“Fitness is important to develop into a habit. And, habits are challenging, but we face them all the time. And, we can have the couch habit, or we can have the fitness habit.” ~ Chad Austin
(Transcript available below)
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Heidi Higgins: Hi, there. I'm Heidi Higgins and you are listening to K12 On Learning. In a world that's flooded with promises of instant gratification, shortcuts, quick fixes, and easy buttons, my guest today, fitness expert, business owner, and bestselling author Chad Austin helps his client stop constantly starting over so they can improve their quality of life with long-term fitness success. And since summer's the perfect time to begin to fit fitness into your life, let's start now. Mr. Chad Austin, welcome to the K12 On Learning podcast. How are you?
Chad Austin: Great. Thanks for having me on.
Heidi Higgins: Well, we're thrilled to have you on. Would you tell us a little bit about who you are and why you do what you do?
Chad Austin: My name's Chad Austin. I'm a personal trainer here in Kansas City. I've been training for about 15 years now. Before that, I was a PE teacher actually, for three years. Being an athlete brought me to being a PE teacher and then I thought that personal training was just going to be a temporary stop for me while I found my next teaching job and it ended up being a career change, ended up just being a better fit for me. As I've evolved over the years, I went from being a employee trainer at a gym to then starting my own business and having the focus be on helping people get long-term success. And then finding out that the way I thought I was doing that wasn't quite as successful as I thought it was and so I keep evolving that as a new level. I'm the owner of Priority Fitness and it's a personal training studio now, we opened in 2016, and Priority Fitness was after actually named after my best selling book, Make Fitness a Priority: How to Win the Fight Against your Excuses. My make fitness a priority message started, like I said, evolved as a trainer, and so one book became three and a big fitness community and now I'm actually on the second phase of that, about helping people keep fitness a priority in their life.
Heidi Higgins: What has your own physical fitness done for you in your life?
Chad Austin: Fitness started for me as something to look better. I know when I take good care of myself, I'm a better husband. I'm a better son. I'm a better trainer. I'm a better speaker, writer, creative thinker, just I'm better at everything. But when I don't have fitness in my life, then I'm not as good as those things. I just cannot be my best self. And so for those reasons, and just for having my most energy, control over anxiety and stress, fitness is a must for me. It's my therapy, for sure.
Heidi Higgins: I like that. You said something interesting and the word that comes to mind for me is confidence in every walk of life when you look and feel good.
Chad Austin: I loved coming on and doing these interviews and getting to make an impact as a speaker, but I'm a very introverted person and so the confidence I get from fitness definitely helps me come out of my shell and make the most impact. Without fitness, I don't believe I could do that.
Heidi Higgins: Well, thank you. That's a good, honest answer. I appreciate that. We are talking today to families who are primarily at home with children and during the school year, they're at home with their children doing education. We have noticed that many of them have interest in what they can do during the summer to develop a routine of fitness and get them ready for the fall. What are some ideas about things that families can do to start?
Chad Austin: Yeah, I've helped many over the years and being a past teacher, I understand how your schedule changes when summer starts. So you have more time with your families, but you also have more time for yourself and for fitness and everything. Basically what I do is I help busy people figure out how fitness fits in their life. But over the years, I've learned that more importantly than that, I help them hit the fitness reset button every time their life changes. And so it's good going into the summer, knowing that you're going to have three months where you're going to have a lot freer schedule to do this, but know it's going to end at one point, too. And so as you reset your schedule now for the summer, know that when it summer ends, you're going to have to reset it again with the expectations of your new schedule. To answer your question, the first way to start, the same way I have anyone start, is just asking themselves, "How does fitness fit in my life right now?"
That is the first step to do whenever you're trying to make fitness a part of your life again. So on my website, makefitnessapriority.com, I walk people through this. And so when everyone asks, "How do I get started?" there's two questions you have to answer to get started. And the first one is just, "How does fitness fit in my life right now?" and so just looking at your family schedule, your work schedule, everything that you're already committed to, where does fitness fit and what does it look like? And then how much accountability do I need to be able to do it?
