What if you could save thousands of dollars every year on your food budget by eating higher quality food?
Our guest today not only lost over 100 pounds in a year, but also saved over $2,000 on his food budget in the process.
Today we’re here with the wonderful Tyler Christensen, an author, designer, host of “After The Run” podcast, and a teacher who spent 15 years in classrooms as an elementary, middle school, and university instructor.
In May of 2018, Tyler weighed over 300 pounds and his wife was concerned for his health. Tyler decided to make a change and within just 12 months, he dropped over 100 pounds, wrote and published two books, built a basement, landscaped his backyard, and read over 100 books.
And on today’s show we’re chatting about:
- How to drop 100 pounds in 1 year by shedding 2 pounds a week
- Boosting energy and brain power by getting outside and exercising
- Saving $2000 in 1 year by eating healthier
- How to get a Brain Boost in just 5 minutes
Tyler Christensen: How to Shed 100 Pounds and Boost Brain Power
Abel: Welcome back, folks.
Today we’re here with the wonderful Tyler Christensen, an author, designer, creator, and host of After The Run podcast, and a teacher who spent 15 years in classrooms as an elementary, middle school, and university instructor.
In May of 2018, Tyler weighed over 300 pounds and his wife was concerned for his health.
Tyler decided to make a change, and within just 12 months, he dropped over 100 pounds, wrote and published two books, built a basement, landscaped his backyard, and read over 100 books.
Tyler, you are a mad man. Thank you so much for joining us on the show today.
Yeah, my pleasure.
I love your show, and so it’s great to be here.
Abel: Landscaped your backyard. I couldn’t even make my way through it because it’s inspiring.
It chokes me up a little bit when I was just going through your whole back story and everything you’ve accomplished.
One of my favorite things that you talk about is how exercise, getting outside and boosting your brain, is something that gives you more energy so you can accomplish more in life.
Yeah, and that’s really been the best part of it.
I have four kids of my own, and being able to be a better father, a better husband, to have the energy to not just exist anymore, but to really do the things that I’ve wanted to do for years and years, it’s been a great transition for me.
Abel: And there are a lot of people who are unfortunately putting on weight, looking for escapism from food and overeating or what have you.
And you can’t blame anyone for that, we’re all in this uphill battle right now.
But the speed at which you lost that weight, the fact that you became not only a runner, but also did a double marathon.
The amount of success that you had in such a short amount of time is incredible and inspiring.
Is it damaging to do it all that quickly?
Were there downsides? Like, how did it all go for you?
Well, yes and no. So I think, obviously, there’s healthy ways to lose weight and there’s unhealthy ways to lose weight.
And so it’s tricky to answer that because I feel like I did it in a really healthy way, and the evidence for that is in the year since I lost the weight, I’ve actually put on 30 pounds of muscle.
And so instead of rebounding, my body fat has continued to drop another 5% in the last year, and my water weight is way higher than it was before.
So, it’s not that I’m dehydrated or anything like that.
100 pounds a year seems like a ton, but it’s 2 pounds a week.
It’s really not that much if you’re cutting out the things and getting rid of fat.
And so I feel like I did it in a pretty healthy way.
Certainly could have done things differently, but I was figuring it out.
Abel: Yeah, I love hearing that because there’s this idea that masochism has to be involved and a whole lot of suffering, a whole lot of just kind of deeply tragic work that you have to go through on yourself, if you’re going to lose a 100 pounds, or even get into peak physical condition.
But, in fact, it’s not like that for me.
There’s the thing that you brought up when I was reading through some of your work about running. You say: Our sport is your sport’s punishment.
Which I get a kick out of. But for me, it’s really not like that.
For me, running is a wonderful escape most of the time.
Yes, it can be physically challenging, but in fact, I think if you’re doing it kind of the chilled out way, I don’t want to say the right way, but if you’re doing it in kind of a psychologically healthy way, it’s actually much more akin to going for a walk through the woods or something like that, in terms of the mental escape you get and that space you get.
Right. Yeah, it can be that.
You know, the thing that I found that I’ve loved about running is, for me, I’ve always been a slow runner.
So running’s not new to me, but running at a healthy weight is.
I’ve been obese my whole adult life and ran several marathons in that state.
And I run because that’s where I listen to podcasts. It’s when I listen to books on tape. It’s a relaxing thing.
I live out in the country, so it’s beautiful and I can be out there.
But I’ve also found that I love training and I love doing HIIT workouts and interval training and stuff like that, and that is painful.
You don’t enjoy that in the moment, it’s hard. It’s like being back in high school sports again and stuff like that.
But that’s what gives you that healthy burn afterwards, where it feels so good for a longer period of time, instead of just that mental relaxation that you get from a jog.
I love doing the actual running, too.
Abel: So as a lifestyle, your brain has connected the dots that says running and HIIT workouts and all that, that can be fun.
It’s hard in the moment, but that’s what makes it fun.
If a game were really easy to play, it wouldn’t be fun.
Yeah. And for me, that was part of my journey prior to a year ago, even so, after I lost most of the weight, I still hadn’t gone to a gym.
I hate gyms. I hate the idea of being around other people working out, but I did start buying and building up my own home gym.
And the same thing like with HIIT workouts, I’ve discovered that I still, to this day, I hate lifting weights.
But I lift weights at least three or four days a week, because of how I feel afterwards and what it has done for my body.
And so I love being a weightlifter, but I hate doing it.
Abel: What were you coming from? Like when you were at your heaviest or least healthy, what got you there?
I think the same way almost all adults get there. It was a few pounds here, a few pounds there, over the course of 20 or 30 years.
And so coming out of high school and college, I was athletic growing up and I was a runner.
