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Reprogramming For Health and Strength with Coach JT Tapias

JT Tapias is a trainer, coach, and health counselor and his practice is all about teaching others how to live a fit and healthy life that is sustainable. Your health is more than a casual pastime and the stress of divorce can have an even more drastic impact on your health than you might expect.

The Power of Re-Programming

Today, JT talks to us about the things we put in the way of our health and how getting fit can actually improve how you feel as you move through your divorce. It’s more than just building time into your schedule — though that helps — it’s about changing the way we think about food and nutrition and making it part of our identities every minute of every day. Reprogramming your identity allows you to make hard decisions about what you do with your body, and what you put in your mouth, effortless.

Staying healthy in the divorce process is critical to staying organized and energized when you face challenges. Listen to this episode learn how to overcome the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that gets in our way when we face hard things. Move through it and get ready for the next great chapter in your life: A stronger, healthier you after your divorce.

Links & Notes

Episode Transcript

Pete Wright: Welcome to How to Split a Toaster, a divorce podcast about saving your relationships from TruStory FM. Today, let’s get your toaster swole.

Seth Nelson: Welcome to the show, everyone. I’m Seth Nelson. I’m here as always with my good friend, Pete Wright. Today, JT Tapias is a trainer, coach and health counselor and his practice is all about teaching others how living a fit and healthy, sustainable lifestyle can truly improve your daily life. Today, JT is going to talk to us about the things we put in the way of our health and how getting fit can actually improve how you feel as you move through your divorce. JT, or as I prefer to call him, Pete, Coach, welcome to the Toaster.

JT Tapias: Seth, thanks for having me.

Pete Wright: You actually have met one another. You’re not just coming up with pet names for people now?

Seth Nelson: JT is one of my three current coaches that I have dealing with my health and fitness.

Pete Wright: Outstanding. And I have to say, let me just say out loud for the record, you look terrific.

Seth Nelson: Well, thank you. More importantly, what JT’s taught me, which we’re going to talk about today, I feel is sustainable and I feel great. I have, by working with JT and we can talk a little bit out what we do because I think it will impact, kind of put the meat on the bones, as we say, to what JT’s whole philosophy is. And I can be a testament to it works if you are dedicated and you stick to it. But the thing about that, that I really want to stress is that it does take a team. It does take focus and we can certainly talk through all that with JT. But let’s get to JT and talk to him about what he likes to do and what he’s all about.

JT Tapias: Seth, thanks for having me. Yes, I congratulate Seth because Seth is, he’s a one percenter. His discipline and his follow through is commendable. He’s done amazing on the program but he’s a perfect example. We get a lot of people that come through our doors at the gym and virtually as well that contact us and say, "I’m a busy professional. I really don’t have time for all of these things." And of course, Seth proves then wrong. He has a million things going on, yet he’s been able to execute on them. And partially, the reason for that is the way we’ve crafted our program. I think most diet programs, most exercise programs are focused on metrics. In other words, looking a certain way, that aesthetic destination. Whereas we focus more on the cognitive side, on the behavior side of things and that’s really where the rubber meets the road.

Seth Nelson: And on that front, Pete, before we kind of dive into what all that means. JT has his BS in psychology with a Master’s in neurolinguistic programming and cognitive processes. I don’t even know what that means. I just know whatever he’s taught and what he learned and he teaches to me is working. But he has multiple certifications, fitness, personal trainer, nutrition, life coach. He’s got all these letters behind in his name that I don’t know what they even are but here’s the really cool thing, he’s a certified health counselor but he specializes in health and wellness. And so every time I talk to JT, it is a holistic approach to how you’re living your life even in stressful times. And he can get into the nitty gritty on how many fats you should eat today and what about your carbs? And what about your exercise?

Seth Nelson: The true power I believe in what he does is he gives you the opportunity to reshape your thinking. Since I’ve been working with him, I’m not on a diet. I don’t say I’m on a diet when my friends ask me what I’m doing. I say that I have a new nutrition plan. I have a nutritionist when I’m dealing with Coach JT, not some guy that’s sending me supplements saying, "You need to eat this," or he’s peddling this. Anything he ever tells me to buy, he’s like, get it on Amazon.

Pete Wright: Well, I definitely got questions and I want to hear a comment but I should add that JT is in the eye of the hurricane right now and occasionally we’ll get some rumbling in the background because it’s weather is having its way with JT’s location.

Seth Nelson: Oh I thought that’s when he just turned it up when he thought that I ate a Snicker bar and hear the grumbling happening. There’s bad weather.

JT Tapias: That was me grumbling in the back.

Pete Wright: It’s just punishment, that’s right. That’s right. It’s the punishment yet to come. I really like the way you’re both putting this because it seems to me that what we’re really talking about is reprogramming the way we think about our bodies and our health. Because we have for some reason or another found that our programming has been damaged. Is that a metaphor that works for you, JT?

JT Tapias: Yeah. We have all sorts of theories. I’m big boned. I’m from the Midwest. My mom was obese. My dad was obese. I’m destined to be obese and let’s be honest here, in 1% of the situations, that can come into play. Genetics are a real thing but ultimately it’s a mathematical equation. We work with three variables, calorie deficit, calorie balance, calorie surplus and the truth is the vast majority of us, if we’re not watching what we’re eating, we’re consuming a surplus of calories. And of course that gets stored as glycogen, sugar in the body. Everything we eat is converted to sugar for energy, some of it we use and some of it we store. And so when we’re in storage mode, that causes a series of problems and health conditions, cognitive issues.

