This “Bodybuilding Yogi” Explains Why Mindset Trumps All | Ben Pakulski on Health Theory

to see the people who truly thrive in life or the people who are willing to do the things no one else is willing to do and that's including the ability to sit and meditate for an hour and that's including the ability to go to the deepest depths of the hardest sets in the gym and those are the people that succeed man and most people aren't able are willing to do that because of the story they tell themself as to why they can't this hurts what that hurts like one of the genetics or I don't have the time or the ability there's all these stories you tell yourself run what you can't and if there's a story behind what you can't you must most like I said if you can't therefore you must so it's so important to challenge your own bullshit rules everybody welcome to hell theory today's guest is ben pakulski he's an IFBB professional bodybuilder who won the mr. canva competition in 2008 and competed in both of body buildings most prestigious shows the mr. Olympia and the Arnold Classic where he placed in the top ten at three years running making it as high as second place he's been featured in countless magazines including inside Fitness flex muscle mag and Fitness rx to name but a few and dude while you have the pedigree of your typical professional bodybuilder I would say you were anything but typical and I love that you call yourself a bodybuilding yogi yeah what do you mean by that so for 20 years of my life as I was just telling you I was very myopic we focused on this objective of I want to be the best body bill in the world I want to be the biggest bodybuilding world then I would be that you know when mr. Olympia and I accomplished a lot of cool things as you don't mention in the intro and I accomplished a lot of goals I accomplished a lot more than most people ever believed I would I was that kid who didn't have the genetics I was that kid who didn't come from the right family I didn't come from the financial background I came from Canada so most people thought you can't do it and I did it so like if you told me I was 15 years old that I'd get there walking on the Olympia stage people I would be like how that'll be my life dream and I'll be satisfied and fulfilled and I was probably the most empty I ever was in my life walking on stage with mr. Olympia I remember not wanting to take off my shirt the day before because I felt so insecure like people were gonna be judging me and there's a lot of emotional stuff there so that feeling alone was a gift to me right because it allowed me to have the presence of mind the consciousness to go well obviously this external journey isn't going to fulfill me so what is it you know and I started taking this internal perspective of you know shining light on myself now rather than shine light on the external objective and so many people do that you know they sin they assume that the things outside of them are gonna be the thing that accomplishes that fulfillment and that that just gratification so it's the accomplishing of you know making money or building body or whatever it is you realize like you know that it's not like you could have all the money in the world and it's nice it gives you good things it gives you opportunities but until you start taking that journey inside nothing feels good and so I was very blessed to accomplish some goal is young relatively and then I just realized man that's that's not what's going to fulfill me in life so it allowed me to start stripping away the layers of the onion the layers of the ego and start looking deeper inside and so now my journey is very much about finding myself finding my true essence my soul and realizing that at the core of myself just as the core of yourself you are loved and how can you get your insecurity and fear out of the way to let that love shine through so now my journey is about you know teaching people all of these the mistakes I made along the way in Fitness because I still love fitness and body but I think it's still a beautiful thing I just teach it from additional different perspective now right rather than focusing on the end goal focus on today and how can you be the best person you can in this workout in this interview in your relationship and be present how can you be with your family and your kids how can you be present in your business because that's how you build the best body in the world that's how you build the best business in the world is not being absent and on the phone and with your mind somewhere else when I'm in this moment like the only thing I'm thinking about what I'm sitting here with you is this conversation with you and delivering the best result I can right now so if you're failing at anything in your life it's because you're not able to focus right you're having a hard time being present and focused and and for me yoga was this amazing i opening experience because i was 310 pounds when i started doing yoga which is funny but at the same time it was very difficult and one of my things that i say often is if you can't you must so I started taking on this this belief that man I really need to do yoga because I'm not good at it and I got better and better and better and a real thing that I that I accomplished or that I saw was the the necessity of being present otherwise you can't hold those poses especially when you're that big you know so I really forced me to be present with my breath to be present with my thought the present with my positioning otherwise I'm falling over and I can I use it as kind of this daily test to come back and see like you know if you're not able to do these things or where's your mind right to be able to hold those poses for long periods of time really requires presence and that's allowed me to shift in my business in my life and my relationships in my body you know like allow me to get so much more focus so much more output in less time so now I don't have to train twice a day like I did for 20 years I can train three and four times a week get way better results you know it's not as focus it's not as much volume it's not as much food so it's a different objective but I could still get great results in great workouts in much less time Jesus okay so there's a whole lot in there no that was fucking amazing and is it really shows exactly what I'm talking about in terms of your approach is just so different and I want to go back to something that you said which gave me that real like sense of dissonance based on what I'm used to in life when a guy of your size and stature says we're all loved what do we mean by that sure I think it's a hard thing especially as a strong man to be vulnerable and to exude love and show people that you actually care about them and you know this realization that we're all one and all I want people to know is that if I come into any situation it's sincere I have integrity and I'm bringing love and that's it I have opportunities in business that I know are gonna make me tremendous amounts of money but if it's not with the right person because I don't feel good about it I'm not doing it you know like if I can make way more money in my life working with assholes but I feel like shit right at the end of the day you still have to want to feel good about yourself I've made a lot of money in my life and didn't feel good about it so I didn't want to sleep well at night I didn't wake up feeling great I'd rather make less money and not everybody agree with that but I think if you can come from of sincerity and honesty and love and bring that to the world because people will feel that man people will feel that in you and they'll want to work with you and they'll want to help you and they'll want to contribute to your mission and we all help each other contribute to this bigger mission right so rather than coming it from a place of anxiety and fear and lack you're coming it from this place of abundance and say I'm coming at you with I'm just gonna help you I'm gonna give selflessly that's what love means to me you used another word when you were talking which I find really interesting and obviously knowing a little bit about you and doing the research I think I know where you're going with this define integrity integrity is a word that has been slapping me in the face for the last five years it's when you say you do right and I think you know in the world we live in that know very few people live with integrity so if you say hey I'm gonna wake up tomorrow