I did a lot of things, and as I got married and started having kids and went to college, and then more college, and then more college.
And then all the things that come with being an adult, you gain two pounds here, five pounds there, and I never really saw huge swings in my weight, up or down.
But just a few pounds every year over the course of 20 years meant I was 100 pounds heavier.
Abel: Wow, and then what were the major like shifts that you made from a dietary perspective or in terms of training that really got you on that path to maintaining.
Because two pounds a week, yeah, no big deal, but two pounds every week. That’s a lot harder than it sounds.
Right. So, the things that led to the weight gain was just the small unhealthy habits, regularly eating ice cream.
We don’t eat out a lot, so it’s not a ton of processed foods and things like that.
But for me, the biggest thing was constant snacking, even snacking on carrot sticks and rice cakes and things like that. I was under the illusion that power bars were good for you.
So I’d have these protein bars that I’d snack on while I commuted to work.
And so I think that was the biggest thing that contributed to the weight gain over a long period of time.
Honestly, it was trying to follow health advice from the gurus out there that give horrible advice, and so I was doing a lot of things that I thought were smart, and they didn’t work.
Abel: Like what?
Like the protein bars. Like eating five or six small meals a day.
And then I’ve never really bought into any of the fad diets, but I’ve tried to take the advice, so when different things have come out, I’ve tried it and I’ve tried to incorporate it into my life, and a lot of those things didn’t work.
I’m struggling to think of specific examples. I just know that I was trying to be healthy all along the way.
I was trying to get exercise from time to time and it just wasn’t working for me.
Abel: Yeah, that’s where I was, too.
Following the advice from the runner’s magazines back in the 90s and the 2000s caused a lot of problems for me and a lot of other people that I think we’re still working to undo.
Yeah, it’s interesting. I think the times where I gained the most weight was when I was training for marathons, because I would be so hungry from all the extra cardio.
And so I would binge eat way more during those periods of time.
Not my most recent marathons that I’ve done since I’ve lost the weight, but like five or six years ago, I was training for a marathon.
I started training at 250, 255, and then I think when I ran the marathon, I was closer to 280.
And so just in two or three months, I put on 20, 30 pounds, and it’s because I was hungry all the time from doing extra cardio.
Abel: And it’s a lot harder for me, too, to gauge how much food is enough once you run 20 or 50 miles.
You come back and you’re like, “Alright, I’m eating now. I’m so hungry.”
But when do you stop?
Because your hunger doesn’t really function normally, because that’s not a normal thing to do.
There are some people, especially the ultra-marathoners, who really do it as a lifestyle, but that’s also all they do.
But for regular people like us, you can’t really be like just firing all cylinders all the time, 110% without some sort of fall out from that.
Yeah, you’re absolutely right.
And it’s funny, because you read of some of those ultra-marathons, like Dean Karnazes—he’ll do a double pizza and eat it while he’s on his run or whatever, that famous story from his first one.
And he does that, but he’s a professional athlete that is training all the time. Normal people can’t eat like that.
Abel: Yeah, and that’s another thing that gets lost in the shuffle. But also, growing up in the 80s and 90s, for me, a lot of that was built in.
You look at Gatorade and it’s like, “Science says this is better and you’re going to be Michael Jordan if you drink Gatorade.”
And then in your mind, like after you play basketball. For us, me and my friend, we’d play basketball, and then we’d go to the corner store, get a bunch of Gatorade and soda.
Your brain learns at a young age, the link between exercise and then getting this giant rush of sugar.
That’s another thing that’s tough to undo.
Yeah, and I think maybe it’s a generational thing, too. But I did the same thing with my friends growing up.
We’d play football, we’d play basketball, we’d head to 7-11 or whatever gas station.
We’d get a big gulp or a double Big Gulp and buy our baseball cards. And that was just the daily thing, is you’d drink 60 ounces of soda or whatever because you’re cooling down from playing sports.
And when you’re young and your metabolism’s fast, you’re not feeling the effects.
You’re not being healthy, but you’re not feeling it the same way you’re going to feel it as an adult.
So if you’re used to doing that, for a lot of people, it’s hard to give up soda, because you’ve had it all your life and it didn’t have an impact on you as a kid.
How to Stop Feeling Hungry All the Time
Abel: Yeah, and it’s really difficult to get rid of things. It’s far easier to replace things.
So what were the sneaky things you were doing wrong that maybe you found better ways of channeling or handling?
Yeah, for me, a lot of it was, I was hungry all the time.
I know a lot of guests that you’ve had on your show have talked about food addiction and just always feeling hungry.
And for me, in 20 years, I’ve always been hungry.
And so when I finally got things lined up for me, it was getting garbage out of my body.
And for a few weeks, it was really, really hard because I was going without a lot of things, drinking way more water, having more greens and stuff like that.
But then after a few weeks of torture, then the switch really flipped for me, and so then it was easy to eat salad because literally salad tasted better.
My taste buds changed as my body adjusted to this new lifestyle.
Before, I was drinking soda, and even zero calorie, that flavored water stuff, but that would make me hungry.
And I know you’ve talked on your show about fruit and fruit for me was a huge thing.
I couldn’t just eat one apple. If I’m eating an apple, I’m eating a bag of apples.
Yeah, that was just how it was when I was 300 pounds is I loved fruit.
And I knew it was healthy, I knew it had good stuff, because that’s what everyone said.
But the truth is, there is a lot of good stuff in fruit, but all the sugar in there made me hungry all the time.
And so if I was eating fruit, it just made me hungrier and hungrier.
So I’d go binge on other things, and that’s how I felt about zero calorie water, the flavored water and stuff like that.