JT Tapias: Can I just say that when we eat something that disagrees with our stomach, we get a stomach ache but our brain has no mechanism to show us when we eat something that’s not good for our brain and we keep repeating that pattern over and over and over again. And so when we clean up our diet, the first thing that gets better is our cognitive health, which then allows us to make better choices. We’re cognitive human beings. We think, we feel, we act. And so this is one of the reasons why we feel that nutrition is one of the most tangible ways to, for lack of better words, take control of your life.

Pete Wright: Do you hear that? The universe agrees. Everybody, the universe agrees. You’re exceptionally good at timing your most impactful statements, JT. That’s amazing.

JT Tapias: Thanks.

Pete Wright: Well, I think that’s so important and now to pivot into divorce and maybe Seth, not just about your journey but as an attorney, when you see people come into you, how do you see? Do you observe that their lives as they’re going through the dissolution of marriage are impacted in these other ways?

Seth Nelson: Absolutely every case. Every case. It takes so much emotional strain and sucks out everything you do is always has the cloud of uncertainty in your mind. Where am I going to live? How are the finances going to work? What about the children? I’ve never been to court. I’ve got to call a lawyer. All those things that we talk about. Am I ever going to find someone again? Oh my God. Why are you even asking me that? I never want to find anyone again. I’m not going through this process again. I know I can avoid this process if I never date anyone again. All that is happening. None of that is comfortable but an ice cream sundae sure is comfortable. A nice meal with some cream sauce is comfortable.

Pete Wright: That reminds you that there’s good in the world. Isn’t that what we’re saying?

Seth Nelson: That is what some people call stress eating. JT, what do you think of that? How do people respond? Talk to us a little bit about when people are stressed, how they deal with it in ultimately in unhealthy ways.

JT Tapias: Yeah. No, that’s great question. I’m glad you went there because we call food and nutritionists, we call food, the silent drug. It’s the innocent drug. We need to eat is the excuse. We need to eat to live. And the answer is yes but not in excess. And so then we go into what we call crutches. And these crutches come in all forms, alcohol, drugs, food being the most abused drug out there. And we lean into these things hard. And so sugar, statistics show that sugar can be more addicting than any drug. And so of course, we lean into these things. We feel the emotional pressure. We feel.

Seth Nelson: Bam, emotional pressure thunder.

Pete Wright: Emotional toward the win.

JT Tapias: See that?

Seth Nelson: This guy’s amazing.

JT Tapias: And the heavens confirmed. The first thing we do is we lean into food and these are things we speak to our clients about is we want you to become very aware because clarity is power. We want you to start seeing the things that you were when you’re the high and the low emotions, when you’re sad, when you’re bored, when you are depressed, what do you do? And so some people go to the bar. Some people lean into drugs and most people lean into food. And so the question is not, are you addicted to food? It’s what’s the extent of your addiction? We are all there to an extent and our job as nutrition coaches is really pinpointing that and channeling those desires, those crutches in a healthy direction.

Seth Nelson: There’s something called the divorce diet, where people just stop eating. The stress is so great Pete, that some people just lose weight but in an unhealthy way.

Pete Wright: That makes total sense to me and listening to what JT said, I’ve been going through my own. I have my own struggles with food and I have learned in the process of sort of figuring out my relationship with food, that I am what is called a fog eater. That I often eat not directly out of stress but when I see something that I’m generally not allowed to have or that I feel like is somehow forbidden or that my mother would tell me, "You shouldn’t eat that whole bag of Oreo cookies," I eat the whole bag of Oreo cookies and I don’t even know it. I just eat whatever is contraband and I don’t even think about it. Because I’m not intentionally, as we’re talking about, intentionally eating. That is my natural bias. When you say divorce diet, I know that’s where I would go. I would gain 60 pounds in weeks because I would lose my intentionality but it sounds like it goes the other way too.

JT Tapias: And so that’s great because so the divorce diet, we get lots of people that come through our programs, with our nutrition programs that have just gotten divorced and we see two spectrums. We see the person that says, "I’ve gained all this weight in this marriage. It was a bad marriage and now that I’ve liberated myself from that, I want to get the best shape of my life, what can you do for me?" And then we get other people that come in and say, "I’ve lost all this weight because I haven’t had anything to eat in months. I’m not hungry. There’s no appetite and I need to actually regain weight and get healthy again." We obviously work with both sides but we probably get 30% of our members are people that are going through divorce. And the vast majority of them, I need to look better than ever. They go through that crisis of I’m going to show him or her what he or she missed out on.

Pete Wright: What they lost.

Seth Nelson: Pete, in the divorce, what do we call that? The revenge body.

Pete Wright: Oh man. I have to tell you, there’s something about that that’s really exhilarating. The schadenfreude body.

Seth Nelson: I’ve been working with coach to get the revenge body in case my girlfriend leaves me. I’ve told her this. And she said.

Pete Wright: I’m very much into prenuptial fitness.

Seth Nelson: Yes. She said to me, "You know, I’ve done a not so scientific study that proves that whoever’s getting fit when they’re in the relationship is actually having an affair because they’re getting fit for somebody else."

Pete Wright: What?

Seth Nelson: And I looked at her and said, "An unscientific study, where was this conducted?" And she said, "Oh, me and my girlfriends when we were having a drink."