at 4 a.m. or I'm going to wake up tomorrow work out even though I hate it you know use your thing do you do it and nobody gives a shit if you do but you know you always know so I'm learning everyday that if you give your word on something and that could be in passing something as simple as that I'll be there at 11 o'clock you do it you know and and I'm theory I say it slapping me in the face is because there's times man when I'm there 11:05 I'm like that's not integrity so it just keeps like you need to learn to live with integrity I'm getting those daily lessons because I feel when I don't live with integrity if I say to my kids I'm gonna be there for your ballet recital or your gymnastics or your hockey or whatever right I must be there I move heaven and earth when I look at my value system to meet that those obligations to me because I all say the other day nobody knows if you did meditation this morning nobody does if you did you yoga no he knows if you did your workout but you know right you know man and deed you've nobody else v8 that Snickers bar you know so I think that to me is integrity and that's so valuable because it doesn't matter what you do to the outside world the only one person in the world that matters knows the thing and I find so interesting about bodybuilding is you want to talk about say something you better do it you're going to be up on stage essentially a speedo yeah and like it really is there for people to see whether you were consistent or something with something and you see these guys and women who can have this extraordinary level of discipline to do what they say they were gonna do in one area of their life but then it doesn't carry over to other areas do you think that comes down to value system and does it come down to just like a self-awareness about why you're doing it like its value I think it's also degree of pain you know like people who are in the fitness office space often have a massive degree of pain somewhere and it's paint avoidance so like they have insecurities they have fears and they're running away from them and this is their way of masking it so the fitness industry for better at worse is one of the most egocentric industries in the world right we're very asleep we're very unconscious typically right so and I would live that light weight for 20 years it was so myopically focused on I have to work out no matter what happened I'm cutting away everything in my life nothing else mattered but that thing and to me it was very unconscious like I didn't go in there and I wasn't present in my workout I tried to – I did turn my brain off like I just wanted to go in there not think and train well now it's the exact opposite right it's this attempt to use every single minute of my work out every single repetition to become more present to become more conscious to learn how to feel my body connect with my body feel my muscles aim to challenge the muscles as most the most that I can in the smallest amount of time so you know that's kind of where Fitness has shifted to for me is becoming more conscious becoming more present where most people are using it to mute out their pain mute out their anxiety right which is real like and so we all have pain we all have anxiety and some people use food so people use drugs and people use workouts it's just coping strategies right so how do we then create a positive coping strategy and you could already could argue that working out as a positive coping strategy for something and some it's not right it's a destructive coping strategy if you take people's workouts away they fall apart and that's where that is people are using it as a negative coping strategy just like a drug you take it away feel like an addict they're gonna be angry they're not going to live they're gonna have anxiety they're gonna feel terrible about themselves so hopefully we can encourage people to start using it as opportunity to become present and use that as a positive coping strategy last year I climbed a mountain in Mammoth so for the first hour and a half I was dreading it in my mind because I hadn't trained for it I was like oh my gosh this is gonna be terrible this is gonna be the worst thing ever and for the first hour and a half I dreaded it like my legs were burning it was terrible and I became conscious and in that moment it was like how am i doing like I mean the most beautiful place in the world I'm with two of my best friends in the world I'm outside I'm alive I have legs I took a breath and I smiled miss it thank you and the next six hours up the mountain I floated like if you just have the ability to change your perspective and say I want to be President I want to enjoy this I want to realize this is an opportunity to become better or it's an opportunity to indoctrinate deeper into this negativity that I have right now it's always this this yin and yang that sits in front of you you have this opportunity to go man I'm going to use this opportunity today this pain this discomfort that I'm bringing on myself to become better like meditation same thing discipline right you can use it as an opportunity I gotta meditate or like I get to meditate right it's it's always there man it's always perspective yeah it's interesting speaking of perspective the way that you approach transforming the body transforming the mind your whole notion of the six pillars which I was I found really interesting so one what are just sort of in a nutshell the six pillars because I think people are gonna be surprised how much of building the body for you comes down to working through the mind other stuff yeah so I'm you know for the last four or five years I'm really trying to decode all of the things that go into building a great physique right so most people are very myopically focused on one some people are focus on two you talk to nutritionists it's all nutrition you talk to a trainer it's all training well know right like it's not all anything it's not 90% nutrition and 10% training it's it's everything that goes in it's this integration of all the pieces so I've really been trying to dispel it down to what are all these things that actually go into building your grey physique so training is obviously a big piece so listing out the pillars training is a big piece there's no question you have to create the stimulus right there's no question in training could be anything from weight lifting to – running – CrossFit – whatever it is for you man and then obviously so walking down the line this is the hierarchy that I put them in so I put training at the top of the list because without the stimulus no you're not gonna build anything and then following that down the list I put sleep very very high on the list so because without sleep anything you do and I'll explain why anything you do doesn't stick below that I talked about you know depending how you want articulate it I talked about stress and the autonomic nervous system and that for most people like what the hell you talking about what that comes down to is breathing and meditation right so the way your body is interpreting your environment your thoughts the things that go into your body is all regulated by the autonomic nervous system right so if I'm stressed what happens my body releases cortisol my body releases adrenaline if this general adaptation response so if I put a gun to your head it could be a similar response in your body as somebody cutting off in traffic or as you going and doing a really hard leg workout those are all just amplifications different amplifications of stress right so how I respond to that is extremely important so we have this sympathetic branch which is a stress response and I have the parasympathetic branch which is a rest and digest response so the tone of these two systems is going to determine kind of the state where my body is right now so if you're someone who's always like high-strung and very tense and very anxious you're more sympathetic if or someone who's chilled out and more relaxed and more meditative you're more parasympathetic and if you're putting great food and great training stimulus into a sympathetic stressed state it's not going to be the same responses if you're putting the exact same food in the same training into a parasympathetic body talk more about that this is so interesting and I would have called bullshit on that three four years ago and then my wife went through a whole microbiome issue and one of the things that doctors kept telling her is if you're eating