Clark Bartram on Sustainable Health through Mindset, Meals, Movement, Community & Supplementation


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Katie: Hello, and welcome to the “Wellness Mama” podcast. I’m Katie from wellnessmama.com and wellnesse.com, that’s Wellness with an E on the end. And I’m here today with a person known as “America’s Most Trusted Fitness Professional.” Clark Bartram has been helping many women become physically, emotionally, and spiritually fit for literally decades. And he has inspired millions of people around the world. He’s an elite master trainer, and he’s worked with people one-on-one through TV shows, through his programs. And he was honored by the National Fitness Hall of Fame in 2018 for his work with the Prison Fellowship with Operation Starting Line, with the Special Olympics, and many other organizations.

 

And even though he’s a fitness professional, we talk about a lot of other things in this very wide-ranging conversation. We talk most about mindset, which he and I agree is the most important factor for health. We also cover things like the minimum effective dose for fitness. What he actually tracks and what he doesn’t, and it might surprise you. His simple tools for knowing how much and what to eat. But then we really go deep on things like why fat diets don’t work and how to make sustainable shifts, and his five lifestyle principles for health in order: mindset, meals, movement, community, and supplementation. We go a lot of different directions from there, but very wide-ranging and fun conversation I think you will enjoy as much as I did. So let’s join Clark. Clark, welcome to the podcast.

 

Clark: I’m excited to be here. Thank you very much for having me, Katie.

 

Katie: Well, I’m excited to chat fitness with you. I know that’s your main world. But I have a note in my show notes that you have a gift for doing football trick shots, and I have to hear a little bit more about that.

 

Clark: Oh, okay, so someone’s been doing some research on me. Yeah, you know, I don’t even like to call them trick shots because it takes a lot of skill to do what I do. And it was from a friend of mine by the name of Big Bad Brad Johnson, he was a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. And he and I were just challenging each other one day to go off and do some of the stuff. And it just caught on.

 

So now I’m hooked on going out to the football field, taking a football, and thinking up some crazy idea, and trying to complete it. And, you know, in all honesty, sometimes it takes me three days to do some of these shots. So it’s a lot of fun. It’s a great way for me to meditate, too.

 

Katie: That’s really cool. I think you’re my first guest who has been able to do that. So new experience, that’s cool. And I know that your main world is fitness and that you’ve been in that world for a very long time. I’d love to hear just a little background for anyone who’s not familiar with you of how you got into that world and kind of what is your place in the fitness world.

 

Clark: So it all started for me, I believe, when I was in the Marine Corps. I used to…at lunchtime, when most guys would go to sleep, I would go off and do pull-ups and push-ups. And one day, my commanding officer saw me doing that and he said, “Hey, Bartram, we need you to help these two guys get in shape. And if you don’t, you know, they’re gonna get kicked out. So I’m depending on you to help them.” He just kind of dumped these guys on me.

 

And I really didn’t know what I was doing at the time other than just exercising. You know, I had no plan, I was just out there because I enjoyed the physical part of being a Marine. And lo and behold, they got in shape. And my commanding officer came to me and said, “Hey, great job, thank you very much.” And that was the end of it.

 

But when I got out, I needed to get a job. And there was a gym, a local gym, back then it was called Family Fitness Center, now it’s 24 Hour Fitness. But I went in and applied for a job, got a job as a trainer, kind of worked my way through the industry, management, owned a gym for a while. And then, you know, it just kind of grew from there and here I am today. That was 1984 when I started in the gym business.

 

Katie: Well, I feel like especially right now this is maybe a fall down point for a lot of people. And fitness, there’s so much information and misinformation out there and so much conflicting information out there, I feel like it can be hard to cut through some of that noise sometimes. And it can seem overwhelming for someone who maybe didn’t kind of always exist in that world to get started. So I’d love to start broad and talk about some of the biggest factors in your mind when it comes to fitness and fat loss and maintaining that over the long term.

 

Clark: Yeah. So I wanna appeal to your listener and just reach out and tell you, look, don’t overcomplicate this, and don’t compare yourself to anybody other than how you feel your best. Not even your 23-year-old version of yourself because the reality is none of us will be our 23-year-old self. We just need to really be satisfied with who we are today. But the problem comes, Katie, like you said, with all of this information that’s on the internet, everybody wants to position themselves as the expert.

 

I don’t even like to call myself an expert. I’m an enthusiast. I’m someone who loves connecting with people and someone who really loves seeing the potential in people come out when they thought it was too late, they were too old, they were too overweight, they didn’t have the genetics, or whatever lie we tell ourselves. I love seeing people rise from the ashes like the Phoenix and really become something.

 

So the first thing I would recommend, other than loving yourself today, is don’t go researching all of the latest greatest fads because they’re all late and great fads. There’s truth to a lot of what you’re being taught, but there’s a lot of marketing wrapped around what you’re being taught. And it comes down to something so basic, calories in versus calories out, that is the bottom line. Don’t get caught up in keto, and in Fritos, and whatever. Just make sure that you’re moving more today than you did yesterday and you’re being conscious about what it is that you’re putting in your body.

 

And I know people are saying, “Clark, if it was that easy, I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in today.” Well, it is that easy. And you don’t need to be in the position you’re in today if you’re just very aware of it. So I start by writing things down. Write down everything you eat today and don’t make it a perfect day, make it a real day. So now you have a realistic understanding of what it is that you’re doing, and then that’s where we start.

