From butcher to vegan bodybuilder
Transcript of the No-Bullshit Vegan podcast, episode 67.
From butcher to vegan bodybuilder:
Fraser Bayley's story, and insights on mindset
Karina: Hey, I'm Karina, your go-to, no BS, vegan fitness and nutrition coach. I'm recording this on March 23rd, 2020 and it is a very strange, unprecedented, uncertain time in the world right now with the COVID-19 pandemic. Now I'm pretty sure that you have enough Coronavirus related content appearing in your news feed right now, so I'm not going to spend much time on it other than to say that I really hope you're taking social distancing seriously and of course washing your hands a lot. And I'm also here to help you maintain and even increase your fitness at home. So last week I spent an extra 15 hours on top of my usual work time putting together at home workout programs for each of my clients whose gyms just closed. And now I've got you covered as well. Every Thursday at 6:00 PM Pacific, I'm leading a 30-minute no equipment home workout live from my living room on both Facebook and Instagram.
I've done a few of these already and it has been super fun and my cat Yoshimi joins in. She's totally the star of the show and I might be adding a few extra sessions here and there. So make sure you're following me on social media so you get notified. And I've also put together a vault of at home workouts you can download for free at Karinainkster.com/homeworkouts. Many of these require no equipment at all, but I've also got lots of options for resistance bands, a stability ball, TRX or dumbbells. There are currently 35 workouts in this vault, but I'm aiming to add to it when I can. I want to see if I can get it up to 50 different workouts. So, get these workout PDFs for free at karinainkster.com/homeworkouts.
I'd like to introduce our guest for today, Fraser Bayley. Fraser has an unusual story, having gone from being a mentally ill butcher to a passionate vegan advocate, bodybuilder and online strength and nutrition coach in a struggle to overcome serious mental illness including bipolar disorder, ADHD, and severe social anxiety. Fraser chose to walk away from the butchery industry for good. He never realized how health, fitness and veganism would then come together to transform his life in many amazing ways. Today Fraser operates an online vegan health and fitness brand called Evolving Alpha with his wife, Lauren, which helps other vegans, curious non-vegans and high-performing entrepreneurs get healthy, strong, and achieve a higher state of peak performance through a vegan diet and lifestyle. Fraser's favorite vegan meal is a macro bowl of lentils or tempeh, air fried potato, mixed salad greens, sauerkraut, and broccoli sprouts, which sounds amazing to me, especially the sauerkraut part. So, let's roll the interview.
Hey, Fraser, it's great to connect with you. Thanks for coming on the show.
Fraser: Karina, thank you. It is an absolute pleasure to be here.
Karina: Well, I feel like it's about time that we connect, being in the same kind of sphere, you know? So very happy to have you here. I would love to get right into your backstory because I'm super curious. I just have to know the details about this. So, you've gone from being a butcher, dealing with a whole variety of mental health challenges, which I can relate to, to being this passionate vegan bodybuilder, advocate of the plant-based lifestyle, strength and nutrition coach extraordinaire. So, this is one of the craziest, most 180-related background stories that I've heard. So, I would love some info on how the hell that happened.
Fraser: Yeah, it is a crazy story. You know, I look back now, and I'm so used to telling my story that it seems normal to me now, but I recognize how abnormal it really is. And so, if you can tell by the accent, I'm originally from New Zealand, living in America now, and have been here for about eight years. And back when I was in New Zealand, I left school young. I had tons of trouble as a teenager with mental health problems. I was diagnosed with severe bipolar disorder, severe social anxiety, ADHD. I was heavily medicated on all of these things. In fact, I tried a raft of different medications over the years and I would just rotate through different medications cause nothing seemed to really work and I just kept looking for the solutions and I had a lot of trouble at school and I grew up feeling like I was stupid.
I was getting really bad grades in school. I couldn't concentrate, I was distracted, I was insecure, I just wasn't happy, and I thought to myself, why don't I just quit and start working and at least I can make some money. Isn't that a positive thing? At the time I was working part time as a butchery assistant after school, just cleaning up once everyone had gone and manning the counter in the afternoon, once all the butchers had left. And I thought, what easier way to get a full-time job than just go to the job I’m at right now part time and just get it full time. So, it wasn't like there was this plan where I was like, Oh, out of all these different occupations I can have, what do I want to be?
It wasn't like, Oh, I'd love to be a butcher. Right? It just happened to be that way. I just happened to fall into that, regrettably and I look back now and it was such a bizarre industry because a lot of the people who work within it had a lot of the same mental problems that I did. You know, there's a lot of addiction. There was a lot of alcohol abuse. There was a lot of domestic violence in their households. It was just a very toxic, hyper masculine environment to start with. I would say 95% of the people who worked in the butchery departments typically were males. And so it was this breeding ground for this male Wolf pack mentality. You can probably imagine, you put a mentally ill young teenager in an environment like that and it's like throwing jet fuel on a fire.