in a stress state you're going to have a negative digestive response and I just thought that's that can't be true it is so it is way true yeah it's just it's just you know the study of the autonomic nervous system so if as I said parasympathetic is the state of rest and digests so if I sit down to eat and I'm in a sympathetic state my body is literally shunting the blood to the to the limbs to move shutting down digestion mobilizing energy from my muscles in my liver into the blood so that I can it's called the fight-or-flight system so I can fight or flee like evolutionarily what are we doing throughout the day when stress arises right either there's a lion over there there's a snake or there's someone I get a fight there's no car there's no email there's no boss yelling at me there's no IRS you know those things don't exist so evolutionarily we've adapted to have this stress response in response to like oh shit I need to kill something or something's gonna try to kill me and that's it and those were always followed by what movement and an action right so your body was able to use those nutrients that was sending in to the blood for movement activity and then once those things were gone you could go back into this parasympathetic state and maybe you ate what you just killed or maybe you get to rest for a little bit after you just hopefully killed the enemy or whatever right so those those actions of the sympathetic nervous system were always preceded by movement and now when we get cut off in the car what's it followed by sitting on a butt so our body becomes very resistant to those things and and cortisol stays elevated chronically so cortisol naturally has this rhythm of being elevated in the morning and hopefully tapering off throughout the day but unfortunately because of the light because of the stress because of cars because of EMF because of all these things court of law tends to stay all of it it never really comes down and how does that manifest right that manifests at a racing mind and a mind that doesn't sleep and if somebody can't fall asleep at night and someone who wakes up in the morning not feeling rest or they wake up in the morning feeling anxiety all of those things are correlates of this highly sympathetic state not allowing our body to actually do it it's supposed to do when we sleep waking up in the morning and feeling terrible right so that and then I want to get doing them or I need a coffee why what is coffee people what's spikes your cortisol so it gives you that energy right and then guess what happens same negative perpetuating loop so that's one side of it conversely if I can learn to implement these parasympathetic stimuli so in my life in my training principles all implement parasympathetic days so people think off days and like champions don't take off days we take parasympathetic days what's the difference and off there is sitting on my butt doing nothing or still doing things that are stressful a parasympathetic day maybe I wake up in the morning and I walk or I do yoga or I breathe or meditate or I do a float tank or I do I connect with my loved ones and I do things that make me that fill my soul they fill my cup and it's connected with my kids just being outside that's a parasympathetic activity that's recharging your batteries it's plugging in right and that's bringing down that sympathetic tone a parasympathetic day doesn't include my phone it doesn't include my email it doesn't include work meetings right things that I know they're gonna stress me out and you know man we all experience this without knowing it and you'll go away for three days to or for a week to some place remotely with your wife or by yourself and you come back and go I just feel so much better I don't know why my brain works better I workout today it was really really good I'm not really sure why that is I kind of didn't you know that much while I was away or maybe I ate way more and I got leaner and we all experienced that but we don't really kind of articulate why we don't really correlate what's happening well that's what it is so to understand it for people who are in fitness the sympathetic system is a system of catabolic states so it's it's mobilizing energy that can be useful when it's cyclical so I mean it's mobilizing more carbohydrate and more fat for activity that's useful in the morning that's used to when I'm training that's useful to potentially burn more fat but if it's perpetual your body becomes resistant to it starts releasing more and doesn't work as well this parasympathetic state is an anabolic state so recover it's a rest digest and recover so if we want to be growing if one building muscle if we want to be recovering this is the state so we literally have to learn how to balance these two states so I suggest to most people 2 hours a day sympathetic 22 hours a day parasympathetic two hours the days in the workout right trained trained heart intentionally create that sympathetic state but then I need to be able to calm down and be present and be calm and be able to have a conversation that's not anxious and fearful and reactive rather than responsive and that's a parasympathetic reality and the way you can measure this now you can quantify this stuff with your heart rate variability right people have probably started hearing more about HRV I'm a massive fan I've got my ring everywhere I go measuring your HIV so HIV is a direct correlate with this autonomic control so if I see a low HIV means my nervous system is doing this in this really small flux and I'm not getting a lot of sympathetic stress and I'm never really coming down into a parasympathetic state which is where most people live low Harry variability or what I want it's a high amount of heart rate variability right I want the ability to get really really amplified for those hard intense sets in the workout and I want to be able to calm down and almost be a yogi in my calm state right so this idea of the body building yogi I want to be able to be very very explosive and strong and fast and able to work really really hard cutely and then I want to be able to be completely Zen on the other end you said something that really hit me champions don't take days off I love that your mindset around excellence and pushing is does not seem to have diminished at all even though now you're no longer pursuing bodybuilding but even the way that you're approaching business or even the way that you approach your family like there's this desire for a level of excellence I've heard you talk in interviews in a way that I find so intoxicating about how rarely people push themselves how they don't want to do the hard things what is the role of doing difficult things in your life why does it matter and and I guess encompassing all of that like how does a champion live I have this very blessed life where I get to surround myself with people like yourself who are just pushing the limit of physical ability of mental ability of even spiritual ability so I'm sitting back and watching how people act and they operate and and to see the people who truly thrive in life or the people who are willing to do the things no one else is willing to do and that's including the ability to sit and meditate for an hour and that's including the ability to go to the deepest depths of the hardest sets in the gym and those are the people that succeed man and most people aren't able are willing to do that because of the story they tell themselves as to why they can't wow this hurts what that hurts are one of the genetics or I don't have the time or the ability there's all these stories you tell yourself around what you can't and if there's a story behind what you can't you must most like I said if you can't therefore you must so it's so important to challenge your own bullshit rules right and this is where the integrity comes back if you really want to succeed in anything if there's a fire in your heart to do something it's going to take way more than you think and you talk about this with your success of couthe quest like it talks it's gonna take so much to succeed so much more than you think it took so much more than anyone sees for me to be a great body builder like there was days or my soul was crushed crushed and I you know maybe I had a hard moment and I was like let's go I found that way to recover go deep in my soul and now I've been able to quantify that right it's like those hard moments are are your soul calling for this parasympathetic activity those