April 17, 2013
[00:00] About Dean Dwyer
[09:03] Making Use of Habits
[19:34] Dean's Workout Protocol
[22:33] Tracking Your Body Conditions
[34:15] Importance of Simplicity
[42:25] End of the Podcast
Ben: Hey folks, it's Ben Greenfield, and this is probably the last time that I will be podcasting to you from Vietnam, and by the time you listen to this, I'll be on a plane back to the mainland after completing the Laguna Lang Co triathlon in Vietnam. As a matter of fact, I just crossed the finish line of the race a few hours ago. I took a nap, and I'm here sipping a cup of Vietnamese coffee which is about the strongest stuff you're ever going to find. You're actually supposed to consume it with sweetened condensed milk because of how powerful it is. It's finely ground, Vietnamese-grown, dark roast coffee that they brew with this small, metal French drip filter, and it will knock your socks off. I declined the sweetened condensed milk, and I'm just sipping it over ice, and my eyeballs are popping out of my head.
So, the triathlon went well, I was the first overall amateur and actually the fifth overall finisher. I was a little bit nervous going into this race with all the minimalist triathlon training I've been doing, meaning that I've pretty much only been doing high-intensity interval training, some isometrics, a little bit of electro stimulation and some cold thermogenesis. So that's about six to eight hours of training per week, and it turned out okay. So, by the way, I will be doing a seminar on April 26. It's called Ask Me Anything About Minimalist Triathlon Training, and that's going to be part of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Inner Circle where we do monthly webinars and form access and all sorts of cool stuff. For ten bucks a month, you can get into that, so that's at bengreenfieldfitness.com/innercircle.
So why am I here today podcasting to you? Well I have a guest, and his name is Dean Dwyer. Now Dean is a pretty cool cat. He's the author of the book, the blog, and the podcast all of the same name called Make Shift Happen. Now Dean is a former teacher, but he now spends time teaching other people how they can make shift happen in their own lives, got to be careful how I say that, to change how they look, work and live. Now today, when I talk to Dean, we're going to talk about what you can do when you find yourself in a rut. Whether it's a performance rut or a weight loss rut, what kind of mental techniques you can use to get progress again, some of the ethnic shifts that Dean has in his book “Make Shift Happen” and what it actually means to make shift happen in your life. Dean's a cool guy, he's got a really great personality, and I really think you're going to like him. In the show notes for this episode, over at bengreenfieldfitness.com, I'll also put a link to Dean Dwyer's Amazon page where you can check out his books and also his website. So, sit back, enjoy this podcast episode, and then later this week, we'll be back with the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast with Brock and I and all sorts of fun. So, let's get into the conversation on making shift happen with Dean Dwyer.
Ben: Hey folks, it's Ben Greenfield, and on the call with me today is Dean Dwyer from deandwyer.com, surprisingly, and Dean has a couple of different podcasts, one called the Make Shift Happen Show, got to be careful how you pronounce that one, as well as the Lifestyle Hacking Show, and I've listened to some of what Dean has to say on his shows and have also taken a look at his book and his website, and he's just chock full of really good advice in terms of pulling a lot of the psychological triggers that tend to hold us back from achieving our goals. And Dean, also in addition to having the podcast, Make Shift Happen, he has a book “Make Shift Happen”, and I'll be sure to link to Dean's Amazon page in the show notes for those of you who want to explore some of his books, but Dean, welcome.
Dean: Thanks a lot, and that was very nice intro. Again, I've got to get other people doing intros for me 'cause you guys talk about me so much better than I do, so thank you for that.
Ben: You can actually hire me, and I can follow you around and do that. It's not free, but I'll do it. Anyways though, you have an interesting background because you started off as a teacher, right?
Dean: Yeah, I taught for about 17 years, Ben. I was a teacher for quite a while.
Ben: And what was it that you were teaching exactly?
Dean: I was teaching predominantly, what we call here in Canada, middle school which are grades six, seven and eight, so that was the age range that I always taught between. Although I did eventually did public education because I realized that really wasn't. I love teaching and I love the kids. I just didn't like the system, so I realized that I need to get myself somewhere else and took a year off and then ended up falling back into teaching in a private system which is a little bit more flexible but still pretty much the same. Actually there, I was teaching English as a second language.
