Helping You With Sugar Addiction And Stress Eating

Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Hello my friends, hello my life warriors wherever you are in the world. Welcome to the Day In Day Out podcast. This is episode – I can’t even believe it – 100. When I had the immense pleasure to have on Dan DeFigio. Basically he is a nutritional expert who has appeared on CNN’s Fit Nation, The Dr. Phil show, and also he is the author of – let me see – “Beating Sugar Addiction For Dummies”. I’ve got to say it was a very interesting conversation. We talked about a whole host of things about sugar addiction, how you can replace one thing for the other. And some of the best strategies to take on. He’s a very interesting chap. And he’s got a great history. So please sit back. Enjoy the show. And have an excellent day. Hey, hello my friends, Hello my life warriors, wherever you are in the world, welcome to the Day In Day Out podcast. Whoop! Today on the podcast, I have Dan DeFigio. He is an author of many of books on health and fitness and Beating Sugar Addiction For Dummies, Healthy Breakfasts in 10 Minutes Or Less!, as well as a number of other publications. He has also been in the fitness and nutrition game for over 27 years. My God! How are you today, sir?


Dan DeFigio:            I am having a great day. Thank you so much for asking me to come on your show. I hope you’re having a great day too.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      I was running earlier today. I did but it was a slow 10 miles. But yeah, it was like the second day, I’m preparing for the Paris marathon was meant to be doing it this year. But there was a small thing, which is kind of ongoing right now, which I put the delay on that.


Dan DeFigio:            Yeah, a little issue going on in the world right now.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Just a smidge. Just a smidge. So yes. 2021. I’m getting prepared for at this present time to get things sorted, as they say. And now you guys, you must have been having – How can I say – your country is going through a stressful week at this present time?


Dan DeFigio:            Yeah, if you are listening to this archived right now we are in November of 2020. I’m in the United States. We are having a difficult presidential election season right now. Things are a little bit hard in the United States. In a nutshell, there’s a culture war going on right now. It’s bigger than who is the president. So, I know that was not supposed to be the topic of our discussion today, but is happening right now. Probably when people are listening to this, it’s probably going to be over. So probably not relevant at this to the listener.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Well, but this way, I think it’s gonna be all relevant along the lines, because I think there’s a lot of people I’m not… I don’t regard whoever wins, I think there’s gonna still be a lot of issues which needs to be resolved, which I don’t think people are actually looking to do at this present time in a very weird way, they are. (Laugh). But I’ve got to say, yeah, being in the sort of health and nutrition game for the last 27 years, you have mostly seen quite a lot of changes the whole sort of spectrum of it, because I remember, was it Oprah Winfrey? It was Oprah Winfrey. She had this sort of diet competition between two cities back in the 90s. And like, it was a yes. Where was I yes, diet, it was like, sort of crushed dieting to get the best results. And which, if you look at that today, you’re like, Are you crazy? Are you mad? Like, what sort of changes? Have you sort of seen in regards to the realm of nutrition? Or is it just being like, this is where it’s always been. And I’ve always known that.


Dan DeFigio:            Well, it hasn’t really always been. I think wellness and nutrition are constantly evolving sciences. The more we study, the more we learn. Fads that come and go. Like when I first started in the 1990s, when I first started helping people, it was a big, low fat craze. And everything was low fat, even cookies, right?


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Yeah,


Dan DeFigio:            Everything was low fat, and then we learned over time, that the problem with low fat is when you take away the fat, you have to replace it with something to make it taste decent or give it a particular feel in the mouth so that it’s a pleasant experience. And so people started adding a lot of sugar and chemicals and things like that to these fat free foods. And as we watched the obesity rates begin to climb. Even though people were eating less fat, we started to learn eating fat is not really the problem here. So that was one big fad. There are a lot of exercise fads that come and go over time. I think exercise in general is a little more steady. When it comes to sort of understand how human physiology works, when it comes to physical conditioning, and getting stronger, and losing weight, losing body fat. So exercise trends come and go. But the basics for those of us who are sort of in the field have stayed pretty much the same. We learn a lot more about like, rehabilitation, for example. 25 years ago, if you had a knee replacement, they would put you in a in a cast from your ankle all the way up to your hip, and you’d be not bending, you’d be on crutches and you would not be bending your knee for six weeks, until the cast came off. And now we’ve realized that is not a very effective way for someone to recover from something like that. Nowadays, if you get a get a hip replacement, or a knee replacement, you’re pretty much walking on it that day, or the next day at the very latest. So those types of things change and have improved over time. But the actual concept of like, how do you get in shape? Right? What types of exercise do you do? Using strength training to give you metabolic boost and burn more calories as opposed to just doing steady state cardio? No, those types of things are pretty consistent over the decades, I daresay we have a pretty good handle on how that works from a human physiology standpoint. And of course, I probably shot myself in the foot by saying that because there will undoubtedly be some Earth shaking revelation that that is uncovered in the near future, just because I said, “I think we’ve got this down.”