moments where you just like oh my god I can't do any more good say thank you go do the breath go do a meditate calm day it's not just a matter of not doing anything it's a matter of learning how to go deep within your soul and recover so this active parasympathetic activity allows then the higher amplification of the other end right this chasing intensity and some people especially these strong men are afraid to sit down and meditate they're afraid to be bold enough to say dude I do yoga because it makes me be able to work harder than the other end like if I don't recharge my batteries I can't be present for my kids I can't be present for my wife or my business and here's a great test for a long time my kids they're my kids are amazing they're the most wonderful human beings that I've met in my life and they're energetic and there's days where they're screaming and they're yelling and they're banging and the breaking stuff irritates you but that's not a reflection of them that's a reflection of my inability to to respond or react to that stress right so that I've been able to see this now definitively if there's days when that stuff bugs me or if your wife is irritating there's nothing to do with her and everything to do with the way your body is sensing that I want to talk more about self narrative so hearing you say there were moments where your soldiers crossed or even in the beginning where you're talking about you're about to walk on stage but one of the biggest shows of your life and you're so insecure to take your shirt off we're literally 99.9% of humanity would stab somebody to look like you're look how do you begin to build yourself back up in fact when I was researching you this probably the most interesting thing you said it really fucking hit me that every day the first thing you have to do is build your mom whoa that's so interesting to think about it gave me the chills just think about it now to have to build your mind every day what do you mean by that I literally sit down and I did this for a long time my career and create the person I want to be I can take 30 seconds to five minutes before I come in here and I can tell myself Who I am what I what I need to bring to this conversation what I need to bring to this environment so I can't go into my daughter's bedroom when she's two or four five now and be the same man that I am going into my leg session I can't be the same man that I am going into my business like I have to literally create these little versions like these little multiple personalities if I really want to thrive right is if I'm the same person this is gonna be a terrible overlap somebody's gonna look terribly wrong so I need to learn to sit down and map it out like who do I want to be and what does that feel like and what's my posture and what's my breathing and what's my cadence and how do I create that in every different scenario that's the way you succeed and that's hard in the beginning right that so I try not to use that term like I don't believe anything is hard I just believe you need to practice right like nothing is really hard what's hard just means you haven't packed enough yet so I sit down the beginning you're like man it's really hard to really hard to create this mind that I want to be to be a champion bodybuilder in the gym it's really hard to create this mind that's this romantic caring lover with my wife it's really hard to create this this dad who's able to play dolls and dance with my daughter you know but it's not it just takes consistency practice intelligence and this is where meditation comes in man like if I'm not meditating I see the difference you're not showing up with your a-game to talk to Tom bill you're not showing up with you a game to talk with your daughter and they're gonna notice I want to hear more about these avatars I've never heard anybody talk about that before and it's one of those things as soon as you say it it sounds immediately true and when I think about myself certainly there are different sides of my personality that I would bring but I've never intentionally created sort of individual avatars they give people like the actual words or maybe it's images I don't know you talked about breathing cage or but like the part we were saying am i and especially as you use it in those moments where you feel broken or lost or scared or whatever how do you cultivate an avatar that's gonna be there when you need it and then when you need it how do you call upon it is it to say words is it to stand a certain way is it to picture the avatar like what is that look at all those right so I can anchor any different thing to become that person so it's like when I stick my keys in the door and I hear my keys jingle I'll pay attention to my keys for a moment and I'll breathe and I realize I'm anchoring dad right and I had this other benefit as I said as I opened the door my kids would always be like how can you not feel your heart right and then I'm dead so what does that look like well that means I'm not stressed I'm not bringing work home with me I'm not thinking about anything other than how can I fill my kids cup because I know I don't get 24 hours a day with them right I'm not a stay-at-home dad I wish I was I'm not I get four hours a day with them and I want every minute to be present and man I'm not perfect like there's days where I'm like calling me and I got this to do I gotta catch up and I'm like oh cuz what are you telling them right you're saying hey you're not as important as this and we're all so addicted to this right to our phone no man I want my kids to know they're the most important thing in my life and then obviously in training there's you know for me for a long time i sat in my car and everyone's like dude we doing like I said my car five or ten minutes because I have to sometimes it takes really digging deep into your soul to understand your why like why am I gonna go in there and have the hardest workout I'm tired I don't want to go I'm a hungry there's a million places I'd rather be than going to the gym or how to do this leg workout or whatever it is what I have to do who do I have to become Who am I right why am I here what I start and I'm really ready time and have journal in my glove box that sit there and write it down why did I start why am I here who am i impacting how am i help in the world why am i doing this and all those things are just things that I journal on and I'd say you know we just be like this expression of my soul why don't I want to do it like well the reasons why I don't want to do it sometimes I look at those and those are the fire was the fuel of the fire that was the kindling right but I want to be great like anything I do I want I want to be not just okay how do you deal with self-doubt I struggle with that for a very long time we all experience it myself included yourself included and all the listeners know should know that like it's not something that's exclusive to you sitting at home it's everybody I think feeling where it's coming from and not being afraid of it not being don't try to bury it I think explore it right I think where's it coming from why is it there and realized it's probably some story that you're telling yourself about you know something maybe someone in your past put on you or some belief that has been kind of cast on you from your parents or someone in your past and it's not a bad thing you know maybe it's it's fuel maybe it just requires you forgiving the person who put it there and then thanking them and being legitimately truthful and grateful to them to say man thank you for making the person me the person that I am and allowing me to be stronger allowing me to be resilient to stress so that I think a lot of people try to bury the fear the negativity and the anxiety rather than sitting with it right so when you have anxiety what do you do and take a pill why why not say why it's here yes this is incredibly uncomfortable but this too shall pass how do I sit with this and use this as feel if I have anxiety there's a reason that anxiety is there how do I use that to propel like I literally will say thank you I'll smile and I go what's going on how do I make this better like is it my is it my family is it my finances is it what are these things that like what is it and how do I address it now fuel you've got a quote I'm gonna get it a little bit wrong but I'll get the idea right in the depths of your darkest moments smile yeah and the deepest depths of your darkest hour