And so for me, it was getting rid of some of those things that I just had no idea before that they were unhealthy, like the flavored water.
Just normal things, and going to two meals a day.
First three meals a day, but then starting to do the intermittent fasting and going to two meals a day.
Getting rid of snacks, that was huge for me, because my body started to learn to respond to being full.
Psychologically, I could say, “Well, I’m only eating two times a day,” and so it wasn’t a decision I had to continually make about, do I eat it or do I not eat it?
It was “no” until it’s meal time, and so a lot of those small things added up in a big way really quickly, because, again, that switch was flipped.
And I just said, “Okay, well, I’m going to have healthy things for lunch and for dinner.”
I’d have a salad or something and now it finally tastes good, where before it was garbage, I hated that kind of stuff.
But home-cooked meals tasted even better and we started doing more from our own garden, stuff like that, and so it was those little things that added up.
Abel: Were there any tricks for you?
I know a lot of people coming from being soda drinkers have a hard time drinking water and they don’t like it, and I’ve worked with a lot of people who kind of had that.
Were there any tricks for you to encourage the habit of making sure that you’re hydrated with water and not soda?
Yeah, for me, it wasn’t so much soda, it was juice.
I love fruit juice. And so it was getting rid of that.
For me, the biggest thing, and I’m embarrassed to admit this, I’ve never told anyone, but I commute for an hour to work, and on my drive home, I would be drowsy all the time.
And so, what I started doing was filling up a 60 Hydro Flask with ice chips and water, and I would just kind of crunch on that ice as I drove home, and it kept me awake.
The cool thing was it’s keeping me awake, I’m drinking 60 ounces of water on my way home, and then, I’d go straight into a workout when I got home.
And so I was really well hydrated and then I was working out before dinner, and I just felt really good having that kind of system. And then I was also drinking water on my way into work.
So part of it was just realizing that this is going to keep me awake on the road and doing that instead of caffeine or anything else to stay awake, and so I kind of used that.
And then I started just setting goals for myself—I want to drink 200 ounces a day or whatever, and so I would try to get through so many water bottles each day.
And I’m a checklist kind of guy, and so I would, once I drink that third water bottle, I could check it off my spreadsheet or whatever.
And for a while, that’s what it was, was simply checking those boxes and to make sure I’m being healthy.
And then it became, of course, a habit, and part of my normal routine.
Abel: Man, that is such a good point about your, I guess just level of arousal, your level of energy.
A lot of people think it’s a caffeine deficiency. When in fact, a lot of people are dehydrated almost all the time, and if you’re topped up on water, you do have a heightened alertness that goes away so quickly if you’re even a little bit dehydrated.
And for anyone who’s running, and for us, we live at 8,000 feet, if you live in a desert, especially one that’s very high, you’ve got to stay on that water.
And if you don’t, then you can have serious problems up here.
You can see that manifest.
Do you have any high altitude stories or anything like that, or being out on a run and things got hairy that you’d like to share?
So I grew up in Northern Utah at elevation, and then moved all over the country.
So we were in New England for a while and then raised my kids in the Midwest.
And when I came back to southern Utah, we’re only at about 6,000 feet here, but I was kind of used to it, so it wasn’t that big a deal.
I think more so it’s when my buddies come in and are traveling from other places and they get here and they can’t breathe and they can’t do things.
And certainly, there were times where I was away from the West for a while and I’d come and I’d just do an easy workout and have a hard time sucking air. But it’s never been really too big a deal for me, just because I kind of grew up around it.
Abel: It’s such an interesting thing to me, especially when visitors come and they’re huffing and puffing.
But it has taught me a lot about just in how the body adapts.
I’ve read some things about the people who live at elevation tend to live longer and they tend to have better connected capillaries, or more of them.
But you really see it, and you really experience it when you come from another place.
And what about, as your body has changed and as a runner, have you found that it affected your form, your joints?
What else happened as you kind of made that transformation?
Yeah, it definitely made a big difference.
The first change for me that was life changing for me was I started sleeping better.
And so as I lost weight, I started sleeping better, which affected my energy level.
Abel: Was it breathing?
You know, I didn’t have sleep apnea before, I just had a hard time sleeping.
And as I lost the weight, I changed the way I slept.
I changed kind of how I slept on the bed. I don’t know what it was exactly. I just know that it helped.
As far as running goes, I think my form may be improved a little bit, but certainly I wasn’t feeling the same joint pain.
The lower back pain that I’ve had for years is no longer an issue.
But then there were other things that I hoped would change.
So I’ve had foot pain for years and years, and I’ve gone to dozens of doctors and they all tell me different things.
I’ve been tested for neuropathy, I’ve been tested for compartment syndrome, I’ve been tested all sorts of blood work, and no one can figure out what it was.
And I hoped losing 100 pounds, my foot pain would go away and it didn’t make any difference at all.
I still have the same pain I’ve always had running.
So I’m good to go for the first hour of running, but after an hour then I start getting pain shooting up through my legs, and so that’s just something I’ve learned to get used to and deal with.
Abel: Yeah, and we all have those things.
When I ran in New Hampshire, I just couldn’t do it in the winter, I had exercise-induced asthma.
And when it got cold, especially below freezing, I would cough the rest of the day if I even tried to run.
And I had really bad shin splints, I was able to work through that by changing my form, and that took a lot of work.
I think before that, I could run seven or eight miles, and after I changed my running form, I couldn’t run one.
I ran like 0.5 and my calves were screaming.
And I’m like, “What are these muscles I’m using now?”
But we all have to work through that, and especially as the years tick by, sometimes the things that were working before refuse to work any longer.