Pete Wright: Rigorous empirical research. Also we were a little drunk when we did our study.

Seth Nelson: Yes. And I said, "Feel free to track me. I’m at the office, I’m at home or I am doing fitness at the gym or track me anywhere you want. Go."

Pete Wright: That’s too funny.

JT Tapias: I’d also like to touch on a thing you said about that thing that most people say don’t eat this or don’t do that and that’s the first thing we actually do. And so, the power of suggestion comes in many forms. It’s like, hey, would you like this? Or don’t do this. The difference is, before that thing is called to our attention, we delete the store and generalize that idea. When it’s brought to the forefront, it becomes an option. And so, we often hear people say, "Well, I don’t want to do this." And our question is, "Well, what do you want to do?" I don’t want to over eat, okay so what do you want to do? And it may seem very simple but we see people very focused on the things they don’t want to do and that’s what they end up doing. And it’s just simply the power suggestion in reverse.

Pete Wright: Yeah, and I think it’s when you say it sounds very simple, I think for people who don’t have historically been dealing with challenges around food, they don’t recognize just how not simple it is. It is hard to reprogram that story, to reposition that.

Seth Nelson: Right. But when I work with Coach, what he’s told me, when we started this journey and it is a journey, he said, "I’m not going to tell you what you can’t eat. You’re an adult. You make your own decisions. But on this plan, I’m going to tell you what you can eat." And so he listed out Seth, for breakfast, you can have a protein. And then he described it in a way that is sustainable and it’s not a diet. And so what I mean by that, Pete, it is a palm and a half of a protein. I don’t have to weigh my food. I’m not getting out of scale. He goes, "You can have six," which is basically a palm and a half egg whites every morning if that’s what you want and two helpings of vegetables, two handfuls. I make the best omelets, egg white omelets almost every morning. And I get to put a fat in which he says is a thumb so I throw some butter in there. Now he has specific kinds that he likes us to use. And I make this really nice meal in the morning.

Seth Nelson: And then he says, "You’re going to be hungry," and I eat that at 7:00 Pete. He says, "You’re going to be hungry at 10:00. You can have a protein shake. And here are all these different selections on what you can have." And then he says, "For lunch, three hours later." and I’m like, "Really? I’ve already eaten breakfast. I’ve had a snack and now I’m having lunch." He’s like, "Yeah, this is what you can have." He explains it. And then he goes, "Three hours later at 3:00, you can have another protein shake. And then at 6:00 o’clock you can have dinner." And I’m like, "JT." The first week he’s like, "How you doing?" I said, "I’m eating all the time and I’m full.

Pete Wright: But you’re not eating a whole bag of Oreo cookies. That’s the thing.

Seth Nelson: That’s true.

Pete Wright: That goes back to in intentionality and that’s really important. What you eat matters. And this is where I want to go, JT, when you think about assumptions around getting fit, I just want to call out what we’ve been talking about here. Getting fit doesn’t start with lifting heavy weights.

JT Tapias: Not at all. We teach the complete opposite and I’ll tell you a little story on how that all came about. What Seth was saying, we don’t count calories, we don’t count macros, we don’t weigh food. We don’t believe that those things are sustainable. They’re efficient. They’re not sustainable long term. And so we want to stick to the sustainable aspects of food, daily food, what to do. And so when we do it that way, what we’re saying is, "Hey, we’re going to give you the rules to the game. You go and play." And I do it in my parenting. I have a two year old and a five year old. And my daughter says, she’ll say, "I want to go do this." And I’ll say, "Well, here’s what can happen, A, B and C. You choose. What do you think you know is best for you?"

JT Tapias: And I do the same with clients. Seth, I believe at one point, I’m going to call him out here a little bit. He called me and he said something along the lines of, "I want to eat this thing." I said, "Well, you got to make sure you expect the scale not to move on Saturday." And this was right at the beginning. I don’t know if you remember this, Seth and I said, "You have to adjust."

Seth Nelson: Oh, I remember and Pete’s loving that you’re calling me out. I’m telling you.

Pete Wright: Okay, where is my cowbell? Oh man.

JT Tapias: I said, "You can do it but you’re going to have to just set yourself up for whatever expectations you had, you’re going to have to change those expectations." I said, "You make that choice. That’s your decision but you’re going to have to adjust your expectations." And I remember him shooting back and saying, "I think I’ll just stick with the plan." I said, "Great."

Pete Wright: That’s probably okay. You’re about to eat something that’s about as nutritional as that chair right there.

Seth Nelson: Pete, let me tell you when I’m in court and the judge is basically saying, "That dog don’t hunt," I just move along. And that’s what JT was doing to me there.

Pete Wright: Smart, smart.

Seth Nelson: Here’s the thing I think that people really need to think about. I think Pete, your point on intentionality is really important. We don’t even think about it when we cross the street that we look both ways but we were taught. And for a while we had to be intentional about it. And with sustainability on nutrition, eventually it becomes where you don’t even have to think about it. You know what you need to do and when you go out to a restaurant on the weekends and you want to have a nice meal, you can do that but you just get intentional about it, where you’re going to say to the waiter, "Can you steam that? Can you bake that? Can you grill that?" You’re not looking for the big sauce. There’s ways ask and the restaurants will do it.