 

Katie: Yeah, so many directions we can go from there. But I love that point you brought up about not being an expert, just being an enthusiast. And I think…what I’ve said before is the only expert about your health is you. And I tell people all the time, you are your own primary health care provider, you cannot outsource that. You can absolutely work with partners to help you and that’s…I totally recommend that. But at the end of the day, you are the only person who has a vested interest, and you’re also the only person who can change it.

 

So learn from people. I’m a big believer, there’s something we can learn from every single person, experience, and if you can maintain that curiosity, but at the end of the day, that is on you. I also love that you brought up genetics because I think a lot of people use this as a scapegoat and say, like, “Oh, well, I just don’t have good genetics, and so I’m never gonna be this fit. Or I could never do that because I don’t have good genetics.” And I’ve challenged myself on that lately and proved my own self wrong. But I would love your take on the genetics and how much genetics come into play for health.

 

Clark: Well, it’s really interesting because I have a friend, for example, and he has four kids. And two of them, we would classify in our culture, and I’m not saying this is just the way we classify people, as overweight. Two are heavier, and two are very skinny. So I look at these kids, all from the same gene pool, who two are like the dad and two are like the mom as it relates to aesthetics and body structure.

 

So I sit there and I scratch my head and I’m like, “Why is this? How does this happen that people come from the same gene pool, but have a different predisposition to walk around at a certain weight, or a certain potential as it relates to how they could look?” So I don’t even have the answer to that question. But the answer to me is not focusing on that, not worrying about what my sister looks like, or what the genetics are, as it relates to how I feel about myself. Because every single one of us is a unique individual, and every single one of us has value that we bring to this world.

 

And we often overlook that value because we’re so focused on the aesthetic part, the outside part, we’re concerned with being heavier than we want to be or whatever. Now, I’m saying, you know, definitely focus on that if it’s something that bothers you, but I wouldn’t get too caught up in the genetics part because there’s nothing that you can do about it, you have your parents, that is the way that it is. Nothing is going to change, except the way that you frame it in your day-to-day approach to how you’re going to live your life.

 

But unfortunately, Katie, a lot of people will throw in the towel and say, “This is just the way I am, and that’s all there is to it, so I’m just gonna live my life.” But we can be healthier. And it doesn’t always need to manifest in a body that would suggest we’re healthy. You know what I’m saying? Like our western culture has pinpointed people that look a certain way as the measure of health when that’s not necessarily a true statement.

 

I’ve got a great story about a lady and it’s worth sharing here. I had a TV show called “American Health and Fitness.” And on that TV show, I had six models that worked with me on the show. Now, these ladies were what we would refer to in our culture as perfect, right? They had the body, they had the hair, they had the looks, they had all of that, but their attitude wasn’t matching what they looked like.

 

I go into the wardrobe department and on the right-hand side of the trailer are these six girls trying on wardrobe for the next segment that we’re gonna do. And then down on the left-hand side was our wardrobe consultant. She stood about 4 feet 11 inches tall, she was probably 200 pounds. She was as wide as she was tall, you know, she was a heavier girl, completely the opposite of the girls on this end.

 

So I walk in, and I’m listening to the conversation of these perfect girls, “Oh, this makes my butt look fat, oh, my gosh,” just complaining. And I was like, “Ooh, ooh.” So I smelled food on the other end. So I go down to the other end, her name was Sally, and she was cooking food. And I’m leading to a point here and I want everyone to hear this and put this in your heart when I say it.

 

She’s cooking the food. And I’m not a tall guy, right, I’m 5’8, but I’m looking down at her, and she’s just this little lady. And she’s cooking this food. It was chicken and red peppers and green peppers and yellow. It was a beautiful lunch. And I said, “Wow, that looks great.” And she looked at me…and there’s a scripture in the Bible, it says, “The eyes are the window to the soul.” She looked straight into my eyes, into my soul, she said, “Clark, this is the body that God gave me and I’m gonna live in it healthy.” I was like, “Yes, that’s the best statement I’ve ever heard from a human in my life.”

 

Now, we have these people that the world would look at as like, “Oh, my gosh, I wish I look like her.” And this woman who had the attitude of, “This is who I am. I’ve accepted who I am. I love who I am. But I’m gonna treat who I am healthy regardless of what anyone else might think about how I look.”

 

Katie: I love that. I think you’re right. So much of it goes back to mindset. And I have a 13-year-old daughter who…all my kids have ended up in different athletic pursuits just because they love it, and to them, it’s play. But I love watching her journey and how different it is from me as a 13-year-old, looking at my body at that point in my life much like those models and finding all the things wrong with it and being so self-critical because the world was telling me to look a certain way. And I was only comparing myself to that.

 

And then I see my daughter, who’s her body for her is a performance tool, and to her, it’s about, “What can my body do? And this is such a cool machine that I can get to do all these cool things.” And she’s not in that mindset of being self-critical because her body to her is this amazing way to express all these athletic endeavors and to have fun, and it’s about how she feels in her body. And I think that mindset shift is such an important key that often gets overlooked, to your point.

 

And I think I noticed that in my own life with my own health transitions of when I was internally asking myself the questions like, “Oh, well, why can’t I lose weight? Why is it so hard to work out?” My subconscious was answering those questions because that’s what I was asking. And it was like, “Oh, because you have thyroid disease. Oh, because you had six kids.” And when I changed my language, and how I related to myself to, “Why is this so much fun? And how can I get so strong? And all these things,” my subconscious started working on those questions.

 

And I think becoming aware of that can be such a profound shift because it’s easier and more fun to work out and to get stronger in a body that you appreciate and love than a body that you are critical toward. And your body responds so much differently. I also love that you brought up the calories in, calories out because I feel like this is a controversial point at times. And we certainly have the Keto world and a lot of other people making all these claims that would be somewhat contrary to that. I’m curious, do you look at macros at all?