Ben: Wow, and then all of a sudden, up and wrote a book, or what led to you writing “Make Shift Happen”?
Dean: Wow, well there's probably about 45 years of struggle that goes into this idea of a book coming out, but I guess, and I won't go into too much detail on that unless it comes up throughout the course of our conversation, but for the longest time, Ben, I always felt that I was supposed to be somewhere else. I just didn't know where that was supposed to be, and as I taught 17 years, I eventually pride myself onto that profession. There was a guy that I had met who had a web design company, went to work for him for a year-and-a-half and bounced around a couple other places. Until I finally just decided that I really wanted to do something that was more in line with the things that I was interested in, the things that I was struggling with, and that has kind of been the evolution of where the book and the websites and the podcast and everything else eventually got to. Just all these things that I was struggling with, I thought well why not start sharing what I know with people so that at least they don't have to wait 'till or 45 to start getting some of the results that they're hoping to get.
Ben: The subtitle of your book is “Change How You Look By Changing How You Think”. Did you change the way that you look? Was this book for you, your way of sharing some of the things that you went through on a physical level, as far as transforming your own body? What was your journey, from a physical standpoint, as you were going through all this?
Dean: Yeah, I was never obese, Ben. Probably at my heaviest, I was probably about 50 pounds heavier than I should have been, but I always sat between 20 and 30 pounds or 20 to 40 pounds, I guess, depending on the month and the year which was doesn't sound terrible, but I was pretty active. I was a vegetarian for 19 years. I ate predominantly whole, organic foods. I didn't eat a lot of junk food, I'd obviously treat myself from time to time. I didn't drink much, I didn't eat out much. I exercise four or five times a week, but I didn't have a lot of return on investment, nobody ever knew that I did anything. When people would see me after an extended period of time, they'd be like so you're still working out, and I'd be like yeah, I'm still working out. I didn't have any return on investment of the things I was doing.
Ben: That always keeps you motivated.
Dean: You always know they'd ask you with a question mark. So, you're still working out? And what they really want to say is wow, it doesn't look like you're doing anything at, but of course, you can't say that, so you preface it with a question. And so, it finally began to dawn on me that the stuff that I was doing wasn't working, and so the book, you mentioned earlier about the book. The book, I mean I start off just sort of talking about the fact that I did manage to change how I looked, but it was really more an evolution of a mindset in terms of how I began to approach that because I just found, and I still find this. I find that most of the traditional stuff that's out there doesn't work for most people, and the reason that it doesn't work is you still look at obesity rates, and it's still trending upwards. And so, there's clearly something else going on here that I don't think people are really addressing, and I was a perfect example of that. You could check off all the things that I was doing that were right, and yet I didn't have any results to show for them.
Ben: So, what pulled the trigger for you? Bad analogy, but what made the light bulb go off, and what actually caused you to make the changes that allowed you to transform your body the way that you wanted to?
Dean: Well I will say this, and this might be an unconventional tip for your listeners and readers, depending on how they digest this information, but it was actually from an Inc magazine article. I've told a story a couple times, but Jason Fried, 37signals. He writes a monthly column for Inc magazine, and in this particular issue, and I remember it exactly. It was March 2011, and he talked about his business and basically how they create products for 37signals is they basically solve their own problems with the feeling that if we're having this problem, there are other people that are going to have this problem as well, and so we'll look to sell that solution. And I remember reading that at the time, and it was like this massive smack in the face because for the first 45 years of my life, this has more to do with lifestyle design and everything else, but people talk about pursuing your passion, and I never knew about my passion.
I couldn't figure out, there's a lot of things, but it changed from month to month, depending on what I was reading. And so, when I read his thing, I was like wow. It had never occurred to me before to step back and basically solve my own problems, and then maybe look to see if I can sell that solution, and so after I read the article, I'm looking in the mirror and I'm holding my X Percent body fat I've got around my midsection. It wasn't pretty, and that was sort of my emphasis. I was like you know what? I've got to figure, I've got to stop with this idea that somebody else out there has the solution that's going to fix me. I've got to become the expert on me and figure out my own solution, so that was what lead to all that. Was the second question you asked, Ben?
