If you have struggled with health, self-esteem or weight issues, this episode is for you. Bryan Falchuk is a best-selling author, speaker and life coach. He has faced major adversities and learned how to overcome and achieve. From obesity to running marathons, from career struggles to success as a C-level executive, from watching illness threaten his family to finding lasting health, he has been through many lessons he used to develop his unique approach to inspiring others to succeed.
Bryan not only shares his amazing story, he shares so much more.
Meet Bryan Falchuk
Bryan Falchuk is a best-selling author, professional speaker and life coach. He’s been a C-level executive and part of several startups. He is also committed to helping people overcome and achieve in their lives after overcoming his own challenges. Bryan’s best- selling first book, Do a Day, teaches his approach to overcoming what stands in our way in life. He has spoken at 3 TEDx events, and has written articles for many major publications like Inc. Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, and LA Times. A frequent guest on many podcasts, he hosts his own weekly show called “Do a Day.”
In This Podcast
- Bryan’s story of personal struggles
- Exactly what “Do a Day” is
- How to “Do a Day”
- Why the “Do a Day” philosophy has transformed Bryan’s life
Bryan’s story of personal struggles
Bryan’s parents divorced when he was very young, and often like many divorces, it had a lasting impact on him. He sought out food as comfort in periods of what felt like instability. As a result, he ended up rapidly gaining weight to the point of being 100 pounds overweight by fifth grade. While Bryan was able to shed the pounds by the end of high school, his motivation stemmed from the same source of anxiety. Coupled with a fear of regaining weight, Bryan had an unhealthy obsession with working out upwards of five and a half hours a day.
This unhealthy mentality around fitness ultimately led Bryan to seeing almost half of his lost weight creep back up and on top of this, his wife became severely ill. While they had coped with bouts of her illness that could last up to 48 hours, this particular summer was looking grim as her condition worsened every day. With a seemingly apathetic doctor on vacation for 6 weeks, Bryan was faced with watching his young son witness the potential withering away of his wife and mother of his child. What he truly valued was crystallized in that very moment, his son’s happiness. What he came to realize, though, was that his ultimate motivation had to come from within himself.
Exactly what “Do a Day” is
“Do a Day” starts with a sense of your own motivation. If your true motivation is the foundation of a house, self-love is the ground on which it is built. It’s starting from a place of respecting yourself enough to believe that you deserve better and that you are capable of better. If you come out the gate fighting that notion, the rest of the work is irrelevant because you’re always going to hold yourself back. The second aspect is understanding your operating laws at your core and what matters to you. If you’re not willing to understand those core values, your decision basis is never going to resonate with you. A third and a primary component is mindfulness. All become self-reinforcing to make up “Do a Day.”
How to “Do a Day”
Rather than getting caught up on yesterday or tomorrow, have a mindful focus on the here and now. Celebrate the daily successes that take you to the next victory. Staying in frantic mode or waiting for the sky to fall rarely ends up with you saving the day. At the end of the day, nobody really knows what tomorrow will bring. And since we don’t know what tomorrow will be, the way you engage with the potentiality of that can end up robbing you of your achievements in the present moment. That could mean that whole “sky is falling” situation doesn’t even come to pass for you to have to save the day. Freaking out does not equate to the saving the day. In fact, how do you know freaking out hasn’t actually caused the “sky is falling” moments?
Why the “Do a Day” philosophy has transformed Bryan’s life
When he woke up one day while considering all the possibilities of his ill wife and son, he was struck with clarity around how he needed to make a shift from within to create structure for his son and to support his happiness. In leaning into these profound feelings, he recognized that he also deserved happiness, which he truly wasn’t at the time. He latched onto the phrase “dig deep” and with some introspection was able to uncover his true motivation.
“Do a Day” has literally meant getting from here to there whether it’s climbing a mountain or running a marathon. Mentally, it made him realize that in training for a marathon, he had time with his thoughts by pushing the physical aspect of it aside to experience the world, which was a huge growth opportunity for him. Getting back to running after an injury meant celebrating each step he took as a new record. He figured out in each moment what he had to do to get to that next achievement.
You’re not running 26.2 today. You know, you’re not losing a hundred pounds today. You’re not getting to the summit in this step. You just need to figure out what can you do in this moment to get yourself to the next moment.
And the sum total of those moments is your achievement. And that’s kind of a philosophical change and I apply it to lots of things.
Blueprint to Thrive Coaching Program
If you feel stuck, lack direction or feel like you are holding yourself back in life, just reach out to me for your Blueprint to Thrive Coaching Program. In this program, I show you step-by-step, through short videos and activities, how to let go of the limiting beliefs holding you back, determine what is really important to you, and the imperfect daily actions to get you there. And it comes with 2 free 30 min. coaching sessions to help you in the areas in which you want more attention.
Click here to get started.
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Books mentioned in this episode
Meet Kathryn Ely
I’m Kathryn Ely and at age 50, I’m enjoying my very best life. I spent years as a lawyer and then stay-at-home mom helping others go out into the world and live their best lives. While this was very important to me, I did not realize that I was losing myself in the process. I followed all of the “shoulds” like “women should always care for others” and “taking time for yourself is just selfish”.
As two of my children were getting ready to go out into the world I realized I was lost, without my next purpose, and it was scary. So I went back to school and over the course of several years, I not only found myself, but I designed the formula for women in midlife to achieve their most fulfilling lives. It is my mission to equip as many women as possible with this design and the tools to make this chapter of their lives the best chapter.