Seth Nelson: And you can just look at your plate and you do it so often and you’ve been intentional for these days, weeks, months to retrain your mind that it makes your life a lot easier, not just in your eating but everything else that you do. It’s not about losing in the weight. It’s not about having a magazine cover body. It’s about being healthy and how that makes you feel and sleep better. And then taking that to your life. And you know what? I can now. And I want JT to tell this story because he’s told to me before, I can now play with my children that I fought so hard in the divorce for to get time and I can actually spend quality time with them. That’s what we’re talking about here. Not just, oh, another diet.

JT Tapias: What Seth has described, he described that without, so there’s a process to exactly that sequence that he just described. Our program has three phases, reset, reboot and excel. When you look at those phases, they’re dynamics. We’re going to eat this in phase one, do that phase two, do this in phase three but truly what’s happening in a more powerful way is the cognitive changes that are taking place. I can’t remember the university right now, but they did a strong study on the three levels of change. And so those three levels of change say that the first level of change is actually a level of where you’re focused on dynamics. You’re focused on a metric. You come into a program, you say, "Okay, I’m going to be on this program for 90 days." You set some expectations and you’re trying to meet that metric. And that’s where most people land on most diets.

JT Tapias: They get to that goal and then 70% of those people default back to their normal settings because what happens after that is they don’t continue level two, which is so we have a sprint for us, which is six weeks in reset. Then you go on to reboot, which is another four weeks inside of that phase. In that second phase, what we are doing is we’re basically setting up habits, daily habits that are going to get that person closer to their specific goal. Most people are focused on the vision. I want to get to X amount of weight. We create those little habits that are going to take them in that direction but then ultimately phase three is where all things come together because it speaks about identity change.

JT Tapias: If you try to meet a metric in the first phase, fine you’ll get there. Most likely you’ll default if that’s your only motivation. Phase two is you create those little processes. That’s great. You’ll sustain that until you have a coach. Then phase three becomes very, very sustainable because you don’t depend on anyone else and this is what we call identity change. And so the question then is, JT, I’m 43 years old. I’ve been working out since I was five years old and people ask me, people who have known me for years, "How do you sustain this? How do you continue to eat well and exercise?" And my answer to that is, "I don’t know any better. That’s all I know how to do. It’s part of my identity."

JT Tapias: And so what we do in these three phases is really get our clients to a point of identity change, where what Seth says, you go to the restaurant and you just now automatically are looking for the healthy things. You’re no longer looking for the mac and cheese. I’m not saying you can’t do that because we do build space for those times as well. But when the identity has shifted, you’re now making decisions that are just natural to you. You’re not exerting all this energy and disciplining yourself to do certain things and that’s why nine out of 10 people that come through our programs, I’ve been in the South Tampa area for many years and I’ll bump into them 10 years later and look at them and go, "Wow, you look amazing. What are you doing?" The end to your bucket plan. I’m like, "Wow." It’s very, very sustainable and very simple.

Pete Wright: Two stories to support that. First, I feel like if you go down the road of trying to clean yourself up, clean up what you eat, feel good about yourself, do it for six weeks and if you doubt, go have a Big Mac if that’s something that you love. I feel like that is my test because I always eat a Big Mac and it tastes fantastic and for 12 hours, I’m a gastrointestinal disaster. And that is a reminder of the importance of food.

Pete Wright: The other piece is directly to your point. My mother has been living for four decades with severe celiac disease, completely changed her life. And she told me, once she said, "You’re struggling to do this." I said, "You love chocolate. You love chocolate cake. Why don’t you eat a lot of chocolate and chocolate cake? You can’t, that’s not a thing?" She said, "You have to understand that if I eat chocolate cake, I’m in bed for a week or more. My autoimmune kicks in and I’m in just disaster straits. To me, chocolate cake has become a poison and once I reprogrammed my thinking around what poison does to my system, it became really easy not to focus on the chocolate cake. It’s easy to let it go." And that sort of thinking, it was really impactful to me, as a reminder that the things that I love, if I’m really in tune with what my body is doing, if I am aware, then I have a much better chance of kicking those as you say, those habits and replacing the habits with things that make me feel good and nourished and strong.

JT Tapias: The challenging thing for people that get to that level of change is actually having the patience. Statistics show it’s 61 days before you actually incorporate a habit that becomes sustainable. Is that when you do things like the pizza and the burgers and the things that are so appealing, you secrete anabolic chemicals like dopamine, epinephrine, serotonin, all these happy chemicals are secreted it into your system. Now, if you wait long enough and you let that lifestyle take place of your life, you continue to do that sustainably, you start to get the affirmation from the mirror, from others and you start feeling great. And so of course, that also secretes those same chemicals. And so now you’re replacing those dopamine hits that you were getting from food by simply living a lifestyle that just makes sense.

Seth Nelson: I’ve got two questions on this. One is which I think I want to tackle first, is when people are going through a divorce, it is hard enough with all of those changes to really ask them to eat healthy, is a big ask during the stresses of a divorce. Now we’ve got lots of people that listen to this show and some have already gone through the divorce and so that’s I would say an easier time to make those life changes because you’ve gotten through the worst of the divorce. It’s over and now you can focus on you when sometimes you’re going through a divorce, you’re focused on your children. And I’m not saying you don’t do that afterwards but I think you get what I’m saying.

Seth Nelson: One, is there a better quote time and I’m not trying to kick the can down the road and say, "Don’t do it." But just from your experiences, is there a better time to start this program and to really be committed to it? Because I know on your questionnaire, it says, "From one to 10, how committed are you to it?" And I put down a nine out 10, Pete, which was really good because the very next sentence down on the next page, you had to turn the page or scroll down. It said, "If you didn’t do an eight or above, I’m not interested in working with you."

