm going to do this sixty days," or whatever. 

Something's going to happen at some point for the vast majority of us. It might be kid gets sick, it might be car problems, it might be whatever. Something's going to happen that if we can just start to talk about this that something is going to happen, setbacks are going to happen, but we can prepare for them and be ready when they do.

Chalene Johnson:  And not throw in the towel. So two things that drive me crazy. Not a fan of the term 'I cheated.' I think that's a term that we should use for people who break their marriage vows. 

I don't think we should use the word 'cheat' for someone who decides to eat a cupcake or enjoy a glass a wine. That's number one. 

So we have to get rid of this, "Well, I messed up, so therefore I'm done. And I blew it. I failed." Because we don't look at other important areas of our life that way.

Like your faith, for example. If you have a week where you're like, "Gosh, I haven't spent any time reading the Bible or thinking about who it is I want to pray over," whatever it is, you don't go, "Well, I'm done for now until I decide to pick this up again. It's a journey, you know? 

And you're going to have ebbs and flows, and I also think it's really important that people understand this is not about- when I say 'this,' being healthy. 

It's not about perfection, you know? Someone said to me the other day, "Do you eat anything processed?" I'm like, "I'm a human. Of course I do. But I also- I just evaluate and I think about how it made me feel, and trying to eat as whole as possible."

But there's going to be weeks when I'm traveling, and I can't do it as well, but I don't say I'm off of health. I'm on health, I'm on this journey. 

And it's just like a marriage. You know, you're going to have weeks where you feel a little disconnected, but you're not out of the marriage hopefully. 

It's about just thinking about this is part of who I am, and there's going to highs and lows, and to just remove any shame and guilt and give ourselves grace, because this is about trying to live longer, and live better, and live fuller, and be happier. 

Shawn Stevenson:  I just want to ask you so many things and talk to you. I've got one more question I want to ask you about, and it's a statement that you mention in the book, is that you have to choose your hard. You have to choose your hard. 

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah.

Shawn Stevenson:  First of all, what does that mean for people? Because I was like, "Okay, where is she going? Oh, that's what this means."

Chalene Johnson:  Yeah, and it's a phrase I think a lot of us have heard before, and in the book specifically, I reference a friend who called and said- I said, "How's it going?" She was doing the 131 Method.

It's always funny when you have a friend or a family member that you're trying to help. 

And she goes, "Oh, it's going good, but I just- I don't like having to like- in the beginning stages, like know how many fat grams or about how many carbohydrates. I just want to eat food."

And I said, "You can. It's a short period of time. It's understanding, and you're going to get to a place where it's intuitive. But you've got to decide what hard do you want to deal with? 

Because you know what else is really hard? Feeling like crap. You know what else is really hard? Understanding that you're not going to live as long, and your brain isn't going to be as sharp. And you know what else is hard? Is not fitting into your jeans and feeling like you're a slave to your next workout." 

That's hard too, so choose your hard, because this isn't that hard. You know, spend a couple of weeks maybe doing that, for some people it's less than that. You start to understand like, "Oh wow, this is- when I'm eating this way, I start to feel really good." 

And so I think sometimes we're used to doing the easy hard thing when there's probably another way that isn't as hard, it's just new to us. 

Shawn Stevenson:  Yeah, I love it. Choose your hard. You get to choose. 

Chalene Johnson:  You get to choose. 

Shawn Stevenson:  You get to choose, that's the great gift. 

Chalene Johnson:  Every single part of this book, I say, "It's your choice." You know? There are no hard and fast rules, everything is a suggestion, and I try to give- so if you want to try this, great. This is probably going to work the best. If not, try this. 

So there's lots of options because you sit in the driver's seat, and no one knows you better than you. If eliminating something from your diet that you'll read about is inflammatory, if that means that you're going to be a pain in the butt to live with and miserable, then don't eliminate it. You know, have it. 

If you're fasting and you cannot think about getting through your morning without your protein shake, well then have it. You're the person in charge, but know how it's affecting you, and make a decision that's right for you.