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Imperfect Thriving is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you thrive, imperfectly. To hear other podcasts like the Bomb Mom Podcast, Beta Male Revolution, or Empowered and Unapologetic, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.
Welcome to the show, Bryan, I’m so excited to have you here.
Thank you for having me on. I’m excited to be here.
So I absolutely loved your book “Do a Day.” It is amazing. Absolutely amazing. And so now of course, after reading it, I know a little bit about you, but for those listeners who might not have read it or don’t know about you, tell us about yourself.
Sure. So I am a husband and father, and, right now struggling business person, trying to figure out how do you start a business and help it to thrive in a situation where we’re all going through. But I’m also an author who writes about kinda my experiences and beliefs and what I’ve learned as a result of my own struggles and mistakes and all that kind of good stuff and “Do a Day” is my first book.
And it’s also the philosophy through which I have changed and continue to live my life. From a backstory standpoint, like I was obese and overridden by anxiety and not really doing what I needed to do about that. And so “Do a Day” is this kind of crucible moment where everything changed that has defined the way that I’ve gone about things since then. That was nine years ago, this past summer.
Yeah so I’m so in touch with that, I had completely different circumstances, but a similar experience in my life about when I went back to school at 46 to get my master’s in clinical mental health to become a licensed counselor. I had been a lawyer. It was then I kind of realized how anxiety and then actually perfectionism had completely been ruling my life.
And I didn’t even realize it.
Yeah. Or we justify it, right? Like, Oh, well this is why I’ve had these things, or this is how I get through it. Or it’s warning me about the stuff that’s coming.
Yeah. Or I’m just a Type A personality. That’s all it is. So tell me about that experience that was so life changing to you that led you to this philosophy.
Sure. So I mean to set the stage for it, the reason why I had the anxiety I had is my parents got divorced really early on in my life. I was the marriage saver baby, and a spoiler alert that didn’t work out.
Neither of them will admit to that. But you do the math. It’s pretty obvious.
So I’ll blame my, my next step up from me, sister. She was always the one who was at fault. It was never me. Right. So it was just all the fighting because of her led to divorce. I think that’s what it was. As a little kid you just need to know that things are okay and that you’re taken care of and things weren’t and there was a lot of instability and at four or five years old, you don’t understand any of those feelings.
So you seek that comfort and that stability, wherever you can get it. And I wasn’t getting that through my family. Their hands were full and obviously going through a divorce as much as you want to be through there for your kids, like you’ve got your own stuff that you’re dealing with.
And so it’s not to fault my parents. but I turned to food and I turned to food really hard. And, it works really well in like a maybe 30 seconds to 90 seconds window as you’re eating those Oreos or whatever. But, beyond that, you just feel empty again. And so you go back for more and that was my story, so I ended up a hundred pounds overweight pretty early on.
Like I weigh right now what I did, I say my fifth grade weight. It’s possible this is like late fourth grade and I’m 42. Someone’s like, well, I don’t know if that’s saying the wrong things about fourth and fifth grade around like it’s about the childhood time. Like that was not right.
My son is roughly that age and I weigh like a hundred pounds more than he weighs. For the same size and same height and all that.
And if y’all can see him right now, you wouldn’t even believe it. I mean, how fit you are. It’s hard to even believe that. But anyway, go ahead.
It’s been a transformation, but so I actually lost weight at the end of high school, but I did it really from that same place of anxiety. I eventually got the tools to lose weight, and the exercise and the understanding. And then of course, as a teenage boy, you want girls to like you, so there’s your short term motivation, which was a good lesson in short term motivator.
Cause once I lost weight, I left high school where everyone knew me as the fat kid, even though I was thin and fit. I was pretty strong back then. I go to college. Nobody knew me as fat Bryan, except me. I certainly still saw myself that way, but suddenly all of that social pressure of being the fat kid was gone.
And what was replaced is the fear that I was going to become that again. So once again, it’s an anxiety story and it effectively, I was bulimic. I wasn’t doing it through purging. Wasn’t vomiting purging. I was purging through exercise excessive. Like I mean like the summer before college, I would be at the local gym for probably about five and a half hours a day and at least three and a half that was cardio. I was a skier as well. So I had all my thermals. I wore my thermals and then like a tee shirt and shorts over it. And I would just like sit on a recumbent bike for an hour and a half. And the staff would be looking at me funny and I’m like making this puddle under me as well.
Those were my days, so clearly not the right mentality. So I wasn’t fixing the reason why I was obese. And even though I lost the weight, And so what happens then? Well, most people who lose weight, you end up gaining it back. If you’re not losing it for the right reasons in the right ways.
So sure enough, at first slowly and then it started to come on in my twenties. Life changes, you got a job, you got more pressure that starts to build. So I put on if I had gotten down to 185 to 190 at my lowest, by the time I was now talking 2011, I’m married, I got a two year old and my wife becomes gravely ill.
And at that point I was 222. So I put back on 40ish pounds of the 100 that I had lost. It was the summer of 2011. That was my moment where my wife suddenly became very sick. She had had these bouts throughout, like since childhood and they’d be like 24, 48 hours, very extreme, you know, lots of different symptoms.
And the first one came on our honeymoon for me. She had had them years before, but they kind of let up, so she thought she was passed it. And then we’re in the middle of paradise, but no access to anything. And she just gets incredibly sick. Yeah we got through that and the next day she was okay.