 

For instance, one trend I’ve noticed is a lot of women actually seem to be under-eating and over depriving and not actually getting enough basic nutrients. Even more so maybe they’re overeating and getting too many calories, and then they’re getting into kind of like metabolic issues from, true, like actual under-eating. But do you look at macros at all? Is there any other granularity there, or do you just look at calories?

 

Clark: I don’t even look at calories or macros personally, what I do is I’m very instinctive. And I was having this conversation yesterday with a trainer at the gym. He said, “You know, you’ve got so many years of doing this, you really know your body. I watch your workouts, I don’t see you following any set patterns or routines.” And I think those patterns and routines can sometimes be the problem that we end up running into. So if you don’t count your macros that day, if you don’t count your calories, if you don’t weigh your food, then you’re like, “Oh, I can’t do this,” so you throw in the towel. And that’s not the way to do it.

 

You know…like you said earlier, Katie, we know better than anyone what is necessary. And we, on some level, even if we don’t have any education in nutrition or fitness or any of that, innately, we know when we’re doing something wrong to our body because our body is gonna respond to us in a way that is going to tell us, “Look, ooh, that wasn’t good to eat a whole bag of chips or have all of that sugar,” or some of these things that we know are empty calories and things that aren’t going to benefit us in the long run.

 

So I don’t recommend that people count calories or do any of that sort of thing. You know, a great measuring tool is this symbol on my hand here is the measuring tool, and I’m sure you’ve seen this before. The palm of your hand would be the amount of protein, that’s one macro, right? So the palm of your hand, the thickness, that’d be chicken, fish, steak, turkey, anything that’s protein. A clenched fist would be the size of your carbohydrates, potato, rice, and all of that sort of thing. And then tip of your thumb would be the amount of fat you would consume, butter, mayonnaise, that sort of thing.

 

So, all of our hands are gonna be different sizes, and that would determine the right amount of food for the individual. So we can now look at it on the plate. So if we go to a restaurant and the plate is this big, and we put our hand up and the protein is that big, we could get three meals from that. So then a little bit of discipline does need to be exercised at that point because if you can consume all of that, or you’ve been taught, right. There’s a new app that teaches us the psychology behind why we eat and gives it names.

 

So if we’re a guilt eater because some kid is starving in Africa, and we need to clean our plate, we need to reconcile that, and that goes back to the mindset part, and understand that that’s not the proper way to go. When we were being raised, our parents did the wrong thing for us in that regard. And I love…I wanna go back to what you said about your daughter with regards to everybody.

 

Everybody’s body is a performance tool. We all perform in a certain way. Every person on this planet is an athlete, you are an athlete, whether you kick a football thing or whatever you do. If you’re vacuuming the floor holding a baby at the same time, that is athletic. That is not an easy thing to do. But you’ve become so accustomed to doing that because that’s your day-to-day life. You take that for granted and you would never accept me saying, you are an athlete, you do very athletic stuff. You lift a box and you’re on one leg and you’re pushing it up. These are athletic things.

 

So your body is a performance tool, and you need to treat it as such. You’re performing something every single day. We just give these athletes who get paid millions of dollars to throw balls around the title, when every one of us is that person.

 

Katie: I love that you brought that up. I know, like, it took me a long time to actually be comfortable with using that term for myself, even though now I’m doing quite a bit of things that would be traditionally considered athletic. But I used to think like, “Oh, I’m not an athlete, I can’t do that.” And that was a mindset shift I had to face.

 

And also, to your point, I think you’re right, like, when we get these restrictive diets that are keto, or like no fat, or whatever it may be, like, to me, that’s not the optimal long-term version of health. My goal is to be metabolically flexible to have my body be able to adapt to whatever I throw at it, to be able to do any activity I wanna do. And occasionally, to eat the foods I wanna eat and not freak out about it.

 

To me, it’s not the picture of health if, “Oh, I can be perfectly healthy in this very narrow range as long as I’m eating absolutely no carbs, and I’m taking all these crazy supplements.” That’s not metabolic flexibility, that is really tightly controlled regiment, and the body is so adaptable.

 

I know there’s also a lot of debate when it comes to fitness and health, how much of that is diet-based, and how much of that is working out in the fitness side? And I’ve heard it said, you know, abs are made in the kitchen. I don’t know if that’s true. I’d love to hear your take on that. But how much of it goes back to what we eat versus how much working out we’re doing?

 

Clark: Well, let me first start with your statement about the sustainability part. You didn’t say that, but that’s what came to my mind. Any of these diets, any of these programs, anything that we find is the latest greatest, you must ask yourself, “Is this sustainable? Can I live this way?” Because it doesn’t matter if you kill yourself for six weeks, and you limit the amount of carbohydrates you’re taking in or whatever discipline you have added to your life.

 

If it’s not sustainable, it’s really in my opinion, not worth doing because we’ve heard so many people gaining the weight back after they lost it with these really hardcore diets. So with respect to abs are made in the kitchen, I can’t disagree with that. But there’s a statement that they say you can’t outwork a bad diet. Sure you can. But who wants to? Who wants to work that hard? I certainly don’t.

 

So we really need to look at it in a way that is practical, and sustainable. So what I teach the people that I work with are five lifestyle principles. And I don’t think that nutrition is the single most important factor. You have already touched on this, I’ve touched on this.