Ben: Basically, how did you change your thinking in terms of the way that you approached exercise and body transformation and all of this? It's kind of in the subtitle of your book, and there was obviously something that happened in terms of making you change your thinking. I'm curious what that was, and it sounds like it started with this article, but then what was the actual thought pattern that emerged from that for you, in terms of the way you thought about exercise and fat loss and things of that nature?
Dean: Yeah, good question, and I actually have a synced answer, but it was as I'm standing there, looking at the mirror, I need to be the expert on me. Now I journal a lot, and it's not something that that has come naturally to me. I didn't read or write for the first 25 years of my life. I just couldn't find the time for it, but as I began to have questions about my own personal journey and everything else, I started taking notes and writing down thoughts and ideas. And so, on that particular day, it's like I have to be the expert on me, and I sat down, and I just started writing down ideas about what that would look like.
And so, for example, one of the things that I decided was that I would accept nothing as fact, and so that it didn't matter whether it was a study, it doesn't matter of somebody is a doctor or anything, it doesn't matter. What I need to do is I need to take a look at that information, I need to do my own research. I then need to start testing those ideas on myself to decide whether or not that has any credibility and whether or not I can actually get results with it, and so it was a series of those sorts of things, but it literally started with me deciding that I was going to be the expert on me and then just really examining everything, Ben, that I had done in the past that followed pretty much the status quo approach. I did what everybody else did, and I realized Einstein has that quote. I'm going to butcher the poor guy's quote, but it's something to the effect of if you can't solve a problem, the same level of thinking that created a problem, and I thought that's exactly what I've been doing every time I try to change how I look. I do the same things that I've done before. I can't do that anymore, they don't work, or they don't work for a sustainable period of time. I could get short term results, but I can't sustain them, and so it began with that simple premise. I've become the expert on me, and I started questioning everything. Everything I did, everything I came across, even my standard approach to weight loss and everything else came under the microscope.
Ben: What kind of approach did you use at that point? Did you change up the type workouts you were doing? What's it look like for you now, in terms of how you've evolved, as far as how you exercise and how you approach the whole physical activity or the fat loss component?
Dean: Yeah, and I'll come back to the exercise component in a moment. So, the first thing when I made that initial breakthrough in terms of the fact that I was really going to have to make some serious changes to how I thought. I was a vegetarian at that point, and I had been a vegetarian for 19 years.
Dean: Yeah, I had been a vegetarian for a long time. I really should have realized after the first year that it wasn't working, but it only took me 18 more years, Ben, before I put all the pieces together.
Ben: But we have vegetarians who listen in to this show, nothing against vegetarianism or anything of that nature, but as people have heard me talk about before, it's hard to do the right way.
Dean: Yeah, thank you for bringing that up, and that something I really try to stress to people that I talk to is that there is no one right way to get results, and when I talk about the vegetarianism, I simply talk about it from my own standpoint. It didn't work for my body type. I would never say to somebody out. What I ended up doing is probably gravitating towards something that's more along the Paleo winds, but I don't even like using that label. I really eat a whole food approach where I took out essentially all processed foods, but grains don't work well for my body type, and that's not to say that other people can't have success with that. And so that's a great point to bring up. That's something that each person has to make on an individual basis. I never bash a diet. You mentioned my Lifestyle Hacking show, I had a Rich Roll on who is a vegan endurance athlete, and I was fascinated with the story and I was fascinated to know how he got results and looking to see what principles I could steal from him that I could apply in my own journey. But yeah, that's a very personal decision that he's presented to me, but it didn't work for me. Unfortunately, it didn't work for me, and I continued with it when I made this shift.
