In today’s episode, we are joined by a lifelong trainer and athlete Andrew Read as he talks about his program 28-day Challenge. Andrew talks through how important going back to the basics is and some of the necessary skills to influence your success at living a healthy lifestyle.

4:19 Creating A Mindset Component
5:32 Going Back To The Basics Matters
12:40 Understand How You Learn Best.
15:32 Cut To The Chase
17:35 Your Body Is Built For Walking.
20:59 Consistency Makes The Biggest Difference.
23:53 Starting From Scratch
25:02 Give It Time
28:10 Carrot And Stick Approach
31:46 Identify What Triggers Your Bad Habits And Make A Plan
35:35: Change Starts With You
37:22 Asking the Right Questions

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Transcription:

Podcast Intro:
Welcome to the Effortless Swimming podcast, the show that helps swimmers and triathletes love the water, become a better swimmer, and live a better life. Here’s your host, Brenton Ford.

Brenton Ford:
Welcome to the Effortless Swimming podcast. My guest today is Andrew Reid. Andrew has been on the podcast before. He’s a personal trainer, and one of the things I really like about Andrew is he cuts to the chase. And on this episode today we talk about why it’s useful to have someone in your life, a coach, a friend, a partner, who can cut to the chase and be critical of some of the things that you are doing to help you improve and help you become a better person.

Brenton Ford:
We also talk about some of the triggers that can lead you to resort to old habits that you want to avoid, whether that’s eating poorly, missing workouts or conducting yourself in a way that you don’t want to conduct yourself. We also talk about a way that you can increase the amount of time that you spend active during the week, and there’s one simple exercise that anyone can do to stay healthier, not increase the load or the intensity of their training, but one way that he recommends to most of his clients to stay healthier in general, but a very, very simple way.

Brenton Ford:
So let’s get into the episode. If you’ve been listening to this podcast for a while and you haven’t left us a review on the iTunes store, then I would love it if you left us an honest review. That’s all I ask of you. Please leave an honest review on the iTunes store. Let’s get straight into the episode.

Brenton Ford:
Andrew, thanks so much for joining me on the podcast. You were on the podcast probably four or five years ago, I think it was. I came across you through a couple of friends who said, “This guy is a great strength and conditioning coach who knows his stuff and you should speak to him.” That’s how we got in contact. At the moment you’re writing a book. Do want to talk a little bit about that and what you’re looking at at the moment with the situation of the world and where you think people are going wrong and some things that you think people are doing right? I think that’d be a good place to start.

Andrew Read:
Yeah, and weirdly that’s actually kind of exactly what the book is. I run a program called the 28 Day Challenge. It’s 28 days and I called it the 28 Day Challenge. But I came up that because I didn’t want to have to talk to clients about food and when they should go to bed, like all the basic stuff that from a professional viewpoint you just kind of think, “Well, of course, everyone knows to do this.” But as it turns out, not everyone knows that they need seven or eight hours of sleep every night. Most people, when you’re talking about aggressive people with a lot of ambition and they’re hardworking corporate types, CFO kind of people, the guys who’ve done Ironman and stuff like that, they don’t normally want to rest. They will actually overwork themselves, and so they think it’s normal to sleep five hours a night and they wonder why they can’t get anywhere.

Andrew Read:
I developed this 28 day challenge to teach them what the basics really were and the results were really good. There is a manual that goes with it which is including the workout plan and there’s a score sheet for it and stuff. It’s like 40 pages as a PDF, which is really about 20 to 25 pages of material. I started thinking, “Well, actually this is something that I should expand on. Originally it was 40 plus, but I think looking at massive age groups, it’s 35 for men and 30 for women in most sports, and so really that’s kind of the age group it’s aimed at. It is more targeted towards men than women because women have, there are some specifics about a diet that coincide with their menstrual cycle, but beyond that, the rest of it is actually the same.

Andrew Read:
As I’ve been writing it, it’s funny that I’ve said to all my clients, and I’ve got about 60 clients right now. So even during this corona thing, nothing’s really changed for me. The only thing that’s changed is obviously some people working out at home with either very limited equipment or no equipment, compared to having access to a gym. But obviously I told all my clients, “I think this is the best opportunity that many of you are ever going to have to get a six pack.”

Andrew Read:
This is one of the things we work on quite a lot and I’m developing this as well. I’m working with a Ph.D. level therapist on creating a mindset component. It’ll be a 12-month training plan that comes with a monthly mindset component, just to help people be as successful as possible. But we work very much on reframing things. So instead of saying things like, “Oh, I can’t go to my favorite restaurant,” fantastic. I can’t go out to eat. I have to prepare all my food for myself now. “Takeaway is limited, all these things are limited.” Well, what a great opportunity to get as lean as possible right now because you can absolutely control everything you eat.