 

But the five lifestyle principles that I teach are in this specific order, mindset, meals, movement, community, and supplementation, in that order. You cannot put meals in front of mindset because, if your mind is not set, if you’re not prepared, if you’re not ready to go, “Okay, this guy said, it’s calories in versus calories out, I gotta do this.” So you’re setting your mind in order to do the discipline that it requires to go into the kitchen and eat the right food and denying yourself some of these pleasures that we have in our life.

 

And then movement being the third one. So if we have the meals and the movement together, a good way to get into a calorie deficit is this. If you need to get 500 calories out of your diet, don’t take it all out of your food, take 250 out of your food and add 250 in exercise or movement. Now we’ve got a 500 total, it makes sense, right? So we’re eliminating 250. Now, if you’ve written down what you’re eating, you know where you can get 250 calories out.

 

You look and you’re like, “Yeah, okay, I ate a bag of chips while I was watching TV, all I gotta do is get rid of that or cut that in half even.” So now you’re lowering the caloric intake. What can I do to increase? I could go five more minutes on the treadmill, or I could take a walk, or I could do jumping jacks.

 

I have a program called 3 Moves, 3 Minutes that’s blowing up on TikTok. People are amazed that in three minutes, you can change the way you exist on this planet, three minutes a day. There’s 168 hours in a week, there’s 1440 minutes in a day. I’m telling you, in three minutes a day, you can change the way you exist on this planet. I don’t care what anyone says. And people argue with me on TikTok all day long. They’re too smart for themselves. They think they’ve outsmarted the human body, and that tells me how stupid they are.

 

Katie: I appreciate so much the order you have on those. I think 100% in alignment that mindset is the key. And I’ve realized, like, you can’t punish yourself into health if you’re coming from that mindset. Your hormones will eventually win over these highly restrictive fat diets because, if you over restrict for too long, your hormones are stronger than your willpower, and if you’re not actually nourishing your body with whole foods from a place of love, you eventually will hit that wall.

 

And to your point, you can’t…I guess you’re right, you could outwork a bad diet. We’ve seen the videos of Michael Phelps when he was in the peak of his training, eating 12,000 calories a day of pizza and ice cream. None of us wanna go swim for eight hours a day in cold water to do that. And so that brings me to the point of what is maybe some of the minimum effective doses? Especially a lot of people listening are busy moms, and I think that’s one obstacle, at least excuse people give is, “I don’t have time to work out.” So what are some of these…I mean, three minutes is great. But what are some of these minimum effective doses of ways that we can incorporate that movement piece?

 

Clark: Well, if we’re intentional about our movement…so this is a lot of what I will…the words that I’ll use when I’m doing my TikTok videos and showing some basic things. For example, I’m sitting here, and we always stand up without even thinking about it because our subconscious handles that part of us. But if we go from the subconscious to the conscious, and realize, “I’m standing up, I’m using muscles in my legs, I’m using muscles in my core, I’m using balance to do this.”

 

So if I tell you, sit down and stand up 10 times with intention, understanding, “My legs are working right now, I’m squeezing my glutes, I’m sitting back down, my eyes are straight into the horizon, I’m balancing,” now, that movement that we do every single day for our entire life, never thinking about it because the subconscious is doing it, we make it conscious, now it becomes exercise. So you’re not doing anything different but changing the way you’re thinking about what you’re already doing.

 

It’s like breathing, Katie, it’s the same thing. We never consciously breathe because our subconscious handles it from the time we’re…the first thing we do when we’re born, and the last thing we do before we leave this Earth is, take a breath. And every day in between, we never need to think about it. But when we think about it, then it becomes something that can change our state. Throwing back to Tony Robbins, instantly, by… (breathe)

 

I promise, if everyone right now sits there and takes three deep breaths consciously and thinks about it, you will change the way you feel instantly. And this is not me coming up with this, this is fact, this is real, this is honest, and this is simple.

 

Katie: Yeah, and it’s such a great metric. And to your point, like, breathing is the thing we all do all day long, you can go a very short time without breathing before you die. So that’s an important factor we often ignore, but in the kind of the triage idea, if you improve your breathing, that’s something you’re doing all the time, that’s your oxygen, that’s everything related to your body.

 

And then I would say, like, also you can go a shorter time without water than without food. So hydration is an important key that often doesn’t get talked about enough. We sleep for a third of our lives. Sleep is an important thing that we often ignore, and we wanna hyper-focus on food or like trendy supplements when there’s all these other levers that are huge as far as making actual lasting, to your point, sustainable changes.

 

I think another thing that often gets talked about in the fitness community is the differences between men and women. And I see a lot of women who are afraid to work out too much, or lift heavy, or do certain things because they’re afraid they’re gonna get bulky. So I would love for you to speak to the differences between men and women. And maybe some of the specific movements that women can incorporate that aren’t gonna send them into, and I know this is a fallacy, but bodybuilder territory.

 

Clark: Well, you realize it’s a fallacy, but the majority of people don’t realize it’s a fallacy because, if it was easy to get, you know, jacked as we call it in this industry, everybody would be doing it with respect to all of the people who go to the gym because that’s the end goal.

 

But the reality, the difference between men and women is men have 12 to 15 times the amount of testosterone flowing through their body when you had mentioned hormones. You know, we have 12 to 15 times more testosterone flowing through our body than women do on an average. So, that in and of itself, it lends itself to men being more muscular than women being muscular.

 

But women need that testosterone no differently than men need the estrogen. And that’s another thing that, you know, a lot of guys will think, “Well, I don’t need any estrogen.” Yes, you do. You just need the right balance and the right proportion. And that’s what happens as we age is oftentimes, not specifically due to the aging process, but due to all sorts of factors like stress being the main one, those hormones get out of balance, and then we get into trouble.