I continued with it for another couple of months, but at that point, I started just recording my foods that I was eating, and that led me to Tim Ferriss, and Tim Ferriss talks about a slow carb diet. I was like I can still do this to be a vegetarian, and so I did that and that was the first time, Ben, that people talk about foods that affect them. I was never able to talk that way, I had no idea. People say well if I have these foods, this happens, that happens. I had no idea. I'd eat stuff, and either I felt good or it felt bad, but I couldn't identify a food that really upset me or that didn't agree with me. But when I went on Tim Ferriss’ slow carb diet, it was the first time I realized that beans legumes actually make me fat, and again, they make me fat. I'm not saying that people shouldn't have them. I just realized that those do not agree with me 'cause that was the only thing I had changed in my diet, and I actually started putting weight back on.
So that was the diet component of it, but I also realized as well, that again, as an example, and again this is not to say the program doesn't work 'cause I love Tony Horton, but I did P90X for 90 days. Didn't miss a day, and my after picture looked like most people before. Nothing happened. Again nobody knew, not a single person over those 90 days had said to me, “hey, what are you doing,” and again the program was fantastic. I love it, I love extreme exercise. It works for mentality, but again, it was things like that where I started to become a lot more reflective because I know during times like this, and one of the biggest challenges people have is we turn our failures into character traits. We start to beat ourselves up and assume that we're unmotivated, we're undisciplined and those sorts of things, and I've done that, too, and part of this journey and part of the switch that I had to flip with all this was to begin to simply look at those things as feedback and then start looking to see if I could come up with alternative solutions that would in fact get me results. So when you asked about exercise, I've always had the mentality that more is better, and I fight that every single day, this idea that more is better.
Ben: We've got a lot of Ironman triathletes that listen in and a lot of endurance athletes, and I know that tends to be one of the prevailing thoughts in that community is more is better.
Dean: Absolutely, and more so in your sport, where again, you are already traveling long distances, regardless of the sport that you're participating in, but yeah. Somehow that creeps into our mentality that the more is better dogma has always been out there, and I always buy into that but I realize that the more is better doesn't work for me either. If I'm smart about it and I do less, I can actually get better results, but we were just talking off-air about how do you stay motivated and stuff like that? I find that if I'm not careful, that stuff starts to creep back in, and I've noticed it in the last month or so, that this idea of doing more begins to creep back. I guess what I find with that, part of this whole mindset thing, is that when I default to more, I find that I turn off my brain. I'm not really thinking about things. When I start thinking about how I can do less still get results, I have to be a lot more strategic. I need to think about my sleep patterns, I need to think about the foods that I'm eating and start picking specific exercises that I can do that are going to help me get the results that I want. So when I move away from the more is better, I'm a little more holistic in my approach to how I go about trying to solve my problems.
Ben: So just as a quick practical takeaway for folks, what would a typical week of working out or exercise look like for you at this point?
Dean: Yeah, it continues to change actually. As you said, Tim Ferriss has I don't know specifically what he calls it, but it's something to effect minimum effort for maximum results, and I'm intrigued by that again just because I know what my default mindset is to just do more. So one of the things that I figured out, Ben, and I try to incorporate into a week of my workouts is that what I really need is about 12 minutes of extreme exercise time and not including rest. Twelve minutes of actual exercise time, and so I basically divide up. I try to do four or five workouts a week, hitting a variety of muscle groups with a variety of exercises where I meet that minimum standard of somewhere typically between 10 and 12 minutes, so that a workout really doesn't typically go longer than 25 to 30, depending on what I'm doing.
Ben: Got you. So you talk in your book about these shifts that people can make, and it sounds like this whole way that you approach exercise and the way that your personal nutrition was a big shift for you. Does that fall into the category of how you would define shift?
Dean: Yeah, and I do want to make this clear, too. I'll speak from my own experience. It's not like I got to a point where I felt I arrived, and now everything just falls into place. That isn't the case at all. I find that one of the misconceptions with this is that once you get to a certain level that everything gets easier, and it does in a sense because you have more strategies, and you're able to recover faster from failure and those sorts of things, but it's always a challenge. There's always stuff that comes up that I'm constantly working on, but yeah. What you said about the whole shifting, it was a complete mindset overhaul in terms of how I began, specifically looking at myself and just assessing what was going on and how I would respond to some of these, rather than turn them into character flaws, is simply look at them as feedback and be able to step back and say okay, that's not working. What can I do differently to see if I can get a different result?