So, I really did struggle with addiction and a lot of dysfunction. I would abuse my prescription medications, illicit drugs. I drank all the time. I smoked, I didn't work out, I ate like garbage and I never took the time to really think to myself, Hmm, I wonder if all of these lifestyle choices that I have are contributing to my psychology. It's only in hindsight now that I can see that. I worked in the largest butchery in New Zealand at the time and it was a huge supermarket chain, so we had a lot of volume coming through. I saw a lot of things and a lot of recurring themes. So, I often share that story now with people when they want to know where some of the products come from and what's in them and how they made them. I tell people the truth and I share with them what I experienced, what I was part of, what I saw on a daily basis to try make people aware of the dietary choices that, I guess the marketing around animal based foods is very manipulative in the sense that they want to push this health agenda or this sense that there's this happy cow paradigm when in actuality it's not like that. I went through slaughterhouses as part of my apprenticeship, so I'd seen the whole production from start to finish. So, I have been exposed to everything and I share aspects of that story and coming to the US and connecting with my wife Lauren, we were just on this fitness and health journey.
I fast forwarded quite a lot of that where I left the butchery in the end and I went back to study and this is where I finally started to clean up my lifestyle. Long story short, I came to the US. Lauren, my wife is quite a spiritual person to start with. She was reading this book called the World Peace Diet by Dr. Will Tuttle. It's this beautiful book, the way he explains the place of humans in this world and our relationship with the world and animals and everything about that. It just made sense to me where I was in my own journey and I was like, you know what? I'm just going to give this a shot. That was about seven years ago now and we completely overhauled our business and everything. So, at the time as nutritionists and online trainers, we were promoting a non-vegan based system. We literally shut everything down and we completely started from scratch. So that was our conviction. We just wanted to completely start a new chapter. It's been such a whirlwind of a journey going from that place where I was really struggling and had a lot of mental dysfunction in this really violent industry to study nutrition and go to college and going through these processes and then coming into veganism and never looking back. So it's been a complete 180.
Karina: That's incredible. So, then you and your wife had been running coaching of some form before Evolving Alpha and then you just basically did a 180 on that as well. And now you work with people who are, I assume somewhere on the vegan, trajectory. Is that right?
Fraser: Yeah, that's correct. So, I came to the US and we started what was called at the time, the Bayley Body. So that's my last name, Bayley, the Bayley body. It was just online integration of the back of a real time training. So, we would run some boot camps and different things like that. We had an online component to that real time training. So, we just found that we were able to retain clients easier and get them better results because we had more of a bearing on the choices and habits and psychology that they had outside of the bootcamp itself. So, you know, obviously if you have someone for 30 minutes or 60 minutes a day, whatever they're doing, and the other 23 hours is ultimately going to dictate their outcome and so that's why we created an online component.
This was almost before online training was a thing, I guess this is right at the start when it was very clunky. We didn't really know what we were doing. We didn't really know what it looked like. When we went vegan, we had a period of about a month where we just went through this transitioning phase where we told all our current clients that, Hey, this is how we feel about things. We dropped some science and some knowledge their way and said, look, you know, we're doing this for a multitude of reasons and here is the information. If you want to come with us, you can and if not, Hey, it's your choice. Actually, quite a lot of them actually ended up coming with us, which was really cool. There were some that didn't, but at the end of the day, you've got to just meet people where they are and just hope that people understand your message.
So, we completely transitioned to Evolving Alpha and now we work with people on the plant-based vegan spectrum. So, we actually get a lot of people who are new to veganism come to us. Typically, because of, I guess it's just the way that we share the message. A lot of it's around mindset. So you kind of touched on at the start, like talking about mindset and psychology and I talk a lot about my story and I talk about the mindset and the psychology around transformation and just changing habits. And I think that resonates with a lot of new people because those are the things that they really need to work on the most to actually get a good result, you know?
Karina: That's a really good point. And I think the way that information is presented, so how you are out there in the world with your message is almost more important than the message itself in a lot of ways. I mean the message itself is important too but you know, I'm going to do a whole episode on why I don't support PETA for example because you know, there are vegan messages out there that I think are not being presented in a way that A- is going to actually help people and B - is going to do something positive for the vegan movement as a whole. So, what you and Lauren are doing, the mindset piece, which honestly I feel you were onto something when you said having the online component is just a little deeper. You can work with clients on different things as opposed to OK I'll see you next week, bye and then no communication. I think that's huge. What we both do is vegan related, and veganism plays a huge part in the work that we do. But I'm curious about what your experience has been since you switched over since Evolving Alpha started. Basically, experience of veganism in the world of fitness. You mentioned that you had some of your clients come over with you as you transitioned, which is awesome, but do you find yourself explaining things to other fitness professionals?
Fraser: Yeah and I'm sure that you've experienced this as well because you've been vegan for a number of years, haven't you?
Karina: Yeah, it has been 17 years.