 

And then, to your point a minute ago, we jump from one extreme to another, overlooking all of the small steps that we could do in between to remedy and fix that situation along the way. So a man, for example, if he has low testosterone, he immediately wants to run to the clinic, get a shot, but he overlooks mindset, meals, movement, community, and supplementation. Your human body can change your hormonal, not blueprint, but reality at the moment by changing those five principles and improving on them.

 

So, women need resistance training as much as men need resistance training. And I would say, even to a degree, a little bit more because of bone mass density issues that are more prevalent to women than they are to men, specifically in the aging process. And the only way to address that is through resistance training.

 

Now, this is something else I teach on TikTok because we relate resistance training to big weights. Anything that is heavier than air, look, my phone right here, this is resistance. If I curl it, I am now weightlifting, I am bodybuilding, I am performance-enhancing because I am lifting something that’s heavier than air. It could be a baby, it could be a puppy, it could be a weight, it could be a band, it could be anything. I lift books in here.

 

Matter of fact, someone commented on my TikTok post the other day. I grabbed this candle right here out of my office, and I did tricep kickbacks like this. And the lady said, “Oh, my God, I did that candle thing, and back of my arms hurt.” I’m like, “Yes, let’s go.” You know, and this is a lovely smelling candle, it’s not intimidating, right? Yeah, and I burn candles, I’m a man, let’s go.

 

Katie: Well, I’m glad you brought up the fitness changing as we age, too, because that’s another excuse that I often hear from people, or that, like, it changes after motherhood and women feel like they can’t do the things that they used to do before. And certainly, I know hormones do change as we age.

 

But to your point, I feel like things like resistance training get more important as we age, not less important. And those are often the ones people stop doing. So what are some things to be aware of, maybe in the different decades of life, for maintaining fitness and making sure we’re hitting those longevity factors when it comes to fitness?

 

Clark: Well, people always ask me, “Clark, what’s the key to staying young? You seem so young, you seem so vital and full life and all of that.” It is using your body to the level to which it is capable, right? So you might not be as capable as you were at 23. Nobody is. Tom Brady just retired, he is not a guy who could play at a high level till he was 50-years-old. He could have still kept doing it.

 

But what I’m saying is, we all have that same ability to perform at a level that other people would look at us and go, “Aren’t you 58? Should you really be out there doing what you’re doing?” Absolutely, I should be out here doing what I’m doing because I still have a body that is capable, provided I’m operating within my abilities, not living in my 18-year-old body that, you know, played rugby as a Marine traveling all over the world. I can’t do that anymore at that level.

 

But that doesn’t mean that I can’t do things that help maintain a youthful existence. And sitting on the couch compared to being out and being active, whether it’s walking or kicking a football and playing, or dancing, or jumping rope, the two differences are extreme.

 

And again, our culture, we live in these two extremes. Like, “I’m just gonna lay on the couch and watch TV,” you know what I mean? No, man, there’s movement you can make in a direction to start improving. And here’s what I will say, the second…people always ask me, “How quickly can I get results?” And I say, “Instantly, instantly.” The minute you stand up and sit down consciously and think about it, the second you breathe consciously and think about it, everything starts to change instantly.

 

The problem is we look for it in the mirror, we wait for it in our abs, we wanna see it like now. That’s not the way to measure it because it’s like food. Food is the most powerful drug on planet Earth. People don’t realize this. “Clark, food is not a drug.” Oh, yes, it is. Yes, it is. It causes a chemical and hormonal response in your body.

 

What do drugs do? They cause a chemical and hormonal response in your body. So food is the thing that you do most consistently, so you need to look at it in such a way like, “What is this going to cause in my body the minute I consume it instantly?” You got me fired up now.

 

Katie: I like it. I’ve talked about that when it comes to food quality as well is like we often discount food quality and we’ll eat really crappy food, but then we’ll take one capsule of acetaminophen and expect it to resolve all of our pain symptoms. And we don’t acknowledge the same amount of like chemicals added to food could also have. And not to get orthorexic or have to be extreme, but paying attention to food quality matters.

 

Like you said, food is chemistry, our bodies are chemistry labs. And we have a lot of levers we can pull there that make a big difference and that we do see an impact in our energy levels in our sleep when we start making those changes.

 

Also, to circle back to what you said, I can attest now firsthand that you do not as a woman especially accidentally get bulky by lifting heavyweights. In fact, it tends to go the other way. Like, the heavier I lift, I’m tending to get smaller. Like you don’t do one workout and wake up the next day with huge arms, that doesn’t happen, especially for women.

 

And I also think to your point, make it fun, do the little things. My kids are my greatest teacher in this, in that they work out all day long, and they have no idea they’re exercising. They’re climbing trees, they’re doing cartwheels, they’re just moving around doing kid activities, they would never call that exercise, is super fun to them. And we could learn so much from that.

 

One thing I’ve learned in my life is we think we shape our environment. And that’s true to some degree. But our environment also very much shapes our body. And so anything I can put in a way in our house that encourages us to move or to have better posture, or whatever it is, that helps the environment shape us in a positive way.

 

So we have a climbing hang board in our kitchen, so as the kids walk through the archway, they can just hang for a little while. Or we have a gymnastics track down our hallway. So we don’t walk down the hallway, we cartwheel or jump or roll. But it’s getting those movements in and it’s just fun, it doesn’t feel like exercise at all. We even for a while had a rebounder instead of a coffee table in our living room, so if kids are watching TV, they’re bouncing the whole time. I feel like little changes like that make it fun.