But we’d have these over and over. And then so one hits in 2011 and I’m thinking like, okay she needs 24, 48 hours. We’ll get through this. Like I took the day off from work and there for her. Two days, three days, each day, she’s worse. We keep I keep going to sleep in like tomorrow, like please let this be the day we wake up and she’s over it.
And it just wasn’t happening. And she kept getting worse, which was, I think if you told me each day she’ll be worse tomorrow, I wouldn’t be able to comprehend what that meant. Because it seems so extreme each day is like, how do you define worse? Like, there’s nowhere else for her to go each day. You feel like now we’ve hit rock bottom the only places that goes to get better or at least stay the same.
So she starts wasting away. She got down to we’re at about a hundred pounds and June 30th, like 4 something in the afternoon, her doctor calls to tell me her primary care to tell me, I’m going on vacation for six weeks. I don’t really think there’s anything else to do for her.
He was sort of saying like, she’s doing this to herself. She’s just, she’s worked up. Well, how would you feel if we’re now a month into this? And you’re basically bedridden. So he’s like there’s nothing else to do. I’ll check in in six weeks. Now at that point, she was losing two pounds a day.
So she was a hundred that day. She got to be 98 by the end of tomorrow. And there comes a certain point where you can’t lose any more weight. So I just said to him, I said, doctor, do the math. She’s not going to be here when you get back. And that was the first time I had verbalized the fear that I was sitting with that like each day is getting worse.
And at some point there isn’t a worse anymore. There’s just nothing. And, he just really flippantly is like, Oh, just take her to the ER, if you need to and he hung up. So that was my moment. Cause I walked back into our bedroom and yeah.
I can’t imagine your level of frustration and really even possibly anger with that man of not having any sort of empathy for what ya’ll were going through.
She has chronic Lyme disease, which is for some reason is very controversial and not accepted in the medical establishment. And for me t’s like, I loved history class growing up and I’m reminded of medieval times where everything was bloodletting as like, whatever you had.
There’s a joke on Saturday night live where like there’s a huge carriage accident or whatever they rode back then and everyone’s bleeding out. The guy’s playing the barber who’s also the doctor. Cause that’s what they were. And then he’s like, get the leeches. It’s like, they’re bleeding to death.
It’s like, well, let’s take some blood to save them. Right. That was science back then. And we observe and we learn and we grow and that’s not what I was finding. But this is typically the way it is when they new thinking comes about, or people are observing something different you’re a heretic, you’re against science, and then it becomes accepted.
Four out of five doctors smoke Marlboros or Camels or whatever it was back then, like all it’s a stress relief is a good thing. No, it’ll kill you. So that’s what it really felt like. So for the medical community, you know, they have their set answers. She didn’t fall into what those were. She tested positive for Lyme and didn’t test positive for any of what they were talking about.
And we had a doctor who insisted she had full blown AIDS.
Oh my gosh. That is so frustrating. I had a similar experience with my daughter when she was 12. She was a swimmer and she started losing her hair. She was losing weight, she looks so pale. The pediatricians, I kept taking her back and they were like, I can’t find anything.
They said, she’s got anxiety. I said, well, she probably does now. There’s an underlying physical component and something is going on in her body. And I had to research and find out and discover that, wait, she’s a swimmer. They don’t need to just test her Hermatocrit they need to test her iron stores. And her iron stores were completely depleted.
Which does cause all of those things and anxiety and lots of other things. And so I felt very abandoned. We can’t find an answer. So we’re going to quit looking and say, she just has anxiety.
Right. And so take this medication that just kind of gonna shut you down.
Yeah. You need to take her to a psychiatrist.
Yeah. Which like, there’s nothing wrong with that. We could all use that support and there’s something real going on. Look at a lot of the diagnoses today. I mean, this is a totally different tangent. My editor actually take this out of “Do a Day”cause I went down this path.
So many of the things that people have are really just a list of symptoms, but there’s no root cause of those symptoms that’s understood. It’s like we’re naming these…do you have nine out of these 14 things? I think that’s, that’s the number for Fibromyalgia, but there isn’t like, Oh, there’s the gene or there’s the virus or there’s this or that.
It’s like, Oh, you exhibit these symptoms. So we’re going to call that irritable bowel syndrome. Well, why did they have irritable bowel syndrome? What’s going on with their microbiome? What’s going on with a CBO, with like any number of different things that we actually can figure out and can do something about.
Except that it challenges the norm of what you, as the establishment, have stood for and that’s a threat, but doctors are scientists which means observe and learn and grow. So I wish we could get back to that, but in that moment, all I was thinking is fear and frustration. I wasn’t actually angry with him because we were so over.
Like, I didn’t have expectations of him anymore. And we were at the point where it was up to us, but what was overwhelming for me was this was the first, like, not just voice inside of me, verbalization of the reality. Like I had been thinking, like I could very well be a widower with a two year old very shortly.
It’s one thing if we were like 90, we’re in our early thirties, just started our family. Not that it’s ever okay. Or you’re happy about it or it’s like, yeah, whatever, we’re old it’s okay. But like, we were just starting our life together, not ending it. So that’s what was hitting me as the reality of that.
And I got off the phone and walked into our bedroom and my son was there looking at his mom, stuck in bed. When he turned and looked at me like that was it you see your child’s eyes and that kind of context. And, that was my wake up moment.
What did you get from his eyes…What was he saying to you?
What did you hear when he gave you that look?
One of the things that struck me really hard as going back to what I felt in my parents’ divorce about things not being okay. He was even younger than I was, and look at not downplaying divorce or comparing our experiences, but like, he’s watching his mother die in front of his eyes.