Fraser: You've probably noticed this, that there has definitely been more of a rapid trend towards this and then probably the last two-or three-years real traction. Seven years ago there was a bit of traction, but it wasn't raw, it wasn't really intense. There were no Beyond Burgers around, there still wasn't this wave of plant-based alternatives coming out. That was seen in the last couple of years. It's funny because I see a lot of fitness people and I think for them one of the biggest barriers for them coming into a vegan plant-based lifestyle and making it work is just they are trying to force the old paradigm to this new way of operating. Trying to force this square peg into a round hole. In their head they're like, well I need to hit 300 grams of protein a day. I need to hit these rigid macros or whatever it looks like. And so when they come to a plant-based diet, the rigidity makes it very one dimensional and that’s not enjoyable for them. And so that in and of itself is a huge barrier. I definitely feel like breaking down a lot of the typical bodybuilding mythology and mindsets that a lot of fitness people have for me is a big part of it. One of the ways that I found this easiest to do was to not necessarily tell them but to show them. So that's why, for example, you know, training hard in the gym and having people see what you are doing and going to fit expos and having people see you and meet you and they can literally just, they can tell by the by-product of who you are visually that this is working.
So, you don't have to go through all these rings of fire of explanation quite as much sometimes to try and get them on board. It's almost like you become this walking billboard for the message that you want to share, and it just adds to your ability to inspire people to make change. I feel like it does open people's minds. But I think that the storytelling component and knowing how to share your message within this ecosystem is important. And I think that, for example, like for you, having been in this space of so long, you've probably refined that over years and years to get down to this perfect art form almost. Whereas for me it's like the science where I share my story because I recognize that in sharing my story, someone else can't make me wrong and I'm not actually attacking their identity. I'm expressing my perspective and I feel like that's a good way to disarm people. You know, if I come in and I said, Hey, that's wrong, you shouldn't be doing that. Rather, I say, Hey, when I was doing these things, I just couldn't help but feel like there was something not right with this, so I didn't feel good about X, Y, Z, It seemed to disarm people and it also seems to open their mind to contemplate that change more. So, I definitely think coming into the fitness world, how you share the message is very important. More important than just maybe some of the technical knowledge that you might have.
Karina: Right. Wow. So much awesomeness there. I feel like let's just say the obvious that you are a jacked, strong dude. So, if you're walking around as basically a billboard for veganism walking your talk, I think that's one of the most powerful, and not necessarily easiest, but just like most emotionally connective ways of getting the message out there. I want to preface this by saying I really don't feel like there's one look to fitness or strength, right? But if it's pretty obvious that you're someone who lifts and someone who is super strong and someone who's been vegan forever, so why not use that as a walk your talk kind of message?
Fraser: Yeah, and you know, I say to people, I say exactly what you just said and I'm like, look, at the end of the day, vegans come in all different shapes and sizes and the way you look and the way you carry yourself, the way you share your message will resonate with someone in the world. And we need people from all walks of life, but at the same time, my whole thing above and beyond that is also just try and actually realize your potential and become the strongest, healthiest version of yourself, whatever that looks like whether your a strong healthy iron man or a strong healthy ultra runner, strong healthy, whatever, like martial artist or strong healthy bodybuilder, whatever that looks like. So I think that having actualized that potential and just embodying that as this walking billboard, I think it helps. Do your message. I say that to people sometimes who might feel frustrated that their family or friends might be very closed off to what they are doing. I'm like, at the end of the day you just lead by example and become the best version of yourself and if they see that, they're more likely to want that. People want better lives and if you're embodying that they will follow.
Karina: 100% and that happens in a lot of different ways of course, right? Like some people may see the mental health benefits that you've achieved. Other people might be more interested in the athletic performance and strength side of things. So, I think it goes back to what you were saying before around meeting people where they are. I think our approach needs to change if we're in a one on one situation based on what someone needs and what someone has as a priority.
Fraser: One of the things that I've enjoyed doing more of in recent times, well up until the point where we're self isolating with the COVID-19 thing right now at the time of this podcast recording, but I was going to a health spa where it's a really nice gym but it's also a Tennis club and it's just up the road from my house and it tends to have more entrepreneurial types and business people there. One of the things that I've found with a lot of people who fall into that category is one, they're very interested in peak performance and just how they can optimize how they feel and operate on a daily basis to just be a better of version of themselves and then ironically enough, what I've also found is that beyond that, they tend to be very conscious about or they want to develop a consciousness about the environment. I feel like at that level they are looking for areas where they can improve and grow and so what I've been doing and tying into the discussion with a lot of these people is I'm like, Hey, if you're feeling really sluggish when you're getting a lot of brain fog or you know, XYZ biofeedback cues that are adverse to you being the best version of yourself in your job, you need to look at the stuff. You know what I mean? And obviously you can have vegan junk food but I tell people, Hey, before I was vegan and I was eating a really heavy animal based diet, I would have to take naps all the time. I was always tired. Now it's not to say that I'm just always bouncing around with unlimited energy. Now you being a father of a one and a half year old will definitely do that. But my energy levels and my cognition and my mental clarity have definitely improved. The more I have gotten intentional about the types of foods that I can consume. So, I share that with them. I tell them where I was so they can understand that, Hey, this guy was a lot like me. And once I see them starting to get interested, then I will start to throw other stuff to them as well. So, I'll throw, Hey, do you know, by the way, there's some environmental stuff with this too. Here is some health stuff. Just dig in and start doing the research.