 

And kids are so great at that innately. And adults, we sometimes lose it and we term it working out and then we resist it, and it’s this whole thing. And I think that also circles back to the mindset piece. I love that that’s the most important one for you. I would love to hear any tips you have for facilitating those mindset shifts. I’ve seen firsthand, if you get that piece figured out, all the other ones get so much easier. But that can be the tough one if you’re stuck in maybe a negative cycle with your mindset.

 

Clark: So you said the perfect word, stuck in a negative cycle with your mindset, most of us are. And it’s because we have conditioned responses to everything. We have conditioned ways that we operate our life. The most conditioned way for most people is when we wake up in the morning, what we do. And, you know, we hear about morning routines, it seems overemphasized these days, but it’s overemphasized because it’s probably the most important part.

 

How you bookend your day, in my opinion, not just in the morning, but in the evening as well, is vitally important to how we live in between those two moments. It’s no different than the breathing piece, right? We take a breath, and boom, and then all of that in-between. So most people in the morning, unfortunately, wake up and they are conditioned to turn on the TV and the news pops on. And in the background, even if they’re not sitting there and paying attention, they’re getting fed all of this negative stuff. Then they go right to their handheld device and they start looking at text messages and messages and negative things. Because, let’s all face it, the majority of what we’re consuming on a day-to-day basis, if we’re not conscious about it will be negative. I don’t know why. It’s just the world that we live in.

 

And then from there, we get caught up in something else, maybe we read the newspaper. So what I’m saying is, don’t do that. Don’t turn on the TV. If you do, put on a YouTube video that is 10-minute mindset shift in the morning. Like I listen to those all the time, there’s so much great content. There are creators that cut together these beautiful, just melodies of different people speaking, that just fill you up, man.

 

I am here to say that it takes less of that than it does of the negative stuff to get you moving in a better direction. Like I only need this much positivity. I need one person to come and pat me on the back and then edify me and build me up. I’m like, “Let’s go.” So, the reward for doing that will be evident in your life a lot sooner than the draining that is just constantly happening. That’s how awesome you are as a human.

 

So then, you know, you go through your day and try to be conscious of your emotions. Like I always tell people, be on the balcony. And you’re sitting there and you’re observing yourself. You’re not in your emotions, you’re observing how you react and respond and do your life.

 

And then when you go to bed at night, I have something so simple and so silly. I’ve got a pillowcase that’s got all sorts of positive words on it. And I’ll look at that pillowcase at night, and I’ll read it, beauty, harmony, light-hearted, carefree, love, happiness, joy, peace, calm, energetic, all of these things on my pillowcase. And I look at it.

 

My wife laughed at me the other night. She’s like, “Oh, that’s so cute.” And I’m like, “I wanna dream peacefully tonight. I wanna have a good night’s sleep.” So then, boom, then I lay my head on my pillow and off I go. Look, I’m not perfect. I’m not saying I do this every day. But if we do it more than we don’t, then we’re gonna be better off in the long run.

 

Katie: A couple of times when I’ve been asked, “What’s the biggest thing you can do for your health?” I’ll tell people, stop paying attention to the news because, you’re right, that cycle of fear and just overwhelm and it’s everywhere. And as social animals, this is a great segue into community, we are designed to pay attention to that because we’re meant to live in community. It’s just we weren’t meant to pay attention to that on a worldwide scale. We were meant to pay attention to that in a community where we could affect a change and help the people around us. And we’re wired for that so that we can help people. And we can’t help the problems all over the world.

 

So I’m big on, shift your mindset to focus on the part of the world that you actually can affect a change in. And like you said, focus on the positive, stop watching the negative all day long, balance that out. And I think that ties into the idea of community, which I 100% agree with you. In researching “Blue Zones,” I was like, “I think people are actually missing the point.” They wanna talk about the food, or they drink one glass of wine a day, or they do all these things. Like the commonality they all have is strong community.

 

Yeah, they might be eating a perfect Mediterranean diet and drinking a glass of red wine. But they walked there with their friend, and they’re having a slow dinner with people they love. And maybe that’s the actual factor that’s so important for longevity, is those relationships in that community. So to that point, what are some tips you give people on building that community piece?

 

Clark: Well, I lived in a blue zone for a year in Okinawa, Japan, and I live an hour away from another blue zone, Yorba Linda or whatever it is right up here, just north of us. And they’re small communities, that’s the key. So I have a very large community of men that grows every single day. And what I require these men do is get into what we refer as huddles. And they’re smaller groups within the larger group because, if you grow a small group into a large group, then it just becomes this big place where people get lost again.

 

I was on an aircraft carrier when I was a Marine for a short little stint. It’s a city, it’s a gigantic city, you think because you’re on a ship, you’re gonna know everybody. You could do a 20-year tour on an aircraft carrier and not meet every person on that ship. And you’re on a ship in the middle of an ocean, you would think that that would be the case, it’s not. We gotta break out into smaller communities. So my huddles are 11 men. And once these men start to rise up to a place of leadership, I require that they break off and start a new huddle for new guys coming in who are afraid, embarrassed, shy, timid, don’t know what to do, don’t know what to expect, because that is the nature of human beings.

 

We enter into communities, the larger ones, fearful, like the gym is the biggest one. The threshold of the gym is the hardest place for people to crossover, specifically women, specifically women who think they’re overweight or think they don’t look like the 23-year-old hottie in the gym. Look, man, I hear this every single day.