That’s a whole other level of things are not okay. Then your parents are living in two different places and you’re shuttling back and forth and whatever it’s a completely different context. And for me then to take that and think about what that means for the rest of his life and where I went to with that was his happiness is the single most important thing to me.
And very well may be completely on my shoulders.
I’m hearing in that moment that what you valued the most was completely crystalized in front of you. That was it. And then how did that drive you?
So, recognizing that. If his happiness means more to me than anything. And I will say, you listen to “Do a Day” on audio book, which is the original release of it.
I didn’t rerecord it, but I did rerelease the book at the one year and I made some changes to it because I had done additional growth. What I wasn’t clear on yet was me. So in that moment, my purpose, my biggest motivation was my son’s happiness. And my own failures really in how I was living my life to support his happiness.
Like if he’s going to have any chance at happiness, what I felt in that moment is it’s not the way that I’m being and things need to change. What I’ve come to understand differently is, and I talk about it in the book, like your ultimate motivation, your ultimate purpose has to be within you. And to be fair, or to be dead honest, I was cheating.
So I’m like, as a parent, you feel them inside of you, but he isn’t really in me. And that’s the change I made in the book is he was a mirror into my own feelings about myself and my lack of self esteem and self. I mean, I was still the fat kid in my mind, still the failure of my parents’ marriage.
So many things that I wished I wasn’t, and I couldn’t deal with that. And that’s why I was the way I was in all these other areas. And that took much more work for me to get to. But in the moment, my love for my son and the importance of his happiness for the rest of his life, which is, it sounds selfish in some respects, but we have to get over that.
That’s a mirror for your feelings about yourself and what your childhood was and wasn’t, and what you’ve had to endure, that you would never wish upon your children, like the closest thing that you’re ever going to have in this life to yourself.
Yeah. And as parents, I’m glad that you like explained the further work that you did that I missed out on the audible book, because as parents, we can’t be the parent that we want to be to our children if we haven’t yet worked our own stuff out because. we’re not going to be present for them in the same way.
We’re still going to be in our heads, figuring ourselves out, working on things and we can’t be fully present. But when you get to the bottom of everything and you’ve worked on those issues, resolve those issues, then that is when the magic happens, right. You can be fully focused on living that value.
Yeah. And things that were, I mean, they weren’t even impossible cause you wouldn’t even have dreamt of thinking about doing them, to then blow them off as impossible are now completed. Like there are things that you will achieve that you would laugh at yourself and join the chorus, making fun of you for even thinking about it.
And I definitely want to go in that direction at some point, but I want to dig in a little bit more to your childhood. And we know a little bit from when you were four and five and, and how that felt, but could you paint a picture of how your interaction with your family and others around you sort of helped you create that fat Bryan picture of yourself and what your own thoughts about yourself were?
Yeah, I think that that gets to the core of it. Yeah. Well, it’s interesting. Cause I felt like I was capable and accomplished in a lot of ways and a complete and utter failure in others and my image of myself and that repeated battle every morning with what are you doing, man? Like, you gotta stop eating like this.
You can do different, like you’re miserable too. Everyone’s making fun of you. You gotta stop this and have these like kind of tough love pep talks. Literally every morning, I can remember it in, by like nine, 10 o’clock out the window. No probably by like seven o’clock when you know, bigger breakfast than it I should have had, it’s gone.
Like I did pretty well in school. I was a bit of a class clown. So I could have done better, but I think the teachers were annoyed with me or I was like rushing through things. Cause I didn’t have this drive to do things. So I’d be like, Oh, I don’t want to do the rest of this test it’s so long. And so I’d like go as fast as I can just to be done with it.
And I’ve always been about just finishing things I don’t like. Then you go to the physical side and no matter how much I apply myself, how hard I try, how much I know I want different, I want better. I just can’t do it. I keep getting drawn back into the wrong things.
Of course I did, because I still have all this pain. I have this sense of things that aren’t okay. And like, you eat that cake, you eat that, whatever. I mean, it doesn’t have to be unhealthy. You just eat a lot of whatever it is. And you feel satiated even just for a moment. And like, I was really weak for that.
Cause I wanted to feel better. And remember, I just would rush through the tough stuff. So like, I wasn’t willing to slow down and put the work in and make that shift in my own sense of who I am.
It’s like, I see little kids who who are chubby or whatever, and their attitudes are awesome. I mean, they love themselves. And I wish, for their sake, for their health, that physically, they were in a different place. But the fact that they love themselves means they could probably get themselves to a different place when they have the other tools in that toolbox in place.
But like to start from that place rather than kids who look exactly the same, but they’re ashamed of themselves, whether they show it outside or not. And it’s so weird. I live in outside of Boston. I was running along the Charles river, which if you’re a runner and you come into Boston, you gotta do it.
It’s beautiful. I ran past a kid who looked exactly like me. I mean, spitting image of me at like 13, 14. His haircut and clothes were a little more modernized than like late eighties, early nineties. But, it was me through and through, and I feel like our eyes locked for a second. Ah, he probably didn’t feel or see anything, but I, I just felt this, like this kid is sad inside.
And like, I could be dead wrong, but there’s something about, maybe I was projecting me cause he looked like me or whatever, but like there’s something in his sense of self that is going to keep holding him back until he’s willing to see himself differently. And as I’m thinking those things here, I am running, like I’ve got an 11 mile run that I’m on.
It’s like I can walk down the block for awhile. I wouldn’t want to, even if I could, and I felt this sense of possibility and power in remembering where I came from and what I very powerful word I did for myself.