So, have you experienced that, where you’ve had to clean up your habits or just make some adjustments?
Yeah. Well, and I think you just can’t do the same things as you get older.
My son just started running this year.
I talked about it in my TED Talk that I always wanted my son to be a runner and he’d never really cared for it.
But now he’s in high school and there are girls that run and he wants to impress the girls.
Running with dad wasn’t motivation, but running to impress girls worked.
And it’s been crazy because just this summer as he started training and running, we were running together like an 11-minute mile average for four or five miles, and he would die after a few miles and I’d want to go 15.
And in just three months, now he’s running a six and a half minute mile, and I’m still the 10 and a half minute mile.
So I’m not seeing the same kind of progress that he’s seeing, because he’s a young kid.
He has no fat on his body, he doesn’t have the things that come with the age, and so that’s part of it, I think.
And so just the aging process, I think limits us, but I also think that you can undo a lot by being healthy, I’m amazed.
For the first time since I was in high school, I did a sub seven mile a few weeks ago.
And I never thought that I’d see that ever again in my life, but it’s getting in shape and then changing things up.
I’ve had to do actual workouts where I’m working on my speed instead of just jogging along and putting in the miles.
As you make those adjustments, you find your body can do things that maybe you couldn’t before.
Abel: Yeah, but you have to be willing to adapt.
And so, are you doing tempo or speed drills along with the longer runs?
Yeah, so every Tuesday and Thursday, I’ll do some sort of speed work out and whether that’s a Tempo Run or intervals or some other kind of speed training of some sort.
But I’ve tried to vary it and I haven’t been on a strict schedule because I’m not training for anything.
I just want to get faster, but doing those a few times a week has made a big difference.
Abel: Well, I’m sure having a son that’s getting faster and faster is some motivation, not to be just like the old slug out there, right?
Yeah, well, he’s destroying me already.
He did his first race edition a few weeks ago, and I wanted to do his first race with him and do a 5K and totally leave him in the dust and say, “This is what your old man can do.”
And his 5k time is already three minutes faster than mine.
Abel: That’s inspiring, though.
Kids have this amazing opportunity when they’re young to just really build these life-long skills.
They may go away and fatigue and you don’t have the same muscles, but you can come back to them.
But if you’re never a runner, if you’re never an athlete, when you’re young, if you don’t get to experience these things and make mistakes and train too hard and not hard enough and learn what that is, then you’re really missing out.
So I think it’s important to just recognize that sort of experience is so important for kids now more than ever.
And a lot of people will use being a parent as an excuse not to be in shape, as an excuse not to exercise.
So, during those incredible opportunities, which are probably temporary, where you get to share that with your children in your family and your nieces and nephews, that’s why we’re here, right?
That’s the best, that’s max level.
Yeah. And you know, I love going running with my kids and doing other things.
My kids aren’t really into sports.
I have four kids, and none of them really are that athletic, but they’ll go on bike rides with me, they’ll go on jogs or walks, and I love those moments.
But I tell you, when I went to that first race for my son just a few weeks ago, I was bawling.
I was so happy to see him doing something that’s brought so much happiness into my life.
To share that with him was really special for me.
The Real Cost of Real Food
Abel: Man, that is so cool. So cool.
Well, there’s so much to talk about, but one thing I did want to bring up is, a lot of people also use the excuse of, “Eating real food is too expensive.”
It’s like it’s out of reach. And maybe you can speak to that. I know you have some words.
Yeah, I love that because I felt that way.
That was one of those myths that I always thought that eating would be too expensive, because to get good produce is expensive and good meats is expensive.
So, I always had this idea that if I wanted to eat healthy, I just couldn’t afford it.
I mean, I’m a school teacher, I don’t have a lot of money, and so I just thought that couldn’t be.
And then I lost weight, and I went through my budget for that year.
Every once in a while, I’ll do like an audit of my spending, and I found that just getting rid of snacks, just getting rid of a lot of the processed foods, I saved $2,000 in one year by eating healthier foods.
It’s because I wasn’t eating as much, I was eating less.
And then snacks are expensive, going out to eat is expensive, and going to nice restaurants is expensive, so you cut some of those things out.
I saved enough money that first year of not eating so much, that I was able to buy myself an exercise bicycle, a weight bench, and I got better running gear.
And so, I put all the money that I saved on groceries back into my fitness, and I have really nice stuff to work out with now and it hasn’t cost me a penny, because I’m saving it from groceries.
Abel: That’s so cool. Now, another thing that you talk to, maybe you can just bring up your… What do you call it? Your almost TED talk.
It was a TED Talk that was all ready to go earlier this year, but was cancelled the day before. So you did it anyway, but at the school.
Maybe you can share that story.
Right. So I love speaking from stage, but I don’t get a lot of opportunities because as a school teacher, I’m working every day.
And so during my holidays and breaks, that’s when I schedule to go to other schools and give assemblies and things like that.
And so for spring break last year, I’d scheduled to go do a bunch of high school assemblies, and then I was accepted to do a TED Talk in San Francisco, and so I was excited.
It’s my spring break but every day I’m speaking at conferences, I’m speaking at schools.
And that was kind of the week that everything started shutting down because of COVID, and so while I was traveling, I was already speaking at a conference, and I had already spoken at a high school.
And then I got the call from San Francisco, “Your TED Talk is cancelled.”
And my TED Talk included my weight loss journey and some of the things that I’ve learned.
But rather than just go home, I called a bunch of other schools where I was and I said, “Hey, I have an extra two days, I’m not flying anywhere, if you guys aren’t shutting down yet, would you like me to come give an assembly?”
And so I was able to arrange two.