There's a guy recently, his name is Larry Hegner and he runs the Dad Edge Podcast and it's all about fatherhood, parenthood, being a better leader, being a better father and all these different things. He came to me in November last year and he said, dude, my Doctor wants to put me on Statins and my estrogen is really high. He had a whole lot of different things that weren't right. And he was like, but I'm worried about tofu and all these things that you know, guys seem to be worried about. And I was like, look man, let's just start this process. Let's just immerse ourselves, do what we can. And I told him all these benefits that I just told you about improved clarity, cognition, energy levels if you do it right and if you eat the right foods and stuff based on your biofeedback.
After that process, he came back and everything was completely optimized, no need for Statins, no need to go to the Endocrinologist. But beyond that, during that process, what I'd done was I'd sent him documentaries and I'd send him articles and insights on the environmental aspects. I was like, dude, think about this from a perspective of what type of world do you want your children to be raised in, you know, to grow up in. I could really see that light bulb go off in him. He's got four kids and I know that he wants to leave this place better for them. And he's like, dude, this stuff's really on my psychology. I can't ignore it.
I feel like that methodical approach to just sharing information is such a good way to just meet people. And so it's how I approach things and I find out what is someone's driving force to do that. Is the motivation ethical, is the motivation environmental, or is it both of those things or is it just purely nutritional to start with? Meet them where they are and then give them the other information along the way to try and really solidify the transition. You know what I mean?
Karina: Yeah. And I think for a lot of people it starts with either ethics or health or athletic performance. You know, it's one of those things, or the environment that's a big one nowadays. And then like you said, when you continue, when you see, Oh, Hey, it also affects B, C and D, right? Not just the number one thing that I had on my priority list. It just becomes this wide-ranging kind of sphere. When I started, it was all ethical. I didn't care about health, didn't care about athletic performance. I'm just like, dude, I don't want animals anymore. So you never know. And I think it's super important if we are able to have these discussions with people. I mean it's different in something like a podcast or you know, YouTube channel, social media, that's kind of where you want to be able to have one on one conversations where possible. But you know, in a coaching kind of sense for example, or when people are asking you at the club, how can I fix A, B and C for my specific situation? I think what you're doing, meeting them where they are, that is super powerful, and it works.
Fraser: Yeah. I'll be honest, I ultimately know that the primary drive, I think for most people, in making this work long term is an ethical motivation. Right? And so if someone is just interested in the nutritional aspects first and I meet them where they are and I introduce that to them first and give them the resources in that area to help improve the quality of their life, then they develop a rapport with you and they build trust with you. They think, okay, this person obviously knows to some capacity what they are talking about because I feel better. From there you can start to share these other pillars. My whole notion is that it helps solidify the positive change. I'm all about like why not just get as many reasons to do this as you can?
Why just choose one when you can choose three or four or five? I love that because I feel like then having come into this from an ethical perspective and now being heavy in the fitness nutrition space, is that you end up pulling in a really diverse, wide range of people. Like you can vibe with ethical vegans who might be really misunderstood by the mainstream public, but you understand them. And on the other end of the spectrum, you can go into a bodybuilding fitness expo and you can vibe with the fitness people and those two worlds can be so different. It's almost like you're this chameleon that can transcend multiple worlds where on one hand you're at a conference with Caldwell Esselstyn and then on another end of the spectrum that you might be at a Veg Fest or an animal vigil in Los Angeles, so there's this multitude of worlds that you can move through. I feel personally like I can learn from all of those people. I can learn from all these people in these different areas like, Hey, how should I articulate the message and learn more. I love to just keep evolving my skill sets, you know? And I think for me, coming out of so much mental dysfunction early on and lots of mental health issues, I've recognized now that having a growth mindset and understanding that even if I don't understand something yet or I'm not that good at it, I have the ability to cultivate that skill to learn it and that awareness I think is what's helped me transcend from being that person with the bipolar disorder, with all these issues heavily medicated as a butcher to now have been medication free for over 10 years. It's completely different. Yeah. So that ability to have that growth mindset, you know?
Karina: Yeah. It's huge. And you know what, something I just thought of that you helped me to see for the first time ever, which is very weird that I haven't thought about this but there's a parallel here, right? I'm probably not going to articulate it very well, but basically what you've been saying is everyone's going to come into veganism with one main priority, whether that's environment, health, ethics, performance, whatever. And then down the road that expands, and they see, Oh yeah, okay, it can affect this. And you also mentioned quality of life, right? There's a parallel to that. And what we're doing separate from veganism with our clients in fitness, who most of the time come to us saying, I want to lose weight. I want to get ripped, I want to build muscle. Right? And so they come in and we meet them where they are.
Of course, everyone has a right to a physique that they're happy with and you know, everyone can have goals about their aesthetics, however it usually comes at an expense. And so what you're saying about the longevity of veganism, which usually is ethics, right? If you're really in this for the long term, it's similar to if you're in it just for aesthetics in fitness, it's not long term if you're in it for the trolley of life, for being a parent and demonstrating to your children healthy habits, long term health being bad-ass when you're 93 like all of these really deep reasons. Right? I feel like there's a parallel there. I never really thought about that before.