So, how did you take what you felt in that sort of that feeling that you had from the way your son looked at you and how your wife’s health was going. How did you take that and create, “Do a Day.”
This was later in the day when that phone call happened, that feeling. And I knew, I felt very different, but like we’ve all had moments of inspiration or like feeling energized or whatever. And I had a lot on my plate, so I couldn’t really like, just go think about it for a little while.
I had a two year old to take care of and a at that point, seemingly dying wife. My wife is still alive, but it certainly didn’t look that way. So I have my hands full and I was still working full time. I was able to work from home for a month while we figured things out. So I go to bed. I always been an early riser, I woke up at five the next morning and I still felt it, I was literally like buzzing. I can’t explain it. It was like my felt it in my bones. And that morning pep talk was different this time. It wasn’t like, okay, you got to do different. It’s like, why do I feel this? This doesn’t feel quite the same.
And I recognize that if I don’t pause and spend time with this feeling to understand why it’s different, it’s going to fade away. Cause I’m not going to give it the right kind of soil and fertilizer to grow in. And, I work fast. So in that first 30 minutes that morning, it’s pitch black, it’s quiet.
I just thought through like, what is it? And I went to that moment and it was so extreme that I think I could get enough clarity to start making progress on it. But it hit me like a tidal wave and my son looked at me. So I knew where it came from. I knew the moment where it came from the emotions involved, the sense of losing my wife, this sense of my son’s life and his happiness and the he’s basically watching both of his parents die.
One of them just had a slower rate. This was all really profound and really clear. And so I just spent more time with those feelings and understand, what is it that matters most to me in all of what’s going on. And it’s my focus around him and what can I do to support his happiness going forward?
Which means doing better right now, but also creating the structure and the role modelship, if that’s a word, so that even if his mom’s gone, he can look to someone and be like, that’s the model I want to follow. That’s how I want to be. I can create happiness and success for myself, even if I lose my mom.
Yeah. We’re creating a model, a philosophy, a way of living to be the example that you want it to be for your son.
Yeah. And the evolution of that was also like, and by the way I deserve that too. Like, it’s not just for him. It’s also cause why should I…I was miserable, I was overweight again.
I had had back surgery a couple of years earlier and I never did the PTs. My doctor didn’t push for it because again, no one does it. Don’t worry. I’m like good. I don’t want to do it because my back hurt. I wasn’t sleeping. Well, obviously all this stuff going on, I was miserable. And not doing anything.
Cause my style had always been, you just fight, just keep gritting your teeth and get through it. And you know what, there’s a lot of stuff I did, but man was life miserable. And was I miserable to be around because of that.
Yeah. Grit can only get you so far.
Yeah. And it does not like you don’t build a great life that way.
If you’re gritting through something tough. That’s fantastic. On the other side is great for you. It’s not really about grit. It’s because you had a bigger purpose driving you through. Don’t give grit more credit. That’s just a bit of endurance. That’s not really what’s defining your life.
And so in, these thoughts, these feelings, I found the points to latch onto you. And for me, it was like that phrase dig deep. It’s about identifying what it is you’re actually digging for, which is not just a little bit more energy or like, well, it’s a pain it’s almost done. That’s not a motivation or like, a girl thinking I’m attractive.
It doesn’t work. That’s why, like once no one knew me in the old context, no one really cared. So it stopped being about how I like the fear that I was going to look a different way. Or people would look at me, one way or the other, like that didn’t last. And then I got married. So it’s like, well, I don’t need any other girls to like me.
Cause I got this one and now it’s too late. Like she’s not going to leave. I got a kid with her. No, like. None of those things matter. They’re all fleeting, beach season, your high school reunion union. Like you want your ex to think, you look like that’s all fine. And that’s why people lose weight.
But none of it ever sticks because that’s not motivation. That’s just a date on my calendar. So I needed that deeper point to pull on because when you’re working out and it’s tough and you want to stop when you’re deciding between one thing to eat or the other, and you know which one you should choose and you know how you’re going to feel on the backside after, even though it might be more enjoyable in the moment, it’s about how you feel longer term or, putting in that hard work to find a new job.
When the job you have is fine and it pays the bills, but you hate it. Like these are all tough things. Or for me, one of the biggest was going to talk to someone about my own anxiety issues. I had every excuse in the book and that was probably the biggest thing that I did. And I don’t think any of the other things would have persisted if I didn’t start that self work process and we can make excuses.
Well, I read a lot of self help books or, you know, I’m very introspective. I had someone, I was coaching. She gave me that. She’s like, I’m very introspective. I’ve really already done this work. And I’m thinking like, why did you sign up for this? Cause clearly some part of you is like, I need to do more work.
That’s stuff’s all great. And it’s very valuable to talk to someone else about it.
Yeah, absolutely. We all have a lens through which we see the world, there is no one, real truth. It’s my truth. That’s your truth. And no matter how self aware we are, there are some things that we try really hard to keep from ourselves and so having someone else with another lens, and really not someone that’s not in your family, someone who doesn’t love you. Someone who was completely objective and learning about you through your voice for the first time can see things and hear things and bring things to light that we just can’t do on our own.
Yeah. And they have a right to challenge you in a way that a loved one really can’t. Yes, it needs to be someone. So it’s funny, like writing books, that’s what my editor is. I’ve always had like friends or peers or whatever, take a look and they’ll come back. Like, this is great. I love it. And it’s like, that’s really nice, but that’s not going to make my book better.
