Are you counting calories and exercising, but still not getting in shape?
Jay Kim had the same problem, and after a lot of research, he found a way to get into the best shape of his life… while only spending three hours a week in the gym.
In this episode, we talk about:
- Jay’s personal journey
- Why most exercise equipment is a complete waste of time
- The simple formula to getting ripped
What is the #1 take away from your book?
Honesty. If you want to hack your fitness, you have to be honest with yourself on why.
For the longest time, the only reason that I wanted to hack my fitness is because everyone else around me was doing it. I never actually thought about why I was going to the gym. It was just a career accessory. Everyone was going to the gym after work and then we’d all meet up for happy hour drinks afterward. It made no sense. There was no goal.
I was just doing it because it was almost like peer pressure. I thought I had to do it. Everyone’s doing it.
When you really drill down and you do that exercise where you ask yourself “why?” five times, and figure out really why do you want to be fit, only then will you realize what you need to hack your fitness. It’s different for everyone.
For me, it was vanity. I wanted to look good. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on fitness.
Once you actually figure out why you want to be fit then the rest of the stuff is actually quite simple. The education part is very simple. I was able to consolidate and distill all the education stuff in about 200 pages in the book. It’s very simple science. You just learn the simple science behind nutrition, diet, and then the lifts are actually even easier. The lifting part, it’s only one chapter where I go through all the lifts and that’s it.
Who is your book for?
People exactly like myself. I’m not a fitness guy. I spent a lot of time researching. I read a lot of articles and did a lot of my own research and spent a lot of time at the gym. At the end of the day, that’s not my life. My life isn’t just fitness.
When I took an honest look at myself, my own was the main driver behind my fitness journey. A lot of people in life, I believe, if they take a look back, a step back, and really look at themselves, they might find a similar motivation. That’s one of the first things that I tell people to do is to take an honest look at themselves.
If there’s one thing that people like to boast or brag about that’s not money, it’s fitness and how much they’re putting up in the gym or what triathlon they just did and what time. It was a metric.
“Because I had to struggle with my fitness, I wrote it off as having a slow metabolism. It wasn’t that at all. I just wasn’t doing things right.”
I was not doing things in the right order, in the right syntax, in the right amounts. That was my biggest issue, and that’s the issue for a lot of people.
I would look at these people that I would call “genetic freaks” and they had it all, right? People that are super successful in their career, they have the perfect marriage, perfect life in their perfect house and the guy is perfectly ripped. He just always seems to have everything together. You look at this guy that’s perfect and you’re like “how does he do it?” Is that even possible?
I just wanted to get my fitness to the point where I could be proud of it and say, “I look good.”
What made you want to hack fitness?
My dear wife called me out when I was just walking to the shower. She knew how much effort I put into my fitness. She basically called me out and said,
“For someone who works out all the time, you’re actually not that ripped.”
By being brutally honest with me, of course, I jumped in the shower and I was fuming.
I was like, she doesn’t understand. I have a slow metabolism, blah, blah, blah. You know how hard I work. You just don’t get it.
It was in that moment, after the call out, that I really realized that you know what? She’s actually right. As the day went on and I finally was processing why am I feeling so angry at this? Why am I so upset? The person who’s closest to me, my biggest supporter, my own wife is calling me out saying that you’re fraud almost. It’s like you work out all the time but you still don’t look like. It was in that moment where I basically realized I’m not doing something right.
That moment took me to really go one level deeper on all the data side of things. Tracking everything religiously and really, really drilling down.
I tried to wing it. I would count my calories, but then I wouldn’t track my macronutrients balance, and I would try to just workout more and just offset it because I was lazy. I thought it was difficult to do. It’s actually not difficult. It’s actually quite simple to do.
The data tracking stuff turns a lot of people off. You hear people saying all the time, “I don’t want to get too obsessive about it. I don’t want to bring a scale around with me and weigh my food. That’s just weird.”
There’s a quote by Peter Drucker that says “What’s measured improves.” If you don’t track your data, how do you know if you’re making progress or not? It gets easier. All you have to do is spend a little bit of time learning it and before long, you’ll be able to eyeball how much a chicken breast weighs when you’re out eating. You don’t have to be the weirdo with the scale.
I decided that I’m going to quit drinking for three months. Second of all, I’m going to really hack fitness. I’m going to go all in. I’m going to do all the data, run all the numbers, crunch all the data, really be neurotic about keeping track.