Andrew Read:
There’s no more saying, “Because of this work meeting I couldn’t eat well,” or, “I had to travel for it.” Well, there’s none of that, either. So everyone right now has this unprecedented opportunity and because of the lack of commuting time for a lot of people, they’re saving anywhere up to two hours a day for some people. A lot of my guys are actually training twice a day now, so I’ve got 40 to 50-year-old guys training twice a day, which most people would tell you is impossible, but it’s not. The difference is that because we’re really controlling sleep, food, stress levels and we’re saying that ambition before.

Andrew Read:
I have a guy who works at Microsoft. He works in data security in the iCloud department, right? He started this job literally the week before everyone got sent home to work from home. So he’s got a brand new job, he’s got new customers, he’s got homeschooling, he’s got all this other stuff going on, and he’s fairly senior. The guy is working 16 hours a day. Well, how do you think he was coping with that? Probably not very well.

Andrew Read:
Again, we came back to what the basics of the book were, and the basics of the book are, hey, I need you to get this much sleep every night. Not even from an athletic perspective, but just if you want to make the process of sleep restore memory properly when we sleep, we repair cellular damage, when we sleep. There are links that show that Alzheimer’s risk is increased when sleep goes down and obesity risk doubles under six hours a night. Motor control under six hours of sleep a night goes down to the same level as if you were .05 blood alcohol content, which is quite scary when you think, if you’re driving around, the majority of people driving around near you have probably had six hours or less of sleep. They’re basically as impaired as if they were too drunk to drive in our country. It’s pretty scary, right?

Brenton Ford:
Yeah.

Andrew Read:
And then there are other people doing that who’ve got their kids in the car which you hope they would never drink drive with their kids in the car, but they’re basically doing the same thing. So sleep is really important and being able to say to this guy, and again, reframing, going, “Okay, so let’s look at it from another perspective. I get that you’re ambitious. I get you’ve got a new job. I get there’s a lot of stress going on right now and you want to keep your job because, let’s be honest, a lot of people are out of work right now. But if you keep going at 16 hour days, how long is that going to last? You’re going to blow to pieces in a couple of weeks. If you have staff on your team doing that, what would you say to them?” He’d go, “Well, I’d tell them to go sleep.” Well, why is that good enough for the staff and not for you?

Andrew Read:
Being able to talk to people and show them what’s important, the book is really helpful for that, or the manual for the 28-day challenge gives that framework because all these guys have done that. But the book will actually be available more widely. It’ll go just straight through my website. People will be able to download it for free so they’ve got that information always.

Brenton Ford:
It’s so true about the stuff that you think most people know, they don’t know. What I’m thinking about that is with swimming, it’s something I’ve been doing since I was a real young kid. You think that it’s just common knowledge. But when I look at, say, the videos or the podcasts that I’ve done, the ones where I’m talking about the most basic things, they’re the ones that people have found most helpful. Like, I did a video about breathing and that one just went. It was really, really popular. And I thought, “But it’s just so simple.”

Brenton Ford:
But that’s it. It’s these real fundamentals, these real basics that a lot of people don’t actually know, especially if they have never had a coach or they’ve never had someone talk to them about sleep or diet. They just don’t know that stuff, and if you can get those fundamentals right and get the basics right, then you are on such a good platform to then be able to improve all the other aspects of your life. It’s so much easier. Whereas if you don’t get those fundamentals right, I mean, you’re not building a house on rock at all. It’s not going to last.

Andrew Read:
I remember training with John Van Wisse and I swam at school. Not at a super high level, but reasonably, and we were always taught to breathe three strokes. That was what I had always done and I went and did some sessions with John and he said, “Breathe every two.” I said, “But I’m only going to breathe one side then and blah, blah, blah.” He goes, “Look, it’s an aerobic sport. You need oxygen. Get the oxygen in. Full stop.” It totally transformed my swimming. Such a small tip.

Andrew Read:
It’s the same with, I come in, I had this guy. He was a world champion powerlifter and I had written in his program that I wanted him to do SLDL which in my head stands for single leg deadlift. In his world, it stands for stiff-legged deadlift. He’s a really strong guy, but I would look at the weight that he had lifted and for how many reps and I’d be like, “Wow, that’s crazy kind of numbers for that exercise.” And he said to me, “Really? Because I feel like it’s actually down a bit and blah, blah, blah.”

Andrew Read:
It wasn’t until we went back and forth a few times I realized, wait, you’re talking about something completely different. So even little things like that. I’ll say, “This exercise.” A burpee is another great example. A burpee in my head always has a push up in it. If it doesn’t have a pushup, it’s called a squat thrust. But you get people now who say, “Do you want me to do burpees with or without the push-ups?” There’s only one way, but most people don’t even know that. There’s another exercise called something completely different.