Heidi Higgins: That accountability piece is interesting. Is it possible to involve the children? And what is the importance of teaching the children that fitness is a priority?
Chad Austin: Especially when the kids are younger, the best way we can teach them is by leading by an example. I know that is what I remember from when I was a kid and we were on summer vacation. The one thing I remember is we were always active. My dad always had us active as a family, where we'd be going on bike rides, going on walks, keeping us involved in activities. And I remember he always went on walks, went on jogs, he had dumbbells I remember him using, and so he worked out and I remember that. And so that's an important thing to be able to do as an example. And as far as including your kids in a workout, I don't know if that's one size fits all. I think that goes case by case basis with your kids. Your kids might be easily engaged and very interested in you when you workout, it might be easy to involve them. And you may have other kids where they're less interested. It's harder to get them engaged.
And so I would say don't force it, try to create the environment for activity and being active and set that example. But if it's easy to get your kids involved, then jump on it. If it's not, then I think it's a process. Just know that what works for some other family, if it's easy for them to get involved, then you're going to walk with them, do pushups with them, do lifts with them with smaller weights. That doesn't mean that yours will be. It may look different for your family as it does for somebody else and the trick is just finding that what works best for you.
Heidi Higgins: Fitness is important to develop into a habit and habits are challenging, but we face them all the time and we can have the couch habit or we can have the fitness habit.
Chad Austin: That fit word is very important. So just know that if it doesn't fit in your life, it won't be there very long. You can't fit a square peg in a round hole. And so if you're trying to force something that doesn't fit, it won't last very long, so you want what looks best, what fits best for you, and knowing that just because something worked for you in the past doesn't mean it's necessarily going to work for you now. You're not picking up where you left off last summer. You're starting with what works best for you right now. I think other than that, the best place to start, if you want it to be long term is you start with your why. Why is fitness important to you? Question I always ask my clients, and that is what will you gain by making fitness a priority?
I don't do a lot of before and after pictures when I do testimonials and when we talk about my client's success. That is the fitness lie in a way, I believe. When you see someone's before and after picture, you focus on the after picture and it gives you an illusion that it's easy and you have no idea what happened between those two pictures. There was a lot of hard work in between those. There was days when they didn't want to work out. There were days that didn't want to stick to their plan and their why is what kept them involved. And so understanding why, what you're going to gain from it, why fitness is important to you, why exercise and eating healthy, what will you gain as a person, and for me, that's becoming my best self.
Heidi Higgins: I like that. That takes care of those excuses when they come up if we remember what that why is. Food is a big part of fitness. How does food fit in for you?
Chad Austin: You can't out-train a bad diet, right? That's so deep, that answer. You can't out-train a bad diet. If your goal is weight loss, if your goal is feeling better, certain foods might make you feel better right away and comfort you but it's not going to have very long effects. And so in order to be your best, if you eat like crap, you're going to feel like crap, so you got to make sure you got to eat for how you want to feel and you can take good care of yourself. So whenever I have someone start a new plan, before I tell them anything about nutrition, I have an exercise I have them do where I just call Throw Out the Temptation. And all that means is they go in their fridge and they go in their pantry and they throw out all the things that they know they shouldn't be eating that much of. And if you know certain things are in there that are unhealthy, you know you shouldn't be eating regularly, then you also know foods that would be better choices so you can go replace it. So the first step is to go and get rid of some of the bad temptation, replace it with good temptation.
And so we have all kinds of justification, especially when we have kids at home for the summer. It's a seasonal justification now, if the kids are home for the summer, that you have these snacks for them. Who's really eating these? You have to ask yourself sometimes. And so I remember that was my mom's justification for a long time, is that my nephews ate these things, but I never saw my nephews eat them. And so sometimes we have these justifications we used to keep bad temptation around and it's just better, if you want success, get rid of that temptation. Don't surround yourself with it and don't put yourself in that situation. Just get rid of some of the bad temptation and replace it with good choices. That'd be the first step.