is your greatest opportunity to become your greatest self right and there's some iteration of that right yeah so when things get hard when all of the clouds are rolling in the Thunder starts to roll and this is this is where I grow this is where I thrive because if there's something that's hard in your life now it's because you need to grow right so I intentionally try to bring those things into your life you're like cool this is gonna be hard I hold on tight man let's go because I know at the other end either I'm gonna die I'm gonna be stronger right and and if you accept death as of a reality of life and not fear it well if I die hmm okay but otherwise I'm just got stronger man and that is something that bodybuilding taught me and some I've had some really amazing people in my life who have brought that mentality into my life and I think in our current society we put death at a distance like we try not to embrace it well like I think if we learn to keep death a little bit closer to us and respect it we would live our lives a little bit more consciously a little bit more on purpose that is not where I expected that answer to go in the best possible way that's so interesting so I think a lot about death in the sense of I want to live forever and I try to like put then you know put the notion away from you because I actually do think about it and I find it pretty intriguing and I tried to I'm like you were talking about with heart rate variability and working hard and going from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic I try to swing that hard to both look at my life from the perspective of how would I be if I could live forever and and for me that's an exercise in potential like I'm willing to like impact theory for me as I think of it as a 70 year plan yeah okay so at my age that's probably not true unless something my radical happens but it to me it makes sense to act as if but shouldn't you live today like you're gonna die tomorrow exactly and so there's a meditation I often do that sometimes people have a hard time feeling gratitude and it was a big hugely impactful for me then I still do it often think about if if you died right now and you had that one moment to come back and spend a minute with your family and that won't want to come back to be present with the people you love just meditate on that like if you if you if you died right now you never got to come back and see them again what would you give to come back for that one moment and meditate on that tomorrow morning and tell me how you feel and tell me you can't wake up and be grateful you're gonna wake up with a smile on your face and you're gonna run toward the people you love and go like bring tears to my eyes like thank you right and if you can't do that I suggest you do I want to look at the flip side of the the sort of facing death coin when you were talking the thing that first in me Anna know if you have heard Will Smith's quote the reason that I succeed or whatever is because I'm willing to die on the treadmill yeah I always found that so interesting and part of what I find so interesting about that is the fact that it is a treadmill so it isn't just that like oh I'm willing to die for my family or for something so grand it's when you first said it I imagined you going into a leg workout which are obviously pretty famous for like going in and hitting these workouts in a way that's like makes people queasy at the very thought of it if I were to have to tell somebody like what is the champion mindset I would say it's that it's the willingness to die on the treadmill because you have such a strong why there's something that you find so compelling that you're willing to push forward yeah if you're gonna succeed at something it's gonna take a long time it's probably going to be a lot of long hours a lot of long days that are probably gonna look very very similar that's the treadmill right and it's this idea of I just want to give my all or whatever it happens to be that day and it's very challenging to be present in current society because there's so many things pulling our attention and I think it all has to start with that it has all has to start with being present and finding your why and then that hopefully if that was strong enough for you we'll pull you and it does for me man I'm so blessed to be alive and I feel so grateful to have this opportunity that I have like I feel like I've been reborn after bodybuilding not because I had I regret bodybuilding in any way but I feel like for so many years I was my op eclis focused on this one thing and now I have this opportunity to go and do the next 50 years 100 years whatever it is day one day and live it to its fullest and pursue whatever it is I want to do that day but do it to the best of my ability that's a I'm not perfect man like I keep bringing that up but there's days on my car man you know or just you make some rationalization as the way you don't do it integrity this comes back what do you say to people that don't have a why that's probably the not in those exact words but the thing that I get asked the most is like how do you find your passion sit with yourself by yourself turn your phone off with yourself sit with your anxiety see with your discomfort look at the things you don't want to do because that's read to go I think most people just don't spend enough time by them like one hour of solitude today sounds like torture to some people right sit with yourself man say your thoughts and it may take time let me take a long time but I think at some point you'll know what you don't want to do and you'll know that will start to chip away what you do want to do right yeah everything in life has polarities so in order to experience bliss you must experience pain I believe right if everything is always just lukewarm you never really know which direction to go I think most people don't ever push themself towards something because they're always in this world of comfort we've created a world of tremendous comfort you know including their houses are and everything's just easy so if you don't intentionally seek out things that are challenging to you you'll never know like oh I like that or don't like that right so there has to be this polarizing experience in life it's interesting I'm super fascinated by the idea of doing the hard things but I think for very different reasons so I have a strong feeling that part of what haunts people in a modern context is you're not being chased by a lion and so there's nothing that forces you into earning credibility with yourself which I think the mind has something innate to it that's like you did this fucking hard thing and because of that there's a neurochemical reward I don't know why that is I'm sure it has something to do from an evolutionary perspective the lazy Fox ended up getting eaten they weren't hunting so there's like something in us that's pushing us and propelling us to have a desire to have done something hard if that makes sense but in a modern context we can avoid a lot of that and because we also have in us from an evolutionary perspective the desire to conserve calories because we didn't know when we were going to get the next we have this weird competing desire the desire then you experience pain as well right because if I avoid the hard things now I will pay the piper later because I will experience pain from lack of doing things right so you know if you push hard now you just you experience the pain no but if you don't do anything now what's the pain in the future well I don't have money or I don't have food or I don't have fitness all right I'm gonna die like I don't like myself I think that's the one that's the fucking scares me from yes either experience the pain of discipline or experience the pain of regret right that's the ultimate reality like you experience it not re-experience later but you're gonna experience it and choose it man like I love the idea of be able to choose my pain she used my discipline like oh I like that like it's do more of that and therefore I get better at that thing versus like oh shit my pain is gonna be chosen for me and I talk to my kids all the time about that it's like do you want to choose your life you want someone choose it for you I want to use it great I'll choose it otherwise if you sell your ass I'm gonna choose it for you right like go do it whatever you want to do as long as you do it well that's just the reality I think that's pretty simple way for people to get it