Andrew Read:
For me, always remembering that hey, I have to make sure that I’m looking at things from their eyes. When you speak to someone about something for the first time, something as simple as keeping your wrist straight, can you see me on the video? If I grip something, I’ll grab my water bottle. If I grip something, so this is straight. It looks straight, right? But look at the angle of my knuckles. My hand’s actually pointing back this way. Straight is here, like the hand that I would punch someone with. Which, if you’re swimming with paddles, it’s the same hand, right? Because I wouldn’t swim like that. Straight is straight. But when you tell someone you want them to hold their wrist straight when they’re doing something, they’ll immediately revert to this wrong position. But this creates problems either at the elbow or the shoulder later on.

Andrew Read:
It actually takes time to take pitches and point hours of things and circle things and all this kind of stuff so people actually understand, but the little basic things, for a lot of people, like you say, who come to things as an adult without any coaching, it’s very difficult for them because they’re things that they’ve always assumed. I get this from customers all the time, even now online remotely with video and stuff like that, saying, “I’ve never had someone coach me as strictly as you.” Well, what the hell were you paying for?

Andrew Read:
Imagine someone came to swim coaching and you just let them flop up and down the lane however they wanted to every single time they came. It’s not really going to be very effective, right? One of the big disconnects I see with people is people would very clearly understand the technique and form involved in swimming. They are starting to understand there’s form involved with running. It’s a little bit slow, but people are starting to go, “Okay, there’s probably some shapes that we need to be making when we do this.” If we’re talking martial arts, it’s a very defined form of what it should look like. Then we get to weightlifting or something and people think “Oh, just do it however you want.”

Andrew Read:
Everything physical should have a fairly strict form and body shapes will change, but a neutral spine’s a neutral spine, regardless of how long your spine is. Getting people to understand this or even getting coaches to explain it is sometimes a bit of a slow process.

Brenton Ford:
It’s funny you mention about the wrist. In freestyle in swimming, the same thing. You need that to be flat. So many people actually have it that way, as well. They’re trying to pull through the water at a slight angle. It’s a very slight difference, but it makes a world of difference just getting that part right. When I do the analysis with people in our membership, I’ll send videos sort of every two or three weeks. I’m being quite particular about some of the things that they’re doing, but there’s a reason for it. It’s like, well, if you get this part right, it’s this one percentage that overtime is going to add up, might stop you from getting injured.

Brenton Ford:
Yeah, it’s being particular, and certainly, you’ve got to develop that eye for it, which we do when you’re working that much and that closely with people. But yeah, there’s so much to it that if you’ve got someone like yourself looking at all those finer details, that’s what’s going to stop you from not being able to do those exercises three months down the track when you injure yourself, and just learning it right.

Brenton Ford:
I did like a lifting class in New South Wales when I was there with a friend and the guy, I think he was a powerlifter. He was a very good coach. There were maybe five of us in there and I wasn’t using any weights. I was just using the bar, the most basic stuff. I started to get them right, maybe 80% right just without any weights, but had I have gone for any sort of weight, with these sort of movements it would not have helped at all, just even putting-

Andrew Read:
Certainly.

Brenton Ford:
That’s where the technique makes a big difference.

Andrew Read:
You must see with swimming as well. Intensity, obviously, in swimming is speed, right? Or maybe volume kind of adds that extra complexity. But I coach motorcycle riding as well and to me, actually, because the group that I work for, they call the California Superbike School, they’ve probably got the most detailed coaching process out of any group I’ve ever seen. To get in as a coach is super difficult. There’s constant education that has to happen. It’s almost like having, when I say another job, I don’t mean every now and then. I mean you need to spend a couple of hours every single week working on this stuff to even stay good enough to stay in.

Andrew Read:
But someone could do something slowly and the moment they start adding speed, which is what the intensity is on the racetrack, it all just falls to pieces. People go, “Oh, well, it’s because I’m going slower I can’t do it right.” Mate, if you can’t do it at 60 km an hour, you’re not going to do it at 160.

Brenton Ford:
No.

Andrew Read:
I guarantee when your eyes are as big as dinner plates and you’re worried about crashing, you’re definitely not going to do the right thing at that point. If you can’t do it light, you’re not going to do it heavy. Full stop.

Brenton Ford:
Yeah, exactly right. One of the things I like about the things that you post is you do cut the crap. You’re happy to say what you think and speak your mind, which I think is great. One of the things that I do enjoy you talking about is you’re a big proponent of just getting out and going for a walk. Just walk and get some movement going. Where does that stem from for you? Why is that such a big proponent of what people should be doing? And we always, at that point where you just sort of cut to the chase and am happy to speak your mind, or is it something that you got sick of dancing around the topic?