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Yeah, no, like, this is the thing. I’m sure there’ll be something like, well, but this, this method has come up and this is how we change this now. But right now, like is that what you’re saying? Is what you believe is the state of play at this present time?


Dan DeFigio:            Doing the air quotes. Yeah.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      But yeah, I remember like a few years ago, like when they first started doing the biggest loser, like I used to love that shows. And like, basically, I used to think it was the sort of gospel of gospels of like, yeah, like fitness, training everything like this. And then you kind of saw the results. Not when people actually finished the competition. It was like later in life when people were like, okay, I was like, what went wrong? Damn, how come things just, they weren’t super thin, super skinny, and like, “super fit” to like, back to what they were or sometimes even worse. And that’s sort of like mismanagement was amazing to me.


Dan DeFigio:            Well, meanwhile, I think you are exactly right, at how you have described that. And the big problem with that, is that drastic, doesn’t lead to permanent change. The reason that people become overweight, is because what they do most of the time, gets them there. So if you want to change what you’re getting, you have to change what you usually do. And sure, you can go through this crazy intense process like they do on those television shows for four months, you just drive yourself into the ground with ridiculous amounts of exercise and super strict diets and all that kind of stuff. And sure your body will respond to that you will lose weight and you will get in better shape if you do that to yourself. But the end result is if you don’t change what you usually do, then you’re not going to keep the results and so my big approach as a coach is, we have to make what is normal for you better, as opposed to Alright, let’s get crazy and focused for you know, however long. If there’s a basic, here’s a good way to say it. If there’s an end date, it’s not a sustainable plan, and it’s probably not going to last. Does that make sense?


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Yes, no, basically, what, in my mind when you say if there’s an end date at the finish line, and when you’ve crossed that finish line, that’s the whole that’s the end of that process. And welcome back to old habits. Welcome back to the things which we’re bringing you down in the first place. Coming back slowly into your life.


Dan DeFigio:            Yeah, exactly. Sometimes not slowly, sometimes, people throw that off and on switch, immediately. And that’s one of the big things I try to keep people away from, when I’m coaching them. One of the big things I have like all over my website and all my articles and my how to videos and stuff like that, a big part of my message is that you’ve got to in order to have long term success, you’ve got to get away from this all or nothing thinking people get in so much trouble and it causes them so much despair and frustration and, and roller coaster in their life. Because in the fitness and nutrition world, for example, people say, “Oh, I feel terrible in gaining weight, I’m not in good shape, and I’ve got to do something about this.” And so they go on some kind of a plan, right? They decide All right, New Year’s is a great time for people to do this to write New Year’s resolutions. Here we go, I’m gonna go from never working out, I’m going to start working out five days a week, I’m gonna get up every morning, I’m going to go jogging, I’m going to give up desserts, I’m going to give up wine, I’m never going to have cookies, again. You know, they get this long list of intentions. And sure all that stuff would be good for you if you did it. But nobody can make all of those drastic changes at once and stick to it. So, they try all this. It’s way too much. So they can’t keep it going. And then, anytime, like one thing falls away – Let’s say we go with a dessert thing – Someone said, “I give up desserts.” It’s a blanket statement, right? It’s all or nothing and they’re telling themselves in their head, “I am never going to have dessert again.” And so maybe they do that for four weeks, five weeks, six weeks, three months, who knows. But eventually, either the willpower gives out or you’re in a situation where oh, yeah, you have a little bit of dessert sometime at a different event. Well, then the all or nothing thinking tells you “Well, I said I was never going to do this. And I did it. So therefore I am off the plan.” Then they just swing that pendulum all the way back to all the bad destructive habits. It’s sort of like, well, I’m no longer ‘on a diet’ or ‘on a plan’, or I’m no longer ‘off sugar’ or whatever the phrases, and you just drop everything go back to what they used to do. So they had success for a few weeks or a few months. And then one thing, you know, one decision happens that they don’t like and then that switch in their brain is like, “Well, you failed, you have to start all over.” So they go through this period of bingeing or people use the term went off the rails or fell off the wagon, or, you know, the wheels came off any of those kinds of analogies. I hear those like those phrases every day with folks, and I get it, I totally get it. And it’s heartbreaking to me to hear the same stories over and over from, you know, hundreds and 1000s of people over the years about how they struggle with this on again, off again, stuff this pendulum right the all or nothing pendulum. It’s killing people physically and psychologically. So if you take away anything from any message that I’m putting out during this show today, write this down, you know, stay away from the all or nothing thinking. Try to make a little you know, a little improvement most of the time or half of the time. Right. What’s your favorite junk food that you that you know is no good for you? I like ice cream. That’s my favorite.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      But at this moment in time, there’s we’ve got a shop over here in the UK called Marks and Spencer Are these like it? You can say, it’s like it’s a cronut. It’s like a cronut. But they can’t call it a cronut because copyright issues and that covered with ice in Yes, I can consume three of those in a day quite happily with a smile on my face looking myself in the mirror. I’m like, Oh, I don’t feel guilty about this at all. Oh yeah.