Pete Wright: Well, how is that tested? You fill out that form and you might say, "Yeah, I feel like a nine," but when do you realize that you’re actually a six? When does the truth come out?

JT Tapias: Hitting the bottom of the barrel is important for success. I don’t think we change unless we have enough pain in our life. And when we see people skip into our program, we’re like, this person is not going to do well. In other words, the person that says, "Hey, I need to lose 15 pounds because I have a wedding coming up or I need to fit into this dress," as much as we want to help everyone I simply say, "I am not your guy." When I hear people say, "Hey, I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired." Whether that is physically, emotionally, whatever it is, that they’ve gotten to that point where they’re just, they need to change. That’s the person that does the best. And so yes, the vast majority of people say you’ll ask them and I think for the most part, people are honest. I have people that say, "Oh, I’m a six, I’m a seven." And of course in that interview, we interview them after that questionnaire and inside of those 45 minutes, they think they’re interviewing us, we’re truly interviewing them to see if they’re serious.

JT Tapias: One of the questions we ask, two of the questions that we ask that are super important is, "Are you ready in your heart hearts?" Meaning you’re going to do this. You know you need to do it. You either got a bad doctor’s report. You just went through divorce. You feel like crap. You can’t get out of bed. You’re stagnated in different areas of life. Are you there? And you know, people say, "Yay or nay," and then are you coachable? And are you coachable means we live in a country that where every single day there’s a fad diet. Everyone’s an expert. When we work with physicians or we work with their wives, it’s usually the battle for the next 90 days of them saying, "Well, my husband said," I said, "But you told me you were coachable. I am the coach." And so those are two questions that are super important. We want to work with people that have hit the bottom of the barrel because there’s enough pain in their lives to actually make a change.

Seth Nelson: Let me talk to that too. And I’m just going to share this with everybody. It was in February of 2021 when my mom was, her cancer came back and it was bad. And we thought that it was probably terminal. It was going to be the end of the road here and it was going to be a tough road. My focus was where it needed to be, was all my mom and all my dad and my family and I felt myself not sleeping well, being at my parents’ house late, caring for her and caring for my dad and I was driving home and picking up fast food that tasted good, Pete. But I was just going through the drive through not thinking about it, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00 o’clock at night, getting a Coke along the way, just what you need at that hour. And I was putting on weight like there was no tomorrow.

Seth Nelson: My cousin who happens to be a doctor, came down really to visit my mom for the last time and he was telling me how he was focused on his nutrition and losing weight. And I said, "I got to do something because I am on a tipping point here where if I keep going the way I’m going and I don’t know how much longer my mom has but I’m going to be there every step of the way. At the end of all this, I could be in really bad health." And we started working with Coach. And even during that stressful time, the intentionality of the routine of eating healthy, helped get me through that hard time. And now she passed away in May and here we are in October, people that had not seen me since my mom’s funeral to now when they see me, they’re like, "Oh my God, what have you done?" And I just say, "Proper nutrition and exercise." That’s the two things.

Pete Wright: Huh, amazing.

Seth Nelson: I know. It’s not a big secret but when you talk about hitting the bottom of the barrel and being focused on something, that’s what JT, I think is talking about at least personally to me. I believe that everything does happen for a reason and I’m a pretty positive guy. Through my mom’s illness and death, there’s been some very positive things that have happened and one of them is I am focused on proper health and that has changed my life just since May or February when I started this. And when I say change my life, Pete, I am no longer on cholesterol medicine. My doctor’s taken me off of it. I was on an acid reflex medicine, taken it off. I was having some supplements, vitamins and whatever, off because my nutrition is such dialed in. I’m getting them the old fashion way through food. It’s whatever it is it needs to motivate you. That’s what we’re talking about. And I just want to tell when you, when you say buy in the barrel, those were rough times, when you have a parent about to pass. Just kind of take that to heart.

JT Tapias: Yeah. You asked a question, Seth, you said, what about you’re already going through all this emotional stress and maybe someone’s not ready to jump on a diet right now. And they’re saying, "Well, I already have enough going on. I don’t need to tap into more of my effort and discipline here." and what I would say is the opposite of that because that’s sort of thinking of this in a way where I’m sick and I’m going to wait to get better and then I’m going to go to the doctor. And I think the important thing to point out here is that in our coaching, our coaching is very much focused on the cognitive side of things. And so in these conversations that we’re having, where we’re interacting Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, it’s hyper-accountability.

JT Tapias: There’s a lot of touch points throughout the week where we’re interacting with clients. And in those spaces, we have some great opportunities to speak about, can I just say 90% of it is life and helping clients sort through situations that are not even diet related but that actually open that person up to be able to do more and want to do more. Not because we’re telling them to do something, we’re simply asking powerful questions. It can look like this, JT I’m depressed. I can’t get out of bed. I don’t feel well. And so in that conversation, we’ll say, "Well, how do you want to feel?" Well, I’d love to feel great. Okay, would you like to look at some options? And then, just asking questions. We call them Socratic questions. Socrates was great at asking questions. We ask all these questions and in that process, we allow them to make their own choices and they feel empowered because we didn’t tell them what to do. We just asked some powerful questions and that’s the basis of counseling. And you sit with a psychiatrist and this is why they ask you these questions.