And one of them was in an elementary school, and I just called up a friend and said, “Hey, do you know anyone that can come film this,” and I had someone come film me.
And so I was able to give my TED talk. I had it adjusted a little bit because it was for an assembly, so it was going to be a little bit longer and it was for a younger age group.
But it was cool to give my talk on the same day that I would have given it in San Francisco. So it wasn’t a total loss.
And actually the best part of giving the talk was when I was done, I just spent a half hour talking about health and diet.
And as I was getting ready to leave, this cute little fourth grader came up and she said, “Hey, Mr. Christensen, we just talked to our teacher and we don’t have stuff scheduled for the rest of the day, so we’re going to stay and do P.E. We want to do the things that you’ve been talking about. Would you like to stay and play dodgeball with us?”
And I ended up staying for another hour and a half and just hanging out with all the fourth graders playing dodgeball.
So it was one of the most fun speaking engagements I’ve ever had, but it was because my TED talk got cancelled.
How To Get A Brain Boost In 5 Minutes
Abel: Wow, that is so cool.
Now, when it comes to things like dodgeball, playing music, going outside, exercising a little bit, you talk about brain boosts.
And you talk also in your work about the link between exercise and improvements in the brain.
You can see it, the images are really compelling. So, maybe you can just rant on that a little bit?
Yeah, for me, that was the coolest thing.
When I lost the weight, one of the other myths was; if you’re going to take time to lose weight, it’s going to take time away from other things, and you’re not going to be able to accomplish as much because you’re so focused on weight loss.
Well, the year that I lost the weight, as you mentioned in the intro, I wrote and published some books.
I was able to totally transform our house, we just refinanced it and it was valued $100,000 higher than it was before.
So, we’re doing all these really cool things, and it’s because I had more energy, I was more focused.
And those things kind of make sense.
If you’re living healthier, you’re going to be more focused to have more energy.
But I got really interested in why that was all happening, and so I started digging into the research.
And you know, the crazy thing is most of this just is so logical, it makes sense.
If you’re exercising, you’re going to get more blood to your brain, you’re going to get more oxygen to your brain, so it’s going to be more alert.
And they’ve done a bunch of studies that have showed with brain scans what you looked like before, especially in a school setting.
If you’ve been sitting for two or three hours, our brains go to sleep, and that’s why we’re tired, especially in the afternoon in school.
And kids dose off, it’s because we’ve just been sitting there for hours and hours and hours.
Well, so it makes sense, even if you move just a little bit, you’re going to get oxygen to your brain, which is going to activate certain parts of your brain, and that’s why we call it a Brain Boost.
It is when your brain is more active, it triggers parts of your brain that help with focus, that help with your energy and your attention, but it also activates parts of your long-term memory.
So, there have actually been studies that’s shown that your memory is going to improve when you’re more active, in the short-term and in the long-term.
And that’s certainly what I found in my own life, that as I was losing weight, I was being more productive, I was getting better ideas, especially as I was out on my runs.
I was getting all these great ideas, and I was able to capitalize on those and do more things because of the energy.
But now in the classroom, I’m doing Brain Boost all the time, and we call them brain boost.
So I’ll put on like a Just Dance video and all the kids move outside their desks and we dance for five minutes.
And then in the middle of the afternoon when kids are starting to get tired, we’ll play a game like four corners or mannequin, where we’re running around the classroom just to move a little bit.
And you don’t have to be doing a lot.
Now, I want that boost as much as I can, so before the day starts, I’m doing push-ups and sit-ups.
I’m doing that on my lunch break, because it’s making me feel good and I can do it in one minute or two minutes.
And those little micro-movements are really helping me throughout the day, so I’m doing a better job as a teacher, I’m being more productive, and it works for students, as well.
The other benefit is the kids love it. We have more fun in the classroom, we’re doing fun things all the time.
And because of that, they’re more alert, we’re getting through the curriculum faster, so we have more time for games.
So it’s really a win-win all the way around.
Abel: Yeah. And so many people are trying to just take that out, “That doesn’t matter, or there’s not funding for that.”
And also as we become adults and grown-ups, for whatever reason, we have a completely different conception of movement and exercise.
Where it’s like, “I’m exercising, it’s 6:30 in the morning, and then the rest of the day I’m working or whatever.”
There’s zero involvement in movement and exercise for the rest of the day, which many studies have shown is a big problem, and any amount of sedentary behavior that adds up over time, especially if it’s a long period of just sitting there.
And we know how bad it is for kids, we know what it does to them.
Yet as adults, we just sit there all day and expect that to be the norm and expect that to be healthy.
So what about for adults?
Do you have any tricks or advice for those who are stuck in chairs?
Just a quick little thing, you don’t have to get too sweaty, you don’t have to change your clothes or go to the gym or whatever.
But you could do something wherever you are.
Yeah. Well, so when I started doing that in the beginning, I started doing things in my classroom, and as an adult, it was embarrassing, because I was this huge guy and I’m trying to dance with my students.
Or every once in a while I’d be like, “Let’s do some jumping jacks,” or whatever.
And it was embarrassing, and I hated it, but I thought I need to make some changes and I’m going to do it.
Now, I have a lot of fun with it.
And honestly, I had a lot of fun with it when I was really big, too. It was that initial starting to do it.
And I think most adults are in the same boat.
If you’re in a cubicle or whatever, if you’re going to do something dramatic, I mean, throughout the day…
I have some dumbbells here in my classroom and I’ll pull them out if we have two minutes and we’re watching something on the screen or something, I’m on the side doing these dumbbells.
Normal people don’t do that, but once you get used to it and everyone else gets used to it, it’s not a big deal.
