My number one goal is always to perform to the best of my ability. I’m a U.S. Marine, and I aim to be physically fit because my profession requires it. I also believe that strong and healthy people are harder to kill and more useful in general. I’m not saying strength and health is the only thing that matters, however, everyone should aim to become more resilient, mentally, and physically.
United States Marine (U.S. Military).
Many people struggle with losing weight. Are the challenges as simple as a fitness issue or is it more of an underlying health issue?
There are many reasons someone may have trouble losing weight. It is a multilayered issue and should be addressed with multilayered solutions. For most people, it is a matter of building new habits, tailored to their lifestyle, that help chop away at the weight slowly but consistently. In many cases, I take an inverse approach—to develop a good habit first before addressing or removing a bad one. For example, if a client likes to drink a lot of soda or fruit juice, instead of advising cutting back on the sugary drinks, I instead encourage to drink more water. In doing so, the client ends up drinking fewer sugary drinks, because they feel full and hydrated.
What would be your top 3 tips you would provide to someone who is struggling to lose weight?
Before I address the top three, let’s address “losing weight”. Shifting the mindset from getting to a certain number on the scale to instead looking and performing a certain way is important. The number on the scale is not as important as the percentage of body fat in the body.
- First, add then subtract.
- Micro goals are your friend. If someone is trying to lose 40 lbs, that seems like a large obstacle to tackle. Instead, focus on losing your first pound, then the next, and the next. Likewise, if you’re trying to build good habits, instead of changing or adding 5 new habits, focus on getting consistent with one habit, then add another habit and another, etc.
- Strength training over cardio. People tend to go the cardio route to lose weight. Strength training is more effective. Muscles require calories, even at rest. Therefore, building muscle will make your body a calorie-eating machine. During a cardio session, you will burn most of the calories during the session. However, building muscle will burn a lot of calories, even at rest, which will help you lose the fat and keep it off.
If you have 100 tokens in total and you could apply them to the following categories, how many would you apply to each?
- Fitness level: 40
- Health level: 60
Thoughts on HIIT, Powerlifting, TRX, Yoga, bodybuilding, and others?
HIIT: It is a very effective way to challenge the body mentally and physically. Mentally: you aim to push harder even though the mind wants you to stop.
Powerlifting: My stance is not very liked. I think powerlifting is one of the least effective/useful fitness disciplines. Especially with the bench portion of the sport, it has become a contest of who can manipulate their body more to reduce the distance the bar has to travel. I think strongman training and competitions are much more effective, useful, and impressive.
TRX: A perfect way to do fitness in small spaces and with little resources.
Yoga: Underrated. Most people should incorporate some sort of yoga into their life. It builds excellent body awareness, balance, joint health, and core strength.
Bodybuilding: A lot of people started their fitness journey with bodybuilding. However, I believe bodybuilding has developed unrealistic, and unhealthy expectations for a lot of people. Though they are very aesthetically impressive, the sport itself does not necessarily promote healthy habits. From cutting carbs, to cheat meals, to reducing water weight, to achieving single-digit body fat percentages, it can lead to a bad relationship between nutrition and body dysmorphia.
How did your passion for fitness start? And what was the biggest challenge you faced on your journey?
My passion started when I was growing up. I grew up in very tough neighbourhoods where being weak made you a target. I had to become mentally and physically tough and resilient. As I grew older, my passion for fitness shifted to performing for military training and deployments. Now, my passion is to show others how to become physically and mentally strong so that they can conquer life’s challenges with confidence.
While I was deployed to Iraq, I was injured in combat, which has led to some other injuries in my career. I am a Purple Heart recipient because of those injuries. The biggest challenge I’ve had to face is the wear and tear on my body from military training over time. Luckily, my fitness has helped me stay relatively healthy, but injuries do occur. Injuries have set me back, but I always come back stronger.
Share your unique training/coaching methods?
I coach others by not just training them but teaching them. My goal for each one of my clients is that they are self-sufficient after working with me and do not need me anymore. Every trainer should be working to teach their clients. I aim to coach my clients out of needing me.
For my own personal training plan: I’m currently training for The Tactical Games, which is a combination of functional fitness, obstacles, and weapons competition.
I eat very cleanly. I have a lot of beef and chicken, potatoes, and a lot of fruit.
I don’t take many supplements, not even protein powder. However, if I were to take any, the best and cleanest I’ve seen out there is Jocko Fuel.