man pick your discipline otherwise the world's gonna pick it for you you know that that's how we approach everything with anybody's is intentionally seek the things that are going hard rather than avoidance and I think as many people on our culture don't get the opportunity to have parents who push them that way so guess what good cuz you gotta do yourself you know rather than go I didn't have the parents didn't want the genetics or the money or the time good because now you get to do it to get to attitude alright so talk to me about that person they don't have the genetics they don't have the time they've got every story you tell yourself man like I was obese my family's alcoholics tall overweight I have speech impediment and learning disability like talk about like the polar opposite of what you would expect me to grow up to do right but I realized I didn't have a learning disability I didn't have a speech impediment I was just a really really fearful kid so my dad had an explosive temper I come home and things were just upside down and I'd sit there and I'd shake and I like any time I talked to an authority all the way up into university I would stutter because I didn't have a stutter when I talk to my friends but I talked to someone who was afraid of I get scared I was like that's my dad and I finally realized that it's like okay so I don't have a problem it's just the story I was telling myself right and once you release those fears once you release that story you're telling yourself you're like you're empowered to go I just don't have the skills yet I can't yet if we just add that little word at the end of her sentence all of a sudden you're empowered to go I could do anything man I can literally do anything and if you take that attitude into a job interview if you take that or do it into business I can do anything everyone's gonna hire you those are the people I want to hire man if you're someone who says I can do anything I want to hire you like I mean I'm not really sure no thanks not for me right and then all of a sudden doors start to open up and you know you know as a business owner there's so few people who take on that attitude like if he's if I give you a problem you're coming to a job interview I kindly share to do this see you later like I don't know how to do it man I'm gonna figure out I'm gonna do a big smile buffets I'm do it better than everybody else that's the attitude right so get ultra tactical for me how do you go from where you were not without the genetics to be the bodybuilder like what are people listening right now they want to make that kind of change they want to radically alter so physique you realize that it's never the skills and tactics it's always this you know because I could give people the best work and the best nutrition plan in the world and so many people still seem to fall short so I've started reverting back to these you know one of my six pillars is mindset it's the mental mastery game so what does that look like right it's it's one stopping the story you're telling yourself and when you do that and you just take action so I create a list of daily action items right so I have an action plan so I'll talk to you on the phone and I'll be like you Tom one of the things that holding you back and all you don't have to tell me I'll pull it out of your words and I'll be like okay well here's the things I need you to do every day are you willing to do that and for most people it's starting with small victories right it's starting with came out I need you to wake up every morning and no matter where you are in the world I need you to go outside I need you to walk at least 20 minutes ideally 60 minutes can you do that yes okay I need you to breathe can you do that five minutes a day can you do that yes okay let's start there right and maybe we do a small a couple small elimination from your nutrition plan can you start there and then like after a few days of like hey man I feel good about this what's next and then we start building on this habit stacking right we start building on those small victories and I don't say those those two habits you know haphazardly I think those are the two that I think everyone should start with so like people people come to me for like you know I want to build a bunch of muscle okay here's your first month walk and breathe like what yeah if you can't do those things one consistently how do you expect to pass and succeed it at a workout program to the parasympathetic influence right so walking and breathing one walking is correlated with improve motivation increased dopamine increased neuroplasticity all these things that are gonna help your brain grow and improve your psychological state and breathing as I said earlier it was like it's the gateway into this parasympathetic state so the calming down your stress the ability to recover if you can't do those things for 30 days how do you expect to succeed over 2 5 and 10 years you can't so it's always human beings tend to complicate things right so I want people to start looking at the simplest common denominator and I'm the I'm the biggest fit and what I was a kid fight well you know you're gonna professional body what someone's told me to walk and laugh walking's for old people I take my kids on walks now because this bilateral stimulation has been correlated with connecting the hemispheres in the brain allowing your brain to work more clearly allowing your brain to improve dopamine secretion improve neuroplasticity so there's so many benefits to that walk at the you know the zero hour as soon as you wake up she was on out the door it doesn't have to be hard it just has to be done and progressive it's like you know at some point you want to get to the pole or something you're walking like somebody's chasing you but it's all run if you want to run but again it becomes a it becomes a mindful practice it becomes like can I turn this thing into something that's meditative so anyone sitting at home with it with a conversation around where they can't start there no matter what the goal is like even if you're going I want to build an awesome business good walk because if you can't do that you're never gonna meditate you're never gonna journal you're never gonna do the financial things you need to do the simplest thing man if you don't pay attention to your health everything else is gonna falter yeah for sure what are some basic things you have people do to there died he said maybe elimination or things so depending how hardcore people are how far down the line they are like I usually eat like a very small number of foods I just need more of them and I think this idea of variety is relevant but only within a small subcategory of foods so I'll list out the foods that I often you know you wild meat so like red meat fish don't eat a lot of chicken and turkey even though people think that's better I you know any type of wild meat that I can find I eat green organic green vegetables ate a lot of berries olive oil avocado coconut oil coffee and chocolate intention chocolate that was not the one I like without sugar added polyphenols yeah so I'm a big fan of adding polyphenols into the diet for brain health and longevity in the nervous system so a lot of those foods are in there for polyphenols olive oil included many benefits to olive oil those are my foods and I'll just eat varying amounts and occasionally all I didn't sweet potatoes like so it's pretty much a ketogenic diet but if I feel like I'm training hard or if I want to have a sweet potato because I feel like having a sweet potato I will write and things I eliminate our grains and dairy and corn and soy and women all that stuff it's just inflammatory right I don't think it's necessary so that's the simplest way to do it is people always looking for the new miraculous diet they want to follow as Aikido is it vegan is it carnivore is it God whatever I think it depends man like where are you in the season of life so in summer time it's a different season than winter in stressful times it's different than when you're in abundance you know man like everything needs to change according to physiology so in in my nutrition training I teach people strategies I teach them like you know how to actually think their way through like hey this is where I'm in life a lot of that has to do with how hard am i training right now what is my goal right now what's the season of life right now is it sunny outside because that's a very different thing that if it's