Dan DeFigio:            So if you were a client, and you’re clearly not because you’re in great shape and you keep yourself, you know, your lifestyle is all top notch and you are a role model for everybody. So, I’m just saying if you were, if you were a person who came to me and said, “Boy, I go through these binges of these,” what did you call it? It’s not a cronut. It’s what the name of it is?


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      I’m gonna call it a cronut. For like, because I can’t remember what they exactly call it by. But yes,


Dan DeFigio:            Well, let’s call it for the purposes of this discussion. We shall call it a crow nut. So if that is sort of your big trigger your temptation, right? Yeah. And you came to me and you said, “You got to help me kick this cronut habit.” Damn, I can’t, you know, I’m just killing myself with this. I keep trying to… Here’s the phrase people use, I keep trying to be good. I’ll be good for a while and then something happens, life happens. And then I fall off the wagon. And I’m just, you know, back to bingeing again. So that my friend, right there is the perfect description, like the stereotypical description of the all or nothing fad, right, I’m either being good or I’m being bad, the food is good, or the food is bad. I’m either on a no crawler, or a no cronut plan, or I am not on a note, cronut plan. It’s like, it’s either or. And we cannot live that way. Because it will just drive you drive you mad. So what I would do as a solution would be to talk about, for starters, if eating too many chrome nuts is the biggest problem, and we need to modify that behavior. I’ll start to look at number one, the frequency and the amount of the crow nuts, right, you mentioned just a moment ago, you said, “I can put down three of those, you know, in a day.” Maybe we start with that, let’s say, instead of three cronuts, you know, if you really start to pay attention to how it tastes, how it feels in your mouth, how awesome it is to give yourself a treat like that. And you pay attention while you eat it. This is all called mindful eating. And I’m sure your listeners all know all about this, because it’s a pretty popular concept. But if you pay attention to the pleasure and the experience of what is happening, then you’re going to get a lot out of it. And you probably won’t want to eat three cronuts, you know, you have a few bites, or maybe even you eat the whole one. But not three, right? You don’t need three if you’re paying attention. And what you really want is either the sweet taste or with the idea that I’m giving myself this great treat. So an entire stack of cronuts is not required to give yourself that, right. So if you eat one cronut, instead of three, you have already cut your cronut intake by two thirds, and you don’t have to give them up. So that would be an example of like a good first step of modifying behavior in a way that is improving what you’re doing. It’s better for you it’s healthy, right? We can all agree that one cronut is better for you than three cronut we all on the same page there. We can agree with that.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Yes. Like my brain is listening to you and agreeing with you. Yes. When it’s by like, yeah, my brains like yeah.


Dan DeFigio:            So that’s just one example of an easy behavior modification to improve what you’re doing without feeling like you’re depriving yourself or like, you have to give up something or quit something. You know, I just, I just had a call with a client this week, and it was a kind of a similar situation, you know, thing his thing was biscuits during television commercials. And so what I had him do was make a list of three or four things that he liked to do that weren’t food. Right, simple things like you know, he says, my legs are always tight. So we talked about stretching his legs, for example. Things like that writing. He’s a writer. So taking a television commercial time, you know, two minutes and writing something on a piece of paper. Instead of you know, going Making the habit of going into the, into the pantry and getting his box of biscuits, you know. So what he really it turns out when we got into talking about this, what he really wanted was some kind of a diversion during the television commercial, and he had just built this association of, okay, it’s commercial time, that means I go eat cookies.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Yeah. So basically fill in that sort of void of, like, sort of downtime


Dan DeFigio:            With something else. And so you have a little list of three or four things. And that way, when the television commercial comes on, you say, all right, I have two or three minutes, what am I going to do right now? Maybe you pick the cookie, but at least you do it on purpose. Yeah. And it’s not unconscious, and habitual. So if I give somebody a toolbox of, we come up together with a toolbox of three or four techniques, of diversions or ways that things that they can do during the commercial time. Once again, when we look at the math, right, if you pay if you have four things on your list, and one of them is cookies, and you only do it once every four times, you’ve already cut your cookie intake by 75%.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Very nice.