Shawn Stevenson:  Absolutely. Absolutely, so good. And the stories in here, the results, insane. Absolutely insane.

Chalene Johnson:  Thank you so much.

Shawn Stevenson:  And again, just so grateful and grateful that I got my hands on an early edition. This is going to be coming out just a couple of days before the official book release, so folks can pre-order it right now. 

Can you let them know where they can pre-order and pick up the book? I think you've got a couple of bonuses as well. 

Chalene Johnson:  Previews, yeah. 

Shawn Stevenson:  And also where they can connect with you online, too. 

Chalene Johnson:  Awesome. Yeah, so the piece that's really important to me - to both of us - because knowledge is great, but if you know it and you're not making those changes, why? Why is that happening? And we know that's mindset. 

So I was really fortunate enough the publisher said, "You know, we get that this is important to you," and they allowed me to create kind of a mindset coaching program. 

So you just pop in your earbuds, and listen, and help to kind of reverse engineer the right mindset to make this kind of change or any kind of change starts with belief. 

So the mindset training, that free piece is available to anyone who pre-orders the book, and you just enter your order number at 

You can enter your order number from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, anywhere you purchased it, and you can also go to that link to order the book. It's pretty simple.

To connect with me online, hit me up on Instagram, that's cool. I'm Chalene Johnson on Instagram, send me a DM, and I love having new listeners for The Chalene Show, so hopefully people stop by and say hello in the podcast. 

Shawn Stevenson:  Awesome. Oh so by the way, you're one of the few people that I like watch on Instagram, your posts, I read just about everything. 

I don't know why, I just love you. You know? I love the content, and if you're going to follow somebody on social media, it should be somebody that makes you smile, makes you think, and doesn't make you feel chitty, chitty, bang, bang about yourself. 

Chalene Johnson:  Amen. I've told you this before. I'm very, very selective about what I take in on social media, and you, and your family, and your wife, and your kids; so good, you need your own show.

Shawn Stevenson:  Oh, it might happen. Who knows? Listen, thank you so much really for coming to see me, and to hang out, and I appreciate you so much. This book is just something special, and I'm really excited for you.

Chalene Johnson:  You're one of my favorite people, favorite podcast. I mean seriously, there's such a huge debt of gratitude so many people have to you for teaching us how important it is to take care of our health inside and out, so thanks for having me here.

Shawn Stevenson:  I receive that, thank you. Thank you, thank you. Everybody, Chalene Johnson.

Listen, this is just an important moment in our culture right now because there's a big shift taking place. We had the time of follow the rules, cookie cutter, this is the ultimate diet that's going to end all diets. 

That's not how stuff works. We are all so different, we're so unique, and even within ourselves we're different than we were last week or last year. 

And to have the tools, and to have the flexibility to change and adapt, that's the ultimate place that we want to get. And that's where, again, that's where things are shifting right now, and Chalene is at the forefront of this with this new book. 

So definitely go and grab yourself a copy and get those extra bonuses as well, like right now. Alright? Head over there, check it out, it's 

And listen, this is just the beginning, alright? We're just scratching the surface. We've got some incredible powerhouse episodes coming your way, and if you got a lot of value out of this episode, make sure to pop over to social media and share it out with the people that you care about. 

Alright? And tag me, I'm @ShawnModel. Tag Chalene as well, it's @ChaleneJohnson on the different platforms, and share the love. Alright? Sharing is caring. 

So again, incredible stuff coming up for you, so make sure to be ready. Take care, have an amazing day, and I'll talk with you soon.

And for more after the show, make sure to head over to That's where you can find all of the show notes, you can find transcriptions, videos for each episode, and if you've got a comment you can leave me a comment there as well. 

And please make sure to head over to iTunes and leave us a rating to let everybody know that the show is awesome, and I appreciate that so much. 

And take care, I promise to keep giving you more powerful, empowering, great content to help you transform your life. Thanks for tuning in.

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