Fraser: That is, that is beautifully said. I could not agree with you more. And I think that I kind of call that a values-based process or values based drive aware. Yeah. It's cool to have the bikini body or be in great shape for your wedding or all those things. At the end of the day, if it helps the person change habits in their life, then it's a good start. But like you were saying, I think longer term you need deeper drivers to really embed the changes. And so what I found was some of the big drivers, you know, and I can tie this back into some of the transition points in my own life, where I started studying nutrition and human structure and function in college in New Zealand, I started to understand that in order to embody what it was to be a better coach or mentor, I started to have to live into that.
Literally do it myself. Say the notion of I want to be a good coach, I want to be good at what I do. I can't just say it and not do it. So that deeper value of wanting to be a really good mentor, that was a deeper value than I just want to be in really good shape. But a level beyond that was when I started to recognize how sluggish I felt. Before I went Vegan and I was eating six to 12 eggs a day or chicken breasts, I was going nuts on the animal products. I was not someone who dabbled lightly. Only once I started getting my blood work done at the age of 27 and my cholesterol was really high and all these things were just starting to look quite abnormal at 27 years old. I looked like I was in shape and I was like, what is going on here? It was just very confusing to me and when I made the transition, I noticed all those positive health shifts with all my biomarkers, but beyond that I noticed the changes in energy levels and different things. For me personally that really improved and that was another deeper value. I was like, God damn, I love that feeling of having better energy. I just liked the feeling of not feeling so lethargic because everything's harder. You know what it's like, you know those days you're coming down with a cold, you might just feel really tight and everything is difficult. That is how most people operate on some level on a daily basis. For me I value that energy and that clarity so that was what then propelled me to eat a more whole foods plant-based.
Beyond that was the birth of our daughter. I went next level whole food plant-based and still had some fun vegan food. But I really went to another level and it had nothing to do with how I look. Nothing. And because of that, because of what you said before, and it's such a deep driver, it just becomes part of who you are. It's like that awareness of if you are a smoker and you're going out and you're like, Oh, I'm trying to quit smoking, but everyone's going to be smoking and all you're worrying about in your head is like, will I be able to not smoke tonight? Who's going to offer me cigarettes? Whereas if you don't identify as a smoker and you're not a smoker to start with, you don't even think about those things. It's not even on your radar. Like, I hope I don't get peer pressured into smoking. You don't even think about it. It's kind of like that but with food and habits. And so for me, I don't even think about resisting certain things because the resistance isn't even there to start with because the value driver behind it is so deep and intrinsic that it just changes fundamentally who I am as a person. And also your reward mechanisms shift and so you stop seeing the cake as the reward mechanism and you start seeing the high energy levels as the reward mechanism or for example, if someone is an ethical vegan and their reward now is for them contributing less suffering and living in alignment with this deep moral value they have, that becomes the reward that becomes the value and more than the eggs, more than the fish. And I feel that's why for example, when people have come to me and they've wanted the plant-based diet and stuff like that, I stopped with that but I didn't really consciously work at giving them the other pillars because I'm in my head, I'm like you and you know this too, fundamentally they can be so healthy on a whole food plant-based diet. Let's keep them there and what's the best way to keep them there to make them feel like this is just part of who they are rather than a diet.
Karina: Right. That reminds me of James Clear in his book, Atomic Habits, which is one of my favorite books. He's saying habit change, long term habit change is really identity change. So, your example of smoking for example, we are non-smokers. That's our identity. If someone offers us a cigarette, we're going to say no thanks, I don't smoke. Right? Or someone who is trying to quit smoking, if they start seeing themselves as a non-smoker, as an identity, deeply held, that is going to be more powerful than the examples you were giving about, Oh who's going to offer me a cigarette? You know, how am I going to avoid it tonight? All very short term. Right.
Fraser: That's why I think the community is really valuable. So, when I came to veganism, I even put a post on social media and I was like, Hey I'm thinking about doing this or I've started doing it. And its funny cause I had some people being like, Oh man, don't do that and it's like whatever. But you know, you always have those ridiculous people. But if I’ve got a community early on and especially people were really funny because when people know, for example, a butcher is coming to veganism. It's like everyone wants to know who you are. So, all of a sudden, within the space of a month, I had all these people wanting to interact with me and you feel like you're part of a community, so I felt good.
I was like this is really cool. People are interested in my story and they're interested in my changes. Like I'm actually really surprised by this response. And I think it was that connection and that community feel that really drove the change long term as well. Like you were saying when you were giving the analogy game with smoking and James Clear, part of it is your community. So, if you're hanging out with a bunch of smokers, you know you're going to be more likely to be one. It's not to say you just have to hang out with vegans, but at the same time if at least you have a good support network, I’ve found that the people who get the best transformations tend to have good support systems in place as well.