Andrew Read:
No, it’s pretty much always gotten me in trouble. Look, in fairness to the way these… If you come to a training session, a group training environment, most classes are an hour in most gym setups. Let’s say we’ve got a dozen people. Well, that means realistically I’m only going to get five minutes with each person, right?

Andrew Read:
Now, someone who’s really good and doesn’t need much help, maybe actually they’re just going to get one or two minutes so I can spend a couple of bonus minutes with someone else. But on average, five minutes per person. I don’t have time to ask you how you feel and are you enjoying it. I need to actually get you to do the right thing as quickly as possible so you actually get the result you’re paying for, which is to get fitter, stronger, leaner, faster, whatever it happens to be.

Andrew Read:
So I can’t afford to waste the time just beating around the bush. I have to come to the point. That’s kind of how it developed and now probably is very developed to the point where it’s difficult. Why do I say difficult? As in difficult for new people to deal with it because most people will be used to a little bit of softening, kind of social norms sort of stuff beforehand. They might send me an email like this and then get back a one-sentence reply which will be me going, “This is the biggest problem and this is what I want to address.” That makes them a little while to get used to it.

Andrew Read:
In terms of the walking stuff, I think over time I’ve started just thinking, well, we’ve been here for about a million years, roughly, in this shape. There hasn’t been any huge change in our body shape for about 650,000 years. What are the things that made the human body the human body? A bipedal stance is one of them, and the ability to sweat. We’ve got a whole bunch of things that kind of set us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. But because some of those adaptations, like the shape of the heel, is meant to be quite efficient so you can rock and save energy. We have glutes. You can’t actually stand fully upright without glutes. You cannot run without glutes. Even though a monkey can stand upright, don’t have glutes as we do, so they cannot run.

Andrew Read:
The shape of the toes, the length of the Achilles tendon. There’s even a ligament in the base of your head called the nuchal, N-U-C-H-A-L, which might be nuchal depending on the school of biology. But it stops your head doing this when you run. No other primate has that because they cannot run. So that’s a specific adaptation.

Andrew Read:
When I started looking at, okay, the human body is designed for this, I need to get people, instead of trying to take their square peg body and trying to bash it into a round hole, we need to at least honor the things that make us human. The things that made us human and really set us apart from an evolutionary perspective were being able to forage for food for long periods of time in hot temperatures. So when a lion or something might have to rest under a tree, because of our bipedal stance, we don’t cop as much heat because we’re upright. The air, higher up off the ground, is cooler. So it means actually we’re not overheating as much, plus we sweat. We’ve got a really powerful aerobic system. We’re designed to move for five to eight hours a day. It’s estimated that foraging for food for our ancestors was 15 to 18 km of movement a day.

Andrew Read:
You start to put into perspective when people go, “I’m really active.” Mate, you do one hour of exercise seven days a week. That’s less than 4% of your week. I don’t really think we can count that as active. If we can add an hour of walking on a day, it’s still not a terrible amount, but now we’re up to 8% at least. So we stand to actually have a little bit more on our side to work with.

Andrew Read:
So that was the first thing. I started to go, well okay, what’s the body designed for? And if you look at some of the things we can do like, while we’re very efficient cycling, for instance, we’re not designed to cycle. Our spines don’t actually like being bent over for long periods of time and we actually spend a lot of time sitting down without spine being bent over anyway. You see this a lot with guys in my age group. We start to get a bit older and then gravitate away from something like running because they’ve hurt themselves too many times because they haven’t done all this kind of resiliency work, and they gravitate toward cycling and wonder why their back hurts. Because it’s not designed to do that, mate. You sit down all day long. You should have chosen a leisure activity that wasn’t sitting down. You probably actually need something that involves standing up.

Andrew Read:
Once you start to add it all together and you start going, “Okay.” Swimming, for instance? Awesome. And I think backstroke might actually be the most effective thing you could do to reverse all of the sitting down that people do. It gets you in a straight line and gets you working all the muscles that go that way, which is not something we do very often. And lastly, if you get a lot of reps in, which is not something you can do with anything else.

Brenton Ford:
Yeah, very true.

Andrew Read:
Yeah, and then when we look at what is most important, so the one fitness industry wants to sell you a neatly packaged plan because it has to be something new because that’s a really powerful sales tool. New and improved always beats, in people’s minds, old and trustworthy, for some reason. Never mind that walking’s been around for a million years. I’m going to give you a 20 minute Tabata class or something that’s going to be more effective.

Andrew Read:
Well, for a single class you might burn more calories, but I can tell you now that if you train that hard, like a pump class or a high-intensity speeding class or any of the normal group exercise kind of things, you can’t do that seven days a week and you can’t do it seven days a week for the rest of your life. When we look at what makes the biggest difference for people, it’s not intensity. It’s consistency that makes the biggest difference.