And my editor, I’ve worked with the same guy on all my books and he gets my intention, which is that’s the most important thing. Right. And he’s like, have you really pushed yourself here. There’s something you’re not bringing out in this piece. Or I get what you mean, but you’re making connections in your head that you’re not making on paper.
And because I’m an outsider, I can catch that gap even though I know your intention. Whereas if I knew the story, if I worked alongside you in that, I’d be making the same connections and I’m going to miss it. So he can call me out for those things. Like I mentioned that the whole medical scientist thing, like he’s like, Bryan, I understand, I agree with you on this, but you’ve taken the reader down a rabbit hole that’s pulling them out of your main message. So you need to pull this out and that’s hard to do because you care about what you’re saying, but if you want to move the world forward, you have to let go of this sidebar.
Yeah totally get that. So. What is “Do a Day? What is the philosophy?
Yeah. So “Do a Day” it starts with a sense of your true motivation.
And this is the difference in the two versions of the book. The newer one starts somewhere else, actually with self-love. So I talk about your true motivation is like the foundation of your house. That’s awesome. But you don’t start building a house just by building a foundation.
You start by scouting out the ground and that self-love like, you don’t build it on a swamp. Right. You don’t build it on a sand that’s going to give away. So self love is you have to start from a place of respecting yourself enough to believe that you deserve better and that you’re capable of better.
And if you’re gonna fight that notion, the rest of the work is irrelevant because you’re always going to hold yourself back. And that’s the place I was at.
I feel like we’re so in sync with that, cause I mean, I’m a licensed counselor, but I also coach people using the same philosophy and what drew me to the type of counseling that I do “acceptance commitment therapy” is it has an aspect that cognitive behavioral doesn’t. The focus of self-love right? So there are three big components. One is mindfulness, mindful and intentional, one is self-love, and one is being valued centered. So that’s exactly what I do with my clients.
But the thing is, and I say that that we have eight domains and the most important of which is physical and mental wellbeing. If you don’t have the self-love, if you don’t have self value, then it doesn’t matter if you are focused on your values, you won’t think you deserve it and it’s just not going to happen.
Yeah. You’re completely right. Yeah. And those three pieces that you mentioned, like, self love, we talked about that. being centered on your values is really what the true motivation is about. Yeah. It’s understanding your operating laws at your core, what matters to you. What is okay by you and what isn’t.
if you’re not willing to understand those, your decision basis is going to be off. It’s never going to resonate with you, or you won’t know when you’ve made a decision that really isn’t the right one and you won’t know why you’re deciding what you’re deciding. And so it gets very hard to stick to the path when you’re on the right path.
So that’s the true motivation is like what matters to you above all else? And why, what is that your 10 commandments for you as a human being.
And if we have that, every time we take an action toward those values, our level of self love and self respect goes up. When we don’t head in that direction, it goes down.
Yeah. So the thing about all of this and the third piece is mindfulness, which is what “Do a Day” itself means. So spot on to what you’re saying, all of these things become self-reinforcing. Yeah. And like I say, like one success gets the next, because you’re building the structure for better and you move yourself to this next level.
And from there you go to the next one, you don’t jump from the base to the top. That’s kind of the idea of “Do a Day” itself. A mindful focus on what’s going on right here right now. And where we tend to get tripped up is yesterday and tomorrow. So we have all this, the loss, the pain, the mistakes, and we carry all that forward.
And we give up our current behavior and opportunity because we’re punishing ourselves or we’re longing for or if my wife did die, what am I supposed to do for my son? Just focus on like, well, your mother’s not here, ao we can’t. Or if she was here with this. Well, she isn’t, and that’s terrible and it’s not to diminish it, but what can we do?
Because we are here, and are we honoring her memory? And you know, it’s not to ignore the past is not to just be like, okay, that happened. I’m over it. When people say I’m over it and they’re still crying, you’re not. So have your feelings go through that process. I share all these examples.
Like there’s one more, I screwed up royally at work and probably should have gotten fired. It’s a good story. I wish it didn’t happen, but it’s a good story. But what you find is like really nobody actually cared. It was bad in the moment. I think I was very responsible about it. I handled it really well in the moment, but what I didn’t handle well was it’s like I fired myself even though the company didn’t.
And so I became very difficult to work with because I was suspicious that everyone was there to take me out. Or what was I going to screw up next? Or what would they say I screwed up because I’m an easy target since I just had this other screw up.
I think it was nobody cared about any of that. They had moved on. And when I had my six month review a couple months later, they didn’t even mention the mistake, which they should have. I mentioned it in my writeup, but they didn’t. So like the company actually didn’t care. But what they did mention was your behavior over the past couple of months has been quite difficult.
People found you to be combative and no one knows why. I’m like, how do you not know why? That’s when it dawned on me is like I’m living in yesterday. I’m living as if I’m constantly making that mistake. And everyone is constantly mad at me, even though like literally the world moved on except for me.
And the only mistake that I’m being punished for right now is my behavior from being tied to that past mistake. So we live with that yesterday, every single day
I love it. It’s really an intentional boundary to keep you present focused, and it just increases your ability to focus and be mindful and intentional about what it is that’s most important to you.
Yeah. Yeah and you don’t have to give up what you’ve got going on right now. So we do it with tomorrow too, you know, the fear and anticipation, and I’m sure in your work as an attorney, it was like, what’s going to go wrong with this. And it’s constant, right? The sky is always about to fall if I’m not there to hold it up.