Dan DeFigio:            And if you do that over the course of five years, that’s a big difference. That’s a big improvement. I think we would all do well to cut our junk food intake by 75%. Over the course of five years.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      No, Indeed, indeed. I’m liking this guy, basically, helping people with like, get the tools they need to basically break their habits, that loop we automatically go on. And, uh, yeah, it’s one of those. It’s the toughest things, especially these days with some of the foods you get, because they are ever so good, ever so enticing for many a person. And yeah, going down that rabbit hole, I have to ask. So what made you like decide to come up with the book be in sugar addiction for Dummies.


Dan DeFigio:            When I first started doing nutrition coaching, in the early 1990s, it became clear to me very quickly, that sugar addiction and stress eating were real problems for a lot of people. So I started to put together you know, some little programs for how to teach people to eat less sugar, making smarter substitutions and these types of behavior modifications and things like that. I started learning, I did a lot of my own personal work around awareness and behavior modification and those types of things. So that translates very easily into helping people with stress eating, you know, that type of reaction. So, I write a lot. And so my articles have been out, you know, all over the web, and magazines and things like that over time. And I was fortunate enough that the people who published the dummies books just called me up one day, and they said, “Hey, we like your stuff. And we want you to write a book for us.” And so we batted around a couple ideas, and beating sugar addiction for dummies was born.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Wow, how long did it take you to like, do the book like well produce the book?


Dan DeFigio:            I probably spent about nine months with writing very consistently, and in a short period of time with you know, some edits and batting some stuff back and forth with the editor. So it was about one year from concept to on the shelf. I think


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      that is that is Swift. Because I like it’s not the swift ever heard of someone coming out with a book but no, but yeah, it is quite Swift, very swift. In fact,


Dan DeFigio:            I was fortunate that you know, the dummies brand, that company who publishes that that company is called Wiley. It’s a machine, they put a lot of books out. So it was very clear right away that they had exactly, you know, the schedule and the way that we are going to do this. And so they really helped me put out a quality piece. As my first that was probably the first book that I had published now that I think about it. So my first work. I had the luxury of having a great editorial team and some very good guidance to fit, you know, in their system because they published 1000s of books, so it’s not like they don’t know how To do this, so I had their guidance. That’s probably why it was such a smooth process from start to finish.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Yeah. Because yes, I remember, back in the day in the 90s, it was mostly for IT books. They started, it seemed like they started out for her. And then it’s like everywhere, like mocking shit like beating sugar they’re like literally everything you can imagine there they’re doing the dummies books. And with that, what do you like? What was something you like found that surprised you about doing the whole book writing process?


Dan DeFigio:            Well! Writing books is easy, selling books, is much harder. There is a lot I think folks are just inundated with information and options when it comes to health and self-care and weight loss. I mean, there are like has 5000 new books uploaded every day. Example. So there’s just so many options for people to dive into as far as different ideas and weight loss programs and philosophies. There’s books, there’s podcasts, there’s television shows, there’s online programs, there’s, you know, workshops, they can go to or retreats that they can go away to I mean, there’s just unthinkable numbers of things that may help them. I think one of the challenges, is trying to cut through all that noise. And help people see that behavior is really about how you think. And that sounds very simple on the surface. But I think people tend to approach weight loss and health with more like, Okay, I need a plan. Well, you probably don’t need a plan, because there are millions and millions literally of plans that are available for free on the internet, right? And what happens with plans is people it’s just like that all or nothing thing we talked about a few minutes ago, people say, Okay, I’m on a plan, and then they get on a plan. And it may be a good plan, maybe it’s not a good plan, it doesn’t matter. They’re on the plan until they do something that is off the plan. And then their brain says okay, you’re off the plan. And they just go back to what they used to do until it is time to get a new plan. Cycle of frustration and failure just and shame. After that, that is one thing that surprises me is I think I was surprised to learn over time. How embarrassed and ashamed people are to continue this failure cycle. That comes up a lot when I’m talking with folks. And that was a surprise. But now I understand it, I think until they learn differently. A lot of folks default in their mind is like, “Whoa, something’s wrong with me. Why can’t I do this? I know what I’m supposed to do. I just can’t do it. What’s wrong with me?”