They tend to have supportive families or supportive coworkers, or they have an attitude that seems to attract community to them. The people who struggle with transitions tend to be people that don't have very supportive environments and they don't try to cultivate a community. So, they isolate themselves and they don't have online connections and they don't keep learning. I think a slippery slope for a lot of people, not just who might be interested in veganism, but those who want to get healthier and fit to start with. The community environment aspect to this is something that you can't eat or physically see, but it's like your ecosystem. You literally are in that space. And that really does define your psychology.
Karina: Absolutely. Yeah. That is huge. I think what we as coaches can do with people around the world is foster that community. Even if it's online, it's still a community. It's still social support.
Fraser: Yeah. And you know, it’s a very poignant time right now and I recognize it and some people might come back and listen to this episode later on when the coronavirus pandemic is not a thing.
Karina: Oh, it's going to be a thing for a while though.
Fraser: Yeah. So, I think right now community is everything. Online communities are everything. People need connections. If you can foster that type of intensity of connection and community with people, your ability to grow and change exemplifies. But also, I think that those people, they solidify positive changes in their life, you know? And so for us right now, and I've seen with you as well and a lot of other people trying to put out more positive content, more things that bring people together, more things that inspire people and give them tools and resources on how they can navigate this landscape right now. This change of landscape, it's hard. A lot of people are going to be going through a lot of mental instability because for example, maybe the gym or that pump class or whatever the thing is that they go to is like their therapy and all of a sudden they don't have that and they're at home and they have lots of time on their hands. I think the psychology and the habit formation, and the routines are really fundamental.
Karina:100% and I think that's where people like you come in who actually focus on things like psychology and mindset within coaching. I mean this is why I like the term coaching as opposed to trainer. I'm sure you're on the same page here, but just indulge me for a second. I mean, this is why I call myself a coach, right? I feel like coaches generally focus on helping people make lasting long-term changes. Not that I have an issue with trainers, but generally coaches will get into deeper issues like what's holding a client back from getting the results they want or on the fly problem solving. That's basically what we both are spending this entire week doing. Oh shit, you don't have gym access anymore. All right then here's a homework program
Fraser: And that is being a coach. I think a trainer is a part of that entire process, but it's not the whole thing. It's like it's the physical training aspect of it, but that is one of how many pillars that are required to positive change? You know, attrition, lifestyle changes, all these different things. And so, I definitely am on your page when it comes to coaches or mentors and trainers.
Karina: Right? I think that we're both on the same page as well about how coaches generally work with people on their approach to fitness and nutrition. They're not just working on fitness and nutrition; they're helping clients with their own approach to these things.
Fraser: Oh yeah. 100%. You can have the sexiest training plan and the coolest looking nutrition plan in the world, but if the approach and one's ability to integrate that into the lifestyle is not there, it's garbage. It's no good. You see these really fancy Instagram workouts, but for most people it’s not useful for them. And so, it's about finding that integration. I'll give you an example. So, the musician Chris Daltrey who was one of the early American idol contestants and I think he came second, and he went on to have a world-famous career with his band Daltrey. He was one of our clients for about two years and I can tell you now his schedule and his travel was very different in the sense that he would be in South Africa, sometimes Europe, sometimes Germany, Malaysia, America. So, I couldn't just give him this cute looking workout plan and this diet, it had to be adaptable and integratable into his lifestyle. And I think its kind of what you touched on before we started this show where you said you spent the whole week programming home workouts for your clients because of this rapid shift. All the gyms have closed right now because of the COVID-19 restrictions. All of a sudden you have all these people who are working out in gyms and they're like, I need to adapt. So, you can't just be giving them the workouts at the gym with all the machines and the power rack and the squat rack and all these different things.
Karina: Yeah. Most people don't have a power rack in their living room. Then the other thing is, even with those home workouts, you can't just say, Hey, go on Instagram. Here's the workout that you can do. Because if you've got 30 different clients who are now all of a sudden working out at home, they're all going to have different goals, different workout splits, different equipment. You've got to individualize.
Fraser: Yeah. I think that's coaching and I think that is where high level coaching is so valuable because it's not just here is an Excel spreadsheet and eat your Tofu and broccoli. Here's a cookie cutter workout. It is What are your conditions right now? Where are you living? Are you traveling? Are you housebound, have injuries? Do you have other issues? What does your life look like as an entirety? I think a good coach can prescribe methodology around many of those factors that then makes this process more sustainable. So, it's like you were saying with the deepest drivers. I think when you can have the methodology customized for the person more accurately, it makes their process more sustainable for them and so they're not burning out and binge eating and purging. Being in the fitness space, I tend to have this sort of love cringe relationship with a lot of what I see where there's just this warped mindset around food and dieting and bingeing and restriction.
Karina: Yeah, calling food cheat food.
Fraser: Yeah, you know what's funny is when we have clients say those words, I'm like, look, I know this is just a word to you, but it's framing what you think is a normal diet. Let's just call it a free meal.
Karina: I call them treats. Just treat foods. You know for sure it's exactly the same thing when people say, Hey, so do I get a cheat day? Or Hey, I totally cheated today. I'm like, okay, I know it's just a word. It's exactly what you just said. I don't want to blow this out of proportion, but language is important. Labeling is important.