Pete Wright: So many questions.

JT Tapias: Yeah, exactly. Well, how does that make you feel?

Pete Wright: And it seems like with, as you’re saying, I originally I’d made some notes and I was thinking about, let’s talk about some of the obstacles people put in their own way. And it sounds like you’ve just knocked them all down. Well, exercise is boring. I don’t like to exercise alone. I’m not motivated. I don’t have time. I can’t afford it. I’m afraid of getting injured. I’m just scared of the whole process. I’m too stressed and anxious. All of those things by just asking that one question, how do you want to feel? There’s a path to get you to the other side of all these things if you really are clear with how you want to feel. In that light, when you approach people who come to you thinking about this one, that really strikes me, how does this process affect relationships? It seems like you might either have a Pied Piper kind of situation where somebody might drag the other one along or motivate the other partner or could it lead to some sort of rocky patch in a relationship?

Seth Nelson: Oh, that was my question. One person does it, the other doesn’t, one gets the revenge body a little early, the other one’s eating the chocolate cake and they’re like, I’m out. It’s no longer fun for me to go to a bar, have a couple drinks and eat all this stuff. I’m out.

Pete Wright: Seems like there are probably signals along that path that you might want to be aware of if you’re going down this road.

Seth Nelson: How Can getting healthy end your relationship? That’s our question, right Pete? That’s what I was thinking.

Pete Wright: That’s going to be the title of the show.

JT Tapias: Okay. Not too long ago, I had a guy come on my program and he had 45 pounds to lose. Busy, busy executive, always traveling, big foodie, loved food. He said it in the beginning he said, "Man, I love food." And he says, "When I go to a city, I’m looking for Zagat rated restaurants and I’m a big wine drinker." He says, "Do you think you could do something for me?" And I said, "Sure." I said, "Do you want to do something?" He said, "Yeah, that’s why I’m here." And I said, "Great." We got on the plan and this guy, super diligent, I knew he was going to do awesome because he’s a uber successful guy. And I said, "All you have to do is take those principles that made you successful in your career and apply them to this, the diligence, the follow through, all those things."

JT Tapias: He gets on the plan and I kid you not, 65 days in, he had hit his goal already. And I kept checking in and saying, "How are things going?" He said, "Man, I feel amazing. This is life changing. I haven’t felt like this since I was in my twenties. This is so incredible." Next thing you know, I get a phone call from his wife. And she says, "This is the worst thing that has happened to our marriage."

Pete Wright: His wife calls you.

JT Tapias: Oh yeah. And I took a deep breath and said, "Whoa, okay." And he said, "We don’t go to restaurants anymore. We don’t enjoy ourselves anymore. I’ve never seen him this disciplined."

Pete Wright: Oh no.

JT Tapias: "I think he loves the diet more than he loves me and all these things." And I’m sitting there thinking, wow. And so I said, "Well, he’s getting ready to transition and inside of that metabolic flexibility, which allows you to practice an 80/20, he’s going to go back to normal. You guys are going to go to these restaurants." Well, long story short and he’s in another country so I feel comfortable, speaking of obviously not giving any names. Couple weeks later, he left. And she came and sat in front of us and told us a story and he asked her for a divorce. And I’m like, whoa, like this has never happened to me in 20 plus years.

Pete Wright: Wow.

JT Tapias: And I said, "What happened?" And I spoke with him and he said, "I realized that I was playing the game small and there’s a lot more to life." And obviously that says a lot about what was going on in their relationship. But he started looking in like a million bucks and she didn’t come alongside and I guess he got distracted by the attention he was getting outside and ended up getting a divorce. I wouldn’t generally tell this story because it’s not helping my cause but I want to be very transparent. Can I just say though that nine out of 10 times the husband or the wife will come on the program and they will just do the same thing the spouse is doing and they get sometimes better results, even though they’re not being coached, they’re simply doing what the wife is doing, just following all the things that they’re doing. And they lose a ton of weight.

JT Tapias: And then I get of course the testimonies of people saying, "I lost 35 pounds on the program, my husband that didn’t do the program but we ate the same foods lost 50 pounds." Guys lose weight faster than women. And so that’s the reason I love bringing couples on board because it’s double the accountability. And we’ve actually made it easier for couples to come on because we know the success rate goes up. Eight out of 10 people that come through our program are incredibly successful individually, couples that come through, nine out of 10 are incredibly successful.

Seth Nelson: And Pete, I was doing this and I was losing weight. And you know my girlfriend, she’s like, "I want to do it too." And so she came on with Coach and it was much more enjoyable to do it together because when I was just doing it, she would say, "Well, I can’t eat that," or whatever. And we had that little struggle because we like to go out, we’re foodies. She likes to go where there’s really good drinks. She likes wine but it gives her headaches so if she’s going to have a drink, she wants it to be a good drink, not a rum and Coke. We had that little struggle and I would say, "Babe, let’s go to the restaurant, get what you want. I can adapt no matter what restaurant we go to by what JT’s teaching me."

Seth Nelson: But then she joined in on it and we’ve done it to together and we go to these different phases and doing it together really helps because one, it’s accountable, two you’re in it together. Three, you can look at each other and be like, "Oh my God, I really dreamt about ice cream last night. What about you?" And she was like, "Oh yeah, mine was that fancy drink," or, "Mine was pizza." But doing it together is certainly great. But it’s like anything else, it’s only if that person wants to do it.