Andrew Read:
If you and I are picking, and this is a good time to talk about this, if we’re picking a zombie apocalypse team, at the end of the year we have to pick out a team. I have a guy who trains seven days a week at 60 to 70% year-round. He gets, we’ll call it six days a week because that gives us 300 sessions, roughly, for the year. If your guy trains flat out three days a week, he only has 150 sessions for the year, right?

Andrew Read:
Now, he might work harder during his session, but when you’re coming to pick your guy who’s going to be durable, long-lasting, able to just keep doing, like diesel-powered, chugging along, I’m picking the 300 session guy every single time. When you start adding that up over 20, 30, 40 years, you start to realize the real power of getting in 250 to 300 workouts a year for 10 years is pretty powerful.

Andrew Read:
In the same period of time, the three days a week guy, if it’s three days a week for five years, he gets 150 sessions times five years. What’s that, 7,500? 750, sorry. No, 7,500, yeah. My guy, in the same period of time, essentially has 10 years of training in a five year period compared to the same guy. The only way you’re going to get there is with lower intensity stuff.

Andrew Read:
Even when you look at elite athletes like people would look at like a Kipchoge at the moment and go, “This many four-minute K’s or something.” Yeah, but the four-minute K thing is like 60% of his max heart rate. He could have had a sleep at that heart rate, that’s how to fit he is. But people see it and they think, “Well, that’s how fast I need to be running.” For most people, you need to be running more like six to seven-minute kilometers for a similar effort.

Andrew Read:
And you see it in swimming. How do you work on technique in swimming if they’re working 100% all the time? It’s impossible. You actually have to dial them back so they can work on the technique, right? It’s all about learning that intensity and getting the consistency.

Brenton Ford:
Yeah, that’s exactly right. I’m speaking with a guy, Dan Smith, who was on the Olympic team a couple of years back. He looked at his stroke and thought, “I’ve just got to fix this. There’s so much wrong with it that I can do a lot better.” And for him, at that Olympic level, he was something like six to nine months where he did very little fast swimming and it was just all slow. A lot of drills, a lot of technique work, and he just had to start from scratch then. I just went completely back to basics. Then was building up to eventually doing that at higher intensities and at a faster speed, but even for him, he couldn’t sustain it at those higher speeds straight away. It took him a while to build it up, and that’s someone who’s at that top level. So to think you’re not going to have to do that if you’re just an average Joe, you’re kidding yourself. You’ve got to just really come back to basics and know that it’s that more long-term approach that is going to help you going forward.

Brenton Ford:
As a coach, when I first started, I thought someone should be able to pick the things that I’m telling them or teaching them, pick it up straight away, and be able to do that. But you get a little bit smarter, get a little bit older, and you start to figure out, okay, this stuff takes time. It takes you at least 66 days to change a habit and it’s not always going to feel good and you’re going through this cycle of emotions and how your body adapts to it. You get a little bit smarter that way and that, I think, really helps as a coach approaching these things, and if you can share that with the people that you are coaching it makes a big difference for them, knowing what they’re going to go through. And maybe the frustrations of, “I want to push hard. I’m feeling good.” But you’ve got to bring them back a little bit sometimes.

Andrew Read:
Yeah, have it building, that’s a really interesting thing for me. I’ve got guys and we’re obviously working on food and basic stuff like that all the time, and the food’s really tricky. Because if you think about when you were little, so my background is in my household I got a dollar for pocket money every week when I was little. That’s how old I am. That was probably worth about 20 bucks today. But I got a dollar. If I got a dollar I could have a candy bar, like a Snickers or a Mars bar or something. If I didn’t have the chocolate, I got $2, right? But you see the perceived value of it. It’s worth double, right? So there was never really junk in our house. We had a very limited amount of junk food. It would come out for Easter or Christmas or a birthday or something like that, but again, in fairly limited quantities.

Andrew Read:
Then when I did Ironman, and for people who have done Ironman, you know you can eat whatever you want. I remember there was a point in the peak weeks where I was eating a family-sized chocolate bar a day and still losing half a kilo a week. I’m not carrying a huge amount of extra fat, but I was still losing weight every week.

Andrew Read:
So I have this feast or famine kind of thing with junk food. But when I was little it was really valuable. It was coveted by me and my brother. My partner is in the exact same boat. But if I did something really successful, maybe you did get a treat. Like if you had a really big win at a sporting event or something, maybe you got taken to McDonald’s or something afterward. But also, if you had a really bad day. I remember one day I was getting off the tram in Melbourne. It was school time, so the train isn’t packed, and I was little. I was only in grade five or something, and the tram started moving before I’d fully gotten off, and I actually had to jump off a moving tram. I was a bit banged up. I didn’t break anything but I was a bit banged up. I got taken to McDonald’s for that, too.