not right so your body's gonna respond very very differently man so those are those are some of the kind of strategies and tactics what are some high level things like seasonality that's one so what do you do different in the summer versus the winter well so vitamin D has a huge impact on your body's ability to use carbohydrate so if you're getting a lot of sunshine you can increase your carbohydrate significantly so that's a big one so in the wintertime maybe it makes more sense evolutionarily to have more meat and more fat because you may have had access to animals but you man had access to bananas and pineapples so taking your way through that and you can significantly decrease your protein and taking your fat intake in the summertime right so it's a cyclical approach that's you know the simplest thing you can do and then you know subsequent to that where's your stress if your stress is elevated most people on a ketogenic diet that actually can add to your stress right so if carbohydrates are actually a great way to modulate stress in the body so as cortisol goes up if we bring insulin or carbohydrate up typical course all comes down your body can use carbohydrate and insulin to actually modulate cortisol so if we have a high amount of stress maybe it's a good way to help us bring stress down you know and I'll use that strategically to sleep so if someone has a racing mind at night and they can't calm themselves down there's a few things you can do to start calming down you system carbohydrate being one of them anything it's a GABA agonist being another one said GABA is a neurotransmitter in the brain that can help to calm down that racing mind so some supplement examples would be GABA as an example glutamate or a good amine or glycine or taurine is a good example so those are good supplements that help you calm people down to kind of bring into that more parasympathetic state before bed mm-hmm you said you don't eat a lot of chicken and turkey why not well the quality of it in America is very poor right there typically eating soy and corn so they can be high and more omega-6 fats even so most people like chicken and turkey or better I'm lucky you know fish great great great fast ratios and then wild meats gonna have because they're fed on grass or wild things they're gonna have a better ratio fats give me an example of some wild meats venison elk I do eat grass-fed beef I not a lot of anymore bison things that I know where they're coming from and I find some antelope earth I find some moose or kangaroo or something like that and that's just because it's different and it's got a better fat profile and I know it's eating food that's good like I don't want to eat an animal that's eating food that's crappy man in accordance away are not good for us and do you think about calories you counting macros like most people not right like I'm like hey here's your list of foods eat as much as you want and if they need a guidance then yeah of course like hello you can't refute that calories matter at some point but for most people if you just eliminate all the crappy foods they're probably gonna eat less because they're gonna feel better they're gonna be you know actually nourishing their body and not just be hungry all the time of reading empty calories you're gonna be hungry all the time we're insta-love seeing it all over the place you hungry so if we just give them good foods like good meats good fats good vegetables I think it'd just feel better and the likelihood of having to count calories goes down significantly if someone's doing a contest or someone's to get in shape of course like we're gonna we're gonna figure out a way to manage calories right but for average people man just like limit the number of food choices and obviously within within wild meats there's a ton of variety within green vegetables there's a ton of variety within berries is a ton of variety right even with olive oil there's different regions of the world you can get olive oil right so there's a variety within those things and so there's variety within that but it's still just kind of a different subcategory now one thing I want to ask you've talked a lot about that cardio may not be the best way to burn fat what is the best way to burn fat well so I think aerobic fitness is a foundation of everyone's health and if you have a base level of aerobic health then doing intelligent weight training so we're strategically manipulate the density of the workout so Rick I have more space between sets it's gonna have less density if it has less space between sets so less shorter rest period has a more greater density right so that's gonna be more metabolically taxing to the body asking the body to burn more calories during training so that's gonna be a great way to burn fat or high intensity cardio where we're doing something that's really really max effort with short bouts of rest so an example being like a three-to-one ratio so if I'm doing a 20 second high-intensity interval I'm gonna have about a 60 second rest period that's a great place for people to start and and if you're not in very good health take a longer rest period but but before you do any of that create a foundational aerobic fitness right without that like this this general ability to do aerobic exercise at grow big activity your body's not going to digest food well you're not gonna recover well from workouts your brains not going to work well like all those things are just side effects of poor aerobic health if you don't have them you'll have poor recovery in etc all right so I know that you have a lot of programs and stuff around exercise specifically where can people go to find out more about you your programs yes I've got a podcast that's been doing really well and so it's called muscle intelligence call the muscle intelligence podcast which may not be the most accurately named right so it may be more more like something like what you're doing is like I'm trying to find amazing people doing amazing things so when people hear muscle intelligence so like I was just about building muscle it's not it's about so much more it's getting into like all the things that I talk about right ben pakulski comm is currently under construction muscle intelligence comm is about to launch my most recent program is hypertrophy mastery comso hypertrophy being muscle building mastery and it's not even necessarily just for muscle building it's for anyone who wants to learn how to train for your body so I really get into individualization so like you doing a bench press me doing the bench press not the same thing right so walking through everybody partying in like a coarse format where we give tons of great execution tips and great you know how to approach the workout how to approach setting up a setting up your own workout like what orders you should do things like that nice yeah alright if you were gonna have people make one change to their diet or fitness or whatever that would have the biggest impact on their health what would you have them change coming back to the stuff we talked about at the beginning it's learning how to become present so sometimes it's just like stopping for a second and feeling it's maybe just pay attention to the sounds the sights the way your body feels and your breath and just do that and like rather than blocking things out like take a second to feel the tension in your body take a second to feel the breath take a second to hear the sounds in the room and it's become present and I think the ability to do that if you start with those micro increments over time eventually they become longer and eventually hopefully it becomes your whole life or you can become present become thoughtful become you know very very present your ability to articulate yourself so that you know that starts everything because if you want to make a change in your life it has to start with being present because 95% of our activity after 35 is unconscious so how do we become present enough to make a change because it's so challenging nothing's hard it's challenging to become present enough to change and that's what people lack thank you so much for being on the show she had guys if you haven't already be sure to subscribe and until next time my friends be legendary take care thank you guys so much for watching and being a part of this community if you haven't already be sure to subscribe you're gonna get weekly videos on building a growth mindset cultivating grit and unlocking your full potential