Seth Nelson: But I want to circle back because I mentioned this story JT, and I think stories can really tell something and we are about saving your relationships. Share, share with the listeners and with Pete about the gentleman when he was taking his daughter up to bed. Because I think that’s really what we’re talking about too.

JT Tapias: Yeah. The Michael story is, that’s one of our, we have so many cool stories but this is one that has just, it just rocked my world because it really, really gave me an understanding of what we do. And it’s not just, these are not vanity metrics. This is literally life. This is bringing life back into, excuse me, for being redundant into people’s lives. And this young man comes in on a Friday afternoon. It’s about 3:00 o’clock. I’m getting ready to go home and I see a shadow of a giant, guy that looked to be about six, six. My trainer eye pegged them at 300 plus and I said, "Wow," I’m five eight so everyone’s a giant to me. He walks in and he sits across from me and he says, "I got to tell you a story."

JT Tapias: He says, "I have dinner with my wife and my two young daughters each night and after dinner, I play with my daughters for 10 minutes." He says, "I can’t play with them for more than 10 minutes because my ankles, my knees and my lower back hurt." He says, "It’s not just pain, it’s excruciating pain." And he said, "Last night I played with them. I was taking my daughter upstairs to put her to bed and she said, ‘Daddy, can you bring me up the stairs like a horsey?’" He said, "J,. I put her over my shoulders, I tried to go up the first step and I realized I wasn’t going to be able to go up." He says, "I quickly put her down, she said, ‘Daddy, why aren’t we going up?’" He said, "Daddy’s too fat. Daddy can’t bring you up the stairs."

JT Tapias: And he said with tears in his eyes, he put his daughter to bed and he went in his room and he cried like a baby. And he said he cried like a baby because at this point, not only had he incarcerated his own body, felt like he had incarcerated his own body but now it was affecting his girls. And the constant thought in his mind was that one day he was going to fall over and he wasn’t going to be there for his girls. At this point, he had made himself a type II diabetic. He was hypertensive. He had high blood pressure and he was taking 17 different types of medication based on his weight. And he said, "When I managed to get it together, I went online. I did some research. I see what people were saying about you but I wanted to come here face to face, man to man and for you to tell me if you can help me or not." He says, "If you can’t help me, I need you to let me walk out that door because my life depends on it."

JT Tapias: I said, "Oof, no pressure." I looked at him and I asked him that question. I said, "If you’re ready in your heart of hearts and you’re coachable and you understand that this is not a sprint but a jog and you’re willing to put in the work, I can certainly help you." He came on the program. 60 days later, I got a phone call from him. He says, "I just want to let you know I got my blood work back. My type II diabetes is in remission. I’m off of blood pressure medication. I’m no longer hypertensive." He says, "And I’m on my way to getting off of all these medications. My doctor was blown away." He says, "I’m 60 days in, I’m 47 pounds down." He said, "But more importantly, you need to know that tonight for the first time, I was able to go up the stairs with my daughter over my shoulders." And he said, "And the look in my little girl’s eyes," he said, "I’ll never erase."

JT Tapias: And that man, the reason there’s so many powerful moments to that story but more importantly, Michael shocked me because Michael is the back of the woods type of guy. On orientation day he said, "I’m a meat and potatoes guy. What can you do for me?" And I thought to myself, man, I’m not going to be able to do anything for this guy. He’s so limited that he doesn’t eat vegetables. He doesn’t eat salads. Well, he’s now a year and nine months into graduating the program, he has radically changed his life. He’s off of every medication. He’s super healthy. And he eats now a variety of foods. He takes pictures at Whole Foods and Sprouts eating different types of vegetables and proteins. And it just goes to show that he’s changed his relationship to food. And if you ask him, he’ll say, "I’m not in a diet." He says, "This is what I choose to do now."

Seth Nelson: And Pete, I wanted Coach to share that because that’s what we’re about. It’s not the look in the mirror and flexing. It’s carrying your little girl up the stairs. And I’ll share with you, Pete, I’ve told you this, you’ve seen the pictures. I went out to Salt Lake City with my son Kai and he has gotten into rock climbing and we live in flat Florida and we’ve gone to this indoor climbing gym. And we went out there and hired a guide and did some climbing.

Seth Nelson: And the guy goes, "Yeah, you guys are good. Let’s go on what’s called a multi-pitch." Where the guide climbs up, sets the ropes. You climb up and meet him. You stop, that’s the first pitch. He climbs up again, sets the ropes. You climb up, you meet him and you keep going. We did what’s called a multi-pitch, three of them and we were 450 feet up the side of a mountain rock climbing and there was no way I could have ever had that experience with my son unless I was healthy enough to make that happen. And I will tell you that was the first time I was ever proud that my son was proud of me.

Pete Wright: Wow.

Seth Nelson: He was like, "Dad, you did it."

Pete Wright: Well and how powerful is that, that that was the first time you had that experience and your son, he’s an older teen now.

Seth Nelson: Oh, he’s 17.

Pete Wright: It’s been a lot of years you’ve been with your son and only just now met this experience.

Seth Nelson: Right. And we’ve always done a lot of things together and I’m very fortunate and my view is the most precious thing we have is time and none of us know how much we have of it. Because without time, we don’t get to do anything else we want to do. Spend time with our loved ones, have a career, all of those things. How do you choose to spend your time? And when you can make the daily decisions intentionally to have a healthy diet, to take care of yourself, that potentially is going to give you more time to do everything else that you do and that you fight for in a divorce. You fight for time with your kids so let’s use it.