Andrew Read:
So good and bad in my house, there was this food reward. Now, I’m lucky in that because my job actually revolves somewhat around how I look, I am conscious of what I eat all the time. So I’ve broken most of that stuff, but it’s still there to look at. But if you have, like some of my clients, they’re in their 40s, they’re overweight, they’ve basically always been overweight, you’re not going to break habits revolving around food in a week, a month, two months, three months. It’s going to take a while.

Andrew Read:
One of the things we work on at the moment, and this is a mindset thing as well, is I feel like I’ve had this conversation with half a dozen guys already this week, is that you need to be both carrot and the stick at all times, which is a very difficult balancing act. Because while I need to be tough on myself and try to always go to a higher level, try to make myself better, that’s one of the things we work on all the time is we’re not just making ourselves physically better. We’re actually using this to create leverage for the rest of our lives. To create more discipline, better relationships, to be more clear-headed at work and earn more money. We’re actually using this as the springboard for everything because the reality is, the only thing you can really control in life is what goes in your mouth and how you treat your body.

Andrew Read:
You can’t control it, and this thing has shown us that. Coronavirus has shown us you can have zero control over anything else other than how you treat your body. So I need to be tough on myself, but at the same time I’ve got to be realistic and say, “I’m not breaking 40 years of habits in the first week of lockdown.” That’s just not going to happen. There are going to be slip-ups, but then the slip-ups should be, and it’s Wednesday for us today, very typical in an early diet setting someone would get to Wednesday or Thursday, having done the early part of the week great, and then fall off the wagon for whatever reason.

Andrew Read:
We also work on identifying the triggers that set off that change in habit, and then making plans around them. So they fall off the wagon and instead of waiting until Monday, because that’s a really common thing is to go, “I’ll start again Monday.” Then it’s next Monday, the Monday after, the Monday after. Next thing you know it’s a year later and actually you’re more out of shape than you are now. But we go straight back to the plan at the very next meal.

Andrew Read:
It doesn’t matter if you wake up and you had chocolate chip cookies for breakfast. Okay, I can get it. You saw the news, the news was upsetting. In Australia today, we woke up to hear four police officers were killed overnight on a freeway. My partner’s a firefighter. She was on the night shift last night. She didn’t go to that but at her station, one of the other trucks did. So she saw the guys coming back from that job. They had to fill in at other stations to cover all the other people that went. It’s affected the whole community in emergency services.

Andrew Read:
I woke up this morning and actually the first thing I saw was that on the news and I messaged her straight away to make sure she was okay. But it would be really normal under those sort of circumstances, or when you’re reading some of this stuff about coronavirus or what’s going on in the U.S., it’s very easy to get upset and get pulled out of your winner’s mindset where you’re focused and disciplined and head towards that emotional side.

Andrew Read:
Yeah, I get it. This is going to happen. That’s okay. Go straight back to the plan next time and let’s start making a strategy around it because once you identify what it is. For me, watching the news, I’m down to about 10 minutes at night now. I watch it first thing in the morning while I’m having breakfast, which is a couple of minutes, and then I watch it for 10 minutes at night. I get all the information I need and then it gets turned off. Because otherwise, it’s too easy to get distracted by the whole thing and get pulled into the stuff you see on social media with all of a sudden, everyone’s a virus expert and they’re a political pundit, and you know what I mean?

Brenton Ford:
Yeah.

Andrew Read:
It’s not worth it. It’s very important with habit-building that people are both tough on themselves and easy at the same time because, in a lot of cases, when you look at the psychology of it it’s not as simple as, “I wanted the chocolate bar.” It might be, “I wanted the chocolate bar because every time I got bullied at high school, and I got bullied non-stop for three years or something, but that was what I got when I came home crying because of my mom. So now when I feel bad my instant reaction is I want that chocolate bar because that’s what I associate with being made to feel better as a kid.”

Brenton Ford:
Do you find identifying those triggers for people and showing them this is why you’re resorting to that, does that give them a little bit more power to be able to go, “Okay, yeah, I can see what’s happening here,” and then they can stop it?

Andrew Read:
Yeah, so as I say, we do a thing called a risk, obstacle, and trigger document. Christmas is a really good example. People will say, “I’ve got seven office Christmas parties coming up.” Okay, so we know the temptation in groups. And this is not individual, this is everybody. They tend to overeat and they tend to over-drink. So let’s create some strategies around that.

Andrew Read:
The first one always with the alcohol is just to say to people, “No, I drove.” Because no one will tempt you to drink if they know you’re driving. Well, no one sane and mature, anyway. The next one actually is, and we’ve had people have to call out some of their friends were like, “No, I had a drink. What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you want to have a drink?” You’re, hang on. Are you my friend, like the person who’s supposed to be on my side, telling me to do something that’s actually going to make me endanger other people when I go drive home later on? Are you genuinely my friend or not? Because no friend would ever say that to someone. Having people realize things like that, that’s really important.