Those three decisions lead to me figuring out the right combination. It was really just a matter of putting all the pieces together and executing properly.
How did hacking fitness change your life?
When I finally got there, I felt freedom. It was the first time in my life that I ever felt free from fitness. It’s not a word that you necessarily associate with fitness, but it’s something that I preach because I think that a lot of people are searching for the same thing. They’re searching for freedom.
Before I had hacked fitness, every time I was out for a social event, I was nervous. There’s an internal battle going on in your head.
“I shouldn’t drink another beer because that’s 150 calories.”
This is the curse of knowing a little bit about fitness. When you’re out, you always feel guilty. After the second beer, you’re like ”
“Hey, those sliders look pretty good… Maybe I should have one. I’ll just kill myself on the treadmill tomorrow and burn it off.”
That internal battle completely ruins you when you’re out at night. You can’t even enjoy yourself.
I was always bonded by this. I wasn’t free. I was shackled by fitness.
“When I finally hacked fitness, where I could go out and enjoy myself with very little negative impact on my overall fitness, it was freedom that I felt. It was freedom.”
What impact has your book had on others?
I’ve had a lot of people that have gone through the program and it’s just been a life changer. The biggest life changers are actually people that are somewhat overweight that have lost that weight.
When you lose a significant amount of weight, your image of yourself changes and how you’re perceived by others changes as well and your confidence. It’s like a viscous circle or a virtuous circle. Which ever state of fitness you’re in. The more confident you are in your personal image, you’re going to exude the confidence to others. The less secure you are about how you look, it affects the way that you behave in front of others.
“One of my close friends, who’s going through the program, lost 30 pounds in three months.”
He came to me because he was borderline diabetic from being overweight, and his doctor had said you need to do something. You need to change your lifestyle and he wasn’t ready for it. He had just gotten promoted at work so he had spent a year saying I’m going to refocus on my career and then once I get settled in my career then I will worry about my fitness. It wasn’t a priority yet.
Finally, when he came around to me… It’s very important that you can’t force someone. You can’t be the nagging friend that says you better get yourself to the gym or you need to do something. It’s like if you want to quit smoking or something like that. You have to want to do it yourself.
When he finally came to me, he basically said “I’m ready for this, I’m ready to do whatever it takes.” He’s the type of guy that I know had what it took. He’s smart, he’s disciplined. It just wasn’t a priority.
He was very good on the program. He stuck to it religiously and you can just tell he’s a different person. When he walks in the room, he has this air of confidence. It’s like he just has this new level of self-confidence and he told me that it’s changed his life. It’s the best decision that he’s made, and it’s positively impacted his relationship with his wife, his colleagues, his family.
“Fitness is a keystone habit in your life.”
If you commit to fitness, I truly, truly believe that it will positively impact other areas of your life 100%. I always say for entrepreneurs, fitness is the number one productivity hack because when you have your fitness under control … I work out in the mornings, which I advocate to the readers as well. After I work out, my brain is on fire.
Take us through your fitness coaching process.
I tell everyone to sit their partner down before they begin this program, and have an honest and open conversation with them.
Your spouse, your partner, your family, or your roommate needs to be on board. You have to tell them:
“Look, this is really important to me and for the next three months, I’m going to be a pain in the ass.
“Sorry, but I really need your support and this means a lot of to me. I’m going to be annoying because I’m going to be the guy that’s always I can’t eat this, I can’t eat that, but I promise you that after I’m done hacking my fitness that we will have our date nights again, or we will be able to have our social events again. I just really need your support.”
They need to buy in on this because without that, you have also very little chance of success. It’s really funny because I’ve had friends or clients that have gone on the program that have said “It’s really funny. My wife, who’s been nagging me about my weight for years, within the first week is now annoyed that I am measuring all my food.” Very crucial, very important to get your partner on board.
I make my coaching clients commit by not drinking alcohol during the time they’re working with me.
People push back and they say, “I have a wedding coming up” or “There’s an event.”
I tell them “Look, we don’t have to start right away. You start whenever you’re ready. But when we start, don’t drink.” It’s only when you take that step that it shows your level of commitment to your fitness. You’ll be able to drink again after you’re done hacking your fitness, whatever level that is, as soon as three months. You’ll be able to drink again.
I give a lot of strategies around social events and how you can deal with that in the book, as well.
“It’s very easy to start right away, but the biggest hurdle at the onset is your mindset.”