Do you prefer to take and recommend all-natural (no sugar, no artificial colours/flavours/sweeteners) supplements or supplements with artificial flavours and sweeteners? And Why?
This is another controversial topic but here goes nothing…
- Artificial colours: Most likely not good for the body.
- Artificial flavour: Also probably not good for the body.
- Artificial sweeteners: This is the controversial part. There is plenty of research that suggests some artificial sweeteners are effective for fat loss without causing unnecessary harm to the body.
Please describe the importance of mental health?
Mental health is extremely important. With all of the exposure to negativity, and issues in the world, mental resilience is a necessity. Without it, we can end up in a downward spiral, which can lead to gastrointestinal problems, anxiety, lack of self-worth, and eventually suicide. Though physical fitness is not the sole answer, it is a piece of the puzzle that helps develop a positive mindset and resilience. The endorphins released during physical fitness can lead to better mental health outcomes.
Take us through a typical day in your life for you?
- 5:30 AM: Wake up, drink lemon water and wake up the body with some stretching and movement.
- 6:00 AM: Check Marine Corps Emails and Semper Stronger (my fitness company) emails.
- 7:00 AM: Put my Marine Corps uniform on and drive to the military base.
- 7:30 AM – 4:30 PM: On the base (Marine Corps responsibilities) + lunch
- 5:00 PM: Work out
- 6:30 PM: Eat dinner
- 7:00 PM: Semper Stronger responsibilities and any other Marine Corps preparations for the next day.
- 8:30 PM: Read, write, or do something to relax the mind.
- 9:30 PM: Prepare for the next day and wind down;
- 10:30 PM: This is the time I aim to be in bed.
If you could ask Status Fitness Magazine Editor-in-Chief Rodney Jang any industry question, what would that be?
We both want to help make people stronger, better versions of themselves. How can we work together to make that happen at a macro level?
I also want to help the military, veterans, and first responders by providing them with physical and mental health resources so that they key be at the top of their game and continue to do their job of protecting us. How can we work together to make that happen at a macro level?
Status Fitness Magazine runs model searches across North America including the largest one at the Arnold Classic for the Status cover. As part of the Status family, you will receive a special participation invite. How excited are you for this opportunity?
Very excited about this opportunity.
Describe your coaches and the impact they have on you?
I have two coaches:
- My wife Rebecca – is not only an incredible athlete, but she also challenges me to be better—a better Marine, a better husband, a better leader, and a better human being.
- Adversity: I wouldn’t be where I am today without adversity. I’ve learned more from bad situations, bad leaders, and bad times than I have from good ones. Life is a good coach, adversity is a better one.
Do you have a sponsor?
Origin Maine, Jocko Fuel, Bullit USA. Though I don’t make any money from them, I support them fully. My company, Semper Stronger (semperstronger.com) works closely with these companies to provide resources for those who need them.
Can you share with us your goals for fitness and life?
My goal is to keep becoming a better version of myself. To have a high quality of life, and to help others be resilient.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
This too shall pass. It doesn’t matter how tough times can get, they will eventually pass. Most times, it is up to the individual to decide how long that tough time will affect their life. Shorten the amount of time spent in the “tough” territory and lengthen the times in the “good” territory, because with enough time, even good things shall pass.
What most important attributes do you see in a person?
Consistency: from leadership to performance to personality, consistency is crucial. I much rather work for someone who is always angry than for someone who is hot and cold without warning.
If you could inspire one person, who would that be? And why?
I would want to inspire the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition. The head of that council is in charge of promoting healthy eating and physical activity for all Americans. It’s a council that needs to have more power and visibility in this country.
Who inspires you? And why?
Wounded Warriors who overcome their disabilities with a positive mental attitude, and grit. When I feel like things are tough, picturing their struggles puts my life into perspective.
What is your number one tip for people on their fitness journey?
Discipline builds habits. There are going to be times when you don’t want to work out. However, overcoming those thoughts and going anyway will eventually be the determining factor to your success. If you’re contemplating starting, just start. Count down from 5 to 1 and in that time, make the decision to start. Then, do it again the next day, and the next. Don’t focus on the massive goal, focus on the micro-goals.
What does success look like for you?
Being better today than I was yesterday. Being better tomorrow than I am today.
What is your favourite quote to live by?
“This, too, shall pass.” & “There’s no replacement for hard work.”
Connect with Joel: IG