Andrew Read:
But once you identify it, you can make a plan. Otherwise, you’re just reactive to everything. Sitting down and actually writing out the risks and triggers, there’s always food ones. We have alcohol. There can be social situations that drive some of that stuff as well. They can be work. Some people avoid going to sleep. Some people avoid workouts. Once we start to figure out where people are falling down, then we have a base scoring system in the 28-day challenge.

Andrew Read:
For workout for the week, you should get one point a day. You should get six points for the week. If you come to me and you say, “Well, I got two points,” and you’re getting two points consistently week after week, well, there’s a problem with the workouts. We get four meals a day, so you get 28 points for food. If you come along and you say, “Well, I got an 11 for food,” well, we’ve got some problems. But if you’re telling me you’re getting 24 for food and 2 for workouts, it’s pretty easy to figure out where the problem is.

Andrew Read:
Once we can identify the problems, which is really what the point system does, it shows us where the biggest problems for things are, then we can start to create some strategies around them. Once you’re aware of them and you’ve made some plans, and this is again, with habit building, you’re not going to be successful every time. You go in your social situation, you might slip up the first three, four, five, 10, whatever times. But each time you do, it’s important not to just tuck your hands in the air and say, “Oh well, I was at a party, ha, ha, ha, had a drink.”

Andrew Read:
Well, if you really want to make the change, we need a new plan. The thing you did, you didn’t quite do well enough. It needs to be tweaked somewhere. You might end up with, if we’re talking drinking in a social situation, maybe it’s actually version eight, version nine, version 13, 14, 15, whatever. But always remembering to always go back to the plan. You don’t just tuck your hands in the air and say, “Oh, sorry, I had two packs of tin cans and 16 beers.” Well, okay, let’s get back to the plan and figure it out because otherwise, you’re just reacting to stuff the whole time.

Andrew Read:
It’s not until people are aware of the problem, so that’s always the biggest issue is getting them for themselves to be aware that it’s a problem, but then getting them to start thinking about how they can fix the problem. Because it’s all good if I tell you, “You need to stop drinking when you go out on a Friday night,” right? It’s only good if you say to me, “I want to stop drinking on Friday night,” and I go, “Okay, well, what are you going to do about that?” I can’t actually tell you what to do. You have to figure out how to do it.

Andrew Read:
This is like in the 28-day challenge. I give you how to eat, what a meal should look like, but I never tell you on day one, week one you should eat three eggs and 100 grams of smoked salmon or something. Because on day 29, when the program finishes and I’m not there to tell you what to eat, how do you know why you were eating what you had to eat for breakfast every day? It only works if you actually know how to fit it all into your life.

Andrew Read:
When you look at, like, Biggest Loser is a good example. The people who do well on Biggest Loser, they come out and they basically fail straight away, because they don’t have to control anything in the house. There’s no kids, no work, no distractions. They’ve got time to exercise, they’ve got time to cook their food. They’ve got all the available stuff in front of them with no distractions. And then we put them back into their life. They never got taught how to make it fit into their regular life. Well, of course, they’re going to fail.

Andrew Read:
When your building stuff with people, you’ve got to make them aware of it, and then they have to answer the question as to how they’re going to make it work. Because I can tell you what works for me, but my life isn’t your life. We’ve got different lives. I can help you because I can say, “I’ve got 40 guys and 13 of them have exact same problem and here’s what they did. Maybe you should try this, too.” But I will never say, “You need to do this.” That’s not my job.

Andrew Read:
We’ve had it building stuff. It’s very different, too, like if you were lifting weights I would just flat out say, “I need you to do this.” That’s different. But when we’re talking about lifestyle, habit stuff, it’s no good for me to tell you what to do. You have to come to that realization yourself. Again, the only way to make that happen is to learn to become aware of it in the first place.

Brenton Ford:
I was talking about this before, but one of the best articles I ever read about coaching was written about a guy called Bill [Sweetnam 00:37:30] and how he’s changed his approach to coaching. What he does now, and I sort of tell this to anyone who is a swim coach, what he does now is instead of telling people, “Do another 200. You were too slow. You should have gone 222, you were too slow,” he asks them questions now. He’s diving into making them realize where they went wrong or what they did right and then getting them to come up with those solutions. So all right, you missed your times here. Where do you think you could have found those three seconds? And do you think if you do another two of these that are going to help you make the Olympic team?