For me, that was probably my bigger issue. And a lot of it was tied to my childhood and the instability that was there and because I was the one who stepped in for myself and for others a lot. And here’s where we get to justifying it. That’s why I was where I was at, that’s why I had the success I had.
That’s why I was financially responsible. That’s why people depended on me. And when my wife got sick, that’s why I could step in and keep that family going and care for my son and pay the bills and all those things. So how bad could it be? Isn’t it a good thing that I’m constantly freaking out about everything that’s gonna go wrong so I can save the day.
What I realized is. You can save the day, whether you’re freaking out. First of all, you don’t have to be a basket case or frantic to make things better. Second of all, you don’t actually know what’s going to happen. And case in point loud and clear with my wife, everyone saying, she’s going to die.
The, doing the math on it, she’s not going to survive another month, let alone the summer. And she is still here nine years later. So even when we’re like the sky was so clearly falling, then. No matter what we think, you don’t know. And the question you gotta ask yourself is when you justify, Oh, it’s because I freaked out.
That’s why everything was okay. How do you know that? How do you know that maybe some of your freak outs created other sky falling moments? And if you can handle the differently, things would be smoother. This is like, we don’t know what tomorrow is and the way we engage with the potentiality of that ends up costing us our achievement in the here and now that could mean that whole situation doesn’t even come to pass for you to have to save the day. But you’re not even allowing for that. Again cause of self love.
Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. At the end of the day, self love is what gets you through.
So I remind myself of that every morning and my morning mindfulness routine. I have certain questions that I ask myself daily. And one of it is, one of the questions, how do I want to show up for the people I love in my life today? Another one is, how am I going to show up for myself today that at the end of the day, I’m happy with myself.
I respect myself because in the end, when I don’t, if I don’t, I’m not going to be able to be that person for the people that I love. And so I love that, it seems so simple, right. Do a day. But that intentional boundary is something that so many of us overlook. So I absolutely love that.
So what I want to do here is find out some of the things that living the “Do a Day” philosophy has done for you, meaning like it took you from here to here. I want to know some of those.
Yeah. Well, so some of the things are literally here to here kind of things and what I would say, and this is part of that tomorrow is all the work we still have in front of us, which is crushing.
And so the weight loss is the most front and center. That’s where like everyday to lose a hundred pounds is daunting. And there’s people who have more than that. There’s people who have less. So the actual number doesn’t matter. It’s always daunting. How many people have five pounds they want to lose that just can’t get there.
It’s hard. And with a hundred pounds, you bust your hump. You go hard at the gym every day. You eat nothing. Sweating it out, whatever you’re doing and you get on the scales. 98 pounds left or 99. I tell you like that is as hard as a hundred and probably more demoralizing because you’re like, I don’t have anything left to me. How am I supposed to do this? And that’s why we fall off the wagon.
And I’ve seen that with people with drinking or other things that they’re abusing substances of some kind, right. Climbing a mountain. So literally I climbed the three tallest peaks in New England where I live.
And first of all, I’m afraid of heights. So that’s one thing, even if I’m on the ground, I’m still afraid. Yeah. But there were so many moments where it was the middle of the summer, but I was getting pelted with sleet. It actually snowed on Mount Washington. This is like mid July. I got sunburned in a tank top and was like all bundled up in the same climb it’s wild, but like I wanted to quit.
I was scared. I was tired. But I kept going, because I was like, why am I doing this? Is it my mind? Is my body? Is it because there’s still so much to go and we’re not even at the top yet. And then this has been so long coming up. It’s going to be really hard going back down. I just want to get in the car and clean up and leave.
And I’m hungry. Like all that just starts to pile on. But I say here to there, I’ve run a marathon. I’m a fat guy who doesn’t run. No, I’m not. And I always feel a little twinge when I say this I’m a runner. And I always say to people like, you feel like you’re not qualified or you jog like, guess what if you’ve run, you’re a runner.
Okay. You’re not a professional athlete runner. You’re not making your career. Most people aren’t, but you can still call yourself a runner and you can be okay with that. You don’t have to be ashamed or shy or whatever. So I’ve run that’s 26.2 miles from here to there and all the training before that. It’s funny, you drive around your city and you think of the relative distances of things, and then you start running it and either things seem further or they seem closer.
So for me now, having done some of those long runs, I’ve run from my house in the suburbs into Boston and back and gone through some of the other towns. And I’m like, once I got into those longer distances, I started to realize it’s really small. Cause to me like a two or three hour run became not a big deal and it was so enjoyable.
And I had time with my mind putting the physical side of it aside to experience the world. So that was a huge growth opportunity for me. And a lot of those runs were like, every step I took was a new record for me and it didn’t matter how many more I had to go. And that first run is like two miles and I was coming back from injury and that was hard.
And I’m like, how am I supposed to run 26.2? I can’t I’m struggling at two, well, guess what? You’re not running 26.2 today. You know, you’re not losing a hundred pounds today. You’re not getting to the summit in this step. You just need to figure out what can you do in this moment to get yourself to the next moment?
And the sum total of those moments is your achievement. And that’s kind of a philosophical change and I apply it to lots of things. A couple of century rises a hundred mile rides. One of them was supposed to be a 100K, which is 62 miles and they screwed up the course. So at mile 80, I was totally out of water.
And I’d only been riding for about six weeks. I was brand new to cycling. But I was at the front of the pack. So it was like none of this was possible. And I stupidly rode to and from the event from my house, another 10 miles. So actually at 120 miles to go that day when I had planned to do half of that. But I could cause you know what, I’m not finishing the ride, finding the finish line, getting food and hydration and getting myself home yet.