Ben: So you got more shifts in your book? I know you've written an entire book that's about making these shifts in your life, but what are some of the important shifts? If people are listening in right now and they feel like to exercise too much, they don't feel like they exercise enough, they want to change their body, they want to change the way that they're approaching some of the goals that they've set out for right now. We're recording this kind of early in the in the new year, January of 2013. What are some of the epic shifts in your book that you think will really help people wrap their minds around making positive changes in their life?
Dean: Yeah, and I was going to make a really cheap joke and say I'm full of shift, but that's just too easy and is too lame, but I took advantage. I took it in.
Ben: Low, hanging fruit.
Dean: Well you know what? I will tell you one that's not in my book that if I had to go back and I had to update it. I would add this, and I see people. Everything that I talk about are discoveries that I made months myself, and I just extrapolate them, and realize that again if I'm struggling with it, most people are as well. One of the greatest tools we have at our disposal that we don't use is consistency, is that we start a variety of things that we never continue with. First of all, most people start and they adopt too many things to begin with, and so they get overwhelmed, and eventually, they just quit. I think one of the things that I never hear people talk about that I think is so important, and you look at someone such as yourself. I mean if people were to really look into your story and dig into not only how you got yourself to where you are but how you maintain that. They could find three to five things that you do religiously, whether it's daily or weekly, whenever it happens to be, but then you have a core set of behaviors that you always stick to whatever that happens to be, and I think that's vastly overlooked because we're always looking for the next thing. Give me a tip, tell me a strategy or whatever else.
Most people have the wherewithal to make changes now. They don't need another book, they don't need to take another course. They've got the tools to begin to make changes, we just never stick with anything long enough to actually have any kind of success at all. So that would be the first thing, I would say that's the first thing I think. It's probably the greatest piece of advice that's never talked about, it's just finding the three to five things that you need to do consistently in order to maintain your success, and I'll give you an example of that.
Ben: That's what I was going to ask you without derailing your train of thought 'cause I want to hear a couple more shifts, but what's an example of something like that in your life?
Dean: And just so you know, it's very easy to derail my train of thought, so you'll have to get me back on track. Once the train goes off, my friend, you got to get me back on. Again, there's a book called “Influencer”, and they were talking about change. It's an amazing book about change, and by the way, I have an uncompleted thought that I mentioned earlier. I don't read weight loss books, actually all my reading is business books. I'm always looking at how people run a successful business because I believe that a successful body parallels a successful business, a lot of the same principles apply, and so I'm always reading business books, in terms of leadership and those sorts of things.
Ben: Kind of realized that weight loss books, it's so I know what kind of pencil-necked crap people are getting exposed to.
Dean: Yeah, you do need that, too. That's just always been an interest of mine, so I always look to see how I can take those original ideas and apply them in body transformation. So in this book “Influencer”, they use weight loss as an example, but what they found, and I know I'm going to forget what the three were, but they tracked a whole bunch of people over a six-year period, and it was people who had lost, I believe, 40 or more pounds and had managed to sustain it, and what they had noticed was there were three common traits that all these people who sustain the weight loss did. One of them was to weigh themselves every morning, the second thing was they ate breakfast every morning and the third thing was they worked out from home. I was fascinated actually. I don't weigh myself, and I still don't weigh myself, and there are varying opinions on that. As an example, I had a friend of mine who just e-mailed me the other day, as a matter of fact. He was struggling with his weight, he went to my website to just get a look at some of things that I had done and I had talked about, and so that's what he started doing. He started weighing himself every morning, he's got this high-end scale now that sends a jolt of lightning through him, and he gets a lean body mass and everything else. It's amazing.
Ben: I forget the brand, but yeah. I know what you're talking about.