Fraser: Yeah. You know, and I say that to our people all the time, where your vocabulary drives a lot of your beliefs. It drives a lot of the way you think it drives. A lot of the stories you'll start to tell yourself, and so if you keep using words like I cheated Oh and I did this and this, I'm like, look, you're going to understand that one. You're going to move past the dieting mentality first because you want it to be a lifestyle. The second thing is it's not good or bad. You need to start putting these things into these baskets where you're punishing yourself because the mental angst and the emotional abuse that people put themselves through for not being completely perfect is far, far worse on their health and their stress response and the nervous system. Just like the food itself, literally the torture that they put themselves through mentally is undoubtedly often worse than just the cookie that they ate.
Karina: A Hundred percent. Absolutely. Hey, so in that realm, you know, we've got things like basically what you're talking about is the all or nothing mindset where, Oh shit, I just did one thing that wasn't on plan. Now everything has gone and I might as well just call it quits, you know? So what is really common in the realm of psychology or mindset that you work on with your clients? What's a common mindset challenge that you find appears within your clients and that you work on with them?
Fraser: I think part of it is the type of vocabulary that they use that limits their ability to find solutions. So like, I can't do this. I'm not a morning person. I can't do this. It's too hard. Maybe one day. Just all those types of language barriers I find tend to be like holding patterns that stops someone from just trying and so that part of it is that. Then part of it I think is just when it comes back to like a tangible process. I think just having better more defined intentional morning and evening routines. So for instance, like I tell people for me, my morning routine and my evening routine, like two bookends that hold up that hold up all these books on the shelf and all these chapters in these books are the chapters of my day and that if those bookends aren't in place those books fall over.
And so, I reaffirm to them that look, you don't have to have these ridiculously elaborate two hour long morning routines where you're doing, you know, hot yoga and journaling for 60 you know all that. It gets to a point where it can be too much. But if that's your thing then do that. But at the same time, having more structured, intentional routines that can help take your mind from a place of fear, anxiety, limiting beliefs, negative thought loops and help you calm down and reframe those and go out into the world a calmer, more clear person. One of the things that I've found that has been really poignant for me is that I have a default to feeling anxiety unless I mitigate it with recovery processes. So my recovery process is my morning and evening routines and different things like that we have coming from my old life, severe social anxiety where I literally was doing a psychology and law degree and I was getting on the bus to ride into campus and the bus ride is like an hour long and I noticed that my anxiety been getting worse and worse over time. I almost vomited. It was so claustrophobic on the bus when people were just packing in there. I got off the bus, I went and vomited in the bathroom and I went home, and I literally quit. I stopped going. I was two years in and I had $50,000. The anxiety was that bad. So, for me dealing with life, parenthood, entrepreneurship just changes.
Right now, we're going through everything just being a human being, right? And so, I find that if I wake up in the morning and I'm feeling a little bit anxious or I notice these feelings in me, I go through these processes to move me. So it might be things like I'll pre-select a podcast the night before that is shorter and a motivational mindset related or preselected the night before when I get up, as soon as I wake up, I start playing it. I just put it on. Even if I'm not really actively listening to it, it's in the background and I'm just absorbing that vibe and I'll sit down, I make some tea or coffee and I will do 10 minutes of a journaling process that I do and I go through this whole thing and it's a similar process and I find that I come out of the other side of that calmer with more clarity and with more awareness about how I'm feeling. I think coming back to what you were saying, probably one of the most helpful things that I've found with people is just giving them little intentional habit stacking routines that they can do ground themselves and beyond that just really work helping people work on their vocabulary and changing their fixed mindset paradigm to a growth mindset approach. When you think about it, everything that we are good at is a learned trait. So when we're born, we're not good at riding a bike, we're not good at artwork or we're not good at playing musical instruments or any of those things, but they're all learned abilities. And so I put forward to people and I'm like, look, you might suck at this thing right now. You might suck at doing squats. You might have no idea what you're doing in the gym. You might not have any idea of what you're doing in the kitchen. You might be cooking the lentils so much it’s a pot of mush. You might be cooking the tofu and it tastes terrible. I get it, it's actually part of the process. And rather than them thinking, Oh, I failed man, I can never get this, I'm like, look, keep doing it.
You're going to get better at it the more you try it. So reframing people's perspectives on things, it's everything. You can even take it to these changes right now in the world with people with anxiety, with COVID-19 and the changes in the economic landscape and people's financial situation and everything where if you can slow down and reframe it, get gratitude, focus on what you can control and stop there. It just makes everything easier. You know, it makes implementing the diet protocols easier. It makes it easy to work consistent with the workouts at home because you feel better. So I honestly feel like, especially for me coming from where I came from in my life, the psychology component to this is a huge driving force.