And then second, just know as you're grocery shopping, to get more real food and less processed food. We know that the real food is going to be more the perimeter of the grocery store, so it's going to be your fruits and your vegetables and going to be your lean meats and it's going to be your dairy products, your eggs, things like that, the things that don't have a ton of ingredients on it. Things in the middle that are in boxes and bags, if you look at it and if it's going to take you longer to read the ingredient list than it will to eat it, then don't get it. It's not good for you. It's not going to help you feel better or look better in the long run, so getting rid of the bad temptation, replacing with good temptation and just start eating real food, less processed food.
Heidi Higgins: What's the biggest obstacle people find when they begin a routine?
Chad Austin: The biggest excuse I always think ... I'm an avid obstacle racer and I think that happened when I became a personal trainer, because you can replace obstacle with excuse in any sentence. That's basically the same. Basically an excuse is just an obstacle we haven't overcome yet, but I think the biggest one that we struggle with is the, "I'm too busy." Even for us, when we go to the summer and we have more time, then the problem is when you say, "I'm too busy," that really means is, "I'm too busy to work out like I used to." And so that was probably before kids, before your job. And so now that you have kids, you're not going to be able to work out ...
I know when I first became a trainer, and it was during a career change for me, I had all kinds of time. I was brand new to Kansas City. I didn't have really a social life yet. I lived right behind the gym and I didn't have a lot of clients yet because I was the new trainer, so I worked out two hours a day, six days a week and I was in great shape and I felt great, but I had all the time to do it. But now 15 years later, my job, everything is so much different. I'm married. I have a personal training studio. I have training online and in person. I ride, I speak, I do all these different things, and so that schedule would no way fit in my life right now and if I tried to force it, would ruin the balance of my life. And so it goes back to that. It has the fit in your life.
And so here's the struggle we have with this that's really the big answer to that, the question you just asked, is that we think of whenever we are in the best shape of our life, so if I compared when I was in the best shape of my life and I want to get back there, and it's almost like I would hold that as the bar. So whatever I did as exercise back then, whatever I did for nutrition back then, doing anything less than that is not going to be enough. I'm going to be ashamed. And we have to throw that way of thinking out the window.
Doing less does not mean that it's less of a priority in our lives. It just means that it fits differently in our lives. And so that's a very important thing to know when you start. And so maybe before, maybe in your summer break before you had kids, you could work out four or five hours a week. But now that you have kids, it's going to be a tighter window and it will be shorter workouts, less often, and that's okay. You're still going to get a great benefit from it. It just you can't beat yourself up for being less. It's not less of a priority, just fits different.
Heidi Higgins: I really like your multiple definitions for the word fit. A family is home for the summer and they are trying to make some plans. What might they do to always remember to keep this fitness and food smart strength and confidence in mind?
Chad Austin: Oh, I would think starting it as a conversation between your spouse and yourself and even having it be something that you talk to your kids about, I think, goes far. Right now in our country, if you don't learn it from your parents, where are you going to learn it? If you're an athlete, how to lift weights for your sport ... Well, we don't learn about, as you get older, how do you eat healthy? How do you exercise? How do you stay active? Well, how do you just take good care of yourself? We don't learn about those things in school. And so the best place for us to learn about them right now is from our parents as we grow up. And so I think having a regular talk about this and having it be a conversation that comes up regularly, I wish that was how I grew up, and that would've been important.
My parents definitely set the example of us being active, but we never talked about nutrition and I had a terrible diet. I had pop all the time. I had candy all the time and that was probably through until I became a grownup. And my college diet was terrible too, and I never really learned until I became a personal trainer. So as you start, if you want fitness and health, another thing you would get out of it other than fitness and health would be energy and less stress and less anxiety, excitement, more joy, more happiness. If you want those kind of things to be filled in your summer, then a good place to start is the making it open communication. And so it'd be something that you talk about regularly with your spouse and things that come up in conversation with your kids, too. And so then they're going to remember that example and that's going to be something they learn.