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Yeah. I also think when people come up with these plans, they make them unnecessarily complicated. Like the whole thing is, it’s like, when, for example, if I’m going for a run, like I know, My shoes are at the door, I put my like tracksuit bottoms, just in the front rooms. I’m not disturbing my lady. And like, you know, I mean, my hoodie. I’m like, I’ve got slept in that hoodie, to go out running. So I can just put everything on. And I go, but like, I’ve seen with many people who try to do something like this, they’ll be like, Okay, I’ve got this over here and that over there, and it’s over here. And they put so much friction in the whole process. It’s going to doom them for failure for one day. Or it’s like, I can’t be bothered with this anymore. It’s too hard rather than make it as simple as possible.


Dan DeFigio:            Yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head with that, you know, do I want to go out for a walk or run? Well, let’s see. I have to make sure I have the right shoes and the right shorts and what’s the weather gonna be like and Do I have time and you know, there’s so many things that you can think about or try to plan too much in advance. Yeah, I like what you said, just get out the door, throw some shoes on and go see what happens. But going back to the on a plan or off a plan thing. When it became clear, the thing that was surprising to me was how difficult it is for folks to recognize how they are behaving, because of how they are thinking. When it comes to losing weight, as I said before, people think I just need a plan. But no, you don’t really need a plan, because I don’t have to teach anybody that a mixed green salad is better for you than a doughnut. Right? Everybody knows what healthy food is. And, but they’re not doing it, they’re not eating it, right? They’re making different choices. So where the coaching piece comes in, is not telling people what they should eat. Because they know that more or less, you know, I mean, we can work on dialing in some stuff. But that’s not really the problem. What the problem is, is that an individual’s behavior is driven so much by these unconscious habits and these unconscious cues. And until you learn how to recognize what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it. All you have to go on is trying to have a plan and using willpower to stick to it until you can’t anymore. And then you go back to what you used to do. So it’s really important to dive into the whys. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Everybody knows what they should be doing more or less? Does that make sense?


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Yes, basically, with the wise, like, it’s about trying to find that sort of internal trigger, I would imagine, for that behavior to happen. Or if it’s a case of where if your writer friend, like with regards to, sorry, your client, right, the client with regards to the TV commercial coming on, you would like go get a cookie, or get something sweet to eat. And they’re like, reason why it might be just down to downtime, it might just be something he does to like he might because he’s dead by himself to comfort himself or just Spinks or TV commercial time for a treat, could be up on something completely. Maybe something completely deeper. I don’t know,


Dan DeFigio:            I am really glad that you mentioned that. Because there are three particular buckets of behavior that get people in trouble with stress eating, and sugar addiction. So I know I told folks to write down the stay away from all or nothing thinking that’s the number one note, here number two note, here are the three buckets.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Okay?


Dan DeFigio:            If somebody has a habit or behavior. Common thing is number one, it is simply that just a habit. It’s an association. And a good example, is what we just talked about, with the guy who was like, every time there’s a commercial, I go grab something. Yeah. And it’s really more that he just taught himself over time that commercial break equals snack, hmm. And you just do that over and over and over until your brain says that’s how life works. So it could be just a simple unconscious habit that we have developed over time. And then it’s time to, you know, do something different at that at that moment. That’s the easy one. Unfortunately, the other two get a little more complicated. The second bucket is using food, or other substances, like alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, whatever your thing is, and it’s all the same, using it as a substitute for what you really want. And a real common example of this is basic stress eating. If somebody let’s say, for example, you work in an office, and you’re stressed out, you’re overwhelmed, you’re busy, your boss is breathing down your neck, you’re having a terrible time, you’re all stressed out. And so you reach for the box of cookies. This is a habit that people do. It’s very, very common. And in order to get around that behavior, you have to understand why you’re doing that. And in this case, you know, we might talk a little bit and discover that the overwhelmed stressed out person what they really want in that moment, is some kind of a sense of calm, or peacefulness or being in control of the situation. Cookies cannot give you that. So if you uncover that your stress eating impulse is because you have made up in your mind somehow that cookies will give you the peacefulness that you want, then we have to manage that situation, right, and start talking about, let’s find some ways to give you call, let’s find some ways to give you peacefulness and feel like you’re in control, because the cookies will never give you that they cannot. Right? Food can’t give you those types of things. So that’s the second bucket is the substitution bucket. And the third big bucket is a simple distraction. We all have uncomfortable emotions, right? Whether it’s loneliness, or fear, or anger, or self-esteem, self-worth problems. I mean, we’re all loaded with these unpleasant emotions. I’m sure you know that we have multiple centers in our brain, the Safety Center is called the amygdala. And our big prefrontal cortex in our brain is really the decision maker. Right? That’s it. It’s called executive function. And that’s the part of our brain that we should use when we’re being a grown up and making a smart decision. But when the amygdala has decided that we are not safe, you know that these unpleasant emotions are just too much for us, then we will do pretty much anything to be distracted and get a break from those unpleasant feelings. So stress eating is very often just a simple act of giving your brain two or three minutes have something else to think about. Besides how bad you feel.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Yeah, I can imagine in these times that yes, the whole sort of stress eat in has gone up considerably amongst the population of the planet. With regards to Yes, one. Let’s just say, I don’t think there’s a lot of people who have felt like consistently safe throughout this year, and basically, to not a lot. But there has not been where people may have disrupted themselves with work on a daily basis. If they’re not working. They’ve got to fill that void somewhere, somehow. And free, I don’t like Yeah. Enjoy the day, because you never know what might come tomorrow gotta be, I think that mantra has been screened out by many a person, if you get what I mean,