And maybe my wife can come pick me up or like, none of that’s happening. Right now, I need to get myself to the next check station, the next thing. And that’s it. Just the next thing. And then I’ll assess then.
Yes. As a recovering perfectionist, one of the biggest changes I’ve made is not being result focused, but process focused.
That really also helps you feel good about yourself at the end of the day, just living the process. That’s awesome. And are you training for an Ironman?
In a roundabout sense. The pools, swimming’s a tough part for me, I’m cycling and running. I have a lot of injuries in my history.
And so I’m being a bit cautious right now and my wife’s alive, but still as issues from Lyme disease and she’s immunocompromised. So with Covid going on, I’m everything I do is indoors. So for me to do like a long run on the treadmill is not interesting at the moment. Yeah. So I’m mixing everything up.
So I’m training, I’m in a good place fitness-wise. When it’s the right time for all that I would like to, I want to pursue the Ironman. That’s one of two big goals in my life still.
So what’s the other one?
The other one is to go on the show Survivor and I’m working on that one, but we’ll see.
Oh, let me know. Let me know.
That’s been our quarantine, binge watching family thing. So now I’m like, I used to be a huge fan and then fell off, but now I’m like, totally hyped it again. We’ll see. Cause that was another, like, I could never do that. I’d never had it. I could never do any of the challenges. And now I’m like, yes, I can.
Yeah. I don’t know if I’ll win, but like I can absolutely give that a shot.
And I love the fact that you are allowing yourself the flexibility right now instead of saying, I must continue. I must do whatever I can right now to do this, this and this for the Ironman. Okay. I got it. Yep. Not losing my fervor about it.
I still want to do it, but I’m being, I’m taking in all the other things that I value and letting that drive me and help me be flexible in this situation.
Yeah. And before I do the Ironman, I would like to do another marathon because my marathon experience would not go anywhere near, according to plan.
I ended up getting really sick right before it, and that impacted everything. And so there’s a piece of me that wants to right that wrong. Yeah. And the cool thing is like another way to not hang on to the past is so it went, it went really poorly. I was about an hour behind where I should have been, growing up in Boston.
You think normal people run sub three hours. So like my first friend close friend to run Boston was like five and a half hours. I’m like, Oh my God, what happened? Did you break your foot? Cause I’ve never heard of people taking them that long. So I had my time, I should have been able to hit it. I didn’t.
The good news is even if I’m slower than I would have normally been, then it’s still going to be a PR because it’s so far off from what I should have been able to. So I’d like to have that. And that can be part of triathlon training.
Yeah. I totally get that. Well, I could talk to you all day long, but I’m wondering if before we wrap it up, I can do a little lightning round, this or that kind of question.
Okay. All right. Just a few.
Biking or swimming?
Tofu or chickpeas since you’re vegan.
Oh, that’s really hard. I’ll go with tofu. Cause I would tend to use that, but chickpeas are a better answer.
Beach or mountains now?
Probably beach. When I was younger, it’d be mountains.
Okay. I’m Superman or Batman.
Oh, I love toys, but probably Superman. Cause who doesn’t want to fly.
Yeah, absolutely summer or winter.
Again, now summer when I was a kid, it’d be winter.
Sunrise or sunset sunrise.
And if you had to go a week without doing one, what would it be? Washing your hair or brushing your teeth?
Well, I’m balding. So brushing my teeth cause I don’t want to be balding and without my teeth.
That’s a much easier question for men. I think.
I think so.
Well, I’ve had so much fun talking with you today. Tell everybody where they can find more about you and your books.
Yeah. So you can get to everything that I o at, bryanfalchuk.com.
B-R-Y-A-N like Bryan Adams and F-A-L-C-H-U-K.com. And I’m @bryanfalchuk on all social media. So you can always find me there and I’d love to hear from people. People are taking in the message and it speaks to you or you disagree. Give me a shout.
Absolutely. And so I like to wrap up each interview with the same question.
What is one imperfect action that you suggest we all take today? That can take us just a little bit closer to our best lives?
An imperfect action. I think this is societally imperfect, but it’s really not. So I hope this isn’t a cheating kind of answer, but, you can say something nice about yourself or allow someone else to, and not feel the need to put it down.
It’s like, Kathryn, when you introduced me, you were saying, you know how much you appreciated my book. And it’s really hard to sit there while someone’s complimenting you and not be like, Oh, you know, it wasn’t a big deal or whatever. Like just be like, Oh, thank you. it’s good for you. And it’s good for the person saying it.
Don’t invalidate their feelings or your own. So just allow for something nice about you, including even if you’re just sitting around, don’t call yourself lazy. And so you amounted to nothing. Say I needed some rest today and I listened to that.
Yes. That is not a cheating answer at all. Right. Because both of those things are perfectionistic driven, wanting to slough off a compliment as well.
If I can do it, it’s not a big deal. Yeah. That’s being a perfectionist. That’s saying the bar is so high. It doesn’t matter what I did it wasn’t good enough. Yeah. And then the other thing is. Being an intentional when it’s time to rest and relax, perfectionists have difficulty with that.
They always have to be doing more. So I love your answer. It brings you a little closer to self love and a little farther away from being a perfectionist. So with that, I will say thank you so much for being on the show today, Bryan.
Thank you for having me on it was great.
And thank you all for listening today.
And, I would just second what Bryan said and go out, show yourself a little self-love and everyone else, a little understanding by just taking in the goodness that they want to give you today. And I will see you right back here next week.