Dean: Yeah, so he does that, and so he gets a digital readout every day of where his weight sat. In over two months, he just simply started putting his food, so he's watching what he's eating. He hasn't been able to exercise at this point because he's got a slipped disc, but he's lost 17 pounds, and again, nothing extreme. But when you look at that, and we talked on the phone yesterday, as a matter of fact, 'cause as I was really intrigued with what he had done. The fact that he is actually using a simple technology, weighing himself every morning. He can see the actual results. It plots it out on a graph, so he can actually see his progress, is brilliant, and again, it's something. It's an underutilized tool that people don't use, but we have to find other ways to track our progress because it's very, very easy to get discouraged on this journey, and if you don't have tools in place to somehow quantify what you're doing and whether or not successful or not, it's really tough to stay motivated, and inspiration expires. At some point, it will expire, so you've got to build in these buffers so that when times get tough 'cause we're not always on. We also talked about this off-air as well, but we're not always on. There are going to be days where we don't want to do what we're supposed to do, we're just not feeling motivated, but that's a great strength for him. He said what looking at that chart does is results outweighs cravings he has for beer, for example, because he can see the results. When I abstain from foods that I shouldn't eat, I get results, and so he's found it relatively easy at this point, and I think again the tracking was a brilliant mechanism that he used.
Ben: So that’s a shift as well. Is that tracking or does that fall into the category of it being just a habit?
Dean: See, I'm not splitting hairs, but I think that's a practice that people don't do enough of as well. And I know people don't like it. If you tell people they have to love their foods, I mean they roll their eyes, and then some of them have depending on other experiences, they've got these horrible memories of things but you have to have some way to track what you're doing. I mean I don't you know, Ben, how you train, but I'm sure you must track what you do somehow. I mean you're not just waking up in the morning saying you know, I think I'll do this today. Of course, I'm saying that now, and Ben, you might be sitting there going yeah, I have no idea what I'm doing.
Ben: Actually, so far, the first two tips that you've given in terms of shifts, I can think right off the bat of things that I do. So, when you talk about having a habit, a pattern each day. My pattern every single morning, before I go to the computer, before my phone goes out of airplane mode, before everything starts rolling at me is I do about 15 minutes of a series of yoga and breathing exercises, and even before that, before even to roll out of bed, I do five minutes of body testing and tracking with heart rate variability, pulse oximetry, breath rate and heart rate. So for me, I'm kind of combining those first two shifts that you mention in terms of both habits and tracking because that first method of sitting in bed every single morning for those five minutes and tracking, they not only give me quantitative data but is really letting me ground myself into that basic, getting in touch with your body type of feeling every morning, and it forces me to not think about my day but just to literally focus and meditate, and then that second habit of doing all the stretching and everything, that's not only another habit that kind of sets me up for healthy day and grounds me, but it also lets me know what's going on my body. It will tell me if the shoulders tweaked or if my hamstring's feeling funny or anything like that 'cause I'm stretching each different component of my body each morning. So yeah, I certainly do that kind of stuff, and I also write down my workouts. I have a little secret blog that I run with all my workouts that I let my inner circle in on, and they can go on and read what I'm doing if they're super-duper bored or need some bedtime reading. But yeah, I certainly do both of those shifts, so I get what you're saying.
Dean: Yeah, and I'm fascinated with that stuff. I'm always intrigued about these secrets that I think a lot of us do these things that we don't even realize we're doing that are extremely valuable to our success, and so I'm really glad. I've completely taken over your interview, Ben. I'm now interviewing you, but I'm really glad that you shared that because again, it really gets people to start thinking. Again, your success in terms of where you've gotten with your career and your body and training everything else hasn't happened by accident. You are consciously doing a set of practices, principles, habits, whatever people want to call them that you do on a consistent basis, and the first question that came to my head is you were talking about that. How long have you been doing those first two things?
Ben: The first one, for about a year in terms of consistently tracking heart rate variability and pulse oximetry and all that jazz, and the second one for four or five years, every single morning without fail.