Being able to actually sit down and say “This is something I want to commit to.” It’s only when you really, really want it and you commit to it.
A lot of people, they don’t go through the exercises, they kind of just “Oh yeah, I would love a six pack,” or “I’d love to get fit,” and they leave it at that. You have to make a full commitment. You have to go all in.
With the Hack Your Fitness program, it’s 85% nutrition. And the workouts that Hack Your Fitness takes your through are called “compound lifts.”
Why do you prefer compound lifts?
When you go to the gym, you walk in and see all this equipment. Most of the equipment are isolation machines. They only work one or maybe two body parts at a time.
They were set up and designed to work that way because it streamlined the traffic in the gym. It was actually a brilliant system where people sold this entire set of Nautilus machines to gyms where you walk in, they require no training. Anyone can go in. Perfect for customers and you circuit people through.
You work one body part at a time, in half an hour, you cycle people through the gym and through more traffic, there’s more money so it’s better for the gym. And these sets of equipment cost a lot of money.
Then you look over at the meathead section. There are squat racks and compound lifts, and there’s not a lot of people there except for the body building gym bros, right?
Compound lifts were around long before these machines were, and they require a barbell. The barbell is simply that long bar where you put the weights on.
Compound lifts basically work multiple parts of your body. They work the system.
“The most effective compound lift is the squat where you put the barbell on your shoulders or your traps, and you squat up and down.”
Many people think that this is just a leg exercise, when in fact, it actually works your entire posterior chain, which is your core, your lower back, all of your muscles in your legs and it even works your upper body because you’re under load so you’re holding this load on your shoulders, on your traps.
There are synergies and exponential benefits from working the complex system — as in your posterior chain — when you do a squat.
This is why I advocate doing compound lifts. Compound lifts have been around for a long time and it’s the reason why professional athletes, they train with compound lifts as well. A football player, for example, will spend 45 minutes in the gym lifting weights and there’s a reason for that.
When you work compound lifts, it works the entire system and it builds up your strength overall and there’s just a lot of benefits to daily life and fitness.
If you’re sitting at the desk a lot, compound lifts will positively affect and help your overall level of fitness, your body, your core strength. Also, compound lifts have a boosting effect to your testosterone and to your metabolism.
What about cardio and high-intensity interval training?
When people talk about doing cardio, they always talk about the afterburn effects. When you talk about steady state cardio, like running on a treadmill or doing cycling or something like that versus high intensity interval training, which is quite popular these days.
It’s also called H-I-T, where you take 25 minutes of short interval training bursts of 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off or whatever the cadence is. That has skyrocket to popularity these days because fitness experts claim that the after burn effect, which is basically the scientific term is EPOC, Exercise Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption, which basically means the amount of energy that your body needs to recover from these exercises after you do them.
The EPOC, or the after burn effect, of a HIT session is much higher than a steady state like running on a treadmill or doing cycling, which is true. A lot of people who have been trainers and fitness gurus have said okay, you have to do HIT now. High intensity interval training, that’s the best kind of cardio.
“On a scale of that after burn effect between HIT and compound lifting, compound lifting trumps it by a mile, by multiples.”
After a compound lift, your body requires up to 48 hours to recover from the lift because you’re working your body under heavy load. It seems counterintuitive because a lot of people think oh, I’m doing cardio, I’m burning calories, I come off, I have a nice sweat. It must be the after burn effect. I’m burning calories so this must be good.
When you do a compound lift, your body is under stress, under that load, and it takes up to 48 hours for you to recover.
“When you do compound lifts, it’s much more effective for burning fat, even though you might not sweat at all after a compound lift session.”
This is why I prescribe compound lifts because it’s all about efficiency and how I want to spend the least amount of time in the gym possible. Bone is also living tissue and your bones get stronger and denser when you lift weights.
What are some myths about fitness?
“Human beings don’t need as much as food as we think.”
That’s the biggest revelation. When you actually do the numbers and you figure out how much food you’re suppose to eat on a daily basis, a lot of people are shocked because they don’t actually need as much as they think.
The second truth is that people consistently underestimate the caloric density of the foods they’re eating. That’s just education. You can eat a salad with salad dressing and it’s going to be calorically more dense than maybe a burger is because of the dressing. That’s all just education.
This is another thing that we talk about in the book and being able to navigate through a lot of the lies and deceit that the food and supplement industry have built up for their corporate bottom lines is something that we address in the book as well.