Pete Wright: Yeah. Fight for healthy time with your kids every week and fight to live a long and healthy life so you can see them become wonderful adults and live a long time.

JT Tapias: Absolutely. I’ve had people say to me, "Well, the guy that wrote the running book fell and had a heart attack. He fell over and had a heart attack." And then my answer to that is, "That guy lived quality of life. He had some underlying issues that caused his heart attack but at the end of the day it’s not how long we’re here but the quality." And being able to, to enjoy that with our family and friends and being able to have the energy because at the end of the day, this is what we talk to clients about. It’s not about the way you look. That’s great. That’s the icing on the cake but how you feel because from there, you can be more creative. You can do more. You can be more. And it all starts through proper nutrition.

Pete Wright: JT, before we wrap up because you got a lot of people to coach, how do you handle all this over the holidays? It seems like a risky time for folks who love food. How do you coach?

JT Tapias: Yeah. We only live once and family’s important. And so we realize, the things are going to happen. And so what we do is we say, "Hey, it doesn’t have to be a free fall though." First and foremost, let’s plan around the things that we know are going to happen. Let’s plan for the mishaps because they’re coming and there’s more power if you know that you’re actually going to do something and you allow yourself to do it versus just falling into it. You’re going to be better mentally, you’re going to refocus when it’s the next day or whenever you decide to get back on track. Let’s say for example, family’s meeting for lunch that day, everyone’s coming over, there’s pasta. There’s all these things that we’re not supposed to be eating in the meantime. Let’s do that. Let’s plan for that meal. But then breakfast needs to be on point. Let’s start the day off right because whatever starts off right ends right.

JT Tapias: And so we’re going to do our power walk, which is one of the things that we talk about. One of our best kept secrets. Let’s start with our power walk on an empty stomach. Let’s have a good breakfast after that. Let’s have that mid morning shake so that when lunch comes around, you’re not ready to eat an elephant because you’ve had two really good meals. You’ve started off cognitively in the right way because you’re exercising. Now, when you sit down and you see all this delicious food, number one, you’re not starving because you’ve had all the right meals so you’re just going to eat a little bit of that so you’re going to minimize that impact. And then because you did a cardio for 45 minutes to an hour, you’re going to have it in the back of your head running saying, "I don’t really need all that." And maybe you just do a little bit of it versus saying, "It’s the holidays. Let me just let it be a free fall." And so it’s really planning and proactively choosing to do certain things and choosing not to do other things.

Pete Wright: Everybody needs to listen to that because that’s not how we do holidays here. What we do with holidays is there’s a big meal coming up and there’s going to be wine soaked mushrooms and there’s going to be lots of potatoes and there’s going to be meat and I’m not going to eat a thing so that I can save myself for this meal on which I will gorge myself. That may be the most powerful thing you’ve said in this whole thing. Even a lot of powerful things that you have dropped over the last 45 minutes. Thank you.

Pete Wright: This is good. This is great. My dad had a quadruple bypass a couple years back and the cardiologist came out and pointed at me and said, "Yeah, you got some things you need to look at." And that’s just one of those smack in the face reminders that we’re not here very long and I have a lot of agency in how long I’m here. I have a lot of control. It’s just a matter of taking it. This has been fantastic. JT, Coach, thanks for hanging out with us. Can you plug something? Where should people go to learn more about your work?

JT Tapias: Sure absolutely, is our website. You can get all the information on there. Schedule an appointment, no strings attached. I always say, "Hey, if you come on board, we’re the right fit. Awesome. If not, you’ll walk away with three tangible things that you can do that will radically change your life for free."

Pete Wright: And virtual. This is you work with people all over.

JT Tapias: You’re listening to that thunder that’s coming from the echo from the Andes mountains. I’m actually in South America right now and I am currently working with about 78 clients all over the world.

Pete Wright: Andes mountains. I’ve got like the Bethany Mall down the street from me. Andes mountains. That is a dope plug, man. Thank you so much for that.

Seth Nelson: But Pete, you and I are meeting after this for pizza and beer at the mall, right? Just checking.

Pete Wright: Right. I’ll meet you at Pizza Schmeetza up for a hand toss. All right.

Seth Nelson: The all you can eat each of buffet, brother and nice tall glass of beer.

Pete Wright: Outstanding. Outstanding. JT Tapias, thank you so much for hanging out with us.

JT Tapias: Thank you for having me.

Pete Wright: And on behalf of JT and America’s favorite divorce attorney, Seth Nelson, I’m Pete Wright, everybody. We’ll catch you next time right here on How to Split a Toaster, a divorce podcast about saving your relationships.

Speaker 4: Seth Nelson is an attorney with Nelson Koster Family law and Mediation with offices in Tampa, Florida. While we may be discussing family law topics, How to Split a Toaster is not intended to, nor is it providing legal advice. Every situation is different. If you have specific questions regarding your situation, please seek your own legal counsel with an attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction. Pete Wright is not an attorney or employee of Nelson Koster. Seth Nelson is licensed to practice law in Florida.

Seth Nelson is a Tampa based family lawyer known for devising creative solutions to difficult problems. In How to Split a Toaster, Nelson and co-host Pete Wright take on the challenge of divorce with a central objective — saving your most important relationships with your family, your former spouse, and yourself.
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