Brenton Ford:
He’s getting them to come up with the solutions and getting them to think about it, and that’s what I try to do, even with the younger kids that I sometimes coach. You sort of need to tell them, probably more so than the adults, but if you’re asking the right questions, they are going to become so much more knowledgeable and take ownership of those things and for anything that comes down to lifestyle, when there’s not a coach there, they’ve got the tools there to be able to ask themselves the right questions and pick up where they are making the right decisions or not.

Andrew Read:
This is when I mentioned the motorbike school before, the California Superbike School, that’s our coaching process. When I say it’s the best in the world, I mean we’re following, and the guy who came up with it is not an Olympic-level swim coach. He’s just a motorbike junkie in the U.S. He’s a California surfer dude. But we’ll do exactly that. So you’ll follow a student around and you’ll see them maybe offline in a corner.

Andrew Read:
When you come in and say, “How was that session?” And they’ll say, “Oh, it was great. Wow, that drill was amazing.” And I might say, because I want to draw their attention to something, “Was that the line you wanted to return for?” “Oh, yeah, yeah. That’s totally where I wanted to be.” “Well, were you able to get on the throttle pad coming out of that corner and actually accelerate down towards the next corner effectively?” “Oh. No, now that you mention it, yeah, I was probably out a little bit wide and I would have run off if I’d come on the throttle.”

Andrew Read:
But it’s only when you make them aware of it, when you draw their attention to something, that they can actually create an answer for themselves. I’ve had people go out and the racetrack’s pretty easy because it’s the same every time. So you can say to someone, “I want you to go out and tell me which part of the ripple strip’s got the most rubber on it,” because that’s where the apex of the corner is supposed to be. And they’ll come in and say, “You know, it was like 3 meters past where I thought the apex of the corner was.” And what did that do to your line through the corner and blah, blah, blah?

Andrew Read:
So suddenly, by doing this questioning process, we actually can advance much faster. It can be very uncomfortable, though. I asked a customer this way. I said to him, “Who are you?” Because we were a little bit stuck, and he said, “Well, I don’t understand what you mean.” I said, “Well, who are you? Are you a spiritual being? No, you’re not. So let’s make this simple. If someone was going to describe you to me, what would they say? They’re not going to waste their time on physical appearance. They’re going to tell me about the essence of you. What are they going to say?” Dead silence. And this guy’s a middle-aged guy. He’s a hard worker, he’s successful, he’s married, he’s got, kids. Great. He’s lost himself along the way.

Andrew Read:
Also, if you’re trying to improve yourself or you want to go from point A to point B, you know where point B is. You’ve got definite numbers in your mind in terms of body fat, in terms of how many pull ups you can do, whatever it happens to be. But you don’t even know where point A is. Well, GPS only works if you’ve got two locations, right? How are we going to get to point B if you don’t even know where point A is? So even starting to draw his attention back to something as simple as what are the things that make you you, was really interesting because there was dead silence at the end of the call.

Brenton Ford:
I think as a coach if you can ask those questions, you’re doing him a massive favor. And yeah, it’s going to be uncomfortable may be for you or for him.

Andrew Read:
Super, super awkward. Super awkward.

Brenton Ford:
Yeah, that’s right. There’s a reason that it’s awkward. It’s like, “well, okay, I haven’t addressed this.” That’s why it’s so awkward. I think we’ll probably have to wrap it up here because our call’s about to end. So Andrew, thanks very much for being on the podcast. Let the people know where they can find out about you and maybe a little about the book that you’re writing and the books that you’ve currently got, as well.

Andrew Read:
My website is readpt.com. That’s R-E-A-D-P-T.com. I have a book called Run Strong on there which is basically the running version of everything I’ve just talked about. It’s about consistency and lower intensity work and it’s basically my journey from not having run for over 10 years to going through Ironman and having to figure out because they were putting out Ironman run plans, but there’s no plan to go from I have… Because they all assume you’ve done a lot of running prior to starting Ironman. My second ever triathlon was an Ironman. My first one was a half Ironman. To go from nothing to that, there are some steps that were missing, so I had to create them. That’s what Run Strong is all about.

My website’s readpt.com. On Facebook, you can just find me as Andrew Read. There is a public figure page and there is also a men’s fitness group which is, what is it called? It’s called Andrew Reid’s Strength and Conditioning for the Aging Athlete. It’s a bit of a mouthful at the moment. Basically you’ve got to be a 35 plus male, although I’m probably about to open it up to females as well pretty soon simply because I have both a male and a female group, and managing two is getting very difficult. So I’ll probably just merge them together.

Brenton Ford:
Sounds good. All right, thank you very much again, and I’ll put all those links in our show notes. So yeah, enjoy the rest of your downtime and with the rest of the book.

Podcast Outro:
Thanks for listening to the Effortless Swimming podcast. If you’d like us to help you become a faster, more efficient swimmer, go to www.effortlessswimming.com.


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