It’s just the thing that Mr. C. does, or whatever.
And so, I think adults have the same thing.
If you want to do something dramatic in your workplace, it might be a little uncomfortable at first, but there are also tons of things that aren’t uncomfortable.
Simply getting up to go to the bathroom, even if you don’t need to go to the bathroom, just having the excuse to walk somewhere, do it.
And go walk up and down the stairs and come back to your cubicle.
If you do that a few times throughout the morning and have different excuses to just move at all, even if it’s just walking, that’s going to make a huge difference.
Abel: What about the importance of taking a break?
Because adults totally forget that one too, but it’s super obvious for kids.
Yeah, it’s actually in the school setting, it’s a lot easier because we have set times for things.
So I can say, “After math, we’re going to do this. After science, we’re going to do this.”
For adults, you have to build it in.
And certainly being home for COVID and doing home schooling with kids and stuff, I would forget. And so, I’d be stuck behind the computer for four or five hours.
And so I had to start building it into my schedule and have notifications go off and see it.
Like with my kids at home, we still did dance breaks in the morning, but it had to be at 9:30 every day, and we’d all congregate in the basement to do that.
And then at 10:30 every day we’d meet in the backyard to jump on the trampoline for five minutes.
And it had to be part of the schedule.
And so I really think that’s the biggest part of it, is building that in.
If it’s on your schedule, you’re way more likely to do it.
Tyler’s Tip for Managing Your Calendar
Abel: Yeah. Speaking of that, you have to have a lot of attention to detail to pull off, what was it, 150 interviews for your podcast in two months?
Talk about calendar management.
Yeah, so when COVID hit and we came home, as I mentioned, I was kind of bugged because I love speaking and everything was cancelled for me.
But I also realized my students were struggling and so they wanted to have assemblies and do things, but now they’re stuck at home.
So I created a new podcast/YouTube channel called Virtual School Assembly, and I started reaching out to speakers and professional athletes, celebrities.
And just said, “Hey, can you do a normal assembly message? Let’s just do it shorter, and we’ll give these to kids. ”
Well, it took off after a few professional athletes, a few Academy Award winners, everyone else wanted to jump on board.
And so, I mean, I still hustle.
I’m still waking up at 4 o’clock every morning to reach out to people and get things going.
But that was my full-time thing over the summer.
There were days where I would do 10 interviews, just back to back to back and crank them out.
And the cool thing about that is, now we have two interviews every week, and I’m scheduled through next June.
Abel: What? Wow.
So we’ve already done all the shooting and there’s either two or three episodes every week, and last week we had two gold medal Olympians on.
So, we kind of had that theme.
This week we have two of the top professional use speakers in the country are coming on.
We just had one today, he’s an artist and a great use speaker, and then we cycle through next week’s all Hollywood again.
And so these incredible messages, but it was just working hard, and I think COVID was an excuse for a lot of people to just hit the reset button and relax.
And we kind of treat it in the same way. In my home this year in 2020, you get a pass on everything.
So everything we did was gravy and it didn’t hurt to fail.
We just tried a lot of new things and just hustled and got a lot done, so it was great.
Abel: So you’ve done a bit of in-person teaching, virtual teaching.
What are some things that you could maybe pass on to those who are schooling at home to some degree with just purely virtual teaching?
We can start right there.
What have you learned? What are the tricks?
Because it’s a new challenge for everybody.
Yeah, I think when we went home back in March, the biggest thing was, “Let’s just get through this. Let’s survive.”
And so a lot of things were scaled back, we got rid of the extra stuff, which I think was awesome.
I think long-term, we’re going to see a lot of good things coming out of this time, because we’re getting rid of a lot of non-essentials.
And I think that can be really good for educational reform.
But then the things that work face-to-face also usually work virtually, so if you have really low energy in the classroom, you know you’re not going to be a great teacher.
And same when you’re teaching virtually and you’re working in that virtual environment.
If you’re a parent supporting your kids at home, you have to engage them, and so that means finding things that they’re interested in.
All the best teaching practices, understanding and knowing your students, those work at home, just like they work in the classroom, just like they work virtually.
And so it’s finding the things that translate over and then just not being stupid.
A lot of teachers won’t pay attention to their background or they’ll be in their pajamas and then forget and get up to get something and now all their students have seen them in their pajamas.
Or taking your phone into the bathroom with you and stuff like that.
But just don’t be stupid, and you’ll do fine in a virtual environment.
Abel: Is that a generational thing? Is that a skill?
It seems like some people kind of get it and other people don’t realize like how to use Zoom. Or when you have a camera going on in your house, how you’re on camera and it’s a broadcast to everybody.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a teacher and you didn’t mean to. How do you educate people there or help catch them up?
So it is crazy.
I think some of it definitely is generational, but not exclusively.
I’ve been shocked as I’ve had really well-known people come on to my show that didn’t prepare for it at all, knowing they’re going to be on video, but having clutter in the background, having their underwear on their bed, having drool stuck in their beard and stuff like that.
And so sometimes I’ll coach them up a little bit.
What I started doing with my guests is sending them stuff in advance that says, “Hey, here’s some basic stuff like, don’t have the camera looking up at your chin, because it’s going to put on 20 pounds. Have a look down at you by a couple inches.”
And some of those things that maybe don’t occur to everybody, so I think you can coach up people a little bit on just how to clean up the environment.
If you’re a teacher or at home, just having a microphone makes a huge difference.
And it doesn’t have to be an expensive microphone, you can get one for $20 or $30 bucks on Amazon, that’s going to make a huge difference.
Abel: That’s a great point.
And even lighting, understanding that you don’t want to have a window pouring in through the background.