 

But what I’m here to tell you is there are communities that will support you, there are communities that will lift you up, there are communities that will not talk negative, will not accept any of the stuff that we see in the big communities. Because even the most…the Facebook community with the best intentions if left un, like, managed will turn into a negative environment, just by nature of human beings being human beings, period. Someone will pop in with something that offends somebody, hurt someone’s feelings, isn’t meant to be talked about. We gotta control that sort of thing, man. I’m a stickler on in my group.

 

Katie: That’s awesome. Yeah, I think small groups are where it’s at, too. As humans, I think we exist in bigger groups, but that core small group…like you hear all those quotes from all the self-help people about, you are the sum of the people you spend the most time with. And that’s also, of course, our families. But then the groups that we cultivate around that that can help us move toward positive habits.

 

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I think there are so many other directions, we could still go here. But I would love to hear just any maybe like 80/20 top tips that you give to people who are maybe trying to make those mindset shifts but overwhelmed and just getting started. What are those kinds of big levers they can pull that make a big difference?

 

Clark: So one thing I tell my guys when they come into my group…and again, I’m very hard on these men when they come in because I understand how hard it is to push a human out of these habits and these behaviors that have been conditioned in us from parents and coaches and teachers and all of these different things.

 

A mentor of mine told me years ago, he said, “Clark, you’re only committed to what you confess.” So when men come into my group, I require they shoot a video and say, “Hi. My name is Clark Bartram. I’m from San Diego, California. I joined this group because I have a tendency to give up on things easy. And the way you can support me is by making sure that I am here consistently. And if you see me disappear, please come and find me because I really want to lose 20 pounds.”

 

Now you’re committed to the confession of what it is that you said. If you don’t ever tell anybody what you wanna do that it’s easy to quit, if you don’t put yourself out there in a way that’s like, “Oh, my gosh, now I gotta do this…” I remember the first time I ever competed in a bodybuilding contest. I didn’t wanna get up in front of a bunch of people in little Speedo trunks. That wasn’t what I was used to doing. I was a shy kid.

 

But someone convinced me, and I knew quickly that if I didn’t enter that contest and tell everybody I was doing it based upon my life in the past, I was gonna quit. I was just gonna walk away. But because I told everybody, now everyone’s saying, “Hey, when is your show? How much longer you got? Can I see how you look?” Now, all of that positive energy coming back to me kind of helped me take that one next step.

 

And sometimes that’s all we need is that one next step. Oprah says this, “What’s your next best move?” That’s what people need to ask themselves right now, what is your next best move? What do you need to do? Do you need to go research a diet and get on something that’s not sustainable? Or do you need to just write down everything you’re eating today and be aware?

 

There are studies at Harvard that prove, if you do that, then you’re going to increase your chances of success. I don’t know. I think it’s 50 or 100 fold. I don’t know, it’s something. Harvard said it, not me. But write it down.

 

What’s the next best move, you know? I think writing it down and being aware, simple things. Don’t overcomplicate this. Just wake up today, don’t watch the news, eat a good meal, move a little bit, smile, take a breath, be conscious, get around like-minded people, and things will change, man, guaranteed.

 

Katie: And that makes me curious because I feel like we’ve dispelled quite a few of these already in this episode. But if there are any other areas when it comes to this that people either don’t know or misunderstand. Because I think, unfortunately, the fitness world, there’s so much, like we talked about in the beginning, misinformation and competing information. Any other things you would touch on as things that are just often misunderstood?

 

Clark: Well, be careful of like listening and believing everything. I have been fortunate in my career to be around some really, really, really smart people who understand the science of getting people’s attention in an effort to sell them something. And it’s not always what you think it is based upon what you’re being triggered by to get you to respond to something. And I know that’s kind of convoluted sounding.

 

But the point is, don’t always believe what you see out there in the internet space. Not everybody is out there with your best interest in mind. People are motivated by money a lot of times. I’m not saying everybody in the fitness space is. But what I’m saying is there are some who are. And you have to really listen to your gut.

 

Now, we’re talking to mainly women here, and women have intuition better than men do. Women have a gut that is responding. Like you’re either believing me right now, or you’re not. You’re either resonating with me right now, or you’re not. You’re either saying, “Wow, this guy’s on to something. Honey, come listen, you might like this guy, or this guy is a jerk. This guy is just…” You know in your gut what that is. I’m just saying follow that, and listen to that, and be aware of what’s out there because we are not lacking people who are out there representing themselves in ways that isn’t often the truth.

 

I’ll say this one little analogy here, and you might remember this and the people who are a little bit older will. There was a “Brady Bunch” episode, where Greg Brady was being recruited by this talent scout, this woman, and a man, to be the lead singer in a band. And the only requirement was that he fit the jacket. The person that they wanted to head this band didn’t need any talent, didn’t need anything. All he needed to do was be a size 38 large or whatever that jacket was because it was all rhinestone down. So they put it on Greg Brady, and it fit him, and he thought he was this star but was just the jacket.

 

There are a lot of people in this industry who fit the jacket, you know, they’re well-spoken, they look good, now, all of this the other thing, but in their heart, they don’t have a desire to really, really help people. And I think that’s what separates me from a lot of people that you might see on the internet. And I’m not saying it’s everybody. But I’m saying I really am in this for the right reasons. And I wanna help people out. And you’re the same way, Katie, I mean, I feel like I’m the male version of you.

 

Katie: And that’s true in so many areas of life is that it goes back to that core of wanting to help people and I think that people…to your point, intuition shows that. And that you’re able to like bond with people in a different way when it comes from that place of love and willingness to help and not judgment or just wanting to make money. Because certainly, there are so many ways to just make money out there, but for me, at least the fulfillment comes from actually helping create a positive change.

