What's REALLY holding you back from achieving your fitness goals? Is a short-term focus on "weight loss" setting you up for long-term failure?
Today, I'm extremely excited to welcome to the show Mike Millner, a high-level nutrition coach and a business coach who has a gift for understanding the personality-based needs of his clients and where people are in their journey.
In this episode, Mike and I unpack the DNA of success to understand why so many of us fail at hitting our health and fitness goals. Transformation goes beyond calories in and calories out, all the way to the hidden barriers that hold us back. We're talking about the mental game. This is a 'how-to-crush-your-goals-and-redesign-your-identity’ conversation.
Coach Mike has experienced the highs and lows of dieting and fitness and has learned how to overcome the psychological barriers and challenges that prevent most people from achieving their goals. He is the founder of Peak Optimization Performance or POP and the voice behind the top-rated Mind Over Macros podcast, where he shares his insights and expertise on nutrition, training, and, most importantly, mindset. He aims to help as many people as possible navigate life as healthy individuals in a sustainable and enjoyable way.
Click here to apply for coaching!
Today you’ll learn all about:
[3:01] The moment his mindset shifted to confidence
[5:25] Mental vs. physical transformation
[8:17] Energy balance and CICO in long-term goals
[13:18] "Grit" vs. willpower in goal setting
[16:01] Top psychological barriers to fat loss
[18:21] Use of SMART goals and other theories
[23:23] Mental cycles, like training cycles
[26:35] How "mental diet" affects physical health
[30:01] Fear of success in fitness
[34:59] Power of language and self-talk
[39:16] Gratitude and positive psychology
[42:30] Short-term wins vs. life-long habits
[45:35] Mindset in muscle building
[48:21] What would Mike be doing if he didn't become a fitness coach
[50:33] Where to learn more about Mike and his work
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You're not measuring success against, did I hit my macros perfectly? Did I work out seven days this week? Did I follow this, you know, supplement routine, like it's not 10 different things. It's just very basic three things. And now you give yourself credit. When you complete those three things you follow through on your commitment card. And what that does is it solidifies the behavior because you get a dopamine response when you complete the task, and it builds self trust and every time you follow through on those commitments that you make to yourself, you're just making little deposits into that self trust bank account.Philip Pape:
Welcome to the Wits& Weights podcast. I'm your host, Philip pape, and this twice a week podcast is dedicated to helping you achieve physical self mastery by getting stronger. Optimizing your nutrition and upgrading your body composition will uncover science backed strategies for movement, metabolism, muscle and mindset with a skeptical eye on the fitness industry, so you can look and feel your absolute best. Let's dive right in Wits & Weights community Welcome to another episode of the Wits & Weights Podcast. Today, I'm extremely excited to welcome to the show Mike Milner, a high level nutrition coach and a business coach of mine who has a gift for understanding the personality based needs of his clients and where people are in their journey. He was gracious enough to have me on his show mind over macros, and I wanted to bring him on to share his vast experience as a coach. In this episode, Mike and I are unpacking the DNA of success. To understand why so many of us fail at hitting our health and fitness goals. Transformation goes way beyond calories in calories out all the way to the hidden barriers that hold us back. And so we are talking about the mental game. This isn't just another how to lose weight talk. This is a how to crush your goals and redesign your identity kind of conversation. Now imagine being on every end of the spectrum when it comes to dieting, overweight, insecure, skinny, fat and embarrassed to step foot in the gym. How would you feel? How would you cope? How would you change? That's exactly what my guest today has gone through in his own personal journey. Coach Mike has experienced the highs and lows of dieting and fitness. And he's learned how to overcome the psychological barriers and challenges that prevent most people from achieving their goals. Mike's the founder of peak optimization, performance or pop, and the voice behind the very popular mind over macros podcast, where he shares his insights and expertise on nutrition training. And most importantly, mindset. His goal is to help as many people as possible navigate through life as a healthy individual in a way that's sustainable and enjoyable. Mike, welcome to the show.Mike Millner:
Thanks so much. That was definitely the best intro I've ever received on a show. SoPhilip Pape:
that's the goal here, man, and it's well deserved. And you've talked about that journey a lot on your podcast, you know, not just being overweight, but also feeling ashamed dealing with orthorexia trying and failing over and over again, and then eventually finding, you know, balance some sense of balance, right, and empowerment over your health to the point where you can help others. So what was the pivotal moment that to use your words shifted your beliefs, from uncertainty, from insecurity to confidence in achieving your goals? Yeah, really,Mike Millner:
if I had to distill it down to one moment, it would be actually asking for help and getting the support that I needed. I tried, you know, I think I was very driven by my own ability to figure things out, almost to the point of stubbornness. And maybe you could call it just, you know, ego, because I felt like, you know, I, I grew up an athlete, I was very competitive, you know, I like to win. And so it was like that mindset, like, well, if I fail a diet, it's my fault, because I just need to try harder, I just need to be more disciplined, I just need to have more willpower. And I know that I can do this, I know that I can, can quote unquote, win. And it just kept me in this perpetual cycle of failing and blaming myself and being like, why can't you do this? Why can't you be successful? So it really was a moment of just, why do I feel the need to just continue to struggle and put myself in a position where my life was literally crumbling around me, where I was impacting relationships that were important to me, where I was losing people that I loved, because of my obsession with trying to lose weight. And I had a horrible relationship with my body had a horrible relationship with food, horrible relationship with exercise. And I was, quite frankly, just alone. And it was just me and my chicken and broccoli, and I was watching everything else fall apart. And yeah, it was it was really that kind of rock bottom moment where I was like, I got I need, I need some help. So the pivotal moment for me was really asking for support and finding a coach and mentor that actually poured into, to me to give me the belief and the permission to to fail and to try again and and to recognize that, you know, even though you know, maybe it wasn't my fault that a lot of those diets were unsuccessful. It was it was my responsibility to do things differently if I wanted a different outcome and it was really that shift of, you know, belief and support and accountability and permission to be myself and to do things my own way. That was was the catalyst for the change that I needed to make. Yeah,Philip Pape:
so what I'm hearing from you it's not about the process necessarily the How're the nuts and bolts, the nitty gritty it was the accountability and the support. Like you said, ego and stubbornness. I talk all the time in this podcast about how just just seeing a coach for one session can can blow your mind in terms of what not only what you learned, but the different perspective and how somebody can help move you forward. Would you say that your How did your mental evolution mirror your physical changes? Did they go hand in hand really was did one come first in this mental shift? Did this accountability and finding help really drive the physical changes eventually?Mike Millner:
Yeah, it's a good question. I think when you know, the the first time I had a two hour Skype session with Kristian Thibodeau. So he was my first mentor, that really, really opened my eyes. And he did not charge me anything for it. He, you know, I followed him and read his articles on tea nation, and a lot of like, the psychology based work that he was doing just resonated with me, because that's, that's the way that my brain works. I love to know the why and the how behind things, why are humans the way that we are? Why do we do the things that we do? And he explains a lot of that in his writing. So I reached out to him on a whim, thinking there's no way that this guy's you know, big shot T nation writer has lied to me, not only did he reply right away, but he's like, Hey, here's my Skype, you know, message me, or let's set up a Skype call and sat on the call with me for two hours. And the first question, as I'm going over my journey, the first question was, have you ever considered that all the things that you've been trying, like, weren't actually built for you? And I was like, No, I actually have not considered seems so obvious when you say like, yeah, of course. But I was like, the classic, like, just tell me the rules, and I'm gonna follow the rules. But he's like, Have you ever considered that those rules, like weren't actually meant for you? And I was like, No, truthfully, I haven't. So is, it was that just a little shift in perspective to be like, Oh, my God, there's this whole other possibility out there that I didn't even consider that maybe I've been barking up the wrong tree, that I need to actually understand what my body responds to what fits my disposition and my personality and my unique characteristics and values and traits, and, you know, everything from from the physical to the mental. And so it was really that belief shift that opened my eyes. So I think that, if I didn't have the belief, I don't think the physical acts would have followed. But it was just that little bit of hope that there was a light at the end of the tunnel led me on the path to changing some of the things that I was doing physically and, and looking at it through the lens of sustainability and permanent results in a lifestyle shift and identity shifts. So I would have to say that the the mental frame had to come first before the physical frame could follow.Philip Pape:
And that makes a lot of sense, because you've talked about how you went through physical transformations in the past, they just didn't stick. Right. As we all have, we might know exactly what we think we need to do, and even take the action to do it. And still, somehow, it doesn't stick. So I'm just gonna repeat what you just said, quote, have you considered all the things you've been trying were not meant for you? Right? I think that's really important. So let's talk about kind of distinction between what people think works fit in the physical realm, versus what what the big picture really says, let's talk about energy balance, right? We know that calories in calories out is the physics behind weight loss behind fat loss. But we also know from coaching real human beings. And like you just said that that's just a tiny piece of the picture when it comes to getting your goals. And a lot of this stuff is unhelpful, without context. Where does it fit in here? What's the bigger picture when it comes to actually achieving your goals for the long term?Mike Millner:
Yeah, I think the problem with energy balance in that conversation is it really does present things through a short term lens. And I don't think that there's ever the context of like, what's what's the Forever plan? I think we're so I think the biggest shift that needs to be made as a whole for somebody to really be successful. And when I say success, I mean, you reach your goals, and you stay there. Because we typically don't have weight loss issues. We have weight maintenance issues. And I think a lot of the things that are perpetuated in social media on the Internet, wherever you're getting your information is it's a very short term lens. It's a very, you know, it's six week challenges. It's 30 day detoxes, even the calorie balance equation, you know, factually speaking, yes, we have to be in a in an energy deficit in order to lose weight, but it just don't. It's not it's not the type of thing where you eat less, and then you just ride it out forever. And that's, that's the Forever plan. So nobody ever talks about that, like, this is a very short term intervention. And I find that message to be more damaging than helpful. Because what most people do when they hear that message is they start trying to eat less, and then they try to eat less and less and less and they try to extend the timeline of eating less and Annette and a inevitably they break and they reach that tipping point because they don't understand, like your body is trying to survive, your body's trying to adapt to the signals that you're sending it. So when you start moving less, because you have less energy, when you have more cravings when your hunger is through the roof, when you're fatigued, when you have hormonal imbalances, when you lose your sex drive, when you're getting sick more frequently, all of those can be a product of putting too much stress on your system. And eating less is a stress on the system. And I just don't think that we paint enough context where we deliver that message to say, what's the long term plan, if somebody, I think it should be a requirement that if somebody is going to put out the message of calories in calories out, it has to be followed up with the caveat of this is a very short term intervention. And if you don't know how to transition out of that, into maintenance, to restore homeostasis, to give your body what it needs to thrive long term, then we're really doing everyone a disservice.Philip Pape:
Yeah, and I think if you put it before that, you know, a fat loss phase is not fun, you know, it's not meant to be this enjoyable thing that you stick with forever. But I do what I want to peel back the onion a little bit on the weight loss messaging overall, like on this show, I've tend to use the term fat loss more than weight loss these days. But I know it's prevalent in the industry. And I know it helps with marketing and things like that. What are your thoughts on the phrase in general, and the fact that people put so much importance into weight loss? Yeah, IMike Millner:
think, you know, again, it's the diet industry is very smart. Like you have people who are marketing geniuses, really. And that's why the industry is up to I think 80 billion annually. So they're doing something, quote unquote, right, depending on your definition of right, if you measure it by financial success, then sure, but if you measure it on permanent results, then I would say that it's pretty harmful. But as long as people keep feeding into that message, meaning when we talk about weight loss, we make promises about how much weight you can lose in the shortest amount of time, I was the most susceptible person to that marketing, when I was in the depths of my dieting phases and years, it was the, the quicker the results, the more bold the results, because again, like it fed my ego of oh, I can do that, like I can win in the next six weeks and lose, you know, 3040 pounds, I'm gonna get after it and be perfect. And you know, it does, it creates a disordered mindset, it really does. And it and it's almost a guarantee that if you take that, that approach, you're going to gain the weight back, and you're going to feel worse, and you're going to set yourself up for a more difficult road ahead. Because the more that we lose weight and gain it back, the more that we restrict and deprive ourselves, it does make it harder in the future to improve your body composition. So I think that, you know, the difference between weight loss and fat loss, obviously, there's a major difference. Even the fat loss messaging, I think, really what we should be talking about is permanent results, sustainable results, enjoyable results, lifelong results, however you want to frame it, whether we're talking weight loss, or they're talking fat loss, we're talking about getting leaner, more tone, looking more athletic, like whatever phrase resonates with you. And you're like, Yes, that's what I want. Let's make sure that we package it in a permanent sustainable way.Philip Pape:
Yeah, no, I love that. And like, the phrase I use is looking like you lift right. And it's okay for it to be about physique. But like you said, it's got to be something that's sustainable. Some people hear that and then they think, Okay, does that mean, I have to have willpower discipline in those things forever, right. And I know, you're probably familiar with Angela Duckworth and her work on grit, that grit and perseverance stick with it. And this is important for achieving a goal. What are your thoughts on that? And maybe it's distinct from willpower and discipline. But just just tell us about your thoughts there?Mike Millner:
Yeah, I think a lot of times, there's characteristics that get thrown around that we do need. But I think that sometimes we unnecessarily tax those systems. And like, any resource is a finite resource. And so whether we're talking about energy, attention, time, money, you know, there's always a trade off. And there's always a limited amount of that given resource. So where I'm putting energy to where I'm putting attention to, it's taking away from something else. So it better be something that's important and meaningful. And the reason why I say that is because, you know, I have this concept of resource allocation. And I think a lot of times we don't even look at, where are we spending unnecessary resources that could be put to better use elsewhere. So if you're, if you're, you know, signing up for a program, and it requires 24/7 willpower, that's a horrible use of the resources willpower, if it requires you to, you know, you know, kind of grit your teeth and white knuckle, your way through it, eventually, you're gonna run out of that resource. So if we look at everything through that lens, it's like, you know, going in with a full tank of gas, like if I can get to my destination, using less gas, why wouldn't Why wouldn't I choose that path? So that's the way that I perceive discipline willpower. Do we need them absolutely But we all have them and we can all build them. And we can find ways to not rely on them. So one of the most effective strategies for willpower is to not need it as frequently. And if you don't need it as frequently, you have it in the moment you have a full tank of willpower guess when you really need it, in those friction point moments that oftentimes we struggle with, we struggle in those stressful, hectic, quote unquote, life got in the way situations, oftentimes, because we unnecessarily drained that willpower battery, and we had nothing left when when that friction point hit.Philip Pape:
Yeah, finite resources. And that's interesting, because a friend of mine texted me the other day. And, you know, I challenged the notion that we needed we needed to do everything really hard and grind all the time. He's like, Well, isn't that what it takes to succeed? I'm like, You're gonna, you're gonna hit a wall, right? If you have to do that constantly. I think if you if you're right at the edge, if you expand your comfort zone, you can find that sweet spot to doing that. So I love that message. And when you think about people who are successful, what would you say is the most common barrier here psychologically, to whether X, you know, trying to lose fat, keep it off, whatever it is this sustainable long term results? Yeah, it'sMike Millner:
the biggest barrier is viewing it as an infinite game. It's viewing it taking away the finish line, taking away the, you know, oh, this is a means to an end. If I just do this for x amount of time, then I'm gonna live happily ever after. It's, you have to truly view this as like winning the game is just by continuing to play the game. There's no set rules, there's no, there's no end score, you know, there's no finish line. And I think that's the biggest mental roadblock, I think so frequently, we're like, alright, well, I'm going to do this thing for a short amount of time for a short term result, because I'm, I'm really frustrated with how I look. And I don't like the way how, you know, my clothes don't fit well. So I'm gonna rip the band aid off for six weeks, I'm gonna get this fat off. And then I'm gonna go back to doing me, and unfortunately, going back to doing it is what got you in a position where you're uncomfortable. So unless we change the lifelong habits, and it was funny, because I was interviewed on a podcast yesterday, and the interviewer was asking about my own routine, and how how I incorporate balance and flexibility. And I totally like, it didn't even cross my mind about all the foundational habits that are just second nature, because there's such like, it's such routine for me to get 10,000 steps a day, it's such a routine for me to drink water. It's such a routine, eat quality food, and I don't even think about it. So like my mind didn't even go there until I was like, wait a minute, I feel like I missed all of this context, that's really important. So that long term, like I have to become the person who values intentional movement, I have to become the person who prioritizes quality food, I have to become the person who cares about sleep and stress management. And it's that long term lens, that is the biggest roadblock for most people.Philip Pape:
Yeah, and it sounds like the balance is not necessarily that you've learned to balance everything per se, it's just that you've built up each habit, piece over piece over time to where it's just your routine. In fact, it's within your comfort zone, it sounds like at this point, whereas for others, it's you know, if they're starting here, they hear that you do these 20 things every day that they don't do, you don't just jump there, right? He takes small, small steps. So just in concrete terms, what are some strategies or methods people can use to put in place these habits, right, and I know there are a lot of leading theories that you hear about all the time, there's SMART goals, their self determination theory, tiny habits, nudging you name it, and it can be overwhelming. What's helpful for folks,Mike Millner:
so my, my philosophy is, every process of change has to start with awareness, awareness precedes change. And if you're not aware of the gap that exists, then it's going to be really difficult and you're going to find yourself making those mistakes, like you mentioned, trying to do everything at once, which is another one of the biggest mistakes that people make. It's the classic New Year's mindset, like well, I you know, I didn't eat well over the holidays, I gained 10 pounds, new year new me, I'm gonna change everything all at once, because we vision, this perfect version of ourselves. And that creates a dopamine response in the brain, it's really exciting to think about how fit and happy we're going to be and how lean we're going to look. And you know, the summer is going to roll around, I'm going to rock my favorite bathing suit. All these things play out in our brains and just the thought, and the visualization gives you that dopamine hit that our brains crave. And so it's really exciting to be like, alright, well here we go, I'm gonna, you know, I'm going to cut my calories, going to eat more protein, I'm going to go for walks, I'm going to lift weights, I'm going to be in the gym every day, I'm going to take my supplements, drink my water, get my sleep like all at once, but that is impossible to sustain. And so the first part of that is creating awareness around the gap that exists between where you are and where you want to be. And an easy way to do that is just think about the person that you want to become like we have that vision of the person that We want to become and that's all the The nice part about it is it's through your own personal lens. It's a vision based off your own value and you know, value system, your value hierarchy. So when you think about that person that you want to become like, what does that person do? What are their habits? How would they handle stressful situations? What is their nutrition look like? What physical appearance like? What are all these things and characteristics that exist within the person that you want to become? And now that we have that list, now we can look at what are you doing now. And now we have a clear gap between the person you want to become the person you are now, the key here is that you have to be the one to decide what's the most doable, because that's going to be different, I could take the same exact list for 10 different people and say, Hey, of this list, like what's the easiest thing for you to improve upon what's the easiest habit for you to instill. And I might get 10 different answers. For some people, it might be really overwhelming to think about getting to the gym four days a week for other people, that might be easy. For some people, it might be really difficult to think about, you know, daily walk, because they have a really sedentary job, or whatever the case may be. But for other people that might be like, hey, you know what I can, I can set an alarm and walk for 10 minutes every day, no problem. So the key is, you're the one that's choosing, which you know, maybe one two, at most three action items you want to start to instill. And then actually put it down, like, create a little commitment card for yourself, put it down on paper, grab a sticky note, put it on your computer, something that you can remind yourself of like, this is this is what a successful day looks like. For me, it's two to three things, you know, maybe it's one nutrition thing, one mindset thing and one training thing or movement thing, it's like, I'm gonna eat protein with breakfast, I'm gonna get a 10 minute walk in, and I'm going to, you know, have a moment of gratitude every single day. And those are my three things. And that's what success looks like. And that way, you're not measuring success against, did I hit my macros perfectly? Did I work out seven days this week, did I follow this, you know, supplement routine, like it's not 10 different things. It's just very basic, three things. And now you give yourself credit. When you complete those three things you follow through on your commitment card. And what that does is it solidifies the behavior because you get a dopamine response when you complete the task. And that's how we solidify new habits. And it builds self trust. And every time you follow through on those commitments that you make to yourself, you're just making little deposits into that self trust bank account. Because we're all too comfortable with breaking promises that we make to ourselves. And the more that we do it, the easier that it gets. And the less that you believe yourself when you say you're going to do something. So we've got to reverse that we have to continue to build self trust through following through on those commitments that we make depositsPhilip Pape:
in yourself Trust Bank account. I love that because you're right, a lot of times we're maybe trying to please someone else, or maybe trying to meet some standard that isn't right for us at the time. And you said that it starts with awareness, awareness precedes change. Where do you want to be? You know, Adam Borenstein, he came up with a book recently where he talks about the comfort zone and the expanded comfort zone and then the extreme comfort zone and it's like, you know, you're trying to jump over here instead of here. So a guy somebody comes in, and they they're eating 50 grams of protein, they want to eat 150 And they want to do it every day. You can't just jump to that. And you got to take the tiny step. So I think that's great, Mike, I like analogy. So you know, how we use new, we use nutritional periodization. Right? And, and that's part of a way to take stress off the body to recover to focus on extremes for a short time, like you said, with fat loss and then take a break. Is there something like that for the mind, right, like, psychological periodization model, right, where you go all out developing and growing your mental skills, then you take time to recover, take some stress off. Just curious if you've thought of it that way?Mike Millner:
Well, any any, anything that we want to improve upon it actually, the process of improvement happens through the rest and recovery period, you can't just kind of like push the gas pedal and you know, reach the finish line or acquire a new skill. So like, when you try to learn an instrument, it's very mentally tasking, taxing, you know, you're, you don't know your brain and your muscles aren't quite firing or like, this is a whole new thing. You're trying to learn how to read music, you're, there's a lot of mental energy that's being expended in that process of learning. You don't learn it, when you're sitting there playing, you actually learn it when you're sleeping, when you're recovering. When you give your brain the time to assimilate all that information that was just overloaded. And it's like, Okay, let me file this stuff away. And then we can retrieve it easier the next time. But that process takes time. So like everything, everything that we do, there needs to be a heavy dose of recovery. And it's, you know, sometimes it's a little bit intangible, because certain things can be a stressor on one individual and distressing for