Dean: Really, see that's amazing to me, and this is a bonus too, Ben, 'cause I'm just thinking out loud here as you're talking about that, but here's another strategy that I would recommend people, and again, we don't do enough of it, is reaching out to people such as yourself or other people that we know that have gotten results and running whatever you want. Interview is not the right word but have conversations with them and find out what they're doing. Find out, you mentioned you have a log. I mean the next question that would come into my head, we don't do this now, but I would love to know what your log looks like and what you put in it, and it's great that you share that, by the way, with your inner circle because I know you were sort of jokingly saying it's bedtime reading and stuff like that, but that's valuable insight for people 'cause they get a sense of (a) what you put in it, (b) I'm sure there's probably stuff that goes in there in terms of how the workout went and what you might improve on next time and those sorts of things, but all that information helps people put their own journey in perspective because a lot of times when people, especially I find one of the things that people who are successful, I think one of the mistakes they make is they only talk about their successes, and they talk about all the things people should be doing, but they don't really get into any detail about the struggles that they have or how they go about dealing with their struggles, and that can be misleading for people so that when they are struggling, they think you know what, there's something wrong with me. Everybody else seems to be getting this, I'm not getting it. So there's tremendous value in this, and actually I'm really glad that you're sharing that.
Ben: Interesting, so we've got two shifts, and by the way, my log is I find that if I get to detailed, I don't do it. So, I literally just write down what I did, and there are tools out there that will track your heart rate and our power and stuff while you're out exercising. My problem is that I like to just unplug at the end of the day and forget all that and just go exercise, so I don't actually upload power and heart rate data and stuff like that. It's pretty much just like I did but it ten pushups, ten goblet squats and 25 little digs, five times in a row, and then I rode my bike, that kind of stuff. Anyways though, I want to get one more shift from you 'cause your first two were really good. We need to get a habit, and we need to figure out a way to track what's going on in our lives, but what's another one that you can throw at us?
Dean: Well here, this is my own little catch phrase, and I've alluded to this a little bit earlier, but something I call think in beta, and it's I forget exactly where I got the term from, but this idea was completely new to me because my whole approach for the first 45 years anyway with exercise was I would literally wait for the next solution to come out. I'd run out, I'd buy a book, I would do what they say. I'd have some success, and then the wheels would fall off and I go out, and I do another program, another book, another blog post, whatever happens to be, but thinking beta is really this idea that let's say, Ben, you come up with a blog post about something. Then what I do is I go in and I read your post, and if an idea resonates with me, then I take that idea out, and I look to test it on myself. Because again, you and I have very different body types, so what works for you isn't going to work for me necessarily. So, what I need to do is take the principle in the concept that you're talking about, pull that out and then see whether or not that even applies to me, whether or not that works. I was going to say that was one of the bigger ones. I think they all sort of add up together, but again in terms of massive shifts for me, that one was massive 'cause I literally, for the first 45 years, was always waiting for somebody else to tell me what to do.
And so, the way I look, and I say think in beta is that I look for these ideas. I look to try them out of myself, and then I start creating my own theories and my own ideas which is exactly what you do. You do this on both your blog and your two podcasts that you have going. You go in and you read studies and you look for ideas, and then you tweak them so that they're Ben Greenfield. Look at it turn it into a verb. You share an idea now that's sort of the Ben Greenfield original, but it's based on your own experience from something else that you pulled from somewhere else, and I think that's really, really important. We need to take ownership for our programs. It's not simply about saying well so and so said I have to do this. This what I have to do. No, I mean you take the idea, and you begin to sort of test and see whether that works or not and not be afraid to dismiss it out right if it doesn't work. If it doesn't work for you, and again, it doesn't mean that the idea doesn't work. It just doesn't work for you or that doesn't work very well.
Let's go back, you were talking about when you record your activity. You keep it very, very simple while there are other people that need the detail for whatever reasons, but again, we don't say well, Ben says I have to keep it simple. No, you explain your reasoning that, for you, it's really just a matter of making sure you do it, and if you make it too complicated, which most of us do, it's not sustainable long term. And so even that, there's a brilliance in that about the ability to keep things as simple as possible, so that you can sustain them long term and understanding when you won't sustain them and how to go about putting in solutions to counteract those.