But you do want to have good lighting, whether it’s natural or having some light set up with a light kit.
And again, most of those things are really easy simple things, it’s just a matter of doing it.
And so if you prioritize it, it doesn’t have to be that big a deal.
Abel: Or that expensive, especially with a podcast or whatever.
I remember in 2015 or whatever, I think it was two lights for like $25 or $30 bucks, and these are with like the cheapest stands, no umbrella or anything like that.
I threw them on, and people were just like, “Are you in a TV studio?”
And it’s amazing with the microphone as well.
That’s a great point, I didn’t think about that in terms of virtual teaching.
But kids, especially elementary, junior, high school, especially high school kids, if you’re professional, if you kind of don’t put on your show to earn their respect, they’re going to be the first people to make fun of you for every little weird thing that’s wrong.
But that’s actually a great excuse just to kind of like get your stuff together.”
It’s almost like webcam hygiene, or something.
Abel: Mine isn’t perfect. It’s a little cluttered and manic, but it’s part of the fun, too.
We all have to realize that it’s like wearing clothes. We’re expressing ourselves whether we like it or not.
That’s absolutely true.
And the other thing, just to carry on that you can do things virtually.
When you’re working with kids, they appreciate any little thing you’ll do to accommodate them.
So when we first went home, simply having a chat where they could see each other and setting up a Zoom call like a virtual classroom, that meant so much to my students.
And then the other things too, like I have this awesome classroom library, but they couldn’t come to check out books anymore, so every once in a while I deliver books to their house.
And that just meant a lot to students, and it didn’t take a lot of extra time for me.
I’m commuting an hour anyways to work, I can go an extra 10 or 15 minutes out of my way to their house on the way home.
So it’s those little things where if you do, it means a lot to kids.
They know that we’re struggling, they know that different teachers are using different technologies and there’s going to be issues, and kids are pretty forgiving of that if they know you’re trying.
Abel: Yeah. Any other tips for the teachers who never intended to be?
Who just had kids and all of a sudden they’re expected to take on that role part-time, full-time, whatever it might be?
Yeah. Again, I think one of the coolest things about this time is, it’s an excuse to try things out, and most of us know the flaws of the public education system.
So if you have kids at home, this is an opportunity to do all the things that you wish they were doing at school all along.
So do more project-based learning.
My 14-year-old, we just set up his first YouTube channel this last week.
And he’s creating these how-to videos, it’s way more helpful than what he’d normally do in a science classroom.
He’s doing science experiments on his channel, and we just had an excuse to do it at home.
And so now is a great time to be a little more creative, think outside the box.
It’s not about just doing flashcards and memorizing dates anymore. Do the things that you think will really matter to your kids long-term.
Abel: And the projects, like the ones when I was a kid, a teenager, we had an old PC computer and I learned how to record on it with software.
I started up little radio shows with my friends and whoop, look where I am now.
Basically, I couldn’t have been here, wouldn’t have existed without that sort of playing around.
And now is a great time for kids to play around with podcasts, videos and whatever they might want to play around with.
So that’s a great point.
We’re almost out of time, but before we go, if you could just tell folks a little bit more about your work, where to find your TED videos, and also what you’re working on next.
Where to Find Tyler Christensen
Yeah. So I actually do a ton of different things, and so the best place to find me is just at TylerChristensen.com.
I actually pulled my website a few weeks ago, so it’s just now getting back up, but hopefully it’ll be out soon.
But that links to what I do as a speaker, to my research, and then I’m also a sports writer and do web design and things like that.
So there’s a lot of other things that it links to there. So that’s my best place.
And you mentioned earlier that I do have a podcast After The Run, that’s where I talk about the health and fitness stuff that I’ve learned along my journey.
It’s been on hold since I started Virtual School Assembly, just because I’ve been so busy with that project.
But After The Run’s a fun little podcast, and we have a website for that too, so aftertherun.com.
Abel: Cool. Tyler. I mean, what an incredible story, you are a living example and inspiration to so many people.
Keep on doing it, man. Thank you so much.
Thank you, it’s been a pleasure to be on the show.
Before You Go…
I’m just going to share a quick note that came from Paula, I think in response to one of the free e-cookbooks that we sent out.
We’ve sent out over 20,000 free ebooks this year, and we’re going to be sending out a lot more goodies. So make sure you’re signed up for the newsletter.
You can just type your best email address into the newsletter signup form, and we’ll send you some recipes and goodies.
So anyway, this is what Paula says in response to one of those cookbooks.
Thank you so much!! Of course, during confinement, me and my husband cooked so much, but my hubby has a hard time with my gluten free experiments, and insists on the fact that “your cooking is better with REAL flour.”
Well, every time I whipped something out of Alyson’s brilliant mind, he could only say “It’s very good!” I hope that’s true with all the recipes, so he will join “the wild side”.
Right now we are a bit out of sync. I have been (mostly) wild for years now, and I’m looking better than during my 20’s. We are in our mid thirties, but already he is gaining 1kg per year, non stop. He doesn’t look his best and he is in pain. He wants to change, but he keeps insisting on buying low fat, pasteurized stuff.
I’m sure a lot of people face resistance from their significant other, but I thought that if he would see the benefits with his own eyes, he would follow me. I can’t tell him what to do (I hate when people do that) and I think he needs to find his path.
He’s a musician, I’ve been meaning to buy your first book as a gift from him.
You and Alyson helped me ditch alcohol, create good habits, go back trekking and camping and ENJOY LIFE. I am forever grateful, and send you, Alyson and Bailey a lot of love during these troubled times.