another individual. So, an example is if I am taking a walk, and I'm in nature I'm admiring. Oh my God, look at how beautiful the trees are. Look at the sky, this is wonderful. That's going to be very calming and soothing. It's going to put me into that rest and digest state. Another individual is walking, and they're thinking, Oh my God, I don't know if I paid this bill, oh my god, I have this deadline that's due, I have so much work on my play. Oh, what am I kids up to, I got to check in I got to do it like, that's going to be very stressful, same exact activity, just different thought process, one's going to be a stressor, one's going to be stress relief. So it's sometimes a little bit intangible but but an easy thing to consider is that any period of stress should be followed up by an equal dose, or an extra dose of recovery. And if we can at least try to process things that process things through that lens, it becomes a little bit more actionable. Because you might recognize that you need, maybe you need to journal a little bit more, do some breathing exercises, just, you know, listen to music, and unwind and do things that are good for your mental state. And again, this this applies mental physical, it doesn't matter, any skill, anything that you you know, self development, you're trying to improve physically, you're trying to improve mentally, the same principles apply across the board, you still, it's 100% imperative to have that that dose of recovery with every dose of stress, IPhilip Pape:
can really relate to this, and I know you can do is a really busy guy. And there's a lot of busy people listening here who maybe have multiple businesses, multiple things that they're doing. I don't know about you, I could just get into a zone for hours and hours and days and days, you know, trying to get stuff done. And before long, you know, the stress is gone, maybe past that point. How does somebody recognize that? And then how can they find something that works for them? If it isn't the walking like an example, you said, where they can just recognize it, and maybe block it in plan for it? How does that look?Mike Millner:
Yeah, so it's reading the symptoms and listening to you know, the inputs and outputs. And sometimes that's, that's hard if you have been accustomed to just, you know, being on overdrive all the time, which I can certainly relate to, but you start to learn through experience, you start to learn little subtleties. I know that for me, typically, to two cups of coffee in the morning. And that's my routine. I know, when I'm overly stressed, and I'm not getting enough sleep, I'm not getting enough recovery. It's just this like instinctual pull, that's like, go get a third cup, go get a third cup, and like that usually never happens. Normally, I have my two cups, I'm perfectly content, and I'm done. But for me, I know, when when that little subconscious pull is telling me like go get another cup, I know that I've been on overdrive, and there's little, you know, you'll start to notice maybe some brain fog fatigue, you might notice an impact in like sex driver, or you might be getting a little bit sick more frequently. So there's, there's always little subtleties that your body will communicate when it needs more recovery than anything else. And, you know, sometimes it can be performance in the gym strength, you notice that you just don't have it like you normally do. So all of those can be signs that something's off in terms of the recovery, you know, kind of modality that works well for you. Trial and error is the best way. So you know, come up with some different things that you think would be interesting, like, what are some activities that you love, things that are just for pure enjoyment hobbies that you might have, you know, for me, it's walking, you know, journaling, doing some, like getting in the sauna. If I'm really struggling, like I'll book a massage, you know, doing things like that, listening to music, unwinding, listening to a podcast, you know, whatever it is for you. Just play around with some different strategies and and see which one feels the best and then start to implement that more frequently. And that's, that's really trial and error is the best way. Yeah, it'sPhilip Pape:
The most value that I got from this was the fact that I had someone that I could talk to about anything, and that there was going to be no judgment, it was just Well, here are your goals, here's the best way that you're going to achieve it. And then let's work together to help you feel inspired and motivated to do that. And a lot of people out there trying to be coaches, and not all of them have done the work and also just be a genuine person that is positive and coming from the heart in terms of wanting to help and Philip really embodied all of those qualities, I would recommend him to just about anyone that's looking to achieve goals in that realm of their nutrition and building new habits.Philip Pape:
I know you've probably seen clients and I do as well, who having third party perspective with somebody who knows you or maybe somebody in your family or who loves you or whatever to help you there because I do get the sense some people get caught up in their stressful routine, where it seems like the normal and all of a sudden you have a third party who might be able to look in and say, Well, based on your biofeedback or based on your experience this week, something might be happening and we want to address that. Going back to the very original answer about having In support. So another thing that comes up and we talk about psychology of goal achievement is not only the fear of of not hitting your goals and your failure, but what about the fear of success. This comes up a lot when I talk to people who are very successful in their lives in multiple areas, maybe not in fitness, but in lots of other areas. And they're maybe afraid of what life will be like once they achieved their goal, right, like their relationships might change their self image might change, the pressure to maintain the new weight, the fear that after they lose the weight, they're still not happy. So how, how often you encounter this and what can be done about itMike Millner:
the same route, it's, it's, we don't know what what's going to happen, we start to play out these narratives and the stories that feel very real. So anytime we have like anxiety, fear, it's all future based thinking. So we think about, you know, and a lot of times, it's subconscious, if you have somebody who's been, you know, kind of, they didn't get a lot of attention, that kind of stayed under the radar. Never, ever were the center of attention or didn't get noticed that often. And then all of a sudden, they start to improve their body start to work on themselves. And then they start to get some compliments somebody else, somebody at the gym, mentioned that I'm doing a good job, somebody at the gym said, you know, oh, have you have you lost weight, like, that's weird. And it just starts to plant this little seed that then creates a story of, you know, this, this is this is scary, because we've never been here before, we don't know what's going to happen, like, we've never been that person to get noticed, we've never been that person to get attention. So it's the fear of the unknown what's going to happen, if this continues, if I start getting more attention if I start, right, and it's just your, your brain is really smart, and really only cares about survival. And