Karina: Absolutely. That's a really amazing point. It resonates with me because I actually have anxiety, and this is new for me. I've always had some baseline level of it. That's just how my brain has always worked. But last year, out of nowhere, I had a crazy panic attack and I was literally immobilized for three weeks. I couldn't do anything, couldn't work, couldn't do anything. And so part of that recovery, Oh man, it has been like, okay, so what do I do long term now? I can't just assume that it's a one-off deal, you know? So, I'm kind of a nerd with tracking habits, you know, spreadsheets of habits and things. So I can tell you that today's my 325th day in a row of meditating. So meditation has been huge for me and I'm sharing that with my clients and anyone who is interested. It's all about mindset. It's so huge this time, right? Especially during this time.
Fraser: Yeah. So how are you feeling right now? Do you feel like these practices and these techniques are helping you navigate like these challenges right now?
Karina: I think so. For me, meditation has been one of those things that has very gradual and subtle effects. And it's one of those things where you go through an experience and afterwards you think, Oh shit, if this happened two years ago, I would have responded in this way, but now I'm responding in a completely different way. Right. And so I kind of feel the same. I don't have a gauge of what this would have been like if this whole pandemic had happened two years ago before I started implementing some of these things. I feel like it affects everything on a baseline level. It's not about changing how your brain works necessarily. It's what you were saying about gratitude and I'm not wishing that things were different necessarily being in tune with what you were experiencing. You know? I think it's huge for a lot of reasons, for a lot of people.
Fraser: Yeah, like you said, it's a very subtle thing and it's not always obvious. I said to my wife Lauren the other day with just everything that's going on right now and the challenges with people and social media and just navigating all those things especially if you've dealt with anxiety and things, it can be testing times for a lot of people. But I feel like for me personally, I was handling everything reasonably well. I feel like that was a Testament to all the personal development and mindset work that I've done over the years. It's kind of like you do all these things and you're like, is this stuff actually working a hundred percent? Am I actually improving? Is it actually a thing? You are always in a position where you're being tested and so you're like, okay, I'm doing all these things, but is it actually any positive outcome from this? I can tell you that it's only once you really get tested and you really get put in a position that's uncomfortable that you're like, hell yes, I definitely notice a positive change here, even if it's subtle. It might be subtle, or it might be really big, but it's definitely an improvement. That to me is how I've been feeling this week. It’s just affirmation to keep the meditation practices and all these different things going alongside healthy eating and all these other things
Karina: Absolutely. That's a really good point, especially when it comes to mindset, we are not always presented with the challenge that is going to show us whether it's working or not and that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep it up though.
Fraser: Yeah. I often tell people it's like, Hey, you have to be willing to do these steps even in the absence of an apparent result, knowing that the accumulation of that action is at some point going to hit a tipping point. You can see that with anything. You probably know this when someone is trying to transform their body and they might hit a plateau or they might start off and things change really quickly or they don't, for whatever reason, their idea of how quickly they should be changing isn't in alignment with what's happening. Very often during those times when you need to persist a little bit more because it's almost an accumulation under the surface, like a freezing point where you can have that ice cube sitting on the table and it is right below freezing and it's still frozen and you keep turning up the temperature and it's still frozen and you're like, Oh man, this thing's not even melting. I'm doing all these things. I'm turning up the temperature, nothing's happening. And then you turn it one last time and it hits above freezing and it starts to melt. It's a compound effect and I can see that across nature. I can see that across the way that chemistry works with an ice cube all the way to how someone's body works with fat loss or muscle building. Gary Vaynerchuk talks about the macro and the micro where he's like everyone's focused on the micro, like the little nitty gritty details, but they don't sit back and look at the macro, the big picture, the big changes over time. I think that's where long-term change really lies. When you look at the macro, you sit back, and you look at everything from this bird's eye view.
Karina: Absolutely. I feel like I could talk to you for another three and a half hours. This is all fascinating, but let's wrap it up. We should probably do part two at some point.
Fraser: We need to. I feel like this one was just the mindset primer.
Karina: The mindset primer yet. Then we've got to go into detail and do part two on one specific thing, part three on another specific thing. Where can our listeners go to connect with you and learn more about what you do?
Fraser: So if they go to www.evolvingalpha.com or search Evolving Alpha on Facebook or Evolving Alpha on Instagram. And I am Fraser Bayley on Facebook and I just post a range of stuff on those different platforms depending on how I'm feeling. We are also on YouTube but we're not super active yet. We've been posting a little bit, but we need to get more active with that. So that's really where you can find us or come check us out. Thank you, Karina.
Karina: Well thank you Fraser. It was fantastic speaking with you. I'm glad we could connect. All the best in these weird and uncertain times that we're dealing with right now, and I look forward to sharing our episode with our listeners. It's going to be fantastic.
Fraser: Thank you very much Karina for having me. It was a pleasure.
Karina: Fraser, thanks again for joining me today and listeners, thanks for tuning into our discussion. Head to our show notes at Nobullshitvegan.com/067 to connect with Fraser and to get a link to download my vault of free home workouts. Also, a reminder that for the foreseeable future, I'm leading 30 minute home workouts every Thursday at 6:00 PM Pacific on Facebook and Instagram. If you're listening to this during the COVID-19 pandemic, stay safe, stay home and stay healthy.
Thanks for listening to the No-Bullshit Vegan podcast at Nobullshitvegan.com.