Ben: Yeah, I think that's super important as one of the things that, for me, I hate to do my own exercise programs. I don't like to use my own books or anything that I have really written when it comes to workouts. I like to use other people's workouts 'cause I just find that my own stuff doesn't motivate me. So, a lot of times, I'm looking in books, and it does seem like stuff is complicated, like workouts are complicated, and I find that I am more likely to go and do a workout or get through an exercise session if I can write it down on a Post-it, those little, tiny Post-its. I can stick it on a Post-it, put it in my pocket, take it to the gym, and that's my workout, and it's no more complex than what can fit on that Post-it. That gives me the best workouts, and anything I got to print out on an eight-and-a-half piece of paper. Take my Kindle to the gym or my phone, so I can view exercise videos, that I kind of stuff, I won't do it.
Dean: And you know what, Ben, there's a brilliance in what you just said there, too, and again, if I had had to write a second book, I'd put this in there, too, but this and the power of simplicity, and obviously something that you do very well and it also lends itself well to your popularity online is there is an ability that people who have the ability to take complex exercises, concepts, whatever it happens to be and break them down so that they're simple and usable, and there's a real art in that, and so clearly you've mastered it for yourself and it obviously comes through in your in the podcast and stuff that you do something you do, but there is something to be said for simplicity. I think people sometimes scoff at simplicity because I think we've been led to believe that this is supposed to be something that's really complex. I believe it's the reverse. I think that the more simplistic we can make this, the more sustainable the habits and things that we adopt are going to be.
Ben: Absolutely, man, I'm thinking that a lot of folks need to go read your book because just a few things that we went over so far are really simple in a way like, that third tip that you gave. Simple, but this is stuff that once you get it down on a practical level, it makes a big difference, and I'd encourage folks who are listening in. We're kind of running up on time for this interview.
Dean: What? I don't want to go, I'm not done.
Ben: Dean's got more, he's got his Make Shift Happen, and I'm kicking off the show. He's got his Make Shift Happen Show, and he's got his Lifestyle Hacking Show, too, where he interviews people about ways that they've changed their life to make things happen for the better for them, and I would encourage you to take a listen. He's a fun guy to listen to, obviously, and you get around to some of these conferences. Aren't you going to Paleo f(x) or something like that? One of those?
Dean: I am going, are you going?
Ben: Yes, I'll be there.
Ben: For sure, Paleo f(x) in March in Austin, and as most listeners know, I'm not Paleo, but I'll be there anyways.
Dean: We're a very accepting group.
Ben: So anyways, check out the links that I've got in the show notes to some of Dean's stuff, and leave your comments or your questions underneath the episode and if I can wrangle Dean back, maybe he'll even answer a few of them if you leave them there, and Dean, I want to thank you for giving your time so generously today and coming on the call.
Dean: No, you're welcome, and I want to thank you for sending bags of money to my place so that I would do this interview. I mean people don't know this. No, thanks, Ben, it was great. You've got some wonderful stuff going on, so it's been a true pleasure, my friend, being on the show.
Ben: Alright, cool folks. That's Dean Dwyer from deandwyer.com and a bunch of other podcasts on iTunes like Make Shift Happen and Life Hacker, well not Life Hacker. What's it called, the Life Hacking Show.
Dean: Lifestyle Hacking.
Ben: Lifestyle Hacking Show, there you go. Alright folks, thanks for listening.
On my way back from Vietnam and a recent finish in the Laguna Lang Co Triathlon (a must-visit race for any triathlon travelers out there), I'm bringing you this special podcast episode with Dean Dwyer.
Who is Dean Dwyer?
Dean is the author of the book, blog and the podcast all of the same name: “Make Shift Happen”. A former educator, he now spends his time teaching others how they can make shift happen in their own lives to change how they look, work and live.
During this episode, I ask Dean:
-What's your background and how did you come to do what you do now?
-What does it mean to Make Shift Happen?
-When someone finds themselves in a performance or weight loss “rut”, what kind of mental techniques can they use to get progress again?
-Can you share a few of the epic shifts in your book with us?