so things that were unknown and unpredictable from from an evolutionary standpoint, were a threat to our survival. Like if you know, when we were hunter gatherers, if I if I knew, you know, there was a saber toothed tiger that always hung out at this particular watering hole, like I could stay away from that place and increase my odds of survival. So predictability is a strong desire for your brain. So anything that's uncertain, anything that's new, that's why it's often met with this first initial dose of fear and anxiety. And sometimes we sabotage and pull ourselves back into a known predictable situation. One of my favorite quotes is from Virginia Satir. And she says, most prefer the certainty of misery to the misery of uncertainty. And, you know, it's the reason why some people will stay in a toxic relationship, because I would rather the known comfortable, certain misery than, than to leave and go into this place of unpredictability. So it's the devil, you know. And that's really where it comes from fear of success. It's a similar kind of mental trick that your brain plays on you. Now, fortunately, we've evolved and we've expanded, you know, we have this thing called the prefrontal cortex, which allows us to think long term, think about delayed gratification, think about what we truly want, and, and our desires and our dreams, and we get to think about the future. And we're no longer just this like, kind of primitive, you know, lizard brain creature, we actually have the ability to pause and plan and make long term decisions, although there's kind of this battle going on, because we still have that DNA, that hardwiring, that tells us to survive in the moment. But we also have this brain that has evolved to think long term. So sometimes those can be competing. So it's like, Who do I listen to? I listen to the survival based brain or the long term, you know, the the long term delayed gratification brain. And that's where being able to sit with those those feelings and those fears and emotions, and really ask yourself difficult and uncomfortable questions like, what does happen if I continue to get more compliments? What does happen if I continue to get noticed? What what does happen if I become this new person who does stand out in a crowd? Because they have more muscle or they're leaner or whatever? What does that mean? What is the story that I'm telling myself around this? And what is it that I truly want? What is it that what are my highest priorities? What do I value? What do I really want out of this journey, and then hopefully, we can make a decision that's more in alignment with that outcome that we desire versus just a reactive self sabotaging pattern, because we let that survival based brain win and tell us that, you know, it's, it's scary, it's unpredictable, it's uncertain. So it's, it all dials back, or it all circles back to kind of that same root cause of fear of the unknown.Philip Pape:
It's an interesting concept, because change is always going to be there. Like we're always going to be improving, always growing and always changing. And I know for my clients, we get to the point where they've embodied that identity of an athlete, because that's the language that I like to use, like, we're trying to be an athlete, and they still want to accept it sometimes. Hey, you are and that's why people are complimenting you, and you've done the hard work. And, yeah, it's easy to eat food now because you're not, you know, caught up in in the short term. So it is it is important, and I like that you brought it back to psychology and the brain and like we have control over this stuff. We just have to sit with them and think about them. So Another aspect of psychology that comes up a lot is framing, right language and framing, like the the, the phrase falling off the wagon, right getting off track, you know, the all or nothing. Or even what I hear all the time, especially with with earlier client, newer clients is like I can't do this or I had to do this like these out of control, framing versus something that you chose to do. And then self labeling, which we've already covered a little bit. So what are your principles on language, internal dialogue, framing that can help people? Yeah,Mike Millner:
it's always again, going back to awareness. Mental reframing is probably the most powerful might be the single most powerful tool that we have in the toolbox that everybody has the ability to use at any moment. And it can literally change your whole life in a very short period of time. And what reframing is, is just changing the lens through which you view the situation or changing the narrative that you have around the situation, I think, so often, we get caught up in believing every thought that we have, as fact, we have 10s of 1000s of thoughts every single day. So it's unreasonable to think that they're all based in truth, and in fact, most of them are not. And the other problem that we often run into is that we, we use emotions as reasons to react or act immediately, instead of sitting with those uncomfortable emotions. And I say uncomfortable, in particular can be any emotion, but a lot of times we look at emotions as Okay, I have to immediately respond to this because I feel something so let me do something about it. Instead of sitting, and just processing and, and like kind of being the detective. What is this trying to tell me? And what's the story that I really want to create. So the the mental reframe is where you don't believe all of your thoughts is fact. So when you do have a thought, and you do catch yourself saying, you know, I, I can't be consistent, or I'm a people pleaser, or labeling or however you're trying to frame a specific situation. It's first awareness and being able to shine a flashlight on that. Now, again, coming back to kind of a recurring theme here, it really helps to have somebody who's an objective kind of perspective on the way that you're communicating with yourself. Because if you're not aware of it, we need to go from that unconscious belief to bringing that to the forefront and showing you like, Hey, this is what you said about yourself now like, let's, let's digest it real quick and break this down. So having somebody to help you through that process. But once you're aware, and you start to catch yourself in those moments of labeling and saying I am a people pleaser, I can't do XYZ, it's catching, having that red flag, like anytime I hear the word can't, it's going to trigger it's going to be a trigger word for me. And I'm going to explore it like why did I just say I can't do let me let me reframe it in a way that's more productive. So the reframe is, let me just shift the lens through which I see this situation. I'm not a people pleaser, I have the tendency to people please. And I'm actively working on it like what a better frame. So more more productive, more effective. And then. So those are the things like you can you can change the frame on any situation. I've I've listened to therapists, some of them who I've, who I know personally, some of them who have just listened through courses, and through lectures and podcast, talk about helping people overcome serious trauma addiction, you know, toxic relationships, things that you would think typically would take years and years and years of work. And I've listened to them talk about a mental reframe that completely pulled them out of that situation, and in as little as minutes. And I know that can seem extreme. But that's the power of being able to reframe certain situations and perspectives to better suit the narrative that you that best serves you. Yeah,Philip Pape:
I think it is a powerful tool. You're right. And having I think part of the way I use it with clients, I learned from you having listened to your your podcasts as well that you hear it all the time, when there's any sort of quote unquote, failure, right? When you fail to miss some target or do something that you intended to do. And all of a sudden, I couldn't do that, or I'm not able to do this or I am this and reframing it, like you said, I have a tendency to, or simply saying that I choose to do this because right I choose to do this, because can be very powerful. What's it going to say about that? Oh, and the other thing that comes to mind is relationships, right? Like, if, if I told my wife some of the things I tell myself in my brain, I wouldn't I wouldn't actually want to say and I wonder, you know, we were toughest on ourselves. Sometimes we show ourselves the least love sometimes. And kind of thinking of that context of would you tell your spouse or someone that they are this or do this all the time? And how would that make them feel kind of putting it back on you? It just a thought that came to mind? Another aspect of that is gratitude. Mike like is that part of this where expressing gratitude either to yourself or others can come into play here? Yeah,Mike Millner:
I think of course, you know, we want to be kind to ourselves and there's a lot The things to be grateful for. And I think sometimes we lose sight of that. It's again, it's a, it's a reframe, you know, I think a lot of times we look at it again, this is this is another kind of cognitive distortion that we all have, that we're all born with, that we can't get rid of negative thoughts are more powerful than positive thoughts. And again, this is a survival based mechanism. So instead of being like, Oh, my brains broke, my brain is broken, I always focus on the negative is to keep you alive. And so we remember negative things more because of survival. So, and I've heard statistics that it can be up to seven times more powerful. So if you hear, you know, six positive things, and one negative thing like that kind of balances out, you might focus more on that one single negative thing than the six positive things that happen. But you know, it's one of those things you have to actively work on. Understanding that it is a cognitive bias, it is a cognitive distortion. And I can actively work on focusing on things that I'm grateful for. So even in the moments where it feels like how you know what like this this day is just like, it's not going my way. There's probably things in that moment that you can can reframe. Now, with a caveat of trying to immediately like change a negative situation into a positive can actually be a negative, instead of just letting yourself feel that, like, you know, what, yeah, this day does suck. And that's okay. Like, I'm allowed to feel, I'm allowed to feel sad, I'm allowed to feel down about this day, I'm allowed to feel frustrated, and giving yourself permission, I think sometimes, we immediately tried to, like, get out of it, we're like, oh, no, I don't want to, I don't want to feel sad, let me like fix it arbitrarily. And like your brain is like, we're not going there. And then you have this kind of internal battle, instead of just letting yourself feel the feelings and letting it pass, like, treating the, like, your feelings are all transient, they're gonna pass, they're gonna go away, they're gonna, you know, it's like the clouds, let's just, let's just watch them float on by. And that's like one of the most effective things you can do. And then when you are feeling a little bit better, maybe then is a good time to bring yourself to a place of gratitude.Philip Pape:
And your emotions are like clouds floating by a river flowing by I've heard that analogy. And it's true, because it's okay to feel disappointment, right? You want to be disappointed in the moment, that's okay. And let it and let it sit. Because that also might drive you later on. I know, for many, many times personal experience, I can look back and say, I don't really want to feel that way in the future when that happens. So now I'm going to choose to do something different. And that's an important way to let that fuel you. So earlier, you talked about short term versus long term, right? Short term being something like a specific phase, let's say a fat loss phase. How do we balance celebrating, like the mission accomplished and the when, you know, even if it took us three months, and now we have that win from the lifelong endeavor, the principles and practices behind it being sustainable, like how do you balance those two things?Mike Millner:
Yeah. So ideally, we would be more focused on the process based wins and not the outcome based wins. Because the outcome based wins are largely out of your control. When it happens. Sure, celebrate, by all means, like, if we if we reward ourselves and we, and we celebrate, you know, I follow through on these three commitments today. And then, you know, I was at the gym, and I hit a PR amazing, like, let's, let's celebrate the process based goals along the way, but then you're gonna wake up and you're gonna be like, Oh, my God, I don't even notice I'm actually down 10 pounds, I hit my 10 pound, like, Great, let's celebrate that. But let's not make that the target of like, hey, when we get to this 10 pound, like, let's, let's run to this checkpoint, so that we can celebrate, what we really should be focusing on short term is process based goals. And if we can do that, the outcome will happen as a byproduct. But you can't like when the outcome happens, how long it takes to get there, the exact number like a lot of that's largely out of our control. So let's let's focus on the things that we can control. And, you know, i Another concept that I talked about frequently is, you know, celebrating like neutral days, like we always celebrate the big milestones, but we, we celebrate when somebody loses 100 pounds, it's just amazing, like, what an achievement, but we don't ever celebrate the person that didn't gain 100 pounds to begin with, that they had to lose. And it was like, when neutral things happen. And it was just, you know, I just maintained and I just, there's nothing sexy about that. There's nothing flashy about that. But like, why don't we celebrate that? Why don't we celebrate the neutral days where, hey, we didn't I didn't blow myself up today. I didn't, you know, go off the rails today. That's a win. And even no matter what that looks like, even it was just like, you know, I did the bare minimum. I just had protein with breakfast, and then I didn't really eat much protein after that. And I I got a five minute walk in, but I couldn't get to the gym today. All right, that's a win, you know, horrible. It's not a 00 something. But so I find that celebrating neutral days and celebrating when bad things don't happen is really important and like focusing on the process more than the outcome. Yeah, that'sPhilip Pape:
really important. I mean, you think of clients who check in and everything was fine. and nothing has to change. Like, how do I? How do I keep motivating this client and part of is just celebrate the fact that all the things you worked at this point have continued? You know, that's a good thing. And then as far as the process based wins, you know, I've heard this a lot. And people people ask, well, how exactly do I do that? One thing you've already mentioned today is if, if you if you only focus on two or three things, or even one thing that you're trying to improve, the win from that is, is the process, right? It is ingraining in yourself this routine and discipline from that process for the process based win. So just throwing that out there. Curious, very specific thing here. I know you work with a lot of clients who want to lose fat. And I don't know how many people you work with, who are built on the other side who are regaining and building muscle in a calorie surplus. But they also face certain psychological limitations that are not symmetric. Let's say there's like different things that they have to focus on. What what are you what's your experience on that side of the journey?Mike Millner:
Probably the hardest year of my life was where I decided to actively build muscle for a year, I was like 12 months, I'm going to have, I'm going to follow up, my coach says, and I'm going to because my my pattern up until that point was like, You know what, I really want to build some muscle. So I would start to increase my calories, I would start to see the scale go up. And I'd be like, Oh, that that's uncomfortable. Let me just cut my calories again. And a lot of people fall into that pattern. Yeah, because you know, you don't, it's scary, you're like, Oh, am I going to gain a bunch of fat, like, I really want to build muscle, I don't want to get heavier, I don't want to go back. Like we all have that. That panic number that we see on the scale. And so I think that mentally, it can be more challenging to really commit to a building phase where you're, you're, you're feeling a little bit fluffy, you're seeing the scale go up, it's you know, you're eating more food than you thought you had to it's, it's not easy, it was the most difficult and probably the most rewarding here, because it helped me in so many ways with more flexibility, because I had more muscle, I could eat more freely because I had more muscle, I looked better at a higher weight, like there are so many things that were just really rewarding. But the process of building muscle is slower than the process of losing fat. And fat loss can be a slow process, depending on you know what type of approach you're taking. Building muscle is even slower. So you're looking for like really small, incremental improvements. And it's almost one of those things where again, we kind of have to do like a little sleight of hand trick like, Hey, look over here at how much strength you're building in the gym. This workout instead of like, really dialing in on on metrics and body composition. Because that process, we really have to look at that over months, and then be like, Hey, look at this difference in muscle definition and look at how much you know more filled out your chest, your arms, whatever it may be. So yeah, it can be it can be mentally, very difficult. And I think that again, have a support system have a coach to take some of that burden off of you. Yeah,Philip Pape:
yeah, totally agree. And you may not even notice some of the muscle definition for a while as the fat is building. And that adds to the challenge. But you're right, focusing on other things, sleight of hand sort of. There are many, many metrics. It's kind of like the non-skilled metrics during fat loss. And there's also non, you know, let's say body comp or physique metrics while you're gaining this weight. All right, I'm curious about this. If you had never become a nutrition coach and got into this space, what would you be doing instead?Mike Millner:
That's a great question. Well, considering I tried a number of different things, and none of it stuck, like I never imagined that I would be a nutrition coach, I never imagined that I'd be doing what I do. So I bounced around from like, I did, I bartended. For like, 10 years, I tried HR, I was in sales for a little bit. And then I started a company that was kind of like a, an internet company that was based around the same concept of like Groupon. But I did like a local version of that, like, I tried everything. And it was not until I found my passion that I you know, was like, kind of just by dumb luck that I that I landed in a role as a personal trainer, and then found my passion and nutrition and then did that. So if I had to like start all over again, I think what I would do is I would probably get a law degree, which my grandfather, who I named my company after, begged me to get a law degree and I was just done with school. At that point. I did not want to do any more after college after I graduated. I was like, I've done enough schooling. So I'm out on that. But I probably have gotten my law degree and maybe go into something in like the, I don't know, I love sports. So I like what want to connect the dots there maybe go into like, you know, I don't know, an agent or something for something that I could use my legal background in the sports world and marry those two and do something along those lines by for sure.Philip Pape:
And a lot of these sites The logical skills you've learned seemed like they would fit right in there. That's pretty cool. So I like to ask this question of all guests, Mike. And that is, is there a question you wish I had asked? And what is your answer? Oh, IMike Millner:
think you covered it all. There's nothing that that stands out to me about any kind of missing question. Normally, if there's something I'm like, Oh, we could have gone in this direction then I'd I'd bring it up. But I feel like you kind of nailed everything that was on my mind today.Philip Pape:
Cool. So it was a solid interview with with with an amazing guests. I want listeners to know where they can learn more about you and your work.Mike Millner:
Yeah. So best place to listen to me is on the mind over macros podcast. So anywhere that you listen, you can just search mind over macros. You can find me there. If you ever have questions or need anything I do personally respond to all of my Instagram DMS. And it's not where I say that I respond, and then it's somebody else. It's actually me. So if you message me on Instagram, it's at coach underscore Mike underscore Milner. Nothing is off limits. I'll send voice memos. Sometimes people ask me, like, you know, hey, if you were my coach, what would you do? And I'm like, Well, you could either hire me or you could take this feedback and run with it. And so I answer everything. And I try to provide as much context as possible for any questions. So those are the best two places.Philip Pape:
Cool. So I'll add your IG to the show notes. Mike is a super accessible responsive guy, like he said, very friendly guy. And his podcast mind over macros actually has two types of episodes. Now one focus on kind of the nutrition coaching, training and all of that, and then the other more for coaches in the space, but whoever you are, they're both fascinating, and you're gonna learn a ton, so definitely follow mine over macros. Mike, thank you so much for coming on the show. It was a pleasure. Thanks for having me. Thank you for tuning in to another episode of Wits & Weights. If you found value in today's episode, and know someone else who's looking to level up their Wits & Weights, please take a moment to share this episode with them. And make sure to hit the Follow button in your podcast platform right now to catch the next episode. Until then, stay strong.