Heidi Higgins: I like that. The headlines are always full of mental health, anxiety and things like that are going on right now. Maybe this physical piece could be the bridge to smooth out some of those mental anxieties.
Chad Austin: Oh, yeah. And like I said earlier, that's my main motivation for exercise. I know the gym is my therapy. I know I'm my best self when I do anything is when I'm taking good care of myself. I think most people would say that and you don't have to like working out. A lot of people don't like working out. And so sometimes doing it is a sacrifice you're making, but it's always a sacrifice that's going to give you a lot of rewards for it and so it's one thing just to keep in mind. A lot of times, that is the why. I know for my parents, as grandparents now, that is their main source of motivation for ... That is their fitness why, is they want to be active grandparents. And so as we become parents, I think that is a big source of motivation for us for fitness is we want to be active parents. We want to be active with our kids and when we become grandparents, even more so. So we want to keep that mobility, keep that energy, and keep that good mood, good feeling all day.
Heidi Higgins: If you had any advice that you would offer families, what would it be?
Chad Austin: Just knowing that failing is part of it. My books are called Make Fitness a Priority. I have three of them. You can find them on Amazon, by the way, but nothing in any of the books does it say anywhere that you have to be perfect. And sometimes that is an illusion that we're given in fitness, especially when it comes around time in the beginning of the year.
All personal trainers, we help people set goals for a living, but we all hate New Year's resolutions. And the reason is because it's not about the resolution, it's not about setting a goal and that you might fail, but it's about the negativity that comes with it. We all know all the stats of failing, that at six weeks into the year, now you failed. And I want to know who first came up with these and who determines my failure that doesn't even know me. When those stats do come out this time around and you hear them, if you're someone that didn't fail yet, your time's coming, you're going to. It's inevitable. Everybody fails. There's going to be a time you miss a workout. There's going to be time you started the day with the best intentions, but then something goes wrong. And it doesn't mean you fail. When you fail, your fitness journey does not end. Failing is part of it. And the way you get better is getting better at getting back on track every time you fail. And failing doesn't define us. What defines us is what we do next.
And so that's one thing, as an athlete, what my dad always was in my ear saying. Whenever me and my sister made a mistake growing up, it's always, it's what you do next that counts. I think that is definitely a fatherly wisdom that I took along with me as a trainer that's I use every day with my clients. There's going to be times you mess up but it's what you do next accounts. Don't use that excuse to say, "Oh, well, we'll start again next month or start again next year," as a New Year's resolution stats would lead you to believe, but just get back on track.
How do you get back on track? On my website, makefitnessapriority.com, you'll recognize me right away from the content on there, but that's what I do, is I help people make fitness a priority in their life, but more importantly, I help people figure out how it fits. It fits differently for everybody. And then as life changes, it's going to keep fitting differently and so you have to understand how to pivot. We're very good at adapting to change when it comes to our family and our career. We're terrible at adapting to change when it comes to how fitness fits in our life. But if you go on my website, you can get a free copy of my first book. There's a download you can get there, but also if you want a strategy session with me, you can sign up for that, too.
Heidi Higgins: Thanks, Chad, for giving us some things to think about and some things to do. This has become a real mission for you in your life.
Chad Austin: If you learn how to fit fitness in your life, then it overflows and you're better at all those areas and so that's definitely my mission. We put fitness off until later, whenever there's a life change, whether it be good or bad, but we're doing ourselves a disservice by doing that because we're not becoming our best self. But if we can adapt to those changes faster with fitness, it does us such a good service because we can be our best self faster and it makes us better with our family, better in our career, better at everything.
Heidi Higgins: Thank you for listening to K12 On Learning, sponsored by Stride. To learn more about online public schools, powered by Stride K12, Stride career prep programs that foster lifelong learning or any of the private school or individual course offerings, please go to stridelearning.com or k12.com. Special thanks to Tree KStudios for providing the music for us. Remember to subscribe to this podcast and feel free to leave us a good review. We hope you'll join us next time for K12 On Learning.
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