 

And that was my motivation in starting “Wellness Mama” at all was reading that our kids’ generation is gonna have a shorter life expectancy than we are for the first time in two centuries. And to me, that’s not good enough. We deserve to change that statistic for the sake of our kids. Also, the only thing we haven’t touched on yet is supplements, and I know that’s the end of your list. But I would love to hear any tips you have, maybe even things you take personally, or how you help people figure out what they should be taking.

 

Clark: So, I think we should all understand that we’re probably malnourished in some nutrient that we need because of the convenience foods that are surrounding us, and how fast we’re living our lives. So unless we’re really sitting down and being very conscious about what we’re eating, we probably are lacking in some of these vitamins and minerals. So that’s a great place to start. I think everybody should be on some sort of vitamin and mineral.

 

And not one size fits all, there are companies out there that can do custom blends for an individual because a male and a female need would be different. A guy 60 compared to a guy 16 would be different. So going and getting a generic supplement probably isn’t the way to go. So there are some companies out there, one that I use all the time, I have custom blends right here, Persona Nutrition, they’re great with that. You take an assessment and they’ll give you what you need.

 

So if your hair’s falling out, or it’s brittle, and your skin, so there’s something for hair, skin, and nails in there. If you don’t sleep, there’s something to help you sleep. If you smoke, there’ll be something in there for the, free radicals and that sort of thing. So, that’s vital.

 

Then from there, there are a lot of designer supplements that come into play that not everybody needs, but as we age, there are joint issues that we have concerns with. So I would start at the very low level, right, the very base level, and work your way up accordingly. Not everybody needs everything. And I see a lot of people wasting their money on supplements that are not necessary.

 

And when people come to buy mine, I promise you, Katie, I tell a lot of people, “No, you don’t need it. Don’t buy it. Please don’t buy it.” I tell people that all the time, people look at me like, “Are you crazy?” They’ll thank me, they’ll say, “Thanks, Clark, for being so honest.” I’m not gonna sell you something if you don’t need it because, you know, 40 bucks ain’t changing my life. But having an honest exchange with another human helps me go to sleep at night. And that’s more important to me than anything else.

 

Katie: I love that very much. And a few questions, I rapid-fire I ask at the end of interviews. The first being if there is a book or a number of books that have profoundly influenced your life, and if so, what they are and why?

 

Clark: Absolutely. So I’ll show you this one right here, “As a Man Thinketh” by James Allen. You can see how just tattered and marked up this thing is. I’ve read it over 200 times, I’ve listened to it multiple times. I highly recommend it for anybody. It’s very small. And you can read one sentence and stop and see law, meditate on the words in this thing. It’s just… right here, I’ll just go to what I popped up “As a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts.” Got that? Underline right there, boom. It’s quality stuff. Yep.

 

Katie: I love it. That’s a new recommendation, and it ties right back into the mindset theme that we’ve had throughout this whole episode. I’ll link to that book in the show notes at wellnessmama.fm as well. And for links in the show notes. A lot of people listening are women, but many of them are married to men. I know you have a lot of resources specific to men but also applicable to men and women. Where can people find you online and keep learning?

 

Clark: My Instagram is @clarkbartram. My TikTok is therealclarkbartram because I’m getting ripped off left and right. And YouTube, which has my 3 Moves, 3 Minutes, which anybody can use, is CBX Clark Bartram Systems. And I have an app that anyone could use, just clarkbartram.app. It’s not on any of the Play stores, you can go there and get that. But I was gonna say something about…oh, go ahead. I forgot.

 

Katie: Maybe this will trigger your memory. Just any parting advice for people listening today, could be unrelated or related to what we’ve already talked about.

 

Clark: I think I’ll go back to what we really started with at the beginning of this, Katie, is love yourself today. I would love to give you some homework as we end this for everybody watching. I would encourage you to get up and go look into the mirror, and just tell yourself how much you love yourself.

 

People often misunderstand me when I tell people how much I love me. I love me some me. I’m the coolest person I know I am. I’m an awesome human being. And that will trigger some people, and the people that it triggers, in my opinion, are the people who don’t have that same self-love and they just cannot understand that another person has that and it’s not being conceited.

 

I’m no better, you’re no worse. I’m just really truly understanding of the value that I bring the world and how much I enjoy being here right now. Like this right now is the coolest thing that I could be doing. So just enjoy where you’re at. I wrote something down yesterday, I thought it was pretty cool. Be where your feet are, be where your feet are. So today, as we go, just be where your feet are.

 

Katie: I love that. I think that ties in so much of the mindset piece really truly being the key. And I know I’ve talked about it on this podcast before and I can’t emphasize it enough because I saw in my own life, when my mindset changed from that self-hate and self-critical to love and peace, and acceptance of myself, everything else changed from that.

 

I found the quote in the middle of that transition that said, “I said to my body, ‘I want to be your friend.’ And it took a deep breath and responded, ‘I’ve been waiting your whole life for this.’” And I think it, like, really just illustrates that mindset really crosses over into everything else and it’s not talked about enough. So I love that you explained it so well in this episode. This was a really fun conversation. I’m so glad to have had you on. Thank you for your time.

 

Clark: Well, thank you very much.

 

Katie: And thanks as always to all of you for listening and sharing your most valuable resources, your time, your energy, and your attention with us today. We’re both so grateful that you did, and I hope that you will join me again on the next episode of “The Wellness Mama Podcast.”

 

If you’re enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.





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