What is your life like today, Jay?
I’m married, I have two kids, number three on the way. I have very little free time to dedicate on my fitness. I work a full time job and I have a couple entrepreneurial projects on the side that I also work on.
One of the things that many people ask me all the time is “how do you have time to work out? How do you have time for fitness?” I explain to them that the book that I wrote was basically the minimum amount of work that you need to do to maintain or achieve a high level of fitness.
I work out 3-4 times a week in the mornings. I’m a morning workout person. I spend about 45 minutes to an hour. I don’t do cardio, or rarely do cardio. I might do one cardio session a week because I actually hate cardio. It’s comprised of compound lifts. I have a squat rack at home, a little home gym, which I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep especially with baby number three on the way. For now, it works perfectly for me. I wake up pretty early. I get a workout in and I do a little bit of work in the mornings before I head into the office to my day job.
How much would it cost to build my own gym?
There’s a company, which I have no affiliation with, called Iron Mind. They make really good foldable squat racks for about $500.
It’s an investment in your health. If you have a squat rack at home, you actually don’t need a gym membership and you never need a personal trainer. If you have the budget and the space, I highly recommend it. You don’t have to worry about driving to the gym. Fitness is about convenience for a lot of people.
By having a rack at home, I can crank out a workout in the morning and be done with it. It won’t affect my workflow.
How long did it take you to write the book?
It took me a little over a year, but most of that time was me screwing around.
With the Scribe Writing process, it streamlined the whole thing. The actual writing part was three months. From idea inception to final draft version was a little over a year. If I wanted to accelerate it, it probably would have taken me three or four months.
The hardest part of the process of writing a book is outlining the ideas, outlining the structure of the book. I had this idea about Hack Your Fitness. When you come up with an idea, it’s not your idea first of all. Second of all, how do you make that idea something that can be presentable in a book. Fitness is one of these categories where it’s like… okay, another fitness book? Really?
I was battling with this for a long time. It was such a big influence and impact on my life and I wanted to share this message, my journey, what had happened. But at the same time, I didn’t want to just write another fitness book. So how do I outline this so it makes sense and it’s actionable?
What is your favorite online resource or app?
For hacking your fitness, there is an app called My Fitness Pal and it’s by Under Armor. It is probably the best macronutrients and calorie tracker out there. They have a database of over a million food items and they even have a barcode scanner so if you’re at a grocery store, you can barcode scan the food and it logs in the calories and the macros. It’s crucial.
Data tracking is crucial. It’s the only way that you will be able to make progress is by tracking your data.
If you were going to write a sequel, what would it be?
I think I would do a Hack Your Fitness Advanced Strategies or mastery type book, where I could talk about more about the advanced lifting techniques, maybe how to bulk. Keto’s a big thing these days, which I haven’t experimented with which I would like to. That could be something interesting and worth exploring.
In the Hack your Fitness book, I do discuss some advanced strategies around social which I think is probably the area that people like that section the most because they’re like this is very practical, this is very tactical. How do I go out or how do I have Thanksgiving dinner and not get fat afterwards? How do I minimize the damage? There’s a nice chapter there. I could expand on that.
Also, I would like to expand a little bit more on the psychology and some of the mental models that are necessary for your mental fitness.
Any parting advice for our listeners?
Take an honest look at yourself. If you are serious about your fitness, why do you want to be fit?
“One of my favorite quotes is by Neal Maxwell, and it says ‘Never give up what you want the most for what you want today.'”
I think that is true in both fitness and just in life. There’s a lot of things day to day, temptations that come up along the way. In the case of fitness, it’s a happy hour drink or a slice of pizza or maybe a candy bar or a cookie or your colleague’s eating something that you want a bite of. These are little things along the way that can come up and trip you up to stumble.
Don’t take your eye off the ball. Don’t give up that little temporary satisfaction for what you want the most, which is your end goal that you’re visualizing. Your six pack or your ideal body at the end of this trip.
That goes for life, as well. Don’t give up your main goal in what you want to achieve in life, your business, for temporary satisfaction of going out and getting hammered on a Saturday night.
Where can our listeners follow you?
My fitness blog is hackyour.fitness. There’s actually a 13 page free guide that you can download that basically is the distilled version of the Hack Your Fitness book. It’s the “TLDR, too long didn’t read” version. If you want to literally just get started on hacking your fitness today, you can go there and download it for free and you can get everything you want.
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