Dan DeFigio:            I am trying to learn how to do that better, actually, I’m 52 years old now. So I’m not, I’m not old by any stretch of the imagination. But I’m not 20. And so I’m starting to try to learn how to have some fun, and try to learn how to have some more enjoyment in days and appreciate things more. You know, I used to be a real go getter. And I guess I sort of put a lot of value on like being busy and being productive and achieving things. And all of this sort of became a lot of my measure of self-worth. And I like to think that as I get a little older, and hopefully wiser, I’m starting to realize that, you know, a person’s value is really not what he or she does, there’s a lot more to it than that. So I’m trying to learn how to be in the world a little bit differently. Now that I am, you know, more mature, I’m making the making the mental shift between, you know, being a mature young man, to now being a young, older man. And it’s an interesting psychological change for me. But, good. It’s been a good mind shift in order to help people better to, you know, sort of making those types of transitions into being a little more present a little more aware, a little more grateful. Understanding more about how our brains work and how our behaviors work. The older you get, you start to understand people a little bit more. So that’s been very helpful in being a better coach for people. And one of the things that I like to sort of hang my hat on is this is such fulfilling work, because I would like to think that I really help people get better. You know, my tagline is, I want to help People become their best selves. And so the wiser that I get, and the more people I sort of help and on my on my roster, the more my roster grows, and the more the more people I get under my belt, you could say, the better equipped, I think I am to do it. So there’s a lot of positive momentum in this regard right now, which is nice, because like you said, the world between COVID and politics and environmental destruction and all the bad news we get all the time, the world could use some positivity.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Indeed, it can.


Dan DeFigio:            That’s why I love your podcast so much.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Oh! Most kind. But like when you say beat, like helping people to be their best selves, like, this is the thing that is like trying to be your best self. It’s one of those things, which I see as a never ending journey. It’s always this constant move of evil evolution, if you can say, for that person, like you’re trying to help, but also like, for yourself, if you hold that mantra true for, like, people you’re trying to help. For yourself, it must be like, wow, Why are you evolving into where? Like, where’s it gonna go? What’s it gonna take me to next? Because like, when you started, like, in the world of nutrition, I don’t think a book was on your mind you like you, right? By I don’t know, if a book was on your mind when you first started out. And, or starting the business? I don’t know how, like, when you first started, what was your sort of main goals, then?


Dan DeFigio:            Well, my main goal, when I started was, you know, I was working as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. And it was really about helping people improve lifestyle stuff, you know, I had, I had done it for myself. And I knew how much of a difference it made both in, you know, how I felt and, and a lot of psychological things to you know, empowerment, discipline, accomplishment, those types of things. So I think being fit and strong and healthy, carries a lot with it. You shouldn’t, to just the physical benefits and medical benefits that you get. So I was on that train. And I liked it. And I wanted to help other people do that. And so I, you know, in some respects, it was a pretty simple start, like, well, I’m going to be around a gym, anyway, why not help some other people do this. So, so I started doing that. And it turns out, people thought I was a very good teacher, and a very good coach and a very good mentor. So business grew from there, I have a, I have a local service business in Nashville, Tennessee, in the United States where I live. And I have a team of 10 personal trainers and nutrition coaches who work with me. So we do that locally. And then I continue to work with folks. Virtually, like by zoom, or by telephone all over the world, working with distress eating and the sugar addiction and the food psychology and that type of stuff. I can’t say psychology, because I’m not a psychologist. Here’s my disclaimer. I am not a mental health professional. I am completely unqualified for everything. All right. Aren’t we all right?