  1. Excellent mindset.

  2. If you can’t, now you must: legendary words I will write down now and remember

  3. Wow! One of the best !!!

  4. At first I thought this is just another theoretical, talk-a-lot-of-sh*t channel, but now I see I was wrong. There's a lot to learn from it. And when I finished watching this, I thought of one thing only: imagine combining this guys strategic thinking (personas) and David Goggins drive and obsession.. combination of calmness and wild aggression. Wow… And that's exactly what I'll implement in my life.

  5. Best interview ever.

  6. Tom’s bigger than Ben in the ears. 👂
    Sorry…just had to say it.

  7. 💕🤙🏻 Great interview. Keep The Attitude of Gratitude! 😏

  8. Ben Pakulski is a very awesome guy and the knowledge he has is expending everyday 👌🏼👍🏼

  9. Excellent! Bumped into this guy years ago in Toronto. Very powerful info here and great to see Ben going beyond bodybuilding. Tom, you rock!

  10. Its NOT summoning avatars lol! Its just adjusting your vibration and renewing your mind so you can flow presently in the current moment. Just like Bruce Lee said: Its like a finger pointing a way to the moon. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot.”Water can flow, or it can crash. Be water my friend.

  11. Tom Bilyeu is amazing once again with the ability to become one with the person being interviewed. Tom takes the time to learn what makes them tick beforehand to elevate the experience during the interview. With each episode I think, “this was it!!! This episode was speaking directly to me on ways to improve my life.” And here we are at 21:06 (not even finished with B-Pak’s episode) and I feel this feeling again. Thanks Tom and IT for another reality check and life improvement episode! They just keep getting better and there is no better interviewer than Tom Bilyeu. I vote Tom as 2019’s most impactful person of the year!

  12. "To show people that you actually care about them…"
    I wish I saw more people come to these realizations.

  13. Wow! Thanks Tom for showing the world a real man.

  14. A "yogi" that eats meat? cmon man

    Very good man and insightful interview btw. I will definitely look more into him and his work

  15. DAMN this huge, beautiful man is amazing!! 💖

  16. "Trumps" ———— Re-elect President Donald Trump in 2020 !!!!

  17. I am so great full since by by nature I am what he is talking about… Most of the time I focus on myself other than focus on others. I always being on present and enjoy the moments. Always focus on good in others, for that reason I never have any complaints about others. Love all! Serve all! Doing meditation and yoga will always help us to be very healthy person.

  18. Do you plan on inviting Lyle Mc Donald one day? It might be interesting.

  19. There's no evidence that soy and corn is bad for you, Keto nonsense. His mentality for me is spot on but nutritionally he lost me.

  20. I really appreciate the topics separated in a different section. However could you please make it go away once it touches a specific topic, cause it a little distracting. Great video again btw!

  21. Bilyeu's most articulate guest, ever? BOOM. 👍

  22. Thank you for this interview/episode, Tom!

  23. We live in a decadent society. "We are love"????? Well maybe currently but that all can change in a blink of an eye. Humans are evil as well.

  24. Really needed to hear this, so glad I’ve come across this video. Thank you!

  25. Up there with Goggins, loved it ❤

  26. This was excellent. I’d love a breakdown of meditation, how does one meditate on thoughts when we have to teach our body to focus on being present/our breathing

  27. Wow Ben is so knowledgeable and great story teller…. I really want more. Thank u Tom for bringing these inspiring lessons to available,
    You fan from Montreal 🇨🇦

  28. Wow. For a moment thought Thanos from the marvel universe had come into Tom's studio's. But what a insightful speech with loads of useful material.

  29. Not the biggest “body” builder, but the biggest “ego” builder…

    It’s all about him? His body, but nothing about doing something useful for somebody else?

    What a Fake…

  30. Excellent Episode! Thank You Ben and Tom and Impact Team!! Ben the Gem!!!

  31. He has a Polish work ethic. You can tell

  32. This is awesome

  33. Awesome video as always Tom really loving it!!. Man you need to put ASAP a translator for the make of subtitles in spanish it is the 2nd most spoken language in the world and a lot of ppl are missing out this amazing videos because of that.

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