I will never forget what you guys did for me, and hope I can help you (and your amazing team) develop this project of health. Keep on the good work.
Paula, this note just warms my heart. This is why we keep going. You know what I mean?
I’m just going to quickly go over a couple of your questions here.
So yes, when you switch over from cooking with traditional flour that’s filled with gluten, which is like a glue especially in baked goods and pastries and that sort of thing.
You can do all sorts of culinary and baking acrobatics when you have the gluten in there.
As soon as it’s gone, you notice so you have to accommodate. That’s why you have to test your recipes.
And in the low carb / keto / fat-burning / paleo, whatever space, certainly in the vegan / vegetarian, in all the spaces, there are many, many recipes out there if you just Google them.
If you just look up recipes—with whatever dietary dogma name paradigm, you want to attach to it—a lot of the recipes have never been tested before this. People slap them up on their social media channels, they slap them up on their websites, even print them in their books without ever, ever trying these recipes before.
So Alyson, my wife, and I for many years now, about a decade have been testing and trying all these different ways of cooking food, developing recipes, taking some from our communities, as well, that I printed in The Wild Diet book.
We adapted some from family recipes, made them gluten-free, real food, taking out all the sugar and the vegetable oil shortening, all sorts of things like that.
And so yes, it does take a little bit of adjustment, but mostly you want to have a tried and tested recipes with a little bit of know-how in the kitchen.
If you combine those two things, even if you’re gluten-free, even if you’re on a somewhat restricted diet based upon your own needs, you can make almost anything taste great without too much trouble.
So, you’re asking for advice for family members, significant others, people around you who might not be hopping on the healthy eating train as quickly as you are or not having as much success or just as much momentum as you might have.
Well, that’s really common in everyone’s family. This happens, and you can’t really do anything for anybody else.
You can be there for them. But I would say don’t offer unsolicited advice, try to get out of everyone’s way, is the best thing you can do.
I have a lot of coaching clients asking the same question right now—how can we make sure we’re on the same team, on the same page, as far as eating and working out goes, especially under these conditions?
Easier said than done.
But the best thing that I believe you can do is be an example for other people.
Make sure that extra healthy food is around, so if people do want to join you and engage in some of the gluten-free, real food, wild way of eating, then they can say “Oh, this is actually very good. This is quite nice. I don’t even care that there’s no gluten in it or vegetable oil or tons of sugar or whatever.”
Just make sure there’s extra food there for them, if they want to join you.
And if they do ask questions, obviously, then you can be generous, but just be very careful not to give unsolicited advice.
The way that people eat, the way that people live is a very personal thing, as we all know.
But more than anything else, Paula, thank you so much for writing in.
I’m so glad that you’re out there. Turning down the alcohol, working on your habits and especially going out, trekking outside and camping as well.
That keeps me sane. The more time I spend outside, the better, although the wildfire smoke is getting to me recently, it’s been rough.
All you folks out there in the West and the other parts of the world that are burning up, I feel you. It’s rough, I can feel it in my eyes, my throat.
A few people have asked, “What can you do about this wildfire smoke? How are you adjusting?”
Well, I’m not going out and doing my hardcore mountain runs when the air is bad, just based on visibility.
But we also have some testing equipment here. We can test the air and it’s been bad for a few weeks now.
So I do rows. I have a small rowing machine, and I do like a light cardio workout for 20 or 30 minutes sometimes.
If I can’t do my runs, nose breathing only, very low intensity kind of a fat-burning type workout, and then I’ll still lift weights a bit.
But I really do turn down my exercise a lot when the breathing gets hard.
What can you do about it?
We don’t have central air here where we’re living up here in the mountains. If you do and you have some sort of purification, then that’s excellent.
So you can close the windows and purify the air. You can also set up one or two different small room air purifiers. Shut off that room, especially if you’re sleeping in there, that can really help.
And then the N95 masks have been really useful for the wildfire smoke, so they’re great with the large particulates and those have been a real problem, especially for the past few weeks here.
So if it gets really bad, you can always put on ski goggles and an N95 mask to protect yourself, to some degree, from these particulates.
And it’s not really going to solve any problems. It wouldn’t be easy to exercise in that way with that get-up, but at least when it gets really bad during those cycles, sometimes that can help a little bit.
Alright, before we get too carried away, I just want to mention a couple of quick things.
If you’re interested in my new book of satire, you can find it at DesignerBabiesBook.com. It’s a number one international bestseller in humor and poetry.
And if you want to throw a few bucks in the Tip Jar to keep this show coming to you, come join us on Patreon for just a few bucks a month.
I’ll give you my new book and audio book for free, along with some other goodies for joining us. We have a group coaching in The Wild Guild, which is currently hosted on Discord, and we’re starting up some other channels. So it’s a really exciting time.
And I just have one quick announcement, too. This past week, I did a virtual live music performance of some original tunes at a free speech conference, and also spoke on a panel about technology and the First Amendment.
This was at First Amendment voice out of Philadelphia.
So if you’re out there and you want to collaborate with virtual performances, virtual conferences and things like that in these crazy times. That’s another reason to get in touch.
All sorts of interesting projects are coming my way recently, and every great thing that’s happened in our business over the 10 years of us doing this has been through collaboration.
So don’t hesitate, reach out, you can always email me, or just message me wherever you’re at.
And then one other quick way you can support this show, if you’re located in the United States, then check out WildSuperfoods.com.
You can enter the code wild15 during check out for an extra 15% off your order.
We’ve got a lot of stuff with more coming over at wildsuperfoods.com. One more time that promo code for you to save 15% off is wild15.
What did you think of this interview with Tyler Christensen? Have you dropped weight by eating real food? Drop a comment below!