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Well, yeah, like, you know what? There are some experts out there. Let’s just say you’ll be amazed at the BSA shoved out and made to be highly qualified professionals. And you know, I mean, you’ve got to sometimes smile, and go, Oh, really? Thank you for that insight. But you know, yes. I’m glad you covered. I’m glad you covered your basis. I’m sure the lawyers you might have might be like very glad about that to like, thing, like you’ve got a team of 10 people working at helping people out there. A must have been How can I put it this year must have been very tough. In regards to sort of like the way the world shifted and shifted again. And I’m not too sure how it is in Tennessee because like the states with its the lockdown measures and how things are coming out is very different in every state. Even maybe in every county. It’s a summer gods.


Dan DeFigio:            Yeah, it’s a mishmash, and it has been a challenging year. For you know, for the fitness industry, but to be honest with you, I feel very lucky and very blessed. There are plenty of people who are really screwed from COVID. You know, so many people have lost jobs, lost businesses, lost loved ones lost their homes. I mean, this has been devastating for so many people. And it’s really just been heartbreaking to think about that. So, you know, I’m in a service business that got shut down for a short period of time. And we’re back up and running and serving people, both in person and virtually, at probably half capacity right now. Which isn’t great. But like I said, compared to so many other people, I have zero complaints. We’re doing fine. And my heart just goes out to everybody who isn’t doing fine.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Yeah, like over here in the UK. And as of today, not yet, as of today that we’ve gone into lockdown 2.0. But for England, and I basically, like Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, it’s kind of a as with the US a bit of a mishmash, right now. But one of the things they said, “It was going to be up until the second of December.” But we’ve got this furlough scheme for people who like to help retain people’s jobs over here in the UK. And they’ve increased that now to the 31st of March. So let’s just say this 2.0, lockdown. They said, “It’s going to end on the second of December,” and we think it’s going to go on considerably longer than that. Like, there are many a gym which was opened. Now they’re back to being closed. I think there are one or two gyms, which also of how can I say, basically rebelling against the lockdown? Because one of the things with regards to the whole COVID? It’s like, if someone is it seems like the quicker they recover from the actual virus itself. So the arguments being put forward that Yeah, Jim should stay open, because it’s actually helped him benefit physically and mentally. I don’t know if you have the same opinion, or like a different opinion with regards to that.


Dan DeFigio:            My opinion is that, of course, staying in good shape, helps your immune system and helps you mental health, for sure. However, you’ve got to be very careful and do it in a safe way. So when we are meeting with people in person, we have very limited capacity in the facilities. So there aren’t too many people around, there’s plenty of physical space. All of the trainers wear masks, of course, we’ve got plenty of ventilation. So I think we’re doing a good job of walking the line between giving people the help that they still need, but doing it in a safe enough manner that we’re not really putting anybody at serious risk.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Mm hmm. Okay, no, that’s good. Like with regards to Tennessee, is that a hot state? Or does that become a cold state during winter? Is it four seasons? Or is it just one,


Dan DeFigio:            We have a mild winter in Nashville. It snows a little bit, but not very much. So it’s warm and humid in the summer. And generally, we have a few weeks of very nice springtime and fall so we do get four seasons. Winter is nothing. I am from the northern United States. I grew up by Lake Erie. So I was accustomed to a dreadful winters with lots and lots of snow and ice. And so when I when I moved here one of the great things for me is there’s really no winter here. I don’t think it’s anything but it’s kind of funny, being a northerner when it does snow, you know, two days a year here in Nashville, it’s like they close the schools down for a week and everyone runs to the grocery store and stocks up on things because they’re afraid they’re going to be stranded. It’s, it’s pretty funny.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      You just look at him, like shake your head. Now, the reason why I bring by asked is because with regards to sort of gym facilities, being able to have spaces outdoors and stuff like this, if the weather is good, fine. You’ve got that sort of extra space and like possible extra capacity. And yeah, summer has gone from the UK. So yeah, I must really be one of the people in Tennessee. Ah! Snow. They shut like yeah, we can’t do snow in London. That’s enough story.


Dan DeFigio:            So you’re right. You’re right in London.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Yes. Yep. Basically, if you got two inches of snow in London, you’re actually see the city just shut down. Yeah, that’s like, yeah, its two inches of snow. What are we gonna do this? Like? What is like…? But yeah, that’s the way it happens in good old London town. But yeah, this is the thing. One of the things which also impressed me is you have done a couple of children’s books as well.


Dan DeFigio:            I have written one children’s book. It’s called Princess Wiggly. And Princess Wiggly is the character who comes and teaches the children the importance of exercise and healthy eating.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Ah! Excellent. And is there going to be more adventurous princess wiggly? Or is it just one adventure? One solo adventure?


Dan DeFigio:            So far, it’s just one but who knows what the future will bring?


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      I liking it. So with regards to the future, what do you think? What sort of way would you like to be in six months or years’ time?


Dan DeFigio:            I think I would like to continue doing what I’m doing, coaching people like I do is very gratifying work. I have been over the last nine months, I suppose since we’ve been in, how should we say…COVID protocols? I’ve been spending more time outside, which I love to do. I love to be outdoors, I hike a lot. I’m actually involved in the state naturalist program here in Tennessee. So I’ve been learning lots of things this year. So that’s been very enjoyable. And I think I would probably like to start incorporating more of that kind of work into helping people become their best selves. You know, going on some hikes, doing some meditation or some sitting out in the woods. You know, they call it forest bathing, which is a great term. You know, the research on being outside and being in the tree canopy shows that you know, it reliably lower stress levels and lowers your blood pressure and helps with some mental struggles like depression and anxiety. So I’m ready to start to incorporate more of the healing power of the outdoors. In my regular day and day out work with people.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Nice, like little bit of spirit literalism. There. Oh, great. Like Yes, no doubt, you might start up a summer camp for the older like camper, let’s just say or summer retreat.


Dan DeFigio:            that is a great idea. I may end up doing something like that.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      I all I asked for is five to 10% as a consulting fee. I’m not greedy. Now, I am a being of cosmic power. And yes, I am. Absolutely. Yes, I can grant you one wish and one wish only. You can’t ask for world peace because too many people ask for that. And yeah, you can’t ask for more wishes. And also you can’t write down on a piece of paper, a number of different wishes and go I wish all the wishes on this piece of paper can be granted. I see if I’ve got most of the tricks now. What would you wish for?


Dan DeFigio:            One wish? Boy! That’s a great question. Okay. I think I’m going to explain my wish for a moment if I may.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Yes, please do.


Dan DeFigio:            The current state of the United States culturally, is really it to oversimplify. It is really a split between inclusiveness and exclusiveness. And the messaging that is coming from the exclusive side is that of blame and fear and finger pointing and my wish would be for all folks throughout the world to be able to come together and stop with the blame, stop with the finger pointing and really recognize the I want to say I suppose, divinity and respect that all people deserve.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Okay? Yes, I shall see what I can do about working on that.


Dan DeFigio:            Thank you, oh, powerful Genie. The us versus them thing is just killing me. It’s killing all of us. So that is what needs to be healed in our world.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Yeah, but this is the thing with when people go us versus them. Like, sometimes it’s a simple case of, there are times where we’ve got to look at ourselves, then basically go, right? These are some of the key problems we’ve got. And if we don’t take responsibility for these problems, it’s going to lead to greater problems. And when you like, when people are too busy, like going, well, it’s their fault. It’s their fault. They’re the reason why this problem is going on. It’s like I’m you’re, you’re missing the point, like look to yourself, if there’s something broken in your home, which you can fix, fix it. And then you know, what, then if there’s something else which is broken, fix that. And eventually, by the time you fix a number of different things, everything will be that much better. Everything would rise up that little bit more. And when it when, how can I put when things in the world seen dark and bad, they can feel that little bit better if we worked on ourselves and taking responsibility for key things in our lives to meet those things, but rather than sort of blame our neighbor, or like, blame someone else for this or of some of the ills which we can take responsibility for.


Dan DeFigio:            Yep, you nailed it. No wonder you’re such an all-powerful Genie.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Well, what can I say wisdom sometimes comes with it? Yeah, and then sometimes I wonder how I get myself into some of these difficult situations. That’s another story. Now would it be possible to tell the lovely people where they can find you how they can get in contact with you out there on the big wide? Why well web


Dan DeFigio:            My headquarters for this type of work is


Muyiwa Adebiyi: no problem. Can they find you anywhere else? Or is that the best place to get you?


Dan DeFigio:            that is the best place I mean, I do all the social channels and that sort of thing. But if you’re interested in hearing more from Dan DeFigio, just go to I actually have a bunch of free giveaways on the website – little guides to help stop stress eating and keys to killing your sugar cravings, and those types of things. So check out the free stuff section of and get some tools to help you.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Perfect no problem. I’ll put that in the description so people can find you track you down. And yes, beat that sugar loving addiction. Cronuts. Okay. Why have you learned me? Why come on now? One cronut just one god it’s been a pleasure having you on today. Yeah, thank you very much. Pleasure is all mine. And.


Dan DeFigio:            It has been delightful being on your show and getting a chance to talk with you finally so thank you so much for bringing me on.


Muyiwa Adebiyi:      Oh no problem no problem at all. I like to say also thank you to you my friends my life warriors out there for staying watching listening, having me on having done on and I’ve got to say yes please be well be safe, be fantastic. Be Awesome, be all the positive, be you can be in this world. And then some. Thank you very much. Have a great day guys.